1. Ashley MacLean-Kearse
Ashley MacLean-Kearse was the 18-year-old woman injured in a triple shooting in Cole Harbour last week, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down:
Now Ashley’s family is trying to keep her spirits up, while raising money to help pay for the expenses that come with her recovery.
“She is going to have to go through extensive rehab to get any strength back in her arms; she won’t have full function of her arms,” Wendy Kearse, her mother, told CTV News.
“She’ll never be able to live independently.”
Kearse has quit her job to take care of her daughter, and wondering how much it will cost to make their home wheelchair accessible.
“We need to have a place to accommodate her with everything … she is going to need a van and a lift, she’ll need a wheelchair,” Kearse said.
The family has set up a GoFund page to accept donations.
There’s been much tragedy in Ashley’s young life. She was a friend of Rehtaeh Parsons, says Rehtaeh’s mother.
2. Pedestrians hit by vehicles
Norm Collins made a presentation to the Police Commission yesterday, arguing for the creation of a crosswalk enforcement unit that would be self-funded through additional ticket revenue. Collins congratulated police for stepping up enforcement in recent years, but said he’d like to see this year’s 225 tickets increase “by ten times that much.”
Just as Collins was giving his presentation, people on Twitter were reporting another pedestrian incident at Robie and Coburg Streets. There is no police report on this—Collins told me after the meeting that the police only report pedestrian incidents if someone receives medical attention.
At the meeting, councillor Linda Mosher wondered aloud if there was a connection between the new requirement to dial the 902 area code and the increase in pedestrian incidents. She explained that before the area code requirement, she could push a single button in her car, and the car would dial up Steve Adams—her example, not mine—and she could have a conversation with him, presumably hands-free. But after the change, for some reason the system doesn’t work beyond Fairview, and she has to manually use her phone to dial all ten digits. She presumably does this on the side of the road, not while driving, but I understood her to mean that other less scrupulous drivers are barrelling down the road, phone on lap, typing in 10 digits. I don’t know… maybe? For some reason, Mosher got upset with me when I reported this on Twitter, but I stand by it: what I’ve written above is the gist of what she said at the police commission.
In other pedestrian incident news, Brad McRae, a Dalhousie prof, says he wasn’t surprised about Friday’s incident at South and Lemarchant Streets, because he’s been complaining about the intersection for years:
He added the crosswalks signs are old, rusted and hard to see, the crosswalk is at an unusual angle, lighting is poor, and because buses turn into Lemarchant they come across the road and sight lines are “very bad.”
“You can’t see anything and traffic gets backed up,” McRae said, adding he has seen near misses as well.
“There are many, many students that use that intersection so it’s just a matter of time until another one happens.”
3. City council
Council will debate extending the life of the Otter Lake dump and vote on the contested Wellington Street development proposal, among other issues. Click here to read the preview of today’s meeting. This article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall, so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.
4. Barrington Blocks
“As a main part of the Barrington Benches project led by Fusion Halifax and the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, a piece featuring 400 ceramic blocks that spin to allow people to create their own pixel art was installed Friday at the corner of George and Barrington streets,” reports Metro. More photos are collected here.
I give it til noon today before the first penis appears.
Another inmate, Robert Eisnor, was mistakenly released from the Burnside jail at 6am Monday, 12 hours before his scheduled release. Eisnor is serving weekends for failing to appear in court on another matter, and is released from jail every Monday at 6pm, so probably isn’t considered dangerous. In any event, after the news reports, he turned himself in.
I don’t know the particulars of Eisnor’s situation, but many people who have been in and out of jail often have experienced being released early because of overcrowding and other issues, so it’s possible Eisnor didn’t think anything was wrong. Still, obviously, the jail has a problem: Eisnor was the sixth inmate to be mistakenly released in five years.
1. Christmas cards
Stephen Archibald pulls out his collection of locally produced Christmas cards.
City council (10am–10pm, City Hall)—council will debate extending the life of the Otter Lake dump and vote on the contested Wellington Street development proposal, among other issues. Click here to read the preview of today’s meeting. This article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall, so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.
No public meetings.
