1. Barho family

The Barho family. Photo: Ummah Masjid And Community Center/ Facebook

Yesterday morning’s fire is a terrible tragedy. Police issued this release at around 11:30am:

Following this morning’s fire on Quartz Drive in Spryfield, Halifax Regional Police and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency confirm that there are seven fatalities resulting from the incident. All deceased are believed to be young children from the same family. A woman and a man remain in hospital.

Multiple calls of a fire in a residence were received early this morning. Police and Fire personnel responded promptly, and encountered heavy fire on the first and second floors of the house. The fire was contained shortly thereafter. Our first responders collaborated to respond to the fire and we are deeply saddened by this loss.

The victims were the Barho family, who are Syrian refugees initially resettled in Elmsdale, and who recently moved to Spryfield.

The Ummah Masjid And Community Center post the following on its Facebook page:

Please pray for this family, for the father to survive, for the wife to be ok soon, for these little kids to Rest In Peace.

Their funeral will be held at the Ummah Mosque as soon as we get the bodies released. Will keep you updated.

Abdullah, he was only 4 months old.
Rana, she was 3 years old.
Hala, she was 4 years old.
Ghala, she was 8 years old.
Mohammed, he was 10 years old.
Rola, she was 12 years old.
Ahmed, he was 15 years old.

Because many friends are willing to donate any money that goes toward the family afterwards, it was decided to proceed with a go fund me campaign. Please follow the link below, spread the word and share the link with friends.

Please tap to donate…

Imam Abdallah Hussein

The parents are Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho; Ebraheim is badly burned and is “fighting for his life after apparently trying in vain to save his children.”

This CBC article has photos of the children.

I can’t imagine the pain for Kawthar Barho, the neighbours, the first responders, the broader community… it’s a horrible, horrible thing.

2. Sexual abuse

Mipham Mukpo

I’m getting bombarded with email about the allegations of sexual and other abuse at Shambhala International. Some tell me I shouldn’t write about it unless I familiarize myself and practice Shambhala teachings, which is an utterly absurd sentiment. Others are of the “yes, but what about…” variety.

It’s apparent that the community is in crisis.

There are also at least two more publicly published letters — one from Mipham Mukpo’s council, and one from Diana Mukpo, Trungpa’s widow. Interestingly, the council says it hasn’t heard from Mipham Mukpo in eight months.

Sort of relatedly, I’m a member of a couple of Facebook groups from Catholic schools from my childhood. I don’t much participate in them, mostly just watch. One of them — the page for my parochial school — started discussing the sexual abuse allegations in the diocese, and the school actually tried to shut down the group. The group’s moderator prevailed with Facebook, but the incident was telling, I think. The conversation continued. I should add, most on the group are devoted Catholics (I am not), and seem sensibly progressive in their attitudes.

Anyway, last week the Catholic Diocese of Richmond (Virginia) published a list of priests who have had credible allegations of sexual abuse levied against them. The publication of the list comes just before what is expected to be a much larger list made in expected indictments from the Virginia Attorney General’s office.

At least four priests on the diocese’s list were at my parish when I was a kid. One of them went on to become a bishop. People in the Facebook group are openly saying that a fifth priest (one I quite remember) was also an abuser, as was a lait person associated with the church. I was never the target of abuse or any other bad behaviour, and never knew it was directed at others around me, but I see now the pain and anger in people who I knew when we were kids.

I say burn it all down. I know this goes against doctrine, but there’s nothing particularly sacred about the Catholic Church or the Shambhala organization. There are undoubtedly good and worthwhile things associated with both organizations, but those good and worthwhile things can be carried forward without the perverse institutional structures that harboured and covered up sexual abuse.

Figure out how to do good and worthwhile things without carrying the institutional baggage.

3. Yarmouth ferry

A photo of the Alakai, the ship used for the Yarmouth ferry.
The Alakai. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The company the Nova Scotia government is paying to run a ferry service to Maine has signed a $1.3-million lease with the Town of Bar Harbor to use its ferry terminal for the next five years,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:

Bay Ferries will pay Bar Harbor a minimum of $264,000 a year to lease the terminal, which was last used a decade ago. 

Nova Scotia taxpayers are on the hook to upgrade the facility, fix the dock and build a new loading ramp — but the company won’t discuss those plans and has asked the province to keep quiet about them, too.

