1. COVID-19 update

Six new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Nova Scotia yesterday (Thursday, Dec. 17).

Three of the cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone — one is a close contact of a previously reported case, one is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada, and the third case is under investigation.

Two cases are in the Western Zone and are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

The sixth case is in the Northern Zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case.

There are now 50 known active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital with the disease.

Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 2,405 tests Wednesday.

Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

And here is the active caseload for the second wave:

Here is the possible exposure map:

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2. COVID’s billion dollar price tag

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

“The Nova Scotia government is forecasting a deficit of $778.8 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year, a $74 million improvement from its forecast in July,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

A forecasted surplus of $55 million back in February has been wiped out by declining tax revenues and huge expenditures associated with COVID-19.

The government reports additional appropriations to 10 separate departments totalling $970 million — a record increase, according to the Department of Finance. Government is also increasing its authority to borrow by an additional $1 billion, for a total of $2.75 billion, increasing capacity to respond further should there be more fallout from the pandemic. 

While they’re by no means the largest expense, two line items jumped out at me:

For fiscal year 2020-21 to date, increased RCMP costs paid for by Department of Justice are $3.7 million related to the mass shooting and $4.2 million related to violence tied to the ongoing fisheries dispute.

Click here to read “COVID-19 increased government spending by $1 billion this year.”

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3. Cabinet briefs

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Jennifer Henderson also attended yesterday’s post-cabinet scrum with government ministers, reporting that:

“A scaled down version” of the Eden Valley chicken plant where six employees tested positive for COVID-19 last week could re-open before the completion of the 14-day shutdown ordered by the province, according to Health Minister Leo Glavine.

Henderson also reports on the ongoing battle over the Yarmouth ferry and today’s virtual proroguing of the legislature.

Click here to read “Cabinet briefs: Eden Valley, more ferry tales, and politicizing public health measures.”

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4. Food costs

Source: Dalhousie University

“Canadians have decided to ditch the diets, eat more fruits and vegetables, dig into home gardening projects, and donate to food banks more frequently in 2021,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

According to a new report published today by Dalhousie University, those are just a few of the food-related New Year’s resolutions Canadians have committed to as we prepare to kick 2020 to the curb.

Click here to read “How Canadians are shifting food practices to deal with higher costs.”
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5. Downtown development

The Kenny-Dennis Building, at the corner of Granville and George streets, is seen in October 2018. — Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

“Halifax’s design advisory committee has unanimously approved plans for the block including the historic Kenny-Dennis and Acadian Recorder buildings,” reports Zane Woodford:

The committee, tasked with approving downtown Halifax developments, met by teleconference Thursday afternoon to consider Dexel Developments’ proposal, designed by Fathom Studio, for the block bounded by Barrington, George and Granville streets.

Click here to read “Developer’s plans approved for historic downtown Halifax block.”

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6. Dartmouth development

A rendering of the proposal for Prince Albert Road. — Kassner Goodspeed Architects Credit: Kassner Goodspeed Architects

“A proposal for two 12-storey towers in Dartmouth will go to a public hearing despite a staff recommendation against the project,” reports Zane Woodford:

The municipality’s Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council met virtually Wednesday night and considered a development application for a site on Prince Albert Road, across the street from the Braemar Superstore.

Click here to read “Community council rejects staff recommendation, sends 12-storey Dartmouth development to public hearing.”

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7. Bedford development

A photo of Hogan Court in Bedford, looking southeast, from the staff presentation to the community councils last month. Credit: Contributed

“A Halifax developer is asking the provincial utility and review board to overturn two community councils’ decisions to deny its application for more residential units in Bedford,” reports Zane Woodford:

Cresco Holdings Ltd. — the developer behind subdivisions like the Parks of West Bedford and the Ravines of Bedford South — applied to the municipality to add more residential space to its project on Hogan Court, in the Larry Uteck area on the west side of Highway 102.

Click here to read “Halifax developer appealing community council decisions to deny added apartments.”

