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1. William Shrubsall
The Parole Board of Canada agrees that dangerous offender William Shrubsall is still a danger, writes Stephen Kimber. “So why grant him full parole? Good question. Bad answer.”
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2. Cannabis dispensary owner shot dead
The man killed in Spryfield Friday night was the owner of a cannabis dispensary that was firebombed in August.
A police release from Saturday:
At approximately 8:54 p.m. on November 23, Halifax Regional Police responded to a weapons call in the 0-100 block of Clovis Street in Halifax. A 25 year old male was pronounced deceased after being transported to the hospital. The name of the deceased is being withheld at this time. An autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon.
Investigators believe the victim was shot inside his residence and that more than one person was involved in the offence.
Major crime investigators and members of the forensic identification unit remain at the scene. Police are continuing to interview witnesses.
Though we are in the early stages of the investigation, police don’t believe this incident is random.
Later in the day police confirmed that he was Ryan Michael Nehiley. Judging by social media posts, Nehiley appears to have been the father of two young children.
Neihley is registered as the owner of the Chronic Releaf Medical Dispensary on Joseph Howe Drive. In August, police investigated what they deemed a “suspicious” fire at Chronic Releaf, reported Rebecca Lau for Global:
Officers received a report of the fire at Chronic Releaf Medical Dispensary at 3700 Joseph Howe Drive just before 12:30 a.m. Thursday.
The caller reported seeing a person set fire to the business and then running away.
According to the witness, the suspect was a tall man, wearing all black, and had his face covered. He was also carrying a bookbag.
Police, firefighters and EHS all responded to the fire, which was extinguished. Although police and a service dog searched the area for the suspect, they were unable to find him.
In court documents obtained by the Halifax Examiner, police Detective Constable Pat O’Neill wrote that Chronic Releaf had been “firebombed”:
While on the face of it marihuana dispensaries appear to be relatively harmless enterprises, there have been many incidents as of late where dispensaries have been targeted for violent robberies, their owners have been the victims of home invasions, and most recently a marihuana dispensary on Joseph How Drive in Halifax was firebombed (this dispensary was on the ground floor of a multi-level apartment building). Dispensaries are targeted by rival groups or criminals because the benefit of robbing a dispensary is that two valuable commodities can be obtained for the price of one robbery. Dispensaries place the communities they are in at risk due to the incidents of that nature.
In October, police raided Chronic Releaf and another dispensary, and arrested 10 people.
Police have not said if Neihley’s death is related to the operation of Chronic Releaf.
3. White people
Writes El Jones:
It’s the start of the holiday season, and white people, you know what that means! It’s the time of year where your racist relatives say terrible things to you over the dinner table.
4. Court reporting
Every time I start worrying I spend too much time at the courthouse, I discover some little gem like Friday’s story on John Risley.
More to the point, however, is that I started concentrating more on the courthouses and court coverage because I saw a giant hole in local reporting on courts. Judging by newspaper archives, 20 years ago there were probably a dozen local reporters whose full-time beat was court coverage; now there are just two: Steve Bruce at the Chronicle Herald and Blair Rhodes at the CBC. (Other reporters cover the courts during high-profile murder cases, but that’s not their full-time beat.) Bruce and Rhodes do good work — I’ve learned a lot from them through osmosis — but they’re just two people, and it’s simply impossible for them to provide the depth and breadth of the court coverage that an informed society needs.
And court coverage isn’t just gossip about criminals and other ne’er-do-wells. There are important issues to be found in court documents or by just showing up at random trials. Two examples come to mind.
First was when El Jones attended the preliminary inquiry of two people charged with murder. She was the only media presence in the courtroom, which would have been unheard of 20 years ago; in the 1990s, such a preliminary inquiry might see five reporters from competing news outlets in the courtroom.
As Jones reported, Judge Daniel MacRury had ordered two jail officials — Captain Jason Smith from Pictou and Captain Brad Ross from Burnside — to appear in court to explain how sensitive discovery documents had been lost by the jails. Wrote Jones:
There are two significant issues here. One is the right of the defendant to access disclosure, a fundamental right which goes to his ability to have a fair trial. The other is that the sensitive information has been missing for over a month, and no one has any idea where it is. The documents include crime scene photos, names of witnesses, video of statements to the police, and other evidence. The privacy of every person named in those files has been compromised.
