On campus
In the harbour


1. Cold

It’s minus 17 with a wind chill of minus 27 this morning. But the folks at the Oval have announced closing day is March 20, because supposedly warm weather is coming. Long range weather forecasts aren’t reliable in Nova Scotia but, for what it’s worth, the Weather Networks says it’s going to be plenty cold enough to maintain the ice for the next two weeks:

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 7.52.18 AM

Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Savage is sacrificing goats to Tempestas, the Roman goddess of bad weather:


Yea, I know, I’m going on forever about the sidewalks, but I feel the need to point out that anyone can do a good job at snow and ice removal in nice weather — the sidewalks in Havana don’t have a speck of ice on them. But the entire point of snow and ice operations is to be prepared for bad weather. Blaming sky goddesses for lack of preparation doesn’t cut it.

2. Cyberbullying

The Cyberbullying Act, rushed through the legislature in the wake of Rehtaeh Parsons’ suicide, is overly broad and will is the subject of a Supreme Court challenge. In the meanwhile, its use has strayed a long way from teenagers sharing photos of each other. Rob Romard, a Cape Breton man, has been issued a warning by the province’s CyberScan unit that his Twitter and Facebook posts about his former employer, Cape Breton Hyundai, constitute cyberbullying:

Roger Merrick, director of public safety for the Justice Department, signed the Feb. 23 letter Romard received, saying his actions constituted cyberbullying and directing him to remove all communications about Cape Breton Hyundai and its owners from the Internet within 48 hours. The letter said if that didn’t happen, the province may get a court order to enforce the ruling.

Romard has not complied with the warning.

If the owners of Cape Breton Hyundai feel Romard has defamed him, they can hire a lawyer and file suit alleging violation of defamation and libel laws, and argue their position before a judge. Using the provincial Department of Justice to intervene in a private dispute is beyond the pale. The Cyberbullying Act is a step too far.

3. Harley Lawrence killer

Reports the CBC:

Daniel Wayne Surette, 27, and Kyle David James Fredericks, 25, admitted to dousing [Harley] Lawrence with $10 worth of gas and setting the homeless man on fire while he was still alive.

Fredericks is the same man who [Amy] Graves believes sold her brother Dilaudid in 2011. Joshua Graves died from an overdose the night he mixed those drugs with alcohol at a house party in Berwick.

Fredericks was later charged with criminal negligence causing death, but the judge decided there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant a criminal conviction and he was acquitted in February 2013.

4. War

The HMCS Fredericton, based in Halifax, is one of six ships taking part in NATO operations in the Black Sea. The Defence Department “says the exercises are directly related to Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine,” reports the Cape Breton Post.

During the Cold War, NATO mostly avoided the Black Sea.

5. Autoport

About 15,000 cars sit encrusted in ice at the Autoport. CN, which operates the Autoport, blames the weather, but Kevin Piper, with the Halifax Longshoremen’s Association, says CN has long been slow at moving cars, even when the weather is fine. Such delays may cause car companies to find another port, reports the CBC.

6. I’m walking here

Police releases to reporters aren’t always intelligible. It’s hard to say if this morning’s release from shift sergeant Ken Burton is saying that the driver took the car onto the sidewalk, or if he simply cut someone off in the crosswalk:

At approximately 7:10 pm on March 5, 2015 HRP responded to the intersection of Portland Pl and Gottingen Street in Halifax in relation to an assault. The victim reports that he was driving his car on Portland Pl and came to the stop sign at Gottingen St. He stopped then slowly made his way out and while across the sidewalk his car was smacked by a pedestrian that was mad that he was on the crosswalk. The driver allowed the pedestrian to cross and then when he went to pull away the pedestrian struck his car with a beer bottle. The driver stopped his car and attempted to call the police. The pedestrian opened the passenger door to the car and assaulted the driver while trying to prevent the driver from calling police. The driver sustained non-life threatening injuries but required medical attention.

 Male (pedestrian) charged with Assault Causing Bodily Harm and Breach of Probation and held for court in the morning.

Violence is inexcusable, but this cold weather, the icy sidewalks, and the continued bad behaviour of drivers has sent some people over the breaking point, evidently. Or, maybe someone was making a movie.

Dustin Hoffman explained how it went down:

It was a low-budget movie. Nobody wanted to make this movie, Midnight Cowboy. People walked out during previews; it was considered filthy in 1969. Very low budget. Consequently, on Sixth Avenue, there was no money to stack it with extras.

So it’s what they call a stolen shot. We have radio mikes on, the van is across the street, we rehearse it by ourselves. You know, the director [John Schlesinger], me and [Jon] Voight.

