1. Labour contracts

“Finance Minister Randy Delorey is going to have to use best estimates for the cost of contracts with two of the province’s largest public sector groups when he introduces a budget in the coming weeks,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

While the government recently imposed a contract on teachers, it still has no deal with members of the civil service or health-care workers. Conciliation for the NSGEU-represented civil service is set for April 19 and 20, but dates are nowhere in sight for health-care talks.

2. Language training

Tuka (left) and Belal Alhamwi, with their son attending English classes at Forsyth Education Centre in Dartmouth. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Last month, reported Jennifer Henderson, the Halifax Regional School Board sent layoff notices to instructors of 200 adult immigrant and refugee students studying English as an Additional Language at the Forsyth Education Centre in Dartmouth.

Henderson today follows up that report with news that those students will be picked up by the Immigrant Settlement Association of Nova Scotia, but ISANS is scrambling to find space for them. Meanwhile, no one is sure who will provide language training for 180 other immigrant and refugee students in rural Nova Scotia.

Click here to read “Language training abruptly dropped by school board picked up by ISANS.

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

3. An earlier Al-Rawi allegation

About 300 people demonstrated Tuesday against Judge Gregory Lenehan’s decision in the Bassam Al-Rawi case. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Bassam Al-Rawi five years ago says she was “sickened” by the former cab driver’s acquittal last week at the end of an unrelated sexual assault trial in Halifax,” reports the CBC:

In the 2012 case, the woman reported being intoxicated and driven to an apartment where she was sexually assaulted.

“I was approached by his cab when I was walking alone on a street in Halifax,” the 32-year-old woman told CBC News in an interview. She is not being identified given the nature of her allegations.

“He offered to take me where I needed to go. I eventually got in his cab. He didn’t start the meter.”

According to the search warrant application, Al-Rawi “was questioned under caution for the offence, but he stated that he did not recall the incident, but that at no time would he force someone to have sexual intercourse.”

Police closed the case “due to lack of solvability.” He was not charged.

4. Athabaskan

HMCS Athabaskan, Canadian destoyer
HMCS Athabaskan. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“In its heyday, it was one of Canada’s largest fighting ships — built for operations in the North Atlantic as a helicopter-carrying submarine hunter with a crew of more than 250,” reports Keith Doucette for the Canadian Press:

But the big gun on HMCS Athabaskan thundered its final salvos Wednesday, as Canada’s last Cold War-era destroyer enters retirement after more than 44 years of service.


The ship’s current commanding officer, Cmdr. Jean Couillard, said sailing the vessel into retirement marks “the end of an era” for the navy.

Couillard said there will be a transition period as the navy waits for its new vessels.

“It’s an exciting time for the guys that are joining the navy right now,” he said. “As they are pressing through their training and are all ready to go they will have new ships to sail with.”

Athabaskan will be decommissioned or “paid off” during a ceremony Friday in Halifax. The term dates back to the days when sailors were paid wages owing them when they went ashore.


1. Political action

“Last week the legislature saw a remarkable example of effective citizen action,” writes Graham Steele:

The Bill 59 Community Alliance made one of the best presentations to the legislature’s law amendments committee I’ve ever seen — and I’ve seen many hundreds.

And that’s only the public portion of its lobby efforts. The alliance has been working behind the scenes for months, and that unglamorous background work continues.

The group hasn’t yet achieved what it wants, but it’s doing everything right.

Steele goes on to analyze how the Community Alliance is organizing, and what lessons that has for other groups.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the New Glasgow News:

Constantly we are reminded that diversity and inclusivity are important traits of Canada and by extension Nova Scotia. 

The recent provincial comprehensive culture document does the opposite.

The continued emphasis on three important heritage groups is good but what about the rest? Have we forgotten the cultural and economic contributions made by others? For example the Germans in Lunenburg County, the role of the Dutch in revitalizing farming, Ukrainians and Italians in industrial Sydney or the new wave of Plattdeutsch-speaking Mennonites to our rural areas? 

The document avoids the importance of the contributions made by the largest cultural group in Nova Scotia: the Gaels of Ireland and Scotland. This omission is not new and represents an ongoing pattern of suppressing Nova Scotia’s Gaelic heritage. This suppression takes many forms.

