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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tarrah McPherson seeks judicial review of Human Rights decision

Former Mount Saint Vincent student alleges her complaint against the university and Michael Kydd was dismissed without proper investigation.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 3:57 AM

LENNY MULLINS
  • LENNY MULLINS

If you filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, you'd expect the investigator would take the time to interview you.

It even says so on the Commission's website. “A human rights officer will interview everyone involved.”

Tarrah McPherson is alleging that didn’t happen in her 2016 complaint against her former instructor, Michael Kydd, and Mount Saint Vincent University.

In an affidavit filed this week at Nova Scotia Supreme Court, McPherson states “the investigator for the respondent Human Rights Commission failed to thoroughly conduct an investigation into my complaint.” McPherson also describes her efforts “ultimately, without any success, to have the Human Rights Commission investigator interview me regarding my complaint.”

McPherson has alleged sexual harassment on the part of Kydd, an instructor at Mount Saint Vincent who publicly admitted to having a sexual relationship with McPherson, who was at the time his student. The nature of that relationship is disputed by the two parties. Kydd was later fired for breaching the university's code of conduct for “non-disclosure of a relationship with a student, which resulted in academic bias.” McPherson also claims she was discriminated against by MSVU because of her gender and disability.

McPherson claims she provided some details when meeting with an officer to first file her complaint, but not all. The Commission discourages providing too many details, especially in a complaint form.

“A complaint form needs to include just the basic, important information. Too much information means important facts may get lost in the details. This could make finding a solution more difficult. There will be opportunities to provide more information and evidence.”

Based on this, McPherson and her lawyer waited for this opportunity, but McPherson claims they didn't get it.

When contacted, McPherson declined to comment and referred questions to her lawyer, Vince Calderhead.

On April 19, 2017, the commissioners of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission dismissed her complaint.

In a letter to McPherson, Kydd and the university, HRC chair Eunice Harker wrote that “After a thorough review of the matter, the commissioners decided that based on the available information…the complaint is without merit.”

It goes on to say that “decisions by the commissioners of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission are final.”

But the Commission’s work is subject to a judicial review, says Dalhousie professor Wayne MacKay.

“That’s one of the roles that courts have, to review to make sure the process is fair,” says MacKay, who’s the Yogis & Keddy Chair in human rights law at the Schulich School of Law and was director of the NS Human Rights Commission from 1995 to ‘98.

“They’re reluctant to second-guess the Commission on the substance of its decision, but the jurisdiction and process questions are what the court is charged with reviewing.”

A judge can uphold the decision, send it back and ask for the investigation to be completed or quash the dismissal and order a new investigation by a different officer.

The latter example occurred in a 2014 case involving a female firefighter in Halifax. Justice Arthur LeBlanc ruled that because a couple of key witnesses had not been interviewed, the investigation “suffered from the limitations inherent to written submissions.”

A thorough investigation requires more than just accepting the contents of written submissions, the decision says.

“A reasonable investigator would have recognized that additional crucial information could be gathered by conducting thorough and critically-minded interviews,” wrote Justice LeBlanc. “Given the central importance of their version of events to the outcome of the investigation, such interviews were required for a thorough investigation.”

LeBlanc ruled the lack of interviews amounted to a “breach of procedural fairness.”

One way to determine if the process was fair, MacKay says, is if every party was given the same chance to respond. If some were interviewed, but not others, that's hardly fair.

Also, if it's the norm to interview complainants then it “shifts the burden a bit to the investigator and the Commission to explain why they didn’t do that in this case.”

It's unclear if Kydd or staff at Mount Saint Vincent University were interviewed by the HRC.

Kydd's lawyer, Donna Wilson, responded by e-mail saying that “Neither of us has seen the paperwork on [McPherson’s filing] yet, so we really cannot comment.”

Mount Saint Vincent University spokesperson Gillian Batten didn't clarify if Mount staff were interviewed.

“I can advise that the Mount has complied completely with the Human Rights Commission’s process,” she writes in an email.

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Pump it up at Halifax Bike Week

The Mountain Equipment Co-op's Brendan Sutcliffe chats about common bike problems.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 3:20 AM

Gearhead Brendan Sutcliffe is off-the-chain. - DYLAN CHEW
  • Gearhead Brendan Sutcliffe is off-the-chain.
  • DYLAN CHEW

Taking consistent care of your bicycle can save you from disasters down the road.

For Bike Week, Mountain Equipment Co-op is setting up a slew of “mobile bicycle maintenance stations,” doing safety checks and offering advice on basic bike fixes.

In the meantime, Brendan Sutcliffe—bike mechanic at MEC—gives a few tips for keeping your ride in top shape.

First of all, “a clean bike is a happy bike,” he says. So, clean the damn thing. There are special products for this, but diluted dish soap and water will do the job in a pinch. Cleaning the frame, wheels, chains and sprockets keeps things going smoothly. It can also help the cyclist spot any potential problems.

“Sometimes when you’re down there really close to it and you’re cleaning it, you’re paying a little more attention,” says Sutcliffe.

Keeping air pressure in the tires is one of the most basic, but most important things a cyclist can do. It may seem obvious, but Sutcliffe says it’s something people tend to neglect. When tires don’t have good air pressure, the bike takes a lot more energy to pedal. On top of that, hitting a bump in the road can cause damage to the rims or a puncture in the tire.

The MEC offers free safety checks at the shop outside of Bike Week, and Sutcliffe’s done his fair share. He’s noticed “nobody’s brakes work very well.”

Thanks to Halifax’s “salty environment,” the cables that operate the brakes get corroded more easily. They also tend to stretch over time.

“Gears and brakes—they need to be tuned on a regular basis. It’s just a given.”

Sometimes nuts and bolts get loose, causing the handle bars to turn independent of the wheel. To check for trouble, pinch the wheel between your knees and pry on the bars. They shouldn’t move.

“If they actually slip and turn, that’s a good one to catch,” says Sutcliffe.

The Bike Week festivities roll on from June 2 to 11.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Liberals win second majority in close election

Both the PC and NDP parties pick up big gains, but Stephen McNeil comes out on top.

