1. Candidates (mostly) oppose South Shore open-pen fish farms

Danielle Barkhouse, Progressive Conservative candidate for Chester-St. Margaret’s. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Candidates in the riding of Chester-St. Margaret’s appeared at a forum on fish farming held outside the Blandford Community Centre yesterday. The event was organized by two groups opposed to fish farms on the South Shore, the Twin Bays Coalition and the Healthy Bays Network, and took place at the same time as an open house hosted by Cooke Aquaculture.

Tim Bousquet attended the forum (he says in the hour he was there he saw nobody participating in the open house) and reports on the candidates’ views.

Green Party candidate Jessica Alexander argued the risks of open-pen fish farming aren’t worth it, particularly considering the relatively low value of the harvest:

The numbers — 264,750 metric tonnes of traditional seafood harvested in Nova Scotia in 2019. This traditional fishery has an economic value of $1.5 billion. Farmed salmon biomass in Nova Scotia, 7,361 [metric tonnes] in 2019, worth $70 million. So we’re risking a massive economic value, a massive and tenuous resource, and we’re putting it at risk for something that’s actually quite small, not only dangerous, but kind of not worth it is what this is my point.

All the candidates expressed concern about open-pen fish farming. Conservative Danielle Barkhouse was a vocal opponent of the ultimately unsuccessful CERMAQ plan to bring multiple pens to the region, and NDP candidate Amy Reitsma shared her frustration that this debate has been going on for 30 years.

Bousquet notes that Liberal candidate Jacob Kilawee opened with concern about the effects of fish farms on coastal communities, but then waffled. He writes:

“It’s very important that when we pursue these types of initiatives, that we stick to a process, we follow that process. And when we follow that process, we make sure that we’re engaging with all of the appropriate stakeholders along the way. That means our communities. That means our local subject matter experts, First Nations communities. We can’t necessarily determine, you know, that, you know, one way or another an approach every issue or these issues and not acknowledge the complexity thereof. So everyone as stakeholders deserves a say in the process. … So we all are stakeholders and we need to make sure that we stick to that process throughout.”

In a question and answer period, Killawee admitted that the Liberal Party platform does not address fish farms at all.

Bizarrely, the Cooke open house was a regulatory requirement for Cooke’s expansion of its Bayswater fish farm — but that expansion has already happened.

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2. Polluting pulp mill

Water, pile of rocks, CN railcar, and building in background.
The water side of the CFK plant in Hantsport. Photo contributed by Darren Porter

Jennifer Henderson reports that the CKF pulp plant in Hantsport (which makes paper plates and egg cartons) is being investigated by Environment and Climate Change Canada. They executed a search warrant on the property on July 14.

Henderson says the plant is being investigated for possible violations of the Migratory Birds Convention Act. She writes:

The Migratory Birds Convention Act is a Canadian law that contains regulations to protect migratory birds, their eggs, and their nests from destruction. The CKF Inc plant in Hantsport is located at the junction of the Avon River and Halfway River beside a tidal salt marsh that attracts thousands of seabirds every spring and fall.

The area was designated by Environment Canada in 1987 as part of a protected shorebird reserve of more than 26,000 hectares stretching from Grand Pré in the north, to Hantsport and Windsor along the Minas Basin to the south…

Environment Canada says the marshy area known as the Minas Basin Southern Bight supports up to 400,000 seabirds, including many varieties of sandpipers, plovers, and dowitchers. It is also a nesting ground for Great Blue Herons and cormorants.

The sea birds feed on sand shrimp and small invertebrates called Corophium volutator living in the mud of the salt marsh. If the mud or the water is polluted, the birds could get sick or die.

Early in July 2020, Hants County weir and gillnet fisherman Darren Porter was in his boat when he saw federal and provincial environment inspectors taking water and mud samples from the Halfway River next to the CKF plant. Porter was glad to see them because he says he was one of several people who called the Environmental Emergency phone line to report frequent sightings of oil or metallic-looking sheens on the river.

