I’m Joan Baxter, filling in for Tim today.


1. Freedom of Information in Nova Scotia – the failure and the fix

An image of the dead FOIPOP website page.

As Tim wrote, yesterday Nova Scotia privacy commissioner Catherine Tully and auditor general Michael Pickup released their reports on the FOIPOP website security failure. Both painted damning pictures of how the government handled the fiasco of the FOIPOP website, and how it happened in the first place.

In his coverage of the reports, the CBC’s Jean Laroche provided some choice quotes:

“This was not due to a single decision or oversight failure by government, but rather a series of decisions, governance issues and design shortfalls within a complex IT environment,” Pickup said.

As for Catherine Tully, she said her investigation included:

“… a few jaw-dropping moments.”

“It is astounding,” she said of the breaches. “And it took the combination of quite a few people doing a poor job for this to happen.”

Tully said a “serious failure of due diligence” when launching the website led to 12 “preventable” breaches between Feb. 27 and April 3, 2018.

As for what the government says it will and won’t do:

In a statement, the province said it accepts all the recommendations in both reports and has created an action plan to implement the recommendations.

Later Tuesday, Premier Stephen McNeil defended Internal Services Minister Patricia Arab. Tim Houston, the leader of the province’s Progressive Conservative party, has called for her to resign or be fired.

So that’s it then. Let’s hope the website and system are up and running (securely) again very soon. And while they’re fixing things, it would be great if the Liberal government would commit to the transparency Stephen McNeil once promised, and order a stop to the over-the-top redaction of documents released through FOIPOPs, which looks like this:

Screenshot of a typical page from a recent document released through a FOIPOP to the NS Department of Energy and Mines.

2. Nova Scotia needs a JAIL hotline

A jail cell in the north wing of the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“For one month, prisoners at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC) have had access to a phone hotline a few hours a day to report concerns and receive support from volunteers,” writes Martha Paynter:

We could and should set up a JAIL line here [in Nova Scotia]. We could and should invest in a provincial Correctional Investigator. We should also divest from incarceration, and invest in health.

Click here to read “Nova Scotia needs a JAIL hotline.”

3. Northern Pulp plays politics and three-fifths of the Stellarton town council play along

This once pristine tidal estuary, Boat Harbour, has been used as an industrial waste lagoon for the Abercrombie pulp mill (now Northern Pulp) near Pictou for fifty-one years. Photo courtesy Dave Gunning.

Writing in The News (New Glasgow’s Saltwire paper), Brendan Ahern reports that during its January 14th meeting, the Stellarton town council passed a motion to send a letter to Premier Stephen McNeil showing support for an extension of Northern Pulp’s use of Boat Harbour for its effluent beyond January 2020, which is when the Boat Harbour Act stipulates that it must be closed for remediation.

A letter written on behalf of former and current Northern Pulp employees had been sent to town council. The letter, dated Jan. 10, also contains three pages of signatures in support of an extension.

The article doesn’t say who wrote the letter “on behalf” of Northern Pulp employees past and current, but continues:

The letter asks that Stellarton town council draft a letter to Premier McNeil requesting an extension to the Boat Harbour closure date in order to allow the company time to complete an environmental assessment and construct a new effluent treatment plant.

Stellarton town council has already sent a letter to the Federal minister of environment and climate change in support of a federal assessment for Northern Pulp’s effluent treatment plan.

“I think we should send this letter in, if nothing else to stay neutral,” said deputy mayor Bryan Knight emphasizing concerns that the town of Stellarton could be drifting “too deep” into matter.

How deputy mayor Knight can construe his support for a letter asking McNeil to extend the use of Boat Harbour for the convenience of Northern Pulp as a way to “stay neutral” is perplexing, to say the least. Perhaps he was influenced by the presence of former and current mill employees at the meeting, who, according to Ahern, “…used the open forum to speak for those in support of a Boat Harbour extension.”

