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News

1. Harbour City Homes

One of the Harbour City Homes houses that is for sale.
One of the Harbour City Homes houses that is for sale.

The non-profit housing agency Harbour City Homes has placed nine of its properties up for sale, putting 34 families at risk of losing their homes to unaffordable price increases, reports Chris Benjamin.

The tenants are hoping that the city will buy back the properties so they can manage the housing as a cooperative.

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2. Assault by taxi driver

A woman has told the Chronicle Herald that she was sexually assaulted by a taxi driver after the Canada Day concert at Alderney Landing last year:

She said she was allegedly (sic) victimized in a manner that has similarities to an alleged May 23 incident involving taxi driver Bassam Aladin Al-Rawi, who was later charged.

[…]

She said the driver took her to a parking lot and assaulted her.

“It was darkly lit; I was under the influence of alcohol,” she said. 

“It was forceful. He made me touch him and he touched me digitally and he wanted to have sex, from what I remembered.”

She said the driver tried to force himself on her in the hope her intoxication would prevent her from defending herself and that she wouldn’t remember.

She said she has had trouble remembering the driver’s appearance, except that he was of Middle Eastern descent and in his 30s or 40s. 

“I kept telling him to take me home,” she said, adding that he eventually did.

In the Al-Rawi case, the Halifax council’s Appeals Committee rejected staff’s advice to completely suspend Al-Rawi’s licence pending a court judgement, and instead allowed him to continue driving, but only in daylight.

Pam Rubin criticizes that decision, noting that:

Taxi drivers [elsewhere in Canada] have been subject to full suspension for uttering homophobic slurs according to passengers, for dangerous driving according to passengers, for uttering threats according to passengers, for wearing a medical mask and gloves according to passengers, or even for engaging in consensual sexual activity in his cab. But women passengers’ reporting of sexual violation in Halifax is being treated as meaningless until there is a criminal court conviction. This is very faulty reasoning. It is also legally indefensible for administrative decisionmakers here.

Reality check: None of the other suspensions required a criminal court conviction before passengers were believed and actions taken. Only the violated women are devalued. We don’t generally require a criminal conviction before people lose privileges relating to employment, housing, or profession.

Links to articles detailing the suspensions of cab drivers are found in Rubin’s post.
(link)

3. Street checks

“In Halifax, police say they do stop people, but deputy chief Bill Moore says those stops are not based on race, rather suspicion,” reports the CBC:

“So it may be we saw individuals near a building late at night, stopped, talked to them and they said they didn’t work there and they said they were just walking by. That could be a street check,” he said.

I’ve had my data collected by the cops. A couple of months ago I was walking down Maynard Street and found a wallet on the sidewalk. The wallet contained money and some bank cards, but unfortunately no ID with a street address or phone number. Figuring the woman who had lost the wallet must live nearby, I tweeted out that I had found the wallet, but got no response.

Against my better judgement, but at the urging of several people on Twitter, I called the police and told them I had found the wallet. After a while an officer came by to collect the wallet. I assumed that would be the end of it: I was a good citizen, turing in found property, thanks and good-bye, right? But no. Apparently, finding a wallet and turning it in is “suspicious.” The officer asked for my name, my address, my date of birth. At no time was I told that I could refuse to give that information. I was given no receipt acknowledging that the information was collected.

I did ask the officer why he needed my information. “It’s just the form,” he said. I suspected that I had the right to refuse to give the information, but that would just start a big hassle with the cops, right? So I gave it, and now my name, address, and date of birth is part of some giant database of “suspicious” people, and who knows who has access to it. Maybe it’s turned over to the US border patrol. Or CSIS.

The worst of it is no one has ever told me if the wallet was returned to its rightful owner.

4. Gloria McCluskey

Developer Francis Fares commissioned this bust of councillor Gloria McCluskey and displays it at the head office at King’s Wharf. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Developer Francis Fares commissioned this bust of councillor Gloria McCluskey and displays it at the head office at King’s Wharf. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Halifax Dartmouth councillor Gloria McCluskey is considering retiring after this council term.

5. Wild Kingdom

Photo: Penny Graham
Photo: Penny Graham

Penny Graham took some great pictures of a whale breaching off Brier Island.


