1. COVID-19

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Six new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Nova Scotia yesterday (Thursday, Jan. 14).

Three cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Northern Zone and are close contacts of previously reported cases.

Three cases are in the Central Zone — one is a close contact of a previously reported case, and the other two are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada, one of whom is a student at Dalhousie who lives on campus.

There are 32 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital with the disease.

Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 2,096 tests Wednesday.

Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

And here is the active caseload for the second wave:

Wednesday evening, Public Health issued potential COVID exposure advisories for the Truro Horsemen’s Club and for Air Canada flight 614, as follows:

Out of an abundance of caution and given the current testing capacity available, anyone who worked or visited the following locations on the specified dates and times should immediately self-isolate and visit to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.
Anyone present at the below location must self-isolate while waiting for their test result, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Truro Horsemen’s Club (288 Main St, Truro) on Jan. 10 between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Jan. 24.
Anyone who was on the following flight in the specified rows and seats is asked to continue to self-isolate and immediately visit to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.
  • Air Canada flight 614 travelling on Jan. 7 from Toronto (2:18 p.m.) to Halifax (5:22 p.m.). Passengers in rows 1- 4 seats A, C, and D are asked to continue to self-isolate and immediately visit to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Jan. 21.

Here is the possible exposure map:

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2. Vaccination rollout

How is Nova Scotia doing with the vaccine rollout?

“Not good at all,” say many people looking at the available stats, like for instance, the federal government’s vaccination tracker, which places Nova Scotia dead last among the provinces in terms of percentage of doses delivered that have been administered into people’s arms:

According to the tracker, Nova Scotia has administered just 28.48% of the doses it has received (3,831 out of 13,450). That compares to 79.54% in Alberta, 71.34% in Quebec, and 70.11% in B.C. By this metric, even the other Atlantic Canada provinces are doing better — New Brunswick is at 69.19% of doses administered, Newfoundland and Labrador at 47.34%, and PEI at a whopping 83.98%.

In terms of doses administered per 100,000 population, Nova Scotia is also at the bottom of the provincial pack, at just 391.27, compared to 989.61 for New Brunswick, 1015.55 for Newfoundland and Labrador, and 3194.48 for PEI, which has the highest in the country.

But are those comparisons fair? And do the stats measure something important?

My initial inclination was to answer no to both questions.

Let’s think this through. First, what are we trying to achieve with the vaccination program? There are two aims of vaccination, and they don’t exactly align: First, to quickly protect the very most vulnerable, and second, to reach herd immunity, where something like 70% of the population is vaccinated, and so the R value drops very low and the virus comes close to disappearing completely and we can all get on with life as normal again.

Let’s put those two aims in context of the progression of the disease. Right now the virus is out of control in pretty much all the rest of the world, and in terms of COVID risk, Nova Scotia is in the enviable position of being one of the four or five safest jurisdictions on the planet.

In places like, say, the United States or Ontario, where the virus rampages without meaningful control, it makes sense to stress the importance of quickly getting the vaccine out into people’s bodies, but in Nova Scotia, the equation changes considerably.

The best analogy I can come up with is each jurisdiction has a bonfire (the pandemic). In places like Ontario or Quebec, they just keep throwing more and more wood (people) onto the fire, and the fire spreads like crazy. And so they grab a garden hose and start quickly spraying the fire with water (the vaccine) as quickly and willy-nilly as possible, hoping to stop the spreading fire wherever they can.

Meanwhile, in Nova Scotia, we’ve managed to stop throwing wood on the fire, and we’re looking for how best to use that garden hose to douse the flames completely. In the meanwhile, our biggest concern is that embers from other bonfires keep flying into our woodshed, so we isolate those embers until they die out.

To be blunt, much the rest of the world has simply given up on even trying to make meaningful efforts to contain the outbreak. So in many people’s minds, the vaccine is the only route to a better future.

But I’d argue that here in Nova Scotia, at least at the present time, the vaccine isn’t so important when it comes to putting the fire out completely — that is, achieving herd immunity. We need to keep containing those embers flying in, and strategize for an orderly rollout of the vaccine that protects the most vulnerable.

