1. Election

I have it on good authority that on Friday the Liberals purchased a whack of ads for May, so it looks like we’ll have a late May or early June election.

2. Bulldozing neighbourhoods is a Canadian value

Photo: Kristine Benjamin / Facebook

“Kellie Leitch says she’s standing up against Canada’s ‘elites,’” notes PressProgress:

But a close look at fundraising records shows Leitch’s war on the elites is actually bankrolled by many of Canada’s wealthiest and most powerful people — everyone from the CEOs of corporations and big banks to the owners of country clubs, collections agencies, even a guy who bulldozed homes in a working-class neighbourhood to build a bigger parking lot for his Honda dealership.

That “guy who bulldozed homes” is none other than Rob Steele:

Leitch’s only top donor from Nova Scotia is Robert Steele, whom Vice described as Halifax’s “Chad-Krogeresque multi-millionaire auto oligarch” when he triggered a local uprising last year after buying rows of hundred year old homes in a north-end working-class neighbourhood and tearing them down to build a bigger parking lot for his Honda dealership.

In addition to running “Colonial Honda,” Steele also owns and operates dozens of radio stations across Canada.

3. Examineradio, episode #105

Hilary Beaumont

Former Halifax journalist Hilary Beaumont has grown into one of the few dedicated environmental reporters in Canada.

Now based in Toronto and writing for Vice News, Beaumont has recently covered stories such as the Standing Rock protests in South Dakota, the Arctic’s rapidly-melting permafrost, and the ridiculous number of permanent boil-water advisories across the country.

Also, the Centre Plan and its many exemptions limps toward a final approval in 2018, how will it look for Haligonians to get high, and Matt Whitman’s weekly dose of dumb, dumb shit.

[iframe style=”border:none” src=”//″ height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]

(direct download)
(RSS feed)
(Subscribe via iTunes)

4. Engineering students show off their creations

Susan Barney (right) and her team. Photo: Chris Lambie

Reporter Chris Lambie dropped by the Capstone Conference at Dalhousie University Thursday. The conference gives engineering students who are about to graduate a chance to demonstrate their problem-solving skills, and Lambie talked to students who have developed a new stem cutter for a blueberry nursery,  a cardiovascular pump, a new buckwheat-based gluten-free beer (photo above), robotic fingers, and more.

Click here to read “Engineering students show off their creations.”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

5. Bulldozing neighbourhoods

Photo: Municipal Archives

Speaking of bulldozing neighbourhoods, the municipal archives has published a whack of photos taken by the former Works Department, documenting the “urban renewal” of downtown in the mid-20th century:

This was a period of great change in Halifax, initiated by Gordon Stephenson’s 1957 “Redevelopment Study of Halifax”. His urban renewal plan for the city, sometimes labelled slum clearance, cleared run-down residential areas for commercial development. The Works Department’s activities, including these photographs, were part of how the City implemented Stephenson’s report.

Projects like the Central Redevelopment Plan cleared the way for the development of Scotia Square, the Cogswell Interchange and the Metro Centre. Several large-scale construction projects are also documented in this series of photographs.

The photos show a lost Halifax, a city that was human in scale.

I could get lost in the photos for hours (and probably will), but Cassie Williams, reporting for the CBC, gets into some of the ethical issues raised at the time:

Building inspectors were told to find the buildings that didn’t meet code. They’d then submit their reports to the committee on works, who would evaluate the reports and hold public hearings for any buildings slated for demolition. The buildings would then be torn down within a period of 30 days to six months — at the owner’s expense. 

“It was clear as you read through the committee on works minutes, it was clear that they too were struggling with the ethics of some of what they were doing because they were displacing low-income families and most of these families didn’t have an alternative low-income rental option,” said [archivist Sharon] Murray.

There are some fantastic buildings that were taken down, including the Pentagon building:

Photo: Municipal Archives

While the streetscape photos are interesting, I’m particularly taken by the shots of the interiors of businesses:

Felice’s Barber Shop. Photo: Municipal Archives
Felice’s Barber Shop. Photo: Municipal Archives
Silver Dollar lunch counter. Photo: Municipal Archives

Click here to see the entire collection.

6. Death of a (former) anarchist

William Powell. Photo: Facebook

Last week, the New York Times published an obituary of William Powell, the author of the Anarchist’s Cookbook.

