News

1. Publication ban in Assoun case

The CBC’s efforts to lift a publication ban related to a report written by a government lawyer reviewing the Glen Assoun case have come to naught, as Justice James Chipman ruled that the publication stand will stand. Assoun is the man convicted of the brutal murder of Brenda Way in 1995. He has always maintained his innocence, and some unspecified “new evidence” has come to the attention of the Criminal Convictions Review Board.

There are important issues at play in this case, and I’ll have more to say about it later today.

2. Warm winter

David Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist, tells Metro that this winter will be a warm one:

“We know the water off the coast of Atlantic Canada is like a hot tub out there, it’s two, three, three and a half degrees warmer than it should be for this time of year. It’s huge,” said Phillips. “The early signs of winter can’t come if they’re going to be moderated by this warm water.”

3. On edge

Yesterday morning, someone reported seeing a man carrying a rifle downtown, police responded in force, and huge sections of downtown—including City Hall, the law courts building, Citadel High and Dal’s Sexton Campus—were locked down. Eventually a man was arrested and a gun found on a Metro Transit bus, but the man doesn’t fit the description of the man described as carrying the rifle, and who knows about the gun. No one has actually been charged with anything yet, so it’s hard to say what that was all about.

A partridge hunter spooked someone in Cow Bay, who called the cops. The cops said the hunter wasn’t causing any problems.

Students at Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre-Academy had to stay in the school long past last bell, to 4:30pm, because some hunters were in the nearby woods. The hunters weren’t causing any problems, said the cops, but people are worked up.

Students at New Glasgow Academy were sent home early after the school was locked down because some kid had toenail clippers. “No injuries were reported,” says Metro.

4. Wild Kingdom

One of the pilot whales, stuck in a marsh. Photo: Marine Animal Response Society

A pod of nine pilot whales got stuck in low, marshy water near Summerside. Most were able to find their way to deep water on their own, but two of the whales were beached and had to be saved by the Marine Animal Response Society.


Views

1. Remembrance Day

Lezlie Lowe says the shootings in Ottawa will make this year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies poignant.

2. More war

Will King, a Muslim, says the shootings in Ottawa will probably be used to justify more war, lining rich people’s pockets.

3. Cranky letter

Leonard MacNeil asks why the CBRM is dealing with Communist China. “In my opinion, [Mayor Cecil Clarke] has squandered our money to egotistically improve his image as a politician,” writes MacNeil. “It has not worked.”


Government

City

No public meetings.

Province

Legislature sits (9am-1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Open Access (1pm, Room 2616, Killam Memorial Library)—Nick Lindsay, Journals Director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, will talk about “Open Access at MIT Press: OA in a large university press.”

Thesis defence (2pm, Room 3107, The Mona Campbell Building)—PhD candidate Seyednaser Nourashrafeddin will defend his thesis, “Interactive Term Supervised Text Document Clustering.”

STI Research (4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Building)—STI is “sexually transmitted infections.” The promo for this event explains that:

King Holmes, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Global Health; Director, Research and Faculty Development, Department of Global Health; Professor of Medicine; Adjunct Professor of Microbiology & Epidemiology; Director, Center for AIDS Research, University of Washington; Chief, Infectious Diseases, Harborview Medical Centre will be presenting to faculty, staff and medical students on “STI Research: Major progress, current challenges and future opportunities”.

Saint Mary’s

International Development (noon, McNally Main 227)—Ye Jingzhong, from the China Agricultural University, will talk on “Land, Labour and Agriculture in China’s Process of Agrarian Change and Capitalist Development.”


Noticed

Richard Florida

I like living in the city. There’s lots going on, there are lots of different kinds of people to interact with, I can walk or take the bus most places I need to go, there are interesting artistic and musical communities, and so forth. Yeah, city.

But there’s a kind of urban boosterism that annoys me. In the course of my life I’ve lived in big cities, small towns, rural areas, and the suburbs. Each sort of place has its up and down sides, and people decide to live where they live for a whole host of reasons: where they grew up, to be close to family, because there’s work to be found, their own lifestyle preferences, and just plain life circumstances. Wherever I’ve lived there have been good people and bad people, but mostly people are just trying to survive. To each their own. There’s no moral value in living in one sort of place over living in another.

And yet, there’s a strand of urban boosterism that puts issues in moral terms. It’s not enough to say we should build better cities with better transit and parks and so forth. This strand of urban boosterism also needs to cast living in the suburbs as an ethical issue. Suburbanites’ houses are too far apart, therefore we spend too much in tax dollars running a snow plow down their street. They have to drive everywhere, therefore they’re adding to global warming. You’ve heard all the arguments.

There’s a small kernel of truth to some of these arguments, but they don’t wash in a full examination. I don’t know that someone living in the suburbs and commuting 20 kilometres a day to a warehouse job in Burnside is doing any more harm to the environment than someone living in downtown Halifax, walking everywhere, but eating sushi twice a week flown in from Japan and taking multiple international flights as part of their job. To isolate the commute out of the full spectrum of life is unfair.