Deputy Mayor Knight certainly wasn’t influenced by the presence of anyone from the Pictou Landing First Nation (PLFN) at the meeting. They weren’t invited, even though the PLFN has suffered immeasurably for 51 years because of the toxic mess in Boat Harbour, a body of water that was once so crucial for their livelihoods that they called it “A’se’k” meaning “the other room.”

The Stellarton mayor proved himself to be far more astute and aware of the issue than his deputy. According to Ahern:

Mayor Danny MacGillivray raised concerns over the fact that the letter does not mention any specific dates for how long Boat Harbour would need to remain open should the mill be given an extension.

“I’d also like to hear from Pictou Landing First Nation on what they think of the extension too before we want to have a vote on the letter,” he said. “As a main stakeholder I think we should probably hear from them before making a decision.”

No one from the Mi’kmaq community was present at the meeting, and Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul said that her community had not been consulted.

“I had no knowledge whatsoever that they were doing this,” said Paul in a phone interview. “I thought we were beyond that stage of having these conversations about us without us.”

“When you get this close to the end and to see this type of political interference by Northern Pulp, I can honestly say I don’t like it,” said Paul.

The video recording of the meeting shows that Mayor Danny MacGillivray and councillor Susan Campbell voted against writing a letter of support for extending Northern Pulp’s use of Boat Harbour, while Deputy mayor Bryan Knight and councillors Simon Lawand and Gary Pentz voted to support it. Despite the heavy presence of Northern Pulp proponents in the chamber, Mayor MacGillivray, who was clearly dissatisfied with the discussion and motion, made it clear he wants Chief Andrea Paul to be invited to the next council meeting.

It is telling that Deputy Mayor Knight added the letter to the agenda as the town council meeting began, so there was no prior notice, and yet the room was full of Northern Pulp employees and supporters.

The town council meeting can be watched here.

Screenshot from the video of the Stellarton Town Council meeting of January 14, 2019, during discussions of the Northern Pulp letter in support of an extension of the use of Boat Harbour.

Premier McNeil has already stated that there will be no extension of the deadline to close Boat Harbour without the full support of the Pictou Landing First Nation. Chances of that happening seem to be in the range of nil to zero. The PLFN has a clock on its website counting down the days, minutes, hours and seconds till the closure of Boat Harbour.

4. Boat Harbour clean-up delayed

As for the remediation of Boat Harbour, CBC’s Paul Withers is reporting this morning that even if the lagoon is closed on schedule next year, there may be a year’s delay in starting the clean-up, while the province undertakes a Class II environmental assessment. Withers spoke with Ken Swain of N.S. Lands, which is handling the Boat Harbour clean-up.

“It’s a big, complex problem,” said Ken Swain, a project leader. “It’s a pretty complicated solution.”

The federal government is also asking for public comments on whether the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) should undertake an assessment on the Boat Harbour clean-up.

5. Speaking of Northern Pulp, here’s an update on the annual grants and contributions it gets from Nova Scotians

Logging road at the Square Lake clearcut by Northern Pulp. Photo: Linda Pannozzo.

In the Morning File of January 8, 2019, Tim wrote about the amount of money Northern Pulp gets from the province in his article, “Northern Pulp, Scotsburn Lumber, and U.S. tariffs.” He noted that Northern Pulp had and continues to get considerable financial support from the citizens of this province, as reported in Public Accounts (“G&C” meaning “Grants and Contributions, DNR standing for the Department of Natural Resources, now Lands and Forestry, and TIR the “Department of Transport and Infrastructure Renewal”). He also documented the amounts given out in grants and contributions between 2009 and 2018.

