1. Killer lakes
The first hot weekend of the season led to lots of people taking to area lakes. Sadly, three lives were lost. From police releases:
At approximately 11:55 a.m., patrol members of the Halifax Regional Police were notified by a member of the public that a person was struggling in the water near Birch Cove Beach in Dartmouth. Halifax Regional Police patrol members, as well as Lake Patrol, Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency, Emergency Health Services paramedics, area lifeguards and members of the public on privately owned boats immediately attended the area where the person was last seen, however the person could not be located. At this time the gender and age of the person is not known and the investigation is continuing. A dive team is on its way to the scene.
UPDATE: The 58-year-old male drowning victim was recovered from Lake Banook at approximately 5:15 p.m. this evening by the RCMP dive team. His identity will also not be released.
At approximately 3 p.m. on August 16, Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of an unresponsive man at Chocolate Lake Beach in Halifax. Upon police arrival, the man was out of the water and being attended to by beach lifeguards. Responding Emergency Health Services paramedics continued efforts before transporting the 42-year-old man to hospital. At the time of this report the condition of the man is unknown and the investigation is continuing.
UPDATE: The 42-year-old man who was found unresponsive at Chocolate Lake Beach earlier today has died as a result of drowning. His identity will not be released.
Colchester District RCMP is investigating the drowning of a 22-year-old man at Shortts Lake.
Shortly after 6 a.m. this morning, Colchester District RCMP responded to a 911 call from citizens at Shortts Lake after an adult male boater had been rescued from the water by an area resident. The boater told the rescuer that another adult male was with him, but that he had lost sight of him after both men went into the water.
Preliminary investigation revealed that two adult males, aged 22 and 23 years, went out onto Shortts Lake in a kayak at approximately 5:30 a.m. The boaters then became distressed, yelled for help, and began swimming toward the shore. An area resident was able to go out and rescue the 22-year-old man, but was unable to locate the 23-year-old man.
RCMP engaged a variety of agencies to assist with the search, including the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC), the Brookfield Fire Department, Ground Search and Rescue, Emergency Health Services, and the Colchester HAZMAT Unit. An RCMP helicopter was also called in to assist with the search.
Emergency personnel conducted an extensive search of Shortts Lake and the surrounding area for over four hours. At approximately 11:30 a.m., the operation switched from a rescue operation to a recovery operation. At approximately 1:15 p.m. members of the Colchester HAZMAT Unit and Brookfield Fire Department located the body of the missing missing 23-year-old man in the waters of Shortts Lake from the RCMP Helicopter.
The cause of death is currently under investigation, and the RCMP is not releasing the identity of the deceased 23-year-old at this time.
2. Examineradio, episode #23
This week, the candidate for the federal NDP in Kings-Hants was forced to resign after a Conservative-funded website publicized comments the candidate had made regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We spoke with the former candidate, Morgan Wheeldon, at length about his views, the decision the NDP made to remove him, and the slow but steady descent of Canadian political campaigning.
Also, a report submitted to City Council this week highlighted the qualifications of potential board members for the Halifax Convention Centre. For their work on the report, Tim Bousquet awards the authors his coveted “Bullshitters of The Day” award.
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3. Cab driver
Councillor Brad Johns is defending a decision by Halifax council’s Appeals Committee to allow a cab driver charged with sexually assaulting a passenger to continue to drive while his case is before the courts.
Late one Saturday night in May, a man hired a cab driver to cart him around town while, unbeknownst to the driver, the man held up several fast food places. While searching for that cab, police came upon a different cab driven by Bassam Aladin Al-Rawi, who had parked at Atlantic and Brussels Streets, a forlorn area behind the grain elevators. The Chronicle Herald reported afterwards:
According to the [search warrant application to search Al-Rawi’s car], Const. Monia Thibault observed what appeared to be an unconscious woman in the back seat who was naked from the waist down, her pink tank top pushed up and her personal items strewn about the vehicle.
“She also observed the male driver turned facing the back and appeared to be fumbling with something and then pulling material from his lap attempting to hide it between him and the centre console,” the warrant alleges.
