News

1. South Shore bus service

From @MaritimeBus1 on September 10: “Our first passengers ready to board our newest route in #Lunenburg #NovaScotia”

“Starting this week,” writes Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler, “Maritime Bus now offers three trips  day, seven days a week, from Halifax to south shore destinations like Chester, Bridgewater, and Lunenburg.”

And hopefully, the provincial and municipal governments involved will get on board with promoting the heck out of this pilot project. They are off to a rocky start on that front. Mystifyingly, my emails to the province this summer came back with, “nothing to formally announce yet” replies, and there was a provincial communications embargo on the project until a launch event on Monday at 10am, which is the same day the service launched. You gotta wonder how many people had any idea there were now three buses a day connecting the south shore.

Click here to read “Three buses a day now connect Halifax and the South Shore. Let’s make sure the service works.”

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2. Fracking

Gerard Lucyshyn of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. Photo: Joan Baxter

“About 200 people gathered last evening in Pugwash, filling the Northumberland Community Curling Club for a debate framed around the resolution ‘fracking will be beneficial to Cumberland County,’” writes Joan Baxter.

Baxter went to the debate and reports on the back and forth. Additionally, she gives the history of fracking regulation in Nova Scotia and the background of last night’s pro-fracking speaker:

On the pro-fracking side was Gerard Lucyshyn, vice president of research at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and economics lecturer at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in his introduction, Lucyshyn was another at the event with strong conservative ties. In 2016 – 2017, he was president of the former Wildrose Party constituency association in Calgary-West, and in 2013 – 2017, a board member of the Conservative Party of Canada in the Bow River electoral district association.

As for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy that Lucyshyn represented, it is a free-market think tank in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, which produces dog-whistle commentaries harshly critical of Islam or stridently supportive of “settlers” who brought the “Enlightenment” to North America.

Desmogblog, a project that studies misinformation campaigns on global warming, has also examined the Frontier Centre’s record on climate change. Among other things, it says that the Frontier Centre claims, “mankind suffers more harm from global cooling” than it does global warming, and it publishes articles disputing global warming by well-known climate skeptics.

Baxter asked Lucyshyn directly about his views on climate change, and he came back with mealy mouthed responses.

Click here to read “‘Pig in a poke’: die-hard proponents want to open Nova Scotia to fracking.”

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3. A word on subscriptions

I interrupt this Morning File to do something I rarely do outside of our November subscription drives: ask for your money.

As media companies crash and burn left and right, I was left with two choices when I started the Halifax Examiner: pointlessly chase advertising and crash and burn like the rest, or become subscription-based and survive.

I chose the latter.

There are other reasons to eschew advertising. Most obvious is that advertising is annoying: we’ve become the nightmare world of Minority Report, with ads chasing us as we walk down the street, and the internet has evolved into a pop-up and tracking mess. I promise you that you’ll never see a pop-up ad, or any other kind of ad, on the Examiner. And we’ll never track you. What little information we do collect for subscriptions will never be sold or transferred or used except for the intended purpose.

The larger effects of advertising are more insidious, and more sinister, as advertising infects our values and perceptions of the world and we don’t even realize it’s doing so. When every damn thing is plastered with corporate logos and we unthinkingly chase corporate sponsorship and praise advertisers as the source of all good, we as a society have lost our moral compass. The fact that most readers probably can’t even comprehend the preceding sentence, much less agree with it, saddens me greatly and speaks to the likely impossibility of ever obtaining anything like a sensibly organized society.

More directly to my concerns, as I’ve worked in and watched news media operations, I’ve seen how advertising can and often does determine what gets covered and what doesn’t, and more importantly how news gets covered. We talk about firewalls between sales and editorial, but in reality the connections between the two run far deeper than any barrier we construct can divide. That’s because the entire operation is born of advertising. You can no more disentangle your parents’ genes from your DNA; once the advertising-dependent news media baby is birthed, its future is determined, and as in an evo-psych Just So story, everyone involved behaves exactly as they must.

But as I’ve said, the best reason for rejecting advertising is advertising doesn’t work. Newspapers are collapsing everywhere. Online sites that rely on advertising or the future potential of advertising (someone explain Vice to me, eh?) are likewise crashing and burning. I don’t know why I’d want to chase something that will inevitably fail.

And so the Examiner has a subscription-based business model.

Besides all the perhaps hard-to-grasp theoretical and ethical reasons I’ve just spent too much time writing about, let me be concrete about subscriptions: they allow the Examiner to pay writers like Erica Butler and Joan Baxter. Butler and Baxter (and all the other Examiner writers) do excellent work, and deserve to be compensated fairly. Your subscription translates into their paycheques. (Well, actual paycheques are rarely employed; we now use email transfers, but the point remains.)

I don’t like making these pleas for subscriptions. It feels like advertising. So I won’t do it so obviously or obnoxiously again, at least until the November subscription drive. But I think I may have to start putting a little note at the bottom of Morning File to push you readers along a bit.