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8. SPCA sets up non-profit vet hospital

The Nova Scotia SPCA announced on Thursday the opening of the province’s first full service, not-for-profit veterinary facility. Photo: NS SPCA

“The Nova Scotia SPCA [Thursday] announced the opening of the province’s first full service, not-for-profit veterinary facility and staff are already inundated with inquiries from potential clients,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

The facility is being described as the first social enterprise hospital in Atlantic Canada.

Click here to read “SPCA opens not-for-profit veterinary hospital in Burnside.”

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9. Risky play

Dalhousie University researchers Michelle Stone and Daniel Stevens with their children Lily and Tommy. Photo: Contributed

“Tarps, boxes, empty wrapping paper rolls, logs, buckets, old tires, pots, pans, snow,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

Those may not sound like typical kids toys, but Michelle Stone and Daniel Stevens want families to embrace these and other “loose parts” and allow their children to integrate them into unstructured, so-called “risky” play.

The Dalhousie University researchers are embarking on a project with honours students to learn more about how the pandemic has impacted opportunities for Nova Scotia families to be active and support their children’s outdoor play. The hope is to also capture the voices and experiences of children during this time.

Click here to read “Risky play: the benefits of unscheduled and (somewhat) dangerous goofing around.”

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10. Al-Rawi

Bassam Al-Rawi. Photo: Jeff Harper / Metro

“A former Halifax taxi driver has been handed a sentence of two years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman eight years ago,” reports Haley Ryan for the CBC:

Bassam Al-Rawi was found guilty in August of sexually assaulting the woman in his Bedford, N.S., apartment in the early hours of Dec. 15, 2012.

Al-Rawi appeared Thursday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court for his sentencing, one day after his bid for a mistrial was rejected. Al-Rawi, dressed in a navy suit, did not address the court.

In his decision, Justice Gerald Moir said he considered a pre-sentence report, the victim’s impact statement, doctor’s letters about Al-Rawi’s wife’s current pregnancy, and a letter from Al-Rawi’s wife about how the proceedings have impacted her.

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The Chief William Saulis. Photo: Facebook

With the terribly tragic loss of the crew of the scallop boat Chief William Saulis, I can’t be the only one wondering who exactly the boat’s namesake was.

Chief Saulis is a central player in “Countering the “Kingsclear blunder”: Maliseet Resistance to the Kingsclear Relocation Plan, 1945-1949,” a paper written by Martha Walls, who is now a prof at Mount St. Vincent University.

Chief William Saulis

The abstract of the article reads:

In the 1940s the federal government undertook schemes to relocate Native people in the Maritimes from smaller reserves to centralized settlements. Beginning in 1945 New Brunswick’s Maliseet were targeted with centralization, as Ottawa planned to relocate the people of the St. Mary’s, Woodstock, and Oromocto reserves to Kingsclear, northwest of Fredericton. New Brunswick centralization, however, failed in large part due to the actions of the Maliseet. By denouncing centralization publicly, by petitioning federal officials, and by reconstituting a Saint John River Valley Maliseet political collective, the Maliseet successfully stymied Ottawa’s New Brunswick centralization plan.

I was ignorant of these “centralization” aims. Walls enlightened me:

… the 1940s, more than any other decade, can be considered the era of relocation for Maritime Native people. The plan to create a centralized reserve at Kingsclear was just one of three planned relocation schemes for the Maritime provinces, all of which ultimately failed. Prior to the Kingsclear relocation plan, an Order in Council of 2 April 1942 authorized Ottawa to relocate Mi’kmaq living on Prince Edward Island to a single provincial reserve at Lennox Island and to move Nova Scotian Mi’kmaq to one of two sites: Shubenacadie on the mainland and Eskasoni on Cape Breton Island. The federal rationale in all three Maritime relocation plans was similar. The Indian Aaffairs Branch asserted that centralized communities would be more efficient and would facilitate greater Native self-sufficiency. Cost was also a major consideration.

