In the harbour
1. Murder in Halifax
Halifax police have issued a release early this morning on the murder of Truro police officer Catherine Campbell:
Homicide investigators in the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division have charged a man in connection with the homicide of Catherine Campbell.
At 12:10 a.m. on September 16, officers assigned to the Central Quick Response Unit located female human remains in a wooded area east of Barrington Street at North Street. An autopsy conducted yesterday confirmed the remains to be those of 36-year-old Catherine Campbell. Catherine was a constable with the Truro Police Service who was reported missing on Monday, September 14 by her employer when she failed to show up for work. Initially, police reported that Catherine was last seen at her Windmill Road address, however, the investigation has since revealed that she attended a bar in downtown Halifax in the early morning hours of September 11.
At 1:20 a.m. on September 16, investigators arrested a male suspect during a traffic stop in Clayton Park in connection with Catherine’s death. Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Calvin Garnier of Halifax has been charged with second degree murder and indecently interfering with a dead human body and is scheduled to appear in Halifax Provincial Court today.
Campbell’s murder is not believed to be related to Campbell’s work, Halifax police superintendent Jim Perrin told the Canadian Press.
The investigation is ongoing; it’s pointless to go down the rabbit hole of speculation. But there are oddities to Campbell’s life: Why didn’t the Halifax police mention that Campbell was a police officer in their initial missing person’s release? Why was a Truro police officer living in Dartmouth, an hour drive away from her workplace? Truro police constables start at around $40,000 a year; why was Campbell living in low-rent North Dartmouth when she could presumably afford pricier digs? Perhaps all of these questions can be answered by life circumstances, but at first glance it’s puzzling.
I don’t often post about crime because I think much of “crime coverage” in the media is hyperbolic and skews perceptions of risk and safety in ways that adversely affect society. But murder needs to be acknowledged and singled out in the media, not passed over. That’s because every life is valuable, police officer or otherwise.
I can’t imagine the pain and suffering of Campbell’s family, friends, and colleagues. And she was evidently a stand-up person, devoting her life to helping others. The loss is huge.
Still, in the context of murder in Halifax, Campbell’s murder is an abnormality. It’s becoming increasingly safer to live in Canada. Violent crime rates are dropping six, eight, and even 10 per cent, year after year. We’re as safe today in Canada as we were in the early 1990s, which were pretty safe compared to previous decades.
Halifax has long been an outlier in Canada. After Winnipeg, Halifax has often been second in the annual violent crime stats. Blame a history as a rough and tumble port city, a high poverty rate, social discord and racial conflict, high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, among other factors.
But if we use the murder rate as an indicator for overall violent crime, things have changed dramatically in the last few years:
Murders in HRM
That’s a 66 per cent drop in murders in just four years. To be sure, from around 2009 to 2011, Halifax and many other Canadian cities were experiencing high levels of gang warfare that pushed the murder rate upward, but we’ve returned to the murder levels not seen since the 1990s. Halifax saw eight murders in 1998 and seven in 1999.
There has been a blip upwards this year, as Campbell’s murder marks the seventh of the year in HRM. Here are the details of those deaths:
January 7: Clifford and Ida Ward and their daughter, Mildred Ward, were killed in their Old Guysborough Road home, and the house was then set on fire. Codey Reginald Hennigar was charged in their deaths.
February 6: Bahrija Hadzic was killed in her Caledonia Road home. Her husband, Sejad Hadzic, was also found dead, and police determined that the deaths were a murder/suicide.
August 12: Patrick Deagle was killed in Enfield. Later that day, Joseph James Greene, who locals dubbed “Mean Joe Green” for his long history of violence, was arrested in Kentville.
August 15: Taylor Samson, a student at Dalhousie, disappeared. His body has not been found, but police have charged fellow student William Sandeson with first degree murder.
Sometime after September 11: Catherine Campbell, the Truro police officer whose body was found under the Macdonald Bridge. Christopher Calvin Garnier has been charged with second degree murder.
The increase from last year’s six murders to this year’s seven (so far) might be a bit worrisome, but three of the murders this year were one event. And of course there’s the alleged plot for a mass shooting at the Halifax Shopping Centre, but that seems almost randomly to have dropped into Halifax.
An important consideration is that except for in the case of the murder/suicide, in which obviously no arrest was possible, arrests have been made in all the murders this year. This is a far cry from past years. There are still dozens of unsolved murders in Halifax, dating back to 1955.
