On campus
In the harbour


1. Examineradio, episode #78


John Wesley Chisholm is a successful television producer and Juno Award-winning musician. Now he’s throwing his hat into the ring as the Progressive Conservative candidate for Halifax Chebucto in the next provincial election. Find out what Front Line Fever means and why he thinks it wouldn’t take many Tims to make a dozen.

Also, city council voted overwhelmingly to protect the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area from development. The only councilors who didn’t vote in favour of the preservation either did so out of spite or for free dim sum.

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2. Habitat For Humanity

Photo: Kristine Benjamin‎ / Facebook
Photo: Kristine Benjamin‎ / Facebook

Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes, is “partnering” with Steele Auto Group, which just bulldozed a neighbourhood.

3. Big vertical fish

How many times have we been through this? If you see an amazing full-court, last-second basketball shot, or kid doing something cute, or cop beating someone’s brains out, or any of the other gazillion things photographed or video recorded that now go “viral” in our digital age, Hold the Damn Camera Horizontally!

A horizontal photo or video fits on a webpage or a TV screen; a vertical one doesn’t, and so editors have to place annoying black bars next to the pic to fill in the space allotted for it. Also, editors will limit the height of a vertical photo placed on a webpage, so there will be less resolution. There are a handful of exceptions (Big Ben and the Leaning Tower of Pisa come to mind), but generally speaking it is all around a better aesthetic experience to view a photo horizontally.

And to the annoying two people who will inevitably respond with “Snap Chat!”: Shut up, you. Photos and videos don’t go viral on Snap Chat. They go viral on Facebook first of all, then on Twitter, then on webpages, and all of those platforms require horizontal placement for the most pleasing viewing experience.

All of which to say that when Alex Fraser — who is no doubt otherwise a kind, generous and decent person — saw a big fish swimming around the Bedford Basin, she took out her phone and videoed it with the phone in the vertical position.

So on moral and aesthetic grounds, I refuse to repost her video. As CTV reports:

But after some consideration, even Fraser is questioning whether it was actually a shark.

And she’s not alone.

“It is definitely, I can say 100 per cent, an ocean sunfish,” said shark expert Warren Joyce of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

Joyce says he isn’t surprised by the mix-up.

“Their dorsal fins do look fairly similar when they’re in the water, but from the video, you can see the animal below the water has an elliptical shape,” said Joyce. “You can see a large dorsal fin that flops over occasionally, as opposed to cruising through the water.”

If you really must see the video, you can find it here.


1. War


When I was a kid, the other neighbourhood boys and I would play war. We’d meet up at a vacant lot, a leftover development parcel that abandoned construction waste and gravel had extended out into a tidal marsh to form two pieces of dry land we dubbed “islands,” and we split into two groups — Cowboys and Indians.

What can I say? We were the children of military men, growing up on a mid-20th century TV diet of nonstop repeat westerns, and in the middle of an actual war that saw some of the boys’ older brothers and fathers returning home in body bags. Our culture was preparing us for war; of course we played at war, and we grabbed the metaphor that was at hand: Cowboys and Indians.

I don’t remember if we ever invented reasons for our wars — I don’t recall any broken peace treaties, corporate grabs for natural resources, or settlers trying to clear the land. I also don’t recall that there was any particular shame in being on the “Indian” side versus being on the “Cowboy” side. Reasons were for others to figure out, I suppose: we were just there for the war. And so we lobbed dirt clod bombs at each other, pretended our toy guns were real, and argued over who was dead and who was merely injured.

Was there any harm in kids playing at war? I’m not sure. I grew up to become a borderline pacifist; but that had more to do with my natural contrarian nature than my upbringing — the rest of my world was literally preparing for Armageddon, and so I took the opposite tack. In contrast, most of my former playmates went on to reflexively embrace the military and, by extension, war. I can’t say what role tossing dirt clod bombs at each other as six-year-olds played into any of that.

