News

1. Police budget

Police Chief Dan Kinsella. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The city’s board of police commissioners is recommending in favour of a $5.5 million cut to the Halifax Regional Police budget,” reports Zane Woodford:

Chief Dan Kinsella told the board this week that there will be no impact on public safety from the reduced spending, about $4 million of which comes from keeping 28 positions vacant, but there will be work that goes undone.

2. Summer camps

Kids at Halifax’s Adventure Earth Centre. Photo: Twitter/@hfxrec

“A former Halifax teacher is calling on the city to reinstate its summer camps for kids, cancelled last month due to COVID-19,” reports Zane Woodford:

JoAnn Murphy emailed Mayor Mike Savage and Coun. Waye Mason this week about the cancellation of summer recreation programming, arguing kids need camps now more than ever.

“Given the declining risk and the now desperate need for both parents and children to have some kind of safe relief after months of social isolation and no schooling, I feel strongly that the city should reconsider this decision,” Murphy wrote.

“HRM should play the role one would expect of a responsible municipal government in this difficult time.”

Summer recreation programming is “more essential than ever for children’s social development and mental and physical well-being,” Murphy wrote, and would help parents get back to work as the economy reopens.

“I’m really concerned about the kids who are in situations where there is not the support at home or the resources to be nurturing them, and particularly kids who are living in apartments and don’t have backyards and are unable to get out and move,” Murphy said in an interview. “I think there could be some pretty serious mental health issues if we don’t address this.”

The cancellation also represents another COVID-19 inequality. Kids whose parents can afford it will be able to send them to more expensive camps at the universities, which don’t appear to have been cancelled for July and August.

3. Owls Head

Owls Head. Photo Courtesy Vision Air

Yesterday, Chris Miller, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, received a stack of documents in response to a Freedom of Information requested related to the provincial sale of Owls Head, and tweeted about them.

You’ll recall that Owls Head, which was once listed as a potential future provincial park on the Eastern Shore, and which includes an area with a “globally rare” ecosystem, was delisted as a provincial property that will receive legal protection, so that it can be sold to a company called Lighthouse Links Development, which wants to turn it into a golf course.

The evaluation assessment for Owls Head.

Included in the documents Miller received was an “evaluation assessment” of the property, which found that the “highest and best use” of Owls Head “is for recreational or conservation purposes.”

And yet, negotiations with the development company’s secretary, Sean Glover, a lawyer with Cox & Palmer in Halifax, continued.

Miller found this remarkable request from Glover to the province:

As Miller notes, the request to conduct consultations with First Nations only after an agreement was signed with Lighthouse Links “sent off alarm bells in the bureaucracy,” and:

The Deputy Minister, to her credit, slams the door shut on that. But how the hell does the government continue to proceed with this negotiation after that, and without informing the public. Why such urgency to sell-off these public lands?

You’re probably now wondering who the “Beck” is that Glover referred to. Beck appears to be G. S. Beckwith Gilbert, the president of Lighthouse Links Development. He and his wife, Kitty, own 138 hectares next to the Owls Head property.

Gilbert is also, well, richer than sin.

Beck Gilbert is mentioned in a 2015 New York Times article headlined “The Price of Privilege.” Reporter

Thomas Gilbert Sr. had two sons, Thomas Gilbert Jr. and Beckwith. The former murdered their father, after dad cut his allowance. The numerous articles about Thomas Jr. portray him as slothful ne’er-do-well. He’s been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In contrast, Beckwith has done well, reported Landon Thomas:

Mr. Gilbert’s older brother, G. S. Beckwith Gilbert (Princeton ’63), became a successful leveraged buyout investor and prominent philanthropist who ran his own firm based in Greenwich, Conn.

Friends of Mr. Gilbert said that he had plans to build his hedge fund to a size of $1 billion, a heady goal for a man of that age. Still, he put in 12-hour days, worked the occasional weekend — when he was not playing golf, squash or tennis — and since the fund’s start, he had not taken a day’s vacation.

Beckwith Gilbert’s private equity firm is Field Point Capital Management Company. As it’s privately held, there’s not much information about it.

Beck is additionally the Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of PASSUR Aerospace, Inc., which, well, I’m not sure I understand what it does, but it involves using data to increase efficiencies in the air transport business. Last year, he lent the company nearly $7 million. He’s “also on the board of Cancer Research Institute, The Rockefeller University, Yale Cancer Center and Davidson Hubeny Brands and Chairman-Emeritus at Harvard Medical School and Member of Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.”

Beck lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. He’s got a 14,500-square foot, three-storey, six-bedroom, 11-bath house, which Zillow estimates is worth just over $16.5 million. It’s just down the road from Donald Trump’s first mansion. I can’t find any real estate photos of the Gilbert residence, but here’s the Google Satellite image:

So, Beck is successful. Very successful. Good for him.

