1. Halifax CAO Jacques Dubé to resign
Halifax’s highest paid employee will be stepping down at year’s end.
As Zane Woodford reports, Jacques Dubé, Halifax Regional Municipality’s chief administrative officer for nearly six years, will resign at the end of 2022. The news was shared in a release from the HRM.
“Since September 2016, I have been privileged to lead such a dedicated staff team,” Dubé wrote in an email to HRM staff.
“During that time, HRM experienced record-breaking demographic and economic growth and became one of Canada’s top municipalities from a number of metrics and a truly multi-cultural city. Many important policies, strategies, programs and projects were adopted, delivered or are in flight that will benefit our residents for decades to come.”
Woodford details some of other highlights from Dubé’s tenure as CAO.
What’s next for Dubé is anybody’s guess, but as Woodford writes, “Dubé’s predecessor, Richard Butts, went straight from city hall to the head office at local development firm Clayton Developments — the one now benefitting from the provincial government’s ‘special planning areas.’”
2. Clayton Developments applies to clear trees early on Dartmouth sites fast-tracked for development
Speaking of those “special planning areas”….
Last month, in the name of creating more housing stock (some of it affordable?) the province announced it would fast track nine “special planning areas” in Halifax Regional Municipality.
As Zane Woodford writes in his second report from Wednesday, that means developers in those areas — there are only two: Clayton Developments and Crombie REIT — “won’t be subject to the usual public or Halifax regional council scrutiny, with recommendations being made by the unelected housing task force, comprising three provincial and two municipal appointees, and decisions being made by Housing Minister John Lohr.”
Now, Clayton Developments is looking to further fast-track two of those already fast-tracked developments, applying to “enable early tree removal and earthworks” on the Port Wallace and Eisner Cove lands.
The Examiner has already covered some of the environmental concerns in those areas.
Joan Baxter has written extensively about Port Wallace. The latest article in her four-part series the Port Wallace Gamble, came out in April and looks at what the special planning area designation means for the area, and especially for Lake Charles, downstream.
As for Eisner Cove, a large wetland near downtown Dartmouth, Woodford covered community concerns about the area back in January, when the public actually had some input. And I wrote about a community protest there in an April Morning File following its designation as a “special planning area.” Significant tree-clearing has already happened on that land, as Woodford documented in March.
This morning, the Save Our Southdale Wetland Society put out a release saying the group has found evidence of Black Ash in the Eisner Cove area, a species at risk in Nova Scotia. They are asking Minister John Lohr to stop all development plans in the area until an environmental assessment is completed.
3. Property owner wants to infill Halifax Harbour at Dartmouth Cove; federal government seeking public input
Is it cool if we fill in part of Dartmouth’s waterfront with a bunch of rock from nearby excavation projects? Inquiring minds want to know. Namely, a property owner and the federal government. Zane Woodford reports (deja vu all over again) in his third article from Wednesday:
4197847 Nova Scotia Ltd., owned by Bruce Wood, applied in March to fill its 2.7-hectare water lot, PID # 00114132 or 1 Parker St., with rock from excavation projects. According to Property Valuation Services Corporation, the property was sold in April 2021 for $800,000. The numbered company was incorporated the month before. The application, made under Transport Canada’s Navigation Protection Program, was posted online last week.
“The Project Area will be infilled with approximately 99,700 cubic metres (m3) of material, including approximately 41,900 m3 of sulphide-bearing material (i.e., pyritic slate) from local excavation projects and approximately 57,800 m3 of non-acidic quarry rock,” the application says.
The application suggests the infill could eventually be used for future development, though as Woodford reports it would likely be zoned as parkland, meaning it wouldn’t be actually developable.
Here’s a look at the plan:
This type of infilling isn’t new to Halifax Harbour. The same thing was done to build the King’s Wharf development nearby, as well as Bedford’s Mill Cove and the Fairview Terminal next to Africville.
But that doesn’t mean everyone’s okay with another infill in the area.
There are concerns about fish habitat and the impact a new access road — that rock’s got to be moved to the water after all — will have on the municipal pathway that runs along Dartmouth’s waterfront. Not to mention the basic idea that we’d be using part of Dartmouth Cove as a dumping ground.
