1. Why aren’t Cabot Links or Ben Cowan-Dewar registered as lobbyists?

“You would have to be completely foolhardy to question the brain trust that has formed to support spending public money to build an airport in Inverness but foolhardy’s my middle name so — hold my beer,” writes Mary Campbell for the Cape Breton Spectator:

The group — consisting of former premiers, businesspeople, consultants and Mary Tulle — has launched a website that grabs you by the lapels and yells:

“More visitors to Cape Breton benefits us all.”

Got that, you naysayers who think the airport is simply intended to benefit Ben Cowan-Dewar and his golf courses (Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs)?

Campbell goes on to give some very good analysis of the airport proposal and commentary about why it is wrong to pursue the idea.

Click here to read “Considering the Case for an Inverness Airport.”

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
White space

As I was reading Campbell, I wondered who was behind the “Build Cape Breton” website, so did a simple Whois search of it. I found that:

Registrant Name: Redacted for Privacy Purposes

Hmmm, that’s odd. Why would you go the trouble and expense of plugging a major government expense, including bringing together big names (who obviously name themselves) without saying who you are? (There’s no contact or other identifying information on the site, either.)

On June 20, Tom Ayers reported for the CBC that:

Premier Stephen McNeil says the provincial and federal governments are prepared to consider funding a new airport in Inverness County, N.S.

The owners of Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses have been asking for an airport to be built that would bring golfers closer to their operations.

McNeil said the federal government asked the province to include the proposal on a list of joint infrastructure projects, and the province agreed.

So, the “owners of Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses have been asking” for government financial support for the airport, which obviously would be built to benefit the golf courses. By any meaningful definition of the word, that means they’ve been lobbying both federal and provincial government officials about the proposal.

And yet, neither Cabot nor Ben Cowan-Dewar appear on the federal or provincial lobbyist registry.

I guess Cowan-Dewar falls into his own supersaviour category and the lobbyist rules don’t apply to him.

2. Shrubsall

William Shrubsall

“Canadian parole board members did not challenge factual misrepresentations made to them by one of Nova Scotia’s most notorious sex predators before their controversial decision last year that paved the way for his deportation to the U.S., where he could be freed in a matter of years,” reports Richard Woodbury for the CBC:

New information from that parole hearing, obtained by CBC News through a source not authorized to speak publicly, sheds more light on what [William] Shrubsall told the two parole board members, although it’s not clear what impact his false and misleading statements about his past crimes had on their final decision.

It also reveals that parole members did not query Shrubsall in detail about a former inmate he said he was planning to work for post-incarceration, a man who turns out to be a convicted sex offender.

Stephen Kimber reviewed the decision to release Shrubsall here.

3. Right whale deaths

A right whale. Photo: DFO

“The recent deaths of four endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is alarming, given that the massive mammals are just arriving in Canadian waters for the season, a leading marine biologist said Wednesday,” reports Michael MacDonald for the Canadian Press:

Boris Worm, a biology professor and well-known whale expert at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said the sudden spate of deaths this month stands in contrast to last season, when there were no recorded deaths linked to ship strikes or entanglements.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said in an interview, noting the four recorded deaths mark the second-worst mortality rate in the past 10 years. “And it’s only the end of June — so it’s probably not the end of the story.”

Sean Brillant, a senior conservation biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, said part of the problem is that the whales have changed their migration patterns since 2014-15.

Instead of heading to their traditional summer foraging grounds in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin off southwestern Nova Scotia, the population has shifted to a more northerly route.

“They’re playing on a new highway,” he said. “What’s making it more difficult is that we don’t actually have a good handle on where they are or how they’re using the Gulf of St. Lawrence.”

And since that article was written, there is word of a fifth right whale death:

A cause of death for the fifth whale, spotted on the shore of Quebec’s Anticosti Island Thursday, has yet to be determined. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says scientists collected samples for analysis.

There are about 400 right whales left. The death of five of them in a single season is indeed alarming.

An academic study co-authored by 10 researchers and published in the journal Oceanography found that the whales have changed their migration patterns because of climate change; the abstract of the study:

As climate trends accelerate, ecosystems will be pushed rapidly into new states, reducing the potential efficacy of conservation strategies based on historical patterns. In the Gulf of Maine, climate-driven changes have restructured the ecosystem rapidly over the past decade. Changes in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation have altered deepwater dynamics, driving warming rates twice as high as the fastest surface rates. This has had implications for the copepod Calanus finmarchicus, a critical food supply for the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The oceanographic changes have driven a deviation in the seasonal foraging patterns of E. glacialis upon which conservation strategies depend, making the whales more vulnerable to ship strikes and gear entanglements. The effects of rapid climate-driven changes on a species at risk undermine current management approaches.

