This item is written by Tim Bousquet.
November is subscription drive month, and that means our annual subscribers party follows.
Join us Sunday, December 1, 4-7pm at Bearly’s (1269 Barrington Street). Entry is free for all subscribers. If you’re not a subscriber already, you can click here to subscribe or purchase a subscription at the event.
This year, music will be provided by New Riders of the Purple Surf and the BBQ Kings. Probably, one of the musicians will go home with one of the Examiner writers, but let’s not make a thing of it, eh?
We’ll have T-shirts, hoodies, and other Examiner swag for sale.
Besides the bands, we have no special events planned. Mostly this is just a chance for the Examiner crew to meet and speak with subscribers, and to have fun.
We hope to see you there!
This is the first time I’m actually going to make it to one of these parties, despite subscribing for years, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be bringing along a copy of my book as one of the door prizes. Hope to see you there.
1. Northern Pulp
Tim Bousquet wrote this item.
“The story of the bleached kraft pulp mill in Pictou County, which has already dragged on for 53 years, is coming to a nail-biting climax,” writes Joan Baxter:
How — and when — it’s going to end is anyone’s guess.
Time is running out, and two key dates loom.
The first is December 17, 2019, which is the deadline for Nova Scotia environment minister Gordon Wilson to deliver his verdict on Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent treatment facility project.
The other is January 31, 2020. If Premier Stephen McNeil stands firm and respects the Boat Harbour Act that his Liberal government passed in 2015, with unanimous support from opposition parties, the mill’s effluent will no longer be permitted to flow into Boat Harbour after that date.
Baxter goes on to give us a primer on the issues involved, and where things may go from here.
Given the timeliness of this article, we’ve made it available for everyone to read. But to support Baxter’s work, you could subscribe anyway.
2. Rushing to clearcut
Jennifer Henderson reports that companies are rushing to clearcut land in advance of the possibility of the tougher regulations recommended by the Lahey report.
Mike Lancaster, a trained forester who is a member of a provincial advocacy group called Healthy Forest Coalition, says Lake Deception is an example of “business as usual,” with companies rushing to cut as much as possible before the regulatory landscape changes for good.
Lancaster says clearcutting an area which has already been cut several times in the past 150 years (and where the soil has been identified as thin and nutrient-poor glacial till) will further degrade an already weakened forest that needs more time to regenerate.
“Why are all these large-scale cuts being pushed through?” asks Lancaster. “Shouldn’t we be using the precautionary principle to wait until we identify the best candidates and the best areas for the various uses we are looking to assign before we move forward with cuts of this scale — especially where there are warning signs?”
This story is for subscribers. You can subscribe here.
3. Bad math at Lands and Forestry
An “arithmetic error” increased the cut for the WestFor timber companies by a whopping 28% — until the Halifax Examiner discovered the mistake.
4. Steal Away Home: Eddie Carvery’s protest and the value of Black life
Yesterday, the Examiner published a moving essay by El Jones, in which she writes about the importance of home. The destruction of Eddie Carvery’s trailers leads her to think about the impending loss of her own family in home in Trinidad, and what that means to her, even though she never lived there.
I have never lived in Trinidad, and it is unlikely I ever will, and yet, the news of the impending loss of the family home cut deep. I am the “you people” Don Cherry speaks of, those of us who carry with us other worlds. Until it was about to be gone, I had not thought how much of an anchor this home was to my sense of belonging to a continuum, to an ancestry, to an identity. In the back of my mind was always the sense that I had somewhere to return to, a place in this world that belonged to me and mine, a thread that connected me to who I am and where I come from.
With the loss of a home I have never inhabited, I feel cut adrift in unexpected ways. I remind myself of the ways family reproduces itself, how we grow in new directions, but I sharply feel the absence, not just of this particular building, but of the entire history of our family, of the struggle for decolonization, of the ways the women in my family clawed their way upwards so I could live and write and be. I mourn for our worlds falling out of existence, for the Black histories we already have so much hardship to preserve, of all the lives of my ancestors who passed without notice, and who we embodied in those walls. Where will I stay if I return? This experience of displacement, exile, and breakage haunts all of us in the diapora. “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child a long way from home,” we sing.
