1. Younger refuses to testify
“A judge has dismissed a charge against a woman accused of assaulting Nova Scotia Environment Minister Andrew Younger after he didn’t show up in court Wednesday, citing his privilege as a member of the legislature,” reports the Canadian Press:
Tara Gault had pleaded not guilty to the charge stemming from an assault that was alleged to have happened on or about Oct. 22, 2013, the day the Liberal government assumed power after the last provincial election.
Younger was subpoenaed to attend provincial court Wednesday but did not appear. Younger’s lawyer Brian Casey said he was busy with house business and preparations for an upcoming conference.
“He’s indicated to the Crown that he does not wish to appear and that it would be a distraction from what he’s doing,” Casey said outside court.
A distraction from what he is doing, eh? You try that one when you’re subpoenaed and see what happens.
Parliamentary privilege exists so the king can’t throw an MP into the Tower of London until he agrees to vote to fund the war against Flanders and Aquitaine, or what have you. In its modern iteration, parliamentary privilege protects MPs from libel charges, allowing them to speak freely in the House of Commons. All good. But while it may technically be legal for Younger to ignore a subpoena in a criminal matter, that’s stretching the purpose of privilege.
Younger had apparently been involved with Gault
since the two worked together at Halifax City Hall, Younger as a city councillor and Gault as an articling student in the city’s legal department for four years*. The relationship ran its course until the alleged incident at the Dingle, when the police claimed Gault assaulted Younger.
Younger didn’t initiate the complaint. Police only found out about it when Younger called them about threats, apparently from a deranged person concerned about fracking, that were emailed to his legislative office. An investigation ensued, and somehow the earlier incident with Gault was discovered.
Had she been convicted of the charges, Gault would have been prevented from becoming a lawyer.
In the end what matters is: Has justice been served? Should a promising young woman’s legal career be derailed before it begins because of an alleged assault that neither she nor Younger want detailed in public?
Outside the courtroom, defence lawyer Joel Pink said Gault is “very relieved” the case is over.
And he said the statement Younger gave to police may not be true because “you have to take into account the whole four years of their relationship, and that, I take it, is what Mr. Younger didn’t want to come out into the public.”
Pink refused to describe the nature of the relationship between Gault and Younger.
Pink says his 29-year-old client’s life has been on hold for nearly a year since the charge was laid last January.
She had put off a job search, according to Pink, and is to be called to the Nova Scotia Bar later this week.
It’s tempting to run the thought experiment of reversing the genders in the case. Would we think differently if a man had allegedly assaulted a woman and she refused to testify? Would we be primarily worried about the man’s future legal career, or would our concerns about domestic violence matter most?
But we can’t ignore the power dynamics here. Younger is in the position of power, a leading provincial politician and cabinet minister matched in court proceedings against a no doubt debt-laden law student. Nothing good comes from convicting her. While, as Pink says, Younger is probably just protecting his own reputation, in the end he took the right course by using his privilege to not testify.
Later today, however, there will be a courtroom full of people over at the Spring Garden Road courthouse who wish they had the same privilege.
* A reader points out that Younger was elected to the legislature in 2009, and Gault didn’t start working at City Hall until 2013 or 2014.
Willow Brooks hung her head and slipped self-consciously out of a Halifax courtroom.
The young Halifax woman said her embarrassment derived from being denied the opportunity to breastfeed her four-month-old son, Angelo, after being told to refrain from something natural that she does regularly in public places and something that is protected as a Nova Scotia human right.
“I was just sitting in the courtroom. It was before any of the matters had started,” said Brooks, 22, who was in the Spring Garden Road courtroom on Oct. 14 to support boyfriend Ryan Sack, who was facing charges.
“I started to breastfeed my baby and the judge just looked at me and said, ‘Don’t breastfeed in the courtroom. I don’t have a problem with you breastfeeding. Just don’t do it in the courtroom.’ I took my baby and went into the waiting area.
