During a parliament debate on an amendment to Bill C18 yesterday, Hamilton Mountain MP Lisa Hepfner said this:

We see hundreds of news outlets have closed since 2008 in this country. And we’ll see the argument that, well, a couple hundred other online news organizations have popped up in that time. What we don’t see is that those — they’re not news. They’re not gathering news. They are publishing opinion only. So we have a proliferation of opinion organizations out there and publishing their opinions without people going out, actually reporting the news… Journalism organizations have codes of conduct that they follow. They have laws that they have to follow. They have to understand what they can do in a courtroom. They have to go before the CRTC if they don’t follow all the proper journalism standards. These are things that are taught in journalism schools and in newsrooms across the country. 

YouTube video

Oh boy.

Later in the day, Hepfner walked back her comments back, and apologized on Twitter:

Credit: Twitter

“As a journalist, I’ve always championed local journalism,” wrote Hepfner in a pair of threaded tweets. “In a time where disinformation is so rampant online, it’s important to identify trusted sources of news versus fake news. I apologize to digital news outlets whose reporters consistently produce important work, which takes considerable resources to create. #C18 will support digital journalists in their work.”

I haven’t gotten into the weeds of Bill C18. That’s because I’m extremely busy reporting on more immediate issues affecting Halifax and Nova Scotia. In general, I’m distrustful of government intervention in the news industry, and most of the interventions seem mostly designed to bail out the failing legacy media — big companies like Postmedia, which is owned by an American hedge fund and whose top five executives receive tens of millions of dollars in compensation.

But there’s distrust, and then there’s stupidity. In the face of humungous public subsidies going to the legacy dinosaurs that are the Halifax Examiner’s competitors, I’d be foolish to turn down the comparative pittance offered to this publication through the same programs — a tax credit of just $26,179 last year. (So far as I know, none of the giant legacy media publications publicly released the amount of the subsidy they receive, but here at the Examiner, we publish our tax returns, so the public not only can see how much public money we receive, but also how we spend that money.)

In any event, I appreciate that in the heat of debate even seasoned politicians can say dumb stuff, and I note that Hepfner gave an apology for the dumb stuff she said.

Still, Hepfner is herself a former reporter with two decades of experience, mostly at CHCH News in Hamilton, and she sits on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, the committee charged with working out the particulars of Bill C18, so the dumb stuff she said yesterday is especially disconcerting — if a former reporter now implementing federal media policy is so badly misinformed, what can we expect of the legislation?

So, let me set the record straight.

The Halifax Examiner is one of the couple of hundred online news organizations that has popped up since 2008 — we started eight and a half years ago, in 2014.

Sure, in those eight and a half years, the Examiner has offered up our share of opinion pieces, as have the legacy papers, but the mission of this publication is to, yep, gather news and go out to actually report the news.

For example, the Halifax Examiner spent seven years reporting on the wrongful conviction of Glen Assoun, the man wrongly imprisoned for 17 years due, in part, to police malfeasance. That reporting included going to courtrooms, digging through court records, interviewing hundreds of people, and not letting the story go. For that work, the Examiner was recognized as one of just six national finalists for the Governor General’s Michener Awards, which “honours outstanding and unbiased journalism that results in positive change for the public good.”

Another example: When a gunman murdered 22 people across Nova Scotia in April 2020, the Examiner reporting crew sprung into action. It was the most intense and collaborative experience in my three-decade career as a journalist. Some of our articles had as many as seven co-authors. We scoured the province to dig up information, and even then we had to go to court in order to get court records unsealed. The Examiner spent nearly $100,000 in legal costs, and were opposed at every step of the way by the federal crown attorney; so, in effect, every penny we received in government subsidy was spent taking that same government to court. Since then, we have been following and reporting on the public inquiry into the murders. Our reporting — now nearly 200 articles — has detailed missteps and coverup on the part of the RCMP, issues related to gender-based and intimate partner violence, societal distrust of police, and more.

Likewise, our COVID reporting has been comprehensive, detailing not just the Public Health response to the pandemic, but also the research conducted by the Dalhousie Medical School and other institutions.

On top of those achievements, we have beat reporters covering resource issues, Nova Scotia Power, Halifax City Hall, Province House, the rental crisis, and more. I’m proud of the breadth and depth of the original reporting conducted by this small team. Honestly, we deserve some damn respect, including from the former reporter now implementing federal media policy.

And we ask for readers support. While we take a bit of money from the government subsidy and spend it and more taking that same government to court, all our reporting is paid for exclusively by subscribers.

