In the harbour


1. Energy East pipeline

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.52.59 AM

A new report issued by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick outlines risks from the proposed Energy East pipeline, whose terminus would be in Saint John. Among other risks, the report details the threat to the Bay of Fundy right whale population:

[E]xisting industrial activities in the Bay of Fundy have been shown to negatively impact marine animals, especially large whales, and traditional fishery activities. In addition to the stress and disruption caused by noise, whales are also at risk of being hit by ships, referred to as ship strikes.

Vessels moving through the water make noise. The low frequency noise created by large vessels is within the range that large whales, including the North Atlantic right whale, use to communicate. Right whales form social groups while in the Bay of Fundy, an important part of their life cycle, relying on their ability to communicate to form these groups. Through studies conducted in the Bay of Fundy we know that noise levels associated with large vessel traffic (tankers) causes stress to right whales in the Bay of Fundy and that right whales are calling louder than they did in the past in order to communicate above the existing noise levels.


Further to evidence that whales are stressed, we also know that right whales effectively have to shout to hear each other over the traffic noise. Parks et al. showed that right whales increase the amplitude of their calls to deal with the increased background noise caused by tanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy. Indeed right whales are subjected to more background noise in the Bay of Fundy than they are in their other habitat areas such as Cape Cod and off the coast of Georgia.


Increased tanker traffic increases the risk of collisions with right whales and other large mammals that depend on large areas to swim and find food. In the past ship strikes were one of the primary risks to right whales in the Bay of Fundy. It should be noted that in 2003 the shipping lane in the Bay of Fundy was moved to mitigate against ship strikes on the endangered North Atlantic right whales.

While no ship strikes have been reported since 2003, right whales, and other whale species, still need to pass through the shipping lane. Whales may begin to congregate closer to the shipping lane if their food source moves. Increased traffic from the Energy East Pipeline, along with potential increases from LNG, potash, barge, and container traffic would lead to a much busier shipping lane.

As traffic increases in the shipping lane the whales will face much greater risk when passing in front of and between tankers.

Right on cue, the Chronicle Herald discounted the report:

FREDERICTON — The company planning to build the Energy East pipeline says concerns raised in a new report about the potential impact of the project on whales and some fisheries in the Bay of Fundy are unfounded.

2. Laser attack


“Transport Canada is investigating a ‘laser attack’ after a laser was pointed at a recent Air Canada flight from Toronto to Halifax,” reports the CBC. The laser was coming from “the Stewiacke area,” said a pilot.

It’s a miracle those things stay up in the air at all; we certainly don’t need people attacking them with lasers.

3. Bicyclist struck

A Halifax police release from yesterday morning:

On August 18 at approximately 8:20 p.m., Police responded to a car versus cyclist motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Bilby Street and Isleville Street in Halifax. The car involved was a Halifax Transit vehicle. A 33-year-old female cyclist was transported by EHS to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The driver was issued a Summary Offence Ticket for failing to yield at a through highway.

4. Amalgamation

The town of Parrsboro is being rushed into amalgamating with Cumberland County, reports Bruce Wark.

Wark spoke with Jack Novack, a professor in the local government program at Dalhousie University:

[Novak] suggested there’s no reason to rush into an application now because nothing has changed in the last six months or even six years.

“The tendency to create the crises under which you can justify quick and sometimes hasty action is really not warranted,” he added.

5. Wild Kingdom

Colleen Neatt got a little surprise Tuesday night, reports the Chronicle Herald:

Neatt, a district circulation manager with The Chronicle Herald, was about to get into her Ford Escape when she felt something knock against her sandalled foot.

When she bent down and peered underneath her vehicle, she expected to see another cat or some other little animal. Instead, she saw a 1.5-metre-long boa constrictor.

“There was this big, brown, multi-coloured boa,” she said.

The snake belonged to some guy who was visiting one of Neatt’s neighbours:

Neatt described the boa as being as wide as her arm. 

“I’m an average-sized woman, not some skinny minnie. It was a good, solid, thick (thing). Oh, it was disgusting.”


1. Motherhood, propaganda, and war

Mother Canada™
Mother Canada™

“It’s no coincidence the monolithic ‘Mother Canada’ (™) statue proposed for the controversial war memorial on Cape Breton is the figure of a woman,” writes historian Suzanne Evans. “Although women make only rare appearances in public memorials to the Great War, the “Mother Canada” (™) statue evokes a long and potent tradition of both state and civilians mobilizing motherhood as the symbol of sacrifice in wartime.” Evans continues:

A woman whose body once gave life to the dead child she now mourns, enjoining – sometimes demanding – that the population honour her loss: this is the stuff of a propagandist’s wildest dreams. No surprise, then, that during the Great War “mother stories” were among the techniques used to spur military enlistment and civilian self-sacrifice. When Prime Minister Borden pledged 500,000 recruits from Canada in his New Year’s message of 1916, fictitious mothers, some noble and some wicked, were pressed into service to help fill the ranks and counteract the lengthening casualty lists.

