2013: The year of suck | City | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

2013: The year of suck

Misogyny, racism, death, layoffs, big government handouts to corporations and let’s all bow down before the convention centre. Tim Bousquet gives the blow-by-blow

After the province outsources its SAP program to IBM, 76 provincial SAP workers are offered jobs at IBM, but only 28 accept them. The other 48 bump other provincial employees with less seniority out of their jobs. • The Halifax Shipyard is awarded a $25 billion federal contract to build warships, and the average working person is already so enriched that landlords can jack up rents hundreds of dollars. • The RCMP charged a Sackville man with theft of over 1,300 old books and antiquities, apparently lifted from local libraries and archives. • Several hundred Idle No More protestors march through Halifax, demonstrating against Bill C-45. “The water and surrounding land were promised to us,” says protestor Rebecca Moore. “If you disregard treaties, corporations can buy these lands, including on reserves, for commercial use.” • The Fish Shop at the Seaport Market closes. • Long-serving Halifax MLA Howard Epstein announces he will retire. • Halifax council votes to spend $300,000 on a feasibility study for bringing district heating to downtown. • Over the course of two nights, The Morris House, built in 1764, is moved from its temporary storage space in a Nova Scotia Power parking lot to a lot at the corner of Creighton and Charles Streets, where it will become a shelter for young homeless people.

Halifax police create a crime-mapping website. • Halifax council asks the province to do away with half the 10-cent deposit on recyclable containers, a move that would close down all the Enviro Depots and eliminate any chance for street bottle collectors or charitable organizations to bring in a little income. Under the city’s proposal, the other five cents of the deposit would go exclusively to the city. • Musicians sign a deal with Symphony Nova Scotia, averting a strike. • Premier Darrell Dexter announces that the first $10 million given to Blackberry in support of its Halifax office over the previous five years was such a success that it will be matched by another $10 million given to Blackberry over the next five years. That’s probably a great idea, right?

After getting the court to remove former mayor Peter Kelly as executor of the Mary Thibeault estate, and after challenging Kelly’s revised accounting of the estate’s value, the rest of the heirs reach an agreement with Kelly. The terms are kept secret. • The NDP government reaches its goal of designating 12 percent of the province as protected wilderness. • Metro Transit launches a $191,000 “Do it on the bus” PR campaign. The public is mostly grossed out by it. • The Canada Games Centre starts enforcing a no-short-shorts rule. • The police department announces it will make the police blotter public “soon.” (It’ll be rolled out in January, 2014, we’re told.) • It’s revealed that, as part of the shipbuilding contract bid, the Dexter government had agreed to give Halifax Shipyard, owned by the billionaire Irving family, $260 million in “forgivable loans.” • With no real crime in the province to investigate, the RCMP keeps itself busy by busting the Compassionate Use Club. • Local Syrian immigrants demonstrate against the Assad regime. Then, another group of Syrian immigrants, led by Roy Khoury, owner of Mary’s Place Cafe, demonstrate in favour of Assad. • In the name of their son Alex, Fred and Elizabeth Fountain donate $1,050,000 to the QEII for mental health services for young people.

Three days after she hangs herself, Rehtaeh Parsons dies. Allegedly, the 17-year-old had been gang-raped by a group of her schoolmates, who then distributed a photo of the event via social media. Rehtaeh’s parents fault the police investigation. • Shay Enxuga and Elijah Williams, two Just Us! Cafe employees, file a complaint with the Labour Board, saying they were improperly fired for trying to organize a union. • The Suspicious Package appears on Barrington Street, giving the cops an excuse to try out their new robot. The briefcase full of bricks did not resist arrest. • Scot Jamieson sees a coyote on Vienna Street. A Department of Natural Resources biologist says the critters come into the urban area every so often, but people shouldn’t be too concerned. • Six Metro Transit buses spontaneously catch fire. • Excavation for the new convention centre includes lots of blasting, startling Argyle Street drinkers and putting cracks in buildings throughout downtown. • In honour of our coverage of former mayor Peter Kelly’s involvement with the Thibeault estate, The Coast is one of six newspapers named as finalists for the Michener Award, Canada’s most prestigious journalism award. • The Halifax Association of Black Firefighters and the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Department agree to a “restorative plan,” and chief Doug Trussler issues a vague apology for past department actions. But Blair Cromwell, arguably the most aggrieved black firefighter, who was fired for comments he made in The Coast, is not offered his job back. • Pogue Fado closes.

The Suspicious Package shows up at Halifax Shopping Centre, in the form of a briefcase full of hearing aids. • The city buys 612 pairs of inline skates for The Oval. • The province and city quietly give Trade Centre Limited $1,127,000 to promote the new convention centre, then refuse to disclose how the money will be spent because WORLD-CLASS CITY, THAT’S WHY. • The Suspicious Package makes an appearance at Stadacona. The very best in anti-terrorism technology—a water cannon-wielding robot!—is employed to blast the innocent bag someone left next to a car to smithereens. Freedumb! • The Mooseheads take their first QMJHL title.

The Just Us! Cafe barristas win their unionization battle. • Mayor Mike Savage meets with CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon in Toronto, and the pair fantasize about a Halifax stadium. • Over 2,000 pieces from the Annie Leibovitz collection are donated to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. • The city enthusiastically supports Benjamin Moore’s cynical Paint Main Street PR campaign by selecting 12 Halifax streets in need of a makeover. Mayor Savage compares himself to Brad Pitt as part of the city’s effort to help the company’s bottom line. • Late-night ferry service is restored, making the eight people who will use it very happy. • The Halifax Regional Police Department gets a new mascot, a sort of Disneyesque German shepherd called Blue, who crosses streets like nobody’s business. (In the writing biz, this is called “foreshadowing.” Just wait for the clever denouement.)