Er, please please subscribe.

4. Lahey report

Bill Lahey. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

The Healthy Forest Coalition has weighed in on the Lahey Report, as follows:

HFC’s Response to the Lahey Report – What do we do now?

Paul Pross, with input from members of the Coalition’s working group, has written the following response to William Lahey’s Report that emanated from his independent review of forestry practices in Nova Scotia.

Professor Lahey has given the government a plan for resolving the conflict over forest policy that has bedeviled the province for decades.

The plan:

1. Urges the government to adopt an ecological approach to forest management, thereby confirming the wisdom of the recommendations that Bob Bancroft and Donna Crossland presented nearly ten years ago as part of the public consultation on Natural Resource Strategy.

2. Reinforces this central recommendation with advice provided by a distinguished panel of experts. That advice not only brings strong scientific evidence to support ecological management, it is highly critical of the science that DNR officials have used to justify policies that favoured industrial forestry. Taken together their advice and the Lahey report are a severe condemnation of DNR and the policies it has followed.

3. Recognizes that our forest industry has to survive and must do so in very difficult circumstances – a degraded forest being the most significant. In order for it to survive, there must be a transition period. Because of that he argues that plantations on Crown lands are necessary, and that they will have to operate on industrial forestry lines.

4. Builds on the recent decision to remove responsibility for mineral development from DNR by urging that the new Department of Lands and Forestry (a) emphasize stewardship, rather than exploitation, (b) focus on enforcing policy rather than micromanagement, (c) improve its use of science, and (d) foster a culture of openness and transparency.

These are positions that we can strongly support. But there are flaws in the Professor Lahey’s plan that are so serious that we cannot ignore them. They include:

1. His support for the use of glyphosate. The industry uses glyphosate as a cheap way to eliminate competition in young forest plantations, and claims that if used according to manufacturers’ directions and in dispersed applications, it poses no threat to public health. The public is so skeptical that its widespread opposition to glyphosate use could overwhelm discussion and implementation of Lahey’s other recommendations on forest management.

We note that for over 20 years there has been no glyphosate spraying on over a million acres of Cape Breton Crown land or on the mainland lands supplying the mill at Port Hawkesbury. PHP’s successful management of these lands without glyphosate spraying has facilitated its retention of FSC certification, and should convince the government to reject the glyphosate recommendation, and to opt instead for manual vegetative control in plantations.

2. Failure to address the biomass issue. If biomass harvesting is allowed to support electricity generation and chip exports, it will entrench short rotation forestry in which fast-growing, low-value species are favored.

We are skeptical about his support for plantation forestry. Plantation forestry may be necessary in the short term, but we must be firm on setting a limit to their number, extent and long-term use. We must vigorously guard against entrenching plantations across the Nova Scotia forest.

As well, we are worried lest the shift to ecological management on Crown lands will lead to over-exploitation of private lands. We must work to ensure that public programs support complementary ecological management on private lands.

4. Joshua Evans

Joshua Evans

“The father of a 29-year-old man who was found unresponsive after a suicide attempt in a Nova Scotia jail cell earlier this week says the system should be changed to prevent such a death from happening again,” reports Frances Willick for the CBC:

Joshua Aaron Evans was discovered in his cell at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth, N.S., on Monday at 9:30 p.m. Staff began CPR and called paramedics, who took him to the Dartmouth General Hospital, where he died on Tuesday afternoon with family members present.

Halifax Regional Police and the Justice Department are investigating, and the medical examiner’s office is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

But Evans’s father, Don Evans, said in a statement to CBC News that his son, who he said had a developmental disability and the intellect of a seven-year-old, was known to be suicidal and should have been closely monitored.

“If he is suicidal, someone should have noticed and been watching him around the clock,” he wrote. “Laws need to be changed so this can never happen again.”

Joshua Evans was arrested on child porn charges and was awaiting trial. Child pornography is obviously a very serious matter, but there is context in this instance that should be considered. Continues Willet:

Joshua was born with velocardiofacial syndrome, caused by a missing part of a chromosome, his father said. The genetic condition results in different symptoms for different people, including developmental delays as well as communication and social challenges.

“Anyone seeing Josh or talking to him would know right away he was different. He really was a little kid in a 250-pound, six-foot-three body,” Evans said.

He said his son spent much of his time watching television, and his last psychological report said he operated at a Grade 2 level.

“If he would go out for a walk, he would get lost most times and I would have to go and find him,” Evans wrote. 

Regarding the child pornography charges against him, Evans said his son didn’t understand that what he was doing was criminal.

“He was a kid on the computer and did not know it was wrong.”

The investigation into Joshua’s death should consider whether Joshua should’ve been in jail at all; perhaps his special needs required care that a jail could not provide.