That was translated into regular-people speak by the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences:

New research connects recent changes in the movement of North Atlantic right whales to decreased food availability and rising temperatures in Gulf of Maine’s deep waters. Right whales have been showing up in unexpected places in recent years, putting the endangered species at increased risk…

Right whales have historically made an autumn journey to the mouth of the Bay of Fundy to feast in preparation for winter. In the absence of abundant Calanus in that region, right whales are following their food — which means foraging well outside of the areas established to protect them.

The misalignment between conservation measures and the whales’ current behavior makes them much more vulnerable to lethal encounters with ships and fishing gear.

We’re playing catchup by trying to frantically realign protective conservation measures with the new migration patterns, but it’s anyone’s guess if the whales will settle into a predictable and recurring pattern that can be planned for.

Climate change is killing the whales.

4. Erratum

I got very confused on the lead pipe story yesterday, mixing up Halifax Water’s numbers into gibberish. Part of my confusion was that my own house has lead, or so I’m told. Still, check your pipes.


While pursuing something else entirely yesterday, I was reading through back copies of the 4th Estate, the lefty Halifax newspaper of the 1970s, and stumbled upon repeated references to the Shelburne School for Boys.

The 4th Estate was following the story of a 15-year-old boy who had escaped from the school and had made his way back to Halifax. The boy alleged he had been repeatedly beaten by other boys and adult supervisors at the school, and he feared for his safety should he return to the school.

Reporter Brenda Large wrote:

The 4th Estate has received repeated reports of violence, brutality and sexual incidents involving staff and boys at the School, which was built in Shelburne over the heated protests of the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers, doctors, church groups and others.

Shelburne is on Nova Scotia’s south shore, about 138 miles south-west of Halifax. Professionals concerned about the school being placed there argued that it was far from special rehabilitation services in Halifax. There has also been concern that the institution has failed to attract an adequate, well-trained staff because of its remote location and old-style reformatory atmosphere.

The Shelburne institution was constructed while James M. Harding was provincial Welfare Minister and is in what was then Mr. Harding’s riding. “It was a straight political thing. No other judgment was used to put it there,” says one Halifax social worker.”

(The move to Shelburne occurred in 1948.)

“Obviously, things are not all bad at Shelburne,” commented Large, “but if even 10 per cent of the things I’ve heard from former inmates and runaways are true, then Shelburne needs a thorough investigation by competent welfare officials.”

Large went on to interview several other boys about their experiences at the school, concluding with what in retrospect was an ominous note:

Another recent Shelburne inmate says boys are constantly being pounded, slapped and kicked. “But there’s no sense printing that. Everybody will believe the counsellors. Nobody believes us.”

“Some guys are ready to commit suicide so they don’t have to go back there. They’ll try to get admitted to the Nova Scotia Hospital so they won’t have to go to Shelburne.”

Large continued to report on the school, and on February 1, 1973 wrote of a 13-year-old boy named Richard Alberry who hanged himself with a rope on a playground swing at the school in August of 1972.

Large noted:

The 4th Estate carried critical articles about the Shelburne school in 1971 which were bitterly resented by many school officials who found their tone and content “irresponsible.”

However, complaints about the school continue to come to the 4th Estate from parents, boys who’ve been there, and professionals.

It wasn’t until 1991 that the RCMP began investigating accusations of sexual abuse at the school. The Kaufman Report of 2002 noted:

By far the most notorious case of reported abuse in a government-run institution in Nova Scotia is that of Patrick MacDougall. It was a complaint against MacDougall in 1991 that sparked an RCMP investigation which took approximately 18 months and which led to the first (and only) successful prosecution of any counsellor or former counsellor from Shelburne. The complainants in the case subsequently initiated civil proceedings against the Province – proceedings which spurred the Government to consider and ultimately implement the response which is the subject of my review.

The police investigation into MacDougall’s conduct began in January 1991, when Peter Felix Gormley contacted the RCMP in Charlottetown to file a complaint of sexual assault. He alleged that while he was at Shelburne from 1963 to 1968, a counsellor by the name of ‘Jim’ MacDougall had fondled him and performed oral sex on him. He also stated that he saw the counsellor assault other residents, some of whom he could name, some of whom he could not. The RCMP determined that ‘Jim’ MacDougall was actually one Patrick MacDougall, who had been transferred out of Shelburne in the mid-1970s due to an allegation of having fondled a resident. The RCMP believed that given MacDougall’s 17 years at Shelburne, there may have been other boys with similar experiences…

Cesar Lalo. Photo: Facebook

The following year, 2003, Cesar Lalo, a supervisor at Shelburne, was convicted of sexually abusing boys at the school. I’ve lost track of how many boys he is alleged to have abused — I think it now numbers in the hundreds. I wrote about three of the accusations in April 2017:

In the past two weeks, two men have filed suit against the province for what they say was the sexual abuse they suffered at the Shelburne School for Boys during the period that Cesar Lalo was working as a probation officer at the school. He was convicted of sexually assaulting 29 boys from 1973 to 1989, but the number of victims is much higher. Lalo was sentenced to nine years in prison. He was released from prison in 2009, but was returned to prison a couple of times for violating his parole conditions. He is now out again on parole and lives in Ontario.

