News

1. $5 million more for Yarmouth Ferry

Economic and Rural Development Minister Michel Samson announced yesterday that this past season’s sailing of the Nova Star will be subsidized at an additional $5 million, over and beyond the $21 million already spent to initiate the service, and that the ferry service will require further ongoing subsidies.

I’ve been hesitant to pan the ferry subsidy thus far—transportation infrastructure never directly pays for itself, and $21 million is peanuts compared to the money hole we’re filling over on Argyle Street—but everything has a breaking point. Maybe with proper management and lessons learned, the annual subsidy will diminish and this won’t be much of an issue moving into the future, but if $5 million becomes the annual outlay for the service, we’ll need a major re-think.

Were the financial news not bad enough, yesterday, on the last cruise of the season, a Nova Star crew member died suddenly.

2. Police respond to Tyson and Cirbie Bishop story

Monday night, the CBC related the Bishops’ story about being attacked in their home by a Halifax police officer. Yesterday, police chief Jean-Michel Blais released the following statement in response to the story:

Many people are commenting in relation to the CBC article about the actions of two of our officers on October 31, 2008 and asking for a police response. I feel compelled to let our citizens know that there is a formal and robust police complaints process in place in Nova Scotia and that we and the two officers involved have respected and upheld this process. In fact, this matter was ruled upon by an outside independent body more than 2 ½ years ago.

I want to speak to the specifics of this file as much as I can given that this is now a civil matter before the courts.

Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais.
  • Halifax Regional Police (HRP) received a public complaint in relation to this matter on November 12, 2008. An HRP Staff Sergeant investigated the file which was then ruled on by the Disciplinary Authority, who in this case was an officer at the Superintendent rank. This analysis found no disciplinary default for either officer in this file.
  • The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) investigates complaints by citizens alleging misconduct by municipal police officers. The Office provides support to the Police Review Board which is empowered to hear and rule on public complainant appeals. In this case, the complainants appealed the decision of HRP to the OPCC which determined the complaint had merit and referred it to the Police Review Board for a hearing.
  • While information contained in the decision is not all-encompassing of the evidence presented, the results of the October 4, 2011 decision are public. In total, four appeals were submitted in relation to the actions of two of our officers. As part of Police Review Board’s decision, one appeal was upheld against one officer while the other three were dismissed, thereby finding no disciplinary default with one of the officers involved.
  • A subsequent hearing was held for one officer to determine sanction, with all parties playing an active role through their legal counsel in this process and being given an opportunity to voice their opinion on the penalty. A decision was rendered on March 23, 2012 which included a combination of penalties: suspension without pay for two weeks, an order for a one-year period of close supervision and an order to be assessed for anger management and coping skills and that, if needed, counselling and/or training be provided at HRP’s expense. As the employer, it is our duty to ensure the conditions of the penalty are served, which we have done. In this case, it is also our responsibility to ensure we support the officer in obtaining the skill set necessary to effectively manage his role as a police officer, which we have also done. Similarly, our officer met all conditions of the penalty.

There are numerous measures in place in Nova Scotia to ensure police accountability to our citizens, including public complaints, internal investigations, civilian oversight and independent investigations and adjudications. We respect the OPCC and the Police Review Board and support them in doing their job, as they have done in this case.

I take very seriously the importance of police professionalism in all that we do. Policing is an inherently risky profession that relies on the trust of the public we serve. We’re committed to transparency and openness which is why I felt it necessary to explain this process.

Chief Jean-Michel (JM) Blais

Halifax Regional Police

There should be a word for this kind of rhetorical style. Weirdly, it brings to mind former Clayton Park councillor Mary Wile, who when confronted with a politically uncomfortable situation would simply iterate the facts that everyone already knew rather than actually say anything meaningful about those facts.

Mayor Mike Savage separately told the CBC that he supports the cops:

“I don’t think there’s a pattern here. Every city of any size has some circumstances, but I think most people know that the Halifax police, the people who enforce laws in Halifax, deal with our kids, are real community mentors. I think they do a very good job.”

