1. Zane Woodford
Today is Zane Woodford’s last day working for the Halifax Examiner. Zane has accepted a job at the online business news site allnovascotia.com.
Obviously, this is a huge loss for the Examiner, but this is the natural order of things, and a wonderful opportunity for Zane. I could not be more happy for him.
I met Zane when he was a student in the King’s journalism program. For a school project, Zane wanted to profile me, but I demurred — my personal life is boring and my past a little embarrassing for its multiple failures; I shouldn’t be a model for anyone, especially students.
More to the point, I’m protective of my immediate family, and I don’t want them to suffer backlash and retribution for the work I do, so I don’t mention them in print. But that didn’t stop Zane. He wrote his profile anyway, without my cooperation, going so far as to hunt down and interview my mom. So, points for tenaciousness. In all the years since, we’ve never discussed this.
After school, Zane demonstrated his immense talents as a beat reporter. That talent became evident when he worked for the commuter publication Star Metro Halifax, as the paper’s City Hall reporter. But in 2019, Torstar abruptly shut down its Metro papers, including Halifax’s, and Zane lost his job just a few days before Christmas.
To the extent that we’ve been able to, the Halifax Examiner has provided a home for wayward and lost reporters. You go on strike, we’ve got your back. The billion-dollar corporate borg abandons you on the street? You can stay in the guest room until you find your feet. And so, in January 2020, I hired Zane on a one-month term. In 22 calendar days, he wrote 13 articles.
Those were odd times. We did what we could, but we couldn’t really afford Zane. He worked his month and then took another term position at the Chronicle Herald, which made sense financially for both him and the Examiner. Then the world blew up with COVID and the mass murders, and thanks to the support of readers, the Examiner found itself in an explosive growth stage. Zane hated his job at the Herald, and there was more work than our tiny crew could handle, so I hired Zane back in May 2020 as a full-time reporter.
Since then, he’s written 840 more articles for the Examiner, and will probably pump out one or two more today. That’s about one and a half articles per day, including weekends, holidays, and vacations. To say Zane is prolific is like calling the ocean wet; it’s a defining characteristic.
But volume aside, Zane is an excellent reporter. He knows his beat. He is detailed and thorough. He asks tough questions and writes on difficult subjects. And a pleasant surprise for me has been that Zane is a wonderful photographer; his work is the backbone of the Examiner’s photo library.
There’s so much fantastic reporting that it’s hard to know where to start, but his on-the-ground dispatches from the Halifax police attack on homeless encampments is a worthy entry point to Zane’s reporting. All of his Examiner work is archived here.
Beyond the reporting, however, Zane has been an excellent colleague. He fills in when needed. He has mentored and assisted newer reporters. He’s edited articles. Many times over the last three years, I’ve asked for his advice, and he’s offered his insight and, when needed, criticism.
All of which is to say, Zane is a gifted and accomplished professional. He is irreplaceable.
I don’t at all begrudge Zane for moving on. He’s got a young family to support, and his career horizons stretch far beyond the reach of the Examiner.
And It’s simply a fact that allnovascotia has a more lucrative revenue model than does the Halifax Examiner. The readership at allnovascotia is largely people working in business and government who happily expense their subscriptions to a publication that writes to their interests. In contrast, not so much for the Examiner; our readers are extremely generous with their financial support, and it is appreciated more than I can express, but we don’t have the resources that allnovascotia has. I pride myself on paying workers a competitive wage, but I can’t match the offer allnovascotia had made to Zane.
Good for Zane.
And good for the Halifax Examiner. I’m glad that we have been a vehicle for Zane’s professional growth. I see his success as reflective of the success of the Examiner.
I’ll miss Zane immensely, but wish him all the best.
2. Riley trial
I’m beyond frustrated with the Randy Riley trial. Yesterday, the defence and Crown gave their closing statements to the jury, which I can summarize as follows:
Defence: There’s no real evidence that connects Riley to the murder, and both of the Crown’s witnesses are acknowledged liars, with one of them — Kaitlin Fuller — receiving over $600,000 in benefits in return for her testimony.
Crown: Sure, there’s no actual evidence, but there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence, and Kaitlin Fuller’s lying is proof she’s telling the truth. (I’m not at all exaggerating about this.)
I’ve been the only reporter in the courtroom for the last couple of weeks, but suddenly for closing arguments, both the CP and the CBC showed up. CP reporter Michael Tutton got the story wrong, and for some unfathomable reason didn’t even name Fuller, much less report on her financial windfall.
