1. COVID-19

Four new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Nova Scotia yesterday (Thursday, Jan. 7).

Two of the cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, and both are close contacts of previously reported cases.

One case is in the Eastern Zone and is also a close contact of a previously reported case.

The fourth case is in the Northern Zone and is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

There are now 28 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital with the disease.

Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 1,467 tests yesterday.

Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

And here is the active caseload for the second wave:

Here is the possible exposure map:

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2. Blue Mountain–Birch Cove Lakes

The Fox Lake Lookoff, just within the Annapolis Group’s lands in Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes. — Photo: Richard Vinson Credit: Richard Vinson

“It’s a win for the municipality and everyone advocating in favour of a park at Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes, but one environmentalist warns it could bring the process back to square one,” reports Zane Woodford:

The highest court in Nova Scotia ruled in a written decision released on Thursday that Halifax Regional Municipality did not effectively expropriate a developer’s land when regional council voted in 2016 to deny development rights and move ahead with the park instead.

Click here to read “Appeals court rules for Halifax, against developer in Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes land dispute.”

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3. Miscommunication

Province House and statue of freedom of the press defender Joseph Howe. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

“Unbeknownst to many people — and definitely unbeknownst to me before I returned to Nova Scotia after many years of working overseas and resumed reporting here in 2016 — journalists do not have quite the same rights that other citizens do in this province,” writes Joan Baxter:

Apparently we journalists are not supposed to try to get into direct contact with government experts or scientists or officials, as other citizens can do. Rather, all journalists’ inquiries to the Nova Scotia government are supposed to go through media relations people. 

At least this is what I was told in May 2018.

This is how I learned that lesson.

Click here to read “Miscommunication: how government’s PR gatekeepers are increasingly controlling the message.”

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4. Moncton shooting

“The premier of Nova Scotia says the RCMP must change how they alert the public to dangerous incidents following the high-profile arrest of a gunman who remained at large for 19 hours,” reports Michael MacDonald for the Canadian Press:

Stephen McNeil made the comment Thursday as questions arose about why it took more than three hours on Wednesday for the Mounties to request a provincewide Alert Ready message to warn residents about a manhunt that spanned two provinces.

“The RCMP has an issue when it comes to whether or not they want to use emergency alerts,” the premier said after a cabinet meeting. “They need to fix their protocol.”

Nova Scotia RCMP’s chief investigative officer, Chris Leather. Photo: Halifax Examiner.

Later in the day, RCMP C/Supt. Chris Leather popped up to issue a statement. You’ll recall that Leather was ushered off the public stage after his horrendous performance after the mass murders, but I guess all is forgiven. Anyway, the statement reads:

With yesterday’s search for a man wanted in New Brunswick in relation to a shooting on January 5, 2021, an emergency alert was issued in Nova Scotia at the request of the Nova Scotia RCMP. This marked our third use of the Alert Ready system in this province.

It is clear there is political and public desire for police to issue emergency alerts. This desire manifests as demand without understanding of public safety risk or the incident. This is reflected in demands for alerts to be issued sooner and even for incidents where the alert may result in greater harm to the public or police. Public statements being made without fact undermine excellent police work and solid operational decisions.

Police are in the unenviable position of deciding on when and in what circumstances alerts are issued. These are not easy decisions, but we face them with one commitment in mind: Resolving incidents in a way that results in the least amount of risk to the public and officers. We know the desire for information when incidents are unfolding. We communicate publicly in real time and have been doing this very well for years.

It was in 2020 when emergency alerts began to be used for police incidents within Canada. As such, an emergency alert is one of the tools we now use for mass public communications. There are others including social media, websites and media relations.

With regard to yesterday’s search for the man wanted in New Brunswick, these are the facts:

A vehicle abandoned in Amherst was confirmed to be the suspect’s vehicle yesterday morning. The New Brunswick RCMP tweeted this at 9:37 a.m., following another tweet where they advised that residents should go about their daily routines. Amherst Police Department did not issue an alert as a result of the abandoned vehicle. While I cannot speak for Amherst Police Department I can say that at that time the RCMP would not have issued an alert either, despite the public and political calls for an alert.

The New Brunswick RCMP was continuing to lead the investigation and further the search for the suspect, with assistance of the Amherst Police Department and Nova Scotia RCMP. Officers in both provinces were doing police work, gathering facts, following up on leads, and speaking with suspect family members and close contacts to find and arrest the suspect. All the while continuously assessing the situation from a public safety perspective.