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 1:16 AM

Liberal Party winners (and some losers). - VIA TWITTER
  • Liberal Party winners (and some losers).
  • VIA TWITTER

It was a night of twists and turns, but the Liberal Party will once again form Nova Scotia's government.

The victory was bittersweet, though. Stephen McNeil's second mandate lost several important seats, and just barely held onto the party's majority at Province House. Still, the premier-designate called the night's results “democracy at its best.”

“Nova Scotia, you have spoken,” McNeil told an assembled crowd in Bridgetown.

The Progressive Conservatives, meanwhile, are once again the official opposition, having picked up seven ridings for a total of  17 seats in the legislature. Keith Bain took back Victoria–The Lakes in Cape Breton from Pam Eyking, who unseated the former MLA four years ago. Challenger Alana Paon also pulled off a huge win against longtime Liberal MLA Michel Samson in Cape Breton–Richmond.

In HRM, former regional councillor Brad Johns defeated Stephen Gough in Sackville–Beaver Bank, and Barbara Adams replaced Liberal incumbent Joyce Treen in Cole Harbour–Eastern Passage. Tim Halman claimed Dartmouth East for the Tories, walking away with the riding that retired independent MLA Andrew Younger left up for grabs.

Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie said it was a “great night” for the party.

“Look how far we've come,” Baillie told a crowd of supporters in Springhill. “Look at the gap we've closed. Look at what you've done.”

Both Baillie and McNeil picked up easy wins in their respective ridings. But the most dramatic leadership race went to the NDP and Gary Burrill, who overcame Liberal incumbent Joachim Stroink and PC challenger John Wesley Chisholm to become the MLA for Halifax Chebucto.

Burrill spoke at a rally in Halifax, saying he was moved with gratitude for his campaign team. Although the New Democrats had a smaller percentage of the vote than in 2013, the party was still able to pick up a total of seven seats.

Paraphrasing Yeates, Burrill called the results a “defeat more glorious than many a victory.”

Incumbents Lisa Roberts, Dave Wilson and Lenore Zann were all re-elected to the legislature, while Claudia Chender took the vacant riding of Dartmouth South. Several former Liberal MLAs were toppled by a crop of new NDP candidates, such as Tammy Martin defeating David Wilton, and Zuppa Theatre co-artistic director Susan Leblanc unseating former community services minister Joanne Bernard in Dartmouth North.

Even with those losses, the Grits had plenty of wins. Ben Jessome defended his seat in Hammonds Plains–Lucasville against HRM councillor Matt Whitman. Nearby, Brendan Maguire picked up a strong win in Halifax Atlantic, while Hugh MacKay defeated Denise Peterson-Rafuse in Chester–St. Margaret's. Former cabinet ministers Keith Colwell, Kelly Regan, Mark Furey, Zach Churchill, Karen Casey, Randy Delorey, Lena Diab, Margaret Miller, Leo Glavine, Geoff MacLellan and Labi Kousoulis were all re-elected.

A few ridings saw extremely close results, pushing predictions of whether the Liberals would form a minority government late into the night.

The final tally of seats will force Nova Scotia's new government to work much more closely with its opposition parties. Anticipating that, McNeil seemed to reach out to opponents during his acceptance speech.

“This election was about moving our province forward,” he said. “We have a plan, and the opposition parties have a plan. We can work together to make it better.”

The olive branch was also extended by Baillie, with some conditions.

“I think the people of Nova Scotia are saying they want their political parties to work together, and we get that message,” the Tory leader told party members, while warning that Conservative MLAs would not support the Liberals' recently proposed budget.

Final results and vote tallies from Elections Nova Scotia are still being tabulated (and will be adjusted in this post when released), but at the end of the night, CBC reported the Liberals had nearly 40 percent of the popular vote, which is down from nearly 46 percent four years ago.

The Conservatives saw a jump of 10 points, pulling in 36 percent of the vote. The NDP dropped by six percent, even while picking up extra seats (only five NDP incumbents were up for re-election).

There was also a big jump for the Greens. Nova Scotia's fourth party didn't win any ridings, but it did increase its vote share from 0.85 to nearly three percent. The Atlantica Party only pulled 0.5 percent.

Winners are posted below. The full results from Elections NS can be found here.

———

ANNAPOLIS

Stephen McNeil (Liberal)

CLARE-DIGBY
Gordon Wilson (Liberal)

HANTS WEST
Chuck Porter (Liberal)

KINGS NORTH
John Lohr (PC)

KINGS SOUTH
Keith Irving (Liberal)

KINGS WEST
Leo Glavine (Liberal)

ARGYLE–BARRINGTON
Chris d’Entremont (PC)

CHESTER–ST. MARGARET’S
Hugh MacKay (Liberal)

LUNENBURG
Suzanne Lohnes-Croft (Liberal)

LUNENBURG WEST
Mark Furey (Liberal)

QUEENS–SHELBURNE
Kim Masland (PC)

YARMOUTH
Zach Churchill (Liberal)

COLCHESTER–MUSQUODOBOIT VALLEY
Larry Harrison (PC)

COLCHESTER NORTH
Karen Casey (Liberal)

CUMBERLAND NORTH
Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin (PC)

CUMBERLAND SOUTH
Jamie Baillie (PC)

HANTS EAST
Margaret Miller (Liberal)

TRURO–BIBLE HILL–MILLBROOK–SALMON RIVER
Lenore Zann (NDP)

CLAYTON PARK WEST

Rafah DiCostanzo (Liberal)

FAIRVIEW–CLAYTON PARK

Patricia Arab (Liberal)

HALIFAX ARMDALE

Lena Diab (Liberal)

HALIFAX CHEBUCTO
Gary Burrill (NDP)

HALIFAX CITADEL–SABLE ISLAND
Labi Kousoulis (Liberal)

HALIFAX NEEDHAM
Lisa Roberts (NDP)

BEDFORD
Kelly Regan (Liberal)

HALIFAX ATLANTIC
Brendan Maguire (Liberal)

HAMMONDS PLAINS–LUCASVILLE
Ben Jessome (Liberal)

