On campus
In the harbour


1. (Some) Ships Start Here

“Public Services Minister Judy Foote will be at Irving’s Halifax Shipyard today to make an announcement about the multi-billion dollar project to replace the navy’s aging warships,” reports the Canadian Press. “Foote says she will focus on ‘refining’ the Canadian Surface Combatant procurement strategy.”

2. Orlando

Halifax Pride has planned a Vigil for Orlando, tonight at 8pm on the Common. Details here.

3. Examineradio, episode 65

Ron Foley Macdonald (photo courtesy of Red Star Films)
Ron Foley Macdonald
(photo courtesy of Red Star Films)

This week we speak with local arts writer Ron Foley Macdonald about the dearth of arts criticism in Nova Scotia and how fewer arts organizations are taking risks with their content for fear of alienating their corporate benefactors. MacDonald writes extensively about arts and culture at View902.

Also, Russell reads an actual daily newspaper written by actual journalists and muses about how such a model could work in Halifax.

Listen here:

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(direct download)
(RSS feed)
(Subscribe via iTunes)

4. William Davis Day

The miners memorial statue on McKeen Street in Glace Bay. Photo: Tom Ayers
The miners memorial statue on McKeen Street in Glace Bay. Photo: Tom Ayers

Saturday was Davis Day, and that morning historian Jacob Remes explained the significance:

Today in 1925, soldiers in New Waterford, Nova Scotia, shot and killed William Davis, a striking coal miner. Members of District 26 of the United Mine Workers, representing miners in Nova Scotia, have never worked on June 11 since.

Davis was killed after a militant turn in a long and bitter strike in the coal fields of eastern Nova Scotia. The previous contract had expired in January, and relief committees in each of the towns had been operating since the winter. To pressure the workers, the employer, the British Empire Steel Company, or BESCO, cut off credit at the company stores at the most militant mine heads. The miners walked off the job in March, and BESCO retaliated by pulling out the ponies and maintenance equipment from three collieries and allowing them to flood. The the men who left work at those mines, they knew, would probably never return.

Even so, the UMW international insisted on a strategy of waiting. John L. Lewis, the UMW’s virulently anti-radical international president, had colluded with the company to break the last strike, watching as District President J.B. McLachlan had been carted off to jail on trumped-up sedition charges and replacing him with a docile and unelected executive. Now McLachlan was out of prison and running a radical newspaper, and by early June the miners were frustrated that no progress had been made.

So they stopped waiting and called for a total strike. Before, only actual miners had stopped work. Now, nobody would be allowed to work for the company. On June 4, the men who had been operating a company power plant in New Waterford walked off the job, cutting off the town’s water and electricity. On June 11, fifty managers and mounted company police overtook the few picketers guarding the plant. In response hundreds—estimates ranged from 700 to 3,000—of striking miners marched to the plant to enforce the strike.

They were met with gunfire. Many were beaten by police, several were injured by bullets, and one was killed. The death of William Davis sparked a riot in which company stores — which had remained tauntingly well stocked but closed to strikers — were looted and burned. Angry miners ran the police out of town and would perhaps have killed them had it not been for the intercession of Father J.H. Nicholson, Mt. Carmel Parish Priest in New Waterford, who calmed the men until the police had a chance to escape. William Davis, killed for striking, had not been given that chance.


To keep alive the memory of the Strike of 1925 and the murder of William Davis, the members of District 26 swore they would never work again on June 11. Davis Day became a holiday in the coal mining region of Cape Breton. But gradually, Davis Day has become a day associated less with remember the killing of a striker and more with remembering all the dead of Nova Scotia’s mines. There have been many, from the 75 men killed in the Springhill mine collapse of 1958, to the 26 non-union miners killed in the Westray explosion of 1992. In 2008, after the social democratic New Democratic Party was elected to the Nova Scotia government, the province finally recognized Miners’ Memorial Day. But Davis Day should be more than a commemoration of mining accidents, as terrible as those are. Davis did not die accidentally in a tragic, if avoidable, disaster. He was murdered by the military for striking.

Tom Ayers, who is a striking Chronicle Herald reporter now writing for the union-produced Local Xpress, covered Saturday’s solemn ceremony at Glace Bay. Ayers reports that United Mine Workers of America representative Bob Burchell made clear that the union battles over mining are not a thing of the past:

Burchell, never one to shy away from a fight, said the safety of those who work underground can only be protected with the help of a union, and he took a swipe at the latest owners of the Donkin mine.