But does he really need to make a few more coins by mucking up a nature preserve in Nova Scotia? Can’t he just get on the corporate teleporter and zoom up to Cabot Links for his 18 holes?

Oh, by the way, another Cox & Palmer lawyer, Michel Samson, a former cabinet minister in the McNeil government — he was the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism — has registered as a lobbyist for Lighthouse Links. One of the targets of Samson’s lobbying is the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), so not only is Beck Gilbert hoping to profit off despoiling some Nova Scotia nature, he apparently also wants the Canadian taxpayer to subsidize the effort.

4. Colin MacDonald

“In the early hours of February 23, 2018 an elderly, frail and confused inpatient on Unit 4C of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital got out of bed and tried to go home. He exited the Unit unseen via a fire door. The alarm did not go off. He left the building through an emergency exit on ground floor, made his way to a pedestrian walkway near an adjoining parking lot, and collapsed. He was discovered three hours later, by chance, by two nurses who had gone outside for a break. He died from hypothermia. He was Colin Francis MacDonald.”

So begins a decision by Judge A. Peter Ross, published Wednesday.

Judge Ross was considering the Crown’s case against Tammy Carrigan-Warner, a nurse on Unit 4C who was charged with using a forged document, a “check sheets / nursing flow sheets,” after the discovery of Colin MacDonald’s body. Ms Carrigan-Warner was represented by famed Halifax defence lawyer Joel Pink.

Ross explained the circumstances as follows:

At approximately 3:30 a.m. Mary Saltzman and Amy Susin, who were, with the defendant, working the overnight shift on Unit 4C, went to Ms. Susin’s car for a smoke break. They noticed a suspicious shape on the bridge. They were nervous about approaching the area so they went back inside to the Unit and looked down upon it from there. They were joined by other nursing staff. Someone called security. Within minutes of the body being discovered EHS staff were attending to Mr. MacDonald on the walkway. He was unresponsive. He was taken to the Emergency department but could not be revived.

Security footage, examined in subsequent days, revealed that Mr. MacDonald left the building at 12:35 a.m.. He was discovered shortly before 4:00 a.m.

Ross describes a frantic situation in the hospital, where nurses were told that they must “get their ducks in a row” and make sure the paperwork for the night was in order. Some nurses were too rattled to fill out their paperwork correctly, and:

During the group meeting at the nursing station Valerie MacGillivary said she “did not know what to do.” She had been assigned to Mr. MacDonald for that overnight shift. Mr. MacDonald was “her patient”; primary responsibility for his care rested with her. She was an LPN. She had never dealt with anything like this before. Simon MacDonald [another nurse on the floor] said she “looked scared” and couldn’t seem to answer questions about the deceased. She and the defendant were seen sitting side by side, making notations. As the responsible nurse for that patient she would normally do the charting but it appeared to Simon MacDonald that she “was in no condition to do it” and hence the defendant “took charge of this”. At this time Ms. Carrigan-Warner entered a note on Colin MacDonald’s chart indicating that she had seen him in his bed at 3:15 a.m. Other relevant observations had already been entered by Ms. MacGillivary but it is not clear on the evidence just when, in the sequence of events, hers were done. Authorship of the notes has been acknowledged by each of them.

Some days after MacDonald’s death, hospital administration checked surveillance video and discovered that he had left the hospital at 12:35am, and not immediately before his death, and yet MacGillivary had filled out paperwork saying she had made a bed check for MacDonald at 12:45am, and twice for 1:15am, and that Carrigan-Warner had filled out similar paperwork for 3:15am.

Both nurses were fired. MacGillivary was also charged for forging documents, and is being tried separately.

Carrigan-Warner’s 3:15am entry read “Patient resting quietly in bed with eyes closed. Will monitor.”

Carrigan-Warner’s defence was that she may have mistakenly noted a “wandering patient” — namely, Roy Garland — who somehow made it into MacDonald’s bed, and that’s who Carrigan-Warner had seen, and noted, at 3:15am. Wrote Judge Ross:

Adopting this view of the evidence, as applied to the theory of the Defence, it appears Roy Garland must have moved from his own bed to Colin MacDonald’s bed and back again once between 0015 and 0100, once again between 0100 and 0125, once again around 0200, and once again around 0300 (presumably having vacated bed 4147(1) before the search for Colin MacDonald was undertaken). On this view, Roy Garland changed beds four times in less than four hours and was never once seen doing so. I say this on the assumption that none of the staff would have knowingly allowed a patient to occupy the wrong bed. The possibility of Roy Garland going back and forth like this between 4150(4) and 4147(1) seems extremely remote, which in turn creates serious misgivings about Valerie MacGillivary’s testimony. Crown has described this elaborate choreography as “playing musical beds”.

