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On campus
Noticed
In the harbour
Footnotes


News

1. Dal Dental School scandal

Four female students in the fourth year of the Dalhousie Dental program have written an open letter to the university administration, saying they reject the restorative justice process the university has embarked upon:

…we do not wish for the sexual harassment and discrimination perpetrated by members of our class to be dealt with through this restorative justice process or under the Sexual Harassment Policy. We feel that the University is pressuring us into this process, silencing our views, isolating us from our peers, and discouraging us from choosing to proceed formally. This has perpetuated our experience of discrimination. This approach falls far below what we expected from you, and what we believe we deserve.

Telling us that we can either participate in restorative justice or file a formal complaint is presenting us with a false choice. We have serious concerns about the impact of filing formal complaints on our chances of academic success at the Faculty of Dentistry, and believe that doing so would jeopardize our futures. The reason we have not filed formal complaints is also the reason we have not signed our names to this letter.

The four further claim that women “directly affected” by the Facebook posts still have not been notified:

We are also concerned that the University has been in possession of a copy of the Facebook posts since December 12, 2014, but has not conducted any form of investigation into the matter. The University has also declined to disclose to us (“those most directly affected”) the full extent of what it does know. We have not been provided with a full copy of the Facebook posts that affect us, despite the fact that the men, and the media, have them. We are concerned that this lack of investigation and disclosure has led to the re-victimization of women in our class, and to a failure to properly identify both those responsible for and those affected by this conduct. Not all of the men involved have been identified to the University, and not all of the women affected have been properly informed.

The Dalhousie Gazette makes the same point in its interview with university president Richard Florizone: “It’s still unclear when or whether women Dalhousie students were informed they appeared in the group’s offensive postings.”

2. Andrew Younger

Energy Minister Andrew Younger’s abrupt and secretive leave of absence is related to an alleged assault, several media outlets are reporting. The Chronicle Herald’s Michael Gorman gives the most detailed account:

Tara Gault

Sources with information about the incident say a former Liberal staffer assaulted Younger at a party more than a year ago. Police conducted an investigation this past November and ultimately arrested a woman in December.

[…]

Halifax Regional Police spokesman Const. Pierre Bourdages would not confirm the names of the victim or the accused because the case has not been sworn in court. He did say the alleged incident took place in Halifax in October 2013, but police were unaware anything had happened until Nov. 19, 2014.

[…]

He said they started to investigate this alleged assault after “information came to police through another investigation.”

CBC reports that the alleged assault “happened at a celebration to mark the Liberals being sworn into office in October 2013” and that the second investigation involves recent “threats made against Younger.”

Andrew Younger

AllNovaScotia.com first reported that the arrested woman is Tara Gault. Gault’s LinkedIn page says she worked as a policy analyst for the Liberal party from October 2008 to July 2011, and is now a law student articling with the city’s legal department. Previously, Gault was involved in student government at Dalhousie and ran unsuccessfully for student body president in 2008.

A conviction on an assault charge would likely end Gault’s legal career before it begins.

Younger was first elected as a city councillor for Dartmouth in 2004, reelected in 2008, and was elected to the legislature in 2009. He easily won reelection to the legislature in the Liberal’s 2013 sweep into power.

Premier Stephen McNeil’s office refuses to comment further on Younger’s leave of absence, but his spokesperson told the CBC that Younger is free to speak about it, if he so wishes—”It’s totally up to him.”

I had been under the impression that Younger was facing health issues. That may be the case, and in such situations a degree of privacy is warranted. But given yesterday’s revelations, Younger should more fully explain the situation. He is, after all, still receiving a ministerial salary.

3. Pictou

“The Pictou County Cruise Line Committee revealed this week that Pearl Seas cruiseline has booked 10 stops here for this year, with four of them overnight stays,” reports the New Glasgow News. “Add to that, Geralyn MacDonald, a co-chair on the committee, reports that Pictou County has been getting some great press in magazines specializing in the cruise industry describing it as a hidden gem.”

Huh. Wait. What?

Er, how did the cruise ship magazine writers miss, um, well, this?:

Photo: Halifax Examiner

4. Heat wave

It’s as cold as it ever gets in Halifax right now, but Frankie MacDonald is forecasting an especially strong Bermuda High in a few months, leading to temperatures “well above 30 degrees” with very high humidity much of the summer. “Drink lots of water, and wear sunscreen,” he warns.


Views

1. The Quinpool comet

Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald recalls a close call.

