On campus
In the harbour


1. Weather

It’s April 15, and we have weather.

2. Film tax credit

Premier Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Premier Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Screen Nova Scotia has announced the results of a PricewaterhouseCoopers economic impact study of the film industry in Nova Scotia in 2014:

The study reports that in relation to film industry activities in 2014, the Nova Scotia government provided funding of $23.5 million via the former Nova Scotia Film Tax Credit. The report estimates that an annual contribution from the industry activities in 2014 contributed directly and indirectly $179.4 million to the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the same year. PwC estimates the industry directly supported 1,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in 2014, with an average salary of approximately $43,000. Another 1,600 Nova Scotians found income and employment working indirectly for the industry, as service providers or suppliers. The total estimated labour income for those 3,200 workers was approximately $137 million.

Screen Nova Scotia didn’t release the full study, but just the results, and there are interesting reasons for that.

I’m told that PWC was hired, at nearly $100,000, to conduct the study because PWC is the “go-to” firm for government — it’d be difficult for the Liberals to discount the results of a study conducted by the same firm that gives cover to the programs supported by government.

I’m also told that after PWC finished and delivered its report to Screen Nova Scotia, PWC rewrote it to change the numbers downward, but as a gigantic legal battle unfolded, with lawyers threatening other lawyers, the report was rewritten again, reverting back to the original. Some people suspect that the Liberals tried to interfere with the report. Still, I’m told, PWC refuses to allow Screen Nova Scotia to release the full report.

However, someone leaked the report to Local Xpress, which has published it here.

“Among other findings in the report are,” write reporters Michael Gorman and Andrea Nemetz:

  • the industry employed 3,200 people in 2014, with an average salary of $43,000. About 1,600 of those jobs were full-time equivalents and 1,600 were indirect jobs.
  • the industry has had steady growth over the past two decades, and local production share increased to 88 per cent in 2014 from 56 per cent in 2010.
  • individuals working in the screen industry are relatively young, highly educated, entrepreneurial and more likely to have moved to the province from elsewhere compared with the overall provincial labour force.

In an interview with the CBC’s John Laroche, Premier Stephen McNeil held fast to his decision to kill the tax credit:

Some members of province’s film industry say all the changes have led to many people in the film industry leaving Nova Scotia to find work.

“Very proud of the investments we’re going to make in low income Nova Scotians, very proud of the investments we’ve made with the business driving job growth and economic opportunity, those are the things that are being ignored,” said McNeil.

“You can’t do it all, you can’t say that we’re going to subsidize one sector to 65 cents on the dollar and ignore everybody else.”

When Laroche suggested moving on with the interview, the premier refused and said this was a “pet project” of Laroche’s and he appreciated it.

2. Brick

Now imagine it in brick.
Now imagine it in brick.

“Proposed changes to the design of the Nova Centre got mixed reviews at a meeting of the municipality’s design review committee on Thursday,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:

One by one, members of the committee expressed their distaste for the look of the brick, with one, who said he’s a structural engineer, pointing out that it could leak in the future.

Argyle Developments’ Joe Ramia presented the changes to the committee, and argued the brick would make the building fit in better with those around it.

He also told the committee it’s a “very special brick.”

“It is a specialty brick that’s never been used before in this market,” he said, adding that it comes from Boston.

After the meeting, he told reporters he’d be bringing samples of the brick to the next committee meeting.

I’m so going to the next meeting.

3. Spies

“The U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has shed a little light on the information Canadian spy Jeffrey Paul Delisle was selling to the Russians,” reports Stephen Puddicombe for the CBC. Delisle was paid $3,000 a month by the Russians to hand over classified Canadian Navy reports.

Puddicombe put a lot of work into this story, filing dozens of Freedom of Information requests with various US federal agencies. The results are a little thin:

The unredacted parts of the documents focus on St. John’s. The U.S. State Department wrote the criminal threat for all Canadian cities is low, except Vancouver which was “moderate.”

U.S. security agencies also warn about violence in the George Street area of St. John’s, recommending American military personnel walk in pairs or in small groups for safety reasons.

They also mentioned concerns about crack, cocaine and ecstasy, prostitution and motorcycle gangs from other provinces that are often in the area.

I would’ve warned the Russians about George Street for half the price.

 4. Innovation watch

The most absurd use of “innovation” yet is reported in the Kings County News under the headline “Innovating to decrease sexual violence: Grants for Southwest Nova Scotia groups announced“:

Six new projects with a goal of preventing sexual violence in the Annapolis Valley and South Shore areas received grants April 12 through the province’s Sexual Violence Strategy.

