News

1. Glen Assoun

Glen Assoun. Photo: Halifax Examiner

In 1999, Glen Assoun was convicted of the murder of his former girlfriend, Brenda Way. He spent 16-and-a- half years in prison and four-and-a-half years under strict conditions of parole. Throughout, he maintained his innocence.

The murder of Way and conviction of Assoun is the subject of the first three parts of the Halifax Examiner’s “Dead Wrong” series.

On Friday, Assoun was finally exonerated; Supreme Court Justice James Chipman presided over an extraordinary vacating of Assoun’s sentence, and then a five-minute retrial resulting in a not-guilty verdict.

As I spent much of the day with Assoun, his family, and supporters, I waited until Saturday morning to write up my account of Friday’s events. The takeaways from my article:

• after spending 16-and-a-half years in prison and four-and-a-half years on strict parole conditions, Glen Assoun is exonerated of the 1995 murder of Brenda Way;

• Assoun’s lawyers say Halifax police failed to turn evidence over to Assoun that would have cleared him of the crime; that failure, say the lawyers, constitutes “police misconduct”;

• moreover, the evidence police withheld from Assoun points to the person or persons who actually killed Brenda Way;

• former Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould sat on the recommendation to order a new trial for Assoun for a year and a half; after she was replaced by David Lametti, Lametti ordered the new trial for Assoun after just a month and a half.

Click here to read “‘A tale of enormous suffering.’”

I have much more to say about this case, and much more reporting to do. You’ll read more from me very soon.

2. Bobbleheaded Zack

Zach Churchill

“I’m almost certain Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill is not really a Bobblehead. He was just playing one in the legislature’s Public Accounts Committee last week,” writes Stephen Kimber:

Last week, Churchill joined the Fangless Five and the Insensate Seven as he moved his head up and down in time with his premier on the issue of protecting the privacy of public records.

Click here to read “Bobbleheaded Zach joins the Public Accounts follies.”

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3. “That Rude Girl”

El Jones

El Jones writes:

But the path to liberation does not lie over my back, or over the backs of any Indigenous, Black or Woman of Colour. It will not lie in our taking one for the team, or in the disposal of a few of us as long as everyone else gets theirs. The people who dirtied our laundry by knocking us down in the dirt do not get to dictate to us how and when we wash it.

The people who never saw us as part of the team to start with do not get to tell us how to play.

Click here to read “‘That Rude Girl’: organizing as a Black woman.”

4. Mike Smith

Mike Smith as Bubbles. Photo: Facebook

“Mike Smith, who plays Bubbles on the show Trailer Park Boys, was accused in 2005 of sexually assaulting a teenager,” reports Hilary Beaumont for Vice:

A woman alleges that in 2005 when she was 18 and out with her friends in downtown Halifax, she met Smith, then 32, at a bar. She says after she showed Smith her fake ID, he bought drinks for her and her friends, who were also 18 and under the legal drinking age of 19. She later told police Smith sexually assaulted her at his home.

Police interviewed Smith, but didn’t press charges. The woman declined to go forward with her complaint after a police officer told her “fingers could be pointed” at her for being in a bar underage.

VICE News unearthed the complaint as part of a months-long investigation into Smith’s behavior toward women, and bars Smith co-owns in Halifax, which have been frequently cited for liquor infractions, including women found passed out in bathroom stalls and alcohol being served to minors. Last year, three women came forward in the media alleging they believed they had been drugged at one of Smith’s bars. Smith was not alleged to have been involved in any of these incidents.

But Smith has been a topic of discussion in the city’s cultural scene, as questions swirl around an alleged case of assault in Los Angeles. Smith was charged in 2016 with domestic battery after witnesses said they saw the actor choke a woman in a hotel bathroom. The next day, Smith and the woman put out a joint statement saying that the “heated argument” had been misconstrued. The woman said she did not feel she was in danger, and the charge was ultimately dropped. Witnesses interviewed by VICE News, however, stand by their account of what they say was a violent assault.

Click here to read “Mike Smith of ‘Trailer Park Boys’ accused of sexual assault.”

Among other aspects of the story, Beaumont dove into the operations at three Halifax bars Smith has or has had an ownership stake in — Bubble’s Mansion, The Toothy Moose, and Sniggly Wiggly.

