News

1. August 18, one year later

Early on the morning of August 18, 2021, police surround a tent in Horseshoe Park, preparing to evict the person living in it. Photo: Drew Moore

A year ago today, on August 18, 2021, I was scrolling through Twitter to see if there was anything I should mention in the day’s Morning File. The Progressive Conservatives had won a surprise majority the night before, so I knew I’d be leading with that. Then, I saw the photo above, taken by Drew Moore. He’d been out for a run, and as he was passing Horseshoe Park on the Northwest Arm he saw several Halifax Regional Police officers surrounding a tent.

Zane Woodford rushed down to the park and spoke to the people being evicted. From a public park. On Twitter, he wrote:

They were woken up at 6am and told they had an hour to leave. They haven’t been offered housing, but they have been fined $300.

When they asked where they’re supposed to go, they were told to leave the peninsula.

Woodford also took the photo below, which I find equal parts heartbreaking and enraging.

One of the people evicted from Horseshoe Park Aug. 18, 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

We all know what came next: the pepper spray, the chainsawing, the threats to arrest journalists for doing their jobs, the lies claiming police only got involved as a last resort, the purported shock from local councillors that police here would behave exactly the same way as police in other cities — notably Toronto — had when clearing unhoused people out of parks.

To mark the anniversary, the P.A.D.S Community Advocacy Network, Out of the Cold Community Association, and Mutual Aid Halifax are hosting a barbecue and rally this evening at 5pm on the site of the former Spring Garden Memorial Library — the epicentre of last year’s police violence. The event will feature burgers and vegetarian burritos, talks from speakers including El Jones and lawyer Asaf Rashid, who is representing several of the people arrested August 18.

P.A.D.S (it stands for “Permanent Accessible Dignified Safe Housing for All”) was formed a year ago, after August 18. Moore, a teacher, has been one of the members since the start. “This thing happened, and it was wrong, and people started doing stuff, and it’s been evolving over the past year,” he said in an interview.

When I spoke to Moore yesterday, it struck me how often he used the phrase “take care of each other” in relation to the housing crisis. I asked him if there was a sense of giving up on government and people seeing how they can support each other instead.

“It’s both really,” he said. “‘Homes not cops’ was one of the chants from August 18. We need more non-market housing solutions — public housing, social housing — given that people are being priced out of their rentals. The ‘not cops’ part is where the municipality comes in. They like to say housing is not their jurisdiction, but policing is…. We are asking for a moratorium on park evictions. No more relocations of people from parks by police.”

On the provincial level. Moore said he found it striking that in Tim Houston’s video celebrating a year since his party’s election, and touting their accomplishments, there was no mention of housing or homelessness.

The criminalization of homelessness is, of course, not unique to Halifax. Moore said just as city councils and police are watching what happens in other cities and adopting the same tactics, so too are activists.

Moore said he’s “seen so many examples of neighbours, of community members engaging in mutual aid, supporting each other, understanding that what we are seeing is due to a failure of policy. So, every day, people are stepping up to make sure their neighbours have the basics they need in terms of food and water, and speaking out to try and advocate for housing.”

And while it’s clear many residents are not happy with encampments in their neighbourhoods, Moore said, “The scope of the [housing] crisis we are in — it’s only going to get worse. We need to come to terms with the fact that in the absence of housing there are going to be homeless encampments in our neighbourhoods, and we have to figure out how to help folks who are seeking subsistence shelter.”

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2. Regulators give Atlantic Gold parent company what it wants

Touquoy open pit gold mine in Moose River, Nova Scotia. Photo: Simon Ryder-Burbidge

The Australian company that owns Atlantic Gold “seems to be having a run of extraordinarily good fortune when it comes to decisions by government regulators in this part of the world,” Joan Baxter writes:

Yesterday word came from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) that it has agreed to written requests from St Barbara’s subsidiary Atlantic Mining NS, which operates in Nova Scotia as Atlantic Gold, for a three-year extension to the August 28, 2022 deadline it had to submit information for two of three more open pit gold mines it has planned in Nova Scotia ⁠— one at Beaver Dam and the other at Fifteen Mile Stream.

That means the federal government has granted the company permission to extend the environmental assessment process for the two proposed open pit gold mines until August 28, 2025.

In what looks like another concession to St Barbara, the Impact Assessment Agency is also allowing the environmental assessments for the two proposed gold mines to continue under out-dated federal legislation, the 2012 Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), passed by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, rather than under the more rigorous 2019 Impact Assessment Act.

