1. Susie Butlin
Jennifer Henderson reports:
Judge Al Bégin signed a no-contact order to keep Junior Duggan away from Susie Butlin. Duggan is now charged with murdering Butlin. Should Judge Bégin recuse himself from hearing the murder case?
This article is for subscribers only. Click here to subscribe.
2. King’s College to look at connections to slavery
A press release from King’s College:
Professor William Lahey, President of the University of King’s College, today announced the establishment of a scholarly inquiry to examine the possible connections, direct and indirect, of the university with slavery in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The comprehensive project will comprise original, independent research by leading Canadian and U.S. scholars and is expected to be completed in early 2019.
“Here at King’s we care deeply and seriously about our history,” says Lahey. “Given that our university was established in 1789 and slavery existed in Nova Scotia until 1834, we want to understand our early story fully and in all its complexity.”
“King’s cannot hope to be viewed as a welcoming community to people of African descent unless it openly and forthrightly addresses the questions that can legitimately be asked about its history on race, including its history relative to slavery in Nova Scotia,” says Mr. Douglas Ruck, QC, King’s alumnus and member of the panel that will review the independent research.
“By looking at this difficult issue through a scholarly lens, we hope our research will not only contribute to a growing body of knowledge but also help foster stronger links between our King’s and African Nova Scotian communities,” says President Lahey.
In an attached backgrounder, the university explains:
The original King’s College was founded by Loyalists, many from New York, fleeing the United States during the American Revolution. For the past several decades, King’s has identified itself to be the successor of King’s College in New York City, itself re-established after the war as Columbia University.
Columbia recently published research showing how its predecessor institution — King’s in NYC — was implicated with slavery. Columbia is one of a number of American universities — including Brown, Georgetown, Harvard, Rutgers, and the University of Virginia — along with the University of Glasgow, the University of Bristol, and Dalhousie University, examining the legacy of their connection to slavery.
Part of the work now being commissioned by the University of King’s College in Halifax will look at the nature and extent of connections between itself and the original King’s College in NYC and, by extension, to the latter institution’s connections with slavery.
Columbia University has collected all its findings on this website.
3. Pedestrian struck
A police release from yesterday:
At approximately 7:10 p.m. on February 11, Halifax Regional Police responded to a motor vehicle collision involving a pedestrian at the intersection of Gottingen Street and North Street in Halifax. An 18-year-old man was struck in a crosswalk and was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the vehicle was issued a ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
I don’t know, but I would bet money that the driver was coming off the Macdonald Bridge and turning south onto Gottingen Street, and the pedestrian was crossing from west to east across Gottingen. I see this time and again, as both a pedestrian and a driver: the approaching driver has the advanced green, the pedestrian has the “don’t walk” sign. Then the lights turn — the advanced green for the driver becomes a solid green, with eastbound North Street traffic (towards the bridge) also having a solid green, and the pedestrian light turns from “don’t walk” to “walk.” In that instant, the half-second after the advanced green turns to the solid green, the driver punches the gas to beat the oncoming traffic, but by that time the pedestrian is already out into the intersection, having correctly followed the “walk” instructions. I’ve nearly been hit there myself. I’ve seen other pedestrians have to jump for their lives.
4. Lincolnville and reparations
“A group representing black residents in the rural Nova Scotia community of Lincolnville wants the provincial government to compensate them for land that was granted to Black Loyalists in the late-1700s but was later handed over to Acadians,” reports Sherri Borden Colley for the CBC:
James Desmond chairs the Lincolnville Reserve Land Voice Council. In the 1990s, when Desmond worked as a development officer, he did some research with the Nova Scotia Museum about the arrival and settlement of Black Loyalists in Guysborough County following the American Revolution.
Documents showed that in 1787, 1,200 hectares of land was granted to Thomas Brownspriggs, a teacher and lay preacher, and 73 other black men who arrived in the area with 50 women and 51 children.
Twelve years later, Desmond said, more than 1,100 hectares of the land was “regranted” to Acadians.