SACKVILLE–BEAVER BANK
Brad Johns (PC)

SACKVILLE–COBEQUID
Dave Wilson (NDP)

TIMBERLEA–PROSPECT
Iain Rankin (Liberal)

WAVERLEY–FALL RIVER–BEAVER BANK
Bill Horne (Liberal)

COLE HARBOUR–EASTERN PASSAGE
Barbara Adams (PC)

COLE HARBOUR–PORTLAND VALLEY
Tony Ince (Liberal)

DARTMOUTH EAST
Tim Halman (PC)

DARTMOUTH NORTH
Susan Leblanc (NDP)

DARTMOUTH SOUTH
Claudia Chender (NDP

EASTERN SHORE
Kevin Murphy (Liberal)

PRESTON–DARTMOUTH
Keith Colwell (Liberal)

ANTIGONISH
Randy Delorey (Liberal)

GUYSBOROUGH–EASTERN SHORE–TRACADIE
Lloyd Hines (Liberal)

PICTOU CENTRE
Pat Dunn (PC)

PICTOU EAST
Tim Houston (PC)

PICTOU WEST
Karla MacFarlane (PC)

CAPE BRETON CENTRE
Tammy Martin (NDP)

CAPE BRETON–RICHMOND
Alana Paon (PC)

GLACE BAY
Geoff MacLellan (Liberal)

INVERNESS
Allan MacMaster (PC)

NORTHSIDE–WESTMOUNT
Eddie Orrell (PC)

SYDNEY RIVER–MIRA–LOUISBOURG
Alfie MacLeod (PC)

SYDNEY–WHITNEY PIER
Derek Mombourquette (Liberal)

VICTORIA–THE LAKES
Keith Bain (PC)

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

North Preston campaign signs defaced with racist imagery

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2017 at 3:04 PM

VIA FACEBOOK
  • via Facebook

To say it’s an unpleasant start to election day is an understatement. 

Campaign signs in the Preston-Dartmouth riding have been vandalized by graffiti. Signs for PC candidate Irvine Carvery, NDP candidate Shelley Fashan and Liberal candidate Keith Colwell at the entrance to North Preston have all been spray-painted with racist and Nazi imagery, including a swastika.

It’s not clear when exactly the signs were defaced, but the vandalism came to light due to a Facebook post by Tyler Simmons on Tuesday afternoon. He says he spotted the signs at 11:30am after he voted.

“A place that once had a sign that read 'North Preston: the largest Indigenous African-Canadian Community in Canada' is now vandalize [sic] with white supremacy propaganda,” his post reads. “This is disturbing, disgusting and downright scary.”

Provincial NDP leader Gary Burrill later tweeted about the incident.

Colwell is the Preston-Dartmouth incumbent, while opposing candidate Carvery has run for political office multiple times. Fashan—a documentary filmmaker and African Nova Scotian Music Association board member—ran for District 2 in the municipal election last year.

Aaron Alexander of the Green Party is also in the Preston-Dartmouth riding.

Carvery and Fashan did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Shawn Cleary continues push for changes to HRM's snow plans

Regional council is, yet again, going to talk about sidewalk snow clearing.

Posted By on Fri, May 26, 2017 at 7:44 AM

Cleary clearly cares about snow clearing. - RILEY SMITH
  • Cleary clearly cares about snow clearing.
  • RILEY SMITH

The snow may be gone from Halifax—knock on wood—but Shawn Cleary still has winter on his mind. 

The councillor for Halifax West Armdale will be asking for two new staff reports at the next meeting of Regional Council that would allow residents to opt out of sidewalk snow clearing, and bring all of HRM's sidewalk snow and ice clearing in-house.

Residents of HRM were responsible to clear their own sidewalks up until 2013, when the city put the onus on municipal contractors. The result, Cleary says, is inconsistent clearing from district to district. There’s also the issue of equipment damaging property.

“Here on the peninsula especially—Districts 7, 8 and 9—we get tons of complaints and calls about the quality” of sidewalk clearing, says Cleary. “Just within the few streets around me, fences have been destroyed, stairs have been ripped off people’s front steps.”

Cleary has been outspoken aabout his snow clearing qualms on social media as well as at council. A report he called for back in December just came out last month, but Cleary says it didn’t contain all the information he wanted. In estimating how much it would cost to do snow clearing in-house, the report only applied the downtown costs.

“But downtown Halifax is like the most difficult sidewalk snow clearing you’ll ever find,” he says, pointing out that it costs less to clear residential areas such as Sackville and Bedford.

The report also noted that “sidewalk snow clearing will never be like road snow clearing,” as it will never get down to bare concrete.

“That kind of sets it up that it will never be as good as it would be if residents did it themselves—assuming that everyone went out and did it themselves,” says Cleary.

Now, he says, he’s “taking another stab at” getting council to look at shifting HRM's snow responsibilities.

“I don’t think it’s as expensive as staff let on for it to be,” he says.

Even if council votes for the staff reports, it'll be too late for any changes in time for next winter.

“There’s no way that, if they were gonna do it in-house, they could hire 400 people between now and October, November,” says Cleary, but the councillor believes this as an opportunity to map out a plan slowly and do it right.

“If it’s not gonna be done any better than it is now, then you might as well just take a wheelbarrow full of money down to City Hall and burn it in Grand Parade.”


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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Get ready for doggy paddles at the Dartmouth Sportsplex

The world is terrible, but at least we have swimming dogs.

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 11:47 AM

The Dartmouth Sportsplex pool is going to the dogs before it closes for renovations.

The Sportsplex, along with Camp Bow Wow—a local doggy daycare and boarding service—is hosting a dog swim for charity this Sunday. Who cares about wet dog smell when you know they're going to look this cute?

swimmingdog.jpg


Owners (who must be Camp Bow Wow clients) need to pre-register for the dog swim. The entrance fee is $20, with all proceeds going to Bide Awhile Animal Shelter and Marley’s Hope Dog Rescue. The press release says there will be plenty of toys for the pool-going pups.
click image swimmingdog2.gif


Camp Bow Wow staff trained in canine first aid and Sportsplex lifeguards will be on hand to keep the dogs safe, presumably making sure they don't run on the pool deck and only jump in feet first. The doggos are going to be splashing around in the training pool, which reaches a max depth of 3.5 feet.

