News

1. No charges in case of woman who died of horrific bed sore

The Parkstone Enhanced Care home. Photo: Google Street View.

Chrissy Dunnington died from complications of a pressure sore (often called a bed sore) in March 2018. She was 40 years old.

Dunnington had been living at the Parkstone Enhanced Care home, owned by Shannex, in Clayton Park for 18 months. Last week, police said they would not be laying any charges in the case, and today Elizabeth McMillan has a story at CBC on Dunnington’s family, and their disappointment that nobody will apparently be held responsible for her death.

[Dorothy Dunnington, Chrissy’s sister,] said she and her siblings weren’t alerted to the extent of it until a staff member phoned to tell them that Chrissy’s health was failing.

Within days, they found her in bed struggling to breath. It was only at the hospital did Chrissy’s siblings see what was under the bandages on her backside — an oozing five-centimetre-wide gaping wound that exposed her tailbone.

“The condition that she showed up in the hospital that day, had we not got her there that day, we were told by the emergency room doctor she would have died in her bed,” said Dorothy Dunnington.

“She was not cared for properly. She was not fed properly. She was not cleaned properly. They did not seek out appropriate care for a very large pressure wound. There are things that could have been done before it got too big.”

Now that the police investigation is over, a previously suspended health department investigation triggered by a complaint the family filed with the department over Chrissy’s care will go ahead.

2. Hyper-local state of emergency

The collapsed construction crane on South Park Street. Photo: Tim Bousquet

The province stepped in yesterday afternoon and announced a state of emergency in the area around the collapsed crane downtown. The crane crumpled during Hurricane Dorian, leading to the evacuation of residences and businesses in the building.

A state of emergency may sound dramatic, but in this case it is a way to speed up removal of the crane without furthering bickering over insurance and liability.

Labi Kousoulis is both minister of Labour and Advanced Education (who issued a stop-work order on the site the day after the hurricane) and the local MP.

Writing for The Chronicle Herald, Bill Spurr quotes Kousoulis from yesterday’s press conference:

“What it does is indemnify the parties that are coming in and moves the liability onto the province,” said Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis. “Essentially we’re the insurance company for those two organizations.

Spurr also quotes Mark Reynolds, from one of the companies working to remove the crane. It’s complicated work:

“We’re not able to analyze it, like we would a regular engineering project,” Reynolds said. “We have to make engineering judgment calls and we have to be very careful because the structure right now is what we call in a state of equilibrium. … We’re going to be cutting something apart that is pretty much mangled in places, so we can’t be sure that maybe a piece won’t fall off when we cut it. It’ll be quite challenging…”

3. I’ll see your gold and raise you uranium

Uranium in Nova Scotia.

Provincial Conservative energy and mining critic Allan MacMaster wants to talk about uranium mining at next week’s Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development.

In 2009, the then nearly 30-year-old uranium moratorium was enshrined in law as a ban.

MacMaster seems to be suggesting that we should start mining uranium again in order to increase nuclear power-generation as a way to fight climate change.

In The Chronicle Herald, Stuart Peddle writes:

Allan MacMaster, the Tories’ energy and mines critic, recognizes that people have a lot of concern about nuclear power.

“It’s not something we see in this province and, at the same time, there are a lot of people who are concerned about the environment who would look at nuclear as what I’ve read to be a ‘regret’ solution,” MacMaster said. “What I mean by saying that is that people feel that while it has the potential to avoid significant emissions, concerns remain. And I don’t think we see any problem with asking questions about that.

“I know some of the response from the other political parties has been to attack us, and what I would say to that is that the environment is too important of a subject to be subject to partisan debate.”

Uh, OK.

“It’s OK to ask questions and, at the end of the day, I don’t think any people should be afraid of that,” the MLA for Inverness said. “I think the environment is something that belongs to everybody and it’s something we should all care about.”

He said it is not in the party’s collective mind to want to see uranium being mined at this time.

I am in no position to discuss the merits of nuclear power as a way to fight our current climate emergency. But I do know that new plants take a huge amount of time to get approved and built, and that they use an enormous amount of concrete — concrete whose production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

I notice there is a short video on YouTube called “What Happens if you Eat Uranium?”. Spoiler: It starts by warning you that you won’t get super-powers, like in the movies.

