1. Parking enforcement

“Halifax’s contractor for parking enforcement will not have its contract renewed when it expires on Nov. 14.,” reports Emma Davie for the CBC:

Nick Ritcey, spokesperson with the city, said G4S Secure Solutions will not be contracted again for parking enforcement and instead the services will be done in-house.

“Municipal staff has determined that the performance of the company didn’t quite meet the expectations that we’ve laid out,” he said.


Ritcey said the city plans to hire nine new compliance officers and the jobs will be posted in the coming weeks.


Ritcey said they expect to save about $100,000 a year.

2. Road train

Halifax council is voting tomorrow on whether to approve a $50,000 contribution to the Halifax Community Road Train Society. Any way you cut it, this is an end-run around the prohibition against giving public funds to a private business. As I explained in July:

The train primarily benefits one business — Murphy’s, which is owned by Dennis Campbell, who also owns Ambassatours, the bus company. As Jennifer Henderson reported for the Examiner in May (paywall):

A proposal before city council’s Grants Committee requests $50,000 for this season and about $70,000 over the next two years to operate an open-air “road train” to carry visitors from the Seaport Market and Discovery Centre at one end of Lower Water Street, past Murphy’s, to the Armour Group’s Historic Properties at the other end. The free ride would follow a route similar to the FRED bus before it was discontinued.

Campbell has already acquired the road train (“not a cheap undertaking,” he says) and is asking both municipal and provincial taxpayers to cover a large portion of its lease payments. The Waterfront Development Corporation is also currently reviewing a request to kick in some operating money. A non-profit group called the Halifax Community Road Train Society would operate the daily service.

Directors of the Road Train Society are Campbell; Mary Dempster, who is the Chief Operating Officer at Ambassatours; and Sean Buckland, the Director of Sales & Logistics at Ambassatours. Campbell is the group’s president, while Dempster serves as secretary. There are no directors or executives of the non-profit who are not associated with a Campbell-owned business.

I noticed recently that the train asks passengers for a “donation” of $2 to $5 per ride, because it’s all a big charity, see?

At that time, staff’s recommendation was to deny funding for the road train because:

As per the HRM Charter, the Municipality cannot provide a grant to a private sector entity such as Ambassatours, but the proponent has indicated that a not-for-profit society has been established to oversee the operations of this service. This society will work with businesses and other organizations that wish to become involved with the service. A December 2011 report by the municipal Auditor General that reviewed HRM’s contribution to the Seaport Farmers’ Market raised some concerns with the practice of providing funding to a not-for-profit society which is attached to a private sector entity. Therefore, if any municipal funding is provided to support this proposal, such funding would have to be contingent on receiving further information on the society operating the service.

That “further information” is apparently still to come, or if it’s come it’s not publicly available.

But the board of directors of the Halifax Community Road Train Society has been rejigged. The board still includes Campbell as president and director, and Mary Dempster, the Chief Operating Officer at Ambassatours, as secretary, recognized agent, and director. However, Sean Buckland, the other Ambassatours rep, has been removed. And now on the board are councillor Waye Mason, David Gunn of the Tatamagouche Road Train Society, Kimberly Dossett of the Halifax Downtown Business Improvement District, and Jeff Shute of the Waterfront Development Corporation.

This was enough for council’s Audit & Finance Committee to last week claim there was no longer a conflict with the city charter.

Still and all, notes the staff report to the Audit & Finance Committee, “the Society leases the vehicle from Ambassatours and operates the service using a management fee agreement.”

So this is all one shell game, shuffling the pea this way and that, but the bottom line is public money is being spent for the benefit of a private business.

3. WE Day

Speaking of spending public money on dubious projects, council is also being asked (and can’t possibly refuse) to give $65,000 to WE Day Atlantic, the local appearance of the cross-Canada “Capitalism will save the world!” indoctro-fest for school children.

Appropriately, the event will be held in an arena named for a bank. If past events are any indication, that’ll just be the start of the corporate branding.

4. Examineradio, episode #135

Desmond Cole. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Broadcaster, writer, and activist Desmond Cole is the special guest on this episode, and oh boy, does he have a story to tell.

