Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Snowing on our parade

CBRM District 12 Councilor Jim MacLeod (Source: CTV)

CBRM District 12 Councilor Jim MacLeod (Source: CTV)

The fall-out over the CBRM’s decision to cancel night parades continues to land — most recently on the editorial pages of the Cape Breton Post where District 12 Councilor Jim MacLeod published a mea culpa on Wednesday for remarks he’d made to CTV news in November.

In the news item, CTV reporter Kyle Moore interviews a very cranky sounding MacLeod who first says:

A parade doesn’t interest me…If I was interested, I would be there.

Then follows up with:

We have to realize if you’re going to criticize, do something about it, rather than just sit and criticize because the parade was Saturday. Get over it. I did.”

The entire thing is made 257% better by MacLeod’s striking resemblance to Santa Claus.

In fact, watching it gave me an idea for a Hallmark Christmas movie in which Santa, his kids long grown, loses interest in Christmas and instead travels the world trying to get Santa Claus parades canceled. Things are looking pretty somber, but then a poignant event of some description happens, he is flooded once again with Christmas spirit and appears, triumphantly, in a nighttime parade in Glace Bay.

MacLeod himself has re-discovered his Christmas spirit, although I think it was the result of the angry backlash he faced for his remarks rather than any touching, cinematic epiphany. I was particularly struck by a letter to the Post by Darrell Lesnick, a former Sydney resident now living in Moncton, who offered numerous ideas for ensuring the safety of a nighttime parade (not to mention improving viewing opportunities) and pointed out that Moncton holds its almost-two-hour-long Christmas parade at night.

To his credit, Mayor Cecil Clarke, who voted against the ban on nighttime parades, made the same argument, citing Halifax’s annual Parade of Lights:

When you have parades such as Halifax and you have 100,000 people coming to them, you have to look that a lot of effort goes into it and it’s a community priority to have that and safety being paramount.

CBRM Council’s decision was apparently based on the recommendation of its insurers and police force, but who wants to live in a community ruled by its insurers and police force? And why are Moncton’s insurers and police okay with that municipality’s nighttime parade? For that matter, what are the insurers and police of Quebec City thinking? They permit not one but TWO night parades during the February Winter Carnival. They must be drunk on Caribou.

Quebec Carnival Night Parade 2018

Pop quiz: this parade is taking place at what time of day? (Quebec Winter Carnival 2018. Photo by ©fredphotovideo) Answer: ʇɥƃᴉu

Of course, the terrible apparition of the child killed during Yarmouth’s nighttime Christmas parade in 2018 haunts any discussion of parade safety, but the quickest of google searches will tell you that parade accidents are just as likely to happen in daylight (especially, apparently, during St. Patrick’s Day parades) as at night. That’s not a statement backed by any serious research, I admit, but I don’t think the “Parade Safety” recommendations presented council during its October 9th meeting were backed by any serious research either:

In the CBRM alone there has [sic] been two near misses involving children in the last two years. As well as the tragic accident in Yarmouth last year resulting in the fatality of a child. Not to mention the countless accidents across North America in the last several years, many involving children.

Someone must have sweated long minutes over a hot keyboard to produce that backgrounder, my favorite part of which is the reference to Yarmouth’s “non-moving parade.” Otherwise known as NOT A PARADE.

I kind of wish this were a Hallmark Christmas movie because you just know it would end with the restoration of nighttime parades to the CBRM and everyone (even Jim MacLeod) living happily ever after.


Kimber on Regan

I was not living in Canada in 1998, the year the late Gerald Regan was tried in Halifax on eight charges including rape, attempted rape and forcible confinement. So when the former Liberal premier died last week and discussions began over his “legacy” I realized there were serious lacunae in my knowledge of the case against him.

Luckily, while I was whooping it up in Central Europe, author and journalism professor Stephen Kimber was minding the shop — covering both the preliminary hearing and the trial for a book he was writing about what he termed the “avalanche” of “remarkably similar sexual assault allegations” made against Regan by “close to three dozen girls.” That book, which appeared originally as NOT GUILTY: The Trial of Gerald Regan was re-released in 2016 as an e-book entitled Aphrodisiac: Sex, politics, power and Gerald Regan.

As has happened to me so often since returning to Cape Breton (see this week’s articles based on the 2016 Fire Services Organizational Review), I have found myself playing catch-up on an important piece of local history and Kimber has proved an excellent guide.

I started by reading two chapters not included in the original book which Kimber has allowed Tim Bousquet’s Halifax Examiner to publish (and which you too may read if you are the proud possessor of a joint Cape Breton Spectator/Halifax Examiner subscription.) Then I listened to a 2018 interview Kimber gave The Coast for its 25 for 25 Podcast, celebrating the alternative weekly’s 25th anniversary. The Coast did one podcast for each of its 25 years and devoted the 1998 episode largely to the Regan trial.

Both in the podcast and in a 2018 piece for the Examiner, Kimber discusses how Regan’s lawyer, Eddie Greenspan, treated the complainants:

Over the course of six weeks in a Halifax courtroom in the fall of 1998, Greenspan blustered and badgered and browbeat, attacking the women’s memory of long-lost details (like the site of the gravel pit where one said Regan had raped her 42 years before), or turning another woman’s totally unrelated teenager fib (she had told school officials the lie to ensure she’d be in a class with students her own age) into incontrovertible evidence she was a liar about everything who could never be believed about anything, including whether Regan had tried to rape her.

Kimber is really interesting explaining why these tactics worked — or more broadly, why trials are different viewed from the inside than from the outside and why a jury today would not necessarily return a different verdict.

All in all, though, what I’ve learned has confirmed me in my decision not to lower the flag over Spectator HQ to half mast last week.


Have a Lice Day

Male human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis.

Male human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis. (Photo by Gilles San Martin, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

This next thing may no longer be a thing but could easily become one again, so I am going to mention it because I’ve been meaning to since this past summer.

Was anyone else put off by the fact that throughout the 2019 tourist season, visitors to Sydney arriving via Kings Road were greeted, almost at the former city limits (and well before the “Welcome to Sydney” sign at the corner of the Esplanade and Byng Avenue) by a barrage of mobile signs with messages about head lice, bedbugs, mold, vermin generally and rats in particular?

I passed them frequently this summer and each time I thought, “Are we really putting our best foot forward here?”

I get that companies need to advertise and that these are real urban problems but these signs could be construed as us taking pride in our lice and vermin — like they’re must-see attractions.

And even if you put a nicer gloss on it and say it’s us being open and honest with our guests, it’s still problematic: imagine going to a dinner party and the host greets you by saying, “We have bedbugs!”

You might stay to dinner, but would you really enjoy it?

Sydney Call Centre, entrance

Sydney Call Centre, entrance


Quote of the Week

“ACOA’s no interest business loans are a great way for Canadian companies to obtain low cost access to capital,” says Sydney Call Centre owner Anthony Marlowe, the owner of an American company that has also benefited from ACOA’s no-interest business loans.

Go figure.