News

1. Cannabis

“Talk about buzz kill,” writes Stephen Kimber:

At its meeting Tuesday, Halifax city councilors will consider a staff report recommending ever more stringent controls around the cultivation and consumption of cannabis to make sure no one gets the notion there is anything remotely recreational or fun — certainly, definitively not fun — in the air because of the looming legalization of recreational cannabis.

City council is not alone, of course.

Partly out of legitimate health and human considerations, and partly out of a desperate desire not to be seen to be blessing the dangerous idea otherwise ordinary people might occasionally enjoy a toke for the pure recreation of it, governments at all levels have been busy regulating and restricting everything about the business — as well as the pleasure — in advance of making it legal.

Click here to read “Cannabis will soon be legal. Just don’t smoke it, or grow it, or enjoy it.”

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2. Queen Mary Dispensary robbery

According to WeedMpas.com, you can buy Real Leaf’s “infused” Blueberry Buzz Gummy candies at the Queen Mary dispensary for $30. But you better go soon because they’re about to get busted.

Friday night, Halifax police issued this release:

Police are investigating a robbery that occurred early this evening in Halifax.

At 8:00 p.m. officers responded to a report of a robbery at the Queen Mary Dispensary located at 1534 Queen Street in Halifax. Staff reported that 2 men entered the business, approached a staff member, one suspect produced a firearm and demanded staff put product in a suitcase. The suspects fled the business on foot towards Citadel Hill with an undisclosed amount of product. Then fled in a grey colored vehicle.

One suspect is described as a white male, approximately 6”3”, Heavy build. He was wearing a Black hoodie, black mask, carrying a firearm.

Second suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5”10”, light blue hoodie.

This reminded me of the robbery at the Scotia Green dispensary, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. In that case the robbery team also consisted of one tall white guy and a shorter black guy. The first was described as “Caucasian or Spanish” (whatever that means), six feet tall, and 150-160 pounds; the second was described as simply “shorter” and “approximately 140 pounds.”

I don’t know how reliable witness descriptions are. I doubt I could guess your height and weight to within a few inches and tens of pounds, even if you were just sitting across the table from me drinking coffee; and yet eyewitnesses at crime scenes seem remarkably specific when it comes to the dimensions of shotgun-brandishing men threatening to kill them if they don’t keep their faces pointed at the floor.

Maybe there’s a conscious dedication to racial diversity among robbery teams — “visible minorities are under-represented on the dispensary raid teams,” complained The Mob Inc.’s HR department  in an interoffice memo. Or maybe it’s just that the same two dudes robbed both Scotia Green and Queen Mary. Who knows?

Regardless, the reason I bring it up is that after the cops responded to the Scotia Green robbery, they just happened to notice that the dispensary was selling cannabis, and that resulted in a subsequent raid of the dispensary and the arrest of the proprietor. That, more or less, was also how things proceeded after a couple of break-ins at the Coastal Cannapy dispensary on Agricola Street, which resulted in the arrest of two workers at the shop.

So now, I’m predicting, the police will soon raid the Queen Mary and arrest people there for trafficking.

We’re setting up a situation where people who work at dispensaries will no longer call the cops for fear of being arrested themselves. And this makes it open season on dispensaries from bad guys. As I wrote last month:

In effect, by busting the dispensaries, the cops are telling every nervous wannabe robber with access to a shotgun to go rob the local dispensary, because the dispensaries won’t call the cops.

Yes, yes, “don’t open a dispensary and you won’t have this problem” is an argument, but it’s a stupid argument. Whether we like it or not, people are opening dispensaries and selling pot. It shouldn’t be a crime in the first place, but even as a crime its level of seriousness in terms of being a threat to the public is on the level of jaywalking or forgetting to feed the parking meter.

“Protecting the public” doesn’t mean protecting everyone except those selling pot in dispensaries. Those people are worthy of protection, too.

Contrast the police response to the dispensary robberies to the police response to a robbery at the Nine Locks Brewery in Dartmouth last week:

Our brewery and store was robbed earlier tonight. None of our staff was harmed and we are all safe. Thank you for all your thoughts and concerns, Halifax Regional Police are investigating the situation further. @HaliBreaking

— Nine Locks Brewing (@ninelocksbrew) June 15, 2018

Halifax Regional Police have caught the individual who committed the robbery on Thursday night. Thank you for your swift and efficient job during this investigation @HRMPolice

— Nine Locks Brewing (@ninelocksbrew) June 16, 2018

That is the proper response to a robbery. Not arresting the people who call it in.

