Reality Bites provides the best coverage of current affairs and political issues related to Halifax and City Council anywhere in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Oh, and we bring the snark, too. Contact news@thecoast.ca to send a tip.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Nova Scotia will uphold its promise to Boat Harbour

Northern Pulp mill sure to close because it can't dump waste as of January 31

Posted By on Fri, Dec 20, 2019 at 5:20 PM

Boat Harbour
  • Boat Harbour

Premier Stephen McNeil will enforce the Boat Harbour Act, which says as of January 31, 2020 the waters of Boat Harbour can no longer be used as a place to dump waste effluent. By standing behind the 2015 law, McNeil keeps his promise to the Mi’kmaq people of Pictou Landing First Nation and seals the fate of the Northern Pulp mill, the heart of Nova Scotia’s forestry industry.

The premier’s decision has been hotly anticipated for three days, during which time he said he was putting together a $50 million plan to bail out the workers who will be affected when the Abercrombie, NS mill closes—now an inevitability.

McNeil’s environment minister, Gordon Wilson, announced Tuesday the mill could not start building a new effluent treatment facility and pipeline into the Northumberland Strait, because its proposal for a replacement to Boat Harbour hadn’t met the province’s standards for environmental protection.

For the mill to keep operating, the premier would have had to extend the legislated closure date for the mill’s current effluent treatment facility.

For more than five decades, the mill has emptied industrial wastewater into Boat Harbour, a former tidal estuary that is now a polluted lagoon. The people of Pictou Landing First Nation—whose land is adjacent to, and used to encompass Boat Harbour—have long decried the mill’s use of the lagoon and have been counting down the days until its closure.

Previous governments have promised to close Boat Harbour but none have followed through, which McNeil said factored into his decision.

But he had to weigh his commitment to Pictou Landing against the economic fall-out of losing the mill. Mill executives have said Northern Pulp supports 2,700 full-time jobs, including woodlot owners who sent the bulk of their chips to the mill, and truckers who transport the materials around and out of the province.

To ease the transition away from Northern Pulp, McNeil said his government will put $50 million toward emergency relief, retraining and education.

McNeil’s decision was one of the biggest of his political career and will undoubtedly shape his legacy. He blamed the mill for putting the province in a difficult situation.

“Northern Pulp has had a number of chances to get this right and yet here we are,” he said at a press conference Friday morning.

McNeil welcomed the mill to stay in Nova Scotia if it could modernize its operations and meet the government’s environmental regulations.

“It is now up to them. They’ve had five years to do the right thing and I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. I am disappointed, to say the least.”

The CEO of Paper Excellence, Northern Pulp’s parent company, disputed the premier’s comments, saying the province hadn’t given the mill a “definitive process” for environmental assessment of its proposed replacement to Boat Harbour.

“Northern Pulp put forward an excellent plan,” said CEO Brian Baarda in a statement, “informed by third party, subject matter experts, based on sound science that showed no meaningful environmental impact, represented a significant operational improvement, and ensured Nova Scotia’s forest sector and the thousands its employs could remain a vital part of our economy.

“It also enabled timely closure and remediation of Boat Harbour. The Premier chose to disregard these facts.”

Baarda said the mill plans to start cancelling contracts and issuing lay-off notices to its employees.

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Board of Police Comissioner's last meeting of 2019 gives update on street checks

HRM residents have one year to see their own street check records.

Posted By on Fri, Dec 20, 2019 at 11:38 AM

Halifax's Board of Police Comissioners meet on Monday December 16. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • Halifax's Board of Police Comissioners meet on Monday December 16.
  • Victoria Walton

At a Board of Police Commissioners meeting on Monday, both the HRP and RCMP Chiefs gave updates on how community engagement is going following the Wortley Report.

The 186-page report from University of Toronto criminology professor Scot Wortley found that street checks overwhelmingly target people of colour. On average, from 2006 to 2017, Black people were six times more likely to be profiled than white people. It confirmed what the Black community had been saying about treatment from police for decades. 

After the report was published in March, a permanent ban on street checks went in place in October and HRP Chief Dan Kinsella made a public apology on November 29.

On Monday, Kinsella told the Board that community engagement is continuing in several different ways.

“I’ve contacted a number of community representatives for input and had a lot of positive interest in getting involved personally and particularly there’s some excitement around the advisory committee,” he said.

Kinsella said HRP are also working on specific programs like the Know Your Rights campaign which partners with community groups to inform residents of their rights when stopped by police.

Kinsella said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the RCMP "have both shown interest in participating in the program and the DOJ particularly would like to take it province-wide."

Another program is teaching Nova Scotians how to navigate the Freedom of Information system to see if historical street check data was collected on them.

“We continue to have outreach with the community to let them know if they are interested in going through the FOIPOP process to try and find out what may or may not be in the system as it relates to them,” Kinsella explained.

Police say street check data will be anonymized by December 2020, so anyone who wants that information must request it before then.

“We want to make sure we get that message out and we’ll continue to focus on that and into the new year we’ll ramp up our social media campaign to make sure that if individuals are interested in gong through that process that they know how to do it,” Kinsella added.

In an update from RCMP Chief Superintendent Janice Grey, she told the Board that the Worley report is affecting how data is collected across the province.

“We have three internal—within the RCMP—working groups specifically for Wortley,” she said, including one on data collection alone.

The Board also approved a motion that Kinsella and Grey put together a plan on how they will address recommendations 1.1-1.7 of the Wortley Report which discuss what to do in the case there is a full ban. The plan must include notes on estimated timelines, specific actions steps, a method of tracking progress, and which organization should be held accountable.

Kinsella and Grey said they would not be able to give all the specifics but were willing to prepare a plan. “The majority of the recommendations have already been completed in one form or another,” Kinsella explained.

Natalie Borden, chair of the Board of Police Commissioners, said part of the goal of the motion was to hold other institutions accountable for their part in the Worley Report recommendations.

“There are a number of recommendations as well that are not the responsibility of HRP, RCMP or even the Board,” she said. “Part of our tracking from my perspective will be to identify those, because we certainly want to communicate back to whether it’s Human Rights or the DOJ, that some of these are their responsibility.”

The Board’s vice chair, Carole McDougall, said the RCMP and HRP should report to the Board for accountability’s sake. “This is pretty fundamental and really is a way for the board to track what’s going on. It’s not necessarily to say ‘Do this by this date,’ but it’s to keep us up to date,” she said.

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Friday, December 13, 2019

One step closer to Uber, baby, is one step closer to you

On the heels of sweeping reform to taxi industry, HRM considers next steps towards Uberization

Posted By on Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 4:02 PM

THE COAST
  • THE COAST

Just over a year after 88 percent of survey respondents told HRM they wanted services like Uber and Lyft in the municipality, the transportation standing committee took the first step toward making it a reality. 