“I didn’t know where the oil or chemicals were coming from but I wondered if it might be from the plant which has been there a long time,” Porter told the Examiner this week.

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3. Paper Excellence’s charm offensive

"No Pulp Waste In Our Water" signs are re-appearing in Pictou Harbour since Paper Excellence announced its plans to refit and re-open the hibernating mill. Photo: Joan Baxter
“No Pulp Waste In Our Water” signs are re-appearing in Pictou Harbour since Paper Excellence announced its plans to refit and re-open the hibernating mill. Photo: Joan Baxter

“Paper Excellence is on a desperate charm offensive in Nova Scotia,” Joan Baxter writes, “trying to build ‘trust,’ get support to refit and re-open its Pictou County Northern Pulp mill, make people believe that the company has somehow transformed itself overnight, and convince us all to forget its many egregious environmental, social, and political transgressions and bullying tactics.”

As you may recall, Paper Excellence announced — purely coincidentally, on the eve of a provincial election — that it had a new plan for re-opening the Northern Pulp mill. Baxter writes:

As the Halifax Examiner reported, the plans include a $350-million refit of the pulp mill, including a new effluent treatment plant adjacent to the mill that would then release the effluent into Pictou Harbour, although the exact location has not yet been determined.

Baxter’s story includes her reporting on a special virtual meeting of Pictou Town Council, at which Graham Kissack, vice president environment, health & safety and communications at the Paper Excellence Group, and former Paper Excellence VP Dale Paterson, now head of the Environmental Liaison Committee that Northern Pulp put together presented the company’s vision for the plant, and discussed the consultations the company has undertaken:

At the Pictou Town Council meeting, Paterson said that since July 12, he and Kissack have met virtually with about 80 people from “forestry groups,” including the industry organization Forest Nova Scotia, the Cumberland Forestry Advisory Group,” as well as “major landowners.”[1] If the names of these forestry groups ring a bell, it could be because they were among the ringleaders in the recent forestry industry assault on and subsequent gutting of the Biodiversity Act before it had even made it to Law Amendments, as the Halifax Examiner reported here.

Paterson also told the Pictou Town Council they had met with “160 to 170” ex-employees and retirees from the pulp mill.

He admitted they had not met with Pictou Landing First Nation (PLFN), the community that suffered most directly and intensively because of the mill operations since the 1960s, which had turned the PLFN precious tidal estuary A’se’K (“the other room”) into a toxic lagoon filled with stinking pulp effluent.

Rather, Paterson said, they had met with an “off-Reserve Mi’kmaw group out of Truro, at their request through Environment Canada.”

In addition, Paterson told Council they had met with “two fishing groups.” But, he admitted, these were not fishing groups from the Northumberland Strait, who stridently opposed the mill’s earlier plans to pipe its treated effluent 14 kilometres overland and into the rich fishing grounds a few kilometres offshore from Caribou Harbour.

In the the story, Baxter includes several exchanges in which members of council try to get clear answers on plans and funding from Kissack and Paterson, to little avail. One of the exchanges produces this gem from Kissack though:

One of the issues we have is we’re not sort of a normal company.

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4. Election campaign: Day 5

Hand holding a ballot and putting it in a box marked Elections Nova Scotia
Photo: Elections Nova Scotia

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

Day 5 of the election campaign saw Liberal leader Iain Rankin in Antigonish flanked by Randy Delorey, the former Health Minister and candidate for Antigonish, and Lloyd Hines, the former Transportation Minister and candidate for Guysborough-Tracadie.

Both Delorey and Hines are expected to be in tight races to keep their seats — Hines won by fewer than 30 votes last time.

Rankin told voters in that area of Nova Scotia, which has experienced many tragic highway accidents, that a re-elected Liberal government would commit a total of $237 million to twin a portion of Highway 104 to Port Hawkesbury and a portion of Highway 103 outside Bridgewater. Those commitments are conditional on being able to persuade the federal government to put up at least the same amount of money to do the work.

Money from the National Corridors Transportation Fund was successfully leveraged by the province to enable the twinning of a dangerous stretch of Highway 101 outside Windsor.

