1. A special Examiner report on racism being over
Lindell Smith was elected to city council for District 8 in a historic landslide win on October 15.
“This is so great!” enthused Blanche White. “Halifax really showed that we’re colour blind! Black, white, green, purple, polka dotted, whatever, it doesn’t matter to me!”
The Halifax Examiner attempted to track down a “whatever” candidate for this report, but we were unsuccessful. Calls to the Green Party of Canada revealed that candidates are not actually green in colour.
Voter Van Frost spoke to the Examiner while shopping for a new sofa at Leon’s. Frost reflected, “I feel like I’ve done my job now. Now I don’t have to think about racism for, like, another two years at least.”
Frost observed that “voting for Lindell makes me feel like I’ve proven that I’m not racist. In the future, if a Black person accuses me of being prejudiced in a comments section online, I can say, ‘You seem like the real racist making all those assumptions about me. For your information, I voted for Lindell Smith. Would a racist do that?”
Commentator Ash Lily, who lives in the North End, spoke to our reporter while dropping his children off at a South End private school. Lily agrees that the mood among white people is celebratory, noting that the election of Smith proves that Halifax “can put behind us” our reputation for being “the Mississippi of the North.”
“It’s amazing!” said Lily. “On October 14th I went to bed a citizen of a city with a so-called race problem, and I woke up on Sunday morning in a city where race isn’t a barrier anymore, and you can do whatever you want if you stop complaining and really just work for it.”
“I feel really good about myself right now,” Lily added. “I can even shop at Sobeys again without feeling guilty!”
While straightening his child’s uniform tie, Lily noted that the election result shows that “everyone has equal chances in this city.”
Resident Pearl Grey didn’t vote for Smith, but concurred that the election of Smith says something important about race in Halifax. “What’s really historic about this election is that now white people can point to Lindell whenever a Black person talks about racism.”
Grey felt happy there were so many possible responses now for white people to use in discussions of race. “For example, if a Black person is complaining about racism, now you can say ‘well, instead of complaining, why don’t you do something about it and run for office?’ Or, if Black people talk about how they lack representation, you can say, ‘you got Lindell, what more do you want?’ Or, if Black people are trying to talk to you about racial issues you can just pass them onto Lindell, and tell them to take it up with him, because dealing with racism is his job now. Another thing that’s great is that if Black people are talking about racism too much, you can tell them, ‘why can’t you be more like Lindell?”
Like Grey, White insisted that, “There’s no need to inject race into the conversation and make this about race. For me, I see a nice, clean, articulate, young man who’s so calm and well-spoken. I don’t see race.”
Albion Frost, who described himself as an “objective observer of race” noted that “there are 16 councillors and 1 of them is African Nova Scotian, which means that statistically, Black people are actually over-represented at city council. So that means that statistically, we can’t be racist anymore. Now we have evidence.”
Asked if he had any comments on the report on workplace racism within the Halifax Regional Municipality’s Operations Department, Frost noted, “Previous studies on racism within the city have been based on emotion and people’s perceptions of events. How many times have we all encountered a Black friend or colleague mistakenly labelling something as racist when we know as white people that we also sometimes get stopped by the police or followed around stores? Now we have math to show us that Black people have just as much opportunity as anyone else.”
We spoke to Al Silver, who self-identifies as “progressive,” on Friday in the Good Robot beer garden. Silver confirmed for the Examiner that the election of Smith was historic for white people. “It’s so exciting!” Silver told the Examiner. “For years we’ve been watching Barack Obama in the States, and now Halifax finally gets to be post-racial too!”
Silver then quoted the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech, before excusing himself to “go pee on the wall next door.”
Questions about “intersectionality” with our interviewees unfortunately resulted in confusion, with respondents arguing about accidents in crosswalks and bike lanes. Therefore, attempts to talk about Black women or LGBTQ2S people did not yield any quotes for this report.
2. Noise Complaints
Despite “amicably” trying to work out the problem amongst themselves, the news has made the Centre for Islamic Development on Robie Street into a target for Islamophobic and xenophobic comments.
On Tuesday, Good Robot posted a statement on its Facebook page stating “We do not endorse the anti-Islamic remarks directed towards the Centre by some people who have heard of the complaint, and we are very disappointed that this tone has emerged.”
Recent news coverage of the situation has caught the attention of folks on social media, some of whom have used the excuse of defending Good Robot to spread Islamophobia. “Wake up people, they are not here to coexist, they are here to impose their cult on us,” reads one typical post sharing the story in an anti-Islamic New Brunswick news group.
Man, Muslims in Canada must be so busy filing noise complaints since nobody else ever files noise complaints at all, only Muslims. How do they even find time to do anything else?
According to this CTV news report in 2015, In Ottawa, “6,152 noise-related complaints were filed to the city between the beginning of the year and Aug. 11, with just under half related to loud music and about 1,500 loud shouting.”
In 2013, Saskatoon received 1,694 noise complaints and 1,268 complaints specifically about noisy parties.
