1. Northwood review announcement coming today
The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage free.
What will health minister Randy Delorey announce today? Who knows? Whatever it is, Stephen Kimber is not expecting anything too earth-shattering.
In his weekly Halifax Examiner column, Kimber writes:
[Delorey] may unveil some part of some pre-selected, non-binding recommendations from a secret, penalty-of-six-months-in-prison-for-talking-about review his government-commissioned into the deaths of 53 residents at Northwood this spring…
Despite calls from experts and families of the victims, the government refused to appoint a full, transparent public inquiry with the power to subpoena witnesses, including government ministers, conduct public hearings and report to Nova Scotians on what they found, without fear or favour.
Instead, the government opted to appoint a “review” under something called the Quality Improvement Information Protection Act, which means the experts conducting the review aren’t allowed to release the details of their investigation, only their recommendations, and only those the government deigns to release, and, hey, it doesn’t really matter anyway because the recommendations themselves aren’t binding.
Kimber goes on to discuss some of the issues with long-term care and COVID-19, and raises serious questions about the need for so much government secrecy.
Also, congratulations to Kimber on his soon-to-be-released novel The Sweetness in the Lime, which the Globe and Mail lists as one of its most anticipated titles of the fall.
2. Could we actually get a municipal living wage mandate with teeth?
We have two stories from Zane Woodford this morning, and the first looks at a recommendation report coming to municipal council tomorrow. In the report, Woodford writes:
senior procurement consultants Stephen Terry and Erin MacDonald recommend adding “a more robust Living Wage requirement” to the social procurement policy as part of a “Supplier Code of Conduct.”
The report, Woodford writes, is:
a response to council’s lukewarm reception of the social procurement policy passed in July — an optional policy, where departments “shall consider” including criteria like supplier diversity or a living wage when contracting out services.
As recommended, the policy would have some exceptions. It would not cover the building trades, for instance, or interns. But it would have consequences for non-compliance:
Under a section titled “Implementation and Compliance,” the code says the municipality reserves the right to ask for proof of compliance, and “On-going or unresolved non-compliance with the Supplier Code of Conduct may be considered as grounds for termination of contract and/or disqualification from future procurement opportunities.”
Terry and MacDonald are also recommending council add a “Social Value Framework” to the social procurement policy, aimed largely at promoting workplace diversity among contractors.
“In a Halifax context, diversity targets specifically include providing opportunities for African Nova Scotian, Mi’kmaq and Acadian suppliers, workers and trainees to benefit from inclusion in the Municipality’s Supply Chain,” the report said.
Like the code of conduct, the social value framework would come into effect April 1, 2021.
Like Stephen Kimber’s story above, this article is available free to all, but we would still love it if you were to subscribe.
3. Well this is maddening: Parkade, version 3 — the sequel nobody wanted
You may recall the outcry over the province’s proposal for a new parkade to serve the redeveloped downtown hospital site.
If you don’t (it does seem like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?), Zane Woodford has the background for you:
The first plan would’ve seen a seven-storey parkade built to the south of the Museum of Natural History on Summer Street, and a heating plant built in the green space at the corner of Summer Street and Bell Road. It would’ve required the purchase or expropriation of municipally owned property and displaced tenants the Bengal Lancers and the HFX Wanderers.
Facing opposition from the public and council, the province changed its tune, opting instead for an eight-storey garage on the north side of the museum with a pedway across Summer Street to the hospital. Council approved an easement for the pedway, and an easement for a driveway over municipal property on Bell Road.
The new design means the province needs a larger easement over municipally-owned parkland to accommodate a loading zone for the museum, and it’s going to use up more provincially owned green space at the corner of Bell Road and Summer Street.
Woodford’s story is for subscribers. You can subscribe here.
Spare a thought for Paul Vienneau, pictured above, who is currently in hospital. (He is posting about this publicly on Facebook and I heard News 95.7’s Sheldon MacLeod wish him well on the air, so I’m not revealing any private information here.)
4. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association on why they took the Newfoundland and Labrador travel ban to court
The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.
Linda Pannozzo speaks with Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Union about why the organization took the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to court over its COVID-19-related travel restrictions.
The case rested on the travel restrictions for non-residents being unconstitutional under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The judge hearing the case agreed that the restrictions infringe on our constitutional rights, but called that infringement “fleeting” and in the public interest given the public health crisis.
The case was brought forward after a Halifax woman was denied entry to Newfoundland and Labrador for her mother’s funeral.
In this Q&A, Pannozzo and Zwibel discuss freedom of movement, current and historic public health legislation, and concerns about what can happen when a state of emergency becomes semi-permanent.
Fundamentally, Zwibel’s concerns relate to this position:
There are good reasons to question the approach governments take even if they limit our rights in ways we are willing to accept, or for reasons we agree are important.
She tells Pannozzo:
Our focus in the case was on the fact that the requirement that was in place before the travel restrictions (i.e. the requirement that people entering the province self-isolate for 14 days) was working.
The government’s materials trying to justify the move to more restrictions focused on the fact that some municipalities were “concerned” that some might not adhere to the self-isolation rule, and that there were lots of reports to a snitch line saying people were breaking the rules. But the fact is that there was no evidence this was actually happening. No charges were laid as a result of the complaints of rule-breakers, and the government didn’t put forward any evidence that the concerns of municipalities were grounded in anything other than fear. In our view, this was not a reasonable basis on which to increase the restrictions placed on mobility rights.
Pannozzo and Zwibel’s discussion is a nice corrective to so much all-or-nothing discourse out there.
5. Indigenous moderate livelihood fishermen meet opposition
Over the weekend, Indigenous fishermen from the Sipekne’katik First Nation continued to drop traps as part of their community-regulated moderate livelihood fishery, and local DFO-regulated fishermen continued to try to prevent them from fishing and cut lines to their traps.
Understandably, there is a lot of coverage in local media, and I’m not going to recap it all for you, but I will point to a few things.
The CBC’s Nic Meloney has a good piece with background on the Supreme Court’s Marshall Decision and the follow-up known as Marshall 2.
On Sept. 17, 1999, the court ruled that Marshall, charged with fishing eels outside of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans [DFO] regulated season, was justified in doing so — under the 1760s Peace and Friendship Treaties…
Following the 1999 Marshall ruling, Mi’kmaw harvesters across the Atlantic region, who’d begun fishing lobster outside of DFO regulations, were met with fierce opposition. Violence between Mi’kmaw and non-Indigenous fishers erupted on the waters in New Brunswick and Quebec in the weeks following the decision.
Opposition from non-Indigenous fishers ultimately led to a rare clarification on the case, known as Marshall 2. In it, the court clarified that the federal government, through DFO, could still regulate Mi’kmaw harvesting for the purposes of conservation, if it consulted with the First Nation and could justify the regulations.
Meloney includes this critical point, which often gets missed in all the talk about illegal fisheries and DFO regulations, in a sidebar:
In ‘Marshall 2,’ the supreme court ruled that governments must justify restrictions or regulations on treaty rights based on previous, legally-tested criteria including “a valid legislative objective” such as conservation, “whether there has been as little infringement as possible” on rights, and “whether the aboriginal group in question has been consulted” on the government’s proposed restrictions.
CBC also asked journalist Trina Roache of APTN to assess its own coverage of the issue. Roache is a journalist who made a documentary on the Marshall decsion, 20 years later.
