1. Dick picks and sexual harassment
Sending unsolicited dick pics to police recruits. Sexually harassing junior cops. Impersonating department brass.
Those particulars and others are contained in documents filed by Acting Police Chief Don MacLean with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. The documents reveal a hyper-sexualized culture in which police officers are sending sexual comments to each other and dick pics to cadets. And when cadets report such incidents, they are brushed off.
All this came to light because of the firing of Const. Geoffrey Sykes, but the details go far beyond Sykes.
This sordid story involves a lot of cringeworthy bits, but probably the most disturbing is this:
During a “fall in” (a military and police term meaning “take one’s place in a line or formation”) with members on Nov. 24, Sgt. Phil Power said a woman constable told him that some cadets were receiving anonymous, unsolicited dick pics from sworn members of the Halifax police.
She said that this was ‘very much a thing’ and that she had received them in the past, herself, more than once. These were being sent from all different shifts and levels. She did not want to file a formal complaint, as she had said that she had previously reported this to a supervisor who told her to ‘just wait, you are pretty, people will move onto the next group.'(It seems this is not a unique event.) She was concerned because a new group of cadets was about to begin, and she didn’t want it to happen again.
Power said during that fall in, he said if he found out anyone was sending dick pics, he would send it to professional standards for investigation.
The Police Review Board does not appear to have made any other comments or recommendations about the alleged widespread practice of sending unsolicited dick pics to police recruits.
In fact, the Police Review Board downplayed nearly all of the conduct related to sexualized misconduct.
How did we get to this point? How is it that cops, who are supposed to be trusted protectors, and are paid really good money for it, are cavalierly sending dick pics to new employees, comparing dick sizes with each other, talking about “getting pussy” with their uniforms, among so many other pervy acts?
And how is it that the Police Review Board hears about such acts and collectively shrugs, without so much as saying, ‘hey, we might have a problem that should be addressed here’?
I submit that such behaviour is baked right into policing. We, as a society, have decided that we’ll deal with our social problems with a militarized and valourized police force, and so necessarily cops become highly narcissistic and view the world through an us-versus-them lens.
There have long been pervy insider cultures in valourized professions dominated by men — the military, the police, the priesthood. Of course, we should do what we can to clean up those professions, but we should probably start by not valourizing them to the point that they become unquestionable and beyond reproach.
It’s evident that the Board of Police Commissioners, the Serious Incident Response Team, and the Nova Scotia Police Review Board are not going to take the actions necessary to clean up police forces, so at bare minimum we should have a civilian oversight board with real power.
2. Coastal Protection Act
“Describing the Nova Scotia government’s delay in implementing the Coastal Protection Act as “recklessly irresponsible,” the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) is calling on the province to act immediately,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:
“By continuing to delay the Coastal Protection Act, this government is practically inviting the ocean into our homes. In 2019, the Coastal Protection Act passed with full support from all parties,” the EAC’s director of programs Marla MacLeod told reporters during a press conference in Halifax on Tuesday.
As I was reading the article, I recalled a tour a couple of EAC employees took me on back when I worked at The Coast. It must have been around 2012, so over a decade ago. They showed me large houses that had been built right on the ocean’s edge and protected from storm surges with rip-rap (big boulders) piled along the coast. That rip-rap ‘hardened’ the shoreline at that site, but it meant that the ocean current was deepened and made more forceful down-current from the rip-rap, causing significant erosion.
So, reading today’s article, it occurred to me that those building the oceanfront houses and the government that apparently is kowtowing to them have no real appreciation for the magnitude and urgency of the issue. Climate change is leading to more frequent and more powerful storms and accompanying storm surges right now, and is already costing us enormously.
Moreover, the attitude seems to be, ‘oh well, I’ll protect my nice oceanfront property, and if it means my neighbour’s property is lost to the sea, that’s how it goes.’
And then I read Dal prof Patricia Manuel make the same point yesterday:
The go-to solution of putting up seawalls results in more hard surface that generates its own energy when hit by waves. Manuel said this travels down and along the shore, and can impact other people’s properties. She said across the province there are many people and organizations using nature to help protect the shoreline.
“There’s a lot of things we can do in addressing what’s going to be coming and what is happening now. This isn’t new, by the way. It’s been going on forever,” Manuel said.
