On campus
In the harbour


1. Photographers fired

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The Irving-owned Brunswick News has fired all the photographers working at the Moncton Times & Transcript and Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, reports the CBC. The expectation is that photographers at the Fredericton Daily Gleaner were also fired, but the union has not yet confirmed this.

Reporter Stephen Puddicombe points out that among those fired are Ron Ward and Viktor Pivovarov, who took award-winning photos of, respectively, the Elsipogtog protests and the Moncton shootings, seen above.

Photography is essential to modern news reporting, and it takes professional photographers to do the job right. There’s this notion among cost-cutting execs that you can simply equip reporters with iPhones; the reporters are going out there anyway, why can’t they take the pictures? But it doesn’t work that way. First of all, it takes training and experience to know how to properly frame and capture a moment. Secondly, equipment matters; I’m no photographer, but there’s a world of difference in quality between the photos I take with my Canon Rebel and my iPhone. Lastly, like photography, reporting is real work, which takes time and attention; insisting that reporters also take photos (or video, or audio…) divides their time. I know from experience that I can either, say, report properly on a city council meeting, following the arguments and nuances of debate, or take photos. I can’t do both, not properly, anyway. Saddling photography duties on top of reporting, or vice-versa, is cheating the readers of quality work.

And yes, I do it anyway. I don’t have any option — this is a shoe-string operation (please subscribe) and so I muddle through. I’ve learned a tiny, tiny bit about how to use my Canon over the last year, but truly mastering it means not following stories I should follow, and not learning how to use other technology, like the Zoom recorder I bought for podcasts or the mapping program I keep putting off. At a big media operation like Brunswick News, owned by billionaires, division of labour is essential. Laying off photographers is looting the capital and good will the papers built up over decades, and continues the slide into the death spiral of newspapers generally.

2. Street clearing

An ice-free Cambridge Street in the south end. Photo: Alana Yorke
An ice-free Cambridge Street in the south end. Photo: Alana Yorke

I’ve been primarily interested in snow and ice removal with regards to sidewalks, but Alana Yorke took to Facebook Sunday to point out the different levels of street clearing received in the south and north ends:

After about 20 nights of parking ban, anyone in North End and Central Halifax knows the situation, little or no evidence of snow or ice clearing. I am sharing a pic of Cambridge St. [above] just to reveal what occurred in a different kind of neighbourhood this weekend. Intensive and expensive curb to curb ice and snow clearing happened from Sat. morning and through the night Sat. night to completely clear Waegwoltic Ave, Conrose Ave, Geldart St, and the leading to nowhere ends of Cambridge and Beech Streets. This is an area bordered by Jubilee and Oxford with absolutely no through traffic possible due to street directionality and turning restrictions. What do we think of this, Halifax, and is it newsworthy?

Yorke contrasted that to a photo she took of a street in the north end. I think this is Harris Street, but the icy conditions exist on all streets in the north end: Creighton, Maynard, Agricola, all the cross streets, etc. The worst north end street I’ve noticed is Belle Aire Terrace, but McCully Street comes a close second.

The icy state of Harris Street is typical of north end streets. Photo: Alana Yorke
The icy state of Harris Street is typical of north end streets. Photo: Alana Yorke

CBC Mainstreet yesterday did a bit on Yorke’s post:

Yorke was in the south end on the weekend and spotted crews clearing the area that includes Waegwoltic Avenue, Conrose Avenue, Geldert Street and the dead end streets of Beech and Cambridge.

“So this little grid of streets, when I went and looked the next day, had been cleared curb to curb, in this whole grid of streets that’s isolated and doesn’t permit any through traffic,” Yorke told CBC’s Mainstreet.

Mainstreet interviewed Darrin Natolino, who’s in charge of the city’s winter operations, who made the plainly absurd argument that:

“It’s not that we would rather send the trucks to the south end, it’s that those streets needed more attention.”

South-end streets often have “bowls” attracting water, whereas north-end streets tend to be on hills. 

“They drained off and we didn’t necessarily see the requirement on as many of those streets,” he said. 

