News

1. Ignorance is bliss: city councillors still not briefed on potential malfeasance by Halifax police

Mayor Mike Savage. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“We’re witnessing an astonishing display of cowardice from our elected officials,” writes Tim this morning, after looking for answers on why a city lawyer intervened to prevent the release of court documents that could shed light on what went wrong with the Glen Assoun wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

According to his lawyers, police “malfeasance” sits at the heart of the wrongful imprisonment of Glen Assoun for the 1995 murder of Brenda Way. Police had evidence that would have exonerated Assoun at least as early as 2006, but police did not turn that evidence over to Assoun’s lawyers or notify the court, and so Assoun stayed in prison another eight years.

Despite indications of questionable police actions, writes Tim, neither city council nor the police board of commissioners has been briefed about the case. Click here to read An astonishing display of cowardice: city councillors are ignoring police misconduct in the Assoun case.

You can support the Examiner legal fund here.

2. Judicial review says no further action in Hines death

Karissa Donkin from CBC New Brunswick reports that a judicial review by four prosecutors upheld a judge’s decision to discharge two guards previously charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death. This means no further legal action surrounding the death of Matthew Hines in 2015.

CBC has posted a 50 minute video that was submitted as evidence in the trial against the two guards.

Donkin describes the lead up to Hines’s death:

Hines came to correctional officers’ attention on the night of May 26, 2015, when he refused to return to his cell at Dorchester Penitentiary. The 33-year-old from Cape Breton was serving a prison sentence for robbery at the time.

Officers found him in a neighbouring cell, where he was hugging his cousin. Hines was acting strange, and in their observation statements, many officers said they believed he was under the influence of drugs.

“Don’t let them end my life!” officers heard Hines yell in his cousin’s cell.

Later, Hines was pepper sprayed at least four times by Ross and Bourgoin at close range, while he was handcuffed and restrained by several correctional officers.

A use-of-force expert hired by Nova Scotia RCMP, which investigated the death of Hines, found the use of pepper spray was unnecessary and did not comply with policy or training.

After he was pepper sprayed, officers escorted Hines to a decontamination shower cell. Handcuffed behind his back and with his shirt pulled over his head, Hines was sent into the shower to wash off. [Note: The video posted by CBC indicates that Hines’s shirt was not pulled over his head while in the shower, though he was handcuffed and on the ground.]

“Please, I’m begging you!” Hines yelled over and over again.

Lying on that shower floor would have felt like the torture technique waterboarding, according to a 2017 report by the federal correctional investigator.

Soon after, Hines went into medical distress and had difficulty breathing. He was taken to a health-care wing but did not receive any medical treatment from a nurse on duty, according to an investigation by Correctional Service Canada.

Hines was then taken to hospital in an ambulance. That’s where he was pronounced dead at 12:04 a.m. on May 27, 2015, less than two hours after he refused to go to his cell.

3. Speed zones to protect right whales not enough, says scientific review

Researchers from the Marine Animal Response Society examining a dead right whale in 2017. Photo: Marine Animal Response Society

Teresa Wright of the Canadian Press is reporting on a federal scientific review looking at the relatively new right whale population in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the risks they face from ships strikes and lost fishing gear. Reports Wright,

The federal scientific review confirmed an increased presence of right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence since 2015, with the highest concentrations in warmer months. They come seeking food, and their favourite meal — a particular small crustacean — has become abundant in the Gulf of St. Lawrence since 2010.

Aerial surveys estimate there were at least 190 right whales in the Gulf last year, half the total known population everywhere.

When it comes to the likelihood of these whales being struck by marine vessels, the scientists found mandatory speed restrictions implemented in 2017 in response to multiple whales washing up dead on eastern Canadian shores did reduce the risk of lethal strikes by 56 per cent. Mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots for vessels 20 metres or longer were enacted again last year and have been in place this year since April 28.

But outside these reduced-speed zones, ships are actually going faster to make up for lost time, and so reduced risk inside the zones are being met with increased risk outside the zones. Lost fishing gear is also a major danger for whales in the Gulf of St Lawrence, reports Wright.

The scientists indicated they found it difficult to fully measure the risks of future entanglements due to a lack of data on fisheries efforts, including inconsistencies in reporting of where fishing gear is positioned and a lack of information about when gear is placed in the water.

Lost fishing great might not seem like a problem of any grand scale, but last year, a study of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch found that 46% of the trash was fishing nets alone, and much of the rest was other types of fishing gear. In the age where we can locate about 4.6 billion cell phones via GPS, it seems preposterous that expensive and deadly fishing gear is lost and not retrieved, but left to go about entangling endangered species like right whales.

4. 35-storey tower complex proposed for Wyse Road includes plenty of parking

The tower craze is Dartmouth-bound. In an area where the Centre Plan is calling for maximum 27-storey heights, developers John, Jean and Robert Ghosn have proposed a 35-storey building, along with another six six-storey buildings, reports Pam Berman for the CBC and Zane Woodford for Star-Metro.

The development is proposed for the long-vacant Wyse Road lot that most may recognize as the perennial location for a travelling midway fair.

The proposal doesn’t fit current planning or proposed Centre Plan rules, so will be negotiated as a development agreement between the city and the Ghosns. The documents submitted so far can be found on the city’s website here.

In addition to ground floor commercial space and 676 residential units, the Ghosns are also proposing to build 656 new underground parking spaces at the site, a decision which arguably will have more impact on the area than the height of the building.

