1. April 18

The Portapique sign on Highway 2 was adorned with a NS tartan sash following the mass shooting that began there on April 18, 2020. Photo: Joan Baxter

This item includes accounts of domestic violence.

Newly released court documents detail Lisa Banfield’s account of the beginning of the violence that ultimately led to the murder of 22 people last April 18 and 19.

Banfield was the commonlaw spouse of the murderer, who the Halifax Examiner identifies as GW. Her account was given to an RCMP officer and was recorded in several “Information to Obtain” (ITOs) submitted by the RCMP to the court in order to obtain various search warrants.

In her account, Banfield says that although they had never married, she and GW were celebrating their 19th anniversary as a couple that Saturday night, April 18. They had drinks in GW’s warehouse in Portapique, and while there FaceTimed friends — a couple who lived in Houlton, Maine.

During the conversation, Banfield and GW told the couple in Maine that for their 20th anniversary the following year, they were going to have a “commitment ceremony.”

The woman in Maine replied to that news by saying “don’t do it.” That upset Banfield, and she said “I’m leaving” and left the warehouse to head to their nearby cottage. The conversation, and Banfield’s anger, in turn upset GW.

Banfield said she got halfway to their cottage but started feeling bad and came back to apologize for her angry response. But “at that point [GW] was already mad.” Banfield again said she was going home to the cottage.

“Lisa Banfield went to bed and [GW] came in and ripped the blankets off her and started beating her up,” read the documents. He told her to get dressed and said “it’s done.”

GW then “poured gasoline all inside the cottage and told Lisa Banfield to grab the gun out of the cottage. They started to walk back to the warehouse so [he] could burn that.”

GW told Lisa to walk in front of him “and she promised to walk behind him but [he] wouldn’t allow that and ripped her shoes off her feet.”

“Lisa Banfield got loose and started running but tripped and fell.” GW “picked her up by the hair and started pulling her towards the warehouse.” GW “tried to handcuff her but only got one handcuff on and then he started shooting at the ground around her.”

“Lisa Banfield begged [GW] not to kill her.”

“He shot the firearm again and then put her in the back of the police car and then he went upstairs to the warehouse.”

Banfield “tried to kick out the windows and then was able to pry open the glass (silent patrolman) [the division that separates the front and back seats of a police car] and crawled through and escaped and ran into the woods.”

We’ve already known what happened after that, as GW’s rampage left 13 people dead in Portapique that night and then another nine killed across the province the next day.

During her interview, Banfield told police that GW “had been abusive to her in the past but she never reported any of the abuse.”

Besides a fuller account of Banfield’s interview, a bit more new information was released last night relating to an interview with a carpenter who lived in Portapique. The carpenter told police that GW had “two crates of grenades” that he got from the US. Further, the carpenter had said that he had overheard Banfield and GW arguing in the past about how GW had previously “put a gun a gun to her head.”

Much of Banfield’s account is still redacted in the documents. Neither she nor the federal or provincial crown attorneys objected to the release of the information above.

The information was released as a result of ongoing court action taken by a media consortium that includes the Halifax Examiner (I explained the process here). Other consortium members are the CBC, CTV, Global News, the Globe and Mail, and Saltwire. The Halifax Examiner is by far the smallest media organization in the consortium, with the smallest budget; if you support our efforts to continue to get information released, please consider subscribing or dropping us a donation.

189, 191 and 193 Portland St. are seen in a Google Streetview image from July 2019. — Google Maps Credit: Google Maps

In related news, Zane Woodford reports that:

The Nova Scotia mass shooter’s properties on Portland Street went up for sale Thursday for $1.2 million.

The shooter, who the Halifax Examiner calls GW, owned the properties at 189, 191, and 193 Portland St., with his home and denture clinic in the building at 193 Portland St. and his parking lot covering the other two properties.

With GW’s estate subject to a class-action lawsuit launched by the victims of April’s mass shootings, the Public Trustee of Nova Scotia took possession of the properties in June.

The ViewPoint Realty listing for the properties, posted Thursday with a price of $1,225,000, says, “The listing agent represents the Public Trustee of Nova Scotia and as such will not be showing the property to potential buyers.

“Any questions relating to the property and any requests for showings must be directed through a buyer’s agent.”

The listing describes the properties as a “Prime development opportunity in Downtown Dartmouth,” noting the Centre Plan upzoned the properties, “allowing for many possible development opportunities.”

The properties are subject to the maximum height limit in HRM — 90 metres or about 27 storeys.

Click here to read “Nova Scotia mass shooter’s Dartmouth properties for sale.”

Twenty-seven storeys is a giant building, especially when you consider (as Woodford reports) that one person has already acquired the surrounding property, and so a new development could span the block. It’s an appropriate spot for some dense housing (walking distance to downtown and the ferry), but the devil will be in the details, of course. Anything will be better than those damn teeth, I suppose.

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2. COVID-19

Photo by Georg Eiermann on Unsplash

Two new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Nova Scotia yesterday (Thursday, Feb. 11).

Both cases are in Dartmouth and are connected to previously announced cases.

There are now 11 known active cases in the province. One person remains in hospital with the disease, and that person is in ICU.

The active cases are distributed as follows:

• 5 in the Halifax Peninsula / Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 4 in the Dartmouth/ Southeastern Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 1 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 1 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone

Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 1,488 tests Wednesday.

