Tonight, Jesse Brown brings his Canadaland to Halifax for a live taping. Brown will be talking with me and King’s College journalism prof Terra Tailleur. The show at the Marquee starts at 7pm, but doors open at 6pm. Entry cost is $10, with all proceeds going to CKDU. Iris and Tempa will be hawking Examiner swag, and we’ll all stick around later for hijinks. It should be great fun.
1. Gregory Lenehan
“A Nova Scotia judge is facing a firestorm of criticism after declaring ‘clearly, a drunk can consent’ as he acquitted a Halifax taxi driver of sexually assaulting a female passenger who was so intoxicated that she urinated on herself and passed out in the back of his cab,” reports Robyn Doolittle for the Globe & Mail:
The Canadian Judicial Council — which last year, through a committee, recommended that Alberta’s Justice Robin Camp be removed from the bench after he asked a rape complainant “why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” — has received multiple complaints against Justice Lenehan since his Wednesday verdict.
The council, which deals only with the conduct of federal judges, has referred those individuals to Nova Scotia’s Office of the Chief Judge. A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia judiciary said Chief Judge Pamela Williams plans to recuse herself from hearing any complaints on the matter. (The Globe has learned Chief Judge Williams and Justice Lenehan used to be married.) The Chief Judge can be replaced by the Associate Chief Judge, or another provincially appointed judge chosen by the Chief Judge, a spokesperson said.
As I reported yesterday, the Nova Scotia Judicial Council says that, before yesterday, it had not received a formal complaint about a judge in the last 15 years. I worry that potential complainants are shuffled off through an “informal” complaint resolution process that doesn’t leave a public record trail, but I don’t have solid evidence to back that up.
But yesterday, many people said they have filed complaints about Lenehan with the Judicial Council, and a change.org petition calling for action against the judge has 7,586 signers as of this morning.
Other reaction includes:
• “Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard says she shares the outrage mounting in response to a Nova Scotia judge’s comment that ‘clearly a drunk can consent,’” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC.
• “The mayor of Halifax doesn’t think Bassam Al-Rawi should drive a cab in this city, but he stopped short of criticizing the judge who acquitted him,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:
“Whether he was guilty or innocent from the judge’s point of view, and I don’t question judges, there’s enough evidence for me to say that I don’t want somebody like that driving a taxi in this municipality,” Mayor Mike Savage said in an interview.
Savage said that’s his point of view “as both a mayor and a father,” and he thought the municipality’s taxi licensing department made the right call in taking away Al-Rawi’s licence when he was charged. But he didn’t criticize the committee that reinstated it.
“I wasn’t privy to the evidence the appeals committee had, so I can’t really judge from their point of view,” he said. “I can just give you my point of view, and certainly supported from what we heard that came out of the trial.”
• The city issued a statement on the matter yesterday:
The recent Nova Scotia Provincial Court decision dealing with the case of former taxi driver Bassam Al-Rawi is one the municipality takes quite seriously.
Paramount for the municipality is ensuring public safety while citizens are travelling in municipal taxis. To that end, a full review is now underway into the status of Mr. Al-Rawi’s licensing privileges.
On May 27, 2015, the municipal taxi licensing office suspended Mr. Al-Rawi’s licence. This decision was overturned in August, 2015 by the municipal Appeals Standing Committee. The standing committee attached two conditions to Mr. Al-Rawi’s licence. He was only permitted to drive between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and he was also required to have a camera installed in his vehicle.
However, in September 2015, Mr. Al-Rawi was unable to meet a requirement of the Taxi and Limousine By-Law (T-1000), resulting in his licence being deemed “non-operational.” Specifically, Mr. Al-Rawi was unable to provide the municipality’s taxi licensing office with a business name for whom he would be driving. Therefore he is not permitted to operate a taxi.
It should be noted this by-law requirement is in place for all taxi vehicles.
Mr. Al-Rawi’s taxi licences have been non-operational since that time.
When Mr. Al-Rawi’s taxi licences were originally suspended on May 27, 2015, he received a letter from the taxi licensing office, indicating his licence privileges would be reviewed at the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. Municipal staff is now undertaking that review.
2. Police and sexual assault
Doolittle, the Globe & Mail reporter, raises the issue of the police response to the alleged rape in Bassam Al-Rawi’s cab:
Court heard that the woman had hailed the taxi about 10 minutes before the officer arrived and that the driver had parked in the city’s south end, which was in a different direction from the woman’s home. Earlier in the evening, she had been out with friends downtown. Some time after midnight, she was denied entry to Boomers Lounge for being too drunk.
