News

1. Stacey Gomez makes case against renoviction to residential tenancies

Stacey Gomez stands outside her apartment following her residential tenancies hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. Photo: Zane Woodford

Stacey Gomez made her case against being renovicted at a residential tenancies hearing yesterday, Zane Woodford reports.

Gomez’s landlord, Marcus Ranjbar (of the now-defunct Instagram account @halifaxhouseflips), sought to evict her so that he could renovate the building. Instead of leaving, Gomez fought. Woodford writes:

Gomez didn’t believe the work was significant enough to require vacancy. Under the provincial Residential Tenancies Act, the landlord has to either be demolishing the building or “making repairs or renovations so extensive as to require a building permit and vacant possession of the residential premises.”

The municipal permit for the property, issued January 13, 2022, describes the work to be done: “Flooring, Trim, Baseboard, Paint, Fixtures, Siding. No changes to location of fixtures. No structural changes. No drywall demolition or major demolition. No siding demolition, new siding will go over existing.”

Woodford outlines what happened next: the threats Gomez received, the destruction of her garden, the demolition of the deck on the side of the building, the unsubstantiated claims that the building had an unsafe level of radon gas, and that it was filled with mould.

Earlier this week, HRM inspectors ordered Ranjibar to stop work on the building:

[Building official Shawn] Kennedy found the smoke detectors in the building aren’t interconnected, and gave the landlord until September 9 to have that fixed or face a daily fine of $237.50. He found trim was missing from windows and doors and the tile floor by the patio door was “soft and showing signs of water damage,” and ordered the landlord to repair them by September 16 or face another daily fine of $237.50. Also by September 16, Kennedy ordered the landlord to conduct air quality testing. And by September 25, Kennedy ordered Ranjbar to “investigate the source of water entry and repair as necessary.” The same daily fines apply to those orders.

Residential tenancies hearings are not open to the public, but Gomez allowed the Examiner and CBC to sit in by phone. Read Woodford’s story to find out what happened at the hearing.

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2. Laugh Out Violence promotes healing through comedy and music

Colter Simmonds

“A local comedy event that was started as a way to support the Black community with grief and loss will take the stage on September 10 at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax,” Matthew Byard reports.

The show’s organizer Colter Simmonds tells Byard he was inspired to create the show after the murders of several young Black men in 2016:

“How do we get our community to understand there is a healing process that we have to go through,” Simmonds said. “We love music, we love comedy, we’re always laughing at each other, so I wanted to create an environment where we could really think about and reflect on the good times with the people we lost and bring the community together to have a good experience.”

The fourth edition of the show, which benefits the We Will Win Youth Association, runs September 10 at Casino Nova Scotia, and features headliners Marc Trinidad, from the Caribbean, and local comedian Jermaine Colley. Colley, relative newcomer to the comedy scene, tells Byard he’s “not for sensitive people”:

“What I would tell people who don’t wanna come out and enjoy themselves is, ‘Stay yo’ ass home.’ I don’t care.”

“It’s gonna be a packed house, and they’re gonna get what they paid for. They’re gonna get me, full, live, and in effect, and makin’ ya laugh, that’s all I can say.”

Read the full story, including information on how to get tickets, here.

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3. Australian mining company loses money and apparently it’s Nova Scotia’s fault

Atlantic Gold sign at the Touquoy open pit gold mine, with daily blasting schedule. Photo: Joan Baxter

The share value of St Barbara, the company that owns Atlantic Gold, has dropped by 70% — and the company is blaming Indigenous people in Nova Scotia, Canadian regulators, and COVID-19, Joan Baxter reports.

Baxter outlines the company’s plans for expanded gold mining in Nova Scotia, which were to be operational in 2023 — and clearly will not be:

Today, the Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream projects are still undergoing joint federal and provincial impact assessments by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC). As the Halifax Examiner reported here, the IAAC recently granted St Barbara subsidiary Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia three-year extensions on both assessments.

The impact assessment for the third proposed mine project, the controversial Cochrane Hill mine that would infringe on a proposed protected wilderness area at Archibald Lake, has now been terminated.

And she calls bullshit on the company’s board chair throwing around blame for the situation:

Those claims from the St Barbara board chair that its problems can be blamed on a lack of engagement with First Nations and regulators caused by COVID-19 warrant a good deal of scrutiny and a healthy dose of skepticism.

The simple fact is that Millbrook First Nation has said, repeatedly, that it opposes the proposed mine at Beaver Dam, close to two reserves where its members live, hunt, and fish.

The failure to gain their support for the project was not from any lack of being able to engage with Millbrook First Nation to convince them otherwise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rest of the story is behind the paywall, so to read it, please subscribe.