As of end of day Wednesday, 21,032 doses of vaccine have been administered, and of those 6,272 have been second doses.

Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average (now at 0.9) since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

And here is the active caseload for the second wave:

Nova Scotia and PEI continue to have very low numbers of cases of COVID-19, but other provinces in Atlantic Canada aren’t doing so well. Yesterday, Newfoundland and Labrador announced 100 new cases of the disease, mostly in the St. John’s area which were, according to Dr. Robert Strang, connected to a high school volleyball tournament held in that city. New Brunswick, however, seems to be trailing off its recent outbreak, announcing just two new cases of the disease yesterday.

Also yesterday, Cineplex announced it is reopening theatres in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, reports

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3. Police IT employees lied to the Police Commission

Halifax auditor general Evangeline Colman-Sadd speaks to reporters at Halifax City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

“In a report tabled Thursday, the city’s auditor general says information technology (IT) security at Halifax Regional Police is lacking, and the department’s management lied to the Board of Police Commissioners about their progress in fixing it,” reports Zane Woodford:

On Thursday, [Auditor General Evangeline] Colman-Sadd presented her office’s audit to the Audit and Finance Standing Committee.

“HRP is not effectively managing risks to its information technology systems and assets to adequately protect against internal and external threats,” the report says.

In all, little has changed since the 2016 and 2017 reports: “The majority of the consultant’s recommendations were still outstanding when we completed fieldwork in October 2020,” the new report says.

Worse, the police lied to the board of police commissioners about it.

Here’s a section of the report, titled “Board of Police Commissioners given incorrect information on IT recommendations by HRP management,” in full:

HRP management did not adequately brief the Board of Police Commissioners in 2017, following a consultant report on IT security.

We initially planned an audit of HRP IT security in Spring 2018 but decided to delay after HRP gave us a consultant report assessing IT security risks.

In July 2019, HRP management provided a detailed progress update on the semi-covert system recommendations to the Board of Police Commissioners. Management told the Board 13 of 67 recommendations in the semi-covert report were complete. We found:

  • Six recommendations assessed as complete by HRP IT, were instead, outstanding.
  • Another recommendation related to the Province of Nova Scotia; it should have been identified as not applicable to HRP IT.
  • An eighth recommendation was outstanding because management decided not to move forward with it. However, it was presented to the Board as complete, rather than do not intend to implement.
  • Five recommendations were complete at the time of the update in July 2019.

The Board was not briefed on the consultant’s covert system recommendations. Up to October 2020, when we completed audit fieldwork, the Board had not been provided any information on those recommendations.

The Board has administrative oversight of HRP’s activities, as defined by the Police Act. It is HRP management’s responsibility to provide the Board with sufficient information to allow Board members to discharge their duties. Care must be taken to ensure information is complete and accurate.

Click here to read “Auditor general says IT security is weak at Halifax police — and they lied to their civilian oversight board.”

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1. 1960s

Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald shares some of the very first photos he took as a photographer for the Gazette, the student newspaper at Dalhousie University.

It’s a fantastic collection of (mostly) beautiful young people being beautiful young people.

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Sometimes running the business side of the Examiner takes precedence over being a reporter, and the last couple of days have been one of those times. In order to take advantage of a potential opportunity, I had to drop everything else and put all my efforts into a special project, of which I can’t say anything more at present.

The good news is that the project was completed by last night’s midnight deadline.

This would not have happened without the very capable work of Iris, the Examiner’s administrative person, who with Herculean effort put together a whack of financial documents.

Iris makes this whole operation run smoothly. She minds the website and moderates the comments, deals with subscriber and reader problems, pays the day-to-day bills, prepares payroll and taxes, mails out the swag, and puts up with me, among other chores. And, as I’ve recently seen, can rise to an unexpected challenge on a moment’s notice.

Thank you so much, Iris.

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Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am) — contingency date; time subject to change, location to be determined


No meetings.

On campus



Between the Garrison and the Plantation: Medicine on the Move, 1763-1815 (Friday, 3:30) — Claire Gherini from Fordham University will present this Stokes Seminar via MS Teams; email for invitation link and paper

Saint Mary’s


Mapping the Census (Friday, 10am) — Zoom session on how use data mapping tools to look for spatial patterns in your census data

Decolonizing Education with Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (Friday, 12pm) — online event with Tammy Williams, Adult Learning Program coordinator at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre

We Are Still Here. Remembering. Reaffirming. Resilience (Friday, 7pm) — keynote address and moderated discussion with Angela Davis to commemorate African Heritage Month at Saint Mary’s. Zoom registration here

In the harbour

017:15: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Fairview Cove
07:30: MOL Mission, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
12:00: MSC Eleni, container ship, arrives at Pier 32 from Sines, Portugal
12:00: Torm Helvig, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
16:00: Tampa Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
16:30: Nolhanava sails for Saint-Pierre
18:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
22:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond (National Gypsum) from Philadelphia


I’m gonna take a nap.

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

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  1. Iris deserves a raise. 🙂 Seriously, though, Iris is great. She’s always been quick to respond when I emailed her a question.

  2. Iris rocks.

    Halifax Examiner’s customer service is great because of her. I hope you thank her every day.