Well of course the chief of police and the mayor support the cops. That’s what chiefs of police and mayors do. Still, there is tremendous distrust for the Halifax police in the community. Social media is full of people claiming they have been victimized by police in situations similar to the Bishops. Did these other incidents actually happen? Who knows. But despite what Blais says, it is damn near impossible for the average citizen to challenge the police department, and yet the Bishops have a received a ruling from the Police Review Board acknowledging they were wronged. This should not be simply brushed off and ignored.

3. Glen Assoun

I spent all day yesterday in a courtroom watching the hearing on a publication ban related to the Glen Assoun murder conviction review. I’m glad I went. I learned all sorts of things, and will sit down and write about that, once Morning File is published. Check the home page later today.

4. Black Loyalist Heritage Society repeatedly vandalized

The Black Loyalist museum in Birchtown was destroyed by arson in 2006, with attackers never identified. Now, as a new museum is being built, the construction site has twice been vandalized, causing $20,000 in damages.

5. We’re all going to die!*

Anjuli Patil, white courtesy phone please….

*chance of death is inversely proportional to the number of CBC weather reports over the weekend.

6. Peter Kelly

Who would’ve guessed that a disgraced politician with no administrative experience hired as an administrator would have screwed up the administratingism within the first month of administratization? Halifax’s former mayor’s adventures out west continue, the Westlock News reports:

Peter Kelly. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Westlock County’s unionized employees have voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of filing a formal complaint in the wake CAO Peter Kelly’s severance offer.

Lou Arab, a communications representative with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said on Oct. 9, employees met and opted to have the union file a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (LRB).

“Our members met last night and they did vote overwhelmingly to ask us to file the legal complaint with the LRB,” he said Friday morning. “That is happening, absolutely.”

And on the editorial pages:

It’s true that you can’t blame county council for everything that has gone wrong. A council must rely on advice from their CAO when making big decisions, and there have been three different CAOs at the county in the past year.

The most recent hire has extensive municipal governance experience having served as an elected official for more than two decades, but next to no experience in municipal administration. That alone makes council’s choice to hire him fairly perplexing, even putting aside Kelly’s involvement in past financial indiscretion that council seemed to have been unaware of when they hired him.

The fact his actions have now put him at odds with the employees’ union within his first month on the job is unfortunate, and perhaps speaks to his qualifications for the position.

The whole fiasco raises questions about the future of Kelly and council as a whole. 

Kelly’s Executive MBA from Saint Mary’s is really paying off, eh?

Incidentally, the CUPE representative, Lou Arab, is, like Kelly, a Haligonian gone west. Maybe I should apply for that reporting job at the Westlock News…


Views

1. Elementary school is named for slave-owner

Ben Sichel recounts taking a group of elementary school students to the Black Heritage Museum, where the following newspaper ad was on display:

“A student,” writes Sichel, “pointed to the name on the bottom of the ad and asked “is that the same Michael Wallace who my elementary school was named after?”

Long story short, yes, the Michael Wallace Elementary School in Dartmouth is named for the 18th century businessman and slave owner Michael Wallace.

Sichel has a good post exploring issues of rewriting history and renaming things named for problematic historic figures. I would only point out this: Michael Wallace Elementary School was founded in 1960. It’s unlikely the power elite who named the school in the day knew of Wallace’s slave-owning past, which is the point. It underscores the importance of the civil rights movement then unfolding.

2. Windsor, Birthplace of PhotoShopping

Dufferin Place, Windsor. Photo: David Jones.

Dartmouth historian David Jones notices that the mural in Windsor, “the birthplace of hockey,” has an uncanny resemblance to, well, something else.

3. Nova Scotia sucks

Sean Gillis provides another example in the “I’m really smart for recognizing that this place sucks, you’re too stupid to figure out what to do about it, and I won’t tell you my ideas because it’s better if I just criticize you for being stupid” genre.

