“On October 25, 2016, 96 per cent of teachers gave their union an overwhelming strike mandate,” writes Stephen Kimber. “And that changed everything about everything in the McNeil government’s union-busting calculus.”
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2. Examineradio, episode #147
For this week’s episode we talked with Joan Jessome, the president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union from 1999 to 2016.
Jessome has been involved in many labour disputes with the province over the years, so we wanted to talk strategy as the Nova Scotia Teachers Union battles the province over the Glaze report. Last week, NSTU members voted in favour of an illegal strike or job action.
They’ve got to go to the wall with it.
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Plus, we talk about the recent decision in the FHRITP case in St. John’s and the one due in court in Halifax on March 1. We also talk about Abdoul Abdi and the Q&A session with the immigration minister. But there have already been new developments since we recorded the show. On Friday, a Federal Court rejected Abdi’s attempt to pause a deportation hearing.
3. Halifax West
Halifax West High School was on lockdown Friday. A police release from Friday afternoon:
Halifax Regional Police is investigating a threat of firearms at Halifax West High School.
At 12:51 p.m., police responded to Halifax West High School located at 283 Thomas Raddall Avenue after receiving a call from an unknown person reporting that there would be a shooting at the school. Patrol members with the assistance of the K-9 Unit searched the school, however, no firearms were located.
Members of the General Investigation Section are currently following up on several leads and are wishing to speak with anyone who may have information in relation to the investigation.
An unbylined Chronicle Herald article has more:
In a text to her mother, a Halifax West student said the principal was “going around trying (classroom) doors to make sure they were locked.”
The student said her schoolmates in lockdown were sharing a Snapchat photo of graffiti warning students not to come to school on Feb. 23, but its authenticity or origin could not be independently verified.
Some students were saying a Grade 11 boy may be behind the threat, the student said.
“Friends of classmates are saying someone was yanked from class by cops a while ago,” she texted.
The student reported seeing a K-9 police unit from her classroom window and that a helicopter was nearby.
In a text after the lockdown ended, she said students had resorted to urinating in buckets and even on the floor.
4. Province House
The legislature opens tomorrow, and expect large demonstrations.
5. Land claims
“A family from North Preston, N.S., has finally been given title to their land, but not before the death of their family member who launched the claim,” reports CTV:
Wanque Simmons’ grandfather tried for decades to get title to the land where he built their family home.
Wanque Simmons says the case may never have been dealt with were it not for lawyer Angela Simmonds. As a law student working for the Nova Scotia Barristers Society in 2014, she discovered a huge backlog of applications.
“Then I just started researching about the application process and I realized that it was a much larger problem and it really wasn’t a property issues, it was a human rights issue,” says Simmonds.
It was something Matthew Moir had run into many years earlier as a young lawyer at Dartmouth law firm Weldon McInnis. He worked on some land title files and also contacted the Department of Natural Resources.
“There was a person who was designated at that time to be in charge of the files. I don’t recall his name anymore, but he told me, ‘Yes, technically that’s my designation, I’m the one responsible to do this but I’m not doing them because there’s no money to do this,’” Moir says.
Money finally became available last year when the current provincial government allocated $2.7 million for this program. Last December, close to 20 years after her grandfather’s original application and only with the help of Matthew Moir, the Simmons family finally got the land title certificate.
Let’s credit the students in the NSCC journalism program, who brought attention to the issue with their “Untitled” project.
6. Racial slurs
A Dartmouth High coach had his car vandalized with racist graffiti, and El Jones found racist graffiti in the Dalhousie Student Union stairway — the graffiti specifically targeted her “Black Power Hour” radio show.
7. Has a Lebanese man been murdered in Halifax?
Was there a murder in Halifax that no one here knows about?
Over the weekend, the usually reputable Naharnet, an online “news portal” for Lebanese news, reported that:
Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday expressed “regret and deep sorrow” over the murder of Lebanese young man [name removed, see below] in the Canadian region of Halifax.
“Minister Jebran Bassil has instructed the Lebanese embassy in Canada to follow up on the case in order to unveil the details of this horrible crime and the motives behind it,” the ministry said in a statement.
