1. Doctors

“Nova Scotia has a doctor problem,” writes Stephen Kimber:

Perhaps lack-of-doctor might be more accurate. And “crisis” is certainly a more apt description than the mundane problem.

According to the province’s one-year-old “Need A Family Practice” list, 42,198 Nova Scotians — 4.6 per cent of the province’s population  — are currently officially listed as looking for a doctor. That number is up from 25,000 in March, and 33,000 in July.


The larger issue is the lack of political leadership to tackle the crisis. Where’s Stephen McNeil when we need him? Oh, right…

Click here to read “Doctor, doctor, who needs a doctor? 42,198 Nova Scotians and counting…”

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2. Examineradio, episode #141

Jennifer Henderson. Photo: Tara Taileur

Reporter Jennifer Henderson explains why Nova Scotia Power and Emera are facing questions about conflicts of interest.

Plus, we talk about Lucasville and Hammonds Plains, flags at crosswalks, and a former firefighter’s allegations of systemic gender discrimination.

And here’s that Fifth Estate investigation we mention in the show.

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(Direct download)
(RSS feed)
(Subscribe via iTunes)

3. Cop had sex with Jimmy Melvin Jr.’s ex-girlfriend

“A Halifax police officer who did surveillance on Jimmy Melvin Jr. has been accused of getting oral sex from a former girlfriend of the notorious crime figure,” reports Katie Toth for the Chronicle Herald:

Melvin, who will be sentenced for attempted murder in January, complained in a voir-dire court hearing on Sept. 29 that Halifax Regional Police Const. Jason Marriott had received oral sex from Melvin’s ex-girlfriend. The accusation was promptly confirmed by Crown attorneys.

And good on the Herald for not buckling on this:

Marriott wouldn’t comment on the allegations, instead referring questions to his lawyer, Nasha Nijhawan.

“I’m not going to confirm whether or not that happened at all,” Nijhawan said.

“If you’re publishing a story that we think is not true or that unfairly invades on the privacy of an officer for some sort of salacious or irrelevant public purpose you’re going to hear from us about it.”

Nijhawan said, “I can’t imagine how there would be any public interest in you pursuing that kind of information.”

But, as Toth goes on to report, there are indeed public policy issues when a cop has sex with someone involved with a police investigation.

And, er, am I imagining this or has the name of Jimmy Melvin’s former girlfriend been scrubbed from the internet? I remember a tragic story about her — I’m not sure if this is the same woman mentioned in Toth’s article or another woman — but the whole thing seems to be missing from the archives of the Chronicle Herald and the CBC.

4. Bayers Lake

The Washmill Underpass. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Tristan Cleveland today writes about how the various levels of government have failed downtown. I was with him until he favourably quoted someone using the word “creatives,” but that’s besides the point… well, my point, anyway, which is an aside…. Cleveland writes:

Canada Border Services Agency is the latest in a list of government institutions, including Access Nova Scotia and Census Canada, to move all their employees out of the urban core to cheap land in Bayers Lake.

In 2013, Halifax made the problem worse by selling 183 acres of land in the business park for $9.3 million to developer Basim Halef, nearly doubling its size. The province stepped in to help make that a good deal for Halef, buying just 15 acres for $7.5 million (many times its assessed value) for the new QEII outpatient centre.

Just a reminder: Bayers Lake was expanded — and the land approaching the Susies Lake wilderness was sold to Halef —  in order to pay for the Washmill underpass fiasco. Bad planning decisions never die; they get compounded for decades into the future.

Speaking of which… if the NSCC’s Waterfront campus (oh, sorry, Mr. Laurie Graham campus) had been built at the site of the old Dartmouth City Hall, imagine what that would have done for downtown Dartmouth.

5. Federal jobs

“It appears the Atlantic Region — particularly Nova Scotia — is still experiencing a drop in federal employment,” writes Richard Starr:

The Trudeau government recently released data on the “Population of the Federal Public Service by Geographic Region” to March 31, 2017. It suggests that while public service employment (not counting Canadian Forces, RCMP, CSIS or the National Capital Commission) has gone up nationally over the last two years, public service employees (and by extension the services they provide) have continued to drop overall in the Atlantic Region.

After falling five years in a row in response to the Harper government’s austerity kick, public service employment across Canada increased by almost 5,700 between 2015 and 2017. But during that same two-year period, the recent data released by Minister Scott Brison’s Treasury Board show it has dropped by over 450 in Nova Scotia, more than offsetting small employment gains in the other three Atlantic Provinces.

Starr built this handy chart to mark the decline during the Harper years:

Since 2015, the number of federal government employees (excluding Canadian Forces, RCMP, CSIS and the National Capital Commission) working in Nova Scotia has changed as follows:

2015: 10,549

2016: 10,433

2017: 10,095

That’s not a huge decline — about four per cent — but shouldn’t we expect that a province that went all-Liberal in the last federal election get more in the way of spoils?

6. Are we rich yet?

The convention centre is EXACTLY LIKE Pier 21.