CBC reporter Blair Rhodes has yet to file his report. I’m hoping that’s because he realizes it takes more time to do the story correctly.
Ideally, I would also have a story about closing arguments out today, but I don’t. That’s because I’m reporting on and building a more detailed contextual article. I can’t right now get into that, but it’s related to a publication ban that the Witness Protection Program (WPP) is asking for.
Last Thursday, the Crown sheepishly told the presiding judge, Justice Josh Arnold, that the WPP was seeking a publication ban. Procedurally, when someone seeks a publication ban, notice has to be given to the media, and we have the opportunity to attend a hearing to challenge the proposed ban. That usually takes a couple of days to schedule. However, the Crown said last Thursday, the WPP wanted an interim publication ban, to be put in place immediately, until a proper hearing on the matter could be scheduled.
The WPP clearly wants the judge to force the Halifax Examiner to unpublish two articles we wrote about the WPP witness, Kaitlin Fuller — my article, “Riley trial: Witness admits she lied multiple times in previous testimony, including when her testimony resulted in a murder conviction for another man,” and El Jones’ commentary, “The prosecution of Randy Riley rests on racist tropes of violent and animalistic Black men and a vulnerable, unquestionable white woman.”
I objected. It’s unusual for a reporter and a judge to have a discussion in the middle of a trial, but here we were. I told Arnold that we have abided by both the publication bans that are in place — one is a typical prohibition on reporting things said in court without the presence of the jury, and the second prohibits us from publishing Fuller’s photo or describing her physical appearance. I have no problems with those bans, at least for the moment. But the WPP wants something much more problematic: they want to prohibit me from reporting on testimony said in open court, in front of the jury.
Obviously, the jury will use this information to decide whether or not Randy Riley is guilty of murder and be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. That issue is fundamental to the entire case. It makes a mockery of the open court principle to say that a reporter can’t tell the public about it.
To his credit, Arnold refused to issue an interim publication ban. He said if the WPP wants a publication ban, they can make an application and he’d schedule a hearing for it, with the media properly noticed so we can challenge it.
On Friday, Arnold said he wasn’t going to interrupt the trial for that hearing, so it will have to wait until the jury goes into deliberation. That meant the hearing on the publication ban would happen tomorrow, Thursday. But a delay in notification has moved that to Friday.
So I spent much of the three-day weekend researching and preparing for the hearing, at which I intend to make an extensive presentation. This is really important, for reasons that will become readily apparent after I make the presentation. So important that I’m spending basically all my working moments on it, and not writing those day-to-day reports about the trial.
“It’s been almost 20 years since the Affordable Energy Coalition first proposed a break for low-income households on their electricity bills,” reports Jennifer Henderson:
This past January, with power rates set to rise almost 14% over two years, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) ordered Nova Scotia Power, the Affordable Energy Coalition, and government officials to sit down and come up with a way forward.
The first meeting of this Low-Income Advisory Group finally took place three weeks ago after repeated reminders and gentle nagging from Brian Gifford, a founding member of the Affordable Energy Coalition. On Tuesday, Gifford told a legislative committee meeting called to discuss the cost-of-living impact on energy poverty, he sees this as “the best chance in 20 years” to tackle energy poverty.
“While levels of COVID have increased in Nova Scotia in recent weeks and the province’s chief medical officer of health wants people to take precautions from getting sick, he also says there’s no need to be alarmed,” reports Suzanne Rent:
Dr. Robert Strang provided an update on COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses, as well as the fall vaccination program, at a briefing Tuesday morning.
Strang said public health has looked to regions in the southern hemisphere that just went through winter to understand the seasonal patterns of respiratory illnesses. He said those regions saw typical rates of influenza and modest increases in COVID-19, and infection rates were much lower than during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Strang encouraged people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and influenza. All Nova Scotians over the age of 65 can now receive the high-dose flu vaccine for free and starting today. That vaccine was previously only available for those over age 65 living in long-term care.
Throughout the month of October, Strang said Nova Scotia is expecting shipments of the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. More than 300 pharmacies across the province will post vaccine appointments online as soon as they are available, or Nova Scotians can visit this website to book an appointment.
5. Convention Centre
The budgeting sophistry for the Halifax Convention Centre continues apace, with officials now claiming that it is “paying for itself” despite a forecast $6.5 million deficit.
