1. New police headquarters
“Halifax’s chief administrative officer says the city needs to find a location for its long-delayed new police station by the end of the next fiscal year,” reports Zane Woodford.
During a meeting on Wednesday, municipal finance staff gave the board a look at the long-term capital budget plan for HRP.
Listed starting in 2025-2026 is the new headquarters, at $500,000. There’s another $1.5 million budgeted for 2026-2027, $8 million in 2027-2028, and then $90 million listed between 2028-2029 and 2032-2033.
Crystal Nowlan, director of asset management, said the current plan would see the new headquarters built by the end of 2028-2029.
“The numbers that are there are purely based on conception right now until there’s a determination on the service side of what kind of size and structure of a building would be needed,” Nowlan said.
“Those numbers could drastically change.”
Last night’s meeting was also the first for new acting chief, Don MacLean.
“More than a thousand people gathered in downtown Halifax on Wednesday for what became a tense demonstration between groups of protesters and counter-protesters over 2SLGBTQIA+ policies in schools,” I reported on Wednesday.
A number of officers with the Halifax Regional Police stood between members of both groups in Grand Parade, and one demonstrator was arrested.
Police estimate that a total of 1,200 people were downtown for the event.
The group calling itself 1 Million March 4 Children organized protests in communities across Canada for Sept. 20. They said they were protesting what they call gender ideology in schools.
Meanwhile, a larger group of counter-protesters also showed up in downtown Halifax. Prior to Wednesday’s demonstration, that group promoted itself with posters on social media that said “No space for hate.”
The counter-protesters shouted, “we’re here, we’re queer, we won’t disappear,” and “protect trans children,” and held up signs that said “protect trans children.” The 1 Million March 4 Children protesters shouted “protect our children” and waved signs that said “education not sexualization” and “I belong to my parents.”
I have more on this issue in Views below.
“Halifax didn’t bother to submit a claim for the money it spent cleaning up after Hurricane Dorian in 2019, municipal staff revealed in a meeting on Wednesday,” reports Zane Woodford.
Council’s Audit and Finance Standing Committee met virtually on Wednesday to discuss the $20.5 million HRM has spent on Hurricane Fiona, the Tantallon wildfire, and flooding in Bedford.
As the Halifax Examiner reported on Tuesday, the municipality expects to recoup most of that money, but it’s going to take a while.
Mayor Mike Savage told the Examiner the other levels of government should act faster to make Halifax whole, and he reiterated those comments during Wednesday’s meeting.
Chief financial officer Jerry Blackwood told councillors the municipality will get the money, but it will be a while.
“There’s a good level of assurance that we will receive that money,” Blackwood said. “It’s just that it’ll be four, five, six years out.”
“The jury in the Randy Riley murder trial will have to grapple with an essential question: Why did Paul Smith change his story?” Tim Bousquet wrote on Wednesday.
During the current trial, the Crown has suggested that Paul Smith feared for his safety. He didn’t want to be known as a “rat,” and feared coming back to Halifax at all. Moreover, suggested the Crown, the reversal of Paul Smith’s story corresponded with Riley’s appeal application to the Supreme Court of Canada, and so perhaps Paul Smith hoped that his new story would assist Riley.
Paul Smith has given a different reason for changing his story: he had a crisis of conscience.
“I just want to do the right thing,” Paul Smith said in court Tuesday. “I gave some false information and, like, I don’t want two people to go to jail that never had anything to do with it over some stuff I said that was false.”
Bousquet is back at the courthouse today and will have another article soon.
5. Peggy’s Cove patrols
Paul Palmeter at CBC learned about the safety patrol program at Peggy’s Cove that has security guards stopping people from going onto the black rocks.
Last August, a new Peggys Cove safety patrol was developed to warn visitors about slippery rocks close to the water’s edge and the security team has done that 3,600 times since then.
“It’s meant to be about education and informing people who are unaware of the dangers of the sea and exactly where the risk areas are,” said Todd Brayman, director of operations and procurement with Build Nova Scotia, the provincial Crown agency overseeing the patrol.
“Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who just don’t appreciate the dangers that are present at Peggys Cove.”
About 700,000 visitors make their way to the Peggys Cove lighthouse every year.
Brayman said patrol members are there for twelve hours a day, seven days a week, for most of the year. The only time it is not staffed is during the winter months.
No one has been pulled from the water since the program started in 2022.
Last week, Nathan Coleman at The Weather Network spoke with one of the security guards who said in one day she stopped 77 people from venturing out onto the black rocks.
Parents’ rights, children’s rights, and the law in Canada
After Wednesday’s protests in downtown Halifax, I decided to speak with David Fraser, a privacy lawyer with McInnes Cooper. Fraser has been sharing information about parental rights and children’s rights on his Twitter account, including parents’ and children’s rights in relation to changes in policy 713 in New Brunswick, which will forbid teachers in that province from using a student’s preferred pronouns without a parent’s consent. The government of Saskatchewan introduced a similar policy in that province. Fraser and I spoke more in-depth on parents’ and children’s rights and the law during our chat on Thursday.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Can you break down the definition of parents’ rights and children’s rights under Canadian law?
The context in which this has been litigated in the past has almost always been medical treatment for children. For example, when you have members of a particular religious faith who do not believe in things like blood transfusions and have refused on behalf of the child a blood transfusion when a medical team has said this is a life-or-death situation, and therefore, the child should receive it. There is Supreme Court [of Canada] authority that says that the right to be a parent or the right to control your child isn’t in the Charter; the Charter doesn’t get so specific, but everybody does have a Section 7 interest in life, liberty, and security of the person. The courts have said the right of a parent to parent their child can be found in Section 7, but it’s never absolute because at the same time, a child is a human being, not property, and every human being has human rights, has civil rights, and has charter rights. And those rights exist independent of the parents. In the vast majority of cases, they align, but if they diverge, that’s where you get into these sorts of questions.
That would be around the medical issue, but in terms of concerns about the issues with children in schools, pronoun use, and consent?
Like so many things in the law, you take cases that aren’t the exact same facts, but you pull the principles out of them, and you look at how those principles would work in a different scenario. The best articulation I’ve seen of this in this particular issue is the publication released by the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate in New Brunswick about two or three weeks ago. It has a whole section on this and the advocate in New Brunswick is super smart and does a really good job of it. A kid has charter rights, kids have civil rights, but kids also have privacy rights. And the key of it in these cases, is actually similar to the consent to health care. A kid gets to consent or not consent where they have the capacity to consent. That capacity can be presumed — or presumed to not exist at certain ages, which come across as arbitrary, you can say 18, you can say 16, things like that — but what it really comes down to is “does this specific child have the capacity to understand what it is they are consenting to or not consenting to?” At that point, they are the autonomous decision maker. And in the vast majority of cases, again, it doesn’t diverge from the parents’ interest, and the parents will largely be in the driver’s seat. But if those interests diverge, and the kid is capable of making that decision, then it’s up to the kid. In the context of the New Brunswick policy, and what’s been said to happen in Saskatchewan, and what complementary things that have been said about it by the Ontario government, it comes down to, “does the kid have the right, that comes from the ability, to control whether or not information will be provided to the parent?” Some provinces have statutes that say unless the kid is emancipated or has a different guardian, parents have a right to access to the school record and things like that. Those are based on arbitrary ages. But in a scenario where a child confides in a teacher — I’m talking about a mature child who is able to make those decisions — says to a teacher or talks to them about gender issues or things like that, and they say, “Please, do not tell my parents,” privacy laws would say that needs to be respected. The child is autonomous and is able to make that decision. What is being implemented in New Brunswick and elsewhere, would override that privacy interest, which the Supreme Court of Canada says is intimately and inherently connected to human dignity.
