1. Council committee recommends increase to RCMP and HRP budgets

Sign at a protest reading "Defund the Police"
Photo by Taymazvalley via Flickr.

Last week, Zane Woodford reported that Halifax Regional Police lied to the Board of Police Commissioners about steps taken to fix the police department’s IT security failings.

Yesterday, councillors on the city’s budget committee recommended in favour of increasing the police budget. Under their recommendations, the HRP budget would go up by 2.7% and the the Halifax-District RCMP budget by 5.6%.

Reporting on yesterday’s budget committee meeting, Woodford writes:

What came to council’s budget committee on Wednesday was the staff-recommended 2.7% increase to the budget, up to about $88.6 million, with four options over budget for council’s consideration.

The board recommended in favour of all four of those items, totalling $332,000. They are: $85,000 for a one-year term employee to write a detailed report on body-worn cameras, $101,200 for an online training technician, $60,000 for a training course, and $85,800 for a new court dispositions clerk.

Councillors left one of those items, $101,200 for an online training technician, on the table, choosing not to add it to the adjustment list for consideration, and in turn, they chose a lower budget than the Board of Police Commissioners recommended.

They added the other three items, totalling $230,800. That means the maximum HRP budget councillors could vote for now would be $88,810,800 — an increase of 2.9% over the 2020-2021 budget.

Councillors raised questions about a few individual items in the police budget, including a quarter of a million dollars on polygraphs. Let’s be clear. Polygraphs, or lie detector test, are thoroughly disproven junk science, and the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that evidence gained through their use is inadmissible. When I saw Woodford’s piece, I immediately thought of an El Jones article from last year, but Woodford beat me to it, quoting from it himself. Jones writes:

Polygraph tests, popularly known as lie detectors, are notoriously unreliable. In 1987, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the tests are inadmissible in court. In 2000, however, the court ruled that it is acceptable to use the tests to extract confessions from suspects. In other words, despite being unscientific and unproven, the police are allowed to use the tests to deceive suspects into often false confessions.

Woodford reports that, when asked about polygraphs, Halifax Regional Police chief Dan Kinsella replied:

“I’m not an expert on it. I don’t know all the details, but I do know that it is a tool that has value to our investigative ability. I’ll leave it at that. Subject to different opinions on it, or whether it’s good or bad, there are a number of police services across the country that use polygraph investigatively.”

Here is a tool whose results have been deemed inadmissible as evidence in Canada for 35 years, and the best the chief can do is say he doesn’t really have much of an opinion, but other police forces use it.

Well, that’s comforting.

Late yesterday afternoon I saw this tweet, which I presume is in reference to the proposed police budget increase, and kind of sums things up nicely.

Tweet from North End Halifax that says, "We painted Black Lives Matter" on Brunswick and I guess that was enough. Good job @hfxgov!

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2. Crashing the COVID-19 vaccination clinic

Danielle Sheaves, a registered nurse with the COVID-19 unit at the QEII, was the first person in Nova Scotia to receive the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free. Please help us continue this coverage by subscribing.

Nova Scotia is expanding its vaccination efforts with plans to open a series of clinics across the province. The first clinic, a prototype or pilot project, is limited to people over 80, with appointments available by invitation only.

But, Tim Bousquet reports, “a kink has presented itself.”

He writes:

A “bit of a flurry” arose on the private Crichton Park neighbourhood Facebook page yesterday, a reader tells the Examiner. “Someone googling ‘NS vaccine’ info found the registration portal for the over-80 invitation-only vaccination clinic at the IWK. He signed up his elders, posted the link on facebook and others followed suit, no surprise.”

“I looked, and indeed, the registration portal did not reference the invitation-only aspect and was open to anyone to use,” the reader explained.

Read the full story, with the province’s response, here. 

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3. Killing SARS-COV-2 with light?

UV light array
UV light array. Photo: Sterilight LLC.