Halifax Regional Municipality’s Transit Standing Committee saw staff’s first draft of the by-law changes this week that will allow Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft to operate in the municipality.

Staff recommend that HRM regulate TNCs—from a $25,000 of the top fee to operate in the municipality, a 20 cent per-trip fee, and mandating that drivers have a criminal record check, a vulnerable sector check and a child abuse registry check.

The province requires that taxi drivers have a class four license—one step up from the class five license that you, regular person reading this, likely have—but the report said class five was sufficient. So council also voted to write the province and ask to have that rule changed.

TNCs will be required to share all their trip data with HRM, and take on the responsibility of insurance themselves. (Taxi drivers are insured individually). All these rules for TNCs would be the responsibility of the company—HRM would have no record of the drivers or keep data on who has qualified requirements.

One of the main concerns coming out of the report from members of the Transportation Standing Commitee on Thursday was safety.

A recent report from Uber in the US released this month reported 5,981 incidents of sexual assault 2017 and 2018 involving either a driver or a passenger. The data was part of a larger report on safety in ride sharing. 

Uber has made improvements in recent years to increase safety standards, like adding a button in the app for passengers to hit if they feel they are in danger, and passengers can share their ride with a friend’s app.

But Councillor Sam Austin still worried if it was enough. Noting the strengthening of rules around licensing in relation to sexual assault for HRM taxi drivers, he wonders what is stopping drivers from switching between companies in the instance of assault if HRM has no record of them.

“I have some discomfort that we are relying on the business to do everything on this front,” says Austin.

Since 2015, Halifax Regional Municipality has suspended 10 taxi licences as a result of sexual misconduct accusations.

He says as we live in a world where sexualized violence is a reality: “I want to be able to look at myself and say as a municipality we did all we could to prevent that.”

The survey conducted by HRM in 2018 also found that 32 percent of respondents who don’t take taxis in HRM said they don’t because of safety concerns, and 65 percent said they would like the opportunity to take a taxi from an all-women taxi service.

Since updating the Taxi and Limousine industry by-laws this Fall—increasing the cap on the number of roof lights from 1,000 to 1,600—HRM has only handed out 40 new licenses and none so far have gone to women. The increase was so large in part to get the women who were near the bottom of the waitlist on the road. 

The proposed changes will also affect brokers—AKA Yellow Cab or Casino Taxi. Anyone who drives a taxi in Halifax and doesn’t want to be affiliated with a broker would need to become a broker to remain independent. The yearly fee for brokers is proposed at $300. 

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

"We have failed you," police chief Dan Kinsella tells Black community

After two independent reports and a ban on street checks, Halifax Regional Police finally apologizes.

Posted By on Sat, Nov 30, 2019 at 10:38 AM

“On behalf of the Halifax Regional Police, I am sorry," chief Dan Kinsella said. "I am sorry for the actions that have caused you pain.” - THE COAST
  • “On behalf of the Halifax Regional Police, I am sorry," chief Dan Kinsella said. "I am sorry for the actions that have caused you pain.”
  • The Coast

  It was an important day for Halifax’s Black community as it heard, for the very first time, the official apology from one of the institutions that has caused it harm and grief for generations.

Halifax Regional Police chief Dan Kinsella addressed an audience of about 100 people Friday morning at the Halifax Central Library.

“Far too many times—far too many times—we have failed you,” Kinsella said. “On behalf of the Halifax Regional Police, I am sorry. I am sorry for the actions that have caused you pain.”

In mid-October, street checks—the police practice of watching or stopping citizens in order to gather police intelligence—were banned after being found illegal and an infringement on constitutional rights by an independent review from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission

An initial report released in March 2019 by the NSHRC found the practice specifically targets Black men, who are “five times more likely to be subject to a street check than their proportion of the population would predict."

Kinsella went on to announce HRP have committed to doing better moving forward.

Amariah Bernard (left) and Zamani Millar sang a moving rendition of “O Canada” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in front of the crowd. - THE COAST
  • Amariah Bernard (left) and Zamani Millar sang a moving rendition of “O Canada” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in front of the crowd.
  • THE COAST

Before Kinsella spoke, two youth, Zamani Millar and Amariah Bernard, sang a moving rendition of “O Canada” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in front of the crowd.

“I felt very powerful, I felt I was standing with my community and speaking on behalf of us,” Millar said about her performance of the Black national anthem. “It emphasized the sense of unity.”

Millar and Bernard, 18 and 17 respectfully, are both hopeful and ready to hold HRP accountable for the commitments they made Friday. But they say the good fight is not over.

Nzingha Millar, 25, said that while the apology was a good start and an important milestone, more could be done to ensure the plans laid actually take place.

“The plans left out some very important issues,” Nzingha Millar said, “which is how the police force will specifically change the culture of policing within that institution.”

Nzingha Millar, who has been personally affected by street checks, said not enough has been done to address the emotional harm that was caused.

Mayann Francis, Nova Scotia's first Black lieutenant governor. - THE COAST
  • Mayann Francis, Nova Scotia's first Black lieutenant governor.
  • THE COAST

Her sentiment was mirrored by Nova Scotia’s first Black lieutenant governor Mayann Francis, who gave a brief but profound opening speech about Nova Scotia’s history of police violence, discrimination and segregation.

“Being here today in the south end to receive a long-overdue apology sends a powerful message to those who still believe that African Nova Scotians do not belong in the south end,” she said.

Millar also said that there’s an issue with the gendered lens that HRP is looking at the issue through. The focus, she said, has been mainly on Black men.

“Black women are also being affected by police interactions that are wrong, and they are also facing a double oppression of gender and race,” she adds.

The street check report found that Black women were three times more likely to be street checked than their proportion in the population would predict, and were street checked at a rate 3.6 times higher than white women—a rate even higher than the rate for white males.

HRP hasn't mentioned women specifically in any of its action planning. But it is forming an advisory committee—in “early 2020”—which Kinsella said will include the participation of members from the Black community. 

Kinsella said the committee will address specific incidents and ensure the Black community is central to informing future long-term initiatives like community outreach, training, recruitment and youth engagement.

Actions planned by the HRP include a “know your rights campaign,” which Kinsella said will provide information through paper handouts and social media messaging on what people should expect during interactions with police.

He also said that HRP will rethink officer training to include the Black community. Part of that training will “be rooted in African Nova Scotian history” and he said members of the Black community are welcome to create and deliver the training.

And Kinsella committed to hiring more Black officers “in order to better reflect the community” they served.

Nova Scotia RCMP has yet to apologize for its role in street checks. It is not taking responsibility until results from a national review on street checks is assessed.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

NS municipalities call for inquiry on offshore drilling risks

Meetings this week call attention to efforts to stop the practice

Posted By on Fri, Nov 8, 2019 at 4:30 PM

“You can't eat oil. And you can't eat money,” says David Devene, “You can eat fish; you can eat lobster.” - ROBERT VAN WAARDEN VIA THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS
  • “You can't eat oil. And you can't eat money,” says David Devene, “You can eat fish; you can eat lobster.”
  • Robert Van Waarden via The Council of Canadians

Tonight, Offshore Alliance is meeting in Mahone Bay to speak about international efforts from municipalities to stop offshore drilling. This comes on the heels of a Tuesday press conference held just prior to the start of the Fall Conference of the Federation of Nova Scotia Municipalities, where twelve Nova Scotia municipalities—Halifax not included—announced their request for a public inquiry on the risks and impact of offshore drilling for oil and gas. 

“The economy of our town, once driven by wooden shipbuilding, is now driven by the tourism industry, and the ocean is a critical part of the industry,” says David Devenne, mayor of Mahone Bay. “Any risk for that mainstay of our economy is an unacceptable possibility and offshore drilling is just such a risk.”

“I'm a fisherman's daughter. I'm a fisherman's wife,” says Linda Gregory, deputy warden of Digby County, who was also present at the announcement. “My district is mainly fishermen, as a whole. Nova Scotia fisheries exports $2 billion per year. According to the government of Nova Scotia, this provides 26,000 jobs direct and 26,000 jobs indirect. These jobs sustain our communities—now, as they have for centuries.”

Mahone Bay, Digby County, and the 10 other municipalities have all passed motions to support the inquiry into offshore drilling risks thanks to the lobbying efforts of the Nova Scotia Offshore Alliance—a coalition of organizations and community groups including the Council of Canadians, the Sierra Club, the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia and the Clean Ocean Action Committee.

The Offshore Alliance asked Halifax Regional Council for its support, but a motion to oppose offshore drilling was defeated last October and Council has not revisited the issue since.

Marion Moore of the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia says she supports an inquiry into offshore drilling “to protect the traditional, sustainable fishing industry and tourism industry.” But also because, she says, “we're in a climate crisis. So, we shouldn't be having this conversation. If we want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we have to get rid of one of the biggest fossil fuel industries around.”

Several companies have held leases for oil exploration in Nova Scotia’s waters over the past decade including Shell, who abandoned its well in 2018 after not finding commercial quantities of oil (leaving behind a piece of pipe that was accidentally dropped into the ocean, which landed 12 metres from their wellhead—a near-miss of a potential disaster), and BP, which drilled one well last year (and spilled 136 m3 of drilling fluid—about 450 full  bathtubs—which remains on the ocean floor), but also did not find worthwhile quantities of oil. BP still holds a lease for six wells, but has yet to begin exploratory drilling on any of them.

John Davis - ROBERT VAN WAARDEN VIA THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS
  • John Davis
  • Robert Van Waarden via The Council of Canadians

“We believe that once the Nova Scotia municipalities really understand the level of risk, that they'll say no, this is not an acceptable activity,” says John Davis of the Clean Ocean Action Committee.

The problem is, information on all the risks of offshore drilling either does not exist, or has not been made available to the public or municipal governments.

Digby’s Gregory spoke about how this lack of information makes it impossible for her to fulfil her responsibility to protect her community. “Do we need access to good information and real influence in the decision making process to do that? We do. We need to be heard by the province. We need to be heard by the federal government. We are the grassroots of the community,” she says.

But municipal governments don’t have real decision-making power when it comes to regulating offshore petroleum resources. Which was one of the reasons HRM didn’t join the fight.

Instead, an arms-length regulatory board—the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB)—has been given power to manage Nova Scotia’s offshore oil and gas industries. Its key stakeholders are the provincial and federal governments. CNSOPB has received much criticism because while they are supposed to be an objective third party, three of their five board members have direct ties to the oil and gas industry. Earlier this year, CNSOPB’s power was extended, through an amendment to federal Bill C-69, to conduct environmental impact assessments for resource extraction projects.

offshore_inquiry_resolutions_map.png

For Moore, the issue of offshore drilling in Nova Scotia is “a microcosm of the whole country,” and points to a much larger issue: “The reason that we're not in a position to give permission or deny permission,” she says, “is because, in the end, governments are beholden to the oil companies.”

The Offshore Alliance's public event in Mahone Bay tonight will see Mayor Sheila Davies from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina and Councilor John Weber of Bradley Beach, New Jersey will speak about international efforts from municipalities to stop offshore drilling. In the United States, over 370 municipalities have passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling and are a key part of the successful resistance to Trump’s attempts to open the Atlantic Coast to offshore drilling. 

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Love the way we list

Our legendary entertainment listings are changing—here's what you need to know.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 8, 2019 at 2:40 PM

Well hello there. You're a person-about-town who's working on a play/concert/one-human-show that's not so much confessional as it is semi-autobiographical, really, and if you love Fleabag you'll be totally into it. Or maybe you're home on your couch and wondering where to see a play or concert or just do something other than re-watch Fleabag for the thousand time.

For 26 years, The Coast has been connecting Haligonians with the creatives making art around our fair city, with extensive listings both online and print: We help you get the word out about the cool thing you're doing and also let you know what cool thing you should be going to.
But after 26 years, we've started using an exciting new listings system online, so we want you to know all about it. If you're looking for things to do, click "Event Listings" in the navigation menu, and you'll get a sharp list of events—with a layout that's responsive to whether you're on a phone or a desktop or any device in between. Searching and filtering functions work well, and we're starting to get events further out of town, which you can seek out (or limit) by changing how far from central Halifax you'd like the system to give you events for, from 1km to 150km out.

It's great for finding events. But if you're putting on an event, it's even better. There's now a simple page where you can upload your event right into the system—including a photo!—that is way slicker and easier than our old submission form. And vastly better than sending your event info to the listings email address and hoping I (The Coast's arts & listings editor) receive it, open it, read it and win a wrestling match with our old system to successfully upload it.

This is what the new listing submissions button looks like! Click it to get the word out on your awesome thing.
  • This is what the new listing submissions button looks like! Click it to get the word out on your awesome thing.

OK, the old system wasn't that bad. We used it to publish hundreds of events a week. But the new one is better, especially for sending in your listings information. Just tap that "+ Add Event" button at the top of any listing, or click here.