It’s a story I’ve spent a lot of time on, and then sometimes when I read the headlines and when I see the mainstream coverage, it’s frustrating because there’s an imbalance sometimes or a language that happens in the coverage that to me creates a narrative that the Mi’kmaq are doing something wrong, which isn’t the case…
We have a really important job in providing that balanced view. You sort of have the tenets of journalism, right? We all want to do fair, balanced, accurate, objective reporting. And as an Indigenous journalist, well, that’s what I do, too. And so sometimes what can happen, though, I think, is that we sort of assume that somehow mainstream journalism, predominantly white journalism, that is just sort of unbiased … Because I’ve been asked, well, how do you keep your journalism from turning into advocacy? And I’m like, that’s a terrible question, because you’re making an assumption somehow that because I’m Mi’kmaq reporting on Mi’kmaw issues that I can’t be fair and accurate and balanced.
And instead, when CBC or other media are calling this fishery an illegal fishery or keep referring to it within the report as this illegal fishery, to me that’s bias, right? That betrays an inherent bias in the reporting and not including enough Mi’kmaw voices. If you’re going to do a story about the Mi’kmaq, you have to make sure you’re talking to the Mi’kmaq. And you have to make sure that if you’re going to do a story about this, I hope you’ve read the treaties … So even if you’re not going to do Indigenous stories, as a journalist in Canada or wherever, you should know the history of the land that you’re standing on.
Maureen Googoo has been covering the story of the Sipekne’katik First Nation’s fishery for a few weeks on her news site, Ku’Ku’Kwes. The most recent story I see on the site dates from September 18, the day after the launch of the moderate livelihood fishery, but I understand Googoo has more coverage coming, so I encourage you to check in on her reporting.
A Mi’kmaw fishermen went out to check his gear, and he was swarmed by commercial fishing vessels that were cutting him off and hauling their gear, stealing their traps – preventing our people from fishing,” says Sipekne’Katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack.
“One of our boats was chased by a First Nations vessel, and they made an attempt to ram him and to board him,” says Sproul. “He immediately turned around and retreated here to Meteghan.”
Sack says, while having their gear hauled up by commercial fishermen slows their operation a bit, they are in it for the long haul – with no plans to stop fishing.
“We have more gear arriving today, tomorrow and probably as much as they pull them,” says Sack. “We’ll keep putting them back in the water.”
Commercial fishermen say they are concerned about conservation in the bay.
Many have noted that there seemed to be little outcry about conservation and no mass protests when this Paul Withers story dropped in 2019. Under the headline, “Seafood giant Clearwater convicted of ‘gross violation’ in lobster fishery,” Withers writes:
Clearwater company CS ManPar was convicted for storing 3,800 lobster traps on the ocean bottom off the Nova Scotia coast for upward of two months in the fall of 2017 — for 17 consecutive days on one occasion, 31 consecutive days on another.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says the practice poses a “serious conservation risk” because lobster and other species can be unintentionally caught.
“This was a gross violation,” federal Crown prosecutor Derek Schnare told provincial court in Shelburne, N.S., on Sept. 20.
Some of the non-Indigenous fishermen outraged by the Sipekne’katik First Nation fishery were flying the Acadian flag, which led Caroline Arsenault to comment on Twitter:
Ça m’offusque que le drapeau Acadien soit utilisé dans la manifestation/l’agression contre le droit des pêcheurs Mi’kmaq.
Nous sommes colonisateurs aussi.
L’amitié/protection des Mi’kmaq était un facteur majeur dans notre survie de la déportation.
Faisons mieux, Acadiens.
It offends me to see the Acadian flag being used in this protest/aggression against the rights of Mi’kmaq fishermen
We are also colonizers.
The friendship/protection of the Mi’kmaq was a major factor in our surviving the deportation.
Let’s do better, Acadians.
She followed up with:
Ça me déçoit vraiment qu’un peuple qui dépense énormément d’énergie à faire valider ses droits devants les tribunaux, jusqu’à la Cour Suprême, se tourne vers la violence pour nier le DROIT d’un autre peuple, garanti par les memes tribunaux. C’est gênant, franchement.
