This is freelance writer Philip Moscovitch filling in for Tim. After living here for 20 years, I almost referred to myself as a Nova Scotian the other day. On Twitter I am @PhilMoscovitch.


News

1. Shots in Dartmouth

Photo: Google Street View

Halifax Regional Police arrested two men in north Dartmouth last night after they heard shots. From the brief  CBC story:

Police said officers were in the area of Lahey Road and Catherine Street, near Albro Lake Road, around 12.30 a.m. when they heard gunshots.

Police said the officers saw three men running, one of whom had a gun.

Two men were arrested separately after a search of the area and the gun was found.

2. Proud Boys

Happier times for the Proud Boys

Chris Lambie reports for the Chronicle Herald on the military’s investigation into the Proud Boys, following their disruption of a ceremony held by Indigenous people at the now-removed Cornwallis statue last July 1.

The matter was deemed so serious, even the country’s top soldier, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, was being kept in the loop.

“Definitely inconsistent with our values,” Vance writes in a July 3 email to several senior sailors and soldiers.

“Will want, as a minimum, for them to be told (as soon as possible) that their actions are not acceptable and that they must stop.”

The story also quotes an email to military personnel commander Lt.-Gen. Chuck Lamarre (the sender is not named in the documents Lambie received as a result of a freedom of information request):

“issues like this tarnish the entire Forces and would discourage people — women, racialized peoples, indigenous peoples — from ever considering the Forces as a career.”

Lambie’s piece seems to show that the military took the potential fallout from the Proud Boys actions seriously, and not just as a PR disaster to be managed.

3. Boy with autism kicked out of after-school program

Also in the Chronicle Herald, Maggie Rahr writes about a mother whose son was kicked out of a local after-school program. The boy has autism, and Hugh Lownds, who runs the program, says, “I don’t know anything about it… If the child was going to continue I would have to let my insurance know.”

The boy’s mother, Nancy Spina, is upset not only because Lownds told her that her son wasn’t welcome after only two days, but also by the way she was treated.

“He can’t come back,” she says Lownds told them, saying he couldn’t care for an autistic child… “The guy hung up,” Spina says, “I got really upset.”

Spina says Lownds never described an incident or provided any further explanation. Lownds, for his part, says it was a “final business decision.”

Lownds runs his program out of a church basement on Pepperell Street. I’ve walked or driven by there during after-school hours many times and wondered about it.

Rahr writes:

It’s a no-nonsense approach that harkens back to earlier decades: children roam freely through a big old gym, rollerblading and playing, amid hockey and basketball nets. The kids eat peanut butter sandwiches and drink Tang.

That all sounds great (unless you’re a kid with a peanut allergy), but just because you do things the old-fashioned way, that shouldn’t mean old-fashioned attitudes to disabilities are OK. Rahr quotes Autism Nova Scotia executive director Cynthia Carroll, who says:

We would be happy to work with any recreation organization to be more inclusive in their community.

But Lownds isn’t having any of it.

I’m not interested in training. They can do whatever they want.

4. It’s going to be hot

The hot sun will burn you.

Several local media outlets are reporting on the forecast for the weekend. Short version: It’s going to be hot and humid.

CTV runs a CP report that says:

The traditional start to the summer holidays is set to kick off with an Eastern Canada heat wave, as forecasters warned of sweltering temperatures that could inch into the 40s with the humidex this Canada Day weekend.

The story quotes meteorologist Jill Maetea, who says, “This will likely be the most significant heat event of the season thus far.”

This story touches on two of the things I love to complain about. First, the word “event” is almost never necessary. Rain event, heat event, wind event. Enough.

Second, the humidex and the wind chill may be useful measures, but they lead to more sensationalizing when it comes to the weather. Unlike temperature, the humidex and wind chill describe what the weather  feels like. The humidex is higher than the actual temperature, so it sounds a lot more dramatic. The CP story says temperatures in southern Ontario are “forecasted to climb into the mid-40s with the humidex.”

But it never gives us the plain old number for the temperature.

