1. Wankers

So-called “Proud Boys.”

“Canada’s top general has condemned the actions of a group of Armed Forces members who disrupted a spiritual event on Canada Day marking the suffering of Indigenous Peoples at a statue of Halifax’s controversial founder, Edward Cornwallis,” report Adina Bresge and Michael MacDonald for the Canadian Press:

Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, called the incident “deplorable” and said the men will be removed from training and duties while the incident is investigated.

On Saturday, the group of men were clad in black polo shirts with yellow piping  — one of them carrying a Red Ensign Flag —  as they approached singing “God Save the Queen,” one Mi’kmaq organizer said. The Canadian Red Ensign, which bears the Union Jack in the corner, was the national flag until it was replaced by the Maple Leaf design in 1965.

The men said they were members of the Proud Boys, a self-declared group of “Western Chauvinists.”

Also, thanks to Justin Ling at Vice for reminding me that the OK symbol the Proud Boys used in the photo above is a common sign for the alt-right. As Rollin Bishop explains in The Outline:

Alt-right hero Milo Yiannopoulos likes to pose with the hand sign, as he did in this photo in front of the White House. Former Breitbart writer Mike Ma used it at an event celebrating Trump’s election. Jim Hoft and Lucian Wintrich of the conservative blog The Gateway Pundit, which leans alt-right, posed with it in the White House press room.


It’s unclear exactly how the OK symbol got started as an alt-right meme, but it may trace back to a version of “Smug Pepe,” a meme in which Pepe holds his chin. In one variation he’s instead making an OK hand gesture, reminiscent of Trump.

A version of “Smug Pepe” throwing the OK hand sign.

A version of “Smug Pepe” throwing the OK hand sign.

This specific Pepe started circulating in online communities of alt-right and Trump supporters in early 2015, according to Don Caldwell, a senior editor at Know Your Meme.

“Around that time, Pepe depictions that were kind of Trump-related started to appear on 4chan’s politics board,” he said. “Trump supporters seemed to circulate these Trump-like depictions of Pepe, and then Donald Trump himself around mid-October tweeted one of them.”

Also, just to be clear, the staff at Bearly’s have no association with the wankers, and issued a statement yesterday:

FYI: Bearly’s has nothing to do with these dinks, and does not endorse them or their message. They took this picture on a busy day with one waitress on duty who didn’t know what they were all about, and who is mortified that she didn’t know to put a stop to it.

Bearly’s has always been a place where everyone is welcome and will continue to be that way.

2. Natural gas

The Shubenacadie River, site of the Alton Gas project.

Until this year, most of the natural gas used in Nova Scotia came from the Sable Island gas field. But now, as the offshore gas industry collapses, Heritage Gas is looking to increase sales and keep prices low by importing gas from the U.S. and western Canada to the Alton Gas storage project.

Reporter Jennifer Henderson pieces together all the parts of the complex equation.

Click here to read “The new gas economy: the offshore, pipelines, and Alton Gas.” 

The article is behind the Examiner’s paywall. Click here to subscribe.

3. Hey man am I drivin OK?

YouTube video

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With the legalization of weed approaching, the federal government is going to sponsor a $1.9 million annual ad campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of drug impaired driving (DID). As explained in a tender issued this morning, the ad campaign will target people aged 16 to 24 and their parents, with the goal of reducing the percentage of people who think it’s OK to drive while stoned. The tender claims that:

Public Opinion Research found that 27% of Canadians who have ever used cannabis indicated they have driven a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis at some point in the past, with the number being higher (42%) among recent cannabis users1. 35% of Canadians also reported that they have been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone under the influence, a figure that rises to 70% among recent cannabis users. Focus group research conducted by Health Canada corroborates this, with a few participants stating that they felt that some people they knew were better drivers when they were under the influence of cannabis compared to when they were sober.

The success of the campaign will be measured by as-yet-undefined social media measurement strategies (whatever that means), calls to 1-800-OCANADA (presumably about weed, not for boat licences), the number of people asking for material, and coverage of the campaign in media.

4. Sewage plant disaster redux

Photo: Tim Bousquet

The City of Charlottetown is getting a brand new sewage plant, reports the Daily Commercial News, and guess who’s in charge.

“We know not everything is going to be affordable,” says Charlottetown chief administrative officer Peter Kelly.

“But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at everything.”

