On campus
In the harbour


1. Gas regulation

Speed skater Charles Gorman started this gas station in Saint John. It was one of the first Irving stations.
Speed skater Charles Gorman started this gas station in Saint John. It was one of the first Irving stations.

During the election campaign, the Liberals talked about doing away with the province’s regulated gas price system. The system arose under the last PC government as a way to protect rural gas stations, which couldn’t compete with their urban counterparts. The rural station is one of those institutions that hold a small town together. There’s the school, the post office, the gas station, maybe a hospital; as you start closing one or another or several of the institutions, the town begins to spiral out of existence. But the gas regulation system necessarily means that city drivers are paying more for gas than they would otherwise.

With the recent dramatic drops in gas prices, however, there’s less pressure to do away with regulation. Put another way, when prices have dropped 30 or 40 cents a litre, no one in the city is going to notice that prices are a penny or two higher because of regulation, so the “save the small town institution” side of the equation becomes more important. Therefore, the Liberals have backed off their pledge to do away with regulation.

Which makes total sense. We should also be raising gas taxes, for exactly the same reason: no one would notice.

2. Pedestrians struck by vehicles

Several readers have told me about an accident at the Portland Hills bus terminal this morning. Krista Mallory reports:

There was a bus pedestrian accident at the Portland Hills terminal this morning around 7am. I was heading for my bus at the time. 

The 159 was turning left through the intersection and hit a woman in the crosswalk. She appears to have injured her leg/ankle. 

That light is a nightmare for pedestrians. It has the push button mechanism and if you miss it, it’s a tremendously long wait. 

The pedestrian light coincides with the only time buses can turn left out of terminal. It has been an accident waiting to happen for a long time. The crosswalk should be on the other side of the terminal entrance. Not allowed to cross there—likely because there is no crosswalk in that side. 

Again, unclear whether she had a walk signal or not and she was apparently wearing dark clothing. 

My theory is the intersection itself is at least partially to blame. It is car centric, not pedestrian centric. Period.

And last night, via Global:

A father and his toddler were taken to hospital after being hit by a vehicle.

The incident happened around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in the parking lot of the Tim Hortons on St. Margaret’s Bay Road in Upper Tantallon.

Sgt. Mike Lidstone with the RCMP said a 79-year-old man from Tantallon was driving slowly in the parking lot when a 31-year-old, who was wearing dark clothing and carrying his one-year-old daughter, suddenly stepped out in the path of the vehicle.

Lidstone said the man injured his knee while his toddler was “shaken up”.

Both were taken to hospital for assessment.

Lidstone said, so far, no charges have been laid against the male driver.

3. Dal Dentistry fallout

Rod Shoveller’s family may pull their financial support from the annual basketball tournament they sponsor, reports the Chronicle Herald:

“As alumni of Dalhousie, we are appalled that our alma mater is permitting this group of men to continue studying at our university,” reads a letter Tim and Jean Shoveller emailed to the Halifax university Thursday.

Rod and Joan Shoveller.
Rod and Joan Shoveller.

“For the first time since the inception of the tournament in 1991, we are ashamed to have our family name associated with Dalhousie University and we are considering severing ties with the university, as a result of your decision.”

The annual Shoveller men’s basketball tournament brings university teams from across Canada to compete at Dalhousie in early January. It is named after Rod Shoveller, a member of the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame for his contributions to varsity athletics, and his wife Joan, who volunteered significantly with the Hall of Fame after his passing.

3. Air rage

“A 30-year-old South African woman is facing charges after she allegedly assaulted two flight attendants on board an international flight Wednesday,” reports CTV. “The woman was taken into custody. Police say she is facing three counts of assault on an aircraft, one count of assault with a weapon, one count of causing a disturbance and one count of endangering an aircraft.”

I have great sympathy for the people who behave badly on airplanes. Everything about flying is a horrendous experience. A couple of hundred people are crammed into a narrow tube and they have to battle each other Hunger Games style for space in the overheads because everyone brought tons of luggage on board to avoid the outrageous checked bag fees, then they wind up the giant rubber band or catapult or whatever it is that makes that thing fling across the ocean, and the whole tube goes this way or that battling sky demons and nearly crashing—lots of them do! Read the newspapers!—and your knees are up against your chin because profit, and it’s eighteen bucks for a drink but you need like six of them because that asshole next to you is taking the armrest and the I’m sure nice woman on the other side wants to talk about her kids or some bullshit but the plane’s gonna crash and we’re all gonna die! lady shut up I gotta hold on except I can’t the asshole has stolen the armrest, and when you finally calm down some idiot screwed up all the Sudokus in the back of the stupid airline magazine and you wonder how much they pay the writers to produce this drivel but holy shit! why is the plane jumping up and down? we’re in the middle of the fricken’ air! it’s not like there’s potholes or anything, they probably pay the mechanics dick and they’re pissed off and so what if they have some extra screws or whatever when they attached the tube to the catapult, we’re gonna crash and die! sure, give me another drink and damn I gotta make my way to the tiny closet they call a washroom and how can this possibly pass health inspection rules? I’m gonna catch the ebola while the tube is crashing, and sorry lady yea you gotta move for me again, it’s like pickup sticks they way they pack us in here, and people really buy cigarettes on airplanes? what is this capitalism run amok thing going on in this tube of death? I’m trying to hang on, sure I’ll have another drink. god damn I wish this thing would land already but why does the tube go left and right?! NO! we’re supposed to go straight! not left and right! and then you land and people applaud because the thing didn’t crash and burn but then you gotta stay there for another hour because there’s only one tiny door that all the couple of hundred people have to use and what if the thing had crashed into the ocean? it takes forever for everyone to get off the plane, we’d probably all drown as the tube sank into the bottom of the ocean because some old dude was thanking the flight attendant instead of Get Off The Plane! while we’re putting on our life vests, life vests! on an airplane!, and they’d never find our bodies like on that Malaysian Air tube that they still haven’t found.

