1. Deforestation Inc: Pictou First Nation

Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul in full regalia and headdress, in front of other Mi'kmaq chiefs in full regalia stands in front of a microphone and behind them all is a banner saying No Pulp Waste In Our Water at a 2018 "No Pipe" rally in Pictou. Photo courtesy Gerard J. Halfyard
Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul addresses many hundreds of fishermen and protesters at 2018 “No Pipe” rally in Pictou. Credit: Gerard James Halfyard

We’ve published the second instalment in Joan Baxter’s Deforestation Inc. series. Reports Baxter:

Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul recalls the events of that morning as if it were yesterday.

It was June 10, 2014 and Pictou Landing First Nation (PLFN) community members were just learning of the pulp effluent spill. As word spread, they headed to the site, gathering at Indian Cross Point on the edge of the East River on the Pictou Harbour shoreline in northern Nova Scotia, where 47 million litres of untreated and highly toxic effluent had spilled on Mi’kmaq burial grounds.

Chief Paul tells the Halifax Examiner she remembers PLFN member Tonya Francis lighting a sacred fire and holding a water ceremony for healing at the site, while others formed a blockade on the main road, shutting down the mill. 

The 3.6-kilometre long effluent pipeline carrying the effluent from Paper Excellence’s Northern Pulp mill on Abercrombie Point to the Boat Harbour treatment facility had ruptured.

In the words of Judge Del Atwood, who later fined Northern Pulp $225,000 for the spill, the pipeline break was “an accident waiting to happen.” There were “visible cracks, leaks, and extension erosion of the pipeline at the rupture site” and that section of it hadn’t been inspected since 2008, despite several leaks of the pipeline in previous years.

For Pictou Landing First Nation, the 2014 pipeline break was just the “latest environmental insult” to their territory.

Judge Atwood, quoting Chief Paul, noted that the spill, “triggered anger and fear” which could only be understood as part of the decades-long environmental degradation of PLFN territory, beginning with the construction of the pipeline when the pulp mill was built in 1967, and then the transformation of their precious estuary “A’se’K” (meaning “the other room”) into Boat Harbour, a toxic pond full of reeking pulp effluent.

It was one of the most egregious cases of environmental racism in Nova Scotia.

Click here to read “Paper Excellence and the ‘environmental insult’ to a First Nation community.”

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2. Roxham Road asylum seekers come to Nova Scotia

A white woman with brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, wearing glasses, and a striped blouse sits at a dark wooden desk in a conference room. Behind her is a video screen with the blue Nova Scotia logo, and beside her are two blue, white, and yellow Nova Scotia flags.
Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration Jill Balser at a press conference on Thursday, March 2, 2023. Credit: Jennifer Henderson

“A bus carrying 50 asylum seekers arrived in Halifax on Wednesday bringing the total number of refugees diverted to Nova Scotia from an unofficial Quebec border crossing at Roxham Road to 113,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Some of the refugees who entered Canada from the United States are from Turkey, Haiti, and Pakistan, said Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration Jill Balser. But those aren’t the only countries. 

Balser said the province began having discussions with Ottawa “early in February” about the possibility of welcoming and settling refugees. That was after Quebec Premier François Legault wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to close the back road between New York state and Montreal because the flow of illegal migrants was placing a severe strain on Quebec’s ability to provide for them.

Thousands of people are believed to have walked across the border in the past few years. The three other Atlantic provinces have also stepped up to offer homes for people displaced by wars and natural disasters.  

Click here to read “Nova Scotia welcomes asylum seekers who entered Canada from Quebec’s Roxham Road.”

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Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

This item is written by Tim Bousquet.

Yesterday, Nova Scotia reported eight more deaths from COVID, recorded during the most recent reporting period, Feb. 21-27.

Two of those eight people died during the Feb. 21-27 reporting period, while the other six deaths predate it (i.e., they died before Feb. 21). There were likely more deaths that occurred in the reporting period, but we won’t know about them until future reports.

We won’t know the age or vaccination status of the newly reported deaths until March 15, but in general, 90%+ of those who die from COVID are 70 years old or older, and unvaccinated people are dying at about three times the rate of fully vaccinated people.

So far, through the pandemic, 796 people in Nova Scotia have died from COVID, 311 of whom have died since July 1, 2022.

Additionally, during the Feb. 21-27 reporting period, 26 people were hospitalized because of COVID.

Nova Scotia Health reported the COVID hospitalization situation as of yesterday (not including the IWK):
• in hospital for COVID: 16 (five of whom are in the ICU)
• in hospital for something else but have COVID: 93
• in hospital who contracted COVID after admission to hospital: 49

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4. Weather

Here’s a picture of a dog in the snow. I have no idea why this photo is in our photo library.

There was weather last night. Schools are closed. Buses start running at 10am.

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5. Billionaire John Risley won’t pay his credit card bill, says Amex

John Risley, chair of the totally non-partisan Atlantic Institute of Market Studies.

Billionaire John Risley owes $67,769.82 on his American Express Gold Rewards credit card, says Amex Bank of Canada in a claim filed in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia* on Tuesday.