Scott Rozee, one of the owners, said neither the police nor the Crown’s office has ever tried to formally interview him or his staff about the woman’s state, although they learned about it informally from a police officer acquaintance.
Doolittle has spent the last 20 months looking into how police respond to allegations of sexual assault. The result is an important, ground-breaking piece of investigative journalism the Globe & Mail has dubbed “Unfounded“:
National policing data, compiled and reviewed by The Globe as part of its 20-month investigation, reveal that one of every five sexual-assault allegations in Canada is dismissed as baseless and thus unfounded. The result is a national unfounded rate of 19.39 per cent — nearly twice as high as it is for physical assault (10.84 per cent), and dramatically higher than that of other types of crime.
Halifax’s unfounded rate, at 13 per cent, is better than the national average, but still much higher than the single-digit unfounded rates in Toronto, Winnipeg, Surrey and Windsor.
As Doolittle points out:
When complaints of sexual assault are dismissed with such frequency, it is a sign of deeper flaws in the investigative process: inadequate training for police; dated interviewing techniques that do not take into account the effect that trauma can have on memory; and the persistence of rape myths among law-enforcement officials.
“What does unfounded mean to you? What does unfounded mean to anybody? It means ‘You’re lying,’” says Ottawa criminologist Holly Johnson, who has extensively studied that city’s unfounded cases. She believes that high rates send a message that police don’t believe large numbers of complainants, “which reinforces damaging myths that women lie about sexual victimization, and could act as a deterrent to already low reporting.”
The allegations against Al-Rawi were not called “unfounded” by Halifax police, in part because the main witness was a police officer. However, that no one bothered to interview the bar staff suggests that either police were confident they had a rock-solid case without the bar staff’s evidence, or that they didn’t take their investigation seriously enough.
3. Bad judges of the past
The Gregory Lenehan matter brings to mind other problematic judges.
A reader points me to the case of Raymond Bartlett, who died in 1989. The Chronicle Herald noted his passing:
A controversial former family court judge from Truro has died.
Raymond Bartlett was 84 years old when he died at home earlier this week.
In May 1989, the former judge was found guilty of kicking his wife. Mr.
Bartlett, a fundamentalist Christian booted from the bench two years earlier
for preaching to women and telling them to be subservient to their husbands,
was convicted of assault and fined $350.
Lillis Bartlett, who has since passed away, told provincial court her
husband kicked her in the buttocks after she refused to reveal who she was
talking with on their home telephone.
“He was supposed to straighten out families, not be abusive in his own
home,” she said on the stand.
The former judge testified he mistakenly touched his wife with his lifted
foot when he reached down to pick up a chair she had pushed to the floor.
Mr. Bartlett was appointed to the bench in 1967. The province turfed him 20
years later after a dozen women complained publicly about his eccentric
As Dal prof Wayne MacKay wrote in 1995:
The case of Family Court Judge Raymond Bartlett in Nova Scotia concerned in-court speech of such an outrageous nature that the judge was eventually removed from the Bench. The fact that it was not until a women’s group complained that anything was done about Judge Bartlett is an issue in itself, Judge Raymond Bartlett, a self-professed born-again Christian, used his court as a forum in which to air his views. His lectures were primarily directed at women and related to their proper roles within the family and society. He berated women for not obeying their husbands when some of these women were seeking redress from abusive spouses or other related divorce issues. Judge Bartlett’s speech was not hidden nor, presumably, was it condoned by those within the legal community. In fact, Judge Bartlett’s reputation preceded him and some lawyers said they had known about his behaviour for as long as 10 years.
In a far more extreme form than the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Inquiry (Marshall Affair), the Bartlett case provides an example of judges using their power to victimize vulnerable people. It must have been very painful for the women appearing before Judge Bartlett to be lectured about the virtue of being obedient to a spouse who has beaten her and her children. Indeed, the cruel irony of the situation was heightened when Judge Bartlett was himself charged with assaulting his spouse. The fact that he was finally removed in early January of 1987 after a formal investigation by the provincial Judicial Council is only a partial victory. It cannot satisfy critics who point out that Judge Bartlett had remained on the Bench for far too long. There is a serious need to make judges accountable for their conduct and speech within the courtroom.
Then there’s Lewis Matheson, who was brought up in the Donald Marshall Inquiry in 1989. Wrote Helena Katz in Justice Miscarried: Inside Wrongful Convictions in Canada:
The inquiry also heard about allegations of racism and a two-tiered justice system. Lewis Matheson, who was by then a Provincial Court judge in Nova Scotia, was still a Cape Breton County prosecutor when he said that a fence should be built around the nearby Eskasoni reserve to prevent the Natives from going to Sydney to cause problems.
