On campus
In the harbour


1. Growth, Austerity and the Future of Nova Scotian Prosperity


The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives yesterday released a report, “Growth, Austerity and the Future of Nova Scotian Prosperity,” written by labour economist Jordan Brennan.

At 46 pages, the report is a short and easy read, but it completely eviscerates the Liberal government’s austerity agenda. Brennan shatters the public myths that Nova Scotia’s debt load is too large (it’s not especially large, and costs of servicing it are decreasing) and that cutting the government workforce helps address demographic challenges (the opposite is true).

You can read the report here.

2. Wide open council races


I was curious about some of the wide open council races — races where there is no incumbent councillor running and with lots of candidates — so I went back and took a look at when Jennifer Watts was first elected in 2008.

The incumbent, Sheila Fougere, was running for mayor, so not in the council race. There were seven candidates, including Watts.

Voter turnout was 43.5 per cent, and Watts won with just 1,519 votes, or 32 per cent of the total votes cast. The next highest vote-getter was Glenn Dodge, with 1,125 votes, 23.7 per cent of the total votes cast.

The districts this time around are about 50 per cent larger than in the 2008 election. So I’m thinking that in a wide open contest — like in Dartmouth Centre, Peninsula North, and Clayton Park — a successful candidate can win with as few as 2,000 votes.

There are many factors that go into winning an election — name recognition, the message, advertising… — but I think the most important factor in these districts is organization, especially getting out the vote.

3. Anne Derrick orders that Irving be gently caressed

Photo: Halifax Examiner
Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has been slapped with $50,000 in penalties in connection with an industrial accident at the Halifax Shipyard in January 2014 that seriously injured a worker,” reports Steve Bruce for Local Xpress:

The company was scheduled to go to trial this week in Halifax provincial court on four charges under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act.

But Irving Shipbuilding actually pleaded out on one of the charges several months ago without any media coverage.

The company accepted responsibility for a charge of failing to take every precaution reasonable to ensure health and safety in the workplace.

Judge Anne Derrick accepted a joint sentencing recommendation from lawyers.

She fined Irving Shipbuilding $10,000 and ordered it to make a $40,000 donation to the provincial Labour Department’s public education trust fund.

Come on Bruce, Slapped??? The payment of $50,000 from Irving to the province is 0.017 per cent of the $300 million the province has given Irving. At this rate, the company could seriously injure 5,999 more workers and still break even.

4. Arabic language radio

Halifax has an Arabic language radio station, reports Jennifer Taplin for Metro:

It’s a mix of news, talk and music in Arabic until 7 p.m. and music in 10 ethnic languages until midnight.

“Every day about 20 hours is dedicated to Arabic and on the weekends, it’s all Arabic,” [ad salesperson Oudai] Altabbaa said.

Right now Altabbaa is the only presence in Halifax. They are broadcasting Halifax content from a dedicated space in their Montreal studio but president Tony Karam said this will change.

“We’re working on building a studio and hiring local hosts and journalists, hopefully before the end of the year,” Karam said.

The station is CHHU, at 99.1 FM.


1. Carbon tax

“There are many good reasons why the provincial government should be getting on with devising a made in Nova Scotia carbon pricing plan,” writes Richard Starr:

However, such rationale has little weight with the Liberals for one simple reason – fear of raising gasoline prices. McNeil himself has made that concern very clear. Interviewed by ATV’s Steve Murphy last Tuesday from a farmer’s field at Greenwich in the Annapolis Valley, McNeil returned several times to the impact that a carbon levy would have on the price paid at the pump by rural residents. According to the Premier, to get anywhere in rural Nova Scotia you need to drive, and when the price of gas goes up you have no choice but to raid one part of your household budget to pay your higher gas bill.

This boilerplate response ignores a couple of things. First off, the carbon-pricing plan can be designed so that low income households receive rebates to offset the carbon levy. Secondly, the more affluent could choose to offset the tax by driving a little less or trading in the 4X4 gas guzzler for something more efficient.

But those considerations are probably not going to move the McNeil Liberals either. Gas prices have been their signature issue, dating back to the days when they were the rurally-based third party in the legislature, desperate for attention. In those days they would occasionally grab a headline with their crusade against the gasoline tax and gas price regulation (which they disingenuously linked with higher gas prices). In power, the Liberals have failed to follow through, leaving in place the tax and regulatory regime they railed against in opposition. Any move by the McNeil Liberals now to increase the tax on gasoline would carry for them the additional downside of broken promises on gas prices.