In the provincial budgets the continued lack of financial support for Gaelic as compared to other groups is very evident. Historically many measures were used to downgrade the language. Today thanks to a small number of dedicated individuals very small pockets of fluent speakers still exist in Nova Scotia as indicated in the national census. Had the value of Gaelic been appreciated in the past or at least recently we would have seen a flourishing trilingual Nova Scotia with the symbiotic economic and cultural innovative spinoffs. Yet for some reason there appears to be a reticence to celebrate this culture; rather, there is a constant direct and indirect pressure to have it absorbed into an alien one. Is this Gaelic-phobia and are we supporting it by not speaking out? Perhaps historical persecution, shaming, financial public starvation has succeeded and individuals no longer care or know about their heritage. Has the lobotomy been successfully carried out?

If not then follow the courageous leadership of the Acadian, Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotians. Stand up and demand your linguistic and cultural rights by contacting Premier McNeil, the Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage and your MLAs.

Gerald Romsa, Riverton


This is Centaurus A:

Only 11 million light-years away, Centaurus A is the closest active galaxy to planet Earth. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy also known as NGC 5128, is featured in this sharp telescopic view. Centaurus A is apparently the result of a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies resulting in a fantastic jumble of star clusters and imposing dark dust lanes. Near the galaxy’s center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process likely generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A. The remarkably deep, visible light image offers further evidence of the ensuing cosmic violence in the faint shells and extended features surrounding the active galaxy.




Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — no taxi issues.

Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — an orientation meeting for the committee, to teach new members how not to protect the architectural heritage of Halifax.



Economic Development (Thursday, 9:30am, One Government Place) — the committee will discusse “Barriers and Opportunities for Economic Development in Cape Breton.” Guests include Eileen Lannon Oldford, the CEO of Business Cape Breton; Parker Rudderham, the chair of BCP and owner of Frank Magazine; John Phalen, the Economic Development Manager at Cape Breton Regional Municipality; and Keith MacDonald, the CEO of the Cape Breton Partnership.

On campus



Fractals (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase) — Clark Kimberling will talk about “Fractal Sequences, Fractal Trees, and Linear Recurrences.”

Resource Boom Spillovers (Thursday, 3:30pm, The Great Hall, University Club) — David Green of UBC will speak on “Spillovers from Canada’s Resource Boom and How They May Have Staved off America’s Fate (For Now).”

Cap-and-Trade 101 (Thursday, 4pm, Ondaatje Auditorium) — “Capping Carbon / Trading Talk,” with Elizabeth Beale, Kate Ervine, Brendan Haley, and Jason Hollett. More info.

Solid Waste (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Andrew Wort speaks on “Solid Waste Management: Social, Environmental and Economic Sustainability.”

Women Reading Women (Thursday, 7pm, The Muse) — Dalhousie’s Writer-in-Residence Sue Goyette hosts students reading excerpts by women writers.


Book Sale (Friday, 11am, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — Sale of exhibition catalogues, monographs, books on art, and posters.

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard (Friday, noon, Council Chambers, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — A conversation with the senator. We interviewed her for Examineradio, which you can find here.

End-of-Life (Friday, 12:10pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Barbara Noah speaks on “End-of-Life Decision-making in the US, with Some Canadian Comparisons.”

Electrons (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226 Chemistry Department) — Volker W. Blum speaks on “Scalable All-Electron Theory — from Molecular Spectroscopy to Materials for Energy Harvesting.”

Pythian Games (Friday, 5pm, Scotiabank Auditorium, McCain Building) — Students perform poetry, song, theatre and music, in the hope of winning “prizes and glory.”

Saint Mary’s


Molecular Mysteries (Friday, 11:30am, Science Building S310) — Jennifer van Wijngaarden speaks on “Resolving Molecular Mysteries: High Resolution Spectroscopy in the Microwave and Far Infrared Regions.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Thursday. Map:

5am: UASC Zamzam, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Port Klang, Malaysia
5:30am: Oberon, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at anchorage from Saint-Pierre
7am: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
8:30am: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
11am: Juliette Rickmers, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
11am: Skogafoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
4pm: Oberon, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
6pm: Agios Minas, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
8pm: Oberon, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for sea
10pm: Asian Moon, container ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea
11pm: UASC Zamzam, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea


I’ve got a 9:30 meeting. I hate 9:30 meetings.

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

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  1. That Halifax police “lack of solvability” case five years back was a dream come true for Mr. Perv.