The behind the scenes police work that took place in order to be in a position to locate and arrest the suspect without incident was incredible and something to support rather than criticize.

When we were confident a public alert would not impede his apprehension, jeopardize public or police safety, we requested an alert be issued.

No police officer or agency can know everything about an evolving situation immediately and to imply anything to the contrary is reckless. It is our responsibility, our duty, and our commitment to the public to investigate, gather facts, determine risk, and act to protect people.

That is what was done – collaboratively between New Brunswick RCMP, various RCMP detachments in our province and with our partner agencies in Nova Scotia – and no one else was injured.

Thank you to those who continue to support us.

That last line seems a wee bit passive-aggressive, no?

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5. Bullshitter of the week: Port of Halifax

It will be an innovation centre for local companies connected to shipping and transportation, supply chains and logistics, and maritime policy development to conduct meetings and collaborate among global partners, local companies, and our port city community.

— Port of Halifax (@portofhalifax) January 7, 2021

I don’t know what that bafflegab means, but I can predict that a bunch of public money is about to be given to connected people who know how to sling buzzwords.

Besides that, the Seaport Market is being renovicted, with the market stalls sent to some outside space during the summer and then to Pier 22 during the non-cruise ship months.

That suggests that the Port thinks the cruise ship industry will revive and make us all prosperous forever more, amen.

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Photo: Tim Bousquet

I grew up in Virginia, about a three-and-a-half drive from Washington DC. Mom grew up in DC, and my cousins still live there, so I was part of many family trips to the city. Additionally, I went on school field trips to the Smithsonian, and as a young stupid person went there to party (I saw the band Switchblade at some dingy Georgetown bar, back before Georgetown bars became too highbrow for the likes of someone like me).

So I’ve been to Washington too many times to count. But it was only a couple of years ago that I really stopped and considered the place deeply. I stopped by the city to visit my pal Paul on my way to visit Mom, and found myself with seven or eight hours to kill alone, so just wandered around on foot, walking the mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol, back to the Supreme Court, up to the White House, through and around the various government office buildings.

The architecture is designed to impress, and it does. It’s impossible to walk along the streets without feeling a sense of gravitas, of place and history, and of grandeur. This city is bigger than me, I thought, bigger than even time. There’s a sense of purpose and permanency, a project worth reverence.

Oh, I know how problematic that construction is. Many of those buildings I admired were built with slave labour. And inside those august buildings, terrible people have made terrible decisions about wars; enacted legislation that defined native people, black people, and women as not fully human; adopted tax codes that further enriched the already rich with the labour of the poor; denied basic health care to the bulk of the population; and otherwise have added to the general misery.

March on Washington, August 28, 1963. Photo: US government

But others have known that misery greater than me, and have yet all the same embraced the purpose and promise of the ideals celebrated by that architecture. The March on Washington was in no small part about calling America out on its founding mythology. Ditto the lawyers representing the oppressed at the Supreme Court. The Black Lives Matters protestors marching past the Capitol and White House last summer no doubt had a complex and nuanced understanding of those institutions, and yet in a deep way, valued them, not for what they are but for what they represent.

And so I cannot describe the depths of disgust I felt as I watched depraved people assault the Capitol in the midst of the ceremonial peaceful transfer of power enshrined in the Constitution. Yesterday, I heard Congressman Hakeem Jeffries describe how the mob had ransacked congressional offices, stealing House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s poster of John Lewis, and urinated on the floor of the place. Yes, they literally pissed on the foundational institution of the country.

There can be no equivocation here, no false equivalency, no bothsiderism. This was an assault on decency, on democracy, and on the nation.

I have more to say, but I’m too angry.

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No meetings.

On campus

No public events.

