1. Energy East

“TransCanada Corp. has pulled the plug on its controversial $15.7-billion Energy East Pipeline proposal, after slowing oil sands growth and heightened environmental scrutiny raised doubts about the viability of the project,” reports the Globe & Mail:

In a terse statement Thursday morning, TransCanada said it has reviewed the “changed circumstances” and would be informing the National Energy Board that it would no longer proceed with the project, including the related Eastern Mainline, a natural gas pipeline that complemented the crude-carrying Energy East.

Mere minutes after the announcement:

I’m in the library cafe; outside, people are celebrating the demise of the Energy East pipeline

— Tim Bousquet (@Tim_Bousquet) October 5, 2017

2. Yarmouth ferry numbers

The Alakai. Photo: Halifax Examiner

In September 2017, the Yarmouth Ferry carried 6,901 passengers. The September 2016 figure was 7,128.

Here are the monthly figures for 2016 and 2017:

June: 3,616
July: 10,813
August: 13,909
September: 7,128

June: 7,677 (+112% compared to June 2016)
July: 11,816 (+9% compared to July 2016)
August: 12,533 (-10% compared to August 2016)
September: 6,901 (-3% compared to September 2016)

The magic number of supposed ferry viability is 60,000 passengers per year. So far this year through September, there have been 38,927 passengers. There will be just six more there-and-back crossings in October, so probably a total of about 42,000 passengers for the year, 30 per cent short of the goal.

So, once again:

The Liberals own the decision to contract for the Alakai. The engine problems are not just some random act of a vengeful god, but rather a failure of policy.

Likewise, that passenger numbers haven’t reached the magic 60,000 figure is the Liberals’ failure. They own it.

Sure, we can “give it time.” We can give Bay Ferries a bye, a do-over. What the hell.

But again: What price is too much? When do we cut bait? I can’t really take ferry backers seriously until they give me a figure where they’ll pull the plug on the ferry.

Last time I posted this, I got some responses along the line of “But it helps South Shore businesses!” Which really misses the point: At what cost should we help those South Shore businesses with the ferry? What price would be too much? $10 million a year? $20 million? $50 million? Name the price that would be too much, then we can talk.

The bigger point is that if we’re going to spend $100 million to boost the economy of the South Shore — and philosophically, I can support that — there are a hell of a lot better ways to do so than with the ferry, which at best is supporting a handful of business owners hiring mostly seasonal and low-wage workers. That’s not to say that even seasonal and low-wage work isn’t appreciated in a depressed economy, but for the money we’re spending, we could do much better than that.

This is a value-for-money proposition. If the issue is “boost the South Shore economy,” is throwing a bunch of money at Bay Ferries, a PEI-based corporation that spends the bulk of the Yarmouth ferry subsidy money on goods and services obtained in the U.S., the best way to do that? I’ll just throw out a few alternative suggestions for what we could do with that $100 million:

  • free high-speed internet for everyone in Yarmouth
  • university debt forgiveness for every grad living on the South Shore
  • moving forward, free university for South Shore high school grads
  • hire hundreds of tradespeople to rehab the housing stock for energy efficiency both for the immediate income for workers and so people can stop spending so much of their incomes on fuel oil and propane
  • a revolving microloan fund to support very small business creation
  • free daycare, allowing parents to have the time to work, start businesses, or get more education
  • just give each of 10,000 low-income households $10,000 in cash and let them decide for themselves what to do with the money

Add your own suggestion to my list. I’d argue that any of those suggestions, alone or combined with the others, would do more to boost the South Shore economy than an equal expenditure on the ferry does.

Of course, if these suggestions are good for the South Shore economy, they’re also good for the Eastern Shore economy, the North Shore economy, the French Shore economy, the Cape Breton Island economy, and the Halifax economy. But we can’t implement such suggestions because we have a political and managerial class that is committed to giving public money to corporations and rich, connected people in the name of “economic development” and with the empty promise of “jobs!” — with the money inevitably making rich people richer and doing nothing much to help struggling people.

There’s always millions upon millions of dollars for whatever company hires the lobbyist sleeping with a McNeil staffer, or for Joe Ramia’s obscenity, or for IBM or Butterfield Bank or whatever the fuck corporation is wining and dining NSBI execs, but never a goddamn nickel for people who could actually use the money.

3. Whale deaths

Right whales. Photo: NOAA

“Analysis of six endangered North Atlantic right whales found dead since June in the Gulf of St. Lawrence suggests four were struck by ships and one died caught in fishing gear, says a report released Thursday,” reports Sue Bailey for the Canadian Press:

The sixth was too decomposed to be sure. Preliminary findings of a seventh carcass assessed after the others and not included in the report indicate it too was caught in snow crab fishing lines, said co-author Pierre-Yves Daoust of the Atlantic Veterinary College.

There was no evidence that various toxins may have played a major role in the deaths, he told a press conference in Charlottetown. They were among 12 right whales discovered lifeless since June 7 in Canadian waters, plus another three in the U.S.

“They died because of human activity,” Tonya Wimmer, director of the Marine Animal Response Society, said Thursday.

