1. El Jones

El Jones. Photo: Halifax Examiner

On Saturday, The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission awarded Examiner contributor El Jones the Dr. Allan Burnley “Rocky” Jones Individual Award for her prisoner advocacy work.

The full list of recipients is:

Youth Award
• Samuel Gregan, Halifax, Grade 9 student at Gorsebrook Junior High, honuored for his work as an LGBTQ advocate

Dr. Allan Burnley “Rocky” Jones Individual Award
• David Leitch, Halifax, recognized for his work improving access to education for people with disabilities
• former Halifax Poet Laureate El Jones and Raymond Tynes, Truro, for their commitment to advancing human rights, equity and inclusion

Organization Award
• Alexa McDonough Institute, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, for its annual Girls’ Conference for girls and young women to learn in a safe space about human rights and social justice issues
• Immigrant Settlement Association of Nova Scotia, Halifax, in recognition of its work and the work of all Nova Scotians who assisted in the settlement of more than 1,100 Syrian

I attended the ceremony and was especially moved by the poem Jones recited. You can read the full text here. (I should start recording these readings.)

Congratulations to Jones!

2. Weather

They say there’s going to be weather today. The CBC is on it.

3. Examineradio, episode #91

Graham Steele

Last week saw a meltdown at Province House, with Education Minister Karen Casey locking Nova Scotia students out of their own classrooms while insisting that teachers had to show up to teach, er, no one.

Joining us to try to make sense of events is former cabinet minister and current CBC pundit Graham Steele.

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(direct download)
(RSS feed)
(Subscribe via iTunes)

My interview with Steele has gotten a lot of positive feedback, and a lot of shares on social media. I’ve received much email about it as well. Have a listen.

4. Panama Papers — local connections?

“After a year-long investigation into 11.5 million leaked tax haven documents, the Panama Papers were finally made public last April — and they landed like a bomb,” reports Torstar, which is mostly (rightly) plugging its own reporting on the Panama Papers.

But actually, contrary to the article, the Panama Papers themselves were not made public — knowledge of them and some of their contents were made public, but the consortium of news agencies (including Torstar) that reported on them have not made the source documents public.

However, a few people have sent me the link to the Panama Papers database, which catalogs the companies named in the papers, and have suggested to me that both Clearwater and Irving are linked to the Panama Papers. Well, it’s true that companies named “Clearwater” and “Irving” — actually, many companies under both names — are in the database, but there’s no indication that these are the Maritime companies that go by those names. Clearwater appears to be a financial holding company based in the UK, while Irving is a United Arab Emirates holding company.

Which is to say, so far as I can tell, there is no Nova Scotia company mentioned in the Panama Papers.

5. Preparing for the end of the world

The International Nuclear Event Scale (wikipedia)

A police report from yesterday:

At approximately 2:05 p.m. on December 11th Halifax Regional Police responded to a residence in the 0-100 block of Robert Drive in Dartmouth to assist EHS paramedics with an unresponsive man who had ingested Fentanyl.   

The 24-year-old man was stabilized by EHS paramedics and transported to hospital and his condition is believed to be improving.  Due to the dangers that Fentanyl exposure poses, the residence was secured and HRP Forensic Identification Section members, properly protected and trained in Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear event response collected and stabilized the remaining Fentanyl found inside so that it can be properly disposed of. HRP was assisted by members of the HRFES Hazmat response team. 

Yes, we are facing a serious crisis around Fentanyl, and it’s nothing to make light of. But the cops have a team trained in “nuclear event response”?

I realize there are or at least can be radiation incidents far short of a nuclear explosion, and we probably have all sorts of stuff coming and going through the port that could spill, derail, or what have you. Still, labeling a potential radiation incident as a “nuclear event” might not be the best way to calm the public.

Besides that, the response to incident on Robert Drive reflects the “emergenciation” of every police call. Why simply have a cop place all the Fentanyl in an evidence bag when you can send the entire Hazmat team in suits and such? I note we’re also getting “up-fits” for the police hostage negotiation van because you never know, right? Of course the up-fits are super secret because the potential hostage-takers will first read the police department’s tender offer and learn of the potential response before deciding on their hostage-taking strategies, because hostage-takers are that devious.


1. Teachers: light at the end of the tunnel? What tunnel?

Sean Casey, 16, rallied with his fellow Citadel students on Friday, December 2, to support their teachers.

“In my role as a university professor,” writes Stephen Kimber, “I occasionally visit classrooms to talk with students. Those brief forays into the P-12 school system have given me some modest appreciation for the incredible work the best of our teachers do, and the increasingly difficult circumstances in which they do it.”

