1. McNeil doesn’t want any negative talk about assault at border

Positivity Premier Stephen McNeil. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia.

This item was written by Tim Bousquet

CTV reporter Natasha Pace asked McNeil about a provincial worker being assaulted on the border, and the union’s demands that those workers be given better support. McNeil tries to dodge the question by giving that “I thank all the workers” BS response he always gives, and then Pace correctly follows up by bringing it back to the union’s demands. And McNeil says “To me the union has looked at every opportunity to complain and looked to divide.” That exchange starts at the 12:23 mark, through to about 14:15:

YouTube video

Then, at the end of the presser, McNeil doubles down: “There are those out there who thrive on the negative, who misinform to suit their own purposes and distort the facts to divide us. Let’s not let that happen.” That starts at 30:24:

YouTube video
Think about that. A worker is ASSAULTED, and the premier’s response is to attack the union.

2. My name is Demario Chambers. I’m the 15-year-old who was beat up by the cops at the mall in Bedford. This is my story.

Demario Chambers

We’ve heard what happened to Demario Chambers in February this year. Now, we get to hear who Chambers is. Chambers tells us how when he was younger he wanted to be a police officer. He thought of cops as heroes.

But as I got even older, I saw what the cops were doing to people who look like me and it wasn’t right. And even still I wanted to be one due to the fact that I wanted to make a change in the world. But that night and what those cops who are supposed to serve and protect did to me ruined any hope I ever had of being a cop.

We learn more about Chambers beyond what happened that night.

So let me tell you who I really am. My favourite subject is math. I write my very own music. I’ve found that helps me a lot. I get all my inspiration from what I’ve been through in my life, and just day to day living and growth. A lot of people judged me from that day saying that I was just a disrespectful child who was talking back to the police to get a reaction, but that’s so far from the truth. My parents raised me to have manners and respect and to be proud of who I am.

Read the full story here. 

3. Not satire: Halifax police board to consider appointing committee to define defunding

Zane Woodford reports on the Halifax police board meeting where the board was to debate defunding police, but instead they voted to debate appointing a committee to define what defunding the police means. Got that?

At Thursday’s meeting, Public Safety Advisor Amy Siciliano and Youth Advocate Program manager DeRico Symonds gave a presentation to the board on defunding the police. Here’s a slide from the presentation:

The presentation included a definition of defunding: “Reallocating money from Police and reinvesting into: Mental health supports, education, social services, housing, prevention programming, anti-racist education, food security and alternatives to policing.”

Then there was a controversial late addition to the meeting’s agenda:

That the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners adopt a definition of defunding the police that supports a role for policing in HRM that includes:

  • Police performing policing functions
  • Appropriate resources to perform non-police functions
  • Investment in resources that have been proven to support community risks and promote crime prevention.

The motion wasn’t seconded, but Commissioner Carole McDougall put forward an alternative motion that the board would appoint a community advisory committee to define defunding.

Oh, and board commissioner Carlos Beals and Councillor Tony Mancini got into a debate of their own.

Read the full story here.

4. Eastern Passage man killed by police

Anjuli Patil at CBC reports on a man in Eastern Passage who was killed by police Thursday night.

Police responded to a home in the area where the 60-year-old man was found armed with a firearm.

In a news release, RCMP said, “After a short time, the man raised his handgun towards the responding officers. Responding officers discharged their firearms. EHS attended and the man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

SiRT is investigating.

5. The NSHA’s STI clinic is closed. What does that mean for people who need testing?

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.

