1. Sexual abuse of children at Waterville
I reported yesterday:
A known sexual predator was allowed to prey on boys held at the Youth Training Centre in Waterville. That is the allegation raised by lawyer Mike Dull on behalf on seven men who have filed lawsuits against the province for abuse they say they suffered at Waterville.
The alleged abuse at the hands of a swim instructor employed at the facility spans 21 years, from just after the facility opened in 1988 until 2009.
El Jones tells me that many imprisoned men say they were sexually abused as children at Waterville.
A CBC article from last weeks gets to the cycle of abuse and prison:
About half of Canada’s inmates were abused as children, suggests a new study out of McMaster University.
Medical student Claire Bodkin led a team that studied data from 30 years of research into Canadian inmates. Their work was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH).
The researchers found 65 per cent of female inmates experienced abuse in general, and half of them were sexually abused.
Bodkin said only one study in the data evaluated reported the prevalence of abuse among men. The researchers found abuse rates involving male inmates were at 35.5 per cent, with 21.9 per cent of them having experienced sexual abuse.
We’re making great progress in talking about the sexual abuse and harassment of women and girls, but the sexual abuse of men and boys isn’t getting enough attention. Such abuse can translate into problems for men, whether it’s trauma or difficulty in relationships, and sometimes into criminality.
I suspect, too, that once we truly start understanding the cycle of abuse and bad behaviour, we’ll likely find that that bad behaviour isn’t just the violent crime that lands people in prison but also the shitty actions of business people, politicians, and warmongers. Childhood sexual abuse is at the core of much of our social dysfunction, I think.
2. Justine Colley-Leger
“Justine Colley-Leger’s path seemed to be mapped out for her,” writes El Jones:
She left Saint Mary’s University as the leading points scorer in Canadian university women’s basketball history. She was already an established national team member. Fans imagined her starring at the Olympics, playing for the WNBA or pursuing a career in Europe, years and years of more basketball accolades.
But she had a different plan for herself.
3. Lindell Smith
“What are you most proud of, I asked District 8 Coun. Lindell Smith?” writes Stephen Kimber:
He didn’t answer right away. We are seated at a quiet table in Alteregos, the Gottingen Street café he jokingly refers to as his “satellite office.” In fact, Halifax councilors don’t have offices of their own, so this is as close to a public office space as it gets. When he arrived this morning — dressed in a snappy business suit for a council meeting later today, his trademark braids hidden under a Wu-tang tuque — he did the casual rounds. Staff, customers. A word here, a hug there. He knew everyone, and everyone knew him.
Lindell Smith has plenty to be proud of, beginning with the simple fact he is who he is: the first black person to win a seat on Halifax city council in 20 years, and one of the youngest in memory.
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4. Pedestrian death
Friday morning, I posted a police release about a 57-year-old man who had been killed that morning while walking across Pleasant Street near John’s Lunch. Later in the day, police reported that the driver left the scene. Saturday, police issued another release:
Police have arrested a man in connection with a fatal vehicle/pedestrian collision that occurred this Friday morning in Dartmouth.
On February 22, at approximately 5:50 a.m., police responded to a report of a fatal vehicle/pedestrian collision near 350 Pleasant Street in Dartmouth. The pedestrian, a 57-year-old man, was pronounced deceased at the scene.
At approximately 2:22 p.m., police received a call from a member of the public who observed a parked unattended vehicle they felt might have been involved in the incident. Patrol Members, investigators from the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division, Accident Investigation Section and Forensic Identification Section were able to connect the vehicle to the incident. Matthew Gerald Kennedy, a 24-year-old Bedford man was arrested without incident and will appear in court at a later date to face charges of Criminal Negligence Causing Death and Failing to Stop at Scene of Accident.
“The deaths of seven children in a house fire last week underscore the need for fire sprinklers in all new Canadian homes, according to one fire safety expert,” reports Taryn Grant for StarMetro Halifax:
Automatic, heat-activated wall or ceiling sprinklers are not common in Canadian homes and are not currently mandated under the National Building Code, but with the heightened combustibility of new homes, Duncan Rydall says sprinklers are needed now more than ever.