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

2. Films about Viola Desmond

YouTube video

Ron Foley MacDonald discusses two films about Viola Desmond:

[Iain] MacLeod’s film was a drama shot in black and white back in 1996, whereas [Brian] Murray’s film is a documentary made in 2012 for his employer, Communications Nova Scotia, to commemorate Canada Post issuing a stamp in Desmond’s honour. Both films run about 45 minutes.


Iain MacLeod took an oblique approach, never showing the actual incident itself but rather letting the word “spread around the town.” In November 1946, he deftly used Desmond’s narrative to set up the tension in order to portray an inter-racial romance. The film was an ambitious costume drama that played to a packed house at the 1996 Atlantic Film Festival. Its unusual length and rough language made further distribution a challenge, and sadly it is mostly unseen today. I remember it vividly, however, as it marked MacLeod as a filmmaker of vision and substance.

For Brian Murray and his film, Long Road To Justice, the story of Viola Desmond was one that needed to be simply and directly retold using modern-day documentary techniques. Because there is little to no footage of Desmond herself, Murray used a blend of dramatic re-creations, punctuated by expert ‘talking head’ testimony and period stock footage. Aside from a quick flash of the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, which opened in 1955, nine years after Viola Desmond’s arrest in 1946, the footage is effective in establishing the “look” of Nova Scotia in the early post World War II years.

3. Province House

Graham Steele has started a blog, “A Citizens’ Guide to the Legislature,” where he explains how Province House works.

I went to Steele’s Facebook page this morning to double-check the placement of an apostrophe in “Citizens’ Guide,” only to find an argument over whether it should be the “Nova Scotia Teachers Union” or the “Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union.”

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

I look forward each Monday to the ‘Cheers and Jeers’ section of the editorial page, and in virtually every case I’m cheering and booing right along with you. 

But this morning I must take issue with your last jeer regarding changing the regulation of the AUS requiring the players to shake hands after a men’s hockey game.

As a former AUS varsity football, basketball, rugby player, head coach in Canadian college football, 11 years in the U.S. coaching men’s and women’s squash and 2014 P.E.I. coach of the year I feel very qualified to comment on athlete expectations relative to sportsmanship and their place in society. 

Athletes at every developmental level are expected to compete to the best of their abilities in order to win the contest, and no matter how heated the battle or how poorly they play they are again expected to demonstrate respect towards their opponents. 

It seems apparent that those who become professionals or compete internationally for their countries in their respective sport seem to have learned this difficult lesson.  In virtually every sport we witness, no matter how physical or contentious, players, once the game is over, demonstrate respect for their opponents by shaking hands. 

Why should AUS men’s hockey be any different? I contest that it is the coach and league’s responsibility to assist in teaching this principle.

John Power, Charlottetown



Police Commission (12:30pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Accessibility Committee  (4pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

North West Community Council (7pm, Bedford-Hammonds Plains Community Centre) — a handful of proposed developments in Hammonds Plains and Wentworth.


No public meetings.

On campus


ProSyWis (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Sascha Alda, from the University of Applied Sciences in Bonn, Germany, will speak on “Complex Event Processing in ProSyWis.” His abstract:

The goal of the research project ProSyWis is to support so-called knowledge workers in their daily business. Knowledge workers are assumed to work on dynamic cases, whose sequence of actions can hardly be foreseen in advance. In contrast to static business models, dynamic cases are continuously driven by exogenous business events (e.g. E-Mails, location-based events, workflow events) or social media events (e.g. Twitter or RSS feeds) as well as by context-based data, as for instance, from previously closed cases or additional case-based meta data (e.g. the liquidity of a client). The CEP engine ESPER has been adopted for gathering, correlating, and analyzing these events. Given the occurrence of an event, further subsequent actions can be invoked within the CEP engine, for instance, for executing cases or business processes in a workflow engine or for reporting events together with recommended actions in a user portal. Stochastic models like MEP (Markov Decisions Process! es) are used to predict optimal strategies for invoking those actions that achieve maximal benefit.

In this presentation, a brief introduction is given to the ProSyWis project. Besides, research results from various master and bachelor theses are presented that have aimed at integrating the CEP engine into the ProSyWis software architecture. A prototype will be presented demonstrating the capabilities of such an engine. Current and future research topics will be addressed in the end of the presentation.

Sounds complicated.

Thesis Defence, Mechanical Engineering (1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate S. Rasoul Asaee will defend his thesis, “Development and Analysis of Approaches and Strategies to Facilitate the Conversion of Canadian Houses into Net Zero Energy Buildings.”

