Writes Stephen Kimber:
Last week, Halifax City Council again/still/always decided to re-re-re-write its planning bylaws on the fly for the greater good and increased profit of a private developer whose books it didn’t bother examining, let alone asking to glimpse once, maybe upside down on the desk, even just in passing…
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“Even as its first year of operation drew to a close, the Donkin coal mine in Cape Breton continued to regularly violate provincial safety standards and pose hazards to employees,” reports Frances Willick for the CBC:
Inspection records over the course of the year reveal details of rockfalls and poor air quality monitoring. One inspector found that if there was an emergency, rescue attempts could not be made until workers arrived from Pugwash, N.S. — a 4½-hour drive away.
The latest batch of inspection reports released by Nova Scotia’s Labour Department under the freedom-of-information law show that from the mine’s opening at the end of February 2017 until the end of February 2018, the province carried out 26 inspections, and issued 35 compliance orders and 71 warnings.
3. Police shooting
The Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the shooting of man in Westphal by RCMP officers Saturday. SIRT’s first release:
At approximately 8:00 this [Saturday] morning, Halifax District RCMP members responded to a weapons call in a home in Westphal involving a 24 year old male. The male suspect fled the home and entered a wooded area. While attempting to locate the male, a confrontation occurred resulting in officer’s [sic] discharging their firearms.The suspect was found to be deceased at the scene.
As the investigation continues, SiRT is asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident to please contact them at 1-855-450-2010 with any information they may have.
SIRT is responsible for investigating all serious incidents involving police in Nova Scotia, whether or not there is an allegation of wrongdoing. Investigations are under the direction and control of independent civilian director Felix Cacchione.
SIRT can independently launch an investigation or begin one after a referral from a chief of police, the head of the RCMP in Nova Scotia, or the Minister of Justice. It can also investigate after a complaint from the public.
The Police Act requires the director to file a public report summarizing the results of the investigation within three months after it is finished.
Yesterday, SIRT identified the man who was killed:
The Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) has confirmed the identity of the 24 year-old male involved in the police shooting that took place in Westphal, Nova Scotia on Saturday, May 26, 2018.
Bradley Thomas Clattenburg of Truro, Nova Scotia was involved in a confrontation with Halifax District RCMP that resulted in officers discharging their weapons. Mr. Clattenburg was pronounced deceased at the scene.
SIRT was created so that police agencies wouldn’t be investigating themselves or each other. It’s a good step, but it’s not enough. A man was shot dead by police. That is the ultimate power we’ve entrusted to police — the power to kill. It’s imperative that when the police kill, there is complete transparency.
And yet, it’s been two days and we don’t know even the bare facts of the case: how many police officers fired their weapons, how many bullets struck Clattenburg, if medical care was provided, etc.
This must not be shelved for a three-month investigation. Investigators should be forthcoming, and facts should be made public as soon as they are discovered.
Recall the case of Corey Rogers. Rogers died in police custody and yet investigating agencies, including SIRT, refused to identify Rogers for over a year. Even then, it took another six months before booking officers Dan Fraser and Cheryl Gardner were charged with criminal negligence causing death:
The province’s Serious Incident Response Team, which was called in to investigate the case, alleges the special constables caused Rogers’ death “by accepting (him) into custody without medical assessment, failing to adequately check on him and leaving a spit hood on him.”
Fraser and Gardner are awaiting trial.
The reason for the long delay in naming Rogers and then in charging the officers? A jurisdictional battle, as Nova Scotia’s Public Prosecution Service first refused to charge the officers and then declared itself in a conflict of interest. SIRT had to bring in the Manitoba Crown’s office to prosecute Fraser and Gardner. As I wrote at the time:
Every day, in criminal trials in courthouses across Nova Scotia, cops take the stand to testify in cases being prosecuted by the Public Prosecution Service. A degree of cooperation between cops and the crown is necessary to get convictions.
But when the crown admits it is in a position of conflict when potentially prosecuting cops, what is it really saying? Are we to understand that the crown fears cops won’t cooperate in a prosecution if one of their own is being charged criminally in an unrelated matter? If so, how far does this implicit quid pro quo relationship go? Is the crown aware that cops are lying on the stand but turning a blind eye to it?
We are right to distrust the official response to police-involved deaths. The default should be that all information is made public immediately. This includes medical reports, 911 calls, police radio traffic, dispatch logs, police reports, etc.
4. It’s open season on cannabis dispensaries
Court documents obtained by the Halifax Examiner give details of the April 9 robbery at the Scotia Green Dispensary at 5982 Spring Garden Road. I’m using pseudonyms for the customers and employees of the dispensary, as well as for other civilians in this account, as I don’t know if they’ll be testifying in court or if they may face potential danger from those who robbed the store.
Scotia Green is on the third floor of the building, with a Vape shop on the second floor. Mary’s Place Cafe is on the ground floor.