“She realized the material was a pair of black pants, with bright blue panties, that were inside out.”
And when Al-Rawi exited the car, his pants were half way down his buttocks and his zipper was undone, police allege.
Al-Rawi was arrested for sexual assault and his vehicle was seized.
When Thibault woke woman, she “was confused and did not appear to know where she was,” the warrant said.
“I don’t remember anything,” the woman told CTV News:
That includes the alleged sexual assault, which police informed her of after she awoke in a Halifax hospital.
“I think I was just in shock, just shocked,” she said.
Al-Rawi was charged the next Monday. The accusations have not been proven in court, and a trial date has not been set.
Two other women have levied complaints against Al-Rawi, reported the Chronicle Herald. One said he did not stop at her house and kept driving her around, calling her “baby.” The second said she was sexually assaulted, but could not remember details of the assault. No charges were filed in either incident.
In May, Al-Rawi was released on condition that he not drive a cab at night. The city’s taxi commission, however, suspended Al-Rawi’s licence completely, until the court case is resolved. Al-Rawi hired lawyer Mike Taylor and appealed that suspension to the Appeals Committee.
City staff recommended that Al-Rawi’s appeal be rejected, reports Brett Bundale this morning. But the committee rejected that advice and ruled that Al-Rawi will continue to be able to drive with the same 6pm to 6am restriction the court had imposed. The committee also imposed an additional condition that a camera be installed in Al-Rawi’s cab, albeit, reports Bundale, neither the city nor the courts have the authority to view footage from the camera.
Johns defends the committee’s decision. “We aligned our ruling with the provincial court decision and added another condition,” he told Bundale:
“The committee made an informed decision,” he said. “Based on the evidence and information presented to us and the questions we asked…we feel the conditions are restrictive enough” to ensure public safety.
Johns reiterated comments made by Coun. Matt Whitman (Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets), chairman of the appeals committee, that the accused is innocent until proven guilty.
“I have a significant issue with people who aren’t present but yet will deliver justice and opinions on social media,” he said. “There is a reason why there is a court system.”
Johns, who has two daughters, said the question he’s seen on social media is whether committee members would let their children get into Al-Rawi’s taxi cab.
“My answer is yeah, with the conditions that are applied to it, probably,” he said. “Would I let my daughter hang out at 2 a.m. with this guy? Maybe not.”
There’s an ongoing and healthy debate on Twitter over the committee’s decision, which pits the presumption of innocence for the accused against the potential safety of the cab-using public before the courts find the defendant guilty or non-guilty.
But no matter how the case is ultimately resolved, a charge of sexual assault is very serious, and will be disruptive and life changing for everyone involved, not least of whom is the alleged victim.
In public service, people accused of sexual assault, such as Halifax police officer Chris Mosher, are suspended with pay until the courts rule (Mosher’s pay was revoked when he violated a release condition). A taxi driver doesn’t have the protections granted police officers facing charges, and must continue to support himself while the court process unfolds, but I don’t see why that work has to be driving a cab. There are lots of jobs Al-Rawi can take while fighting the charges against him that don’t involve carting women around town. Sure, those other jobs may not pay as well, and juggling the leasing of his vehicle and licence while undertaking a court battle will be a big hassle. But, like I said, a sexual assault charge will necessarily be disruptive. When major life disruptions occur, people have to cope as best they can; they take shitty survival jobs, they jump through bureaucratic hoops, they limp through the disruption and try to resolve it as best they can. That’s the case for people who get horrible medical diagnoses, people laid off suddenly from their jobs, people who are victims of sexual assault, people charged with sexual assault… Is it unfair? Maybe, maybe not, but that’s how life goes.
Moreover, I think the committee failed to consider the effects its decision will have on people’s transportation decisions. When drivers suspected of sexual assault are allowed to continue picking up passengers, people become reluctant to take a cab. Some of those people will decide to drive when they shouldn’t, endangering others. Some people might restrict their movements or become more dependant upon others for transportation, in effect becoming a sort of second class citizen.
