1. Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin

Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin yesterday announced she’s running for the leadership of the PC Party, and already her supporters are falling asleep.

2. Social media wars

There’s a part of the universe where Matt Whitman doing stupid shit is all Waye Mason’s fault. Really! It’s this part of the universe:

The claim here is that when councillor (and former deputy mayor, or DM) Matt Whitman favourably retweeted something written by neo-Nazis, and then councillor (and current deputy mayor, or DM) Waye Mason called Whitman out on it — “what the hell is wrong with you?” were his words — it is somehow Mason’s fault that 21 citizens have filed complaints about councillors.

Then again, I’ve never been commemorated in bronze, so what do I know?

Gloria McCluskey. Photo: Halifax Examiner

3. Phoenix

“Nearly two years after the ill-fated Phoenix pay system was first launched, nine out of 10 federal public servants in Nova Scotia have experienced issues with their paycheques,” reports Andrea Gunn for the Chronicle Herald:

Last week the federal government provided an answer to a November written order paper question from Quebec NDP MP Karine Trudel enquiring about the number of public employees financially impacted by system issues from just after the Liberals took power to when the question was tabled in parliament.

According to the data, 9,104 employees working for the federal government in Nova Scotia out of a total 10,095 were impacted during that time frame — or 90 per cent.

I know a federal employee who is “impacted” by payroll problems in a way that is sure to come back and haunt them — they’re getting paid twice each pay period, for a total of double the expected salary.

4. Challenge coins

The city yesterday issued a tender offer looking for “5000 high quality, durable HRP [Halifax Regional Police] challenge coins that reflect the colours, culture, stature and formal appearance of HRP while also demonstrating pride in the region and community HRP serves.” The final design of the coins must have these specifications:

• Gold base with the flexibility for two-tone plating
• Dominant colour combination — Combination of Gold and Blue
• 1.75” diameter
• Durability, protection against dullness and tarnishing
• HRP logo on one side along with slogans and/or numbers at the top and bottom
• An image of an HRP police officer interacting in the community on the other side

(Let’s hope the image isn’t of cops street-checking a bunch of Black people…)

My fellow beautiful nerds will know about challenge coins through the 99% Invisible podcast episode, “Coin Check,” which explained:

The United States Military is not known for being touchy-feely. There’s not much hugging or head-patting, and superiors don’t always have the authority to offer a serviceman a raise or promotion.

When a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard wants to show appreciation, love, sympathy, or professional connection, they can use challenge coins.

Challenge coins are not currency. Different branches of the military have different uses and customs for them, but when they’re being given or exchanged, the coins serve as literal tokens of gratitude. They can symbolize everything from a nod of appreciation to a deep personal connection.

Challenge coins don’t exactly look like regular coins. First of all, they’re usually pretty large — about two inches in diameter — and they can be in any shape and color imaginable. They can look like a ninja star, or a crown, or a ship, and be covered in glitter or glow-in-the-dark paint. Some have centers that can spin or have a built in bottle opener…

[C]oins are also given out occasionally to civilians. For that reason, you end up finding coins in places where you would not expect to find a connection to the military, such as in the hands of anti-war academics or journalists. When these coins get given out, they are a physical reminder of the fact that the military is not some faceless monolithic structure. The coins show that the military is an organization made of human beings.

Those bottle opener challenge coins could come in handy, because challenge coins are often used to play a drinking game. Different branches of the military have different rules for the game, but the gist of it is this: you can throw down your coin, and perhaps holler out “coin check!”; everyone else in the group must pull out their challenge coins, and whoever doesn’t have one buys a round of drinks.

But — if everyone has their coin on them, the person who initiated the coin check is liable for the tab.

Roman Mars, the genius behind 99% Invisible, so liked the idea that he had some made for the podcast. I have one:

My father was a U.S. Marine, and I vaguely remember him carrying a challenge coin, but amazingly — Dad was an insufferable pack rat — I’m not aware that my siblings have found any Marine challenge coins among his stuff.