Kameron Coal Management of Halifax, a subsidiary of the Cline Group LLC based in Illinois, recently purchased the nearby coal mine from international mining giant Xstrata.

The company has said it intends to begin mining coal later this year, but Burchell said company officials have not been willing to talk with the union.

“I’m biting my tongue, because I certainly didn’t want to make this political today, but I do have to make one comment, and then I’ll leave it alone,” said Burchell.

“When we have our (Davis Day) services, and Xstrata was looking at taking over the Donkin mine, they showed up with a wreath each year, and I was very disappointed to see that Chris Cline’s group did not show up here today with a wreath.

“If they expect to open a mine here in Cape Breton, we will be going after them and trying to unionize it.”

Over the last three years, mining companies connected to Cline’s operations in the U.S. have recorded three deaths and 107 injuries that required workers to take time off or be reassigned to other duties, according to previous reports, and paid out $5.3 million in penalties during that time.

“When you pay $6 million in fines for safety violations and you have three fatalities over the last five years, that’s not safe, and they’re not going to do it here,” Burchell said to general applause.

And current-day labour struggles don’t just involve miners:

Glace Bay Liberal MLA Geoff MacLellan and Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner did speak at the Glace Bay ceremony, each glossing over the Liberal provincial government’s current attacks on unions.

Ayers is of course on strike himself, and couldn’t help but notice the perverse irony that the Chronicle Herald was covering Saturday’s ceremony:

Scab John MacNeil, who has written for @chronicleherald since @HTU_official members forced to strike, was at Davis Day today. #CHstrike

— Tom Ayers (@tomayers2262) June 11, 2016

Imagine. Sending @chronicleherald scab John MacNeil to cover solemn ceremony marking death of striking coal miner. #CHstrike @HTU_official

— Tom Ayers (@tomayers2262) June 11, 2016

Meanwhile, reports Andrea Nemetz for Local Xpress, singer-songwriter Keith Mullins has cowritten a song with striking Chronicle Herald editor and reporter Randy Jones:

The ECMA award-winning Mullins has co-written tunes with Lennie Gallant, his cousin Gordie Sampson and Chris Kirby, among other well-known musicians, but he’s also written with novices before.

He connected with Jones, whom he’s never met, through a mutual friend, and says when he read Jones’s lyrics, he recognized a song that was appropriate for the times.

“It was easy for me to get involved, because I believed in the words he was saying. As a songwriter, I have a responsibility to have a positive influence on listeners and society.

“When I heard ‘It’s just another day, just another day, just another day on the job,’ I said ‘That’s your chorus, right there.’ “

YouTube video


1. Greenhouse gas emissions

“The Edmonton-based Parkland Institute this week released a timely reality check that most of Canada’s politicians and media will likely try to ignore,” writes Richard Starr:

The leftish think tank based at the University of Alberta stated bluntly that reducing greenhouse gas emissions while growing the oil and gas sector is like wanting to “have your cake and eat it too.”


The scenario requiring the biggest cuts would be one in which the BC government gets its hoped-for five LNG export plants and the National Energy Board’s projection of a doubling of oil sands production comes about. That situation would result in emissions from the oil and gas sector going up by over 30% while emissions from the rest of the economy would have to drop 59% to meet the minimum Paris commitment.

The best case oil and gas development scenario – only one LNG export plant in BC and just a 45% increase in oil sands production and emissions as a result of the Notley government’s cap on GHG emissions from the oil sands – is somewhat better, but not by much. In that case, a 47% reduction in emissions from the rest of the economy would be required.

“It would be very difficult to reduce emissions outside the oil and gas sector by between 47 and 59 per cent below 2014 levels by 2030,” Hughes writes. “Short of an economic collapse, it is difficult to see how Canada could realistically meet its Paris commitments without rethinking its plans for oil and gas development.”

You can read the Parkland report here.



North West Community Council (4pm, Acadia Hall) — the council will rescind its earlier approval of zoning changes for Bedford West. I have no idea what that’s about.


No public meetings.

On Campus

Thesis defence, Earth Science (9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building, 1459 LeMarchant Street) — PhD candidate Janice Allenwill defend her thesis, “Numerical Modeling of Salt Tectonics at Rifted Continental Margins.”