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
DNR: (G&C): 587,559.14
DNR: 109,742.44
Total: 697,301.58

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
DNR: (G&C): 180,407.00
DNR: 160,184.14
Total: 340,591.14

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
DNR: (G&C) 445,395.00
DNR: 9,760.27
Total: 455,155.27

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
DNR (G&C): 79,629.85
DNR: 4,541,077.27
Total: 4,620,707.12

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
DNR: (G&C): 522,604.50
DNR: 196,732.00
Total: 719,336.50

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
Labour: 37,500.00
DNR (G&C): 969,837.64
DNR: 733,125.66
Total: 1,740,463.30

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
Economic & Rural Development: 61,411.25
Labour: 42,500.00
DNR (G&C): 445,652.49
DNR: 570,066.81
Total: 1,119,630.55

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
Labour: 16,540.00
DNR (G&C): 602,527.17
DNR: 78,719.53
Total: 697,786.70

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
Labour: 14,660.00
DNR (G&C): 457,143.68
DNR: 399,498.03
TIR: (G&C) 144,980.00
Total: 1,016,281.71

Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp
Labour: 29,076.50
DNR (G&C): 464,481.45
DNR: 31,353.38
TIR (G&C): 6,001,238.13
Total: 6,526,149.46

As Tim noted, Public Accounts shows that Northern Pulp has received more than $18 million in public money from the province since 2009 (in addition to $111.7 million from the provincial government in loans and grants between 2009 and 2013, and the $28 million grant from the federal government’s Green Transformation Program in 2011). So he set out to find out what the funds listed in Public Accounts were for. Department of Labour spokesperson Shannon Kerr got back to him the very next day, with a chart showing that funds from that department were for worker development programs. As for Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Tim wrote,

… spokesperson Marla MacInnis got back to me lickety-split, in just two hours, about the very large TIR payments to Northern Pulp. She wrote:

“This is a contribution towards detailed design and engineering studies for a potential replacement effluent treatment facility.

The amount was determined based on estimates by design consultants. The overall total for design and engineering studies is $6.146 million. $6,001,238.13 flowed in fiscal 2017-2018, while $144,980.00 began this work in 2016-2017 and can be found on page 326 of Public Accounts.

The contribution allows negotiations with Northern Pulp to continue and will be credited towards any future agreement. This cost is part of a larger discussion with Northern Pulp which is yet to be concluded.”

I appreciate the work of government spokespeople — we reporters can be demanding with our requests, and for the most part the spokespeople respond quickly and professionally. So I thank Kerr and MacInnis for their help.

Alas, I had less luck with Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Bruce Nunn. I emailed Nunn on December 17, asking “Can you tell me what those [DNR] payments were for? I’m guessing that that information will be self-explanatory in terms of the difference between ‘grants and contributions’ and ‘other,’ but if not, could you elaborate?”

It’s been 22 days, and I’ve had no response from Nunn. So your guess is as good as mine as to why DNR has paid Northern Pulp $10 million or so.

I had made a similar inquiry to the Department of Lands and Forestry (formerly DNR) for details of how its grants and contributions to Northern Pulp between 2018 and 2014 were used, as I was particularly interested in what has been dished out under the Liberal government of Premier Stephen McNeil, who campaigned in 2013 against corporate welfare. Spokesperson JoAnn Alberstat got back to me with this information:

Most of the funds you are asking about represent the Forest Sustainability Agreements (FSAs), which is cost-shared financial assistance for the completion of eligible silviculture treatments carried out on private wood lots by Registered Buyers as required to meet their obligation under the Forest Sustainability Regulations.

A further break down [of financing for Northern Pulp] is below.


$31,353.38 – Cost sharing of the construction of two bridges, located at Hart Lake and Riversdale, Colchester County.

$464,481.45 – Forest Sustainability Agreements (FSAs)


$457,143.68 – Forest Sustainability Agreements (FSAs)

$399,498.03 – Reimbursement for silviculture work performed on Crown land as per agreement. Also includes construction of a bridge in Beech Hill and cost share of construction of a bridge in Belmont.


$602,527.17 – Forest Sustainability Agreements (FSAs)

$78,719.53 – Replacement of bridges at Moose River Gold Mine, Crown Hogg Lot and MacCallum Settlement.


$445,652.49 – Forest Sustainability Agreements (FSAs)

$570,066.81 – Purchase of tree seedlings from the Northern Pulp nursery and bridge replacement at Moose Lake. Also includes Crown Land Silviculture claims.


