News

1. Phase 5

A bartender pulls a pint. Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

Depending on how you look at it, today is either the first day Nova Scotia starts “living with COVID” or the first day of the proof of vaccination requirement.

Either way, I’m declaring this “Be Extra Kind to Servers Week.”

At the front line of enforcing the vaccine mandate are a lot of lowly paid workers, many of them young people and women who are already regularly harassed while simply doing their jobs, who are now charged with being the gatekeepers at all the province’s restaurants and bars, retail establishments, and gyms.

No doubt, most patrons will comply with the mandate without out too much to-do, but a handful will make servers’ jobs miserable. There will be ugly screaming, and possibly violence, from the anti-vaxxers.

Last night, Lil MacPherson, owner of the Wooden Monkey, posted this on her Facebook page:

To the people from the rally today that came to our restaurant and refused to wear masks and were abusive to our staff:

You should be ashamed of yourselves. Our staff are hardworking and dedicated people who come to work and follow public health orders as required by law. Your actions were hurtful and frightening to our staff. This is infuriating. Our staff do not deserve to be yelled at or threatened. You threatened lawsuits and threatened that they’d lose their jobs, which would obviously never happen. We support our staff and expect customers to treat them with the respect they deserve.

What could possess you to threaten and yell at people doing their job? Why can’t you just wear a mask?

Take your political issues up with the people that make those rules, leave our staff and restaurants alone. We follow public health guidelines and will continue to do so. Your behaviour today will not change anything.

To our guests, we will continue to follow the mandates put out by public health to keep you and our community safe. Disrespectful and dangerous behaviour will not be tolerated.

To our staff, thank you for everything you do keep yourselves, each other, and our amazing community safe while providing an incredible experience. You are absolute rock stars.

Signed,
Christine Bower
Lil MacPherson
Matt Gass

And that was before the vaccine mandate. Another restaurant owner sent me a copy of literature some anti-vaxxers dropped off at his business, which is full of bogus legal claims and cites laws that don’t exist (I checked), evidently compiled by people who got their law degrees from the University of Facebook. I’m told the same literature is being left at MLA constituency offices.

To be clear: the Public Health orders, including masking and now the proof of vaccination, are legally binding until either rescinded or a court rules otherwise (which is unlikely, at least over the short term that the mandates will be in place).

But even if they weren’t: don’t be an asshole. The person checking your paperwork doesn’t make the rules and doesn’t deserve your bullshit.

The rest of us should recognize that servers and the like are going to have a stressful week or so. Be kind, be patient, tip extra.

The Canadian proof of vaccination is now available to Nova Scotians.

Oh, you can download the proof of vaccine here; I got mine and put a shortcut to it on my phone so it pops right up when needed. If you don’t have a phone, you can print it, and that works as well.

I was running late on Friday so didn’t get around to publishing the weekly COVID recaps until Saturday morning. Of note, 75% of the entire population is now fully vaccinated, and another 5.8% have received their first dose. Given that about 15% of the population is 11 or under and so therefore can’t be vaccinated, this is extremely good takeup of the vaccine; Nova Scotia will likely soon reach a Portugal-like level of vaccination, among the highest in the world.

I also included this graph, which shows the weekly (Sat-Fri) new case count since the start of the pandemic:

My hope is to today build a corresponding graph showing hospitalizations, because I think that’s now (since vaccination is widespread) a better indicator of the severity of the virus.

As I see it, the biggest threat right now is to children who can’t be vaccinated, and then over the winter there will be a risk of more outbreaks as people move indoors. But while we should be cautious, we’re at a very good place. I’m mostly hopeful that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

2. Mass Casualty Commission’s recommendations will not be binding on government

The Portapique sign on Highway 2 was adorned with a NS tartan sash following the mass shooting that began there on April 18, 2020. Photo: Joan Baxter

“In the two months following the Nova Scotia mass murders of April 18/19, 2020, then Premier Stephen McNeil and Attorney General Mark Furey were under intense pressure to call an inquiry,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

After rejecting a previously announced federal-provincial “review” — a procedure that lacked power to compel witnesses to testify — families of victims and their many supporters fought tirelessly for a public inquiry. Sniffing the wind, the province chose not to use Nova Scotia’s Public Inquiries Act, insisting it needed Ottawa as a partner in a full inquiry. 

“We want a joint commitment from both levels of government. We need the national government there,” McNeil said on June 4, 2020. Continuing his response to a question from Global TV’s Elizabeth McSheffrey, he went on to say:

The process needs to be able to compel witnesses to come forward and it needs to have binding recommendations. For us, there needs to be a way for families’ voices to be heard, that families get the answers they are looking for… and it is imperative in our view that the national government be a joint participant. We need them at the table leading this. [emphasis added]

The massacre, which began on a quiet rural shore and continued through several communities, raised many serious questions. What did the RCMP know or not know about the killer’s previous violent behaviour? His illegally obtained guns? His obsession with collecting police cars? Why did the RCMP not contact other police forces in northern Nova Scotia during the 13-hour manhunt? Why weren’t citizens not properly alerted by either the RCMP or the provincial Emergency Measures Organization to lock their doors and stay inside?…

[But, on] July 28, 2020, Ottawa and Nova Scotia announced a joint public inquiry known as the Mass Casualty Commission. Recommendations will be made by the three commissioners in November of 2022. As noted above, former Premier McNeil stated the public inquiry would have the authority to make binding recommendations. 

