Sex abuse claim sparks lawsuit against N.S. Catholic diocese

A man who says he was sexually abused by a priest as a boy in Halifax in the 1960s has filed notice that he is planning a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth.

His lawyer believes if certified by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court the class-action lawsuit could eventually involve many more sex abuse claimants.

“It seems likely to me that there are hundreds, perhaps many hundreds, of potential victims out there,” lawyer John McKiggan, of the Halifax law firm McKiggan Hebert, said Thursday. 

The lead plaintiff in the case is Douglas Champagne, who in court documents claims he was abused by priest George G. Epoch while he was an altar boy at Canadian Martyr’s Church on Inglis Street.

Boy sought counselling after father left

The lawsuit says Champagne’s father abandoned his family in 1960 and Douglas Champagne, then eight, was sent to Epoch for counselling. 

“He came from a vulnerable family — single mom, a number of kids. And his mom wanted him to join the church and become an altar boy because she thought it would be good for him,” McKiggan said.

In court documents, Champagne says he became a “knight of the altar” in 1962 and that Epoch asked him to stay one day after the other boys left. Champagne says Epoch told him he loved him and then sexually assaulted him in the garment room of the church, and in Epoch’s room at the priest’s dormitory.

The alleged abuse went on for months, Champagne says.

“Other priests that lived at the residence looked at Douglas with a combination of disgust and sympathy,” the notice of action filed with lawsuit claims. “They did not lift a finger to prevent the abuse that they knew or ought to have known was taking place.”

Canadian Martyrs church has since merged with another congregation and the church building has been torn down. Epoch died in Ontario in 1986. According to the Nova Scotia Justice Department’s 2001 Kaufman Report, Epoch sexually abused many male and female children on First Nations reserves during his time in Ontario. 

John McKiggan of Halifax law firm McKiggan Hebert is handling the class-action lawsuit. (CBC)

McKiggan acted on behalf of sex-abuse victims in a $16-million settlement with the Diocese of Antigonish. He said 142 victims received compensation for abuse by priests.

‘We know there are others’

Since the Halifax-Yarmouth diocese is twice the size of the Antigonish diocese, he expects a proportionate number of victims to step forward.

“There is no reason to believe that the Halifax-Yarmouth diocese ran its affairs any differently than the Antigonish diocese did. The policies were the same,” he said.

“We already know that there have been a number of priests publicly who have been convicted. We know there are others who have been assaulted [and] not been made public.”

Priests Angus McRae, Edouard Josepth Theriault, Robert MacDougall, and Albert LeBlanc all pleaded guilty between 1980 and 2012 to sexually abusing young parishioners while working in the Halifax-Yarmouth diocese.

McKiggan said the decision to launch a class-action lawsuit is linked to efforts by the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth to allow it to divide its assets among dozens of parish corporations.

McKiggan said that would possibly leave victims unable to collect on judgments made against the archdiocese as a whole.

“It would mean quite possibly that they would have no means of recovering compensation for the harms and losses that they suffered at the hands of sexually abusive priests,” he said.

McKiggan said the next step is to apply to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to certify the class-action lawsuit.

He said litigation could drag on for years, depending on how the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth proceeds. The archdiocese learned of the lawsuit Thursday afternoon and told CBC News it is reviewing it with its legal advisers.

“The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth condemns sexual abuse of all forms,” John Williams, vicar-general of the archdiocese, said in a statement Thursday. 

“The archdiocese has an established process in place to address claims brought for any historic sexual abuse. The archdiocese makes a sincere attempt to do the right thing by way of the victims and achieve an appropriate and fair settlement for established claims.”

Williams said he could not speak about the specific allegations while the matter was before the courts. 

With files from Jon Tattrie

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more

Nova Scotia government hoping to lure early childhood educators from abroad

Nova Scotia hopes that fast-tracking the immigration process for early childhood educators will help fill the growing number of jobs created by the continued rollout of pre-primary across the province and the new daycare spaces promised by Ottawa.

Immigration Minister Lena Diab used a Halifax daycare centre as the backdrop to announce the new labour market priorities stream.

She called it “an innovative new stream designed specifically to respond to Nova Scotia’s unique labour market needs and demands.”

Letters to candidates

The change will allow the province to invite people with federal pre-approval to come to Canada to immigrate immediately to Nova Scotia to fill that industry need.

Next week, the province will send letters to 180 people who have the required two years of experience in early childhood education, inviting them to immigrate here.

Diab said her department has not set an immigration target, but she hopes some of the early childhood educators will choose to come to Nova Scotia now, rather than continue to wait for an offer by their preferred choice of province or territory.

