1. Northern Pulp wants to burn biomass

The sign at the main entrance to the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County identifies it as a Paper Excellence company. Photo Joan baxter
Northern Pulp A Paper Excellence company. Photo: Joan Baxter

“Northern Pulp plans to restart the power boiler at the Abercrombie Point pulp mill in Pictou County to burn biomass, which it would sell to an unnamed ‘local energy authority,'” reports Joan Baxter:

The plan, oddly named the “Power Island Option,” is detailed in an affidavit filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia on April 24 by Carlo Dal Monte, Paper Excellence Canada Holdings vice president energy and business development.

The company says it plans to burn trees felled in post-tropical storm Fiona. As Jennifer Henderson reported, in December the Houston government changed regulations to require Nova Scotia Power to use more electricity generated from biomass, not less, even though environmentalists say biomass is an environmental accounting fraud when it comes reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The changed biomass regulations appear to be an attempt to address two problems: provide a market for forestry companies that have lost their Northern Pulp buyer since the mill was closed, and to replace power not being delivered by the Muskrat Falls hydro project. The wide woodland devastation caused by Fiona provides a gloss for the scheme.

But Baxter reports that Nova Scotia Power says it has not been approached about the Northern Pulp biomass plan. I wonder if the “Island” part of “Power Island Option” refers to Prince Edward Island?

In any event, Baxter goes on to describe the dilapidated and environmentally destructive boiler at Northern Pulp, and the legal and political maneuvering by the company as it moves through the creditor protection process.

Click here to read “Northern Pulp wants to burn biomass and sell the energy.”

2. Houston government won’t talk about Paper Excellence

Smoke billows out from the stacks of a pulp mill at night. The mill is located near a body of water and there's a boat in the foreground. The mill it lit up with many lights.
Photo courtesy of Tony DeCoste Photo-Video

This item is written by Joan Baxter.

Premier Tim Houston’s government doesn’t want to talk about Northern Pulp and Paper Excellence.

At least that is what Progressive Conservative MLA Kent Smith told the Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development at its agenda-setting meeting this week, when NDP MLA Gary Burrill proposed adding Paper Excellence as a topic for the committee. 

In his preamble to the motion, Burrill said he saw the topic as a “cross-party” one for all three political parties, and went on to explain why:

Our forests are a hugely valuable resource, and this government as well as previous governments have committed to their protection, most particularly through the adoption of the Lahey Report recommendations.

We have seen through Northern Pulp some of the very difficult impacts that the mismanagement of this industry can have on environment, on communities, and in the long term as we see on rural economies.

A recent investigation internationally has shone new light on the corporate structure of Northern Pulp and on Paper Excellence, which has been quickly in a position of international concentration over the recent past. This has raised many questions about the parent company of Northern Pulp association with foreign governments and with other corporate entities that are commonly associated with very destructive forest practices.

So while the mill has of course closed, we are nevertheless in the position in Nova Scotia that the company owns 3% of the province’s forests, is actually harvesting on Crown lands, and this is all being done in the context that the company owes our province millions of dollars. So people of the province have questions and this motion envisions that this question has a cross-party legitimate call on the attention of this committee. 

Burrill’s motion was simply that the committee approve the topic of Paper Excellence and government support for the forestry industry as an addition to the other topics decided upon at the agenda-setting meeting. 

In response, Eastern Shore MLA Kent Smith said:

Unfortunately we are not in a position to support this motion right now. There is legal action right now underway, court proceedings not appropriate to discuss at the present time. Paper Excellence is also in the process of their Class II environmental assessment. They’ve got a year to complete an environmental assessment so we feel it’s not appropriate to discuss at this time. 

The Progressive Conservative majority in the committee voted down the motion. 

Never mind all that money — more than $86 million — that Nova Scotians are owed, and the pending lawsuit for $450 million that Paper Excellence has filed in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court against Nova Scotians. While they’re in court, Paper Excellence won’t be invited to answer questions from officials elected by the people of this province.

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3. Halifax should ban e-scooters

A white woman with long dark hair tied back and wearing a teal green jacket and black jeans stands on a sidewalk holding a black labrador dog in a harness. On the grassy area next to the sidewalk is an orange sign that says detour. It's a sunny day on the street that is lined with houses and trees.
Milena Khazanavicius and her guide dog Hope will be giving a tour for Jane’s Walk. Credit: Suzanne Rent

“Halifax councillors still aren’t sure what to do about the east and west ends of the proposed Almon Street bike lane,” reports Zane Woodford, who then goes into great detail about the issues faced by a plan to create an east-west bike lane across the northern peninsula, which is badly needed. It’s the kind of reporting only a beat reporter can do with clarity.

Click here to read “Partially-protected Almon Street bike lanes and more from Halifax’s transportation committee.”

But there’s a second item in the same article I want to address: e-scooters:

Advocates for blind and partially-sighted Haligonians are asking councillors to get a handle on e-scooters on city sidewalks.

Milena Khazanavicius and Lui Greco, manager of regulatory affairs and advocacy in Atlantic Canada for CNIB Halifax, made a presentation to the committee on Thursday.

Khazanavicius, who is blind, told councillors she’s had several run-ins with e-scooters zipping past her on sidewalks.

“These machines are fast,” Khazanavicius said.

She’s also had issues with the e-scooters being left on the sidewalks unoccupied.

The provincial government adopted amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act last year to legalize the scooters, ban them from sidewalks, and limit speed to 32 km/h.

Khazanavicius and Greco said they’d like to see the rental e-scooters banned outright. But they asked councillors to further limit their speed, create designated parking, and ensure they’re not used on sidewalks.

I completely agree. Those damned things are getting out of hand.

Just yesterday, I came upon about a dozen scooters on the sidewalk next to Citadel Hill, on Ahern Avenue across from the high school. They weren’t left there by students; rather, it’s the companies that own the scooters that drop them off in what it thinks are desirable locations.

I’ve always hated the scooters. When I was in Paris in 2018, the city was overrun by them. I watched delivery vans drop hundreds of scooters off in the early mornings outside Metro stations and parks and along busy pedestrian corridors, and there most of them sat for the entire day, unused. Joggers tripped over them, people pushing strollers had a hell of a time with them; I have no idea how blind people dealt with them, and besides, they simply cluttered up what is otherwise a lovely streetscape.

Not many people actually used the things. There were so many of them lying around that of course some small percentage of people used them for their commute, but mostly they were novelty items for tourists and teenagers, mechanizing and energizing what should have been a nice leisurely walk through the most beautiful city on the planet, and instead turning the streets and sidewalks into mayhem.

The e-scooter business is parallel to Uber (and now Uber is buying up e-scooter companies): it doesn’t actually make money. It’s an investment bubble, with billions of dollars going into the hope that one day, far in the future, there will be a profit, and the sheer scale of the industry will bring a meaningful return. It won’t.

Just as we’re seeing Uber rates soar to meet the economic reality of the market, e-scooter rental prices will have to become so expensive that teenagers can’t afford them at all and tourists will opt instead for another glass of wine at the cute corner café where they pretend they’re Hemingway; the companies will go kaput, while the machines fill up landfills around the globe.

In the meantime, however, we’ve got this terrible mess littering our cities.

So I was happy to see that earlier this month, Parisians finally and sanely voted to ban e-scooters. Reports The Guardian:

Parisians have voted to rid the streets of the French capital of rental electric scooters, with an overwhelming 90% of votes cast supporting a ban, official results show.

Paris was a pioneer when it introduced e-scooters, or trottinettes, in 2018 as the city’s authorities sought to promote non-polluting forms of urban transport.

But as the two-wheeled vehicles grew in popularity, especially among young people, so did the number of accidents: in 2022, three people died and 459 were injured in e-scooter accidents in Paris.

Paris has almost 15,000 e-scooters across its streets, operated by companies including Lime, Dott and Tier. Detractors argue that e-scooter users disrespect the rules of the road and regularly flout a ban on riding on pavements. The vehicles are also often haphazardly parked or thrown into the River Seine.

In June 2021, a 31-year-old Italian woman was killed after being hit by an e-scooter with two passengers onboard while walking along the Seine.

Why the hell would anyone use an e-scooter along the Seine when they could, you know, walk along the Seine? Christ on a fucking stick, people have no damned sense at all.

To get 90% of Parisians to agree on anything at all is simply amazing, but the vote demonstrates that those with the most experience with the machines hate them nearly universally.

Halifax has a choice. We can go through the e-scooter mayhem, the death and destruction, the blind-tripping, the clutter and litter, the environmental waste, or we could jump right to the sensible banning.