Views

1. Young and ignorant

Jan Wong (in glasses) aged 19, in 1972. Working in a pottery factory in south China. Photo: Jan Wong via the Daily Mail
Jan Wong (in glasses) aged 19, in 1972. Working in a pottery factory in south China. Photo: Jan Wong via the Daily Mail

Jan Wong can relate to the young western women who have left their homes and travelled to join ISIS. In 1972, at age 19, Wong did something similar: she left her family in Montreal and joined Mao’s cultural revolution:

Teens are hard-wired to run off in search of adventure. They just need a little alienation, a middling desire to search for one’s roots and a breathtaking ignorance of the real world.

The young women who slipped away to join ISIS apparently felt marginalized in the West. They were attracted by a fanatic version of their religion, the inclusivity of sisterhood and a naive ideal of marriage. 

Growing up in Montreal in the 1960s, I was a visible minority before the term existed. I was Canadian born, but people around me assumed I wasn’t. I wondered if there was any place I truly belonged.

Naturally, I majored in Asian studies. That’s what young ethnics do when searching for their identities. They study themselves, or try to.

In this fog of confusion, a single evangelist can trigger an inordinate response. In my case, a left-wing history professor at McGill University described communist China in glowing terms. It was a utopia, he said, where everyone is equal.

Wong went to China and embraced the perverse turn Maoism had taken in the 70s, going so far as to “rat out” a fellow student for impure thoughts. Eventually, Wong turned her back on Maoism and came back to Canada, perhaps a little wiser. “Now I’m so bourgeois I have two dishwashers in my kitchen,” she writes.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

Is it or isn’t it? The question refers to an article in the Cape Breton Post (‘Overpass safety a concern,’ June 6.

Here it is more than two months later and still the overpass, which is located where Highway 125 intersects with Highway 105 at exit 20, just sits getting worse and nothing is being done to it.

Back on June 6, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal bridge engineer Kim MacDonald told the Post that an inspection of the overpass was conducted “a couple of weeks ago.” 

So, according to that statement, the inspection would have been in May. 

She also told the Post the department was aware of issues at that site during the winter and that the structure is already included in the upcoming spring/summer maintenance and repair schedule. 

So, according to that statement, the department knew about safety concerns regarding the overpass since January or February. 

That makes it close to eight months to date and, yet, nothing was done in the spring and now there is less than four weeks of summer left. So when is the work going to start?

Oh, right, the department didn’t say which spring or summer maintenance and repair schedule it was planned for.

Well, I did a little digging and according to the department’s five-year maintenance plan for highway and infrastructure improvement there is no mention of this overpass being repaired at anytime. 

On July 2, I called Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and road maintenance in Sydney to try to talk to someone who could give me a straight answer to my questions. I was sadly mistaken for all I got were more pass-the-buck answers.

One man, who was filling in for the guy in charge of Northside maintenance, said that he didn’t know much about that overpass but he did say that he knew that overpass engineers from Halifax were down “a couple of weeks ago.” Apparently, they crawled all over it but he didn’t know exactly what they planned on doing. 

He also said that it wouldn’t be replaced with a new overpass. Instead, there would probably just be some patch work to the road and understructure and he said he didn’t know when this will happen.

He said we just have to wait and see what Halifax wants to do.

Well, in my mind, that’s just another pass-the-buck answer. All I want is the truth to my questions and nobody is willing to commit themselves to tell me.  

Why do the people of Cape Breton have to sit back and wait on a decision from someone on the mainland before we can do anything? 

I know that the cost of replacing the overpass will be high, but what cost do you put on a human life? 

In my opinion, the condition of that overpass is just an accident waiting to happen. I am only one small voice but with some feedback from the people of Sydney Mines, North Sydney, Florence and Bras d’Or we can make government officials listen to us and maybe just maybe have them do something about the overpass.

On July 8, I had a meeting with MLA Pamela Eyking and she could not believe the condition the overpass is in. She looked at the pictures I had to show her and right off she noticed how the supports had shifted. She told me that she was behind me all the way and that she will lobby to get something done.

