My Nova Scotia Hosting The Great Mid-Life Road Trip Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:00:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My Nova Scotia 32 32 125914392 Lockeport woman picks up 8,500 disposable cups in under a year Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:00:24 +0000

These are just some of the disposable cups Melda Roache Clark has picked up this year. This photo is from July. (Submitted by Melda Roache Clark)

A retired teacher from Lockeport, N.S., has picked up more than 8,500 disposable cups this year along roads in Shelburne County.

Melda Roache Clark has also picked up thousands of refundable bottles and cans too. She told CBC’s Mainstreet on Wednesday she started doing the pickup after setting a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day.

After winter passed, she noticed an abundance of trash in ditches and on the sides of roads.

“At first, I commented to people there’s so much trash in the ditches,” she said. “And then one day, for some reason, I got this brilliant idea, I’m going to pick up some of this trash.”

She focused on picking up disposable cups and refundable cans and bottles, and then started tracking the number of cups she was picking up.

“We couldn’t believe it. It went from 1,000 to 2,000 to 3,000 and as of yesterday, I’m over 8,500,” she said.

Roache Clark runs a Facebook page called Oceans Matter To Everyone where she posts pictures of her daily hauls to raise awareness of her work and the trash problem.

She said she walks on Highway 3 between Lockeport and Jordan Falls, and then turns on to Highway 103  toward Shelburne.

“From Lockeport to Shelburne is 30 kilometres. But I can pick those same areas just about every day and get a fresh lot of cups, cans and bottles,” she said.

Roache Clark said she finds older versions of single-use beverage cups in ditches with designs that haven’t been around in years.

She said many of those older disposable cups have plastic liners in them that don’t break down. She said her goal is to keep them from getting into the ocean and has a message for people who litter.

“Please stop tossing stuff out your windows,” Roache Clark said.

‘Hopes and dreams in the next generation’

Roache Clark said she hopes to set an example for her three grandchildren. She said they’re horrified by people throwing things out of vehicles.

“I’m placing my hopes and dreams in the next generation,” she said.


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Why Atlantic Canada’s lucrative seafood industry is concerned about Elizabeth Warren Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:00:00 +0000

Canada is defending measures it has taken to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, as political pressure — and blame — mounts from the United States in the wake of a rash of whale deaths in Canadian waters in 2019.

“We’re very confident that our measures are world class in nature and stand up extremely well to those in the United States,” said Adam Burns, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ director of resource management.

Burns was responding to the latest salvo from Massachusetts senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, who are threatening a ban of some Atlantic Canadian seafood products.

The senators blame a Canadian “roll back” of whale protection measures in 2019. Canada had 12 right whale deaths in its waters in 2017, then none in 2018.

A North Atlantic right whale swims in the waters of Cape Cod Bay in April. (AFP via Getty Images)

“Consequently, of the 10 right whale mortalities documented in 2019, nine occurred in Canadian waters,” they wrote in a Nov. 13 letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The U.S. had five (2017), three (2018) and one (2019) deaths in its waters during that time, according to the NOAA

The senators want proof Canada is doing as much as the U.S. to protect right whales before the whales return to Canadian waters in the spring.

‘Severity of the right whale crisis calls for urgent action’

“If NOAA finds that Canada’s conservation standards are not equivalent to ours, then NOAA Fisheries under the authority of the MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act) should consider taking action to prohibit imports of fishery and fishery products from the pertinent Canadian fisheries into the United States,” they wrote.

When the MMPA comes into force in 2022, the United States can ban seafood imports from countries without equivalent marine mammal protections after a comparability analysis.

The senators say that as a G7 economy Canada is exempt from the grace period. They are seeking an expedited “comparability analysis” under the act.

Sen. Ed Markey co-wrote the letter to the NOAA with Warren. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

“The severity of the right whale crisis calls for urgent action,” they said.

‘Hell yeah, we take it very seriously’

So far the U.S. commerce department has rejected similar calls for a fast-track review that could lead to a Canadian seafood ban.

But under court pressure from environmentalists in 2018, the United States banned Mexican shrimp and other seafood caught with gillnets that kill endangered vaquita porpoises.

The Atlantic Canadian seafood industry remains apprehensive.

