1. Clearcutting

Left to right: Ben Jessome, Liberal candidate; Stephen McNeil, Liberal leader; Lena Diab, Liberal candidate. Location: Chocolate Lake, Halifax. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Stephen McNeil yesterday “announced a review of forestry practices by ‘an independent expert’ before taking action to reduce clearcutting,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

According to the National Forestry Database using figures supplied by the province, in 2015 clearcutting was estimated at 89 per cent on the combined total of Crown and privately-owned land.

“It’s good to see them acknowledge there is a problem with forestry practices,” commented Raymond Plourde, wilderness coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre. “But we’ve already had a massive, exhaustive independent public review of forestry practices. In fact, we’ve had two or three in recent years: The Natural Resources Strategy, the Western Crown Land Planning Process, and the Panuke Lake Harvest review. They all said essentially the same things: harvesting practices are poor and unacceptable and must be changed by improving regulations. We don’t need another review. We just need a government with the backbone to implement the policies already developed through a highly-credible public policy process and already promised to the public.”

Journalists asked McNeil why another review was being undertaken and how long that would take. He ducked.

Click here to read “McNeil promises independent review of clearcutting; critics say it’s not necessary.”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

2. Kyley Harris

Kyley Harris. Photo: Twitter

The Liberal campaign issued this statement this morning:

The following is a campaign statement from Michael Mercer, campaign director:

“This morning, Kyley Harris voluntarily offered to step away from the campaign. The Liberal Party of Nova Scotia accepted and Mr. Harris is no longer working on the Liberal campaign.” 

You’ll recall that in 2014, when he was working as the Liberals’ communication director, Harris was convicted on a domestic assault charge. He was subsequently fired, but was recently quietly rehired onto the campaign team.

In a letter released to the press, Harris writes:

Despite my efforts to make amends and move on from a mistake I made three years ago to the day, it is clear that is not possible in the current political climate.

While I can readily accept that I continue to be punished for my actions on that night in 2014, I will not allow my colleagues, this organization or its leader Stephen McNeil to bear that burden any longer.

I deeply appreciate the second chance I was given to be a contributing member of the campaign and Liberal family — that the opportunity was offered to me in the first place is a testament to the character and humanity of Stephen McNeil. It is rare for anyone — let alone a politician seeking re-election — to have shown the bravery and loyalty Stephen has shown me throughout my efforts to rebuild my life from what was a grievous error in judgment.

Well, let’s give Harris credit for spelling “rebuild” correctly.

3. Matthew MacKnight

“The Nova Scotia Liberals say they have dropped a candidate after he allegedly made inappropriate social media commentary,” reports the Canadian Press:

A news release from campaign chair Chris MacInnes said the “highly inappropriate” comments from Pictou East candidate Matthew MacKnight were brought to his attention Monday.

MacKnight was dropped when this tweet from 2013 was made public:

4. Doctors

At 261 doctors per 100,000 residents, Nova Scotia has more doctors per capita than any other Canadian province, notes Bill Turpin:

However, there are subtleties to this that will never be discussed in an election campaign, if ever. For example, Doctors NS argues the high ratio here is driven by the need to treat patients from other Atlantic Provinces. Perhaps, but other provinces will have unique challenges, too, such as vast territories to cover.

Besides which, as Turpin notes, the figure in France is 330, and in Italy 420. Stephen Kimber chimes in in the comments, saying that in Cuba the number is 591.

Turpin is right about the subtleties. There’s not a direct correlation between the number of doctors and general health — What if half the doctors specialize in cosmetic plastic surgery? What if there are too many brain surgeons and not enough heart surgeons?

What we do know is that no matter what the per capita number of doctors is, and no matter how it compares to other jurisdictions, there aren’t enough family doctors. That’s because in the long term family doctors reduce overall health care costs, as illness is identified and treated earlier.

In terms of health, we can do many things to reduce costs, starting with concentrating on providing opportunities for people to get off their butts, or what’s now called “active living.” Designing walkable and cyclable neighbourhoods and cities and down-playing the role of the car has a direct monetary connection to health care costs — every time you see a bike path you should think, “ah, they’re reducing tax expenditures.” Providing and encouraging participation in sports and recreation also improves societal health, and therefore reduces health care costs.

I’m either amused or irritated by the bureaucratic tendency to lengthen the name of public programs in an effort to, I don’t know, placate people? So we don’t just have a Freedom of Information Act; we have a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, in case anyone is thinking about getting uppity. We can’t have a perfectly descriptive and succinct Public Works Department, but rather a Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. And on and on — some of the university department names are entire paragraphs.