I don’t think policing has much effect on the murder rate, although of course if someone is arrested they are less likely to murder again. Complex sociological factors are a better explanation for the declining murder rate (don’t tell Stephen Harper!); violent crime rates are dropping across the entire western world, and we’re much, much safer for it.
2. Conflict of interest
“Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is defending his campaign manager’s right to lobby his government on behalf of an Ontario company interested in the potential outsourcing of three provincial government registries,” reports Paul Withers:
“Every Nova Scotian can register to represent anyone who wants to do business with the government that has taken place,” McNeil said Wednesday.
Chris MacInnes managed McNeil’s 2013 election victory.
For the past year, MacInnes and his firm Group M5 have lobbied the Liberal government on behalf of Teranet Inc., an Ontario outsourcing firm that has won multi-decade contracts to operate and collect fees from provincial land and property registries in Ontario and Manitoba.
I discussed MacInnes’ conflict of interest here. But what I didn’t know at the time is that MacInnes is married to Kristan Hines, who is the Director of Strategic Operations in the Premier’s office, and who is co-chair of the federal Liberal Party’s campaign in Nova Scotia.
I don’t know how anyone can look at this situation and say with a straight face there’s no conflict of interest. The lobbyist is literally sleeping with the director of strategic operations for the premier; the “director of strategic operations” will no doubt be influential in the decision to outsource Service Nova Scotia.
(direct link to this section)
3. Pedestrian struck
From yesterday’s end-of-shift email from police sergeant Paul Robertson to reporters:
At 1040 am, a 55 year old male was attempting to cross Barrington St. at Artz St. in a marked crosswalk when a tractor trailer truck with a tan colored trailer, travelling north bound on Barrington St, struck him while he was in the crosswalk. The driver of the truck failed to stop and continued north on Barrington St. The pedestrian suffered minor injuries to his right leg. He was treated at the scene by EHS and released. Halifax Regional Police are requesting that anyone who witnessed the accident to contact police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). File is still under investigation.
1. Campaign finance
Sam Austin begins a three-part series about Halifax’s election campaign finance laws. Part 1 asks the question: Why should we care?
2. Cranky Letter of the day
To the Kings County News, responding to a previous cranky letter of the day:
I myself have noticed that a large number of these hunchbacks seem to congregate in very dense numbers at the skate park in Windsor near where I bank. And if pressed I would admit that there does seem to be a cultural divide between the hunchbacks and their more upright contemporaries.
The Hunchers seem much more interested in skateboarding and music than the souped up cars and raised trucks of their generational brethren. The hunchers seem to be more likely to be outsiders as it were.
This sort of thing often leads to reading, art, music, and lord knows what else. These are traits that could tempt a young person to explore larger cities, broadened horizons via cultural exposure and education. It is in these explorers where greatness is much more likely to spring from, rather than from those who follow the rural social norm.
It happens all the time. We may not hear of the successes because alas, they’ve left us behind in their new lives in Mtl, TO, Vancouver, etc. No, for myself I am apt to trust the hunchers a little more. The ones who push the boundaries and explore the parameters of social expectations. At least they know where they are.
And it may not be hopscotch, but those stooped kids at the skatepark are the only sign of life in the entire town of Windsor. So stoop low you crazy kids.
Community Planning and Economic Development (10am, City Hall) — the Halifax Explosion will have an emblem. So far, plans for the
celebration, er, commemoration of the Explosion include a song, an emblem, a video. Wonder if we’ll ever get around to doing some actual commemorating.
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (4pm, City Hall) — the committee will take a look at the Main Street business district in Dartmouth and consider how pedestrians might be helped.
Cole Harbour Place Master Plan (7pm, Cole Harbour Place) — more details here.
District 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee (7pm, Potter Family Auditorium, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building, 6100 University Avenue) — this is the public hearing for the proposed 29-storey building on Quinpool Road.
No public meetings.
Thesis defence, Biomedical Engineering (Thursday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Hamed Hanafialamdari will defend his thesis, “Design of Piezoelectric Oscillometry, Accuracy in Tracking Time-Varying Impedance and Implications on the Frequency Dependence of Resistance.”
Local Adaptation (Thursday, 3:30pm, Biology Lounge, 5th Floor, Life Sciences Centre) — Scott Pavey, from the University of New Brunswick, will speak on “Genomics of Freshwater Eels Demonstrates ‘Local Adaptation’ is Possible Despite Panmixia.”