The complex is very close to both grocery and retail (and some damn good bagels) and the Halifax Transit bridge terminal. Unfortunately, the area is also a pedestrian hellscape, with the massively wide intersection at Nantucket and Wyse, complete with channelized right turn lanes and pedestrian signals that won’t activate until after buttons have been pressed. It will be interesting to see if the city can figure out a way to have this development help pay for the on-street transformation that’s needed on Wyse Road to make this sort of density actually fit the area.

It could take a year for this negotiation to work its way through the system, and there will be public hearings involved near the end of the process, so stay tuned.

5. de Adder’s replacement quits

I’d like to take time to wish Greg Perry good luck. He’s caught up in something which has nothing to do with him. I would like everybody to please keep that in mind.

— Michael de Adder (@deAdder) July 2, 2019

Cartoonist Greg Perry has resigned his new gig at Brunswick News even before starting it, reports Hadeel Ibrahim for CBC News. Perry says he signed a contract weeks before de Adder was let go, and that he had no knowledge he was replacing deAdder as the two had previously worked in tandem. But that hasn’t prevented the social media vitriol, and so the cartoonist decided to back out of the job.

In a statement to CBC News, Greg Perry said the social media backlash after BNI parted ways with de Adder, then used his name in statements about the decision, has taken a toll.

“I don’t use social media, but person/persons who do have used it to essentially destroy my character and my cartoon work.

“All this over a job that pays the same per month as a job at a grocery chain. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”

Ouch for those of us slogging away at grocery chains out there. But Perry inadvertently makes an important point here: The reputation of some workers is worth more than the earnings from minimum wage jobs.

6. Ignorance is bliss, part 2: project aims to show pervasive influence of oil & gas industry

Omar Mosleh of StarMetro reports on the Corporate Mapping Project, which aims to document the role Canadian corporations, banks, universities, think tanks, media organizations, and other groups are playing in the “denialism” around the climate crisis and how to address it.

Bill Carroll, the co-director of the project and a sociology professor at the University of Victoria, said the assortment of industry-friendly organizations join forces to push a narrative that the approach to tackling climate change and energy diversification should be “business as usual.”

“I think it has a massive influence,” Carroll said. “At a cultural level, the industry has put together a narrative that many people have bought into, and not just into Alberta, that this industry is at the centre of life and we could not live without it.

“Meanwhile the climate crisis is getting worse and worse. … It’s frankly irresponsible for people to be engaging in effect a kind of denialism at this point,” he added.


Noticed

It’s gonna be HOT tomorrow. Find a splash pad/lake/Atlantic ocean near you.

The details from Environment Canada:

Much warmer temperatures will move across Nova Scotia today and Friday. Maximum temperatures of 30 degrees or more are expected over inland areas on Friday and humidex values near 35 are possible. Minimum temperatures overnight Friday into Saturday will be 16 to 20 degrees, providing little relief from the heat. Maximum temperatures will be a bit cooler on Saturday but high humidity values will persist. Temperature and humidity levels will fall late Saturday as a cold front approaches the province. Temperatures will remain cooler for coastal communities due to onshore breezes.


Government

City

Thursday

Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — all about drive-thrus.

Friday

No public meetings.

Province

No public meetings this week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Thesis Defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Thursday, 9:30am, Room C264, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Tyler MacDonald will defend “Mechanistic Insight into the Prolactin-/Androgen-inducible Carbopeptidase-D and EDD E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Genes in Triple-negative Breast Cancer.”

The principal of microbial infallibility in the metagenomic era (Thursday, 10am, Room 3H1, Tupper Medical Building) — Maureen O’Malley from the University of Sydney will talk.

Thesis Defence, Medical Neuroscience (Thursday, 10:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Ellen Parker will defend “Pro-Inflammatory Transforming Growth Factor Beta Signalling as a Therapeutic Target for Repetitive Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.”


In the harbour

01:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
05:00: Grande Torino, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Valencia, Spain
06:00: RHL Agilitas, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
07:00: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
07:00: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
07:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
10:00: Horizon Enabler, offshore supply ship, sails from Old Coast Guard Base to commence trials in the harbour for three hours, then returns to Old Coast Guard Base
11:00: Grande Torino sails for sea
11:00: Selfoss sails for Portland
13:00: Sycara V, superyacht, sails from Salters Landing for sea

15:00: USS Billings, US littoral combat ship, arrives at Dockyard; the boat crashed last week in Montreal, and then the Navy found a new captain for it.
15:45: Zaandam sails for Bar Harbor
16:30: RHL Agilitas sails for Kingston, Jamaica
17:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport


Footnotes

Looking forward to hearing people go into fits about this small heat wave tomorrow, and hoping nobody actually suffers too badly.


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  1. I’ve tried for 2 days to speak with the Public Library’s program director Skov-Nielsen on who and how the decision was made to order cops to be at a movie screening. She doesn’t seem to want to take my calls. Maybe Tim will have more luck. Or whatever you call what one needs to get the small tight group of status quo power wielding mutherfuckers in this place to tell the truth.

  2. One of the dominant examples of climate crisis denialism is right under our nose in Halifax. Plans are continuing to build the new art gallery and accompanying campus of NACAD at the waterline at a site dead in the middle of inevitable sea level rise and severe weather impacts. The project is being driven by decades old decisions made before the full impacts of climate change were known. Now Te project is investing hundreds of millions in public funded infrastructure in a “Red zone”. It is this kind of arrogance which sets negative examples and impedes the necessary adaptations that have to begin now.