On campus
In the harbour


1. Yarmouth ferry


“After weeks of saying it would not do so, Bay Ferries released the first passenger numbers for the new Yarmouth-Maine ferry Monday,” reports Remo Zaccagna for Local Xpress:

According to the initial numbers, service to Portland, which launched on June 15, saw average daily traffic of 78 cars and 181 passengers during the first week of operation.

That number increased to 97 cars and 285 passengers in the second week, and the service saw another usage bump in the third week, with average daily totals of 107 vehicles and 307 passengers.

That’s an odd way of reporting the numbers. What we’re supposed to be concerned about is service to Yarmouth — that is, the number of fat-walleted Americans showing up on our shores, not the number of impoverished Nova Scotians fleeing for better climes down south.

Contradicting Zaccagna, the Canadian Press says the numbers reflect “both directions” of the ferry trip, so I don’t know. Still, many American tourists will likely take the ferry for one leg of their trip and drive around through quaint New Brunswick for the other, but without numbers for both one-way and round-trip ticket sales, it’s impossible to say for sure — 307 passengers a day could be 307 tourists to Nova Scotia, but it might just be 153 tourists. This will matter hugely when the government inevitably rolls out an economic impact report to justify the expense of the ferry.

Bay Ferries president Mark MacDonald did offer up some other figures:

According to the company, 1,200 room nights were sold at Nova Scotia accommodation properties so far as part of Bay Ferries package products, and that does not count those who booked individually.

That’s about 50 rooms a night so far through the season. Assuming double occupancy, that’s 100 double doubles sold at the Yarmouth Timmies the next morning before the happy tourists vamoosed to Halifax.

Zaccagna writes that MacDonald released the numbers to counter what he called “damaging discussion” from ferry critics. But the company needs to carry about 600 tourists a day to meet the 60,000-passenger target for the season, so expect plenty more damaging discussion.

I’ll note that exact numbers for passengers are required to be given to the city of Portland this coming Friday, and those figures will be in turn made public. The astonishingly helpful staffer in the Portland City Manager’s office told me that she had collected dozens of email addresses of reporters to send the numbers to (she added me to the list), so we’ll see if those numbers jibe with the numbers MacDonald released yesterday.

2. Lobsters

Photo: Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Photo: Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

“More than 600 pounds of lucky lobsters were spared the pot Saturday, thanks to compassionate monks on Prince Edward Island,” reports Shane Ross for the CBC:

The monks bought the lobsters from various places around the Island, said Venerable Dan of the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society in Little Sands.

On Saturday, they boarded a fishing boat and released them back into the ocean off the coast of Wood Islands.

“Hopefully, we can find a spot where there are no cages waiting for them,” said Dan.

Presumably the monks took those rubber bands off the lobsters’ claws before sending them into the unknown-to-them waters.

3. The Google-impaired

What is it with Canadian municipal officials not doing the basic internet research? From a Toronto Star interview with Harry Schlange, the former CAO of the Niagara Region who has been hired on as CAO of Brampton:

Prior to putting your name forward for the job, did you know about the problems facing Brampton: spending issues under former mayor Susan Fennell; mistrust between some councillors and senior staff; the bleak financial forecast?

Running a billion-dollar corporation — Niagara — you don’t review or analyze or read about other municipalities. We all have our own problems.

Surely, by the time you’re interviewing for the job, aren’t you starting to do a bit of background research to find out what’s being going on?

No, no. Because, you go to any council or any community and there’s all sorts of problems. So I stayed focused on . . . what does this council want to do moving forward.

h/t Philip Slayton

4. No rednecks

Shelburne is managing to have its Founders Day celebrations sans rednecks this year. There’s no telling whether that will result in more or fewer American tourists stopping by.


1. Minimum wage exemption

Bobby Smith profits from teenage slave labour.
Bobby Smith profits from teenage slave labour.

“Two years ago, UNIFOR, the country’s largest private sector union, launched a drive to organize major junior hockey players,” writes Stephem Kimber:

Last year, a Toronto law firm filed a class action law suits against major junior hockey and its teams, seeking millions in “outstanding wages, overtime pay, holiday pay and vacation pay.” Certification hearings on that lawsuit are scheduled — surprise — this fall.

The timing is interesting because just last week, with not public consultation or debate, the McNeil government exempted professional sports teams from minimum wage laws. As Kimber notes:

The government hasn’t struck a balance. It’s struck a blow for child exploitation.

“To be frank, we saw the class-action suit killing junior hockey in the Maritimes,” Premier Stephen McNeil told TSN reporter Rick Westhead. “The fact is that junior hockey here is important to us. We believe these changes will keep it here.”

That’s a remarkable argument that we wouldn’t apply to any other industry. Oh, we all like eating out at restaurants, so let’s exempt restaurant employees from minimum wage laws. We like going to movie theatres, so let’s let them pay the ticket-takers crap. Just think how much lower prices would be at WalMart if they could pay that person working the cash register three bucks an hour.

