Last day of the subscription drive

You’ve heard it all before, so I won’t repeat myself beyond asking you to please subscribe. It’s appreciated.


1. Lyle Howe

Lyle Howe

Lyle Howe has asked the Supreme Court to overturn his disbarment by the Barristers Society.

In a statement filed with the court, Howe alleges charges the Barristers Society with “failing to identifying (sic) the conflicts of interest identified with the investigation that were evident from the evidence presented at the hearing, and failing to identify the bias held by the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and the investigators and complainants…”

In his application, Howe says Elizabeth Buckle, a Bar Society investigator who is now a judge, and Victoria Rees, the Director of Professional Responsibility at the Bar Society, each had a conflict of interest. And Larry Evans, the pre-hearing coordinator, “failed to act within the spirit of the Visions and Values of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society when the hearing panel was selected” because Evans failed to place a black person on the panel.

Howe also charges that panel member Ronald MacDonald had a conflict of interest because he had previously been a crown prosecutor, and panel member Don Murray had a “pecuniary interest” that led to a conflict of interest.

2. Bluefrog

The True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust announced Tuesday evening that it is purchasing the Bluefrog Business Campus in Burnside from East Port Properties for $53 million. The sale is expected to close on December 19.

Bluefrog consists of 297,850 square feet of office space spread over four buildings at 120, 130, 134, and 140 Eileen Stubbs Avenue. The property also contains 5.7 acres of additional developable land.

When Colliers International listed the property in September, it noted that the campus was 88 per cent leased to such tenants as ADP, Concentrix, Collins Barrow, and Konica Minolta.

Interestingly, the sales pitch noted that “the average in-place gross rent is $24.42 PSF compared to the average asking gross rent for competing properties of $31.20 PSF. This $6.78 PSF advantage allows investors to grow rents over time while remaining competitive and retaining tenants.”

The largest unleased space in the complex, continued Colliers, was 32,618 square feet at 130 Eileen Stubbs. “This provides the new owner with the opportunity to add value through an aggressive repositioning and leasing strategy.”

Evidently, large real estate firms are bullish on suburban office complexes and are not at all worried about the glut of Class A office space downtown. The biggest potential competitor for Bluefrog is the Nova Centre, but I doubt the people at True North are sweating it.

This single sale will bring $795,000 into city coffers via the deed transfer tax.

3. Cruise industry

“It’s a conundrum that’s puzzled me since I first began looking into the cruise industry in Atlantic Canada: why do we rely solely on numbers from the cruise lines for our economic impact calculations?” writes Mary Campbell. (See also: convention centre industry.)

Having read the work of cruise-skeptic Ross Klein, a professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland, I knew that those numbers — how many passengers and crew members disembark in any given port and how much they spend while ashore — were dubious. I knew from speaking to officials at the Port of Sydney that all our calculations for the value of the industry to our local economy are based on these cruise line numbers because they’re “the only numbers we have.” I knew that the consultants who did the due diligence on the second berth for Sydney also relied on industry numbers (and they still had a job making the second berth seem economically viable).

No one, it seemed, worried that we were making local spending decisions — involving millions of dollars that could be spent on other infrastructure — based on “industry standard” figures. Why wasn’t somebody trying to find some other numbers?

Turns out, somebody was. That somebody was Acadia University prof Burc Kayahan, who was the subject of a CBC Newfoundland article detailing his research.

Campbell has much to say about all this, but I don’t have time to get into it this morning. You can read it yourself, here.

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4. Rents

“In 2017 Nova Scotia apartments are harder to find and becoming less affordable, numbers published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) suggest,” reports Robert Devet:

Compared to 2016 provincial vacancy rates for rental units decreased this year from 3% to 2.6%, while average rents increased from $947 to $982, up by 2.2%.

In urban Halifax average rents increased from $987 in 2016 to $1027 in 2017, while the vacancy rate fell from 2.6% to 2.3%. The vacancy rate in Halifax hasn’t been this low since 2003.

As we wrote earlier this month, the 2016 Stat Canada census found that 53,000 Nova Scotians spend more on rent than they can afford. That constitutes 43 percent of all Nova Scotians who rent.

I don’t know many people who have seen their paycheques increase by two per cent over the last year.

5. Racism and the Explosion

“Everyone needed help. But even in that there was racism,” reports Sherri Borden Colley for the CBC:

“The person who was in charge of the reparations basically sent out a memo indicating to staff that blacks … who were applying for relief, their claims should be automatically be reduced 20 per cent — or ignored — and so this was a policy,” [playwright David] Woods says.

