1. COVID report: Phase 3 engage
At a news briefing Tuesday, Premier Iain Rankin announced phase 3 of the province’s reopening plan begins today.
The biggest news that comes with that announcement: after a mess of protests, a blockade, and bickering between premiers, restrictions for travel at the New Brunswick border have now lifted and the Atlantic Bubble is fully open again — almost exactly a year after it first opened last summer. (Get a full account of the brief but turbulent week-long New Brunswick border saga in Stephen Kimber’s column from this past weekend).
On top of that, much like New Brunswick’s borders, our borders are also loosening to allow visitors from the rest of Canada to enter Nova Scotia. There will be restrictions for travellers entering the province from outside Atlantic Canada. These restrictions, according to a government news release, will be based on the vaccination status of travellers:
- two doses of vaccine at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia — people will not have to self-isolate; testing when they arrive is recommended
- one dose at least 14 days before arrival/those who had a second dose less than 14 days before arrival — people must self-isolate for at least seven days and cannot leave isolation until they get two negative tests results while in Nova Scotia; tests should be on day one or two and on day five or six after arrival
- no vaccine dose/those who had a first dose within 14 days of arrival — must isolate for 14 days; testing at the beginning and end of their isolation continues to be recommended
Here are a few highlights of some of the other changes in restrictions in the province as we enter phase 3:
- Gathering limits are now 10 people indoors, plus your household, without masks or distancing. It’s still 25 outside though.
- Bars can stay open an hour later (until 1 am) and retail stores can operate at 75% capacity.
- Visitors are allowed to see fully vaccinated long-term care residents indoors.
- Workplaces (like offices) can start to follow a phased approach to have employees return to the workplace. Masks are required in indoor workplace common areas, or in spaces where distancing isn’t possible.
Plus, baseball’s back!
As for the numbers:
There was only one new COVID case announced in the province Tuesday bringing the total known caseload in Nova Scotia to 51. Two people are in hospital with the virus. Neither is in intensive care. Yesterday’s case is connected to Glace Bay Elementary in the Eastern Zone. The school will be closed today as a result, ending the school year a day earlier than expected for Glace Bay Elementary students.
Head to Tim Bousquet’s full COVID news roundup from Tuesday for more details on the numbers, as well as news on testing (stats and locations), case demographics, and potential exposure sites.
The Examiner also has ongoing updates on potential virus exposures on flights and Halifax Transit, as well as answers to the COVID-19 questions Tim Bousquet most frequently gets asked.
2. Coalition recommends relief for parents: universal publicly funded, not-for profit early learning and child care
I have no idea what it’s been like to be a parent through the pandemic. I worked at a daycare for a few months when I was in school though, so … I still have no idea what it’s been like to be a parent during all this … or any time, for that matter. But from everything I’ve heard this past year, it’s been incredibly exhausting. And the lockdowns haven’t helped.
But relief could be on the way.
The federal government recently invested $27.2 billion over the next five years to “create a national, community-based quality child-care system in partnership with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners.” Now, in response to a request from the provincial government, a local coalition has made recommendations for what a universal, publicly funded, not-for-profit child care system should look like in Nova Scotia.
On Monday, Child Care Now NS announced it had presented its specific recommendations and considerations for how that early learning and child care system should be rolled out in Nova Scotia.
“Our main message is that Early Learning and Child Care in Nova Scotia needs a complete overhaul in the way it is funded, delivered, and managed,” Child Care Now NS steering committee member Christine Saulnier said in a June 28 media release.
“We made recommendations to government that outlined how the system should be rolled out to ensure that access to current and new child care spaces are universally accessible and affordable while at the same time raising the quality of programs and making them more inclusive and culturally-safe.”
3. What’s in a name?
There’s been a lot in the news lately asking what’s to be done about our colonial past. Like many other places around the country, Halifax won’t hold Canada Day festivities this year — admittedly, here cancellations are mostly due to public health guidelines — and Haligonians are encouraged to use the holiday as a time for sombre reflection. (More on this in Views).
Coun. Pam Lovelace brought the motion forward at a council meeting Tuesday, asking for a staff report “regarding the end of use and removal of the word Indian from all municipal street and place names, and recommendations on potential new names, including possible use of Mi’kmaq place names.” Lovelace asked that city staff consult Mi’kmaq communities to help in renaming these places. She suggested current names could be replaced with names from the Mi’kmaq language.
