1. Sexual assault survivors and the police

A line drawing of a group of varied people, of different skin tones and genders, facing forward, looking very sombre. Above them are the words, "I was sexually assaulted and the police failed me."
Credit: Iris the Illustrator; models from Unsplash.

After the Halifax Examiner reported on Carrie Low’s experience and the story of a young woman who reported she was drugged at The Dome before being sexually assaulted, we wanted to know: Just how problematic are police investigations of sexual assaults?

So, we invited survivors of sexual assault to share their experiences and how the police handled their investigations. We assured them anonymity. And we heard from dozens of survivors. We’re still hearing from them.

We’re allowing these survivors to share their experiences through a series entitled “Survivors in their own words.” Some are short, one- or two-sentence paragraphs. Others are longer essays detailing the ins and outs of the police investigation.

We published the first of the series this morning, from a woman who was raped when she was in high school:

I first met with a male police officer. I asked one of my friends if she could come with me, as it was really hard for me to talk to any man alone, police or not. He asked me standard questions, and my memory was sad but foggy, due to trauma, but I remembered the core details. 

Once I had finished telling in graphic detail what had happened. He told me that he didn’t think anything would come of it. Said that there was no evidence, and by me going to hang out with him alone, and because we were friends, I probably sent him the wrong message. Pretty much telling me boys will be boys. 

I have no faith in police. If my rapist had been charged, investigated, it wouldn’t have repaired the damage. But he would have been gone. 

Click or tap here to read “Survivors in their own words: ‘police told me I pretty much asked to be raped.'”

If you are a survivor of sexual assault and would like to share your experiences with how the police handled your investigation, we’d be happy to hear from you. Anonymity is assured. Email

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2. Halifax schools sued for McNutt assaults

A white man in a winter coat and carrying a clear bag with some belongings in it leaves a building escorted by two white men in sheriff uniforms.

 Michael Patrick McNutt leaves Dartmouth provincial court on Jan. 24, 2019.
Michael Patrick McNutt leaves Dartmouth provincial court on Jan. 24, 2019. Credit: Zane Woodford

A Nova Scotia man has filed a lawsuit against the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) for sexual assaults he suffered in 1979. At the time, the man was a student at Sir Robert Borden Junior High School and Michael McNutt was a teacher at the school and a baseball coach.

In June 2020, McNutt pleaded guilty to 35 charges related to the sexual abuse of 35 boys from 1971 to 1987. The boys ranged in age from 10 to 15. As I reported:

According to the Agreed Statement of Facts, McNutt worked at “a permanent teaching position” at Sir Robert Borden Junior High from 1977 through 1983.

McNutt agreed that as a teacher at the school, he abused 10 different students at the school. Evidently, some adults became at least suspicious of the abuse: “As a result of parental complaints regarding his behaviour with students, he was given the opportunity to resign in 1983, which he did,” reads the Agreed Statement of Facts.

The Statement does not say that the parents knew the details of McNutt’s abuse of children. Nor does it say that school officials took any efforts to investigate McNutt, or to make police aware of any allegations. McNutt was simply allowed to resign.

Possibly, school officials thought that by allowing McNutt to resign, they were sparing students from suffering the public embarrassment of being named victims of sexual abuse. Possibly. It’s also the case, however, that by allowing McNutt to resign without calling in the police, the school authorities themselves would not have to suffer the embarrassment associated with having one of their teachers named as an abuser.

And so, with no apparent police investigation, McNutt could continue to abuse children.

In May 1985, McNutt was hired as a substitute teacher by the Halifax District School Board. While in that position, McNutt abused boys at St. Stephen’s Elementary, Westmont School, and St. Joseph’s–Alexander MacKay School.

McNutt may have worked at other schools. He worked as a substitute teacher until 1994, when a sexual offence complaint was made against him. Other court documents obtained by the Examiner show that McNutt was convicted in 1994 for some unnamed “similar offence,” and sentenced to three years probation. He later received a pardon for that conviction, and so it did not show up on criminal records checks.

