1. NDP lays out tenant protection plan
Jennifer Henderson is on the housing beat this morning, with a story on the NDP’s plan to actually enforce rental regulations:
Dayle Crouse has lived in Lunenburg for the past seven years after having grown up on the South Shore, moving away, and then returning. During those seven years, Crouse has moved eight times because she has been unable to find a permanent place she can afford to rent…
Crouse told her story on Wednesday at a news conference in Bridgewater where NDP leader Claudia Chender outlined her party’s plan to introduce legislation to help renters. One-third of Nova Scotians live in rental accommodations.
Crouse lives in a school bus she parks at a campground for part of the year, and cobbles together accommodations in the colder months.
Chender is on a week-long tour of the province outlining what she said the NDP will do to try and protect renters.
“We have been hearing these stories from people who can’t find a stable affordable place to live. Although we have a rent cap, there are loopholes because there are no regulations around fixed-term leases,” Chender said. “That means there are more people being renovicted and increasingly, like Dayle, people are having to move more often. So, we are going to fight to close that loophole.”
2. Feds and province to build first public housing in NS in decades
“The provincial and federal governments are building new public housing for the first time in decades, but the opposition calls the 222 units planned a “drop in the bucket” in the face of Nova Scotia’s housing crisis,” Zane Woodford reports.
The plan is to build actual affordable public housing, with rents based on income and not market rates.
Provincial Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr and Halifax MP Andy Fillmore, on behalf of federal Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Sean Fraser, made the announcement in Halifax on Wednesday…
Lohr said the government will start building next spring. It hopes to move people into the new homes in fiscal 2025-2026. He said “the bulk” of the new units will be in multiple areas of Halifax and Cape Breton. The province will build all the new units on land it already owns next to existing public housing. The government wasn’t ready to announce specific sites.
During the press conference, Lohr also addressed the fact that, until recently, he had been opposed to the province’s being involved in building new public housing.
At the Chronicle Herald, Steve Bruce reports that the family of rapper Pat Stay are suing the Yacht Club Social.
[The statement of claim says] the defendants failed to ensure the nightclub was safe for all patrons, chose not to screen or search bags at the door, chose not to pat down or otherwise search individuals entering the establishment for weapons, and “failed to take reasonable steps to create and maintain a safe and orderly environment for their patrons.”
The plaintiff further claims the defendants knew or ought to have known [Adam] Drake [who has been charged with murdering Stay] had a propensity to consume alcohol to intoxication, caused his intoxication by serving him alcohol, and knew or should have known he “was a dangerous and reckless individual who was a danger to other patrons.”
The statement of claim also says the defendants failed to train their employees to monitor the alcohol consumption of patrons, chose not to employ individuals who were properly trained as security, and failed to ensure their staff members were trained for the proper and safe supervision of their guests.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
Lottery stories are one of those tired news staples: There is a lot of money to be won, somebody won a lot of money, who is the person who won all this money?
I gather there is a big lottery jackpot available, so it’s not surprising to see news stories about it. I was struck though, by this one at Global, written by Sean Previl. It’s a piece of service journalism on what to do if you win the lottery. If you think about it, that’s kind of strange: it’s a piece written for one person. (Could be the start of a series: “What to do if you win the Nobel Prize for literature.”)
Anyway, the thing that struck me about the Global piece, is that it was essentially about all the hassles of winning the lottery. Two different people interviewed use the phrase “as your life gets complicated.” They talk about interviewing financial advisers and lawyers, and how to deal with people who are going to want a cut. And it seems to me like a lot of this advice is fine if you are the kind of person who is already relatively at ease with financial issues:
That extra publicity means you should also consider interviewing more advisers to help you because, as [Frank] Hounjet said, while your current lawyer or accountant could be good at real estate transactions or preparing a tax return, they may not be able to advise on estate planning or a family trust that could come into play with the winnings.
My main takeaway from this piece was that winning the lottery is a huge hassle, and best only done by people who don’t especially need the money anyway.
Several years ago I watched a documentary on universal basic income that looked at what happened to lottery winners — the connection being the question of how people act when they get money they did not earn, and that didn’t come through inheritance. While we’ve all heard stories of people who won huge amounts of money and blew it, what I found interesting was that people who won more modest amounts — say, a couple of million dollars, instead of $50 million — tended to not blow it. They mostly just used it to fulfil a dream they would not otherwise have been able to afford.
Conservative MP Rick Perkins tells non-binary parent he opposes “imposing contrary values” on children
On September 19, Sal Sawler emailed three politicians to express concerns about attacks on the rights of trans and gender non-conforming people, and increasing anti-trans rhetoric and threats. The three were MLA Danielle Barkhouse, MP Rick Perkins, and premier Tim Houston. Sal is a writer and editor, and is non-binary. They live in the same federal and provincial ridings as me. Barkhouse and Perkins, both of whom are Conservatives, are our representatives.
I have known Sal for years, and they are thoughtful and down-to-earth, with a deep concern for justice, and an increasing level of justifiable alarm about how trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) people are being targeted by dangerous rhetoric.