However in Antigonish, the Progressive Conservative candidate was quick to pan the promise of new pavement.

“After eight years of broken Liberal promises, including a doctor for every Nova Scotian, and a worsening crisis in health care, the Rankin Liberals will say anything in hopes that voters will forget the Liberal record,” said Michelle Thompson, a registered nurse and the CEO of the R.K. MacDonald nursing home. “Voters are a lot smarter than Iain Rankin gives them credit for.”

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston was again focusing on health care yesterday. Houston reiterated a promise made a year ago to hire 2,000 healthcare workers for long-term care and create an additional 2,500 single rooms for people who require nursing home beds. There are currently 1,600 people on that waiting list.

The PCs said they intend to release the costs of all their promises. Last September, a “Dignity for Our Seniors” policy released by Houston estimated it would take at least three years and $465.8 million to create 2,500 additional spaces in long-term care. The PCs continue to hammer away at the Liberal record on delivering health care.

Meanwhile in Halifax, NDP leader Gary Burrill promised to reverse a change made by the McNeil government that provided corporations with a $70 million break on corporate income tax. Burrill noted it is small business that creates 75% of the private sector jobs in this province. Cutting the tax rate from 16% to 14% for the largest corporations in the province is the wrong choice, in his view. “The choice in this election is clear,” said Burrill. “A massive corporate tax giveaway and $209 million in cuts from the Liberals, or, the NDP who will stand up for the real people and the small businesses of Nova Scotia.”
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5. The Tideline, episode 38: Dana Beeler

Dana Beeler

In this week’s episode of The Tideline podcast, Tara Thorne and Dana Beeler, leader of the band Hello Delaware, talk about post-pandemic perspectives about music, all of the all-male music festivals on the docket this summer, and what Nova Scotia Music Week could look like in November.

Listen to the episode for free here. 

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6. Robyn Ingraham regrets saying she dropped out of the election race because of mental health concerns

Headshot of woman with shoulder-length brown hair and V-neck top showing part of a tattoo below her right shoulder.
Robyn Ingraham. Photo: The Gentle Barber Facebook profile

On July 16, Robyn Ingraham, one of the owners of The Gentle Barber in Dartmouth, announced she was the Liberal candidate for Dartmouth South. The next day — the first day of the election campaign — she said she was withdrawing from the race. On Instagram, she wrote she had concerns about “the time commitment and intensity of a campaign and the impact it will have on my mental health.” But she also alluded that there was more to the story: “In the future when I can better manage my anxiety, you may see my face with a red border once again. Maybe by then, folks won’t care as much about modelling photos, & face and hand tattoos.”

On July 19, after a couple of days of rumours that the Liberal Party had not only forced her out because of boudoir-style photos but had asked her to blame her mental health, Ingraham posted a story to her Gentle Barber Instagram. It said:

I have worked so hard to be transparent about my mental health.

Two days ago, I resorted to blaming my illness for something that it’s not responsible for.

Please stop messaging me and thanking me for being transparent. I let you and myself down by using this as a shield to protect something bigger than I am.


Then, yesterday, Ingraham shared a much lengthier — and more damning statement — on Instagram and on both her personal Facebook and on The Gentle Barber’s page.

She wrote about how she came to put her name forward in the first place:

