1. McNeil government

Premier Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Writes Stephen Kimber:

I had been hoping to say something positive about Stephen McNeil’s government — it is, after all, the season of speaking positively — but as soon as I began to put electronic keyboard to computer-screen praise, his government inevitably did one more something that was so bone-headed, so egregious, so cringe-worthy, I couldn’t help but revert to my natural nattering-nabob-of-negativism self.

I will — I promise — say something nice before this column reaches its -30-.

But first, there’s these…

Click here to read “‘Tis the season to say something positive.”

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2. Gangrene

East Coast Forensic Hospital. Photo: NSHA

“People in the mental health community who are close to family members of a 45-year-old man are speaking out after the man was admitted to hospital with gangrene in his stomach,” reports El Jones:

The patient, who lives with schizophrenia, has been in and out of the East Coast Forensic Hospital for the past 20 years. Family members have requested that the man remain anonymous at present to preserve his dignity and humanity while he is being treated.

According to members of the family of the man with gangrene, while he was a patient at the East Coast Forensic Hospital, the man underwent surgery for hernias. He was placed into a “quiet room” (the hospital’s term for segregation) and nobody checked on his incisions. Despite the man’s mental health history, no nurse was assigned to monitor his wounds. He was released from segregation two to three weeks ago and discharged into the community with no follow-up. The family say his condition upon release was “horrific”; even his toe nails had not been cut.

The surgical wounds were infected, and the man was rushed to hospital where he was admitted to the ICU. He has since undergone multiple surgeries. The infection had progressed to the point that gangrene developed in the wounds. When members of the family questioned how the facility could not have noticed such a severe infection — a condition that smells like rotting flesh — they allege that they were told that people with schizophrenia do not clean themselves well, and so staff could not tell there was a problem.

This case comes three months after the death by suicide of Greg Hiles, another ward of the hospital. Additionally, reports Jones, a fungal skin infection is spreading in the adjacent Burnside jail. She continues:

The refusal of the province to investigate these facilities even when deaths occur indicates that the neglect is not just limited to staff in the facilities, but goes to the highest levels in this province. If deaths are not enough, and patients ending up in critical care is not enough, what level of suffering should we expect and tolerate before somebody looks into the conditions in these institutions?

Click here to read “A case of gangrene raises health concerns at the East Coast Forensic Hospital.”

3. Cryptocurrency

Quadriga cofounder Lovie Horner

Lawyers representing people with claims against Quadriga CX cryptocurrency exchange want the RCMP to dig up Quadriga founder Gerald Cotten’s body because, they say, there is a “need for certainty around the question of whether Mr. Cotten is in fact deceased.”

Andrew D. Wright provided a primer on the Quadriga saga for the Examiner in February.

The lawyers want Cotten’s body exhumed and an autopsy performed “by Spring of 2020, given decomposition concerns.”

In other local cryptocurrency news, GNF, a holding company controlled by real estate mogul Navid Saberi, is asking the court to freeze the Nova Scotia assets of Hyperblock, an Ontario-based cryptocurrency company. Earlier this year, Hyperblock bought Blockchain Dynamics, a local company founded by Christopher McGarrigle, for $30 million.

According to a brief filed in Supreme Court last week, in January 2018, Blockchain signed a five-year lease with GNF for a commercial space at Unit 102, 647 Bedford Highway. The lease was valued at $132,300 per year plus HST, to be paid in monthly instalments. GNF said it refitted the space for Blockchain at a cost of $15,360.13, plus HST.

GNF’s brief says Blockchain Dynamics made the monthly payments through December 2018. The brief says that Hyperblock bought Blockchain Dynamics in December, but the sale wasn’t announced publicly until March.

“As part of its purchase of Blockchain, Hyperblock agreed to assume Blockchain’s existing liabilities, including its leasehold oblications to GNF,” reads GNF’s brief:

Shortly after purchasing Blockchain, Hyperblock would begin efforts to “wind up” Blockchain, integrating its assets and personnel into Hyperblock’s existing operation.

Hyperblock would fail to make the contractually-required rental payment for May 2019, totaling $14,863.75. Note: Hyperblock did render payment on its leasehold obligations through April 2019, reflecting an acknowledge of its legal responsibilities under the lease.

GNF says it intends to bring suit for rent due, but there’s a more pressing issue right now: “Like Blockchain, Hyperblock is in the business of cryptocurrency.”

The “combination of anonymity and a lack of oversight has made cryptocurrency networks a primary tool of bad actors,” reads the brief.

Hyperblock, the brief continues, has never provided banking information to GNF, but has instead paid its rent through e-transfers. The fear is laid out as follows:

Hyperblock’s operations in the cryptocurrency business, and their deep understanding of same, constitutes a sufficient threat that their assets could be arranged, through the cryptocurrency industry — knowledge of, and experience in, which is entirely in their hands — so as to defeat GNF’s efforts to collect upon any judgment issued against them.