I don’t have the time or patience to parse this bullshit.
6. David Mitchell
It’s the first provincial money spent on public housing in 30 years. The majority of those units will be built in the community of Sackville, which is in HRM.
But the joint announcement also indicated public housing units would be built in Sydney, Bridgewater, Kentville and Truro.
On Tuesday at a meeting of the Legislative Committee on Community Services the mayor of Bridgewater expressed his frustration with how municipalities are rarely consulted by federal and provincial governments before making decisions that directly affect people in their communities.
Mayor David Mitchell said he was “shocked” last week to hear the announcement that included an unspecified number of apartments for a particular area of Bridgewater.
7. The province wants your input
This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.
The provincial government will conduct a comprehensive review of the policing structure in Nova Scotia and potentially recommend changes for how policing services are delivered. The request for proposals is here. The final report is due March 2025. Zane Woodford reported on the review and RFP on Friday.
People who own coastal property in Nova Scotia can send in their input on how to plan and adapt development along the coastline in response to climate change. Postcards with more details are in the mail. Click or tap here to contribute your input. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 7.
Nova Scotians can submit their input on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) Act as part of a review of the 30-year-old legislation. The last update was in 1999.
One internal government report released through a FOIPOP request was reported in the Globe and Mail last week. That 2022 report indicated 21,000 Nova Scotia households were still without internet and there were close to 800 kilometres of roads where no signal is available.
Click or tap here to submit comments or send them by mail to the Department of Justice, ATTN: FOIPOP Modernization, P.O. Box 7, Halifax, N.S., B3J 2L6. Deadline to submit is Nov. 30.
Nova Scotians can also submit their input on how to move the province to clean renewable electricity. The website to submit comments is https://cetaskforce.ca/ although this link doesn’t appear to be working. The deadline to submit comments is Oct. 15. The two-person Clean Electricity Solutions Task Force is doing the following work:
- examining electricity infrastructure needs for reliability, capacity and storage to meet climate change goals;
- assessing connections to other essential services such as telecommunications;
- reviewing the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board Act in terms of electricity generation, transmission and rates; and
- engaging subject matter experts, the Mi’kmaq and other interested Nova Scotians.
And in case you missed it — most of us did — the deadline has passed for comments on a proposed new Building Code for residential and commercial buildings that will require them to be 70% more energy-efficient by 2030.
Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 4pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate, and online) — agenda
Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall and online) — agenda
Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, online) — agenda
Pollinator Garden Tour (Wednesday, 8am, behind Sheriff Hall and Ocean Science Building) — until 11am
Brass and Percussion Noon Hour (Wednesday, 11:45am, Strug Concert Hall) — with students from the Fountain School of performing Arts; more info here
Sameer Farooq: The Fairest Order in the World (Thursday, 5pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — opening reception with the artist and curator, plus a collaborative performance by Sarah Prosper
Sciographies (Thursday, 4:30pm, CKDU or online) — this week’s podcast features Aaron Newman
Noon talk (Thursday, 12pm, Gallery 2B) — with Jean Mary Serutoke
In the harbour
06:45: Zuiderdam, cruise ship with up to 2,364 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale
07:15: Emerald Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,679 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
10:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Autoport from St. John’s
10:30: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
15:00: One Cygnus, container ship (146,694 tonnes), sails from Pier 41 for Dubai
15:30: Zuiderdam sails for Portland
15:30: Emerald Princess sails for Saint John
17:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to anchorage
21:30: Atlantic Sea sails for Liverpool, England
05:30: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,756 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Charlottetown, on a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
05:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, sails from Government Wharf (Sydney) for Corner Brook
06:30: Vista, cruise ship with up to 1,469 passengers, arrives at Sydney anchorage from Saguenay, on a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale — this is a brand new ship on its maiden season; it hasn’t even had a Norovirus outbreak yet
07:00: Algoma Valour, bulker, arrives at Point Tupper Coal Pier from Puerto Nuevo, Colombia
07:30: Vision of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,443 passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier (Sydney) from Halifax, on a nine-day roundtrip cruise out of Baltimore
15:30: Caribbean Princess sails for Bar Harbor
15:30: Vista sails for Shelburne
17:00: Sanmar Swara, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from Sikka, India
17:30: Vision of the Seas sails for Baltimore
[insert your own pithy comment here]