Two of the concerned parties are local politicians: MP Darren Fisher and Coun. Sam Austin. But the applications involved in this project are under the federal jurisdiction of Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, so the two admit they might be limited in what they can do to stop the proposed dump.
4. Dartmouth man charged with wilful promotion of hate
“Mark Andrew Kozlowski of Dartmouth is facing criminal charges of wilful promotion of hatred,” reports Matthew Byard.
The charges stem from a complaint to Queens District RCMP in September 2020 about a sign outside of a cottage that read Redneck Hangout and had an image of a noose.
On Labour Day weekend 2020, Angela Bowden, who is Black, said she discovered the sign when visiting a group of friends at a cottage in Greenfield, about 30 kilometers west of Bridgewater.
“That sign was a clear indication to me that I was not safe in that part of the woods,” Bowden said in an interview with the Halifax Examiner on Wednesday.
The incident occurred only weeks after a Black family were confronted by a group of white teenagers in Chester waving an actual noose. Those teens would be charged with public incitement of hatred in May 2021.
But in this case, the charges came later, and quietly. They were laid back in March, but news of the charges came Wednesday when RCMP released a statement moments after Kozlowski’s scheduled court appearance.
5. Representation in refereeing
At the start of the month, Matthew Byard told us about two Nova Scotian football referees who were joining the new CFL Officiating Academy.
Now, the academy’s inaugural training camp has started, and Byard spoke with one of the Nova Scotians in the program, Vince Williams.
Williams, a former football player and a current African Nova Scotian student support worker at two schools in HRM, says he hopes pursuing his goal to be an official in the CFL will inspire Black youth:
“I think representation is important but I also think that if I don’t actually earn it then it’s not worth it,” Williams said. “I want to be a positive role model for youth and my community but I also want to show that I earned it and it wasn’t given to me without putting the necessary work in. Therefore, I have a lot of work to do in becoming a professional football official.”
1. Royal Flush
Charles and Camilla are wrapping up their three-day tour of Canada today.
The Royal couple are stopping in the Northwest Territories today, where, among other things, they will meet with local elders, chiefs, and educators to discuss Indigenous culture in the region and the challenges Indigenous communities are facing there.
Along with the usual pomp and circumstance, what’s surrounded this trip more than anything are calls for the Royals to apologize for the Crown’s role in Canada’s residential school system, and a newly opened, but very old, debate about the role and relevance of the monarchy in our democratic country.
First, the apology. Or, lack of one up until now.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, where the two started their trip, an apology would have been particularly fitting. Canada’s government waited almost 10 years after its initial apology to residential school survivors to acknowledge and compensate survivors in that province, which remained its own Dominion (and then dependent territory) of the British Empire until 1949. Not our responsibility, said Stephen Harper when he apologized to the rest of the country’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples for the schools in 2008.
While the Pope has declared he will travel to Canada this summer to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in an abusive educational system that helped facilitate a cultural genocide, no such apology seems to be coming from the Royals.
The Royal Family (aside from the Canadian government, I suppose) is the embodiment of the colonialism for which we are now, as a nation, trying to reconcile. Unlike the Canadian government though, the monarchy holds little relevance in the life of this country’s citizens. Why not just cut it off entirely?
An Angus Reid poll published in April suggested more than half of Canadians thought severing ties with the monarchy was the “right decision.” Only 8% thought it was the “wrong decision.” Only one-third were apathetic to the idea.
It could be constitutionally messy to do away with the Queen and her family, but let’s put that aside for now.
When I wrote about the Royals last spring — spurred by the notorious Oprah interview with Meghan and Harry — a number of Examiner readers commented to say they were in favour of keeping the current system, despite its faults. Tradition, a connection to the country’s history, and above all an apolitical figurehead to guide and unify Canadians through the ever-changing whims of democracy were the main pro arguments.
I don’t really buy any of that. History and tradition can remain alive without keeping the Queen’s portrait hung on walls at the post office. And if we really want some apolitical leader to transition our governments and promote Canadian ideals, can’t we just make the federally-appointed governor general the head of state? They’d have as much power as the Queen does now and they actually live here.
