Welcome to Weekend File, where you’ll find links to all the articles you might have missed last week. Jump to sections in this article:
Saturday, June 4
Mass Casualty Commissioners considering request to allow direct cross-examination by victims’ lawyers
The lawyers representing families of the victims of the mass shootings in April 2020 may have a chance to question witnesses. Jennifer Henderson reported that Emily Hill, senior counsel for the Mass Casualty Commission, confirmed the commission is considering a request from one of the families’ lawyers. Last week, during commission hearings in Truro, there were protests and boycotts by two legal firms representing 15 families of the murder victims.
Sunday, June 5
May was Lyme Disease Awareness Month, but as Joan Baxter wrote, the month came and went without much awareness about Lyme disease at all, even though Nova Scotia has the highest per capita incidence of Lyme in Canada. Baxter wanted to know how effectively the province is keeping the public informed and updated on ticks and Lyme.
Monday, June 6
1. Nova Scotia Power rate increase: just more corporate obfuscation, jiggery-pokery and sleight of hand
“Show us the money!” That’s what Nova Scotia Power says to ratepayers. But when ratepayers say “Show us the numbers!” the utility clams up. “In fact, far from explaining itself, the privately-owned public utility — the same one that is expecting us to pony up 10% more for our electricity over the next three years — believes we have no right to know about such matters,” wrote Stephen Kimber in his latest column.
2. Morning File: If everyone goes further into debt, we’ll all be rich!
As Mary Campbell in the Cape Breton Spectator reported, the CEO of the Port of Sydney wants to turn the Joan Harriss cruise pavilion on the Sydney waterfront into a mini-mall for locals. Tim Bousquet had some thoughts on this “economic development” plan. Bousquet also had thoughts on a “ship” with no captain that found itself in Halifax after being diverted from its transatlantic voyage.
3. How the mass murderer leisurely drove through the main streets of Truro without being stopped by police
“Through the mass murders of April 18/19, 2020, there was a series of miscommunications and mixed messages between the RCMP and the Truro Police Service such that the killer was able to slowly drive right through the centre of Truro without being noticed or confronted by Truro police,” wrote Tim Bousquet. Because the killer wasn’t stopped in Truro, he continued on to Shubenacadie where he killed three more people.
The public will soon have access to the Silver Sands Beach in Cow Bay. As Zane Woodford reported, the municipality has won its court battle to reopen the public path to the beach. The HRM headed to court to restore a right-of-way across Ross Rhyno’s land to the beach. Rhyno had built fences and blocked access to the beach, arguing the receding shoreline had rendered the easement invalid because HRM’s land is so often underwater.
Yvette d’Entremont interviewed Vanessa Schiliro, a Dalhousie University marine biology student who created a five-minute video and infographic to share shark-smart tips with Atlantic Canadians who enjoy the ocean. Schiliro also has a passion for “rebranding” of the great white shark and said it’s important to raise awareness of the important role they play in keeping oceans balanced and healthy. This story really has bite.
Matthew Byard profiled Ardel Smith, the first Black aircraft pilot from Nova Scotia to fly helicopters. Byard told us about Smith’s career as a helicopter pilot, which included stints working in Yellowknife. Smith now flies helicopters for the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.
Tuesday, June 7
Last weekend Matthew Byard headed to Grandview Golf and Country Club where Black Lives Matters Golf was hosting a golf clinic for women that was quite a hit. “We had older women, we had younger women, we had women from the church, we had women from various communities that came out, and they come together to support the cause,” said Doug Hill, board member with BLMG. “I was quite pleased with their level of participation.”
2. Missed communications among Communications personnel led to failure to alert public to the killer’s fake police car
Jennifer Henderson took us through a document titled “RCMP Public Communications,” which details why information about the fake police car wasn’t released to the public sooner than it was on Sunday, April 19, 2020. As Henderson asked in this report, if Heather O’Brien and Kristen Beaton had know the killer was driving a fake police car, would they have stayed home that morning?
3. Morning File: Overexposed: put down the camera and enjoy the experience
Ethan Lycan-Lang spent last weekend at a family event where he had to take part in far too many photos. That got him thinking about how we take photos to capture every memory rather than just enjoying the experience. And he also took a look at how the rising cost of living is affecting Canadians. What he found is not good.
Zane Woodford reported on a decision released by the provincial Utility and Review Board (UARB), which has lowered the maximum interest payday lenders can charge from $19 on a $100 loan to $17, as of Sept. 1. Then starting Jan. 1, 2024, that figure will drop again, to $15. Nova Scotia’s current maximum is the second highest in Canada, with Newfoundland and Labrador capping interest at $21 on a $100 loan. When the Nova Scotia maximum drops to $15 per $100, it will match British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.
Wednesday, June 8
Matthew Byard spoke with Dr. Afua Cooper, who’s a board member for the Routes of Enslaved Peoples Project. That project, formerly known as The Slave Route Project and founded in 1994 as an initiative by UNESCO, is meeting in Halifax now, the first time the group has met in North America. The group is in Halifax to discuss the causes, consequences, and impacts of the African slave trade.