5. Screw the poor
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his cabinet yesterday, and one of the newcomers is Mona Fortier. She was named minister of… wait for it… middle class prosperity.
I get that most people think of themselves as middle class, so fetishizing the middle class, whatever that consists of now, makes political sense. Heck, I’m middle class and I’d like to be more prosperous. But do I need a minister to help make it happen?
Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia government has no idea why the child poverty rate is increasing. Instead of actually addressing poverty in any meaningful way, a CBC story reports the province is trying to get answers from Statistics Canada, figuring the issue must not be poverty, but the data.
Despite multiple requests for an interview, officials with Community Services would not make someone available and instead provided a statement noting the sample size “may not be representative of the circumstances of the entire population.”
“We continue to work with Statistics Canada to improve their data quality for Nova Scotia and we look forward to their next update in February 2020,” the statement said.
In an email, a Statistics Canada spokesperson said the agency reviewed the poverty rates for couples with children in Nova Scotia at the request of the province.
“After a thorough examination these rates remain as originally published,” said Kossi Djani.
The CBC story is unbylined, but Jean Laroche tells me it was written by Michael Gorman.
6. Reconcile this
It’s been 20 years since the Supreme Court affirmed a treaty right for an Indigenous fishery on the East Coast.
Twenty years after the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged the Mi’kmaq have a treaty right to make a “moderate livelihood” from natural resources, negotiations drag on with Fisheries and Oceans Canada over what that would look like.
Meanwhile, a co-ordinated effort has emerged among the Mi’kmaq to move ahead with the fishery, develop their own management plans and let Fisheries and Oceans respond.
In the absence of a federal response. tensions are rising.
Beswick looks at the story of Pictou Landing’s Zack Nicholas, who has had lobster seized by DFO but has never been charged. The piece contains plenty of helpful background on the Marshall decision, and how we’ve reached a point — 20 years later — where there are still such tensions on the water.
As an aside: almost all the lobster photos in the Examiner media library are very strange.
7. Fraser Institute swallows AIMS
The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is merging with the Fraser Institute. Do you need help keeping track of who’s who on your think-tank program? AIMS (chairman: John Risley; former chair: John F. Irving) describes its objectives in these yawn-inducing terms, painstakingly devised to give the impression of neutral objectivity:
- initiating and conducting research identifying current and emerging economic and public policy issues facing Atlantic Canadians and Canadians more generally, including research into the economic and social characteristics and potentials of Atlantic Canada and its four constituent provinces;
- investigating and analysing the full range of options for public and private sector responses to the issues identified and to act as a catalyst for informed debate on those options, with a particular focus on strategies for overcoming Atlantic Canada’s economic challenges in terms of regional disparities;
- communicating the conclusions of its research to a regional and national audience in a clear, non-partisan way;
- sponsoring or organising conferences, meetings, seminars, lectures, training programs, and publications, using all media of communication (including, without restriction, the electronic media) for the purpose of achieving these objectives.
AIMS research interests include mining and oil drilling (good); interprovincial trade barriers (bad, but expressed as “buy local against the spirit of free trade”) and charter schools (good). Amusingly, AIMS has a 2017 study calling for the elimination of Employment Insurance as we know it, in favour of the Chilean system, which features compulsory savings accounts. You know, part of the system that’s so popular Chileans are now rioting and burning subway cars in protest.
