Welcome to Weekend File, where you’ll find links to all the articles we published this week.
Sunday, July 3
The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society has a new president, Melanie Petrunia, who hired a Toronto law firm to investigate more allegations from within of ‘direct and systemic discrimination and harassment.’ Former provincial ombudsman Doug Ruck is wrapping up his internal review into allegations of systemic discrimination and his report is expected in a few months. Stephen Kimber wrote he hopes one of those reports can help the society find a map out of the mess it’s in. “If not, it may finally be time — past time — for the society to stop being the self-regulating body for Nova Scotia’s legal profession,” he wrote.
Monday, July 4
Joan Baxter had the latest on the proposed development at Port Wallace after she saw a cryptic notice appear on the bottom left corner of page A7 in last Saturday’s Chronicle Herald. The ad said Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr had approved amendments to enable early tree removal at the Port Wallace Special Planning Area. “Curious about how this decision had been reached, and what it entailed, I went to the recommended web page,” Baxter wrote. “It offered no additional information at all on the by-law amendment order for Port Wallace, stating only that ‘text is being prepared.'” This story detailed what she learned.
2. Morning File: Lisa Banfield is the target of innuendo, misinformation, and lies, much of it couched in misogyny
The Mass Casualty Commission recently announced Lisa Banfield will be testifying for one day on July 15. During her testimony, Banfield will be allowed two “support people,” and she will not be cross-examined by lawyers representing the families of other victims. “I’ll say this right upfront: This is a bad decision,” wrote Tim Bousquet. “It’s bad for the victims’ families. It’s bad for public understanding of what happened before and during the murders. It’s bad for faith in the inquiry’s work. And it’s bad for Lisa Banfield.”
Tuesday, July 5
Matthew Byard spoke with Alfred Burgesson, CEO of Tribe Network, which is working to help Black, Indigenous, and racialized entrepreneurs. Tribe Network hosted a series of networking sessions across Atlantic Canada this spring where they gathered feedback on one of their programs, the Black Start-Up Project, which offers mentorship and funding for Black entrepreneurs. Byard found out more about Tribe Network and its goals.
2. Morning File: The science behind why people don’t return their shopping carts
Last weekend Suzanne Rent watched a woman leave her shopping cart in front of the doors at a local grocery store, blocking access to other shoppers. That inspired a tweet in which Rent wanted to know why some shoppers don’t return their carts to the corral. After a bit of research, she found out there are categories of cart users, including Returners, Never-Returners, Convenience Returners, Pressure Returners, and Child-Driven Returners. (Rent is a Returner, by the way).
Wednesday, July 6
1. Depending on how the Utility and Review Board rules, power rates could increase significantly more than 3.2% annually
There are several questions that loom around Nova Scotia Power’s proposal to hike residential bills by an average of 3.2% a year between 2022-2024. Those questions were put forward to the Utility and Review Board (UARB) by experts hired by representatives for many groups, including consumers, large companies, the provincial government, and a group of municipal electric utilities. In this article, Jennifer Henderson put together a few good questions from some of those experts hired by intervenors or interested parties.
Ethan Lycan-Lang wrote about the dream of many baseball fans: catching a ball during a game. We’ve seen the videos in which an adult who catches the ball passes it on to a kid who’s tearful and forever grateful. It makes for great viral videos! But after reading a column by entertainment writer Murtz Jaffer, who asked if adults must always hand over the baseball to a kid, Lycan-Lang wondered the same thing. “If you want to be generous, be generous. If the ball means that much to you, why should a child’s inconsequential dreams trump your own?”
Yvette d’Entremont looked at new data compiled by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) that shows what a “tsunami” Omicron has been across Canada. In a press release this week, the CITF found that “17 “million Canadians had an Omicron infection in the period December to May, for an average of more than 100,000 infections per day.” That same data showed that Atlantic Canada has the largest relative increase in case numbers, and that young, less-vaccinated Canadians were most affected by the variant.
4. As NS lifts restrictions, head of Center for Vaccinology says people can still protect themselves, others
Wednesday marked the first day in the province with no COVID-19 public health measures, including isolation, although the province continued to “strongly encourage” Nova Scotians to mask up and stay home if they’re sick. Yvette d’Entremont interviewed Dr. Scott Halperin. He’s director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology and a professor of pediatrics and microbiology and immunology at Dalhousie University who shared his advice: “People can take it upon themselves to help the rest of society and try to protect others.”
