News

1. Meet Matthew Byard

Matthew Byard

I’m extremely pleased to introduce the Examiner’s newest reporter, Matthew Byard (rhymes with “hired”).

Byard is hired through the Local Journalism Initiative, and his job is to cover African Nova Scotian communities in HRM and across the province. When I started asking trusted advisors who should be considered for the position, Byard’s name came up again and again. He is a graduate of the Radio Television Journalism Program at NSCC and has interned with Global News; I was quite impressed with his clips and by his reporting instincts. He has, he tells me, “a passion for telling stories that pertain to or are of interest to the Black community.”

I’m looking forward to working with Byard; he’s a great fit for the Examiner.

You can reach Byard at matthew@halifaxexaminer.ca.

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2. The Examiner’s housing phone line

Apartment buildings in Halifax. Photo: Zane Woodford

The Examiner is starting the reporting process for an in-depth look at all things housing related in Nova Scotia.

For the housing project, we want to hear from readers: What is your experience? How has the housing crisis affected your life directly — have you had to move far from your job, are you spending more of your income on housing, do you live with roommates you’d rather not have, how has your quality of life changed? And: what would you like us to report on?

To a significant degree, our reporting will be driven by reader engagement, and so we’ve established a housing reporting project message line; anyone can call in with their stories and suggestions, by leaving a message at the toll-free number 1-819-803-6215.

In coming weeks, we’ll have more opportunities for readers to speak directly with reporters.

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3. Institutionalization

Simon Snyder attended the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre in the 1970s from the time he was 10 until he was 17. He recalls some of the abuse that happened at the school in a new project. Photo: Contributed.

Reports Suzanne Rent:

“Hell on earth.”

That’s how Simon Snyder describes the time he spent at the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre in Bible Hill. Snyder first went to the centre when he was 10 and spent seven years there, only heading home to his family in Guysborough County for holidays and the summer months.

Snyder says the teaching at the centre was “a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing.”

But he does remember the abuse. He says there were a lot of rules at the centre. And breaking those rules meant you got the strap. He still remembers getting the strap and every detail of the strap itself. It was made from leather and was about an inch thick, three inches wide, and about a foot and a half long. He remembers one evening when his young roommate took off his shirt before heading to bed. Snyder could see from the young boy’s shoulders down to his bottom was covered in red welts from that strap.

“He was laying there crying, so he had to turn on his belly,” Snyder says. “I remember seeing that and I never want to see anything like that again.”

For decades, Snyder never said a word about the centre and what happened there. After leaving when he was 17, he spent time at home helping his father, a fisherman, on his boat, or with odd jobs, and painting the family home.

But now Snyder is opening up about his time at the centre, including to an 18-year-old student named Lauren Petrie from Sydney, Cape Breton. The pair met through a project called Truths of Institutionalization: Past and Present.

The Truths of Institutionalization is a project led by Community Living Ontario, Inclusion Canada, and People First of Canada, which all worked with Community Living groups and People First groups in Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia. The goal of the project is to share the stories of people with intellectual disabilities who were placed in these institutions.

Click here to read “Teaching the truth about institutionalization.”

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4. Mental health crisis

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

“With more people than ever seeking help for mental health issues and new client appointments for her private practice now being booked into March, 2022, a Dartmouth psychologist is calling the situation in Nova Scotia a crisis,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

Registered psychologist Dr. Kiran Pure expressed her concern in a July 8 tweet, noting that patients and families are struggling and waiting months for both public and private services.

Pure was prompted to share her concern on social media on a day when she had 28 new referrals and more people desperately needing help but struggling to find it in a timely fashion.

“On that particular day, there was a referral for a 16-year-old female who has anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, and we booked her in for March 2022 because that’s the first opening to see a psychologist here,” Pure said in an interview last week.

“And so her mom emailed and said, ‘I will take these appointments and I told my daughter. She said, ‘Mom, I think I’ll try to wait until then.’”

Pure’s private practice provides a range of psychological services to children, adolescents, and families. Although the numbers fluctuate, she arrives at work each day to find multiple referrals have landed in her inbox overnight.

“The severity of the reason for referral has also gone up, the seriousness of the cases. They’re not kids who can just wait. There’s increased anxiety, depression coupled with suicidal ideation, that’s a very common everyday referral,” Pure said.

“Substance use, family discord, a large increase in eating disordered behaviour…It’s referrals like that. You can’t just say they can wait for six months or eight months or 10 months.”

Click here to read “‘We have a mental health crisis in our province.’”

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5. Election

Writes Stephen Kimber:

“An election” — as here-and-gone Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell once infamously but correctly explained  — “is no time to discuss serious issues.” The real reason we are going to the polls in the middle of August is because the Liberals hope, and believe, no one will be paying attention.

Click here to read “Election 2021: Welcome to ‘stupid season.’”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

Kimber is quoting me on the “stupid season” thing; I was simply reacting to the inevitable “my opponent is the anti-Christ” nature of election campaigns in Nova Scotia.

This morning, Jennifer Henderson reports on the weekend campaign launches of each of the three major parties.

I’ve wondered what campaigning would look like during the pandemic, with restrictions on gathering limits and exhortations to follow Public Health guidelines.

I expected to see a lot of the now ubiquitous elbow bumping:

On the campaign trail, Iain Rankin bumps elbow with a potential voter outside the Brewery Market on July 17, 2021. Photo: Iain Rankin Facebook page

What I didn’t think I’d see is photos of Rankin shaking hands with potential voters, seemingly contradicting the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health:

Iain Rankin on the campaign trail, shaking hands with a potential voter at Dover, NS, on July 18, 2021. Photo: Iain Rankin Facebook page.

Maybe they all doused themselves with sanitizer after, as Donald Trump does.