Again, my translation:
I’m really disappointed to see a people who have expended an enormous amount of energy on affirming their rights through the courts, right up to the Supreme Court, turning to violence to deny the RIGHT of another people that has been guaranteed by the same courts. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.
Meanwhile, the Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce sent an unhinged letter to federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan and Premier Stephen McNeil. (You can read the letter on the Chamber’s Facebook page.)
From the letter:
The current protest action is a result of alleged, illegal fishing in the area and is resulting in rising tensions among some commercial and First Nations fishers. The lobster fishing industry serves as the primary economic backbone of southwestern Nova Scotia. As a member-driven organization that represents business interests throughout this region, the Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to seeing this fishery managed in a protected and sustainable manner.
Note the framing: alleged illegal fishing has led to a protest action.
After expressing concerns about conservation and affirming support for treaty rights, the letter raises the spectre of outside agitators (a common theme in law-and-order conversations). The letter then lists a series of actions it requests, including stationing air force assets at the Yarmouth airport, and declaring a local state of emergency.
Finally, let me point out that the National Film Board has hundreds of films by Indigenous directors online to screen free of charge, and a couple of them by Alanis Obomsawin seem particularly relevant for some historical perspective.
Incident at Restigouche, from 1984,is about Quebec Provincial Police raiding Restigouche over Mi’kmaq salmon fishing rights. (Confusingly, the website says the film is not available, but it’s right there on the site. Hit the “play” button and you can watch it.
And Is the Crown at War With Us? was released in 2002, following the Marshall decision. The film’s synopsis asks:
Why would officials of the Canadian government attack citizens for exercising rights that had been affirmed by the highest court in the land?
1. Moses Coady and the birth of the co-operative movement
Speaking of the NFB, I see that they have recently put Kent Martin’s film about Moses Coady online. (Note: Martin is my father-in-law, and he sometimes contributes photos to the Examiner.) Nova Scotia has a long and proud co-operative history, which even decades of neo-liberal economics have not managed to fully destroy, and this 1976 film is about the man who laid much of the groundwork for the regional co-operative movement.
Coady was a Catholic priest who believed that the way out of poverty for working people was to form co-operatives. These would break the power that businesses — fish buyers, coal-mining companies, banks — had over the lives of workers and reduce the concentration of wealth in society.
Coady’s approach was to combine adult education with grassroots economic development, building on the work of his cousin and fellow priest, Jimmy Tompkins. When Tompkins was exiled to Canso for his outspoken views, he brought Coady to help organize fishermen. (Amazingly, the federal government paid Coady to do this.) Starting in the 1920s (the film points out that while the capital-D Depression started in 1929, rural Atlantic Canadians had lived through multiple depressions for decades), Coady visited small communities, holding meetings, setting up study groups, and supporting local co-operative initiatives. In one 10-month period he visited nearly every fishing community in the Maritimes.
The fishermen were being ripped off so badly by local buyers that the members of one fishing co-op were so surprised by how much they were paid for their lobster catch that they thought there must be a mistake on the cheque.
Fishing co-operatives were followed by co-op groceries, credit unions, and housing co-ops in industrial Cape Breton. After Coady’s death, the Coady International Institute was founded in Antigonish, as an extension of St. FX, dedicated in part to providing training to people from around the world to spread the co-operative movement. Interestingly today, the “About” page on the Coady Institute website doesn’t include the words “co-op” or “co-operative” anywhere, instead promising that it “ignites leadership that inspires collaborative effort to address challenges, discover opportunities and create sustainable development at the community level.”
Coady, who was born in the Margaree Valley in 1882, seems to have thrived on working directly with people. When he was named a monsignor, his former secretary Kay Desjardins recalls in the film, Coady referred to the superiors who appointed him to the post as “sons of bitches” who were trying to move him away from his activist work.