2. Sawmill

The city should get fully involved in efforts to daylight Sawmill River, says Paul Schneidereit.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

My other top weasel words:

Craft: Nobody makes anything anymore; they craft everything, i.e. sandwiches, economic policies, etc.

Impact: You can’t use effect or affect anymore. Issue/struggle/woe/challenge. No more problems.

Source: No longer procured. Locally sourced handcrafted artisanal bread.

Dave Stephan, Dartmouth


Government

City

North West Planning Advisory Committee (7pm, Sackville Library)—the committee will be looking at more proposed tweaks to the Bedford West development.

Province

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Do you know where your walrus is? (3:30pm, 5th Floor Lounge, Life Sciences Centre)—Brendan Rideout, a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, will talk about “Passive acoustic localization and blind impulse response estimation using marine mammal vocalizations.” Says the abstract:

Localizing marine mammals using passive acoustics has been a topic of interest to the scientific and marine industrial communities for at least the last 40 years.  When an underwater sound is recorded at one or more underwater acoustic recorders, the relative arrival times of the direct and interface-reflected (i.e., reflected off the surface and/or bottom one or more times) acoustic energy inform us about the underwater acoustic environment (such as source and receiver locations and water depth).  When the sound in question is impulsive (i.e., broadband and of short duration), such as sperm whale clicks and walrus knocks, identifying these arrival times can be straightforward.  However, for non-impulsive vocalizations (e.g., humpback whale calls), identifying arrival times can be difficult, particularly for high order arrivals.

In this talk, a Bayesian time of arrival-based localization approach will be presented and demonstrated using Pacific walrus knocks recorded in the Chukchi Sea (NW of Alaska).  Ongoing work on estimating ocean waveguide impulse responses using non-impulsive vocalizations, which may lead to estimating arrival times for these more difficult calls, will also be discussed.

This is by far the coolest thing happening in Halifax today.


Noticed

(direct link to this section)
Victor Hwang is the Executive Director of the Global Innovation Summit + Week, which is a Silicon Valley summit of bullshitters and backslappers “building the new economy,” which apparently consists entirely of consultants employing each other on the public’s dime and telling the public how to think. Hwang got himself hired as a consultant for Greater Halifax Partnership, and has written an op-ed on the unvetted and unedited section of the Forbes website, praising his employer and talking about, no shit, GHP’s “bold” leadership. It’s a virtual laugh riot (my comments in italics):

Victor Hwang

Kevin McIntyre of the Greater Halifax Partnership sees the enemy as deeply-rooted pessimism, and a “zero-sum culture” that encourages competition rather than cooperation. McIntyre hates capitalism.

[…]

By focusing on culture, Halifax is going straight to core of its economic issues. Rebooting culture is the equivalent of pushing control-alt-delete on the human operating system of a community. To do this, however, means rewriting its social contract. Social contracts are the fractal equation that determines, among other things, whether a region’s economic ecosystem is based on innovation (creating the new) versus production (optimizing the old). Rebooting! Rewriting the social contract! Fractals, people: FRACTALS! 

[…]

There is a vibrant art scene that bursts with creative ideas. And a new $35-$40 billion shipbuilding contract has injected renewed energy and sense of purpose. Vibrant! Purpose!

But all these free-floating elements need to be culturally synthesized. If anyone knows what “culturally synthesized” means will you please move to a moon of Saturn?

[…]

Even a slight shift in the thinking of a few thousand people can have broad implications in a community. McIntyre realizes that, and it’s something he’s taken to heart. He says, “You have to walk the walk.” Hopefully it’s a long, pleasant walk, on a short pier.

“And if you’re saying the ecosystem and the community have to live within the bold promise, then you have to do it yourself. Every now and then, I hold a mirror up and ask myself if I’m living the bold promise. It’s a personal challenge and a city challenge.” I thought vampires couldn’t see themselves in a mirror?

Hwang is celebrating GHP’s “Bold Promise” initiative, of which I will have much to say, should GHP ever respond to my questions—I guess they feel it’s bold to ignore questions from critical reporters—but the promise is this:

By taking the Bold Promise, I commit to be part of a movement of people who believe in a better Halifax; one that is open to new people, new ideas and a new economy. A bright future for Halifax starts with me.

1. Be Positive
2. Challenge Pessimism
3. Trust And Be Trusted
4. Collaborate
5. Pay It Forward
6. Celebrate Success

GHP is hoping to get 100,000 people to sign this pantload of feel-good crap. Let’s rewrite it in plain English:

1. Unquestioningly support anything coming out of the mucky muck’s untendered PR campaign.
2. Attack critics of mucky muckdom.
3. Pay no attention to that untendered PR campaign.
4. Do as I say.
5. Scratch each other’s crotches.
6. Let’s do this again.

