1. Teacher Appreciation Week

This is National Teacher Appreciation Week. What better time to force a contract on teachers, eh?

It will no doubt be a week of theatrics, true drama, protests, and unexpected twists at Province House.


“The president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union would not rule out a full strike by her members as MLAs started the round-the-clock process of passing legislation to impose a contract on 9,300 public school teachers,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

Liette Doucet told reporters at Province House on Tuesday night that teachers are upset and feeling demoralized by Bill 75.


Doucet would not say if parents and students should prepare for a full strike by teachers before the legislation is passed, likely next Tuesday.

“It remains an option,” she said.


Politicians are taught to “humanize” themselves in interviews by appearing friendly to the interviewer even in the face of tough questioning. The best politicians more or less pull it off, although to my ear there’s usually at least a hint of dishonesty to it.

You can tell when a politician is most concerned about their friendly demeanour by how many times they use the interviewer’s first name. It’s weird being the interviewer in this situation: I want to say, “hey, you don’t know me, stop being overly familiar,” but I let it slide.

Which is to say, count how many times Stephen McNeil says “Steve” in this interview with Steve Murphy, and especially as McNeil is getting pushed by Murphy. No one — ever, no matter how much they are truly friends — says someone’s name so often in honest conversation. It’s the tell: when pressured, McNeil overly relies on his media training.

Maybe McNeil should hire some even-higher-priced PR people to teach him how to respond to interview questions.

2. Measles and vaccination

“Public Health officials have confirmed three cases of the measles in the Halifax area,” reports Local Xpress:

“We have confirmed three cases of measles in the Halifax area and are following up with the contacts of these individuals. We are also investigating to determine how they became infected,” Dr. Trevor Arnason, the medical officer of health for the Halifax area, said in a news release.

Arnason said it is rare to see measles cases in Nova Scotia, and the last confirmed case was reported in 2008.

Most people are protected from measles infection through vaccination.

As I understand it, it’s possible to get measles even when vaccinated, but the disease would not exist at all if everyone were vaccinated. As Jenny Marder reported for PBS in 2015:

The MMR vaccine is very effective, but it’s not 100 per cent preventative. Some people who get the vaccine are still at risk of contracting the disease. Large numbers of vaccinated people act as a firewall that prevent the disease from spreading to those who are vulnerable. The vaccinated protect the unvaccinated. That’s known as “herd immunity.” But as more people opt not to get vaccinated, or not to get their children vaccinated, the virus has more portals to creep through, more people to infect. And those people sneeze and cough, releasing the virus into the air, and that fuels the spread of the disease. 

Some parents opt out of the MMR vaccine, often due to thoroughly discredited studies that link it to autism. Simply put, if everyone got the vaccine, the virus would have nowhere to go. The unvaccinated keep the measles alive.

3. Snow removal

A city press release:

Sidewalk and bus stop clearing is getting underway, which will require significant time and effort given the sheer volume of snow accumulation, in addition to snow from street clearing operations and that has been pushed into sidewalks from private property. The height of many snowbanks currently present in most sidewalk areas can be a challenge for equipment, but all resources possible are being deployed to open these up as quickly as we are able. It is not expected that all sidewalks can be fully accessible for ten to 14 days. [emphasis in original]

This means, necessarily, that pedestrians will be walking in the streets. And yet:

Halifax Regional Police are asking people to not walk on the roads because it’s illegal and whiteout conditions are making it impossible for drivers to see pedestrians.

So if you don’t have a car, you must stay home and go nowhere. Or, you know, we could recognize that pedestrians have jobs and schools and errands to run like people with cars, and understand that they necessarily will be in the streets and so we should watch out for them.


1. Transit priority

“Halifax streets could see fewer buses stuck in traffic sooner thanks to the expedited implementation of a list of Transit Priority Measures (TPMs) originally planned to stretch into 2021,” reports Erica Butler for the Halifax Examiner:

With new matching funds coming from the federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, eight of the 11 TPMs on Halifax’s list are “tentatively scheduled” for our next fiscal year (2017-18). Another two have already been completed, and only one — a dedicated bus toll lane on the Macdonald Bridge — is as yet unplanned. Several of those scheduled, however, are at “high risk” of not getting completed by March 2018.

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City council (9:30am, City Hall) — budget deliberations rescheduled from two snowstorms ago; topic is street recapitalization.

Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Advisory Committee (3pm, Alderney Gate) — here’s the agenda.


