1. Dead Wrong
I’m excited to announce that the Dead Wrong podcast is imminent — yesterday, we released the trailer for the series. The first two (of eight) episodes will go live next Wednesday, June 17, with the next six released once a week after.
I started the Examiner in 2014, with the aim of focusing more on investigative reporting. So I was hunting around for a deep dive into something, when in November of that year, I discovered the story of Glen Assoun’s wrongful conviction. I thought I could probably pull the court records and get the story out in a couple of weeks; it’s been five and a half years and I’m still reporting on it. And there’s no end in sight.
Along the way, I’ve had help from too many people to mention by name.
The podcast series is the work of producers and co-writers Janice Evans, Nancy Hunter, and myself. They’ve taught me so much. And Nancy also took that cool photo of the Macdonald Bridge.
Lots of other people helped with the podcast, and we’ll thank them properly in the episodes.
But of course none of this would have been possible without the people who have subscribed to the Halifax Examiner. And for you, I’m immensely grateful. Thank you.
2. Portapique Cemetery
“The Portapique Cemetery has been the final resting place for family members of the Davison, Knight, Fletcher, and Fulton clans and other Colchester County families for nearly 250 years,” reports Jennifer Henderson:
Mature trees surround the three-acre graveyard, which is a mix of modern markers and scarred, weathered stones dating back as far as the 1770s.
The historic cemetery was also the ideal next-door neighbour for a denturist from Dartmouth who had previously been involved in boundary disputes with his neighbours, was abusive to his common-law spouse, and stored illegal guns in his Portapique mansion.
On the night of April 18, the denturist whom The Examiner is referring to as GW, began a nearly 13-hour rampage that left 22 victims shot or burned to death. As he fled towards Halifax, GW was eventually shot and killed by police while he was gassing up in Enfield.
According to at least two acquaintances, GW intended to be buried in the Portapique Cemetery. But the locals who maintain it insist there is no room for a mass murderer who has brought shame and outrage to their area.
Relatedly, today, I’m attending (virtually) court for the next in a series of hearings about the unsealing of court records in the mass murder investigation.
You’ll recall that about 20 search warrants were executed as part of the investigation, and those warrants were sealed — that is, not made publicly available. The Halifax Examiner joined up with other media organizations to petition the court to unseal the warrant documents. On May 25, we received copies of seven redacted warrants.
This is a long slog. Today, we expect to get six more redacted warrants, and a table explaining the redactions in the first batch of warrants.
Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours going through the redacted warrants, making my own table about what the redactions are probably about. Some of the redacted info I already have — names and addresses of victims, and other particulars. But other redactions are of much higher interest, including what appear to be details about weaponry, and about the police response to the unfolding murder spree. That information should rightly be public.
So we’ll likely contest many if not all of the redactions, and that will entail another hearing before Judge Laurie Halfpenny-MacQuarrie, I think sometime later this month, in a courtroom in
Guysborough Port Hawkesbury. I might even go in person, if that’s allowed.
In any event, our hearing today is at 11am, and it probably won’t last long. After I receive the next batch of redacted warrants, I’ll write up a report about them, and that will be out this afternoon.
“The former Bloomfield Centre site in North End Halifax is up for sale, but the real estate firm tasked with marketing the property is billing it as something else entirely: the ‘streetcar district,'” reports Zane Woodford.
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“Despite the pandemic, provincial sexual health centres are dealing with increased demands for information and a steady stream of requests for STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:
“I know through friends and clients that there are a lot of people who aren’t necessarily respecting all of the social distancing policies and there’s probably still a substantial amount of risky or moderately risky sexual behavior taking place,” Kate Calnan, executive director of the Halifax Sexual Health Centre (HSHC), said in an interview.
Calnan said despite public health restrictions instructing people to avoid being within six feet of anyone who isn’t in their immediate household “bubble,” people are still using various apps and meeting up for sexual encounters.
“I would completely disagree that people aren’t hooking up. Maybe for the first couple of weeks (of the pandemic), sure, but that wears off pretty quickly and we’re several months in and that’s just not the case,” she said.
5. Day camps
“Halifax has announced its modified summer camps will start on July 13 and run until August 28, but will only be offered for kids between the ages of six and 12 on a half-day basis,” reports Zane Woodford:
The city originally cancelled all summer camps in mid-April, and argued in mid-May that it was too late to reverse the decision. At the end of May — after Nova Scotia chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said there was no reason to cancel them — city staff told council they could in fact offer some modified programs. Councillors set aside $500,000 originally cut from the budget to make it happen.
In a news release on Thursday, the city said it will offer two options for week-long camps at “select facilities”: weekday mornings from 9am to noon or weekday afternoons from 1:30pm to 4:30pm.
“The half-day camp option allows the municipality to maximize the number of participants while following public health protocol and ensuring safe physical distancing,” the release said.
“Most camp activities will be provided in an outdoor setting to help maintain provincial physical distancing protocol. If the weather does not permit outdoor activities, then camps will be moved indoors, unless it has been designated as an exclusively outdoor camp.”
No public meetings.
In the harbour
02:30: Taipei Trader, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
05:00: Dalian Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
05:30: Atlantic Kestrel, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from the Sable Island field
06:15: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 36 to Pier 41
12:00: Algoma Mariner, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
13:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
15:30: ZIM Monaco sails for New York
16:00: X-Press Makalu, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
21:00: Dalian Express sails for Dubai
22:30: X-Press Makalu sails for New York
There’s still work to be done on the podcast. I expect I won’t be finished until mid-July. Then, I’m going to take a few days and do nothing at all.