1. Bill 75

The legislature has been in session since 12:01am in order to pass Bill 75, which will force a contract on teachers. The final vote will likely take place sometime mid-afternoon.

2. Examineradio, episode #100

This week we speak to former NDP Finance Minister and current CBC pundit Graham Steele about the Liberal government’s strategy to impose a contract on Nova Scotia’s teachers. Will it succeed? Will any Liberal MLAs cross the floor? What effect will this have on other public sector unions in the province? And, how will this impact the next election?

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Also, in a bid to increase the accessibility of the podcast, we are now transcribing it. Well, “we” is Pamela Cameron, who has the wizardry to make this happen; many thanks to her.

Transcript here.

3. CBRM issues RFP for new cruise ship dock

CBRM wants a second cruise ship dock (grey) that can simultaneously handle Queen Mary 2-sized cruise ships and other smaller vessels. Graphic: CBCL conceptual plan.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality this morning has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new cruise ship dock on the Sydney waterfront:

The successful proponent will be required to provide a detailed siting plan, engineering design and construction oversight services for a new ship docking finger wharf facility. Ideally there would be two berthing faces and a robust fender system… The primary berthing face will be constructed as to be capable of docking “Queen Mary II” Class vessels. The secondary berthing face will be capable of docking ships of smaller length.

The introduction of the RFP explains that:

The port of Sydney is a secondary cruise destination in the Maritimes and provides a strategic port-of-call for the cruise lines on a variety of itinerary patters. Particularly, the “Holland America,” seven-day and longer open jaw sailings that pass through the Sydney region from homeports in Quebec and the US. The Holland America Line is the principal cruise line presently offering these sailing within the region from May through October. They are the primary customer for the Port of Sydney and provide more than half of the annual passenger traffic to the port.

The Port of Sydney is currently enjoying a stable cruise ship business, with continuing growth; however with a single berthing facility we are limiting our ability to meet the traffic volumes, vessel size and less “tendering of passengers” trends that are currently evolving within the cruise industry. The “Port of Sydney,” in collaboration with the CBRM, is considering expanding the existing marine terminal infrastructure by constructing a second marine berth to meet these needs that are prerequisites for a sustainable & successful port operation.

Whenever you want to get the rubes on board, toss the word “sustainable” around.

Who knows? Maybe the business case for the second berth is solid. But, as Mary Campbell points out:

The municipality has already set aside the Satanic amount of $6,666,667 and is now looking to the feds and province for the rest of the funding for the $20 million project.

Moreover, notes Campbell, although an ACOA-financed assessment of the business case recommended that the project move forward, it contains some worrisome analyses, including an acknowledgement that “the cost estimates are largely based on preliminary (and now somewhat dated) engineering studies,” “there do not appear to be any provisions for contingencies in the cost estimates,” the projected purchase price of properties seems way off the mark, and projected income for the project is mostly based on enthusiastic waving of hands and the scientific process called “magic.”

4. Mother Canada™

Mother Canada™

“A Toronto businessman whose plans to build a massive statue honouring Canada’s war dead on the shores of Cape Breton were dashed by Parks Canada is sending hundreds of care packages to public figures as a way to keep his dream alive,” reports Nina Corfu for the CBC:

Tony Trigiani spent years working on a plan to erect an eight-storey statue of a grieving mother with her arms outstretched towards Europe.


Trigiani declined an interview request from CBC News, but did confirm he’s been sending out care packages to more than 500 business leaders, academics, journalists and politicians over the past year as a way to keep the project on the public radar. 


The care packages include a “really weird mix” of “dollar store, loot bag stuff,” said Lisa Roberts, New Democrat MLA for Halifax Needham. She started receiving the packages shortly after she won a byelection in 2016.

Where’s my Mother Canada™ loot bag, dammit?

5. MMA

Mixed martial arts fighting came to Halifax over the weekend, in the form of a UFC “Extreme Cage Combat” event held at the $48 NSF Fee Centre Sunday night. Jon Tattrie reported on the event for the CBC, and focused mainly on Gavin Tucker, a Newfoundland kid who won his first fight, his mom watching on.

Which is fine, but Tattrie seemed to have missed comments made by Derrick Lewis, who defeated Travis Browne in the main event. Even the heavily edited UFC video released after the fight contained Lewis’s comment that he wasn’t hurting because of a kick from Browne but rather because he, Lewis, had to do a “number 2.” But the video left out Lewis’s charge that:

I just knew I had a bigger heart than him [Browne]. He calls himself a man, but he likes to put his hands on women. So, forget that guy — I have much more heart than he has. 

