1. Childhood sexual abuse at the Nova Scotia Youth Centre 

A white brink building with a green roof.
The Nova Scotia Youth Facility Credit: Coldbrook Community Association

In February 2019, I reported on lawsuits by four men who said they were abused as children by a swim instructor at the Nova Scotia Youth Facility. The alleged abuse happened between 1988 and 2009.

“The Halifax Examiner is aware that at least one of the four men is currently imprisoned,” I noted.

In October 2021, El Jones spoke with several men who were abused at the facility, and who were imprisoned as adults.

“We have long known about the ‘sexual abuse to prison pipeline’ for women,” wrote Jones:

Less talked about and studied is the number of incarcerated men who are also victims of sexual violence. And for many of these men, this abuse took place in institutional settings.

These patterns of abuse in institutions — youth jails, group homes, locked treatment facilities — are widespread, and they are common among adults who end up in prison.

There is a direct connection between childhood sexual abuse, trauma, and incarceration. Those doing time now who were abused then are at least partially behind bars because of what was done to them when they were children.

These men, victims of abuse and the indifference to that abuse by the people charged both with punishing and protecting them, are still living their lives inside carceral institutions under the control of the same system that allowed them to be abused. Many are doing hard time in high-security institutions, labeled the worst of offenders.

This morning, the RCMP is holding a press conference “related to Operation Headwind, an investigation into incidents of sexual assault at the Nova Scotia Youth Centre between 1988 and 2017” — eight years beyond the abuse suffered by the men who had filed the lawsuits.

I’m on my way to the press conference right now, and will likely have an article about it later this morning.

But I think it’s important we understand the context and consequences of childhood sexual abuse. I’ve talked to too many men — dozens — who have experienced such abuse. All are traumatized. They have gone on to live varied lives, some quite successful in their careers (you would know their names), others much less so. Almost all of them have problems in their adult personal and sexual relationships. Some can’t cope at all. Many end up caught up in the criminal justice system. Several men have told me about childhood friends, boys who were abused alongside them, who died by suicide.

In past decades, childhood sexual abuse was not taken very seriously, even laughed off. Thankfully, that has changed. But I still don’t think we truly understand how many people are gravely affected by it.

2. Carrie Low hearing continues

A white woman with grey hair and a white shirt.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Jane Collins assisted Carrie Low on May 19, 2018, after Low had been sexually assaulted. Collins testified before at a Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing on July 11, 2023. Credit: Tim Bousquet

“According to two Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) who attended to Carrie Low after she was sexually assaulted, Halifax police Const. Bojan Novakovic asked Low ‘inappropriate’ questions,” I reported yesterday:

“I interrupted [Novakovic’s questioning] several times, questioning why those questions were being asked,” said [Jane] Collins. “I was upset. And at one point I asked the officer to leave the room with me and I asked him what he was doing asking [those] questions and he explained that he’s allowed to. I said, ‘I didn’t think it was appropriate.’”

“I thought he was badgering her,” Collins continued. “He just kept asking questions and she was crying. You know, to me, you don’t do that to someone who has gone through what, four hours, four and a half hours, of a sexual assault exam.”

Asked for specific examples of questions, Collins replied that “Well, one of the things that Ms. Low had told us was that she was thrown on the floor of a vehicle and someone was lying on top of her and that a police car had pulled up in the parking lot. And the officer asked her why didn’t she shout and why didn’t she yell for help, which I didn’t think was appropriate because to me it was a blaming question.”

Collins said that she could remember the exact wording of other questions, but, “He was asking her about, you know, what happened and why didn’t you do this? And why didn’t you do that? I mean, it’s not fair to say that because I don’t remember the actual question, but it was putting the onus on Ms. Low as to why she couldn’t escape. It wasn’t anything I ever heard from a street cop before.”

Click or tap here to read “Halifax cop asked Carrie Low ‘badgering’ questions after she was sexually assaulted: witness.”

There’s a break in the hearing today, but it resumes Thursday.

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3. MOVEit hack

A white man in a blue suit sits before flags.
Colton LeBlanc, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Cyber Security and Digital Solutions, speaking with reporters about the MOVEit privacy breach on June 6, 2023.