Community Planning & Economic Development (9:30am, City Hall) — Mayor Mike Savage wants the city to work with the United Way on an anti-poverty strategy.

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (4pm, City Hall) — the agenda hasn’t been posted yet.

Fall River Water Service Extension Open House (6:30pm, Georges P. Vanier Junior High School, Fall River) — Rescheduled from February 13.

Public Information Meeting – Case 20401 (7pm, St. Peter’s Anglican Church Hall, Halifax) — more Bedford West rezoning.



Legislature sits (12:01am, Province House) — an all-day meeting to show how tough Stephen McNeil is.


Cancelled: Resources (9am, Province House) — the Maple Producers Association will be asked questions.

On campus



Wheezy Illness (8am, WeatherWatch Room, 5th Floor Dixon Building) — explains the event listing:

Over 2,000 children per year are seen at the IWK Emergency Department with a wheezy illness. In 2008, the IWK changed their clinical practice, by delivering salbutamol by puffers instead of masks. This resulted in decreased length of time in the emergency department and an estimated cost avoidance of $260,000 per year. Four linked multi-disciplinary research projects assisted with the implementation and evaluation of this practice change. Opportunities and challenges in engaging academic researchers and trainees in community engaged scholarship will be discussed. These projects were part of Dalhousie University’s Drug Use Management and Policy Residency where 39 graduate trainees contributed to research in Nova Scotia from 2000-2016. 

Brachytherapy (11:30am, Morroy Building, MA 310) — Ege Babadagli will speak on “A Mixed-integer Linear Programming Optimization Model for Capturing Expert Treatment Planning Style in Low-dose Prostate Brachytherapy.”

Gels, Droplets, and Fibers (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — John Frampton will speak on “Gels, Droplets, and Fibers: Designing Advanced Materials for Biotechnology.”

Corporate Citizenship (4:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Kent Greenfield will speak on “The Dilemmas of Corporate Citizenship in the Private Marketplace and the Public Square.”

YouTube video

Sebastiane (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Derek Jarman’s 1976 film.

Rotten Tomatoes says:

Filmed entirely in vulgar Latin, this experimental film recounts the life of Sebastiane, a puritanical but beautiful Christian soldier in the Roman Imperial troops who is martyred when he refuses the homosexual advances of his pagan captain. When this film was released, it was the only English-made film to have required English subtitles, and it is an early film by the noted experimental and outspokenly homosexual director Derek Jarman, who died in 1994.


Blind Date with a Book (11am, Killam and MacRae Libraries) — Apparently they’ve got some “discreetly wrapped books” sure to “quicken your pulse”:

If you’re looking for mystery, fantasy, poetry, romance, or… science fiction, the Killam and MacRae libraries are where you’ll want to be. Blind Date with a Book wants to set you up with the book of your dreams, featuring sharp and witty profiles better than anything you’ll find on Tinder. Just come to the lobby of the Killam Library (Studley Campus) or the MacRae Library (Agricultural Campus) on Valentine’s Day. Check out the display of discreetly wrapped books and peruse the descriptive tags. You’re sure to find one that quickens your pulse.

Chronic Disease (2pm, CHEB C140) — Someone will speak on “Scotland – New Scotland: Advances & Dances in Research, Innovation and Health System Improvements for Chronic Disease.”

Public Policy and Environmental Advocacy (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Lois Corbett, from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, will speak.

Concerto Night (7:30pm, Sir James Dunn Theatre, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — the Dalhousie Symphony Orchestra and student soloists will perform popular concerti and arias. Fifteen doctors.

Saint Mary’s


Brazil and Canada (1pm, Library LI135) — Rosana Barbosa will talk about her new book, Brazil and Canada: Economic, Political and Migratory Ties, 1820s to 1970s.

In the harbour

2:30am: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Bedford Basin Anchorage from Liverpool, England
3:30am: AHS Hamburg, cargo ship, sails from Pier 41 for Palm Beach
7am: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
10am: Saimaagracht, cargo ship, arrives at Anchorage from Jacksonville, Florida

East Coast. Photo: Halifax Examiner

10:30am: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Saint John
12:30pm: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
1:30pm: High Pearl, oil tanker, moves from Anchorage to Imperial Oil
3pm: NYK Delphinus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
3:30pm: Metis Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: Oregon Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
9:30pm: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York


I’m finally en route to Halifax and hope to be home this evening.