The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act protects the right of women to breastfeed in public places:
The Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the area of “the provision of or access to services and facilities”. Women have the right to breast-feed a child in public areas, including restaurants, retail stores and shopping centres, theatres and so forth. Women should not be prevented from nursing a child in a public area, nor asked to move to another area that is more “discreet.”
3. Pedestrian struck
From a police email to reporters:
820 am Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of a car vs pedestrian collision in the 1900 block of Upper Water St, Halifax. A cab, operated by a 42 year old male was exiting a driveway at the address and struck a 58 year old female pedestrian crossing the driveway at that location. The pedestrian was assessed at the scene by EHS paramedics and released without the need to attend the hospital. The cab driver was issued a Summary Offence ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian, contrary to the Motor Vehicle Act.
4. Any wage is too high
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is against people being paid well, period. And any wage — even the lowest legally paid minimum wage — is too high in the CFIB’s opinion. The group is forever arguing against increases in the minimum wage, and with every increase trots out some tearful business owner saying he or she can’t stay in business unless their employees are paid poverty wages.
Basically, the CFIB won’t be happy until we reinstate slavery, and even then they’ll complain the rations are excessive.
The CFIB claims to represent 109,000 small business owners, but it doesn’t make its membership list public. Dues are $250.00 annually, plus $30 per employee, to a maximum of $3,500.00 per year. Frankly, I don’t believe the 109,000 claim. Most business owners, if they’ve got $3,500 lying around are going to spend it on improving their business, and not on paying some schmuck to attack their employees.
We should shame businesses that pay their employees shit wages. What kind of person even starts a business with the aim of forever keeping their employees impoverished?
1. Cranky letter of the day
I’m not a Scrooge, but each year I become more dismayed by the increasing number of retailers who commence their holiday (Christmas) promotion campaigns on Nov. 1. Can they not show some respect and wait until after Remembrance Day before bombarding us with Christmas decorations, music and advertising?
Three years ago, I complained to a major supermarket about this. The response I received was that customers wanted this early Christmas promotion and they were simply responding to that demand. I am doubtful that customers want to spend nearly two months being inundated with all things Christmas. I encourage people who do not want early Christmas campaigns to complain and/or boycott those offending retailers.
Craig Walkington, Halifax
Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (4:30pm, Office and Maintenance Building, Point Pleasant Park) — Councillor Waye Mason has put forward the following motion:
That the Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee recommend that Halifax and West Community Council request a staff report to examine the possibility of weekend bicycle access to Point Pleasant Park and to discuss the matter with the Active Transportation Advisory Committee.
Public Information Meeting (7pm, Cole Harbour Place) — Kenting Properties wants to build two commercial buildings and a 48-unit four-storey residential building at 1095 and 1101 Cole Harbour Road. Details here.
Standing Committee on Resources (9am, One Government Place) — the committee will be discussing the capping of offshore exploratory wells. To be questioned are:
Shell Canada Limited
Christine Pagan – Manager, Atlantic Canada Venture
Tara Barnett – Manager, External Relations
Rob Van Scherpenseel – Manager, Wells Operations
Scott Jardine – Manager, Health, Safety and Environment
Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board
Mr. Stuart Pinks – Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Paul Taylor – Board Member (Provincial)
Mr. Eric Theriault – Advisor, Environmental Affairs
Ms. Kathleen Funke – Advisor, Communications
Needless to say, this is a really big deal.
This date in history
On November 5, 1863, the Halifax Citizen began publishing. It was a “tri-weekly evening paper,” and it continued publishing through 1873. Many editions of the paper have been put on Google Newspaper.
I’m a sucker for the old newspapers. I love the big broadsheets, with their gigantic walls of text, harkening back to an age when people could read without having to have a gazillion graphics to keep their attention. I seriously thought about making the Examiner a broadsheet, but printing costs precluded it.
