On campus
In the harbour


1. Tidal power

“Inshore fishermen from the Bay of Fundy made a last-ditch plea to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia yesterday to stall the placement of two massive, five-storey-high turbines on the bottom of the Minas Passage near Parrsboro until an appeal of the Environment Minister’s decision can be heard next February,” reports Jennifer Henderson.

Henderson goes on to describe the court contest between the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association and Cape Sharp Tidal, including duelling expert testimony from two long-time colleagues from Acadia University.

Justice Jamie Campbell reserved his decision until next week.

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2. Phil Pacey

Phil Pacey
Phil Pacey

Phil Pacey has died.

Phil will always be remembered for his work on heritage issues in Halifax, and rightly so — he never stopped, even in his last days. Phil was scheduled to give a talk on Halifax’s heritage just last week, but cancelled due to illness.

It’s not his advocacy that I’ll most remember, however; it’s his unflinching gentlemanly demeanour. A lot of grief was tossed Phil’s way — he was condemned as a hater of progress, a malcontent, and worse — but he always shrugged off the attacks with good humour and forbearance.

A recent interaction illustrates Phil’s fundamental kindness. The battle over the convention centre was hard fought on all sides, and Phil found himself and Heritage Trust castigated by Chronicle Herald business columnist Roger Taylor in less-than-flattering terms. A couple of weeks ago, when it was announced that the convention centre was once again delayed, I laid into Taylor (who is now on strike with the rest of the Herald’s unionized newsroom) for not eating crow. Later that day, Phil sent me a private message. “I was as annoyed as anyone by Roger Taylor when he was writing for the Herald,” he wrote, but then went on to gently chide me for criticizing a man when he’s down. “Walking a picket line is an emotionally debilitating experience,” he explained, urging me to temper my critique.

3. Convention centre


Speaking of the convention centre, in response to my query, Trade Centre Limited spokesperson Suzanne Fougere told me yesterday that developer Joe Ramia still has not settled upon a completion date for the Nova Centre complex. “Discussions are underway between [the provincial Department of] Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) and the developer to confirm the construction timeline,” she writes in an email. “When we have an updated schedule, we will provide an update.”

Also, too, there’s still no hotel operator named.

The rumour mill tells me that TIR wants a firm completion date of August 1, but that EllisDon, Ramia’s construction contractor, wants that date pushed back later, into the fall. I suspect right now that TCL’s salespeople are sweating bullets about the Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD) convention slated for August 14-17 at the new convention centre.

On March 9, 2015, TCL issued a press release that celebrated landing the KDD convention:

Over 1,000 of the world’s leading edge researchers and practitioners in big data are coming to Halifax for the 2017 Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. 

Stan Matwin, Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) at the Faculty of Computer Science, Dalhousie University and the director of the Institute for Big Data Analytics, announced today, March 9, that Halifax was the successful bidder. The conference, with Dr. Matwin as the general chair and Evangelos Milios of Dalhousie University as the local chair, will be held in the new Halifax Convention Centre, which opens in 2017.

The bid was led by the Institute for Big Data Analytics and the Halifax Convention Centre, in collaboration with a local host committee of academic, government and industry representatives.

“This announcement is further evidence that the Institute for Big Data Analytics has established Dalhousie and Halifax as leaders in the global fields of data science and big data analytics,” said Dalhousie president Richard Florizone. 

“This is a great opportunity for Dalhousie — as well as other local organizations and institutions — to showcase the world-class research, ongoing collaboration and pool of talent we have here in the region to national and international audiences,” said Dr. Matwin

Halifax now ranks amongst top cities who have previously hosted the conference, including:
— Sydney, Australia
— New York City, New York
— Beijing, China
— Paris, France

“We’re proud to partner and collaborate with our local experts to host this conference and showcase Nova Scotia’s strengths in big data to the world,” said Scott Ferguson, president and CEO of Trade Centre Limited, the Crown Corporation that manages the convention centre. “This is an exciting opportunity for our industry, academic and research communities to highlight their work and connect with their global counterparts.” 

Nova Scotia has a booming information technology sector and the province is quickly establishing itself as an international hub of excellence in big data research. Hosting this conference will allow the local sector to benefit from top academic research and industrial presence aimed at promoting collaboration and growth in big data analytics.