4. Bad week for Halifax police

Photo: Halifax Examiner

On September 14, a Halifax Regional Police officer was arrested for allegedly stealing from a local business.

Last night, the police issued a terse release saying that “An off-duty officer with the Halifax Regional Police (HRP) was arrested today in relation to an incident, which occurred at a residence in Tantallon just before 2 pm today.”

I would link to the release, but it’s not online yet, and really, it doesn’t contain much more information than that.

The officer has been suspended with pay. He will appear in court this morning, and the province’s Serious Incident Response Team will investigate.

5. Let me waste your time

Yesterday, Tim wrote that the long-awaited Centre Plan is “a colossal waste of time, money, public attention, newsprint, and reporter energy.”

If you hold this view, forgive me if I waste a bit more of your time.

Council approved the first of two parts of the Centre Plan yesterday — the portion known as “Package A.”

In The Star Halifax, Zane Woodford explains:

For the most part, the plan allows for more density and more height in the Package A areas, which include many of the streets and districts expected to see the largest development, such as Robie St., Quinpool Rd. and downtown Dartmouth. Package B is expected this time next year and will include downtown Halifax and residential areas on both sides of the harbour.

Both Woodford and Pam Berman at CBC have stories on the plan, and both focus largely on the question of affordable housing and density bonusing. Short version: instead of having to build affordable units, developers get to build larger buildings as long as they pay into a fund, part of which will go to affordable housing.

Woodford again:

The Centre Plan aims to simplify the current patchwork of development rules in the urban areas of the municipality, peninsular Halifax and Dartmouth within the Circumferential Highway in order to clarify what’s allowed to be built in all areas…

Any development larger than 2,000 square metres will be subject to a density-bonusing charge based on floor space and location.

Public benefits can include affordable housing, improvements to municipal parks, heritage conservation, public art, affordable community space and more. But in the Centre Plan, 60 per cent of the value of the benefit has to go toward affordable housing and has to be paid, cash-in-lieu, into a new municipal affordable-housing reserve.

On CBC Radio this morning, Mayor Mike Savage says, “What I see in the Centre Plan is the ability to grow.” Councillors call this is a big step forward in terms of clarifying what is and is not going to be allowed when it comes to development.

We’ll see how it all works out. At least we won’t be hearing, “Wait ’til the Centre Plan” anymore.


Views

1. Those darn politicians

These letters are not pointless. Photo: Stephen Arcibald

There is a very entertaining Twitter account from the UK called Pointless Letters: “Ever read a letter in a paper and immediately thought Eh? afterwards? Yeah, that. All contributions welcome,” reads the anonymous account’s bio. Regular topics include Brexit (of course), kids these days, if we lived through the war you can handle this you snowflakes, and, of course, political correctness run amok.

I’ve often thought we could use a Canadian version of this. Under the headline “Centre Plan’s been hijacked by politicians,” writer Tim Leary complains in today’s Chronicle Herald:

It appears that the process has been hijacked by politicians who seem to attend poorly to the concerns of citizens, and too well to those of developers… Council members have more power today than they did at the start of the regional planning process, which, frankly, makes them more dangerous as they shed accountability.

It’s not like the Centre Plan was some grassroots movement. Planning inevitably involves councillors. I mean, it’s one of the main things they talk about. No matter how much public input you have, at the end of the day, the elected councillors have to make decisions.

2. Lower speed limits

From page 5 of Speed Management, A Road Safety Manual, published by the World Health Organization in 2008. Their source: OECD/ECMT Transport Research Centre: Speed Management report, Paris 2006.

Local man-about-town John Wesley Chisholm is recently back from Toronto and a convert to the cause of lower urban speed limits. In a Facebook post, he writes:

This summer Toronto lowered the limits on almost all the roads you would think of other than provincial highways by 10km an hour as part of a plan to reach ZERO traffic fatalities. And my initial impression is… it’s probably going to work.

What difference did it make in my travels around the city? Driving, walking, and biking, it just gave me, as a visitor, just a little more time to think, a little less pressure, a little less aggression, it just made the whole thing feel noticeably more human, friendly, and nice…

What difference did it make in my travel time? None. Absolutely no difference.

