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:
Monday, April 11
Joan Baxter reported on a new study that shows the mill’s emissions of some air pollutants greatly exceeded federal reporting thresholds and were often much higher than other mills in Atlantic Canada. As Baxter reported, “The study, published in the international peer-reviewed journal Pollutants, shows that from 2002 until 2019, the amounts of fine particulate matter emitted by Northern Pulp were a staggering 100,000% higher than the federal government’s reporting threshold of 0.3 tonnes per year.”
2. Dave Westlake doesn’t have malice towards the two RCMP cops who shot at him, but he wonders how they missed
Jennifer Henderson had this report on what Dave Westlake, “EMO Dave,” told investigators with the Mass Casualty Commission about what happened the morning at the Onslow Belmont fire hall when RCMP officers fired shots at the building.
Stephen Kimber remembered when Stephen McNeil’s Liberals were in power and Tim Houston’s Tories railed against the way the government abused the law amendments committee to rubber-stamp its legislation. Houston is premier now, but as Kimber wrote in his weekly column, when it comes to law amendments, nothing has changed.
In his first Monday Morning File, Ethan Lycan-Lang was up very early and wrote about a group of Dartmouth residents who were out on Sunday at the edge of the Eisner Cove Wetland to protest the government’s plan to fast-track an 800-unit development in Southdale’s largest green space. “People want the province to get to work on housing,” Lycan-Lang wrote about the group, “but they’d like to have a say in things.”
5. Cst. Heidi Stevenson wanted the public to be warned about the killer driving a fake police car; RCMP higher-ups said no
Tim Bousquet chronicles the events of the morning of April 19 when Cst. Heidi Stevenson was murdered after the killer hit her car head on with the cruiser he was driving. Bousquet also looked at how two hours before she was killed, Stevenson suggested that the public should be alerted about the fake police car, but her suggestion was disregarded.
Zane Woodford was at the Law Amendments Committee on Monday where Bill 137 will move ahead without any changes. The bill had a set of amendments to the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter designed to speed up development approvals in HRM. But Coun. Pam Lovelace told the committee the bill is “anti-democratic,” and said, “it reduces transparency. And takes power away from community.”
Tuesday, April 12
Leslie Amminson looked at how the demand for legal and housing supports has increased since the province lifted its state of emergency, and with it the ban on renovictions. And more people need help as they’re evicted from their homes. Melissa Puddicombe, director of practice and development at Shelter Nova Scotia, said they’re feeling the effect of the ban being lifted, and added, “I’m surprised the numbers aren’t higher.”
A provincial paid sick leave program ended on March 31, but as Jennifer Henderson reported this week, the Houston government brought it back for a bit. The will provide four paid days pf sick pay to workers, businesses, and self-employed people who need to stay home from work between April 1 and May 7. NDP leader Gary Burrill said the government “was ill-advised” to shut down the program in the first place.
3. Morning File: Renovictions spike, but let’s not forget the plight of landlords
Philip Moscovitch looked an Ontario landlords’ association website that shares stories of poor-me landlords having trouble evicting tenants. “It’s a whole genre,” Moscovitch of the stories on the site, “and clearly a storyline the association has been pushing. The stories are illustrated with the kinds of terrible stock photos usually used to illustrate stories on mental illness (don’t get me started).”
4. Nova Scotia can demonstrate public sector leadership in sexual health by committing to free contraception for all
Martha Paynter, registered nurse and chair of Wellness Within, had this commentary about the “wise investment” of free contraception for everyone. “Providing free contraception results in significant cost savings and improvements in population health. Governments save over $7 for every dollar invested in contraception,” Paynter wrote.
5. North Preston residents raise concerns, want apology after emergency alert sends out “false information”
Matthew Byard spoke with Archy Beals, a resident of North Preston, who heard the emergency alert on Friday night, after seeing police cars speeding down Highway 7. The alert included information about gunfire in North Preston. Turns out it wasn’t accurate. Beals and other residents are concerned about the accuracy of the alerts, and Beals wants the community to get an apology.
6. Halifax councillors pass 4.6% increase to average property tax bill, including 3% for climate action
Zane Woodford reported on Halifax regional council’s budget meeting where councillors finalized the budget with an increase in the property tax bill that includes a percentage for climate action. But Coun. Trish Purdy wasn’t pleased with that increase, saying “this is not the right time,” and residents can’t afford it.
