News

1. COVID-19

Photo by Georg Eiermann on Unsplash

Two new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Nova Scotia yesterday (Thursday, Jan. 21).

Both cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Northern Zone — one is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada; the second is connected to École acadienne de Truro, a pre-primary to grade 12 school in Truro. The school case came in after the reporting deadline and so won’t appear on the province’s COVID dashboard until later today.

There are 22 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital with the disease.

The active cases are distributed as follows:

• 8 in the Halifax Peninsula / Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 3 in the Bedford / Sackville Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 5 in the Colchester / East Hants Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 1 in the Cumberland Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 3 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 active case in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network in the Western Zone

Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 1,589 tests Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, 9,827 doses of vaccine have been administered. Of those, 2,696 people have received their second dose.

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:

Here is the possible exposure map:

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2. North Street

A rendering of Mosaik Properties’ proposal for the corner of Oxford and North streets shows that the developer intends to remove the traffic lights at the intersection, put the utility wires underground, and tear down the church across the street.. Photo: Paul Skerry Architects

“Three people who live near the corner of Oxford and North streets are appealing the municipality’s approval of a development proposal for the site where a developer started demolition before every tenant had moved out,” reports Zane Woodford:

At its meeting next week, Halifax regional council’s Regional Centre Community Council is scheduled to hear the appeal of the decision to approve Mosaik Properties’ plan for a seven-storey, 128-unit residential building on the site of Ardmore Hall — 6399, 6395 and 6389 North St., with frontage on North, Oxford, and Seaforth Streets.

This is the same property where Mosaik Properties, owned by George Giannoulis, started demolition before one of its tenants had moved out of the building.

The Chronicle Herald first reported on the incident, following other instances of the developer trying to push the tenant out. Giannoulis denied it in an email to the Examiner writing, “Contrary to the report in the Chronicle Herald, I can assure you that no one was living in that building during the demolition.” But the municipality, which gave the developer a demolition permit on Sep. 25, 2020, sent a news release last week confirming there was a tenant still living there when demolition began.

Click here to read “Neighbours appeal approval of Halifax development where demolition started before eviction was complete.”

There will be a COVID update at 1pm today.

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3. Edibles

Cannabis-infused vegetarian bolognese. Photo: Dan Robichaud

“The pandemic has housebound Canadians spending more time in their kitchens, and it turns out an increasing number aren’t just baking bread,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

They’re baking with bud.

A recent poll conducted by Dalhousie University suggests that since the start of the pandemic, 11.2% of Canadians have made their own cannabis edibles for the first time.

Click here to read “Stirring the pot: more Canadians cooking with cannabis during pandemic.”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

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4. Karen Casey to retire

Karen Casey

Deputy Premier Karen Casey, who is MLA for Colchester North and the minister of Finance, announced yesterday that she will not run for reelection in the next provincial election.

Casey was first elected as a PC MLA in 2006, and crossed the floor to the Liberals in January 2011.

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5. Racism at WalMart

April Lawton says her husband was racially profiled at the Mumford Walmart. We’ve attempted to contact Lawton, and may have more later.

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6. Racism at Dal

So the JRJ #ChairChat got zoom bombed as i said in an earlier tweet. i didnt think to take a pic of those in the waiting room wanting to jump in and join the bomb, or those already in the call bombing… nor did i record the racist, misogynist, homophobic trash that folks said https://t.co/7dNGxUXoEn

— JRJChairBlackCanadianStudies (@JRJCHAIR) January 20, 2021

On Wednesday, Dr. OmiSoore Dryden hosted a “chair chat” via Zoom for Black students in health studies, an event that was intended to be a safe and supportive conversation.

Instead, it was “bombed” by racists. In a Twitter thread, Dryden said that although she can’t be certain it was people associated with Dalhousie who intruded, this was the first such chair chat that was invaded, and it was also the first chat that was advertised across campus.

Yesterday, Dal president Deep Saini issued a statement:

