News

1. MCC: RCMP communications and a costly 27 minutes

An RCMP tweet at 10:17am on Sunday, April 19, 2020.

From Tim Bousquet’s latest report on the Mass Casualty Commission:

By 7:30am on Sunday morning, the RCMP were aware that the killer had not been found and the he might have a car that looked exactly like an RCMP cruiser. At 8am, Halifax police obtained a photo of the fake car and immediately sent it to the RCMP.

It took more than an hour and a half, but a draft tweet with a photo of the car was written.

At 9:40, the tweet’s author, Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, sent the wording of the draft tweet to Staff Sergeant Addie MacCallum, her liaison in the field, for approval, but just then — the time stamp on the radio dispatch is 9:41 — MacCallum was pulled away to respond to a new murder in Wentworth: Lillian Campbell had been shot dead by someone driving what looked like an RCMP cruiser.

Clarke quickly became aware that MacCallum was on the Campbell call, so she emailed Staff Sergeant Steve Halliday at 9:45 for his approval: “Steve — need approval asap. Addie is 10-6… Thanks Jen.” “10-6” means “busy.”

Halliday’s response isn’t recorded in the publicly released documents, but he evidently approved the tweet, as at 9:49 Clarke emailed her boss, Lia Scanlan, to get Scanlan’s approval. The subject line of the email read “APPROVED by Steve Halliday: Tweet for approval — immediate pls: 22B11 description.” The body of the email read: “Pls note they are responding to another incident, suspect is on the run/ Tweet is approved. Jen.”

Scanlan did not respond.

So there that draft tweet sat, unsent on Clarke’s computer.

Five minutes went by.

Ten minutes.

Fifteen minutes.

Twenty-five minutes.

Twenty-seven minutes.

Bousquet goes deeper into why the RCMP hesitated — and just how costly those 27 minutes were — in his full article. You can find that here.

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2. Long-COVID: NS senator wants more research

Photo: Edward Jenner/Pexels

Close to one in 10 people who’ve been infected with COVID are still experiencing symptoms months ⁠— even years ⁠— after testing positive, yet there’s still not a lot of research into long-COVID.

Some people are pushing to change that. Like Senator (Dr.) Stan Kutcher, one of five panelists participating in a national public virtual long-COVID town hall this afternoon. (Did I mention it’s National Long-COVID Awareness Day?). Kutcher, who still occasionally feels the effects of his COVID infection four months after he got it, spoke with Yvette d’Entremont about why he thinks targeted long-COVID research is critical, and how it can be funded.

Senator (Dr.) Stan Kutcher. Photo: Senate of Canada

COVID long-haulers have reported symptoms such as excessive fatigue, persistent headaches, and a sort of “brain fog” that almost resembles intoxication. Some have been unable to work for months, even people in their 20s who lived active lifestyles before getting the virus. One cardiologist who spoke with the Examiner said she’s seen a tremendous amount of relationship stress and an enduringly diminished quality of life for those who experience the extended symptoms.

Dr. Thao Huynh is a cardiologist and McGill University professor whose research team were among the first to begin to start examining the long-term effects of COVID. She told d’Entremont that medical professionals have little they can tell patients about long-COVID right now:

While there is some research being done, it’s not enough. I treat heart disease and I can exactly tell a patient what to expect. But with long-COVID I cannot, and I cannot get them the help they need.

Read d’Entremont’s full story here.

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3. CCPA-NS to government: “We can no longer sell the province as being competitive based on a race to the bottom”

Photo: Clay Banks/Unsplash

Nova Scotia has some of the lowest wages in the country, with low-wage work representing a significant part of the province’s labour market. Not good, for obvious reasons sure ⁠— no one wants to be paid less than almost anyone else in the country ⁠— but there are a myriad of negative associations to this type of work. These jobs tend to be insecure and void of benefits. They are stressful; low pay means some people work very long hours or hold multiple jobs to make ends meet. That type of grind can lead to health problems. Also not good, since 54% of workers in this province don’t have access to sick leave.

With this in mind, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) gave a written submission to the province’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts Wednesday, titled “The impact of low-wage economy on government revenue and expenses.” Yvette d’Entremont spoke with CCPA-NS director Christine Saulnier about the submission. 

Competition, community, and public health are all harmed by the low-wage economy, the submission reads.

Saulnier, who’s also the report’s author, recommended a number of changes the government could make to help low-wage workers, like raising the minimum wage and increasing union coverage.

Saulnier told the public accounts committee that the suggestion low-wage workers are low-skilled or lack formal education is also misguided. As an example, Saulnier noted that Black woman in this province with a Bachelor degree or higher have a median income only slightly higher than the median income of a white male who only has a high school degree.

