1. Kayla Borden
“A rally in support of Kayla Borden will take place the same day Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella is scheduled to testify at an appeal hearing into a complaint against members of the Halifax Regional Police,” reports Matthew Byard:
The rally is being organized by Abolish the Police — Halifax/Kjipuktuk and will take place outside the hearing Thursday at 9:30am at the Best Western Plus Dartmouth at 15 Spectacle Lake Dr.
Borden filed a complaint after her car was pulled over in the middle of the night in July 2020. She was arrested by roughly a dozen police officers at a Dartmouth intersection after her car was mistaken for another car driven by a white man. That man was driving with no license plate, no headlights, and took off from police when they tried to pull him over in Halifax.
Borden says her arrest was the result of systemic racism within the Halifax Regional Police.
“Nova Scotia realtors say a new federal law that bans non-Canadian citizens from buying a home will only slow down an already-slow housing market in this province,” reports Preston Mulligan for the CBC, as if that’s a bad thing.
Meanwhile, someone posted a supposed rental offer on Kijiji that is clearly illegal; I’ve been unable to verify if it is an actual rental listing or some kind of sick joke, but I suspect the former:
Basement for rent $750 Fairview Jan 1st
Move in for Jan and half off rent! Only $375 plus damage deposit.
Large basement area for rent as a bedroom. It’s not a finished basement. There’s a wall of storage bins giving privacy from the laundry room and stairs. 3 story house, shared kitchen, bathroom, livingroom and dinning room.
Included is heat, hot water, power, WiFi, laundry and outdoor parking space. Walking distance to grocery store, shops and restaurants. #2 bus 5 min walk away.
No smoking indoors. No pets.
We are a quiet bunch. No partying here. We are 420 friendly.
Rent for single person $750 double occupancy is $950
Please message for pictures, proof of income is required $250 damage deposit.
2 months minimum.
This appears to be a sublet, offered by renters who have no idea about rental law.
In March 2022, Postmedia bought Brunswick News from the Irvings. Now, the expected has happened: over the last few days, Brunswick News journalists have announced they have accepted buyouts. All three are veteran reporters with decades of experience, and all three work at the Daily Gleaner in Fredericton:
• Tim Jacques, who had been a reporter/editor at The Tribune in Campbellton since 2003, accepted a job as reporter at the Daily Gleaner and moved to Fredericton in October. Just three months into the new position, he accepted a buyout. “This was not forced on me at the least,” tweeted Jacques. “There was an opportunity for it, and I took it. I don’t intend to retire but who knows what I will do next.”
• Don MacPherson, who has been a reporter at the Daily Gleaner for 21 years, also accepted a buyout. “It’s not a development I was seeking,” tweeted MacPherson, “but after weighing my options, I felt a change of direction was the best course for me to pursue.
• Bruce Hallihan, who has been a sports reporter/editor at the Daily Gleaner for 32 years, also accepted a buyout. “I’m leaving on good terms to pursue new opportunities,” wrote Hallihan on Facebook. “I don’t know what the next chapter will be.”
There are still Brunswick News reporters doing good work, but with ever-shrinking staff, they can only do so much. The CBC is invaluable in New Brunswick, but that has both many pluses and minuses.
I think there’s room for an Examiner-like independent online media presence in New Brunswick, and I’ve flirted with the idea of starting it myself. But that can’t happen until the Halifax Examiner is on more solid financial footing, which means more subscribers here in Nova Scotia.
“Months before the New York Times published a December article suggesting Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) had fabricated much of his résumé and biography, a tiny publication on Long Island was ringing alarm bells about its local candidate,” reports Sarah Ellison for the Washington Post:
The North Shore Leader wrote in September, when few others were covering Santos, about his “inexplicable rise” in reported net worth, from essentially nothing in 2020 to as much as $11 million two years later.
“Interestingly, Santos shows no U.S. real property in his financial disclosure, although he has repeatedly claimed to own ‘a mansion in Oyster Bay Cove’ on Tiffany Road and ‘a mansion in the Hamptons’ on Dune Road,” managing editor Maureen Daly wrote in the Leader. “For a man of such alleged wealth, campaign records show that Santos and his husband live in a rented apartment, in an attached rowhouse in Queens.”
The Leader reluctantly endorsed Santos’s Democratic opponent the next month. “This newspaper would like to endorse a Republican,” it wrote, but Santos “is so bizarre, unprincipled and sketchy that we cannot,” adding, “He boasts like an insecure child — but he’s most likely just a fabulist — a fake.”
But no one outside of the Leader’s readership took note.
“[Santos’ opponent Robert] Zimmerman told The Washington Post there were ‘many red flags that were brought to the attention of many folks in the media’ but that ‘frankly, a lot of folks in the media are saying they didn’t have the personnel, time or money to delve further’ into the story,” continues Ellison. “’This experience has shown me just how important it is for everyone to support local media.’”
5. The Open Court Principle doesn’t apply if you’re super rich
Last week, Raffi A. Balmanoukian, an adjudicator with the Small Claims Court, published a decision in a taxation case.