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

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  1. Call centre employees invariably use my first name, especially if its a tech support call. I’m 71, and often tempted to ask the age of the youngster presuming to answer my call in such a familiar fashion. But I don’t, because of course they are not being presumptuous. They are following a script imposed upon them by managers, likely after focus group testing as to whether people prefer to be addressed by their first names. I must be an outlier. Let’s get to know each other a little before we kiss on a first date.

  2. During media interviews I have often used the reporter’s first name, particularly in the case of those I have had a lot of interaction with over the years. I don’t do so strategically, it just comes naturally to me.

    Should I stop doing that? It never dawned on me that it might be viewed negatively by the person interviewing me.

  3. My favourite line: Legislature sits (12:01am, Province House) — an all-day meeting to show how tough Stephen McNeil is.

    Does anyone remember the details of the Premiers fight with one of the Liberal Russells over whether there should be chicken or beef at a Liberal dinner? Having a hard time finding that gem.

  4. So furious about the unvaccinated. Precious little Starsparkle will remain vaccine free to protect her body (from what?) and meanwhile measles, a truly nasty illness that can result in lifelong effects and even DEATH in others is allowed to continue to exist.
    We forget how deadly these diseases are. Diphtheria is awful, a dreadful way to die. Polio is the source of lifelong disability, if you survive. Mumps makes you sterile, Rubella causes severe birth deformities in the unborn…even the flu kills thousands of people every year.
    And what people do not ever seem to get is that there is what is called a “prodromal period” during which you shed the virus and don’t yet feel ill. So little Starsparkle goes to visit her dear friend with asthma and inadvertently gives him the disease that will kill him. Or she takes her pre-measles in to see Granma in the home and kills a few of the residents in one go. I wonder how her precious little psyche will cope with that?

  5. It’s the second day after the storm, and while all the roads downtown are clear, sidewalks along many of those roads are untouched. In some places sidewalks have been cleared, then blocked by road clearing and driveway plowing. Yes, there’s a lot of snow, but it’s obvious that making things easy for drivers is more important than making things possible for pedestrians. Meanwhile, drivers are zooming along at their usual speeds, annoyed by pedestrians forced onto the roadway, and oblivious to the poor visibility at crosswalks and intersections, thanks to the high snowbanks created by road clearing. Perhaps we could worry a little less about widening the streets (in progress now) and clearing cul-de-sacs (starting tonight), and put some of those resources into reducing the appalling two week goal for cleared sidewalks.

  6. I don’t think the first name thing is an attempt to establish friendly rapport in the interview as much as it is exert power. “I can call you by your first name, but you can’t call me by my first name. I am the adult, you are the child, I hold the power here.” I think this is what the French refer to as “le tutoiement”.

    If they wanted to appear genuinely friendly, well, they just have to speak and act in a friendly, relaxed, open, candid manner no matter how tough the questions.

  7. While during the “whiteout conditions” mentioned in that Feb 13 quote the police (quite wisely) advised pedestrians to stay off the roads, since the storm ended their message has changed. It is now consistently “if you have to walk on the road, wear something visible, walk toward traffic, and cars and pedestrians should look out for each other”. I’ve seen that advice all over Twitter and in news articles from the city and the police. I was actually thinking yesterday it’s good messaging: advocating safety rather than advocating a law no one will/can follow.

    1. While this has been said by many, HRP has not come out and said that it’s okay to walk in the road when sidewalks are impassable. They’ve stuck to their line which is plainly incorrect, even if defensible during the whiteout portion of the storm.

      1. Is it even defensible during the worst of the storm? McNeil told his MLAs to stay in downtown hotels so they could walk to Province House during the blizzard. How does that work if they couldn’t walk in the streets?

        1. Lots of people walking on the road in portions of Barrington Street around South Street this morning. The motorists and pedestrians were behaving with courtesy and care.

          1. Police should stop victim blaming, some people have no choice than to walk on the road during the whiteout

      2. Wording in the MVA is, “Where sidewalks are provided it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent highway.” (127(2)). Can we really say a sidewalk has been “provided” if it’s covered in 6 feet of snow?

      3. The HRP have indeed come out and said almost exactly that. Chose an article about the blizzard at random using Google News and it says this:

        In the meantime, Halifax police spokesperson Const. Dianne Penfound recommends people taking to the streets wear high visibility clothing if they have it, and be extra careful around high snow banks.
        “We don’t recommend walking in the roadway,” she said. “Sometimes you have no choice, so try to walk towards the traffic, not with your back to traffic.”