1. Randy Riley trial

A Black man with wire rimmed glasses, wearing a dark shirt.
Randy Riley in the lobby of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Sept. 14, 2023. Credit: Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is now in his second week at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court covering the Randy Riley trial. In this story published this morning, Bousquet covers dramatic testimony from key Crown witness Kaitlin Fuller:

Fuller testified Thursday that she had previously lied multiple times under oath and at previous trials, including at the 2015 trial that led to the conviction of Nathan Johnson for murder.

Fuller’s admission that she lied in the 2015 trial will almost certainly be the basis of an appeal of Johnson’s conviction.

Johnson was convicted for the 2010 murder of pizza deliverer Chad Smith. Riley is now on trial for the same murder. The Crown has had the same two witnesses against both Johnson and Riley: Paul Smith and Kaitlin Fuller.

Earlier this week, Paul Smith recanted his previous testimony against both Johnson and Riley, saying that he concocted his story about taking Riley to pick up a gun. Paul Smith said he made up the story in order to be avoid being charged with murder himself.

In contrast, Fuller has changed her story in a way that further implicates Riley, even more so than her previous testimony did.

This is a comprehensive article on Fuller’s testimony, but here are some highlights:

• Kaitlin Fuller’s admission that she lied on the stand in her testimony against Nathan Johnson in 2015 will almost certainly be the basis of an appeal of Johnson’s conviction for murder;

• Fuller says that from the age of 13, she was pimped out by mother;

• despite testifying that she feared Riley would kill her if she provided information to police about the murder of Chad Smith, Fuller worked as an agent for police to investigate the murder;

• Fuller has had three separate periods in the Witness Protection Program, and in total, the program has given $634,058 in benefits to Fuller;

• a report prepared by the Witness Protection Program says that Fuller “uses others’ emotions for her own personal gain.”

Click here to read “Riley trial: Witness admits she lied multiple times in previous testimony, including when her testimony resulted in a murder conviction for another man.”

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2. HST for new builds

A building under construction is seen in the foreground. In the background, there are complete apartments and their balconies.
Construction in downtown Halifax in 2019. — Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

“In an effort to spur the construction of more housing, Premier Tim Houston announced on Thursday that Nova Scotia will drop the provincial portion of the HST on new builds,” reports Jennifer Henderson.

That reduces the cost by 10%, and follows last week’s announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to eliminate the 5% federal tax (GST) on multi-unit buildings.  

It’s a significant cost developers in Nova Scotia will no longer have to pay, at least for the next two years after which the province will reassess the policy. The federal discount extends for at least five years. Houston said a preliminary estimate suggests dropping the tax may reduce revenue to the province by $80 million to $100 million a year. Houston said he’s okay with that. 

“I hope that number goes up because that would mean we are actually seeing more housing get built,” Houston said.  

Also, Houston and three of his staff are heading out today for a trip to Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore. 

Click here to read “Nova Scotia drops provincial portion of HST on new apartment construction.”

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3. Sean Fraser’s letter to Mike Savage

Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, a white man with dark hair and a beard in his forties, stands at a podium.
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser speaks during an announcement in Halifax in 2021. Credit: Zane Woodford

“Sean Fraser says he’d like to approve HRM’s application under the Housing Accelerator Fund, but he needs the municipality to beef up its proposal,” reports Zane Woodford.

As the Halifax Examiner reported on Tuesday, Halifax applied in June for more than $70 million in federal funding to boost the city’s housing supply over the next three years through 11 initiatives. Those include faster permitting; easier residential conversions; and more development along future rapid transit corridors.

The municipality was still waiting on a response after the federal government struck a deal with London, Ont. last week, to much fanfare.

The municipality got its answer on Thursday, and it wasn’t the one it was looking for.

In a letter to Mayor Mike Savage, shared with the Examiner Thursday night, Fraser, the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities and MP for Central Nova, said he needs the municipality to make four changes.

Click here to read “Halifax won’t get federal housing funding unless it allows more density: minister’s letter to mayor.”

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4. Lobster fleet: from diesel to electric

Fishing boats tied up in the harbour on a foggy day reflect on calm, glass-like green and white water.
Fishing boats tied up in Digby Harbour, Nova Scotia Credit: Nick Hawkins

“A new report has found that 2,300 lobster boats in Nova Scotia’s fleet are ideal candidates for switching from diesel to electric motors, a move that would reduce the fleet’s total emissions by more than 60%,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.