According to a narrative supplied by Kyle Doane, an RCMP officer assigned to Halifax Integrated Investigations Unit, on April 9, a Monday night, there were four people in Scotia Green: Joe and Marianne were employees, and Eddie and Mike were customers.
Sometime after 9pm, “two males burst into the store with one of them holding a shotgun and aiming it at their faces.”
The men ordered the employees and customers to lay face-down on the floor and to hand over their phones.
As the robbery was underway, two more customers, Vince and Susan, entered the dispensary, and they too were ordered to the ground and to hand over their phones. And then yet a fifth customer, Moe, came in, and was ordered to do the same.
The robber carrying the shotgun was six feet tall and about 160 pounds, while the second robber was shorter (the document doesn’t provide an estimated height) and 140 pounds. Both wore bandanas over their faces.
While the tall guy trained the shotgun on the seven people on the ground, the short guy was “raiding the store … taking the more expensive items such as shatter that were stored in display cases that employees needed to unlock.” He also took whatever cash he could find. The stolen goods and the phones were put in a Fit For Less duffel bag the robbers had brought with them.
But this was no Ocean’s Eleven operation. The tall guy “seemed … frightened and that he didn’t seem to know what he was doing.”
At one point, Marianne, one of the employees, even tried to tackle the frightened, shotgun-wielding tall guy. (Note to store employees everywhere: don’t do this.) The tall guy pushed Marianne into a bookcase and said “No one needs to die,” and then weirdly, “You’re all going to get your phones back.”
As I’m reading the narrative, Marianne seems remarkably nonplussed by the situation. Maybe she was stoned, I thought more than once. But for whatever reason, she “asked if she could call her boss to tell him about what was happening.” Even more remarkably, the robbers agreed, gave her her phone, Marianne called the boss to say they were being robbed, and the phone was handed back to the robbers.
Then the robbers left, telling the victims “not to call police otherwise they would find them later,” but that they would leave everyone’s cell phones at the bottom of the stairs.
It gets weirder.
As the robbers were fleeing down from Scotia Green, the customers could “hear what sounded like a struggle in the stairway.”
Up in the dispensary, everyone got up from the floor, and Joe, the other employee of the dispensary, went down the stairs and ran into Harry, the owner of the Vape Shop. Harry went out to the street and found a ripped Fit For Less bag with all the stolen loot in it.
Meanwhile, customers Vince and Susan also went down the stairs, to look for their phones. Out on the sidewalk, they “found a lot of people in front of the store picking up weed and money.”
There was so much money blowing around out on the sidewalk that when police arrived some time later, they started picking up money too.
But before the cops arrived, Vince and Susan found some phones in the alleyway near the store, and they apparently started divvying them up to their rightful owners, except there was one phone they couldn’t match with an owner. They decided they’d hold onto the phone and bring it back to the dispensary the next day. Rather than stick around and wait for the cops, Vince and Susan, who are apparently a couple, went to the IWK to visit Vince’s daughter. The documents don’t say why the daughter was in the hospital.
As it turns out, the phone Vince and Susan kept with them belonged to Eddie, one of the other customers, who had also left the scene. Eddie was the one who called the cops — maybe not because a shotgun-wielding man had held up the dispensary, but rather because someone had made off with his phone.
Eddie used the “find my iPhone” app on his computer to look for the phone and saw that it was in the parking garage at the IWK.
By then it was after 10pm, and Vince and Susan were having a smoke in the parking garage when suddenly a bunch of cops descended on the garage. “Two individuals were observed on the upper floors peeking down at police,” reads the narrative, and at 10:16pm the cops heard a door open and saw Vince and Susan running down the stairs. They were taken into custody.
Vince and Susan were brought to the police station and interviewed, and eventually everything was sorted out. They were released, and Eddie got his phone back.
That still left the issue of the robbery itself. No one connected with the dispensary seems to have cared overly much about it, as they all got their phones back and the stolen weed ended up back in the store, albeit some unknown amount of cash was taken by happy bystanders.
The cops, however, want to catch the frightened lanky dude with the shotgun and his short companion. So they got a search warrant to go back to Scotia Green the next day to “seize offence related items and trace forensic evidence, which may include but not limited to DNA, footwear impressions, as well as hair and fiber samples, video surveillance equipment of the incident… also a black duffel bag containing evidence of the offence.”
Turns out, there were actually two bags: a black bag which the return on the search warrant describes as Fit For Life (not Less) bag and a black and red “FILA gym bag.”
Apparently one of the robbers had also mistakenly left his own iPhone in the store, and so the warrant covered that too. It was seized as well.
Here’s the thing, however. Doane, the investigating officer, wrote:
Police acknowledge that given this is a dispensary, It [sic] is possible there may be illicit drugs when we execute this search warrant if it is granted. However, I am not using their presence to formulate my grounds to obtain a search warrant. If drugs are located inside the said dispensary they will be seized and processed in accordance to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Criminal Code.
