1. Another SHIP Show at the Civic Centre

The so-called “Novaporte” in Sydney will look nothing like this schematic supposedly representing it, because it will never exist.

“Okay, here’s what we’re going to do,” writes Mary Campbell:

you’re going to give me your cell phones and I’m going to lock you in this room and let you read this article. You can take notes, but I’m going to take them away from you when you’re done and burn them because this article is my intellectual property and there are commercial sensitivities involved. There will be a quiz at the end, and if you get anything wrong, I keep your cell phone and I get an option to buy your shoes. Why? Because I say so. Got it? Good. Now hand over the phone.

JUST KIDDING! Who do I think I am, right? The Mayor of the CBRM?

You can take all the time you like to read this article. I apologize right now for its length, but making sense of the latest shenanigans in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) is not for the faint of heart. As I said in the headline, it’s been a real SHIP — as in, Sydney Harbour Investment Partners, our port promoters — show.

It all started with one of those surprise, last minute, in camera Council meetings Mayor Cecil Clarke loves to call. Word went out last Tuesday there would be an in camera session about something related to the Port of Sydney on Thursday at 10 am. At that session, Council was treated almost as badly as I was threatening to treat you at the beginning of this article — they had their cell phones taken away, they had any notes they took as they attempted to come to grips with this something related to the Port destroyed, they weren’t allowed to tell reporters what they were discussing.

Campbell goes into great detail about the history of the port proposal and the players in the game, then concludes:

Really, it is starting to seem rather wonderful that in this one, small port-related thing the CBRM did follow something resembling a “process.”

But it doesn’t make up for forcing a complicated financial deal through Council in too short a time, hiding the details from the public, privileging “commercial sensitivities” over the citizens’ right to know, meeting in secret, allowing Jim Gogan to represent both the CBRM and SHIP (which, let’s face it, is what he’s doing — otherwise, wouldn’t SHIP have wanted a representative at those meetings?) and inviting provincial ministers (who happen to be local MLAs) to address you in secret about public matters (the CBRM charter).

Our Mayor has most of our Councilors so cowed, they seem to be suffering from some form of Stockholm Syndrome: “Yes, he locked me in a room and took my cell phone away and tried to make me vote on a deal I’d barely had time to read but he let me ask questions of the CBRM staff and they were so nice about answering them.”

What kind of municipal leader treats his fellow elected representatives and staff like that? On what planet does it make sense to spend 18 months negotiating a deal and then allow an elected body only five days to read it, digest it and vote on it?

Click here to read “Another SHIP Show at the Civic Centre.”

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2. Here’s who’s behind the Halifax CFL team proposal

Edmonton Journal sports columnist Terry Jones names who is behind the Halifax CFL team proposal:

The bid group is led by two former executives of the Arizona Coyotes, Anthony LeBlanc and Gary Drummond, local businessman Bruce Bowser of AMJ Campbell Van Lines and Richard Butts, president of Clayton Developments and former CAO of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Garbage expert turned City Hall expert turned football expert Richard Butts. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Butts was no doubt brought in to pull strings on Mayor Mike Savage and city council; that’s already proven to not be so difficult as Savage started a stadium puppet dance just three nanoseconds after Butts showed up on the scene.

OK, longtime Examiner readers… What’s the best tell that muckymuckdom is trying to snow the public? You’ve got it — they sling the “world-class“es around like nobody’s business. Continues Jones:

“It’s a very creditable group of people with the financial wherewithal to do this,” said [CFL Commissioner Randy] Ambrosie. “The big question, of course, is the stadium. But I’ll give the different levels of government credit. They recognize this is more than about football. It’s about opening a part of our country known for world-class hospitality to play host to any number of world-class events.”

And the proposed team even has a name: the Schooners. Sigh. Because nothing screams success like a reference to the ill-fated Bluenose II (or is it III?) restoration or rebuild or money hole or whatever you want to call it.

Actually, “Atlantic Schooners” isn’t a reference to the Bluenose failure but rather to a previous failed CFL expansion, according to the non-existent team’s website, which is in desperate need of a copyeditor:

The Atlantic Schooners was (sic) awarded a CFL conditional franchise in 1983 and (sic) was contingent upon building a stadium. This unfortunately never happened and the franchise was pulled 1984 (sic) prior to the Schooners ever playing a single game.

The schooners (sic) got their (sic) name from a contest that was held in all four Atlantic provinces, and the four waves in the logo represent the four Atlantic provinces.

