In the harbour
1. Prison deaths
“Two Newfoundland families have launched negligence lawsuits against Correctional Service Canada over the separate deaths of two women in a Nova Scotia penitentiary, alleging the prison failed to provide proper physical and mental health care in both cases,” reports Michael Tutton for the Canadian Press:
Veronica Park and Camille Strickland-Murphy, both from Newfoundland and Labrador, died months apart in 2015 at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro.
Their families filed lawsuits earlier this year before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Truro seeking damages and alleging negligence on the part of Correctional Service Canada, with Ottawa lawyer Frances Shapiro Munn leading both cases.
None of the allegations made in the suit have been proven in court, and a statement of defence has not yet been filed by Ottawa.
2. That crappy old office building on Argyle Street
Surprisingly, at least to me, Halifax developer George Armoyan has agreed to buy the old World Trade and Convention Centre building.
3. Cop charged
A news release from the province’s Serious Incident Response Team:
Today [Thursday] SiRT laid charges of theft of cocaine, trafficking in cocaine, breach of trust, and laundering proceeds of crime against Staff Sergeant Craig Robert Burnett, a member of the RCMP working at the RCMP Operational Communications Centre (OCC), located in Truro.
In September of 2015 SiRT was contacted by the RCMP in relation to information they received which alleged in 2011, a member of the RCMP had stolen a 10 kg quantity of cocaine from an exhibit locker and replaced the drugs with another substance. These drugs were scheduled to be destroyed as they were no longer evidence in a court case.
The allegations included that the member had provided the cocaine to other persons who sold it, allegedly resulting in the member receiving substantial proceeds from the sale.
Early on it was determined that the investigation required significant investigational resources. As a result, the investigation was carried out by numerous RCMP members from Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Alberta, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, under the independent oversight of the Director of SiRT. The RCMP devoted the substantial investigative resources needed to reach the conclusion of the investigation.
Staff Sergeant Burnett will appear in Provincial Court in Halifax today for the purpose of setting release conditions.
A press release from the Department of Natural Resources:
The discovery of a colony of healthy bats is a hopeful sign for Nova Scotia’s at-risk bat population.
Scientists estimate that nearly 300 healthy female little brown bats and their young are thriving at the site, which is the largest known maternity colony in the province.
Bats are ecologically and economically important mammals. A bat can eat up to half its weight in insects every night — the equivalent of 1,000 to 3,000 mosquitoes. Bats in eastern North America are at risk after years of population decline due to white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease affecting bats. It has killed about seven million bats in the region.
“This discovery is very significant as the recovery potential of our bats depends on the number of healthy females,” said Minister of Natural Resources Lloyd Hines. “Every bat sighting provides important information to scientists and we encourage people to report observations of bats each time one is seen.”
As part of its commitment to the monitoring and recovery of species at risk, the province is asking people to help track Nova Scotia’s bat population by reporting bat sightings on the website www.batconservation.ca or by calling 1-866-727-3447 toll free.
“We hope people will continue to report bat sightings so we can learn from these new discoveries and one day return to a healthy bat population in Nova Scotia,” Mr. Hines said.
Due to the concerns for the bat population, the location of the healthy colony is not being revealed.
I managed to upset two different media organizations this week.
First, I incorrectly reported that Robert Devet “broke” the story of allegations of racism at the city’s Parks and Road Operations and Construction unit. In fact, News 95.7 had the story some weeks ago, and published the report detailing the allegations.
Second, when I wrote that local media have ignored the Unique Solutions story, I included allnovascotia.com in the list of media outlets. In fact, allnovascotia.com has followed the company extensively.
Mea culpa, and my apologies.
1. Halifax Needham
“The Liberals can’t lose the Halifax Needham byelection,” writes Graham Steele. “Yes, they can lose in the sense of not winning, but politically they win either way”:
If the Liberals take the riding, it shows great strength heading into an expected 2017 general election.
If the NDP’s Lisa Roberts wins, the Liberals can shrug and say, “It’s an NDP constituency and was never ours to win.”
At worst, the Liberals come out of the byelection with an experienced candidate, ready to go back at it within a year.
I interviewed Roberts and PC candidate Andy Arsenault yesterday for this week’s Examineradio. The show airs on CKDU radio, 88.1 FM, at 4:30pm, and will be posted as a podcast here and on iTunes around the same time. (Liberal Rod Wilson declined our invitation.)
2. Cranky letter of the day
There has been a lot of talk about the recent rash of sexual assaults by cab drivers in Halifax (“No safe way home,” cover story by Moira Donovan, July 28). This is a fiction. “Rash” implies something unusual. That’s not what’s happening here. This is not unusual. It’s not a new phenomenon. I don’t even think it’s increasing in frequency.
This shit has been going on forever.
