1. Crowns strike
The province’s crown attorneys have gone on strike. The government says the action is illegal and is seeking an injunction to get them back to work.
About 80 per cent of members of the Nova Scotia Crown Attorneys’ Association (NSCAA) voted in favour of a strike Monday night and announced their plans Tuesday — all less than a week after saying they’d been “blindsided” by a Liberal government bill that takes away their right to arbitration.
Bill 203 also proffers the right to strike but makes Crown prosecutors’ work an essential service, which legal experts have said would make the right to strike “meaningless.”
What do you call a person or organization that makes a deal, signs on the dotted line, then reneges?
A lot of words come to mind, many of which cannot be repeated here. Maybe “cheat?” “Double-dealer?” Perhaps “fraud artist?”
In this case, the one word we know applies is “government,” as in Nova Scotia’s Liberal government.
Premier Stephen McNeil has refused to say whether or not his government asked for a legal opinion on the constitutionality of the legislation.
2. Assaults in school
CBC has released the results of a national survey it commissioned of 4,000 young people, asking about their experiences of violence, including sexual assault.
More than one-third, or 34 per cent, of Atlantic respondents in the survey also said they were physically assaulted (slapped, kicked or beaten) in elementary or middle school.
For students in high school, the number creeps up to 38 per cent, slightly higher than the national average.
More than one-quarter of young people surveyed said they faced being called hateful names or comments that are racist (29 per cent) or homophobic or transphobic (26 per cent) at least once while attending high school.
Honestly, I’m surprised these numbers — appalling as they are — are so low.
More than one-quarter of young people surveyed in Atlantic Canada say others had shared sexual rumours or messages about them while they were in school.
Reflecting on their years in school, one in 10 of those surveyed also said a sexual act had been forced upon them.
Meanwhile, a judge in Bridgewater will deliver his verdict today in the case of former Bridgewater police chief John Collyer, who was on trial for sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a 17-year-old girl.
We are failing our kids.
3. Shelter needs new home
The Out of the Cold emergency shelter needs a new space. The shelter is, as its name notes, an emergency service for people with no other place to go.
Jeff Karabanow, a founding member of the shelter, said the space [at St. Matthew’s United Church] “just wasn’t working” anymore.
“We decided to go public and see if anybody has any ideas that we could pursue around a kind of healthy space sanctuary for those living on the street.” Karabanow said.
The ideal location would be accessible by bus, could hold 15 beds, have a minimum of two bathrooms, a kitchen and a hangout space separate from the sleeping area, he said.
Karabanow is also a professor of social work at Dalhousie, where, according to his faculty profile, “his research focuses primarily upon housing stability, service delivery systems, street health, and homeless youth culture.”
4. Nova Scotia sets 10-year emissions targets
The same day that New Brunswick announced it was adopting a carbon-pricing scheme, Nova Scotia made public its 10-year greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Legislation introduced Wednesday aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Nova Scotia by 53 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and pledges to move the province to a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050.
Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said the bill, which updates the 12-year-old Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, lays out ambitious new goals to fight climate change and grow the green economy.
The Ecology Action Centre’s Stephen Thomas agrees that these are tough targets, but says the province needs to do more to reduce our reliance on coal to generate power.
I was interested in this from the story:
The legislation also calls for a government fund to support community projects aimed at climate change mitigation.
The minister couldn’t say how much money the province would invest in the fund or exactly when it would be launched.
So much climate change action can take place at the local level. Where I live, the Transition St. Margarets Bay group has all kinds of interesting projects on the go, including community gardens, a neighbourhood co-operative greenhouse model, and workshops on topics ranging from coastal protection to solar power. I see putting money into community climate change projects as a good thing. Let’s hope the government follows through.
5. Woman hit in crosswalk
A pedestrian in a marked crosswalk was hit by a car at the corner of Robie and Coburg last night. She has “non-life-threatening injuries” — a category so broad it is almost meaningless.
