1. Kayla Borden
“Kayla Borden wasn’t just complaining about the two officers who handcuffed her last summer,” reports Zane Woodford. “She was complaining about the whole force.”
El Jones first reported on Borden’s case back in July 2020. Borden was driving haplessly home from visiting with a relative, when she was stopped and swarmed by Halifax police on Windmill Road. She was arrested and handcuffed, but after a while was told she was “un-under arrest” and let go, with the bizarre explanation that the cops were looking for a white guy in a different kind of car.
Borden was unable to sleep after the incident, and wonders what could have happened if she had been slow to put her hands on the wheel or if she had reached for her phone.
As a Queer Black woman, I’ve had a few interactions with the police, and the experience has never been a good one. If anything, I was arrested for being Black.
As Woodford reported in October:
The next morning, Borden went to the police station to file a complaint, and was met with resistance. She was initially told there was no record of the incident, and when she called the Dartmouth office they said they couldn’t find any records. Eventually a friend intervened and she was given an incident number but the police would provide no further information, and couldn’t verify they were actually in a chase with a white man in a Toyota.
That began a long process, the police seemingly wanting to downplay and minimize the incident, but Borden insisting on a full investigation.
“In December,” writes Woodford yesterday, “the police finished their investigation. In the decision, HRP Inspector Derrick Boyd writes that Sgt. Jonathan Jefferies investigated the complaint against two officers — constables Scott Martin and Jason Meisner — and found neither of them acted improperly.”
The decision lists seven other officers involved — constables Andrew Nicholson, Anil Rana, Sym Dewar, Andrew Joudrey, Jeffrey Pulsifer, Tanya Lambert, Stuart McCulley — but police didn’t consider their behaviour in the investigation, just the two arresting officers.
Borden has now brought her case to the Police Review Board, and her lawyer Devin Maxwell spells out her objection:
While we disagree with Insp. Boyd and Sgt. Jefferies’ conclusions regarding the racial biases, negligence, use of force, and lack of civility of Csts. Martin and Meisner, this complaint is about so much more. In addition to the individual conduct of those officers, Kayla complains about the systemic racism that resulted in her being unnecessarily stopped and manhandled from her vehicle by eight police officers — all of whom are responsible for her wrongful arrest.
Systemic racism is also responsible for the way that Kayla was treated after she was stopped. It underlies the way she was treated when she tried to make a complaint and the manner in which her complaint was investigated by Sgt. Jefferies and judged by Insp. Boyd.
The fact that these officers did not drag Kayla from her car while hurling racial epithets does not excuse, or even mitigate, the fact that another young Black Nova Scotian was stopped and arrested for no good reason by a police department that continues to maintain that it has no issues of racial bias.
Kayla’s complaint is against the Halifax Regional Police, in its entirety. It implicates the officer that arrested her. It implicates the officers who participated in her arrest and stood by and watched it happen. It implicates the staff that made it difficult for her to file a complaint and refused to provide her (or me) with any information concerning the incident. It implicates the officer that conducted the investigation. It implicates the officer who wrote the decision dismissing the complaint. And, finally, it implicates a police force that continues to deny that it has a racism problem and has ignored a litany of recommendations aimed at addressing issues around race.
The city’s lawyers’ response are due back by June 18, and the Review Board will decide where to go from there.
2. Dr. Tiffany Richards
“After a long shift at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Toronto, you might expect to find Dr. Tiffany Richards relaxing after a gruelling day,” writes El Jones:
Instead, many evenings after work, Dr. Richards spends hours on social media speaking with African Nova Scotians in an effort to provide better health information to her community.
Graduating Dalhousie’s medical school in 2020 during the pandemic, Richards saw the virus affecting Black people more severely than people of other races. While Canada has been slow to gather race disaggregated data, studies in other countries consistently show that Black people experience higher mortality rates and worst post-infection outcomes. These poorer outcomes are exacerbated by long legacies of racism in health care which leave many Black patients anxious, mistrustful, and scared of medical interventions.
Richards says she understands exactly why Black people are suspicious of the medical system. And that’s why she doesn’t mind taking extra time to answer questions and allay concerns. While she is careful not to provide individual medical advice, she sees the need for Black doctors to fill the communication gap. COVID, she says, “hammered home to me just how much the medical profession needs to earn back the trust of Black people.”