And part of that strategy in Nova Scotia is to hold back 50% of the doses delivered for use as the second dose required. This is an extremely conservative approach, guarding against potential disruptions in the delivery of the vaccine into Nova Scotia. Unlike places that squirt the garden hose willy-nilly and potentially delaying the second doses past the recommended three-week period, we have that luxury.

I wanted to ask Dr. Strang about these issues at last Tuesday’s COVID briefing, but Mike Gorman at the CBC beat me to the punch. Here’s the exchange:

Mike Gorman: Thanks, Dr. Strang. You’ve talked before about the vaccine rollout plan and of course, 50 percent of delivered doses will be held back for the second inoculation. But a lot of people are noting the vaccine trackers online, which are showing the amount of vaccine that we are holding above and beyond that 50 percent right now. I just wonder if you could talk a bit about the rollout plan and the effort to get those needles into arms as soon as possible.

Strang: So I think if we look at I went through a detail on what we’re rolling out, but if you look at January, we stood up a single vaccine site in here in Halifax in December. In January, we are standing out four other hospital sites, six other six long term care facility sites. Each of those sites requires a significant amount of planning, preparation, training of staff, etc. So this is very big and complex. And I think it may, I’ll use the the the northern zone example. We’re getting vaccine in the next couple of days that will go up to that facility in Enfield and a community clinic in Enfield. We’ll start immunizing there next week. The reason it’s taking a bit of time is that it’s getting all the staff who need to be who are going to be immunizing up in that part of the province, getting them up to speed. So they are, you know, fully trained, putting all the logistics in place. You have to remember that we are delivering as of almost full health care services and our health care system on top of our covid response. And then on top of that, again, we’re layering the need to deliver a vaccine. So while it may look that it’s taking a little bit of time, it’s the biggest, most complex health care initiative we’ve ever done in this province. And I really you know, we are rolling that out with the necessary logistics and training in a very timely manner. And again, if we step back and look at January standing up 10 new vaccination sites, that’s quite an accomplishment.

I followed up on that later in the briefing:

Bousquet: Hi. Good afternoon. Dr. Strang, I hear you on the pace of the vaccination rollout. It’s early days, low numbers all the way around, both in terms of cases and vaccines received. But echoing Mike Gorman’s comments, you know, the public perception is, hey, Nova Scotia is, you know, one of the worst in the country of getting this out. I don’t think that’s completely fair at this point. But moving forward, do you see a point where our numbers, our percentages of vaccine delivered into arms, will approach that of other provinces and regions? And when would that be?

Strang: So. So, Tim, thanks for the question. I’m not really concentrating and focusing on on the on what other provinces are doing. I’m working with my my colleagues around. Are we doing the right things here in Nova Scotia? We’re two things. We are we’re holding back 50 percent of our vaccine because we’re in the fortunate position that that certainly all the scientific advice, the advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is, if at all possible, stick with the 21 or 28 day schedule between two doses. Other provinces are looking at having to stretch that out because they’re in a much different situation with covid. And they’re they’re they’re they’re trying to get as much of that first dose and vaccine and other people’s arms.

So we don’t have to do that because of all the other things we’ve done to control covid so we can take the safest approach, which is to make sure that everybody gets we’re focused on getting as many people with two doses of vaccine in a timely manner. So that’s one of the things that feeds into why we may look different than other provinces. I think we also have to recognize, as I said, that, you know, and I’ve said this earlier, when we we are not slow in vaccinating. We got vaccine on December 15th and the started going to arms in the 16th. Those those people then became eligible to get second dose on January 6th. And we started to immunize them on January 6th. It may take a few days to get vaccine and ship it to a new site and then stand up the clinics. But all of this is because we’re at the very beginning and you can’t go from zero to 100 miles an hour overnight. We’re standing up the most complex delivery program. As we introduce each site, we’ll become more efficient and effective over time as we get more and more vaccine to those sites.

