1. Northern Pulp takes the province to court

Northern Pulp Mill during a shutdown in October 2019. Photo: Joan Baxter

Jennifer Henderson and Joan Baxter report on the news that Northern Pulp is taking the province to court, and on the Pictou Landing First Nation’s reaction.

Yesterday afternoon the company issued a news release stating it will ask the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to undertake a judicial review of the Nova Scotia Environment Minister Gordon Wilson’s December 17, 2019 decision. It requires the company to submit a full environmental assessment report before deciding to approve its proposed effluent treatment facility to replace the current one at Boat Harbour…

The applicants are asking the court to order the Nova Scotia Environment Department to produce ALL records, correspondence and documents related to the December 17 decision. Most importantly, they want the court to quash or kill the Minister’s decision that led to closing down the mill.

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2. Former cop says he was racially profiled

Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella is going to have his hands full. Photo: Zane Woodford

Maurice Carvery, a former officer with the Halifax Regional Police, says he was racially profiled earlier this month, says Alicia Draus, writing for Global News.

Carvery, who is Black, says he was pulled over on Lacewood Drive, with his kids in the car, because his registration sticker had expired.

“I said I will address the situation pronto,” said Carvery.

He said he considered the interaction with the officer cordial, but then he said things escalated when more police cars showed up.

Carvery says he continued to press the officer for an answer as to what warranted this type of response, but the officer refused to answer him. When the officer walked away, Carvery says he got out of his vehicle to ask again, and that’s when he was threatened with arrest.

Carvery thinks the only reason he wasn’t arrested is that he knew his rights and communicated them. He filed a complaint with the Board of Police Commissioners and decided to go public after the Santina Rao story broke.

3. Halifax cab driver admits to hugging and kissing passenger

John McPhee continues his reporting on the trial of former Halifax taxi driver Tesfom Kidane Mengis for the Chronicle Herald.

Yesterday, the trial focused on whether or not Mengis’s police interrogation should be admitted as evidence. (The defence argues he didn’t understand his rights because of his understanding of English.)

McPhee writes:

During the interrogation, Mengis told [Constable Jasmin] Razic that he didn’t know the woman didn’t want to be hugged and kissed.

“If she was mad, she would have said something to me, you know what I mean?” Mengis said. “I would apologize, if she was mad.”

As for the woman’s skirt, Razic didn’t ask Mengis directly whether he hauled it up her back. In a part of the interrogation that isn’t clear on the recording, Mengis appears to agree he may have touched the woman’s skirt as she got out of the cab.

The trial is being presided over by Judge Gregory Lenehan, who was famously derided for saying “a drunk can consent” during the trial of another Halifax cab driver, Bassam Al-Rawi, who was acquitted. Earlier in the week, McPhee reported that Lenehan chided defense lawyer Godfred Chongatera for a line of questioning focused on the woman’s clothing: “I don’t care if she was topless. What difference does it make?… What she was wearing is irrelevant.”

4. Details emerge in case of doctor accused of sexual misconduct

One of our two stock “doctor” photos.

Meanwhile, in Cape Breton, Wendy Martin reports for CBC on disciplinary hearing for Dr. Manivasan Moodley. The Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons released details of two accusations against Moodley, an obstetrician, yesterday. The College has scheduled a disciplinary hearing for February.

Martin writes:

In the case of a patient referred to only as A.B., the college alleges Moodley commented inappropriately on the patient’s appearance, performed a physical exam in an sexualized manner and asked questions of a sexual nature that were not relevant to the medical issues.

For patient C.D., the college’s allegations include that Moodley unnecessarily requested an internal exam, complimented her on the colour of her underwear and suggested seeing the patient at her home and noted he knew where she lived. The college said Moodley then violated physician-patient boundaries by seeking out the patient at her workplace.

Meanwhile, Martin reports, about 80 people turned up for a rally in support of the doctor, holding signs including one that said, “Stop abusing doctors.”

5. Community group set up to fight Owl’s Head sale

Satellite view of Owl’s Head. Photo: Google Maps.

A local group fighting to save Owl’s Head from development as a golf course has scheduled a first community meeting for this Sunday at the Ship Harbour Community Hall. In a media release, the group says:

This meeting will feature informed presentations about the immediate and potential value of this area, including the value of maintaining public ownership of the coastline. We will also examine the negative impacts that de-listing of protected areas would have for parks and protected areas across the province.

The meeting is hosted by the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association. There is also a Facebook group called  Save Little Harbour/Owls Head Nova Scotia From Becoming A Golf Course.