From d’Entremont’s report:

Compared to the median wage of a white male, Black women face a pay gap of 42%, Black men face a 33% pay gap, and white women face a gap of 30%. Saulnier suggests in her submission that the pay gap is likely even worse for people with disabilities.

That’s why she’s pushing back on the notion that everyone is paid what they’re worth.

“We’ve been sending this message, this individual blaming and shaming message that ‘Well, you can just get a better job if you just go and get a degree, if you just do X, Y and Z,’ then you’ll be paid what you’re worth,” Saulnier said.

d’Entremont’s full article examines what’s in the CCPA-NS submission, and the paradigm shift Saulnier and the Centre want to see when it comes to work in Nova Scotia.

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4. Attracting better-wage work: tax break for young tradespeople

Premier Tim Houston at an announcement at the Halifax Shipyard. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

So how do we bring in more jobs with better wages? Maybe tax breaks?

Yesterday Premier Tim Houston spoke to Irving workers at the Halifax Shipyard, officially promoting a measure to encourage the recruitment and retention of young skilled tradespeople in Nova Scotia.

“Nova Scotia isn’t alone in facing gaps in our labour market, but what sets us apart is the concrete actions we are taking to address this problem,” Houston said during the event Wednesday. “We must find a way to keep our youth here.”

Jennifer Henderson breaks down what the announcement means in her full report this morning, but here’s a quick summary:

Starting next April, skilled tradespeople under the age of 30 in a very wide range of occupations, will pay no provincial income tax on the first $50,000 they earn. The list of occupations eligible for the tax break includes automotive technicians, bakers, boat builders, cooks, construction workers, glaziers, HVAC technicians, plumbers, roofers, crane operators, and many more.

Sadly, this unskilled writer will have to pay income tax. If it fixes just one pothole, I’ll gladly do my civic duty.

Click here for Henderson’s report.

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5. Fundraiser for Lucasville greenway, public transit

The first Walk and Fun Day in Lucasville. Photo: Contributed

“The Lucasville Greenway Society (LGS) is holding its second annual Walk & Fun Day this Saturday,” reports Matthew Byard. “The event’s goal is to gain support for the creation of a safe greenway that will connect the Black community of Lucasville to Lower Sackville.”

John Young is chair of the Lucasville Greenway Society. He talked to Byard about why his community needs more transportation options.

It’s a safety issue, it’s an inclusivity issue, it’s a mobility issue, and it’s also an active transportation issue because the community does not have any sidewalks, it has no transit, and it doesn’t have a safe walking and biking pathway at all. The shoulders of the road are very narrow.

Saturday’s event is expected to draw Mayor Mike Savage and other local politicians. Lucasville Greenway Society treasurer Cynthia Lucas says it’s an opportunity to emphasize to the municipal government just how important this project is for her community.

I think that they hear a small group of people talking, but I think they need a lot of people roaring. You know what I mean? And I think coming out this Saturday, they will see the importance of what it means to this community to have the things that this community deserves.

Read Byard’s full story here.

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6. Committee recommends in favour of 26-storey downtown Dartmouth development

A rendering of the proposal for the block bounded by Williams, Faulkner, Dickson and Lyle streets in Dartmouth, as seen from the other side of Faulkner Street. — WM Fares Architects

“A city committee has given a 26-storey Dartmouth development its stamp of approval, but it has some notes on the public art proposed for the site,” reports Zane Woodford this morning.

The Design Advisory Committee, tasked with reviewing development proposals submitted under the Centre Plan, met virtually on Wednesday, and considered a proposal for the block bounded by Williams, Faulkner, Dickson, and Lyle streets in downtown Dartmouth.

The site is right next to the Macdonald Bridge, comprises 10 lots, and sold for $2.8 million in March 2021, according to Property Valuation Services Corporation.

The site as seen from Williams Street on Monday. The bridge is visible in the back right. — Photo: Zane Woodford

WM Fares submitted the proposal on behalf of Boston Developments Ltd., which teased the development on Instagram in March. The company is owned by Jeremy, Boston, and Mark Ghosn.

The Ghosns want to build a 26-storey tower with 160 apartments. More than half of those are two-bedrooms with a few three-bedrooms. Forty-five percent of the apartments proposed are one-bedroom units.

The developers want to deviate from one aspect of the municipality’s Centre Plan though. And to do that, they’ll provide public art on the site, a variance allowed under the plan’s parameters.

The committee had no issue with the variance, reports Woodford, but some of the members, like Thomas Gribbin, weren’t so keen on the piece of art being proposed.

“I find it’s not art at all. It doesn’t inspire me in the slightest,” Gribbin said.

This article is for subscribers only. Click here to subscribe. 

