News

1. Glen Assoun

Glen Assoun. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Elizabeth May is calling for a federal inquiry zeroing in on the RCMP’s role in both wrongfully convicting Glen Assoun of murder and keeping the now 63-year-old in prison for 17 years,” reports Andrew Rankin for the Chronicle Herald:

The Green party of Canada leader said maintaining public trust in the national police force is at stake given the recent release of federal documents showing RCMP officers played a major role in the miscarriage of justice.

They include details of RCMP investigators destroying evidence in 2004 that could have exonerated Assoun long before his eventual release from prison in 2014. Out on bail, Assoun endured five years of stifling restrictions on his freedom before his eventual acquittal. 

“It’s unbelievable,” said May. “Decisions were made and a cover-up appears to have taken place. Mr. Assoun lost the best years of his life.”

“It’s horrific that we would leave an innocent man in jail for all these years and not only did they not care to find the other obvious culprits and suspects that were on their radar, but they would deliberately bury evidence stopping someone from opening up the case, that’s how it appears.”

I’ll be publishing an article about Glen Assoun later today.

2. Dispensary raids

The Atlantic Compassion Club Society on Main Street in Dartmouth. Photo: Google Street View

Court documents obtained by the Halifax Examiner provide details about the repeated police raids on the Atlantic Compassion Club Society, a cannabis dispensary operating on Main Street in Dartmouth.

Back in November 2018, wrote Detective Constable Pat O’Neill, “I was tasked with drafting and delivering letters to illegal cannabis dispensaries… As a result of this, I attended every known dispensary in the city to deliver these letters. On November 21st, 2018, I attended 141 A Main Street to deliver the letter to the Atlantic Compassion Club Society. I entered through the front door and delivered the letter to an employee who was seated at a desk just inside the front door. There was a faint smell of fresh cannabis inside the business.”

In December, police obtained a search warrant for the Atlantic Compassion Club, and seized “a large amount of” cannabis, edible cannabis, and related products.

In April, the dispensary was broken into when it was closed. “The security officer inside was robbed of his cell phone and keys.”

If I learned anything from an adolescence wasted sitting in front of a black and white TV eating Frito Lays, it’s that there are two kinds of security guards. The first is the old guy who is just collecting a paycheque; he puts his feet up on the desk, and falls asleep with his cap resting over his face. The second is the uber observant guard who checks all the locks and is onto every suspicious circumstance, and will have a shoot-em-out with the bad guys as part his unwavering allegiance to his employer. The guard at the Atlantic Compassion Club was the former. Maybe the guard was stoned.

In any event, rather than having a shoot-out with the bad guys, the guard called the cops, which is never a good idea when you’re selling dope. The cops arrived and, surprise, “observed large amounts of cannabis still in the business.” They got a search warrant, and on April 24, the place was raided for a second time. Police seized, yep, “a large amount” of cannabis and related products.

On July 9, Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini, who is also the councillor for the area, complained to Halifax police inspector Richard Lane about the dispensary. This led to a renewed investigation of fish swimming in a very small barrel located on Main Street.

The next day, July 10, police raided the dispensary for the third time, seized “a large quantity” of cannabis and related products, and arrested 13 people, all identified as “employees” in court documents. If there were 13 people all working at once… well, that’s a large operation.

While at the scene of the raid, Detective D’Arcy Hueston, the sergeant in charge of the Integrated Drug Unit, called up Azmi Arnaout, who is the owner of the little strip mall where Atlantic Compassion Club operates. Arnaout told Hueston that he attempted to serve the dispensary a quit notice back on May 15, giving the business 15 days to vacate the property. (You can see it, here.)

Thing is, the quit notice was never served because the process server could not find the registered agent for the Atlantic Compassion Club, someone named John M J MacKeigan. That’s not for want of trying. According to a court document he signed, the process server went to the dispensary when it was closed, but knocked on the door and spoke to a female employee, who “advised that John MacKeigan was not inside.”

So the process server went to the Maynard Street address listed as MacKeigan’s address with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. No one answered the door, but someone he met in the driveway told the process server that no one named John MacKeigan lived at the address. The process server then looked up the address on property records, and saw that it is owned by three people not named MacKeigan, none of whom have any evident connection to the Atlantic Compassion Club.

For reasons not stated in the court documents, the process server thought MacKeigan might be at the Cana Clinic on Dresden Row, but when he got there he found that that dispensary was closed.

Obviously, the Atlantic Compassion Club did not vacate the property, as it was still there on July 10. So after the cops carted away the large quantity of cannabis and related products and arrested the 13 employees, Arnaout called a locksmith and had the locks changed.

The next day, Constable Seebold and O’Neill “conducted surveillance” on the dispensary. Potential customers were coming up to the storefront, but finding the doors locked, they couldn’t get in.