Sigh. Like every other place on the planet, Nova Scotia has its charms and challenges. We are not unique in that regard. True, being stuck out in the middle of the ocean on on a mostly barren piece of rock is a geographic disadvantage, but only in the context of the neoliberal geopolitical economic order. This is not a moral failing of the populace, except so far as they think the solution is to double down on the very neoliberalism that created the problems we face in the first place—and doubling down on neoliberalism is pretty much what all the “now or never”ism and Ivany reports and anti-naysayer finger-waving is all about. If we want to improve our collective lot in life, we’ll have to first, wrap our heads around the ideological framework that got us here in the first place and, second, start challenging some of the fundamental economic assumptions unthinkingly embraced by the people running the show.

Nova Scotia will never be a rich place. But through mutual support harkening back to the Antigonish movement, shared sacrifice, increased taxation on the wealthiest, a commitment to debt-free higher education, smart husbanding of natural resources, and a rejection of the politics of division, this can be a decent place.


Government

City

Audit & Finance Committee (10am, City Hall)—Auditor General Larry Munroe will release his report, “A Performance Review of Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency—Non–Emergency Fleet Vehicle Allocation Process.” Which is all fine and good, but while we all like shiny red fire engines, what we’re really waiting for is Munroe’s report on the Washmill Underpass. We were promised the Washmill report back in April, and with each passing month it gets that much closer to delivery, but like Achilles chasing the tortoise, we never quite get there. I’m told the Washmill report is being bogged down by the city’s legal department, suggesting that Munroe has uncovered something explosive. I fear, however, that the lawyers are trying to make it go away.

Province

Legislature sits (2–6pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Today

MacKay Lecture series (7pm, Room 127, Goldberg Computer Science Building)—Philip Auslander, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, will talk on “Barbie in a Meat Dress: Performance and Mediatization in the 21st Century.” The paper’s abstract:

Although mediatization is a permanent condition of modern societies the particular forms it takes on are historically contingent. The processes of mediatization derive from the workings of the culturally dominant media forms of a particular time. Today, the televisual has clearly yielded sway to the digital in all its forms. In seeking to understand the implications of this transition for performers navigating this new cultural terrain I focus on two currently successful pop music artists, Nikki Minaj and Lady Gaga, who both create multiple personae that morph with astounding velocity. Gaga, in particular, takes this strategy so far that she seems to have no stable performance persona or brand image at all. Her constantly changing appearance and image suggests instead the urgency and frequency with which we must adjust our self-presentations to the multiple platforms on which we continuously perform them.

Thursday

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (Thursday, 4pm, Theatre D, CRC Building)—Craig McCormick from the Department of Microbiology & Immunology will talk on “Viral Management of Cellular Stress Responses.”

Centuries of Dialogue: Asia and the West (Thursday, 7p, KTS Lecture Hall, NAB, King’s College)—an unnamed lecturer will talk on “Yingyang, the way of ways.”


Noticed

Gamergate is a thing.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 5:45am Wednesday. Map:marinetraffic.com.

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)

Arrivals

Zim Piraeus, container ship, New York to Pier 41
Zim Monaco, container ship, Valencia, Spain to Pier 42
Celebrity Summit, cruise ship, Saguenay to Pier 22
Regatta, cruise ship, Saint John to Pier 20
NYK Nebula, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove

Departures

CSL Metis to sea
Zim Monaco to New York
Grand Vega to sea
Regatta to Sydney
Celebrity Summit to Portland
Zim Piraeus to Kingston