But challenge coins are in the tradition of commemorative coins, a tradition that goes back to whatever emperor first minted coins. Weirdly, while my siblings didn’t find any challenge coins in Dad’s stuff, they did find a set of “P.E.I. Trade Dollars” issued by the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce between 1996 and 2000. (Presumably, the rival Shittier Summerside Chamber of Commerce didn’t issue commemorative coins.) Here they are:

I have no idea where Dad picked up the P.E.I. Trade Dollars or why he kept them — but I also have no idea why he needed six tire pressure gauges in his car or four compasses in the house or a few hundred funnels of various sizes out in the garage; he was a pack rat, he kept everything. All the same, I’m heading down to the States this weekend to see my mom and siblings, and am returning with the P.E.I. coins. I don’t know what I’ll do with them… maybe next time I meet some Islanders at the bar, I’ll issue a coin check challenge. Assuming the coins have no value, I’ll probably just give them away or recycle them. If for some reason a reader wants them, let me know and they’re yours.

All this is well and good, and I don’t want to make a big deal out of it… but is the police department issuing challenge coins part of the increasing militarization of police? Does it reflect a hidden drinking culture among cops? Or, is it just standard PR?

5. Simple answers to simple questions

“Dr. Amanda MacDonald is the first to admit she probably shouldn’t be working in Nova Scotia,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

“It was a poor financial move for me to come back home, but it was where I was always going to come anyway,” said MacDonald, who practises in Windsor. “But if you don’t have that same tie to the area, why would you come?”

Why would you come? For the world’s greatest time zone, of course.

But seriously, I’m sure doctors are a varied lot and have a range of reasons and motivations for where they set up shop, but I can’t imagine simple monetary compensation is top of the list for most. I mean, no matter where they go, they’ll land better salaries than most of their patients, but after the many years of schooling and a future lifetime of dedication and hard work, money is only going to take you so far. Quality of life would be the determining factor, at least for me.

6. War bounty

CP reporter Michael MacDonald interviews Michael Moosberger, the Dalhousie archivist, about the founding of the university:

British soldiers and sailors returned to Nova Scotia [from Maine, at the end of the War of 1812] carrying a substantial booty — about 10,000 British pounds collected as customs duties at Castine, Maine, a strategic port near the mouth of the Penobscot River.

The spoils of war would be used to establish Dalhousie College.


The institution was named after the man who called for its creation, George Ramsay, Nova Scotia’s new lieutenant-governor and the Earl of Dalhousie.


It was Ramsay’s idea to set up a non-denominational school open to all in Halifax and modelled after the University of Edinburgh, near his home in Scotland.

But his plan didn’t sit well with the local clergy, and Ramsay soon left Halifax after he was appointed governor-in-chief of British North America.

“Without his influence, the institution faltered,” the university said in a statement released earlier this week.

“To have a secular college in competition with a Roman Catholic (St. Mary’s) college and an Anglican (King’s) college, they were not enthusiastic about that,” says Moosberger.

I’ve known that Dal was started with the proceeds of the war, but the struggle between the upstart Dalhousie College and the entrenched religious colleges intrigues me. I’d like to know more about it. I’m also eagerly awaiting Afua Cooper’s upcoming report on how the university profited from slavery.

I tell my American friends that two of our universities were the products of war with the United States. King’s College was formerly in New York City, but after the revolutionary war the Church of England-run institution was a bit much for the anti-royalists, so the college packed up and moved to Nova Scotia. The buildings back in NYC were repurposed as Columbia University, and King’s had its own storied history here in Nova Scotia before landing on Coburg Street.

7. Roger Taylor is wrong

The Grafton Street Glory Hole, with the convention centre above it. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Serious, is Roger Taylor on the Ramia payroll or what? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more bootlicking, noncritical look at any local development issue — and that’s saying a lot.

Read the whole amazing thing, but I especially like this part:

The Nova Centre, which is located in the newly renovated Argyle Street district, is going to be a success simply because of that location. It is in the centre of the action and that is where companies and businesses want to be located.

That will be especially true once all aspects of the building are completed, particularly the hotel.

