1. Deaths in custody

The Burnside jail. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Yesterday morning, I reported that an official at the Burnside jail had testified in court that “several” prisoners at the jail have died over the past week. I knew about the death of Joshua Evans, a man with a mental disability who took his own life, but no other deaths have been publicly reported.

Responding to my inquiry about deaths since September 1, Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Gillis issued the following statement later in the day:

We can confirm that an 81-year-old male federal inmate, subject to a parole suspension, passed away of natural causes while in hospital. Nova Scotia Correctional Services provided in hospital supervision in accordance with the shared service agreement with Correctional Services Canada. Since September 1, no further deaths have occurred. Further questions should be directed to Correctional Services Canada.

I don’t know how the one plus one additional death gets us to “several.” I’ll keep asking.

2. Lobbyist registry

Back in October, Halifax council passed the following resolution:

THAT Halifax Regional Council request a staff report with recommendations for the creation and maintenance of a municipal lobbyist registry, which should include a regular, transparent reporting process, and contains a jurisdictional scan for best practices in other Municipal, Provincial and Federal Governments.

That report is now written, and tomorrow it will be presented to council’s Executive Standing Committee.

Staff is recommending that a lobbyist registry not be created. The short of it is that staff says the registry would cost too much money; you can read the report here.

The need for a registry became apparent to me in 2015, when councillor Lorelei Nicoll attempted to hide the fact that she was being lobbied by M5 Public Affairs, a lobbying firm where Mike Savage worked before he became mayor. As I reported:

The city’s Environment and Sustainability committee yesterday rejected a proposal to use an herbicide to kill weeds in Dartmouth’s lakes, reports Chris Benjamin, but not before:

Jamie MacNeil lobbied a city committee to poison Dartmouth’s lakes, then got upset that the public was told about his lobbying.

Councillor Lorelei Nicoll expressed dismay that the name of Jamie MacNeil — the m5 Public Affairs VP who recommended using herbicides — was made public in the staff briefing. MacNeil lives in Nicoll’s district. “It was very unfortunate to see the individual from District 4 identified in this briefing note,” she said. “When he asked to understand the process I did not say ‘are you OK with having your name made public?’ … I hope that never happens again.”

According to the briefing note, MacNeil had approached the council on behalf of an m5 client, Lake Management Services. Nicoll did not say why the public should not be fully aware of the involvement of either a herbicide company, its PR firm, or the PR firm’s VP. Regardless, the city’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Mike Labrecque, apologized for telling the public the truth.

3. Tidal turbine monitoring gear washes ashore

A photo of the tidal turbine.
The abandoned tidal turbine. Photo: Cape Sharpe Tidal

“A day after Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. announced that its underwater turbine has broken down and its blades are no longer turning, fisherman Darren Porter spotted a yellow object at the water’s edge near the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE), which oversees the tidal test site in the Minas Passage,” reports Bruce Wark:

“My daughter dragged it up the beach so it wouldn’t float away,” Porter said. “God knows where it would have been tonight.”

A few hours later, Lindsay Bennett, business operations manager at FORCE, confirmed Porter’s suspicion that the object was a sea pod which houses a cluster of environmental monitoring instruments.

“Darren Porter located and recovered a piece of marine mammal monitoring equipment that is used as part of FORCE’s regular site-level environmental effects monitoring program,” Bennett wrote in an e-mail, adding that it was one of five “instrument packages” that were recently deployed.

“All monitoring instruments on the recovered package appear to be in working order,” Bennett wrote, “however, we’ll assess for and perform any required maintenance and redeploy as soon as possible.”

4. Advertorials R Us

Reader John McCracken points me to not one, not two, not three, but four advertorials in yesterday’s Chronicle Herald.

The first is an unbylined plug for the Forest Lakes development, “the up-and-coming resort-style residential community, and its world-class, 18-hole Nicklaus Design golf course.” “World-class” is the tell that the whole thing is bullshit.

The second is something about Duggers Menswear, which is a weird obsession of the Herald’s. This was written by former scab Jordan Parker, who mostly just transcribes what a Duggers employee told him.

The third is written by freelancer Jon Tattrie, who cobbled together a multi-payer advertising piece by looking at Ol’ School Donuts, Vandal Doughnuts (are you catching the trend?), Scanway, and The Old Apothecary.