We shouldn’t discourage people from calling the cops when they’ve been the target of threatened violence, but this is the situation we’ve created. As a result, we can expect more violent attacks against dispensaries.

I fear someone is going to get killed.

3. Father’s Day in jail

El Jones speaks with men in prison about the struggles of maintaining a relationship with their children.

Click here to read “Daddy’s in jail.”

4. Research to help the oil industry northern people

“Scientists from universities across the country are working to open the world’s largest offshore-earthquake research centre in Halifax within the next two years,” reports Emma Davie for the CBC:

The new lab will take in data from more than 100 sensors placed offshore to monitor seismic activity from coast to coast.

Mladen Nedimovic, a Dalhousie University professor and seismologist, says 90 per cent of earthquakes that affect Canadians happen offshore — but right now there’s very little understanding about the seismic activity taking place along the country’s coastlines.

I’m a fan of research, but something about this…. what could it be? Reading on, I see Nedimovic says the research is important to protect people:

Nedimovic said Canada’s northern communities are especially defenceless right now.

“Hopefully, with these studies, we would be able to pinpoint which are the most vulnerable so that we could actually do something and maybe put in early-warning systems, which we don’t have,” he said.

​”The population is relatively small in these hamlets up there, but they’re rapidly growing … there [will be] a greater need to take care of our people there.”

Really? Earthquakes are a major risk to northern communities? Maybe, I guess. I’ve never heard of an earthquake ever in history, recorded or otherwise, causing significant damage in northern communities, but I’m the first to admit I don’t have much knowledge about earthquake risks to northern communities. So let’s go over to Nedimovic’s website and see what he does…

I am a geophysicist with over 27 years of experience in controlled source seismology. My work in academia, government, and petroleum industry has involved imaging methodology development, and collection, analysis and interpretion of 2D and 3D multichannel seismic reflection and wide-angle refraction data. The data were collected on land and at sea for various purposes, from exploration to environmental, and at various scales, from engineering to crustal. I am a Principal Investigator (PI) and co-PI on projects funded by the US National Science Foundation; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; Flotte Océanographique Française; ExxonMobil; Canadian Foundation for Innovation; Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response NCE; Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust; Offshore Energy Technical Research Association; LDEO Climate Center and Vetlessen Foundation; and other organizations. My current research is focused on continental rifting and crustal accretion processes at ultra-slow, slow, intermediate and fast-spreading centers, oceanic crustal evolution, subduction zone structure and processes, petroleum exploration at rifted margins, coastal response to climate change and seismic oceanography. [emphasis added]

Even if your motives are pure, it’s probably difficult to work in this field without involving yourself with the petroleum industry. But let’s not pretend that the sudden interest in funding an “offshore-earthquake research centre” has nothing to do with the oil industry and is only an exercise of humanitarian concern for those unsuspecting northern communities. And especially so as the petroleum industry is increasingly taking aim at Arctic waters and the Canadian east coast offshore.

And what is this “offshore-earthquake research centre,” anyway? Who’s funding it? Which department at Dal is going to host it? What are the guidelines, ethical and otherwise, that will govern it? The ceeb article doesn’t give us any insight.

Moreover, with the global climate caterwauling into chaotic cataclysm, should we really be doubling down on research to facilitate the expansion of the petroleum industry?

5. Corexit

We make choices about what research gets funded and what doesn’t.

For example, research about offshore earthquakes that might provide information that could help the petroleum industry is funded, while at the same time regulators and researchers were prohibited from accessing samples of Corexit so they could test it as a response to oil spills from drill sites in Nova Scotia’s offshore.

That’s one takeaway from Linda Pannozzo’s fantastic investigative piece, “Nova Scotia’s looming oil-drilling disaster,” which we’ve now taken from behind the paywall. As Pannozzo writes:

In early 2017, the CBC reported that Nalco Environmental Solutions, the Texas-based manufacturer of Corexit, had refused to provide samples of the product to a Canadian government-funded researcher at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

Craig Purchase was working on a $75,000 project comparing the toxicity of two types of Corexit — 9500A, a dispersant, and Corexit 9580A, a surface washing agent used for shorelines — on beach-spawning capelin but was unable to conduct his study without access to the product.