As of October 17, there had been 105 driver/pedestrian collisions in Halifax this year — 3 fatalities, 5 people with major injuries, and 24 people with moderate injuries. [editor’s note: On Oct. 18, police announced a fourth pedestrian fatality that involved an October 11 incident.]
Shared responsibility, eye contact, etc etc.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been treated to lots of stories outlining the hardships endured (yes, one of the stories used that word) by landlords when faced with tenants who have not paid their rent.
The stories were driven by the saga of one tenant, Nadav Even-Har, who eight different landlords say has stiffed them for thousands of dollars in rent.
Evan-Har, who has been convicted of theft and fraud several times, is not a particularly sympathetic character. When the CBC’s Jack Julian asks him how often he has been evicted, he replies, “I don’t know the exact number, but I know I’ve been evicted a lot… You know it’s, it’s, it’s definitely a trend with me.”
Julian also describes a video posted to Facebook, showing people protesting outside Evan-Har’s home:
A video posted on Facebook showed people shouting at Even-Har as he walked to his car with a suitcase and his dog.
“You’re a horrible human being,” someone shouted.
Let’s pause for a moment to consider the mindset of people who would go picket a private residence and yell at someone behind in their rent.
I imagine large property management companies can absorb the temporary loss of dealing with tenants who don’t pay rent. That’s got to be a lot harder for the small-time landlord who, say, owns an income property. And I have no doubt that dealing with tenants who don’t pay the rent or damage the place can be frustrating or infuriating.
The stories about Evan-Har and his landlord, Cole Harbour coffee shop owner Jason Selby, have led the province to consider changing the rules to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants. Patricia Arab, the minister responsible for the Residential Tenancies Act, tells Julian she wants more protection for landlords.
“The purpose of the Residential Tenancies Act is to find a balance that is fair to both renters and landlords,” she said. “So we never want to be in a position where the act is favouring one over the other.”
(This would be the same Patricia Arab who oversaw the disastrous failure of the province’s online FOIPOP portal and who once lied to Muslim constituents that the hot dogs being served at a community barbecue were halal.)
In Nova Scotia, landlords can file for eviction 15 days after non-payment of rent. If the tenant contests the notice, there is a hearing, and tenants have the right to appeal. Earlier this week, Investment Property Owners Association executive director Kevin Russell told the CBC’s Jack Julian, “Their premise is everyone has a right to due process… Again, we can’t see why this is on non-payment of rent.”
Making policy based on one sensational case is almost always a bad idea. As Halifax Magazine editor Trevor Adams points out, the city is full of bad landlords, and they rarely get any attention. Sure, once in a while there is an awful slumlord story, but those stories rarely lead to calls for regulatory changes, and they are seen as outliers. (Adams’ Halifax Magazine blog ran a story by Katie Ingram in September, offering tips for tenants to understand their rights before signing a lease.)
The landlord can increase the rent by any amount… [and] tenants cannot withhold rent to encourage the landlord to make repairs or to take other action.
If you know anyone who rents, you likely have heard stories of countless indignities, large and small. These are not the kinds of stories that generally make it into the news, but they have a real impact on people’s lives: landlords who are happy to accept rent payments by e-transfer, but require self-addressed stamped envelopes for the return of damage deposits; damage deposits that aren’t returned at all based on bogus reasons; criminal record checks of prospective tenants and landlords asking for social insurance numbers; washing machines that stay broken for months, and repairs that are perpetually put off. I know someone who lived in an apartment with an unsafe heating system. When the tenants moved out, the landlord failed to disclose the dangers of the system to the next crop of renters.
In many cases, these aren’t big, dramatic, life-changing hassles. But they are part of the constant drip-drip-drip of misery and BS that people have to put up with.
After the election, Chris Parsons noted in a thread on Twitter, that he worked to get out the vote for NDP candidate Emma Norton in Dartmouth. In one building the elevator had been out of order for days. Parsons describes the building as “full of seniors, people on fixed incomes and working people on low wage jobs.”
