News

1. Climate change action

This week people around the world are stepping up activism around the climate emergency during the UN climate action summit in New York. A list of local events can be found here.

2. What to do about Justin?

Writes Stephen Kimber:

Last week’s Blackface/Brownface controversy raises the complicated question of how we navigate our way through all the competing, compelling, often contradictory private and public actions of our politicians to determine who — if anyone — deserves our vote.

Click here to read “What to do about Justin?”

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3. How the justice system failed Glen Assoun

Glen Assoun. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Reporting for the Canadian Press, Michael Tutton interviews Glen Assoun:

Assoun, his family and lawyers with Innocence Canada say the years spent on bail — awaiting a ministerial declaration that his conviction for murder was likely a miscarriage of justice — point to a slow, overly political and under-staffed system for probing wrongful convictions.

Assoun was acquitted of the knifing death of Brenda Way on March 1 of this year in Nova Scotia Supreme Court after spending 17 years in federal prison and 52 months on bail.

He remains angry about the “lost decades,” and the multiple heart attacks and the mental illness he says he experienced in federal prisons. However, Assoun says he wants his suffering to bring change: an independent, well-funded review system to investigate alleged cases of wrongful conviction.

It’s a recommendation first made in 1989 by the royal commission on Donald Marshall Jr.’s wrongful conviction for murder and one repeated in four other public inquiries, most recently the 2008 inquiry into the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard.

As I originally reported, Assoun spent 18 of those 52 months on bail after then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould received a recommendation from Justice Department staff to order a new trial for Assoun, but took no action on that recommendation. After Wilson-Raybould was replaced by David Lametti because of the SNC Lavalin affair, Lametti almost immediately ordered the new trial, which led to Assoun’s complete exoneration the next day.

Tutton describes how Assoun had a mental health crisis during the time that Wilson-Raybould failed to act on his file.

People in the wrongful conviction community have varying views of the need for an inquiry into Assoun’s case. Cleary, there’s value in officially documenting what went wrong with the justice system, and Assoun himself wants his story told. But there have been so many inquiries that have resulted in basically the same set of recommendations that it’s hard to understand why another would result in substantive change.

The justice system is a human institution, and so will occasionally fail. I think people recognize that reality, and there are self-correctives built into the system. But if recommendations from inquiries are repeatedly ignored, and injustices continue, then the courts and police risk losing the social support they require to operate successfully.

4. Halifax Partnership deletes gold video

This item is written by Joan Baxter.

Last Thursday, the Halifax Partnership posted on its Facebook page a video of Mayor Mike Savage visiting Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy gold mine at Moose River. Atlantic Gold is now owned by St. Barbara of Australia.

The video captures Mayor Savage putting on quite a show at the mine — dancing, giving two thumbs up, sitting in the drivers’ seat of an excavator. At the end, he pretends to steal a bar of gold … alas, I don’t think it was a Robin Hood gesture meant to suggest he was interested in stealing gold from the rich to give to the poor.

Additionally, HRM councillors David Hendsbee and Steve Streatch are seen chuckling it up in the video.

On its Facebook page, the Halifax Partnership Facebook introduced the video as follows:

As part of the Mayor’s Celebrate Business Program, we recently joined Mayor Mike Savage, Councillors Steve Streatch & David Hendsbee for a tour of the Atlantic Gold Touquoy Mine Site. The goal of this program is for Mayor Savage to personally meet Halifax’s business leaders & learn more about our business community & industry advantages.

On Friday, Halifax Partnership introduced the video with a tweet, but after that tweet was retweeted with critical comments, the video was “disappeared” from the Halifax Partnership’s Facebook page, and the tweet was deleted.

Fortunately, the Halifax Examiner captured the video, and we repost it today, above.

I emailed some questions about the visit and the video to the Halifax Partnership on Friday, and received the following information from Alison Gillan, Vice President, Marketing, PR & Communications at the Partnership.

In a response, Gillan said the visit to the gold mine was on August 20th, and it happened, she said, because: “Atlantic Gold reached out to us through our Smart Business Program, which works with companies in HRM to help them increase exports, move from R&D to commercialization and source talent. Through this work with Atlantic Gold we identified the opportunity to tour the site and meet with their team to better understand their operations. The Partnership’s services are available to businesses of all sizes and sectors throughout the municipality.”

Four representatives of the Halifax Partnership attended. The main purpose was “to meet with the Atlantic Gold team to see first-hand how the Touquoy mine operates and to understand its economic contributions, particularly in Moose River in rural HRM,” said Gillan.

Gillan did not answer my question about the main outcome of the visit.

I also asked her what had happened to the tweet that the Partnership sent out, along with the video. She replied:

We stopped sharing that tweet and it is no longer available. We appreciate the perspectives of everyone who responded but feel that Twitter is not the best forum for complex conversations.

