News

1. COVID-19

Four new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Nova Scotia yesterday.

One is in Nova Scotia Health’s Eastern Zone and is connected to travel outside Atlantic Canada. The other three are in the Central Zone — one is a close contact of a previously reported case, one is still under investigation, and the third is connected to Tallahassee Community School in Eastern Passage. The school will be closed to students until Wednesday, for contact tracing, testing, and deep cleaning.

There are now 64 known active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital with the disease.

Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 1,788 tests on Wednesday.

Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

And here is the active caseload for the second wave:

Below is the possible exposure map; I’ve removed three sites this morning as the advisories have expired, but an additional flight was added — Air Canada flight 614 travelling on Dec. 5 from Toronto (2:25pm) to Halifax (5:15pm); people in rows 22 to 28, seats DEF, should book a test, while everyone else who was on the plane should monitor for symptoms.

In all, it looks like the recent outbreak of COVID-19 is under control, and [knock wood] we may soon return to zero or near-zero cases.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang have scheduled a COVID briefing for noon today.

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2. RCMP repeatedly recklessly endangers civilians

Memorial at the Portapique church hall. Photo: Joan Baxter

On April 18 and 19, 22 people were murdered in Nova Scotia.

Long before the murders, the killer was known by neighbours as an abuser; one of those neighbours even warned the RCMP about him, and was so threatened by the man that she moved away from Nova Scotia completely. That neighbour also told the RCMP that he had illegal weapons. The murderer had even been flagged by the RCMP as a possible threat to police themselves, and yet no obvious meaningful action was taken to intervene in the man’s criminal trajectory.

Setting that history aside, it is perhaps understandable that while others probably should have known about the killer’s murderous intent, the RCMP could not have predicted the sudden explosion of violence in Portapique on the night of April 18. It must have been horrifying to come upon the tiny hamlet and find the path of destruction, with 13 dead.

But then, even though the RCMP knew that the killer had escaped Portapique driving a replica RCMP cruiser and was heavily armed, they did nothing to warn the public. Nine more people were killed. At least five of those killed — Lillian Hyslop, Heather O’Brien, Kristen Beaton, Joey Webber, and Gina Goulet — might still be alive today had the RCMP activated the provincial emergency alert system. (We don’t yet have a firm enough understanding of the timeline to know if the three people killed on Hunter Road — Alanna Jenkins, Sean McLeod, and Tom Bagley — could have been warned that the killer was on the loose, or if poor internal RCMP communications may have contributed to the events leading to Cst. Heidi Stevenson’s murder.)

There’s never been a proper, believable, or excusable explanation for why the public wasn’t warned about the killer. At this point, the best explanation is that the RCMP operated with a complete indifference to the danger the killer presented to the public.

So, yes, we’re more than a little testy about potential danger to the public when it comes to RCMP operations.

Which leads us to the substantial RCMP raids across the Halifax Regional Municipality on Wednesday and Thursday.

As Philip Moscovitch pointed out yesterday:

[On Wednesday,] my social media feeds filled with images one person described as “from a John Wick movie”: unmarked vehicles jumping curbs, and tearing under underpasses, heavily armed cops in residential areas, reports of multiple operations in different parts of the city.

Many of these raids happened in areas normally patrolled by the Halifax Regional Police Department, and so as people saw police operations happening, they naturally asked the HRPD what was going on. In fact, it was Halifax police who were the first to officially acknowledge the RCMP operation, in a statement issued Wednesday at 5:34pm:

We have received calls from citizens and media about police presence in a number of communities in our jurisdiction. We’d like to confirm that this deployment is not an HRP operation. Please direct all inquiries to the RCMP at 902-830-5695.

Later in the evening Wednesday, the RCMP issued, yes, a tweet about the operation:

RCMPNS has an ongoing investigation at a number of different sites throughout the HRM. More information will be released when available. There is no risk to public safety.

— RCMP Nova Scotia (@RCMPNS) December 9, 2020

“There is no risk to public safety.” I’ll return to that stat.

The RCMP didn’t bother to release an actual statement to the public until Thursday at 1:38pm:

Yesterday, the Nova Scotia RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime Section searched 13 sites across the Halifax Regional Municipality as part of a long term, ongoing investigation into organized crime and drugs in Nova Scotia. The searches will continue today.

A number of people were arrested and are in custody. No charges have been laid at this time. As a result of the searches, what is believed to be cocaine and other drugs were seized, as well as firearms.

The investigation is ongoing.

