News

1. Politicians respond, sort of, to Greg Hiles’ death

Greg Hiles

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

Premier McNeil, Health Minister Randy Delorey, and Justice Minister Mark Furey all read from the same script after Thursday’s meeting of Cabinet ministers in charge of the province.

There will be no consideration given to any sort of public inquiry into the hanging death last week of 39-year-old Gregory Hiles at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth, first reported here by El Jones. At least not before the Nova Scotia Health Authority has completed what Health Minister Randy Delorey called “a comprehensive review” of what happened. The worry is there’s no onus on the Health Department to make public its findings and the mother of Gregory Hiles cannot help but be suspicious.

“So, I mean, what could have happened from a phone call at 10, after 10 o’clock when we hung up — happy, laughing, cracking jokes — to a 4:30am call from the police at my door who told me that my son was found hanging in his cell unresponsive?” said Sheila Hiles in an interview with CBC Radio Thursday. “It didn’t make sense to me, it doesn’t make sense to me.”

She says police told her it was a suicide. The Office of the Medical Examiner has performed an autopsy; the results will eventually be made available to Gregory Hiles’ next-of-kin. That may provide the family with some answers. It’s possible Hiles had enemies. Another inmate/patient had accused him of being part of drug ring inside the facility which led to his transfer to a restricted area of the hospital where he could no longer receive visits from his kids and family.

Hiles and three other co-accused tried to have those restrictions lifted earlier this year. A judge was sympathetic to the fact they were locked down on hearsay but decided the court wasn’t the proper authority to deal with operating procedure at a mental hospital for offenders.

Gregory Hiles had been admitted to the East Coast Forensic Hospital in November after being found not criminally responsible for assaulting another man. He was being treated for schizophrenia. He also had a criminal record that included a manslaughter conviction in 2000 for beating Christopher Ford to death with a baseball bat.

Hiles’ family and some inmate advocacy groups say any time and every time someone dies in custody there needs to be some form of public accountability or explanation of what took place in a supposedly secure environment where people are not supposed to be able to harm themselves or others. (Hiles’ case is complicated by the fact he was being treated in a hospital operated by the Health Authority).

“What I heard the Premier say is that the present investigation (by the Nova Scotia Health Authority) will be completed and then the information will be relayed to the next-of-kin”, said NDP leader Gary Burrill. “What I am saying is there also needs to be a public accounting. When something this serious happens in a public institution, there is an accounting owed the people in the province in whose custody the person’s life had been placed. It should be systemic and require no decision on the part of any administrator or Minister.”

Burrill doesn’t insist on what form that inquiry take, suggesting something along the lines of a coroner’s inquest might do the job.

“The PC party doesn’t have a position on whether a public inquiry should be automatic when someone dies in custody but it is a conversation I think we should have,” said Tim Halman, Dartmouth East MLA standing-in for PC Leader Tim Houston.

Justice Minister Mark Furey says there has been some discussion about whether there should be an automatic inquiry when someone dies in custody although in this case, Furey says, it is important to note Gregory Hiles was a patient rather than an inmate. Furey says the current legislation — the Fatality Investigations Act — leaves the decision of a public inquiry to the Office of the Medical Examiner. That Office is so overburdened — called to the scene of every highway accident, suspicious death, and suicide in the province — Furey says the government is presently looking at the legislation to consider changes that would provide “efficiencies.” (Translation: save time and money.) Furey said the Liberals are not considering changes to  the legislation that would make public inquiries “automatic” if someone dies in custody.

2. Sinkholes

LIDAR images show the main Highway 104 interchange in Oxford, N.S., and a band of sinkholes along the Trans-Canada Highway. Photo: Province of Nova Scotia via CBC

“Cumberland County officials want the Nova Scotia government to check for sinkholes under the Trans-Canada Highway near the town of Oxford, N.S.,” reports Jack Julian for the CBC:

That’s after laser mapping showed the area is filled with dozens of large sinkholes in a wide band that crosses the highway between Oxford and Springhill.

Detailed LIDAR images, which use lasers to map the surface of the landscape, show a band of sinkholes over 100 metres wide stretching several kilometres from Oxford to Springhill and back again.

Of particular concern is land under Highway 104, a section of the Trans-Canada Highway connecting New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

3. Another week, another cannabis dispensary raid

A police release:

Police have charged five people after conducting a search of an illegal cannabis dispensary yesterday [Wednesday] in Bedford.