I particularly like the plan to turn the biosolids produced by the plant into a tourism destination:

The existing plant’s biosolids are highly rated and about 4,000 wet tonnes are removed by a contract for agricultural use.

Using sunlight supplemented by sustainable source energy, the city hopes to dry the biosolids further to 50 per cent and add value to the final product to further offset costs.

“We’re also looking at an atrium, like a greenhouse, where the public could come and enjoy the flowers and plants of a botanical garden,” says Kelly.

“It would be serene with music perhaps and somewhere to come, especially in the winter when we don’t get a lot of sun.”

What could possibly go wrong?

Mostly I posted this item just an excuse to use that picture above. I took it when Halifax’s sewage plant first opened in 2008, as part of the $300 million Harbour Solutions project. The photo shows some sort of vent in front of the plant that was quite literally held together by plywood, bailing wire, and duct tape. A few months later, on January 14, 2009, the plant had a catastrophic failure.

5. Yarmouth ferry

The Alakai. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Engine troubles will force the ferry service between Yarmouth, N.S., and Portland, Maine, to run a little slower and less frequently this month,” reports Paul Palmeter for the CBC:

One of the Cat’s four engines is out of commission, which means the ferry isn’t running at full power though it remains in service.


“Under this modified schedule, the vessel is completing five round trips per week as opposed to the six trips originally scheduled for the month of July,” Bay Ferries said.

The high-speed ferry normally takes 5½ hours to make the crossing between Nova Scotia and Maine but now takes an additional hour.

The extra hour is a big deal. Before the mechanical problem, the boat departed Yarmouth at 8:30, but passengers were told to be at the ferry terminal by 7:30. That didn’t leave much time for early morning shopping or even breakfast in Yarmouth. Those on the return boat arrive around 10:30pm. Change those times by an hour on each end, and it means that people will be hitting their hotel beds in Yarmouth a bit earlier to catch the morning boat and sleeping in a bit later to recover from the evening trip. That’s that much less business for downtown Yarmouth.

6. Cornwallis Park

The city this morning issued a tender for Phase 3 of the Cornwallis Park redevelopment. This phase is primarily for a plaza on the southwest corner of the park, near the curve in Hollis Street.

7. Halifax Common

Photo: Thom Fitzgerald / Facebook

“I LOVE Halifax’s tradition of free outdoor concerts!” writes filmmaker Thom Fitzgerald:

When I was deciding whether to settle here, my enjoyment of Natal Day concerts on Citadel Hill was a genuine draw. I even think it remains possible that the Common is not a terrible venue.

But we really need to employ some collective intelligence in approaching this in the future. This happens every time, free concert or $150 concert, big swaths of the park are left unusable until they are fixed — which most often is after summer is over.

This is, frankly, a lack of professionalism on the part of organizers and [some members of the] work crews, in combination with a complete disregard for the people of the community.

The Common offers a large gravel section big enough for a stage. It now also has a large concrete “plaza,” and the park is surrounded by roads that can be home to a stage, some of which were closed for the concert anyway. This destruction is completely unnecessary. There are so many better options within 100 meters of this set-up.

Staging an event in Halifax has become as lost an art as carving marble. Someone call their grandparents and ask how they had those great big concerts without destroying everything in their wake.

8. Queen’s Marque

Queen’s Marque construction has closed the boardwalk. Photo: Halifax Examiner

A reporter, I don’t know who, filed a Freedom of Information request asking for “All records from January 1st 2017, to the present pertaining to the impact of the Queen’s Marque development on the Halifax waterfront on tourists/tourism.” This was a reasonable question. A gigantic construction project is blocking off a major part of the waterfront for two years, so shouldn’t someone be trying to understand what impact that will have on tourism?

Well, no:

We do not have the information you asked for…

After a file search, we have located no records responsive to your application… Please be advised that Tourism Nova Scotia has not completed any studies or assessments, nor had any discussions regarding the Queen’s Marque project and its impact on tourism.

Ask them about golf, tho. I bet they know about golf.

9. Hotel

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Just my periodic reminder… the Nova Centre is supposed to be up and running on January 1, less than six months from now, and there’s still no named operator for the hotel.




Federation of Canadian Municipalities Advisory Committee 2018 Conference (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — exactly what it sounds like.

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, Sackville Public Library) — here’s the agenda.


Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.


No public meetings.