In her reasoning for the request, Lovelace had this to say:
The term “Indian” refers to the specific legal identity of a First Nations person who is registered under the Indian Act, as defined by federal law since 1876. As such, the term “Indian” is used when referring to a person with registered status. The Indian Act is a contentious issue with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit across Canada due to its oppressive control over their lives, disenfranchisement, confiscation of self-governance, Indian Residential Schools, seizure of land, and more. In Canada, this colonial term has been used to identify a child or adult and their forced registration or absence of status recognition within this systemically racist and sexist legal framework.
Congrats, “Indian Harbour.” You may be outdated, but you still made it into the third millennium. It’s a better run than you deserved.
4. Testimony complete in Police Review Board hearing for officers involved in Corey Rogers case
This piece written by Zane Woodford
Testimony is complete at the Police Review Board hearing for the three officers who arrested Corey Rogers and brought him to cells at Halifax Regional Police headquarters the night he died.
Rogers was picked up for public intoxication outside the IWK following the birth of his child, and the HRP officers placed a spit hood over his head and left it on when they dragged him into a cell. He vomited into the spit hood shortly after and asphyxiated.
The officers told the board they didn’t think the spit hood should be removed because it would defeat the purpose. The board heard from every witness that they’d never been trained on their use, and the officers said they’d never read the instructions clearly printed on the package.
Testimony wrapped up on Tuesday with the use of force expert, and according to Police Review Board investigations and outreach manager Jeff Garber, the lawyers will file written closing submissions to the board by Aug. 13.
Garber said the board has also set aside a day for oral closing arguments — Sept. 8.
Lawyers for Rogers’ mother, Jeannette Rogers, will argue the three officers breached three sections of the code of conduct in the provincial Police Act Regulations: “neglecting or lacking concern for the health or safety of a person in the member’s custody;” “using unnecessary force on or cruelly treating any prisoner or other person with whom the member may be brought into contact in the course of duty;” and “acting in a disorderly manner or in a manner that is reasonably likely to bring discredit on the reputation of the police department.”
5. From behind the paywall: The dubious search for government funding of natural gas in N.S.
At the end of May, Joan Baxter wrote about secret talks Pieridae Energy had with provincial and federal government officials about spending almost a billion dollars in public money to finance the company’s proposed Goldboro Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project. The Examiner had to use public record laws to find out what happened in these meetings. And even then the documents were heavily redacted.
That article is now out from behind the paywall for all Nova Scotians to read. It’s worth taking a peek behind the curtain to see just what’s going on in the shadows as this questionable “transition fuel” gets promoted in this province. It’s also worth asking, why is everything surrounding the project’s development being done so clandestinely?
Today, coincidentally (or maybe not; ask Tim Bousquet) is a big deadline for the project’s funding. As Baxter writes in the article:
Pieridae has an agreement with the formerly German and now Finnish company Uniper for the purchase of half the LNG from the proposed facility, although that has been extended several times. The most recent amendment expires in a month, on June 30, 2021, when the final investment decision is due.
Will there be another extension? Will they ask our governments for money instead?
6. Part 2: Child protection: Catch-22 all over again. Again and again…
On Tuesday, Stephen Kimber brought us part one of his report on changes to Nova Scotia’s child protection act, detailing how those changes affected the case of “J.C.” and her fight to keep her seven-month-old son. In that first part, we heard from a report from veteran social workers who found that things were “getting worse for families, not better,” since those changes were announced in 2015.
Today, Kimber brings us part two of this story, which looks further at whether the 2015 changes to the child protection act missed the point:
Legal aid lawyers, social workers, and others involved on the front lines made a…compelling case that the real problem wasn’t so much with the original legislation as with serious, ongoing underfunding of the child welfare system. In the end, they predicted the legislative changes would actually “result in more children being removed from their homes and placed in temporary foster care because of a lack of government financial support.”
In case you missed it, you can read part 1 of this story here.
7. Mayor to write letter asking Nova Scotia to halt plans for highway through Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes
“Dear provincial government, please don’t build a highway through our future wilderness park,” begins Zane Woodford’s second report (though not his last) included in today’s Morning File:
That’s to be the general message in a letter from Mayor Mike Savage, on behalf of Halifax regional council, to the provincial government regarding the planned Highway 113.