Senate (3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — a report on the “elite” trip to MIT, and the Examiner’s very first “bullshittter of the day,” Matt Hebb, presents. I’ll be there to say hi.

In the harbour

5am: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England


Gift subscriptions to the Halifax Examiner are now available, and anyone who buys a $100 gift subscription will receive a free T-shirt — give it as a stocking stuffer or be the stylish one yourself. Well, probably not as stylish as everyone’s favourite bartender-turned-nurse, Lisa (above), but one can aspire, no?

To order a gift subscription, contact admin person extraordinaire Iris at iris “at”

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Friday December 9th had the Open House for development projects in the city (

    I’m finding that a lot of these news designs, if not all, want to have this ultra-futuristic look to them (re: Central Library). I find that it’s becoming a big turn-off. They all look the same! Angles, angles, and more angles. The older architecture of the city is dwindling away and being replaced by pre-fab or low grade architecture with no appeal. You can only dress up a large apartment building so much, but it’s still a box.

    Once we lose the old architecture I fear it will be gone forever because people won’t want to spend money on good, appealing, architecture. Our quest for the bottom continues.

    1. Sorry about that! It turns out it’s only available to her fb friends at this moment. Tim will publish it tomorrow.

  2. Tim, not every nuclear event has to be a bomb. Didn’t Dal have a low-yield reactor in the basement of one of the buildings up until a few years ago?

    1. Halifax is reasonably close as the crow flies to Point Lepreau – I had a summer job when I was in university working at BIO for the team that did environmental radiation monitoring related it. That was a long time ago – 1986 – and I remember we were doing some monioring related to Cherobyl too

  3. There were two Nova Scotia addresses in the Panama Papers, one was a “wealth manager” out in the valley.

    Barrister & Solicitor Evangeline Securities Limited P.O. Box 3059, 1051 King Street Windsor, Nova Scotia Canada, BON 2TO

    Searching this node I found it linked to a guy named Trevor I. Hughes, who took over the “wealth management” business from his dad.

    The business exists in Windsor and has a few other satellite offices around the country.

    The best “node graph” I found was here:

    And it includes a company called Ocean Company Limited which looks like a family trust type thing because it’s been around since the 1950s. You can see it on Nova Scotia Joint Stock Registry but you have to page over to it because that site’s search engine blows.

    Anyways, maybe it’s not a story. What the guy did was obviously legal (although he had at least one previous run-in with a regulator: )

    1. Er, the $10. Accidentally clicked “post”. And, for that matter, quite a few other Canadian women. There are many women who accomplished more for whatever cause than simply sitting in the wrong chair.

  4. Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin, and is no joke. Here’s how much of it is considered fatal:×576.jpg

    The police are smart to be hazmat-ing any site where even trace amount os Fentanyl are discovered.
    The CDC recommends..

    “First Responders should use a NIOSH-certified Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with a Level A protective suit when entering an area with an unknown contaminant or when entering an area where the concentration of the contaminant is unknown. Level A protection should be used until monitoring results confirm the contaminant and the concentration of the contaminant.”

    Level A protective suit includes:

    A NIOSH-certified CBRN full-face-piece SCBA operated in a pressure-demand mode or a pressure-demand supplied air hose respirator with an auxiliary escape bottle.
    A Totally-Encapsulating Chemical Protective (TECP) suit that provides protection against CBRN agents.
    Chemical-resistant gloves (outer).
    Chemical-resistant gloves (inner).
    Chemical-resistant boots with a steel toe and shank.
    Coveralls, long underwear, and a hard hat worn under the TECP suit are optional items.

  5. The up-fit tender is as detailed as any government tender I’ve ever seen. The sensitive equipment they already have. You need a nice table and 19″ rack to lay out your plaster tier tracks, foot print, dog smelling tracks, color 8×10 glossy ipads, stingrays, encrypted radios and other implements of dis^^^peace keeping.

    I’m kinda wondering why they have a 3 year old Mercedes candy van sitting around.

  6. Congratulations to El Jones on receiving the Rocky Jones Award. Her sterling example of intelligence and progressive activism should motivate us all to work towards a more compassionate society.

  7. Hi Tim. My mother really did listen to the Examineradio podcast and liked it. She lives in a different province, but she says it was a good explanation of what’s going on down here.

    She forgives you for that very, very bad word you used. I told her you’re a good boy.

    She is less forgiving about the bad word I used, even though it’s less bad than the very, very bad word you used. She says I was raised better than to use such a word.

    I told her that podcasts are meant to be informal and fun. She was not persuaded. She told me to use my words.