Richards had her own struggles to contend with:
Born and raised in Truro, Tiffany Richards always knew she wanted to be a doctor. But growing up, she never saw any Black Nova Scotians practicing medicine. The process of becoming a doctor, she says, felt “intimidating” to her.
Completing her undergraduate degree in Psychology at York University, Richards tried out different careers, but nothing quite stuck.
Then I ended up working for a kidney specialist in Toronto, and that was when I felt, I want this job! I tried to figure any other path out for my life that might be easier, but that’s when I realized: no, this is really the job I want.
Richards “finally” met her first Black Canadian doctor when she was 25. The experience left her “fangirling” and inspired her to go after her childhood dream. She also credits a group of Black women in medical school — Cinera States, Leah Jones, and Akila Whiley — for helping her see what was possible:
That was when I thought: these people are from here, they got in, they’re not rich — for years I thought it was completely inaccessible to me. So meeting them, I saw that they were in there and thriving and I thought, “this is so doable.”
Richards saved up for a year after working, and returned to university to do a second undergraduate degree in Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University in preparation for medical school at Dalhousie. When she got accepted, she understood that she wasn’t only there for herself, but for her entire community.
This is a lovely profile of a lovely woman.
3. The firing of NSCAD president Aoife Mac Namara
“Nearly a year after a Nova Scotia art college abruptly fired its president without explanation, new documents obtained by The Globe and Mail reveal the effort to replace the top administrator began soon after she pushed back against a proposal to sell historic campus buildings to a Halifax developer,” reports Greg Mercer:
Scott McCrea, chief executive officer of the Armour Group, wanted the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) to sell him its oldest downtown properties and have his company build a new campus building, leasing it back to the university – an offer he presented as a potential solution to ongoing infrastructure problems facing the university.
Shortly after she started her job in August of 2019, Aoife Mac Namara met with Mr. McCrea and was encouraged by members of the university board of governors to proceed with his proposal. The new president resisted, telling them she was concerned about potential perceived or actual conflicts of interest of some governors – and potentially breaking public procurement rules that regulate infrastructure spending by universities, according to e-mails obtained by The Globe.
The vice-chair of NSCAD’s board of governors at the time was Sean Kelly, a lawyer whose firm represents Armour Group and leases office space from one of the developer’s many Halifax properties. Mr. Kelly introduced the motion to fire Dr. Mac Namara during a closed-door meeting on June 25, 2020, after 10 months marked by friction between the new president and some members of the board – acrimony that led Dr. Mac Namara to complain that she was being bullied and harassed.
The firing stunned Canada’s arts community, and fuelled anger on campus over what some saw as the influence of commercial interests in board decisions.
With the records he obtained, Mercer details the basic story I outlined the day after Mac Namara was fired:
Mac Namara stepped right into the closed and opaque circle that constitutes Nova Scotia’s managerial and real estate network.
You’ll recall that NSCAD was nearly bankrupted a few years ago by an ill-conceived purchase of property at the port. Ever since, the Board of Governors has been especially focused on real estate — there was the potential to relocate the Granville campus to the waterfront in a joint project with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, but for unknown (to me) reasons, that idea fell through, and now the AGNS is going solo with the waterfront project.
In the 1970s, the university moved from Coburg Road to downtown by purchasing the eastern half of the Granville Street portion of the Historic Properties developed by Ben McCrea, owner of the Armour Group. That sale included a provision that should the university ever sell the property, Armour Group would have first rights of refusal.
Fast forward to the present day. Ben McCrea died some years ago, and Armour is now controlled by his son, Scott McCrea. Saint Mary’s University awarded him an honorary degree last year. In addition to the Historic Properties, the Armour Group owns the Waterside, Founders Square, and the dog-awful Queen’s Marque project now blighting the waterfront.
And NSCAD’s Granville campus could join that real estate portfolio. McCrea has made some sort of offer to the university for the property. Does this make sense? Maybe. As the adjacent Cogswell redevelopment project is about to commence, now might be an opportune time to unload the property to a developer.
The problem, I’m told, is that as Mac Namara saw it, the potential sale of the Granville campus was tied up with conflicts of interest on the Board of Governors. In particular, vice chair Sean Kelly is a lawyer with Stewart McKelvey, where he represents the Armour Group.
Mercer gets into the particulars:
But e-mails obtained by The Globe show she was being pressed by board members who wanted her to proceed with Armour Group’s vision to modernize the university’s downtown campuses.
