News

1. Liberal cowards, pt. 2

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Yesterday, I castigated as “craven fools” the five Liberals on the Public Accounts Committee — Gordon Wilson, Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, Ben Jessome, Brendan Maguire, and Hugh MacKay — for their spinelessness in limiting debate at the committee in order to (they think) gain a short-term PR advantage of controlling the public message.

What brought this up was the desire by opposition MLAs to discuss health-related items. “The PCs had wanted to discuss the ‘mental-health crisis in Cape Breton,’ while the NDP had sought to add ‘family doctor resourcing’ and ‘managing home-care support contracts’ to a future agenda,” reported Michael Gorman for the CBC.

As I noted, such discussion is entirely within the terms of reference for the Public Accounts Committee, but Liberal MLA Ben Jessome used the excuse that those health issues were to be taken up by the newly created Health Committee. “Having the Department of Health into this [Public Accounts] committee would be counter to the way that we’re looking to proceed with this committee,” Jessome said, reported Gorman. “The Department of Health should report to the standing committee on health.”

But let’s follow that logic, such as it is.

Jim Vibert comments for Saltwire on the Health Committee:

Stick a fork in it, folks. It’s done.

“It” is the Nova Scotia legislature’s health committee. It is a ruse, a ploy, a gimmick, a cruel hoax perpetrated on Nova Scotians by a Liberal government desperate to show concern for health care, but unwilling to permit a discouraging word on the subject.

The Liberals clearly recognize that they are politically vulnerable on health care. Their strategy to manage the liability is to stifle all discussion that might cast the government in an unfavourable light.

That’s getting dangerously close to stifling all debate save the utterly banal.

This week, the Liberal majority refused to allow doctors to come before the health committee to talk about physicians’ working conditions. In case it’s escaped your notice — as the government hopes it has — there are a bunch of unhappy docs out there.

So, excuse the repetition, but the Nova Scotia legislature has a standing committee on health that won’t hear what doctors have to say.

Nor will it hear from paramedics. Ambulances are in short supply because they’re lined up waiting to offload patients at overcrowded emergency rooms. But the Liberals defeated a motion to discuss emergency health services at the committee.

It is a safe bet that the real problems in health care and the topics the Liberals plan to block from committee consideration are the same list.

So health issues can’t be discussed by the Public Accounts Committee because they should be discussed by the Health Committee. But the Health Committee won’t discuss them either.

Cowards. The Liberals are cowards. The lot of them.

I wouldn’t care so much if it was just Brendan Maguire hiding behind his happily banal Facebook page to avoid talking about real issues, but these craven fools are undermining the very institutions of our democracy.

Have they no shame?

2. Highway death

An RCMP release:

Just before 7:00 p.m. [last night], 911 call received of a two vehicle collision on Highway 103 between Exits 12 and 13.

The release didn’t give any details, but a subsequent email had the subject line “2 Vehicle MVC with single fatality,” again with no details.

3. Pedestrian struck

A police release from yesterday:

Police have charged the driver in pedestrian/vehicle collision that occurred yesterday in Dartmouth.

At approximately 6 p.m. last [Wednesday] evening officers responded to a report of a pedestrian/vehicle collision that had occurred at the intersection of Thistle Street and Victoria Road in Dartmouth. A pickup truck that was in the northbound lanes of Victoria Road turned onto Thistle Street striking a 76-year-old woman who was attempting to cross Thistle Street in a marked crosswalk.

The pedestrian was taken to hospital by ambulance for non-life-threatening-injuries. The driver, a 29-year-old Dartmouth woman, was charged for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and failing to provide proof of valid insurance. The driver is scheduled to appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court at a later date to face the charges.

So a pedestrian did everything “right” — she presumably pressed the beg button (else she would’ve been charged), walked with the light in a marked crosswalk. And the driver failed to yield and couldn’t produce proof of insurance. Why then does the police release continue with safety advice aimed primarily at pedestrians?:

Police would like to remind pedestrians and motorists that we all have a role in keeping each other safe on our roads. Some helpful reminders for intersection safety are listed below:

  • If available push the button to use overhead flashing lights for extra visibility.
  • Look all ways before you cross the street. Just because you have a walk light doesn’t mean a vehicle can or will stop.
  • Pedestrians and drivers should make eye contact and watch out for each other.
  • Don’t start to cross when hand is flashing or the countdown timer has started, it’s against the law. But if you’ve already started to cross when the hand starts flashing or countdown timer begins, don’t worry, you can still finish your crossing.
  • Every intersection has a crosswalk. Some are marked, others aren’t.  Either way, drivers must stop for pedestrians waiting to cross or when they’re already in a crosswalk.
  • Whether driving or walking, pay attention to what you’re doing. It’s against the law to have a cell phone in hand while driving, unless you’re calling 9-1-1.
  • If you’re turning left or right on a green light, make sure no pedestrians are crossing before you proceed.

