News

1. Detailed allegations of sexual assault by Shambhala leader

Carol Merchasin is one of the authors of the “Sunshine Report” that examined allegations of sexual assaults by Shambhala leader Mipham Mukpo, who goes by the title Sakyong Mipham. Tuesday evening, Merchasin updated one of the accounts in the Sunshine Report, as follows:

Within 24 hours of the Phase II Report’s June 28th airing on the Buddhist Project Sunshine blog and on Facebook, a woman came forward to tell the story of her 2002 encounter with the Sakyong in Chile. I interviewed her several times and I interviewed a corroborating witness as well. I also interviewed a kusung who came forward and was able to corroborate certain details. Once again, I will say, as I did in my prior report, that this can only be considered a preliminary investigation. A full investigation must give the Sakyong, leaders of SI and others the opportunity to give their version of this incident.

This woman alleges that the Sakyong attempted to have sex with her against her will when he came to Chile to teach in 2002. At that time, she was 30 years old. What follows are the details of her allegation and others that have been raised about this incident.

The Sakyong invited this Chilean woman to work as an assistant cook for a dinner party on his final night in Santiago, Chile. At some point in the evening, the Sakyong invited all the staff to join the gathering, because he wanted to read some poetry. He was visibly drunk. He asked the Chilean woman to sit next to him. All of a sudden, he took her hand and dragged her to the bathroom. She said that she thought he was going to vomit and that he needed her help.

Once in the bathroom, the Sakyong locked the door and stood in front of it, blocking her exit. He groped her breasts and began trying to remove her clothes. He forced her hand to his genitals, even though she told him “no” several times. She alleges that she told him “No, I don’t want to do this.” She also told him, “I have a boyfriend.” He replied, “That doesn’t matter.” He continued to touch her, to force her to touch him and to tell her that she needed to have sex with him. After some time, in her estimation perhaps 15-20 minutes, she pushed the Sakyong away from the bathroom door, unlocked it and escaped.

She immediately described the assault to the cook, who was still present. The next day, she spoke about it to a person who was traveling with the Sakyong (the Corroborating Witness). The Corroborating Witness was able to confirm that the story the Chilean woman recounted in 2002, one day after the attack, was in all relevant details, the same story the Chilean woman told me this week.

“I found this woman very credible,” writes Merchasin. “She reached out immediately after the incident to others, telling them the same story; her contemporaneous account to the Corroborating Witness further strengthens her credibility. The Corroborating Witness is also credible; she is a long-time Shambhala Buddhist student with no motive to lie. The Corroborating Witness’s memory of what she was told about the incident is consistent with the Chilean woman’s version.”

No police report has been filed about the allegations, and Mukpo has not been charged with a crime related to them.

I’ve been wondering about the financial side of Shambhala operations, and so yesterday researched all of Shambhala Canada Society’s property holdings in Nova Scotia. The directors of the non-profit society are Wendy Friedman (Halifax), Jeff Grimes (Halifax), Joshua Silberstein (Boulder, Colorado), Mitchell Levy (Providence, Rhode Island), Adam Lobel (Pittsburgh), Jane Arthur (Danville, Vermont), and David Brown (Halifax).

The Shambhala Canada Society owns the following properties:

Halifax Shambala Centre at 1084 Tower Road, assessed at $1,479,200 commercial exempt.

Shambhala Cultural Centre on two adjoining parcels at 13493 and 13495 Peggys Cove Road, jointly assessed at $169,000 commercial exempt.

Mukpo’s personal residence at 316 Purcells Cove Road, assessed at $1,430,000 residential taxable.

The Dorje Denma Ling retreat centre consists of just over 483 acres spread across seven parcels on Tatamagouche Mountain; they are collectively assessed at $675,400 residential taxable, $332,600 resource taxable, $105,300 commercial exempt, and $24,700 commercial taxable.

The Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton is owned by the Vajradhatu Buddhist Church, the predecessor for the Shambhala Canada Society (the titles on all other SCS properties were changed to reflect the name change in 2014, but the title for the abbey remains in the name of the Vajradhatu Buddhist Church); it consists of 188 acres that are assessed at $731,400 residential taxable, $80,000 commercial taxable, and $269,000 commercial exempt.