While McNutt was a teacher, from 1977 to 1994, he additionally was the coach on many sports teams. The Agreed Statement of Facts lists some of them, but notes that there may be others; they are:

Sir Robert Borden Hockey Team
Pee Wee and Bantam football – Fort Needham Minor Football Association
Dartmouth Minor Baseball
Dartmouth Minor Baseball, Bantam A
Dartmouth Minor Baseball Team
Halifax Capitals Bantam C Hockey
Halifax Hockey
Summer Hockey League
Brunswick Invitational Hockey Tournament
Dartmouth Baseball Team
Halifax Capitals Hockey

The Halifax Examiner had previously obtained an investigative report about the McNutt case mistakenly released by the Halifax Regional Police Department. At the department’s request, we agreed not to make details of that report public. We will, however, note that it contains an allegation by a witness that McNutt was “removed” from his position with one of the sports organizations, presumably because its officials were aware of McNutt’s abuse of children. So far as can be determined, that organization did not call the police.

In other words, pass the trash: get rid of the criminal predator, but don’t call the cops as that will make your organization look bad, so just let him go work somewhere else and criminally prey on other kids.

But the damage never disappears. Most obviously, there are dozens, possibly hundreds of people victimized by McNutt still suffering. Some have died from suicide. Others became involved in the criminal justice system. Many have substance abuse issues. Many more have difficulty in their interpersonal and intimate relationships.

And thankfully, ultimately the institutions are not protecting themselves by passing the trash. One of the boys assaulted at Sir Robert Borden is the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed against HRCE. There have been other lawsuits against other organizations related to McNutt’s assaults, and I expect there will be still more.

We can’t just accept that, ‘oh well, this was a long time ago so why does it matter?’ because that will only signal to organizations today that they can cover up this type of criminal activity and if enough time passes, all good. Institutions must be held to account, even with the passing of time.

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3. Port Wallace won’t help the housing crisis or the climate crisis

A map shows a development plan, with different colours denoting different types of housing.
The site plan concept for Port Wallace as of September 2022. Credit: HRM/Clayton Developments

The housing crisis is so bad that the provincial government, in disaster capitalism mode, has used it as the excuse to override municipal planning regulations and procedures to create “special planning areas,” mostly owned by Clayton Developments.

One those special planning areas is the Port Wallace development, owned by Port Wallace Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of Clayton. In the entire area, there will be 3,700 new residential units, plus some commercial, industrial, and institutional (schools, fire stations) development.

That involves a lot of new public works — roads, intersections, water mains, sewage lines, storm water control, and so forth. And so Halifax Water needs to plan out how its portion of the public works will be built out, where the pipes go, what the capacity is, who pays for what, and so forth. As a result, the consultant CBCL created a report, the Port Wallace Capital Cost Contribution Analysis Baseline Study.

The Halifax Water part of the study is basically a dry technical engineering analysis that decides that rather than increasing the capacity of the sewage line and two pumping stations running south on Waverley Road, it makes more sense to build a new line north, to a pipe currently running alongside Highway 118, then pushing it on to Burnside. (The water supply will be met by simply installing a bigger pipe.)

But more interesting to me was the study’s analysis of traffic that will be generated by Port Wallace, as it gets both into the scale of development and some quite depressing assumptions about our transportation future.

First, the study assumes that there will be an average of 125 new residential units built per year, over 30 years. While the study declares that “125 units per year represents a significant portion of the annual average HRM new building permit applications and a substantial construction effort,” but can that be right?

A recent report says that HRM is processing 3,000 permits for new residential units annually, albeit that should be increased, so is 125 annually, or 4% of the total, really “significant”? That’s the equivalent of one new apartment tower built on the peninsula every year. Sure, we need all the housing we can get, but overriding municipal regulations on an arsenic-poisoned land seems a rather extreme approach for such limited gains. We can disagree.

Even more problematic, for me, is the study’s discussion of transportation. There are going to be bigger roads, and a new intersection on the Forest Hills Extension, plus some roundabouts and new traffic signals and the like, all designed for business-as-usual car traffic.

There is a section labelled ‘Trip Reduction,” which is just depressing:

An estimated buildout timeline of 30 years has been assumed for this development. As we are considering long term future planning for trip generation, there are a number of significant possibilities relating to transportation that we must include in our analysis. For the purposes of this analysis, we have examined AM and PM peak hours as they generally have more trips than any other time of the day.