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4. Black Widow spiders in Cape Breton

The Welton Street garage in Sydney, as seen in a Google Street View image from 2018.

Last night, a friend in Ottawa alerted me to a Twitter thread from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, saying that the Welton Street garage was closed because of the discovery of an “as-yet-unidentified, potentially dangerous non-native spider species.”

The species was later identified as a western black widow.

From a SaltWire story this morning:

According to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the fumigation was necessary after the presence of western black widow spiders (Latrodectus hesperus) were discovered in a bus delivered from California. On its way to Cape Breton, the bus travelled through Ontario before arriving in Sydney, the municipality said.

Black widows are the most venomous spider in North America. Their venom is about 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom, and uses a chemical called alpha-latrotoxin to overwhelm nerve cells and cause immense pain.

The “related stories” at the bottom of the page include a couple of found-a-black-widow-in-a-bag-of-grapes stories. Those of you with spider phobias can thank me for running a pic of the garage instead of the spider.

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5. The Americans who didn’t move to Nova Scotia and weren’t escaping Trump

Peter LaVaute and one of his artworks, in a screenshot from the YouTube video on his folk art exhibit Do Over.

In last week’s Morning File, I noted a SaltWire profile of  Peter LaVaute and Kathy Hunter, who “left for Cape Breton after Trump’s election.” It turns out they didn’t actually move to Cape Breton, because of immigration rules and stuff. So, like many, many people from many different countries, they spend their summers in Nova Scotia. There’s still the Trump angle, I guess.

Except, there isn’t.

Amazingly, LaVaute wrote an opinion piece for the Cape Breton post, in which he says he and Hunter did not want to move to Canada because of Trump, but because of deeper concerns about their home country, and because of a love of Cape Breton. LaVaute opens on no uncertain terms:

I’m an American, but any suggestion that I decided to move to Canada and out of the United States because of Trump grossly exaggerates his importance in that decision.

LaVaute discusses militarism, climate change, the importance of a carbon tax and decarbonization, and then says:

It is difficult to attribute my choosing to relocate to Canada to be running away from Trump and Trumpers. A little over five years ago, my wife Kathy and I set out on a scouting trip to find an alternative place to live. We believed — and still believe — that the U.S. is heading for a civil war. On the scouting trip we found the barn we now live in.

So, while it is a tragedy what Trump and his henchmen have done to the United States and to democracy worldwide, it is our growing and deepening love for Cape Breton that finally pulled us here rather than being run out by the cowardly bullies.

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6. The Tideline, Episode 93: Jackie Torrens

Jackie Torrens.

The multi-hyphenate Jackie Torrens — we’re talking writer, director, actor, broadcaster, icon — stops by ahead of the Atlantic International Film Festival screening of her murder mystery doc Bernie Langille Wants To Know What Happened To Bernie Langille, which had its world premiere at Hot Docs this spring. Between the military, the time (50 years ago), intergenerational family trauma, and advances in science, Torrens has crafted an intriguing and emotional look into one man’s search for answers. She speaks to all of this plus the innovation of using miniature sets to recreate the scenes of the day.

You know how there are some people you just have a ton of respect for? For me, Jackie Torrens is one of those people. Talented, principled, hard-working, and always up to something interesting.

Listen to the show here. 

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Views

A late summer grab bag filled with brilliant random shit

T-shirt design from Uncle John’s Outfitters.

In the service of Examiner readers, I save various things I run across that I find interesting, and I hope you will too. Some of these are not time-sensitive, and I hang onto them hoping to use them one day, but then there is so much news and other stuff going on, that they just languish there in my bookmarked tweets, my Pocket account, and so on. Since it’s a relatively quiet easy-going summer day, I figured I’d dip into that cache and point you to a few different things I enjoyed and that you might, too.

Against Better Humans

Despite the ongoing enclosure of the internet, one of the things I love is that you can still find brilliant random shit, like this Medium post from 2020 by Hogan Torah. You see, I’d just written an article on therapeutic psychedelics for Unravel, and then I saw a woman wearing a t-shirt that said “Microdosing is for pussies.” (She was on our flight to Athens.) Curious, I looked it up. That’s when I came across Hogan’s rant, called “I disagree with everything this site is for.”

Hogan had been approached to write a piece for a Medium publication called Better Humans:

Better Humans is yet another Medium publication with a terrible logo that makes no sense.

It’s a bunch of self help articles written by some 27 year old white dude who teaches yoga like all the crap here that gets curated and crammed down our throats. But they pay $500 bucks if you get accepted. So I said fuck it.

I had planned to write How Not to Fear Death.

