1. Sears stiffs its employees while vulture capitalists profit

Writes Stephen Kimber:

“Just six dollars,” the woman behind the counter said cheerfully. “Gotta love health benefits.” “Actually,” replied the man, “I’m losing mine.”


The man is 64; he’s worked for Sears for more than 30 years. And he isn’t just losing his job and the family medical and dental benefits that go with it. The company has announced it won’t even be providing a severance package to him or the others it will soon jettison, nor will it continue to pay those currently receiving promised monthly severance payments as a result of earlier layoffs. And on Thursday, the company will go to court to try to also suspend monthly payments it had been making to its under-funded defined benefit pension plan and stop providing health benefits for 6,000 retirees.

Click here to read “Sears stiffs its employees while vulture capitalists profit.”

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2. Examineradio, episode #119

Denise Balkissoon

Halifax rarely makes the national news unless it’s for something reprehensible, whether that’s cross-burnings, racial profiling, or entrenched systemic racism. Now, the city has a local chapter of the pro-European, anti-masturbation Proud Boys to call their very own.

Globe & Mail writer and editor, as well as host of the popular podcast Colour Code, Denise Balkissoon joins us to discuss trying to discover Nova Scotia’s Black history as a tourist. Turns out it’s easier said than done.

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

3. Clayton Miller

Clayton Miller. Photo: Justice for Clayton Miller Facebook page

The Miller family has kept the 1990 death of their 17-year-old son Clayton in the public memory all these years, with his father Gervase Miller often seen walking around New Waterford with a sign reading “Police Murdered Clayton.”

Recently, the family has retained the services of Wagner’s, a law firm with a reputation for splashy news conferences. (I don’t say that with derision; I’m just noting that the firm runs contrary to the reserve that characterizes most Nova Scotian law firms — that’s a good thing.) And today, the firm is holding a news conference to announce “new developments” in Clayton’s case:

Clayton Miller, a 17 year-old-boy from New Waterford, Cape Breton, was last seen by his parents, Maureen and Gervase, the evening of Friday May 4, 1990. That night approximately 60 New Waterford teens, including Clayton, gathered at a party outdoors in New Waterford at “The Nest.” Sometime before 10:00 p.m., six members of the New Waterford Police (NWP) — at the time, a force with a reputation for being particularly rough — raided the party, arresting ten youths in total.

When Clayton still had not returned home by 1:00 a.m., the Millers started to worry. On Saturday May 5, 1990, Gerald Coady and Baxter Thorne walked along the stream by The Nest, in search of a case of beer they’d dumped the night before. They found nothing. Sheila MacLean also walked along the stream through The Nest that day. She found nothing. Nor did any other individual who passed through the Nest that day.

On May 6, 1990, Clayton’s body was found face down, in a shallow stream by The Nest. He was wearing a bright red sweater. The NWP did not preserve the scene, and took no photographs.

Three pathologists have reached three different conclusions as to the cause of death: one concluded Clayton died of pulmonary emphysema and drowning; a second cited hypothermia; and a third determined Clayton died from compression of the neck (i.e. a choke hold).

“There are so many unanswered questions. It is astounding and disheartening that notwithstanding the amount of inconsistent, conflicting, and at times illogical evidence and conclusions drawn in many aspects of this case, justice has still not been served,” stated the Miller’s lawyer, Ray Wagner, Q.C. “We are getting to the bottom of this at our expense, and will expose the truth of what happened to Clayton. This Press Conference is only the beginning.”

The case has long intrigued me, but New Waterford has been too distant to adequately investigate with my limited time and budget. Still, it’s easy to get pulled into the details of Clayton’s death; a good place to start is the Justice For Clayton Miller Facebook page.

Besides the circumstances of Clayton’s death, reports that he had been seen alive in police custody, and the odd discovery of his body, the case is a window into the culture of New Waterford, a town that for good reason feels itself wronged on many fronts.

I’ll drop by the press conference today to see what they have to say.

4. Tires

The Lafarge plant in Brookfield. Photo: Media Co-op

The province’s deal with Lafarge to burn tires at the Brookfield cement plant is raising eyebrows, reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

Until this spring, all the tires in the province were being sent to Halifax C & D Recycling for shredding and use as aggregate in construction projects. Now, 30 per cent of the approximately one million tires a year will go to Lafarge.