Which is to say, yea, air rage. It’s a completely rational response to the flying experience. Give the South African woman a break.

4. Mel Boutilier

Mel Boutilier, formerly of Parker Street Food Bank, has started a new charity, the Metro Care and Share thrift shop on Agricola Street, which will finance his new enterprise, “the Halifax Scholars Program, [which] will help develop high school students through enhanced educational opportunities,” reports Global.

I guess we’re not supposed to talk about it because people who devote their lives to charity should be respected, but it would be helpful if it were explained what the tiff between Boutilier and the board at Parker Street, which led to Boutilier leaving the charity, was all about.

5. Wild Kingdom


The federal government has listed three species of bats under threat from white-nose syndrome as endangered.

The listing, announced Thursday, includes little brown bats, northern long-eared bats, and tri-coloured bats. Populations of the bats have been devastated by white-nose syndrome. The disease first appeared in New York state in 2006 and has since spread into eastern Canada.

The bats are already protected by provincial legislation in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario.


1. Candy

A Moir's Chocolate ad, via Stephen Archibald.
A Moir’s Chocolate ad, via Stephen Archibald.

“It is hard to imagine big industries downtown today but in the 50s and 60s Moirs was still beside the Grand Parade where the World Trade and Convention Centre is,” writes Stephen Archibald. “On very special days the fragrance of Moir’s chocolate would mingle with the aroma of salt cod drying on the roof of the A.M. Smith fish plant (the Maritime Museum site). Special indeed.”

2. Google doodle


Nova Scotian cartoonist Kate Beaton was selected to produce yesterday’s Google doodle. She explained:

I had the great pleasure today of being the Google doodle artist for Google Canada!  It is for the birthday of Henrietta Edwards, a kickass lady.  See more info on it, and on Henrietta, here in the doodle archive!  It can only be seen on Canadian homepages, but the archive is from everywhere!

Another page on Henrietta

I want to add here:

We lump the Famous Five in together for obvious reasons, but in recent times, people have called them out for their racism and views on Eugenics. These were all affluent white ladies! To be sure. But these were five separate women. When you talk about those views, the shadows of Nellie McClung and Emily Murphy, better known than the rest, loom large and on top of everyone else. Their opinions are uh, hard to miss. And it’s good indeed that their less noble views are well known now, instead of conveniently “forgotten.”

Henrietta Edwards was a good 20 years older than the rest of the Famous Five, and she was no advocate for eugenics or selective immigration in the same way. She fought for women’s right to property, to health, to work and to education. Here is an article I just read, for example, about her relationship with First Nations communities she lived in where her husband was a doctor. It’s definitely written in her favor, but provides some more context for her life and views beyond “Person’s Case” which is where most Canadian history texts will pick up her name and drop it.

I thought it was an important note to add, because it was important to Google when they contacted me about doing a doodle of one of the Famous Five.

And if you’re not familiar with Beaton, you should check out her site, Hark! A vagrant, which promotes her book by the same name. And buy her book. The perfect Christmas present.

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3. Misogyny

Wayne MacKay weighs in on the Dalhousie Dental School scandal.

4. Finances

Former Finance Minister Graham Steele looks at the challenges facing current Finance Minister Diana Whalen.

5. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

As a result of the Royal Canadian Navy’s change of policy on alcohol, using the phrase “spending like a drunken sailor,” as MPs, MLAs and councillors frequently do, may be outdated. It may well be more appropriate to begin using the phrase “spending like a drunken MP or MLA or councillor” etc.

These elected representatives have no problem spending, judging by the deficits and debts they burden us with often, without clear justification for having done so. It’s now time to turn the “tide” when it comes to finger-pointing for spending. Remember, when you point a finger at someone, you have three pointing at yourself! Enough said.

Bob Mann, Wilmot


No public meetings today.

On campus

No public events today.


