1. Chronicle Herald vote today

Striking Chronicle Herald newsroom employees will today vote on whether to accept a proposed deal with the company. Yesterday, Jacob Boon at The Coast published details of the agreement:

While a media blackout prevents the Herald and HTU from detailing the tentative agreement until it’s ratified, several sources with knowledge of the deal confirm at least 26 positions will be eliminated through layoffs and buyouts.

The proposed eight-year agreement also includes a five percent wage cut, an increase in the work week from 35 to 37.5 hours and a promise of no additional layoffs for the next two years.

The union currently has 53 members, which is down from 61 when the strike started.

A reduction to 26 members is a death knell for the union, and probably for the paper as well — it’s simply not possible to put out a paper of record with a newsroom that small. It’s clear that the Chronicle Herald now sees itself as merely a flyer delivery service, its product wrapped with news lite and advertorial in order to pretend it’s still a newspaper.

Boon says management intends to keep the scabs who have been producing the mistake-ridden paper through the strike, and having union members work side-by-side with those who would take their jobs will be beyond awkward.

The vote is at noon today.

2. Sullivan Pond geese killed


Someone ran over three of the Sullivan Pond geese yesterday. Halifax police sent the following email to reporters at midnight:

Geese MV Collision

At approximately 5:50 pm, a male was driving westbound (inbound) on Prince Albert Rd in Dartmouth. The male was driving by Sullivan’s Pond, as the geese were crossing over from the area of Elliott St. The male did not see the geese and struck three of them.

One goose died at the scene. Another goose was taken to a vet and died. The third goose continued and swam to the island and is being monitored by volunteers.

Witnesses confirm that speed was not a factor in this incident.

No charges have been laid.

The police account differs from a Haligonia report:

A witness says a silver car appeared to have intentionally sped through the crossing geese at Sullivan’s Pond.

The anger is flowing on the Haligonia Facebook post.

Barbara Darby was soon at the scene; she writes:

Tonight by sheer coincidence of timing, I was passing Sullivan’s Pond in Dartmouth, and there was a flurry of feathers on the ground, and worried passersby. Two geese had been hit by a car. One was dead, the other badly injured. On the advice of Hope For Wildlife, I took the injured goose to the Metro Emergency location. Sadly, they had to euthanize the bird. But it was moving, so very moving, to spend the last moments of that bird’s life with it, in a Tupperware box in my little car, feeling so hopeful that I could see it breathing, and then feeling so sad to know it was in too much distress to be saved.

I remember the first time I encountered the geese, in 2005. I was driving to the Superstore for supplies, and traffic was backed up by the duck pond. “What is this?” I wondered, only to find the geese lazily waddling across the road, in the crosswalk. Now the wait-for-the-geese-in-the-crosswalk thing is a regular part of my life, and indeed part of the charm of living in Dartmouth. It doesn’t matter how big of a hurry you’re in, where you’re going, or what’s on your mind — those geese make you stop and contemplate their world for a bit. I mean, come on, what could be cuter than geese crossing the road in a crosswalk?

Continues Darby in her post “Eulogy for a Goose”:

Geese are symbols of teamwork. Google “the Wisdom of Geese” and even the most cynical of us might take heed of their V-flight formations, allowing the group to fly more efficiently than the individual, to inspire the group, to take care of the weak or fallen, and to take turns doing the hard work.

A flock of geese is a romantic and family inspiration for one of my tattoos. My grandmother marked the arrival and departure of all manner of bird species on the Saskatchewan prairie over decades of keeping a diary, and the sound of the geese coming and going was particularly a matter for her to remark upon. She missed my grandfather, after his death, when she heard them.

According to Urban Dictionary, “When someone does something to make you giggle, you call them a silly goose.” A “loosey goosey” is someone who doesn’t follow prescribed guidelines or general societal expectations. Very casual. Bypassing certain boundaries.

Geese are force-fed for the human pleasure of fois gras.

One of my favourite poems is “the Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver: how profound to know that the world goes on, and no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to our imagination.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to you.

RIP silly goose.

