1. Rebecca Taylor aims to dethrone Karen Casey

Photo: Jennifer Henderson

There’s an interesting electoral battle playing out in Colchester North, where Karen Casey, the PC wannabe leader turned union-busting Liberal Education minister, faces a stiff challenge from Rebecca Taylor, the Girl Guide leader turned soap-maker.

Thomas is positioning herself as the anti-incumbant, reports Jennifer Henderson:

She says that struggling rural families could use more accessible programs, but instead, an Early Literacy program that provided extra help for Primary to Grade 3 students at West Colchester Elementary is being axed next fall. Taylor says as Education Minister, Karen Casey had the power to overrule that school board decision but did not. It’s another reason Taylor believes she has a fighting chance to unseat the long-time MLA.

“I voted for Karen myself,” admits Taylor. “She is a nice lady. I think community groups appreciate she shows up to events. I think people had high hopes that Karen was the girl from Bass River who was going to go in and make the changes we need, especially in Education because she was an educator. But I think people are disappointed. I’m hearing at the door that she has not delivered on what she has promised to our people and it’s not enough to show up at community functions and to hand over government grant cheques and smile for a photo opp. What they want is real change. Someone to fight for the same programs at school that kids get in town. I think, respectfully, that much as she is well-liked, voters are looking for someone who is a bit more dynamic.”

Click here to read “Rebecca Taylor aims to dethrone Karen Casey.”

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2. Examineradio, episode #112

The Halifax Examiner’s court reporter isn’t dead or moving to Toronto or anything. She’s only going as far as Wolfville. Still, her insights into Nova Scotia’s justice system have been a welcome addition to our site’s news coverage.

Christina Macdonald joins us to talk about the inner workings of the court process, and discusses some of the key trials being played out in Halifax courts.

Plus, it’s election time, which means it’s time to parade candidates’ ugly social media histories for all to see.

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

3. Clearcutting banned?

Raymond Plourde at the Ecology Action Centre draws the Examiner’s attention to the above ad placed in The Coast by Liberal candidate and cabinet minister Labi Kousoulis. The ad claims that “your Liberal government has frozen clear cutting on crown land.”

Wait… what?

This claim has Plourde fake-excited:

Wow! This is great — and long overdue. As you recall the government committed to reduce clearcutting to no more than 50 per cent within five years. That was five years ago. Banning the practice on Crown land should about do it and it makes sense since the Liberal government decided not to regulate the practice on private lands. Groups like the Healthy Forest Coalition and Ecology Action Centre have been calling for reforms to forestry practices — especially clearcutting — for years. Public opinion polls also consistently show over 90 per cent of all Nova Scotians want either a ban or strict regulations on clearcutting (with no statistical difference between rural and urban residents, blowing up the myth that it’s only city folks who don’t like clearcutting and that rural residents support the practice). 

Here’s the language from the Liberal platform:

A re-elected Liberal Government will also appoint an independent expert to review our forestry practices to ensure we strike the right balance for our forests. This review will get underway immediately, starting first in the western region. No future long-term timber harvesting licences will be awarded on Crown land until the work is complete. [emphasis added]

There are of course plenty of operative not-new long- and short-term licences in place to clearcut Crown land all over the province. What the Liberal platform is addressing is the further opening up of the Bowater lands, which is already being clearcut by a coalition of forestry companies called WestFor.

WestFor is continuing to cut the Bowater land under temporary and short-term licenses already issued by the McNeil government. That’s not changing. What the Liberal platform is promising is to pause the issuance of new long-term, 20-year contracts for cutting the Bowater land.

But there is a vast, vast difference between pausing the issuance of future long-term clearcutting contracts on the Bowater lands and freezing existing clearcutting licences, including short-term licences, on all Crown land in the province, as Kousoulis’s ad implies the Liberals have done.

Kousoulis’s ad is at best misleading. At worst it is an outright lie.

Weirdly, Stephen McNeil is showing up at Halifax city council today, the one day when I can’t be there (I’m working on another story elsewhere downtown, and I’m not sure I can get to City Hall in time to catch McNeil). But I’ve asked Jennifer Henderson to pop in, say hi, and ask McNeil about the Kousoulis ad and Liberal clearcutting policy, and to try to get some clarification from Kousoulis. We’ll have an update later today.

4. Lobster

In my TRL file: “The story behind an alleged fraud worth millions in Nova Scotia’s lobster industry,” by Richard Cuthbertson, reporting for the CBC.

5. Commuter rail

“The NDP says it’s getting on board the idea of commuter rail for the Halifax Regional Municipality,” reports Philip Croucher for Metro:

Metro Halifax has learned that party leader Gary Burrill will make the announcement to regional council Tuesday morning, outlining his support for the much-discussed transportation idea if he was to be elected premier.


If elected, the NDP says it will commit to partnering with HRM on commuter rail, and give $5 million annually to the operating costs.


1. Are election campaigns places to discuss serious issues?

Photo: CBC

“In theory,” writes Stephen Kimber, “this election could have been an ideal opportunity to debate the kind of society we want for the future. That’s because, for perhaps the first time in 20 years, one political party appears to be offering an alternative to more of the same.”

Click here to read “Are election campaigns places to discuss serious issues?”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.




