1. Disabled people can’t properly enjoy lots of money, says adjudicator

Nova Scotia Hospital. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Beth MacLean is an intellectually disabled middle-aged woman who spent 35 years in institutions, including more than four years in a locked-down psychiatric unit of the Nova Scotia Hospital known as Emerald Hall,” writes Jennifer Henderson:

She is currently living at Quest in Lower Sackville waiting for placement in a group home. A decision filed with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission by adjudicator Walter Thompson, who conducted an Inquiry into a complaint filed in 2014, may finally help MacLean live more independently.

Thompson has ordered the province to put $100,000 in a trust account for MacLean (as well as $100K each for two other former residents of Emerald Hall) as compensation for discrimination contrary to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.

“To be more specific, I found that the Province discriminated by retaining the complainants of the Emerald Hall unit for years on end when, by all professional opinion and advice, Beth MacLean and Joey Delaney ought  to have been accommodated in a small options home and Sheila Livingstone in some suitable home or facility,” wrote Thompson in his Dec. 4 decision.

“The province met their pleas with an indifference that really, after time, becomes contempt,” said Thompson in his first ruling on the complaint last winter.

Henderson goes on to explore the ruling at length, then notes that the disabled people’s lawyer, Vince Calderhead, had asked for an award of $275,000 – $500,000 a year for each year each disabled resident spent institutionalized. That was rejected by Thompson, who wrote:

I have fixed upon the net sum of $100,000 each for Ms. MacLean and Mr. Delaney as a sum which makes adequate compensation for the wrenching diversion of their lives. The Supreme Court of Canada says an award is to be functional. Joey Delaney is so disabled that payment to him of a very large sum will not have a greater impact on his life than a moderate sum. Beth MacLean does have capacity but the potential benefit to her of a very large damage award is limited. 

I do not suggest that a payment ought to be limited because of a disability, but I do say that a lack of capacity to benefit from the fruits of an award of the size that is advocated is a relevant factor discouraging me from ordering that they be paid millions.

Click here to read “Compensation of $100K for three disabled people who fought for human rights.”

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2. A sixth claim of sexual assault at women’s prison

A pair of prisoners walk through the snow-covered grounds of the Nova Institution for Women. Photo: Senate of Canada

A woman says she was sexually assaulted by guard Brian Wilson while she was imprisoned at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro.

According to a claim filed in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court last week, prison officials knew as early as 2013 that Wilson “had made sexual advances to at least one female inmate” and that they had received “a complaint that Wilson had initiated unwanted sexual contact with at least one female inmate at that time,” but that no action was taken and Wilson remained on the job.

In May of this year, the Canadian Press reported that three women prisoners had filed complaints against Wilson:

Halifax lawyer Mike Dull said Wednesday that two of the three women are still serving time, adding that police were called in within the last two months and a criminal investigation is underway.

Dull said two of the women filed complaints with the prison more recently, triggering an internal investigation and the guard’s resignation.

Truro Police Chief David MacNeil confirmed Wednesday that his service launched a sexual assault investigation at the Nova Institution on March 28.

Soon after, in a statement to the CBC, Wilson denied the allegations.

Since then, three other women, also represented by Dull, have filed claims. The claim filed by the sixth woman last week says the sexual assaults by Wilson began in 2017, when the woman was 22-years-old, and that “the assaults escalated in severity from sexual touching to oral sex, and occurred on multiple occasions for approximately two years, until her release.”

None of the claims have been tested in court.

3. Volunteer work for yacht owners

Yesterday, Sail Nova Scotia advertised for a volunteer communications position, someone who would work four to five hours per week. Here’s the complete job listing:

Communications Volunteer Position

The purpose of this position is to assist with Sail Nova Scotia’s development, execution and maintenance of marketing and communications strategies. Sail Nova Scotia is the provincial sport governing body in Nova Scotia representing 30 clubs and more than 6000 recreational sailors and power boaters. The right person will be a creative self-starter, who is able to work within a team environment and is extremely detail oriented, with strong written and verbal communication skills and a passion for amateur sport who is looking to gain valuable experience. You will be working closely with the Executive Director of Sail Nova Scotia and other Communications Professionals (i.e. Board members and Sport NS Communications staff) and within a predetermined framework of best practices and core values.