Like I said, I’ll have more to say about this should mucky muckdom ever answer my questions, but I’m told the campaign is actually originating out of city offices, but all the work, such as it is, is being done at the Revolve PR firm. Anyway, here are my unanswered questions:

1. What’s the budget for the campaign, and where is the money coming from?
2. Who is administering it?
3. How were the endorsing organizations chosen? Can any organization endorse the campaign, or is there some vetting system?
4. Are the endorsing organizations contributing financially to the campaign?
5. Who came up with the six points in the Bold Promise? Was the wording approved by the GHP board? By city council?
6. What is being done with with the names, email addresses and company names collected through the promise?
7. Is there an explicit goal for the campaign? How will GHP measure results and value for money?
8. I have a critique of the campaign as follows: The campaign elevates “positivity” as the highest community good, with “pessimism” derided, and we’re to “trust,” well, everyone apparently. Apparently, the idea is that Halifax citizens have a bad attitude, and we must cajole them into a better attitude. But the campaign seems to devalue, or even disparage, questioning, critique and contrary opinions for whatever the party line is.
Could you respond to that critique?

I’ll add to that:

9. How much was Victor Hwang paid, and for what? Was he hired through a competitive bidding process?
10. What’s the city’s budget for this campaign? How much city staff time is involved?
11. What is Revolve being paid, and was Revolve hired through a competitive bidding process?

I guess now we sit around and wait for answers together.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 7:30am Wednesday. Map: marinetraffic.com

Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, Saint-Pierre to Pier 42
Apollon, bulker, Quebec to Autoport
Atlantic Concert, container ship, Liverpool, England to Fairview Cove
Bahri Jazan, cargo ship, Baltimore to Pier 30
Zim Qingdao, container ship, Valencia, Spain to HalTerm


Footnotes

I think I’ll be on with Sheldon MacLeod today, News 95.7 at 4pm. I say “think” because we haven’t yet confirmed, but that’s our usual Wednesday meet-up.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. The tech age definition of a social contract is laughable.

    Call me old fashioned but I thought it meant the captains of industry knew they needed people to run their business and make a profit. They reimbursed employees and took pride in a work culture that respected those who helped them become wealthy.

    That seems no longer to be the case. Silicon Valley start ups like Uber seem to be particular in their contempt for that model.

    Keep GHP and the city’s feet to the fire. Accountabilty is important in an age of unaccountable PR.

  2. What weasel words are these:
    “Social contracts are the fractal equation that determines, among other things, whether a region’s economic ecosystem is based on innovation (creating the new) versus production (optimizing the old). ”

    The concept of a social contract is well understood under capitalism as the idea that society will make minimal provisions (health care, schools, pedestrian crosswalks, etc) in exchange for workers accepting the inequality of the system. It is indeed something that needs to be rewritten since the spread between workers and owners has returned to that of the gilded age, but fractals? I am sure it is really about innovating us away from whatever basic social structure we may have. How do these clowns not get laughed out of the room when this nonsense is uttered? Or is it all a gag to see how dumb we are (trickle down economics, anyone?).

    1. Are you sure Hwang came from Silicon Valley, and not the Mike Judge parody show about it? That’s some next-level techspeak right there.

  3. Re Dal Dental School Scandal, the various reasons females have given for refusing to file formal complaints are concerning, and have been for me since this story broke. Reasons cited vary from academic retribution to negative career impact. If fear for personal safety is among them, I don’t recall reading that. While it’s never easy to stand up and out, and be attacked for it, it IS possible, and to endure, perhaps even finding surprising, unexpected support. (Been there, been called a “cunt,” told to “get the fuck back in the kitchen where I belonged,” told “I was an ungrateful bitch,” and was verbally threatened, both by fellow residents fearing for their housing security, and on a much more subtle level, by government reps with whom I was in conflict.)

    Our civilian processes are not (yet) immune from public pressure, the perception of fairness, and the justice system. Legal protection is available, even pro bono if one can find it. There is good Nova Scotia legal reference information on this page: http://www.legalinfo.org/.

    I’d like to see Dal female students come out of anonymous shadows and find the courage to stand up and confront. They’ll have to expect ugly censure, unfair and unfounded criticism, but they’ll create an irreversible turning point in this, and will be leaders in breaking open underground misogyny and secret, back-door, second-class justice.