City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. I have other reporting and editing responsibilities this morning and probably into the afternoon, so likely won’t be able to attend today’s meeting. Here’s the agenda.


Special Events Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 9am, City Hall) — grant time.

Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Prospect Road Community Centre) — John Cascadden will discuss the Otter Lake dump, and Kimberly Berry will talk about a possible trail connecting the Common to the Bluff Wilderness Trail.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Mechanical Engineering (Tuesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Bruno Barazan will defend his thesis, “Mechanical Characterization of Single Microbial Cells Using Mems.”


Emergency Care Network (Wednesday, 11:30am, MA 310) — Lauren McNamara will speak on “Measuring Emergency Care Network Coverage with Location-Allocation Models and GIS.”

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Master’s student Shannon Sibbald will speak on “Genomic Footprints in the Cryptomonad Goniomonas — Evidence for Photosynthetic Ancestry?” and Master’s student Carine Nzirorera will speak on “The Role of Autotaxin and Lysophosphatidic Acid in Obesity Induced Cardiac Insulin Resistance.”

YouTube video

Fruitvale Station (Wednesday, 8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Ryan Coogler’s 2013 film.

In the harbour

5am: Atlantic Sky, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
6pm: Atlantic Sky, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York


A million things in the works: my own story (maybe two), updates from Jennifer Henderson, Erica Butler’s column… check back at the homepage.

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

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  1. Re; are elections…. I was listening to an Ideas podcast on Referendums this morning at the gym… they were speaking to a PhD student who was examining the way referendums can go really really wrong (like with Brexit or the recent case of Turkey). Referenda can sometimes be the populists’ easy answer–just get the people to decide, who cares how informed they are? Now, during an election, people enjoy a greater opportunity to learn and be informed, so maybe an election is a right time. Unlike a referendum, the role of leadership cannot be abdicated. Who writes the referendum question is the real deciding factor, just like with elections, the people who choose the candidates are the first ones to constrain the result. I am not sure how you can overcome the 50% of people who are perfectly content to be uninformed and unengaged to get at a well-functioning democracy, but I know that our leaders have an obligation to continue to try, by being clear about their ideas, their stands and their sources of information.

    1. Once upon a time there were thinkers who declared that with universal suffrage the population needed to be properly educated. Because we’ve forgotten how things used to be, we take for granted much that should actually be a priority, such as educating our children in civics, history, current events, etc.

    2. I think this is another good reason to support fixed election dates. A 30 day campaign is too sort for good policy discussion, but the lead-up to a fixed election would create a prime opportunity for various Parties to present and defend their proposals, and for voters to initiate discussion on new ideas.

      1. Agree with you both. Whoever wins, I want to see fixed election dates and proportional representation absolutely given their due.

  2. Commuter rail into the centre of Halifax has to share the rails with commercial rail traffic. The container pier adjacent to Point Pleasant Park is the major reason Commercial traffic exists in this area. Moving the container operation would free up the rails to be use predominantly for passenger rail traffic; this would be a great thing for public transit services. The lands freed up could be used to develop a truly family oriented community area and have the spinoff effect of facilitating the revitalization Halifax’s downtown core. Another benefit would be a significant reduction in heavy transport congestion that is directly related to container pier operations. Just creating new bicycle lanes will not revitalize Halifax’s downtown core; a game change development is needed to do that. The time has come to not just look and hypothesize on moving the container pier, the is ripe to make the move happen. Where in Halifax Planning on this topic?

    1. Move the container pier …to where ?
      Who will pay ?
      Won’t happen, been studied, been rejected, there is no better location and is ripe for a southward expansion.

      1. It’s already on park land. No place to expand. Shift to old oil refinery lands across the harbour?

        1. Moving to Dartmouth is too expensive and just shifts the rail problem to downtown Dartmouth, no thanks.
          More info here :

          page 122 – ” The railway cut, which for the purposes of this discussion can be seen as a link between the Bayers Road/Bi-High entrance and the Ocean Terminals, can be looked upon as an underutilized transportation resource within HRM. However, CN has reviewed the proposed shared operation and determined it to be impractical without significant costs. Its use as a truckway reduces wear and tear on city streets but requires a $40M investment to build. There is no financial return which can justify such an investment,even with projected future truck volumes. The best option for removing trucks from city streets, reducing GHGs and adding port capacity, is the construction of NIT “

          1. There was a study done a number of years ago… at that time the cost was estimated to be about 300 million to move the container pier over to Dartmouth; there was also an alternative location specified but my memory fails me. I will look for the report.

            But bottom line, the downtown core cannot be revitalized without a major change and there is not many options out there today.

    2. Bold. I like it. Can’t see any politician risking their political hide to champion such a thing, but it would be a boon for the peninsula to move the container pier to another site.

    3. I’m concerned that if the commercial traffic is removed from that line it will be difficult to generate the required traffic from VIA and commuter rail to maintain that line. And that’s in addition to the cost of relocating the container terminal and the associated rail lines to support it. I suspect that the terminal is only viable at present because of the current, existing transportation network.

  3. I enjoy the podcast and am a faithful listener. I really liked Friday’s. I thought the discussion about candidates and social media was excellent and plumbed the depths of the issue. But the highlight was listening to Christine Macdonald, who is just as articulate when speaking as she is when writing. I expect a bright future for her, she is very impressive.