News

1.  Halifax police, RCMP, and Crown misconduct

Glen Assoun. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Tim dives into the court documents released Friday regarding the Glen Assoun wrongful conviction and finds two sets of police misconduct.

The first set of misconduct was when Halifax police working on the investigation into the Way murder improperly threatened and cajoled witnesses to provide false testimony against Assoun and turned a blind eye to continued criminality from the witnesses. Testimony from those witnesses led to Assoun’s conviction for second degree murder in 1999.

The second set of police misconduct came from RCMP officers who destroyed information that would have established serial killer Michael McGray or two other suspects as the probable murderer of Brenda Way, and withheld knowledge of that information from Assoun during his 2005 appeal of his 1999 conviction. As a result, the Court of Appeal rejected Assoun’s application in January 2006, and he spent nearly another nine years in prison.

Along the way, the police misconduct was abetted by prosecutors who knew that crown witnesses were lying on the stand.

You can read the full story here, The Assoun wrongful conviction: How Halifax police, RCMP, and prosecutorial misconduct sent an innocent man to prison and kept him there for nearly 17 years (Part 1) and (Part 2).

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2.  Somebody’s fibbing about the Yarmouth ferry

A cloud of diesel exhaust follows the Alakai, the result of burning so much money. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Stephen Kimber dives into recent remarks by deputy minister of transportation Paul LaFleche, and finds a disconnect in the various versions of events surrounding the continued subsidized grounding of the Yarmouth ferry.

Click here to read “Who’s not telling the truth? Bay Ferries? The Nova Scotia government? US Border Services? All of the above?”

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3. Racial discrimination at CFB Halifax

Another Halifax workplace is being called out for racial discrimination against an employee.

Supervisors at CFB Halifax used the “n” word and pressured other workers to criticize the work of a Black apprentice mechanic, who was then fired after more than five years on the job, reports Sherri Borden Colley for the CBC. A federal panel awarded Christian Reeves $25,000 in damages after finding “pure and simple racial prejudice” was at work in his dismissal.

Reeves worked at CFB Shearwater before he was transferred to CFB Halifax in 2011. In 2014, about nine months before he was fired, Reeves had filed a letter of complaint about his training at CFB Halifax which was never investigated by the Department of National Defence, reports Borden Colley.

4. North American Indigenous Games kicks off one-year countdown

This time next year, Halifax and Millbrook First Nation will be hosting about 5,000 participants in 17 different sporting events for the 30th North American Indigenous Games, reports Lee Wilson for APTN News.

Athletes from all over Mi’kma’ki came out to an event on Saturday kicking off the one year countdown to the games. Wilson reports that next year will be the “first time the games will be hosted in Mi’kma’ki territory,” and that it will be the  “largest sporting event Atlantic Canada has seen.”

5. Over 2,000 guns seized over two years in Nova Scotia

Handgun collection, Joshuashearn [CC BY-SA 3.0]

David Burke of CBC News reports on the prevalence of guns on the streets of Halifax and Nova Scotia, and the efforts to remove them.

In 2017 and 2018 police across the province seized 2,116 guns, according to data provided by the RCMP. Some were turned into police, but many were also seized from suspects arrested for crimes ranging from to robbery to weapons offences.

The most frequent types were rifles (1,136), shotguns (720) and handguns (251). The information from RCMP does not include brand names.

One machine gun was also seized, along with two submachine guns, according to data from Halifax Regional Police. The weapons are particularly dangerous because of their high rate of fire.

Burke interviewed retired officer Jim Hoskins for the piece, who told him it’s the handguns that worry him.

“Handguns are built for one reason and that’s to kill people,” said Hoskins. “The basic reason for building a handgun is so it can kill somebody, whether it’s sold to you to protect yourself or whatever.

“The less handguns we have on the street the less killing there will be in Halifax.”

Halifax Regional Police seized 340 guns in 2017 and 2018. But that’s just a small portion of the illegal weapons that are actually out there, according to Hoskins.

“I know myself from my past experience that if someone wants to get a handgun here they can get one fairly quickly.”