Pema Chodron quits

Pema Chodron
Pema Chodron. Photo: Robin Holland. Creative Commons Licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Earlier this week, the Shambhala Times ran a letter by Pema Chodron, in which she announced she was stepping down as an acharya, or senior teacher in Shambhala.

This, to put it mildly, is a big deal.

Pema Chodron (born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) is perhaps the best-known face of Shambhala Buddhism. Born in New York, she studied at University of California at Berkeley and went on to a career as an elementary school teacher in California and New Mexico. She became a student of Chogyam Trungpa, the founder of Shambhala, in 1972, was fully ordained as a nun in 1981, and moved to rural Cape Breton in 1984, to run Gampo Abbey, in Pleasant Bay.

She’s written a string of bestsellers, been interviewed by Oprah for her magazine and on TV, and is an engaging speaker. I went to see her — I’m guessing in the early 2000s —  when she spoke at Fort Massey United Church, and the place was packed.

Chodron was mentioned in the “Project Sunshine” report that detailed allegations of sexual coercion and violence within Shambhala. In the report, a woman says when she approached Chodron and disclosed having been assaulted, Chodron told her, “I don’t believe you.” She later apologized, but did not say anything about the allegations of sexual misconduct levelled at the Shambhala leader, Sakyong Mipham.

That’s changed.

Chodron is in her 80s, and it’s been an open secret she’s been contemplating retirement. She could have just gone quietly. Instead, her resignation letter, addressed to the other senior teachers and Shambhala board, is pretty pointed.

When I read the recent letter from the Sakyong saying that he wished to start teaching again and would do so for all who requested, I was disheartened.  I experienced this news as such a disconnect from all that’s occurred in the last year and half.  It feels unkind, unskillful and unwise for the Sakyong to just go forward as if nothing had happened without relating compassionately to all of those who have been hurt and without doing some deep inner work on himself.

Then came the letter from the Board informing the Shambhala community that they have invited the Sakyong to give the Rigden Abhisheka in June, and I was dumbfounded.  The seemingly very clear message that we are returning to business as usual distresses me deeply.  How can we return to business as usual when there is no path forward for the vast majority of the community who are devoted to the vision of Shambhala and are yearning for accountability, a fresh start, and some guidance on how to proceed?   I find it discouraging that the bravery of those who had the courage to speak out does not seem to be effecting more significant change in the path forward.

For me, personally, to have the very first indication of how we are going to manifest be that we are returning to business as usual is shocking and also heartbreaking.

I feel that as a community committed to creating an enlightened society, we deserve something better than business as usual.

In practical terms, her retirement may not change much — Chodron herself says in her letter she had not been active as an acharya for a while — but she’s definitely making a statement as she steps down.

I am not a member of the Shambhala community, though I have in the past participated in programs. Our local Shambhala Centre, in St. Margaret’s Bay is used by many non-Buddhists for things like yoga and Tai Chi classes. The centre removed photos of Sakyong Mipham and Chogyam Trungpa from their main room last year, though there are still a couple of small ones in the centre’s common area. A proposal to return the photos to the shrine room (presumably another sign of business as usual) was voted down at the local board’s last meeting.


1. Finnish city adds carbon calculator to app

Screenshot of the Tampere app
The Tampere app home screen.

The city of Tampere, in southwestern Finland, is comparable in size to Halifax, with a regional population of about 350,000.

In February 2019, the city launched an app for both residents and visitors (it’s available in Finnish and English). You can use it to log into your library account, get information on city services, find out where there is parking available, and use the map feature to figure out travel routes. I presume the buses have GPS, because you can track the location of your bus as you wait for it.

Recently, the app added a new feature: a carbon tracker. When you choose a route, the app tells you how much carbon you’ll keep out of the atmosphere by not driving. You can save a few hundred grams by walking or biking to the library from city hall instead of doing the five-minute drive. By the way, the library looks amazing.

Tampere City Library. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tampere has made a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030, and this feature of the app is one small step towards getting there by making people more aware of their individual contributions. The app also gamifies carbon savings by allowing you to see how you rank against others.

I realize we need huge structural change and there is a risk in individualizing impacts, but it seems to me there is also value in normalizing the idea of measuring and trying to reduce our carbon output on a daily level. Gregor Craigie, CBC radio’s morning show host in Victoria, now reads the atmospheric carbon readings daily as part of his broadcast. (Recently, the number went down for the first time since he started doing it.)

The Halifax Recycles app is great — notifying you of collection dates and allowing you to query a comprehensive database about what goes where. (I can never remember what I’m supposed to do with used pizza boxes.) Despite the Halifax website redesign fiasco, I would love to see a Halifax city app that incorporates the waste collection one and other information.

