In the harbour


1. Scotian Halibut

Federal minister Keith Ashfield, Scotian Halibut executive Brian Blanchard and MP Gerald Keddy celebrate a $400,000 loan to the company. Photo: South Coast Today
Federal minister Keith Ashfield, Scotian Halibut executive Brian Blanchard and MP Gerald Keddy celebrate a $400,000 loan to the company. Photo: South Coast Today

“Scotian Halibut Ltd. of Cape Sable Island was finally forced into creditor protection by the holding company which holds a 40% stake in the firm and is owed $9 million,” reports Timothy Gillespie. “Nova Scotia taxpayers — through Nova Scotia Business Inc. —  are owed $2.9 million for unpaid loans dating more than fifteen years and ACOA is owed $2.8 million.”

2. Sunday hunting

A Department of Natural Resources press release:

The Department of Natural Resources is lifting the ban on Sunday hunting for the first two Sundays of general deer hunting season.

The change will apply to all wildlife in season on those dates except moose.

In 2015, Sunday hunting will be allowed Nov. 1 and 8.

“Nova Scotia’s natural resources are here for everyone to enjoy and use in a sustainable manner,” said Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill. “After a public consultation and discussions with stakeholders about a range of options, I wanted to find a balance on this issue that would take everyone’s positions into account. Allowing hunting on the first two Sundays of general hunting season achieves this balance.”

Amendments to the Wildlife Act regulations will also clarify the distance hunters need to stay back from Christmas tree and agricultural operations. Amendments will also make it easier for hunters to help farmers deal with nuisance wildlife.

Public safety was an important consideration in the decision. Hunting accidents are rare in Nova Scotia and almost never involve non-hunters. There will be an awareness campaign closer to hunting season to help ensure Nova Scotians know about the Sunday hunting change.

Landowner rights was an area of interest during consultations. Hunters are strongly urged to respect landowners’ wishes about hunting on private property.

3. Land trusts

Councillor Jennifer Watts wants the city to investigate community land trusts as a strategy for increasing the stock of affordable housing. It’s a good idea, but you gotta get it right.


1. Privatizing

Graham Steele says the reaction to Service Nova Scotia Minister Mark Furey’s announcement that the government is looking at outsourcing the various public registries is over the top:

Minister Furey’s announcement was so tepid, so restrained, so hedged about with qualifications and reassurances, that one could wonder why he even bothered.

He’s going to (gasp) seek to pre-qualify potential bidders.


The tepidity of Furey’s announcement did not hold back the critics.

A corporate handout. An attack on democracy. [That was me.] The start of a province-wide privatization drive. Handing our private data to Americans.  Shipping profits to Britain.

And of course, because the government wants to avoid the word privatization, the critics gleefully used it at every opportunity.

The language was so overwrought that I wondered if maybe there had been another news conference that I missed.  But no, there was just the one: the tepid, vague one.

Since when is the CBC putting two spaces after periods?

Anyway, all horrible ideas start with vague statements… we know for a fact that other provinces have privatized the registries, placed them behind paywalls, and that there seems to be a single austerity playbook that Liberal provincial governments across the country are working from, and it includes scripts for privatizing government services and busting government unions.

Just a week before Furey’s announcement, Nova Scotia Business Inc. announced $3.4 million in payroll rebates for iGATE, an international IT firm with an office in Burnside. The rebates are conditioned on the company expanding its local workforce by 300 over the next five years, which is all well and good, except the company was already planning to expand its local operations, and had in February completed an expansion of its office building to accommodate the extra employees.

It sure looks to me like NSBI is giving payroll rebates to a company that was going to hire more employees without the payroll rebates. Or, that iGATE expanded its offices with the assurance that the payroll rebates would be given when the time came.

One of iGATE’s main service lines is its Business Process Outsourcing division:

IGATE’s suite of BPO services is a natural extension of our IT service offerings. Our BPO services are built on a foundation of process and domain expertise, and are enabled by innovative technologies. Our broad range of shared services includes Customer Services and Support, Finance and Accounting, HRO Services, and Workflow Management. We also provide a comprehensive suite of BPO services for the Banking, Capital Markets, Retirement and Benefits Administration, Insurance, Healthcare, and Life Sciences vertical markets.

In other words, the company is perfectly poised to take over the government registries Furey is musing about outsourcing. This suddenly doesn’t sound so “vague” anymore; it sounds like a long-planned set-up, like iGATE was encouraged to expand its workforce in Dartmouth precisely in order to take over the registries.

Is that crazy talk? Well, I don’t have any proof that there’s an iGATE outsourcing deal, but consider the case of the previous NDP government, which awarded IBM $12.4 million in payroll rebates in order to establish a “global delivery centre” at the old RIM complex in Bedford. The payroll rebates were part of a package deal that included outsourcing the province’s SAP operation to IBM, at an additional initial annual cost of $8.4 million. (I’ve tried to discover how much the IBM contract is worth now, but the issue is impossibly complex. I’ll get back to you when I have a better understanding of it.)