The four-lane, 9.9-kilometres highway, contemplated since the 1990s, would connect the 102 near the exit to Hammonds Plains with the 103 near the exit to Sheldrake Lake.
The planned highway is the reason the provincially-designated Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area has a highway-shaped strip of unprotected land through the middle of it.
8. What about the Northwood residents who survived COVID?
It’s been over a year since the tragedy at Northwood nursing home led to the death of 53 residents at the beginning of the pandemic. But the story still raises questions. Jennifer Henderson reports:
The Northwood campus was home to 485 residents, the majority of whom shared bedrooms and bathrooms in a building more than 50 years old. Much of the focus has rightfully been on determining how the virus spread and preventing further suffering and social isolation all residents have had to endure.
Now a new study published by researchers at Dalhousie University is asking a question no one thought to ask before: How did so many frail elderly people infected with the virus (at one point in May over 200 residents had tested positive) manage to survive?
9. Woodford Report: Council moves ahead with sobering centre, considers showers for homeless people, polygraph testing, and more
Among the highlights:
- Council approved a motion to examine potential changes to create a safer alternative to the “drunk tank.” Instead, they’ll consider establishing “sobering centres.” The Examiner reported on these centres over the weekend:
Sobering centres are safe places for people to sleep off the effect of drugs or alcohol. They’re sometimes located with detox centres or emergency shelters, and typically have healthcare workers on staff. The staff triage people to the hospital if they need medical attention, or to cells if they become violent.
- Council also unanimously approved a motion to look at the possibility of a pilot project that would offer shower facilities for homeless people.
- Volunteer search and rescue crews could become a city department, coming under the umbrella of the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency umbrella.
- Council agreed on Tuesday to move ahead with a new proposal for water quality monitoring in 74 of the municipality’s lakes. The Examiner previously reported on recommendations for this here.
- The municipality will outline its use of polygraph testing in a staff report following a unanimously passed motion. The Examiner reported on the municipality’s use of polygraph testing, a controversial practice, earlier this month.
- A motion to increase signage on boating safety and etiquette at all HRM owned and maintained public boat launches passed unanimously.
For more information on the reasoning behind these decisions, and what they mean for you and your community, read Woodford’s full report here.
10. Child’s play
Put your smartphone away — after finishing the Morning File, of course — because this summer we’re gonna play like it’s 1989!
Yvette d’Entremont writes about research that encourages kids to get back to the unstructured play of the pre-internet/helicopter parent days of the 80s this summer. According to research from Dalhousie, 95% of Canadian children still aren’t spending enough time on activities that bring a myriad of mental and physical health benefits. This second summer in the pandemic, as things open up, could be an opportunity to change that.
Read the full article to find out what the health benefits are in telling your kids to just “go outside and don’t come back ’til dinner.”
And if you’re kids are looking for ideas for fun summer activities, d’Entremont has some suggestions from her own 80s adolescence:
“Playing outside until the street lights came on. Sprinklers, merry-go-rounds, and endless neighbourhood bike rides. No computer or internet. Family board game nights, making sandcastles in the park, picnics, and a seemingly endless supply of Popsicles and Kool-Aid.”
Sounds glorious. Like Stranger Things without the government conspiracies and supernatural monsters. I might grab a Popsicle right now.
To celebrate, or not to celebrate?
Tomorrow is Canada Day. But, if you’ve read the news at all over the past two weeks, you’ll know that many people won’t be celebrating it this year. It doesn’t feel so jarring, considering everything’s been cancelled over the past year and a half, but it still merits discussion. Where does Canada Day go from here? Should it be cancelled?
It certainly doesn’t seem right to set off a bunch of fireworks to celebrate the founding of a government that committed a cultural genocide against the Indigenous people of this land, mere weeks after multiple mass graves were discovered near former residential schools. No matter where you stand on some silly holiday, no one can deny the feelings of shame, guilt, and grief that came with seeing the images of a lost generation of children, removed from their families and cultures, buried nameless, miles from home.
There’s been some controversy over the idea of “cancelling” Canada Day. The federal Conservative party stupidly, but unsurprisingly, tried to make a political issue out of it. And you’ll find plenty of social media posts saying it’s time to move on, or that the recent news of these residential school graves is awful, but it doesn’t mean we have to cancel a national holiday.