While some people have been questioning the viability of the hotel, with all kinds of rumours about why an operation hasn’t been named yet, I have been told by a reliable source that an unnamed hotelier has signed on and has held off making an announcement until he can come to Halifax.

Reliable source! Good old Ojay Amiaray.




No public meetings.


Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — the committee will rubber stamp an eight-storey development at Hollis and Bishop Streets.

Public Information Meeting – Case 20795 (Thursday, 7pm, Cafeteria, Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Senior Elementary School, Timberlea) — a Lakeside development.



Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — the committee will be asking Service Nova Scotia about “Service Modernization and Access Centres.” Maybe someone can ask how come they don’t have an Access Nova Scotia on the peninsula or downtown Dartmouth, and so everyone who lives downtown has gotta take crappy bus service way out to the suburbs.


Economic Development (Thursday, 10am, One Government Place) — for some unfathomable reason, the committee has asked Jordi Morgan to speak about “Red Tape Reduction.” We’ve been on this train for 35 years — taxes are too high for businesses, there’s too much red tape, blah, blah, blah, and every government has responded by cutting business taxes and doing away with regulations and still they come back and say taxes are too high and there’s too much red tape, blah, blah, blah. Truth is, business promoters like Morgan won’t be happy until we achieve the tax- and red tape-free Nirvana of Somalia, and even then they’ll blame business failures on governments.

On campus



Voice Recital (Wednesday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Michael Donovan will perform.

Caregiver Support and Discussion (Wednesday, 12pm, Room B400, lower level, Killam Library) — Janice MacInnis will lead a discussion group. Register here.

Derek Twyman: Freedom After a 160-Year Sentence (Wednesday, 4pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — from the event listing:

In 1989, at age 26, Canadian citizen Derek Twyman was sentenced to 160 years in a U.S. prison for a spate of non-violent burglaries in North Carolina. Join Twyman at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University to hear his story about being released from prison early, in 2017, after serving nearly 30 years — and find out how some Schulich School of Law alumni, faculty, and students helped bring about his release. 

Disease-on-a-Dish (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Brendan Leung will speak on “Towards Disease-on-a-Dish: Applications of Microtissues and Micropatterning Technologies in Advanced Culture and Assay Platforms.”

International Partnerships (Wednesday, 5pm, Nova Scotia Archives) — John Cameron moderates a panel discussion titled “Can International Partnerships be Successful? Lessons from Dalhousie’s Health and Oceans Programs.” Panelists include Kristal Ambrose (Marine Management), Megan Bailey (Marine Affairs), Ronald George (Anesthesia), and Janice Graham (Pediatrics).


YouTube video

Surviving Progress (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, Marion McCain Building) — a screening of the 2011 documentary which “connects the financial collapse, growing inequity and the Wall Street oligarchy with future technology, sustainability, and the fate of civilization itself.”

Love Is In The Stars (Thursday, 7:15pm, Planetarium, Dunn Building) — $5, minimum age 13 with parental guidance. Reservations required.

Failure — A Key Ingredient For Success? (Thursday, 7:30pm, in the auditorium named for a bank, Marion McCain Building) — Liesl Gambold moderates “Fail Forward: Falling Short and Climbing Up,” billed as “an informal forum to hear about the failures and experiences that led to the success of several FASS faculty members and a Dal Tigers coach.”

Saint Mary’s


YouTube video

The Order of Things (Thursday, 4pm, Student Centre 301 B) — a screening of Andrea Segre’s 2017 film.



Liederabend: An Evening of Song (Thursday, 7:30pm, President’s Lodge) — Marcia Swanston will speak.

In the harbour

6am: ZIM Texas, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Malaga, Spain
10am: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for Saint John
10:30am: Toreador, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
11am: STI Notting Hill, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Imperial Oil
4:30pm: Frieda, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
4:30pm: ZIM Texas, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
6pm: Transporter, heavy lift carrier, arrives at Fairview Cove from Freeport, Louisiana


I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, with Global reporters Alexander Quon and Marieke Walsh, at 2pm.

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

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  1. By having 4 contenders in the race for leader the PC party could be adding $350,000 apiece to its coffers. Perhaps that is the whole point of this exercise.

