On campus
In the harbour


1. Death in police custody

A man died at the Halifax police headquarters Thursday morning. Photo: Google Street View
A man died at the Halifax police headquarters Thursday morning. Photo: Google Street View

A man died in the holding cells at the Halifax Regional Police Department headquarters early Thursday morning, but police refuse to identify him, reports Susan Bradley for the CBC:

An autopsy was performed on the 41-year-old Spryfield man Thursday but the province’s Serious Incident Response Team won’t have a report from the medical examiner’s officer “for some time,” SIRT director Ron MacDonald said Friday. Meanwhile, neither SIRT nor Halifax Regional Police are releasing the man’s name. MacDonald said it is a matter of policy that SIRT does not publicly identify people involved in its investigations. A Halifax police spokeswoman also said Friday that the department will not identify the deceased.

This is outrageous.

We’ve given police immense power. They have databases of information about us. They can bug our phones, search our homes, follow us around. They can arrest and detain us. In certain circumstances, they can kill us.

But those police powers aren’t unlimited. There’s judicial oversight. For example, the police can’t bug our phones or search our homes without a court-issued search warrant.

Likewise, the police can arrest and detain us, but not indefinitely and not without cause. Generally speaking, anyone who is arrested must be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours and formally charged with a crime; if not, they must be released from police custody. Sometimes the 24-hour limit is extended to a couple of days over a long weekend when no magistrate is available, but those are supposed to be exceptional cases.

In the US, police must name every person booked into a police holding facility, whether the detainee is subsequently charged or not. Canada doesn’t have that rule. That’s why mug shots are publicized in the US but not in Canada. I’d argue that who gets jailed overnight should be public record — it would go a long way to helping us understand police harassment and racial profiling.

Still, while Canadian police don’t have to say who they detain without charge, the requirement to charge the detainee in court as soon as possible means that any arrested person’s name will become public if they are held more than 24 hours, or up to 72 hours in exceptional cases.

We don’t have secret police prisons.

And yet, a man in police custody died in a police holding facility, and the identity of that man isn’t known, and possibly won’t ever be known — SIRT investigations can take years to complete, and it’s not clear that even at completion of an investigation the agency has any requirement to publicize the dead man’s name.

By allowing this to go unchallenged, we’re in effect saying police have to name an arrested person within 24 hours, unless the person dies, in which case they don’t have to name the person at all.

Moreover, the notion that the police and SIRT can properly investigate the man’s death without making the basic facts of the case public smacks of the worst sort of government paternalism so sadly characteristic of Nova Scotia. “Trust us,” say government officials, patting us on our heads.

This is not democratic control of police.

2. Gabrielle Horne

Photo: Halifax Examiner
Photo: Halifax Examiner

“A jury has awarded a Halifax doctor what is believed to be the largest award ever for a loss of reputation lawsuit,” reports Marieke Walsh for Global:

Dr. Gabrielle Horne was awarded $1.4 million in damages and $167,000 for legal fees incurred between 2002 and 2006. The money was awarded in a lawsuit against the Nova Scotia Health Authority, which took ten years to get to court. The damages were awarded for ‘bad faith’, meaning that the damage to Horne’s reputation and career was caused intentionally.

Stephen Kimber detailed Horne’s case in a Coast feature article way back in 2006. More recently, he wrote:

It would be comforting to believe Horne’s tragic, frustrating case is simply the result of a one-off personality conflict.

But it isn’t.  There’s a recent damning report into three separate cases of doctors “practicing in unrelated specialties and holding joint appointments” at Dal and the Capital Health. It concluded that, while the cases may have begun as personal disagreements, the result has been “a collective and systemic failure of policy, process, and academic administrative culture.”

Kimber will no doubt have much more to say in his Tuesday column at Metro.

3. Examineradio, episode 66

Vice Canada’s Justin Ling
Vice Canada’s Justin Ling

This week we speak with Justin Ling, Vice Canada’s Parliamentary Reporter. In the past month he’s written a series of articles highlighting the RCMP’s ability to intercept cellphone calls and messages, and how they’re using the courts to try to continue taking advantage of this technology.