He said the city prioritizes streets not on the basis of residential income, but by streets that have: 

  • More than 20 centimetres of ice pack
  • Restrictive rutting or ice potholes
  • Close proximity to schools
  • Significant safety concerns as identified by Halifax Regional Fire and Halifax Transit.

I’d simply point out that I can’t drive my Honda Civic down either Maynard or Creighton Street, both of which are nearly flat, run directly by Joe Howe School, are rutted through far more than 20 centimetres of ice, and are just around the corner from Fire Station #3 on West Street.

3. Radicalization

Amarnath Amarasingam. Photo: Moira Donovan
Amarnath Amarasingam. Photo: Moira Donovan

“Out of 100 people, if three people blow up something we study the three to death,” Amarnath Amarasingam tells Examiner education reporter Moira Donovan. “Then we don’t ever ask what’s kept the 97 from doing similar things.”

Amarasingam’s work looks at how young people become radicalized, and then join groups such as ISIS. But his approach is different than the knee-jerk militaristic response that characterizes much of the Canadian response to radicalization:

Rather than focusing strictly on those who are already violent, Amarasingam looks at different groups and asks “how do people with the same kinds of community grievances, same kinds of community upbringings, not make a similar decision to engage in violence?”

This article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall, and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.

4. Pedestrian struck by vehicle

A police release from yesterday:

At 7:09 a.m., police responded to a vehicle/pedestrian collision at the intersection of Pleasant Street and Mount Hope Avenue. A 39-year-old woman was crossing Pleasant Street in a marked crosswalk when she was hit by a vehicle turning left from Mount Hope Avenue onto Pleasant Street. She suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to hospital by EHS.

A 29-year-old woman was the driver of the vehicle and the incident remains under investigation.

5. Rankin drunk-driving trial adjourned

Councillor Reg Rankin. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Councillor Reg Rankin. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Councillor Reg Rankin faces a drunk driving charge from last March, after he allegedly drunkenly drove into his own front porch. The trial has been put off until August.

Rankin is one of two Halifax councillors facing driving-related charges. Councillor Linda Mosher faces an improperly changing lanes charge related to an incident where she allegedly struck a bicyclist. That trial continues March 25.

6. Photo of an angry person in a local newspaper

Natalie Gehrkin is angry. Photo: Harry Sullivan, Truro Daily News
Natalie Gehrkin is angry. Photo: Harry Sullivan, Truro Daily News

Natalie Gehrkin is upset at what she regards as an invasion of her privacy by H&R Block. While preparing her income taxes, the company insisted that Gehrkin, a widow who has raised her son by herself, fill out a company-created form demanding to know if she was regularly sleeping with someone who might make a claim on their taxes.

Not at all to make light of Gehrkin’s situation, but the Truro Daily News photo by Harry Sullivan of Gehrkin standing in front of the H&R Block office should be a candidate for Samuel Pepys’ Angry People in Local Newspapers blog.


1. Hook straighteners and high flyers

Hook straighteners. Photo: Stephen Archibald
Hook straighteners. Photo: Stephen Archibald

Continuing his tour of the visual wonders of fishing gear, Stephen Archibald shows us hook straighteners and high flyers, which of course he has stashed in the hoarders’ paradise he calls home.

Hook straighteners, Archibald explains, were “workmanlike little jigs. In the days of dory fishing from big Banks schooners (Bluenose for example) the fish were caught on a long line of 550 baited hooks (trawl). The trawl was stored in a wooden trawl tub.  A hook straightener fitted over the lip of the tub so it was handy if you came upon a bent hook. You just slipped the hook over the pins on the jig and bent it back into shape.” A couple are pictured above.

“When the trawl lines were laid out at sea the end of the line was marked with a float that supported a pole and little canvas disk, called a high flyer,” continues Archibald, who posts a photo. He also has lobster buoys and fish baskets, concluding with a nod to Nova Scotia’s traditional folk art:

I used to watch for miniatures of traditional gear. These were often carved by older fishermen or lumbermen or farmers who were very familiar with the real thing.  On the left [pictured in his post] is a miniature sheen broom. They were made from a single birch sapling  and were often found on schooners. I think they were good at getting cod scales off the deck. The miniature lobster buoys [also pictured] were painted in the colours of local fishermen in southwest Nova  (their names are attached).