If you don't have a dog (or your dog is a wimp when it comes to water), you can still go to gaze upon the cuteness. The suggested donation for spectators is five bucks.

The event is on Sunday May 28, from 10am until noon.

dogswimming3.gif


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Stephen McNeil gets grilled during leaders’ debate

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 10:03 PM

VIA CBC
  • via CBC

Jamie Baillie and Gary Burrill didn’t hesitate to dig into Stephen McNeil during the first debate between the three main political party leaders.

“Mr. McNeil, I hate to interrupt this litany of wonders,” Burrill chimed in as McNeil listed off “strategic investments” such as a trade deal with Europe. “Do you acknowledge as a fact that food bank usage in Nova Scotia has risen faster in the last year than any other province in our country?”

CBC Nova Scotia hosted the debate earlier Thursday evening, putting the spotlight on topics such as healthcare, labour and education. Outcry from the public on the need for family doctors and recent labour disputes with the province coloured the conversation.

A question from the audience honed in on an issue the leaders had yet to discuss: Policy on legalization of recreational marijuana.

“We think we have a lot of the skills to conduct this regulation in the right way in the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission,” said Burrill. “We’ve got over a year until this needs to be worked out and there is ample opportunity for us to have a full consultation.”

Baillie’s first instinct was “protect our kids. Eighteen is way too low” an age to buy weed. He also took a jab at the federal government for “imposing” the legislation “in a very short timeline.”

“That is a shame, because this is a major change in the health and safety, particularly of young Nova Scotians.”

McNeil pointed out that the Justice minister and attorney general “has been working with her counterparts across the country” on the issue.

“One of the things that was missed when the national government made their commitment was, what happens to edibles?” he said. “That was never part of the conversation, which I believe will be a big part of this.”

Burrill and McNeil found common ground on environmental issues, who both agree Nova Scotia should continue its fracking ban. Baillie, on the other hand, opposes this.

“I do believe communities should have that choice.”

Baillie only threw shade at the NDP once or twice, appearing to be more concerned with McNeil. Likewise, Burrill focused his criticisms on the Liberal government.

As a result, McNeil spent the majority of the time defending himself.

Both the PC and NDP leaders were quick to bring up the Nova Scotians who’ve been unhappy with McNeil–namely teachers, who were forced back to work without reaching an agreement at the bargaining table during the strike last winter.

McNeil countered that collective agreements have “to be the capacity we can afford.”

“Previous government prior to me to gave a seven and-a-half percent pay raise, took $65 million out of classrooms,” he added. “I, in all good conscience, couldn’t do it.”

Asked by Burrill if he stands by his decision to lock students out of school in December, McNeil said yes.

“I reached out—our government reached out to Nova Scotia Teachers Union executives and said: ‘Can you guarantee the safety of those kids?’ They would not.”

The film tax credit was also a hot topic, during which McNeil was grilled about breaking his promise to extend the film tax credit. Baillie and Burrill have both pledged to revive the tax credit if elected.

Baillie referenced the film Maudie, which has recently become a go to example of the province’s film industry troubles. Although the story is set in Nova Scotia, the movie ended up being filmed in Newfoundland.

“I think people see if we want to get those jobs back, we are going to need to change the government to get them,” he said.








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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Past social media posts claim two more political candidates

Conservatives drop Jad Crnogorac and Bill McEwen withdraws from NDP over unearthed online comments.

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 4:57 PM

Jad Crnogorac campaigning last week. - VIA TWITTER
  • Jad Crnogorac campaigning last week.
  • VIA TWITTER


Deleting your social media accounts is the secret to a happier, more fulfilling life, but it’s also particularly important if running for public office.

Case in point, this week on the provincial campaign trail two more political candidates were betrayed by their timelines.

On Monday evening, NDP candidate Bill McEwen withdrew from the race for Dartmouth East after CTV Atlantic uncovered sexist content he published online in 2011. On Tuesday afternoon, Jad Crnogorac was dropped by the Progressive Conservatives in Dartmouth South over tweets she wrote about sexual assault and race.

On a now-offline website known as The Bullpen, McEwen previously wrote that “in a world of breast implants, fast food and cheap beer, what’s not to love about being a man.” According to CTV’s report, he also posted offensive slang words for LGBT+ individuals on Facebook in 2012 and 2013.

Meanwhile, Crnogorac tweeted in 2015 about a co-worker’s joke that “women’s viagra” is “called a Roofie.” She also posted last year that “Not one white person nominated for a BET award. If that’s not inequality I don’t know what is.”

There’s been no comment at press time from Crnogorac, but In a Facebook post in response to the party dropping her as a candidate, Crnogorac tore into the Conservatives for quickly deciding her “lapse of judgement” was worth dismissal while male PC candidates like Matt Whitman remain on the ballot despite their own transgressions.

Whitman drew social media ire back in March when he shared a video of himself running around a car after yelling “Chinese fire drill.” The city councillor publicly apologized for remarks that many called racist, but stopped short of dropping out of the race for Hammonds Plains–Lucasville.

“I am incredibly let down by Jamie Baillie and his senior campaign staff," Crnogorac writes on Tuesday. “In 2017, a woman should never be asked to cover up, shut up and step aside. That's exactly what I was asked to do. On the other hand, my male counterpart whose actions were arguably worse than mine, was protected and defended. The PC party claims to support women in politics. Aside from allowing women to run, I have yet to see proof of this.”

Crnogorac says she's declined an offer from the Tories to step down and help them “make this go away as quickly as possible” and is exploring options to run as an independent.


McEwen, meanwhile, issued a statement Monday night taking “full responsibility” for the remarks and apologizing for what he called “really poor judgment.”

“Sexism, misogyny and homophobia are pervasive within our culture,” writes McEwen. “We must work hard to combat these, and other forms of oppression within our communities and within ourselves.”

