I’m Philip Moscovitch filling in for Tim, who was sitting by a campfire last night. On Twitter I’m @PhilMoscovitch.


1. Forestry Review

Stand of trees
Photo: Philip Moscovitch

Bill Lahey released his much-anticipated review of forestry practices in the province late yesterday morning. Jennifer Henderson reports for the Halifax Examiner:

Bill Lahey’s prescription was sweeping: “We need a new paradigm to manage our forests.”

That’s what the University of King’s College president told journalists after handing the McNeil government the results of a year-long review of forestry practices in Nova Scotia. McNeil appointed Lahey last August after choosing not to implement key recommendations of the 2011 Natural Resources Strategy: reduce clearcutting by 50 per cent and ban the practice of full-tree harvesting.

Lahey, a lawyer and a former deputy Environment minister, said that even if his 45 recommendations result “in the contraction of the industry” and the closure of a mill because wood supply drops, his top priority must be to “protect ecosystems and biodiversity.”

Click here to read “The Lahey Review of Forest Practices is published; what does it mean?”

I live in a semi-rural area, and my family owns about 28 acres, most of which is wooded. Several years ago, a local forestry company asked us about clearcutting it (almost 90 per cent of cutting on private lands is clearcutting) but we declined. I understand that people want to control what happens on their own properties, but I don’t get the deep-seated notion that because a woodlot is privately owned, we need to throw up our hands and forget about what happens on it.

The province does have regulations when it comes to buffer zones for watercourses, on private as well as public land. From what I gather, Lahey is hoping well-managed Crown lands will set an example for private woodlot owners, but he doesn’t exclude the possibility of legislation as well.

2. Conversations about Cornwallis and more in new play

Elapultiek, a new play by Mi’kmaw writer Shalan Joudry, opens tomorrow, writes Emma Smith for CBC:

Elapultiek runs from Aug. 23 to Sept. 1, and centres around the relationship between an Indigenous woman and a non-Indigenous man as they wrestle with their very different views of the world.

Their conversations explore the legacy of residential schools and what to do with statues, like the one of Edward Cornwallis, which was eventually taken down from a Halifax park.

“We’re learning about, first of all, that we do need to talk about these things and that we can survive a conversation, even the most difficult conversations,” said playwright and ecologist Shalan Joudry, who lives and works in Bear River First Nation.

The play takes place around a campfire. Ken Schwartz, artistic director of the Two Planks and a Passion theatre company, which is staging the production, says this is the first time the company has commissioned a play by a Mi’kmaw writer:
“It’s our failure,” said artistic director Ken Schwartz. “That’s what it is, and in all of these kinds of issues, the reason it took so long is because we didn’t do what we should.”

3. Whale rescuer should have had protection

Right whale #1142 taking a breath at the surface, just as the arrow approaches the entangling rope around her upper jaw. Center for Coastal Studies, NOAA permit #18786.

Over in New Brunswick, Karissa Donkin reports for CBC that a Canada Labour Code investigation says the federal government failed to protect whale rescuer Joe Howlett.

Howlett, who died last July after being hit by the tail of an entangled right whale he had freed, was on a vessel belonging to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at the time, and the report says he should have been given protective headgear, Donkin writes.

The report criticizes the federal government for not having “an effective national policy on whale rescue,” an issue that members of Howlett’s Campobello Whale Rescue Team highlighted after the death of their friend.

“DFO controls who can approach whales in Canadian waters by the exclusive jurisdiction in the permits and licences that they issue,” the report says.

“They have a duty of care to their employees, the NGO volunteers, and to the whales that are entangled in fishing gear that depend on these persons.”

If you want to read more about Howlett and the people who risk their lives to save whales, read this excellent longform piece by Chelsea Murray in The Deep.

4. Mi’kmaw summer games open

The Mi’kmaw Summer Games opened in Eskasoni yesterday. The event features 2,000 athletes competing in 24 different sports.

The games’ opening keynote speech was by former Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller, from Kahnawake, outside Montreal.