I’m 52 years old. When I was a teenager, my grandmother told me never to sit in the front seat of a cab. She was blunt about the reason. “It’s too easy for the driver to grab you,” she said. My grandmother was in possession of this insight 35 years ago. And this is the advice the police are giving young women today. I’ll just let that sink in for a minute.
It’s comforting to blame creepy Middle Eastern dudes who don’t respect women. Except wholesome home-grown white boys defined the rapey cab driver genre decades ago. Funny how Western society is more outraged by sexual assault when it’s committed by brown men. But I digress.
As a young woman, I frequently put myself in vulnerable situations. I went to bars. I drank. I walked home alone. And I took cabs. I’ve had rapey cab drivers make a grab for me more times than I can remember. Also rapey bouncers, bosses, randos on the street and even a couple of cops. Wherever women are vulnerable, there are men prepared to take advantage of them. It’s always been that way.
So what’s different? Because clearly something is different. It’s not the creeps and predators; they, like the poor, are always with us. It’s not that law enforcement has suddenly started taking an interest in crimes they would have ignored a year ago. And it’s certainly not the justice system, which continues to put victims on trial right along with their attackers. No. What’s different is women. Women, to quote Howard Beale, are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.
Jian Ghomeshi may have walked, but he ushered in a sea change in the way women respond to sexual harassment and sexual assault. We’re done deflecting, ignoring and shrugging off unwanted sexual attention. We’re done taking responsibility for being attacked. We’re done feeling ashamed for failing to keep ourselves safe. We’re done, to paraphrase Erin McKean, accepting men’s sexual aggression as the rent we pay for occupying a space marked “female.”
Rapey cab drivers are not in the news because there are suddenly more of them, or because they belong to a certain demographic. They, and all their rapey brethren, have abruptly appeared on the radar because women are Done With This Shit.
This has always happened. You haven’t heard about it because women haven’t talked about it, except among ourselves. We haven’t talked about it because we’ve been taught that even if the police believe us, there’s nothing they can do, and it was probably our fault anyway. We’re waking up, collectively, and we’re rejecting that lesson. Now, when it happens, we’re screaming bloody murder.
Claudette Frizzell, Halifax
Last Friday, Tourism Nova Scotia issued a press release with various statistics related to tourism and the economic impact from tourism for the first six months of this year. I’ve been trying to parse and understand the numbers all week, to no avail. Frankly, they make no sense to me at all, and I question the methodology; the figures seem to be purposefully obtuse. But maybe not! I’m promised a meeting with a statistician next week to review the numbers and methodology, and we’ll see where that goes.
But as I was looking at the numbers of tourists coming to Nova Scotia, I wondered if there was a correlation of the number of tourists and the value of the Canadian dollar for Americans.
Here’s a chart showing the value of Canadian dollar to the US dollar since 2006:
And here’s a chart I created from Tourism Nova Scotia historic figures showing the number of tourists to Nova Scotia, also since 2006. Note that the number of tourists peaked in 2007 at 2,139,600, and we still haven’t recovered (although this year we might):
And I approximated the value of the loonie for each year (the green bars using values on the right Y axis) and compared it to the number of tourists (the blue line using values on the left Y axis).
My chart-making abilities are challenged this morning — I’d like to narrow the value field for the right Y axis, but can’t figure it out right now — but still, I think the chart shows that while the value of the loonie is a factor when it comes to tourism, it doesn’t seem to be the defining factor, at least not since the financial collapse of 2008/09. Or maybe we’re only now recovering from the shock of the financial collapse, and the tourists/loonie correlation is beginning to reassert itself.
One problem with the above chart is it considers all tourists, and not just tourists from the United States. Over the weekend I’ll build this chart looking specifically at American tourists.
No public meetings.
Thesis defence, History (9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Barbara Pearce will defend her thesis, “Cultivating Contention: An Historical Inquiry into Agrarian Reform, Rural Oppression and Farm Attacks in the Midlands of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.”
Thesis defence, Psychology (10am, Room 429/430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Cindy Hamon-Hill will defend her thesis, “If you see what I see, then I know how You feel: How Scene Context and Facial Mimicry Differentially Affect Situated Recognition of Dynamic and Static Expression.”
Scheduled as of 7am:
6am: New Breeze, oil tanker, moves from Imperial Oil to Bedford Basin Anchorage
6:30am: Energy Patriot, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Port Arthur, Texas
7:30am: Atlantic Conveyor, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
8am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, moves from Pier 26 to Pier 36
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
6am: Maersk Pembroke, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from Montreal
11am: Algoma Mariner, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Port Cartier, Quebec
7am: Berlin Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
7am: Helga, general cargo, arrives at Pier 31 from Willemstad, Curaçao
Noon: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
I don’t know for sure, but it feels like a beer garden kind of day.
