News

1. Oil leak

Tufts Cove Generating Plant. Photo: Halifax Examiner

From a Nova Scotia Power press release:

Late this afternoon (THURSDAY), Nova Scotia Power’s Tufts Cove Generating Station had a limited oil leak from an exterior pipe at Tufts Cove that runs from onsite storage tanks along the harbour-side of the facility into the plant.

Plant staff immediately activated environmental response protocols by shutting off oil flow through the pipe to stop the leak, deploying a boom in the area of the water nearest to the leak, and alerting the company’s environmental services contractors who happened to be onsite at the time. 

Contractors have since installed a second, larger boom to contain the oil sheen that has been observed in front of the plant and a vacuum truck has initiated cleanup of the oil in the water.

“Limited” is PR spin. Every oil spill is “limited” in some sense — the Deepwater Horizon spill that destroyed the Gulf of Mexico fisheries was limited, as it could have been even bigger and still be gushing to this day.

This annoys me. It shouldn’t be the job of PR professionals to spin the public’s perception of an oil spill. If they couldn’t quantify the amount of oil spilled, they should have issued a factual press release that simply said there was an oil leak and outlined the company’s efforts to contain it. I’ll leave it to outside agencies and experts to assess the level of damage.

I wish responsible PR people would call out their colleagues for this kind of behaviour.

2. Killam bans cannabis

One of the largest landlords in town, Killam Properties, has banned the smoking of cannabis in its buildings. That is the company’s right under a provincial law enacted in anticipation of legalization, but I was amazed at some of the conditions placed on tenants that have nothing to do with cannabis.

For example, tenants must keep their apartments heated to 18 degrees in the winter. I’ve been feeling guilty ever since I bumped up my furnace default nighttime temperature from 12 degrees to 15 degrees (I’m getting old), but I guess Killam residents aren’t supposed to consider the environment (or their wallets) at all. Also, residents are prohibited from hanging their laundry on their balconies.

In the summer, however, air conditioners are prohibited, I’m guessing for fear of water damage.

Click here to read the notice one tenant posted on social media.

Weirdly, the notice says Killam buildings will become “marijuana smoke-free… effective December 1, 2018,” so that means residents are allowed to smoke in their apartments from the day of legalization, October 17, until November 30.

Enjoy your six weeks of cannabis-smoking freedom, Killam residents!

3. Leitches Creek

The Cape Breton Regional Police issued a release yesterday announcing charges related to the death of 17-year-old Joneil Hanna on a highway in Leitches Creek. In the release, police chief Peter McIsaac condemns “a wealth of misinformation — based on assumptions, opinions and rumors — circulating in the community and on social media, and then reported in the media.”

Cape Breton Regional Police have concluded the investigation of a June 10th fatal motor vehicle-pedestrian collision on Highway 223, as well as the circumstances of a graduation party in the nearby area that same night. Major Crime investigators, with assistance from Traffic Safety and Forensic Identification Units have brought together evidence from the scene, accident reconstruction and vehicle analysis, interviews and statements from more than 30 individuals, the Medical Examiner’s report and consultation with the Crown Prosecutor.  

As a result, the 21-year-old driver of the vehicle — who was proven not impaired — is charged with Attempting to Obstruct Justice in connection with circumstances following the collision; Hayden Kenneth Laffin, of Bras d’Or, appeared in Sydney Provincial Court today. Additionally, the two homeowners that hosted the graduation party are charged with Allowing Drunkenness on their property. Under the Liquor Control Act, this offence carries a maximum fine of $2,000.00 and/or six months in jail. Kenneth Wilkie (52) and Donna Wilkie (49), of Leitches Creek, will appear in Sydney Provincial Court on September 18th to face these charges. 