Rene Ross. Photo: Contributed

The Nova Scotia Healthy Authority’s STI and STD clinic is closed, so Philip Moscovitch talks with a couple of experts on sexual health and what that means for Nova Scotians looking for testing. Moscovitch talks with Rene Ross,  executive director of the Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County, in Amherst. She says the government hasn’t made sexual health a priority and much of the workload for testing is being put onto the Halifax Sexual Health Centre. Ross says getting tested for STIs is especially challenging for those living in rural communities across the province. Says Ross:

If you come to Cumberland County and you have a family doctor and you want to get tested for STIs, the doctor here could do one of a couple of things. Most likely they’re going to just give you a lab requisition and then you’re going to go to Amherst… because that’s where the lab is for the whole county. Now, what was surprising to me was I knew that somebody that got an STI test at a walk-in clinic last year, and usually for a person with a vagina, they would get swabbed at the doctor and the doctor would pass that off. But in some places in the county, they’ll actually give you your swabs and you will take them home, and you will swab yourself, and then you’ll bring that specimen and your piece of paper to the lab at the Amherst hospital.

Garry Dart, the gay men’s health coordinator at the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, says there needs to be more options, including in rural areas.

We need more funding for rural testing sites because right now they are in most places non-existent or completely underfunded. We also need approval and funding for rapid tests which aren’t covered in this province or anywhere, essentially in the Atlantic, as well as home testing kits and having these home testing kits and also testing available in pharmacies. Those are kind of some essential top-level things that we can do to make sexual health a priority and become a more preventative system, and not just a reactive system for when people have symptoms.

Read the full story here.


Working mothers hardest hit by the pandemic. So, where are the dads?

Mothers are paying the price during this pandemic. Photo: Unsplash

Sylvia Fuller, a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia and Yue Qian, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia, write in the Globe and Mail what most mothers across the country already know: this pandemic is hurting Canada’s working mothers. Fuller and Qian write that when the pandemic hit, some people likely thought that the work of childcare and taking care of the home would be more equitable.

Statistics Canada’s Labour Force survey, however, suggests otherwise. In our paper in Canadian Public Policy, we examined trends among those who were employed (or had been recently) when the pandemic hit, revealing which Canadians lost their jobs – the worst-case scenario – either because their employer laid them off or because they had to quit in the face of untenable caregiving responsibilities. And it turns out that mothers have been hit much harder by the pandemic.

This was especially true for parents of elementary school-aged kids (between 6 and 12). In February, mothers’ employment had trailed fathers’ by only one percentage point, but by May, that gap had doubled among parents of preschoolers and multiplied seven times among parents of elementary-school-aged kids. If the closing of child-care centres was bad for gender equity in employment, homeschooling has been a killer.

We also found gender inequality increased more among less-educated parents. Highly educated workers, who usually enjoy greater job flexibility, appear to have been more able to juggle child care, schooling and employment – and while it was surely exhausting, it didn’t push more mothers than fathers of preschool-aged kids out of their jobs altogether. (For those with school-aged kids, the gap existed, but grew much less than for those with less education.) But jobs typically held by working-class women – retail, hospitality, restaurants – were hit hard, and even when they remained available, they weren’t easily combined with watching kids. You can’t bring your child along to the store where you work as a cashier, after all. With no school, no child care and no option to juggle at home, someone had to step back from their job – and mostly, it was mothers. Among those with a high-school education or less, the employment gap between fathers and mothers with school-aged children widened more than 10 times, reaching 16.8 percentage points by May.

I spoke with a couple of working mothers on Thursday. Ronit Milo lives in Dartmouth with her husband and seven-year-old son. She says the last few months have been challenging and exhausting, although there have been good times exploring the neighbourhood and playing board games together. She and her husband have been working from home during the pandemic, but she goes into her office a couple of days a week. They split the household chores with him doing the cooking and grocery shopping. Milo says she has a break of a few hours in the middle of the day, so she’s been helping their son with schooling, but she says her son has struggled.

The biggest challenge was my son not having the social aspect of school. He’s a very social kid, but he also thrives in school when he is working in person with the teachers. The learning online was really hard. Because he missed his friends, he became sad about all the changes that were going on and having to constantly be careful when we were walking the streets and passing people. I think that took a toll on him. He was very sad for a while. Now things are better and he can go out more and interact with people. He’s much happier.

