1. $18 million for mental health

A white man sits in front of Nova Scotian flags. Behind him, a white woman with glasses speaks on a large video screen.
Brian Comer, the provincial minister responsible for the Office of Mental Health and Addictions, and Carolyn Bennett (via Zoom), the federal minister of Mental Health and Addictions, announced the mental health, grief, and bereavement services program recommended by the Mass Casualty Commission, on April 28, 2023. Credit: Tim Bousquet

“The provincial and federal governments Friday announced an $18 million program of mental health, grief, and bereavement services in Cumberland, Colchester, and Hants Counties. The program was one of the recommendations of the Mass Casualty Commission,” I reported this morning.

I don’t know what to make of the announcement. I wondered how they came up with the $18 million figure when the first thing they’ll do is a community consultation to see what kind of services are needed.

So, I asked Brian Comer, the provincial minister with the Office of Mental Health and Addictions: “I wonder if you can just help me understand how you came up with the $18 million figure, when you haven’t done the community consultations yet. How do you know it’s $18 million and not more or less?”

His response:

I would say from a provincial standpoint, we’ve done a significant piece of work towards universal mental health care. Those for a significant portion of those priorities where we’re at with grief, bereavement, access to mild to moderate care for Nova Scotians. So a lot of that work was already underway as we kind of tried to work with the community. I’m sure, you know, the information can change, but shows a significant commitment, I think, for the next two years.

Word salad.

I appreciate that people are suffering, and that they need care. But this feels like simply throwing money at the problem.

And will it even work? Where will the extra mental health providers come from without raiding existing provincial mental health services, which are already understaffed? I came away from the press conference with no clear answers to those questions.

2. Northern Pulp

White signboard reading Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation A Paper Excellence Company nestled in a leafy green grove of trees, surrounded and fronted by green hedges and a lawn.
Northern Pulp, a Paper Excellence Company, sign on Abercrombie Point, Pictou County Credit: Joan Baxter

“On Friday, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick once again approved an extension of Northern Pulp’s creditor protection, this time for four months, until August 30, 2023,” reports Joan Baxter.

In its request for the delay, Northern Pulp suggested it might look for a different location for the mill. It also listed a series of “milestones” that it hopes to reach by August, including, reports Baxter:

… by August, Northern Pulp will have had entered “into an agreement” with Nova Scotia to settle claims or compensate the company for “losses associated with the shutdown of the existing Boat Harbour Effluent Treatment Facility, hibernation of the Mill, and cessation of operations and share the costs associated with obtaining approvals for and construction” of the new effluent treatment facility, and have obtained financing for that facility. 

It’s clear that Northern Pulp’s owner, Paper Excellence, expects to use the court roll right over Nova Scotia, and to get a payout of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Four executives with Paper Excellence will testify before the federal Standing Committee on Natural Resources tomorrow. Notes Baxter:

NDP Natural Resources critic Charlie Angus called for two meetings of the committee to discuss Paper Excellence in response to the findings of a months-long investigation by the Halifax Examiner, CBCGlacier MediaLe Monde and Radio France into Paper Excellence, part of the Deforestation Inc. investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Click here to read “Court grants Northern Pulp 4-month creditor protection extension; company lists big demands for concessions from Nova Scotia.”

Baxter has been providing the most extensive, in-depth reporting on the Northern Pulp file, not just as a member of the ICIJ, but also in her continuing coverage. That’s reason enough to subscribe to the Halifax Examiner.

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3. Police ‘integration’

Two uniformed officers stand on a roadway between two vehicles. In the background is downtown Halifax on a partly cloudy day.
An RCMP officer and an HRP officer stand together on Citadel Hill in a photo from a budget presentation to council in 2020. Credit: HRM

Writes Stephen Kimber:

Even before the mass casualty commission report, at least five Nova Scotia municipalities had decided to review their contractual relationship with the RCMP. The Municipality of Cumberland — where four people were killed in the April 2020 mass shooting — has set a deadline of May 19 to receive bids for supplying policing services to the community.

HRM should move on too, assume responsibility for its own policing and create a new model that focuses on public safety and accountability.

Click here to read “It’s time to fix policing, not ‘integrate’ the Mounties and the HRP.”

It never made any sense to have an integrated police force in HRM.

To begin with, the RCMP and Halifax Regional Police have two entirely difference command structures, one responding to vague and politically influenced masters in Ottawa, the other to a nearly un-constrained and usually un-challenged chief in Halifax.