But we like watching the Mooseheads, so screw that kid.

As is, 16- and 17-year-old players make just 35 bucks a week, reports Westhead, and they’re staying in fans’ extra bedrooms. Those over 20 get a whopping $150 week, which is still considerably below minimum wage. I don’t have time this morning, but someone should do a photo essay, showing Moosehead owner Bobby Smith’s no-doubt palatial home next to the digs the kids are staying in.

Nobody goes to a Moosehead game to watch Bobby Smith.

Writing in The Coast, lawyer Blair Mitchell makes the important point that the change in minimum wage laws came at the urging of professional sports team owners who apparently skirted lobbying laws:

But one of the important conditions of public accountability in Nova Scotia is that people who are, in the government’s words, “communicating with” MLA’s, ministers and civil servants “in an effort to influence a decision” are “lobbying.” People who want to influence government in this way must register as a Lobbyist to show that they are trying to influence, and on whose behalf.

The Nova Scotia’s Lobbyist Registry is on line and lists some 925 separate registrations. There’s none apparent to show anyone trying to cause the cabinet to make any such change. It might be missed or it might be unclear. But no one is registered for the Canadian Hockey League or the Mooseheads or the Screaming Eagles.

It is certainly perhaps possible that one might raise the issue of changing law in some context not covered by “lobbying,” but the government spokesperson’s comments on July 4 on exactly that point suggests that the requirements of the province’s Lobbying Registration Act be very closely considered.

Mitchell says that the minimum age exemptions are part of a collective Canadian Hockey League effort, but there’s one other lucky beneficiary to the changes: The Hurricane, owned in part by union-busting Mark Lever, also the president of the Chronicle Herald.

2. Conch shells

Photo: Clara Dennis, Public Archives of Nova Scotia 1981-541 no512
Conch shells lined the terraces of WH Conrod’s house in Vogler’s Cove, a not uncommon sight in Victorian Nova Scotia. Photo: Clara Dennis, Public Archives of Nova Scotia 1981-541 no512

Victorian-era Nova Scotia had an obsession with conch shells, and Stephen Archibald has the photographic evidence to prove it. He writes:

It appears that they came back on the schooners that transported our salt cod to the Caribbean. Along with rum and molasses it could be easy to ballast your vessel with conch shells on the return trip. Huge piles of shells accumulate on the islands where conchs are processed to extract their meat… The conchs made it into our gardens because of Victorians’ enthusiasm for the exotic and the picturesque.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

It’s more obvious to many citizens that after government personalities and political labels change that not much else really does change. This then questions the purpose of voting in new political personalities when there isn’t going to be any real change in policy/practice on any new government’s agenda.

A couple of examples of such political 180-degree reversals on important issues should explain this more fully.

In Nova Scotia, each of the three major parties when they were the government in power took a diametrically opposite position to that held when they were in the role of opposition over the years in the legislature on the issue of the manipulation of billions of dollars of federal equalization payments. Each party, when they attained the power to govern, only distributed a minuscule amount of that received to the many economically disadvantaged municipalities of this province. 

Federally, the Trudeau Liberal government (like the Harper Conservative government that preceded it) recently rejected calls for a public inquiry into the abuse and torture of hundreds of Afghans detained by the Canadian Armed Forces. 

I believe this action by the Trudeau Liberal government is an attempt to cover up some new evidence published in the Montreal newspaper La Presse earlier this month of a letter by a group of unidentified military police officers who directly participated in the abuse, which took place between 2010-2011. These military police officers have accused high-ranking military police officers of ordering the abuse of Afghan detainees, which they allege constitutes war crimes.

People can recall Liberal MP Ralph Goodale’s criticism when Harper prorogued parliament in order to shut down the parliamentary committee’s investigation of the detainee issue. Goodale’s inference to a cover up was included in this comment, “what the Conservatives knew, and when they knew it, about torture in Afghanistan.”

When political parties in our so-called parliamentary form of government attain power and continue with the same policies on major issues they opposed when not the governing party, it only illustrates that the importance some attach to the act of voting is a delusion.

Charles W. Sampson, Sydney Forks


No public meetings.

This morning, the city issued a tender for Part 2 of the Cornwallis Park redevelopment. You’ll recall that last year the rebuild was aborted when all the bids came in over budget, and so the project was split in two. Somehow, this made it more affordable.

On campus


Drosophilia (11:00am, Life Sciences Centre, Room 5260) — Denis Top, from Rockefeller University, will speak on “An Anatomically Restricted Mechanism Regulates Rhythmic Behavior in Drosophilia.”

Don’t open the attachment (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) – Mike Just, from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, will discuss his recent work to create a tool to aid the detection of potential Denial of Service attacks.