6. Anglican bishops out of touch with the rest of their church on same sex marriage

Halifax Anglicans are not so proud of the small number of bishops blocking acceptance of same sex marriage in their church.  Photo: Halifax Pride Facebook

The Anglican church was just one bishop’s vote away from making same sex couples eligible for marriage ceremonies at their annual meeting on Friday, and Nova Scotian church goers are dismayed at the results, reports Shaina Luck for the CBC:

“The mood after the vote was very sombre, it was a lament,” said Kyle Wagner, the rector of Christ Church in Dartmouth and a delegate to the Anglican Church of Canada’s general synod.

“Immediately we heard cries, really wailing. People were so hurt.”

Luck goes on to explain how the vote broke down, and to illustrate the significant differences between opinions of Anglican church members versus the church establishment.

According to the church’s customs, three groups of delegates at the general synod had to vote more than two-thirds, or 66 per cent, in favour of the motion for it to pass. The groups were the laity or regular church members, the clergy and the bishops.

The laity voted 81 per cent in favour of the motion, and clergy voted 75 per cent in favour.

However, only 63 per cent of the bishops voted in favour of the motion, which sent it to a narrow defeat.

Twenty-three bishops voted in favour and 14 against, which meant that the motion hung on the vote of a single bishop.

7.  Halifax is cataloguing its trees

Point Pleasant Park pre- and post-Hurricane Juan, from Halifax’s Urban Forest Master Plan, 2013.
Point Pleasant Park pre- and post-Hurricane Juan, from Halifax’s Urban Forest Master Plan, 2013.

The city has issued a tender looking for someone to catalogue the 30,000-odd trees on municipal property on the peninsula, reports Francis Campbell for the CBC:

The data will be used to improve budget planning for pruning, removal and replanting, as well as to help monitor and prevent the spread of invasive pests such as the emerald ash borer.

The municipality already has an inventory of the trees that have been planted since 2014, which has helped planners figure out which species are successful and which ones aren’t.


Views

1. Okay, which one of you gave Gail Lethbridge the stink-eye?

In a Chronicle Herald column, Gail Lethbridge addresses the relatively common act of “letting someone in” in traffic, apparently sparked by some tweets by Summerside, PEI police warning people that doing so can actually be dangerous and cause collisions. Writes Lethbridge,

The trouble is that motorists coming in the other direction are not necessarily anticipating these cars and collisions are occurring.

Drivers, it seems, are so nice, they’re dangerous.

Lethbridge then goes on to talk about her related pet peeve, drivers stopping and waving pedestrians to cross traffic, without taking into account other traffic lanes or oncoming traffic. As pet peeves go, I can relate. Stopping mid-block on multi-lane roads often just causes more delay for everyone, and puts people waiting to cross in a very awkward, and possibly dangerous position.

That said, the way Lethbridge talks about pedestrians in this piece (comparing them to wild animals, calling them brazen, and generally implying that they are idiots compared to their big city counterparts) made me cringe:

This niceness has created a culture of brazen pedestrians in this part of the world. If a driver slows down, makes eye contact and waves them on, more often than not, that pedestrian will go.

Pedestrians in big cities like Montreal or Toronto wouldn’t do this. If they did, they’d get knocked down.

It’s a bit like feeding wild animals. You draw them out and nurture bad habits with the reward of food. And they keep coming back for more. But that food is not necessarily good for the animals. It creates dependency, which doesn’t work in nature.

Ditto on the roads. Pedestrians get used to this so-called kindness and they start to expect it.

I’ve even noticed pedestrians on the side of the road waiting for cars to stop, and when they don’t, giving the stink-eye because motorists aren’t letting them jaywalk.

I don’t know how you tell people to be less nice. It goes against our nature.

But when it comes to moving vehicles and people on the roads, I guess you just have to be cruel to be kind.

The logic and tone is enough to make you wonder if Lethbridge is one of the 57% of HRM drivers surveyed back in 2014 who thinks that pedestrians do not have the right of way at unmarked crosswalks. Cause I’m pretty sure those folks get a lot of stink-eye.

A screen cap from a 2014 pre-Heads Up Halifax campaign online survey of 402 Halifax residents, 63% of whom said they drive daily.

