News

1. Adoptions

On the Adopted in Nova Scotia Facebook page, people share photos hoping to help in their search for adoption records.

“If the ‘Adopted in Nova Scotia’ group on Facebook is any indication, nearly 5,000 people in this province are searching for either their birth parents or adult children who were placed with adoptive families,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

They are looking for clues to help answer questions that people raised by their biological parents don’t have to ask. Who are my parents? My grandparents? Aunts and uncles? Where did they come from? Do I have siblings? Why do I have a passion for music or this curly hair that my adoptive parents don’t? Did my birth parents have genetic or medical conditions that could emerge in my life or my children’s lives?

Thousands of adoption records that could hold answers to these profoundly personal questions are held by the Department of Community Services. “Non-identifying information” available to an applicant might include information on the adoptee’s birth history and early development. They might contain the birth parents’ physical descriptions, health information, religion, occupations, or education.

What it is not available are the names of Mum and Dad.

The Nova Scotia Adoption Information Act was passed in 1996. Adoptees are not allowed to receive the names of birth parents unless the parents give consent, even after they’re dead. Birth parents can’t get the name of the adoptive parents who raised their child unless they consent.

Every other province in the country has changed its legislation to allow greater access and sharing of this personal information, while still maintaining boundaries to protect privacy. (We’ll look at how that’s handled later).

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia is the last province where adoption records remain tightly closed. It’s as if legislators take a perverse pride in declaring, “We’re Number Ten!”

Click here to read “Nova Scotia is the only province that hasn’t unsealed adoption records.”

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2. Lobster fishery at a crossroads

Inshore lobster fishery. Photo: Krista Fulton

On Friday, we published the third and final instalment of Joan Baxter and Linda Pannozzo’s “Lobster fishery at a crossroads” series. The first two parts (see Part 1 and Part 2) explored the context of the conflict between non-Indigenous and Indigenous fishermen, and Part 3 really brings it home. The quick take-away: in terms of the health of the fishery, the issue of off-season “moderate livelihood” fishing is practically immaterial compared to the larger issues of illegal fishing, corporate fishing, and especially, climate change.

Click here to read “Part 3: What are the prospects for the Atlantic lobster fishery?”

We left this series in front of the paywall so everyone could read it, but it of course takes considerable time and money to produce these in-depth investigative series. If you support this work, please consider subscribing.

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3. “Not a racist”

Halifax Regional Police Constables Kenneth O’Brien (left) and Brent Woodworth speak before Thursday’s Police Review Board hearing in Enfield. Photo: Zane Woodford

“A Halifax Regional Police officer says race was not a factor in his decision to arrest a Black man after he stopped him in a city park after 10pm,” reports Zane Woodford:

Const. Kenneth O’Brien testified on Friday at a Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing into the arrest of Adam LeRue and his common law partner, Kerry Morris, back in February 2018.

O’Brien testified that he first thought LeRue was “Middle Eastern” when he walked up to the vehicle, but later found out he was Black when LeRue mentioned his race in conversation.

“I am not a racist person,” he said. “Race was not a factor in this.”

Click here to read “Constable who arrested Black man in Halifax park tells police review board he’s ‘not a racist person.’”

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4. Santina Rao responds to SIRT report

Santina Rao and her child. Photo: Helena Darling

“Let’s open the discussion about what life is like for a Black woman,” writes Santina Rao:

Let’s open it up even further, by talking about what it’s like to be a queer Black woman.

To open it up completely, let’s talk about what it’s like to be a Black queer woman who has been abused for all of her incredibly short 24 years of life.

Now, as I go further into my feelings and opinions about what was written by SIRT, I want to emphasize and intensify the severe, disturbing sinisterness that crawled over me as I sat and read every single word on that page that was strung together as to what took place January 15th, 2019.

Click here to read “Is a Black woman’s voice and presence threatening? Santina Rao responds to the SIRT report.”

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5. And what about SIRT?

Writes Stephen Kimber:

A report by Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team clears Halifax police officers in the violent arrest of Santina Rao. But it doesn’t even try to explain how what happened at the Walmart that day was allowed to become the confrontation that led to her arrest.

Click here to read “Shopping while strolling.”

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6. Municipal election

Halifax City Hall in August 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Because it’s around the corner, I only check my mailbox every couple of weeks. I must drive the carrier(s) nuts, as the thing is always chockfull of mostly junk by the time I get around to emptying it. But this weekend, among the ads and coupons and the rest of the detritus of a particularly desperate stage of failing capitalism was the voting information for the municipal election.

I’m distrustful of electronic voting. It’s only a matter of time before some election somewhere is going to be obviously hijacked in the process, and then what do we do? So [checks voter information card] today! I’m going to don my mask and truck over to the Dartmouth Sportsplex and cast my ballot in person, as Cleisthenes and Thomas Paine intended.

Anyway, I’m just using this as an excuse to again provide links to the Examiner’s candidate questionnaire. Here’s each district:

Mayor
District 1 (Waverley–Fall River–Musquodoboit Valley)
District 2 (Preston–Chezzetcook–Eastern Shore)
District 3 (Dartmouth South–Eastern Passage)
District 4 (Cole Harbour–Westphal)
District 5 (Dartmouth Centre)
District 6 (Harbourview–Burnside–Dartmouth East)
District 7 (Halifax South Downtown)
District 8 (Halifax Peninsula North)
District 9 (Halifax West–Armdale)
District 10 (Halifax–Bedford Basin West)
District 11 (Spryfield–Sambro Loop–Prospect Road)
District 12 (Timberlea–Beechville–Clayton Park–Wedgewood)
District 13 (Hammonds Plains–St. Margarets)
District 14 (Middle/Upper Sackville–Beaver Bank–Lucasville)
District 15 (Lower Sackville)

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Views

1. Jury trials

Photo: Halifax Examiner

On September 26, I wrote about the province’s absurd search for a space to conduct properly distanced jury trials:

The solution is blindingly obvious:

The Grafton Street Glory Hole, with the convention centre above it. Photo: Halifax Examiner

There’s a need for a big building with lots of space for physical distancing, and the province is paying millions of dollars a year for the convention centre, a big empty building with lots of space for physical distancing. Bob’s your uncle.

Not so quick. Jennifer Henderson asked Jennifer Stairs, the communication person for the courts, if they were contemplating using the convention centre. Stairs responded:

The Judiciary has been consulted on the requirements from the Courts’ perspective but it is the Nova Scotia Department of Justice handling the search for a long-term venue to hold jury trials in the Halifax region. I have no further information at this time.

Sigh.

I have no further information either, but I’m guessing that the convention centre is too expensive. No, that makes no sense at all. The province owns half of the convention centre (the city owns the other half), so using it would be something like taking money out of your right pocket and putting it in your left pocket. Moreover, the province has to cover half the losses of the centre, which are about $6 million this year. Whatever the costs of paying rent to use it for the courts, that expense simply decreases the end-of-the-year bailout.

But government budgeters don’t work that way. There are categories, see. Processes. Budget line items that are more sacred than the overall financial picture.

Somewhere right now, there’s a bean counter over at Justice saying, “oh boy, we can’t afford that kind of rent,” and the conversation ends.

A few days later, on October 1, the province announced it had found space for two courtrooms — on Mellor Avenue in Burnside. As I tweeted that day, it’s not particularly easy  for potential jurors to catch a bus anywhere near the new courtrooms. From the Bridge Terminal, for example, you have to take the 87 to the Highfield Terminal, then catch the 72 to Wright Avenue, then walk half a kilometre to Mellor Ave. In contrast, a bevy of buses passes within two blocks of the convention centre, with the #1 passing by every 10 minutes during peak times.

But this morning in the Chronicle Herald, lawyer Don Murray points out the effect the multiple delays on finding courtroom space has on the accused, who have of course not been convicted:

While the Supreme Court finally decided to start scheduling Halifax jury trials again on Sept. 23, the court was only offering dates starting on Feb.1, 2021 — which is still four months away. Those dates were also offered on the condition that there would in fact be two courtrooms available starting in February. If there are construction delays or mishaps, currently scheduled trials may still not happen.

The province put the court on an essential services model a full six months ago. It would have been obvious by April that the Halifax Law Courts building would be unable to accommodate one criminal jury trial at a time, let alone the three that it could sometimes run simultaneously.

Has it really taken six months to find an empty building that court administrators found suitable if renovated, and that the province was willing to afford in terms of leasing and improvement costs?

In June, July, and August, the court very explicitly told those who were expecting to have jury trials that the province had been unable to identify a location in which to do so in Halifax Regional Municipality. While the province continued to be unable to do that, people were waiting in jail without any prospective trial date at all. Some of those people in jail had been waiting a long time for their trials, even before the COVID-19 shutdown. They now have a compounded delay, which in some egregious cases is beyond the time that the Supreme Court of Canada said people should have to tolerate for a decision about guilt or innocence.

Some of the people who have been held in custody awaiting jury trials, and who actually had their trials scheduled to be heard in April, May, or June of 2020, will now effectively have been compelled to experience a further year or near-year of waiting.

Meanwhile, New Brunswick is holding a high-profile murder trial, complete with properly distanced jury, at, yep, the Fredericton Convention Centre.

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Government

City

No meetings this week.

Province

Tuesday

Health (Tuesday, 10am, Province House) — Robyn MacQuarrie and Nancy macCready-Williams, from Doctors Nova Scotia, will discuss the ongoing doctor shortage.

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Nova Scotia Health Authority; Cybersecurity and Fraud Risks – October 2019 Report of the Auditor General, Financial; with Brendan Carr.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Separable and central simple (higher) algebras (Tuesday, 2:30pm) — Via Zoom, Theo Johnson-Freyd from Dalhousie will give

a review of the famous characterization of separable algebras in terms of dualizability/adjunctibility conditions, and of central simple algebras in terms of invertibility conditions, in the bicategory of algebras and bimodules. I then describe my recent generalization of these results in which algebras are replaced by monoidal (higher) categories. Prerequisites: some familiarity with the bicategory of algebras and bimodules, as explained for instance in the talk by Robert Paré.​

Info and link here.

Concord Floral (Tuesday, 7:30pm) — Ann-Marie Kerr directs Jordan Tannihill’s play in the Fountain School’s first online show of the season. Performances Tuesday to Friday evening, matinee Saturday at 2pm. More info here.

Wednesday

Nova Scotia Needs Students Rally (Wednesday, 1pm, Province House) — from the listing:

Did you know that Nova Scotia has the highest tuition in the Maritimes and is rapidly approaching the highest tuition in the country? Nova Scotia depends on students for population and economic growth, but post-secondary education in the province is chronically underfunded.

More info here.

Rethinking yeast models of protein misfolding (Wednesday, 4pm) — Martin Duennwals from Western University will talk. Info and link here.

U.S. Presidential Election 2020: What’s at Stake for Canada? (Wednesday, 7pm) — from the listing:

What’s really at stake for Canada and Canadians? How do the two presidential candidates stack up on critical political issues affecting our continental relationship? Our panel will look at ‘make-or-break’ issues on the North American agenda ranging across the spectrum from diplomacy and defense to trade and the environment to race and equality rights.

Info and link here.

Mi’kmaw water protectors at the Alton Gas site. Photo is a still from film “There’s Something In The Water,” courtesy Ellen Page.

There’s Something in the Water (Wednesday, 7pm) — Movie screening with Ingrid Waldron and David Suzuki; they’re joined in conversation afterwards with community activists Dorene Bernard, Louise Delisle, Michelle Francis-Denny, moderated by Sherry Yano. Info and link here.

Concord Floral (Wednesday, 7:30pm) — Ann-Marie Kerr directs Jordan Tannihill’s play in the Fountain School’s first online show of the season. Performances to Friday evening, matinee Saturday at 2pm. More info here.

King’s

Wednesday

Asha Jeffers and Irfan Ali

Live Poets! (Wednesday, 8pm) — with Asha Jeffers and Irfan Ali. More info and link here.


In the harbour

03:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
05:00: Glasgow Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for sea
05:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
13:00: Atlantic Kestrel, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea
15:30: Atlantic Sea sails for New York
23:30: GW Dolphin, oil taker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Antwerp


Footnotes

I’ve got nothing.

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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. As a birth mother who placed a child for adoption (a closed adoption) in 1989, I feel very fortunate that my daughter wanted to make contact when she turned 18. To this day, we have not met face-to-face but we text sporadically and have had one phone conversation. She has reached out for medical information on both me and her biological father and our respective families. I can see why other adoptees would want access to this information, and I hope Nova Scotia will soon change the rules.

    1. Conversely, my sister (adopted from birth) has never expressed an interest and the topic is never brought up.