  2. Dr Afua Cooper was scheduled to produce a report by August 2017, then it was scheduled for late 2017.
    The planned public forums for March and April 2017 were not held.

    1. The scholarly panel was announced March 31 2016 with a report expected by June 2017 :
      and then in December 2017 : ” In an email sent to The Signal in November, Cooper confirmed the panel’s findings will be submitted by the end of December.”

      Does anyone have knowledge of the date the report will be made public ?

  3. The data about the difference in family medicine income is more or less the same for all specialties. Most of us are here for the quality of life or family reasons. I have friends and family who have decided not to return home to practice for economic reasons. It’s a tough call. A lot of medicine is about delayed gratification. Study longer, work harder in order to enjoy it later. We made the decision to return to NS because there is only one kick at the can. Returning for retirement just seemed too far away. We may eventually leave but I hope not. It’s hard to begrudge doctors or teachers or nurses for leaving for economic reasons when there is a significant disparity. There is a dire need for physicians in NB and the patients will be just as grateful as in NS. If you can retire earlier, take more time off or just work four days a week, that extra income does provide a better quality of life. I still think return for service agreements are the way to go but the DOHW would disagree. Not sure what will come of all this but the province should have freed up a bunch of money with their bulk generic drug pricing agreement. Haven’t heard much about it…

  4. Challenge coins aren’t that unusual in law enforcement, and this won’t be the first time HRP has had them- I know somebody who received one a few years ago. I’m curious to see what the new ones will look like.

  5. The lesson from IBM’s Phoenix pay “system”, is if government wants something done right, do it yourself. Whatever you do, don’t contract it out. The federal government’s custom-made pay system worked fine for decades until a Stephen Harper brainstorm decided it made sense to pay millions to IBM to create a new system plus IBM would get paid to keep on trying to fix it.

    Yet this is framed in the media as a “government mess” and not a private sector f____-up.

    1. Agreed. People like to make the assumption that private is always more competent, but I’ve found there is an equal opportunity for incompetence in both. Organizations are only as good as the people running them. I’ve worked for many a private company who has wasted money hand-over-fist. The general tax-paying public doesn’t seem to care because they’re supposedly not paying for it. But they’re indirectly paying for every screw up and wasted dime in the form of increased prices and/or decreased service.

  6. For many years my dad worked on Amsterdam Avenue in New York City, pretty much across the street from the gates to the main campus of Columbia University. He was also on the Board of Governors of King’s College. Once a year during that period he would walk over to Columbia, stop in at the president’s office, and present a bill for the use of the property on behalf of King’s. I believe they gave him a peppercorn, or somesuch, each year.

  7. As a life long resident of this community, I am absolutely indignant that the Police Department would spend taxpayers money on trinkets. There are far greater priorities than buying souvenirs.

  8. If you’re not interested in keeping the PEI coins, put me on the list as someone that would like to have them! I am not a big pack rat but I have a bit of a money collection (primarily old large denomination notes from 1920s Germany).

      1. The RCMP have challenge coins. While I am not an RCMP member, I have one and keep it in my wallet. I covered one of their formal events and a slightly tipsy senior member (well, very senior) gave me one. I mean to produce it if ever I get pulled over.

        As for provincial coins, I have some pre-Confederation NB coins and I think Nova Scotia too. Also Newfoundland coins, several of them, from when it was its own Dominion prior to 1949.

  9. This line from the Nova Center article blows my mind:
    “He also pointed out that Nova Centre was a catalyst for much of the downtown construction going on today in Halifax. There wasn’t one construction crane in the downtown until it revealed what the possibilities could be for other developers.”

    I can’t remember a time when I didn’t see at least one construction crane in the downtown core.

    1. So that is an admission of guilt that an already high office vacancy rate is going to get even worse with the completion of the Nova Centre.


  10. As an Acadia graduate, I heard that one of the reasons Acadia was founded was because Baptists weren’t welcome at Dalhousie or Kings. So they decided to form their own university, specifically stipulating that there would be no religious requirements for admission.

    And please please please don’t let the unnamed hotelier be Trump….