1. El Jones

El Jones

I first met El Jones when I worked at The Coast. Our meeting was not in person, but virtually — I remember that I asked her to write a guest commentary, and a couple of days later she came back with a poem, which she sent me via a Facebook message. (Even now, most of our communication is via Facebook, and it’s not at all unusual to see Jones read a poem off her phone at a public event.)

A couple of years later, I started the Examiner and Jones graciously spent an evening to help make a video to announce the venture. That’s the first time we met in person, I think.

A year after that, I took a week-long vacation and found six people to be guest writers for Morning File in my absence. Jones wrote that Saturday’s. “I want to do it again,” she told me afterwards, so I gave her a regular Saturday slot. Over time, we realized the Morning File format didn’t really capture what Jones was writing, so her Examiner column evolved into a more open-ended format, and we’ve given up on any tight schedule. “Send me a [webpage] template,” she’ll message me unexpectedly on a Tuesday or whatever; “I’ve got something to write.”

I could not be more happy about this.

Jones has used her platform at the Examiner to explore issues of racism, social justice more broadly, and in particular prison rights issues. She’s done so while ranging from profound to playful. She’ll be straight reporting one week, penning a personal essay the next, commenting the following. She stretches the boundaries of the expected journalism and often laps right over to overt activism. All of this is good.

If I had to name one thing that best describes Jones’ writing, it’s how she captures the human core of the issues and people she writes about and channels that humanity to her readers.

Here’s just a tiny sampling of articles she’s written for the Examiner:

• “You have to fight for your right to party” looked at how Black people meeting up at bars to drink are seen as a safety concern, while no such similar concerns are raised about white people drinking together.

• “Hell, Let’s Talk” looked at how Bell profits off predatory phone charges for the families of those in prison.

• “A brief and mundane history of being a woman.” I think of all the columns Jones has written, this personal essay affected me the most. Reading it, I realized that Jones has a presence that can’t be contained in any format, and that she will make a substantial dent in the world.

• “Remember, You Are A Lady“:

We live in a culture where Black women in particular have been conditioned to accept violence against us as normal. Where a mix of being told we deserve it, that we better take what we can get, that we are not desirable, that we are our pain, that to struggle is our destiny as Black women, has conditioned us to see abuse as just part of the deal of being a Black woman.

• “VOTE FOR THINGS,” Jones at her humourous best:

[poll id=”4″]
• And of course, all Jones’ writing on Abdoul Abdi, which raised awareness of Abdi’s plight and helped in the successful effort to overturn his deportation.

Jones’ work fits right into my original vision for the Halifax Examiner, and she’ll have a home here for as long as she wants it.

Because Jones writes about social justice issues, I don’t place her work behind the Examiner’s paywall. Lots of people should read her, including people who wouldn’t want to pay to access her work and those who are not in a position to pay for it.

But it still costs money to publish Jones — her pay and the ancillary costs associated with her work (my editing time, legal, research…)

And it’s your subscriptions that have made her work possible. If you haven’t subscribed already, please do so, so that we can continue to publish Jones. Click here to subscribe. And if you buy an annual subscription this month, we’ll throw in a free Examiner T-shirt, and you can be as styling as El Jones:

2. Diving death

Diver Luke Seabrook died in 2015 while on a maintenance job at the Annopolis Power Generation Station.

“On July 15, 2015, diver Luke Seabrook died while doing what Nova Scotia Power said was ‘routine’ maintenance work at the Annapolis Power Generation Station,” I reported earlier this morning:

Seabrook, who was 39 years old and a Dartmouth resident, became entangled in his diving gear. Seabrook “had been working underwater for about an hour and a half when he ran into trouble,” reported the Digby Courier. “He was wearing some high tech equipment at the time, including a video camera that was transmitting to the surface, quickly alerting the surface crew that there was a problem.”

After an investigation by the provincial Department of Labour, Paul’s Diving Services pleaded guilty to two violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

But Paul’s Diving is now appealing those convictions, arguing that owner Greg Paul made the guilty pleas without knowledge that the Crown’s expert witness did not disclose a conflict of interest.

Click here to read “Crown expert witness had undisclosed conflict of interest, claims company convicted in diver’s death.”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

3. Habeas Corpus

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Yesterday, I attended a “mootness hearing” at the Supreme Court.