In legalese, “taxation” means the bill a lawyer presents to their client for services rendered. In this particular case, a woman hired a lawyer to represent her in divorce proceedings, but refused to pay the last set of bills because she wasn’t happy with how the case turned out. So the lawyer went to court to get a judgment on those costs, about $20,000.
This is nothing new. Small Claims Court is full of taxation cases involving family court matters.
Here is one where an Eastern Passage woman, Linda Geffroy, paid a $1,500 retainer to lawyer Adele England of Parkland Law to represent her adult son’s Andrew’s attempt to change the visitation allowances for access to his child (Geffroy’s grandchild). Geffroy accused England of “un-professionalism,” and wanted $1,299.50 of the retainer back (the balance was tax and $200 already returned). Adjudicator Eric K. Slone rejected the claim.
Here’s another case, in which the law firm Wickwire Holm sued a woman named Melanie Stephen for $13,681.85 Stephen had not paid on a $21,247.17 bill. Stephen hired WIckwire Holm lawyer Janet Stevenson to represent her in divorce proceedings involving her husband Michael Patriquen, including both possession of the matrimonial home and custody of their child. You can wade through the arguments, but they get tedious as there’s a Ms. Stephen and a Ms. Stevenson, and the adjudicator, J. Scott Barnett, rather cruelly details Stephen’s “tedious, tired and totally ineffective cross‑examination” of Stevenson. Barnett found for Wickwire Holm.
Here’s a third case, adjudicated by Gus Richardson, involving the tail end of a divorce proceeding — “Mr. Joseph Majaess and Ms. Rima Majaess have been involved in a long and acrimonious matrimonial dispute that has been before the Courts on numerous occasions.” Other courts had ordered Rima Majaess to her ex-husband various amounts related to a mortgage and “shares” (presumably investments), but she refused to do so and was hauled back to court on a contempt charge. It’s unclear how exactly that charge was resolved, but it included an order for her to pay $5,810.95 in taxation costs, which she also did not pay, and so lawyer Robert G. Cragg took the matter to Small Claims Court. Richardson found for Cragg.
That’s three cases, but there are plenty more. Here’s what they all have in common: besides minor children, all the people involved are named. Their various claims are detailed, including potentially embarrassing family matters. The hearings happened in open court, where anyone could attend, or during COVID restrictions, via teleconferencing in which the public and reporters could listen in. (And, while I haven’t checked all such cases, in this representative sample at least, the adjudicator finds for the lawyer.)
But in Balmanoukian’s decision published last week, the people involved are not identified — not even the lawyers. Wrote Balmanoukian:
[T]he parties agreed that this would be heard outside of normal Court hours as a special hearing (as approved by the Department of Justice) in one of counsel’s boardrooms. It was also agreed that the parties waived the usual requirement that this be heard in a Courtroom pursuant to Section 6 of the Small Claims Court Taxation of Costs Regulations, NS.Reg 37/2001 as amended. I was “brought in” to hear the matter perhaps as one of the few adjudicators with no affiliation or transactions with any of the stakeholders.
The parties also agreed that the parties would be referenced by pseudonyms and that the affidavits and briefs would be sealed and, subject to expiry or disposition of any appeal, destroyed.
This is quite unusual. I’ve never seen it at the Small Claims Court level before.
I challenged this agreement under the Open Court principle and under Section 5 of the aforesaid Regulations, at a pre-hearing conference. I was convinced that the nature of the allegations, combined with the sensitive family circumstances of the solicitor-client relationship and a need for a fulsome hearing of their circumstances made this appropriate. I ordered that books of authorities would not be sealed or redacted from the file. I will return the unsealed portions of the files directly to the Clerk with copies of this decision, for the Court’s records. I will retain the sealed portions pending any appeal, or expiry for the time thereof.
Accordingly, I have further expunged the file numbers from the publication of this decision, and refer to the parties as the Law Firm, the Client, and the lawyer with primary carriage of the Client’s matter as the Lawyer. The Client’s (former) Spouse and Child shall carry those monikers; the Lawyer’s partner who had some involvement (and who testified), the Partner. I have done my best to anonymize other identifying characteristics such as employment and addresses, although as will be seen some discussion of these is inevitable to provide coherence to these reasons. The litigants will be able readily to grasp the context; to others for whom this bowdlerization may render obscurity or narrative turgidity, I apologize.
Apology not accepted, Mr. Balmanoukian.
Let’s be clear: the only difference between the three cases cited above (and all others I’m aware of) and this case, entitled simply Law Firm vs. Client is this: Linda Geffroy, Melanie Stephen, and Rima Majaess are regular people going about their life as well and as badly as the rest of us do, and so the details of their dirty laundry are aired publicly. But in the case adjudicated by Balmanoukian, the “Client” and her husband, called “Spouse,” are people of means. He held a “high-paying overseas job” and had such complicated financial holdings that the Client agreed to hire the accounting firm KPMG for $10,000 to analyze them.