But I think most people — at the very least — recognize that this Canada Day, whether you celebrate it or not, will have a sombre tone. How could it not? It seems trivial, even disrespectful, to throw on a Jays game and flip burgers by the lake right now.
So what are the arguments for not celebrating the holiday?
Killa Atencio, an artist and entrepreneur originally from Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, wrote an article in the Coast yesterday about why she refuses to celebrate Canada Day. She’d first written a similar article six years ago; here she follows up with a detailed explanation of her reasoning, including a list of the injustices that have occurred against Indigenous people in Canada since that first piece was published in 2015:
Barbara Kentner. Colten Boushie. Tina Fontaine. Joyce Echaquan. Rodney Levi. Chantel Moore. These are the names of only a fraction of the Indigenous people who Canada and its systems have let down since 2015, when my first article about July 1 came out in The Coast. The magnitude of each of their names should weigh heavily on the conscience of everyone in this country because of the abhorrent injustice they exemplify. They serve as a stark reminder of why I continue to choose not to celebrate Canada Day.
Hard to argue with that.
And I really do think the reasons for cancelling Canada Day this year are valid. Personally, I don’t intend to do anything to celebrate.
But I have two concerns:
First, I don’t think Canada Day should be cancelled permanently.
At this point, Canada Day shouldn’t celebrate Confederation, or our colonial past. But it is worth having a day to celebrate the good we’ve done and the potential we have, all while being realistic and truthful about the darker parts of our history.
But we should have a day to celebrate ourselves, or at least the better parts of our nature, without forgetting the worse. Just as it’s important to be honest about one’s own failings, it’s equally important not to be forever weighed down by the sins of the past, never allowing oneself to escape a cycle of self-loathing. And to take pride — not the excessive jingoism you see south of the border, mind you — in the place you live.
Creating a new national holiday in September that focuses on truth and reconciliation, as well as reflection on the horrible things we’ve done as a country is a better option than ending Canada Day forever.
My second concern is much larger.
Cancelling Canada Day is easy. It’s a culture war, not an act of reconciliation.
What we should be cancelling are high suicide rates in remote Inuit communities. We should cancel a lack of clean drinking water for all First Nations communities. Canada’s Public Accounts committee wants the federal government to deliver a plan to achieve this by spring of next year. In 2015 the feds promised they’d end all long-term drinking water advisories by this past March. (Honestly, how can we call ourselves a first world country?)
We need to heed the 94 calls to action outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Report from 2015.
That’s the hard work. That’s what pushes us to be a better country, to at least attempt to bring a little justice and balance to a part of our population that’s lost so much at the hands of our government over the centuries.
Cancelling Canada Day this year is the easiest, laziest solution there is. Arguably, it might be a step in the right direction, but, by itself, it’s equivalent to protesting something by writing a post on social media, then doing nothing else. It eases guilt and soothes the ego, while helping no one besides ourselves.
I’ll give the last word to Killa Atencio, who echoes this sentiment at the end of her article:
Every single day that I wake up honours all that I’ve overcome and is a reminder of the resilience against the historical efforts that have been taken to eradicate and assimilate my people.
I am grateful for my life here, to be able to say this freely and to feel this pain, but like a good friend once told me: “just because you can take it, doesn’t mean you deserve to.” So, we can cancel Canada day, but more importantly, we need to challenge Canada and the policies and systems in place that continue to make us repeat history, delaying the changes needed to make this country a safer, more just and better home for everyone in it.
The Montreal Canadiens are in the Stanley Cup Finals
By the time I write my next Morning File, the hockey season could very well be over, so just bear with me one last time, non-sports fans. I mean, at this point I don’t know if the Habs will ever be in the finals again, so I’m taking the chance to write about this while I can. It will be brief…
The Montreal Canadiens are in the Stanley Cup Finals.
I repeat: THE MONTREAL CANADIENS ARE IN THE STANLEY CUP FINALS.
There was a time that was barely news. When my Mom was growing up in Montreal I’m pretty sure it was just another sign that spring had arrived. But that was then. In 2021, the Habs getting this far is a big enough story that I’ll write about it in a Halifax publication even though they’re a team from a different province, never mind city.
Let me explain:
There are now multiple generations of people in this country — I’m among them — who have never seen a Canadian team lift the Stanley Cup. It’s an absolute crime.
