1. Dubé and lying city councillors

In early March, I was tipped that Halifax CAO Jacques Dubé had been missing from City Hall for two weeks. I called around, and spoke to three councillors, two of whom told me that Dubé had a family member who had a severe illness and was attending to it. Well, that’s his business and none of mine, I thought, so I let the story go.

It turns out, however, that the “sick family member” was a cover story. As Jacob Boon reports:

Sources with knowledge of the situation confirm a harassment complaint has been made against the CAO over a text message he sent two months ago to one of his employees.

The text was a re-write of a post from the Beaverton parody news site, in which Canadians threatened violence against a man who liked winter. Continues Boon:

The recipient didn’t find it very funny, that much is clear. The matter was serious enough for the employee to seek outside legal advice and file the complaint against the CAO.

It also caused Dubé to take a voluntary two-week absence from City Hall in early March, which city officials at the time would only say was due to a “personal issue.”

Regional council first heard about the problem as part of a closed-door meeting on March 9 to discuss an unspecified “personnel matter.” Councillors were provided copies of the text, with the recipient’s name redacted. During the three-hour discussion that followed it was determined the fake news story didn’t count as grounds for the CAO’s dismissal.

I don’t really have a comment on Dubé’s actions, but I am irate at the councillors.

When I called around asking about Dubé’s absence, one councillor — Waye Mason — told me “I can’t comment on that.” Fair enough: there are legal and ethical constraints about discussing a personnel issue with reporters. Mason could’ve diced it another way, but he took the safe route. I don’t have a problem with that.

But two other councillors flat out lied to me, by giving me the cover story of the family member with an illness. It’s one thing to keep information from a reporter, as Mason did, and quite another thing to lie to a reporter.

I’m holding off on naming the councillors right now, because I’m going to contact each and ask for comment.

2. Examineradio, episode #106

Victor Syperek. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Victor Syperek has been a driving force in Halifax’s bar, restaurant, and music scene for close to a quarter-century. But he’s saying goodbye to Argyle Street and consolidating his interests north on Gottingen. Syperek claims his iconic Economy Shoe Shop has lost close to $2-million since construction on the Nova Centre began five years ago.

Also, with nearly $65-million pledged by the provincial government in spending announcements over the past few weeks, you can smell an election call in the air.

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3. Climate change puts seaweed and the fish that depend on it at risk

Rockweed. Photo: NOAA / Flickr

“If the world doesn’t do anything to curb carbon emissions, seaweed off Nova Scotia could suffer, according to new research out of Dalhousie University,” reports Chris Lambie for the Examiner:

Kristen Wilson, who is earning her masters in marine ecology at Dal, presented her work Friday that projects range shifts of canopy-forming seaweed species in the Northwest Atlantic with continued climate change.

“In coastal ecosystems, seaweeds play many ecological and commercially important roles,” Wilson told the crowd at a biology symposium in the student union building.

“Ecologically, they are canopy-forming. So they are very important ecosystem engineers. They provide food and habitat to many different species of fish and invertebrates. They are also highly productive and store large amounts of carbon and nitrogen.”

Click here to read “Climate change puts seaweed and the fish that depend on it at risk.”

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

4. Another reporter leaves the Chronicle Herald

I am leaving the Herald to begin working @CBCNS on Monday. I wish nothing but the best for my striking @chronicleherald colleagues.

— Frances Willick (@fwillick) April 6, 2017

Willick is the eighth journalist to have left the Chronicle Herald since the strike began, following David Jackson, now at the Premier’s office; Dan Arsenault, now heading allnovascotia’s Newfoundland operation; Gordie Sutherland, hired by the CBC briefly but moved on now to other pursuits; Michael Gorman, hired by the CBC; Sherri Borden Colley, also hired by the CBC; Remo Zaccagna, hired as the communications coordinator at Pier 21; and Brett Bundale, who started with the Canadian Press last month.

By my count (someone correct me if I’m wrong), the number of striking newsroom employees has been reduced from 61 to 53 since the strike began.

5. Underspending on capital projects

“Since 2013, when the Liberals came to power, there has been a significant drop in the amount put towards hospital infrastructure,” reports Marieke Walsh for Global:

In total, the government’s three budgets promised to spend $146 million on hospital infrastructure, however, only $72.6 million of that was spent.