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7. The Tideline: Episode 82, Stages Festival and The Villains Theatre

The Villains Theatre. Photo: Contributed

The latest episode of The Tideline is out. Here’s the description for this week’s show:

Dartmouth’s annual theatre extravaganza Stages returns live to Alderney Landing this week for shows, works in progress, solo experiments, and all kinds of wild weirdness. That includes SHAKESPEARE’S TIME MACHINE by The Villains Theatre, a classically irreverent comedy by Dan Bray. Co-director Rebecca Wolfe and performer/producer Colleen MacIsaac are on the show this week to talk post-pandemic life in the theatre, their personal Stages picks, and more. Plus a new song from Good Dear Good!

Click here to listen.


Views

Dear diary: honest notes from a journaling journalist

Dear diary. Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

When I finished my undergrad and packed my bags for Nova Scotia, I decided to throw away my journals. For the better part of three years, starting somewhere in my second semester of university, I sat down every night with a spiral-bound Hilroy scribbler and wrote down a recap of the day’s events, along with my thoughts about them. Not an easy thing to keep up. Many nights were a struggle, but I persisted for a long time.

I approached those journals with an unflappable discipline unmatched in any other part of my life before or since, never missing a day until, at the start of my final year, “senioritis” listlessly stripped me of my drive. A few missed days here and there started a slippery slope. My daily entries eventually became weekly, and by my last semester I’d abandoned the practice completely.

Looking back at the height of my journaling career, I’d guess I went 800 to 900 days without missing an entry. I could tell you the exact number, but as I said, I no longer have the journals.

You might be wondering why, after all that work, I chose to toss them. Seems like they’d be great to look back on later in life. A thorough record of my college days.

But they weren’t a thorough record, really.

If you came across those scribblers in the dump, you’d find entries telling you what company I was keeping, what movies I went to, the books and TV shows I liked. You’d read about how I found out about the Boston Marathon bombing or the shooting on Parliament Hill and other big news of the day. I included jokes I’d heard, and funny stories from parties, school, and trips. You’d discover which girls I liked and which girls didn’t like me back. You’d get a general sense of what it was like to be a millennial in a Canadian university, and if you read between the lines you might get a sense of what I was like.

Mostly though, it was a superficial documentation of the day to day. Occasionally I stumbled upon flashes of introspection and self-reflection — a sentence or two about money problems, romantic troubles, health issues (physical and mental), anxieties, and goals — but those journals were in essence time capsules. Useless as tools of personal growth and discovery.

I’m glad I wrote in them for three years. The practice improved my writing, even if I wasn’t delving deep within myself. Humourist David Sedaris recommends all writers keep a diary for this purpose, and I agree it helps. But a more honest approach would have been more beneficial to me as a young person trying to understand what drives me, what I like, and what I should cut out of my life.

This spring I started journaling again. Life’s too expensive right now to afford a therapist, so jogging and journaling it is.

This time, I made some guidelines. No need to write daily, but don’t let more than two weeks pass between entries. Focus on goals, thoughts, worries, and feelings, not what happened that day. Explore the things that are exciting or troubling you. Use it to organize thoughts.

Above all else, lean into and sift through the uncomfortable truths of your life. Dare to be honest.

I’ve written 10 entries in a little over a month. Here’s what I’ve learned: being honest — I mean deeply, brutally, root-cause honest — is painfully challenging. Now, that might not seem like a revelation, and it’s true I was aware being honest about who you are isn’t always easy or pleasant, but I’ve never been as aware about that as I am now. I mean, this is a diary we’re talking about. Something that, in theory, no one else is ever supposed to lay eyes on.

I understand that even marginal dishonesty in this case is like doing a half-assed workout at the gym: you only cheat yourself.

Why is it hard then? I suppose because when you see yourself honestly, and don’t like some parts of who you are, you have to make changes. And change, despite being the one constant of life, is excruciatingly difficult for us humans. Even when it would benefit us in the long run. That’s what’s really hard.

So, I’ve pushed myself to be as truthful as possible. Scrutinizing my relationships, the patterns I could build, and the ones I could cut, trying to objectively analyze my feelings, anxieties, and actions like a meditator letting their thoughts drift through their mind without judgement. And it works like meditation, too. I feel lighter, more aware, and accepting of myself. Legitimate worries feel more manageable and unreasonable anxieties suddenly feel like dead weight that’s been cut from my brain. It’s not as painful as it was at the beginning.

The journalist in me has learned something from this too. Or at least had a belief further entrenched. If it’s this challenging to be honest when no one is looking and nobody but myself will be affected by what I write, why would it be any easier for people with something to lose. People in power, or those who might be held accountable, will naturally want to present the best versions of themselves to the media and the world. But so does everybody.