So at least until after the next provincial election we should expect the Liberals to change the subject when carbon pricing comes up. To protect their rural base they will ignore calls from the left to craft a progressive carbon pricing plan. And to limit the size of the disturbance in the Liberal universe they will reject demands from the Baillie Conservatives to mount a Wall-like stand against a federally-imposed regime. Fancy footwork may be required.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Amherst News:

Monday marked the administrative end of filing an official complaint regarding an issue of racism. It commenced with the ethical issue of standing by, knowing an elected official should be held accountable, or pursuing it knowing the damaging image it would bring to our community.

Considering the onslaught of social media and not so private rumours, a decision was made that a complaint would bring clarity. In fact, it allows for the people involved to heard in a fair manner.

Rumours and innuendoes create deep wounds amongst victims whose attackers are often vicious. There must be a process with a duty to act fairly inclusive of people’s right to be heard before judgment. To do otherwise is plain cowardly.   

What one can not understand going into such a fray is how the issue at hand can be so greatly magnified by the groundbreaking legislative and administrative hurdles due to an absence of jurisprudence with such matters. The administrative delays were frustrating to say the least. The disrespectful social media, private and public behaviours by members of our community and many from afar remain worrisome. 

As the person making the complaint there is an strong sense of disappointment of persons who normally embrace a positive community suddenly distancing themselves. The hate mail…thankful it has a unique basket to be filed in. 

In stark contrast, personal support and encouragement is heartfelt from family, friends and even the most unexpected persons. At the end of the day one never embraces the sense of being alone. 

A decision has finally been rendered. The elected official was deemed to have breached a code of conduct pertaining to the police commission. The corrective action included a reprimand and 90-day suspension from the police commission.

Many procedural processes were learned by the community. Such was especially the case for those persons, who quite frankly did not sign up for such situations, but had the courage to act when required. 

We live in a great, caring and giving community. Our future is bright. It is now a time to heal. There are many new lessons learned.  It’s a time to move forward knowing that our community has the courage to stand in the way of public officials who disrespect others, be it from carelessness or intent.

The standard has been set in that a “Positive Amherst” is one where you can question challenges to our respect for diversity without fear. It has also been clarified that there are accountability mechanisms for elected municipal officials.

Hal Davidson, Amherst

Note: Hal Davidson is the Amherst man who filed a complaint against councillor George Baker, who subsequently admitted to using a racial slur in a restaurant.



Design Review Committee (4pm, City Hall) — the committee will look at a development proposal for the corner of Hollis and Bishop Streets. Here’s the current Google Street View of the site:


And here’s the architect’s rendering of the development proposal:


Never mind the ghost building up above: the power lines will not, of course, be placed underground, nor will the city allow two one-way streets be un-signed. But the real problem with this rendering is that the building will apparently be built on a planet with two suns. Notice how there’s a late afternoon sun that casts the shadow of the buildings on the west side of the street eastward, right to the curb line across the street, such that the proposed building is in full sunlight and in stark contrast. And yet, there is a second sun, a morning sun, that casts a shadow of the tree on the northeast corner of the intersection (a large tree actually exists at that spot) into the intersection — that is, westward. The beret-wearing woman, who appears to be standing in the middle of the street, gets the benefit of both suns, as her face and (importantly!) her breasts cast no shadow at all.

I also hope buddy picks up his dog’s crap.



Legislature sits (10am, Province House) — Pomp! Circumstance!

On campus


Hungry Listening (12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Dylan Robinson, from Queen’s University, presents his current research project, “Against Hungry Listening,” which documents the history of contemporary Indigenous public art across North America.

Heritage (12:30pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building, 5410 Spring Garden Road) — Phil Pacey from Heritage Trust will speak on “Critical Heritage Issues in Halifax in 2016”:

Note, 10am: Due to illness, this talk has been cancelled.

