News

1. Mass Casualty Commission: how Cst. Craig Hubley shot the killer

Cst. Craig Hubley with police dog Dux. Photo: Facebook

This article contains graphic descriptions of murders and a homicide. The Halifax Examiner refers to the mass murderer as GW.

“Cst. Craig Hubley spent the morning of April 19, 2020 in his 2015 Chevy Suburban, his service dog Dux in the back, driving around looking for a man in the midst of a killing spree,” writes Tim Bousquet, in his latest report from the Mass Casualty Commission.

At about 11:20am, Hubley worried that his gas tank was running low.

“When I left my residence at 7:30, I had a full tank of gas,” he explained in a statement he later provided to the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT). “I was now below half full. I started to think long term and that we had been a couple of steps behind GW thus far. I wanted to ensure that my vehicle was topped up in case GW continued moving in a vehicle.”

Hubley drove into the Irving Big Stop in Enfield, pulled up to the pump. GW was in a vehicle on the opposite side.

The story of how an RCMP dog-handler who was supposed to have the weekend off ended a murder spree that left 22 people dead comes from Hubley’s own statement to the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT). It contains details that are yet to be corroborated by other documents the Mass Casualty Commission intends to release next week.

“Still,” Bousquet writes, “the SIRT statement relates a gripping story of how a police constable tried to get into the head of the killer, ultimately bringing an end to the worst mass murder in modern Canadian history.”

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2. Boosting the booster: some Nova Scotians soon to be eligible for a fourth COVID vaccine

Health Minister Michelle Thompson speaks to reporters in Halifax on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

A fourth dose of COVID vaccine will soon be available for Nova Scotians aged 80 and older, nursing home residents, and seniors in other group settings.

On Tuesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended a fourth vaccine dose for seniors over 80 or living in groups. Shortly after the release of that recommendation, Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson said details on the second booster will be available in the coming days. Responding to a question in Question Period, the minister added the province “will be be quick because we already have pre-existing channels we can use to vaccinate.”

The second booster is meant to respond to an increasing prevalence of COVID cases in Nova Scotia.

Although the province has lifted public health restrictions and decreased COVID briefings, case counts have continued to rise and reported COVID deaths have been in the double digits for weeks now.

The province says 36,000 Nova Scotians have reported positive rapid tests to public health since the arrival of the Omicron variant in December. Last week alone, 800 healthcare workers had to stay home with the virus, forcing Nova Scotia Health to cancel all non-urgent surgeries at a time when there’s a backlog of 27,000 such operations.

Rising cases and hospitalizations, as well as a steady COVID death rate put pressure on the government in Question Period yesterday. Some MLAs pushed Minister Thompson and Premier Tim Houston to resume reporting COVID statistics on the daily, instead of every Thursday as is now the case.

Jennifer Henderson has the full story on that and the latest vaccine dose announcement in her article from Tuesday evening.

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3. Report explores homelessness in N.S. early in pandemic

“Authors of a new report highlighting the ‘ongoing systemic disaster’ of homelessness in Nova Scotia during the pandemic’s early months hope their work will inform future disaster responses,” writes Yvette d’Entremont.

The report, released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) Wednesday, focused on homelessness in Halifax Regional Municipality and Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The authors interviewed 28 people experiencing homelessness and 24 people working in the homelessness and housing sector, collecting data between February and mid-April 2020.

The report attempts to paint a picture of how the pandemic further marginalized an already-marginalized part of our community.

“We’ve always had a sector that’s pretty forgotten, but all the edicts that came down from public health were, ‘Stay home, wash your hands, wear a mask,’” report co-author Jeff Karabanow said.

“We completely ignored a population that couldn’t go home, that couldn’t wear masks all the time, that was out of the loop, didn’t have the communication mechanisms, and when the world shut down were really, really abandoned.”

Some of the things the report found would help homeless people through another emergency situation (from interviews with those experiencing homelessness):

  • increased addictions services and harm reduction programs
  • places for people experiencing homelessness to get coffee and have a chat
  • increased access to shelter
  • assistance to find employment

The report includes an animated explainer too, which you can find here.

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4. Halifax council cuts off salary for executive director of landfill monitoring committee, Reg Rankin

Former councillor Reg Rankin, now the executive director of the Otter Lake Community Monitoring Committee. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Halifax regional council voted on Tuesday to stop funding former councillor Reg Rankin’s salary as executive director of the community monitoring committee for the city dump, reports Zane Woodford.

