On campus
In the harbour


1. Energy East

“Anti-pipeline protestors outside a Liberal fundraiser in Halifax got some face time with the event’s guest of honour on Monday night,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:

More than 30 people joined the demonstration in front of Seven Bays Café on Gottingen Street, where Liberal MP Andy Fillmore was hosting a $125-per-ticket event welcoming federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

2. Fire

Fire rages through the woods at the Seven Mile Lake fire Monday evening. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia
Fire rages through the woods at the Seven Mile Lake fire Monday evening. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Due to extreme fire risk from the exceptionally dry summer, the province has banned hiking, camping, and ATV use on crown land, effective noon today. In a press release, the Department of Natural Resources explained that “people can still access beaches and provincial parks, but trail systems will be restricted.”

Locally, the restrictions apply to the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes area, the trail network above Musquodoboit Harbour, and all other crown land.

There are three wildfires now burning across the province. Two are contained; the third, the Seven Mile Lake Fire in Annapolis County, had spread to 140 hectares by Monday.

3. Racial slur

George Baker
George Baker

“The town council in Amherst, N.S., has decided not to reprimand a veteran councillor and police board member who admitted using a racial slur,” reports Preston Mulligan for the CBC:

Coun. George Baker, who is white, admits he said “I’m not your n–ger”  in July while he was delivering pizzas for Bambino’s Pizzeria. He said it to staff in the pizzeria.

Baker also sits on the Amherst Board of Police Commissioners. 

The Amherst News provides more detail:

Amherst Coun. George Baker issued an official statement during a special meeting of council Aug. 8, admitting he used the slur in July and then apologized after being, he says, verbally abused at the eating establishment. He and the three employees were the only ones present for the exchange.

“I used the ‘N’-word and immediately said  ‘No one should ever say that word, I’m sorry’… I have no idea why that word would have come to my mind,” Baker said in his release. “It’s not a word I ever use.”

In his statement, Baker said that “I did not use any swear words or profanity.”

I’ll let that sit out there on its own, except to note that not only did Baker use a repugnant racial slur, but he additionally used it specifically in the context of ownership — that is, it was a direct reference to slavery: “I’m not your —.”

Baker is also a candidate for mayor in the upcoming October municipal elections.

4. That crappy old office building on Argyle Street

George Armoyan has purchased this pile of junk. Photo: Halifax Examiner
George Armoyan has purchased this pile of junk. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“A Nova Scotia minister is lamenting the $13.5 million proposed sale of the World Trade and Convention Centre to a prominent private developer, saying the process was done in a “very haphazard way,” reports Rachel Ward for the CBC:

[Internal Service Minister Labi Kousoulis] said he spent about a year trying to keep the building in public hands.

“Unfortunately, that process was put together in a very haphazard way,” Kousoulis said by phone from his Halifax constituency office.

The building is connected to the publicly owned sports facility, Scotiabank Centre, and actually contains the centre’s lobby, box office, Sports Hall of Fame and fire exits, he said. 

“In my eyes, the city was giving up control of the Metro Centre,” Kousoulis said.

The building was bought by developer George Armoyan, who headquarters his Armco Capital in an equally crappy old building on Quinpool Road. Armoyan hopes to tear down the Armco building and build a 28-storey monstrosity overlooking the Common. Presumably, he will move his headquarters down to Argyle Street.

5. Arguing with readers

Yesterday, I reported (I think positively) on Manning MacDonald’s column in the Cape Breton Post, in which he wrote that he would soon break his lifetime vow on cabinet confidentiality. A reader, however, takes me to task for writing that after the Liberals lost the government, MacDonald “continued to win his Cape Breton South seat even as the Liberals were in opposition, only retiring in 2013, when scandal erupted because he took a month-long vacation in Florida while the legislature was sitting in Halifax.”

Says the reader:

Manning announced over a year before hand that he would not be running in the next election. He, also, asked for the time off from the NDP speaker, who gave it to him, but complained afterward he was unaware it was for a vacation. If he wanted to spend time with his kids, that was okay, but a 70-year-old man taking a vacation after two decades in office, that is a crime. Manning never hid the fact he was going on vacation and this was, at the time, universally thought of as making hay over nothing by the NDP as they had given him the permission. The article presents it as Manning decided resign due to the scandal, which was factually not the case at all. He resigned because a provincial election was imminent and he had already declared he wasn’t running and didn’t want to deal with political BS from the NDP. (Neither did the people of Nova Scotia, if you remember the outcome of said election).

I’ll just observe that while Manning had announced in 2012 that he wouldn’t run in the next election, he actually resigned his seat (that is, he didn’t serve out his term) the day before the legislature was to vote on a motion to dock his pay for the time he was on vacation. But I’ll leave it for others to debate the circumstances of MacDonald’s departure. I’m only raising the issue here because of the reader’s next comment:

I get you need scandal to sell a newspaper, but I like the Examiner for its balanced approach, but it always seems unbalanced when it comes to Liberal politicians.