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4.Hey baby, I’m a sexagenarian’

A young woman sits on a pink sofa chatting with an older woman who is holding her phone up to show the younger woman what's on the screen,
From the Jems Condoms ‘F#cking Old” campaign. Credit: Jems

“Is it time to have ‘the sex talk’ with grandma and grandpa?” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

As sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in people aged 60 and older continue to trend upwards, a cheeky new campaign called ‘F#cking Old’ is encouraging seniors and those who care about them to engage in conversations about safer sex.

Public Health Agency of Canada data shows that from 2011 to 2020, there was a 176% increase in gonorrhea cases in people 60 years and older, a 62% increase in syphilis, and a 42% bump in chlamydia cases in that age group. 

The campaign notes that the rise in cases can be attributed to the many seniors leaving long-term, monogamous relationships and entering the dating scene unaware of the risks associated with STIs and hookup culture. 

Apparently, I’m now a “senior.”

Click here to read “Talking sex with seniors: campaigns encourage conversations about risks of STIs, hookup culture.”

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5. Doctor recruitment

Premier Tim Houston is on the telephone. Words on the screen read: "Calling all doctors Premier Tim Houston is picking up the phone to ask doctors to live and work in Nova Scotia. You'll talk to a recruiter within 24 hours and you could get a job offer within 10 days."
Premier Tim Houston is featured in an ad campaign for doctor recruitment. Credit: Premier's Office

“Neither the Nova Scotia Health Authority nor the Department of Health & Wellness will confirm a a claim about doctor recruitment made by Premier Tim Houston on April 4 in the legislature,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Houston was replying to a question from NDP leader Claudia Chender who was concerned about the number of family doctors retiring and the lack of access to a doctor or nurse practitioner for a growing number of people — now at more 142,000 Nova Scotians. 

In his response to Chender, Houston said that “We have recruited 148 doctors over the past year for a net gain in the range of 74.”

If Houston’s statement is accurate, that’s a drop from the previous year (2021) when the province saw a net gain of 95 doctors, according to numbers released by the Office of Healthcare Professionals Recruitment. 

Click here to read “If Tim Houston is right, Nova Scotia is recruiting fewer doctors.”

I spent entirely too much time this morning watching the video of rotating Nova Scotian scenes on the premier’s doctor recruitment website. I have to wonder who the pitch is aimed at.

A gofer swings a club. Words on the screen read: "Calling all doctors Premier Tim Houston is picking up the phone to ask doctors to live and work in Nova Scotia. You'll talk to a recruiter within 24 hours and you could get a job offer within 10 days."
Credit: Premier's Office

First, is obviously the traditional Golfer Doctor. Kids, when I was a kid, all the doctors took off at noon on Wednesday to hit the links. I’m serious: every doctor golfed on Wednesday afternoons. Expectant mothers just had to hold it in, heart attack victims were shit out of luck, car crash victims bled out at the scene.

Five people are raising their hands in the air. Words on the screen read: "Calling all doctors Premier Tim Houston is picking up the phone to ask doctors to live and work in Nova Scotia. You'll talk to a recruiter within 24 hours and you could get a job offer within 10 days."
Credit: Premier's Office

Next is a group of what look like Druid Docs performing an ancient Eisteddfod ceremony to Silvanus, the god of the woods and uncultivated lands. To each their own, but when it comes to, say, a cholecystectomy, I’m a big fan of Western medicine and don’t really want a bunch of folk religion brought into the operating room.

A group of people clink beer cups together at a beer garden. Words on the screen read: "Calling all doctors Premier Tim Houston is picking up the phone to ask doctors to live and work in Nova Scotia. You'll talk to a recruiter within 24 hours and you could get a job offer within 10 days."
Credit: Premier's Office

Then there are the Drunk Docs downing a bunch of pints at the Stillwell Beer Garden. I’m all for folks unwinding at the beer garden after a hard day’s work, but I find this an odd appeal to health-conscious doctors.

There are other scenes — doctors riding their bikes across the Musquodoboit Trail trestle, doctors at a campfire, doctors paddling kayaks, doctors at a vineyard, etc. It looks like a tourism promotion video, which is fine as far as it goes, but isn’t this a bit of a bait and switch? “Come to Nova Scotia where you could do all this cool stuff if you weren’t working 100 hours a week.”