Before applying, I didn’t have any interest in politics nor did I know much about them. I was reached out to by an old client who said I would be a great candidate for the area. At first I was overwhelmed with the thought, but after talking with my support systems and myself — I figured why not give it a shot. Maybe Dartmouth South would like the ideas I have for the community or listen the experience I have to share.
During the application process I was very open about my story, and my time in front of photographers lenses. I explained that I love to show off the artwork on my skin, and I have no problem taking boudoir photos alone and with my friends. I’ve used multiple platforms to express myself online, some including Instagram, Tumblr and OnlyFans. I gave an extensive list of my past and present social media accounts, provided statements from my CRA account and paid for a criminal background check…
I explained to multiple people over the course of my application that if/when my photos were to come out, there would be a teachable moment for the community and province. This screams gender inequality from all angles, why should I be ashamed of my body and what I decide to do with it?
Ingraham says about six hours after being acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate in the riding, she got a phone call asking “if I’d ever had sex for money.”
Ingraham complied with the request to drop out, blaming the decision on mental health concerns. In her statement she says:
I posted the statement of lies. I posted because I was worried how this would look on the team that worked so hard to get me on board. But after sitting with the fact that I let myself and those around me down by hiding behind my mental illness to save something bigger than I — I was furious. I sat for 3 hours and wrote an email to the Premier about how this effected me and how their decisions made them look.
She then appends an email to party leader Iain Rankin, in which she writes:
Our younger generation, my generation and much of yours have many years of social media under our belt. It was my understanding that you would and could be there for me, and for others who decide to apply in the future. I hope you know this will be a common issue for future nominees and candidates…
The older, whiter and straighter your government is, the less support you will receive from the people of K’jipuktuk, Punamu’kwati’jk and the rest of the province.
The misogynistic behaviour from those berating me online for showing off my body, something I have every right to be proud of is not tolerable.
I was told you had my back.
The misogynistic behaviour from those above you is not tolerable. t’s not my job to make old white men comfortable.
In June, then-Liberal cabinet minister Margaret Miller stepped down, citing a pattern of “repeated disrespect” and repeated “misogynistic behaviour” from one of then-premier Rankin’s advisers.

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7. Seven new cases of COVID-19 announced over last 2 days

A photo of a sculpture of the Coronavirus, made in what appears to be papier maché. It's beige with red crowns, and is hanging mid-air with copies hanging in the background, out of focus.
Photo: Quinten Braem/Unsplash

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free. Please help us continue this coverage by subscribing.

Yesterday, the province announced seven new cases of COVID-19. But that doesn’t represent a sudden jump. The cases covered two reporting days.

In his daily roundup, Tim Bousquet breaks down the cases;

Three are close contacts of previously reported cases and three are related to travel. Two of those cases are the cases aboard HMCS Halifax.

The seventh case is in the Western Zone and is related to travel.

There are now 11 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital with the disease, but it’s possible that people who suffered from COVID are still in hospital, but they are no longer considered active cases.

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The myth of an empty wilderness

Gully Lake Wilderness Area, Pictou County. Photo courtesy of Irwen Barrett

I grew up with a very romantic view of wilderness and parks. Pristine territory, untouched by humans, left wild, and so on. I fell for the romanticism of Thoreau (not realizing his mother did his laundry and brought him food, and that Walden Pond was hardly wild territory). I didn’t know the history of Parks Canada running people off the land, and I was completely ignorant about the roles of Indigenous people in shaping and stewarding the environment.

There is so much to both learn and unlearn.

So I was interested to read an article called “The Myth of a Wilderness Without Humans” by Mark Dowie at the MIT Press Reader. The article is an excerpt from his book Conservation Refugees.

Dowie starts by referring to the stunning and iconic photos of Anselm Adams — photos of the American Southwest that give the not-altogether-accurate impression of a vast wilderness without people. Dowie writes:

In fact, Adams assiduously avoided photographing any of the local Miwok who were rarely out of his sight as he worked Yosemite Valley. He filled thousands of human-free negatives with land he knew the Miwok had tended for at least four thousand years. And he knew that the Miwok had been forcibly evicted from Yosemite Valley, as other natives would later be from national parks yet to be created, all in the putative interest of protecting nature from human disturbance.

In the book excerpt, Dowie notes that cultural anthropologists and wildlife biologists often wind up at odds with each other, with biologists sometimes dismissing the roles of Indigenous communities in conservation.

“We do not ask if indigenous peoples are allies of conservation or what sort of nature they protect,” write Paige West and Dan Brockington, two anthropologists who have spent most of their careers researching the impact of protected areas on indigenous cultures; “instead we draw attention to the ways in which protected areas become instrumental in shaping battles over identity, residence and resource use.” Their experience has convinced them that the best way to protect a thriving natural ecosystem is to leave those communities pretty much alone, where and as they are, doing what they’ve done so well for so many generations — culturing a healthy landscape, or what development experts would call “living sustainably.”