I get this a lot. When the PCs were in government, I was a NDP stooge. When the NDP were in government, I was a Liberal stooge. I only investigated Peter Kelly because I wanted the Liberal Mike Savage to be mayor. Now that the Liberals are in power, I’m anti-Liberal.

Of course, the Examiner is not partisan — it is adversarial. My job is not to plug this party or that, or to secretly push some agenda that benefits one party over another. Rather, my job is to call bullshit on all parties when needed, and to scrutinize, criticize, fault, contextualize and otherwise examine the workings of power in our society. I very consciously chose the name “Examiner” for this publication because it is not enough to merely report or chronicle or post, but rather to examine — that’s the point of an adversarial press. And necessarily, the party in power — whichever party is in power — will bear the brunt of that examination.

So, suck it up, Liberals.


1. Employment

Richard Starr looks at the latest jobs report from Statistics Canada and finds that:

[T]he closer you look at the numbers the worse it gets for Nova Scotia. A relatively small drop in overall employment of 1,400 obscures the fact that there was a loss of 4,700 full-time jobs in July, leaving full-time employment in the province at 361,100, 8,600 fewer than July 2015 and the lowest level of full-time employment since April 2014.

The July jobs report also knocked the legs out from under one of the provincial Liberals’ few talking points on the economy. Until now they have been able to obfuscate the downturn in employment that has been a hallmark of their time in office by pointing to job growth among young workers. Self-congratulation about the growth of full-time jobs among 15 to 24-year-olds featured in this year’s budget address and the metric was recently cited by the Premier to illustrate the great job his government is doing meeting the Ivany challenge.

It now looks like the Liberals will have to call time out on that refrain, at least until a new set of job numbers come out in September. Last week’s report from Statscan revealed that on a seasonally adjusted basis full time employment among 15 to 24 year olds tanked in July, down by 2,700 from June and 4,100 from last July. The latter represents  a drop of 11.4%. Students planning to return to school in the fall were hit hard. Only 15,000 of them had full-time work in July, down from 17,100 in July 2015.

The employment numbers are not the only indicator of the sorry state of the Nova Scotia economy. There has been a steady stream of bad news from Statistics Canada  over the last few weeks. On July 28 the agency’s report on average weekly earnings showed a drop of $25.54 in Nova Scotia between April and May. That decline of three per cent left Nova Scotia with the second lowest weekly wage in the country, ahead of only Prince Edward Island.


[T]he latest monthly numbers are firmly in line with the dreary economic picture painted in two other releases from Statscan last month.

One release dealt with family income and showed that in 2014, the number of people living in low-income households rose for the second year in a row. After falling in 2012 to the lowest ever recorded level of 133,940, the number of Nova Scotians – adults and children – living in low income rose to 135,910 in 2013 and 137,150 in 2014. .

Income assistance rates, frozen in 2013, may account for part of the increase in poverty, but declines in employment and income from employment are also factors. The Canadian Income Survey, also released last month, showed that in 2014 average employment income for full-year, full-time workers in Nova Scotia was $52,600, down $1,600 from 2013. For Canada as a whole, income in 2014 was up slightly to $61,700. With the Canadian average going up and the Nova Scotia average dropping, employment income in the province fell from 88.3% of the national average in 2013 to 85.3% in 2014. And over 44,000 full-time, full-year workers in Nova Scotia made less than $20,000 in 2014.

2. People First

Members of People First Nova Scotia, with Robert Devet (in the back).
Members of People First Nova Scotia, with Robert Devet (in the back).

Robert Devet introduces us to People First Nova Scotia, “a wonderful self-advocacy group whose members believe that people with intellectual disabilities should live in their community, rather than being warehoused in large institutions.”

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

Having spent a fair bit of my life throwing rocks at sacred cows, sadly ineffectually I must admit, I now take aim at sport in general, and in particular the Rio Olympics.

Is there nothing that cannot be spent to justify staging this mega spectacle? Is there no consideration for the desperate needs of the local poor population that allows their needs to be completely ignored in the quest to provide a sporting spectacle for the rest of the world to enjoy?

The money comes mainly from corporate sponsors of television coverage. Therefore if we all stopped watching, the money would dry up.

The issue that was my personal tipping point was the decision of the professional basketball players to charter a cruise ship for their accommodation so they don’t have to slum it with the rest of the athletes. Ultimately the people who pay for all this hype are the poor of Rio, and the environment in which they live.

It is my hope that local Rio activists so disrupt the games that the IOC is forced to undertake a fundamental review of these mega-events. I hope there is no violence, but I shall avoid watching the games on TV and I hope millions of others do the same.

And don’t lecture me on the idea that the games promote international goodwill. That is BS in my opinion.

