1. Fish farms

Shoreline along St. Margaret’s Bay near Hubbards, one of the bays in which Cermaq has an Option to Lease. Courtesy Linda Pannozzo

Linda Pannozzo attended all three of Cermaq’s “open houses” on the South Shore, meant to reassure residents about the company’s plans for fish farms in Nova Scotia. Things did not go well.

People at the meetings raised a litany of concerns, including about pollution, sea lice, and (especially) the effect on fisheries, leading to this exchange recorded by Pannozzo:

You don’t have to search long on the internet to locate a plethora of stories about how the business of raising fish seems to increasingly result in killing them: from superchills, to deadly algal blooms, to farm damage from storms and hurricanes.

“You want to raise fish here so they can all die?” asked one Chester resident. “With climate change what do you think you’re going to do in this province? You’re going to raise fish? No, you’re going to kill fish.”

[David Kiemel, managing director of Cermaq Canada] replied: “Mortality happens on salmon farms. We have a dedicated team of professionals, but shit happens, it’s farming, it’s not easy.”

As you can imagine, that did not go over well.

Pannozzo put an enormous amount of effort and research into this article, which is the first of a two-part series. The second part will be published this weekend.

Click here to read “Cermaq’s PR fiasco.”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

2. Mining survey

Touquoy gold mine at Moose River. Photo courtesy Raymond Plourde/ Environmental Action Centre

We’ve taken Joan Baxter’s Feb. 5 article, “Survey says: Why are people calling me with pro-mining propaganda?” out from behind the paywall, so everyone can read it.

“It looks as if someone is getting a little nervous about the growing backlash to the latest gold rush in the province,” wrote Baxter:

So far, two people have contacted me with concerns about a phone survey being conducted by Narrative Research, which aims to get their views on gold mining in the province and how best the public might be convinced that gold mining is good for them.

Both people said the survey questions seemed skewed, intended to elicit particular responses, and that there was no room for the respondent to deviate from multiple choice answers or add information.

Baxter went on to get into further details of the supposed survey.

Click here to read “Survey says: Why are people calling me with pro-mining propaganda?”

3. Tech start-ups will make us all rich, pt. 2

Congratulations to our friends & Membertou-based, @OrendaSolutions, along with @SwarmioGG on today’s @ACOACanada announcement of more than $1 million in funding.

They are leaders in the Cape Breton and global tech sector. @JaimeBattiste @TanyaSeajay

— Membertou (@MembertouCorp) March 4, 2020

Last week, Mary Campbell of the Cape Breton Spectator looked at Orenda Software Solutions, one of “two Cape Breton IT companies” on the receiving end of federal funding announced by Sydney-Victoria MP Jaime Battiste.

This week, she looks at Swarmio Inc.:

Swarmio received a $338,369 Industrial and Research Assistance Program (IRAP) grant from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and a $250,000 ACOA loan. The ACOA backgrounder about the funding [was] headlined “Emerging Cape Breton tech firms help shape digital economy with artificial intelligence”…

Note that there’s no guarantee any of these positions will be in Sydney, where Swarmio apparently currently employs six people. Given that the company’s stated goal is to launch in Brazil (where it already has an employee) and Southern Asia, these positions probably won’t be in Sydney. Nor are any of the company’s higher-ranking employees in Sydney — in fact, none of the Sydney employees even makes the website where the “team” is listed as follows:

Vijai Karthigesu, CEO: Ajax, Ontario
Sorin Stoain, co-founder, CTO: Toronto, Ontario
Aseef Khan, VP, Gaming & Esports: Toronto, Ontario
John Smith, EVP, Global Strategy: Halifax
Joel Gallant, Lead Application Architect: Halifax
Lucas Gatta, Head of Brazil Operations: São Paulo
Tesh Kapadia, VP Global Sales: Toronto, Ontario
Josh Stanbury, VP Communications, Taunton, UK

The idea that this is a “Cape Breton tech firm” really stretches credulity, although ACOA clearly buys it.

Click here to read “Emerging Tech Revisited: Swarmio.”

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.
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4. Covid-19

The virus is already affecting our corner of the world in ways we can’t fully comprehend. A by-no-means-exhaustive rundown:


“Lobster buyers and processors in Nova Scotia want an immediate stop to all lobster fishing in the province because the coronavirus pandemic has crushed the markets for it, CBC News has learned,” reports Paul Withers:

The industry association held an emergency conference call Thursday to discuss “the current unprecedented market situation.”

According to a call summary obtained by CBC, 75 companies participated and agreed harvesting should stop immediately in lobster fishing areas (LFA) 33 and 34, which run from Halifax to Digby.