The maximum number of applicants Nova Scotia is entitled to every year, under the provincial nominee program is 1,350. So far this year the province has nominated 785, or about 65 per cent of its quota.

Nova Scotia plans to speed up the immigration process for early childhood educators in order to help fill vacancies in that profession. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Deb Malbeuf, the executive director of the University Children’s Centre, which hosted the news conference, expressed some support for the program.

“I hope it does what it says it’s going to do,” she said. “I hope it brings newcomers. I know right now in the field of early childhood there is definitely a need for workers.”

But Malbeuf also hoped the government could do more to help international students who have graduated from private colleges after being trained as early childhood educators.

Already a shortfall

Last fall, Ottawa denied work permits to dozens of those graduates and claimed it had erroneously been issuing permits to previous graduates of the program.

Malbeuf said the new immigration stream might help in the future, but noted she has two vacancies at her centre that need to be filled immediately.

“I want to see help for the future but I also want to see help for the people that are struggling right now, not knowing what to do,” she said.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more

Nova Scotia government hoping to lure early childhood educators from abroad

Nova Scotia hopes that fast-tracking the immigration process for early childhood educators will help fill the growing number of jobs created by the continued rollout of pre-primary across the province and the new daycare spaces promised by Ottawa.

Immigration Minister Lena Diab used a Halifax daycare centre as the backdrop to announce the new labour market priorities stream.

She called it “an innovative new stream designed specifically to respond to Nova Scotia’s unique labour market needs and demands.”

Letters to candidates

The change will allow the province to invite people with federal pre-approval to come to Canada to immigrate immediately to Nova Scotia to fill that industry need.

Next week, the province will send letters to 180 people who have the required two years of experience in early childhood education, inviting them to immigrate here.

Diab said her department has not set an immigration target, but she hopes some of the early childhood educators will choose to come to Nova Scotia now, rather than continue to wait for an offer by their preferred choice of province or territory.

The maximum number of applicants Nova Scotia is entitled to every year, under the provincial nominee program is 1,350. So far this year the province has nominated 785, or about 65 per cent of its quota.

Nova Scotia plans to speed up the immigration process for early childhood educators in order to help fill vacancies in that profession. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Deb Malbeuf, the executive director of the University Children’s Centre, which hosted the news conference, expressed some support for the program.

“I hope it does what it says it’s going to do,” she said. “I hope it brings newcomers. I know right now in the field of early childhood there is definitely a need for workers.”

But Malbeuf also hoped the government could do more to help international students who have graduated from private colleges after being trained as early childhood educators.

Already a shortfall

Last fall, Ottawa denied work permits to dozens of those graduates and claimed it had erroneously been issuing permits to previous graduates of the program.

Malbeuf said the new immigration stream might help in the future, but noted she has two vacancies at her centre that need to be filled immediately.

“I want to see help for the future but I also want to see help for the people that are struggling right now, not knowing what to do,” she said.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more

Little yellow flowers signal resurgence for Halifax's famed agave plant

While the city gardener was starting to lose faith that it would ever bloom, little yellow flowers have budded on Halifax’s famous agave plant.

Within the next couple of days, the plant — affectionately dubbed Agave Maria — will be in full bloom in the Public Gardens.

The Agave americana, commonly known as the century plant, grows a huge asparagus-like stalk that flowers once in a 25-year lifespan before the plant dies.

This spring, the plant was moved outdoors because it was getting too big to fit in the greenhouse.

In May, Heidi Boutilier, a horticulturalist with the municipality, said she suspected cold weather may have killed the plant before it had the chance to flower.

Small yellow buds are emerging on Halifax’s agave plant. (Steve Berry/CBC)

But people were flocking to the gardens to get a glimpse of the new buds on Thursday.

“It is absolutely amazing,” said Paula Blades, who was visiting Halifax from Cape Breton. “I’ve been following it online. But seeing it up close, in person, is pretty amazing.”

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more

Algae bloom closes part of Lake Micmac to people, dogs

An algae bloom along the shore of Lake Micmac at Shubie Park in Dartmouth, N.S., has closed the area to swimming.

People and pets shouldn’t be in the water in that part of the park because algae blooms may produce toxins that can cause mild to severe health problems, says Cameron Deacoff, an environmental performance officer with the municipality.

The designated off-leash area is popular with dog owners.

“In freshwater environments, there are different types of algae that can produce toxins that are harmful to both humans and pets,” he said Thursday.

He said blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, most commonly causes blooms.

“The biggest concern is that many of the species of blue-green algae that produce toxins can be harmful to people and animals, wildlife and livestock, and the symptoms that can be experienced range from relatively mild to quite severe … death. It is important to note that is relatively rare.”

