News

1. Inquiry

The Portapique sign on Highway 2 was adorned with a NS tartan sash following the mass shooting that began there on April 18, 2020. Photo: Joan Baxter

“Reports from the public inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting are due in 2022, and a third commissioner has been appointed to conduct the inquiry, the federal and provincial governments announced on Thursday,” reports Zane Woodford:

In a news release, the two levels of government announced Kim Stanton — a lawyer specializing in Indigenous and constitutional issues — would join former Nova Scotia Chief Justice Michael MacDonald and former Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch as the third commissioner.

Stanton replaces former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, who withdrew as a commissioner just days after the provincial and federal governments, facing mounting outrage, announced they would be holding a proper inquiry, not the widely-criticized “Independent Review Panel” first announced.

Click here to read “Reports from inquiry into Nova Scotia mass shooting due in 2022, third commissioner announced.”

Canada is a small country, and everyone seems to know everyone, so there are inevitably going to be “degrees of separation” issues related to potential conflicts of interest.

But what of Leanne Fitch? By all accounts she has done important work; as Stephen Kimber noted:

Leanne Fitch, the retired chief of the Fredericton police force, is equally impressive. A veteran of 34 years in the municipal policing business, including seven as chief, she served on a Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police committee that developed a national framework for dealing with intimate partner violence, and is currently involved with three research projects, also on intimate partner violence, at the University of New Brunswick.

But her bio (as posted on the Fredericton High School website in June) points out that she works with the RCMP:

Leanne Fitch was appointed to the position of Vice Chair of the RCMP Management Advisory Board for the Federal Government in June 2019 after retiring from more than 33 plus years in municipal policing.

With her resilience, compassion, professionalism, and experience Leanne is enjoying her new life chapter that includes her work with the RCMP…

So we have an inquiry panelist who currently works with the RCMP, whose job as a panelist is in part to investigate the RCMP’s previous interactions with the murderer and the RCMP’s actions during and after the mass murders.

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2. COVID-19

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Once again, zero new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Nova Scotia yesterday, and the number of known active cases of the disease in the province has dropped to just four, as one of the previous cases is now considered resolved.

But the Department of Health is worried about the situation in Campbellton, New Brunswick and so has issued a travel advisory:

New Brunswick announced today, Oct.22, further restrictions related to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Campbellton-Restigouche region of northern New Brunswick.

Restrictions in the Moncton area have been reduced as there are no new cases there.

While there are no changes to our border policy at this time, we recommend Nova Scotians avoid unnecessary travel to the Campbellton-Restigouche area.

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3. Rich golf dude gets provincial assistance; mom and pop hotels don’t

Ben Cowan-Dewar, owner of Cabot Links.

On Wednesday, I noted a $50 million loan assistance program announced by the province:

The Tourism Sector Financing Assistance Program will provide large operators access to lower-cost financing through a loan backstop. The $50 million program will assist the Nova Scotia tourism sector by providing eligible operators access to debt financing, such as lines of credit or term loans issued by a chartered bank or the Business Development Bank of Canada, at more favourable terms.

Eligible tourism businesses include resort, tour, and scenic and sightseeing transportation operators with at least 100 full-time and/or seasonal employees, annual revenue of at least $10 million and who have experienced revenue decline of at least 50 per cent for the period April 1 to July 30, 2020 compared to the same period last year.

There’s been much criticism of the plan ever since.

“A relief package targeting just the biggest players in Nova Scotia’s tourism industry has left other operators in ‘shock and disbelief’ as they grapple with mounting bills and stunning losses of revenue, said the president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

Darlene Grant Fiander said industry members are baffled by the government’s announcement Friday of up to $50 million in loan guarantees for companies with at least 100 employees and revenues of $10 million or more in 2019.

The government said 11 companies could be eligible, but with the exception of Halifax-based Ambassatours, has refused to say who else could benefit from the program.

Earlier this week, AllNovaScotia.com reported the relief package was similar to one advanced by a group of large tourism operators, which included Ambassatours and Ben Cowan-Dewar of the Cabot golf courses in Inverness.

According to emails obtained by AllNovaScotia.com, the group had Premier Stephen McNeil’s former chief of staff, Kristan Hines, advocate on their behalf in June. Hines is senior vice-president of public affairs for National Public Relations.

