1. The Desmond file
“One year ago tomorrow, on January 3, 2017, 33-year-old Lionel Desmond parked his car on a logging road in Upper Big Tracadie, NS, just as the sun was setting,” writes Stephen Kimber:
Armed with two rifles, including an SKS semi-automatic Soviet military weapon he’d bought a few days earlier at an outdoor sports store, he made his way on foot through the woods to the modest trailer-house on the hill where his wife Shanna, his 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah, and his mother Brenda, were preparing supper. Lionel murdered them all, and then killed himself.
Finally, last week — just a few days before the first anniversary of the deaths — Dr. Matt Bowes, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer, announced he was recommending an official inquiry to better understand how what happened happened and, more importantly, “to make our system better…”
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2. Whale rescue
— Arni Lively (@ArniLively) January 1, 2018
“About 100 people turned out to a Nova Scotia beach this morning to help rescue a beached pilot whale,” reports Carolyn Ray for the CBC:
Some volunteers poured water on the whale as others shovelled out a path to the water at Rainbow Haven Beach in Cow Bay, which is about 15 kilometres east of downtown Dartmouth.
The Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) arrived with an inflatable raft that they put under the stranded mammal. Dozens of volunteers then dragged the whale to the water in a matter of seconds.
Andrew Reid, the response co-ordinator for MARS, said he’s not sure if the whale will survive, but the quick action of those who showed up improved the likelihood it will live.
3. Stadium skepticism
In the fourth in his series on the possibility that a CFL team will operate in Halifax, Francis Campbell interviews Derek Martin, the president of Sports and Entertainment Atlantic. Martin has struck a deal with the city to privately finance the construction of a temporary 7,000-seat stadium on the Wanderers Ground that will host a soccer team. The stadium is “temporary” in that much of the seating will be removed at the end of the season; because it will be on city property, the stadium will be available for other uses when there are no soccer games.
Martin expresses some welcome skepticism about a CFL stadium:
“I grew up in Hamilton going to CFL games,” Martin said. “I played high school football, university football and pro football in Europe. I love the game but I am now a parent and my two sons are not registered in football due to the risks to their brains and bodies.”
Martin said there is no assurance that fans will embrace the league here.
“The future of the sport of football is precarious and we may be a few decades late to the party. The NFL is trending down in all applicable metrics and I fear the CFL is not far behind. Our market size is also small, it’s growing but is still small and there is not a grassroots base in Nova Scotia like there is in markets that have had professional football for decades. I hear the comparison to Saskatchewan often as a similar-sized market that has embraced the CFL but there are decades of cultural immersion at play in that market that can’t simply be replicated here overnight.”
Martin is also lukewarm toward the construction of an expensive stadium to host CFL games.
“Anything is possible and Halifax has certainly been kicking the can on a stadium for a long time but I don’t believe the fundamental issues have changed,” he said. “The business case for a permanent 20,000-plus-seat stadium is difficult to make and will likely require significant public investment one way or another. As a sports fan, it would certainly be nice to have but as a taxpayer, I can appreciate the valid concerns that we have other priorities in our community.”
Martin told Campbell he wouldn’t use a CFL stadium for his soccer team.
There’s a big PR push for a stadium, and with it comes a lot of bullshit. For sure, some people will come from outside of Halifax to see a CFL game — from around the province, from Moncton, and from even farther afield. No doubt about that. But we see a little misdirection in the arguments: a stadium will seat 25,000 people, and there are 10 games, so… Anthony LeBlanc tells Campbell:
You throw 10 dates in, you’re bringing 250,000-plus people to the stadium on an annual basis. That’s real money, not to mention the benefit to the community.
No, no, no, and NO. That’s not how this works. For sure, some portion of those 250,000 people (assuming sell-outs, which is assuming a lot) will come from out of town — maybe five per cent? 10 percent? — but not all of them. The only “benefit to the community” comes from out-of-towners spending money that wouldn’t otherwise be spent here.
All the locals who attend a football game will spend disposable money they would have spent elsewhere in the community. Maybe they would’ve gone shopping at the mall or on Spring Garden Road. Maybe they would’ve spent the money at the Midtown Tavern or at Bearly’s to see a show. Maybe they would’ve gone out for a fancy meal for date night with the spouse. The point is, there’s no extra money being spent by locals attending a CFL game; it’s just shuffling their existing entertainment dollars around.
So talk of the “economic impact” of a stadium can only consider out-of-towners. Let’s call that 10 per cent of the football attendance; we’re therefore justifying spending $300 million for a stadium for 25,000 visitors a year. Let’s say the stadium is financed over 30 years, at zero interest, so $10 million a year. The economic impact of 25,000 out-of-town sports fans a year is a highly debatable subject I’ll leave for another day, but even if you assume the stadium will pay for itself through increased economic activity brought by visitors (it won’t), that’s not enough. You have to consider opportunity costs — what else could we spend $10 million a year on, and what would be the economic impact of that expenditure?
