1. Baillie resignation
“While the Conservative response to the sexual harassment allegations against Jamie Baillie represents progress of a sort, there are still lessons we can learn from what the party did — and didn’t do — in this case,” writes Stephen Kimber.
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2. Cornwallis statue and manufactured history
On Friday, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs called for the immediate removal of the Cornwallis statue. The Chiefs’ press release:
In October 2017, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs (Assembly) agreed to work with the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and submit names of Mi’kmaq representatives to sit on an HRM panel to discuss the concerns of the Cornwallis statue and how the HRM commemorates history.
This committee has yet to be formed and yesterday at the Assembly meeting, the Chiefs unanimously agreed that this process has taken far too long and have therefore chose to no longer participate in these panel discussions.
The Assembly then passed a resolution calling on the HRM to remove the statue of Edward Cornwallis immediately and deal with all commemorations of Cornwallis in the HRM.
“We have been more than patient to see movement on this,” said Chief Bob Gloade, Millbrook First Nation. “The Mi’kmaq need to see action now, and that is why we voted for the statue to be immediately removed.”
The Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia have continued to voice concerns to the HRM on this statue and how history is commemorated, considering the atrocities that were experienced by our ancestors at the hands of Edward Cornwallis.
“It’s time that Nova Scotia represents all our histories,” said Chief Deborah Robinson, Lead Chief of the Urban Mi’kmaq portfolio. “The story has been one sided for far too long. The Mi’kmaq are the first people of these lands, we have stories that we are proud of, and that should be recognized and told. Continuing to celebrate and commemorate only one part of history, and people like Cornwallis, is what we should all want to move away from.”
The Assembly has written to the HRM today to deliver this message and will continue to push for this issue to be quickly resolved.
In response, Mayor Mike Savage issued a statement:
In early October 2017, Regional Council approved the creation of a special advisory committee to provide recommendations on the commemoration of Edward Cornwallis on municipal assets and how we recognize and commemorate the Indigenous history in the Halifax Regional Municipality. This is a different process than any we’ve undertaken before. The committee was meant to create the space to have challenging conversations about our shared history and future. Reconciliation is a complex process, requiring the engagement of our community in its broadest form.
We recognize the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs has withdrawn support of the process. It is my expectation that we will be able to continue to work together.
Regional Council remains committed to continued dialogue on our journey of reconciliation.
We have taken a number of actions in support of reconciliation that are detailed in a report that came to Regional Council on January 16, 2018 [https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/regional-council/180116rc1415.pdf]. These actions support Regional Council’s 2015 statement of reconciliation, in which Regional Council recognized the significance of the undertaking of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and committed to take action to ensure the needs and aspirations of Indigenous people are fully acknowledged in our community.
I now look forward to the contribution of my Council colleagues in shaping how we move forward.
In turn, Examiner contributor Evelyn White wrote the mayor:
Dear Mayor Savage,
I’ve just read your statement regarding the decision by the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs to cease participation in the HRM hand-wringing about “what to do, what to do” about the Cornwallis statue. One would think that a city that has on its conscience the clandestine razing of a historic Black church, would jump at the chance to “get on the good foot” and remove (without further “study”) an undisputed symbol of the violence exacted upon the Mi’kmaq people.
Take a page from Viola Desmond and move out of your comfort zone.
And please stop saying, at public events, that you stand on “unceded Mi’kmaq territory” if you don’t intend to comply with the Mi’kmaq request (as I understand it) to drop-kick the Cornwallis statue. Born in the U.S., I’ve not been imbued with the “genteel” Canadian gene, so, in the tradition of African American activists of my generation, I’ll just put it this way: “If you piss on me, I’m going to call it piss. I’m not going to call it rain.”
Evelyn C. White
Halifax council will discuss the statue and the advisory committee at its meeting Tuesday (assuming the meeting isn’t cancelled by the coming snowstorm). It’s not clear whether the meeting will be in public or in secret — it should definitely be in public, but we’ve seen how councillors use the flimsiest of excuses to go behind closed doors.
