On campus
In the harbour


1. CTV pleads guilty

CTV reports on its own guilty plea:

This television station has pleaded guilty today to breaching a publication ban under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

On Aug. 24 of last year, we unintentionally broadcast video of two individuals who had pleaded guilty to charges related to a shooting in Cole Harbour, N.S., in 2014.

Sentencing is set for late next month.

CBC’s Jack julian reported on the violation last month:

CTV Atlantic is facing a charge of breaching Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act for broadcasting video showing two youths accused in a 2014 violent home invasion in Cole Harbour, N.S. 

2. Tuition


“As Dalhousie University’s board of governors met for a presentation on the first draft of the budget advisory committee report, dozens of students could be heard outside calling for a freeze on tuition,” reports Anjuli Patil:

The report recommends a three-per cent increase for all programs, but even higher hikes for students in the agriculture, pharmacy and engineering programs.

The committee recommends an 18.9 per cent increase for agriculture over three years, with a 15 per cent increase for engineering and pharmacy. That would be on top of the general three per cent tuition increase.

“We’re sending a clear message that students are not OK with this at all. Students already graduate with an average of $37,000 in debt and we’re talking about $2,000 fee increases here. It’s unjust. It’s not sustainable. It’s not acceptable,” said John Hutton, a vice-president of the Dalhousie Student Union.

We’ve become a meaner, nastier society, and we’re shitting on young people.

3. Murder

Elias Lampe. Photo: Facebook
Elias Lampe. Photo: Facebook

I guess I’m in the crime reporting business now…

Yesterday, police charged a man with murdering his father. The police release:

Homicide investigators in the Special Investigation Section of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division have laid charges against 20-year-old Elias Frank Joseph Lampe in connection with the homicide of his father, Frank John Lampe. 

At about 10:13 p.m. on January 21, Halifax Regional Police responded to an unknown trouble call in an apartment building at 10 Harlington Crescent. Officers located Mr. Lampe deceased in a hallway. A short time later, a 20-year-old man was taken into custody near a Halifax Transit bus stop on Willett Street in relation to the investigation. The male suspect was transported to hospital for treatment of what were described as life-threatening injuries. 

Homicide investigators arrested Elias Lampe yesterday morning without incident at 8:20 a.m. after he was released from a Halifax hospital. He is to appear in Halifax Provincial Court today to face charges of second degree murder and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. 


1. Diamonds

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald finds decorative diamonds in architecture everywhere.

2. Exodus

Mike McLeod in "Forgive Me."
Mike McLeod in “Forgive Me.”

“While the Canadian film industry is booming thanks to the low loonie, NS film jobs are down 82 per cent from last year,” writes director Thom Fitzgerald. “Local actors are barely working at all.”

Fitzgerald goes on to put a face to the many people working in the film industry who have had to leave Nova Scotia, including these:

Mike McLeod, 30, a London, Ont. native, is tall and blond, with a sparkling intelligence. After graduating from Dalhousie Theatre School, Forgive Me put the young actor front and centre on television, heading a cast of acclaimed acting heavy-hitters like Ed Asner, Olympia Dukakis and Wendy Crewson. For his stellar performance, Mike was recognized by his peers in 2015 with an ACTRA Award, and nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Lead Actor. Just when Mike should have been at the very top of everyone’s casting list, Nova Scotia auditions dried up completely. In between glitzy ceremonies toasting his success, he sensibly got a job at an insurance company. After nine months without an audition, Mike realized his day job had become his only job. It was time to go. He flew out to British Columbia, got a great agent and had an audition for a major U.S. network pilot on his first day living in Vancouver.

Callum Dunphy, age 25, is a 2016 CSA nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, for his daring performance as a gay serial killer on my other show, Sex & Violence, on OUTtv. Callum took the train when he moved to Toronto yesterday, and he was immediately signed by a great agency.

Pasha Ebrahimi, in his 30s, who was nominated for an ACTRA Award for his role as a cosmetic surgeon on Sex & Violence, is taking meetings with Vancouver agents this week. His fellow 2015 ACTRA nominees Michael McPhee, Glen Matthews and Candy Palmater have all relocated. In all, of the twelve episodes of Sex & Violence, more than 20 of the show’s cast members have already moved away from Nova Scotia. That’s just the cast. That’s just one show.

We’ve become a meaner, nastier society, and we’re shitting on young people.