Can we think through this “eye contact” thing? What if there are no drivers with which to make eye contact? Am I supposed to wait on the corner for a car to approach so I can first make eye contact with the driver before I begin my crossing? Because an awful lot of these pedestrian incidents involve drivers turning left into pedestrians, which often means the pedestrian has already crossed half the street; how do you make eye contact with someone who comes up from behind you when you’re already halfway across the street?

And what if, as is typical, all drivers refuse to engage my searching eyes? Can I never cross the street? I don’t have Paul McLeod’s alluring marble eyes, but even with my dead orbs, I try not to be menacing; still, drivers appear more interested in eyeballing the next break in traffic than sparking a momentary tête-à-tête with the lowly pedestrian.

Judy MacIsaac-Davis’ motorized scooter, after she was struck by a pickup truck. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Judy MacIsaac-Davis’ motorized scooter, after she was struck by a pickup truck. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The intersection of Victoria Road and Thistle Street is deadly. This is probably the busiest pedestrian intersection in Dartmouth, with hundreds of students at two schools on either corner, and thousands more pedestrians walking to and from the Bridge Terminal each day.

I walk through the intersection probably a dozen times a week, and each time I think about Judy MacIsaac-Davis, the woman who was killed while crossing the intersection in her motorized scooter. Other pedestrians are struck with such alarming regularity that neighbours have blankets at the ready to comfort people lying in the roadway while awaiting the paramedics. I myself have had too many close calls to count.

Major changes need to be made to the intersection.

I would start by eliminating right turns on red for the entire day; there are just too many pedestrians present to risk the increased danger from giving momentary time savings to drivers. And given the number of pedestrians, this is an ideal intersection for Leading Pedestrian Intervals — walk lights that give the pedestrian a head start to cross before drivers can move.

There are also visual impediments at the intersection: drivers travelling west on Thistle Street and blindly whipping around the corner to go north on Victoria Road are a particular hazard, because there’s a light pole right there that blocks drivers’ views.

However, most of the pedestrians who are struck are hit by drivers turning left — either southbound-Victoria drivers turning eastbound onto Thistle, or northbound drivers turning westbound onto Thistle. The drivers are so focused on finding a break in the oncoming traffic and quickly zooming through that they simply aren’t looking for pedestrians. There should be proper left turn signals.

Honestly, if we took property from the schools, there’s enough room at the intersection to build a roundabout, but maybe that’s too complex and too controversial.

4. Yet more road mayhem

“RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dal Hutchinson said that just before 5 p.m. Thursday, they received multiple 911 calls about a truck driving the wrong way down Highway 101 in Lower Sackville,” reports Philip Croucher for StarMetro Halifax:

Hutchinson said several vehicles “were put off or on the side of the road.”

Eventually, police say, the truck took an exit off the highway and onto the Beaver Bank Connector. It then travelled through the intersection that connects to Sackville Dr. and “drove directly into the parking lot and into the Irving Mainway,” according to Hutchinson.

“We are very fortunate with this one,” Hutchinson said, explaining how the situation ended. “(It) drove directly (past) the gas pumps and into the business.”

Two people were injured, including the driver of the truck. Hutchinson said the injuries weren’t life-threatening. He didn’t know if the second person hurt was an employee or a customer.

Amanda Debison and Ryan Van Horne have more for CTV:

It was a culmination of an incident that began earlier near Windsor when black Jaguar was reported driving on the wrong side of Highway 101.

Jason McLellan of Bramber, Hants Co., was heading home after work when he came upon the aftermath of a multi-vehicle accident.

He said he slowed down to proceed through scene and notice there were no emergency vehicles there yet, and the black Jaguar was in the media [sic] and severely damaged.

“At the same time a guy ran from beside the car and ran toward my lane,” McLellan said. … “I saw that he was holding a machete and he walked toward two trucks parked on the side of the road.”

McLellan said the machete-wielding man approached one truck and he swiped at it as it drove off. A man in the second truck then opened his door and was approached by the machete-wielding man.