When you buy tires in Nova Scotia, there is a $4.50 environmental handling fee added to the cost of each tire (it’s $13.50 for a tire between 17 and 24.5 inches). That money is used to fund the diversion program, meaning C & D and Lafarge are paid for taking and processing the tires.

Lafarge is being paid half what C & D is getting — $105 per metric tonne versus $200.

“I’m really upset at Divert [the province’s recycling program] and, personally, I don’t feel like paying that [$4.50] fee if it’s going toward subsidizing the fuel costs of one of the largest corporations in the world,” said Mark Butler, policy director at the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.

“It’s better to recycle than fuel recovery and that’s what they should be prioritizing.”

5. Yacht race

The 37th Biennial Marblehead-to-Halifax Ocean Race started yesterday, with the first boats expected to reach Halifax tomorrow morning.

The race, which is hosted by the Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, dates back to 1905:

This informal race continued sporadically until 1939 when BYC (the third oldest yacht club in the US) teamed with RNSYS (the oldest yacht club in North America) and formalized the biennial event. There was a break in the race during WWII, but it resumed in 1947. Since that time, the MHOR has run continuously, alternating years with the Newport to Bermuda Race, and is considered the pre-eminent North Atlantic Ocean race. Oddly, in Boston it’s called the Halifax race and in Halifax it’s called the Marblehead.

Whatever its name, the race begins in the early afternoon on the first Sunday after July 4th at Tinker’s Gong just outside Marblehead Harbor. It runs approximately 360 Nautical miles northeast across the Gulf of Maine and through the strong tidal currents at the entrance to the Bay of Fundy (a blessing or a curse and sometimes both) thence up the shore to a finish in Halifax Harbour.

In 2017, this race has been running, with a hiatus or two, for 112 years. It predates the first running of the Newport-Bermuda and the Transpacific yacht races by a year (both began in 1906) and is believed to be the longest running offshore ocean race in the world. (The America’s Cup (1851) is not an offshore race and the Chicago-Mackinac race (1898) is not an ocean race.)

As of this morning, the Prospector is way out in front.

The yacht race is mostly a rich person’s game, but it’s long surprised me that there isn’t more recreational sailing around Halifax. There is a lot more in my native Virginia, where it seemed like every third person I knew had a Laser or just a Sunfish or some such. The bays, inlets, and tidal rivers around Hampton Roads are always dotted with sails, so it’s weird looking out onto Halifax Harbour most days and seeing none. Maybe the water’s too cold, or maybe it’s harder to access the water here.




Grants Committee (Monday, 1pm, City Hall) — the committee is being asked to approve lump sum payments of $20,000 to the MusGo Rider Cooperative and $5,000 to BayRides, plus a 42¢/kilometre operating subsidy, up to $105,000 (for a total of $130,000). The $20,000 to MusGo is split between the Musquodoboit and Valley/Sheet Harbour operations.

Typically, the services are subsidized at a rate of 50¢ a kilometre, but there’s only enough money in the dedicated fund for a 42¢ subsidy. The difference is only $18,500, and the services usually overestimate their expected in-service distance, so my guess is the committee will recommend that council pay out the 50¢ subsidy, to up to $123,500, for a total of $148,500 including the lump sum payments.


No public meetings.


No meetings this month.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Monday, 10:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Kyle Levesque will defend his thesis, “New Insights into the Relation of Morphological Awareness and Reading Comprehension in Children.”


No public events.

In the harbour

6:30am: Vega Omega, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 41 from San Juan, Puerto Rico

Algoma Dartmouth. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Algoma Dartmouth. Photo: Halifax Examiner

6:45am: Algoma Dartmouth, oil tanker, moves from Pier 34 to Imperial Oil
8am: Torm Atlantic, oil tanker, sails from Pier 9 for Houston

Piltene. Photo: Halifax Examiner

9am: Piltene, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Imperial Oil
10:30am: YM Enlightenment, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for sea
12:45pm: Europa, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Magdalen Islands

Atlantic Huron. Photo: Halifax Examiner

3:30pm: Atlantic Huron, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Point Tupper
3:30pm: Athens Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea


It’s like summer, which is surprising.

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

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  1. I was a NW native who was 16 at the time when Clayton Miller died. I don’t believe that the police killed Clayton Miller. I don’t rule out he was killed, but there is no reason to suspect the police more than dozens of other people at that party in the woods.