We can’t have any distractions in our work or we’re not able to stop and start frequently. We, unfortunately, had to rely a lot on screen time when we were working. There were no breaks. It was constant work and childcare, 24-7.

Milo says both of their families are in Montreal, but they did bubble with some friends. Now that it’s summer, the teenage daughter of a neighbour is helping with childcare. Milo also signed her son up for some summer camps. The family is heading out on a much-needed vacation elsewhere in the province today.

Milo says she’s trying to prepare a plan for the school year, although she says she hopes school goes back to class full time.

We definitely can’t go back to how things were before. We may hire a tutor. I do know someone who is trying to organize with parents to come up with some solution. I don’t know what that looks like, but we’re planning a virtual meeting to discuss options to helping each other out, some sort of parent co-op where we help each other with different subject matters. The online learning isn’t working for my son. If the schools close again when we have a second wave, I don’t know how he’s going to have the kind of educational experience he needs.

Kelly, who didn’t want to use her real name, is a single mom to a six-year-old daughter. She does have a co-parenting arrangement with her daughter’s father. She says the biggest challenge has been childcare. She says the supervisors at work have children, too, and are very understanding.

Her situation is better now. The mother of her daughter’s best friend is also a single mom. They are helping each other out with childcare, so they can each work part time.

Kelly, who comes from a family of teachers and was a culinary teacher herself, says she did as much as she could in teaching her daughter. She taught her some gardening skills. This week, they created an obstacle course on the sidewalk in the neighbourhood.

I did what I could. I found some apps we continue to use.

Thursday was a bit of a break for Kelly, although she was catching up on some paperwork.

I have no time for myself. There’s never a moment of respite.

She says she’s noticed the gender divide in parenting.

I think I was aware of it anyway. I find this province very misogynistic. To me the Liberals act like every child in the province has two parents at home, a couple of dogs, two vehicles. All the women are picking up the pieces.

Like Milo, she’s hoping kids will go back to class this September.

I don’t think there will be school in full-time capacity. But that’s a guess. It shouldn’t be a guessing game when it comes to your children’s rights. The government and the school board need to be more transparent about any plans they have in action. It’s causing anxiety for parents when it doesn’t have to. Someone, somewhere has an idea. You could put people’s mind at ease a little bit. The people who have that knowledge are clearly aren’t affected by the withholding of that knowledge.

And the parents of kids with special needs. What are they going to do?

Kerry Clare at Chatelaine says there are voices we’re not hearing in these discussions: the fathers’.

Change is possible. It’s become normal, for example, for Canadian fathers to take parental leave: 30 percent of new fathers filed for Employment Insurance in 2015, according to Statistics Canada, versus just three percent in 2000. This has forced employers to adapt. In my own family, we are fortunate that my husband’s employer has long accommodated the demands of family life.

So how would things change for women if more employers became so accommodating, driven in part by fathers demanding flexibility so that their wives can stay in the workforce with their heads above water? In March of this year, when we all started working from home, my husband was the one who spearheaded our kids’ homeschooling efforts while doing his own work, because I was busier at the time—and also he was better at it than I was. The work I do doesn’t matter less just because he makes more money.

That heterosexual men tend to earn higher incomes than their female partners is the usual excuse for why they’re less invested in the current challenges of family life—but it’s really not a good one. In fact, men’s still-higher incomes makes the need for their demands all the more powerful. Imagine the business of Bay Street (from its remote work-from-home locations) brought to a halt by the workers with the most agency and clout. Imagine middle-class men recognizing and using the weight of their choices and voices, wielding their power to make a difference.

I’m seeing a lot of women talk about this on Twitter. Some have said their situations “aren’t pretty” and are not going “super well.” I’m lucky because my 17-year-old can study independently, for the most part, although she misses the social aspect of school.