3. Ellenvale Run

Ellenvale Run. North is to the left. Map: Halifax Water

Halifax Water this morning issued a tender offer for the reconstruction of Ellenvale Run, a five-kilometre long stream that runs from Topsail and Lamont Lakes north of Main Street in Dartmouth, wanders behind Prince Arthur Andrew High School, through the Woodlawn Avenue area, and behind the Portland Street Superstore, until it ultimately drains into Morris Lake south of Portland Hills Estates.

In 2014, residents complained that retaining walls along the stream were in disrepair and their backyards were eroding.

Last year, Halifax Water expected the reconstruction project to cost $3.6 million and take three years to complete.

4. SMU responds to Acadia bailout

Yesterday, Saint Mary’s president Robert Summerby-Murray sent a memo to staff:

Last week, along with other members of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents (CONSUP), I met with the Hon. Labi Kousoulis, Nova Scotia Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, (LAE) and Deputy Minister Duff Montgomerie, seeking an explanation for the special funding arrangement between the Nova Scotia government and Acadia University. You are likely aware from various media reports that the Public Accounts revealed recently that Acadia University has received an annual additional allotment of $3.5 million for each of the past five years as well as having its Strategic Opportunities Fund loan of $7 million forgiven. Prior to our meeting, the Minister announced also that the government will be making available in the near future a special funding arrangement for Cape Breton University.

The rationale provided for the special funding of these two universities is that this funding addresses unforeseen consequences of the funding formula established for all Nova Scotia universities in 2008/09. It was determined by government that both Acadia and Cape Breton University were penalized by the formula. By way of context, I want you to be aware that Saint Mary’s receives an annual operating grant from the Nova Scotia government of approximately $34 million, representing just under 30 per cent of our operating budget. The operating grant was reduced considerably under the NDP government with annual reductions of -3, -3 and -4 per cent; these cuts were applicable to all Nova Scotia universities with the exception of Acadia. The current government has applied a 1 per cent annual increase over the past five years.

We made it clear to the Minister and Deputy that all of the province’s universities have been under severe financial pressure in recent years. As with Acadia and Cape Breton, all institutions (including Saint Mary’s) have undertaken aggressive and difficult cost management programs, affecting operating and service standards, academic programs, and personnel.

We believe last week’s meeting heightened awareness of the ongoing financial challenges facing universities and the need for the Nova Scotia Government to increase its investment in our sector. This enhanced investment will be necessary if our universities are to maximize the contributions we make to the economy, society and culture of the province through our high quality education, research and community engagement.

Building on last week’s meeting, I will continue to speak to the Minister, Deputy Minister and the Government at every opportunity about the importance of Saint Mary’s University and our unique contribution to this province, making the case for increased investment in the funding of our university.

5. Donkin Mine

Mary Campbell compares the CBC’s coverage of Donkin Mine safety violations with coverage in the Cape Breton Post, using screenshots of their respective stories to illustrate. First, the CBC article:

Then the Cape Breton Post article:

Comments Campbell:

Granted, the CBC was working from documents released as a result of an access to information request (documents it could have made public, but didn’t, and which will not be available on the NS FOIPOP portal for another week or so). But the Post had access to the CBC story, and could have broken with its usual tradition of refusing to acknowledge the existence of the CBC and quoted that story extensively, had it so chosen.

Instead, where the CBC explained how many inspections had been carried out over what period of time and detailed the various violations and compliance orders, the Post summarized them briefly after opening with the assurance most were “non-imminent danger” violations.

Where the CBC spoke to Gary Taje, international staff representative of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), who expressed concern about the safety of the Donkin miners and reminded readers that it is a non-unionized mine where miners would be unlikely to complain about working conditions for fear of losing their jobs, the Post spoke to Campbell and Scott Nauss, senior director of inspection and compliance with the Nova Scotia Labour Department’s occupational health and safety division, who said comforting things like:

I would expect a large operation like this, operating in a heavily regulated environment, there will be some non-imminent danger violations along the way and that’s for the most part what we are seeing.

The company appears to be very committed to safety from what we see. We point out violations and they address them quickly.