The vote came after a staff report reviewing the Otter Lake Community Monitoring Committee, commissioned last summer, was presented to council yesterday. (The 15-member committee, which includes the mayor and three councillors, is tasked with overseeing the operation of the Otter Lake Landfill).

That staff report identified “several areas of concern.”

“There are instances where it is not clear whether a particular decision or action falls under the authority and discretion of the Executive Director, the Executive Committee, the Chair of the CMC [community monitoring committee] or the CMC as a whole. There is also ambiguity about which matters require voting and which do not. This has led to several disagreements, particularly where HRM representatives on the CMC feel that they have been cut out of key decisions or important communications.”

Among those HRM representatives is deputy mayor Pam Lovelace, who requested the review last August. She told council she became concerned about the committee’s governance soon after joining in 2020, especially with the lack of transparency.

“Meeting agendas are never posted, meeting minutes are not consistently posted, meeting reports associated with those minutes are not posted,” Lovelace told council. “The minutes for the executive committee are not posted. The CMC members are not even aware of when the executive committee is meeting and so on and so on.”

Coun. Patty Cuttell agreed, adding: “It’s very difficult on that committee to ask any questions about expenses. You’re almost shunned for doing so.”

Reg Rankin, whose annual salary was $36,000, has been executive director of the CMC since November 2016, shortly after his term as councillor for Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park-Wedgewood.

“Earlier that year,” writes Woodford, “as councillor, he moved and voted in favour of a motion to increase the funding for the committee, and for the executive director’s salary by about $12,000, or 50%.”

“The motion passed, but there were concerns noted in the minutes from that meeting, “in regard to a lack of information on how the funds have been spent in the past, and that information on the Community Monitoring Committee (CMC) was difficult to find, such as meeting dates and minutes.”

“Suggestions were put forward for: more transparency and accountability from the Committee; that Council needs more clarity around the Agreement with CMC; and that the CMC should provide an annual report to Council.”

Lovelace noted on Tuesday that none of that has happened.”

Rankin declined to participate in the HRM staff governance review, asking instead for an independent review done by a third party or the auditor-general.

For a full breakdown of the unnecessary expenses that HRM will no longer be funding, as well council’s concerns, read the full story.

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5. Nova Scotian won Jeopardy last night

Photo: twitter.com/Mattea Roach

We’ll end the news with a fun one today.

Mattea Roach, a graduate of Sacred Heart in Halifax, whose family still lives in Nova Scotia, won Jeopardy last night and will return tonight to defend her title. Her family in Marion Bridge wrote the message above on their grocery store sign.

Roach got a question about Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers, one she said she couldn’t miss, and won on a $14,001 bet in Final Jeopardy, identifying Reuben Klamer as the creator of the board game Life.

I missed the episode but caught my old classmate Karla Renic’s report at Global, which includes some great quotes from her adorably supportive family, and this line:

“Mattea Roach, a 23-year-old Nova Scotian now living in Toronto, won $32,001 on Tuesday night’s episode — beating out the other two competitors.”

I’d heard a Nova Scotian was going on Jeopardy this week, but didn’t realize she’s now living in Toronto until reading the article. If she wins a few more games she might actually be able to afford a decent apartment there.

Best of luck to Mattea tonight.

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Views

1. What a difference two years makes

Link to tweet and video below

Almost 15 minutes into the second overtime period of Saturday night’s national university men’s hockey final in Wolfville, Simon Lafrance took a pass on the rush and buried a quick shot past the University of Alberta’s goaltender to give his Université à Québec, Trois Rivières Patriotes a 5-4 win and the U Sports championship.

It capped a tournament two years in the making.

In March 2020, Acadia University was hosting the men’s hockey nationals at the (former) Metro Centre.

Still a journalism student then, I was covering the tournament for the Dalhousie Gazette. It was a quick gig. I reported on two games before U Sports cancelled. Cause: news from the world.

The exact date of the cancellation was March 13. There were no known COVID cases in Nova Scotia — those would be reported two days later — and we were still more than a week out from declaring a provincial state of emergency. But Hockey Canada had decided to cancel all games, so university hockey followed suit.

I thought of that Saturday night as I heard the news of Lafrance’s double-OT goal. It was played in Wolfville, not Halifax. Delays, caused by COVID, had pushed the scheduled games into conflict with the Mooseheads and Thunderbirds, so Acadia hosted at its own rink. It was played nearly two weeks after the state of emergency issued in March 2020 was lifted, in front of fans, live and in person. It was played with over 4,000 COVID cases and 51 virus-induced hospitalizations in Nova Scotia. It was played at the end of a month that saw more COVID deaths (54) than the Northwood outbreak.