The more times something so unusual is supposed to have occurred, the less likely it actually did. It is more plausible to suggest that a strange occurrence happened once than to suggest it happened four times (or three, or two).

Viewed in this way, Ms. MacGillivary’s evidence does not support the veracity of the defendant’s 0315 entry and the theory of the Defence. On the other hand, neither does Ms. MacGillivary’s evidence diminish the likelihood that on one occasion, at or about 0315, RG wandered out of his room and returned to the wrong bed. The entries of Ms. MacGillivary, however suspicious they may seem, do not undermine the Defence theory, either.

He concludes:

It seems odd that one patient would crawl into another patient’s bed, in a room not his own. It seems unlikely that a nurse familiar with this patient would mistake him for a different patient on the same Unit. It seems unusual that Ms. Carrigan-Warner would make a bed-check for a patient she was not assigned to, and for no particular reason. At the same time the possibility of an honest mistake has a foothold in the evidence. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a high bar to meet. In this case, I am left with some reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt.

The entry on the court’s record will be “not guilty”.

Carrigan-Warner’s fate aside, the circumstances of Colin MacDonald’s death will not likely instil further confidence in the institutional care for elderly people in Nova Scotia.


Government

No meetings.


In the harbour

04:00: AlgoCanada, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Montreal
06:00: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
13:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
13:00: AlgoNova, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
15:30: ZIM Luanda sails for New York
15:30: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
16:00: Taipei Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
22:30: Atlantic Star sails for Hamburg, Germany


Footnotes

I had a bunch of stuff about COVID and the mass murder to write about, but I ran out of time. I’ll try to get to both later today, or definitely over the weekend.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Pretty darn obvious that there is some level of corruption at play in the Owls Head sale. When things keep moving to meet the interest of someone that wealthy, against all imperical evidence an advice to the contrary, someone somewhere is being unduly influenced. This is an ecological disaster being planned and supported by the government which should be protecting this valuable habitat. Everyone should cut and paste the text of the CARP letter and send it to all influencers.

  2. “Kids whose parents can afford it will be able to send them to more expensive camps at the universities, which don’t appear to have been cancelled for July and August.”

    If the universities don’t think it is safe enough to run their own summer classes face to face then why do they think it’s acceptable to run summer camps for kids face to face?

    I’m surprised no one has asked that question yet.

    And it can’t be “because it provides income for university students”, because the federal government has provided supports for students to make MORE than many would normally make with their typical summer jobs (the student benefit + volunteering gets them $10k over the summer, more than many student summer jobs normally pay).

  3. Imagine it is 1800 and you have served the King in the British forces. You apply for 200 acres for you and your family. The Governor replies with an offer of 200 acres at Owls Head. Do you accept ?
    If you accept, and then hitch up a horse and wagon and along with the wife and kids head off to find your land, do you settle there ? Or, do you head back to town and tell the Governor there is nothing there except for trees and rocks and the land is the worthless, cannot be farmed, is windswept and then ask why has he has granted you land that is the worst in the province ?
    Or, if you are Scottish, do you tell the Governor you want money to build a golf course to attract the rich Yankees you fought against ?

  4. For those who want to contact Michael Sampson and dissuade him and his client from destruction of precious Nova Scotia habitat all in the service of white men with balls, you can reach him here:

    Michel Samson
    1100-1959 Upper Water Street
    Halifax, NS B3J 3N2
    Canada Telephone number: 902-227-5924

  5. Thanks for an excellent article on the Owl’s Head issue. You may be interested to know that on Feb 24, CARP Nova Scotia wrote to Minister Rankin as follows.
    “On behalf of CARP NS (formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons) we want you to know of our concern for the proposed development of Owl’s Head Park Reserve. We believe the proposed development is not in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia.

    A recent national survey of seniors by CARP showed that the top three concerns for seniors are:
    1) Financial Security
    2) Our Environment
    3) Health Security

    It may come as a surprise to you that concern about the environment is the #2 concern of CARP NS which is comprised of almost 10,000 members and their friends.

    An area like Owl’s Head has old, small trees and bogs, marshes, peat and wetlands that support an abundance of life and hold carbon in place while drawing down more CO2. Scientists have been working here for years and have identified rare plant species. Insects and migratory birds depend on these areas for their existence. Loss of insect life has been extreme on the planet and is leading to reduced pollination, necessary for plants to reproduce.

    Development of this area will lead to a great degree of soil disturbance, both at Owl’s Head and the area where the fill and top soils are taken from. Golf courses are the opposite of an environmentally friendly venture. The fertilizers and pesticides required to maintain a good golf course kill off native plants and insects and get into ground water that makes its way to the ocean, joining the nutrients that are washing out of the dead soil. This will affect the local ocean life, both plant and animal, and have repercussions throughout the ocean food chain.

