On campus
In the harbour


1. Dexter

Darrell Dexter
Darrell Dexter

The CBC’s Amy Smith interviews Darrell Dexter, who doesn’t really say anything interesting.

2. Examineradio

The Halifax Examiner has started a free weekly podcast. It will always be posted on the website, but will also soon be available on iTunes. Here’s the first edition:

[direct link]

3. Addicted to destruction

Social dislocation leads to addictive behaviour, says Bruce Alexander, an emeritus professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University. And the strongest addiction of all in our capitalist economy is to mindless consumption, which is destroying the earth.

This article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.

4. Icy roads mean fewer pedestrians being struck

I guess it doesn’t matter any more, but it’s snowing this morning. One upside of all this winter’s misery is that there’s been a noticeable and welcome decline in the number of pedestrians struck by drivers. This doesn’t surprise me: drivers are driving slower in the icy conditions, and are therefore more aware of pedestrians and have better reaction time.

5. Wild Kingdom

Reports the CBC:

The Cobequid Rehabilitation Centre in Nova Scotia is receiving almost daily phone calls from people who are discovering injured birds, four times the usual number of winter-time calls.

At least three grounded ducks have been reported on Prince Edward Island.


1. Transit

Halifax Transit’s proposed new network is a good first step but doesn’t go far enough, says Sean Gillis.

2. Dormers

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

Following up on last week’s posts about Scottish dormers, Stephen Archibald today gives us a more generalized tour of dormers in Nova Scotia, including this photo from Yarmouth. “I’ve always been a fan of eyebrow dormers that seem to push up from the roof,” he explains.


“It’s difficult to see Education Minister Karen Casey’s decision to cut off funding for the Council on African Canadian Education (CACE) as anything but vindictive,” writes Stephen Kimber, who goes on to give the history of the dispute over the naming of the Africentric Learning Institute.

I’ll leave the naming issue aside, but Kimber dismisses the stated reason for defunding CACE — troubling audits of the organization as irrelevant to the defunding of CACE. I fear he may be wrong. A source with knowledge of the details of the audits tell me that are bad — very bad — and the fact that alleged misappropriation of funds went on for so long reflects badly on the bureaucratic staff in the Department of Education, which should have had much better oversight of CACE. I haven’t been able to independently verify my source’s allegations, but the fact that the case has been turned over to police suggests they may have merit. If so, we will soon see a governmental scandal of the first order.

4. Bogus poll results

Most of those polled on Bill C-51 were completely unaware of its contents.
Most of those polled on Bill C-51 were completely unaware of its contents.

“Every mainstream media outlet in Canada is reporting that 82 per cent of Canadians support Bill C-51, the Harper government’s proposed “anti-terror” legislation,” writes Bruce Wark, who then goes on to show how the Angus Reid poll is not reliable:

The Pew Research Center in the U.S. warns that online polls have their limitations. For one thing, participation is limited to people with access to the Internet. For another, online polls like this one, are based on panels of people who volunteer to fill out surveys in return for small amounts of money, a chance to win prizes and the promise that their opinions will influence elite decision makers. (See below for more details on the Angus Reid panels. For more detailed information about the limitations of online polls, see this 2010 report from the American Association for Public Opinion Research.)

Even if we suspend concerns about the accuracy of online surveys and assume this one does accurately reflect Canadian public opinion, the poll shows that more than half of those who took part knew little or nothing about Bill C-51. In fact, only 18 per cent of those surveyed seem to have paid much attention to media reports and what friends and family had to say.

So why attach any significance to this poll?

Well, it’s an election year and for months, journalists have been scrambling to figure out which issues may favour one party or another. It’s part of the media fascination with the political horse race, who’s gaining and who’s losing. And the polls, with their seemingly precise numbers, seem to offer answers.

As they say, perception is reality.

5. Torture

“The Washington Post has outed Jihadi John as former Briton Mohammed Emwazi,” writes Parker Donham. “Way down in the depressing story, former hostages reveal that Emwazi ‘participated in the waterboarding of four Western hostages.’

“Gee, I wonder where ISIS got that idea?”

6. Cranky letter of the day

To King’s County News:

I, Calvin George, and my wife, Martina, recently took a vacation to Orlando with Sunwing. The week there was amazing. Our trouble started on our journey home, Flight WG037 from Orlando to Halifax on Feb. 15, 2015. Halifax was in the midst of a terrible snowstorm, the entire city was shut down! Including the airport, all roads and highways, even the military base due to the treacherous conditions. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that the flight never should have left Orlando in the first place. However, the complaints that I am bringing forth in this letter have absolutely nothing to do with the weather (as I am sure Sunwing will try to use that as a scape goat). The problem started when we finally landed in Montreal, Quebec.