In the film, Martin talks to people who knew Coady, draws on archival footage, and shares some of Coady’s writings, voiced by actor Bill Fulton. Near the end of the film, we hear from people who have come to Antigonish for programs at the Coady Institute, including one young Sri Lankan man who is surprised to find that privately-owned supermarkets and for-profit banks exist alongside the co-ops in Antigonish, at the heart of the co-operative movement.
Coady railed against the fact that workers were “overrun by the power of billionaire corporations and millionaire individuals and dominating bureaucrats and political dictators” and some of his words sound remarkably contemporary:
Freedom should mean that people have the right to set up institutions that will act as a counter-force to the anti-social elements of society who build up economic institutions to suppress the people and exploit them. If seven men can form a joint stock company, there is no reason why 700 or 7,000 can’t do the same thing in a cooperative way. We have to get over the naive idea that monopolistic exploiters and dictators are going to reform because good men preaching justice and charity tell them to do so. We must add force to our persuasion… The force of ideas expressed in a form that will give a legitimate share of power to the people.
Here he is on global capitalist colonial exploitation:
Our powerful vested interests have taken over and exploited the natural resources of other people, especially those in the undeveloped sectors of the earth. If we add to this our arrogant insistence on white supremacy, the situation gets more serious. Some day we will reap dividends of wrath for this stupid policy.
In Silver Donald Cameron’s last book, Blood in the Water (I have a review of it upcoming for Quill & Quire magazine), Cameron discusses Coady and the importance of co-operatives and mutual aid in rural communities.
I write this just a week after the board of directors of Mountain Equipment Co-op decided to sell the co-operative to an American-based private equity firm. Reacting to the sale, Charlotte Gill wrote in the Globe and Mail:
When the sale was announced on Monday, the outcry was swift and passionate. MEC’s five million-plus members were never consulted about the takeover or granted a chance to vote or otherwise rescue their beloved co-operative from $74-million in liabilities. No one agreed to donate their $5 membership shares, nor to give away their consumer data to a foreign-owned private equity firm. At the time of this writing, a petition to block the privatization had reached more than 73,600 signatures.
Short of a miracle or a successful class action, Kingswood Capital Management will soon own the MEC brand, with “Co-op” removed from its name. This may not be the last stand for the iconic green logo, but it still feels like the beginning of the end for a community institution, a heartbreaking close for the people’s outdoor store.
You can see why co-ops would be so appealing in Nova Scotia, a place where mutual aid has been essential for survival for centuries. You can also see, how in the case of MEC, co-ops can lose their way and become indistinguishable from any other big-box retailer or business. There’s also the common misunderstanding that co-ops and their workers must get along well, which is overly simplistic. Just as there are labour disputes between unions and their employees, so too with co-ops. Earlier this year, a co-operatively owned refinery in Alberta went to court to get an injunction against its own striking workers, and, closer to home, back in 2013, workers fired from the co-operatively owned Just Us! coffee shop on Spring Garden Road (now the worker-owned co-op Glitter Bean Cafe), went to the labour board, saying they had lost their jobs over their union organizing activities.
One of the things that struck me about the Coady/Tompkins approach was the focus on individuals and small groups. Coady says at one point that Tompkins would hand out some educational materials to a couple of people, come back a few days later and ask if they’d read them, come back again after that. This type of individual attention lies at the heart of organizing. You really do win people over in small groups.
The National Film Board, of course, has a long history of this kind of thing. Community screenings, showing films in church basements and libraries, and so on. But when I worked there briefly in the mid-1990s, the focus had shifted to audience size. The new mantra was television (think of it as the “pivot to video” of its day). If there was no TV sale, your film wasn’t getting programmed. You needed hundreds of thousands of eyeballs, which, coincidentally, also meant needing less staff to go out and about and show films. (As these things go, this approach lasted a few years, and then policy changed again.)
In the midst of this shift to television, I met legendary filmmaker Colin Low, who, near the end of his career, would have no particular reason to be spending time with a brand-new marketing manager like me. But he would stop by to chat, and at one point he said something to me along the lines of, “Give me an audience in a church basement over a million people watching on TV any day.”
