News

1. Mark Norman

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. Photo: Canadian Navy

“Prosecutors are expected to withdraw a criminal charge against Vice-Adm. Mark Norman, providing a major victory for the senior naval officer who has always maintained his innocence in advocating for the government to build a naval supply ship,” reports David Pugliese for the National Post:

The announcement, expected Wednesday morning according to sources with knowledge of the matter, will end the government’s two-year legal battle against the officer and heads off what would have been a politically explosive trial for the Liberal government in the middle of a federal election campaign.

Pugliese has been the lead reporter on all things Norman, and his latest report has been independently verified by the CBC and other media.

So what happens now? Norman goes back to work and we all pretend nothing happened?

From the start, the problem was that the charges against Norman were wrapped up in political considerations, and now the dropping of charges will be viewed that way too. Although of course the charges came at immense personal, career, and monetary costs to Norman, for everybody else it’s more than a little unsettling that we won’t have the resolution that a trial will bring.

I want to know about Scott Brison’s involvement in this affair. I want to know what Andrew Leslie was going to testify about.

2. Cyclist struck

A police release from yesterday:

Police are investigating a cyclist/motor vehicle collision that occurred on Windmill Road in Dartmouth earlier this morning.

At approximately 10:40 a.m. police responded to a report of a cyclist/motor vehicle collision near the intersection of Windmill Road and Geary Street in Dartmouth. A Halifax Water Commission truck driven by a 59-year-old Halifax man struck a female cyclist who was traveling South bound on the west sidewalk Windmill Road. The cyclist, a 64-year-old Dartmouth woman was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

This is right before Windmill Road becomes Alderney Drive on the approach to downtown Dartmouth.

The city of Boston requires side guards on all its trucks, and now Halifax is following suit.

We don’t yet know the particulars of this incident, but it raises concerns about the lack of side guards on trucks. I’m just going to repeat what I wrote almost exactly a year ago:

On Monday, November 17, 2008, 27-year-old Jaclyn Hennessey left the Tim Horton’s on Barrington Street (now a Starbucks) and was walking quickly southward, across Sackville Street, trying to beat the changing light. Just then, a dump truck driver was turning right from Barrington Street onto Sackville Street, apparently also trying to beat the light. Hennessey was pulled beneath the wheels of the truck, and crushed to death.

On Wednesday, May 21, 2014, Johanna Dean, 30 years old, was riding her bicycle north on Windmill Road in Dartmouth. Just as she was crossing the intersection of Albro Lake Road, a truck driver driving the same direction made a right hand turn onto Albro Lake Road. Dean was knocked off her bike and pulled under the wheels of the truck, and crushed to death.

These are the two local incidents most clearly identified as “right hook” deaths — when trucks turn into pedestrians or cyclists — but there have been others.

Side guards will be required of all city trucks, starting next year.

3. Rugby

The Department of Education and the Nova Scotia School Sport Athletic Federation issued the following joint press release yesterday:

At today’s meeting between the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Nova Scotia School Sport Athletic Federation (NSSAF) we worked together on a plan for student-athletes to keep playing rugby safely.

Rugby Nova Scotia has agreed to manage the rest of this rugby season, including regionals and provincials, with the support of NSSAF.

Over the summer, NSSAF will work with government, Rugby Nova Scotia, medical experts and others on safety in sports. NSSAF and the department will also work together to review the memorandum of agreement over the summer on how it can work best for student-athletes and everyone else involved.

It’s good to see cooler heads prevail, at least for the moment. Hopefully this will lead to a broader discussion of risks vs benefits.

High school rugby is played throughout Canada and the United States, so it seemed quite odd that Nova Scotia would be the first jurisdiction in North America to cancel rugby because of insurance concerns.

Everything in life, including sport, involves risk. But there are also benefits from encouraging an active lifestyle, and by all accounts rugby provides an avenue to that active lifestyle for a lot a young people who for whatever reason haven’t been able to fit in to other sports.

4. Growing city bureaucracy

Photo: Halifax Examiner

This morning, the city published a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a head-hunting firm to recruit and hire someone for a newly created position, the Executive Director of Corporate Support Services. Explains the RFP:

As part of the Halifax Regional Municipality’s continued evolution and commitment to operational effectiveness and streamlined decision-making, the position of Executive Director of Corporate Support Services has been established to oversee the municipality’s corporate resources including finance/ICT, legal, human resources, diversity and inclusion, corporate and customer services and the public safety office.