Cruise ships

This year’s cruise ship season may totally evaporate. As Mary Campbell puts it:

As I see it, there are two main virus-related possibilities that could impact the cruise season in Sydney. One is that, in response to the recent, high-profile outbreaks on cruise ships, the Canadian government might stop them from docking in Canadian ports (a measure recently imposed by India and the UAE).

The second possibility is that people will follow the recommendations of the US State Department and the Public Health Agency of Canada which have both advised travelers — especially those with underlying conditions — not to take cruises due to the threat posed by COVID-19. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said during an Ottawa press conference:

Today, the Public Health Agency of Canada is recommending that Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel due to COVID-19. The virus can spread quickly on cruise ships due to the close contact between passengers.

People cancelling or failing to book cruises would obviously have an effect on the season here  — especially American people, who accounted for 54.5% of the industry’s passengers in 2018 (that’s according to WaPo, which says Europeans accounted for 26% and Asians for 9%).

Mayor Mike Savage self-isolates

Earlier today my office became aware of a possible link to someone who is seeking testing for COVID-19. As a precaution we have closed the Mayor’s Office and all staff are in voluntary isolation until we know more. #BetterSafeThanSorry.

— Mayor Mike Savage (@MikeSavageHFX) March 12, 2020

“One of our staff has a relative who was out of the province at a conference where there was a confirmed case so out of caution they informed all of the people who attended the conference to watch out for symptoms,” Savage told Chronicle Herald reporter Francis Campbell:

Shaune MacKinlay, the mayor’s chief of staff, said late Thursday afternoon that there is no direct link, “so we are erring on the side of caution here.”  


Yesterday, someone who works in the school system told me that staff at Halifax schools were being called and asked about their plans for next week’s spring break — if they will be travelling and if so, where to.

It seems that the system was contemplating a post-break closure, but that will not happen, reports  for the Chronicle Herald:

Students will return to school as normal after March break, despite the unfolding novel coronavirus situation, says Nova Scotia’s education minister. 

“We’re taking the advice of the chief medical officer, and his advice right now is that anyone coming back (from travelling) that’s symptomatic self-isolate and not show up to work if they’re an employee of our education system or if they’re a student,” Zach Churchill said Wednesday. 

The person I spoke with (who is not my relative who is a teacher) told me she fears people who work in her school will not be honest about their travel plans, because the pressure to prove commitment to the job is that high. I can’t assess that, but we’ve gotta break those kinds of attitudes.


I was slightly heartened by yesterday’s The Daily podcast, which examined how China and South Korea seem to have turned the corner of the virus and are nearing full containment.

Obviously, I don’t know squat about epidemiology  — for reliable information, I’m trusting the province’s Covid-19 page — but as I understood the podcast, the success in China and South Korea isn’t so much about quarantining entire cities as it is about checking the spread through aggressive interventions. In China, that means people are checked for their temperature everywhere: before you can enter a grocery store or your own apartment building, someone checks your temperature, and if you have a fever you are immediately rushed off to an isolation unit for testing. South Korea’s approach hasn’t been so intrusive, but they’ve tracked down thousands of people for testing who may have been in contact with others infected.

As I see it, so far Canada’s and Nova Scotia’s response has been responsible (of course we could easily be overwhelmed by the head-in-the-sand and downright irresponsible response south of the border), but I wonder if we are prepared to take the kind of aggressive actions needed to stop a widespread infection.

I’ll leave that up to the medical professionals, but in the meanwhile we should be following all the recommendations — washing our hands often, social distancing, and so forth.

On the economic front, I worry that the pandemic will be the excuse for more Disaster Capitalism — that the wealthy will come out from the tail end of this emergency much better off, and everyone else will be poorer.

The Trudeau government has expanded access to EI for those who become ill. That’s a good first step. But there’s so much more to prepare for.

As the stock market plummets, I think it likely that investors will increasingly put their money into real estate, which means that our already terrible housing crisis will get even worse. It’s a global economy, so that’s a concern whether Covid-19 comes to Halifax or not.

Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Act prohibits price gouging during a declared state of emergency:

During a state of emergency or a state of local emergency, no person in the Province may charge higher prices for food, clothing, fuel, equipment, medical or other essential supplies or for the use of property, services, resources or equipment than the fair market value of the same thing immediately before the emergency.

“The use of property” means rent.

I’d argue that even though there’s no local state of emergency (at least, not yet), the global fluidity of markets means that our local real estate market is already being impacted by Covid-19.

Working people in Halifax should not see their rents increase just because large investors are taking losses on the speculative international stock markets.

The legislature should immediately implement rent control rules.

5. Taxi driver

“A Halifax-area taxi driver will not be picking up any fares until after several sexual offence charges are heard in court,” reports Francis Campbell for the Chronicle Herald:

Donald Charles Swinimer, 50, of Kinsac, near Beaver Bank, had appealed the suspension of his cab driver’s and owner’s licences but the Halifax Regional Municipality appeals committee upheld the HRM Licensing Authority suspensions in a hearing Thursday.