Offering condolences to the victim’s family and the sons of the Bekaa town of Majdaloun, the ministry urged media outlets to “seek accuracy in publishing news related to this murder and not to fabricate stories and scenarios that may have nothing to do with its real motives.”
“Await the outcome of the investigations, which are still underway, out of respect for the feelings of the victim’s family,” the ministry said.
It also noted that “the Lebanese embassy in Ottawa and the honorary consulate in Halifax are following up on the case with the relevant authorities.”
“They are in constant contact with the mother of the victim and have utilized all their capabilities to help unveil the truth and speed up the transfer of the body to Lebanon,” the ministry added.
Other Lebanese sites have the same report.
But neither the Halifax police nor the RCMP have reported such a murder, or any murder at all, in Halifax or in Nova Scotia over the past week.
Jebran Bassil, usually spelled in English as Gebran Bassil, is in fact the minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, but neither his Twitter feed nor the Ministry’s website has any notice about a Lebanese national being murdered in Halifax.
I was assuming this whole thing was fake news produced by some intra-Lebanese political conflict I couldn’t possibly understand, but decided to check with the consulate just to make sure.
The Lebanese consul in Halifax is none other than Wadih M. Fares, the developer.
I called the Lebanese Consulate this morning just after it opened at 9am, and spoke with Ida Hachem, Fares’ assistant. Hachem was extremely reluctant to discuss the reported murder, but did acknowledge that the consulate had been contacted by Foreign Affairs Minister Bassil, and that the consulate has contacted the Halifax police. Hachem said she couldn’t speak further to the matter today, but asked that I call her back tomorrow.
Ten minutes after I spoke with Hachem, she called me back to ask for the specific websites where I read of the purported murder.
I also called Halifax police this morning to ask about the media reports, but they haven’t responded as of this writing.
Update, 10am: there are some indications that a man from Lebanon may have taken his own life in Halifax. The fact that the Foreign Ministry has called this a “terrible crime” and news reports refer to it as a “murder” suggest there is disagreement about the cause of the death. But for the time being, I’ve removed the man’s name from this post.
Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — MLA Claudia Chender will speak to the committee about her desire to amend the Municipal Government Act such that elected municipal officials will be eligible for parental leave.
Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — council having kicked the proposed police budget back to the commission, Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais is recommending that his proposed increases in staff be deleted.
Advisory Committee for Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — no new action items on the agenda.
City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — a full, but not very exciting, agenda.
No public meetings.
Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — no action items.
Legislature Sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)
Thesis Defence, Engineering (Monday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Benjamin Sponagle will defend his thesis, “Temperature Control of Handheld Electronic Devices using Latent Heat Energy Storage.”
Woodwinds Recital (Monday, 11:45am, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Students of Patricia Creighton, Christine Feierabend, Brian James, Suzanne Lemieux, and Eileen Walsh will perform.
DMRF/Heidelberg Engineering Gift Announcement (Monday, 1:30pm, Atrium, Life Sciences Research Institute) — “a special celebration of philanthropy and research to highlight Heidelberg Engineering’s philanthropic support of ophthalmological research.”
Number Theory Seminar (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 227, Chase Building) — Michelle Bouthillier will speak on “Representations of Epitrochoids and Hypotrochoids.”
Senate Meeting (Monday, 3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — the Senate will discuss the Board of Governors’ divestment report.
“The Ownership of her Womb”: Black Women, Reproduction, and Slavery in Canada (Monday, 6pm, Room 104, Rowe Management Building) — Afua Cooper will speak.
Quantum Magic Games (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 310, Chase Building) — Neil Julien Ross will speak. His abstract:
In this talk, I will discuss two-player cooperative games known as quantum magic games. These games have the property that players sharing quantum resources can win the game with certainty whereas players sharing only classical resources cannot. During the talk, I will introduce quantum magic games and review known results.
“Fast Times at Library and Archives Canada. Imagine Sisyphus Happy!” (Tuesday, 4pm, Great Hall, University Club) — Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, will speak.
Loving Couples (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — screening of Mai Zetterling’s 1964 film.
In the harbour
5am: Bilbao Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Fos Sur Mer, France
6am: Horizon Star, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from Bay Bulls, Newfoundland
11:30am: Bilbao Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
More snow than I thought.