    One thing you may not know about this case is that the supporters of the theory that Clayton was killed and covered up by the powers that be (at the time) in NW are rabid in their defense of their narrative. Disagreeing with them almost always leads to online attacks, an occasionally to physical intimidation.

    Another thing you may not know if that the police force of the time was certainly a small town force with much more…….. freedom…… in how things were done. They were the ones in charge and they made the rules, or at least decided which to follow and how to apply them. They most certainly knew how to the circle the wagons.

    The family will only accept one outcome; that the police and their accomplices murdered their son and covered it up. Any loose thread is not only worth pulling, but is just more proof of the conspiracy. One more piece of ‘evidence’ that a cover up had taken place.

    Maybe someone did kill Clayton Miller. Liquor and minors in NW in 1991 normally meant a few fights, some extreme drunkenness, and many many poor choices. Any of which could lead to death. But evidence of police murder and corruption, from what I have seen, is at best unlikely.

    As much as I wish for a happy end to the pain of the family, I don’t think that will be possible without their theory being proven true.

  2. Yes, please ask skeptical questions BECAUSE no one turned up evidence of wrong doing in Miller’s death. Unanswered questions have fuelled 27 years of speculation and general unease around the handling of this case, namely, what kind of police investigators don’t think to snap a photograph at the unexplained death scene of a teenager? No one thought to cordon off the area so they could confirm what had happened? For that reason, we will never be able to verify the father’s account of how the body was discovered, or the defensive, post-mortem position he has described. Those are just a couple of questions. Read the reports and statements going back to 1991; this is ineptitute or a coverup, and either way, I am not okay with it. It should go without saying that his family never will be.

  3. If you attend the news conference, I hope you will ask skeptical questions. Clayton Miller’s death has been the subject of multiple investigations by respected, independent, compassionate lawyers and judges. None of these investigations has turned up any evidence whatever of wrongdoing. None of them has made a dent in the grieving parents’ insistence there was a cover-up, with ever shifting theories backed by vague, unverified claims.

  4. Tired of hearing about tires? The statement: “It’s better to recycle than fuel recovery and that’s what they should be prioritizing.”… is not a bad one, but it is not correct for the tire issue.

    C&D processes old tires, yes, recycles them, NO; not when they are used as an aggregate substitute. Why, because as an aggregate they are buried and cannot be “recycled” in the future… not much different than burying them in a landfill except for the coal-fired power expended to re-purpose the tires as an aggregate. So the correct term to use is terminally re-purpose, not recycle.

    The Lafarge project is also a terminal re-purposing use for the tires as a coal substitute. Is it recycling, not really although the concrete product that is created can be recycle if appropriately processed once its original use comes to an end. The Lafarge tire burning project lasts one year and must pass an environmental assessment to proceed. Dalhousie has been tasked with monitoring and assessing the environmental impacts and monitoring exhaust gas emissions throughout the project and the Province is expected to enforce environmental safety regulations. The jury is out whether this tire burning process at Lafarge is environmentally safe; but if Dalhousie does a competent job, perhaps the answer to that question can be factually answered… that would be a good thing. Every industrial process comes with risks and even though two industrial processes sound similar, when appropriate monitoring takes place, significant differences can be found. One tire burning process is not necessarily the same as another. Lafarge says they can safely burn the tires… let the facts determine the final outcomes. But the public has every right to expect that the monitoring of the process and enforcement of regulations must be a high priority and safety first must be the rule for the day… and ALL monitoring reports should be made public, as soon as they have been written… this project should be open and transparent in ALL aspects.

    1. With the pilot project going forward, I agree that having Dalhousie researchers measure on-site emissions to air and water will contribute useful information to the discussion about whether this is the best option for managing tries at end-of-life; however, I would suggest that since the scope of the Dalhousie project is limited to on-site impacts, it is only one piece of the information needed to decide how to proceed.

      We need to think about these decisions from a life cycle perspective. These alternative uses of scrap tires have broader environmental implications than just what happens at the site where they are used. They also potentially displace the need for other material and energy use by substituting for conventional fuels or materials. For example, the primary objective at Lafarge is to substitute for burning coal, and based on the literature it would appear the CO2 emissions from the stack are lower for burning tires than burning coal. We are also avoiding the need to mine and process and transport that coal to NS. Similarly, when we use scrap tires as an input to road construction, we are substituting for the conventional ways that we produce asphalt, which also has a supply chain heavily-based on fossil fuels and non-renewable material use.