This is the birthday of Samuel Vetch, the first English Governor of Nova Scotia, who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1668. His story as told in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography is, in a word, hilarious:
…Vetch later acquired military experience in the battles of the War of the League of Augsburg, rising to the rank of captain. At war’s end, he sailed in the ambitious Scottish expedition to Darien* (Central America), was elected to the council of that ill-starred colony, and in August 1699 arrived in New York with the starving survivors of the project.
His commanding presence and natural gifts earned him easy acceptance amongst the merchant families of New York. In late 1700 he married Margaret, sister of John Livingston and daughter of the prominent Scottish merchant, Robert Livingston, Lord of the Manor of Livingston, member of the New York council, and holder of important posts in Albany. Vetch shortly began a lucrative, though illegal, trade with New France. Disclosure of his ventures, combined with political disruption of the colony and the outbreak of Queen Anne’s War (War of the Spanish Succession), occasioned his removal to Boston, where by 1705 he could see the possibility of undertaking new trading ventures to Canada under the cover of negotiations for prisoner exchange. Governor Dudley entrusted him with returning Augustin Le Gardeur de Courtemanche to Quebec in the summer of 1705; the latter was carrying Dudley’s reply to proposals made by Governor Rigaud de Vaudreuil. Vetch used the opportunity to assess the resources of New France and to attempt to re-establish trading connections. He eventually found opportunities for trade in Acadia. Combining trade with espionage, Vetch and other Boston ship-captains continued their activities until public outcry forced an end to this illegal trade. Many people were alarmed that weapons were among the articles going to Acadia. Tried and convicted by the Massachusetts General Court in 1706, Vetch went to England where, the following year, he obtained acquittal from the Privy Council on the grounds that the Massachusetts legislature had exceeded its authority.
At once Vetch advanced a larger project to Queen Anne’s court; nothing less than the conquest of New France…
The conquest of Nova Scotia is similarly convoluted. Read the whole thing.
* The failed colony of Darien in Panama, it is argued, was ultimately the end of an independent Scotland: “The Darien disaster seems to have persuaded hard-headed Scotsmen that their country could not prosper by itself, but needed access to England’s empire, and it helped to pave the way for the Act of Union between the two countries in 1707,” reads History Today. “Under the Act the investors in the Darien scheme were quietly compensated for their losses at taxpayers’ expense.”
Oceanography Seminar (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 3655, LSC, Oceanography Wing)—Nianzhi Jiao, from Xiamen University, will talk on “The Birth of the Universe: Studying the Epoch of Inflation with the Cosmic Microwave Background.”
Sometimes I find myself avoiding writing about certain topics because expressing my views will inevitably upset people I admire, or people the people I admire admire, or in any event, people who have their hearts in the right place but don’t see the larger implications of what they’re doing. Put another way, people often don’t see themselves acting within ideological and historic contexts, and here’s the spoilersport coming around, raining on the parade. In the end, however, I think these are precisely the things I should be writing about because what good is it doing this thing I do if I’m not challenging unquestioned community assumptions?
I don’t think I have any choice because of late a barrage of criticism has come my way via Twitter for not whole-heartedly endorsing, retweeting and jumping on board the campaign to get funding for a new kitchen at the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission on Cunard Street.
I can hear it now: You don’t support meals for the homeless? You dick.
Let’s back up. The founders of Souls Harbour are Ken and Michelle Porter, who founded a similar mission in Regina and then “sold their home and all they owned, packed a few mementos into the back of their Matrix, and drove 4,000 kilometres across Canada, strangers in their new home of Halifax. There they founded Souls Harbour, a Rescue Mission where men, women and families can drop in for a meal and a cup of coffee. It’s a place where guests can access free clothing or household items, free local calls, free wifi, a haircut, a listening ear, or even to get their taxes done.”
I’ve met Michelle Porter a few times. She strikes me as a kind-hearted, non-judgemental type, pleasant to talk to. As people new to town often are, she’s perhaps a bit overly eager, but that’s hardly a sin. I like her. I haven’t met Ken Porter, but I assume he’s the fellow I’ve heard preaching in Souls Harbour while I hang out with the smokers on the deck at Charlies next door. He’s got a booming voice reminiscent of the preachers at the tent revivals of my native south. I don’t recall hearing anything objectionable in his sermons, and if they steer a few misguided homeless folks onto a better path, who am I to complain? I have a natural distrust of religion, but long ago realized that people with cosmological views I can’t comprehend are capable of doing good works; I’ve met nuns and priests who have devoted their entire lives to serving a god I don’t believe in stand up to hateful warmongers and work for the poor in ways that are beyond anything I’d ever be capable of. Which is to say, I’ve got no problem with religious folk feeding the homeless.