But fast forward to 2016, and I can’t help but think that my birth nation and my adopted nation and a few other boys from the North Atlantic neighbourhood are now playing a high-tech, big-money game of Cowboys and Indians.

This war game has a name: Cutlass Fury. A “cutlass” is the short sword sailors used to carry onboard with them; “fury” is being illogically and violently irate.

The purpose of this war game, explains a Navy press release, is an anti-submarine warfare drill:

Canadian Navy ships Fredericton, Athabaskan, Summerside, Montreal, Goose Bay and Windsor will participate in the exercise with ships from the U.S. Navy, Royal Navy and Spanish and German Navy.

Cutlass Furry (sic, and isn’t that a delicious typo?), running from September 9 to 26 will involve Task Group-level exercises with a particular focus on joint maritime tactical warfare in a multi-threat environment. The exercise will focus on anti-submarine warfare, air defense, amphibious operations and joint operations.

A total of 11 ships, three submarines and 26 aircraft with some 3000 personnel overall will be involved in this exercise led by Maritime Forces Atlantic.

Today, starting at around 1pm, most or all of those 11 ships will parade from the Bedford Basin, through the narrows, and out to sea. I’m sure lots of people will flock to the shore to watch the ships leave. I certainly will; it will be an impressive display of military might, a water version of a Soviet May Day parade — I wouldn’t dream of missing it.

As with my childhood games of Cowboys and Indians, I don’t know if Cutlass Fury leads to increased chances of actual war or not. Canada seems to be wrestling with the role of its military and how its (perhaps mythologized) history of peacekeeping plays out after Stephen Harper’s bald warmongering, but I don’t hear any such nuance from our allies, and especially not from south of the border. On the other hand, hawks will point at the supposed deterrence value of a well-oiled military and, arguably, we’ve got the stuff so we may as well know how to use it.

Still, I look at the billions upon billions of dollars spent on the war machinery — today’s orchestrated parade alone must cost tens of millions of dollars — and see a huge waste of money, resources, and most important, focus.

The existential challenge of our times is climate change, and in direct military terms our biggest immediate security threat is people who can wreak immense destruction wielding nothing more than box cutters. Nuclear submarines and anti-submarine missiles are not an effective weapon against either.

And a nation that is on a permanent military footing and is willing to direct billions of dollars to maintain a war machine is making choices. Funding a military parade means not funding clean water for native reserves. Buying a second-hand submarine is using money that could otherwise be used to build a wind farm. A year’s military budget could fund low-cost university education for all.

Beyond that, a hyped-up military is madness. It pivots our collective psyche away from smart and thoughtful reflection and reduces it to simplistic formulas of black-and-white — Cowboys and Indians, if you will — that rarely lead to peaceful coexistence. On an individual level, it leads to broken families, to suicide, to despair.

See you on the waterfront.

YouTube video

2. Film industry

Paul Andrew Kimball points us to the program for this year’s Atlantic Film Festival, and specifically to the welcome messages from Premier Stephen McNeil and Minister of Culture Tony Ince. Writes McNeil:

It is my government’s privilege to work with all Nova Scotians, including work this past year with Screen Nova Scotia and other stakeholders during a time of significant change in our province and within our film industry.

Change brings both opportunities and challenges. It is something we face together. The government recognizes and supports the fundamental importance of culture in Nova Scotia — and the significant role the film industry plays.

And from Ince:

Not only does the festival provide a platform for east coast productions to reach a wider audience, it acknowledges the significant role that the Atlantic region plays in Canada’s film industry.

Nova Scotia’s arts and culture sector enriches our lives and contributes significantly to Nova Scotia’s economy. It employs about 14,000 people and contributes $949 million to the economy.

No doubt festival managers are obligated to print the politicians’ nonsense in return for provincial financial backing, which last year amounted to $182,000.