I’m not sure what to make of the Citizen. Looking at the then-raging US Civil War, it actually cheered on the destruction of the United States:
…We believe the souther section of the Union did thus injure the North. And with all our admiration for their gallantry in this war, we cannot, with our fierce British feelings, shut our eyes to their vulgar affectation of aristocracy, or their selfish disregard of human rights. But the North would not look at them as slaveholders; would only look at them as fighters. Viewing them in the same light we see that they are the better fighters. Both on land and sea they fight against such odds so bravely that we must heartily admire their manly valor. And such we think separation the inevitable end. The North will not so fight for liberty to the slaves as to win sympathy or deserve success. The Democratic section will not convert a human chattel into a freeman on any terms; the Abolitionists are too weak to effect this alone. The old Republic was becoming too disorderly and selfish a power among nations; its insolence was equal to its immensity. Popular prejudice carried the day against old established principles; the masses were become so despotic that little room was left for Liberty. Humanity and civilization have much to gain from its partition, and it is therefore evident that as the final severing of the Union is inevitable, it is also best.
Founder pitfalls (11:30am, Room 426, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — some unknown person/people* will be talking “about the common pitfalls faced by founders when building teams, searching for capital and determining equity shares. Based on Noam Wasserman’s Founder’s Dilemmas, we will discuss what the data has to say about the characteristics of a strong founding team, common founder pitfalls, and the statistical impact of key early decisions on a startup company two years down the road.”
* I’m told the reason so many of these event listings don’t name the speaker is because there’s no “speaker” field on the form that departments fill out to get events added to the website, and it’s simply too much trouble for whoever fills out the form to rewrite the listing to include the speaker’s name.
Oceans (3:30pm, 5th Floor Biology Lounge, Life Sciences Centre) — Remi Daigle, from Université du Québec à Rimouski, will speak on “From coast to coast: Public perception of ocean-derived benefits in Canada.”
Labour Regulation and Economic Development (6pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Simon Deakin, from the University of Cambridge, will speak on “Labour Regulation and Economic Development: Past, Present, and Future“:
The lecture and course will suggest a counter-hypothesis to the current wisdom, namely that labour law is an integral part of a market economy and of the evolution of capitalism, and that since an end to capitalism isn’t immediately in sight, the history of labour law isn’t yet run.
#BlackLivesMatter (7pm, Room 1028, Rowe Building) — Marcia Chatelain, from Georgetown University, will speak on “Teaching in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter: Social Media, Social Justice, and Social Change in Classrooms and Communities.”
Passenger Pigeon extinction (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — a screening of the film “From Billions to None: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction.”
Libertarians are delusional people who think that if we do away with government we’ll live in a utopian paradise, like, I dunno, Somalia, I guess. But credit where credit is due: the libertarian magazine Reason is good for one thing: debunking Halloween candy tampering stories. Writes Jesse Walker:
It’s the first week in November, and that means it’s time for one of America’s great unsung traditions: the annual unraveling of the Halloween hoaxes. Every year, a new crop of news and social-media reports appear claiming that pins, razor blades, and sometimes more outré objects were found hidden in children’s Halloween candy. And every year, a second wave of stories amends the first.
There was a report of an actual injury in Marion Center, Pennsylvania: A 16-year-old claimed she needed 23 stitches after biting some bubble gum with a razor hidden in it. That was a lie, too—she soon admitted the wound was self-inflicted.
My favorite candy hoax of 2015 so far comes from Blackwood, New Jersey, where a man named Robert Ledrew told first his Facebook friends and then the police that he’d found four sewing needles in his children’s goodies. This time the hoaxer turned out to be the parent: Ledrew eventually confessed to the cops that he had inserted the objects himself, claiming he’d been trying to teach his kids a safety lesson. He certainly taught them some sort of lesson: He’s being charged with filing a false police report.
If the patterns of the past continue, some of those will eventually be proven fakes and some will remain unsolved. But you know what almost never happens? Hardly anyone ever actually gets nabbed for giving tampered candy to trick-or-treaters.
In the harbour
Northern Debonair, container ship, arrived at Fairview Cove this morning from New York; sails to sea at 3pm
Atlantic Conveyor, ro-ro cargo, arrived at Fairview Cove this morning from Liverpool, England
Algocanada, oil tanker, Quebec to anchorage
Seoul Express, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove
We’ll be recording the next Examineradio today.