“It’s just becoming more and more evident as more and more people are trying to build close to the shore. We love our coasts, we want to be near, but we don’t have to be in the water.”
“Liberal Leader Zach Churchill accused Premier Tim Houston of turning health care into a ‘raffle’ and ‘a game show’ during question period on Tuesday,” reports Jennifer Henderson:
The criticism came after the government issued a news release Monday inviting health care workers to submit “common sense” ideas to improve the health care system. The ideas should be “simple, easy to implement, and with little or no funding.”
Ideas will be put into a random draw and 50 health care workers could win $1,000 each if their name is picked. A panel will choose a shortlist of 20 practical suggestions and Nova Scotians will apparently get to vote on “the top ten” ideas to be implemented.
This is ridiculously risible. I know lots of people who work for the province, and they have all sorts of suggestions for how the system they work in can be more efficient and save money, but those suggestions are repeatedly ignored and even making the suggestion can be seen as insubordination.
So, you know what’s going to happen with those “practical solutions”? They’re going to be tossed in the trash can, whether they have merit or not. But I guess a handful of people will land a cool K, so there’s that.
I’m also laughing because Tim Houston went to Singapore and the only idea he came back with was this silly health care raffle? What about pricing cars out of existence? Or a robust public housing program? Oh well, at least Houston isn’t instituting death by hanging.
My (trickery-free) excursion to Keji was the latest trip I’ve taken to research the lack of racial diversity in wilderness areas throughout Turtle Island. African-Canadian scholar Jacqueline Scott explores the topic with PaRx, a British Columbia-based health care initiative that connects people with the outdoors.
She notes: “Nature is marketed as free for everybody, and good for everybody. But if you’re Black, those things don’t work out necessarily in the same way at all. … I had a look at a recent Parks Canada guide to the National Parks of Canada, and could not find a single Black person in the 400 photographs. … And it continues that tradition of erasing Black history as foundational to Canada as a country.”
Keji holds national Rainbow Registered accreditation as a 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive space and welcomed about 75,000 visitors in the fiscal year 2022-2023, according to Statista, a global data collection group. Yet despite its acclaim as a “keeper of memories” (such as sacred petroglyphs) for the Mi’kmaq, Keji struggles to attract non-white visitors.
White has one suggestion:
Hire Professor Louise Olivia Violet Edwards to lead a future Dark-Sky gathering. An African-Canadian astrophysicist, Edwards holds degrees from the University of Victoria, Saint Mary’s University (SMU), and the Université of Laval.
Indeed, as a master’s student at SMU, Edwards’ image was depicted — peering through a telescope — on a 2002 Canada Post stamp. An expert in galaxy formation, she now teaches at California Polytechnic State University.
“I’d be willing to come to Keji, if invited,” she told me. “All my work is on the astronomy/astrophysics side.”
5. The Icarus Report: a rare win for travellers
A Small Claims Court decision by adjudicator Michael O’Hara and published this week gives a rare win to WestJet customers Eliza Richardson and Benjamin Friedrich.
The pair had planned to travel from Halifax to Toronto for the 2022 Christmas holiday season, and so booked a flight with WestJet, leaving Halifax on Dec. 23, 2022 on flight WS27 at 7:25pm and arriving in Toronto at 9:01pm.
Due to weather conditions in Toronto, that flight was scrapped. On Dec. 24, they were issued a new itinerary from WestJet, to travel on the same flight number on Christmas Day (Dec. 25), also leaving Halifax at 7:25pm and arriving in Toronto at 9:01pm.
But on Christmas morning at 9:25am, WestJet contacted Richardson and Friedrich to advise that the flight was delayed by 50 minutes, “due to flight crew member availability” with a new departure time at 8:15pm. Through the course of the day, the flight was delayed two more times, and it actually departed Halifax at 11:28pm, arriving in Toronto on Dec. 26 at 0:32am — about three and a half hours late.
Richardson and Friedrich filed for compensation under the terms of the Air Passengers Protection Act, saying they should each be given $400.
WestJet refused to pay, and the matter ended up in Small Claims Court. WestJet argued that the actual delay was 51 hours from the time of Richardson and Friedrich’s originally planned Dec. 23 flight, not the three-and-a-half hours for the Christmas Day flight, and since the Dec. 23 flight was cancelled because of weather, it owed Richardson and Friedrich nothing. (Airlines are required to pay if the fault for the delay is their own, but not if it is because of weather.)
