News

1. New police chief won’t say “racial bias”

Halifax police chief Dan Kinsella.

Dan Kinsella, the new Halifax police chief was a guest on CBC Radio’s Information Morning today. Host Portia Clark, in her polite and persistent way, pressed him a couple of times on the question of street checks and racial profiling.

Asked about street checks, Kinsella replied:

The largest piece of the learning for me has been the organization. I’ve had the opportunity to learn it from the outside as I prepped and prepared… Now I’m learning it from the inside… picking up how we do what we do, why we do what we do, and then I’ll be able to make some informed decisions on our deployment model.

This didn’t exactly satisfy Clark, so she asked the question again.

Kinsella: There’s no doubt that there have been some inequalities, some negative experiences.

Clark: Racial bias?

Kinsella: Some inequalities, some negative experiences.

Kinsella went on to say that “the random stopping of any individual based on any bias-related foundation is inappropriate and won’t be tolerated” and that he needs to “determine the circumstances of the stops”:

It can’t be what I just mentioned. It can be other activities… the gathering of intelligence, but it can’t be random…

We need to have the ability to gather intelligence in relation to criminal activity… Having conversations and conversing with people absolutely needs to happen, I’m a proponent of it. If I’m walking down the street and want to engage someone in conversation, I’m hoping they’ll want to engage with me.

I guess if the chief of police wants to engage in a conversation with someone — definitely not random! — on the street, he hopes you’ll show some of that fine Maritime hospitality.

2.  Out of control Airbnbs

Another kind of ghost hotel. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Zane Woodford at the Star Halifax (or StarMetro? Help!) and Pam Berman at CBC both cover last night’s Halifax and West Community Council meeting, at which a group of North End residents shared their concerns about Airbnb and other short-term rentals.

Woodford writes:

“All short-term rentals where the owner is not the primary resident should be designated as a business, taxed on a commercial basis and not permitted in residential zones,” [Bill] Stewart [of the group Neighbours Speak Up] said.

“This measure will be a disincentive for ghost hotels but still allow short-term rentals for primary residents.”

Ghost hotels are private residences that can be rented through Airbnb and similar services. Essentially, they’re hotels without staff. And they can be far more profitable for the owners than renting to regular tenants. In a city with a tight housing market, that’s a problem.

Woodford’s story says there are over 2,000 short-term rentals in Halifax. Berman has “more than 1,800 Airbnbs in the Halifax region.” From Woodford’s story:

 About three quarters of those are entire-home rentals, meaning there’s no primary resident on site, and about 30 per cent of them are available year-round.

“These are the true ghost hotels, where the owner never resides on the property,” Stewart said

“They are essentially unmanaged hotels in a residential building or street, replacing residents with visitors.”

There are ways to ensure people can rent out a room or two and make a bit of cash without taking thousands of units off the long-term rental market. Let’s hope the city and province adopt some of them.

3. Fire at shop owned by Syrian barbers

Felice’s Barber Shop. Photo: Municipal Archives
Felice’s Barber Shop. Photo: Municipal Archives

Business partners and cousins Jakkar Aliso and Masoud Alissou own a barbershop on Bayers Road that was hit by vandalism and fire last Sunday.

has the story for the Chronicle Herald:

While awaiting a police investigation, two Syrian barbers are worried about their safety after their shop on Bayers Road was damaged by fire Sunday.

A hate crime may be behind the incident, according to the family.

“If we don’t know who did it, of course, we will stay afraid,” said Masoud Alissou, a Syrian barber who moved to Canada less than three year [sic] ago. “What if we fix the damages and reopen shop, and it happens again? … Everything is possible.”

Alisso said that the person responsible broke the window at a point next to the shop’s leather couch, so that they could set it on fire.

The cousins have insurance and are hoping to reopen soon.

4. Just do mind-body

Can I prescribe some mindfulness?

I was interested in this Jean Laroche story posted to the CBC website late yesterday afternoon.

A Halifax surgeon called before a provincial health committee to speak about improvements to hip and knee surgery wait times ended up delivering a mostly dire message on Tuesday.

“There’s no jurisdiction in the Western world that’s gonna be able to afford the tsunami that’s coming,” Michael Dunbar told the all-party standing committee on health….

Dunbar said the focus should be on helping young children lead healthier lives so they grow up to be healthier adults.

Yesterday afternoon (and earlier this morning) the local CBC radio news report on this story had a clip of Dunbar saying we need to encourage people to lead healthier lives, so they won’t need as many knee and hip replacements. This is a reasonable and admirable goal. Health care should be about preventing health problems as well as dealing with them when they arise.

What struck me was Dunbar’s quote that we should be emphasizing doing mindfulness and mind-body. I’m not using quotation marks here, because I’m going by memory and I may not have the quote 100% right. But you get the idea.

