1. Jackson trial

Photo: Halifax Examiner

This item refers to sexual assault.

Yesterday was the fourth day of the sexual assault trial of Blake Jackson.

Jackson, a student support worker at Citadel High School, is accused of sexually assaulting a then-student on December 15, 2015.

At the time, the student was 18 years old; a publication ban protects her identity, so I’ll refer to her as Sarah, a pseudonym. She is now 21 years old.

Sarah testified on Monday and Tuesday. She claimed that she asked Jackson to take her to lunch on that day, which was a Tuesday. Jackson drove her to the Burger King on Young Street and Kempt Road; the two ordered, got their meals, and then sat in the non-crowded restaurant to eat. There, she testified, Jackson began asking her invasive questions about her recent abortion and other sexual matters.

After they finished their meal, testified Sarah, they got back in Jackson’s SUV to drive back to school, but Jackson drove the opposite direction, through the north end neighbourhood, around Highland Park School. Sarah said that Jackson parked his SUV very close to a street tree that blocked her from opening the passenger side door, and told her in a rough voice to “get in the back.” She said she jumped between the seats to the back seat, and Jackson got into the back seat with her and sexually assaulted her.

On Wednesday, Jackson took the stand in his defence. He agreed he took Sarah to lunch at Burger King that day. He said Sarah wanted to leave the school so she could talk to him privately about a matter, and then raised the abortion at the Burger King. He said that was the first he had heard of it. He also denied he sexually assaulted Sarah: he said he drove her directly back to school, and there was no sexual contact at all. Didn’t happen.

Yesterday, Jackson was cross-examined. Crown prosecutor Sean McCarroll asked Jackson about his relationship with Sarah. Jackson said it “was the same as the other students” and “nothing out of the normal.” McCarroll had a lot of questions about what a support worker does, but then the questioning came back around to Jackson’s relationship with Sarah. “Did you consider your relationship with her special?” asked McCarrol. “No,” said Jackson.

Then the questioning turned toward the discussion of Sarah’s recent abortion. Jackson said it was nothing unusual talking to a teenage girl about her abortion; he had dealt with students with mental health and drug issues, so abortion was just in the mix.

The rest of the day dealt mostly with a detailed examination of Jackson’s cell phone records. McCarroll walked Jackson through 140 pages of cell records, having him highlight every exchange with Sarah’s phone. This was painstakingly tedious, and took many hours.

There were thousands of exchanges between the two phones. We don’t know the content of these exchanges; all but one of them were texts, however. Some days, there were no contacts at all, but others there were dozens. On December 9, for example, there were 21 contacts between Jackson’s phone and Sarah’s phone. And two of those were very late at night, one just after 10pm, and one just after midnight (that was Jackson texting Sarah; she didn’t respond).

On December 15, the day of the alleged assault, there were 186 contacts between the two phones, including a 37-second phone call at 12:42pm (Sarah called Jackson), and a seemingly continuous text conversation that happened from just after 8pm to just after 10pm.

When McCarroll started to continue to review the phone records past Dec. 15, defence lawyer Tom Singleton objected.

The gist of Singleton’s argument was that McCarroll was getting into Jackson’s “post-event conduct,” which a joint statement of facts submitted at the start of the trial had specifically prohibited. Singleton further said that the only reason McCarroll was trying to enter those records was to impeach Jackson’s credibility. “Mi’Lady,” McCarroll said to Justice Christa Brothers, “that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Brothers took 45 minutes to consider the law; she came back and allowed the questioning to continue, saying that so long as McCarroll wasn’t getting into Jackson’s post-event behaviour, McCarroll could use the phone records to explore the nature of relationship between Jackson and Sarah and to question Jackson’s credibility.

In any event, from December 16 on into January 2016, there were continued text exchanges, some in the evening. Notably, on December 25, Christmas Day, there was a text exchange lasting from 9:18pm to 0:23am the next morning.

McCarroll had Jackson refer to a transcript of the interview he had with cops the day he was arrested. In that interview, Jackson said he couldn’t remember if he had any text exchanges with Sarah on the night of Dec. 15. At one point in the police interview, the cops ask him “What about text messages?” and Jackson responded “Nothing out of the ordinary, just like the other kids.”

That was the theme by the end of the day. The cops had asked Jackson “What was your relationship?” He answered: “Just the same as the other kids.” McCarroll asked Jackson, “is that your position today, that your relationship with [Sarah] was just the same as with every other kid at the school?” “Yes,” answered Jackson, then qualified it to say it was the same as every other student that used student support services.

McCarroll ended his cross around 4:15pm, and so that was the end of the day.

The trial continues today.