If you can make a Facebook event, you can use this. And as a bonus, instead of having Russian trollbots crawling your events, they'll get read by real live Haligonians who are looking for cool things to do. Everyone wins. Except the trollbots—so that's another win.
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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Liberals hold on to all four HRM seats in federal election

The Coast takes you to three results parties in the Halifax riding for a taste of the election night energy.

Posted By , and on Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 7:50 PM

Andy Fillmore will keep his federal seat in Ottawa for the Halifax riding. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • Andy Fillmore will keep his federal seat in Ottawa for the Halifax riding.
  • Victoria Walton
After a nearly too close for comfort six-week campaign that did little more than expose how poorly we Canadians are educated in the ins and outs of our governance system—and puff unearned wind into fringe party ideology—Halifax (and the country) gets another go at Liberal leadership.

All four Liberal incumbent MPs in Halifax Regional Municipality (Andy Fillmore, Geoff Regan, Darrell Samson and Darren Fisher) were re-elected by their constituents. NDP candidates took second place (and 25 percent of the popular vote) in all four as well.

Voter turnout for the region was on par with the national average at 66 percent, coming in under Nova Scotia's overall performance with 69.4 percent of registered voters showing up to vote at the polls.

As per tradition, party supporters, volunteers and free-snack fienders made their way to the parties' results parties—awaiting the arrival of their candidates and word on how the city, and country, voted.

The Coast has rounded up the highlights of the night at the Halifax riding Liberal, NDP and Green Party results parties.

Andy Fillmore arrives at HQ, celebrating his win. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • Andy Fillmore arrives at HQ, celebrating his win.
  • Victoria Walton

Andy Fillmore keeps his Halifax MP seat in Ottawa

In what was originally projected to be a rather close riding, incumbent Liberal MP Andy Fillmore beat out NDP candidate Christine Saulnier for the seat.

At the beginning of the evening, a thin crowd gathered to watch the results roll in. But by the time Fillmore arrived at HQ around 10:30pm, it was a full house.

“When we started this six weeks ago, who knew where it was going to lead,” said Fillmore. “But we worked harder than anybody, we did anything that we could and we left it all on the field.”

Fillmore says his team knocked on 10,000 doors in the riding and made thousands of phone calls.

“We shared the message of the future, of the progressive future that we want Halifax to have." 

Fillmore and his daughter Daisy among supporters celebrating his win. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • Fillmore and his daughter Daisy among supporters celebrating his win.
  • Victoria Walton

The re-elected MP says the most important person on his team was his 12-year-old daughter, Daisy. “She has been a supporter and an inspiration. I couldn’t do it without her, and frankly, I do it for the most part for her," said Fillmore.

Fillmore says he plans to continue the work he’s been doing since the 2015 election. “The core piece will continue to help the middle class and those people who are working hard to join it,” he said. 

Fillmore shared several of his accomplishments as MP with Monday's crowd, including opening George’s Island to the public—slated for next spring—increasing bus and ferry investments and growing the Irving shipbuilding contract.

But one new, pressing issue that’s been added to the Liberal agenda is climate change. “What’s different this year is that the climate crisis is come in to really crisp focus for all of us,” said Fillmore. 

As Canada’s ocean city, Fillmore says Halifax has an opportunity to take the lead in creating green jobs.

“We have all the potential in the world to lead climate change action from right here in Halifax,” he said. “Creating those jobs that are going to pay for the transition that we so desperately need.”

MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island Labi Kousoulis was at the Liberal HQ on Quinpool Road when Fillmore’s win was announced.

“I was very happy to see him be successful,” Kousoulis told The Coast. “I think he’s done a great job and I think it’s good for Halifax and Nova Scotia.”

The MLA says he was concerned this past week when projections showed the NDP gaining traction in the riding.

“A few weeks ago I was sitting in the legislature like ‘Oh Andy’s got a slam dunk,’ and the last week it was like ‘Oh I’ve got to pick up my socks a bit more and give an extra helping hand,’” Kousoulis said.

Fillmore says overall, he’s just excited to get back to Ottawa and back to work.

“My focus has always been to represent the people of Halifax,” he said. “I’m just ecstatically grateful to the people of Halifax that have asked me to go to Ottawa for another term to represent them. We have so much more work to do. We’re going to go further, faster, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Andy Fillmore arrives at HQ, celebrating his win. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • Andy Fillmore arrives at HQ, celebrating his win.
  • Victoria Walton

NDP’s calls to action are echoed amid disappointing election results

Around 100 people filled the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax to celebrate NDP candidate Christine Saulnier’s campaign in Halifax. As the Liberals began winning seats across the province, the mood dimmed. But Saulnier’s entrance brought back a surge of the energy that carried her dedicated team throughout the campaign. 

Saulnier said her work for the people of Halifax wasn’t over with her defeat. “I am so grateful for the work that we’ve done together. I’m so proud of this campaign,” Saulnier told the crowd. 

She called on those in the room and her supporters around the city to build a mass movement for change, together—repeating NDP campaign promises and party policy tenents. 

The NDP party won 24 seats in the federal election—and 16 percent of the popular vote—but only one seat in Atlantic Canada, which went to Jack Harris in Newfoundland’s St John’s east riding. But in HRM, the NDP won 25 percent of all votes cast. 

Saulnier said that no matter who formed government, it’s up to Canadians to hold them to account on issues that matter to people in our community. 

Saulnier will return to her job as Nova Scotia director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and will bring the stories she heard while knocking on doors with her in her work. “I will continue to fight social and economic justice for living wages in our city and for environmental justice,” she said.

As for running again Saulnier says there’s a good chance: “This was an incredible experience for me…the first time that I've ever done anything like this,” said Saulnier, smiling. Knocking on doors and meeting thousands of people in every walk of life is “not something you get to do in everyday life.” And the people she met and stories she heard with certainly stay with her.

“I loved the city before, and I love it even more now.”

Christine Saulnier arrives at the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax. - THE COAST
  • Christine Saulnier arrives at the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax.
  • The Coast

Greens go for gold, get bronze, commit to continuing the fight 

Jo-Ann Roberts, leader of the Halifax Green Party, only wrote one speech for last night's election but that doesn’t mean she considers this campaign a loss. 

Roberts remained in high spirits when she re-entered the Green Party HQ, following a phone call with the Liberal’s Andy Fillmore. She only had words of hope and excitement concerning the future of their party in Nova Scotia and Canada as a whole.

"We fought an amazing campaign. We set the bar, we raised the expectations and we lived up to it, " said Jo-Ann Roberts to her crowd of supporters, shortly after hearing the news of her defeat. "We’ve changed politics in this city and in this province."