Sal sent me a copy of the email, and I will quote from it at some length here, before sharing the replies they have received so far. Please stick around for the replies.
The email was sent on the eve of the co-ordinated anti-trans marches across the country, which they put in the context of other attempts to undermine rights.
Due to these ongoing attacks, it is getting increasingly difficult to be myself, not only online, but also in public, even here in Nova Scotia. Over the past few months, multiple friends and community members have been shouted at and threatened by strangers in Halifax due to their gender identity (we know that’s the reason because usually, slurs are used), and these stories are getting more and more frequent.
Things are reaching a boiling point, and the trans and GNC community — your constituents — need public servants who are willing to defend our rights to exist peacefully, and without the daily stress caused by political and religious rhetoric…
There’s an increasing amount of rhetoric being passed around, especially around “parental rights,” but many of the decisions that are being made to protect these so-called rights are actually in violation of children’s rights… Would acting on a report of child neglect or abuse be considered violating parental rights? No, because children have a right to be safe and healthy. There are LGBT children, just like there are LGBT adults. No one talked these children into being transgender or gender non-conforming — they just are.
The letter goes on to discuss the importance of medical care for trans kids, and then Sal writes:
These children also deserve to be able to speak to their teachers when it’s not safe to speak to their parents — and sometimes it’s not. Please continue to protect our children’s privacy in this area. I am a parent, and I would much rather my child’s rights be protected over some imaginary idea of parental rights.
Sal then expresses concern over the direction federal and conservatives parties are increasingly taking on undermining trans rights, before concluding with this:
As I said at the beginning of this email, all of this is weighing heavily on me. One of the myths about being transgender is that it’s a sign of mental illness. But it’s not —psychology and science confirms this. If there’s a higher incidence of mental illness in our population, it’s because of the stress of living in a society with people who want to limit our access to necessary medical care, accuse us of grooming children, call us slurs in the street, and feel it’s appropriate to debate our very existence. This is our reality. Please do whatever you can to help change that. If any of you would like to learn more about any of this, don’t hesitate to reach out. There’s a lot to learn.
Now, this is pretty much a model of how to write a constituent letter: State the issue, note how it affects you personally, express your concerns, provide evidence to back up those concerns, state what your desired action is, and then invite your representative to reach out for more information, offering to help them understand rather than blaming them for their potential ignorance.
MLA Danielle Barkhouse’s office replied with a note saying that Barkhouse was out of the office at meetings, but that her constituency assistant would “ensure she is aware of this. With your permission, I will also print your email so that she can bring this forward at Caucus.”
And federal Conservative MP Rick Perkins? Here is his reply in his entirety:
Thank you for taking the time to write.
Parents around Canada are frustrated with governments imposing contrary values on their children. Justin Trudeau has butted into this matter of provincial policy, and he has no business in decisions that should rest with the provinces and families.
Common sense Conservatives are committed to ensuring that parents are the final authority on the values and lessons that should be taught to children. We believe in parental rights, and parental rights come before the government’s rights.
So, a non-binary constituent, who is a parent, is told by their MP that teaching kids about gender constitutes “imposing contrary values on their children” and that “parental rights come before the government’s rights.”
I don’t expect much from an MP who somehow managed to argue against a company exporting lobsters caught by his constituents, and who has called the Indigenous fishery “poaching.”
Perkins’ website currently features a poll asking if “poachers” on St. Mary’s Bay “should be charged to the fullest extent of the law,” while the most recent item on his site’s “News” page dates from March 2, 2022.
His “about” page — like his campaign literature, if I recall correctly — notes the following:
Rick’s family has lived in the South Shore – St. Margarets federal electoral district for more than 270 years and were founding families of several communities on the South Shore.
This is a great way to make people feel welcome.
Meanwhile, his Facebook page is full of idiocy like blaming the carbon tax for increased food bank use, and pinning rent increases in Halifax on Justin Trudeau.
So, am I surprised that Perkins would reply to a constituent who took the time to write a well thought-out letter of concern with a glib dismissal? No. But does that make it any less appalling? Also no.
Apart from the sheer awfulness of replying this way to this specific letter, Perkins is engaging in classic “common sense” language as a way to simplify and obfuscate. And what the hell does “parental rights come before the government’s rights” mean anyway? What “right” of the government is being impinged on here? Does believing in parental rights mean that if I want to lock my kid in a room for a week because they didn’t finish their supper I should be allowed to? Does it mean conversion therapy for kids, which is now illegal in Canada, should be allowed if parents want it, no matter the horrific consequences for the kids? Actually, yes, it probably does mean that. (For more on this parental rights business, read this interview Suzanne Rent did last week with privacy lawyer David Fraser.)
In terms of the broader context, what is going on here is so transparent. Target a group, simplify, and whip up people against them.
Andrea Houston, the managing editor of Ricochet, spoke to Jesse Brown about “parents’ rights” and the larger context on a new episode of the Canadaland Short Cuts podcast.