For assessment purposes, “exempt” means that the Shambhala Canada Society doesn’t have to pay taxes on that portion of the assessments.

So $5 million or so in assessed value for all the properties; no doubt the market value of the properties is many times greater. There could be other Shambhala Canada Society properties in Canada, and I’m not sure of the relationship between the Shambhala Canada Society and Shambhala International, which owns property in the United States.

Is it odd that Mukpo’s personal residence is owned by the Society? I don’t think so; it could be equivalent to Catholic rectories or convents, which provide the personal residences for priests and nuns.

I looked at the Shambhala properties in order to get a sense of the size of the Shambhala operation. As compared to, say, the Catholic or Anglican Church, it’s a tiny operation, albeit I suspect that the Sakyong Ladrang and Sakyong Potrang, dedicated to “protect and support the Sakyong lineage,” have more wealth than the Shambhala Society Canada.

(Adding, since people have asked: The Shambhala school is an entirely separate operation, run by others. I assume the people who run the school are Buddhists, but they have no obvious connection to the Shambhala Canada Society.)

On Tuesday, I noted that the San Diego Shambhala Centre had suspended payments to Shambhala International, which I characterized as “open revolt.” Last night, I received an email from Louise Julig, the director of the San Diego Shambhala Centre:

I would like to clarify that our actions are not intended as “open revolt,” as you put it, and I feel that is a mischaracterization I’d like to clear up.

We are most definitely not in open revolt, but withholding funds for the time being was done as a measure to both send a message up the chain how seriously we are taking the situation locally and to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak, in sending a message to our own members that we care how it affects them and their sense of safety in practicing at our center. That and the other actions taken locally have not been done in anger or with a sense of retaliation, but with the sense of maintaining the trust that our members have placed in us locally.

We also know there are hardworking staff people in Halifax that do not deserve to be caught up in this, but the blunt instrument of withholding funds is one of the few tools we have available to us at the center level that could send a message with some teeth in it. Given the resignation of the Kalapa Council and the Sakyong’s stepping back, we may reevaluate, with community input, from this new perspective.

2. Province funds mining firms and mining lobbyist

Joan Baxter authored this item.

The provincial government — specifically, the new Department of Energy and Mines under Minister Derek Mombourquette — has just handed out a round of grants totalling $799,800. The money comes from the new Mineral Resources Development Fund (which of course means the citizens of Nova Scotia).

Tuesday’s government press release tells us:

Eighteen of the 28 grants are going to prospectors, many of which are one-person companies or junior exploration companies. Grants provide essential support for them to find mineral deposits and promote their projects to investors. Geology departments at Dalhousie, Memorial, Acadia and Saint Mary’s universities also received a portion of the approved grants. In addition to funding the research, the program links industry with innovative university researchers while providing training and support for the next generation of mineral deposit geologists.

Two exploration companies received a total of $147,000.

One is Transition Metals Corp. of Sudbury, Ontario, a “multi-commodity exploration company” that likes to find partners to whom it sells interests in exploration projects. It says it “leverages partner funding to advance projects” and lists several other mining companies that are key funding partners for its projects. Transition Metals seems to have lucked out in Nova Scotia, where it found the government willing to help fund its mineral exploration work in the Cape Breton Highlands.

The NovaRoc map of mineral claims in the province shows that Transition Metals has eight licenses straddling Victoria and Inverness Counties, just south of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park — six are for mineral exploration, one involves notification of a “drilling program,” and another has been registered for “excavation.”

Another beneficiary of Nova Scotians’ beneficence is Chilean Metals, a “junior natural resource – mining” company that holds more than 20 exploration licences along the Fundy Shore, from Bass River to Parrsboro. In June it began drilling on one of its leases near Gamble Lake, north of Bass River.

At the time, the two men doing the drilling, both from Quebec and working for a Quebec firm, told a local resident who asked them who was paying for the drilling, “You are.”

