1. Health care
Michael Tutton, writing for the Canadian Press, has an election analysis piece headlined “How health care became key issue in N.S. election campaign“:
David Johnson, a political scientist at Cape Breton University, said Stephen McNeil’s government is paying a price for failing to keep 2013 election promises such as ensuring all citizens have access to family physicians, and for overcrowding and long wait times.
“It’s one thing to say things are getting better and it’s a policy priority, it’s another thing to see the lived experience of people dealing with health care,” he said in an interview.
The political scientist said protests and outbursts at events in the campaign’s first week undermined the party’s core message that it has been making tough choices but is poised to improve the system if re-elected to a second term.
Tutton himself has played a role in placing health care front and centre with a an April 27 article about the awful death of Jack Webb, a man who “languished for six hours in a chilly emergency room hallway, had a broken IV in his arm, and was bumped from his room by another dying patient during five days of struggles in Halifax’s largest hospital.”
2. Examineradio, episode #111
The HRM community of Harrietsfield has been dealing with toxic drinking water for close to a decade-and-a-half, and three successive provincial governments have failed to address the issue.
3. Free promotional plug
“The company behind a proposed spaceport in coastal Nova Scotia says it has ‘several’ clients committed to launching satellites, though it’s not ready to divulge any more details,” writes Jack Julian for the CBC.
“Not ready to divulge any more details,” eh? There’s a technical term employed by the Examiner’s crack business reporting team that best describes this announcement: horse shit.
What’s happening is Maritime Launch Services is going around trying to find investors. Part of the strategy involves getting gullible media to give the company free press that can be dangled in front of people with deep pockets as evidence of the company’s supposedly rosy prospects. And evidently, the CBC is willing to play along.
4. Minority government
John Demont raises the possibility that the upcoming provincial election could result in a minority government, which, he notes, wouldn’t be so unusual:
Since 1998, when the NDP blossomed into a provincial power, three of six elections have resulted in minority governments, where no single party has a majority of seats in the legislature and the governing party depends upon the support of their political opponents to get things done.
On the federal level, Demont writes:
Back in the 1920s Mackenzie King’s minority Liberal government brought in old-age pension legislation to hold onto the support of Progressive and Labour Party MPs. In the 1960s, thanks in large part to close co-operation with the NDP, Lester Pearson’s minority Liberal government introduced some of the key elements of Canada’s modern social-welfare system, including universal health care and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). In the early 1970s, Liberal-NDP co-operation allowed Pierre Trudeau to introduce the National Energy Plan — which the West hated — and to index old-age pensions to the cost of living, which everyone loved.
“Nothing quite so grand” has been accomplished by Nova Scotian minority governments, Demont says, but he’s looking forward to the prospect of another one.
1. Brigitte Macron and Amy Hood
“Emmanuel Macron is 39. His wife Brigitte is 64,” notes Stephen Kimber. “But… what about Carolyn Amy Hood?”:
She too was 39, a Pictou County junior high school teacher who became sexually involved with two former students, a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old boy.
Kimber also provides an update on the political parties’ positions on the Gabrielle Horne case.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
2. Gaspereau in the Gaspereau
“In a world where traditions are disappearing every day, it was exhilarating to recently visit the gaspereau fishing operation of Chris and Colin Gertridge,” writes Stephen Archibald. “The brothers are the sixth generation to catch this small relative of the herring each spring on the banks of the aptly named Gaspereau River.”
Archibald goes on to describe the fascinating technique employed for catching the fish, then notes:
The fish are salted as soon as they are caught, and stored in large plastic bins awaiting shipment to a processor in Saint John. Ultimately the cured fish go to the island of Haiti. In the 18th and 19th centuries, slave owners in the Caribbean imported gaspereau as an inexpensive food to feed their workers. A taste for gaspereau has endured in Haiti, although Chris says the market is softening.
