1. The Pictou mill

Northern Pulp Mill (book cover photo from Joan Baxter’s Book, The Mill). Photo courtesy of Dr. Gerry Farrell Credit: Dr. Gerry Farrell

“As if the stinking pulp mill in Pictou County hadn’t done enough damage over the 53 years it was clearcutting and pulping Nova Scotia’s forests, pumping out noxious emissions that poisoned the air over large parts of this province and Prince Edward Island, dumping its stinking effluent (nearly a hundred million litres of the stuff every day) into Boat Harbour where it caused untold suffering for the people of Pictou Landing First Nation, all the while sucking up provincial and federal tax dollars and being gifted vast amounts of cheap wood on Crown land and cheap water,” writes Joan Baxter. “Now the mill owners are suing the province for ‘damages’ of hundreds of millions of dollars.”:

Provincial governments over the years have been more than generous to the moneyed mill owners — four American and now a global conglomerate controlled from Indonesia.

Since Paper Excellence has decided the time is right for it to make its case for why it believes itself a victim deserving still more public money, maybe it’s time Nova Scotians do the same, and take stock of the high costs they have paid to keep the mill running.

The following list of giveaways is just a start, and by no means exhaustive. Actual figures are probably much higher. But this list still suggests that the real victims are not and have never been those who own the mill, but the people of Nova Scotia whose governments have sold them down the river in their desperation to cater to the demands of the mill owners over five decades.

And boy howdy, is that accounting exhausting.

Click here to read “The Pictou mill: fleecing Nova Scotia for 53 years — and counting.”


Weekly (Saturday-Friday) new case counts in Nova Scotia for the duration of the pandemic.

Omicron is upon us, and spreading like wildfire in Nova Scotia (and elsewhere).

I provided the usual weekly COVID update on Friday, and since then there were 426 new cases of Saturday and 476 on Sunday, albeit only one new hospitalization.

As of this writing, there is no COVID briefing scheduled, but I expect at least one sometime this week.

I’ll have more after today’s figures are released.

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3. Alton Gas

buildings and tanks next to a river
An aerial view of the Alton Gas project. Photo: AltaGas

“The final chapter is about to be written in the 10-year saga of the Alton natural gas storage project,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

A Decommissioning and Reclamation Plan has been filed with the province and interested citizens have until January 25 to comment. The 67-page document Plan can be found here.

Essentially, the approach being taken by the project owner, AltaGas of Calgary, is to leave the buried PVC pipelines in the ground and dismantle the buildings above ground at two separate sites.

Henderson gets into all the details; click here to read “AltaGas files plan to decommission the Alton Gas site.”

I’m struck by this part:

The Sipekne’katik First Nation and several environmental groups opposed to the project were concerned that the briny discharge could have a “deleterious” impact on traditional fishing grounds.

Appeals through the courts of the provincial Environment Department’s approval of the project were ultimately unsuccessful but resulted in three to four years of delay, by which time the economics of the project had changed and AltaGas, the company that spent $75 million trying to develop the project, lost interest.

As I’ve commented before, the world is quickly moving past natural gas. Had the Indigenous people and environmentalists not acted to oppose the Alton Gas project, there would now be an enormous piece of carbon-intensive infrastructure at the Shubenacadie River, responsible for decades’ worth of continued greenhouse gas burning.

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4. Kayla Borden

Kayla Borden sits at the Police Review Board hearing into her complaint against members of the Halifax Regional Police. Photo: Matthew Byard.
Kayla Borden sits at the Police Review Board hearing into her complaint against members of the Halifax Regional Police. Photo: Matthew Byard. Credit: Matthew Byard

“On Thursday morning, just before Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella was expected to testify at the appeal hearing into a complaint against constables Scott Martin and Jason Meisner, word got out the hearing would be delayed until the new year,” reports Matthew Byard, who goes on to give a recap of testimony heard last week.

Click here to read “After three days of testimony, Kayla Borden’s appeal hearing adjourned until January.”

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5. Shelter closes as winter descends

Two rallygoers stand on a railing outside the doors of the Friendship Centre shelter on North Park Street in Halifax. They hold a sign saying "Save our Shelter.
Two rally-goers hold a sign outside the shelter on North Park Street in Halifax Friday. Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

“Despite the promise of long-awaited modular units coming in the new year, one Halifax shelter’s impending closure could leave Halifax’s homeless population with few options this winter, advocates say,” report Leslie Amiminson and Ethan Lycan-Lang:

This week, the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre (MNFC) announced it would be closing the emergency shelter it’s been operating at 2029 North Park Street in Halifax.

The shelter has been operating on provincial funding since January. In a memo circulated to staff on Monday, MNFC executive director Pamela Glode Desrochers said the organization would be closing the emergency shelter at the end of the month. The memo also stated staff contracts, which expire on December 31, would not be renewed.