But also, the RCMP doesn’t know what it is. It was built as the military arm of imperial conquest of Indigenous people, then morphed into a more general rural policing agency but with any number of auxiliary missions, including the weird add-on of policing the suburbs of a mid-sized city in the Maritimes.

I recall that former Halifax police chief Frank Beazley attempted to take suburban policing away from the RCMP, but he did it badly, without first generating the political support for the move, which doomed it to failure. In large part, Lorelei Nicoll, first a municipal councillor and now an MLA, owes her political career to Beazley’s blustering power grab. Nicoll managed to get seemingly all her Cole Harbour constituency to come out in defence of the RCMP.

I wonder what Cole Harbour thinks of the RCMP now. During the mass murders of April 2020, the RCMP’s incompetence resulted in the death of Constable Heidi Stephenson, who was Nicoll’s friend and well-liked in Cole Harbour. And the killer was likely heading to Cole Harbour; it’s only by chance that he was stopped at the Enfield Big Stop before he could continue his rampage in Colby Village.

I don’t know. Maybe Cole Harbour still supports having a confusing and badly managed police presence in its community. And if it doesn’t, maybe they can learn to love the RCMP again if the Mounties up their social media presence and bring the Musical Ride to Cole Harbour Place.

Musical Ride? Talk about an RCMP auxiliary mission. It is copaganda in its purest form, but also a vehicle for sexual assault and other assorted bad cop behaviour. And what are they doing giving a horse to the king? Let him pay for his own damned horse.

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4. Police pepper spray crowd; maybe someone’s looking into it

Halifax Regional Police officers arrest a protester at the Halifax Memorial Library site on Aug. 18, 2021. Photo: Zane Woodford

“The chair of Halifax’s police board suggested this week that a review of the events of Aug. 18, 2021 is moving ahead, but wouldn’t provide any details,” reports Zane Woodford:

Aug. 18, 2021 is the day Halifax Regional Police arrested and pepper sprayed protesters outside the former Halifax Memorial Library. The police were helping city workers clear temporary shelters and tents from municipal parks. Apparently unprepared for the protest that met them at the old library, police lost control of the situation. Some with no name tags indiscriminately pepper sprayed into crowds.

Police Commission chair Becky Kent mentioned at a municipal council meeting that there was an “independent review of August 18, 2021” in the works, but then wouldn’t answer any of Woodford’s questions about that.

Click here to read “Halifax police board chair suggests independent review of response to 2021 protest will happen.”

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5. Peggy’s Cove

Inlet with fishing boats
One of the classic Peggy’s Cove shots. Photo: Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch went to Peggy’s Cove Thursday night to report on a consultation meeting on a new land use bylaw (LUB) for the village. It’s complicated stuff:

Unlike the rest of the municipality, Peggy’s Cove is not bound by HRM planning bylaws. It has its own LUB, enacted in 1993 and last updated in 2003. Compliance and enforcement fall to the Peggy’s Cove Commission, appointed by the Minister of Economic Development. The commission must include three residents of the community. 

Development applications have to go through the unelected commission, with no appeals to a higher body possible. So, as Peggy’s Cove struggles to welcome tourists while remaining a viable residential community and active fishing village, the LUB is a critically important document.

The commission didn’t meet for a while because it was understaffed, and there’s been no staff to enforce restrictions or bring order to development applications. Worse, even the newly proposed LUB was beset with problems:

[Peggy’s Cove resident Aonghus Garrison] was also upset because of what he saw as a non-transparent process, through which residents lobbied to have their properties included [in an expanded commercial zone]: “There was an understanding on the side of the planners that people would lobby them, but there was not an understanding on the side of the community and the residents that you needed to do said lobbying to get what you wanted,” Garrison said. When he raised this objection during the meeting, [Ian Watson of Upland Planning and Design, the consultant] acknowledged the point, saying, “I do apologize… Some people knew to ask, and some people didn’t. I do apologize for that.”

Click here to read “Commercial zoning concerns dominate Peggy’s Cove land use bylaw meeting.”

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6. Donkin fire

Smoke rises from a building next to the blue ocean.
A fire at the Donkin mine Credit: Daniel Dillon/ Facebook

A fire broke out at the Donkin mine yesterday. The Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration tweeted out that:

Officials at Kameron Coal reported to the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration that a fire has occurred at the Donkin Mine. The fire is under control and no injuries have been reported.

