News
Views
Noticed
Government
On campus
In the harbour
Footnotes


News

1. Perceptions

Danger Party. Photo: Swoop Entertainment
Danger Party. Photo: Swoop Entertainment

“Trevor Silver believes a decision by Argyle Grill and Bar to cancel his upcoming party is an after-effect of recent gun violence, which claimed the lives of four black men, including from a shooting death in his home community,” reports Elizabeth Chiu for the CBC:

Silver, who grew up in North Preston, just finished his first year at Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law, and he’s turning 26.

But on Tuesday he was told that the party he’s been planning since March was cancelled.

“With all the violence and stuff in the news, people getting shot and stabbed that they don’t want that crowd at their venue,” Silver told CBC News of his conversation with bar management.

“So I said, ‘It’s basically because I’m black. You don’t want the blacks’.”

The company flatly denies the allegation. Urbansparq Hospitality, an Edmonton-based business, took over operations on Monday. 

“It’s absolutely 100 per cent not discrimination,” said Dan Crerar, urbansparq’s assistant operations manager, who is new to Halifax.

Go to the link for Chiu’s full reporting on the perceptions at play: bar staff feeling “afraid” after a similar party last year, but there were no police calls to the bar for that party.

I don’t know anything of this situation beyond what Chiu has reported, but I can say this: while naked racism exists to a disturbing degree in our society, the corporate world is generally too sophisticated to use the bald and direct language of racism. Rather, racism is expressed in embedded beliefs and normalized behaviours.

Let’s change the race calculation and see how we would think: What would be the reaction if the Sigma Chi frat house wanted to host a party in a downtown bar? Would concerns for “safety” rise to the level of cancelling the event in the wake of the murder of Taylor Samson, when the frat was said to be “practically in the crossfire of a drug war”?

That’s not a hypothetical question: — I see that Pacifico hosted Sigma Chi’s “Purple Party” on November 27, about three months after Samson’s murder. There’s no word if bar staff were afraid.

2. Cornwallis

1

“Halifax council will consider a proposal to scrub the city of the name of its controversial founder, Edward Cornwallis,” reports Adina Bresge for the Canadian Press:

Councillor Waye Mason plans to bring forward a motion on municipal “commemorations” of Nova Scotia’s first governor, including a park and a street bearing Cornwallis’s name.

A spokesperson for Mayor Mike Savage said Thursday he supports the motion’s introduction, which will likely come next week.

The proposal comes in response to campaigns throughout the province to remove Cornwallis’s name from public places in light of his treatment of Indigenous people.

3. Steele

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 7.42.31 AM

“A Halifax man who runs a satire website has received a cease and desist letter from a lawyer representing a car dealership he mocked for their expansion plans,” reports Chris Lambie for Local Xpress:

Matt Brand — who writes at brandreview.ca — posted a piece this week about Halifax Honda, which has come under fire recently for expansion plans in the city’s north end that involve demolishing several residential properties.

Steele Group Launches Hondas Not Homes Campaign was the tongue-in-cheek headline on the story. “In direct response to the Homes Not Hondas Campaign, the Steele Auto Group has countered by launching a campaign of their own: Hondas not Homes.”

Brand has since removed the story from his site.

At a paper I worked for in a galaxy far, far away, I proposed that since our weekly edition fell on April 1, we should make the entire edition an April Fools Day prank, with ridiculous mocking and self-mocking stories throughout. I think there’s an important role for satire, especially at the community level, and if we can’t laugh at ourselves, well, we’re pretty darned pathetic people. Alas, one of my colleagues insisted that if we pursued such a course, we label everything “satire” so that there would be no question about it. That in my mind was a deal-breaker, so I dropped the suggestion. I think we went with “Best Meals Under 46 Cents” instead.

Anyway, I enjoy Brand’s humour, and sometimes link to it here. I’ve gotten a few complaints from readers who don’t get the satire — they think he’s reporting real quotes — so maybe my former colleague was wiser than I gave her credit for.