In the Cape Breton Post, TJ Colello writes:

Growing up in a single-parent home, her mother, Kahn-Tineta Horn, moved to Ottawa and lived across the street from a local YMCA to get regular pool time. They rented out rooms to help pay the bills and slept on a pullout couch.

In 1990 at the age of 14, Horn-Miller was on the frontlines of the Oka Crisis. On the final day of the crisis, she was stabbed in the chest by a soldier during an altercation and nearly died.

In high school, she began to play water polo and was a university champion in the sport at Carleton University, where she was named female athlete of the year three consecutive years (1994-97), a first at the school. She’s competed at a number of North American Indigenous Games as well, winning 20 gold medals from 1990-97.


Peggy’s Cove Tourists

PSA: if you ignore the signs at Peggys Cove, you risk not only your (kids’) lives but having your video widely circulated on Nova Scotia twitter, in a bad way. https://t.co/2aRdJfx3yS

— Selena Ross (@seleross) August 21, 2018

Yesterday, people were still talking about that video from Peggy’s Cove showing a dad at the edge of the black rocks, his kids’ feet close to (and at one point in) the water, while a woman — presumably the mum — stood behind them shooting a video.

I live near Peggy’s Cove. Two of my kids work there part-time. I go to the Cove quite a bit. I don’t know what to make of this.

Calling these people idiots doesn’t help, and saying they deserve it if they die is callous and unhelpful. Clearly, there are signs, and clearly people ignore them.

I find the old-fashioned sign saying “injury and death have rewarded careless sight-seers” confusing. But a review of safety at the Cove after a 2015 drowning saw the addition of more signs. It is hard to miss them.

I do think it is a problem that the signs are all in English. We get a ton of tourists from Quebec, for instance. I’m sure someone has data on what languages tourists most commonly speak, and I don’t think having signs in those languages is a bad idea.

But I suspect what’s going on here is partly the result of a) people not wanting to be told what to do and b) having been conditioned to ignoring warning signs, figuring they are just there not because there is a real danger, but because they serve as cover in the event of a lawsuit.

Hannah (@hpstrawberries on Twitter) lives, like me, on the Peggy’s Cove Road.


I don’t know about the “stupid” part, but we see ridiculous warnings all the time, and we just tune them out. And many tourists seem to think Nova Scotia tourism destinations are theme parks, not realizing they’re not simply sites set up for them to visit. What do you do? Create a warning sign that says, “No, seriously — this is a real danger”? I don’t have time this morning to dive into this, but I imagine effective warning signs must be a whole field of study and that we could draw on it for the next go-round in the Cove.

Just as long as we don’t think that will eliminate the problem.


I’ve spent much of my last two weeks in school.

Last year, I signed up for the MFA in Creative Nonfiction at King’s. (Regular Examiner contributor Stephen Kimber is one of the instructors.)

I fell into the program somewhat by chance. Having spent a couple of decades as a freelance writer, I had built my career on writing short pieces and features, along with non-journalism that sometimes ran a bit longer: websites, reports, educational materials. I’d always had book ideas kicking around, but never acted on them.

Then I met with editor Kim Pittaway to discuss a magazine story I was writing for her. She was also the new head of the King’s MFA, and she asked if I’d thought of doing a book. I had. She encouraged me to look into the program. I did, and I signed up. Now I’m about a third of the way to having the book done. I’m also well into writing another book — something not connected to the program, but that would have been much harder if I hadn’t learned a lot from the MFA.

I’m not writing an ad for this particular program. But I do want to promote the value of learning new skills — whether or not that’s in a formal, school setting — and to encourage you to follow through if you have some project you’ve been meaning to take up and keep putting off. (I look forward to eventually reading Tim’s SF novel.)

Even though it is exhausting, there is something great about being with a group of people all learning together, and sharing ideas. I knew a lot about writing, but nearly nothing about the book business — or about how to pace something over 70,000 words instead of 1,500.