5. Divest Dal

Divest Dal demonstrated outside a Board of Governors meeting in October 2017. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Taryn Grant, writing for StarMetro Halifax, profiles the Dalhousie student group Divest Dal.

6. Blue Mountain Birch-Cove Lakes Wilderness Park

The Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes wilderness. Photo: Tim Bousquet

On Halifax council’s in-camera agenda tomorrow is the following motion:

1. Authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to negotiate and approve the purchase of the lands associated with the proposed Blue Mountain Birch-Cove Lakes Wilderness Park identified in, and under the terms and conditions outlined in Tables 1 and 2 of the private and confidential staff report dated February 28, 2019, pursuant to Administrative Order 2018-004 and authorize the Mayor and Clerk to execute any agreements that may be necessary;
2. Accept federal funding pursuant to the aforementioned acquisitions and authorize the Mayor and Clerk to enter any agreements that may be necessary;
3. Authorize the expenditure from the Project Account No. CP180004 – Park Land Acquisition of the funds necessary to complete the aforementioned property purchases; 
4. Direct staff to continue to implement the plan for future acquisitions of other lands within the Blue Mountain Birch-Cove Lakes Wilderness Park boundary as outlined in the Discussion section of the private and confidential staff report date February 28, 2019; and
5. Not release the private and confidential staff report dated February 28, 2019 to the public.  

7. Shocking horses — and taxpayers

Watch out, horses!

A company that makes horse fencing has defaulted on a loan extended by Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI).

A claim NSBI filed with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia names six incorporated companies and two incorporated Trust companies as defendants. The companies are all associated with Edwin David Bryson, who lived in the south end, at an address where all the companies were registered.

According to the claim, Bryson operated a company called EBF Manufacturing Limited (EBF), which “was a manufacturer of Braided Electric Fence, an electrified horse fencing that provided an alternative to barbed-wire or traditional fencing.”

According to the ElectroBraid website:

Traditional electric horse fence uses small diameter steel wires, which are hard for horses to see. The ropes of ElectroBraid® are highly visible. ElectroBraid® can absorb the energy of a panicked horse and will typically bounce the horse back into its pasture with no harm to horse or fence.

..

“Horses love ElectroBraid® !” our customers tell us. Horses are herd animals, born to roam free in wide-open spaces. With ElectroBraid® fence, all the horses can see each other and stallions can see their mares. There are no places for predators to hide. Horses don’t pace up and down their fence line. Owners say horses are more relaxed. They can see you and you can see them!

ElectroBraid® horse fencing is both a physical barrier and a psychological deterrent. Once a horse receives a shock, the horse will not go near the fence again. It won’t rub against the fence. It won’t crib on it. And it won’t try to jump over it or go through it or go under. It doesn’t want to get shocked again.

The company even has a 12-minute YouTube video about the fence.

I’ll let others decide if a product that shocks and bounces horses around is something the citizens of Nova Scotia should be financing, but NSBI was totally on board. Back in 2010, NSBI extended a $400,000 working capital loan to EBF “to increase inventory and cover overhead and production costs.”

Alas, “EBF was unable to obtain forecasted growth,” and so the terms of the loan were amended in 2012, 2013, and then again in 2016.

“EBF made payments on the loan from September 2016 through to December 2017. The company also made a payment of $1500 on January 1, 2018,” reads the claim — apparently, no payments were made from 2010 through August 2016. “These payments were applied to interest arrears.”

“The loan matured on January 1, 2018,” continues the claim, “at which time the outstanding principal became due and payable in full.”

EBF owes $424,475.75 on the loan, which is the total of $341,000 in principal, $83,47.75 in interest, and an NSF fee of $5.

The loan was secured by Bryson Associates Limited, ElectroBraid Fence Inc., Bryson Family Trust 2006, Bryson Family Trust, 3015779 Nova Scotia Limited, E.B.F. Manufacturing Limited, ElectroBraid Fence Limited, 3189572 Nova Scotia Limited, and by Bryson personally.

Registrations at the Registry of Joint Stock Companies show that ElectroBraid Fence Limited is still an active company, and still registered at Bryson’s south end home.

The house is part of a little development on Beaufort Avenue called Merlin Court. I’m not clear on this, but it appears Bryson was trying to develop the property, building his own house and then attempting to sell off five other lots on the property to be developed.