The 50 per cent shortfall in spending comes in conjunction with a number of hospital and health facility projects languishing on the capital plan for years. Since 2011, renovations and expansions have been promised in Shelburne, Aberdeen, and the South Shore, however, there’s been little movement in the proceeding five years.


It’s rare that budgets come in exactly on target, however, the amount by which the Liberal government is straying from its plan is more than how much the previous NDP government did. The New Democrats underspent by an average of 10 per cent on hospital infrastructure compared to the Liberals spending 50 per cent of what they had originally planned for.


1. Common sense among the Catch-22s

Beryl MacDonald Portrait

Stephen Kimber read Christina Macdonald’s Court Watch column last week and discovered “an intriguing gem of a story under the heading: ’29 years later, father who served seven years for manslaughter of son has name removed from Child Abuse Registry’”:

The story focused on a 30-page decision by Justice Beryl MacDonald concerning an application by a man to have his name removed from the province’s child abuse registry. It is, [Christina] Macdonald noted, a “complex decision” but one that is also “really interesting.”

It is. What was especially interesting to me were the times when Justice MacDonald  stepped outside the usual boundaries of case law and legalese in order to offer a personal human reflection on a case that is all too human in a legal system that is all too rarely.

Click here to read “The judge and the child abuse registry case: common sense among the Catch-22s.”

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

2. Courts

Speaking of courts, in an op-ed for Local Xpress, Michael Lightstone discusses the delicate dance between the courts and the media, and then introduces us to the media liaison committee:

It’s a 13-member group made up of five judges, five media representatives, one journalism professor, one senior lawyer and the communications director for the judiciary. All are expected to serve two-year terms, which can be renewed.

Members of he bench on the liaison committee are selected by the top judges of the respective court, said Jennifer Stairs, director of communications for Nova Scotia’s courts.

“Each of the five courts in the province gets one representative,” she said in an email in late March. “The media representatives are selected by their respective organizations.”

Stairs said the group doesn’t hold regularly scheduled meetings, “although it strives to meet at least once a year.” She said the last time the committee got together was February 2016.

“A large part of my job is resolving issues of access for media and the public. In most cases, I’m able to do that without convening the media liaison committee (and) that approach seems to work well for everyone,” Stairs said.

I’ve been covering courts in Nova Scotia off and on for a dozen years — sometimes the “on” has been every day for months at a time — and yet I’ve never heard of this media liaison committee before today.

Maybe they should hire a former journalist to run PR for them.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

While supporting local charities should be encouraged, there’s something I find a bit annoying about being asked at the checkout in a grocery or any other store, “would you like to donate $2.00 to…” 

I think I do my share when it comes to charity giving otherwise. It’s just that you are put on the spot, so to speak, with other customers in line behind you. If you politely decline, chances are it might make you look or feel like a tightwad.

No doubt there are others who have the same reaction. I’m sure cashiers aren’t all that comfortable with being obliged to ask either.

 David MacCallum, Charlottetown




Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — discussion of a Youth Advisory Council.


City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — adoption of the 2017/18 budget.



No public meetings today.


Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House) — Dannie Hanson, a VP at Louisbourg Seafoods, will be asked a bunch of softball questions about “Rural Nova Scotia and Long Term Plans for Economic Growth.”

On campus



Thesis Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Monday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate David Parsons will defend his thesis, “Volume of Interest Imaging for Image Guided Radiotherapy.”

The joys of academia (Monday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Andrew P. Dicks will speak “On Being a Chemistry Teaching Faculty Member at the University of Toronto.”

Senate (Monday, 3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — they’re playing “Where’s Waldo?” with the agenda again, so I have no idea what’s going on.

Maybe after all the Nova Scotian forests have been clearcut, we can build something like this Rick Joy project in the Arizona desert.

Groovy American stuff (Monday, 7pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Building, School of Architecture) — Architect Rick Joy will speak on “Staging Life.”


No public events.