At approximately 1:20 p.m., members of the Drug Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division and West Division Community Response Officers, conducted a search warrant at East Coast Greenery located at 793 Bedford Highway in Bedford. Investigators seized almost $8,000, approximately 10 pounds of cannabis, over 4 pounds of hashish and approximately 14,000 other cannabis products.

Five people were arrested at the location without incident:

  • Noah Mansfield Greiss, 28, of Halifax
  • Jason Paul Pelley, 40, of Dartmouth
  • Stephanie Alexandra Clarke, 30, of Dartmouth
  • Troy William Power, 28, of Halifax
  • Nicholos Quinlan Hood, 32, of Willamswood

The Registry of Joint Stock Companies lists Joseph A. Clarke of Halifax as the president of East Coast Greenery, Inc., but the company defaulted on its payment in May.

4. Yarmouth ferry

The Alakai, docked at Yarmouth. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Jennifer Henderson continues with her coverage of yesterday’s post-cabinet meeting scrum:

It was a day with more questions than answers.

Except for the Yarmouth Ferry. Yes, we paid former US Ambassador David Wilkins $30,000 from June until the end of August “to help us better understand” the process of dealing with the US Customs and Border Protection service, says Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines. And No, the Customs and Border Protection Service has still not given The Cat the green light to sail. Yes, Minister Hines “is still hopeful” passengers will buy tickets and come to Nova Scotia before the leaves turn red in the fall. (Is anybody’s face red as well?)

Yes, the Liberals, PCs, and NDP all agree Nova Scotia needs a marine transportation link to the United States. Yes, the opposition parties are critical of the McNeil government for failing to make sure the operator of the service (Bay Ferries) provides value for money. So far this season we continue to pay the operator an undisclosed management fee without seeing a return on the investment. The PCs will get a day in court next April to try to find out how much that fee is. When the return on investment will come is harder to predict. Anecdotally it appears businesses in southwest Nova Scotia took a big hit this summer as bookings cancelled and expected traffic failed to materialize. No, don’t worry. The Cat will be back next summer.

5. Matt Whitman, tech genius

Matt Whitman

The Halifax IT/Tech Meetup group is hosting a panel discussion next month on “How to grow tech in our region.” Writes organizer Calvino Anderson:

Welcome to Septembers Meet Up, an interactive panel discussion lead by myself, Councillor Matt Whitman and 1 other guest from our local tech sector discussing what we need as a community to grow our region as a tech hub. We will discuss past initiatives, challenges, some great successes and the future.

As usual beer and snacks are included….hope to see you all…..

Click here to attend.

I’m so confused.

6. The Icarus Report

A plane crashed on June 7 in Grand Falls, New Brunswick:

C-GNJM, a Beech C 23 Sundowner aircraft operated by Aviation MH, was conducting a flight from Riviere-du-Loup (CYRI), QC to Grand Falls (CCK3), NB with only the pilot on board. As the commercial student-pilot was landing on the 40-foot wide asphalt portion of Runway 16 at CCK3, the left main landing gear exited the asphalt. There was a slight drop between the asphalt and the turf/gravel on the sides of the runway. As the pilot experienced difficulty controlling the aircraft, full power was applied for a go-around, however during the early stages of the climb, the aircraft started heading toward the hangars on the south-east end of the airport. The pilot attempted to avoid the hangars by turning to the left over a forested area, but the aircraft stalled, and struck the ground. The pilot exited the aircraft, and was able to get to a passerby, who called for help. There was no fire, and the ELT activated. The aircraft was destroyed and the pilot sustained serious injuries.

Issues are happening with alarming frequency at Stanfield International:

 [January 15]: At Halifax/Stanfield, NS (CYHZ), a vehicle (ESC259) was working on Taxiway Delta with surveyors. Instructed to vacate. Continued to work for 7 to 8 minutes, delaying 3 aircraft on the apron. The Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) Airport Duty Manager (ADM) was advised.

[August 9] 4 vehicles (ESC245+3) were observed on Runway 05/23 near Bravo without air traffic control (ATC) clearance. No impact.


Views

1. Maggie Rahr

Maggie Rahr

Robert Devet continues his series of interviews with local journalists, speaking this week with Maggie Rahr, who says:

We all know about this crunch that even established papers and journalistic outlets are going through. Take someone like Brett Bundale, who is an extraordinary reporter who was let go from Canadian Press. Or Stephanie Nolan, who was the Latin America correspondent for the Globe and Mail, who’s better than her? 