Still, reader response was far more pro-monarch than I thought it would be last spring. So quickly, I’ll examine the keep-the-Queen argument, as it relates to Crown-Indigenous relations.
Nathan Tidridge and John Fraser are two scholars who’ve studied these relations. In a 2020 article for Policy Options, they argued the governor general — and by extension, the monarchy — far from being abandoned, should take a greater role in “convening Indigenous partners” and “reflecting the values inherent in Treaty.” They write:
Before it became a colonizing force, the Crown acted as a mechanism that enabled settlers to engage in meaningful negotiations and ceremony with civilizations that were very different from their own. Confederation later disrupted these relationships, eclipsing treaties and placing them under the control of the federal government — without the consent of Indigenous People. That is why restoring the formal, or dignified, Crown (the Queen and her representatives in their personal, ceremonial and constitutional capacities) to its role as a Treaty partner is a critical step in decolonization and instilling respect for Indigenous teachings.
How could a bigger role from a colonizing Crown be a “critical step in decolonization?” Tidridge and Fraser explain further below:
The words used in defining Treaty include descriptors such as trust, honour and love, emphasizing that the personal relationships established with the holders of Canada’s highest offices, the Sovereign and her representatives, are fundamental to rebuilding the country’s Treaty relationships. Treaty binds them with their Indigenous counterparts as family – a relationship that supersedes anything that can be established with a politician or government.
When Treaty relationships are understood as being familial, contemporary and meaningful, paths toward reconciliation present themselves. Too often, state ceremonies and protocols are dismissed by mainstream Canadians as mere “pageantry” or window dressing. This interpretation runs the risk of depriving the country of effective and meaningful ways to convey and transmit our history, relationships and collective experiences.
An Indigenous teaching is that for non-Indigenous People, ceremony often bookends the real work of governments, whereas for Indigenous People, it is interwoven into the entire process. In Canada, the Queen and her representatives sit at the apex of our state and are therefore the keepers of our highest protocols and national ceremony.
The unique relationships between the Queen’s representatives and First Nations provide vehicles for convening community – bringing together diverse stakeholders in a non-partisan way to focus on a particular issue – and fostering communication that are not available to politicians tied to a system dominated by a four-year election cycle.
Let’s look at the Truth and Reconciliation Report.
None of the 94 Calls to Action outlined in that report suggest Canada should cut ties with the Royals. Call to Action 94, the only item to explicitly mention the Monarchy, asks that Canada’s citizenship oath be changed to the following:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.
The Queen’s still in there. (The oath was changed last year to include the line, “I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples”).
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
So, a separation from the Throne, at least in terms of reconciliation, might be unnecessary. But an apology from the Crown, coupled with efforts to reconcile for the institutionalized abuse, both to children and community, is definitely warranted.
Why? I’ll turn to the Truth and Reconciliation Report one more time and give the last passage to Rosalie Webber, an Inuit woman from Labrador who was taken to a school in Newfoundland in the 1940s, when the island was a British dependent territory. Here she is describing her early life in Labrador to the Commission:
It was very happy. We were always busy with the family. Everything was a family thing, you know. I remember gathering water from the one little brook that ran through Spotted Islands, where I was born. I remember, you know, the dogs. I remember my brothers and I had one sister and, I had another sister, a step-sister, but she lived in Newfoundland and I didn’t know her.
We were quite happy, you know, and my mother was a hunter like my dad. They’d go out in partridge season and, and always in competition and with a single .22 she’d come in with about 150 and he’d be lucky to make the 100. [laughter] And then the community would take it and it would be bottled and canned for winter provisions, ’cause being, being a trapper in the winter time, they all had their own trapping areas. So they, many of them went in their own traplines and as we did and my father trapped in Porcupine Bay. And so we would journey there when fishing season was over.
I was just a small child so I remember happy days.
Those days were short lived. She started school in Newfoundland as a young child, travelling there by boat. Continued from the TRC report:
[I remember] all the people, especially the younger ones crying, all of the way; being very seasick. ’Cause this boat was confined and we were used to being in the boat with our dad, in the open boat.
