I was unaware of the following article being published. It constitutes the first-time that I have received publicity in since my resettling in Atlantic Canada. It is a well-written article, that was published in Frank magazine on October 20, 2014. I have known the reporter, Guy Pothier, for approximately a year. He is an extraordinarily well-read and decent individual.
Guy and I met, as he notes in the article, through our respective associate memberships in the Royal Artillery Park Officers’ Mess. Through various discussions, he published the following article, below. No, perhaps, it is not the New York Times, and it does not necessarily provide my blog readers with great insight on my professional abilities and acumen. Nonetheless, it does provide my readers with insight as to how and why I relocated to Nova Scotia, as well as describes some aspects of my background.
October 20, 2014
by Guy Pothier
The Ivany report has prompted much soul searching about encouraging immigration to Nova Scotia. A too little known program organized by the Atlantic Jewish Council suggests a promising route to follow.
That organization sponsors aspiring immigrants to Nova Scotia, often from Israel or Russia. One person who has taken advantage of the program is Derek Brett, a lawyer originally from Florida who has just been admitted to the Nova Scotia Bar. (We are fellow associate members of the mess at Royal Artillery Park.) Disillusioned with a deteriorating quality of life in Florida, Derek found information online about the AJC immigration nominee program. Subsequently, he, his teacher wife and his young daughter settled here.
As a lawyer whose clientele — among others — included police unions in Florida, Derek represented police who had to defend the use of firearms to mandatory inquiries. Investigating scenes of police shootings gave Derek firsthand knowledge of the carnage arising from firearms in Florida. In that state, more than 1.2 million people (out of a population of nearly 20 million), including some of his relatives, have permits to carry concealed weapons. (Nova Scotia, proportionately, would have something like 50,000 people walking around carrying concealed heat.)
Derek’s wife has seen a school system that has lost much funding and is hostage to standardized testing. According to Derek, Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and just possibly a future Republican presidential nominee, is part owner of an educational testing firm. Always and unapologetically a progressive Democrat, Derek served as Obama’s Central Florida counsel on election law during his two presidential races. He confesses to be disappointed in a President Obama who has largely failed to reverse America’s rightward shift during the past 30 years.
Derek contends that Florida is the most corrupt state in the union. During my time as a grad student in Illinois, I would often encounter friends who claimed that theirs was the most corrupt state. Illinois was and certainly remains in contention for that distinction. (Two Illinois governors during the last 40 years have served time for corruption in office.)
American friends would extol the corruption accomplishments of states like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Louisiana or Texas. Rarely during my years in grad school would anyone claim Florida was corrupt.
Many Canadians may appreciate a Florida that has low consumer prices, salubrious winter temperatures and theme parks. Derek thinks that those features of Florida life might mislead Canadians. In my experience, even snowbirds cannot be totally oblivious to signs of social breakdown around them.
One sibling who spends winters in Florida playing golf has found his neighbours in his golf condo to be perfectly pleasant and convivial, but not especially broad in their sympathies or concerned about people unlike themselves. That would certainly include non-Americans.
Coming to Nova Scotia, Derek joins a Halifax Jewish community that has flourished for over a century. Jews came to Halifax and Atlantic Canada in greater numbers prompted by the anti-Semitic pogroms of the late Russian empire — at a time when Czarist Russia was the epitome of anti-Semitism on the planet.
Derek Brett has come to appreciate a more balanced quality life in Nova Scotia, one that reminds him at times of the Florida of his youth during the 1970s and early 1980s. The practise of law here appears more civil and far less cut-throat.
Derek has one concern very common to newcomer professionals, and that certainly bears repeating.
“Many here refuse to open doors to bring and keep the skills of other white-collar professionals. Indeed, there appears to be a decided lack of competitiveness and calculated risk-taking from many in both the public and private sectors.”
Derek sees more similarities than differences in Jewish communities in Florida and here, though the Halifax community appears to be aging more. He tries to define his Jewish identity while avoiding contentious debates that can arise among some Jews when it comes to matters of belief, observance, Zionism and Israel. “Remember, we are people who value the ability to question everything, and to look deeper at issues — not being satisfied with patent answers.”