News

1. Weather

Graphic: (US) National Hurricane Center

There will be weather this afternoon, and then again Wednesday morning.

It won’t be as bad as it could be, but will still be plenty powerful. As someone once said: charge your devices and order Chinese food.

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2. Expert: GW was not an informant

The mass murderer carrying $475,000 in cash at the Brink’s office in Burnside, on March 30, 2020.

“On Monday, Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie signed an order releasing the next batch of six search warrant documents related to the RCMP’s investigation of the mass murders of April 18 and 19,” I reported last night:

[A]n employee with CIBC’s Corporate Security explained the Brink’s withdrawal of $475,000. On March 20, GW “liquidated some of his assets by cashing in GICs that were purchased in 2017 and received $400,000. He deposited that money in his business account.

Five days later, on March 25, GW “redeemed some investments and received $75,000.” He also placed that money in the business account. The same day, he spoke with the branch manager at the Portland Street CIBC branch and requested that he be given $475,000 in cash, in hundred dollar bills. “Arrangements were made” to provide the cash through Brink’s, which was done five days later.

The regional director of corporate security with Brink’s Canada confirmed the transaction was arranged by CIBC, as did an employee at the Burnside Brink’s office.

“That shows that he wasn’t being paid because he was an RCMP informant,” [financial expert Jessica] Davis told the Examiner. “That Maclean’s story is all wrong.”

“This struck me as simply a small town transaction,” said Davis. The bank didn’t have that kind of money in its vault, so they made the transfer through Brink’s.”

Click here to read “Financial expert: newly released documents show mass murderer was not an RCMP informant.”

I’m already being criticized for this article, as I guess I’m some sort of uncritical spewer of RCMP propaganda or some such.

I of course have been very critical of the RCMP. I’ve documented the illegal and definitely criminal destruction of evidence in the Assoun case. I’ve pointed out that RCMP has flat out lied in press releases. The Examiner early on documented the multiple failures in the response to the mass murders.

But documenting other RCMP failures isn’t enough to make unsupported allegations that GW was an RCMP informant. That’s just irresponsible.

Do I think GW being an informant is possible? Sure. I’m never surprised by the depths of malfeasance that police can fall to. And, there are multiple documented instances of RCMP informants who engaged in criminality, including murder. So it’s possible.

Still, you need proof. And no, “you have no proof here wasn’t an informant” is not how this works. It’s impossible to prove a negative — that there’s no dog in heaven, that Bigfoot isn’t stalking the back woods of Kejimujik, that spies from an alien world have not infiltrated our government. If you’re going to make extraordinary claims, the duty of proof rests with you, not the doubters.

Would we accept a Crown prosecutor telling a jury, “hey, I don’t have any actual evidence here, but you can’t prove that this guy didn’t commit the murder, therefore you must convict”? (Unfortunately, too often, exactly that argument is accepted, but it shouldn’t be.)

Likewise, we can stretch the claim: GW bought the GICs in 2017 with money he was paid by the RCMP to be an informant. Well, maybe, I guess, but then the claim has morphed, as originally it was the Brink’s transfer itself was supposedly proof of an RCMP payment. And if it ever is demonstrated that GW bought the GICs in 2017 with, say, money he received from selling property, we can theorize that the property was the source of RCMP payments.

It reminds me how Medieval philosophers kept making increasingly complex celestial spheres — planets were first in a single sphere, but when the ever more detailed observations couldn’t be explained by the single sphere, they added a “nested sphere” which spun around a fixed point on the single sphere. Then, a second, and even a third nested sphere was added so as to explain the motions within a perfectly circular (because Dog loves perfect circles) design. That is: every bit of new evidence had to be fitted into the unquestionable ideological framework. It took centuries before philosophers understood that it was that framework itself that was the problem, not the complexity of fully invented spheres and nested spheres.