On campus



Plakoglobin (Wednesday, 4pm, Room 170, Collaborative Health Education Building, Halifax) — Qinyan (Andy) Song will speak on “Structural Characterization of the Interaction Between p53 and Plakoglobin.”

Bridging the Divide: Engaging States and Armed Groups in the Protection of Children (Wednesday, 7pm, Paul O’Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library) — Roméo Dallaire will speak.


IWK Research Rounds (Thursday, 7:45am, IWK Temporary Auditorium) — Andrea Bishop will speak on “Improving Transitions from the Emergency Department to Home by Engaging and Partnering with Parents.”

In the harbour

6am: ZIM Alabama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Photo: Halifax Examiner

6:45am: USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier, sails from anchorage to maybe bomb some place, or maybe just back to Norfolk
7:45am: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,446 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John
9am: USS Winston S. Churchill, U.S. naval destroyer, sails from Dockyard for undisclosed location; also undisclosed: why the U.S. names warships after British politicians
10am: USS San Jacinto, U.S. naval cruiser, sails from Dockyard for undisclosed location
3pm: George Washington Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
4:30pm: ZIM Alabama, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
7pm: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Baltimore

It was a busy weekend in Halifax Harbour:

Chart: marinetraffic.com


I’ll be on the Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm. Sheldon won’t be there, though. There’s a guest host, but I forget who it is.

A reader this morning cancelled their subscription because of El Jones. It’s no big deal — people are certainly free to subscribe or not for their own reasons, and I’m not about to try to orient our articles to satisfy some random reader. We do what we do.

I only draw attention to this one reader because the departure was made publicly, in the comments. More often, if a reader wants me to know that they’re unsubscribing because of Jones or because of something I wrote, they email me personally. Also, you’d be surprised at the number of people who email to tell me they’re not subscribing in the first place because of Jones, as if I would a) care or b) believe them; mostly they’re just ranting. So it goes.

Anyway, if you want to help recoup the cost of the few subscriptions we lose because we publish El Jones, you could do so here. Or, you could take advantage of the new joint subscription deal between the Halifax Examiner and the Cape Breton Spectator by clicking the photo below. Thanks much.
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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 Saturday column is just opinion, I find it entertaining for the same reasons I find Trump entertaining, and with no worry of nuclear codes to add that special frisson.
    Even being a relative newcomer ( 10 years) I don’t know why anyone is surprised at the idiocy of all our levels of government at times. In keeping with our port town heritage, perhaps we can fashion a giant sling shot and catapult our visitors along the Harbourwalk. And I’d nominate the so-call proud boys to demonstrate the stocks. heigh ho, heigh ho.

  2. The white power hand sign makes more sense when you see that it is a subtly different from the OK sign. The wankers in the picture using their left hands are just used to taking mirror selfies. Look at the right handed guy and see the three upright_spread_fingers as a W and the closed thumb and forefinger as a P.
    / Things one learns on Reddit.

    El Jones Rocks! You’re doing it right, Tim.

    1. You realize that that started as a deliberate and organized trolling attempt from 4chan, right? There’s an image floating around of literally every common hand signal that people make and a racist/fascist interpretation of it eg. the peace sign means “there are only two genders”.

  3. There’s a lot of reasons why one might not want to pay for a platform for El Jones. For instance, she denies the existence of and apologizes for a human trafficking organization operating in Dartmouth.

    1. If you have contrary knowledge, and your comment appears to assert it, have you conveyed your information to the police? And if not, why not? Alleging “the existence of a human trafficking organization operating in Dartmouth” is extremely serious and inflammatory. Human trafficking is criminal.

  4. Count me among those who’ll upgrade my subscription because of El Jones. (I was going to anyway but this is even more reason.)

  5. Something was irking me on the Defence press releases about the wankers. The word “seized”. I was first thinking it was a mistranslation from french, and my brain latched onto it. What could it be? Wiktionary gives this example for “be seized of”: “Used in the resolutions of an assembly, most commonly in the Security Council of the United Nations. In this context, it means that, while the Security Council is seized of a matter, no other organ of the United Nations may legally take it up, as under Article 12 of the UN Charter.”

    Is the word “seized” being used to shield the wankers from possible prosecution from other agencies? Time will tell.

  6. I really did not think that the boardwalk being closed would be such a big deal until I went for a walk downtown last Thursday at lunch time. There was so many people I couldn’t walk on the harbour side of lower water street, and there was so many people crossing the street to use the sidewalk on the other side of the street that all the car traffic was at a complete stand still. They really dropped the ball with the boardwalk not being open.