6. Commuting

“New census data shows the number of Haligonians driving to work is increasing as the number taking the bus or cycling is stagnant, and that’s no surprise to advocates in the municipality,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:

Statistics Canada released its 2016 census data on commuting habits across the country on Wednesday.

Over the last 10 years, the percentage of commuters cycling to work in HRM has stayed at just one per cent.

The number of people getting to work in a car, truck or van went from 75.8 per cent to 77.7 per cent.


Chronicle Herald reporter Francis Campbell this morning has an article about John LeBlanc and his Canadian Financial Wellness Group Inc. suing a firm called D+H Ltd in the Ontario courts for alleged theft of intellectual property.

I have no idea if the lawsuit has merit or not, but LeBlanc sure likes to file lawsuits. As I reported in July:

The Canadian Financial Wellness Group and its president John LeBlanc have asked the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to order Google to produce the IP addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers for commenters on a blog post that criticized LeBlanc.

The original post was posted on a Blogger blog titled “john leblanc cfw group.” That post has since been taken down, but it is archived on the Internet Archive and reprinted in full on the application to the court.

“The Applicants suspect that a former client of CFWG named Jansen White is the administrator of the Blog but cannot be sure,” wrote LeBlanc’s lawyer Richard Norman in the application.

LeBlanc has separately filed a defamation suit against Kimberley Mundie, who Norman writes “has engaged in a campaign of defamatory comments on a separate blog” and who is “apparently a commentator on [White’s] Blog too.” I suspect Mundie is being sued for this post.

“John leblanc is a con artist,” reads the original post on the “john leblanc cfw group” blog, which claims that LeBlanc was hired for $750 to help the poster renegotiate a student loan debt, but that LeBlanc took no action.

Over 100 comments were made on the post, and LeBlanc wants the identities of 12 of the commenters.

Last week, LeBlanc filed another application with the court, demanding yet more IP addresses that he says are connected to Kimberley Mundie.

It strikes me as a strange business decision to try to squelch criticism by filing a suit, which will inevitably lead to that criticism getting amplification and wider dissemination when the suit is reported on news sites.

8. Spaceport Camden

It’s a picture of a rocket, so we know it must be true.

A reader points me to a Verge article by Loren Grush relating a bunch of nonsensical hype about a project to turn an abandoned manufacturing site in Camden, Georgia into a spaceport.

Spaceport Camden has the advantage over competing spaceport sites because, writes Grush:

Along with its prime location on the coast, Spaceport Camden is pretty far south in the US, putting it relatively close to the equator. That makes it easier for companies that want to launch rockets into orbit from the US. The equator is the widest section of the planet, as well as the fastest spinning part of the Earth’s surface. That means launching closer to the equator actually gives rockets an extra boost of speed that helps them achieve orbit more easily.

That’s sort of right, sort of… but anyway, I found this part hilarious:

For a while, the Spaceport Camden initiative was just a promising idea, but now the state of Georgia has shown it’s serious about the project. In May, Georgia governor Nathan Deal signed a bill called HB 1, or the Georgia Spaceflight Act. The bill helps to limit the liability of spaceflight companies that launch people into space from the state. HB 1 was a signal to the industry that Georgia welcomes commercial space.

Want to knock off your boss without legal consequences? Just buy him a ticket on a Georgia-launched spaceship.

The Camden Spaceport fantasy is based on luring privatized NASA launches of people because the private sector doesn’t need to bother with the expense of, well, safety, while our own Canso Spaceport fantasy involves luring wannabe satellite launchers with our low-value looney and cheap Ukrainian rockets — that is, when the Ukrainians aren’t busy helping the North Koreans build their rockets. So I guess they’re two different things. Still, were I a betting man, I’d give Camden better odds than Canso.

9. Golf

Someone should tell CBC that its new website looks like crap in Safari, as the white background is all blue, like this:

But I guess we’re all going to get rich by catering to rich golfers:

I left that in blue to show just how annoying it is. It looks fine in Firefox and Chrome… but you would think with all that high powered tech they’ve got over at the Ceeb — have you seen the 3-D Explosion app?! — they would’ve thought to have an intern or Bob Murphy or someone check and see if the website works in Safari.

Anyway, once all the old rich geezers die off, there won’t be anyone left who plays golf, but we’ll have all these abandoned golf courses all over the place.




No, those trees do not exist.

