On campus
In the harbour


1. Teachers

The government has reached a tentative contract agreement with the teachers union. No details have been published, and a new contract is contingent on a vote of approval by union members.

The McNeil government would very much like to go into an election with the labour disputes behind it, but so far it has been insisting on a wage freeze.

A contract deal, including a wage freeze, was rejected by 61 per cent of teachers last November, a real slap at union leadership. With that vote, teachers suddenly became the most powerful political force in the province; the NSGEU backtracked on a similar deal, delaying a members’ vote, and we’ve been sitting in a sort of labour limbo ever since.

The wage freeze wasn’t the only issue at play in the teachers’ November vote — teachers speak of being overworked, micromanaged, and generally disrespected. We don’t know the details of the newly proposed contract — perhaps the government made enough other concessions that teachers will agree to a wage freeze. But this is no done deal.

2. Tuition “catastrophe”


“Tuition fee hikes a catastrophe for accessible post-secondary education in Nova Scotia,” says the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia in a press release:

Numbers released by Statistics Canada earlier today show historically high tuition fee increases across Nova Scotia for the 2016-17 academic year. Average undergraduate tuition fees have increased to $7,218 compared to the national average of $6,373.

“These fee hikes are slamming shut the doors of higher education for a generation of learners,” said Charlotte Kiddell, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia. “When fees are increasing exponentially faster than incomes, our province is sending a message that post-secondary education is a privilege for the rich.”

60% of post-secondary students in Canada are from the top two income quartiles. Over the past 10 years, the number of Nova Scotians pursuing a university degree in Nova Scotia has decreased by 18.5%.

This year, tuition fees in Nova Scotia increased faster than anywhere else in Canada at 5.6%, double the national average of 2.8%. Nova Scotia has surpassed Saskatchewan to now have the second highest undergraduate tuition fees in the country.

New Brunswick now has lower tuition than Nova Scotia, $6,700 annually compared to $7,200.

If I had one piece of advice for someone entering university, it’d be to get the hell out of Nova Scotia. Keep the student debt you assume as low as possible. Better to move to Quebec and work for a year to establish residency, then go to Concordia for half the cost of going to Dal or SMU.

Nova Scotia doesn’t value young people; why should young people value Nova Scotia?

3. $697.50

Northern Pulp Mill. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Northern Pulp Mill. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The Environment Department has meted out a penalty to Northern Pulp for exceeding the allowable emissions during a June stack test,” reports Francis Campbell for Local Xpress:

“As a result of the mill’s non-compliance with the industrial approval, Environment staff conducted an investigation and served a summary offence ticket to the company in the amount of $697.50,” department spokeswoman Krista Higdon said in an email Tuesday.

Dave Gunning, a founding member of the Clean Up The Pictou County Mill group, said the penalty is hardly a deterrent for a company that will spend $8 million during a 10-day maintenance and upgrade shutdown that begins Saturday.

“This is absolutely pathetic,” said Gunning, a singer-songwriter who lives in Lyons Brook, near the Abercrombie Point mill.

 “I wonder if Northern Pulp will rally their ‘stakeholders’ to lobby the government for a forgivable loan to cover this enormous fine,” he said sarcastically. “Or will Northern Pulp board members have to give up their golf memberships?”

4. Mainline

Elizabeth Chiu, reporting for the CBC, provides a sympathetic and detailed look at the operation and challenges faced by the Mainline Needle Exchange.

Between the explosion in worldwide heroin use (a direct result of the wars in Afghanistan) and the proliferation of prescription opiates, drug addiction is at record highs. And addiction is increasingly a rural problem. I was struck by this portion of Chiu’s report:

Since late May, Mainline’s outreach vans have been making fewer trips. Instead of road trips every two weeks to Pictou, Truro, Amherst, Shubenacadie, Bridgewater, and the Annapolis Valley, those communities get visits from the van on a monthly basis.

And it now rolls into Yarmouth every other month instead of monthly. The hours of part-time staff who operated the vans were reduced, forcing the one full-time worker to get behind the wheel.

The road trips are busy. A drug user who shows up at the van can have as many clean needles as they want, some pick up as many as 2,000. Outreach worker James Williams says he will hand out anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 needles in one day.

What’s most frustrating about this is that even though it’s repeatedly demonstrated that harm reduction works — resulting in far less crime, disease, and medical costs, and a way out for at least some addicts — programs like Mainline are sorely underfunded.

5. Weather

Buddy is already on his boat.
Buddy is already on his boat.

Finally, maybe we’ll get some decent weather around here:

After a record-setting career spanning more than half a century, CBC meteorologist Peter Coade is retiring.


1. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

In response to my voiced disappointment and objection to the name change of Greenfield Elementary with our Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board, I was left with the impression that the name change was to be revisited in September/October but if at all implemented would not reflect a geographical connotation.

