1. Tim Bousquet discovers new day in the year

According to the Morning File template, opened by contributor El Jones on Friday, September 30th, Tim Bousquet has discovered a new day of the year, September 31st. The Examiner wants to congratulate Mr. Bousquet on this exciting new contribution to horology. The new “leap September” will be named Bousquet Yay! Kittay Day.


(Representation of Tim.)

Because El Jones is a super expert poet, she can share this super secret poetry tool only handed out by the city to the inner circle of poets (over the phone, to avoid Freedom of Information requests) which us poetry “elite” (trademark, MIT) use to remember the dates:


Also, although it’s well known that Tim has extra knuckles (it’s what he uses to write so good), for the non-knuckle enhanced among us:


Also, El Jones would like to point out Black people have been celebrating September 31st for decades and of course someone would try to Columbus it now. What, extra days in September are the cool new trend now? Next, everyone will be pretending that they made up the month of Blarch like we weren’t always on that.

2. Meanwhile in Amherst…

Very much not getting it, Amherst councillor George Baker continued to compare himself to Black people.

On Friday, he addressed the Amherst Board of Police Commissioners — the civilian body to which the Amherst Police Department is accountable — that had convened to discuss the complaints against him and how to apply their code of conduct to Baker.

“I’ve done everything to the commission. I’ve done everything except hang myself in Victoria Square,” Baker said.

It’s like he’s being lynched, okay? Baker then went on to say, “I’m not your Leon’s effigy!”

Maybe we should give him points for not talking about how the commission is a bunch of Shylocks. Good for you for not being publicly anti-Semitic yet, George.

It cracks me up how in literally every CBC article about this they go, “George Baker, who is white…”.  Like otherwise we might think he’s an actual slave or something who time travelled in from 1750 and just really wanted the pizza parlour to know he wasn’t their n-word. See, I was under that misconception, so it’s good that they keep clearing up that rather than being an actual enslaved time-travelling Black man, he is in fact white. Thanks for clarifying that.


Pause for a moment:

Image from cbc.ca
Image from cbc.ca

I’m just saying, yes, definitely he is white.

So let’s review what Baker, who is white, means by “everything.”

In a written statement handed out before a special council meeting Monday night, Baker said, “I did not use any swear words or profanity.”

Accountability level:


Baker said that after using the slur, he immediately told staff at Bambino’s, “No one should ever say that word. I’m sorry.”

Believability level:


“I have no idea why that word would have come to mind,” he wrote in a statement. “It’s not a word I ever use.”

Believability level:

Image from people.com
Image from people.com

Baker also said in his statement that he has spoken to “virtually all of my African-Canadian constituents” since the incident.

“I feel I have full support from those people that know me so well,” he wrote.

On Friday, Baker told CBC News that he’d already apologized to the black community in Amherst. “And they all told me there was no need to apologize to them because I did nothing wrong.”

Representation of how this conversation happened in his mind:


GOD WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT HIM TO DO.  He already apologized in his imagination to all everybody but the two people quoted right after in the article and everybody at the protests held against me some of I have Black friends ok African-Canadians (“Is that what we call those people now? Not Negroes or Coloureds?”) so he’s done everything. 

Baker’s office also released the following totally not photoshopped picture of him not being racist:


Baker said he’s “been getting chewed out” for the past three months and his feelings have been hurt by the comments he’s heard from people.

“I’ve got people running me down on Facebook. But I don’t hold grudges against anyone. We’re going to move forward,” said Baker.

“There’s nobody in this audience that hasn’t said words they didn’t mean.”

I totally read that last bit as him basically being like, “come on, you know you all say the n-word. You said it to me last week on the golf course!”

Baker followed that up by saying, “People are treating me on social media like I’m a Black woman! I’m not your Mammy or your house slave! Oh damn, wait, I did it again.”

It’s so generous that Baker doesn’t hold grudges against anyone for him calling them racial slurs. Somebody should hire him for a Restorative Justice circle to teach people about forgiveness.

Do you think somebody edited out a Martin Luther King Jr. quote from this statement at the last minute? I feel like the original probably said something like. “I don’t hold grudges against anyone. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us, ‘Darkies cannot drive out darkies.’ Oh shit! No! DARKNESS. It says DARKNESS. NOT DARKIES. I NEVER SAY THAT WORD. I DON’T KNOW WHY IT POPPED INTO MY HEAD. Moving forward, hate cannot drive out hate!”