Halifax is an historic city, with hundreds of works of architecture worth keeping. Current examples are the Granville Street National Historic Site, the Dennis Building across from Province House, and the proposed Old South Suburb conservation district, which includes 44 registered heritage properties and 4 national historic sites. The desire for private profit and several urban myths are making protection difficult. The policies that protect historic neighbourhoods need to be retained in the Regional Centre Plan.

Cetacean cognition (3:30pm, Biology 5th floor lounge in the Life Sciences Centre)— Lori Marino will speak on “Learning About Intelligence from Cetaceans.”

Mary Alice Arthur
Mary Alice Arthur

Story Activism (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Mary Alice Arthur will speak on “Take Back the Power of Your Story: Story Activism for the 21st Century.”

Mini Medical School (7pm, Theatre B, 5850 College Street) — Lisa Barrett and Todd Hatchette will speak on “Hepatitis” and “Viral Illnesses,” respectively.

In the harbour

6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
6am: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain

Veendam. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Veendam. Photo: Halifax Examiner

7am: Veendam, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney with up to 1,350 passengers
8am: Carnival Pride, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint John with up to 2,549 passengers; the Pride was diverted from a Caribbean cruise because of Hurricane Matthew
9am: NYK Daedalus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam 
9:45am: Regal Princess, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 4,271 passengers
10:30am: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 23 from Bar Harbor with up to 540 passengers
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
Noon: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
3:30pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
3:30pm: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
6mp: Carnival Pride, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea
6:30pm: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Charlottetown
7:30pm: Regal Princess, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
9:30pm: NYK Daedalus, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York

5:30am: Splendid Ace, arrives at Autoport from Bremerhaven, Germany

Serenade of the Seas. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Serenade of the Seas. Photo: Halifax Examiner

6:45am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 2,580 passengers
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
10:30am: AIDAdiva, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Boston with up to 2,050 passengers
6:30pm: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Boston
7:30pm: AIDAdiva, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Quebec
8:30pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s


Deep thought: Donald Trump is a cross between Rob Ford and Jian Ghomeshi. And not to be ghoulish, but I might put a few chips on the “dies from an overdose before the election” square.

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

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  1. The price of gas from 2011 to 2014, before the global collapse in oil prices, was higher than it would be now even with a Carbon Tax added on, and nobody suffered any dire consequences back then. It’s simple, add the tax, help save the planet.

    1. They should add quadruple the tax then use the proceeds to finance new electric vehicles for residents of the province, it could be administered through the tax system. People would end up paying far less in tax (gas).

      1. Before buying into electric cars we/you should consider the full life cycle cost and the environmental impact.
        And Unifor needs to understand that F150 and Dodge Ram trucks are energy hogs that should not be subsidised by federal grants.

        1. For sure, but the work has already been done. Electric cars win out, a quick search on the web confirms this. There are full-sized EV trucks for about 100k USD. I think they have applications but currently they are used to show off profligate energy use. Money is hardly a relevant factor, only the environment, we can’t continue to choke the earth with our pollution.
          What does Unifor have to do with anything?

  2. Austerity is not economics. It is ideology put into practise.

    Unions are bad hence we will revoke collective bargaining yet hire all sorts of government insiders.

    Poor people living off the government teat need to pull themselves up by their miscreant bootstraps so we will reduce services and benefits to them.

    Austerity is an affront to a fair and equal societ. The world is finding that out. As usual our political leaders are 5 years behind in their thinking and actions. Or perhaps it’s just that Stephen MacNeil is a misanthropic asshole.

  3. I like the development proposal, actually. What I don’t like is the location: This is the closest thing Halifax has to an old-town district, and the building this will replace is a mid-Victorian Italianate building that perfectly complements the style of the area. It just looks like a box now, but it’s actually got an ornamented brick facade under that wood siding. You can see it on page three here:

    If Dexel were proposing this 12 months from now, they’d have a lot more difficulty, because this will by then be under the Old South Suburb heritage district. So they’re squeaking it in. This is almost as bad as the BS they’re pulling on Barrington, where they’re essentially holding two registered heritage buildings hostage to extract concessions from the city.