First established in 1995, the Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining conference is the premier international forum for data mining and big data research, bringing together practitioners from academia, industry, and government to share their ideas, research results and experiences. Sponsors of note include Microsoft, Yahoo, Deloitte, Accenture, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and IBM. The 2016 conference will take place in San Francisco.

Of course, when the press release was issued in the spring of 2015, it was expected that Nova Centre would be completed that fall, and the convention centre would open in January 2016. Plenty of time sat between the opening and the KDD conference, when Halifax would take its rightful place in the world, next to Sydney, New York, Beijing, and Paris, with its world class data miners and world class convention centre.

Then there was a delay to January 2017, but KDD would be fine… but then once again opening was delayed to at least June 30, 2017, close but doable. And now… well, we might have a shit show on our hands.

Incidentally, Matwin was a big catch for Dal. Here’s his bio:

Stan (Stanisław) Matwin is a Professor and Canada Research Chair and the Director of the Institute for Big Data Analytics at Dalhousie University. He is also a Distinguished Professor at the University of Ottawa, and a Full Professor at the Institute of Computer Science, Polish Academy of Science (IPI PAN). Fellow of ECCAI and CAIAC and an Ontario Champion of Innovation. Internationally recognized for his work in text mining in applications of Machine Learning, and in Data Privacy. Member of Editorial Boards of the leading journals in Machine Learning and Data Mining, and the General Chair of KDD 2017. Besides his research involvement, Stan has significant experience and interest in innovation and in technology transfer.

Here’s Matwin discussing big data:

YouTube video

Matwin seems like a fine person who does good and interesting work. His mistake was that he believed the convention centre hype. I wonder how many other people will get burned.

4. Two pedestrians struck

A police release from yesterday:

Halifax Regional Police responded to two vehicle/pedestrian collisions in Halifax today.

At 9:24 a.m., police attended a vehicle/pedestrian collision on South Street near Robie Street.  A car travelling southbound on South Street struck a 37-year-old woman as she was crossing the street. She suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to hospital by the driver as a precaution. The 93-year old male driver was issued a summary offence ticket under Section 125(1)(a) of the Motor Vehicle Act for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

At 11:56 a.m., police attended a vehicle/pedestrian collision at the intersection of Barrington and Duke Streets.  A car travelling southbound on Barrington Street and turning right on Duke Street struck a 40-year-old woman as she was crossing the street. She suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to hospital by the driver as a precaution. The 70-year old male driver was issued a summary offence ticket under Section 125(1)(a) of the Motor Vehicle Act for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

I think the 93-year-old man’s problem was he was driving south on South Street, which is an east-west street. That Barrington/Duke intersection outside Scotia Square is a nasty one; drivers tend to gun it up the hill.

5. The Suspicious Packages play another gig

Another police release from yesterday:

Halifax Regional Police responded to a suspicious package call at Halifax Regional Police Headquarters earlier this afternoon. 

At approximately 2:30 p.m., a front desk staff member noticed an unattended backpack in the lobby of Halifax Regional Police Headquarters at 1975 Gottingen Street. Non-essential employees were evacuated from the building and Gottingen Street from Cogswell Street to Rainnie Drive was closed to pedestrians and vehicles for a short time.

Officers with the Explosive Disposal Unit examined the backpack and determined that there was no threat. While the investigation is ongoing, it’s believed that someone left their backpack behind.

6. OxyContin deaths


“The province’s deputy ministers of health and wellness, and justice are calling a meeting to respond to opioid overdoses that are claiming the life of a Nova Scotian every six days,” reports Elizabeth Chiu for the CBC:

A government email leaked to CBC shows Nova Scotia has averaged 60 opioid overdose deaths per year for the last decade. That’s the first time the province has put a number to the deaths from opioid misuse.

The deaths are mostly from OxyContin alone, or in combination with alcohol, benzodiazepenes and other prescription and/or street drugs, said the email.

But the death toll is even higher so far this year, according to Dr. Gus Grant, the registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia.

He said approximately 70 Nova Scotians have fatally overdosed. “Can you imagine another health crisis that took the lives of 70 young people? Can you imagine the impact that would have, and it’s still only October?” said Grant.


1. Copenhagen

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

“These days it feels like the answer to most questions about the future of Halifax is ‘When the Centre Plan is approved,’ writes Stephen Archibald:

One of the Core Concepts of the plan is pedestrians first: the needs and comforts of pedestrians would be foremost in the planning process.