I’m one of those people who have dozens and dozens of open windows on my laptop, and so weirdly Brand’s “Steele Group Launches Hondas Not Homes Campaign” page is still open on my laptop this morning, even though it’s been taken down from the internet. It’s an obviously absurd premise, and I’m not sure how anyone could take it seriously (but then again, those readers who don’t get satire…). For instance, Brand wrote this:

In direct response to the Homes not Hondas campaign, the Steele Automotive group has countered by launching a campaign of their own: Hondas not Homes.

[…]

After people in the community started the Homes not Hondas group, the Steele group decided to fire back, noting that residents in North End Halifax have made this issue all about them.

“This isn’t about them. This is about people living outside of the area, coming here, looking to get a great lease price on our spectacular line-up of 2016 Hondas,” says Rob Steele, president of Steele Automotive Group.

Brand apparently went so far as to create and link to a fake Facebook Page for the “Hondas not Homes” campaign, which has also since been taken down.

So, for the record, Rob Steele did not actually say the above quote, nor did Steele Auto Group create a “Hondas not Homes” Facebook page, but there is truth to the notion that selling Hondas is more important to Steele than saving the homes around the dealership — I mean, the demolition permits Steele has acquired for the homes make that self-evidently true. And Steele was so ruffled by some random guy pointing that out satirically that he sicced a lawyer on him.

We’ve become a stupid society.

4. Beer Garden

Bar Stillwell is preparing to open a beer garden on Spring Garden Road, next to Bookmark, on the lot that was left vacant after City Pizza burned down in 2008 and has been an eyesore ever since. The lot is an L-shape, stretching around the Eastlink phone store on the corner, and up to South Park Street. The garden will sit directly under My Father’s Moustache’s rooftop patio, so complaints about noise seem misplaced.

Reports Paul Palmeter for the CBC:

Barebeque, baked goods and coffee will be for sale. The tiny Steve-o-Reno’s drive-thru building, which used to be outside the former Robie Street Rona, will be resurrected on the site.

It will be turned into a dairy bar.

“This one has won out because it’s a great shape, it’s a great size,” said [Stillwell co-owner Chris] Reynolds. 

“We really like what we think will happen when we put the beer garden in that location because it’s very urban, it’s a different vibe from the waterfront for sure.”


Views

1. Violence in nursing homes

Richard Starr does some frightening math:

On Sunday, one day before the legislature was to begin examination of the $4 billion estimates of the Department of Health and Wellness, [Canadian Press reporter Michael] Tutton reported on the results of a request for information on deaths in nursing homes due to violence from other residents. The number that came back from the chief medical examiner in response to his request was eight since 2008 – one that year, one in 2009, two in 2011, one in 2012, one in 2013 and two in 2015.

[…]

In the aftermath of Tutton’s report… [Health Minister Leo] Glavine appeared to minimize the violence issue, implying that one death a year is no big deal. “We average one death a year at a nursing home, but if one death can be prevented that’s the course of actions that we need to take,” he said reassuringly to the CBC.

There was quite a different reaction in Ontario last year from a review committee of the Ontario chief coroner’s office, which called the incidence of homicides in that Province’s long-term care facilities an “urgent and persistent issue.” There were eight in 2015 and five the previous year. As reported by the London Free Press, an advocate for the elderly, calculating the homicide rate for the province’s 80,000 nursing home residents declared: “If this were a city, people would be going crazy…there is a culture of indifference.”

Interesting point. For cities, provinces or countries, StatsCanada calculates homicide rates per 100,000 population. Using that measure, the homicide rate in Ontario nursing homes last year was 10.0 – eight per 80,000. For Ontario as a whole in 2014 the homicide rate was just 1.13 per 100,000. But StatsCanada only counts homicides where charges are laid, so it’s an apples-and-oranges comparison.

In Nova Scotia, an average of one death per year for a nursing home population of 6,900 works out to a rate per 100,000 of 14.5. Last year, with two homicides in nursing homes, the rate was 29.0 – almost three times the level at which the aforementioned Ontario advocate for the elderly suggested people would be driven crazy. And that’s comparing apples and apples.