“It’s like having a firefighter waiting in every single room in your house,” said Rydall, the chief fire prevention officer for the town of The Blue Mountains, Ontario.
When he heard of the deaths of the seven Barho children — Ahmad, 14; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and Abdullah, four months — Rydall said he thought of them as seven undeniable reasons that the National Building Code must change.
Charlie Phillips died over the weekend.
I met Charlie at Bearley’s, where he often sat in with this or that band. People who know a lot more about music than I do say he was an outstanding musician, and he was an inspiration for many younger aspiring musicians.
One of the first things Charlie told me about himself was that he was the first man in Nova Scotia to get child support payments from the province. It was important to him that I knew that about him. Yesterday, I wrote a mangled account of that event, but Parker Donham brings better clarity to it:
In the 1980s, Nova Scotia was one of only three provinces that offered social assistance to eligible single mothers, but not to single fathers. When the Charter of Rights and Freedoms outlawed sexual discrimination, Ontario and Manitoba promptly brought their laws into compliance, but Nova Scotia, guided by Social Services Minister Edmund Morris, refused.
Charlie took the province to court.
Mr. Justice Merlin Nunn found the Family Benefits Act in clear violation of the Charter, but refused to play legislator by “reading up” the word “mother” to mean “parent.” Instead, he declared the Act’s family benefits provision null and void, and urged the legislature to fix the act.
Morris fulminated, denouncing Dal Legal Aid as, “a virtual training ground for the NDP.” He threatened to retaliate against Charlie’s victory by depriving all mothers of social assistance for their children. (Morris was a mean spirit when it came to citizens on social assistance. He once responded to a Coast article criticizing provincial welfare policies by dipping into the author’s social services file and, from the floor of the Legislature, speculating about the paternity of her child.)
The Court of Appeal upheld Nunn’s decision, including his refusal to re-write legislation. Under fierce criticism, the province relented and re-wrote the law.
Charlie had won.
Jeremy Akerman tells another story about Charlie’s political work, one I hadn’t heard before but which illustrates the good humour Charlie always carried with him:
HOW CHARLIE SLAYED THE ESTABLISHMENT GOLIATH
In 1992 Canada held a referendum on a proposed new constitutional arrangement. It was called The Charlottetown Accord.
The details are not relevant now, but, in short, the entire Canadian establishment was solidly ranged on the “Yes” side. Politicians of all shades, media, pundits, clergy, big business, union bosses et al all lectured the people on how sensible folk would vote “yes” if they knew what was good for them. (Years later Brexit reminded me of this event).
In Nova Scotia, the YES side was lead by a committee of the Great and the Good and chaired by business tycoon Robbie Shaw (brother of former NDP Leader Alexa McDonough). The YES machine raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, had a snazzy publicity campaign, had regional and local committees and held rallies around the province.
The opposing side had fewer than a dozen people scattered hither and yon. The NO organization was three people: Dr. Owen Carrigan, Halifax musician Charlie Phillps (who sadly died last night) and myself. Owen and I elected Charlie to be our chairman/leader. We had zero money, so no paid publicity, and no media support.
During the campaign, Robbie Shaw told the media: “I feel sorry for poor Charlie because he has no money. I hope he won’t be too devastated when he loses.”
On election night, we won both in Nova Scotia and in the country as a whole: The Canadian Establishment’s plan was soundly defeated.
Asked to comment by the lone reporter at our “victory rally” (one table at the Granite Brewery), Charlie said:
“I feel sorry for poor Robbie. I think he was weighed down by his money bags”.
RIP, dear old friend.
There was always one song Charlie made a point of covering, the Hayes Carll song “She left me for Jesus.”