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I would think there would be a lag of about a year for (American) tourists responding to better dollar rate. Most people decide/plan/book a trip for the year following a good dollar rate.
Tim. You’re on the right track with the tourism numbers. Add the cost of fuel, the demise of the original Cat Ferry and the 07/08 housing/market crash and it makes sense.
Another factor which I think suppresses tourism numbers is the requirement for a passport. That measure was brought in for no substantiated reason and continues to stifle visitors coming here from the US. If that could be lifted by the US, I am certain both countries would benefit.
I agree with Tim Jaques about the quality of architecture which is replacing the buildings that have been destroyed. . The Halifax I know is being destroyed block by block. The historic or interesting unusual gems of buildings that have been demolished in this city boggles the mind.
We are losing our identity as a city. We are becoming a poor carbon copy of Scarborough. The library and the Purdy’s Warf buildings are the only ones that have any character. The rest…..pshaw
The cranky letter of the day has mirrored some of my own experiences. I can’t believe I put up with that s**t for so long.. I was young and vulnerable when the worst assaults happened. Young women didn’t have much of a voice back then. Today my daughter would never stand for the stuff I endured.
Another thought on the tourism statistics. As with customers generally, their number isn’t as important as how much they each spend, on average, while they’re here. For this reason, I think it is crucial to make a distinction between cruise ship passengers and longer-term visitors. Long-term stay visitors also spend their money on a wider variety of services, effectively subsidising things that enrich the lives of residents, too. Lawton’s, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Beavertails and the Barrington Street Superstore would survive without cruise ships, but the locally-owned businesses in Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, for example, couldn’t get by without people who stay for longer. My totally non-scientific sense is that we’re seeing an increase in these tourists (from both the U.S. and Canada) this year. That said, my business relies solidly on both types to make it through what would otherwise be our slowest time of the year.
Oh, and 2007 was the beginning of the peak retirement years for baby boomers (a boon for tourism abruptly interrupted by the economic collapse the following year).
Not sure if you have this…
It paints a much more modest view of things and reveals the weakness of the tourist boost boast.
We’re in a funny spot where we talk dumber than we actually are.
We know all jobs are not good – yet we talk jobs, jobs, jobs, making no distinction at all between jobs that deplete resources and jobs that protect resources.
We know debt is used to spread the cost of long term assets over their useful life – yet we talk as if all debt is bad.
We know ‘tourism’ is a means to an end – local micro trade where visitors leave behind capital local bsuiness would not otherwise have had access to – yet we talk as if a person from Dartmouth visiting Halifax, eating at an international fast food place and staying in globalcorp hotel has created new wealth. It hasn’t. It’s part of a globalized system that conveys wealth OUT of Nova Scotia (and all rural regions of the world) on the backs of some debt addled people often with some pretty unpleasant jobs and into the ever more concentrated hands of a very few aggregators of capital.
We can understand this. We can talk about where are wealth comes from and where it goes. People are smart enough to understand. And we can make a few difficult but reasonable changes to do it better so that ‘growth’ and ‘tourism’ are things that create broadbased prosperity, not just empty economic calories.
Some of your points are the issues I’m trying to drill down into. It appears to me that Tourism NS is purposefully conflating the hospitality industry and the tourism industry. Sure, there’s large overlap, but they are not the same thing. I’ll have more after my meeting with the stats person.
Again, we need firm numbers to substantiate this, but I think it’s a mistake to overestimate Halifax/Dartmouth’s role as a destination. Many people who make extended visits to Nova Scotia (in the summer, in any case) barely spend any time in Halifax or at its hotels at all. A lot of that money flows into the regions, and small businesses there. Also, taking a page from Piketty, the outflow of capital (while generally calculated as a national figure, rather than a regional one) is very likely a red herring. As Tim so aptly describes on a regular basis, the problem here (as everywhere) is the nature of investment–privileging shareholders over stakeholders, all planning but very little follow through.
With respect, that letter is not cranky, it is truthful. While i don’t agree that Claudette “made herself vulnerable” for having experiences that are “safe” for men, but not women (women should be safe in these situations) I think it is important to create space for women to talk about their own experiences.
The cranky letter of the day is dead on.
Loved the cranky letter (which didn’t seem so cranky to moi!).
Hear, hear. Love that letter.
Will George Armoyan demolish the old WTCC and whack up something bigger and glassy-er in it’s place? Seems to be the way things are going.
I think they only demolish nice historic buildings and replace them with big glass monstrosities. I believe early versions of monstrosities will be allowed to remain standing until there are no more historic buildings to demolish, and admittedly there is still a long way to go there.
I like good modern buildings. Unfortunately apart from the new library, which is a really nice, well thought out space, Halifax doesn’t seem to be going that way.