And then, Premier Stephen McNeil jumped in:

McNeil: I want to reassure Nova Scotians that the vaccine that is coming into this province is going into the arms of Nova Scotia as quickly as possible. Public Health has done something in this period of time of receiving the vaccine that I think is quite unique, just like we did around testing. We diversified our testing model. We are setting up vaccination stations across the province. This may be a surprise to some. Not everyone lives in the capital city. We are we are vaccinating people in Cape Breton today because we took our time and set up a system and were able to put that vaccine there. We’re vaccinating people in the valley today because Dr. Strang and his team set up those protocols. Could we put that vaccine in someone else’s arm quicker, maybe, but the reality of it is we’re about to receive in April, through April, May and June a million doses. We want to make sure we have the infrastructure to put that vaccine in the arms of all Nova Scotians. And we’re going to continue to do and I’m going to continue to follow the good advice that I’ve received from Dr. Strang and all those who are working in public health and those who are working in health care across our province to ensure that every Nova Scotia, regardless of where you live, can be reassured that your government and your public health officials are thinking about you as well. And we will continue to deliver the vaccine, a vaccine the way we have, which is a complex and a very diversified approach. And I want to assure you that you will receive a vaccine.

I related those exchanges over Twitter:

my short explanation is this: in NS, we could speed up vaccination in the HRM and be at the top of the provincial list, no problem at all, but no one in the rest of NS would be vaccinated. Would that be fair?

— Tim Bousquet (@Tim_Bousquet) January 14, 2021

For relaying the words of the premier, who hales from rural Bridgetown, I was accused of representing “Halifax centrism” by the dependable peanut gallery,

But, I don’t want to be credulous. I wanted to ferret these issues out, so I sent Marla MacInnis, the spokesperson with the Department of Health, a request for an interview with someone who could go into more detail about the vaccine rollout. I wrote:

I’d like to request an interview with someone who could help me out on an article about Nova Scotia’s vaccine rollout.

For background, I asked Dr. Strang about this Tuesday, and I think I understand (and agree with) his response. But the criticism in the public isn’t going away.

That criticism is that NS’s vaccine rollout is too slow, and the stats don’t compare well with other jurisdictions. I understood Dr. Strang to say that, first of all, it’s early days, and the numbers are so low right now that any comparison is meaningless, but past that, that the department is learning how to distribute the vaccine and so a cautious, go-slow approach makes sense at this stage in the program. Moreover, he said, we’re setting up multiple sites around the province, and each of those involve a learning curve. On top of all that, NS has decided to hold back the second dose, and so the stats are going to be lower than in places that are firing out all vaccine received as first doses.

As I say, I’m sympathetic to Dr. Strang’s explanation. In my personal view, right now anyway, I think the virus is so out of control in most other places that the vaccine is seen as the *only* way to combat it, while in NS, at this early stage in the vaccination program, the vaccine isn’t even in the top four or five on the list of effective public health tools for controlling the virus — border control, self-isolation, contact tracing, and the usual protective measures (distancing, mask wearing, etc) are far more important right now.

So that’s where I’m coming from.

Still, the counter view is that the numbers are the numbers, and Nova Scotia should’ve been prepared for this. Other provinces were prepared, and other provinces have rural distribution similar to NS’s, and are doing far more, more quickly.

I’d like to address those concerns. Can you connect me with someone who could discuss the issues?

MacInnis (who, incidentally, is more than patient with the Examiner team, which is constantly bombarding her with questions and requests for interviews) responded a couple of hours later:

Unfortunately we are not able to accommodate your interview request at this time. Please see our statement below on vaccination pace:

We disagree with the idea that Nova Scotia is falling behind in administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Every jurisdiction must make decisions based on their own epidemiology. Licensed COVID 19 products are approved to be administered 21-28 days apart and we are fortunate that our epidemiology allows us to closely follow this schedule. With each shipment that arrives, we ensure that half is reserved so that nobody is left without their second dose.

