1. Coach Brandon

Hantsport girls basketball team shows their support for fired coach Brandon MacInnis by placing “B’s” on their jerseys. Credit: Facebook

Stephen Kimber discusses the dismissal of Brandon MacInnis, a volunteer coach of the Hantsport School junior high boys basketball team:

On February 15, his boys’ junior high school basketball team gathered for practice in the school gym to prepare for their first quarterfinal playoff game the next day at King’s County Academy.

At least one of the teenaged boys — as teenaged boys are wont to do — goofed around in the locker room, delaying the beginning of practice for the others.

Coach MacInnis, who had long emphasized to his players the importance of showing up on time for practices, decided to hold the boys “accountable for their actions” — as coaches have also been wont to do for forever. He got the team to line up on the baseline of the gym and run up and down the gym floor. Line drills, they’re called. They happen. No big deal.

But for that, he was dismissed, as apparently he made the sin of holding the entire group accountable for the sins of a single player.

As Kimber sees it, “the administrators simply blindly followed some bureaucratic zero-tolerance policy past its common-sense boundaries.”

It was in another country and another century, but as a teenager in sport, I experienced exactly this situation dozens of times. As Kimber says: No big deal. The point of holding the entire group responsible for the screwup of one player is to instil a sense of team: the team works together as a whole, and one player being careless or goofing off affects the performance of the whole. And really, line drills? It’s not some de-pantsing hazing humiliation; it’s a simple exercise that a team would do at every practice.

Who knows? Maybe there’s more to it, but if so, the administrators aren’t saying what it is, deciding to hide behind the bureaucratic “can’t speak to personnel issues” ass-covering.

We should line those covered asses up on the line and make them do some drills.

Click here to read “Coach Brandon, his players and their parents versus mindless zero-tolerance policies.”

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2. Transit cuts

A bus is seen on a busy street on a sunny day. On the front, it says 7 ROBIE.
Halifax Transit’s Route 7 bus leaves a stop on Robie Street near Almon Street on Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Credit: Zane Woodford

Due to staff shortages, Halifax Transit is cutting service, effective today. Routes #41 (Dalhousie), #178 (Mount Edward Express), and #179 (Cole Harbour Express) are being discontinued entirely, while service is being reduced on 32 other routes.

A city spokesperson told Jonathan MacInnis at CTV that Halifax Transit has already hired 35 new drivers and is hoping to hire 80 more in coming months, with the aim of restoring all service by late summer.

Driving the bus seems like a pretty good job to me. It’s socially useful, with union wages and benefits. But obviously, Halifax Transit is having difficulty retaining drivers, which suggests that for many drivers the pay and benefits don’t balance out the hassles from management and negative interactions with riders. There’s a way to address this.

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3. Early February cold snap brought record power consumption

This graph shows the actual load in comparison to forecast, and an adjusted load estimate had there been no customer outages. Serving the estimated 25,000 customers that were off in that hour, in addition to the 40 MW of industrial interruption, could have seen load peak exceeding 2600 MW. Credit: Nova Scotia Power

The extreme cold weather over the Feb. 3-5 weekend stressed the electrical grid, and power consumption reached record levels.

“NS Power served a new all-time system peak load of 2455 MW from 11:01 am to 12:00 pm on February 4, 2023. This was 217 MW (9.7 percent) higher than the previous peak of 2238 MW in 2004,” Nova Scotia Power reported to regulators Friday.

According to Environment Canada historic weather data, the low temperature on Jan. 8, 2004 at the Halifax airport was -27.1° C at noon, but winds did not much exceed 30kph that day. By contrast, at noon on Feb. 4, 2023, the temperature was -22.5° C, with a steady wind of 45kph and gusts of up to 85kph, and a resulting wind chill of -38° C.

During this month’s cold snap, none of Nova Scotia Power’s generators failed, and power continued to flow through the Maritime Link as predicted (but as Jennifer Henderson has reported, power delivery through the Maritime Link is far below the contracted amount). However, power imports over the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick transmission tie were limited, as there was also high demand in New Brunswick and on PEI.