The fourth is written by staff writer 

Besides the general ickiness of the advertorials themselves, that’s maybe a dozen hours of staff time that could’ve been instead put into, ya know, reporting.

5. Promises

Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Just four days before the 2013 election, Stephen McNeil promised, in writing, that if he became premier he would ‘expand the powers and mandate of the [Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia], particularly through granting her order-making power,’” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:

Almost five years later, the Liberal premier hasn’t followed through on that commitment and now suggests the pledge wasn’t an actual election promise.

“I ran on a campaign,” he told reporters Tuesday at Province House. “Was it in my platform? I didn’t run on that.”

6. Sharks are coming to Nova Scotia to kill you

a photo of a shark

“For the first time in Atlantic Canadian waters, scientists have tagged a great white shark in an effort to better understand the predator’s movements off Canada,” reports Aly Thomson for the Canadian Press:

Heather Bowlby, a researcher with the federal government’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax, said the three-metre juvenile male shark was satellite-tagged off southwest Nova Scotia last week.

Bowlby said it’s possible more great white sharks are coming to Canadian waters.

“There have been more sightings of whites up in around Canada. There’s more tagging effort as well and so there’s been more tag detections,” said Bowlby, who works at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in a team of three, but frequently collaborates with other organizations.

I’ve got the Sharktivity app on my iPhone, and it has alerted me to a bunch of shark sightings over the past week around Cape Cod:

See that second one from the top? Here’s the information about it from the app:

Sighted on 2018-09-15
Number Sighted: 1
Comments; Person bitten by shark 300 yards south of Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet.
[300 is a typo; the actual distance was 30 yards.]

“Bitten” I guess is one word for it. Another is “killed.” The Boston Globe reports:

A Revere man died after he was attacked by what’s suspected to be a great white shark Saturday afternoon as he rode a boogie board 30 yards off of Newcomb Hollow Beach on Cape Cod.

The details are horrific:

Paddling on his boogie board, getting in position to catch the next good wave at a Wellfleet beach early Saturday afternoon, Arthur Medici went underwater.

Five or 10 yards away, Isaac Rocha heard a scream as his friend resurfaced. He saw a fin and blood in the water. He swam over, grabbed Medici, and began dragging him the almost 40 yards to shore.

“It’s something that never passes your brain, your mind — you never think about that” happening, said Rocha, 16, of Everett, in a phone interview Sunday night. “It was just horrible, the worst feeling in the world,” he said.

Rocha tried to save him, tying a boogie board strap as a makeshift tourniquet around Medici’s leg. But the 26-year-old from Revere had been attacked by a shark and was declared dead at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis later Saturday.

A make-shift memorial for Arthur Medici on Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet on Sunday. Photo: Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe

“The chance of being bitten by a shark is statistically low,” reports Sarah Mervosh for  the New York Times:

Last year, there were 88 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide, including five fatalities, according to the program’s International Shark Attack File. The United States, with its long coastlines and busy beaches, has historically had the most attacks — overwhelmingly in Florida — followed by Australia, South Africa and Brazil.

Experts say a new risk area is emerging in Massachusetts, where a thriving marine life population is colliding with tourists in ways not seen in almost a century, since a teenage boy was fatally bitten while swimming in 1936.

The state, which has had just a handful of attacks since the 1800s, has now had at least two in a matter of weeks. Another man was bitten off Cape Cod last month near Longnook Beach in Truro, but he fought off the shark and survived.

Swimming in Halifax Harbour is such a great idea!

(Send complaints about headlines to




Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) – the committee is recommending that the city contribute $1 million to the Hospice Society of Greater Halifax and increase the St. Andrew’s Community Centre renovation budget by $1,950,000 (from $6,100,000). The shortfall from the latter is explained as resulting from “the unknown condition of the underground services, programming requirements and increased demolition costs estimates.”


Public Open House – Sackville and Little Sackville River Floodplains (Thursday, 12-4 pm and 6-8pm, Kinsmen Community Centre, Lower Sackville) — a public open house about the Sackville and Little Sackville River floodplains.

Executive Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — see #2 above.

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — nothing much on the agenda.



Legislature sits (Wednesday, 1pm, Province House)


Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)

On campus



Frontiers in Ocean Sustainability (Wednesday, 8:30am, National Research Council of Canada, 1411 Oxford Street, Halifax) — the conference agenda.


