1. COVID-19

Just one new case of COVID-19 was announced over the weekend in Nova Scotia. It is a Dalhousie student who lives off campus, and the source of the infection is still under investigation.

There are 19 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital with the disease.

The active cases are distributed as follows:

• 8 in the Halifax Peninsula / Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 1 in the Bedford / Sackville Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 4 in the Colchester / East Hants Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 1 in the Pictou Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 2 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 active case in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 1 in the Annapolis and King’s Community Health Network in the Western Zone

Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 1,093 tests Saturday.

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:

Here is the possible exposure map:

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2. Cops sicced on book reading

Hart Hall, Mount Allison University in Sackville New Brunswick (Google Image)

“It was an innocuous event, as most book launches are, but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police didn’t think so, and two officers in plain clothes showed up at Hart Hall at Mount Allison University, apparently concerned by what they read in this Halifax Examiner story and in three Facebook posts advertising the launch,” reports Joan Baxter.

Click here to read “After reading a Halifax Examiner article, two cops showed up at an author reading at Mount Allison University.”

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3. Sir Sandford Fleming Cottage

Small cottage with boarded up bay window.
Sir Sandford Fleming Cottage, on Dingle Road. Photo: Google Street View.

“When I saw an online petition to save Sir Sandford Fleming Cottage in the Dingle Park, I tried to picture the building,” writes Philip Moscovitch:

I’ve been in the park plenty of times, and as I traced the routes of the park’s roads in my mind, I could see various other buildings in my mind’s eye, but not the cottage.

Built in the 1870s, it’s a relatively unassuming place. And John Macmanus, chair of the Friends of Sir Sandford Fleming Park, thinks that may be one of the reasons it’s fallen into disrepair.

“Here we have a little cottage. It’s buried in the park, not that visible. Who cares about it?” he said in an interview.

Macmanus and the members of his organization care. And he’s hoping council does too — at least enough to stabilize the cottage and prevent it from falling into further disrepair. The city owns the building, and it has been a municipally registered heritage property since 1985.

Click here to read “A heritage property in Sir Sandford Fleming Park is falling apart. Will the city do anything about it?”

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4. Reckoning with racism

Lyle Howe arrives at court with his partner Laura McCarthy.

“Following the death of George Floyd, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society joined much of the rest of the world in declaring itself against anti-Black racism,” writes Stephen Kimber. “But the society now must grapple with its own recent history and what lawyer Laura McCarthy calls the ‘discrimination dirt still under their rug.’”

Click here to read “Reckoning with racism.”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

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5. Mass murder

The Portapique sign on Highway 2 was adorned with a NS tartan sash following the mass shooting that began there on April 18, 2020. Photo: Joan Baxter

“The public inquiry into the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced the hiring of six experts who will help set a course for the investigation,” reports the Globe & Mail:

Those joining the inquiry include Thomas Cromwell, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice who will serve as commission counsel. Justice Cromwell previously served with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

As well, the inquiry has appointed Christine Hanson as executive director and chief administrative officer. Ms. Hanson is director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She also worked as an international lawyer and diplomat in a variety of roles with Global Affairs Canada.

The other team members include:
• Research director Emma Cunliffe is a professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and a visiting professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She is a scholar in complex criminal matters related to violence against women.
• Investigations director Barbara McLean is deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service and is originally from Antigonish, N.S.
• Mental-health director Mary Pyche has worked as an addiction clinical therapist and has held leadership roles in the Nova Scotia Health Department regarding mental health and addiction.
• Community liaison director Maureen Wheller co-chaired the first public advisory group that worked with Nova Scotia’s mental-health and addictions program.

I haven’t heard any complaints about any of the appointees; on the contrary, I’ve heard a lot of praise for them.

So I don’t mean this as criticism of them, but it’s been three months since the commission was created (which wasn’t until six months after the murders), and the commission is to release its first preliminary report in just three months, on May 1.

Maybe there’s stuff going on that I’m unaware of, but the commission seems rather quiet. There has been no public testimony, anyway. I’m not sure how we get to a preliminary report in just three months.

Update: mea culpa… the report is due on May 1, 2022.

Also concerning the mass murder, this morning (as I’m writing this) I’m on a conference call with the court. You’ll recall that the Halifax Examiner is part of a media consortium that has petitioned the court to un-seal search warrant documents related to the police investigation.

Today, the lawyers for Lisa Banfield, James Banfield, and Brian Brewster are objecting to the unsealing of portions of the documents. The trio have been charged criminally for providing ammunition to the killer.