No workers were underground at the time of the incident. As a precaution, the department has issued a stop work order. The situation is being monitored.

The CBC reports that “Cape Breton Regional Municipality District 8 Coun. James Edwards said the fire involved the mine’s conveyor belt system, but no cause has been determined yet.”

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I didn’t know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.

YouTube video

“Members of the public watching the coronation on television, online and in parks and pubs will be invited to swear aloud their allegiance to the monarch in a ‘chorus of millions of voices’ to be known as the Homage of the People,” reports the Guardian:

People around the UK and abroad will be invited to say the words “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to your majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God”, in a declaration that replaces the traditional homage of peers.

Yeah, that ain’t happening.

In order to become a citizen, I had to swear allegiance to Elizabeth. And I was happy to do so, as I took it to mean I wished the best for a nice old lady, and I extended my best wishes to all those dogs, too. But I certainly didn’t swear allegiance to the legion of fools cluttering up the various palaces and castles and who have sucked from the royal teat all these decades.

Like, get a real job.

Here’s how Patrick Freyne described the royals in the Irish Times:

Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.

The contemporary royals have no real power. They serve entirely to enshrine classism in the British nonconstitution. They live in high luxury and low autonomy, cosplaying as their ancestors, and are the subject of constant psychosocial projection from people mourning the loss of empire. They’re basically a Rorschach test that the tabloids hold up in order to gauge what level of hysterical batshittery their readers are capable of at any moment in time.

Seems about right.

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Peggy Amirault

This item is written by Joan Baxter.

On Friday, Lesley Choyce, novelist, poet, and publisher of Pottersfield Press, posted this sad notice on social media:  

I am saddened to tell everyone that our beloved editor, book designer, typesetter and friend Margaret (Peggy) Amirault passed away in a Halifax hospital early in the morning of April 26 after an extended illness. Peggy had been with Pottersfield for more than thirty years and was a skilled, diligent editor of many of our books. She was also a freelance writer, former co-editor of The Pottersfield Portfolio and a friend to a wide range of writers and members of the literary community.

For a small independent literary press like Pottersfield, the core team of players is a tight-knit group of individuals who continually rely on each other to work together to produce quality books for readers in Atlantic Canada and beyond. Peggy always went beyond the call of duty to keep things running smoothly and support our authors. She will be greatly missed and her legacy will continue through the published books she has so capably and caringly helped bring into the world of literature.

Underneath the media posts about Peggy’s passing, dozens of prominent Maritime literary figures wrote comments that paint a lovely portrait of the beautiful person Peggy was. 

Carol Bruneau called her “a wonderful force.” 

Chris Benjamin described Peggy as “such a delight to work with, so meticulous and insightful and always kind and thoughtful.”

Janice Landry wrote, “Peggy was a beautiful and talented soul who truly lifted up the work and dedicated her life to literature. I thank her for all of her help and mourn her loss.” 

Allan Lynch remembered her as “dedicated, hard-working, detail-oriented, supportive, cheerful and fiercely loyal” saying her passing “is a real loss to the literary community and larger community. I am glad to have known her and sad that she had to leave us too early. She is a real loss to the literary community and larger community.”

Jules Torti said, “She was so wonderful to work with on my last two books. Every round of edits pulled out a gem of a story or a recipe exchange. I won’t forget her tasting notes for the Acadian Rappie Pie – ‘my father and his brother made it when we went to Boston for Christmas when I was about 8 or 9. Pounds of grated potatoes that looked like dirty dish waster and a gooey muck.’ I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to know Peggy and benefit from her experience.” 

Others mentioned her “dry humour” and said she was “kind and helpful during the editing process.” That is high praise indeed for an editor whose job it is to clean up the mess of misplaced words and typos that we writers — speaking for myself only here — sometimes leave on our manuscripts.  

I didn’t know Peggy well, but greatly enjoyed working with her and Julia Swan who edited and prepared my books for publication with Pottersfield Press. I visited Peggy only once — I can’t recall which book took me to her home in Halifax — but that first meeting with her left a vivid memory of a lovely, witty, smart, kind, and incredibly hard-working woman of letters, and a home chock-a-block with books and manuscripts. 