“The guy ordered him out of the truck, jumped into it, spun a doughnut, then sped off against the traffic,” McLellan said. “He just missed the back of my truck. I was kind of dumbfounded. I thought: ‘What the hell is going on here?’”

This has @sack_vegas written all over it.

5. Financial doubts in Peter Kelly’s Charlottetown

Peter Kelly. Photo: Tim Bousquet

“The City of Charlottetown’s CAO is responding to an audit that shows the city’s finances are not black and white,” reports Dave Stewart for the Charlottetown Guardian:

Peter Kelly, the city’s chief administrative officer, said while preparing the most recent financial statements, the city’s finance staff identified a number of accounting items that needed to be addressed.

“The city worked with its finance, audit and tendering committee, staff and auditors to adjust the financial statements to further comply with accounting standards for the public sector, as required by the Municipal Government Act,’’ Kelly said Wednesday. “The city will continue its efforts to further its level of compliance with current accounting standards for the public sector.’’

Accountants from MRSB have cast doubt on the City of Charlottetown’s statement that it showed an $11.2 million surplus in its consolidated financial statements for 2017.

I tol… never mind.


Government

City

Budget Committee (Friday, 11am, City Hall) — the capital budget will be debated.

Province

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Friday

SURGE VR/AR Deep Dive 2019 (Friday, 12:30pm, Room 2660, Life Sciences Centre) — Register here.

Saturday

Martha Paynter

Maternal Health Outcomes of Incarcerated Women (Saturday, 9am, Cineplex-OE Smith Theatre, IWK Health Centre) — Martha Paynter will speak.

Saint Mary’s

Futebol in Brazil and the Impact of Pseudoscientific Racism (Friday, 12pm, McNally North 219) — Rosana Barbosa will speak.

Mount Saint Vincent

Communication Studies Winter Research Panel (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 302, McCain Centre) — Tess Laidlaw will talk about “The Persuasion of Expectant Mothers: How Prenatal Education Creates a Rhetoric of Guilt”; Anthony Yue will talk about “Regrets, I’ve Had a Few: Dwelling on Wabi Sabi, Iki and Regret.” Online stream here.

The changing role of women in Chinese society (Friday, 2pm, Keshen Goodman Library) — Gabrielle Durepos will speak.


In the harbour

02:00: Elka Hercules, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
04:30: CMA CGM Elbe, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
06:00: ZIM Shekou, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
08:30: Unistar, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 9 from Belledune, New Brunswick
12:00: Bandura, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
16:00: Bandura sails for sea
16:30: ZIM Shekou sails for New York
18:00: Lomur, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland


Footnotes

TFW you spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours working on a story, only to have another media outlet publish part of the story first. More soon.


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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. Everyone should check out Ellen Page on Colbert last night. Did Nova Scotia proud. I’ve never cried watching a late night talk show before. Environmental racism, calling out bigots and homophobes in the White House. She was amazing!

  2. I’m struck by the language of police reports of drivers hitting pedestrians because they so often only refer to the vehicle as an object (a pickup truck) while explicitly identifying the pedestrian (a 76 year old woman).

    It’s not quite passive voice, but it has the same strange effect of minimizing the driver’s involvement. It wasn’t an inattentive driver who ran their vehicle into the pedestrian, just a truck that ‘struck’ a 76 year old woman.

    I see the same framing in victim-blaming comments that implore pedestrians to pay more attention. They never consider that maybe drivers, the one piloting tonnes of moving metal, should pay more attention instead. It’s presented as if vehicles are just forces of nature, floating around on the roads, a hazard to be warily dodged by constantly vigilant pedestrians. If a pedestrian gets hit, then they should have known better than to face off against the fearsome and unpredictable wild vehicles of Canada.

    1. Well said. Advertising has done a massively effective job of making humanity feel that their cars are extension of themselves. Time to push back.

    2. Very true: Such incidents should be reported as ” the 23-year old male driver of a full-sized pickup truck drove into a marked crosswalk while making a left turn from Victoria Road onto Thistle Street and struck a 57-year old woman who was walking across Thistle Street in a marked and signal-controlled crosswalk”. I’d add “The driver and truck weighed about 3,000 kg and was going an estimated 20 km/hr at the collision. The woman weighed less than 70 kg. and was injured. The driver was not injured.”

  3. “Can we think through this ‘eye contact’ thing? What if there are no drivers with which to make eye contact?”