According to John Perkins of the group Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia (SuNNS), the 2019 Impact Assessment Act “is a much better assessment process that includes more Indigenous participation and a shift to considering social and economic impacts, not just environmental ones.”

She adds:

The federal decision to grant Atlantic Mining NS an extension comes just a week after the provincial government’s decision to approve the increased height of the tailings facility at the Moose River mine. And that decision came just one week after Nova Scotia Environment Minister Halman approved another gold mine — one with two open pits — on the province’s Eastern Shore.

Read the full story here. This story is for subscribers only.  Please subscribe here.

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3. Evelyn C. White on the National Black Canadians Summit ⁠— and pies

Photo: Kavya PK/Unsplash

Evelyn C. White attended last month’s National Black Canadians Summit, and she draws our attention to a noticeable absence in the media coverage:

There has been wide media coverage of the National Black Canadians Summit held last month in Halifax and attended by 1,200 people but nary a public mention of the pies. So, here’s a praise-break for the homemade blueberry, cherry, apple, and strawberry-rhubarb pies that the Michaëlle Jean Foundation — the host of the event — one day offered on the dessert table.

The lavish spread was laid out directly across from the stunning “Secret Codes” quilt exhibit by African Nova Scotian artists that is now on a national tour.

“Can you believe this?” I overheard one attendee say to another as she spooned a dollop of whipped cream onto her slice of cherry pie. “It’s like being at your grandmama’s house.”

This is the lead-in to White’s personal experience of the summit, the panels she attended, and the final declaration:

Then came the Halifax Declaration. Crafted with community input, the document outlines a national plan of action that includes addressing the history of enslavement in Canada and the eradication of anti-Black racism throughout society. However, in contrast to the routine “Whereas” recitation of such edicts, the Declaration was performed by an ensemble of poets, activists, politicians, musicians, a dancer, and the former Governor General Michaëlle Jean, herself.

The riveting 18-minute bilingual presentation was the brain child of longtime African Nova Scotian leader Wayn Hamilton. “I asked a few individuals who I thought had the right approach, temperament, and artistic range to do well mixing improv with some structure,” said Hamilton, whose steady beat on an African drum “cradled” the performance.

Click here to read the full story. 

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4.  Add “dynamic entry” to your list of cop-talk euphemisms

A sweatshirt available from the Mounted Police Gift Shop online.

Since last year, CBC has been investigating police use of “no-knock police raids” ⁠— or, as the police like to call them, “dynamic entries,” in which police “tactical teams smash their way into people’s homes based largely on the evidence of paid, confidential informants.”

Today, CBC Ottawa has a story on one such raid and its aftermath. The victim in this case is a self-described RCMP enthusiast named Warren Thwing, who lives in Kingston, Ontario. Thwing has had a lifelong obsession with the force, ever since he failed to make it because he was half an inch too short. He collects RCMP memorabilia, and likes to photograph himself in RCMP gear, some of it purchased from the force’s gift shop.

Now, do I think this is weird? Yes. Do I understand how the police might see this as a cause for concern, shortly after a man impersonating an officer and driving around in a fake RCMP car murdered 22 people? Also yes.

Based on social media posts, police got a warrant to search Thwing’s home. From the story:

At 6:30 a.m. on May 7, 2020, Thwing was in bed, listening to the radio, about to start his day.

“All I heard was one — pardon the expression — one hell of a bang, and smashing glass and things. And my house alarm.”

SWAT team members in commando gear bashed down his side door and rushed into his house and his bedroom, rifles drawn. His home security camera captured seven officers, though Thwing says he remembers closer to a dozen.

When they told him they were there to execute a search warrant for impersonating a police officer, Thwing said, it made no sense to him. He said he asked an officer, “Why didn’t you ring the doorbell?

Thwing spent two weeks in jail at the height of the first wave of COVID-19, waiting for a psychiatric assessment. CBC spoke to a criminal defence lawyer called Leora Shemesh, who was not involved with the case and was baffled by the warrant:

Shemesh said that not only did she think the door-bashing raid wasn’t called for, but she barely saw any justification for a search warrant at all.

“I had a hard time understanding where the offence was. Even when I read the warrant for the first time, I almost felt like I was missing something, that there had to have been more,” she said.

“A simple knock on the guy’s door would have been the same effect.”