Listen here:
[iframe style=”border:none” src=”” height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]
(direct download)
(RSS feed)
(Subscribe via iTunes)

4. Dog

The very first day of the year that could remotely be called hot, and sure enough:

Halifax Regional Police say an out-of-province driver was ticketed for leaving his animal roasting in a hot vehicle on Saturday afternoon.

According to Sgt. Nancy Rudback, police were called about a dog being left in a hot car for ‘several hours’ at Spring Garden Road and Dresden Row. When an officer arrived on scene, bystanders had just opened an unlocked door and freed the animal, with the panting pooch immediately given water.

The owner of the dog and vehicle received a $693.95 ticket.

5. Nichols Lake Trail

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 7.59.09 AM

The city this morning issued a tender offer for construction of a trail around Nichols Lake, behind the Prospect Community Centre.


1. Wormwood’s

Peter Gaskin and Wormwoods founder Gordon Parsons. PHoto: Ron Foley MacDonald
Peter Gaskin and Wormwoods founder Gordon Parsons. Photo: Ron Foley MacDonald

“Wormwoods Dog & Monkey Cinema closed in 1998,” writes Ron Foley MacDonald:

That’s almost 20 years ago, and Halifax is no closer to finding an adequate 7-day-a-week replacement specialty motion picture house.

It’s a disheartening situation, considering Wolfville has a thriving independent cinema scene at the Al Whittle Theatre, which provides a vigorous level of non-mainstream programming. Despite the Atlantic Film Festival, the Halifax Independent Film Festival, and weekly screenings by the Carbon Arc from October to April, neither the private sector nor the public sector have managed to re-create in Halifax what Gordon Parsons and a smattering of Atlantic Film Co-op people put together in the mid 1970s.

[…] Why, in a city with a metropolitan area population of four hundred thousand, we can’t have a functioning specialty cinema tells you a great deal about what is and what is not possible in Halifax, and the priorities of our current ruling class.

I don’t know if Wormwoods has an apostrophe or not. MacDonald posted a ticket from the theatre that uses an apostrophe, but in his text he doesn’t use an apostrophe, and he worked there for years so I guess he would know. Nova Scotia drives copy editors crazy.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

The closing of the Scotsburn plant in Sydney brings home several sad truths concerning economic policy in Cape Breton.

In a more tragic sense it demonstrates how corporate greed causes unnecessary tragedy in the lives of people. It is sometimes a good thing to step back and look at a situation in its proper light and perspective. Let me try to do so here.

We have a product that is in high local demand. Namely, milk and milk by-products. We have an established plant that produces these products. We have the raw material. We have a skilled workforce. The product, the milk and related products makes a profit at its plant while providing good paying jobs to its workforce. Sounds good so far, would you not agree?

However, while presumably good, it was not quite good enough for a corporation intent on monopolizing a market with no concern for corporate responsibility. Let me be clear. Profits are necessary for any company. Monopoly profiteering though is not and its occurrence leads to decay, economic stagnation and eventual irreversible decline.

That company is the multi-national Saputo and well prior to its acquisition of Scotsburn rumours of the soon-to-be purchase were making the rounds. It was suggested that the deal was based on Saputo’s desire to acquire and control market share. Both Saputo and Scotsburn, of course, denied the entire thing. Then it happened. Afterward Saputo made it clear that it had every intention of keeping the plant open. It was profitable after all and the suggestion that they could inflate that profit by shipping milk in from the mainland would not come in to play. Still, the plant, strangely enough, is scheduled to close.

Local politicians then played their usual game of pretending how concerned they were, suggesting that “something should be done.” Had they had the foresight to smell the rat at the beginning of the process maybe something could have been done. A private-public partnership in this profitable enterprise would have been the ideal solution. Milk production and marketing is a heavily regulated supply-management sector. Such a partnership would work but that would take some planning and insight, two things in apparent short supply among our political careerists.

So we face another tragedy where the primary breadwinners in many families are left without work, their futures uncertain and through it all they were lied to by two companies and let down through the ignorance of their political representatives.

I know these people, having worked with them for the past three years. They are good and decent people. They are not merely “100 jobs.” They are parents, they volunteer their time in various activities in your community, they are your neighbors, their children go to our schools, they buy your goods and services and they are part of your community. It is time we take hold of situations of this sort and seek some meaningful change in the way things are done.

