On campus
In the harbour


1. Shell drilling OKed

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board issued a press release yesterday announcing that it has given Shell Oil permission to drill off the south shore. The approval reduces the time the company must cap a well blowout from 21 days to an oddly vague “12 to 13” days. “We looked at it and said, ‘You know, 21 days seems like a long time,’” Stuart Pinks, the CEO of CNSOPB told the CBC:

The Ecology Action Centre is calling the shorter timeline an improvement, but it would like to see the capping technology housed in Atlantic Canada.

“If we want an offshore oil and gas industry, then we should be willing — or the company should be willing — to pay for the technology in place for any kind of emergency,” said policy director Mark Butler.

He says there is no guarantee Shell would be able to get the capping stack to Nova Scotia within the approved timelines.

“The best way to minimize the time is to have that technology here in Atlantic Canada, so it’s one to two days, or 24 hours to get that technology out to the site,” said Butler.

Pinks said with a limited number of capping stacks available in the world, it isn’t feasible to have one close to every drilling site.

The board said in a news release it is confident Shell Canada will take “all reasonable precautions” to protect the environment and work safely while drilling.

Shell could start drilling as soon as today.

2. Collapse

The “hole” in Long Island on the Minas Basin has collapsed.




Photo: Global News
Photo: Global News

3. City management jobs

A reader alerted me to the city of Brampton, Ontario’s nationwide search for a new Chief Administrative Officer. I contacted the city’s media people yesterday, and they told me that the Brampton city council will next week meet in camera to review a short list of candidates for the job, and decide which candidates will be offered interviews. They would not release the names of the candidates on the short list.

I don’t know if Halifax CAO Richard Butts has applied for the job, but, well, the commute is considerably shorter.

The commute from Butts’ Toronto house to Brampton City Hall:

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 8.16.50 AM

The commute from Butts’ Toronto house to Halifax City Hall:

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 8.19.02 AM


1. Election fallout

People seem to be coming to grips with the election results. The sweeping Liberal victory — the Grits took every seat in Nova Scotia — means that the provincial contingent to Ottawa is 10 men, and just one woman, Bernadette Jordan.

Darren Fisher made an appearance at Halifax council yesterday, and said that the campaign in Dartmouth was cordial, with the candidates showing great respect for each other. I live in the district, and that was my impression as well. I didn’t see any dirty campaigning or mud-slinging. Fisher sailed past incumbent NDP MP Robert Chisholm, and now we’ll see what the taciturn Fisher can do in Parliament. Good luck.

I’m still disturbed, however, by the nastiness of the Halifax race. I didn’t see any of it coming from the candidates themselves, but their supporters were filling up my social media feeds with all sorts of ugliness, especially directed at Megan Leslie: she doesn’t live in Halifax, she did nothing for locals, she’s incompetent, etc. Obviously, given the outcome of the vote, people wanted to make a strong statement and that meant an overwhelming vote of support for Filmore, but the vitriol was uncalled for. In fact, Leslie has a well-earned reputation among MPs of all parties and among journalists as an extraordinary parliamentarian, hard-working, knowledgeable, and yet connected to everyday people; it’s possible to acknowledge that and still want a Liberal government. Regardless, the tributes to Leslie are pouring in.

And now Justin Trudeau will be Prime Minister. I’m encouraged by the first steps he has taken: signalling the he will deescalate Canada’s military presence in Syria and announcing that his ministers will have real control over their portfolios. My hope is that Stephane Dion will be named Environment Minister — Dion is a decent, smart, good man who was viciously and unfairly maligned by Stephen Harper; letting him represent Canada at next month’s Paris Climate Change Summit is a no-brainer.

