Welcome to Weekend File, where you’ll find all the articles you might have missed last week. Jump to the days using these links:
Sunday, July 17
“Cross-examination isn’t the only valid — or always best — truth-seeking method for testing evidence,” Stephen Kimber wrote. “And, in light of last week’s controversy over Lisa Banfield’s appearance before the Mass Casualty Commission, it’s worth asking whether truth was all that was being sought.”
“There is a campaign of lies, innuendo, misogyny, and hatred directed against Lisa Banfield. The goal, apparently, is to destroy her,” wrote Tim Bousquet this week. Banfield has cooperated with investigators, gave interviews to the RCMP and the Mass Casualty Commission, yet the campaign against her continues. Bousquet looked into the issue of abused women and misogyny in our society. “For some, it’s easier to create a witch to blame for all these uncomfortable truths,” he wrote.
Monday, July 18
1. Morning File: Elizabeth May: the consolidation of the Canadian pulp industry is ‘a remarkable and ominous story’ covered only by Joan Baxter and the Halifax Examiner
Last weekend, former Green Party leader Elizabeth May gave a shout-out to Joan Baxter for her continued reporting on the takeover of much of Canada’s pulp industry by Paper Excellence. As Tim Bousquet wrote in this Morning File, Baxter will have more on the story soon. Bousquet also wrote about Russian long-range cruise missiles hitting a space rocket plant in Dnipro, Ukraine. And a look at how the CBC published a bizarre urban legend as news.
Tuesday, July 19
1. Early tree clearing approved for Dartmouth development site as opponents say they’ve found species at risk
Zane Woodford had the latest on one of the nine “special planning areas.” Clayton Developments recently got approval from the province to clear trees from the Southdale – Mount Hope area, but a group of local residents believes it’s found a threatened species of tree in the area. Now, those residents are calling for a proper environmental assessment of the area.
2. Halifax researcher creates world’s first ultra-high resolution ultrasound endoscope for surgeries
Yvette d’Entremont interviewed Dr. Jeremy Brown, who developed an ultrasound device and accompanying tool that has the potential to revolutionize brain and cancer surgeries. The tool uses an “ultrafast” imaging platform that enables surgeons to see brain tumours with 10 times the resolution of conventional imaging. Brown’s research is inspired by his PhD supervisor Dr. Geoff Lockwood, a pioneer of high-resolution ultrasound technology.
Tim Bousquet looked at some of the findings from documents released by the Mass Casualty Commission that outline the financial “misdealings” of the mass murderer. That same document also chronicled the killer’s friendship with Fredericton lawyer Tom Evans. When Evans died in 2009, the killer, who the Examiner is calling GW, took control of Evans’ assets, including two apartment buildings. He locked out directors of the companies that owned the buildings, failed to pay claims on the estate, and lied to the probate court.
4. Morning File: Criminalization, disappearance, and death: the results of clearing urban encampments
Philip Moscovitch had a packed Morning File with pieces on police evicting people from encampments in city parks, how all the new technologies in our cars are huge distractions that make driving unsafe, and a couple of pandemic-related stories that caught his attention this week. People are treating COVID as if it is endemic when it’s not.
Jennifer Henderson reported on a review from an independent panel that suggested MLAs in Nova Scotia get a 12.6% pay raise from their current annual base salary of $89,234.90 to $100,480.91. But as Henderson reported, Premier Tim Houston is having none of it. The premier wrote to Speaker Keith Bain asking to reconvene the legislature so the government can table amendments that will prevent the MLA pay increase recommended by the panel. The legislature will be back to work on July 26.
6. Civilian Review & Complaints Commission to investigate how the RCMP handled sexual assault complaints from Susie Butlin
Three days after the RCMP rebuffed her fears, Susie Butlin was shot and killed by the man who sexually assaulted her. That was nearly five years ago and Joan Baxter reported on the story then. Now as Baxter reported this week, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the RCMP “initiated a complaint and public interest investigation into the RCMP’s handling of the sexual assault and subsequent death” of Butlin.
Wednesday, July 20
1. Feds announce spending for net-zero community buildings, active living corridor in Antigonish County
Jennifer Henderson was at a meeting this week where Central Nova MP Sean Fraser announced that the federal government is spending millions to retrofit several community buildings in Antigonish County and build an active living trail for cyclists and walkers. But Henderson managed to sneak in a question about the cash for the Atlantic Loop. Fraser was pretty mum on his answer, saying conversations on the $2 billion for the loop are “ongoing.”
Matthew Byard spoke with George Mbamalu, the founder of the Africa Festival of Arts and Culture Society that hosts Afrifest, which started on Thursday. The festival, which celebrates African food, culture, and more, is now a four-day event. Mbamalu shared the story of how the festival got its start, how it’s evolved over the years, and other future plans the society has.
