Thursday 28 September 2017

Innocence Canada hosting 4th Annual Wrongful Conviction Day Reception


5:30 7:30 p.m
Convocation Hall
Law Society of Upper Canada, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario

Toronto, Ontario: This October 2, 2017, people from around the globe will come together in recognition of the wrongly convicted. Innocence Canada, along with the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), will be hosting its 4th annual Wrongful Conviction Day (WCD) reception. The reception will be attended by many of the wrongly convicted, their family members, Innocence Canada Board and Foundation members, staff, volunteers, members, sponsors, funders, donors and members of the public at large.
The highlight of the evening will be the introduction and acknowledgement of the wrongly convicted and their families. Some of the exonerees that will be attending are David Milgaard, Réjean Hinse, Leighton Hay, Anthony Hanemaayer, Jamie Nelson, Tammy Marquardt, Rob Baltovich, John Artis and Maria Shepherd. We are honoured to have Ontario Attorney General, Yasir Naqvi, and David Miller, former Mayor of Toronto, who will each offer short remarks. A keynote speech will be given by renowned criminal lawyer, Marie Henein, who had this to say about wrongful convictions.
“Wrongful convictions remind us of how painfully human our legal system is-and how in these times, we must remain uncompromising and unyielding in protecting those foundational principles that seek to counterbalance our inevitable fallibility.” – Marie Henein
During the evening’s program, the annual Rubin ‘HurricaneCarter Champion of Justice Award will be presented by one of Innocence Canada’s Founders, James Lockyer and exoneree, John Artis, Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter’s co-accused. This award is given to an individual or group who has in some significant way helped champion the cause of the wrongly convicted. In addition, The Tracey Tyler Award will be presented by her sister Angela Tyler and Innocence Canada Co-President, Kirk Makin. This award is given to an individual or group who through the news media, documentary or film has through an article or a body of work over years has helped to expose wrongful convictions.
In conjunction with the events taking place around the world there are 18 confirmed landmarks (twice as many as last year) that will illuminate in recognition of WCD. Among these will be the CN Tower, Toronto City Hall Towers, Niagara Falls and the Peace Bridge.

“What started as a trickle three years ago, has tuned into a global movement,” said Ron Dalton, Exoneree and Co-President of Innocence Canada. In addition to illuminations, cities across Canada have signed proclamations declaring October 2nd as WCD."
Since its inception in 1993, Innocence Canada has helped in the exonerations of 21 Canadians. These innocent individuals combined spent more than 190 years in prison. Innocence Canada has 86 cases currently under review and is undertaking a major initiative over the coming year to cut into this backlog.

For more information and interview requests for exonerees and Innocence Canada representatives please contact:
Win Wahrer
Toll free: 1-800-249-1329 x227
In Toronto: 416-504-7500 x 227, Cell: 416-459-2065 

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Paparazzi advice on how to get a picture of Machel Montano (and avoid a selfie stick up the butt).

Machel Montano about to be mobbed by media

It is a paparazzi thing I picked up by observation in Beverly Hills. When I need an uncluttered shot of a superstar without other photographers elbowing me out of the way, get the celeb just as he or she steps out of the car BEFORE the waiting throng smell celebrity blood.

Fresh. The smile is genuine and if I am lucky I might get a quote before I get jabbed out of the way by selfie sticks and deafened by blown-out lungs yelling "Machel. Machel. Please. Please. Look this way?"
Such was the case earlier this week when I attended the gala launch party for the 12th annual CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) in downtown Toronto. Standing around the organizers with my big ears on alert I heard the Walkie Talkie crackle that The King of Soca, Trinidad's Machel Montano was in an Uber on College Street and would soon be here! Tonight 'here' was a closed sidestreet near the Royal Theatre, home of CTFF. The fete was in full party mode with Mas models in skimpy costumes, steel drums drumming and a hundred Caribbean Canadian celebs and media with cameras and phones raised high.
Machel and I have met several times. When I helped him out of the Uber I reminded him of our history. He pretended that he remembered and agreed to pose for a single picture, which instantly tells the night's story.

Here is a happy confident guy who has performed for millions, including Obama, and knows there is nothing he can't handle at the CTFF premier of his feature length film; Machel Montano: Journey of A Soca King.

Pstt - Theatre is across the street Machel!
If you have never heard of the Trinidad singer Machel Montano, it means you most likely aren't from the Caribbean. You probably have never jumped up to his Soca classics like Party Done, One Wine and Shake Yuh Bum, or wined and palanced (don't ask if you don't know) to his song It's Carnival at Toronto's Caribana.
For me tonight, he is a Soca hurricane, steps from making landfall. As we talk I see him mentally preparing for his entrance. No one in Little Italy knows him but, once in front of the waiting Caribbean community it's Bacchanalia time.
Never mind that TIFF activities were taking place a few blocks away. For anyone living the diaspora, holding a ticket to the Montano flick is akin to finding Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket.
The demand was so large that an extra screening was quickly arranged for the next night at a Malvern cinema (A Caribbean Canadian neighbourhood in Northeast Toronto). No one seemed to care about what the movie was actually about, what matters is that Machel is in the house.