You may remember the Fraser Institute as the people behind the completely bogus but widely-reported tax freedom day. They also received money from right-wing American billionaires. The institute’s website includes stories such as “How First Nations benefit from Pipeline Construction” and, my personal favourite, “The Myths of Local Food Policy,” which includes this great paragraph:
The facts are that conventional food practices generate much social capital, such as when urban teenagers get part-time jobs working in grocery stores and come into contact with the complexity of the food system and the diversity of customers. Further, intermediaries in the conventional food supply chain create value by delivering lower costs (by ruthlessly looking for the better deals among several suppliers), greater convenience (through closer geographical proximity to consumers) and less waste (by providing consumers with the amount of food they need when they need it) than direct marketing approaches such as farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture.
Have you ever met a teenager who worked in a supermarket? Do they rhapsodize about coming into contact “with the complexity of the food system”?
I also like the part about ruthlessly driving down costs. I would rather pay a little bit more for my vegetables from someone who can make a decent living growing them. That seems like, I don’t know, a benefit?
Anyway, the “non-partisan” AIMS and the right-wing Fraser Institute are merging. An unbylined story in the Chronicle Herald says:
It all started with a member of the AIMS board and a member of the Fraser Institute board suggesting together that a greater presence in Atlantic Canada would give the Fraser Institute a stronger presence as the largest think tank in Canada.
[Fraser Institute president Niels] Veldhuis said AIMS will continue to be a distinctive Atlantic Canadian voice on economic and public policy issues affecting the region. He said the merger wasn’t necessary due to a lack of funds or anything like that, AIMS he said has been a steady organization with an annual budget ranging from $500,000 to $600,000 annually.
Strangely as of this writing there is nothing about the merger on the AIMS website.
8. Teacher who put student in chokehold convicted of assault
You may remember the case of Derek Stephenson, the Cole Harbour District High School teacher arrested for assault just over a year ago. Stephenson was seen in a short video kneeing a 15-year-old student in the back while squeezing him in a chokehold. The incident took place in class, and was recorded by another student. (I’d say this is an argument for allowing cellphones in the classroom.)
Stephenson had been charged with assault, mischief and breach of probation. His lawyer, Joel Pink, says he expects the latter two charges to be dismissed or withdrawn at sentencing next month.
As Blair Rhodes writes for CBC, before this latest incident, Stephenson had “two prior convictions for violent incidents involving his ex-wife and his girlfriend. He received conditional discharges in both cases.”
The former English teacher voluntarily gave up his teaching licence after his arrest, and the incident spurred the province to bring in new rules on criminal background checks for teachers.
1. Why open adoption records matter
One evening four years ago, while I was in Toronto for work, I called home to check in. My wife, Sara, had news: “I have a cousin I never knew about,” she said.
The cousin was Leslie McNab. She had been given up for adoption, and now, some five decades later and with the help of a private detective, she’d found her birth family.
I was thinking about Leslie recently when I heard that Nova Scotia is taking a few tentative steps towards opening its adoption records. Last week, the province launched a survey on whether or not to open adoption records. A series of public consultations will follow. Nova Scotia is the last province in Canada to have closed records.
Currently, if an adoptee requests information about their birth and birth parents, they are given only non-indentifying information. With open adoption records, they would be able to get names. But birth parents who did not want to be identified could file a veto to prevent the government from releasing their information.
Essentially, open records change the default to providing information rather than hiding it.
Community services minister Kelly Regan announced back in March that her department would undertake these consultations. That’s a big shift from the government’s previous position of outright refusal to consider change.
I spoke to Leslie (I know that journalistically I should call her McNab, but it seems weird) earlier this week. She’s a writer who lives in Niagara, and she first went looking for information on her birth family in the 1990s, when she was in her twenties. Ontario adoption records were closed. (When I told her Nova Scotia might be considering open records, she said, “That’s great news!”)
When Leslie applied for her own information, she says she received a redacted file from the Catholic Children’s Aid Society.
I didn’t have any identifying information. But it was a file full of notes from the social worker who talked about my birth father’s and my birth mother’s family. You know, just giving vague kind of information, like how many siblings they had and the ages of people and things like that. And a little bit more information about [her birth mother]. She was probably the one being interviewed. And then she would have given them the information about [her birth father] that was included, such as the fact he was studying music at university and was looking forward to a career in the music business.
