News

1. Atlantic Gold sics cops on peaceful citizen

“If yesterday’s information session was meant to convince the people of Sherbrooke — or for that matter any other Nova Scotians — that Atlantic Gold has their best interests at heart, it failed — spectacularly,” writes Joan Baxter. “And I mean spectacularly“:

Not only were most of the people who spoke up strongly opposed to Atlantic Gold’s proposed mine in Cochrane Hill on the banks of the St. Mary’s River in Guysborough County, and very vocal about their fears of what the proposed open pit gold mine would do to the river and their community, the event also resulted in the brutal arrest of an innocent citizen.

Click here to read “RCMP violently remove and arrest citizen at public meeting.”

2. Sexual assault in prison

A pair of prisoners walk through the snow-covered grounds of the Nova Institution for Women. Photo: Senate of Canada

“On May 22, three women incarcerated at the Nova Institution for Women federal prison filed civil suits against the Attorney General of Canada, alleging they were each sexually assaulted by correctional officer Brian Wilson over the course of the past five years,” writes Martha Paynter:

It’s difficult to know where to begin to unpack all that is terrifying and frustrating about this case. The persistent myth that women make false rape accusations undoubtedly contributed to mishandling and dismissal of the women’s serious complaints. We know from Robyn Doolittle’s stellar investigative reporting that police in Canada dismiss one in five reported sexual assaults as “unfounded.” Stereotypes and misogyny drive the medicalization and silencing of women’s legitimate anger at systemic mistreatment. There is evidence women prisoners experience disproportionate punishment for insubordinate and uncooperative behaviour. And so it is not surprising that these women’s complaints were ignored.

But these women are among a population we know to have experienced astonishing levels of trauma. Upwards of 80% of incarcerated women have childhood histories of sexual and physical abuse. PTSD wreaks havoc on their lives and challenges even the most resourceful among them at coping. Most women prisoners develop substance use dependency and mental illness. This is a population in profound need of comprehensive health support and protection from retraumatization.

Click here to read “Sexual assault in prison: vulnerable women prisoners have few protections and face reprisal for reporting attacks.”

3. “At least I didn’t rape anybody”

Photo: Halifax Examiner

“A Halifax taxi driver with multiple convictions for assault with a weapon and a new assault charge pending has had his licence reinstated by a council committee for the second time,” reports Zane Woodford for Star Halifax:

Halifax regional council’s appeals standing committee met on Thursday to consider an appeal from Douglas James Brine. Brine appealed the municipal licensing authority’s decision to deny his taxi licence renewal application after he failed a criminal record check.

Yesterday, I linked to the agenda package on Brine’s appeal. It shows that in 2016 Brine had been convicted on the following charges:
• SEC 267(A) CC Assault with a Weapon
• SEC 264.1(1)(A) CC Uttering Threats to CBH or Death
• SEC 264.1(1)(A) CC Uttering Threats to CBH or Death
• SEC 88(1) Possess Weapon Dangerous to Public Place
• SEC 145(3) Fail to Comply with Recognizance
• SEC 145(3) Fail to Comply with Recognizance

and in 2018, he had been convicted on one charge:
•SEC 129(A) CC Obstruct/Resist Police

Additionally, “Chris Hansen, spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service, told Star Halifax that Brine is scheduled to stand trial for assault in November, related to an incident in September 2018,” writes Woodford.

Woodford gets into the particulars of the charges, and why councillors David Hendsbee and Russell Walker thought it was OK to grant Brine his appeal (Councillor Matt Whitman voted against the appeal).

There must be room for redemption, for forgiving, for rebuilding lives; if not, we’re all doomed. A just society encourages reform and creates future opportunities for success for those who have been caught up in the criminal justice system.

But this decision is all wrong.

To begin, Brine does not at all appear repentant, and not fully cognizant of the magnitude of his crimes. “At least I didn’t rape anybody or assault anybody in my cab,” Brine told Woodford after the meeting.

Secondly, I don’t think David Hendsbee or Russell Walker, or myself for that matter, are qualified to judge the merits of the case. Who knows — maybe Brine is a good candidate for reform, but the council committee did not have input from lawyers, or parole officers, or counsellors, or addiction specialists. It was just three entirely untrained politicians making decisions on the fly. We really ought reconsider this entire process.