2. Yarmouth ferry

A photo of the Alakai, the ship used for the Yarmouth ferry.
The Alakai. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Portland has firmly closed the door on hosting ferry service to Canada,” reports Peter McGuire for the Portland Press-Herald:

The city [of Portland] last month rejected a last-minute request from Bay Ferries to allow it to operate a ferry between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, this year.

Bay Ferries announced in 2018 that it would relocate operations to Bar Harbor after serving Portland for three seasons. The company’s lease for city-owned waterfront property in Portland expired at the end of 2018. But because of the recent 35-day federal government shutdown, Bay Ferries’ negotiations with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to set up screening in Bar Harbor were put on hold indefinitely.

Despite the setback, Bay Ferries CEO Mark MacDonald said the company is committed to offering ferry service between Maine and Nova Scotia this year. He expects there will be service operating from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, by early June.

In late January, almost five weeks after the shutdown started, MacDonald contacted Portland, asking to again lease a 3.4-acre area in the city’s East End, which the service had previously used to line up cars and passengers for the ferry.

The city responded promptly, saying space already was taken.

Late January, eh? Sounds like MacDonald was trying to get the two cities, Portland and Bar Harbor, to bid against each other for the ferry terminus.

There is movement on the Bar Harbor terminus, however.

“Bar Harbor is closer to seeing the return of an international ferry service after a 10-year hiatus,” reports Ed Morin for Maine Public Radio:

Last Thursday the town closed on the $3.5 Million purchase of the Eden Street Ferry terminal property from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Bar Harbor Town Manager Cornell Knight says Bay Ferries Ltd., which operates The Cat Ferry, anticipates signing a lease over the next week or so.

“But they’re still working out details with customs and border protections, which have been delayed due to the government shutdown,” she says.

Knight says the town council has authorized him to sign a 5 year lease with the company. He says, while Bay Ferries was shooting for a June start date, the delays have made that more difficult, but the company is hoping to be up and running this season.

“The town’s [of Bar Harbor] purchase of the property from the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) was finally formally executed last Thursday, Jan. 31,” reports Becky Pritchard for the Mount Desert Islander:

The purchase of the terminal makes it possible for the town to enter into a five-year lease agreement for a portion of the terminal property with Bay Ferries’ American affiliate, Atlantic Fleet Services.

“We’re moving forward,” Annette Higgins of Atlantic Fleet Services confirmed Wednesday morning, “and intend to sign the lease next week.”

Redevelopment of the Bar Harbor ferry terminus site is now working its way through the town planning process, reports Pritchard:

The site plan application also includes a letter from Bay Ferries saying the Province of Nova Scotia “will ultimately bear responsibility for the costs of readying the Bar Harbor facility for ferry service in accordance with the terms of our proposed lease” with the town, even though the company expects the costs to exceed the $3 million originally planned for the work. [emphases added]

Er… how can Bay Ferries commit the Province of Nova Scotia to pay for the ferry terminal? Shouldn’t there be a corresponding letter from the province to that effect?

Also, just how much more than $3 million is this going to cost us?

I just checked: the Alakai is still tied up at the dock in Charleston, South Carolina.

3. PEI shenanigans

“Three whistleblowers whose private information was leaked from Prince Edward Island’s government to the Liberal Party are suing a former premier and other top officials for a total of $1.3 million in damages for the economic and emotional toll on their lives,” report Michael Tutton and Teresa Wright for the Canadian Press:

The lawsuit says that after the three women came forward at a 2011 news conference with allegations of bribery and fraud in the province’s business immigration program, personal information designed to damage their claims was deliberately given out to the media by top Liberals.

A statement of claim, which has not been proven in court, filed in the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island by Susan Holmes, Cora Plourd Nicholson and Svetlana Tenetko, describes the action as a “conspiracy.”

The lawsuit names former premier Robert Ghiz, former innovation minister Allan Campbell, former deputy minister of economic development Michael Mayne, and former Liberal party spokesman Spencer Campbell as defendants.

Check out the link for details… and oh boy.

Speaking of PEI shenanigans, Canadaland’s Corruption in Canada series has a good recap of that whole “let’s get rich with online gambling” fiasco.

4. Stephen Lewis on the future of the United Nations

Stephen Lewis

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

Life-long New Democrat and former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Stephen Lewis spoke to a standing room-only crowd Wednesday night at the 500-seat McInnes auditorium at the Dalhousie Student Union building. His talk titled “Can the United Nations (UN) Be Saved?” was part of a lecture series sponsored by the Shaar Shalom synagogue.

Lewis was his outspoken, articulate self — arguing the UN is under two major threats: “ongoing disengagement” by the United States, which he said currently has “a fool” for a president, and a “political paralysis” which has seen the UN take little or no action to intervene in successive humanitarian crises.

Lewis, who served as the UN’s Special Envoy on HIV/Aids in Africa during the 1990s, noted it wasn’t just General Romeo Dallaire’s warning of genocide in Rwanda the UN’s Security Council failed to act upon but its “grating indecision” that has extended to  “Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, and Venezuela.”