“The excuse by the government was that, at the time, was that they didn’t know that the land had already been granted to the Black Loyalists,” Desmond said.
Desmond said the economic impact of losing the property was great for residents of the small rural community because fertile land was taken away and they lost access to the fishery.
Borden Colley goes on to explore the larger issue of lost or incomplete land titles in five historically black communities.
The potential for reparations — correcting a historic wrong — is often discounted as an excess or a money grab by people generations removed from the wrong. But we don’t consider it the other way around — recently, there was a big political to-do over the Liberals’ move to increase inheritance taxes; but why are cross-generational transfers of wealth acceptable but not cross-generational transfers of lost or stolen wealth?
This gets to the heart of the issue. Some people benefit hugely by no action they’ve taken personally, but rather through the actions of their ancestors. Others have been able to build on the wealth and social status of their forebears to become even wealthier. Where would Fred Fountain be without Fred Manning? Donald Trump without Fred Trump? The current crop of Irvings without K.C.? Does anyone seriously believe that, say, if an infant Donald Sobey had been plucked from the family’s Abercrombie manse and instead raised by a loving family in Linconville, he’d grow to lead a multi-billion dollar corporation?
Similarly, poverty and lack of social standing are transferred across generations, and translate into lost opportunity.
To give just one example of how cross-generational transfers of wealth (or poverty) benefit (or don’t) people today, consider that about half of young people who buy homes do so with the help of their parents. That home then becomes a major, if not the major, source of wealth for the next generation; it can be leveraged to put a child through school, to open a business, and then to retire on. Of course if the parents don’t have the money…
And so we get to reparations. If the parents’ wealth was flat-out stolen from them, doesn’t the next generation have recourse to get it back? We certainly seem to think so in the case of the Jewish-owned art stolen by the Nazis. Just yesterday, the Louvre agreed to return a painting to the descendants of a German Jewish painter who was forced to sell his work in order to flee the Nazis, who otherwise would have certainly murdered him.
Moving out a few generations, in 2004 descendants of slaves filed suit against financial, railroad, tobacco, insurance, and textile companies that profited from the slave trade. Those companies existed in the early 19th century, and they exist now. There’s a direct connection between the companies’ involvement in the slave trade and their continued profitability, and there’s a direct connection between the ancestors’ enslavement and the continued loss of opportunity for their descendants. I can’t see a material difference between this situation and the looted Nazi art, but a U.S. court has said the suit is a “political” issue and so dismissed it.
These cases look at the direct issue of monetary wealth (in the Lincolnville case, as expressed in land). There’s another whole set of issues involving psychological harm and the social aspects of continued discriminatory action of the broader community, which are at least worth talking about.
I don’t know how to resolve these issues. Determining who has standing in such cases is its own can of worms, but we seem to be able to work that out when the issue is transfer of wealth, through probate courts and such. I don’t think it’s crazy to say they can be worked out for reparations too.
What form reparations should take is another aspect of the discussion that is fraught with difficulty. How to determine damages in the first place? Sometimes it will be relatively easy — return the stolen art, restore property rights. But most of the damages are less tangible. How do we put a monetary value on lost opportunity? Still, that’s why we have courts, legal precedents, continued legal scholarship… it all seems to work out for rich people seeking redress.
Beyond that, maybe stop doing harm in the first place?
5. Andrea Pottyondy Stoffer
Andrea Pottyondy Stoffer, an artist and spouse to former MP Peter Stoffer, is speaking out in defence of Peter Stoffer, reports Andrew Rankin for the Chronicle Herald:
“I have no concern about these allegations, many of which have been coming from unnamed people,” said Andrea Pottyondy Stoffer. “They are probably not true. (Peter) would never ever proposition women, or anything like that. I have no doubt he’s a good man.”
She suggested many of the allegations are coming from a group of people in Ottawa who never liked her husband or his style of work. She did not speculate on the identity of those people.
