1. Drill, baby, drill:

Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Nova Scotia is once again expressing concerns over the impact of federally mandated marine protected areas,” reports Paul Withers for the CBC:

This time, it is Premier Stephen McNeil — just back from a big oil and gas conference in Houston — who says offshore oil and gas exploration should be allowed to take place in areas with environmental restrictions.

“Many international companies believe we have resources off our coast that we have not tapped into and we want the ability to do so,” McNeil told reporters Thursday after a cabinet meeting.

2. Indigenous Games

“Halifax (K’jipuktuk) has been chosen to host the 2020 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), which will be the largest multi-sporting event to be held in Nova Scotia. This also marks the first time the games will be hosted in Atlantic Canada,” reads a press release from the premier’s office:

The Government of Nova Scotia has committed $3.5 million to support the games. The event will take place over eight days, which will include more than 5,000 Indigenous participants from over 756 nations in 15 sporting events. Events will be held at various locations in Halifax Regional Municipality and in Millbrook.

3. SMU legal bills

Archelaus Jack. (Screen cap from a CFL promotional video)

“Saint Mary’s University has spent almost $450,000 on legal fees since last fall in an attempt to prove a football player was eligible to suit up for the team last season — and the bill is growing,” reports Richard Woodbury for the CBC:

Last fall, the eligibility of wide receiver Archelaus Jack was called into question because of time he previously spent as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ practice roster in 2016.

The legal battle played out in courts in Nova Scotia and Ontario, and included a Remembrance Day hearing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court over whether the Loney Bowl championship game would go ahead.

To date, the fees total $447,342.51, of which $252,276.95 comes from McInnes Cooper in Nova Scotia, while the remaining $195,065.56 was for work the legal firm Blakes did in Ontario.

4. Debunking the “World’s second-biggest harbour” myth

It’s a slow news day, so rather than writing about the latest sportsball happenings or a white lobster, I’ve decided to debunk the myth that Halifax Harbour is the “world’s second-biggest harbour.” (See, for example, Tourism Nova Scotia’s claim.)

I’m not sure where this myth originated, but it’s been around so long that locals say it reflexively. I hear it nearly every week. However, anyone who has, you know, visited the rest of the world, knows it’s not at all true. I grew up in Norfolk, and know that Hampton Roads is much larger than Halifax Harbour. As are San Francisco Bay and New York Harbour. So Halifax is down to number #4, just off the top of my head.

But don’t take my word for it. There’s a cool little online tool called mapfrappe that “shows you the relative sizes of different things in the world: cities, provinces, parks, buildings, countries, etc.,” so I used it to compare Halifax Harbour to other harbours around the world.

I stole this idea, incidentally, from a guy named Colm, who like me got tired of hearing that his local harbour — Cork Harbour, in Ireland — is the world’s second-biggest harbour. “The world’s second-biggest harbour!” must be some weird local boosterism thing that has spread across the oceans. Maybe boostering people make up the nonsense claim because it sounds just plausible enough to be true, but think no one will actually check it out.

So here’s the mapfrappe outline of Halifax Harbour:

I outlined the harbour to include all of Bedford Basin, The Narrows, all of the Inner Harbour, the Outer Harbour to a line stretching from Point Pleasant Park to McNabs Island, and the stretch of the Dartmouth waterfront that includes the oil depots and the Autoport.

Now let’s compare that to other harbours.

Hampton Roads. I know Hampton Roads well, so I’m annotating it to show that I’m not overstating the extent of the harbour:

San Francisco Bay. Halifax Harbour would fit entirely just in the south bay area. The shipping and industrial areas of San Francisco Bay are even larger than I thought in comparison to Halifax Harbour — about 15 times as big:

New York Harbor. A closer comparison, but New York is still larger:

Houston. Again in the same ballpark, size-wise, but Houston wins:

Seattle. Not even close.

So that’s five harbours just in the United States that are bigger than Halifax Harbour. Let’s go around the world…

Rio de Janeiro:


Guangzhou–Hong Kong:




Kuwait City:

I could continue, but you get the point.

Next slow news day, I’m going to tackle the “deepest” part of the Halifax Harbour myth.


No public meetings.

On campus


Thesis Defence, Sociology and Social Anthropology (Friday, 12pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Paul Armstrong will defend his thesis “The Intellectual Genealogy of the Antigonish Movement.” His abstract:

“Civil society” has been re-established in the social sciences as a central theoretical motif during the last twenty-five years – particularly within the fields of historical sociology, political philosophy, and moral theology. Yet, a deeper understanding of its conceptual history is essential to advance the present efforts to develop a better theory.