2. Postmedia and the “legacy runway”

Postmedia chair Paul Godfrey

Because I am lucky enough to be a shareholder, I got the Postmedia annual report in the mail the other day. (My shares are generally valued at about $2 or less; they were worth more when I got them as part of a lawsuit settlement brought against the company by a group of freelancers.)

In the report, Postmedia CEO Andrew MacLeod talks about the company’s two-pronged plan to “extend the legacy runway and grow digital revenues.” The legacy runway is what you and I would know as newspapers.

We will continue to extend the legacy runway through ongoing focus on print advertising and circulation revenue stabilization, continued strategic cost cutting and focus on repayment of debt. And our digital growth strategy will continue leveraging our strengths across our network and through new opportunities to grow digital revenues.

I was interested in seeing how the company’s revenues break down.

In the last fiscal year, Postmedia brought in $259.4 million in print advertising. That may sound like a lot, but it’s down $49.1 million from the year before. Print circulation revenue was $206.7 million, down $13.7 million from the year before.

Digital revenue was $125.1 million for the fiscal year, an increase of $2.4 million from the year before.

In terms of percentages, what this means is that circulation and advertising revenue are falling much faster than digital revenues are growing.



Budget Committee – Contingency (Friday, 9:30am, City Hall) — Here’s the agenda.


No public meetings.

On campus


Chemistry of Renewable Carbon (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Francesca M. Kerton from Memorial University will talk.

New tools and strategies for managing berry crop pests (Friday, 1:30pm, SLC Program Room 219) — Justin Renkema from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will talk.

Women’s Rights and the 17th Century High Commission for Ecclesiastical Causes (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Tim Stretton from Saint Mary’s University will talk.

Saint Mary’s

Winter 2020 Convocation (Friday, 10am, McNally Theatre Auditorium) — Morning ceremony for business undergraduates and graduate degrees in the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research in Business.

2:00pm — Undergraduate programs in the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Science, and graduate degrees in the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research in the disciplines of Arts and Science.

Mount Saint Vincent

Sunetra Ekanayake: Botanical Watercolours (until Sunday, MSVU Art Gallery ) — the last weekend to see this exhibition of botanical watercolours.

In the harbour

06:00: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
10:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
11:00: Morning Calypso, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
12:00: Onego Trader, bulker. arrives at Sheet Harbour from New Orleans
16:00: Morning Calypso sails for sea
16:30: ZIM Luanda sails for New York


I’ve noticed the Spotify catalogue is distinctly lacking when it comes to 1970s and 80s Montreal punk and DIY rock.

Philip Moscovitch is a freelance writer, audio producer, fiction writer, and editor of Write Magazine.

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  1. Excellent article from former members of the HRM Board of Police Commissioners :

    ” The Police Act requires police commissions to provide civilian governance in relation to the enforcement of law, the maintenance of law and order and the prevention of crime in the municipality. The board must also provide the administrative direction, organization and policy required to maintain an adequate, effective and efficient police department. No other body is empowered to do this.

    Police commissions are independent. They are not subject to direction from the mayor, municipal council or the chief administrative officer. The police commission is the only body with authority to direct the chief of police regarding policing matters. ”
    ” Police commission authority is often misunderstood. Commissioners have the power to provide direction and policies to the chief of police, who is then under a duty to implement them. This authority includes so-called “operational” matters. The only relevant restrictions in the Police Act are the prohibitions against commissions being involved in specific prosecutions or investigations, and the actual day-to-day direction of the police department. The expectation that commissions act on behalf of the public and in the public interest in directing police actions includes operational matters such as street checks. They should also monitor compliance with policies and directives.”

  2. Speaking of carbon footprints, I was wondering recently what the carbon footprint is of kids’ hockey. One of my neighbours has two boys who play. They travel to and from home almost every day for practices, and then to multiple arenas in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on weekends. Every weekend. Multiply that by the number of kids in hockey. And the vehicles are not economy cars. Another parent I know has 3 kids of different ages in hockey (3 different leagues in the GTA) and they bought a truck the size of a Humvee to carry kids and gear. I know, I know, it’s Canada. But if kids only played in their local leagues, or (gasp!) played pickup, what would we save in carbon. Soccer, Baseball, all these sports demand travel all over hell’s half acre. How about we keep it local? Maybe it would be more fun, too.

    1. The very reason I don’t want my kids playing hockey or soccer. I’d be fine with them playing locally once or twice a week but there’s no reason to drive all over the maritimes for children’s sport.