While statistics were not available, Winnipeg officials said most noise complaints in that city are typically about the roar of construction machinery and neighbours’ air conditioners.
Susan Logan, executive director of the non-profit Mediation & Restorative Justice Centre in Edmonton, said neighbour disputes represent the largest percentage of their caseload.
Issues arise all year long, from complaints over placing snow on a neighbour’s lawn — or simply not shovelling — to overgrown trees, she said.
The article doesn’t say, but I guess all those complaints must be from Muslims since “Canadians” apparently never file noise complaints. Jeez, it’s amazing Muslims even have time to impose their cult on us when they’re so busy filing thousands of noise complaints a month.
In 2014, “police issued 138 tickets for noise complaints, alcohol-related infractions and motor vehicle infractions” during Operation Fall-Back around Halifax’s universities. Wow, it must be those Muslims again, not wanting anyone to have any fun ever. The South End is entirely Muslims in the whole neighbourhood, you know.
On Friday in Ottawa, city councillors argued that late-night noise complaints should be responded to immediately.
Bylaw enforcement officers respond to service requests from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. from Sunday to Thursday and until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
But councillors near the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College say that leaves gaps in the early morning after bars close.
As a result, some 321 noise (and 456 parking) complaints from Apr. 3 to Sept. 3 weren’t dealt with until the next day.
Bay Ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli says that’s a problem because the noise has stopped, and the perpetrators of the noise are gone.
“The signal we will send if we do not deal with this very much in the future, is that from 2 o’clock on, you can do whatever you want, and that’s not a signal you want,” he said at Thursday’s meeting of the community and protective services committee.
Man, I bet there are so many racist comments on the Ottawa city councillors’ social media right now! I bet there’s mass online debate about Ottawa city councillors needing to learn to fit in! Go back where you came from, Ottawa city council! Don’t you know late night drinking and making noise and vomiting is just part of Canadian culture and if you complain you need to learn our values?
Muslims obviously also staged a take-over of the Catholic church in Halifax, judging by this letter to the editor in The Coast from July:
…There is a need for Sacred Balance, being mindful of spiritual heritage while building for the future. Who is to benefit from the redevelopment, since the land will pass out of Archdiocesan ownership? Will the liturgy during the week have to be carried on with tremors and noise fallout, and for how long? Have all canon law requirements been followed? That responsibility rests squarely upon the shoulders of the bishop. The final question, therefore, is whether the sale of the property—which has now been confirmed—is actually for the Good, or for less worthy purposes?
Those Catholic Muslims, complaining about the noise from construction interrupting their services. Muslims are so unreasonable.
Hey, remember when Muslims left that racist threatening letter about a family’s allegedly messy yard?
Al Jamil and her family fled Lebanon because they feared for their safety and now she lives in Beechville, N.S. with her sister.
But the letter she found in her driveway hasn’t made her feel very welcome.
“We take pride in our community and people like you come in and make it look like a mess,” the letter states. “Maintain your yard or see what happens to you and your home if you don’t.
“You are not a Canadian and maybe this is how your home looks in your country, but we don’t want your messy yards and lack of upkeep ruining our community. Fix it now pig.”
Those racist Muslims, complaining about Muslims making a mess…wait a minute. This just got confusing. You mean maybe it possibly wasn’t Muslims who left the letter? You mean Muslim people face racist threats from their neighbours? How can that be? I thought that nobody ever complained about anything in neighbourhoods in Halifax until we let all those Muslims in.
It’s just weird how one noise complaint out of thousands every year is getting all the attention. It’s kind of funny how when white people start gentrifying neighbourhoods and file noise complaints about their Black neighbours barbecuing outside nobody tells them to learn to fit in or go back where they came from. It’s just strange how there’s no investigation into the way public housing regulations allow them to engage in racist eviction practices by using noise complaints to get rid of Black residents, but this one complaint is apparently the worst threat in Halifax. It’s sort of odd how you can Google “noise complaints Halifax” and find endless reviews and threads and message boards about noisy neighbours, and the noise from the bars interrupting sleep in downtown hotels, and people filing lawsuits about disruption and noise from construction, but when Muslims have a complaint they’re un-Canadian.
I guess when white people complain about their neighbours they have the right to peace. But when Muslims complain, it shows they can’t be peaceful.
It’s strange how that works.
3. We’ll make you pay
Advocates have said her health is fragile following several surgeries and she should be allowed to stay in Canada, while being taken off the border agency’s detention list.
However, at a detention review hearing on Friday, her lawyer John O’Neill recommended she remain on the detention list for another 30 days while advocates work to secure private funding for her health-care needs, as federal agencies would not pay for her health care should she be released.
Cramman’s legal team is preparing an application for permanent residency under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Cramman has already been failed in so many ways. As a child in care, the state was responsible for her but did not seek citizenship on her behalf. As an adult, she was failed by our mental health care system and our lack of treatment options for people with addictions. Like so many women victimized by sexual violence, she ended up incarcerated, another woman failed in a system where women are one of the fastest-growing prison populations. And now, under threat of deportation, she is not entitled to health care, another failure of our government and society to have any compassion or care towards vulnerable people.