Interestingly, Lisa Banfield is represented by the law firm of James Lockyer in Ontario. Lockyer was a founder of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, which is now called Innocence Canada. Lockyer remains active with the group, and in fact was one of Glen Assoun’s lawyers. Lockyer himself is not on the call this morning, but one of his associates is.

The lawyers have a range of concerns. Brian Brewster merely doesn’t want his personal information made public — bank account numbers, address, and the like. We are not objecting to keeping that sealed.

James Banfield also wants his personal information kept sealed, as well as some information that he says will affect his fair trial rights. On the latter, we say that since it will be a judge-alone trial (he faces a summary offence charge), there’s no jury that can be corrupted by making the information public.

Lisa Banfield has both those concerns and an additional one: that there is information in the documents related to solicitor-client privilege. As the documents are sealed, I have no idea what that entails.

While the issues are being discussed broadly, no new information will be released this week, and today is merely a scheduling hearing, with any decisions kicked down the road until late February.

This is all very frustrating for me. The Examiner is spending a lot of money and I’m spending a lot of time on this file, and it feels like the Crown and frankly the court are throwing up procedural delays merely to cost us more time and money. To what end, I have no idea.

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6. Gambling

“The Nova Scotia government has quietly dissolved a non-profit arm’s-length government organization dedicated to funding gambling prevention and research groups, moving the money to a more general mental health pool,” reports Emma Davie for the CBC:

The decision to end Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia (GANS) is being criticized by a community group that received grants through the organization, and which says there’s now looming uncertainty about whether its work will be supported.

“In the middle of COVID … isn’t there more of a need to do this prevention work and community awareness work?” said Bruce Dienes, chair of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia, a non-profit that aims to reduce the community harms associated with gambling. “This is the time when people are most vulnerable.”

Part of the funding for GANS, according to the government’s website, was “generated from a percentage of VLT revenues, matched by the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation.”

The province said in a statement that VLT retailers provide about $250,000 annually to support mental health and addictions services.

The province did not say when the organization was dissolved, but Dienes said he learned of it in the fall and GANS’s regulations were changed in October.

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7. New Brunswick protests

There have been protests in both the Saint John area and in Moncton over COVID restrictions, with arrests in both sites. Both areas are in New Brunswick’s “red zone,” with heightened restrictions.

A woman named Liz Kramer was arrested for disturbing the peace and not wearing a mask while protesting outside Premier Blaine Higgs’ house in Quispamsis.

In Moncton, according to reporter David Gordon Koch (paywalled) with the Times & Transcript, a small group of people (about two dozen) protesting public health measures “clashed” with police outside City Hall, and several arrests were made:

Multiple protestors refused to speak on the record to the Times & Transcript. One placard read: “The Media is the Virus.”

I don’t know what to make of these people.

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Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am) — virtual meeting with a live broadcast

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (Monday, 4:30pm) — virtual meeting; no dial-in or live broadcast


Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 1pm) — live webcast, with captioning on a text-only site



No meetings.


Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am) — per diem meeting.

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm) —Department of Energy and Mines deputy minister Simon d’Entremont will discuss Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Pilot Program.

On campus



Some Vignettes of Nonlinear Waves in Granular Crystals: From Modeling and Analysis to Computations and Experiments (Monday, 3:30pm) — Panos Kevrekidis from the University Massachusetts, Amherst will

provide an overview of some results in the setting of granular crystals, consisting of beads interacting through Hertzian contacts. In 1d we show that there exist three prototypical types of coherent nonlinear waveforms: shock waves, traveling solitary waves and discrete breathers. The latter are time-periodic, spatially localized structures. For each one, we will discuss the existence theory, presenting connections to prototypical models of nonlinear wave theory, such as the Burgers equation, the Korteweg-de Vries equation and the nonlinear Schrodinger (NLS) equation, respectively. We will also explore the stability of such structures, presenting some explicit stability criteria analogous to the famous Vakhitov-Kolokolov criterion in the NLS model. Finally, for each one of these structures, we will complement the mathematical theory and numerical computations with recent experiments, allowing their quantitative identification and visualization. Finally, time permitting, ongoing extensions of these themes will be briefly touched upon, most notably in higher dimensions, in heterogeneous or disordered chains and in the presence of damping and driving; associated open questions will also be outlined.

Via Zoom; bring your own discrete breathers.


