November Subscription Drive
1. Tyler Keizer
Police have identified the man killed Monday night on Gottingen Street as 22-year-old Tyler Ronald Joseph Keizer of Halifax.
2. Nihilistic loners’ plot for mass murder
“A young Halifax man has been handed a 10-year prison sentence for his role in a 2015 plot to open fire on shoppers at a local mall,” reports Steve Bruce for Local Xpress:
Randall Steven Thomas Shepherd, 22, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
Justice Patrick Duncan accepted a joint recommendation from lawyers and gave Shepherd 974 days’ credit for his time on remand, for a net sentence of seven years and 121 days.
Local Xpress published the Agreed Statement of Facts in the case, which reveals how a group of three nihilistic loners — Haligonians Shepherd and James Gamble, and Illinois resident Lindsay Kanittha Souvannarath — hooked up with each other to concoct the plot to go on a killing spree at the Halifax Shopping Centre. It’s a disturbing read, but gives insight into a sociological death spiral.
It’s something of a miracle that no one besides Gamble was killed. (Gamble committed suicide, as police came to his house.) Credit the trio’s ineptitude (they had to watch YouTube videos to learn how to shoot guns) and some anonymous person, probably a member of an online message board frequented by other death cultists, who phoned in a tip to Crime Stoppers.
I don’t know how we should deal with someone like Shepherd. Reports Bruce:
Shepherd is now on medication for depression and suicidal thoughts.
“I have no defence,” Shepherd said when given the opportunity to address the court. “I’m a different person. I know you hear that quite a lot, but …
“I have no right to ask for anyone’s forgiveness in this regard, but I’m going to anyway,” he said, turning to look at someone in the gallery.
“I am deeply sorry that this has happened. I honestly wish that James were here so that he could speak for himself, but obviously that’s not the case.”
Obviously someone who was willing to be involved in mass murder needs to be removed from society, but what happens over the next seven years so that when Shepherd is released he’s not a continued threat?
3. Wheeler suspended
Without mentioning president David Wheeler’s name, Cape Breton University’s Board of Governors yesterday issued a press release saying that Wheeler had been suspended:
Last evening, the Cape Breton University Board of Governors appointed Vice President Academic & Provost, Dale Keefe, as Acting President. The appointment comes as the Board voted to conduct an independent investigation regarding governance issues involving the President. The President has been placed on leave of absence with pay pending the outcome of the investigation which is expected to be delivered within the next month.
A statement from Wheeler’s lawyer, Ray Larkin, said the investigation is related to recent labour negotiations at the university.
Earlier this year the faculty association filed for conciliation in hopes of reaching a deal with the university. That move followed a resounding strike vote in the face of concerns about layoffs. The association has since ratified a tentative agreement, which is expected to go to the board on Dec.9.
Larkin said the investigation would show Wheeler “was acting in a way that was consistent with his oath of office, board of governors policies and bylaws and the agreed direction of the university.”
Wheeler “is aware that there are strongly divergent views about the wisdom of closer relations between the administration and the faculty, as represented by the Cape Breton University Faculty Association, but he holds firm to his belief that without those closer relations and the resulting higher levels of trust, the future of the university will be bleak indeed,” according to the statement.
“He believes that faculty at CBU deserve to enjoy similar levels of job security as at comparable institutions in order for them to deliver the best results for CBU students and the Cape Breton Island community. Thus he stands by his actions and will continue to advocate ratification of the tentative collective agreement if he is permitted to remain in office.”
So as Larkin paints it, Wheeler’s sin is that he was too cooperative with the union.
“Nothing really moved forward on Tuesday after regional council’s debate about Halifax Transit’s redesign plan,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:
Council voted Tuesday evening to wait until its next meeting to decide whether to wait until next year to make its next decision on the Moving Forward Together plan.
I unexpectedly got called away from the meeting before the transit issue came up.
Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler had also held off writing her weekly piece yesterday in order to see what council would do with Moving Forward Together, and since council punted, no transportation column either. I think she’ll have a column on some other transportation issue today.
1. Reporters as political hacks
Bill Tieleman, writing in The Tyee in British Columbia, points out that “an awful lot of good journalists have become Liberal candidates or staff for Premier Christy Clark — and there’s lots to be anxious about”:
And at a time when journalism is at a very low ebb, that should trouble voters.
[H]aving journalists who reported the news for years and then become partisan politicians can be disturbing.
They have every right to get into politics, but there is a worrying element as they go from the balanced reporting that built their credibility to reciting party spin lines that strain belief.
And of course, being former reporters who were seen as even-handed and fair helps them sell dubious political positions in their new role as candidates.
Tieleman specifically mentions former Global TV news anchor Steve Darling and ex-reporter Jas Johal, both of whom are running as Liberal candidates in the next provincial election. But Tieleman continues with a long list of former reporters who now have communications jobs with the Liberal government:
Stephen Smart — an ex-CBC, CTV and CKNW journalist whose jobs included a stint as CBC’s legislative bureau chief — was hired as Clark’s press secretary earlier this year.
Ben Chin, Clark’s communications director, is also an ex-CBC, CTV and City TV journalist.
Former CKNW Radio legislative bureau chief Sean Leslie recently jumped over to a senior communications job at the Ministry of Social Development. Former BC CTV news anchor Pamela Martin went first to Clark’s office as director of engagement and then to the same role in the BC Liberal Party.
Ex-CKNW Bill Good Show producer Rebecca Scott — married to Stephen Smart — went to the premier’s office as deputy press secretary, then to another government communications position in the tourism ministry before taking a job with a government relations and lobbying company.
As The Tyee detailed in 2012, there are more than 200 communications staff in the government’s Communication and Public Engagement office — and many of them are ex-journalists who saw there was more money to be made there than in shrinking, cost-cutting journalism.