Dalhousie University is deeply disturbed to learn that Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, the James R. Johnson Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Faculty of Medicine, and event participants were subject to anti-Black racist comments and other slurs during an online event Wednesday evening.
The statements made during the online session were abhorrent, unwelcome and fundamentally against Dalhousie’s values. We value our diverse community. These actions are reprehensible and Dalhousie University unequivocally condemns these cowardly acts of anti-Black racism.
Equally concerning is that the session was a “Chair Chat,” one of a series hosted by Dr. Dryden to provide safe space for Black students in Medicine, Health and Graduate Studies. It is deeply troubling that what was supposed to be a safe space for our employees and our students was violated by anti-Black racism and other unacceptable comments.
The Dalhousie community stands with Dr. Dryden, the students and all those affected by this incident and condemns all forms of racism and discrimination in the strongest terms. We will continue to focus on strengthening our resilience, resistance and efforts moving forward.
In recent months, remote environments have demonstrated challenges in ensuring safe spaces for everyone. Our Information Technology Services staff and Dalhousie Security Services are currently looking into the comments that were made to see if the individuals involved are identifiable. We continue to work to ensure that we provide inclusive, safe spaces to the best of our abilities. We encourage anyone affected by these events to reach out to the university for available resources and supports.
For faculty, staff and students, we encourage those who need it to reach out to our colleagues in Human Rights and Equity Services for support at 902-494-6672 and Dal.ca/HRES. Students may also find support through Dalhousie’s Student Health & Wellness Centre, committed to providing quality primary and mental health care services. Appointments may be booked online or by calling 902-494-2171. Employee and Family Assistance is also available for confidential support at 1-800-387-4765 or http://workhealthlife.com

7. Fake cops

The killer’s replica police car. Photo: RCMP

As we all know, last April a man impersonating an RCMP officer killed 22 people across Nova Scotia.

So a press release from the RCMP Wednesday was especially disturbing:

Antigonish RCMP have arrested a 23-year-old man from Antigonish for Impersonation of a Police Officer and seized a vehicle.

Members recently responded to complaints of a suspect driving what looked like an unmarked police vehicle in the Halifax Regional Municipality and Antigonish County. Police believe that the suspect may have used this mock police vehicle to pull over other vehicles.

The RCMP arrested the suspect without incident at a residence in Antigonish and seized a vehicle matching the description. The suspect has been released from custody on conditions and will appear in Antigonish Provincial Court on March 24, 2021 at 9:30 a.m.

Antigonish RCMP believe that there may be additional unreported incidents where this vehicle was used to attempt to pull people over between the areas of Halifax and Antigonish. The seized vehicle can be described as a white 2013 Ford Taurus with reflective striping along both sides with a microphone attached to the dashboard, LED lights and a black push bar mounted on the grill.

If members of the public have seen this vehicle and know of an incident of this nature, please contact Cst. Trevor Arsenault at Antigonish Detachment, 902-863-6500.

The fake police car RCMP seized this week, after a collision and after the striping was removed. Photo: RCMP

Last March, a month before the mass murders, I wrote about yet another look-alike police car used in a crime spree:

On January 3, a couple and their 10-year-old son were driving down Lucasville Road, going the speed limit and otherwise minding their own business, when they were passed on a solid yellow line by a Ford Crown Victoria. The car was distinctive: it was white, but had a black hood and black trunk.

After they were passed, the driver of the Crown Vic held started waving an assault-style rifle out the window, apparently in an attempt to scare the family.

That, anyway, is the allegation made by RCMP Corporal Andy Bezanson in court documents obtained by the Halifax Examiner.

Bezanson sent out an email to all the cops saying, hey, look out for the white Crown Vic with black hood and trunk, and if you see it, detain the driver. RCMP Constable Dustyn Durette emailed back to say that back in December, he tried to stop the same car while it was going “150-200 km/hr” on Hammonds Plains Road. Durette smartly decided it’d be too much of a danger to chase the car.

The day after Bezanson sent the email, Constable Adam Melo, who works in a plain clothes unit, happened to see a white Crown Vic with a black hood parked in the parking lot of Alexandra’s Pizza on Hammonds Plains Road “as if it was conducting speed radar.” But alas, Melo hadn’t yet read Bezanson’s email, so didn’t know to interrogate the driver.

The “as if conducting speed radar” is interesting because Crown Vics are very often used as police cars, and are often painted white with black hoods and trunks, like this 2005 Crown Vic, which is being sold as surplus in Alabama for just $4,850:

… I first thought that the owner of the Crown Vic harassing people on Lucasville Road probably bought the car at a police auction. But later in Bezanson’s narrative, I read that the 2008 Crown Vic was painted white, but the hood and the trunk of the car were “painted in a messy black thick paint,” as if the owner splashed house paint or some such on it to make it look like a police car.

So three times in the last year, violent men have been found driving look-alike police cars in Nova Scotia. We have a problem.

Yesterday, Brett Ruskin reported for the CBC that:

Nine months after a gunman used a replica police vehicle during a deadly shooting rampage in Nova Scotia, the federal government is suspending the sale of all surplus RCMP vehicles.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the moratorium takes effect immediately.

But of course they won’t be able to outlaw the Ford Tauruses or Crown Vics, so people will still be able to paint cars to look like police cars.