Friday afternoon, shelter staff held a rally outside the building, asking the MNFC board to reconsider the closure, which will leave 40 people without beds and 20 without jobs. More than 50 people showed up to support and hear from staff, residents, and advocates about their concerns.

Staff asked why the shelter is closing in the middle of winter, while HRM grapples with a housing crisis. They suspect the closure has something to do with staff attempting to unionize.

Click here to read “Staff and advocates rally to save emergency shelter set to close this month.”

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6. Sidewalks

A newly built sidewalk at Peggy's Cove
Peggy’s Cove sidewalk. Photo: Philip Moscovitch

“Councillors will consider spending an extra $7.5 million on new sidewalks next year,” reports Zane Woodford:

Coun. Kathryn Morse signaled on Tuesday that she’d ask for a briefing note on increased spending for new sidewalks, those on streets that don’t have them and create gaps in the pedestrian network. Morse made the request on Friday, with a dollar figure of $7.5 million.

“At the rate we’re going we can’t even get one sidewalk built in each district,” Morse said. “This would increase that and try to address the backlog of 600 sidewalk requests.”

New sidewalks fall under active transportation in the draft capital plan, with about $6 million in total spending proposed for 2022-2023. There’s no breakdown, however, showing just the sidewalk figures. Morse pegged that number at $2.5 million, and said there were only 10 planned. She hoped the $7.5 million would quadruple that figure.

Brad Anguish, HRM’s director of transportation and public works, said the money wouldn’t go that far.

“One kilometre of sidewalk in Cherry Brook, which is needed, is about $4 million,” Anguish said.

The cost to clear the full backlog of new sidewalks, Anguish said, is about $500 million.

Click here to read “Halifax councillors to consider an extra $7.5 million for new sidewalks.”

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7. Donuts, recipes, and connections across generations

A sepia photo of a young boy, laid on top of a collage of photos of handwritten recipes
A young André d’Entremont who took credit for an infamous doughnut heist.

“I never imagined doughnuts would make me cry, but here we are,” writes Yvette d’Entremont. “I’m not a huge doughnut lover, but a few weeks ago I began a quest for a doughnut recipe. Not just any recipe — THE recipe, the one behind a family Christmas story.”

d’Entremont goes on to relate her family’s Christmas traditions and her search for a lost recipe, which spans generations past and future. It’s a nice read to get us into the holiday spirit.

Click here to read “Recipe for sweet family memories: One doughnut thief, three aunts, and decades of stories.”

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8. The future of journalism


“Who will save journalism?” asks Stephen Kimber. “It won’t be the government. And it won’t be the online platforms that undermined it in the first place.”

Kimber points us to Jessica Johnson’s essay in The Walrus, “Journalism’s Wicked Problem: Save What’s Lost or Invest in What’s New?” and then goes on to explore the economics of journalism past, present, and perhaps future.

Click here to read “Journalism’s future is in our hands.”

People often ask me to declare, seer-like, what the future of journalism is. They sometimes ask me detailed philosophical questions about how to expand “impact” and how to democratize access and such.

To all of that I answer, “How the fuck should I know?”

I’m too busy producing and building the Halifax Examiner to give much thought to the philosophy of media or the economic state of the industry. When pressed, I can make up stuff and wave my hands around and try to look smart, but really I have no more insight into any of this than anyone else does.

The Examiner has succeeded lo these seven years, but it could all come collapsing down if readers get upset with us or some billionaire decides to take us out, Peter Thiel-like. I mean, I work to avoid both scenarios, but who knows? The history of alt media in the Maritimes is an archeology of institutional ruin.

My hope is over the next year to provide a stronger organizational backbone to the Examiner such that if I get hit by a clown car and am hilariously laid up in hospital, the Examiner can carry on without me. It all requires money, of course, which in turn requires subscriptions.

The year-in-review stuff that other media orgs tend to do this time of year annoys me, so we don’t do it here at the Examiner — better to let the staff take it easy for a couple of weeks than to task them doing pointless work. I did, however, write a short Twitter thread yesterday that takes a look back the last two years of the Examiner. Maybe it’s worth a read.

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No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

05:00: NYK Romulus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Antwerp, Belgium
07:00: SCF Angara, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from IJmuiden, Netherlands
15:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
16:30: NYK Romulus sails for sea
16:45: BBC Europe, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Montreal

Cape Breton
09:00: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea


These are difficult times. Don’t be hard on yourself.

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

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  1. And why is natural gas infrastructure (especially in HRM) being expanded when many cities are creating regulations to stop installation of natural gas for heating or cooking? Not to be an alarmist but the climate crisis has reached code-red for humanity.