There’s a very tenuous Nova Scotia connection to Powell, as, reports the Times, “on July 11 of last year, he died of a heart attack while vacationing with his family near Halifax, Nova Scotia:

His family reported the death on Facebook, but few if any obituaries followed. His son Sean said that the people who needed to know had been told, and that the family had not thought of reaching out to newspapers.

It was not until last week that his death became more widely known, with the theatrical release of “American Anarchist,” a documentary about Mr. Powell. His death was noted in the closing credits.

The obituary relates that Powell was a troubled young man:

Mr. Powell told [filmmaker Charlie] Siskel that after his father was transferred to Britain, he attended a school where bullying was commonplace and where the headmaster had caned him. When the family returned to the United States, he said, he felt alienated as an outsider. His fifth-grade teacher mocked his British accent. At a prep school in Westchester County, N.Y., he said, he was molested by the dorm master.

He was working at a bookstore in Greenwich Village in late 1969 when he decided to quit his job to research and write “The Anarchist Cookbook.”

“My motivation at the time was simple,” he wrote in The Guardian. “I was being actively pursued by the military, who seemed single-mindedly determined to send me to fight, and possibly die, in Vietnam. I wanted to publish something that would express my anger.”

But Powell came to regret writing the cookbook. The obit continues:

His early teaching focused on children with emotional and learning needs. He moved overseas in 1979 and worked in Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Indonesia and Malaysia, teaching marginalized children and training teachers in how to better include them in the classroom.

A public “Remembering William Powell” Facebook page (which relates that Powell died after spending the day on the beach in Ingramport) is a remarkable testament to a man who was obviously loved and respected around the world. People have posted accounts of how he profoundly touched and changed their lives.

It’s a fascinating story.


1. Questioning the developer-donation-councillor connection “an insult to my integrity”

Steve Streatch

“Let us now insult Steve Streatch and impugn his integrity, and while we’re at it, let’s do the same to some of his councillor colleagues,” writes Stephen Kimber.

The Willow Tree Group and others have charged that by accepting campaign donations from developers, councillors have a conflict of interest when voting on proposals from those same developers, a suggestion the councillors reject out of hand. Says Kimber:

That, declared a suitably chagrined, shocked and appalled Streatch, “was an insult not only to my integrity but to that of my colleagues and to the process.” Flushed with his own indignation, he continued: “When you are elected and when you take your oath of office,  you swear allegiance not only to the municipality but also to the Queen.”

To the Queen!

“I take that very seriously and to have anyone suggest otherwise is a real affront to my integrity.”

Click here to read “Questioning the developer-donation-councillor connection ‘an insult to my integrity.’”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

I don’t know if there is straight-out corruption or not — a former councillor once anonymously charged that they were offered a bribe to vote a certain way by a developer, but I’ve never seen proof of such tactics.

Still, I don’t think you need to impugn the motives or characters of councillors to say that large developer contributions swirling through election campaigns corrupts the system.

Consider two candidates in a district election. Anne is generally skeptical of wide open development, and would like council to first have broad consultations with residents in the neighbourhood and to consider and take seriously the impacts on neighbourhood character, traffic, and so forth, before approving a proposed development. Bob, on the other hand, thinks such regulatory hurdles for developers violate their sacrosanct property rights and, moreover, the more development the better for the city, and who are we to question aesthetics and neighbourhood impacts? — the free market will work all that out.

Both views are sincere. People out in the world have both opinions. Bob is no more in the employ of the big development companies than Anne is in the employ of anti-development organizations.

But of course Bob gets the big $1,000 cheques from dozens of development companies, while Anne has to fund her campaign by cobbling together $20 contributions from supporters. Bob is able to buy ads in newspapers and purchase slick glossy brochures that are mailed to every home. Anne’s campaign information comes on sheets she photocopies at Kinko’s and hand-delivers while knocking on doors.

There’s something to be said for going door-to-door, and the personal touch convinces the people Anne interacts with to vote for her, but she can’t possibly catch most voters while they’re home, especially in the recently expanded council districts. Meanwhile, Bob’s glossy mailers are making it into each and every home.

Bob gets elected. That doesn’t mean he’s “bought and paid for” by developers. It just means that developers’ money funded the campaign of the candidate whose views coincided with their monetary interests.

It’d be one thing if Bob were elected on the same playing field as Anne, but that can’t possibly be the case when the big dollars are coming in from developers. That’s why we should ban nearly all campaign contributions and adopt public funding for campaigns, with strict spending limits and detailed and timely reporting.