Click here to read “CB Post Downplays Donkin Safety Issues.”

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
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6. Shelburne School for boys

Cesar Lalo. Photo: Facebook

In the past two weeks, two men have filed suit against the province for what they say was the sexual abuse they suffered at the Shelburne School for Boys during the period that Cesar Lalo was working as a probation officer at the school. He was convicted of sexually assaulting 29 boys from 1973 to 1989, but the number of victims is much higher. Lalo was sentenced to nine years in prison. He was released from prison in 2009, but was returned to prison a couple of times for violating his parole conditions. He is now out again on parole and lives in Ontario.

Two of Lalo’s victims have won court judgments, while 30 others have settled out of court. There are many more men who say they were victims. The men who have recently filed suit come from different parts of the province, have different lawyers, and appear not to know about each other. I’m aware of a third man who also has taken legal action against the province, saying he too was abused at the school.

That third case is the subject of a fascinating court ruling that is part of the public record, but I’m not going to name someone who says he is a victim of a sexual assault and I can’t really discuss the case in detail without identifying him. The short of it is that the man has a well-deserved reputation for lying to the court on entirely unrelated matters, but his account of being sexually abused at Shelburne is in my opinion credible (I’ve discussed it with him), and that abuse might go a long way to explaining his subsequent broken life. The court ruling, which involves procedural issues far too complex to get into here, cites court decisions going back to the 13th century — I’ve never before read anything remotely like it — and ultimately finds that the man has no standing before the court. It’s under appeal.

7. Highway death

A police release from yesterday:

At 7:12 a.m. police were called to a motor vehicle crash on Highway 102 between Lacewood Drive and Kearney Lake Road after a tractor-trailer, travelling outbound, left the road and entered the ditch. The 57-year-old male driver, the lone occupant of the vehicle, was unconscious upon police arrival. He was transported by EHS to hospital where he later died.

8. Charges in double homicide

This morning, the RCMP issued the following release:

The Homicide Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division has laid charges in relation to the 2012 homicides of Matthew Hebb and Earle Stewart.

On December 12, 2012, emergency personnel responded to a 911 call near the 450 block of Highway 374 after witnesses observed a fire at a camp near Sheet Harbour. Upon further investigation, fire officials found the bodies of two men, 22-year-old Matthew Allan Hebb and 59-year-old Earle Clayton Stewart, both from Spryfield. Both deaths were confirmed to be homicides.

The Integrated Homicide Unit arrested two people on December 18, 2012 in relation to the homicides. They were arrested again in March 2017. Those individuals were later released without charges however on August 9 they were both arrested at a Halifax residence without incident.

Sixty-five year-old Elmer Percy Higgins and 49-year-old Karen Marie Higgins are charged with Second Degree Murder and related firearms offenses.

“Today’s charges represent over four years of tireless investigative work,” says Insp. Trudy Bangloy, Officer in Charge of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division. “Our investigators persevered and in the end, it is our hope that we find answers for the Hebb and Stewart families.”

Both are scheduled to appear at Dartmouth Provincial Court later today.


No public meetings.

On campus



Thesis defence, Pharmacology (Thursday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Amina Mustafa Bagher will defend her thesis, “Allosteric Interactions Within Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (Cb1) And Dopamine Receptor 2 Long (D2L) Heteromers.”

Thesis defence, Biology (Thursday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Benjamin James Smith will defend his thesis, “Contribution of NAv Channels to the Development and Function of the Retina.”


Thesis defence, Pharmacology (Friday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Mohammad Omar Ayaz will defend his thesis, “The Impact of Long Term Testosterone Withdrawal on Cardiac Excitation-Contraction Coupling in the Mouse.”

Thesis defence, Physiology and Biophysics (Friday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Corey Smith will defend his thesis, “Labelling and Longitudinal In Vivo Imaging of Retinal Ganglion Cells.”