Jane Maloney, director of the North End Community Health Clinic, resigns to take a job in Ottawa. Maloney was one of the principal actors in the fight over St. Pat’s-Alexandra school. • Six Second Cup baristas vote to join a union, and five of them are fired. • The Nova Centre development is exempted from policies that require building proposals be fully approved before construction begins because SHUT UP, THAT’S WHY. • The city stops prosecuting people on the peninsula who have backyard chickens. • Burnley Allan “Rocky” Jones, who devoted his life to fighting racism against the black community, dies. • Council approves a plan to tear up the Chain of Lakes Trail in order to put a sewer pipe under it. The pipe will service just one development in Timberlea, diverting the sewage the development generates to the treatment plant downtown. • Quinpool Road, the street with a Benjamin Moore store on it, wins the Paint Main Street contest. The other 11 streets the city had selected for the makeover contest remain blighted hellholes.

Puppeteer T.H. Hatte is banned from the waterfront after an difficult encounter with Halifax police. “I’ve learned, never insult a policeman’s intelligence,” says Hatte. • Visiting artist Brian Pace turns a vacant lot on Gottingen Street into a healing garden in memory of gay activist Raymond Taavel, who in 2012 was killed on the street adjacent to the garden. • Council buys a house on Bayers Road. The city now owns 19 of the 31 houses between Highway 102 and Connaught Avenue, all of which will be needed for the proposed billion dollar Bayers/102 widening project, but—double-pinky promise!—no decision about widening the road has been made. • What with all the prosperity from the shipbuilding contract, Metro Transit increases fares without negative economic impact to riders.

Mic Mac Mall embarks on a back-to-school advertising campaign featuring stick-thin cartoon women brandishing slogans such as: “Social studies? Does posting my new boots on Facebook count?” “My favourite class? Shop!” and “Mixing patterns—now that’s a science!” This is surely an isolated incident, not reflective of misogyny in the wider culture.... • Eighty student leaders at Saint Mary’s University lead up to 400 newly arriving students in a chant advocating rape: “Y is for Your little sister, O is for Oh-so- tight, U is for Underage, N is for No Consent, G is for Grab that ass.” A cheerleader catches the chant on video and approvingly posts it on Instagram. • Premier Darrell Dexter calls an election. • Auditor general Larry Munroe finds that the city has lost $503,644 in ticket sale revenue since the Metro Centre box office was improperly transferred to Trade Centre limited. • Elsworth Bottomley, a former employee at Leon’s Furniture, tells the Human Rights Commission that while he worked at the store there were a number of racial incidents, including the hanging of a black statue out of a window. The statue had its eyes painted white in “blackface style.” Also, testifies Bottomley, the store had a policy of not sending two black drivers together to make home deliveries, because their presence might intimidate customers. • Tuxedo Stan dies.

Voters hand the Liberal Party a solid majority government. Stephen McNeil is sworn in as premier. • Nova Centre developer Joe Ramia presents a new design for the complex, which calls for the city to abandon the Grafton Street right-of-way so that it can be used as a driveway for hotel- and convention-goers. This contradicts various city policies, including the celebrated HRM By Design, and Ramia doesn’t offer any payment for the street, but that’s not to be questioned because WHY DO YOU HATE HALIFAX? THAT’S WHY. • Blackberry announces that it will close its Halifax office, putting 350 people out of work. • Hundreds of demonstrators march through Halifax streets, in support of native people arrested while protesting exploratory drilling in anticipation of fracking at the Elsipogtog Reserve. • A court rules against the city in its lawsuit against CN. The city was trying to get the company to pay for repairs to 12 bridges over railroad tracks.

In 2012, JONO Developments was the successful bidder for redevelopment of the St. Pat’s-Alexandra school site, but non-profit agencies sued the city, saying the city unfairly violated its own policies about abandoned school sites, unfairly stacking the bidding against them. A judge agreed, and reversed the sale to JONO. Now, JONO sues the city as well. • Police chief Jean-Michel Blais says he wants cabarets to have the same 2am closing time that all other bars have, an hour and a half earlier than the cabarets’ current 3:30am closing time. • The Labour Board finds in favour of one of the fired Second Cup baristas. The cases of the other four will be heard in the new year.

Newly elected Halifax Chebucto MLA Joachim Stroink tweets about his presence at a traditional Dutch Christmas celebration. “Giving some love to Zwarte Piet and Sinterklass thank you to the Dutch Community for putting this event on,” Stroink writes, attaching a photo of himself sitting on the lap of a back-faced Zwarte Piet. The next day, Stroink gives a tearful apology. • Former NBA star Craig Hodges is hired to coach the Halifax Rainmen. Hodges, the eighth Rainmen coach in seven seasons, made a name for himself as a black nationalist in the NBA. • There are a ridiculous number of pedestrian/vehicular accidents—18 in December alone, and a police review counts 74 throughout 2013. As of this writing, two more have been reported after the review was published. • The city’s new plan to relieve homeowners of responsibility for clearing sidewalks of snow and ice is a resounding success...for emergency rooms, which see 93 people for slip and fall injuries. • Police decide to address the pedestrian collision issue head-on, by having Blue, the department’s Disneyesque German shepherd mascot, cross the street in crosswalks, while secreted officers in regular cop uniforms issue tickets to drivers who don’t properly stop for Blue. The lesson is learned, and now all responsible pedestrians don giant dog costumes before crossing the street.

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