News

1. Nash Brogan and Lyle Howe

Lyle Howe. Photo: http://howelawfirm.blogspot.ca

Stephen Kimber has been following the Lyle Howe saga for many years, but perhaps the most convincing demonstration that race played a major role in Howe’s disbarment is how another lawyer — this one an older, white Cape Breton lawyer named Nash Brogan — faced roughly similar allegations but has received a far less harsh response from the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.

Writes Kimber:

Brogan “readily” agreed to admit to all the charges and cooperate with the society to “fix” the problems in his practice — in exchange for a slap-on-the-wrist six-month suspension of his licence to practise law, after which, according to his lawyer, Brogan intends to resume his legal career.

Howe was found guilty of the same all-purpose charge of professional misconduct and incompetence, disbarred for at least five years and ordered to repay the society $150,000 for its troubles before he would even be allowed to apply for reinstatement (that last requirement was later dropped).

Click here to read “White lawyer Nash Brogan and Black lawyer Lyle Howe are each charged with professional misconduct, but the Barristers Society is treating Nash with kid gloves while throwing the book at Howe.”

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2. Kayla Borden

Kayla Borden. Photo: Matthew Byard

“The lawyer of a young Black woman has started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for her appeal at the Nova Scotia Police Review Board,” reports Matthew Byard:

In July 2020, Kayla Borden was driving home to Dartmouth after visiting a cousin in Dartmouth when she said she was pulled over, swarmed by six police officers, handcuffed, and placed under arrest before being released. Speaking with El Jones shortly following the incident, Borden said:

The lights [on the wagon] were not on, which I thought was weird, so I waited about 10 seconds, and then about 5-6 more cop cars came out of nowhere and swarmed me in the intersection from all directions.

Two white officers approached me. I couldn’t see if they had their guns out or not. They yelled, “Put your hands on the steering wheel.” I was so scared wondering what was going on. After I put my hands on the wheel, the same cop immediately started yelling at me to get out of the car.

I had my window rolled down, and he grabbed open my car door. He pulled me out of the car and told me “You’re under arrest.” They put me in handcuffs. I was asking, “For what?” He told me, “We will see in a minute.”

Borden said she was then told she had been driving without her lights on, to which she says she immediately disputed. She says one of the officers told her: “We were on a high speed chase with a white guy in a Toyota.” Borden was driving a Dodge Avenger.

After filing a complaint, an internal investigation in December 2020 found no wrongdoing on the part of the police. Borden has filed an appeal that is expected to be heard this December Nova Scotia Police Review Board.

Click here to read “Kayla Borden’s lawyer launches online fundraiser for her Police Review Board appeal.”

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3. COVID-19

Last night, the province announced that due to continued cases of COVID-19 connected to the school Dartmouth South Academy will be closed all of this week, and Public Health’s mobile testing van will be at the school from 10am-5:30pm today, and at some as yet to be determined time(s) later this week.

Total weekly number of new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia since the beginning of the pandemic. Graph: Tim Bousquet

There were a few potential COVID exposure notices over the weekend, but my sense is they’re declining in frequency and the fourth wave appears to have peaked in Nova Scotia.

On Fridays, I write a weekly synopsis of the pandemic in the province, and the takeaways from last week are that a) Nova Scotia is doing exceptionally well on the vaccination front; b) fully vaccinated people are being infected at a much lower frequency than are unvaccinated people and are hospitalized at an extraordinary lower rate; and c) young people under 12 who cannot be vaccinated are heavily represented in the current outbreak, approaching half of all new cases.

Public Health rightly underscores that continued adherence to the wide range of COVID-avoidance strategies — mask wearing, distancing when indoors, hand-washing, etc. — will limit the spread of the virus, but it’s hard not to focus on the effect of broad vaccination. Once children can be vaccinated — approval is expected sometime over the next few weeks — we will be facing a much different pandemic landscape.

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4. The Vaccine Con urban legend

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

A few days after 911, I heard a reporter describe how anti-Arab sentiments were resulting in a false story being told — that Arabs were gathering on the New Jersey waterfront to watch and celebrate the still-smouldering remains of the Twin Towers.

The reporter went on to say that this had morphed into an equally untrue story that a delivery driver had walked into a 7-11 on 911 and the Arab owners were watching a TV in the back room and celebrating the attacks.

