In the harbour
1. 11% of forestry harvest went to biomass
Reporter Jennifer Henderson takes a look at how the harvesting of biomass — mostly to generate electricity — is affecting our forests.
Click here to read “Eleven per cent of Nova Scotia’s forestry harvest went to biomass.” (Note: We migrated the Examiner website to a new server over the weekend; I don’t yet know if it’s related or not, but some subscribers are now having difficulty logging in. I’m working to fix the problem as fast as I can.)
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
2. Examineradio, episode #57
This week, we welcome Darren Fisher, newly-minted Member of Parliament for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. We talk about the disparity between the economic platforms of the federal and provincial Liberal governments, the difference between serving as a city councillor versus an MP, and his newly-introduced private members bill regarding mercury containment.
Subsequently, Tim tries to cop some dope.
Also this week, Halifax’s newspaper of record
totally shit the bed exercised questionable journalistic judgement in publishing an undersourced story about alleged bullying at a local elementary school. At least these parents and their kids have freedom fighter Ezra Levant in their corner. Lucky, lucky parents.
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(Subscribe via iTunes)
3. Chronicle Herald
In response to the despicable article attacking refugee children, Chronicle Herald columnist Lezlie Lowe has quit writing for the paper.
Lowe was singled out for criticism for continuing to write her column after the Halifax Typographical Union went on strike. She deals with those criticisms here. I appreciate that she had been in a difficult position, and perhaps additionally so as her husband had to for a while leave the province in search of work in the film industry. But I wish she had used her column to discuss those issues. Still, I haven’t heard the same level of criticism directed at other Chronicle Herald columnists, such as Gail Lethbridge and Ralph Surrette (who’d I also like to see write about these issues).
Meanwhile, Kelly Toughill, the director of the King’s College Journalism School, brings new information via an article she wrote for The Walrus:
The latest is a story that accused Syrian refugee children of bullying Nova Scotia students at a local elementary school. It was based on conversations with three families, but there was no evidence that the reporter talked to anyone at the school to confirm the story. Nor was it clear why it was relevant that the alleged bullies were Syrian, or exactly why a schoolyard bullying episode was news at all. Nevertheless, the story was picked up by outlets like JihadWatch and MadWorldNews as an example of the Muslim menace.
But this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill error. It was such a biggie, such a flouting of the basic journalism practices of fairness and verification that a related company went to extraordinary lengths to distance itself from the mistake.
Ed Brouwer is managing director of Pagemasters North America, the Toronto-based outfit that copyedits Canadian titles such as the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. I ask him about the rumor that Pagemasters was under contract to the Herald and had edited the Syrian bullying story.
“We didn’t touch it, had nothing to do with it and actually got it in writing from Halifax so that everyone is aware that it was not us,” he says. “We got it from the editor in Halifax because we wanted to make sure everyone was clear that in fact none of that material actually touched Pagemaster.”
Here’s a semi-informed guess: I think the pseudonymous source “Missy” called the Chronicle Herald late in the day on Friday — I’m told she called other media outlets the same day, and they wouldn’t touch it — and (I’m guessing) the local editors had a news hole to fill for the next day’s paper. It’s weird that the story ran on page A5 in the Saturday edition of the dead tree, with no photos. It certainly feels like a last-minute bad decision.
And, as Chris Parsons points out:
I suspect something else happened:
Inexperienced reporter writes up a bad story that an inexperienced editor edits and okays to fill space last minutes but then when it hits the website someone on the web team (no idea who is running it during the strike but I suspect that they likely have more internet experience than editing experience) got excited (particularly as they started seeing Facebook shares and clicks) and bumped it to the top of the website and started pushing it on Twitter and Facebook.
Meanwhile, Saturday, a week after the Chronicle Herald article appeared, the Syrian refugee community held a celebration at the St. Andrew’s Community Centre. Reports Rachel Ward for the CBC:
Mohammed Harb, a father of seven children, said he felt moved to organize the event to thank Canadians who’ve helped Syrians make their homes in Halifax.
“This is nothing for them because only we just say thank you for them,” Harb said through a friend who translated.
“They open their arms for them, for us.”
4. Dalhousie and Anonymous
“Anonymous, a global hacktivist group, attacked websites associated with Halifax’s Dalhousie University in retaliation for claimed inaction by the school and local police over an alleged frat-house rape,” reports Adrian Humphreys for the National Post:
As the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks were launched last week and over the weekend, members of a Halifax-based cell of Anonymous released a video statement again naming the alleged attacker and suggesting his family’s influence within Halifax may be the reason charges have not been laid.
As of this writing, the Dalhousie University website is working, but the student newspaper’s website, DalGazette.com, is down. “It was very odd. I never thought I’d wake up and be dealing with Anonymous,” the paper’s editor, Sabina Wex, told the Post. It’s unclear why Anonymous, which says it is upset with the University administration and the Halifax police, would have a beef with the student paper.
The Phi Kappa Pi fraternity’s website also appears to be the object of a DDoS attack.
