News

1. Cory Taylor decision

Cory Taylor is shown with injuries he claims were sustained after an altercation with the Halifax Regional Police. Photo: Wanda Taylor/ Canadian Press

Yesterday, Justice Gerald Moir issued a decision in Cory Taylor’s appeal of the Police Complaints Commissioner’s dismissal of his complaint that Halifax police “arrested him without cause, used unnecessary force to do so, and caused him serious injury.”

Taylor is Black. At the time of the August 2017 incident, Taylor was 18 years old and drinking on his brother’s ID at the Argyle Bar; he was with four other Black men and a white woman. After leaving the bar, a group of white men started hurling racial epithets at Taylor’s group, and a fight ensued. Police were called, but by the time they arrived the fight had broken up. Taylor alone was arrested, initially for assault. The white men, called “victims” in a police report, were allowed to leave, and the assault charge against Taylor morphed into a breach of the peace charge.

Moir gets into the complexities of the two charges, and finds them wanting a better explanation.

But two other issues stand out in the decision. The first is race. Writes Moir:

[74]        The uncontradicted evidence before the Police Complaints Commissioner was that an act of overt racism started the altercation that lead to Mr. Taylor’s arrest for assault and, later, to his detention for breach of the peace. That act is directly relevant to the assessment of the grounds for the arrest and of the justification for the detention. Our understanding of unconscious racism in encounters between police and young Black men shines light on the need for detailed information about the overt racism that caused the encounter in the first place.

[110]   In light of systemic racism, the apparent cause of the altercation demands far more information before the Police Complaints Commission could come to a conclusion that Mr. Taylor’s complaints had no merit so as to justify a hearing. And, the same with the apparent alternative to a night in jail, the ride home.

The second issue is that of how the Police Complaints Commission works. Taylor’s complaint was dismissed after an investigation by Fred Sanford, a former Halifax cop who now works as an investigator for Police Complaints Commission. Can a former Halifax cop investigate Halifax cops?

Sanford failed to interview any of the cops involved, or any of the witnesses to the fight, and yet still found that Taylor’s complaint was without merit. Still, while Justice Moir finds that Sanford’s investigation was not thorough enough to be fair to Taylor, Moir does not attribute that failed investigation to a lack of neutrality on Sanford’s part:

[134]   Mr. Taylor submits that the investigation was not neutral because “the investigator is police, through and through”. He was a member of the Halifax force for thirty years, and the Director of Police for the province for ten more years.

[135]   In my assessment ten years with the province is plenty of time for insulating Mr. Sanford from the Halifax police department. Ten years supervising police across the province does not found a charge of bias in favour of police.

[136]   Mr. Taylor is also more critical of Mr. Sanford’s work than am I. I have expressed my criticisms. They do not give rise to a finding of bias.

[137]   However, for the reasons expressed in my assessment of the record and in my treatment of the claim for judicial review, the investigation was not thorough.

In the end, Moir sent the complaint back to Police Complaints Commission to re-investigate.

2. Yarmouth ferry

The Alakai, docked at Yarmouth. Photo: Suzanne Rent

“Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines says he expects to have an update on the delay-plagued Yarmouth-to-Maine ferry service within the next week ⁠— a service that has cost Nova Scotians almost $20 million even without any sailings this season,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

Traditionally, the service stops operating in early October. This year, in what was supposed to be the first in a return to Bar Harbor after five years in Portland, there have been no sailings.

[Premier Stephen] McNeil pointed to the fact that room nights sold in the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores tourism region are down 30 per cent this year as evidence of how important the ferry is to the area. He said he understands why people would be frustrated.

“We’re frustrated by it.”

[Transportation Minister Lloyd ] Hines said there would be a full accounting and analysis of how much money went to the service and it would be made publicly available. He said he and the government continue to believe in the service and what it means for the tourism industry, particularly in southwest Nova Scotia.

John Wesley Chisholm takes a look at the numbers:

Tourism numbers in SW Nova Scotia in July were off by 29%. That’s about 2800 room nights. At about $125 per night that’s a loss of about $350k in gross business. Adding to that a 1.7 ‘spinoff’ multiplier that the government loves to use to inflate benefits and that’s about $600k gross including their taxes collected. Estimating a 10% profit margin on the portion of that gross business that stays in Nova Scotia, that’s a net loss to the economy of about $60k per month through the tourist season.

If tourist season runs 6 months and July is an average month, that would be a loss to the economy of SW Nova Scotia of about $360,000 per year.

So to sum up, here’s your “Economic Impact”: We’re paying $10-$20m per year, most of which goes directly out of the province, to earn a possible $360k per year net economic advantage to the SW region, but didn’t even make that.