In the harbour

4:15am: ZIM Djibouti, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica

Queen Mary 2. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Queen Mary 2. Photo: Halifax Examiner

6am: Queen Mary 2, cruise ship, with up to 2,620 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Southampton, England

Maasdam. Photo: Halifax Examiner

7am: Maasdam, cruise ship with up to 1,510 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney
8:40: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship with up to 3,000 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint John
11:30am: Malleco, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai

Oceanex Sanderling. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Oceanex Sanderling. Photo: Halifax Examiner

11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
1pm: NS Point, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Come By Chance, Newfoundland
3:30pm: Maasdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
4:30pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport back to Pier 41
6pm: Queen Mary 2, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
7pm: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for New York


We’re recording Examineradio today.

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

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  1. Thank you for stats on the car/pedestrian run-ins and those geese were pedestrians. I think this problem should be kept near the front page as it’s not going away. I seem to have widened the odds (lessened? I don’t know gambling) for my chances of getting hit by being extra-extra careful. Everyday I see the cell phones in laps or brazenly being held up blocking road vision. I’m sure the person who hit the geese is feeling remorse. But, how do you miss a gaggle of geese?!!

    1. I nearly hit a family of Canada geese stymied by the meridian near exit two on the 103 inbound a couple years ago. It felt weird calling 911 as an FYI for a literal wild goose chase.

  2. Today’s unions are more trouble than they are worth and with a few changes to Canadian labour laws, they would be redundant and no longer necessary. Consider this process to replace unions:

    – 7 months before a new contract is due, management and an employee based negotiating team begin meeting.
    – If in 2 months a consensus for a new contact is not reached, an arbitrator is brought in to sit in on the next month’s negotiations as an observer only.
    – If again no consensus for a new contract is not reached, the arbitrator is given one month to try to achieve a consensus.
    – If arbitration fails, then the arbitrator is given 1 month to develop and provide what he/she feels is a reasonable settlement and presents it to them for ratification.
    – If management and/or the employees are not satisfied with the arbitrator’s recommendations, then one month is used by an Canadian labour relations court to determine a binding contractual agreement.
    – new contracts must last for at least 3 years, perhaps more.
    – No strikes or lockouts are allowed.
    – Minor tweaking of the proposed new contract development process would likely make it work better; but no unions would be required to arrive at a new contract; no loss of employment wages for workers and no loss of productivity for the employer.

    Unions are disruptive and bigoted in their operational practices and quite simply not good for our economy or the mental health state within a given work place environment.

    Before anyone says unions are not bigoted, check the dictionary and relate that to calling strikebreakers: “scabs”. Derogatory name calling is a common practice for bigots.

    Does anyone actually believe that only a unionized worker can do a good job, no matter what the task is?

    Has our society not evolved enough to seek solutions that work efficiently without resorting to name calling and mud slinging? I guess not, by the look of things… more’s the pity, IMO.

    1. We have just witnessed a prolonged lockout orchestrated by an “innovator” type where he was willing to outsource the writing and editing of his (wife’s) newspaper to a bunch of people who often couldn’t edit or write and this is your takeaway? That unions are the problem?

      And this isn’t an isolated incident. Just a few years ago, the NFL locked out their referees and replaced them with people with any experience they could find. They talked about how unions were the problem and how they got paid so much and and… this was the result:

      Quarterly profits and the drive for ever increasing revenue even at the cost of not being able to perform core business functions are the big issue.

      1. Obviously you missed the point of my posted statement. If new contracts were handled the way I just suggested; this would never have happened… it would not even have been big news. Yes unions and today’s labour laws are the problem and if nothing changes, protracted and antagonistic negotiations will continue to occur. But that is what unionists want, they are not looking for a solution that does not have the option to strike… pathetic.

        1. We’ve seen how well this has (not) worked in Nova Scotia with a majority Liberal government. The right to deny labour is one of the few powers that workers have to defend their right to a fair return, in a safe and healthy workplace. If you like a 5 day work week and paid vacations…

          1. And yet many of them still end up in arbitration; but only after a toxic journey through the existing collective bargaining process… why not build in an automatic arbitration phase; why allow strikes and lockouts to occur just because egos at the table will not work collectively to achieve a consensus?