“Important announcement” was what Acadia Students’ Union president Suzanne Gray called the event. Kings South MLA Keith Irving echoed her.

Irving, who spoke on behalf of Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard, announced more than $70,000 in Prevention Innovation Grants for organizations that work with young people.


The Prevention Innovation Grants are part of the province’s Sexual Violence Strategy. A total investment of $1.2 million has been promised.

Community Services says approximately 100 applications were received for the grants, which aim to “support community groups and organizations, including youth and underserved populations such as African Nova Scotians, First Nations, and the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community, to reach out to their peers and help put creative prevention initiatives into practice.”

I’m not criticizing the programs, and of course addressing sexual violence should be a high priority. It’s appropriate for government to fund such programs. But how is addressing sexual violence “innovating”? It’s basic human decency, and not at all a new concept.

I guess in order to get government funding for anything, we now need to slap an “innovation” label on it.


1. St. John’s 1966

“It was impossible to unsee the recent images of a car hanging to the side of Signal Hill in St John’s Newfoundland,” writes Stephen Archibald. “The car looked so tiny and foreign against that giant mound of rock. Got me remembering when I worked on Signal Hill in the summer of 1966 (50 years ago but who’s counting). It you are interested, I  can show you some snapshots of my youthful adventure.”

This is a fun photo essay. Two pics stand out:

Once we hired a fisherman from the picturesque community at the base of Signal Hill  to take us just outside the harbour mouth to watch nets being pulled. Lots of hand labour and lots of fish.

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

The best game of chance I’ve ever seen was a large table edged by boards with numbered holes. Each hole had a carrot sticking through it. The crowd bet on  their favourite carrot and then a rabbit was released. The first carrot to be nibbled won.

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

I love the framing of that last photo — buddy’s ear, how the spectators’ attention is drawn not to the rabbit but to the betting table, and why aren’t the hole numbers sequential?

2. Leap manifesto

Richard Starr details the alarmist language of the reporting around the Leap manifesto, which was debated at the NDP’s leadership convention last weekend. He points out:

Some of the document’s key bits of “madness” that will be up for discussion by NDP riding associations include:

  • respect the rights of First Nations, starting by fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  • move to 100% renewable electricity within 20 years;
  • transition to a fossil free economy by 2050;
  • end infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future;
  • end trade deals that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects;
  • expand non-polluting economic activities such as day care, education and the arts;
  • implement a system of universal basic income
  • raise new revenue through a carbon tax, higher taxes on large corporations and wealthy and a financial transaction tax.


Despite its rough passage in Edmonton, the manifesto will be discussed by hundreds of riding associations across the country. The results of those discussions will inform the policy resolutions leading up to the next NDP convention in two years. Since the manifesto summarizes so many things on which New Democrats already agree, some discussants may decide to zero in on the pipeline issue and bring forward some ideas that help to solve the dilemma that has so far eluded everyone – how to transition successfully to a low-carbon future in which everyone (with the possible exception of Big Money and Big Oil) is a winner.

I am increasingly thinking we are living in one of those apocalyptic movies, where the nuclear missiles will be launched in an hour, or a comet in route to smashing the Earth to smithereens is detected a few months out and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. If I remember Miracle Mile correctly, when you know the end of the world is imminent, you just have sex with whoever you’re in the elevator with and that’s the end of it. In the case of Lucifer’s Hammer, when you have a few weeks before Armageddon, you follow some religious nut.

But what happens if you find out the end of the world is, say, a decade out? How would have Medieval Europeans acted if they knew, in 1350, that in coming decades half their world would be fallen by the Black Death? What did the Easter Islanders think when they were erecting that last statue?

We don’t really have to guess about how we would react to the certain knowledge of impending doom, because we all have knowledge of our own deaths, which in the scheme of things are imminent. Mostly, we are in denial, and we ignore the sad truth. Some people go on health binges, a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable. A few pray to some sky god and invent absurd afterlife scenarios.

In the case of the coming climate Armageddon, which increasingly looks like it will destroy the bulk of if not all of humanity a few decades out, we are in complete and utter denial. Some literally so — they invent a science that denies the possibility. But mostly we know the truth but just ignore the issue. Like the health nuts, maybe a few people get excited about Earth Hour, as if that will accomplish anything. The churches were discredited long ago, so that’s only an option for the foolish and delusional. But thanks to our adventures in Afghanistan, there’s lots of heroin, so there’s that.

