November marks the Halifax Examiner’s annual subscription drive — the time of year when we give you a behind-the-scenes look at the Examiner, point out some of the great things about this publication (sometimes people call it a newspaper, which I kind of like), and urge you to please subscribe so we can keep doing this.

At the Examiner, we are primarily known for our news and commentary. But another important aspect of our work is publishing first-person stories that directly bring you the voices of people who get written about, but not often heard.

One of the most moving pieces I’ve read on this site (I will admit to tearing up) is by Demario Chambers, the Black 15-year-old who was violently arrested in Bedford after he complied with a security guard’s order to leave the Sunnyside Mall.

As with much coverage of police mistreatment, some commentators focused on the victim’s behaviour: Why did the kid pull out his phone and start recording the cops? Why did he question them when they tried to arrest him?

Never mind that in a society that sees itself in any way as free there is nothing wrong with these behaviours.

The story is called “My name is Demario Chambers. I’m the 15-year-old who was beat up by the cops at the mall in Bedford. This is my story.” Chambers describes the racism he has faced growing up, and the events of the evening that led to his arrest. Then, he writes:

When I was little, I always wanted to be a cop. I thought they were super heroes. They always seemed so cool to me. When I was younger I always watched cop shows and my mom had bought me a cop outfit. It had a cop hat and badge and of course – handcuffs. Obviously as I got older I wanted to be other things, but being a cop was still always in the back of my mind.

But as I got even older, I saw what the cops were doing to people who look like me and it wasn’t right. And even still I wanted to be one due to the fact that I wanted to make a change in the world. But that night and what those cops who are supposed to serve and protect did to me ruined any hope I ever had of being a cop….

So let me tell you who I really am. My favourite subject is math. I write my very own music. I’ve found that helps me a lot. I get all my inspiration from what I’ve been through in my life, and just day to day living and growth. A lot of people judged me from that day saying that I was just a disrespectful child who was talking back to the police to get a reaction, but that’s so far from the truth. My parents raised me to have manners and respect and to be proud of who I am.

The Examiner has several different subscription options. Check them out here, and please subscribe.


News

1. Turn Bloomfield into affordable housing

Jen Powley. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Jen Powley argues the city should take the $8.7 million it is getting from the federal government and put it towards turning the currently empty Bloomfield Centre into affordable housing. Powley, who ran for council in District 7 in this year’s municipal election, used to work in the centre, and calls its loss “devastating” for the community groups that used it.

Powley writes:

Bloomfield is the one piece of municipal property left on the peninsula that could be used for affordable non-market housing. The municipality should develop it using the money the federal government has given. The municipality doesn’t need to buy or pay for the property, it already owns the property. It could use the federal money to pay for the renovation of the old buildings and possibly to construct a new building, or additional floors to the old building and a new elevator if the existing building is found to be structurally sound, whichever is the logical place to start.

Regional council has not signed off on the sale of Bloomfield so there is still time for the municipality to decide not to sell…

If the province wants to remain in charge of housing and doesn’t want to give the power for affordable housing to the municipality, why doesn’t HRM sell the property to a non-profit like Imagine Bloomfield or a similar organization for a nominal amount?

Read the full story here.

When I was on Gottingen Street yesterday, I saw several posters urging action to convince District 8 councillor Lindell Smith to vote against the sale of the property for development.

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2. P3s: All the facts… after the fact

The site of the Community Outpatient Centre. Photo: Halifax Bloggers

Jennifer Henderson reports on the business case behind the province’s decision to use a P3 (public-private partnership) model to build the new Bayers Lake community outpatient centre.

The business case report had been kept secret, but is being released now that EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare has been awarded the contract to build the facility.

Henderson writes:

“The final Value For Money analysis is based on the final project structure and actual contracted costs with EllisDon,” states the report. “The results confirm that the Province should expect overall lifetime risk adjusted costs of Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre to be $35.4 million (14.7%) less through the Design-Build-Finance-maintain arrangement reflected in the Project Agreement than if Bayers Lake was built, financed and operated using the traditional model (the Public Sector Comparator (“PSC”), Construction Management as Agent).”

In making the comparison, Deloitte collected historical data on infrastructure projects led by the province over the last 20 years. From a total of 80 identified construction projects, data was collected for 32 projects. (It’s unclear if the data included the Colchester Hospital, which was built the traditional way and ended up significantly over budget). The combined construction value (in 2018 dollars) for the 32 projects was similar to the total estimated construction value for the Bayers Lake Centre and the Halifax Infirmary Expansion megaproject.