Chief Peter McIsaac says: “This was a very tragic accident that led to a very complex and difficult set of circumstances to investigate — multiple involved persons and witnesses, initial confusion at the scene over what actually caused the victim’s injuries, and the additional questions about the circumstances leading up to the collision, including a nearby graduation party. The complexity of this investigation was further complicated by a wealth of misinformation — based on assumptions, opinions and rumors — circulating in the community and on social media, and then reported in the media, generating significant criticism towards the police. It is extremely frustrating and disappointing to not be able to comment directly on this kind of misinformation — for example: the discrepancies between what was being said in community conversations and to the media in contradiction to what was being provided to investigators in official witness statements; the fact that investigators maintained daily contact with the victim’s family; and, the evidence available to support that the driver of the vehicle was not impaired, and that officers had zero probable grounds to issue a breathalyzer demand, including multiple observations, interactions and conversations with the driver — during the hours before the collision, at the scene, and in the hours after the incident — by officers trained in standard field sobriety testing and as breathalyzer technicians, as well as witness statements and audio evidence in the minutes immediately following the collision.  

This causes challenges for our investigation, but collecting and verifying information is part of our jobs and we manage that. What’s more disappointing is how the misinformed sensationalism was hurtful and harmful to the people involved in and affected by this incident, as well as their families, to the point that their personal safety and well-being were put at risk. During an investigation, we simply cannot say anything that might jeopardize or influence that ongoing investigation; and now, with two Court processes in the future, I cannot speak specifically to evidence that will be presented there, but I trust that it will fill in the blanks for anyone still left questioning. These charges are the result of our obligation to the facts and evidence presented to us, and our accountability to the law. I hope they also serve as a strong reminder of the risks and liabilities involved in hosting parties where alcohol is knowingly served and that hosts have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their guests and others who could be impacted by them leaving the party — especially when they are supervising those under the legal age for consuming alcohol. 

With complete confidence in the actions of our officers and our unfolding investigation, I actually requested that SiRT conduct a parallel investigation to provide independent oversight for transparency and public interest. However, with no officer wrongdoing in question concerning the cause of the collision and subsequent injury and death of the victim, this investigation did not meet the requirements of its mandate. I’m aware that there have been additional demands for SiRT and the Department of Justice to become involved in an independent investigation, and should that happen we will cooperate fully, completely and with continued confidence in our actions that night and throughout the course of the investigation. Similarly, if anyone has concerns about police conduct, there is a process in place to file a complaint to the Office of the Nova Scotia Police Complaints Commissioner for review.”

4. First degree murder charge

An RCMP release:

A 20-year-old man from Halifax was arrested without incident Wednesday morning following an investigation in to the homicide of Jamie Lee Bishop.

Investigators with the Homicide Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division arrested and charged Rae’heem Downey of Halifax with First Degree Murder and Breach of Probation. He is scheduled to appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court today to answer to the charges.

At approximately 12:45 a.m. on June 18, Bishop had been walking with a female on Hornes Rd. in Eastern Passage when a passing car stopped and someone in the vehicle shot Bishop. He was rushed to hospital where he later passed away.

5. Football

According to a lawsuit filed this week against Football Nova Scotia and Football Canada, parents of Nova Scotian children sent to play in the International Bowl in Arlington, Texas in January have raised allegations “about coaches out drinking every night” on the trip and that there was “no supervision” of the children. Moreover, one child was left off the bus returning the children from their hotel to the airport for the trip back to Halifax.

The suit is filed by Jason Warren, a St. FX grad and former football coach at Dartmouth High and elsewhere in the Metro area. In 2013, Warren was hired by Football Nova Scotia as a technical director. In 2016, he was hired on for coach and elite program development, at a salary of $49,500 annually. According to his lawsuit, in March of this year, Warren was named Football Nova Scotia’s Coach of the Year. (I believe this is incorrect, and that Warren was Coach of the Year last year.)

In October 2017, Warren was named head coach of the U16 Eastern Canada team that was going to play in Texas in January. The group consisted of two coordinators, five assistant coaches, one volunteer coach, and 40 U16 athletes, of whom 11 were from Nova Scotia. At the International Bowl, there was also a U16 team from Western Canada, and U18 and U19 teams. “In total there were approximately 160 athletes travelling for Football Canada,” reads the lawsuit.

In his lawsuit, Warren says he was improperly blamed for the alleged problems in Texas. He says he was not responsible, and that he was never named a chaperone for the trip. Moreover, he says he did not travel with the athletes and arrived in Texas several days before the athletes left for the International Bowl and left Texas several days after the athletes left.