Let’s give the government as much of an argument as possible here. Chisholm doesn’t include non-room rental expenditures of tourists, like buying made-in-China T-shirts and drinking at Rudder’s. So let’s say Chisholm is off by a factor of 10, and that the real economic impact of those missing ferry tourists would have been $3.6 million. Even there, we’re spending $20 million this year in a failed attempt to capture that $3.6 million.

I tell you, a helicopter drop would make more sense:

You think I’m kidding about the Yarmouth helicopter drop? Consider that Chase the Ace is considered an economic driver in this province.

Yesterday, Suzanne Rent made the point that dropping $20 bills from a helicopter would itself be a tourist attraction — “It would like one of those game show money booths! People LOVE those,” she says — and so generate even more business for the Yarmouth area hotels, bars, and coffeeshops. Let’s consider…

Suppose we hired a helicopter and pilot at a seasonal cost of a million dollars and sent the thing up above downtown Yarmouth each Saturday and Sunday for the 18 weeks of the summer season. The additional $14 million/year we’re already spending would translate into daily drops of $388,888, or 19,445 $20 bills, which is to say over an eight-hour period, 40 $20 bills per minute — call it one $20 bill every 1.5 seconds.

Granted, we’d need an extra person to actually toss the money out of the helicopter, but I bet we could get Pam Mood to do it gratis.

People would flock to Yarmouth to watch the spectacle. The running of the bulls in Pamplona would have nothing on the Yarmouth helicopter drop. Hotels would fill up, bars would do a brisk business, traffic would pile up on the 101 as Americans drive around.

We don’t need no stinking ferry.

3. Tidal redux

The SME turbine. Photo submitted

“Two tidal energy companies are joining forces to develop technology to harness the Bay of Fundy’s powerful tides,” reports Emma Davie for the CBC:

Sustainable Marine Energy and Minas Tidal LP will use a technology that includes turbines on a floating platform — instead of on the ocean floor — with the hope of eventually delivering nine megawatts of tidal energy to Nova Scotia’s electricity grid.

Sustainable Marine Energy and Minas Tidal LP have formed a joint-venture company, Spicer Marine Energy Inc., which will run the Pempa’q In-stream Tidal Energy Project, set to begin next year.

This comes more than a year after another joint venture at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) ran into financial trouble.

“Financial trouble” is one way to describe it. “Went bankrupt, leaving unpaid bills of millions of dollars to local firms, abandoning a turbine on the bottom of the ocean, and breaking an undersea power cable” is another way of describing it.

4. The P-P of Canada has rude supporters

Chad Hudson. Photo: Twitter

“A Nova Scotia man who pulled out of his candidacy for the People’s Party of Canada on Monday said he’s since been subjected to ‘abuse and hatred’ from the ‘far-right fringe,’” reports Yvette d’Entremont for Star Halifax:

“I’ve received an absolute deluge, a complete torrent of abuse and hatred and harassment from some very unhinged elements of the far-right fringe on Twitter,” Chad Hudson said in an interview Tuesday. “It certainly hasn’t been pleasant. It has definitely been very threatening, to be perfectly honest with you.”

Hudson announced Monday afternoon via Twitter that he was no longer standing as a candidate for the People’s Party in the riding of West Nova, citing the party’s “values and the choices its leadership have made.”

He provided a screenshot of a now-deleted tweet he perceives as a personal threat and one he planned to share with police. The Twitter user calls Hudson a scumbag and snake, noting “Next time I see Chad in town I’m going to stop him and have a little talk.”

5. Stadium transportation

“There is at least one thing missing from the proposed multi-use stadium in Shannon Park,” reports Alicia Draus for Global:

It … includes some details on how traffic will flow around the stadium itself — but not in the surrounding area.

“The challenge will be how to get people there, to and from other areas to the stadium,” said Ahsan Habib, an associate professor with Dalhousie’s School of Planning.

“That’s not part of the proposal, but at the same time that’s an important question we should be asking.”

Habib says as the infrastructure stands in its current state it is not prepared to accomodate high volumes of traffic at one time… 

Parking will also be limited. The proposal includes only 361 general parking spots with an additional 58 spots for VIP, though it estimates about 10,000 people will attend games by taking public transit.

Habib says that’s a fair assumption; that is what happens in most other cities. But for that to work, a transit system would need to be established in the area. Currently only route 51 services the area, and for many areas in HRM, buses will only get you as far as Highfield Terminal which is at least a 20 minute walk away from the site.

6. The two cardinal rules of financing a stadium

After I wrote yesterday’s item, “The Halifax stadium proposal: private profit for Anthony Leblanc, socialized risk for the public,” our smart commenters were sharing this video to illustrate the point:


Government

City

Wednesday

No public meetings.

Thursday

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — agenda here.