Further, Hyperblock has every ability to place its assets beyond the read of any court to access, by and through the nature of the cryptocurrency business.

Therefore, GNF is requesting a court order freezing Hyperblock’s assets in Nova Scotia, valued up to $150,000. It’s not clear if any such assets exist, but an affidavit signed by GNF general manger Michael Quigley says that Hyperblock hasn’t returned the keys to the Bedford Highway property.

None of the claims have been tested in court.

4. Child porn

In February, police charged former Hal-Con board member Phillip Travers Milo with possessing and distributing child pornography, causing understandable worry in the Hal-Con community, as Milo was often around children.

Last week, responding to a request from Milo’s defence lawyer, the court unsealed the search warrant that led to the charges, so that the “defence can make full answer and defence to the charges.” As a result, the document is now public, and the Halifax Examiner has obtained a copy of it.

The “Information to Obtain” (ITO) asking for the warrant spells out what led to the charges against Milo. The ITO was authored by Jennifer Murray, a Halifax cop with the Internet Child Exploitation Unit in the province of Nova Scotia.

Murray writes that Facebook alerted the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC), a policing agency based in Ottawa, that on February 5, 2018 Milo had uploaded “an explicit image of a naked prepubescent female, standing in a posed position.” The NCECC then alerted Halifax police, who estimated the girl in the photo was “between 7-9 years of age and that the image meets the definition of child pornography.”

The ITO does not say whether Milo posted the photo to Facebook, or if Facebook was somehow aware that he had uploaded it somewhere else on the internet. Milo’s Facebook page has been deleted.

Facebook said the photo was uploaded via an IP address that police determined to be attached to the upstairs unit of a duplex on Newbery Street in the far north end of Halifax that Milo was renting. The search warrant, which was granted, allowed the police to seize from the apartment all computer equipment and any printed material that might depict child pornography.

The charges against Milo have not been tested in court.

5. Prince Andrew

Lolita Express High School, Dartmouth

“It’s best known as P.A., but officially the 59-year-old Dartmouth, N.S., high school carries the name of Prince Andrew, a now-disgraced member of the Royal Family,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:

Whether the school should continue to carry his name will be discussed at a public meeting scheduled for Jan. 20.

Principal Brad McGowan requested the issue be added to the agenda the next time the school advisory council meets.

“We’ve had some inquiries with the appropriateness of the name, so I think it’s my responsibility to go to the community and say, ‘Does this name continue to reflect the community?’” he said. 

A woman has accused Prince Andrew of having sex with her when she was 17. Virginia Roberts Giuffre said she was forced to have sex with Andrew in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island between 1999 and 2002, when she claims late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein kept her as a “sex slave.”

I keep saying: we shouldn’t name stuff after people at all, but certainly not people who are still alive, and my dog, babies? There’s no telling what kind of monster that child will turn into. If we absolutely must name stuff after people, wait until they’re dead and gone and a generation or two has had time to consider their full legacy. Then, and only then, name your school after the person.

6. Blueberries

I have no idea why this photo is in our photo library.

A news release from the Department of Agriculture from Friday:

The Department of Agriculture and the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia are working together to support innovation and find new markets for our provincial fruit — the wild blueberry.

The Wild Blueberry Innovation Challenge was launched today, Dec. 13, to support new, innovative packaging and value-added food products that use wild blueberries. 

“Nova Scotia’s wild blueberry sector has tremendous growth potential so we are helping the industry explore innovation that can open new markets around the world, for both frozen and fresh food products,” said Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell. “This can bring more jobs and economic prosperity to rural communities.”

Eligible applicants to the challenge can qualify for up to $126,000, which can be used to help grow their sales, pursue new export markets and develop new products that will bring higher prices for their berries.

Successful applicants will work to commercialize their products with food scientists and technicians at Perennia, Nova Scotia’s development agency supporting sustainability and competitiveness in the province’s agriculture and seafood sectors.  

Wouldn’t it be cleaner to skip the “contest” and just give the money directly to John Bragg?

7. Don Tremaine

Don Tremaine has died:

Tremaine, 91, hosted CBC Radio’s Information Morning in Halifax from 1971 until his retirement in 1987. He was also known for being an announcer on Don Messer’s Jubilee.

According to Don Connolly, his friend and long-time Information Morning co-host, Tremaine had a stroke several days ago and died Sunday morning.

Connolly said Tremaine was “a very private man and a very modest man, and he would not … want me to kind of gush about him.”

I’ll gush about him.

When I moved to Dartmouth in 2004, Don Tremaine happened to be my new next door neighbour. He was absolutely the best next door neighbour anyone could ask for (no offence to my current next door neighbours, who are wonderful).

I remember I was out digging my garden, and Don leaned against the fence laughing at me: “This isn’t California!” he hooted. “No one grows a garden here.” So we started talking about this and that, and so we got to know each other a bit.

