News

1. Clayton Cromwell

Clayton Cromwell

“An emergency intercom in the jail unit of a young Halifax man who died of a methadone overdose had been improperly disabled by guards who regarded it as a nuisance, according to a corrections investigation,” reports Michael Tutton for the Canadian Press:

The report says a cellmate found 23-year-old Clayton Cromwell unconscious on April 7, 2014, and yelled at other inmates with an intercom in their cell to press the “red button.”

But there was no response for 10 or 15 minutes, inmates said, and they had to start kicking doors and yelling to get attention of officers at Halifax’s Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility.

According to the report, released to The Canadian Press under freedom-of-information legislation, the intercom had been cut some time earlier, in contravention of provincial rules.

I wonder if anyone will lose their job because of this. I kind of doubt it.

2. Cory Taylor

Cory Taylor is shown with injuries he claims were sustained after an altercation with the Halifax Regional Police. Photo: Wanda Taylor/ Canadian Press

On Friday, I found that an Ontario man named Cory Taylor had filed for a judicial review of the Police Complaints Commission’s dismissal of Taylor’s complaint against Halifax police officer Donna Paris.

I knew nothing about the initial complaint, or the two decisions rejecting the complaint (the first decision was an internal Halifax PD decision, the second from the Police Complaints Commission), as none of those documents were filed with the court Friday. So I emailed Taylor’s lawyer Benjamin Perryman to ask for them. (You’ll recall Perryman successfully argued against Abdoul Abdi’s deportation.) Perryman, however, would not give me the documents, saying he’d first have to get approval from his client.

However, Alex Cooke at the Canadian Press tracked down Taylor and interviewed him, obtaining the documents in the process. Curiously, Cooke doesn’t name officer Donna Paris in her article:

According to legal documents obtained by The Canadian Press, Perryman’s client, 19-year-old Cory Taylor, said he was arrested in the early hours of August 12, 2017, after he and his friends had a verbal and physical altercation with a group of men who hurled racial slurs at them.

Taylor alleged that as the group of men dispersed, a female Halifax Regional Police officer tackled him from behind against a building, giving him a concussion and injuring his nose. He said he did not hear any sort of verbal warning.

“When the fight occurred and ended, the police only came to me, and then arrested me without reading rights or anything,” Taylor said in an interview.

Medical documents show he was diagnosed with a concussion at a local hospital the next day after spending the night in detention.

Taylor said he was not sure if the alleged incident was an act of racism, since the female officer was black as well. But he said the other group of men, who were white, were allowed to leave.

The events took place on Argyle Street after Taylor was in the Argyle Bar.

Cooke also doesn’t name the Police Complaints Commission’s investigator, except to say he was “a former Halifax Regional Police officer.” But the court documents say the internal police department investigation was conducted by Sergeant Greg Robertson, and the Police Complaints Commission’s investigator was Fred Sanford.

3. Dispensary raids

“Why have our police forces suddenly become the Hell’s Angels of medical cannabis, badge-toting, tough-guy enforcers of the government’s price-fixing monopoly on the pot business?” asks Stephen Kimber.

You know why, but Kimber spells it out in detail.

Click here to read “Why the pre-legalization crackdown on medical cannabis dispensaries?”

4. Cannabis bylaw

The city’s absurd smoking bylaw — which almost certainly won’t be enforced except to harass people of colour and poor people — came into effect this morning.

The bylaw outlaws smoking of anything — tobacco, cannabis, vape, what have you — in all city parks (shed a tear for the Dartmouth Common gazebo), on trails (no lighting up on the Chain of Lakes), and most problematically, on city streets and sidewalks. Ah, but there’s an exception: the city is creating “designated smoking areas” where smoking is legal. Here’s the one at the Bridge Terminal:

The designated smoking area at the Bridge Terminal. Photo: Halifax Examiner

That’s about 10 square metres for every cannabis, tobacco, and vape smoker commuting to or from Dartmouth to light up in. If vapers don’t want second hand cannabis smoke, or vice-versa, well, I guess they’re out of luck.

Anyway, as 8am this morning, the city has identified exactly nine designated smoking areas, and absolutely none of them on the Halifax peninsula:

As I said, the bylaw won’t be enforced except to harass people of colour and poor people. To demonstrate the point, when I’m in the neighbourhood I’ll be dropping by Argyle Street to photograph visiting conventioneers smoking up, and posting the photos on social media. There is exactly zero per cent chance that the bylaw will be enforced against those conventioneers bringing us prosperity forever, amen. But Black people who are already disproportionately stopped by cops? All bets are off.

