1. Alton Gas
This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.
“There is no evidence to support the occupation of land near Fort Ellis by Dale Poulette, Rachael Greenland-Smith, and others,” said N.S. Supreme Court Justice Gerald Moir in an oral decision granting Alton Natural Gas Storage Inc. a temporary injunction. The injunction is aimed at moving two protestors who had been living since 2017 in a makeshift camp or straw-bale hut erected on property owned by the gas company. “There is no basis in law and nothing that justifies the threats of violence.”
The judge said an affidavit from Alton Gas manager Robert Turner as well as video shot and posted to Facebook by Dale Poulette showed that Poulette had made threats that effectively blocked Alton personnel and a Nova Scotia Power employee from making repairs to a pump house and electrical equipment on the banks of the Shubenacadie River.
The injunction orders Poulette and Greenland-Smith to “stop interfering or attempting to interfere by means of force” with anyone entering or leaving riverside properties owned by Alton Gas near Fort Ellis.
The company bought the property in 2008 and plans to proceed later this year with hollowing out two underground salt caverns to store natural gas about 12 kilometres up the road from the Fort Ellis site. A federal regulation is in the works to allow tonnes of brine to be gradually flushed into the river over a three-year period.
The judge characterized the words used by Dale Poulette in a couple of tense confrontations with Alton Gas managers as “threatening and obscene.” Justice Moir said he considered as “threats” statements made by Poulette indicating “he knew where the managers lived” and “he hoped they knew first aid” if they tried to bypass the protestor’s camp to access the worksite beside the river.
Justice Moir determined these threats were evidence the company was being caused “irreparable harm” by protestors blocking access to equipment damaged during a recent power failure. Judge Moir was also critical of a statement Dale Poulette made on camera and posted to social media in which he stated “This is what failed democracy looks like. These guys won’t hinder my treaty rights because we will beat them in court.”
In his ruling, Justice Moir said he also considered the fact that Dale Poulette is a Mi’kmaw man from Eskasoni who considers himself a “water protector.” That’s based on a traditional authority conveyed to him by an elders group of Grandmothers. The lawyer representing the protestors, James Gunvalsen-Klaassen from the non-profit EcoJustice group, had argued Poulette had an aboriginal right to act as he did to protect the river and fish from the discharge of salt from the proposed energy storage development.
But Justice Moir said Poulette is not permitted to claim that treaty right as an individual but only as part of a recognized collective. The judge noted Poulette is not authorized by the neighbouring Sipekne’-katik First Nation to speak on its behalf. Sipekne’-katik’s leaders continue to have dealings with the Province of Nova Scotia and Alton Gas about the future of the $130-million project. The First Nation has appealed the Minister of Environment’s decision to approve the project, but its leaders have not authorized Poulette to represent the band.
“I would want to see more than just an assertion of aboriginal and treaty rights,” said Justice Moir in decision read aloud in a courtroom, where about two dozen people came to support the protestors, some in traditional dress and carrying eagle feathers. “There needs to be a demonstrated right: for example, the Donald Marshall Jr. decision extended the right to fish and to protect fish in the Shubenacadie River. But I see no support for Poulette’s claim to land title.”
Poulette and Rachael Greenland-Smith, his life partner, declined to comment following the court’s decision. Their lawyer said they were “disappointed” and it’s too early to discuss a potential appeal. Outside the courthouse, their supporters cheered, beat drums, and made speeches vowing to keep up the fight against the Alton development.
The upshot of the judge’s ruling is the protestors must tear down the camp which started as symbolic protest in 2016 against putting salt in the river and has become an increasingly volatile situation requiring RCMP vigilance.
Judge Moir says future protests must be confined to a site on Alton Gas property which the company has said it is prepared to offer and which provides visibility to the public. The judge did not extend the injunction to a small piece of Crown land owned by the Province near the Shubenacadie River where an agricultural dyke has been built as part of the project.
Dates will be set April 4 for a hearing where Alton Natural Gas will seek a permanent injunction.
2. Egregious police behaviour
Yesterday, the courts published a decision by Justice Kevin Coady that castigates multiple Halifax police officers for egregious behaviour.
Coady’s decision involves the arrest of Tavia Connolly on May 8, 2015. Police had received a tip from an unnamed confidential informant that Connolly’s Kearny Lake Road house was being used as a “stash house” for illegal cannabis sales. The same day, police began surveilling the house and applied for a search warrant for the house.