“But,” writes Kimball, “when I see people like McNeil and Ince try to rewrite history, I can’t let that go unchallenged.”:

Here’s what the Liberals really did:

1. Without consultation or warning, they destroyed a sustainable, productive and transparent system that had worked well for over two decades.

2. They eventually replaced that successful system, which worked equally for all Nova Scotia filmmakers, big and small, with a system that favours production from away, at the expense of our own writers, directors, producers and actors. Anyone who thinks the new system has maintained a level playing field is dreaming and/or delusional.

That’s what really happened, and I have no problem saying it again and again every time a Liberal tries to claim otherwise. As we rightly and proudly celebrate Nova Scotia films and filmmakers next week, never once must we allow ourselves to think that the Liberals truly support or believe in our local industry.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

 In case you haven’t noticed, we do have a professional Canadian Football League in this country. Yet, not one article re: this sports activity has appeared in the Guardian this season. Further, even reporting scores has been haphazard. For example, following a Labour Day weekend of play, no scores were published in Tuesday’s (Sept. 6) paper. Please correct this oversight.

J. Darrach Murray, Sea View



Executive Standing Committee (10am, City Hall) — agenda.

Grants Committee (1pm, City Hall) — agenda.

North West Community Council (7pm, Acadia Hall, Sackville) — agenda.

On campus


Senate Meeting (3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — To view the agenda, visit the Senate Website Meetings and Minutes page.

In the harbour

The sea off Halifax, 9:30am Monday. Map:
The sea off Halifax, 9:30am Monday. Map:

4:30am: Tortugas, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southhampton, England
6am: Palena, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
6:30am: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, arrives at Pier 25/26 from Montreal
7:30am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from New York with up to 2,873 passengers
8am: Rotterdam, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Bar Harbor with up to 1,685 passengers
8:10am: Languedoc, French naval ship, moves from NC5 to Bedford Basin anchorage
8:40am: Monmouth, British naval ship, moves from NC5 to Bedford Basin anchorage
9:10am: USS Gonzalez, US naval guided missile destroyer, moves from NC3 to Bedford Basin anchorage
9:40am: USS Bulkeley, US naval guided missile destroyer, moves from NB3 to anchorage

Robert E. Peary. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Robert E. Peary. Photo: Halifax Examiner

10:10am: USNS Robert E Peary, US naval ship, sails from Dockyard
11:45: Patino, Spanish naval ship, sails from NC2/3
12:30pm: the Languedoc, Monmouth, Bulkeley, and Gonzalez sail from Bedford Basin, joining the other military ships in a parade out of the harbour
1pm: Arctic Sunrise, Arctic research vessel, moves from Cable Wharf to Pier 33
3:30pm: Perle, French submarine, sails for sea
5:45pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
5:45pm: Rotterdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Sydney
9pm: Palena, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Cagliari, Italy

10am: Pick Up, Yacht, sails from the boardwalk for sea
11am: Tortugas, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
11am: Ningbo Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy


Where’d the weekend go?

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

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    1. But…more and more people are getting their photos and web connections on portable devices, which are most naturally used in the portrait orientation. There is a reason that magazines and books are almost always printed in portrait because that is the most natural way for humans hold things. I know there is an internet tradition to shame those who take photos and video in the “wrong” direction, but I certainly prefer portrait orientation on my iPad and iPhone. I hold them vertically to read email and blogs and Halifax Examiner (and I bet you and Tim do also) so I resent having to turn my device to see a photo. Let’s have them portrait, please.

      1. I don’t! I can’t read the damn things when I hold them vertically. I get a bit of a bump-up visually horizontally.

  1. “Here’s what the Liberals really did:..”

    Paul is dead right, but it goes beyond this IMHO.

    The dishonesty and recklessness McNeil and his minions showed in reducing the state of an entire legal, flourishing industry to what it was the last time the Liberal Party was in office and driving its creative and entrepreneurial young people out of the province was an outstanding example of the sort of government mismanagement we’ve seen all too frequently here.