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free. Please help us continue this coverage by subscribing.

Could UV light play a role in stopping the spread of COVID-19?

No, not (as Donald Trump famously put it) by “hit[ting] the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light… supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way,” — but by using ultraviolet light to kill airborne particles.

Yvette d’Entremont reports on a research project aimed at determining whether  UV lighting could be used in long-term care facilities and beyond, as a COVID-19- fighting strategy.

d’Entremont spoke to Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, a physician and Dalhousie University professor who is leading the study. She writes:

Rockwood said one of the challenges faced by nursing homes is that many residents are living with moderate to severe dementia. They can’t be expected to regularly and properly participate in the measures known to decrease risk, like washing their hands, maintaining social distancing, or keeping a mask on their face…

There are different kinds of UV light, and some types can cause eye and skin problems. Rockwell’s team is focusing on a type of light that should still be able to kill the virus, without damaging people nearby.

From the story:

…Research found the 222 nm UV light was just as effective at killing antibiotic resistant bacteria as conventional 254 nm germicidal UV lamps without those negative side effects…

Rockwell said much of the data on far-UVC lighting for disinfection has come from the U.S. Although exposure to this kind of UV lighting is considered safe for eyes and skin, they still must evaluate it on a long-term care population to be absolutely certain.

“There are only theoretical risks. They haven’t been shown to be the case in other applications where it’s been used, but we realize it hasn’t been used in frail older adults, and how their skin might react is not clear,” he said.

“It should work well. That being said, you can’t go by an assumption. We have to test it, so a big part of the trial is the safety arm.”

Northwood and Windsor Elms Village are both participating in the study.

Much has been written about the potential for COVID-19 to make lasting changes to our built environment, and more widespread use of UV lighting may be one of these changes.

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4. Latest COVID-19 update for Nova Scotia

Stylized painting of coronaviruses
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 yesterday; of those, one is related to travel and two are under investigation, Tim Bousquet reports. In addition, yesterday evening, the province announced a case at Beaver Bank-Monarch Drive Elementary.

I am grateful to live in a place where the seven-day rolling average is under 10 cases a day so much of the time.

The province also issued the following possible COVID-19 exposure advisories:

Out of an abundance of caution and given the current testing capacity available, anyone who worked at or visited the following locations on the specified dates and times should immediately visit to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you are required to self-isolate while you wait for your test result. If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 you do not need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result.

Walmart New Minas (9097 Commercial St, New Minas) on Feb. 10 between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Feb. 24.

MIDAS New Minas (9154 Commercial St, New Minas) on Feb. 10 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Feb. 24.

Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following locations on the named dates and times are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. If you get a negative result, you do not need to keep self-isolating. If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.

Burger King (9148 Commercial St, New Minas) on Feb. 10 between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Feb. 24.

Walmart New Minas (9097 Commercial St, New Minas) on Feb. 3 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Feb. 17. **UPDATE:** Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at this location on the named date and time are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. If you get a negative result, you do not need to keep self-isolating. If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.

Meanwhile, Halifax Regional Police said in a release that two area restaurants got $7,500 fines for flouting the Health Protection Act. (“Flouting” is one of those words we mostly use in journalism, but I think we should start using it more in our daily lives. Good word.)

From the release:

On February 13 at approximately 8 p.m. police investigated a report that a Halifax restaurant was not following provincial regulations. Officers attended and found that the restaurant was not following regulations related to the wearing of masks….

On February 13 at approximately 10 p.m. police investigated a report that a Halifax restaurant was not following provincial regulations. Officers attended and found that the restaurant was not following regulations related to the serving of patrons and the wearing of masks.

Bafflingly — to me, anyway — the police failed to name the restaurants. I’d think it was in the public interest to name them. I mean, if I were to walk into a place and see it was too crowded or people weren’t wearing masks I would leave immediately, but it would be great to avoid going at all.