"Journey of a Soca King chronicles his rise from a child star competing on Star Search, to his reign as a Soca Monarch in Trinidad. The film utilizes never before seen vintage footage to tell the phenomenal story of the "Michael Jackson of the Caribbean", while giving viewers a backstage pass to his 15 high energy, nonstop, live performances during the last 5 days before Carnival Monday 2015 in Trinidad."                IMBD

The film has a strong launch but I want to know what the star thinks about the state of the Caribbean homegrown film business.
"It is exploding, not just in T&T (Trinidad and Tobago) but Jamaica, Grenada and Cuba too. Look at the number of films in this year's festival."
He was right. CaribbeanTales has been trying to introduce to North America's movie industry to feature length films, shorts and TV pilots created with a Caribbean connection. In 2017 there are 17 features and 30 shorts being shown in Toronto between now and September 21st.

St. Lucia's Joseph Marcell and friends at the Gala.
You know him as the Butler on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
photo by Anthony Berot
"There will be more if we can overcome one problem," said Machel. "Money. We need Caribbean investors to believe in us."
Last year Montano's Trini/Bollywood musical feature Bazodee opened CTFF to a huge critical acclaim. The movie then toured the world, selling-out theatres where ever Soca fans are. But, and this a biggie but, the distributor found huge tracts in Canada and US where Soca isn't understood.

Bajan Soca Queen Alison Hinds attended the opening!

"It took us 10 years to make that movie because of a lack of investors. I put my own money into it and I still haven't broken even. We are hoping that a NetFlicks deal will save the day!" Machel told the audience at a talk-back following the film.
" I want to do more movies to get the world turned onto Soca and this could be the movie and the city to do it in."
Organizers of the film festival couldn't agree more. Their mantra? "TIFF shows THE movies but at CTFF we show OUR oeuvre."

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Canadian Jamaican Courtney Betty’s Timeless Herbal Care signs significant with Jamaica re: medical marijuana

Canadian Jamaican Courtney Betty’s Timeless Herbal Care

Government oks restoration of Jamaica’s Bauxite mine lands for cultivation of medical marijuana

For Immediate Release

Toronto, Canada. September 12, 2017 …Timeless Herbal Care (Timeless) a leading Jamaican Nutraceutical /Pharmaceutical company has signed a historical agreement with the Government of Jamaica to grow herbal plants including medical marijuana on previously mined bauxite lands.  The agreement paves the way for Timeless and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute to restore the mined out territory to the benefit of the local community.

The signing late last week in Kingston Jamaica, was hailed by the Minister of Mines, the Honourable Mike Henry, as the fulfillment of his vision to restore the productivity of these lands to the benefit of grassroots communities who now have a chance to control their own destiny. “Timeless Herbal Care has established itself as a company committed to create value added products from Jamaican herbs including our very valuable Jamaican ganja,” said Minister Henry. “Jamaica is positioned to be a leader in medical marijuana and this is a major step in a true public private partnership!”

Minister Henry noted that the farmers will be taught new skills, so that they can produce the plants to internationally accepted standards. The plants to be cultivated are guinea hen weed, moringa, black castor bean, and medical cannabis.

Also speaking the signing ceremony was the Minister of Culture Olivia Babsy Grange who highlighted how Jamaican culture and branding will play a key role in bringing medical marijuana products to  the world. According to Minister Grange “our musical icons such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were visionaries of the healing power of the herb and we are committed to make their vision a reality bringing health and wellness to the world.”

Timeless President and CEO Courtney Betty expressed his joy at reaching this significant agreement with the Government of Jamaica.  According to Mr. Betty; “four years ago Timeless began with a dream of establishing a legal and regulatory framework to make Jamaica the medical marijuana hub of the world.  Having already established the only certified facility for growing medical marijuana in the Caribbean we look forward to bringing our years of experience and knowledge to transform local communities.’”

Timeless also unveiled its partnership with Jamaica’s University of Technology.  The university has created a research unit headed by Dr. Lawrence Williams who was recently awarded a United States patent related to medical marijuana. Timeless is committed to developing true medical products with  proven safety and efficacy based on international medical and pharmaceutical standards.


Timeless Herbal Care is an industry leader in the provision of health and wellness related services though the research and development of medical marijuana products. With operations in Jamaica, Israel, Canada and the United States; world-class experts and years of experience, we are uniquely equipped to supply the overwhelming international demand for medical marijuana products.

Timeless has established strategic partnerships with the University of the West Indies, the Jamaican Ganja Growers & Producers Association, the University of Technology, and Open Vape, a world leader in the development of vaporizers. For further information consult the company’s website at:


Timeless Herbal Care
Courtney Betty
In Jamaica
In US/Canada:
Phone: 416-907-0973
For interviews and pictures
Stephen Weir