On campus
In the harbour


1. Milk

“Hundreds of thousands of litres of milk have been disposed of since December, trucked to a methane digester in the province to be turned into electricity,” reports Frances Willick in the Local Xpress; Willick goes on to explain how milk is produced and what happens to the various milk products:

When raw milk is processed, the cream is removed to make higher-fat products and what remains is skim milk. But while demand for higher-fat dairy products in Nova Scotia has boomed in the last two or so years, the market for skim milk remains flat.

For years in Canada, any extra skim milk is turned into skim milk powder that’s used in cookies and cakes. Any surplus powder is sold for use in dog food, cat food and calf milk replacement products.

Recently, the processors that convert skim milk into powder have reached capacity, so dairies are left with a glut of fluid skim milk.

2. Council meetings

Metro’s Zane Woodford analyzes the length of Halifax council meetings, bringing in former City Hall reporter Stephanie Taylor, now reporting on Winnipeg’s council, for some perspective.

This gets a little inside baseball-y, but the every-other-week schedule isn’t working. Eleven- and 12-hour meetings aren’t good for councillors’  decision-making, they aren’t good for reporters trying to stay on top of their game, and they aren’t good for the public that wants to watch a particular issue be discussed.

3. Cruise ships

The Port published this year’s cruise ship schedule yesterday. Peter Ziobrowski gives a rundown of the ships.

4. Bullshitter of the Day: Alex Liot

Bullshitter Alex Liot
Bullshitter Alex Liot

Alex Liot, who is the VP for Media Sales at the Chronicle Herald, lays it on thick in a letter to advertisers:

Dear Advertising Client,

Over the past several weeks I’ve had valuable conversations with many of you about the current labour situation at The Chronicle Herald and about the broader future of the newspaper industry as a whole. Your feedback and perspectives on this have been refreshingly candid.

Many of you have articulated a genuine appreciation for The Chronicle Herald itself, noting the significance of our heritage and general importance to the fabric of Nova Scotia.

In equal measure, your belief in our product and the important role it plays in connecting you to the audiences you care about is inspiring to all of us. We hear you say: “My ads bring me customers and I don’t want to lose that.” We’re tremendously appreciative of this.

In nearly all of these conversations, one question inevitably comes to the forefront: can newspaper advertising continue to yield a strong return amidst challenging conditions? Given worldwide trends and the labour situation at our own publication, this is an understandable and valid concern. I offer the following insights to help you formulate your own perspective on this topic:

• Fortunately, there has been no disruption to our readership from the strike. Production and delivery continue on time, circulation remains stable and a very hard working group of writers fill the pages with quality content everyday.

• The truth, in fact, is that we have received a substantial number of compliments on both the quality and content of the paper…

Yep, the strike versions of the Chronicle Herald can hold their own against My Pet Goat and the Oxford Junior High student paper, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Liot continues:

• In 2016, we reach more people than we did a month ago, a year ago, a decade ago. Yes, traditional newspaper audiences are gradually declining, but our reach is increasing. We now connect with 100,000+ digital readers daily, 300,000+ homes with a community weekly newspaper, 125,000+ followers on social media and a dozen other channels. This gives our advertisers even more access to the audiences they want to connect with.

• According to a Canadian Newspaper Association report, in 2015 Herrald advertising increased by 2.1% . To put this into perspective, the Canadian average declined by 4.1% last year. This tells us that our products are still the most valuable way for advertisers to reach their audiences.

So wait a minute… advertising is increasing? Then what’s this “we gotta pay our employees less” thing all about?

But note that Liot doesn’t say advertising revenue increased, merely that advertising increased, which is exactly what you would expect when the Herald obtained the weekly throw-away fliers in northern Nova Scotia… the paper is spewing advertising everywhere, on cell phone apps, in garbage publications, etc. Liot and his crew are basically spamming the entire province. And as revenue goes down, they’ll increase the advertising in hopes of stemming the losses. Oh joy.

We’re confident in the results we deliver and are grateful for your ongoing partnership with us. Together, with creativity and insight, we can continue to leverage our audiences for your benefit.

“Leverage our audiences” would’ve earned its own circle in hell, were Dante not so worked up about the popes.

My team and I are committed to creating great campaigns with you and stand behind the outcomes. Please feel free to reach out to continue this discussion at any time.

With thanks,

Alex Liot

Vice-President, Media Sales

No, Alex, thank you. I needed this laugh.

I especially like how the entire Herald sales team gives Liot attaboys on the post.

5. Same old game

Speaking of the Chronicle Herald, the paper is a “partner” with the Halifax Partnership for something called Game Changers, which is supposedly a way to encourage young people to stay in the province by offering them jobs that pay shit wages.

