The Chrystal Serenity, in port today, has been given an "F" grade by Friends of the Earth. Photo: bBy bert76 07:28, 29 August 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Crystal Serenity, in port today, has been given an “F” grade by Friends of the Earth. Photo: bert76 via Wikimedia Commons


1. Lobsters

Due to warming waters, the lobster catch is exploding. But with changes to the temporary foreign workers program, processors don’t have enough workers to, er, process the catch. “Unless we can find some way through this, (lobster processing companies) have no other alternative but to reduce their capacity,” Jerry Amirault of the Lobster Processors Association told the Chronicle Herald. Hmmm. The Halifax Examiner Think Tank has this morning commissioned a study to “find some way” to find more workers. After extensive consultations with a single cup of coffee, the think tank has found a solution.

2. Turkeys

Gordon Fraser has been slaughtering turkeys in Millford for decades, without incident, but the turkey board wants to shut him down. The Chronicle Herald hasn’t yet been able to hear the board’s side of the story, but it certainly looks like a case of unthinking bureaucracy run amok. All that aside, good on reporter Francis Campbell for the money quote from Fraser: “I’m going to stick my neck out.”

3. Health care workers

The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, and Unifor have filed suit against the government, seeking the overturn of Bill 37, which outlawed strikes by health care workers, reports the CBC.

4. Charts

Gifford and Christine Watkins find a bunch of 19th century nautical maps in the floorboards of their Yarmouth house.


1. Industrial Cape Breton

Stephen Archibald, who last week showed us Open Hearth Park in Sydney, today takes us around the industrial areas of Cape Breton generally, comparing what he sees now to what he saw when he visited back “around 1970,” including a chip truck, excuse me, food truck, which is still operating. “This food truck incunabulum has been working in Glace Bay since 1946,” says Archibald. “And no surprise the chips were great.” Top photo is from 1970, bottom photo from last week:

Photos: Stephen Archibald
Photos: Stephen Archibald

Incidentally, Archibald makes a quick reference to the bootleggers of the 1970s: “this one for beer, that for rum, buddy if you wanted to sit and drink and quwherefellow if you had been banded everywhere else.” This subject fascinates me. Nova Scotia still has a bootlegger culture that I’ve not seen elsewhere. I have a buddy who is a regular visitor to the bootleggers in a certain rural area, and there are at least four bootleggers operating in the north end of Halifax. Somebody should write something about this.

2. Anti-fracking activists

Zack Metcalfe, of the Sierra Club, says sensible stuff about the anti-fracking movement.

3. Graham Steele and the failure of politics

I’ve written a review of Graham Steele’s book, What I Learned About Politics. The review is behind the Examiner’s pay wall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.



Well isn’t this embarrassing. You know that Audit and Finance Committee meeting I told you about yesterday? It’s actually scheduled for today, 10am at City Hall. I apologize if anyone showed up at the wrong time, and for my sins I will go and actually report on the meeting.


Public Accounts (9am, Province House)—On the agenda are the Workers Compensation Board and Safety Association funding.

On Campus


Poland (12:30pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building)—Marcin Bosacki, the Polish ambassador to Canada, will speak on the changes and challenges faced by Poland in the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Photo: Jason Box via Slate
Photo: Jason Box via Slate

The ice pack in Greenland this year is black. Reports Slate’s Eric Holthaus:

There are several potential explanations for what’s going on here. The most likely is that some combination of increasingly infrequent summer snowstorms, wind-blown dust, microbial activity, and forest fire soot led to this year’s exceptionally dark ice. A more ominous possibility is that what we’re seeing is the start of a cascading feedback loop tied to global warming. [Climate scientist Jason] Box mentions this summer’s mysterious Siberian holes and offshore methane bubbles as evidence that the Arctic can quickly change in unpredictable ways.

This year, Greenland’s ice sheet was the darkest Box (or anyone else) has ever measured. Box gives the stunning stats: “In 2014 the ice sheet is precisely 5.6 percent darker, producing an additional absorption of energy equivalent with roughly twice the US annual electricity consumption.”

Perhaps coincidentally, 2014 will also be the year with the highest number of forest fires ever measured in Arctic.

In the harbour

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)


APL Pearl, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove
Zim New York, container ship, New York to Pier 42
Crystal Serenity, cruise ship, Reykjavik to Pier 22
Apollon, oil/chemical tanker, Port Jerome, France to Imperial Oil
Boheme, vehicle carrier, Fawley, England to Autoport
Challenge Paradise, oil tanker, Saint Jean, Quebec to Anchor


Balmoral to sea
Crystal Serenity to sea
Zim New York to Kingston, Jamaica

Of Note

Since this is the high season for cruise ships calling in Halifax, we’ll take a periodic look at the record of some of the ships. The boats are very often floating environmental disaster scenes. Shouldn’t this concern us?

Today, the Crystal Serenity is in port. It has been awarded an “F” grade by Friends of the Earth, which comments:

Crystal Cruises is a subsidiary of a Japanese shipping company founded in 1998 with its headquarters in California. Crystal operates two cruise ships worldwide—the Crystal Serenity and the Crystal Symphony—which are designed to carry between 1,500 and 1,700 passengers and crew. Crystal ships were banned from entering the Port of Monterey, California for 15 years after one of its former ships, the Crystal Harmony, discharged untreated graywater, treated sewage and oily bilge into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2003. These discharges were made despite the company’s promise not to discharge any wastewater into the Bay.