Gotta keep those ferry dock plans secret for competitive reasons — some other ferry company might land a $10 million annual contract with the province and start running a second ferry to Bar Harbor that competes with the Bay Ferries ferry.

4. Prison deaths

A prisoner named Calvin Kenny has died unexpectedly in the Atlantic Institution in Renous, New Brunswick. No further details are available at this time.

I’m also hearing there was a death of a prisoner in solitary confinement at the Springhill prison; I have no further details on that, either.

5. Keith Colwell went to Tasmania

And got his photo in the Tasmanian press.

6. Common Roots

“Halifax’s Common Roots Urban Farm is looking to move from its current spot at Robie Street and Bell Road to a green space by the Bicentennial Highway at Bayers Road,” reports Anjuli Patil for the CBC:

“Once that site is approved by city council, if that can happen, then I’m going to be really relieved and excited,” said Jayme Melrose, the farm’s business developer. “I think that it’s a good site, I think it will be a surprisingly good site.”

Melrose said Bi-Hi Park is an ideal location because it’s close to some of the farm’s users in the Fairview and Clayton Park neighbourhoods as well as MetroWorks — a new partner organization for the farm.

Still, the park isn’t big enough for the whole garden. There are currently 200 plots at the location by the Halifax Infirmary.

“We’re going to have to cleave into a few different pieces, but it’s big enough to hold our headquarters. So we’ll be able to have a gathering place and our education market gardens there,” Melrose said.

I think that’ll work for the farm. I like that it’s in that neighbourhood.

Here’s what is probably an unpopular view: Bi-Hi Park and the adjoining block (which holds 10 houses which would’ve obviously needed to have been expropriated and razed) between the two arms of the on- and off-ramps of the BiHi should’ve been the site of the new Mumford Terminal. It’s right next to the rail line, so the terminal could’ve also served as a commuter rail stop. Additionally, the site is well placed to serve the Bayers Road buses, lots of people living nearby in social housing, and all of Fairview.

But the decision to rebuild the Mumford Terminal right where it is across from the Halifax Shopping Centre has already been made, so my probably unpopular view won’t be considered.

7. Lake Banook development appeal

A rendering of the approved project; the actual building will undoubtedly look nothing like this.

Jeff Weatherhead has lost his challenge to the Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council’s approval for the development of an eight-storey building at 307 Prince Albert Road (at the corner of Glenwood Avenue, the site of the former funeral home across from the Superstore).

Weatherhead, a lawyer who lives in the neighbourhood, appealed the Council’s decision to the Utility and Review Board. Yesterday, the UARB published a decision dismissing Weatherhead’s appeal. You can read the decision here.

8. No Black people in the Black neighbourhood

Speaking of buildings looking nothing like the renderings that promote them…

Thanks to @HalifaxReTales for alerting me to this.

Joseph Arab has submitted an application to the city to build a 16-storey apartment building behind Victoria Hall on Gottingen Street. The building will face Creighton Street.

A white woman standing in front of Uniacke Square and a white man walking by contemplate the lovely new building for white people.
Two white people walk in front of Uniacke Square while two white women push a white baby in a carriage across the street, all bathing in the enhanced property values of the new building for white people.
A happy white couple share a laugh while a hipster white bicyclist peddles the wrong way down one-way Creighton Street.

No matter what you think of the proposed development, can we all agree that the person/persons who drew up the renderings for this proposal need to do a better job?

This proposed development is a literal stone’s throw from Uniacke Square, and on Creighton Street, a historically Black neighbourhood that still is home to many Black people, and yet the three renderings presented to the city for consideration show 10 people, all of whom are white; nary a Black person in sight.

This is not a mistake: the development is being marketed towards a certain demographic, and that demographic evidently does not include the Black people who actually already live in the neighbourhood. Black people are unwelcome.


1. Doctors

“The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), self-described as “an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides essential information on Canada’s health systems” issued its latest report on Canadian physicians earlier this month,” writes Richard Starr:

The report provides detailed data on, among other things, how many doctors there are and how much they are paid.

Given that those two issues have been prominent in the political debate that’s been swirling in Nova Scotia ever since the Liberal campaign promise of a family doctor for everyone, the latest data from CIHI should be of considerable interest, especially for opposition politicians.