As for Trudeau’s immediate agenda, people are calling for him to take quick action on a small number of items, which makes sense. Says Parker Donham:

If Trudeau is as smart as he is starting to look, he will use this honeymoon to act on five (or so) high profile, sensible agenda items—widely popular, easily accomplished—and get them done by Christmas. Restore the long-form census. Improve Canada’s treatment of veterans. Unmuzzle government scientists. Jettison MoCan. Appoint an impeccable national figure to investigate the scandal of missing and murdered aboriginal women. Fix Bill C-51.It needn’t be these exact things. Just a handful sensible steps to differentiate Trudeau and his government from the mean spirits that preceded them.

That’s not a bad list, but I would place one item on the “immediate, now” list: repeal prohibition. Trudeau started his campaign quickly and boldly with a call for the legalization of marijuana. It is the right policy. The war on pot smokers is senseless given our society’s celebration of the far more harmful alcohol.

One thing that became clear in the Rob Ford scandal was that our attitudes about drug use are skewed. When rich people do drugs, even cocaine, we treat it as a health issue, something to clean up from at a rehab centre; when poor people do drugs, even something as relatively harmless as pot, we ruin their lives forever, sentencing them to jail, a lifetime engagement with the justice system, and make it impossible for them to get a wide variety of jobs. This is unjust and needs to stop.

There’s no reason a repeal of prohibition and the establishment of a regulatory regime for marijuana can’t be enacted quickly. This has been studied to death, and there are at least two working models of legalized pot, in the American states of Washington and Colorado.

Legalizing marijuana in Trudeau’s first parliament will change this country forever, for the better. It will signal that drug policy will be science-based and wedded to values of social justice. It will take the violence out of the pot distribution industry and free up law enforcement to concentrate on real crime. The single act of legalization will do more for Canada’s tourism industry than a gazillion golf courses will ever do. And of course there’s the not-inconsequential consideration of additional tax revenue.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

I am writing this letter in the hope of challenging attitudes about behaviours that have become so commonplace society no longer questions them or why they are tolerated.

I enjoy reading David Muise’s ‘I’m Just Sayin’ ‘ column in the Cape Breton Post. It brings back memories of childhood from the 1960s. However, a line from a recent column brought back some unhappy memories. It said: “We would amuse ourselves by throwing crabapples or snowballs at the girls.” That made me remember how much I hated being on the receiving end of that behaviour. I didn’t accept that just because I was a little girl it was OK for little boys to throw things at me. I didn’t see anything fun about it. Needless to say questioning that behaviour, viewed by so many as “all in fun,” made me a freak and labeled a “snot.”

If the sentence was “We amused ourselves by throwing crabapples or snowballs at natives or at blacks” it would provoke a very different response. Most people would see that children targeting those groups so casually as a source of amusement was part of a larger systemic problem.

Why is the reaction so different when the group is girls?

Why are harmful behaviours such as pushing and shoving still dismissed as “boys being boys” or just “horseplay?” Does there have to be a death or a suicide for people to see the wrong in bullying? It’s not fun for the people on the receiving end of those behaviours. Even those who “put up and shut up” to avoid further harassment. 

It’s time for parents and teachers to examine their own attitudes about such behaviours. It’s time for them to step up and communicate that with or without a tragic outcome, some behaviours are wrong in and of themselves.

M. Monica MacDonaldNorth Sydney



Audit and Finance (10am, City Hall) — nothing on the agenda is screaming at me to be there.

Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Special Advisory Committee (3pm, Nova Scotia Community College – IT Campus, Room B239, 5685 Leeds Street) — we’re going to commemorate the Explosion with a train wreck.

District 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee (7pm, Halifax Forum) — the committee will be looking at a proposal for five-, 16-, and 21-storey buildings at the corner of Young and Windsor Streets.


Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — Paula English, Chief of Program Delivery, will be asked about Veterans Affairs Canada Residential Care Policies.