“In the Barrier Capital of Canada, your business can exclude customers using wheelchairs as long as it’s located in a building that never accommodated wheelchairs,” writes Parker Donham:
Take Fox Hill Farm’s trendy new Halifax outlet on Robie Street. The previous tenant sold computers. Selling organic milk and cheese is deemed not to be a change of use. The law, in its wisdom, says that if a property’s use has not changed, it’s refusal to accommodate wheelchair users needn’t change either.
There was a long exchange on Facebook about Donham’s post
On Cultural Appropriation
I’m a white dude in North America, sitting atop 500 years of imperialism and racism. I can’t help but carry all sorts of cultural baggage and cluelessness. So from time to time I’m going to get things wrong, I’m going to put my foot in my mouth, I’m going to offend. When that inevitably happens, the best I can do is learn, express some humility, and carry on a little more informed. On the flip side, also because I’m a white dude, others will be quick to judge me and may occasionally misconstrue my thoughts — but as at all times when readers misunderstand me, the fault is usually mine. I should write better.
In real terms, this means hesitating before writing about culturally charged issues and asking for an outside opinion before publishing. And there are some stories I don’t need to write about at all. I mean, why should I? I’m just some random white dude on the internet, so why do I need to weigh in on things I haven’t lived first hand or about which I haven’t given much thought? There are plenty of better informed people who can speak to their direct experience who should be listened to first.
Is this “walking on egg shells”? Sure. So what? My unease and uncertainty is nothing at all compared to the real lived experiences of those affected by centuries of imperialism and racism and all the societal sins that come with them.
My general philosophy as the owner of this publication is “don’t be a dick.” I try to cover issues with a progressive mindset, and give voice to those who often don’t have a platform. Most of the writers I hire are women, and two are Black women. El Jones and I connected almost by accident, but now her weekly column in the Examiner is one of the things I’m most proud of as publisher. And forget race and gender, Evelyn C. White is the finest writer I’ve ever worked with, full stop. I give both Jones and White free reign, and I carry on with the stuff I do, keeping my nose down and working as best I can.
Which brings me to the “cultural appropriation prize” issue that exploded in journalistic circles over the past week.
If you somehow missed it, here’s a quick explainer from Sarah Hagi, writing for Vice:
Earlier this week, The Writers’ Union of Canada — an organization that according to their website “promotes the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers” found itself in the position of apologizing for an editor’s defence of cultural appropriation. Making matters dumber, the controversial piece appeared in the organization’s quarterly publication, Write Magazine, whose latest issue was all about Indigenous writing.
In an opinion piece called, “Winning the Appropriation Prize” Write Magazine editor Hal Niedzviecki took the bold stance of not believing in cultural appropriation. If that sounds like an editorialized version of what he said, I assure you it’s literally how he opened the essay, writing, “I don’t believe in cultural appropriation.”
Niedzviecki then went on to say, “Anyone, anywhere, should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities.” But he doesn’t stop there, “There should even be an award for doing so — the Appropriation Prize for best book by an author who writes about people who aren’t even remotely like her or him.” Oh yes, he went there. Essentially, the argument was that Canadian literature isn’t as diverse as it should be because white authors aren’t stepping outside of their own experiences.
Niedzviecki was obviously called out by members of the union and Indigenous authors featured in the magazine’s issue (one of the first writers to call the magazine out had also been published in the same issue with a piece about cultural appropriation). Following the controversy, The Writers’ Union of Canada issued a statement on their website, apologizing “unequivocally” for the mistake and announcing Niedzviecki’s resignation.
Speaking to The Globe and Mail, Niedzviecki expressed how he, “had no intention of offending anyone with the article,” while also telling the paper he stepped down from his position voluntarily. He admitted he understood why people were upset and said he failed “to recognize how charged the term cultural appropriation is and how deeply painful acts of cultural appropriation have been to Indigenous people.”