Given the news Tuesday that the people of Nova Scotia gave Chilean Metals a grant of $95,000, it looks as if they knew what they were talking about.

But that’s not the best news for the mining industry in this province, which seems to have bent the government’s ear so far out of shape that Premier McNeil and his Liberal Party now really believe that we can mine our way to economic health in this province (as if we haven’t been extracting and exporting our natural resources for a very, very long time and have a $15.9 billion debt to show for it.)

The Department of Energy and Mines has also decided a worthy recipient of the Mineral Resources Development funding is the Mining Association of Nova Scotia (MANS), headed by Sean Kirby, son of retired Liberal Senator Michael Kirby. Tuesday, the people of Nova Scotia learned that they are giving MANS:

• $62,000 for a project called “Minerals Play Fairway – Needs Assessment of Airborne Geophysical Data”

• $30,200 for a project called “Industry Education Conference: Consultation and Safety”

• $33,000 for a project called “Time Lapse Reclamation Video.”

So a tidy little gift from Nova Scotians of $125,200 to MANS.

I have no idea when governments decided it was wise or even ethical to use public money to fund industry lobby groups, which of course are only there to lobby governments for all sorts of favours that mostly don’t benefit citizens. But there it is: that day has arrived in Nova Scotia.

As for the people of northern Nova Scotia who are opposed to the government’s promotion of mineral exploration in the watershed that supplies Tatamagouche with its drinking water (see Part 3 of the recent Halifax Examiner / Cape Breton Spectator series, Fool’s Gold), their own government and $47,500 of their tax dollars are going to fund a project at Saint Mary’s University to develop “a genetic model and exploration criteria for a [sic] Epithermal-style Gold Mineralization in the Eastern Cobequid Highlands.”

I would very much like to be wrong about this, but I’ll wager this grant will result in a document that will justify (with lots of caveats about how much environmental monitoring and care will be taken, of course, even if it won’t) the decision of government geologists to forge ahead with their plans to promote gold exploration — and eventually gold mining — in the Cobequid Hills of northern Nova Scotia.

So the provincial government is funding private industry, an industry lobby group, and academics whose work is likely in support of industry. While concerned citizens in the group, Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia (SuNNS) will have to continue to spend a great deal of their own unpaid time, energy, and money to research the risks of mining and to promote more environmentally friendly and sustainable industries for local economic development.

3. Michael Wile

A view looking out from the weigh station at the fill operation. Photo: Halifax Examiner

CTV has identified the man who died Monday at the Fairview Cove Sequestration Facility on Bedford Basin as Michael Wile, a 44-year-old with three children who was engaged to be married. Reports Bruce Frisko:

Friends of the man who was found dead in Halifax Harbour on Monday say he was driving a dump truck that went into the water.

His body was recovered Monday and Wednesday crews spent the day working to retrieve the truck.

It was a major operation as a small fleet of tow trucks worked to pull a 10,000-pound dump truck from the cold waters of the Halifax Harbour.

It wound up there Monday in a kind of accident that’s every trucker’s nightmare.

“Not often is there a spotter over there to tell you when to stop dumping, or stop backing-up so, you know, it’s your judgement,” said Gary Richard, a truck driver and a friend of the victim.

[Fellow driver Robert] Roop says the news of his friend’s death has been difficult to deal with.

“I was supposed to work with him on Monday … and that coulda been me.”

Roop says the work is part of a massive backfill project, with truckers trying to dump as close to the edge as possible before going back for another load.

Yesterday, I wondered about the relationship between Wile’s employee, Scotiascapes, and the Port of Halifax. Ian Fairclough at the Chronicle Herald clarifies that relationship:

The land is administered by the Halifax Port Authority, which said previously it is not commenting during the investigation outside of expressing sadness about the man’s death.

The deceased was not an employee of the Port.

A June 2015 template for agreements between the authority and companies hauling pyritic slate to the site includes a section about the units used to truck the material there.

It says companies “shall ensure that the Haul Units are mechanically sound, licensed and insured and shall ensure that the operators who operate them are legally entitled to operate them for the purposes of safety and efficiently transporting the Pyritic Slate to the Authority Lands. . . . When on Authority Lands, the Haul Units shall operate at the direction of the Site Manager in a safe, efficient and professional manner.”

