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, July 11
In a recent column, Stephen Kimber highlighted criticism of a talk by the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society incoming president, Melanie Petrunia. Kimber quoted from an email he received from a lawyer with Burchell MacDougall, who claimed Petrunia had described the society’s policy on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) as “the elephant in the room.” This week, Kimber had a chance to finally watch the video of Petrunia’s speech. “And it puts — to my mind at least — a different spin on her remarks,” he wrote.
The city’s pilot project to get cars off Spring Garden Road lasted only four days. Tim Bousquet was on the #1 bus one of those days, watching cars drive up and down the popular strip. He argued the failure of the project wasn’t about bad drivers, but about bad design. “If you have to use signs to get people to do ‘the right thing,’ you’ve already failed. Same goes for ‘enforcement’ — if you need a cop, you’re doing it wrong,” Bousquet wrote.
2. Former residents of Halifax Protestant Orphans’ Home suing, alleging physical, sexual, and emotional assault
Zane Woodford spoke with three former residents of the Halifax Protestant Orphan’s Home. The residents are among five former residents suing the provincial government and the organization that once ran the home, alleging “an atmosphere of tolerance of physical, sexual and emotional assault,” and “dehumanizing, degrading” treatment of children in care in the 1950s and 60s. One of the residents told Woodford they’re suing so this doesn’t happen again.
On Monday, the municipality ordered Dalhousie University to stop demolishing a 19th century building on Edward Street. The university bought the property last year and wanted to tear it down, but neighbours organized to have it saved. While a demolition permit was being processed, Dalhousie went ahead and started the demolition of the house a week ago. The city, meanwhile, posted a violation notice.
This week, the Halifax Examiner team published several articles based on documents from the Mass Casualty Commission. In this article, Tim Bousquet wrote about the history of violence in the Wortman family. “Parents beat their spouses and their children. Children in turned beat their father, one stabbing a father, nearly killing him. Neighbours and passersby were beaten senseless for perceived slights. Pets were tortured and murdered,” Bousquet wrote.
Zane Woodford wrote about the design options for the bike lanes under the “Peninsula South Complete Streets” project. The goal of that project is to connect the Halifax Urban Greenway to Lower Water Street, with the Dalhousie University campuses along the way, and to connect Dal’s Studley and Carleton campuses with the Saint Mary’s University campus using Robie Street. HRM is holding small discussions via Zoom on July 18 and 20. There are plans for in-person public meetings.
Tuesday, July 12
1. ‘A greedy, overbearing, little bastard’: the life of a terrible man, from university ‘asshole’ to mass murderer
Tim Bousquet dug into documents that chronicle GW’s violence towards and manipulation of others throughout his life before the murders. According to a former roommate, who was interviewed by the Mass Casualty Commission, GW was a “bizarre individual” who would stay out all night, brag about his sexual exploits, and get into fights with other students. This story also chronicles the complaints GW’s patients made to the Denturist Board of Nova Scotia.
2. Brenda Forbes tried to warn neighbours and the RCMP about the “psychopath” in Portapique years before he went on his murderous rampage. No one listened.
Brenda Forbes, a former neighbour of GW, testified at the Mass Casualty Commission, this week. Joan Baxter, who interviewed Forbes in 2020, had this story on what Brenda and her husband, George, told the MCC about GW and his behaviour, describing him as a violent man who was extremely controlling of his spouse, Lisa Banfield. The Forbes were so fearful of GW they’d eventually leave Portapique.
Tim Bousquet wrote about the time the mass murderer went to Pictou looking for a man named Kip MacKenzie. GW wanted to kill Kip, who had inherited some property in Fredericton, New Brunswick, but GW felt the property was rightly his. The story is detailed in more documents from the Mass Casualty Commission.
4. She had a bad date with the future mass murderer, went back to his apartment, and an RCMP officer walked in
Tim Bousquet had this story about a woman referred to as QQ in documents from the Mass Casualty Commission. QQ told commission investigators about the time she met the mass murderer in the fall of 2000 and about a date they went on a week after first meeting. QQ talked about how when she was at GW’s apartment above the denture clinic, a visitor stopped by: an RCMP officer.
Uber documents leaked to British newspaper The Guardian and shared with a consortium of journalists are generating headlines around the world. Philip Moscovitch looked at some of what the journalists learned about Uber. “The files document all sorts of malfeasance in Uber’s push to become a global transportation company,” Moscovitch wrote. “Sorry, I mean a technology company that simply brings people with a car to share together with riders.”
Matthew Byard was at the ceremony in Truro on Saturday where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered an apology to the descendants of the No. 2 Construction Battalion. Byard spoke with organizers and others who worked for years to get an apology for the racist treatment experienced by Canada’s all-Black military regiment. Russell Grosse, executive director of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, told Byard the apology “is a remarkable part of the journey of the No. 2 Construction Battalion.”
Wednesday, July 13
Zane Woodford had his roundup of what happened at Halifax regional council. Councillors approved a contract at their meeting on Tuesday with Masabi, a UK-based company, for $1.5 million “for a mobile fare payment application and onboard validators” and five years of technical support. Also, the Halifax Convention Centre reported a loss, the latest on a report on “an ecological features assessment” of Sandy Lake, and an approval of the Elmwood hotel plan.