Our first shipment of vaccine arrived December 15 and we began immunizations the next day. When these people were eligible for their second dose on January 6, those vaccines were administered immediately. We are setting up the most complex vaccination program this province has ever seen. From the moment vaccine is received, the transportation, storage, training and organization of each clinic is happening rapidly to ensure vaccine is flowing into the arms of Nova Scotians as fast as possible. We have now stood up 3 healthcare worker clinics and 3 long-term care clinics since product arrived on December 15.

While our numbers are reported Monday, there is a significant amount of vaccine being administered throughout the week.

Well, that is indeed unfortunate. I had envisioned having a 20-minute conversation with someone with knowledge of the vaccine rollout plan, so we could discuss each of these issues in detail, and maybe I could have published that interview as a podcast. Honestly, I thought I’d play a role in easing people’s concerns about a perceived slow vaccine rollout, but now, I’m questioning why they won’t speak with me.

Hey, I get that Public Health officials are busy, but there’s a public trust issue at hand here, and now they’ve make an initially sympathetic reporter much more skeptical.

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3. And who gets the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

On Monday, the Halifax Examiner reported that vaccinations were beginning at Northwood for long-term care residents and for healthcare workers in Cape Breton — with more clinics to follow in the Annapolis Valley and at two large nursing homes in Halifax Regional Municipality. We questioned why diagnostic radiologists and radiology residents — who specialize in interpreting MRIs, CT scans and other types of images but rarely have face-to-face contact with patients — received a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told us the Chief Officer of Medical Health was prioritizing the order in which health care workers in the Central Zone were getting vaccinated and priority was given to those staffing COVID-19 units, the ICU, and Emergency Departments at hospitals. On Wednesday, the Canadian Association for Emergency Physicians (CAEP) issued a statement calling for “increased transparency” around the prioritization and planning for who gets COVID-19 vaccines.

Here’s part of that statement:

As front-line physicians, we see that many of our members, along with emergency department nurses, other Emergency Department staff, and paramedics have not yet been vaccinated, particularly those in outlying and scarcely resourced areas, where health human resources can be especially limited. At the same time as we are seeing vaccinations given to urban providers with much less or even no direct patient contact. 

Our members’ frustration is made worse by a lack of transparency and communication. While we hear that the population will be vaccinated in phases and that the rollout will follow an ethical framework, there is inadequate communication to support these claims. It is not always clear who is making the decisions and the rationale for prioritization. Many front-line staff have been given no indication of when they can anticipate being vaccinated, nor if it will take weeks or months, increasing their stress while they provide acute care to the population.

CAEP recognizes that this is caused by a variety of factors, including a delayed and disjointed vaccination plan that varies between provinces, with many parts that are uncoordinated, as evidenced by the slow rollout of vaccine and shutdowns over Christmas.

At a minimum, the Emergency Department doctors are calling on those in charge to improve communication with front-line workers and to “provide clear and specific descriptions of which groups are actually being prioritized, and why.” The group is asking decision-makers to put emphasis “on those actually providing direct patient care to critically-ill and COVID-suspect patients.”

(Some of this frustration may have been fuelled by a photograph of a Public Relations manager who received the vaccine at a health district in Ontario.)

The confusion noted by the Emergency Doctors Association is also being discussed behind the scenes in Central Zone hospitals. When we asked the Health Department about radiologists and radiology residents (specialists in training), senior communications advisor Marla MacInnis confirmed that the doctors as well as “technologists” got the shot. Unlike the doctors who work mostly with images, the technologists who carry out Xrays, MRIs, and various other types of scans have direct contact with patients who may be COVID-positive. When the Examiner attempted to follow-up to confirm if all groups of technologists had received their fist shot, we got this vaguely-worded response from the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

“Staff vaccinations are being rolled out according to eligible priority groups, beginning with staff and physicians working in COVID response areas. This includes staff in a variety of roles and is not based on the role itself, but the area and the likelihood of caring for a patient with COVID,” said Carla Adams, senior communications advisor for the NSHA.