The workplace safety investigation should look at whether the site manager or the Port has the responsibility to provide spotters for the dump truck drivers.

4. Right Whale research

A Right Whale. Photo: New England Aquarium

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) issued a tender offer this morning for a boat that will provide “a passive acoustic mooring in Grand Manan Basin, Bay of Fundy, in support of its North Atlantic right whale (NARW) research program.” The Grand Manan Basin is roughly the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. The tender offer explains:

Science Branch, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maritimes Region, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CANADA, requires the complete services of an ocean-going Vessel charter (vessel and crew) to deliver its mandate under Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, to conduct a passive acoustic mooring deployment to better understand and address the cumulative effects of shipping noise on NARWs, coordinated by the cetacean research group in the DFO Maritimes Region. This includes work to better establish a baseline for noise in eastern Canada, examine potential overlap with NARW occurrence, and increase understanding of noise impacts on NARW.

The NARW cruise will conduct one deployment of a long-term passive acoustic recorder (AMAR) mooring, up to 2 short-duration over-the-side deployments of passive acoustic recording equipment (a hydrophone array), up to 2 short duration over-animal drone flights, in-transit visual marine mammal monitoring, and biological sampling consisting of the collection of up to 10 biopsy, fecal, or blow samples from whales. The vessel requires sufficient deck space and storage space to carry equipment necessary for the mission. Sampling will consist of the NARW noise program and normal ancillary work in the waters of Grand Manan Basin in up to water depths of 200 m. The deployment site is considered ‘high flow’ and operations would need to be timed with local tides.

The three-day science mission will occur this summer.

5. Working while American

“A researcher in Halifax is considering how hostility towards our southern neighbour could drive American expats out of Canadian workplaces and damage our good reputation,” reports Taryn Grant for StarMetro Halifax:

Eddy Ng is a professor at Dalhousie’s Rowe School of Business and started surveying Americans working in Canada shortly after the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017.

He said his collaborator, Thomas Koellen, was visiting Canada from Austria around the time of the last presidential election and noticed anti-American rhetoric in Canadian media. Their study came out of that observation, which Ng thought was especially interesting considering Canada’s stereotypical openness to most immigrants and refugees.

Despite the many similarities between Canadian and American cultures — the shared food, TV and sports — Ng said he believes there are “deep-level values” that engender negative attitudes toward Americans, not as individuals, but as a collective.

With all the rigour of science! and double-blind studies and careful control of the data set and the good name of the business school, the researchers conducted… um, an online survey.

Turns out, given the survey questions, being American is just as difficult as being Indigenous or Black:

Those poor Americans. Hey wait!… I’m an American!

And yes, national discrimination happens to me all the time! I’ll be driving down Robie Street, rolling coal in my Ford F-150 with the gun rack and the Confederate flag, minding my own business, and a cop pulls me over for no reason at all. Thankfully, my parents taught me how to handle such situations. I keep my hands visible on the wheel in the 10 and 2 positions, make no quick moves that might startle the officer. “Yes sir, eh?” I respond respectfully when he asks for my licence and registration. “They’re in the glove compartment,” I say, “I’m going to reach over and open the glove compartment to retrieve the licence and registration.” Then I slowly open the glove compartment, remove my Glock 17 and 460 Magnum, pick up the licence and registration, and slowly hand them to the officer. He walks back to his patrol car to call in my licence, and I wait, sweating, wondering if I am about to face a night in jail, or worse. After a while, the cop returns. “Have a nice day,” he says, and lets me go. But I know! This is national identity profiling!

