This date in history
On campus
In the harbour


1. Economy

“Federal shipbuilding contracts and offshore oil exploration will boost Nova Scotia’s economy by 2.3 per cent next year, the Conference Board of Canada says,” reports the Chronicle Herald:

The increase in the province’s gross domestic product will follow estimated growth of 1.8 per cent in 2015.

Natalia Ward, economist with the board’s provincial group, said Monday the board is also predicting a 1.7 per cent hike in economic activity in 2017.

“Overall, Nova Scotia is looking at a very sunny outlook, much better than the province has seen just recently,” she said in an interview from Ottawa.

Adds the CBC:

The Conference Board expects Nova Scotia’s manufacturing sector to see “robust gains” in 2016 and 2017, and cites work taking place on the Arctic patrol vessels by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax as a reason behind the optimism.


In 2016, the construction sector should also enjoy good times. The Conference Board says both residential and non-residential investment should see double-digit increases. However, it cautions construction activity should slow in 2017 as several large-scale projects come to an end.

Unfortunately, not much context or analysis is given for the forecast. To begin with, it used to be assumed that the GDP would grow by two percent or so a year, forever, so if the forecast is right, we’re basically getting back to the kind of economic growth we used to take for granted. The Chronicle Herald’s headline calls this “rosy.”

But far more important than the GDP percentage increase is how that growth is distributed. It doesn’t matter if the economy grows by three or five or even 10 percent if all the increased wealth goes to the Irvings and McCains and the average person finds his or her pay not keeping up with inflation — as will be the case for public employees, for example, if the Liberals successfully impose their proposed contracts.

No doubt there will be more people employed because of the shipbuilding contract, and some of those jobs will be better paid than the average job in Halifax. But who are getting the jobs? Are they the people recruited in Scotland or local high school grads learning trades? How are the minority recruitment goals pledged to by Irving playing out?

I’m especially interested in the CBC’s comment about double-digit increases in residential development. Who’s investing that money? I can’t wrap my head around it — it makes no sense to me that Halifax’s meagre population growth can sustain the kind of development we’ve been seeing the past five years. I can’t help but think that much of the money going into residential development is either what Alan Greenspan called “irrational exuberance” (an investment bubble), or money laundering, or outright fraud — probably some combination of all three.

The commercial development boom makes even less sense. The Conference Board recognizes that when the Nova Centre opens in 2017, there will be a complete cessation of office space construction downtown, reminiscent of the development collapse after Purdy’s Wharf opened. Downtown is tremendously overbuilt, albeit there’s probably still money to be made in suburban office buildings.

There’s going to be a day of reckoning, and it won’t be pretty. Expect half-completed buildings rotting in the elements, bankrupted developers, empty and boarded-up office buildings, and wannabe high-end condos turned into instant slums.

But, hey, it’s good while it’s booming. Those construction workers get paid OK, and there’s money sloshing around the real estate world. Good times if you can grab a piece of the action. If not, nobody cares about you anyway.

2. Police body cameras

A Los Angeles Police officer wearing an on-body camera. Photo: Bloomberg
A Los Angeles Police officer wearing an on-body camera. Photo: Bloomberg

Yesterday’s police commission meeting agenda included a presentation on the possibility of equipping Halifax police with body cameras, but the presentation was postponed to January due to staff scheduling conflicts.

A lot of people, including many police chiefs (I haven’t spoken with Chief Jean-Michel Blais about them, however), like the idea of body cameras, but they raise privacy issues — not just for the cop wearing a camera, but also for the public generally. Does the cop get to turn the camera off when going to the bathroom? Can he or she have no private conversations at all? Will bureaucrats use the cameras to micromanage employees’ time? What can the public get through the Freedom of Information Act? If I’m stopped and questioned by a cop, does that appear on tomorrow night’s news?

My initial response to body camera proposals is that they’re an attempt to throw technology at a problem that can better be solved with better hiring, improved training, and meaningful citizen oversight. I could change my mind with more information, which is why I’m looking forward to the discussion.

3. Irving v CBC

New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, Eilish Cleary. Photo: CBC
New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, Eilish Cleary. Photo: CBC
New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, Eilish Cleary. Photo: CBC

It’s off the Examiner’s path, but CBC reporter Jacques Poitras is doing great work covering the firing of New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health:

New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health was working on a study of the controversial herbicide glyphosate when she was put on leave, CBC News has learned.

Dr. Eilish Cleary wrote to a Kent County resident in August that her office would be “developing a plan to further explore” the herbicide, which is used in New Brunswick by forestry company J.D. Irving Ltd. and by NB Power.