She didn’t mention that the Facebook post with the video would also be disappeared this weekend. But it has been.

Tim continues:

As Baxter has reported at length, there are critical environmental concerns around gold mining and the impact of mining on the local communities, and the Halifax councillors’ and mayor’s chucklefest seems to be a complete endorsement of the mining operation without acknowledging, much less addressing, those concerns.

We’ve got to get smarter about “economic development.” It does no good for regular people struggling to pay their bills and live decent modest lives if GDP doubles or if a bazillion dollars in gold is mined in Nova Scotia if nearly all of that wealth is siphoned off by the already wealthy and shipped to Vancouver or Australia.

That’s the basic point I’m trying to make with my recurring sardonic joke that “if we only do X” — build a convention centre, subsidize a spaceport, construct an armada of Navy ships, dig up the eastern shore, what have you — “we’ll all be rich!” Because if we don’t change how our economy works and change how wealth is distributed within our society, all these projects do is further enrich the already wealthy and their connected managerial and political lapdogs at the expense of everyone else. As is, the rich and connected get the profit from the projects, while the costs of the projects are socialized.

5. Taxi driver and Appeals Committee

Photo: Halifax Examiner

A police release on Friday:

Police have charged a taxi driver with sexual assault in relation to an incident that occurred in Halifax over the weekend.

At approximately 3:20 a.m. on September 14, police responded to a report of a sexual assault that had occurred a short time earlier in Halifax. A male taxi driver drove a female to a residence in Halifax and sexually assaulted her while she was in the vehicle.

As a result of the investigation, officers arrested the taxi driver at police headquarters in Halifax without incident on September 18. Lesianu Zewdiewas Hweld, 44, of Halifax, was charged with one count of sexual assault and was released to appear in Halifax Provincial Court at a later date. 

I wrote about Lesianu Hweld’s first appearance before Halifax council’s Appeals Committee on July 12. Reporting for Star Metro, Zane Woodford picks up the story after the city’s release Friday:

Just two months after a committee of council gave him his licence back, a Halifax taxi driver has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman in his cab.

The municipal licensing authority denied Hweld’s application to renew his taxi owner’s licence in April after learning that Hweld had twice had his provincial driver’s licence suspended for traffic violations and had not informed the municipality.

The municipality’s taxi bylaw requires drivers to immediately notify the licensing authority “that they have become the subject to a court order, undertaking, charge or conviction,” and to “immediately surrender” their licence if their provincial driver’s licence is suspended.

Hweld argued the municipality’s paperwork was unclear and the committee granted his appeal. Blackburn was the sole vote against Hweld’s appeal, arguing the driver had exhibited “a pattern of behaviour” that showed he didn’t deserve to get his licence back.

Councillors Matt Whitman, David Hendsbee and Russell Walker voted in favour of the appeal. Coun. Stephen Adams wasn’t present, and Coun. Bill Karsten abstained from voting, having missed the meeting when Hweld’s matter was considered.

“Based on the information we had at the time, I think it was the right decision,” Whitman said in an interview on Friday.

6. “Get the Indians out of Halifax”

“A proposed agreement totaling $49 million has been reached to settle a 100-year-old Halifax land claim between the federal government and Millbrook and Sipekne’katik First Nations bands,” reports Harry Sullivan for Saltwire:

The negotiated settlement, if approved by the members of each band, will see Millbrook receiving compensation of $19,331,413 and Sipekne’katik, formerly known as Indian Brook, receiving $27,818,375.

“I’m extremely pleased with the offer,” Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade told the SaltWire Network.

The proposed agreement, which has been in the works for decades, is to settle a land claim related to the loss in 1919 — following the Halifax Explosion — of three parcels of land totaling 512 hectares, known as the Ingrams River, Sambro and Ship Harbour reserves.

“Basically, they were kicked out of HRM,” Gloade said of the First Nations families displaced following the explosion. “That was the sentiment at the time — get the Indians out of Halifax.”

Here is Gloade’s letter about the compensation to members of the Millbrook First Nation.

7. Yarmouth ferry

The Alakai, docked at Yarmouth. Photo: Suzanne Rent

“Time is running out for Bay Ferries Ltd. to finish work on the local ferry terminal if it hopes to offer service across the Gulf of Maine this year,” reports Bill Trotter for the Bangor Daily News, stating the obvious:

Cornell Knight, town manager for Bar Harbor, said Tuesday that even if the ferry does not carry any passengers this year, the town still is guaranteed a minimum of $166,000 in rental payments from Bay Ferries for 2019. The company’s five-year lease for the town-owned site follows Bar Harbor’s fiscal year, from July 1 through June 30, so the town expects it would get additional revenue from the firm prior to June 30, 2020, he said.