From ex-Canadian Press reporter Scott Sutherland to CKNW’s Graham Currie to Jeff Rudd, formerly with the Times-Colonist, to Brennan Clarke of Black Press — a lot of reporters have gone to work for government.
The trend is strong and growing as newspapers, radio and TV media jobs disappear. When the BC NDP was in power other journalists moved into government as well, though not in as large numbers.
And of course Clark herself was a CKNW talk show host for several years before returning to politics.
None of this breaks any laws, rules or journalistic ethics. But at a time when the media is under fire, the public should be concerned that today’s balanced reporter chasing down the news could become tomorrow’s MLA or spin doctor doing all they can to twist it.
The same thing is happening in Nova Scotia. As Stephen Kimber wrote last summer:
What is perhaps more interesting these days is the number of ex-journalists who keep popping up in the premier’s office, and not just in the usual media-minder role.
Consider Marilla Stephenson, the long time Halifax Herald columnist who neatly timed her buyout-package two years ago with an 18-month contract to advise Premier Stephen McNeil’s One Nova Scotia Coalition on the Ivany report.
Last week, Stephenson won a competition for a newly invented civil service “leadership role”: managing director of corporate and external relations in the Executive Council Office. She’ll liaise with key players in various departments, including Laura Lee Langley, the former MITV anchor, now deputy minister in the Office of the Premier.
During the past four months, McNeil’s office has beefed up its media-in-non-media-roles with more reporting refugees: Laurie Graham, ex-CTV/CBC as principal secretary, and Jackie Foster, ex-CTV as policy and outreach advisor.
And that doesn’t count ex-Herald provincial reporter David Jackson, now playing the more traditional premier’s press-secretary role.
There are two problems with journalists becoming politicians or political hacks. The first is that it calls into question all their past work. Consider, for example, James Cudmore, the former CBC reporter who covered defence and who took a job as an advisor to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan just weeks after penning glowing profiles of Sajjan. Any reporter thinking about jumping ship could make the transition much easier by cozying up to the prospective employer first.
The second and bigger problem is that we’re getting government by spin. Politicians have always tried to put their best faces forward and manipulate the public discourse, but the recent influx of reporters into government PR jobs takes it to a new level.
You, reader, are being lied to, directly and by omission, every day and without apology, by reporters who were trained and have the skills to do just the opposite — to tell you what the politicians don’t want you to know.
2. Cranky letter of the day
“Sorry for your inconvenience. Is there anything else I can do? Have a nice day.”
Those were the comments made by our insurance desk adjustor in Calgary.
The comments would be fine if our home was not possibly slated for demolition following the Thanksgiving Day flood in CBRM and our insurer actually aided us.
Many who lost homes as a result of the flood were denied adequate insurance compensation because their insurer linked their home loss to overland flood damage – something insurance companies are unwilling to compensate.
Cause of the loss was a more salient point than the loss itself. When we purchase home insurance, however, I don’t think we are cognizant of “the how” of potential loss.
It makes no difference to us if the loss is caused by sewer back up, fire, oil leakage or overland flood.
Receiving compensation on a sewer back up endorsement of $10,000, $15,000 or $50,000 is a drop in the bucket when you lose your home, many or all of its content and experience long displacement.
The loss is what matters, not how it occurred. Fire would have preferable to rain on Oct. 10 but should it be that way? Whose interests are served in this type of model that links compensation to cause rather than effect?
It may be time to now to scrutinize how private insurance companies operate. Our insurer did tell us to apply for disaster relief through the government. That was something they did for us. When our home insurance policy is up for renewal maybe we should consider a government plan.
Tom McNeil, Sydney
Community Design Advisory Committee (11:30am, City Hall) — let’s all talk about how great the Centre Plan is! I can’t wait to see the new Borg on my block.
Heritage Advisory Committee (3pm, City Hall) — the city hires heritage planners and has an entire committee devoted to heritage so the South Barrington Heritage District and the old houses on Young Avenue and other such heritage properties will be protected forever to preserve the unique and defining character of old Halifax and….hahahahaHAHA-ha, who are we kidding? Sigh.
No public meetings.
Concussions (8:30am, Theatre D, Tupper Building) — Nick Mercer, host of the Concussion Talk Podcast, will talk about “Body and Mind: How PTs Helped a Brain Injured Patient Find the Connection.”
Socially Responsible Investing (1:30pm, MA310) — Master’s student Mohammad Mallahi will answer the question, “Does a Socially Responsible Portfolio Outperform a Conventional Portfolio (The Case of Jantzi Social Index).”
The Hermit of Africville (3:30pm, Cameron Dining Hall, Howe Hall) — Jon Tattrie will discuss his book about Eddie Carvery with Senator-Designate Wanda Thomas Bernard and Sunday Miller, the executive director of the Africville Museum. I’d be there were I not elsewhere.
Those Who Feel the Fire Burning (6:30pm, The Bus Stop Theatre) — Lawyers Without Borders is showing this documentary about refugees stuck at the edge of Europe. Constance MacIntosh, an expert in Immigration and Refugee Law at Dalhousie, will lead a discussion and Q&A following the screening. Two bucks at the door, but free popcorn.
Much Ado About Nothing (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Joss Whedon’s 2012 film.
In the harbour
6am: ZIM Ontario, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
8:30am: Titania, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
11am: Yantian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
Noon: Ridgebury John B, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Paldiski, Estonia
3pm: NYK Delphinus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
6:15pm: Atlantic Conveyor, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
3:30am: ZIM Ontario, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
5pm: HMCS Iroquois, sailing (towed?) from Dockyard to Liverpool, Nova Scotia for scrap, I believe
It all feels very rushed this morning. There’s too much news for me to write about it all sensibly.
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.