He added that people have told him he’ll never be mayor as a result of the slur.

Such injustice. It’s like he knows now just what it’s like to be Black.

3. Infodump

So every time I think about writing about George Baker, who is white, I always end up trying to look up racist histories of Amherst, and not getting very far with it.

The New England Planters, who settled in Amherst among other townships, certainly arrived with slaves. Sir Charles Tupper, one of the “fathers of Confederation” was descended from Planters, although I can’t find any evidence that his family owned slaves. Harvey Amani Whitfield records:

Between 1759 and 1764, thousands of Planters migrated to Nova Scotia because of the government’s offer of free land in the region. The Nova Scotia government promised an additional fifty acres to households for every black person brought into the colony. Heeding this call, some Planters migrated from their homes in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island to the northeast. Although the New England colonies were not slave societies, slavery did exist and prospered in coastal towns and throughout scattered agricultural settlements.

The Planters settled in various parts of Nova Scotia including the Annapolis Valley, the Saint John region, and Yarmouth. In Nova Scotia, lands in the Annapolis Valley attracted New England planters who wanted to develop more profitable farming operations. Slaves served on these farms in the Annapolis Valley as agricultural labourers. In other areas, such as the southern shore, Planters and their slaves worked in timbering, shipbuilding, fishing, and other maritime related activities.


In response to Baker’s comments about hanging in Victoria Square, I tried to look up histories of hangings of Black people in Amherst. There’s a reference to lynchings in this article from the Press Reader, but I can’t find any other documentation:

“Cumberland County history reveals a part of a mass migration of African-Americans from directly out of Africa and is reflected in parts of the exhibit,” Strong said. “It’s important to know our history. Lynchings may not have been an everyday occurrence on the streets of Amherst, but lynchings were part of the past we cannot remove from history to which some of the early arrivals experienced even up to the 1950s.”

George Elliott Clarke traces some of the (dubious) executions of Black people in Canada in “Raising Race and Erased Executions in Canadian Literature”:

Examining the morbid compilation Persons Sentenced to Death in Canada, 1867-1976 (1992), edited by Lorraine Gadoury and Anthony LeChasseur, I count forty-seven men listed as ‘Negro,’ or ‘Coloured,’ or ‘Mulatto,’ or ‘American negro,’ or ‘American mulatto’ (two occurrences), or ‘”Coloured” from Bahamas’ (one occurrence), who were, presumably, in present parlance, black. Of these forty-seven men, (all originally convicted of shooting, stabbing, strangling, axing, slashing, or bludgeoning their victims), slightly more than half of them, or twenty-four, were hanged…Only 23 percent of all persons convicted of capital crimes were hanged in Canada, but 50 percent of all blacks so convicted were hanged. Racism may have influenced the federal cabinet to decline mercy in over half the cases where black men faced the noose. Dean Jobb remarks that, ‘convicted murderers were hanged in more than three-quarters of the cases’ in which juries had not recommended mercy; thus, black convicts denied mercy by white juries initially were not likely to receive it from white politicians later.

In one example, Clarke recounts:

In the twentieth century, ‘lynchings’ may have posed as legal hangings. One possibly ‘masked’ lynching terminated Daniel P. Sampson, aged forty-nine, a Haligonian labourer, in 1935. Convicted of homicide in connection with the supposed stabbing deaths of Edward and Bramwell Heffernan, two white children aged ten and twelve, in Halifax in 1933, Sampson, if guilty, was a minor version of Nat Turner. Sampson’s stated motive for slaying the children was that they had maligned him with a racist epithet. A Royal Canadian Mounted Police commentary on ‘The Hefferman [sic] Case’ says that Sampson was arrested after ‘prolonged investigation’ and tried twice: in April 1934 and in October 1934. The second trial occurred because ‘the written confession had been tendered as an exhibit at the Preliminary Hearing but apparently became mislaid in the Prothonotary’s office’…This circumstance urges doubt about Sampson’s guilt…To what extent was Sampson, guilty or innocent, positioned as the nightmarish black body disrupting facades of white innocence and ‘civilization’? Despite the records of persecutions as prosecutions, suspicious convictions, and suspect hangings, African-Canadian writers have been slow to open ruddy documents and eye past black existence in Canada and the ways of white folk in administering racially unequal ‘justice.’

