News

1. Power rate hikes

A Nova Scotia Power truck parked on Woodlawn Road in Dartmouth after Fiona, on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Forget about a total rate hike on the power bill of 10% over three years,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Residential customers are now looking at almost 7% in each of the next two years — 6.9 and 6.8%, according to additional information filed by Nova Scotia Power with the regulator on Friday. 

Nova Scotia Power says its proposed higher power rates are needed to cover rising fuel costs and in order to meet stiffer environmental regulations.

The Utility and Review Board ordered the company to submit answers to 71 questions posed by its lawyer and the Consumer Advocate and experts representing large and small businesses in the province. The chart below filed by Nova Scotia Power attempts to address the question of how much more ratepayers can expect to pay on the monthly power bill. 

The increases shown in this chart are compounded — that is, the $11.50 increase for domestic customers in 2023 is on top of the $10.74 in 2022, for a total of Chart submitted to the Utility and Review Board by Nova Scotia Power

And these monthly rate increases do not include $113 million worth of higher-than-forecast fuel costs in 2022, which are being set aside and will be paid over a three-year period beginning in 2023. 

Click here to read “Nova Scotia Power wants still higher rate increases.”

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2. Sipekne’katik members say they’re in dark about wind power deal

Photo: Joan Baxter

“Concerned band members of Sipekne’katik First Nation and Mi’kmaq rights holders have started a petition asking for a review of the wind farms that the Nova Scotia government awarded in August to Elemental Energy Renewables in partnership with Sipekne’katik First Nation,” reports Joan Baxter:

The awards were in response to a Nova Scotia Rate Based Procurement request for proposals for renewable energy projects that the province issued in February 2022.

“Until there is a full review, verification, and investigation into the wind energy contracts awarded to Sipekne’katik First Nation and Elemental Energy Higgins Wind Project, we are calling upon Nova Scotia Power Inc. and the Nova Scotia government to suspend the signing of the Power Purchase Agreement,” reads the petition.

The petition says that the review must include verification of Sipekne’katik’s majority ownership and Mi’kmaq engagement in the projects, as well as verification of environmental risk, and an investigation into a “possible breach of the prohibition of lobbying, collusions, and conflict of interest.”

Click here to read “Sipekne’katik band members say they weren’t told about wind power deal.”

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3. Meet the new boss

Premier Tim Houston. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

“Absolute power may — or may not — corrupt absolutely, but it sure works its dark magic swiftly,” writes Stephen Kimber:

Exhibit A for the prosecution: Timothy Jerome Houston.

Almost exactly a year ago, just a little more than two months after Houston had been elected Nova Scotia’s 30th premier with a majority government (in our first-past-the-post province, it is possible, even likely, to win an “absolute majority” of seats in the House of Assembly with just 38.44% of the popular vote), I wrote a column headlined: “Our New Premier Seems Comfortable in His Own Skin.

Although I acknowledged it was early and political honeymoons rarely last long, I had to confess I’d been impressed by the openness our new premier seemed to bring to the job at hand.

That was then.

Then seems like a lifetime ago now. These days Tim Houston sounds more like My-Way-or-Get-out-of-the-Way Stephen McNeil.

Click here to read “The new Tim Houston sounds like the old Stephen McNeil.”

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4. Police chases

Early this morning, Halifax police issued a release about an incident that happened yesterday afternoon:

At approximately 2:45 p.m. on October 16th members of Halifax Regional Police noticed a vehicle that had previously been reported stolen in Pictou County heading inbound to Halifax on Old Sambro Road. Patrol members attempted to conduct a traffic stop but the vehicle fled. Officers lost sight of the vehicle and a short time later observed it on Randolph Street which is a cul de sac. Officers blocked the vehicle in and attempted to arrest the lone occupant but the driver repeatedly rammed the stolen car into two Police cars causing damage and then caused damage to nearby lawns by driving over them. Two officers suffered minor injuries. The suspect then fled again in the vehicle to the nearby 100 block of Towerview road where the vehicle became wedged between a building and a fence. Officers followed and arrested the 39 year-old male driver. The driver faces numerous charges and will appear in Halifax Provincial Court today.