Inevitably, whenever people point to Cornwallis’s shameful scalp bounty, a handful of imperialist apologists pipe up with “but the Mi’kmaq killed white people too!” It’s a tired and nonsensical argument — I can’t help but wonder what these people would think if some foreign power landed on our shores and claimed the province as its own; wouldn’t they at least try to take up arms against the invaders? Where does this notion that people being invaded don’t have the right to fight back come from?
But let’s explore this a bit. The first attack by Mi’kmaq on the new English settlement was actually across the harbour in what would later be called Dartmouth. It was an attack on a sawmill on the appropriately named Sawmill River, the stream that is now underground, falling from Sullivans Pond to the harbour.
The attack must be understood in the context of the French and English wars for empire, and how the Mi’kmaq were caught up in that. For a number of reasons, the Mi’kmaq allied themselves with the French.
I’ve always assumed that by 1749 the Mi’kmaq had suffered so many indignities at the hands of the English — murder, theft of territory, etc. — that they felt justified in returning it in kind, and the sawmill, outside the military fortifications of the newly established Halifax, but part of the enterprise, was a relatively easy target.
But in her book The Mill (see below), Joan Baxter suggests another reason for the attack: that the affront of the sawmill to the Mi’kmaq was that it facilitated the wholesale destruction of the forest, which was an attack on the environment and the natural order of things. Cornwallis’s fleet had arrived at the end of June 1749, and just three months later there was a functioning sawmill and associated logging across the harbour, presumably supplying the newly building town with timber.
A few years ago, I had an exchange (in the comments, here) with David Jones, the Dartmouth historian, about Mi’kmaq presence in the area. There was a Mi’kmaq settlement just upstream from the sawmill, about at where Bolton Terrace now dead-ends at the stream between Lake Banook and Sullivans Pond, and Jones agreed that this may have been a permanent village site. Another commenter, Terry Deveau, disagreed with that assessment, but added:
The Mi’kmaq attacks on the Dartmouth settlement, on September 30, 1749; March 26, 1751; and May 13, 1751; although not the only factor, there is no doubt that the dam across “Saw Mill River,” at Gilman’s Mill, was significant factor of annoyance to the Mi’kmaq, since this was their “super highway” for canoe travel between the coast and the interior, now blocked and occupied by these foreigners.
Can you imagine what we would do if, say, the Chinese came ashore and built a permanent structure across the 102?
The point is, the Mi’kmaq attack on the sawmill didn’t come out of nowhere. To varying degrees, it was a direct response to the cutting of the forest immediately adjacent to the Mi’kmaq village, the damming of the river, the usurpation of Mi’kmaq territory, and viewed as part of an ongoing conflict that had been raging for decades. Any of those factors alone would justify an armed response. Taken together, they completely explain it.
There’s feigned alarm that removing the Cornwallis statue is “erasing history,” but where’s the alarm at the missing history of the imperialist invasion of Mi’kmaq territory and the indignities that came with it? I don’t see that referenced in any public monuments, in street names, or even in museums.
Moreover, the Cornwallis statue is manufactured history. Erected in 1931 — 169 years after Cornwallis left Halifax — the statue served a political purpose: to warn against radicalism during the Depression by underscoring the value of empire. The argument, stated plainly at the celebrations when the statue was unveiled, was that “we Canadians must stand on guard for Canada and watch and guard jealously against anything which may cause disintegration or social unrest which may come about.” The Halifax Herald explained that “The Indians opposed the ominous big camp of the white men…. The first Halifax was practically a precarious armed camp in an enemy’s country” and the statue represented empire and stability:
Halifax was the first city of British origin in the Dominion, and surely, it is fitting that we should preserve for future generations, by means of an outward and visible symbol, the significance of this proud tradition. Halifax has a long and important history. It might have been a failure; it has taken rank amongst the cities of the world.
That is, had it not been for Cornwallis, Halifax “might have been a failure,” overrun by “Indians,” and similarly, if you don’t now check your revolutionary tendencies, we’ll end up being overrun by those savage Socialists.
It was bad history in 1931, and it’s bad history now.
Take down the damn statue.
3. Examineradio, episode #144
This week we speak with Joan Baxter, author of The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest, about the Northern Pulp Mill, provincial forestry practices, the threat to the Northumberland Strait lobster fishery, and what it’s like having a big corporation shut down your book signing. Also: what’s with the Jamie Baillie resignation?