The high winds during the weekend brought high power production from wind farms. “Wind generation from generators equipped with cold weather packages and the ability to operate in higher wind speeds was an important contributor to serving the record load in this event,” reads the report.

Through the weekend, Nova Scotia Power did not have to cut service due to lack of available power: “Generation resources were sufficient to supply online firm load at all times.”

However, reads the report, “Some localized customer load was disconnected manually (33 events) due to some transmission and distribution equipment reaching electrical operating limits, caused by the significant increase in customer energy usage from the extremely cold temperatures. Other customer interruptions occurred due to protective equipment automatically operating when its high limit thresholds were reached; some of these downline devices, which are not controlled from NS Power’s Control Centre, operated when they reached their protection limits.”

During the peak demand, “some customer load was disconnected manually,” reads the report, referring to the 33 events. “Manual load management outages were limited to 30 minutes to prevent the potential for difficult restoration due to cold load pickup. In total, 33 feeder-level manual customer interruptions of approximately 3 MW to 12 MW and lasting approximately 30 minutes each took place using reclosers that were controlled from NS Power’s Control Centre.”

Those interruptions affected about 25,000 customers.

You can read the entire report here.

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4. RCMP contests Nick Beaton’s allegations

A man speaks to microphones
Nick Beaton speaks to reporters in July 2020. Credit: Yvette d'Entremont

Last month, I reported that Nick Beaton, the widower of Kristen Beaton, one of those killed during the mass murders of April 2020, had sued the RCMP for breach of privacy:

Beaton was particularly upset with Wayne “Skipper” Bent, the family liaison officer assigned to the families of 21 of the 22 victims (two family liaison officers were assigned to the family of the 22nd victim, Cst. Heidi Stephenson. 

Through the investigation, the RCMP obtained about two dozen search warrants to examine properties, cell phones, and computer equipment.

One of those warrants was for Kristen Beaton’s cell phone, which besides the texts of Apr. 20 included family photos that Nick Beaton wanted to keep…

Search warrants are obtained via an application to a court called an “Information to Obtain” (ITO). The ITOs written after the mass murders were sealed by the court, but given the public interest in the murders, a consortium of media companies, including the Halifax Examiner, took legal action to have the ITOs unsealed. As well, lawyers for the families of the victims asked for the ITOs.

On Sept. 21, 2020, Beaton spoke with Bent, with “questions about Lisa Banfield not knowing more as per the ITO.” Banfield was the common-law spouse of the killer.

But it wasn’t until Mar. 8, 2021 that one of the ITOs — numbered 20-0743 — was released to the families of the victims and to the media consortium. According to a letter faxed to the court that day by Beaton’s lawyer, Mark Pineo, the civic address of Kristen and Nick Beaton was included in the copy of the ITO given to the families.

On Feb. 17, on behalf of the RCMP, federal Crown lawyer Patricia MacPhee filed a “Notice of Contest” with the court in response to Beaton’s lawsuit.

The notice clarifies some confusion I had noted in the January article — while on March 8 the media consortium that included the Halifax Examiner was provided a copy of ITO 20-0743 that redacted Beaton’s address, the same day, Bent provided an unredacted copy of the same ITO to representatives of the victims’ families.

“This practice of providing an advance copy of the ITOs to the victims’ families was initiated as a result of concerns raised by the victims’ families early on in the investigation [into the murders] that they were learning about the developments in the case through the media at the same time as the general public,” wrote MacPhee in the notice.

“Included in Cst. Bent’s distribution list was Maureen Banfield. Ms. Banfield was the family representative of Lisa Banfield, a surviving victim of the Perpetrator who was also criminally charged with unlawfully transferring him ammunition.”

