1. Two protests
“While officials moved quickly to respond to student protests about the cancellation of high school rugby, they were quick to erect roadblocks when students wanted to protest climate change,” notes Stephen Kimber.
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“To frack, or not to frack Nova Scotia?” writes Joan Baxter:
That seems to be the question. Again.
There’s been a de facto moratorium on fracking — more specifically on “high-volume hydraulic fracturing in shale” — in the province since 2014, and oil and gas companies haven’t exactly been beating down our doors to get it lifted, demanding permission to frack the gas out of Nova Scotia.
But now, after years during which nobody seemed to be asking the F-question in the province, suddenly it is being asked again all over the place.
Last September, it was the subject of a debate in Pugwash. It was also the topic for discussion at the April 23 meeting of the province’s Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development. And it was the issue at the heart of a day-long symposium held in Springhill on Thursday, May 2, by the Cumberland Energy Authority.
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3. Andrew Paul Johnson and Kimberly McAndrew
“A dangerous offender from Halifax who is considered a suspect in several unsolved homicides related to missing women has once again been denied day parole due to the ongoing risk he poses to society,” reports the CBC. “Andrew Paul Johnson has been serving a prison sentence in British Columbia.”
The CBC doesn’t detail the local suspicions about Johnson, but Stephen Kimber did back in 2009 for The Coast:
Halifax police had been looking for Johnson, too. In 1992, he had pleaded guilty to confining and sexually assaulting his Halifax girlfriend. In 1997, he’d been caught masturbating in his car while watching girls at play in Hammonds Plains. There was a warrant for his arrest for harassing a 12-year-old Whites Lake girl while posing as a teen fashion representative. And, shortly before turning up in BC, he had disappeared from a Dartmouth sexual offender treatment program — but not before turning in a chilling assignment. Psychiatrist Joseph Gabriel asked participants in the program to write an essay about a sexual assault from the point of view of its victim.
Johnson had written his about the rape and murder of Kimberly McAndrew.
Gabriel notified the Halifax police, who quickly set up a task force to investigate. Although [former police investigator Tom] Martin — busy with several other investigations — wasn’t directly involved with that investigation, he says its members did a “phenomenal job” putting together the puzzle pieces of Johnson’s life.
Intriguingly, at the time of Kimberly’s disappearance, the telephone directory lists Johnson’s girlfriend as living in an apartment in a complex across from the Canadian Tire parking lot. “If someone had identified himself to Kim as a police officer,” Martin suggests today, “she — being the daughter of a police officer — might have gone with him.”
The task force uncovered other evidence in its investigation, too — including some which linked Johnson to other unsolved murders in Halifax.
On January 1, 1992, a 22-year-old Vancouver woman named Andrea King had arrived at the Halifax International Airport with dreams of enrolling at Dalhousie Law School…and disappeared. Her body was found nearly a year later. During their investigation of Johnson, police found Andrea’s eye shadow compact.
Police sent several pieces of evidence for DNA testing, but the science wasn’t yet sophisticated enough to give them what they needed to charge Johnson.
I detailed the McAndrew investigation in Part 4 of my Dead Wrong series, “Channelling Kimberly McAndrew,” which explained how the police bizarrely used the services of psychic Noreen Renier to investigate McAndrews’ disappearance. As I reported:
I called Renier at her Florida home to ask her about the Kimberly McAndrew case.
“Nova Scotia? Where’s that?” she asked. I explained that Nova Scotia is a province in eastern Canada, and that Halifax is the capital city. Reiner was talkative and pleasant, and as we continued our conversation, I could hear her rifling through her papers. “Oh yes,” she said, “Kimberly! Here it is! Do you want the tapes?”
Indeed I did, and a couple of weeks later three cassette tapes, the recordings of psychic Noreen Renier’s sessions with Halifax police Constable Dave MacDonald, arrived in my mailbox. I’m publishing those recordings here in their entirety because they provide an extraordinary look into a police investigation that went terribly wrong.
The psychic sessions were conducted over the telephone. The first session lasted just short of an hour, the second almost a half-hour, and the third about 45 minutes.
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“So much of this strikes me as cruel and unnecessary,” I wrote at the time:
I shared the recordings with Gary Posner, a writer for The Skeptical Inquirer magazine, which is devoted to “the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view.” Posner has long dogged Renier and criticized her work, and the recordings I shared with him are the basis of an article The Skeptical Inquirer will publish next month.
In the article, “‘Psychic Detective’ Noreen Renier: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas from a Grieving Family,” Posner writes:
In August 2015, during the course of research for a series of articles about the many long-unsolved murder cases in his city, Halifax Examiner editor Tim Bousquet obtained from Renier audio recordings of her three sessions (conducted by phone from her home in Florida) with Halifax Police Constable David MacDonald and sent them to me for comment. The opportunity for the public to hear and evaluate such a collaboration in its entirety is extremely rare…
Police reliance on psychics is of course absurd, but it remains widespread. I’m reminded of the Holly Bartlett case; I wrote in 2013:
The case is closed, but that doesn’t give closure to the people who knew Holly. At one point during the investigation, Holly’s mom spoke with detective [Kim] Robinson about the unsettling lack of facts in the seven hours between Holly leaving Dalhousie in a cab and her being found by the abutment.