4. Pedestrian killed
A police release:
At 2:55 a.m. 27 January [early Saturday morning, just after bar closing time], Halifax Regional Police and HRM Fire & Emergency Service responded to a report of a Motor Vehicle collision, with a vehicle into a building at 1079 Queen Street Halifax. Officers located a single vehicle that had damaged the building and a utility pole. HRM Fire & Emergency Service members located a pedestrian adult male (63 years old) pinned under the vehicle. The male was pronounced deceased at the scene. Officers did arrest a 23 year-old male driver near the scene. The driver was transported to Halifax Regional Police Headquarters for a breath test.
Investigators from the General Investigation Section of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division, Accident Investigation Section and Forensic Identification Section are conducting the investigation, which is ongoing.
The driver is identified as Dennis PATTERSON 23 years-old, from New Brunswick, and is charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle while Impaired and Impaired Driving Causing Death. PATTERSON has been remanded and will appear in court on Monday.
The deceased male identity will not be released until notification of next of kin.
The location is at the bottom of the hill on Queen Street, at the UPS Store across from the Sobeys, where the road turns to the right.
We don’t have all the details in this case, but it’s always good to point out that a decision to drive to the bar is a sober decision to drive drunk later. Leave the car and take the bus or a cab.
5. Digby quarry
“Canada will make its case Monday in the Federal Court of Canada to overturn a potentially expensive NAFTA ruling that it wrongly rejected a Digby, N.S., quarry project a decade ago,” reports Paul Withers for the CBC:
Ottawa is asking the court to set aside a 2015 international arbitration tribunal decision in favour of Bilcon, a New Jersey concrete company.
Bilcon successfully argued the rejection of its proposed 152-hectare quarry and marine terminal on Digby Neck in 2008 violated investor protections contained in Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The company is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in compensatory damages.
“The fight for the former Khyber building continues next week at City Hall,” reports Julia-Simone Rutgers for The Coast:
The 1588 Barrington Street Building Preservation Society is urging Halifax Regional Council to push forward with the sale of the former Khyber building, despite a staff recommendation to wait the process out a little longer.
This Tuesday’s Regional Council meeting will consider a motion to hold off on selling the historic Barrington Street property to the 1588 Society — a not-for-profit organization hoping to preserve and restore the building — until HRM receives some assurance that the society’s secured external funding.
According to 1588 Society president Emily Davidson, that puts the organization in a difficult situation: They need to own the building to get government funding, and they need government funding before HRM will sell them the building.
1. Student achievement
In a post criticizing the McNeil’s government embrace of the Glaze report, which suggests closing the school boards, Richard Starr looks at the report’s dubious claim of poor student achievement:
Administration is not the only piece of her report in which the numbers and the narrative don’t quite match. Glaze pulls no punches when it comes to criticizing Nova Scotia’s education system for its student achievement outcomes. She cites data from two sets of tests and declares: “The results in these tests are simply not good enough. Nova Scotian students, parents and communities deserve better.”
The evidence in her report says Glaze is being too harsh. Two sets of tests are cited. The first, the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program, tested Grade 8 students across the country in 2013. The Nova Scotia results were not great — our Grade eights were fifth among the provinces in science, tied for sixth in math and seventh in reading. There was another round of PCAP testing in 2016 but the results have not yet been published so we don’t know whether there has been improvement over 2013.
The more recent test results presented in the report are from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2015 PISA tested 15 year-olds on science, math and reading. Nova Scotian students were fifth in each discipline, and in every case they trailed only the wealthier and/or larger provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Among the smaller or traditional “have-nots,” Nova Scotia students were tops. And except for math — where there was no improvement over 2012’s poor showing — the 2015 results for Nova Scotia 15-year-olds were better than those achieved in 2012.
We should want our education system to be better than mediocre. But exaggerating its failings in order to justify drastic and hasty change risks undermining the primary goal of education, which is the search for truth. And that’s maybe the most troubling irony of this report.
2. Sexual harassment at Province House
A woman named Michelle recounts her three stints at Province House — as a page, a party researcher, and a senior advisor.