Yeah, sure, let’s build more pipelines and dig up the tar sands. Why the fuck not? Nobody gives a shit anyway.

Sorry, kids.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

If you are planning to visit the CBRM solid waste site in Sydney make sure your vehicle is a 4×4.

I made a trip there on April 13, was sent up the hill to dump my trailer and discovered the conditions were deplorable. There was at least 12 inches of mud in some areas.

I realize the weather has been wet lately but as a local contractor paying $80 per ton (and I’m just one contractor) I believe a very small portion of the revenue the CBRM generates from contractors alone should be more than ample to have a dozer go up there and distribute some heavy gravel. 

It’s a tough go owning a small business and I think the municipality should seriously look at another option for tipping fees. I feel that $80 dollars per ton is just gouging the small guy. It should be a set rate per load or should go by volume as opposed to weight. For example, if I were to take my trailer to the waste site full of roofing shingles it would be roughly two tons which would cost $160. Now if it were a full load of styrofoam or insulation it might be a quarter ton which would cost only $20. It would be the same volume and it all goes in the same pile on the hill. 

I have had numerous discussions with the solid waste manager about this but to no avail. 

I don’t know exactly how many contractors are in the CBRM but the revenue generated from just contractors alone on a yearly basis would have to be more than six figures. It could even be higher. 

I think this issue should be seriously discussed at a council meeting. This is my opinion only. I can’t speak for any other contractors but I am sure this will raise some eyebrows among other contractors and more importantly it should among the mayor and council. 

Paul O’Toole, North Sydney

The Government and On Campus sections are compiled by Kathleen Munro.



No public meetings.


Legislature sits (9am, Province House)

On Campus

The Road to the NATO Warsaw Summit: How to Strengthen NATO and Enhance European Security (12:30pm, University Hall, MacDonald Building) — Robert Kupiecki will discuss the influence a stronger NATO could have on European security.

In the harbour

Halifax Harbour, 9:10am Friday. The tugboat Glenside is followed by the Chebucto pilot boat are leaving the harbour, en eroute to meet an unidentified and unmapped US naval boat.
Halifax Harbour, 9:10am Friday. The tugboat Glenside is followed by the Chebucto pilot boat are leaving the harbour, en eroute to meet an unidentified and unmapped US naval boat.

Unnamed US Naval Vessel arrives at 9:30am. It might be carrying nuclear bombs, so if you hear a big boom today…
Tokyo Express, container ship, Rotterdam to Fairview Cove at 6pm

Dinkeldiep, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 to Saint-Pierre at 1pm
ZIM Haifa, container ship, sails from Pier 42 to sea at 10pm


YouTube video

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

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  1. “Yeah, sure, let’s build more pipelines and dig up the tar sands. Why the fuck not? Nobody gives a shit anyway.”


    Thank you for saying what no one else seems willing to say. The only thing unreasonable about the Leap Manifesto is that the measures it recommends don’t go nearly far enough to save us from ourselves. To paraphrase an old saying, climate change is (ironically enough) like the weather – everybody talks about it but nobody does anything about it. Okay, so that’s not entirely true, there are a lot of people doing an awful lot, but most of us are fiddling while Rome burns.

    Berta Gaulke

  2. I would be shocked to find out that PWC would risk its billion dollar global reputation to appease a pissant Premier like McNeil (or a marginally lucrative jurisdiction like Nova Scotia).

    “I’m also told that after PWC finished and delivered its report to Screen Nova Scotia, PWC rewrote it to change the numbers downward, but as a gigantic legal battle unfolded, with lawyers threatening other lawyers, the report was rewritten again, reverting back to the original. Some people suspect that the Liberals tried to interfere with the report. Still, I’m told, PWC refuses to allow Screen Nova Scotia to release the full report.”

    i’m also “told” by my favourite cab driver that he has been abducted by aliens several times. I’m all for advocacy journalism (that’s why I support you), but you have some stones to suggest that PWC is going to flush an international reputation because of pressure from the Maytag Man.

      1. Yes! This I can take seriously. But Tim’s “people have told me” and “some people think…”. is not journalism, in the way that “Missy says chain refugee muslim” is not journalism.