“They didn’t like him because he was so different, but those people don’t matter to me.
“I know he liked to hug and kiss women on the cheeks and I have no problem with that because he did it when I was there. All of his friends and the people that know him, know what his intentions were/are.”
1. Calling cards
“These days many of us are obsessed with our lives on social media and forget about strange communication channels from the past,” writes Stephen Archibald:
For example, a craze for decorative calling cards, or visiting cards, popular in the 1880s and 90s.
A few decades ago I collected a handful of these cards because I liked their colourful lithographed illustrations and ornamented typography. At the time there was a revival of interest in Victorian design that we have generally gotten over.
There was an elaborate etiquette for using calling cards that included simply dropping off a card at a friend’s home, sort of a poke. And if you were making a visit (irl as the young people say) a card would be left as a record of who had called. A cache of beautiful cards might be saved in an album.
City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. I’ll be heading to City Hall just as soon as I can, and will live-blog the meeting at @hfxExaminer.
Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Wednesday, 5pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — no action items on the agenda.
No meetings today.
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Frances Martin, the Deputy Minister of the Department of the Environment, will be asked about the Northern Pulp Environmental Assessment. Later today, the Examiner will publish a piece by Linda Pannozzo that looks at exactly that. Stay tuned!
Information in Mass Media (Tuesday, 8am, MacInnes Room, Student Union Building) — from the event listing:
The 12th annual student-run Information Without Borders Conference (IWB) will explore the changing place of information in mass media across multiple disciplines, including libraries, journalism, social media, and entertainment. It will also provide an opportunity for interdisciplinary and inter-organizational discussion on this topic for a variety of professional and student attendees.
$25 for students, $105 for professionals and community members.
Introduction to Environmental Law Lecture (Tuesday, 10am, Room 238, Life Sciences Centre) — Joan Baxter, author of The Mill, will speak.
Type Inference for Quantum Lambda Calculus (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Marzieh Bayeh will speak.
Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — agenda.
Simon and Laura (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — a screening of Muriel Box’s 1955 film.
Tax and Public Opinion: Can We Do Better Tax Talk? (Wednesday, 10am, Room 1014, Rowe Management Building) — Graham Steele, Shirley Tillotson, and Kim Brooks will talk about Canada’s tax policy.
Guitar Recital (Wednesday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Scott Macmillan, Doug Reach, and Jeff Torbert will perform.
Big Data (Wednesday, 12pm, Research Services Conference Room, Goldbloom Pavilion, IWK Health Centre) — Stan Matwin will speak on “Big Data is the Big Deal: The What, Why, How, and How Not of Big Data.”
Thesis Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Wednesday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Meghan Schinkel will defend her thesis, “The Role of Siblings in Pediatric Pain.”
Hydrophobic Hydration (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Gilbert Walker from the University of Toronto will speak.
Improving Campus Equity and Inclusion (Wednesday, 6pm, Room 303, Student Union Building) — the group discussion is for Self-Identified Racialized Students. RSVP here.
The Lynn Jones African-Canadian and Diaspora Heritage Collection (Tuesday, 5:15pm, Room LI135, SMU Library) — Lynn Jones will talk about her collection.
Science in Exile (Tuesday, 6:30pm, in the theatre named for a bank, in the building named for a grocery store) — a screening of Nicole Leghissa’s 2017 film.
Steven Heighton (Tuesday, 7pm, room 170, Loyola Academic Building) — the Governor General’s Literary Award winner will read.
Artificial Intelligence: Successes and Challenges (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall, University of King’s College) — Stan Matwin, Canada Research Chair in Computer Science, Dalhousie University, will talk about the future of artificial intelligence, its hopes, and fears.
In the harbour
7am: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 27 from Liverpool, England
1pm: Catharina Schulte, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
2:30pm: CSL Spirit, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Sydney
3:30pm: Goodwood, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
11pm: BBC Challenger, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from New Orleans
Today, in return for writing about reparations, I will be subjected to much abuse on the internet. So it goes.