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The Toronto school board lost the plot and misguidedly rejected these books



On a grey and damp weekday morning, Marie Henein doesn’t appear her usual Goth chic self.

She isn’t even wearing those trademark stiletto heels that give her added height in a courtroom, and make her look a feminist formidable.

The cover photo of her new autobiography, however, is classic Marie: Shiny silver designer pant suit, killer shoes, spiky raven hair, heavily kohled eyes. Looking very much like an Egyptian-born, Lebanese-Arab-Canadian, cross-wired with punk.

It’s the book, “Nothing But The Truth: A Memoir,” that has Henein in a huff.

Well, not huffy about the book.

It provides a deep dive into personal history — the making of a brilliant criminal lawyer — and reflections on the justice system.

She’s huffy about the book’s outrageous rejection by the Toronto District School Board, because — let’s be honest here — Henein had the temerity to defend, successfully, TV host Jian Ghomeshi on sexual assault charges.

Utterly dismantled the three complainants in masterly cross-examination, exposing them as prevaricators and colluders.

The presiding judge had no choice but to acquit.

For which, apparently, this scrappy feminist can never be forgiven, in some quarters.

“I’m a feminist who thinks everybody is entitled to a defence,” Henein says over coffee.

Hardly a radical concept. Yet too off-key and — what, triggering? — for teenage girls who participate in monthly sessions of the Room of Your Own book club. Even though Ghomeshi isn’t once mentioned in the book, although she refers to the case obliquely in three pages. It’s not a professional memoir; it’s personal, heavy on the widely-shared immigrant saga, the influence of family and the otherness of growing up as a racial minority who made her bones in a WASP-y establishment profession.

“Nothing But The Truth” was recently given the heave-ho by the school board’s equity department.

Book club founder Tanya Lee was straight out told that the hard-no related directly to Henein’s defence of Ghomeshi, which was the wrong message to send to girls.

The upshot is that the 200 books Henein donated to the club are stacked in Lee’s home. There’s been no conversation between Lee and teachers — this is the norm before a book is discussed with club members — and no space provided on any school property for this particular book and its author. Teachers and principals would not promote the book either.

(The equity star chamber at the same time also nixed an event that had been scheduled for February with Nadia Murad, a Nobel Prize-winner and activist. “The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against Captivity” about Murad’s abduction by the Islamic State, a terrorist group, whom she was held by for three months, was memoir-non-grata for potentially fostering Islamophobia.

“This is pure censorship,” Lee tells the Star, about the ghosting of Henein.

“They said, this is because she defended Jian Ghomeshi. Those were the exact words.”

The inanity of it, particularly when her four-year book club is directed most especially at girls from low-income families who might not be able to afford books, left Lee almost speechless. This is a voluntary passion for her; she’s keenly attuned to the girls’ sensitivity.

“The book club is a safe space for young women. They know they are loved and they know they are respected. And they’re there to celebrate it.”

The insult to the girls’ intelligence, far more than to her own integrity, deeply dismays Henein.

“I was very taken aback. I was taken aback and profoundly frustrated that they clearly had made that decision without even opening the first page, which would tell you what’s coming.

“I was taken aback that five years later (the Ghomeshi trial was in 2016), educators were not going to make a decision that was principled or informed.

“I was taken aback that the fact that I’m a defence lawyer and I believe in the presumption of innocence makes me toxic to young people.

“I don’t understand the thinking of that.’’

Scolding and shaming from self-described feminists over representing Ghomeshi doesn’t much bother Henein, although she’s disturbed about women attacking women. “I don’t feel the need to explain to anybody what my views are. My concern is, honestly, if they’re saying that you somehow are a traitor to your gender — it’s such a gender comment, first of all — and it’s very negative.

“Here’s the problem and I really struggle with it: It is not a good look for us to be fighting amongst each other. All it does is give people the ability to dismiss … dismiss women. It’s not productive in a public way to get into a mudslinging. It doesn’t achieve anything.”