The relocation of whole communities became a favoured means of “modernizing” them. Native communities were among these, but they were not the only ones. The year 1945, for example, also marked the first stirring of interest in relocating the neglected African-Canadian community at Africville, which was along Halifax’s Bedford Basin. Similarly, Toronto’s Regent Park public housing initiative was also born in the mid-1940s. In the case of the attempted centralizations of the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet, these “benevolent” aims of relocation meshed nicely with both the parsimony that had always been part of Indian policy and the longstanding practice of ousting Maritime Native people from their land.

In 1945, writes Walls, “Agency Inspector, Maritimes and Quebec, R.A. Hoey had advocated the centralization of the lower Saint John River Valley Maliseet to the Kingsclear reserve… Hoey confidently concluded his report on Kingsclear with the assertion ‘I do not feel that there would be much difficulty in obtaining the wholehearted co-operation of the Indians in support of a centralization project.’”

She continues:

Hoey could not have been more wrong. From the outset, Maliseet throughout the lower Saint John River Valley adamantly opposed the planned centralization scheme and they mobilized in the face of the threatened relocation to Kingsclear to make clear their opposition to the plan. Three chiefs in particular led the fight against centralization: Oromocto’s John S. Paul, Tobique’s William Saulis, and Woodstock’s Oliver Polchies. The Maliseet opposed centralization in three ways. First, using what can best be described as a public relations campaign, they denounced the plan and sought the support of non-Native New Brunswickers. Second, they conveyed their opposition directly to officials in Ottawa. Third, they launched an anti-centralization campaign within their own communities, reconstituting a Saint John River Valley collective that they called the Wulastook (or Wulustuk) Tribe. Using these tactics, the Maliseet ultimately succeeded in stymying Ottawa’s planned centralization.

In response to the Indigenous people’s resistance to the centralization plan, Parliament created a travelling Royal Commission to investigate. When it came to New Brunswick, Chief Saulis addressed the Commission:

The commission was, however, a far-from-perfect means of documenting Maliseet concerns about their communities and Indian administration in Canada. The fact that it traveled quickly and paused only briefly at specially selected stops offended the Maliseet. Indeed, when Chief William Saulis of the Tobique reserve addressed the commissioners on 1 November 1946, he reminded them that in order to give full hearing to the concerns of his community much more time should have been allotted for their visit. He explained “I have many witnesses to be heard. But as you do not have the time to hear them, you will have to believe me when I speak for them.” In addition, the committee did not mitigate cultural barriers such as language. This also impeded full disclosure and annoyed the Maliseet. Chief Saulis voiced his displeasure at the fact-finding process, arguing that he would have been better able to present his case in his own language: “Gentlemen, we cannot write out what we have to say. I am speaking your language, not my own. I could say much better what I have to say in my own language.”

The following year, Saulis again addressed the commission, and a New Brunswick anthropologist named Tappan Adney, who was what we would now call a native ally, commented with the unfortunate language of the time:

Of Chief William Saulis’s testimony before the commission, he wrote (with characteristic melodrama) that after the chief spoke “there was a silence from the Committee. They were profoundly impressed by the dignity and earnestness of the unlettered savage. At length the Committee said that they would accept his spoken word for fact.”

Adney really was an ally, and repeatedly pointed out that it wasn’t people like him (white allies), but rather the political organizing of the Indigenous people themselves that swayed political opinion and killed centralization.

Concludes Walls:

For his part, Tappan Adney, in a letter to an editor, remarked that “government cannot be unaware of the unanimous wishes of the Indians and at the same time allow this new policy of its Indian department to go right on into execution.” It seems he was right. Officials in Ottawa did not merely hear the Maliseet position on centralization – they were convinced by it. In Ottawa, Special Joint Committee member John R. MacNichol took up Maliseet concerns about the alleged coercion that was part of the centralization plan, compelling IAB Director Hoey to declare that there is no governmental authority for the department “to ask any body of Indians to remove from their present reserves.” Commissioners who traveled to the east were particularly convinced of the soundness of the Maliseet anti-centralization representations. In a radio address that was printed in the Hartland Observer, Special Joint Committee and Royal Commission member W. Garfield Case dismissed the viability of a centralization scheme, noting that “its apparent weakness is the idea of taking these Indians back into the hinterland so to speak, whereas we have already commented on the fact that they are making their greatest progress near the white settlements.” Tappan Adney recognized the importance of this statement and, in the margins beside his newspaper clipping of the article, he wrote, prophetically, “This cooks the goose of the Kingsclear blunder.”