So when we arrived there, everybody was taken off and deloused; kerosene. Everybody crying and tired and then our hair was cut, our clothes was taken from us and we were given a bibbed, farmer’s blue jeans and the lumberjack shirts, two items of underwear and two socks and two shirts … and gumboots, which was our—what we wore for the rest of our duration there, winter or summer.
Even though her mother worked at the school, she was not allowed to speak with her: “She had one day off, I think every month and a half. No, she had a half a day off, every month and a half, but she wasn’t allowed to speak with us. It was very, very traumatic as a child, to go from a homey family environment to a sterile, where you were wakened by a bell, cleaned your teeth by a bell, made your bed by a bell.”
Clearly, an apology isn’t an exceptional ask. And the Crown has its own role to play in reconciliation, even if it (debatably) no longer has a relevant role in our country. Severing ties with the Royals is one possible way we can move on from this dark chapter of our past. Like renaming a street or removing a colonial statue, actions already being taken around the country. Getting rid of the monarchy in Canada doesn’t mean forgetting our history. But maybe that’s all the constitutional monarchy should be in this country at this point: history.
2. Modern men reading fiction: a novel idea?
I started watching the new TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s “Conversations with Friends” last night. The first episode was fairly faithful to the text, though a little slow. Like most people my age who’ve picked up a book in the last five years, I’m a fan of Rooney’s work. I never did watch the adaptation of “Normal People” — didn’t want to spoil the images of the story I had in my head, though I hear it’s great
I googled a few reviews before bed to see if it picks up as it goes along. Most reviewers say no, though some, like John Doyle at the Globe, praised the “slow burn.” Others called it a snooze-fest. I suppose I’ll keep going all the same.
Sifting through those reviews, I stumbled by accident onto an article entitled “Conversations with friends: why men need to read more novels.” In it, writer Ash Arkar wonders why more men don’t read literary fiction (or books at all for that matter), saying society loses out when a whole gender dismisses the empath-building power of prose.
Arkar notes that her boyfriend only reads non-fiction and the occasional sci-fi novel, considering novels frivulous and full of “chitter chatter.”
“And he’s not alone,” she writes. “According to Nielsen, despite men famously making up half the population, they only account for 20% of the audience for literary fiction.”
Speaking for myself, I only read non-fiction, outside of memoirs, when someone loans or gifts a book to me; I almost never seek it out. I prefer novels to TV or film for fiction because I find it easier to suspend my disbelief and get lost in another person’s world. The older I get, the harder I find it to see actors as characters instead of people playing make believe. And fellow Morning Filer Philip Moscovitch has a whole podcast devoted to reviewing books, many of them literary works. So clearly, some men are still reading these books.
But it’s hard to argue that men who read often prefer nonfiction. Arkar tries to find an explanation:
Part of this may be down to the changing landscape of authors themselves. In 2000, men made up 61% of the UK’s top selling hardbacks. By 2020, this number fell to 43%. Where straight white men used to dominate bestseller charts and prize shortlists, now it is people of colour, LGBT people and women who are both at the avant-garde of writing and driving sales in stores. Bernardine Evaristo, Paul Beatty, and Anna Burns have been lauded by the Booker committee for their narrative experimentation; meanwhile publishing houses across the country scour the internet for the next Sally Rooney. Commercially successful writing by women is, mercifully, no longer automatically designated as ‘chick-lit’.
Rather than bemoan the loss of the male novelist, as other commentators have done, it might be useful to ask where exactly the male reader of novels has gone – if he even ever existed. Even the male literary titans still clinging on, such as Booker winners Julian Barnes and Yann Martel, have audiences which are 60% female. In truth, despite the historic dominance of men writing literary fiction, the idea of a male reader has been consistently derided throughout history. Even in the novel’s 19th Century heyday, reading fiction was a feminised activity – there was something a bit sexy about women who allowed books to activate their passions (Henry James wrote that one lady’s reputation for reading a lot “hung about her like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epic.”)But men who spend too much time indoors, reading novels and living their lives vicariously through the trials and tribulations of others, were widely considered cucks. A man’s literary interest had to be justified by ambition, linked to his masculine capacity for action, or contextualised in real-world exploration.