Two of Lalo’s victims have won court judgments, while 30 others have settled out of court. There are many more men who say they were victims. The men who have recently filed suit come from different parts of the province, have different lawyers, and appear not to know about each other. I’m aware of a third man who also has taken legal action against the province, saying he too was abused at the school.

That third case is the subject of a fascinating court ruling that is part of the public record, but I’m not going to name someone who says he is a victim of a sexual assault and I can’t really discuss the case in detail without identifying him. The short of it is that the man has a well-deserved reputation for lying to the court on entirely unrelated matters, but his account of being sexually abused at Shelburne is in my opinion credible (I’ve discussed it with him), and that abuse might go a long way to explaining his subsequent broken life. The court ruling, which involves procedural issues far too complex to get into here, cites court decisions going back to the 13th century — I’ve never before read anything remotely like it — and ultimately finds that the man has no standing before the court. It’s under appeal.

In the past couple of months, three additional men have filed lawsuits related to Lalo’s behaviour at the school.

The Shelburne story is horrific, and it brings together all the hallmarks of failed policy that we’ve seen time and again: a political patronage decision that ignored advice from professionals, calling out reporters who look into allegations of wrongdoing as “irresponsible,” attempts to cover up and ignore problems, and an unwillingness to fully make the situation right in the aftermath.

And this isn’t even the story I was researching yesterday.


No public meetings.

On campus



Roddy Campbell’s Retirement Get-together (Friday, 2pm, Tupper Link) — if you know Roddy and want to give him a retirement watch or some such, you’re welcome to join.

In the harbour

05:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
06:00: Jennifer Schepers, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
07:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
08:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, moves from anchorage to Fairview Cove
13:00: Ef Ava sails for Portland
15:00: Sycara V, superyacht, arrives at Tall Ships Quay from New York; I don’t know who’s on the thing, but you can buy it for 59 million.
15:30: Atlantic Sun sails for New York
21:30: Jennifer Schepers  sails for Kingston, Jamaica


I’m turning my attention to the Glen Assoun matter for the next week; our court appearance is Tuesday, and I have to first prepare for it and then afterwards do some fairly intense reporting. So we’ll have guest writers for Morning File starting tomorrow.

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  1. I find “nit-pickers” annoying. They’re like . . . trolls. They de-focus and dissipate the energy of the community for meaningful action on real problems.

  2. On one of the local TV news programs they presented the results of a poll concerning what should be done for the right whales. It seemed a majority “believed” they should be helped, but the fishing industry should be prioritized above that effort. People need to be told that whales play an important part in fertilizing the oceans for the benefit of those life forms at the bottom of the food chain that support all the rest.
    No whales, no fishery.

  3. Wow — two days in a row that I find myself harping on your headlines, but saying “Climate change is killing right whales” is a gross mischaracterization of what is happening. Recent studies suggest that climate change is causing them to migrate to new areas (because their main food source is moving north) — but most undoubtably what is killing them is HUMANS. By hunting them to near extinction (i.e. why there are only about 400 left), blindly running into them with ships (both large and small), and finally by filling the ocean with rope and buoys that entangle them.

    If it wasn’t for people, I’m sure they’d do just fine, climate change or no.

      1. Yes, fair point. But these whales were in pretty dire straights before their main food source shifted north.

        All I mean is, climate change is awful (the biggest environmental catastrophe we’re going to have to face in the coming decades/centuries) and it’s going to kill lots of different animals. But for right whales, the interplay of AGW, natural variability, and changing ecosystems is such a minuscule effect compared to the human steamroller that has wiped them out. Most scientists (like me) consider accuracy in attribution to be important, and it doesn’t help the cause(s) to paint everything with a CLIMATE CHANGE brush.

  4. I think CIRA obscures site registrar information by default. My own business, and The Examiner whoises yield the same result.

  5. The Shelburne case certainly was horrific, and Cesar Lalo and Patrick MacDougall certainly are guilty of abusing a LOT of children. All the same, let’s not forget another thing the Kaufman report said…..

    The compensation program was exceedingly flawed, and several employees accused of abuse were in fact innocent. Worse, it made a lot of real abuse victims look like scam artists.

    So numerous recommendations were made to prevent these problems from happening again.

    A horrific story all the way around, for everyone concerned.