The one exception to my irritation is the Department of Health and Wellness, because the two really are intrinsically linked. If we are more effective at getting people “well,” we’ll have less to do on the “health” front.

Unfortunately, the sort of long-term investments needed to improve overall health usually take longer to get a financial return than the four years a government will be sitting, and so politicians aren’t much talking about them. Why should a governing party provide funding for, say, a decent active transportation trail connecting Bedford and Burnside, when the budget savings of reduced health costs won’t materialize until some other party has formed government? And so we get less and less healthier, health care costs continue to increase, and we throw money only at the symptoms, not the underlying causes.

5. Trans Canada Trail

I was curious about the Trans Canada Trail, which is supposed to be complete by Canada Day of this year, but I can’t tell if that deadline will be met in Nova Scotia.

At least, the Nova Scotia Trails site doesn’t make note of the completion, and the trail map still shows gaps in the Nova Scotian portion of the trail (the red parts of the map above).

To its credit, the Liberal government has funded some trail construction — notably, for the Gaetz Brook Connector, but I’m not seeing any announcements about other uncompleted segments of the Trans Canada Trail, like the Acadia Marsh Greenway.

6. Alex Cameron

“A former government lawyer in Nova Scotia who presented a controversial legal brief in court implying that the Mi’kmaq are a conquered people plans to sue Premier Stephen McNeil, Justice Minister Diana Whalen and the attorney general’s office,” reports Frances Willick for the CBC:

According to [Alex] Cameron’s affidavit, he intends to sue McNeil, Whalen and the attorney general’s office for defamation, abuse of public office, constitutional violation and constructive dismissal.


Cameron was acting as a lawyer on behalf of the government last year in a case that pitted the province against the Sipekne’Katik First Nation.


During the case, Cameron presented a brief that said the Crown was only obliged to consult with “unconquered people,” and that a band’s submission to the Crown in 1760 negated its claim of sovereignty, meaning the government did not have a constitutional duty to consult.

After the brief was presented, McNeil apologized for it and the defence was later removed. 

7. Melvin v Marriott

Jimmy Melvin Jr. Photo: Christian LaForce / Local Xpress

Brett Bundale, reporting for the Canadian Press, is covering the Jimmy Melvin Jr murder trial:

Beer bottles. Kids’ toys. A sleeping man covered with a Disney princess blanket, shot in cold blood.

This is the scene of Terry Marriott Jr.’s death in a basement TV room on February 20, 2009, a jury in Nova Scotia Supreme Court heard Monday.

In the first-degree murder trial against Jimmy Melvin Jr., the star witness described a bloody scene at a home in Harrietsfield, a rural community on the outskirts of Halifax.

“There was blood everywhere,” Derek Thomas MacPhee told the jury of eight women and six men. “There was a hole in the side of his head … his face was all distorted.”

MacPhee is in witness protection and received immunity in exchange for testifying.

8. Videoing cops

“Nova Scotia’s independent police watchdog is probing allegations that Halifax police deleted a cellphone video of an arrest outside a downtown bar last month,” reports the Canadian Press:

The Serious Incident Response Team said Monday a man told them he had taken video of a friend’s April 27 arrest for public intoxication.

The man said he was also arrested on the same charge, and when his phone was returned to him the next morning, the video had been removed.

Video recording police is legal in Canada, so long as you are not interfering with their work. If people want to avoid the possibility that their videos will be erased by the police, they should use Facebook Live or Periscope, both of which put videos live on the internet and archive them independently from your phone. In the U.S. there are a number of apps that save videos to the internet as they’re being recorded without publishing them, but I’m not sure if they operate in Canada. Some smart reader will tell us if they do.




City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.


Special Events Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 9am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Wednesday, 9am, Alderney Public Library) — here’s the agenda.


The legislature and its committees won’t meet until after the election.

On campus



Embedded and Cyber-physical Systems (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Zonghua Gu, from Zhejiang University in China, will speak on “Analysis and Optimization of Resource-constrained Real-time Embedded and Cyber-physical Systems.”


Thesis Defence, Economics (Wednesday, 10:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Md Shamsul Arefin will defend his thesis, “Labour Reallocation out of Agriculture. Evidence from Developing Countries.”

Thaumarchaeota (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Alyson Santoro will speak on “Microbial Adaptation to the Open Ocean: Insights from the Thaumarchaeota.”

