This date in history
On campus
In the harbour


1. Bullshitters of the week: NSBI and Tanya Shaw

Tanya Shaw
Tanya Shaw

The Engage 2015 Conference is being held today at Saint Mary’s University today:

This year’s event will help Atlantic Canadian companies and post-secondary education students learn how to develop innovative, global-focussed businesses backed by world-class research and development resources that exist in Atlantic Canada. The outstanding speakers, highly interactive sessions and abundant networking opportunities over the first one and a half days will culminate in Business After Hours and Export Camp, two events designed to deliver practical advice and face-to-face meetings with decision makers from large multi-national companies and government who can help you and your company excel in a global marketplace.

[bold in original, italics added to highlight the bullshit]

Basically, you can pay 200 bucks to go the Stubborn Goat and drink with a bunch of self-important people who have an inside route to government money.

There’s a lot of funny shit about this conference. My jaw dropped when I saw the session titled “Finding Success: the Irving Oil Story.” I mean, what possible lesson could any college student learn from the Irving story? Rip off an impoverished province, demand government money for your every endeavour, attack your employees and bust unions, and live a life of luxury while everyone on the planet — including your wife and kids — hates you? I guess if that’s your thing, sure. Good luck with that, students.

The show stopper, however, is today’s 11:30am “Lessons From the Trenches Closing Panel,” featuring, among others, Tanya Shaw. Here’s how the program describes Shaw:

As founder and Executive of Unique Solutions Design Ltd., Tanya Shaw has spent her career providing strategic solutions to many aspects of “individuality” and “fit”.  Her technically savvy nature, tenacity and sharp business acumen have resulted in the development of numerous products and applications that provide both resolutions and revolutions, related to shopping, body measurement and body data. Through her leadership, passion and vision, Unique has garnered international attention having been featured prominently in publications such as the New York Times and People Magazine and on Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, The Gail King Show and numerous other television shows, print and online publications.

Tanya is considered an inspiring and leading technology entrepreneur having won numerous awards throughout her career including:

  • Junior Chamber International Outstanding Young Canadian of the Year Award
  • CATA Alliance Sarah Kirke Award – Top Canadian Woman in Hi-Tech
  • Top 40 Under 40 Award
  • Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Atlantic/Emerging Category

Tanya has served as an active Director on several Boards throughout the years and is currently on the Board of the Diocesan Franciscan Society as well as the Faculty of Management Advisory Board at Dalhousie University.

Tanya attended Dalhousie University’s internationally recognized Costume Studies Design Program, graduating in 1991. She also attended Saint Mary’s University, studying Commerce.  Tanya is honored to be a member of the 2010 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.

Of course, the demonstration of Shaw’s “sharp business acumen” is that she has acquired $5.6 million in funding through Nova Scotia Business Inc for Unique Solutions.

NSBI won’t make public the value of its portfolio. Think about that: your tax dollars are going into private businesses, but you have no right to know what that investment is worth. Regardless, judging by the write-down in a community development investment fund that is public, I figure NSBI’s $5.6 million investment is now worth less than a million dollars. It appears that nearly that entire “investment” has evaporated. You can read my detailed analysis of Unique Solutions here. (Also, you can read how the Chronicle Herald purposefully failed to tell its readers about the collapse of the company, here.)

Unsolicited, private investors in Unique Solutions have contacted me and told me that their investments are worthless, that the company won’t give them up-to-date financial information, that the company is being managed in California and its office in Burnside is just a front to maintain a fiction that it’s still a Nova Scotia company. If NSBI contests this, they can prove it wrong by making public the value of its shares in Unique Solutions.

But, back to the Engage conference, here’s Shaw lecturing students on “lessons from the trenches.” How does this happen? Oh, I see… Nova Scotia Business Inc is an “event partner” of the conference.


2. Energy

The McNeil government is using smoke and mirrors to try to convince us that it is keeping energy rates low. A Department of Energy release from yesterday:

Energy Minister Michel Samson released Our Electricity Future: Nova Scotia’s Electricity Plan, the province’s 25-year electricity plan today, Nov. 9, at the NSCC Waterfront Campus in Dartmouth. The plan reflects findings from the year-long Electricity System Review, which heard from more than 1,300 Nova Scotians and technical experts.


Under the plan, Nova Scotia Power could face penalties of up to $1 million annually if it does not meet performance standards. Penalties will not impact rates, but will be paid for by shareholders.  