Then comes my favourite part of the story:

Meanwhile, the business case or value for money analysis Deloitte carried out for the Infirmary portion of the QE2 Redevelopment remains top secret.

“We do believe in transparency,” said Paul LaFleche, the deputy minister for the Department of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Renewal in response to a request for that information from MLA Susan Leblanc.

I visited the URL printed on the sign above, and it no longer works. The current site is https://healthredevelopment.novascotia.ca/

Henderson’s story is for subscribers only. Please subscribe.

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3. Police review board adjourns longer to allow Jeannette Rogers time to find a lawyer

Zane Woodford has the latest on the police review board hearing into the punishment handed out to the officers who arrested Corey Rogers and put him in a spit hood. Rogers later died in custody. The three officers were suspended — punishment Rogers’ mother, Jeannette, feels is inappropriate. Rogers is appealing the suspensions to the board.

Jeannette Rogers speaks to reporters. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Rogers had originally intended to represent herself at the hearing, and was granted a one-day adjournment to seek the advice of a lawyer. It was then that she realized some lawyers take on pro bono work. The longer adjournment — til Monday — is designed to give her time to see if she can find someone to represent her on that basis.

As I wrote in the Morning File on Tuesday, there is a fundamental imbalance in our legal systems when it comes to representation. In his story, Woodford quotes El Jones on this:

El Jones, an advocate with the East Coast Prison Justice Society and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia who was at the hearing on Wednesday to support Rogers, said there should be funding available.

“It’s not just that the police have lawyers, it’s that we actually pay for those lawyers, including her, where she’s offered no representation at all,” Jones told reporters. “At the very least, there should be an equal amount of money granted to people going through these complaints processes to try and redress that.”

Jones said the process at the review board is emblematic of the justice system as a whole.

“I think what we’re asking of people in these situations is quite inhumane,” Jones said.

“I think in any kind of just society we would not be seeing a mother being asked now to question the people responsible for her son’s death, about that death. I think all of us can see that’s wrong.”

Read Woodford’s full story here.

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4. The Tideline #4: Dakshana Bascaramurty

Dakshana Bascaramurty

This item is written by Tim Bousquet.

Episode 4 of The Tideline, with Tara Thorne, is out.

Globe and Mail reporter Dakshana Bascaramurty is Tara’s guest this week, discussing how she came to document a Halifax man’s cancer diagnosis, treatment, and need to create a legacy for his young son in This Is Not the End of Me. Bascaramurty’s first book describes, in intimate detail, Layton Reid’s diagnosis, treatment, and the steps he and his family took to extend his life. Plus: It’s holiday market time already.

The Tideline is advertising-free and subscriber-supported. It’s also a very good deal at just $5 a month. Click here to support The Tideline.

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5. Invest in Killam to offset your rent increase

Killam property. Photo: Suzanne Rent

In an unbylined story, SaltWire reports on the Killam Apartment REIT (Real Estate Income Trust) third-quarter and year-to-date results.

Guess what? The company is not suffering.

I always find it fascinating to see the way the same stories — or aspects of the same stories — are covered in the same publications. In Halifax, people are losing their apartments because of rent increases and renovictions. But a crisis for most is an investment opportunity for some. From the story:

The REIT’s plan to upgrade many of its apartments in a “suite repositioning program” continues with upgrade 426 suites year-to-date.

The average return on investment on the so-called “unit repositionings” completed during the quarter was 12 per cent, based on an average renovation cost of $25,500 per unit. The REIT indicated that repositioned units that were completed year-to-date are expected to generate about $1.3 million in additional NOI on an annualized basis and about $26.4 million in net asset value growth.

“Unit repositioning” is so much more genteel than “renoviction,” don’t you think?

Do we have an affordability crisis? Or just strong performance?

Edmonton, Halifax and New Brunswick had the strongest apartment performance, achieving quarter-over-quarter same property apartment revenue increases of 5.8 per cent, 2.7 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively, said Killam management.

Killam is one of the largest landlords in the country.

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6. More diesel buses on the way

Halifax Transit’s Route 330 bus. Photo: Flickr/Finn MacDonald
Halifax Transit’s Route 330 bus. Photo: Flickr/Finn MacDonald

At CBC, Paul Palmeter reports on reaction to the news that Halifax is set to buy 150 new diesel buses. The Ecology Action Centre is disappointed with the move.

