November subscription drive

Today, I could write a long thing telling you about how important your subscription is, or you could read what I wrote yesterday and today I’ll just post a picture of a cute dog:

Your dog can also wear a Halifax Examiner T-shirt, but only if your dog buys an annual subscription. Tell that puppy to click here.


1. Halifax CFL team: the Richard Butts connection

Richard Butts. Photo: Halifax Examiner

A couple of readers yesterday reminded me of former Halifax CAO Richard Butts’ connection to the effort to bring a CFL team to Halifax.

Last November, Edmonton Journal sports columnist Terry Jones reported that:

The [Halifax CFL team] bid group is led by two former executives of the Arizona Coyotes, Anthony LeBlanc and Gary Drummond, local businessman Bruce Bowser of AMJ Campbell Van Lines and Richard Butts, president of Clayton Developments and former CAO of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

I commented the next day:

Butts was no doubt brought in to pull strings on Mayor Mike Savage and city council; that’s already proven to not be so difficult as Savage started a stadium puppet dance just three nanoseconds after Butts showed up on the scene.

Butts is not named as a director of Maritime Football Limited, the company behind the stadium proposal, but in August, Anthony Leblanc told an Arizona radio host how he came to Halifax:

When it was apparent we were moving on from the Coyotes [the Arizona NHL team] and Drummer [Gary Drummond, Leblanc’s partner in both the Coyotes and the proposed Halifax team] and I were going to be on the unemployment line, we started talking about what we were going to do next. We realized we had been bitten by the sports business bug and really enjoyed being a part of it so I suggested to Gary, ‘Why don’t we look at a CFL franchise for Halifax?’ Gary is from Saskatchewan. If there is a franchise in the CFL that is a prototype for what you want to be from a business standpoint, it’s the Saskatchewan Roughriders, so he said, ‘Great, go figure out how to do it.’

My first contact was [former Coyotes GM Bobby Smith], the owner of the Halifax Mooseheads. I reached out and we got together in Scottsdale. He thought it was a great idea and it turned out his cousin was the former chief administrator of the Halifax Regional Municipality, Richard Butts. That’s how this all started. We started exploring and the next we knew, we were sitting down with the mayor [Mike Savage] and then the premier [Stephen McNeil] and all of the local officials and it has taken on a life of its own.

When he was CAO, Butts went with Savage to Ottawa to investigate the financing of the Lansdowne stadium, and Butts also oversaw the writing of a city staff report detailing what it would take to build a 20,000-seat stadium at Shannon Park.

Just this year, Butts became a board member of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. No doubt that mostly reflects his position as president of Clayton Developments, but it also places him in an excellent position to get the broader business community to support the current stadium proposal.

And Clayton Developments has been working the Millbrook First Nation on the Shannon Park file since at least 2016, reported Pam Berman for the CBC:

Part of the site will be developed by the Millbrook First Nation. Chief Bob Gloade says the band’s land will be developed first.

“We don’t have to go through the same process with HRM as Canada Lands because basically myself and my council — we’re the ones that give the approval,” said Gloade.

But Chief Gloade says the Millbrook development will be in keeping with the rest of the project.

“We’ve identified Clayton Developments early on as a partner … they know the area, they know HRM.”

Clayton Developments, with Butts at the helm, has been deeply involved in the development plan for Shannon Park, which now includes a stadium, just as Butts has been working with Leblanc to get the city and province to secure a stadium.

2. Shipyard contract

Irving Shipyard. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The federal government says it plans to divvy up $7 billion in maintenance and repair contracts for Royal Canadian Navy frigates to three shipyards, a political compromise that was met with mixed reaction,” reports the Canadian Press:

Public Services and Procurement Canada announced the advance contract award notices on Thursday for Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding Inc., Seaspan Victoria Shipyards in Victoria, B.C., and Davie Shipbuilding in Levis, Que.

The contracts are to maintain Canada’s 12 Halifax-class frigates until the end of their operational life, estimated at another 20 years.

David Baker-Mosher, president of the Unifor Marine Workers Federation Local 1 union at Halifax’s Irving shipyard, called the government’s plans an “utter disappointment.”

“Workers feel their future is being jeopardized,” he said, noting that the decision could mean layoffs.