The Executive Director will report to the CAO and will serve as a collaborator and enabler to proactively position the City to deliver on the mission and vision set by Council.

I don’t know the first thing about bureaucratic management, but those seem like very disparate fields; isn’t this actually a deputy city manager?

The RFP doesn’t establish a salary for the position (that’s up to the head-hunting firm), but we know the salaries of the managers the new executive director will oversee. For example, last year Finance Director Gerry Blackwood was paid about $150,000 (for a partial year in the position); Legal Services Director John Traves was paid $223,750; and Catherine Mullally, the Chief HR Officer, was paid $188,026. So figure the new Executive Director will make somewhere in the ballpark of $300-350K.

Who knows, maybe the position will provide some useful service. But isn’t it interesting that we have the money to create an entirely new position with a six-figure salary, but we don’t have the money to pay janitors a living wage?

5. Phones

How an Earthquake Early Warning System works. Graphic: Ocean Networks

Our phones are going to squawk at us at 1:55pm today.

This is one of those things that can save lives. A huge problem in the Paradise fire was that emergency alerts weren’t sent to all residents (a different problem is that many elderly residents didn’t have cell phones in any event).

So yes, emergency alerts. A raging wildfire heading towards a mountain town, an approaching tsunami, earthquake waves radiating towards the city: send the alert, no question. (An earthquake warning notice in BC and the American northwest could save millions of lives.)

But I fear mission creep. First the system is activated for the coming wildfire, and no one objects. Then it’s for amber alerts 500 kilometres away from the missing child and people who raise an eyebrow are vilified on social media. So then before we know it we’re getting phone alerts for shoplifters at the Kwik-E-Mart and PR messages from the Justice Minister; soon enough, no one pays attention to the damn squawking phone anymore and when a real emergency happens everyone misses the alert.

6. Timberleaf

I have previously reported on the pre-legalization raid of the Timberleaf Alternative Healing Society, a cannabis dispensary, noting that for the cops it was “like shooting fish in a barrel.”

These dispensaries are nothing if not tenacious.

After the September raid, and a couple of days before legalization, a notice on the Timberleaf Facebook page read:

We just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has supported Timberleaf and has come in to the store daily. We appreciate each and everyone of you!

We want to inform you, as of today, we are MEDICAL ONLY! — when you arrive you will be asked to show proof of your prescription in order to make a purchase.

To those who are recreational users, we are extremely sorry and we will miss you!

— the staff at Timberleaf

But the po-po were having none of that, and Monday raided the store again, issuing a rather pointed (even for cops) press release:

Timberlea, NS – May 6th, 2019 at 9am – Royal Canadian Mounted Police from Halifax District executed a search warrant at an illegal cannabis storefront located at 1920 St. Margarets Bay Road in Timberlea, Nova Scotia. Operating under the name, “Timberleaf Alternative Medical Society”, and using a marketing ploy that is intended to appeal to the public under the false statement that they only sell to people with medical prescriptions. That is simply a lie and they will sell to anybody.

The only legal seller of cannabis in Nova Scotia is Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) or a Health Canada approved online distributor.

Over $60,000 in Cannabis and cannabis related products were seized, some of which were marketed toward children. ‘Lego’ shaped blocks of very high potency THC, in excess of 500mg was offered for sale and this could be a fatal dose for a child. (See attached photo). Two adult males have been charged under the Cannabis Control Act and other are expected to be charged.

This particular illegal storefront made almost one million dollars since January 1st and spent only fifty thousand dollars in expenses — all without paying any tax. This was a ‘cash only’ business. A small number of people are making extreme profit and operating under the radar of Canada Revenue Service. Most of these profits leave Nova Scotia and don’t support our local economy.

They often use promotional tactics that they are helping persons with prescriptions, selling cannabis at a lower cost than governments stores and better quality goods. None of these products are subjected to any quality control and many of the cannabis related products are made in dangerous processes, that involve harmful, toxic and volatile solvents. These products are often made in private homes under unsanitary conditions. For example, a store front operation in Lower Sackville that was shut down by police two weeks ago was filling gel capsules with a cannabis derivative by hand in a room that was infested with rat faeces.