According to news reports at the time, Nalco said it would only provide samples to government agencies for regulatory approval and would not allow toxicity testing by non-government agencies. Canadian fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc pushed back, saying, “We obviously have a huge concern about a potential corporate interest that appears to not want to have robust, thoughtful, independent scientific analysis of their product.”

But if LeBlanc’s bluster revealed anything, it’s how late it was in coming. In the summer of 2016, months before the story about Nalco refusing access to the products broke,  Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9580A were both quietly approved for use in Canada’s offshore.

And what was not reported at the time was that Purchase wasn’t the only scientist having trouble accessing the product. Emails obtained by the Halifax Examiner through an Access to Information request reveal that in the two years before Nalco’s refusal made the news, there were nine other projects funded by DFO that involved Corexit, and some of those researchers also had difficulty accessing the products. [1] The nine Corexit-related studies are: 1. Toxicity of Diluted Bitumen to Aquatic Species (Langlois, RMCC, 2014); 2. Molecular Mechanisms of Action of Diluted Bitumen and Dispersant in Fish … Continue reading

This was all happening around the same time the feds were pushing through new legislation that would pave the way for the approval of Nalco’s products for use in Canada’s offshore — and as we shall see, leading some senior government scientists to raise critical questions about Nalco’s behavior and ultimately about the functioning of our country’s regulatory system.

Click here to read “Nova Scotia’s looming oil-drilling disaster.”

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Government

City

Monday

Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — Felix Cacchione, the new director of the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), is presenting to the commission. I’m not sure this is a good idea.

Public Information Meeting – Case 21552 (Monday, 7pm, First Baptist Church Hall, 100 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth) — this is a rescheduled meeting from last month. As I explained for the originally scheduled meeting:

First Baptist Church wants to rezone its property at Lancaster Drive and Woodland Avenue (where Highway 118 enters Dartmouth, the intersection Sam Austin wants to turn into a roundabout) so that it can “make another planning application for consideration of a development agreement for a multi-unit apartment building development with 100-120 units (proposed as two buildings at approximately five to six storeys 5-6 each).”

Tuesday

City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — gonna be dope.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — discussing the Federal-Provincial Camp Hill Agreement.


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Thesis Defence, Mathematics and Statistics (Monday, 9:30am, Room 3107, The Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Svenja Huntemann defends her thesis, “The Class of Strong Placement Games: Complexes, Values, and Temperature​.”

Pain Support Group: Show and Tell (Monday, 12pm, Room 523, Collaborative Health Education Building) — ​the Working with Pain initiative asks people to talk about pain.

Learning from the CLAHRCS Model in England (Monday, 12pm, Room 109, Burbidge Building) — Jo Cooke, from the British NHS, will talk about “the principles of the Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care.”

Matroid characteristic polynomials and Hilbert functions (Monday, 3:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Alex Fink from Queen Mary University of London will talk about his work with David Speyer and Alexander Woo. His abstract:

Take a system of linear equations in several variables. The set of points which satisfy at least one of the equations is known as a hyperplane arrangement. Many significant discrete and topological properties of the complement of the arrangement can be derived from a single associated polynomial invariant, known as the characteristic polynomial. A 1970 conjecture of Rota-Heron-Welsh, constraining the polynomials that can arise as characteristic polynomials, was recently proved by Huh and others using algebro-geometric techniques. After introducing the players, I will show how several of these properties of the characteristic polynomial can be seen as manifestations of the same commutative algebra.

Bring your own algebro-geometric technique.

Corrections Reform: Ontario and Beyond (Monday, 7pm, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, 2158 Gottingen Street, Halifax) — Howard Sapers, who is the Independent Advisor to the Ontario Government on Corrections Reform and the former Correctional Investigator of Canada (2004-2016), will talk about “aspects of corrections in Nova Scotia needing change. This includes overrepresentation of Indigenous and African Nova Scotian prisoners, the continuing problem of solitary confinement, and the need for more community-based alternatives to support those caught up in the criminal justice system.” More info here.