Beaton had received the same package distributed by Bent, and when Beaton saw his address had not been redacted, he called Bent. According to MacPhee, Bent immediately called the Crown, who called the court, and later that day the redacted version of the ITO was issued to the representatives of the victims’ families with instructions to destroy the unredacted version. At 6:30pm that evening, Lisa Banfield’s lawyer contacted to court to say that the unredacted version had been deleted and no one had read it.

MacPhee said there was never, as Beaton alleged, a desire to punish Beaton.

Confusing matters even more, MacPhee wrote that the Crown had already provided an unredacted version of the same ITO to Banfield on Feb. 5, 2021 —a month before Bent distributed the ITO to victims’ families — as part of its obligatory disclosure in the criminal case against her.

Besides all that, wrote MacPhee, the Crown denies that Beaton’s home address “attracts a reasonable expectation of privacy in any event… The [Crown] denies the allegation of breach of privacy and intrusion upon seclusion. There is no recognized tort of breach of privacy in Nova Scotia.”

The court will first hear the matter on March 21.

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5. COVID deaths in nursing homes

According to a response to a Freedom of Information request, between Jan. 1, 2020 and Jan. 5, 2023, 242 people living in long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia died from COVID.

The response gives some clarifications about how COVID is diagnosed and how COVD deaths are determined; you can read that here.

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One of the beaches I visited in Puerto Rico.

I took a week off and went to Puerto Rico. It was fun: I explored the old city of San Juan, went out to Vieques and checked out the fascinating Mosquito Bio Bay, and sat on a few beaches. I got some badly needed sun and regenerated a bit, I hope.

Puerto Rico gets a bad rap.

When I was contemplating a trip to PR, a couple of people warned me against it, using terms like “basket case” and pointing to territorial bankruptcy and the effects of a double-whammy of hurricanes.

Yes, imperialism continues to suck wealth out of the place, and it still hasn’t fully recovered from Maria and Fiona, but it’s a functioning, developed world society. Even more than in Canada, there’s no clear black and white in Puerto Rico, and everything is negotiated; the population is hybrid, as are the economy, the politics, the language, the culture. That diversity and uncertainty brings a beauty to the place, even beyond the natural beauty.

I found the people hard working and industrious, but not obsessed with it. There’s an ease to the society that we could learn a lot from. Or at least I could learn something from it.

In my absence, the Examiner crew excelled, and I can’t thank them enough.

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Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda

Advisory Committee on Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 4pm, online) — agenda

North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, Lockview High School, Fall River) — agenda


Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, online) — agenda



No meetings


Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place and online) — Support for Firefighters and Agency, Board and Commission Appointments; with representatives from Halifax Professional Firefighters Association – IAFF Local 268; Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration; and Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place and online) — Innovation Rebate Programs; with representatives from Department of Economic Development and Invest Nova Scotia

On campus



Siloed Knowledges: Mennonite Settlers vs the Farm Expert (Tuesday, 7pm, Potter Auditorium, Rowe Building) — Royden Loewen from the University of Winnipeg will talk



Nuclear Exposures: Photographic Archives of Canadian Uranium Mining (Tuesday, 7pm, KTS Lecture Hall, New Academic Building) — Aaron Wright will talk

In the harbour

05:00: NYK Meteor, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Caucedo, Dominican Republic
07:00: ZIM Yokohama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
15:30: ZIM Yokohama, container ship sails for Mersin, Turkey
18:00: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
00:30 (Tuesday): NYK Meteor sails for Southampton, England

Cape Breton
No arrivals or depatures.


While on vacation, between contemplating palm trees and travelling between beaches, I spent a tiny bit of time reflecting on work and the stresses it brings me. It took being fully away from work to realize that the last three years have been a big fucking ordeal, and I should cut myself a little slack.

We’ve got a big project in the works, and we get to speak about it a bit tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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

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  1. “There’s an ease to the society…”

    We used to have that in Nova Scotia, content to go about our own business in our own way. It’s what drew me here 60 years ago. That ease is mostly gone now. More’s the pity.