Moreover, “the Maritime Fishermen’s Union says a longer snow crab fishing season and an unprecedented number of right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence created a ‘perfect storm’ this year for a massive die-off,” report Karissa Donkin and Shane Fowler for the CBC.

4. Tidal Power

Tugboats pull a barge containing the OpenHydro turbine into position near Parrsboro Nova Scotia on Thursday 12th November 2009. Cape Split is in the background. (CNS/Len Wagg)

The McNeil government introduced legislation yesterday that will allow the issuance of “tidal demonstration permits anywhere in the Bay of Fundy to companies with turbines able to generate up to five megawatts of power,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC.

The Energy Department issued a press release with more details.

5. Lunenburg mayor says she was assaulted

Lunenburg Mayor Rachel Bailey. Photo: Ed Halverson, CKBW News

“A Lunenburg-area man is facing an assault charge following a confrontation with the town’s mayor that allegedly involved sewage-contaminated water from Lunenburg harbour,” reports Andrew Rankin for the Chronicle Herald:

Bill Flower, who’s been an outspoken critic of Lunenburg Mayor Rachel Bailey, said the incident took place Aug. 12 at Fishermen’s Wharf, where he operates his boat touring business.

Flower said the mayor is accusing him of smearing contaminated water on her ankles at the end of a heated exchange.

“It’s outrageous,” said Flower.

“I intend to fight this because I did not assault her. She invades my space, verbally assaults me. The morning after she says it happens she comes down to the wharf again, raises her pant legs and says the sludge caused an infection on her legs, the same stuff I handle every single day.”

He would not say whether at any point he touched Bailey.

6. Melvin guilty

Jimmy Melvin Jr., in a still from his “Real Live Street Shit” video, now no longer available.

“A jury has found Halifax gangster Jimmy Melvin Jr. guilty on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder,” reports Steve Bruce for the Chronicle Herald:

Melvin, 35, stood trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on allegations of plotting to kill Terry Marriott Jr. in December 2008.

The jury deliberated for about two hours Wednesday and 90 minutes Thursday before returning with the guilty verdicts.

7. Wrongful convictions

I’ll be part of this panel Tuesday evening (click here for a larger version of the poster).

Ron Dalton. Photo courtesy Ron Dalton

Yesterday, I interviewed Ron Dalton for today’s Examineradio podcast. Dalton was wrongfully convicted for murdering his wife Brenda, and spent over eight years in prison before being released. It was subsequently determined that Brenda Dalton was not murdered, and that Ron Dalton’s conviction was the result of an overly ambitious medical examiner’s insistence that Brenda had been choked to death.

Check back on the Examiner homepage later today to listen to my full interview with Dalton.

8. Facebook

After three+ years, the Halifax Examiner has finally created its own Facebook page.

This is supposed to result in all sorts of good things — I’m not sure what exactly, but maybe if you like it and follow the page, unicorns will prance down your street.

9. Terry Stole the Beer

Speaking of Facebook, Cape Breton band Pretty Archie posted a video of themselves performing a song inspired by a Cape Breton Rant Room post, called “Terry Stole the Beer.”

Incidentally, there seems to be multiple schisms in the Cape Breton Rant Room community:


1. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

UPEI food prof Colleen Watson rains down on the drive-thru breakfast parade in her recent letter (“Thoughts on grub on the go.’”)

She says she can make her breakfast sandwich at home for $1.10, “a saving of between $2 and $4.”

As is often the case in these comparisons, she tends to go to the minimum for her side of the argument, to make the difference look greater. First of all, she says, “We may or may not use bacon.” Well, a slice of bacon will cost you about 40 cents in the grocery store, so now her cost is up to $1.50. One cannot compare cost of production of the sandwich, as you would need to know the facts on both sides (e.g., does the drive-thru customer have a stove and toaster to cook the bacon, egg and toast the muffin?).

My point is that she is really comparing to apples to oranges and as “Foods and Nutrition” PhD, she should know better.

Lloyd Kerry,



No public meetings.


Legislature sits (Friday, 9am, Province House)

On campus


Patronage (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — T. Stephen Henderson from Acadia University will speak on “The Rules and Uses of Patronage at Confederation: The Memoirs of P.S. Hamilton.”

Saint Mary’s

Cannabis Industry (Friday, 3pm, Room 225 in the building named after a grocery store) — Donna Davies, Andrew Laughlin, and Paul Pedersen will “investigate venture and entrepreneurial opportunities as the [cannabis] industry and its value chain begin to unfold in a new legislative landscape.” From the event listing:

Cannabis raconteur and film producer, Donna Davies, will join industry participants Andrew Laughlin, a medicinal retailer in Halifax, and Paul Pedersen, a manufacturer and leaser of cannabis oil extraction equipment from British Columbia, for a discussion of industry trends and opportunities.

We will investigate venture and entrepreneurial opportunities as the industry and its value chain begin to unfold in a new legislative landscape.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9am Friday. Map:

8:45am: Vision of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,443 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor
4pm: Dalian Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
6pm: Vision of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Sydney
11:30pm: Wave Sentinel, cable layer, arrives at Pier 31 from Portland, England

5am: Hoegh Singapore, car carrier, arrives at Fairview Cove from Gioia Tauro, Italy
8am: Pearl Mist, cruise ship with up to 216 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Pictou
9am: Silver Whisper, cruise ship with up to 466 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney
1pm: Harriet Lane, U.S. Coast Guard cutter, sails from NC 4 for sea
5pm: Silver Whisper, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
8pm: Pearl Mist, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for sea

4am: Dalian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
7:30am: Viking Sea, cruise ship with up to 928 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Charlottetown
8am: Saga Sapphire, cruise ship with up to 748 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Gaspé, Quebec
9am: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship with up to 2,808 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Portland, Maine
7pm: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Sydney
8pm: Saga Sapphire, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Southampton, England
11pm: Viking Sea, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Boston

9am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York
9am: Rotterdam, cruise ship with up to 1,685 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Bar Harbor
9am: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship with up to 1,070 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Bar Harbor
6pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
6pm: Rotterdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Sydney
6pm: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for Sydney


YouTube video

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

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. Solve 1&5 with 2? Give electric vehicle/tidal power subsidies with ferry money and clean up the harbours while you’re at it?

  2. If we have a $100 million to throw around I would sugest $200 coupons be given to 50,000 tourists per year for 10 years. The coupons would be redeemable at any South Shore business. The businesses would then be refunded the money from the Province. This would bring more tourists to the region than the ferry, and they would likely stay longer/spend more.

    Maybe we should consider selling naming rights to the South Shore? Think what it would do to subscription revenue if people said “I found this great new restaurant on the Halifax Examiner Shore last weekend, with a view of Bousquet Beach”.

  3. The letter from Energy East cancelling the pipeline that Blaine Higgs is tweeting right now does not make any mention of the price of oil being the main factor. It didn’t mention the price of oil at all. Also it seems to me that the price of oil will not remain this low forever, and when you are building a pipeline, you are playing the long game. Of course, as the Freakonomics people always say, nobody can make accurate predictions that far in advance, but it seems a good gamble that it will go up.

    Oil had been going to the Irving refinery by rail – the Lac Megantic oil was headed there and they paid into the settlement. I don’t know how much they still get that way. The CTI rail project would not see the oil refined in Canada. It would be shipped by sea out of Belledune to refineries in other countries. While that project would involve building infrastructure, it wouldn’t be anything near like the massive Energy East infrastructure, so it may be more influenced by the short term price of oil.

    The project is dormant right now, anyway, but there is nothing stopping the actual oil shipment over the rails to Belledune. The rail and sea shipment part of it was not part of any of the environmental approval process. The only EIA dealt with the footpad of the tank farm and related infrastructure. The reasoning is that oil and other hazardous goods have been shipped over the rails and out by sea for decades, and so it isn’t any new risk to be assessed. The Mi’gmaq disagreed and brought a QB action in NB, but it was dismissed. They brought a federal action, but withdrew it because of cost.

  4. Are pipelines safer than trains for transporting oil? From my viewpoint, they are both safe until there is an accident. From an environmentalist’s viewpoint, train tracks already exist; but environmental damage will occur whenever a new pipeline is built. We will never be free from these arguments when it comes to transporting fossil fuels… both sides are committed and unyielding in their beliefs.

  5. A few points:

    The end of the energy east pipeline means we will all be supporting African dictatorships and Middle Eastern theocracies every time we fill up our tanks, and more oil will be shipped by rail. Saudi Arabia is using the money we spend on oil to fund Wahhabism in Europe and Africa, which will surely end well. I’ve often thought that the national conversation about energy conservation, electrification, ect might be more productive if green types also pointed out that we’re buying oil from the worst countries on Earth.

    Education is great, but when you subsidize something (either by offering a path to loan forgiveness or by offering ‘free’ tuition) what you get is more of it, at a higher cost. One reason why tuition costs, especially south of the border, are spiralling out of control is because of government-backed student loans and the immunity to bankruptcy of student loans. This is a direct transfer of public wealth to the Goldman Sachs of the world, in the guise of democratizing education. If banks had to actually shoulder the risks associated with loaning tens of thousands of dollars to an 18 year old who wants to pursue a degree which is not likely to increase his or her earning capacity we would see huge drops in tuition – at the price of lower university enrolment.

  6. I think the tune on that very funny song is Margo’s Cargo by Stompin’ Tom..

    I never did learn if Ronny found ever found Terry.

  7. The Trump approval of Keystone XL killed Energy East and Quebec and refineries in St Romauld,Quebec and Saint John New Brunswick will continue importing crude from Angola, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Congo, and Saudi Arabia.

  8. Possibly this pipeline cancellation will mean a revival of the CTI project, which will see up to 220 rail cars of Alberta oil per day sent in two train shipments to the Port of Belledune, where it will be stored in a 250-acre tank farm before being shipped overseas. The price of oil isn’t going to be low forever.