1. Matthew Hines

Matthew Hines. Photo: CBC

“Police have laid criminal charges against two New Brunswick correctional officers in the death of prisoner Matthew Hines at Dorchester Penitentiary more than two years ago,” reports Karissa Donkin for the CBC:

Alvida Ross, 48, and Mathieu Bourgoin, 31, have both been charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death, RCMP announced Wednesday.


Last year, federal correctional investigator Ivan Zinger released a scathing report into Hines’s death, describing the prison’s investigation as “flawed” and “self-serving.” 

Zinger found that CSC ordered bloodstains to be cleaned after Hines’s death, “compromising the preservation of a potential crime scene.”

Donkin goes on to detail how Hines was beaten, pepper-sprayed, and left to die in a shower:

As he lay on the prison shower floor, Hines told guards he couldn’t breathe. He pleaded with them.

“Please, please,” Hines said. “I’m begging you, I’m begging you.”

Guards turned the water back on.

And adds one more detail:

Despite his pleas for help, the nurse on duty at the prison that night “failed to conduct any assessments” on Hines or perform any “life-saving treatment,” such as CPR.

She no longer works for CSC, but records show she is still registered as a nurse in New Brunswick.

2. City handed bill for the convention centre

The Grafton Street Glory Hole, with the convention centre above it. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The province wants HRM to reimburse it for $301,500 in transition costs for the new Halifax Convention Centre that it says was the municipality’s responsibility to 
pay,” reports Jacob Boon for The Coast:

Back in August, only a few months before the convention centre was set to officially open, the province sent a bill for over $300,000 in transition costs above and beyond the scope of what HRM had originally agreed to pay.

The request included two items — $38,000 for ICT peripherals and $108,000 for “governance” — that weren’t included in the list of expenses brought to council two years ago. The province also wants an extra $156,000 in addition to the $633,000 for sales and marketing HRM paid Events East last year.

“Staff have not agreed to pay these amounts,” writes [city hall’s finance manager Bruce] Fisher, who adds that those same staffers are concerned the matter “lies at the margins of their authority under the HRM budget.”

There will be no end to this. Every year, there will be more demands for cash from the city for the convention centre — this is what the city agreed to when it took half ownership of the new convention centre. This year it’s “transition costs”; next year it will be money to cover operating losses; down the road it will be increased marketing to “better showcase” a convention centre that is failing to meet expectations…

3. Cecil Clarke’s Chopstick Diplomacy

A December 20 story in the Cape Breton Post. “I’m guessing the headline should have read ‘those hard-to-buy-for Capers,’ as the way it’s written suggests the people involved — including the mayor and the chief of police — are on the take, but even that doesn’t really make sense,” notes Mary Campbell.

“The Cape Breton Post was very good to CBRM Mayor (and potential provincial Tory leadership candidate) Cecil Clarke this Christmas,” writes Mary Campbell of the Cape Breton Spectator:

It allowed him to “open up” about his publicly funded trip to China in back-to-back articles on December 19 and 20. It helped puzzled Cape Bretoners decide what they should buy him for Christmas and made the case for him as Tory leader on December 22. And on December 30, it simply handed him the keys to the editorial page, allowing him to write his own ode to his 2017 accomplishments. (Neither this nor the accompanying “Guest Shot” by Premier Stephen McNeil — whose name is misspelled —  is yet available online for some reason. Late onset journalistic embarrassment, perhaps?)

In the name of holding government accountable — a job the Post has apparently abdicated — I’m going to conduct a post-mortum of the paper’s Christmas Clarke coverage.

Campbell goes on to do exactly that, in exhausting and hilarious detail. Here’s my favourite part:

The second Post story about the mayor’s trip to China, which appeared on December 20 under the headline, “CBRM mayor optimistic about port deal in light of positive relations with China,” was fantastic.

In it, Mayor Clarke shared with us the secret of doing business in China:

“Anytime you’re with the Chinese you use chopsticks — you don’t touch a fork or knife even if they are provided, you just use the chopsticks as they use them and that is considered a sign of respect,” said Clarke…

There you have it — you don’t need to speak Mandarin, or have an understanding of Chinese history, or even a background in business, all you need is the manual dexterity to wield chopsticks.

I did some googling and discovered a few other things about using chopsticks (which are, it seems, “small” but “adored by many people in the world”):

First, don’t use it to hit the side of your bowl or plate to make a lot of noise, because Chinese people think only beggars would do this to beg for meals.