“When I started on this journey with the stakeholders of writing a report, there was lots of doubt that the batteries would be able to power boats,” Oceans North director of marine climate action Brent Dancey said in an interview. 

“But even through the process of writing this report and seeing other demonstration projects and other projects…we know it’s possible. And there’s a tremendous opportunity in Nova Scotia to be leading the adoption of this technology.”

Titled Nova Scotia Lobster Fleet Electrification Assessment, the Oceans North report was published Thursday. 

“What we’ve done actually is we put sensors on boats and we’ve measured how they use energy throughout a day’s work…We’re able to size the battery to basically push that boat around,” Dancey said. 

“That’s how we’ve come to that calculation. Through data and analysis. And basically we know that the majority, a big chunk of those 2,000 boats, can be powered off a 400 kilowatt hour battery.”

Click here to read “Report charts course for how Nova Scotia’s lobster fleet can switch from diesel to electric motors.”

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5. Administrative professionals

A woman sits on a bench in front of the Halifax Infirmary's emergency department.
Halifax Infirmary emergency department in July, 2021. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

“The unions representing administrative professionals (APs) who work with Nova Scotia Health and the IWK want say they are frustrated in waiting for the province to go to the table to negotiate a new contract,” I reported this morning.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia’s labour relations minister said the province is not dragging its feet to prevent the workers from taking job action.

The 5,000 administrative professionals, represented by CUPE, NSGEU, and Unifor, have been without a contract for three years. Members of the unions voted for a strike mandate back in June after rejecting a tentative agreement with that was reached with the province in April. Had they approved that contract, it would’ve expired Oct. 31.

Bev Strachan is the president of the local with and a CUPE 8920 member and a bargaining committee member at the APs’ table.

Strachan said all of those professionals require some level of post-secondary education to do their jobs, but some of the positions pay as little as $18 per hour. That’s far less than the current living wages in Nova Scotia — $26.50 in Halifax, $25.40 in the Annapolis region, $25.05 in the Southern region, and $22.85 in Cape Breton.

Of those 5,000 administrative professionals, 85% are women.

“We can’t figure out why they won’t come back to the table and won’t commit to giving us the date to be at the table,” Strachan said in an interview with the Halifax Examiner. “We’re trying to make sure they know there’s a lot of value in this work and a labour disruption in this work is not what any of us want.”

Click here to read “Nova Scotia health care administrative staff unions want province to head to bargaining table.”

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6. Det. Const. Deborah Carleton

A woman wearing a police uniform smiles to the camera. Behind her is a framed photo of handcuffs and a badge.
Halifax Regional Police Det. Const. Deborah Carleton — Photo: Contributed to CBC Credit: Contributed to CBC

“The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has ordered a Human Rights Commission board of inquiry to hear a Halifax Regional Police officer’s complaint about her treatment for PTSD,” reports Zane Woodford.

Det. Const. Deborah Carleton complained in 2017 after former Halifax Regional Police chief Jean-Michel Blais refused to approve out-of-province treatment for her post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC) agreed to hear the complaint, and struck a board of inquiry.

The process started in 2021 was supposed to continue in November 2022, before a Supreme Court of Canada ruling derailed Carleton’s complaint.

As the Halifax Examiner reported last year, the municipality argued the board of inquiry didn’t have jurisdiction to hear Carleton’s complaint. That’s because the Supreme Court ruled in a 2021 case out of Manitoba that where an employee is a member of a union, an arbitrator appointed under their collective agreement has exclusive jurisdiction over workplace complaints.

In a decision released Thursday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal sided with the commission, and sent the complaint back to the board of inquiry.

Justice Cindy Bourgeois, writing for the majority, ruled that the intent of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act is for the commission to have concurrent jurisdiction over complaints like Carleton’s. That means an employee can file both a grievance under their collective agreement and a human rights complaint. Justice Elizabeth Van den Eynden concurred.

Click here to read “Appeals court sends Halifax cop’s complaint back to Human Rights Commission board of inquiry.”

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7. Liberals’ judicial review

A smiling woman with short grey hair and glasses against a white background.
Chief Electoral Officer Dorothy Rice Credit: Elections Nova Scotia

“Nova Scotia’s Chief Electoral Officer says there’s no need for a judicial review in the case of her cancelled investigation in the provincial Liberals’ campaign in Preston,” reports Zane Woodford.