Trip generation considerations included:

→ The number of jobs within Burnside Industrial Park and at the Halifax International Airport are likely to increase given the level of expansion being proposed at both locations;

→ Based on the rate of advances in vehicle technology, autonomous vehicles are potentially going to be on our roads within the 30 year buildout. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce car ownership as they may provide an on-demand transportation service without the need for private ownership. It is anticipated that this would operate in a similar way to a taxi service, so trips will be made to a specific destination. This could also reduce the requirement for parking space provision currently accommodated in new developments;

→ We also anticipate that a small percentage of people living within the site will also work at some of the shops and schools proposed as part of the multi-use development. These trips are classed as internal trips, and would not impact the surrounding existing road connections during peak hours;

→ We also considered trips by active transportation (AT) instead of by private vehicle. The proposed development includes AT trails, with connections to existing AT facilities around the site for walking and bicycling;

→ There are also opportunities to reduce the number of private vehicle trips by people choosing to use transit services to and from the site. The existing transit services routes 10, 54 and 55 that travel close to the Port Wallace development could potentially be altered to include a loop through the new development, or perhaps a new transit service could be offered based on sufficient demand. One way of helping to reduce private-and particularly single occupancy vehicle trips, would be to encourage the introduction of sustainable, reliable transit services to Burnside Industrial Park and Halifax International Airport. If demand was sufficient, perhaps consideration of a transit hub within the development could also be considered; and

→ We anticipate that some of the residents of the proposed development will be retired. The anticipation is that most residents will be families, and therefore are more likely to be making vehicle trips during the peak hours. However, another shift in traditional working and travel patterns could be that more people will be working from home in the future, or indeed able to work flexible hours to avoid travelling in peak hour traffic.

Assumed trip reduction rates were chosen based on the likelihood of trips not being made during peak hours. The reductions adopted are the same for both AM and PM peak hours due to this being a high level analysis.

Trip reduction rates include non-auto mode share (transit and AT trips) and internal trips. Residential trips were reduced by 27%. Commercial trips were reduced by 75% to account for site synergies. Industrial trips were not reduced.

From a comparison of the HRM and WSP reports, HRM’s Port Wallace Master Plan Area Travel Demand Modelling Report (2017) used 10% reduction for non-auto mode choice, and 75% reduction for neighborhood shopping and on site synergies. WSP’s Access Review on Proposed Residential Development – Port Wallace (2014) used 20% reduction for non-auto mode choice and 75% reduction for neighborhood shopping and on site synergies.

At full buildout, the Port Wallace development is expected to generate 2,450 net external vehicle trips during the AM peak hour, and 3,050 net external vehicle trips during the PM peak hour.Based on our analysis, we found that after the trip reductions and non-auto mode choice factors were applied, the adjusted external trips are similar to the HRM and WSP estimates of adjusted trip generation.

Do I need to say this?: None of this will happen. Autonomous cars are always two years away, but even if they do miraculously arrive, they will add to traffic, not decrease it. Transit won’t just show up; you have to spend money on the infrastructure for it, including buying buses and reserving land for terminals, etc. People will walk on their nearby ATV trail, but they’re not going to walk to their jobs in Burnside and at the airport. And on and on.

When I read the study, what I see is simply business as usual. Port Wallace, like every other suburban development, will rely almost entirely on cars. And a society that relies almost entirely on cars — no matter if they’re electric vehicles or robotaxis — cannot possibly make greenhouse gas emission reductions to the degree necessary.

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4. Northern Pulp bankruptcy and pension obligations

Northern Pulp Mill at night.
Photo courtesy of Tony DeCoste Photo-Video

Today is the deadline for a proposed settlement in the Northern Pulp bankruptcy case to be submitted to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, but Northern Pulp has asked for an extension to Nov. 30. There have been nine previous extensions granted by the court, so even though the extension must be approved at a hearing today, there’s little doubt that the court will grant it.

The petition for the extension notes that “there is sufficient liquidity in the Subordinate Interim Financing Facility to make necessary pension payments during the Stay extension. No milestones have occurred that would trigger special pension payments.”

That’s not our understanding of the pension situation. As Joan Baxter reported in May:

As the Halifax Examiner reported here, Nova Scotia’s Superintendent of Pensions refused to attend Friday’s hearing, as he did the previous hearing in October 2022. In a written submission, he said everything in his April 2022 response to the court still stands.

In that response, the superintendent expressed concern that Northern Pulp had not paid special defined benefit pension contributions due in 2020 ($342,267), in 2021 ($3.34 million), or in 2022 ($3.34 million). “The Superintendent continues to harbour serious concerns with the failure to make contributions in respect of the post-2020 Special Pension Payments,” said his response to the court last year. This failure, the superintendent wrote, “is contrary to law.”

A positive read on the extension request is that the province is refusing to acquiesce to Northern Pulp’s demands. But we really don’t know.

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5. Police Review Board hearing

A man in a police uniform looks at the camera. His left hand hand is raised to the top of his collar.
Halifax Regional Police Const. Jason Wilson at a Police Review Board hearing in Dartmouth on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Credit: Zane Woodford

“A fourth Halifax Regional Police officer testified Tuesday at a Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing that started last year,” reports Zane Woodford:

Susan Doman complained about Halifax Regional Police Const. Jason Wilson after he arrested her in April 2021. She also sued the police.

The police originally disciplined Wilson after an internal investigation, issuing a penalty of 40 hours suspension and ordering use of force training. Wilson appealed, and before the hearing was to start last year, HRP reversed the decision. But Doman wanted the hearing to go forward anyway, and the board agreed.

Click or tap here to read “Fourth officer testifies at Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing into 2021 arrest.”

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6. Serval

A giant cat has its front paws on a stone wall, looking at a tiny cat on top of the wall.
A serval was having a word with a house cat in Armdale last Sunday night. Credit: Rachael Smith via the CBC

“An exotic cat that was spotted roaming the streets of a Halifax community on Sunday has been captured and is now in custody of the Department of Natural Resources,” reports Cassidy Chisholm for the CBC.

The exotic cat was a serval, which Chisholm explains is native to grasslands, open forests and marshes in sub-Saharan Africa, and is not typically found in Nova Scotia.” Animal control captured the creature Monday afternoon. Chisholm continues:

Rob Laidlaw, the founder of Zoocheck, an Ontario-based charity that promotes the protection and well-being of wild and exotic animals, said servals are listed as prohibited under Nova Scotia’s Wildlife Act and cannot be kept as pets.

However, Laidlaw said, it’s possible the serval was purchased from a breeder in Ontario, which doesn’t have any regulations on owning exotic animals, and was brought to Nova Scotia as a pet — which is also illegal.

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Conservatives and climate change

A firefighter walks past a home destroyed by a wildfire in Hammond’s Plains, N.S., during a media tour, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/POOL, Tim Krochak

“It wasn’t just people from the Northwest Territories and the Okanagan Valley who have recently had their lives disrupted,” writes Richard Starr:

The latest outbreak of wildfires that has added to the record destruction of our forests and forced some 50,000 people to flee their homes also inconvenienced Pierre Poilievre and his Conservative party (aka the PPC – Pierre Poilievre Conservatives). Last week, the PPCs had to postpone their campaign against carbon pricing.  

The PPCs had planned an “axe the tax rally,” featuring Poilievre, for last Monday in Campbell River, B.C., a community about 500 kilometres west of the latest major outbreak in the Okanagan. The news release on the cancellation in Campbell River also announced that Poilievre rallies in Terrace, B.C. (with a wildfire about 200 km away) and Yukon (over 100 active wildfires at last count) were also put on the back burner, so to speak.

Just as the United States is enduring a split between reality and the Trumpian Big Lie about a stolen election, Canadian politics is becoming polarized between those who want to ignore the causes and effects of climate change and the rest of us who want to see action against a real threat to our future on this planet.

Further evidence of the PPC’s head-in-the-sand climate views emerged from a recent EKOS poll conducted for two environmental groups, Nature Canada and the Natural Resources Defence Council. EKOS reported that a combined nine out of ten Liberal, NDP, Green and Bloc supporters see climate change as a primary contributor to wildfires. But in response to the question “to what extent do you believe climate change is responsible for the surge in wildfires this year,” only 24 per cent of self-identified Conservative voters chose to a “high extent.” … The poll also asked who or what “holds responsibility” for wildfires, and 49 per cent of Conservative voters blamed arsonists.