You’ll recall that in September, prisoners at the Burnside jail made habeas corpus applications to the court; I reported at the time:

“Habeas corpus” is ancient English law, and translates from the Latin as something like “bring me the body.” In practice, a habeas application alleges that punishment and/or imprisonment is being meted out without due authority or legality. “Bring me the body” refers to both the body of the prisoner and the body of the law that justifies the punishment. The judge wants to see it all, so he or she can determine if the punishment is warranted.

In that vein, [Justice James] Chipman had previously ordered all eight prisoners be brought to court today so they could speak for themselves.

The prisoners allege that they have been unduly locked in their cells for 23 hours a day in “North Unit 3,” the new “direct supervision” day room at the jail.

We learned yesterday that in September, just as they were being loaded in a van for transport to court, the prisoners were given the disclosure documents they would need to argue their cases. With no legal training and little to no time to read the documents, most of the prisoners opted to ask for a delay in the habeas hearing. The lone exception was Maurice Pratt, who wanted and received a hearing then and there; having fired his lawyer, he represented himself.

Pratt lost his argument.

In the month since, the lockdown was ended, and so the other prisoners’ habeas applications were deemed moot — even if there had been an unlawful restriction on the prisoners’ liberties in the jail, those conditions no longer existed and so he couldn’t order a change, said Chipman. The issue is moot.

But six prisoners — Matthew Coaker, Chad Harvey Leopold, Matthew Grimm, Robert Sanford, Randolph Riley, and Matthew Lambert — are challenging that mootness ruling — they want some sort of court ruling about past lockdowns and a potential court intervention into how the jail implements future lockdowns.

So all six prisoners were brought to court yesterday; the metal detector was set up at the courthouse entrance, and in the courtroom they were watched over by no fewer than 10 sheriff deputies. I’ve never seen such a display of fire power in one courtroom before.

The prisoners’ lawyers were Hanna Garson, Sarah White, and Grace MacCormick; Garson made the oral presentation to Justice Peter Rosinski. The jail was represented by crown lawyer Duane Eddy. Yesterday, the arguments were simply about whether the issue should be heard at all, and whether or not a hearing date should be set.

I’ll save you a detailed recounting of the arguments made (although if you’re interested, you can read it on my Twitter feed). But Rosinski seemed skeptical; it’s an uphill battle for the prisoners and their lawyers.

Eddy, the crown lawyer, was not only dismissive of the prisoners’ request, but wanted punitive action against them for daring to take it. Making a broad sweeping motion with his hand while pointing at the 10 deputies in the courtroom, Eddy said their application was costing the court lots of money, so he wanted the case dismissed and costs of $2,500 per prisoner laid.

Eddy admitted to Rosinski that there had never before been costs laid in a habeas case — doing so flies in the face of the entire habeas process, which exists so prisoners can have free access to appeal their conditions.

I’m not a lawyer and haven’t reviewed the case law in any event, so I can’t say how Rosinski will rule on the prisoners’ applications. But even if their applications are rejected, the request for costs is outrageous and, if granted, will serve to restrain even those prisoners with clearly valid arguments from filing habeas applications in the future. A $2,500 fine on a prisoner is enough to destroy what little life they have inside the jail and will follow them outside for years to come.

Rosinski said he would issue a ruling at some unspecified point in the future.

4. Pipe route

Yesterday, the Friends of the Northumberland Strait sent the Examiner the above graphic showing the newly proposed routing of the effluent pipe from Northern Pulp Mill:

Here is the graphic of the proposed new route given to fishermen when they last met with Northern Pulp, Oct 22. It also includes an option for extending the original route out farther, although that does not address either the shipwreck or ice issues which made them drop the route originally.

And, “Representatives for the town of Pictou, N.S., did not learn the proposed route for a new effluent pipe from Northern Pulp would cross their watershed until the plan was made public in media reports,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

Officials from the pulp mill met with Pictou Landing First Nation officials and fishermen’s associations several weeks ago to detail the new proposed route after problems were discovered with the original route.

The mill needs a new effluent treatment site because Nova Scotia legislation calls for the closure of the 140-hectare treatment lagoon at Boat Harbour by January 2020.

Both proposed plans from the mill — the original and the subsequent “Plan B” — have drawn criticism and opposition because they would ultimately see treated waste water pumped into the Northumberland Strait, something that’s raised fears about the future of local fishing areas and stocks.

For an update on the situation with the effluent pipe and the clean up of Boat Harbour, read Joan Baxter’s “Containing Northern Pulp’s mess.”