The Irvings demanded a retraction from the CBC for Poitras’ articles, and the CBC told the company to shove off.

4. Fireballs

Photo submitted to the CBC by Michael Boschat
Photo submitted to the CBC by Michael Boschat

“If you happened to be in the right place at the right time on Sunday night in Nova Scotia, you may have seen two fireballs light up southern skies,” reports David Irish:

Turns out the fireballs weren’t meteors. They were sections of a rocket booster that broke up as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere shortly after its launch in Florida. 


1. Pedestrian fines

Amy McLay Paterson wrote The Coast’s “Voice of the City” piece yesterday, about the increased fines on pedestrians.

McLay Peterson does a fine job getting into the issue, but all that aside, she demonstrates a wisdom beyond her (apparent, by her photo) years:

I am a seven-year-old child, racing across the street to catch the school bus.

I am drunk, stumbling home after a party. I am wise enough to leave my car keys, but too forgetful to save money for cab fare.

I am getting older; I’ve always been responsible, but my memory and reaction time are not what they used to be.

I am not myself today—my head is foggy with medication. It’s hard to concentrate, but I can’t afford to take a sick day.

I am distracted. I just had a huge fight with my boyfriend, my grades are in the toilet and I don’t know if I’ll make rent next month.

Sometimes when I discuss the pedestrian issue on Twitter or whatever, someone will respond with something like, “yea, you might be right, you might have the right-of-way, but it doesn’t matter — if you step out into the crosswalk, you’ll get killed by the speeding car, so you’re a dumbass stupid person for not paying attention.”

Which is correct. But it’s the argument of an asshole: “I can destroy you, so it’s your fault if you get in my way.”

It’s good to see McLay Peterson bring some humanity and empathy into the equation. Those who are powerful in whatever way need to look out for those who are less powerful. The rich have an obligation to provide for the poor. The healthy should tend to the disabled. Those driving around machines that can run people over need to look out for those people, slow down and tread with care.

As the comedians say, we either punch up or punch down, and which way we go speaks to our character.

And Derek Simon gets into the details of the increased fines, and explains why they’re overkill.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

What justification is there to continue jacking up the price of gas at the pumps while the price of a barrel of oil continues to decline? Would the Utility and Review Board please explain to customers in layman’s terms how it arrives at the price of gas based on a barrel of oil that fluctuates in the $40 range, the lowest in a very long while?

Gerald C. Boudreau, Île Morris



City council (10am, City Hall) — council will spend two hours talking about donairs, then break for lunch. Afterwards, there’s a full agenda. As usual, I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.


Legislature sits (1–6pm, Province House)

This date in history

On December 8, 1917, the first relief train from New England arrived in Halifax, carrying doctors, nurses, and supplies to treat survivors of the Halifax Explosion.

On campus


Thesis defence, Biology (9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jose Sergio Hleap Lozano will defend his thesis, “Comparative Quantitative Genetics of Protein Structures: A Composite Approach to Protein Structure Evolution.”

Thesis defence, Chemistry (2:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Joseph Padmos will defend his thesis, “Understanding the Structure of Silver Nanoparticles and its Influence on Surface Reactivity.”

Global Warming and the oceans (2:30pm, Needler Boardroom / Room VS-427, at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth) — Chris Harley, from the University of British Columbia, will be speaking on “Global warming, ocean acidification, and the importance of shifting species interactions in coastal marine ecosystems.” I’ve gotta be at City Hall, but otherwise I’d go to this.


Someone asked me why I sometimes include astronomy photos in Morning File, and I responded “why not?” I dunno, it’s early and I’ve gotta sit in council chambers all day listening to ridiculous people talk about donairs, so a little awe and mind-blowing first thing in the morning reminds me that my tiny spec of the universe is inconsequential in the scheme of things, and that somehow helps get me through the day, ya know? Anyway…

Image Credit & Copyright: Elizabeth M. Ryan; Rollover Annotation: Judy Schmidt
Image Credit & Copyright: Elizabeth M. Ryan; Rollover Annotation: Judy Schmidt

NASA explains:

Legends collide in this dramatic vista of land, sea, and sky. The land is Iceland, specifically Vík í Mýrdal, a southern village known for its beautiful black sand beaches. The sea, the Atlantic Ocean, surrounds Reynisdrangar, a sea stack of eroded basaltic rock pillars that Icelandic folklore tells are the petrified remains of trolls once attempting to drag a three-masted ship onto land. Watching from overhead and shining bright on the upper right is the god of the sky, according to Greek mythology: the planet Jupiter. Also visible in the sky are several other Greek legends encapsulated as constellations, including a lion (Leo), a big bear (Ursa Major), and a water snake (Hydra). One might guess that all of this commotion caused the spectacular aurora pictured — but really it was just explosions from the Sun.

