News

1. Children are poor because their families are poor

From the documentary Four Feet Up. Photo: Nance Ackerman, courtesy National Film Board of Canada

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Nova Scotia (CCPA–NS) yesterday released its 2020 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia. CCPA–NS issues a report on the subject annually.

I am sure you will be shocked to learn the results are not heartening.

Yvette d’Entremont looks at the report and quotes its authors, including CCPA–NS director Christine Saulnier.

d’Entremont writes:

The report shows a child poverty rate of 24.6% in 2018, up from 24.2% in 2017. That’s 41,370 children living in poverty in Nova Scotia, which also has the third-highest provincial child poverty rate in Canada and the highest rate in Atlantic Canada.

Child poverty rates are highest in Cape Breton (34.9%), Annapolis (34%), and Digby (33.1%). The lowest are in Antigonish (20.2%) and Halifax (20.4%)…

“At what point do we begin to ask, as we did in this report card, whether child and family poverty is not simply a matter of government neglect, but in fact is a means of maintaining social stratification,” CCPA Nova Scotia director and the report’s co-author Christine Saulnier said.

“We do not ask this question lightly.”

Read d’Entremont’s full story here.

On Twitter yesterday, Saulnier wrote: “I recall convincing a producer that there is no other side to poverty ie the side that doesn’t believe the statistics or wants to blame the individuals.”

I have written this before, but I won’t forget that years ago, when I was trying to organize public screenings (including one on Parliament Hill) for Nance Ackerman’s documentary Four Feet Up, a researcher I spoke to told me “child poverty” is a terrible category. Children are poor because their parents are poor.

I’m not knocking the CCPA–NS report. I think it’s important. Child poverty catches our attention because it is one of the worst manifestations of inequality in our society. No kid deserves to grow up poor. On the other hand, implicit in the notion that child poverty is a worse thing than poverty in general is the highly problematic idea of the “deserving poor.” Nobody deserves to be poor, but too often we spin narratives about the bad choices adults have made in life, instead of working for more just outcomes.

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2. Does Northern Pulp’s general manager really not understand the environmental assessment process?

Northern Pulp mill effluent. Photo: Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter has her latest fact-check on the monthly “monitor report” from Ernst & Young, the court-appointed company monitoring the Northern Pulp creditor protection case in BC Supreme Court.

In the report, Nothern Pulp general manager Bruce Chapman makes several claims Baxter characterizes as “misleading.” She writes:

 Chapman is not new to the whole environmental assessment process in Nova Scotia. He should know what it entails. All of it. In great depth.

Nevertheless, in his affidavit to the BC Court, Chapman writes that:

“… the Petitioners temporarily “paused” the environmental assessment process in respect of the Replacement ETF for various reasons, as described in the Fourth Chapman Affidavit. The Petitioners formed the Community Liaison Committee (renamed the Environmental Liaison Committee, the “ELC”) to assist in identifying alternatives to re-start the Mill, as described in the Sixth Chapman Affidavit. The ELC has had multiple meetings with stakeholders, retained a local engineering firm to provide technical guidance and support, and expects to complete its analysis and make a formal presentation to Northern Pulp in December 2020 regarding community concerns and potential solutions to address those concerns to include in a new Replacement ETF project (the “New Replacement ETF Project”) to re- start the Mill. The Petitioners will attempt to re-engage with the Province in January 2021 to identify an environmental assessment process to seek approval for the New Replacement ETF Project …” [italics added]

Perplexed by the sections highlighted in italics in the above, I asked Nova Scotia Environment if it was possible for Northern Pulp to “temporarily” pause the environmental assessment process.

Spokesperson Barbara Maclean replied that, “There are no provisions in the legislation for a company to “pause” the Environmental Assessment Report process.

There is more, and Baxter details it all. She also asks some pointed questions about just what might be afoot here.

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3. New Tideline podcast, featuring Jennah Barry

Jennah Barry. Photo contributed

This item is written by Tim Bousquet.

Episode #9 of The Tideline, with Tara Thorne is published.

This week, singer-songwriter Jennah Barry zooms in from the south shore of Nova Scotia to share the experience of her much-anticipated sophomore album Holiday coming out two weeks into the pandemic shutdown. In an honest, funny discussion, she also talks about flailing in the wake of her successful debut, and what family and self-care have brought to her life as a person and artist.

This episode is available today only for premium subscribers; to become a premium subscriber, click here, and join the select group of arts and entertainment supporters for just $5/month. Everyone else will have to wait until tomorrow to listen to it.

See how this goes? By paying a small amount — less than a snifter of Christmas brandy! — you will be supporting local independent arts journalism, you’ll help get Tara paid, and you’ll get The Tideline goods one day early.

Please subscribe to The Tideline.