The campaign office was a sea of green throughout the night, with just over 60 people attending in support. Amid a mixture of volunteers, supporters and family, spirits ran high, filling the air with conversation and laughter. When Claire Kelly, Roberts’ daughter, took second place in the Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe riding for New Brunswick, the room exploded with cheers. 

Although the majority of the party didn’t expect to win the riding, many believed that the platform they built for the Green Party this election will live on for years to come.

“It was amazing to see the whole team develop around Jo-Ann and develop around the whole message that there’s a need for a green voice in the House of Commons from Halifax,” said Susan Antoft, a wearer-of-many-hats volunteer for the party. “The end result is a little disappointing but I can only see the Green Party growing and getting better in the future."

While the Green Party got no seats in Nova Scotia, it made a breakthrough in Atlantic Canada, when Jenica Atwin from the Fredericton riding beat out her Liberal competition. Elizabeth May and Paul Manly were also re-elected for their ridings which gives the Greens three seats, a first for the party.

For the Greens, this is a big success. In the 2019 election, they took about 6.4 percent of support. In 2015, the party received about 3.4 percent of the popular vote, down slightly from 3.9 percent in 2011.

“We achieved more than anyone expected of us,” said Roberts about her defeat. 

Roberts ran federally for the Green Party in Victoria but lost in the 2015 federal election. This year, she ran on a promise to protect the coast from offshore drilling, transition from fossil fuels to green energy, introduce a Guaranteed Liveable Income for Canada and bring in a national Pharmacare plan. She is also involved in issues affecting climate change, housing, democratic reform and income inequality.

Jo-Ann Roberts. - ISABEL BUCKMASTER
  • Jo-Ann Roberts.
  • Isabel Buckmaster
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Monday, October 21, 2019

The alarming links between climate, ocean and cryosphere

What happens when the ocean takes the brunt—about 90 percent—of global heating.

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2019 at 6:00 AM

widewhale.jpg

We’ve been dumping oil, plastic, toxic chemicals, radioactive sludge, sewage and fishing gear into the ocean for decades.

We depend on oceans for so much, including half the oxygen that keeps us alive. They’re a source of protein for many people worldwide, and they absorb much of the rising heat from our indiscriminate fossil fuel burning. So, why do we treat them so badly?

An alarming new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear the link between climate, ocean and the cryosphere (places where water is in solid form, as ice or snow, including the Arctic and Antarctic, glaciers, permafrost, ice shelves, icebergs and sea ice).

The “Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate” concludes that unnaturally rapid, human-caused global warming is altering oceans and the cryosphere faster and at a much larger scale than predicted earlier. When ice and snow cover shrink under higher global temperatures, we can expect increasing landslides, avalanches, floods, wildfires and risks to water availability and quality. We’ll also feel impacts on “recreational activities, tourism, and cultural assets.”

Without serious action to address the crisis, severe impacts will continue to increase.

The ocean is talking the brunt of the excess heating, about 90 percent. Without serious action to address the crisis, severe impacts will continue to increase.

The IPCC notes greenhouse gas emissions and other human activity have already warmed the planet 1 C above pre-industrial levels. “There is overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound consequences for ecosystems and people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.”

The report—by more than 100 authors from 36 countries who referenced about 7,000 scientific publications—found that, because greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for many years, already occurring trends will likely accelerate, including diminishing marine life, increasing storms, melting permafrost and shrinking ice caps. If we fail to reduce emissions and take other measures to slow global heating, the consequences will be far worse.

The IPCC has projected sea level rise by 2100 to be 10 centimetres more than it predicted in 2014—between 61 and 110 centimetres—mainly because Antarctic ice is melting faster than expected. The IPCC tends to be conservative in its estimates. Others predict sea levels could rise by as much as 238 centimetres if we don’t get emissions under control.

The researchers say that, even if warming is kept below 2 degrees Celcius, we can expect trillions of dollars in coastal damage every year and millions of migrants fleeing from coasts, now home to about two billion people.

In every scenario the IPCC examined, it found extreme sea level events that previously occurred every 100 years will likely happen every year by 2050 at many locations. These include more intense, frequent tropical storms with stronger winds and more rainfall, increasing harm to kelp forests and other important ecosystems, coral reef destruction, declining food fisheries and increased flooding from rising sea levels. Loss of ice and snow cover also causes feedback loops that speed up warming, as snow and ice reflect heat while dark surfaces absorb it.

A OneOcean initiative news release points out that three of the most serious impacts of climate breakdown on the ocean—acidification, heating and deoxygenation—have been present in every mass extinction in Earth’s history. This severity means controlling other stressors is critical. “Overfishing, pollution, destruction of habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity are all stressors that can be stopped in order to support the resilience of the ocean to withstand the climate crisis,” the release says.

As with all climate-related problems, there’s no shortage of solutions; we just need the political will to implement them.

OneOcean recommends protecting under international law the two-thirds of ocean that makes up the high seas (those areas outside national jurisdictions), curtailing overfishing and pollution, strengthening biodiversity targets and tackling climate disruption in every way possible.

Our profligate burning of fossil fuels and destruction of water and land areas that absorb excess carbon have already set unavoidable consequences in motion, but it’s not too late to avoid the most dire costs of climate disruption. We all need to heed the science and get on with solutions.

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Nova Scotia's street check moratorium to become permanent ban

"Now we can actually walk around with our chest out and confident about ourselves. And able to just be free, free to walk."

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 5:10 PM

Community leaders Robert Wright, Sylvia Parris and Trayvone Clayton for the cover of The Coast - RYAN WILLIAMS
  • Community leaders Robert Wright, Sylvia Parris and Trayvone Clayton for the cover of The Coast
  • Ryan Williams
Seven months after the release of Scot Wortley's report on street checks—which found that Black people were five to six times more likely to be street checked than their proportion of the population would predict—the province has made up its mind.

Today, justice minister Mark Furey announced a permanent ban on the practice of street checks. His decision comes after the release of a report from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission looking at the legality of street checks—the report says: they're illegal.

Trayvone Clayton says the news is "a big stress reliever." Clayton, along with three others stepped away from the Wortley Street Check Action Working Group last spring after it appeared they were moving towards regulation, and the youth were adamant a ban was necessary.

"It feels good to know that we will no longer be...stopped due to our skin colour or anything," says Clayton. "It's just something we've been wanting for over 20 years.

"Being able to walk through a neighbourhood, and walk through a community...it is good. We don't have to have that feeling no more that we're gonna be stopped for no reason."

The latest report, written by justice Michael MacDonald and Jennifer L. Taylor was asked for by the board of police commissioners to aid it in moving forward after the release of Wortley's report

The report, which will be presented to the board at Monday's meeting, says that street checks are illegal, based on the understanding that they are "not reasonably necessary."