2. Morning File: Ditching the “culture of blame”
Suzanne Rent reported on the Going for Broke podcast and some of the themes it explores such as low wages, ageism, the housing crisis, and how we treat essential workers. She also told us about Maddie Laffin and Josey Hughes, two young entrepreneurs in Tennecape, NS, who own and operate the Tennecape Café. The kids are all right.
Senator (Dr.) Stan Kutcher told Yvette d’Entremont he gets short bouts of severe fatigue or “horrific” headaches out of the blue, months after contracting COVID-19. Kutcher is one of many raising concern about long-COVID and its impacts. “People who know this stuff are starting to ring alarm bells that this virus is not over with us when the initial infection is over in many people,” Kutcher told d’Entremont this week.
“We can no longer sell the province as being competitive based on a race to the bottom if you will, and we have plenty of evidence that tells us the impact that the race to the bottom has,” said Christine Saulnier, director of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS), in an interview with Yvette d’Entremont. That was some of the messaging in a written submission CCPA-NS sent to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts this week. d’Entremont learned more about the impacts of the low-wage economy on Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians.
Thursday, June 9
The Design Advisory Committee gave its approval to a proposal for a new development in downtown Dartmouth. But as Zane Woodford reported, some of the committee members weren’t fans of the public art proposed for the site. The developers, Boston Developments Ltd., have proposed a sculpture by artist Vassilis Vassili. “I find it’s not art at all,” said committee member Thomas Gribbin. “It doesn’t inspire me in the slightest.”
Jennifer Henderson was at the Halifax Shipyard on Wednesday where Premier Tim Houston was promoting a tax break for young tradespeople. The tax break, called More Opportunity for Skilled Trades (MOST), is expected to help about 7,500 current and new workers in the skilled trades.
Matthew Byard spoke with John A. Young and Cynthia Lucas from the Lucasville Greenway Society, which is lobbying for a greenway in the historic Black community. Lucasville doesn’t have sidewalks or public transit, and they told Byard the area isn’t safe for many residents. The society is hosting a fundraising walk on Saturday where they hope to raise awareness about the need for the greenway.
4. 27 minutes: the RCMP’s communications division hesitated when the public most needed to be warned about the mass murderer
Tim Bousquet reported on the testimony of Cpl. Jennifer Clarke and Lia Scanlan at the Mass Casualty Commission this week. Clarke and Scanlan testified about the communications on the morning of Sunday, April 19, 2020, and in particular the one tweet Clarke wrote. That one tweet that had details about the fake police car sat unapproved for 27 crucial minutes.
Dartmouth’s annual theatre extravaganza Stages returns live to Alderney Landing this week for shows, works in progress, solo experiments, and all kinds of wild weirdness. That includes SHAKESPEARE’S TIME MACHINE by The Villains Theatre, a classically irreverent comedy by Dan Bray. Co-director Rebecca Wolfe and performer/producer Colleen MacIsaac are on the show this week to talk post-pandemic life in the theatre, their personal Stages picks, and more. Plus a new song from Good Dear Good!
6. Morning File: Dear diary: honest notes from a journaling journalist
In his second Morning File of the week, Ethan Lycan-Lang shared some of his secrets about how to be honest in your journaling. “Here’s what I’ve learned: being honest — I mean deeply, brutally, root-cause honest — is painfully challenging,” he wrote. Lycan-Lang also wrote about the stories we find in airports. When he said stories, he meant nightmares.
In 2020, a federal law and a BC judge dismantled Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). Now, the same federal law that was used to destroy MEC is being cited by Paper Excellence in its $450 million lawsuit against the province of Nova Scotia related to the creditor protection of Northern Pulp. And the case is being heard by the same judge. Joan Baxter had this first article in a two-part series on what this means for Nova Scotia.
Friday, June 10
1. Morning File: ‘We really don’t need any more police officers; we really don’t need any more money’
“If all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail,” Tim Bousquet wrote on Friday. He’s been thinking a lot about that aphorism as he watches and live tweets the Mass Casualty Commission proceedings. Bousquet shared his predictions for the outcome of the commission. There will be recommendations, but only those related to the funding of police will “be pursued with enthusiasm” because “all we have is hammers.”
From our archives
Just about a year ago, Joan Baxter wrote this two-part series on ticks. In part 1 of “A plague of ticks, tick-borne diseases, and poli-ticks,” Baxter reported on how the province is monitoring and managing tick-borne diseases and health risks of those diseases. And in part 2, Baxter found out what can be done to better manage and minimize the risks of tick-borne diseases in Nova Scotia.
It looks like a beautiful weekend to be outside, so be watchful for ticks. Baxter’s reporting is a good place to start to learn more about ticks, Lyme disease, and other tick-borne diseases.