I have found meditation and mindfulness practices useful at times in my life. And if people can use these tools to help come to terms with their pain or live with it more easily, then great. But suggesting mindfulness as an alternative to surgery for people who need knee replacements seems… odd? Unless I am completely misunderstanding the doctor.


Views

1. Assholes

Hmm, I wonder what it is about this guy that attracts assholes?

Yesterday, Tim called William Archer, the People’s Party of Canada candidate for Cumberland-Colchester, an asshole. He quoted Andrea Gunn’s Chronicle Herald story on Archer’s truly appalling Facebook feed. I love the apology Archer offered in that story:

“If people are offended I’m sorry they’re offended, but I am who I am and that’s how it’s going to be at the end of the day,” said Archer, the candidate for Cumberland-Colchester. “I’m not going to sell myself out to get elected.”

Documentary filmmaker John Walker, who lives in Halifax, has a timely new film called Assholes: A Theory. From the film’s website:

Ever get the feeling that assholes are taking over the world?

Venturing into a predominantly male domain, Walker moves from the frat clubs of elite colleges to the bratty princedoms of Silicon Valley and bear pits of international finance. Why do entitled assholes thrive in certain environments? What explains their perverse appeal and success? And how do they keep getting elected!

The film is co-produced by Walker’s company and the National Film Board. It hasn’t screened locally yet, but I’m hoping it will. Probably a good bet we’ll see it at the film festival this fall.


Noticed

This umpire is protecting his hands. Something I did not do in my last game, and my thumb still hurts from that ball that hit me.

I’ve been a baseball umpire for six years or so. I took a break last year, but am back at it this summer. I don’t umpire a lot — usually a couple of games a week — but I missed it last summer.

I find umpiring fascinating, for all kinds of reasons.

I originally took it up because my son was umpiring. I figured hell, if I’m driving him out to the ballfield, I might as well work the games with him. Other than the gut (sorry, “umpire muscle”), you wouldn’t think I’d be a great candidate for this job. In my daily life, I tend to be indecisive; I like to see all angles of an argument, and I get anxious about the unknown.

So sure, I’ll step behind the plate for a game which is known for producing one-of-a-kind, head-scratching plays. Even better, it’s a game in which the official is a part of every play. Hockey refs can skate up and down the sidelines without you paying much attention to them unless they get in the way or make a call. But the plate umpire in baseball has got to make a call on every pitch: ball, strike, foul, catcher’s interference, hit batter, and so on and so on.

Over the last few years, here are some of the things I’ve learned by working games:

  • Many coaches, parents, players — and sometimes even umpires — don’t know the rules. To be fair the baseball rulebook is a bit of a mess, written in faux legalese jargon, and filled not only with clauses and sub-clauses, but also interpretations of the rules.
  • Knowing the rules is not the most important thing. Sure, if you’re working a national championship and you have some complicated time play and an appeal or God knows what else, you’re going to want to know the rules. What’s more important than knowing every rule? Professionalism, basic competency, keeping the game moving, not tolerating aggression, a sense of fair play and good judgment.
  • The calls that seem most outrageous are often right. When I call “Strike three!” on a player and hear outrage or groans from the parents — and maybe have the kid glare at me — those calls are usually the ones that are undoubtedly strikes. But they may not look like it from a different vantage point.
  • You have good days and bad days, and you have to shake off the bad moments. This is a hard one for me. If I’ve made a mistake, I want to dwell on it. You can’t dwell on it. There is another pitch coming. Some days when I’m behind the plate, I see the ball really well. Every pitch seems perfectly clear, from the pitcher’s hand to the catcher’s glove, and I can call it with confidence. Occasionally, it’s a lot harder. I’ve yet to figure out why that is.
  • People don’t want what they think they want. The coaches will tell you they want a big strike zone. A big strike zone is often a good thing. Actually call a big strike zone and have their batters stand there striking out, one after the other? They usually don’t like that so much.

Government

City

Wednesday

Special Regional Council (Wednesday, 6pm, City Hall) — public hearings on three developments.

Thursday

Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — taxi driver Bryan Newby, who had his driver’s licence suspended for driving over the legal limit, is appealing the suspension of his taxi licence. Taxi driver Claudio Benigno, who drove taxi while his driver’s licence was suspended and then continued to drive a taxi when his taxi driver’s licence was suspended, wants the improprieties wiped away and his taxi driver’s licence reinstated.

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Thursday, 7pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — no action items on the agenda.

Province

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — all about bridges.

Thursday

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

BRIC NS Student Seminar Series (Wednesday, 12pm, Room 140, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Keisha Jefferies will present “A Critical Examination of Leadership Experiences Among African Nova Scotian Nurses in Healthcare Practice.” Alysia Robinson will present “The Effect of Community of Discharge on Length of Stay for Unplanned Hospitalizations: An Indicator of Community Care Integration?”