    Health has always been a huge concern for seniors. Health is not simply defined by the state of the healthcare system. Health is also about maintaining independence, having access to healthy food, clean water, shelter, clothing appropriate to the weather and activity, access to places where exercise and meaningful activity can take place, access to nature and clear, fresh air. Taking care of seniors’ health includes taking care of our environment, the world we care about and the ones we love. Owl’s Head development is the opposite of taking care of seniors’ needs.

    What does CARP NS want to see happen in Nova Scotia?
    • First, we would like financial and planning transparency in matters concerning our environment.
    • Secondly, CARP NS wants transparency in matters that concern the use of our natural resources.
    • Thirdly, we urge the government departments and all MLAs to listen to their own scientists as well as other scientific experts who have been struggling to be heard on these issues.

    Most immediately, we want your Department and the Nova Scotia Government to put a stop to further development on Owl’s Head and return it to the status of a protected parkland reserve.

    James Boyer, Environment Chair
    CARP Nova Scotia Chapter (who can be contacted for more information at jasmboyer@gmail.com )

    CARP Nova Scotia is non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Nova Scotia’ promoting social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care, concern for our environment and freedom from discrimination. Our mandate is to promote and protect the interests, rights and quality of life for Canadians as we age. We have over almost 10.000 members in Nova Scotia age forty-five years and over.

    Addendum

    Climate change has been seen as a potential problem for many years, but the recent IPCC reports tell us that the changes are coming faster than even the most pessimistic scientists had expected. There is nearly complete consensus that if we do not stop emitting excess greenhouse gases and increase our ability to draw down CO2 from our atmosphere that the combination of average global temperature rise and the acidification as a result of the ocean taking up CO2 will bring about climate extremes that will lead to more and more species going extinct.

    The most efficient means to draw down CO2 is by having lots of trees and other plants. CO2 becomes part of the plants’ structures that require carbon, releasing O2 into the atmosphere that we can breathe. As the plants and trees die in place, they help create soil to grow more plants and trees. But living things need more than carbon. Some nutrients, like nitrogen, can be removed from the air by micro-organisms that live in the soil. That way cells can make the molecules, like proteins, that we need to survive. But some nutrients, like phosphate, are not found in the air, and need to be transported there by insects, birds and other animals. They either leave their excrement behind, which nourishes the soil, or they die and the large variety of organisms in the area use what they can, while the rest returns to the soil. Without wildlife, soil eventually dies and cannot support life. The carbon in soil takes the form of many molecules that are used by soil organisms. The phosphates play an essential role in molecules like adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

    When soil is disturbed for any reason, CO2 is released back into the atmosphere as those organisms die off. The phosphates in the soil wash away into ground water or streams and get transported to lakes and the ocean. When bodies of water are loaded with an abundance of nutrients, algae takes over. Algae block the sunlight from reaching plants growing beneath it, and as those plants die, they release more CO2 into the lake or ocean. Both the algae and the micro-organisms devouring dead algae deplete the water of oxygen. When some forms of algae are stressed, they produce toxins, threatening life in, on or near the water. The lost phosphates from land will be the limiting factor to life on land as we know it. The ongoing acidification of water releases phosphates in the lake or ocean floor, further adding to the over-abundance of algae. The acidity dissolves corals and the shells of crustaceans. Protecting our remaining wilderness areas is of utmost importance, according to the scientists who know best, and the UN has increased its target of protected wilderness from 13% to 30% to help maintain the balance of ecological systems on the planet. We can’t wait millions of years for the ocean floor to turn into phosphate rich, dry land again.

     Golf can be a good activity. Could a golf course be put in a less harmful place? Yes.
     Is it worth it to risk the environment that keeps living things living? No.
     Is it worth it to remove natural wilderness, wetlands and wildlife to build housing? No.
     Do we have plenty of areas, long past being wilderness, in which to build mixed housing and provide densification of our population instead of spreading out into areas needed for wildlife? Yes.

    Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora (ACPF) must be protected.
    In the words of Dr. Sherman Boates, Mgr. Wildlife Resource/Biodiversity, NS Dept. of Resources, Co-Chair of the ACPF Recovery Team, “When we take care of ACPF and other native plants, we take care of habitats that support many other animals and plants and processes that improve the quality of life for people. Healthy lakes, bogs, and other wetland systems, occupied by healthy native plant communities, contribute to the provision of clean water and air, insects and many other benefits.”

    1. Excellent letter. I celebrate CARP (of which I am a long-time member) for this work!

    2. So tired of this habit that have in this province. Greedy rich guys. No one shpuld be allowed to lobby for any party. Boy so disgusted.