Thirdly, while we should make room for forgiveness and the rebuilding of lives, I’m always confused as to why that rebuilding should include whatever career path the offender wants. Like, say a politician uses his office to facilitate a secret and illegal loan scheme using government money to finance concerts; sure, no one wants to destroy his life forever, but must he really get back into politics? Couldn’t he, I don’t know, sell insurance or something? Or, if a guy gets busted for defrauding a government agency, is it really a good idea that he goes on to work for a company that relies on grants from the same government agency? Couldn’t he, say, drive a garbage truck? In Brine’s case, he wrote that “I enjoy driving a cab like my father before me and I find fulfilment in performing my job and getting people home safely.” Well, sure, I used to drive cab and know how it can be a fulfilling job, but if you have a history of violence, maybe your best career choice is something that doesn’t include face-to-face interaction with the public and you should instead do some other sort of job, like, say, working in a kitchen or filling out ACOA grants or something.

Fourthly, and most importantly, the taxi industry in this city faces a well-earned crisis of consumer confidence. Women, in particular, are justifiably afraid to take cabs. But, like it or not, taxis are an integral part of our transportation system, and it’s essential that city government do everything it can to ensure that taking the taxi is safe. The tolerance for risk from drivers must be zero.


Government

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Beyond GDP: International Experiences, Canada’s Options (Friday, 9am, University Hall)— info and registration here.


In the harbour

Friday
06:30: Lomur, cargo ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
11:00: ZIM Shekou, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
15:30: Undine, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
16:30: MSC Immacolata, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Baltimore
17:00: Yantian Express, container ship, moves from Fairview Cove to Bedford Basin anchorage (this is the ship that caught fire a while back)
20:30: ZIM Shekou sails for New York
22:00: Augusta Mars, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 or sea

Saturday
01:00: Zefros, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Port Arthur, Texas
06:30: CMA CGM Libra, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Colombo, Sri Lanka

No cruise ships this weekend.


Footnotes

I had a lot more to write about this morning, but it takes quite a long time to upload and edit video (for the Atlantic Gold story, #1 above), so those other stories will have to wait until Monday.


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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. As a student as Saint Mary’s University in the 80’s when Hendsbee was a disastrous student council president, all I can say is that at least he’s consistent.

  2. Three disturbing stories this morning. Awful.

    Atlantic Gold completely shit the bed at their PR show in Sherbrooke. Who can trust them to take care of the environment when they treat a human being like that?

    1. On the other hand, Ken, who can trust them to take care of a human being when they treat the environment like that?

  3. Surely Halifax could have a higher standard for licensure than “I didn’t rape anybody”. I am appalled at this decision and hope it sparks a public outcry. Poor judgment all around.

      1. most politicians are lawyers, but there isn’t a school for politicians(that I am aware of). Some politicians might have a degree in polisci.
        It seem like an unnecessary dig at the 3 politicians because Tim didn’t agree with them.
        Dare I bring up Tim isn’t a trained journalist, but he has been doing journalism for a long time. Just like Hendsbee and Walker have been on council for a long time.

        1. I understood it to mean “they are not trained in the task they are being asked to perform”, i.e. in quasi-judicial proceedings related to public safety. I’ve always assumed that HRM lawyers lead some kind of training for councillors asked to manage such proceedings. It seems reasonable for Tim to make the opposite assumption.

          1. Christ on a stick… are people seriously arguing that David Hendsbee is qualified as a judge of criminality? That he can drive his pickup truck to law courts and sit as judge on, say, a murder trial?

            I’m not talking about “training” to be a politician; I’m talking about the training that is absolutely called for before someone will make real life and death decisions — not just for the defendant but for the general public who may suffer the consequences should a dangerous person be set free prematurely.

            And even those highly trained judges require the input of other experts, also highly trained—- psychologists, sociologists, lawyers, and even other highly trained judges whose decisions have been tested by appellant courts.

            Council’s Appeals Committee has none of that.

          2. An Appeals Committee proceeded without waiting for the lawyer for the appellant, the lawyer was out of town. The appeal proceeded and was dismissed. A councillor was very happy to proceed because the appeal was against a woman who had his election sign on her property in a prominent location in central Halifax. She was also a member of an HRM committee.The woman wanted to place a garden shed against an abutting wall and the appellant claimed the shed would block the light through the only window.
            Case ended up in court but the appellant lost. The shed has yet to appear.
            The committee usually asks the solicitor for legal advice before making a decision.