Six years later, Matheson, then a judge, hit the papers. As I explained in a footnote in my Dead Wrong series (you have to read the footnotes):
On November 22, 1995, Justice Lewis Matheson had sentenced a man named Colin Boutilier to probation and no jail time for forcible entry into his estranged wife’s home. “It’s unfortunate that at 54 years of age you have to appear for the first time in a court of this type,” said Matheson at sentencing. “I don’t know, even having heard everything that was said, whether it’s your own fault or you happen to have a very sensitive mate who is easily rattled.” Just 13 days later, on December 4, 1995, Boutilier was charged with the first degree murder of his former girlfriend Leah May MacQueen, a 45-year-old Grade 5 teacher who was found dead in her driveway. “Boutilier was found at the scene with a gunshot wound in the stomach,” reported the Daily News, which went on to note a previous incident in the judge’s past: “Last year, Matheson — who’s in his 60s — found himself at the centre of a controversy after jailing a 42-year-old man for sexually assaulting two 15-year-old girls and a 12-year-old girl. Before sentencing, the judge said: ‘What is most serious about this, is that it involves children …If these were 35-year-old women, women that (the perpetrator) had done this to, I might smile and throw this out of court.’” See “More trouble for Glace Bay judge,” Daily News, December 9, 1995. Boutilier was subsequently convicted of the murder of MacQueen.
Two women complained to the Judicial Council about Matheson’s remarks, and the council issued a ruling, but that decision is not online; next time I’m in Province House, I’ll stop by the library and read it.
I haven’t been able to find Matheson’s obituary, but he died sometime before 1999.
4. Accessibility bill
“Nova Scotia’s proposed accessibility legislation needs to be significantly strengthened, advocates for the disabled told lawmakers Thursday,” reports Keith Doucette for the Canadian Press:
Sue Uteck, of the March of Dimes Canada, told the legislature’s law amendments committee that the Accessibility Act is weaker than similar legislation in Ontario and Manitoba — the only provinces with accessibility laws.
“If enacted as is, it would be the weakest such law in effect in any province that has enacted a comprehensive disability accessibility law,” said Uteck.
Gerry Post, who represents a coalition of 35 disabled groups, said the bill’s economic analysis provisions would render it “stillborn.”
“Accessibility is a basic human right,” said Post. “We know there are concerns in the private sector and alarmists say that this act will put them out of business. This is furthest from the truth.”
He said the legislation as written is only a promise to act and needed some teeth, including a broader definition of disability.
Post said making the province more accessible should be seen as a driver for business, with about 20 per cent of the population living with disabilities. He said that figure is projected to grow to around 30 per cent by 2026.
5. Darrell Dexter, drug dealer
Former premier Darrell Dexter is now working for the PR firm Global Public Affairs, where he “will be leading the firm’s cannabis industry clients as marijuana legislation and regulations are rolled out,” reports the CBC.
I was particularly taken with the ceeb’s line of questioning around Dexter’s personal drug use:
Q: What’s your personal experience with marijuana?
A: From an investment perspective, I don’t really have any experience with it.
I saw my colleague Tom Clark saying that the people that are in nursing homes today, many of them were at Woodstock.
For me, like most people when we were young, we were experimenting at the time.
Q: Do you still consume marijuana recreationally?
A: No, I do not. That’s my own personal choice. My interest in this industry comes from a purely professional perspective.
Yeah, whatever. Were I the reporter, I would’ve followed up: Darrell, what about booze? A shot in the morning coffee to steel yourself for a hard day’s work? How ’bout a couple mid-evening lines, a little pick-me-up? Hillbilly heroin? You ride the horse through the weekend?
Alas, the CBC has lost its journalistic instinct.
I wrote yesterday that judge Gregory Lenehan was the judge in the preliminary hearing of Christopher Garnier. He wasn’t. He was involved in some other pre-trial matter. Also, after spelling Lenehan’s name correctly a couple of times, I careened off and for some reason replaced that last N with an M.
Errors are regretted, and I will strive for better.
1. Equity in transit
“I was excited for Shift, the annual conference organized by Dal planning students even before speaking to Monica Tibbits-Nutt, the Boston-based transportation planner who will deliver a keynote address Friday morning,” writes Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler:
Tibbits-Nutt will be speaking about equity in transit services, something that’s been distinctly left out of the conversation in Halifax so far.