2. Open meetings

Kevin McNamara, the former Deputy Minister of Health and now with CARP NS (formerly called the Canadian Association of Retired Persons), argues that meetings of the boards for the IWK and the Nova Scotia Health Authority should be open to the public, as at least some of the predecessor boards’ meetings were before the creation of the merged Health Authority:

I recently went on the Nova Scotia Health Authority website to see if their board minutes were published. I contacted the health authority about this a few months ago and they said they might consider it.

I believe this board and the board of the IWK should go further and have open board meetings, which even the press could attend.

When I was CEO of South Shore Health, board meetings were open to the public and the press. This was a policy put in place prior to my tenure and it worked very well. It was an opportunity to advise the public of issues they should be aware of and an opportunity to educate.

It was a chance for the chair and CEO reports to be made public. Further, financial statements were public information on a monthly basis.

Listening to the Auditor General report last week, the record of both authorities in meeting recommendations was poor. Items such as this would be addressed monthly and would keep public attention on progress.

The board can go in-camera for issues such as personnel matters and budget preparations, consider advice to cabinet until approved by government. Otherwise, there is no reason for board meetings to be closed.

If this could be done successfully at South Shore Health, it can be done successfully at the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK. It is time to inform the public, especially where the Department of Health and Wellness has abdicated some of its accountability and responsibility and turned it over to the DHAs

Yes, indeed. And while we’re on the subject of open meetings, can someone explain to me why board meetings of the Halifax Water Commission, the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission, and the newly created Halifax Convention Centre are not open to the public?

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

Spring is here and all the “litter” the litterbugs have thrown out their windows is all over our once beautiful roadsides.

All along the highways leading into North Sydney, Sydney Mines and area is disgraceful. What is wrong with people? They have no respect for themselves, so therefore have none for their surroundings.

Since we no longer have clean up crews in our town, maybe store owners and businesses could sweep their sidewalks, homeowners clean their drains of garbage.

The roadways, let’s leave that problem to our mayor, Cecil Clarke. He has been good at taking from our community. Let’s see if he will share some of the money he invests in Sydney to clean our communities up.

Please folks, take some pride in the Northside. Cruise ships don’t come into our town but that doesn’t mean we’re any less important.

Zelda Smith, Sydney Mines


Noticed

The Jane’s Walks, named after urbanist Jane Jacobs, are this weekend.

What’s a Jane Walk?:

Jane’s Walks are free, locally organized walking tours, in which people get together to explore, talk about and celebrate their neighbourhoods. Where more traditional tours are a bit like walking lectures, a Jane’s Walk is more of a walking conversation. Leaders share their knowledge, but also encourage discussion and participation among the walkers.

A Jane’s Walk can focus on almost any aspect of a neighbourhood, and on almost any topic you can think of.Walks can be serious or funny, informative or exploratory; they can look at the history of a place, or at what’s happening there right now.  Anyone can lead a walk — because everyone is an expert on the place where they live!

Some examples: A walk in Colchester, England was led by two brothers, aged 6 and 4, who showed walkers around their favourite park and shared interesting historical facts about the local castle. In Ljubljana, Slovenia, a city councillor came on a walk to discuss the history and potential future of the area around a stalled construction site. In the heart of Toronto, Canada, a Queer Newcomer Youth walk was led by a group of young people who had all arrived in the city recently, but had found a welcoming community there. In Calcutta, India, a group set out to explore the wetlands at the city’s edge.

Locally, there are 20 walks; you can find them all listed here. A couple I’d like to draw attention to are Adrienne Lucas Sehatzadeh’s A Walk “Up the Avenue” walk — Sehatzadeh wrote her masters thesis on the African Nova Scotian community that was once at the top of Crichton Avenue in Dartmouth — and Stephen Archibald’s Around the Busches, because everything Archibald does is interesting.


Government

City

No public meetings.