Police were called to the fraternity house, at 1770 Robie Street, in the early hours of November 1, 2015, “to assist a citizen who disclosed she had been sexually assaulted earlier that night,” police spokesperson Dianne Woodworth told The Coast. “We’ve determined that the reported sexual assault took place at an address in the 1700 block of Robie Street”:
Police had ended any investigation into the Halloween-night sexual assault, stating the woman involved had declined to proceed. Comments under the Anonymous video appear to have prompted HRP to once more reach out to the victim and reopen the case.
The first Anonymous video related to the alleged rape and police response was taken down from YouTube and Facebook within hours. But the most recent video — which Anonymous says it has released to protest lack of police action — has been up since Friday and was still live at 8am Monday morning. In the video, Anonymous names the alleged rapist, shows photos of the man and his family, and names the family business.
I have no knowledge of or opinion about the alleged rape and the subsequent police investigation. But the family of the alleged rapist is hardly what I’d characterize as “connected,” as Anonymous charges. The family business is relatively small, and I’ve never seen or heard of family members being in or having influence over the corridors of power, at least the corridors of power that I regularly report on. They aren’t members of the Chamber of Commerce, don’t contribute to political campaigns, aren’t seen at City Hall.
5. Privatization of registries
It increasingly looks like the McNeil government will announce this week that it is privatizing the operation of the Service Nova Scotia registries. As I’ve commented before:
This is horrible policy, an attack on good-paying jobs, the Liberals playing lick-spittle for corporations, and an affront to democracy.
Public information should be public. Providing that information is one of the primary jobs of government. It is the basis for commerce, for education, for research, for journalism, for voters. It’s as important as roads, or the fire department.
But besides that, the privatization is the result of the worst kind of insider cronyism and backroom deal-making. Recall that Premier Stephen McNeil’s chief of staff is Kristan Hines, who is married to Chris MacInnes, who not only managed McNeil’s 2013 election campaign but is also a vice president of m5 Communications and registered as a lobbyist — to lobby the the McNeil government for Teranet, an Ontario firm that wants to take over operation of the Service Nova Scotia registries.
Again, I don’t know how anyone can look at this situation and say with a straight face there’s no conflict of interest. The lobbyist who managed the premier’s election campaign is also literally sleeping with the chief of staff for the premier, and the premier has decided to invoke policy that the lobbyist wants.
Nova Scotia has a Conflict of Interest Commissioner. He’s Merlin Nunn, a former Supreme Court judge and cousin of Jim Nunn, the retired CBC broadcaster. Merlin Nunn has been the Conflict of Interest Commissioner since 1997, and so far as can be determined, in the 19 years he has held the position, Nunn has never ruled that there has been a conflict of interest.
We’re a squeaky clean province, see.
1. Cranky letter of the day
There is a lot of talk about when it comes to Chase the Ace. Thousands of people line up at the mall on Saturdays. Some bring their own chairs and wait more than four hours to buy a ticket. Parking lots are full around the Sydney area venues selling tickets.
Of course Chase the Ace sales locations are busier during the draw but its popularity seems to negatively affect most other shops, restaurants and even the farmers market.
Cape Bretoners are proud to support their organizations. There are a lot of churches and community groups that rely on donations and local support. Food banks try hard to get money and food. There are so many volunteers involved working to find ways to raise money.
As a volunteer involved in a couple of fundraisers it seems to me Chase the Ace raises a lot of money for one or two organizations but it does negatively affect the smaller community fundraisers. I’ve also heard from some businesses and restaurants that Chase the Ace negatively affects them as well.
The Ashby draw is cancelled today. Therefore some small fundraisers scheduled for this weekend can go forward. Although, the East Coast Music Week is on this weekend so who knows?
But what will happen on April 23? The $2 million Chase the Ace draw means some of the other events will have to be rescheduled because few people will show up. Is this a good thing?
Last week Chase the Ace ticket sales totaled $877,000 in just four hours. Wow, can you imagine what just one per cent of that amount ($8,770) could do for a food bank?
Another aspect is the money that would normally go to other fundraisers helps just one or two organizations. Is there enough left over to support other groups? How can other organizations or groups deal with that? Honestly, I have no idea.
We have our major annual fundraiser going on in the autumn involving more than 50 volunteers. Any ideas what we should do to compete with Chase the Ace? Maybe we all may need to reconsider the way it operates.
Is there a win-win solution for both the Chase the Ace fundraisers and the other fundraisers? How can these different fundraisers co-exist?
Here are a few suggestions:
• Cut the week in half. Chase the Ace organizers might use Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Other other fundraisers could be on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
• Shut the Chase the Ace draw down when it reaches $50,000.
• Make the Chase the Ace an online ticket sale and online draw, allowing people to attend the small fundraisers and support all the groups that need money.
• People could put the ‘ticket money’ in an envelope and send it directly to the organization.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not against gambling and Chase the Ace but I think it’s important to question the current situation and find some kind of solution which would work for all the groups. They all need your support. They are all doing a great job. This is the way Cape Breton works. We should be proud of it.
Bridget Benz, French Road
The Government and On Campus sections are compiled by Kathleen Munro.