7. Free contraception offers significant cost savings, improvements in population health, advocates tell Standing Committee on Health
Yvette d’Entremont was at the Standing Committee on Health where three sexual health advocates all called for free contraception for everyone. Not only would free birth control save the province money, but it’s a gender-equity issue, too, the advocates told the committee.
Wednesday, April 13
1. Acadian, francophone group hosting rally to support French first-language education, private member’s bill
Yvette d’Entremont spoke with the president of FPANE (Acadian parents federation of Nova Scotia), which hosted a rally on Thursday in support of French first-language education, as well as a private member’s bill. That legislation, if passed, would ensure students in the province’s Acadian schools “would receive a Charter-compliant education, reflecting the cultural and linguistic rights of Acadians and francophones in Nova Scotia.”
Jennifer Henderson was at the health committee where all the talk was about Omicron. Surgeries continue to be cancelled and health care staff are off the job with the virus. As Henderson reported, Dr. Todd Hatchette, the chief of the microbiology lab for Nova Scotia Health, told the committee this could be “the new normal” for several weeks.
Tim Bousquet and Jennifer Henderson reported on the morning of Sunday, April 19 when Gina Goulet was texting her daughter about the killer in Portapique. Goulet was GW’s last victim. It’s a heartbreaking account of how Amelia learned about her mother’s murder.
4. Morning File: Wait for it: Wordle and the forgotten art of delayed gratification
Ethan Lycan-Lang was late to the Wordle game, but now he’s addicted to it. He wrote about the game’s appeal: it’s straightforward, free, void of ads, simply designed, and social. But there’s something else unique about Wordle. “For me, there’s one thing I enjoy most about it,” he wrote. “It comes out once a day.”
Joan Baxter revisited her award-winning series on Port Wallace, the real estate boom, and the toxic legacy of gold mining with this latest article that looks at the proposed development. Recently, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing designated Clayton Developments’ Port Wallace property one of nine “special planning areas,” which is slated for fast-tracked development in the HRM. You can read the first three parts of Baxter’s series here, here and here.
Matthew Byard learned about the #1792Project, an advocacy and letter-writing campaign aimed at educating people about the history of the 1,196 Black Loyalists who, in January of 1792, left Nova Scotia aboard 15 ships on a mass exodus to Sierra Leone in Africa. Byard includes a history lesson on the exodus, which took place 230 years ago this year.
Thursday, April 14
Jennifer Henderson was at the Law Amendments Committee where advocates spoke out about Bill 147, which includes major amendments to the Public Utilities Act and the Electricity Act. The bill proposes to give the government and the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board the power to introduce performance standards for Nova Scotia Power, including meeting environmental targets and establishing a program to assist low-income families with their power bills. But critics told the committee the bill didn’t have any teeth.
2. Morning File: “My body, my choice” except if you have a uterus
Suzanne Rent took a look at the slogan “my body, my choice,” which has long been used by the reproductive justice movement, but was more recently co-opted by anti-vaxxers. And to those people shaming people for dying after being swept out to sea at Peggy’s Cove? Stop it.
Zane Woodford had details on the Supreme Court of Canada’s dismissal of Nova Scotia’s bid to appeal a decision that found the province has been discriminating against people with disabilities for years. As Woodford reported, the court didn’t list a reason for its decision on applications for leave, but Vince Calderhead, one of the lawyers on the case, said, “it kind of sends a message that this was an unnecessary and pointless application.”
4. Tenants still holding out hope for Highfield, but concerns about trash, repairs, and staffing remain
Suzanne Rent caught up with Cindy Fowler, who lives in Highfield Park. A year ago, Fowler started a Facebook group, Hope for Highfield, where she and other tenants share concerns and frustrations about the buildings in which they live. Rent also talked with the owners of the Highfield Park properties.
Matthew Byard had this follow-up story on that emergency alert from last Friday. In an email to the Examiner, Cpl. Chris Marshall said the details in the alert were based on information providers by callers to 911.
From our archives
It was almost two years ago that 22 Nova Scotians from Portapique to Shubenacadie were murdered. Tim Bousquet had this Morning File on April 20, 2020, the day after the weekend killings. At that point, we didn’t know all the details of what happened, and we knew of 15 of the 22 victims. “It will never make sense,” Bousquet wrote in that Morning File. That story was the first of many the Examiner has published on the mass killing that weekend. Bousquet is now live-tweeting the Mass Casualty Commission hearings, and he and Jennifer Henderson have been reporting on what happened that weekend. The Mass Casualty Commission resumes on April 25.