Outsourcing government jobs only makes “sense” because it takes work away from better-paid union-protected jobs and gives it to non-unionized and even temporary foreign workers employed by the private companies. But apparently even this outrageous attack on working people isn’t enough in Nova Scotia — not only are we outsourcing the work, we’re further subsidizing the outsourcing with payroll rebates.

2. Windsor

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald breaks out the photos he’s taken of Windsor through the years, including the above picture of “tired looking buildings” taken around 1980.

3. Crying

Lezlie Lowe says that a kid screaming for 40 minutes in a diner is exactly like an old lady saying hi to strangers at Tim Hortons.

We all have tolerance for the momentarily unruly kid. Why, just the other day I was eating fishcakes and beans at Emma’s, and a child across the way let out one of those soul-piercing screams perfectly pitched to rattle the deteriorating brain of a middle-aged man who has carefully designed his life around the avoidance of children. Did I disapprove? Did I cast an ugly glance at the parents? No. I wiped up the spilled coffee, picked the chutney off my lap, and continued with my meal. Soon enough, the child settled down into playful babbling and asking questions about every damn thing, and life continued apace. As I left, I smiled at the family. All in all, it was a reasonable social exchange, another successful day of dining out. Try the cod.

But 40 minutes of crying? Give me a frickin’ break. No amount of tolerance for “strong-willed children” or encouraging non-conforming behaviour justifies me happily sitting through 40 minutes of screeching

4. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

I’m always interested, actually concerned, when politicians, especially those with perhaps little or no background in finance or business, are quoted on these subjects. Since Mark Furey was appointed Service Nova Scotia minister, I have read a number of your news articles in which he has been quoted on financial matters, but to date I’ve managed to simply let his remarks pass by even though I have had concerns. However, I simply couldn’t do so with his latest remarks with respect to the privatization of registries.

Your July 22 story states that the minister’s “aim is to avoid looming costs for upgrades to all three registries: $4 million to $5 million each for joint stock companies and land, and about $20 million for motor vehicles.”

Is he suggesting that a private-sector firm won’t factor these costs into any takeover proposal it presents to the province? Having spent 40 years in the area of finance, 15 with a national bank and 25 with the provincial Department of Justice, my experience would tell me that the taxpayers are going to pay for these upgrades in one form or another. It’s simply not reasonable to think that the private sector will absorb the costs. They will approach it in the same manner that the province normally did in the past — i.e., these costs would be capitalized over a period of years.

Perhaps the minister would be kind enough to share with us his background in finance and business. I know he was a member of the RCMP before entering politics.

In closing, I have to ask: Is it possible that we will have another Nova Scotia Power on our hands — i.e., once privatized, executive salaries will escalate and costs to the public will rise accordingly?

Clarence Guest, Dartmouth


No public meetings.

Jonathan McCully

Tomorrow is Jonathan McCully’s birthday. He’ll be 206 years old.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography hilariously tells his story:

Jonathan McCully attended the usual one-room school until he had exhausted what it offered, then began work on his father’s 150-acre farm. From 1828 to 1830 he taught school to earn money to study law, which at that time meant a five-year apprenticeship to a lawyer. He was admitted to the bar in 1837 at the age of 28. McCully enjoyed fighting his cases and put much hard work on them. He was not without elements for success in a colonial society: ambition, thoroughness, and, perhaps one can add, poverty. Yet he was one of those who succeed by grit rather than by brains. He was always a slow, rather unoriginal thinker. Nor was he a great orator. He spoke with force and directness, often with homely allusions laced occasionally with slang, but neither in force nor in metaphor, nor in his public presence, was he the equal of Joseph Howe, whom McCully seems much to have admired.

By 1837 McCully was a convinced Reformer, despite Cumberland County’s Tory preponderance, and had begun to write political articles in the Halifax Acadian Recorder in much the same terms as he conducted his law practice. He was a vigorous, slashing writer, who spared nothing and no one. Under the pseudonym, “Clim o’ the Cleugh,” he made some savage comments in the Recorder on Alexander Stewart in 1839. His support of Howe in the 1847 election was repaid with his appointment in 1848 to the Legislative Council, a position he continued to hold until 1867. McCully was appointed judge of probate in 1853, an office he held until after the change of government in 1857, when he was duly fired. He then opened a law practice with Hiram Blanchardmla, Inverness, a partnership which lasted until McCully left the bar for the bench.


While in the probate court McCully had supported Howe’s railway projects, one of which was to build, as a government work, a line from Halifax to Truro with a branch to Windsor. His reward was membership on Howe’s railway commission from 1854 until Howe’s government was replaced by the James W. Johnston-Charles Tupper* government in 1857.


McCully ran the Nova Scotia Railway from 1860 to 1863 with a ruthless eye to saving money. This, rather than that other touchstone, efficiency, guided him. He was in an excellent position for creating enemies and, being blessed with neither tact nor taste, made good use of his opportunities. A doggerel of the time ran:

I am monarch of all I survey,
My will there is none to dispute,
Trains run when I want ‘em to run.
And toot when I tell ‘em to toot.