Here is part of what Houston said:
These are the same people who drummed up fear about vaccines; these are the same people who tried to raise fears around migrants and refugees. It’s just a new person or a new group to hate… This is a global network of anti-gay far-right evangelicals who have exported this message that gay people are coming for your children…
I think we are at the beginning of a very dark road… As far as media goes, knowing this history and understanding this history and putting these protests in the context of that history is absolutely critical.
You could argue that Perkins is simply saying kids should not be taught values that differ from those of their parents. This is not a new argument, of course. In fact, it’s one of the oldest arguments in education. You may have heard about what happened to a guy named Socrates. Of course, it’s also a way of weaseling out of protecting vulnerable populations. If we don’t talk about 2SLGTBQIA+ kids and pretend they don’t exist, that’s not a value-neutral proposition protecting the rights of all parents and kids.
Watch hundreds of nuclear explosions online
The Lawrence Livermore National Library has a collection of more than 10,000 films of nuclear tests carried out by the US in the mid-20th century. (The Americans did just over 1,000 tests.)
And now, they are putting them on YouTube.
I learned about this collection of films through Jon Keegan of Beautiful Public Data, who wrote about them in a post called, “Nuclear Weapon Test Films.” Keegan writes:
Using specialized cameras shooting extremely fine grained film at 2,400 frames per second, these films capture the haunting, slow motion growth of otherworldly shapes of the nuclear fireball that emerges from what seems to be an impossibly bright pinpoint of light.
The size and power of the weapons tested in the films range from small “tactical” nukes that could be fired from an artillery unit such as the 1953’s 15 kiloton “Grable” device detonated during Operation Upshot-Knothole, to the most powerful nuclear weapon the U.S. has tested, Operation Castle’s “Bravo” 15 megaton device, detonated at the Bikini Atoll in 1954.
Keegan describes the films as “equal parts terrifying and fascinating,” and having watched a number of them, I agree.
Some are majestic and beautiful, billowing out in the distance and filling the screen as they mushroom. Some look like strange deep-sea creatures. The underground ones are reminiscent of monster films, with mountains of debris rising from the ground and flung in all directions by the explosion.
Of course, these explosions also represent death, destruction, and disaster. Hence the “terrifying” part.
LLNL has been (understandably) getting lots of questions about the films, and physicist Greg Spriggs answers some of them in the video below.
Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall and online) — agenda
Illuminating the heterocellular heart: optogenetic approaches to assess non-myocyte contributions to cardiac electrophysiology (Thursday, 12pm, online) — Franziska Schneider-Warme from the University Heart Center Freiburg will talk
Sciographies season five returns for a fifth season (Thursday, 5:30pm, online) — podcast shares the lives, stories and research of Dalhousie scientists; weekly episodes air on Thursdays at 4:30PM on CKDU 88.1FM; or listen on most podcast apps (Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud) from September 14 – November 2, 2023.
A Framework for Ocean-Climate Action (Thursday, 7pm, Room 1020, Rowe Building) — Anya Waite from Ocean Frontier Institute will talk
Strings Noon Hour (Friday, 11:45am, Strug Concert Hall) — free performance by students from the Fountain School of Performing Arts
Understanding and Addressing the Climate Vulnerability of People with Disabilities (Friday, 12pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Sebastien Jodoin from McGill University will talk
Mathematical Alchemy: Decimalisation in Early Modern England (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain Building) — John E. Crowley will talk; more info here
The Politics of Non-Relation: or, How the University Broke My Heart (Friday, 7pm, Auditorium, McCain Building) — Natalie Loveless from the University of Alberta will deliver the first of this year’s MacKay Lecture Series: Our Aesthetic Possibilities: Lectures on Art-Making in the 21st Century
Matria Redux: Caribbean Women Novelize the Past (Thursday, 12pm, Room LI135, Patrick Power Library) — Tegan Zimmerman will discuss her latest book; RSVP and more info here
Undoing the Colonial Double-Bind: Interpretation and Justification in Aboriginal Law (Thursday, 7pm, Conference Centre, in the building named after a grocery store) — Joshua Nichols from McGill University will deliver the 2023 Marshall Lecture in Public Philosophy
In the harbour
5:45: Contship Leo, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:45: Emerald Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,679 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
10:00: NYK Nebula, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Antwerp, Belgium
11:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 41 from Saint-Pierre
11:30: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
11:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to anchorage
16:00: Lagrafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Portland
17:45: Emerald Princess sails for New York
22:00: Lagrafoss sails for Reykjavik
06:30: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Charlottetown, on a 13-day cruise from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale
07:15: Algoma Victory, bulker, moves from Pirate Harbour anchorage to Aulds Cove quarry
16:00: Stena Suede, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from Erha offshore terminal, Nigeria
16:00: Zaandam sails for Halifax
I highly recommend taking a trip to Chicago, as my partner and I did over the last week. Being there made me think a lot about what makes a city great.