I’m just kind of riding this out and hoping that content at a certain point becomes valuable again to editors and publishers, and that they find a way to pay for good, well researched and meaningful work. Because I really think we’re lost without it.

Papers can’t afford to pay for the investigative journalism that they want, which is heartbreaking. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it. The story needs to be told and somebody has to do it. Maybe I’m just foolish, but I think that there’s always going to be a need for investigative journalism. 

2. Proforestation

As the world, and to some degree, political leaders, become alarmed at the fires in the Amazon, David Patriquin points us to the Canadian forests, and in particular to the razing and burning of the boreal forests:

I wonder whether Mr. Trudeau  is aware that Canada’s Boreal Forest, once called (with boreal forest in Russia) the “northern lungs of the world” (CBC News, 2002)

Boreal forests in Russia and Canada are among the world’s biggest producers of oxygen and should be protected from industrialization, a Winnipeg conference was told Sunday.

Don Sullivan, head of the North American Boreal Forest Network, said his goal as host of the three-day conference was to stress the importance of keeping boreal forests healthy.

“We’re trying to send a clear message to the public that the northern lungs of the world is important to maintain, and keeping it a viable, sustainable, healthy ecosystem is not only important to us as Canadians, but it’s important to the world.”

… is so no more as “Hotter, larger fires [are] turning boreal forest into carbon source
– CBC News, Aug 22, 2019 ? (Net emissions of carbon also mean they are net consumers of oxygen.)

In fact, Canada’s forests have exhibited net emission of carbon every year since 2002, the year of that Winnipeg conference (view NRC).

Patriquin has some alarming things to say about the potential cataclysmic results of the continued loss of the boreal forests, then turns his attention to Nova Scotia’s Acadian forests:

Given the importance attached to forests globally to store existing carbon and an oft talked about  potential to sequester more carbon to mitigate climate change, surely the increased carbon emissions in the Amazonian and Boreal forests increase the value of managing forests in the normally wetter parts of the NA continent — Nova Scotia being one of them — to maintain and increase existing carbon stores.

One of those management tools is to do nothing, just let them continue to grow and age, which has recently been described as “proforestation.”

3. Kittens and butts

Halifax lawyer Barbara Darby continues her deep dive into Canadian legal decisions, this time by searching for kittens.

She finds some animal cruelty cases, and what can only be described as “the case of the asshole neighbour,” before landing on the purrfect case for Examiner readers: Irving Consumer Products Ltd. v. Cascades Canada. She explains:

The Court introduces the case:

Soft furry animals are used to sell bathroom tissue. So is the color blue. Can one furry animal on a predominately blue package be confused with two or three other white furry animals on a predominately blue package? Herein lies in large part the dispute between two major manufacturers of bathroom tissue.

FYI, “toilet tissue” is aka “toilet paper” for the 99%. Tissue at issue:  Irving’s brand Royale features white Persian kittens, and “each type of bathroom tissue also has a single cat on the packaging, seemingly one of the Royale kittens. This kitten is in a different pose depending on the grade of the tissue.”

Let’s consider the iconography of the kittens’ poses:

“Original”  kitty refuses eye-contact. She is a heart-wrenching waif, too sad for one so young, tentatively glancing off-stage, searching for her quickly vanishing hopes and dreams. Or she exposes the soft underbelly of the kitten image industry, where she will soon be discarded for a younger kitten, like so much 2 ply tissue. Yes, she says, you could only get the 2-ply, but my cute submissiveness makes up for a lack of additional plies.

3 ply kitten at least attempts eye contact but his face tells of a hidden yearning for something more.  A slight frown of distain, perhaps. Or is it grim resignation?  Top of the line velour kitten has zero f*cks left to give, and reclines against her royal purple backdrop, holding up her world-weary head with one painfully curled paw. Did someone say “microfrown”? Do I want to be identified as “plush and thick”?

“Having spent $23M on advertising with this campaign over a decade, of course Irving is concerned about its brand,” continues Darby:

And what is Irving defending against? Rival Cascades was about to “reposition” its brand, and introduced “Fluff.” For Irving, the concern was that Fluff products would be purchased by people confused into thinking they were Kitten products. 

I cannot independently verify that the above-pictured rabbit butt is Fluff’s butt.

The Court: “Fluff might be described as a cartoon style rabbit with long floppy ears and oversized green eyes which face forward. Like the Royale kittens, the rabbit is white and is portrayed to look soft and cuddly.”