We just spent nearly three weeks walking in Copenhagen, Denmark which is ground zero for a pedestrianized downtown. What a good excuse to show you some of our vacation snapshots!

2. Whitman demands recount


“The winner of District 13 in the HRM municipal election is calling for a recount because he wants his decisive win to be even more decisive,” writes Matt Brand:

Matt Whitman will serve his second term on council after receiving over 4,000 votes. Second place went to Pamela Lovelace who secured just over 2,500 votes. Third place went to Harry Ward with just under 800 votes. 

While the race was never close, Whitman says he’s disappointed that the numbers don’t show a larger margin of victory.

“To say I only got 55 per cent of the total votes is ridiculous when, in my mind, I should have received closer to 99 or 100 per cent,” says a clearly enraged Whitman.


The district 13 councillor is also calling for voter’s names to be included on ballots in the next election so councillors can better identify his supporters and detractors.

“If there are 3,300 people in my riding who don’t want me as their councillor, then I need to know who they are so I can ignore their concerns and, hopefully, block them on social media,” explains Whitman. 

And yes, sigh, this is satire.

3. Cranky letter of the day


To the Port Hawkesbury Reporter:

The Capt’n Kenny’s Fresh fish and chips truck parks in a church parking lot in Port Hawkesbury for a couple of months each year.

Recently, his vendor fee skyrocketed from $300 per year to between $1,500$ to $2,000 per year depending on either six or 12 months of operation. This vote by the local town council is both unreasonable and counterproductive.

In a recent news story, town councillor Joe Janega stated “All we want to do is keep everybody on the same playing field, on the same equal amounts,” he said. “When Ken’s chip truck pulls into that parking lot, the Town of Port Hawkesbury still has to plow the streets, we have to supply water and sewer, we have to keep the sidewalks clean to the best of our ability, we have to pick up the garbage.”

But, not all businesses can be on the same playing field. A food truck – much like the trucks that used to arrive in town for a day to sell apples, berries, or fish — is not a brick and mortar business. They are not using the same utilities and space as permanent restaurants and businesses. Capt’n Kenny’s was here in the summer, so no plowing required. He didn’t use sewer lines or water lines and he provided his own trash cans on site which is a rarity along a main street with no public trash cans aside from the fast food chains. I haven’t seen any garbage bearing his food truck’s name blowing around town, although there is a lot of it belonging to other food outlets.

Capt’n Kenny’s was another option in a place with limited choices which provided something different for folks. It is these small vendors which provide a sense of community to a town. The vendors who show up mainly during the limited warm weather months and people look forward to seeing them each year. Some visitors stated that they drive into town just to have Capt’n Kenny’s fish and chips. Maybe they would also stop at other businesses while they’re in town?

Maintaining a tightly closed market only serves to force residents to drive out of town looking for options when the choices are kept limited. Residents of the town should also be given some assurances that the decisions and votes being made by their council members are truly in the best interest of the town and community, and not in the best interest of only the town council.

Deb MacNeil, Port Hawkesbury


In the late 19th century and the early years of the 20th century, there was a foreboding and loss of hope expressed in many European artistic works, as if artists were anticipating the apocalypse of the Great War, which was about to destroy their world.

I’ve long wondered if, similarly, anxiety over anticipated climate change and the associated storms and sea level rise would be expressed artistically, and therefore I’ve started a collection of artistic references to storms, flooding and water engulfing us.

And so, the (supposedly) coming weekend deluge gives me the excuse to link to Joe Henry’s 2007 song, “Our Song,” in which the singer envisions running into Willie Mays at a Scottsdale (Arizona) Home Depot. The song’s melancholy base line and wide lyrical space serve to underscore the cultural angst and search for political bearing that, nine years later, is at the heart of the current US presidential election:

This was my country
And this was my song
Somewhere in the middle there
Though it started badly and it’s ending wrong

This was my country
This frightful and this angry land
But it’s my right if the worst of it might still
Somehow make me a better man

Henry goes on to sing these lines, portending coming doom :

I feel safe so far from heaven
From towers and their ocean views
From here I see the future coming
Across what soon will be beaches too

Now watch: you too will now catch references to coming storms and flooding in films, music, and books.

YouTube video


No public meetings.

On campus


Kalenda Eaton
Kalenda Eaton

Feminists (12:30pm, Room 2021, Marion McCain building) — Kalenda Eaton will speak on “Womanist is to Feminist as Lemonade is to Iced Tea.”

