1. PC Leadership race

A supporter attempts to hand out Cecil Clarke swag. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Reporter Jennifer Henderson attended the Progressive Conservative Party’s annual general meeting Friday night. Former leader Jaimie Baillie was notably absent, but Henderson heard from each of the five prospective future leaders, who positioned themselves such that Henderson dubbed them “The Reformer” (Tim Houston), “The Woman” (Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin), “The Dark Horse” (Julie Chaisson), “The Honest John” (John Lohr), and “The Cheerleader” (Cecil Clarke).

Click here to read “With Jamie Baillie off the stage, PCs hear from leadership hopefuls.”

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2. Peter Stoffer

Peter Stoffer, Tim Bousquet, and Megan Leslie. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Another woman is publicly accusing Peter Stoffer of sexual harassment while he served as a member of parliament,” reports Andrew Rankin for the Chronicle Herald:

Ingrid Deon, 36, was a newly hired Nova Scotia NDP caucus staffer when, she said, Stoffer propositioned her after a fisheries-related community meeting at the Meteghan fire hall on March 8, 2007.

Deon said she was approached by the then Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook MP after the meeting, which extended well into the evening, and was invited to stay at his hotel in Digby.

The pair, along with then NDP Queens-Shelburne MLA Sterling Belliveau, were to attend another meeting together in the community the next day.

“I can’t remember if he said, stay in the room with me, or stay with me, but the offer was made with a wink and a grin,” recalled Deon on Sunday. “It was not innocent at all. He knew what he was doing.”

“We are at the very beginning of a seismic culture shift,” comments Stephen Kimber:

And men like Peter Stoffer — who may have assumed they were playing by rules that now suddenly no longer apply — will inevitably pay a price while the ground shifts and the rules change. That is necessary, and not necessarily unfair.

Click here to read “Peter Stoffer: former MP, former hugger, accused groper.”

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3. Abdoul Abdi

Abdoul Abdi as a child.

Abdoul Abdi’s lawyer, Benjamin Perryman, issued the following release over the weekend:

The Federal Court will hear an emergency request this week to temporarily stop the deportation of Abdoul Abdi.

Mr. Abdi had asked the Minister of Public Safety to press pause on the deportation hearing while the Federal Court hears a constitutional challenge of the Minister’s decision to deport. The Minister refused this request and instead asked the Immigration and Refugee Board to proceed with a deportation hearing.

The Board is not allowed to review the Minister’s deportation decision and must issue a deportation order in Mr. Abdi’s circumstances. There is no right of appeal.

A deportation order automatically strips Mr. Abdi of his permanent resident status, including the right to work and the right to healthcare. As a result, Mr. Abdi will be unable to continue in his new job. There is a significant risk he will be returned to prison because working is a condition of his release.

Mr. Abdi argues he will be irreparably harmed if he is stripped of his rights before having the merits of his court case decided. He won his first court challenge in October and believes his current case will also be successful.

The Court hearing to request a temporary stop of the deportation is scheduled for Thursday Feb. 15 at 9:30am in Halifax. Mr. Abdi’s constitutional challenge is still in the early phase and the Court has not yet decided if or when there will be a full hearing.

4. A very necessary railroad, or not

The Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway line. Photo: Rick Grant

“Do my eyes deceive me, or has even the Cape Breton Post become a bit skeptical about the great Sydney container port project?” writes Mary Campbell:

All it took was port developer Albert Barbusci suddenly playing down the importance of a functioning railway to their project. As the paper reported Thursday:

Efforts to bring a container port and logistics park to the Sydney area are not entirely dependent on a Cape Breton railway, says the head of the firm with the exclusive marketing rights to Sydney harbour.

You see, Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP), Barbusci’s firm, has two container port plans:

“One is trans-shipment, where we will use short sea shipment down the coast, but it won’t be as ideal for us as port developers and operators because the rail complements the other side, so the ideal option would be a combination of moving cargo by rail and short sea shipping,” said Barbusci.

Campbell goes on to show how Barbusci is contradicting everything that has been said about the proposed container terminal thus far. She continues:

But even if you accept all those whoppers at face value, you’re still left with a port development proposal that seems pretty dependent on a functioning railway. Port of Sydney CEO Marlene Usher seemed pretty certain it was when she spoke to the Post on January 31 about that above-mentioned rail study, for which the Port had forked over $90,000 (although they had initially hoped to fork over $460,000):

Usher said all of the upgrades would take about two years to complete. She said the railway is not only vital to a container terminal but to the development of manufacturing, mineral and agricultural sectors in Cape Breton.

“Obviously, it’s essential for container terminal but I would go further and say that it’s essential for all forms of commercial, economic development,” she said.

How does rail go from being “vital” and “essential” to the development of a container terminal to something the project is “not entirely dependent on” in the space of eight days?

Click here to read “Rail Schmail.”

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5. James Power House

James Power House (Superintendent’s Building)

This morning, the city issued a tender offer for more restoration work for the James Power House, the old Superintendent’s House for the Public Gardens. Back in 2013, a staff report to Halifax council explained:

1606 Bell Road is an elegant two-storey brick building situated on the corner of Bell Road and Sackville Street. It is valued for its association with Public Gardens’ superintendent Richard Power and Halifax architect James Charles Dumaresq; and for its uncommon mix of Queen Anne Revival and Classical Revival architecture. Constructed between 1902 and 1903, the building was originally a residence for the superintendent of the Public Gardens (a large public formal garden), replacing the former residence that had been condemned. It is the only heritage structure of its kind within HRM. Further, as a heritage value, the building assists in the telling of the story of the Public Gardens.

The Power House, or Superintendent Building, was designated as an HRM Heritage Property in 1989…

There has been no major restoration of the façade of the Superintendent Building. The masonry has deteriorated to the point where bricks are falling out and water is penetrating the building and causing mould and rot within the wood structural walls. In July 2013, a tender to complete repointing of the external brick façade was issued… [but] … during project initiation, very significant deterioration of the wood structure was uncovered which requires the tender to be cancelled and a revised tender issued. The work was inspected by the architect and HRM Project Manager. In several areas on the east and south elevation, the wood timbers have decayed such that there is no longer structural capacity to address the building loads. The architect prepared a report….

The reason that this building came forward as a priority is twofold:

1. With a Facility Condition Index of 92%, the building is in need of immediate recapitalization work; and

2. During the original budgeted exterior recapitalization, the structure was found to be completely deteriorated requiring a comprehensive recapitalization to save the building.

Council at that time approved a “recapitalization” plan to restore the building, at a total cost of about $1.7 million, and issued a tender for the brick work for about half of that budget. Most of the remaining work has been completed, and Halifax council budgeted $250,000 this year for what I think is the last of the work. So after this work is done the building can be considered saved.

6. Wanderers Ground bleachers

The city also this morning issued a tender offer for bleachers to be installed at the Wanderers Grounds. This initially confused me — Sports and Entertainment Atlantic is responsible for the costs and storage of bleachers for the proposed “temporary stadium” at the Wanderers Grounds. But the tender is just for six sets of five-tier bleachers, which can’t possibly hold more than a few hundred people, so presumably the current plan is simply to replace the small bleachers that were on the site before the field was rebuilt.

7. Thin-skinned planners

Tristan Cleveland is a professional urban planner who doubles as a columnist for Metro. This has led to a problem, he writes:

I have been found unethical.

On Jan. 17, I received a letter informing me that Halifax Transit filed an ethics complaint against me to the Licensed Professional Planners Association of Nova Scotia about my column, “Tristan Cleveland: Halifax Transit isn’t listening to experts.” I stand by that column.

The Association held that I violated the code by making, “ill-considered and uninformed criticism” (violating 1.2 and 3.5 of our ethics codes). In particular, they took issue with this line: “Fundamentally, my concern… is that they feel they already have the answers, when there is so much this city needs to learn.”

Turns out that concern was valid. A year ago, council voted to have an outside consultant suggest changes to the Moving Forward Together Transit Plan. Six months later, Transit came back saying they didn’t think they needed anyone else’s opinion. Council had to tell them to get it anyway.

Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler has also been following this issue, and wrote a recap of the situation last June:

Six months ago Halifax Regional Council unanimously requested a report on hiring a consultant to review the corridor routes of Halifax Transit’s Moving Forward Together (MFT) plan. You may remember reading about it here.

On Wednesday, June 7, that report will come to the Transportation Standing Committee with a recommendation that existing Halifax Transit staff be responsible for reviewing their own work in the Moving Forward Together plan (which incidentally, the report notes, they were planning to do anyway).

The report outlines a weak case on why Halifax Transit staff would be preferable to an outside consultant to conduct a review of MFT: Halifax Transit staff are good, qualified people who know the system better, the report offers, as if there were no value in a fresh perspective, and as if our transit staffers, with all their knowledge and expertise, wouldn’t be involved in the process at all.

This is clearly a report written by a transit agency that is hostile to the idea of outside help, and as much as I hate to say it, that’s a clear red flag for problematic leadership. Does Halifax Transit head Dave Reage understand how defensive it sounds to refuse input from an outside expert? It’s almost as if Reage isn’t confident in what he’s created with Moving Forward Together, and so is unwilling to hear any potential criticism of it, which an outside perspective might bring.

Council subsequently forced Transit to hire the consultant, and I guess someone at Transit wanted to lash out at the pesky newspaper columnists, and Cleveland’s membership in Licensed Professional Planners Association gave them the opportunity.

8. Chris Enns and his wife

In this 2014 photo, Chris Enns smoked a joint on the steps of the Halifax Police Station. Photo: Hilary Beaumont

This is a strange story from CTV:

A well-known marijuana activist is speaking out after he says his wife was beaten and kidnapped during a home invasion in East Chezzetcook, N.S.

Police were called to Chris Enns’s home around noon Friday. The RCMP said two people in the house were attacked with a weapon.

He told CTV News that his wife was asleep when their home was invaded early in the morning Friday.

“She was tied up, she was beaten with some sort of weapon and with the butt of a gun, she was at the house, they were in search of something that simply wasn’t at the house… some sort of cash, some sort of cannabis product… we don’t keep those things in our house,” says Chris Enns.

I don’t know why CTV or Enns didn’t name his wife. I know her, and her name, and I thought it was fairly public, but maybe they want some privacy, so OK, but if so why go to the media? It confuses me.

I went out to the house as a reporter, when I was working for The Coast. It was a small, unassuming house in a strip of other small, unassuming houses. The house was surrounded by cute gardens, and there were a couple of friendly dogs running about. I interviewed the dogs for a while, and then seven or eight people gathered to talk to me at the dining room table. They passed around a gigantic joint. I was working, and driving besides, so declined, but the contact high…

Anyway, I’ve always found Enns and his people harmless. They are cannabis evangelists, which can sometimes seem a bit over-the-top and a bit silly — no, cannabis doesn’t cure cancer (but it definitely can help with the side effects), and we’re not going to power all the world’s combustion engines on cannabis oil — but so what? There are far worse things to be obsessed with.




Bus Rapid Transit – Open House (Monday, 2pm, 5:30pm, Halifax Central Library) — all about BRT proposals.

North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, Goffs Fire Hall) — Hertz Canada wants to build a garish “display lot” in Enfield.


City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — I haven’t had time to read the agenda yet.


No public meetings.

On campus



Health Inequalities (Monday, 1:30pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — Audrey Layes from the Public Health Agency of Canada will speak on “Drawing a Portrait of Health Inequalities in Canada: The Pan-Canadian Health Inequalities Reporting Initiative.”

Asmita Sodhi. Photo: masu.ca

Integer-Valued Polynomials on 3 × 3 Matrices (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 227, Chase Building) — Asmita Sodhi will speak. Her abstract:

In this talk we will visit (or revisit, as the case may be) the world of integer-valued polynomials, first defining them for a subset of the integers, as well as defining Bhargava’s p-orderings and $p$-sequences. We will then see how the idea of maximal orders can allow us to extend Bhargava’s tools to the noncommutative case of integer-valued polynomials over the ring $M_n(\mathbb{Z})$ of $n\times n$ integer matrices. In particular, we will examine the case of the $3\times 3$ matrices.

Senate (Monday, 3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — the agenda.


Information in Mass Media (Tuesday, 8am, MacInnes Room, Student Union Building) — from the event listing:

The 12th annual student-run Information Without Borders Conference (IWB) will explore the changing place of information in mass media across multiple disciplines, including libraries, journalism, social media, and entertainment. It will also provide an opportunity for interdisciplinary and inter-organizational discussion on this topic for a variety of professional and student attendees.

$25 for students, $105 for professionals and community members. 

Register here.

More info here.

Joan Baxter. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Introduction to Environmental Law Lecture (Tuesday, 10am, Room 238, Life Sciences Centre) — Joan Baxter, author of The Mill, will speak.

Type Inference for Quantum Lambda Calculus (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Marzieh Bayeh will speak.

Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — agenda.

YouTube video

Simon and Laura (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — a screening of Muriel Box’s 1955 film.

Saint Mary’s


The Lynn Jones African-Canadian and Diaspora Heritage Collection (Tuesday, 5:15pm, Room LI135, SMU Library) — Lynn Jones will talk about her collection.

YouTube video

Science in Exile (Tuesday, 6:30pm, in the theatre named for a bank, in the building named for a grocery store) — a screening of Nicole Leghissa’s 2017 film.

Steven Heighton (Tuesday, 7pm, room 170, Loyola Academic Building) — the Governor General’s Literary Award winner will read.

In the harbour

11am: Catharina Schulte, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Lisbon, Portugal
3:30pm: Heroic Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5:30pm: Goodwood, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
8pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
Midnight: Ijsselborg, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 27 from Szczecin, Poland


Yesterday was an exhausting travel day. I’m going back to bed.

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

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  1. “We will then see how the idea of maximal orders can allow us to extend Bhargava’s tools to the noncommutative case of integer-valued polynomials over the ring $M_n(\mathbb{Z})$ of $n\times n$ integer matrices. In particular, we will examine the case of the $3\times 3$ matrices.”


  2. CBRM needs only to look at what happened to HRM when it comes to orphan rail corridors. Today HRM wants LRT to bolster it transportation profile…. but they gave up the majority of rail corridors to put in walking paths. Walking paths are nice; but LRT would be a lot easier and effective to implement if those orphan corridors were still available today.

    Cape Breton may not need the rail corridor today but you can bet 20 years in the future they will find a use for it. Never give up existing rail corridors they were put in place with an eye on future transportation requirements and that concept is not dead simply because there appears not requirement today.

    Never give up or remove the potential that existing rail corridors offer… once they are gone, it can be impossible or significantly expense to recreate in the future.