News

1. Child sex abuse

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Three men allege that they were sexually abused as teenagers when they were housed at the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre in Bible Hill.

The Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre was an institution for young people with mental disabilities.

I’m withholding the men’s full names until and unless they want to be identified publicly. They are represented by Halifax lawyer Michael Dull, who has filed lawsuits against the province on their behalf.

S.L. says he was sent to the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre in 1997, when he was 14, and he lived there intermittently until 2002.

“While a resident at the Nova Scotia Youth Facility, [S.L.] was subjected to sexual abuse by an employee of the Facility,” reads the lawsuit. “The sexual abuse took place over the course of this employee’s employment as the swim instructor/ pool supervisor.”

A second man, T.C., was placed in the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre in 1994, when he was 16 years old, and lived there for about a year. He too alleges that he was abused by the swim instructor.

A third man, M.T., says he was housed in the facility from 1986 to 1991, from the time he was 10 to 15 years old. His suit reads:

When a resident of the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre, [M.T.] was subjected to mental, physical, and sexual abuse by the residents, agents, servants, and employees of the school. He was subjected to prolonged and unsafe periods of solitary confinement.

The Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre through its agents, employees, and servants created an atmosphere of tolerance and encouragement of excessive mental, physical and sexual abuse, such that the repugnant practices pervaded the school and the relationships between the residents of the school as well as between the agents, employees, servants, and residents of the school.

The suit goes on to say that the sexual abuse was reported to and witnessed by people in authority at the facility, but “nothing was done by way of investigation or rectification.” Moreover, the suit alleges, there was no screening of employees.

M.T. says he was “repeatedly sexually and physically assaulted” at the facility.

The allegations contained in the lawsuits have not been tested in court.

In 2006, Bruce Wark wrote about the history of the facility for The Coast:

Two years ago, Dal Law School student Stephen Ellis and I interviewed Fred MacKinnon in his Clayton Park apartment. MacKinnon, then 92 and almost blind, lay fully clothed on his bed as he recalled another painful chapter in Nova Scotia social welfare history — not poor houses, but the Nova Scotia Training School for “mentally defective” children.

The School opened at Brookside, near Truro, in 1929, 10 years before MacKinnon began his civil service career.

In a detailed research paper, Stephen Ellis had written that the School was designed to keep “undesirables” from breeding. Children and adolescents classified as idiots, imbeciles or morons were sent to the Training School so that they wouldn’t contaminate or weaken the human race by producing “feeble-minded” offspring.

The atmosphere there was, as Fred MacKinnon acknowledged, anything but “tender loving care.” The strict discipline continued for nearly 40 years until the school was renamed the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre to reflect a more compassionate, educational approach.

Yet, in the meantime, as Stephen Ellis wrote: “Hundreds of ‘worse than worthless’ children were herded into this institution to save the rest of society from ruin. Not one of their names is known. Compounding the problem is the fact that this disturbing chapter of our history has all but disappeared from the history books.”

“The School was founded because social workers and church people were faced with problems they didn’t know the answers to,” MacKinnon told us. “The community — the very best people, intelligent and concerned people — didn’t know what to do and would grab onto any notion that appeared to have some value. This was a ready-made answer. Put them away.”

As Deputy Head and then Deputy Minister of Public Welfare for 33 years, MacKinnon helped change things at the School, but it took a long time. He said that by the 1970s it was doing excellent work caring for “mentally challenged” children. The School closed in the late 1990s.

I think Wark got the Centre’s closing date wrong, as S.L. says he lived there until 2002.

2. Lockdown and solitary confinement

The Burnside jail. Photo: Halifax Examiner

I reported yesterday:

Five prisoners at the Burnside jail have filed habeas corpus applications with the Supreme Court. The applications arrived at the courthouse yesterday, September 5.

Kaz Cox, Matthew Grimm, Maurice Pratt, Steven Skinner, and Leonard Greenough each say they are wrongfully being held on lockdown and/or in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. It’s unclear if any of the five are aware of the others’ applications.

A sense of the prisoners’s conditions is relayed by their hand-written applications.