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5. Megaproject to cost megabucks

The Centennial Building at the Victoria General site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre in July, 2021. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

Mega-projects always cost more ⁠— far more ⁠— than originally budgeted. And every government announcing one seems to be convinced that their current project will be an exception.

That brings us to the latest on the QEII redevelopment project, courtesy of Michael Gorman at CBC:

CBC News has learned the estimated price of the Halifax Infirmary redevelopment project has ballooned to more than $3 billion, a number so high that the group bidding on the work has concerns about its ability to get sufficient insurance coverage…

The new estimated cost of the infirmary redevelopment is more than $1 billion higher than the original total estimate for multiple projects the former Liberal government first announced in 2016 as the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre New Generation project.

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6. The Tideline, episode 91: Halifax Fringe Festival 2022

The Halifax Fringe Festival is celebrating its first full in-person festival since 2019, which itself was cut short by hurricane Dorian. And that’s not all — after seven festivals, executive director Lee-Anne Poole will head out the revolving door of Halifax arts org leaders and hand the reins over to Sara Graham. Both are on the show this week to talk entrances and exits, why they do the work that they do, the festival’s present and future, and all the details you need to attend. Plus, a song from the new surprise Hello Delaware album.

Listen to the new episode of the Tideline here, or, even better, use a podcast app to subscribe and have it delivered straight to you every week.

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Views

Is your loyalty to Nova Scotia “fun” or “exciting”?

Fun loyal or exciting loyal?

During last year’s provincial election campaign, Tim Houston’s Progressive Conservatives promised a PC-points-style loyalty program for people buying locally made products. From a story in The Huddle:

The program, called Nova Scotia Loyal, would work much like the loyalty programs used by corporations to keep customers coming back. But this program is meant to encourage Nova Scotians to buy local products made in-province.

“If you’re in the store and you’re looking at Smucker’s Jam or (a local Nova Scotia product) …it’s just a little incentive to pick that up and buy that one,” said PC leader Tim Houston to Huddle Today.

“Politicians talk about ‘buy local’, but there’s very little in the way of government policy that’s been implemented that actually encourages people to buy local.”

This seemed like such a terrible idea on so many levels that I figured it would be one of those promises that just gets forgotten about (like the “better paycheque guarantee.”) Sure, I want the government tracking what local products I buy. And I’m sure there will be no issues at all in trying to determine what a local product consists of. Is No Boats on Sunday, a cider made in Nova Scotia by a company based in Ontario a local product? What about beer made here by one of the largest mega-brewery corporations in the world?

Well, I was wrong about the program being just another forgotten campaign promise.

In a June 2022 press release, the province announced “prototyping” of Nova Scotia Loyal, which was to be more than just a loyalty program:

“We’re establishing Nova Scotia Loyal to build on everything that’s great about our province – and make things even better. This is about fuelling our local economy and boosting provincial pride,” said Susan Corkum-Greek, Minister of Economic Development. “We are eager to hear from Nova Scotians about what they value most when it comes to motivating them to use their buying power here at home. This direct feedback will help us shape Nova Scotia Loyal.”

The Nova Scotia Loyal website has now launched, and it has a quiz. Now, I am a sucker for quizzes. Last week I did a quiz asking “Which Greek summer food are you?” (Answer: stuffed vine leaves.)

The first question of the quiz is at the top of this segment. Huh? Being loyal means “fun” or “excitement”? What? What?

Let’s move on to question two.

I mean, I don’t know, both? Ignoring that it’s kind of a non-sequitur?

Question three:

Bold, Ivany Report, blah blah blah blah.

Then, this:

What? This isn’t a quiz. It’s a poll! A quiz gives me some kind of goofy summary of who I am at the end. You know, “You love clams and chips but like to splurge on a gourmet lobster roll once in awhile. You love Instagram, but you’d never stand on the black rocks to get that perfect shot.” Or whatever.

There’s not much else on the website yet, except for a bunch of bullshit phrases like, “loyalty endures through dedication.”

The site does ask people to share what Nova Scotia Loyal means to them, using the hashtag #NovaScotiaLoyal on Twitter and Instagram. The trouble with these kinds of campaigns is their propensity to backfire. Exhibit A, is one of the few tweets actually using this hashtag, from August 16, from Callie Franson:

Only 30 minutes after opening the registration for a walk-in clinic this A.M., the medical receptionist had to cut the line down the middle and turn 25+ people away because they’re already at max capacity for the day #NovaScotiaLoyal

@halifaxbeard says:

I’m @NovaScotiaLoyal because they’re hiding COVID data to protect the economy, and that’s more important than our health. #NovaScotiaLoyal

Talk of loyalty always reminds me of the absurd section in Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22, in which everyone’s trying to outdo each other to prove their loyalty:

All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Palkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around, there was another loyalty oath to be signed.