For all intense (sic) and purposes the Schooner (sic) laid (sic) dormant till 2009 when the league decided to test the waters in Halifax with a preseason game between Hamilton and Toronto which quickly sold out with games after (sic) held in Moncton in 2011 and 2013.

“Intense and purposes.” Sigh. Sister Theresa would’ve smacked me upside the head with the yardstick for that one.

Butts got paid northward of $400,000 annually at City Hall, and was lured away to Clayton, most likely with an even higher salary. He’s got dough! And Richard, old bud, I’ve got people looking for work as copyeditors. You could probably hire one of them to give your website a once-over for like a measly 200 bucks, and some world-class website editing it would be. Give me a call.

Sigh. Have I sighed already?

“How can the new group of mucky mucks promote this renewed Schooners team?” I ask with a quivering liver.

The lobster-themed team mascot demonstrates how serious the Schooners proposal is.

With a “kitchen party,” that’s how, complete with a man walking around in a lobster costume, a no-name “Celtic band,” and (judging by photos of past parties) lots of Keith’s beer, because why not pile all the stereotypes on thick? The kitchen party isn’t in a kitchen, however, but rather at the Ottawa Delta, today at 3pm and tomorrow at noon (who starts a kitchen party at noon?). Tix are $10, cheap compared to the hype.

3. Stephen McNeil and Michael Pickup

Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“In response to a critical report from the province’s auditor general, Nova Scotia’s premier says Michael Pickup should run for office if he wants to comment on policy,” reports Marieke Walsh for Global:

“If he chooses and wants to do public policy there will be 51 ridings for him to run in,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.

On Wednesday Pickup’s performance audits on health care found the government is doing a “poor job” communicating with Nova Scotians about primary care and family doctor recruitment.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority and the province’s health department accepted all 21 of the auditor general’s recommendations.

I’m travelling, and yesterday was stuck in the Dulles airport for six hours because, er, capitalism and competitive markets lead to the best distribution of resources and under-regulated industries result in improved service to the customer, or some such bullshit, I’m not sure. But while swirling around overpriced drinks and forking through bland reprocessed lunch, I had great fun reading the legislative reporters’ comments on the McNeil-Pickup battle.

Yes, this isn’t even lazy reporting; it’s lazy pointing at other reporters’ tweeting. So sue me.

Michael Pickup @OAG_NS says he’s 150% surethe work he and his office did is within the AG’s mandate. #nspoil

— Jean Laroche (@larochecbc) November 23, 2017

In case you’re wondering here’s what the @OAG_NS is empowered to do according to law. #nspoli

— Jean Laroche (@larochecbc) November 23, 2017

When it comes to knowing his mandate, I’m inclined to side with the AG. #NSpoli

— michael gorman (@MichaelTGorman) November 23, 2017

Just to put an even finer point on how inaccurate this is: the @OAG_NS has two audit teams: one for finance and one for performance. To judge performance is to say whether something is working. This isn’t new. #NSpoli

— michael gorman (@MichaelTGorman) November 23, 2017

Here’s what the AG’s website says about his role. It includes “conducting performance audits on public sector operations” #nspoli #Halifax

— Marieke Walsh (@MariekeWalsh) November 23, 2017

4. Ocean Supercluster_____

There’s a rule in logo design: No matter how experienced and creative your design team is, always run your proposed logo by people who were not involved in creating it — third parties, just regular lay people, people who have fresh eyes. Because if you don’t, you can end up with such unfortunate logos as these:

The Catholic Church’s Archdiocesan Youth Commission:

Junior Jazz Dance Classes:


Kids Exchange:

I bring this up because there’s a similar rule with naming enterprises: run those acronyms by someone — the Wisconsin Tourism Federation, South Lake Union Trolley, Conservative Reform Alliance Party, and (Microsoft’s) Critical Update Notification Tool maybe should’ve had a re-think.

Which brings me to the Ocean Supercluster.

“Some of the biggest players in the region’s ocean economy have joined forces to come up with the Ocean Supercluster proposal, which aims to find solutions to problems extracting resources from the ocean,” reports Paul Withers for the CBC:

The Canada-wide competition is an attempt to drive economic growth by backing innovation in sectors where government can expect “exceptional performance” and an “outsized impact on job creation and GDP.”

Silicon Valley is the model.

Oh, that’s a great idea! We’ll just do what Silicon Valley did. Easy-peasy. Why didn’t someone think of that before?

Four core investors are committing $15 million each as part of the Ocean Supercluster: Emera, Clearwater Seafoods, Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador — which is made up of the five oil companies operating offshore Newfoundland and Labrador — and Cuna del Mar, an open ocean aquaculture promoter.

Other region powerhouses involved are J.D. Irving and Cooke Seafood.

Those well-known philanthropic corporations will contribute a total of $125 million for the Supercluster, and if approved, the federal government will match that amount (that is, with public money), and then we’ll all be rich, rich, rich. Hey baristas: I’d call your broker right now and talk about how you should invest the riches about to flow your way.

But as with the unfortunate corporate logos and acronyms above, maybe someone should’ve thought through the “Ocean Supercluster” name because the very second there’s even a whiff on misexpenditure of public money or some other misfortune or grift hits the endeavour, it will immediately be rebranded the Superclusterfuck.

It’s inevitable.


No meetings today.

On campus



Voice Recital (Friday, 12pm, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Marcia Swanston will perform.

When Bodipy and Porphyrin Work Together: From Molecular Models to Solar Cells (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Building) — Pierre D. Harvey from Sherbrooke University will speak.

Are Canadian Historians Wrong About the Welfare State? (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — William Langford will speak.

What’s In a Song? The Perception of Singing and Speaking by Infant Listeners (Friday, 3:40pm, Room P5260, Life Sciences Centre) — Christine Tsang from Huron University College will speak.

Saint Mary’s


Thesis Defence, Business Administration (Friday, 1pm, Room 260 in the building named after a grocery store) — PhD candidate Marcelle Nolene Allen will defend her thesis, “The International Development Bank and the Making of Postcolonial Subjectivities.”

In the harbour

5am: Budapest Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Fos Sur Mer, France
9am: George Washington Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
9am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, moves from Pier 36 to Pier 42
10am: Endeavor, special vessel, sails from BIO for sea
11am: Budapest Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4pm: Askiliops, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 42 for Saint-Pierre
8pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
9pm: George Washington Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York


I’m visiting family, so this is an abbreviated Morning File.

We’ll have the Examineradio podcast published later today.

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

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  1. “If he chooses and wants to do public policy there will be 51 ridings for him to run in,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.

    Yes, that’s why we hire someone with the accounting and management requirements expected of the Nova Scotia Auditor General – to always unconditionally praise every aspect of government at all times.

    I see that time in office and very nearly losing his majority have done nothing to moderate the pompous arrogance of Stephen McNeil.

    Personally I think the AG should be empowered to kick the doors down at the Nova Scotia Health Authority and determine for once and for all whether the most expensive program offered by this government is being managed in the best interests of us all as well as what – if anything – successive governments (yes, including that of Monseigneur McNeil) might have done to help.

    Go Pickup!

    1. Do you believe that an AG’s Report should be a true performance review, or only a negative review of various topics within the AG’s purview? I do not believe Nova Scotian residents want to only know the bad; I think we want to know what is being done correctly as well. Otherwise it looks like a hatchet job (unintended I surely hope) and no one can convince me that anyone would not bristle when only their flaws are touted as the highlight of their performance.

  2. I read the AG’s Report and found that it lacks balance. All it deals with are the deficiencies and none of the successes. If there were no successes, then that would be an acceptable clearly stated inclusion for this “Performance Report”.

    Note that the AG’s Report is a Performance Report and as such should highlight both the good and the bad; so that the public and other branches of the government can assess a true picture concerning the topic at hand.

    As it is, the AG’s Report reads like a playbook for opposition parties to use to beat up the sitting government, and I am sure that was not the intent of the AG or his department.

    All performance reports should be truly balanced; otherwise only a one-sided assessment is presented.

      1. Significant or not, an unbiased performance review should be accurate and complete; that means successes and failures… The AG has the data detailing past history, it will/should tell a story… if everything the government did was a failure, then that should be stated clearly.

  3. If they’re called the “Schooners” you’d think Oland would be providing the beer rather than Keith’s? This is as branding-deaf as not being able to drink Moosehead at Halifax Mooseheads games.

    At least the sports promoters don’t say “innovation” much – but I guess that’s why they have to double-down on “world class”.

    1. AJ

      Oland’s is Keith’s is Schooner is Labatt is InBev

      I’m surprised it’s not The Stella Blue Schooners.

  4. This makes Stephen McNeil absolutely unique in two areas: 1.) He is the only current premier; 2.) He is the only one in the province who thinks the govt’s health issue communications efforts have been “outstanding.”

  5. At least you were not at Newark “Why do we even have clocks?” Liberty when there is the hint of rain, or a VIP visiting their forgotten son in midtown.

    Enjoy your turkey day, even if its a month and a half late.

  6. Richard Butts eh? No one knows what best for Halifax than a garbage expert from Toronto who wants to branch out. World class indeed.