  4. Pantload of feel-good crap from bullshitters and backslappers.

    You got that right.

    I suppose the appalling use of language simply reflects inability to think with clarity and insight.

    1. Haha, exactly. Halifax will never be bold, it’s median age is far too old. Only the old think being “bold” is the solution to our problems, and in that case, bold is simply a euphemism for the status quo.
      Bold is moving somewhere bold. I’ve given up on Halifax becoming progressive, and I’m not the only young person working on their escape plan.

  5. A room full of Liberals and not a single one of them said a thing about this alleged assault?

    Or maybe the alleged assault happened in a separate room, away from the party, and only the MLA and the staffer were there — why would a Liberal staffer high on victory attack a newly re-elected Liberal MLA? Further to that, why would said staffer attack an MLA who is physically imposing?

    Fishy, fishy, fishy.

    1. And one that is pursuing a law degree.
      I find it very fishy too.
      There’s a lot more to come I suspect.

    1. I’m ashamed to live in a city that is naive enough to buy into even one sentence of Hwang’s empty drivel.

  6. Re:No more problems

    I worked for a aluminum framed/fruit themed computer company that had a list of banned words in print and on the phone. Problem was at the top of the list.

    Its an issue.

    Next on the list was bug, virus those were unidentified system issues.

    Next was “unfortunately” because that implied something could be out of the rather eccentric CEO’s control.

  7. “Telling us that we can either participate in restorative justice or file a formal complaint is presenting us with a false choice. ”

    Do they’ve been given another option (file a formal complaint) and it’s not good enough either?

    Those are literally the only two things the university can do. Its a dichotomy, not a false dichotomy.

    1. The University’s Sexual Harassment Policy says clearly that it is the responsibility of the President and other senior officials to take action when they learn of sexual harassment, whether there is a formal complaint or not. The Chronicle Herald pointed this out in an editorial a week or so ago, and the policy is readily available. The four students say they do not want to participate in restorative justice and are concerned about negative consequences for themselves if they file formal complaints. In this circumstance, there is a third way, which is for the administration to file the complaint an start the disciplinary process. Suspending access to the clinics is a start.

      1. There has also been a formal complaint by 4 faculty members which the University can act on. They however want to bully the women into a Restorative Justice scam designed to keep all names private, allow for an everyone is happy public statement and make this all go away. However with licensing boards across the country demanding the names of these men it will be interesting to see if Dal finally wakes up and deals with this in a mature and professional manner. These are not boys, they are graduates in a professional program they deserve the same consequences they would get in a professional workplace.

        1. They wouldn’t lose their license forever in real life though. They would get a fine, sensitivity training, and if there were no further violations, that would be the end of it.

          These guys are being made to bear the responsibility for an issue with society.

          1. If you were to do this to your coworkers in any company I have worked for you would be shown the door, period. Companies are not fooling around with sexual harassment anymore as they leave themselves open to lawsuit. If they were disciplined by a professional organization such as accountants, dentists, doctors or investment advisers their names would be published. That often ends careers as well. These are not little boys they are supposed to be professionals, having them lose their careers is no great loss to society. Having people not take sexual assault seriously is a major issue. I prefer to err on the side of safety.

      2. Well, the administration doing something isn’t something the students can do. That’s not their “choice” per se and not being witheld from them. It should happen, and is happening. Remember how they were suspended from clinical activities?

      3. Here is the exchange from when I mentioned to Florizone that he had the option of filing a Code of Student Conduct complaint:

        Gazette: You believe the restorative justice process is part of a broader approach, as opposed to possibly, you could have had the option of filing a Code of Conduct complaint yourself, right?

        Florizone: Yeah. No, we considered all those options carefully. And we continue to. As you know, we’ve got other complaints coming forward, and we will deal with each of them according to the law and according to policy. But what we are aiming to do is to make the best decisions with all the information we have, with good internal and external legal advice, to figure out the option that supports a just process, that has the best likelihood of reaching a significant outcome, and that will actually lead to this broader conversation.

    2. Well Florizone could start showing as much concern for the women involved as he does for the men and for Dal’s – and his – reputation. Unfortunately his attempt to sweep it all under restorative “justice” has failed and has just about destroyed his and his university’s reputation. My guess is that the lawyers for the men got to Florizone early on and he crumbled rather than stand up for what is right. Since the government of Nova Scotia (= taxpayers) pays a good part of the freight for this program whose students seem primarily to be from elsewhere in Canada (and who will undoubtedly never practice here) shouldn’t it be demanding that Dal do the right thing?