It seems I was snowed, to use a slang but appropriate term, by our School Board. This reassurance satisfied a naïve me over the summer months until upon recently reading an article in the Cape Breton Post article (‘New school year means new school for many Cape Breton students,’ Aug. 28) and again calling a member of the school board. This member informed me that the school board has decided not to revisit this issue, and the name change has been voted on and will stand.

My family, including my grandparents and parents, has lived in River Ryan our entire lives. My father attended a one-room schoolhouse on the corner of School Street and Union Highway, we attended St. Michael’s in River Ryan and our children attended Greenfield Elementary School in Scotchtown.

The desired name change from ‘Greenfield Elementary School’ to ‘New Waterford Elementary School’ is due to school closures of Mount Carmel and St. Agnes in New Waterford, the children attending Greenfield and is “to make the children feel more welcome, at home and bring the children together.”

Everyone is proud of their community and when Greenfield Elementary School was originally named it reflected no particular group, entity or area, following the guidelines set. Children from Scotchtown, River Ryan, Lingan and New Victoria attend this school and New Waterford children will be attending this school. I naively expected the same intelligence would prevail within the group of people promoting this name change and that a generic name promoting “togetherness” would be chosen.

Please enlighten me how changing the name of a school to solely reflect the attendance of children from the Town of New Waterford while ignoring the current children and the communities of Scotchtown, River Ryan, Lingan and New Victoria is “bringing them together.”

This structure was built – and still exists in Scotchtown – and we have in the past, present and hopefully in the future attended functions and have a personal connection and pride in our children and our school.  Everyone is proud and feels an identity to where they live and to have this identity swallowed up and taken away seems wrong and insensitive.

It’s been said that suggestions put forth containing the name Greenfield were removed from the choice selection. If this is indeed the case, does it occur to anyone that maybe the children wanted the name to stay the same or at least included in their school name? Let’s revisit the word “insensitive.”

The cost and effort it will take to implement this change – signage, uniforms, Greenfield gym, school letterhead would be large. The school board will not cover any costs associated with this change, however. Our area is very generous and supportive of different charities, but there are limits to the depth of the money well and there are many charities and causes that receive our support.

No other schools have changed names due to schools closures and merging of school children and staff. Is there a precedent being set here? As our school population continues to decrease will the names of schools in Sydney change to Glace Bay High, Mira Elementary or any other surrounding area to welcome the new arrivals, or maybe vice versa?

Please contact all school board members, they all had a vote, their contact info is online at and in your telephone book.  The main switchboard phone number is (902) 564-8293.

Patricia MacSween, River Ryan

[emphasis in original]



As we know, two warships colliding in the narrows in 1917 caused the Halifax Explosion, destroying much of Halifax, killing thousands of people, and injuring thousands more. This city, in particular, should be conscious of the risks of warships.

So I applauded when Mayor Mike Savage joined the Mayors for Peace organization soon after his election in 2013:

Mayors For Peace was started in 1982 by Takeshi Araki, then the mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, the first city to have a nuclear bomb dropped on it. The movement now joins nearly 6,000 cities around the world, including 91 Canadian cities, and holds official status at the United Nations.

Savage’s predecessor, Peter Kelly, refused to join Mayors For Peace, because he saw it as criticism of the large military presence in Halifax, even though Canada’s navy has no nuclear weapons. While joining Mayors For Peace will have no force of law, it will be a symbolic voice against the presence of nuclear-armed US warships that visit Halifax Harbour.

And boy howdy, today a veritable armada of warships is gathering in Halifax Harbour— Spanish and French naval vessels join two American destroyers (the Gonzalez and Bulkeley) and a US nuclear submarine (the Toledo). Several Canadian ships are in port as well.

The American ships are armed with Tomahawk missiles, which in the past sometimes carried nuclear bombs. I believe that practice was ended about a decade ago — nuclear weapons serve no purpose in modern warfare, and sophisticated new weaponry has for the most part replaced them — but the US Navy doesn’t say where or when nuclear weapons are deployed, so there’s some chance that nuclear bombs are in port today.

There have been a handful of incidents involving a nuclear reactor on a submarine, most involving old Soviet ships.

But even the best run ships are operated by humans, and humans inevitably fail sooner or later. Nuclear submarines have been lost at sea and have crashed into each other, and accidents will happen again.

It is alleged that the Toledo collided with the Russian submarine Kursk in 2000, causing that submarine to sink and the loss of 118 lives.

Will Halifax be destroyed by a nuclear explosion today? Probably not. But it’s not an impossibility.

Where’s Tamara Lorincz when we need her?



Appeals Standing Committee (10am, City Hall) — various unsightly premises appeals, mostly.

Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (1pm, City Hall) — the committee is looking at a comprehensive energy plan for city government.

Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council (6pm, Council Chambers, 40 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth) — here’s the agenda.


No meetings scheduled.

On campus


Data  (3:30pm, Colloquium Room, Chase 319) — Todd MacKenzie, from Dartmouth College, will talk on “Causal Estimation Using Instrumental Variables in Observational and Randomized Studies: Extensions to Right Censored Data.”