  3. Where is your facebook page please?

    How Trickle Down Economics Has Impacted Me.
    Further to the Film Tax Credit that Stephen McNeil’s govt dumped: In 2014 the credit to the industry was $43 mill. The GDP in jobs created and income to people in and out of the industry amounted to $179 million. I am one of those affected people. Many of my paintings were rented out as ‘props’ to films. The hundreds of artists who have work at the Teichert Gallery – Art Sales and Rental in Halifax had paintings rented for films and ultimately purchased. The Gallery’s operating revenue has suffered as the film industry was a regular customer.
    This has hurt the gallery to the point that artist commissions for rental and sales will be reduced.
    So, not only are artists’ incomes reduced through fewer sales, their percentages on those sales are reduced too. And the future of the Gallery is threatened along with the revenue and exposure of over 200 Nova Scotian artists.
    That means less money for me to purchase local products and services that bring $ into our community.
    There is an excellent article in today’s Halifax Examiner about it which links to the full report.…/birthday-party-cheesecake…/

  4. What kind of sucker Newfoundland (fishermen) drag in nets without the help of Newfoundland (dog)?

    Slightly more seriously: was someone shooting a new Bond movie in St. Johns?

  5. PS – Also, the figure you are quoting as the cost of the study is inaccurate. This was an analysis commissioned and paid for by the Canadian Media Producer’s Association (CMPA), as information for the Industry stakeholders and government relations. ScreenNS and our membership did help to pay for the work in part, but nowhere near what your source reported to you.

  6. Thanks for covering the Screen Nova Scotia economic impact report, Tim. As the new Executive Director I have learned a lot in a short time from all the information that was collected, and all the work that was done preparing for the release on Thursday.

    I know there was a lot of public interest in the study, and deservedly so given the stark contrast of the report compared to what the Premier is heard to say.

    However, there was no gigantic legal battles, no lawyers calling each other, and no political interference that I saw. Yes, the report continued to be edited and last minute details confirmed as PwC worked to ensure they delivered to us the tightest and most complete analysis possible.

    I sincerely appreciated their attention to detail, and have confidence that this gives us an accurate and insightful report which will help us deliver our goal of getting these 3200 Nova Scotians back to work in an industry that (now) should undisputably be recognized as a great benefit to the province.

    Thank you again for the coverage, and I hope this was helpful. Call, DM or reach out to me anytime.


        1. Thanks for the response, but I should have been more specific.

          Will the report be released *to the public*? If not, why not?

          1. The terms of the study between PwC and CMPA, with our agreement, was to create this detailed work for Industry stakeholders and for our use with government. It’s not standard practice for details on studies like this to be released to the general public. If you have questions that you can’t find answers to in our summary, please email me at

    1. Thanks for the clarification Erika. Do you know what (if any) reports of economic impact of the film tax credit were considered by the government?

        1. With respect, Erika, I don’t think your answer is adequate. Why on earth would SNS, which is waging a campaign for *public* support of its opposition to cuts in *public* spending on the film tax credit (a campaign I support, btw) withhold from the public an accounting report on the industry’s impact? There’s no privacy concern.

          Tim reports above that PWC wanted it withheld because of its potential to embarrass a more lucrative client (the *public’s* government), and the dispute got so extreme, lawyers were called in. And the report starts off with a mealy-mouthed disclaimer saying, “We looked at XYZ, but we didn’t look at QRST, so don’t you dare take this as policy advice for government.” Which lends support to Tim’s account.

          I hope SNS will reconsider and be more forthcoming about the contents of the report and the details of its dispute with PWC. I hope Tim and others will do more work on this.

          1. Hi Parker – I was the one that worked most closely with the report as it was finalized, and would have known if there were any lawyers called, or any extreme disputes. There wasn’t. Regarding your worry about the disclaimer, throughout the document the writers consistently made it clear when they were working with solid facts and when they needed to make estimates, and showed the reasoning they used to get there. This is all standard stuff, and quite helpful. I’m interested in the contents of the report, which I think are pretty good. There are some areas here that we can work with, as we focus on what we need to do to get this $180m industry working again, and the 3200 people back on their feet.

  7. Think of all the fossil fuel wasted by those attending the NDP convention.
    By the way, my power bill is $70 lower than the same period a year ago and my heating oil bill is also lower, but it doesn’t compensate for the lower value of my oil company shares. I wish I had the point racked up by Avi and Naomi.

  8. “Prevention Innovation Grants” is a rather nonsensical term with an unfortunate acronym: “P.I.G. to help decrease sexual violence”. Well, the headlines do basically write themselves.