Since the Hellas Family Restaurant in Sackville have made their position on the health protection orders abundantly clear (they don’t like them), I went over to their Facebook page to see if there was anything there about them being fined or objecting to a fine. But their most recent post was from January 30… touting cryptocurrency markets.

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5. Mo Kenney

Mo Kenney. Photo: Matt Williams

Episode #18 of The Tideline, with Tara Thorne is published. Mo Kenney’s new record Covers is a perfect winter companion — songs from across the rock spectrum that she’s pared down to piano or guitar and turned them into sad ballads. She joins Tara to talk about choosing and arranging them, and opens up for a frank discussion of the alcohol dependency it took a pandemic for her to confront. Plus: Movies are back (again). This episode is available today only for premium subscribers; to become a premium subscriber, click here, and join the select group of arts and entertainment supporters for just $5/month. Everyone else will have to wait until tomorrow to listen to it. You can subscribe to The Tideline here.

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6. Code of Silence

Premier Stephen McNeil at the Feb. 5 COVID briefing. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

The Canadian Association of Journalists has given Quebec’s Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks the 2020 Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy in the provincial category.

A news release from the CAJ says “the provincial ministry is being recognized for its unwillingness to share lab data with scientists at Environment Canada related to four mysterious fish kills that took place during the summer of 2019. At the time, dead fish showed up in the Ottawa River, with the source believed to be the Lièvre River, east of Ottawa and Gatineau”.

“Obstructing the free flow of information between different levels of government to address a critical environmental issue is disgraceful behaviour,” said Peter Jacobsen, chair of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Canadian Issues Committee.

Ultimately, Environment Canada was forced to file access to information requests to get the scientific data from Quebec. Quebec told the Ottawa Citizen newspaper that it only asked for formal access requests “where appropriate,” but gave no further explanation.

The CAJ says the intent of the Code of Silence awards is to call public attention to government or publicly funded agencies that work hard to hide information to which the public has a right under access to information legislation.

The McNeil government is a likely candidate for next year’s Code of Silence award. A judge has ordered the province to tell taxpayers how much it is paying Bay Ferries to operate the Yarmouth ferry under a 10-year agreement that is subject to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) Act. The annual fee is paid whether the boat operates or not, and the government chose not to disclose the fee despite a request from the Progressive Conservative caucus four years ago and a subsequent recommendation from the previous Information and Privacy Commissioner.

The Nova Scotia government and Bay Ferries have 30 days to choose whether to appeal. Cabinet meetings attended by ministers and the premier to discuss government business used to be held weekly. That changed to every two weeks last summer. The last meeting of the McNeil cabinet was on February 4 — two days before the Liberals chose Iain Rankin as their new leader. Yesterday afternoon the government announced there would be no cabinet meeting today. No explanation was provided. But it’s almost certainly because the current team will soon be replaced by different players. Premier-designate Iain Rankin will be sworn in February 23, next Tuesday, so perhaps there will be a meeting late next week. Or not.

This inter regnum offers a convenient excuse for the outgoing premier and ministers not to have to deal with difficult or embarrassing questions about issues that matter to people. Why are volunteer firefighters not equipped with sufficient PPE to respond to medical emergencies in their own communities when there aren’t enough paramedics available? It took 80 minutes for an ambulance to arrive in Bass River this weekend after 46-year-old April George experienced a heart attack, which proved fatal. Other examples are being discussed on social media. Despite fire departments being equipped with defibrillators, 911 does not contact first responders during medical emergencies because of a Public Health directive which has restricted firefighters to attending fires and car accidents due to COVID concerns about spreading infection.

That guidance from Public Health now appears to be under review. More paramedics will soon graduate yet there are also questions about why paramedics are sitting for hours waiting to offload patients at overflowing Emergency departments in Metro. Or why for more than a year the Emergency departments at two hospitals along the Eastern Shore (Twin Oaks and Musquodoboit Valley) can’t find enough staff to stay open. All at a time when there are no outbreaks of flu or COVID-19, fingers crossed.