Lewis said while the UN is good at passing high-minded resolutions such as the “Responsibility to Protect” citizens from being harmed by their own governments (2005) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2015), it’s not so good on walking the walk. “I’m personally very worried the world is on the edge of an abyss,” he said with respect to concerns time is running out for government leaders to take action to reduce carbon emissions that could slow global warming.

Lewis believes the best (and perhaps only) hope to make the UN effective is for people to demand better leadership. He says the veto power granted to the five countries which are the permanent members of the UN Security Council mean the political paralysis will continue, but Article 49 of the Charter gives the UN’s Secretary-General broad powers to take action and initiate investigations “at a time when the world is riven by ideological fratricide.”

As an example, Lewis says the murder of Saudi journalist and activist Jamal Khashoggi offered Secretary-General Antonio Guterres just such an opportunity. “It would have been a positive if Antonio had said the UN is going to launch an investigation. The world was outraged; he had the right to do so under Article 49 and unfortunately, he never did.”

Lewis says he is “very disappointed” in the current Secretary-General, whom he described as “a very intelligent fellow but desperately cautious” who was expected to provide stronger leadership than the “passive and nondescript Ban ki-Moon.”

With respect to Canada’s role on the world stage, Lewis didn’t let Trudeau off the hook either.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has spoken on many issues but somehow he doesn’t seem to have the gravitas to bring other countries into the fold,” remarked Lewis, a former Ontario NDP leader during the 1960s-70s and remarkably energetic at age 81.

Lewis claims every foreign policy decision Canada has made and continues to make since Stephen Harper’s tenure as prime minister is designed to get a seat on the Security Council. “An obsession,” he called it, and claims this is the driver for Canada hosting an International Women’s Conference in Vancouver this June as well as Canada’s participation in the Lima Group, a decision Lewis questions because many of those Latin American partners have poor records on human rights.

Despite his concern for the future of the UN, Lewis says he is unable to come up with a better alternative.

“Can the UN be Saved?” Yes, says Stephen Lewis, but only if better leaders emerge to take the reins.

“We need people who want to change the world and save the UN in the process”.


1. Slavery

Robert Devet brings our attention to North to Bondage: Loyalist slavery in the Maritimes, a book by Harvey Amani Whitfield:

Whitfield describes how the enslavement of Black people goes back to the days that the French settled Louisburg, and continued after the British founded Halifax. It increased substantially with the influx in the 1780s of white Loyalist refugees, whose enslaved African Americans often traveled on the very same ships boarded by free Black loyalists.

How many Black Americans were enslaved is difficult to establish. Whitfield estimates that at its height there were some 2500 enslaved Blacks in the Maritimes, perhaps as many as 1600 in Nova Scotia. That may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that in 1790 Nova Scotia had a population of only 30,000.

Slave ownership in Nova Scotia was widespread among both the rich and what today we today would call the middle class, farmers, store owners, artisans, etc. Maritimers typically owned one or two enslaved African Americans per household, seldom more than 5. They were forced to work in a variety of ways, as domestic help, labourers or skilled tradesmen.

2. Building faces

“In the 1970s I spent a lot of time wandering in downtown Halifax and the old South End, observing and pondering the choices people had made about the design and construction of their homes and businesses,” writes Stephen Archibald:

One peculiarity, that you may well have noticed too, is that many of the oldest masonry homes in Halifax use one type of stone on the front and a different one on the sides. The street facade is made of a well-finished sandstone or granite, and the sides are often made of ironstone, that at the time of construction was less expensive, and often considered not particularly attractive.

The Henry House (c1835) on Barrington shows what I’m talking about. The front is beautifully cut granite but the sides are made of our local ironstone that leaches rusty stains when it is freshly quarried and weathers to a dreary charcoal colour. This c1880 photo [above] from the Public Archives shows the visual disconnect between the front and side.

Archibald goes on to show a bunch more examples.

But besides all that, check out the little scene going on in front of the Henry House; I blew it up to get a closer look:

Is it just me, or does everyone in that scene look kind of put out? The woman in the doorway has the look of “what nonsense do I have to deal with now?” The woman on the coach is looking at the photographer exactly as if he (inevitably, he) is yet another voyeur, and hoping he keeps his distance. The baby’s blank face is already expecting a lifetime of bullshit. The black driver is thinking “these people.” The white man is stroking the horse’s face with apprehension, as if to get a moment’s distraction before the woman on the coach gets down and gives him whatfor. Even the horse seems dispirited, and if could speak would say, “get your fucking hand off my face.”

Maybe I’m projecting.



Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am, City Hall) — a look at the fire department’s budget.


No public meetings.