It isn’t clear to me what that statement means. It underlines the concern expressed by the national Emergency Doctors group. In and around Halifax (Central Zone), it sounds as if decisions are being made based on where a health-care professional is working, and their likelihood of coming in contact with a COVID-positive patient, and not based on job description. That’s a tricky needle to thread. 

“Eligible staff are being contacted directly,” continues Adams. “If staff believe they are eligible and have not been contacted, they should speak to their manager.”

4. Vaccines in jail

A jail cell in the north wing of the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The provincial government isn’t saying exactly how or when it will begin immunizing prisoners in provincial jails,” reports Zane Woodford:

Advocates nationally and locally argue prisons and jails should be a priority for COVID-19 vaccinations because prisoners are a vulnerable population in a closed setting, with staff coming and going — much like a long-term care facility.

According to Correctional Service Canada, as of Tuesday, there had been 1,213 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in federal prisons and three deaths. There have been outbreaks in prisons in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C.

As a result, prisoners in federal institutions started receiving vaccines last week, despite objections from Conservative politicians.

But the plan for provincial jails, where three-quarters of prisoners are awaiting trial, not convicted, has not been made public.

Click here to read “Nova Scotia provides little detail on vaccine plan for provincial jails as advocates call for action.”

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5. Campaign rules are ignored

Coun. David Hendsbee — Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

“One long-serving Halifax regional councillor broke the rules in last fall’s municipal election along with another candidate in his district, and several other candidates didn’t even file their papers, according to campaign finance documents published this week,” reports Zane Woodford:

Despite several contraventions, punishable by fines of at least $500, it doesn’t appear the elections office has taken any action against any candidate.

October 2020 was Halifax’s first general election under its new campaign finance bylaw, governing how much money candidates can raise and from whom. All candidates were required to file their campaign contribution statements by the end of the day on Dec. 16. The municipality published those statements online on Wednesday afternoon.

David Hendsbee, Nicole Johnson, and Steve Streatch violated the contribution regulations, and nine other candidates didn’t even bother to file the required paperwork.

Click here to read “Halifax council candidates blithely broke the new campaign contribution rules, and the municipality didn’t do anything about it.”

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6. The Epoch Times

This item is written by Joan Baxter.

It landed like an ominous harbinger of still more unpleasant things to come, as if we were short of those. 

On Tuesday this week, Canada Post delivered a “sample” and “complimentary” copy of The Epoch Times – a far-right-wing, Trump- and cowboy-capitalism-loving, misogynistic, homophobic, and rejector-of-modern-medicine newspaper – right to my door in rural northern Nova Scotia. 

Its masthead says subscribers receive a weekly paper with 40 pages and four sections, that it has readers in 36 countries and 22 languages, and is “dedicated to seeking the truth through insightful and independent journalism” that stays “outside of political interests.” Right. We’ll get to that. 

The Canadian English version has reportedly been operating for 16 years and it has a “loyal readership” in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton.

As for its origins, it says only that it was founded in 2000 by “Chinese expats in North America.” 

Last year NBC News reported at length about The Epoch Times, noting that:

Despite its growing reach and power, little is publicly known about the precise ownership, origins or influences of The Epoch Times.

The outlet’s opacity makes it difficult to determine an overall structure, but it is loosely organized into several regional tax-free nonprofits. The Epoch Times operates alongside the video production company, NTD, under the umbrella of The Epoch Media Group, a private news and entertainment company whose owner executives have declined to name, citing concerns of “pressure” that could follow.

I scoured the pages of the sample copy sent to me with a special “limited time” subscription offer, and found no mention of the cult-like Chinese spiritual organization, Falun Gong, that is reportedly behind The Epoch Times and its related media outlets. You can read all about those in the excellent article by Simon van Zuylen-Wood published this week in The Atlantic, “MAGA-land’s Favorite Newspaper: How The Epoch Times became a pro-Trump propaganda machine in an age of plague and insurrection.” 

