On campus
In the harbour


1. Taxi driver

A taxi driver was charged with sexual assault yesterday. We’re working on a story related to this and might have more later today.

2. Fires and Canadian government paternalism

Now that it’s raining, we’re all allowed to go walk in the woods, says the Department of Natural Resources in a press release. Also, all the fires are contained or out.

I found the travel ban interesting. All the while I reported on fires in California — gigantic fires spread across hundreds of thousands of acres, dozens of fires at the same time, hard-to-fight fires because of impossible terrain — I don’t recall there ever being a ban on hiking, no matter how dry the summer or how much was burning. And it gets really, really dry in California.

I don’t know what the difference is. Maybe it’s American liberty-at-all-costs versus Canadian government paternalism.

It reminds me of that old joke:

Q. How do you get 100 Canadians to leave the swimming pool?

A. You say, “Please get out of the pool!”

I don’t think a hiking ban would work in California; everyone would just tell the government to shove it. But so far as I can tell, the hiking ban in Nova Scotia was widely followed and not criticized anywhere.

3. Northern Pulp mill

Northern Pulp Mill. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Northern Pulp Mill. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Northern Pulp and those who want its mill emissions cleaned up agree that things are improving at the Pictou County plant,” reports Francis Campbell for Local Xpress:

But members of the Clean Up the Pictou County Pulp Mill group say there is still a long way to go.

“It’s definitely better than it was two years ago but there are still really bad days,” said Dave Gunning, an award-winning singer-songwriter who lives in Lyons Brook, not far from the Abercrombie Point mill. “There are still bad days where there will be a real thick mill smog in certain concentrated areas. It’s not great, it’s better than it was two years ago but they were operating at record-breaking production with no filtration on the stacks a couple of years ago. There is still particulate or dust escaping from the mill and we don’t really know what it is.”

Campbell goes on to give the details of emission records for the plant, and the lack of any meaningful enforcement from the province.

4. Bomb threat

Not blowed up. Photo: Stephen Archibald
Not blowed up. Photo: Stephen Archibald

Police responded to an unnamed building “located in the 5800 block of College Street for a bomb threat after the building received a threatening phone call from an anonymous caller,” the police said in a release yesterday, not explaining how a building receives a phone call — that internet of things stuff is really taking off, maybe.

But anyway, as a result of the call, the Tupper Building, Tupper Link, CRC, LSRI, and the surrounding streets were all closed for about four hours as police searched the area with a bomb-sniffing dog.

Nothing was found and the buildings were reopened.

5. Motorcyclist dies

From a police email to reporters:

At 4:02 pm Halifax Regional Police responded to Victoria Road at Primrose Street in Dartmouth for a motor vehicle collision involving a Mini van and a motorcycle. As a result of the collision, the driver of the motorcycle, a 30-year-old male from Dartmouth was pronounced deceased at the scene. Patrol members along with members of the Forensic Identification Section and Accident Investigation responded and are continuing the investigation.


1. Wyse Road revisited


(I forgot to post this yesterday because I’m old and tired and distracted.)

Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler considers former New York transportation planner Janette Sadik-Khan’s book, Streetfight, and asks what lessons from the book might be applied to Halifax.

Click here to read “Wyse Road revisited: How to make meaningful transportation changes quickly.”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

P.E.I.’s multi-layered aquifer consists of alternating layers of thick aquitards and thin aquifers. Below about 35 metres each aquitard is sandwiched between an aquifer below and an aquifer above with each aquifer having a different head (pressure) of water. The difference in head (say upper head minus lower head) between aquifers forces a seepage of groundwater through the aquitard.

Drilling a hole through any aquitard makes the difference in head between aquifers zero; zero head differential implies zero seepage hence the aquitard is stagnant, its ecosystem destroyed. Below our feet we have a cataclysm of habitat destruction — the rape of the aquitards, the rape of Mother Earth; not heard, unseen, unspeakable, like a thief in the night.

The geochemical equilibrium which nature has evolved over 300 million years is rendered inert; the geochemistry of the ‘deeper circulation’ nullified. Scientist know little about sandstone geochemistry; sandstone is ‘of no direct commercial value’, ‘too variable’ and ‘too complex’. In the end, organisms living in the ocean are denied important nutrients and are the downstream casualties of habitat destruction. No wonder fish stocks aren’t recovering.