P.A.D.S. Community Network, the Halifax volunteer group that works with and advocates for people living in tents on public HRM land, sent out a release Tuesday afternoon saying police had evicted an unhoused person from the Dartmouth Common yesterday.
In the statement, P.A.D.S. wrote they were upset police had been involved and asked Halifax regional council to clarify their policies in “engaging unhoused people seeking shelter in public parks, and to explicitly commit to respect the human rights of unhoused people trying to survive in the midst of a housing crisis where indoor sheltering options are unavailable.”
Vicky Levack, speaking for P.A.D.S., was quoted in the release, saying: “Once again HRM has shown that it is not interested in actually helping their unhoused constituents. They are more concerned about keeping this homelessness away from public view.”
This month, council passed a motion asking city staff to designate a number of HRM parks as acceptable sites for encampments. In that same motion, councillors asked staff to provide a timeline and a plan for supporting the transition of unhoused people to these designated parks “that is led and delivered by civilian HRM staff.”
This part of the motion was introduced by Coun. Waye Mason on May 3, following concerns from councillors that using police to enforce the transition to new designated park areas could lead to conflicts like those seen in August of last year.
That report is still being put together, but clearly police are still involved in dealing with the unhoused. The city’s report on Defunding the Police, which was published in January, recommended police should be “partially or fully detasked” from “responding to incidents involving unhoused persons.” The Examiner recently reported progress on the recommendations in that report has been slow.
Cst. John MacLeod, speaking for Halifax Regional Police, confirmed Tuesday’s eviction, telling the Examiner, officers had responded to a report from a city compliance officer who was asking for assistance in removing a person from the Common, and informing them they would not be able to continue residing in the park as per city bylaws. In an email, MacLeod said “the person gathered their belongings and left the park without incident.”
The evicted person was not offered alternative shelter.
Police were also called to Starr Park in late April to deal with an alleged assault involving a man living in a Mutual Aid shelter there. Police charged the man with assault causing bodily harm and threats to cause death. The incident caused tension between Coun. Sam Austin and Mutual Aid Society, as the Examiner reported at the time.
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 10am) — virtual meeting
Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm) — virtual meeting
Veterans Affairs (Thursday, 9am, Province House) — Transition from Active Service to Veteran and Homelessness Prevention, with representatives from
Functionally and spatiotemporally selective propagation of GPCR signalling; opportunities for drug discoveries (Thursday, 11am, Theatre A, Tupper Building) — Michel Bouvier from Université de Montréal will talk.
Canada’s Oceans and Coasts: Pathways to Sustainability in a Sea of Change (Thursday, 7pm, Room 1020, Rowe Building) — Elizabeth Mann Borgese Ocean Lecture, also livestreamed on YouTube; Rashid Sumaila from the University of British Columbia will speak, along with others. More info here.
In the harbour
10:00: NYK Delphinus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Antwerp
11:20: Oceanex Avalon, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from St. John’s
15:30: MSC Hong Kong, sails from Pier 42 for sea
10:00: NYK Delphinus sails for Port Everglades, Florida
21:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
13:30: CSL Koasek, bulker, moves from Pirate Harbour anchorage to Aulds Cove quarry
13:30: Algoma Verity, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
15:00: Pantelis, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
19:00: Viktoria Viking, fish carrier, sails from North Sydney Osprey dock for sea
- In other Royal news, Queen Elizabeth was in good health Tuesday, making a public appearance to visit the London Underground’s newly opened Queen Elizabeth line. She even got a pre-paid Oyster card and a lesson on how to use it. Unfortunately, London transit workers at two Tube stations announced yesterday they’d be walking off the job on the same day as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. No word yet on how this will affect Her Majesty’s commute to St. Paul’s Cathedral that Friday.
- Like I said, I like Sally Rooney’s work. She manages to capture the feeling of being young in the 21st century as well as any other author I’ve read in the past decade. Fellow Examiner contributor Leslie Amminson, who’s also a fan, boils down her appeal to her ability to build sexual tension with the sparse efficient prose of Ernest Hemingway — the manliest of manly writers. I can’t say I disagree. It really pulls the reader along. (She certainly writes women better than him, though).
- Woodford and Byard putting in the work today.