News

1. Illegal deposit

Kirsten Parnell — Contributed

“A Halifax woman says she was denied an apartment after refusing to pay an illegal deposit to her prospective landlord,” reports Zane Woodford:

Kirsten Parnell has been looking for a place since she moved back to Halifax more than a month ago. She thought she’d lucked out two weeks ago with an apartment at Wedgewood Court, off Kearney Lake Road near Highway 102. WM Fares is the landlord.

Parnell, 21, needed a cosigner to apply and had one, but the landlord also asked her to pay first and last month’s rent up front, on top of her damage deposit.

That’s illegal under Nova Scotia’s Residential Tenancies Act

Maurice Fares, vice president at WM Fares, said it’s just a miscommunication.

“That’s not actually what our policy is at all, and obviously it was a miscommunication potentially between both parties,” Fares said.

Rather than rejecting tenants with no credit or bad credit, Fares said the company will ask for “extra security.”

“This is kind of a solution that we came up with to try to help people into apartments versus ultimately rejecting the application,” Fares said.

“And we find obviously, in today’s market, apartments are in really high demand and it’s really in an effort to help new people to the city, new people to the country, and that’s kind of how we viewed it.”

When the Examiner suggested that’s still illegal, Fares said it’s not a deposit.

“We never looked at it as, ‘Hey, we’re breaking the law, illegal,’ nothing. We just said, ‘Hey, what’s the solution?’ Like, ‘Look, how can we accept tenants in today’s market?’” Fares said.

Click here to read “Landlord asked Halifax tenant for illegal deposit, denied apartment when she refused.”

2. Nurses

Photo: Nova Scotia Nurses Union

“According to data from NSH, two months ago there were approximately 1,555 vacancies for registered nurses (RNs) and 364 vacancies for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) at hospitals across the province,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

At the end of March, Ottawa announced funding of about $51 million to assist the province with the backlog, but no concrete plan has emerged.

Since December, NSH has made bonuses of up to $10,000 available to attract nurses to “hard to recruit” locations outside Halifax, or in “hard to recruit” specialties such as mental health and surgical nursing positions at hospitals everywhere, including in HRM.

But in Nova Scotia, nearly six months after the $10,000 signing bonus was discreetly introduced, only 24 registered nurses have signed on.

Click here to read “Nurses aren’t signing up for jobs despite Nova Scotia Health’s offer of bonuses.”

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3. Black Excellence Day

Lem Sealey is the African Nova Scotian Student Support Worker at Rockingstone Heights Junior High and J.L. Isley High Schools. Photo: Lem Sealey.

“On Friday, public schools across Nova Scotia will take part in Black Excellence Day to celebrate the stories, art, and innovations of Black people and their communities,” reports Matthew Byard:

Lem Sealey is one of several African Nova Scotian student support workers in schools across the province. Sealey works with Black students at Rockingstone Heights Junior High School and J.L. Isley High School, which are both in Spryfield. To celebrate Black Excellence Day, Sealey said he’ll be hosting a Black history quiz he was already planning prior to the announcement of Black Excellence Day…

Sealey hosted this Black history quiz last school year. He said many of the students gave him great feedback.

“When you only roll (out Black history) in junior high and elementary, and you bring out Rosa Parks, Viola Desmond, and Martin Luther King Jr., all these other Black heroes and African heroes … are just kind of forgotten,” Sealey said in an interview with the Examiner. “What I do with my quiz, I try to ask questions that I know the students won’t typically know. I’m hoping they’re learning something.”

Click here to read “Schools across Nova Scotia to celebrate Black Excellence Day on Friday.”

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4. Bernadette Hamilton-Reid

Bernadette Hamilton-Reid. Photo: Matthew Byard.

Byard also interviewed community advocate Bernadette Hamilton-Reid:

Hamilton-Reid is from the Black community of Beechville and has family roots in Cherry Brook, Lake Loon, and North Preston. After graduating from the former Sir John A. Macdonald High School, she attended Dalhousie University where she studied for two years in the bachelor of commerce program.

She said she’s now an “empty-nester” after raising two children. She served on school advisory councils and was the African Nova Scotian school board representative on the former Halifax Regional School Board. In March 2019, she joined DPAD [the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition] in her current role.