There’s been a lot said about how our attitudes have shifted in this pandemic.

I remember the sense of dread that crept through the press box in 2020 as word came the tournament would likely be cancelled. A few weeks later, I came in close contact with a co-worker who contracted COVID and I waited alone by the phone for my test results, trying to remain calm. I tested negative, but spent the next two weeks almost exclusively in my bedroom, shunning not only society but also my roommates.

Now we’re just going for it. It’s bizarre.

I understand vaccinations have given us more protection against catching the virus or experiencing its worst effects, but still, it’s not just cases that are going up. As Tim Bousquet noted last week:

[There’s] a 20-fold reduction in the rate of death among cases, but there’s been a much greater increase in the number of cases, so the absolute number of deaths is larger in Wave 5 — in fact, more people have died during Wave 5 (143) than through all previous Waves combined (112).

Maybe most of us can live with COVID, but clearly not all of us can. And the number who can’t has never been higher. Yet the province — and many Nova Scotians — seem content.

Yesterday, Iain Rankin said the provincial government’s current lack of public health restrictions are out of line with public health expert opinions. In response, Houston said this:

It sounds like the member’s position is that we should lock down Nova Scotians. I’m not there, Mr. Speaker. What I would say is there are very few experts who believe zero COVID is possible.

Perhaps the member is the only one. We will continue to follow public health and do everything possible to keep Nova Scotians safe, balancing a number of factors. Their mental health, their physical health, and give them the information they need.

It really is important that we weigh the benefits of restrictions with the harms — mental health is a delicate thing in isolation. But to suggest it’s either lockdown or nothing is ridiculous. The guidelines have fluctuated in response to the situation since the start of the pandemic.

Just look at PEI right now. Today, that province is lifting most of its restrictions, but masks are staying.

Not so in Nova Scotia. Instead, the province is allowing MLAs to work from home following an outbreak in the legislature. The same province producing ads like this:

To quote a common phrase from the early days of the pandemic: strange times.

At least we can watch hockey at full capacity again.

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Noticed…

…Acting is hard

A dress rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet in Wolfville. Photo: Michelle Coleman/Valley Drama School

Last summer, the director of the Valley Drama School in Wolfville asked my friend to play Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, which her company was performing in February. Shortly after accepting, he bailed. To save face, he asked me to replace him. Mercutio was far too big a part for a novice like me, I told him, but I’d take a smaller role if they needed one filled. 

They offered me the role of Paris. I’m a nice enough guy who’s impressed more parents than daughters, so I figured the role was in my wheelhouse, and I accepted.

It was the start of my acting career. (Or the end of a long hiatus that started after my powerhouse performance as the mayor in my elementary school’s production of the Music Man).

I hadn’t been to a play since the start of the pandemic. I’m no aficionado, but I usually get out a few times a year. And I have a soft spot for community theatre and local productions. They get a bad rap, but I love them, even if they can be a bit painful.

In Wolfville, I’ve seen dozens of plays put on by local companies like CentreStage, Two Planks and a Passion, and Stage Prophets, as well as the Fezziwig Society’s annual Christmas show. They’ve ranged from terrific to terrible, but they’re always fascinated me. Local theatre has a bizarre excitement about it. And that goes double for community theatre.

There’s something delightful about seeing the town’s Catholic congregation pretend to be singing Hasidic Jews, or the local barista play Biff Loman at a theatre connected to the town café. (Yes, I have seen both of those in real life).

I admire the courage and I wanted to be part of it. I thought it’d be fun, and it was.

It was also incredibly hard.

I don’t express my real feelings very well. Trying to take dead printed words (my specialty) and imbue them with life and emotion (not my specialty) is a process. Who knew?

But through five months, one lockdown, seven days of quarantine, and countless rehearsals, I became…an actor.

My character was all exposition. Nothing big. I was what T.S. Eliot would call “an attendant lord, one that will do / to swell a progress, start a scene or two.” I had one semi-famous line: the ridiculous “These times of woe afford no time to woo.” I also had a line where I tried to tell a father his daughter was old enough to be my wife. I did my best to sell it.

In six scenes and 23 lines, I showed the full range of the human experience — or at least the full range of my acting ability. I wept and rejoiced; fought and romanced; argued, kissed, danced, and died. All of it, I hope, moderately convincingly.