“I have committed no rule infraction and have been locked in my cell since September 1, 2018,” writes Kaz Cox. “I have only received half hour per day of fresh air. I have been given no information as to why I am being held in lockdown. I have had my light on from 8am – 12am and a high beam flashlight shined in my face every half hour between 12am and 8am, depriving me of sleep. I am feeling as if I am being tortured while awaiting trial.”

“Repeatedly we are locked down for another person’s actions,” writes Grimm. “They claim it is a security risk [but there is] no basis to that argument. Consistently they do the same kind of lock downs where we go multiple days without getting our full rights.”

Cox, Greenough, and Skinner are on remand, meaning they have not been tried for the charges that brought them to jail. It’s not clear from their applications what Grimm’s or Pratt’s status is.

Click here to read “Five prisoners at the Burnside jail ask the court to order them released from solitary confinement.”

3. Accessibility

Gus Reed. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Gus Reed writes:

A Board of Inquiry under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act today ordered the province to enforce the regulation requiring restaurants to have “washroom facilities for the public available in a convenient location,” requiring those washroom facilities to be accessible to wheelchair users. Click here for the decision.

The order came in response to a complaint of discrimination by Warren Reed, Ben Marston, Paul Vienneau, Jeremy MacDonald, and Kelly McKenna, all of whom use wheelchairs. The complainants issued the following statement in response to the ruling:

We are very pleased. Today’s decision on our Human rights complaint, filed 770 days ago, affords us the same health protection as other Nova Scotians, and better protects all Nova Scotians from food-borne illness.

In her lengthy decision, Board of Inquiry Chair Gail Gatchalian found that the food safety regime has discriminated against wheelchair users. She rejected each of the many arguments put forward by the province.

Her decision complements an earlier ruling in the case by Supreme Court Justice Frank Edwards, who rejected the Human Rights Commission’s longstanding practice of refusing to accept most of the complaints it receives. He ruled that the Commission must consider all complaints.

We are especially pleased that the Board of Inquiry cited Section 10 of the Human Rights Act, opening the doors to challenges of the many government regulations that are enforced in a discriminatory fashion:

136. Subsection 10(1) of the Human Rights Act provides that regulations that are discriminatory on their face are void and of no legal effect:

10 (1) Where, in a regulation made pursuant to an enactment, there is a reference to a characteristic referred to in clauses (h) to (v) of subsection (1) of Section 5 that appears to restrict the rights or privileges of an individual or class of individuals to whom the reference applies/ the reference and all parts of the regulation dependent on the reference are void and of no legal effect.

137. If s.20(l) of the Food Safety Regulations were amended to state that food establishments need not have a washroom that is accessible to wheelchair users, it would have the same effect as the practice of the Province being challenged in this case, and would run afoul of s.l0(l) of the Human Rights Act.

In terms of remedies, the decision offers this:

192. Some food establishments may be able to provide accessible washrooms for the public. Some may not be able to do so without experiencing undue financial hardship. Some may need time to comply. This does not justify the Respondent’s approach, which is that no accommodation is necessary.

We completely understand that in a business with razor-thin profits, the provision of washroom facilities my be a hardship.

Let’s be clear: the province has failed in its enforcement duties and must make good in a responsible manner. Subsidized loans, tax credits, and differential property assessments are some of the many ways the province can and should help.

The province let this injustice happen and the province should find the solution.

We are immensely indebted to the talent and forthrightness of our pro-bono attorney, David Fraser of McInnes Cooper.

4. Tidal power

The abandoned tidal turbine. Photo: Cape Sharpe Tidal

Emera spokesperson Stacey Pineau issued the following statement yesterday:

Cape Sharp Tidal Turbine Update

Work continues to establish ongoing operational control and environmental monitoring of the Cape Sharp Tidal turbine.

All environmental monitoring devices required for regulatory compliance are working and transferring data to shore. This includes three hydrophones, one sonar and three Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs). In addition, a video camera pointing at the rotor is also operational. Verification of the data is underway.