Edible Plant Walk (Wednesday, 12:15pm, meet outside the Henry Hicks Building) — Su Donovaro from the Loaded Ladel will lead this walk. Register here.

Two is better than one: regulation of p53 activity by MDM2 and MDMX acidic domain (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre B, Tupper Medical Building) — Quinyan (Andy) Song will talk.

Thursday

Monitoring reservoir response to earthquakes and fluid extraction, Salton Sea geothermal field, California (Thursday, 11:30am, Room LSC3652 Oceanography) —  Taka’aki Taira from UC Berkeley Seismology Lab will speak. The abstract:

Continuous monitoring of in situ reservoir responses to stress transients provides insights into the evolution of geothermal reservoirs. By exploiting the stress dependence of seismic velocity changes, we investigate the temporal evolution of the reservoir stress state of the Salton Sea geothermal field (SSGF), California. We find that the SSGF experienced a number of sudden velocity reductions (~0.035 to 0.25%) that are most likely caused by openings of fractures due to dynamic stress transients from local and regional earthquakes. Depths of velocity changes are estimated to be about 0.5 to 1.5 km, similar to the depths of the injection and production wells. We derive an empirical in situ stress sensitivity of seismic velocity changes by relating velocity changes to dynamic stresses. We also observe systematic velocity reductions (0.04 to 0.05%) during earthquake swarms in mid-November 2009 and late-December 2010. On the basis of volumetric static and dynamic stress changes, the expected velocity reductions from the largest earthquakes with magnitude ranging from 3 to 4 in these swarms are less than 0.02%, which suggests that these earthquakes are likely not responsible for the velocity changes observed during the swarms. Instead, we argue that velocity reductions may have been induced by poroelastic opening of fractures due to aseismic deformation. We also observe a long-term velocity increase (~0.04%/year) that is most likely due to poroelastic contraction caused by the geothermal production. Our observations demonstrate that seismic interferometry provides insights into in situ reservoir response to stress changes.

More info here.

Thesis Defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Thursday, 1:30pm, Room C264, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Anastasiia Mereshchuk will defend “Investigating Maintenance Of The Yeast 2-Micron Family Of Plasmids.”

Psychology & Neuroscience / Faculty of Science Talk (Thursday, 1:30pm, Room 4258, Life Sciences Building) — Peter Kind, Director of the Patrick Wild Centre for Research into Autism, Fragile X Syndrom(FXS) and Intellectual Disability, and Professor of Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, will talk.


In the harbour

06:00: Gerhard Schulte, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
07:45: Adventure of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,058 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a six-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
10:30: Advance II, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
12:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
15:30: Gerhard Schulte sails for New York
17:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
17:00: Atlantic Sea sails for Liverpool, England
17:30: Adventure of the Seas sails for New York


Footnotes

In a few past Morning Files I mentioned that I was working on a book about East Coast fermented foods and drinks. Well, I’m happy to be able to tell you it has a title and a release date.

The book is called Adventures in Bubbles and Brine. It’s being published by Formac and released on September 3. The book is a personal look at the history of fermented foods and drinks in Nova Scotia (think sauerkraut, beer, cider, cheese, and more), the people making these foods and reviving traditions, along with some recipes.

I’ve been a writer for a long time, and I’ve thought about writing books for most of that time. It was usually a vague kind of thing, with no plan attached. I would get all excited about some project, write a few chapters, eventually drop it, and then feel bad. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Two things changed: I did an MFA program, which helped demystify the whole process, and my publisher approached me with a suggestion for a book about fermentation. As a long-time fermenter (you can read my Twitter thread on homemade ginger beer here), it seemed like the perfect project for me.

It turns out this book-writing thing is a lot of work. But it’s also pretty rewarding.

So now I’m hoping this isn’t a one-and-done, and I’ve got some proposals for more books in the works. Wish me luck.


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Philip Moscovitch

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

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  1. Looking forward to the book. That kind of authorship is harder to come by so it is encouraging to see a professional writer taking it on.

  2. I think that you’re right about the assholes – the barbershop fire, the bus that wouldn’t wait for the woman wearing a head covering, and now Mr. Kinsella with his careful choice of weasel words. It is a dark time just locally without going in the larger picture.

  3. I think the comment about meditation and mind/body disciplines is not to suggest that they will immediately cure injuries or supplant necessary surgery but to suggest that these disciplines allow folks to be more aware of how they use their bodies and minds and thus less likely to injure themselves or inadvertently cause unnecessary wear and tear. More like brushing and flossing teeth on a regular basis – . A class or two of Tai chi’i for example gives you a greater sense of balance and how weight is distributed along joints and are thus less likely to fall or strain joints-and relaxation and flexibility so if a fall occurs you are less likely to injure yourself. That’s all—- no woo involved.