Footnotes

Last week, a 73-year-old driver was charged with minor traffic offences after striking and killing a 81-year-old pedestrian. The driver blew above a .05 blood alcohol content and had an opened bottle beside him. Two different posters on a Reddit thread about the incident claimed that the driver was a retired Halifax police officer. But I’ve identified the driver. He is John David Corning, of Halifax, and I can find no evidence that he was ever a Halifax cop. Besides my own research into the matter, I asked HRP directly if Corning is a retired cop, and they said he is not. I messaged each of the posters to ask for some documentation of their claim, and have gotten no response. Yea, Reddit.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. The Nova Star has been a huge boost to tourism in south west Nova. The recent tourist figures have shown that American visitors are up in our area. Everyone you speak to from B & B operators to shop owners have witnessed this season the increase in sales. . I have tried to speak to as many people as possible who have businesses to get a feeling of this year compared to last year in terms of sales and everyone with almost no exception has said business is up. .. No government in their right mind would stop subsidies to this ferry. The negative comments come from those in Halifax who live in their Halifax bubble. . Believe it or not there is a whole lot of Province out there beyond Halifax.

    Graham Wright
    Victoria Beach , NS

    1. 21 million dollars was budgeted for this ferry, over seven years. They burned through that in two months. We, the taxpayers of NS, had to front another 5 million – which funny enough, is about the amount they used to receive as an annual subsidy.

      When the Governor of Maine (who doesn’t need to get votes from the South Shore) saw the numbers he didn’t even want to extend a Line of Credit anymore. Forget giving them money – he didn’t even want to loan them money!

      Why are we pouring so much money into the tourism industry anyway? Is this how we plan to stop the mass exodus of young people? With minimum wage, seasonal jobs?

  2. I don’t get the panic over the ferry. Transportation infrastructure is expensive. Let’s publish the amount we subsidize air and rail travel. Roads cost a fortune. If the NDP had transitioned the ferry service instead of cutting it we wouldn’t have to rebuild ridership. Breath easy folks this isn’t a big deal.

    1. While $27mil, $5mil are big numbers, they are just numbers. Incomprehensible out of context, and perhaps incomprehensible at all to mere citizens like me.

      We are beyond arguing that we should spend money on economic development, on infrastructure. Both are, as you say, things we spend money on. I’ll even go as far as stipulating for now that not just a ferry, but a subsidized cruise ship, is a good idea.

      Somewhere a team of people with a solid foundation in finance, tourism, economic development, tax theory banged their heads together and came up with “$27 mil over 7 years will have positive return for Nova Scotia”. Lets assume that their effort was professional and honest.

      $27 million for 7 years. Which they pissed away $32 mill in a single season.The bureaucrats aren’t off budget by a couple of fancy lunches, they are now, by my calculations, over 700% wrong.

      We are not at “government spends money, get over it”, we are at “government is either lying to us, or 700% incompetent”. That is the problem, today.

      1. Now that I can agree with. I don’t have a problem with the spend at this point. However not being able to budget and plan is poor stewardship of our resources. Publishing estimates then not coming close to them is an afront to democracy. We need more accountability from the civil service.

        1. I fully agree. What the civil service/servants needs to remember is that they are all citizens first and foremost and that the better the corporation works for all of us, the better our economy, our communities and our well being are able to be.

          How do we make them accountable? Engage with your MLA, they are your direct conduit to the government process and that is their only raison d’etre; the power thing just distracts them 😉

  3. Police commented on the *Constable Jordan Gilbert / Constable Matthew Poole* story. Gilbert specifically was called out for assault by the Police Review Board.

    I’ve said it elsewhere, even if we give the police themselves a slide, lets assume that we are living in some bizarro world where they don’t have the power to immediately terminate employees who assault who is both their clients and bosses, where was the Public Prosecution Service in *not* filing charges?

    1. This action showed a criminal lack of judgment. Where was the threat to public safety? There was no justification for this action and keeping these thugs an the job tarnishes all of the officers who are there to serve and protect.

  4. “If we want to improve our collective lot in life, we’ll have to first, wrap our heads around the ideological framework that got us here in the first place and, second, start challenging some of the fundamental economic assumptions unthinkingly embraced by the people running the show.”

    Well said. May be applied to everything.