In the harbour
1. Aidan Cromwell’s murder conviction quashed
Appellant court Justices Duncan Beveridge, Jamie Saunders, and Elizabeth Van den Eynden yesterday overturned the second-degree murder conviction of Aidan Cromwell.
Cromwell was convicted in 2014 for the 2012 murder of Marc Bernard Tremblay.
Cromwell was represented on appeal by Jerome Kennedy, the Newfoundland lawyer who first championed the cause of Glen Assoun, the man who was convicted for the murder of Brenda Way and spent 16 years in prison before being released in what a judge ruled was a “probable miscarriage of justice.” The murder of Way and Assoun’s conviction are the subject of the Examiner’s DEAD WRONG series.
Read the full article about Cromwell’s quashed conviction here.
I was the only reporter in the courtroom yesterday. Had the Chronicle Herald not forced its newsroom workers into a defensive strike, police reporter Dan Arsenault and court reporter Steve Bruce would’ve no doubt been all over this story. But Arsenault has now been hired away to work in allnovascotia.com’s Newfoundland bureau, and Bruce is walking the picket line. The CBC’s court reporter, Blair Rhodes, had the day off yesterday, and the reporting ranks are now so slim that there was no one to step in, although Preston Mulligan, who wasn’t present for the hearing, re-reported my story yesterday evening. I was at the court hearing, but almost by happenstance: I’ve been following Kennedy’s work because of the DEAD WRONG series, and El Jones has kept me apprised of Cromwell’s situation.
This is the sad state of reporting today in Halifax: very often, there is not a single reporter in the courthouse. I’ve been trying to swing by the Law Courts building most every day just to make sure the most important court filings aren’t completely missed — that’s why the Examiner was the only media outlet to report on the 13 prisoners who filed a habeas corpus application to end a lockdown at the Burnside jail — but I don’t have the time or background knowledge to do the job correctly; it takes an experienced beat reporter who has spent years developing connections and sources.
Nova Scotia’s police and justice systems are, well, flawed. Glen Assoun spent 16 years in prison for a murder he probably didn’t commit, I suspect there has been at least one other wrongful murder conviction, and there are dozens of unsolved murders. The courts need scrutiny, and every lawyer and judge would agree that the open court system is necessary to gain public trust in the justice system— and yet the press is failing at the job.
2. Dexter charged in clear-cutting
“Three Nova Scotia companies face charges after clearcutting was discovered in a Halifax County provincial park late last year,” reports JoAnn Alberstat for Local Xpress:
Bedford’s Dexter Construction Co. Ltd., Scott & Stewart Forestry Consultants Ltd. and Resource Tech Inc., both of Antigonish County, are charged under the Crown Lands Act with illegal tree-cutting. Resource Tech is a subsidiary of St. Andrew’s-based Scott & Stewart.
The clearcutting allegedly occurred last November in Long Lake Provincial Park. An area of 3.8 hectares of Crown land was affected.
The wood was valued at just $4,000, but the loss to the park is immeasurable.
Dexter Construction is one of the most powerful corporations in the province. It gets much of the paving and reconstruction work tendered by both the city and province, and through its subsidiary, Mirror NS, it operates the Otter Lake dump. In 2011, Mirror was awarded a 14-year contract to operate the dump; that contract is expected to cost the city $392.8 million dollars, which includes a guaranteed profit of 20 per cent annually.
It’s hard to see how a multi-million dollar company can get tripped up on a comparatively minor $4,000 lumber job, but the company isn’t talking.
“Halifax Coun. Linda Mosher admits she bought the internet domain names of a potential rival in the upcoming October election,” reports Shaina Luck for the CBC:
The councillor for Halifax West Armdale said she made the decision based on bad information from a “website adviser.”
On Friday, CBC News reported that a man who plans to run for the District 9 seat discovered the .com and .ca domains associated with his name had been bought by Mosher.