Robinson had a suggestion: “Maybe you should go see a psychic.”
For a police detective to tell a grieving mother that the police investigators couldn’t help her so maybe she should see a psychic is beyond cruel.
Relatedly, I’m researching another case which I suspect was also a wrongful conviction (yes, it’s taking forever). This case took place in the 1990s, and at that time, police actually had on staff a detective who doubled as a hypnotist. A witness who wanted to be helpful couldn’t recall the details of a conversation she supposedly overheard, but after a session with the detective/hypnotist, the witness recalled the whole conversation. Partly as a result of the witness’s aided-by-hypnotism testimony, the accused was convicted and spent 14 years in prison.
Subsequently, in a 2007 case, R. v. Trochym, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that evidence obtained through hypnosis should not be used in criminal cases. From the ruling:
When the factors for evaluating the reliability of novel scientific evidence are applied, it becomes evident that the technique of hypnosis and its impact on human memory are not understood well enough for post‑hypnosis testimony to be sufficiently reliable in a court of law. Although hypnosis has been the subject of numerous studies, these studies are either inconclusive or draw attention to the fact that hypnosis can, in certain circumstances, result in the distortion of memory. The potential rate of error in the additional information obtained through hypnosis when it is used for forensic purposes is also troubling. At the present time, there is no way of knowing whether such information will be accurate or inaccurate. Such uncertainty is unacceptable in a court of law.
While the ruling put an end to hypnotizing witnesses moving forward, it did not retroactively apply to past convictions, and so did not help the unlucky subject of my investigation.
4. Another $9 million for the Yarmouth ferry
“A project kickoff and ground-breaking event took place in Yarmouth on May 3 to celebrate the start of a $9-million infrastructure project at the Yarmouth International Ferry Terminal,” reads “submitted content” in the Yarmouth Vanguard.
The “content” was a word-for-word repost of a Town of Yarmouth press release, except the Vanguard helpfully added the $9 million part, which is missing from the press release. Another page on the town website, however, details the expenditure:
Infrastructure Canada, the Province of Nova Scotia, and three municipalities are providing $9 million in joint funding towards the Phase 1 redevelopment of the Yarmouth International Ferry Terminal in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
The federal and provincial governments are each contributing up to $3 million through the Small Communities Fund (External link). The Town of Yarmouth ($1.5 Million), the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth ($1.2 Milion), and Municipality of the District of Argyle ($300K) are contributing the remainder of project funding.
Is anyone else worried that this is just “Phase 1”?
It’s hard to keep track of all the public money going into supporting the ferry. Here’s the best I can come up with:
2015: $74,496 incidental expenditures to Bay Ferries to prepare for the service
2016: $13,100,000 subsidy to Bay Ferries (35,466 passengers)
2017: $10,248,421 subsidy to Bay Ferries (38,933 passengers)
2018: $1,500,000 for upgrades to the Portland ferry terminal*
2018: $13,964,393 subsidy to Bay Ferries (50,187 passengers)
2019: $8,500,000 for upgrades to the Bar Harbor ferry terminal
2019: $9,000,000 for upgrades to the Yarmouth ferry terminal
2019: $13,800,000 subsidy to Bay Ferries (target of 60,000 passengers)
* The $1.5 million for the Portland ferry upgrades was reported here, but I can’t find the expenditure in Public Accounts documents, so I can’t say with certainty that the money was actually spent.
I may be missing something, as Jennifer Henderson reported that “2018 Estimates & Supplementary Information for the province show the government spent $23.9 million on the Yarmouth ferry last year.” There may be about $10 million missing from my chart.
But even at $70 million, we could have instead given each of the 6,518 people living in Yarmouth (as per the 2016 census) a cheque for $10,739.49. A family of four would’ve walked away with nearly $43,000, enough to send a kid to university or retrofit the house for energy efficiency or open a small business.
Instead we’re spending the money so a Charlottetown company can hire a bunch of Maine businesses to service the boat, and along the way a handful of people in Yarmouth get seasonal minimum wage jobs in the service industry.
5. All Canada Crane
“A crane company has been slapped with $53,000 in penalties for a 2017 workplace mishap near Halifax that left a man with permanent brain damage,” reports Steve Bruce for the Chronicle Herald:
All Canada Crane Rental Inc. pleaded guilty recently in Halifax provincial court to an Occupational Health and Safety Act charge of failing to ensure fall-protection equipment was used by an employee.
Judge Michael Sherar accepted a joint sentencing recommendation from Crown attorney Alex Keaveny and defence lawyer Brad Proctor.
The judge ordered the company to pay a $20,000 fine and $3,000 victim fine surcharge, and to make a $30,000 donation to the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Education Trust Fund.