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6. School violence

The back of a male teacher in a black and white striped shirt is shown as he writes with chalk on a green board. A student's arm and leg is visible as they text on a cell phone.
Credit: Pixabay

“Teachers and educational specialists who participated in a recent Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) survey say violence is increasing in the province’s schools,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.

I’m skeptical. First, an online survey is not at all scientific, and even if it were, I don’t think that would be the best way to track school violence.

Second, there’s always been school violence. In my parochial elementary school, the nuns beat the shit out of us — yardsticks across our hands, pulling our ears, throwing us against lockers; I wouldn’t doubt it if Todd McGraw still has a mark on his back from the time Sister David threw him into a door knob. At my Catholic High School, a priest threw books and trash cans at misbehaving students, and there were full-on brawls between students in the hallways, blood spattered everywhere, broken bones resulting. Here in Nova Scotia, race riots in and outside of schools have been an unfortunate but recurring feature for decades. Violence in schools is nothing new.

Perhaps, however, there has been an uptick in classroom violence related to mental health issues resulting from pandemic isolation. I don’t know that that’s true, I’m just postulating for argument’s sake. But if so, what are we going to do about it?

Too often, the response to the perception of increased school violence is: put cops in schools! But this is both ineffective and counterproductive, as bringing teenagers into the criminal justice system makes it that much harder for them to resolve the life and emotional issues facing them.

A practical approach to addressing violence among young people, whether it’s increasing or not, is first of all creating welcoming communities that allow kids to be kids and then providing the needed mental health supports for those who need individual help.

In terms of the schools themselves, teaching coping skills and the nonviolence training can not just reduce physical violence but also lead to kids growing into an adult society that relies less on brute force to resolve problems, whether that’s creating a police state or waging war.

If the union wants the school system to implement nonviolence training for kids, I’m all for it; if they just want cops, no.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Yesterday, Nova Scotia reported no new COVID deaths — none for the April 18-24 reporting period, and none from previously reporting periods newly announced.

So the total COVID death toll from throughout the pandemic hasn’t changed — 841 deaths, 354 of whom have died since July 1, 2022.

There were, however, 19 people admitted to hospital in the April 18-24 period due to COVID.

Nova Scotia Health reported the current (as of yesterday) COVID hospitalization status (not including the IWK):
• in hospital for COVID: 12 (fewer than five are in the ICU)
• in hospital for something else but have COVID: 53
• in hospital who contracted COVID after admission: 25

Those last two figures are coming down significantly, which is good news.

It’s too soon to say with certainty, but the last few weekly reports are suggesting a decrease in overall COVID activity. If this trend continues, it’s possible that COVID is progressing into a seasonal disease like the flu, with increased activity as people gather indoors in winter months, and less as people go outside more in the summer.

That’s just speculation on my part. Anything could happen.

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No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

10:30: Atlantic Marlin, cargo barge, moves from IEL to Dartmouth Cove
11:30: MSC Soraya, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Sines, Portugal
12:00: Zim China, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
16:00: MSC Manzanillo, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
16:30: Neptune Koper, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
18:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
21:30: MSC Soraya sails for sea
Cruise ships this weekend:
Saturday: Ocean Navigator, up to 320 passengers
Sunday: Ocean Explorer, up to 162 passengers 

Cape Breton
13:00: SFL Trinity, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
14:00: Aqualegacy, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from Saint John
17:00: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, moves from Nova Scotia Power (Point Tupper) to Aulds Cove quarry


I had planned to tool around the garden today, but my asshole boss is making me work instead.

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Tim Bousquet

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

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Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is an award-winning Nova Scotian journalist and author of seven books, including "The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest." Website:;...

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  1. My Dear Examiner reader,
    as a woman who is Blind..let me tell you that I in fact have had actual ‘ run ins’ since going to city Hall with this issue many a fellow human has contacted me to tell me of ‘actual’ run ins.
    Further more, just because a e-scooter user may not ‘run’ you over numerous elderly folks I know have been shaken off their feat and stumbled, or tripped on the sidewalk because the scooters came from behind and frightened them. Remember those who are deaf and hard of hearing, those who are Blind, those who use wheel chairs and cannot move the blasted machines out of the way of path when they have been recklessly abandoned! WIDER BIKE lanes is what we need!