Second, when you use it, don’t stretch out your index finger, which would be regarded as a kind of accusation to others. Never use it to point at others.

Third, it is thought to be an impolite behavior when you suck the end of a chopstick. People will think you lack family education.

Fourth, don’t use it to poke at every dish without knowing what your [sic] want.

And last, don’t insert it vertically into the bowls or dishes. Chinese people do this only when they burn incense to sacrifice the dead.

I can only hope our mayor’s mastery is such that he didn’t leave potential investors thinking he was a recently bereaved beggar lacking formal education.

Click here to read “Cecil Clarke’s Chopstick Diplomacy & Other Seasonal Highlights.”

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
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4. Jimmy Melvin Jr.

Jimmy Melvin Jr., in a still from his “Real Live Street Shit” video, now no longer available.

“The Nova Scotia Crown is applying to have Jimmy Melvin Jr. declared a dangerous offender after his conviction last year for attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:

Meanwhile, the notorious Halifax crime figure will be moved to federal prison in Renous, N.B., both to access mental health services, and because he said he’s “incompatible” with Nova Scotia’s provincial corrections system.


Addressing the court on Wednesday, Melvin asked Rosinski to either remand him into federal custody at the Atlantic Institution in Renous, N.B. or have him assessed at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth.

Melvin said he’s “highly incompatible with the whole province,” and said he’s been getting in fistfights with staff at the province jails. He’s also looking for help with his mental health.

“There’s no psychiatric help in Sydney or in Pictou County. There’s no doctors, there’s nothing. The only place to talk to someone about your issues, which I’m sure I have all kinds, is in the East Coast Forensic Hospital,” Melvin said.

Melvin said he’d prefer to go to Renous over being housed in provincial jails because he could talk “face to face” with someone there.

5. Holy body parts and their accompanying underwear

The severed arm of St. Francis Xavier, at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa. Photo: Catholic Christian Outreach

“More than four centuries after his death, St. Francis Xavier is touring Canada, or, at least, the part of him most revered by Catholics — the right arm said to have baptized tens of thousands of converts,” reports David Common for the CBC:

Seventy-five thousand Canadians are expected to view the relic, as it moves across the country this month beginning Wednesday in Quebec City with stops in 14 other cities, including Antigonish, N.S., home of St. Francis Xavier University.

When I was in university, I studied Medieval history and learned a bit about the relic trade, which began as a way for far-flung bishops and popes to make connections with often remote regions of Christendom. Moreover, the occasional pilgrimage to visit the severed head of John the Baptist or whatever was the beginning of the modern tourist industry, and a major part of the Medieval economy.

The conceit of The Canterbury Tales, for instance, is that they were tales told in a story-telling contest by pilgrims on their way from London to Canterbury to visit the bones of Thomas Beckett entombed at the Cathedral.

Circumcision of Christ, detail from the Twelve Apostles Altar by Friedrich Herlin, 1466.

The relic trade reached ridiculous proportions. At one point, there were something like 47 Holy Prepuces — i.e., foreskins of Jesus — travelling around Western Europe, so maybe we should be glad we’re only getting Xavier’s forearm.

While travelling through Germany a few years back, I came upon the Sacred Underwear of Christ at the cathedral in Trier, where the underwear had supposedly been deposited in the year 312:

In 1512 the German Emperor Maximilian I made a formal visitation to Trier. At his command, the Holy Robe was removed from its place of safety under the high altar and put on display. As word of this spread amongst the general population, pilgrims flocked to the city wishing to see the Robe for themselves, and this spontaneous “People’s Revolution” formed the first official public showing.

Ever since, whenever the Trier economy needs a shot in the arm, the town pooh-bahs convince the bishop to trot out the sacred skivvies, and here come the throngs of tourists to keep the merchants happy. In the last century, the underwear was put on display three times, in 1933, 1959, and 1996.

Fast forward to 2012, and like the rest of Europe, Trier is in permanent recession, still reeling from the Great Banker Heist of 2008 and the austerity regime of Disaster Capitalism. The 500th anniversary of Maximilian’s display of the undies provided a good opportunity to gin up some tourists, but even the pooh-bahs understand that, for better or worse, other than the dozens of rosary-clutching nuns clambering up and down the cobblestoned streets, nobody much believes anymore in Catholicism, much less that the actual 2,000-year-old underwear of the Lord is stashed under the altar at Trier.

