1. Lionel Desmond

Lionel Desmond (far right corner) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown. Photo: Trevor Bungay/Facebook (via GlobalNews)

“A clearer picture is emerging of the former soldier involved in an apparent murder-suicide in Nova Scotia, with his own words on social media revealing a man struggling with PTSD who was trying to get his life back,” report Kevin Bissett and Michael MacDonald for the Canadian Press:

“I’m truly sorry for freaking out at my wife/daughter and people who know me. … I’m not getting a lawyer. I’m getting my life back,” Lionel Desmond wrote in a Dec. 3 Facebook post that did not elaborate.

“I apologize for anything out (of) my control. I will fix it, if not I’ll live with it.”

Desmond, 33, was found dead Tuesday night in a home in Upper Big Tracadie from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, RCMP say. His wife Shanna Desmond, 31, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and his mother Brenda Desmond, 52, also died of apparent gunshot wounds.

Friends and family say Desmond was a kind and funny person, who changed after a tour in Afghanistan in 2007.

In his Facebook posting last month, Desmond said he had hit his head on an light armoured vehicle and suffered back spasms after falling off a wall while in the Forces, and had been told he now had post-concussion disorder as well as PTSD.

“That (explains) my jealousy towards my wife and being over-controlling and (my) vulgar tongue towards my family,” he wrote.

Several people contacted me yesterday to say that PTSD doesn’t express itself in any higher levels of violence than is found in the general population. Of course, we don’t know what other mental illnesses Desmond may have had. It’s obvious in retrospect that he had a tortured soul.

Much of the focus on the tragedy rightly concerns the availability of mental health treatment for veterans, but there’s another issue that I’m interested in: the availability of firearms.

I called the RCMP yesterday to ask about the guns, but they aren’t yet releasing that information. So, I’m not presupposing anything. There could be explanations in Desmond’s case that I’m unaware of.

Still, it’s a reminder to me that there are simple paths of harm reduction. One is that we should not keep firearms in the home of or otherwise accessible to someone who is potentially suicidal, and in this case homicidal. It’s sad how many people don’t take that simple step of removing firearms.

Rural people have guns for plenty of legitimate reasons. This is not an anti-gun rant. It’s a reminder that in the specific case of someone who is potentially suicidal, limiting access to firearms can save lives.

And yes, it’s simple enough to purchase or otherwise find guns, but the common sense notion that “he’ll just find another way to kill himself” is often wrong — we know this. Suicide is often a fleeting moment, and when that moment passes, the person is no longer suicidal. Means reduction — keeping firearms and potentially lethal medication out of the house, putting barriers on bridges, etc. — works. The suicidal person may be determined to drive to another bridge or go purchase a gun elsewhere, but by that time the urge has passed.

Again, I don’t know how Lionel Desmond acquired the weapons he used. The concern expressed above may not apply in his case.

2. Fish kills

Photo: Eric Hewey.

“Mystery continues to swirl around what killed tens of thousands of fish in south-west Nova Scotia between the last week of November and Boxing Day,” reports Chris Lambie for Local Xpress:

And while the number of dead fish appears to be subsiding, officials are now admitting they may never be able to come up with an answer.

“It’s pretty unlikely that we will be able to pinpoint exactly what happened,” said Alain Vezina, the regional director of science for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Studies have shown the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99 per cent of the world’s large bodies of saltwater. But officials say they can’t link the dead fish to global warming.

“There’s no way of knowing whether climate change is really directly involved in this event,” Vezina said. “We don’t know whether this is just an isolated event. I can’t relate it to anything right now. So I can’t really make an educated guess as to whether I think it’s going to reoccur at a higher frequency in the future. That would be pure speculation.”

3. NSGEU files for conciliation

A press release issued by the NSGEU:

The NSGEU is filing for conciliation after negotiations with the government for a Civil Service collective agreement reached an impasse.

“Our members are looking for a fair agreement and hopefully a conciliator can help us get there,” says Jason MacLean, President of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union. “Right now, we remain far apart and are proceeding to the next step – conciliation.”

NSGEU members voted 94% against the employer’s final offer on December 14. Following this vote, the union returned to the bargaining table with the employer for two days of negotiations.

The employer’s final offer was a four year deal with a wage package of 0%,0%,1%, 1.5% and 0.5% on the last day of the contract. Their offer also ends a long-held benefit, called the Public Service Award, which is a deferred wage benefit negotiated in the 80s to improve recruitment and retention in the Civil Service. It freezes the benefit for all those who are current members and any new hires after April, 2015 would not receive it at all.

When parties are unable to achieve a mutual agreement, either the union or the employer can apply to the Labour Board for the help of conciliation services. Conciliation Officers work for the Department of Labour and Workforce Development.

NSGEU members working in the Civil Service do not have the right to strike. This right is replaced with the right to Interest Arbitration. Labour relations for the Civil Service are covered in the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act. If conciliation fails, the next step would be to apply for Interest Arbitration.

4. John’s Lunch sucks and other inflammatory comments

I’ve published new company and society registrations. This week, I’ve noted 20 new companies, including, as you can guess, some potentially inflammatory comments about John’s Lunch, but also this one:

Atlantic Chip Sport Timing Inc.
Partner: Troy Musseau
Musseau is a social services investigator with the government, and a runner. According to Canada Running Magazine:

His inspiration to get into the niche business of race timing occurred at the well-known Bluenose Marathon when he ran across the mats that were laid across the road to electronically track a runner’s progress and time. “That’s cool,” Musseau remembers.