About an hour after the surveillance started, police watched a man go into the house and leave soon after. They followed the man in his car, and watched what they described as a drug deal go down in the parking lot of a Shoppers Drug Mart. Police arrested the two men and in their vehicles found 150 grams of cannabis and a key to the Kearny Lake Road house.
Meanwhile, back at the house, Tavia Connelly drove up with her young son. “She was then arrested for possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking,” wrote Coady. “When advised of her right to counsel, she immediately indicated she wanted to speak with counsel. She was distraught. The arresting officer permitted Ms. Connolly to phone her mother to care for the child.”
As part of her arrest, Connolly’s car was searched, and a “small quantity of marijuana and ecstasy, as well as scales, were seized. Connolly was handcuffed and placed in a police car, then transported to police headquarters. She was “placed in a cubicle at 8 p.m. At 8:45 p.m. she was taken to booking to be held for court without exercising the implementation of her … right to consult with counsel.”
At that time, a justice of the peace had not yet signed off on the application for a search warrant. Typically, in such cases, police merely hold the scene, not allowing anyone onto the property to remove or destroy potential evidence, and await for the search warrant to be approved before conducting a legitimate, court-approved search.
But that’s not what happened here. After Connolly was arrested and removed from the Kearny Road property, Sgt. Mike Willett conducted a warrantless search of the house. “In a bedroom behind a closet door he located bags of marijuana,” wrote Coady. “He was alone in the apartment for several minutes.”
Coady doesn’t explain why he mentioned that Willet was alone in the house, but I think we can all read into that a possible suggested meaning. In any event, the search warrant was approved at 12:50am, and a search was conducted until 3am, resulting in the seizure of “large quantities of various drugs including powder cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, hashish and heroin… [and] … four operational handguns as well as related ammunition.”
Back at police headquarters, Connolly wasn’t allowed access to a lawyer until 10:30am — 15-and-a-half hours after she arrived. Coady writes:
Cst. Adam Whynott testified that he was aware Ms. Connolly was taken to booking but he was not aware of any issues around her right to consult with counsel. He subsequently learned it was Cst. Basso’s decision to suspend Ms. Connolly’s contact with counsel. He testified there were phones in both the cubicles and in booking which allowed for both incoming and outgoing calls in both locations.
Cst. Martin Fry testified that Cst. Basso was acting as the chief investigator and was given leeway to make certain decisions. He stated that Cst. Basso would discuss issues with Sgt. Willett. Cst. Fry was the arresting officer and provided the usual cautions. He confirmed that Ms. Connolly immediately requested contact with legal counsel…
Sgt. Peter Burdock is a 30-year veteran of the Halifax Regional Police. On May 8, 2015 he was filling in for the usual watch commander and it was his first shift in that role. The evidence discloses that Cst. Basso instructed him to suspend Ms. Connolly’s phone call to counsel. Sgt. Burdock acquiesced to Cst. Basso’s request.
Coady does not identify Cst. Basso by first name, but I’m aware of only one Basso in the employ of the police department: Laurence Gary Basso, who in 2016 was charged with stealing “cut” from the police evidence room (those charges were dropped) and is now facing charges of assaulting a homeless man.
Coady found that the warrantless search of Connolly’s home was “unreasonable” and so threw out all the evidence collected in the later warranted search. However, Coady found that the search of Connolly’s car was reasonable. But even though the “relatively small” amount of drugs found in her car were obtained legitimately, Coady still threw out the evidence as penalty for the egregious denial of Connolly’s right to legal counsel. Coady wrote:
The breaches in Ms. Connolly’s case are neither fleeting nor technical. On the evidence I find they are profoundly serious and deliberate.
The question remains as to what remedy, if any, is available to Ms. Connolly as a result of two very serious breaches of her s. 10(b) rights. The only relief available would be to rule inadmissible the small amount of drugs found in her vehicle.
I rule that the drugs in Ms. Connolly’s vehicle are excluded as a result of her s. 10(b) violations.
“The group looking to bring a CFL team to Halifax is seeking federal funding for a new stadium,” reports Marco Vigliotti for iPolitics:
Three consultants from Ottawa’s Summa Strategies, including vice-chair and political pundit Tim Powers, registered last week to lobby federally on behalf of Maritime Football Partnership Limited, headed up by former Arizona Coyotes owners Anthony LeBlanc and Gary Drummond, and AMJ Campbell Van Lines president and CEO Bruce Bowser.