The convention centre “opened” Friday, and a bunch of blowhards made a bunch of speeches. This was my favourite:

An old hand at such things, Treasury Board president Scott Brison — who noted that the federal government had given the development $51-million of its $170-million in public money — said the convention centre would do for the future of Halifax what Pier 21 had done for the past.

That’s right: you’re going to have to be deloused before you can exit the convention centre.

By the way, I’m told that the federal museum system is “rebranding” Pier 21 to take out the “Pier 21” part — the big “Pier 21” sign is going to come down, and the facility will just be called the “Canadian Museum of Immigration.”




Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — CeaseFire Halifax will talk to the commission.


No public meetings.


No public meetings this week.

On campus



No public events today.


Annual Dalhousie Carol Sing (Tuesday, 12pm, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Jacqueline Warwick will lead Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs .

In the harbour

4am: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for Baltimore
5:30am: Asteria Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Sagunto, Spain
6am: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Lisbon, Portugal
8am: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
11am: Asteria Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
3:30pm: Tomar, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
4:30pm: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Mariel, Cuba
9:30pm: Tomar, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea


Last Monday, people complained because I didn’t write much in Morning File. Hey, I was busy, and… well, I dunno, sometimes I just suck. And not much again today. Everything slows down over the holidays, news-wise. “Year in review” and “what’s happening next year” stuff is lazy reporting, so we’re not doing it. We have a few things coming out this week yet, but I’ve got family visiting and there isn’t a lot else going on… so the Examiner will be a bit light for the next week or so.

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

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  1. Back in 2009, Stephen Harper announced that Pier 21 would become a national museum (governed by the federal Museums Act). The act was amended in 2010, and since then the official name of the Pier 21 museum has been The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Canada has 9 national museums, and only two are outside Ottawa: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (in Winnipeg) and Pier 21.

    All this to say the name change to just Canadian Museum of Immigration may not be all that dramatic, but I would be sorry to see the sign go.

  2. Data compiled by The Canadian Medical Association, and available on its website, shows that Nova Scotia has by far the largest number of physicians per population: 261 per 100,000, compared to the national average of 228. Manitoba has only 204; Saskatchewan 196.

    Can anyone explain how a province with the most doctors per capita somehow has a doctor shortage crisis? Could this be a problem of allocation, or work load, rather than numbers? I’m not presuming an answer — it’s obviously a complicated problem — but this apparent contradiction seems odd, to say the least.

    1. I would like to see the breakdown of medical practitioners. It seems the big shortage is family physicians. How many of the practitioners in the stars are specialists, teaching physicians ( we have a big Ned school) and how many are administrators ( like Dr. Strang the Chief Medical Officer). I have had a family doctor for 40 years but no more as of this Friday. He tried for over 2 years to get someone to take his practice. No takers.

  3. The province has not bought 15 acres from Mr Halef. No sale recorded. NADA.
    Cleveland,the Metro ‘newspaper’ and the editor look kinda stupid printing an inaccurate article. And Cleveland continues the baloney when he complains about the Walmart property taxes which have nothing to do with services received.
    The old Dartmouth city hall site is too small for the NSCC campus; and most people like the view.
    So last Monday was a little light on content. Big deal. You don’t get caviar for $10.
    I think we get a lot of value for $10 a month.
    Have a great Christmas Tim.

    1. The sale hasn’t closed (and therefore not registered), but the contracts have been signed. Closing is probably dependent on completion of infrastructure.

      The Provinces’s own words: “The centre will be built behind the Bayers Lake Business Park retail development on the west side of Chain Lake Drive, between Lacewood Drive and Susie Lake Crescent. The province PURCHASED the property from Banc Commercial Holdings Limited for $7.5 million.” [emphasis added]


      1. 1. The old Dartmouth City Hall property and the park next to it were not big enough to be considered as a site for the NSCC (I was on the team that selected the site).

        2. The price the Province paid for the lands in Bayers Lake included site prep and servicing. When you see the final site and how much work is needed on it, it will become clear that there is a substantial difference between raw land cost and pad ready cost.

  4. In the Bayers Lake article, you linked to Tristan Cleveland’s MetroNews article where he wrote:

    “Meanwhile, the city continues to tax Walmart a quarter as much per square foot as small businesses on Quinpool, which cost much less to service.”

    It would have been good for a link to the data that would support the statement… granted that the Halifax Examiner (HE) did not make the statement, but it seems the HE supports Tristan’s article.

    Personally I have used the Access Nova Scotia site twice in the past year and it was a pleasure to access the site in comparison to its previous location. Halifax has has not addressed the parking issues downtown in a proactive manner and so businesses that benefit from easy parking solutions for their customers are taking advantage of locations like Bayers Lake.

    There is a view that cars are evil when it comes to the downtown environment, but they are truly a significant part of HRM’s way of life because of the way development was allowed to expand and it is too late to put that Genie back it the bottle. One can work to curb further development expansion, but one has to live and fine tune the environment that exists today.