  2. HRM council wasting money on the Dartmouth ferry service. In the last 2 weeks I used the ferry around noon time – just me and 4 other passengers. I could have taken the bus, which I did for the return journey. Excellent service from the bus drivers and no hassles from the public. I expect bus drivers to have a more stressful work place as the number of homeless and addicted persons in Halifax/Dartmouth increases.
    Downtown Ottawa now having significant problems with addicts : ………..” The crisis is striking the very heart of the nation’s capital. Drug overdoses are a regular occurrence in the city’s historic core. Overdose rates have hit record levels in the past few years. According to figures from Ottawa Public Health, more than 300 people have died by unintentional overdose so far this decade – and the figure will rise once pending numbers from all of last year come in. You can witness such scenes in any Canadian city. Years into the crisis, about 20 people a day are dying of overdoses. But to see it in Ottawa, home of the Prime Minister, the House of Commons and the Supreme Court, is startling. Just as the crack cocaine epidemic swirled around the White House on the streets of Washington in the 1980’s, the overdose wave is lapping at the feet of the country’s decision makers. ”
    This crisis along with the housing crisis will consume significant human and financial resources along with greater pressure on all three levels of government. If HRM just rumbles along pandering to the middle class instead of recognising the coming tsunami of addiction, poverty and homelessness we will soon have an urban core with its own version of Downtown East Side Vancouver.

    1. I love taking the ferry, although I do it only rarely, especially on days when I can sit outside. I agree with you that it is not often full outside of the peak times on the weekdays; but on weekends it can be at seemingly random times depending on what is happening on either waterfront. Buses, too, have their peak times and their less busy times. I often wonder why Metro Transit continues to run the big articulated buses on the runs with almost no passengers. Why not smaller buses, perhaps even minivans? Surely those would be cheaper to run (and easier to navigate through the construction zone that is downtown Halifax). Further, wouldn’t it make more sense to adjust the schedules of both the ferry and the buses to actual demand? Perhaps if all employed by Transit and by HRM who could use the bus/ferry actually had to use the bus/ferry for a 30 day period they would have better data on which to base their decisions…..

      1. A lot of “soccer families” get minivans, in order to cart a load of a children around to soccer practice or whatever. But they use the van for other things as well — a parent will make a solo trip to the grocery store, or across town for a doctor’s appointment. Should the family buy a smaller car, say a Smart Car, for those solo trips, just because the minivan is too big of a vehicle? If not, then why should Halifax Transit buy an entire extra fleet of smaller buses to use during slow times, just for appearance’s sake?

      2. The increase in ferry frequency during off-peak hours was an initiative of Councillor Austin. A good idea in the summer but a waste of money in the rest of the year when tourists enjoy the experience. I live closer to the bus terminal but chose the ferry to see how many use it off-peak. Metro Transit does not publish passenger numbers. I suspect the Woodside service is also low traffic. Cheaper to leave the staff at home on full pay than wasting fuel and needlessly increasing emissions.

    2. The ferry should be a lot busier – it’s a harbour crossing that avoids heavy traffic and bridge delays. But it’s poorly integrated into bus routes on both sides of the harbour, making it usually more convenient to bus over. There’s little park and ride on the Dartmouth side, and Woodside, convenient to highway 111, is frequently on reduced service. On the Halifax side, in addition to poor bus route connections, walking from the terminal to downtown locations is dark and unpleasant in the evenings, and made less convenient by the closure of the access to the law courts pedway.

  3. In my experience about 5% – and they tend to be concentrated in administration – of people who work in public education appear to be there because they hate children and fun. Firing a popular coach who seems like a stand-up guy based on bureaucratic nonsense is right up their alley. Either that, or Brandon did something that is actually bad and the thing about the line drills is the excuse.

    I hated school, and I expect a lot of the teachers involved did too. Too little pay, too much work outside the classroom and too much BS from both kids and parents. I have no idea what the homework situation is like these days, but giving kids unpaid desk jobs so they can be prepared for their negative-pay desk job (university) so they can compete for a paid desk job is rather sad.