I say this as someone who regularly works on hunches — sometimes outrageous hunches. I’ve had many seemingly implausible ideas that I’ve investigated. The vast majority never pan out, but every now and then I hit pay dirt (the Peter Kelly story, for example, although the true story was different than my original hunch). It’s not enough to have a hunch; I have to have evidentiary proof to support the hunch.

That said, the RCMP has mostly itself to blame for the existence of counter narratives. That’s because for no reason at all, they’ve kept these search warrant documents secret, and into the void falls speculation. You’ll speculate, I’ll speculate, we’ll all speculate.

Even with the release of the documents yestrerday, much of them remain redacted, and senselessly so. Consider this part:

What purpose can redacting the amount of cash found and seized at 200 Portapique Road possibly serve? GW is dead. Everyone knows he had lots of cash.

I can think of only three possible reasons to redact the info. First, the RCMP are trying to obscure their own connection to the money. (I now find that unlikely.) Second, for who knows what reason, the RCMP are trying to frustrate heirs’ and/or victims’ (through the class action lawsuit) claims to what’s left of GW’s assets. (You’ll have to provide me a good theory for why that may be.)

But I think the third possible reason makes the most sense: the RCMP (and the Crown) are simply reflexively secret: secrecy for secrecy’s sake. They determine what is public information and what is not, not for any practical or sensible reason, but simply because they have the power to do so and will exercise it to keep that power.

There are probably secondary reasons for making senseless redactions — it gets media organizations to spend a lot of money they don’t really have (the amount the Examiner has spent for its share of the search warrant lawyer would nearly pay half the salary of a full-time reporter), and occupies a ton of reporters’ time that could be better spent. But I think the prime reason is simply an exercise of power: We do this because we can.

But in such milieu of secrecy, people are going to fill in the blanks best they can, and the very act of secrecy suggests the RCMP is up to no good.

So, basically, the RCMP is too clever by half.

In any event, there’s more to report on about the documents released yesterday; I simply ran out of time last night. I’ll try to get more out today.

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3. Nursing homes

The Northwood nursing home on Gottingen Street in Halifax. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“COVID-19’s remorseless advance through the Northwood facility in Halifax this spring caused 53 deaths, and exposed gaps in a system which is supposed to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

In the wake of those events, the province will spend $26 million over the next year, and $11 million over the following two years, to improve infection control at 133 nursing homes and residential care facilities.

The expenditures are in response to two reports commissioned by the Department of Health to guide its actions in preventing additional deaths during a potential second wave of COVID as well as during annual influenza outbreaks.

The reports’ findings underscored many issues which were already well-known.

Click here to read “Two reports detail problems at Nova Scotia nursing homes that resulted in mass COVID-19 deaths.”

Jennifer Henderson adds this morning:

How Government Controls The Flow of What We Know

Yesterday’s briefing on two reports commissioned by the provincial government to “improve” infection prevention and control at Northwood and all other long-term care homes left a lot to be desired — if you lost a family member to COVID-19 or are curious about the factors which led to the uncontrolled outbreak.

It’s worth re-iterating that the Quality Improvement and Information Protection Act the government chose to conduct the review permits only the release of the 17 recommendations and not the information or interviews on which the two-person panel based their findings. 

It’s also worth noting that journalists received both the Northwood Review report and a 22-page report from registered nurses who examined infection prevention and control procedures at all long-term care facilities just 40 minutes prior to the briefing with the Northwood Review panel. 

Each journalist was then permitted to ask the Panel two questions. This needless restriction means journalists must target their questions to the recommendations that appear (on first blush) most critical….for example, the recommendation requiring homes and the Department of Health to define before an outbreak at what point the loss of staff due to illness will become critical enough to require calling in reinforcements…a lesson learned from the Northwood outbreak where the Emergency Response team arrived nearly two weeks after the first cases emerged and put more than a hundred staff off work.

