News

1. Bank of Canada acknowledges that climate change will impact the economy

“For the first time ever, the Bank of Canada has released a report examining the threat climate change poses to the country’s financial system,” reports Karina Roman for the CBC.

The report in question is the Bank’s annual Fiscal System Review, which lists six vulnerabilities in Canada’s economy, one of which is climate change. The report summary reads:

Climate change continues to pose risks to both the economy and the financial system. These include physical risks from disruptive weather events and transition risks from adapting to a lower-carbon global economy.

The Bank is undertaking a multi-year research plan to better assess the risks from climate change that are relevant to its mandate. This work includes collaborating with domestic and international partners, such as with the Central Banks and Supervisors Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS).

2. Health Authority releases number of privacy breaches, but little else

Catherine Tully. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The CBC’s Yvonne Colbert reports on the results of a Freedom of Information request to the Nova Scotia Health Authority regarding breaches of privacy. The NSHA shared figures showing just over 2500 breaches in roughly two years. Reports Colbert,

But there is no way for the public to know how many people have been impacted by having private health information improperly shared.

Not even the province’s privacy commissioner is fully informed and she wants to see that changed.

The CBC shared the results of their inquiry with Privacy Commissioner Catherine Tully, and she expressed concern that because of potentially very large databases at the NSHA, a single privacy breach could potentially affect very large numbers of people. Tully is also concerned that the NSHA is only required to report breaches classified as “no harm” to her office. All other breaches must be reported to affected patients, but not to the privacy commissioner.

Tully is urging Nova Scotians to “become activists” around the protection of privacy.

She said Nova Scotians who discover their privacy has been breached by health providers, or who get a breach notification from them, should speak up. She said they can complain to her office, which will determine if an investigation is needed.

Stephenson said any Nova Scotian can, at any time, ask for an audit of their health record to see who has accessed their personal information.

3.  Calling for an audit of HRM’s HR practices

Robert Devet of the Nova Scotia Advocate spoke with Connor Smithers-Mapp, a lawyer and member of Equity Watch, a group calling for “an independent forensic human resources audit of Halifax Regional Municipality,” in light of the recent Human Rights Commission decision awarding damages to a former employee of Halifax Transit, known only as Y.Z.

Devet asks Smithers-Mapp about the role of council and the union in perpetuating the situation that Y.Z., and at least two others working in the same “poisoned work environment” — as the Commission adjudicator described it — found themselves in. In a press release, Equity Watch member Judy Haiven called the situation “a catastrophic system failure of supervision and of human resource management.”

Smithers-Mapp calls for work to be done by both council and the Amalgamated Transit Union, who helped get Y.Z.’s chief tormentor re-hired back in 2002, but his strongest words are in reference to the city’s legal department.

What bothers me the most in all of this is that city lawyers advanced this argument that the racist slurs directed at Y.Z. were protected under free speech provisions. A first-year law student would know that hate speech is not protected under any free speech provision. The fact that the lawyer who advanced that argument thought they could get some traction that way is absolutely outrageous.

The city, whether it was the CAO, city council, or the mayor really should have made a public statement distancing themselves from that. I think people would have been forgiving if the city has said, look, in no way do we think that hate speech, or abusive speech is free speech. But at no time did they disavow what the lawyer was advancing. For me that’s really bad.

Connor Smithers-Mapp, Isaac Sandy, Tonya Paris and Rosa Poirier-McKiggan at the Glitter Bean Cafe in November, talking about racism on Halifax Transit. Photo: Nicole Munro

4.  Halifax councillor makes the news again, for having an uninformed opinion

News 95.7’s Victoria Walton has published a story giving voice to a Halifax city councillor‘s ongoing issues with the city’s Task Force on Commemoration. The story stems from an interview on the Rick Howe Show, and lists the councillor’s complaints with the task force project, namely that he believes it is taking too long to start public consultations, and that it is spending too much money. As it turns out, the task force is actively planning for public consultations to happen as early as next month, and is costing HRM half as much as originally budgeted.

Walton’s piece seems designed to simply echo and amplify the councillor’s comments from a radio talk show, without any background or context. Just for the heck of it, here’s a little bit of background on the task force, gleaned completely from the city’s website, which Walton links to, but leaves out of her story:

Members of the Task Force on the Commemoration of Edward Cornwallis and the Recognition and Commemoration of Indigenous History were first appointed last July. Then in the fall, the structure of the committee was changed to reflect an equal partnership between the city and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. From halifax.ca:

The mandate and membership of the committee remain the same. However, the original budget of $50,000 will now be funded equally by the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Assembly, and the administrative support for the committee will also be equally shared.

The new committee has also been asked to complete its work within two years.

The newly structured committee held its first meeting in February of this year, and their fourth meeting on May 13. The meetings are open to the public. A first series of public engagement sessions is being planned for June 2019. From the committee’s April meeting notes:

The Task Force aims to host multiple public engagement sessions in June of 2019 which are intended be the first of two phases in the public engagement process. The Task Force discussed potential consultant facilitators, guiding questions for engagement sessions, potential dates, times, venues and formats, proposed methods for publicizing the engagement process, and recording methods.

5.  Canadians are more comfortable expressing racist thoughts, survey says

“We need to smash those stereotypes and see the humanity in each and every one of us,” Afua Cooper tells Global News. Photo: blackincanada.com
“We need to smash those stereotypes and see the humanity in each and every one of us,” Afua Cooper tells Global News. Photo: blackincanada.com

Global News paid Ipsos Reid to survey over 1,000 Canadians about their thoughts on racism, and reporter Josh K. Elliot reporte on the results:

Almost half of Canadians will admit to having racist thoughts, and more feel comfortable expressing them today than in years past, a new Ipsos poll reveals.

The results land amid an uptick in the number of people who reported facing racism first-hand.

The poll, conducted exclusively for Global News, found that 47 per cent of respondents thought racism was a serious problem in the country, down from 69 per cent in 1992. More than three-quarters of respondents said they were not racist, but many acknowledged having racist thoughts they did not share with others. (All of the Ipsos poll data is available online.)

For local coverage of the poll, Global’s Alicia Draus asked prominent Haligonian people of colour to share their thoughts and stories, including Dalhousie professor and HRM Poet Laureate, Afua Cooper, who talked about the “sense of insecurity and vulnerability” that has increased since the Quebec Mosque shootings, and also the role that political leaders play in the rising comfort level with racism among Canadians. Draus reports,

“No politician should be linking one particular community with certain crimes or certain stereotypes,” she said. “We need to smash those stereotypes and see the humanity in each and every one of us.”

6.  Now you know: Viola Desmond was a trailblazer in the beauty business before becoming a civil rights icon

I have long been fascinated with the short life of Viola Desmond, ever since I saw a CBC documentary in the mid-2000s about her now-notorious Roseland Theatre case. For a variety of reasons, ranging from laziness to the sheer power of the narrative, we collectively seem to have shorthanded Desmond’s story into simply citing her as “Canada’s Rosa Parks” because she was at the centre of a legal challenge to Nova Scotia’s Jim Crow-style laws back in 1946.

This three minute video may just be able to change that, by expanding our limited collective understanding:

Produced by the Rella Black History Foundation, with research work by Dalhousie prof and HRM Poet Laureate Afua Cooper, the video gives the most complete (and succinct!) history of Desmond that I’ve seen to date. (Full disclosure: to my dismay, I have yet to catch the musical.)

For the more textually inclined, here’s what I wrote about Desmond’s back story in the Coast back in 2015:

Long before Fred Connors was a glimmer in his mother’s eye, Desmond was building a beauty empire in Halifax. By the time she was 32 years old, Desmond had opened Halifax’s first beauty shop catering to black clientele (The Desmond Studio of Beauty Culture on Gottingen, near Uniacke Street). She had also started a school training future beauticians from all over the Maritimes, and created a line of beauty products which she distributed throughout Nova Scotia (sometimes, presumably, through her former students).

The woman was not just a business and community leader, she was a trailblazer. Before Desmond, there was barely any place a black woman could get her hair done in Halifax. “I was refused several times,” says Desmond’s younger sister, Wanda Robson. “It was humiliating.”

“She was a role model for change,” says Leslie Oliver, former president of the Black Cultural Centre and Desmond’s nephew by marriage. “She was taking young women who otherwise would have been gearing up to do domestic work, and she was teaching them to run their own businesses, and to provide a service that the community needed.”

By just going about her business, Desmond set practical examples that defied the gender and racial stereotypes of the day. Remember the part of the story where she’s in a New Glasgow theatre? She got there in her own car, on her way to Sydney to distribute her own products.

“At that time black women didn’t own cars,” says Robson. “That was a unique experience in itself, for a woman and a black woman.”


Noticed

Silver Donald Cameron will be the first Farley Mowat Chair in Environment at Cape Breton University, to be announced at an event at CBU on June 7th. You may know Cameron from his project, The Green Interview, or as producer of the feature documentary Green Rights: The Human Right to a Healthy World.

On June 7th, Cameron will celebrate the chairship by doing his first-ever live, on stage Green Interview, with “the astonishing Margaret Atwood.” Atwood’s partner Graeme Gibson will be conferred an honorary doctorate at the same event.

For those of you far afield of CBU in early June, Cameron informs, via newsletter, “you can join us no matter where you are, because we’ll be broadcasting it live on CBC Radio in Sydney, NS — and livestreaming it on the web.”


Government

City

Wednesday

Accessibility Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 4pm, City Hall) — the committee is having its kick at the Centre Plan can.

Public Information Meeting – Case 22177 (Wednesday, 7pm, Maritime Hall, Halifax Forum) — WM Fares has put in a development application for an eight-storey (plus penthouse) building at the corner of Almon and Gladstone Streets. The property is owned a numbered company with four Ghosns (Justin, James, George, Jeffrey) as directors.

Thursday

Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — agenda

Public Information Meeting – Case 21394 (Thursday, 6:30pm, Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre, 45 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth) — Application by Teal Architects and Planners, on behalf of the property owner, to rezone the property from R-2/C-2 to GC (General Commercial) and enter into a development agreement to permit a 12 storey mixed-use building at 153 and 155 Wyse Road, Dartmouth. More info here.

Province

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — questions to Kelliann Dean, the deputy minister of the Department of Municipal Affairs, and to Paul Mason, the executive director of the Emergency Management Office, about “Critical Infrastructure Resiliency,” which was the subject of Chapter 4 in the November 2016 Report of the Auditor General.

Thursday

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Thesis Defence, Nursing (Wednesday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Britney Benoit will defend “The Influence of Breastfeeding on Pain-Related Event-Related Potentials and Bio-Behavioural Indicators of Procedural Pain in Newborns: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”

Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Seminar (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Anastasiia Mereshchuk will talk about “Investigating Maintenance of the Yeast 2-Micron Family of Plasmids,” followed by Jeffrey Simmons talking about “Characterizing the Mechanics and Structure of Recombinant Pyriform Silk.”​

Thursday

Beyond GDP: International Experiences, Canada’s Options (Thursday, 9am, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — see Tuesday’s Events listing. More info and registration here.

Monica Medina. Photo: bio.psu.edu

Microbial-host codevelopment in cnidarian holobionts from jellyfish to corals (Thursday, 11:30am, Biology 5th floor lounge, Life Sciences Centre) — Monica Medina from Pennsylvania State University will talk.

Sarah Styler. Photo: twitter

Dirty Cities and Smoky Skies: Chemistry and Photochemistry at the Surface of Tomorrow’s Urban Particulate Matter (Thursday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Sarah Styler from the University of Alberta will talk.

Saint Mary’s

Wednesday

Atlantic BIOCON 2019: Growing the Bioeconomy in Nova Scotia (May 27 to 29, various locations on campus) — Tim wrote snarky things about this yesterday.

Thursday

China Business Summit: Paving the Way for Nova Scotia (Thursday, May 30, in the building named after a grocery store) — registration open now. The listing says “Join local business people and experts for a free, hands-on, business-focused event with workshops on e-commerce, finance, negotiation and human resources.” Sponsors include the totally responsible and non-controversial Confucius Institute, Canada China Business Council, and NSBI; workshops include “Using China’s Payment Platforms in Canada, keys to a successful head start” with Riven Zhang of MotionPay, and a panel discussion on “Financing Trends in E-Commerce” with speakers from RBC and Export Development Canada.

More info and registration here.

Mount Saint Vincent

Thursday

American Refugees: Turning to Canada for Freedom (Thursday, 4pm, McCain 105-106) — book launch and author talk with former Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies, Rita Shelton Deverell. Check here to see if there are seats still available.

King’s

Thursday

Honorary Doctorates (Thursday, 2:30pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — at the 230th Encaenia (convocation) ceremony, Dale Godsoe and Lawrence Hill will each receive an honorary Doctor of Civil Law, and Bruce Gordon will receive an honorary Doctor of Canon law.


In the harbour

05:30: Hoegh Bangkok, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
09:15: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,446 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John on a nine-day, round-trip cruise out of Baltimore
15:30: Hoegh Bangkok sails for sea
18:30: Grandeur of the Seas sails for Baltimore
22:00: Brighton, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk


The Halifax Examiner is an advertising-free, subscriber-supported news site. Your subscription makes this work possible; please subscribe.

Legal fund

To contribute to the Halifax Examiner’s legal fundplease contact Iris.

Join the Conversation

3 Comments

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. You are at pains to defend the Commemoration Committee, but really, a group charged with carrying out a public consultation taking 11 months to hold it’s first consultation session isn’t exactly lickity-split, is it?

    And what’s with the coyness about using Councilor Matt Whitman’s name? Is this the journalistic equivalent of wearing a garlic clove around your neck to ward off vampires? Kind of childish, isn’t it?

  2. The short piece about Silver Donald Cameron’s appointment to a CBU chair was welcome news, but I’d like to add an important addenda to the mentioned credits in the piece. In addition to his important work on the Green Interview series, Don was also the co-creator of “Salmon Wars” a well-documented film exposing the massive expansion – by the Dexter and McNeil governments – of industrial salmon farms which have exploited and sullied the Province’s pristine bays and harbours. Readers can find info about salmon wars here: https://www.salmonwars.com/

  3. The story about Councillor Whitman ends with the following:

    “My recommendation is to pull the plug on the budget,” he says. “The public that I hear from are outraged, and I want people to contact this task force, and let them know how they feel about the committee and how they’re operating.”

    I encourage people who are outraged by this Councillor’s dog whistles to similarly contact the clerk’s office (clerks@halifax.ca) and let them know how they feel about him and how he is operating.

    You might also let the Councillor know directly, if a) he hasn’t blocked you and b) you think he cares what anyone else thinks.