Ethan, acting moderately convincingly. Photo: Michelle Coleman/Valley Drama School

Our final performance was Saturday night. Here’s what I discovered about the pains and joys of acting, and how I rediscovered my fondness for community theatre:

  1. Acting is hard. I said that already, but seriously. It is. Multiple times in my life, I’ve actively tried to look more honest when I was actually telling the truth, more appropriately sad when I was actually devastated, or more enthusiastic about news when I was actually excited for someone. Translated: I’m not even good at acting like myself. 
  2. Acting is courageous. Anyone who’s experienced community theatre knows it takes all kinds. For every theatre kid keeping their passion alive, there’s a roped-in neighbour, brother, or…reporter. We had high school drama students playing pages and the school director as Juliet. On the other hand, Lord Montague was an airline pilot and his rival, Capulet, was a science prof and high school basketball coach. After the shows, I got a lot of comments that Capulet was flat, wooden, and out of place. As a fellow non-actor, he was my hero. Little talent, but fearlessly going out there each night.
  3. They say there are no small roles, only small actors. Not true. There are also good actors and bad actors. While I fall somewhere in the middle, I lean toward the latter.
  4. Mass media is intimidating. If you have a phone you have access to all the art and culture the world has ever produced. This device distracts people from war, famine, and ecological disaster. Why should they be impressed by our production when the greatest performances in history are available cheaper and at home? 
  5. As in life, the simplest things will carry you far. Don’t look at your feet or shuffle them. Stand up straight, move with intention, and speak clearly.
  6. The pandemic really has been incredibly hard on the arts. This is no revelation, but it’s my first personal experience with something I’ve been hearing for two years. I got COVID just over a week before our first performance, meaning I missed out on three crucial rehearsals. We also had to break for over a month when restrictions tightened over Christmas. This isn’t even my livelihood and it stressed me out beyond belief. If I were depending on those ticket sales it might’ve killed me. 
  7. Speaking of ticket sales, the number we could sell changed multiple times up until our first performance. By the end, we were allowed to sell out the whole theatre. It’s tough working toward something when you don’t even know if you’ll be able to perform it.
  8. Running lines with friends and loved ones helps with memorization, but it can get goofy. “This is that banished, haughty Montague” starts getting rehearsed in a Liverpool accent if you’re practicing while watching the new Beatles doc with friends. And it can be hard to shake that come showtime. (I did though, thank God).
  9. Messiness, imperfection, and the thrill of no safety net are a rush. Sometimes you get obnoxious laughs in the audience, or you blank on lines, or stumble on stage. Once Romeo dropped his sword when he was supposed to kill me. Every performance is different. There’s a beauty in the imperfect and the ephemeral.
  10. The family you build with the cast and crew, and the support you feel from an audience of community members eager to see their friends, family, and neighbours try to recite some of the most beautiful (and baffling) verse ever written — that’s what makes it all worth it.
  11. It was fun, but I should stick to writing.

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Government

City

Wednesday

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm) — virtual meeting

Thursday

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm) — virtual meeting

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting space, Alderney Landing) — agenda here

Province

Wednesday

Legislature sits (1pm, Province House)

Thursday

Legislature sits (1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

CAPTURE – Dalhousie Voice Ensembles (Wednesday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre) — Fountain School of Performing Arts presents “ a program of mystical music featuring mythical creatures and riddles and much-loved opera scenes by marvelous Mozart.” Masks required; $15/$10; more info here

Thursday

PhD Defence: Mechanical Engineering (Thursday, 2pm, online) — Alireza Vahedi Nemani will defend “On the Post-Printing Heat Treatment of Wire Arc Additively Manufactured Ferrous Alloys”


In the harbour

Halifax
05:30: CMA CGM Chile, container ship, 149,314 tonnes, sails from Pier 42 for New York
06:00: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
10:00: Lian Xi Hu, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Antwerp, Belgium
16:30: Thalatta, car carrier, moves from Pier 9 to Autoport
16:30: 06:00: ZIM Luanda sails for New York

Cape Breton
09:00: Atlantis, research vessel, sails from Government Dock (Sydney) for sea
18:00: Mia Desgagnes, oil tanker, arrives at Dock TBD (Sydney) from Quebec City


Footnotes

  • Two interesting factoids from the University Cup: The University of Alberta outshot Trois Rivieres 70 to 40 in the final. The game-winning goal in OT was the only time Alberta trailed an opponent in the tournament, outside a six-minute stretch against St. FX in the semi-final.
  • A number of our cast tested positive for COVID after our final performance.

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Ethan Lycan-Lang

Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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