When the government of Saskatchewan said they are going to use the notwithstanding clause, and now the premier of New Brunswick talks about using the notwithstanding clause, it’s worth pausing for a moment. The notwithstanding clause can say that a provincial or federal law can operate notwithstanding a Charter right in Section 2 or Sections 7 to 15. Whose Charter right are they abrogating? It’s the child’s. It’s the child’s Charter right to make their own decision, if they are capable of doing so. In some extreme cases, like the blood transfusion cases, it’s the state stepping in to act in the best interest of the child, but we’re not at that extreme here, although a whole lot of people on the internet and Grand Parade would think it’s the state interfering in the schools, but they’re not. But invoking the notwithstanding clause is to say “hey, we are setting aside the Charter rights of the child.” For a group of people who are yelling about ostensibly protecting children, I don’t think that’s a good look. And it does treat children as though they are the absolute property of their parents, which they absolutely are not. The child is a human being.
Some of the signs at the rally on Wednesday said “I belong to my parents.”
There was a tweet I came across from Dr. Ardath Whynacht who talks about her experience [at the protest], and as someone who does research on violence and abuse, that is grooming in a pretty significant way. You are teaching your children they are property and absolutely laying the foundation for parental abuse and things like that.
This privacy piece about students asking teachers not to tell their parents about their preferred pronouns, has that ever been applied to anything else?
I haven’t really looked into it. I was actually thinking of doing something on this on my YouTube channel in the coming weeks. It probably has come up in the context of reproductive health care, abortion. Can a 14-year-old or a 15-year-old access that medical care and specify that their parent is not going to be informed? We do have some privacy laws that say, in effect, they are proposed amendments to our federal privacy law that are going to explicitly say if the person is a minor, their decision making under these privacy laws can be exercised by a parent, their guardian, or their tutor, which is a Quebec term, unless the kid is able to make that decision on their own. If they are, then they are the decision maker. Then they are the ones who decide whether or not to consent to any collection, use, or disclosure of their personal information, which trumps the statute of their parent.
Is there any age around this or does it depend on the case and the child?
The thing that makes it very difficult to operationalize is the fact that there isn’t a bright line. In some cases, you have the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act in the United States, which sets 13 as the age at which anything below that, the kid needs to have parental consent for online collection of their personal information. You’re presumed at the age of 19 in Nova Scotia and every other province, except Quebec and Alberta, where it’s 18, to have capacity to do everything adult, including sign contracts, make your own decisions. But below that age of majority where you’re presumed to be fully adult, then it’s really circumstance specific. I think this is one of the things that may have to happen, or could happen in the schools, is if the kid says don’t tell my parents — if you have a policy where the default is “yeah, we’re going to let the parents know unless the kid says ‘no’” — that raises a flag to why doesn’t the kid want the parents to know. That could be I am not ready to talk to them about it yet. They’re not going to come down on me like a ton of bricks, but I want to be out with my friends and my classmates. But in some cases, it might be if my parents know, I will be kicked out of the house, I will be abused. That’s what we should be protecting the children against.
What happens in that case? If a child fears abuse or being kicked out of the house? What is the responsibility of the teacher? Do they have to report that?
Certainly, school policy should have something like that. But child protection legislation requires doctors, teachers, social workers, lawyers, and others to report to child protective services or the equivalent in their province or municipality that this is a child in need of protection. It would really depend on what the kid tells you, but that may trigger that obligation. If [Premier Scott] Moe in Saskatchewan makes this into a law, for example, is he going to then amend the equivalent of child protection legislation in Saskatchewan? There are a number of moving parts that will be coming to play on these things.
So, we may never see one of these cases go to court.
One good thing is the Saskatchewan policy is being challenged by a number of advocacy organizations, including the Women’s Legal Education Fund, and the New Brunswick policy is being challenged by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. The issues of the policies kind of in black-and-white on paper will be resolved, and hopefully they will be resolved before kids are forced through that process. It’s better to have it resolved by people in suits who do this professionally and can talk about it in more of an abstract than to be dealing with a child who is terrified, who is having to go through this.