Public Information Meeting – Case 20573 (Thursday, 7pm, Cole Harbour Place) — W M Fares wants to build a seven-storey apartment building behind the Portland Hills Transit Terminal, and to have access to the building’s parking lot through the terminal’s park and ride lot.


No public meetings.


No public meetings.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Chemistry (Thursday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Colin Kelly will defend his thesis, “Synthesis and Study of New Late Metal Complexes Featuring N-Phosphinoamidinate Ligands​.”

Thesis Defence, Earth Sciences (Thursday, 3:30pm, Room 2055, Life Sciences Centre) — Masters student Rachel Milligan will defend her thesis, “Features of Apatite in Kimberlites from Ekati Diamond Mine and Snap Lake: Modelling Kimberlite Composition.”

Federal-Provincial Taxation for Canada’s Next 50 Years (Thursday, 3:30pm, The Great Hall, University Club) — Kevin Milligan from the University of British Columbia will speak.

Canada and the UN (Thursday, 4pm, Atrium, the Ocean Sciences Building named after a car dealership that tears down neighbourhoods) — Alice Aiken will speak with Marc-André Blanchard, Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

ESS Graduate Showcase: Youth Leading Change (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Jack Bennett, social activist and Artistic Director of the Phoenix Community Choir, hosts sustainability graduates and “changemakers” and leads everyone in song. I remember a changemaker in the basement cafeteria at the hospital when I was a kid. (I went to the hospital a lot.) He was an old blind man with an infectious laugh; he loved children and patiently explained to four-year-old me how he could make change even though he couldn’t see the bills he was handed. (In short: no one would rip off a nice old blind man in the basement of the hospital.) I don’t know if he can sing or not, or even if he’s alive — he’d be 120 or something — but I sure hope he shows up.


Composition Recital (Friday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Jérome Blais will perform.

The Use of Research in Veterans’ Health Policy-making (Friday, 12:10pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Alice Aiken will speak.

Quantum Chemistry for Condensed-phase Spectroscopy (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Timothy Berkelbach from the University of Chicago will speak.

BK Chan. Photo:

Rejection Resilience: Conversations About healthy Relationships We’re (Not) Yet Having (Friday, 2pm, Room 268, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Karen BK Chan will speak.

The Futures of Migration (Friday, 2:30pm, Room 1116, Marion McCain Building) — Thomas Faist from Bielefeld University, Germany, will speak on “The futures of Immigration: A New Normalcy?”

Laboratory Techniques (Friday, 3pm, Link Hallway Area, Charles Tupper Medical Building) — students of BIOC 3610 will wow attendees.

Russian Revolution of 1917 (Friday, 3:35pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Natalia Koutovenko, Norman Pereira, and Betty Haigh will speak.

YouTube video

Russian Ark (Thursday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Alexander Sokurov’s 2002 film. A bravura single-shot tour of the great Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russian Ark examines the art, culture, and history of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union through the glass of the Tsarist Empire which preceded it.

Partners in Swing (Thursday, 7:30pm, St. Andrew’s United Church, 6036 Coburg Road) — Nathan Beeler and Chris Mitchell direct The Dal Jazz Ensemble and the Halifax All-City Senior Jazz Ensemble in a variety of swinging standards. Tickets — $10 and $15  — available at the Dalhousie Arts Centre Box Office and at the door.

Saint Mary’s


Thesis Defence, Applied Science (Thursday, 12:30pm, Atrium 101) — Masters student John McKinlay will defend his thesis, “Adding a Numerical Description to Civil Standard of Proof Jury Instructions: Probabilistic Evidence Still Defies Correct Liability Assignment.”

Thesis Defence, Applied Science (Thursday, 2pm, Room 265 in the building named after a grocery store) — Masters student Isabel Chavez will defend her thesis, “Early Cretaceous Sand Supply to Offshore SW Nova Scotia: Tectonic Diversion of Sable Rivers During Naskapi Member Deposition.”

Museum of Natural History


Thursday is the first of three nights of screenings of films by Neal Livingston, with a Q&A to follow. Each night is sponsored by, and a fundraiser for, the Margaree Environmental Association.

Herbicide Trials (Thursday, 8pm, Auditorium, Museum of Natural History) — Livingston’s 1984 NFB film that the forestry industry tried to ban, Herbicide Trials.

Followed by:

YouTube video

John Dunsworth – The Candidate — Livingston’s 1989 film in which the late John Dunsworth runs for election in 1988 for the Nova Scotia NDP.


The second of three nights of screenings of Neal Livingston’s films.