Party leader Gary Burrill distanced himself from McEwen in comments made to the Canadian Press, saying the party overlooked the posts during the vetting process.

Candidates dropping out when offensive social media posts are daylighted has become a routine occurrence now in the internet of politics. The federal election in 2015 saw a plethora of candidates exposed for sexist, racist and insulting remarks posted in years past.

This election has seen all three of Nova Scotia’s major parties cast-off collateral damage because of inexcusable browser histories.

Only a week ago a similar scandal ended the campaign hopes of Matt MacKnight in Pictou East. The Liberals quickly dropped MacKnight after his four-year-old posts—one of which seemingly mocked people with Down syndrome—were published by Global News.

Because it’s past the deadline for candidates to withdraw, McEwen’s and Crnogorac’s names will awkwardly remain on the ballots in Dartmouth East and South. The NDP and Tories will be unable to nominate any replacement candidates.


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Friday, May 12, 2017

Provincial politics still far too much of an old boy's club

“Women are continuously struggling to be valued and recognized and supported within this political spectrum,” says Pamela Lovelace.

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2017 at 6:55 PM


Wait, which one is which again?
  • Wait, which one is which again?

Nova Scotia is gearing up to decide which white man will become premier on May 30. 

In the meantime, the Nova Scotia Women Vote rally is taking place Saturday to mobilize political action around women’s issues, during a provincial election where two-thirds of major party candidates are men.

Pamela Lovelace, chair of Equal Voice NS, believes the real issue isn't the number of women running, but what the parties are doing to support women candidates in running a successful campaign.

Lovelace was a potential provincial candidate for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville in 2013 and ran in District 13 for the municipal election last fall, but she isn’t affiliated with any party.

“If the political parties and the leaders who are elected in the legislature right now considered themselves mentors for those who are coming up, then the conversation isn’t about numbers and isn’t about money, it’s about support,” says Lovelace. “Ask her what she needs, and support her.”

The topic of women in politics has heated up over the last two weeks, in part due to a breakdown of gender disparity within the three main political parties.

As first reported by Marieke Walsh of Global News
, the Liberal party is fielding the most men, followed by the Tories and the NDP. The Liberals have 12 women out of 51 candidates, while the Progressive Conservatives named 16. The NDP, which is running this highest number of women candidates, still falls short of gender parity: only 23 of 51 candidates are female.

In response to the controversy, Liberal leader Stephen McNeil defended his party by telling reporters he wants “women in seats that we can win” in “meaningful ridings.”

“I completely do not buy the argument that the Liberals put women in winnable seats,” counters NDP candidate and Halifax Armdale incumbent Lisa Roberts.

McNeil’s statement was also jumped on by the PCs, including Cumberland North candidate Elizabeth Smitt-McCrossin.

“Every single candidate who puts their name on the ballot is making a meaningful contribution to democracy in our province,” she writes in a release. “Women have worked very hard to earn a place in our democratic system. We must always be looking for ways to attract more girls and women to politics and comment like these hurt this important effort.”

Leader Jamie Baillie took things a step further, announcing the day after McNeil's comments that the Conservatives would increase per-vote funding for women, Indigenous and African Nova Scotian candidates if elected.

Lovelace feels the McNeil used unfortunate terminology. She points out that every riding is meaningful.

“Typically, political parties will have women or men as spare candidates,” she says. In other words, the name is on the ballot, but the candidate isn’t supported financially. “All political parties have done it.”

Former Justice minister Diana Whalen countered complaints about McNeil’s words on her own Facebook page.

“As a woman, I urge our political leaders to refrain from making gender a partisan political issue,” she writes. “It can deter women, and all good candidates, from seeking public office.”

If that’s true, it probably isn’t the only thing that can deter women from seeking public office.

“Women are continuously struggling to be valued and recognized and supported within this political spectrum because it is traditionally a male-dominated,” says Lovelace,

That's difficult when they're judged on their appearance in ways exclusive to female politicians. For an example, just look at Frank Magazine’s choice to grace its latest cover with a photo of PC candidate Jad Crnogorac wearing a bikini. The accompanying text implies her body is a "secret weapon" for the Tory's election success.

“I’m a personal trainer—that’s my job. I’m a nutrition coach, so it’s not like that was a secret,” says Crnogorac.

“I’m proud of who I am inside and out, and I have to be judged by my appearance.”

She says the magazine called her a couple days before the issue went to print with photos originally posted on her Instagram.

“I’m criticized for working hard and taking care of my body and my health, and I thought that was a bit unfair,” says Crnogorac. “If I didn’t take care of my body, I’d probably be criticized for it. So it’s like you can’t win.”

Although Baillie’s announcement is a possible incentive for women, Crnogorac says the women who are running “aren’t looking for a break or a bonus.”

“They want to make a change.”

The Nova Scotia Women Vote takes place this Saturday, 1pm at Grand Parade.

with files from Jacob Boon
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Liberals not offering details on Harrietsfield cleanup plans

Premier's office has plans for fixing toxic water, but what they are and how HRM is involved has yet to be disclosed.

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2017 at 5:38 PM

Maguire making his announcement on Wednesday. - VIA FACEBOOK
  • Maguire making his announcement on Wednesday.
  • VIA FACEBOOK

Whatever plans the Liberal party has for cleaning up toxic water in Harrietsfield, HRM knows as much about it as the general public.

In a Facebook Live announcement on Wednesday, incumbent MLA candidate Brendan Maguire announced the province and HRM would be working together to finally flush out toxic heavy metals leaking from the RDM Recycling facility on Old Sambro Road into the area’s drinking water.

“I just got off the phone with the premier’s office,” Maguire says in the video. “We just got a commitment, and it has been released to the media, that the province and this government will work with the city to clean up the RDM site.”


No such release was sent to The Coast and nothing appears on the party's website, but leader Stephen McNeil later told Global’s Marieke Walsh that the party was “talking to the municipality about options for cleaning up the site.”

Shaune MacKinlay, chief of staff in the mayor's office, says she received a call Wednesday—before Maguire's video went live—from Kevin Musgrave, a strategic initiative analyst in the premier's office.