So, what’s the plan? The first day of school is less than two months away …


Captain Joseph Darby’s map of the Isle of Sable prepared for His Excelllency, Lieutenant General Sir James Kept. The archives has a volunteer transcription program now that allows people to transcribe historic documents, including those from the early history of Sable Island. Photo: Nova Scotia Archives

Graham Steele shared this story on Facebook on Thursday. Steele wrote that he’s volunteering to transcribe documents in collections at the Nova Scotia Archives. You can learn about the transcribing process here.

Steele’s working on documents in the Footprints in the Sand: Pre-1867 Government Documents for Sable Island. Here’s what Steele says about the document he was working on yesterday:

When transcribing Sable Island documents for the Nova Scotia Archives, I came across this report of what today we would call sexual harassment.

It particularly struck me because, of all the hundreds of Sable Island documents I’ve seen, it’s the only one in the voice of a woman. During the period of “the Establishment” (permanent settlement) in the early 19th century, there were a number of women on the Island. Some were spouses of employees, some were hired as cooks, and of course some of the shipwrecked passengers were women. Perhaps the most famous visitor was Dorothea Dix, an American humanitarian who ensured the Island was properly equipped with modern lifeboats.]

But the archive documents are all written by men: governors, superintendents, officials, ship captains. The following document is the one exception I’ve seen: a report of evidence given by Isabel Humphrey at an inquiry.

Now here’s the text Steele transcribed:

Investigation held on Sable Island by M. Munro Esq. as Chairman and Andrew McKinlay Esq. as Commissioner of Board of Works 25th August 1862 relative to certain charges preferred against P.S. Dodd Esq. resident Superintendent, by Mrs John Humphrey, who being first examined made the following statement.

In the Summer of 1861, the Superintendent, Mr. Dodd tried to seduce me Isabel Humphrey, the wife of John Humphrey, several times, and also, during the present summer, say about the last of April, or first of May. In 1860 the first attempt was made my husband being absent on duty at the time. I told Mr. Dodd I would mark him for taking such liberties with me. He took hold of me in the warehouse. I told Mr. Dodd we had two pair of Rabbits in the warehouse, and he said that he would like to see them. I said, that they were behind the lifeboat. He went in, and could not drive them out. He then asked me to come in, and help him to drive them out. I went in, and he then took hold of me, this was the first time he (attempted on) meddled with me. He took hold of me round the waist, I told him that unless he let me go, I would mark him I then gave him a backhanded slap in the face, he then let go of me, afterwards, he said, he wished he had me in a house alone. I asked him why he wished that, and he said, he would let me know before morning. This took place about the beginning of August 1861 at the time I landed Mr. Dodd from

And that’s it …

Steele writes:

What happens next? I don’t know! The next document in the set does not continue Isabel Humphrey’s narrative. I do know that Mr. Dodd denied the allegations. He was probably cleared, as he continued to serve as resident superintendent until 1873.

You can read the other pages in this series, but you have to sign on to transcribe them. Over the last few months, volunteers have transcribed other collections in the archives, including the African Nova Scotian Refugee series, which ended up as 164,000 words now searchable in the archives as full text. You can find the transcribed documents here.

There’s a novel in this story. I’m sure there are many novels in all those documents at the archives.


No meetings.

In the harbour

05:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Anchorage #5 to Pier 41
06:00: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
07:00: Atlantic Kingfisher, tug/supply vessel, arrives at Pier 31 from St. John’s
07:30: HMCS Harry DeWolf, Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), sails from Irving Shipyard for sea trials
11:00: Global Enterprise, bulker, arrives at anchorage from Luoyuan, China
11:00: Maersk Mobiliser, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 25 for the Sable Island field
15:30: Global Enterprise sails for sea
16:30: ZIM Luanda sails for New York
16:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
18:00: Boarbarge 37, semi-submersible barge, moves from Pier 9 to IEL


I heard fireworks at 6:25 a.m. It’s always a party in my neighbourhood.

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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  1. “5. The NSHA’s STI clinic is closed. What does that mean for people who need testing?”