Scott MacFadgen, Albert Bridge



Police Commission (12:30pm, City Hall) — not talking about much, including the identity of the man who died in police custody last week, or the circumstances of the death. You’d think police commissioners might care about such a thing.

Accessibility Committee (4pm, City Hall) — there are no staff reports posted on the online agenda.

Public information meeting (7pm, Basinview Drive Community School Cafeteria) — the North West Planning Advisory Committee is revealing details about proposed zoning changes for the area along the Bedford Highway north of the Bedford Place Mall.

Blue Mountain — Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness (7pm, Future Inns Halifax Hotel & Conference Centre, 30 Fairfax Drive) — this is the public’s opportunity to express its outrage about the proposal to develop the area. The city’s event page explains that:

Regional Council is seeking public feedback on an independent facilitator’s report regarding negotiation of the proposed boundaries for a regional park in Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes.  The feedback will be used to inform Council’s decision on next steps.

A public presentation on the facilitator’s report will be provided on Monday, June 20, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. at the Future Inns Aspin/Birch Room, 30 Fairfax Drive, Halifax, Nova Scotia.  

Please note that verbal comments from the public will not be recorded at the presentation. All feedback must be submitted in writing to the Municipal Clerk by mail, P.O. Box 1749, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 3A5; by fax, 902-490-4208; or by e-mail,

Written submissions must be received by the Municipal Clerk’s office no later than 3:00 p.m. on Monday, July 4, 2016.  For any written submissions exceeding three standard letter sized pages in length, thirty (30) copies must be supplied to the Municipal Clerk’s office.

I’m not sure what the point of the meeting is if public comments won’t be recorded, but I’m planning to go anyway.


No public meetings.

On Campus

Dalhousie Thesis defense, Engineering (9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Alkailani Omer will defend his thesis, “Development of Nonlinear Finite Difference Model for Chloride Diffusion in Concrete.”

Thesis defense, Engineering (1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Mumuni Amadu will defend his thesis, “Carbon Geological Sequestration in Saline Aquifers: Effect of Rock Minerology on Wettability Change Trend and Implication for Efficient Storage in Different Aquifers.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:35am Monday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:35am Monday. Map:

4:30am: OOCL Washington, sails from Pier 41 to Cagliari, Italy
5:30am: Asian King, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
6am: CMA CGM Tancredi, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Tanger Med, Morocco
4:30PM: Asian King, car carrier, sails from Autoport to sea
4:30pm: CMA CGM Tancredi, container ship, sails from Pier 41 to sea


I predict that yesterday will turn out to be the warmest day of 2016.

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  1. The most important story today is the unreported death of a 41 year old man in police custody.

    I totally agree that the policy must be challenged. I would not hold my breath, however, knowing the mindset of most people in this area, many of whom weren’t taught much about fundamental rights and the like.

    And how indeed can SIRT conduct any investigation properly without publicly identifying any subjects of their investigation? Don’t these types of investigations rely on members of the public to come forward with information??

    1. I’m not sure in this case, but very often trails are constructed by local volunteer trails groups that have no other income besides the money government pays them to build trails. It’s a kind of subsidy.

      1. Absolutely. I’m a member of a group of volunteers who are helping to build the new mountain biking and hiking trails near McIntosh Run. We bring in groups like the IMBA to lead workshops on proper trail construction for the terrain for watercourse sustainability and drainage and other factors. Makes more sense for the volunteers who will be maintaining the trails to take part in the construction too. In my experience, municipal and provincial gov’ts do not understand the need to build trails for multiple technical ability levels. Not everything should be a gravel path 3’+ wide, as was built at Long Lake.

        1. So am I right that the tender offer is just (rightly) complying with tender rules, but the local trail group has the expertise or at least local knowledge and desire to win the tender at lowest cost?


    An out-of-province person probably got held up by whatever they were trying to do downtown. And I bet they won’t be back, if they can help it. HRM doesn’t care.

