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1. Oil spill

The SeaRose FPSO. Photo: Husky Energy

“Nearly two weeks after the largest-ever oil spill in Newfoundland history, the parties involved remain tight-lipped about the incident and what comes next,” reports Alexander Quon for Global:

Friday will mark the second full week since an estimated 250,000 litres of crude oil spilled into the Atlantic Ocean from Husky Energy’s SeaRose platform, located 350 kilometres southeast of St. John’s.

Only one image of the leaking undersea pipe that is the source of the spill has been released by the operator-turned-polluter.

“We are continuing to develop a plan to retrieve the flowline connector,” said Elizabeth Westersund on Tuesday.

“Once we have recovered the connector and completed our investigation, we will be able to identify future repairs and mitigations.”

The province’s regulator, The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), confirmed that they have yet to receive any plans from Husky Energy — which they must approve before it is implemented.

“Husky is taking the time required to develop its plan,” said C-NLOPB spokesperson on Wednesday.

2. Norman case

“A federal public servant who attended secret cabinet meetings about the $700-million shipbuilding contract at the centre of the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman told the RCMP that electoral considerations were front and centre as successive governments approved the project,” reports Lee Berthiaume for the Canadian Press.

Cape Breton Spectator publisher Mary Campbell created a timeline about the shipbuilding issues and the Norman case, here, and explained:

Here are the stories I am focusing on:

  1. The National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) and more particularly, the large-vessel component of the NSS.
  2. The criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

I channeled my interest in both into a Timeline of Events which took me a borderline disturbing amount of time and energy to compile but which actually helped me to better understand both the NSS and the case (such as it is) against Norman.

That said, my first recommendation to anyone interested in the Norman case is not to read my timeline, but to read Postmedia reporter David Pugliese’s fantastic January 2018 “Man Overboard” article about the case, which is referenced so many times in the footnotes to my Timeline, you’ll sound like a frog if you read them aloud (“ibid ibid ibid”).

After you’ve read Pugliese’s piece (or before, since you’re already here), check out my Timeline. Although probably exhausting it is nowhere near exhaustive but it does contain links to a lot of additional material. I don’t expect you to read all of it in one sitting, but it will be here, waiting for you, anytime you need to verify some NSS-related event.

Berthiaume, the Canadian Press reporter, continues:

Burke’s [Melissa Burke, an analyst with the Privy Council] comments are contained in a partial transcript of an interview with the Mounties in January 2016 that was recently submitted in court filings by Norman’s lawyers. They are the first to paint a picture of the inside of the cabinet room as the Tories and Liberals each weighed the Davie project.

Suspended as the military’s second-in-command in January 2017, Norman was charged in March 2018 with one count of breach of trust for allegedly leaking cabinet secrets to Davie. He has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the charge.

3. Tourism

Speaking of Mary Campbell, she pointed us yesterday to the dipping tourism stats that were released this week. Tourism is down a bit across the province, this year compared to last, and despite the fantastic summer weather. But it was especially down in Cape Breton, and that gave Campbell the excuse to review the entire history of something called the Destination Cape Breton Association (DCBA), and the exodus of its CEO, Mary Tulle.

This is the funniest damn thing I’ve read all week, and I must thank Campbell for lifting me out of what I had feared was becoming a permanent funk. I suggest you read the whole thing, but here’s just one bit of it:

An artist’s rendition of Inspiration Village

Even if Tulle weren’t leaving, I doubt she’d be concerned that her rosy prediction for tourism in 2018 failed to come true. This is the same woman, after all, who told the Post last year that a Cape Breton-themed shipping container, part of something called “Inspiration Village” in Ottawa’s ByWard Market, would mean “the opportunity to have 11 million people see Cape Breton…”

In the end, according to organizer Guy Laflamme, 340,000 people visited Inspiration Village. And while it was billed as an opportunity to showcase Cape Breton to people from all over the world, by this spring Tulle was telling the Port Hawkesbury Reporter:

We saw a huge increase last year from Ottawa specifically. We feel that has a lot to do with the activation that we did in Ottawa called Inspiration Village.

So a) rather than showcasing Cape Breton to 11 million people from all over the world, the promotion showcased Cape Breton to 340,000 people — many of them, apparently, from Ottawa; and b) Tulle has no proof the shipping container (which featured, among other things, a “working lobster trap”) had anything to do with the increased number of visitors from Ottawa in 2017, but she “feels” it did, which is apparently good enough.

How’d I miss Inspiration Village? Truly, had I known about it, I would have gone to Ottawa to have a look-see and become Inspired Person #340,001.