      So it would be nice to see a broader analysis looking at the full life cycle implications of the different options we have for burning tires, perhaps even options beyond the two mentioned above. This type of analysis has already been used in the scientific literature in other jurisdictions, and this type of approach could be useful in NS.

      I have a few articles on this and some experience in this area if anyone has questions. I’m on Twitter @AyerNathan

      1. I agree, the broader the analysis the better informed we become. Just because using tires as an alternate fuel source was done poorly in the beginning does not mean it cannot be done safely today; but that does not necessarily mean that burning tires for energy recovery is the best and most economical solution either, The one thing that is sure is that once one buries any waste material, other than valuable metals, most if not any appreciable recoverable value is lost… burying anything is not a real recycling solution. There is no circular economy association here. Burning may not be the best way to go; but a “real” economically viable and available market must exist for the other recycling options when considering the processing of tires at their end of life. Aggregate costs around $10/tonne and tire derived aggregate (TDA) costs around $200/tonne if C&D provides the material for no additional processing costs… that is not a truly economical solution. Plus NS creates about 1.2million waste tires per year and in 2014, it took 800,000 tires to provide TDA for a 1/4km section of road that used TDA during a pilot project.

  5. A big reason why people don’t sail Lasers or sunfishes here is that the harbour water has traditionally been disgusting. In the small boats, you’re constantly getting splashed and/or fully in the water. Not to mention it’s exceptionally difficult to park a boat trailer in a way that complies with the land use bylaws. If you get around those issues, there are lots of public boat ramps (with little or no parking for the trailer nearby…) So, lots of deterrents.

  6. Re 3. Clayton Miller

    Glad you’ll attend the press conference. If they take questions, you’ll have incisive, pointed ones. Please update us, including your general impression of the state of progress and any stonewalling the investigation is experiencing. Having grown up in Cape Breton and remained in touch into late adulthood, am painfully aware of the impenetrable walls of silence and fact that can be erected there. Justice and public’s right-to-know are malleable concepts along with an embedded us-against-them mentality.

  7. Yesterday I drove over the MacKay Bridge and was amazed at the number of sailboats in the harbour. Made me wish I was a sailor!

  8. I don’t sail, but membership in the Shearwater Yacht Club & boat rentals are affordable for middle class folks.

    Of course, the middle class is shrinking.

    1. It may be simple geography. In the Tidewater area, there are lots and lots of houses backing up onto water. My own lower-middle class family lived (and still lives) on a waterfront lot on a tidal river. It was easy to have boats without joining a club, or without having to trailer a boat across town to a ramp.

      1. I’m thinking there isn’t quite so much fog in Virginia? Sailing in a small boat in Halifax Harbour is a little dicey what with the relatively fast moving unmaneuverable container ships (and other, large marine traffic). Trust me it’s scary as hell if the fog shuts down visibility and a container ship is moving. Never seen a Laser with radar. Lots of small sailboats in Bedford Basin, North West Arm, or St Margaret’s Bay. Also, the focus on the Dartmouth lakes is now canoeing and rowing. It wasn’t always the case. There are old photos of Lake Banook filled with sailboats. There is a general move to power boats. People seem to think you don’t need to know anything to operate a powerboat. (hahaha). With sailing, you have to take the time to learn a little.

        1. I learned to sail at a pretty early age, but I never got very good at it. (My brother races internationally.) Still, I’d take a catamaran we had out into the shipping lanes. Those tugs produce some gigantic waves, heh. After I graduated high school, I visited some friends in Florida; for some reason I can’t remember, I sailed a Laser from Sarasota all the way to Tampa Bay, in the Gulf. It was a hell of a trip. Turning the point of Anna Maria Island into the bay was a ridiculous thing for a not-great sailor to do, but I survived.

      2. The geography at play is the weather. With the little 1-2 person rigs, you are going to get wet, and that isn’t any fun in NS oceans until late June (if ever). And past Labour day, everyone is back in school. And before 5 years ago, the water one was getting wet with in the harbour wasn’t, well, “water”.

        2 months + some later weekends isn’t a long time to get ones money worth out of a $5000 toy for anyone but the most serious boater.