On campus


Logistics (11am, MA310) — the event listing doesn’t say who is speaking, because that might be useful information I guess, but whoever is speaking, this is what they’re speaking about:

The field of logistics affects all aspects of modern life. Annual expenditures on transportation and inventory alone accounts for approximately 8.2 of the gross domestic product of the United States and an even larger percentage in many other countries. In spite of the magnitude of modern logistics problems, the field of global supply chain logistics is changing rapidly, and the recent recession has increased the pace of change in unanticipated ways. Five major trends that are expected to continue to shape global logistics in the coming decade will be discussed; the U.S. reliance on imported consumer goods and the emergence of China as the world’s manufacturer, the availability and price of energy, the continuing rise of the internet, growing environmental concerns, and increasing governmental debt. After establishing the significance of these trends, attention will be turned to the great logistics challenges that we now face, and discussion will focus on the need for in! novation in niche areas, the need for efficiency gains in general, and the need to think big. 

Starving fish for science (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building Link) — Simon Lamarre will speak on “Adjustments of protein metabolism following food withdrawal in fish and cephalopods.”

Mindtools (5:30pm, Rowe 3089) — Daniel Russell, who is, and I quote, “the Å°ber Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness in Mountain View,” (presumably, he merely lives in Mountain View, and one can be happy elsewhere as well) will speak on “Mindtools: What Does it Mean to be Literate in the Age of Google?”

Out of Mind, Out of Sight (6pm, Halifax Central Library) — a screening of the film:

This feature documentary profiles four residents of the Brockville Mental Health Centre, a forensic psychiatric hospital for people who have committed violent crimes. Four patients—two men and two women—struggle to gain control over their lives so they can return to a society that often fears and demonizes them. Shrouded in stigma, institutions like this one are places into which patients disappear from public view for years. Four-time Emmy winner John Kastner was granted unprecedented access to the Brockville facility for 18 months, allowing 46 patients and 75 staff to share their experiences with stunning frankness. An Israeli film director interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories of his term of service in that conflict.

Uganda (7pm, The Grad House) — the event listing:

This summer, three students from Dalhousie completed internships at NGOs in Uganda, as part of the QES Internship Program. These interns were three of the many thousands of young people every year who pack their bags to go volunteer, intern, and work overseas. This practice is thought to help them grow, learn about other cultures, and foster connections. However in a world where these cross-cultural experiences are becoming more common, we must ask: what are the ethics of voluntourism and development work? What power dynamics are at play when students go overseas? And what can countries in the Global North learn from those in the Global South, and vice versa? 

On October 21st at 7pm, join the QES Scholars at the Grad House for a panel discussion on what Canada and Uganda – and the Global North and the Global South more broadly – can learn from each other. The panel will include Ugandans who have immigrated to Canada, Dalhousie professors, and the interns themselves. Refreshments will be provided.

A Clockwork Orange (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:45am Wednesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:45am Wednesday. Map:

Singapore Express, container ship, arrived at Fairview Cove this morning from New York; sails to sea this afternoon
ZIM Luanda, arrived at Pier 42 this morning from Valencia, Spain
ZIM Piraeus, container ship, New York to Pier 42, then sails to sea
Helene J, container ship, Lisbon to Pier 41
Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, New York to Fairview Cove

Asian Emperor sails to sea
Hollandia sails to sea

The cruise ship Silver Whisper (up to 382 passengers) is in port today.


I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 3pm today, one hour earlier than usual.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. It’s disturbing to hear of the nastiness directed by Liberal supporters toward Megan Leslie. What I noticed was that the attack ads put out by the official campaign on the last page of the “Fillmore Times” inserted into the Chronicle Herald were misleading, in some cases outright lies and nasty in their tone including the photo. If their supporters were nasty they were getting signals from whoever designed those ads that anything goes. Megan was a fine MP with great communication skills and profound integrity. She was a well informed national leader on climate change among other things. A great loss.

  2. I am constantly reminded that the average IQ is below 100 when I read that government officials believe that oil companies’ “all reasonable precautions” are good enough to protect something priceless. The land and oceans. le sigh.