The McNeil government has not released a 2019 consultant’s report by Fitch and Associates that assessed the province’s Emergency Health Service.

Waiting another week (or more) for answers on this file or the Yarmouth ferry or citizen requests to stop clearcutting probably doesn’t matter as much as a change in tone. The Code of Silence is not a prize any government wants to win.

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7. Slow streets equals…racism?

Pylons on the road with an upside-down "slow streets" sign
Very effective North End “slow streets” signage. Photo: Philip Moscovitch

I often read the letters in the Saltwire publications for their entertainment value. Often it’s like taking a trip back in time. Sometimes they are mundane and charming — someone expressing their appreciation for a provincial park, or noting the particular pleasure of walking to the end of the driveway to pick up the paper every day. (The PEI Guardian is especially good for these.) Then there are all the cranky shakes-fist-at-cloud letters, and the often retrograde political opinions.

This morning I noticed one that picks up where former district 13 councillor Matt Whitman left off — railing against the local traffic signage that went up in a largely failed attempt to reduce and slow down traffic in residential areas.

Peter Lavell of Halifax objects to the city’s seeking federal funds to maintain the slow streets initiative.

In the initial article, Nicole Munro writes:

The initiative is looking to support projects that help communities create safe and vibrant public spaces, improve mobility options and provide digital solutions to help connect people and improve health.

Well, we can’t have that. Lavell writes:

It is becoming quite clear that a lot of the “new urbanists,” gentrifiers and city staff and councillors do not understand the difference between a neighbourhood and a gated community…

Do not even imply that anyone is not welcome to use any street in Halifax. That is a gateway to class bias and racism.

I mean, it is true that there was criticism of this slower streets initiative earlier in the pandemic, in that the number of slow streets seemed to fall disproportionately in higher-income communities.

But let’s face it — gated communities? Cars started knocking over those orange slow streets barrels almost as soon as they went up. I know people who saw drivers get out of their cars and move them off to the side of the road, then carry on their way. And then there’s the argument that we all pay taxes, so we should all have access to all the roads (which we do). Funnily enough, I rarely hear this argument when it comes to the notion that, say anyone should be able to stay in a city park overnight, or that transit and museums should be free.

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1. Molly Ivins on Rush Limbaugh

Headshot of a smiling woman with her chin resting on her fist.
Molly Ivins. Photo: Wikimedia commons

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh died at 70. It’s no understatement to say he transformed the political landscape in the US and revolutionized talk radio. I first heard of Rush back in the late 80s, when a friend who had moved to Arizona became enamored of his show, and wrote me (yes, we wrote letters) about how refreshing it was to listen to him, and how he told it like it is, attacking journalists, feminists, and homeless people. Uh…OK.

I always found it interesting that Rush fans who considered themselves free thinkers also referred to themselves as dittoheads.

There was a time when I listened to a lot of American rightwing talk radio, back when it seemed like a niche aberration and before it took over the culture. I remember listening to these guys who had shows with vast audiences railing about being silenced and the oppression of conservatives and so on.

There was a lot of back-and-forth on social media yesterday about appropriate reaction’s to Limbaugh’s death, but I think the best piece about him is over 25 years old. It was published in Mother Jones, and written by the late, great Molly Ivins.

She writes:

I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn’t actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.

Ivins was no stranger to the biting comment or sarcastic remark. She was the epitome of the shit-disturbing writer and funny as hell too. Rush Limbaugh and his followers would often claim some of his more outrageous statements were jokes, and people complaining just didn’t get it. Ivins has no time for that:

The kind of humor Limbaugh uses troubles me deeply, because I have spent much of my professional life making fun of politicians. I believe it is a great American tradition and should be encouraged. We should all laugh more at our elected officials—it’s good for us and good for them. So what right do I have to object because Limbaugh makes fun of different pols than I do?