We have no idea about the specifics of the alleged crimes, although of course reporters are working to get into the details.

But one thing we do know is that in executing these raids, despite the statement that “there is no risk to public safety,” the RCMP in fact demonstrated a callous disregard for the safety of the public.

You can watch the videos yourself. Car chases were happening in rush hour traffic, and pedestrians were jumping out of the way:

My view of todays action at Bicentennial Dr and Joseph Howe. Didn’t think Nova had people to chase like this… clearly I was wrong 😅 pic.twitter.com/GeBWvwaa2x

— Alexandra Tung (@AlexandraPye1) December 9, 2020

https://twitter.com/indoblue82/status/1336804035433799680?s=20

CTV interviewed a pedestrian who said the speeding cars came within a metre of him.

Are police car chases inherently dangerous? You bet they are. As USA TODAY reported in 2015:

More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in police car chases since 1979, and tens of thousands more were injured as officers repeatedly pursued drivers at high speeds and in hazardous conditions, often for minor infractions, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The bystanders and the passengers in chased cars account for nearly half of all people killed in police pursuits from 1979 through 2013, USA TODAY found. Most bystanders were killed in their own cars by a fleeing driver.

This isn’t just an American phenomenon. It happens all too often right here in Nova Scotia.

The most high-profile death involving a police chase in Nova Scotia was in 2004, when Theresa McEvoy, a teacher’s aid and mother of three, was killed when the car she was driving was broadsided by a car stolen by Archibald Billard, a young offender being chased from Lower Sackville to Connaught Avenue* by the Halifax Regional Police.

In this Daily News photo from 1998, a firefighter stands next to the crashed vehicles in which Janet Myers died. Photo: Ted Pritchard / The Daily News

But there have been others. In 1998, 43-year-old Janet Myers, a dance instructor at the Dartmouth Dance Academy, was killed because another young person who had stolen a van was being chased by Halifax police.

“The chase started at about 4:30pm when a patrol officer in a marked police car tried to pull over a green minivan near the corner of Jackson Road and Pinehill Drive, said Halifax regional police Const. Gary Martin,” reported Chris Lambie the following morning in the Daily News.

The van “took off as soon as the officer put on his flashing lights,” wrote Lambie. “After a half-kilometre chase, the van crashed into a red Saturn sedan travelling along Woodland Avenue, flipping it on to its side and killing the driver — a Dartmouth woman in her early 40s.”

And in 1993, Truro police chased a stolen car being driven by a 17-year-old boy; the driver lost control and slammed into a brick wall, killing Carl Dorrington, a 14-year-old boy who was a passenger in the vehicle.

Last night, I was contacted by people telling me about other innocent bystanders who have been injured in police chases in Nova Scotia, but I haven’t had time to verify those accounts.

To their credit, after McEnvoy’s death, Halifax police have mostly — although not entirely — broken off police chases when there is a danger to the public.

But here we have the RCMP involved in a high-speed pursuit of a driver with unknown intent at rush hour, in a crowded urban setting where pedestrians were present. It’s a miracle no one was killed.

But, there was “no risk to public safety,” we were told.

It gets worse.

RCMP raid across the street from Charles P. Allen High School on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2020. Note the high school in the background.

Yesterday, I was contacted by Jennifer Ramsay, the chair of the School Advisory Committee at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford. Ramsay told me that one of the RCMP raids happened at an apartment building across the street from the high school, just as hundreds of students at the school were leaving for the day.

“There was absolutely no notice given to the school of any type,” said Ramsay. “There should have been a lockdown at the school and students should not have been allowed to leave the building at this time. This is absolutely unbelievably neglectful of the RCMP not to have ensured the safety of the students at this school.”

Photos taken by students and parents at the time show heavily armed police officers, clearly preparing for a possible shootout, hiding behind vehicles as scores of students stream by.

I asked the RCMP for comment on the situation at the high school, and received this response back from Public Information Officer Lisa Croteau:

Hi Tim,

Extensive planning went into preparing for this operation and ensuring public and officer safety.

Take care,

Lisa

But, as I reported yesterday, Doug Hadley, spokesperson with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, confirmed that the school was not forewarned about the nearby police operation:

“This is not typical,” said Hadley in an interview. “We typically have good communications with both the Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP. When they have operations near a school, they let us know.”

Hadley said it’s up to the school to decide how to react, and that can range from a “hold and secure” — where students can only leave when parents arrive to pick them up — to a complete lockdown.