This Sunwing employee was frolicking on the beach instead of helping stranded Maritimers.
This Sunwing employee was frolicking on the beach instead of helping stranded Maritimers.

I have 65 signatures and some testimonials that will point to nothing short of inhumane treatment and this is our story:

After a delayed departure (already on board the plane), and five hours on a three-hour flight to Halifax, one hour circling Halifax (hoping to land) and then redirected another one hour until we finally landed in Montreal. We were able to disembark our plane, where we were instructed by the stewardess to go through customs and then to baggage claim for our luggage, where we would receive further instructions.

Upon arriving at the baggage claim, there was no representative to inform us of anything, or any sign of our luggage. We did find someone working at the airport that was unable to answer any of our questions. Finally, after many complaints and explanations of passengers who had health issues on the flight, they started giving us our luggage, three hours after arrival, and not all baggage was received.

Even though we already passed through customs we were still in a secure area, separate from the regular flights, where we had no access to food or water. There were several children on this flight, including a 10-month-old, who had not eaten for several hours, their parents were begging for food, just something to eat, even so much as chips, candy or chocolate, anything to help their very hungry children. And there was even a gentleman with a heart condition, he only has a 26 per cent heart function, who was 4.5 hours behind on medication because it had to be taken with food. And a senior with diabetes. We were all denied food.

Other testimonies and issues include:

• No representatives

• No assistance for senior in wheel chair.

• No access to strollers as they were still under the plane.

• No planned accommodations

• Lack of information

At least 500-1,000 passengers from other reroutedairlines had passed through quickly and efficiently while we were all still stranded and ignored!

It wasn’t until around 8:30 p.m. that somebody finally came to hand out meal and hotel vouchers, which had issues all of their own!

The list continues but I will save that for the media!

Calvin George, Centreville



Grant committee (1pm, City Hall)—the committee will look at grants for search and rescue organization.

Districts 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee (4pm, City Hall)—the committee will look at revisions in the regulations of residential conversions on the peninsula because “staff have been alerted to issues in the zone which would allow unlimited number of bedrooms in each unit.”

Website—last year the city “refreshed” its website in such a manner that everyone lost their bookmarks and google search results. Today, the city has issued a Request for Information looking for a vendor to rebuild the website yet again. Here’s my favourite part of the RFI:

Transformation; Transform; Transformed – is terminology adopted by the Municipality and is intended to convey the municipality’s goal of becoming a leading multi-channel, information and service delivery organization.



No public meetings.

On campus



JonArno Lawson, reading to university students.
JonArno Lawson, reading to university students.

JonArno Lawson (Monday, 10:30am, Rowe 5053)—”Ontario poet, JonArno Lawson will be discussing how he writes and assembles his books, and the process of publishing, as well as his interactions with students in the workshops he conducts. His most recent book, Sidewalk Flowers (Groundwood Books), illustrated by Nova Scotian, Sydney Smith, [was] launched on March 1st, 2015 at the Halifax Central Library.”

Thesis defence, Chemistry (Monday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building)—PhD candidate Victoria Berryman will defend her thesis, “Insights into the Electronic Nature of the Iron Porphyrin Framework: A Computational Study.”


Geographic Information System (Tuesday, noon,Room C300, C Building, Sexton Campus)—The GIS Centre explains:

The GIS Centre’s Lunchless Learn Series is back for the winter term! These are hands-on tutorials, held around lunchtime, open to all on campus (without the food).

A GIS, or Geographic Information System, is “a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, integrating, manipulating, analyzing and displaying data relating to positions on earth’s surface.” In other words, it’s an easy and fun way to look at the world differently.

This series gives people a taste of what GIS is and how it can be used. We are offering the same session at different times and locations, so choose the one that fits your schedule best. These sessions are meant to be self-contained; after the intro session–take only the topics that are of interest to you.

Biomedical Visions (Tuesday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery)—next in the ongoing series, Sarah Maloney Knitted Anatomy and Lisa Nilsson will talk.


CNIB Dining in the dark (Thursday, 5pm, Dalhousie McInnes Room, 6136 University Ave)—I’m putting this out a little early so those interested can reserve seats. Says the CNIB:

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) invites you to attend their third annual Dining in the Dark – a signature, volunteer-driven event in Atlantic Canada to raise funds for CNIB programs and services.
During this unique dining experience, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a meal while relying solely on your sense of touch, taste and smell. Throughout the evening, two inspiring individuals will share their own personal story about how CNIB has helped them see beyond vision loss.