There is much more to this, and it is well worth reading, especially as wilderness issues increasingly come to the fore in Nova Scotia.

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Drummer in his 70s enjoying playing
Jerry Granelli at 1313 Hollis. Photo: Kent Martin

As you may have heard, jazz legend Jerry Granelli died this week. As It Happens on CBC Radio ran a lovely interview with Granelli’s son, musician J. Anthony Granelli, in which he remembers his father:

The people who feel they’re good enough are not the people like my father. He never felt he was good enough.

I witnessed it my entire life. He never stopped. He always was practicing, when he had the time. He always was playing. It was just the language of our household. There was always music. There were always instruments.

That kind of desire to be that good at something is kind of awe-inspiring to witness. And on the other side of it … when I was a little kid, it wasn’t always great either, because he was doing something else, and he was on the road, or he was playing, or he was practising.

Maybe we don’t always get to say how hard it is being the family of a great artist…

And having had the great fortune to be able to play music with him for years and years and years, and make records with him, and tour with him extensively over years and years and years, I count myself as so blessed because I was able to enjoy that thing with him. Whereas I don’t know for my siblings if that’s so true. But we were able to share this thing, his passion. It was what he did. It was him. There was no separation.

On July 11, 2019, photographer Kent Martin (disclosure: my father-in-law) took a series of photos of Granelli and his band playing at 1313 Hollis. After Granelli died, Martin shared them online in a pdf. I think they make for a great portrait of an evening, capturing Granelli and his fellow musicians at ease in their element.

Man playing guitar and smiling, looking at an older drummer (we see the back of the drummer's head)
J. Anthony Granelli and his dad, Jerry Granelli. Photo: Kent Martin

I never had the pleasure of meeting Granelli, but I always admired his inventiveness and clear love and passion for music. He will be missed.

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Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm) — live streamed on YouTube


No meetings.

On campus

No events.

In the harbour

06:30: MSC Leigh, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
09:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
10:00: MOL Emissary, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Port Everglades, Florida
10:00: Wodnik, Polish Navy training ship, sails from Dockyard for sea
12:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves back t Pier 41

Cape Breton
05:00: Thunder Bay, bulker, moves through the causeway to Aulds Cove Quarry from Charlottetown


  • I had forgotten how much I love Todd Snider’s album The Excitement Plan. Bonus for baseball fans: includes a song about Dock Ellis pitching a no-hitter while high on LSD.
  • Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of my dad’s birth, which gave me some pause.
  • Tim Bousquet has noted in the past that we used to talk about “power failures” and the fact that we regularly use “power outage” now speaks to the success of power companies in reframing the issue. An “outage” is far more neutral than a “failure.” Today, I noticed a tweet from Nova Scotia Power that used “transmission interruption.” Perhaps even “outage” is too strong a word for them.
  • Writing the Morning File while the dogs are pant, bark, and run around the house unsettled by the thunder is some fun.

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Philip Moscovitch is a freelance writer, audio producer, fiction writer, and editor of Write Magazine.

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  1. I am so glad that I went to see and hear Charlie Brown’s Christmas about 5 years ago, and wish I could have taken grandchildren. I hear Mr Granelli had a love/hate relationship with that piece but it sure was a privilege to have it performed here for so many years!

  2. I dunno… from her comments it seems to me that Robyn Ingraham might have made a pretty good MLA. Certainly better than a number of the old white guys that have passed through that position.

    But she’s right…there is still a secret handshake. And no one inside the system seems to be surfacing that conversation to help the shift. So if all you want to do is make the world a better place, my suggestion is, find another way to do it and…. yes… save your mental health.

    But what a shame that a seemingly bright young lady like this isn’t welcomed into such a leadership position.

    The party system is really a structure from (and for) a bygone era.

  3. Truck hits power pole, pole falls to ground and wires snap. That would be an outage, not a failure.