In this case, however, the principal at Charles P. Allen only learned of the nearby police operation after school had been dismissed, and even then, the only contact with the RCMP was via a voicemail left with the principal. No RCMP officer came to the school.

Hadley said because the school is in an area patrolled by the Halifax Regional Police, the school contacted that agency. But, “they didn’t know, or at least the officer who answered the phone didn’t know anything about what was going on.”

I can’t say with certainty, but it increasingly looks like the RCMP had no idea at all that there was a high school near the site of their raid, and only became aware of it as hundreds of students started coming down the hill towards them. Then, and only then, did the RCMP make a frantic call to the school to warn them of the nearby operation.

This is the complete opposite of “extensive planning … for … ensuring public and officer safety.”

Students and teachers at the school, and the students’ parents, have every reason to be outraged by the RCMP’s callous disregard for public safety, as should the rest of us.

* as originally published, I had the geography of the chase wrong.

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3. Heritage property demolished

“The province is investigating the demolition of a registered heritage building in Avonport, N.S.,” reports Pam Berman for the CBC:

The Reid House dates back to the 1760s. It was used as a tavern, a stage coach stop, a courthouse, a post office and a polling station as well as a farm.

The property is owned by Nanco Development, based in Halifax. It was torn down on Sunday.

A spokesperson for the provincial Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, Matt Lumley, confirmed in an email that the developer had not applied to deregister the building.

“To substantially alter or demolish a provincially-registered property, an owner must obtain approval from the Province of Nova Scotia. No such approval was given,” wrote Lumley.

Nanco Development is controlled by Bassam Nahas and his family. They also control Battery Hill Developments

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Views

1. Tim Houston must protect my Soros cheque

“Tim Houston, leader of a team that looks like what used to be called Red Tories, has stepped up to take on a tough task – putting daylight between his Progressive Conservative (PC) gang and the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC),” writes Richard Starr:

Earlier this week, the CBC reported on some of the contents of Houston’s email newsletter reprimanding federal MP Derek Sloan for his sponsorship in the House of Commons of an anti-vaxxer petition.

Perhaps this will turn out to be a one off. But if Houston is serious about reinforcing the PC brand — the one exemplified in the past by Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark and nowadays by the premier of Prince Edward Island — he has a job to do. Because in Ottawa, the CPC brand is creating a lot of racket.

The Great Reset conspiracy was last week. This week it was George Soros in the spotlight. Mr. Soros is rich, Jewish and supports many of what used to be called liberal (small ‘l’) causes. The right wing government in his native Hungary hates him, as do many of the same elements pushing the reset conspiracy.

In some circles he’s as big and bad a name as Karl Marx, and one of those circles looks to be the CPC caucus in Ottawa. On Tuesday, during a question period exchange between Finance minister Chrystia Freeland and the aforementioned Polievre, a certain CPC backbencher apparently hollered out “George Soros.”

The interjection was not recorded in Hansard, but was picked up by a Liberal member who outed Barrie Ontario MP John Brassard as the Soros blabbermouth, accusing him of being anti-Semitic. Brassard denied anti-Semitism, but in taking the Soros name in vain, he will have a harder time disclaiming that he has imbibed the “global elites” Kool-Aid that keeps getting passed around the CPC caucus room.

As that sort of behaviour shows, divorcing himself and the Nova Scotia PCs from the noise emanating from their Ottawa cousins could turn into a full-time job for Tim Houston, with little help to be expected from the federal party leader.

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Noticed

Mary Campbell

Mary Campbell continues her quest to obtain documents from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality related to development of the Port of Sydney. Her quest dates back to 2015, before she even started the Cape Breton Spectator.

This is a complex story — complex by design, so that citizens and media are dissuaded from actually using the Freedom of Information process. I gave background to the issue here. This week, Campbell relates what happened at CBRM council in relation to her file:

I learned a few things from the discussion of my 2015 FOIPOP application during last night’s CBRM council meeting.

I learned that Jim Gogan of Breton Law Group handled my initial request in 2015 and is now handling the review.

Regional solicitor Demetri Kachafanas revealed this in response to a question from District 8 Councilor James Edwards, who inquired about the “chain of command” involved in responding to FOIPOP requests.

…and Kachafanas stated:

This one was different than most of the FOIPOPs. Most of the FOIPOPs are dealt with, Deborah Campbell is the FOIPOP administrator, so between her and myself, we usually review most. It was determined by the former CAO that because this was related to the Port that the external Port counsel had a better handle on these documents, so it was tasked to him to do the FOIPOP request.