Peter Noakes, Charlottetown


A dozen people have sent me this clip from John Oliver’s show, in which he discusses the sad state of journalism and the importance of supporting local news outlets like this one:

YouTube video

Also, the Inuit discovered Scotland in 1682, and possibly even earlier, writes Mark Jardine.




City Council (6pm, City Hall) — council is on a month-long vacation, but this special meeting was called, apparently to rush through two public hearings — one on an application by GarMar Limited for two 60-unit apartment buildings in Eastern Passage, the second for the proposed apartment building on Linden Lea in Dartmouth I discussed yesterday.

I wonder if enough councillors are even in town to get a quorum for tonight’s meeting.


No public meetings.

On campus


Thesis Defence, Engineering (10am, Room 3107, the Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jordan Schmidt will defend his thesis, “Phosphorus Removal in Passive Cold Region Waste Stabilization Ponds.”

The Blanket Exercise (1:30pm, the Great Hall, University Club) — Dalhousie Elders in Residence help faculty and staff understand the history of the Indigenous–settler relationship in Canada.

In the harbour

Halifax to Sable Island, 9:20am Tuesday. Map:
Halifax to Sable Island, 9:20am Tuesday. Map:

Scheduled as of 7am:


Scotia Tide, carrying the tidal turbine. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Scotia Tide, carrying the tidal turbine. Photo: Halifax Examiner

6am: Scotia Tide, barge, moves from Pier 9 to Bedford Basin for trials; this is the barge carrying the tidal turbine destined for the Minas Basin, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to be actually heading there
10:30am: Tortugas, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
10:45am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at HalTerm from St. John’s
11:30am: Fritz Reuter, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Valencia, Spain
3pm: Scotia Tide, barge carrying the tidal turbine, moves from Bedford Basin back to Pier 9
7pm: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Norfolk

5am: NYK Nebula, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
6am: ZIM New York, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from New York
10:30am: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 2,000 passengers
7pm: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Baltimore


Working on a few things today.

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

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  1. The Jon Oliver piece has been making the rounds. Presented as satire it is sadly true. Journalism is unde attack and the attackera are winning. A sad example is today’s Herald were the big front page story is a sycoophantic advertorial about the Westin Hotel. It reads like a cross between a marketing brochure and a spread in their annual shareholders report (maybe that is where it is from). The sputtering gasps of any credibility are finally reaching the end.

    1. Here’s a great piece by Rex Murphy:

      It seems like the ‘establishment’ media is dominated by a tribe of pro-corporate, pro-globalization, pro-finance cosmopolitans who envision the world as a giant shopping mall for the transnational rich and only take up the cause of poor people when necessary to destroy national identities and borders. That was a rare good John Oliver bit, but for the most part I have no respect left for his ilk.

    1. Continuing your theme, I found it inexplicable and unacceptable that Halifax-Needham Liberal candidate Dr. Rod Wilson declined Tim’s Examineradio interview invitation. With Halifax-Needham byelection so near, it spoke volumes. Above all, it reflects his effort and attitude toward public availability and accessibility.

      1. Funny hadn’t heard of the man until 2 weeks ago when my daughter said she and her roomies had him knock on the door and spent around 45 min on the topic of youth employment and affordable housing. Perhaps it is explicable and acceptable to go meet potential voters face to face. Particularly 20 somethings who normally aren’t all that impressed by the electoral process. sort of thinks volumes doncha think?
        Not necessarily a bad tactic to decline an interview with an adversarial publication that may not win you many votes or much attention (how is that for explicable?)

        1. In the age of spin and branding and message control those politicians who do not agree to a sitdown with an adversarial journalist should be turfed out of office or never elected in the first place.

          Journalists must DEMAND accountability from those who wish to serve us.

          Vote in the byelection and vote municipally in October.

          1. Voters should demand accountability. If a declined interview is your litmus test….vote the rascals out.

        2. I get your intent to chasten and slap me down personally, and I reject both. I choose to differ with an opinion, including yours, on the merits. Some politicians manage to campaign in person and use media, and if you’ve listened to the interview in question, and any previous ones Tim has conducted, they’re far from adversarial; in fact they’re “soft” as political interviews go. Good on Dr. Wilson for engaging with youth. Pols need to do more of it.

          1. wasn’t a personal slap at you. Just a differing viewpoint on whether anyone is obligated to do an interview with any journalist to get their message out. Many politicos decline interviews and of course since we all think they are devious or up to something the immediate response is that they are avoiding. Don’t believe it is always the case. I have listened to several but not all of his interviews. Again wasn’t meant as a slap and I apologize if my sloppy language/cheek came off that way, it was unintended. Adversarial, c’mon I think Tim pointed out himself that the party in power obviously takes the brunt of his ire, that’s the way it works and he hits all parties in power equally. Perhaps the good Dr. decided to take the pass this time. If it costs him the vote, he can regret at his leisure.