5. An Indonesian company is increasingly controlling Canada’s pulp industry, but regulators seem unwilling to act
This week news broke that pulp and paper giant Paper Excellence is about to purchase Canada’s Resolute Forest Products in a deal worth US$2.7 billion. As Joan Baxter reported, this latest Paper Excellence acquisition will give it ownership of Resolute’s “40 facilities, as well as power generation assets, in the United States and Canada.” Just seven months ago, Paper Excellence bought pulp and paper giant Domtar in a $3 billion deal. Baxter spoke with Sergio Baffoni, coordinator of the Environmental Paper Network’s Indonesian rainforests campaign, who said people in Canada should be very wary of the rapid and dramatic expansion of Paper Excellence in North America.
Thursday, July 7
Martha Paynter is a registered nurse who works in abortion and reproductive health care. Her new book ABORTION TO ABOLITION (with illustrations by Julia Hutt) was published the same week Roe v Wade was overturned in the United States — her launch party was the day after — and couldn’t be a more timely introduction to the history of abortion in Canada. She’s on the show this week to talk about how different the two countries’ laws and health care systems are, why reproductive justice is so tied up with abolition, and various provinces’ wins and losses over the years.
Zane Woodford was at this week’s meeting of the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners where Robin Tress was testifying about seeing Halifax Regional Police kicking an unhoused woman out of a Dartmouth park. Tress had requested the chance to speak at the meeting this week. “At the time of her request, it had nothing to do with Meagher Park, or People’s Park, as its known to residents living there,” Woodford wrote. “But the presentation came with extra significance on Wednesday, a day after the municipality issued eviction notices there and announced it’s clearing and then restoring the park as of July 17.”
Philip Moscovitch looked at the decades of work behind Montreal becoming a cycling city. From relentless lobbying to the stunts pulled off by activists Robert “Bicycle Bob” Silverman, who once dressed as Moses, trying to part the St. Lawrence River so cyclists would have a route to commute between the suburban South Shore and downtown. Yvette d’Entremont contributed a story about Emergency Health Services (EHS) hiring 100 more transport operators, while Joan Baxter had a piece on the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables increasing the reclamation security for Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy open pit mine in Moose River from $10.4 to $41.2 million.
4. Grandson of No. 2 Construction Battalion member hopes for ‘real apology,’ action on recommendations
Matthew Byard interviewed Robert Downey, whose grandfather Private George Alexander Downey Sr. served in the No. 2 Construction Battalion, as well as in the Second World War. Downey is one of the 22 members of the National Apology Advisory Committee (NAAC), which was tasked with advising the federal government on the official apology to the battalion set for Truro on Saturday. Downey told Byard that besides an apology, he’s hoping to see the recommendations made by the committee become a reality.
Friday, July 8
Tim Bousquet looked ahead to the foundational documents that will be released by the Mass Casualty Commission over the next week. One of those documents, “An analysis of the RCMP’s ‘psychological autopsy’ of the killer,” caught his attention. To Bousquet, this all sounds like junk science, but it’s concerning, too, because it can lead to surveilling and criminalizing of already marginalized groups. “We may believe that instituting some sort of surveillance and reporting system might prevent the next Portapique, but invariably it will more likely be used to usher an entire generation of black and brown kids into the criminal justice system,” Bousquet wrote.
From our archives
It was one year ago today that the Halifax Regional Municipality removed three of Halifax Mutual Aid’s shelters from city parks. As Zane Woodford reported at the time, the shelters were removed days before the municipality’s own deadline. On July 6, the municipality gave residents of the shelters one week to vacate the shelters. “The municipality said its deadline ‘was not a commitment by the municipality to refrain from removal of the temporary shelters prior to this date – rather, it was a notification that the shelters must be vacated by occupants and removed by those who installed them no later than July 13,'” Woodford wrote. While the municipality said all three shelters were vacant, Mutual Aid said the occupant of the shelter in Victoria Park was at work when the municipality removed the shelter. One year later, Woodford continues to cover stories about unhoused people in the city.