$969,837.64 – Primarily Forest Sustainability Agreements (FSAs) and a small amount for forest inventory data work on Northern Pulp Nova Scotia’s lands.

$733,125.66 – Purchase of tree seedlings from the Northern Pulp nursery and bridge replacement at Little River. Also includes Crown Land Silviculture claims.

This breakdown made me wonder about a few things.

First is why, in 2015, the people of Nova Scotia would be paying Northern Pulp, a company that is part of the global corporate empire of the multi-billionaire Widjaja family of Indonesia, to do “forest inventory data work” on lands that belong to … Northern Pulp. Surely Northern Pulp can afford to pay to do its own forest inventory data work?

I am also wondering why Northern Pulp is getting grants and contributions for the purchase of tree seedlings, apparently from itself. Perhaps I’ve misconstrued the situation and there is a good explanation for this – if so, I would be grateful to hear it.

A third question I have is about all those millions we are paying for Northern Pulp for “forest sustainability” agreements.

Professor William Lahey concluded in his 2018 independent forestry practices review, “that environmental, social, and economic values should be balanced by using forest practices that give priority to protecting and enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity,” which could be achieved with “ecological forestry.”

This sounds to me like a pretty good definition of “forest sustainability.”

I’m not really convinced that what Northern Pulp does in Nova Scotia’s woodlands qualifies as “forest sustainability.” It could be argued that a more accurate description of what they do after they clearcut (which is what they mostly do), is pulp plantation establishment and management.

Former DNR minister, Lloyd Hines, described this kind of forestry management on Crown land as a giant vegetable “garden,” the difference being that harvesting is done every few decades rather than every year.

The Northern Pulp forestry regime involves nursing a handful of softwood species suitable for pulp, planting them, and often spraying these young plantations with herbicides such as glyphosate to kill off hardwoods and other plants that compete with the softwoods. Not good for biodiversity or ecological sustainability. Is that really what taxpayers should be subsidizing?

6. HRM ready to ban plastic bags?

CTV reports that HRM is taking the first step towards banning plastic bags.

On Tuesday, council passed a single-use plastic reduction strategy, but there’s still a long way to go before an outright ban would be implemented.

Still, council wants a draft bylaw in place by end of the year.

In The Chronicle Herald, Francis Campbell reports:

“This is a small piece of the big picture, absolutely,” said Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini as he introduced a motion that could eventuate in the elimination of single-use plastic bags by year’s end.

Part of the motion was for municipal staff to collaborate with the next nine largest Nova Scotia municipalities and to draft a bylaw for council’s consideration as soon as possible but no later than December 2019. The motion asked staff to draft the bylaw without first attempting a voluntary approach.

“It’s something we, the municipality, can get our hands around,” Mancini said. “It’s something that our residents can do. Already, just in the last couple of years of bringing up the discussion, we’ve seen many behaviours change. Our residents’ behaviour has changed. We’ve seen more people using reusable bags. Even our business community has changed.”

Not surprisingly, there was lots of discussion about whether a voluntary or regulatory approach was best. Campbell reports:

“Voluntary doesn’t work,” said Coun. Richard Zurawski (Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park-Wedgewood). “If we are going to cut out plastics, we can legislate and that’s certainly what this is about. We become the bad guys, which is our job.”

Council’s environment and sustainability committee voted at a meeting last month against staff’s voluntary recommendation and instead decided on the regulatory approach. Regional council followed suit Tuesday, voting 13-4 to collaborate with other municipalities to come up with a bylaw.

The other municipalities are Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Port Hawkesbury, Antigonish, New Glasgow, Amherst, Truro, Bridgewater, Yarmouth and Kentville.

In the end, council voted unanimously for a staff report.

As progressive as this may sound to some, it is worth noting that if HRM does bring in such a bylaw that bans the use of single-use plastic bags, it will just be catching up with many other cities and countries around the world, including lots of less wealthy jurisdictions, among them countries in Africa such as Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya.