According to van Zuylen-Wood, The Epoch Times “was founded in 2000 by John Tang, an Atlanta-based follower of the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong,” a movement that now:

…claims to have millions of adherents, encourages believers to abandon lust, greed, alcohol, and other worldly “attachments.” Some of the more unusual characteristics of its outlook include a distrust of medical doctors and a belief in malevolent, Earth-roaming aliens who created impious technology (such as video games). In 1999, the Chinese government concluded that Falun Gong was growing too popular. Beijing labeled the movement a cult and suppressed it. But Falun Gong flourished abroad among the Chinese diaspora, and its teachings took on a fervent anti-Communist bent.

And, van Zuylen-Wood writes:

The newspaper, whose revenues have quadrupled in the Trump years, has used every opportunity to call Biden’s victory into doubt. It has interviewed promoters of election-related falsehoods ad nauseam and eagerly publicized the January 6 Trump rally that turned into an insurrection at the Capitol. Even after the violence of January 6, The Epoch Times has continued to publicize doubts about the outcome of the presidential election. One of its columnists postulated that the riot was a “false flag” operation.

In 2019, NBC also reported on how Facebook had helped fuel the rise of The Epoch Times, and described the newspaper as the biggest advocate of Trump on Facebook, having spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements between March and August 2019. 

According to NBC, The Epoch Times’ “network of news sites and YouTube channels has made it a powerful conduit for the internet’s fringier conspiracy theories, including anti-vaccination propaganda and QAnon, to reach the mainstream.”

Epoch Times have come …. to many of us

Well, it looks as if that “mainstream” that The Epoch Times wants to reach stretches right across Canada. 

It turns out, I wasn’t the only one in the province or even the country who received my mail this week with this newspaper lurking inside the pile of letters. 

Far from it. 

Many Facebook friends — and their friends — report having received the same unwelcome newspaper in their mailboxes or driveways. 

Although far from comprehensive, using those Facebook reports I’ve cobbled together a list of places in Canada where people say they’ve been hit by The Epoch Times this week. 

In Nova Scotia, I’ve heard Canada Post was delivering copies in Amherst, Antigonish, Truro, Parrsboro, Hants and Kings counties. In response to a tweet that Tim Bousquet sent about The Epoch Times yesterday afternoon, there were more reports of it showing up in Fall River, Lower Sackville, Musquodoboit Harbour, Cape Breton, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and in Fredericton, New Brunswick. 

I’ve also heard it landed in the Okanagan Valley in BC, Red Deer and Edmonton in Alberta, in rural Manitoba and also in the capital, Winnipeg, as well as in Toronto and Ottawa. 

So, a trans-Canada dump. 

Which means that untold thousands of people — or hundreds of thousands, or even more, who knows? — are being exposed to some very slick propaganda disguising itself as “independent” journalism. 

This is by no means the first time that Canada Post has delivered The Epoch Times uninvited to Canadian homes. 

In 2020, CBC reported that a postal workers union local in Toronto had complained about the delivery of a “special coronavirus edition of The Epoch Times,” which claimed it should be called the “CPP virus” after the Chinese communist party. The federal government then declined a request from the union local that Canada Post stop delivering the paper, saying that The Epoch Times didn’t meet the criminal threshold for hate speech.

In these post-truth times, which I am trying very, very hard to believe will end in post-Trump times, it is hardly surprising that The Epoch Times has no problem presenting itself as the opposite of what it actually is. Take this awe-inspiring claim it makes in small print in the special subscription offer: 

The Epoch Times is a bastion of hope in this age of misinformation. Honest news like it used to be — no spin, no hidden agendas. Give it a try, and see what a newspaper based on truth and tradition feels like. 

Gag me with a spoon, or anything you can find. 

Inside this sample edition, we are treated to articles conflating Canada’s Liberal government with the Chinese communist party, and to a double-page spread showing the “infiltration” of international organizations and agencies by Chinese representatives — as if other governments of other countries don’t also have representatives at those international organizations and agencies. 