This is a very big deal, and we would not know about it had Jones not been present in the courtroom. It’s impossible to know what other issues that should concern us are being revealed in courtrooms across the city — impossible, because there are no reporters in the courtrooms to record it.
The second example of important issues being discovered by court reporters was Blair Rhodes’ coverage last week of the trial of automobile repair garage owner Elie Hoyeck, who is facing labour code charges related to the death of mechanic Peter Kempton. Kempton was removing a gas tank with a blow torch; the resulting explosion killed him. The issues at play are interesting — as Rhodes reports, Hoyeck is the first person ever charged under the so-called Westray Law.
And the trial unfolded with some sadly typical Nova Scotia drama, which Rhodes caught in his Twitter coverage of the trial:
Hoyeck in his police interview repeats his assertion that Kempton always had beer in his coffee club. “Peter was a friend of mine.” He says a week after the explosion he was still seeing Peter on fire in his mind. #nscourt
— Blair Rhodes (@CBCBlairRhodes) November 22, 2018
Hoyeck repeats to police that he still doesn’t understand how Kempton died but he suggests one of his daughters could have killed him to get his money. #nscourt
— Blair Rhodes (@CBCBlairRhodes) November 22, 2018
Hoyeck says “Peter should have known, first of all, to put his glasses on.” He says he put his life on the line for Kempton. And on the question of what he ordered Kempton to do “If I ordered him to jump off the bridge, would he jump off the bridge.” #nscourt
— Blair Rhodes (@CBCBlairRhodes) November 22, 2018
Hoyeck tells Allison that he didn’t override Kempton. He says Kempton didn’t do much work because he was slow “He’s not the greatest worker in the world.” #nscourt
— Blair Rhodes (@CBCBlairRhodes) November 23, 2018
So to recap, after Peter Kempton died, Elie Hoyeck told authorities in recorded statements that Kempton was: blind, slow, drunk, accident prone and a poor worker who died because he made a serious mistake. #nscourt
— Blair Rhodes (@CBCBlairRhodes) November 23, 2018
But that’s not what’s remarkable about this trial. Rather, this is:
BREAKING: The jury in the criminal negligence trial of Elie Hoyeck has been dismissed and the trial will proceed by judge alone. The move follows questions from a juror and the activity of one of the Crowns. #nscourt
— Blair Rhodes (@CBCBlairRhodes) November 22, 2018
As Rhodes explained in a follow-up article:
The sudden switch follows a question from a juror and the activity of one of the Crown attorneys in the case.
The juror who started it all submitted a written question to the judge. She wanted to know why she and some of the other jurors had had their LinkedIn profiles searched by Crown prosecutor Alex Keaveny.
She questioned whether the search was appropriate and asked why it was only done for some jurors.
Keaveny apologized to the court. He says his only intention was to find out more about some jurors who had been vague about their backgrounds on the forms they were required to fill out.
He said he did a simple Google search and the first thing that popped up was the LinkedIn profiles.
LinkedIn informs account holders when their profile is examined and who’s doing it, which is how the juror found out what Keaveny had done.
Justice James Chipman accepted Keaveny’s explanation that it was inadvertent. But the judge said the optics for trial fairness are bad and that it taints the process.
Chipman reluctantly agreed with the joint Crown and defence recommendation to dismiss the jurors.
This raises all sorts of disturbing questions.
Chipman apparently urged people not to draw comparisons with the Oland trial, in which a mistrial was called because Saint John police were doing background checks on potential jurors to see if they had had any “negative” interactions with police.
But it’s difficult not to compare the Hoyeck and Oland situations. In both cases, jurors — who are the ultimate decision-makers in criminal trials — were being investigated, apparently to see if they were “friendly” to police and/or prosecutors. “Jury shopping” is the term for this, and it is antithetical to the jury system.
We wouldn’t know about it in the Hoyeck case were it not for two unusual situations. First: against the judge’s orders, a juror checked her email during the trial and saw that a prosecutor had checked her LinkedIn profile. Second: Rhodes was in the courtroom to report on it.