On physician supply, CIHI reports that in 2017 there were 256.6 physicians per 100,000 population in Nova Scotia, the highest ratio of any province, and significantly above the national average of 234.4. But in terms of fulfilling the election promise, the numbers are moving in the wrong direction. In 2013, when the McNeil Liberals made the ill-considered commitment, the ratio was even higher – 260.9 doctors for every 100,000 people.

As previously reported, the “family docs for all” was one of three big health care promises from the Liberals in 2013. Another one that has come back to haunt them is the replacement of  nine district health authorities with one large one. Two years ago, before the 2017 provincial election, the jury was still out on how that would work out. But post-election, dire predictions that centralization would cause all kinds of problems seem to be coming true.

The amalgamation robbed attention from the deterioration of front line service, evident in the increase in those lacking access to a regular health care provider. And it has not delivered on the promise to reduce Nova Scotia’s historically bloated health administration costs. I wrote about this chronic problem back in 2015 as the Liberals were embarking upon their misbegotten health care centralization voyage.




Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 11am, City Hall) — minor issues on the agenda.


Bus Stop Theatre. Photo: Facebook

Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — the Bus Stop Theatre is looking for government assistance:

[T]he Bus Stop Theatre Cooperative proposes a five year project that will entail the purchase of the properties in question, as well as the expansion of its facilities to include a new second performance space, two new rehearsal/gathering halls and new office space for arts organizations and non-profits. This project will require funding support from all levels of government and the private sector. The first and critical phase of this project is the purchase of the properties before the end of this year.

Also, Lake Banook will host the 2022 World Sprint Canoe Championships, and so a group called Canoe ’22 is looking to upgrade the various racing facilities on and near the park. The unsigned letter to the committee reads:

To improve the already highly regarded but dated Lake Banook competition course (Field of Play) and Back of House Facilities (surrounding shoreline areas of Lake Banook). To rival and exceed the best water sport facilities in the World.

We are thinking of this planning project the way we would think if we were building a stadium. The project will include infrastructure scope that covers the entire area around the lake:

  • Race course: buoy system, start lines, start towers, return lane
  • Parks: Grahams Grove Park, Birch Cove Park, Oakwood Park
  • Buildings: judges tower, annex
  • Docks
  • Power and Information Technology – wifi, fibre network, media network, power, video distribution and presentation
  • Spectator area on Prince Albert Road
  • Medal presentation area

Public Information Meeting – Case 21880 (Thursday, 7pm, South End Baptist Church, 60 Hastings Drive, Dartmouth) — Application by T.A. Scott Architecture and Design Limited requesting to enter into a development agreement for two six-storey mixed-use buildings at 358-364 Portland Street, Dartmouth, and to rezone lands and enter into a development agreement for one four-storey residential building at 36 A Rodney Road, Dartmouth. Case website.



Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Does anyone care anymore? Isn’t the whole point to make us not pay attention? In any event, they’ll be talking about some things IWK.


No public meetings.

On campus



Fungal Hydrophobin self-assembly has a basis in shared structural features (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Calem Kenward will talk.


D’Arcy Wilson. Photo: Twitter

The Memorialist: Keynote Address (Thursday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — from the listing:

…a performance that accompanies the exhibition The Memorialist by D’Arcy Wilson. Departing from the lecture hall as a traditional site of knowledge exchange and academic research, Wilson employs the podium to deliver a lecture about the first public zoo in North America: Andrew Downs’ Zoological Gardens. Yet, facts break down into storytelling, oscillating between truth and whimsy, while addressing Andrew Downs’ early ideals of wildlife conservation. The hour-long PowerPoint is comprised of imagery and new media created and collected by Wilson, that laments the colonial mistreatment of nature, presenting narratives of conflicting care and harm that fueled the artist’s research.

Free admission, limited seating. Reception with cash bar to follow in the Gallery, with a community welcome to Laura Ritchie, Director/Curator of MSVU Art Gallery. Facebook event here.

In the harbour

Just one ship today:

15:30: Glorious Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for parts unknown. (Unknown to me, but probably it’s heading to that Autoport down in Rhode Island. On my long list of things to do is to get a regular itinerary for the car carriers.)


I’ll be on the Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.

