1. Kristin Johnston
The suspicious death that occurred yesterday morning in Halifax has been ruled a homicide.
At approximately 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, March 26, Halifax Regional Police responded to an unknown trouble call at a home on Oceanview Drive off Purcells Cove Road. Responding officers located a deceased person inside. One man was arrested at the home, however, he required immediate medical attention and was transported to hospital by EHS. Officers released him from their custody yesterday afternoon, pending treatment of his injuries which are described as significant but non-life-threatening. Another man at the residence was transported to Police Headquarters for questioning yesterday morning but was free to leave at approximately 1 p.m. after having spoken with investigators; his involvement in the matter was ruled out.
Based on this morning’s autopsy, the Medical Examiner has ruled the death a homicide and identified the victim as 32-year-old Kristin Elizabeth Johnston. Our thoughts are with her family and friends in the wake of this tragedy.
The man in hospital remains a person of interest in this homicide and investigators are not looking for anyone else at this time. The investigation, led by the Homicide Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division, is ongoing and officers remain at the Oceanview Drive residence today, with Forensic Identification officers continuing to process the scene.
Johnston was well known in Halifax. She moved here in 2011 and started Bikram Yoga, which closed earlier this year.
2. The Peter Principle
“Charlottetown council meets Tuesday to formally appoint former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly as top administrator,” reports the Charlottetown Guardian.
The hire has the appearance of a quid pro quo, as just eight months ago the Guardian reported:
Charlottetown councillors have given themselves a hefty raise.
Quickly, without debate, city council voted Monday on a resolution to accept a report prepared by Peter Kelly on compensation.
Kelly says in the report that he met face to face with councillors to ask them how much time they commit to the job.
“An extensive review of the compensation for council has not taken place in Charlottetown in the last four years,” says the report.
It’s time to see if the pay is in line with the work done and in line with other municipalities of similar size across Canada, it says.
On Kelly’s recommendation, Charlottetown councillors, whose jobs are considered part-time, voted to increase their salaries from $26,700 to $32,700, a 22 per cent pay raise. They were also given free smart phones and internet.
While the hire doesn’t look good, a guy’s gotta eat, right? People shouldn’t have the rest of their lives destroyed for what we euphemistically call “past mistakes.” Here at the Examiner, we’re all about a person with a troubled past being able to reintegrate into society, get a job, be able to support him- or herself, and get on with life without every damn person bringing up the bank job, or the drug deal, or the secretly-writing-cheques-on-the-dead-woman’s-bank-account-and-not-mentioning-it-on-accounting-given-to-the-court thing.
But you know, Kelly is already pulling in a $70,000+ annual pension from his past jobs as Bedford councillor and mayor, and HRM councillor and mayor. And “Kelly will earn a salary between $115,000 and $127,000 as Charlottetown’s CAO,” reports the Guardian.
I don’t think he’s hurting.
Kelly is utterly unintelligible — he can’t string even one coherent sentence together. You ask him a question about A, he gives a long-winded response about Q, and even that doesn’t make sense. Take, for example, this paragraph from the Charlottetown compensation report:
The roles and functions of the Mayor and Councillors in Charlottetown have a greater significance than many similar-sized municipalities, due to the fact that Charlottetown is the capital City of Prince Edward Island and the birthplace of confederation. These factors have added to the impact of a changing, dynamic city. In addition to the obligations and responsibilities related to interfacing with not only towns and communities of Prince Edward Island but Atlantic Canada, and across the Country, as a whole. Charlottetown has a regional and national significance. A collegial and collaborative relationship with the provincial and federal governments is paramount to the success of Charlottetown.
Had I written something like this for my seventh grade English class, Sister David would’ve smacked me upside the head with her yardstick, and then told me to parse each sentence on the blackboard. She’d lecture me about using “nonsense words.” She’d tell me that the point of writing is to convey meaning and to be understood, and not to use inflated language in the misguided belief that it makes you sound smart. “Added to the impact of a changing, dynamic city?!” she’d scream, bringing the ruler across my knuckles. “Interfacing with towns?!!!” — whack — “where’s the verb in that sentence!” — rat-a-tat-tat the ruler would go.
And yet mealy mouthed Kelly has aw-shucksed his way through every old folks’ home in three provinces to continue to get the plum government jobs — never mind accountability or past job performance, much less actual competence. He’s a grifter of the first order.
I’m just saying, maybe it’s time to let someone else get on the government-teat gravy train.
Otherwise, I think the Charlottetown hiring is a perfect example of how the powers that be take care of their own.