“Via Rail receives strike notice, warns service may be suspended,” warned a headline last week. But as Ethan Lycan-Lang wrote, unless you worked for VIA Rail in Nova Scotia, you wouldn’t even notice a strike. He wrote about the lack of options for train travel in the Maritimes and wondered what train travel could be if we made it a priority. Yvette also contributed a story about new nursing seats, Nova Scotians waiting for doctors, and a program offering support for sexual abuse survivors.
Tim Bousquet reported on documents titled “Perpetrator’s Violence Towards Common-Law Spouse” from the Mass Casualty Commission. Those documents looked at the 19 years of abuse Lisa Banfield experienced from GW. Bousquet wrote about how the two met, the first time he abused her sometime after 2002, how he had control of her finances, and the killer’s behaviour in the weeks before the murders of April 2020.
Zane Woodford was at an announcement for the government’s new Community Housing Acquisition Program, which will provide nonprofits with up to $10 million in low-interest financing toward the purchase of existing affordable housing, up to 95% of the sale price. The Housing Trust of Nova Scotia received a $5.6-million loan through the program to purchase buildings in Halifax, including one on Crown Drive. One tenant there said she no longer has to worry about being renovicted from the apartment where she’s lived for five years.
Thursday, July 14
The riotous gay rock band Partner — aka Lucy Niles and Josée Caron — beams into the show from Montreal ahead of its Sunday afternoon show at the Garrison Grounds for Halifax Pride. They dig into what it was like putting out an album in the pandemic, what pride means to them now, the lives they’re still changing, and guitar solos. Plus Adam Reid from Halifax Pride returns to chat about this year’s event, back to full strength for the first time since 2019. Plus a song from Jazz Fest headliner The Weather Station.
2. Morning File: Dealing with difficult patients in health care
After hearing a message on her doctor’s phone line about the staff not tolerating abuse and harassment, Suzanne Rent spoke with Dr. Leisha Hawker at Doctors Nova Scotia about the anecdotal rise of abuse of health care workers. Also, she dips her toes into the conversation about the controversial stairs into the Halifax Harbour. If you don’t like the stairs, stay off the stairs! Yvette d’Entremont also contributed an article on continued overcapacity at emergency departments in the province.
Joan Baxter looked at the documents from the Mass Casualty Commission that included notes from Const. Troy Maxwell, who took the 2013 complaint about the man who would shoot and kill 22 people in Nova Scotia in 2020. Maxwell claimed the incident was just a traffic complaint, but as Baxter wrote, his explanation and notes leave a lot to be desired.
Matthew Byard was at the meet and greet for the African Nova Scotian Justice Institute, which was launched one year ago by the former Liberal government. The work is going ahead as the institute will soon be hiring staff and opening an office. The institute will support African Nova Scotians in contact with the law, and address overrepresentation and anti-Black racism in the justice system.
5. Halifax issues demolition permit for Dal-owned house ahead of expedited heritage committee meeting
Almost a week after Dalhousie started demolishing a house on Edward Street on its campus, the city issued a demolition permit. The permit arrived the day before and expedited meeting of council’s Heritage Advisory Committee. Zane Woodford had the latest on this story, which included comment from Dalhousie.
Yvette d’Entremont spoke with Sarah MacDonald and Caitlin Ferry who are both in isolation in “Challenge Units” at the IWK Health Centre. MacDonald and Ferry are in the rooms being exposed to whooping cough by choice. It’s all part of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology’s first human challenge trial, which will help researchers better understand how the acute and highly contagious bacterial respiratory tract infection (caused by Bordetella pertussis bacteria) infects the body with the goal of building a better vaccine for pertussis.
Friday, July 15
1. Morning File: Hidden plastics: get your butts off the ground
Ethan Lycan-Lang looked at People’s Park, which will wind down on Monday. And he also wrote about the gross habit of people tossing their cigarette butts on the ground. He learned there’s a group of ocean conservationists out of Tofino called Surfrider Pacific Rimout, which created Canada’s first “cigarette surfboard,” or “dart board,” using butts collected from beach cleanups. It was made for World Oceans Day and was inspired by a movement that started in California. Stop littering, start surfing!
Zane Woodford attended a special meeting of the Heritage Advisory Committee that recommended in favour of heritage registration for a Dalhousie University-owned building on Edward Street at risk for demolition. The property will be protected from demolition for 120 days or until it’s officially registered by council. A statement from Dal said, “while there are many important aspects associated with protecting buildings that have genuine heritage value, Dalhousie does not believe 1245 Edward Street meets those criteria.”
From the archives:
Happy Examinerversay to Matthew Byard, who joined the Examiner team one year ago this month! Byard, who is a graduate of the Radio Television Journalism Program at NSCC, is our Local Journalism Initiative reporter and he covers stories from Black communities across Nova Scotia. Over the last year, Byard has made considerable number of connections in the Black community, bringing us stories of the community’s history, issues, and profiles of Black Nova Scotians. We look forward to reading more stories he digs up. Click here to read his past work.