Currently, neither of Crystal’s two cruise ships has installed an advanced sewage treatment system, resulting in a grade of F for the company’s 0 percent sewage treatment score. In determining the air pollution reduction grade for each cruise line, only ships that dock at a port that currently has shoreside power facilities (thereby avoiding burning dirty fuel in port) were considered. In total, none of Crystal’s ships that dock at a port with shoreside power are plug-in capable, giving the company an F in this category. While both Crystal ships traveled to Alaska from 2010 to 2012, it chose to discharge sewage from those ships outside of Alaskan waters, thereby avoiding Alaska’s strong water quality standards, giving it an ‘N/A’ for water quality compliance in Alaska.

The Balmoral, which left Halifax last night, is skipping a scheduled stop in Shelburne because the harbour pilot is on vacation.


The city has issued a tender offer this morning for a builder for the last piece of the crosstown connector bicycle route. This piece of the route connects Windsor Street to Quinpool road, next to the St. Pat’s High School site.

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

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  1. SeriouslyTim?

    I see your think tank has given a great deal of thought to the labour shortage in the fish processing sector. Interesting to see your think tank is philosophically aligned with Jason Kenney on this.

    So if I’m reading your brief position correctly, you contention is regardless of revenue, regardless of overhead and operational costs, regardless of taxes, fees and other regulatory requirements, businesses should simply raise wages to solve their labour problems.

    It’s difficult to understand then why small businesses were filing sheaves of paperwork, paying for labour market opinions, paying for accommodation, paying transportation costs, providing employees with ESL subsidies…and paying industry standard wages, because they forgot that simply paying higher wages would solve all their problems.

    Or maybe your contention is that all small business owners using TFWs are simply so greedy and malevolent they would prefer to keep Canadian workers in indentured servitude (or unemployed) while employing TFWs so they can directly subsidize the Philippine economy.

    The problem in the fish processing industry is NOT wages, it access to available labour. The labour pool is dying, moving or not interested. The average age of Canadians working in fish packing and lobster processing facilities is now in the 50’s.

    Not surprisingly, young people out of high school in Nova Scotia are not flocking to do line work at a fish plant in spite of it paying 16.00 to 18.50 an hour. More incidentally than Mr. Mulcair’s suggestion for a federal minimum wage. It’s for the same reason farmers have to hire fruit and vegetable harvesters from Mexico and Jamaica. The evidence shows us younger Canadians aren’t preparing for and don’t want to do the work. Our out-migration numbers show they would prefer to work in the oil patch…

    That being said, perhaps you know of a pool of workers prepared to put down their craft beer and jump on their bicycles to spend 5 months a year in Yarmouth County packing frozen lobster. If you can actually do the math and figure out how to access local workers and run a profitable fish processing facility with Canadian workers, please let the fish processors in on it. They would welcome your input..

    1. Jordi, small business people have legitimate labour issues. But it’s clear that the entire lobster industry, from the catch to the table, is broken. John Risley sits comfortably in his $3 million home, while the people who actually catch the lobster are at below-poverty wages. The catch is through the roof, which ought be frightening the hell out of us. Processors are stuck in the middle of this, but yes, low wages are a huge problem, I mean, obviously.

    2. Mr. Morgan; Nobody is suggesting that young people in Halifax are going to “put down their craft beer and jump on their bicycles” to pack lobsters. Your gratuitous shot at Halifax hipsters is unbecoming and juvenile. The fact is that the unemployment rate in the urban core of Halifax is not that high, but it is at an unacceptable level outside of Halifax. So finding creative ways of filling the jobs with local people, would be a much more useful exercise than just spouting the corporate line that foreign workers are a necessity. By the way, not all TFWs are from third world countries. There are a substantial number of people who travel from Newfoundland and Labrador to do agricultural work here in Nova Scotia.
      Tim, John Risley doesn’t just own 1 3 million dollar home. He is the registered owner of 6 properties in Nova Scotia and most of them are worth well over a million. There may be others registered under another name and god knows what properties he owns off shore.

  2. I was told that the police turn a blind eye to a certain well-known bootlegger in a small HRM community because there is no local NSLC. The thinking is that people who have been drinking might get in their car and drive into town to replenish their supply. A local provider reduces the risk on the roads.

    I don’t know if it is true or not, but it seems logical.

  3. Tim, I wrote a Weekend Magazine piece about moonshining in Cape Breton in 1974. Lots of good yarns, and in the end one moonshiner gave me a still, a second one showed me how to use it, and nine people lustily enjoyed the product. The piece was reprinted in my collection Sterling Silver (Breton Books) which I think is still available.

  4. For a long time I had the cruise ship thing on my list of sustainable city story ideas. But it was a big topic and I never did get the time to take it on. It seems worthy of an expose.

  5. Re:Turkeys:
    We need to establish a two tiered citification system for animal slaughter. I would expect different regulations for a less conscientious factory than a small owner operated site. As it stands, all regulations have to be geared towards the least qualified skill set. We as customers loose out on choice.

    1. More bureaucratic meddling. On Saturday at Alderney Market I signed a petition from a farmer who sells, among other things, eggs, asking that they be allowed to continue to sell those eggs as they have done for many years.

  6. Great work from the think tank.

    Cruise ship pollution is another example of private profits and public cost. More ports could ban ships with poor environmental records, but that would require giving up the short term benefits of tourism dollars in favour of the long term benefits of clean air and water.

  7. I was told of one part of the province (and I suspect it wasn’t unique) in which you could call the operator to find out where the local bootlegger was.

    1. I’m originally from PEI where bootleggers were plentiful, although not so much now. When I was in university I once wrote a paper on the social benefits that bootleggers provided!