“About 100 people gathered outside a Halifax-area Sobeys to ‘give voice; to the reality of racial profiling, and support a local woman who experienced discrimination at the store,” reports Haley Ryan for Metro:
In October, a board of inquiry with Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission found Andrella David of Upper Hammonds Plains had been discriminated against based on her African Nova Scotian race and/or perception of income when an assistant manager at the Sobeys accused her of shoplifting multiple times in 2009, and said they had her on surveillance tape.
According to the board’s decision, David pointed out physical difference between herself and the woman on the tape, and told the manager “if you think that’s me, you must think all black people look alike.”
The manager mentioned catching someone stealing at Sobeys “not too long ago from Pockwock Road” in reference to a street in the historically black Upper Tantallon community, and referenced “cheque day” when discussing which day of the week David was alleged to have shoplifted.
Sobeys is now appealing the board’s decision because they don’t feel David was racially profiled, and don’t believe the human rights board took “into account all the evidence that we had to present,” Sobeys spokeswoman Shauna Selig said after the protest.
4. The Buzzword Palace
Every year or so, the self-important people among us need some sort of confab to congratulate themselves on their masturbatory skills. I can’t create a complete chronicle of these confabs, but it would certainly include the 2008 appearance of Tony Robbins:
In that spirit, Engage Nova Scotia, which is supposedly “address[ing] the economic and demographic challenges” laid out in the Ivany Report, is on April 15 hosting something called “A Worldview Social Systems Taster” at the Halifax Central Library:
When the stakes are high, views on issues often become polarized. In Nova Scotia, a collision of worldviews is lived out every day. How do we have the conversations we need in a way that honours these differences while transforming them into progress?
In this taster workshop we will explore practical ways of getting unstuck and moving forward.
I guess the theory is that if we construct the perfect palace of buzzwords, we’ll achieve economic nirvana. We’ll need an innovation tower over here, a collaborative Great Hall over there, the negativity dungeon beneath…
While we construct the Buzzword Palace, we’ll need minstrels and jesters to cheer us along. In this case, we have Kathy Jourdain and Jerry Nagel, who are purveyors of something called Worldwide Intelligence™ — yep, they’ve trademarked it — which is billed as “a new approach to leadership development, conflict resolution and innovation for your team, organization or community.” (Innovation!)
It’s great fun that bullshit artists have inserted themselves as middlemen conjurers into the construction of the Buzzword Palace. Just as the mafia demands upfront payments from construction subcontractors, Jourdain and Nagel will get their cut before the empty rhetorical foundation is poured.
Talk about entrepreneurship.
Is there a Buy Local Bullshit Conjurers movement? If not, there should be.
Whenever I behold these masturbatory confabs, I can’t help but think, “shouldn’t these people be working?” What’s the productivity hole of an Engage NS meeting? — it must measure in the tens of thousands of dollars, salary-wise.
If you really want to help the provincial economy, maybe go build something and sell it, or offer a service that provides an iota of measurable value to someone somewhere on the planet. A gigantic, highly paid circle jerk ain’t helping no one.
1. Side guards
A staff report discounting placing side guards on city-owned trucks is irresponsible and, unless reversed, will lead to more deaths, says Erica Butler.
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2. Yarmouth ferry
Graham Steele yesterday obtained the heavily redacted contract between the province and Bay Ferries for operation of the Yarmouth ferry; you can read it here. As you can see, the relevant financial obligations are withheld from the public.
Whatever the financials, Michael Gorman points out that the boat won’t do much good if Yarmouth businesses don’t take advantage of it:
On the one hand, having the ship overnight in Yarmouth and leave in the morning should be a boost for hotels, motels and bed and breakfast operators. The ship will also get its fuel and most of its supplies there.
The lateness of the arrival – 9 p.m. – and early departure – 8 a.m. – is a great advantage for the community because people aren’t likely to stray too far after arriving in the evening and they likewise might want to stay in the area the night before departing for Maine.
On the other hand, the schedule could be a disaster for the ferry service’s reputation because Yarmouth business operators have been notorious through the years for failing to open early enough or stay open late enough during the tourist season. The disagreement is often so great among them that it’s a variable patchwork quilt of what’s open and what isn’t in the downtown.
3. Cranky letter of the day
Unbelievable. We struggle to make ends meet, take care of seniors and veterans, work for decades, pay taxes and, for some, serve to protect our country only to wind up disabled in some cases.
Now our new federal government, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has the nerve to appoint seven new senators after campaigning on reducing the Senate.
Is there a reasoning for senators? Is it is not patronage? Do you think?
I’ve heard members of the Senate talk about immigration and climate change, but I’d like to se them talk more about job creation and tax breaks for seniors and veterans who have to choose between food or heat.
In closing, I hope local MPs Mark Eyking and Rodger Cuzner take these suggestions to Parliament. Don’t you think after 40 to 50 years paying into CPP it is time for eliminating or even reducing taxes for seniors? Let them live their lives with dignity and not humiliation.