2. Transfers

Scott Edgar explains “How a transfer-based network could save Halifax Transit“:

Here’s how the transfer-based network is going to mean shorter trips. The key is to remember that, when you’re taking the bus, your total travel time includes the time you spend waiting for the bus. That doesn’t just mean the time you spend standing on the curb. It also includes the time you spend killing 10 or 15 minutes before you even head out to the bus stop, because you know your bus isn’t coming for another 20 minutes. All of that time is part of the time it costs to take transit. And that’s the time a transfer-based network can cut.

Edgar goes on to give concrete, real-world examples.

3. Myra Fairfax

I’ve long known Myra as the pleasant and attentive daytime bartender at the Shoe, but today John DeMont reveals she is an extreme walker.

4. Wong watch

“Those ignorant young people” is a trope as old as humanity, but just when you think Wong is going down that well-trodded garden path she pulls out her own ignorant youth, some patience, and the long view of things.

The kids are all right.

5. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

…As a competitive men’s player and a former Brier champion, I can only say that I am appalled and embarrassed that a province that has been there from the first competition in 1927 (which Nova Scotia won) and has been in every one since is now sidelined.

Even more appalling is the fact that our own curling association has no plan in place to assist competitive players with creating an action plan for a solution. Representatives hid behind closed doors while this competition went on and their only comment was no comment.

The Nova Scotia Curling Association is unable to conduct a fair championship with quality playing conditions. As a result, we are now sidelined. That’s the reason, in large part. I will not go into great detail in a letter to the editor, but I can tell you that there is a great amount of evidence that this association is failing miserably at its attempt to conduct a provincial championship. Some will consider this sour grapes, but I can assure you the proof that the championship is not conducted fairly and honourably is there. Combine that with our sub-par playing conditions and it’s a recipe for failure.

The proof is in the recent results: 2003: Silver; 2004: Gold; 2005: Silver; 2006: Bronze; 2007: 2W-9L; 2008: 3W-8L; 2009: 2W-9L; 2010: 3W-8L; 2011: 5W-6L; 2012: 4W-7L; 2013: 1W-10L; 2014: 0W-11L; 2015: Relegated out.

It wasn’t that long ago we were contending and winning. Something has happened and it would be great if the curlers and the association could work together to figure it out. Instead, the association does nothing and just hopes the problem will go away.

I encourage the NSCA to come out from under its rock and make a statement on what it plans to do to get Nova Scotia men’s curling back on track.

Mark Dacey, Halifax



City Council (10am, City Hall)—Today, council will finally get down to dealing with the proposed realignment of fire stations. I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via @hfxExaminer. Backgrounder here.


No public meetings.

On campus



The Influence of Ocean Emissions on Arctic Aerosol (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 5263, LSC – Psychology Wing)—Rachel Chang will speak.

Service-oriented architecture (Tuesday, 2pm, Goldberg Computer Science Building, room 430)—Kelly Lyons, from the University of Toronto, will speak. Her abstract:

Service science is the study of human, organizational, and technological systems called service systems which are defined as configurations of resources (people, information, organizations, and technology) adapting dynamically and connecting internally and externally to other service systems to bring about benefit or value. Many organizations and institutions can be viewed as service systems including universities, cities, hospitals, corporations, and libraries. The notion of the service system has become a central object in service science research and has been put forward as the most fundamental abstractionhal bruce of service science. In this presentation, I will define service science and service systems, present a framework for analyzing an organization as a service system, and describe results obtained from applying the framework to a library, several social enterprise organizations, and in disaster management.

Open Data and Open Governance in Canada (Tuesday, 4pm, Rowe 3089)—Jeffrey Roy will speak. His abstract:

As governments develop open data strategies, their efforts reflect the advent of the Internet, the digitization of government, and the emergence of meta-data as a wider socio-economic and societal transformational. This lecture will seek to both situate and examine the evolution and effectiveness of open data strategies in the public sector with a particular focus on municipal governments in Canada that have led this movement domestically. It will also delve more deeply into whether and how open data can facilitate more open and innovative forms of governance enjoining an outward-oriented public sector (across all government levels) with an empowered and participative society.

Rupture (Tuesday, 6pm, Room 1116, McCain Building)—Urs Heftrich, from the Slavic Institute at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, will talk on “Images of Rupture in Civilization Between East and West: The Perception of Auschwitz and Hiroshima in Eastern European Arts and Media.”

Roméo Dallaire
Roméo Dallaire

Roméo Dallaire (Tuesday, 7pm, Spatz Theatre, Citadel High School)—Dallaire will speak on the use of child soldiers in war:

The abuse of youth as weapons of war is a reality that can’t be resolved on the day soldiers face them in the field, nor is it acceptable to wait till after the abuse has happened to try to address the harm.

On March 10th, LGen Dallaire (ret’d) will discuss his ultimate mission, to end the use and recruitment of child soldiers. General Dallaire is achieving his mission through the organization he founded, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative at Dalhousie University. The Dallaire Initiative has created the world’s first prevention-oriented, security sector focused approach to ending the use of child soldiers in conflicts.

Entrance is $15, $8 for students. Proceeds go to the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and the Halifax-based organization, Sending Orphans of AIDS Relief.

James Raffan (Tuesday, 7:30pm,Archives & Special Collections Reading Room, Fifth Floor, Killam Library)—Raffan will read from his book, Circling the Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the Invisible Arctic.


Thesis defence, English (Wednesday, 8:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building)—PhD candidate Brad Congdon will defend his thesis, “‘How to be a Man, American Masculinities’, 1960-1989.”

Thesis defence, Computer Science (Wednesday, 9am, Room 403, Goldberg Computer Science Building)—PhD candidate Naureen Nizam will defend her thesis, “Using Social Media Data to Improve Navigation within Websites.”

Modelling with Pyomo and Gurobi Cloud (Wednesday, noon, Morroy Building – MA021)—”Several modelling languages exist, but their main drawback is their sensitivity to syntax (Gusek…) and difficulty to read the model once written. Modelling in python reduces the modeler’s time required given its intuitive nature as well as provides flexibility unavailable in other modeling languages. Also automation of the solving can be easily done, all the way from data extraction to data output. Pyomo supports several solvers (CoinOR, Gurobi, GLPK, etc.) and can quickly switch between them. Gurobi Cloud provides a low-cost option to solving large problems that are typically unsolvable using free solvers. A brief demonstration of the Gurobi Cloud using Amazon Web Services and the automation that can be done in conjunction with Pyomo will be shown.”

Sub-seafloor geologic sequestration (Wednesday, noon, Riley Room, Oceanography, Life Sciences Centre)—PhD candidate Sonja Bhatia will talk on “A fiber optic dissolved carbon dioxide sensor for monitoring of sub-seafloor carbon dioxide geologic sequestration sites.” Here’s a rather understated explanation of, well, of the end of the world:

Sub-seafloor geologic sequestration of CO2 is becoming more prevalent because of its potential to mitigate the effects of anthropogenic CO2 on climate. Leakage can occur within a five kilometer radius of the initial injection site, and can be harmful to the surrounding environment.

Greece (Wednesday, 12:30pm, Lord Dalhousie Room, Henry Hicks Building)—Emmanuel Sigalas, a Visiting Professor at Carleton University, will speak on “Parliamentarism in Crisis: The impact of the Eurozone crisis on the legitimacy and autonomy of the Greek Parliament.”

Electron Cryomicroscopy of Rotary ATPases (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building Link)—John Rubinstein, a prof at The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, will speak.

Saint Mary’s


Good news on the environment! (Tuesday, 11:30am, Loyola 177)—nine different speakers will, um, speak.


James Raffan (Wednesday, 5:30pm, Scotiabank Theatre)—”A Celebration in Support of Digital Earth.” More information on the poster.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Tuesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Tuesday. Map:


BBC Vermont, general cargo, to Pier 9
Atlantic Cartier, container ship, to Fairview Cove East
Graceful Leader, car carrier, Embden, Germany, to Autoport
Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, St. John’s to Pier 41
CSL Tacoma, bulker, Baltimore to National Gypsum


Atlantic Companion to sea
Green Cove to sea
CMA CGM Montreal to sea
Atlantic Cartier, to sea


I’m too far behind on everything, so I took out the “Noticed” section today. I’ll notice stuff today, and it will return tomorrow.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. It should probably be made a bit clearer that the HR Block out in Truro is a franchise (i.e. they’re probably just CYAing, and none of that is probably corporate policy). I know it’s not your point, but it deserves mention.

  2. I guess Jan Wong didn’t go on to explain her mistakes in her own ignorant youth to her Chinese hosts. That was where as an exchange student in Mao’s China, she, in a fit of exuberance denounced her room mate to the authorities for having doubts about the regime. The room mate was sent to a labour camp where she tried to commit suicide by drinking gasoline.

  3. Kudos to Scott Edgar for a SENSIBLE approach to fixing our badly broken transit system. Any organisation whose «management» could casually «overlook» the disappearance of MILLIONS of LITRES of FUEL OIL which later tuned up in the ground, costing mega-bucks to «remediate» is obviously INCOMPETENT. After a wholesale cleanout of the incompetents, we can maybe expect a little common sense and some listening to experienced public transit USERS to develop a system which ASSISTS rather than ABUSES its riders. And, PLEASE!!!! Fares to two decimal places OUT! Make it a TOONIE regular fare, and LOONIE special fares, and give the ticket-booth-deprived and coin-challenged public a break!

  4. I understand what you’re saying about the photographers and it’s not a good day when people lose their jobs but your argument made me wince a little.

    I’m thinking here simply about the borders of creativity, not Mr. Irving’s business plan, though the two may be intertwined.

    Remember the Beatles? They were interesting, in part, because they could play various instruments, sing, write, arrange and record their own songs. They were each also artists, entertainers and pretty good public performers. At the time that seemed unusual because those ‘jobs’, even writing and arranging, were separated… often by pretty strict union rules.

    Today, music works differently. Many musicians can do all these things as well as program beats and run small businesses.

    I use this analogy because I think music is a cutting edge industry. It was the first to go digital. It’s an industry that changes and pivots faster than others. So it’s a good bell-weather.

    I think there are lots of folks who can write well AND take great photos… and edit them and have the digital skills to share them. I think we should appreciate multi-diciplinary creative skills even if we don’t like the Beatles. Like it or not, I’m thinking the future is about this kind of army-of-one, technology assisted creative work. There’s something to be said about using people, small groups and teams to bridge the creative divides artificially constructed in the age of industry bowing the perceived efficiency benefits of specialization of labour. Again using the music example, how many bands have succeeded by forming very small creative groups to bridge those creative gaps? Lots! Often around a single multi-disciplinary talent. But the idea’s not new. We can call it daVinci-esque.

    Creativity is seldom bordered and I don’t think it should be.

    1. Well, if you could stretch a council meeting out over, say three days, and freeze the action so I can put down my notebook, pick up the camera and go around and take photos, then come back, push the “play” button and have councillors start their debate again… sure, I could do both.

      Your analogy doesn’t work. You’re suggesting that Paul McCartney write songs EXACTLY AT THE SAME time as he’s playing a gig.

      1. Well, I tried. I’m pretty sure you understand my point and why it’s important. Thank you sharing your experience.

  5. Good piece on photography. Anyone caught in a similar situation (needing photographs and lacking some skills) I would recommend Eric Boutilier-Brown ( He does excellent work one on one to give you the skills you immediately can use. And no I am not related to him in any way. He did not pay me to say this. Haha.