Concerns about life-threatening symptoms

Earlier this month, three dogs died after swimming in the St. John River in Fredericton. A New Brunswick veterinarian said he suspected blue-green algae was a cause of the deaths.

While that has not been confirmed, “concerns about blue-green algae blooms is still quite relevant,” Deacoff said.

An area of Lake Micmac in Shubie Park, designated as off-leash, is closed to swimming because of a blue-green algae bloom. A city official says people and animals should stay out of the water. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Respiratory, nervous system and rapid onset liver damage are the more severe effects.

However, more benign symptoms, such as headache, nausea, diarrhea, fever, dizziness and sore throat, are much more common, Deacoff said.

Those symptoms can also be produced by bacteria, such as E. coli, which also closes some beaches in the summer, but the algae toxins are more dangerous because of the possible escalation to a life-threatening condition.

Heat wave contributing to blooms

The current heat wave has raised water temperatures producing algae blooms unlikely to be seen until mid-to-late August and into September, Deacoff said.

“These algae cells are natural inhabitants of our waterways and are there all the time, but they don’t often bloom. Certainly we have relatively little experience with that in Nova Scotia, although not none,” he said.

“I think the reason the city has put a little bit more emphasis on this is due to the greater prevalence of freshwater blooms in recent years.” 

Longer daylight hours, wind and water currents and PH levels also contribute to the blooms.

Not all algae blooms are of the blue-green type. But Deacoff advises people to steer clear of areas where there is a bloom.

Pets and children, because of their lower body weights and propensity to ingest water, should be kept away.

“it’s better to play it safe and simply avoid the area, certainly until after the bloom has dissipated,” he said.

“It would be better to avoid the area in general because, unless the water is tested, it’s uncertain whether or not toxins have been produced and toxins do not dissipate at the same time blooms do. They persist longer.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more

Cape Breton police charge 3 in Leitches Creek grad party death

Cape Breton Regional Police have charged 21-year-old Hayden Kenneth Laffin of Bras d’Or, N.S., with attempted obstruction of justice in the death of 17-year-old Joneil Hanna.

Laffin was driving the vehicle that struck and killed the North Sydney teen June 10 on Highway 223 near Leitches Creek after a graduation party, police said in a news release Thursday.

Police also announced charges under the Liquor Control Act of allowing drunkenness on their property against the homeowners who hosted the grad party: Kenneth and Donna Wilkie of Leitches Creek.

Despite a public outcry on social media, police maintain they did not have any evidence to charge Laffin with impaired driving.

Police say driver was ‘proven’ not impaired

In the news release, police said Laffin “was proven not impaired.” The obstruction charge stems from what police are calling “circumstances following the collision.” He appeared in court earlier Thursday.

Kenneth Wilkie, 52, and Donna Wilkie, 49, are scheduled to appear in Sydney provincial court on Sept. 18. If the pair are convicted of the Liquor Control Act offence, the maximum punishment is a $2,000 fine and six months in jail.

Police said the charges were laid after accident reconstruction and vehicle analysis, as well as interviews with more than 30 people.

Chief Peter McIsaac said in the release that the investigation was complex and difficult, and was made worse by “a wealth of misinformation” in the media and online.

“This was a very tragic accident that led to a very complex and difficult set of circumstances to investigate — multiple involved persons and witnesses, initial confusion at the scene over what actually caused the victim’s injuries, and the additional questions about the circumstances leading up to the collision, including a nearby graduation party,” he said.

“The complexity of this investigation was further complicated by a wealth of misinformation — based on assumptions, opinions and rumours — circulating in the community and on social media, and then reported in the media, generating significant criticism towards the police.”

‘Obligation to the facts’

McIsaac said it was frustrating and disappointing not to be able to counter misinformation about the incident and criticism of police.

That also made the investigation more difficult, he said, and was “hurtful and shameful” for the people involved and their families.

McIsaac said he requested the Serious Incident Response Team conduct a parallel investigation into the police handling of the case, but SIRT declined to do so because there was no alleged officer wrongdoing.

“These charges are the result of our obligation to the facts and evidence presented to us and our accountability to the law,” McIsaac said.

“I hope they also serve as a strong reminder of the risks and liabilities involved in hosting parties where alcohol is knowingly served and that hosts have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their guests and others who could be impacted by them leaving the party, especially when they are supervising those under the legal age for consuming alcohol.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more

June vehicle/pedestrian collision stats

Halifax Regional Police (HRP) and Halifax District RCMP release a monthly vehicle/pedestrian collision report to provide police and citizens with more contextual information on this issue. A total of 104 vehicle/pedestrian/bicycle collisions have been reported since January 1, 2018. Of the collisions, 17 involved a bicycle. The remaining 87 incidents were vehicle/pedestrian collisions, with 94 …

Read more

Convicted killer William Sandeson wants computer back for 'sentimental' reasons

Convicted killer William Sandeson went back to court Thursday morning to ask Nova Scotia’s Public Prosecution Service to return his computer. 