If you want to read an extensive critique of both humidex and wind chill (you know you do), physicist Miguel Tremblay is your man.

5. Spin doctor?

Dr. John Gillis (from his Twitter bio)

Yesterday, the Rick Howe show had Dr. John Gillis on for his weekly hour-long segment. Howe and Gillis often chat before taking calls from listeners with medical questions. This time the subject, not surprisingly, was the provincial government’s surprise announcement earlier in the week that it would be closing two hospitals in Cape Breton and expanding services elsewhere in the CBRM.

Gillis thought this was a good idea. He told Howe:

From what I’ve read and what I’ve seen, I think this is a good move… Industrial Cape Breton has around 100,000 people and they have four [ERs]. And we need to think about what kind of access people are getting. A non-staffed ER without specialist backup, imaging, etc is not really an ER. It’s not providing a service people need. And I think we need to make sure they get true emergency room service, and if the other two are expanding, I think that’s a good thing… It’s a streamlining… From what I’ve seen of it I think it’s going to be good.”

After the segment aired, John McCracken pointed out on Twitter that Gillis isn’t just some impartial physician offering his opinion. He’s the president of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.

Gillis is a respected physician. But McCracken is right. He absolutely should have been identified as president of the party whose announcement he was commenting on. Nova Scotia is a small place. Networks are interconnected, and some conflicts are unavoidable. There’s no reason not to be clear about them though.


Views

1. Heading to Hubbards

Hubbards Waterfront Movies

One of the best phenomena to hit Halifax in the time I’ve been living here is outdoor film screenings. I’ve been a fan since the early Al Fresco Film Festo days, when our family would head down to the waterfront to watch movies on the screen behind the Nova Scotia Power building. Over time, the outdoor movie nights spread: drive-in night in Bedford and screenings at DeWolf Park, on the Dartmouth waterfront, and outdoors at the Halifax North Memorial Library. Sure, it’s Nova Scotia and there are nights when you need a blanket and a hot drink, but it’s still a lot of fun.

While the FIN Outdoor series presents movies by Jim Henson all summer long, the village of Hubbards — at the westernmost end of the municipality — has its own film series. It starts July 6, at 9 PM, with Raiders of the Lost Ark, and also includes Maudie, Apollo 13, The Princess Bride, and Moana.

I don’t know how many visitors from the city make it to Hubbards in the summer. I suspect many head to Queensland Beach, but don’t carry on into the village itself, a few minutes away. It’s a delightful and unpretentious place, and the Saturday morning farmers’ market is great.


Noticed

Yesterday, I called Colin Duggan of Tidal Salt to ask him about differences between types of salt. I’m writing a book about fermented foods and drinks, and salt plays an important role in the process of transforming food through fermentation. On a very basic level, for instance, cabbage + salt = sauerkraut.

I figured I’d be on the phone for about 10 minutes, getting the information and quotes I needed. But Duggan and I wound up speaking for nearly an hour instead, as he stood on his deck in Dartmouth, slowly boiling down a pot full of filtered seawater. He’s a former caterer and social worker who now is happy with less stressful pursuits. “What am I going to do today? I’m going to boil water for the next 16 hours.” He said the short version of his three-step business plan is “scoop ocean, boil ocean, succeed.” (He was also taking care of a baby, so it’s not all relaxation.)

Two things struck me about this conversation.

The first was how much Duggan knew about salt. I’m fascinated by people who go deep — people who are in some subculture, or who have thoroughly explored a subject and continue to learn more about it. Duggan talked about the importance of salt production in Nova Scotia from the time the earliest settlers arrived (you needed salt to pack and preserve fish), about the trace minerals in salt, the importance of collecting it at high tide, subtle differences in taste and texture, the working conditions for miners of Himalayan salt, and the innovations people have developed to dry salt under vastly different conditions in various parts of the world.

But I was also struck by a sense of familiarity. Over the years, I have interviewed and written about many people who live in Nova Scotia and make their living through some kind of side gig. I’m not talking about the kinds of tech side gigs and startups that get a  lot of excitable press. I mean people running small-scale businesses quietly reviving or continuing traditional arts and crafts, making food, finding niches and providing services without much fuss. The woman who moved to Cape Breton from the southern US (where she had worked as a prison guard at one point), and now makes pottery and sells eggs and produce at a local farmers’ market while raising kids (both human and goat). The hairdresser who works out of her home, where she also makes and sells gorgeous quilts. The crafters and caterers and, yes, the salt-makers. Many of these people could make more money elsewhere. But they love Nova Scotia and don’t want to leave. Or they’ve moved here (or back here) and want to make it work.

Duggan told me he’d been through the 40-week CEED Self-Employment Benefits Program, which helps small-business-owners get started.

Others have told me how life-changing this program has been. When I was writing a story about the Halifax crafts scene, Kiersten Holden described how she had given up on jewelry-making a few years after graduating from NSCAD. She’d considered selling her tools, but hung onto them while cobbling together a living doing various kinds of work on contract. Then, things fell apart.

I was pregnant with my second daughter, I didn’t have a job… I was at a bit of a loss.

She decided to try making jewelry again, found the same CEED program as Duggan, and signed up.

I went through that program and re-engaged with all of these skills and my tools and I started going at it again. It was a little bit out of necessity, but  thankfully it felt really great — and I have been able to find passion and inspiration in the work even though I was motivated by need.

Seven years later, she’s still in the business.

My point here isn’t to plug CEED. It’s that Nova Scotia is full of bright, skilled, and resourceful people who are happy to contribute to community and economy through meaningful work they are passionate about. I’m constantly impressed by the people I meet in communities all over the province who find a way to make doing what they love work. These aren’t big, sexy projects that require millions in payroll rebates or other massive forms of funding. And I can’t help but think if we offered more and better support for people to turn their side-gigs and passion projects into viable businesses it might provide more long-term value to the province than, say, giving a $1.8 million rebate to a giant dairy co-op that has laid off hundreds of Nova Scotians.


Government

City

Thursday

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — Chrissy Mcdow, the owner of Lady Drive Her, the car service that provides women drivers for runs to and from the airport, is talking to the committee about creating a new category of taxi licences for women drivers so her company can operate in the rest of the city.

Port Wallace PPC Meeting (Thursday, 6:30pm, HEMDCC Large Meeting Room 1, Alderney Gate) — there’s no agenda posted as of Tuesday night.

Friday

No public meetings.

Province

No public meetings for the rest of the week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

No public events.

Friday

Innovation in Housing Models and Policies for Older LGBTQI2S Populations: Lessons from the European Union (Friday, 3:30pm, Halifax Central Library) — a public panel with  Jacqueline Gahagan, Dalhousie University; Anders Kottorp, Malmö University, Sweden; Liesl Gambold, Dalhousie University; Bob Linscott, The Fenway Institute, Boston; Mike Tutthill, Rainbow Resource Centre, Winnipeg; and Johanne Sanschagrin, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Ottawa.


In the harbour

7am: Maasdam, cruise ship with up to 1,510 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney 
7:15am: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
11:30am: Selfoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11:30am: Elektra, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
3:30pm: Maasdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Bar Harbor
4pm: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Algeciras, Spain
4:30pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport back to Pier 41


Footnotes

The weather is so hot over in West Yorkshire (home of the original Halifax) that they’re sending out gritters — that’s what they call trucks that do sanding — to deal with the possibility of slick conditions caused by melting tar. The trucks will be spreading crusher dust, “a common method used to create a non-stick surface and limit damage to the road surface.” Maybe climate change will mean time to upgrade to some better asphalt.

Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. Both my kids – now in their mid-20s – went to Hugh’s for years, both summer and after-school. They flourished there, and Hugh was tremendous at giving the kids individual attention, paying heed to their vulnerabilities, and encouraging their strengths.

    I confess I am perplexed by this report. Hugh was always high-energy, could sometimes – when juggling multiple demands – be a bit abrupt, but always cared deeply about the kids and their futures. I am shocked that he would reject a kid after only two days.