3. Chronicled

Robert Thompson, who writes for Canadian Golfer, was surprised to find himself quoted in a Chronicle Herald article Monday. He writes:

[W]ith journalism under attack in Canada, I draw the line at using replacement reporters. It works as well as using replacement players in the NFL. In other words it is a mess, never really works out, and those who take the work during a strike are usually not good enough to work in a newsroom otherwise.

Today my Linkedin page notified me I was referenced in Halifax Chronicle-Herald on a story about Cabot Links and the rise of golf in Nova Scotia. I was a little surprised—I couldn’t actually recall having given an interview in recent memory on the subject.


For the life of me I couldn’t recall talking about this. I searched a couple of month’s of emails and no luck…

Anyway, my concern was the story appears in the middle of a reporters’ strike. I wouldn’t have given an interview to anyone from the paper during a strike, but the story appeared anyway.

I searched my email and couldn’t find anything, so on Twitter I reached out to Brian Ward, the Chronicle’s “vice-president, news,” which I can only assume is an editor’s position. As an aside, the demise of newspapers will surely be linked to giving out titles like “vice-president, news.”

Ward told Thompson that the interview happened in November — “It is easy to forget speaking about something three months in the past,” says Thompson — and the stale interview was repackaged with a boilerplate golf course PR release to make a new article Monday.

Concludes Thompson:

The union says the paper has been banking stories to use in a job action, which is likely what this was. Whether the writer knew that or not, I can’t say.

The news business is being assaulted by small-minded so-called “businessmen” who have no vision for what the future holds or how to deal with it. All they do is slash and burn and hope someone is interested in the product that remains. Not surprisingly, readers usually aren’t.

I wish the best to the Chronicle-Herald workers who are out on strike, and I wish the story with my quotes in it had never appeared in the paper during their job action. For that I apologize.

4. The bullshit factory

Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Michael Gorman surveys the track record of disastrous public policy changes coupled with even more disastrous communications strategies — dating back to the PC government’s changes to auto insurance, through the NDP government’s cancelling of the Yarmouth ferry, and on to the current Liberal government’s axing of the Film Tax Credit and changes to Pharmacare. Gorman  then talks with political scientist Tom Urbaniak:

Cape Breton University political scientist Tom Urbaniak says there is a temptation for politicians, when they think news might be negative for some people, to either underplay it or spin it in a particular way.

One of the challenges with spinning, said Urbaniak, is co-ordinating the message so that it remains consistent. It would be easier and more credible for governments to just be up front with people from the beginning, he said.

“Just sort of lay it out crisply and say, ‘Yes, we acknowledge there will be people who do not benefit from this policy and we’re not going to try to sugarcoat it.’ Because the public and the affected constituencies are sophisticated in the sense that people know when they’re being spinned to.”

When that doesn’t happen, and a communications strategy backfires, Urbaniak said it makes a lot of sense to be up front about that, too.

“There’s almost sort of an innate pride, fear of negative publicity, desire to be too clever by half and I think it often sort of boomerangs back against government,” he said.

This is the Age of Bullshit. And nowhere is the art of bullshit practiced more thoroughly than in communications offices. The one segment of government that sees increased budgets and growing staffs is communications, and yet the messages become more muddled, the strategies “too clever by half,” in Urbaniak’s words. This is by design.

5. Snow cancellations

Parker Donham has two posts up, one from Monday criticizing the cancellation of school and closing of government offices despite nary a snowflake on the roads, and one from Tuesday looking at the larger issue of risk assessment.

6. Cranky letter of the day

To the Inverness Oran:

The Nova Scotia government in the last 10 years (2007-8 to 2016-17) will have received approximately $16.349 billion in federal equalization, according to the federal government website.

Each N.S. provincial government over those years upon receiving such funding has taken a very small amount from it to form the provincial equalization program of approximately $32 million a year to total $320 million.

This has left a whopping $16 billion plus for provincial governments to manipulate for their political benefit. The evidence of such obvious political spending is everywhere as many citizens outside the HRM are being deprived of their federally calculated share of the federal equalization funding. 

The Constitution Act, 1982, s.36 (2) states: “Parliament and the government of Canada are committed to the principal of making equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation.” 

The federal government’s funding “commitment” is apparently being met by its approximately 25+ per cent or $4 billion plus of its equalization payments “to ensure” those disadvantaged municipal governments identified in this province as fiscally unable to raise sufficient revenues from their tax base to provide public services at the national standard.  

But the federal government’s “commitment” is blatantly being constitutionally breached when it transfers this funding unconditionally. Attempts to have the federal government provide the constitutional authority for transferring these equalization funds unconditionally have failed. 

That’s because there is no constitutional provision for an unconditional transfer of these equalization payments entrenched in s. 36 of the Constitution Act 1982.  

When former CBRM mayor John Morgan tried to have the court/legal system enforce this constitutional commitment and free citizens from the political manipulations experienced over the years from all the three political parties that were in power, the legal system failed those residents in each of the disadvantaged municipalities when it did its job of preventing this legal matter from being allowed to proceed and subsequently decided in a trial. 

The governments controlling equalization payments at both levels know that allowing the presentation of this government data in a trial format that it would be very difficult to justify the current under funding of most disadvantaged municipalities in this province and still be in compliance with the Constitution Act 1982. 

After all, having our elected representatives abiding by the laws they have made is too much of an expectation to give citizens this power. Apparently that democratic prospect had to be avoided as all costs. 

Saul D. Alinsky reminds us that since politicians pose themselves as the custodians of responsibility, morality, law and justice only for us to find these can be perfect strangers to each other at times like this.    

A publicly expressed criticism that the court/legal system in Nova Scotia does not have “tree shakers” proved all too true. The reality that justices are political appointees offers more substance for the absence of tree shakers in our legal system. 

In fact, the N.S. Court of Appeal decision May 8th,2009, offers the following bizarre conclusion: “In an appropriate context, s. 36 might represent a justiciable commitment, but only among the federal and provincial governments who were privy to the agreement (emphasis added) that is represented by s. 36. It is not actionable by an individual or municipality such as the CBRM.”

According to this opinion/ruling, the constitution is not the citizens’ legal document it must be to use as their evaluating device to judge whether their elected representatives are following the supreme laws of this land – our Constitution. 

Apparently s. 36, although entrenched in the Canadian Constitution, somehow, in this opinion, is exclusively only the property of the two levels of government that can decide to, or not to, follow this law. That citizens as individuals or as a group who live in economically disadvantaged municipalities in this province have consequently no constitutional enforceable rights to equalization funding and are instead left to the political machinations of the ruling politicians who form government to do as they wish is now the legal reality.

Given such political manipulations and our muted elected representatives: councillors, local provincial MLAs and local federal MPs, how can citizens expect anything other than the unfairly high municipal and commercial tax rates now being paid and poorer quality public services?

Yours truly,

Charles W. Sampson, Sydney Forks



No public meetings.

There’s increased attention to snow clearing this winter, from both city crews and private contractors, and it’s noticeable. Last year, one particular side street I’m familiar with went five or six days after every snowfall before getting plowed; the same street was plowed three times during Monday night’s storm. Last year, by mid-winter whoever was supposed to clear the sidewalk in front of my house had gone AWOL, abandoning the job completely; this year, the sidewalk plow that attends to my street was out early, and the driver took care to do the job correctly, even taking two passes — well, as correctly as possible given the equipment.

But the crews still can’t get intersections right. After the sidewalk plow did its work, I went and shovelled out the nearby intersection so pedestrians could actually cross the street without wading through slush and the dregs of snowbanks. When I finished, I admired my handiwork — four corners of bare concrete and asphalt, a pedestrian’s joy — and went about my day. When I came back home at the end of the day, however, I saw that the various road and sidewalk plows had made more passes, dumping more snow right where I had cleared the way.

I saw much the same thing downtown and along Spring Garden Road yesterday: sidewalks were clear, right up to the intersections, and then pedestrians have to choose between tromping through ankle-deep slush or finding a way to scurry over difficult but potentially less watery snow banks nearby.

Can we just admit that the plows cannot properly clear intersections? It takes people with shovels to clear them for pedestrians. We’re paying for the service, but we’re not getting our money’s worth. So I guess it’s left to us. I’m committed to clearing the intersection near my house this winter. Can business owners commit to clearing intersections near their businesses? It means sending someone out after a plow passes to get the dregs removed. On busy corners, 10 minutes’ work by one shoveller can improve the day for hundreds, even thousands, of pedestrians.


Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — Joanne Munro, Chief Executive Officer of the Heating Assistance Program, will be questioned.

On Campus


YouTube video

Ministry of Fear (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Fritz Lang’s 1944 film adaptation of the Graham Greene novel. Says IMDb:

Stephen Neale has just been released from an asylum during World War 2 in England when he stumbles on a deadly Nazi spy plot by accident, and tries to stop it.

King’s College

Beethoven (7:30 pm, KTS Lecture Hall) — Angus Johnston will speak on “Revolutions in Music: Beethoven and the Art of Listening.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:05am Wednesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:05am Wednesday. Map:

ZIM Vancouver, container ship, Valencia, Spain to Pier 42, then sails to sea
Tongala, car carrier, Southhampton, England to Autoport
Petalouda, oil tanker, New Orleans to berth TBD.

Herma P sails to New York
NYK Romulus sails to sea


I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 4pm. Whoops! Sheldon’s on vacation, so I won’t be there.

Otherwise, I’m writing all day.

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

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  1. Two news issues missing critical assessments from yesterday. The government walked back again on its IA for northern pulp. The final betrayal of its duty to the public, and a master stroke in an epic con job.

    Also, why is every media outlet calling the NB police purchase of guns being referred to as ‘carbines’? If a citizen owned one of these weapons, it would be called an assault rifle. This is nothing more than sleazing in the militarization of our police forces. For shame that no media has called them on this. There are other examples in this case as well of dumbing down the police armament, and it’s not a mistake. It’s another con job.

    1. Can we please get rid of the incorrect use of words by ILLITERATE bureaucratic mouthpieces and media mavens.

      A CARBINE is best represented by the ubiquitous Wild West Lever-Action, five-shot Winchester 30/30 — a far cry from what is being supplied for police use. It’s probably a euphemism designed to slither past a public which might be ‹alarmed» and, God forbid, «critical» of what is actually being stockpiled in case the Government feels the need to unleash another Toronto G8 assault on we Unruly Peasants.

  2. there is at least one contractor who has a shovel crew to dig out intersections. I saw them Last night at work at Joe Howe and Springdale

    1. Why the H*** were they digging around a pedestrian barren edge of what amounts to a freeway when thronged downtown corners are STILL next to impassible? The entire downtown is a MESS of huge snowbanks, inaccessible parking meters, and blocked sidewalks. Bad enough that downtown businesses are crapped on with traffic-killing monster developments,closed-off streets, deleted parking spaces and overtaxation — now we’re «twisting the knife» by making the entire downtown a parking and walking nightmare.

  3. The bullshit factory is municipal, provincial and federal.

    I do know there are public servants who abhor spin. Others with roots transplanted from the corporate world, not so much.

    When people say government should be run like a business they should take care as to what they wish for.

    Defend the brand is the new mantra. Truth for citizens be damned.

  4. Hey Tim, the tuition increases are higher than what CBC is reporting. To be fair to them, the Dalhousie report is deliberately misleading in how they report the fee increases. There is an across the board increase of 3% to all faculties. Then there’s the tuition resets, which Dal is applying to agriculture, engineering and pharmacy (6.3% per year, 5% and 5% respectively, over three years). If you multiply just the tuition resets by three years you get the CBC figures, but if you factor in the tuition cap of 3% as well (which the students also pay!), you get 28%, 24% and 24% increases.

    1. Are the numbers on graduate debt lagging by 5 years? When I graduated 6 years ago I had that same average debt level, as did many of my Nova Scotian peers. The worst loan by far is the federal loan at a floating 5.2% interest rate. I can’t imagine graduating now into an even worse job market and a higher cost of school.

  5. People need to stop conflating federal equalization payments with municipal equalization. Federal funds go to general revenues which cover health care, education, highways, and other services across the province. You have to include the cost of every health care facility, school, road, government office, and all the employees therein. You also have to compare the tax revenues coming from rural vs urban Nova Scotia and compare how those dollars are being distributed. Given that incomes are generally lower in rural areas, it would be a reasonable conclusion that tax revenues would be as well. I suspect you will find that rural areas not only receive their full share, it may be more than you might think due to the smaller populations and higher costs of delivery equivalent services as a result. I’m ok with that, because I believe in the principle of equitable access. But please don’t take two numbers that are not associated with each other and use that as the basis for your argument. Do your research.

    Unless municipalities want to provide all provincial services in return for receiving “their” share of the federal funding — be careful what you ask for.