Speaking of African countries and alternatives to single-use shopping bags, how about these beautiful baskets of vetiver grass that are hand-made in Ghana? I can guarantee that they last for years and attract many more compliments than your average plastic bag from Sobeys or Superstore.

Beautiful handmade baskets from Ghana, an alternative to single-use plastic bags. Photo: Joan Baxter


1. For whom does the minister of energy and mines work, anyway?

Disastrous tailings pond break at Imperial Metals’ gold mine in British Columbia. Photo courtesy Cariboo Regional District.

Just before Christmas, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines sent out an opinion piece to the media. It was ostensibly written by Minister Derek Mombourquette. Entitled “A little piece of Nova Scotia, everywhere,” the op-ed was so full of warm and fuzzy words about mining in the province that you’d be excused for thinking the minister had forgotten who elected him and whom he represents, and stepped instead into the shoes of Sean Kirby who heads the Mining Association of Nova Scotia (MANS), and who is paid to be Cheerleader-in-Chief for the mining industry.

In his piece, Mombourquette reassures Nova Scotians that mining is something we can all “take pride in” and we should be delighted that the new Mineral Resources Act “cuts red tape and saves industry money.”

And, he writes, “We’ve been doing this kind of work since before Nova Scotia existed. For a small province, we have access to rich natural resources and it’s something we’re good at.” Leaving aside the question of Mombourquette’s intriguing grammar and how we can be “good at” having “access to rich natural resources,” it seems to me that he is remiss in failing to admit to the expensive environmental legacy of gold mining in Nova Scotia. We are still paying the costs of trying to assess and deal with harmful tailings laced with arsenic and mercury from the gold rushes in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

And if anyone thinks that environmental regulations and monitoring have become stringent enough to prevent tailings disasters at mines today, they need look no further than British Columbia. There, taxpayers are on the hook for about $40 million for the environmental clean-up of the 2014 tailings dam failure and toxic spill from the Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley gold and copper mine. Despite specious claims by the Mining Association of Nova Scotia that modern mining cannot be compared to our “grandfathers’ mining industry,” the fact is that the Mount Polley disaster in B.C. happened just four years ago.

Mombourquette’s op-ed also contains some strange non sequiturs, like this head-shaker: “While mining only takes up about 0.1 per cent of our land, we don’t want to see any part of our province spoiled for future generations.” How those two clauses fit together in one sentence is beyond me. Perhaps Minister Mombourquette thought that we would be comforted by the subsequent paragraph, which informs us that, “Companies that develop a mine in Nova Scotia are required to have a plan to restore the site once it closes,” and they “must also set aside funds with the province, also called security, to do this work, even if the company goes out of business.”

Last year I submitted a Freedom Of Information request to obtain a copy of the reclamation plan that Atlantic Gold has submitted to Nova Scotia Environment for its open-pit gold mine at Moose River, so I could see just how the site would be restored after the mine is abandoned. My request was refused; apparently those reclamation plans are considered “confidential” business information and to divulge them would be an “unreasonable invasion of personal privacy.”

It appears we are supposed to take our government’s and the company’s word for it that after the mine closes, the giant crater it leaves and all the mine waste, or tailings – full of arsenic and other toxins – will be rendered harmless through land reclamation. Never mind that tailings management facilities can leach acid or worse, break, and that they really need to be monitored for centuries, or even longer. Atlantic Gold does not intend to line the tailings facility with an impermeable liner; at an Open House held in Sheet Harbour on March 27, 2018, Atlantic Gold staff told me that there will be a layer of clay between the tailings and the bedrock, and the “Nova Scotia bedrock” would prevent seepage.

Harvey McLeod, a professional engineer who chairs the subcommittee on tailings for the International Commission of Large Dams, told the Vancouver Sun that liners are often used in tailings ponds when cyanide is used to extract the gold from the ore, which it is in Moose River. (As I wrote here, a spokesperson for the Department of Environment told me that Atlantic Gold is using 35 tonnes of cyanide a week to process ore at the Touquoy mine.)