    I really can’t understand why someone would cancel their subscription to the Examiner because of one contributor. There are articles I agree with and those that I don’t agree with, there are articles that interest me and those that are of no interest to me. I find there’s more than enough content that I want to read to be worth 10 dollars a month and It seems fairly simple to just scroll past what you don’t want to read.

  7. The thing that really bugs me about Queen’s Marque, (aside from it’s hideous) is that Waterfront Development (taxpayers funded) is footing the bill ($800K) for the floating boardwalk. Why isn’t the developer paying for that?

  8. El Jones was the main reason I subscribed in the first place! I used to only read the Saturday morning file but over the past year I now look forward to every morning file, and every article/writer that comes with the subscription!

  9. As for bio-solids and atriums, I remember that an outfit from Bear River (I think) put on a sewage treatment display at the 1995 G7 Summit that was held in Halifax. The display consisted of a number of tanks filled with water-borne plants the tanks were inter-connected and the display simulated how sewage and wastewater could flow and be processed through a man made series of treatment pools that simulated a natural sewage/wastewater treatment process… it did not smell bad, the tent in which the display was set up was like a sauna and had a greenhouse/hothouse feel to it… the display was very interesting. Of course we never heard anything more about this outfit since then. The old Sackville landfill site is now using a similar technology (without the hothouse) to successfully treat the leachate outflow from the landfill site today. I often wondered why such a technology could not be used at a municipal level? I surmised, perhaps, that the flow-rate of sewage and wastewater might be too high for a large municipality; but for a small one, perhaps this technology could do the job?

      1. Good find, too bad it did not pan out for them… I wonder if some new technology enhancements could make the process economically feasible in the future? Not enough info in the article to see what the breakdown in operating costs were and what was the the deal breaker.

  10. I’d be interested to see some actual scientific data on the implications of driving while high. I suspect that it’s nowhere near as bad as alcohol, but will be aggressively prosecuted all the same.

    Many years ago, a friend spoke of driving on weed, and those words have stuck with me, “It’s not the same as drunk driving. The worst a stoned driver will do is wait for a stop sign to turn green”.

    No idea whether there’s any truth to the words, but the current rhetoric seems to be very PR based rather than science based.

      1. Thanks Leah. While a decent campaign, again, it’s PR, not science.

        I did manage to find some scientific studies on the subject: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2722956/

        Short version:
        “Surprisingly, given the alarming results of cognitive studies, most marijuana-intoxicated drivers show only modest impairments on actual road tests.37, 38 Experienced smokers who drive on a set course show almost no functional impairment under the influence of marijuana, except when it is combined with alcohol.”

        I’m certainly not suggesting anyone should get behind the wheel when baked, my concern is that this is going to be as aggressively prosecuted as drunk driving, when it seems that it’s not at all a parallel thing.

        1. I agree with you that marijuana and alcohol aren’t the same thing, but I’m also kind of okay with the PR campaign. We don’t have the science because no one is yet doing the work, and to me that’s a good enough reason to be cautious. Sure, “experienced smokers who drive on a set course” might do alright, but what about someone who’s smoked a joint for the first time at a friend’s house (it’s legal now!) and goes to drive home? We don’t have data because we don’t test drivers for marijuana, apparently no one is testing first time smokers on a course where they have to make choices and unexpected things pop out at them, we don’t know whether legal access to weed will make more people drive after they’ve smoked it, and on and on. So until we have data that says it’s absolutely safe (and I’m gonna use personal experience to guess it isn’t), I’m okay with a PR campaign waving a little flag to say “hey there! think twice before you drive stoned!”

  11. Any idea what happens if the Nova Centre doesn’t make the 1 January date? Any public comments from the city or province to that effect?

    1. They’ve already missed two dates. Apparently, there is no consequence to the developer whatsoever, except that the day of payment is delayed. So far as I know, there’s no further monetary fine. No, neither the city or province have said anything… I know that the people at TCL (now called Events East) are worried. They’ve already had to reschedule booked conventions twice.

  12. Sailors from the Eisenhauer said they were heading back to Norfolk for dry dock/refit.

  13. I took some visitors from Scotland down to the waterfront on Sunday. What a mess down there. They have been here before and were flummoxed as to why the City would allow that Queen’s Marque development to happen. Just like I am.