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No meetings.


Legislature doesn’t sit (Friday, 9am) — info here.

On campus

No public events.

In the harbour

07:00: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
10:30: Integrity, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Bremerhaven, Germany
16:30: Integrity moves to Pier 27
18:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
20:30: ZIM Tarragona sails for New York
20:30: Integrity sails for sea
21:30: CMA CGM T. Jefferson, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka


I’m really late today because I had to shovel. Sorry about that; it’s a Canadian thing.

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

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  1. A former Halifax taxi driver, Bassam Al-Rawl, raped a woman in 2012 and was handed a 2 year sentence December 17, 2020.

    “The victim reported the assault right away, but Halifax police didn’t lay any charges. She came forward again years later, when she’d heard a taxi driver named Bassam was acquitted of a different sex assault in 2017. She recognized his name as the man who was a suspect in her case, and felt guilty it might have happened again. Police reopened her case, and laid a sex assault charge in 2018”. (CBC Dec 17/00)

    “A 2015 search warrant application mentions other situations involving Al-Rawi and female passengers. One woman reported that Al-Rawi did not stop at her house, kept driving around the block while calling her “baby” and grabbed her hand and asked her to stay. The woman only wanted this information documented.” (CBC Mar 2, 2017)

    Seems to be a pattern of such behaviour. How many complaints need to be made before a man is deemed to be a sexual predator?

    So Al-Rawl received a sentence of two years. How much time will he serve? For offenders serving sentences of anything other than life imprisonment in a Federal prison, according to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, they are eligible for parole upon serving one third of the total sentence imposed. By my bleary eyed calculation, Al-Rawi would be eligible for parole in 243 days.
    Crown attorney Carla Ball had said a four-year sentence would be appropriate for Al-Rawi, who she said committed a violent and major sexual assault where penetration occurred.” (CBC Dec 17/00). Would any amount of time served change Al-Rawi’s behaviour? Likely not, since he denied the sexual assault charges against him in 2017 of which he was acquitted, and denied the sexual assault charges against him In this case.

    CBC reported: The victim, who now lives outside the province, read her victim impact statement via video. She said the impacts of the assault continue to affect her personal life, career and mental health. A year after the assault, she had her first panic attack. In order to heal, she said she’s forced herself to revisit the incident. She’s taken crisis counselling, gone through therapy, and joined a survivors’ group. Over the years, she’s had to disclose her situation to her employers when asking for time off for court proceedings or therapy. She is afraid to ride in taxis but cannot avoid them as she travels for work. The woman also said she has not had a serious romantic relationship since the assault. “But the biggest impact for me has been the nearly eight years of fear that his predatory cycle of abuse continues,” she said. “Finally, today I feel I have done enough, as Bassam Al-Rawi is held accountable by this court.”

    Will now being held accountable change his behaviour? Likely not, since he denied this sexual assault, which included rape.

  2. Risky play – ‘Don’t go on the pit heap’ my mother said. I was 7 years old and our house was next to the Rising Sun colliery. As soon as she left the house and out of sight I was off. Went on the heap several times before I concluded that playing on rocks that moved was not a very good idea.
    Children should be encouraged to take risks and learn their limits. If you want to see risky behaviour stand outside Bicentennial school at 3 pm Mon – Fri and watch kids amble/run across Victoria road well away from the crosswalk.

  3. Thank you for the history of Chief Saulis. Very interesting. Also of Tappan Adney – I had read his writing regarding history, but I was not aware that he’d spoken out on behalf of the First Nations.