There’s a cryptic post on Ralph’s Place Show Bar’s Facebook page:
We are closing! After three decades, January 13th will be our last day on Main Street! Come visit all of us at Ralph’s Place and say goodbye! Don’t forget last AMATEUR WEEKEND JAN 12th & 13th!
You could read that two ways. Either, the business is closing and kaput, the end of strip clubs in Nova Scotia. Or, the Main Street location is closing and Ralph’s has found a new home somewhere else.
Now that Bier Markt has abandoned its Halifax plans, there’s a giant available retail space on the first floor of the Nova Centre…
Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Christa Brothers has ruled that Stacey Rudderham and Dwight Isenor are “mere busybodies.”
Rudderham and Isenor asked for a judicial review of the province’s approval of Scotian Materials application to operate a mobile asphalt and concrete plant near Fall River. The pair were previously part of a citizens’ group that unsuccessfully opposed a quarry at the same site. Brothers rejected their request.
Curiously, Brothers cited a 2012 case, Canada (Attorney General) v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society:
This appeal is concerned with the law of public interest standing in constitutional cases. The law of standing answers the question of who is entitled to bring a case to court for a decision. Of course it would be intolerable if everyone had standing to sue for everything, no matter how limited a personal stake they had in the matter. Limitations on standing are necessary in order to ensure that courts do not become hopelessly overburdened with marginal or redundant cases, to screen out the mere “busybody” litigant, to ensure that courts have the benefit of contending points of view of those most directly affected and to ensure that courts play their proper role within our democratic system of government: Finlay v. Canada (Minister of Finance),  2 S.C.R. 607, at p. 631. The traditional approach was to limit standing to persons whose private rights were at stake or who were specially affected by the issue. In public law cases, however, Canadian courts have relaxed these limitations on standing and have taken a flexible, discretionary approach to public interest standing, guided by the purposes which underlie the traditional limitations.
In exercising their discretion with respect to standing, the courts weigh three factors in light of these underlying purposes and of the particular circumstances. The courts consider whether the case raises a serious justiciable issue, whether the party bringing the action has a real stake or a genuine interest in its outcome and whether, having regard to a number of factors, the proposed suit is a reasonable and effective means to bring the case to court: Canadian Council of Churches v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration),  1 S.C.R. 236, at p. 253. The courts exercise this discretion to grant or refuse standing in a “liberal and generous manner” (p. 253).
In that case, the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society and a sex worker named “K” mounted a constitutional challenge to Canada’s prostitution laws. The chambers judge found that the Society and K did not have standing, but on appeal the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled that they did. That decision was then appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In a decision written by Justice Thomas Cromwell (a Nova Scotian appointed to the Supreme Court by Stephen Harper), the court ruled that the sex workers did have standing, so it’s interesting that the decision is cited by Brothers to rule that Rudderham and Isenor did not have standing:
This is not a challenge to legislation. This is a challenge based on unsupported environmental concerns. If there are demonstrable, environmental concerns, there are avenues for redress. With the greatest of respect, the applicants are “mere busybodies” (Downtown Eastown, supra, para. 1) and standing should not be granted.
6. Stoned dogs
“A Nova Scotia veterinarian is warning pet owners after treating an increasing number of dogs for marijuana overdose, and said he’s worried more cases might happen once pot is legalized,” reports Marina von Stackelberg for the CBC:
“Dogs are getting into people’s stash, brownies or suckers, and basically they’ve been pretty messed up by it,” said Dr. Jeff Goodall, who runs Sunnyview Animal Care Centre in Bedford, N.S.
Goodall said he can’t remember treating a pet for marijuana toxicity a few years ago.
But in the last two years, he’s had about eight dogs come into his clinic showing the telltale signs — urinating uncontrollably, wobbling, and vocalizing.
Sounds like meeting day at City Hall.
I can’t find anything about an increased in stoned dogs in the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington, where cannabis has been legalized for a year, so I’m guessing Goodall is a mere busybody. I did, however, find a Vice article about a vet who wants to legalize medical cannabis for dogs:
Now that it’s possible to legally buy and smoke marijuana in many parts of the US, it’s safe to say that weed and its by-products will be ingested freely throughout the country in the next decade. But have you ever shotgunned a blunt into your dog’s face? If you have, you’re an asshole and should never do it again. But that doesn’t mean your pooch doesn’t like to get high, especially if it’s sick. Veterinarian Doug Kramer is among a small number of experts who believe THC could help canines cope with debilitating and chronic conditions just like it helps humans. I called Dr. Kramer to see how his crusade was going.
No public meetings.
North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, Sackville Heights Community Centre) — whatever Clearwater wants, Clearwater gets.
No public meetings this week.
No public events Tuesday or Wednesday.
In the harbour
I took a few days off, which means I completely ignored all email, texts, Facebook messages, etc. I find I need to do this for my sanity. Anyway, that’s why I’ve been ignoring everyone. I think I’m going to make this a regular weekend thing.