Michelle writes of the boorish behaviour and straight-up sexual assaults of women by male MLAs and staffers, which of course no one should have to deal with. For instance:
I sit with a close friend and fellow staff member as she cries with anger and disgust after an MLA grabbed her and rubbed his crotch against her. More than once. And there is no one for her to officially complain to.
Michelle additionally makes a point that can’t be stressed enough: In addition to the sexual assaults and climate of harassment, there’s also an effect on women’s opportunity and their ability to contribute their talents to the collective good:
I do not love many other things. The caucus office often feels like a frat house. Footballs are thrown. Often, they are thrown at me. Inappropriate jokes are told. ‘The Boys’ (any staff who are not female) are invited out for drinks after work. They are buddies with the MLAs. My female co-workers and I are not. We are not even informed these drink-meetings are happening, and only hear about them after the fact. In politics, being left out means you are “out.” Those on the inside have the connections, the information. My female colleagues and I are marginalized, and fight for scraps of information. Frustrated, we watch our male colleagues get plum assignments and more senior positions not because of their ability, but because they had access to the decision-makers and information that we didn’t have.
We’re talking about an entire power dynamic, and sexual assault and harassment are only part of it. And beyond the hurt and destruction of individual women’s lives is the loss to society of the talents and insights of smart and thoughtful people who have been sidelined.
Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — a special meeting called to ask that the cost of six new RCMP officers be included in the upcoming city budget. The total cost of those six officers — including salaries and benefits, “accommodations,” equipment and fuel, and administration — is $877,890 for the first year.
City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — Cornwallis and other issues on tap.
No public meetings.
Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — the committee will look at employment trends since the financial collapse.
Thesis Defence, Earth Sciences (Monday, 10am, Room 3107, The Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jennifer Frail-Gauthier will defend her thesis, “Ecological Interactions and Geological Implications of Foraminifera and Associated Meiofauna in Temperate Salt Marshes of Eastern Canada.”
Woodwinds Recital (Monday, 11:45pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Patricia Creighton, Christine Feierabend, Brian James, Suzanne Lemieux, and Eileen Walsh will perform.
Introduction to Integer Valued Polynomials (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 227, Chase Building) — Marie-Andree B. Langlois will speak. Her abstract:
We will start by introducing integer valued polynomials for a subset of the integers and introduce the greater problem of finding bases for the Z-module they generate. Then we will look at some work by Manjul Bhargava, and define p-orderings and p-sequences, to get a generalizedfactorial on a subset of Z. Finally we will look at examples of the multi-variable and homogeneous case. This talk will be self-contained and some background in advance linear algebra, abstract algebra, or number theory are sufficient background to understand the presentation.
Megan Leavey (Monday, 6pm, Lindsay Room, Halifax Central Library) — film screening followed by panel discussion facilitated by experts in animal ethics, psychology, biology, and behavioural sciences. Part two of a three-part film series about “Pushing Boundaries: What We Owe Other Animals.”
Flat Category-Valued Pseudo-Functors (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Michael Lambert will speak. His abstract:
This talk will be a continuation of my talk from the end of last term. I will recall the notion of a flat set-valued functor on a small category. I will then show how a straightforward generalization of this definition for category-valued pseudo-functors recovers many of the expected properties of ordinary flatness.
Raising Young Patriots — Soviet Children’s Literature and the Great Patriotic War! (Tuesday, 2:30pm, in the auditorium named after a bank in the building named after a grocery store) — Megan Swift from the University of Victoria will speak.
Health Advocacy, Inc. (Tuesday, 6pm, Halifax Central Public Library) — Sharon Batt launches her book which examines how pharmaceutical industry funding has come to shape the activities of breast cancer patients’ advocacy groups.
Christopher Strong (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — a screening of Dorothy Arzner’s 1934 film.
In the harbour
Midnight: Iolaos, bulker, arrives at Sheet Harbour from Körfez, Turkey
2:30am: ZIM Djibouti, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
3am: YM Enlightenment, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
6am: Asian Sun, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
7am: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
11am: Horizon Star, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from sea
11am: American Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
That Black Mirror episode “Metalhead” was the scariest dogdamned thing I’ve ever seen on a screen.