I wish I had a video of Charlie playing it with his mischievous voice and smile, but I don’t; so we’ll have to go with Carll:
Transportation Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — remember when city council decided like a decade late to enter into a contract with Bell to provide free wifi on Grand Parade and the waterfront and some libraries? Well, it turns out the libraries wanted nothing to do with it, as they have their own wifi systems that work perfectly well, thank you very much. And so now city staff is suggesting that the contract with Bell be amended so the library wifi part be replaced with a transit terminal wifi part — meaning that wifi will be installed at the Alderney Ferry Terminal, the Halifax Ferry Terminal, the Lacewood Bus Terminal, and the Dartmouth Bridge Bus Terminal.
Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (Monday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — staff is being asked to write a report on allowing the conversion of existing houses into as many as six apartment units, but only in an area bounded by Chebucto Road to the north, MacDonald Street to the east, Flinn Street to the south, and Roosevelt Drive to the west.
Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 11am, City Hall) — Sewage Plant Estates is at the 90 per cent planning stage.
No public meetings.
Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — about recruiting teachers.
Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — governments everywhere have been “reducing red tape” — read: slashing regulations that protect people and the environment — for 35 years, but the committee thinks we should slash still more protections, and so they’re going to talk with Fred Crooks, the Chief Regulatory Officer, about, I dunno, doing away with health and safety standards or some such.
Random Walk Approaches to Identities on Higher-order Bernoulli and Euler Polynomials (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Lin Jiu talk about his work with Christophe Vignat. Their abstract:
We use random walks as an approach to obtain identities for higher-order Bernoulli and Euler polynomials. In particular, we study the cases of a 1-dimensional linear reflected Brownian motion and of a 3-dimensional Bessel process. By decomposing the successive hitting times of two, three, and four fixed levels of these random walks, we obtain non-trivial identi-ties that involve higher-order Bernoulli and Euler polynomials.
Senate (Monday, 3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Building) — the Senate may elect a new chair.
The shape of neural information: representational spaces, transformations, and a conceptual language (Monday, 3:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Reza Farivar from McGill University will speak. His abstract:
This talk will explore three distinct problems in neuroscience that I hope can benefit from an applied mathematical perspective that understands the shape of data.
1) Representational spaces: we fundamentally believe that neurons and neural ensembles represent information and carry out transformations on this information. We are also confident that the kinds of computations neurons do is highly parallel and non-linear, and include features that are likely oscillatory, sometimes including only a few units in a circuit and at other times including entire populations. I will then explore ideas related to Topological Data Analysis, which I hope will provide us with the tools to probe representational spaces and allow us to draw similarities between different spaces and different measurement modalities.
2) Transformation: Neural representations are dynamic and change with experience or task- emands. The kinds of transformations possible is dictated by the nature of representations. Within the ideas of topological data analysis, I discuss what sorts of transformations are meaningful, and explore ideas around how to connect transformations to actual neural processes.
3) Conceptual Language: Topology can give us powerful tools for probing the shape of data, but knowing we have a donut or a sphere somewhere in our data is hardly meaningful to any neuroscientist. I discuss our need to have meaning in topological descriptors, such that we can use them to formulate mechanistic models of brain function.
Gefilte Fish and Roast Duck with Orange Slices: A Treasure for My Daughter and the Creation of a Jewish Cultural Orthodoxy in Postwar Montreal (Tuesday, 1:05pm, 25 Banting Hall, Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, Truro) — the History 3000’s food history seminar turns to Andrea Eidinger’s chapter in Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History. Contact Deborah.Stiles@dal.ca.
Insights on Saudi Arabia and the Middle East (Tuesday, 6pm, Halifax Central Library) — Dennis Horak, former Ambassador of Canada to Saudi Arabia, will speak, with Glenn Davidson, former Ambassador to Syria and Afghanistan, sticking around for the Q&A. Register here.
In the harbour
I was going to write about the Alton Gas lawsuit against protestors, but got pulled away by the Waterville abuse story. There’s never enough time… I’ll try to get to Alton Gas today.
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