And for better or worse, people live in the suburbs mainly because that’s what they can afford, and that’s where their jobs are. We’ve created an economy dependent upon consumer spending, and so most of the jobs and most of the tax receipts come from Burnside and Bayers Lake, where most of the workers and most of the shoppers are coming from the suburbs.

Of course we’ve spent the last 50 years neglecting our cities and urban cores, and we subsidized the rapid growth of the suburbs with heavily subsidized highways, tax breaks, land giveaways and more. It’s been bad policy, and a more sensible path should be followed moving forward. But we can’t change this on a dime. We can’t castigate people for making life choices that matched the prevailing economic and social ethic of the time. For example, one aspect of the failed “tax reform” strategy a few years ago was a sense that suburbanites should be punished for living in the suburbs. Never mind that the actual result of the proposed changes would’ve been to increase the taxes of working class homeowners living in densely populated suburbs like Sackville and slashing taxes on the wealthy living in sprawling Kingswood.

I’ve been thinking about these issues lately for a couple of reasons. One, Richard Florida has been interviewed by the Tyee. Florida is a not very bright fellow with a “creative class” schtick that has landed him huge speaking and consulting fees and prompted city governments to spend money on a bunch of stuff that mostly doesn’t work. Anyway, Tyee writer Geoff Dembicki went to hear Florida talk in Vancouver:

[Florida] argued that about one-third of the jobs being created in cities like Vancouver are in creative fields. “They’re really good jobs,” he said. “The baseline of those jobs is now close to six figure incomes.”

That certainly didn’t sound like the “creatives” I know in Vancouver: the musicians, artists, writers, activists, designers and small business owners struggling to make rent in an expensive city seemingly hell bent on squeezing them out.

Dembicki interviewed Florida after the talk, and Florida rewrote labour history:

“If you think about it in comparative historical terms, when we talked about a working class, it was a very broad group of people. There were the skilled workers… who sometimes owned their own companies… and many times made good wages, but they looked down at the large mass of industrial workers… During the Great Depression they decided they were actually part of the same working class, the same group of people who work with their physical labours, and they made one class and they upped the position of all.”

This is why Florida so annoys me: his theories take agency and power away from poor people. Unions were not successful because comparatively wealthy people deigned to come help out the poor factory workers, as a selfless act of charity, I guess. No, factory workers themselves, yep, those ignorant non-creative masses, organized and put their very lives on the line to achieve economic justice. To reframe that as Florida does is insulting, to put it mildly.

After years and years of being criticized for ignoring the poor, Florida finally seems to have a dim understanding that the condition of the poor needs to be addressed, and his solution, such as it is, is that “creatives” are going to help waitresses achieve a better economic position, again, a selfless act of charity. I guess it’s better than nothing.

The other thing that has me thinking about urban boosterism is… well, that’ll have to wait.


In the harbour

The seas in Atlantic Canada, 5:30am Friday.

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)

Arrivals

Regatta, cruise ship, Sydney to Pier 22
Atlantic Erie, bulker, Saint Jean, Quebec to National Gypsum
Fusion, conro, Saint-Pierre to Pier 36
Seoul Express, Container, New York to Fairview Cove West

Departures

Zeelandia to Rotterdam
Regatta to Bar Harbor
Fusion to Saint-Pierre


Footnotes

Nova Scotia Business, Inc. is going to New York.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. You are right about Florida, he oversimplifies and dehistorizes in a way that maddeningly ignores the actual social conditions of everyday life and the way various forces “produce” a given space either through development or deindustrialization for sake of a romanticization of the “creative.” Sadly, I have seen his banal book on the shelf of more than one university administrator.

  2. There are some legitimate concerns re hunters and schools (don’t know the specifics of the Cape Breton case). When my kids attended their small, rural elementary, hunters could occasionally be seen much closer to the school than they were legally allowed to be. There were also reports of shots fired fairly close to the school a couple of times. So yeah, that can be a problem, but it’s a problem that can be solved without locking everything down.

    1. The school in Cape Breton is off the side of the Cabot Trail and placed between a few communities. It’s basically in the middle of the woods, at the opening of a large glen into the Highlands. Its modern appearance and the cropped photo being circulated makes it look like it could be in a more urban location.

      A fella could be safely hunting miles away, and the sound of a shot would carry out to the road like a big echo. Those hunters could have been 10kms away, up on the plateau 1000′. Been there, heard it before, its common.

      No comment on the lock-downs, just a little better understanding of the lay of the land up there.

  3. Good analysis of urban boosterism. One of the most consistent indicators of negative environmental impact is wealth, i.e. the wealthiest quintile of society tends to have the largest environmental footprint, regardless of where their gigantic houses are located.

  4. Great comments on urban boosterism. Looking forward to you other thoughts.

    Re the lockdown event downtown yesterday: Someone on Twitter described Halifax as having “crisis envy” — pretty apt, I’d say.

  5. Now that everyone is on edge and crying wolf at the drop of a hat, I wonder how long it will take for the pendulum to swing back to the other extreme again.