  2. Re 1. Political Action

    I read Graham Steele’s column last night. As I finished it, I experienced a mixture of anger, disgust and despair – despair that authentic interest and engagement at/from governance level – the one elected by voters who represent a wide variety of education, aptitude and resources, will depend upon the sophistication of lobbying and presentation — not referenced issues, nor their validity nor worth, nor even their actionable feasibility, but their packaging and numbers. To condense: 1. Votes represented a/k/a lobby numbers; 2. PR package; 3. A clear demand.

    Purported grassroot campaign “desires to serve” are subsumed and evaluated by elevated criteria, and, of course, the need of elected politicians to engage with and discharge more important, more pressing matters. Have never liked the term “elite,” yet it bleeds from Steele’s “helpful” advice. Wonder how these three vital elements figure into those enduring horrific public housing in Halifax … how they’re expected to “more effectively” lobby for improved conditions, or the woman who requires and has been denied a medically-requested specialized diet. Steele’s advice reflects the enduring hold that class, status, arrogance and privilege have on our institutions. Our political party systems will deny the rise of a Donald Trump, but do not mistakenly believe the societal currents which gave rise to him don’t exist here, are pulsating and expanding.

  3. Graham Steele’s article is interesting. What stands out for me, and this should be obvious to everyone, is that he writes about an example of how to lobby effectively but acknowledges that “The group hasn’t yet achieved what it wants”. Contrast that to how it works for the rich and business community. No grass roots organising necessary, no expertise, just the confidence that most politicians know exactly what is best, and that means what is best for the rich and for employers. That’s what makes organising so difficult, that’s what makes political engagement of the citizenry next to impossible. The teachers issue is a clear example of this. Politicians know all too well that balanced budgets matter way more than working conditions for teachers or the quality of education that students receive. They just know it, no need to lobby them or convince them of anything. The labour code is another clear example – even the “socialist NDP” did basically nothing to materially improve the lives of workers by setting a decent floor for expectations of employers in this province. Look at minimum wages, look at requirements for posting of schedules (there are none whatsoever). Politicians just seem to know that these things are the natural order of things. And those few who do question them never attain positions of actual influence. Howard Epstein is the perfect example of that. An actual progressive, denied a cabinet post in Dexter’s government, because unlike Steele, he actually believed people’s lives matter more than government deficits.

      1. I’m finding it harder and harder to ignore the (naked btw) money elephant in the room:
        The intrinsic value of “money” is stupendously less than the buying power it has (a $20 bill costs cents to make). We are bound to the false impression that there is a lack of funding; funding is something we made up and assigned coloured pieces of paper to it. It is a wall erected by humans and now, with the ability to financially transact digits online (what the heck is the intrinsic value of a digital unit of exchange?? That’s right, it costs the same as a molecule of air!) why on earth are we still allowing the non-existent wall that is “money” to stand in the way of progress? I am flabbergasted and can’t wait for this particular light bulb moment to hit more people 🙂

        1. Money as a unit of currency has long been decoupled from the intrinsic value of a specific good. See: fiat currency.

          That being said, money is not “worthless” in our current system. It is an accounting system used to allocate resources (including our time).The wall does indeed exist in the form of limited resources. So until we live in a post-scarcity “Star Trek” world, we will continue to live by a monetary system. You can’t just create more money to drive progress without devaluing existing money (inflation), because the underlying pool of resources does not change on a short timescale.

  4. That was a weird letter. Scottish gaellic culture being repressed?

    I’ve lived here for 25 years and had it up to here with bagpipes and tartans.

    The Bhangra dancers are a welcome acceptance that there is a world beyond New Scotland.

    1. I think he is speaking about the Gaelic language in particular, and not the biscuit tin kind of stuff which so often tortures you and which drives me out of bars.

      I don’t understand a word of Gaelic but I think he has a point that it should be included with everything else. When my father was growing up in Cape Breton (and he was of English, not Scottish, descent) Gaelic was commonly heard even in the towns and in the countryside it was the first language in many areas.

      I think we lose something important when we lose a language, a worldview, because a language is much more than just the words that comprise it.

  5. Website feedback:
    The snap-to-headings thing that’s going on on the site the past few months is weirdly jarring to scroll through, and makes browser navigation (i.e. the back command) frustrating. I’ve also found that where there are very short items (where there end up being multiple headings simultaneously in view) can’t be scrolled through on my phone’s browser.