In 1892, when Lord Stanley, who was governor general at the time, decided to buy and donate the trophy that would become hockey’s biggest prize, he wrote in a letter that he’d “for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion [of Canada].”
How is it then that half the teams I’ve seen win the Stanley Cup have hailed from places where there’s not even ice in the winter? I just want to see the Cup awarded as Lord Stanley — and nature, really — intended. We haven’t had a cup North of the border in 28 years. We don’t even have a governor general anymore. Lord Stanley’s rolling in his grave twice as fast as he usually does this time of year. He’s probably dug himself halfway to China by now.
Thankfully, my Canadiens have a chance to help make things right. (I don’t think they can do anything about the governor general situation, though).
My Dad bought me a Canadiens sweater during the Salt Lake City Olympics, when I first started watching the game. That year, José Theodore was league MVP, making what’s still one of the best saves I’ve ever seen to help the Canadiens defeat the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. I got my first taste of Montreal knocking Boston out of the playoffs and I’ve cheered on the Habs — and wept for them — ever since. I have a lot of good memories from my time as a Habs fan, don’t get me wrong: going to exhibition games at the Metro Centre (as that big cement bank ad was called at the time) when they came to town, sleeping over at my friend’s next door so I could stay up and watch the third period on a Saturday night, flying to Montreal with my dad on my 16th birthday to see them roll over the Rangers at the Bell Centre…
And that’s all been well and good, but can’t I just see them win it all once? They’ve won the damn thing 24 times. How is it I’ve never seen them lift the cup?
It hasn’t been easy being a Habs fan in the 21st century. But you can jump on the bandwagon right now, reveling in all the glory of a potential Canadiens Cup run without any of the pain or frustration of the past three decades! What a deal! Look: CBC even put together a handy guide of everything you need to know to help support Canada’s team through this final series.
I’ve put together my own guide too. Now that offices are reopening around Nova Scotia, I’ve compiled five generic phrases to use around the water cooler. Even if you don’t understand what an offside is, you can seem like you’re in the know if you just spout one of these lines off now and then:
- “What is going on with those refs this year, am I right? I mean, it’s getting ridiculous out there.”
- “Where was this team in the regular season?”
- “How ’bout that kid Caufield, eh? He’s the real deal.”
- “I knew Marc Bergevin wasn’t an idiot who needed to be fired. He knew what he was doing the whole time. Plus, his red suit looks amazing.”
- “Carey Price is God, only calmer and less vindictive.”
With these five phrases, you can fool your friends and seem like a real hockey fan for a week. Use them to help support the last team with a chance to bring the Stanley Cup home this year. They’re down 1-0 against a terrifyingly talented Tampa team, so they can use all the help they can get.
You can catch game 2 tonight, or, if you’ve read this far and decided you still hate hockey (or you’re just a sour Leafs fan) check out the Coast’s events guide for Halifax this summer to see what other non-sports-related entertainment’s coming up. The Jazz Fest starts this weekend! There’s also a bluegrass festival in PEI. Why not take advantage of the newly reopened Atlantic Bubble and get some more banjo in your life?
Safe space for white questions (Wednesday, 12:30pm) — a series of free, public, monthly drop-in sessions
Building an Inclusive Oceans Ecosystem in Atlantic Canada (Wednesday, 1pm) — billed as “a virtual discussion on diversity & inclusion in the Atlantic Canadian Oceans ecosystem!” Featuring speakers from DOTCAN, the Ocean Frontier Institute and Ulnooweg Fisheries. Info and registration here.
RISE Again Retail (Wednesday, 9am) — registration begins for this webinar series for small retail businesses in Atlantic Canada
In the harbour
06:30: CSL Metis, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Sydney
10:45: Hyundai Faith, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
17:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at Bedford Basin anchorage from New York
- I went out for a bike ride yesterday evening and stopped in a local park where about two dozen people were watching a play. I stood there, about 30 yards away, trying to figure out what it was. It was difficult to hear from a distance, but it sounded like they were performing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” There were two women fighting and I think I made out something along the lines of:
“How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes”
So I assume it was the scene where Hermia and Helena tussle after the love potion enters the mix. It was a fun little game to play. And a lovely evening for a show. I’ll have to pay for the whole thing next time.
- My alarm failed me this morning. Great day to have five articles published before 9 am for me to recap…