On campus


Living with China in an era of great power rivalry: Canadian opinion (Friday, 12pm, Room 1009, Rowe Management Building) — Paul Evans from the University of British Columbia will speak.

Advance Requests for Medical Assistance in Dying Ethical and Legal Considerations (Friday, 12:10pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Jennifer Gibson from the Joint Centre of Bioethics, University of Toronto, will speak.

Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Grain Economy, 1749-1793 (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Patrick Callaway from the University of Maine will speak.

All Else Being Equal: Hierarchical Structure in Electrochemical Materials (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Robert H. Coridan from the University of Arkansas will speak.

Black Research Symposium – Networking Night (Friday, 7pm, Room 1011, Rowe Management Building) — from the listing:

The Health Association of African Canadians – Student Organization, Atlantic Association of Black Aspiring Physicians, and Community of Black Nurses in collaboration with PLANS invites you to the first annual Black Research Symposium at Dalhousie University.

This two-day event is an opportunity for Black Scholars and persons doing research on Black issues to highlight and celebrate the research being conducted in the community from all disciplines.

The evening of Friday, February 8th consists of a networking style session with guest speaker Ivan Joseph – Vice Provost, Student Affairs.

Saturday, February 9th will be the Research Symposium that will include poster sessions, 3 Minute thesis presentations, and guest speakers.

The group’s Facebook page. Contact .

In the harbour

00:30: CMA CGM Thalassa, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
06:00: ZIM Qingdao, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
06:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 36 from Argentia, Newfoundland
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from anchorage to Pier 41
07:00: BBC Michigan, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 27 from New London, Connecticut
11:30: Ef Ava, sails for Portland
16:30: ZIM Qingdao sails for New York
19:30: Oceanex Sanderling sails for St. John’s


I’m going to see my mom this weekend. She’s turning 90 years old.

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  1. Putting nice on the front and cheap elsewhere continues with commercial buildings, where they are allowed to get away with it. Stores will put a nice brick face but ugly sheet metal on the sides not facing the street.

  2. If someone wanted to offer a viable ferry service between the US and Nova Scotia, the route should be from Halifax to Boston (or Portland). That way the ferry route links directly into US 95 if one is driving or into the North East Corridor rail service in the US, including Acela, the high-speed rail going from Boston to Washington D.C. Many of the Northeast corridor rail stops have easy linkages to regional and commuter mass transit. Such a route would offer a practical and realistic alternative to flying to the major US East Coast cities since airports tend to be located well away from urban centers and often are not as readily accessible by mass transit. Moreover, air travel is not as pleasant or fast, especially with all the security protocols and airline budget cuts. When Acela was introduced, it replaced many of the short hop East Coast air shuttles. I suspect the appropriate ferry service from Halifax might be real competition for those flights to Boston or New York.

  3. I don’t know the date of the Henry House photo, but it is not a foregone conclusion that early 20th Century photos of Nova Scotia were taken by men. Clarissa Dennis, a fascinating character who was the great aunt of Halifax Chronicle Herald owner Sarah Dennis, took many wonderful pictures in that era. I wrote about her here:

    1. While the Henry House photo was taken by men (it was part of a collection taken by the Royal Engineers) Parker is right about there being many women photographers. In the 1950s in Bridgetown Georgie Cunningham was the professional photographer operating out of a studio with a large north light window for flattering portraits (my childhood photos as proof). She had apprenticed with another woman who would have been in business in the 19th century. I understand that studio photographer was one of those professions, like teacher and nurse, where women were accepted.

  4. I have taken note of the brickwork as Archibald has done. I have also noted with interest that the same approach is taken today, with many homes having a brick covering on the front and vinyl siding on the sides and back.

    1. People have been arranging things so that stuff looks better than it really is since there have been people: After all, what are cosmetics and personal ornament but an attempt to look more attractive or higher status than you really are?

  5. The Cat reminds me of the Concorde: A nice idea, but simply too expensive to operate relative to its capacity and demand. A few smaller companies aside, note that nobody is really interested in civilian supersonic flight anymore – noise issues aside, a supersonic aircraft requires more fuel per passenger-mile than a subsonic craft. Instead, the very rich are shelling out for luxurious accommodations aboard aircraft rather than faster travel.

  6. Smiling for photographs didn’t really become a custom until like the 1920s. Everyone in photos from 1880 looks like they’re unhappy to be there.

    1. It was because of exposure time, wasn’t it? It’s easier to stay still with a blank expression for a moment than to start with a smile that droops over time causing a blurry exposure.

    2. Photographs in the 19th century usually required long exposures. Formal studio portraits often used concealed armatures to hold the subject still during an exposure duration of many seconds. I guess it was just easier to have the subjects relax their faces to get them to hold still. Also the object in this shot would have been to record the scene, not the personalities of those within it. The man muzzling the horse may have been asked to do so to stop it moving.