1. Glen Assoun is released from prison
Justice James Chipman has ordered the release of Glen Assoun, the man convicted of the brutal murder of Brenda Way. Way was the 28-year-old mother of two whose body was discovered on the morning of November 12, 1995 in the parking lot behind an apartment building on Albro Lake Road. She had been repeatedly beaten and stabbed. Assoun was convicted of her murder in 1999, and sentenced to life in prison.
He’s being released because he very likely is innocent. Crown prosecutors have agreed to bail for Assoun as his case is reinvestigated. His lawyer expects that eventually Assoun’s conviction will be reversed, but that could take as long as five years.
He is being released on extraordinary procedures only given to five previous prisoners in Canada. Basically, because everyone agrees he is likely innocent, it would be a miscarriage of justice to keep him in prison, so he is being granted bail before he would otherwise be eligible for bail, in 2016.
The rest of the article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.
A man spent nearly 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. What does this say about the Halifax police investigation into Brenda Way’s murder, and about Nova Scotia’s justice system? There’s so much more to say about this case, and so I’ll write a second article later this morning further exploring the issues.
2. Catie Miller
Investigators in the Homicide Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division have charged a man in relation to the disappearance of 29-year-old Catherine ‘Catie’ Miller who was last in contact with her family on July 15. She was reported missing to Halifax Regional Police on July 21.
On November 22 at 9:45 p.m., members of the HRP Emergency Response Team arrested 29-year-old Jason James Johnson at a Charlotte Lane address in Halifax. Investigators interviewed him and subsequently charged him in relation to the disappearance of Catie Miller. Based on their investigation, this matter has been ruled a homicide; however, Catie Miller’s remains have yet to be found.
Johnson, who is of no fixed address, is scheduled to appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court today to face a charges of first degree murder and indecently interfering with a dead human body.
Miller was the mother of a three-year-old boy. Police say she and Johnson were in a relationship, and the interfering charge could mean that her body was dismembered.
3. Rehtaeh Parsons
The Chronicle Herald has violated the publication ban in the Rehtaeh Parsons “high profile” child pornography case.
As I predicted yesterday, the young man facing the charges pleaded guilty, and now the case is done.
4. Three pedestrians hit
Last night Haliogonia.ca posted photos on its Facebook page of an accident scene at Victoria Road and Nantucket Street in Dartmouth, and said that three pedestrians had been hit. The photos show emergency responders and at least one person being put into an ambulance on a stretcher. Frustratingly, the 4:30am police shift report from Staff Sergeant Barb Saunders tells us only that “Halifax Regional Police responded to 114 calls during the shift, there were no notable incidents to report,” so I guess there are so many people run down in intersections the cops no longer think such incidents are notable.
It’s remarkable how, with absolutely no further information provided, many commenters on the Haligonia post were blaming the pedestrians for the incident. Many people just take it for granted that when a pedestrian gets hit, it’s the pedestrian’s fault. But while we don’t yet have a police report on last night’s incident, we do know that from January through October of this year there were 169 vehicle.pedestrian incidents. (“SOT” in the chart above refers to Summary Offence Ticket issued by a police officer, as opposed to criminal charges laid directly through the court.) Of those, 66 resulted in tickets for the driver, and just nine with tickets for the pedestrian. No tickets were issued in 90 of the incidents, and at the time of the report four were still under investigation (one of those four involved the man killed in Portland Estates; the driver has subsequently been ticketed). So drivers are getting ticketed at more than seven times the rate as pedestrians, but let’s keep ragging on pedestrians because some kid once walked out in front of you and how dare you have to slow down.
I also want to take issue with the objection sometimes raised that there may not be more pedestrian incidents here than anywhere else. It’s hard to make such comparisons, but even if so, so what? There are more obese people in Alabama than in Nova Scotia, so does that mean Nova Scotia doesn’t have an obesity problem?
When I was growing up, drunk driving was not a public issue at all. It took coordinated effort by people then considered shrill to raise drinking and driving as an issue that needed serious public attention. As a result, the number of drunk driving incidents has plummeted, and while there are still far too many incidents, drinking and driving is universally understood to be bad behaviour. But could you imagine someone making the argument that since on a per capita basis there aren’t any more drunk drivers in Halifax than in other cities, we don’t need to take the issue seriously? No, of course not. That’s a ridiculous argument. Likewise, it really doesn’t matter whether there are slightly more or fewer pedestrian incidents in Halifax as compared to some other city. The point is that 169 pedestrian incidents in 10 months is a huge problem, in and of itself.