By creating a ‘uniform pressure gradient’ deep water wells completely destroy the aquitards’ geochemical function. Also affected are the ocean, the land and the livelihoods of fisher families – not small potatoes. What utility is science when it becomes the handmaiden of habitat destruction, the destroyer of worlds unknown? Science becomes death science, ecocide science; not life science and not life giving science.

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart


An Australian Blue Heeler who hasn't clogged up the Nova Scotia court system.
An Australian Blue Heeler who hasn’t clogged up the Nova Scotia court system.

Besides zoning out on ships, I sometimes amuse myself by reading court decisions. Understand that the vast majority of court decisions are horrifying affairs, detailing broken families, horrendous murders, tragic car accidents, and the like, but every now and then something downright ridiculous comes down, and I treasure those decisions.

Consider, for example, the case of Cram v. Nova Veterinary Clinic Ltd, heard on July 7 by Justice Jamie Campbell.

John Cram, who goes by the name of Jack Cram, was suing not just the Nova Veterinary Clinic, but also Dr. Brian Manuel, Dr. Michael Howlett, Ms. Sylvia Bush, Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association (NSVMA), Brian MacInnis, Dr. Ed MacAuley, Dr. Elizabeth Croft, Dr. Fran Minty, Sandra McCulloch, Dr. Lisa Welland, and Dr. Julie Weste.

This all started with Cram’s dog, a female Australian Blue Heeler named Cougie. Cram, for his part, is apparently a former lawyer, breed unknown.

Cougie evidently wasn’t feeling well, so in June 2014 Cram took her to Michael Howlett, a veterinarian in Bridgewater, who didn’t actually examine the creature, but prescribed some unnamed medication. Sometime later, Cougie was diagnosed, presumably by another vet, with a bowel infection. So Cram sued Howlett and the Nova Veterinary Clinic.

Writes Campbell:

Since then the matter has been in court numerous times. It has become a circus of motions. Cougie and her treatment seem to have faded into the background as the focus has become the litigation itself and Mr. Cram’s perception of widespread corruption within the justice system in Nova Scotia. The procedural details of that litigation point not only to the relentlessness with which Mr. Cram has pursued the dispute, but also to the extent to which the litigation has become less about achieving an outcome than about harassing the other parties.

Mr. Cram filed a complaint about Cougie’s treatment with the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association. The Chair of the Complaints Committee appointed an investigator and also appointed members to a Complaints Committee. On January 13, 2016, after an investigation of the complaint, the Complaints Committee dismissed Mr. Cram’s complaint. That was not the end of it of course.

Mr. Cram filed a Notice for Judicial Review at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on February 11, 2016. On March 3, 2016 he filed an Amended Notice for Judicial Review. On March 29, 2016 Mr. Cram filed a Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to the judicial review matter. On April 14, 2016 Mr. Cram filed a new motion to further amend the Notice for Judicial Review. He appealed the Motion for Directions, which set the matter down for a hearing. He accused Justice Pickup who heard the Motion for Directions of being biased against him. He appeared before Justice Van den Eynden at the Court of Appeal to set the appeal down for a hearing. He accused her of being biased against him. The matter came before Justice Scanlan of the Court of Appeal. Mr. Cram’s appeal was dismissed. In doing so, Justice Scanlan did not mince words. Mr. Cram accuses him of bias as well.

Mr. Cram filed a motion on April 27, 2016 seeking an injunction restraining the NSVMA and its counsel from conducting themselves in an “adversarial or non- impartial way” in the judicial review. The Motion for Summary Judgment on the judicial review matter and for an injunction to prevent McInnes Cooper and Cox & Palmer from being involved in the matter were set for May 16, 17 and 18, 2016 by Justice Lynch. Mr. Cram told the Prothonotary that Justice Lynch had abused her authority and must be disqualified for partiality and bias. Those motions were heard before Justice Warner. In the course of that hearing Mr. Cram referred to Justice Warner as a “crook”. The motions were dismissed.