    Duh. If no vehicle is present, obviously the eye contact advice does not apply. I’m sure you realize this. When a car *is* present, making eye contact is a sensible measure to reduce risk—whether or not you have the right of way.

    “He had the right of way” would make a fine epitaph.

    Pedestrians should ignore the howls of outrage that greet any safety advice directed their way. The RCMP suggestions in this case are balanced and reasonable. If followed, they are likely to reduce injuries in situations that give rise to too many collisions.

    For their part, drivers should be fucking careful when approaching crosswalks, and especially when turning at an intersection.

    Giving safety advice to pedestrians does not in any way lessen the obligation on drivers to exercise care, nor vice versa.

    Those who rail against any suggestion pedestrians should take precautions at crosswalks and intersections seem more concerned about venting their hatred of cars and drivers than at enhancing pedestrian safety.

    When an accidents occur repeatedly at the same intersection, it should serve as a red flag that design changes are needed. I agree with your suggestions that a Leading Pedestrian Interval or even a roundabout would make sense at this location. (Too bad pedestrians and cyclists so often rise up to oppose roundabouts, with their proven track record of reducing accidents and greenhouse gas emissions.)

  4. Make eye contact with each other? Windshields are designed for visibility for the driver looking out, not for the pedestrian looking in. I do like to make eye contact with the driver to make sure they acknowledge me crossing, but half the time there’s a glare or some inconvenient smudge on the windshield and I’m totally guessing.

    That said, I see the theoretical reason for it from the pedestrian’s perspective–I can see that the driver is aware of me and feel more confident in crossing. It’s not actually making it more safe for me to cross, it’s just helping me avoid situations where the driver is already potentially being negligent. Worst case scenario for the conscientious driver, I’m unable to see their intention to stop in their face, and I wait until I actually see the car slowing to a stop. Which is what I should be doing anyway, even though it slows the crossing by a few seconds.

    What’s the benefit to asking the driver to make eye contact with me, though? Shouldn’t the instructions to drivers be to just be aware of the presence of a pedestrian? Best case scenario for the driver, we make eye contact and I start crossing two seconds earlier than I would have, making it a bit more convenient for us both. What is the driver supposed to do in the situation where she sees me but isn’t able to make eye contact?

    In short, I don’t see how this is a safety tip.

    1. I had a near miss last night and it was my fault but I’m not sure I could have easily avoided it. It was dark and I was on peperell crossing Oxford facing the synagogue. There was a car facing me and Oxford was empty. I darted across but a pedestrian had started crossing peperrel I’m front of the opposite stopped car. They were between its headlights and halfway across the crosswalk and I was nearly across Oxford and headed onto pepperell when I noticed them. The dark, combined with the need to quickly cross Oxford, combined with the pedestrian being obscured by the opposing car’s headlights made the situation unsafe.

  5. I have seen aspiring Bob Woodward/Carl Bernstein reporters get called on the carpet (at best) after getting scooped by a competing media outlet. The long walk of shame to the glass-walled office of the Managing Editor. The bowed heads and slumped shoulders that everyone else in the newsroom could see as the perceived golden boys (always THEM) got their golden asses handed to them. We “lowly, only hired because we were women or minorities” staffers would watch and hum, “Say, Oops Upside Your Head. … Say Oops Upside Your Head.”

    Then, feeling the pressure, the Managing Editors tried to lure some of us “lowly” AFFIRMATIVE ACTION HIRES into their rarified world of VIP sky boxes, press plane junkets, open bar DRINKATHONS with the perceived masters of the universe. And oh how the Managing Editors just LOVED to introduce a Black reporter at say, a SUPER BOWL PARTY, or a NBA championship game, or say that time when PRINCE came to town and they’d bought up a bunch of CORPORATE TICKETS and threw together a little sum thin’ sum thin’ before his PURPLENESS hit the stage.

    Some of us, hip to the game, told them to kiss our black asses. Kudos to the Halifax Examiner for marching to a different beat.

  6. The Thistle Victoria intersection has been deadly for pedestrians for decades.
    The City needs to fix this NOW. To not take action is criminally negligent.
    As for HRP, they should issue an apology for that incredibly insensitive and condescending victim-blaming statement they issued. The driver was 100% at fault. Period. Any warnings of caution should be first and foremost aimed at DRIVERS not demonstrable innocent pedestrians. They might as well have said that “elderly people should take steps to crossing roads as they are too old to get out of the way of negligent drivers”. I hope she sues the wheels out from under that driver.