As well, at Cape Sharp Tidal’s request, FORCE has deployed a FAST platform and data is being collected by the hydrophones it carries. In addition, an acoustic recorder (AMAR) was deployed at the end of June before placement of the turbine. This remains at the berth and will provide data that can compare sound effects prior to the turbine placement and after it is commissioned.

It confuses me that Pineau, the Emera spokesperson, is making statements on behalf of Cape Sharp, as Emera has essentially washed its hands of the project.

Speaking of tidal, there’s yet another legal filing against OpenHydro, this one from Seaforth Geosurveys Incorporated, a Dartmouth firm (its office is at Paddlers Cove on Lake Banook), which says that OpenHydro owes it $422,8844.40 for the “provision of turbine deployment services.”

The president of Seaforth Geosurveys is David Lombardi. Back in 2014, Lombardi was a director at Seaforth Energy, which filed for bankruptcy. Reported Patricia Brooks Arenburg for the Chronicle Herald:

A Dartmouth wind energy firm has laid off its entire staff and is trying to negotiate a sale as it wrestles with a multimillion-dollar debt.

Seaforth Energy Inc., a wind turbine manufacturer in Woodside, owes more than $4 million to 62 different creditors, including $2 million to the provincial Economic and Rural Development Department and $954,000 to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, documents filed with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada state.

Seaforth now has until Sept. 26 to make a proposal to creditors under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act after its request for an extension was granted in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Tuesday.

The company filed its notice of intention with the court on July 14 and PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. has been appointed proposal trustee.

Tuesday’s order was granted after considering, among other things, the affidavit of David Lombardi, a director at Seaforth Energy.

There was no answer at the company’s phone numbers and Lombardi could not be reached Tuesday.

But in his affidavit, the director detailed the company’s financial woes.

“There are insufficient receivables and pending sales which would bring sufficient new cash into the company,” he says in the affidavit.

“All of Seaforth’s employees have been laid off in order to minimize spending while an agreement is reached with Endurance and the Province of Nova Scotia.”

Seaforth Energy was dismantled soon after. I don’t know how much, if anything, creditors received.

Despite the moral hazard arguments made about consumers who get behind on credit card debt or whatever, bankruptcy is an essential part of capitalism — the entire system would come crashing down without it. It’s just interesting to see Lombardi on both ends of bankruptcies, as debtor and creditor.

5. Building D

Dalhousie University just spent $64 million prettying up the Sexton campus and splashing corporate names all over the place. It looks great, truly.

One part of that renovation project was rebuilding the facade of Building D, which somehow has managed not to be rebranded as the Shell Building or some such, although it does also go by the name A.L. MacDonald Building. I have no idea who A.L. is or was, but I’m guessing they are or were filthy rich.

Anyway, Dalhousie hired RCS Construction to oversee the work, and RCS in turn subcontracted out the installation of glazing, cladding, and a curtain wall on Building D to Alumitech Architectural Glass & Metal LTD.

Problem is, Alumitech says it hasn’t been paid the $384,666 it is owed for the work. And so the company has asked the court to put a builders lien on Building D, such that should the building ever be sold, the proceeds of the sale must satisfy the debt.

It’s unlikely, of course, that Building D will ever be sold, but A.L. MacDonald must be having a fit, assuming A.L. is alive; otherwise, A.L. is probably spinning in their grave.

Both RCS Construction and Alumitech have operations in the Atlantic Acres Industrial Park in Bedford, just around the corner from each other (Google Maps tells me they’re 600 meters apart). Their presidents, Doug Doucet and Norsat Eblaghi respectively, could carpool together, if corporate execs did things like carpool.

Back in 2012, RCS Construction sued the Seaport Farmers Market for the $221,880.12 it says it was owed for building the waterfront building. Reported the CBC:

Doucet said his company did get a cheque to cover part of the bill just couple of months ago. But in his 25 years of construction in Halifax, he said he’s never seen anything like it.

“I can tell you this is my worst experience, most unprofessional experience, in dealing with a client and it was very frustrating,” he said.