On The Big Bang Theory, an elevator that stays broken for years is a joke. In real life, an elevator broken for days can prevent people from getting groceries and exercising their democratic rights. Parsons says,
This is how power works. The landlord delayed needed maintenance until the elevator broke. The poor, disabled residents don’t get to vote (or live their lives!) but the owners do. In fact, they get to collect rent. This is how class and disability work.
Halifax has a very low vacancy rate. Rents are up and places are hard to find. Tenants all over the city face “renoviction” — being effectively kicked out of their places as communities gentrify, and rents increase to the point where they can’t pay them.
One of those tenants is Aron Spidle. He’s an anti-poverty advocate who appears in the documentary My Week on Welfare, and who regularly speaks at screenings of the film. (He was at one last night.) Spidle went on social assistance almost a decade ago, after suffering an injury that left him unable to work. He has lived in the same apartment on Dutch Village road for 12 years.
Spidle told me that his previous landlord “was absolutely awesome. He’d be right here to fix something if it needed fixing. When I had my concussion he was here to make sure I was all right for the first 24 hours. I mean he just was amazing. I can’t say enough good about him.”
Then the building was sold to an investment firm, something Spidle wrote about for The Coast. Now, he faces homelessness, because utilities will no longer be included in his rent come spring, and he is likely to face a rent increase as well. Most of his neighbours have moved, and he won’t be able to afford to pay utilities on the “$950 and change” he gets per month on social assistance.
When I talked to Spidle yesterday, he went out of his way to point out that the new landlords were not doing anything illegal, and that the rep they’ve sent around to the apartment was always polite. But the point is not the people, it’s the system.
Asked about what he thought of the government’s considering making evictions easier, he said:
It scares me. There is seemingly little enough protection [for tenants] as it is. And it annoys me too. Really? That’s where we’re going now? I’ve seen and read a few stories over the last few years where landlords do whatever they want or where something needs to be cleaned or repaired, and unlike my awesome, amazing landlord who was, they don’t want to fix it. They don’t want to spend the money.
Spidle said that he’s looked at a few places he could afford, but when he tells some landlords he is on assistance, they outright refuse to rent to him. In a couple of other cases, he was told that apartments were no longer available, but continued to see them advertised online.
When I asked Spidle to describe himself, he told me he aims to “make a better tomorrow for folks, serve my God and my Queen, contribute to my society, and help make it a little better. It’s not rocket science. We should all be doing that.”
If you want to get a sense of how bad things can get when you make evictions easy, I highly recommend the On the Media podcast’s eviction series. One of the things reporter Brooke Gladstone discovers is that evictions are often not a last resort. In some cases, they are actually money-makers for landlords. I was appalled at the clip of an ad for a company that offers to handle evictions for landlords, and has the cheery slogan, “Point, click, evict.”
A couple of months ago, I went on a bit of a rant about bicycle licencing. Last weekend, my partner Sara and I were enjoying burgers and a milkshake at Jonny’s Cookhouse in Berwick. Jonny’s is not into the sparse aesthetic. Every surface seems to be covered with something. While we were waiting for our order, Sara looked up and noticed a row of bike licences in among a wall of old car licence plates. There is one from Montreal, several from Winnipeg, and one from Richmond. I also see a couple of Kentville taxi licences. Why are these the size of bike licences? Where did they go on the car? Can anyone who grew up in the Valley help me out?
I got curious about those Winnipeg bike licences, and came across a paper called The Two-Wheeled Workhorse: The Bicycle as Personal and Commercial Transport in Winnipeg. Written by John C. Lehr and H. John Selwood, the article appeared in the October 1999 issue of the journal Urban History Review.
It’s full of all kinds of fascinating history. The first bikes arrived in Winnipeg in 1875. A few years later a bicycle club was formed, advocating for dedicated bike paths. Bikes were status symbols, and only the well-heeled rode them.
The greatest impact upon Winnipeg’s recreational patterns was wrought by the network of bicycle paths initiated by the Winnipeg Bicycle Club. Even before cycling caught the popular imagination, members of the Club who were dissatisfied with the sorry state of Winnipeg’s streets, which made cycling a hazardous occupation, began to build paths of crushed ash and cinders to give them a roadway which was smooth, scenic, and without the hazards of horse-drawn traffic. In the early 1890s only a few streets in Winnipeg’s downtown were paved, mostly with cedar blocks. Many suburban streets were not even graded and were little more than rutted muddy tracks.