And we would have to do this dialogue walking. And the hidden camera across the street would go with us, but we couldn’t stop the signal, so we had to reach the dialogue at a certain point so we wouldn’t have to stop. It would have to be turning green when we hit it.

So we rehearsed it ourselves and we finally got — oh, so we’ll start this far back, then we’ll do this pace and then we’ll get there when it just hits green — perfect — and we can just continue. And we do it, and the first take a cab jumps the light …

I wound up saying, ‘I’m walkin’ here!’ But what was going through my head is: ‘Hey, we’re makin’ a movie here! And you just fucked this shot up.’ But somehow something told me you’d better keep it within the character.

And then Schlesinger jumps out of the van and goes, ‘What happened? What happened? What happened?’ We told him, he says, we have to do it again just like that. That’s in the movie. It almost hit us, that guy.


1. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

I am so sick of the term “expert,” the latest example being some “expert” from Ottawa, of all places, advising that Halifax should be keeping bike lanes open in the winter, especially this winter (March 4 story).

How do these people earn the title “expert” anyway? Every time one turns on the news, or no doubt many of the daytime TV shows — which I do not watch anyway (too many “experts”) — there is some “expert” sounding off about something or another.

Politics, climate, clearcutting — you name it, there is an expert telling the rest of us how to live, eat, travel, whatever. Too many experts, not enough common sense. Of course, there are an equal number of “experts” with opposing opinions. Balance! Is that what the media are aiming for?

While I am at it, I suppose some “expert” advised Halifax and other municipalities to make policies such as perfectly clear streets and sidewalks year-round when it is an impossibility in a country with snowy winters. These policies just set them up for lawsuits and, of course, another expert — a judge — will decide some claim has merit when a bit of common sense should prevail. But our laws do not permit that sort of nonsense. Good Lord, people. Get real.

Ralph Pick, Truro Heights


No public meetings.

The city has issued a tender for a head-hunting firm to find a new Director of Finance. Evidently, the current director, Greg Keefe, is finally moving on.

Keefe has somehow maintained a sense of humour and good will despite nearly 40 years of government service. In 2011, he retired as deputy minister to the Premier’s Office, only to find himself landing at City Hall to “temporarily” fill the position of finance director. The former finance director, Cathie O’Toole, had left for a lower profile position at Halifax Water after exposing the shenanigans that ultimately became the concert scandal.

On campus


Perovskite Solar Cells (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226)—Timothy Kelly, from the University of Saskatchewan, will talk about “Perovskite Solar Cells: from device fabrication to device degradation.” Bring your own sun.

CANCELLED Elmwood (Friday, 3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, Room 1170)—Martha Walls, from Mount Saint Vincent University, will talk about “History of Elmwood: Coercion, Interference, Gender and he Disestablishment of the New Germany Indian Reserve.”

This lecture was cancelled this morning, and is being replaced with the following:

Slaves, Concubines and Wet-nurses: creating kinship in Saharan society. “Stories from Mauritania” — E Ann McDougall, Dept. History and Classics, University of Alberta


After yesterday’s discussion of swatting, someone on the internet (sorry, I forget who) pointed me to Wednesday’s episode of the podcast Reply All, which discusses at length the issue.

One fact mentioned in the podcast: in the 1980s, there were about 3,000 SWAT raids annually in the United States. Now, there are 50,000.

The violent crime rate is plummeting — it’s about half what is was in the 1990s. And yet police are more militarized than ever.

In the harbour

The seas off Nova Scotia, 8am Friday. Map:
The seas off Nova Scotia, 8am Friday. Map:


Atlantic Conveyor, ro-ro container, Norfolk to Fairview Cove East
Graceful Leader, car carrier, Emden, Germany to Autoport


APL Scotland to New York
Oceanex Sanderling to St. John’s


I’ll post an article by Moira Donovan on the site this morning.

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

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  1. I have to agree with Mr. Parsons. We’ve owned a home in the DTDN for thirty-three years and recall the great sidewalk clearing service Dartmouth provided when we were our own municipality. This excellent service didn’t disappear overnight with amalgamation, but the quality and timeliness of sidewalk snow maintenance slowly eroded – possibly getting even worse after a greater area of HRM began to be included in this service. Light snowfalls only required blades (appropriately sized to our sidewalk) and with major storms we had the industrial sidewalk snow-throwers.

    The companies bidding on sidewalk clearing are obviously not interested in acquiring the proper equipment needed; but, most likely, see an opportunity to make some money with otherwise idle three season landscaping/construction equipment – IMHO. I have watched the bobcat with the mini front end loader clear our sidewalks and have noticed that they are unable to dump what has been scooped anywhere else but to the sides of resident’s driveways where they can turn their machine. This, of course, creates a five or six foot mound and a very dangerous situation when trying to leave the driveway with oncoming traffic.