“We were just told that they would be looking at addressing the contamination on site and that they would be making some request of us to consider it,” says MacKinlay. “We have not received any formal request. We've not initiated any further conversation, and that's where it is right now.”

There were no other communications between the Liberals and the municipality, nor was MacKinlay aware of any other details or potential financial commitments.

“All it is, at this point, was a five-minute conversation.”

A statement from the Liberal campaign sent out late Friday afternoon wasn't any more forthcoming about the specifics.

“We have had an initial conversation with our municipal partners and we'll be seeking to meet with them to discuss a partnership and the best option for cleaning up this site.”

It’s unclear if the proposed cleanup is only an election promise or some form of official government commitment. In his Facebook video, Maguire appears unsure himself.

“What that plan looks like right now, I don’t know, but I can tell you this is huge news to the community,” he says.

The Progressive Conservative party quickly seized on the issue, claiming in a press release that Maguire was “playing games” with the people of Harrietsfield.

“The McNeil Liberals owe voters in Halifax Atlantic an immediate explanation about why they are misleading families about securing municipal and provincial funding to clean up the RDM recycling site,” writes Tory spokesperson Angie Zinck.

Requests for comment from Maguire were not returned, though the Liberal party defended his Facebook announcement in its statement.

“Brendan Maguire, as MLA for this community, was a tireless advocate for the people of Harrietsfield. He felt it was very important to communicate our party's intention to address the cleanup of this site.”


The quasi-announcement comes days after Maguire faced sharp criticism during a community meeting on safe drinking water, and two weeks after area resident Marlene Brown became the first person ever to file for private prosecution under Nova Scotia’s Environment Act. Brown wants to take the two numbered companies behind RDM Recycling to court for their continued failure to remediate the former industrial dump.

Journalists Chris Benjamin and Rebecca Hussman detailed the long history of the Harrietsfield crisis and Brown’s unyielding fight for clean water in last week’s issue of The Coast.

Contaminated drinking water in the community stretches back years, across multiple governments formed by all three major Nova Scotian parties. Industrial runoff from the RDM site has caused levels of arsenic, uranium, lead, boron, cadmium and other heavy metals in the area's water supply far exceeding Canadian safe drinking-water standards.

Despite Ministerial Orders, court rulings and political promises, the land’s private owners have refused to pay for its cleanup. As Benjamin writes, the reluctance of Nova Scotia's government to enforce its own orders and the opaqueness of is legal procedure has left area residents perplexed.

“The residents have never been kept apprised,” Lisa Mitchell of East Coast Environmental Law told The Coast. “Multiple requests for meetings have been denied with the minister’s polite dismissal, ‘We’re taking care of it.’”

If the province was committing to taking over the estimated $10 million cleanup costs, it would be a dramatic shift in the policy landscape.

Halifax, and the residents of Harrietsfield, will just have to wait to find out.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Jane's Walk Halifax goes the extra mile this weekend

Citizen-led walking tours return to bring the city's history, architecture and urban planning down to street-level.

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 3:42 AM

Rain or shine, HRM residents will be out this weekend to see their city in a new light. - VIA JANE'S WALK
  • Rain or shine, HRM residents will be out this weekend to see their city in a new light.
  • VIA JANE'S WALK

This weekend you’ll be able to stretch your legs with fellow residents all throughout Halifax and Dartmouth.

Pick any of the 15 different jaunts which are a part of the internationally known and citizen-led neighborhood walking tours known as Jane’s Walk.

The event is named in commemoration of American-Canadian journalist, author and urban activist Jane Jacobs, who passed away in 2007.

Throughout her life, Jacobs was a strong advocate against “slum clearances” and neighborhood development that opposed the needs of the people who lived in cities.

She first gained notoriety in the 1960s, when she fought against New York City planner Robert —who wanted to scrap landmark neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, SoHo and Little Italy to build the Lower Manhattan Expressway. Due in part to Jacobs’ activism, the construction project never came to be.

In 1968 Jacobs moved to Toronto, where she opposed the Spadina Expressway proposal and continued to support people-friendly urban development.

Throughout her life, Jacobs championed the idea of cities being for people and not for cars, and it is with that notion in mind that Jane’s Walk first got started in Toronto.

Organized locally this year by architectural enthusiast and blogger Peter Ziobrowski, the walks are intended to be fun, educational and for people of all ages, classes and cultures.

If history is your thing, then you’ll love the Edward Cornwallis-themed tour with author Jon Tattrie. Starting at 10:30AM on Saturday, May 6, Tattrie will take walkers from Murphy’s Cable Wharf, through Parade Square and on up to Citadel Hill—telling stories along the way about the divisive founder of Halifax.

Wondering about all the latest development projects happening on the peninsula? Let local urban planner and sustainable development consultant Kourosh Rad show you around. He’ll give walkers the skinny on all the biggest, boldest and newest buildings popping up all over the downtown core. Participants will want to meet at the Garrison Grounds, on the corner of Sackville and South Park Streets on Saturday at 1pm.

Further north, Jenny Luger will take walkers around what the Canadian Institute of Planners dubbed one of the “Great Places in Canada.” Luger will talk all about the famed Hydrostone neighbourhood, including its history and how it’s been a dynamic and changing part of the city since its inception after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. The meeting place for this tour will be on the corner of Agricola and Young Street, by the Oland’s brewery, on Saturday at 2:30pm.

If those don’t do the trick, you can find the full list of walking tours on the Jane’s Walk website. Each and every walk goes ahead, rain or shine, so considering this weekend’s forecast you may want to bring an umbrella.

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Water crisis an election issue in Halifax Atlantic

Liberal incumbent faces criticism from challengers over long-festering environmental problem in Harrietsfield.

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 3:13 AM

Don't drink the water. - VIA ISTOCK
  • Don't drink the water.
  • VIA iSTOCK
Water is on the minds of voters in the riding of Halifax Atlantic.

As detailed in this week’s cover story of The Coast, for more than 10 years people in the community of Harrietsfield have been unable to drink or use their tap water due to the presence of uranium, lead and other toxic substances from a nearby recycling depot

The issue has once again bubbled to the surface with the recent dismissal of the contaminated property owners’ latest appeal, and Marlene Brown’s groundbreaking private prosecution filing under the NS Environment Act.