Although she knew from a very young age that she was adopted, Leslie says she didn’t really get what that meant as a young child, and she described a sense of groundlessness that came with not knowing who her birth parents were.
I was always told that I was adopted from the time I can remember. My parents would say, “Well, you’re adopted. And that means we chose you.” And I didn’t really know what that meant… It was just an abstraction. I imagined them going to a supermarket and the babies were on shelves and they just picked me. And it’s like, well, what if they didn’t pick me? Where would I be and who would I be… The feeling I had was that I was like a broken doll who was rejected. And then someone found me and fixed me and kept me…
So it’s tough, because you’re torn, and navigating the emotions around that can be tricky, because a lot of times adoptees are raised by wonderful parents who do everything they can.
When she applied for the non-identifying information on her birth parents, Leslie says she “really, really wanted to tackle it” and try to find them. But then she felt overwhelmed.
I received all this information and no support in finding out anything beyond this, I just kind of went, oh God, this is a huge, monumental task. And I’m not set up for trying to figure it out. And I just kind of shelved it. For decades. If the records had been open and I had my actual name, it might have given me a little bit more to go on, and I would have felt like, OK, I can I can try and find these people. I can go to the library and look at birth and death records and things like that. It would give me more tools, more information. And if I had been able to find and meet everybody sooner — who knows? I think it would have impacted my life much better.
Leslie’s birth parents stayed together and had more children. One of the things that troubles her about the amount of time it took her to find her birth family is that she never got to meet her brother Zach, who passed away in 2012.
Origins Canada, an organization that advocates for the rights of adoptees, argues for completely open records, with no disclosure veto.
Their policy statement says, in part:
Members of our society have the right of freedom of association with any person, including their natural families. At Origins, we are not aware of natural families or persons adopted contacting each other for any nefarious purpose. Usually contact is made to offer love, support, exchange information, or to initiate family contact with hopes of a relationship.
Citizens of Canada receive unsolicited calls to their homes from a variety of sources and have the choice as adults on whether or not to interact with those people. Further, all citizens are protected by law in cases of harassment or unwanted contact.
Leslie agrees. She says:
Trying to suppress the truth from adoptees based on some kind of a promise to a birth mother — I don’t think that the law actually has any right to impose those kinds of parameters because you’re denying adoptees information that’s valuable about who they are. And so when you don’t have that in your life, you don’t have a birthright. You’re just a legal fiction as a human being. So I never felt grounded — ever, really — until I found [her birth family]. So once I was able to make those connections for real, in person, that’s when I started to feel like, oh, yeah, I actually belong on this planet.
Yesterday was the Transgender Day of Remembrance. In Halifax, events included raising the trans flag at Grand Parade and a proclamation from the mayor.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission says:
Every person in Canada — regardless of whom they love, or how they identify or express their gender — has the right to live free without fear of discrimination, violence or exclusion, and to be fully included and embraced in all facets of Canadian society.
But the commission’s numbers show just how far we are from reaching that goal. The organization reports the following:
- 69% of trans youth (19-25 years old) have seriously considered suicide at some point in their lives.
- 70% of trans youth report experiencing sexual harassment.
- 36% of trans youth report being physically threatened or injured at school.
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Youth Power House) — here’s the agenda.
No public meetings.
No public meetings Thursday or Friday.
Thesis Defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Thursday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jonghwa Lee will defend “Identification of Factors Regulating Cytoplasmic and Nuclear Lipid Droplets.”
Andrea Ludwig Masterclass for Singers (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 121, Dal Arts Centre) — a warmup to her performance tonight with Angela Cheng and Symphony Nova Scotia.
Angela Cheng Piano Masterclass (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — see above.