“It was obvious to us at the end of the day that the client really was over their head in this build.”

So I guess Doucet is playing both sides of the creditor/debtor game too.

As for Alumnitech, last year it was the subject of a CBC article about the cladding put on the Gordon B. Isnor Manor retirement home in Halifax — “The panels, called Reynobond PE, are the same type used on Grenfell Tower in London, England,” wrote reporter Jack Julian:

The president of Alumitech, the Bedford company that supplied the cladding to Avondale Construction, said his company is a contractor and supplies any product that is requested.

“Nine years ago, there were no issues with this product whatsoever,” said Norsat Eblaghi.

“This is a very painful situation, and it has been for the past few months.”

Eblaghi said the decision to use Reynobond PE was made when mockup panels were first applied to the side of the building.

He said the decision was made after discussions among representatives of Alumitech, Avondale and the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority.

“There are engineers involved, there are architects involved, there’s a whole bunch of professionals who chose this material,” he said.

Eblaghi declined to comment further on the advice of his lawyers.

But he said, “this is a very simple issue and should be shared with [the] public.”

Sometimes I think of the goofballs I went to high school with, and I realize that many of them grew up to be corporate executives. This terrifies me.

6. Woodlots

“Twelve organizations representing more than 2,000 small private woodlot owners in Nova Scotia are endorsing all the recommendations of a recent independent review of forestry practices,” reports Sherri Borden Colley for the CBC:

University of King’s College president Bill Lahey carried out the yearlong review and presented it to the Nova Scotia government last month.

One of the report’s key recommendations is that the province should adopt a “triad model.” That would mean a total ban on logging in some areas, high-production forestry that includes clear cutting in other areas, and a “lighter touch” in harvesting when it comes to remaining forests.

Andy Kekacs, the executive director of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners & Operators Association, called the endorsement a significant development.

“I think it’s the first time in the history of Nova Scotia that so many groups who work with small woodland owners have spoken with one voice on an issue of provincial policy,” Kekacs said.

David Patriquin captures more nuanced discussion on the Woods and Waters Nova Scotia Facebook page.

7. Beg buttons, an exchange

Click here to see the entire exchange.

I’ve asked @hfxgov about the need to use beg buttons at crosswalks on the peninsula and apparently it’s “the standard” after 7pm. I’m hoping @WayeMason and @LindellSmithHFX can change this. pic.twitter.com/1FY7bnE2Dz

— Jeff Blair (@jeffbblair) September 6, 2018

8. Gottingen Street bus lane

The city this morning issued a tender offer for construction of the Gottingen Street bus lane. You can see the detailed plans here.

9. Icescape rebuilt

It’s great to see the sidewalks being rebuilt around Citadel Hill (I took the photo above yesterday along Bell Road looking towards Sackville Street). Not great: that the opportunity wasn’t taken to put a culvert under the sidewalk.

We go through this every winter; snowmelt runs off the hill and freezes on the sidewalks. The situation is especially dangerous along the Ahern Avenue sidewalk, where what seems to be a natural spring flows from about a quarter way up the hill, turning the sidewalk into a watery or icy mess, depending on the temperature. But all of the sidewalks suffer the same fate. Along Bell Road, little ice dams form, pooling the water ankle deep, such that when walking you’re stepping from slippery ice into puddles, and often into puddles covering ice, which is the worst.

I know it won’t look great, but the solution is to dig a trench on the hill side of the sidewalks and put culverts under the sidewalks every so often so the water runs off into the curb and then to the storm drains. And can we get serious about salting or sanding those sidewalks?

This, after all, is the main north-south pedestrian route between the north end and the Spring Garden Road area. Thousands of people traverse it every day, and yet we ignore the obvious safety and discomfort issues. We shouldn’t stand for it; this should have been addressed decades ago. That it hasn’t been addressed demonstrates just how little this city cares about pedestrians.


Government

City

Cogswell District pop-up – Bedford (Friday, 4pm, Sunnyside Mall) — “Learn about the Cogswell District project. Project staff want to discuss the plan, share information, and get your feedback on the design of public spaces.”