So he bought the company. Life should be so simple and good for all of us.

Click here to read this week’s company and society listings.

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

5. Three-year-old runs into car

From a police email to reporters:

At 1727 Hrs Halifax Regional Police responded to a car pedestrian collision at Gottingen Street near the corner of Uniacke Street. It was determined a three year old female ran into the crosswalk striking the side of a vehicle. The female was transported to the IWK hospital and it was later determined she was not injured. The investigation is ongoing. Traffic was disrupted for approximately one hour.

6. Organ donation

“Premier Stephen McNeil says it’s time to have a conversation about presumed consent for organ donation,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

McNeil told reporters Thursday he believes people in the province are ready to consider the idea of having to opt out of being a donor, rather than opt in.


1. Silver Don Cameron

For the View 902 podcast, Paul Andrew Kimball interviews Silver Don Cameron about Cameron’s latest book, Warrior Lawyers. Writes Kimball:

We discuss the concept of natural law, and our duty of care as human beings to the planet and to the creatures with which we share it, and talk about a couple of examples from the book of lawyers and others who have engaged in citizen activism and used the law to combat corporate wrongdoing and change government policy on the environment. I end with a song I wrote way back in 1991 and recorded, but never released, with my band Julia’s Rain in 1995. Called “Shadows Grow,” I never thought it would be even more relevant today than ever. “Our pockets kill the fields” is still true, sadly, but thankfully folks like Silver Donald Cameron and the men and women he interviews in Warrior Lawyers are making a difference.

2. Election and teachers

Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“There will almost certainly be a provincial election in 2017,” writes Graham Steele:

Personally, I believe the most likely timing of an election is summer, by which I mean the four-month window from June to September.

If the Liberals are worried about their declining popularity, a summer vote will depress turnout. Conventional wisdom is that lower turnout favours the government.


The wild card, of course, is what happens with the teachers. 


Work-to-rule is likely to become the new normal.

Long-term work-to-rule favours the teachers. They can live with it for a long time.

The government, in contrast, can’t go into an election with the teachers’ dispute still simmering.

Something has to give.

When it does, watch for the premier’s election bus to roll out of the garage shortly after.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

As usual here on the Island, we greet the New Year with higher energy costs and what really irks me, higher bridge tolls. I am a long time supporter of the abolition of bridge tolls. They are an isolationist type of taxation and are counterproductive for all facets of our economy.

I guess it’s a pipe dream to see them gone but there is one thing the government can easily do for us in regard to the tolls. I understand that all commercial traffic that travels the bridge gets a tax deduction when they declare the bridge toll expense. The government can easily extend this income tax deduction to all Islanders and for that matter, to all travelers.

With a singe stroke of the pen, we could all receive this benefit. Because we live on this Island, we have to accept higher living costs and a fee to leave. The RCMP now wants to know when we escape the Island by sharing the license plate info collected on all who travel the bridge.

There is such a small number of Islanders and we have such a large population of drug dealers that we must all succumb to this invasion of our privacy. You would think that the RCMP would have caught all the drug dealers a long time ago.  Remember when a New Brunswick government lost an election because it wanted to impose highways tolls?

We have paid the price of tolls for long enough.

Graham Ayers, Summerside


No public meetings. City council reconvenes next Tuesday.

On campus

Nothing interesting going on that we’re aware of.

In the harbour

6am: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
7am: Agios Minas, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Cagliari, Italy
10:30am: NYK Daedalus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
1pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
2pm: Helga, general cargo, arrives at Pier 31 from Puerto Tarafa, Cuba
4pm: ZIM Shanghai, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
4;30m: ZIM Monaco, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
5pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
6pm: Bahri Abha, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Livorno, Italy
11pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Autoport for St. John’s

I think I’ll try to get the documentary Freightened screened here in Halifax. The synopsis:

90% of the goods we consume in the West are manufactured in far-off lands and brought to us by ship. The cargo shipping industry is a key player in world economy and forms the basis of our very model of modern civilisation; without it, it would be impossible to fulfil the ever-increasing demands of our societies. Yet the functioning and regulations of this business remain largely obscure to many, and its hidden costs affect us all. Due to their size, freight ships no longer fit in traditional city harbours; they have moved out of the public’s eye, behind barriers and check points. The film answers questions such as: Who pulls the strings in this multi-billion dollar business? To what extent does the industry control our policy makers? How does it affect the environment above and below the water-line? And what’s life like for modern seafarers? Taking us on a journey over seas and oceans, FREIGHTENED reveals in an audacious investigation the many faces of world-wide freight shipping and sheds light on the consequences of an all-but-visible industry.


We’ll be publishing an article about ocean monitoring later this morning, and then Examineradio this afternoon.

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

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  1. Tim
    On the Freightened ….they are selling the dvd for 16€ I’ll split it with you and we can donate it afterwards.

    1. I listened to the CBC interview of the director and I noted many errors. I’ll wait for the opinions of others before listing them.

  2. The government won’t let me send an email to someone unless they opt-in to my subscriber list, but the government would yank the eyeballs out of my dead body without my permission?

    1. No. The government would remove the corneas (and other usable parts) from a corpse after you’re gone so that, instead of rotting or being incinerated, they could help some living person to see, or live longer, or enjoy a fuller life. You will be dead and gone—and most relevant, beyond caring WTF happens to your body parts. Is there a form of selfishness more despicable than wanting your body parts to rot in a grave rather than help a living person?