What voters this provincial election will most likely want to know, however, is what each party plans to do about the ongoing environmental crisis if elected.

Liberal incumbent Brendan Maguire says he understands the issue better than most.

“I grew up in Harriestfield just two homes down from RDM [Recycling], so for me this is personal.”

Addressing the crisis was “literally the first call I made as an MLA,” says Maguire, and the Liberals have “made more progress on Harrietsfield than any time in the last 20 years.”

Most recently, that involved the municipality and province coming to an agreement on providing free water filtration systems to homes “directly impacted” by the contamination.

But that’s only for eight homes, says NDP challenger Trish Keeping.


“Eight! Give me a break.”

The chemical fallout could be impacting many more residents. Keeping claims the number could be as high as 80 homes, which she calls totally unacceptable.

“These people can’t even drink what comes out of their tap,” she says. “[They] have a right to clean drinking water.”

That point is echoed by Progressive Conservative candidate Bruce Holland, who says he went through a similar process back in the ‘90s with the junkyard out near Five Island Lake. It ended up costing $20 million to remediate the site, which was contaminated by discarded old transformers.

The long-term strategy in Harrietsfield should also be remediation, he says, “to make sure that the funds were made available to do whatever is necessary to make sure these people get clean drinking water.”

For the Green Party, issues like Harrietsfield are the “whole motivation for why we are here,” according to party leader Thomas Trappenburg.

Halifax Atlantic candidate Chelsea Carter was unavailable for comment, but Trappenburg says Harrietsfield is an “environmental crisis” that needs to be cleaned up immediately; and needs to inspire sharper laws to prevent similar problems in the future.

“These kinds of things are terrible,” he says. “They are important and they should be changed.”

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Uniacke Square security cameras slammed as invasion of privacy

Residents and community advocates strongly opposed to housing authority’s plans for new surveillance system.

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 11:02 PM

Josh Creighton and Kyturera Jones are both members of the North-End Community Action Committee. - THE COAST
  • Josh Creighton and Kyturera Jones are both members of the North-End Community Action Committee.
  • THE COAST

There are far better ways to improve standards of living in Uniacke Square than throwing up dehumanizing security cameras.

So says Josh Creighton, who used to live in the public housing community. He calls plans to install a new surveillance system in the area an invasion of privacy, and proof of the wide disconnect between the Metro Regional Housing Authority (MRHA) and its tenants.

“The number of complaints [MRHA] has received about the standard of living in Uniacke Square, and they haven’t done anything to address those issues,” he says. “But they have money for surveillance cameras? It’s just crazy.”

On Wednesday, the MRHA issued a request for proposals to supply eight closed-circuit security cameras on streets within the north-end community.

Department of Community Services spokesperson Heather Fairbairn says the CCTV system is an attempt to address ongoing problems with unauthorized parking and illegal garbage dumping.

Those complaints peaked during the winter parking ban. At the time, the housing authority hired a security company to monitor and restrict access to only authorized vehicles. But that option’s apparently not financially sustainable in the long-term.

Hence the cameras.
“While MRHA works with the Halifax Regional Police department to support its efforts in the community, our primary focus is addressing the needs of our residents and responding to the issues of unauthorized parking and garbage disposal that they have brought to our attention,” writes Fairbairn in an email.

Stop The Violence organizer Quentrel Provo says the official explanation is just a smokescreen.



“There’s been garbage and parking [problems] in all sorts of communities,” he says, “and are the cameras going up?”

While it's true police patrols and security guards come with their own set of problems, those problems have a face. Security cameras don't even offer that small bit of humanity.

“It’s not only an invasion of privacy, but it’s going to result in the community having an even more apathetic attitude towards the housing authority,” says Creighton.

In an editorial written this past winter, Nova Scotia privacy commissioner Catherine Tully called the unwarranted surveillance of law-abiding citizens a worrying trend that’s increasing across the province.

“Video surveillance is a highly privacy-invasive activity because, while it may record evidence of crimes, we can be sure that it captures the personal information of law-abiding individuals going about their everyday activities.”


More bluntly, Creighton calls the cameras dehumanizing. They are an unknown authority staring down, unblinking, at a largely-Black neighbourhood that’s historically been disenfranchised.

“It’s like animals in a zoo, in a cage,” says Provo. “You’re putting up these cameras to watch humans, like they’re not even human.”

Kyturera Jones, a current resident of Uniacke Square, wonders why the MRHA is suddenly so concerned about its residents—and if there aren't better ways it could be investing in the community.

“They don’t upkeep their units,” she says. “If they’re worried about our safety, they should come full-force about that.”

Creighton and Jones are both members of the North-End Community Action Committee; an organization of local young people who came together earlier this year to oppose gentrification.

They are both acutely aware of the problems in their neighbourhood. And this? This is not a solution.
Area councillor Lindell Smith says news of the extra security came as a surprise to the municipality.

“There was not really communication between HRM and the province,” he says.

In a statement posted on his website, Smith explains that the cameras are solely a provincial initiative, and not connected with ongoing work he’s involved in as part of HRM’s Safer Community Strategic Plan.


Still, a heads-up might have been nice.

“Not taking anything away from the province, but for us, next time, let us know so we can work together on something.”

According to the councillor, prior CCTV cameras in Uniacke Square were taken out years ago after a reassessment of safety strategies.

Halifax Regional Police still maintain security cameras at the department’s community office on Olympic Court—across the street from Cragg Avenue, where the new cameras are to be installed.

Cragg was also the location where Terrance “Terry” Izzard, 58, was killed last fall. It was one of 12 homicides in HRM in 2016 and the only one that occurred inside Uniacke Square.

In response to that violence, Smith and Souls Strong manager DeRico Symonds have hosted three public engagement sessions over the past several months. The councillor says he’s also hand-delivered information flyers in Uniacke Square and Mulgrave Park, hoping to garner feedback as part of developing the municipality’s safer communities plan.