A lot legal of legal wrangling ensued (Irving hired a marketing expert who “confirmed as only an expert can that the bunny and the kittens were very similar:  both images are ‘small, cute, furry, cuddly and white’ with ‘enlarged eyes’” and actually argued about the hypothetical shopper, “moron in a hurry”) before the court issued its decision:

“The final distinguishing factor on the Cascades packaging is Fluff’s rear end on the back of the packaging. Any thought that Fluff might be a kitten should be quickly dispelled with a view of the furry bunny tail.

Basic anatomy, folks. 

Read the whole thing.

4. Bags

Photo: Stephen Archibald

With Sobeys announcing that it would no longer provide plastic bags, Stephen Archibald stopped by Hangar 51 to break out his bag collection (of course he has a bag collection).


Noticed

I’ve been reading Bernie Schultz for so long that I thought I must have mentioned him before in the Examiner, but a quick search shows I have not.

Having spent a bit of time this morning reviewing my past correspondence with Schultz, an ebook he sent me free, and his blog, I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason I haven’t written about him is because there’s not an easy “in” to explaining him. I would need to spend more time than I have to properly introduce him. I can give it an imperfect shot, however.

Schultz is a recovering alcoholic who misspent his youth in north end Dartmouth. He started his blog, “Mulgrave Lane,” in 2014, just a couple of months before I started the Examiner, and I first contacted him thinking he might have some insight into the neighbourhood that I could use for my Dead Wrong series. But Schultz was writing about the 1970s, an earlier period than I was researching. Still it is a downright fascinating look at Dartmouth of that era. And a fascinating look at Schultz himself:

There is a housing project up behind the old Dartmouth shopping mall that everybody called Jellybean Square. There are two schools of thought on why they called it that. Some say it was because the houses were different colors and others said it was because the people who lived there were of different colors. Don’t get your nose out of joint. This was the late sixties, early seventies and people looked at things differently than they do now. I didn’t much care either way. People were just people to me.

I didn’t live in Jellybean Square. I lived on Jellybean Lane. I might be the only person who called it that, but I figured since it was the same type of housing project and since ours was built first, then we should have first dibs on the name. So to me it was Jellybean Lane. To all of you, it was Lahey Road. 

This is a story about Jimmy, Bobby, Craig and me. We were 4 cool guys who lived on this street. We were all good dancers and we knew it. It was how we got girlfriends, by dancing. We went to all the dances. John Martin, Dartmouth High, St. Anthonys, Emmanuel Church. One Saturday night we decided to go to a dance at Ellenvale School in Woodlawn. Craig’s cousin Dougie was in the band.

We took the bus there because Woodlawn was at least a 2-hour walk from Jellybean Lane. The dance was good. There were a lot of pretty girls there and we got lots of dances. There was a girl Craig liked and she didn’t have anyone to walk her home, so Craig volunteered. The rest of us walked her home, too, but we stayed far enough behind them so that Craig could work his magic on her. The magic must have worked because Craig got her phone number.

The problem now was we had walked about 30 minutes in the opposite direction that we were supposed to go in and we missed the last bus headed up our way. So the four really cool guys from Jellybean Lane had to walk home. There were no cellphones back then and besides, no one we knew had a car anyway.

I had been in a gang a few years ago and I knew a few things about some of the other gangs in the city. Way I figured it, we would need to walk through at least 5 badass areas in order to get home. Woodlawn, Westphal, Crichton Park, Downtown, and Northbrook.

Then we heard it. Angry voices in the shadows. The first gang….

They chased us for a few blocks, but they couldn’t catch us and before we knew it, we were on Main Street. We decided to cut across the Mic Mac Rotary and then up there where they were building that new mall.

From there, we could slip over to Woodland Road, up Slayter Street and we’d be home free.

Then we ran into the Westphal Gang and they came after us with baseball bats so we had to make a detour down through Grahams Grove and around Lake Banook. I wasn’t too wild about going through Crichton Park, but we didn’t have much choice….

Luckily, we didn’t run into any more gangs. Now, it was just a long dark walk home. Craig started singing. He had a good voice, not like Dougie but still pretty good. He was singing Lodi by CCR.

“Just about a year ago, I set out on the road……”

And Bobby sang, “Seeking my fame and fortune….”

And Jimmy sang, “looking for a pot of gold.”