Board of Police Commissioners (12:30pm, Halifax Hall, City Hall)
Construction Mitigation (12pm, Exhibition Room, Ralph M. Medjuck Building, Dalhousie) — The city is looking for your input. The municipality will be discussing ideas to reduce the impact construction activity has had on businesses and residents.
Traffic Management at Armdale Rotary (5pm, Captain William Spry Community Centre) — In a similar fashion, this meeting is intended to encourage discussion between residents and municipal staff about managing the traffic of the ever-congested Armdale rotary.
Advisory Committee for Accessibility in HRM (4pm, Halifax Hall, City Hall) — The committee will address the Municipal and School Board Elections draft plan to improve accessibility for voters. The plan outlines four areas of improvement: independent voting, communication, equitable hiring practices and physical accessibility.
No public meetings.
Concussion: public screening of film & expert led panel discussion on sports and head injuries (7pm, Halifax Infirmary) — The title says it all. Novel Tech Ethics will be screening the popular Will Smith movie in order to engage viewers in an important discussion about the prevalence of brain injury in sport.
We now have “World Class Wind“:
In the harbour
11am: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
4pm: BBC Mont Blanc, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 30 from Masan, South Korea; the ship’s gyro compass is out of order
9pm: Atlantic Compass, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
10pm: Yantian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Cagliari, Italy
We’ve moved the publication day of Erica Butler’s transportation column from Mondays to Tuesdays.
Must be an election year. No privatisation of the registries – another example of the McNeil regime backing away from anything controversial.
I see Ezra Levant’s crew managed to find Missy no problem, and in spite of their inevitable spin on the story I think Missy’s main complaint is her kid is being bullied and the school is doing nothing about it because it seems to lacks resources. And also, the school officials claim to have had not complaints, but then said it met with some parents about their concerns.
I’m not sure why so many people are making a classist assumption that Missy is some kind of hateful redneck — she claims to have worked to welcome refugees, which could be checked out easily– rather than just a parent concerned about her kid. It seems to point to the school not having the resources to deal with a challenge of helping to integrate newcomers. One challenge (according to Missy) is supposedly a shortage of interpreters, which would not surprise me in Halifax and again wouldn’t be too hard to check out. Halifax isn’t Toronto or Windsor.
It is a shame that the original story was so badly botched,because there may well be a story here of lack of resources at this school and yes, possibly even the school authorities trying to hide something. I am wondering about what resources are being given schools in this position across Canada, not just this one. Are they getting special help and funding; what resources are being made available to them? I read a lot about challenges in finding the right housing and getting refugees out of hotels, but nothing about the challenges facing schools or resources directed there.
It is also a shame that the media approach to this story is, on one side, “nothing to see here folks!” because the original story was botched so badly, and perhaps because they don’t want to believe it isn’t all sunny ways in helping newcomers adjust. On the other, Levant and his crew are using it to advance an anti-immigrant agenda. It would be nice if this was just approached impartially and without ideological baggage.
The mother has quite the story
Hadley deliberately avoids answering questions about behaviour of certain children.
Have any metro journalists been to the school or talked to parents or are they just telephone talkers.
I wouldn’t take anything Ezra Levant or his media associates says seriously. But don’t listen to me, listen to his lawyer: http://o.canada.com/news/ezra-levant-libel-suit-552865
An ad hominem objection I think. Sure, Ezra is nothing but ad hominem himself but the logical fallacy works both way. It is all the more reason impartial media without a preferred ideological narrative lshoul ook into it.
All of the players in the stories you have mentioned today play a role in why Nova Scotia is a case study for how a small group of people can help themselves to the spoils of other’s labour.When you have the press, politicians, universities and government appointed watchdogs all corroborating the same story and lacking back bone to challenge the status quo, democracy is a joke. A sad joke indeed.
As far as Lezlie Lowe goes, does anybody really care? It’s hard to feel sympathy for someone working for the likes of the CH management with their attitude. IF she was singled out, it was probably because people like Surrette and Lethbridge had already hit rock bottom years ago, just beating dead horses there, waste of time/already done. Bad stories, sign of the times.
I can understand why she quit. I beat the drum pretty vigorously against what I feel are poor choices for immigration policy, but it is obviously the case that the CH was just looking for click-bait on a very controversial issue. I recall thinking how surprising it was that they were doing a story on a schoolyard fight, before I even realized there was a refugee component. This alone seemed pretty unprofessional. The particular details of a child’s fight probably shouldn’t concern anyone really.
Regardless of politics, the Muslim community is obviously peaceful and well integrated in Halifax. I can understand how she would feel that it was a piece that was “out to get” a group, simply because it was such an unusual topic to have reported on in the first place. Considering that, along with a lack of professional journalism, and a declining work environment, she seems smart to use this issue while it is hot to get her name known and spring to another paper that is less in decline.
So how do we oust Merlin Nunn and find a Conflict of Interest Commissioner with some teeth? Potions? Sorcery?
Merlin Nunn is without a doubt the very crystallization of what is wrong with Nova Scotia. Got an hour? Watch this documentary by Neal Livingstone detailing his horrifying decision on the spraying of Agent Orange in Nova Scotia.