Portapique: an independent panel isn’t good enough [UPDATE: a public inquiry will proceed.]

After three months, there will finally be an investigation into the April mass shooting which started in Portapique, NS. Unfortunately, it likely won’t go far enough.

Despite the specific requests of victims and victims’ families, it will be an independent panel and not a public inquiry. The panel will have no ability to compel testimony, and will lack the transparency of an inquiry.

Paul Wells has been echoing the societal frustration well in Macleans all along, and summed it up after the panel announcement.

We might as well give it a name, this odd feeling of having been heard, understood—and ignored—by government.

It’s a familiar enough sensation, after all. It’s not that the lines of communication have broken down. It’s not that the message isn’t getting through. It’s not even that governments are inert or inactive. On the contrary, they’re whirlwinds of action. They’re just doing… something else… besides what circumstances warrant and populations demand.

This odd feeling is all I have after Mark Furey, Nova Scotia’s justice minister, and Bill Blair, the federal minister of public safety, announced the end of three months of confusion about how governments would respond to the April mass murder around Portapique, N.S. They’re convening a review. It’s like a public inquiry, only toothless and secretive.

Before the ministers’ announcement, I asked Dalhousie University law professor Archibald Kaiser for some comment on the delay in announcing any sort of inquiry. Kaiser sent me a long, thoughtful essay. “Instead of reassuring the public, the behaviour of governments has been opaque, tardy, uncertain, avoidant and condescending,” he wrote. “It is hard to make sense of why there have been so many bungles and missed opportunities in the aftermath of Canada’s worst mass killing.”

Paul Wells, Macleans, July 2020

The news of the government’s decision was met with protests this past weekend. Despite the CVs of the appointed panel, I fear their output will be met with disappointment. And the families and loved ones will be left to deal with the questions and doubts.

UPDATE: bowing to public pressure, the federal government has announced a public inquiry.

Cover photo by Dustin Tramel on Unsplash


This week saw more excursions, including our first visit to a patio — Chez Nous, to be specific. It was nice to finally sit outside, sip some cool wine, and…talk to people.

Let’s see, what else? Watched Midsommar (imdb | rotten tomatoes) which was weird and scary but beautiful and excellent. Had a sudden, happy memory of a mixed CD called This One’s Worth Saving given out by Dalhousie radio station CKDU in my third year of undergrad. Protested some police bullshit.


Cover photo by Dustin Tramel on Unsplash

Cover photo by Andre Mohamed on Unsplash

Baby steps

Slowly, I am re-entering the world outside the loft. Last Saturday we walked into the east to meet a friend and drink Rorschach beers in a (very brown) Woodbine Park. Two days ago I went to the dentist (a new one; no need to get on transit to visit my old one) after a long wait — my last appointment had been scheduled for March 14 but was obviously cancelled.

I still haven’t been on a patio. I think I’m ready, but Lindsay isn’t quite yet. No matter; we have plenty of wine to keep us company right here in the loft.

We’ve watched some rough documentaries over the past week: first the documentary series Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (imdb | rotten tomatoes), then Athlete A (imdb | rotten tomatoes). The latter was exceptional — just extremely well done, thoughtful, well-constructed, and responsible in execution and scope. Still, between that and occasionally dabbling in the Waco miniseries, we’ve needed some light palate-cleansers as well, tossing in episodes of New Girl and The Good Place here and there as needed.

Maybe once this crazy heat wave (which, as I type this, has been temporarily replaced with rain at last) subsides we might attempt a patio. Until then: baby steps.


Cover photo by Andre Mohamed on Unsplash

Cover photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

The News

Growing up we had at least three (maybe more?) newspaper subscriptions. We got the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the Amherst Daily News, and the local weekly, the Citizen. This last is obviously gone, and I’m pretty sure the Amherst News is just a section of the Saltwire site now.

When I moved to Toronto I eventually subscribed to the Globe and Mail, then The Toronto Star, then both at once. (I loved newspapers and might have subscribed to more, but you couldn’t have paid me to read the National Post, and I don’t even consider The Sun to be a news source.) Reading my weekend paper(s) used to be a treasured Saturday morning ritual, but I let my both subscriptions lapse many years ago. I couldn’t really justify the paper usage or the cost versus free, high-quality, online alternatives.

Over time the thought of losing good journalism began weighing on me though, so I opened an online subscription. Granted it was the early days of the big media sources figuring out paywalls, but man was it clunky. I had a paid Globe subscription that never actually let me read pay-walled stories, so I gave up.

I’d always been more ideologically aligned to The Star than the others, and recently considered trying an online subscription again, but then they were purchased by a private equity firm. So we’ll see whether that ideological alignment lasts. In the meantime, I’ve hung fire on re-subscribing.

What I have begun paying for is newer, independent media, which doesn’t (as far as I know; I’m not invested enough to dig too hard) receive government funding for a dying business model (as opposed to receiving funding for journalism, which I would support). I have subscriptions to The Logic (for Canadian tech/innovation news) and The Athletic (for sports news), and have recently signed up for the West End Phoenix. I haven’t received my first issue yet, but I’m psyched. And while I don’t live in Nova Scotia anymore, much of my family does, so I might just sign up for the Halifax Examiner too.

It creates more things to manage, but I feel like my dollar goes further this way, and more directly to the people doing the work.


Cover photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash