This date in history
On campus
In the harbour


1. The Ponair defeats the Donair

Officially a waste of time and money
Officially a waste of time and money

There are much more important issues on tomorrow’s Halifax council agenda — a contract extension for Mirror NS to run the dump (to be voted on in secret), a “Statement of Reconciliation” with aboriginal people, spending $50,000 on a fence that will somehow convince CN not to blow the train whistle in downtown Dartmouth, and renaming a part of the old Highway 7 “Old Preston Road” — but the issue that got national attention is whether or not to declare the donair the “Official Food” of Halifax.

City staff said Neigh! to donairs.

It’s not true, as Global and CBC reported, that city staff prepared a “43-page report” on donairs. Rather, staffer Maggie MacDonald sensibly wrote a terse three-page report, with just three sentences of “discussion,” as follows:

In the absence of detailed staff analysis, including consideration of supporting processes to identify and evaluate other official foods or other official features, staff would not put forward a recommendation for a proclamation. It is at Council’s discretion to direct a proclamation by the Mayor.

There is nothing to prevent Regional Council from recognizing the donair and drawing attention to it by directing the Mayor to make a proclamation declaring the donair the official food of Halifax.

The other 40 pages included in the council packet were the reams of donair propaganda and other nonsense submitted by councillor Linda Mosher, who seems to have an obsession with artery-hardening, leathery, over-cooked meat slathered with sugary milk.

As for the mayor, Mike Savage told Metro yesterday that he’s not interested:

“It’s a serious thing, I get that, but it’s not that serious to me, and I don’t think it’s something that council is going to spend a lot of time worrying about,” Savage said.


Savage said if council wants him to make the proclamation, he will, but other matters are “more pressing.”

Ponair 1, Donair 0.

2. Better Off Dead: Examineradio, episode #38

Better Off Dead cover

This week we speak with Canadian Armed Forces veteran Fred Doucette, who after serving numerous peacekeeping tours in Cyprus and Bosnia, returned home to New Brunswick and was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. In the years since, Doucette has become a tireless and articulate advocate for his fellow military personnel who are coming home with a disease too few senior brass are willing to recognize.

Doucette’s second book, Better Off Dead: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and The Canadian Armed Forces, was recently released by Nimbus Publishing.

Also, tired of being bullied by the McNeil government, Nova Scotia teachers punched back, soundly rejecting an offer even their union leaders recommended they accept.

And another Nova Scotia Business Inc.-financed venture, Intellivote, is bleeding red ink. Unfortunately, they’re also the company awarded the contract to handle electronic voting in the upcoming municipal by-election and the 2016 general election. City staffers are looking at a plan to have all votes submitted via Snapchat instead. Or maybe Tinder.

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

3. Pedestrian struck

A police release:

At 9:26 p.m. on Friday, December 4, Halifax Regional Police responded to Barrington Street at Prince Street for a report of a pedestrian/vehicle collision. A 57- year-old man was getting into a parked car on the east side of Barrington Street when a Transit bus, which was travelling north on Barrington Street, struck the man as it went by the parked car. The man was taken to hospital by ambulance for treatment of non-life-threating injuries. No one else was injured. The matter remains under investigation.

4. The war on pedestrians

There’s a “Repeal $697 Pedestrian Fines” Facebook group.

I won’t get fully into it now, but it’s worth noting that people who are ticketed for texting while driving receive a mere $237.50 fine.

Also, there’s a misconception that crossing the street mid-block is “jay-walking.” It’s not. It’s perfectly legal — and some would say safer (it depends) — to cross the street mid-block, so long as you don’t (gasp!) impede the flow of traffic.

I’ve said it before, but mucking around with long-established rules of the road and the pedestrian right-of-way makes things less safe, not safer. Because people will change their behaviour in ways that were unintended (more unexpected mid-block crossing for pedestrians, and less attention to pedestrians from drivers who will feel empowered by the changes), increasing the pedestrian fines will result in more people getting struck by cars, not fewer.

5. Medical residents

Medical residents have ratified a contract offer from the province, the premier’s office announced in a release Friday:

The new contract includes an agreement on wages of zero increase in the first two years, 2014 and 2015; a 1 per cent increase on July 1, 2016; a 1.5 per cent increase on July 1, 2017 and a .5 per cent increase on June 30, 2018.

Negotiations began on May 8, and the parties met for four days. The agreement covers about 385 medical residents in Nova Scotia, and 540 in the Maritimes.

The new agreement expires on June 30, 2018.

6. Fire

Photo: Brent Wagner via the CBC
Photo: Brent Wagner via the CBC

“A fire has destroyed a building under construction on Maitland Street in Halifax,” reports the CBC:

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency were called to the three-storey structure at around 2:40 Monday morning.

“It’s pretty substantial. The three-storey building was fully involved which means fire on every floor and then the roof area. And where it was under construction, it didn’t take long for it to collapse,” said Brad Connors, acting division commander with Halifax fire. 

This is a block away from 5426 Portland Place, which was destroyed by fire on September 14, 2014; that building contained the offices of RCR Hospitality Group and National Art Limited, among other tenants. Fifteen months later, the Portland Place fire remains under investigation and is not in the fire department’s listing of investigation summaries.


1. Teachers

Stephen Kimber surveys the McNeil’s government relations with public employee unions and notes that McNeil made no effort to work with unions:

Instead, borrowing a now-tattered page from the Stephen Harper Playbook, Stephen McNeil had decided from his government’s beginnings to make public sector workers the enemy.


Thanks largely to Stephen McNeil’s approach, his government is facing a winter of labour discontent.

The Stephen Harper Playbook seems to be playing less well these days.



Police Commission (12:30pm, City Hall) — Inspector Jim Butler will make a presentation on Body Worn Cameras for police. The Examiner will have a report on the issue after the meeting.

Grant Committee (1pm, City Hall) — staff is developing procedures for the Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Grants Program.


No public meetings.

This date in history

On December 7, 1827, the first steam engine in Canada began operating in Stellarton on the Albion Railway.

On campus


Evolutionary inference (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building Link) — Jeffrey L. Thorne, from North Carolina State University, will speak on “Incorporating disease data and interlocus gene conversion into evolutionary inference.”

Reframing the Montreal Massacre (Central Library, 6:45pm) — “Created in 1995 in the pre-digital video days of A/B roll editing, this educational video about media literacy examines the media’s shaping of the Montréal Massacre to deconstruct media representations of violence, trauma and gender“:

[Reframing the Montreal Massacre] will be followed by a program of shorts entitled “Grey Areas:” Sometimes sexual orientation is as simple as realizing whom you are attracted to, but for some it is more complicated than that. Societal expectations, fear, and the given circumstances can all hinder a person’s ability to figuring out who they are. Six short films explore this idea, while looking at sexuality in different cultures and different time periods. 

Soil (7pm, Museum of Natural History, Marine Gallery) — David Burton will speak on “Soil: Where Earth, Water, Fire and Air Meet.”


There were a bunch of skateboarders at the new Dartmouth Skateboard Park yesterday. I don’t suppose that’s particularly unexpected, but I guess the thing is open now.

In the harbour

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

CMA CGM Vivaldi, Yantian, container ship, China to Pier 41, sails to sea at 5pm

The US warship, the USS Milwaukee, sails today


Mondays are horrible for cranky letters. Sorry.

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

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  1. Since we’re all for encouraging tourism, perhaps I should pitch the government on an engagement program to let visitors know about our proposed pedestrian fines. We will have world-class fines!

  2. Dear TIM,

    While I sympathise with your efforts to protect SENSIBLE pedestrians from being sledgehammered with ridiculously huge fines, I have to take exception to your constant demonizing of ALL motorists. There’s FAULT on BOTH SIDES. What is needed is a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD which makes BOTH parties responsible for their often anti-social «ENTITLEMENT» behaviours. Pedestrians can EASILY OUT-see and OUT-maneuver motorists in many situations but deliberately take actions which forces a motorist into an emergency-maneuver situation which ends up traumatizing the hapless motorist, left him with perhaps traumatized passengers, and even expensive damage to his vehicle. Meanwhile the pedestrian RESPONSIBLE for the mayhem sashays off, anonymous and untouched by the hand of the law.
    FAIR is FAIR, but there’s a distinct tilt on THIS playing field.

      1. Actually, you don’t demonize *all* motorists *all* of the time; but, you do it most of the time…and to the point of irritation. If you’re wondering *where* that comes from… read your own copy for fuck’s sake.

    1. I dunno. When pedestrians start weighing more than one tonne, have exterior metal cladding, engineered active and passive safety features, then we can speak of level playing fields. In every instance that I can recall in this fair city, when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, never have the vehicle occupants been transported to the hospital with injuries, non-life threatening or otherwise.

      Last week I was stopped at a red light (Cobequid at Glendale facing north in the middle lane going straight) while a pedestrian crossed on the signal. Meanwhile the driver of a pickup attempted to turn south on Cobequid from Glendale. I had my hand ready to hit the horn ’cause it looked like the driver didn’t “see” the pedestrian as they were focused on a break in the oncoming traffic. It’s not a level playing field when drivers get lesser fines than pedestrians for breaking the regulations, while the consequences of a “collision” are significantly worse for one of the parties.

      Mind you, when I’m driving at night, and I can barely see the black clad pedestrians, it scares me too.

  3. Thanks for the Fire Investigation Summaries link, that’s handy. I’d always wondered what had been determined about the Rani’s Curry fire, and I can see there it’s just “undetermined”. The place had been recently under new ownership before the fire, and the food had gone from pretty good to literally inedible (like, I really had to throw out disgusting takeout after a few bites). So always seemed a little suspicious.