Lewis was referring to an allegation that Browne’s wife, model Jenna Renee Webb, had made that Browne had physically assaulted her. After Webb posted photos on injuries she said she suffered at the hands of Browne, the couple separated, and Browne began dating a female MMA fighter named Ronda Rousey.

Whatever points Lewis thought he was making by referring to the domestic assault allegations, he promptly lost the high road with the next words that left his mouth:

Where’s Ronda Rousey’s fine ass at?

Monty Mosher, reporting for Local Xpress, also missed Lewis’s comments, but noted that “Lewis and Browne earned $50,000 bonuses for the fight of the night.”


1. Stephen McNeil’s “right direction” and his Chamber of Commerce cheerleaders…

Writes Stephen Kimber:

While MLAs debated the government’s it-will-pass-anyway legislation imposing its will on teachers in the House of Assembly, more than 500 business types and government officials gathered just a few blocks away to celebrate Premier Stephen McNeil’s bold assertion that “no one can deny the fact this province is moving in the right direction.”

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There are always business people willing to shake pompoms in support of government action that either spends money they can get a piece of or sticks it to working people. I wish I had in 2012 videoed the over-the-top rally in support of the new convention centre:

A crowd of more than 300 people, overwhelmingly male and exclusively white, besuited in the attire of folks who consider themselves movers and shakers, had gathered at the Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street for a masturbatory celebration of the imminent construction of a new convention centre in the rubbled lots kitty-corner from the theatre.

There was no new information provided at the wankfest — developer Joe Ramia “announced” that the first tenant of his Nova Centre would be…drumroll…the convention centre, which everyone knew anyway. But the crowd gave him a standing ovation all the same.

But while I didn’t video the convention centre wankfest, I happened to get my hands on a grainy vid of the same sorts of business people who showed up for a Tony Robbins event at the Metro Centre in 2008:

YouTube video

white space

These are the people that run this town.


Joseph Howe was the focus of yesterday’s rotating “Heritage Day” holiday. And so I was thinking about Howe when I remembered that he was a walker — he’d walk across the province in order to file reports for his newspaper.

People used to walk a lot back then. Another Joe — Joe Fogarty  — would walk from his now-famous cove on the Strait of Canso to Halifax every summer.

I remember reading somewhere that Joe Howe once walked from Halifax to Port Hawkesbury, and so yesterday I got to wondering what route he took: did he stay along the coast on the Eastern Shore, ferry-hopping across the rivers to Guysborough, then across the Strait? Or did he take the more populous route, through Truro to Pictou and then along the North Shore? I think were I to walk the route today, I’d follow a middling route, through the Musquodoboit Valley and across the decimated forests of the interior.

So I asked Google Maps, using the walking route feature, and got this result:

Besides being a rather round-about route, Google Maps has three warnings: “This route includes a ferry” (more like three ferries, I think); “this route has restricted usage or private roads” (I think that refers to the Musquodoboit Trail); and “this route includes roads that are closed in the winter” (like through the Labrador segment). Still, what a fascinating walk it would be! But I’m a typically 21st century loaf, so would probably drive it.

On further investigation, it turns out that Google Maps doesn’t think you can walk across the Canso Causeway — the walking route between any place on Cape Breton and any place that isn’t on the Island sends you through Newfoundland & Labrador.

For instance, Google Maps says the driving distance between Aulds Cove, on the mainland side of the Causeway, to Port Hastings, on the Island side of the causeway, is 5.6 kilometres, and it will take you eight minutes to drive it. But Google Maps says the walk between the two towns is a distance 2,749 kilometres through four provinces and will take 456 hours — exactly 19 days if you don’t stop to eat or sleep or listen to diddly diddly music.

I’m almost certain you actually can walk across the Causeway, but let’s not tell Google.




City Council (1pm, City Hall) — council deal with the ditch tax thing, and then do all the preliminary approvals for adopting next year’s budget (“next year” starts April 1). I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.


Special Events Advisory Committee (9am, City Hall) — the committee wants more tourists to come to town. Not just any tourists, but the kind that spend money.

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (5pm, Alderney Public Library) — the board will discuss weeds in Dartmouth’s lakes.



House Sits (12:01am, Province House) — all-day meeting to show how tough Stephen McNeil is.


Public Accounts (9am, Province House)  — Auditor General Michael Pickup will talk about how government has responded to his recommendations.

On campus



YouTube video

Cadillac Records (5pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Darnell Martin’s 2008 film. “In this tale of sex, violence, race, and rock and roll in 1950s Chicago, “Cadillac Records” follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America’s musical legends, including Muddy Waters, Leonard Chess, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James and Chuck Berry,” writes Sony Pictures. Stars Beyonce, Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, and Mos Def.


The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (Wednesday, 8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Margarethe von Trotta’s 1978 film.

Sez IMDb:

Three people rob a bank to help a day care center that’s in debt. Wolf is captured, Werner identified, police suspect Christa is the third. She and Werner ask Hans, a clergyman, to launder the money and give it to the kindergarten. He refuses. They try Ingrid, Christa’s friend, who tries to help, but the school rejects the money. When tragedy strikes Werner, Hans helps Christa bolt to a collective in Portugal. Ingrid visits her; their relationship makes the collective nervous, so she returns to Germany and ceases living in hiding. The police are still looking for her and so is a witness to the robbery, Lena, a bank clerk. Lena’s interest brings Christa’s second awakening.

In the harbour

3am: Sichem Montreal, chemical tanker, arrives at anchorage for bunkers from Port Alfred, Quebec
6m: Vera D, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal

Maule. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Maule. Photo: Halifax Examiner

11am: Maule, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
4pm: Atlantic Conveyor, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
5pm: Vera D, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba
9pm: Mignon, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
10pm: Nica, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea


Monday. No, wait, Tuesday.

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

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  1. Tim;
    However a guy I know stopped his truck on the Causeway, grabbed a pice of 30M rebar out of the back, and asked his buddy to grab his knife from under the seat to cut the jawbone out of the seal that was trying cross the causeway, for the 75$ DFO would pay him for bringing the jawbone in.
    Swear to god.
    True as Im standing here.
    you can’t make this s*** up
    I love living in Cape Breton.

  2. In 2009/2010 there were 540.6 Educational Program Assistants
    In 2016/17 HRSB has budgeted for 636.2 Educational Program Assistants.


    Graham Steele, that self-declared champion of all things neutral, took a brave and adamant stand in your most recent podcast in favour of established order and the rule of law and steadfastly against unions ignoring the law and refusing to go back to work if ordered to do so by government fiat–lest mere anarchy be loosed upon the world. Thus, with one dismissive wave of his tongue, wishing away the reality of the historic resistance of working people that created unions.

    The truth is that it is only through brave and steadfast resistance to the rule of law that unions even exist. If workers had not been brave enough to break laws and risk beatings, jail and death to form unions the teachers, and all other working people, would not have the respect and legitimate power they have today.

    Governments have no unquestioned right to declare laws just or unjust. It is only, we the people, who have such a right. And, if we find a law to be unjust, we have every right, not to say obligation, to refuse to obey it. If we do not have that right and act on it what is a democracy for?

    1. I agree. If unions of the past didn’t stand up to action from the government and their private partners we wouldn’t have the protections we supposedly enjoy today. Mr. Steele is an apologist for executive power which is given legitimacy, in his eyes, by the house. And running throughout his commentary is the idea that the house is just a rubber stamp. We don’t have freedoms if they write laws which contravene them. We can’t allow governments to trammel civil disobedience in order to promote the agenda of wealth accumulation. Mr. Steele should certainly claim to know the ins and outs of the legislature, but his claim to neutrality is nonsense.

    2. Graham Steele may not have “a dog in the hunt” anymore — a term he used to describe how former politicians have the freedom to speak truth to power — but I’m not so sure he’s exercising that freedom, at least not with regards to the issue at hand. He says he’s “totally against illegal strike action,” and yet what the government is doing, imposing an agreement on the teachers, is actually illegal — something that has been decided recently by the Supreme Court in two other Canadian jurisdictions (British Columbia and Ontario) where it ruled that the government can’t just impose a contract on teachers. In both cases the court ruled that the government had to go back and negotiate with the teachers’ unions with two options provided: they negotiate until they come to some resolution that both sides can live with or they hand it over to binding arbitration with no pre-conditions on the arbitrator. Why? Because the Supreme Court says the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to organize, unionize and strike. The bottom line is, the McNeil liberals are (knowingly) going against the Supreme Court ruling and will ultimately be found in violation of it. Talk about a waste of money.

  4. Sorry Tim;
    Can’t help myself. I’m an engineer.
    There is no sidewalk across the Canso Causeway.
    I have never seen anyone walking across the Causeway.

          1. No that’s a walkway for a well paid public servant to get to work on the other side of the canal.
            Trust me, nobody walks across the causeway.

  5. Re: Mother Canada resurrection

    The stunt with the “loot bags” is silly.
    The main issue with Mother Canada was location more than the “saddamish” statue itself, although that was debatable as well.
    If this guy really wanted support, he should do some extensive public consultation on where to locate it, then armed with demonstrated consensus seek political support.
    Sending “treat bags” is quite childish and will probably result in opposition not support.