And neither here nor there, but I like how the artist for the Inspiration Village rendering seems to be of the Ancient Egyptian school, as the artist places most of the drawn people’s feet on edge in order to avoid having to deal with perspective:

But Inspiration Village isn’t even the best part of Campbell’s historic recap. There’s a bizarre YouTube video of a presentation given by Tulle, and then a focus on “Chinese families and LGBT travellers,” the first of which produced this brochure created by a Chinese firm:

As for the LGBT market, writes Campbell:

To support the potential LGBT traveler market, [CBC reporter Joan] Weeks reported:

The agency is working with Travel Gay Canada and has asked Hollywood actor, comedian and LGBT activist Jason Stuart to assess the island. Tulle says Stuart will come to Sydney for Pride Week 2018.

(As far as I can tell, he didn’t.)

But then there’s sponsored content in the National Geographic; some back-handed praise from the Globe & Mail; the Travel Media Association of Canada conference DCBA sponsored in Sydney with, shall we say, disappointing results; Tulle’s trip to Hollywood to give away swag at the Golden Globe Awards (put your coffee down before you read Campbell’s interview with Tulle about that); a bizarre bid to compare Cape Breton with Iceland; and the successful “Trump Bump,” of which Campbell notes:

What Tulle doesn’t grapple with, although it must have occurred to her, is that a website thrown together by a radio announcer as a joke was more effective in promoting the Island than years of “research-driven” marketing by DCBA.

I admit I don’t know the first thing about tourism promotion — but unlike supposed “economic development” agencies, tourism promotion agencies can actually be measured against a, er, metric: tourism numbers. It either works or it don’t, ya know?

Anyway, click here to read “Whither Destination Cape Breton Association?”

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. FOIPOP security failure

An image of the dead FOIPOP website page.

“Nova Scotia’s chief information officer says she has no idea when the province’s freedom of information portal will be fully restored and functioning online,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

We’re moving as fast as we can,” Sandra Cascadden said in an interview Wednesday.

The website, which allowed people to file, pay for and receive freedom of information requests electronically, has been down since April. A security failure with the website made its entire contents — including people’s personal information and other data that should have been redacted — available for download by anyone.

Cascadden said the best option is to go back to the market to look for other solutions. Business requirements are being drafted to be used as part of a new request for proposals. A request will be ready by March or April, depending on staff workload, she said.

That means the portal will be down for longer than a year before it is restored and Cascadden said she has no idea when the complete portal will be back online.

Good on Gorman for rejecting the government’s obfuscating term “security breach” and using the more accurate “security failure.”

5. Bus maintenance

City auditor general Evangeline Colman-Sadd released her review of Halifax Transit’s bus maintenance system yesterday. Although she found room for improvement, the overall report is positive.

I’ve taken the bus pretty much every day for the last decade, and I’ve never been on a bus that broke down in transit. I suspect that buses never arrived because they were in the garage being worked on, and on a few occasions I’ve had to leave one bus to get on another at the terminal because the first bus had something wrong with it — the AC wasn’t working, a flat tire — but that was painless enough. My anecdotal experience is that the buses are well cared for mechanically. (Cleanliness is another matter; there are times when it seems the buses aren’t being cleaned at all.)

6. Road mayhem

An RCMP release from yesterday:

At 5:11 p.m. on Tuesday, Inverness District RCMP responded to a 911 call on the Canso Causeway, after a pedestrian, who was walking on the travel portion of the highway, was struck by a tractor trailer.

A 31-year-old male was transported by EHS to St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, where was he was later transported by EHS LifeFlight to Halifax with life-threatening injuries.

An RCMP release from yesterday:

At 7:08 a.m. yesterday [Tuesday] morning, a pedestrian was in a marked crosswalk at the intersection of Arklow Dr. and Merrimac Dr. in Cole Harbour when he was struck by a vehicle.

The pedestrian, a 39-year-old man from Cole Harbour, was transported to hospital by EHS with non-life threatening injuries.

And RCMP release from yesterday:

At 5:03 p.m. on Tuesday, Kings District RCMP responded to a 911 call after a pedestrian was struck in a marked crosswalk on Main St. at University Ave. in Wolfville.

A 23-year-old female was transported by EHS to the Valley Regional Hospital, where was she was later transported by EHS LifeFlight to Halifax with life-threatening injuries.

A Halifax police release from yesterday:

Last night, police charged a man for driving 50 km/h over the posted speed limit in the 1700 block of the Bedford Highway.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m. a member of the HRP Traffic Services Unit observed a car travelling at a high rate of speed along the Bedford Highway as it crosses the 102 Highway. The officer captured the vehicle’s speed at 116 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.