Wesley Chisholm rhapsodizes a bit about how world-class Toronto is, and about the “thousands of happy helmetless cyclists.” Given the number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities and injuries in Toronto in the last few years, there is clearly a long way to go. And lower speed limits alone don’t necessarily help without design changes and enforcement. But they are a good start, and it would be great if the province would allow Halifax to lower speed limits as the municipality sees fit on residential roads.


Noticed

Against (some forms of) Universal Basic Income

Earlier this week, the Green Party introduced its platform, which includes a universal basic income. They call it a Guaranteed Livable Income.

UBI (or GLI, if you will) is one of those ideas that gets support both from people on what we broadly call the left and right. I suppose in that sense, it fits in well with the Greens’ slogan: “Not left. Not right. Forward together.”

There are a lot of great arguments in favour of a basic income guarantee. Suzanne Rent gets into them in the March 12, 2019 Morning File, and Jennifer Henderson wrote about them a few years back in her piece “A basic income guarantee can end poverty in Canada.”

But in addition to the progressive approach to UBI, there are also those of a more libertarian bent who favour it as a way to end what they see as the tyranny of the welfare state. One of these people is Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve. The Southern Poverty Law Center devotes a page on its site to Murray and his thought.

Evoking racist Reagan-era attacks on welfare recipients, Murray and Herrnstein contended that government assistance contributes to dysgenic pressures because “for women near the poverty line in most countries in the contemporary West, a baby is either free or even profitable, depending on the specific terms of the welfare system in her country.” According to Murray, the incentives for poor women to game the welfare system by having babies is particularly strong because, thanks to their low IQs, “a ‘career’ is not usually seen as a realistic option.” Welfare in Murray and Herrnstein’s view only exacerbates the intellectual inferiority, and thus the social stratification, it is meant to remedy, and should be abolished.

Murray is not alone. Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang favours a UBI. So does German billionaire pharmacy chain magnate Götz Werner. Richard Nixon nearly brought in a form of basic income.

These are not progressive voices.

What does all this have to do with the Greens? After their platform was released, Halifax-based writer Mary-Dan Johnston tweeted:

Green party platform is out, and, as suspected, the UBI that they propose is neoliberal bullshit that replaces all other social transfers. It would cancel GIS, OHS, disability supplements, and so on.

The relevant section of the Green platform reads as follows:

Establish a universal Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) program to replace the current array of income supports, such as disability payments, social assistance and income supplements for seniors.

Building on the MBM [Market Basket Measure], payment would be set at a “livable” level for different regions of the country. The negotiation to implement a livable income across the country would take place through the Council of Canadian Governments. Unlike existing income support programs, additional income would not be clawed back. Those earning above a certain total income would pay the GLI back in taxes.

So the basic income proposal would completely replace social assistance and other supports, and the amount people receive would vary across the country. Johnston again:

I especially love the incredible crassness of noting that the payment would be adjusted depending on the region of the country you live in. Stay destitute, Atlantic Canada.

A piece published last year in Counterpunch proposes an alternative:

A more exciting alternative, in my view, is the idea of Universal Basic Services i.e. what are called public goods and services, free at the point of use. A super-abundant society is by definition one where our needs are met without toil and exploitation ie a socialist society. But the transition to such a society can start with devoting socially necessary labour to the production of basic social needs like education, health, housing, transport and basic foodstuffs and equipment.

In her thread on UBI, Johnston linked to a 2017 piece she wrote for Guts, called Bread and Roses: Beyond a Basic Income.

I really like this article, because it moves far beyond economics to talk about the nature of money and relationships, and discusses UBI from a specifically feminist point of view.

Eliminating social assistance and employment insurance is a slippery slope — surely if we dismantle those, publicly funded health care and education will not be far behind. This is troubling not only because slowly replacing relationships that are not mediated by cash will bring about a fundamental shift in how we relate to each other, but because so much of the welfare state has been chipped away at and reconfigured and made better by generations of women who looked at what was universal (white, male, able-bodied, childless) and found it wanting…

What makes us think that the UBI under discussion has the potential to liberate? Would it represent an escape from work, or merely a reshuffling of responsibility for cash transfers? What kind of freedom does a Universal Basic Income offer if it props up an ownership structure that concentrates power in the hands of the very few? Why abandon work as a site of change when the highly gendered forms of precarious employment that underpin our economy aren’t going anywhere anytime soon? Why not organize instead?