Equity is about far more than the cost of getting on a bus or ferry. Not that programs like Halifax’s newly minted Low Income Transit Pass program don’t help, but there’s a much broader issue than simply ability to pay user fees. “It’s way greater than that,” says Tibbits-Nutt. “The bus, especially in the US, has been treated as a second class option that caters to second class citizens. And that is just horrific. And we know that it is wrong, but as an industry and as a discipline, have been very slow to take it on to the level that we should.”
The sometimes unstated, sometimes overt propensity to build services for “choice” riders, and ignore the needs of so-called “captive” riders, has created inequities in the distribution of transit services. While there hasn’t yet been an analysis of this distribution in Halifax, there’s reason to think that the pattern is repeated here. For instance, Halifax Transit’s highest quality transit services are aimed squarely at 9-5 commuters from outside the urban core.
2. Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
“Raped at age seven, famed author Maya Angelou refused to speak for the next five years,” writes Evelyn White for the Halifax Examiner:
The experience stands at the centre of her debut 1969 novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The instant best seller takes its name from a line in the Paul Laurence Dunbar work, “Sympathy,” and has never been out of print.
Those familiar (or not) with the narrative will find themselves transfixed by Angelou when, in And Still I Rise, she recounts her journey from sexually abused black girl to the “Phenomenal Woman” depicted in her poem of the same title; a work that the writer, activist, actor, singer, dancer, and film director performed, to triumphant effect, all over the world.
Speaking with the sonorous Shakespearean diction that came to define her, Angelou, author of 36 books, declares in the film: “I had a lot to say.”
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise will premiere at 7pm on Saturday, March 4 at the Spatz Theatre, 1855 Trollope Street, Halifax. The event is part of a series of Black Film Festivals that Montreal entrepreneur Fabienne Colas has mounted in Canadian cities since 2005.
3. Cranky letter of the day
During a CTV news report on Feb. 22, some New Waterford residents were complaining about the smell and noise from about 50 chickens.
In my opinion, these individuals must have great ears and smellers.
I hope that CBRM officials offer very little response to this situation.
It was pointed out in the report that these chickens are part of a 4-H project.
Robert Richards, Dutch Brook
No public meetings.
Law Amendments (Friday, 9am, Province House) — Bill No. 75 – Accessibility Act.
Feminist Intervention (Friday, 12:30pm, Room 2021, Marion McCain Building) — Louise Carbert will speak on “Historiography and Hagiography of Feminist Intervention into Canada’s Constitution.”
Chemistry (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Jason D. Masuda will speak on “New Main Group Chemistry Involving Carbon, Phosphorus and Aluminum.”
Passage to India (3:30pm, Friday, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Gordon McOuat will speak on “JBS Haldane’s Passage to India: How Postcolonial Knowledge Went the Other Way.”
Refugee Symposium (Friday, 10am, Theatre A, Burke Building) — Keynote speakers include Katie Tinker, Rohini Bannerjee, Catherine Baillie Abidi, and Russell Daye, with a showing of After Spring, a documentary that focuses on the Syrian refugee crisis. To sign up contact email@example.com .
Irish Literature (Friday, 7pm, Room 225, the building named for a grocery store) — Philip O’Leary speaks on “What Should I Read? Proposing a Canon for Literature in Irish.”
In the harbour
7am: CSL Tacoma, bulker, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to National Gypsum
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, moves from Anchorage #2 to Pier 36
7am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
10:30am: Hoegh Singapore, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from New York
2pm: Energy Patriot, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Houston
3:30pm: Hoegh Singapore, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
Busy day today.
What I am left to wonder about, is how many sexual assault victims did not have their cases procede while then Crown Prosecuter Gregory Lenehan was supposedly representing the people of this province? How many times did he say “Unfounded”?
Read this for an explanation of the decision to prosecute and the decision making process of the Crown : https://novascotia.ca/pps/publications/ca_manual/ProsecutionPolicies/DecisionToProsecute.pdf
A very interesting document. Thank you for the link.
Am struck and disturbed by (1)(b) Page 13 under heading:
“Prosecutors must [“must” is emphasized in bold type] consult with their supervisors in regard to the decision to prosecute (or to discontinue prosecution) in any case involving:
“(b) charges against public figures or persons involved in the administration of justice.”
Really? On its face, this raises the spectre of undue influence and bias for a unique and protected class.
(a) simply states, “a death, or” which is understandable when one considers the potential aspects which could be in play; e.g. which court should handle, i.e. mental health or family court, number, degree of charge(s), etc.