I didn’t find anything on hangings of Black people in Amherst, but besides the possibility of there simply not being such cases, there’s also the possibility that race wasn’t listed, or that the deaths were not recorded and that the memories survive in the oral histories of the community.

Tim Bousquet has written before about the difficulty of researching Klan histories in Nova Scotia. As he discusses at that link, in the autobiography of Clifford Rose, he “casually mentions that there was a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan at the Church at Gairloch in Pictou County. The meeting isn’t mentioned in the history of the church.” In a follow-up article the next day, Tim quotes Timothy Jacques, editor of the Tribune newspaper in Campbellton, New Brunswick about his investigations into the Klan in New Brunswick:

As far as I am aware, no. The KKK was once active in New Brunswick too. I was unable to find any scholarly work that had much mention of the KKK in New Brunswick (although there were a few interesting writings scattered online) but I did find copies of KKK documents at the PANB [Public Archives of New Brunswick] that had been found in a wall of a house. These included their bylaws, and for some klaverns (as they called their chapters) a membership list. It turned out that two colleagues of mine had grandfathers in the KKK in southern NB.

I found the subject difficult to research locally, even though there had been at least two klaverns here, possibly three—unfortunately, the documents only mentioned one in passing, and the second arose after the date of the documents found in the wall. However I do have the list of the charter members of the Dalhousie NB klavern—also found during a demolition—and again, some people I know had no idea their relatives were involved.

Even though the Klan had a rally in Dalhousie, NB and drove through the streets in cars in the early 1930s as part of a membership drive, I could find no photos, and no elderly people who would admit to seeing the event although a news report said that it was witnessed by hundreds. Also, even though people took endless photos in those days of men dressed in their various club regalia and costumes, a call I put out resulted in exactly zero Klan photos. I found only one article about the Klan in local newspapers of the time—the membership drive—and even that was a reprint of an article which had appeared in the Fredericton Gleaner.

The Klan did burn crosses here, and I found an elderly witness to that. (My late father had also told me of this, although he had not witnessed it as it was before he moved to the area.) In New Brunswick, the Klan seems to have been mainly an anti-French, anti-Catholic organization. Although the bylaws and documents refer to white supremacist views and a belief that Anglo-Saxons were the “true Jews,” the letters among the documents deal mainly with anti-Catholic sentiments.

I know of at least two cross burnings in Dalhousie, NB in the 1930s, and I was told that the Campbellton, NB klavern used to burn their crosses on the current site of the WalMart in Atholville.

I gather from the documents, and from other reading, that the main adherents of the New Brunswick Klan were the more extreme elements of the Orange Lodge. The Klan seems to have been most active in the province at a time when Acadians were pushing for some education rights (which I don’t think they got at that time). One cross burning in Dalhousie, NB seems to have been related to a Protestant pastor—whose congregation met in the same building where the Klan met—being assaulted by some Roman Catholics.

Ku Klux Klan members in Kingston, Ont., 31 July 1927. John Boyd / Library and Archives Canada / PA-087848
Ku Klux Klan members in Kingston, Ont., 31 July 1927. John Boyd / Library and Archives Canada / PA-087848

You can read the rest of his research at the link.

Viola Desmond’s Canada, A history of Blacks and Racial Segregation in the Promised Land, by Graham Reynolds also includes information about the popularity of the Klan in the Maritimes. As Robert Devet observes in an Advocate article on the book:

We tend to compare our own Canadian flavour of racism with what happened (happens) in the Deep South of the United States. No cross burnings here, no lynchings, or at least not all that many, so how bad can it be?

That notion is factually incorrect, Reynold’s book suggests.

In the late 1920s the Ku Klux Klan thrived in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan. It was quite a force in Eastern Canada as well, Reynolds suggests, with 17 active Klan lodges in New Brunswick alone, and with leaders who enjoyed easy access to government politicians.

Meanwhile, the government was actively preventing Blacks from immigrating, and deporting recent arrivals.