The pooh-bahs’ solution? Heilig Rock Wallfahrt 2012. Best I can tell, Heilig Rock is a sort of cross between Woodstock and Mecca, a horribly misconceived mixed message of messiahs and metal rock, with drum kits set up on stages surrounding the cathedral. The tourism promotion people were evidently desperate, but nobody wants to be beautiful and stoned while contemplating Jesus’ underpants.

Admittedly, I was in Trier for less than 24 hours, but from what I saw, Heilig Rock not unexpectedly wasn’t a huge success for either the Christians or the Capitalists. To be sure, the Cathedral was full for the evening service, and there were lines for morning viewing of the unmentionables, but the lines weren’t long enough to snake through the velvet rope maze set up for them, and the porta-potties were remarkably clean and available — it was clear that much larger crowds had been anticipated.

The equivalent in Nova Scotia would be to match Xavier’s arm’s visit to Antigonish with the Evolve festival… I’ll take my consulting fee in bitcoin, thanks.


1. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

Recently, the New Brunswick attorney general appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in his government’s ongoing persecution of the citizen who got caught with more beer than allowed coming back from Quebec.

New Brunswick’s argument? Beer sales provide the “necessary” revenue to pay for associated social health and welfare issues and if people bought beer outside of N.B., these services would suffer.

Yet, this past summer, the N.B. government cut the price of beer sharply, much to the chagrin of P.E.I. and Nova Scotia who fear cross-border shopping as well as craft beer makers who don’t have the luxury to offer big volume discounts.

Apparently, these days, when elected, politicians have to swear a hypocritical oath.

Lloyd Kerry, Charlottetown


No public meetings today or Friday.

On campus



Scoliosis in 3D (Thursday, 9am, Cineplex OE Smith Theatre, IWK Children’s Building) — Ron El-Hawary from Dalhousie and the IWK will speak on scoliosis and advancements in imaging.


No public events.

In the harbour

East Coast. Photo: Halifax Examiner

8am: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
3pm: Budapest Bridge, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Fos Sur Mer, France
5pm: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Göteborg, Sweden


I was promised a weatherbomb, but the bomb has apparently bombed.

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

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  1. Hey Tim, scrolling isn’t working properly using Safari.

    Lots of people believe in Catholicism, but they are mostly in South America. Maybe they want to see Jesus’ foreskin or undies?

  2. I just read in a Globe News (GN) article that HRM is sending 75 tonnes of film plastic waste materials that were diverted from the Otter Lake landfill for recycling purposes; but the Chinese market for film plastics has dried up. If C&D Recycling is allowed to send tires to be buried under NS roads as fill, then why not do the same for film plastic materials that can no longer be recycled? Burying the film plastic in another province’s landfill is no better an idea than burying it at the Otter Lake facility. According to the GN article, HRM has another 225 tonnes of film plastic waste that still needs to be disposed of; where will this material go?


    Why is this film plastic material not delivered to the Canadian Plastics Industry Association? It is their industry that is responsible for creating the materials; they should bear the responsibility of ensuring that the End of Life disposal is conducted in the most environmentally appropriate manner.

    1. I agree that it should be a producer that is responsible for handling the waste. Whether that should be the manufacturer of the packaging, or the business that chose to use that packaging, I’m not sure. If there were consequences for making the choice of using packaging that is either hard to recycle or not recyclable at all, they might have a financial incentive to make better choices or there might be a financial incentive for someone to invent a better package. Possibly even packages that are reusable — I remember pop in reusable glass bottles, shipped in wooden cases…

  3. Why don’t reporters have a calculator on their desk and just do a little simple math each time they put a number in the news? Their innumeracy and/or lack of curiosity is hurting Nova Scotia.

    From the Coast article, “Initial construction estimates and operating costs would have slotted the annual lease payment in at $13.3 million—half of that covered by HRM. But with construction delays and interest payments still being finalized, the actual lease payment will likely be higher, writes Fisher.”

    Clearly, $13.3 m times the 30 years of the lease is about $400m… and likely more as BRUCE Fisher says.

    Along with that, as Tim says, will be loses, interest, forgone taxes, capital expenses, operating charges, marketing, promotion, consultants, overheads, subsidies and goodness knows what else they can come up with.

    And yet the reporter from the Coast newspaper repeats the lie that the cost of the convention centre split with the province is $117.8m total.

    1. Just to be clear, the $13.3 million a year is for both paying off the construction loan and for the lease payment. And when I wrote about this back in 2010, it was an even $13 million.

  4. Orly problem with your suggestion, the Evolve Festival is no longer held in Antigonish. It has moved to NB. No bitcoin for you.