Henein, besides being one of the country’s top litigators, has taught law for years. She recognizes it can be an arcane subject for those who’ve never stepped foot in a courtroom. She has issues with gender bias in the law. This book club date was expressly intended to illuminate, to dispel the stuffiness.

“It was just an opportunity to speak to young girls and, (I hope), there would be some immigrants there, who, like me, had never met a lawyer, who didn’t understand what the career path was. We often feel out of our depth. It’s nice to talk to somebody. How goes it? What would I have to do?

“I can talk about the variety of careers in law, about young girls being aspirational.”

At one university speaking engagement, before the book was published a month ago, Henein was gobsmacked when the organizers went on stage first to tell the audience that crisis counsellors were in attendance.

Why would you need crisis counsellors? Henein asked. “Oh, you know, because if someone is triggered by what you say.”

Oy, for the love of baby Jesus!

“I think the problem is that universities are so nervous about any sort of critical thought and anyone objecting, as though education must always be unobjectionable. It must be something we all agree with, and, that, if you tell someone something they’re going to be alarmed and triggered, and that would be devastating.

“It’s patronizing and profoundly patriarchal.

“It’s profoundly dismissive of our intellect and our ability to withstand discussion.

“It’s absolutely awful.”

Last Friday, after Henein’s (and Murad’s) censorship by the TDSB became public, the board attempted to backtrack. Colleen Russell-Rawlins, director of education, issued a statement described as a “clarification.”

It read, in part: “An opinion that did not reflect the position of the Toronto District School Board was shared with the organizer of the book club prior to staff having an opportunity to read the books, something that is routinely done before giving them to students. Staff are currently reading both books and anticipate being able to add them to the list of titles used in the corresponding course(s).”

Except, notes Lee, “nothing like this has ever happened before.”

Henein received a personal apology.

On Thursday, board spokesperson Ryan Bird added, in a phone conversation with the Star: “It’s clear the book wasn’t read. I can assure you it’s being read now.”

Thursday afternoon, the book club assembled virtually, around 70 teenage girls, with Henein as their guest speaker. A sampling of their questions:

“How do we get the public/social media to understand that a person who is found not guilty in our court system should be considered innocent?”

“Do you feel, with all that has happened with the Indigenous and Blacks, that people have a great distrust of the legal system?”

“Is it hard to represent people who have different beliefs than you do?”

“Have you ever dealt with a case where the person on trial was obviously guilty and you had to defend them?”

Sharp cookies, those girls.

And nobody was harmed in the making of this Zoom.

Correction — Nov. 19, 2021: The web headline for this article was updated to clarify that the book was rejected, not banned.

Rosie DiManno is a Toronto-based columnist covering sports and current affairs for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno


Woman passenger from UK tests Covid positive at Hyderabad airport



Hyderabad: A 35-year-old international passenger who reached the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here on Wednesday has tested positive for Covid-19 after undergoing an RT-PCR test at the airport itself. The woman passenger had traveled from the United Kingdom, which has been categorised as an ‘At Risk Country’. 

The passenger has been admitted to the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) and samples were collected and sent for genetic sequencing. Officials said she did not have any symptoms and that her health condition was being monitored closely. 

According to officials, the woman hails from Rangareddy district and was on a visit to UK from Hyderabad. Though her close relatives tested negative, their health condition is also being monitored. 

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Revealed: how Sidney Powell could be disbarred for lying in court for Trump | US elections 2020



Sidney Powell, the former lawyer for Donald Trump who filed lawsuits across America for the former president, hoping to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, has on several occasions represented to federal courts that people were co-counsel or plaintiffs in her cases without seeking their permission to do so, the Guardian has learned.

Some of these individuals say that they only found out that Powell had named them once the cases were already filed.

During this same period of time, Powell also named several other lawyers – with their permission in those instances – as co-counsel in her election-related cases, despite the fact that they played virtually no role whatsoever in bringing or litigating those cases.

