1. Matthew Hines
“Correctional Service Canada has fired one staff member and disciplined three others after an inmate was beaten and repeatedly pepper-sprayed at a New Brunswick prison before his death,” report Karissa Donkin and Joan Weeks for the CBC:
The top correctional official in Atlantic Canada admits there was “staff misconduct” and “excessive force” in the case of Matthew Hines, who died in hospital on May 27, 2015 — less than two hours after his struggle with guards at Dorchester Penitentiary began.
CBC News has also learned that RCMP have reopened the criminal investigation into Hines’s death, after saying last month their investigation was finished and foul play had been ruled out.
But “additional information” has since come to the RCMP’s attention, prompting police to “re-examine” the case, according to Const. Hans Ouellette, a spokesman for the New Brunswick RCMP.
Donkin and Weeks should be congratulated for their good work on this story. Their reporting has revealed a coverup of improper behaviour both before and after Hines’ death.
A man dying in custody of the state and a subsequent coverup of the circumstances of that death should concern us all.
2. St. Pat’s – Alexandra
Regional Council has approved a settlement agreement between the Halifax Regional Municipality and Jono Developments Ltd., which resolves a long-standing legal matter regarding the sale of the former Saint Patrick’s Alexandra school property.
As per the terms and conditions of the property sale, Jono Developments Inc. will purchase the property from the municipality for the sum of $3,629,400. The purchase price is based on the original agreement price of $3,000,000 adjusted to current market value using property assessment growth over the elapsed time period.
What about the community groups in the area that were hoping to use the school site? I assume they’ll struggle along in their collapsing buildings until they hit some pressure point of maintenance costs and a surging real estate market. The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre site might one day become condos.
The community group issue aside, I think Joe Metlege is one of the better developers in the region. I say that in part because rather than quickly flipping buildings (and their structural liability) as condos, Metlege holds ownership and rents them as apartments — that suggests a long-term commitment to the buildings, and so they are built to a better standard.
But there are two issues at the St. Pat’s – Alexandra site. The first is the increasing gentrification of the area. If managed carefully (a big if), gentrification can bring some positive results for existing residents, but on balance right now in the north end not many of those benefits are being realized. As just one example, despite some valiant efforts by Michelle Strum, the new restaurant scene is not providing many employment opportunities for young people from the neighbourhood.
The second issue is that no matter how well he constructs and manages his buildings, Metlege seems to be in a holding pattern. The promised rebuild and expansion of Fenwick Tower in the south end has been drastically scaled back and is moving slowly.
And Metlege acquired the Trinity Anglican Church property on Cogswell Street in 2008 with the intent to build a 19-storey building; eight years later the land is being used as a parking lot.
It cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain the empty St. Pat’s building, so I’m guessing Metlege will soon tear it down. As with the church property on Cogswell, will the school property sit empty for the next decade?
3. George Baker
George Baker, the Amherst town councillor who recently used a racial slur, was admonished in a 1999 court decision related to a wrongful termination by the town, reports Robert Devet:
Justice J.E. Scanlan comes down very hard on the Town, then mayor Joyce Gouchie, and councillor Baker.
“Councillor Baker made unfounded allegations accusing some staff of criminal activity. These baseless allegations only served to further demoralize the Town staff and department heads,” the judge writes in his decision.
“I am satisfied Councillor Baker was inclined to make allegations that were without substance whenever it suited his objectives,” the judgement states. “Councillor Baker also made sexual references to the plaintiff’s wife… The plaintiff explained that he didn’t enjoy those comments.”
There is much more, but readers will get the idea.
It should be noted that current Councillor Wayne Bishop, [sic, Bishop was a councillor in the 1990s, but is not currently a councillor] who is running for mayor as well, is also negatively referenced in the judgement, although less prominently so.
The case involved Eric Mourant, who had been hired on a probationary basis as Town Manager on May 1, 1996 and fired on January 31, 1997.