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No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

05:00: Contship Art, container ship, moves from Fairview Cove to Bedford Basin anchorage
06:15: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from anchorage to Fairview Cove
12:00: Rita M, oil tanker, moves from Imperial Oil to anchorage
12:00: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
16:00: MSC Sariska, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
17:15: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint-Pierre
18:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to anchorage
18:00: Valeria, bulker, sails from Pier 27 for sea
20:00: Glenda Melissa, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from IJmuiden, Netherlands
21:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia

Cape Breton
04:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Halifax
12:30: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
13:00: AlgoScotia sails for sea
15:00: Blue Moon, Dead Dick Duchossois’s yacht, moves from Marble Mountain to Ben Eoin, then to St. Peter’s


It’s warm and sunny where I am. I’m going to go for a long walk 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 report talks about both autonomous vehicles and busses as if they were outside factors, when one of those is perfectly within the control of the city. Sure, AVs might become the norm within the next 30 years (whether or not they actually solve any of our problems), but we could improve bus service tomorrow if we actually cared to.

  2. Why don’t they approach these new “developments” with the idea that they will be 15-minute cities? Places where everything you need will be within 15 minutes walk or bike ride. Rather than highways to accommodate private vehicles, a sensible network of public transit linking to other nodes and also providing convenient transportation into the city. There’s really no need to have everyone live on the peninsula and inside the circumferential. We can have smaller communities which are productive, not just bedroom suburbs with everyone still working in the city. Of course we might have to abandon the idea that places like Dartmouth X and the Blip are ideal shopping locales. Doubt any of this will fly with the current overlords.

  3. The Northern Pulp court appointed mediator appears to be working under total secrecy. Does this mean the reasoning will never be shared with Northern Pulp, the Province of NS, the NS Supreme Court (where the $450 million claim was filed), nor the Cdn Supreme Court?

  4. The CBCL study for Port Wallace determines infrastructure upgrading needs with  estimated costs and allocates these costs between the developers and HRM.  However, since this is a “special planning area” for which HRM Regional Council has no approval authority for the development,why should HRM be paying for upgrading costs?  Shouldn’t  these costs be totally assumed by the Province?   And how would this work if HRM has to pay the costs?  Would Regional Council just be given the bill and ordered to pay it?
    The costs are substantial even without a road connection between the development and the Forest Hills Connector which CBCL seems to have concluded is not needed to support this development.  It’s a good thing for the developers that  public consultations are  not required.

  5. It is time for legislators to consider a law that will penalize any organization which is found to have failed to report sexual abuse due to fear of corporate embarrassment. We certainly saw that protectionist attitude with minor sports organizations. In every case I can think of, the organizations chose to try and hush things up and only exacerbated the abuse. This needs a law to fix.

  6. Halifax Examiner – In other words, pass the trash: get rid of the criminal predator, but don’t call the cops as that will make your organization look bad, so just let him go work somewhere else and criminally prey on other kids.
    If this is factual you the Halifax Examiner and the Halifax Police assist with the coverup by not reporting this organization. So much for transparency, responsibility and accountability; not a good look for both!

    1. We’ve repeatedly reported that the Halifax school district didn’t alert the police to McNutt. Probably a dozen times I’ve pointed that out.

  7. We know how to build cities that people actually want to live in where cars are not needed. People spend big money flying to Europe or other places to go gawk at them for a week before flying back to their suburban home or tower-and-parking-lot hellscape. To the extent that desirable walkable real estate exists in North America, it is in incredibly high demand and eye-wateringly expensive.

    The particulate emissions from tires on asphalt are a huge problem all by themselves, and electric cars are worse because they weigh more for a given size.

    1. Municipal planners don’t seem to have gotten the memo. Stop planning around cars. Support planning which eliminates the need for single occupancy vehicle transportation. It’s not rocket science. Incorporate park and ride lots into new developments and instruct transit to create routes not “determine demand” and only respond if there are demonstrated volumes.

      1. Agree wholeheartedly! Would add that you need to include active transportation infrastructure in the planning process – wide sidewalks with good lighting; trails through green spaces; as well as access to public washrooms and/or a source of drinking water. Cars will likely always have their place but it is time that those who choose to get around using a different method of transportation are given equal priority.

    2. A hundred percent! It’s very worrying to see electric cars being touted as a solution to the climate crisis. We need to work towards lessening the need for car ownership rather than encouraging it.

      1. The problem is transit. I own a car because my commute
        (one way) to work is under 20 minutes by car and over 90 minutes by bus.

        Additionally, there is no realistic way to enjoy the best of the HRM (other than the Dartmouth/Halifax waterfront) without a car.

        It has been a long damn time since I’ve taken transit, but I’ve never had a mentally ill man who smells like poop try and talk to me about his binder full of hockey cards while driving my car.