Amex says Risley racked up the bill “to purchase and have the benefit of goods and services, but failed to make payments” under the terms of the Cardmember Agreement.

The credit card carries an annual interest rate of 30%, compounded monthly, says Amex.

Risley has not yet responded to the claim, which has not been tested in court.

* as originally published, I misidentified the court.

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6. RCMP constable charged with indecent exposure

A sign for SIRT, the Serious Incident Response Team

A release yesterday from the Serious Incident Response Team:

The province’s independent Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) has laid one charge against a member of the RCMP – Baddeck Detachment.

SiRT was contacted on December 13, 2022, by the RCMP concerning an investigation they were conducting in relation to an Indecent Exposure that was alleged to have occurred in 2021. SiRT commenced an investigation into the matter and has deemed that a charge is appropriate in the circumstances.

Cst. (Terrance) Justin Sanford will face a charge of Indecent Exposure contrary to section 173(1) of the Code. Cst. Sanford is schedule to appear on April 28, 2023, at 9:30am at the Sydney Provincial Courthouse.

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7. Cabinet briefs

Two women sit at a desk with Nova Scotian flags behind them. A sign reads "for better, faster care."
Health minister Michelle Thompson (left) and Dr. Christy Bussey announced modernization of hospital records in January. Credit: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson spoke with cabinet ministers after their meeting yesterday.

Click here to read “Cabinet briefs:  Another 4,100 patients losing family doctors, no word on carbon tax rebates.”

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8. $4.4 million cost increase in Halifax Water project

A map of the north end of the Halifax penisula
Fairview Cove Trunk Sewer Credit: Halifax Water

In order to handle more sewage coming from new developments in the Fairview area, Halifax Water is expanding capacity in a sewer trunk line that runs along the Bedford Highway and then enters a tunnel that leads to the Duffus Street pumping station along the Narrows. There’s a bottleneck in the system at a pump near the Fairview container terminals, and replacing that pump is causing headaches.

“In February 2021, a total project cost of $18,625,000 was approved by the NSUARB to proceed with the construction phase of the project,” writes Halifax Water Acting General Manager Reid Campbell in a report to the Utility and Review Board:

Several factors have resulted in the increased total project cost since February 2021. Stakeholder identified challenges with alignment and land acquisition have resulted in additional consultant efforts. The construction cost estimate has been revised and increased since the November 2020 estimate. The construction cost increase is largely allocated to the current global economic situation and factored in required adjustments with incorporating a reduced construction easement footprint requested by HPA. Additional costs were also realized with CN Rail due to the proximity of work near their Right of Way (ROW) and increased rail traffic in the Fairview Port area since the time of the original estimate.

The updated detailed design resulted in a revised total project cost of $23,061,000. This amount is greater than the original total project cost of $18,625,000 and it is estimated that an additional $4,436,000 is required to complete the project. Please refer to the attached Table 1 – Total Project Cost.

The project is identified as a growth-related project in the current IRP, with 75% funding allocated from the Regional Development Charge reserve account, and the remaining 25% funding allocated to normal utility funding, based upon the benefit to existing customers.

I don’t quite understand how existing customers who have been receiving adequate sewage service benefit from increasing capacity in a line in order to handle new development, but there it is.

Halifax Water was made an independent agency in part to take heat off elected city councillors. If city council had a cost overrun of $4.4 million, it’d be front page news for months.

Anyway, you can read the entire report here.

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Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am, City Hall and online) — agenda


No meetings

On campus


Disability Inclusion Policy in Praxis: Notes from the Mental Health Field (Friday, 12pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building, and online) — Jijian Voronka from the University of Windsor will talk

Composition Lecture & Workshop with Alice Ping Yee Ho (Friday, 2:30pm, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — the composer will discuss her multi-media works including her “cross-cultural” operas, dance, and percussion theatre compositions

Firms’ Organizations and the Minimum Wage (Friday, 2:30pm, Room 2184, McCain Building) — Nicholas Lawson from Université du Québec à Montréal will talk

Saint Mary’s

Performing Democracy in the Graveyard (Friday, 12pm, online) — The Gwangju Uprising, Mangwoldong Cemetery, and South Korea’s Affective Space for Democracy; info and registration here

In the harbour

15:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England (itinerary)
19:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
19:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 42 for St. John’s

Cape Breton
No arrivals or departures.


I’m cutting Morning File short because I’m already late with shovelling.

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

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  1. Re Halifax Water costs: Arguably, existing customers benefit from the maintenance aspect of installing a newer pump. More likely, however, is that this is just one of the many ways developers pressure the city to subsidize the costs of new development. The city would likely be growing much slower if new builds had to recover all the infrastructure costs associated with building and servicing them.

  2. Re: Halifax Water project: That’s a lot of sewage flowing right into a combined sewer, which will occasionally overflow into the harbour. Ugh, I wonder if they have an estimate on separating the sanitary and storm sewer along that stretch?

    1. The way I understand it is that the new pipe through Fairview is a dual pipe, separating storm water and sewage. At least, the document states that there will no increase in discharges from the Duffus Street CSO.