In May 2018, the development was subject to a a bankruptcy order. According to the order, the entire Merlin Court development was financed by a $3,225,000 mortgage extended to another numbered company — 3291735 Nova Scotia Limited — owned by Bryson and guaranteed by Bryson and E.B.F. Manufacturing Limited.

According to property records, ownership of the property was transferred — presumably back to the bank — in June of 2018 for $3,225,000.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with starting a new business and trying to make it with a new product, whether it’s horse fencing or body scanners, or what have you (I draw the line at quack medicine, tho), and failing. Most new businesses fail, so this is no moral failing. Have at it, see how it goes. Capitalism, yah.

But I don’t see why the good people of Nova Scotia, and their wallets, should be dragged into every connected person’s get-rich scheme. Because that’s what this is, right?

8. Alberta beef

I’ll let Philip Moscovitch speak on this one:

The Conservative Party is holding a fundraiser in the middle of Nova Scotia farm country – and bragging about serving Alberta beef.

— Philip Moscovitch (@PhilMoscovitch) March 2, 2019

Link here.

Moscovitch continues:

Also, I like that the dude is delivering the beef from Alberta, like he personally drove across the country with the steaks. The only way we can get beef in this God-forsaken province is to have an MP drive it here from Alberta.

— Philip Moscovitch (@PhilMoscovitch) March 2, 2019

The event is being held at the Kentville Volunteer Fire Department, which Google Maps tells me is exactly an 11-minute drive from the family-owned K.B. Kinsman & Son Farm, the topmost producer profile on the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers’ website.

“The Kinsmans have been producing beef for 40 years,” reads the profile:

K.B. Kinsman & Son Farm Limited have only one full time employee — Cody Legge. He was hired on as a summer employee when he was 14, then became full time after graduating high school, and once again after graduating from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro. Cody is a hard worker and is very dedicated to farming. He has become like a part of the family, the Kinsmans say.

Keith and Diane’s 15 year-old grandson, Kameron Kinsman, helps out when he is out of school, as well as during the summer break. He says “it’s what I love doing — it runs in the family.” Kameron hopes to attend the Dalhousie Agriculture Campus in Truro, after graduating from high school.

Keith Kinsman, who is the heart of the operation, is nearing 75 years young and is still out working every day. Keith enjoys farming as much as anyone and doesn’t plan to stop working for a while yet. Being a welder back in the day, he still enjoys creating useful things for the farm in the repair shop on the farm when he has a chance.

Diane Kinsman, Keith’s wife, can often be found in the house looking after the bookkeeping and such, or making lunch for the men at the farm.

The Kinsmans say: “it is a love of what you do and the team work that makes it all come together!”.

I wonder if the Kinsmans will be at the PC fundraiser.

9. Nova Scotia stories

I was going to say up above, isn’t The Trailer Boys schtick getting old? I mean, I guess the joke was funny back in the previous century, and maybe into the aughts of this century, but the “always stay in character” bit was tiresome from the get-go, and creator Mike Clattenburg had the good sense to move on a while ago…

Anyway, there are other Nova Scotian stories that can be told. Like this one from Collingwood, which is up near Springhill:

A member from Collingwood Fire just advised he got carjacked while stopping to check out a potential MVA. I first heard him radio in that he was stopping to check on an accident, the next transmission was an urgent request to RCMP that his vehicle had been stolen by the aided. Oy

— Halifax Fire News (@HRMFireNews) March 3, 2019

The @HRMFireNews Twitter account is a must-follow, by the way. And the CBC followed up on the story, of course not crediting the original source:

A volunteer firefighter who pulled over to help three people whose car went off the road in Cumberland County, N.S., Sunday afternoon had his car stolen — allegedly by the people he was trying to help, RCMP say.

“He came upon the vehicle that was off the road and looked into it to see if any assistance was required and the occupants of that vehicle then aligned things to their advantage to be able to take the firefighter’s vehicle,” RCMP Cpl. Andrew Joyce said.

He said there was a report of a car crash at that time, but did not know if there were any other vehicles involved.

The suspects are two males and one female, Joyce said. Details of how the theft happened are still unclear, but he says the firefighter wasn’t hurt during the incident.

Anyway, somebody should make a TV show about that trio, but kill it after a season or two, eh?

10. Weather

There’s weather today.