  3. Does anyone remember the Gulf of Mexico? In 2010, (in what some would consider a rather cruel irony) an oil slick appeared on NASA’s satellite images, swirling much like Hurricane Katrina did in exactly the same place just five years before. It was to become the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. All told, the explosion and sinking of B.P’s oil platform Deepwater Horizon just 66 km from the Louisiana coast killed eleven rig workers and resulted in what felt like a never-ending horror: the gushing of oil from the seafloor for months — 87 days to be exact — amounting to a spill of nearly 5 million barrels of crude as well as the addition of nearly seven million litres of Corexit — the trade name for a toxic mixture of surfactants and solvents that purportedly help to break down the oil.

    And now, in the event of a similar catastrophe, we have Shell Oil being allowed to let its oil gush for 12-13 days — about one sixth of the time oil gushed in the Gulf of Mexico — which could amount to 800,000 barrels of oil spilling into one of the last lucrative fishing grounds in Eastern Canada.

    When I was doing research for my book (The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea) I interviewed Denny Morrow, the former executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association who was unhappy with the government’s support of oil/ gas over fish. He told me at the time that the government wanted fewer fishermen because that would mean less opposition to the off-shore oil and gas industry: “In the event of a catastrophe like the Deep Water Horizon, there will be greatly reduced damage claims by fishermen. Off-shore oil and gas projects don’t seem to produce a lot of jobs in coastal communities. They don’t even produce cheaper heating. The result for our coastal communities will be a continued export of our young people and a sad future for many communities.”

    Let’s not also forget that exploring for oil/ gas is the last thing we should be doing right now. Climate change is upon us, and its incumbent upon our political leaders to have the public’s best interests in mind, not the corporate ones.

    1. It’s worth noting that when Deep Water Horizon blew in 2010, BP brought in the world’s pre-eminent expert in oil and gas dispersal and mitigation: Dr. Kenneth Lee. At the time, he was employed with Fisheries and Oceans and the department (rightly) lauded his contributions to the recovery.

      If, today, a similar accident were to happen in our off-shore waters, Dr. Lee would not be immediately available to assist us. In 2012, during the Conservative government’s wide-reaching cuts, Dr. Lee received notice that his position was being eliminated. While he no doubt would have found another position within DFO or government, in November 2012 he accepted an offer from CSIRO and is now living and working in Perth, Australia.

  4. My number one immediate now item would be to appoint some form of action committee dedicated to implementing the 94 recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission on residential schools, which Trudeau promised to do.

  5. Richard Butts MAY have been an «acceptable» occupant of that august position but one really has to ask how commuting from Toronto affected both the HRM Budget, and actual job performance. Is there a precedent somewhere for this? Seems to me that (a) it must have been a 3- or 4-day week much of the time, and one has to wonder who paid for 50 thousand-dollar airfares each year.

    Has ANY other civic administration in North America been so foolish?

  6. Whose back pockets are being padded when we allow BILLION-DOLLAR WorldCorps to whine that providing proper safeguards against a Gulf of Mexico type FIASCO DISASTER would be «unreasonable given the paucity of proper equipment. Errr… ««ships start here»»??? If there aren’t sufficient capping vessels then the drilling MUST WAIT until there are!
    Obviously neither Shell nor any of our so-called «regulators», nor any politicians have ever heard of that rare esoteric activity called

  7. Having lived in Toronto I almost snorted coffee out my nose when I saw the time estimate for the trip fro Yonge/Eglinton to Brampton as 38 min. LMAO. Not a hope, unless you’re doing it Sunday night at 11pm.

  8. Sad to see no reporting on the REAL issue at City Hall yesterday. DONAIRS!

    Redundancies in HRM staff yet staff time used to create a report about Donairs.

    The mind wobbles.

    1. I can’t overstate the danger of this designation. The Donair has long been a basic food group in Spryfield, Lower Sackville, and the (real) North End. The rest of Metro are just visiting. Allowing the Donair to be appropriated by the the people of Downtown or, worse, the South End would be a terrible food injustice, just one more way that our distinct cultures are being compromised.
      Save the Donair (for us)!