A 19-year-old man from Sackville was ticketed for stunting under the Motor Vehicle Act, a charge that is automatically laid when a vehicle is travelling more than 50 km/h over the speed limit. In addition, he was suspended from driving for one week and his vehicle was seized and towed.

The fine in Nova Scotia for stunting is $2,422.50 and six points are assigned to the driver’s record.

An RCMP release from yesterday:

At 12:12 a.m. yesterday [Tuesday] morning, a member of Halifax District RCMP stopped a vehicle on Hwy. 111 for driving 185 km/hr in a 80 km/hr zone. A 20-year-old male driver from Dartmouth was charged with stunting under the Motor Vehicle Act. The man’s drivers license was suspended for 7 days. The fine for stunting in Nova Scotia is $2,422.50.

7. Sandford drawbridge

Photo: Stephen Archibald, 1975

“In the morning paper a few weeks ago, I was excited to read that many levels of government were putting a little money into keeping Nova Scotia’s tiniest drawbridge in tip top condition,” writes Stephen Archibald:

The tiny footbridge is located in the appropriately tiny fishing port of Sandford near Yarmouth. The bridge provides a steep, but convenient, link across a narrow passage from the sea. The lift function allows taller vessels to pass into a small inner basin.

In SW Nova Scotia the bridge appears to be well known but it’s my sense the rest of the province remains unaware of its charms. I visited Sandford in 1975 especially to see this monument of rustic engineering because I had seen a photo of it in some tourist literature.

Come for the sequential pictures of the bridge through the decades, but stick around for the pitchforking of the cod.




Special Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 11:30am, City Hall) — I wrote about this yesterday.

Public Open House  (Thursday, 12pm and 4pm, the People’s Arena, 259 Commodore Drive, Dartmouth) — proposed zoning changes for Burnside.

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — staff is suggesting that the University Avenue bike lane “pilot project” be extended until the city agrees to make it permanent.


No public meetings.


No public meetings Thursday or Friday.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Thursday, 10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Zina Saheb will defend her thesis, “An Energy Efficient, High Speed Class-E Transmitter for Battery-Free Wireless Sensor Networks​.” 

Can data science be ethical? And why should I care? On DNA, Gamergate, taxi rides, and sea rescue operations (Thursday, 11:30am, in the auditorium named after a bank, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Bettina Berendt from the University of Leuven will speak.

Launch of Dalhousie Libraries’ First Open Textbook (Thursday, 3pm, Biology Lounge, fifth Floor, Life Sciences Centre) — which is Environmental Science: a Canadian Perspective by biologist Bill Freedman. RSVP: marlo.mackay

The Collapse of Middle Class Wealth in the U.S. … But Its Rise (?) in Canada (Thursday, 3:30pm, Great Hall, University Club) — Edward Wolff from New York University will speak.

ESS Student Showcase (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — ESS students will show off their “social action projects.”


Thesis Defence, Biology (Friday, 10:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Mohammad Abo Gamar will defend his thesis, “Interactive Effects of Main Climate Change Components on Growth and Development of Arabidopsis Thaliana.​​​​”

Nontraditional Scholarship and Traditional ways of knowing (Friday, 2pm, Room 1028, Rowe Management Building) — Margaret Kovach and Shaun Murphy from the University of Saskatchewan and Carl James from York University will speak.

In Search of Domestic Stability and Imperial Continuities: U.S.Spanish Relations in the Reconstruction Era (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Gregg French from Saint Mary’s University will speak.

In the harbour

06:30: Delhi Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from sea
09:00: Tasing Swan, chemical tanker, sails from Pier 9 for sea
16:10: Budapest Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
16:30: MSC Immacolata, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Valencia, Spain
18:00: Delhi Highway sails for sea


My power went out this morning, but I was able to get published through the wonders of hotspots and cellphone towers.

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

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  1. Re The Norman case, I note an excellent article from Postmedia yesterday evening :

    Starts with ” At 2:07 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2015, a public servant named Matthew Matchett emailed a prominent Ottawa lobbyist to relay some exciting news.
    “I got everything — the motherload,” Matchett’s email said. But it also said his BlackBerry phone was “caput,” and he needed to know where to drop off the material.
    The article notes the civil servant leaking cabinet confidences has never been charged.

  2. I heard something uncritical in local media the other day (I can’t remember where) with someone in tourism saying they still thought we would hit the $4 billion target and talking about what that would mean. There was no mention of actual numbers.

  3. I read the ship name “Tasing Swan” as involving a taser and a large waterfowl. Being that swans are notoriously cranky and territorial, it’s not an entirely unlikely scenario..