Along the way, we learn that the Spouse had worked in the Channel Islands, suggesting he was involved in tax sheltering work for the very wealthy. And, his mother transferred her family home, also in the Channel Islands, to the couple, and that became an issue in divorce proceedings. Given all that, the “Lawyer” had succesfully argued that the Spouse should pay “spousal support in the monthly amount of $4,000 and child support in the amount of $3,618, healthy amounts reflective of the Spouse’s healthy income,” wrote Balmanoukian — that’s $91,416 annually that the Client was to receive, about half which (the child support) was tax-free.
But then the pandemic came, and “the Spouse took the position that he was no longer able to travel internationally for his work — either at all, or under such arduous conditions (such as lengthy quarantines on each end) that it made it distasteful at best. He further took the position that his pay would be affected downwards, and that quarantining would unduly restrict his parenting time with the parties’ child. The Client, understandably, viewed all of this with some circumspection.”
The Spouse “never did go back to his high-paying overseas job, and indeed even quit his $30,000 Canadian job afterwards, with no apparent replacement income” (except, says Balmanoukian in a footnote, “with the possible exception of some work done for a relative’s nascent small business). Additionally, the Spouse was $66,000 in arrears in the money he had been ordered to pay his ex-wife, but given the changed circumstances of his finances, those debts “were set at nil” by a court.
Consider: the Spouse was at one time in a position to pay $91,000 a year in spousal/child support but then simply by losing a job immediately went to a financial status such that he could pay none of his court-ordered debt at all. Had he no investments, no savings, no real estate? And again, while I don’t know for sure, he appears to have been involved in the financial industry working in a tax haven, and if so likely has some knowledge about how to shelter income from things like court judgments.
It’s not hard to see why the Client “viewed all of this with some circumspection.”
Did the client unfairly blame her lawyer for the big financial hit she experienced? Balmanoukian takes the position that his role was merely to determine whether the lawyer’s bills were reasonable and fair, and not to drill down into whether the lawyer did a shit job — if she wants to argue that, she can make that argument specifically to another court, he says. He ruled for “Law Firm.”
OK. Maybe. But it’d sit better if we, the public, knew who she and the spouse are, so we could be comfortable with this decision. This is precisely why the Open Court Principle exists — so that the public can assess that the courts are working fairly and for justice, and not solely for the interests of the wealthy.
6. Robie Street death
Friday night, a 26-year-old man was found dead on Robie Street, just past the intersection of Young Street. Yesterday, Halifax police issued a statement explaining what happened:
Through the investigation it has been determined that two men committing a home invasion were confronted by an occupant of the residence. An altercation occurred resulting in the death of one of the men attempting to invade the home. The other man fled the area but later turned himself in to police. Investigators have determined this was not a random incident.
The Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service conducted an autopsy and has ruled the manner of death to be a homicide. The victim has been identified as 26-year-old Anthony Robert Herritt…
Officers arrested two men at the scene upon initial arrival to the address. Both of those individuals have been released from custody. Criminal charges are not being considered at this time in relation to the death.
Tyler Jayson Saulnier, 28, will be appearing in Halifax provincial court on January 3 to face the following charges in relation to the home invasion:
• Break and enter to commit indictable offence of assault with a weapon
• Possession of weapon dangerous to the public peace
• Wearing a disguise
• Breach of probation
Members of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division are continuing to ask anyone with information or video from the area, who has not yet spoken with police, to call 902-490-5020.
In 2019, a man with the same name as the deceased — Anthony Robert Herritt — was convicted of possession of cocaine for trafficking and sentenced to 24 months in prison.
Saulnier is scheduled to appear at 10am at the Spring Garden Road courthouse.
7. Alan Ruffman
Alan Ruffman has died.
Ruffman was instrumental in the creation of the Ecology Action Centre in the 1970s, and has been active in a number of local planning issues — he was among those who stopped the Harbour Drive freeway project along the waterfront, and opposed the building of the new convention centre on Argyle Street.
While he will be most remembered for his public stances on this or that issue, I’ll remember him fondly as the retiree who hung out at the Dalhousie Library — he was there pretty much every day, he told me — and was eager to talk. Alan was always kind.
8. Atlantic Gold
We’ve taken Joan Baxter’s Dec. 12 article, “Shake-up at Australian mining firm St Barbara will have big reverberations in Nova Scotia,” out from behind the paywall. In it, Baxter writes that “St Barbara will hand its Nova Scotia operations off to a new junior miner, press pause on the Beaver Dam project, ‘advance’ its Cochrane Hill project, and place its Touquoy mine in ‘care and maintenance’ in 2024.”
In the harbour
05:30: Asian Dynasty, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 9 from Bremerhaven, Germany
07:00: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
08:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, sails from Dockyard for sea
10:00: Onego Wisla, bulker, arrives at anchorage from Altamira, Mexico
11:30: Skogafoss sails for Portland
14:00: Onego Wisla sails for Sheet Harbour
15:00: Hyundai Faith, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
15:00: Algoma Victory, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
18:00: Asian Dynasty moves to Autoport
05:00: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, sails from Government Dock (Sydney) for sea
10:30: Shelia Ann, bulker, arrives at Coal Pier (Sydney) from Point Tupper
13:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at Sydney anchorage from Houston
Happy New Year.