Campbell opened his decision noting that:

John (Jack) Cram has managed to accuse just about everyone he has dealt with in the Nova Scotia legal system of being corrupt. I have the confident expectation that I will now be specifically named as being in that company, at least to the extent of being biased and vindictive. I say that without having had the opportunity to meet Mr. Cram. He sent a letter dated July 5, 2016 requesting, or perhaps more accurately demanding, an adjournment of today’s hearing on July 7, 2016. On the fourth and final page of that letter he says, “There is no reason other than the bias and vindictiveness displayed so flagrantly by your predecessor, to refuse the adjournment, while there is no reason, with the terms I propose below, not to grant it.” Mr. Cram indicated in his letter that he would not be attending court on July 7, 2016. I responded to Mr. Cram and counsel on July 6, 2016 denying the adjournment request.

Mr. Cram’s reasons for the adjournment included his apprehension with regard to what might happen to him if he came to court before a judge in Halifax. He related that when he last appeared in court he was accused of slandering the judge and of contempt. He says that he was threatened with “the fifth floor”, which he took to mean jail. The fifth floor of the Law Courts in Halifax does not contain jail cells. It is the location of the Court of Appeal. On page one of Mr. Cram’s letter he says, “Because I live alone and have no family or close friends in Nova Scotia who could ‘step in’ for me, I am very concerned about what might happen to my 6 pets and homes, so frankly I am afraid, not for myself, but for my pets and my property, to attend before a judge in Halifax again.” That would be an unusual pitch from any litigant, but it is especially so given that Mr. Cram is a retired lawyer with many years of experience before the courts in another Canadian province.

In the mix of all this, last month  Cram wrote a letter to Chief Justice MacDonald alleging all sorts of corruption. Campbell describes the letter:

It is a bizarre tirade regarding the “legal holocaust” by lawyers, judges and staff of the courts, which he suggests has been watched and “perhaps even coached and applauded from the sidelines” by Chief Justice MacDonald, Chief Justice Kennedy, the Deputy Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Barristers Society, the Attorney General’s office and the Court Administrator. He refers to “your picayune-rule-enforcing- power-abusing-justice-obstructing ‘let’s give Mr. Cram yet another ask and answer type (non) reply from the Chief Justice’” (p. 1). He says that judges and judicial staff have stigmatized and slandered him due to irrelevant events 22 years ago, and allowed rampant personal bias throughout the courts added to partiality toward opposing counsel who is a Supreme Court judge’s wife and “her lyin-Ryan junior Mr. Baxter”. He refers to counsel’s “corrupt-out-of-legal control-Vet-protecting- damn-the-public-interest-perverting/obstructing-justice-NSVMA, that ‘poor- province-wide organization-downtrodden-by-little-old-all-by-himself-Jack Cram’” (p. 2). He says that “judges, lawyers and Crown counsel obviously directed and orchestrated to do whatever they want – legal or not to – ‘shut down my own personal quest for justice’ (more for the unjustifiable suffering of my dog Cougie than for me), thus your courts are secretly NEITHER INDEPENDENT NOR IMPARTIAL” (p. 3).

With respect, it is hard to imagine that Cougie much cares who wins which application or motion.

Well, to cut to the chase, Campbell ruled against Cram and awarded costs to the defendants. But Campbell took the additional step of ruling that  Cram cannot commence any further court proceedings against the defendants in this action without first obtaining leave of the court. He wrote:

The courts have to remain open to difficult, obstreperous, annoying, unreasonable, foolish, irrational, wasteful, and mean-spirited people. They are not restricted to internet blogs and postings on news websites. To some extent the legal system can become an open mike for the angry. But when a person crosses over into using multiple legal processes themselves as a cudgel to wreak vengeance on an opponent, the court is obliged to restrain them.

Cram, incidentally, was convicted of contempt of court in 1994, in British Columbia, and reading that decision is great fun as well.



Can this piece of art become even more spectacular? Yes, it can.
Can this piece of art become even more spectacular? Yes, it can.

Design Review Committee (4pm, City Hall) — the committee will vote whether or not to make the Nova Centre extra special spectacular or just leave it at plain old spectacular.


No public meetings.

On campus


Thesis Defence, Social Work (10am, Room 3209, Mona Campbell Building) — Masters student Piedad Martin-Calero Medrano will defend her thesis, “The Workplace Experiences, Practice, and Practice Knowledge of Mental Health Wounded Healers: A Collective Learning.”