Ethan Lycan-Lang wrote about a video created by PLANifax that looked at the different ways the city can preserve heritage buildings. That video got Lycan-Lang thinking about how we can preserve heritage buildings in a housing crisis, and he looked at the historic Victoria Hall as one example. He also wrote about a new article by Philip Moscovitch, about psychedelic drugs, and how some Halifax therapists want the federal government to let them use drugs like ketamine to treat depression.
4. Advocates applaud province’s decision to remove barriers for gender-affirming care, but say more needs to be done
Yvette d’Entremont reported on a decision by the province to remove barriers to gender-affirming care. The province said surgery applications no longer require a letter of support from a Nova Scotia specialist and a letter from a specialist confirming post-operative care for surgeries that take place in the province. As d’Entremont learned, advocates like Gender Affirming Care Nova Scotia say the decision is “one step in a marathon” to address the inequalities experienced by trans, intersex, and gender-diverse Nova Scotians.
Thursday, July 21
Author Andre Fenton returns to the show with a new book, The Summer Between Us. It’s a complex, empathetic YA story about teens on the cusp of adulthood in the under-examined summer between high school and university, an expansion of the characters explored in his debut, Worthy of Love. He reveals his writing process, how his personal mission to unpack toxic masculinity dovetails with his hero’s, and what inspires him to write. Plus the lead track from the brand-new Aquakultre album out this week.
2. Morning File: What’s the point of the Mass Casualty Commission?
Tim Bousquet wondered about the point of the Mass Casualty Commission. Sure, a lot of important questions are being raised and the commission has released a hundreds of pages of documents, which Bousquet called a “treasure trove … the likes of which I’ve never seen publicly available before.” But what else is the point of it all? “There was a terrible loss of life, and too much pain to be privately contained,” Bousquet wrote. “The hurt is enormous, and inescapable. So as messy humans do, we ritualize it with an inquiry.”
Suzanne Rent spoke with Fallon Jones, director of the Atlantic region chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society about its “digital-first” model. The society recently closed all but one of its brick-and-mortar offices, so staff could work remotely. They also took their signature fundraising event online. Those decisions meant the society could cut its costs by 42%. They recently spent that money on research grants into blood cancers.
Zane Woodford reported that former IWK Health Centre CEO Tracy Kitch is appealing her conviction for fraud over $5,000. Kitch’s lawyers are arguing the trial judge failed to explain how using a corporate credit card for personal expenses is dishonest behaviour. As Woodford wrote, Nova Scotia provincial court Judge Paul Scovil convicted Kitch of fraud in February 2022. But in a notice filed in Nova Scotia Court of Appeal on Tuesday, Kitch’s defence lawyer Brian Greenspan, along with colleague Michelle Biddulph, argues the evidence wasn’t so clear.
Friday, July 22
Matthew Byard recently attended a virtual session that’s part of the Speak Truth to Power series hosted by Dalhousie University. The latest episode Black Queer and Trans Lives Also Matter aired last week, coinciding with Pride month and the Halifax Pride Festival. The all-Black LGBTQ panel members spoke about performative activism, woke rhetoric, and anti-Black stereotypes and myths that are perpetuated about homophobia and transphobia in the Black community.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Hants County Thursday to announce $255 million worth of renewable energy projects for Nova Scotia. Jennifer Henderson reported on the announcement, which included $125 million for wind farms and another $130 million to install battery storage sites at Waverley, Bridgewater, Waterville, and Onslow. But as Henderson reported, the news got a mixed reaction.
Zane Woodford had this report on Halifax Regional Police officers in full uniform patrolling Superstore locations across the municipality in recent weeks. Woodford reached out to HRP and they’d only talk about its extra duty program that is staffed by officers. He also reached out to a spokesperson at Superstore, who declined an interview.
4. Morning File: Letting loose on ‘live, laugh, love’
After seeing a sign with the ubiquitous phrase “live, laugh, love” on it, Suzanne Rent dug into its real meaning. “A lot of women are saying they identify with something else, like maybe ‘lie down, let it all hang out, and leave’ or some other version of this,” Rent wrote. “Where is the décor for us?” Plus, a history of another phrase we hear often: “No one wants to work anymore.”
From our archives
It’s hard to believe it was two years ago this month that Nova Scotia put a mandatory mask policy into place. As Yvette d’Entremont reported, masks would become mandat0ry in all public spaces as of July 31, 2020. Then Premier Stephen McNeil and chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang made the announcement at a COVID briefing that day. It’s interesting to note that only two new cases of COVID were announced that day. On July 29, 2021, almost a year after the mask mandate went into place, just one new case of COVID was reported. Nova Scotia lifted most of the COVID measures, including mask mandates this March. Mask mandates in public schools were lifted in May. COVID, however, is still very much with us.