Just as politicians, corporations, and public figures should be pushed for deeper, more honest answers, I need to push myself as well. We all do. Journaling, as I’ve been doing it this past month, has taught me how hard — and necessary — that is.

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Noticed

The dramatic language of airport storytelling

The Nobel prize winning economist George Stigler used to say “If you never miss a plane, you’re spending too much time in airports.” (I don’t know anything else he used to say, but I’ve used that one line to justify a million close calls and one missed flight at LAX).

These days, however, you can miss a flight and still spend way too much time at an airport.

Airline travel is an easy target for derision. Comedians have drawn from that well since the Wright Brothers set up at Kitty Hawk. (Here’s John Mulaney with the least hackneyed airport bit of the new millennium). It’s not just comedians, though. Even the humourless love to complain about the safest way to travel. Everyone has their own airport nightmare story.

And those nightmare stories are increasing. Look at any news article about airports and odds are the word “nightmare” will be in the headline. “Chaos” is another favourite term. Probably a more appropriate one. Though I feel for airline travellers and staff, the five Pivot Airlines crew members currently fearing for their lives in the Dominican Republic after finding 200kg of cocaine on their plane should have a monopoly on the word “nightmare” as a descriptor for their travel situation. In my opinion anyway.

The ongoing saga of Toronto’s Pearson Airport is the poster child for Canada’s struggles. Staff shortages, COVID precautions, and a general lack of preparation for a reopened world have turned Pearson, unpleasant at the best of times, into a sort of limbo/hell hybrid for travellers. Half-day delays have turned into cancelled flights, police have been called in to handle conflicts between staff and would-be flyers, and the feds have been called on to do anything to relieve the situation. Last year, CNN published a heartwarming story about a couple who fell in love at a Pearson lounge during a multi-hour delay. It’s hard to imagine that happening now, though duress can make people do some crazy things.

If you want to tell how bad things are getting, here and abroad, just look at how some of the language around these airport messes has ramped up. “Chaos” and “nightmare” are becoming quaint.

Over the weekend, former NHLer Ryan Whitney had a soul-crushing wait going through customs at Pearson, having to wait in line hours before being told his flight was cancelled. (He went through a lot more, but there’s no need to recount it all here). The experience led him to post a video online calling Pearson “The biggest disgrace known to man.”

In England last month, Bristol Airport apologized for massive delays, long lines, and cancellations. A woman from Stoke Bishop who was trying to fly out of the airport with her family told the BBC about her experience:

“We got there all excited, walked in and were told straight away our holiday was cancelled — we didn’t even hit a queue — they knew,” said Hannah.

“One hundred and ninety of us were given a telephone number and were making the same call all at once.

“As far as we know, no one got through.

“We were left to fend for ourselves, there was no apology at the time, no announcements. It was carnage.”

So “chaos” and “nightmare” have been replaced with “carnage” and “the biggest disgrace known to man.”

You might think that’s a bit hyperbolic, considering what’s happening in Ukraine, or America’s schools and hospitals, but… no, actually you’d be right. Airports really are the worst though. I can understand the frustration and the drama.

Here at home, it’s not so bad. Stanfield International is only recommending domestic travellers arrive at the airport two hours before their departure time. Two hours to check your bags, get through domestic security, and reach your gate to board. Somehow, that doesn’t sound so bad right now.

My unsolicited non-expert advice for those looking to get back to travel after a pandemic hiatus: don’t. But if you must, take a copy of War and Peace and a bottle of wine. And prepare for a chaotic nightmare of disgraceful carnage.

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Government

City

Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda here

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Thursday, 5pm) — virtual meeting

Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, Alderney Gate) — agenda

Province

No events


On campus

No events


In the harbour

Halifax
06:45: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives Pier 22 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
07:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Savannah, Georgia
08:50: MSC Brianna, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
11:30: Lake Wanaka, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Veracruz, Mexico
15:45: Zaandam sails for Bar Harbor
16:00: Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
17:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
21:00: MSC Mattina, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Sines, Portugal
22:00: Oceanex Connaigra moves back to Pier 41

Cape Breton
05:00: Homeric, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from sea
08:45: Nunavut Spirit, barge, arrives at Mulgrave from Sydney


Footnotes

If you only follow one baseball story this year, make it this one. It’s about two weeks old, but worth your time. The story revolves around a fantasy football league, a cheating accusation, a group chat spat, a GIF, a slap, and (somehow) grown men. You don’t need to understand the infield fly rule to enjoy this madness.


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Ethan Lycan-Lang

Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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  1. In a crisis situation such as the mass casualty event, public communication is an important tool of police work. A civilian should never have approval authority over what a sworn peace officer does or does not do. In fact such interference in the actions of a law enforcement officer is considered obstruction of a peace officer and is an offence. This is one of the many systemic faults discovered by this enquiry.