Tuesday

Thesis Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Tuesday, 9:30am, room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Julie Longard will defend her ​​thesis, “Relations Between Positive Affect and Sharing Behaviour in Early Childhood​​.”


In the harbour

Midnight: Maersk Atlanta, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Algeciras, Spain
1am: YM Evolution, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Norfolk
5:30am: Viking Conquest, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
6am: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Philpsburg, Sint Maarten
6am: Jona, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Lisbon, Portugal
7:30am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York
8am: Maasdam, cruise ship with up to 1,510 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Bar Harbor
Noon: Golden Amreen, bulker, arrives at anchorage from sea
3:30pm: Viking Conquest, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
5pm: Jona, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
5pm: Augusta Mars, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from sea
5:30pm: Maasdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for Sydney
5:45pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John


Footnotes

That was a short summer.

References

References
1  The nine Corexit-related studies are: 1. Toxicity of Diluted Bitumen to Aquatic Species (Langlois, RMCC, 2014); 2. Molecular Mechanisms of Action of Diluted Bitumen and Dispersant in Fish (Langlois, RMCC, 2014-2016); 3. Molecular Mechanisms of Action of Diluted Bitumen and Dispersant in Fish (Langlois, RMCC, 2016-2018); 4. Toxicity of Diluted Bitumen to Canadian Marine and Freshwater Fish Species (Langlois, Queen’s University, 2014-2017); 5. Toxicity Testing of Diluted Bitumen and Chemical Dispersants in Pacific Coast Marine Species (Environment Canada, North Vancouver Toxicological Lab, 2014-2015); 6. The Environmental Effects of Diluted Bitumen on Pacific Estuarine and Marine Organisms in the Straights of Georgia/ Juan de Fuca area of BC (Kennedy, SFU, 2015-2017); 7. Effets Biologiques Sous-letaux sur la Moule Bleue des Petroles Classique et Non Classiques Disperses Physiquement et Chimiquement en Milieu Marin Froid (St. Louis, 2015-2017); 8. The Toxicity of Molecular Effects of Mechanically and Chemically Dispersed Diluted Bitumen to Eastern Canadian Fish Species (Langlois, Queens University, 2015-2017); 9. Impacts of Crude Oil and Dispersants on Capelin Reproductive Performance (Purchase, Memorial University, 2016-2017).

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. I agree with Donald and Clark – especially because the source of the funding is available in a CBC article on the first page of Google Results: Research Nova Scotia, aka “Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust” (which probably also means CFI).
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/research-trust-ns-funding-dalhousie-1.4369827

    While I grant earthquake warning feels less urgent in NS than it should in BC, the west coast has already deployed extensive underwater sensors. See e.g. https://www.oceannetworks.ca/earthquake-early-warning

    I’m sure they can be helpful to oil and gas companies, but there is constant pressure to frame even pure research in terms of its economic benefit. I don’t like it, nor should you, but just because that benefit is mentioned doesn’t mean it is the driving power behind the research. Weather data, for example, is enormously useful to offshore oil rigs, and yet collecting it remains a public good.

    It should also be emphasized that the Corexit research was funded, just as the seismology research was, and the frustration was in accessing the material, not funds. So it’s a weird comparison to contrast the two.

  2. I am appreciative of your reporting and investigative work but your warping of a good news story about an offshore warning system as somehow all about promoting offshore drilling is wrong and disrespectful. One of Canada’s largest earthquakes occurred in Baffin Bay in 1933, we need to better understand what caused it, four people were killed in a tsunami on the west coast of Greenland last year, places like Norway have very sophisticated warning systems, and there is an urgent requirement for better public safety infrastructure for coastal communities in eastern Nunavut and other parts of Canada.

    1. I agree with Donald. Asking questions is fine, but cherry picking past funding sources as evidence of some nefarious scheme to promote arctic drilling is at best a stretch. Geologists study earthquakes and tsunamis for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with petroleum or exploration. I suspect that in addition to providing a warning system there are important research questions that will be addressed with a network like this. Earthquakes are a valuable source of information about what lies below the surface and how things got to be the way they are now.

  3. Police Commission meeting will see the first Indigenous person appointed to the board, 27 years after the Marshall report was issued. No doubt Mayor will Savage will rush downstairs for a few selfies with Anthony Thomas, Have the media been alerted ?