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4. Province’s first “cuddle bed” slated for Bridgewater hospital in early 2021

Taff Cheeseman cuddling with her husband Rick Cheeseman in hospital in August. Her campaign to raise funds for a “cuddle bed” at the South Shore Regional Hospital has met its goal, and now Cheeseman wants to do more. Photo: Contributed

Last Friday, Yvette d’Entremont brought us the story of Taff Cheeseman, and how she wanted to be able to hold her husband Rick while he was hospitalized with cancer.

d’Entremont wrote:

There’s no dedicated palliative care unit at the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater, and there was no large palliative care bed to accommodate them. Her husband was in too much pain for her to be able to crawl into his regular hospital bed like she had during past hospital stays.

So she kept vigil by his bedside every night, holding his hand and wishing she could hold him instead.

About 10 days into what would be his final stay, hospital staff found a bariatric bed (used for larger patients). While not as comfortable as a dedicated and much larger palliative care bed would’ve been, it gave Cheeseman two weeks to be physically close to her husband before he died.

“I don’t want anybody else to feel like I felt as I was sitting there next to his bed 24 hours a day, every single day, holding his hand because I didn’t want to leave him and I didn’t want him to be alone,” she said.

Cheeseman set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a palliative care bed, also known as a “cuddle bed” and it has already met its goal.

d’Entremont brings us the latest. She writes:

A South Shore woman’s fundraising campaign to honour her late husband has reached its $22,050 goal just one week after an emotional photo of the pair went viral.

Now, Taff Cheeseman hopes to expand the campaign to other hospitals…

On Wednesday, the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore announced the campaign had received $22,250 in donations for the cuddle bed.

“The support was extremely overwhelming. I’m still in shock, and it’s still not registering that it’s done because I don’t feel done,” Cheeseman said in an interview Wednesday night.

Read the full story here.

Having seen tons of viral photos of people in hospital beds, I’ve told my partner to please not share any photos of me in my hospital bed on social media. But I’ve got to say, if it was a photo like the one of Taff and Rick Cheeseman, I would have no objections.

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5. Rifles, pistols, and illegal ammo: the latest from unsealed documents on the April 18-19 mass murders

Portapique Beach Road. Photo: Joan Baxter.

Tim Bousquet reports on what we learned from the latest round of search-warrant-related documents ordered unsealed yesterday by Judge Laurie Halfpenny-MacQuarrie.

The documents detail the weapons found in killer GW’s car after he was killed at the Irving Big Stop in Enfield, and they confirm that police thought he may have had grenades. It also appears GW was on his way to Halifax intending to commit at least one more murder — something that was the subject of much speculation back in April.

Bousquet writes:

We also learned today that on the night of April 18, GW told his commonlaw spouse that he was “going to the city to get [redacted].” The very next paragraph reads that “Members of the Halifax Regional Police attended the residence of [redacted] and located her and [redacted] and provided them security as [GW] had not been located.”

This seems to suggest that after speaking with GW’s commonlaw spouse in the early morning of April 19, police feared for the safety of a couple living in the Halifax area.

GW was clearly heading towards the city on April 19, but never made it that far as he was killed at the Enfield Big Stop.

Bousquet also details what the documents say about an unnamed couple (the Examiner has confirmed their names but has chosen to not identify them) who had GW come to their door.

The wife kept checking Facebook and began learning the extent of what had happened in Portapique the previous night, and she said “jeeze hope it wasn’t Gabriel that lost it.” Her husband told her that Wortman had a police car “he was going to decal up.” Both commented that “it would be a disaster if he was in a police car.”

One of the couple called 911. The other again checked Facebook and saw that GW was wanted. It’s unclear from the search warrant document what time this was. The couple then went upstairs in their house, and about 10 or 15 minutes later a marked police car entered their driveway, drove past their cars, and onto the grass to turn around. One of the couple recognized the driver as GW.

Read the full story here.

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6. Metal detectors coming to Metro Centre

The $48 NSF Fee Centre in May 2019, as the Halifax Mooseheads practiced ahead of the Memorial Cup. Photo: Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford reports that the municipality has put out a tender for new “security gates” at the Metro Centre.

Woodford writes:

Erin Esiyok-Prime, a spokesperson for Events East, the Crown corporation that runs the arena and the convention centre, said in an email that the metal detectors have been “identified as a priority” as the organization continues “to adapt to the evolving security environment in which we operate.”

The arena has “successfully trialed security gates at a few events over the past year or two but we require an additional 6 gates to fully implement them when the time is right,” Esiyok-Prime said.

It started those trials in 2018 with Halifax Mooseheads and Hurricanes games.

Esiyok-Prime said there was no specific incident that sparked the increased security. Rather, it’s “simply part of our longer term approach to security.”