“Do we take it seriously? Hell yeah, we take it very seriously. The U.S. remains our biggest market and that’s not changing anytime soon,” said Geoff Irvine of the Lobster Council of Canada.

Trap fisheries like snow crab and lobster are under the greatest scrutiny as a potential cause of entanglement, especially in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the scene of most right whale whale deaths.

In 2017, two of the deaths were attributed to entanglement in snow crab gear.

“Any time there’s a potential threat of a closure stopping product crossing borders, it’s certainly of serious concern, to any and all seafood processors or shippers in Nova Scotia,” says Osborne Burke, general manager of Victoria Co-Operative Fisheries, a large snow crab and lobster processor in Cape Breton.

Steps taken

Burke and Irvine point out Canada imposed numerous restrictions on fisheries in the Gulf of St Lawrence after 2017, including fishing restrictions, speed limits and a massive increase in aerial surveillance.

Environmentalist Sean Brillant of the Canadian Wildlife Federation defends the measures.

“I believe the actions that have been taken and are continuing to be taken by Canada are sound and deserve some acknowledgement that these are good decisions,” he said.

Did Canada ease up?

In the face of complaints from Canadian fishing groups, Canada modified its restrictions in 2019 after no right whale deaths in 2018.

That included reducing the size of a season-long closure area for snow crab in the Gulf in favour of dynamic closures imposed when a right whale is spotted in an area.

Warren and Markey contrast that with efforts by U.S. fishermen, especially those in their home state who have “significantly changed their practices to reduce whale mortality.

“Because the burden of reducing risk to right whales falls substantially on fishermen, it is essential that we understand whether U.S. and Canadian fishermen are being held to the same high standards.”

Conservationist rejects U.S. claims, but says more must be done

Brillant argues restrictions in place in Canada this year were as strong 2018.

“But ultimately the proof is in the pudding. And right now we’ve got all these dead whales with us, and that’s showing that despite all this good effort and good decisions it’s not adequate.”

In Ottawa, DFO’s Burns says Canada is able to respond faster than U.S. regulators to protect right whales, pointing to its power to shut down fishing in a 1,400-square-kilometre area after a single right whale sighting.

“They’re very aware that our legislation and regulations allow us to implement measures that help us avoid entanglement of North Atlantic right whales in a way that our colleagues in the United States simply are unable to do,” Burns said.

“And so while we’re focused on a slightly different approach … we share the objective of mitigating to the extent possible the impacts of fishing on North Atlantic right whales.”

The politics behind blame

U.S. politicians in New England are under pressure from their own lobster fishermen, who are facing demands for greater fishing restrictions to protect right whales.

This fall, Maine’s lobster industry backed out of an agreement to reduce the number of lines in the water by 50 per cent, on the grounds they were being asked to bear an undue share of the burden to protect whales.

“We’re heading into an election year. And Senator Warren is a presidential candidate for the Democrats. How much of this is just strictly politics and grandstanding as well. I wonder,” Burke said.

Brillant said the issue is quickly moving from a technical evaluation to a political calculation.

“This brings lots of other higher-scale issues in — for example, Canada-U.S. competition. Fishermen from America versus Canadian fishermen competing for the same sort of markets whether it’s here in Canada or in the U.S.,” he said.


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Black women in N.S. less likely to get tested for breast and cervical cancers, study finds Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:00:00 +0000

Black women in Nova Scotia are less likely than white women to get mammograms and PAP tests that screen for breast and cervical cancer, a new review out of the University of Toronto has found.

The study, which was published this month in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, looked at all the research authors could find in the last 15 years on black Canadian women and breast and cervical cancer. 

The paper also concludes that even though black Canadians are the third largest minority group in the country, there is a lack of health data being collected relating to race and ethnicity in Canada.

“We didn’t have a large number of studies, that’s part of the problem,” said lead author Dr. Onye Nnorom.

The few studies researchers could find suggested black Nova Scotians were less likely to be tested. They also found that Caribbean immigrants in Ontario were slightly more likely to be tested than white Canadians, while immigrants from sub-Saharan African were less likely.

While the researchers found studies on mammography in black communities, they did not find any information on the death rates or how common the risk level is for black women in Canada.

Health data in the United States and the U.K. shows that black women are diagnosed later, are dying at a younger age and are at higher risk than white women when it comes to incidence of breast and cervical cancer.