YouTube video

Newfangled Rounds: Funding Sources for Health Care Research, Innovation, and Commercialization (Thursday, 8:30am, Bethune Ballroom, Bethune Building, VG Site) — from the event listing:

Learn about research, innovation and commercialization funding opportunities available through Innovacorp, ACOA, Mitacs, NRC, IWK, NSHA, and Dal ILO.

Besides being a mostly meaningless buzzword, here’s what bothers me about “innovation”: it’s amoral. Immoral, even.

Ever since that monkey innovated and killed a bunch of his fellow monkeys with a bone and then threw the bone up in the air and it became a spaceship, the most celebrated “innovations” are murderous atrocities. Chinese fireworks were innovated right into European firearms. Wernher von Braun’s innovation ended up destroying much of the city of London. The Manhattan Project, a massively state-funded innovation project, resulted in hundreds of thousands of Japanese dying horrible deaths, displaced Pacific Islanders, cancer-ridden military and production workers, and worldwide mental distress for the rest of human history.

Even more mundane innovations have their downside. Sure, the iPhone was a successful innovation and made somebody a bunch of money, but Angry Birds has diminished worker productivity, and I for one am now constantly worried about shark attacks.

My point is that not all, not even most, “innovations” are good things. Most of them suck. Your toothbrush app isn’t helping humanity in any appreciable way.

DeepSense information session for faculty (Thursday, 11:30am, room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — newfangled ocean shit.

Lessons on the Placement, Autonomy, and Fusion of Wireless Sensor Data (Thursday, 1pm, CIBC auditorium, Goldberg Building) — Ioanis Nikolaidis will speak.

Parallel methods for PDE based mesh generation and other nonlinear problems (Thursday, 2pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Ronald Haynes from Memorial University will speak. His abstract:

An approach to solve PDEs whose solutions evolve on disparate space and time scales is introduce adaptive and dynamic meshes. In this talk we will review a class of PDE based mesh generators in 1D and 2D. Here a PDE for the mesh is formulated and coupled with the physical PDE of interest. The hope is that the cost of computing the mesh should not substantially increase the total computational burden and ideally will fit within the framework being used to solve the physical PDE. Here we consider parallel solution strategies for the mesh PDE and the coupled system using various domain decomposition strategies. The analysis of the algorithms reminds us of several classical tools from the 1950s and 1960s including Peaceman-Rachford iterations and monotone convergence using the theory of M-functions. The study of this problem has led to recent progress for the parallel solution of other nonlinear problems.​

Dispossession by Municipalization: The Production of Regulatory Gaps in Canadian Settler Policies (Thursday, 1pm, Room 204, Weldon Law Building) — a panel discussion, part of the Impact Awards events.

Bureaucratic Territory: First Nations, Private Property and “Turn-Key” Colonialism in Canada (Thursday, 7:15pm, in the theatre named after a bank, McCain Building) — Jeremy Schmidt from Durham University will speak, with responses from Russel Diabo and Sherry Pictou. From the event listing:

Since 2006, successive Canadian governments have developed policies to create private property on lands reserved for First Nations. In this presentation, Jeremy Schmidt shows how the private property initiatives have another aim: to convert reserved lands into municipalities. The analysis is based on Access to Information and Privacy requests through which he has tracked how Canadian bureaucrats have incorporated ideas circulating in World Bank policies for land-titling in the Global South and used them to develop policy, and draft legislation, without consultation with Indigenous peoples. The implications are far reaching: the aim is not only to extend property law but to also regulate on-reserve activities ranging from building codes to environmental protection. While bureaucrats align the program with the Liberal government’s rhetoric of reconciliation, it represents a new form of dispossession.

Recreational Shark Fishing: An Emerging Conservation Problem (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — David Schiffman from Simon Fraser University, who runs the @WhySharksMatter Twitter account, will speak.

Saint Mary’s


Hakodate (Thursday, 6:30pm, Halifax Central Library) — in return for the Christmas tree Halifax sends Hakodate, Japan every year, Hakodate is sending some of its university students to Halifax. I don’t understand this trade, but anyone interested in what happens in Hakodate should go to hear them out.

In the harbour

5am: Berlin Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Lisbon, Portugal
6:45am: Crystal Symphony, cruise ship with up to 1,095 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Magdalen Island
8am: Hugh R. Sharp, research vessel, sails from Pier 9 for sea
10am: Mol Paramount, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
11am: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
11am: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,446 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Baltimore
11:30am: AS Felicia, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
Noon: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
3pm: Berlin Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4:30pm: Crystal Symphony, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
5pm: ZIM Luanda, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York


I’m off to court to hear Justice James Chipman’s ruling in Maurice Pratt’s habeas corpus application.