The former CAO, remember him? Michael Merritt? He decided to hand responsibility for answering my FOIPOP to the external counsel at the Port who is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an “officer of the municipality.” (I’ve asked the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for clarification on this point, but I don’t see how the CBRM could have justified outsourcing a FOIPOP to external counsel.)

Like most things related to Merritt, his excuse for handing the FOIPOP to Gogan was less-than-convincing — he assigned it to Gogan because the “counsel had a better handle on the documents.” What is needed in handling a FOIPOP is not familiarity with the particular documents, but familiarity with the laws governing access to information.

The essential problem here is that responsibility for my FOIPOP was removed from the FOIPOP admin officer — who has a duty to ensure citizens receive information they have a right to receive — and given to a lawyer with a vested interest in keeping information secret. And as was made clear by Kachafanas last night, Gogan (who wasn’t available to answer council’s questions) is still running the show, the “person that was dealing with the Port issues” is going through 862 pages of documents “hopefully with an eye to disclose as much as we can.”

This angers me.

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
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Government

No meetings.


On Campus

Dalhousie

Newfangling Rounds: Halifax Newfangling District Fostering Newfangling and Growth (Friday, 8:30am) — It’s early in the morning to be a drinking game, but still:

Halifax Newfangling District is a tech and research-dense area where people, firms and organizations are connecting and collaborating to generate and accelerate ideas. It is home to: 2,000 companies including 360 professional, scientific and technical service firms; 80+ software development and IT service firms; two-thirds of Halifax’s 40 life and health sciences startup companies; 18 R&D organizations; 4 universities; a community college campus, and many startup incubators and accelerators. Learn more about this newfangled and collaborative community and how you can be a part of it.

Info and link here; bring your own drinks, and don’t forget to mute when you gotta go.


In the harbour

05:00: ZIM Qingdao, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
05:30: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
13:00: Atlantic Kingfisher, tug/supply vessel, arrives at Pier 9 from Stephenville, Newfoundland
14:00: AlgoCanada, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
15:30: ZIM Qingdao sails for New York
16:30: Asterix, replenishment vessel, moves from Dockyard to Irving Oil
16:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
18:00: Tampa Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
18:00: Acadian sails for sea


Footnotes

Remember when Fridays were the easing off from the real work week day?

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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. In pursuit of plain speaking

    Richard Starr falls into the lazy practice of calling someone (George Soros) Jewish. He is no more Jewish than Christians are Christianish or Mulsims are Muslimish or Hindus are Hinduish. He is a Jew. Plain and simple. The suffix “ish” is used as a diminutive to describe something that is inexact or somewhat like, as in, “We’ll eat around sixish” or “The situation was ticklish.” A person’s religion is generally not something that calls for such an application.

    While I’m at it: why is it we so often feel compelled to point out someone’s religion at all; and why is it Jews that we usually single out for that honour? We never here references to , “the Presbyterian businessman Galen Weston” or the Baptist mayor of Halifax.” Just sayin’

  2. The RCMP needs to be fixed.

    The idea that a provincial police force, created out of thin, air would be better is highly questionable, given the history of provincial government {in}competence in NS

    1. A.provincial police force under the thumb of people like McNeil and Furey…..no thanks.
      For some unknown reason all 3 parties appointed former police officers to be the Minister of Justice.

  3. The RCMP recklessly endangered the lives of innocent school kids. They conducted a high risk raid on a place and either knew or ought to have known the school needed to be locked down. For that they only had to call HRP to handle the school while they did their raid. This “none of your business “ attitude of the RCMP is dangerous and may have even cost lives already in the mass shooting we endured earlier. Time for a better choice.

  4. Defund the police was always a reasonable demand of people that have disproportionately suffered at the hands of the institution’s members, but man oh man the evidence is piling up that is an eminently reasonable position for everyone to be adopting. Defund the police!

  5. Time to make replacing the RCMP in Nova Scotia a major issue for the new premier and for the next Provincial election.
    Even the promise to initiate a study into a provincial police force would be a step in the right direction.
    Alberta is set to rule in April on the results of a panel(however controversial) claiming that Albertans prefer a Police force run by the province.

    1. I will go as far as saying that they need a serious gutting and re-building or else a complete disbanding.
      They act more like the Stasi than a national police force of a democratic liberal country.

    2. I agree. I understand that the RCMP practice of not deploying officers in their home province has a legitimate anti-corruption purpose, but it surely contributes to an ‘Us vs. them’ attitude among RCMP officers. A provincial police force wouldn’t be perfect either but it would be better than a federal police force.