“But one of the things that came out a little bit in some of the studies were experiences of racism, particularly coming out of Nova Scotia with regards to in the health-care system being discriminated against,” Nnorom said.

“And I think we need more research that looks at the experiences of people of colour when they’re accessing health care because it looks like that is also a barrier when it comes to health outcomes.”

Sharon Davis-Murdoch is co-president of the Health Association of African Canadians in Dartmouth, N.S. (Submitted by Sharon Davis-Murdoch)

The Health Association of African Canadians in Dartmouth, N.S., has been advocating for the collection of disaggregated Nova Scotia health data for the last 20 years.

“We’ve requested it because we need to inform the health system, including providers of care and African-Nova Scotians themselves, about African-Nova Scotian health status,” said the association’s co–president, Sharon Davis-Murdoch.

“This data will support evidence-based health research on our health issues and … prioritize decision-making for the provision of health services.”

Right now in Nova Scotia, there is no information available on how many people of African ancestry live with high blood pressure, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, cancer and other diseases.

In February, the association received a letter from the ministers of health and African Nova Scotian Affairs stating that they want to move forward with the collection of this data.

Keisha Jefferies is a registered nurse and a PhD candidate in nursing at Dalhousie University in Halifax. (Daniel Abriel)

Keisha Jefferies, a registered nurse and PhD candidate in nursing at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said having this data is important for a number of reasons.

“We are beginning to see pieces of evidence that are revealing the fact that African-Nova Scotians are predisposed and more likely to experience certain chronic illnesses and conditions,” she said.

“We do have evidence that does point to African-Nova Scotians being more likely and more susceptible to high blood pressure, to diabetes, as well as mental illness.

“So additional data is needed to understand what is going on within the black community and to strengthen any research going forward.”


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How Rehtaeh Parsons’s mom is helping those with loss get through the holidays Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:00:00 +0000

Leah Parsons knows the challenge of trying to be upbeat during the Christmas season while mired in grief. It’s a struggle she’s had since 2013 when her 17-year-old daughter, Rehtaeh Parsons, died after a suicide attempt following months of bullying and harassment.

She and Roy Ellis, a therapist and grief counsellor, are holding two free public sessions in Dartmouth and Halifax to help support those coping with loss at this time of the year.

Parsons said she frequently who hears from people in pain and she hopes they can find the energy to attend the sessions, which are being called the Dark Days of December.

“There is a lot of grief out there and a lot of people … dreading going into this season, so we thought it’d be a good idea to put this together so we can have some dialogue, some connection and for people to know they’re not alone,” she told CBC’s Mainstreet.

“There are some things that they can do to make it a little more pleasurable, just make it more manageable for them.”

Rehtaeh Parsons was 17 years old when she died in 2013 after being taken off life support, three days after attempting to take her own life. (Instagram)

Ellis said the sessions are not just for people who have lost loved ones. For example, Christmas can also be challenging for people who have had unhappy childhoods.

“For a lot of people, just generally, the season does tend to magnify and bring out a sense of sorrow and loneliness because there’s so much cheer evidently,” he said.

Ellis said instead of feeling social and outgoing, some people will pull further back “to protect yourself from this world of joy and jingle and light.”

Parsons said Christmas holidays remind people of “who’s not there.”

She said even people who have gone through an extended grieving process and are feeling healthier may have a setback during the holidays.

Double dose of sadness

For Parsons, December comes with a double dose of sadness as her daughter’s birthday was in that month. 

Much of the pair’s advice centres around doing what feels right, instead of being locked into expected activities.

 “One of the most important things is to give myself permission to be however I need to be each day,” Parsons said.

Bereavement counsellor Roy Ellis hopes people struggling with grief over the holidays will come out to the public meetings for support. (Submitted by Roy Ellis)

She and Ellis met at a Camp Brigadoon Village event and reconnected a few years ago when Ellis called upon Parsons to help out with a group of suicide survivors.

Parsons recalled her journey of coming to terms with losing a child and how she moved forward.

“I learned how to love myself with deep compassion,” she said. “And it was a process. But each time I went a little further, another layer of deep pain and sadness I’d be faced with and then that created room within me.”

Grief can’t be hurried

Parsons said other people might put timelines on where somebody should be in their recovery.