Later, at 2pm, I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7.

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

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  1. Not all innovation is bad. With most innovations, as with most inanimate objects, it is not what they are that matters, it is what you do with them. We don’t always use them well. But inanimate objects are not inherently dangerous. They need to be handled in a dangerous way to reach their full potential, and we’re really, really, really good at that. 🙂

  2. The shark is a beautiful endangered animal. According to this article, there were all of five deaths around the world caused by sharks last year. 29 people were killed while taking selfies.

    You should be embarrassed by the headline “Great white sharks are killing people and they’re coming to Nova Scotia”

  3. “I ran on a campaign,” he told reporters Tuesday at Province House. “Was it in my platform? I didn’t run on that.”

    His campaign did include a promise to extend the successful Film Industry Tax credit for 5 more years. Instead he replaced it without either due diligence nor consulting the industry. Not every NS premier get the chance to wreck a legal flourishing industry the way McNeil did. Last I heard he insists he kept his promise, that the NS film industry (or what’s left of it) is doing fine and that he made no mistake.

    So it really doesn’t matter what he promises or campaigns upon. The man does not respect his word and cannot be trusted.

  4. As far as I know most shark attacks happen because the shark thinks they’re going after something they like to eat, like a seal. Unfortunately when its a human we assume its because they’re out to get humans. Not so. In the story you recount did the shark turn around an go back to get the guy he bit?

    I wonder how many readers have watched Sharkwater, an excellent documentary by Rob Stewart that gives a lot of detail on sharks and especially the finning industry. He also did Revolution. Rob died earlier this year but he made that film to change people’s understanding about sharks. Here’s a tribute-

    And the sequel Sharkwater Extinction the film he was working on when he died is playing tonight at Park Lane. At 6:30. If we are going to have more sharks in our water we better start to understand them.

    Shark populations have dropped by 90% in the past 30 years. About 100 to 150 million sharks are getting killed every year for the cosmetic, pet food, vaccines, fast food, fish sticks and other mislabeled food.

    1. Don’t forget the finning industry. This incredible wasteful and cruel practice single handedly accounts for a staggering amount of loss in the shark population.

    2. SHARKWATER, which I got bamboozled into screening at the Cape Breton Island Film Series, was a repugnantly narcissistic movie, richly illustrative of what’s wrong with so much of (but by no means all of) the environmental movement today.

      As for Tim’s tongue-in-cheek screed about the peril of sharks (which killed exactly eight of the world’s 7,442,000,000 people last year), 21st Century humans suck as assessing risk, constantly elevating trivial but flashy risks over mundane but serious ones.

      Even as I type these words, someone, somewhere is driving down a highway at 120 kph while texting a friend about the horrors of shark attacks.

  5. The Premier also said: “I think what most Nova Scotians are grateful for, I’m not stubborn in my ways and I realize I make a mistake, I acknowledge it,”
    Spit my coffee through my nose on THAT massively intelligence insulting comment from Mr. McNeil. What about the Film Industry Tax Credit? What about the CAT ferry? MAJOR mistakes that he has never acknowledged in spite of the refutable proof that they were massive errors.

  6. It’s worth pointing out that Cape cod has long been a seal hangout, and with seal populations on the rise no one is surprised that more shark activity has followed. How is a simple minded shark supposed to tell the difference between a seal and a swimmer?

    Also, the shark guy is “David” not Davis.

    Finally, in my own nitpicky and contrarian mood, I need to point out that the photo of a turbine you used is not the one actually deployed right now. It’s the older one that got shredded to pieces YEARS ago.


      1. Weird. They don’t even know what photos go with the instrument they just deployed. No wonder the whole outfit is going down the drain.

        Carry on!

  7. Tim, you and Parker are like the Statler and Waldorf of Halifax / NS.

    And both of your alternatively ascerbic, outrageous and sometimes pugilistic takes make culture and news watching that much more enjoyable!

  8. Thanks for the heads up on the Hakodate talk. I was looking at the Hakodate plaque and trees just yesterday in the Public Gardens, and realised I had not heard anything about our twin city in many years.