Mombourquette wants to reassure us that the mining companies set aside funds with the province to clean up after themselves. For the Touqouy site, where Atlantic Gold plans to be processing ore from not one but four gold mines over the next ten years, the government has set that amount at $10.4 million. The government’s own security tracker says Atlantic Gold has posted just $5.53 million, but JoAnn Alberstat, spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Mines, informed me in late December that the amount is $8.13 million.

I wonder how far Atlantic Gold’s security of $10.4 million will last, should there be a mishap with the tailings dam at Moose River. Given Nova Scotia’s rock-bottom royalty rate (which I wrote about for the Halifax Examiner and the Cape Breton Spectator), and the way that corporations shape-shift into complex webs of subsidiaries and affiliates to avoid paying them, the damage that the mining traffic is likely to do to the roads along the Eastern Shore, and potential environmental costs long after the functioning mine and three proposed mines are just a distant memory in the minds of the owners and shareholders, the net benefit for the province is questionable, to say the least.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the Energy and Mines minister, instead of acting as cheerleader for the mining industry, would do some genuine calculations and come clean with Nova Scotians about how much the province stands to make – and to lose – from the latest gold rush in Nova Scotia?

Fortunately, it looks as if the media were as unimpressed as I was by Mombourquette’s opinion piece; I have yet to find a single media outlet that picked it up and published it.

I hope he has taken note and recognized that the job of the minister is to regulate the mining industry and protect the health of Nova Scotians and the environment for generations to come, and not to do the PR work for gold diggers.


In the introduction to his (excellent) 2015 book, Slickwater – Fracking and one insider’s stand against the world’s most powerful industry, Andrew Nikiforuk quotes Mark Twain, who is said to have defined mining as “a hole in the ground with a liar on top.” Other sources say that Twain meant this as a definition of a gold mine. There are some other more colourful versions of the quote here.




Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — agenda


Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda

Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — agenda

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — agenda



Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Auditor General Michael Pickup will be asked about his report (released yesterday) on the FOIPOP website privacy failure.


No public meetings.

On campus



Architecture Lecture (Wednesday, 9am, Cineplex Theatre 7, Park Lane Mall) — Manon Asselin from the University of Montreal School of Architecture will speak. More info here.

USMCeh? Is the New Deal Merely the Old NAFTA, But Less? (Wednesday, 12pm, Lord Dalhousie Room, Henry Hicks Building) — Robert Wolfe, Professor Emeritus from Queen’s University will speak.

Two aspects of cholesterol homeostasis: Cholesterol in mitochondria and neuronal cholesterol turnover (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Barbara Karten will speak.

Architecture Lecture (Wednesday, 6pm, Auditorium, Design Building, 5257 Morris Street) — Annmarie Adams from McGill University will speak. More info here.)


Newfangled Rounds: ESCF as an Enabler of Ideas to Products to Exit: Experiences from Panag Pharma (Thursday, 8:30am, Bethune Ballroom, Bethune Building, VG) — from the listing:

Panag Pharma is focused on development of a new generation of pain management therapeutics based on exploiting the endocannabinoid system. Join us to learn about Panag and how Innovacorp’s ESCF grants have supported their evolution.

Register here.

Monica Adair. Photo: Twitter

Architecture Lecture (Thursday, 9am, Cineplex Theatre 7, Park Lane Mall) — Monica Adair, co-founder of Acre Architects and Regional Director of Building Equality in Architecture Atlantic Canada (BEA) will speak. More info here.

Architecture Lecture (Wednesday, 6pm, Auditorium, Design Building, 5257 Morris Street) — John Mayer from MASS Design Group, Boston, will speak. More info here.

The Art and Craft of Multi-Sector System Change (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — Ian Prinsloo will speak.