As Devet writes, there’s “much more” detail in the decision, but this part particularly jumped out at me:
In addition to the abuse I have referred to above that was heaped upon the plaintiff by Councillor Baker, Councillor Baker repeatedly made fun of the plaintiff’s francophone heritage. This continued even after the plaintiff had complained to other Councillors about these comments. Councillor Baker also made sexual references to the plaintiff’s wife whom Mr. Mourant had just married in August of 1996. The plaintiff explained that he did not enjoy those comments. The plaintiff indicated that he did not tell Councillor Baker to stop making the comments because he was on probation and Councillor Baker was telling Mr. Mourant that he would not make it through his probation. At one time the plaintiff indicates that he did speak to Councillor Small in relation to the problems with Councillor Baker but Councillor Small indicated that Councillor Baker was a loose cannon and there was nothing he could do about it.
In another incident the plaintiff addressed a concern that one of the employees had in relation to Councillor Baker. Councillor Baker had a habit of referring to the employee as “sweety”, “honey”, “dear”, etc. This employee indicated to the plaintiff she did not like being addressed that way. When the plaintiff raised the issue with Councillor Baker, Councillor Baker simply started to yell and he became very aggressive and denied he was acting inappropriately. After the plaintiff raised the issue with Mr. Baker, Mr. Baker called the employee. Councillor Baker suggested to the employee that he did not realize it was a problem and that he would not do it anymore. As Councillor Baker was hanging up the phone he addressed the employee as “dear”.
Scanlan awarded Mourant nine months’ back pay and $15,000 in punitive damages against the town.
The decision was published 17 years ago; ever since Baker has been reelected as councillor. And now, in the wake of the latest racial slur, the town can’t seem to find the will or the way to pass a simple censure motion against him.
4. Port of Sydney
“Port of Sydney CEO Marlene Usher will speak on Monday, September 26, at a Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon (tickets $35),” writes Mary Campbell. “Her subject? What else, the Port of Sydney Project. Here’s the description from the chamber’s web site”:
The newly dredged harbour for the Port of Sydney is pivoted to play a strategic role in the future advancement of CBRM’s economy. Considerable activity is currently ongoing within this economic engine with many players at work. The harbour is currently host to Marine Atlantic Ferry, CME ship repair, Logistec Stevedoring, PEV bulk materials handling, McKeil Marine and tug service, Esso petroleum terminal, Canadian Coast Guard College, MV Osprey trawler operations, East Coast Metal Fabricators, Sydport docking facilities, Louisbourg Seafoods, Dobson and Northern Yacht Clubs, and the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion.
Much work is also underway evaluating the nearby Greenfield site for potential uses. Talks of waterfront development including constructing a second cruise dock at the Joan Harriss Cruise Terminal, a new 8 storey mixed use commercial/residential complex, and relocation of the NSCC campus to the Sydney waterfront are a buzz in our community as well.
As for the “activity” going on in Sydney harbour, all of it, with the exception of the McKeil Marine tug service (which cost the CBRM a cool $1.2 million to “secure”) was happening in the harbour BEFORE the dredge. (CME arrived in 2014, but it bought an existing business, so no net gain in “activity.” Throw in the controversial Archibald’s Wharf purchase, and many on the Northside would tell you we’re in loss territory.)
All this “activity” was happening before the CBRM created a port corporation, stacked its board with elected municipal officials, seconded an ACOA executive with no experience in port development as a CEO (at a whopping $200,000 a year salary) and hired a pair of port “developers” who would not be out of place in a musical comedy about the subject. (“Oh we got trouble! With a capital “T,” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for PORT!”)
This laundry list of companies “active” on the harbour is intended to impress but instead drives home just how little has been accomplished in harbor development since completion of the $37 million dredge in 2012.
I added in a bunch of “U”s in the above quotes to correct the American spellings.
1. Sausage smuggling
Chris Lambie relates the weird story of Alicja Krzychowiec, who was caught unwittingly smuggling sausages into Halifax’s airport.
2. Sam Langford
John Demont tracks down the childhood home of Sam Langford and along the way tells Langford’s story:
It must have been a relief for everyone in that big family when Sam, who had grown tired of the beatings from his father, ran away to Boston at the age of 12.
One day — dressed in rags, his toes sticking out of the holes in his shoes — Langford walked into a drugstore owned by a hustler named Sam Woodman, who also operated a small fight gym. In time, Hype Igoe, the most renowned of all 1950s American boxing writers, called Langford “the greatest fighter pound-for-pound who ever lived.”