Power bills have two parts. The general rate charged by Nova Scotia Power and a base fuel cost. Through legislation, government will bring in a new three-year rate stability period, from 2017-19, during which power rates will be known by Nova Scotians upfront. To achieve this, Nova Scotia Power will have until April 30 to request a change to the general rate for non-fuel costs during this period.

The company must also file a plan to lock in prices to reduce volatility in the cost of fuel over the three years.

Clearly, the goal is to lock in electricity prices next year so that there is no increase before the 2017 election. McNeil thinks voters are dumb. He might be right.

3. Rail

“Via Rail is considering launching new regional routes to service Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and in particular, a route between Moncton and Halifax,” reports the CBC:

“If we could get Maritimers to choose Via for a third of their trips within the service area that we service today and those that we will plan to service next year, it would be a very successful business,” [Via president Yves] Desjardins-Siciliano told CBC’s Maritime Noon. 

That seems quite ambitious. I’d probably take that evening train to Moncton occasionally, tho.

4. Taxi driver

“A taxi driver in Halifax convicted of sexual assaulting a female passenger is asking the city to reinstate his cab license,” reports Metro’s Stephanie Taylor:

Ahror Mamadiev, 43, was handed a conditional discharge on Sept. 2, after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman while dropping her off home on Aug. 18, 2014, according to a staff report.


[T]he case is headed back to Thursday’s appeals standing committee, after a report said lawyers filed an appeal that “advised (Mamadiev) had technically not been ‘convicted’ as the court in sentencing had imposed a conditional discharge.”

I don’t think Mamadiev will prevail on this.

It’s important that people trust the taxi service, and that bad drivers get removed quickly.

Also, in Nova Scotia, we have cab and liquor licenses, but drivers licences.

5. Dinosaur

A 200 million-year-old prosauropod dinosaur has been discovered at Wasson Bluff on the Fundy coast.


1. Bus data

The city says a real-time bus data system — that is, GPS on buses telling us exactly where the bus we want to catch is — will be operational by summer. Well, maybe: we’ve been made so many promises, and let down so many times, it’s hard to believe any such claim. We’ll see, I guess.

Regardless, once the system is up and running, riders won’t have to stand in a snowbank in an ice storm for 20 minutes waiting for their buses. Instead, they can sit at home or in their offices, and watch a smart phone app to see where the bus is, then dart out to the stop in time to catch it. A huge plus.

And an added bonus, says Erica Butler, is that we’ll finally have hard data about which buses are late on a consistent basis:

Right now, our system sure feels like it’s off-schedule more than it’s on. But by this time next year, we will have evidence showing exactly where and how much it’s off.  

Then we can ask our planners and decision makers to actually fix the problems at the root of our frustrations.

2. Mother Canada™

Mother Canada™
Mother Canada™

Last week, the Friends of Green Cove met with the provincial Liberal caucus to discuss the Mother Canada™ proposal. Parker Donham tells us what they said.

3. Breastfeeding

Linda Mosher’s lawyer is against breastfeeding in court:

Remember also that eating and drinking of any kind are not tolerated in courtrooms. Never in my 30 years of practice have I ever seen a judge, clerk, lawyer or a witness break out so much as a candy bar.

Of course judges, clerks, lawyers, and witnesses are adults who can stave off a hunger pang for an hour or two without screaming and making a fuss. Linda Mosher’s lawyer is essentially saying that mothers of newborns shouldn’t be in court.

4. Cranky letter of the day

To the Hants Journal:

It is bad enough that West Hants council is wasting our tax dollars for another, unnecessary fire department because they couldn’t “play nice” with one which was already proven and there.

Now they are wasting more of those precious dollars on a fancy four-page brochure telling us what a wonderful job they are doing.

Talk about “closing the barn door after the horse got out.”

Bill Gregory, Burlington



City council (10am, City Hall) — on the agenda is pandering to small business owners and pandering to sports fans. I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter feed, @hfxExaminer.


House sits (1pm, Province House) — Pomp! Circumstance!

This date in history

Robert Barry Dickey, founder of the Culture of Defeat.
Robert Barry Dickey, founder of the Culture of Defeat.

On November 10, 1811, Robert Barry Dickey was born in Amherst. He went on to become a lawyer and was appointed to the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia.

The Canadian Encyclopedia explains that Dickey was just another Maritimer looking for handouts from Upper Canada:

As a delegate to the Charlottetown Conference and the Quebec Conference in 1864, he was strongly opposed to Nova Scotia joining Confederation. He believed that the financial terms offered by Canada to Nova Scotia were unjust. He continued to fight for better terms and only converted to support of the union when Canada offered more lucrative subsidies in 1866. He was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 1867.