“We don’t want residents to think this is part of what we discussed,” Smith says about the new CCTV system. “We understand that cameras are not something the community welcomes as a safety measure.”

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Andrew Younger resigns over allNovaScotia article

Dartmouth East MLA says his family has been subjected to “unsettling and offensive” privacy breaches.

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 6:49 PM

Former MLA Andrew Younger says he's dropping out of the provincial election over privacy and health concerns. - PATRICK FULGENCIO
  • Former MLA Andrew Younger says he's dropping out of the provincial election over privacy and health concerns.
  • PATRICK FULGENCIO

Just days into a re-election campaign, Andrew Younger has suddenly resigned from public life.

In a lengthy statement posted on Facebook, the former MLA for Dartmouth East says he’s withdrawing from the current provincial election due to “unsettling and offensive” breaches of his privacy.

“With the latest breach of our personal privacy, we have decided as a family, that it is not healthy for us to be part of a system which encourages the release of confidential, personal and health information of its elected officials, those seeking office and their families,” Younger writes.

The breach refers to an article published on Wednesday by news website allNovaScotia.com, written by political reporter Brian Flinn, which contains details about a hospitalization Younger underwent over the weekend and an emergency protection order that had been sought by his wife. The article is behind a paywall, but the headline "Bullet: Younger Drops Out" is visible at the site's front page.

Nancy Irvine, Younger’s constituency manager, says the outlet shouldn’t have published what both parties involved wanted to remain a private matter.

“They had absolutely, 100-percent no need to post that today,” says Irvine. “No need.”

In an emailed statement to The Coast, allNovaScotia publisher Caroline Wood asserts a clear journalistic imperative for publishing.

“Allnovascotia obtained a court document Tuesday that detailed an incident involving Andrew Younger. We reported on a public figure running for public office.”


Younger’s statement on Facebook claims his hospitalization resulted in a previously unknown health issue being identified, “that will require my full attention.”

The former HRM city councillor was elected as a Liberal MLA in 2009, but was ejected from cabinet and caucus in 2015 after using his parliamentary privilege to avoid testifying in court. Younger had been called as a witness in the trial Tara Gault, a former party staffer who had been charged with assaulting him.

He's sat as an independent MLA ever since.

After his separation from the Liberals, premier Stephen McNeil’s former chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, leaked Younger's personal health information during a scrum with reporters. McVicar subsequently resigned over the privacy breach.

Given the past two years, Irvine says Younger isn’t interested in continuing his political career at the cost of his family’s privacy.

“For the sake of his family, he’s not going to drag his family through an election campaign,” she says.

“I hope I have contributed positively to life in Nova Scotia. But that will be for others to judge,” writes Younger. “Thank you all who have supported me over the past 13 years. It has been a privilege and honour to serve.”

His departure leaves the race for Dartmouth East wide open. The riding is currently being contested by Edgar Burns (Liberals), Tim Halman (Progressive Conservatives) and Bill McEwen (NDP).

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Kyley Harris back on Liberals’ campaign team

Party not commenting about communications director, who was fired three years ago after domestic assault.

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 11:29 AM

For his service with the party and Premier's Office, Harris was eligible for a $45,000 severance when he was fired. - VIA TWITTER
  • For his service with the party and Premier's Office, Harris was eligible for a $45,000 severance when he was fired.
  • VIA TWITTER

Lying about an assault cost Kyley Harris his job. Three years later, he appears to have climbed back up the career ladder and is once again director of communications for the Liberals.

Harris was working as communications director for the Premier’s Office in 2014 when he was charged with assault after striking a woman in the face during a domestic argument.

He pleaded guilty to the charge and was given a conditional discharge and nine months probation. The Canadian Press reported at the time that Harris told the court his actions were “inexcusable and disgraceful.”

Stephen McNeil fired his spokesperson, not for the criminal charges, but after it became known Harris waited four days to tell his superiors about the matter. A year later, while still on probation, Harris was hired back to do research in the party’s caucus office.

This week, his name showed up in an official press release as one of four spokespeople handling the Liberals’ re-election chances, with the job title of “director of communications for the central campaign.”

Harris didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on his new position. Neither did Liberal party spokespersons Stephen Moore and David Jackson. The media contact number for Harris connects to a voicemail message for Wanda Atkinson, another communications employee for the party.

Ardath Whynacht, a sociology professor at Mount Allison University who has studied intimate partner violence, says his presence on the campaign team should be a cause for concern.

As the provincial government for the last four years, Whynacht says the Liberals should be acutely aware of the justice system’s failures in reducing gender-based violence—and the optics of re-hiring someone convicted of said violence.

“I think it’s clear that the Liberals are more committed to solidarity with the ‘old boys club’ than making a clear and public commitment to reducing intimate partner violence in this province,” says Whynacht.

“The message is clear. If you are a white man with a demonstrated commitment to keeping other white men in power, then your sins will be forgiven.”

Lisa Roberts, the NDP incumbent for Halifax Needham, says McNeil needs to address the matter

“Why is this his choice for someone to be at a very high level in his campaign for re-election?” she asks. “How can he assure us that he’s running for re-election on a basis of really having the concerns of women front and centre in the campaign?”

The Liberal party has come under fire—and fought back—this week over its choice to run women as candidates only in “meaningful ridings” where they’ll have a chance to win.

Opposition critics called the statement demeaning, while Stephen McNeil and several prominent female members of the party have defended the Liberals’ support for women and commitment to gender equality.

But Roberts says Harris’ new job undermines all those speeches.

“I worry more so about the overall culture of politics, and given the realization that only 12 Liberal candidates are women, and then given Kyley’s prominence in their campaign team, I wonder how comforting and welcoming and supportive that campaign is for women.”

Whynacht says Harris is entitled to live his life. He’s made amends in the eyes of the law and apologized for his actions. He’s not entitled, however, to a very public PR job with a political party hoping to form Nova Scotia’s next government.

“Yes, we should hire folks with a criminal record when they leave prison,” says Whynacht. “But no, we should not give high-profile appointments to privileged and wealthy white men who abuse their partners and lie about it.”

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