If we organize we can articulate that we want more than what we have been given. We can make choices that are at once material and political, transcending earth-bound womanhood without abandoning reality. We can feel through the range of human emotions, let the plane of desire and anger cross the single dimension patriarchy affords us that runs from despair to gratitude. In organizing we might win the cash that provides us with the means to make our particular choices, but more than that, we stand to gain what only mutual struggle can produce—solidarity.

Whether or not you agree with the premise, it is worth a read.


Government

City

Thursday

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — there are no action items on the agenda.

Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Youth Power House, 1606 Bell Road, Halifax) — the kids are preparing to storm City Hall, throw city councillors into reeducation camps, and institute a Five Year Plan to Stop All the Bullshit Already. First, however, they’re ordering hoodies.

Halifax and West Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, City Hall) — now that two large apartment buildings that will loom over the Northwest Arm have been approved, the council wants to stop more large buildings from being approved.

Friday

Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Province

No public meetings today or Friday.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Yiddish and Sephardic Narrative Ballads: Shared Themes (Thursday, 12pm, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Judith Cohen will perform.

Operators With Compatible Corners (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Heydar Radjavi from the University of Waterloo will talk.

Retirement Celebration for Marion MacKinnon (Thursday, 3:30pm, University Club Dining Room) — Ms. MacKinnon worked for 30 years at Dal, mostly with International Development Studies. Buy her drinks.

What the New Convention on Harassment and Violence at Work Tells Us About the International Labour Organization on its Centenary (Thursday, 4:30pm, Room 105, Schulich School of Law) — Anne Trebilcock from Georg-August University in Germany will talk.

Archives: How Architecture Makes History (Thursday, 7pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building) — Albena Yaneva from the University of Manchester will talk. More info here.

Thinking While Doing: Explorations in Educational Design/Build (Thursday, 7pm, Exhibition Room, Medjuck Architecture Building) — book launch. More info here.

Friday

Thinking While Doing – Workshop and Panel Discussion (Friday, 9am, Exhibition Room, Medjuck Architecture Building) — panel discussion in Auditorium at 11:30am. More info here.

Ellen Denny. Photo: twitter

“Does This Make Me a Playwright?” (Friday, 2:30pm, Studio Two, Arts Centre) — Ellen Denny will talk about “Becoming a Multi-hyphenate Theatre Artist.”

Rosemary Bagot. Photo: ludmercentre.ca

Neural circuits of resilience and susceptibility (Friday, 3:30pm, Room P5260, Life Sciences Centre) — Rosemary Bagot from McGill University will talk.

A Murder Most Siberian: The ‘Bad House,’ Crime, and Punishment in 1909 Tomsk (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Wilson T. Bell from Thompson Rivers University will talk.

Sharks! (Friday, 4pm, in the auditorium named after a bank, Marion McCain Building) — marine wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey is gonna talk about sharks!

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

The Look of Age: Ruins, Replicas, and Shams (Thursday, 7pm, in the theatre named after a bank in the building named after a grocery store) — Carolyn Korsmeyer from the University of Buffalo will talk.

Friday

Denise Rousseau. Photo: heinz.cmu.edu

Leading Effectively (Friday, 7:30am, in the theatre named after a bank in the building named after a grocery store) — Denise Rousseau from Carnegie Mellon University will ask “Do You Have the Evidence to Lead Effectively?” Light breakfast, more info and tickets here.

King’s

Thursday

Classical Architecture and its Progeny (Thursday, 7:30pm, KTS Lecture Hall) — Peter Bryson will talk.