Justice Minister Mark Furey, himself a former RCMP officer, told reporters yesterday that he will introduce legislation to outlaw the use of second-hand police equipment.

Furey additionally said the public has the right to ask for identification of any police officer — badge and service number. “They have the right to satisfy themselves that the person stopping them is in fact a police officer.”

Of course, that would have provided no safety for Heather O’Brien or Kristen Beaton, victims in the April tragedy who were apparently “pulled over” by the murderer. And surely Furey must know that in the real world police officers do not take kindly to people demanding their credentials.

I wrote about the fake cop problem in two posts soon after the mass murders, and it’s worth reposting those today:

[I]mpersonating cops is nothing new, and it’s long been associated with people who are violent. Examiner contributor Evelyn White points me to a 2011 New York Times article, “In Florida, Criminals Pose as Police More Frequently and for More Violent Ends,” by reporter

As long as police officers have worn uniforms and carried badges, criminals have dressed like them to try to win the trust of potential victims. Now the impersonators are far more sophisticated, according to nearly a dozen city police chiefs and detectives across the country.

In South Florida, seemingly an incubator of law-breaking innovation, police impersonators have become better organized and, most troubling to law enforcement officials, more violent. The practice is so common that the Miami-Dade Police Department has a Police Impersonator Unit.

Since the unit was established in 2007, it has arrested or had encounters with more than 80 phony officers in Miami-Dade County, and the frequency has increased in recent months, said Lt. Daniel Villanueva, who heads the unit.

“It’s definitely a trend,” Lieutenant Villanueva said. “They use the guise of being a police officer to knock on a door, and the victim lowers their guard for just a second. At that point, it’s too late.”

Some police impersonators commit violent crimes like home invasions, car-jackings, rapes and, rarely, murders.

Last summer, a Tampa man impersonating an undercover officer used a badge and a siren to pull over a 28-year-old woman and rape her. In January, the man, Luis Harris, 31, was convicted of sexual battery, grand theft, kidnapping and impersonating a police officer, among other charges. A judge sentenced Mr. Harris to life in prison.

Other police impersonators, police chiefs and detectives say, masquerade as officers for more benign reasons, like trying to scare or impress someone. “Usually,” Detective Baez said, “the wannabe cop outfits their vehicles with police lights and fake insignias to fulfill some psychological need.”

I’ve come across this 2013 article in the Guelph Mercury about Ontario Justice Norman Douglas convicting a man named Dale Smart of impersonating a cop, but downplaying the crime:

Douglas said it’s a serious infraction when people impersonate police, noting Smart’s elaborate uniform when discovered some time after midnight on June 6, 2012.

He said it’s not illegal to impersonate others.

“Some people impersonate Elvis,” said the judge, a well-known Presley imitator.

“He went to a lot of effort to look like a peace officer,” Douglas said. But he said Smart didn’t have a Criminal Code record and wants to further his education. Douglas added there was no indication police sense Smart is a danger.

“I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Douglas said in deciding not to jail him.

Impersonating a cop is illegal in Canada. Section 130(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada reads:

Personating peace officer

Everyone commits an offence who
(a) falsely represents himself to be a peace officer or a public officer; or
(b) not being a peace officer or public officer, uses a badge or article of uniform or equipment in a manner that is likely to cause persons to believe that he is a peace officer or a public officer, as the case may be.

Violation is punishable with up to five years in prison.

People smarter than me can explore why violent and murderous people sometimes have the psychological need to identify as cops, but I don’t think it’s as simple as “it lets me get away with stuff.”

But this is not just some “Florida Man” thing; it happens everywhere in North America.

New York Times reporter Don Van Natta Jr. related one story from Chicago:

This happened in Chicago when a 14-year-old boy named Vincent Richardson donned police garb and walked into the Third District precinct during morning roll call in January 2009. Officers handed him a radio and told him to ride along with a female officer. The teenager even helped make an arrest.

“After four or five hours, she asks, ‘Who is this guy?’” recalled Jody P. Weis, who was the Chicago police superintendent at the time. “He’s in a uniform, he has a goofy badge, he doesn’t have a weapon and he’s a high school kid. It was so embarrassing.” (The embarrassment did not end there for Mr. Weis, who said he had recommended against punishing the teenager in juvenile court because no harm had been done. Three months later, the boy was arrested and charged with stealing a car. Last week, he was arrested on several weapons charges.)

Last night, Philip Moscovitch alerted me to this article from Chris Halliday, a reporter with the Orangeville (Ontario) Banner:

The OPP has “no idea” why there are people pretending to be police officers and stopping motorists to check their essential worker status during the coronavirus pandemic.

