1. Cornwallis panelists to be discussed in secret
Halifax council will today appoint the “special advisory committee” to determine what to do with the Cornwallis statue. The panel will comprise:
• Co-chairs from indigenous and non-indigenous community with leadership and chairing experience
• An even number of members with experience and expertise in the following areas:
— History and commemoration
— Military history
— Mi’kmaq history
— Indigenous and non-indigenous community experience
Continues the staff report:
There is a risk that some community members will question the validity of the panel, due to concerns with a selection process that differs from the standard Council public appointment process, or perceptions that panelists are seen not to represent a range of interests, to have too strong a bias or insufficient credibility in their communities.
Staff have attempted to mitigate this risk by talking to a range of individuals and organizations in the development of the terms of reference, by having an appropriate number of experts in relevant areas, setting out criteria for the selection of experts and by looking for characteristics of willingness to engage and community credibility in potential panelists.
Problem is, the “range of individuals” and the “criteria for selection” of the advisory committee members is secret:
The proposed approach with respect to naming panelists is outlined in the accompanying in-camera staff report. Once finalized and confirmed, names of panelists will be released publicly.
Later in the council agenda, under the in camera section, comes this:
That Halifax Regional Council:
1. Approve the recommendations as outlined in the private and confidential staff report dated September 26, 2017; and,
2. It is further recommended that the private and confidential report dated September 26, 2017 not be released to the public.
This is, indeed, the standard Council public appointment process for selecting members of the council advisory committees, and that’s exactly the problem.
I’ve been discussing this issue since 2009, when then-councillor Linda Mosher brought forward a motion to make all committee appointments in public:
Unlike city employees, board and commission members are making policy. In some cases, they are making policies that can potentially cost the public millions, even billions, of dollars. (The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission, for example, is advocating for a third harbour crossing that will cost at least $1.1 billion; the Water Commission is making decisions on assets worth several billion dollars.)
Board and commission members are directing policy, not implementing policy —and these policy decisions are political decisions. And just as other people making political decisions — councillors themselves — are selected in public, with public scrutiny, board and commission members should be subject to public scrutiny.
Halifax council is using bogus “privacy” concerns to take public policy issues — that is, politics, the public’s business — out of the realm of the public and put it behind a wall of secrecy.
Back in 2009, then-councillor Gloria McCluskey pointed out that the old City of Dartmouth made its appointments in public, and the sky didn’t fall. I’ve seen councillors in other cities discuss the relative merits of board applicants in public session, and while councillors often disagreed, the conversations were respectful and the public came away with an understanding of how the collective council made its decision.
As for the advisory committee on the Cornwallis statue, council should not follow its customary process and should instead have the entire debate — from picking the advisory committee members to hashing out the issues to making a recommendation — in public, so every aspect of it can be understood and documented. The very last thing we need here is a suggestion that decisions were made in secret to protect secret agendas.
2. Wrongful Conviction Day
Yesterday, members of the provincial NDP rose at the legislature to commemorate Wrongful Conviction Day. Here are Lenore Zann’s comments:
Mr. Speaker, gender often impacts wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice. As NDP Status of Women spokesperson, I’d like to draw attention to the fact that over 80 per cent of all incarcerated women, and over 90 per cent of Indigenous women, are victims of sexual or physical abuse. Many victims of abusive relationships are coerced into criminal activity.
The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies have helped many battered women imprisoned because they fought back against their abuser or pled guilty to offences that they did not commit in hopes of returning to their children. Sexually-exploited women continue to be victimized through incarceration.
Women who are victims of trauma need healing, not criminalization. Prison is not a shelter for battered women, a sexual-assault counselling session, or an appropriate place for women suffering from mental illnesses or addiction. As Poet Laureate and activist El Jones writes: On Wrongful Conviction Day, we call for justice and alternatives to incarceration for abused, exploited, and victimized women.
Susan Leblanc spoke about the Glen Assoun case:
In 2014, Glen Assoun was released from prison pending federal review of his 1999 murder conviction. He had spent 16 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, Brenda Way. The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, now known as Innocence Canada, believes a terrible miscarriage of justice occurred in this case.
A national non-profit organization that has helped exonerate 21 Canadians does not move forward on a case unless it is convinced that a defendant is truly innocent. His release on bail holds great symbolic and practical significance in the battle to restore his innocence, because it means that sufficient doubt has been raised about his conviction. The new evidence shows that the prosecution’s case had no credibility, and it also raises serious, disturbing questions about how such a serious failure of justice came to occur.