    Dexel proposes decent buildings, but the company is wildly unimaginative when it comes to integrating old and new, and that makes them unfit to build in a city like Halifax, or in any city with a densely built historic urban fabric. For all of Halifax’s (un-deserved) reputation as heritage-crazed and development-unfriendly, I can’t imagine a demolition like this being so cavalierly proposed and approved anywhere in any other major city or capital in this country. We have especially feeble heritage-conservation regulations, a city council eager to rubber-stamp anything that lands in front of them, a design-review committee with no teeth (or taste, for that matter), and developers who are especially prone to whine and cry about anti-development change-haters strangling our growth–and who have been successful in actually making THAT nonsense a widely accepted “truth” about development in Halifax, when in reality, developers here are operating under a regime that is quite friendly to them. Try pulling this shit in Montreal or Toronto, Dexel, and see how far you get.

    1. Call Mr Lawen and ask for a meeting to express your views. You were angry about the Doyle block and although I provided you with all the contact information for Mr Chedrawe you let the opportunity for constructive dialogue slip away.
      Both developers are easy to engage with, so go for it.

      1. I went to Dexel’s public consultation for the SGR development and contributed there, and in fact I contacted their architect personally over this.

        I received a very nice reply, but they have no interest in substantially altering their plans. I didn’t let anything slip away; the problem is with A: Municipal heritage regulations, and B: mediocre development.

        1. Just keep at it.
          Go to monthly community council meetings. and speak for 5 minutes during the public participation section of the agenda and do the same at the 2017/18 budget session when Planning presents their budget at Finance & Audit committee.
          And find other people with the same concerns and urge them to do the same.
          And engage with other councillors on a one-on-one basis at every opportunity.

  4. The “first past the post” flaw is that if one has a 50% eligible voter turnout and say the candidate wins with only 24% of votes cast because the other 5 candidates received a split for the other 96%, but none achieved better than the winner’s 24%. Then one effectively has a Councillor who really only has the support of 12% of the available voters in that District. One trusts that the newly elected Councillor will honestly represent the residents for his/her District but it remains to be seen if that Councillor actually shares the values for the “majority” of the residents that live in that District, and with out a recall mechanism, one is saddled with that Councillor until the next election. Political parties (Federal and Provincial) do not choose their leaders that way, they have a number of ballot sessions until there is a clear majority winner because they want to have someone at the helm that hopefully truly represents their majority vision for the future of the Party. Unfortunately that is not the case for elected members for the various ridings. In the case for the race for our Mayor, with only two candidates running, a majority win at least means the Mayor hopefully shares the values of the majority of those who voted… those who did not vote get what they deserve… no say in the matter. But Districts where there are more than 2 candidates in the race, “first past the post” does not provide the residents with confidence that the “right” candidate will represent them. Time for a change in how elections are run and won… perhaps, but only if the electorate is willing to pay the price for better certainty, eh?

  5. I live on the north side of that brown building directly to the south of that new development at Hollis/Bishop. I can’t wait to stare directly into the living rooms of my new neighbours. Judging by that rendering and the drawings there will be about 6 metres between my balcony and windows and the south wall of the new building.

    Guess I better invest in some of those daylight bulbs, it’s gonna get DARK in there. It’d be great if we *did* have two suns.


    Epic hahahaa. The only thing Jordan Brennan shattered is his integrity by working for Unifor (this document is in fact Unifor driven, and using CCPA designation is disingenuous). Praise Jesus for the internet so no more trees were shredded to put it in print.

    1. So you have no answer to the sound argument being made in this important report. Just damning the author because of where he works. What a laugh.

      This report, based on facts and sound argument, is a must read.

      1. Absolutely judging the document based on the author and his/their employer. You would be stupid not to. As an ex Unifor member, who’s seen them at their worst, I’ll trust my judgment. Additionally, there’s nothing ‘must read’ about heavily biased biomass from the left or right.

  7. And “slapped” is just journo-cliche. You read it all the time slapped with a fine, slapped with a lawsuit, etc. Just like “the white stuff” for snow. Someone has a list of all these jouro-cliches online somewhere, or did. Of course, I avoid all cliches like the plague.

    1. It’s atrocious that $40,000 is being given to the Labour Department for a number of reasons. That’s just a money shuffle, and you can bet your ass it gets accounted for in future dealings with the government. Secondly, the Labour Department is just a terrible organization, and needs a good house cleaning. Rewarding them for their incompetence is idiocy. There’s a number of worthy organizations where that money would be far better utilized. Not a well thought out punishment.