As I wrote in November:

Halifax Partnership explains via a press release:

HALIFAXNov. 17, 2015 /CNW/ – This morning the Halifax Partnership and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage unveiled the Game Changers Action Plan, challenging thousands of Halifax business leaders to hire youth and become Game Changers.

“It’s time to make a change and help more young people call Halifax home,” says Mayor Mike Savage. “Halifax’s business community and the public sector have a shared responsibility to make sure our youth have opportunities to work, live and succeed in our city.”

The Game Changers initiative is based on the Halifax Partnership’s Youth Retention study, released in October. The Partnership found that each year on net, Nova Scotia loses 1,300 young people between the ages of 20 and 29. This out-migration of talent costs the province an estimated $1.2 billion in lifetime after-tax income and an estimated $46.4 million in net future taxes.

For the next three years through Game Changers, the Halifax Partnership will connect businesses with the resources they need to hire, create co-op positions and help new graduates build professional networks in Halifax through their Connector Program.

“This is a huge opportunity to grow our our city, our province, our economy and our reputation,” says Ron Hanlon, President and CEO of the Halifax Partnership. “Let’s not let another year pass and lose the best and brightest talent to other provinces.”


The Game Changer Action Plan explained that:

The Game Changer Action Plan will be supported by private sector sponsorship. It is a way to further engage investors in the Halifax Partnership, by attaching a specific program and set of deliverables to their support. The initiative is designed to allow for customization to meet the needs and objectives of individual sponsors.


The Chronicle Herald is cynically using the Game Changer sponsorship to suggest that it is working to improve the Halifax employment scene at the exact moment it is trying to cut workers and their pay.

The Game Changers campaign has a “Pitch It” event next Tuesday at the Marriott, in which prospective employees will bow and scrape and otherwise humiliate themselves in hopes of getting a job working for union-busting, wage-slashing, job-killing companies like the Chronicle Herald.

I don’t know, but I suspect there may be a union presence at the Marriott that day.


1. Our park building heritage

Stephen Archibald had some time to kill the other day so went and checked out the new skating pavilion on the Common. “It must have been a challenge to design a structure for the Commons that was interesting without being too interesting,” he writes. “The Pavillion’s asymmetry, wood ceiling, and retro vibe are of this moment. This got me thinking about some of the other buildings associated with our parks that speak of the times they were constructed.”

Then Archibald surveys four historic park buildings in the area: the Fairbanks Centre in Shubie Park, the Gardener’s Lodge and Horticultural Hall in the Public Gardens, and the Superintendent’s Lodge at Point Pleasant Park.

This is a smartly written essay. For example, here’s Archibald on the Fairbanks Centre:

I couldn’t find the architect or building date but do remember that it felt smart and contemporary when it was built (about 1990?). Many post-modern style buildings are looking silly now (they need to age a little longer) but I think the Fairbanks Centre is holding up quite well.

From some angles it feels Italian, in a nice way.

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

The backside of the building is a cautionary tale of what can happen when, over time, new enthusiasms trump design control.

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

2. Drinking

Photo: Gordon La
Photo: Gordon La

Julia O’Hanley, a political science student at St. Francis Xavier University — which we’re told is the #1 party school in Canada — reprints her weekend drinking diary for Maclean’s Magazine. I don’t know if this is supposed to be a cautionary tale or what, but if this is what constitutes a “wild weekend” nowadays, the kids aren’t drinking enough. We’re going to end up with an entire generation of church mice.

3. Flip-flop

“If I could ban the word ‘flip-flop’ from the political lexicon, I would,” writes Graham Steele, who says the government’s reversal on the proposed Pharmacare changes was the right thing to do:

It doesn’t serve anybody if politicians stick to a bad policy for fear of being accused of a flip-flop, but it happens.

I said I’d give the McNeil government four stars out of five for the way they handled the seniors’ pharmacare retreat.

They lose one star for insisting there’s no way they could have foreseen the practical impacts of the new policy.


Of course they could have anticipated the impacts. Somebody didn’t do their homework and I understand there’s an internal battle right now over who exactly that was. Scapegoats have been lined up.



Public information meeting (7pm, Captain William Spry Community Centre) — Nanco Developments wants to build a four-storey, 38-unit apartment building at 214, 216 and 218 Herring Cove Road.


Economic Development (9am, One Government Place) — Tony Goode will be questioned about Oceans Technology.

On Campus


Thesis defence, Neuroscience (9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Philippe Magown will defend his thesis, Motor Function Restoration: Therapeutic Approaches To Denervation Pathologies.”