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6. COVID

After four consecutive days with no new cases of COVID-19, yesterday the province announced three new cases, all in the Halifax area — two are close contacts of previously announced cases and the third is “under investigation.”

We got word last night that a sailor on the HMCS Halifax has tested positive for COVID, which is something of a mystery as the ship has been at sea for months, with its last stop in Iceland, which currently has very low COVID numbers. In any event, CBC is confirming the positive case this morning, and it will presumably show up in today’s provincial numbers.

The graph above shows the progress of vaccination over time, as captured weekly on Fridays. The blue line is people with one dose only; the green line is people with two doses; the yellow line is people with at least one dose, and the orange line represents 75% of the entire population.

I expect that there are now more people in Nova Scotia who have double-dosed than haven’t. Vaccination data are not provided on weekends, but the province was on track to cross the 50% two-shot threshold Saturday or Sunday.

As the election has been called, Premier Iain Rankin will no longer show up at the provincial COVID briefings, so I’m hoping that Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang will do them solo, albeit so far there are no briefings scheduled. I’ve long argued that Rankin, and Stephen McNeil before him, should not have been at so many of the briefings.

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7. Highway 316 and the LNG plant

The “site office” for Pieridae Energy’s Goldboro site. Photo: Halifax Examiner

As I reported two weeks ago today, Pieridae Energy’s proposed LNG plant for Goldsboro appears to be dead in the water:

As the Examiner has reported extensively, Sorensen has been going hat-in-hand to the Canadian government, asking for nearly $1 billion in financing from the Canadian public. Evidently, the federal government said “no dice,” and the entire Goldboro scheme has crumbled.

Dead On Arrival.

What about the “strategic alternatives that could make an LNG Project more compatible with the current environment”? The technical term for this comment is “bullshit.”

With no German buyer, no financing from either the German or Canadian governments, and a world that is quickly turning away from natural gas, Pieridae has at best an option on a deep-water port at Goldboro and a possible connection to a natural gas pipeline. Sorensen is an inventive fellow, so he’ll no doubt come up with yet another absurd plan for the site, but it will have to be even more convoluted than the now-dead proposal.

Natural gas’s time has passed. The public hates it, governments won’t finance it, and no one is buying.

A schematic of the proposed Goldboro LNG plant. Graphic: Pieridae Energy

Still, there’s one bit of the LNG plant proposal that hasn’t completely died: the proposal to reroute Highway 316 to make room for the plant. As Jennifer Henderson reported on April 30:

Nova Scotia Environment Minister Keith Irving has issued an approval with conditions to Pieridae Energy that will permit the company to reroute a road as part of a proposed $13-billion Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility. 

I don’t know why Pieridae would bother with the expense to reroute the road without any chance of moving forward with the plant, but stranger things have happened.

The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) and the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) seem to worry that the road may still be rerouted; last week, the two organizations asked the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for a judicial review of Irving’s approval. They cite Irving’s “failure or refusal… to provide a written statement setting out the findings of fact upon which the Decision was based and the reasons for the Decision…”

EAC and NBASGA are asking the court to order Irving to produce a written statement, and to quash the Environmental approval.

The province has yet to respond to the application, and no hearing date has been scheduled.

You can read the application here.

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Government

City

Monday

Board of Police Commissioners (Monday, 12:30pm) — live streamed on YouTube

Advisory Committee on Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 4pm) — live streamed on YouTube

Tuesday

Committee of the Whole and Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am) — Committee of the Whole agenda, livestreamed on YouTube; Regional Council agenda, live streamed on YouTube and with captioning on a text-only site

Province

No meetings this week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Strategies for Leading Change Post-Corona (Tuesday, 12pm) — a half-hour webinar:

designed for organizational leaders, change leaders, change managers, and project managers who need to steer their organizations to safety, renewed growth and to the ability to stay proactive and ahead.

More info and registration here.


In the harbour

Halifax
05:30: Siem Cicero, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
06:00: John J. Carrick, barge, and Leo A. McArthur, tug, arrive at McAsphalt from Saint John
08:00: Baie St.Paul, bulker, arrives at Pier 9 from Grande-Entree (Magdalen Islands), Quebec
10:30: Lagrafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
11:00: Wodnik, Polish Navy training ship, arrives at Dockyard from New York
12:00: Siem Cicero sails for sea
17:00: One Hangzhou Bay, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
17:00: Lagrafoss sails for Portland
17:00: Baie St.Paul sails for sea

Cape Breton
15:00: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, sails from Coal Pier for sea
15:00: Olympiysky Prospect, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
16:00: Eagle Hamilton, oil tanker, moves from Port Hawkesbury anchorage to Point Tupper


Footnotes

Probably one out of every five or six times I take the bus, I have this experience: A group of us are waiting at the Bridge Terminal for five minutes or so for the bus to arrive, and then when it shows up we all queue up to board. But the person in front of me will enter the bus, and stop. Oh, they need their pass or ticket or cash, so they spend the next two minutes fumbling through their bags/purse/pockets, holding up the entire line behind them and the departure of the bus besides. This seems to happen more often if it is raining or snowing. Why, oh why, could not this person have retrieved their pass or ticket or cash while we were all standing around doing nothing?

I’m sure readers have similar experiences at the grocery store — a person watches blankly as the cashier bags all the goods and rings up a total, only then to dig around to look for payment options. Or at a restaurant, where a giant menu board hangs for the line of six groups to see, but someone waits until it’s their turn to order to even consider the menu.

There should be a name for this kind of behaviour, I thought, so threw it out to the Twitterverse. And @bikejaz came up with the perfect word: postpare. One can prepare for such entirely expected eventualities, or one can wait until after the fact and postpare for them.

So now you know how to describe those people ahead of you in line: they are postparers.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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