    And having spoken to a vendor of these machines who tries to do his best..ignorant, selffishe, reckless humans that dwell here in HrM still go and behave like the rear ends of a Donkey.

    People don’t report issues that are dangerous and hazardous on our ‘sidewalks’ because people are feeling exhausted from it all..and so we may think there is not a problem with e-scooter reckless useage and abandonment but it is there…take a walk in the neighborhood where Ilive and you’ll see it! Take a walk on the board walk and you’ll experience it! Social media was great..and now looke at the damage it has done.. andso are the e-scooters. Paris did its best..and it did not work! And, for clearity..we speak of kick E-scooters that are rentals. Not ‘mobility scooters’!

    its terrifying these days to cross a marked crosswalk and I’d like to have the feeling of feeling ‘safe’ and actually ‘being safe ‘ on my sidewalk back!

  2. Totally agree about scooters! I live near (but not on, as sub-let ads would have you believe) the Dal campus, and those things are dropped everywhere. My neighbour was nearly arrested for dragging a bunch out of his driveway. Apparently they run out of juice (money) and get dropped…wherever. The company doesn’t respond if you call them to complain and they are unsafe on sidewalks or when driven by inebriated students on the street. Vive la France (or Paris, at least!).

  3. Gee, we’d better ban those e-scooters. They “litter” our sidewalks, because apparently no one is using them, but they’re also apparently a menace, because of all the people using them. Like skateboards, rollerblades and bicycles before them, folk complain about scary “run-ins,” but reports of actual collisions and/or injuries always seem to be so much vapour. They’re far more environmentally friendly—and cheaper and more versatile—than the gasoline-powered taxis they’re replacing, but they’re also labeled as “environmental waste.”

    I feel like the real problem about them is that they’re new-fangled. As Douglas Adams pointed out, anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works, anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it, and anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

  4. As an owner of a scooter who tries to stay on the road whenever possible, I don’t see how they are any different than bikes or should be treated any differently. They are an emission free and affordable form of transportation. More bike lanes solves this. Period.

    There’s a simple solution for the rentals too. If they are not in racks or locked and secured to something, treat them as abandoned vehicles or litter and take them away.

  5. Re Northern Pulp
    It doesn’t matter where the so-called biomass originates; it still emits CO2 when burned. And the detritus from Fiona should be left to decompose in place, where it will benefit the forest ecosystem. Also, why should “legal action” or an environmental assessment shut down public discussion? A decent government lawyer in this case would look for ways to get around these alleged barriers rather than succumb to them.

  6. Northern Pulp needs to hear two explicit words collectively from the Province of Nova Scotia until they drop that malicious lawsuit. The fact the province is even talking to that corrupt corporation is infuriating. As for all that hurricane windfall, we have a biomass plant already run by another questionable corporation. They should be ordered to accept the windfall biomass.

  7. The rental e-scooters are a scourge, but I don’t see why personally owned e-scooters are a problem. And no, I don’t own one.

    1. “but mostly they were novelty items for tourists and teenagers”. Not sure that tourists driving these things in Halifax is a good idea. I was in the Clyde St. cannabis store the other day and noticed that the store seemed pretty busy. The clerk told me that there is a discernible jump in sales when the cruise ship season arrives. Do we really want a bunch of stoned tourists ripping through the downtown?

    2. Thanks for this comment – I was quite dismayed when I saw the title of the morning file as “e-scooters should be banned” – our family just got one to try to use the household gas-burning vehicle less, and the title kindof stung. I would appreciate if the Examiner would change the article title to “rental e-scooters should be banned” (or even “better legislated” ). .. Our family chose an e-scooter instead of an e-bike because of storage constraints – the e-scooter takes up a lot less space – but we use it just the same as an e-bike and in the few months we’ve owned it we’ve used our car a lot less! I am dismayed that the Examiner is contributing to painting all e-scooter users with the same brush and appearing to suggest we shouldn’t be allowed to use this super quiet and eco-friendly car alternative any more 🙁

      1. Tim did announce recently that he is officially an old geezer that is quite crotchity to boot (insert winking thingie here). Grumpy old men unite, but don’t toss the e-scooters into the harbour.
        When I was a wee lad (I am almost officially an old geezer myself) we had the original e-scooters that worked by the power of our leg.