Are there any other jurisdictions that have this all figured out or are further ahead than Canada is on this?
Not that I can think of. It’s funny just in terms of populist movements, this is a relatively new one that people have latched onto. I’ve haven’t seen anything like this litigated. Some aspects and some elements of it have kind of come close. There is the situation where a court in British Columbia, if I remember correctly, ordered a father not to deadname his child. That was obviously in connection with a very acrimonious family law issue. That’s a pretty significant thing for a court to say. Just because you name your child Billy when they were born, if it harms your child who has a different name now and a different gender expression, then you don’t get to do that. But that is pretty significant for the courts to say. Someone asked me on Twitter who gets to decide these things? Well, ultimately a court decides it, but there’s a whole lot of wreckage before things get to a court. And frankly, a child generally doesn’t have the resources. One thing I think is very byzantine in Canada, particularly in Nova Scotia, is that a child can’t go to court. A child has Charter rights, and Section 24 of the Charter says anybody who has Charter rights gets to go to a superior court of justice and have it resolved. But in Nova Scotia and most provinces, a child can’t litigate on their own. They have to have a litigation guardian, and there is a whole process to appointing a litigation guardian. A 17-year-old kid who is in Grade 11 doesn’t have access to the justice system in order to vindicate extremely important Charter, civil, and privacy rights.
What message would you send to parents and those who learn about parents’ and children’s rights?
I would direct them to the child and youth advocate report in New Brunswick that deals with the question directly and talks about the law, and talks about law with respect to children’s rights and parents’ rights and how they intersect and how they collide. Anybody who wants to understand the legal side of these issues, that’s a really fantastic source.
I can’t think of another situation in which we’re heard so much talk about parental rights before. Maybe just those medical cases you talked about.
I suspect there probably is some case law related to corporal punishment. That’s another place I can see that come up. I have a Charter right to discipline my children as I see fit. It’s also one of those other things where religious rights get implicated. Parents have an obligation to act in the best interest of their kids, and the law gives a fair amount of leeway for the parents to determine what is in the best interest of their kids. I had a really good conversation with my wife today, who is a Christian minister, about how this is a civics issue. This is about public schools in Canada. We’re a country governed by the Charter. The civic values schools should be teaching — and not just teaching, but living — need to be consistent with the values in the Charter. If you don’t like that, homeschool your kid. Public schools should be about citizenship, and should be about allowing people to turn into the people they can be.
Some final thoughts from me [Suzanne Rent] on all of this: I went to a high school in the late 1980s where I am certain any student who openly declared they were part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community would face violence. The school wasn’t a safe space for people who were different; we didn’t even use the term safe space then.
I am the parent of a young person and see how she and her friends are far more accepting of diversity than my generation was. I am proud of this, and wrote about it before. Our kids are all right and we’re all better off because of them.
Last week, I listened to Shawn Rouse, a parent who lives in Quispamsis, N.B., on Maritime Noon. Rouse is the parent of a 14-year-old trans child. The whole family is concerned about growing bullying of 2SLGBTQIA+ students after New Brunswick introduced changes to policies 713. Rouse said he and his family spoke out immediately about changes to the policy. Rouse said their child was also approached by classmates, who told them they were a “freak,” “worthless,” and they should “go ahead and kill themselves.”
Rouse said as the school year started this month, the rhetoric got worse from the side that supports the changes:
They feel like they’ve been given licence to go ahead and bully these kids, that they’re less worthy of respect, they’re less worthy of dignity than others, and they’ve been made into targets, even though our child has full support as far as the policy goes. They can use their chosen name and preferred pronouns in the classroom, they’re still subject to bullying and harassment from students.
Rouse said his child came out as non-binary and transitioned when they were about 10 years old. And what Rouse said about their child’s transition really stuck with me:
You take it in, you listen, you watch, and make sure they know they’re supported no matter what… people say these kids don’t have the capacity to understand this, and that has not been my experience at all. These kids know themselves much better than parents think they do.