Explanatory links and more photos at the NASA site. Best viewed if stoned.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Tuesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Tuesday. Note the two green ships passing the Sable Island oil field (the four blue ships are offshore vessels); the first green ship is the Dalian Express, followed by the Dallas Express. The swarm of orange and pink boats off Yarmouth are lobster boats. Map:

Oceanex Sanderling, St. John’s to Pier 42
Skandi Flora, offshore vessel, to Pier 9
Dalian Express, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove, then sails to sea this afternoon
Dallas Express, container ship, Rotterdam to Fairview Cove; sails to sea tomorrow morning


I hate 10am meetings.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. RE: This date in history

    Those kind New Englanders. I wonder what the year was when Upper Canada saw fit to discoonect us from New England by train? There is no longer any train line to New England from here, you would have to go to Montreal, first. Let’s hope there’s isn’t another Halifax Explosion.

  2. I consider myself a very cautious and considerate pedestrian. I never dart out in front of cars. I always wait to make sure they’re going to stop for me first at a crosswalk. And I usually walk quickly if I know a car wants to turn, and especially if I see a bus. (I guess I have a soft spot for public transit.) I think both Derek Simon and Amy McClay Paterson make some great points. In reading people’s comments, there appears to be some ambiguity surrounding the definition of jaywalking and other pedestrian rules. I know when I got my driver’s license, I had to take a test. I had to know what the rules were. They were spelled out in a book.

    If I am to get ticketed for jaywalking, I’d like to know exactly what that means. For instance, I found out recently that starting to cross in crosswalk when the hands start flashing was against the law, even if there are no cars in sight, and/or I have a PLENTY of time to cross, as is the case at the intersections of Queen and South street, near McKeen Manor. (Five seconds after the walk sign comes on, the hands start flashing, probably because they’re timed for older people. But it’s ridiculous for someone who can walk at a normal pace. And seriously, what’s with those stupid push buttons? What purpose do they serve? I still can’t figure it out. Why can’t we get rid of them?)

    I found this crosswalk safety Adult Quiz:

    This quiz was based on laws found in the Motor Vehicle Act. So if one doesn’t have a car and/or doesn’t drive, where should she go to find this information? Since most everyone can walk by the time they’re two, when and where do we teach this stuff? I never learned any of it in school, and I walked around all of the time. If ignorance of the law really is no excuse, and if people are going to get dinged with a bill that’s equivalent to a rent payment, then we should probably first eliminate the ignorance for everyone—maybe have the rules accessible at HRM stations and/or libraries? Should we teach it in schools now?

    1. Good link to the crosswalk safety quiz. The answer to question 6, however, says that it is not illegal to jaywalk in Nova Scotia.

      “If a pedestrian crosses a roadway at any point other than within a crosswalk he or she shall yield the right of way to vehicles. But if there is no vehicle present there is no restriction on a pedestrian crossing a roadway at any place. The important point is that if in doing so you cause a vehicle to have to brake, you have just broken the law.”

      Also, careful when parking your horse that you don’t block sight lines.

      1. Well, the supposed definition of jaywalking is when a pedestrian crosses a roadway where regulations do not permit doing so. So I guess, according to Nova Scotia, as long as you don’t cause traffic to have to stop or slow down for you, you’re technically not actually jaywalking when you cross in the middle of the road or not at a “crosswalk”.

        So I guess when there is no traffic at the intersection of Queen and South but the hand starts flashing anyway, and/or if I don’t press the walk button in time, I’ll simply walk down a bit and cross over and, therefore, will not be at risk of getting fined my rent payment for the month. Problem solved. Whee!

  3. The price of gas is pretty cheap right now, not sure what Mr. Cranky Letter is talking about. Considering out dollar is about 73c US right now, and much of the refining is done in the US, I’d say we’re doing ok.

  4. Concerning the police, there are no privacy issues.

    As a non-police officer (note I did not say “citizen”, cops are citizens as well) there is no situation where you have less privacy then when a cop is around. We are all better off when there is a recording of what it was.

    It is easy enough to produce a system which might not guarantee complete access control, but complete auditing of access. This might be a singularly good situation for outsourcing of IT operations.

  5. «««“Overall, Nova Scotia is looking at a very sunny outlook, »»»

    ERR… how much confidence should we give to the prognostication of someone so deprived of clear thought that she utters this poorly-constructed rhetorical drivel???

  6. I’m in definite favour of the astronomy photos, myself. They’re a refreshing break from nasty donair photos. Carry on!