    Look, I am just as concerned about dogs and their care as much as anybody in this town. Possibly even more. God knows I’ve sacrificed my career, my home, and my future for it. And I say, sure, ticket people for leaving their dogs in a hot car – especially if there is no water and the windows aren’t open enough. (Today there happens to be a very good stiff breeze.)

    But count me out when – as usual – HRM uses it as yet another money grab. $693.95 is far, far, far too much! Demonstrably excessive, by any comparison!!! And it’s not a standard amount, evidently.

    Very recently I saw a report of another ticket given for the same reason to a local person in an amount close to $500 and I said the same thing – far too high. Given the different amounts, seems to me we’re seeing unfair and arbitrary enforcement (yet again) with no rhyme or reason.

    Doubtless the police knew today’s ticketed person is of course unlikely to be able to return to challenge the ticket in court on those or other grounds. Which stinks. A lot.

  3. I see nothing but apostrophes in the Wormwood’s text, maybe it’s since been edited. Interesting read.

  4. The Police Commission Agenda and documents were distributed to members several days prior to the death in the cells.
    Perhaps the family did not want the name released.
    Good meeting today; too bad the press missed it other than 2 journos who didn’t really understand the importance of an agenda item.

  5. The cranky letter of Scott MacFadgen succinctly presented the impacts of consolidations and take-overs. Inevitably this is done by companies from outside our region and which have an urban mind-set oozing from their corporate culture. They have an excess of capacity and they look to fill that capacity by acquiring smaller companies and then they cut work-force accordingly, always with the rationale being that they must be competitive. The politicians in these rural areas and in the province enable this to occur; they do not see the writing on the wall, or if they do, they ignore it; such is the success of the lobbying efforts of the mega-corporations!
    In Pictou County we have seen Scotsburn Dairy leave Scotsburn village; we have also seen an attempt by some in the County with support from some in the province for an amalgamation of four municipal units- not even the entire County would have been amalgamated. Well, that effort failed because many saw the flaws in this- not just a flawed process, but a narrow view of what our future needs to look like. Amalgamation was defeated soundly and it had a lot to do with those in the rural area wanting to remain, proudly, rural and productive.

    Meanwhile, we are left to live in an economic state that is regulated by the terms of NAFTA which means that the paper mill in Port Hawkesbury has had to shut down for a bit because of lower world prices AND BECAUSE OF TARIFF CONSIDERATIONS- read ‘effects of free-trade agreement’. Our capacity to produce railcars, once a strength of the CAR WORKS in Trenton, N.S. , has been lost because practically all of that production is done in Mexico- a big fat NO THANKS to Greenbrier and NAFTA. Now, we have a need to refurbish and enhance the DOT 111’s and no capacity in Canada to do it because it was negotiated away by the Mulroney Conservatives and endorsed by every ruling government in Canada since the Mulroney era. Mr. MacFadgen is right to point out the need to anticipate the negatives with consolidations,take-overs and amalgamations. His warnings should be instructive to areas considering that bigger has got to be better; it rarely is! As Thomas Pawlick in his book, The War in the Country, states- there is, on-going, a fight to save rural life that will shape our future. We had better learn from what Pawlick and , now Scott MacFadgen, have warned us about; it’s time to wake up and speak up! Thanks Examiner for getting this out there!

  6. I’ve never understood how we don’t have a true repertory or art-house cinema in town. I don’t think it says anything about “what is and what is not possible in Halifax,” (if it’s possible in Wolfville, it’s possible here) but it sucks.

    It’s always struck me as bizarre that our own little storefront cinema, the Oxford, is owned by Cineplex.

  7. We really need to save the Birch Cove / Blue Mountain area. It really is a treasure. We do seem to be good at deciding the prices of things but not the value of them.

  8. I doubt it was fear of Gottingen St that caused the drop in Wormwoods attendance. It was just harder to get to Gottingen St than to Barrington St — fewer buses and no crosstown bus from West End. I never stopped going to Wormwoods but used to grumble about the inconvenient location, especially when it was raining or cold.

  9. I remember seeing ‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God’ at Wormwoods Dog and Monkey Cinema in the late ’70s. Were they in the Khyber building then? So long ago that I can’t remember. It is a shame that a city like Halifax doesn’t have a specialty cinema.