Both Powell’s naming of other people as plaintiffs or co-counsel without their consent and representing that other attorneys were central to her cases when, in fact, their roles were nominal or nonexistent, constitute serious potential violations of the American Bar Association model rules for professional conduct, top legal ethicists told the Guardian.

Powell’s misrepresentations to the courts in those particular instances often aided fundraising for her nonprofit, Defending the Republic. Powell had told prospective donors that the attorneys were integral members of an “elite strike force” who had played outsized roles in her cases – when in fact they were barely involved if at all.

A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020.
A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Powell did not respond to multiple requests for comment via phone, email, and over social media.

The State Bar of Texas is already investigating Powell for making other allegedly false and misleading statements to federal courts by propagating increasingly implausible conspiracy theories to federal courts that Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States was illegitimate.

The Texas bar held its first closed-door hearing regarding the allegations about Powell on 4 November. Investigations by state bar associations are ordinarily conducted behind closed doors and thus largely opaque to the public.

A federal grand jury has also been separately investigating Powell, Defending the Republic, as well as a political action committee that goes by the same name, for fundraising fraud, according to records reviewed by the Guardian.

Among those who have alleged that Powell falsely named them as co-counsel is attorney Linn Wood, who brought and litigated with Powell many of her lawsuits attempting to overturn the results of the election with her, including in the hotly contested state of Michigan.

The Michigan case was a futile attempt by Powell to erase Joe Biden’s victory in that state and name Trump as the winner. On 25 August, federal district court Judge Linda Parker, of Michigan, sanctioned Powell and nine other attorneys who worked with her for having engaged in “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” in bringing the case in the first place. Powell’s claims of election fraud, Parker asserted, had no basis in law and were solely based on “speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion”.

Parker further concluded that the conduct of Powell, Wood, and the eight other attorneys who they worked with, warranted a “referral for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment to the appropriate disciplinary authority for each state … in which each attorney is admitted”.

Wood told the court in the Michigan case that Powell had wrongly named him as one of her co-counsel in the Michigan case. During a hearing in the case to determine whether to sanction Wood, his defense largely rested on his claim that he had not been involved in the case at all. Powell, Wood told the court, had put his name on the lawsuit without her even telling him.

A man holds a sign reading "The dead cannot vote" at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Trump supporters attend a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, where Sidney Powell spoke on efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Wood said: “I do not specifically recall being asked about the Michigan complaint … In this case obviously my name was included. My experience or my skills apparently were never needed, so I didn’t have any involvement with it.”

Wood’s attorney, Paul Stablein, was also categorical in asserting that his client had nothing to do with the case, telling the Guardian in an interview: “He didn’t draft the complaint. He didn’t sign it. He did not authorize anyone to put his name on it.”

Powell has denied she would have ever named Wood as a co-counsel without Wood’s permission.

But other people have since come forward to say that Powell has said that they were named as plaintiffs or lawyers in her election-related cases without their permission.

In a Wisconsin voting case, a former Republican candidate for Congress, Derrick Van Orden, said he only learned after the fact that he had been named as a plaintiff in one of Powell’s cases.

“I learned through social media today that my name was included in a lawsuit without my permission,” Van Orden said in a statement he posted on Twitter, “To be clear, I am not involved in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in Wisconsin.”

Jason Shepherd, the Republican chairman of Georgia’s Cobb county, was similarly listed as a plaintiff in a Georgia election case without his approval.

In a 26 November 2020 statement, Shepherd said he had been talking to an associate of Powell’s prior to the case’s filing about the “Cobb GOP being a plaintiff” but said he first “needed more information to at least make sure the executive officers were in agreeing to us being a party in the suit”. The Cobb County Republican party later agreed to remain plaintiffs in the case instead of withdrawing.