“I love the work that DPAD does because it gives a strong voice to African Nova Scotians for advocacy,” she said. “Being a strong Christian woman I feel that is where God has ordered my steps to be a voice and to support my colleagues in whatever way I can through DPAD. It’s been a blessing to be there.”

She pointed to DPAD’s notable achievements, including its work in drawing attention to the racial disproportion in police street checks, which ultimately resulted in the practice being banned in the province. The province also awarded ANSDPAD $4.3 million to open an African Nova Scotian Justice Institute.

She honed in on the statistic that Black Nova Scotians make up a mere 3% of the province’s population compared to 16% of the prisoner population as evidence of the need and significance of such initiatives.

Click here to read “Bernadette Hamilton-Reid talks advocacy, economics, and connectivity in the Black community.”

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5. COVID

The weekly newly reported COVID death count since January. Note that due to a change in the reporting period, the week ending April 11 has just six days.

Ten people are reported to have died from COVID last week (June 9-June 15).

By age cohort, the newly reported deaths are:
• under 50: 1
• 50-69: 1
• 70+: 8

During the same reporting period, there were 28 hospitalization due to COVID. This is a significant decline from the 49 hospitalizations the previous week.

The 28 hospitalizations by age cohort are:
• under 18 — 0
• 18-49: 2
• 50-69: 7
• 70+: 19

Nova Scotia Health reports the current hospitalization status:
• Currently in hospital for COVID-19: 21 (3 of whom are in ICU)
• Currently in hospital for something else but have COVID-19: 121
• Currently in hospital who contracted COVID-19 after admission to hospital: 66
The above figures do not reflect any hospitalizations at IWK.

Weekly new (PCR test) case count since January. The gap reflects a temporary change in the reporting criteria that makes weekly comparisons impossible. Also, due to a change in the reporting period, the week ending April 11 has just six days.

Also, in the same reporting period, there were 1,950 new lab-confirmed (PCR tests) new cases, up from 1,474 the previous week. This does not include those who tested positive with the rapid take-home tests or those who didn’t test at all. The Department of Health explains the slight increase in new cases as follows:

Starting this week, the number of lab-confirmed cases includes people who have COVID-19 for the second time or more. Reinfections were not previously included in data reports because the number was small. But with the emergence of the Omicron variant, reinfections have become more frequent, and that is why Nova Scotia will now include them in the reported lab-confirmed cases. This change is part of the reason for the increased case numbers this week.

The above chart shows the age-adjusted hospitalization and death rates by vaccine status, December 8, 2021 to present.

“Person-years” means the number of people over a set period of time. So, if you study 100 people over one year, there are 100 person-years, and if you study 10 people over 10 years, there are also 100 person years. In this case, the people are being studied over six months (Since December 8), and the “crude rate” is the number of people who were hospitalized or died in each category, per 100,000 in each vaccination status.

“Age-adjusted” recognizes that Nova Scotia’s population skews elderly and is better vaccinated than other jurisdictions in Canada, so to make meaningful comparisons, the data reflect what the rate would be if Nova Scotia reflected the “standard” Canadian age and vaccination distribution.

“Risk reduction” means simply that — for the population as a whole, those who have three doses are 92.6% less likely to die than those who are unvaccinated.

Note that some of the hospitalization data in the above chart are missing.

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6. The killer’s past as an embalmer

As I’ve been covering the Mass Casualty Commission, there’s been one bit of information that has been elusive. Several witnesses have told commission investigators that before he became a denturist, the killer (who the Examiner identifies as GW) was an embalmer.

GW’s embalming past was raised by Robert Doucette, who was interviewed by police on April 19, 2020, just hours after the murders had ended. Doucette was a carpenter who sometimes worked for GW.

Doucette told police that GW “has a habit of making fires 20 feet wide, 40 feet long, 15, 20 feet high to burn bodies. He’s been doing this for years… if you shift through them ashes, I’m sure you’ll find something. He’s been a sexual predator in that area for 15 years or more, and a lot of these people were summertime cottage goers and they just disappeared. Some of them he even could’ve brought back from Maine, I don’t know…  I asked him about it [the fires], and he said, ‘the only way to get rid… of [a] body is either to use a lot of lime or just make a fire.’ He said fire’s a lot quicker… he was always telling me ways to get rid of bodies.”