Today, on Wrongful Conviction Day, we are urged to think about those still facing a difficult uphill battle to correct a wrongful conviction.
The wrongful conviction of Glen Assoun was the subject of the first three parts of my Dead Wrong series.
Other MLAs commemorated Donald Marshall, Jr. and Viola Desmond.
Next Tuesday, I’ll be part of a panel discussion on Wrongful Convictions at the School of Law at Dalhousie. More details on that soon. Also, if all goes according to plan, for this week’s Examineradio podcast I’ll be interviewing Ron Dalton. Dalton was wrongfully convicted and spent 10 years in prison for the death of his wife; he is now the co-Chair of Innocence Canada.
“The IWK Health Centre says it will pursue a legal claim against former CEO Tracy Kitch in a bid to recover approximately $10,000 in outstanding personal expenses charged to the Halifax children’s hospital,” reports the CBC:
Nick Cox, a spokesperson for the hospital, said in an email that as of 3:45 p.m. Monday it had not received the money it says Kitch still owes.
I have no evidence, but I still think this goes far beyond Kitch.
4. Sydney Waterfront
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality issued an Expression of Interest this morning for the “Redevelopment of the Sydney Waterfront“:
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is the owner of approximately 4 acres of vacant land strategically located on the waterfront in Sydney, the largest urban area in the Municipality. The area is located immediately adjacent to the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion, the arrival point for the more than 100,000 cruise ship visitors that the Port of Sydney welcomed in 2013. The site is also bordered by the Sydney boardwalk, a focal point for summer activities, and a small marina and breakwater which are owned by the Municipality. Two of Sydney’s largest hotels, the downtown Sydney shopping district, the North End Sydney Heritage Conservation District, and the region’s largest sports and entertainment complex (Centre 200) are all located within walking distance of the site.
The Municipality recently partnered with Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation to prepare a concept plan to guide development of the Sydney waterfront in the coming decades. The plan, which was presented to Council in July of 2014, is an ambitious and visionary document and all future development on the waterfront will be evaluated in the context of this plan.
The Municipality is now seeking for expressions of interest from developers interested in municipally owned parcels of land on the waterfront.
I can’t wait to hear what Mary Campbell has to say about this.
5. Treaty rights and climate change
“A Mi’kmaq woman from the Pictou Landing First Nation says indigenous treaties can be a key tool in the fight against climate change,” reports Bruce Wark:
[Rebecca] Moore, who is a community energy campaigner with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, said the treaty can form the basis for an environmental alliance between indigenous and settler communities.
“We can use the position that indigenous people have, the inherent rights to the land and to protecting the land,” Moore said, “to keep it safe and to protect it.”
She added, for example, that treaty rights can be used to challenge companies that damage the environment when they extract resources from Crown lands. Treaty rights can also be used, she said, to reclaim Crown lands for better uses, but the key is to use these rights as part of a broader alliance.
I’m told a sale of Tom’s Little Havana and the Fireside restaurant fell through last week. Owner Tom Wile has committed to running the operations through the winter, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess.
My sense of it is that the move to City Centre Atlantic from the Doyle Block didn’t really affect Tom’s dedicated clientele, but it’s a few steps too far for occasional drinkers. Plus, the smell of stale garbage from Pete’s loading dock next door killed any hope for the sidewalk patio. And the old Fireside was date night central, but for whatever reason, that hasn’t carried over to the new location.
I hope this all works out. The employees are fine people.
7. “Get a life”
Yesterday morning, I linked to a promotional video for the Spring Garden and Area shopping district, noting that “the ad is horribly stereotyping and insulting.”
Later in the day, CBC reporter Kayla Hounsell noted that “Two Spring Garden-area business owners are criticizing a commercial meant to draw people to the Halifax retail district in a fun, lighthearted way and are calling for it to be removed from the internet.”
Hounsell went on to interview Johanna Galipeau, the owner of Sweet Pea Boutique, and Courtney Jones, owner of Better Than Her Boutique, both of whom objected to the video and said sensible things about how insulting it was.
Then, Hounsell interviewed John Young, who is on the board of directors of the Spring Garden Road Business Association, and who said:
It’s not intended to be a morality play, it’s not intended to preach, it’s not intended to be a documentary, it’s just a little bit of whimsy and fun. Relax and enjoy it. Get a life.