The report writers say one element of their decision has to do with privacy concerns saying that "street checks have the potential to interfere with" the right to be free from "arbitrary detention" and " the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure." AKA the right to be left alone.
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The province had previously said in April that they were moving "toward strict regulation," which contributed to Clayton and his peers' stepping away from the working group.

"Before, walking around, when I would see police officers I would start to be hesitant," says Clayton.

"Now we can actually walk around with our chest out and confident about ourselves. And able to just be free, free to walk. Yeah, we still don't have full trust in the police officers..., but now we know they can't put their hands on us or stop us for no reason."

Clayton regrets that he and his peers weren't invited back to the working group once they decided to move forward with a ban, and that it took so long to see an official ban of the practice.

"They should have been listening to us from the get-go," he says. "It shouldn't've  took two reports for them to believe that the things they were doing were illegal." 
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District 11 Councillor Stephen Adams says he won't be running for council again

Says he's giving such lengthy notice so others have time to plan to vy for his seat.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 12:33 PM

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With plenty of deep breaths and a few sideways smiles, Stephen Adams made it through his announcement with almost no tears in City Hall Friday morning. 
Adams, Halifax's longest-serving councillor, told colleagues and media that this year would be his last in politics.

Adams, says he chose to make this announcement now in order to give anyone in his district—Spryfield - Sambro Loop - Prospect Road—sufficient time to plan to run in next year's municipal election, which will take place on October 17, 2020.

"For the individuals that are interested in offering, a year will give them some time to learn the area, learn the issues, and more importantly, get to know the people involved," says Adams.

He adds that potential candidates should "Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask me questions, read the papers and don't pay attention to Facebook."

While other 2020 hopefuls have also made quasi-moves surrounding the upcoming municipal election, official operations can't kick off until March 1. Which means candidates can't raise or spend campaign money until then.

Adams joined city council in 1991, was around for amalgamation in 1996, and has been around for plenty of changes since then—not to mention four different mayors, seven premiers, eight MPs and eight city managers or CAOs. He says he'll miss the ups, and the downs—because they made the ups better.

"Have a look at Spryfield now," says Adams of his career. "With the help of a lot of people and some determination and stubbornness, if you will, we succeeded."

Adams looks forward to seeing the 500 block section of Herring Cove Road project take shape during his last year on council, citing the bike lanes, sidewalks and a retaining wall which has already been started coming to the area.


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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Joan Kuyek’s book Unearthing Justice is a light in the darkness

Mining is a profitable, destructive and increasingly secretive industry.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 6:26 PM

Ralph Jack and Gwyneth Boutilier live on Cumminger Lake, below a proposed Cochrane Hill gold mine site, so they make their feelings about gold mining known on their front lawn. - ANDREW BETHUNE
  • Ralph Jack and Gwyneth Boutilier live on Cumminger Lake, below a proposed Cochrane Hill gold mine site, so they make their feelings about gold mining known on their front lawn.
  • ANDREW BETHUNE

When author and activist Joan Kuyek moved to Sudbury, Ontario, she noticed unusual surroundings. “I couldn’t believe the city when we first came in. I mean, at that point it was black rocks everywhere,” she says by phone from Ottawa. The landscape had been burnt by a hundred years of smelting in North America’s richest mining district.  Sudbury, like many parts of Nova Scotia, was built around mining. “It was an absolutely vibrant and alive place because there were so many young people who had been hired as the mines were expanding,” says Kuyek. “It was very exciting for us, too.” 

She spent 30 years as a community organizer. Over time, she saw the downsides of the industry that employed so many. “It made me have to deal with issues of the environmental destruction of mining, we were immersed in huge labour battles and the women’s movement, because women were treated so unbelievably badly in this resource town…that’s where it started.”

Kuyek dug deeper into the mining industry as founding national coordinator of non-profit industry watchdog MiningWatch Canada. For 10 years she was part of a skeleton staff developing a deep cache.

For the last 10 years, she has been a consultant to communities affected by mining. Now, after a lifetime of learning, Kuyek has decided to write everything she knows about Canadian mining in her new book, Unearthing Justice. “The reason for writing this book is I wanted it to be something useful to people who are dealing with mining issues,” she says. Unearthing Justice contains everything you might want to know about mining, told through the stories of people from BC to Nova Scotia. How a mine opens and closes, the displacement of Indigenous peoples to make way for mines, the flow of money, the legal system’s kid-gloves handling of the industry and ways for people to limit mining damage in their community are all covered. “It’s history. Maybe it was the accumulation of the assaults on the land and people that finally got to me… I just really felt that people needed to learn from each other,” she says.

Kuyek is coming to Nova Scotia for the book’s launch. Before launch activities, she will attend a demonstration at the gold show, paid for by citizens, where investors, industry people and government are welcome. Citizens and media are not.

Kuyek says the gold show is a bad sign. “Nova Scotia promoting it as this big gold show and then closing it to everybody because they’re so scared of their taxpayers doing something about it? That is unique.”

All are welcome at St. Andrew’s United Church (6036 Coburg Road) Saturday October 19 at 1pm for a talk from Kuyek followed by a panel discussion on alternatives to mining. Her tour continues in Tatamagouche Sunday.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Suzuki says: 'Vote for climate solutions'

It's the last week before the election—what issue are you voting for?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 2:39 PM

LENNY MULLINS
  • Lenny Mullins

Although the only discussion now should be about solutions and how to implement them quickly, some people in and out of the political sphere still refuse to accept the massive amounts of evidence for human-caused global heating and the need to address it.

Politicians are finally talking about climate change. How could they not? In Canada, more than 800,000 young people and their supporters took to the streets on September 27, joining more than 7.6 million worldwide, to demand that adults take the crisis seriously.

It was exhilarating to see half a million people marching in Montreal, more than 100,000 in Vancouver, over 10,000 in Halifax and many smaller marches throughout the country. But is it too little too late?

I don’t think so, but every day we stall means emissions continue to rise, making it increasingly difficult to avert the worst consequences. We’ve already pumped so many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and destroyed so many carbon-storing natural areas that the planet would continue heating even if we halted emissions immediately.

For decades, I and others have been speaking about the need to conserve energy, shift to renewables and protect natural spaces, all while being told the transition won’t happen overnight. Meanwhile, over many nights and days, Canada has continued to expand fossil fuel development and infrastructure, and representatives from across the political spectrum argue we need new pipelines designed to last at least 50 years to transport dirty fuels the world has committed to moving away from in less time!

It doesn’t make sense to pin our future on a polluting, climate-altering sunset industry that already employs far fewer people than the clean energy sector. It’s why we must take the upcoming federal election seriously. Fortunately, every major party now has a climate plan. Unfortunately, not every plan will get us to our Paris Agreement targets—and even those targets seem inadequate in the face of escalating consequences.