2. de Adder worries for the future of political cartooning

Btw: This was published in @chronicleherald in the middle of the storm and I never thanked them properly. Other Saltwire papers also published it. pic.twitter.com/6OcqwOq8fK

— Michael de Adder (@deAdder) July 12, 2019

NBC News has published an op-ed by cartoonist Michael de Adder, recapping the story of his dismissal from Irving-owned Brunswick News Inc. and expressing concerns over the trend that is seeing newspapers cherry-pick syndicated cartoons that don’t “rattle the cages” of their readers, and sometimes doing away with cartoons altogether. This is not good for journalism and for democracy, writes de Adder:

In my opinion, and given past experiences, I think it’s likely I wasn’t let go for one Trump cartoon. It’s more likely I was let go for all my Trump cartoons. But does this matter? Editorial cartoonists are losing jobs for a host of excuses these days, Donald Trump is just one of these excuses.

I’d argue it does matter. Editorial cartoons have never been more important, and with social media, they have an increasingly broad reach. In a sense, they are a more powerful tool than they have ever been. Newspapers are cutting one of their best assets when they are at their most vulnerable. And in turn, democracy is losing one of its most treasured safeguards.

H/t to reddit.com/r/halifax


Government

City

Monday

Accessibility Advisory Committee (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — not much on the agenda.

Special City Council (Monday, 6pm, City Hall) — public hearings for the two megadevelopments for the block bounded by Spring Garden Road, Robie Street, College Street, and Carlton Street.

Tuesday

North West Community Council – Special Meeting (Tuesday, 9am, City Hall) — something something in Bedford.

City Council (Tuesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — regional council agenda , budget committee agenda

Province

No public meetings all week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

July 16th panel on the valueadded food sector with Canadian Senators (Tuesday, 1:30pm, Room 141, Hicks Building) — Senators Diane F. Griffin, Colin Deacon, and Stan Kutcher discuss the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry’s study on “how the value-added sector can be more competitive in global markets.” RSVP here.


In the harbour

05:00: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:00: Pictor J, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Portland
06:00: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from San Juan, Puerto Rico
08:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
10:30: Pictor J, container ship, sails for Argentia, Newfoundland
11:00: JPO Aries, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
15:30: YM Evolution sails for Rotterdam
15:30: Bomar Rebecca sails for sea
18:00: Nordic Wolverine, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Becancour, Quebec
20:00: Atlantic Huron, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Charlottetown


Footnotes

My grandmother was a lifelong Anglican. I remember being surprised in my younger years that she actually supported accepting all marriages in the Anglican church. (When you are young, you think everyone who isn’t can’t possibly embrace change, as if they haven’t experienced a tonne of it already.) This had been a long time coming for many Anglicans, and I can just imagine how disappointed they are.


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  1. I had a jogger run in front of me, in a marked crosswalk, without so much as looking. I chased him down, and his answer was ‘Dude, it’s a crosswalk’. My answer was, ‘Dude, you could have been killed.’.

    Pedestrians have the right of way, but stepping out in front of a car that barely has time to stop is a very good way to get killed. I get fined as the driver. You get dead……I’ll take the fine, and the comfort that I didn’t have time to stop.

    Driving is a privilege, not a right. Same goes for running across the street.,

    1. I have had this happen too, not so much with joggers, but with sidewalk cyclists. When you go through an intersection you’re looking for people in the intersection and within a meter or two of the ends. A cyclist can pop into an intersection much faster than someone on foot even if they are running.

  2. Ms. Lethbridge compares pedestrians to wild animals and I suppose she is right in that like wild animals, pedestrians are an endangered species cause by the overconsumption of fossil fuels. Too many cars, some driving too fast and those drivers that refuse to stop in unmarked crosswalks are doing a darned good job of thinning the number of pedestrians on HRM streets. She also seems to show an appalling lack of common courtesy in her interest to get somewhere in her car fast. Even in New York City, where folks are generally in a rush, the consensus is alternate feed when car lanes merge and sharing the road ( by being polite) gets everyone to their destinations safely and faster than tolerating boorish behavior by drivers thinking that they always have the right of way. I hope that Ms. Lethbridge’s column is ignored by drivers in HRM and that people continue to be polite and nice as we all share the road.

  3. Many drivers seem to forget that the car in front of you can stop at any time, for any number of reasons – debris on road, accident, construction, congestion, breakdown, animal on road – and hence a large number of collisions. Perhaps instead of discouraging random stopping for pedestrians, we should encourage it? If it were more frequent, it might help keep drivers more alert and attentive to road hazards, thus reducing collisions? That might be hard on drivers, but trying to make traffic flow as smoothly as possible is creating dependency, which doesn’t work in nature. Drivers get used to smooth flowing traffic, and they start to expect it.