• Assist in the development of a communications plan
• Help create and maintain a social media plan and support other yacht clubs in developing best practices.
• Track the effectiveness of Sail NS’s social media work and develop on-line strategies
• Stay current on topics important to Sail NS network in order to share new information with the online community
• Attend key sailing events to gather information and share information to help generate awareness.
• Develop content for blog posts and assist in updating Sail Nova Scotia Website
• Write media advisories and news releases when required.
• Assist in creating graphics for various campaigns, posts and newsletters
• Demonstrate patience, integrity, kindness and friendliness to its sailing community members and volunteers

• Carry out tasks in a timely, efficient and accurate manner
• Perform other duties related to this role as assigned

• Preferably 1 – 2 years marketing and communications experience or recent university graduate
• Experience writing marketing and communication plans
• Experienced in graphic design and relevant software (Adobe Creative Suite is an asset)
• Excellent knowledge of all Social Media platforms
• Ability to work independently and as a team and able to communicate clearly and concisely
• Excellent writing and communication skills
• Patient, positive attitude, organized and reliable
• Highly proficient in Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, PowerPoint<
• Ability to follow through on commitments with demonstrated responsibility
• Self-directed, enthusiastic, energetic
• Ability to take direction and work within provided protocol and framework

• Opportunity to utilize and further develop marketing and social media skills

• Volunteers will be given a letter of reference after a successful term of volunteering, provided all the requirements are met and adhered to
• Experience working in a Not-For-Profit Framework
• Opportunity to make a difference in the Sailing community
• Development of communication skills
• Further develop communications and marketing experience
• Be part of a team and meet new people

• Commitment of a minimum of 1 year is required for the role.
• Available to commit to a minimum of 4-5 hours a week
• Reflections/evaluations will be conducted by both volunteer and supervisor to determine progress in position

Application deadline is December 15, 2019. Send applications to

Frank Denis
Executive Director
Sail Nova Scotia
5516 Spring Garden Road, 4th floor Halifax, NS
B3L 1R9
902-425-5450 ext 312

Yes, yacht owners were asking for free work from a credentialed communications person, with the promise that they’d get to “meet new people” — presumably rich people with yachts. You can tool around the harbour and listen to yacht rock, I guess:

We live happily forever so the story goes
But somehow we missed out on that pot of gold

Philip Moscovitch points out that Sail Nova Scotia received over $173,000 in government funding in 2017. Also, yacht clubs get a significant tax break from the municipality.

One of Halifax’s cash-strapped neighbourhoods. Photo: Halifax Examiner

I was alerted to the “job” posting by someone who keenly watches such matters, who additionally tells me that Sail Nova Scotia has full-time paid staff. “They are well paid,” says my informant. “This looks like someone to do all of their jobs for them as a volunteer… Social media and communications should be one of the higher paying jobs right now, not a volunteer position. That or the “Job Blockers”… either need to learn the skills themselves or pay the people with the skills properly. As you and I both know that looks like a full and a half position… not a volunteer position.”

I posted the ad on Twitter, and we all had a grand time ridiculing the ad and laying into Sail Nova Scotia for a half-hour or so before the ad was deleted. So maybe shaming works sometimes?

I realize not all sailors are rich, and not all sailors sail yachts. I had a great time as a young person working a Laser on the Lafayette River and once on a crazed trip from Sarasota all the way to Tampa Bay, and I never had any real money. I think there should be more opportunity for everyday people to get to sail, and maybe Sail Nova Scotia is the right vehicle for that. But, seems to me, the desire to pay $0 for a communications person probably reflects some poisoned ingrained attitudes about class and money that is likely reflected in the provision of services.

This is how it works in Nova Scotia. Young people, even university grads, are expected to work not just at abysmally low-paying jobs but even for free.

Young people: get the hell out of Nova Scotia. Go somewhere where you will be valued.

4. Poverty wages, cleaning city buildings division

Speaking of abysmally low-paying jobs, the city this morning issued tender offers for three-year janitorial contracts at both the Alderney ferry terminal (and adjacent Alderney Gate and Alderney Library) and the Woodside ferry terminal.

As I wrote in October, when the city issued a similar tender for the Central Library:

The entire point of contracting out janitorial services is to avoid having city employees with union representation and union wages clean the building. Were city employees cleaning the building, they’d be making in the neighbourhood of $20/hour; the winning bidder will pay the janitors minimum or near-minimum wage, which now sits at $11.55/hour.

Last city election, in 2016, I tried to make a living wage policy a campaign issue. Most candidates were all for it. But in office, they’ve taken little meaningful action to actually implement it. There’s another election next year, and undoubtedly incumbents will crow about keeping tax rates low, never mentioning that they’re doing so on the backs of janitors and other contract workers who have to get second and third jobs to make ends meet, who suffer the social and medical costs of low wages, and who ultimately impact the province’s social service and health budgets because the city won’t pay them decently.

This is on city councillors, who refuse to quickly adopt a living wage policy. Back in 2017, on a motion by Lindell Smith, council told city staff to study the proposal, but CAO Jacques Dubé has been successfully kicking the issue down the road, first by delaying a “social procurement” report until April of this year, when council was told that a further report would be read by “fall,” but here we are in October, and still no report.