In the harbour

05:00: Ef Ava, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Portland
06:00: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
08:00: YM Mandate, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
15:30: ZIM Vancouver sails for New York
17:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
22:00: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for Rotterdam


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

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  1. Tim your are in a unique position to accurately report on just what is happening in the US resulting from the terrorist insurrection the world witnessed on Wednesday. To put it succinctly, I am scared and I am sure there are many others. The sedition fomented by the losing former president has been going on since the day he took office. He has set media up as “fake news” and “ the enemy of the people”. He has said that long enough that it has taken root. I fear that Wednesday’s events dont mark an end but rather a beginning. There are still lots of Ted Cruz types out there that are as bad or worse than the former president and we have seen them raising their hands amongst the mob.
    I respect and trust the work you do and I will watch and follow closely if you are able to bring insight to this mess and help us understand what the impacts are and will be on all of us who while not US residents area still Americans in the geopolitical sense of the word. More than ever we need truth and accuracy.

  2. Bullshitter of the week?

    Even by Nova Scotia standards the innovative and bold word salad was, well, innovative and bold. I’ve seen the innovation sausage being made and although it does sometimes work out, most of the time you just feel bad for the pig.

    1. The illustration in the link shows half a dozen people, including one in a wheelchair and several widely spaced stalls under an open-sided marquee that apparently covers the entire existing parking lot. On a bright sunny day. Can’t imagine what that will be like with wind blowing rain sideways into the marquee. And what about the vendors who use fridges and freezers? I’m guessing most vendors won’t be happy with this arrangement and more will leave. I find it interesting that the Port interprets shoppers patronizing the open-air stalls this past summer as preference for this experience rather than gratitude that we had any type of a live market after months of lockdown and buying our veggies on line. The many NS producers who offered local delivery during this period did an amazing job but it was nice to be able to shop in person again. Does that mean we prefer to shop at outdoor stalls? No. Be realistic. This is Nova Scotia. Weather happens – rain, wind etc, often in combination. And we who don’t live downtown need somewhere convenient we can park. Bags full of potatoes, apples, squash etc, jars of jam and baked stuffs are heavy. We had many reservations when we invested in the construction of this facility originally but wanted to be supportive. We remained hopeful and flexible but the Port never did listen to the prime stakeholders – the producers and the shoppers. This may be the final nail in the coffin. So sad, so unnecessary.

  3. Port of Halifax also evicted Via Rail as of Nov. 1, and won’t let it use tracks there to turn the trains around. Not that any passenger trains have run since March.

    1. As ViaRail has been our choice of transportation to visit our daughter in Belleville (before Covid) I cannot understand why several levels of government are not making sure that The Ocean is made a prime tourist attraction. The rails should be upgraded and the rolling stock modernized. They should return to the days of food preparation on board. It should run daily and be heavily promoted 1) environmentally more friendly way to travel than air, 2) more comfortable and healthier way to travel than air 3) viable alternative to automobile 4) fantastic journey for train lovers from around the world 4) convenient for people in less built up areas to use for local trips ….. I’m sure there are other points.
      The very last thing that should be allowed is for the Port of Halifax to cut off the currently struggling service at the knees.

  4. I lived and worked in Washington, DC, for a decade. Like so many my sadness at this spectacle goes very deep. As a reporter working for a labour movement publication, I covered Congress, the Labor Department, and the Treasury, among others. I spent many hours doing research in the magnificent Library of Congress. Prior to that, during a period of underemployment, I worked as a messenger, delivering packages to every imaginable branch of government, moving freely in an era before metal detectors and high security. I still go there and have friends in government, including in Congress. I recently visited the magnificent National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian (sic), small testaments to the high-mindedness that can emerge from the American project.

    We saw this week what can also emerge from that project: a belief that the country is designed not to bring the many diverse elements into a fragile unity (e pluribus unum) but rather to be a safe home only for “old-stock Americans” (to borrow and alter a phrase from Stephen Harper). Deep divisiveness sadly will mark the coming decades as people who believe in the myth that they are the true Americans become more and more of a minority and use every means at their disposal to make America their own private fascist preserve. It’s not the only country where that is and will be happening. We will all need lots of courage to withstand the hate.

  5. Noticed
    I, like you Tim, have spent quite a bit of time in Washington. I grew up here in Halifax, however lived in the United States for 25 years. It broke my heart to see the Capitol being taken over by…. fill in the adjective.
    There were two stunning reflections for me, there were more, but I will stop with just two:
    1- How the Capitol was not properly prepared for this scenario
    2- We saw this summer how the Trump Administration handled peaceful protestors when the President wanted a photo opportunity (?) at the church. I could help to think if brown or black people took over the Capitol, the loss of human life and how differently the situation would have been handled.