Leslie Levin, a professor at the University of Connecticut Law School, said in an interview: “Misrepresentations to the court are very serious because lawyers are officers of the court. Bringing a lawsuit in someone’s name when they haven’t consented to being a party is a very serious misrepresentation and one for which a lawyer should expect to face serious discipline.”

Nora Freeman Engstrom, a law professor at Stanford University, says that Powell’s actions appear to violate Rule 3.3 of the ABA’s model rules of professional misconduct which hold that “a lawyer shall not knowingly … make a false statement of fact of law to a tribunal”.

Since election day last year, federal and state courts have dismissed more than 60 lawsuits alleging electoral fraud and irregularities by Powell, and other Trump allies.

Shortly after the election, Trump named Powell as a senior member of an “elite strike force” who would prove that Joe Biden only won the 2020 presidential race because the election was stolen from him. But Trump refused to pay her for her services. To remedy this, Powell set up a new nonprofit called Defending the Republic; its stated purpose is to “protect the integrity of elections in the United States”.

As a nonprofit, the group is allowed to raise unlimited amounts of “dark money” and donors are legally protected from the ordinary requirements to disclose their identities to the public. Powell warned supporters that for her to succeed, “millions of dollars must be raised”.

Echoing Trump’s rhetoric, Powell told prospective donors that Defending the Republic had a vast team of experienced litigators.

Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Among the attorneys who Powell said made up this “taskforce” were Emily Newman, who had served Trump as the White House liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services and as a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security. Newman had been a founding board member of Defending the Republic.

But facing sanctions in the Michigan case, some of the attorneys attempted to distance themselves from having played much of a meaningful role in her litigation.

Newman’s attorney told Parker, the judge, that Newman had “not played a role in the drafting of the complaint … My client was a contract lawyer working from home who spent maybe five hours on this matter. She really wasn’t involved … Her role was de minimis.”

To have standing to file her Michigan case, Powell was initially unable to find a local attorney to be co-counsel on her case but eventually attorney Gregory Rohl agreed to help out.

But when Rohl was sanctioned by Parker and referred to the Michigan attorney disciplinary board for further investigation, his defense was that he, too, was barely involved in the case. He claimed that he only received a copy of “the already prepared” 830-page initial complaint at the last minute, reviewed it for “well over an hour”, while then “making no additions, decisions or corrections” to the original.

As with Newman, Parker, found that Rohl violated ethics rules by making little, if any, effort to verify the facts of the claims in Powell’s filings.

In sanctioning Rohl, the judge wrote that “the court finds it exceedingly difficult to believe that Rohl read an 830-page complaint in just ‘well over an hour’ on the day he filed it. So, Rohl’s argument in and of itself reveals sanctionable conduct.”

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Govt to introduce important Bill, Covid situation likely to be discussed



The government on Thursday will table ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill 2021’ in the Lok Sabha. A discussion on Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its various related aspects is also likely to take place in the lower House.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will move the ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill’ in the Lok Sabha to amend the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act, 1998.

Under rule 193, a discussion on Covid-19 pandemic and various aspects related to it will likely take place. According to sources, the members may also raise their concern and ask for the government’s preparedness for the new Omicron variant. Under Rule 193, members can seek details about the new Covid variant. “Short duration discussion is likely to be held in the Lok Sabha on the Covid and its various aspects, including new Omicron variant,” sources said.

Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Prahlad Singh Patel, General V.K. Singh, Krishan Pal, Bhanu Pratap Verma, Rameshwar Teli and Kaushal Kishore will lay papers on the table. Reports and action reports of different standing committees will also be laid in the day.

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Amendment) Bill 2021 (ART) by voice vote as the amendments moved by the DMK MP N.K. Prem Chandran, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy and Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut were negated. The ART Bill seeks to regulate fertility clinics. All such clinics will have to be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India.

The opposition is likely to continue to raise its voices on price rise, unemployment and extended jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in some states. The opposition parties are also demanding a law guaranteeing the minimum support price (MSP).

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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