Ferries (noon MA 310) — somebody — we can’t say who because the event listing doesn’t say, so let’s just pretend it’s that guy who asks for money outside Shoppers Drug Mart on Spring Garden Road — will be speaking on “The Influence of Weather and Ice on Ferry Operations: Modelling Present-Day Effects to Predict Future Trends.” Buddy on Spring Garden sent in an abstract:

Ferry performance is influenced to a great degree by environmental factors. Adverse weather and ice conditions can severely restrict the ability to conduct operations in a safe, efficient, and financially viable manner. Furthermore, as regional conditions vary due to climate change influences, the effects may become more severe. In order to better understand how specific weather and ice factors influence ferry operations, a statistical analysis is conducted using a case study of historical Marine Atlantic Incorporated traffic data and historical weather and ice condition data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction North American Regional Reanalysis. Random Forest models are constructed to predict ferry sailing cancellations and delays, using selected environmental factors as inputs, to examine the influence and relationships of specific factors and combinations of factors, and to project rates of cancellation in the coming decades. Results show that (1) environmental factors are good predictors of cancellations and poor predictors of delays, (2) wind speed is the most important environmental factor for cancellation prediction, and air temperature the most important for delay prediction, and, (3) that the ratio of cancelled sailings to total sailings is projected to increase significantly, and possibly more than double, over the next three decades.

That’s probably worth a few coins tossed his way, eh?

Senate (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Building) — Maybe my complaining has done some good! The event listing now links to the actual Senate agenda.

In the harbour

Halifax Harbour, 8:35am Monday. Rio Blackwater is exiting the harbour near McNabs Island, while the pilot boat (blue) is heading out to meet BBC Paula (green, at bottom). Map:
Halifax Harbour, 8:35am Monday. Rio Blackwater is exiting the harbour near McNabs Island, while the pilot boat (blue) is heading out to meet BBC Paula (green, at bottom). Map:

6am: CMA CGM Titus, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from Port Klang, Malaysia
6:30am: Rio BlackWater, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Cagliari, Italy
9am: BBC Paula, general cargo, arrives at Pier TBD from Charleston, South Carolina
3pm: Dallas Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
4:30pm: CMA CGM Titus, container ship, sails from HalTerm to sea
4:45pm: Atlantic Concert, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
5:30pm: British Serenity, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from New York

5am: Glovis Clipper, car carrier, arrives at AutoPort from Emden, Germany
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
9am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from New York with up to 2,394 passengers
6pm: Prince I, oil tanker, arrives at anchor for bunkers from Beaumont, Texas
6pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John


Somebody bought the old URL and renewed it last week. There’s a placeholder page on the site.

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

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  1. I guess I’m not 100% sure that it’s about the events that led to Davis’ death, but “Company Store” by Greg McPherson (born in CB but based in Winnipeg now) is a pretty great song based on the coal industry struggles in CB.

    1. I believe Greg’s song is about his grandfather who was a miner in Sydney. (Full disclosure: I often do Greg’s booking and publicity when he tours out this way.)

      The Company Store
      I slammed the door at quarter to four
      I was headed for the company store
      “I’ll watch my children starve no more
      Tonight I’m going to feed them”

      “I haven’t worked in 40 days
      For 23 I’ve had no pay
      In a week I’ll have no place to stay
      In an hour they’ll have to kill me”

      On the way I met big Johnny Hines
      The strongest man in Sydney Mines
      I told big Johnny of my plight
      His voice grew loud with anger
      “Todays as good a day to die
      As any that’ll come to mind
      I have at home a sickly wife
      And I haven’t worked since Easter”
      We hadn’t worked since easter

      Half the town’ll die from the mining of the coal
      The other half’ll leave when the mine decides to close
      The people who are left will starve to death at the hands of the company store
      And they’ll bring the army in on us when the union gets too close to them

      They’ll shoot us down like our fathers but like them we’re already dead and down.

      Our anger built and tightly wound
      We walked the coal road through the town
      “The store,” I yelled, “We’ll burn it down, Burn it to a cynder!”
      As I spoke these words before my eyes
      Their doors and windows opened wide
      And 10 more miners joined my side
      Beaten, starved and angered
      We were beaten, starved and angered

  2. Now that we’ve got those damn senate people posting their agenda, for those of us from away, let’s work on identifying the university on whose campus the various “On Campus” events are taking place.

    1. Ah, sorry about that. I’ve offshored the On Campus listings… I’ll send someone with a whip to improve copy.