1. El Jones
On Saturday, The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission awarded Examiner contributor El Jones the Dr. Allan Burnley “Rocky” Jones Individual Award for her prisoner advocacy work.
The full list of recipients is:
• Samuel Gregan, Halifax, Grade 9 student at Gorsebrook Junior High, honuored for his work as an LGBTQ advocate
Dr. Allan Burnley “Rocky” Jones Individual Award
• David Leitch, Halifax, recognized for his work improving access to education for people with disabilities
• former Halifax Poet Laureate El Jones and Raymond Tynes, Truro, for their commitment to advancing human rights, equity and inclusion
• Alexa McDonough Institute, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, for its annual Girls’ Conference for girls and young women to learn in a safe space about human rights and social justice issues
• Immigrant Settlement Association of Nova Scotia, Halifax, in recognition of its work and the work of all Nova Scotians who assisted in the settlement of more than 1,100 Syrian
I attended the ceremony and was especially moved by the poem Jones recited. You can read the full text here. (I should start recording these readings.)
Congratulations to Jones!
They say there’s going to be weather today. The CBC is on it.
3. Examineradio, episode #91
Last week saw a meltdown at Province House, with Education Minister Karen Casey locking Nova Scotia students out of their own classrooms while insisting that teachers had to show up to teach, er, no one.
Joining us to try to make sense of events is former cabinet minister and current CBC pundit Graham Steele.
My interview with Steele has gotten a lot of positive feedback, and a lot of shares on social media. I’ve received much email about it as well. Have a listen.
4. Panama Papers — local connections?
“After a year-long investigation into 11.5 million leaked tax haven documents, the Panama Papers were finally made public last April — and they landed like a bomb,” reports Torstar, which is mostly (rightly) plugging its own reporting on the Panama Papers.
But actually, contrary to the article, the Panama Papers themselves were not made public — knowledge of them and some of their contents were made public, but the consortium of news agencies (including Torstar) that reported on them have not made the source documents public.
However, a few people have sent me the link to the Panama Papers database, which catalogs the companies named in the papers, and have suggested to me that both Clearwater and Irving are linked to the Panama Papers. Well, it’s true that companies named “Clearwater” and “Irving” — actually, many companies under both names — are in the database, but there’s no indication that these are the Maritime companies that go by those names. Clearwater appears to be a financial holding company based in the UK, while Irving is a United Arab Emirates holding company.
Which is to say, so far as I can tell, there is no Nova Scotia company mentioned in the Panama Papers.
5. Preparing for the end of the world
At approximately 2:05 p.m. on December 11th Halifax Regional Police responded to a residence in the 0-100 block of Robert Drive in Dartmouth to assist EHS paramedics with an unresponsive man who had ingested Fentanyl.
The 24-year-old man was stabilized by EHS paramedics and transported to hospital and his condition is believed to be improving. Due to the dangers that Fentanyl exposure poses, the residence was secured and HRP Forensic Identification Section members, properly protected and trained in Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear event response collected and stabilized the remaining Fentanyl found inside so that it can be properly disposed of. HRP was assisted by members of the HRFES Hazmat response team.
Yes, we are facing a serious crisis around Fentanyl, and it’s nothing to make light of. But the cops have a team trained in “nuclear event response”?
I realize there are or at least can be radiation incidents far short of a nuclear explosion, and we probably have all sorts of stuff coming and going through the port that could spill, derail, or what have you. Still, labeling a potential radiation incident as a “nuclear event” might not be the best way to calm the public.
Besides that, the response to incident on Robert Drive reflects the “emergenciation” of every police call. Why simply have a cop place all the Fentanyl in an evidence bag when you can send the entire Hazmat team in suits and such? I note we’re also getting “up-fits” for the police hostage negotiation van because you never know, right? Of course the up-fits are super secret because the potential hostage-takers will first read the police department’s tender offer and learn of the potential response before deciding on their hostage-taking strategies, because hostage-takers are that devious.
1. Teachers: light at the end of the tunnel? What tunnel?
“In my role as a university professor,” writes Stephen Kimber, “I occasionally visit classrooms to talk with students. Those brief forays into the P-12 school system have given me some modest appreciation for the incredible work the best of our teachers do, and the increasingly difficult circumstances in which they do it.”
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2. Films about Viola Desmond
Ron Foley MacDonald discusses two films about Viola Desmond:
[Iain] MacLeod’s film was a drama shot in black and white back in 1996, whereas [Brian] Murray’s film is a documentary made in 2012 for his employer, Communications Nova Scotia, to commemorate Canada Post issuing a stamp in Desmond’s honour. Both films run about 45 minutes.