Police have released details about two separate and unrelated incidents with different suspects and vehicles occurring in Fergus and Puslinch on April 14 and 17 respectively. A-25-year-old Puslinch man has been arrested in connection to the April 17 incident.

The OPP is advising the public that police are not conducting random traffic stops to check motorists’ work status during the COVID-19 pandemic, nor are drivers required to prove they are an essential worker to police.

I’m reminded that the Halifax police department may have added to the confusion when it issued these tweets on April 12:

In response, privacy lawyer David Fraser reminded people that the health orders do not make “recreational travel” illegal. Fraser continued:

If you are pulled over driving a car, you have an obligation to provide your license, your vehicle registration and your proof of insurance. You have no obligation to provide any other information. You can say “I don’t talk to the police.”

If you are a passenger in the car that has been pulled over arbitrarily, you have NO obligation to answer any questions of the officer or to provide ID or proof of where you live. You can say “I don’t talk to the police.”

Halliday, the reporter at the Orangeville Banner, relates advice the OPP offers:

• If you feel you’re being stopped by someone impersonating a police officer and fear for your safety, call 911 and provide your location.
• Do not get out of vehicle.
• Lock your door.
• Crack your window low enough to pass your licence and registration.
• Ask the officer for further identification (i.e., badge).
• Ask them to call dispatch on their radio in front of you to verify that the officer is not fake. Ask for another officer to attend that location.

Other points to consider when being pulled over include:

• Slow down, put four-ways on or signal to let the officer know you see them. Drive to a well-lit area with people around if possible.
• Be observant: Is the officer wearing a full police uniform or a plain clothes officer with a badge? Is he or she professional looking as opposed to unkempt?
• What does the police vehicle look like? Is the cruiser equipped with proper emergency equipment or does it look old, broken down or like something bought at a police auction?

Yes, it sucks that police officers now have the additional burden of people suspecting that they aren’t even actual police, but such is the world we live in.

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Government

No meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Friday

Reviewing a 1960s Mi’kmaq Ribbon Skirt: Reclamation, Resilience, Resistance (Friday, 12pm) — a Dalhousie Feminist Seminar Series online captioned event with Lisa Binkley, who is

Anishinaabeg-Algonquin and settler, and an Assistant Professor in the History Dept. Her work focuses on Indigenous and settler textiles as material culture, and repatriation. She has published on settler and Indigenous quilts, Haudenosaunee quilts and public exhibitions, Star blankets and critical Indigenous heritage. She is currently part of three SSHRC-funded projects that explore a disruption of the Western literary and art historical canons through Indigenous perspectives, Climate Grief, and the examination of textiles and architecture through augmented reality. She is working on two new projects. A research project that aims to decolonize and remap the fur trade route through an interrogation of handmade footwear. A partnership with the Mi’kmawey Debert Centre that aims to repatriate, digitize, and share community histories and knowledges.

Screenshot from Belly of the Beast

Belly of the Beast: Forced Sterilizations in Prisons (Saturday) — Watch the film starting Saturday, and then on Wednesday, Jan 27, join in for a panel discussion with Alisa Lombard from the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, and Emilie Coyle, lead counsel on a proposed class action pertaining to the forced sterilization of Indigenous women in Saskatchewan. Info, trailer, and links here.

Saint Mary’s

Friday

IPBES & Biodiversity – Something new or more of the same? (Friday, 12pm) — a special webinar celebrating the 25th anniversary of Environmental Science at Saint Mary’s. Jake Rice will talk about the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and its efforts to address declines in biodiversity.

King’s

Friday

9th Annual Conference of the Early Modern (Friday, 6pm) — Zoom conference with keynote lecture by Karen Detlefsen from the University of Pennsylvania; starting Saturday at 11am, students will present papers covering topics from the 15th to 18th centuries, with a guest lecture by Lindsay Reid, National University of Ireland Galway. Details and registration here.


In the harbour

05:30: Taipei Trader, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
06:00: MSC Poh Lin, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Sines, Portugal
06:15: MSC Elena, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
10:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
15:30: Goodwood, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
16:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
18:30: MSC Poh Lin sails for New York


Footnotes

I’ll be live-blogging today’s COVID briefing at 1pm, via my Twitter account.

Please subscribe, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

Tim Bousquet

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

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12 Comments

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  1. Tim.. thought perhaps I’d missed one of the three times in the last year that violent men have been driving look-alike police cars; so took another look see. Are you saying that the 23-year-old man from Antigonish is one of the violent men? If so, then you should make a retraction, unless you have evidence that this young man is violent.