“People are uncomfortable with grief,” Parsons said. “Society is uncomfortable with people even talking about anything painful, they want you to just gloss it over and they want you back to who you used to be. And at some point you have to let them know, ‘I’m not that person. I’m never going to be that person again.'”

Ellis said compassion and tolerance are the best ways to support those in pain, even if the changes we see in others scare us.

The Christmas holidays can be a sad time for people, and for different reasons. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

“We have to actually become comfortable with the uncertainty of people being just completely who they are in the moment,” he said. “I think, you know, Leah is a great example of that and has been an inspiration to me as I’ve watched her move through her healing into life.”

The sessions being offered by Ellis and Parsons will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Alderney Gate Public Library in Dartmouth and on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at St. Andrews United Church in Halifax.

“Anyone who is actually feeling deeply despondent and wondering if there might be another way of approaching the holidays, we would welcome them,” Ellis said.

Christmas tips

Some of the tips Ellis and Parsons offer for getting through the season are:

  • Observe traditions if you can, especially if there are youngsters who need support. But be flexible as well, and creative if needed.
  • Plan ahead and acknowledge pain in some of those traditions.
  • Try not to be numb and in denial. Allow yourself the freedom to feel sad and not put on a fake, happy face for the season.


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Man dead after single-vehicle crash on Highway 12 in Crooked Lake Thu, 21 Nov 2019 00:09:17 +0000

Nova Scotia·New

A man is dead after a truck crashed into a ditch in Kings County, N.S., on Wednesday evening. A section of Highway 12 between Butler Road and New Ross is expected to remain closed for up to four hours.

Police say the road where the accident occurred was covered with snow at the time of the incident

A man is dead after a truck crashed into a ditch in Kings County, N.S., on Wednesday evening.

Emergency crews were called to the scene on Highway 12 in Crooked Lake at 6:44 p.m.

RCMP said there were other people in the truck at the time of the crash, but didn’t say how many or who was driving. The people in the vehicle who survived are being treated by paramedics. It’s unclear how severe their injuries are.

Police said the road was covered with snow at the time of the crash.

A collision reconstructionist was called to the scene.

Highway 12 between Butler Road in Kings County and New Ross in Lunenburg County is expected to be closed for about four hours.


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MLA questions why New Waterford hospital slated for closure getting renos Wed, 20 Nov 2019 21:33:00 +0000

The Nova Scotia NDP health critic is asking why the province is spending $3.5 million on renovations at a hospital in New Waterford that it plans to close soon.

The hospital, which was built in 1963, and its long-term care facility will be closed once a new community health centre and long-term care facility open in the community.

In the meantime, the Nova Scotia Health Authority has closed the hospital’s emergency department until spring, while work is underway to add fire sprinklers and update the electrical system.

Other parts of the hospital remain open.

Cape Breton Centre MLA Tammy Martin, who represents the area and is the NDP’s health critic, said constituents are wondering why new sprinklers are being put into the old hospital.

Cape Breton Centre MLA Tammy Martin says people in New Waterford want to know why the Nova Scotia government is investing money in their old hospital when it’s already slated to close soon. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

“Is this going to be given or sold to a private entity for some other use?” she said. “Those are the questions people are asking and we can’t — I can’t — get answers to.

“I have asked the question because people have asked me: are we looking at a private long-term-care facility in the old New Waterford hospital site?”

Martin said she has asked if the old hospital will be torn down, given away or sold, but has not received an answer.

“If they knew that this hospital was closing or slated for closure, why are we just investing in sprinklers now?” she said.

The government has said work on the new construction is expected to start sometime later next year.

Steve Button, the health authority’s acting senior director of facility management, said the renovation work at the old hospital is required by the fire marshal.

“To maintain operations, maintain patients coming and going, our safety for our employees, we needed to do that work,” he said.

The health authority says it’s up to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to decide the old building’s future use. The department says no decision has been made yet. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Button said the building’s future use will be decided by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

In an email, the department said no decision has been made yet.

The government is doing maintenance that has to be done until a decision is made on the old hospital’s future use, said Button.

For example, if the roof leaked, the province would patch it, but not replace the roof until the long-term plans were clear, he said.