The Future of Work(Tuesday, 12pm) — College of Continuing Education webinar with Astrid Seidel.

The on-going Covid-19 crisis has forced people around the world to adapt very quickly to new safety measures and often unfamiliar ways of communication and work routines. Millions of people are working or studying from home and digital tools have quickly entered fields where many of us would never have expected them before. Besides these sudden technological changes due to Covid-19, Social Scientists and labor market experts emphasize the significance of durable skills such as resilience, effective communication skills, and empathy for our wellbeing and productivity. Besides the pandemic, it is widely agreed that digital literacy, resilience, and ‘people skills’ will continue to be highly important in the age of digitalization. The key question is: How can we prepare ourselves for the future labor market and keep up with developments in a sustainable manner?

This webinar will outline important trends about the skills and competencies that will be required in the foreseeable future and give ideas for an environment that embraces and accommodates lifelong learning. We are looking forward to a vivid exchange of thoughts and ideas!

Self Advocacy Workshop (Tuesday, 2pm) — a MS Teams workshop to equip trans participants with the skills to identify their health care options and feel more comfortable advocating for their health care needs with doctors, nurses, and therapists. Closed space for trans folks.

Saint Mary’s


Innovate through Disruption with Design Thinking (Monday, 1pm) — Adriana Dolnyckyj will “explore Design Thinking and how you and your organization can innovate through disruption”:

Adriana is the Founding and Managing Partner of DesignThinkers Group Canada, a global innovation consultancy…(she) leverages her over 20 years of corporate strategy and marketing experience at the executive level, and combines it with human-centered design to help organizations find their ‘sweet spot’ in value proposition and differentiation; making them compelling to their customers and employees, and unique against their competition. DesignThinkers Group, both consult with clients and teach the design thinking method with the goal of spreading the practice, so organizations can achieve disruptive innovation through thinking differently and rapid iteration.

Eastern Regional Three-minute Thesis Competition (Monday, 7pm) — via Zoom: seven competitors, three-minute presentations, one static slide, $1000 top prize.


The Librarian Is In: Searching Library Databases (Tuesday, 3pm) — virtual workshop

In the harbour

05:00: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:00: X-press Irazu, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain
08:00: Fundy Rose, ferry, arrives at Pier 9 from Digby
15:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
16:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for  Palm Beach, Florida
16:30: YM Evolution sails for Rotterdam
16:30: X-press Irazu sails for New York
21:00: Maersk Patras, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Montreal


I had a whole thing I was going to write about this news article about Rolling Stone magazine, but was pulled away by the court call.

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

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  1. Re: Mass murder

    Interesting report.

    Tim, you say James Banfield faces a summary offence charge for unlawfully providing ammunition to the killer. Do the other two charged for unlawfully providing ammunition to the killer face summary offence charge or indictable offence charge?

    RCMP statement Dec 4/20: “For the following offences: between the 17th day of March and 18th day of April 2020, unlawfully, transferred ammunition, specifically, .223 caliber Remington cartridges and .40 caliber Smith and Wesson cartridges, contrary to Section 101 of the Criminal Code.

    101 (1) Every person commits an offence who transfers a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm, a non-restricted firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, any ammunition or any prohibited ammunition to any person otherwise than under the authority of the Firearms Act or any other Act of Parliament or any regulations made under an Act of Parliament.

    (2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)

    (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

    (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    1. My query has been answered by CBC. The trio face summary charges, not just James Banfield who is one of the three.

      On Jan 27, CBC reported: “Prosecutor Shauna MacDonald said the Crown plans to proceed summarily, meaning the cases will be heard in provincial court and the accused don’t have to appear in person. A summary offence is considered less serious than an indictable offence. Tom Singleton represented Brewster. Michelle James and Brittni Deveau represented James Banfield. Jessica Zita, a lawyer from the Toronto firm Lockyer Campbell Posner, acted on behalf of Lisa Banfield. They told Judge Jean Whalen they were still waiting for disclosure from the Crown and without seeing the evidence that has been gathered, their clients could not yet enter pleas. The next court appearance has been scheduled for March 9.“

      I assume that is March 9, 2021. What then? The cases will be adjourned until the public inquiry is finished?

  2. I would like to know what process was followed for the commission members who were appointed. These positions were not advertised on Nova Scotia’s application site for ABCs during their fall round of adverts, nor in any specialty trade newsletters. By what mechanism did these individuals come to be on this Commission? More lack of transparency, it seems.