If you don’t die in a plane crash, probably you’ll die from a volcanic eruption:


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 6:30am Friday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 6:30am Friday. Map:

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)

Genco Thunder, bulker, Saint Jean, Quebec to Pier 28
NYK Diana, container ship, Rotterdam to Fairview Cove, then sails for New York
Atlantic Huron, bulker, Saint Jean, Quebec to National Gypsum
Seabed Prince, research/survey vessel, Sable Field to Pier 27
Asteria Leader, car carrier, Emden, Germany to Autoport, then sails for New York

Fusion sails for Saint-Pierre
Oceanex Sanderling sails for St. John’s


There’s nothing to report on campus or in government today, and probably not much for the next couple of weeks. The news too slows down this time of year, except for the ubiquitous end-of-year roundups. I’m going to use the slow time to dive into two complex and time-consuming investigations I’ve been putting off, and to catch up on my year-end accounting. Really, not slacking!

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  1. Misogyny

    Thank you for the link to Wayne MacKay’s excellent summary of the legal and social context of the Dalhousie misogynous dentistry student issue.

    It might be worth adding that Restorative Justice works best when the victims are well defined. In this case, a large circle of victims are involved, well beyond the two women who have agreed to participate in the process. There are the other fourth-year women dental students. There are the fourth-year men dental students who weren’t members of the misogynous “club”. Though by their silence are they now complicit? There are parents, wives, sisters, and brothers. Although they may be advising the thirteen men to hide behind lawyers and PR consultants, how alienated they must be feeling from them..

    The shadow of the club members’ behaviour falls on faculty members who may have allowed, unnoticed, a culture of misogyny to grow. When did this start? How many men graduates, now practicing, were exposed to it? The misogyny of the thirteen threatens funding and enrollment across Dalhousie. If the Restorative Justice process just sweeps things under the rug, the best future students, women in particular, will choose other universities. And the shadow of this issue extends beyond the university – to every Nova Scotian woman and her dentist, should that dentist not be a woman.

    A public apology is the only satisfactory outcome to the proposed Restorative Justice process that one can imagine, given how many people are touched by this issue. It needs to be a public apology accompanied by a public commitment to fight the culture of misogyny, a commitment demonstrated several years hence through significant reduction in misogyny in Nova Scotia. I hope the thirteen men have the guts to make the apology. Some of them already know in their hearts that this is what they must do. We know that if they do, we must find it in our hearts to forgive them.

    1. Agreed. If an apology is too hard coming out (boo hoo) then just make their names public so that female consumers of dentistry services are able to make an aware, safe & educated choice of dentist.
      The scarlett letter method can be a very effective punishment and deterrent.

  2. When I was in the Navy we rescued a guy from a volcanic explosion in the Red Sea. I thought it was the coolest story anyone ever had – until I told it to my grandpa (also a former Navy guy) who told me about the time he saw one explode near Iceland.

    The air reeks like sulfur and the tiny bits of broken up, newly formed volcanic rock swishes against itself like reeds in a windy lake.

    When we picked the surviving Yemeni soldier up after he’d spent over 30 hours in the water all he wanted was water and to call his family. Later, when he left the ship he was wearing a t-shirt with the Newfoundland flag on it and a maple leafs hat, waving and smiling like a madman at the rest of the crew.

    The whole thing made me feel better about patrolling oil fields off the coast of Nigeria.

    1. I drive, and own a car. The fact is other taxes– property taxes and income taxes, primarily– are paying for the vast majority of road costs, which are mostly incurred by cars and trucks. (bicyclists have minimal road costs, and pedestrians none) Increasing gas taxes amount to a bit more of a user fee, for users who aren’t paying their own way. The savings could be used to offset income taxes for low income people.

  3. “It is car centric, not pedestrian centric. Period.” That’s Halifax, in general. Not built for humans, unless they happen to be in a metal box.

    1. On the peninsula we’re pretty good off as far as switching back to being pedestrian-centred. Why? Well, because these are two parts of town that would be doing just that: switching back to the way they were designed to be used.

      1. Tell that to all those run down in the city center, as of late. Progressive cities big and small all around the world understand the importance of pedestrians and transit, vis a vis healthy communities, and healthy citizens.
        The dense walkable neighbourhoods Halifax could have are constantly squandered by our bought and paid for city council, care of Armco, and others actions on the periphery.
        Halifax is still a 1950s suburbanites wet dream, and the car culture at the center of it all shows no signs of abatement.

    2. Halifax urban planning makes much more sense if you think of the peninsula as a thoroughfare for people looking to get between industrial parks and suburbs.

      1. That sounds about right. The industrial parks without sidewalks or decent transit coverage, even though that is where BOTH of the city’s transit garages are located. Haha.
        Yeah, that’s Halifax all right 😉

        1. Industrial Parks should never have been turned into retail Business Parks, they were never designed for usage by the general public. Retail Business Parks when developed, should be required to be walkable with excellent transit service available. This is where the planning has fallen down…. in its absence, personal motor vehicle access becomes the preferred option, unfortunately.

  4. Wow,never mind fear of flying, I am in Quito, surrounded by volcanoes and you bring up the probability of volcanic eruptions .. .bah humbug to you. Season’s Greetings