    And I hope the parties involved can find a way to work through this, in whatever form that may take.

  2. “Altogether, Nova Scotia has 43 hospitals and health centres — as listed online by the province — serving a population of about 943,000 people. This works out to one facility for every 21,930 people.

    When counting individual hospital sites such as the QEII Health Centre’s multiple buildings, the number rises to 54, as listed online by the Nova Scotia Health Authority. This equals one facility for every 17,462 Nova Scotians.

    Ontario, by contrast, has 156 hospital corporations serving a population of 13.6 million, working out to one hospital for every 87,180 people.

    However, Ontario’s hospitals are also spread over 239 sites so this works out to one facility for every 56,904 people when separate locations are taken into account.”
    [http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1471538-are-there-too-many-hospitals-in-nova-scotia]

    Hospitals
    From what I understand, many of these little regional facilities do not provide all services expected from a hospital and are not open 24/7 Many see few patients per week and are old and costly to maintain. Sure, I appreciate that CB folks might be reluctant to drive 60 minutes to a hospital when another is only 15 minutes away, but if the local one costs a fortune to run and maybe can’t help you it’s not much use. A fully one one a bit further away might make more sense.

    Once public health was financed around 50% by the Feds, but since the Chretien/Martin “Hell or High Water” budget of the late 1990s, the Federal contribution may now have slipped under 20%, leaving the provinces to pick up the difference. After attacking it in opposition, Trudeau is more or less following Harper’s health finance model of increases tied to GDP with a 3% floor.

    Health care consumes close to 50% of all NS provincial government spending after we service government debt, and it has increased at between 3-7% p.a. over the last decade or so. That expanding cost represents money not available for other worthy priorities like education, public works etc. With the fastest aging population in the country we need to spend our available health care money as wisely as we can. Rationalizing hospitals may be a start.

    Liberals
    So a popular radio doctor comments on health policies of a Liberal government while neglecting to mention his pivotal association with the Liberal Party of NS? An oversight perhaps in a program about medical practice? Maybe but pardon my skepticism.

    This is the party that proclaims how it campaigns from the left but governs from the right (i.e. it misleads progressive voters as standard electoral practice – c.f. Trudeau). The same one which promised to continue the NS Film Tax Credit for 5 years in the 2013 election then changed it 2 years later having neither done their homework nor consulted with an industry they almost wrecked. The one who backed off after being caught making deceptive seniors’ Pharmacare proposals.

    Sorry, my benefit of the doubt is all used up for these guys.

  3. So president doctor Gillis says the hospitals were shitty because they werent being provided with the proper services so closing them is better than providing those services?

    1. Where else does an area of less than 100,000 people have 4 hospitals, two of which are 64 and 55 years old and no longer fit for purpose
      It is just awful that people have to travel 11 miles to a hospital.
      The complaints are mainly political knee-jerkery aimed at discrediting a government that has made a sensible decision.

  4. This is part of DR. Gillis’ twitter response.

    “Go troll somewhere else folks. U oppose this plan because its a Liberal one. That’s all. Have you even read it? Probably not. Oppose and complain. Never offer a solution. Why you get no political traction. Please, continue….”

    His arrogance fits right in with McNeil’s.

  5. Philip,
    To slightly adapt your great point: “It’s that the world is full of bright, skilled, and resourceful people who are happy to contribute to community and economy through meaningful work they are passionate about. I’m constantly impressed by the people I meet in communities all over the world who find a way to make doing what they love work.” Well, no, I’ve not personally met people “in communities all over the world” but the point is surely true. Meaningful work is humans’ greatest “want”, is it not? If we can set ourselves free from the fetters of global capitalism and what remains of state socialism people themselves will find together through their boundless skills and resourcefulness the meaningful work in community economies that makes life livable and fulfilling. I’m riffing off Chomsky’s Government in the Future where he draws from Wilhelm von Humboldt’s Limits of State Action (written in 1792) and the early Marx.