Sandeson, a former Dalhousie University medical student, made the request in a video hearing, telling the court that information on the computer had “sentimental” value.

He didn’t say exactly what he meant.

The computer was seized during the investigation into the death of Dalhousie University student Taylor Samson. A jury convicted Sandeson of first-degree murder in June 2017 following the man’s disappearance. 

Samson’s body has never been found. 

Sandeson is appealing his murder conviction. 

He’s also been involved in a subsequent legal battle. Earlier this year, he took Dylan Zinck-Selig to small claims court after his former roommate admitted he took some of Sandeson’s homemade wine and two pairs of sneakers after police searched the pair’s apartment. 

The court awarded Sandeson $700. 

The judge Thursday, however, said he was uncertain whether he had jurisdiction to hear Sandeson’s request given the appeal request. 

The Crown argued that Sandeson’s computer cannot be released as it could be considered evidence if that appeal goes ahead. 

The prosecution instead offered to provide a copy of the computer’s hard drive to Sandeson’s father. While Sandeson accepted that suggestion, he argued that he wants to machine itself. 

The hearing will resume Aug. 9.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more

Lobster gear destroyed in 'rush' to deploy tidal turbine, fishermen's group says

A fishermen’s group says dozens of lobster traps were destroyed during the “rush” to deploy the Cape Sharp Tidal turbine in the week before the bankruptcy of OpenHydro, the Irish company that spearheaded the project.

The accusations comes as court records show that OpenHydro’s management knew it was heading to insolvency before the two-megawatt demonstration turbine was installed in the Minas Passage.

Darren Porter, spokesperson for the Fundy United Federation, which represents fishermen in the area, said on the morning of July 19 he and others watched as Cape Sharp Tidal Venture vessels ran over buoys. About 65 lobster traps were lost to the bottom of the ocean, he said.

“They had no problem running over our gear, we even videotaped them running over our gear and they didn’t care. So they were definitely in a rush to get [the turbine] to the bottom of the Minas Passage,” he said.

“It caused so much grief it was unbelievable. It’s such a loss to the fishermen … We have all this marine debris, ropes floating around the ocean, buoys, and a whole bunch of lobster traps sitting on the bottom.”

Cape Sharp Tidal Venture is a collaboration between OpenHydro, which has an 80 per cent stake, and Nova Scotia energy company Emera Inc. to try to harness the power of the tides in the Bay of Fundy.

The first demonstration turbine was deployed in the Minas Passage and grid-connected in November 2016. It was pulled out about six months later.

The new tidal turbine was deployed on July 24 and connected to the power grid, according to a July 26 press release from OpenHydro’s parent company, Naval Energies.

The same release said based on a board meeting on July 25, the company would no longer be investing in tidal energy. The Irish High Court appointed a liquidator for both OpenHydro Technologies Ltd. and its parent group, OpenHydro Group Ltd., the next day.

Darren Porter says he and other fishermen witnessed their lobster trap buoys being run over by Cape Sharp Tidal Venture vessels. (Submitted by Darren Porter)

Porter said fishermen believe the turbine wasn’t supposed to go back in until after the lobster fishery closed on July 31.

“They’re supposed to wait until the lobster season is over and if they don’t wait, they’re supposed to compensate the fishermen to move. And they wouldn’t do that,” he said.

An environmental assessment for the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE), a non-profit agency of public and private developers managing the tidal site, states project vessels must try to minimize the effect on fisheries.

Construction activities, maintenance and decommissioning of the site should be done during non-lobster seasons, according to the assessment, but if activities must take place during lobster season, fishermen will be informed of the vessel movements and traps will be relocated if necessary.

Government, Emera says turbine not deployed early

But Emera, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans all deny the turbine was put in early, saying it went into the water in the timeframe allowed.

Stacey Pineau, spokesperson for both Emera and Cape Sharp Tidal, said representatives worked with fishermen in the months leading up to deployment.

“No fisher provided feedback at that time that indicated that a deployment should not proceed, so CST went ahead with a July deployment,” she said.

Porter said about 65 lobster traps were lost during the deployment. (Submitted by Darren Porter)

FORCE’s environmental assessment also states that if damage does occur, the fishermen will have to demonstrate the loss of gear, “and FORCE will work with the gear owners to determine the appropriate level of compensation.”