In this study in historical sociology, I trace the emergence of the modern imaginary of civil society and explore two major ideologies of resistance to it. The study focusses on various inflection points in this history, which together, provide an overview of, what I view as, the critical theoretical issues. I then discuss the intellectual roots of the Antigonish Movement, and show how it drew from each of these major ideologies of resistance. In the early years of the twentieth century, the “Antigonish Movement” in Nova Scotia was instituted using a Catholic counter-model of political organization, and an Anglo-French counter-model of économie sociale, to build a co-operative movement, a vision of co-operation which was subsequently widely emulated. While there has been considerable scholarly attention to various aspects of this Movement, particularly to its adult education methodology, this study contributes to a better understanding of the Movement’s intellectual origins, and may contribute to an improved understanding of the remaining intellectual problems in developing a coherent theory of civil society suitable for the present moment.

In this last aim, the study would be a prolegomenon to what Adam Ferguson, the Eighteenth-Century Scottish moral philosopher, would call “moral science,” which he defined as “the study of what men ought to be, and of what they ought to wish, for themselves and for their country.”

Saint Mary’s

Employment and Social Development Canada Hackathon (Friday, 10am, Science 126, Centre for Computing & Data Analytics) — oh boy. From the event listing:

In the spirit of collaboration and newfangledness, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has partnered with Saint Mary’s University’s Master of Science in Computing and Data Analytics program to host a hackathon. The hackathon will take place May 4-6; and will have a theme of improving service delivery, with an emphasis on people living in poverty.

The mission of Employment and Social Development Canada, including the Labour Program and Service Canada, is to build a stronger and more inclusive Canada, to support Canadians in helping them live productive and rewarding lives and improving Canadians’ quality of life. However, the needs of Canadians are changing, and in order for ESDC to meet its objectives, the department must continue to evolve and innovate how it delivers services to Canadians. In order to understand where the service delivery gaps are, ESDC has partnered with Saint Mary’s University’s on this hackathon, to gather new ideas and build on our diversity and expertise to help improve services for Canadians living in poverty.

We are seeking social entrepreneurs with a passion for computing science, data analytics, statistics, business, design, and newfangledness to help improve service delivery, create new innovations, and solve complex problems.

We’ve been through this before. Here’s my not-so-newfangled way to address poverty: instead of dicking around with social enterprise and data analytics and website design and service delivery that merely further enriches the already rich, just give more money to poor people. The problem isn’t that there isn’t the right app or that we need to invent some newfangled analytics system; the problem is that poor people don’t have enough money. Give them money.

In the totally not second-biggest harbour

3am: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
10am: YM Modesty, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
11:45am: Glorious Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
9:30pm: YM Modesty, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York


Instead of playing around with mapfrappe, I probably should’ve answered some emails.

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

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  1. There’s something to be studied in the phenomenon of cities claiming to be the second best/biggest/most something.

    I give a whole activism talk based on the idea that when I was in law school, Fredericton claimed to have the second highest gay community, per capita, in North America. When I tried to pin that down, I found literally dozens of cities that make that same claim. (Number 1 is always San Fransisco, no one even questions it.) Of course, give it a moment’s thought and you realize this is not something that gets measured (especially back then), and you’d never be able to accurately determine it. I never even found a reference to a study or anything, it was always just a “known” fact.

    There’s something strangely nice about it. Don’t claim to be the best, or biggest, or someone will prove you wrong. But claim to be second, it’s just humble enough to seem plausible, still pretty impressive, and people are somehow more likely to swallow it unthinkingly. It’s adorable, really.

  2. After a certain point does depth matter much? There is only so much depth you need even for the largest ships.

  3. If you repeat a lie often enough, does it become a fact? For some people apparently. I am laughing my ass off at this Goliath-sized myth slain by a few well-aimed pebbles of truth.

  4. Everyone is quibbling about halifax harbour when Stephen McNeil is gung-ho about destroying the world for a bit of fossil fuels.

  5. McNeil can go fuck himself. Am I allowed to swear? That’s all I can think of doing when I contemplate the awfulness of our esteemed head of state.

  6. I completely reject the idea that “largest” should be defined by surface area. I would accept volume, with qualifications. I’d prefer something annoying detailed, like “volume of contiguous space through which a Panamax vessel can safely navigate” that would cost millions of dollars to actually measure. 🙂

  7. All of the important issues that have been dealt with by The Halifax Examiner and this is what attracts the most discussion ever?

    1. I second your apparent concern, Ken. Folks, let’s take our eyes off our navels for a second and, maybe, give some attention to the top story in today’s issue of The Examiner.

      Does Stephen McNeil not realise what a simple-minded tool he sounds like when he says stupid shit like this? What part of ‘Marine Protected Area’ does he not understand?

      1. It would ge great if there were any other reasonable alternatives. Same at the federal level. I hate always having minimal choices in the middle. Also I’m super excited about the indigenous games. Any dates yet?

  8. Singapore has the most container cranes of any port; try counting them.
    Name 3 places where ships load cargo and are not ports.