Brexit (Thursday, 1pm, Room 305, Weldon Law Building ) — Vincent Power will talk about “How did we get here, where do we go now and what are the implications for negotiators?”
Oberlander Collection (Thursday, 4:30pm, Sexton Design and Technology Library) — celebrating the donation of the extensive professional collection of landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. RSVP here.
Workshop Series: Focus on Communication: Dramatic Monologue (Thursday,4:35pm, Room 2110, Mona Campbell Building ) — improve your public speaking skills. More info here.
Populism Peaked: The Future of Democracy (Thursday, 7pm, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) —delegates from the 11th Halifax International Security Forum will discuss the future of democracies and global security. Panelists include Emily Lau from Hong Kong, Tolu Ogunlesi from Nigeria, Janice Stein from Toronto and Roderich Kiesewetter from Germany.
In the second decade of the 21st century, democracies across the Western world became subject to open revolt by significant sections of their own populations. Populist parties and demagogues made deep inroads in the political mainstream. What awaits us in the 2020s? Has populism peaked? Or is this just the beginning?
Canadian Architecture and the Climate Crisis: Panel Discussion (Thursday, 7pm, Halifax Central Library) — Simulcast to the Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building, the panel includes Peter Busby, Susan Fitzgerald, Steven Mannell, Elsa Lam, and Mary Lynk.
The construction and operation of buildings accounts for 39% of global carbon emissions – more than industry and almost double the transportation sector. Some keys to building more sustainably may be found in Canada. Back in the 70s, Canada pioneered the prototype “Passive House” in Saskatchewan – a home with no furnace that captured energy from occupant activities and the sun for heating – as well as the PEI Ark, a self-sufficient home including solar heat, a wind turbine, and a large greenhouse with indoor fish ponds for food.
Today, architects are figuring out how to build net-zero energy and net-zero carbon buildings. The world’s largest near-zero energy community centre is set to open in Surrey BC, and architects across the country are vying to build ever taller highrises out of carbon-capturing wood, instead of steel and concrete. Some architects are moving beyond technology to embrace community-engaged design and build approaches, including food and energy cooperatives.
This event will include presentation of research from the new book Canadian Modern Architecture, 1967 to the Present (Princeton Architectural Press, release date October 28, 2019.)
RSVP here to attend the panel at the library, no ticket required for Ondaatje Hall.
Mini Medical School (Thursday,7pm, Theatre B, Tupper Link Building) — Lisa Barrett presents “Infections and Travel”, followed by Joanne Langley with “Lyme Disease.”
Swinging Standards (Thursday, 7:30pm, St. Andrew’s United Church, 6036 Coburg Road, Halifax) — the Dalhousie Jazz Ensemble joins the Halifax Regional Arts Senior Jazz Ensemble for an evening of classic big band sounds and swinging standards, directed by Ryan Froude and Chris Mitchell. Tickets $15/ 10, more info here.
Noon Hour Piano Recital (Friday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with students of Peter Allen.
Dalplex Christmas Craft Market (Friday, 12pm, Dalplex) — vendors from the Atlantic region and across Canada exhibit their handcrafted pottery, jewelry, art, woodwork, toys, handmade treasures, delicious treats and more, until Sunday at 5pm. $5.
The Impact of the Child Welfare System on Maternal Health (Friday, 12:30pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Meaghan Thumath from the University of Oxford will talk.
Metal catalysts, clusters and surfaces: Catalytic preparation of chiral bio‑molecules and the chemistry of carbon‑based monolayers (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Cathleen Crudden from Queen’s University will talk.
Thesis Defence, Computer Science (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Sara Khanchi will defend “Stream Genetic Programming for Botnet Detection.”
Fireplaces (and Stoves) as Icons of Comfort: Picturing Early Modern Domestic Energy Transitions (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Jack Crowley will talk.