I object because he consistently targets dead people, little girls, and the homeless—none of whom are in a particularly good position to answer back. Satire is a weapon, and it can be quite cruel. It has historically been the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful. When you use satire against powerless people, as Limbaugh does, it is not only cruel, it’s profoundly vulgar.

And then she offers up this, which really was ahead of its time:

A large segment of Limbaugh’s audience consists of white males, 18 to 34 years old, without college education. Basically, a guy I know and grew up with named Bubba.

Bubba listens to Limbaugh because Limbaugh gives him someone to blame for the fact that Bubba is getting screwed. He’s working harder, getting paid less in constant dollars and falling further and further behind. Not only is Bubba never gonna be able to buy a house, he can barely afford a trailer. Hell, he can barely afford the payments on the pickup.

And because Bubba understands he’s being shafted, even if he doesn’t know why or how or by whom, he listens to Limbaugh. Limbaugh offers him scapegoats. It’s the “feminazis.” It’s the minorities. It’s the limousine liberals. It’s all these people with all these wacky social programs to help some silly, self-proclaimed bunch of victims. Bubba feels like a victim himself—and he is—but he never got any sympathy from liberals.

The whole thing is worth a read.

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2. Reading outside our comfort zone

Man speaking, holding up a fist.
Robert Greene, from a YouTube video called “Robert Greene on 50 Cent, Fearlessness, and You.”

Last year, my friend Jay and I started our podcast, Dog-eared and Cracked, with a simple conceit: each of us would recommend a book to the other. We’d read the books, then discuss one in each episode.

Early on, I found myself picking old favourites, in part to share my enthusiasm for them, and in part to see if they held up for me. We’ve read contemporary fiction, classics, and a pretty wide array of non-fiction.

For our most recent episode, Jay recommended the book The 50th Law, by Robert Greene and 50 Cent.

I don’t think it will spoil the episode to tell you I absolutely abhorred this book. Definitely a candidate for one of the worst books I’ve ever read. But hey — I’ve subjected Jay to a few he considers stinkers too.

I’m telling you all this not just to plug my podcast (but hey — listen to my podcast), but also because there is a real pleasure in reading recommendations. I find that by far the most fun, surprising, entertaining (and yes, even maddening) reads come from titles others have recommended to me. In the age of “if you liked this, you might like this other thing,” I really appreciate being subjected to, er, having recommended to me, books that I might otherwise have never picked up.

Feel free to drop your reading recommendations in the comments.

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Man at a desk holding a sheet of illustrated instructions.
Wonder’neath Open Studio artist/facilitator Eric Diolola preparing art kits. Note the illustrated instruction sheets. Photo contributed.

For years, people would drop off file folders and binders as donations to the Wonder’neath art studio, then located on Isleville.

“We try to say yes to donations because it is a way to build relationships. I am telling you, in the five years we were open at our Isleville location, people dropped off binders and used file folders so many times, and we would be like, ‘Oh God, what are we going to do with this?’” mixed-media artist and Wonder’neath co-founder Melissa Marr said in an interview.

Then came the pandemic. And all of a sudden those piles of file folders found a use.

I first heard about Wonder’neath several years ago, when I was writing a story on the craft scene in Halifax for American Craft magazine. The place was something of a magnet, with both professional artist studios and open studio events, where people could drop in and work on whatever project they wanted. The place had a great vibe. As I wrote at the time:

This afternoon, there are two dozen people here – many of them kids – sewing costumes and pillows, painting, handbuilding.

[Wonder’neath co-founder Heather] Wilkinson says it’s all about building relationships between professional artists and members of the broader community. “It’s kind of a delicate ecology that we manage. With spaces like this, we’re building up a level of support in the community for the work that we’re doing,” she says, before trailing off to go thread a bobbin.

Over the last five years, open studio has attracted 17,000 people. But last March, when pandemic restrictions were announced, it became clear those open studio days were not going to be able to continue.