If you go, tell them the whole thing is a waste of time and money if they don’t blow up the casino and the two parking garages.

Province

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

$p$-adic Valuations of Certain Colored Partition Functions (Friday, 3pm, Room 227, Chase Building) — Maciej Ulas from Jagiellonian University, Krakow, will speak. His abstract:

Let $$G(x)=\prod_{n=0}^{\infty}\frac{1}{(1-x^{2^{n}})}$$ be the generating function for the binary partition function. For each $m\in\mathbb{N}_{+}$, the $n$-th coefficient in the power series expansion $$G(x)^{m}=\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}b_{m}(n)x^{n}$$ counts the number of representations of the integer $n$ as a sum of powers of two, where each summand can have one among $m$ colors.

In the first part of the talk, we present the exact value of the 2-adic valuation of the number $b_{m}(n)$, with $m=2^{s}-1$, – a result which generalizes the well known expression concerning the 2-adic valuation of the values of the binary partition function introduced by Euler and studied by Churchhouse and others.

Next, we consider the power series $F(x)=\frac{1}{1-x}G(x)$, which represents the generating function of the number of binary partitions of even integers. Then, for given $m\in\mathbb{Z}$ we work with the sequence $(c_{m}(n))_{n\in\mathbb{N}}$, where $$F(x)^{m}=\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}c_{m}(n)x^{n}.$$

The number $c_{m}(n), m\in\mathbb{N}_{+}$ has, a natural combinatorial interpretation too. It counts the number of binary representations of $n$ such that the part equal to $1$ can have one among $2m$ colors and other parts can be colored by $m$ colors. We show that for each $m\in\mathbb{Z}\setminus\{0\}$, the sequence $(\nu_{2}(c_{m}(n)))_{n\in\mathbb{N}}$ is bounded. In fact, for $m$ even, we have $\nu_{2}(c_{m}(n))=\nu_{2}(m)+1$ for $n\geq 1$. Moreover, for $m$ odd and $n\in\mathbb{N}_{+}$ we have $\nu_{2}(c_{m}(n))\in\{1,\nu_{2}(m+1)+1\}$.

Finally, we describe some results concerning colored $p$ – ary partitions and state several questions and conjectures.

2018 Summer Student Research Scholars’ Poster Presentations (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1020, Kenneth Rowe Building) — from the event description:

Imhotep’s Legacy Academy (ILA), in partnership with the Dalhousie University faculties of engineering, health, science, and medicine, provides $6,500 and $5,000 scholarships to university students of African heritage to conduct summer research under the supervision of a DAL faculty researcher. Student researchers will present posters detailing their intriguing summer activity.

RSVP by September 4, 2018 to admin.imhotep@dal.ca

Saint Mary’s

#callresponse (Friday, 8pm, SMU Art Gallery) — from the event listing:

This show begins with a series of five local art commissions by Indigenous women and artists whose home territories are located in the Canadian nation state, including Christi Belcourt, Maria Hupfield, Ursula Johnson, Tania Willard, and Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory. Shining a light on work that is both urgent and long-term, #callresponse is structured as a connective support system that strategically centres Indigenous women across multiple platforms.


In the harbour

5:30am: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship with up to 540 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Charlottetown
6am: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algeciras, Spain (schedule)
9am: USS Arleigh Burke, U.S. guided missile destroyer, arrives at Dockyard
9:30am: Insignia, cruise ship with up to 800 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor
1:30pm: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
3pm: Augusta Unity, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Rio Haina, Dominica Republic
4:30pm: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
5pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
10pm: Insignia, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for St. George, Bermuda


Footnotes

I gotta run.

Tim Bousquet

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

Join the Conversation

3 Comments

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. Wark wrong? According to the Kaufman Report the Training Centre was closed by 1997 – I think it actually shut its doors in 1996.

  2. Re: Gottingen bus lane
    We’re trying to do too much with too little. These streets are obsolete – way too narrow and dangerous. What we need is more off street parking, LRT, double decker buses and a creative system of one way streets.