But it turns out there will be nothing to bind governments to act on the inquiry’s recommendations regarding government agencies such as the RCMP, Canada Border Services, and the Canada Firearms Agency.

Click here to read “Mass Casualty Commission’s recommendations will not be binding on government.”

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3. Gabrielle Horne

Dr Gabrielle Horne. Photo: CBC

“Jean Laroche, the CBC’s veteran legislature reporter, emailed me recently with a ‘head’s-up’ that he would be posting his latest ‘Gabrielle Horne story’ the next day,” writes Stephen Kimber:

“It’s by no means the whole story,” he acknowledged, “but it does lift the veil on the [legal] costs a tiny bit more.”

It does. But it turns out the latest disclosure raises as many questions as it answers.

The email was a courtesy. I’ve been writing about the Horne case off and on since I wrote a first feature for The Coast in May 2006 entitled “The Trials of Dr. Horne.” Laroche, one of the province’s ablest reporters, has been at it almost as long.

The Cliff’s Notes version of the Horne case: It began in the early 2000s when several of Horne’s male colleagues at the then-Capital District Health Authority tried to bully her into including them as co-authors of her ground-breaking, grants-generating cardiac research.

She refused.

Instead of backing her, the health authority suspended her hospital privileges, essentially cutting her off from her ability to conduct her research and did it without even a hearing “in view of concern for patient safety.”

The concern was bogus.

Click here to read “Time for (real) full disclosure on how many public dollars we really paid private lawyers to defend healthcare bullies.”

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4. Modular housing

“The 73 units of modular housing announced for people living in parks this week will each have their own washroom and shower, but the timeline on their installation is still unclear,” reports Zane Woodford:

Mayor Mike Savage and Assistant Chief of Emergency Management Erica Fleck, who’s been assigned to lead HRM’s response to homelessness for three months, announced the stop-gap measure on Wednesday. The plan is to temporarily house 73 people in two sites, one on either side of the harbour, until more permanent housing is secured.

Fleck described the modular units as “trailer-like structures.”

Click here to read “Halifax releases more details on planned modular housing for people living in parks.”

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5. Yarmouth ferry to resume, maybe, if there’s “substantial upfront investment”

The Alakai, docked at Yarmouth in 2019. Photo: Suzanne Rent

“International high-speed ferry service between Bar Harbor, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, will resume in Spring 2022,” announces Bay Ferries on its website, but before you get too excited, the next couple of paragraphs spell out some caveats:

The 2021 operating season for the ferry service was suspended on February 1, 2021, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It remains unclear when the international border will be open for travel in both directions.

As with air service, restarting an international ferry route requires substantial upfront investment which is impossible to recover in a very short season. Commencing in Spring 2022, we will restore service between these incredible destinations.

“Substantial upfront investment,” eh? I wonder who’s going to pay for that.

The Alakai life ring. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The Alakai — the Hawaiian named boat registered in Norfolk, Virginia that is owned by the US Navy but is rebranded “The Cat” even though there’s nothing feline about it in order to supposedly catch mice in bring tourists to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia — continues to sit idle at a wharf in Charleston, South Carolina, where it’s been slowly rusting for the past two years.

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Government

City

Monday

North West Community Council (Monday, 6pm) — via YouTube

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am) — via YouTube, with live captioning on a text-only site

Province

No meetings this week


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

The Rule of Law in Pandemic Times (Monday, 4:30pm) — via Zoom, the inaugural Rule of Law lecture by A. Wayne Mackay, followed by a panel with Thomas Cromwell and Sherry Pictou

Tuesday

Presentations and algebraic colimits of enriched monads for a subcategory of arities (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building or online) — Jason Parker from Brandon University will talk.

We present a general framework for studying signatures, presentations, and algebraic colimits of enriched monads for a subcategory of arities, even in enriched categories that are not locally presentable. Given any small subcategory of arities j : J -> C in an enriched category C satisfying certain assumptions, we show the existence of free J-ary monads on J-ary endofunctors and the existence of small algebraic colimits of J-ary monads, where a monad or endofunctor is J-ary if it preserves left Kan extensions along j . We then deduce that every signature or presentation generates a J-ary monad, and that every J-ary monad has a presentation; moreover, we show that J-ary monads are monadic over signatures. Our results subsume earlier results of Kelly, Power, and Lack on finitary monads and finitary signatures when C is a locally finitely presentable V-category over a locally finitely presentable closed category V. We conclude by showing that our main results hold for any suitable subcategory of arities in any locally bounded enriched category.

Bring your own monads.

King’s

Tuesday

Facing Fear: Eva Holland in conversation with Harley Rustad (Tuesday, 8pm) — the author of Nerve: a Personal Journey Through the Science of Fear will talk via Zoom


In the harbour

Halifax
06:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Philipsburg Sint Maarten
15:00: Green K-Max 5, bulker, sails from Pier 27 for sea
17:00: One Houston, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
18:00: Vivienne Sheri D, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
22:00: Tropic Hope sails for Georgetown, Guyana
22:30: Vivienne Sheri D sails for Portland

Cape Breton
08:00: Irving Beaver, barge, with Atlantic Larch, tug arrive at Sydney from Saint John for passage through to Little Narrows
17:00: NS Laguna, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from New York
17:30: Affinity V, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea


Footnotes

Seriously, drop the server an extra 5 or whatever on top of whatever you usually tip. It makes a big difference.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Please note: The Canadian proof of vaccination with the QR code which you illustrate is NOT yet available to Nova Scotians.