  4. Portia Clark’s interview reinforces the need for GREAT journalists as interviewers as well as great journalists of colour.

    Such opportunities should not be wasted on softball questions for the new chief of a police force that is incrementally becoming unaccountable.

  5. Not on the street
    Not in a car
    Not on a bus
    Not on a train
    Not in the day
    Not after dark
    Not with a girl
    Not with a fella
    Never ever talk to Kinsella

  6. Newly appointed HRM Police Chief Kinsella has agreed to follow the directive issued by Justice Minister Mark Furey on April 17 and local media are keen to keep the issue of ‘street checks’ alive. The subject is cheap and easy copy.
    As Deputy Chief of the Hamilton Police he was subject to new rules regarding street checks following the January 2018 report by Justice Tulloch of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

    The Tulloch report and the Furey directive are identical in laying out when a police street check is appropriate and constitutional. Which renders the recent decision by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission to ask retired Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Michael MacDonald to look into the issue of street checks somewhat redundant . But this is political and spending/wasting money on another report which will come to the same conclusion as Justice Tulloch is …well it is a form of appeasement; and some persons may ask ‘ What does some judge in Ontario know about what takes place in Nova Scotia and how can he possibly understand the subject vis a vis Halifax ‘

    Justice Tulloch happens to know a great deal about law and the issue of street checks. He knows so much that he took 18 months to travel the province of Ontario, listened to many people and wrote a 310 page report https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/sites/default/files/content/mcscs/docs/StreetChecks.pdf

    In the report he describes the consultation
    ” 15. The overall consultation process under the Review took over 11 months, during which time I met with more than 2,200 people and received over 100 written submissions. Many stakeholders were consulted, including police services, community groups and organizations, public interest groups, individuals and academics.

    16. I met with officials from 34 police services in Ontario, including police chiefs, members and police services boards, in order to understand their perspectives and the impact of the Regulation on their work.

    17. There were 12 public consultations held throughout the province during which members of the public expressed their views, concerns and feedback on street checks and the Regulation, and made recommendations.

    18. I met with Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities throughout the province. Hearing directly from these communities highlighted the historic and current issues these communities face with respect to the practice of street checks.

    19. Consultations with all of these groups were essential to me, as they provided valuable context, information and insight into the issues I was asked to address under the Review. Their contributions shaped my recommendations in this report. ”

    Giving Justice Tulloch a stipend, a round trip air ticket, hotel rooms and accompanied travel to several places in Nova Scotia where he could explain his work and why he believes street checks are constitutional in certain circumstances would be a swift and comprehensive review of the issue.

    ‘ 21. The police have an important and legitimate role and duty to serve and protect the safety of the community. To do this important work, they must be able to interact with the public, gather information and conduct investigations to prevent and solve crimes. But there is an equally important concern on the part of the public, who have a constitutional right to walk the streets freely and without being unreasonably impeded by the police who, in their professional role, act as an arm of the state. 22. While properly conducted street checks are a legitimate investigative and intelligence gathering tool, safeguards must be put in place to ensure that this practice is not applied disproportionately against marginalized, racialized and Indigenous communities. There is a critical balance to be struck between the interests of community safety and the protection of civil liberties and human rights’ ………………. page 30 of the report

    1. “The subject is cheap and easy copy,” writes Colin May. Oh please. I usually try to ignore Mr. May’s comments here, but this cannot stand. The comment shows disrespect for journalists who report on issues that are important to our community as a whole, but in this case, vitally important to a specific community – people of colour. Writing about racism and police malfeasance is never cheap and easy.
      Cheap and easy is reworking a press release about a new – and probably to be short-lived – start-up or the latest craft beer operation. That’s cheap and easy.

      Even more disrespectful is Mr. May’s expressed belief that studying the issue is “a form of appeasement”. Appeasing the black community that is rightfully upset and feeling aggrieved? We know that young black males are disproportionately subject to random checks as they go about their business while walking or driving. Unless Mr. May has been asleep for the past 30 years, he knows that the police (not all, of course) approach people of coulour with distrust and, in some cases, disdain. And of course, he could turn on the TV news and see regular reports of police violence committed against black people, across North America.
      I guess those journalists are just doing what’s cheap and easy, as well.

      1. Read and comprehend the Tulloch report and then comment.
        Not one journalist in the region has referred to the Tulloch report. If journalists and editors
        believe the subject is important they would interview Justice Tulloch after they have read the 200+ pages. Until then we will continue to see quick hit journalism online,on broadcast and print media.