Smiling woman in a blue hoodie
Wonder’neath co-founder Melissa Marr. Photo:

Marr said, “When March 13 hit, we recognized our population was particularly vulnerable. Lots of older folks, folks with health concerns, people in precarious housing. We realized we couldn’t open, and that our style – a grand buffet of arts supplies – would make us ground zero for this disease. We recognized that some  people take multiple buses to get here, and if they hadn’t seen on social media that we would be shut, they would come to the door and they would be hurt. So, we thought, what can we do to give them something, some materials? And that’s how the kits evolved.”

“The kits” are the art kits Wonder’neath started putting together for people to take home. Some are handed out directly to people who come and line up outside the studio — which moved from Isleville to Maynard Street last year — and some are picked up and distributed by other organizations, like the Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre, Veith House, and the Mulgrave Park Caring & Learning Centre.

Wonder’neath makes about 200 of the kits available every week, and last week, when I spoke to Marr, she said they were about to hit 7,500 total kits.

Marr said the Wonder’neath staff have “years of experience designing for classrooms with no budgets… We have skills like ‘how do these four weird materials come together and make something meaningful?’”

People lined up outside a building with "Free Art Kits" in the window.
Lineup for art kits at Wonder’neath. Photo contributed.

But there is a lot of thought that goes into the kits. Marr said they need to have clear instructions, be relatively foolproof, and that anybody should be able to follow the instructions and achieve success — an important confidence-builder for children and families. They are also open-ended enough that people can take them and improvise. There have been kits to make pop-up cards, and hand-stamped gift wrap, a flower-pressing kit, a mix-and-match drawing game, and mini fresco murals, and a lot more.

Last week’s kit theme was mini-golf. “Cardboard, felt, little bamboo sticks…. We put in a few materials so people could create obstacles in their mini-golf, like corks,” she said. And we put in whatever connectors we’re asking folks to use. We’ve figured out ways to send that out — like when folks need tape, we cut pieces of tape and wrap them around the pencil in the kit so everyone has the right kind of durable tape.”

But one of her favourites, Marr said, was the mini shadow theatre kit.

That’s where the file folders came in.

Art kit with blue frame and shadow puppets
The Wonder’neath shadow puppet theatre art kit. Photo contributed.

“The file folders became just the right thing,” Marr said. “We put in lots of work on our end to make it really easy for people to put together on their kitchen tables. And when you can do something sophisticated and artistic from something so pedestrian, that’s special. It was really beautiful. People were going to make something not too tricky but it provided hours of play and creativity. We heard about people putting on these mini-theatre shadow shows for people living with them, and we heard all these stories of kids doing shadow theatre over Zoom for relatives. Stuff like that is really powerful.”

While the kits have been a way for Wonder’neath to keep serving the public during the pandemic, Marr said the studio looks forward to being able to welcome people again, hopefully in April, with safety measures in place.

In a rapidly changing neighbourhood, Marr said Wonder’neath has a 10-year lease. She said, “People are tired of everything becoming super-bougie, so I think having spaces that show some kind of alternative is important. And I’m not naive when I say that; I understand art is a world that can be really elite, but there needs to be space for people to express themselves. We need to have some of the skills to problem-solve in our bigger world, and some of that starts in spaces that are for dabbling and playing… I think it’s important to have places where people can come together when it’s safe to do that.”

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Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am) — live broadcast of audio and PowerPoint presentations

Board of Police Commissioners (Thursday, 12pm) — live webcast


Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am) — contingency date if needed


No public meetings.

On campus



Blockchain, Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency (Thursday, 11am) — Zoom webinar; from the listing:

In this live 30 minute, information-packed event featuring renowned blockchain and cryptocurrency expert instructor George Levy, you will have the opportunity to learn about the many opportunities currently available with blockchain technology, and why it is considered “essential critical infrastructure” during the COVID-19 Pandemic. You will also have the chance to learn valuable information about Bitcoin, Blockchain and how you can take part in the greatest technological transformation since the World Wide Web.​

Don’t forget to write down your password.