Shawn Cleary told CBC News he was unhappy to find out shawncleary.com and shawncleary.ca had been taken by someone with Mosher’s name and home address. Cleary said he thought it was “dirty” politics.
In her community newsletter hosted at halifax.ca, Mosher violated the first rule of being stuck in a hole— she kept digging:
Recently I made the decision, based on recommendations from a website advisor, to register the internet domain names (.ca and .com) of a known candidate for the 2016 municipal election.
This type of campaign tactic is not something that I would normally do, nor even think of doing. In all my previous municipal campaigns I have maintained a positive, “high road” campaign despite some extremely negative campaigns by other candidates. I was ill-advised to use this means to address potential misinformation and negative statements that may arise during the campaign. However, it was my decision and I should not have used it.
However, based on constituent feedback, I can now see how some people misinterpret my intention and understand how they are disappointed with my decision to register these domain names. Notwithstanding political attacks on me which have been at times unfair, lacking in balance, and suffused with misinformation,
I am proud of my record as a HRM Councillor. My decisions with respect to the domain names were intended for posting of factual and accurate information to counter any misinformation that may be circulating in the upcoming election. I see now that the proper venue to continue to display the facts is my own website.
I have worked very hard to advance the interests of not only my constituents but the whole of the HRM. And I have always done it by attempting to the best of my abilities to keep to the moral high road and to keep the political discourse fair, substantive and respectful.
As an elected official it is important to listen to resident feedback. I respect the resident opinions that have been expressed and in this spirit of fairness, I am releasing the two domain names. I look forward to the upcoming campaign that focuses on real issues and opportunities facing the residents of Halifax and District 9.
I now consider the matter closed and I will have no further comment.
“I now consider the matter closed”? Is that how that works? Huh.
Mosher also wasn’t texting.
4. Right whales
The endangered right whales have disappeared, reports Paul Withers for the CBC:
There are only 500 right whales left and their migratory patterns have recently shifted, leaving scientists wondering where the whales have gone.
“When you are dealing with a population of 500 animals that is slow to reproduce this is a cause for significant concern,” said Sean Brillant of the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
In 2015, very few were seen in their traditional summer feeding grounds near New Brunswick’s Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin off southern Nova Scotia.
“This caused a lot of shock and surprise,” Brillant said. “People want to know where did they go. We have the Americans asking where are the whales? They are in your waters.”
It’s believed the behemoths are chasing food, specifically a variety of zooplankton called copepods. Several dozen right whales were spotted off the tip of Gaspé, Que., in 2015. American scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be up in the air over the Gulf of St Lawrence in 2016.
The ocean is telling us stuff, none of it good.
5. More on buses
Yesterday, I mentioned that there was a federal announcement of gas tax money being spent on buses, and speculated that this was new money. It apparently isn’t. Rather, the announcement was just a political photo-op for money that normally flows into city coffers. I’m assuming Erica Butler will have more today.
1. Bramber Weir
In a world of virtual, authentic, brag-worthy experiences are treasure. We had one recently: walking on the ocean floor to witness fish captured using a millennia old, weir fishing technique. The adventure was organized by Afishionado, the folks who offer sustainably caught seafood in Halifax. The weir was at Bramber on the shores of the Minis Basin where the tides of the Bay of Fundy reach their highest.
The weir is two long lines of posts hung with nets. On a falling tide fish follow the underwater “fences” and end up trapped in a small corral.
At high tide there would be 40 feet of water over our heads. The weir fishes only the bottom eight feet.
Archibald notes that weir owner Darren Porter “is passionate about his fishery and its sustainability” — there is no bycatch, as all unwanted fish are kept in a holding pond and lifted back to the wild with the next high tide — and that Porter “has strong feelings about the planning for tidal power turbines and is powerful in expressing his concerns. If you haven’t heard him yet, you will.”
