Moments after Auditor General Jacques Lapointe's decision confirming Richmond MLA Michel Samson's eligibility for an outside member's housing allowance, but denying his current claim on the slenderest technicality, NDP House Leader Frank Corbett rushed out a news release. In it, he falsely stated that Lapointe had found "Samson lives in both Halifax and Arichat and as a result his residency cannot be the basis of providing a housing allowance to Samson." [Contrarian's emphasis] There are many things not to like in Lapointe's decision, among them, the time and ink he wasted dreaming up residency tests not found in any legislation governing MLAs' allowances....

Last spring, a disability rights organization surveyed the constituency offices of Nova Scotia MLAs and found hardly any were fully accessible to citizens who use wheelchairs. In May, the James McGregor Stewart Society cajoled the House of Assembly Management Commission into meeting and considering ways to remove barriers from MLAs' offices. The campaign hinged on passing changes before the election, so newly elected MLAs could be required to find accessible space, while returning MLAs would have a modest grace period to comply. I was skeptical. I expected the inconvenience of modifying or relocating constituency offices might trump the obvious injustice of preventing...

One month after the apparent death of chronic lobster poacher and trap vandal Philip Boudreau, the CBC continues to falsely identify him as a fisherman.     [Click images for full-sized image.] This is perplexing  The CBC's very capable reporters and editors know full well that Boudreau held no commercial or sport fishing license of any kind. They know his status as a non-fisherman is both a key fact, and a probable factor, in the events leading to his disappearance. Never discount the role of haste in deadline journalism. Toronto web editors who are not the primary reporters covering this story may have simply assumed that a...

On Wednesday, I questioned CBC reporter Phonse Jessome's reporting on the Philip Boudreau killing, and the broader media failure to probe allegations the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the RCMP received many complaints about Boudreau's chronic lobster thievery and trap vandalism over the years, but did little or nothing. In an essay on the CBC's website, Jessome elaborates on his approach to the story (though he makes no overt reference to my criticism). Unfortunately, he sheds no light on why the CBC continues to skirt the DFO-RCMP angle....

On Monday, CBC reporter Phonse Jessome recounted sensational excerpts from what purported to be a confession by one of the fishermen accused of killing Philip Boudreau June 1. He supplemented his reporting with editorial comments that portrayed the killing as an unfathomable escalation of a feud over "fishing territory." Based on widely known but lightly reported facts, the escalation is not unfathomable. To portray it as arising out of a "feud" over “territory” is to adopt one side in highly contentious matter. Tuesday, while reporting a brief court appearance by the accused men, Jessome added more editorial commentary, stressing the trauma experienced by the Boudreau's family, portraying defense...

The James McGregor Stewart Society, a small voluntary group with a single summer intern, has managed to pull off in a month what the Disabled Persons Commission of NS (annual budget: $600,000) and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission ($2.1 million) have not achieved in the decades of their existence. It has surveyed the accessibility of MLAs offices throughout the province. The results will not be a source of pride for Nova Scotia or its legislators. The survey rated MLAs' constituency offices based on parking facilities, power door buttons, entrance accessibility, washroom accessibility, and proximity to accessible bus routes. Since accessible bus routes are...

A committee meeting at Province House this week has the potential to correct a logstanding injustice in the way Nova Scotia is governed. At the behest of the James McGregor Stewart Society, a disability rights organization, the House of Assembly Management Commission will consider requiring constituency offices to be fully accessible before MLAs can claim reimbursement of office expenses. You might expect this to go without saying in 2013, but it doesn't. Many MLAs' offices are only partly, if at all, accessible. They may have a level entry or a satisfactory wheelchair ramp, but lack a paved parking lot or an accessible...

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that New York City has become the first major municipality to adopt the new active symbol of accessibility, which Contrarian first wrote about in September, 2011. The result of a collaboration between Sara Hendren, graduate student at the Harvard School of Design, and Brian Glenney, philosophy professor at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, the revised icon recasts the passive, static International Symbol of Accessibility (demeaningly known as the "handicapped sign"), investing it with vigor and a sense of motion. The Chronicle reports: New York, in a move that could spark similar updates worldwide, has now agreed to use...

The Dexter Government's decision to make a retroactive grab for disgraced MLA Trevor Zinck's pension should not pass without comment. It is a cynical exercise in pre-election pandering to public hatred of politicians. The pandering ploy reflects badly on the government as a whole, but especially on the lawyers among its ranks, including Darrell Dexter and Graham Steele, both of whom certainly know better. The courts should be left to deal with Mr. Zinck according to the evidence as it may be adduced at trial, and the law as it existed at the time his of alleged crimes and misdemeanors. His...