What I have a problem with is the way the Porters are proposing to fund their new kitchen. Like the people behind the Community Carrot Co-op, the Porters have applied for funding through the Aviva Community Fund, which is a million dollars set aside annually by the Aviva Insurance Company. To access the money, community groups put together proposals and then compete against each other via social media. Voters can be anyone over 18 who registers on the Aviva website. Then the community groups across the country promote their various causes on Twitter and Facebook, trying to out-do each other in gathering supporters.
The Souls Harbour people have been very effective at their promotional efforts. Their Twitter campaign has been relentless, all day and well into the evening, with different messages every day targeted specifically at, so far as I can tell, pretty much every local Twitter account. They are enthusiastic and believe in their cause. (I had to mute their accounts because with something like 4,000 local followers on my Twitter feed, their promotional activity amounted to a steady stream of identical spam, all day long. I’ll unmute them when the contest is over.) Regardless, as a result they have by far bypassed every other group in the Aviva contest, and it looks like they’ll certainly win.
So what’s my problem?
To begin, how am I to judge the relative merits of the various charitable organizations across the country? It feels like “vote for the local charity so that bad other charity across the country doesn’t get funded.” I don’t know: is the Souls Harbour kitchen project a better use of money than, say, a new home for the Autism Project in the Annapolis Valley? Maybe, but I’d want to do a bit of research before saying for sure.
Which brings me to my real objection, which is we’re missing the social and political context within which the Aviva contest operates. It’s not simply “here’s a million dollars that didn’t exist before, let’s get our local charity some badly needed money.” We should be asking bigger questions, like: Why are people homeless in Halifax in the first place? And: Why wasn’t there funding for meals for homeless people in Halifax before this Aviva money came available?
Part of the context is that government no longer has the resources to properly fund social programs like housing initiatives (why is that Bloomfield project taking so long to materialize?) and welfare (payments haven’t kept up with inflation). And this is in large part due to the neoliberal tax-cutting policies of the last several decades, especially when it comes to corporate taxes. As this chart shows, corporations are now paying nearly a third less in taxes than they did in 1960:
And these tax cuts didn’t just happen. They are the product of decades worth of ideological reframing of the political landscape, brought on in large part by corporate lobbying. Aviva itself is represented by a dozen lobbyists on Parliament Hill, 10 of whom are registered to lobby about taxation.
Aviva is a privately owned company, so its profits are not public. But as it’s the second largest insurance company in Canada, we can be certain that were it paying 1960-era taxes its tax bill would be a hell of a lot higher than the million dollars it tosses to the Community Fund. If we returned to the era of relatively high corporate taxes, governments would be better prepared to deal with the social problems the community organizations are scrambling to deal with. More to the point, the era of higher taxation corresponded with higher employment and a less-stratified economy, meaning there would be fewer social problems to deal with in the first place.
“Corporate charity” is a cynical, mean-hearted game. The corporations on the one hand lobby and argue for lower taxes that result in underfunded government social programs, then throw a bit of money into charity to deal with those programs, but only if it serves the corporate brand and if they get tax deductions for the “donations.”
What’s a few million people tweeting favourably about your company worth? I actually tried to put a value on this a while back, and while it’s impossible to find an exact amount, in terms of simple advertising value there’s no question that Aviva’s “charitable” campaign is worth many times the million dollars it will pay out.
Moreover, what is Aviva doing with all the personal information it collects as part of the voters’ registration process? It doesn’t say.
I have more to say, but as usual not enough time to say it in. I’d like sometime to discuss how chasing corporate charity itself has a corrupting element for the charities. But for now my real point is that we shouldn’t simply accept corporate charity as an unquestioned good. It’s not.
In the harbour
(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)
Atlantic Concert, con-ro, New York to Fairview Cove East, then sails for Liverpool, England
Tokyo Express, container ship, Rotterdam to Fairview Cove West, then sails for New York
Oceanex Sanderling, con-ro, St. John’s to Pier 41
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