This week, the province is notifying more people that their personal information was stolen in the MOVEit hack, but isn’t offering them free credit monitoring.

As explained in a press release:

This phase of notification is for people whose stolen information is considered less sensitive. Less sensitive information can include names, addresses, license plate numbers and email addresses. Though that data is personal, it does not pose the same risk of harm as stolen social insurance numbers and banking information, which criminals can use to steal someone’s identity.

People who had only less sensitive information taken will not receive credit monitoring and fraud protection coverage because there is a very low risk of identity theft or fraud.

“We made the decision about offering credit monitoring and fraud protection carefully, considering best practice. We have also discussed this and other issues with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner as we move forward with our breach response,” said Cyber Security and Digital Solutions Minister Colton LeBlanc…

The Province is nearing completion of notice to people whose sensitive personal information was stolen. Letters with offers of credit monitoring have been sent to nearly 81,000 civil servants, Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health employees and others, and about 44,000 certified teachers will receive letters soon.

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4. Bus rules and e-scooter regulations

A bus driver navigates a corner on a sunny day.
Halifax Transit’s Route 1 pulls into a stop in Halifax on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. Credit: Zane Woodford

“[Halifax] Council passed first reading of the ‘By-Law Respecting Halifax Transit‘ during its meeting on Tuesday,” reports Zane Woodford:

Among other actions, the bylaw would make it an offence to “litter;” “spit, urinate or defecate outside of provided washrooms;” “perform a live musical performance;” or “operate any electronic device or musical instrument producing sound through external speakers” at a transit terminal. On buses, passengers would be prohibited from smoking, putting their feet on the seats, and trying to leave the vehicle while it’s in motion.

In other transportation news from Tuesday’s meeting, a bylaw regulating e-scooters passed second reading.

The Micromobility By-law bans e-scooters from sidewalks; caps their speed at 25km/h in a bike lane or roadway and 15km/h on a multi-use path; and bars people from parking scooters “in such a manner that obstructs the flow of pedestrian, cyclist or vehicular traffic.”

Click or tap here to read “New bylaw would set rules for riding Halifax Transit, with threats of fines and bans.”

While no one wants people to spit or piss on buses, I think there should be some provision for buskers at transit terminals, at least a no-cost lottery for them to operate in approved spaces. At worst, it would just be some unpleasant music to quickly walk by, but at best it could be a colourful addition to the urban landscape.

YouTube video

For context, performing music on New York City subway stations and on the trains gained judicial approval in the 1980s, and such performances are now a defining, distinctive element of that city’s transit experience. There’s even an entire genre of pop stars performing in disguise at stations. Could you imagine catching Joel Plaskett at the Bridge Terminal while waiting to transfer to the #3?

Oh, and e-scooters? The last time I ranted against the things in Morning File, later that very day some kid on a scooter nearly clocked me as I was walking on the North Park Street sidewalk, as he zoomed right around a blind corner at Cornwallis Street. I was able to jump out of the way, but he still missed me by just inches; what if I had been a less-spritely elderly person, or just inattentive?

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5. A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum

An architectural rendering shows a modern building on a sunny day, with fake people milling about out front. There's a sign hung vertically on the wall, "HALIFAX FORUM."
The proposed design concept for the redeveloped Halifax Forum. Credit: HRM

“Councillors are moving ahead with plans to rehabilitate the dilapidated Halifax Forum,” reports Zane Woodford:

But they’ll have to figure out how to maintain the property’s heritage designation and provide sufficient parking later.

Councillors had a long discussion about potentially de-listing the Forum as a registered historic site, but:

Paul Card, chair of the Halifax Forum Community Association, said he was “shocked” by the heritage discussion.

“I can’t believe council would deregister one of their own historic buildings, and then turn around and have a conversation with a developer that they can’t deregister a building because it’s costly,” Card told the Halifax Examiner in an interview.

The biggest concern, however, was over parking. These discussions always crack me up. The #4 bus goes right to the Forum; the #1 goes to the corner of Oxford and Cork, two blocks away, every 15 minutes. It’s really not a big deal. Take the damn bus already. Maybe you’ll hear some cool music at the bus terminal, and you can drink four beers during the game and not worry about killing someone on the way home.