How our children could thrive if they all had families like this, who, even though their experience with such issues might be limited, took the time to listen, learn, and support their children.
I found a new podcast to listen to: Classy by Jonathan Menjivar. I heard a bit of an interview with Menjivar about how this podcast started. He grew up in a working-class family and his dad had a trophy he won in a “hot bod” contest that he proudly displayed in their home. Here’s a description from the podcast website:
Menjivar was a blue-collar Latino kid who started working in media and became someone who likes oysters, wears cashmere socks, and is very conflicted about all of it. A reporter and senior podcast producer for Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios, Menjivar came to podcasts through public radio where he worked at shows like This American Life and Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
The collection of stories is an honest, inquisitive, and nuanced look into how class shapes our perspectives of the world and how we belong in it. The show leaves listeners deeply moved to reflect on their own experiences or reconsider how they interact with others in their day-to-day lives.
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda
Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Power House Youth Centre, Bell Road) — agenda
Using AI approaches to analyze unstructured datasets: Introduction and applications (Thursday, 1pm, Rowe Management Building) — Gene Moo Lee from the UBC Sauder School of Business will talk; info and registration here
Empowering Occupation: The bumpy road to wheelchair provision in under-resourced communities(Thursday, 6pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Amira Tawashy will talk
Piano Noon Hour Recital (Friday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre)
Academic Lecture: Artificial Intelligence and Business Analytics (Friday, 10:30am, Rowe Management Building) — Gene Moo Lee from the UBC Sauder School of Business will talk, info and registration here
Intro to Applied Theatre/Drama Therapy (Friday, 1pm, Studio 2, Dal Arts Centre) — with Samar Kattan from Université Sainte-Anne
The Impact of Child Labor on Student Enrollment, Effort and Achievement: Evidence from Mexico(Friday, 2:30pm, Room 2198, McCain Building) — Gabrielle Vasey from Concordia University will talk
Solomonic Proximities and Davidic Distancing: Old Exemplars and New Priorities in the Safavid Historical Imagination (15-17th c.) (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain Building and online) — Colin Mitchell will talk; info here
In the harbour
05:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from anchorage to Autoport
06:30: Zuiderdam, cruise ship with up to 2,364 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
06:45: Viking Octantis, cruise ship with up to 378 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Louisbourg, on a 15-day cruise from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale
07:45: Emerald Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,679 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
08:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
09:30: One Blue Jay, container ship (145,251 tonnes), sails from Pier 41 for Dubai
11:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 41 from Saint-Pierre
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Bedford Basin anchorage
15:30: One Wren, container ship (146,409 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
15:30: Zuiderdam sails for Bar Harbor
16:00: Eagle II, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Moa, Cuba
16:30: Nolhanava moves to anchorage
16:30: Atlantic Star sails for Liverpool, England
17:00: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Portland
17:30: Viking Octantis sails for Lunenburg
17:30: Torm Cavatina, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from
17:45: Emerald Princess sails for New York
21:00: Harbour Progress, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Irving Oil
22:00: Selfoss sails for Reykjavik
06:00: Silver Shadow, cruise ship with up to 466 passengers, arrives at Government Dock (Sydney) from Halifax, on a 10-day cruise from New York to Quebec City
06:30: Explora I, cruise ship with up to TK passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier (Sydney) from Qaqortoq, Greenland, on a 35-day cruise from Hamburg, Germany to New York
12:00: Elandra Corallo, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from New York
14:30: Silver Shadow sails for Charlottetown
19:00: Baie St.Paul, bulker, transits through the causeway to Aulds Cove quarry, from Georgetown, PEI
19:30: Explora I sails for Saint John
Today is garbage collection day in my neighbourhood. There’s something therapeutic about tossing out the trash (yes, I recycle, too!) My kid once said “once you toss the trash out, you don’t go digging into it again.” She wasn’t talking about garbage.