Another recommendation from the Northwood Review Panel that could be important as we head into flu season and another round with COVID-19 tackles governance or “who’s on first.” If you are operating a nursing home or residential care facility that cares for 8,000 residents in this province, you take your orders during a pandemic from Public Health, the Department of Health which licenses and inspects your home, and the Nova Scotia Health Agency which provides the Infection Prevention and Control guidance and extra staffing you need. It’s not hard to imagine the potential for confusion and frustration, especially if you are already working short-staffed in a stressful situation where locked-out families and volunteers are unavailable and residents are increasingly at risk.

Here is another recommendation from the Review Panel the Halifax Examiner and others may want to pursue with government this week, since it didn’t make the cut during the “two questions” limited-time only briefing.

Recommendation: “Immediately restructure disaster response teams, with clear roles, that supersede obstructive policies in the various Long-term Care legislative acts.” The recommendation goes on to add:

“Outbreak responses were supportive. However, the numerous advisory committees and response teams represented by Nova Scotia Health Authority and Department of Health were confusing and redundant. Adjust Department of Health role to stewardship. Nova Scotia Health Authority currently contains operational and emergency response expertise, and all Infection Prevention and Control expertise. Clarify governance structure of Public Health and Continuing Care.”

It’s unclear what the Review Panel means by “stewardship.” It sounds as if it is recommending the NSHA (which now, confusingly, is called just “Nova Scotia Health”) take the operational reins and the Department of Heath sit in the buggy. Perhaps our email contact at the COVID-19 media line will put us in touch with Drs. Lata and Stevenson. Or perhaps we missed our only opportunity for clarification.

“We agree with the intention of all the recommendations and we are pursuing many of them immediately to ensure our long-term care facilities are even better prepared for a second wave of COVID-19,” said Health Minister Delorey in a prepared statement.

But under the Quality Improvement and Information Protection Act, the 17 recommendations are non-binding, allowing government the freedom to pick and choose which ones it will implement. 

Readers (and journalists) got a better sense of the reason for the Review Panel’s recommendation around governance from reading the report of the nurses tasked with surveying infection prevention and control procedures at the 133 nursing homes and residential care facilities. Here’s an excerpt from that unredacted report: 

  Facilities preferred email as a communication medium over any other as it provided management with the ability to quickly share pertinent information with their staff. The Department of Health and Nova Scotia Health Authority online hubs were also seen as useful tools – with some facilities noting the checking of these hubs became part of their morning routine. While email was seen as most useful and effective, a major detriment was the lack of consistency in messaging that was received. Dept of Health, Public Health, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Health Association of Nova Scotia, and 811 (via phone) all provided their own communication to facilities, and in some cases the difference in messaging was frustrating for those looking for information.”

That said, the IPAC Review also noted the operators of all long-term care homes expressed gratitude for the additional funding and infection control help received during the pandemic from the Department of Health, NSHA, and IWK and other partners. In health care, it’s never a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you.

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4. Defund the police

“Halifax’s board of police commissioners voted Monday to appoint El Jones to propose a committee to define defunding the police, and Jones hopes to turn that into an opportunity for more public input at the board,” reports Zane Woodford:

It’s the culmination of months of debate at the board over how to approach the issue of defunding the police — whether by developing a definition itself, using one supplied to it in a presentation, or appointing a committee to do so.

At its meeting on Monday, the board passed the following motion from chair Natalie Borden:

That the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners appoint El Jones to develop a proposal, for the Board’s review and approval, on the composition of a Committee to recommend a definition of defunding the police and investments to support communities and public safety.

“My recommendation to appoint El Jones really comes from her work as a community activist,” Borden said.

“I think that defunding is at its heart a community movement. The challenge for us is it has many different interpretations, everything from abolishing the police on upwards.”

Borden said she wants a community perspective and a “new way of doing things.”

“I think involving El Jones and the contacts that she has in the community will give us the information that we need to move forward,” she said.

Click here to read “Halifax police board votes to appoint El Jones to develop committee defining defunding.”