A common refrain is that Canada produces a relatively small percentage of emissions, so it doesn’t matter what we do.

Although the only discussion now should be about solutions and how to implement them quickly, some people in and out of the political sphere still refuse to accept the massive amounts of evidence for human-caused global heating and the need to address it. A common refrain is that Canada produces a relatively small percentage of emissions, so it doesn’t matter what we do.

Most countries could use the same excuse, and it ignores that we don’t account for the emissions from burning the fossil fuels we sell globally. And while it’s true Canada produces less than two percent of global emissions, we have one of the highest per-capita rates, behind the US and Saudi Arabia, and we’re the 10th largest emitter overall. Countries like Canada that contribute two percent or less to emissions add up to close to half the emissions, which means we all have to do our part. The top 15 emitters, including Canada, generate about 72 percent.

China produces more than 27 percent (although far less per capita than Canada), the US produces just under 15 percent, and India, in third place, produces under seven percent. More than 90 percent of emissions have occurred in less than 100 years, with more than half in less than 30!

It’s taken us hardly any time to pollute air, land and water and alter the climate with our wasteful consumer and car culture. There’s no reason to continue down this road. It’s been proven many times that money, cars and excess stuff don’t bring happiness. In Canada, we could go a long way by being less wasteful, but that’s just a start.

There’s no shortage of solutions; we just need political will.

We’ve put off tackling the problem in a meaningful way, and people—especially youth—have had enough. There’s no shortage of solutions; we just need political will. It’s time for us all to demand that politicians stop thinking in short-term electoral cycles and start focusing on the future.

We should all examine the roster of candidates and parties where we live, compare their environmental platforms and records, and ask local contenders about their climate commitments. Remember, in Canada, we don’t vote for a prime minister; we vote for a member of Parliament to represent us.

Thanks to the tremendous efforts of so many—youth, Indigenous people, environmentalists, politicians, business leaders and innovators—the climate crisis has become Canada’s top election issue. We must ensure it stays top of mind, no matter which party or parties end up governing after October 21.

Whether you vote in an advance poll or on election day, vote for climate solutions!

———
David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation
Senior Editor and Writer Ian Hanington.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Extinction Rebellion shuts down Macdonald bridge

Demanding the government close the Alton Natural Gas Storage project, shut down Boat Harbour project and close all coal, gas, and biomass generators in the province.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 at 12:12 PM

Protesters demanding change sat down on the Macdonald bridge on Monday morning. - STEPHEN WENTZELL
  • Protesters demanding change sat down on the Macdonald bridge on Monday morning.
  • Stephen Wentzell

Nearly 100 protestors from across the province descended upon the Angus L. Macdonald bridge early Monday morning to demand action addressing the climate crisis.

The #BridgeOut demonstration, organized by climate justice activists from Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia had demands for government to close the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project by October 4 (they didn’t), enforce the early 2020 deadline for the Northern Pulp Boat Harbour project and to close all coal, gas and biomass generators in the province and replace them with renewable energy from solar and wind.

Protesters arrived at the Bridge just after 7:30 am, and were met by more than 50 Halifax Regional Police officers at the bridge.

More than a dozen high school students skipped class to support the protestors,  including Lachlan Brown from Dartmouth High School.

“I’m worried about our planet and I’m worried I’m going to get robbed of my future if we don’t cut carbon emissions,” says Brown.

“I’m here to learn. The people older than me know more than me. It’s up to me and up to my peers in 20 years when we’re leaders of this country and we’re responsible for this planet so we have to fix this and the best way to do that is learn from the people who already know.”

While Extinction Rebellion planned to keep pedestrian and cyclist lanes open to the public, the Bridge Commission closed all lanes of traffic with an exception for emergency vehicles only.

Catherine Hughes, an artist from River John, says she rode her bike approximately 150 kilometres to Dartmouth, a nearly four-hour ride, to avoid creating additional emissions travelling to and from the demonstration. Hughes emphasized the need for expanded, accessible public transit throughout the province, “so people don’t have to feel like they’re taking their lives in their hands so they can live in a way that’s consistent with their beliefs.”

“The Pictou Landing First Nation…have to live with the stench from [the Northern Pulp] mill all the time, and in particular, they need to live beside Boat Harbour and the contamination there,” says Hughes. “I really want to see that mill closed down. It’s doing much, much more harm than good.”

After being told to leave the premises and given time to do so at 10:50am, Halifax Regional Police arrested around 14 people for failing to leave. By noon, a total of 18 activists had been arrested. A tweet from Extinction Rebellion NS late Monday afternoon noted the oldest detainee was born in 1942, and the youngest in 1997.

Supporters with posters and flags were ordered by police to leave the sidewalks near the bridge following the arrests as police reminded attendees the sidewalk is private property owned by the bridge.  

The bridge re-opened by 12:15 pm to cars and buses, as well as cyclists and pedestrians.

The sentiment of the closure contrasted with the Climate Strike last month that saw more than 10,000 protestors take to the streets of Halifax.

There was plenty of criticism for the demonstration from citizens frustrated by having to take an alternative route or method of transportation, making #BridgeOut an example of protest in its purest form—not for smiles and photo-ops but people putting themselves on the line for our planet. And despite the uproar from the public, the demonstration has given attention to the climate crisis and Extinction Rebellion’s demands in a larger capacity than ever in Halifax and around the world, where similar disturbance protests unfolded over the course of the day.

Frances Van der Wel arrived in Halifax with a friend Sunday evening, travelling from Wolfville to participate in the strike. Her friend was one of the protesters placed under arrest. - STEPHEN WENTZELL
  • Frances Van der Wel arrived in Halifax with a friend Sunday evening, travelling from Wolfville to participate in the strike. Her friend was one of the protesters placed under arrest.
  • Stephen Wentzell
Many citizens were more concerned about short-term inconveniences rather than long-term consequences of our actions—despite drivers being well accustomed to detour routes used during the abundance of closures during the Big Lift in the past few years.

But for protesters, it was a now-or-never moment. “I’m worried about the future of the world and all the good people that live here,” says Frances Van der Wel from Wolfville. “It’s just time. I’m fed up, I’m really fed up. Something has to change.”

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University students have two more days to vote for their home riding from campus

Elections Canada is on site at Dalhousie, SMU and University of King's College

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 at 9:36 AM


Dalhousie University's special ballot voting takes place in the Student Union Building. - THE COAST
  • Dalhousie University's special ballot voting takes place in the Student Union Building.
  • The Coast

Voting has historically been inaccessible for students and youth living away from the electoral riding they consider home, but this year, students can vote on campus with special ballots.

