On campus
In the harbour


1. More on alleged mall shooting plotters

James Gamble
James Gamble

Maggie Gagnon, a childhood friend of James Gamble, the man who was reportedly connected to the thwarted mall shooting plot and who was found dead in his Timberlea home, tells the CBC that Gamble and Randall Shepherd, the 20-year-old man charged in the plot, were victims of unspecified bullying at school:

Both Shepherd and Gamble were bullied by peers, said Gagnon. When she moved to Halifax she befriended Gamble, but also realized he had been “shunned” for years.

“He was really chatty and upbeat and he talked to everybody constantly, and people would always ignore him or tell him that he was weird and strange and to go away,” said Gagnon, 20.

Gagnon claims to have introduced Gamble and Shepherd to each other:

Gagnon said Shepherd was home-schooled before Grade 10, and she was told it was because he had been bullied when he was younger. 

During the middle school years, however, Gagnon knew Shepherd because they attended the same youth group at the Timberlea Baptist Church, she said. 

In Grade 8 or 9, she started bringing Gamble to the youth group, where he was “never bullied” and made new friends, including Shepherd, she said.

Randall Shepherd
Randall Shepherd

An unnamed workmate of Shepherd tells the Chronicle Herald that Shepherd had talked about shooting up his workplace, Blue Ocean Call Centre in Halifax:

“If you ask me, it was more the girl who was involved, who coerced him,” the woman said in a telephone interview Friday.


She described Shepherd as a bit of a misfit and someone who liked to smoke a lot of marijuana.


In fact, Shepherd had recently seemed happier than he’d been in a while, she said.

In December, he’d split up with his live-in girlfriend, but he wasn’t upset about it, she said. He’d told her in previous conversations that the relationship hadn’t been going well.

In retrospect, the woman said, she can’t help but wonder if something very sinister was behind her friend’s apparent upbeat mood.

“Was he happy because he was planning to massacre a mall full of people? I guess.”

In an opinion piece, Metro reporter Stephanie Taylor says on-line responses to Metro articles on the alleged mall shooting skew towards the sexist:

Two people in Halifax are accused of plotting to commit the same gruesome crime. Their guilt has yet to be determined by the justice system but, in the court of public opinion, judgment has already been cast on the suspects. One is being vilified as immoral and reprehensible. The other simply as a loner. The only difference between the two is that one is a woman and one is a man.


Taylor puts screenshots of comments from Metro’s Facebook page, linking to an article about the plot, side-by-side:

[R]eaders are calling 23-year-old Lindsay Kanittha Souvannarath a “disgusting pig” who looks like “a $5 hooker,” while her 20-year-old co-accused, Randall Steven Shepherd, is simply cast as deranged loner, for allegedly plotting to shoot up a Halifax mall on Valentine’s Day.

Lindsay Souvannarath, perhaps smirking.
Lindsay Souvannarath, perhaps smirking.

Many people have commented on Souvannarath’s “smirk,” just as Victoria Henneberry, the woman charged in the death of Loretta Saunders was accused of smirking. Taylor notices the similarity as well:

Think of the difference in responses to Victoria Henneberry, the woman charged with first-degree murder of Loretta Saunders, who was met with venomous personal attacks compared to those against her boyfriend, Blake Legette, whose criminality seemed expected.

I don’t know that there’s an exact definition of a smirk, but even a remorseful, guilt-ridden perp would likely be overwhelmed by the necessary absurdity of the theatre around court appearances for such high-profile accused murderers, and recognition of that absurdity might register on their faces. That makes them human, which is a crime in the court of public opinion.

Souvannarath and Shepherd (and Henneberry and Legette as well) haven’t yet been convicted. Heck, we haven’t even heard the evidence against them. One or more of them might actually be innocent. Gamble lies dead, his family plainly mourning the passing of the man they loved, but his guilt or innocence will never be tested in court. It’s easy to turn all these people into two-dimensional characters in a simplistic morality play, but I suspect as more information becomes available we’ll find the story is more complicated.