Province

Legislature sits (9am-9pm, Province House)


On Campus

Nothing interesting is going on on campus today. More summer classes start soon and the events will pick up.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Friday. Map: marinetraffic.com
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Friday. Map: marinetraffic.com

6am:Atlantic Conveyor, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
7:20am: Dinkeldiep, general cargo, arrives at Pier 42 from Saint-Pierre
7:45am: Algoma Dartmouth, tanker, moves from Pier 34 to MacAsphalt
3pm: Atlantic Conveyor, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove to sea
4:30pm: Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
4:30pm: Dinkeldiep, general cargo, sails from Pier 41 for Saint-Pierre

A reader makes me aware of this cool graphic put together by Kiln Digital, which shows the global shipping traffic in 2012:


Footnotes

I’ve been working on a few projects. Maybe one of them will come to fruition today.

Tim Bousquet

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

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12 Comments

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  1. I have no personal opinion either way on the Cornwallis issue. But I have recently spent a lot of time in Ukraine, where the current government is removing or changing all things Russian, including street names (in some cases, family names!), destroying statues, trying to eliminate the use of the Russian language (which is the language of choice in SE Ukraine), not only in official work, but in public places like shops, bars, etc. To me, history is history, and trying to revise it is a foolish game, which often has unintended consequences.

    1. I have to agree about the Cornwallis statue – I’m in favour of some sort of change that acknowledges that we think about things differently than most of our ancestors did in Cornwallis’ time, but the notion of simply replacing the statue and renaming the things named after the likes of Cornwallis disturbs me. The notion that we can arrive at some perfect place by simply making everything we don’t like illegal and by erasing anything that offends us is not a new one, and it never leads anywhere good.

      Nearly everyone in the developed world is the beneficiary of some sort of colonialism and the attendant injustices are no different today than they were in Cornwallis’ time – maybe well meaning lefties should look in a mirror before they complain about what someone did centuries ago.

        1. So rename the streets and the town but leave the monuments. Add a plaque that details more of Cornwallis’ history. Something like:

          Bigot. Racist (and probably a slave owner). Enthusiastic practitioner of genocide against the native population of Nova Scotia. Offered bounty, etc.

          We can neither escape nor erase our history but we can acknowledge it’s horrors. Perhaps it would make some people think about not repeating those horrors but I won’t hold my breath.

          1. A plaque detailing Cornwallis’ history (the unglorified version) is an excellent idea.

  2. Yes, they are urban redecorating through beer goggles, you won’t mind so much about the destruction of your Downtown if you are experiencing our famous Nova Scotian over drinking at our new fantastic BEER GARDEN, we’re growin’ bad robots, with the hips and the hops that the youngsters love, oh it will be so great for business.

  3. If the Argyle was truly concerned over issues from Silver’s party last year they never should have accepted his booking and taken his deposit for this party.

    1. Ryan, it would appear that TWO circumstances are at play which you ignored.
      #1 NEW management (who are not bound by previous owners’ lack of caution);
      #2 the app-arently nasty circumstances at the previous «party» this celebration-obsessed individual mounted.

      In order to avoid trouble and costly damage, management has the right to decline service based on previous unacceptable behaviour. If there had been reasonably civilised behaviour at the previous event I’m sure the new owners would have been more than pleased to have the business. However it appears that this is NOT the case. That the DEPOSIT be refunded is, of course, de rigueur.

      1. … except that there’s not a shred of proof to substantiate the new management’s assertion of previous bad behaviour. The decision was made by virtue of a couple anecdotes. There were no police reports and there’s no mention of any injuries, not paying the bill, property damages…

        The management in place at the time of the first party was willing to host it again this year. That speaks volumes as to the true motive behind the new management’s refusal.

  4. The Shipping traffic graphic map was provided by Halifax’s ‘Mapman’ – his handle. Some may know who that is!

  5. In a day and age of scrupulously guarded and manufactured brand identity the brand is everything.

    Anything that sullies the brand must be attacked, ridiculed and litigated. Voices are silenced, dissent is stamped out.

    Is bald faced fascism far behind? Are we living in an age of corporate facism? Will the editor of this fine newspaper censor me if I were to call Colonial Honda and the Steele group facists for fear that they might litigate?

    Free speech?

  6. I am planning to purchase a new car this fall…and you can be goddamn sure I won’t be purchasing another Honda nor anything from Steele. While I really don’t care if Halifax becomes a giant parking lot, companies that bully others are not companies that I want to support.