And sure enough, subsequent to the search being executed, police arrested a man at the dispensary. According to a police release:
Police have arrested a 33 year-old male, who is an employee of Scotia Green Dispensary, and will be facing charges of Trafficking Controlled Substances.
It’s tempting to just laugh off this Heckle and Jeckle robbery, but a shotgun-wielding robber — especially a frightened shotgun-wielding robber — is no laughing matter.
The “shotgun-wielding” part of this incident is the real crime, the crime that matters. No one cares about a bunch of stoners buying weed, nor should anyone care about them — they aren’t hurting anyone.
But we’ve created this impossible situation for dispensary owners, their employees, and their customers. If they report being robbed, the cops end up busting the dispensaries and their employees. So they don’t report getting robbed.
In effect, by busting the dispensaries, the cops are telling every nervous wannabe robber with access to a shotgun to go rob the local dispensary, because the dispensaries won’t call the cops.
Yes, yes, “don’t open a dispensary and you won’t have this problem” is an argument, but it’s a stupid argument. Whether we like it or not, people are opening dispensaries and selling pot. It shouldn’t be a crime in the first place, but even as a crime its level of seriousness in terms of being a threat to the public is on the level of jaywalking or forgetting to feed the parking meter.
“Protecting the public” doesn’t mean protecting everyone except those selling pot in dispensaries. Those people are worthy of protection, too.
I don’t have time this morning to get into it, but the dispensary situation is similar to the situation faced by sex workers, or, in the U.S, by undocumented immigrants and drug addicts.
Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Advisory Committee for Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — lots of updates.
Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (Monday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — the committee is considering Banc Development’s proposal to tear down six single family homes on Wellington Street and replace them with an eight-storey, 101-unit apartment building. The site is now 1110, 1116, 1120, 1122, 1126, 1130, and 1132 Wellington Street, on the west side of the street between Tower Terrace and Lundy’s Lane. To the west is the school for the blind. The committee has already rejected the proposal, but the full city council sent it back for reconsideration.
Public Information Meeting (Tuesday, 7pm, Gym, Bicentennial School, Dartmouth) — First Baptist Church wants to rezone its property at Lancaster Drive and Woodland Avenue (where Highway 118 enters Dartmouth, the intersection Sam Austin wants to turn into a roundabout) so that it can “make another planning application for consideration of a development agreement for a multi-unit apartment building development with 100-120 units (proposed as two buildings at approximately five to six storeys 5-6 each).” I don’t know why the meeting is being held so far away from the site.
No public meetings.
Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Byron Rafuse, the deputy minister at the Department of Finance, will talk about “Nova Scotia Employment Trends, 2008-2017.”
Spring Convocation, Morning Ceremony (Monday, 9am, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — ceremony for graduates in the Faculties of Medicine and Graduate Studies. Honorary Degree Recipient: Thomas Marrie.
Understanding the Heartbeat at the Nanoscale (Monday, theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — William Louch of the University of Oslo will speak.
Spring Convocation, Early Afternoon Ceremony (Monday, 12:30pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — ceremony for graduates of the Schulich School of Law and Faculty of Graduate Studies. Honorary Degree Recipient: Cindy Blackstock
Spring Convocation, Late Afternoon Ceremony (Monday, 4pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — ceremony for graduates in the Faculties of Dentistry, Health, and Graduate Studies. Honorary Degree Recipient: Jack Gerrow.
Spring Convocation, Morning Ceremony (Tuesday, 9am, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — ceremony for graduates in the Faculties of Management and Graduate Studies. Honorary Degree Recipient: S. I. Rustum Southwell.
Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (Tuesday, 9am, Mona Campbell Building, McCain Building, and LeMarchant Place) — the theme of the conference is The Future of Work and Learning: Opportunities for Continuing Education. Tix here.
Spring Convocation, Early Afternoon Ceremony (Tuesday, 12:30pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — ceremony for graduates in the Faculties of Management and Graduate Studies.
Communities, Conservation, and Livelihoods Conference (Monday, 8:30am, McNally Auditorium) — info here.
Indigenous Voices on the Environment and the Economy (Monday, 7pm, McNally Auditorium) — a panel discussion with Maureen Googoo, publisher and editor of kukukwes.com; Richard Nuna, Innu Nation, Newfoundland and Labrador; Dawn Foxcroft, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, BC; Ken Paul, Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs; Kanyinke Sena, Executive Director, Indigenous Peoples Coordinating Committee of Africa; and Raymond Sewell, Saint Mary’s University.
In the harbour
5:30am: Don Juan, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
8am: Veendam, cruise ship with up to 1,350 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor
10am: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
5:45pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Sydney
6:30pm: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
I didn’t have time to write about it, but read Jacob Boon’s story about the Apple Blossom Festival.