Appetizer: Roasted Butternut Squash with caramelized apples and herbed cream.
Entree: Stuffed chicken breast with cranberry and goat cheese with side of herb roasted potatoes and butter poached asparagus.
Dessert: Chocolate mouse gateau with fresh mango essence, tropical fruit relish and whipped cream.
Vegetarian menu to come.

$75 per regular ticket
$30 per student ticket
$600 per table of eight

To reserve your seat today, contact Laura Kennedy at 902.453.1480 ext. 5727. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Amanda Quarmby-Bennett at 902.453.1480 ext. 5725.

Saint Mary’s


Medical Humanism and Medical Humanities (Monday, 5pm, Scotiabank Theatre)—”A talk on redefinining the role of the humanities in medical culture by Andrea Carlino, Institute of the History of Medicine and Health, University of Geneva.”

Museum of Natural History


Nuclear Science (Monday, 7:30pm, Museum of Natural History)—Rick Didsbury, the Manager of Research & Development at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Limited, which used to be the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, will talk about “The Future of Nuclear Science and Technology Research in Canada.”


Last week, I linked to a CBC article about a recent alarming — more than five inches in two years — rise in sea level along the northeast US and Canadian Maritime coasts. 

Now, this is one of those cases when we can’t say with any certainty that climate change did this!  We can only say that really smart people with really, really powerful computers predict that this is exactly the kind of thing that climate change is going to do, and that these events will get bigger and more frequent as the mercury rises.

But the fact that, with or without our help, Mother Nature can just throw down a quick 5-inch sea-level surge is plenty alarming, especially when you throw that on top of the already well-documented climate-driven rise, and toss in some extra storm surge for good measure. Think of what an extra 5 inches of seawater would have done to New York during Sandy or, god forbid, Miami during Hurricane Andrew.

We live in interesting times.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8am Monday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8am Monday. Map:

No activity on the harbour today.


It’s March.

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

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  1. Re: Halifax website

    Anyone know who did the “refresh” last year that broke all the old urls?

  2. Re Views 3, CACE and Race

    Delighted to see Stephen Kimber address the broader, vital issue of education in the black community and grateful to Halifax Examiner for noting it.

    Ever notice the absence of comments on race-related articles here and elsewhere? Usually a deafening silence. This HAS to change, along with the still prevalent, hidden, despicable attitude and reality of separate and unequal.

    1. Personally speaking, as a “white guy”, I guess I don’t feel my experience in this area is worth very much. I’d rather sit, listen, and learn. I think the racial component to the drug war (from another link provided by a commenter today) is glaringly apparent, but I’m not sure I’m qualified to speak up on that point, being the epitome of white privilege…

  3. I believe Bruce Alexander was the one who refuted the rat study used to justify Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No to Drugs campaign of the 80s. (Conducted with a rat, a cage, and two vials – one with water, one with cocaine laced water. The rat went straight for the cocaine water and never looked back – the rat died).
    Too simplistic for Bruce Alexander, so he devised a different method.
    He instead designed a rat playground, with other rats, with multiple ramps and other playthings, with food – and also the two vials with water and cocaine laced water. The results? None of the rats died. Any cocaine water they ingested was done in relative moderation.
    Set, and setting, the key factor to addiction.

      1. Wow very interesting video, thank you for sharing! The Billie Holiday story is heart breaking… interesting that the experiences in Vancouver were held up as Canadian examples however, it seems Vancouver is the only city police jurisdiction in the country not run by the RCMP. Contrast Halifax and it’s treatment of medical marijuana recently on Gottingen, or the attitude towards the needle exchange and the bus they were setting up.

        1. Most cities in Canada have their own police forces, and don’t rely on the RCMP. The Halifax Regional Police Department is independent from the RCMP; it covers the urban areas, while the RCMP covers the suburban and rural areas.

          1. Technically, yes, but here we have an “integrated” RCMP/Civic police force, and as such, it seems to color the way our city’s police force deals with “criminal” drug issues. My uncle, in his 60s who lives in Vancouver, told me recently he got a “Weeds” card, so that he can go down to the dispensary and openly purchase. Let me know when that happens here Tim with our completely independent from Federal oversight police force at the helm 😉

  4. An alternate, or, perhaps, complementary explanation for the lack of pedestrian hits: As you know, getting around on foot has become largely impossible. I would wager fewer pedestrians = fewer accidents involving them. (If anyone from the City government is reading this, kindly do NOT take it as a suggestion to continue failing to properly clear sidewalks and curb cuts.)