D’Arcy Wilson. Photo: Twitter

The Memorialist (Thursday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — D’Arcy Wilson’s installation of her new research project. From the listing:

Andrew Downs’ Zoological Gardens opened in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the edge of town in 1847. They stretched over one hundred acres in the area adjacent to what is now known as the Armdale Roundabout, and for more than 20 years, housed regional and exotic animals in sprawling wooded enclosures. The proprietor, known to care deeply for the animals in his keep, was also a master taxidermist, supplying specimens to the world’s leading scientific institutions of the time. Downs’ Gardens were the first public zoo dedicated to the study of nature in North America, and yet, these gardens also signalled the broken bridge between colonial settlers and the natural world, becoming a “living museum” of wildlife in a patch of forest just off the Halifax Peninsula.

The Memorialist — a term with which Downs self-identified in his practice —departs from this story, following the undercurrents of colonialism that permeate Western Culture’s understanding of nature, while retracing the complex geography of care and harm that characterized nineteenth century efforts to collect and preserve natural specimens (and occasionally their habitat) under the context of an expanding dominion. In this installation of her ongoing research driven project, D’Arcy Wilson presents a combination of still photography, video projections, a 14-ft diorama, a selection of museum and archival objects, and performances that tease out the contradictions at play behind the preservationist impulse and the museological framing of the natural world.

Mount Saint Vincent


Jacalyn Duffin. Photo: Wieke Eefting

Stanley’s Dream: The Canadian Medical Expedition to Easter Island (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall) — Jacalyn Duffin from Queens’ University will speak on her new book project. Info here.

In the harbour

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05:00: YM Enlightenment, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
05:30: MSC Cristiana, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Gioia, Italy
07:30: Kivalliq W, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Quebec City
15:00: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
15:30: YM Enlightenment sails for Rotterdam
16:00: Alexandra, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Norfolk
16:30: MSC Cristiana sails for sea


Lichens are amazing. Nova Scotia has more than 1,000 species of them. You can vote for a provincial lichen species here.

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Joan Baxter is an award-winning Nova Scotian journalist and author of seven books, including "The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest." Website: www.joanbaxter.ca; Twitter @joan_baxter

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  1. Terrific coverage of what transpired at the Stellarton Town Council meeting. Mayor MacGillivray has been doing a great job as mayor from where I sit. I viewed the Council coverage on Youtube ( a great idea by the Stellarton Council by the way) and I also had thoughts similar to those expressed in the coverage by the Examiner.

    This thought also crossed my mind- Isn’t a matter such as a letter of support for anything of such import and purport to be entertained only as a NOTICE OF MOTION? As indicated, there was no prior notice of this request for support made to the public, so maybe things were not done procedurally as they ought to have been. Procedural propriety is not my bailiwick, but perhaps it ought to be looked into by those whose bailiwick it is.
    The possible rescinding of a motion and the consequent vote may not change anything in this case as Councillor Lawand indicated that hearing from Chief Andrea Paul is not likely to change his mind, but process is important. Thanks again for the thorough coverage!

    1. Each council sets their procedural rules and any matter can be discussed if the council agrees to suspend the rules for that matter.The same applies to parliament and the legislatures. Elected members can change/ignore procedural rules at any except when discussing certain matters such as planning.
      Rules of legislatures are often suspended when a matter is considered to be of such imprtance that the rules hinder a discussion/decision, and that is as it should be.

  2. Thanks for this. News editors who are somehow not angry about the issues they cover are a menace to the well-being of the rest of us.

  3. Amazing what this government deems as transparency. This should sicken every Nova Scotian. What are they hiding?

    I hope these FOIPOP requests come with a money back guarantee. Seems the privacy lawyers are running the asylum.

  4. Zulu artists (mostly women) in South Africa turn single-use plastic bags into multi-use baskets. Properly rolled up, the bags can be used like the grass the Ghanians use. And because the bags often are naturally coloured, the artists can create attractively coloured designs for the baskets without using any dye. (I know this thanks to my daughter who wrote her dissertation on it at the University of Natal.)