David Wallace of Halifax law firm McInnes Cooper is also registered to lobby to seek an evaluation of the team proposal and partnerships with federal, provincial and municipal governments.
In their identical registrations, Powers and Summa colleagues Kristin Wilton and Robin MacLachlan, a notable NDP pundit, say they are targeting in their lobbying efforts MPs, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Canadian Heritage, Health Canada, Infrastructure Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Wallace is registered to focus on Infrastructure Canada and the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat.
Wait… I thought the stadium was going to pay for itself?
The stadium gambit now appears to be to change the provincial rules for municipal borrowing such that the Halifax Regional Municipality can float a bond for the stadium. That, anyway, is how I read “Bill No. 92 – Municipal Government Act (amended) and Halifax Regional Municipality Act (amended)” as introduced in the legislature last week. See Section 15 of Bill 92, which has the following dry legislative language:
Section 79 of Chapter 39 is repealed and the following Sections substituted:
79 The Council shall adopt an operating budget and a capital budget for each fiscal year.
(1) Subject to subsections (2) to (4), the Municipality may only spend money for municipal purposes if
(a) the expenditure is included in the Municipality’s operating budget or capital budget or is otherwise authorized by the Municipality;
(b) the expenditure is in respect of an emergency under the Emergency Management Act; or
(c) the expenditure is legally required to be paid.
(2) The Municipality may expend money provided for in an operating budget or capital budget for a purpose other than that set out in the operating budget or capital budget for that fiscal year if the expenditure does not affect the total of the amounts estimated for the operating budget and the capital budget.
(3) The Municipality may authorize expenditures from its operating budget or transfer money from the operating budget to its capital budget if the total amount of such expenditures and transfers for the fiscal year does not exceed the total amount of estimated revenue from all sources in excess of the amount estimated for those sources in the operating budget for that fiscal year.
(4) The Municipality may authorize capital expenditures that are not provided for in its capital budget if the total of such expenditures does not exceed the greater of
(a) the amount authorized to be transferred from the operating budget to the capital budget under subsection (3);
(b) the borrowing limits established for the Municipality under Section 109; or
(c) the amount withdrawn from a capital reserve fund under subsection 120(4).
(5) In the event of ambiguity in whether or not the Municipality has the authority under this or any other Act to spend money or to take any other action, the ambiguity may be resolved so as to include, rather than exclude, powers the Municipality had on the day before this Section came into force.
79B The Council shall establish procedures to authorize and verify expenditures that are not included in an operating budget or capital budget.
79C (1) The Council shall adopt a policy that requires the Municipality to disclose to the public a list of recipients of grants made by the Municipality and the amounts of those grants.
(2) A policy adopted under subsection (1) must include the
(a) frequency and timing of disclosure;
(b) content to be included in a disclosure; and
(c) form in which the disclosure must be made.
(3) A policy adopted under subsection (1) may include any other matter that the Council considers necessary or advisable to carry out effectively the intent and purpose of the policy.
Like I said, dry. But read that proposed change while thinking, “if they wanted to give the city of Halifax broader powers to quickly come up with financing for a new stadium, what legislative changes would be needed?” See what I mean?
On the other hand… who knows what’s going on behind the scenes, but I’m thinking (hoping, maybe) that the federal lobbyist registrations are a sign of desperation as Leblanc and crew are finding that the votes just aren’t there at city council to get municipal financing and the premier isn’t going to be seen as jumping on board with stadium financing as he’s slashing budgets elsewhere.