I did my undergrad and MA degrees at Concordia University, in Montreal. Concordia was formed through the merger of two colleges, one of which had a long history of educating part-time and mature students. As an undergrad, I was used to having people in their 70s in my philosophy classes, or being in a writing seminar with others fresh out of CEGEP along with people in mid-career or later. It just seemed natural.

One of the guys in my current program is in his 70s. He said something about how it might seem strange to be going back to school at his age and learning new stuff, “but we all know what the alternative is.”

While listening to Halifax talk radio one day, I heard a caller  defending some idiotic opinion based on an appeal to his senior status. “I’m 55 years old,” he said.

I want to be the first guy, not the second one.

Humans are designed to learn. And the world is full of opportunities for us to learn more. Take a bicycle repair workshop, learn to play an instrument, use an app or find a tutor to start learning a language, practice writing, take a wilderness First Aid course, sign up for workshops or free university classes at the library, go back to school.

Learn things and have fun.


No government meetings this week.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Wednesday, 9:30am, Room C264, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Pooja Srinivasan will defend her thesis “A study on the importance of an intact-ring structure in proline racemase catalysis.”​

Thesis Defence, Biology (Wednesday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jiabo Tan will defend his thesis “The Roles of Heat Shock Factor During Diapause and Stress Tolerance in the Crustacean Artemia Franciscana.”


Thesis Defence, Sociology and Social Anthropology (Thursday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Tonya Canning will defend her thesis “‘We Don’t Want Hippy Money’: Contradiction and Exchange in a Local Currency System.”

In the harbour

There are no large ships in northern New Hampshire.


Many, many Conservatives are arriving downtown.

Philip Moscovitch is a freelance writer, audio producer, fiction writer, and editor of Write Magazine.

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  1. People have to be stupid if they don’t understand the danger of walking on rocks at the edge of the ocean.
    More signs will not change behaviour.

    1. We walk on rocks all the time along the south shore (adjunct etc.) but the sea is much more docile. Ive never seen it happen but you wouldn’t be falling into the savage sea that’s at Peggy’s cove. Even as a lifelong bluenoser, it surprises me how brief a transition to full North Atlantic exists at pc.

  2. We have security personnel at the Public Gardens who tell you what you are and are not supposed to do there. And no lives are at stake (I think.) Didn’t there used to be people at Peggy’s Cove who warned about the dangers? How much did/would that cost?

    1. That is really interesting — and Peggy’s Cove fails on most of the criteria.

      1. Many people do not park in the parking lots so we can believe that they do not see the signs. We were there in July just to see how crowded it was. The only parking we found was off to the right at the church before you get to the rocks or the main parking lot.

        The other problem is that people with no familiarity with the open ocean do not understand how the waves can vary so much.

        I wonder how much explanation is given to people who come on bus tours.

        The dilemma is that people may feel that the signs, if posted on the rocks closer to the dangerous spots, would take away from the attractiveness of Peggy’s. It is not like other dangerous places such as the edge of a cliff or a river bank where the place you are standing is not the attraction.

        Perhaps brochures could be passed out as you enter Peggy’s (expensive and lots of litter) or someone could be hired to patrol the rocks and warn people (very expensive and who would pay?)

        1. When you enter avalanche terrain off a ski slope you often pass through a gate with warnings and reminders about equipment. Hard to miss when you have to pass through a turnstile.

  3. Philip’s thoughts about lifelong learning remind me of the first great thing I learned in university. One day, my near-retirement first-year English prof told a long story about his recent academic interests. At each step of the way, he chose to learn something entirely new to master the subject: German, drafting, stage construction. I’ve forgotten most of what I cared about during those four years of undergrad, but I’ve never stopped thinking about what I learned from that story.

  4. I tweeted yesterday that it might be more effective if a sign at Peggy’s Cove listed the names of people who have been swept off the rocks.

    1. You might be onto something… how would perceptions and actions change if we treated the site as a memorial and not as a “tourist attraction”?

      1. That would help. Memorial plaques (brass) could be put on rocks near the water’s edge. Of course the dangerous areas are not the same every day.

        1. Not sure how the families of those who died (sometimes intentionally) would feel about the attention.