This did not go over well. Couldn’t he write something about living your best life?

I’m 42 and live with my mother after losing everything because I got hooked on heroin when my girlfriend died. I don’t think How to Live Your Best Life is a story that should be written by me.

If I have to write something I hate, I’d put on pants every morning and be a cloud engineer and make 150k a year again.

Hogan then goes on a delightful screed about posts that tell you how to write thousands of words a day, posts on the benefits of microdosing, posts on the benefits of fasting, meditation, and more:

Do you know what happens when I fast for half a day? I can’t think straight. My brain is missing what allows it to make decisions. Writing? Forget it. I could be looking at a refrigerator full of food and I will be so disoriented I can’t make a decision. Do any of these stories mention that? No.

I’m not a nutritionist but the author of the first article claims to be a doctor. Dr. Stephanie Estima. That’s funny. She doesn’t say what kind of doctor. Medical? Literature? Fictional? Let’s find out. Nothing on her webpage tells you. I find out she’s a Chiropractor. And her license is expired. Her story is from the Better Humans Medium publication.

My job title has the word engineer in it, but I don’t tell people I’m an engineer. I didn’t go to college. It would be an insult to the real engineers I know.

He takes the piss out of all of this, while pointing to many more Medium articles all on the same subjects. The whole thing is a joy.

On stage with Bob Dylan at Newport

Musician Barry Goldberg tells the story, with the help of one of my favourite writers, Dan Epstein (the guy’s beats are music and baseball, c’mon), of how he came to play keyboards for Bob Dylan at Newport on the night he went electric. The piece appeared in late July in the Forward.

Goldberg had come to Newport to play with the Butterfield Band, but a record label guy fired him before their set. So here was Goldberg, miserable at this folk festival, and definitely not fitting in. Then he met Bob Dylan:

Michael [Bloomfield] and I had a territorial and maybe even sartorial connection with Bob, too. We were three Jewish guys from the Midwest who had similar backgrounds, similar attitudes, and even the same clothes — when I met Bob at the party, he was wearing tapered pants and pointed boots, just like I was. Bob could tell we were cool, that we were at Newport to play music and not just to “make the scene.” He knew we weren’t putting him on some kind of folk-protest pedestal, either; if he wanted to play electric music to a folk festival crowd, that was fine by us.

Michael and Bob came back over to where I was standing. “Would you like to play with me?” Bob asked. “Are you kidding?” I said. “Of course!” And that was it. Bob Dylan, on the spur of the moment, had decided to form a gang, and decided that Michael and I had what it took to be part of it. And as soon as he invited me to play with him, it was like Newport went back into “wonderful dream” mode for me.

There were, uh, a few others who famously had strong feelings about this electric turn:

Albert Grossman, Bob’s manager, spent the whole soundcheck fighting with Alan Lomax. Lomax was famous for discovering and recording all these old folk and blues singers, and he hated the very idea of electric music being performed at a folk festival. Grossman was there to support his artist, and neither one of them was backing down. These two old hipster guys wound up rolling around on the ground, punching each other.

It was really bizarre. [Festival board member Peter] Yarrow was screaming at us, and Grossman and Lomax were down there fighting. I sensed that a battle line was being drawn, and we all were on a mission together. Bob was our leader, but the more uptight people were getting over what we were doing, the more I also saw that look in Michael’s eyes that said, “I’m just going to shove this down your throat.”

I love this part of the piece, capturing the moment Dylan walked onto the stage:

The magic was definitely there that night, for all of us, as soon as the lights went on and we saw Dylan coming out, all in black, with that Stratocaster strapped on. That was a statement in itself, but it was also so much more. You felt how important his presence was, and how important what he was doing was; you knew it had meaning.

Progressives should embrace self-help

The only Substack I subscribe to is Mental Hellth” by P.E. Moskowitz. Last week, Moskowitz published a piece called “Confession: I Love Self-Help!

For a long time I’ve thought of myself as someone who is not into self-help. Sure, I find the odd self-help book, well, helpful, but that doesn’t really count, does it? (Confession: I bought a book by writing and life coach Kendra Levin this week.)

Anyway, Moskowitz says that the snootiness of progressives when it comes to self-help means that the field is left open to what they call “the worst people on earth”:

There’s a reason Jordan Peterson has been so popular — it’s because he’s reaching a specific demographic of lonely and depressed men (primarily) who feel like there aren’t any rules for their lives. The appeal of Peterson’s book is that it provides simple directives to follow that allow his readers to feel more personal responsibility, agency and order. (Three of the rules, for example, are: Sweep in front of your own door before pointing out the street is dirty; Treat yourself like a child you’re responsible for; Aim to do what is meaningful, not convenient).

Peterson’s book has received an immense amount of backlash because the rules Peterson proposes encourage people to ignore societal factors in favor of individual ones, and also because Peterson is basically a fascist who hates trans people. But “the left” (or whatever you want to call people smarter and more socially conscious than Jordan Peterson), has largely failed to take into account that people deserve books and other forms of media that really do help them on an individual level. When we dismiss all self-help, we leave the form up for grabs to the most hollow and morally bankrupt. Perhaps it’s time to reclaim it.

Moskowitz won me over immediately in this post by dissing Atomic Habits, which may well be the worst book I have ever read, and which Moskowitz calls “extremely stupid. ” They share this “very scientific graph” from the book:

Very scientific graph

Moskowitz says much criticism of self-help is that it individualizes what are essentially social problems. And that may be true. But…

But most criticisms of self-help fail to understand why the genre is so popular: it’s not just that they offer snake oil cures that impatient people are in a rush to buy — it’s because the world is a confusing, dark, and lonely place, and so people are searching for answers that can help them understand their loneliness, their sadness, their lack of satisfaction in marriages and careers. If we ignore the reasons people gravitate to self-help, we leave it up to the worst people to provide answers to those struggling.

I like this piece, and I like the newsletter generally. If you take the money you’ve got left over after buying your extremely reasonable Examiner subscription, you could do worse than spend it here.

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Noticed

Free music on a Friday in Annapolis Royal. Photo: Stephen Archibald

I was camping last weekend, and I think I took one photo ⁠— a mediocre shot of the view from my folding chair, overlooking a quiet inlet. (I spent most of my time sitting in that chair reading through the second book in the Expanse series.)

Needless to say, when Stephen Archibald heads off for a short trip, the photographic results are a lot more interesting.

Recently, Archibald was in Annapolis Royal, and he shares some photos in his latest Noticed in Nova Scotia blog post, “Annapolis Variety.”

When I was growing up, going over to people’s houses to see their vacation photos was a thing. Usually a very boring and tedious thing. Looking at Archibald’s Annapolis Royal photos and reading the accompanying commentary made me think, OK, this is a guy whose house I would have happily gone to for vacation photo viewing.

There is no big, over-arching theme here; it’s like your favourite uncle giving you a tour of the neat stuff he’s noticed. There’s the old school-bus garage, turned comfort station, complete with gender-neutral washrooms, tourist information, and phone charging.

Comfort Station in Annapolis Royal. Photo: Stephen Archibald

Note the benches in the foreground, sitting on top of what used to be a pad for a fuel tank, and the ornamental tiles from the lovely folks at nearby Lucky Rabbit Pottery.

Archibald also notices buildings “from early 18th-century survivors to 1970s curvy,” including a brick bank building, with “a porch that was sympathetically added in the 1980s to house those newfangled ATMs,” and the “exquisitely restored and maintained” old train station. “It’s almost like a piece of sculpture,” Archibald writes.

The old train station. Photo: Stephen Archibald

At one point in my life, I would regularly bike by a station from this era in a state of dilapidation, and it made me sad.

On the way home, Archibald notices a bunch of other stuff ⁠— a restored church and schoolhouse, a bridge, ornamentation in a cemetery ⁠— and it’s worth going along with him on the ride.

We haven’t been to Annapolis Royal in years, but are hoping to do a cycling overnight there at some point, riding the Harvest Moon trail. I’ll take some photos.

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Government

City

Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — their first meeting since March

Province

No meetings


On campus

No events


In the harbour

Halifax
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
10:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from anchorage to Autoport
12:20: Adriaticborg, cargo ship, arrives at Sheet Harbour from Baltimore
16:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to anchorage

Cape Breton
07:00: Polar Prince, tender, arrives at Mulgrave from Churchill
12:00: Lambert Spirit, barge, and Lois M, tug, sail from Sydport for sea
12:30: National Geographic Explorer, cruise ship with up to 162 passengers, arrives at Baddeck from Saint-Pierre, on a nine-day roundtrip cruise out of St. John’s
15:00: Tanja, bulker, sails from Port Hawkesbury Paper for sea
18:30: National Geographic Explorer, cruise sails for Magdalen Islands
21:00: Sonangol Namibe, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
22:00: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from New York


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Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. Philip,
    My wife and I took a 3 day vacation in Annapolis Royal last year. I grew up in nearby Bridgetown and had spent some time in Annapolis off and on as a kid (I was actually born there!).
    Annapolis Royal is an absolute gem and I highly recommend going. Good food, interesting history, beautiful gardens, etc.
    C

    1. We have been many times, but it has been quite a few years. Looking forward to going again.