No public meetings Monday or Tuesday.



No public meetings.


Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, Province House) — Nick Jennery, the executive director of Feed Nova Scotia, will be asked about food bank use.

On campus



The Other World: Matteo Ricci’s China (Monday, 3:30pm, Room 303, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — Francesco D’Arelli will speak.

YouTube video

Shun Li and the Poet (Monday, 6pm, Room 303, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — a screening of Andrea Segre’s 2011 film.

Thesis Defence, Interdisciplinary Studies (Monday, 4pm, Room 3107, The Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Sherry Pictou will defend her thesis, “Decolonizing Mi’kmaw Memory of Treaty: L’sɨtkuk’s Learning with Allies in Struggle for Food and Lifeways.”


If we all saved more we’d all be rich (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 2622, Killam Library) — A volunteer from Chartered Professional Accountants Canada will show you how to be a good capitalist.

Convergent Series (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Bob Raphael will discuss his work with Emilia Alvarez in “On Regrouping Series to Obtain Absolute Convergence.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:15am Monday. Map:

8am: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Sydney
3:30pm: Triton Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
10pm: Hollandia, general cargo, sails from Pier 31 for Rotterdam


I’m already behind today.

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

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  1. Destruction of inner cities by those who wanted “progress” was going on all across North America and even in the UK in the 50s and 60s. That’s what got Jane Jacobs started in NYC against the arch vandal, Robert Moses.

    The 50s and 60s are gone and what is lost can’t be helped, but we supposedly know better now. So what’s Halifax’s excuse for what is going on right now? It is destroying the very things that make it an attractive city to live in and for tourists to visit. Who wants to live in or visit blandness? If we wanted that, Mississauga would be the greatest tourist city in the country. Why don’t they build all that bland and outright ugly shite way out in the outer burbs, if it must be built at all?

    1. It’s true. I hear the Archives is already writing their release for 2067:
      This series of photos captures the streetscapes and historic Halifax Waterfront, circa 2017. 2015-2030 was a period of great change in Halifax, initiated by Joe Ramia’s Nova Center, promoted as “more than just a structure, [aspiring] to bring our tenants and community together by creating an urban centrepiece”. In fact, this major development came to be known simply as “The Blight”. The first casualty was the vibrant Argyle Street, formerly a haven of restaurants and sidewalk patios. … Ramia’s development kicked off a series of development decisions now generally recognized as deleterious and being remedied at substantial public expense. Most notably, the current Waterfront Reclamation project seeks to restore public access to the Halifax waterfront. Once a pedestrian-friendly hotspot loved by locals and pedestrians, a series of developments (starting with Queen’s Quay, now known as “The Abomination”) restricted access to these public spaces.

  2. The Willow Tree group is so up to date that they believe the mayor does not vote …
    ” Two councillors (District 13: Matt Whitman; and District 14: Brad Johns) were absent for the vote. As mayor, Mike Savage did not vote.” see here half way down :
    In fact the Mayor and 10 councillors voted against limiting the height to 20 storeys according to the minutes.

  3. The archival photos are amazing. Unfortunately they were taken not as records of lives lived but rather lives about to be displaced and changed forever.

    Especially poignant as we are set to demolish the huge mistake that is the Cogswell Interchange.

    Also an amazing record and reminder of what has been lost in our current headlong and heedless plunge into modernity and hipsterness.

  4. When it comes to campaign financing, the only way to level the field would be to provide each candidate with the same amount of funds from the public coffers to fund all candidates and allow no third party funds or personal money be used to facilitate candidate electioneering efforts.

    1. I have no problem with public fundraising. Presumably good candidates will attract enough individual donations to make their campaign fly. I am not a fan of “pay every candidate the same” as it will create a huge distraction with 10 or 15 candidates a district. By the time a candidate gets on the ballot, he or she should have a pretty broad base of support and that can be best demonstrated by fundraising $20 bucks here and $50 bucks there. But certainly not $1,000 from someone who has a business interest and can benefit from municipal decision making in their favour.

      1. What about the independently wealthy individual who can totally fund his/her own campaign should there be a limit on how much he should be able spend out of his/her own pocket. No level playing field when running against this type of candidate. But if only contributions from public sources were allowed, should there be a cap placed on how large a donation could come from any one source?

  5. My son was just saying to me yesterday how he would like to have seen the neighbourhoods they bulldozed to create the Cogswell exchange. So very sad, and at the owner’s expense was particularly cruel.