But the surveillance continued. On Friday, July 12, Detective Constable Brad Jardine went to the strip mall at about 2pm, and stayed there for 15 minutes. Jardine saw that the store was once again open for business, and “at least a dozen customers [were] coming and going.” There was a security guard out in the parking lot, doing who knows what. And while Jardine was on scene, a Canada Post truck pulled up to deliver three gigantic boxes to the dispensary; the boxes were so big and heavy that the mail carrier had to carry them one at a time, making three trips back to the truck.

Jardine reported back his observations, so Hueston, the sergeant in charge of the drug unit, called up Lloyd Robbins, the lawyer for Arnaout, the property owner (by and by, Robbins was Peter Kelly’s lawyer, back in the day). Robbins told Hueston that Arnaout never gave anyone at the Atlantic Compassion Club permission to reopen the business.

The cops appear to have taken the weekend off, but on Monday, off-duty Detective Constable Greg Stevens happened to have a look at the dispensary and saw “a male dressed all in black, who he believed to be security, and noted that the parking lot was full of cars and that the business appeared to be open.”

That was enough for another search warrant, and so the Atlantic Compassion Club Society was raided for a fourth time on Tuesday.

3. Right whales

A right whale. Photo: DFO

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) this morning issued an Advance Contract Award Notice, giving notice that it intends to issue a no-bid contract with Rimouski-based Reformar Inc. and its research vessel, the Coriolis II, to conduct a survey of right whales:

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) are seeking the availability of a research vessel charter (vessel and crew) to conduct and deliver a scientific mission(s) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence south of Anticosti Island along the New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia coastlines. This science mission is focused on 1) surveying North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW), the distribution and factors affecting the distribution of their prey; and 2) the potential impact to habitant through ship-based oil spills. 

This mission is required to understand the population, migration patterns and effects of shipboard oils spills on the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW). 

The work is focused on surveying North Atlantic Right Whales (NARW), the distribution and factors affecting the distribution of their prey – mainly copepods, and the potential impact to habitats through ship-based oil spills. The main focus of the work will extend from the St. Lawrence River estuary (~ 68°W) through the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Cabot Strait.

4. Bay Ferries is paying rent on Customs building

A cloud of diesel exhaust follows the Alakai, the result of burning so much money. Photo: Halifax Examiner

We’ve been repeatedly told that delays in getting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility in Bar Harbor up and running have to do with the CBP bureaucracy, but the Bar Harbor town manager offers an additional reason: a decrepit building. Reports Becky Pritchard for the Mount Desert Islander, the newspaper serving Bar Harbor:

Town Manager Cornell Knight called the delays “unfortunate,” noting, “There’s a lot of details to getting a CBP-compliant facility.”

He also said the state of the building, which was vacant for 10 years, “is slowing things down.”

The delay does not affect the lease agreement between Bay Ferries and the town, he said. “They’re paying the rent based upon the lease, whether they’ve started or not.”

Bay Ferries’s contract with the Town of Bar Harbor requires Bay Ferries to pay US$4,500/month rent in non-operational months and US$7,500/month in operational months, with additional amounts should passengers ever pass through the facility. The payments are guaranteed by the province of Nova Scotia.

5. Bees

Hives infected with American Foulbrood are destroyed by burning. Photo: Wikipedia

Here are all the recorded cases of bee hive disease and pest cases in Nova Scotia from 2010 to the present (the 2013 cases are lost because someone retired and the Department of Agriculture can’t find the records). I have no idea how to assess that information.


Government

City

Budget Committee (Friday , 9:30am, City Hall) — discussion of the capital budget.

Province

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

SuperResolution Imaging: From Subsurface Fracture Detection to Cancer Characterization (Friday, 11:30am, Room 3655, Oceanography Wing, Life Sciences Centre) — Lianjie Huang from Los Alamos National Laboratory will speak. The abstract:

Seismic imaging and ultrasound imaging are both based on wave propagation in complex media. I will present high-resolution elastic-wave imaging and inversion for fracture detection in complex geothermal fields. In addition, I will present super-resolution ultrasound imaging and ultrasound waveform tomography for early detection and characterization of breast cancer and prostate cancer. This presentation will demonstrate that advanced imaging techniques can be used not only for natural resource exploration, but also for cancer imaging to save human lives.


In the harbour

04:00: John J. Carrick, barge, and Leo A. McArthur, tug, sail from McAsphalt for sea
04:30: Coho, tug, arrives at McAsphalt from Paulsboro, New Jersey
06:00: ZIM Shekou, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain
06:00: Tombarra, car carrier, moves from Pier 31 to Autoport
08:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
10:00: Algoma Verity, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
10:00: Coho moves to Pier 27
10:00: YM Movement, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
16:00: Tombarra sails for sea
16:30: ZIM Shekou sails for New York
22:00: YM Movement sails for New York

No cruise ships until Monday.


Footnotes

Weird summer, news-wise.


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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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