In past federal elections, there’s been a low voter turnout for youth aged 18-24. In 2011, overall voter turnout was 61 percent but less than 40 percent of youth voted.

“I always thought that my vote didn’t really matter and that’s why I didn’t vote in the 2011 election,” says Al Schnare.

At the time Schnare was living in Cape Breton, away from his home in Deep Cove. He says that he wouldn’t have voted anyway because he felt fed up with the political system and candidate options during the 2011 election.

In the 2011 federal election, Elections Canada set up polling stations in some university residences, but they were only to serve those living in residence. Many of these voting stations went unused because students were already transitioning between school year and summer lodgings by election day in May that year.

With growing concern about the low youth engagement in elections, the vote on campus program was started in an attempt to make voting easier and more accessible. The program allows people to vote by special ballot for a candidate in whichever riding they consider to be home—so long as they arrive with a form of accepted identification.

In 2015, 39 educational institutions took part in the program.

Youth turnout jumped by 18 percent for the 2015 federal election, pushing the youth turnout up from less than 40 percent in the previous election, to 57 percent.

“There was no question after the election whether or not it would be continued,” says Lisa Drouillard, director of outreach and stakeholder engagement for Elections Canada.

It’s now a permanent national program, with more than 115 educational institutions taking part. In Halifax this year, Saint Mary’s University, Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College are hosting student voting.

While Drouillard says programs like Vote On Campus can’t take all the credit for the spike in youth turnout, they were pleased to be able to accommodate the uptick in youth voters.

“The older I get, the more mature I get,” says Schnare, who voted for the first time in 2015, “and I realize that it [voting] is a lot more important than I gave it credit for before.

Voting on campus by special ballot in the advance polls runs from October 5-9. Students looking to vote in their home riding after October 9 can do so at an Elections Canada office or by mail before 6pm on October 15.

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Friday, September 20, 2019

The K'jipuktuk-Halifax Week of Climate Action kicks off with interfaith gathering and climate action rally

Hundreds of Haligonians gather to mourn the destruction caused by climate change and request government action.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 6:04 PM

Kelly Daphne sits on the ground before the rally. She is attending to support a future for her grandchildren. - ISABEL BUCKMASTER
  • Kelly Daphne sits on the ground before the rally. She is attending to support a future for her grandchildren.
  • Isabel Buckmaster

Hundreds of Haligonians gathered at Grand Parade Square on Friday to mourn the destruction caused by climate change and request government action.  

“The planet is in crisis, there is no planet B and unless we take that seriously then our home is gone,” said David Walmark, an attendee of the rally. “Everybody can do their own little bit individually but it’s not going to be enough, it has to be Halifax speaking.”

The Interfaith Gathering and Climate Action Rally marked the beginning of the K’jipuktuk Halifax week of Climate Action, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future. This gathering was designed to honour the victims of climate change with a moment of silence and hear from faith leaders and climate change activists about the state of the climate crisis. It also aimed to educate attendees on how they can make a difference. 

“If everyone shows that they care about the climate then we can make it, we can change the laws, we can change the system,” said Willa Fisher, 17-year-old climate activist from Citadel High School and one of the organizers of SchoolStrike4Climate HFX. “All this response means we are winning, that we can do this.”

The crowd watches as a Mi'kmaq ceremony takes place on stage. - ISABEL BUCKMASTER
  • The crowd watches as a Mi'kmaq ceremony takes place on stage.
  • Isabel Buckmaster

Working in collaboration with Extinction Rebellion, Our Time Halifax, Climate Strike Canada and more, each day there will be a series of events following the rally designed to generate climate change awareness. Events range from the Youth National Die-In to Veg Fest and will end with a General Strike on Friday, September 27. 

“With this event, we want to scare the shit out of the establishment. People say this is an interesting event—well it’s not just an interesting event, it’s an existential crisis,” said Richard Zurawski, HRM District 12 councillor and chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee for HRM. “When was the last time you had a big ol' glass of oil? Or chowed down on some coal? Or took a good deep breath of natural gas? Because that’s what is supplanting through big businesses across the HRM.”

One of the main themes the interfaith gathering and climate action rally sought to promote was the importance of unity. Bringing together leaders of various faiths, it encouraged all people to unite under one cause and stand up for everything being affected. Representing the Anglican church, reverend Tory Byrne both spoke at and attended the rally because she is worried about the state of god’s creation: “This creation is a creation for all people,” said Byrne. “We need to raise awareness, not only to make people aware but to make people commit to actions that aren’t always comfortable but give life to all.”

“Climate is life. If we ignore our climate then we don’t have anything,” said Joan Smith, a water walker for the Mi’kmaq nation. Smith believes that there needs to be an emphasis on the importance of water within the climate change fight. “Water is also life. Without water, we don’t have a climate, we don’t have land, we don’t have animals, we have nothing,” said Smith, “An elder told me once that we need to step up to the plate and I think that’s what’s happening now.” 

With Canada’s federal election on the horizon, the climate crisis has been a popular subject of debate. After Elections Canada’s decision to declare human-made climate change as partisan, the environment has become a hot topic as citizens wait to see whether Canada is going to vote for the climate. 

“I’ve lived in multiple places across Canada and I’ve seen effects of climate change from all over,” said Lindsay Eagleson, a rally attendee. “We need government and we need individuals to fight for a planet that we can all actually live on.”

Deborah Ross, another climate striker, agrees with that sentiment. “The time is now. We don’t have much time left to act for climate justice and to reverse the effects of climate,” said Ross, “We owe it to our children to protect their futures.”

One company in Halifax is already working to counteract pollution in the environment by reducing the number of personal-use vehicles in HRM.

“We need to show that we are together on this and that there is a huge movement to get people’s attention. This is a crucial moment,” said Pamela Cooley, the founder of Carshare Atlantic, who was at the rally. “I think it’s important that with everything we do we consider the environment and the future of the world.”

Events are happening all week in the city, culminating in the Strike for Climate next Friday, September 27. 

A Green Party supporter waves her flag as she takes part in the rally. - ISABEL BUCKMASTER
  • A Green Party supporter waves her flag as she takes part in the rally.
  • Isabel Buckmaster
Tina Yeonju Oh speaks to the crowd on stage. - ISABEL BUCKMASTER
  • Tina Yeonju Oh speaks to the crowd on stage.
  • Isabel Buckmaster
Joan Smith holds up a banner during the climate rally. - ISABEL BUCKMASTER
  • Joan Smith holds up a banner during the climate rally.
  • Isabel Buckmaster
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In Print This Week

Vol 28, No 4
December 3, 2020

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