A copy of that real-estate proposal, which was shared with several governors but never formally presented to the entire board, was obtained by The Globe. It would have required NSCAD sell Armour Group two of its oldest properties on Granville Street in Halifax, and pay the developer to build a new main campus next to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, then rent that space back from Armour Group — while allowing the developer to build private condominiums on top.
In September of 2019, just weeks after starting her job, she was urged by the board’s former treasurer and head of the finance and physical resources committee, Alan MacPherson, to set up a meeting with Armour Group’s CEO. She expressed concern that discussing potential campus infrastructure projects with a developer before the public tender process would make it look like NSCAD was giving Armour Group an unfair advantage.
The third wave of the pandemic in Nova Scotia has mostly subsided, but daily case counts stubbornly remain above single digits (at 14 yesterday). Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said there is no chance that Phase 2 of the reopening plan will be sped up, but also that it is unlikely to be delayed past June 16.
Meanwhile, vaccination numbers saw their usual weekend lull, but the pace typically picks up through the week, and I think it likely the Phase 3 target of 65% of the population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine will be reached Wednesday or Thursday.
At yesterday’s COVID briefing, Strang for the first time made an explicit vaccine recommendation: He said people (like myself) who got a first dose of AstraZeneca should get a second dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). Strang said information to better inform people about that decision will be sent to AstraZeneca first dosers soon.
I asked Strang what would happen to the approximately 2,000 doses of AstraZeneca now in the province should everyone who got a first dose of AstraZeneca take his advice. While 2,000 is a small number in the scheme of things, there are jurisdictions around the world that are facing a dearth of vaccine, and even that small number would make an appreciable difference if we could get it to them. Strang said that there is no chance of diverting Nova Scotia’s unused AstraZeneca elsewhere, and it would go to waste.
5. Mass murders
On Friday, I was preparing to take the weekend off — it requires a lot of work to take time off — so I kind of missed the story of the Frank Magazine releasing 911 recordings from the night of the mass murders.
When I was able to pay it some attention, my first thought was “this is old news.” We’ve long known that almost immediately on the night of the murders, the RCMP knew the killer was in a fake RCMP car and wearing a fake RCMP uniform. The man who was shot and injured on the road told them as much, as soon as the RCMP arrived, and that information has been in search warrant documents the media consortium has made public many months ago. We also have reported that as early as 1am on April 19, the RCMP was telling other police agencies about the fake RCMP car. So, in short, anyone paying attention knew that the RCMP was lying when it said it didn’t know about the fake police car until 6:30am, when Lisa Banfield came out of the woods and told them so.
The most charitable read on this — and it doesn’t say much in the RCMP’s favour — is that they simply assumed the killer had killed himself, destroying the car in the process, and that was that, no need to tell the public. Whatever the reason for not alerting the public, we know that nine more people were killed, and arguably many of them could have taken themselves out of harm’s way had they only been properly alerted.
As for the release of 911 tapes, with my American reporting background, I was surprised at the to-do over this. In the US, 911 tapes are released as a matter of course, and it’s never occurred to me to question it. So many times such tapes have given the public important insight into the dimensions of an emergency (think of what we know about the Breonna Taylor killing and so many other deaths at police hands, thanks to 911 calls), and the adequacy or inadequacy of police response. I’m open to conversation about this, but I think in the wash, I fall on the side of openness.
Relatedly, people ask me why the Examiner stopped publishing Paul Palango’s work. I won’t go into this in detail, but understand that it’s my job as a publisher to think about a broad range of issues, and whether this or that particular article meets all my concerns. I decline to publish things all the time, for a variety of reasons. And no, this is not “Bousquet is in the hands of the RCMP” (how could anyone seriously think that?), or any other personal bias on my part. I’m not afraid of “the truth,” wherever that leads, and I’ll continue to pursue that, within the parameters of my job as an editor. I wish Paul all the best.
6. ARMCO appeal
ARMCO, the gigantic development company owned by George Armoyan, usually gets its way. But not always.
In May, city staff recommended that the Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council approve the rezone of about 14 acres ARMCO owns in Shearwater, from a R-1 (Single Unit Dwelling) Zone to a I-1 (Light Industry) Zone, but the council rejected that recommendation. ARMCO has appealed to the Utility and Review Board.
The property is an oddly shaped parcel (actually, four parcels, considered as one) just at the abrupt turn in Hines Road after it crosses over the Shearwater Flyer Trail. ARMCO has been trying to develop the property for some time, explains the staff report:
In 2009, an MPS amendment application (Case 15790) for a proposed residential development including multi-unit buildings with a total of 254 units, and 74 townhomes was ultimately refused by Regional Council.
