Roundup: Cruise ships return, COVID update, Northern Pulp fights Boat Harbour legislation, police training scrutinized at Desmond inquiry

Illustration: Alexander MacAskill

Plus: RCMP search for leads after Lunenburg art theft

Today the ships Ocean Navigator and Norwegian Getaway are visiting Halifax, bringing in the city’s first cruise visitors since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Port officials expect to welcome about 150 ships this year, but some industry experts say Halifax should be leery.

Miami lawyer Jim Walker runs a practice that exclusively sues cruise lines, primarily representing sick or injured crew members. He’s filed thousands of suits over the last 25 years and writes a blog called Cruise Law News, with the tagline “Everything cruise lines don’t want you to know.”

Walker says his sources who work on cruise ships “paint a very disturbing picture of the industry … It’s an industry that has a historical propensity to hide the ball, hide the truth, and to lie to government officials and the U.S. Coast Guard” about health and environmental practices. “I’ve been calling them plague ships, ships of pestilence and disease,” he adds.

Phil Moscovitch reports for Unravel Halifax.

COVID counts climbing
The COVID-19 count continues to increase worldwide, with the World Health Organization tallying 348,582 confirmed new cases globally in the last 24 hours.

The real number of infections is likely much higher though, as many jurisdictions (including Nova Scotia) are now withholding daily data, making it impossible to get a full picture of the disease’s spread.

Dr. Tara Moriarty, director of an infectious diseases research laboratory and professor at the University of Toronto medical school, recently estimates that Nova Scotia has about 19,300 cases per day, more than ten times higher than the government’s lab-confirmed figures.

So far, COVID has killed 6,220,390 people worldwide, including 38,847 people in Canada and 290 Nova Scotians

Sasha Irving. Photo: LinkedIn

Northern Pulp fights Boat Harbour legislation
The owners of Northern Pulp are in a political battle with the Houston government, fighting legislation that would prohibit legal claims against the province for closing the Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility. The legislation is part of an ongoing project to reclaim the Pictou County tidal estuary, which absorbed decades of pollution from the now-idle Northern Pulp mill.

“The province wasn’t successful in opposing mediation in the courts, so they are changing the Boat Harbour Act to retroactively eliminate their responsibility and legal obligations,” says Sasha Irving, a vice-president with Paper Excellence Canada, Northern Pulp’s parent company. “Any organization entering into a contract with the Province of Nova Scotia should now be concerned the province believes it can enact laws to retroactively wipe out their legal and contractual obligations without any compensation.”

Then-premier Stephen McNeil ordered the mill’s closure in 2019, after management repeatedly failed to meet Nova Scotian environmental standards.

Steve Goodwin reports for the Pictou Advocate.

Police training scrutinized at Desmond inquiry
Police in Nova Scotia aren’t adequately trained to confront intimate partner violence, says justice department advisor Sharon Flanagan, who is the only provincial official responsible for providing the training and auditing for the province’s 10 municipal police agencies, the RCMP, and military police. She says she regularly receives correspondence from police agencies looking for additional mental health and intimate partner training.

In 2017, retired soldier Lionel Desmond — an Afghan war veteran who police knew to have a history of domestic violence and mental illness — murdered his wife, daughter, and mother before killing himself. A inquiry looking at the circumstances around the killings is scheduled to wrap up hearings this month.

Drake Lowthers has more for the Reporter.

Victim puzzled after South Shore art heist
The RCMP is asking the public for tips after someone broke into Chippie Kennedy’s Lunenburg studio and stole three sculptures, worth “thousands of dollars.”

The break-in happened overnight on Apr. 7, when someone broke a window and absconded with a nearly life-size female figure made of plaster, a solid brass hare, and a small facial sculpture.

The crime mystifies Kennedy. “Beats me,” she says. “I create stuff. If it appeals to people, they buy it … Maybe they are trying to melt it down and thought the bronze (colour paint) is actual bronze.”

Keith Corcoran has the story for LighthouseNow.

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