2. Boy charged in bus death

Christopher Chafe
Christopher Chafe

A 15-year-old boy was charged in the February 11 death of 18-year-old Christopher Chafe in Sydney. Chafe died when he fell under the wheels of a school bus outside Sydney Academy High School. Reports the Cape Breton Post:

The charge against the accused, who cannot be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, alleges he was negligent by pushing Chafe, which caused him to fall into the path of a school bus.


At the time of the accident, witnesses and police said Chafe and others were “playing around” when the incident occurred.

3. Halifax cop charged with assault

A police release:

The province’s independent Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) today released a report announcing the laying of a charge of assault against Cst. Derek Fish, a 45-year-old member of the Halifax Regional Police (HRP).  

The charge relates to the arrest of a 34-year-old male on August 22, 2014 at the Dairy Queen on Dutch Village Road in Halifax for theft from another store.  That male made a complaint about the officer’s conduct in September of 2014. On October 17, 2014, the HRP referred the matter to SiRT for investigation under the public interest component of SiRT’s mandate. 

Today, SiRT laid one charge of assault against Cst. Fish, alleged to have occurred on August 22, 2014.  Cst. Fish will be summoned to appear at the Halifax Provincial Court on March 23, 2015.

4. Free tuition? Maybe not

The costs of university education in Nova Scotia, as detailed in a new paper by StudentsNS.
The costs of university education in Nova Scotia, as detailed in a new paper by StudentsNS.

StudentsNS says concentrating solely on tuition costs may not be the best way to address soaring student loan debts, reports Moira Donovan. Rather, governments should be looking at targeted grants and loan forgiveness. This article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall, and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.


1. Amalgamation

Too many rural towns are failing, says Graham Steele, but the province isn’t rushing them into the best solution — amalgamation with their counties — because legislators remember the political fall out from the amalgamation of HRM and CBRM in the 1990s.

2. Engaging the disengaged

Rachel Brighton points out that there’s more than a little irony in the mandate for EngageNS:

But the provincial spin being put on “engagement” through the financing of this charity is a bit rich, considering there has been a systematic dismantling of community engagement practices and institutions over the past half-decade.

Specifically, Brighton mentions the Voluntary Planning Board, killed in 2010, and the Sustainable Communities Initiative, which sort of just faded away.

Brighton asks:

Does the Liberal government think Engage Nova Scotia is a fair substitute for the Voluntary Planning Board, which had a mandate within government to be a strong community voice and to speak wisdom to power?

Bousquet answers: No. The point of Engage NS is for has-been politicians to get together and slap each other on the back while wooing the populace with their wisdom and giving the Liberal government some talking points about increasing meaningless “engagement.” Next question?

3. Cranky letter of the day

 To the Chronicle Herald:

I am a walking senior. I have lived in Halifax for at least 70 years, and this is a most horrible situation. It is like we are living in a backward country. I do agree that the corners and crosswalks would be best served by having the city plow them.

Caroline L. Anderson, Halifax


“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration has released an animation showing the decline of old sea icesince 1987, the first year for which accurate data is available on ice thickness,” reports Brian Kahn of Climate Central.

YouTube video

“In 1987, sea ice that was 4 years old or older constituted 26 percent of all sea ice. But fast forward to 2014 and it’s down to about 10 percent,” continues Kahn.

Hey, but gas is cheap.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9am Saturday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 9am Saturday. Map:


Berlin Express, container ship, to Fairview Cove
Maersk Pembroke, container ship, to Halterm
Zim Alabama to Halterm


East Coast to sea
Halifax Express to sea
San Fernando Rey to sea
Zim New York to Kingston, Jamaica


I’ll publish two more articles by Moira Donovan later today. Check the homepage.

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

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  1. Tim, haven’t you learned never to read the comments? ( Anonymity and a belief that the general public agrees with them causes people to post the most fucked up ideas and thoughts imaginable. I mean look at the other picture – there’s a consensus forming that the guy must be a “PC plant” and that his opinions will change when he’s locked up with the “brothas” in Burnside. I am fairly sure that the kind of people who post facebook comments on arrests in mass shootings are not representative of society!