That would’ve been the end of it: White dude doesn’t think, writes something stupid, offends a bunch of people, explains himself without really apologizing, life goes on. Except then came the predictable white dudes piling on, first from Jonathan Kay:
The mobbing of Hal Niedzviecki is what we get when we let Identity-politics fundamentalists run riot
Sad & shamefulhttps://t.co/Sb7TFQvREW
— Jonathan Kay (@jonkay) May 10, 2017
Then, linking to Kay’s tweet, Ken Whyte pushed the issue into new territory:
— Ken Whyte (@KenWhyte3) May 12, 2017
Invoking the right of authors to imagine the lives of others, [Whyte] rallied his counterparts on Twitter, describing the prize as a “good cause in a cosmopolitan, multicultural society.”
Thousands of dollars worth of pledges soon came tumbling in from half a dozen editors, media executives and columnists across Canada. “I’m in,” wrote Alison Uncles, the editor-in-chief of Maclean’s. She added: “$500 for freedom of thought and expression. Just me though, not Maclean’s.” Steve Ladurantaye, the managing editor of CBC News, said he was in for $100.
Ladurantaye later apologized via a series of tweets.
This prodded Examiner contributor Evelyn C. White to write to Ladurantaye, an email she shared with me and gave permission to be posted here:
Dear Mr. Ladurantaye,
Now that I’ve finished my priority for today — a review of a book by a black woman writer for Herizons (the national feminist magazine of Canada, a good example of inclusion in action, you might want to check it out) — I can turn my attention to your misuse of your white male power and privilege as the so-called “Managing Editor” of Digital News for CBC.
I suspect I don’t need to remind you of your offer to help fund an “Appropriation Prize.” And now that perhaps your job is on the line, you are back-pedalling and apologizing (“no conditions, no reservations, no asterisks”) and doing the (media) mea culpa thing, and asking forgiveness for your stupidity, and “feeling ashamed,” etc.
And this (which had me howling on the floor): “I didn’t stop to think about what it is like to not have my position or my power or my voice.”
News flash: You and your ilk are OH SO UNORIGINAL.
Some background: I am a black woman who holds dual American and Canadian citizenship. I’ve now lived in Canada for nearly twenty years. It didn’t take me long to discern the profound error (that’s a polite way of saying bullshit) in the much ballyhooed sentiment that Canadians are “less racist” than their counterparts in the U.S.
In other words: “Y’all need to check y’all selves.”
I guess that’s what you’re doing, having ignored your own damn advice as put forth in the As It Happens interview (April 15, 2016) about your then new job with the CBC.
“Ladurantaye says with a digital strategy comes the expectation that journalists use Twitter and Facebook all the time. But there are challenges when you mix the professional with the personal. ‘Everything you say is filtered through the ‘sniff test.’ If this is on the front page of the newspaper, or on the six o’clock news, is your mother going to be ashamed that she gave birth to you? I’ve always believed you’re one tweet away from being fired. Keep it classy, and everything should be OK,’ he says.”
It seems that you forgot to “sniff” yourself.
Roundly criticized during the U.S. civil rights movement for her “ill-conceived” (some thought) desire to enjoy the same rights and privileges as whites, black activist Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) offered a response that you might wish to consider, especially now that you’re in a reflective mode: “What would I look like fighting for equality with the white man? I don’t want to go down that low. I want the true democracy that’ll raise me and that white man up … “
It will be a great day when white Canadians can acknowledge (and grieve) the wealth of love, grace, wisdom, honour, joy and creativity you have willfully expunged from your lives through your breathtaking (and seemingly endless) disrespect of people of colour.
Your loss. Big Time. Straight Up. No Chaser.
Evelyn C. White, Author
Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone: A Photonarrative of Black Heritage on Salt Spring Island, B.C.
There’s a weird little coda to this.
In 2011, the Truth and Reconciliation hearings were held in Halifax. I covered it for The Coast, and live-blogged the hearings on Twitter. Some of those tweets are collected here.