    1. Zanzibar. They call it a “port” but officially it’s a “Roads” or “Roadstead.” It’s also the only container terminal I’ve ever seen that exists in both the 20th century & the 14th century. One dock services both container ships with cranes and loading equipment and about 50 feet away half-naked old men in loincloths and turbans are carrying bags of cement on their shoulders out of dhows. It was pretty amazing to sit out at anchor and watch the dhows tack in from the mainland on the afternoon trade winds.

    2. I’d take a stab at the 2nd being St. Helena, in the South Atlantic, which is even less of a port than Zanzibar.

      1. Look closer to home. Hebron,Hibernia, and down in the Gulf of Mexico the LOOP is now able to handle crude oil exports. Angola, N Sea and many more oil producing countries have offshore loading terminals.

  9. Halifax: Home to the most heavily qualified harbour-related claims east of Montreal, north of New York, and west of St. John’s Newfoundland.

  10. I just love your slow news days! And just look at the traffic up above about this one.

  11. Since you waded into this, perhaps it’s time to do some reporting by consulting someone who actually knows something. There must be an expert or two who can sort this out. We’ve heard a variety of versions of the claim here. It was my understanding that the claim was about the largest, in depth, natural harbour (meaning undredged) after Sydney. This claim may be wrong. Let’s find out from an independent, authoritative source, who is not subject to Tim’s abject hatred for even the least scintilla of local boosterism. (It literally makes him wretch more than the thought of boarding an airplane.) And FWIW, no matter its ranking, the harbour, which is long and deep, is the signature feature that is Halifax’s raison d’être and why the Mi’kmaq called it Chebucto, meaning something like “damn big harbour.”

    1. Literally makes him wretch, huh? So Tim reads this stuff, and then instantly barfs up his breakfast.

  12. I remember being taught that Halifax harbour was the world’s second largest and deepest among the harbours on the East coast of North America that weren’t full of Americans, so that’s why Halifax was a major Royal Navy port.

  13. My father… who spent 30 years wandering the harbours of the world with the RCN… used to like to say that Halifax was THE BIGGEST… ” ice free harbour in Nova Scotia… sort of “.

    In fairness though, a gulf or bay is an arm of the ocean. The places you’ve identified would be called by the sailors of the old seas gulfs or bays. A harbor is any place, natural or artificial, where ships can seek shelter from stormy weather. After a certain point in size, shelter is not provided and it is no longer a ‘safe harbour’.

    1. Before Halifax was founded, they called what we now call Halifax Harbour “Chebucto Bay.” So the distinction doesn’t really hold up.

        1. That occurred to me as well, but it might have to do with the french, I dunno.

  14. Maybe Halifax should take a lesson from McDonald’s and simply pay to trademark “World’s Second-Largest Harbour.”

  15. Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel goes on forever, lovely drive. I recall pre-bridge days when the ferry ride across to Norfolk was lovely time spent watching Man-O-Wars float by.

    1. airc, the tunnel part of the bridge-tunnel is almost exactly a mile long. It’w weird, going through it and realizing (sometimes) that an entire air craft carrier is above your head.

  16. I believe the second largest harbour people have, over time, forgotten some conditions on that claim. If memory serves me right, it is the second largest ice free harbour north of some line that matters to winter shipping. The wiki on the Port says “…., the Port of Halifax is the deepest, wide, ice-free harbour with minimal tides and is two days closer to Europe and one day closer to Southeast Asia (via the Suez Canal) than any other North American East Coast port”

        1. We’re all about exports, man. Newfoundland has entire fleets carrying Flipper Pie to Europe.

          1. Yeah, but Halifax used to be where a lot of exports from inland (which obviously came by rail) were loaded onto boats to go to Europe. Then other harbours which were closer to where the inland exports came from came online, and that’s that.

  17. God damn it, we have the highest tides in the world, surely that makes our harbour world classy?

    1. That would the Bay of Fundy, though I’m not even sure if it is the highest in the world.

  18. To quibble, I’d say the usable or navigable parts of the harbours for large ships is what should matter. Some “harbours” could be enormous but be almost all shallow mud flats, or have rocky shoals and reefs. I think most of Halifax harbour and Bedford Basin are deep enough to be useful, which is why they were used for convoy assembly in two wars. But I don’t doubt your premise.

    Here they like to claim that a long natural sandbar over which a highway runs is the longest of its kind in the world. It isn’t even close, and indeed there is another not 50 miles away which is longer. I walked one in Cape Breton that must be at least four times the length. These bullshits get made up, presumably by drunks in bars or in politicians’ speeches, and then get put into tourist brochures.

  19. I’m guilty of toting ‘second deepest harbour in the world next to Sydney, Australia’.
    Never heard anyone say it was the largest, but alas.

    1. One would think that some of the Norweigian ports, with fjords over a kilometre deep might compete….

      1. A bunch others, too. I have a working list somewhere… but it’ll take forever to find it.