In the harbour

The approach to Halifax Harbour, 9:10am Thursday. Map:
The approach to Halifax Harbour, 9:10am Thursday. Map:

0:30am: NYK Meteor, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Southhampton, England
7am: Caribbean Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
7am: Veendam, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney with up to 1,350 passengers
11am: Caribbean Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 36 to Autoport
2pm: Nord Setouchi, bulker, arrives at Inner Harbour Anchorage from New York
3:30pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Bar Harbor
4:30pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
6pm: Nord Setouch, bulker, sails from Anchorage for sea

9am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
8pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s


Today I’m talking with reporter extraordinaire Paul McLeod for this week’s Examineradio.

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

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  1. I actually complained a great deal to friends and family about the travel ban. I use trails and woodland for travel to work at to see friends. I saw it as an attack on personal liberties for no real reason, I use a bicycle and my feet. It seemed it was targeting those who wished to not use a car or could not afford one. Even the rails to trails were closed which happens to be a good and safe way to travel to towns and cities. I had a hard time backing up my gripes but it seemed crazy to declare martial law, life doesn’t happen in cities, it just dies there.

  2. I read one comment on a dog hiking FB page that was mildly critical of the hiking ban, commenter was given many ‘corrections’.

    Cram is most likely suffering mental illness. If someone does know him, please do routine wellbeing checks for the sake of those pets, will ya?

  3. I can’t remember the hiking trails ever being closed due to fire hazard in New Brunswick. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Luckily most people who hike don’t smoke.

  4. The BC court decision is an interesting read. Given the judge’s final comment (“In conclusion, I cannot help but comment that this is not the Jack Cram I once knew and the person who enjoyed a different reputation in the courts. So far, no medical evidence has been tendered.”) clearly the judge felt he was mentally ill.

    What must it be like to live with such a world view, such paranoia, and delusions? Sadly given the NS decision, it looks like he hasn’t gotten the help he needs. The issue here is why do we try to deal with health issues through the court system?

  5. Meranwhile, up in the Arctic :

    ” When in 1970 he joined the first of what would be more than 50 polar expeditions, the Arctic sea ice covered around 8m sq km at its September minimum. Today, it hovers at around 3.4m, and is declining by 13% a decade. In 30 years Wadhams has seen the Arctic ice thin by 40%, the world change colour at its top and bottom and the ice disappear in front of his eyes.

    In a new book, published just as July 2016 is confirmed by Nasa as the hottest month ever recorded, this most experienced and rational scientist states what so many other researchers privately fear but cannot publicly say – that the Arctic is approaching a death spiral which may see the entire remaining summer ice cover collapse in the near future.”
    Have a nice day …….while you can

  6. Sympathy to John Cram. He is right, Nova Scotia’s legal system is riddled with both low standards of competence and corruption. Funny stuff though.

    1. Are… you being serious? Sympathy to Mr Cram?

      How about sympathy to everyone with a legitimate complaint who had to wait for their day in court because of this clown? How about sympathy for the people Mr Cram sued who had done absolutely nothing wrong? How about sympathy for the administrators at every level of court who have their time wasted by people like Mr Cram, who is clearly lost in a self-perpetuating cycle of self-pity, anger and perceived intellectual superiority?

      The Walrus just published a small article on vexatious litigants and the problems they cause that might serve as a companion piece to Justice Campbell’s decision:

      Apologies, Mr McGrath, if you were being sarcastic regarding where your sympathies lie. Mr Cram gets no sympathy from me. I can always sympathize with a dog in pain, but as Justice Campbell notes, the dog’s issues got relegated to the back pages of Mr Cram’s legal manifestos rather quickly…

      1. Oh no, I’m not being sarcastic. I’ve actually dealt with the bottomless incompetence of the Nova Scotia legal system personally. You got a problem with that? I’m sure there’s something the Internet you can read to make you feel better.

        I have no sympathy for the system or it’s machinery, it deserves no such luxury.

        1. I don’t know your own experience with the legal system, and I’m certainly not asking to hear about it, but it clearly didn’t go well. That’s too bad.

          I’m not being sarcastic – ending up in court, whether you’re suing, being sued or even just a peripheral figure, is more often than not a frustrating experience.

          Mr Cram, however, is gumming up the works for everyone else with nonsense claims and allegations rather than offering anything remotely helpful.

  7. I guess it’s called peace, order and good government vs live free or die.

    Unfortunately it seems we Canadians are more than willing to throw our hands up in resignation (apathy?) when the good government part goes missing.

    See Peter Kelly, Mike Duffy, Richard Butts et al.