In the harbour

Ships in the North Atlantic, 9am Tuesday. Map:
Ships in the North Atlantic, 9am Tuesday. Map:

Currently scheduled:

1:30am: NYK Delphinus, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Southhampton, England

Oceanex Sanderling. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Oceanex Sanderling. Photo: Halifax Examiner

11am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
11am: Capricornus Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
2pm: Seoul Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam

6am: Mignon, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southhampton, England
6am: Aeneas, container ship, arrives at berth TBD from New York
6am: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at berth TBD from Valencia, Spain
10:45am: Mignon, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
2pm: Shunwa, bulker, arrives at anchorage from Kantvik, Finland
9pm: Mignon, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for New York


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

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    1.) Yarmouth cheerlader-in-chief does not want ferry traffic figures saying the ferry is not working to suggest that the ferry is not working. Makes sense?

    2.) When Ferry co prez Mark MacDonald says that ferry has produced 1200 room nights “so far” via packages, he is referring not to room nights used so far, but the room nights for trips which have occurred or will occur before Oct 15. BIG difference.

  2. It’s disgusting that when it comes to business, the first thing that gets cut are jobs and wages for the employees, no one ever talks about the owners getting their earnings cut.

  3. Moving forward, I believe it’s important to avoid answering questions by talking about new synergies. That’s what I want to do, moving foward, because council was behind me one hundred percent, except the 49 percent that voted to fire me, but now I think the important question is where do you guys want to be, moving forward, synergistically.

    How do these bullshit artists get away with it? Are we really this lazy and stupid as a population?

  4. Bottom line when it comes to the Yarmouth Ferry service is what is the desired passenger rates to and from Yarmouth? Since it is a subsidized public transportation service whose purpose is to bolster the economy of NS through spinoff benefits, it needs to be recognized that this service was never expected to break even or be self sustaining. So the question to ask the NS Government is what are the desired ridership numbers to deem this service as being worthy of continued subsidization to a defined level? This analysis should already exist today and it should be made public.

  5. My thoughts are along similar lines as Tim. Major midget games, University, Junior B and Junior A charge entry.

    Where do you draw the line between playing professionally and simply playing.

    And when can you say that all volunteers must be paid? The kids are doing just that. They are volunteering to play for a team, with the (faint) hope that it will lead to a jackpot at the end of a rainbow.

    The teams compete on their ability to hel make that happen, and also to provide an alternative – many ex- Mooseheads end up playing for local university teams. Halifax being full of universities helps the Mooseheads recruit.

    In the end the only thing that could result is a rise in ticket prices, which means a less competitive product, and in the end fewer teams for the players to develop.

    And that is in part what they are – a place to learn the vocation. So you might as well conjoined this argument with the free tuition one.

    It’s simple to get around the pay requirement. Only ice volunteers. See how man players choose not to report if they are only treated as they now are. Sadly, the premier is right here. They could very well start charging a tuition to become part of the organization.

  6. Regarding the Mooseheads (and other major junior teams) and minimum wage requirements, I’m curious as to how it’d practically play out, were such a requirement in place.

    I’ve taken a quick look at commentary on the UNIFOR proposal(s), but haven’t seen how the wage would be applied. (ie It’s easy enough to clock in / clock out for games and practices when you’re at home… but how would it work for road trips? Would the wage apply only to time spent on the ice? Or time away from home?)

    I’m also curious as to how a distinction can be drawn between the major junior leagues and Junior “A” and Junior “B” teams across the country, aside from gate revenue. Same age grouping but by and large fewer patrons paying admission, fewer jerseys getting sold, etc. But shouldn’t minimum wage requirements apply equally for a 19-year-old suiting up with the Truro Bearcats as they would for a 19-year-old with the Mooseheads?

    I’m not in any way backing the exceptions made by the province, I’m just wondering if anyone reading this has more knowledge on the subject and can enlighten on the practicalities of it all…

  7. I had to laugh when I saw the Mayor of Yarmouth on TV. She basically said that the problem with releasing ferry numbers is that people will use them to say that the ferry plan isn’t working.

  8. In my experience, municipal CAO’S, active and retired, are keenly aware of what is going on with their counterparts in other municipalities.

  9. My $0.02 on lobsters is that although there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with catching, killing and eating lobsters, the live transportation and storage of them is barbaric. Lobster is tasty, and I’d be perfectly happy to buy it straight off the boat and dunk it in boiling water or buy lobster that was killed and processed after capture like everything else is, but I’ll pass on supporting those tanks full of starving (so they don’t shit up their water) lobsters.

    I wonder if any enterprising fishermen will start offering to simply throw back X pounds of lobster for Y dollars. Then we’d have Canadian buddhists with names like Dan or Sally paying fishermen (who we treat sort of like a combination trade union and charismatic endangered species like polar bears) paying out indulgences to prevent others from ‘sinning’ (or whatever Buddhists cause it) in a sort of farcical aquatic ceremony.

  10. McNeil is proving his bona fides to the peeps he wants most to impress.

    Child labour laws be damned. What a scumbag.