In the harbour

00:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at Bedford Basin anchorage from Portland
06:00: AIDAdiva, cruise ship with up to 2,050 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from St. John’s, on a 28-day cruise from Warnemunde-Rostock, Germany to Montreal
06:15: Regal Princess, cruise ship with up to 4,271 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Cobh-Cork, Ireland, on a 20-day cruise from Copenhagen to NewYork
06:30: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
06:45: Veendam, cruise ship with up to 1,350 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a seven0day cruise from Montreal to Boston
07:00: RCGS Resolute, cruise ship with up to 146 passengers, arrives at Pier 27 from Sisimiut Greenland
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
07:00: Ocean Atlantic, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 34 from Saint-Pierre
08:00: BNS Leopold, Belgium Navy frigate, arrives at Dockyard
11:00: Jennifer Schepers, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
15:30: AIDAdiva sails to Bar Harbor
15:30: Veendam sails for Bar Harbor
16:30: Regal Princess sails to New York
18:00: Ocean Atlantic sails for sea
18:00: X-Press Makalu, container ship, sails for New York


Footnotes

I was watching the Giants-Red Sox game last night, and a fan at Fenway proudly held up a sign announcing that she was a “Gamer babe from Chico” — Tim’s former home in California. Also, I know inter-league play has been around for a long time now, but I still find it strange to see the Giants at Fenway.

Philip Moscovitch

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

Join the Conversation

8 Comments

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. I only realize Morning File isn’t written by Tim, when the guest writer mentions him. I think a more clear author byline or author byline with photo would be helpful to clearly identify the writer of the day.

    1. We used to put something like “Today’s Morning File is written by…” but I guess since it happens more often now, it’s just the byline at the top of the page.

    2. I’m crazy busy with a big project right now, and so I need to free up time and mental energy. Probably I’ll be writing Morning File just twice a week for the next while, and the other three days will have other writers.

  2. “A state of emergency may sound dramatic, but in this case it is a way to speed up removal of the crane without furthering bickering over insurance and liability.

    For all the corporatists out there, please note the irony.

    Aren’t corporations more efficient than government? Except in the face of financial responsibility. Then government (citizens) come to the rescue. The crane failed. Someone company/developer should be liable for the clean up. It’s called responsible corporate citizenship.

  3. For those concerned about affordable housing check out the Halifax screening of
    PUSH – What is really behind a global housing affordability crisis?
    Thursday, 6:40 pm, Park Lane, Theatre 5

    This film tells nicely with what’s happening around the world, just like in Halifax. The film “investigator” is Canadian Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing.

    Around the world housing affordability and communities are in crisis as residential real estate is now a financial commodity for wealth investments and pension funds valued at about 3 times the global GDP. Housing prices are skyrocketing in cities around the world. Incomes are not.
    PUSH sheds light on a new kind of faceless landlord, our increasingly unliveable cities and an escalating crisis that has an effect on us all. This is not gentrification, it’s a different kind of monster.The film follows Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, as she’s travelling the globe, trying to understand who’s being pushed out of the city and why. “I believe there’s a huge difference between housing as a commodity and gold as a commodity. Gold is not a human right, housing is,” – Leilani Farha. http://www.pushthefilm.com

    Can’t make the film? -CBC The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonte interviews Canadian Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing and director Frederick Gertten about their new film PUSH that explores a topic Halifax is ignoring. Listen at 22:30- https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-april-25-2019-1.5110297

  4. Having known people on welfare at the mercy of social workers for their housing and food allowances, I am totally in favour of any plan that gets money directly to people and eliminates the levels of bureaucracy involved in all local. provincial and federal social programs.
    I expect to see/hear the argument that we would be giving money to people to do nothing. I would argue that a direct income would make people freer to take a job or improve their education. Those who choose not to, can still feed their children without big brother (or sister) deciding if and how they should do that.
    I do disagree with varying levels for different parts of the country…except for the north, of course.
    And, it would work really well if at the same time governments eliminated the HS tax that has the most impact on the poor. The taxes then could be increased by corresponding taxes on the rich who would face severe penalties if they refuse to repatriate their overseas bank accounts.
    Okay, that last sentence was a ridiculous dream.

  5. Re: Basic Income… Basic Income Nova Scotia has been lobbying for a few years now for the progressive vision of UBI / BIG: one that does not replace disability support (but would replace, by exceeding, ESIA social assistance) or threaten social programs (health care, education etc.). Full disclosure, I was a founding member, but I think it’s important to note that there is a local group doing the work to push government toward the progressive BIG model through lobbying, conferences, campaigns and so on. They have a Facebook page and a website for anybody out there in Examinerland looking for more info.