Planetarium show (Thursday, 7:15pm, Room 120, Dunn Building) — Dan Arsenault will present on “Constellations in the Zodiac.” Five bucks at the door. Leave young kids (under 8) out in the car.
Robots (Thursday, 7pm, Scotiabank Theatre Auditorium) — Ian Kerr, from the University of Ottawa, will speak on “Robots, Relinquishment and Responsibility: The Delegation of Human Decision-Making to Machines”:
This presentation investigates the emerging field of robo-ethics, exploring the ethical and legal challenges that accompany our decisions to delegate human activities and decision-making to machines. Dr. Kerr also examines the issue of responsibility when things go wrong in cases of human-robot disagreement.
In the harbour
Selfoss, container ship, Argentia, Newfoundland to Pier 41
Fritz Reuter sails to sea
The cruise ship Marco Polo (up to 820 passengers) will be in port today. The Marco Polo has a history of running aground. Last year, a more disturbing incident occurred. Reports lawyer Jim Walker:
Just two days ago [on January 14, 2014], the news broke about a wave smashing windows out in the Waldorf Restaurant aboard the Marco Polo cruise ship killing one elderly passenger and injuring a dozen passengers and crew members. Passengers disembarking the 49 year-old former-Russian vessel this morning complained about the poor condition of the cruise ship.
The widow of the passenger who died when the windows exploded in said that the ship was “badly maintained.” The Daily Echo quoted her saying that ”There’s so much paint on the outside you can’t see the rust, they just slop some more on when they get to port.”
But seemingly just as soon as the passengers had disembarked the old ship, the Marco Polo was already preparing to leave on its next scheduled cruise.
The cruise ship’s operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), was quick to issue a corporate PR statement downplaying the incident. It characterized the wave as a “freak” incident, a designation which was contradicted by numerous passengers who characterized the worsening rough weather as an ongoing process requiring them to ride the ship “like a bucking bronco.”
CMV described the damage to the vessel as involving only a “small section of Marco Polo’s Waldorf Restaurant,” but it neglected to mention that the entire restaurant was flooded with 3 to 5 inches of water. Today, somehow the ship had already completed the “required reparation works,” and the cruise ship had already “been cleared to sail by the authorities.”
Just who are the “authorities” who gave the old ship a green light to again sail on the same day that it returned to port after the deadly cruise? The ship is registered in Nassau, Bahamas which could care less about inspecting the ship and will never conduct an analysis of the casualty nor issue a report for public reading.
Other basic questions need to be asked.
The article continues here.
I welcome our new robot overlords.
The conflict of interest story is so gross. I want to share this! I tell every intelligent person I know that they should be reading this site. It would be so much easier to share specific pithy items like this if you had those linky things on the page …
Here you go:
Let’s hear it for the hunchers! I’ve stopped to watch some of them at their various huncher sanctuaries aka skateparks and all I see is people having fun being social (in their way) and doing (trying to do, occasionally failing) some seriously challenging physical activity. Good on them.
The meeting for the 29 storey Quinpool development should be very interesting.
The proposals height seems so perverse and absurd that it can’t help but get past no matter what the neighbours have to say.
The planners will be in such shock and awe at such a world class development that their critical faculties will be render mute.
I want a 50 storey tower in my backyard. Cuts down on those deadly UV rays.
That’s a lovely cranky letter. I have generally found former/current skaters to be excellent employees and entrepreneurs. They’re critical thinkers and tend to have a stick-to-it-tiveness others lack. This may have to do with the fact that it’s very hard to learn skate tricks, and you tend to get hurt as you progress, so you have to really want to it.
Can we think critically about your use of the “word” stick-to-it-iveness?
I’m not claiming language doesn’t evolve and words can come about in remarkably creative ways (thanks, Wm Shakespeare, for coining “beautiful”) but usually, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. There’s no need for such an awkward, excessively long word! Here are some better alternatives:
Perseverance, tenacity, persistence, fortitude, resoluteness, strong work ethic, determination.
(How’s that for a cranky letter?)
Those murder rate numbers, I wonder, do they include the “accidental death” of Holly Bartlett? I don’t disbelieve that crime rates are consistently going down, but I wonder if part of that has to do with police departments “juking” stats?
I’m aware of several “accidental” deaths that look to my untrained eyes like possible murders, going way back. So I don’t think that’s a new phenomena.