Thiatriazinyl Radicals (1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Jaclyn Brusso will speak on “Thiatriazinyl Radicals: A New Spin on a Classic Framework.” Snacks next door at 1:15.

Catholics (3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, Room 1170) — S. Karly Kehoe, from Saint Mary’s University, will speak on “Playing Politics: Establishing Catholic authority in Trinidad and Newfoundland.”

Health research (3:40pm, Room 5260, Psychology Wing, Life Sciences Centre) — Christine Chambers speak on “From Evidence to Influence: A New Approach to Knowledge Mobilization of Health Research.”

Saint Mary’s

Cold (11:30am, Atrium 101) — John C. O’C. Young describes what happens when the water temperatures in freshwater lakes, ponds, and elsewhere cool below four degrees Celsius in “A Thermal Stratification Trilogy.”

Unions (Noon, McNally Main 227) — Marie-Hélène Bonin, from Quebec’s Centrale Syndicale Nationale, speaks on “Aids in the World of Work: How Unions Work Internationally.”

In the harbour

0:30am: CSL Tarantau, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Portsmouth, Maine
6:30am: Acadian, oil tanker, moves from Woodside to Imperial Oil

Serenade of the Seas. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Serenade of the Seas. Photo: Halifax Examiner

6:45am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 2,580 passengers
7am: Amadea, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Louisbourg with up to 624 passengers
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
8am: Allise P, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
11am: ZIM Shanghai, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
3pmNolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
4:45pm: Amadea, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Saint John
6:30pm: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Boston

3:30am: ZIM Shanghai, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s


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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Total Bullshit. Mr. Parker Barss Donhams quote is the correct phrase but applied to the wrong person in his comments on Tidal Challenges.

    Professor Daborn wants us to believe that “not a single marine mammal or fish has yet been struck by an operating turbine.” These turbines are located four countries. BS. He is a man of learning and certainly in a valid position to opine but since when have marine mammals and fish elevated to Mensa levels? I find it difficult to believe he can make such a statement and additionally be in a conflict position having been part of the group who drafted the monitoring program and still think he has something believable to offer.

    We should listen to the fishers and their position. It is common sense and rational. Much like Professor Dadswell. We all realize that the Bay of Fundy could be an excellent source of energy and the ones closest to it acknowledge that fact. The people that fish these waters are all too aware of licenses, quotas, inspections, environmental factors, diminishing resources and on. Let us consider what is being said and not open the doors to wide and fast and destroy what we know without a baseline. And then place the same regulations for operating the turbines as that of the fishers. Too many and too fast an installation of underwater turbines has unknown consequences. It is all new to everyone and caution should be a consideration, not an avoidance.

    PBD should consider that the expected $100 million in landings for the coming season is for the Bay of Fundy of which Minas Basin and Passage form part of. Believe me there are more than 36 boats all wanting part of the expected catch within the Bay of Fundy.

  2. Jennifer Henderson’s story on the attempt by fishermen to prevent installation of the latest experimental tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy is uncharacteristically skewed. The first few paragraphs are larded with snide adjectives about the tidal development. She omits to mention that the 36 fishermen who are fighting to hold up tidal development have average annual landings of 2.8 million.

    But most outrageously, Jennifer’s entire piece omits any mention of climate change. This is the pre-eminent public policy issue of our time, with the potential to make out planet literally* uninhabitable. She fatuously claims the energy produced by FORCE’s tidal power would be 4 times higher than current energy costs, but fails to mention that ALL new energy sources are uneconomical in the development phases. Wind energy, hopelessly over-priced 20 years ago, is now cheaper than new thermal plants, and solar-voltaic energy is rapidly becoming competitive.

    The power of the Fundy tides is such that if even a fraction of their potential can be harnessed, Nova Scotia will play a significant role in mitigating climate change.

    We have to tackle climate change. We can’t allow 36 men given privileged access to a fabulously lucrative public resource to stand in the way based on shrill claims unsupported by evidence.

    Jennifer can, and usually does, so better.

    1. Have you or anyone else noticed if a study has been done on the pricing competitiveness of renewables with the new carbon tax? I wonder if it would show the doubling down on coal/pet-coke/biomass that NS power is using would become uneconomic and we would bear the costs of not investing more heavily in wind, solar and tidal.

    1. Phil Pacey

      A persistent advocate for a better Halifax, often against the odds. What will we do without him?