Taxis are an important and necessary part of the transportation mix. To make it an optimal service, council must ensure that people have the highest confidence in it. In that regard, the Appeals Committee has failed. It just got a little harder to get around in Halifax.
1. New approach
Stephen Kimber puts Finance Minister Randy Delorey’s request for a “new approach” to collective bargaining in context:
Nova Scotia, [Delorey] says, faces a “stark” fiscal reality, which he blames on workers, whose salaries and benefits represent the “single largest expense the province and public-sector employers face.” His government’s goal is to “reform our finances in order to safeguard the services Nova Scotians rely upon.” But since “we have heard loud and clear from Nova Scotians that taxpayers are not interested in contributing any more,” the government’s unstated goal appears to be to gut its collective agreements with workers.
As Nova Scotia CUPE president Danny Cavanagh mused, workers may wonder why the government is exclusively targeting its employees when “university presidents are paid a full salary for sitting at home doing nothing” and the province is “handing the Royal Bank $22 million.”
2. Cranky letter of the day
We have been with the same telephone service provider since 1971. We have always had just basic service.
Last year, my husband got a used laptop computer and called the provider for a modem so he could access the Internet. The modem didn’t come when promised, so he cancelled it. However, it was already in the mail. When it arrived, he immediately returned it, in person, and unopened.
When the phone bill arrived, he wasn’t just charged for the modem — oh, no — he was charged for a “bundle.” To make a long story shorter, it took about five seconds for the “bundle” to be put on the phone bill and a mere three-and-a-half months and many calls to finally get it all removed. Apparently, English is not their strong point.
A few months ago, I went with this provider for long-distance calling. At the end of June, I pushed my luck and asked for call display. After a few days, I noticed we weren’t getting any messages — they were going to voicemail. Did I ask for this? No! I called and was told that in order to get my messages, I would have to pay another $10 a month. I cancelled call display. Then I checked the phone book and saw that call display and voicemail were two separate items. The next day, I called again and was told that I could get just call display. No explanation for trying to rip me off.
The phone bill arrived the other day. Surprise! Our basic home phone service charge went from $31.07 to $46.60 a month. Was I told this? Once again, no! Yet another call. Since I didn’t want a “bundle,” they nailed me. If you don’t take what they want to sell you, you pay for it anyway. Great way to treat a loyal customer. However, after talking to people who have a different provider, I realize they are all the same — just like our governments. They promise you great things until you sign on the dotted line, and then they screw you.
I am so sick and tired of the discrimination because some of us chose not to have, or can’t afford, all the electronic gadgets of the day. Are there no honest people who operate or own a business?
Susan D. Stevens, Chester Basin
No public meetings.
On this date in 1759, the Governor’s Council established the counties and county boundaries in Nova Scotia.
In the harbour
“The Queen Mary 2 has abandoned search efforts for a crewman who went overboard off the coast of Newfoundland,” reports the Chronicle Herald:
Search and rescue officials said Saturday that the crew member did not report for duty onboard the Queen Mary 2 early Saturday just after midnight.
They said a search was conducted onboard the ship and when the man wasn’t found, search and rescue officials were asked to look for the man, who it was concluded had gone overboard.
The Queen Mary 2 and the shipping container Milan Express conducted the search in an area roughly 750 kilometres east of St. John’s, N.L.
Search and rescue officials said because of foggy conditions, an aerial search was not possible.
Late Saturday search and rescue tweeted they reduced efforts to find the man, saying the decision was taken after careful consideration on based on the likely chance of survival.
The Chronicle Herald names the lost crew member as Favio Ordenes, a 26-year-old chef from Chile.
The Queen Mary 2 was en route to Halifax from Southampton, England. It appears to have made up for whatever time was lost searching for Ordenes, as the ship is arriving on schedule in port this morning.
Northern Delegation, container ship, arrived at Fairview Cove this morning from Liverpool, England
The newest ferry, the Craig Blake, arrived yesterday.
Moving slow this morning.