To be clear: this is an ugly lie, without an ounce of truth to it.

A couple of days after hearing the reporter talk, I was drinking at my local tavern in California and someone I knew quite well and considered a friend told me that he personally had stopped by the 7-11 in our town on 911 and the Arab owners were watching TV in the back room and celebrating the attacks.

In 2015, Donald Trump repeated the outrageous lie about celebrating Arabs in New Jersey while on the campaign trail.

I never thought the same of my former friend, and ever since I’ve been thinking about how urban legends start and spread.

Most urban legends often reflect social anxieties, and most are completely harmless. The dead scuba diver in a tree was particularly popular in fire-prone California (and I’m guessing it’s having another round now). New York’s sewer alligators seem to date back to the Depression, when people were worrying about all sorts of things, and might be a re-telling of story from the 185os about wild hogs in the sewers of London, England.

Other urban legends can lead to harm. The Satanic Panic of of the 1980s and 90s arose when large numbers of women were entering the workforce and placing their children in day care, where they were supposedly sexually abused and even killed by Satan-worshiping day care workers. Many completely innocent people were imprisoned for crimes that never even occurred, much less that they were guilty of — and some people are still in prison, 30+ years later.

Many urban legends fall somewhere between the harmless and tragic. I don’t know that it has physically harmed a child, but the needle-in-the-Halloween-candy panic has deprived entire generations of children of the pleasure of trick-or-treating and taught them to unreasonably distrust strangers.

Which brings me to the latest urban legend now spreading across Nova Scotia, which I’m calling the Vaccine Con. I’ve heard it from several people, and it goes like this: A man is charging people to get vaccinated for them — they give him their email address and health card, he makes a vaccination appointment, shows up at the pharmacy with the health card and gets the shot, and the confirmation email is sent to the payer. I’ve heard this a couple of different ways; sometimes the man is an entrepreneur who seeks out the antivaxxers to sell them his services, but other times a group of vaccine-hesitant seek out the man (a homeless man, in one telling) and make the initial offer. In one telling, the dollar amount was $100, in another $500. Either way, supposedly, this one man has been vaccinated dozens of times.

Like other urban legends, the Vaccine Con comes at a moment of social anxiety. People are anxious about the proof of vaccination requirement, and more particularly as they notice that getting vaccinated and the resulting proof of vaccination is tied only to an email address and health card, and not to a photo ID. So the story is theoretically possible.

But it’s highly unlikely, for several reasons. First is the obvious: come on, someone is getting vaccinated 40-something times (or whatever)? There have been a handful of cases where distracted or tired health care workers have accidentally given people a single shot with too much vaccine, and some of those people were hospitalized. I haven’t been able to find any news articles about people getting dozens of shots, but were it to happen, I can’t imagine the results would be pretty.

But if a person did get dozens of shots of the vaccine and there were no ill effects, wouldn’t that in itself disprove the antivaxxers’ claims that the vaccine is dangerous? So why would they continue to pay someone to get a harmless shot in their stead?

There are other problems with the Vaccine Con legend. Why does the location of the Vaccine Con switch from bars to construction sites to online, and why does the dollar amount keep shifting? Maybe there are lots of these guys at different sites getting paid different amounts to get shots for other people, but if so, why isn’t there a woman catering to female antivaxxers?

And there’s something about the “dude who doesn’t mind getting dozens of shots” and/or “homeless guy getting taken advantage of” angle of the Vaccine Con that speaks more to other social anxieties than to, well, truth.

But, as I say, anything’s possible. If someone can give me some definitive proof of this that isn’t a long chain of telephone, I’m all ears. If not, I’m not worrying about it.

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5. Maritime Link

A map showing the various transmission components that connect Muskrat Falls to Nova Scotia. Graphic: Emera Credit: Emera

Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link, Inc. (NSPML) is the Emera subsidiary that built and will operated the subsea cable that connects the island of Newfoundland to Cape Breton Island. That Maritime Link will be the conduit for power generated at the Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador to be delivered to Nova Scotia. Nalcor is the company hired to build Muskrat Falls and the rest of the transmission system.

As I reported last week, the Muskrat Falls project is behind schedule due in large part to software glitches along the Labrador Island Link, which connects Labrador and Newfoundland.

On Friday, NSPML submitted its quarterly report to Nova Scotia’s Utility and Review Board, detailing the range of delays:

Muskrat Falls Assets

Units 1-3 have been handed over to the Operations team. Generally, two of the three units have been active and contributing to power flows since being turned over to operations while Nalcor and their contractors complete punch list and identified corrective work to the offline unit. Recently, Unit 2 was taken offline due to some identified vibrations; however, the vendor has cleared it to resume operations following some corrective work.

The fourth and final unit (Unit 4) is currently set for release to Operations by early November 2021with plans for first power in the coming weeks.

Labrador Island Link 

The interim software was released from trial-operations in the spring after demonstrating stable operations at lower power levels of below 225MW.

GE started Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) of the final software on September 13, 2021. The results indicated that GE’s software contained bugs requiring resolution, which GE is currently working to resolve. Regression testing and a further round of FAT will then be required before the software can be accepted. GE is working to complete the second FAT in November 2021. Nalcor now anticipates dynamic commissioning in early December and will further update the schedule upon receipt of GE’s revised timing.

Nalcor has successfully replaced all of the faulty valve hall beams that had caused flash-over issues the prior year, representing a positive resolution to a significant issue.

Nalcor has completed transmission line repair and hardening work identified during heavy winter conditions last year in Labrador. Subsequently GE has successfully completed their HVDC line fault testing program.

The Labrador Island Link capacity has recently been increased to 315MW with plans and implementation ongoing amongst system operators to achieve the next level of approximately 400MW. The increase to 315MW allowed for calibration work to be completed and is another positive step towards completion.

On August 15, 2021, Nalcor’s contractual commitment to deliver the NS Block formally commenced pursuant to an Acceleration Agreement secured by NSPML.

NSPML and Nalcor meet routinely to discuss completion schedules and coordinate the initiation of energy transfers across the Labrador Island Link and Maritime Link as generation is commissioned.

You can read the full quarterly report here.

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Views

1. South Shore

Stephen Archibald went to the South Shore and got me distracted with this observation in Shelburne:

On my morning ramble these two buildings seemed to be not on speaking terms.

Shelburne. Photo: Stephen Archibald

But I also found this part interesting:

Nearby we visited a real story of mystery and discovery, the ongoing archaeological investigation of Fort Saint Louis, a 17th century French outpost. Dr. Katie Cottreau-Robins, from the NS Museum, has led this research over a couple of years. An unexpected revelation has been artifacts that suggest those pesky Basque fishermen might have also used the site. Nova Scotia should be thinking about future cultural exchanges with the Basque (e.g. feed me all that Basque cuisine).

I want to know more about the Basques and their trips to North America. I probably have this wrong, but as I recall it, when John Cabot sailed into St. John’s Harbour to “discover” it for Europeans, the place was already full of Basque fishermen. (Of course, the Beothuk likely had different ideas about who discovered the place.)

The Basque show up in unlikely (to me) places in my own journey across the continent, like as sheep herders in the Sierra. How’d that happen?

I get the sense that the Basque didn’t have their own army or empire, and weren’t so into the Spanish enterprise, so they’ve been more or less written out of history.

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Government

City

Monday

Police Commission (12:30pm, virtual meeting) — the East Coast Prison Justice Society wants the commission to “prepare a draft of a mandate and terms of reference for an independent civilian review of the oversight, governance, and policy aspects of the HRP’s handling of the protests on August 18, 2021.”

Tuesday

Regional Council (1pm, virtual meeting) — among other items, council will be discussing the Port Wallace development and will direct staff to:

Continue to work with Nova Scotia Lands Inc., Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change and Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry, to better understand the risks and potential management strategies associated with the risk assessment and closure plan for the former Montague Gold Mine Site and future development in the Port Wallace Secondary Planning Study Area and report back to Council.