Many people know him from his 2015 article in Toronto Life magazine where he talked about being carded by police and harassed for no reason other than being black.

Others know him from the time he spoke at a Toronto police services meeting to demand they destroy data collected from carding. When he didn’t get a response, he refused to leave the meeting and was escorted out. He was a Toronto Star columnist at the time, and when an editor said his activism violated the newspaper’s journalism policy, he left the Star. He wrote about it in a blog entry called “I choose activism for Black liberation.”

So when Cole was in Halifax this week, I made a point of asking if he had had any encounters with Halifax police. And yes, he had a story:

“I took off and I ran from the spot I was at and I literally went and I hid.”

Listen to the full interview because you’ll want to hear what Cole did next.

Plus, we talk about Dalhousie student Masuma Khan and the case involving her #whitefragility comment, and the emails going back and forth among councillors and the mayor regarding the Cornwallis statue.

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

5. Lying children

A bunch of kids are about to start lying about finding needles and razor blades in their Halloween candy.

Here’s a public service announcement from the Examiner to parents and reporters:

Some kids will soon pretend to have received Halloween candy that has been tampered with. This will perhaps start as a silly inside joke for an Instagram post between kids, but an adult will learn of it and it’ll explode to the point where local media start reporting the story in alarming tones, and then other children will see those reports and pretend to also have received candy that has been tampered with.

Then, police will pretend to conduct investigations into the tampered candy — they can’t, after all, accuse the kids of being little shits, even though they know the kids actually are little shits. I mean, if the police really took these accounts seriously, they’d map out trick-or-treating routes, flood the neighbourhoods with cops, issue search warrants, call in suspects and witnesses, and so forth, but since they don’t do any of that, well, we can assume they don’t take the reports seriously.

None of the reports of tampered candy in the past have ever resulted in criminal charges. And they won’t this year either.

It’s all a sort of moral panic, a public profession of angst from our collective soul. “The world is going to hell,” someone will say on Twitter, linking to a report, and that tweet will be retweeted and liked and people will be concerned. But it happens every year, and there’s still no salvation. No one will thrown in jail. There won’t be any public floggings. We won’t have a target for our rage, no cleansing of our soul. We’ll just be stuck with the same bullshit we had the day before, and with the same shitty kids.

So, parents: don’t call the media when your little shit reports tampered candy.

And, reporters: don’t splash little shits’ reports of tampered candy all over the TV. It just encourages them.

6. Child abandonment

A police release to reporters this morning:

Between 4:00 and 5:00 on 29 October 2017, Halifax Regional Police received a complaint of an abandoned infant found in the 6000 block ‎of Quinpool Rd. 

The baby girl was brought to IWK where ‎she was examined and deemed healthy. Police and hospital staff were unable to identify the baby or her parents.  Department of Child Services attended the hospital, at which time, they took custody of the baby. 

The baby was described as being of African Canadian descent and approximately 4-5 weeks old. Investigation is still ongoing.


1. Masuma Khan

Masuma Khan. Photo: Meghan Tansey Whitton / Facebook

Writes Stephen Kimber:

University codes of conduct, which generically prohibit “unwelcome or persistent conduct that the student knows, or ought to know, would cause another person to feel demeaned, intimidated or harassed,” will inevitably smack up against the academy’s ultimately more fundamental role as protector of free speech and encourager of vigorous debate. The question is what were Khan’s defenders defending?

Click here to read “Masuma Khan and the question of free speech.”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall. Click here to subscribe.

2. Health care costs

“Given that health care also monopolized the recent Nova Scotia election, one might have expected more attention directed to the diminished federal health transfers that are contributing to the problems,” writes Richard Starr:

Some insist that money (or lack of it) isn’t the issue. That may be true, but we are having trouble finding family doctors and the ones we have are, on average, the lowest paid in the country. So there is at least a correlation between the issues everyone’s talking about (finding a family doc) and the one rarely mentioned (the tight-fisted approach of the Harper-Trudeau government to health transfers).

Thanks to the Nova Scotia Health Coalition, the subject of health transfers finally arose during question period a week ago Friday. The Coalition had put out a release pointing out that the health deal accepted by the McNeil government around Christmas time last year would cost Nova Scotia something like $1 billion over the next ten years.