  2. Re Taylor piece:

    Taylor relies on the greater number of men in the justice system as proof that men are more criminal. When people claim aboriginals or blacks are more criminal because they are over-represented in the justice system, that is (rightly) recognized as being the result of systemic issues, and not a fair judgement of that group. But it’s okay to say that men are more criminal because they are over-represented in the justice system.

    As for her claim that women get longer sentences than men, she has that backwards. There are many high profile examples of “female sentencing discount,” as well as studies, for example: Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases, Then of course there is family court…

  3. The state diagnosis of James Gamble as a “misfit” reinforces the discourse that mental health is the responsibility of the individual. The isolation and evaluation of the individual by the state is a manifestation of neoliberal ideology. When the state labeled James Gamble as a “misfit” they were giving him a posthumous performance evaluation, sort of like the evaluations everyone gets at work or in prison.

    But there are other ways to discuss human behavior. For example, the World Health Organization maintains that mental health is produced by society. In “Mental health, resilience and inequalities” Dr Lynne Friedli of the WHO writes, “” … levels of mental distress among communities need to be understood less in terms of individual pathology and more as a response to relative deprivation and social injustice, which erode the emotional, spiritual and intellectual resources essential to psychological wellbeing.”

    In the CBC article about Gamble, Maggie Gagnon revealed that the employees at Sir John A. MacDonald High School “… did nothing to help Jamie with his bullying.”

    By demonizing the individual the state is able to temporarily cover up the social dysfunction that is the real source of the trauma that was terrorizing the boy. The boys problems were produced, in part, by the educational system, which is part of the state.

    Everyone is a misfit in a society dominated by neoliberal ideology.

    El Jones, author of Live from the Afrikan Resistance!, made a few really good points on Facebook today about the James Gamble story by Selena Ross published on the CBC website.

    El wrote:

    “Humanity isn’t only for white people. If they can write this story they can come to our communities when our kids are arrested and find out who loves them.”


    “Who cares about the childhood trauma suffered by young Black men arrested with weapons?”

  4. There are several problems with the Students NS table featured in the Morning File and in Moira Donovan’s story. First, in the line for books and supplies, it says the $1800 allowance for 2011-12 was increased to $2157 due to increases in the cost of living index. Using the Bank of Canada calculator, the CPI increased only 3.58% over that three year period, so the adjusted amount should be $1864.44, $293 less than the figure shown. If the same method was used to adjust food costs for the CPI, we can expect another $350 error. Second, neither the table nor the report it comes from gives any explanation why food would be $302 more expensive at a community college than a university, nor why rent would be $505 more expensive. From these factors alone, it looks as though the students association has ginned up the numbers by $1500 for community college students. Lastly, the table takes no account of students who live at home or with relatives, often without paying room and board.

    1. Could the fact that universities tend to have less expensive residence living be contributing to the lower cost for rent and food? Residence meal plans also tend to be cheaper than buying your own groceries.

      I know that NSCC Truro has a few old residence rooms, but I don’t think most do.

  5. Re smirking: See Camus and not crying at a funeral.

    Re Souvannarath: pretty clear ties to Illinois neo-Nazis, seemingly much more so than the locals.

  6. RE: Amalgamation
    Ah the next round of Provincial takeovers of the 3rd level of government for thousands more. Democracy, Nova Scotia style, continues unabated

    1. “Constable Fish” sounds like a mid-90s SNL sketch, revisited about 4 times before being beaten into the ground with a movie.

  7. That Stephanie Taylor piece is the most cherry picked thing I have ever read. You can click on the link and read the comments that she obviously skipped over.

    There are certainly issues of sexism in our society that are systemic. I think there are issues of sexism that affect BOTH sexes, but trying to shoehorn every story into an agenda does a disservice to the very people she appears to be fighting for.

    Men and women are going to be treated differently. They should be. They are different. Women and men should have equal rights and nobody should be abused, but different can never be equal. Its seems the flavour of the month is to look for any discrepancy in treatment and then cry about it. Men and women are different, so being treated differently seems par for the course.

    … and yes women get screwed over by things, just like men do to. It sucks, and we can work to change it, but a lot of this dialogue is silliness. “They commented on her smirk!” Oh my god!