    After winning office had they suddenly had reason to believe the screen industries were actually parasites, they could have stated their concerns publicly. That would have been the honest thing to do. It would have triggered rebuttals from key players. At that point a responsible Premier might have created a working group to compare accounting from the industry and Department of Finance in hope of finding where the truth lay, and jointly developing a stepwise plan to implement changes to the Film Industry Tax Credit acceptable to both sides over a period. The industry might not have collapsed and a government desperate to cut costs might have done so. Instead they chose to ambush screen industries they had promised to protect only 2 years before.

    Having stealthily chosen their target, they could have conducted an economic impact study to examine the likely consequences of their new incentives, but no. Had they bothered to look, they would have noted that such a study commissioned by Film NS in 2008 clearly showed the screen industries returned more than they cost, but no. PwC did something like this later and concluded the financial foundations upon which the McNeil government had based their actions were faulty.

    If that was too much to ask, they might at least have done a Google search to see how their industry was decimated when Saskatchewan had done something similar in 2012 to what they intended and how their Chamber of Commerce considered this a big mistake, but no.

    Well now the damage is done. Key creative, technical and production people have moved away and are busy establishing themselves in other provinces, who will benefit from the expertise they learned here, sponsored over 2 decades by the NS taxpayer. The last thing they will be doing is sitting by the phones waiting for the call to come home to NS. For them ‘home’ is now BC and Ontario. Film production in the rest of Canada is booming.

    So we are left with a mini film/TV industry dependent on government grants controlled by Liberal patronage appointees. That, and a delusional Premier who insists that in spite of this he kept his promise to keep the Film Industry Tax credit that film industry ‘negativism’ is the whole cause for this mess. In rape trials that’s sometimes called ‘blaming the victim’.

    Ironic that the incentive the Liberals killed was introduced 2 decades ago by a Liberal government and successive Tory and NDP governments found it worked for NS. One has to ask if the Liberals can mismanage this small brief so badly, how can they be trusted with the really complex big ticket items like health care and education?

  2. It’s nice to see the Charlottetown Guardian has completely broadened the selection of cranky letters. Growing up in Moncton, I found the Times & Transcript’s letters page to be similarly entertaining when I was a snarky teenager. Just in case you need more sources.

  3. It is, for sure, a sunfish. The heaviest bony fish in the world. And sunfish LOVE jellyfish so the harbour is an awesome place to spend a sunny autumn afternoon.

  4. Re Views: 1. War.

    Thanks for this reflective, thought-provoking piece. Really appreciate your occasional essays – my term for them. Many [most?] of your readers, I’ll assume – least I do – have access to news and stark, factual information, but the competing principles and personal viewpoints you occasionally add engage, challenge and enrich. I often wonder whether scarcity of feedback or comments don’t reflect how well, how fairly you’ve made your points, even among those who may disagree.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Unexamined reporting of the “facts” often serves the interests of the powers that be. Both you and Jesse Brown have pointed out how and why news organizations rely on advertorial cleverly presented as news. Critical thinking skills, are they still taught in schools? Thoughful analysis in news reporting is vital.

  5. Re: Antisubmarine warfare: It’s not just the Russians and Chinese who have submarines. Iran and North Korea have them too. While I generally think we should just leave those countries alone and let them be sovereign powers the way they clearly want to be, something that definitely should be war-gamed is a response to Kim-Jong-Something or the Ayatollah doing something crazy.

  6. The McNeill/Ince bullshit and the Steele Group Habitat bullshit are all of a piece.

    Public relations trumping truth. Unbelievable on both counts. Lies sold as truth.

    McNeill cares about the film community and Steele loves to help build strong communities.

    Shame on our politics, shame on our business leaders and shame on us for accepting such unmitigated bullshit.

    Thanks to Mr Kimball and the Examiner for calling out such noxious effluence.