There is even an op-ed by Conrad Black that I can’t tell you about because, my apologies, I just couldn’t force myself to read it, having already gagged enough. 

On page 9, there is an opinion piece by Ryan Moffat, described as a “journalist based in Vancouver,” who writes about the “destructive fallout of male emasculation.” Moffat basically says that because it is no longer socially acceptable for boys and men to be horribly violent, aggressive, and destructive bullies; they are being horribly violent, aggressive, and destructive bullies because that is their nature; and shame on us for being so hard on them and for expecting them — from time to time — to face the consequences for their actions. 

I am taking deep breaths and keeping the spoon at bay, so I can get through typing this next bit of Moffat’s piece:

Manhood was once a term that encompassed responsibility, stoicism, honour and strength. There was an inherent nobility that characterized the idealized man — a self-sacrificing meta hero who could overcome hardship while adhering to a moral code.


There is a lot to criticize about the Chinese regime. I’ve done a fair bit of that myself, in writing about what China is doing on the African continent, scooping up resources, causing massive environmental destruction, building mega-projects that benefit Chinese investors, and plunging entire nations into unpayable debt, much like the Western countries have done for centuries, ever since the first Europeans made their way to Africa to exploit and despoil. 

But The Epoch Times coverage of China is, well, hysterical, over-the-top paranoid fear-mongering, which does nothing but foment Sinophobia and xenophobia.  

The Epoch Times claims to be North America’s “fastest growing newspaper” — which, if true, is ominous. But perhaps it’s not surprising. 

As far-right groups, white supremacists, and conspiracy theorists such as QAnon, lose their echo chambers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and with their alternative platform Parler currently offline, they will be looking for new and welcoming outlets to spread their regressive ideas and hatred. 

The Epoch Times certainly seems a fitting venue for them, ready to fill that bill.

Many Canadians who received the newspaper this week, however, have other ideas about what The Epoch Times is good for. 

On social media, one person said it was a great “fire starter” (she meant literally, and not politically and socially). Others said they found it made a great liner for their bird cage, or the compost bin, or the kitty litter box. 

Someone bemoaned the “trees lost” in making that newspaper. 

Another woman put it back in her mailbox, and wrote on it “Far Right Propaganda — Return To Sender.” 

Still, a few people commented on Facebook that they found it “refreshing” and some said they planned to subscribe. 

And that, to me, is very bad news indeed — as depressing as the right-wing propaganda that fills the pages of The Epoch Times. 

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No public meetings.

On campus


The Health of People Who Experience Imprisonment in Canada (Friday, 12:10pm) — Fiona Kouyoumdjian from McMaster University will present this Health Law Institute Seminar via Zoom.

In the harbour

02:30: Tampa Trader sails for Kingston, Jamaica
02:30: APL Sentosa sails for New York
05;00: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Anchorage #5 to Pier 41
15:30: ZIM Monaco sails for New York
16:00: Em Kea, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Montreal
16:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
21:30: Em Kea sails for sea
22:30: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John


This morning, the internet was especially and even more annoyingly being “helpful” to me. I’ve become accustomed to the “would you like notifications?” thing that now is ubiquitous, despite there being not a single person among all of Earth’s 7,830,458,560 humans who has ever hit “yes” not by mistake. But now, the damn chat box is popping up everywhere, too.

Look, if you’re a web designer or a CEO or otherwise in a position of power over such things, you can tell the marketing people who say chat boxes are necessary to go straight to the hell from whence they came. You don’t have to have that shit on your site or your Facebook page, and you don’t have to let the fuckers continue to degrade the internet experience for the whole fucking planet.

Please subscribe, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

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

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  1. Regarding Epoch Times or News, whichever. It’s not that scary! Got a copy a month ago in my mail which is always full of recyclables. I believe thinking people who like reading lots of things won’t choke on Epoch. Full disclosure – only read first two pages and saved it in my newspaper drawer. Before peeling carrots on it I’m reading the whole damn terrifying thing.