Iain MacLeod took an oblique approach, never showing the actual incident itself but rather letting the word “spread around the town.” In November 1946, he deftly used Desmond’s narrative to set up the tension in order to portray an inter-racial romance. The film was an ambitious costume drama that played to a packed house at the 1996 Atlantic Film Festival. Its unusual length and rough language made further distribution a challenge, and sadly it is mostly unseen today. I remember it vividly, however, as it marked MacLeod as a filmmaker of vision and substance.
For Brian Murray and his film, Long Road To Justice, the story of Viola Desmond was one that needed to be simply and directly retold using modern-day documentary techniques. Because there is little to no footage of Desmond herself, Murray used a blend of dramatic re-creations, punctuated by expert ‘talking head’ testimony and period stock footage. Aside from a quick flash of the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, which opened in 1955, nine years after Viola Desmond’s arrest in 1946, the footage is effective in establishing the “look” of Nova Scotia in the early post World War II years.
3. Province House
Graham Steele has started a blog, “A Citizens’ Guide to the Legislature,” where he explains how Province House works.
I went to Steele’s Facebook page this morning to double-check the placement of an apostrophe in “Citizens’ Guide,” only to find an argument over whether it should be the “Nova Scotia Teachers Union” or the “Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union.”
3. Cranky letter of the day
I look forward each Monday to the ‘Cheers and Jeers’ section of the editorial page, and in virtually every case I’m cheering and booing right along with you.
But this morning I must take issue with your last jeer regarding changing the regulation of the AUS requiring the players to shake hands after a men’s hockey game.
As a former AUS varsity football, basketball, rugby player, head coach in Canadian college football, 11 years in the U.S. coaching men’s and women’s squash and 2014 P.E.I. coach of the year I feel very qualified to comment on athlete expectations relative to sportsmanship and their place in society.
Athletes at every developmental level are expected to compete to the best of their abilities in order to win the contest, and no matter how heated the battle or how poorly they play they are again expected to demonstrate respect towards their opponents.
It seems apparent that those who become professionals or compete internationally for their countries in their respective sport seem to have learned this difficult lesson. In virtually every sport we witness, no matter how physical or contentious, players, once the game is over, demonstrate respect for their opponents by shaking hands.
Why should AUS men’s hockey be any different? I contest that it is the coach and league’s responsibility to assist in teaching this principle.
John Power, Charlottetown
Police Commission (12:30pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Accessibility Committee (4pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
North West Community Council (7pm, Bedford-Hammonds Plains Community Centre) — a handful of proposed developments in Hammonds Plains and Wentworth.
No public meetings.
ProSyWis (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Sascha Alda, from the University of Applied Sciences in Bonn, Germany, will speak on “Complex Event Processing in ProSyWis.” His abstract:
The goal of the research project ProSyWis is to support so-called knowledge workers in their daily business. Knowledge workers are assumed to work on dynamic cases, whose sequence of actions can hardly be foreseen in advance. In contrast to static business models, dynamic cases are continuously driven by exogenous business events (e.g. E-Mails, location-based events, workflow events) or social media events (e.g. Twitter or RSS feeds) as well as by context-based data, as for instance, from previously closed cases or additional case-based meta data (e.g. the liquidity of a client). The CEP engine ESPER has been adopted for gathering, correlating, and analyzing these events. Given the occurrence of an event, further subsequent actions can be invoked within the CEP engine, for instance, for executing cases or business processes in a workflow engine or for reporting events together with recommended actions in a user portal. Stochastic models like MEP (Markov Decisions Process! es) are used to predict optimal strategies for invoking those actions that achieve maximal benefit.
In this presentation, a brief introduction is given to the ProSyWis project. Besides, research results from various master and bachelor theses are presented that have aimed at integrating the CEP engine into the ProSyWis software architecture. A prototype will be presented demonstrating the capabilities of such an engine. Current and future research topics will be addressed in the end of the presentation.
Thesis Defence, Mechanical Engineering (1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate S. Rasoul Asaee will defend his thesis, “Development and Analysis of Approaches and Strategies to Facilitate the Conversion of Canadian Houses into Net Zero Energy Buildings.”
Senate (3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — a report on the “elite” trip to MIT, and the Examiner’s very first “bullshittter of the day,” Matt Hebb, presents. I’ll be there to say hi.
In the harbour
5am: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
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