Killer cells (3:30pm, Biology Lounge, 5th Floor, Life Sciences Centre) — Jeanette Boudreau of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, will speak on “Control of Natural Killer Cell Function by Allelic Diversity.”

In the harbour

5:30am: Algoma Dartmouth, oil tanker, moves from Pier 34 to McAsphalt
6:45am: Rotterdam, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney with up to 1,685 passengers
7am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Pier 36
8am: Patino, Spanish naval ship, arrives at NF5, next to the Preserver
8:15am: Languedoc, French naval ship, arrives at NC5, next to the Monmouth
9;30am: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 3,765 passengers
10am: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
11am: USS Toledo, US Navy nuclear submarine, arrives at an unannounced pier, presumably at the dockyard
11am: ZIM Ontario, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
11am: Harmony Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
Noon: USS Bulkeley, US naval guided missile destroyer, arrives at NC3
12:30pm: USS Gonzalez, US naval guided missile destroyer, arrives at NC3, next to the Bulkeley
3:30pm: Rotterdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
7pm: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
9pm: ZIM Ontario, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
11pm: PTI Hercules, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea

5am: NYK Romulus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre


We’ll  be recording Examineradio today.

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

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  1. jaywalking or global warming–it’s the same penalty! This is the province stubbing its cigarette into the eye of the citizenry. Cue the spindoctors.

    1. The fine is a slap in the face to people who deserve to be slapped in the face.

      Why would the government do something so obscene? Because their adversaries are little more than keyboard tyrants. You get what you deserve, and Nova Scotians deserve to be laughed at.

  2. Harbour East Community council will tonight set in motion an MPS amendment to allow for commercial and residential development next to the Portland Hills transit terminal. The developer proposes a 5 storey 81 unit apartment building and two 2 storey commercial buildings.
    The developer was fined $60,000 in July 2016 : ” A Halifax construction company has been fined $60,000 for a serious building code violation at a home in south-end Halifax.
    C.A. Wilkins Construction was fined after being found guilty of providing false information in a building code application for 1122 Lucknow Street. ”

    According to the minutes of the Public Information Meeting on June 23 2015, attended by almost 100 residents, a real estate agent spoke at the meeting :
    ” Joe Pirro -> who is a Real Estate Agent with Royal LePage Atlantic he wanted to state tha the has had the opportunity to work with the developer, Mr. Clark Wilkins, and that Mr. Wilkins builds a quality products. If the project moves forward he feels that it will enhance the community and it will be an area that the community can be proud of. ”
    27 days later the 2 storey residential property on Lucknow Street collapsed and the Herald article showed a mess of timber :

  3. $697.50? You can probably end up with a bigger fine for building a big smokey bonfire in your backyard.

    I’ve covered some court cases of industry here and I had thought that fines in the area of $50,000 (actually a donation to charity was the penalty) were too light. But $697.50! I think the half-buck tacked on makes it seem even worse. They couldn’t even make it an even $700.

  4. I’m going to be Mister Picky today:

    – Neither vessel involved in the Halifax Explosion was a “warship”. The Mont Blanc was a cargo ship overloaded with military supplies. The Imo was empty at the time, but on its way to New York to pick up relief supplies for Belgium – so kind of the exact opposite of a warship.

    – Nuclear reactors don’t explode like nuclear weapons. If all the possible mistakes happen, then there would be a radiation leak in the harbour, which would obviously still really suck, but it wouldn’t be as big a problem as you’re suggesting.

    – As for nuclear weapons that may or may not be on board: even when they malfunction or break, nuclear weapons don’t “go off” like regular bombs. It’s very difficult to trigger a nuclear explosion. Nuclear weapons have been accidentally lost at sea, dropped from airplanes, etc. without exploding (and that’s the incidents we know about). If a missile should somehow accidentally launch, and then somehow none of the failsafes work (and even the creaky Soviet infrastructure never had a rogue missile that detonated), then some place several hundred (thousand?) kilometres away might have a nuclear explosion – the whole point of a missile is it goes and blows up somewhere else.

    For the record, I don’t really like having nuclear weapons in our port just on principle – but let’s not get carried away!

    1. “Well actually” remember that Canadian warship that accidentally fired a Harpoon missile in Vancouver harbour several years ago? As I recall, it ended up in some guy’s garage in West Vancouver. Didn’t go boom, though.

      1. Harpoons aren’t nuclear! FWIW those Bofors guns on all our ships, usually pointed vaguely at the North End, could make a real mess real quick if they somehow went off by accident. I’m more worried about Sea Kings falling apart in mid-air above downtown or something.

        1. I agree about the Sea Kings. I think it’s absolutely nuts that we use them for fly-bys of large gatherings.

          1. Get the organizations to stop asking for them. Doubt if the crews will be disappointed.
            We’ll all be at more risk of getting hit in a cross walk than anything else happening.

  5. Hallelujah that Coade is finally retiring. Now if only Mumbles Connolly would step aside and let a younger journalist who can tell time, speak clearly and not make every interview all about himself, I might return to listening to InfoMorning.