It conflicted with my job, which at the time, largely involved me saying no over and over again to filmmakers who wanted to hold public screenings, because I didn’t have the budget for them, but it was advice that stuck with me.
The Art of City Building conference is on today, and this year the theme is Underwater.
There are a bunch of interesting sessions you can sign up for and watch online. One that caught my eye is Session 3, on inclusive placemaking and development. It runs from 3:00-5:15, and the featured speakers include Jay Pitter.
Pitter’s website describes her as:
an award-winning placemaker whose practice mitigates growing divides in cities across North America. She spearheads institutional city-building projects specializing in public space design and policy, forgotten densities, mobility equity, gender-responsive design, inclusive public engagement and healing fraught sites.
Sounds interesting. Perhaps you can take some time out of your storm prep to join in.
Board of Police Commissioners (Monday, 12:30pm) — virtual meeting with live broadcast. Info and agenda here.
Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am) — virtual meeting. Agenda here.
2020 Dalhousie BioBlitz Results Summary (Monday, 9am) — link here.
How Ocean Protection Can Fuel A New Blue Economy ‑ Ocean Forum 2 (Monday, 12pm) — Zoom seminar; register here. From the listing:
The global ocean plays a critical role in the health of our planet and in the global economy. Developed nations such as Canada can play a lead role in ensuring ocean sustainability as we gain the potential benefits the ocean offers, but Canada places 8th in terms of contributing to the global blue economy, despite having the longest coastline in the world. How do we change that? Canada, like many nations, is developing a national blue ocean economy strategy – what should that look like? What do Canada and other nations need to do to be more competitive in the global ocean economy? Join our discussion with the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and Karin Kemper, the Global Director for the Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy Global Practice at the World Bank as we look at Canada’s current position on this from an internal and external perspective and discuss possible solutions.
COVID-19 and Public Health Policy in the USA: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Monday,12:30pm) — Zoom meeting with Neil MacKinnon, Dean and Professor, Winkle College of Pharmacy, University of Cincinnati; and Diego Cuadros, Assistant Professor of Health Geography, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Cincinnati. More info and link here. From the listing:
In this presentation, Drs. MacKinnon and Cuadros will compare and contrast the public health approaches to containing the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada and the US. They will provide an overview of the current state of the epidemiology and health policy related to the pandemic with a focus on Ohio, an early public health leader in the US. Sharing examples from their own research as part of UC’s Geospatial Health Advising Group, they will discuss the development of, and response to, the health policy briefs their team prepared for the Ohio Department of Health. They will also describe the creation of predictive models and linking these models to available healthcare resources using advanced geospatial mapping techniques and large datasets, as recently published in Health & Place. Anyone with an interest in health policy and epidemiology related to the COVID-19 pandemic will benefit from this seminar, whether a researcher, clinician, policy maker, health advocate or other.
Live Streaming in a Digital World (Tuesday, 8pm) — Don Ross and Brooke Miller will demonstrate how to set up a livestream, followed by a concert on Wednesday evening at 8pm. More info here.
Peace Day Conference (Monday, 9am) — a day-long virtual conference to discuss the question “Do we have an ethical responsibility to teach peace education?” More info and registration here.
Prototyping workshop (Tuesday, 4pm) — an interactive webinar. More info and registration here.
In the harbour
15:30: Goodwood, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
15:30: Monza, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
18:00: CMA CGM Panama, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
21:00: Monza sails for sea
We went to see live music outdoors on Saturday night. Willie Stratton’s band was playing a restaurant on the outskirts of Truro, with tables placed spaciously apart. At one point Stratton introduced a song by saying it was about hanging out, having a good time, and dancing. “Remember dancing? It’s a thing people used to do before these microscopic demons attacked us.”
Also, I am trying to think of something I could possibly want to read less than Barbara Amiel’s autobiography.