    All of this being said, I have lived in Halifax/Dartmouth since 1978, with the exception of six years in Ottawa/Montreal and have never experienced the type of storms as we’ve seen this past February. I have spoken to many neighbours and friends who have lived here longer and they don’t recall any such sustained snow, freezing rain and flash freezes as last month brought to us courtesy of Mother Nature.

    I made the mistake of clearing my driveway the evening of the first February snowstorm where another four to six inches fell overnight with a great amount of freezing rain. There was nothing to be done in the morning as I now had 4 inches of concrete-like ice *glued* to our concrete driveway. Those people who did not clear the night before evidently had a thick crust on top of light snow that was clearable to their driveway – a nightmare to be sure with the crust, though. In any case, I have spent a few hours each day over the past two weeks with a heavy steel shovel slowly wedging under the ice and breaking it up – slow going especially as it has to be sledded to the back garden. Believe it or not, the weight of the ice I have broken up and moved to the garden equates to about seven short tons (6.3 metric tonnes).

    I suppose, in summary, if the city couldn’t or wouldn’t deal with the mess the least they could have done is ensured that the sidewalks were well sanded/salted – which in most places is *still* required on a daily basis.

  2. Re: The ongoing sidewalk problem. As I write this, outside my office some poor person is trying to break up sidewalk ice with a Bobcat and its still about -10 outside. Forget Bold Halifax can we please just be Common Sense Halifax. Bobcats don’t work! Period. We learned that last year and here we go again. Back in the day, when Dartmouth was a city, we had machines designed for sidewalks. They had a plow or snow blower in front and a salt/sand spreader on the back and they worked very well. One pass did both jobs. I’ve had Bobcats up and down my sidewalks for weeks now and after they pass there is no difference in the condition of my sidewalk. Is this a matter of just going through the motions, so the mayor can show up on radio and say, “we’re doing our best”? Bobcats – attention mayor and council – are designed for landscaping and small earth moving jobs, not clearing sidewalks.

  3. Tim wrote: « …the continued bad behaviour of drivers has sent some people over the breaking point, evidently…»

    Err… pity the hapless DRIVER trying to see past 6-foot snow banks while KAMIKAZE pedestrians, without a thought in the world, swarm his car from both sides, behind, and in front. Unfortunately, it is NECESSARY to «stop in the crosswalk» in order to escape being crushed flat by a speeding cement truck! Karma goes BOTH WAYS ya know!

    1. In February a pedestrian was waiting at a light to cross (Quinpool & Robie). I was going downhill, about 10 km/hr in a snowstorm and tried to come to a stop as the light had turned amber. My car hit ice and I slid about 5-10 feet extra so my bumper was in the crosswalk. There was no way I was going to be able to backup, and another vehicle almost slid into my rear after hitting the same ice patch.

      The pedestrian witnessed all of this.

      She crossed about 20 seconds later and *gasp* had to bow her walk around my bumper. It added an extra 3-4 feet to her daily walk and she did not need to come anywhere close to entering the intersection to get around me It was the slightest inconvenience ever. She decided to stop in front of my vehicle, lean on my hood and flip me off while spitting on my windshield.

      Some people have a victim’s attitude when they leave the house, and surprise surprise, they won’t be disappointed.

      Eff her and the horse she didn’t ride in on.

  4. My understanding with outdoor rinks is that the angle of the sun is more important than the air temperature (or even rain). As we get closer to the vernal equinox, it becomes much harder to keep the ice frozen because the ice is absorbing more of the sun’s rays than the compressors can handle.

    The Toronto-based Centre for Local Research into Public Space (CELOS) says “compressor-cooled outdoor rinks do very well in temperatures up to 15 degrees Celsius, during the 15 weeks when the sun is lowest in the sky.”

    As a result, the City Rinks Toronto group has long been advocating to open rinks in early November instead of trying to keep them open until March Break. They say it’s far more cost-effective, and you’d get a few more weeks of consistent skating conditions that way.

    City Rinks has spent more than a decade tracking the correlation between sun angle, temperature, and rink closings. You can read a lot more of their research here:

    1. This is great stuff. Jennifer Watts also said in Council on Wednesday that the longer it is frozen the thicker the ice gets the harder it is for the ice chillers to keep the surface cold enough to have a good, non-slushy surface for the skate blades. Every Zamboni run or rain/snow makes the ice a bit thicker.