The $1 billion figure was a little lower than the $1.2 billion I calculated in a piece last March using a slightly lower annual escalator. However, give or take a couple of hundred million, unless the national economy booms it is very likely that there will be a costly (to Nova Scotia) gap between what the provinces settled for and what we could justly demand.

3. Roger Taylor is wrong

“Perhaps next season, with a vessel in good working order, the Cat will begin reporting as a profitable business,” he writes.

No, that’s not possible. Even if the envisioned (much reduced) passenger count of 60,000 is reached, the ferry service will still need to be subsidized and so, by definition, won’t be profitable.

4. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

The majority of whale oil consumed in Europe in the late sixteenth century was from whales slain in Canada; specifically the Sea of Whales; today, the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This history is detailed in Farley Mowat’s book Sea of Slaughter.

Spanish Basque and French Basque whalers believed that the “better sort of whale,” the right whale, had the following characteristics: a slow whale, easy to overtake in a rowed dory; a vulnerable whale, easy to kill with harpoons and lances; a whale which floated when killed, hence a whale with large amounts of blubber.

To the Basques, there were four species of “right whales”: Bowhead, Grey, Right, and Sperm whales. The Sperm whale is a toothed whale and the other three are baleen whales. By 1740 the “right whales” where commercially exhausted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Basque practiced a form of coastal whaling where kilns called try-works were built on land to render blubber into oil. The try-works were fired by wood plus whale remains. If a whale was killed near a try-works then men in dories towed the whale to the try-works; otherwise small sailing ships flensed the whale at sea and sailed the blubber and baleen to the try-works.

When you view the past 500-year European history of habitat and species destruction in the Sea of Whales, the only things sustainable has been propaganda, war against nature and animal cruelty; a Garden of Eden desecrated and defiled.

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart




No public meetings.


City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.



No public meetings today.


Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, Province House) —just the per diem-grabbing Appointments to Agencies, Boards and Commissions.

On campus



Saxophone recital (Monday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Chris Mitchell will perform.

Bayes Factor Biases for Non-nested Models and Corrections (Monday, 3:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Ed Susko will speak.


Visualizing AIS Fishing Activity with Datashader and Cesium (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 127, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Johna Latouf will speak.

Half Empty or Half Full? The Outlook for the Canadian Water Sector (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1009, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — a panel discussion about water. From the event listing:

Is our drinking water safe from contamination? How vulnerable are our water filtration plants to natural disasters, cyber-attacks or break-ins? How is water security different for those in First Nations communities? This discussion will focus on new research about the resilience of the Canadian water sector. Panelists will discuss the state of this valuable resource from local and global perspectives.

On Suborbifolds (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Dorette Pronk will speak about a paper she co-authored with Laura Scull and Matteo Tommasini. The abstract:

Just as the notion of orbifold has developed over the 60 years, so has the notion of suborbifold. It was introduced by Thurston in the late 70s, along with the first revision of the definition of orbifold. This original definition was geometrically elegant, but fails to encompass some of their examples that have since been introduced by a more topological/homotopical view of orbifolds. This has led to various more recent definitions of suborbifolds, all based on presenting orbifolds as groupoids. However, none of these definitions fully captures the properties and phenomena their authors intend to include. Therefore, we propose an alternate approach, based on atlases and modules rather than groupoid homomorphisms. We believe that this new definition will better describe and encompass the examples and geometric structure in the literature.

In the harbour

7:15am: Crown Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,674 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John
10:30am: Goodwood, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany

Acadian. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Acadian. Photo: Halifax Examiner Credit: Halifax Examiner

4pm: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
4:30pm: Goodwood, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:45pm: Crown Princess, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Sydney
9pm: YM Enlightenment, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York


Maybe I’ll finish an article I’ve been writing over the weekend today.

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

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  1. I think it was called Garbage Can candy, and while it came out long after my own childhood (I’m from the era of 5 candies for a penny) I think the point of it was to be somewhat disgusting. It may not have been the best stuff to give out on Halloween, but I think it was supposed to like that.