        2. In a world without the likes Mark Levers then unions wouldn’t be necessary.

          The fact that “innovators” like him exist is a reason why unions should remain vibrant and very much vital. Someone needs to push back against such captains of industry who have no idea what a social contract is, much less a labour one.

  3. The university funding thing is interesting – it’s similar to what happens with school boards.

    School Boards in Nova Scotia are funded using a formula. The formula that was first proposed in 2004 by Bill Hogg was partially implemented starting in 2005 an then a modified version (Hogg2) was implemented starting in 2011. Because fully implementing the formula would make it difficult to impossible for smaller boards with decreasing school populations to balance their budgets, they added in a fudge factor – after the formula is applied, money is taken from boards with larger populations and lower population rate decreases and distributed to the smaller, shrinking boards. HRSB gets the brunt of the cut – they have had had roughly $10M a year taken from their budgets since at least 2011. It was supposed to be phased out over 3 years, then it was going to be when the province has a balanced budget but it has only marginally decreased (by around 20%?) so far.

    $8-11 million is only a small percentage of the HRSB’s total budget, but it’s a huge dent in the amount of marginal spending that is not pre-determined by provincial mandates (for example, class caps and staffing ratios, busing requirements) or provincially negotiated contracts..

  4. The better angels of our nature hope the best for the Local Xpress folks. I cannot wish the same for asshole Mark Lever whose fevered dream of media dominance is fueled by his wife’s inheritance and generations of goodwill of Nova Scotians who grew up with the paper of record.

    I don’t read that piece of shit but for the sake of the returning journalists I might in future, clenching my teeth as I try to forget the “innovator” and “job creator” at the helm.

  5. Man, the witch hunting on The Coast about the guy who hit the geese. They’re crying fowl, saying the turkey behind the wheel goosed the throttle too much and plovered right into the poor animals.

  6. Re: University bailouts

    There is a massive elephant in the room with respect to university funding in NS. There is too much administrative overhead and too many degree granting institutions.
    Dalhousie has about 16,000 undergrads and about 4,500 staff and faculty. Is that ratio really sustainable? Maybe instead of bailouts to reward inefficiencies the Province should say “ok folks. We will support 1 university. You guys figure out who”.

    1. It’s a huge problem. Add in the fact that most of those degrees being granted by the universities will not increase the employment prospects of most of the holders (actually it will lower it due to the opportunity cost). So you have this system where money (it’s worse in the US) is being effectively printed via student loans, a lot goes to the administrators, and the rest goes into the endowment, which is used by Wall Street types to make even more money.

      It’s also amazing how universities preach social justice etc when in reality they are knowingly putting people in a lifetime’s worth of debt in exchange for increasingly worthless degrees, and getting rich doing it. I don’t have too much respect for those institutions.

      We need to allow people to use bankruptcy to get out of student loans if they cannot pay them. We also need to take a serious look at immigration – roughly 1 million people come to Canada every year for either permanent residency or long-term work visas. It’s the highest rate in the world, and it only benefits the very rich, and I suppose, the immigrants, but it’s theft from the rest of us and has to stop. Totally. We can still do humanitarian refugee programs.

      1. I don’t see how the university funding issue has anything to do with immigration… Acadia’s bailout and universities not being amalgamated is the immigrants’ fault? And I surely don’t see what I stole from you.

        1. A little unrelated, but generally related to how the top 5-10% benefit from the dispossession of the middle 25-90%.

      2. Immigration benefits us all. Without immigrants, Canada (and NS in particular) would have negative population growth, which would have huge socioeconomic consequences.

        1. I thought we were overpopulated and people in Western countries should consider having less kids to lower our carbon footprint.

  7. Some perspective on the death of the geese (and I’m surprised this was not noted, given past coverage of pedestrian issues):

    “During the month of June, there were 20 vehicle/pedestrian collisions in Halifax. Month over month, this represents twice as many incidents as reported in May 2017. Year over year, this represents an increase of 7 from the 13 incidents reported in June 2016.

    “For January 1- June 30, 2017, there have been 104 reported incidents of vehicle/pedestrian collisions, involving 106 pedestrian victims. Of the incidents, 68 per cent (71 incidents) occurred in crosswalks.