Falling Through the Cracks: LongTerm Care and COVID19 (Thursday, 1pm) — Facebook live stream event; panel includes Pauline Dakin, Janice Keefe, Kenneth Rockwood, and David Sabapathy.

COVID-19 has overwhelmed long-term care (LTC) facilities across the country, leaving Canadian’s shocked by the devastation. LTC facilities account for nearly 11% of COVID-19 cases in Canada and over 70% of total deaths. While the largest proportion of cases in Canada are among those 20-29, nearly 97% of deaths have been among Canadians over the age of 60.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed long-standing deficiencies and challenges in the delivery of long-term care in Canada. Many stakeholders are calling for national standards, but there are questions about the best approach. Should we amend the Canada Health Act to include LTC or develop new legislation? Long standing staffing challenges will also need to be addressed, such as equitable and permanent pay and benefits for care aides, mental health supports for all staff; and improved and required data collection. A coordinated approach between Federal and Provincial/Territorial Governments will be necessary.​


Stephanie Fearon. Photo via Eventbrite

Let me tell you a story: Black women’s motherwork as educational leadership (Friday, 12pm) — captioned event with Stephanie Fearon, part of the Dalhousie Feminist Seminar Series



Live Poets! On Love (Thursday, 8pm) — virtual live readings from Ben Ladouceur, Scott Lemoine, and Bahar Orang, and an open mic featuring student work

In the harbour

Bishu Highway. Photo: Halifax Examiner

05:30: Bishu Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
15:00: Atlantic Condor, offshore supply ship, sails from Irving Oil for sea
15:30: Bishu Highway sails for sea
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 36 to Autoport
22:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 41


I honestly don’t know what to think of the prospect of a Major League Baseball season at this point, but pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring training this week. Now I’m feeling wistful.

Baseball stadium
The Phillies spring training facility at Clearwater, Florida. Photo: Philip Moscovitch

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Philip Moscovitch is a freelance writer, audio producer, fiction writer, and editor of Write Magazine.

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  1. I know nothing about polygraphs but it seems to me an awful lot of money.
    But for the body cam thing, virtually every police service in North America has studied them to death. Halifax does not need to hire a specialist. Just make a few phone calls and ask about how they are working out.
    My sense is that HR Police see their public oversight as a nuisance to be bamboozled. They need to be told to reduce not increase. If they want unnecessary frills like a body cam consultant, they need to pick something else they won’t do to fund it.

    1. A body cam would have been useful in the Dingle case and the young man ticketed for jaywalking on Gottingen street. Private video evidence showing an officer shooting a man in a fast food parking lot in America, and video evidence of a police officer pushing a 70 year old man to the ground were deemed sufficient to cause public outrage. I don’t understand how private video evidence is deemed to be trustworthy but police bodycams are deemed to be beyond the pale.

  2. In mid-winter thoughts of spring mean baseball. Thanks for the photo although I think it is actually from the Phillies “Spring Training Ballpark” in Clearwater. Apparently that is the official name this year – the naming rights must have expired. Haha.

    1. You are absolutely right. We did go to a game in Clearwater, and as I was adding the photo and looking at the caption, I thought that doesn’t look like TD Park in Dunedin. But then I forgot to fix it. Will correct.

  3. Re. Polygraph tests. They may be be established as junk science ruled inadmissible in court but are still allowed as a police investigative tool. Remember the police are within their rights to lie to persons of interest if they believe that will help their investigation. If we lie to them that will be used against us in court. Claiming the polygraph scientifically “proved” a suspect lied and thus committed a crime is in keeping with that. These devices and their “trained” operators are also allowed to be used in some employment vetting as well.