As the Halifax Examiner reported last week, the Liberals applied for judicial review of a decision to investigate the party.

PC candidate Twila Grosse won the election, and [Deborah] Rice cancelled the investigation a month later on Sept. 8.

Liberal lawyer Mitchell Gallant sought a review anyway. The party wants the court to quash the CEO’s decision to initiate the investigation; quash the finding that the party breached the Elections Act; declare that the CEO doesn’t have the authority to order the removal of campaign materials; and declare that the Elections Act should be “strictly construed so as to comply with the Charter.”

Click here to read “Nova Scotia elections chief says Liberals’ judicial review is ‘moot’.”

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8. NDAs

A man wearing a suit and tie and glasses clasps his hands while looking ahead.
Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns chairs a meeting of the Law Amendments Committee in Halifax on Monday, April 3, 2023. Credit: Zane Woodford

“Nova Scotia’s justice minister says his government will not ban the use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of sexual assault and harassment, but Brad Johns could not explain his reasoning for the decision when asked on Thursday,” reports Michael Gorman for CBC.

“I don’t support NDAs being used as a method to silence victims, but at the same time we’re just not moving forward with it right now,” he told reporters in Halifax following a cabinet meeting.

“It’s a complex issue and there are pros and cons to both sides of the issue.”

The issue has been on the Tories’ radar almost since coming to power more than two years ago.

Initially, Johns said his department would do a jurisdictional scan before making a decision. That scan, which is now complete, included examining U.S. states where the practice is banned and P.E.I., the first Canadian province to pass legislation limiting how such agreements can be used.

Johns said there were “multiple factors” his government considered in reaching its decision and he said there were also issues identified with the P.E.I. legislation, but he would not detail any of those concerns while speaking to reporters.

“I can follow up with you. I have it written all down,” he said. “I don’t want to say something and be misquoted, that’s all.”

Liz LeClair with the Can’t Buy My Silence advocacy campaign called NDAs and “abuse of power”:

They are a way to keep predatory people within the workplace and other organizations, allowing them to continue to harass and harm others. There is nothing beneficial about not passing this bill.

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9. Street checks

A Black woman wearing glasses smiles.
Twila Grosse arrives at her campaign headquarters after winning the Preston byelection on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. Credit: Zane Woodford

“The RCMP’s promise to apologize for street checks that targeted Black people is being welcomed by the new African Nova Scotian Affairs minister, but she says she is more interested in what it will mean for future police conduct,” reports The Canadian Press.

Twila Grosse says she has first-hand experience: she was pulled over by police during a traffic stop in Halifax for “no particular reason” about 20 years ago.

Grosse told reporters following a cabinet meeting Thursday the experience was “quite intimidating.”

“Why, what did I do, what’s wrong?” she said, describing the thoughts she said she had at the time. The minister said there was “no doubt in my mind” she was pulled over because she was a Black driver.

Grosse said she’s looking forward to seeing how the Black community engages with a promised consultation process ahead of the RCMP apology planned for next year, adding that a police plan of action after that will be important.

“An apology is great but what comes after that?” she asked. “What is the plan of action going forward? Sometimes we see that apologies can be hollow, so how do we move forward?”

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How Nova Scotia doesn’t support women workers: let us count the ways

A group of mostly women, many wearing pink, hold signs asking for a fair deal for school support workers. One woman, Joanne Dileo, holds a sign saying 'I am proud to be an ECE! Don't undervalue me!'
Striking school support workers at the corner of Woodlawn and Main Street in Dartmouth on June 7, 2023. Joanne Dileo (second from left) holds her ECE sign. Credit: Yvette d'Entremont

On Thursday, I was writing this story about administrative professionals who work in health care in Nova Scotia, and are waiting to head back to the bargaining table for a new contract, there was one detail that stuck out in that story. It was that 85% of the 5,000 APs in the province are women.

This is a detail in our reporting we’ve seen before. Back in August, Tim Bousquet, Yvette d’Entremont, and I all reported on the strike of school support workers, most of whom are women. Bousquet spoke with Allana Loh, who works as an educational program assistant (EPA), about support workers:

School Support workers are undervalued and underpaid. I have worked as an EPA for seven years. Last year I made $24,000 as an 80% EPA working 28 hours each week.

I am supposed to start work 15 minutes after students arrive and leave at the end of each day when the bell rings. [But] Buses arrive before the first bell and leave after the regular dismissal time so I voluntarily arrive early and leave late to ensure my students start and end their day fully supported.

I am often asked to work a full seven-hour day to cover staff shortages and when I do, I do not receive my regular hourly rate of $18.87, rather I get paid $16.00 an hour, which is the lowest wage paid to an EPA.

There are 281 100% EPA positions who work 35 hours a week. Most EPAs are either 80% or 50%.

Two white men stand on a sidewalk speaking with a white woman in a floral ball cap, black t-shirt, and holding a sign that says "CUPE 5047 Day 26."
School support worker Beverly Slaunwhite speaks with Premier Tim Houston and MLA Tim Halman outside of Halman’s constituency office in Dartmouth. Credit: Suzanne Rent

Here’s what EPA Beverly Slaunwhite told Premier Tim Houston when he showed up at a demonstration of support workers back in June:

Slaunwhite, who earlier pointed out to Houston that most of the striking workers are women, said this strike was about “oppression.”

“You look around and we are a majority workforce of women. If we were firefighters, or bus drivers, or a majority of men, things would be different. I work with women who have three jobs. Single moms with young children and they make not even $750 every two weeks.”

“I do things, and all of us do things, in our day that none of these politicians would ever do.”

Back in September 2022, early childhood educators (ECE) in Nova Scotia, again, most of whom are women, were demanding a living wage. I reported on a rally those workers organized that month. At that rally, one ECE named Bobbi Keating laid out the the details of how these workers get by, or don’t:

In her speech, Keating painted a story about how ECEs get by, often eating at the daycares because they can’t afford groceries. She said others couldn’t afford bus tickets or gas for their cars, if they can even afford a car.  

“There are lots of people who don’t understand,” Keating said. “They see early childhood educators and think, ‘Well, they must be getting paid well. That’s the most important job there is.’ And you realize, no, $15 an hour you can’t afford rent, you can’t afford food. It’s educating people to know that even though we’re there for your children every day, we can’t feed our children at night. It’s really important people understand that.” 

Keating added that ECEs needed to spread the word about their work and they want to know when the compensation is coming.

“It needs to be tomorrow, it needs to be today,” Keating said. “Any time we wait is too long.” 

A group of protestors with signs stand at a monument at a Grand Parade in downtown Halifax.
Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) at the rally in Grand Parade in downtown Halifax on Thursday, September 8, 2022. Photo: Suzanne Rent

If you’re new here, I’ve been writing about women in the workplace for a few years now. In March 2021, I wrote this Morning File, “Women don’t choose low-paying jobs; society just doesn’t value our work,” after learning about a guest who was on CBC’s Mainstreet and said women choose low-paying jobs. Women listening to that show were rightfully furious.

From that Morning File:

Here’s a good piece by Ri’An Jackson on the myths about the gender pay gap that addresses this issue:

Myth: Women are paid less because they choose lower-paying jobs

Truth: Although it is true that women and men take up different careers, choice is not the issue when it comes to pay disparities. It is more to do with unconscious bias or automatic, learned stereotypes about certain groups. Instead of thinking of women as preferring lower-paying jobs, think about why women take these lower-paying positions. And there isn’t one particular answer to this. Ariane Hegewisch, program director of employment and earnings at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told TIME that “it isn’t choice. It’s constraints on choice.” Women are typically seen as being more competent in the arts and so, they are typically led to excel in certain subjects like English in their childhood. Boys are typically led to perform well in math and science, which are fields that tend to pay more.

In addition, society at a whole tends to devalue women’s work. When men choose the same lower-paying jobs as women, they make more money — this can be seen in careers like nursing or childcare. According to a 2017 Medspace report, male registered nurses made an annual average of about $84,000, compared to $80,000 for women. Even in the same field, women are making less, debunking this myth completely.

As I wrote then, the pay gap is worse for worse for Indigenous, racialized women, and women with disabilities. See data on that from this article by Canadian Women’s Foundation on the gender pay gap in Canada.

Women often hear we make less because we don’t negotiate. And that certainly isn’t true for the health care administrative professional who are waiting to head to the table to negotiate with the province. Here’s Ri’An Jackson again:

Myth: Women have lower salaries because they don’t negotiate or aren’t assertive enough while negotiating

Truth: Women do negotiate; they just don’t receive the higher wages they request. A 2018 Harvard Business Review study found that when women asked for a raise, they only received it 15 percent of the time, while men received one 20 percent of the time. This may be because when women ask for a higher salary, they can be perceived as demanding. Some women may even be turned off from negotiating to avoid being seen unfavorably after doing so. In fact, actress Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay about not getting paid as much as male co-stars, saying she didn’t want to ask for a raise because she didn’t want to be seen as difficult to work with.