  2. In my opinion, lame and baby duck McNeil has no business on a stage any longer with Dr. Strang. He’ll be there, of course, wagging a finger and riding on Strang’s coattails until COVID vaccine Nova Scotia hits a glitch. Expect him to disappear immediately if that happens

  3. Vaccines

    There may be people in NS who could help reduce Public Health’s learning curve and speed up the vaccination rollout, people who have worked for Doctors without Borders, for example. Has Public Health tried to find them? Or has the NS Government failed to properly resource Public Health so it can hire the organisational skills that might allow it to move forward more quickly? Is Public Health’s hesitation to use volunteers also because it would need more staff to find and organise them?

    As for radiologists, just how many people (vaccine doses) are we talking about? Perhaps this is a side issue. Worthy of more attention is how we are doing with contact tracing and enforcing self-isolation so as to contain the embers that air travel, in particular, send flying.

    In Nova Scotia we settle too often for what we think is “good enough”. We don’t try for “as good as it can be done”. As we saw with Northwood, this matters!

  4. In the exchange with Strang, MacNeil’s interjection appears characteristically hostile and political. It really is a simple question but rather than answer, he becomes defensive, raising more questions rather than providing clarity. Angry dad strikes again.

  5. Ns vaccine roll-out story is a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. 1. Cross Canada stats = cranky + cross. 2. Tim’s explanation = calm + relief 3. Tim’s offer to do more on behalf of the perhaps mis-understood “in-the-arms-roll-out” = appreciation + gratitude. 4. Dept of Health’s “thanks, but no thanks” = see #1.

    As for “We disagree with the idea that Nova Scotia is falling behind in administering the COVID-19 vaccine” = goodie for you, but your opinion is Irrelevant. What Is relevant is what the public beLieves . . . uncertain why that matters? Here’s a date that might help you get it: January 6, 2021.

  6. Tim, one quick note: the page you linked to is a fantastic resource, but is not “the federal government’s vaccination tracker”, it’s run by an undergraduate student at U Sask. Kudos to Noah Little.

  7. I made a quick table last night and Nova Scotia is dead last PER CAPITA in vaccination delivery where PEI is first and NB and NL are in the middle.

    I too received two issues of the Epoch Times (which is a terrible name…The Time Period Times). It started the furnace just as well as any other NS print news media that makes it’s way into our house. Not much merit beyond that.

  8. It has been said that now when you log on to a website you now need to click 4 times.

    1. On the url to get to the page
    2. On the special offer to join/buy
    3. On the chat box
    4. On the notifications box

    Then if your mouse happens to pass over the toolbar (suggesting you might be leaving) yet another box pops up with the last great offer.

    Totally annoying. And I try not to return. Bell Aliant’s chat box seems particularly annoying to me but maybe that’s just because I have been using their support more recently.

  9. Yeah, tell us what you really think about notifications!
    And how the heck do you turn the #@%&&*$# things off???
    My Internet is slow enough without unnecessary chat traffic.

  10. One lacuna in the available info is whether people in the high-risk category (me, that is, old) need to apply for a vaccine, and how to do that, or is there some automatic register, as my physician suggested? I will wait my turn, but I don’t want to be patiently waiting while the rollout moves past me

  11. Okay, I’m puzzled about the need for the lengthy set up and training time for the roll out of vaccine clinics. Seems to me (unless the government has cut them back to shreds) there are public health units all over the province staffed by nurses, for whom giving vaccinations is a large part of their job. And what about all the pharmacists that have now been giving flu vaccines (and better than doctors, imho) for years now? This infrastructure exists and was already activated for the flu season.
    One vaccine requires an insane storage temperature, but the other is well within the protocols already in place in various public health offices (the nurses there immunized school children before Covid and might be itching to get some good needling in) and even in pharmacies.
    I suspect in the background there are some battles over payment for people to give the shots. Might be worth looking at that in all the spare time you have (hahah)…
    So glad you folks are there to give us all some good information!

  12. I generally agree re: vaccination rollout. In NS, how we finish is going to be more important than how we start.