Well, I guess it’s heartening to see business people who don’t give a crap about what their potential customers think. But I wish the not-giving-a-crap was in defence of some important social value and not in defence of demeaning women with horrible stereotypes.
There are hundreds of ways to be whimsical and fun without representing women as vapid.
7. Reclaiming My Time Stout
Halifax Examiner contributor Evelyn White has brewed a beer!
Working with Kelly Costello, the brewer at Good Robot, White created a small-batch beer that will be tapped this afternoon, around 4pm or so. In White’s words: “Resplendent with caramel, honey and chocolate notes (beer marketing lingo), the beer I’ve christened ‘Reclaiming My Time’ stout has been inspired by U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (an unrelenting opponent of the Trump administration) and Federal Liberal MPs Catherine McKenna and Celina Caesar-Chavannes.”
White worked with Costello through the brewery’s “Communibrew” program, which matches up amateur brewers with the professional staff and equipment at the brewery. White tells me that people of colour (“including some with name brand African Nova Scotian roots”) who otherwise might not have felt at home in the typical “white hipster vibe” at most craft breweries have been welcomed at Good Robot.
I’ll swing by after the council meeting, probably around around 5pm or so. All are welcome to join.
City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Federation of Canadian Municipalities 2018 Conference Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s everything you have to know about the FCM meeting:
9.1.1 Sponsorship Opportunity for Mayor’s Welcome Reception
That the FCM 2018 Conference Advisory Committee approve Shaw Communications as the sponsor of the Mayor’s Welcome Reception.
Maybe the mayor will wear a suit like NASCAR drivers do, emblazoned by the logos of the companies he shills for.
There goes the Lion’s Head (Wednesday, 7pm, Maritime Hall, Halifax Forum) — this is a public information meeting unveiling W.M. Fares Group’s proposal to build a 10-storey, 114-unit apartment building on the parcel now occupied by the Lion’s Head Tavern.
The Lion’s Head will survive — I think it’s moving up the street to the new high rise where Michael’s used to be, but I might have that detail wrong.
Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 10am, Province House) — Auditor General Michael Pickup will release his report of provincial finances.
Legislature sits (Wednesday, 1pm, Province House)
Food Production (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1009, Kenneth C. Rowe Building) — a panel discusses “Farms, Fisheries and Food: Canada’s Next Generation of Food Production.”
Geometric Spaces in a Tangent Category (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Geoff Crutwell from Mount Allison University will talk about his work with Rick Blute and Rory Lucyshyn-Wright. The abstract:
A connection on the tangent bundle of a smooth manifold arises frequently in differential geometry, and gives as a consequence associated notions of curvature, parallel transport, and geodesics. In this talk, we look at how to define such connections in the abstract setting of a tangent category, calling an object equipped with such a connection a “geometric object”. We look at three different aspects of this theory of such objects: (1) how one can define maps between such geometric objects, giving a new tangent category, (2) what it means for such connections to be “flat” and “torsion-free”, (3) how to characterize flat torsion-free connections as “connection-preserving connections”. The last result appears to be new in differential geometry.
Marijuana — Is Canada Ready? (Tuesday, 5pm, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — a panel discussion with Anne McLellan, Dalhousie University Chancellor and former deputy prime minister of Canada; Darrell Dexter, former Nova Scotia premier; and Archie Kaiser, Sylvain Charlebois and Eileen Donovan-Wright from Dalhousie.
Community-based Rehabilitation (Tuesday, 5pm, Theatre A, Tupper Building) — Rachel Thibeault from the University of Ottawa will speak on “Could Community-based Rehabilitation Provide Tools for Connecting University Students to Communities?”
Molecular and Physiological Functions of circRNAs (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Sebastian Kadener from Brandeis University will speak.
In the harbour
5am: Atlantic Sun, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
6am: Spica, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Nassau
6:15am: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship with up to 2,808 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney
6:30am: Lake Superior, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
7am: Mein Schiff 6, cruise ship with up to 2,700 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint John
7:30am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 34 from Boston
8:45am: Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,180 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor
10am: Damia Desgagnes, asphalt tanker, arrives at McAsphalt from Sainte Victoire, Quebec
4pm: Atlantic Sun, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4:30pm: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Saint John
5:45pm: Lake Superior, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
6:30pm: Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
6:30pm: Mein Schiff 6, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for New York
9:30pm: Lake Superior, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for sea