Click or tap here to read “Council moves ahead with $110-million Halifax Forum redevelopment plan.”

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6. Ambulances

Ambulances line up outside the QEII Health Sciences Centre in January 2022. Credit: Tim Bousquet

“Emergency department closures, staffing and retention issues, and ambulance offload delays are making working conditions ‘unbearable’ for the province’s paramedics,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

And while offload delays have risen “dramatically” across the province since August of 2020, initiatives to counter the problem have resulted in some improvement over the last six months. 

Those were among the messages delivered to the legislature’s standing committee on health on Tuesday. The meeting’s focus was Emergency Health Services (EHS) offload times. 

Click or tap here to read “Ambulance offload delays up in Nova Scotia; working conditions ‘unbearable’ for paramedics.”

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7. NSGEU: 811 staff deserve better wages

A white woman with dark hair and dark glasses, wearing a red plaid shirt.
NSGEU President Sandra Mullen Credit: NSGEU

This item is written by Yvette d’Entremont.

The union representing Nova Scotia’s telehealth associates is calling on the province to address what it calls underfunding of the 811 service. 

In a media release Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) said the associates responsible for operating the province’s 811 telehealth system are among the lowest paid health care workers in Canada. 

The union said this is making it “nearly impossible” to retain staff. The 18 telehealth associates employed by Emergency Medical Care Inc. (EMC) are the first point of contact when people call the 24/7 811 line seeking medical advice. 

In the release, the NSGEU said staffing shortages have been so acute that workers have been mandated to work overtime, leading to fatigue and burnout. The union said this is jeopardizing the service. 

“If Tim Houston is going to tell 148,000 Nova Scotians without family doctors to call 811 if they need medical care, he needs to at least ensure the service is adequately funded so the service can be run reliably,” NSGEU president Sandra Mullen said in the release. 

“The service they offer is an integral part of our health care system now, but unfortunately, these workers are currently earning between $17.05 to $18.44 per hour — which is well below what is considered a living wage in Nova Scotia — and eight dollars an hour less than people doing similar work for 311.” 

The 811 service is based in Halifax, where a living wage is $23.50 an hour. The NSGEU said the pay for operators doing similar work for HRM’s 311 service starts at $26.90 per hour.

“While government has taken some steps to recognize the importance of this work, they are refusing to address the fact these workers are among the lowest paid health care workers in the country,” the union wrote. 

“NSGEU is calling on government officials to immediately reopen the members’ current contract, which was negotiated in 2018 and does not expire until 2024, to address low wages in the face of unprecedented inflationary pressures.”

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8. Judge rejects joint recommendation for man who abused his spouse and infant child

Judge Shane Russell has rejected a joint Crown-defence sentence recommendation for a man named Marshall Gordon Pardy, who abused both his spouse and his infant child. The rejection of joint recommendations is extremely rare.

Pardy was in a relationship with a woman identified as A.B., and the couple had a baby boy together, C.D, who was born four months prematurely. They lived in a basement apartment.

On Feb. 18, 2022, police and community services were called to the apartment, and it was learned that the week before, Pardy had slapped the seven-month old infant on the boy’s face and head. Wrote Russell:

The accused [Pardy] stated he can’t stand the crying, he never wanted a baby, he gets angry, and does not know why he does it. [A.B.] stated she didn’t understand this last comment as she had only seen the accused strike the baby this one time.

A.B. showed police a video she had taken on the date of the abuse. The video shows injuries to the baby’s face and head. There was notable bruising around his eyes, nose, mouth, cheek, forehead, and neck. Fortunately for this little boy the injuries have since healed and have had no long-term impact on his physical well being.

A.B. advised that she did not contact police, nor did she seek immediate medical attention. She feared the accused. She was scared and did not know what to do or who to tell. She didn’t know how to leave the relationship but began to make plans with a friend to move to Alberta where she and the child could be safe.

While speaking with police, she disclosed further abuse. She advised she was also assaulted five months prior.  This assault occurred a week before the baby had been discharged from the hospital. The accused was upset with her, pushed her to the floor, put his hand around her throat and began to choke her. During the choking the accused stated, “I could kill you right now”. She did not lose consciousness; however, her throat was sore. Again, due to fear she did not contact police.

