1. Lionel Desmond inquiry

Lionel Desmond (far right corner) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown. Photo: Trevor Bungay/Facebook

“Two days before former soldier Lionel Desmond used a rifle to fatally shoot three members of his family and then kill himself, his wife Shanna told him to leave their home in rural Nova Scotia after a heated argument, a fatality inquiry heard Monday,” reports Michael MacDonald for the Canadian Press:

On its first full day of hearings, the inquiry heard that Desmond, an Afghan war veteran diagnosed with PTSD, followed his wife’s advice and presented himself at the emergency room at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, N.S., on Jan. 1, 2017.

Lawyer Stewart Hayne, who represents doctors who tried to help Desmond, said the evidence will show the 33-year-old former infantryman first met with Dr. Justin Clark, who noted Desmond was not in distress and did not have any suicidal or homicidal thoughts.

On Jan. 3, 2017, Desmond bought a rifle and shot his wife, daughter and his 52-year-old mother Brenda before turning the gun on himself in their modest home in Upper Big Tracadie. Desmond, a retired corporal who served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, had been diagnosed with PTSD after two particularly violent tours in Afghanistan in 2007.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Matthew Bowes, told the inquiry that communication snafus between government agencies may constitute a systemic failure in this tragic case.

“The transfer of information seemed to be too complicated and may have been a barrier to Mr. Desmond’s care,” said Bowes, the provincial official whose investigation of the Desmond case led to the establishment of the inquiry.

“The fact that our system placed a gun in this man’s hands, for me, is problematic,” he added.

“Most reasonable people would (conclude) that someone who’s acutely mentally ill should not have access to a gun.” 

2. Parking garage

A government rendering of the proposed parking garage on Summer Street.

Halifax councillor Waye Mason has sent a letter to Premier Stephen McNeil expressing his concerns about a proposed parking garage on Summer Street next to the Natural History Museum. In the letter, Mason says using the former QE2 High School site for both the Halifax Infirmary (HI) and the garage makes more sense:

The HI site is approximately 88500 sq m, give or take, and the north-west corner (where the former Queen Elizabeth High building was located and currently an empty field) could be used to easily support a 15-25 story building, if well designed. All parking could be accommodated above ground its podium. To hear representatives of the government state there is no room to accommodate a 3500-4500 sq m parking garage on the government’s 88500 sq m site is troubling.

“They have 20 times the space on the hospital site [where Queen Elizabeth High School was located],” Mason told CBC reporter Pam Berman. “It’s not clear why they feel they need to do it this way.”

Mason points out the city has designated the corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street for up to 90 metres (or 27 storeys), so several levels of parking could be part of a taller hospital building.

You could do a string-and-cup telephone system across to the Willow Tree.

3. Intimate photos

An RCMP release from yesterday:

On January 23, Annapolis District RCMP responded to a call indicating a female was being threatened by someone she met online. The suspect threatened to distribute fake photos of her online if she did not send nude photos of herself to them. 

The victim went to a trusted adult and a parent, and in turn contacted the RCMP. Annapolis District RCMP, with the assistance of the Nova Scotia RCMP’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit and the RCMP National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC),were able to identify the suspect as a 14-year-old male from Bridgetown, on January 24. Investigators located him, and as a result of their investigation, arrested him and he is facing charges of Luring a Child and Extortion. He was released on conditions and is scheduled to attend Annapolis Royal Provincial Court on April 6. Further charges may be considered pending analysis of the accused’s cell phone.

Relatedly, the Examiner has learned that a Halifax County man is being investigated by the RCMP for sending a partially nude photo of his former wife to a neighbour of the woman.

According to court documents obtained by the Examiner, the couple had had children together. After their separation in August 2019, the man was charged with assaulting the woman, and “was placed on no contact conditions with her.” However, the following month, that condition was changed such that they could have contact if the woman agreed.

On Halloween, the man wanted to go trick-or-treating with the woman and their children, but the woman would not allow that, saying she had issues with the man and was particularly concerned about a custody issue involving one of the children. In response, the man then sent a Facebook message to a man living next door to the woman. The message was a photo of her naked breast. The neighbour told his wife about the photo, and his wife in turn reported it to the woman, who called police.

The woman told police that about a month before Halloween she had exposed her breast to the man during a Facetime session, and the man must have taken a screenshot of it. She had not consented to the screenshot being taken, nor had she consented to the photo being sent to anyone, including the guy living next door.

With a search warrant granted, police seized a cell phone and a laptop from the man. The investigation continues.

It’s dispiriting to read these narratives of boys and men weaponizing girls’ and women’s own bodies against them, as a way to control them.

4. Fools with guns

YouTube video

Another RCMP release from yesterday:

At 2:40 p.m. on January 25, Digby RCMP was called to the Digby General Hospital following a report of a patient with a gunshot wound. The initial investigation has determined that the incident occurred near the Four Point Rd. in Weymouth. Three men, known to each other, were out rabbit hunting and one man got separated from the others. One man shot at what he thought was a rabbit, and accidentally injured the victim. 

A 20-year-old man from Digby County, suffered non life-threatening injuries.  A 35-year-old man from Digby County was arrested and is facing charges of Careless Use of Firearm and Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm. He was release from custody and is scheduled to appear in Digby Provincial Court on March 16, 2020. 

“… shot at what he thought was a rabbit.” The biggest danger from guns isn’t so much being attacked by strangers wielding guns (although there’s that), but rather the guns harming the gun owner themself or their family and friends.


1. Cape Breton, mapped

Writes Mary Campbell:

I want to give a nod to Andrea MacIvor, an artist and potter (and also, full disclosure, my aunt) who lives and works in Halifax now but who, back in the ’70s, painted this great map of Cape Breton, apparently for a tourism brochure:

This is the original painting, but I remember having a poster version of it.

I wish I still did — she really caught our good side.

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The death of a parent is the natural order of things — far better than a parent’s loss of a child. And as deaths go, Mom’s was about as good as it gets. She lived a long and full life, respected and loved by everyone who knew her, and her decline was quick, but not so quick that her children couldn’t say their good-byes. She was ready for death, and didn’t appear to suffer much. As with everything else she did in her life, she planned her death such that it would bring her loved ones even closer together. All in all, I found her death a deeply moving and even positive experience.

And yet, there’s now a gaping hole in my life. I’ll be fine, really, but it makes me better understand the grief experienced by others who rarely lose someone in such circumstances.  I can’t imagine the feeling of loss after the sudden or unexpected death of a spouse or child or other loved one, or of those with whom people have more complicated relationships.

Death ain’t easy. We should look out for each other.




City council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. Zane Woodford will be live-tweeting the meeting, and then reporting after for the Examiner.


Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — the departments of Transportation and Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Planning and Development are on the agenda.

Public Information Meeting – Case 22640 (Wednesday, 7pm, Prospect Road Community Centre, Hatchet Lake) — Chris MacDonald wants to convert the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Prospect into a B&B.



Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — a discussion about “Inclusive Education and Agency.”

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — reps from the department of Energy & Mines, the department of Environment, Efficiency Nova Scotia, and the Town of Bridgewater will be talking about Efficiency Nova Scotia.


Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — all about the QEII rebuild.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Tuesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Hongyang Li will defend “Studies of Ni-Rich Positive Electrode Materials for Lithium Ion Batteries.”

Tier II Canada Research Chair Primary Care Candidate Presentation (Tuesday, 11am, Room C266, Collaborative Health and Education Building) — Lindsay Hedden will present “Measuring capacity and understanding access challenges in longitudinal community-based primary care.”

Welcome Reception for Deep Saini (Tuesday, 2pm, Student Learning Commons, MacRae Library, Agricultural Campus, Truro) — buddy’s gonna look at cows.


#dalTHANKS (Wednesday, 12pm, various locations) — “celebrating the thousands of Dalhousie alumni and friends who “create scholarships and bursaries that make university more accessible for students” instead of simply increasing the tax rate on the filthy rich and properly funding universities. At Wallace McLean Learning Commons; Tupper Link; Alumni Lounge, B Building; and Student Learning Commons, Agricultural Campus.

Bring your own tax deduction form.

Jacqueline S. Walsh. Photo via

Mini Law School: The future of the legal profession (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Jacqueline S. Walsh will talk.

Saint Mary’s


Field Notes (Tuesday, 5:30pm, LI 135) — students present academic work from their 2018-2019 Field School experiences.

Underneath the Dartmouth Oil Refinery: Finding Fort Clarence (Tuesday, 7pm, Burke Theatre A) — David Jones will talk. More info here.



King’s Infringement Festival (Tuesday, 8:30pm, The Pit, Arts and Administration Building) — a week-long festival of student-written and -created theatre and art. Tickets $2 at the door. More info here and  here.


Marriage of Figaro (Wednesday, 7:30pm, President’s Lodge) — with Roberta Barker and performers.

King’s Infringement Festival (Wednesday, 8:30pm, The Pit, Arts and Administration Building) — continues. See Tuesday’s listing for details.

In the harbour

06:00: CLI Pride, cargo ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
07:00: NACC Quebec, cement carrier, arrives at Pier 33 from New York
10:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
11:30: CLI Pride sails for sea
16:00: JSP Levante, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea


Besides everything else, I have a 9am meeting this morning, so this is a short Morning File. Work on the podcast is now going into overdrive, so I’ll be farming out even more Morning Files to other writers. They’re doing better work than me anyway, and I enjoy reading them.

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

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  1. The parking lot adjacent to the Museum, and for museum visitors only, is to be increased in height to become a multi-storey parking garage; which according to cyclist Kelsey Lane “… the new parkade would impact our ability to have a AAA bikeway facility on that road…. and all the stuff Waye said… also it’s a parkade “

  2. Hey Tim,

    ” there’s now a gaping hole in my life. I’ll be fine, really, but it makes me better understand the grief experienced by others who rarely lose someone in such circumstances. ”

    That’s where I was at after my mom passed away as well. I looka t everyone differently now, and I think it’s made me a more compassionate person.

    Grief is strange thing. It lurks around in your line of sight for a while, then skulks just off to the side so you can’t see it, then it comes back when you least expect it or in the quiet moments when your mind is still.

    Be well, and don’t be afradi to seek help if you need it