Renovations take time

Meanwhile, Martin said constituents are still upset that the emergency room was closed at the beginning of October and won’t reopen for months.

The renovations were identified as necessary three years ago and could normally be done in a year or so, Button said, but the work is taking longer than that because patients and staff have remained in the building.

“We would have liked to have went in there in one shot and done it all,” he said.

“However, when we’re doing these sorts of upgrades in a functional hospital, we need to make sure that we minimize patient impact.”


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Jordan to oversee fisheries, coast guard in new federal cabinet Wed, 20 Nov 2019 21:00:29 +0000

Nova Scotia’s Bernadette Jordan has retained a place in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.

But Jordan, the lone Nova Scotia-based MP in the group, has been assigned new duties. The representative for South Shore-St. Margaret’s will head the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as well as oversee the work of the Canadian Coast Guard.

This is Jordan’s second cabinet appointment. The prime minister brought the former development officer for the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore into cabinet in January as minister of rural economic development.

The fisheries portfolio comes with a number of challenges.

Jordan will be tasked to explain the government’s plan to expand the number of marine protected areas along Canada’s East Coast. She will have to try to ease ongoing tensions surrounding the native lobster fishery and deal with North Atlantic right whale deaths as a result of marine traffic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, South Shore-St. Margaret’s MP Bernadette Jordan and Governor General Julie Payette are shown during the swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall. (CBC)

Although Jordan is the only Nova Scotia-based MP in cabinet, Nova Scotia-born Anita Anand, a new entry to cabinet, has been named minister of public services and procurement.

Anand, born and raised in the Annapolis Valley, lives in Oakville, Ont., with her husband and four children.


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Provincial government without answers as concerns about N.S. poverty increase Wed, 20 Nov 2019 19:31:59 +0000

Almost 10 months after expressing surprise at the results of a Statistics Canada report that showed a jump in Nova Scotia’s child poverty rate, the provincial government still cannot explain the cause of that increase.

The report, released in February, showed the poverty rate for people younger than 18 in 2017 was 17 per cent, up from 14 per cent the year before. Nova Scotia was one of only two provinces to see an increase in the rate, although Quebec’s increase was by less than a percentage point and its actual rate is less than half of Nova Scotia’s.

At the time, the then-deputy minister of Community Services said the government would be reaching out to Statistics Canada to try to determine what was happening with the rates, especially considering the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to Nova Scotia families via the federal child-tax benefit.

But it remains unclear what, if anything, the department has been able to determine.

Despite multiple requests for an interview, officials with the Community Services Department would not make someone available to detail the steps they’ve taken to try to understand the numbers, answer whether they’ve had any conversations with Statistics Canada about the report or discuss what’s being done to address what appears to be a mounting problem.

Rates getting worse in some areas

Trish McCourt, executive director of the Tri-County Women’s Centre, said service organizations in the Digby-Yarmouth-Shelburne area are not seeing improvements when it comes to poverty rates, particularly in the towns.

“[Rates] I would say either have stayed the same or maybe gotten a little worse in some areas,” she said in a phone interview.

McCourt said people asking for help need assistance with the usual items, such as rent, food and utility bills, but residents of rural communities can face additional barriers when it comes to transportation costs.

“Living in our area it’s pretty difficult to get to all the services you need without some form of transportation aside from being on foot or even the limited transit system that we have.” 

Dartmouth North MLA Susan LeBlanc, the NDP’s community services critic, said she’s concerned government officials are “burying their heads in the sand.”

Darmouth North MLA Susan LeBlanc is the NDP critic for Community Services. (CBC)

LeBlanc said her office sees people on a daily basis who are facing growing problems when it comes to poverty.

“People are suffering,” she said in an interview. “They are not able to make ends meet. These children are not going to school with food in their bellies or coming home to food.”

LeBlanc said school breakfast programs in her district are busy, the local library has started providing hot lunches and the local food centre sees strong uptake for its family supper nights.

Further testing people’s limits is the pervasive challenge of skyrocketing rents in the Halifax and Dartmouth area, said LeBlanc. People are facing a financial breaking point as landlords either raise rents or renovate buildings so they can eventually increase rents.

“We’re seeing that more and more often and I don’t know what to tell people. It’s a real crisis.”