Why Sustainability needs Spirituality (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — David Deane, from the Atlantic School of Theology, wants to insert a little woo-woo into the saving the planet thing.

In the harbour

The approach to Halifax Harbour, 8:30am Thursday. The HCMS Montreal (blue ship) is heading into port, while the oil tanker Fidias (red ship) and container ship ZIM Shanghai (green ship) are leaving. Map:
The approach to Halifax Harbour, 8:30am Thursday. The HCMS Montreal (blue ship) is heading into port, while the oil tanker Fidias (red ship) and container ship ZIM Shanghai (green ship) are leaving. Map:

ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrived at Pier 41 this morning; sails to New York later today
Singapore Express, container ship, Rotterdam to Fairview Cove

ZIM Shanghai sails to sea
Fidias sails to Philadelphia
Fritz Reuter sails to Mariel, Cuba
Manon sails to sea


We’re recording Examineradio, episode #50 today. Fifty!

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

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  1. The complexities of our national milk quota system (cartel) are enormous. Trying to find a solution to the dumping of milk will only succeed when the producers/processors realize they do not have total control of the system. The greed to produce as much dairy product as possible has proven there is enough profit built into the cost of dairy products to justify dumping usable product. This waste will not be sustainable over the long term as consumers as well as animal rights activist come on board.
    The perception, and for the most part, the reality of cows being fed in a barn and never grazing or being allowed outside is becoming unacceptable to a growing percentage of the population. The animal rights groups are already building momentum and looking for reasons to promote their cause, such as this one. As a greater percentage of the population embraces the concept of more natural production methods antiquated production and waste will become more troublesome to the producers.

    It will only be a matter of time when another application will be made for a price increase in the price of milk. The reasoning will not be because the farmers need extra money to compensate for the dumping of 90% of their product but something more palatable to the public. Unfortunately for the farmers, if this practise continues, it could become a public trust and ethics issue.
    I do see some possible answers to the problem but with a cost. For one they could take a loss for the short term on selling skim milk. The marketing potential could be substantial and long lasting. Imagine the benefit to consumers with lower costs along with the perception of the dairy farmers/dairies working with the public for the benefit of all. A second solution would be to allow more imports of the dairy products that we produce that are causing the waste. Obviously this would take time and would be incredibly unpopular with the farmers/dairies. The option for the public being able to buy international product at a possible reduced price would be more than the system would want to endure.
    What business is sustainable when your basic product is being dumped so you can take only the valuable 10%? Only products being sold with a guaranteed fixed price can sustain the waste. In time the public will revolt.
    Being a farmer (non-dairy) and involved with different aspects of farming I have come to believe we need some sort of quota system. The possibility of unlimited amounts of products entering the system from mega farms outside of Canada could decimate one of the few remaining sustainable farming businesses in Canada. They must be careful though to continue to walk the fine line with the consumers with price, waste and perception.

    1. Did you actually read the article? No where are they dumping 90% of the product. If you want to see the free market in action when it comes to dairy, visit Pennsylvania or New Zealand. Don’t believe the propaganda about it benefiting farmers, because it does not. The farms are bought by massive companies who figure out how to automate the system as much as possible, resulting in an ever greater concentration of production. New Zealand has had to play with its currency to keep its system going. Trying to turn a biological process into a 100% efficient system (for us) is absurd in my opinion. Finally, milk being a couple dollars cheaper would be a big loss in wealth, income and employment for rural areas.

    2. Or they could continue with business as usual and get a bailout from the government when they fail. This *is* Nova Scotia after all.

    3. Oh boy. If you think cows on Canadian dairy farms are “never allowed outside” and can’t graze, you’ve really never even seen a Canadian dairy farm.

      Besides a few unfortunate large-scale operations, mostly in western Canada, Canadian dairy farms are small-scale outfits, averaging around 120 cows, and are some of the best-managed in the world for animal welfare. (No, don’t bother to post about the British Columbia mega-farm that faced abuse allegations in 2014–that was terrible, but also a huge exception to the norm.)

  2. Unfortunately, flip-flops are not always positive. Graham overlooked the Industrial Approval for Northern Pulp, where the government decided to allow changes to be made to the original IA when Delorey had said that would not happen.

  3. Re: game changers

    … And let’s dispel with this fiction that capital creates jobs. Jobs create capital. And capital is undertaking a systematic effort to destroy jobs.

    If anyone is wondering why the next President is likely going to have a wonderful golden mane, people like the owners of the Chronicle Herald are why.

  4. Re:Liot. Ok. Do sales guys get to select their own pictures? This is supposed to elicit trust?

    The Herald is gone tubing.