    CBC reported: “In the Antigonish case, there is no indication the 23-year-old suspect was going to attack or harm anyone, police said.“ Cpl. Mark Skinner who speaks for the Nova Scotia RCMP said: ”I don’t think there is significant ill intent or anything of that nature, it’s just simply the impersonation related issue we’re looking into.” Skinner also said the 23-year-old has no prior criminal history.

  2. As I understand, “Personating a Peace Officer” (s. 130 Criminal Code Canada) is a hybrid offence, which means it can be tried as an indictable offence or summary offence at the discretion of the Crown.

    Personating peace officer

    130 (1) Everyone commits an offence who

    (a) falsely represents himself to be a peace officer or a public officer; or

    (b) not being a peace officer or public officer, uses a badge or article of uniform or equipment in a manner that is likely to cause persons to believe that he is a peace officer or a public officer, as the case may be.

    Punishment

    (2) Everyone who commits an offence under subsection (1)

    (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or

    (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction

    Punishment on summary conviction

    787 (1) Unless otherwise provided by law, every person who is convicted of an offence punishable on summary conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 or to a term of imprisonment of not more than two years less a day, or to both.

    Aggravating circumstance

    130.1 If a person is convicted of an offence under section 130 [personating peace officer], the court imposing the sentence on the person shall consider as an aggravating circumstance the fact that the accused personated a peace officer or a public officer, as the case may be, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of another offence.

  3. Re Tim’s conclusion: “Yes, it sucks that police officers now have the additional burden of people suspecting that they aren’t even actual police, but such is the world we live in.” I don’t see it that way. From where I sit, it sucks that people now have the additional burden of suspecting that real cops might be fake cops, given that the real cops are a burden — especially for black and indigenous people, not to mention women!

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more, Barbara Amero. Police impersonators should get automatic and immediate two at least years prison sentence with no legal recourse. In case this impersonator thing is contagious, it’s a problem sure, for police but quadruple that for everyone else especially Black drivers already on REAL police radar. That’s the world we live in

      1. I don’t agree with you that someone impersonating a police officer should get an automatic at least two years prison sentence. Nor necessarily any prison sentence. The punishment for wannabe cops impersonating cops who commit no other crime in doing so should be different than for those impersonating cops who rob or rape, and different for those who impersonate cops and commit mass murder. As the saying goes, the punishment should fit the crime.

        I imagine people have been impersonating police officers since there was such a thing as a police officer. For the past 3 or 4 years, I’ve been reading about incidents of impersonating police officers in Alberta, Ontario, and BC. The actual incidence of impersonating police officers is unknown. Why we have been hearing about such incidents more often probably reflects that the public has become more aware of this problem and are therefore reporting it to police. I think it’s safe to say the public is more alert to this problem since the NS mass murder.

  4. I guess I missed the bit where the 23 year old from Antigonish was violent.

    And Walmart seriously needs to require some racial sensitivity training.

    1. I’m guessing your comment about having missed the bit is sarcastic? RCMP didn’t mention that the man from Antigonish is violent. We shouldn’t assume that he is violent, since not all men who impersonate police officers are violent. I’m not aware of any women in Canada impersonating police officers, but have read news reports of women in US doing so. In Fort Worth, Texas, a white woman dubbed “Swing Set Susan” was charged with impersonating a police officer to chase Hispanic teens off a playground. She was verbally violent. She had also been charged some days earlier for assaulting a family member

      Based on news reports of Walmart incidents, I think requiring some racial sensitivity training for those Walmart employees would likely be as effective as Trump taking any kind of sensitivity training.

    1. I doubt she worries about ‘what is coming’ – (probably another Liberal victory). If you fancy 15 years as an MLA put your name on the ballot and meet the public.

      1. Plenty of Conservatives and Republicans don’t mind losing. They avoid having to actually do anything, and can blame everything on the Democrats/Liberals.

  5. Since impersonating police is already a crime, why do we need to ban reselling police items. The car you pictured still looks like a cop car. Presumably one could take any white ford sedan, put a light kit and some antenna on it and look like a cop – the look has power.

    what the province should be legislating is that police vehicles get a European style blue and yellow hi-vis wrap. The wrap will make the cars looks dorky enough that the folks that think police cars look mean and cool wont do it, 2. police should be highly visible anyway, and 3 the wrap is easy to remove fro the car to be resold after.

    Hi-vis cars probably wouldn’t have stopped GW from pretending, but it would eliminate all these other more casual people who just like the look and power.