Minimum wage not enough

McCourt said service and community organizations are struggling to keep up with the demand for help and she worries some groups might be reaching a breaking point of their own.

The local fuel bank is facing a shortage of money and manpower that could jeopardize its future, she said.

LeBlanc criticized the government for not acting fast enough or decisively enough to address the problem.

There needs to be a “real and meaningful” increase to income assistance rates, the government must consider rent control and it’s time to move toward a $15 per hour minimum wage, said LeBlanc. Nova Scotia’s minimum wage is $11.55. It will go up by 55 cents on April 1 of each of the next two years.

“Folks who are working at minimum wage jobs right now, even when there’s two parents working, they still can’t make ends meet.”


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Passengers win court challenge in lawsuit over 2015 Air Canada crash Wed, 20 Nov 2019 19:30:14 +0000

A group of Air Canada passengers who were on a flight that crashed in Nova Scotia four years ago have won a victory arising out of their class-action lawsuit.

About two dozen people were injured when a twin-engine Airbus 320, carrying 133 passengers and five crew members, slammed into the ground 200 metres short of a runway at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

The crash occurred just after midnight on March 29, 2015. There was heavy snowfall and gusty winds at the time.

An investigation by the federal Transportation Safety Board noted that the jet hit the ground, bounced and skidded for another 570 metres, shedding one of its engines and its landing gear.

In its 2017 report on the crash, the board said the plane was “destroyed.” Twenty-five people were treated in hospital for a variety of non-life-threatening injuries.

After the lawsuit was filed, the TSB rejected a request from the lawyers for the passengers for the release of audio data from the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder, citing privilege and privacy issues.

Air Canada and lawyers for the pilots aboard the flight on the night of the crash also opposed the request.

The plaintiffs then took their battle to obtain the recorder data to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

The plane’s nose broke off, as did one of the engines. (Reuters)

Justice Patrick Duncan, who heard the case, listened to the on-board recording and reviewed the transcript.

In his decision to award access to the data, he said it was clear that the cockpit audio recording contains information important to the case.

“I have concluded that, in the circumstances of this case, the public interest in the administration of justice outweighs the importance attached to the statutory privilege protecting the cockpit voice recorder.

“The contents of the CVR are relevant and reliable. The conversation recorded does not contain private or scandalous material.”

TSB investigators have said the flight crew set the plane’s autopilot to descend. But because the procedure did not require the crew to monitor the plane’s altitude and distance from the runway, it didn’t notice changes in the wind that caused the jet to move farther back from the expected flight path. 

Following the crash, Air Canada made improvements to its pilot training and Halifax Stanfield upgraded approach lighting for the runway where the crash occurred.


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Former N.S. high school teacher pleads guilty to assaulting student Wed, 20 Nov 2019 16:57:51 +0000

A former Nova Scotia high school teacher has pleaded guilty to assaulting a student in a Halifax-area classroom in October 2018.

Derek William Stephenson, 43, entered the guilty plea Wednesday morning in Dartmouth provincial court at what was supposed to be the start of a three-day trial on charges of assault, mischief and breach of probation.

The other two charges will be dealt with when Stephenson is sentenced Dec. 2.

“There is an understanding between the Crown and the defence that the two other charges, one of mischief and one of breach of probation, will be withdrawn at the time, or be dismissed at the time my client is sentenced,” defence lawyer Joel Pink said outside court Wednesday.

The incident between Stephenson and a 15-year-old boy came to light with a four-second cellphone video that was widely distributed on social media.

Video taken by student

The video was taken by a student who witnessed the confrontation.

It shows Stephenson kneeling and putting the student in a chokehold. The student was not injured in the encounter.

Pink said the video played no part in his decision to recommend a guilty plea.

“I was satisfied, after a thorough review of the facts, that my client would, in fact, be found guilty of the assault charge, based on what he has told me and based on what the police reports said,” Pink said.

Background checks for teachers

As a result of this case and others where teachers were accused of inappropriate or illegal conduct with students, the provincial government introduced a policy requiring criminal background checks for teachers.

Stephenson has two prior convictions for violent incidents involving his ex-wife and his girlfriend. He received conditional discharges in both cases.

Pink said there will be a joint sentencing recommendation when the case returns to court next month. He said he does not believe Stephenson will be going to jail.


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