And we all sang, “Oh lord, stuck in Lodi again!” And we laughed and sang all the way home. 

Other entries aren’t so light-hearted:

I remember walking up Primrose Street with Malcolm one day. A car drove by us. It was a Monte Carlo, I think. There were four hoodlum types in the car. One of them started staring at us so Malcolm gave him the finger. The car slowed down and made a u-turn.

My first thought was we should run because the last time we’d been in a fight with those odds, it hadn’t turned out so well. But Malcolm had other plans. He stood in the middle of the street, doing his weird kung fu dance, basically daring them to come and get us.

When the car was about four feet from him, Malcolm did something no one could have anticipated. He jumped on the hood of the car and drop-kicked the windshield. Later, at Emerg, we would learn that he’d broken his foot in three places, but that didn’t phase Malcolm. He was still waving his arms and doing the sleeping tiger crushes the lonely mantis dance. I think the guys in the car realized that he was truly psychotic and they decided not to engage this fool any further. After they sped away, I called a taxi and took Malcolm to the hospital.

On another occasion, we were partying at someone’s apartment. Two guys were carrying a glass window down the hallway from the back of the apartment to the front. They had planned to replace a broken window. There were two bedrooms on either side of the hallway. Their doors were opposite each other. Malcolm was high on mushrooms and for some reason he decided to run from one bedroom to the other at the precise moment the glass-toting tenants came down the hall. Malcolm ran through the glass. It’s a miracle that he survived it. He walked away with a nasty gash down his forehead. When anyone asked, Malcolm would say he ran into a low flying helicopter.

Yes, we had many good times. I don’t remember most of them because we were usually high on something. It seemed as if our friendship lasted a lifetime. In reality, it was only three years.

In 1978, my friend Malcolm jumped to his death from a seventh floor balcony because he suffered from alcoholism and depression. I got drunk the night I heard about it because the thought of him doing that to himself depressed me. It never occurred to me that I had the same problems he did. Low self-esteem. Insecurity. Envy. Jealousy. Rage. Depression. I was a textbook example of a suicide waiting to happen. 

Schultz is a hidden treasure, and I’m not doing him justice. There is so much more. I get lost just exploring Schultz’s writing, and you should too, by looking around his site.


Government

No public meetings.


On campus

Everyone is getting vaccinated.


In the harbour

05:00: YM Moderation, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
06:00: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from anchorage to Pier 41
06:00: Seven Seas Navigator, cruise ship with up to 550 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from St. John’s, on a 20-day cruise from Amsterdam to New York
06:30: Ocean Force, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
15:00: YM Modesty, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
15:30: Seven Seas Navigator sails for Bar Harbor
16:30: Ocean Force sails for Saint-Pierre
16:30: YM Moderation sails for New York
22:30: St James, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Antwerp

Cruise ships this weekend:
Sunday: Zuiderdam, with up to 2,364 passengers
Monday: Zaandam,  with up to 1,718 passengers


Footnotes

The long Labour Day weekend strikes me as the end of summer, even though I know in the technical sense summer lasts until September 22 this year. By Tuesday, most everyone will have returned from summer vacations, the kiddies will be back in school, and the pace of life will quicken. We’ll have ice storms before you know it.

Summers are typically slow news-wise, too, but this past summer we’ve been quite busy at the Examiner. I’ve been focused on the wrongful conviction of Glen Assoun, Jennifer Henderson has followed a bevy of provincial issues, and El Jones had the lamentable task of bring us the news of Greg Hiles’ death. The Yarmouth ferry and healthcare issues were on Stephen Kimber’s plate, and Erica Butler followed big cycling announcements along with other transportation issues. Maggie Rahr gave us a harrowing story of police failing to police their own, and Joan Baxter kept us up to date on the mining industry. And so much more. It’s been a good summer for the Examiner.

And we have big plans for this fall and winter. I’m taking a very deep dive into an interesting journalism project, so expect to see lots of other writers for Morning File the next few months.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. The weird thing about white kitties on toilet paper is the message is basically if you could you would wipe your ass on this kitten, but our toilet paper is the next best thing. As soft as wiping your ass on a kitty!

  2. I’m guessing Whitman’s enthusiasm for Uber is part of his tech expert cred. Also, “interactive panel discussion.” What kind of discussion is not interactive? Does this just mean there will be a q&a?

  3. What plausible argument can be made for not having a public investigation when someone dies in custody? And what difference does it make why they are in custody?