If you value the work we do, please consider subscribing. And if you can’t make the commitment for a continuing subscription, consider dropping us a one-time donation.

We appreciate your support more than we can say.


1. Power rates

Electrical equipment is seen behind a fence with a sign indicating DANGER.
Electric transmission equipment at Nova Scotia Power’s Tufts Cove Generating Station on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. Credit: Zane Woodford

“Power rates in Nova Scotia are now expected to rise 13.8% over the next two years, beginning January 1, 2023,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

That’s pending approval by the regulator, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, after a deal was hashed out among the power company and lawyers representing consumers, small business, environmentalists, low-income residents, and large manufacturers.

The nine-page settlement agreement was released by Nova Scotia Power after stock markets closed yesterday. 

Click here to read “Power rates in Nova Scotia are now expected to rise 13.8% over the next two years.”

And, reports Henderson, the costs to ratepayers could be even higher, depending on how storm costs are allocated.

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2. Land trusts

A purple sign with white text stands along the corner of two rural roads. Above are power and telephone lines. The sign says North Preston, Nova Scotia. Canada's largest Black Community. We've this far by faith.
A sign in North Preston welcoming visitors to the community. Credit: Wikipedia

“Community land trusts could provide more affordable housing in the province, according to a panelist who spoke at a Black community meeting in Cherry Brook,” reports Matthew Byard:

“From my reading, and from those I’ve talked to, governments at both the municipal and provincial level are pretty enthusiastic about community land trusts,” Kevin Hooper, the social development and partnerships manager with United Way Halifax, said during a meeting last week.  

“I don’t know that they’re entirely interested in community land trusts for all the community support benefits that come along with it. They’re really interested in it as a way to get affordable housing built. As long as you set yourself up to give government confidence, I think there very likely could be community investments in community land trusts to make these things happen.”  

Click here to read “Community land trusts could mean more affordable housing for Preston, advocates say.”

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A graph with a blue squiggly line.
Weekly recorded new deaths from COVID in Nova Scotia since January 2022. Credit: Tim Bousquet

Nova Scotia is reporting 10 new deaths from COVID, recorded during the most recent reporting period, Nov. 15-21.

The reporting of deaths lags. None of the newest recorded deaths occurred in the reporting period (the 10 people died before Nov. 15), but we can expect there were deaths during that period that will be recorded in the future.

Through the pandemic, 642 Nova Scotians have died from COVID, 530 of whom are considered Omicron deaths (since Dec. 8, 2021).

We won’t have the ages or vaccination status of the newly recorded deceased until Dec. 15, but overall, almost all (90%+) of the deaths from COVID are people over 70 years old (median age is 83) and unvaccinated people are about three times more likely to die than are the vaccinated.

Additionally, during the Nov. 15-21 reporting period, 31 people were hospitalized because of COVID.

Nova Scotia Health reports the COVID hospitalization status as of yesterday:
• in hospital for COVID: 29 (4 of whom are in ICU)
• in hospital for something else but have COVID: 131
• in hospital who contracted COVID after admission to hospital: 63

These figures do not include any (if any) children hospitalized with COVID at the IWK. I’ve asked for such reporting, and that will be coming, just not yet, apparently. But as of last week, no children have died in the fall season from any of the respiratory illnesses, including COVID.

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4. Childhood adversity

A woman pictured from the neck down stands on a wooded path holding her hands over her pregnant stomach.
Photo by Emre Can Acer on Pexels.com Credit: Leah Kelley/Pexels.com

“How does a history of childhood adversity impact a person’s pregnancy risk and their infant’s birth outcomes?” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) psychology and neuroscience professor Dr. Jennifer Khoury hopes to gain insight into these and related questions through a new research study examining the intergenerational effects of childhood adversity. 

“We know that parental experiences of abuse and neglect and adversity in childhood have lifelong implications for them and their child,” Khoury said in an interview. 

Existing research suggests that 33% of adults in Nova Scotia have experienced maltreatment as a child. This includes child abuse, neglect, and exposure to intimate partner violence. 

“It’s a problem with far-reaching public health implications. In fact, childhood maltreatment often has significant and lifelong effects on health, which span across generations,” noted an MSVU media release.

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5. Dalhousie goes to court in hopes of tearing down heritage property

An old house with green cedar shingles and ornate white trim is seen on a sunny day.
1245 Edward St. on Thursday, July 14, 2022. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Dalhousie University is seeking judicial review of regional council’s decision to add its property to the municipal heritage registry,” reports Zane Woodford:

Council voted in October to register 1245 Edward St., built in 1897. The university bought the property in 2021 and hoped to demolish it. But residents rallied to save it, and submitted an application to council’s Heritage Advisory Committee. The committee scored the property 64 out of 100 points, recommending registration to council.