It will cost an estimated $1,000 a month to pay for Cramman’s care, which advocates now will attempt to raise from the community. The same community that already donates hygiene products and necessities to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women who aren’t entitled to living allowances while in prison to take care of even basic needs. Meanwhile the government will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to house women in federal prison, but refuse to pay $1,000 to keep a desperately ill woman alive, or to support her to work with advocates and get treatment in the community.
This is part of the callous trend in neoliberal society where individuals are on their own, where society has no responsibility for people, and where even basic human rights like healthcare are offloaded on to private citizens instead of the government. But worse than that, it is the pricing of human life, the calculated decision that $1,000 a month is worth more than this woman. Of course, it cost money to keep her in shackles under guard too, but we’ll pay for that. We just won’t pay for her to find healing, or dignity, or humanity.
4. They’re watching you
Speaking of security and hospitals, the armed man who walked into the emergency department at at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Middleton has prompted a province-wide review of hospital security.
At a news conference at Province House Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil noted the need to make hospitals as secure as schools.
“You go across our province, if there’s an incident in any of our schools we can lock them down in a hurry to make sure we protect our children. In our health-care facilities that’s not the same,” he said.
“This incident highlighted that there is a potential risk that we need to address.”
Nurses testify in the article to the level of violence they face at work. This is obviously a serious issue. Some of the suggestions from the Nova Scotia Nurses Union include panic buttons and better tracking systems:
[President Janet] Hazelton said giving every nurses a panic button they can carry with them to notify others in the case of an emergency is one thing that can be done. She’d also like hospital records to flag patients who have been violent in the past.
“If someone’s discharged from a facility, that has violent tendencies, when I plug them into my computer at a different facility 200 miles down the road, that should pop up,” she said.
There obviously needs to be measures in place to protect staff, but I’m also uncomfortable with the rise in surveillance and securitization and the normalization of this policing. The examples of schools that McNeil gives is a case in point. Nobody wants pedophiles or shooters or other dangerous people entering schools. But when I went to Washington DC to present in a high school, for example, I walked through metal detectors in front of a full security desk. Everyone had to put their bags through an x-ray machine, and guards with wands searched the students on the way in.
People may argue that it keeps students “safe,” but it also, among other things accustoms students to a surveillance culture that normalizes intrusive searching, security apparatus, and prison-like surroundings. One aspect of the school-to-prison pipeline noted by critics of the surveillance state is that as schools come to look more like prison, racialized students in particular are accustomed to being policed and are conditioned to prison-like conditions in daily life.
How does it impact learning if children have to be patted down and are constantly aware of the presence of guards/authority who control their movement and bodies?
Nova Scotia hasn’t instituted that level of security in schools, but the trend is towards more policing and surveillance. Cameras and security guards in schools are instituted under the banner of safety — and of course, there are no questions asked about how safe students from highly policed neighbourhoods who experience police violence may feel at having uniformed guards or “community” police officers present where they learn.
I’ve heard people suggesting that metal detectors and other security apparatus be installed in hospitals, and again, there is little thought to how this airport-like security structure might impact the ability of patients to feel safe. We have become used to a theatre of security in airports — largely ineffectual measures that are supposed to reassure us against terrorism, but actually cost large amounts of money to almost no result.
And of course, these security measures target Muslims and People of Colour, such as the off-duty Black police officer publicly searched at the Halifax airport. Trans people also report stigmatizing experiences with security and intrusive searching. Black women with natural hairstyles are subjected to having their hair patted down and searched, a humiliating and violating act that continues stigmatization of Black hair under the guise of public safety. Simone Brown in Dark Matters writes about this surveillance of Blackness and Black people.
Will Muslim patients and their families, who may have experienced repeated humiliations at the hands of security personnel, feel safe in hospitals that institute similar security measures? When practices of racist surveillance are ingrained into our security structures, the guards who will be responsible for searches will perpetrate the same racist practices of profiling experienced in every other venue where this security exists.
How secure will patients of colour feel in these hospitals when they inevitably experience this treatment? Remember, our hospitals are already places where incarcerated women can be shackled to their beds. There is a connection between a state that invests more and more in a security apparatus, and the state that “goes too far” in chaining up sick women. It’s all in the name of security and protection.
Besides the racial aspects of the culture of surveillance, there is the problem with the way these measures, once confined to prisons or even airports, have now made their way into daily life. Angela Davis and other have observed that the world is becoming a prison. We shouldn’t uncritically accept the idea that we will constantly be watched, or that it is normal to be searched and scanned and patted down before entering a building. Since 9/11 in particular, we have been told that it is necessary to give up our privacy in the name of safety, while our civil liberties are consistently eroded.
I don’t want nurses to be hurt at work. But I also don’t agree that metal detectors should just be normal practice or that it keeps hospitals safe to treat them like detention centres. And when we panic and install intense security measures in response to one incident will be with us for a long time.