Pineau said no fishermen have filed claims with Cape Sharp Tidal relating to gear lost during deployment, but the process for managing claims will be determined by the liquidator.

‘It’s a big impact for a small town’

Porter said he’s doubtful the fishermen will ever see that money.

But they aren’t the only ones waiting to get paid, as many local businesses in nearby Parrsboro, N.S., say they’re out thousands.

Ulrike Rockenbaur, owner of the Maple Inn, said she’s not been paid $3,800 for four rooms booked in June for OpenHydro employees.

She called the company, which told her it would take a bit longer because the money was coming from Ireland, but later said she had to resend the invoice.

“It was like a tactic to not pay us,” she said. “It’s a big impact for a small town like Parrsboro.”

Jay Grant of Riverview Cottages said he’s out roughly $7,000.

Grant said he “got a little leery” after the company repeatedly changed the dates and number of nights. He then got a call saying the guests would be checking out, as the project finished earlier than expected.

“They just grabbed their stuff and left. There was about three or four cars that absolutely sped out of here. I kind of thought, ‘That was strange.’ But then again I knew they had finished early,” he said.

He tried to process the final bill, but the credit card was denied and emails bounced back.

“Your heart sinks. I just thought, ‘Oh, here we go,'” he said.

The first Cape Sharp Tidal turbine was lowered into the Minas Passage in November 2016. (Cape Sharp Tidal)

David Beattie owns the Black Rock Bistro, which was providing dinner for the marine operations crew. He also owns the Gillespie House Inn, which had guests from OpenHydro.

He said he’s spoken with Alisdair McLean, one of the directors of Cape Sharp Tidal and formerly OpenHydro’s manager for Canada. There’s “some degree of hope” that local businesses will be paid, Beattie said, but no guarantee.

Despite CBC’s repeated requests to interview MacLean, Pineau said he was unavailable.

Emera seat on OpenHydro board

According to OpenHydro’s website, Emera’s vice-president of special projects, Christian Richard, had a seat on the Irish company’s board.

But Pineau said Emera hasn’t been on the board since March 2018 and no Emera representative was at the July meeting. She also said Emera only learned of the OpenHydro liquidation on July 26.

Court documents show that concerns around OpenHydro Group go back as far as October 2016.

A copy of Naval Energies’s petition to the Irish High Court for OpenHydro Technology Ltd., dated July 26, says both that company and its parent, OpenHydro Group Ltd., had “a very challenging year in 2017,” leading to a full review of all assets.

A financial overview dated July 9 forecasted that OpenHydro Group would run out of cash on Aug. 20, and the company would make a loss before interest over the next eight years — totalling about $194 million Cdn.

The documents also show that between October 2016 and July 2018, minority shareholders raised concerns that the role of the OpenHydro board was limited and there was an absence of debate about strategic issues, as well as conflicts of interest and breaches of corporate governance.

Concerns from senior management

But it wasn’t just the minority shareholders who were worried.

The documents reference a letter dated July 24 where five senior managers of OpenHydro Group wrote, “For some months, our clients have been extremely concerned that OHG cannot pay its current or future liabilities and is within the zone of insolvency.”

The documents say the issue of the company’s insolvency was raised with its CEO on a number of occasions.

Naval Energies wrote that it disputed both the minority shareholders’ and the managers’ allegations, but it used the letter as reinforcement that OpenHydro should be wound up.

“The letter is, in effect, critical of OHG’s directors for not having taken action to wind up OHG sooner,” the documents read.

A specially designed barge was used to move the new turbine into position in the Minas Passage. (Cape Sharp Tidal)

Naval Energies also asked that liquidators facilitate an independent investigation into the allegations.

Right now, the fate of the turbine still floats in uncertainty, but a spokesperson for the Department of Environment said on Wednesday the province is not considering making an investment.

“This situation is a corporate issue, and it’s up to the private companies that own the turbine to settle the matter,” JoAnn Alberstat said.

FORCE officials said last week that Cape Sharp Tidal has isolated the turbine from the power grid and it is not generating electricity.

But the turbine is still subject to weekly monitoring. A spokesperson for the Department of Environment confirmed it received an update as recently as this week.

If it goes unmonitored for more than a week, a contingency plan is in place — but it’s unclear at this point who is responsible to enact that plan and whether the liquidators would have to be involved.

When asked whether there was an agreement in place outlining what would happen if one of Cape Sharp Tidal’s partners could not fulfil its obligations to the project, Pineau said any agreement between Emera and OpenHydro is “commercially sensitive” and will not be shared publicly.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more
error: This Content is protected!
Top