On campus

Baffin Bay (11:30am, Room 8007, Life Sciences Centre) — Calvin Campbell will speak on “Marine Geological Hazard Research in Baffin Bay.”

Ocean Variability (11:45am, Room 3655, Life Sciences Centre) — Anna Katavouta will speak on “Non-Linear Coupling of Scales of Ocean Variability and Implications for Downscaling.”

Darren Greer (4:15, Killam Library, Archives and Special Collections Reading Room, 5th Floor ) — explains the properly written event listing (librarians get this stuff right):

Darren Greer is the author of three novels and a book of essays.

He grew up in several towns in Nova Scotia, including Greenfield and Liverpool, and studied literature at the University of King’s College, Halifax, as well as Carleton University, Ottawa.

Greer’s first novel, Tyler’s Cape, was published in March 2001 to critical acclaim and was on the bestseller list of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. Still Life with June was nominated for the Pearson Readers’ Choice Award at The Word On The Street, Toronto, in 2003 and is the Winner of the 2004 ReLit Award.

Saint Mary’s

Goran Stanivukovic (3pm, Room LI135 Patrick Power Library) — Goran Stanivukovic will talk about his latest book, Knights in Arms: Prose Romance, Masculinity and Eastern Mediterranean Trade. Bring a shrubbery.


YouTube video

NASA has published a video showing just how big the International Space Station is:

It is the largest and most sophisticated object ever built off the Earth. It has taken numerous spaceflights and over a decade to construct. The International Space Station (ISS) is currently the premiere habitat for humans in Earth orbit, and an amalgamation of sophisticated orbiting laboratories that have examined everything from the formation of new materials and medicines created in microgravity — to the limitations of the human body — to the composition of the universe. This month, the ISS is celebrating 15 years of continuous human habitation. The ISS has been visited by astronauts from 15 countries, so far, and has international partners led by NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), CSA (Canada), JAXA (Japan), and ESA (Europe).The featured animation shows the piece-by-piece construction of the ISS from 1998 to 2011. Spanning the length of a football field, the ISS can be seen as an unusually bright spot drifting slowly overhead by anyone who knows when and where to look.

Pretty cool, but when I was a kid I was told that by now we’d have this:

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:45am Tuesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:45am Tuesday. Map:

Ningbo Express, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove
Tombarra, car carrier, Zeebrugge, Belgium to Autoport
Advantage Anthem, oil tanker, arrived at Imperial Oil from Quebec early this morning; sails to sea this afternoon


I take stat holidays off, so no Morning File tomorrow.

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

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  1. Giles’s comments regarding breastfeeding in court are misleading. The court has long provided icewater to judges, lawyers, and witnesses.

  2. Breastfeeding:
    1. Anyone who says there are “claimed benefits” of breastfeeding (bf) is badly educated on the benefits of bf and is likely also a little confused about how sexualized objects like breasts could possibly be used for anything but motorboating.
    2. What about the rights of a child? The right to receive food when they’re hungry? Is the legal system in favour of child hunger?

  3. Regarding Tanya Shaw, she’s only ONE SMALL example of the many hundreds of troughing sheisters who’ve been hanging on handout tits for GENERATIONS. All it takes is schmoozing the «right» people and barefacedly LYING with a smile. The money then pours forth like water. Great game if your conscience will allow you to play it!

    The Puritans used to have a great cure for this kind of miscreant: THE STOCKS. I’d LOVE a chance to pelt some nicely-rotted produce at some of those smarmy, self-important trougher faces!

  4. I grew up here, moved away, came back, moved away, and came back again. ONE THING was constant: the Gravy Train for those who knew how to tap into it. If we had the BILLIONS squandered by self-serving politicians and their teat-suckers we wouldn’t need any «innovation» nor make-work jobs in coal mines, gold mines, anachronistic polluting paper mills, and uniuon-busting worldcorps — every Nova Scotian could simply be on a very comfortable, lifelong DOLE paid for by just the interest on those squandered billions.

    KUDOS to Tim, Evan, and Bill for «TELLING IT LIKE IT IS».
    The SAD part is that we vote-in and continue to tolerate these self-serving, toughing pirates.