Our Shining Seas on Screen (Wednesday, 7pm, Potter Auditorium, Rowe Building) — “Experimental, animated, and documentary films exploring different perspectives on connections between the human and the oceanic,” says the event listing.

YouTube video

Transamerica (Wednesday, 8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Duncan Tucker’s 2005 film with Felicity Huffman and Kevin Zegers.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:30am Tuesday. Map:

11:30am: Glovis Conductor, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
3:30pm: Otello, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
4pm: CPO Germany, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
4:30pm: Glovis Conductor, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for sea


I’ve got nothing.

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

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  1. Thanks for your very common sense comments on healthcare. I believe there are many healthcare professionals that feel the same way, and a lot of frustration with the way things are being run. It would be interesting to look more into the activities and style of current top management, what and how “savings” have been achieved by the amalgamation of health districts, and why it is so damn hard to enact the approaches that so many agree with in private.

  2. Vengefulness used to be the right wing’s stock and trade. Now it seems to be the guiding principle of the left.

    I admire McNeil’s impulse to give someone a second chance, despite the political risk that must have been obvious to him.


      McNeil’s “impulse to give someone a second chance” is indeed noteworthy. But truly only admirable if this magnanimity will now be extended to say young folks from our First Nations community who may have stolen a car, or to a young mum who shoplifted food for her kids if they should, upon release, seek work in the public service. Will McNeil undertake to make sure they get the same kind of second chance?

      If not, there is nothing here to admire, save the tawdry loyalty of one privileged person to another.

  3. “Why should a governing party provide funding for, say, a decent active transportation trail connecting Bedford and Burnside, when the budget savings of reduced health costs won’t materialize until some other party has formed government? ”

    Government, and in particular its role in the state of our peoples health and their wellness continues irrespective of electoral cycles. They decide who gets to govern – but that is the prime concern of political parties.

    One of the few things I expect all NS political parties might agree upon is that serious discussion of reforming the way we manage public health and wellness is not up for discussion, and certainly not during an election. It’s just not in their interests.

    Health care policy vision is not shown by one party sniping at their rivals’ (mis)management of it. Nor is it the replacement of worn out facilities like the VG. IMHO public health is far too important to be used for the usual juvenile partisan games. Lives literally depend on it. It also represents the largest government program cost, and at over 41% of all spending of the government of NS (and rising), it is gobbling up funds that cannot go to education or community services or public works or post-secondary education or anything else.

    Still, there will be no substantive discussion of it this election.

    I once asked Darrell Dexter if there was any single issue (such as health care) around which all NS parties might declare a truce and come together to advance the public good over longer periods than election cycles. I was thinking of some sort of permanent cross-partisan body. He replied that he could never see any issue for which they ever would. Not in Nova Scotia.

  4. “I deeply appreciate the second chance I was given to be a contributing member of the campaign and Liberal family…”

    Mr Harris has admitted his ‘mistake’ and served his debt to society. I have no problem with that. Politics however is all about perception, and these days with heightened sensitivity about violence against women, installing him in a senior party or government position during an election may have been ‘brave’ but it was clearly not smart.

    No doubt such a valuable Liberal stalwart will be back after the election when it no longer matters what anyone thinks. There must surely be some suitable patronage appointment somewhere, and if not the Liberals could just create one. They’ve done that before.

  5. How nice to see El Jones endorse the Margaret Thatcher policy of selling public housing at a discount to long term tenants. George Elliott Clarke endorsed the policy in a CBC lecture several years ago.
    I look forward to El convincing Lisa Roberts and Gary Burrill that such a policy is progressive and desirable.

  6. Apparently Parties have the resources available to search the closets of opposing candidates for skeletons. If only they would first apply those resources to ensure the closets of their own candidates are clean.

  7. “Despite my efforts to make amends and move on from a mistake I made three years ago to the day, it is clear that is not possible in the current political climate.”

    Love a good, snivelling “it’s somebody else’s fault I got punished for being a terrible person” non-excuse excuse.

    If our “political climate” is such that domestic abusers have a hard time holding down positions of power, then the weather is looking pretty good.

    1. ‘Mistake’. Do we categorize criminal assault as mistakes? It’s not like he ordered the wrong coffee…

  8. Another review?? This seems to be the trend these days about everything that’s already been studied.

  9. The trail craps out after Whycocomagh on Cape Breton. For some reason it became acceptable for the trail to be water based, it’s done they are probably just going to add some signs of where to turn on your kayak bike.