    As to the pop can, when we used to trick-or-treat we often walloped each other with our full candy bags as we walked along, as kids are wont to do. Possibly this was the cause of the bad pop can, or surely your son would have seen the damaged can when it was put into the bag in the first place.

    I suppose if one wanted to be the modern Wicked Witch, one would hand out candies and chocolates with unacknowledged peanut content. But then, I assume parents with children who have nut allergies look at everything their child brings home.

  2. When my youngest, long since an adult and past trick or treating, was in elementary school he had two incidences of bad Halloween “treats”. One was a can of pop which had been pounded and dented enough that it slowly leaked and made all the other contents of the bag sticky. The other was a kind of chewing gum called “Garbage Patch” (guess this will approximately date the incident) which stuck to his teeth, causing him great distress and requiring adult intervention to help him get it off. Both of these were subtle and nasty tricks, and obviously not a case of my child lying.

    1. The pop can is mean, but hardly dangerous. As for the gum, was it tampered with or was that how it was made? I couldn’t find any references to that specific name on the net, so curious. If it wasn’t tampered with, it’s not necessarily an adult doing something deliberate, but rather buying a product that looked fine but wasn’t?

  3. Your vacation wasn’t long enough, Tim. Sarcasm, satire and snark are tenuous friends of news reporting. I prefer your original style – tough, investigative, facts-will-expose-and-indict.

  4. You have a great deal more faith in the police being proactive than I do. I suspect they’d say there is no way to tell from what house the tampered candy comes, hands are tied, can’t do anything, will issue a warning on the website, blah blah blah.

    The poisoned candy thing seems to be an urban legend. The pins and needles thing has some documented incidents, but hardly common. (Although, of course, Snopes can’t document everything that has happened in small towns where the local reports may not be easily accessible, particularly from years ago.)

    Apples with razor blades — who gives out apples? Even when I was a kid in the 60s, they weren’t given out.

    1. All year, parents tell children not to go to strange houses, not to speak to strangers, not to take candy from strangers, and not to go out after dark. And then on Halloween, children are told they may go out after dark to strange houses, and ask strangers for candy.

  5. “…the bottom line is public money is being spent for the benefit of a private business…”
    a. the road train would only operate when Murphy’s is open – it doesn’t;
    b. the road train staff would force all passengers into Murphy’s – they don’t;
    c. the road train staff would only allow Murphy’s patrons on board – they don’t.
    The fact is, this IS a public service for anyone’s use – cruise passengers, Haligonians, wrong-headed journalists and a lot of kids – all are welcome.
    And it really is free – donations are not required.
    Try it Tim, *then* write about it.

    1. Aren’t MOST private sector businesses open to everyone? Lots of these types of ventures are basically free advertising, hence the no payment required thing. Do they point out Murphy’s on the tour? Do they mention other establishments? Do they mention exclusively tours provided by Ambaasatours on the trip? Is there there print advertising on the train? This is clearly a private venture for private interests. Who are the donations going to? What charity is the beneficiary of the largesse of people who choose to pay for the service?

      I think there are legitimate questions to be asked about this. Including why they don’t just take the relatively inexpensive transit bus that follows close to the same route. That would at least help fund transit for everyone.

      What I DO NOT believe is that the owners of Murphys are doing this out of the kindness of their hearts.

      It is worth investigating, at a minimum.

    2. This arrangement is a ‘backdoor arrangement’ in the same manner as the funding for the Seaport Market.
      If it was truly an arms length arrangement the board would not have any member from WDC, HRM,Tatamagouche Train Society and Ambassatours.
      The arrangement is a sham, and you cannot do by the backdoor what is not allowed by the front door. A legal challenge should be mounted.

  6. Oh yeah, a friend who moved to Toronto a couple of years ago was back earlier this months, and when we were down by the ferry terminal together he saw the road train and said, “What the hell is that?” Then went on about how every city has stupidity, but somehow it’s more evident in a smaller place.

  7. So, the city has finally determined that people paid a (presumably) living wage can enforce the municipality’s parking laws and still save taxpayers money? Hmmmmm. Haven’t I read something about that before somewhere?