In reading the transcript of Judge Lenehan’s decision, his analysis seems to lead towards the (to most of us, obvious) conclusion that the passenger would have been too intoxicated to consent to any sexual activity. Then he seems to basically just go off the rails completely and somehow has a reasonable doubt as to consent. The key word here is reasonable. I think it is well beyond a reasonable doubt that a person who is so intoxicated she has lost control of her bodily functions and is unconscious is not in a position to consent to anything. This decision should definitely be appealed and overturned.
” Alas, the CBC has lost its journalistic instinct.”
Yesterday you said they were ‘ stretched a bit thin’. Watch First Edition tonight and at the end count the names as they scroll by….hope you are a quick counter, I do it two at a time.
RE: Dexter, drug dealer.
“Former premier Darrell Dexter is now working for the PR firm Global Public Affairs” This suggests that Dexter just recently joined Global Public Affairs. In fact, he joined the firm not long after getting turfed by the voters and before the last federal election. My read is that, since Global is a lobbying firm and the federal NDP was leading in the polls at the time, Global saw Dexter as the ideal lobbyist with the anticipated, new federal NDP government. Oops. I’m guessing they weren’t terribly successful lobbying Rachel Notley, so it’s on to the weed file. Lobbyists have to lobby.
Excellent research and commentary on the judges’ scandals here in NS>
Thanks for your investigation and insights.
I would like to see the minutes from the Appeals Committee, which may give us an idea on why the members voted unanimously to allow this man to continue driving a cab while facing these charges.
I suspect, without any knowledge of the facts, that a staff lawyer told the Committee that HRM could be sued if it would not allow the man to earn a living by driving. As a result, I suspect, members voted to restore the man’s taxi licence to protect the corporation from being sued, and placed restrictions that they felt might reduce the risk to the public resulting from the Committee’s decision.
I may be wrong. All we can do is speculate though, as HRM feels it is very important to keep the minutes of that meeting secret. That insistence on secrecy deserves a lot of scrutiny, in my opinion.
Quite right, ask any elected government official and they will say that openness and transparency in government processes is one of the most asked for changes with respect to government government decision making processes. Our elected officials keep hearing these requests; but then they continue to work behind closed doors far too often. Trust in government is at an all-time low due to their own actions and only these same elected officials can change the public’s perception by being more open and transparent when making decisions on the behave of the public. If one is so embarrassed with their decision on a given matter that they feel how they derived the decision should be kept from the public, then in all likelihood they made the wrong decision. Judges are required to back up their decisions by publishing the logic they used, in writing…. why should an Appeals Committee not be required to do so as well?
page 7 :
” Mr. Mike Taylor, Solicitor representing the Appellant, Bassam Al-Rawi, provided in writing a request that Mr. Al-Rawi’s appeal hearing be held in camera, including circumstances which he believed warranted an
in camera hearing, noting that he would be making reference to certain issues that may be contentious at the time of Mr. Al-Rawi’s Preliminary Inquiry and/or trial, and since this information is not publically available, he would not want to have his comments in relation to some of the proposed evidence to become public information through reporting by the press. In the interests of ensuring that Mr. Al-Rawi receives a fair trial when the time comes, Mr. Taylor requested that this hearing be dealt with as an in camera matter.
The Standing Committee rose to go into a private In Camera session at 12:11 p.m. The Committee reconvened to the public session at 12:35 a.m.”
Appeal Committee Agendas & Minutes : http://www.halifax.ca/boardscom/SCappeals/index.php#y2015
That having been made clear, once Mr. Al-Rawi’s court proceedings were concluded, the grounds for the in camera stipulation really no longer applied since the the results of the court would be already in the public domain. At that time the content of the discussions from the in camera meeting and the basis for the Appeals Committee’s ruling should be made public. In camera is not something that must remain a secret forever; when it comes to governmental processes that is especially true. Once the court proceeding was over, there should be nothing left with respect to Mr. Al-Rawi that still needs in camera protection.
Email the Mayor and your councillor. I doubt the in camera minutes,if there are any, will be available until any and all appeals are exhausted.
You’re probably correct, Ken. HRM legal has a demonstrated aversion to going to court. One good example is the Irving property tax break. The Irving suits threatened litigation and voila, they got the requested tax break.
Most reassuring to have Mayor Mike Savage just come right out and criticize deeply flawed legal and regulatory processes. Wait a minute … he sort of ducked that, didn’t he?
This is so egregious, so vile that politicians- our so called leaders – MUST speak up against this judge and his noxious decision and apparently his noxious world view.
Yes the judiciary must be independent from politics but god damn it show some fucking leadership.
For those who cannot make it to the Spatz this weekend, PBS Detroit will be broadcasting the Maya Angelou doc on Sunday afternoon.