There’s no other evidence that GW killed anyone before the murder spree of April 2020, and a forensic investigation of GW’s property found no human remains. Doucette also claimed that GW was dealing drugs in the Economy area, and that hasn’t been corroborated by any other witnesses. But much of Doucette’s statement aligns with other evidence, and while the specifics of Doucette’s claims of drug dealing aren’t repeated by other witnesses, some witnesses have said they were aware that GW was in possession of drugs and implied that he used the drugs on women he was having sex with. As well, Doucette’s “sexual predator” claim aligns broadly with other evidence.

What exactly was GW’s knowledge of embalming, and could that have been used to dispose of bodies?

Kortney Adams, the executive manager of the Nova Scotia Board of Registration of Embalmers And Funeral Directors, told me that her organization has “no record of [GW] successfully obtaining his embalmer license.” Wayne Page, the New Brunswick registrar, told me the registry’s records from the 1990s are in disarray, but he thought he would remember GW’s name, were he registered, so Page doubted that GW was ever registered in New Brunswick.

But yesterday I spoke with Nancy Matthews, the president of the board at the New Brunswick Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association. Matthews said that she vaguely remembered GW working for a  “short stint” as an employee at a funeral home in New Brunswick. “He was just a kid,” right out of college, explained Matthews, and was checking the profession out.

Matthews explained that before going through the certification process, prospective embalmers will “shadow” an experienced embalmer at a funeral home in order to decide whether the profession works for them. In GW’s case, said Matthews, he moved on without pursuing certification.

Bruce Hogg at the Hogg Funeral home in Minto remembers GW well. Hogg told me that GW worked at McAdam’s Funeral Home in Fredericton.

“He was a little hyper,” Hogg said of GW. “I didn’t think anything strange about him, but when he got a hold of something he went all in.” When Hogg saw the photo of the fake police car GW had assembled, Hogg said it didn’t surprise him, as it fit GW’s personality — “it was immaculate, he went at it full force.”

Matthews remembered that when the Swiss Air disaster happened in 1998, GW was one of many embalmers assembled in anticipation of a large number of fatalities. Hogg didn’t remember GW being involved in Swiss Air.

GW’s friend, the Toronto lawyer Kevin Von Bargen, remembered GW discussing the Swiss Air disaster. “When the Swiss Air was — so he was, you know, he talked about, you know, processing the bodies coming ashore on that,” Von Bargen told police investigators on April 21, 2020.

But I’ve been otherwise unable to find any documentation that places GW in the Swiss Air recovery operations.

“I asked him why he left that profession,” said Von Bargen. “He says, ‘well, I was sort of the junior mortician, and the funeral homes or whatever, they’re the guys who sort of keep the money, so … I was working my ass off making very little money, I wasn’t going to get rich at that job.’”

GW’s ex-wife told Mass Casualty Commission investigators that after she and GW moved from Fredericton to Nova Scotia, GW began working at the Walker Funeral Home in Dartmouth. Hogg recalled GW working at Walker as well.

Hogg also remembered attending a continuing education class that GW had also attended. “He wasn’t practicing as embalmer, because he was a denturist by then, but he was keeping his certification up to date,” Hogg told me. So the lack of any certification records for GW in Nova Scotia surprised Hogg.

The embalmers I spoke with yesterday were all very gracious and helpful. Whatever GW’s past experience as an embalmer, it’s not a reflection on the profession as a whole.

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7. Masculinity, as defined by a friend of a mass murderer

Klaus Nienkamper Jr. Photo: decorationaccess.blogspot.com

Kevin Von Bargen, the Toronto lawyer, told police that he had been introduced to GW by a mutual friend, Klaus Nienkamper, because the three shared a passion for motorcycles.

Klaus Nienkamper Sr. is the renowned Toronto furniture designer; his son, Klaus Nienkamper Jr., now runs the business, but is well known in the motor bike world. A 2015 Globe and Mail profile of Nienkamper, Jr. explains that:

Twenty years ago, he took over Klaus by Nienkamper and freed his father to focus on the manufacturing side of the family-owned business.