The Canadian Wheelman’s Association lobbied City Council to assist in the construction of a cycle path along Portage Avenue “from the end of the [cedar] block pavement to the city limits” by building all the required culverts and crossings at street intersections. Efforts to maintain bicycle paths were often frustrated by people wrecking the surface by driving horses, carts, even cattle along them, breaking and rutting the carefully rolled surface.
By the early 1900s, the price of bikes had dropped, and some very familiar-sounding arguments began to emerge. Could cycling cause health problems for riders? Was it immodest for women to ride? Should bikes be allowed on roads or sidewalks? What should their maximum speed be?
Eventually, the city appointed a Bicycle Paths Board and introduced a licensing scheme to pay for new bike paths.
Even after Winnipeg’s cyclists had secured their bicycle paths all was not smooth going. In 1906, at the Cycle Path Board annual meeting the chairman complained that the “Portage Avenue [bicycle] path was cut up [for] almost a mile … and buried for the greater part of the summer in sewer excavations,” while a path along Logan Avenue “was covered with a new sidewalk a few weeks after [it] was finished.” Most of the other paths were “rendered almost useless by excavations and obstructions.”
Over 5,000 bicycles were registered with the city in 1901, and the number had grown to nearly 25,000 by 1943.
The article notes that bicycles were largely used as work vehicles: “Indeed, to working class men the bicycle appears to have been almost essential.” And I was interested to see that they remained popular year-round.
Good news: Winter is not that much of a barrier. Bad news (for expanded cycling in Halifax): It depends on what kind of winter.
While it is true that the principal use of the bicycle was as a summertime recreational plaything, the evidence from Winnipeg is that it was used year round in its other capacities. Between 1908 and 1934 bicycle license sales peaked in the early summer but continued throughout the year, an indication of the bicycle’s year-round use. The limiting factor for bicycle use in Winnipeg was not so much the extreme cold of winter but the heavy going through deep wet snow and muddy conditions. In fact, the extreme cold temperatures and hard-packed snow conditions generally experienced on Winnipeg streets in winter provide better traction than the more moderate and wetter weather conditions prevalent in other parts of Canada.
I love reading this kind of history.
Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — Here’s the agenda.
Open House Public Information Meeting – Case 22115 (Thursday, 3pm, Halifax North Memorial Public Library) — an application by Ekistics Planning and Design to allow a multi-unit residential building by development agreement at 2438 Gottingen Street, Halifax.
This will be an Open House style Public Information Meeting from 3pm to 5pm and again from 6pm to 8:30pm. More info here.
Public Information Meeting – Case 22450 (Thursday, 7pm, Music Room, École du Sommet, 500 Larry Uteck Blvd, Halifax) — Cresco Holdings Limited is requesting a substantive amendment to an existing development agreement to allow an additional 72 residential units on lands on Hogan Court, Bedford. More info here.
No public meetings.
Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)
Legislature sits (Friday, 9am, Province House)
Supporting the Transition to Parenthood: The Impact of Parental Trauma on Early Childhood Development (Thursday, 10am, Parker Reception Room, IWK Health Centre) — Margaret Leslie, Director of Early Intervention Programs at the Canadian Mothercraft Society, will lead this day-long workshop. $75, more info here, registration here.
Mini Medical School (Thursday, 7pm, Theatre B, Tupper Link) — Mandi Irwin presents “Diabetes”, and Tammy Keough-Ryan presents “Kidney Disease.”
North Atlantic Right Whales in Uncharted Waters (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Kimberley Davies from the University of New Brunswick will talk. From the listing:
North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are iconic Canadian animals that have become globally recognized as a poster child for the impacts of human activities on threatened species. In this plenary I discuss biological adaptations right whales use to cope with a patchy and ephemeral zooplankton prey resource. These adaptations make right whales unusually susceptible to harm from certain human activities such as fishing and shipping, apparently more so that other large whales. I will explain how recent changes in the ocean environment have put the future of these animals in peril through impacting both their population biology and risk from human activities. Looking to the future, unprecedented collaborative efforts are underway that hope to improve the outlook for this species.