“Security gates have become an industry standard over the past few years in venues across the country, and the world,” Esiyok-Prime said.

I guess our world is so over-securitized at this point that this won’t raise any eyebrows. Better safe than sorry, etc. But the reasons given for buying these gates essentially come down to everyone else is doing it, and the “security environment” is “evolving.”

I would love to see more questions asked about the utility and efficiency of these gates. I assume arena management used to make judgment calls on the level of security for different events. I recall being patted down on my way into a Slayer concert (the security guard paused when he felt a hard item in my pocket, but it was just the box for my earplugs) but not going into Mooseheads games, for instance.

A few years ago, Major League Baseball mandated security gates at all stadiums. At the time, there was some outcry from fans. See how this goes? Baseball did it, others do it, now it’s a standard so everyone has to do it. Anyway, I recall some security consultant at the time saying if he wanted to cause damage he would just detonate an explosive outside the security gates, where everyone was lined up, waiting to go in.

Maybe there is a great reason for these gates? I don’t know. I’m not a security expert. But I would love to see a better rationale given.

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7. 6 new cases of COVID-19 announced on Wednesday

Active cases are going down.

The COVID-19 news is all the way down in Nova Scotia. That’s because numbers are generally trending in a good direction.

Tim Bousquet has all the latest numbers and charts here.

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Views

1. CBC staff upset over branded content initiative

On November 3, I wrote about the trouble with journalistic organizations leveraging their credibility to sell branded content. Basically: we are a trusted news source, so let us write sponsored content for your company.

Except then that hollows out said credibility.

Here’s part of what I said last month:

Now, CBC is entering the branded content game, with a new project called Tandem.

This is, to put it mildly, a terrible idea. And CBC journalists are not happy about it. Earlier in the year, many of them spoke out about the racism they experienced at work. Now, we are hearing voices that are upset about the branded content plan.

Last week, Simon Houpt of the Globe and Mail wrote about the anger among CBC reporters, past and present, saying the CBC is facing an “uprising.”

In Houpt’s story, Linden MacIntyre does not mince words:

“Mr. MacIntyre, the former crusading host of The Fifth Estate, said during an interview that, while traditional advertising on CBC “is one of the realities” that has been accepted by the public, branded content is tantamount to ‘deception. Why do special corporate interests, institutional interests need to disguise content as something that is objective and something that is disinterested from their mercenary point of view? Why do they have to do that, other than to create an impression that is untrue, which is that they don’t have a particular stake in how people respond to this?’”

Houpt has now followed up with a story on hundreds of CBC staff going one step further and signing their names to an open letter against the organization’s branded content initiative.

Houpt writes:

The letter – and a new website – mark the first time current employees have taken a public stand on the issue, which has roiled the public broadcaster since it unveiled plans in September to pump up its sales of the controversial form of advertising.

“Our job is to cover the news, not be the news. But today we are crossing that line to appeal for your help,” the letter reads. “CBC is using its resources to help advertisers trick Canadians.”

Signatories include dozens of the network’s top on-air talent, among them Anna Maria Tremonti, Michael Enright, Bob McKeown, Gillian Findlay, Mark Kelley, Carol Off, Katie Nicholson and Nahlah Ayed.

Understand that the news business in Canada is relatively small, and people tend to not be overly critical because speaking out can have real consequences. Houpt writes that some signatories to the open letter:

fear censure under the corporation’s Journalistic Standards and Practices guidelines (the JSP), which state: “CBC journalists do not express their own personal opinion because it affects the perception of impartiality and could affect an open and honest exploration of an issue.” The JSP also notes employees’ obligation to “maintain professional decorum and strive to do nothing that could bring CBC into disrepute.”

The National Post has a story on this too, but it is a hellscape of autoplaying video, so I suggest reading the Globe piece instead.

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Noticed

Keeping us in the dark — again

RCMP NS tweet. What passes for informing the public, I guess.

Halifax Magazine editor Trevor Adams regularly shares ridiculous RCMP tweets (cute dogs, 9 PM lockup routine etc) and writes: “This is the account you have to follow to know if a mass shooting is currently underway in Nova Scotia.”

Yesterday afternoon, the Nova Scotia RCMP Twitter account asked for the public’s help in finding a stolen mulcher. (I can’t help but think of the start of the Jackie Chan movie Rumble in the Bronx).

Soon after, my social media feeds filled with images one person described as “from a John Wick movie”: unmarked vehicles jumping curbs, and tearing under underpasses, heavily armed cops in residential areas, reports of multiple operations in different parts of the city.

The Halifax Regional Police went online to tell people this wasn’t their operation, and to “direct your inquiries to @rcmpns.”