Ardath Whynacht, who lives in the area, characterized the incident differently in a series of tweets yesterday, saying that “About an hour ago, four Halifax Police cop cars pursued someone in a high-speed chase through my tiny, residential neighborhood in Armdale — over lawns and across the field at the primary school where the kids play at all hours — especially on Sunday afternoons… They could easily have killed my child, or someone else’s.”

The police release isn’t clear as to where on Old Sambro Road the driver of the stolen car was first sighted, but this Google Map shows the route and distance from Randolph Street to Towerview Road:

Google Maps

I last wrote about police chases in December 2020, when the RCMP conducted a series of raids in the Halifax area, and that’s worth repeating at length here:

As Philip Moscovitch pointed out yesterday:

[On Wednesday,] my social media feeds filled with images one person described as “from a John Wick movie”: unmarked vehicles jumping curbs, and tearing under underpasses, heavily armed cops in residential areas, reports of multiple operations in different parts of the city.

Many of these raids happened in areas normally patrolled by the Halifax Regional Police Department…

Later in the evening Wednesday, the RCMP issued, yes, a tweet about the operation:

….

But one thing we do know is that in executing these raids, despite the statement that “there is no risk to public safety,” the RCMP in fact demonstrated a callous disregard for the safety of the public.

You can watch the videos yourself. Car chases were happening in rush hour traffic, and pedestrians were jumping out of the way:

CTV interviewed a pedestrian who said the speeding cars came within a metre of him.

Are police car chases inherently dangerous? You bet they are. As USA TODAY reported in 2015:

More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in police car chases since 1979, and tens of thousands more were injured as officers repeatedly pursued drivers at high speeds and in hazardous conditions, often for minor infractions, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The bystanders and the passengers in chased cars account for nearly half of all people killed in police pursuits from 1979 through 2013, USA TODAY found. Most bystanders were killed in their own cars by a fleeing driver.

This isn’t just an American phenomenon. It happens all too often right here in Nova Scotia.

The most high-profile death involving a police chase in Nova Scotia was in 2004, when Theresa McEvoy, a teacher’s aid and mother of three, was killed when the car she was driving was broadsided by a car stolen by Archibald Billard, a young offender being chased from Lower Sackville to Connaught Avenue by the Halifax Regional Police.

In this Daily News photo from 1998, a firefighter, possibly George Cromwell, stands next to the crashed vehicles in which Janet Myers died. Photo: Ted Pritchard / The Daily News

But there have been others. In 1998, 43-year-old Janet Myers, a dance instructor at the Dartmouth Dance Academy, was killed because another young person who had stolen a van was being chased by Halifax police.

“The chase started at about 4:30pm when a patrol officer in a marked police car tried to pull over a green minivan near the corner of Jackson Road and Pinehill Drive, said Halifax regional police Const. Gary Martin,” reported Chris Lambie the following morning in the Daily News.

The van “took off as soon as the officer put on his flashing lights,” wrote Lambie. “After a half-kilometre chase, the van crashed into a red Saturn sedan travelling along Woodland Avenue, flipping it on to its side and killing the driver — a Dartmouth woman in her early 40s.”

And in 1993, Truro police chased a stolen car being driven by a 17-year-old boy; the driver lost control and slammed into a brick wall, killing Carl Dorrington, a 14-year-old boy who was a passenger in the vehicle.

To their credit, after McEnvoy’s death, Halifax police have mostly — although not entirely — broken off police chases when there is a danger to the public.

But here we have the RCMP involved in a high-speed pursuit of a driver with unknown intent at rush hour, in a crowded urban setting where pedestrians were present. It’s a miracle no one was killed.

But, there was “no risk to public safety,” we were told.

It gets worse.

RCMP raid across the street from Charles P. Allen High School on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2020. Note the high school in the background.