Warren says that the volunteer coach, Pat Skerry, was “listed as the chaperone for the Nova Scotia athletes return travel from Texas to Halifax. However, Football Canada was aware that Skerry was not booked to travel with the Nova Scotia athletes. Football Nova Scotia’s error left the Nova Scotia athletes without a chaperone for their travel from Texas to Halifax.”

As Warren tells it, problems started even before the children reached the airport. Warren says that Aaron Geisler, Football Canada’s manager of program development, and Renee Bellavance, the events manager, were responsible for seeing that the children left their hotel and boarded a bus to the Dallas airport at 3:30am on January 18. Warren says he was told directly by Football Canada that he was not responsible for overseeing the trip, but he did arrange a 3am wake-up call at the hotel.

One child, named “JL” in the lawsuit, was left off the bus. (JL’s mother was in Texas, but not travelling with the team or her son.) At 4:20am, says Warren, JL called him to say that the bus had left without him. The boy said there was no hotel airport shuttle bus, so he was going to get an Uber ride. Warren told him not to do that. JL said he didn’t have a credit card so couldn’t catch an Uber in any event, but he had cash so was going to take a cab. Warren says JL hung up before he could tell him not to take a cab. The boy caught his flight.

Later that morning, says Warren, “Geiser admitted to [Warren] and Skerry that he had made the mistake of ‘swiping’ JL off the list of players even though he was not present on the bus to the airport.”

After the trip, on February 1, Warren was part of a conference call with Football Nova Scotia officials, coaches, and parents; the purpose of the call was to review the trip to Texas. The agenda for the call included an item labelled “coaches on site.” In the call itself is when JL’s mother and other unnamed parents raised the allegations “about coaches out drinking every night and no supervision.”

“The allegation was untrue,” writes Warren.

Subsequent to the call, Warren was suspended from his job. Warren raises many procedural issues related to the suspension, and says that Football Canada failed to conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations raised in the conference call.

But Warren’s main point is that “Football Canada issued the suspension… for the bad faith reason of shifting blame away from its own staff who were negligent in planning and executing the trip. As part of its handling of the suspension, Football Canada misrepresented to the parents of the Nova Scotia athletes that [Warren] was legally responsible for the athletes’ return travel to Halifax, and that he breached his duties as a coach. This misrepresentation caused him reputational damage as a coach and educator.”

Warren is represented by lawyer Nasha Nijhawan. None of the allegations raised in Warren’s suit have been tested in court, and neither Football Nova Scotia nor Football Canada have responded. A procedural hearing has been scheduled for August 10.


Government

No public meetings.


On campus

No public events.


In the harbour

1am: Nave Pulsar, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
6am: ZIM Alabama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algeciras, Spain
6am: Grande New York, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Gioia Tauro, Italy
11:30am: Grande New York, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: ZIM Alabama, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
5pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
7pm: Topaz Express, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea


Footnotes

[insert your own pithy observation here]

Tim Bousquet

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

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3 Comments

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  1. Re: Killam – it’s like every decision maker in the province has forgotten that recreational cannabis is LITERALLY A CRIME RIGHT NOW. What Beckett play are we living in when your landlord ‘allows’ you to violate the criminal code in their building but will prohibit it when its legal? Killam should also clarify their policy on selling cocaine out of one’s apartment as in all confused about the rules now.

  2. Re “This annoys me. It shouldn’t be the job of PR professionals to spin the public’s perception of an oil spill…..“I wish responsible PR people would call out their colleagues for this kind of behaviour.”

    How can responsible spin doctors call out their colleagues for spinning? That’s what they’re hired to do isn’t it? More likely that their colleagues would make a mental note of the word “limited” in this context for future use. It’s the job of journalists, not PR people, to report the truth beneath the spin, which is what the Examiner dose so well, and why we need it.

  3. The 18 degrees requirement is interesting – I can understand the bans on marijuana smoking and cultivation, but it seems to me like as a tenant I have the right to keep my apartment at whatever temperature I want as long as it isn’t so cold it risks pipes freezing.

  4. With respect to the effective date of the Cannabis ban in Killam properties being Dec1st — It may seem odd that it is after Oct 17th, but the NS legislation says they have to give 4 month notice!