Province

Monday

Law amendments (5pm, Province House) — the following bills will be considered:
Bill No. 1 – Elections Act
Bill No. 4 – Public Archives Act
Bill No. 11 – Protecting Access to Health Services Act
Bill No. 13 – Police Act

Tuesday

Legislature sits (1-6pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

COVID-19 Pandemic: Observations and Informed Speculation from a Social Medicine Point of View (12:30pm, online) — Joel W. Adelson, a professor of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University’s School of Medicine, will speak; his abstract:

The COVID-19 Pandemic continues worldwide. Final global outcomes are unclear and are readily seen as a great human tragedy. Nova Scotia’s handling of the pandemic at the provincial level has been excellent; outcomes are far better than in the US. Treatment regimens have improved greatly over the past 18 months. “Long COVID” is an unpredicted syndrome of unknown cause to date, with continuing and varied symptoms which appears to have an unpredictable episodic occurrence, and may follow either asymptomatic, mild, or severe initial disease. Major successful innovations in mRNA-type vaccine development, production and distribution have been achieved. The Social Determinants of Health have had a dramatic effect on the incidence and prevalence of COVID-19, resulting in wide disparities in outcomes in select population groups. Aspects of information availability, accuracy, social media influences, vaccine hesitancy, vaccine refusal and rejection, “group think,” and direct political manipulation have all continued to directly interfere with a rapid pathway towards potential control and resolution of the pandemic. The pandemic has continued to evade control, and threatens to become, at best, an influenza-like endemic disease with a cyclic occurrence in exposed populations, with the continuing global threat of variants of increasing infectivity and/or pathogenicity.

Tuesday

Clothing swap (noon-6pm) — at the SUB

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Metamorphic microdiamonds (1pm, Science 408) — Jana Kotková, from the Czech Geological Survey and Masaryk University, will postulate that “Features of gem-quality octahedral metamorphic diamond forms rarely found in Central Europe provide
important insights into nucleation and growth mechanisms of microdiamonds worldwide.”

Bring your own microdiamond.


In the harbour

Halifax
04:30: CMA CGM Chile, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
05:45: Siem Aristotle, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden. Germany
06:00: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Willemstad, Curaçao
06:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Saint Croix, Virgin Islands
12:30: Maria S. Merian, research/survey vessel, moves from Irving Oil to Dartmouth Cove
15:30: Siem Aristotle sails for sea
16:30: Maria S. Merian sails for sea
22:00: Augusta Luna sails for Bilboa, Spain
23:00: Tropic Hope sails for Georgetown, Guyana

Cape Breton
07:30: Horizon Enabler, offshore supply ship, sails from Mulgrave north through the causeway
09:30: NS Laguna, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
10:30: NS Champion, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from Es Sider, Libya


Footnotes

Thinking about starting The Oak Island Times.


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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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  1. Te Basques in North America:
    There is a fair amount of evidence that Basque sailors were in North America, specifically Newfoundland and likely elsewhere well before The voyage of Columbus and certainly before Giovanni Caboto (aka John Cabot). The archaeology is less abundant as their shore settlements tended to be seasonal encampments leaving fewer traces of long-term structures. I have always felt that Columbus wasn’t trying to discover North America (which he actually didn’t as he ended up on an island in the Caribbean) as go underneath when the assumed was a larger northern landmass known to the Basques and the Portuguese.
    It wasn’t that long ago when the “establishment” had branded the Ingstads who discovered the site as charlatans. There has been furrher archaeological research done on several sites including one site near Port au Basques that seems to indicate at least seasonal European usage well before Cabot or Columbus.

  2. It is surprising how much better the vaccine is working in Nova Scotia than in other places. Jurisdiction to jurisdiction comparisons are fraught, but a 50x reduction in hospitalization is more than ten times better than the UK data suggests.

    1. Part of that difference might be differing timelines in terms of when people were fully vaxxed, different shots being administered, differing population demographics, and differing reopening strategies. That said, only time will tell if we continue to do so much better than the UK. Closer to home, NS is doing better during this wave than NB; however, we did much worse during the first wave. I think we need to be very careful when drawing comparisons, but I admit that I do tend to compare Dartmouth to other cities when I can – and it always seems to wim. 🙂

  3. The agenda for the Board of Police Commissioners is normally posted close to noon on the Friday before the meeting (the same time that agendas for all meetings for the next week of council and committees are posted online). The agenda for the BOPC was not posted until 4:15 pm on Friday – too late for local TV stations to prepare any response to the agenda. Francis Campbell had an excellent report in the Herald on Saturday and then the item appeared in the Herald on Sunday under the byline of Nicole Munro.