These days, the store sees a steady stream of customers, the lion’s share of them men.

Most are drawn in by Nienkamper himself, a self-confessed guy’s guy who loves dirt bikes as much as De Stijl, among other icons of modern furniture design. And it is his rough-edged masculinity that informs what he carries in his shop; he chooses the pieces that he would buy for himself if he were his own customer — which in many ways, he is.

His own taste runs towards edgy industrial design, generally anything with a hard metallic finish and a bit of machinery attached. In this regard, Nienkamper is like most guys when it comes to furnishing their own spaces.

“We love things that are mechanical and that we can touch. It’s really a black-and-white thing,” he says matter-of-factly. “Men like the obvious. Men want art work that’s a picture of a gun enlarged seven feet high. I don’t know a lot of women who want that.”

Nienkamper carries portraits of said guns, along with sophisticated objects that run the gamut from an $11,000 tufted leather sofa made by his father and recently reissued as part of the family’s heritage furniture collection to a $25,000 over-sized pendant light fashioned out of industrial scrap by celebrated U.K. designer Tom Dixon – pieces that are popular with Klaus’s male clientele.

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Views

Italianate style

Keith Hall and the Benjamin Wier House as viewed from Government House. Photo: Stephen Archibald

Writes Stephen Archibald:

In the 1860s the commercial gentry of Halifax filled the downtown with palaces of business constructed in a style reminiscent of the palazzos of merchant princes of renaissance Florence, Rome or Venice. This flamboyant Italianate style of architecture was a display of wealth and power at a moment of prosperity in the city.

In early May I led a Jane’s Walk along Hollis and Granville Streets to look at surviving examples of this Italianate style. Preparing for the walk encouraged me to take a closer look and learn from buildings I thought I knew. Here are some things I noticed.

Archibald gives us a tour of Keith Hall and the Benjamin Wier House.

“Alexander Keith’s biography describes him as a good citizen who was very invested in the Masonic Lodge,” notes Archibald, and surely the uncle cannot be responsible for the misdeeds of the nephew (let’s hope not, anyway):

But if we’re talking about bizarre Canadian villains, there’s one name who stands out above all others. A man who was born into wealth, but betrayed his family to become a freelance spy, con artist, bioweapons pioneer, and ultimately the most notorious terrorist of the 19th century. We’re talking, of course, about Alexander Keith Jr. Or as Victorian-era newspapers preferred to call him: the Dynamite Fiend.

Archibald has less regard for Wier:

Benjamin Wier (1805-1868) is a good example of why you might not want to name houses after random people from the past. He built this beautiful house but only lived in it for a couple of years before he died in 1867. His biography describes an “unmannered malcontent” businessman and politician who I would be happy not to know. In politics his legacy was ensuring the patronage system was securely in place.

Wier was probably able to build his lavish house with profits from trading goods with the southern slave owning states during the American Civil War. Today Wier is best known as the agent who helped reprovision the Confederate gun ship Tallahassee when it took refuge in Halifax Harbour.

Click here to read “Italianate Palazzos on Hollis Street.”

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Government

No meetings


On campus

No events


In the harbour

Halifax
05:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
05:00: Glovertown Spirit, barge, with Lois M, tug, arrives at Cherubini Dock from Sydney
06:00: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain (itinerary)
16:00: Zircon, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Good Hope, Louisiana
16:30: ZIM Monaco sails for New York
20:00 Zircon sails for sea
01:30 (Saturday): Atlantic Sun sails for Hamburg, Germany

Cape Breton
14:00: CSL Kajika, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea


Footnotes

I’m beginning to think that Trump fellow may be a problem.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. “[Men] love things that are mechanical and that we can touch. It’s really a black-and-white thing,” he says matter-of-factly. “Men like the obvious. Men want art work that’s a picture of a gun enlarged seven feet high. I don’t know a lot of women who want that.”

    Really?

    That’s all I can really say about this comment. Perhaps this guy’s world needs expanding, especially his circle of male acquaintances.