Swinimer was charged Feb. 3, 2020, with sexual assault, sexual interference, sexual exploitation and invitation to sexual touching. All the charges are related to a girl and are alleged to have taken place between 2013 and 2020 in Lower Sackville.

Released on $3,000 bail and conditions, Swinimer will be back in Dartmouth provincial court on April 1 to face the charges.

The licensing authority suspended his licences immediately after becoming aware of the charges.


No public meetings.

On campus



Voice Recital (Friday, 11:45am, MacAloney Room)

Composition Masterclass (Friday, 9:30am, Room 121, Dal Arts Centre) — with Jocelyn Morlock. Her composition “My name is Amanda Todd” will be performed by Symphony Nova Scotia Friday at 7:30 pm. More on her website.

Plasmonic Nanobiosensors: From Therapeutic Drug and Environmental Monitoring to Optophysiology of Living Cells (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Jean-Francois Masson from the Université de Montréal will talk.

La Velada 2020 (Friday, 6pm, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — celebrating Latino culture with food, performances, and music, and an after-party at the Dome. $20/$25, more info here.

Things We Made as Kids (Friday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — show-and-tell for grownups. ASL interpretation provided; any other accessibility needs or feedback, contact the gallery. More info here and here.

Guitar Ensemble Guitars Galore (Friday, 7:30pm, The Peggy Corkum Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Road, Halifax) — a wide variety of guitar music spanning classical, Celtic, and jazz; featuring group performances by guitar students, Scott Macmillan, and other Dal faculty. Tickets here, $15/$10.


Halifax: Beneath the Surface (Saturday, 12pm, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic) — watch a live-stream of the new underwater ROV Polaris’s first journey. More info here.

An Afternoon of Poetry (Saturday, 1pm, Halifax North Memorial Public Library) — featuring Shauntay Grant, Rebecca Thomas, faculty, alumni, and current Creative Writing students.

Egg Roll So-sholl (Saturday, 2pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — taste testing of egg rolls (not gluten- or meat-free) from various local restaurants and discussion of people, food, and the evolution of an egg roll; presented by Stephanie Yee, in conjunction with the exhibition Gut Feeling, which runs to 5 PM Sunday. More info and registration here and  here.


Little Death (Friday, 8pm, The Pit) — written by Daniel Sarah Karasik, directed by Daniel Halpern. Until Saturday, more info and tickets here.

In the harbour

05:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
05:30: Grande Halifax, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Valencia, Spain
06:00: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain
15:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
16:00: Atlantic Sun sails for Liverpool, England
16:00: RHL Agilitas, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
16:30: ZIM Tarragona sails for New York
19:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
21:30: Atlantic Sea sails for New York


I have to rush off for “host training” from an expert at the CBC. I’m excited about this, even though I’m not quite sure what it entails. I think they’re teaching me how to speak.

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

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  1. Teach you how to speak? The main thing when speaking is to avoid using filler words or sounds “um, like, so, yeah, etc”. Using filler words to buy time as you assemble your next sentence makes it sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. A contemplative pause, on the other hand, makes you seem calm, measured, and authoritative. So, next time you find yourself wanting to say “like” or use similar filler words or sounds to buy thinking time, just pause for breath instead. It comes across much better.

    1. Curious as to who the CBC expert for host training will be.

      I went through such a session when I did a radio broadcast course at King’s ~15 years ago. She-who-shall-remain-unnamed didn’t mince words. She had me read a sample paragraph, scrunched up her face and said “You really don’t know how to have fun, do you?”

      After a while, I developed an apparently radio-acceptable on-air voice… but at a price: when a mini-doc of mine was going to air and I alerted my family, my mother said afterward that it didn’t sound like me at all.

    2. I think I speak well enough on my weekly News 95.7 gig. This is something else: reading scripted material (I wrote most of my own words). Ums and likes aren’t an issue — they’re not in the script. The gist of it is to get the right tone for conveying the information/emotional experience. They were very helpful!

      1. Yeah, the ums and ahs are easily edited out. The trick (and I say this as someone who just finished recording a couple of scripted podcast episodes) is to make it sound like you’re not reading.I kind of learned it on my own (with some help) but I’m curious about more formal host training.

  2. Rent controls should have been implemented 20 years ago but I do like reverse disaster capitalism as the spur for action.

    If nothing else I hope this pandemic puts an end to the market dogma that has infected western lives since Reagan and Thatcher.

  3. Don’t mention pension plans which had problems before the covid outbreak. The pension plans for Dalhousie University and the province will be valued based on the value of assets on March 31; the Dalhousie pension plan has been under water for several years as has the HRM plan.