It is fair to say that McCully was a difficult man for Howe’s Liberal government to carry. He had little popular appeal; there is good reason to doubt whether he could ever have been elected for a constituency, a fact that Howe was to throw at him in 1867. Howe blamed him, in part at least, for the Liberal defeat at the polls in the general election of 1863, especially because of his bullying administration of the government-owned railway. “Jonathan,” said Howe, “is the kind of fellow that costs more than he comes to. I carried him as long as I could stagger under him.”


Within three weeks after 1 Sept. 1864, the position of the Halifax Morning Chronicle radically changed. The Charlottetown conference had converted McCully, and not a few others, to confederation. Howe made bitter sport of McCully’s conversion. After Charlottetown, Howe said, McCully returned to Halifax as full of the glory of confederation as a girl newly proposed to. Indeed, Howe added, more than proposed to: seduced. St Paul, said Howe, had been converted by a flood of light; Danaë was converted from a virgin to a strumpet by a shower of gold: “you . . . can judge whether McCully was converted after the fashion of Danaë or St Paul.” All through the autumn of 1864 (though editorials languished somewhat during McCully’s absence at Quebec) the Morning Chronicle threw its heavy weight behind confederation, and especially so in the critical period after McCully had returned to Halifax from Quebec on 10 November. Then on 10 Jan. 1865 came the announcement that McCully was fired from the editorial desk of the Chronicle.

In celebration of McCully’s life, all MLAs will now sport muttonchops.

In the harbour

“The volume of cargo in containers moving through the Port of Halifax continues to plummet,” reports the CBC’s Jennifer Henderson.

Numbers released by the Halifax Port Authority today show a 8.9 per cent decline in metric tonnes moved by container ships, compared to the first half of 2014. 

As it stands, 2014 was a bad year in which containerized cargo, measured in metric tonnes, dropped 10.4 per cent from the year before.

Henderson goes on to discuss how the decline in port traffic is affecting longshoremen. The one bright spot in the report is that break bulk cargo — non-containerized cargo that requires a lot of labour to process, typically at Pier 6 — has increased 13.4 per cent, lessening the total hit on workers.

Henderson then reports that despite the decline in traffic, performance bonuses have been given to port executives, but the port did not disclose the amount of the bonuses:

[Port spokesperson Lane] Farguson was asked on what basis, given the decline in the port’s core containerized shipping business, the bonuses were justified.

“Containerized cargo is one factor but there are other factors including growth in non-containerized cargo, cruise ships and real estate — which is significant — as well overall economic performance as shown by the financial statements.”

Revenue generated at the port was up by $1 million in 2014 and the port saw a boost to its credit rating. 

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Friday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Friday. Map:

Bernhard Oldendorff, bulker, Norfolk to National Gypsum
Em Kea, container ship, Quebec to HalTerm

Alice Oldendorff sails to Cape Canaveral


This morning I’ll publish an article related to this weekend’s Pride Parade. Check back.

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

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  1. “Containerized cargo is one factor but there are other factors including growth in non-containerized cargo, cruise ships and real estate — which is significant — as well overall economic performance as shown by the financial statements.”

    I thought I read somewhere that cruise ship visits are also down this year? Or was that last year?

  2. I note that Scotian Halibut is a land-based aquaculture business – exactly the sort of aquaculture we should be encouraging. Hopefuly they get at least as much support as the polluting open pen fish farms have been getting.

  3. 40 minutes of crying? In a diner?

    Why in the world didn’t the parent take the child outside? Incredibly self indulgent almost as much as Lowe’s column.

    Parenting includes social responsibility. Nothing is sweeter than a child’s laughter, nothing more onerous than a child’s crying.

    40 minutes?

  4. Since when is the CBC putting two spaces after periods?

    For some time. It helps newsreaders scan the printed copy and deliver it with fewer flubs (hopefully).


  5. I now realize how damaging it was to make me be considerate of others (er, I mean “conform”) when I was a child. I was told that, contrary to what I believed, I was NOT the center of the universe and that I needed to consider other people around me. I was told not to scream in public. If only I had been allowed to annoy people as a child, I would probably be a lot happier now.

  6. Hunting should not be allowed 7 days per week. Everyone and every animal deserves a day in the woods without guns and bullets whizzing by., Shame on this government for folding under pressure from people who want to get out there in the woods to booze it up and shoot cows.

  7. It would seem impossible that Graham Steele is unaware of the government ‘slow walk’ decision-telling process where big bad changes are broken down into small forgettable pieces so that the guilt can be divided into irresponsible little bits and eventually assigned to the past where as we all know nothing can be done to change the past.

    So it begins with a report, then some claim of benefit, and the idea that the thing is the only logical course, then a study or two, then a budgetary need, then a request for proposals and before you know it the decision has long since been made and anyone questioning it is a naysayer who should have spoken up when they had the chance because now they’re simply a crank standing in the way of what we’ve all agreed to…