5. Divest Dal
Reporter Rachel Ward says that:
Dalhousie University’s board of governors votes [today] on possibly ending its investments in fossil fuel companies. The investment committee will present a recommendation on what to do with around $20-million invested in 35 companies related to coal or oil and gas industries.
That article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.
Ward will be at the meeting and reporting what happens at halifaxexaminer.ca.
6. Child poverty
The Report Card on Child and Family Poverty 2014, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, finds that one in five children in Nova Scotia lives in poverty. In Cape Breton it’s one in three. Reports the Cape Breton Independent:
The report makes several recommendations for ending child poverty. [Report author Leslie] Frank stated that increasing the child tax benefit would be the most “effective and achievable” for two reasons. Firstly, the child tax benefit is currently in place and therefore would not require any new program development, which means it would be easy and relatively quick to change it if the political will exists. And secondly, adjusting the child tax benefit would be most effective because it goes to those who are most affected by child and family poverty.
1. Moral panic
Parker Donham weighs in on the high profile child pornography case.
2. Dartmouth history
It’s in the university listings below, but I thought I’d further highlight that historian David Jones, of the Dartmouth History Blog, is giving a talk tonight.
Halifax and West Community Council (6pm, City Hall)—The Canadian Cancer Society wants to expand Daffodil Place on South Street, across the street from Victoria General Hospital and the IWK. Daffodil Place provides temporary housing for people who live out of town and are being treated for cancer at the hospitals. The existing building is four storeys high, and the proposal calls for extending that building eastward to Wellington Place. It’s not an overwhelming high-rise, but Wellington Street residents have been organized in opposition to another development proposal on their street—for two buildings of 10 and 12 storeys. I doubt anyone will oppose the Daffodil Place expansion, but we’ll see.
The Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee has asked the Community Council to do something about dogs in the park. The Advisory Committee says the off-leash rules are reasonable, but nobody much knows what the rules are or if they do they don’t obey them.
Standing Committee on Human Resources (9am, Room 233A, Johnston Building)—the committee will be asking questions about the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. Marjorie Davison, the CEO of the agency, and Carol MacCulloch, the chair, will be witnesses.
Thesis defence, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Tuesday, 11am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building)—PhD candidate Haoran Yu will defend his thesis, “Techniques for Enhancing the Performance of Bulk-Driven Circuits in Nano-Scale CMOS Technology.”
Climate Change in the Northwest Atlantic (Tuesday, 11:30am, RM 3655, Life Science Centre, Oceanography Wing)—presentation by John Loder, from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.
PhD defence, Biology (Tuesday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building)—PhD candidate Trevor Dickson Davies will defend his thesis, “Population Status of Exploited Marine Fish Populations.”
Board of Governors (3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building)—This meeting will decide the Fossil Fuel Divestment issue. The Examiner will be reporting on this later today. See this article for more information.
The European Union’s interest in the Arctic Ocean (12:30pm, Lord Dalhousie Room, Henry Hicks Building)—Mathilde Jacquot, a doctoral student from the Université de Bretagne Occidentale in Brest, France, will be talking.
Jim Stanford (Wednesday, 7:30pm, Scotiabank Auditorium, Marion McCain Building)—the economist and Globe and Mail columnist will talk on “Money, Myths and Manipulation: Debunking Austerity Economics.”
Pull My Daisy and Me And My Brother (Wednesday, 8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery)—the promo for the film screenings explains:
Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie, USA, 1959, 1969, 30 minutes, 91 minutes. Nova Scotia resident Robert Frank’s unorthodox films broke new ground somewhere between documentary and fiction, with performances by Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso and many other Beat luminaries.
Environmental issues around Halifax (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Loyola 186):
Students in Environmental Challenges course ENVS 1200.1 will showcase their group-based research projects that tackle a wide range of environmental issues affecting the local community. All welcome.
The Archaeology and History of Colonial Dartmouth (Tuesday 7:30pm, Theatre B, Burke Building)—Historian David Jones, of the Dartmouth History Blog, will be presenting.
The news is horribly depressing today. Some light-hearted diversion is called for. Here, have some Marx Brothers:
In the harbour
(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)
Big snowstorm on the way, maybe.