YouTube video

Rudy Haase (Friday, 8pm, Auditorium, Museum of Natural History) Neal Livingston’s 2007 film about one of Canada’s great environmentalists.

Followed by:

John Dunsworth – The Candidate – Neal Livingston’s 1989 film in which the late John Dunsworth runs for election in 1988 for the Nova Scotia NDP.

In the harbour

430am: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
5:45am: YM Moderation, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
6:45am: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Dumaguete, Philippines
7am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
8am: Beothuk Spirit, oil tanker, arrives at Pier 9 from Gohyeon, Korea


We’re recording Examineradio today.

I had no copyeditor today. Please be kind.

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

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  1. RE: Average apartment rent increases:
    How much of the increase is due to (expensive) new construction — of which there is a LOT — coming on the market, rather than an increase in the rents for existing properties?

  2. I had hoped Metro Transit might have seen the major bus terminals nearest HRM as transfer gateways for drivers to park their cars and take the bus into town. It’s disappointing then that the Dartmouth Bridge terminal discourages that by ticketing those who don’t pay their imposed monthly parking rates. These aren’t charged at the Fall River, Lower Sackville or Woodside. Why at arguably the most important bus terminal?

    1. There should be a substantial increase in Park and Ride facilities… and if monthly parking rates are imposed, they should be married into bus pass subscriptions, if at all. If HRM is serious about offering alternatives to driving in the whole way, then HRM has to start getting creative when offering alternatives, and the alternatives has to make sense to the commuter. A Park and Ride that was geared towards driving in to park and then jumping on their bicycle to finish the trip to work, has potential… the bike should be able to be securely parked at both ends of the route. All this costs money and HRM Council hates to spend money unless they feel HRM is getting a good deal… by one has to convince the commuter they are getting a good deal for any solutions liker this to have any chance to be successful.

  3. The numbers of commuters using personal vehicles is not at all surprising and it will likely not change by much until HRM implements an economic and reliable public transportation solution that is both faster that personal vehicles and available 24/7. I do not think anyone believes such a solution will be forthcoming any time in the near future… if ever.

    Convenience appears to trump cost when commuters are making their mode of travel decisions. There will always be the select minority who will use their bicycles; but they will stay in the realm of the minority since the economic benefit bicycles afford does not trump comfort and a timely commute for most people. Walking to work only works for those few who live close enough to their place of employment.

    And any who do not think lifestyle plays a big part in a commuter’s decision making process are drinking very special tea indeed. Try putting your skis or a kayak on your bicycle.. just one of many possible examples.

    21% of HRM residents live in a rural location (43% province wide) according to the 2011 census… sustainable public transportation solutions that would meet the needs for this sector will never occur, at least not on a broad scale.

  4. Over the 10 years I ran the Cape Breton Island Film Series, we showed more than 300 indie movies. The consensus is that Russian Ark was the worst. People still tease me about how awful it was.

    1. That’s funny. I enjoyed it when I saw it at the Oxford (or at least I told myself afterward that I enjoyed it). I knew beforehand it was done in a single shot, so I must have concentrated on that aspect and been wowed at how smoothly everything went, despite the camera moving room to room to room and and there being so much choreographed movement in the background. That said, others in the theatre were clearly struggling to stay awake.

  5. Also, Tim, apparently the Convention Centre is expecting 75,000 delegates the first year, but something like 15,000 are the Bluenose Marathon runners picking up their bibs (previously done in the old convention centre) and another big chunk are a bridal show, which I imagine is mostly locals and would have previously been held in the Cunard Centre.

  6. Rich people get tax assessment breaks – the detailed analysis, but without the names of the property owners.

    I did my own review over several months in late 2016 but it was not as extensive. The Turner Drake review should force the province to set in motion the abandonment of the assessment cap. My review included the names of the owners, the amount of taxes saved each year for 6 years, and the number of properties owned by an individual or family. I believe the cap should be immediately removed on all properties assessed at over $1,000,000 and the number of capped properties owned by a family should be reduced to 2.
    Metro newspaper has a column by Tristan Cleveland :

  7. One big thing that Blue Frog has over the Nova (“No Go”) Center, is the parking. A big decision for businesses is what to do about staff parking on the peninsula, when it’s over $150/month for one car.

    An easier decision is to just move to Burnside, or Bayers Lake, or another area with big, free parking lots included.

    1. The Nova Centre includes a ton of underground parking. Any idea what the arrangement will be for those spaces? Is it intended for conference-goers and the hotel, or will businesses be able to access it too? If so, will they pay, or is it wrapped into their lease?