Accessibility Week: Duty to Accommodate and Undue Hardship (Thursday, 1pm, L 188, in the building named after a grocery store) — Greg Gillis and Angela MacLellan from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission will
give an overview, as it pertains to a post secondary environment, of the Commission’s Dispute Resolution process, the duty to accommodate, undue hardship and responsibilities of the student, education providers and instructors within an accommodation process.
Understanding Canada’s defence policy within the evolving global security environment (Thursday, 2:30pm, SB160, in the building named after a grocery store) — Gordon Venner, Associate Deputy Minister for the Department of National Defence, will talk.
Julieta (Thursday, 6pm, Theatre B, Burke Building) — Almodovar’s film, in Spanish with English subtitles.
Mount Saint Vincent
No public events.
Multicultural Night 2019 (Friday, 6:30pm, Multi-purpose Room, Rosaria Student Centre) — featuring a globally-inspired sit-down dinner, a showcase of cultural performances, and an after-party at Vinnie’s Pub. Tickets $37, available at the International Education Centre or (cash only) at the Hub in the Rosaria Student Centre. More info here and here.
Hamlet, Puppet Prince of Denmarke (Thursday, 8pm, The Pit, Arts and Administration Building) — $5 / 10, more info and tickets here.
Reporting the Voiceless: Stories from the Margins (Friday, 12pm, KTS Lecture Hall, New Academic Building) — Patricia Evangelista, documentary and long-form multimedia journalist with the Philippine online publication Rappler.com will discuss
her experiences in covering the various underreported issues in the Philippines, the implications for those in the margins, the challenges, and efforts to bring to light the difficult and unpopular stories.
Her discussion will also underline the significant role media play as a social conscience and one that influences public policy and action in mainstreaming marginalized issues. She asks, “In a time when human rights and other fundamental freedoms in the Philippines are under the spotlight, what should journalists do to responsibly communicate the stories of those in the margins?”
More info here.
Hamlet, Puppet Prince of Denmarke (Friday, 8pm, The Pit, Arts and Administration Building) — and again Saturday. $5 / 10, more info and tickets here.
In the harbour
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Autoport
18:00: JSP Levante, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Moa, Cuba
18:15: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
The days are dark and the temperatures dropping, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy watching baseball — if you’re willing to stay up late or get up early. The Australian Baseball League season opened today, with the Perth Heat visiting the Auckland Tuatara, who joined the league last year. The game started at midnight our time, 5 PM in Auckland.
Tuataras are very cool-looking lizards, as you can see from the photo at the top of this section.
The season opening is overshadowed this year by the death of 23-year-old Minnesota Twins prospect Ryan Costello, who was slated to debut for the Tuatara this weekend. He was found dead in his hotel room soon after arriving in New Zealand, seemingly of natural causes.
If, like me, you are up for some late-night baseball, you can stream some of the games on the league’s YouTube channel. Tip: The time difference with Perth is 12 hours, so Heat home games are the easiest to watch. I enjoy tuning in at 7 AM on cold winter mornings.
One final baseball note. Over the last couple of days Graeme Benjamin and Sarah Ritchie have reported for Global that amateur hockey and soccer in Nova Scotia have been paying referees who work girls’ games less than those who work boys’ games. Soccer Nova Scotia offered the weak-ass excuse that boys’ games require a higher level of referee than girls’ games. Ritchie quotes Carman King of Soccer Nova Scotia: “The men’s game, the boys’ game, usually is a bit faster and definitely has more management responsibilities by the referee.”
“More management responsibilities” presumably translates as the boys can be jerks.
As someone who has umpired both boys’ and girls’ baseball in Nova Scotia, I’m happy to say pay rates are the same, regardless of gender. And as for management responsibilities? I don’t care how rowdy you are, you don’t want to mess with young women like Baseball Nova Scotia’s 2019 junior umpire of the year. That would be Skylar Blanchette (who I know and have had the pleasure to umpire with).
Officiating minor sports is a first job for many of the kids who do it. The message they’re getting if they are paid less to work girls’ games is all wrong.