Evans gives two examples. The first is an article from the July 27, 1916 Manitoulin Expositor headlined “The Tragic Story of a Woman who would not let her menfolk fight.”

In this story, “Mrs. ______” is introduced as having a husband and two sons, age 19 and 21. Being “red-blooded Canadian boys” the menfolk know “the necessity of Canada sending 500,000 men mean[s] they should do their duty and join the colours.” But their mother, instead of using her power of moral suasion to encourage her sons to join the fight, strenuously objects and through “selfish” and “unpatriotic” argument prevents them from enlisting. Terribly ashamed, the boys follow tragic paths. The older boy leaves home and becomes an alcoholic in Toronto; in a drunken stupor he steps onto the tracks and into the path of an oncoming train while travelling home on Christmas Eve. “What was left of him,” the author intones, “was taken to the morgue in a box and the mother never saw him again.” The mother’s second son then becomes mysteriously ill and dies. The father, a 50-year-old man now filled with remorse, and presumably atoning for his wife’s failures, joins up and goes to France. The mother is left “a lonely, broken-hearted woman… [who] did not love her sons well enough to want them to do their duty.”

The second example is a piece written by the Scottish preacher Reverend A.J. Forson and published in the October 19, 1916 edition of the Brantford Expositor under the headline “Heroes and Shirkers – A Mother’s Sublime Sacrifice.” Forson tells the story of the story of a mother who had already lost four sons in the war. Her fifth and youngest son, the 18-year-old Robin, decides to enlist.

Then, acknowledging maternal authority, the sergeant asks the obvious question: “What does your mother say about your joining up?” According to the young man, his mother said to him, “Robin, there are four blanks in the army through your four brothers being killed, and I was just thinking it was time you were filling in one of these blanks.”

Lest readers think this mother cold-hearted, Reverend Forson adds, “Rest assured she felt the pain of her loss just as keenly as any other mother who has lost her son.” He emphasizes the mother’s honourable sentiments, comparing her sacrifice to that of the biblical Jacob in the story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colours, writing that “… she was willing to see her Benjamin go forth from the home, possibly to share the same fate as his brothers.” Drawing upon his and his audience’s shared Judeo-Christian background, Forson called this willingness to lose a most beloved child “something too sacred even for praise. This is in the nature of a Divine sacrifice.” Like Jacob and his son Benjamin, or Mary and her son Jesus, the nameless mother was “willing to give her last boy to the great Cause.” The implication was that others should strive to emulate this heroism.

Evans concludes:

These days, over-the-top rhetoric like this might make our blood run cold, as we wonder what our grandmothers and great-grandmothers thought of such tales. But the sacrificing mother remains a powerful icon in conflicts around the world: for instance, the name of the seventh-century poet and mother of four martyrs, al-Khansa, was recently adopted by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) for its all-women moral police brigade, and by al-Qaeda for its online women’s magazine created to help train women in the art of fighting. “Mother Canada” (™) may be envisioned by her creators solely for commemorative purposes in 2015, benignly reaching out to her soldier-sons buried abroad, but in the past she was actively mobilized to send them to war in the first place. In future, might she once again be called upon to encourage young Canadians to fight?

Evans is author of Mothers of Heroes, Mothers of Martyrs: World War One and the Politics of Grief.


The al-Khansa Brigade (above) takes its name from the seventh-century poet al-Khansa:

Al-Khansā, ( Arabic: “The Snub-Nosed”) byname of Tumāḍir bint ʿAmr ibn al-Ḥārith ibn al-Sharīd (died after 630), one of the greatest Arab poets, famous for her elegies.

The deaths of two of her kinsmen — her brother Muʿāwiyah and her half-brother Ṣakhr, both of whom had been tribal heads and had been killed in tribal raids sometime before the advent of Islam — threw al-Khansāʾinto deep mourning. Her elegies on these deaths and that of her father made her the most celebrated poet of her time. When her tribe as a group accepted Islam, she went with them to Medina to meet the Prophet Muhammad, but she persisted in wearing the pre-Islamic mourning dress as an act of devotion to her brothers. When her four sons were slain in the Battle of Qādisīyah (637), the caliph Umar is said to have written her a letter congratulating her on their heroism and assigned her a pension.