In the harbour

Atlantic Cartier. Photo: Halifax Examiner

3am: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
5am: CSCC Shanghai, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Sagunto, Spain
5am: OOCL Antwerp, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
6am: AHS Hamburg, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 42 from San Juan, Puerto Rico
6am: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Algeciras, Spain

Graphic: Canadian Navy

8am: Barge JG Burke, towed by Tug Thomas, arrives at Pier 9 from Jersey City, New Jersey. The Burke is a caisson construction barge/dry dock designed by JMS Naval Architects for McNally Construction of Hamilton, Ontario, and is moving here for construction of the new $80 million jetty at the Halifax Dockyard, just north of the Macdonald Bridge:

McNally will use the submergence platform to construct concrete caissons used for the construction of the jetty. The caissons will be formed on the platform by slipform method, at the installation site, one layer at a time, floated free, and then stacked onto a prepared rock mattress by filling them with rock ballast.

The new platform will replace McNally’s current submersible barge with a larger, more capable platform that is easier to operate. JMS engineered the platform to be mobile and highly flexible in order to accommodate a wider range of use including operating as a dry dock to refloat vessels for repair work. When used as a caisson construction platform for the construction of jetties and piers, a key design requirement was that the platform submerge with no trim or list for more controlled and stable operations.

The new platform is based on an existing 250’ x 75’ x 16’ deck barge. Large external buoyancy tanks have been installed at each corner of the barge with supports engineered and designed by JMS to allow the tanks and supports to be removed when the vessel is not being operated as a submersible platform. The ability to remove the buoyancy tanks and supports and carry them on the platform deck allows the platform to be transported through the 78’ wide locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Once the platform is at the construction site, the buoyancy tanks are reattached and a clear working deck of 150’ x 65’ is made available with clear access from three sides. The vessel also benefits from increased stability provided by the attached buoyancy tanks expanding the overall beam to 101’.

The barge will be here through the summer.

And is it just me, or does it seem like we’re narrowing and filling in the harbour at an alarming rate? On the Halifax side, there are several hundred acres of new land extending into the Bedford Basin near Africville, the giant Pier 9 complex south of the MacKay Bridge, Irving Shipyard’s behemoth, this new Dockyard jetty, and the Queen’s Marque construction out into the harbour. On the Dartmouth side, there’s King’s Wharf  and the proposed Shannon Park infill. At this rate, we soon won’t need any bridges; we’ll just be able to hop over the narrow channel separating the two cities.

10am: OOCL Antwerp, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
11am: CSCC Shanghai, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: Athens Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
5pm: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Mariel, Cuba
6pm: Tug Thomas, sails from Pier 9 back to New Jersey, leaving Barge JG Burke here


That full moon brought out the demons last night.

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

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  1. I bet one of them is CPC candidate Matt Whitman. He’s been caught in a couple of whoppers in the past year. His mouth has a problem. One of these days his head is gonna explode.

  2. Re: Charitable donations at stores

    Increasingly big corporations, particularly Sobeys, are discouraging charities from working with them to seek engagement with their communities. For example for a small community group to try and raise a few dollars at a table at a Sobey’s store, the Charity has to produced legal proof of $5 million in liability insurance, That has nothing whatsoever to do with actual legal liability and everything to do with Sobey’s telling small charities to $%&# off by placing the blame on someone else.

    1. My kids have bagged groceries at Sobey’s to raise money for their sports teams and no-one required them to have insurance.

  3. With respect to Mr. MacCallum’s Cranky Letter of the Day: Don’t feel guilty about declining that donation. It is corporate charity. Front-end staff are instructed to ask customers. Most wouldn’t ask if their jobs didn’t depend on it. My polite response to all of them: sorry I chose to give to small charities and not to corporate charity initiatives.

  4. The false ill family member story is particularly troubling. I think it’s important that we (and the journalists who represent us) respect the privacy of people who really are dealing with personal matters. I don’t know how to continue to offer that protection if some of the time that explanation is a lie.

  5. Re: Steve Kimber’s column on the Mdm. Justice MacDonald’s decision to remove a Nova Scotia man from the child abuse register: excellent column on a superb decision about an important, chronic, underreported problem. Everyone should read it. Which means, of course, everyone should SUBSCRIBE!

  6. The problem with the failure of the journalism business model is that only organizations which have external funding sources are likely to survive: state run media like the CBC or oligarch run media like the NYT, Washington Post, Huffington Post, etc. Another problem is the willingness of governments to collude with international powers like Facebook and Google to censor what they call ‘fake news’. Disturbing times.

  7. I will be interesting to see who on Council lied to a reporter. We should have a pool…