He writes:

This spring, Halifax regional council unanimously endorsed two rapid transit projects, which included electric buses.

Part of the eight-year plan, estimated to cost $786 million, was to make half of the Halifax Transit fleet electric. The municipality’s share would be $210 million.

At the time, it was stated the electric buses would be on the road in two to three years. But the $19.5-million deal with Montreal-based Nova Bus is to buy diesel buses only.

Nova Bus said the deal has options for two additional years that could boost the number of 12-metre diesel buses up to 190.

No one from Halifax Transit was available for comment.

Meanwhile, Palmeter notes, many school buses are being converted to propane.

This nine-minute podcast on the invention of the diesel engine, from the BBC’s excellent “50 Things That Made the Modern Economy” series is excellent.

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Views

1. Black men who joined the military to escape the racism of their towns

Photo: Royal Canadian Legion

Jim Vibert’s latest column for SaltWire is about three Black men of three generations who joined the Canadian military to get away from the racism they faced in New Glasgow, Truro, and Halifax.

Vibert was spurred to write the column by Remembrance Day, of course, and by the town of Truro hanging banners to honour the contributions of Black Nova Scotians with connections to the town.

He writes:

Three Black Nova Scotian men from three generations — Charlie’s now a remarkably young 91, Sonny is 73, and Glenn is 57 — left behind caustic, menacing racism and went to places where they put their lives on the line in service to their nation and to make the world just a little less brutal…

But the systemic racism they endured in the Canadian military was easier to take than the brand they suffered back home….

Glenn Willis bears physical wounds and mental scars from the battles of his military career. Sonny Parker struggles with what he calls the “demons” that haunt him still from his time in Cyprus. The army was Charlie Borden’s ticket out of New Glasgow and he didn’t go back. The three men say, given the choice and the same circumstances, they’d follow the same path into the Forces all over again.

I like this piece a lot. We can honour people who served in the military without celebrating militarism.

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Noticed

Photo: @bronwyn

There is nothing in the US constitution about the president being chosen by voting, I learned last week.

Sure, I knew about the Electoral College, and that it is the votes of electors and not of individuals that decide who will be president. But I assumed the electors’ votes were based on individual votes because of the constitution, not custom.

Wrong.

I’ve noticed more than a few Canadians wondering about the ins and outs of US elections — there were some great calls on the Maritime Noon phone-in yesterday, and I’ve seen all kinds of question on Twitter. For anyone who still wants an explanation of what the Electoral College is, how it came to be, and why it is so hard to reform, the best source I have found is this episode of the New York Times Daily podcast, called “A Peculiar Way to Pick a President.” (If you don’t want to or can’t listen, the transcript is here.)

Reporter Jesse Wegman says:

In 1787, the framers who come to Philadelphia to design our new Constitution had no idea how to pick the leader of a self-governing republic. No one had done it before, certainly not on this scale. And they argued about it almost from the first day to the last day of the constitutional convention, four months over the summer of 1787. Their concern was that most people wouldn’t know national political candidates. They knew the people in their local communities because that’s where they lived, that’s where they spent all their time. They didn’t travel. They didn’t have national media. So they wouldn’t know political candidates on the national level. So that leads to this intermediary body of what they called electors…

The idea that the framers had was that they would be this body of elite well-educated men, people who had been mayors or judges or war generals. And that they would come together, and they would deliberate and decide for themselves who was the fittest person to be the president of the United States.

Wegman says the Electoral College is a great way to erase nearly half the votes in a state, because in most states, all the electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote:

People like to imagine that the system that we used today was handed down to us from the framers. And in fact, the framers didn’t talk at all about the winner-take-all rule. It didn’t come up at the convention. And when they saw it start to be adopted in the states in the early 1800s, they were horrified. James Madison, the man we think of as the father of the Constitution, tried to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of winner-take-all rule because he saw how corrosive it was to erase up to half of voters in the state…

You have a Civil War to end slavery and to make citizens and voters of Black Americans. You have the women’s suffrage movement, which results in giving the vote to half of the adult population who didn’t have it before. All of these things are making American democracy a truer and fuller expression of the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. And meanwhile, in the background, you have this Electoral College system with the winner-take-all rule that is consistently eliminating millions of Americans votes.

The whole thing is really worth your time. Wegman believes the system won’t change until both major parties are hurt badly by it within a relatively short time.

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Government

City

Thursday

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm) — virtual meeting; agenda here.