O’Hara, the adjudicator, would have none of that argument, and ordered WestJet to pay Richardson and Friedrich $800 plus $99.70 in costs.
It strikes me that WestJet went to a lot of expense to avoid paying a measly (to the airline) 800 bucks. At court, WestJet was represented by someone named Alison MacDonald — there are so many Alison MacDonalds in Nova Scotia that I have no idea which one this is, but I’m assuming she’s a lawyer and so undoubtedly gets paid a few hundred dollars an hour, so with prep time, the court appearance, and costs, WestJet likely paid far more than the $800 Richardson and Friedrich rightly sought.
Probably, WestJet was willing to pay more than $800 to avoid paying $800 because it didn’t want other customers on that flight, or other flights, to get the wild idea that the Air Passenger Protection Act should actually work for them.
Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 4pm, online) — agenda
Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall and online) — agenda
African Descent Advisory Committee (Thursday, 1pm, 60 Alderney Dr. and online) — agenda
Public Accounts (9am, One Government Place and online) — more info here
Voice Noon Hour (Wednesday, 11:45am, Joseph Strug Concert Hall) — free performance by students of the Fountain School of Performing Arts
Woodwinds Noon Hour (Wednesday, 11:45am, Dalhousie Arts Centre, Room 406) — free performance by students of the Fountain School of Performing Arts
CH&E Guest Speaker: Child maltreatment has health and social consequences up to 40 months later (Wednesday, 12pm, Tupper Medical Building) —Dr. Steve Kinsley from the University of Queensland will talk
DalVoice Masterclass with Jah-Mila (Thursday, 11:35am, Dalhousie Arts Centre, Room 121) — free performance. More info here
The Courage to SoTL (SoTL Brownbag) (Thursday, 12pm, online) — A one-hour, casual conversation focused on Godbold et al’s 2021 paper, The Courage to SoTL. More info here
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) until November 2, 2023.
The role of myotubularin in muscle development and the pathogenesis of X-linked myotubular myopathy (Thursday, 12pm, Theatre A) — Dr. Jim Dowling with University of Toronto will talk
Environment, brain development, and mental health (Thursday, 7pm, The Peggy Corkum Music Room, Lady Hammond Rd.) — A panel discussion with Dr. Tomas Paus, Professor, University of Montreal and experts.
From Nuclear Power to Nuclear War: Ukraine’s History as a Nuclear Colony (Thursday, 7:15pm, Marion McCain Arts Centre) — Prof. Kate Brown will talk
TED Talk: Why art is important (Wednesday, 2pm, Arthur J. Irving Entrepreneurship Centre, SH 212) — Katerina Gregos will talk
An evening with Michael Crummy and Holly Hogan (Wednesday, 7pm, Saint Mary’s Art Gallery) — The award-winning writer and the acclaimed biologist will talk about their new books, The Adversary and Message in a Bottle: Ocean Dispatches. More info here
In the harbour
04:30: MSC Surabaya VIII, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Barcelona
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from St. John’s
07:00: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship with up to 1,070 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from from Quebec City, on a 12-day cruise from Quebec City to Miami
07:30: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of Boston
08:30: CTM Istmo, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algecirus, Spain
09:30: Siem Confucius, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
13:00: Siem Confucius sails for sea
15:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
15:30: Crystal Serenity sails for Saint John
16:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Fairview Cove to anchorage
16:30: CTM Istmo sails for sea
16:30: Gotland, cargo ship, sails from Pier 27 for Bilboa, Spain
17:00: Joyce, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from IJmuiden, Netherlands
17:00: Siem Confucius sails for sea
18:00: Serenade of the Seas sails for Bar Harbor
06:30: Seven Seas Mariner, cruise ship with up to 779 passengers, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Corner Brook, on an 11-day cruise from Montreal to New York
07:00: Le Bellot, cruise ship with up to 264 passengers, arrives at Baddeck from Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone), Magdalen Islands
16:00: Bahama Spirit, bulker, moves from Aulds Cove quarry to Pirate Harbour anchorage
17:00: Algoma Valour, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Tampa
16:30: Seven Seas Mariner sails for New York
17:30: Le Bellot sails for sea
I’m the invited guest on this week’s Canadaland podcast, and we’re recording this morning. I think it will be published tomorrow. I hope I don’t sound dumb!