The collected poetry of al-Khansāʾ, the Dīwān (published in an English translation by Arthur Wormhoudt in 1973), reflects the pagan fatalism of the tribes of pre-Islamic Arabia. The poems are generally short and imbued with a strong and traditional sense of despair at the irretrievable loss of life. The elegies of al-Khansāʾ were highly influential, especially among later elegists.


2. Medical marijuana

“There is a bullshit cultural milieu surrounding the use of cannabis,” writes Lachlan MacDonald:

There is a developing body of knowledge on the benefits and consequences of cannabis use based on (gasp!) rigorous scientific evidence. An editorial attached to a systematic review and meta-analysis published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in June lays it out nicely. Cannabis use can be beneficial in specific situations (treating nausea and vomiting secondary to chemotherapy; specific pain syndromes and spasticity from multiple sclerosis), but other than that, the evidence for medical use is scant. These areas deserve further study to determine proper doses of the specific compounds involved, so they can be properly regulated and effectively applied. Until there is rigorous scientific evidence indicating otherwise, all other medicinal uses of cannabis appear to be nonsense.

MacDonald is taking specific aim at The Coast article profiling the PEACE EAST medical marijuana festival held in Middle Musquodoboit last weekend. I’ll leave it for others to debate the pros and cons of medical marijuana, but when I heard about the festival, my first thought was, Why would I want to hang out with a bunch of sick people?

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

I can see the point of Royal Canadian Legion members being let down by the closures of offices in the area.

But is it necessary to go political?

The Legion was first thought of as a gathering spot for veterans and had no political affiliation.  

They did fantastic things for the country. The vets and their brothers at arms have sacrificed life and limb for our great country and the history books will remember. 

Ask a European or South Korean. Peacekeepers and our soldiers have made us free and Canadians. 

Let’s not mar it with politics. 

Let us remember their sacrifices each Nov. 11, and be thankful that we live in a democracy. 

I apoligize if I upset a veteran. God love you all.

Joe Osborne, Glace Bay



Active Transportation Advisory Committee (4pm City Hall)—nothing much is on the agenda.

ballistic helmet

The Halifax Regional Police Department is looking to buy “approximately” 29 ballistic helmets capable of protecting against 9mm rounds. There’s no word if they’ll protect against lasers.

I can’t help but wonder when they’ll be buying some tanks.


No public meetings.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:15am Thursday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:15am Thursday. Map:

Octavia, container ship, New York to Pier 42 at 11am, then sails to sea
ZIM Tarragona, container ship, Valencia, Spain to TBD
Elka Sirius, oil tanker, New Orleans to TBD at 3pm

Atlantic Huron sails to sea
Oakland Express sails to sea


We’re recording the next edition of Examineradio today. It will be published either tomorrow or Saturday.

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. I believe the medical use of cannabis is to some extent self-serving, a means to use cannabis. But so what? The same thing happened with alcohol in the old days. You could have it prescribed by a doctor. Let’s just legalize it now and get used to it and then maybe we can get some science on it where there isn’t so much of a political tug-of-war between the lines. Also, eff mandatory Puritanism.

  2. CCNB report is at the Grade 12 level ( I’m being generous).
    Shut the port of Saint John they say.
    Too many exports they say.
    Over 100 extra tankers a year they say.
    Their report is not peer reviewed.
    An estimate of the increase in tanker traffic is at the high end. It is reasonable to expect a much lower number based on the probability of a VLCC arriving at Saint John with a load of crude and then loading Canadian crude for export to Europe or the Far East.

  3. Let’s «be thankful we live in a democracy» ????? WELL, SORT OF! With Führer Harper’s slash and burn tactics affecting not only veterans and Legion members but ALL the «peasantry» in Canada, POLITICS is on the front burner as we try to wake up somnolent voters like the one just quoted that «democracy» in Canada is already VERY SICK and if we don’t soon turf Harper and his WorldCorp 1% puppeteers we’ll find ourselves slaves in a fascist dictatorship. Our duly elected governments — local, provincial, and even federal, are now subject the legalities of the World Corp Cabal. Elected people protecting the interests of their electors scotched the piratical plan of a US megacorporation to steal resources and trash the environment on Digby Neck. The result: a 300-MILLION dollar «lawsuit» against our governments! And this only a tiny grain of sand on the beach of world domination by the 1% whose derriéres Harper has been kissing since he first usurped control of Parliament DESPITE the fact that well over 50% of Canadian voters chose someone else! Lets «be thankful» if we can rid ourselves of this corrupt band of traitors!

  4. HRM Police Services have a tender out for six mass casualty kits (Q15M148) as well. Routine I am sure but coupled with the helmets and launchers they look like southern “Preppers”