Yesterday, I was contacted by Jennifer Ramsay, the chair of the School Advisory Committee at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford. Ramsay told me that one of the RCMP raids happened at an apartment building across the street from the high school, just as hundreds of students at the school were leaving for the day.

“There was absolutely no notice given to the school of any type,” said Ramsay. “There should have been a lockdown at the school and students should not have been allowed to leave the building at this time. This is absolutely unbelievably neglectful of the RCMP not to have ensured the safety of the students at this school.”

Photos taken by students and parents at the time show heavily armed police officers, clearly preparing for a possible shootout, hiding behind vehicles as scores of students stream by.

I asked the RCMP for comment on the situation at the high school, and received this response back from Public Information Officer Lisa Croteau:

Hi Tim,

Extensive planning went into preparing for this operation and ensuring public and officer safety.

Take care,

Lisa

But, as I reported yesterday, Doug Hadley, spokesperson with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, confirmed that the school was not forewarned about the nearby police operation:

“This is not typical,” said Hadley in an interview. “We typically have good communications with both the Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP. When they have operations near a school, they let us know.”

Hadley said it’s up to the school to decide how to react, and that can range from a “hold and secure” — where students can only leave when parents arrive to pick them up — to a complete lockdown.

In this case, however, the principal at Charles P. Allen only learned of the nearby police operation after school had been dismissed, and even then, the only contact with the RCMP was via a voicemail left with the principal. No RCMP officer came to the school.

Hadley said because the school is in an area patrolled by the Halifax Regional Police, the school contacted that agency. But, “they didn’t know, or at least the officer who answered the phone didn’t know anything about what was going on.”

I can’t say with certainty, but it increasingly looks like the RCMP had no idea at all that there was a high school near the site of their raid, and only became aware of it as hundreds of students started coming down the hill towards them. Then, and only then, did the RCMP make a frantic call to the school to warn them of the nearby operation.

This is the complete opposite of “extensive planning … for … ensuring public and officer safety.”

Students and teachers at the school, and the students’ parents, have every reason to be outraged by the RCMP’s callous disregard for public safety, as should the rest of us.

And now a police chase by Halifax police in a residential neighbourhood in Spryfield.

We can guess that the police were angry that officers were injured and that their cars were damaged, and that led to setting aside the non-pursuit policy. But as the RCMP raids of December 2020 show, it is precisely in such highly charged moments when the lives of innocent civilians, including children, are most at risk.

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5. Michelin

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Michelin is preparing to end all its protocols and special sick-day policies for employees with COVID.

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In the harbour

Halifax
03:30: CMA CGM Laperouse, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
06:00: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Saint Croix, Virgin Islands
07:30: Norwegian Joy, cruise ship with up to 4,616 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney
08:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for Baltimore
10:30: Lake Wanaka, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
11:30: AS Felicia, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
11:30: Conti Crystal, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for the Suez Canal
16:30: Vivienne Sheri D, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
16:30: Elka Delos, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
17:30: Norwegian Joy sails for Saint John
20:30: MSC Pilar, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
20:30: Lake Wanaka sails for sea
22:00: Tropic Lissette sails for Palm Beach, Florida
22:30: Vivienne Sheri D sails for Portland

Cape Breton
11:15: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
16:30: Norwegian Pearl, cruise ship, sails from Sydney for Halifax
17:00: Algoterra, oil tanker, arrives at Government Wharf from Halifax
17:30: Seven Seas Navigator, cruise ship, sails from Sydney for Halifax
22:00: Emerald Spirit, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from Ras Lanuf, Lybia


Government

City

Monday

Grants Committee (Monday, 10am, online) — agenda

North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, Bedford-Hammonds Plains Community Centre) — agenda

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall and online) — agenda

Province

Legislature sits (Monday, 5pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Herzberg50 Exhibit (Monday, 9am, Richard Murray Design Building) — until the 21st

Tuesday

Brass Masterclass with True North Brass (Tuesday, 5pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — featuring Karen Donnelly, Tazmyn Eddy, Julie Fauteux, David Pell, and Sasha Johnson


Footnotes

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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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