At last month’s council meeting, as the Halifax Examiner reported, lawyer Peter Rogers argued on behalf of the university that the old house is a “failed,” “mongrel” structure unworthy of protection. He also alleged HRM’s process didn’t give Dalhousie enough time to make a case against registration.

Rogers is taking those arguments to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in an application for judicial review dated Nov. 21. The filing names HRM, the Halifax University Neighbourhood Association (HUNA), Peggy Walt, and William Breckenridge.

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6. Citizen scientists

aerial view of a wooded area with a mix of green conifers and leafless hardwoods divided by a broad dirt road with a light cover of snow
New logging road at Goldsmith Lake. Credit: Malachi Warr

“They call themselves ‘citizen scientists of the Southwest Nova Biosphere,’ and they’ve written to Premier Tim Houston asking him to ‘freeze harvests and road-building immediately in the forests surrounding Goldsmith Lake in Annapolis County,'” reports Joan Baxter:

This follows the group’s discovery on Oct. 22 of a new logging road near Goldsmith Lake, and information obtained by Annapolis County MLA Carman Kerr that the province has approved harvesting on 1,355 acres of Crown land in the area, part of the 555,000 acres that Nova Scotians bought from Bowater for $117.7 million in 2012.

Click here to read “‘Citizen scientists’ call on Houston to freeze all logging around Goldsmith Lake in Annapolis County.”

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Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am, City Hall and online) — agenda


No meetings

On campus


Matriarchal Wisdom: Advancing Indigenous Reproductive and Maternal-Child Health and Rights(Friday, 12pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building and online) — Jennifer Leason from the University of Calgary will talk

Progress and prospects for tephrochronology at the intersection of volcanology and paleoenvironmental studies (Friday, 2pm, Room 3653, LSC Oceanography wing) — Britta Jensen from the University of Alberta will talk

Science as a Vehicle for Satire and Parody (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain Building and online) — Stephen Snobelen will talk


Creative Counter-Memorializations: A Symposium/Gathering (Friday, 1pm, Archibald Room) — featuring a wide variety of artistic and scholarly responses to difficult and contested histories, ranging from art exhibitions, dance pieces and movement workshops, to academic panels on comparative genocides

Odyssey Live! A marathon reading of Homer’s Odyssey in 24 hours (Friday, 7pm, Alumni Hall and online) — marathon reading fundraiser in support of The Halifax Humanities Society, a non-profit in its 15th year of operation which offers free Humanities education to adults living on low incomes

In the harbour

05:00: NYK Demeter, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Caucedo, Dominican Republic (itinerary)
08:00: X-Press Machu Picchu, container ship, arrives at Bedford Basin anchorage from Genova, Italy
09:15: USCGC Morro Bay, U.S. Coast Guard cutter, arrives at Tall Ships Quay from sea
11:00: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 36 to Pier 42
13:00: Puka, cargo ship, sails from Pier 27 for sea
18:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
21:00: Oceanex Sanderling sails for St. John’s
04:30 (Saturday): CMA CGM Chile, container ship (149,314 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Tanger Med, Morocco

Cape Breton
08:00: Algoma Victory, bulker, sails from Nova Scotia Power (Point Tupper) for sea
23:00: Nordbay, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from New York


Insert your own pithy observation here.

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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. The Examiner is important. I am glad that the Examiner exists and I am happy to subscribe.
    Side bar:
    I don’t travel but I know people that do travel. Occasionally I ask one of them to bring me back a local newspaper on their travels. My all-time favourite is the Marshall Mountain Wave from Searcy County in Arkansas. It features several pages of “….Peggy Ann shot a 5-point buck last week….. we ate the best hot turkey sandwich at Eats Diner……Junior’s dad was some sick last week… ” and the like. It’s adorable. [and no, I don’t expect that from the Examiner]

  2. It’s comforting in a strange way to know that yet another MP has no clue what they are talking about.

  3. Hepfner is badly misinformed. Despite her follow up weak apology, like most news stories, once the damage is done, it cannot be repaired fully. Digital media is the ONLY hope for the future of responsive and responsible media. There are numerous examples with the Examiner being a leading proponent. Hepfner should be leading the charge on supporting the transition to virtual media not denigrating it. There are lots of examples too of clap trap in print. Thankfully those seem to be going away.