Dennis Zahara, Sydney
Halifax & West Community Council (6pm, City Hall) — a public hearing on proposed changes to the Rockingham Ridge development.
Human Resources (10am, One Government Place) — Duff Montgomerie and Lora MacEachern — respectively, the deputy minister and associate deputy minister of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education – will be asked about utter failure that is the Graduate to Opportunity Program.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (5pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — the 2006 film directed by Ken Loach:
Against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence, two brothers fight a guerrilla war against British forces.
Syria (6pm, Ondaatje Hall, McCain Building) — explains the event listing:
This public talk will focus on a presention by Maha Nabhan, who will discuss the history, culture and people of Syria. The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion more centered on Syrian refugees, particularly regarding services provided, refugee expectations and experiences. We will also be collecting donations to support a Syrian student currently displaced and residing in Korea to come and study at Dalhousie University, where he has been accepted into the Engineering program. The event will include light refreshments and an opportunity for Q&A.
Over the weekend, the Trudeau government announced that:
A new innovation agenda for the country will help retool the economy to boost economic prospects for everything from high-tech firms to traditional manufacturing, Finance Minister Bill Morneau says.
With Tuesday’s budget behind them, work in government circles will now turn to the government’s next big economic document — a strategy to boost innovation and spur growth.
The so-called “Innovation Agenda” will refine how Ottawa works with post-secondary institutions, provinces, not-for-profit organizations and the private sector to help Canadian firms compete in a changing global economy.
“If you look at successful innovation strategies around the world, they can be very helpful in growing an economy,” Morneau said in an interview with the Star on Thursday in his Parliament Hill office.
Innovation! Oh boy. I particularly like that we’re going to be “innovative” by copying other countries’ innovation strategies.
Like me, Dal prof Matthew Herder is alarmed by the word “innovation”:
I know why the current Liberal federal government under Justin Trudeau, like every other federal government in recent decades, used the term “innovation.” I’ve probably used it in every paper I’ve written since I swore off using the term. If you work on science or technology policy, intellectual property law, or engage in practically any field of research, it’s inescapable. How can anyone be against innovation? The word serves as a powerful marker of human achievement. It signals our capacity to improve our condition through creativity, perseverance, and insight. It means something to nearly everyone and its scope to do good is as limitless as human potential.
Herein lies innovation’s magic, but also its trick — a trick that governments and other actors have long traded on. While in principle boundless, in practice, ‘innovation’ has come to mean something quite narrow.
And that “something quite narrow,” explains Herder, is the privatization of research and — importantly — its profits. It’s becoming impossible to get any research funded that doesn’t have a commercial application.
Herder gives an example of why this is a problem:
The best example to illustrate this fundamental point is a relatively recent innovation that reduces infections in the operating room, called the “surgical checklist.” It cost about $1 million in research funds to show that a surgical checklist could be used effectively to reduce hospital infections regardless of the size of the hospital or its location. The estimated impact of this research in the United States alone was 15,000 lives and $1 billion in treatment costs saved per year.
Now that’s an incredibly valuable innovation. Yet, if getting the $1 million in research funding required buy-in from a private company, we might never have learned that the checklist really worked. That’s because, according to the logic of a company trying to compete in the marketplace, the value of an innovation like a checklist is difficult to capture. I’m sure a clever lawyer could draft a patent application to claim ownership over a surgical checklist, but to make money from that patent the company would have to police health care providers’ thoughts in the operating room — a futile task. More to the point, if research funding depends on the demonstrable commercial relevance of research — as it increasingly does in Canada – innovations like the surgical checklist may never get off the ground.
Whenever you hear someone utter “innovation,” know that there’s either abject stupidity at hand or someone’s got a hidden agenda.
In the harbour
Talia sails to sea
I’m happy to announce that next week (Thursday, April 7) we’ll be recording Examineradio before an audience at the Company House on Gottingen Street. Producer Russell Gragg calls this a “live taping,” which to my ears sounds both oxymoronic and anachronistic, but the short of it is that Mayor Mike Savage has agreed to be interviewed by me, in front of, well, whoever wants to show up. We’ve got a surprise or two in the works, and the whole thing will be recorded — I don’t think they use tape, but I’m no techie — and broadcast the next day on CKDU and published as the Examineradio podcast.
The event is a fundraiser for CKDU radio, which graciously allows us to use its studios to record Examineradio. You can pay 10 bucks at the door or sign up as a “sustainer” for CKDU at $5 per month. I’ll also have Examiner swag for sale.
Russell had the following poster made up for the event, which maybe overplays how aggressive I am as a interviewer, but all in good fun: