Welcome to Weekend File, where you’ll find links to all the articles you might have missed last week. Jump to sections in this article:
Saturday, February 26
Yvette d’Entremont was downtown Halifax on Saturday where hundreds of people gathered with flags and signs to express solidarity with the people of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion. d’Entremont interviewed Kateryna Stepanova, who moved to Canada from Ukraine with her parents and two younger brothers in 2014 and still has family in Ukraine. Stepanova said, “you kind of lose the earth under your feet because there’s nothing I can do.”
Sunday, February 27
Monday was Peter Gurnham’s last day as the chair of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB). Jennifer Henderson interviewed Gurnham on his toughest assignment and what the biggest challenge will be for his successor.
2. Cop confidential: Why is so much of the city’s police budget discussion happening behind closed doors?
Stephen Kimber had some questions about the Halifax Regional Police budget, but like all of us, he doesn’t have all the facts. That’s because Police Chief Dan Kinsella privately shared “disturbing facts” during recent separate in-camera meetings with members of council and its board of police commissioners. So, what is really being said in those in-camera meetings? Kimber wants to know.
Monday, February 28
Each year, ACORN hosts a Slumlord Smackdown contest that gets hundreds of entries for the city’s worst slumlord. But Jen Powley argues there’s a better way to avoid slumlords: landlord licensing.
2. Morning File: A prescription for logic- and evidence-based healthy living
Pharmacist Graham MacKenzie has made headlines for removing sugary drinks and homeopathic products from his store. This week, Suzanne Rent spoke with him about his book, Healthy Logic, which is easy-to-read information on healthy living, including hits and misses at your local drugstore.
This article includes graphic descriptions of intimate partner violence, multiple murders, and trauma to children.
Tim Bousquet and Jennifer Henderson have been going through thousands of pages of documents about the April 2020 shootings just made public this week. They had this report with a timeline of events of the night of April 18, 2020.
On Monday at the virtual meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners, Halifax Regional Police Chief announced that all officers will soon be assigned badge numbers and new, sewn-on name tags. Zane Woodford was at the meeting, and had the details on the new policy.
Seven Nova Scotians from Nova Scotia Health’s Northern and Central zones died from COVID-19. Tim Bousquet had the COVID update with more details, including vaccination and hospitalization numbers.
Tuesday, March 1
1. Controversial Cape Breton land seller Frank Eckhardt to appear in court in April on weapons charges, pleads not guilty to extortion charge
Frank Eckhardt wasn’t present for his arraignment in Port Hawkesbury Provincial Court on Monday on a charge of extortion and a slew of weapons charges laid by the RCMP in December last year. Joan Baxter had this report that details the charges and the next court dates.
Philip Moscovitch wrote about habits, including the good ones and the bad ones, and why the good ones are so hard to keep. Those good habits are “less sticky.” So, how do we make them stick? Moscovitch tried to find out.
Jennifer Henderson looked through more documents from the killing in April 2020 and detailed what happened the night of April 18 in Portapique, starting with the call to 911 from Jamie Blair. Henderson asked why reinforcements weren’t sent in, writing “any read of this document suggests the chain of command was not clear.”
A former all-ages music venue in Halifax will have a new purpose soon as it’s being converted into an overnight shelter. As Zane Woodford learned, the province will spend $30,000 to staff the Pavilion shelter, while HRM will pay the operating costs. But it’s only for a few weeks.
5. Dalhousie University’s decision to source “sustainable biomass” from J.D. Irving and Wagner a “piss-off”
In May 2021 Dalhousie University issued a tender for “sustainable biomass” to feed the bioenergy plant on its agricultural campus in Truro, and then quietly awarded the contract to J.D. Irving and Wagner Forest NS. There wasn’t much news about the deal, but Joan Baxter reported the details here, and spoke with those who are disappointed with the news.
6. 2 COVID deaths, 336 COVID-related hospitalizations, 217 new cases reported in Nova Scotia on March 1
Tim Bousquet’s Tuesday’s COVID update had details on two new deaths from COVID: two women who lived in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone.
Wednesday, March 2
Zane Woodford has his summary of what happened at Halifax regional council’s meeting on Tuesday: photo enforcement got the green light; a new accessible on-demand taxi service is on the way; and more debate to come on the ditch tax.
Yvette d’Entremont interviewed Mary Jean Hande, a senior researcher with Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS), who said the provincial government must improve home care services. Hande described home care in Nova Scotia as “a patchwork, sprawling, largely unregulated system right now.”
3. Morning File: Banking on peace in a time of crisis
Ethan Lycan-Lang got a message from his bank this week saying they know he might be feeling “uneasy” about how escalating geopolitical tensions between Russia, Ukraine and NATO may impact his investment portfolio. And suddenly, Lycan-Lang’s fears all washed away. He wrote, [insert sarcasm font], “Yes, war is bad, but financially speaking, it’s usually just a hiccup. All I’ve gotta do is ride this one out and keep my eyes on the long game.”
Matthew Byard interviewed Brian Daly, an assistant professor at University of King’s College, who’s worked in the media for almost 30 years. Byard spoke with Daly about his career and about the lack of Black voices in local media. Daly said, “I’m disappointed at the lack of representation of African Nova Scotians in mainstream media, and that’s inexcusable.”
Suzanne Rent had a mammogram on Monday and left with some questions. So, she decided to find out how the number of screenings were affected by COVID lockdowns and why the test requires all that squishing of the boobs.
6. 4 COVID deaths, 334 COVID-related hospitalizations, 362 new cases reported in Nova Scotia on March 2
Three men and one woman are the latest Nova Scotians to die from COVID-19. Tim Bousquet had more in this COVID update.
Thursday, March 3
International Women’s Day is on Tuesday and to celebrate, Tara Thorne interviewed pop artist Izra Fitch to the show. They chat about an upcoming all-day programming hosted by Music Nova Scotia, which includes a performance by Fitch, plus the women who inspire her. Listen for free.
Zane Woodford reported on the to a virtual meeting of council’s budget committee where HRFE Chief Ken Stuebing presented his proposed 2022-2023 operating budget. Stuebing told council we’re starting to see a “system under strain.” That strain is being felt most in Bedford and Sackville, and so he asked council to add 10 new firefighters to the complement.
Suzanne Rent did her own research and found a study by two researchers in Denmark. They created a computer program that searched 60 billion tweets and links in those tweets. What did they find? Well, they were able to break down exactly where provaxxers and antivaxxers got their information. And it’s from very difference sources.
4. 3 COVID deaths, 329 COVID-related hospitalizations, 421 new cases reported in Nova Scotia on March 3
Two men — one in the Eastern Zone, another in the Central Zone — died from COVID-19 this week. Tim Bousquet had more details, plus all the data on hospitalizations, vaccinations, and testing in this update.
Tim Bousquet looked at the questions the families want the officers to testify about at the Mass Casualty Commission, including the time the killer left Portapique, the decision for officers to go in on foot, and the officers’ interaction with the children.
Friday, March 4
1. The Maine connection: the Houlton Elks Lodge, the call that precipitated the murder spree, and how the killer obtained his guns
Jennifer Henderson had this report on what documents told us about the phone call Lisa Banfield had with a friend in Maine the night of April 18. As well, we learned more about who might have helped the killer obtain the murder weapons.
This week, the Mass Casualty Commission heard that police at Portapique shouldn’t be required to testify. Bousquet wrote, “if cops are not brought to testify, under oath, to be cross-examined, and sooner rather than later, then much of the public — including myself — will see this entire process as a mockery of justice.” Also, Bousquet wrote about what it means to be a real man.
Yvette d’Entremont recently interviewed Vett Lloyd, a researcher at Mount Allison University, who is launching a study to look at how Canadians are affected by long-COVID.
Jennifer Henderson went through the documents detailing the shoot-up at the Onslow Fire Hall, which started when two Mounties fired shots at a man standing next to a parked police vehicle outside the fire hall the morning of April 19, 2020.
Zane Woodford was at Halifax regional council’s budget committee on Friday where councillors debated the libraries budget from CEO and chief librarian Åsa Kachan. Kachan presented councillors with a series of options to increase the budget, and they voted to consider each of those options later on in their budget-building process.
Tim Bousquet had the final COVID update for the week, which included the details about four men who died from the virus. This made this week the highest weekly COVID death count of the entire pandemic. The next highest weekly death count was 18, February 12-18, 2022.
From our archives
As the second week of the Mass Casualty Commission wrapped up, we look back to July 28, 2020 when then federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced his government would launch a public inquiry into the mass killings. Zane Woodford had this story on that news. “We have heard calls from families, survivors, advocates, and Nova Scotia Members of Parliament for more transparency,” Blair said in a news release.
As Woodford wrote, earlier that day, then Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said in a news release, “I have heard from family members and many Nova Scotians who are opposed to a joint review of the tragic events of April 18 and 19 and would prefer a joint public inquiry.”