1. An exercise in obfuscation
I wrote this morning:
The Halifax Examiner is one of eight media organizations that has been petitioning the court to unseal documents related to the RCMP’s investigation of the April 18/19 mass murders.
The documents in question are the “Information to Obtain”s (ITOs) a search warrant, which the RCMP submitted to a court in order to get various search warrants. As well, we hope to get the search warrants themselves, and the “return”s, which are lists of what was seized during the searches.
This is a long and expensive count battle, as federal and provincial Crown attorneys are resisting us at every stage. On May 25, we received redacted versions of the first six (of an expected 20 or so) ITOs. Those ITOs mostly (but not entirely) duplicate each other, and they are heavily redacted. See: “Here’s what the RCMP doesn’t want you to know about the mass murder investigation.”
We pressed on, and last Monday, July 27, the court unsealed a very small number of the redactions in the documents obtained on May 25. The Examiner then published an article I wrote about the newly released information: “Witness told police that mass murderer ‘builds fires and burns bodies, is a sexual predator, and supplies drugs in Portapique and Economy.’”
Thursday, the RCMP released a statement “to provide context to recently unsealed information.”
I went on to deconstruct that RCMP statement.
Writes Stephen Kimber:
Serial sexual predator William Shrubsall was sentenced to more prison time in New York last week. How much more? That depends. Not on our parole board, which failed abysmally. But on the willingness of women like T. C., K. C., and Tracy Jesso who continue to make sure Shrubsall’s past — and his potential for harm — will not be forgotten.
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3. Outdoor learning
“Getting kids outside and into nature to learn has plenty of benefits, but some parents and teachers say they’re not sure how outdoor classrooms and outdoor learning, which the province is encouraging in its back-to-school plan, could work this upcoming school year,” reports Suzanne Rent.
4. Emancipation Day
“We are a collective of incarcerated Black people — political prisoners held hostage by the state — and our supporters on the outside who are making this statement on Emancipation Day,” reads a statement provided to the Halifax Examiner:
On August 1, African people across the globe celebrate Emancipation Day. This marks the day the Abolition of Slavery Act was passed freeing enslaved Africans across the British colonies, including Canada.
Slavery may be over, but are Black people truly free?
Are Black people free when prisons and jails across this country are filled with Black people? Is slavery even over when Black people clean and work in the kitchens for less than two dollars a day inside federal prisons? When our mothers and grandmothers come to visit us and are turned away and accused of bringing in contraband. When we are transferred across the country against our will when we stand up against unjust conditions. When we have to go on hunger strikes to demand basic human rights.
Are we free when police taser, and shoot, and kill Black people when they are called for wellness checks? Are we free when the off-duty police officer who beat Dafonte Miller with a metal pipe until he lost an eye is convicted only of assault, while his brother was acquitted of all charges? And while they are acquitted, white juries sentence Black men on no evidence for the crime of only having Black skin.
5. Cunard Block
“The city’s Design Review Committee has rejected advice from planning staff and approved an application from Southwest Properties for a 16-storey building on the waterfront,” reports Zane Woodford:
The site is known as the Cunard Block — located on the waterfront along Lower Water Street between Morris and Bishop streets, next to Southwest’s Bishop’s Landing condo development. It’s currently a parking lot. Southwest would lease the land from Develop Nova Scotia, formerly known as Waterfront Development Corporation.
Southwest is proposing a 16-storey building with more than 250 one- or two-bedroom residential units, 90,000 square feet of commercial space and 229 indoor parking spaces.
In a staff report, planner Jennifer Chapman advised the Design Review Committee that the building is too big for the site.
A friend points out that either by design or happenstance, the proposed building looks like a cruise ship crashed into the boardwalk.
Between the dog-awful Queen’s Marque and this new monstrosity, Develop Nova Scotia (the former Waterfront Development) sure has done a number on the waterfront.
The incentives are all wrong for the crown corporation — it’s rewarded for maximizing financial return, rather than for providing and maintaining an enjoyable public space. That’s why it effectively privatizes much of the waterfront via 99-year leases to the private companies that build the monstrosities, while cheaping out on paying workers to clean the boardwalk.
But I have no idea why the people on the Design Review Committee go along with this crap. Is it just that they’re too chummy with the developers? Professional courtesy, as the lawyer joke goes? Do they hope to get future work out of the gig?