Don always had a quip, always a kind word. We’d had him and his wife Jean over for drinks, and he was full of stories. My favourite: He said the day he retired, the CBC had a big to-do, inviting the public, and so forth. Don took the ferry over, which was full of school kids. Don, always looking to talk, asked one of the kids: “Where you heading, youngster?” The kid replied, “I don’t know, something about an old guy.” Don laughed and laughed; I can hear him now.

Their house became too much for them, so Don and Jean settled for the summer in their North Shore cottage and for the winter got an apartment in that building overlooking the MicMac Mall. A few times, I’d drive over for something at Kent, park in the lot, and Don somehow saw me from his fifth or sixth floor balcony and would yell down at me. Always funny shit.

I’d run into Jean from time to time at the Superstore, and she’d have the exactly right kind word for me.

I’ll remember them as among the nicest, funniest, most good-willed people I’ve ever known.

8. Sulphur dioxide

The Tufts Cove power plant in Dartmouth does not burn coal. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“There was a blast from the past this week when Jennifer Henderson reported for the Halifax Examiner that the McNeil government is intending to let Nova Scotia Power increase its emissions of sulphur dioxide, aka SO2,” writes Richard Starr:

At present, NSP’s sulphur dioxide emissions are capped at 72,000 tonnes a year. They were to be reduced to 36,250 tonnes in 2020 and an average of 34,000 a year from 2021-24. But NSP revealed to the utility board that the province intends to amend its Air Quality Regulations to allow 60,900 tonnes in 2020 and an average of 45,000 tonnes a year in 2021 and 2022.*

More than 30 years ago, emissions of SO2, rather than greenhouse gasses, gripped the body politic. SO2 pumped into the air by coal-fired electrical utilities and heavy industry produces particulate matter. According to Ontario’s Environment Ministry exposure to high levels of this can lead to “breathing problems, respiratory illness, changes in the lung’s defences, and worsening respiratory and cardiovascular disease.”

In Nova Scotia, emissions reductions from Nova Scotia Power have been far less [than Ontario’s] – the 62,607 emitted last year was only 60 per cent below 1989 levels. But that relatively modest drop was achieved at considerable expense in lives and treasure. Indeed, it can be argued that the coal-dependent box in which Nova Scotia finds itself today was reinforced by the politically-driven way the Conservative government of the day went about reducing sulphur dioxide pollution from NSP, source of 80 per cent of the province’s emissions.

This being Canada, part of Mulroney’s effort to achieve a treaty with the Americans involved getting the provinces on side. With an ease that’s incredible in comparison with today’s efforts to get provincial cooperation on climate change, Mulroney was able to cajole provinces into adopting the Eastern Canada Acid Rain Program. That meant a cap on the then government-owned Nova Scotia Power of 160,000 tonnes of SO2. That was actually about 14,000 tonnes more than the 146,000 tonnes emitted in 1989 by NSP, most of that coming from burning sulphurous Nova Scotia coal.

Although initially reluctant to accept such a cap, the Conservative government of John Buchanan eventually embraced the battle against acid rain, finding in it an opportunity to roll out a pork barrel of jobs and power plants.

As I wrote in Power Failure?, the government and NSP likely had a variety of possible ways to keep sulphur dioxide emissions below the cap – conservation, renewables, imports of low sulphur coal, or outfitting some units with scrubbers. Instead, they chose the counterintuitive and ultimately disastrous route of fighting fire with fire. Bizarrely, their antidote to SO2 pollution and acid rain caused by coal-fired power plants would become more coal mines and more power plants.


Government

City

Monday

Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — the committee is set to establish a Women’s Advisory Council.

Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre) — the commission is “requesting” that the HRPD and RCMP Halifax detachment “prepare a plan to address the recommendations in the Wortley report that relate to a ban on street checks.” And I’m requesting a pony for Christmas. Until the commission directs or orders the police, ain’t nothing going to be done about street checks.

Accessibility Advisory Committee (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Tuesday

No public meetings for the rest of the week.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — the committee is speaking with the Air Cadet League of Canada.


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Thesis Defence, Mathematics and Statistics (Monday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Kunpeng Wang will defend “Towards a New Mathematical Paradigm for the Development of Economic Growth Theory.”

Tuesday

Thesis Defence, Health (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Adria Quigley will defend “The Feasibility and Impact of a Yoga Intervention on Cognitive and Physical Performance among People Living with HIV.”


In the harbour

05:00: Budapest Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:30: APL Houston, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
08:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Baltimore
13:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
16:00: Budapest Bridge sails for Rotterdam
16:00: X-Press Makalu, container ship, moves from Pier 42 to anchorage

Where are the Canadian military ships?



Footnotes

All things Northern Pulp could explode today.

* This paragraph has been modified to show a corrected number for the emissions in Starr’s article.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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