So what I want to know is: How many times has this happened in the past, but we simply never heard about it? Is it a normal, recurring practice for the crown to be checking up on jurors?
I fear this may be the tip of a very large iceberg. We have Rhodes to thank for discovering it. Now it must be mapped.
5. Santa Parade death
This terrible story was told in an RCMP release yesterday morning:
At 6:58 p.m. last evening [Saturday evening], Yarmouth Town RCMP responded to an incident on Starrs Rd. in Yarmouth during the Santa Claus parade. A 4-year-old girl had fallen under a passing float in the parade, resulting in her being transported by EHS to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, she was pronounced deceased.
“Vance Webb, a retired machinist who lives on the outskirts of Yarmouth, attended Saturday’s parade with his wife, stepson and three grandchildren,” reports the CBC:
“We were just watching the parade, and then about 30 feet away, I hear — all of a sudden, the float stops, and I kinda see something on the ground,” Webb told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.
“Then all of a sudden, we just heard screaming. It was pretty close to us.”
Webb said the entire scene descended into “mayhem” as people realized what had happened.
“People within 50 feet of it — none of us are OK. All the adults were crying. Everywhere I saw, there were hundreds of people crying,” said Webb. “This is really gonna affect the town.”
Via train near the Halifax station tied up. pic.twitter.com/n3ovzKnUQp
— michael gorman (@MichaelTGorman) November 25, 2018
“More than 100 people have been affected by a Via Rail cancellation thanks to a train derailment in Halifax on Sunday,” reports Haley Ryan for StarMetro Halifax:
According to an emailed statement from Via Rail spokesperson Marie-Anna Murat, three cars derailed in the company’s maintenance centre yard in Halifax early Sunday.
The Via Rail maintenance yard is located in the city’s south end, and can be seen from bridge overpasses like the one on Young Ave. The tracks continue along the harbourfront before ending up at the main terminal on Hollis St., beside The Westin hotel.
There were no passengers on-board at the time of the derailment, and no injuries were reported, Murat said.
Via provided no other details about how the derailment happened, or how long it will take to fix.
Some years ago I took the train from Montreal to Halifax on New Year’s Eve, and the engine of the train derailed in the rail cut. We were just a few hundred metres from the station, and despite the crew trying to keep passengers on the train, people just abandoned the vehicle and hiked through the snow so they could get to their New Year’s Eve parties before the midnight hour. Ever since, I’ve wondered how safe that stretch of track is; how do trains just derail?
7. Stephen and me
“Recently I was at an event in town and someone I don’t know well introduced me to his friend,” writes Stephen Archibald:
He thought for a moment about how to describe me, and then brightened and said “Stephen appears to be the only person Tim Bousquet actually likes.”
This was clearly not true, because all month Tim has been telling readers of his online news site, Halifax Examiner, how much he appreciates the little group of reporters and columnists who produce some of his content. His love-fest is part of an Examiner subscription drive. You should consider signing up, like I did in August 2014, just weeks after publication began. Examiner offers a daily dose of “independent, adversarial news. . . devoted to holding the powerful accountable.” Kinda what we all need these days, don’t you think?
I’ve only ever met Tim a couple of times in real life and he has constructed a pretend image of me based on my blogs. My posts sometimes include stuff from around the house (why wouldn’t I save my smallpox vaccination certificate from 1952 or candy wrappers from the 1970s). Tim has embraced a fantasy that these doo-das reside in a “Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse that Stephen Archibald calls home.”
Archibald remembers something I had forgotten about:
On April 17, 2015 he used a short blog of mine about images of the Titanic to do a riff about what he considers the best science fiction short story ever written. Scroll down to #5 to experience Tim embracing a particular enthusiasm. He concludes his piece by elevating our storage closet to “the repository of all human knowledge.”
“Four thousand years from now some alien civilization happens upon our burned out planet and wonders who we were, they’ll know to visit Archibald’s house, the Earth equivalent of the Phoenix Nebula Vault — the repository of all human knowledge.”
Let the mutual admiration society continue.
Halifax Peninsula Advisory Committee (Monday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Public Information Meeting – Case 21355 (Monday, 7pm, Millwood Elementary School, Middle Sackville) — George Armoyan wants to build a bunch of junk in Sackville.