Province

Wednesday

Legislature sits (Wednesday, 1pm, Province House)

Thursday

Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Engineering cellular micro-environments through biomolecular confinement and directed assembly of biomaterials (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — John Frampton will talk.

Punished for Aging: Vulnerability, Rights, and Access to Justice in Canadian Penitentiaries (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Adelina Iftene will talk about her new book, which provides a look at the challenges that older people in Canadian prisons face and their struggles for justice while they’re living their “golden years” behind bars. Followed by a reading, discussion, and reception.

Thursday

Mechanical Control of Heart Rate (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 3H-01, 3rd Floor, Tupper Building) — Eilidh MacDonald will talk.

Gradients do grow on trees: a linear-time O(N)-dimensional gradient for statistical phylogenetics (Thursday, 3:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Marc Suchard from UCLA will talk. His abstract:

Calculation of the log-likelihood stands as the computational bottleneck for many statistical phylogenetic algorithms. Even worse is its gradient evaluation, often used to target regions of high probability. Order O(N)-dimensional gradient calculations based on the standard pruning algorithm require O(N2) operations where N is the number of sampled molecular sequences. With the advent of high-throughput sequencing, recent phylogenetic studies have analyzed hundreds to thousands of sequences, with an apparent trend towards even larger data sets as a result of advancing technology. Such large-scale analyses challenge phylogenetic reconstruction by requiring inference on larger sets of process parameters to model the increasing data heterogeneity. To make this tractable, we present a linear-time algorithm for O(N)-dimensional gradient evaluation and apply it to general continuous-time Markov processes of sequence substitution on a phylogenetic tree without a need to assume either stationarity or reversibility. We apply this approach to learn the branch-specific evolutionary rates of three pathogenic viruses: West Nile virus, Dengue virus and Lassa virus. Our proposed algorithm significantly improves inference efficiency with a 126- to 234-fold increase in maximum-likelihood optimization and a 16- to 33-fold computational performance increase in a Bayesian framework.

Bring your own Dengue fever.

OmiSoore Dryden. Photo: omisooredryden.com

The Importance of Black Canadian Studies in Medical Education (Thursday, 6pm, the Black Cultural Centre, Cherry Brook) — OmiSoore Dryden will talk. Free catered dinner, info here.

Debbie Martin. Photo: Nick Pearce.

What’s Needed to Sustain the Sustainable Development Goals? An Indigenous community-based research perspective (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Debbie Martin will talk. Her abstract:

The UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are top of mind in recent years, as many communities and nations attempt to identify how to address health and social inequities, stem the onslaught of climate change, all while trying to maintain and grow healthy economies. In this lecture, Dr. Martin challenges us to consider that these things are not mutually exclusive and that Indigenous community-based and community-led research offers a critical lens through which to not only identify the interconnections between each of these issues, but that addressing them requires the wisdom offered by our Indigenous Elders and Knowledge-Keepers.

Saint Mary’s

Wednesday

Time Talent Treasure – Women in Philanthropy (Wednesday, 5:30pm, Lounge, 4th Floor, in the building named after a grocery store) — a free panel discussion featuring some of the region’s most notable women. Registration and more info here.

Thursday

One World Alumni Awards Gala (Thursday, 6:30pm, Loyola 290 Conference Hall) — tickets $25/10, available here.

King’s

Thursday

Doyali Islam. Photo: Arden Wray

Doyali Islam (Thursday, 7:30pm, President’s Lodge) — acclaimed Toronto poet will read, followed by a reception.


In the harbour

06:00: Artemis, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
06:00: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of Boston
07:00: Fram, cruise ship with up to 318 passengers, arrives at Pier 24 from Louisbourg, on a nine-day cruise from St. John’s to New York
07:30: Adventure of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,058 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John, on a 10-day cruise from New York to Quebec City
07:30: Silver Wind, cruise ship with up to 355 passengers, arrives at Pier 34 from Bar Harbor, on a 10-day cruise from New York to Montreal
08:30: Norwegian Escape, cruise ship with up to 5,218 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
10:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
16:30: MSC Cristiana, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Valencia, Spain
16:30: Fram sails for Yarmouth
17:45: Silver Wind sails for Sydney
18:00: Adventure of the Seas sails for Charlottetown
18:00: Artemis sails for New York
18:00: Norwegian Escape sails for Bar Harbor
18:30: Serenade of the Seas sails for Bar Harbor
22:30: MSC Cristiana sails for sea


Footnotes

Short Morning File today because I’m off on a secret mission to Toronto. Don’t tell anyone.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Well Chad, this is the most obvious; “We told you so” moment one could ever imagine. But it’s also a moment of; “Better late than never”, and the classic; “Are you fucking serious”.