    So have the city planners failed Halifax, yes it would seem so; but the continued war on personal vehicle usage will not correct matters. Halifax Transit cost riders too much and is too slow. Places like Seattle are offered as a model that Halifax could mirror; but Seattle has 153 Park and Ride locations and Halifax has 13… one of them costs $30 per month to use. Seattle has light rail and an awesome subway system with a population density to support its use; could HRM’s population really support both or either of those options without major subsidization from the general taxpayer?

    The historical face of Halifax’s downtown is not very impressive, mostly because many of the architectural structures are not very historical in presence, stature or design. Unfortunately when new structures are being created today, they have little in the way of aesthetic value and will not likely be of note from a historical point in the future.

    The bottom line is that all the bandage projects and temporary fixes that are being implemented will not provide a long term solution for the problems that plague Halifax’s downtown core. HRM will need to dig deep into the taxpayer’s pockets to provide the necessary solutions and that will be a hard-sell for politicians who are more concerned about getting reelected than doing the right thing. Putting off to tomorrow is a favored tactic for our governments of today.

    1. It’s not that cars are evil when it comes to downtown, it’s that they’re impossible to accommodate. It’s a geometric fact. There are only so many streets you can park on. Surface parking lots destroy the very things that make downtown good. So the alternative is structured parking, which is VERY expensive. There’s actually an abundance of parking downtown, but because it’s in structured pay parking, people don’t want to use it.

      1. Structured pay parking is certainly a part of the problem, it is priced too high; but if every new building built downtown in the last 20 years was required to have a defined amount of underground parking that had to be offered to the public at whatever rate street-side parking was set to, then today there would be adequate parking such that street-side parking in many locations could be eliminated. Then there would be all kinds of the room for dedicated bus lanes and bicycle lanes downtown. This was suggested back then… I know, because I made the recommendation.

        I can hear people saying, as they did back then, that city planners do not have the authority to make that happen and I say they can make whatever they want to have happen with the stroke of a pen and approval from Council… it just takes a will to achieve a given goal. Perhaps too late to get the best benefits of the recommendation; but not too late to institute the same recommendations and 20 years in the future, the effects of implementing those proactive parking solutions will be readily apparent. If one wants people to come downtown one has to accommodate their preferred mode of transport, else it is time to stop crying because businesses are relocating outside the downtown core to where parking is in abundance. You cannot force everyone to take the bus or walk… attempting to do so will simply cause people to continue to look outside of the downtown core to do their shopping and other business. Underground parking is very expensive to implement and developers want a return on investment fast… but special bus and bicycle lanes reduce on-street parking and if there is nowhere for those cars to park then people will just not come downtown. Most people exist outside of the downtown core and they all drive for the most part.

        1. Planners absolutely have the authority to make that happen. It’s just that underground parking spaces cost $50,000 each, and only get more expensive as you get deeper. Who pays for that? Downtown real estate is already more than most people can afford.

          Plus, the more parking you encourage downtown, the more cars you somehow have to get in and out of downtown.

  5. Canadian museum of immigration just doesn’t have the same ring to it but maybe it won’t be confused with a restaurant or food venue.

    As much as I hate the whole freeman of the land movement I find it odd that no one protests the lack of physicians by protesting the collection of taxes. You’d never pay insurance premiums month after month, year after year in the US and be denied primary care. Possibly 10% of Nova Scotians are still paying into the system which is not delivering even basic care. Half the budget is for health care. I don’t see why they shouldn’t get 20% of their taxes back if they remain on the list for a year or more. Seems fair.

    1. That’s a fair point that people are paying taxes for something they aren’t getting, but in this and other matters, the money just goes into general revenue. That’s sometimes even when money is supposed to be specifically earmarked. In NB for example 1 per cent of all insurance premiums are supposed to be used to fund the fire marhall’s office, for everything from programs to better equipment and investigations, etc. Not anywhere near that sum goes to that office even though the legislation says that is where it is supposed to go.

      1. But in theory the whole population suffers equally if the fire marshalls aren’t adequately funded. This is a distinct group of people who are paying for something they cannot receive. It seems disingenuous to keep collecting taxes from them if the government is only offering window dressing as a solution.

  6. My neighbour’s daughter wanted to go to Bridgewater to practise as a family doctor, but the province refused to let her go there even though apparently Bridgewater was trying to attract doctors. She ended up going to Cape Breton. I think she should have come back to New Brunswick.

    I have a relative who practises medicine in Nova Scotia. She gets nickle and dimed so much by the province that I keep urging her to move to New Brunswick, not that it is any paradise here.

  7. Those federal employment numbers seem like a good chance for accountability for Andy Fillmore. Perhaps an Examineradio interview?

      1. Parker, I was absolutely not implying that she was the woman referred to in that court case. I was reacting to Tim’s mention of a previous tragedy involving a woman in Melville’s orbit, and his thinking that online stories about it had vanished. She deserves to be remembered.