City Council (Tuesday, 10am, Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel) — I’ll have more to say tomorrow.
Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — a per diem meeting.
First Row Transition Metal Complexes of a Dianionic Pentadentate Ligand: Metal Oxos, Oxyls and Hydroxides (Monday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Warren E. Piers from the University of Calgary will speak.
Existence results for impulsive boundary value problems via variational methods and critical point theory (Monday, 3:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Shapour Heidarkhani from Razi University and Dalhousie will speak. His abstract:
The theory and applications of impulsive functional differential equations are emerging as an important area of investigation, since it is far richer than the corresponding theory of non-impulsive functional differential equations. Various population models, which are characterized by the fact that per sudden changing of their state and process under depends on their prehistory at each moment of time, can be expressed by impulsive differential equations with deviating argument, as population dynamics, chemotherapy, ecology and epidemic, etc. In the last decades, impulsive differential equations have become more important in some mathematical models of real processes and phenomena studied in spacecraft control, impact mechanics, industrial robotics, physics, chemistry, chemical engineering, biotechnology, economics and inspection process in operations research. It is now recognized that the theory of impulsive differential equations is a natural framework for a mathematical modelling of many natural phenomena. In this talk we are going to discuss the existence of solutions for boundary value problem with impulsive effects via variational methods and critical point theory. We present some examples to demonstrate the application of our main results.
Bookstore Annual Yard Sale (Tuesday, 9am, 2nd floor, Student Union Building) — this year in a new location.
Thesis Defence, Chemistry (Tuesday, 9:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Luke Murphy will defend his thesis, “Synthesis and Catalytic Application of PSiP- and P,N-Ligated Complexes of First-Row Metals.”
Deep Learning for Audio (Tuesday, 11:30am, in the auditorium named after a bank, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Sageev Oore will speak:
In this talk, I will present two contrasting approaches to building generative models for audio with deep learning techniques:
1) In the TimbreTron system (developed in collaboration with students and faculty at U of Toronto and Vector), we learn to manipulate the timbre of a sound sample from one instrument to match that of another while preserving musical content such as pitch and rhythm. I will describe how we do this by combining a CycleGAN architecture, appropriate spectral representations and a conditional WaveNet synthesizer.
2) In PerformanceRNN (developed in collaboration with researchers at Google, and with subsequent developments in collaboration with undergraduate students at Dalhousie FCS), we work directly with MIDI data rather than raw audio, which allows us to treat music generation as language-modeling problem. We use a conditional LSTM to generate solo piano music based on a dataset of human performances.
I will also provide overviews as needed throughout the talk of concepts related both to audio generation (e.g. “What is MIDI? What are spectral representations?”) as well as to deep learning techniques (e.g.”What is CycleGAN?”).
Race and Sport in Canada (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 303, Student Union Building) — Ornella Nzindukiyimana from St. FX will speak. Register here.
Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — among a few other items, the board will discuss doing away with the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Institute, which was begun in 2013. I don’t know the reason(s) for that.
Acadian Women and Local Vernacular in Dress: the Sewing Kit (Tuesday, 7:30pm, Burke Theatre A) — a talk by grad student Hilary Doda for the Nova Scotia Archaeology Society:
Sewing tools are often found at Acadian colonial sites during archaeological excavation, and those simple collections of scissors, needles and thimbles have a lot to say. The amount of documentation available about the daily lives of Acadians prior to the deportation is small, and even more so when it comes to the work of Acadian women. Their domestic lives deserve further exploration, particularly in regards to women’s contribution to the growing sense of Acadian community over the course of the early eighteenth century. This talk looks at sewing kits and their role in Acadian women’s lives, as well as the web of relationships that the tools reveal.
Why Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel are NOT Anti-Semitic (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 225 in the building named after a grocery store) — a panel discussion presented by CAAJP (Canadians, Arabs and Jews for a Just Peace). Speakers include Virginia Tilley from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; Ismail Zayid, author of Palestine, A Stolen Heritage; and Larry Haiven, author of Antisemitism in Context: Its Use and Abuse.
In the harbour
Lots of fun at the Examiner party last night! I overslept; I’ll post photos tomorrow.
I have no copeeeditor today. Please be kind.