The child is now in foster care.

Pardy, 33, pleaded guilty, and the Crown and defence jointly recommended that he receive a conditional sentence consisting of 12 months in custody to be served in the community. For the first six months he’d have a 24/7 curfew, and for the second six months he’d have a curfew from 4pm to noon the next day. He’d be required to have a job. After the year, Pardy would be under probation for two more years.

In a closely argued decision, Russell rejected that recommendation.

“Sentencing judges are vested with the responsibility of ensuring that such recommendations meet the proper threshold,” wrote Russell. “If this were not the case, a sentencing judge would amount to nothing more than a drive by ATM. In such a reality counsel would simply convey the ‘joint recommendation’ passcode and passively be presented with a judicial ticket validating sentence.”

He continued:

It is extremely difficult to accept that striking a seven-month-old premature infant directly in the head/face, falls into a situation where one “does not fully appreciate the serious injuries which might result”. I am satisfied that there was a degree of indifference to the potential harm when he directed targeted violence to the infant’s head/face in front of the child’s mother. As well, he inflicted abuse to both members of the same family unit. To chalk this second event up to being “unskilled”, “immature”, and “frustrated”, is to ignore the first abusive event. I specifically reject counsel’s categorization of Mr. Pardy’s criminal conduct. Mr. Pardy’s anger and propensity for violence were on full display prior to assaulting his infant son. He choked and threated to kill A.B. only to later transfer his violent ways towards a second member of the same family unit. His culpability and moral blameworthiness are very high.

[T]he accused committed both intimate partner violence and child abuse. One resulted in bodily harm and the other involved choking with threats to kill. The acts themselves were particularly egregious and were hardly on the low end of the scale. Further, both victims had a high degree of vulnerability. His actions were intentional, senseless, and callous. Mr. Pardy’s conduct was textbook gender-based violence.

Russell sentenced Pardy to 12 months in jail for the assault on the child C.D., and four months in jail for the assault of A.B., with the sentences to run concurrently, followed by two years of probation.

Russell was appointed a provincial judge in December 2021.

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Northern lights

A colourful night sky above a line of trees.
Photo by Vincent Guth on Unsplash

Tonight and Thursday night, the northern lights will be seen in a dozen or more U.S. states, reports The Guardian, and “weather permitting … several Canadian cities, including Halifax, will also be able to view the twinkling display.”

Alas, it’s forecast to be somewhat cloudy both nights, so maybe not.

I’ve lived in Canada for two decades, and I’ve never seen the northern lights. I feel cheated.

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Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda

Regional Centre Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm, City Hall and online) — agenda


Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda


No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

05:00: MSC Cornelia, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Sines, Portugal
05:30: Grande Halifax, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Valencia, Spain
05:50: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
06:00: X-press Irazu, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Lisbon, Portugal
16:00: X-press Irazu sails for sea
16:30: MSC Cornelia sails for sea

Cape Breton
06:00: IT Infinity, offshore supply ship, arrives at Mulgrave from Halifax


Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.

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

Yvette d’Entremont is a bilingual (English/French) journalist and editor who enjoys covering health, science, research, and education.

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  1. I have lived in Canada for 58 of my 60 years and I have never seen the Northern Lights. I feel even more cheated.

  2. I would like to have a good idea how much the credit monitoring is costing the taxpayers. I don’t begrudge the money but I wonder what it was about the data breach that made the government act rather quickly when right in the middle of town there is a growing tent city.

    1. Thanks for posting that link to the Globe piece. I think increasing the tax credit is a good idea. I would subscribe to a few more sites if that incentive was available.

  3. The e-scooter legislation is a good thing, but it is disappointing that the things are even allowed. The fines proposed are too low to really change behavior.

    The rental e-scooters are part of the great shittification – future e-waste made with slave labor that makes our city so much less pleasant so that the four or five guys that own the fleets can get rich and idiots can get around a little faster.

  4. I would not describe the Forum as dilapidated. The 100 year old facility is well worn but its soul is intact and so few of these historic Old Halifax icons are left. I would favour a creative restoration.