    1. If you watch the video of the meeting you can clearly see the reaction of RCMP Chief Superintendent Janice Gray (officer in charge of the Halifax detachment) to opinions re use of polygraph. More importantly she points out that Nova Scotia has no policing standards. See video at 2:03:53
      If Mayor Savage was a member of the BOPC he would be able to ask questions about the RCMP budget instead of complaining about not understanding why the RCMP budget has increased by 22% See at 2:05:47

    2. The problem with the police (or anyone) using unreliable tools such as polygraphs is that it too often leads them to follow false scents.

      1. Please expand on what you know about polygraph usage. The RCMP and HRP use them and no doubt are reluctant to disclose why and how they use them as part of an assortment of investigative tools. They know the pros and cons of a polygraph. Police, and journalists, follow ‘false scents’ every day.

        1. This is exactly the paradigm that got us into this mess: ‘trust the police, they know what they’re doing and have good intentions’. I think a lot of us are done with that.

  4. I agree with Just a Guy, but your right click suggestion is excellent. I will use it everywhere now!

    1. I forget where I learned it, but I’ve been doing it for years. You can go down any number of rabbit holes, and not lose the original one.

  5. When you in bed a link in an article it would be better I think from The Examiner`s perspective to have that link open in a new tab not replacing The Examiner in the tab.
    Just a thought.

    1. Yes, that was a big discussion here in the office when Tim set up the new linking system. The consensus was that the majority of readers prefer that it opens in the same tab, and they rely on the “back” arrow to return them to their original spot. Many find multiple tabs confusing.
      On any site I always automatically right-click on links, and choose “Open in a new tab.”

      1. Another option :-), to not lose readers 1) if the link is internal, open in same tab 2) if the link is external, open in new tab.

    2. It appears that most young people prefer that the link open in the same tab, whereas older people want a new tab.

      1. So much ageism 🙂 Hey old people you might be able to open in a new tab by right clicking the link and selecting “Open in a New tab”.

  6. So, “defund the police” turns into “re-fund the police”…and our cozy, do-the-right thing, liberal world keeps turning. If it is not our fault, it is certainly our misfortune.

    1. So, we can’t agree on a definition on “defund-police” but we are expected to see a reduced budget? One dimensional logic!

    2. I think the problem is that “defund” means everything from shift money into more social welfare/mental health/crisis intervention support to get rid of the police. I’d be happy with an increased police budget if more of it went to supporting those initiatives above.

      I think the onus is on defund the police proponents to clearly state what they mean. And lets get some feedback from some POC and other marginalized people on how they feel about this instead of just activists and white liberals.

  7. Yesterday was one of those days where I wish Natalie Borden had remained chair of the Board of Police Commissioners. She knew how to present the police budget to council and knew to remind council that they cannot pick and choose what to fund and what not to fund in the HRP budget. She always kept order at meetings.
    The discussion yesterday descended into farce because new councillors wanted to put certain items in ‘the parking lot’, aka for future consideration. At the first mention of ‘the parking lot’ Councillor Lindell Smith,chair of the BOPC, should have pointed out that the responsibility of the council is to approve an amount. He did not. Nor did Mayor Savage. Nor did Councillor Waye Mason, a former member of the BOPC, and nor did the Clerk – he may have the excuse that he is new to HRM.
    After the lunch break it was obvious the ‘parking lot’ had been discussed privately because at the restart council was told that the HRP budget is treated in the manner set out in the Police Act and the by-law governing the BOPC. The issue of usage of a polygraph machine was subject to the expertise of councillors Austin,Mason and Cleary. I have no opinion on the use of a polygraph other than to say there is plenty of literature to show it has some value as one of the many tools used by police departments.
    Since Mayor Savage became Mayor of HRM in November 2012 he has never attended any of the 114 meetings of the Board of Police Commissioners. He did not attend the the February 26 2018 meeting when an RCMP officer gave a presentation on the subject of ‘Human Trafficking’ which included the trafficking of young girls :