The RCMP’s Twitter account, meanwhile, would only say this:

RCMPNS has an ongoing investigation at a number of different sites throughout the HRM. More information will be released when available. There is no risk to public safety.

Six months ago, the RCMP tweeted about their 9 PM lockup routine, then said there was a weapons complaint in Portapique, then went silent for hours and hours while horrendous mass killings played out in multiple sites.

So you can forgive Nova Scotians for being a little on edge when they see some  mass police operation underway and get absolutely no information at all. I mean, sure, you don’t want to telegraph what you are up to, but I can recall waking up many times to news stories along the lines of “there is a police operation underway rounding up members of outlaw biker gangs” or whatever. As the tale of the heavily redacted documents related to search warrants executed in wake of the April 18-19 murders shows, the RCMP in Nova Scotia have a mania for secrecy that goes beyond any reasonable explanation. (Adams frequently points this out in his tweets too.)

This morning, I woke up figuring maybe there would be some news from the local RCMP. Instead, I found the image above on my Twitter feed. As I was writing this segment, I saw a news release from the RCMP. Ah, I thought, here we go. But no, it’s the latest states on impaired driving arrests.

What gives?

In the Toronto Star, Heather Mallick writes about the RCMP decision to charge the mass killer’s common-law partner, Lisa Banfield, for providing him with illegal ammunition.

Mallick starts off the piece with some world-class Toronto snark aimed at us hicks down here:

The RCMP, arguably the meanest and most incompetent police force in Canada, really outdid itself before, during and after the mass slaughter of 22 people in and around Portapique, N.S. in April. That’s because it’s Nova Scotia, a have-not province where it’s easier to disdain the population you police and get away with it.

You’re far from big cities where en masse people notice, report, complain, sue and demand explanations and reparations. Your politicians are cemented in place, there are fewer journalists to make a noise about institutional secrecy, and the dead are unlikely to have had money and power.

I don’t think this is fair to either journalists or the broader population of Nova Scotia. But the events of the last 16 hours or so do reek of contempt on the part of the RCMP for both.

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Government

City

Thursday

Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am) — virtual meeting.

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm) — virtual meeting.

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Thursday, 5pm) — virtual meeting.

Public Information Meeting – Case 22980 (Thursday, 6pm) — Application by West Bedford Holdings Limited requesting substantive and non-substantive amendments to an existing development agreement for lands off of Amesbury Gate to allow townhouse development. More info here.

Province

No public meetings.

On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

BRIC NS Primary Health Care Learning Series (Thursday, 12:30pm) — Clare Heggie will present “Invisible Women: Carceral facilities for women and girls across Canada and proximity to maternal health care’” followed by Martha Paynter with “Reproductive health outcomes among incarcerated women in Canada: A scoping review.” More info and registration here.

Friday

Newfangling Rounds: Halifax Newfangling District Fostering Newfangling and Growth (Friday, 8:30am) — It’s early in the morning to be a drinking game, but still:

Halifax Newfangling District is a tech and research-dense area where people, firms and organizations are connecting and collaborating to generate and accelerate ideas. It is home to: 2,000 companies including 360 professional, scientific and technical service firms; 80+ software development and IT service firms; two-thirds of Halifax’s 40 life and health sciences startup companies; 18 R&D organizations; 4 universities; a community college campus, and many startup incubators and accelerators. Learn more about this newfangled and collaborative community and how you can be a part of it.

Info and link here; bring your own drinks, and don’t forget to mute when you gotta go.

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

Find Your Inspiration and Become an Engaging Speaker (Thursday, 2pm) — Kanaar Bell leads this Zoom workshop.


In the harbour

05:30: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
15:30: Atlantic Sun sails for New York
16:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
16:30: AlgoCanada, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Montreal
22:00: Lagrafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland


Footnotes

I wake up tired every day, and I think maybe a year of near-constant heightened anxiety has something to do with it.

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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. Thank you for the chuckle reading “a hellscape of autoplaying video.” I TRY to remember to select the browser’s Reader View ASAP on news sites to avoid all the ads and videos. I sooo appreciate no ads on this site.

    1. You may have your opinion, but in this case, she’s spot on. And it’s time we as Nova Scotians say :no more, accountability and responsibility, please!”

  2. Security theater is about Doing Something so that if someone does shoot up a Mooseheads game you aren’t the guy who didn’t want to install metal detectors.

    If someone did actually bomb the lineup for the x-ray as suggested by the security consultant, then the exact same thing that happened after 9/11 would happen: Politicians would falsely claim that nobody thought of this attack strategy before, and there would now be pre-screening of vehicles that want to enter the airport facilities to make sure there are no bombs inside. Expensive whole-vehicle X-ray systems or whatever would be bought, lucrative contracts for lots of explosive test kits would be signed, but hey, explosive sniffing dogs would get to work outside.