4. James Iriving
Speaking of federal lobbying, James Irving, co-CEO at Irving Shipbuilding, has been busy. From the first of the year through February 19 (the most recent lobbying reporting), Irving has had 15 reportable lobbying contacts with federal officials, as follows:
Jan. 10: Taras Zalusky, Director Policy, Procurement and Parliamentary affairs Public Services and Procurement Canada;
Jan. 15: Dale Palmeter, Director of Issues Management Treasury Board Of Canada Secretariat (TBS);
Jan. 18: Mathew Clancy, Press Secretary, Shadow Cabinet | Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition, House of Commons;
Jan. 29: John Ma, Policy Advisor National Defence (DND);
Jan. 29: Thomas McInnis, Senator Senate of Canada;
Feb. 1: John Ma, Policy Advisor National Defence (DND);
Feb. 1: Gianluca Cairo, Chief of Staff Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada;
Feb. 1: Taras Zalusky, Director Policy, Procurement and Parliamentary affairs Public Services and Procurement Canada;
Feb. 4: Sean Phelan, Policy Advisor | Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition, House of Commons;
Feb. 7: Catherine Blewett, Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet Privy Council Office (PCO), and Timothy Sargent, Deputy Minister Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO;
Feb. 7: Bill Matthews, Deputy Minister Public Services and Procurement Canada, and Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister National Defence (DND);
Feb. 7: Pat Finn, Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel) National Defence (DND);
Feb. 11: Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Official Opposition House of Commons, and Daniel Schow, Executive Assistant to the Leader and English Press Secretary | Office of the Official Opposition, House of Commons;
Feb. 11: Taras Zalusky, Director Policy, Procurement and Parliamentary affairs Public Services and Procurement Canada;
Feb. 19: Stephen Greene, Senator Senate of Canada.
Last November, the city issued a tender offer for a consultant to come up with suggestions for a new scoreboard at the $48 NSF Fee Centre and recommended tech upgrades associated with the scoreboard. That $152,200 contract was awarded to Alberta-based VWMason Technology Consultants. And Halifax council has budgeted $4.54 million in capital expenses for the arena, presumably mostly for the scoreboard. (Remind me again why the arena is named after a bank if taxpayers are footing the bill for the scoreboard?)
This morning, the city issued a tender for the scoreboard itself. The technical details of the scoreboard and its related systems are here.
1. Pulp Culture
“In a superb piece of investigative journalism,” writes David Patriquin, “Linda Pannozzo has answered a question I have long wondered about: why are the larger sawmills in NS so supportive of Industrial Forestry/clearcutting when it seems clear that in the longer run those practices undermine the supply of larger diameter logs for sawmills?”
The conclusion I had come to was that given there are still some sizeable chunks of forest stands significantly older than 40-60 years, notably in SW Nova Scotia, clearcutting can still provide larger diameter logs to sawmills and do it at lower expense than selective cutting (at least as long as there is a market for the smaller stuff) and it is the current bottom line that reigns supreme in our industrialized society; technology will take care of the future, e.g. by manufacture of synthetic woods not dependent on large diameter logs.
That may be true as a first approximation, but Linda Pannozzo has provided a much more nuanced explanation to do with improvement in the efficiency of sawmills concurrent with falling diameters of logs, and a shift in the production of chips from the pulp mills to the sawmills.
View Pulp Culture: How Nova Scotia’s Faustian bargain with the pulp industry may leave the sawmills in ruins, Linda Pannozzo in Halifax Examiner (subscription required for full article; precis in Morning File for Mar 13, 2019.).For anyone who like myself is struggling to understand forestry in NS, it’s well worth the $10 monthly subscription for access to the full article.
Lake Echo Community Park – Engagement Meeting (Tuesday, 6:30pm, Lake Echo Community Recreation Society) — from the listing:
You are invited to participate in the next phase of the park planning process. Join us as we unveil a park concept that was informed by the public feedback collected during the fall of 2018.
No public meetings.
No public meetings this week.
Thesis Defence, Chemistry (Tuesday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Fabien Lindeperg will defend his thesis, “Investigation of P-H, O-H, and Si-H Oxidative Addition Involving Group 9 Metal Psip Complexes.”
Free tax clinic (Tuesday, 5:30pm, room 5001, Rowe Management Building) — volunteers will assist those with a modest income and simple tax filing to file taxes on their own. Contact person here.
Building Community While Empowering young Adults (Wednesday, 6pm, Room 307, Student Union Building) — from the listing:
The Black Student Advising Centre presents our annual Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day event. Come join our panelists as we discuss all we’ve accomplished and the strides we have to go in racial equality. The discussion will later focus on how we can empower each other to overcome these barriers and be able to move forward.
Speakers: Bria Symonds, Aisha Abawajy, Odeisa Stewart, Marcia McGregor and Adebayo Majekolagbe.
No public events.
In the harbour
10am: YM Enlightenment, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
10:35: Brighton, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
11am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
I dislike Tuesdays.
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