The cost of renovating the terminal facility, which is being subsidized by the Nova Scotia provincial government, has been estimated at $6.4 million in U.S. currency or $8.5 million in Canadian funds.

Last week, on September 14, Glenn Stevens posted photos of the construction site at the Bar Harbor ferry terminal on Facebook. Sure, it was a Saturday, but there was no obvious rush to get the work done. If Bay Ferries was truly trying to get the ferry running for this season, wouldn’t construction crews be working on the weekend, and even at night? As Stevens wrote, “please notice the one contractor van on site.”

Bar Harbor ferry terminal. Photo: Glen Stevens/ Facebook
Bar Harbor ferry terminal. Photo: Glen Stevens/ Facebook
Bar Harbor ferry terminal. Photo: Glen Stevens/ Facebook

I’ll be shocked if the facility is ready by the Spring sailing season.

8. Gas leaks

“Hundreds of north-end Halifax residents were forced from their homes for several hours Saturday morning due to a ruptured natural gas main on Bloomfield Street,” reports Susan Bradley for the CBC:

The leak was caused by a building contractor digging in the area and was reported to Heritage Gas at about 8:40 a.m., company spokesperson Chris MacAulay said.

“Basically, we’ve evacuated the block between Northwood Terrace, Bloomfield Street and Gottingen, down to Black Street,” said Lloyd Currie, a division commander with the fire department.

The evacuation included 120-unit building on Almon Street. No injuries have been reported.

Heritage Gas shut down the gas flow at about 10:25 a.m. and residents were expected to begin to return to their homes shortly, MacAulay said.

An excavator working at the Queen’s Marque construction site punctured this gas line. Photo: Heritage Gas

A second gas leak occurred last Monday, September 16, when an excavator working with Eagle Beach Contractors Limited at the Queen’s Marque site struck a natural gas line, resulting in the evacuation of the site and a response by the Emergency Operations Centre. No one was killed, and nothing blew up.

A report on the incident notes that Eagle Beach “does not have valid locates for the work that was completed at this location.”

9. The Nook

“To the surprise of both its customers and its employees, The Nook Espresso Bar and Lounge closed its Bedford location in late July of this year,” writes  for the Nova Scotia Advocate:

It did so suddenly and without giving any kind of warning to its seven employees.

With a food token system to support poor people and posters promoting kindness and acceptance, the business, which continues to run a cafe on Gottingen Street, is supportive of people living in poverty. But this friendly and charitable image does not reflect their employment practices, says Shannon Power, a former barista at The Nook’s Bedford location.  

“We suspected the cafe might close, but we weren’t entirely sure” says Power. “Many kitchen items were being removed during our shifts, including an oven and a refrigerator, but we weren’t given a clear explanation as to why.” 

The Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code requires that employers give notice to employees before ending the employment relationship. The amount of notice a worker is owed depends on the length of their employment. In lieu of notice, employers can pay workers for wages lost during the notice period, which must be calculated based on an employee’s average schedule over a twelve-week span.  

“Rather than using our average schedules as the law requires, The Nook calculated our notice pay based on a schedule drafted for the final week alone, when shifts were scarce,” says Power. “This left several of the baristas without the notice pay they were legally entitled to.”

The baristas ultimately proved their case and were compensated in accordance with the legislation after discussions with the Labour Board and the Halifax Workers’ Action Centre, which offers free legal support to low-income workers.

The Nook’s Facebook post was later updated to acknowledge the Nook’s calculation errors. 

10. Cesar Lalo

Cesar Lalo. Photo: Facebook

Cesar Lalo has died.

As lawyer John McKiggan explains:

In 1973, the Government of Nova Scotia hired Cesar Lalo as a youth probation officer and child welfare worker. Allow as convicted of sexually abusing at least 29 young people and children between 1973 and 1989, all but two of whom were in his care.

However the huge number of convictions is just the tip of the iceberg.

Notably, “the Crown did not prosecute all the cases against Lalo, stopping after they had enough convictions to get the long-term offender designation.” Lalo was incarcerated for those convictions.

In 1993, Lalo began serving a nine-year sentence for seven offences, and in 2003 he was convicted of fifteen additional offences. The court heard evidence that the police were aware of accusations against Lalo long before his initial arrest, and that they reported their investigation to an official in the Department of Community Services. However, no action was taken for as long as four months.

Ten years prior, parents had complained of inappropriate activity on the part of Lalo, but evidence at the trial indicated no system for tracking such complaints existed at the time.

In 2009, Lalo was released with a plan for ten years supervision, but in 2011 he was re-arrested on a breach-of-probation offense (possession of child pornography). Criminal courts failed to adequately prevent Lalo from engaging in further criminal activity.

11. Sharks

“A Morning Surf at Nauset” by Orleans Camera & Video (see ordering info below).

“Five great white sharks have been spotted and three of them have been tagged in Ocearch’s latest expedition off the coast of Cape Breton,” reports Anjuli Patil for the CBC:

“I think that is more than we expected, especially when we’re only about halfway through the trip,” Chris Fischer, the founder and expedition leader of Ocearch, said in a phone interview on Sunday.

Two of the tagged sharks are mature males, Murdoch and Sydney, and the other is a mature female named Unama’ki.

Sydney was 3.7 metres long, Murdoch was 3.9 metres long and Unama’ki was 4.7 metres long. In addition to being tagged, each shark received a full health assessment.

“So, interesting to see that all the sharks we’ve engaged with out here have all been fully mature animals,” Fischer said. “I think that’s something significant that was different than what we saw down in Lunenburg last year.”

Off Lunenburg, Fischer said they sampled seven animals — five males, two females — and only three were mature. The others were “sub-adults.”

I have a “sharkactivity” app on my phone, which alerts me to shark sightings on the east coast, primarily along Cape Cod. The app is produced by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC), which is an agency within the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). I don’t think AWSC and Ocearch are connected institutions, so I’m not sure if the newly tagged sharks will show up on my app.

I note that Ocearch is funded in part by Seaworld; the funding provides PR cover for Seaworld’s muchcriticized treatment of orcas and other marine mammals. I’m a purist when it comes to such arrangements — you got to dance with them what brung you — so I’m casting a leery eye towards Ocearch.

(The photo that illustrates this item is being sold, with half the proceeds donated to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. You can order it here.)


Government

City

Monday

Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — the committee is receiving the Annual Workplace Report and the Gender Parity Report.

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — the regular council agenda is relatively light, but council starts early so it can go into budget discussion.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — folks from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education and Halifax Partnership will explain how they have solved the employment crisis.

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — since gold mining has already made us all rich, the committee will explore ways to double! our riches through… uranium mining. I’m going to have to build a larger garage to house my two boats.


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Examples on Several Integration Methods (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Lin Jiu will talk. The abstract:

I will introduce several integration methods, which are applied and developed by different groups of people. Through simple examples, I will give some basic ideas and applications of these methods. In particular, I will focus on:

  • 1. the method of brackets,
  • 2. negative dimension integration method,
  • 3. integration by differentiation
  • 4. and hypergeometric form for fundamental theorem of calculus.

Non-trivial examples are always preferred over trivial examples.

The Road Ahead: A Political Conversation about the Future of Atlantic Canada (Monday, 7pm, in the auditorium named after a fossil fuel company, Richard Murray Design Building) — a panel discussion with former politicians Darrell Dexter, Janice Harvey, Peter MacKay, and Anne McLellan. Register here.

Shadow Magic (Monday, 7pm, Room 1020, Rowe Management Building) — screening in English and Mandarin.

Tuesday

The Future of Work: Where Demographics, Technology and Urbanization Collide (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1020, Rowe Management Building) — the third panel in the MacEachen Institute’s 10-week Policy Matters Speaker Series, featuring Karen Foster, Sunil Johal, and Ian Munro.

AI, disruptive industries, urbanization and demographic changes are rapidly transforming the economy. This panel looks to the future: what labour policies should we pursue to ensure an appropriate quality of life for Canadians? What changes are employers making to adapt to the new business landscape? How should workers prepare for the jobs of the future?

Registration not required; more info here.


In the harbour

05:00: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:45: Arcadia, cruise ship with up to 1,904 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from St. John’s, on a 24-day roundtrip cruise out of Southampton, England
09:00: Veendam, cruise ship with up to 1,350 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a seven-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
09:00: BNS Leopold, Belgium Navy frigate, sails from Dockyard for sea
10:00: USS Gridley, US Navy destroyer, sails from Dockyard for sea
11:30: Fearless, bulker, sails from anchorage for sea
15:30: YM Evolution sails for Rotterdam
16:30: Tropic Hope, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Palm Beach, Florida
17:00: JSP Levante, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Moa, Cuba
18:00: Arcadia sails for Charlottetown
18:00: Veendam sails for Sydney

Where are the Canadian military ships?



Footnotes

I’ve got nothing more.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. So inspiring to see thoughtful and concerned leadership in Nova Scotia… oh, wait… um, isn’t this the same company- Atlantic Gold, owned by St. Barbara of Australia, that somehow manage to hire the RCMP to beat, handcuff, and arrest a Nova Scotia citizen for having the audacity to quietly and sanely question the safety and environmental practices of a FOREIGN OWNED company operating in his own homeland ? Geez, what is the Mayor, himself a Nova Scotia citizen, thinking in this little display? My. My. My, as my auntie used to say. Time to get these Neanderthals out of office ASAP.