Oh, by the way, so far as I can determine, the city bylaw doesn’t apply to Citadel Hill or the Province House lawn, which are regulated by the federal and provincial governments, respectively. So your options are smoking up with the won’t-pick-up-his-dog’s-poop dude at Citadel Hill, the murderous imperialist Boer War dude at Province House, or the “can I buy a cig?” dude at the Bridge Terminal.

5. Gold

Photo: Joan Baxter

“The province has embarked on what could become a multimillion-dollar project to close two sites that were heavily contaminated with arsenic and mercury by gold mining as far back as the 1860s,” reports Frances Willick for the CBC:

Nova Scotia Lands, the provincial environmental cleanup agency, issued a request for proposals last month on how to close the former gold mining sites in Montague Gold Mines, near Dartmouth, N.S., and Goldenville, near Sherbrooke.

The province’s soil quality guidelines call for no more than 31 milligrams per kilogram of arsenic.

But in Goldenville, the maximum level found in the tailings was 209,000 milligrams per kilogram, and the average was 19,181 milligrams per kilogram, according to a 2015 report from the Department of Natural Resources. At Montague, the maximum was 41,299 milligrams per kilogram and the average was 13,651 milligrams per kilogram. 

The levels of mercury, nickel, lead and antimony have also been found at excessive levels at some tailings sites.

Willick’s report is very detailed, and worth a read. Afterwards, re-read Joan Baxter’s Fool’s Gold series.

We’re told that gold mining operations today have more consideration for the environment than did those of the 19th century, but there’s a similar Gold Rush mentality among the current out-of-province limited liability companies behind the mines, and when they go bankrupt leaving their contractors unpaid, I have to wonder how carefully they hewed to environmental protection regulations.

6. Attaturk

Mayor Mike Savage has signed a proclamation celebrating Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s founding of the Republic of Turkey.


Views

1. Accessibility

“The provincial government’s press release from Friday, October 12 sounds as if the goal was to work together with the accessibility advocates from the start,” writes Paul 

Yet here we are, not a word of acknowledgement that they fully intended to continue to act in a discriminatory fashion against wheelchair users in Nova Scotia. When wheelchair users asked the government to stop selectively enforcing their own regulations relating to hand washing in restaurants, their response was to fight us.

Selectively not enforcing regulations for a specific group is the textbook definition of discrimination, and the adjudicator for our human rights tribunal agreed with us, and we prevailed.

Way back in very early September the adjudicator told them to fix the problem from that day on, and to enforce their regulations. Yet the government’s press release speaks of “working with the stakeholders” to find a solution, as if this was their idea all along.

The solution is to do what you have been told you must do under the law: enforce your regulations relating to our right of hygiene, which the United Nations has designated a basic human right. Instead of solving this issue the very next day (as they were told to do), they sent out their press release the day after this sitting of the legislature, and very late on a Friday, the day colloquially known as The Day Press Releases Go To Die.

2. Truth and emotion

Halifax lawyer Barbara Darby uses the Kavanaugh hearing as jumping-off point for an exploration of truth-telling and the display of emotion in court.

On the latter, she writes of R. v. Lawes, a 2006 case appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeals. The underlying case is horrific:

On January 11, 1999, four masked men entered a Toronto- Dominion Bank branch in Brampton to commit an armed robbery. Approximately three minutes into the robbery Nancy Kidd, an employee of the bank, was shot in the vault area of the bank. The robbery continued for two and a half minutes after she was shot and lay bleeding on the floor. When paramedics arrived at the bank, Nancy Kidd’s vital signs were absent. She was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

The appellant Dwain Lawes was one of the four robbers. Lawes was charged with first degree murder in the death of Nancy Kidd and was tried by judge and jury. The issues at trial were significantly narrowed by a number of agreed or uncontested facts. The appellant admitted that he was one of the robbers. There was no dispute that Marlon Rowe, another of the four robbers, fired the gun that caused the death of Nancy Kidd, that she was shot while in the vault area of the bank and that, when she was killed, Lawes and Rowe were the only two robbers in the vault area…

The evidence at trial consisted of surveillance videos of the robbery and the testimony of six witnesses called by the Crown. It was clear from the evidence that the robbery was violent. In addition to the shooting of Nancy Kidd, several of the bank employees were repeatedly struck, pushed and dragged in the course of the crime. Much of the violence, including the shooting of Nancy Kidd, occurred in areas of the branch not shown on the bank’s video cameras. The appellant did not call any evidence although a statement he made to the police was put into evidence.

Given that the appellant and Rowe were in the vault area at the time Nancy Kidd was shot and that this was an area not canvassed by the surveillance cameras, the evidence as to what the appellant was doing and saying right before and after Nancy Kidd was shot came principally from the bank employees. The Crown relied largely on what the appellant is reported to have said and done in the time before and after Nancy Kidd was shot to establish that the appellant knew that murder was a probable consequence of the robbery. The key witness on this point was Connie Lowry.

As the most senior person at the branch that day, Lowry had identified herself to the robbers as the manager. As a consequence, one of the robbers grabbed her by her hair and pulled her towards the vault with the demand that she “spin the combinations”. At one point, she could be seen on the video retrieving the combination from her office and being led back into the vault area by Lawes. Lowry testified that it was the same robber who stayed with her throughout the robbery. On the way back to the vault, Lowry saw Nancy Kidd face down behind her desk about four feet from the door of the vault.

Lowry testified that she was dragged by the robber and hit as she attempted to open compartments in the vault where cash was stored. She told the robber behind her that he would have to stop hitting her long enough for her to spin the combination. As she got to the first number of a compartment’s combination, she heard a robber other than the one behind her yell into the vault “they don’t think we mean business; you’d better hurry up or your friend out here is going to get it”. The robber behind her then tapped her on her neck to make his presence known. When she got to the last number of the combination, she heard the sound of a gunshot. Shortly after the shot, Lowry heard a voice from outside the vault yell into them “tell them I’ve just shot their friend out here.” The robber behind her reinforced the shooter’s message by saying “we’ve just shot your friend out there and you’re all next if you don’t hurry up.” In addition to relaying this message, the robber standing behind her also said: “I’m going to kill you, bitch. I’m going to kill all of you if you don’t hurry up.” He then laid a “guilt trip” on her by telling her to “look at your friend, look at your poor friend out there.”

The court heard that more than $20,000 was taken during the robbery, but a source said the amount was closer to $60,000,” reported the National Post. “Rowe and Campbell were members of a gang dubbed the Van Bandits, who were responsible for 20 similar, terrorist-style bank robberies over 14 months in the Toronto and Peel regions.”

From those gruesome details, the case took a bizarre twist. Lawes was on the lam for a while, but Rowe was found and charged:

Rhyll Carty, 53, a self- proclaimed psychic who admitted on the witness stand that he knew in advance about the robbery, may be eligible for the $200,000 reward offered by the Canadian Bankers Association for the arrest and conviction of those involved in Mrs. Kidd’s death.

Mr. Carty, who was given immunity for his testimony, said Rowe visited him for spiritual protection before and after the fatal bank robbery.

Mr. Carty then collaborated with police to have Rowe confess to the robbery and shooting while being recorded by a hidden camera.

Lawes was eventually captured in Jamaica, but claimed he participated in the robbery under the influence of Carty, who Rowe called a “voodoo priest.” Moreover, Rowe asked for police protection from Carty. That defence went nowhere.

Carty was a practitioner of Obeah, a Jamaican religion.

“Although known to many in the Jamaican community as an Obeahman who ran a Toronto herbal shop,” reported the National Post, “Mr. Carty later admitted he made up most of his rituals. He was more con man than Obeahman and was also a confederate of the robbers. When Mr. Carty learned of the murder and the large cash reward, he allowed police to wire his store with hidden cameras where they recorded one of the robbers going through Obeah rituals before admitting he shot Mrs. Kidd. He also named others involved and four men we eventually convicted.”

The Canadian Bankers Association paid Carty $200,000 in reward money for his testimony. “It comes despite Carty’s admission that he was to get a cut of the profits from the robbery and knew about the crime beforehand,” reported the CBC.

Police agencies have since gone undercover as supposed Obeah priests in order to get information and confessions about crimes, a practice that raises deep concerns about religious freedom. As one defence lawyer said, imagine the reaction if a police detective went undercover as a Catholic priest to hear a confession.

There’s a hazy and ill-defined area of truth and emotion in the legal cases, which brings me back to Darby, who writes:

…the accused [Lawes] appealed a conviction, in part because Crown Counsel was emotional. The Court of Appeal:

This was a very emotional trial. It had received considerable media attention. The significant violence … was, in and of itself, shocking. It is in this context that what the appellant describes as audible sobbing by Crown counsel at the end of his closing address to the jury occurred. This display of emotion, coming at such a critical time, had a powerful impact on the jury and, the appellant submits, when combined with the problems with the charge, warrants ordering a new trial.

The Crown concedes that, at trial, Crown counsel experienced a brief period of emotion but takes issue with the appellant’s description of it. With the consent of the appellant, the Crown filed fresh evidence with this court wherein it was shown that Crown counsel’s display of emotion at trial lasted approximately seven seconds and did not involve the shedding of any tears.

In the circumstances, the Crown’s moment of emotion is understandable. Crown counsel quickly composed himself and no unfairness resulted. The trial judge addressed the issue by supplementing the instructions regarding the jury’s duty to approach their task dispassionately and fairly. In my view, the Crown’s moment of emotion, while unfortunate, did not render the trial or the charge unfair. I would not give effect to this ground of appeal.

Fascinating.  The Crown, in response to the appeal, clearly reviewed the recording of the closing address to specify the length of the emotion – 7 seconds —and confirmed no tears were shed. The Court accepts that the emotion was “understandable” but also that the “moment of emotion” was “unfortunate.”

Contrast that with the reaction to Kavanaugh’s display of emotion.


Government

City

Monday

Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — the cannabis  freak-out continues.

Accessibility Committee (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — Elliott Richman, the Deafness Advocacy Association Nova Scotia, is talking to the committee about “Making the Deaf and hard of hearing welcome at HRM.” Specifically:

ISSUES:
1) HRM currently does not provide sign language interpreters at its recreational programs including day camps.

DESIRED OUTCOMES:
a)  HRM develops a city wide policy providing HRM residents of all ages with appropriate support services (sign language interpreters, notetakers, and / or CART) when accessing any HRM recreational programs including day camps.
b)  This policy is to be posted on HRM’s website.

2) Absence of professional sign language interpreters at televised City Hall meetings

DESIRED OUTCOMES:
a) HRM arranges for professional sign language interpretation of its televised HRM City Hall meetings
b) Interpreters will be shown in split screen as opposed to PIP (“picture in picture”) as in a bubble on the lower right corner.

Lake Echo District Park – Park Planning Workshop (Monday, 6:30pm, Lake Echo Community Centre) — no further details given.

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 2pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. I’ll have more to say about it tomorrow.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

CALLIOPE Austria: Women in Society, Culture and the Sciences (Monday, 9am, International Student Centre, 1246 LeMarchant Street) — From the event listing:

…a travelling exhibit which showcases an impressive collection of outstanding w​omen from Austria, from the 18th century through to the present day, who have left their mark and helped shape history. The remarkable Austrian women featured in this exhibit, from Bertha von Suttner to Hedy Lamarr, have each made a memorable contribution to the empowerment of women in Austria and countries worldwide. By presenting their portraits and biographies, CALLIOPE Austria aims to increase awareness of these women’s achievements.” Runs until October 22.

The Nine Circles of Brexit: A Guided Tour of  Britain’s Path out of the EU (Monday, 11:30am,  University Hall, Macdonald Building) — Ian Cooper from Dublin City University will speak.

Wavelet Sets for Crystal Symmetry Shifts (Monday, 3:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Keith Taylor will speak. His abstract:

The Shannon wavelet is useful for the analysis of functions of one real variable. We will explore a generalization to higher dimensions with a focus on the two dimensional plane where results are easily displayed. Then we will generalize again by replacing integer shifts with the symmetry motions of a 2d crystal (aka wallpaper) group​.

Tuesday

Faking It: The impact of Fake News on today’s political landscape (Tuesday, noon, Room 1011, Rowe Management Building) — a panel of media representatives will explore the impact of the “fake news” phenomenon on the global political landscape. Speakers include Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Buzzfeed News; Keith Boag, CBC News, Washington Bureau; Jennifer Ditchburn, Policy Options Magazine; Lee-Anne Goodman, The Conversation Canada; and Kelly Toughill, University of King’s College, School of Journalism.

Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3:00pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — there’s going to be a Presidential Search Committee.

Angela Davis

Belong Forum: Angela Davis (Tuesday, 7pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Angela Davis is in town. How am I just learning about this on Sunday? Anyway, registration is full, but you can livestream the event here.


In the harbour

04:30: YM Enlightenment, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Rotterdam
05:30am: Miraculous Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Davisville, Rhode Island
05:45: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Boston (seven-day round-trip cruise out of Boston)
06:00: AS Felicia, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from Miami
06:30: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
10:30: Fremantle Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
15:30: Serenade of the Seas sails for Saint John
16:00: Atlantic Sea sails for New York
16:00: Fremantle Highway sails for sea


Footnotes

We should be getting our first snow soon.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. So some oaf on twitter has a go at Tim because he is a CFA. Everyone in Canada is a CFA, some of us just arrived later than others.
    And without the millions of CFA persons there would be nothing in N America other than trees,desert, mountains, rivers, fish,animals and lakes.
    And no Twitter.

  2. I have no idea why they can’t enforce the government monopoly on cannabis in a sane way: Send people into dispensaries to buy medical cannabis without the required paperwork and go from there.