In case we needed any more proof that the provincial lobbyist registry is a perverse joke, while National Public Relations has six registered lobbyists, they do not include Kristan Hines, and National’s registered clients do not include Cabot.

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4. Another north Dartmouth homicide

A police release:

At 6:27 p.m. on the 22nd of October, Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of a Weapons calls with an injured adult male in the 0-50 block of Primrose Street, Dartmouth. Multiple officers responded to the scene and located an adult male with life threatening injuries. The area was blocked to traffic for a period of time.

Update: Shortly after 1:00 a.m., the victim, an adult male (25 yrs) passed away. The name of the victim is being withheld pending next of kin notification. The investigation is now a Homicide. There is no suspect(s) information at this time.

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5. Cruise ships

Veendam. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Were this a “normal” year, the height of the cruise ship season would just be wrapping up, September and October being the busiest months.

Who knows what the future will bring for the industry. Maybe people, especially old people, will be afraid to get into tightly packed quarters again. But there are reports of just the opposite — that there’s a backlog of eager wannabe cruisers lining up to buy the first round of tickets.

Whatever happens, there’s been a big impact to the local market. Holland American Lines (HAL) has sold five ships to a Greek company called Seajets. The sale includes the Maasdam and the Veendam, two of the workhouses of the Atlantic Canada cruise business. The Veendam in particular has been calling in Halifax about twice a week from the early summer into late October before heading to the Caribbean for the winter.

Seajets runs high-speed ferries in Greece and has never operated cruise ships. Its CEO, Marios Iliopoulos, isn’t saying what his intentions are with the ships, but it seems unlikely they’ll be returning to Halifax.

Iliopoulos is probably best known as the owner of the Brillante Virtuoso, a tanker that he said was attacked by Somali pirates in 2011. The supposed pirate attack is the subject of a fascinating 2017 article by Bloomberg reporters Kit Chellel and Matthew Campbell:

The events of July 6, 2011, set in motion a tangle of lawsuits and criminal investigations that are still nowhere near conclusion. Six years after it was abandoned, the Brillante Virtuoso is an epithet among shipping veterans, one that reveals their industry’s capacity for lawlessness, financial complexity, and violence. This account is based on court evidence, private and government records, and more than 60 interviews with people involved, almost all of whom asked not to be identified, citing the sensitivities of nine-figure litigation and, in some cases, concern for their own safety. Everyone at sea that night survived. But the danger was just getting started.

Stay around for a discussion of Maritime insurance and the brutal murder of a broker in Aden, Yemen.

Last year, the hijacking was unravelled by an English judge, who found Iliopoulos himself was involved in staging the pirate raid:

It is improbable that the armed men, the master, chief engineer and Mr. Vergos would have been involved in the conspiracy without the knowledge and approval of Mr. Iliopoulos. There is no reason why disaffected personnel from the Yemeni coast guard would be involved other than because of the promise of financial reward from the owner of the vessel.

The details of the pirate conspiracy are wonderfully complex. Seriously, if you have an hour to kill, read all the links in this item; they’re amazing.

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Government

No meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Bridging Religion and Black Nationalism: The Founding of St. Philips African Orthodox Church and the Universal Negro Improvement Association Hall in Whitney Pier, 1900-1930 (Friday, 3:30pm) — Claudine Bonner from Acadia University will talk. Contact this person for the link.


In the harbour

08:30: Taipei Trader, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
10:40: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
12:00: Atlantic Kestrel, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 27 for sea
15:30: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
15:30: Manon, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
18:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
18:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
20:00: Atlantic Sea sails for Liverpool, England
20:30: Manon sails for sea
21:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea


Footnotes

I stayed up and watched the debate last night, so another short Morning File for me, sorry.

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Tim Bousquet

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

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3 Comments

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  1. I like how you describe cruise ships as “workhouses”. Maybe it was deliberate, given the working conditions for many of the crew, maybe it was a Freudian slip, or maybe you really did mean “workhorses”. Works any way you choose, I guess!

  2. With this latest payment of public money to Cabot Links and Ben Cowan-Dewar the citizens of Nova Scotia should pretty much own that golf course now, yes?

    1. Enriching the people of Nova Scotia instead of MacNeil’s favourite captains of industry? Don’t be absurd.