Noon Hour Woodwinds Recital (Friday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with students of Patricia Creighton, Christine Feierabend, Brian James, Suzanne Lemieux, and Eileen Walsh.
Call it Collaboration (Friday, 1pm, Studio Two, Dal Arts Centre) — Jillian Keiley will talk. More info here.
Open Educational Resources: Availability, Adaptability, and Affordability (Friday, 1pm, Room B400, Killam Library) — Grant Potter from the University of Northern British Columbia will lead this two-hour workshop. More info and registration here.
Studying, working, and travelling in China (Friday, 4pm, Room 2102, Marion McCain Building) — Ievgeniia Rozhenko will lead a round-table discussion and information session. More info here.
Cello masterclass (Friday, 7:30pm, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with Stèphane Tètreault.
Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity (Thursday, 12pm, Room LI135, Patrick Power Library) — Author Darryl Laroux will discuss why some groups of white, French descendant settlers in Canada are claiming “Indigenous” identity, and the effects of these claims on actual Indigenous peoples. Bring your lunch; tea, coffee and cookies provided. More info here.
Il Primo Re (Thursday, 6pm, Loyola L170) — screening of the “epic, violent, and hyper-realistic treatment of the myth of Romulus and his brother Remus as they navigate the harsh and brutal world of ancient Italy on their way to founding the city of Rome.” In Latin with English subtitles.
Ritual Assemblages of Territorial Imagination in Cambodia (Friday, 12pm, MM 227) — a talk by Erik W. Davis from Malacaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here’s the abstract:
Cambodians frequently insist that sīmā rituals (pidhī puṇya pañcuḥ sīmā) inaugurating Buddhist temples historically included a variety of forms of violence and sacrifice, including human sacrifice by kings and their representatives. I examine historical Cambodian models of using stones to mark territory, as well as stories and myths told about histories of sacrifice and violence, to suggest that today’s sīmā rituals represent a creative assemblage of distinct forms of territorial imagination. By also contextualizing the rituals in terms of the stories about human sacrifice, domesticated protective spirits, and more, I explore how sīmā rituals articulate a series of ideas about sovereignty, morality, and territorial control. These rituals place kingly power and violence at their literal center. By treating the ritual as an assemblage, I analyze different possible articulations of the relationships between the parts, including the legitimization of royal violence, or attempts to constrain it.
More info here.
No public events.
Digital Scholarship in Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Friday, 3:15pm, KTS Lecture Hall, New Academic Building) — an informal roundtable with Jennifer Bain and Lyn Bennett from Dalhousie University; Marie-France Guénette from the Université de Montréal; Leah Grandy from the University of New Brunswick; and Keith Grant from Crandall University. More info here.
The Apprenticeship of Richard Robinson: The Making of an Early Modern Boy Actress (Friday, 6:30pm, KTS Lecture Hall, New Academic Building)— Roberta Barker will talk.
In the harbour
06:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:00: Regal Princess, cruise ship with up to 4,271 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day cruise out of New York
06:00: Tosca, car carrier, arrives at Pier 27 from Southampton, England
07:00: Augusta Sun, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
07:00: Pengalia, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
09:00: BW Raven, oil tanker, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Imperial Oil
11:00: Pengalia sails for Portland
11:00: Tosca moves to Autoport
16:00: RHL Agilitas, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
16:00: Atlantic Sea sails for Liverpool, England
17:00: Tosca sails for sea
18:00: HC Svea-Kim, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 27 from Szczecin, Poland
19:30: Regal Princess sails for New York
20:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum
Now that I’m done with today’s Morning File, I’m heading over to my publisher’s offices to pick up a few copies of my book. As someone who for years thought about writing books in a vague kind of way but was unable to actually commit to a longer project, this still seems kind of amazing to me.