Baxter’s article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

5. Biomass

Ecology Action Centre & Halifax Field Naturalists present the award-winning documentary “Burned: Are Trees the New Coal” re. the impacts of the Biomass industry on our forests & atmosphere Wednesday @ 6:30 PM @ Museum of Natural History, Halifax. Admission free, everyone welcome.

— Raymond Plourde (@EACwilderness) November 5, 2018

6. Burnside explosion

I just watched a building explode out of nowhere in burnside

— Chandler (@ChandlerBouts) November 5, 2018

“Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency says there are no major injuries after a silo roof explosion at the Burnside industrial park in Dartmouth,” reports CTV:

Three people were working at Quality Concrete Limited on MacDonald Avenue at the time. They were all checked out and released.

The fire service says witnesses reported a loud explosion on MacDonald Avenue around 3:20 p.m. Monday.

While several witnesses reported seeing smoke, fire officials say there was no fire, and what appeared to be smoke was actually fly ash from the silo.

“Despite many people initially thinking there was a fire because they saw what appeared to be smoke, it was in fact (fly ash) from the silo,” said the department.

Fly ash is used in the making of concrete and is carcinogenic, fire officials say. Halifax Regional Fired and Emergency Deputy Chief Roy Hollett said the silo held approximately 35 tonnes of fly ash in a pressurized container.

The department said pieces of the roof could be seen 300 metres away, while “The top of the silo landed on the roof of a car!”

Many cars and buildings in the area were covered in the fly ash, which spread across a 1,000 square-metre area, Hollett said.


1. Exhibits

Stephen Archibald takes a tour of four exhibits at local galleries, and says you should too.

Included in Archibald’s tour is the Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience exhibit at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia:

The artist Kent Monkman uses “his gender fluid, time travelling alter-ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle” to guide visitors through Canada’s history. The journey is sometimes hilarious and often heart breaking. Monkman mixes historic artifacts from museum collections with his monumental paintings and installations.

In a painting called “Daddies,” the Fathers of Confederation are joined at the table by Miss Chief.


No public meetings.

On campus



Policy Matters: Provincial Perspectives on Federal Pharmacare (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1011, Rowe Building) — info here.

An introduction to the nominal technique (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Frank Fu will speak. His abstract:

In pen and paper proofs, alpha-equivalence (e.g. forall x . P(x) is the same as forall y. P(y)) is not much of a concern, but it is one of the obstacles in formalizing meta-theoretical proofs in proof assistants (e.g. formalizing the meta-theory of programming languages).

The so-called “nominal technique” was first proposed by Gabby and Pitts(1999). It is a mathematical theory (based on G-sets) intended to model and facilitate naming modulo alpha-equivalence. In this talk, I will introduce the category of nominal sets and identify some special objects and properties in this category.​


The nature of the first mitochondrial ancestor (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — PhD candidate Sergio Andrés Muñoz-Gómez will speak.

Impressions of Debussy, 100 Years On (Wednesday, 7pm, The Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Road) — ​A musical tribute to Claude Debussy, who died 100 years ago this year. Leonardo Perez (violin), Peter Allen (piano), Michael Donovan (baritone), Marcia Swanston (mezzo soprano), and Shimon Walt (cello) perform. $25

Saint Mary’s


SMU Indigenous Sharing Circle (Tuesday, 12:30pm, Loyola 290) — with Denise Eisen, Elder at SMU.


Indigenous Medicine Talks (Wednesday, 11am, Burke 113; 12pm, MM 320,) — Cecelia Brooks will speak.

In the harbour

06:00: Asian Sun, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
07:00: Silver Wind, cruise ship with up to 355 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Sydney (nine-day cruise from Montreal to Boston)
07:30: Insignia, cruise ship with up to 800 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney (16-day cruise from Montreal to Miami for the winter season)
11:00: Horizon Star, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from the offshore
11:30: Don Carlos, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
15:30: Insignia sails for Bar Harbor
16:30: Asian Sun sails for sea
17:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from  Liverpool, England
18:00: Silver Wind sails for Portland
18:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
20:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
20:30: Don Carlos sails for sea


Election day.

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

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. First time checking out the Examiner was because of “Dead Wrong” and first article I read was El Jones and then I was hooked…

  2. The community as a whole owes a debt of gratitude to giving El Jones a forum for her unique and necessary voice. I think the single greatest strength to El’s writing is that it very often results in the reader feeling discomfort. That is good! Too much of what we read trys to insulate us from reality and not offend even those who quite frankly need offending.
    I like this approach the Examiner is taking to profiling the writers, Good work!