Next up is the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which will occupy the last open lot adjacent to the boardwalk. We’ll see what sort of design comes down with that, but I fear that once again, the project will be overbuilt in order to maximize interior space — there won’t be enough setback from the waterfront, and the boardwalk will from one end to the other feel like a tight corridor running around and through privatized spaces. The afternoon sun will be blocked by the large buildings, which will additional create a wind tunnel effect, making the boardwalk uncomfortable, especially in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.
Lots of readers suggest that sea level rise will endanger the new buildings. To that, the developers respond that they’ve made allowance for the expected sea level rise. It remains to be seen if those expectations are adequate, but that issue aside, it means that buildings’ ground floors are elevated, meaning the buildings will loom even more over the boardwalk.
What happens when the sea does rise? At first, the boardwalk will be swallowed whole during storm surges, with the waves breaking at the base of the elevated buildings. And as the sea creeps ever higher, there will be no space to move the boardwalk back to.
6. Liscombe Lodge
Speaking of Develop Nova Scotia, just as we go to publication, the province is announcing that it has sold Liscombe Lodge to Hearthstone Hospitality for $450,000.
Turns out, people read the internet differently.
Some people like traditional webpages, and read them from start to finish. Others, however, have asked us to post every article, in its entirety, on Facebook; they don’t want a link on Facebook, they want the entire article there. Others want the entire articles emailed to them. A surprising (to me) number of people don’t know how to go to the Halifax Examiner home page.
And I’m also aware that a lot of people don’t read the bylines. They think I write everything. I think this is a design issue, and we will soon change the bylines to a different colour, like bright red, and maybe even a different font, with arrows pointing at the bylines.
Then there’s “Morning File.” It was always intended to be easy reading in the morning, a round-up of local news mixed with commentary. On my best days, I’ll riff on some subject, but recently I’ve found I’m just too busy to devote much time to Morning File. Fortunately, Suzanne Rent and Philip Moscovitch have stepped up, and they consistently use this space to dive into subjects they’ve been curious about, or for which they have an interesting perspective.
However, there’s long been a problem built into Morning File: readers don’t read it as intended.
Some people don’t like the format at all. They want each item to be a stand-alone article. Others get upset that the main headline says one thing, while six or seven of the items are about something else. Still others want a navigation bar at the top to get to each item below (which I did for a while, but it looked horrible so I did away with it). Basically, a lot people don’t like, or don’t understand, that Morning File is intended as a full read, from beginning to end.
But there’s another problem people have with Morning File that I’m addressing today.
People complained to me that they wanted to be able to link to specific items, and not tell people “here’s a link, scroll down to number 6,” or whatever.
In response, I made each item its own anchor — that is, if text of the item was at the top of your screen, and you copied the URL, the link would send someone directly to that item.
But then people complained about that — the automatic anchors meant that the “back” function on browsers didn’t work as expected. So I did away with the automatic anchors.
But now people are again complaining that they can’t link to a specific item.
So as an experiment, I’m putting a link to each item at the end of each item. That’s what the “link to this item” thing is all about. I gotta say: I don’t like it. I find it intrusive. But maybe it solves the problem? Let me know what you think. Or, if you have a better solution, let me know about that.
In the harbour
06:00: Horizon Arctic, offshore supply ship, sails from Dartmouth Cove for sea
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
10:00: USCGC Tahoma, sails from Dockyard for sea
11:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, sails from anchorage for sea
11:00: Maersk Mobiliser, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from the Sable Island field
13:00: Gaia Desgagnes, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Saint John, and isn’t naming an oil tanker “Gaia” precious?
15:30: Grande Torino, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
17:00: Maersk Mobiliser sails for sea
19:00: Gaia Desgagnes moves to Irving Oil
21:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
Much thanks to the entire Examiner crew for keeping the place running in my absence last week! They did fantastic.
I was called back to work a couple of times during my “week off” — once to write Monday’s article on the search warrants, and then again on Tuesday for an interview that aired Wednesday on Canadaland. But I did manage to work in the garden, take lots of naps, and over the long weekend I relaxed in a borrowed cottage next to the ocean, and even found an amazing sandy and nearly deserted beach I had not known about before.
So while I didn’t have a full week off, I learned the value of even some short down time, and I will in the future aim to (mostly) take weekends off. Hey, I run a business, so I’m always a bit “on,” but that doesn’t mean I can’t spend a day here and there goofing off.
The time off-ish also allowed me to think about how the Examiner has grown this year, and to appreciate the excellent reporting we’ve produced. And we could not have done it without subscribers and those who made donations to the Examiner.
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