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5. Car trunk

An RCMP release:

On September 19 at 10:40 a.m., one man saw another man place a small child in the trunk of a vehicle at a strip mall in Yarmouth. The child was placed in the trunk and left there unattended while the man was inside a store. The man came out of the store a short time later and removed the child from the trunk and put her in the back seat of the car. The witness called police, and he confronted the man with a firearm he retrieved from his vehicle. He tried to keep the man from leaving with the child before police arrived but was unsuccessful. The entire interaction was captured on surveillance video.

Police arrested the witness for firearms offences. He was taken to the detachment for processing. RCMP made inquiries to locate the man and child, and found them in Yarmouth County. The man was arrested and taken to Yarmouth RCMP. The man and child are known to each other and the child was in the man’s care at the time of the incident.

The man, a 33-year-old from Yarmouth, was released on conditions and is facing charges of:

  • Criminal Negligence

· Abandonment

· Forcible Confinement

The witness, a 19-year-old man from Yarmouth, was released on conditions and is facing charges of:

  • Careless Use of a Firearm

· Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose

· Using a Firearm in the Commission of an Offence

Additional charges may follow. Both men will appear in Yarmouth Provincial Court on December 7, 2020. The investigation is ongoing.

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Government

City

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am) — virtual meeting. Agenda here.

Wednesday

Community Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am) — virtual meeting; agenda here.

Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm) — virtual meeting; agenda here.

Regional Centre Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm) — virtual meeting; agenda here.

Province

No meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Live Streaming in a Digital World (Tuesday, 8pm) — Don Ross and Brooke Miller will demonstrate how to set up a livestream, followed by a livestreamed concert on Wednesday evening at 8pm. More info here.

Wednesday

Caregiver Support Group (Wednesday, 12pm) — online session led by Janice Macinnis. More info and registration here.

Lipid metabolism and cell death in the cardiomyocyte (Wednesday, 4pm) — Jennifer Shepherd from Gonzaga University, Washington, will give this online seminar. Contact here to receive the link.

Innovation, passion and dedication: a conversation with George Armoyan (Wednesday, 6:30pm) — where he’ll “explore his most pivotal moments” and offer “valuable, actionable advice.” Oh boy. More info and registration here.

Live Streaming in a Digital World (Wednesday, 8pm) — livestreamed concert with Don Ross and Brooke Miller. More info here.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Prototyping workshop (Tuesday, 4pm) — an interactive webinar. More info and registration here.

Wednesday

Navigating the Library Catalogue (Wednesday, 4:30pm) — online webinar. More info and link here.


In the harbour

Given the high seas associated with Teddy, ships are avoiding Halifax Harbour today.


Footnotes

I’ve been under the weather, with non-COVID symptoms. Feeling a bit better this morning, but still not 100%. So, skimpy Morning File, and I’m going back to bed.

So this is the worst possible time to urge you to subscribe, but we really need the money right now.

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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5 Comments

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  1. why are you only using [GW]’s initials? I am still saying his name in my brain.
    It makes for easier reading if you type the whole name out.

    1. Because there are lots of disturbed people out there who google his name for perverse reasons, and those people are possibly copycats. I don’t want them on my site.

      1. Good for you. I wish more News Organizations and sites followed that same practice going forward for these shooter types.

        Denying them that fame and publicity is one of the best ways to fight then and their attention-seeking plans for destruction of other’s lives. 😐

  2. A skimpy Morning File is better than no Morning File, so this subscriber is happy. Once again there is lots to read and digest as I wait for Teddy to arrive. The following are my initial comments.

    Feel better, Tim.

    I have my flashlight & spare batteries, vodka soda, peanut butter M&Ms & sriracha cashews, books and yarn, so I’m almost ready – just have to get my devices fully charged.

    Keep working on getting un-redacted information on GW.

    So very thankful my aging father is able to age in place at his home. As mentioned, our senior citizens deserve AT MINIMUM their own room and bathroom.

    I am learning about El Jones from this site and think she is an excellent choice!

    Stay safe everyone and I’ll be back for tomorrow’s edition.