Roundup: Police operation against homeless encampments turns violent, 9 new COVID cases, Local History—the fraudster Halifax’s elite protected

Photo: Ben Murray/Advocate Media

After promising an “empathy-based approach” to solving homelessness, HRM sent workers and police to dismantle encampments around the city yesterday, leading to clashes with supporters of the people losing their tents and shelters.

Things turned particularly ugly at the old Spring Garden Road library, where police harassed journalists and pepper-sprayed non-violent protestors (including a child).

At least one officer on the scene wasn’t wearing a name tag, breaking uniform regulations, while another wore the banned Blue Lives Matter badge, which many have adopted as a sign of defiance to movements like Black Lives Matter. (For more about that badge and why it’s problematic, see the comments from social-justice advocate El Jones in this recent LighthouseNow story).

Photo: Twitter

Police chief Dan Kinsella says the operation aims to make people safer.

“We have an obligation to protect public safety, as well as the safety of those living in these encampments,” he says in a press release. “Over the last several months, there has been a progressive increase in calls for service and complaints related to these encampment sites and surrounding areas. Our approach always starts with engagement, and we continue to work with the municipality, service providers and community partners on ways to best support people experiencing homelessness.”

Advocates say HRM and police actions yesterday belie those words.

“Shame on the police,” tweets the Adsum for Women & Children shelter. “Shame on the city. Shame on the province. Is this the approach to homelessness? Criminalizing people, using violence?”

HRM Council was largely quiet as yesterday’s violence unfolded, with some councillors (including the usually chatty Sam Austin and Waye Mason) starting their first day of vacation, while others maintained uncharacteristic social-media silence.

Meanwhile, the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service is looking to talk with anyone affected by yesterday’s police action.

“It appears that the HRM’s actions constitute multiple human rights violations,” says a press release from the organization. “We take issue both the HRM’s decision to evict and with the city’s failure to adequately consult with community stakeholders before taking action on this decision …  Despite Mayor Savage’s claims, several people have told reporters that they received no adequate offers of alternative accommodation prior to their eviction.  The evictions raise very serious constitutional issues, including the right to non-discrimination for persons with disabilities.” 

The police operation is expected to continue.

COVID update
Nova Scotia has 25 known actives cases of COVID-19, with nine new cases and six recoveries reported in the latest government update. All new cases are in the Central Zone; health officials say six are travel-related, two are close contacts of previously reported cases, and they’re still investigating one. There is one person hospitalized in ICU with the disease.

Tim Houston

Tories celebrate upset win
For the third time in three decades, Pictou County has provided Nova Scotia with a Tory premier, with surprise premier-designate Tim Houston following Donald Cameron (1992) and John Hamm (1999).

While delighted, his supporters say they aren’t surprised. “I said, ‘Tim being Tim, there’s going to be an upset,'” recalls long-time Progressive Conservative supporter Art Steeves. “I saw it coming.”

While the vote result reflects a stark urban-rural split, Houston promises to bridge that divide.

“This result tonight is a result we share together,” he said on election night. “Change is coming to Nova Scotia … I will promise you this: I will give you everything I have to fix health care. I will give you everything I have to make this a better province. It won’t happen overnight and it will cost money, but if we work together we can get the job done.”

Steve Goodwin reports for The Pictou Advocate.

There’s also a great deal of Progressive Conservative jubilation in Richmond County, where Trevor Boudreau took a riding that many pundits thought could go Liberal (although independent Alana Paon was the incumbent).

That race provides an interesting case study for how the blue wave moved across rural Nova Scotia. Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

James Forman

Local History: The fraudster Halifax’s elite protected
In Victorian Halifax, James Forman was a senior officer with the Bank of Nova Scotia and a well regarded community pillar, “active in the community as a member of the Nova Scotia Literary and Scientific Society, treasurer of the Halifax Mechanics’ Institute, trustee for the Provincial Building Society, member of the council of the Horticultural Association and International Show Society, and president of the North British Society of Halifax.

And then, a curious accountant learned the truth: their trusted associate had stolen some $315,000 from the bank. According to the bank’s official history, “it was nearly half the shareholder’s total equity in 1870, and more than 15% of the Bank’s total assets.”

In response, the city’s leaders were shockingly magnanimous. Instead of persecuting him, they closed ranks to protect him, hushing up the news. He repaid about half of what he stole and the bank wrote off the rest. He retired without facing charges.

Bob Gordon looks back in this Halifax Magazine historical report, originally published April 2019.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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