And in June 2019, I wrote this Morning File called “Where are the women in the Nova Scotia workforce?” I looked at the gender breakdown in various sectors across the province, including health care, engineers, education, and hospitality.

I am starting to see a trend, but it’s one that’s gone on far too long.

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Bridge Mixture: Not-so new and improved

A yellow plastic bag of Bridge Mixture. The package it open at the top and lying on a grey countertop. The page shows a photo of a pile of chocolate candies with red and black text that says "Bridge Mixture." Another bit of text says "New and Improved."
Bridge Mixture: New and improved, my ass. Credit: Suzanne Rent

On Thursday in our team Slack channel, we were talking about Bridge Mixture. The chat started when someone mentioned Bridgewater and I misread that as “Bridge Mixture.” (Don’t worry, folks of Bridgewater; we weren’t saying anything bad about your lovely town).

This is almost as bad as when I once read the city was getting four graders for the city’s icy streets and misread that as “fourth graders.”

“They won’t be any help at all!” I exclaimed aloud to my colleagues at the time.

I’m know you’re all starting question my reading comprehension skills…

Anyway, I quite enjoy Bridge Mixture, but the candy has a new recipe it calls “new and improved,” but in my opinion it’s far worse than the previous recipe. I mean, I eat it anyway, but can still complain.

According to Wikipedia, the Canadian “Bridge Mixture” trademark is owned by Hershey Canada Inc., was registered in 1951, but first used in 1935.

But not everyone appreciate the “new and improved” version. There’s even a petition to get Hershey, the company that makes Bridge Mixture, to go back to its old recipe.

In the meantime, the bag I have is half gone.

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No meetings

On campus


Piano Noon Hour Recital (Friday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) 

Academic Lecture: Artificial Intelligence and Business Analytics (Friday, 10:30am, Rowe Management Building) — Gene Moo Lee from the UBC Sauder School of Business will talk, info and registration here

Intro to Applied Theatre/Drama Therapy (Friday, 1pm, Studio 2, Dal Arts Centre) — with Samar Kattan from Université Sainte-Anne

The Impact of Child Labor on Student Enrollment, Effort and Achievement: Evidence from Mexico(Friday, 2:30pm, Room 2198, McCain Building) — Gabrielle Vasey from Concordia University will talk

Solomonic Proximities and Davidic Distancing: Old Exemplars and New Priorities in the Safavid Historical Imagination (15-17th c.) (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain Building and online) — Colin Mitchell will talk; info here

In the harbour

07:40: MSC Pratiti, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
09:30: Seven Seas Mariner, cruise ship with up to 779 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John, on an 11-day cruise from New York to Montreal 
12:30: One Wren, container ship (146,409 tonnes), sails from Pier 41 for New York
13:30: MSC Pratiti sails for sea
15:30: CMA CGM Cochin, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from 
18:00: Don Carlos, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 9
18:30: Seven Seas Mariner sails for Sydney

Cape Breton
No arrivals or departures.


The Examiner now has an RSS Feed on our website. It’s in the footer, the black section at the bottom of every page. There’s info on how RSS feeds work here. If you’re a subscriber and are already using an RSS reader to gather together all the different publications they read, you can now add the Examiner.

Many thanks to Iris the Amazing for setting this up!

Meanwhile, I tapped out early last night after eating some Bridge Mixture.

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Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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  1. I have had Halifax Examiner setup on my RSS Feed for several years. It’s how I see what is new and exciting at the Examiner.

  2. Easy to have morals and ethics when you are in opposition, Mr. Houston, you certainly professed you did then. Embarrassing that Nova Scotia will not ban NDA’s and go one step further allow those under existing NDA’s who want to speak, the opportunity to speak without legal penalties. Do the right thing for the right reasons do not worry about not getting it perfect. 75% right in this case would improve accountability and responsibility by transparency, 3 words that politicians and civil service employees hate. Oh could it have something to do with politics of the governing party.

  3. For the love of dog, I hope lobster fishers don’t get government subsidized electric conversions.

    If only there was a way to move boats using renewable energy directly