“Persons of negro origin from the West Indies are considered by the Department as persons likely to become a public charge,” writes an immigration officer sometime in 1916, echoing official policy.

And even if the Canadian flavour of racism at the time were a bit more subdued than in the United States, it was every bit as devastating in its consequences.

That message often is missing in the way the history of Blacks in Canada gets told.

Citizens of Amherst, living close to the border with New Brunswick, would easily have knowledge of and access to this activity, but again, while oral histories in the Black community in Nova Scotia have long recounted experiences of the Klan, there’s little documentation of the histories in this province.

One other piece of research of interest that I found while searching around is Greg Marquis’ articleA War Within a War: Canadian Reactions to D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, tracing responses to the Klan-mythologizing film:

Griffith’s film aroused special concern in Nova Scotia, home to several thousand blacks. In addition to Halifax County, cities such as Amherst, Truro, and Sydney and parts of rural Nova Scotia had viable Black populations. In industrial Cape Breton hundreds of blacks, many of them West Indians, were employed in coal mining. In Halifax, a delegation of white and black leaders lobbied the provincial government to have the film banned as a threat to public order. The American film, they argued, “was not in the best interests of the coloured citizens, nor of the citizens in general.” This instance was one of the few in Canada in which white allies supported black Canadian efforts to block Griffith’s movie. The reasons seem to have been largely pragmatic: Halifax was a garrison city, naval base and centre for Allied supply where the press, by 1916, was heavily promoting enlistment into the armed forces. The area also contained one of the largest black populations in Canada. In 1916, Nova Scotia blacks were being asked to join a construction battalion for overseas service. Research on newspapers published in Halifax, Cape Breton, and Amherst suggests that Birth of a Nation was not shown in Nova Scotia in 1915 or 1916.

However, the film was screened in New Brunswick, and protested by the Black community in Saint John.

Image from slate.com
Image from slate.com

4. Dalhousie gets grant for sentient buildings that can teach classes and supervise research

Dalhousie will be receiving $32 million from the federal government funds to stimulate research.

Apparently since new fancy buildings with lots of glass are what we need to create “innovation,” I imagine all the new buildings being funded will also teach classes, mentor students, supervise theses, and co-author papers. Who needs to put money into academic staff? The buildings will just create research by looking cool!

Image from drawception.com
Image from drawception.com

I’m not opposed to upgrading facilities and modernizing labs and technology, but while teaching and courses are being slashed – and traditional offerings such as summer school courses are being cut – new buildings are seemingly the only investment the government and the universities are willing to make into higher education. Why not stimulate research by lowering fees so that more students can attend university? No, instead, lets actually levy students to pay for building upgrades. How about reducing student debt, investing in scholarships, and increasing tenured jobs? What about increasing the daycare spots available on campus and subsidizing them so that women with children can afford to attend school? No? Instead students are going to graduate with a mountain of debt having been increasingly taught by precariously employed instructors who are too over-burdened to properly supervise research, but at least they had a cool soundproof room to do their group work in, which has now been rebranded as “innovation consulting” or whatever buzzword for what students always did, but we keep pretending we’re all Silicon Valley now.

Also, this quote is alarming:

President Richard Florizone said commercialization attracted Ottawa to the proposal.

“Government is particularly interested in projects like this as they look at not only supporting universities, but also that are clean and innovate growth for the country,” Florizone said in an interview.

First of all, I’m not sure what “clean” is supposed to mean there, other than being another piece of jargon. I assume it means that the buildings will be environmentally friendly, but maybe he literally means that they’ll be cleaned more by facilities staff, I don’t know. That sentence is like the Miss Teen South Carolina of business-speak. What is clean? The projects? The government? The buildings? The universities? WHAAAAAAA??? Maybe he’s innovating grammar.

YouTube video

Secondly, all this talk of “commercialization” in the university should be alarming. When research is valued by the money it generates, then money starts to set the research agenda. And when corporate money controls campuses, then you get things like “The Lockheed Martin Centre for Global Peace Studies” or the “Shell Institute of Environmental Justice.” Corporations get to brand themselves, and “clean” their reputation by using their investment in university buildings that bear their name to appear civic-minded, while also funding research favourable to them.