    Let’s take a look at the larger picture. Didn’t these Epidemiologists with all their conferences, workshops, conventions, etc. (paid for by taxpayers) figure out that there would be intended/unintended consequences of Lockdown, Social Distancing, Masks, Emergency Orders, etc? Apparently not. It seems their approach is ad hoc, deal with Coronavirus alone and ignore other medical, psychological, economic consequences.

    One matter alone is that Nova Scotians have been unable to get normal medical treatment which was running behind already. Now it is even further behind and will result in even more casualties.

    So the Covid Beat goes on and the consequences begin to mount up.

  2. “Think about that. A worker is ASSAULTED, and the premier’s response is to attack the union.”

    He’s like a neoliberal cartoon villain with a bad case of reactionary political Turrets’, one that makes him randomly lash out at unions instead of uttering obscenities. The poor man can’t help himself.

    I see Strang doubled down on his “the epidemiology shows little increased risk to other people on an airplane when flying with someone who has COVID-19” comment. It was great that Tim challenged him on it and mentioned that Anthony Fauci won’t fly. Just to add to that observation, it’s not just Fauci;
    many US leading public health experts have affirmed the risk of transmission posed by the close confinement of an airplane cabin when asked if they were willing to fly:

    Either they haven’t read the same studies as Strang or he’s not being honest about this risk.

  3. Re. the item about activities on Sable Island, a careful reading of the map of Sable Island would make clear that the reference underneath was to Sir James Kempt, not Kept, who was Lieutenant Governor (not Lieutenant General), of Nova Scotia, ca. 1819-28. He did, however, have a military background, and commanded a brigade at the Battle of Wellington. See the Dictionary of Canadian Biography for more information.

    1. I got that caption from the Archive photo of the map itself. You can find it if you search Footprints in the Sand: Pre‐1867 Government Records for Sable Island in the online archives.

  4. A novel in Sable Island? Try “The Nymph & The Lamp” 1950. By Tom Raddall . . . trying something different from his other books.

  5. I look forward to the police being defunded – I will be able to drive as fast as I want, I will never have to pay rent again (who will physically remove me from my apartment?). It will also be very exciting – probably not in a good way – being able to form a militia with my friends without any pesky cops interfering.

    Of course, I am joking, but perhaps some people who want to defund the police are not offended by a group of people with uniforms and guns enforcing rules, but rather that they aren’t in charge of it and don’t get to make the rules.

    That being said I do support having professionals for dealing with mental health cases and efforts to stop people from becoming criminals in the first place by giving them proper opportunities to participate legally in society.

    1. This is not what advocates of defunding the police are pushing for. There are certainly times we need peace officers (why do we only call them that when they’ve been killed? Just wondering). Remember when the Premier claimed a malicious hacker had stolen all sorts of public documents? The police raided the home of a young man and tossed it over because of a political calculation, not based on any real information. I think that is an example of where the police did no appropriate investigation and the response was far too heavy handed. If he was a person of colour, you want to bet they wouldn’t have roughed him up too? Having armed thugs patrol the streets does not make them safe.

      1. Yes, I realize that ‘defund’ can mean ‘remove funding from entirely’ and ‘reduce funding’. It is a stupid slogan even if there are serious problems with our police.

        1. HRM Council decides how much money the HRP is given. Those advocating ‘defunding’ are attempting an end run around the law because they know they won’t get their 5 minutes at HRM council. The Board has no jurisdiction regarding funding other than how the money granted by council is spent. The province funds ‘Boots on the Street’ for 19 HRP officers and any defunding should come from the province and they can then spend the money on social programmes. Social services are a provincial responsibility. The RCMP in HRM are not answerable to the Board of Police Commissioners.

          1. That’s a good insight. It appears that what the protests have been saying is correct. HRM is being policed by a locally unaccountable force. Since the RCMP is a paramilitary force, does that not mean they are occupying Halifax? If they can’t be held accountable for their actions locally, they are an oppressor.