Every delay means another three-year contract to screw over another group of workers.

Meanwhile, over 600 city employees make over $100,000 annually, and councillors are pulling in $88K and change. Contracting out services is councillors acting to increase inequality. It undermines the social contract and is an insult to simple decency.

Two months later, nothing has changed.

5. Parking garage

A government rendering of the proposed parking garage.

Stephen Archibald gives a stinging critique of the province’s decision to build a $29.5 million parking garage on the lot next to the Natural History Museum:

Parking is often stressful for folks visiting the hospitals, so many people will applaud this proactive move. I choose to mourn the location, on Summer Street next to the Museum of Natural History, and encourage you to walk the site before that earth is scorched.

The official architectural rendering of the garage sets a new standard of accuracy, in a medium that is noted for being fanciful. No mature trees drawn in, the building punched right out to the sidewalk, and it appears to be sited hard against, and looming over the existing Museum of Natural History.  A building designed to start a fight.

I worked in the museum for 30 years or so and over time developed a deep appreciation for how well its landscape had been designed. This is the earliest modern institutional landscape that I can think of, and it set a standard that has not often been equaled since.

Read Archibald’s entire post for a welcome architectural critique.

6. December 6

There are lots of vigils in remembrance of the Montreal Massacre today; see the “campus” section for those at the universities, and there’s this one downtown:

This is also the 102nd anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.

I still don’t think we’ve learned the real lesson of the Explosion: war kills.

The Explosion had lots of causes, but it wouldn’t have happened at all had not a bunch of chest-thumping men in Europe decided it was time for some senseless blood-letting. All wars are stupid, but that particular war set the standard for stupidity.

Yes, a North American city was destroyed, with thousands dead, for no damned reason at all, just stupid militarization and dick-swinging. But we haven’t learned a damn thing. We keep arming ourselves to the teeth and celebrating violence as not just the resolution to all our problems, but as the pinnacle of human achievement.

It’s probably a stretch to directly connect the Explosion and the Montreal Massacre, but they both spring from the same toxic ideology of violence.


No public meetings.

On campus


Giving Voice (Friday, 6pm, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History ) — runs until January 26, more info here.

A Social History of Logic (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Gordon McOuat from King’s College University will talk. He’ll wave his hand a lot and make outrageous and untestable claims.

Saint Mary’s

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (Friday, 12pm, Art Gallery)

Mount Saint Vincent

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (Friday, 12pm, Elizabeth and Fred Fountain Atrium, McCain Centre)


Saint Nicholas (Friday, 8pm, St. Mary’s Basilica, 5221 Spring Garden Road) — Nick Halley directs Nils Brown, Paul Halley, the King’s Chorus and a chamber orchestra. Tickets $10/ $75 here.

In the harbour

08:30: Boarbarge 37, semi-submersible barge, moves from Woodside to Pier 9
11:30: Pengalia, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Portland
11:45: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
13:00: Atlantic Osprey, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from St. John’s
23:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Philadelphia


YouTube video

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  1. Went to apply for that great job opportunity…. sadly, it appears to have disappeared from the Sail NS website

  2. Meanwhile, over 600 city employees make over $100,000 annually, and councillors are pulling in $88K and change. Contracting out services is councillors acting to increase inequality. It undermines the social contract and is an insult to simple decency.

    Two months later, nothing has changed.*

    *except councillors salaries which got a 4.46% raise to over $92k/year because formula

    1. The irony of course being that the article comes from a publication that will cease operation and throw people out of work (forget about giving them a salary increase) and one less outlet to keep council accountable.

  3. Styx is not yacht rock. I will die on this hill.

    Once I got through laughing at the “minimum availability” of 5 hours per week to voluntarily do a full time plus job, I thought about it… honestly if I were independently wealthy and could hang out on boats all the time as compensation, I would totally do this. So here’s the deal: start buying me lotto tickets, Sail Nova Scotia. I have all the skills and experience you need and then some, plus I do not get seasick. I will even bring lashings of cocoa.

  4. In the 20th century, approximately a quarter billion people were murdered by their own governments (source: R.J. Rummel). His number might be a little inflated because the various engineered famines may have had some underlying ecological causes outside government control, but it is still a staggering figure that puts much of the media narrative surrounding violence in perspective.

    The good news is that Trudeau is finally going to do something about Torontonians killing each other with their legally acquired Scary Black Rifles.

  5. “Young people: get the hell out of Nova Scotia. Go somewhere where you will be valued.”

    Young people: please do not listen to this very reasonable advice.