  5. I haven’t been in court for a few years, and haven’t nursed my children in many more, but a few observations:

    (a) when I used to go to church, I would never consider breaking out a chocolate bar there either. But I would certainly feel free to nurse there as long as my child was quiet and the process was discreet;

    (b) judges, clerks, and lawyers do get water in court if I recall;

    (c) a court doesn’t need to be serious and solemn for the sake of being serious and solemn; it is a place where human issues are seriously and solemnly dealt with, and if a mother sitting in the back, quietly nursing her child, is able to participate in the process without disturbing it, I do not see any problem.

  6. RE: Breastfeeding in court: You nailed it. It isn’t about eating, it’s about mothers being welcome in court. This is a perfect example of patriarchy firmly entrenched in social conventions.

    Also, from the article you linked to:

    “The most important point left out of the analysis to date is that Judge Lenehan is fundamentally a good and decent man who has spent the last 30 years advancing numerous legal causes. He is not a man prone to rash and ill-timed outbursts. His approach and tone as a jurist is generally quiet and thoughtful. He is also a father.”

    You can be a father, a good person, a good judge, a woman, whatever, and still

  7. From the Nova Scotia government’s style guide: “licence/license should follow the “practice/practise” distinction for noun and verb forms as shown below. However, the spelling of “license” as a noun is deeply entrenched in some departments, so the spelling for the noun should follow their established practice. The verb form should always be license.”

  8. Gavin Giles notes that courts are “solemn places that have a process and decorum all their own.” I suppose that’s one way of putting it. Another way is to observe that they are places where common sense and logic can take second place to appearance and ceremony. Also, can’t help noticing Giles’ use of lawyerspeak, when he refers to the “claimed benefits” of breastfeeding, suggesting there is some doubt.

  9. ” will be operational by summer”

    It was supposed to be operational already. I don’t have much faith in metro transit for obvious reasons:

    Regarding the whole NS ‘startup’ industry I’ve been looking long and hard at what makes a business successful in NS, and every time it’s government money. The goal isn’t to become successful, the goal is to have 3 years of R&D paid for by ACOA/NRC/Innovacorp/NSBI so you can get bought out by a larger company, like SalesForce or That’s the ‘end game,’ to sell out. These companies aren’t willing to invest in R&D, so they buy startups with technology they want leaving the other 94% to fail.

    Even worse, more than one collects government money for their “startup” while actually using it for their marketing company. Award winning entrepreneurs asking for cash for company A, and spending it on company B. Yet I’m the one who burned every bridge in Halifax by questioning that.

    An even worse issue is that investors want ‘experience’ running startups, they’re hesitant to invest in a first time startup. So people will create these ‘sacrificial startups,’ fail early, and have a bullet point on a resume the next time.

    I went on a short rant on twitter about all this recently and people were messaging my friends saying “What’s he doing, he’s burning bridges” That’s right, calling out the bullshit for what it is is “burning bridges.” It’s terrifying for someone to see through it.

    I won’t name names, but a very prominent figure in the NS startup world said verbatim “if you start a fake startup you can run for 3 years on ACOA/NRC, Innovacorp gravy train.” That’s a damnation if I’ve ever heard one.

    1. To add to this; NS has no real industry or economy. We have federal government, provincial government, military, healthcare, education… None of these generate revenue they’re all taxpayer funded.

      The intentions behind the funding is to replicate the success of silicon valley and waterloo. Except, there’s a marked cultural difference in NS. It’s all who you know, and who you’re friends with. The valley / SF bay area / waterloo tend to be more of a meritocracy whereas NS is effectively cronyism.

      My favourite example in NS is someone who started a startup, failed miserably (ran it into the ground and all their software developers walked out), and immediately became the VP of PropelICT because ‘connections.’

      The startup industry here is run by very few people. It’s not hard to figure out whom.

      1. Yep, worked for a startup in Halifax a while back. The Bold Entrepreneur behind it all spent a huge amount of taxpayer money on stupid shit and hiring his friends as consultants. Many of whom are in the “runs the startup world in Halifax” camp.

        I’ve been explicitly told by some (for real) startups that they can’t hire me, because one of The People Who Matter in Halifax doesn’t like me after I had a nasty (private) falling out with the Bold Innovative Startup because they stopped paying me and expected me to work.

        1. Sounds awful familiar. I had a falling out because a startup was arguably committing fraud collecting government money for a startup and using it to run a marketing agency.

          I quit, they trashed me, and because I tried to clear things up (and embarrassed Volta in the process) I’m considered to be too ‘hot’ to hire regardless of technical competence.

          At least I’m not the only one that’s blacklisted by “The People Who Matter in Halifax”. We should get a beer sometime.