As I said before I am only one small voice but I started this and I plan to go as for as it takes to see this come to a happy conclusion for everyone.

Mike MacKinnon, Sydney Mines

The link also contains the best cranky comment of the day.


Government

No public meetings. The city had a couple of meetings scheduled today, but it’s too hot and humid so they cancelled them.


Noticed

In the ever-increasing collection of, er, interesting photos captured by the Google car, Reddit poster king_uzi gives us this gem, caught at Stillwater Lake:

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 7.58.03 AM


In the harbour

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

Alsterstern, oil tanker, Argentia, Newfoundland to Imperial Oil
Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, St. John’s to Pier 41
Ningbo Express, container ship, Damietta, Egypt to Fairview Cove

Dallas Express sailed to New York this morning
Northern Delegation sailed to Liverpool, England this morning
Elka Sirius sails to sea


Footnote

Tim Bousquet

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

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9 Comments

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  1. HRM builds a profile on you biased on your name and/or license plate. They have an easily searchable database on the computers in the squad cars so typically before their interaction with you goes anywhere they will want to see what your past interactions have gone like. I had my list of interactions read off to me – I did grow up here and had a few learning experiences – anytime they take your ID, another chapter gets written. Is it such a bad thing? The more data they have the better informed they will be. Were you violent last time? Have you always been cooperative?

    1. I’m not convinced the data is secure, is the issue. I don’t know who has access to it, or what’s done with it.

  2. I have had little contact with HRM Police but LOTS of contact with the RCMP over the years. The response if you phone in on a non-emergency line is equivalent to an interrogation by the Grand Inquisitor. Instead of getting down to the details of the crime-in-progress you’re TRYING to report, you’ll be subjected to a barrage of irrelevant questions as though YOU were the criminal after which the clerk on the other end of the line will spout 17 reasons why they can’t be bothered to investigate, OR, at best ,will dispatch a car which will arrive anywhere from a half-hour to several hours too late to be of any use.

    Then, you’ll be interrogated again, a lengthy triplicate report filed (but YOU won’t get a copy— no siree…!) , and the perpetrators (usually watching the entire performance from a «safe» distance) will continue their «rape and pillage» unmolested..

    Sounds far-fetched but I’ve experienced it more times than I care to remember.
    ««Just sayin’………»»

  3. This past winter I was stopped and given a breathalyzer. (I admitted to having had one drink.) I blew, the reading was 0, and I was on my way. But it was only after that I realized the officer had asked for my driver’s licence and taken down my details. (I, never having been asked for a breath sample before, was nervous and not thinking clearly enough to ask for more information.) He wrote down my info in a little notebook, and I presume it gets logged somewhere.

    So even though I had no detectable presence of alcohol in my system, and I was stopped at a random check, there’s a note somewhere that I was stopped and asked. It bugs me.

    1. I have had my details taken when I phone in a noise complaint, and another time when I could hear an argument that sounded like a woman was in distress [in this case apparently several people called police about it]. I was asked for my name & other personal details. I would have preferred not to give them, but I did. I didn’t think it was because I was considered suspicious. I suppose I felt subconsciously that it would have seemed suspicious if I had *refused* to give my info.

  4. > We don’t generally require a criminal conviction before people lose privileges relating to employment, housing, or profession.

    We generally do. Aside from the fact that employment and housing aren’t privileges, and you can’t ‘lose’ a profession, the only time anyone advocates skipping due process is sex crimes.

    Imagine if everyone was guilty until proven otherwise.

    ‘He stole’
    ‘Prove it’
    ‘Prove you didn’t, and you’re unemployable and homeless until you do’

    Kind of fucked up.

    1. People are kicked out of social housing for arrests, not conviction, quite often. People are suspended from their jobs when arrested, not convicted, of embezzlement and the like. Football players are kicked off the team for saying nasty shit, no jury required. Etc.

    2. Your hypothetical there is allllmost the way employment law works.

      When someone gets fired for having their hand in the till, they have the opportunity to sue for wrongful dismissal. Then the employer has to show, on a balance of probabilities (not beyond a reasonable doubt) that they had just cause to terminate. So as long as the employer is confident, you get fired first, then you have some legal recourse.