But seriously, people get paid good money to do this “research.” And they wonder why people like Martin Parker want to bulldoze every business school on Earth into oblivion:

Having taught in business schools for 20 years, I have come to believe that the best solution to these problems is to shut down business schools altogether. This is not a typical view among my colleagues. Even so, it is remarkable just how much criticism of business schools over the past decade has come from inside the schools themselves. Many business school professors, particularly in North America, have argued that their institutions have gone horribly astray. B-schools have been corrupted, they say, by deans following the money, teachers giving the punters what they want, researchers pumping out paint-by-numbers papers for journals that no one reads and students expecting a qualification in return for their cash (or, more likely, their parents’ cash). At the end of it all, most business-school graduates won’t become high-level managers anyway, just precarious cubicle drones in anonymous office blocks.

Most solutions to the problem of the B-school shy away from radical restructuring, and instead tend to suggest a return to supposedly more traditional business practices, or a form of moral rearmament decorated with terms such as “responsibility” and “ethics”. All of these suggestions leave the basic problem untouched, that the business school only teaches one form of organising — market managerialism.

That’s why I think that we should call in the bulldozers and demand an entirely new way of thinking about management, business and markets. If we want those in power to become more responsible, then we must stop teaching students that heroic transformational leaders are the answer to every problem, or that the purpose of learning about taxation laws is to evade taxation, or that creating new desires is the purpose of marketing. In every case, the business school acts as an apologist, selling ideology as if it were science.

You can take the survey yourself, here. In the name of science! be sure to make up a bunch of nonsense.


Government

Province

“Stakeholder Engagement” —  Proposed Cultural Hub for Halifax Waterfront (Thursday, 4:30pm, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic) — from the email notification:

On March 28, 2018, the Government of Nova Scotia announced it would begin planning for a proposed cultural hub on the Halifax Waterfront to include a new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University campus, and public space.

Key stakeholders are being invited to help shape the vision for this proposed cultural hub and provide input which will be used to develop a facility plan.

As a valued stakeholder, we are hoping you can join us on July 12, 2018 to be part of informing this exciting new space which will position Nova Scotia as a world leader in the visual arts and the education of the province’s future creative industries leaders, while creating a new place to celebrate and showcase Nova Scotia’s arts and culture.

Your input is valuable and will be appreciated.

This project is being led by the Government of Nova Scotia, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, NSCAD and the Waterfront Development Corporation.

If you’re not a “key stakeholder” or a “valued stakeholder,” you can just bugger off; your opinion doesn’t matter.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

No public events today.

Friday

Thesis Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Friday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jessica Campbell will defend her ​​thesis, “Measurement of the Elastic Form Factor Ratio µGE/GM using Electron Scattering Spin Asymmetries.”

The Ecology of Holobionts (Friday, 4pm, Room 3-H1, Tupper Medical Building) — Derek Skillings from the University of Pennsylvania will speak.


In the harbour

7am: Maasdam, cruise ship with up to 1,510 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney
7:30am: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
10:30am: Ef Ava, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
3:30pm: Maasdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Bar Harbor


Footnotes

Feels like Friday.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is an award-winning Nova Scotian journalist and author of seven books, including "The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest." Website: www.joanbaxter.ca;...

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  1. Hey now! No need to purposefully try to screw up someone’s research efforts. Very un-Canadian of you, Tim.

  2. Re Mining: Thanks to Joan Baxter for her relentless pursuit of environmental justice through her writing.

    As someone who has spent a lot of time in The Cobequids, – particularly between Moose River and Advocate Harbour – I understand why there is interest in mining that area. Simply put, the resource extractors have pretty much levelled the forests there and now it’s time to go below the surface to satisfy their greed. What I don’t understand is the single minded commitment of the McNeil government – and the previous Dexter NDP government for that matter – to not only accommodate these corporate ghouls, but to aggressively enable and promote them. McNeil and I grew up in the same province, but we have entirely different perspectives on its value as a place to live and be a part of a community.

    By closing rural schools and health care facilities and promoting resource extraction above all else McNeil is leading us into a future where towns and villages continue to decline and the only population growth outside of Halifax will be in the form of temporary mining camps, inhabited by people who are here only as long as a particular resource is economically viable.

    1. Indeed, a big thank you to Joan for her dogged pursuit of this matter. This province desperately needs more like-minded citizens to speak up and act against the ongoing, government-endorsed, rape of Nova Scotia’s natural resources. Again, if you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention.