In the harbour


1. Clayton Cromwell

Clayton Cromwell. Photo: via the Chronicle Herald
Clayton Cromwell. Photo: via the Chronicle Herald

Elizabeth Cromwell has filed a lawsuit against the province related to the death of her son Clayton in the Dartmouth jail, reports the Chronicle Herald.

Cromwell was jailed for breaching his court conditions. A few weeks before his death he was brutally attacked by another inmate and was hospitalized. Jail officials have told his mother that Cromwell died from a methadone overdose, but she’s been given no documentation for that claim. Moreover:

In an interview Monday, her Halifax lawyer, Devin Maxwell, said they received a copy of the Justice Department’s internal review into the death the day before they filed the lawsuit.

“It didn’t change our statement of claim in any way, it didn’t change the nature of our claim or the fact that we would proceed with the claim,” Maxwell said.

The report, however, revealed that another overdose had occurred the day before Cromwell’s death in the unit where he was housed.

“I guess the biggest surprise that I really didn’t know about until now is that the report makes reference to the fact that the cells at the Burnside jail were equipped with intercoms and that those intercoms were intentionally disabled by prison staff at some point,” Maxwell said.

“It’s unclear why but my sense is that it’s probably because it was too easy for prisoners to buzz the correctional officers. That’s the sense that I get. I don’t know that the report specifically says that, but it does say that there were intercoms in each cell and that those intercoms were disabled at the time that Clayton died, and they’d been disabled intentionally.

“Clayton wasn’t alone in his cell. His cellmate could have contacted a correctional officer had that intercom been working.”

The lawsuit points at administrative shortfalls at the jail, among other issues.

2. Ship of Theseus

Photo via @RWJBoon
Photo via @RWJBoon

The Ship of Theseus sailed yesterday, sorta. It’s the one in the background.

3. Teenager

Multiple media outlets are reporting on the case of a violent 14-year-old girl whose family attempted to have the girl admitted to the IWK Health Centre, but who was turned away because she was deemed not a threat. An ensuing argument outside the hospital resulted in police being called to the scene. Then the girl was arrested because she allegedly assaulted four cops; she was taken to lockup, and then a few hours later police brought her back to the hospital because they believed the girl was a danger to herself. The IWK then admitted her.

The police are being praised for behaving reasonably, and lots of criticism is being ladled on the IWK.

The issue raises concerns about how admissions are made at the IWK, the pressures of decreasing budgets leading to rationing care, and the perceptions of and attitudes towards mental health among health care professionals. These are all important societal concerns and legitimate journalistic material.

But through the reporting, media outlets have made clear the full name of the girl. That’s not entirely their fault — we wouldn’t even know about the situation were it not for a twitter campaign using the hash tag “#help” followed by the girl’s first name, and reporters eventually interviewed the girl’s mother and so used her last name.

I know I’m being old school about this, but we have journalistic principles for a reason. We rightly don’t publish the name of children involved in the court system because children do not have the mental capacity, self-control, and wisdom to be fully responsible for their actions. Add in a layer of mental illness, and there’s even more reason to not use their name.

We don’t publish children’s names because, hopefully, they grow up. Young criminals mature, learn self-control and the importance of community, understand why it’s important to be contributing adults. Young people with mental illness are, hopefully, treated; the unique and byzantine chemistry of the individual brain is understood, or at least dealt with, and they can move into the adult world to be fully participating citizens.

Our society is slowly coming to terms with mental illness, and we’re realizing that there’s nothing shameful about it and that it doesn’t betray a character flaw. But we’re not there yet. Naming a girl as mentally ill who just a few years from now will likely have her illness under control and move into the adult working and social world burdens her unfairly.

There were ways to report this story without using the girl’s name. Jessica Flower at the Chronicle Herald and Zane Woodford at Metro stand out for doing it correctly. Others, not so much.

Passionate twitterers can be excused for naming a teenage girl dealing with mental health problems; professional reporters cannot.

4. Artificial turf

FIFA officials show off the Women's World Cup turf at BC Place. Photo: CBC
FIFA officials show off the Women’s World Cup turf at BC Place. Photo: CBC

The city has issued a tender for the expansion of the artificial turf at the Mainland Common.

I had a internet discussion with my American friends yesterday about artificial turf. This came up after players at the FIFA Women’s World Cup complained about the artificial turf:

After Sunday’s Norway vs. Thailand game, Norway midfielder Lene Mykjåland voiced her discontent about the short, dry turf, which she said made it difficult for either team to “get a decent tempo and rhythm.” The playing surface was watered using two fire hoses instead of the standard sprinkler system.

When the tournament kicked off Saturday, the temperature of the playing surface was reportedly 120 degrees, despite the fact that it was a pleasant 75 degrees that day in Edmonton. That’s because artificial turf, a combination of rubber and plastic, gets a lot hotter than natural grass. Natural grass, on average, stays 20-30 degrees cooler than its artificial counterpart. 

This comes after a lawsuit challenging FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association’s decision to keep artificial turf for the tournament. Though the complaint, which was supported by high profile national players, was withdrawn in January 2015, concerns remain about the safety hazards of playing on turf and the gender discrimination that may have been behind the decision.

The turf temperature on Saturday was just two degrees below what’s considered “unsafe for sustained use by trained athletes,” according to a study cited by the Las Vegas Sun. 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that playing on turf results in more fatigue and injuries than on natural grass. 

This will be especially true when high turf temperatures could cause heat radiation to tire players more quickly than natural grass would. A 2006 survey found that 74 percent of NFL players felt artificial turf was responsible for more fatigue than grass. The turf will be the medical team’s primary concern in the tournament, Dr. Bojan Žorić told Sports Illustrated.

Besides heat-related injuries, the lawsuit filed against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association raised broader health concerns. As US national team player Abby Wambach told the Associated Press:

Not only do soccer balls move differently on natural grass, but injuries are also less likely, players say.

“This is the pinnacle of our sport,” said Wambach, 34, a fixture on the national team since 2003. “As an older player it’s not only my job but my responsibility to make sure the sport be played on the very best surface for the very best tournament of our careers.”

Wambach says that players can’t slide into tackles as they normally would because of potential injuries to their knees and legs, and they certainly risk getting hurt on hard landings from diving headers.

And, yes, the complaints about artificial turf are coming from the very best elite players. Still, in Nova Scotia, and especially in Halifax, nearly all fields used for children’s soccer have been converted to artificial turf.

In my discussion with my American friends, they were astounded to learn that the use of artificial turf was so widespread in Nova Scotia. To a person, they and their children abhor it. The play is considered too fast, the field conditions dangerous. And that attitude seems to have been adopted by the bureaucrats in the places they live, resulting in very few artificial turf fields being constructed. (I don’t pretend that my friends are a representative sample of all of the United States, but still.)

I raise this issue not because I’m an expert on injuries related to the various types of turf, but rather because I don’t think anyone has even considered it. So far as I can determine, no one has bothered to investigate the potential health effects on the children using the fields. If real grass is safer, we should know. And if artificial turf presents a significantly higher risk of injury to children, we should stop using it.


1. Gables

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald romps around southwest Nova Scotia and looks at gables.

2. Boycott

Here’s Jordi Morgan, VP of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, trying to walk back CFIB president Dan Kelly’s tweet blasting the United Way for — horrors! — funding a study to find out how much money a family needs to survive on:

CFIB’s President Dan Kelly then weighed in on Monday on Twitter, questioning the United Way’s association with the CCPA, which caused a bit of a stir.

There was an ensuing kerfuffle in the media, followed by the usual assortment of anonymous Twitter trolls and union activists weighing in, culminating in the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour issuing a news release on Thursday, condemning CFIB for launching a “boycott” of the United Way, which is, to put it mildly, nonsense.

Here’s Kelly’s tweet:

CFIB tweet

Nonsense, to be sure, but it’s not the “Twitter trolls and union activists” (why don’t you just call them “thugs,” Jordi?) who are spouting it. If “rethink participation” doesn’t mean “boycott,” I don’t know what does.

 3. Rationing health care

Parker Donham publishes the thoughts of an unnamed correspondent who provides a detailed analysis of how the Nova Scotia government is able to curtail health care costs by rationing service. Take for example, his or her analysis of wait times for hip and knee replacement surgery:

Just how bad is Nova Scotia’s performance on joint replacement? The worst in Canada. The chart below compares Nova Scotia’s CIHI data with the other provinces. The red field represents Nova Scotia’s bush-league performance last year. Green cells denote the top performers. Check out the dismal discrepancies.

wait times

Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2014 Waittimes,

The 50th percentile means half of all patients had to wait longer than the number shown. The 90th percentile means 10% had to wait longer than the number shown. CIHI defines waittime as “the number of days a patient waited, from the booking date to the date the patient received a planned total (joint) replacement. Booking date is when the patient and the appropriate physician agree to a service, and the patient is ready to receive it. But that’s not the only wait. It can take months to reach that doctor-patient agreement—the average for Halifax is 140 days.

CIHI created benchmarks to improve performance, but Nova Scotia has had a death grip on last place since at least 2008. In the intervening seven years, we ranked dead last in 35 of 42 performance data points. In other words, we’ve had 42 opportunities to be the worst in the country, and accomplished that distinction 35 times.

The anonymous health care critic goes on at great length, with more charts. See the whole thing here.



Harbour East Community Council (6pm, Dartmouth Sportsplex) — lots of development proposals.


No public meetings.


Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.43.05 AM

If you wanted to waste your entire work day, there are worst ways to do it than playing with the New Yorker cartoon generator.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:45am Tuesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:45am Tuesday. Map:

Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, St. John’s to Pier 41
Dionysos Leader, car carrier, Bremerhaven, Germany to Autoport
Fundy Rose, ro-ro cargo/passenger ship, to Pier 9. This is the ferry that normally sails between Digby and Saint John. Presumably it is coming in for repairs (Pier 9 is adjacent to the Irving Shipyard).

The cruise ship Norwegian Gem pulls into port today. I don’t have time to research it, alas.


Preparing for, participating in, and enjoying the social activities related to the Canadian Association of Journalists conference last weekend left me exhausted, and I’ve been off my game for the past week. Turns out, I’m not in my 20s anymore; I can’t take these ass-kickings like I used to, as someone once said. (That’s the best bad movie ever made.)

Anyway, I’m recovering.

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

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  1. NS cares more about the bottom line. Artificial turf is more valuable to the ones who don’t play soccer but want to profit from it. Two of my children played soccer. One is paying and playing his way through Uni, hopefully all the way if he doesn’t get injured or ill from the playing fields. The sport is rife with typical, political “hierarchy” and the question “Is artificial turf unhealthy?” won’t get asked unless those in a “position of power” (aka money talks) want it asked.

  2. Great reminder to all Tim, re: Integrity. You definitely walk the walk. Thank you for that.

  3. One good thing about the artificial turf is that no one brings their dog to use the bathroom on it 10 minutes before 100 – 6 year olds arrive to roll around, sit and play soccer on it.


    Runaway Train is one of my personal favourites as it captures so well the essence of existential defiance, an inextinguishable rage against the irrationality of existence and a determination not to give in, or back off, or bow down just because it is easier or “makes sense.” This is something that all true revolutionaries have had and always need. It is in perilously short supply these days. (See The Age of Acquiescence by Steve Fraser.)

    Or, as Lenin noted, quoting Marx, who quoted Danton, what we need is: de l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours l’aucdace.

    P.S. The essence of this existential refusal to submit is captured more constructively in Pontecorvo’s film Battle of Algiers–which is used by American counter revolutionary trainers to give their recruits a quick insight into what they are up against. It should be enough to make them quit. Alas, it doesn’t.


    Link to a number of posts outlining the artificial turf trend in the US and the creeping realization that they are not cost effective. It’s an example of corporatizing more and more of society. Instead of school board or city maintenance crews being employed in the maintenance of natural fields (or maybe at worst a local small business landscaping company), now a big check goes to a outside company along with ongoing maintenance fees.

  6. “Naming a girl as mentally ill who just a few years from now will likely have her illness under control and move into the adult working and social world burdens her unfairly.”

    While I appreciate journalistic standards about naming young people, in this case, the child has a significant developmental disorder (FASD) and she will almost certainly never move into the adult working world and social world.

    Without proper support it is far more likely that we will, in fact, learn her first last name the way we learned about Nichelle Benn and Ashley Smith.

    That said, I do respect the important difference between professional journalism and passionate twitterers.

  7. “no one has bothered to investigate the potential health effects on the children using the fields”

    That’s probably true but the soccer moms and dads talk about it regularly. I don’t know any fans of Wickwire.

    And there’s probably a lot of research on turf’s impact on the pros. After years of being an injury-plagued team, the Toronto Blue Jays are switching to natural grass in 2018.

  8. Artificial turf is the WORST. For the bureaucrats it’s the best. No maintenance, no groundskeeper. Who cares if someone breaks a leg? Risk management has been consulted, the lawyers are happy, the proper releases have been signed and the illusionary budget is balanced and they get their salary increase.

  9. Just to throw something into the artificial turf mix, I would like to mentionis the actual mix of sand and shredded tire rubber. I’m not sure it is still the case, but it is my understanding that at one time the contractors who installed the most common brand of artificial turf, used silica sand. Probably no big deal in regard to outdoor fields, but when used for poorly ventilated indoor facilities, logic would tell me that it very well could be a health hazard. just a thought.