Last month, I detailed how Davie and Irving have been on a lobbying blitz in Ottawa, apparently trying to capture the frigate contract. I had overlooked Seaspan’s lobbying, so to add to the list:

Brian Carter, the president of Vancouver Shipyards (Seaspan is the parent company of Vancouver Shipyards) had 13 reportable lobbying contacts to discuss “ship repair and overhaul opportunities with the Government of Canada” with federal officials in 2018. In September, Carter met six times with those officials, including with Marie Lemay, the deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada; Christina Rettig, a policy advisor at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO); MP Stephen Fuhr, the chair of parliaments Standing Committee on National Defence; George Young, the Minister’s Offices liaison to the PMO; Jody Thomas, the deputy minister at DND; and Bill Matthews, the senior associate deputy minister at DND.

Lobbying reports for October have not yet been published. When they are, I’ll update this list.

3. Health records contract

Last week, Chronicle Herald columnist Paul Schneidereit revealed that representatives of two companies — Cerner and Allscripts — bidding on a pricey health records contract for the Nova Scotia Health Authority had met with officials from the Health Authority, while other companies bidding on the project were told there was a moratorium on such meetings. Cerner and Allscripts were subsequently shortlisted on the project.

Today, Herald reporter John McPhee notes that Cerner “has faced withering criticism about its system in British Columbia”:

Cerner won a $173.5-million contract to provide an EHR system for Vancouver Island, which was launched in 2016. There have been significant cost overruns and a B.C. medical staff organization was so worried about patient safety that its members revolted and won’t use the iHealth system.

The original budget for implementing the system on Vancouver Island was about $117 million, but about 67 per cent of that amount has been spent just at Nanaimo General Hospital, said Dr. David Forrest, president of the Nanaimo Medical Staff Association.

Besides the ballooning costs, the iHealth system has been plagued by technical glitches, particularly in the area of prescriptions, Forrest said in a recent interview from Nanaimo.

4. Halifax Racism and the CFL

Herb Trawick, the first Black CFL player

Evelyn White details the long and sordid history of anti-Black racism in and around Halifax (I wasn’t fully aware of the Preston development issues she relates), and then concludes:

Last I checked, the Canadian Football League was chockablock with players of African descent. On Tuesday, in a unanimous vote, HRM city councillors approved “further study” of a proposed plan for a CFL stadium in Shannon Park. As for Mayor Mike Savage, he cheerily told the CBC that he has “no doubt that football will be successful if it comes to Halifax.” Well …

Nova Scotia government officials, Maritime Football Ltd. (talking to you Anthony LeBlanc), and other private investors now acting all “brand new” (see the urban dictionary) in their determination to bring a CFL team to Halifax better note that word is out on the province’s horrific racial history. Can you say on-the-job punctured lung by a high-velocity nail gun attack? Or how about a Halifax Transit style “suck me, boy” salutation? And did I mention the racist depiction of a Black woman recently showcased at an NSCC campus for nearly a week? On the door of an Early Childhood Education classroom, no less. Oh, and this just in, last night’s “it’s okay to be white” posters stapled all over the downtown.

This sistah is here to tell you that prospective Black Halifax CFL players ain’t gonna roll with the possibility of their female family members and friends suffering such disrespect. 

5. Canada Games Centre

The Canada Games Centre is just seven years old, but the city this morning issued a tender offer for a fairly major renovation of the reception area at the Centre.


No public meetings.

On campus


Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing (Friday, 10am, Halifax Convention Centre) — from the event listing:

CAN-CWiC is the premiere Canadian computing conference for women in technology. The conference annually attracts over 400 female students, faculty and industry professionals for a two-day networking, learning, sharing and mentoring experience.

CAN-CWiC embodies the mission of encouraging curiosity and awareness for the digital innovations that change the communities and world around us​. Bringing together leaders in research, education and industry from across Canada.

$150, register here.

Calligraphy demonstration (Friday, 11:15M, Room 2018, Marion McCain Building) — with Master Calligrapher Lei Jiang.

Guaranteed Income and Health (Friday, 12pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Kwame McKenzie from Wellesley Institute and the University of Toronto will speak.

The Structure and Function of the DNA Quadruplex Helix G Quadruplex (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Shankar Balasubramanian from the University of Cambridge will speak.

A Composite Problem (Friday, 3pm, Room 227, Chase Building) — Asmita Sodhi will speak. Her abstract:

In this talk we journey to the land of integer-valued polynomials, introducing them first for a subset of the integers along with defining Bhargava’s p-orderings and p-sequences, before extending the concept to integer-valued polynomials over the ring M_n(Z) of n × n integer matrices. We will discuss a construction by Evrard and Johnson which provides results for M_2(Z), and see how this construction can be used for M_p(Z) with p prime but will (sometimes) not work in the case of M_n(Z) with n composite. In particular, we will look at the structure of the problem in the 4 × 4 case, and the issues that arise there.

Reviewing the Review: the Canadian Historical Review at its 100th Volume(Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Shirley Tillotson will speak.

Decoding Human Genomes on a Population Scale (Friday, 5pm, in the auditorium named after a bank, Marion McCain Building) — Shankar Balasubramanian from the University of Cambridge will speak.

Hazardous climate: How climate change undermines human wellbeing and what we can do about it (Friday, 5pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, Marion McCain Building) — Camilo Mora from the University of Hawaii will speak.

Saint Mary’s


Nakatuentia: Respect (Saturday, 7pm, Halifax Central Library) — documentary screening and discussion with Gregory Rich, Grand Chief of the Innu Nation.

In the harbour

05:30: Bishu Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
13:30: MOL Partner, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
15:30: Seven Seas Navigator, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for  with up to 550 passengers Bar Harbor
15:30: Bishu Highway sails for sea
16:30: Nolhanava ro-ro cargo, sails for Saint-Pierre


Rain, they say.

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

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  1. CFL Team Stadium… too many unanswered questions.
    Just say NO!
    the cost ‘between’ 170 and 190 million dollars
    it’s unclear who will own the stadium
    it’s unclear who will pay for the cost of building the thing
    it’s a similar model to the one used to finance the Hfx Convention Centre whose offices and retail space are still largely vacant, the hotel is still unfinished.. not to mention the ridiculous
    underestimation of money needed to complete
    the latest report suggests HRM would be on the hook for ongoing costs to maintain

    Sounds fishy to me. Sure it would be nice to have a CFL team here. But at what price. Have you been toa Huskie game recently. Not exactly overflowing with fans. We should also mention that this stadium will sit empty in the long winter months, traffic issues cannot be ignored in this location, and again it sure sounds like taxpayers are going to have to pay for this football pipe dream. Let’s see this
    ‘mysterious’ Group cough up some real cash, some real answers on costs and a real commitment to this city before we even consider this ill conceived proposal. Doug Barron

  2. I read the story about how Anthony Leblanc and his partners decided on tackling CFL in Halifax. I can just see them passing around a toke envisioning a free stadium thru city provided tax lifts…. And the city is being serious about this?
    I think Mr. Leblanc likely has more business with the Province, as he is CEO of Modern Leaf cannabis dispensaries. If he wants to put a Modern Leaf dispensary or pot café on the Millbrook grounds ,it would likely do better than his football stadium vision. Shannon Park is for residential use. WE would need an all season stadium and I think that it should be provincially owned. The option is for this group to sell equity shares in this ‘vision’.

  3. Follow the lack of money.
    No person, no group of persons and no entity is willing to guarantee repayment of the $170,000,000 million cost of a stadium. Without a guarantee no bank will finance the construction.
    HRM follows provincial rules regarding debt financing and ultimately municipal debt is provincial debt because the debt is issued through the Municipal Finance Corporation and all municipal borrowing requires the approval of the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
    The premier hasn’t been putting the boots to provincial employees to help him fund a stadium.

  4. So Dickie Butts is tight with the Chamber of Commerce. Good. He can get his business buds to pony up for the stadium. Leave the plebes out of it.

    We want affordable housing, good transit and nice parks. Just because some corporate dick got bit by the sports biz bug doesn’t mean the rest of us need to pay for his medicine.

  5. Finally at least one member of Halifax Regional Council, Sam Austin, has spoken about the stadium proposal. He states in his blog ( that he cant support HRM making a big investment in a stadium and that such a move needs to be primarily private sector driven. I truly hope that his words of common sense are shared by our Municipal council as our Mayor has certainly drunk the Koolaid.