Government

City

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

City Council (Tuesday , 1pm, City Hall) — agenda

Public Planning Session – Northbrook Park (Tuesday, 7pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — a public planning session for upgrades to Northbrook Park.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

International Space Station. Photo: STS-199 shuttle Crew, NASA

Ask an Astronaut (Monday, 10:45am, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — an interactive live-link with the International Space Station, where astronaut David Saint-Jacques will answer questions live from space. Livestreamed here. Register here.

Overview of Atlantic PATH: Accelerate Your Research (Monday, 12:30pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — Vanessa DeClercq will speak.

Thesis Defence, Biology (Monday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Rebekah Oomen will defend her thesis, “The Genomic Basis and Spatial Scale of Variation in Thermal Responses of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua).”

Tuesday

Thesis Defence, Mechanical Engineering (Tuesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Gregory Sweet will defend his ​​thesis, “Improving the Mechanical and Physical Properties of an Aluminum Powder Metallurgy Metal Matrix Composite via Hot Upset Forging.”

Thesis Defence, Oceanography (Tuesday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Brent Law​​​​​ will defend his ​​thesis, “Quantifying Transport of Aquaculture Particulate Wastes.​”

When I Stutter (Tuesday, 6:45pm, Room 301, Halifax Central Library) — Maritimes premiere of the 2017 documentary. View trailer here.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Irish Nationalism, 1886-1924, and Ernie O’Malley’s IRA Role, 1916-1924 (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 171 Loyola) — Cormac O’Malley will talk about one of the most significant figures in the Irish Revolution.


In the harbour

06:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Philipsburg, Saint Croix
08:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
15:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
15:30: Manon, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
16:30: Tropic Hope sails for sea Palm Beach, Florida


Footnotes

Many thanks to Suzanne Rent, Philip Moscovitch, and Erica Butler for filling in for last week’s Morning Files.

I’ve been proud of the work the Examiner has published of late, not just my own work but also the other writers’ work. It feels like we’ve hit a nice stride, and I hope we can maintain it and maybe even improve upon it.

Of course, that requires consistent and growing income. Your subscriptions make this work possible. Your subscriptions pay for the ever-increasing legal bills that allow us to push the reporting into difficult areas. Your subscriptions pay for the guest writers for Morning File, which in turns free up some of my time so I can dive into longer investigative pieces. And your subscriptions pay the salaries and expenses of freelance writers who are doing excellent work. For those who have brought us this far, you have my sincere appreciation.

And for those who have been putting it off, this would be an excellent time to subscribe. Thanks much!

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Wait what? The electric horse fence?
    $8300 interest on a $341,000 loan? That’s at a rate of 2.44%, if it was paid in 1 year. But the loan was made in 2010 and payment now due in 2019 makes that an annual interest rate of .27%. How the fuck can I get one of those loans?

  2. On Wednesday I thought Ms Raybould was brilliant when speaking at the Justice Committee.
    On Friday I said to myself ‘How many other files sat on her deak for month after month?’.
    Facts are not partisan.
    Were other reporters close enough to hear your question and the answer ?

    1. I tend not to ask questions for other reporters. I usually avoid press conferences and scrums, unless there’s no other way to ask the question. Campbell’s implied criticism of JWR was said in open court, while my conversations about it with Innocence Canada people were elsewhere.

  3. 4. Direct staff to continue to implement the plan for future acquisitions of other lands within the Blue Mountain Birch-Cove Lakes Wilderness Park boundary as outlined in the Discussion section of the private and confidential staff report date February 28, 2019; and

    5. Not release the private and confidential staff report dated February 28, 2019 to the public.

    Isn’t that Nova Scotia governance in a nutshell. What are our politicians so afraid of? Accountability? Feathering their corporate buddies’ nests? Not employing enough lawyers?

    Such secrecy is unacceptable.

  4. I’ve been really enjoying the rotating slate of MF contributors (not that I don’t like it when you write, Tim, but it’s interesting to see others’ priorities and takes).

    I was telling Phil that while reading his MF last week, I hadn’t read the byline, but 1/4 of the way through I knew it was him.

    (minor correction, but see stray “Moscovitz”above)

  5. I heard about the Conservative fundraiser from a public Facebook post by Allan Lynch. Did not think my tweet would get so much attention. I should have credited Allan.