A quick google search finds this video, in which Porter details how an experimental tidal turbine completely destroyed one population of striped bass:
2. Political power
“If it’s become acceptable — routine really — for developers to apply to bend municipal planning strategy and land use zoning regulations to green-light projects that don’t fit within the rules as they are, should it not be just as possible for ordinary citizens to seek similar exceptions to red-light those who plan to do things zoning laws legally permit but which are not in the public interest?” asks Stephen Kimber.
Kimber goes on to contrast the Willow Tree area, where developers are asking for (and may well get) changes to zoning rules in order to build massive skyscrapers that break the neighbourhood vibe, with Steele Auto’s plan to bulldoze a north end neighbourhood, where objecting citizens are told nothing can be done because the zoning rules allow the bulldozing.
“[I]t’s at least worth noting the power imbalance that exists between developers, who finance most councillors’ election campaigns, and the rest of us who merely vote,” notes Kimber.
On the occasion of CHNS’s 90th birthday, Ron Foley Macdonald recounts the radio station’s history, from the depression, when Hank Snow did the morning show, through Foley Macdonald’s own high school years, when he worked alongside Jerry (Jer Bear) Lawrence, (heard above), to the present.
“A Halifax woman who has plans to get married in the Fall says the wedding dress she reserved has been purchased by HRM city councillor Linda Mosher,” writes Matt Brand:
The bride to be, who has asked to remain anonymous, says she’s dumbfounded by the councillor’s actions, since Mosher doesn’t need the dress.
But Mosher is defending the move to purchase the wedding dress that she has no plans to use, saying she did so based on advice from her campaign manager.
“I just did what my campaign manager told me,” said Mosher, adding, “that’s how I make most of my decisions.”
5. Cranky letter of the day
As a member of a minority group (persons with disabilities), I’m always aware of and concerned by all oppression and discrimination in all its various forms. One form of discrimination noted in the disabled community is ‘systemic discrimination’ — discrimination that is built into the system. It is generally not publicly obvious to others so I feel obligated to point it out when I see it.
Recently, the Pictou County Chapter of Silent Witness presented “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” a film on the women’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s. My wife, Anne, friends and I found it very interesting as we all came of age and lived through that tumultuous blacks’ and women’s liberation era.
We saw this documentary in the impressive theatre hall of the North Nova Education Centre, the new high school in New Glasgow. We had nothing like this theatre when I went to school in the late 1950s. Still, unlike then, there was no way for me to sit with my wife and friends. Most public theatres today leave space in a row to permit someone using a wheelchair to sit with their companions. In my day, we’d have repositioned a light chair or two in our school assembly hall.
So, stuck conspicuously out front on the level by myself, I thought ‘systemic discrimination – strike one.’
Sitting there and looking up at the theatre’s high stage, I thought of Glee, the popular TV show about a high school glee club and of the characters on its stage including a young chap in a wheelchair. I wondered how a North Nova student in a wheelchair would get up on that stage to perform, accept an award or to graduate. Systemic discrimination — strike two? Well, perhaps not, could be just a foul ball if, as in our deCoste Centre, there may be an unseen lift backstage?
After the show, I checked the men’s restroom for accessibility. The larger stall for wheelchair users had a handle properly installed on the hinge side and the inside of its door. Someone in a wheelchair seeking privacy can reach back from inside the stall to pull the door shut in order to fasten the latch. That is good. However, the door’s latch was broken such that, even if closed, no one in a chair could keep the door from swinging back open. Systemic discrimination — strike two.
Easily fixed I suppose, just replace the lock. But when I tried to pull the door shut, it was obviously incorrectly hung. It didn’t fit the door opening. Even a good lock won’t latch a door that doesn’t fit. Systemic discrimination — strike three.
North Nova Education Centre would strike out in baseball. But this is not ball, it’s systemic discrimination. Here there is no umpire to enforce the rules and very few in the crowd of onlookers will notice or much care — except of course, those fellas and gals sitting in their wheelchairs.