We have quite a few articles in the mix for the next few days. One of those is my own sprawling story, which I’ve been working on since New Year’s Day; I’m hoping to get it published tomorrow morning, but I’ve said that before…

The Halifax Examiner is an advertising-free, subscriber-supported news site. Your subscription makes this work possible; please subscribe.

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

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. Are there so many more doctors per person in Nova Scotia (although dwindling) because of the comparative size of the large regional hospital based in Halifax (co-located with the university), compared to the size of the rest of the province? Like, we have a critical mass of specialists versus other provinces? I mean, Ontario has huge hospital centres too but they also have a giant population to balance against that.

    Do the stats break out number of family doctors / general MDs?

    1. Halifax also looks after a lot of the Maritimes (and even Newfoundland) via specialty care. 3/4 of those mds are salaried (which allows greater time for reasearch/teaching/administration at the expense of volume patient care). We also have the oldest province and tend to be a retirement destination.

  2. To be clear. It was not Councillor Smith who asked if there were other elected officials at Rutland’s excellent presentation. It was either Rutland himself or someone else in the packed audience. Bottom line: Councillor Smith was there. And the absence of his peers was DULY NOTED.

    1. Councillor Smith seems truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. He has to prove that he can speak for all citizens of HRM (all lives matter) but is also the first black councillor in god knows how long. He is to provide representation for a ridiculously maligned group of citizens (black lives matter) with an expectation that they may finally have a champion at city hall, that historic and long standing grievances may finally be addressed.

      How do you represent the historically underrepresented without alienating and perhaps threatening the historically privileged parts of society. He seems to be doing a great, if unenviable job.

      The solution seems pretty obvious – more Lindell Smiths.

  3. Concordia University Professor Ted Rutland has written the DEFINITIVE and I mean DEFINITIVE book on the myriad ways the white powers-that-be have demonized, kicked to the curb, humiliated, disrespected, infantilized, de-valued and quite literally TRASHED (via Municipal dump trucks) African Nova Scotians for generations. Released last year to richly deserved acclaimed, the book is titled DISPLACING BLACKNESS: Planning, Power, and Race in Twentieth-Century Halifax.

    Note to HRM elected officials: Correct me if I’m wrong. But Councillor Lindell Smith is the ONLY one of your “cohort” that I saw at Rutland’s November (I believe it was) presentation at the Central Library. He asked if there were other elected officials in the house and a few folks raised their hand. But from what i could tell, none of them were from HRM.

    From Rutland’s introduction: “While Halifax planners’ horrific overt war against the Mi’kmaq has ceased, the city’s significant and longstanding Black population … has experienced modern planning as an unyielding source of imperilment and plunder.”

    Politicians, community activists and everyday people willing to do the hard work of bridging the vast racial, socioeconomic, and cultural divide in Halifax (as did Councillor Smith) are poised to transform HRM into its BEST SELF.

    Instead, we’ve been sacked with WHITE police chiefs who proclaim to need “proof” of systemic racism, WHITE university administrators who co-sign (whether they cop to it or not) on Blackface, WHITE CFL flimflam men who are deluded (apparently) enough to think that they can float one outrageous taxpayer price for a football stadium, then reduce it (wow, what a great idea Mayor Savage), without some of us taking note that the majority of the prospective ATLANTIC SCHOONERS are likely to be of the exact same hue as the “dark-skinned people” (many from HRM) who were subject to racial profiling earlier this month in Parliament. An offence for which the House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan was yesterday compelled to issue an apology.

    Were it not for the fact that this shit is continuous, I’d ask: “What fresh hell is this?” But this shit ain’t new.
    On the upside, it’s a truism that “what’s done in the dark is revealed in the light.” Today, more than ever.
    Just ask Justin Trudeau.

  4. I agree that the renderings appear to be racist and the powers that be don’t want black folks around but more so they don’t want poor people. Yuck! Customs brews and bespoke suits only please.

  5. The lady in the first photo is not white,she looks like a person of colour. The male is white and his knuckles and neck clearly show him as white. The lady has dark skinned body and black hair
    Why have an urban farm next to a busy road with vehicle emissions landing on produce ? More pollution for those in the Gottingen Street area than people living near a landfill.

    1. I also thought the lady in the first picture was not white. When I saw the pictures on Twitter my first thought was “they only put one non-white person in this black neighbourhood?”