Many years before, when I lived in California, I wrote extensively about the genocide of the Yana and Yahi people in the 1870s at the hands of white settlers. I was conversant in the long history of the North American genocide, but it wasn’t until I heard the first-hand testimony of residential school survivors that it hit me emotionally. The hearings went on for three days, and I would come home each night stifling tears, dreading another day of it, but realizing that the truth-telling I was witnessing was exactly the point: people telling their own lived experiences.
Yesterday, someone I don’t know on Twitter posted this on Twitter:
This is a common narrative that is used to delegitimize the TRC and gaslight survivors. Let me try to put this question in context for y'all pic.twitter.com/2eF140twIz
— Fancy Bebamikawe (@FancyBebamikawe) May 14, 2017
Having attended the hearings, I know that in fact “positive” stories (note the scare quotes) were told. I remember two in particular: one from the son of a preacher running a residential school somewhere out west, who said (I’m paraphrasing) “Oh, I believe all this horrible stuff happened, but there was lots of good stuff too; I had a great childhood at the school”; and a second from a former nun at one of the schools who went on and on about how Christian the schools were and no matter what happened everyone was better off because they now had Jesus.
These “positive” stories were patently ridiculous. Yeah, sure, some white people who lived or worked at the schools had a good time. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the lived experiences of trauma and abuse of indigenous children and their families.
And so I said so, via a tweet:
— Tim Bousquet (@Tim_Bousquet) May 14, 2017
Alas, while @FancyBebamikawe completely understood my point, a few others thought I was agreeing with Barbara Kay. The @FancyBebamikawe account straightened them out, and someone apologized to me, so all good, but there are still a couple of people retweeting attacks on me, and I now see my name associated with the hashtag
I don’t know… being called an asshole isn’t the worse thing that can happen to me, and my fragile ego isn’t the issue here. Again, when what I write is misunderstood, the fault is usually mine, and I should strive to do better. Maybe Twitter isn’t the best place to have these conversations.
Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Grants Committee (Monday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s a list of this year’s recommended community grants.
Town Hall Meeting – Advisory Committee for Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 6pm, Citadel High School) — deets here.
Halifax Green Network | Final Phase Development (Monday, 6pm, NSCC – Waterfront Campus, Mawiomi Place, Dartmouth) — information here.
Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Tuesday, 4:30pm, Office and Maintenance Building, Point Pleasant Park) — nothing to write home about.
Halifax Green Network | Final Phase Development (Tuesday, 6pm, Atlantica Hotel Halifax) — info here.
The legislature and its committees won’t meet until after the election.
CRC Candidate Interview Seminar in Industrial Engineering (Monday, 10:45am, MA 310) — Floris Goerlandt of Aalto University, Finland, will speak on “Maritime Transportation Risk Management: Policy Context and a View on the Research Field.”
Supporting Career Success in Nova Scotia for New Immigrants (Tuesday, 8:30am, the auditorium named for a fucking bank, McCain Building) — a panel discussion on immigrants’ career experiences; an expo of career resources; and facilitated networking opportunities.
Registration is limited to 100 participants. Free child care will be available. Register here.
Raises are Also Nice (Tuesday, 9am, Room 302, Student Union Building) — Floria Aghdamimehr, a Productivity Wellness Consultant, will present, “Gratitude at Work: A Practice for Getting Results.” Register here.
CRC Candidate Interview Seminar in Industrial Engineering (Tuesday, 10:45, MA310) — Prem Thodi of Memorial University will speak on “Risk Based Decision Making for Marine Systems.”
Digital Forensics (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) —Creighton Barrett will speak on “Digital Forensics Tools and Methodologies in Archival Repositories.”
In the harbour
3:45am: YM Enlightenment, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
6am: Vega Omega, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 41 from San Juan, Puerto Rico
6am: Vera D, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
6:45am: Thorco Luna, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 9 from Becancour, Quebec
10am: Nica, cargo ship, arrives at serth to be determined from sea
4:30pm: Vega Omega, cargo ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
5pm: Vera D, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba
Sorry so late today.