Province

No meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Reclaiming Power and Place Virtual Read (Thursday, 10:30am) — a group reading of Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019). More info here.

(geo)Politics (Thursday, 12pm) — a transdisciplinary lecture on climate, welfare and political economy, with Roberto Buizza from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy, and Ana Maria Duran, Estudio AO, Ecuador. More info and link here.

Music for everyone, everywhere: Inviting chaos, heresy and chance into classical performance practice (Thursday, 12pm) — online presentation with Holly Mathieson, Music Director, Symphony NS, and Co-Artistic Director of Nevis Ensemble. More info and link here.

Global Health Post-2020 (Thursday, 6:30pm) — virtual panel discussion with Renzo Guinto, Harvard; Lisa Forman, University of Toronto; Yipeng Ge, University of Ottawa; Yap Boum, University of Yaoundé. More info and registration here.

Friday

The Impact of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities (Friday, 12:10pm) — Zoom webinar with Michael Ashley Stein from the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, and the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. ASL interpretation available. More info and link here.

Radical Connection and the Dissecting of Disconnection: a Case for Theatre With Alan Dilworth (Friday, 1:05pm) — the Artistic Director of Necessary Angel Theatre Company in Toronto will talk. More info and link here.

Tara F Kahan. Photo: Stephen Sartori

Environmental Chemistry on Ice: Reaction Kinetics and Spectromicroscopic Characterization of Ice Surfaces (Friday, 1:30pm) — Tara F. Kahan from the University of Saskatchewan will talk. Info and link here.

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

Take on Tech (Thursday, 12pm) — a one-hour virtual networkshop. More info here.

Friday

Sustainable Retailing (Friday, 9:30am) — keynote address by Shamini Dhana – Dhana Inc; panel discussion with Rick Helfenbein – American Apparel & Footwear, Melissa Mirowski – IKEA Group, Ken Power – Telus, and Vittoria Varalli – Sobeys Inc. Info and registration here.


In the harbour

05:30: Swift Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
10:30: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
11:30: Swift Ace sails for sea
15:30: One Marvel, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
20:00: Front Cosmos, oil tanker, arrives at Bedford Basin Anchorage from Saint John
22:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41


Footnotes

I see stories about Americans in Canada stressed over the election. No kidding. Us non-American Canadians are stressed too.

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Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. “We can honour people who served in the military without celebrating militarism.” Thank you. If only more people knew the difference.

  2. Enough with the Americans already

    I’ll bet more Canadians now know more about the ins and outs of American-style democracy than about our own political system and institutions. This can’t be good.

    For example, we do not have a constitution. We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We have four Fundamental Freedoms. How many of us can name them, or one?

    How many of us know we have 21 rights set out in the Charter: democratic rights, mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights, official language rights,and minority language educational rights. How many of us can name more than two or three?

    Studying up on the benighted American electoral college won’t help us be better at democracy. Studying up on our Charter of Rights and Freedoms just might.

      1. Well someone needs to update that page as it is wrong about how the UK works. Scotland and Northern Ireland have long had some powers – increased as a result of devolution which has also given Wales powers.

  3. 1 Oak Street,Dartmouth is a Killam property.The building is very popular because of its location and the view. In 2016 it was assessed at $11,996,900 In 2017 it was assessed at $14,542,600. In 2020 it was assessed at $15,807,100. HRM loves the extra taxes paid by Killam through the many properties it owns in HRM. Killam is a reputable landlord. The evictions in HRM are not caused by a REIT. If a writer wants to produce an article concerning evictions and lousy landlords she/he needs to look beyond a REIT.

    1. Everybody who lives in HRM pays property tax, either directly or through their rent. A large residential landlord pays a lot of property tax simply because they have a lot of tenants, and does not need any special consideration for that. However, it might be useful to have a conversation about how the city’s tax treatment of rental properties contributes to rent increases. It’s much easier to hide tax increases and rates when people are not paying directly.

      1. We live in a society of greed. People rich enough to have investments in Killiam do so to make money. I would guess that a good portion of those investors have no idea that renovictions occur (hence the disingenuos business euphemisms). Present day capitalism preys on the misfortune of others. No more so than these appalling renovictions.

        Guess what, we live in a world where not everyone can get a return on their investment portfolio but do need a place to live. If there is a better solution than rent control I’d like to see it. “The market” seems incapable.

        1. Your pension plan may be one of the many plans invested in a REIT, just like CPP. You won’t find any renovictions at Killam. Renovictions are taking place in properties bought by local people.