All Canada Crane has closed its Nova Scotia branch in Goodwood. According to the company’s website, it is part of the largest privately owned crane rental and sales enterprise in North America, with 37 branches in the U.S. and Canada and 1,500 Employees.
Details of the incident are at the link.
6. Lamar Eason
In January, Stephen Kimber spoke with Lamar Eason, the suspended principal at Bayview Community School.
“People don’t like to talk about race, culture, bias,” Eason told Kimber, adding elliptically: “Doing your job can lead to questioning the people employing you. Understandably, people get defensive. But [race relations officers] are not there just to support schools; we’re also there to support students and their families. There can be some hard conversations.”
Eason himself still can’t discuss the specifics of the complaint against him because he’s under a “gag” order while McInnes Cooper — the Halifax-based law firm that also serves as lawyer for the school district — conducts a supposedly independent investigation of the matter.
But Eason is quick to make clear when I ask that the complaint had nothing to do with sexual harassment or any sort of gender issue. Instead, he says, it related to his work as the school district’s race relations coordinator.
But this morning, radio station CKBW reporter Brittany Wentzell, edited by CKBW news director Ed Halverson and LighthouseNow Progress Bulletin editor Charles Mandel — that is to say, a very good reporting team — report that Eason’s suspension is in fact due to “gender issues”:
An independent investigation by law firm McInnes Cooper into Bayview Community School’s principal found he bullied, harassed, and tracked a female colleague.
Lamar Eason violated the South Shore Regional Centre for Education (SSRCE)’s Respectful Workplace Policy multiple times, according to documents obtained by CKBW Radio.
We reached out to Eason for comment on this story but he did not respond. We also reached out to Deputy Education Minister Cathy Montreuil, who declined to comment.
Numerous documents obtained by CKBW, including the conclusion of an independent investigation into Eason’s behaviour, show he kept a list of Pentz Elementary School principal Rebecca Smart’s movements and spread salacious rumours about her.
According to the documents, Smart is one of several women who have filed a complaint against Eason.
The allegations in the McInnes Cooper report haven’t been proven, but they appear to involve direct allegations of complaints from women. That is, it appears Eason flat-out lied to Kimber.
7. Saving the oceans, one superyacht at a time
John Risley is having a new superyacht built, reports the Gisborne (New Zealand) Herald, which interviewed a local man, Craig Franks, who has captained Risley’s previous superyachts and is overseeing construction of the new boat, which like its five predecessors will be called the Northern Star:
[Franks] works for John Carter Risley, 71, a Canadian billionaire businessman with interests in fisheries, food supplements, and communications.
In a story in the SuperYacht Times, fisherman and owner John Risley says life has never not involved the ocean in one way or another.
From growing up as a young boy on the misty shores of Nova Scotia, Canada to steering a global empire today that manages the abundant valuable resources that our oceans have to offer, Risley is as much an adventurer in the business world as he is out at sea.
Few owners know as much about the last frontier that is our ocean as much as Risley and being reliant on its hidden treasures to make a living, few are as passionate about the wellbeing and sustainability of its inhabitants.
The new Northern Star will be 107 metres long — “that’s a little longer than a rugby field,” notes the Gisborne Herald enthusiastically. A photo supplied to the newspaper shows the Northern Star has a crew of 27 people.
Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (Monday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — a special meeting to consider flying cars or telepathy or the Centre Plan, some promised future wonder, in any event.
Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, City Hall) — a public hearing for Banc Investments’ (Alex Halef) proposal for a 19-storey building at 2859 Robie Street, which is that empty lot just south of the CTV building. Judging by the architectural renderings submitted by WM Fares Architects on behalf of Halef, Banc intends not just to bury the electric wires, plant street trees, and build new street lights in front of its own building, but also in front of the CTV building. We should hold them to that.
In all seriousness: if a developer is submitting patently false architectural renderings with their proposal, the proposal should be rejected out of hand, as the developer is not an honest broker.
No public meetings.
Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — questions about the Career Rising Program.
The Climate-Resilient Coastal Natural Infrastructure Workshop and ACCESS 2019 (Monday to Friday, various times and locations) — a combined event connecting coastal practitioners, coastal engineers, natural and social scientists, professors, students, planners, politicians, and Indigenous groups. Info here, register here.
In the harbour
05:30: Capricornus Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Baltimore
07:00: BBC Kwiatkowski, cargo ship, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Pier 9
07:30: Amadea, cruise ship with up to 624 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a 20-day cruise from Miami to Bremerhaven, Germany
10:30: Silver Wind, cruise ship with up to 355 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from New York, on 13-day cruise from New York to London
10:40: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Portland
11:00: CSL Metis, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
11:30: Capricornus Leader sails for sea
16:00: Skogafoss, container ship, sails for Argentia, Newfoundland
16:00: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
17:00: Amadea sails for St. John’s
18:30: Silver Wind sails for St. John’s
19:00: BBC Kwiatkowski sails for sea
Where are the Canadian military ships?
Monday isn’t as bad as Tuesday.
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