She was deeply interested in the Pottersfield books and the writers she edited. In 2017, she went above and beyond the call of editorial duty, and attended the launch of “The Mill – Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest” at the Wooden Monkey Restaurant in Dartmouth. It was a wonderful surprise and an honour to have her there. 

This weekend I went back through the endless back-and-forth of emails between Peggy and me while she was editing that book. I was struck again by her patience, graciousness, diligence, and dedication to the job at hand, and also her understated wit. I chuckled again as I reread this email Peggy sent me in August 2017: “Here’s the pdf of The Mill for you to peruse at your leisure — but not too leisurely — like a.s.a.p.” 

I hope Peggy wouldn’t mind that I quote from an email she sent to the Halifax Examiner in 2022:

I would like to thank you and everyone connected with the Halifax Examiner for your hard work and commitment to news and journalism … I work for Pottersfield Press …  back in another lifetime and century I worked for one of the 2 weekly papers in Halifax in the 1970s. That was The Scotian Journalist, we even won the Michener Award for Journalism one year, tied with The Globe & Mail. Anyway, thanks, I appreciate what you do.

Peggy Amirault, you will be missed by many for a long, long time.

Tim Bousquet adds: Peggy was evidently a very private person, and I could find no photo of her on the internet.

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No meetings


Open House for Upper Hammonds Plains Land Use Zoning Changes (Tuesday, 3pm, Upper Hammonds Plains Community Centre) — more info here



No meetings


Human Resources (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place and online) — Training and Educational Partnerships: Training Initiatives for Physicians, Nurses and CCAs; plus Agency, Board and Commission Appointments; with representatives from the Department of Advanced Education, Department of Health and Wellness, Department of Seniors and Long-Term Care, Nova Scotia Community College, and Health Association of Nova Scotia

On campus

No events

In the harbour

12:00: STI Comandante, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from IJmuiden, Netherlands
13:00: North Atlantic Kairos, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to IEL
14:00: East Coast, oil tanker, moves from Irving Oil to Imperial Oil
16:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, moves from anchorage to Pier 42
17:30: Seaways Colorado, oil tanker, arrives at Berth TBD from EverWind
18:00: STI Comandante moves to Irving Oil
21:00: North Atlantic Kairos sails for sea

Cape Breton
09:00: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, arrives at Bulk Terminal (Sydney) from sea
13:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, sails from Government Wharf (Sydney) for sea
16:00: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
19:00: Ocean Explorer, cruise ship, sails from Sydney for sea


If Musk gives an outsized platform to Tucker Carlson, I’m leaving Twitter.

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

Joan Baxter is an award-winning Nova Scotian journalist and author of seven books, including "The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest." Website:;...

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  1. As a resident of Cole Harbour, I don’t feel that the RCMP are responsive to the needs of suburban policing. For example, we have a fantastic trail system in the community including the Saltmarsh Trail which attracts visitors from the entire HRM area. Yet the RCMP have no OHV capacity to respond to any incident on the trails let alone do patrols. HRP on the other hand have resources including OHVs, bicycles even horses. In Cole Harbour it seems like a Mountie won’t even get out of a car. We need a different model of policing. Maybe the RCMP were the right fit years ago, but not now.

  2. I have a fairly equal disdain for almost all elites and authority figures and especially the ultra wealthy…the royals just hit all those buttons but they come with the added bonus of the deluded authority from god BS. Enough already, it’s 2023!
    ‘If I went around saying I was an emperor…they’d put me away’.

  3. In a perfect world, a good monarchy can be a unifying and inclusive force. A monarchy is theoretically above often divisive politics. The notion is that despite differences, we are all equally subjects of the monarch.

    This is something Conservative politicians would do well to remember. They are “His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition,” which suggests that while they may oppose the sitting government, they must remain supportive of the constitution, the monarch, and ALL the citizens under the monarch. By the same token, it might not hurt to remind city politicians that they fail their duty to their monarch when they do not provide for homeless people.

    Extending the invitation (not requirement) to swear allegiance to everyone, and not just the hereditary peers, is a nod towards inclusiveness.

    There are plenty of people with valid grievances against the former British Empire, the current UK, and the entwined monarchy, but we should be cautious of tossing out the baby (1,098 years old) with the bathwater. I may be biased, of course, due to my appreciation of England missionaries rescuing my grandmother from slavery in Syria, and England accepting her and my grandfather as refugees.

  4. Comer and Bennett don’t look ready to swear allegiance to anything, except perhaps some R & R.