Last week, the Halifax Examiner put a lot of our reporting resources into covering the release of the Mass Casualty Commission’s report, and that reporting continues; we’ll have more articles and analyses of the report in coming days, including two articles to be published later today. If I say so myself, the Examiner’s coverage has been exemplary.
Still, despite that intensely focused reporting, the Examiner also broke and expanded upon several important unrelated news stories. On Thursday and Friday alone, the Examiner was the first to report on the death in custody of Sarah Rose Denny, a parliamentary investigation of Paper Excellence, and internal strife at Second Story Women’s Centre. We also provided an update on the Allison Holthoff case, and published about former premier Stephen McNeil’s dalliance with Maritime Launch Services, as well as our usual City Hall and Province House coverage.
Nearly a decade old, the Examiner is an important media presence, with a capable staff that can simultaneously tackle multiple important news stories, and to do so with a depth and breadth of reporting that readers won’t find elsewhere. I’m confident we’ll continue to do so.
We’ve done all this despite being in a financial tight spot. Over the past few weeks, readers have responded kindly and quickly to my request for help, and that help has brought us a long way, but we’re not out of the woods yet. April is the crunch month, and we still need your assistance.
1. Sarah Rose Denny
“The Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia is calling for a public inquiry after a Mi’kmaw woman died of pneumonia in provincial custody this week,” reports Zane Woodford:
Sarah Rose Denny, 36, died in hospital on Sunday, March 26. She had been in custody in the East Unit of the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, the provincial jail in Burnside.
Denny was a mother of two from the Eskasoni First Nation, and she was part of the Eskasoni Women’s Drum Group and Denny Family Dancers.
[Shirley Tuplin, a friend,] works as an Indigenous peer support person. She and Denny got sober around the same time a few years ago, and she said Denny was “on the Red Road.”
Denny ended up in Burnside because she missed a meeting with a probation officer, Tuplin said.
“It was supposed to be a simple little thing, like, ‘Go turn yourself in and get right back out,’” Tuplin said.
“And then they end up doing what they always do with my people, and just delaying things and making it hard. So she must have caught pneumonia while being in there.”
It’s unclear how long Denny was in custody. Tuplin estimated it was a few weeks.
Tuplin said an autopsy showed Denny had double pneumonia, meaning both her lungs were infected. The infection had spread to her heart, Tuplin said.
Staff at the Burnside jail waited until Denny was vomiting blood to take her to the hospital, Tuplin said, and that’s where she died on Sunday.
This story is maddening. Vaccines are available for pneumonia, and with early detection and treatment, nearly all cases are easily and successfully treatable. Obviously, we don’t know the details of Denny’s case, but that’s an argument for a thorough review.
2. Parliamentary committee to investigate Paper Excellence
“The federal Standing Committee on Natural Resources will investigate the ownership of Paper Excellence,” reports Joan Baxter:
[Friday], the committee debated a motion introduced by NDP natural resources critic Charlie Angus to summon top officials from Paper Excellence and the federal government that recently approved the company’s takeover of pulp and paper giant Resolute Forest Products to testify before the Committee.
Although the meeting was held in camera, the minutes posted on the Committee’s website show that “it was agreed” that “the committee undertake a study of up to 2 meetings, at a time to be determined, regarding the ownership structure in the Canadian Pulp and Paper Industry specifically in relation to reports concerning the company Paper Excellence.”
The reports to which the Committee is referring are the media reports from the Halifax Examiner, CBC, Glacier Media, Le Monde and Radio France, which worked together on an investigation into Paper Excellence as part of the large Deforestation Inc. project led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
“Former Premier Stephen McNeil has been named to an “advisory board” to Maritime Launch Services,” reports Joan Baxter:
Maritime Launch Services is the company that wants to launch Ukrainian rockets (that have never been built or flown) into orbit from the tiny fishing community of Canso in Nova Scotia.
As the Examiner reported in 2019, even before he left office, McNeil was doing favours for the company. Under his government, the province decided the spaceport project should undergo the shorter and less onerous Class I environmental assessment. On June 4, 2019, Nova Scotia’s (and Premier McNeil’s) environment minister Gordon Wilson approved the spaceport project, albeit with some conditions.
Despite having met with the premier to promote their private spaceport project, neither Maritime Launch Services nor [its president] Stephen Matier were registered as lobbyists on the provincial registry of lobbyists.
4. ‘Somewhat surprised’
“I was not surprised by the numbers of people who pronounced themselves ‘somewhat surprised’ by the sweeping and consequential content of last week’s report of the Mass Casualty Commission,” writes Stephen Kimber:
Many of those same people had spent much of the past three years dismissing, marginalizing and otherwise declaring the whole exercise a waste of time at best, a cover-up at worst.
I was — but wasn’t really — surprised so many of those same people now retreated into the weasel-word qualifier “somewhat” to provide fig-leaf cover for their shocked tracks.
5. Advocates react to MCC report
“Two participants in the public inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass casualty — the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the East Coast Prison Justice Society (ECPJS) — welcome the release of the final report of the Mass Casualty Commission,” reports Jennifer Henderson. The groups issued this response via news release:
The Commission’s final report calls for a community-focused approach to public safety and a strengthening of police governance and accountability that are badly needed in Nova Scotia and across Canada. The BCCLA and ECPJS participated as a coalition at the Inquiry, drawing attention to the systemic nature of policing failures and stressing that current oversight mechanisms are ineffective. The final report accepted many of these submissions, including calling for community-focused approaches to public safety and greater democratic accountability and oversight of police.
I was tied up with all thing Mass Casualty Commission and so am late with the weekly COVID report that I usually put in Friday’s Morning File. But on Thursday, Nova Scotia announced one new COVID death recorded in the most recent reporting period, March 21-27.
The person died sometime before March 21. There may have been more deaths during the reporting period, but they won’t be recorded until future reports.
So far through the pandemic, 820 Nova Scotians have died from COVID, 334 of whom have died since July 1, 2022.
Additionally, during the reporting period, 11 people were hospitalized because of COVID.
Nova Scotia Health reported the COVID hospitalization status as on Thursday (figures do not include any, if any, hospitalizations at the IWK):
• in hospital for COVID: 13 (2 of whom are in the ICU)
• in hospital for something else but have COVID: 62
• in hospital who contracted COVID after admission to hospital: 51
These numbers suggest a significant improvement in the COVID situation, but it’s too soon to be certain.
Law Amendments (Monday, 10am, Province House) — the following bills:
Bill No. 262 – Interim Residential Rental Increase Cap Act (amended) (with representation)
Bill No. 273 – Road Trails Act (with representation)
Bill No. 279 – Financial Measures (2023) Act (no representation)
Legislature sits (Monday, 4pm, Province House)
Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)
Public lecture series: Representations of colonization and de-colonization (Tuesday, 7pm, KTS Lecture Hall) — Dr. Heather Igloliorte will talk
In the harbour
No arrivals or departures.
After a much-deserved and -needed week off, Iris returns to the trenches today. She will be overwhelmed, so please be easy on her.
I was trying to get at least one more article about the Mass Casualty Commission’s final report out this morning before publishing Morning File, but I decided to take a bit more time with it to ensure accuracy and fullness. It will be published soon.