In 2014, an MPS amendment application was submitted for residential development including 3 multi-unit buildings, 32 townhome units, 10 semi-detached units, and 8 single family homes (Case 19158).
In November of 2019 the current application under Case 22651 was submitted, proposing an industrial re- zoning. In February 2020, the applicant decided to withdraw the previously submitted MPS amendment application (Case 19158) to pursue this rezoning application instead.
The current proposal includes a single driveway in and out of the property, emerging between two houses just before the nearly 90-degree right hand turn in Hines Road.
The council rejected that proposal, saying that “the proposed rezoning does not reasonably carry out the intent of the Land Use By-law under the following policy criteria:
- Incompatibility with adjacent residential uses –The subject property is surrounded by R-1 residential uses, Community Council noted that although the Eastern Passage/Cow Bay Municipal Planning Strategy allows for the I-1 designation to be applied, it is out of date, and does not reflect the current community need for housing as opposed to industrial uses which are already prevalent in the area.
- Environmental Impact – Community Council discussed the potential industrial uses on the subject property and the impact on nearby wetlands and watercourses, particularly with respect to stormwater management.
- Traffic – Community Council highlighted an increase in commercial/truck traffic on Hines Road adding congestion and potential pedestrian safety issues.
- No clear proposal for intended use(s) on subject property – Community Council highlighted that there is no clear proposal for the intended uses on site leading to ambiguity within the community as to what type of businesses will operate there. Further, the EC zone located within the subject property poses unique challenges as to what type of light industrial uses can safely and effectively operate on the subject property.”
Fiddlesticks, says ARMCO lawyer Kevin Latimer in the appeal:
- Council’s decision fails to acknowledge that the Appellant’s request to rezone is consistent with the applicable MPS Policies, namely MPS Policies IND-3, IMD-1, and IM-11, as recommended to Council in the staff report of February 10, 2021;
- Council considered irrelevant criteria other than those specified in the MPS as a basis for rejecting the application;
- Such other and further grounds as are disclosed in the Appeal Record and evidence of the municipality at the hearing.
No date has been set for the UARB to hear the appeal.
7. Hot doggie
“Halifax District RCMP has charged a 71-year-old Lower Sackville man for leaving a dog in a car in Fall River,” relates an RCMP press release:
At approximately 3 p.m. on June 5, police were notified of a dog in distress in a parking lot on Hwy. 2 in Fall River. A passerby opened the car door and took the dog out prior to police arriving. The owner returned to his vehicle, and police issued a Summary Offence Ticket for Causing an Animal Distress under section 26(1) of the Animal Protection Act. This offence carries a fine of $697.50.
Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm) — live on YouTube
Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 4:30pm) — live on YouTube
Health (Tuesday, 1pm) — video conference: IWK Programs and Services across the Province and Atlantic Canada, with several specialists from the IWK Health Centre
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am) — video conference: Fraud Risk Management and Cybersecurity Re: 2020 Financial Report of the Auditor General, with Geoff Gatien, Joanne Munro, Andrea Anderson, and Ted Doane
WATER: An Atlantic Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Roundtable (Tuesday, 1pm) — Zoom event:
hosted in partnership with Creative Destruction Lab – Atlantic (CDL) at Dalhousie University, Women in Business New Brunswick (WBNB), Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and Ulnooweg. Join this free event with presentations from Indigenous women and Elders who work closely with the water we so heavily rely on, and an engaging discussion about what we can each do going forward to protect the water in the Atlantic region.
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Seminar (Wednesday, 4pm) — PhD candidate Spencer Jones will talk about “Investigating the role of the core SWI/SNF sub-unit Bap60 during long-term memory formation in Drosophila melanogaster”; PhD candidate Nicholas Raun will explain how “The methyltransferase Trx regulates critical energy genes in memory neurons”. More info here. Bring your own Bap60 and/or methyltransferase Trx.
In the harbour
06:00: One Magnificence, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
06:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Hamburg, Germany
08:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for Nanticoke, Ontario
13:00: AlgoTerra, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Montreal
16:00: MOL Maestro, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
16:30: One Magnificence sails for New York
17:00: Onego Deusto, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 27 from Szczecin, Poland
23:00: Thorco Liva, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Philadelphia
No arrivals or departures
[insert your snark here]