Many persons’ object to government regulation and taxation involving cannabis sales; however, the taxation is necessary to fund the vital services everybody in the community uses and take advantage of every day, such as public programs that help all of us with respect to the effects of addictions and medical services, schools and roads.

If you buy cannabis from illegal sellers you are breaking the law, you are supporting organised crime and you are placing your health at risk.

Legitimate business persons who lease properties to illegal cannabis vendors are aiding in the commission of these offences and just as liable for prosecution as the operators. They are subject to the same fines that can range from $10,000-$25,000 for every day of operation. In addition, insurance companies will not cover these properties if used for illegal crimes, such as selling cannabis. Many of these properties also contain apartments and in those cases, the occupants and neighbours are at risk of fire bombings, robberies and the many crimes that often go along with illegal cannabis sales.

The claims made in the press release have not been tested in court. I’m particularly wary of the financial figures and valuations of product that police claim in such releases. That said, without the hyperbole, I think the release gets at legitimate concerns, especially with regard to health regulations; we wouldn’t want restaurants or commercial food operations without health inspections, and cannabis bakeries and the like should likewise be regulated. (Yes, I realize the regulatory regime makes such common sense regulation impossible.)

The “Timberleaf Alternative Medical Society” is not registered with the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stocks, but a “Timberleaf Enterprises Ltd.” is registered; Timberleaf has two directors — Leah M. Pan and Shao Bin Pan — who use a West Vancouver house as their mailing address, and a local Recognized Agent, Aubrey Fraser, who uses a St. Margaret’s Bay Road address (although not the Timberleaf storefront address).

Oh here’s the picture the cops provided of the Lego thing:


Government

City

Wednesday

Community Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — I keep thinking about the thousands of person-hours being completely wasted on the Centre Plan.

Thursday

Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — I’m still thinking about the thousands of person-hours being completely wasted on the Centre Plan.

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Thursday, 5pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — the committee will look at floodplain mapping for areas surrounding the Sackville and Little Sackville Rivers.

Province

No public meetings for the rest of the week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Chris Fetter will talk about “Exploring Catalysis in the Mandelate Racemase Subgroup of the Enolase Superfamily: Subtle Differences in the Catalytic Machinery,” followed by Tyler MacDonald talking about “Prolactin-inducible Pro-survival Genes in Breast Cancer.”

Thursday

Neurodegenerative eye and brain diseases: Where do we go from here? (Thursday, 8:30am, Bethune Ballroom, Bethune Building, VG Site) — Alon Friedman will speak; he is the founder and CEO of Emagix, a biomedical company.


In the harbour

Wednesday
10:30: Delhi Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Davisville, Rhode Island
11:30: Artemis, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
13:00: Hoegh Chiba, car carrier, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
17:00: Delhi Highwaysails for sea
22:30: Cuauhtemoc, Mexican Navy tall ship, sails from Pier 24 for the Liberty Tall Ships Regatta 2019, a Tall Ships race from Rouen, France, to The Hague, The Netherlands

Thursday
04:00: Augusta Unity, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Pepillo Salcedo, Dominican Republic
07:00: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a nine-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
13:00: Hoegh Chiba, car carrier, sails for sea
15:30: Zaandam sails for Bar Harbor


Footnotes

I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.


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  1. And why can’t you people just get it through your heads? There is only one drug dealer in town now.
    And the police work for them.

  2. We don’t know the details of the accident at Windmill and Geary and therefore the cycling advocates should refrain from assuming sideguards would have had any effect upon the injuries suffered by the cyclist.

    The new hire at city hall will be paid less than the CAO and will be significantly less than $300K. Is the new position deasigned to attract a person who will become CAO when Dube leaves ?

    1. I believe Jacques Dube is getting paid much less than $350,000. That type of salary is reserved for grifters like Richard Butts.

  3. When the last Emergency Alert test occurred (late 2018) everyone’s phone went off — except mine. I let my carrier Koodo know, and they said my phone was an older model and wasn’t equipped to receive alerts. They then tried to sell me a new phone.

    I’ll go with the herd immunity philosophy on this one: if people are running in the streets screaming I’ll infer that something’s amiss.

    1. Koodo is also my carrier and I didn’t get the alert the last time either. However, this time I did get a text from Koodo reminding me of the upcoming alert. Waiting to see if I get the alert today.

      1. The time has come and gone; no heads-up text for me, and no alarm (no surprise). One phone in the office went off three times, each time two minutes apart.