Jack Dempsey, a brawler of alarming ferocity, said he feared no man on earth but he was afraid of Sam Langford who, in his prime, was nearly 13 centimeters shorter and 22 kilograms lighter than the world heavyweight champion.
After a bout with Jack Johnson, who went on to become the world’s first Black heavyweight champion, Johnson refused to ever again fight another Black boxer, including Langford. Continues Demont:
So Langford, who possessed thunder in either hand to go with a tactical genius, became a sort of wandering ronin fighting for lesser titles and smaller purses throughout Europe and South America, absorbing tremendous punishment along the way. In 1923, fat and 40 years old, he won the heavyweight championship of Spain in Mexico City. He was technically blind at the time.
Otherwise, Langford seemed to have dropped from sight until 1944 when a New York boxing writer found him blind and living alone in a Harlem tenement.
In his 2006 book about Langford, American writer Clay Moyle tells us what happened next: How a trust was set up for the fighter. How Langford eventually moved back to his old Boston stomping ground where he lived for a time in a gloomy hotel and finished his days in a nursing home, spending most of his time in a chair, smoking a cigar or chewing tobacco, listening to the radio and regaling visitors with tales of the past.
“There has always been and always will be a fuzzy line between advertising your services as an MLA and advertising your desire to be re-elected,” writes Graham Steele. “I’ve walked that line myself.”:
Sixteen MLAs have spent a total of $34,317.24 on advertising kitsch like seed packages and Frisbees since August of 2014, CBC News reported this week.
It’s no coincidence that every single one of the MLAs mentioned in Jean Laroche’s story were first elected in 2013. They never felt the sting of the 2010 expense scandal.
It’s true that a beach ball isn’t going to break a budget of $10 billion.
I was the finance minister in the midst of the MLA expense scandal of 2010. I wanted people to focus on the big picture, but it was hard. I heard a lot more about briefcases, bar fees and generators than I did about health, education and jobs.
Eventually I learned to live with the fact expense scandals are not about the money.
They’re about attitude.
4. Cranky letter of the day
There is understandable anger at the destruction of affordable urban housing by Rob Steele’s Honda dealership on Robie Street. Perfectly acceptable housing is being bought up, boarded up and then knocked into matchwood to make more parking, when Mr. Steele owns vast amounts of car dealership parking all along Kempt Road and elsewhere in Metro.
I received a reminder from Mr. Steele’s Subaru dealership in Halifax to tell me that the 2017 models are soon to arrive. I have just sent the salesperson with whom I purchased a Subaru a letter indicating that, in protest of Mr. Steele’s destruction of urban housing on all three sides around his Steele Honda business, I will not easily deal with a company owned by Mr. Steele again. While it may be perfectly legal, his is a morally bankrupt action.
Alan Ruffman, Halifax
No public meetings.
Abortion (12:10pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Veronica Undurraga, from Adolfo Ibanez University in Chile, will speak on “The role of transnational law on abortion reforms in Latin America.” If you get there by noon, there’s free lunch in room 312.
Nonamaterials (1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Aicheng Chen will speak on “Design and electrochemical study of nanomaterials for green chemistry and medical applications.”
“Trans-Atlantic Cartography and the American Revolution” (3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, Room 1170) — Jack Crowley will speak.
In the harbour
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at HalTerm from Saint-Pierre
7:30am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John
9am: Energy Progress, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
10:30am: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Charlottetown with up to 540 passengers
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
6:30pm: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
6:30: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Boston
5:30am: Adriatic Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Bremerhaven, Germany
6am: Maersk Palermo, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Montreal
11:30am: Adriatic Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
On Wednesday I interviewed Ed Greenspon, the former Globe & Mail editor who is now CEO of the Public Policy Forum. Greenspon is charged with “examining the state of media in Canada” and making recommendations to the Trudeau government about policy changes and possible financial support for media organizations. Our conversation will be part of the Examineradio podcast, to be published later today.
Please consider subscribing to the Examiner. Just $5 or $10 a month goes a long way. Or, consider making a one-time contribution via PayPal. Thanks much!