Views

1. Chickens

Halifax lawyer Barbara Darby continues her deep dive review of published case law, this time using the search term “chicken.” Her first case:

In R. v. Smedley, the Smedley family kept a very special set of Quebecois chickens in a luxury coop and were charged for breach of a bylaw (the Smedleys, not the chickens). The Smedleys appealed:

[6]  The trial judge found as fact that these chickens are pets of that family — they’re pets — that’s what the trial judge found.  The property in question was found by the trial judge to be a well-maintained family home with a large lot — a 2.6 acre lot.

[7]  On that property is a chicken coop — a luxury chicken coop — described as aesthetically pleasing and immaculately clean by the trial judge. It is 100 feet from the nearest property line.

[8] These chickens are not kept for commercial purposes. The trial judge found that they are not kept for meat and the eggs that they lay are not sold — those eggs are an incidental benefit of keeping these pet chickens.

[9]  They are not just any chickens — they are special chickens. They are heritage chickens that are brought to this province from Quebec. The trial judge found that they are in every way inoffensive. There is no excessive or even noticeable noise, no odour. The way in which they are kept is not unsightly. The chickens remain on their property seemingly doing no harm to either the aesthetic qualities or the quiet enjoyment of the property of the immediate neighbours.

So finds the trial judge.

The appellate judge determined that the hearing judge was correct: the judge found that “chickens are indeed fowl.” The appellants were guilty of the charge. As per the decision, it is logical that for chickens not to be livestock, they could not be fowl, and they are definitely fowl. Hence, they are livestock. Plus, the coop was aesthetically pleasing.

Mr. Smedley asked the appellate judge to overrule or call a foul, if you will, the finding that chicken are fowl. The appellate judge determined no error was made, and that chicken are, indeed, fowl, and thus the keeping of them contravenes the legislation against keeping livestock in a no-livestock zone.

There is much regret here. The appellate judge notes that the trial judge “did not want to take those chickens from those children.” The appellate judge, “Likewise, I’m sorry to see those pet chickens go — they would seem to create pleasure for this family without there being any evidence of harm to anyone.”

But, no harm = fowl.

There’s much, much more, but be sure to stick around for the dating habits of a Nova Scotian lawyer who wooed his client romantically when:

[He] came to her apartment around 6:30 p.m. He brought Kentucky Fried Chicken, a bottle of Vodka, lime pop, tomato juice, 2 candles, a pink rose, some fruit, a bag of Sun Chip potato chips and a newspaper. He also brought a sweater for her son. She testified that they ate supper in the kitchen after she placed the rose in a vase.

This was of course inappropriate. One does not bring a newspaper to woo a client; one delivers a subscription to an online news site so the woo-ee can continue to read the news after the woo-er is disbarred.


Noticed

“For many in the town of Uranus, Missouri, the title of the town’s new newspaper is taking some time to digest,” reports Michael McGowan for the Guardian:

This week publishers announced the launch of the Uranus Examiner, a new local paper in Pulaski County in the southern US state. It quickly became the butt of controversy, flushing out critics who wasted no time attacking the new title.

It was unclear if other titles – such as the Uranus Express, Bugle or Mirror – were considered.

h/t Philip Slayton


Government

City

Cogswell District pop-up (Friday, 1pm, Keshen Goodman Public Library) — tell them it’s a waste of time and money if they don’t blow up the casino and the parking garages.

Province

Legislature sits (Friday, 9am, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Friday

Sina Bathaie (Friday, 10am, Room 121, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — info here

Access and Equity in the Performing Arts (Friday, 1pm, Studio 2, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Shahin Sayadi and Stephanie Yee will speak.

Introduction to Alexander Technique (Friday, 3pm, Room 121, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Malcom Balk will speak. In a previous life, I knew a lot about the Alexander Technique; I honestly can’t remember if it was very worthwhile or a bunch of bullshit.

Saturday

Word on the Street (Saturday, 10am, Lindsay Room, Halifax Central Library) —  Dal Libraries will feature a selection of engaging authors, poets and scholars who all have a connection to Dalhousie. Featured presenters include Sherry Pictou, Shauntay Grant, Linda Little, Erin Wunker, Afua Cooper, and El Jones.


In the harbour

Midnight: Arsos, container ship, sails from Pier 36 for Kingston, Jamaica
5:30am: Bishu Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
6:30am: Marco Polo, cruise ship with up to 850 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from St. John’s
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
10am: YM Movement, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
Noon: Horizon Star, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 9 for the offshore
3;30pm: Bishu Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5pm: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
7:30pm: Marco Polo, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Charlottetown
9:30pm: YM Movement, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York


Footnotes

A bunch of boring and inconsequential personal stuff is taking a lot of my time this week.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. I just read for first time the story about Joshua Evans who was in jail in ?Dartmouth and died by suicide. This man was developmentally intellectually impaired since birth. What was he doing IN JAIL? THere was a pornographer charge but a jail sentence for a man with an obvious vulnerability. Is this a regular occurrence in our judicial system?