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Noticed

Image from ournsrcmp.ca

Last week, I wrote about the National Police Federation’s ournsrcmp campaign. The campaign’s graphics and fast facts cite a survey done by Pollara Strategic Insights. I had asked to see the survey, but did not hear back before running the piece. After the NPF noticed tweets about the piece, a spokesperson did send me a PDF of the full survey.

The campaign’s website states “Only 13% of Nova Scotians want less RCMP presence in the province” and “Only 13% of Nova Scotians would prefer the RCMP to have less control over local policing.” I was curious about the question that led to this figure. It was in a list of statements about policing in Nova Scotia. Survey respondents were asked to choose the statement that most closely aligned with their views. Thirteen percent chose the following statement:

I would prefer the RCMP to have less control over local policing in Nova Scotia so that the province has more control, even if it’s more expensive.

There was a tie for the top statement, at 25% of respondents:

Further policing decisions in Nova Scotia should await the findings of the Mass Casualty Commission’s final report.

and

I would prefer the RCMP to have more control over local policing in Nova Scotia so that it’s better coordinated.

(Bolded text in original.)

People in communities served by the RCMP were asked “How satisfied are you with the RCMP’s policing of your community?”

About half of respondents fell into the “somewhat satisfied” category. Those most likely to say they were “very satisfied” (40%) were over age 60. The figure for those aged 18-39 was 21%

A few other interesting tidbits:

  • 50% of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that “media stories about the RCMP tend to be more negative than justified”
  • 65% somewhat or strongly agreed that “throughout its history, the police in Nova Scotia have not always treated racialized and Indigenous people fairly.” Interesting that here the question is about police generally, and not specifically the RCMP.

1,005 people were interviewed for the survey. Here’s the demographic information.

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Government

City

Public Information meeting – Case 24045 (Thursday, 6pm, online) — regarding Carriagewood Estates, Beaver Bank

Province

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

PhD Defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Thursday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building and online) — Jeffrey R. Simmons will defend “From Soluble Protein to Anchoring Filament: Understanding the Structural and Mechanical Foundations of Pyriform Spider Silk”

Phd Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Thursday, 1:30pm, online) — Brian Boys will defend “Global Trends in Satellite-Derived Fine Particulate Matter & Developments to Reactive Nitrogen in a Global Chemical Transport Model”


In the harbour

Halifax
07:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Gold Bond
07:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at Bedford Basin anchorage from New York
11:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
13:00: MSC Veronique, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Sines, Portugal
15:30: Atlantic Condor, offshore supply ship, arrives at Dartmouth Cove from sea
21:15: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 21
22:00: NYK Deneb, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for sea

Cape Breton
08:00: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,756 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Halifax, on a 10-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
17:00: Caribbean Princess sails for Nuuk, Greenland


Footnotes

A note from my well: More rain please.


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Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. Is Nova Scotia exciting , are you out of your mind , next they’ll be wanting to cut us off
    and floating Nova Scotia , & PEI .. out to where ever …to lose us forever , as no one
    Seems to remember what we are living in .. Traumatized, Crisis , where it’s all Lies
    lies lies lies ,the people who are running our Government, forgot , it’s not 1945 …
    Read Dr. Mike Hollett story , one of Truros finest Drs.. in ER , at one time .. he’s right
    We are 20 -30 Yrs behind .. Hello … welcome to Nova Scotia Canada .. not enough
    drs. Where is Dalhousie University, known for teaching Drs. hello ! …couldn’t we have
    Saved ourselves.welcome to Nova Scotia , no Health care, Justice System , gas prices,
    Food Prices , Hope you had a wonderful visit .. I pray you didn’t get sick or in an accident, or murdered, don’t run out of gas or money , you’ll need new Tires …
    or be Gridlock ,on our hwys.
    Visit beautiful Nova Scotia …our people are in major Crisis …

  2. Perhaps pride in Nova Scotia could be better generated by refusing to destroy the environment with open pit gold mining and choosing to treat the poorest in society with dignity rather than contempt. Is there a loyalty card for that?

      1. Oh you are so right , Fight Joan Fight ?
        Gold … omg could someone see her fighting for us as Nova Scotians