Derek Bok analyzes the roots of commercialization in the university:

What is new about today’s commercial practices is not their existence but their unprecedented size and scope. Before 1970, university presidents may have sounded like hucksters on occasion and resorted at times to advertising and other methods borrowed from the world of business. Nevertheless, commercialization in the strict sense of the term–that is, efforts to sell the work of universities for a profit–was largely confined to the periphery of campus life: to athletic programs and, in a few institutions, to correspondence schools and extension programs. Today, opportunities to make money from intellectual work are pursued throughout the university by professors of computer science, biochemistry, corporate finance, and numerous other departments. Entrepreneurship is no longer the exclusive province of athletics departments and development offices; it has taken hold in science faculties, business schools, continuing education divisions, and other academic units across the campus.

What accounts for the growth of commercial activity in institutions dedicated to higher learning? To Veblen, the obvious culprits were university presidents and their entourage of bureaucratic helpers. Intent upon accumulating money to expand the size and reputation of the institution, campus administrators were forever forcing the methods of the marketplace on a reluctant community of scholars. In Veblen’s view, the remedy for the disease was as obvious as its cause: “The academic executive and all his works are an anathema and should be discontinued by the simple expedient of wiping him off the slate.”

…Today, it is even more apparent that the recent surge in money-making activity on campus stems from causes far deeper than policies emanating from the president. University officials have surely initiated entrepreneurial ventures. But they often have little or nothing to do with the efforts of prominent professors to found their own companies, sell their services as teachers to corporations, or allow private companies to market their lectures through the Internet, tape, or videocassette. Nor is there any doubt that the greatest obstacles to reforming intercollegiate athletics continue to lie, not in the president’s office, but among the alumni supporters, boosters, legislators, and others who insist on fielding winning teams.

If Veblen was wrong in heaping so much blame on university presidents, what else helps account for the recent burst of commercial activity on campus? Part of the explanation lies in the growing influence of the market throughout our society. Commercialization has plainly taken root, not only in higher education, but also in many other areas of American life and culture: health care, museums, public schools, even religion. Entrepreneurial initiative, high executive salaries, and aggressive marketing techniques are all spreading to fields of endeavor quite outside the realm of business. Such practices set examples that legitimate the use of similar methods in universities. Nevertheless, merely noting the existence of a trend does not explain why it came about, let alone account for its sudden and deep penetration into an academic culture long considered an “ivory tower” set apart from the marketplace…

…The influence of the private economy on the university is undeniable. Wealthy donors clearly alter the shape of the institution through the power of their benefactions. Anyone harboring doubts on this score need only contrast the opulence of business schools with the shabbiness of most schools of education and social work. The world of commerce and industry affects the curriculum in even more striking ways through the jobs it provides and the salaries it offers; witness the growth of undergraduate business majors, the rise of computer science departments, and the generous compensation offered to professors of management and economics, compared to that paid to colleagues in literature and philosophy.

There’s a whole chapter at the link if you’re interested.

I look forward to the inevitable “George Tsimiklis Institute of Architecture.” Sounds innovative.

El Jones is a poet, journalist, professor, community advocate, and activist. Her work focuses on social justice issues such as feminism, prison abolition, anti-racism, and decolonization.

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  1. The robes and insignia of the Klansmen in the Kingston Ont photo would have been identical to those worn by Maritime Klansmen. They were part of the same Klan organization for eastern Canada, with the HQ in Ontario. I have read that there was a separate organization for the Klan in western Canada, although the two maintained friendly relations. Both were separate from the American Klan groups, although the documents in the Public Archives of New Brunswick indicate that NB Klaverns on the border with Maine sometimes attended Klan events in that state. As indicated, they were obviously white supremacists – the full bylaws are with the PANB documents and make for interesting reading – but in NB their efforts were directed against Roman Catholics and Francophones.

  2. dismaying, but Miss S Carolina is not atypical, so a Shell Institute for Environmental Justice is not so farfetched. repeat until light bulb fires….average IQ is 90-100. and the question she was asked gets overlooked…why can’t 1/5 of Americans find their own country on a world map?

  3. I am looking forward to an Amherst that doesn’t have George Baker on its town council. He should have resigned his seat long ago.