Ralph Ferguson, Chair, Let Abilities Work Partnership Society (LAWPS)
Halifax & West Community Council (6pm, City Hall) — the only thing on the agenda is a variance appeal hearing for 1891 Vernon Street.
Law Amendments (11am, Province House) — the committee continues to discuss Bills No. 174 and 177.
Legislature sits (1-10pm, Province House)
Thesis defence, Interdisciplinary Studies (1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jill McSweeney will defend her thesis, “Nurturing Nature and the Human Psyche: Understanding the Physiological, Psychological, and Social Benefits of Indoor Nature Exposure.”
In the harbour
11am: CSL Tacoma, container ship, sails from National Gypsum to sea
Noon: Dalian Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
2pm: Stella Laura, bulker, arrives at anchor for bunkers and inspection from Dunkerque, France
3pm: Atlantic Star, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
3:30pm: Asian King, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Southhampton, England
4pm: NYK Rumina, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
4:30pm: Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro cargo, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
6pm: Stella Laura, bulker, sails from anchorage to sea
11pm: Arctic Breeze, tanker, arrives at anchorage from Paldiski, Estonia
Erica Butler’s transportation column will be published later today.
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The video about the tidal turbines was eye-opening, I’d be interested in reading much more on this.
Are we sure the whales haven’t joined the dolphins in an exodus from Earth just before the Vogons destroy the planet to make way for an inter-galactic highway? Has anyone heard cetaceans singing “So long, and thanks for all the fish”?
Sorry. The sci-fi geek in me could not resist.
Exactly, don’t resist.
> Notwithstanding political attacks on me which have been at times unfair, lacking in balance, and suffused with misinformation,
That piece was so rambling she couldn’t even be bothered to finish her own sentences.
So the matter is “closed”. But did she give the domain names back? And who employs a “website advisor”?
And why is she allowed to use the official halifax.ca website to do obvious political damage control.
Surely that must contravene some electioneering statute.
Oh yeah, I forgot.
Councillors don’t worry about those rules. They make up their own.
It’s such a vacuous piece of text that I too read it once without seeing the only substantive comment. Buried in the penultimate paragraph: “I respect the resident opinions that have been expressed and in this spirit of fairness, I am releasing the two domain names.”
The use of the word “release” is interesting. Domain registrations last for minimum one year. “releasing” them means one month after expiration of the registration (June 2017, for these domains), someone else can register them. In order for Mr. Cleary to use these domains, they will need to be transferred to him (there are other ways to “give” them to him but none that I would accept in his place).
Oh the blathering of Linda Mosher.
Please tell me the people of her district will NOT vote her back in. Enough is enough.
While we’re at it is there any way to set term limits for council. Lord knows the lifers on that august body have surely run out of ideas beyond their own self preservation? (See recent council salary debate/debacle)
Why is it the best councillor (Jennifer Watts) is the one who gets it and is making way (not retiring) for new peeps?
For what it’s worth, I live in her district – just moved here – My husband and I will not be voting for her for 2 reasons: 1. the Cornwallis idiocy; 2. the donair idiocy. I don’t have any of those ‘developer campaign funds’ so my contribution to municipal development is worth 0.
Ralph Ferguson, Keep writing those ‘cranky letters’ .
Please keep us aware of the shortcomings that NEED to be changed. I am very concerned by your letter. This isn’t good enough. Access should be universal. Keep uncovering these short comings so we can all complain to the ‘powers that be’ that aren’t practicing due diligence. Shameful!
The transit media event was quite the Liberal lovefest at the Lacewood terminal in Didtrict 12 (represented by well known Liberal Reg Rankin) with MPs Brison, Fillmore, Fisher,Regan and Mayor Savage. No explanation why the event was not held in downtown Halifax where they were all attending the Canadian Urban Transportation Association annual conference at the Marriott on the waterfront.