Just as the Soviets airbrushed Nikolai Yezhov, Stalin’s head of secret police, out of this photo, Fred MacGillivray is attempting to airbrush his own failures out of our memories of Halifax's aborted Commonwealth Games bid.
Just as the Soviets airbrushed Nikolai Yezhov, Stalin’s head of secret police, out of this photo, Fred MacGillivray is attempting to airbrush his own failures out of our memories of Halifax’s aborted Commonwealth Games bid.
Just as the Soviets airbrushed Nikolai Yezhov, Stalin’s head of secret police, out of this photo, Fred MacGillivray is attempting to airbrush his own failures out of our memories of Halifax’s aborted Commonwealth Games bid.


1. MacGillivray and Savage try to re-write Commonwealth Games bid history

The truth matters. The truth about the past especially matters, as it provides lessons and guideposts moving forward. But in today’s Chronicle Herald, Fred MacGillivray, who presided over Halifax’s aborted attempt to win the 2014 Commonwealth Games bid, says that pulling out of the bid competition may have tarnished Halifax’s reputation. No, Fred. You know what tarnished Halifax’s reputation? Going on a wild $8.5 million spending spree on the taxpayers’ dime, including junkets to every Carribean Island you’ve never heard of, buying suits for yourself and your buddies, doling out $700,000 in cash grants (don’t call them flat-out bribes) to international sporting orgs that would vote to award the bid, paying for office furniture that had supposedly been “donated” for free, and oh so much more. Announcing that you were organizing a $700 million “right sized games” and then delivering a $2.1 billion proposal that would leave the city potentially bankrupt when the Athletes Village went belly-up certainly didn’t help the city’s reputation.

Mike Savage also tries to re-write history by saying that city council pulled out of the bid. No. That “fact” is repeated every time the Commonwealth Games is discussed, but it’s simply not true. It was then-Premier Rodney MacDonald who killed the bid, and for very good reason: he had not one, but two independent consultant reports telling him that with MacGillivray at the helm the bid committee had screwed up so badly the province would face disaster if the effort continued. Halifax council had a perfunctory meeting, but council had no ability to move forward without the province, and so whatever vote it took was meaningless. Still, reporters were at council, and not at MacDonald’s cabinet meeting, so now the official line, however untrue, is that it was council who killed the bid.

Anyone who wants to know the true history of the failed Commonwealth Games bid should read my two-part investigation: Part One here, and Part Two here.

2. Housing bubble begins to burst

There’s been a dip in new housing starts in Halifax, and so of course developers therefore want to be exempted from taxes paying for the true costs of their projects. I have a more nuanced view than this uncritical Metro article provides, in Monday’s council preview. Yes, that article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall; you can subscribe here.

3. Cops are using drones

The Nova Scotia RCMP has a couple of drones now, and are using them. Yes, we get all the assurances—the drones will only be used for car accidents and search and rescue operations,  RCMP Sgt. Al LeBlanc told CTV—but cop technology is insidious, and there are huge privacy issues connected to drone technology in particular. We need a legal framework built around drones, stat. The legislature has something like 320 days it’s not meeting this year; maybe it could take up the subject.

4. Efficiency Nova Scotia

John Merrick, the guy hired by the province to represent electricity consumers before UARB hearings, says the Liberal’s attack on Efficiency Nova Scotia is a sham. Sure, the “efficiency” charge will disappear from power bills, but the money will still be collected, just as part of the regular bill and not as a separate line item. And now Efficiency Nova Scotia is no longer independent, meaning it and Nova Scotia Power are at cross purposes. This was all predicted, by myself and people much wiser than me, before the election.

5. Apocalypse, but nice sunsets

Have you noticed the nice sunsets over the past week or so? Or that even on these beautiful summer days, the sky hasn’t exactly been sky blue, but more of a whitish colour? That’s the direct result of nearly 200 lightning-started forest fires in the Northwest Territories, burning six times the acreage this year than in past years. The “southern Northwest Territories is experiencing the hottest, driest summer in some 50 years,” reports the Washington Post. The fires are burning the boreal forests, which is a large carbon sink, so accelerating global warming. Also, soot from the fires reduces the reflectivity of Arctic ice fields, creating yet another climate change feedback loop. Smoke from the fires is directly evident over Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg, but is also dulling the sky as far as the US east coast, and here in Halifax.


1. Albertans come to Nova Scotia, complain about the weather

But they liked Freak Lunchbox.

2. Mike Duffy had a personal trainer

Marilla Stephenson misses the opportunity to make a joke about that.

3. Chronicle Herald now in the real estate biz

I’m not sure if this is an ad, an opinion piece, or a news article.

4. Roger Taylor live-blogs BET

TV is important to people, so it’s good Taylor follows Eastlink’s channel offerings and such. But I don’t have cable TV, so can’t really understand any of this.



Audit and Finance Standing Committee (10am, City Hall)—Of interest on the agenda is the installation of a SolarWall on the Dartmouth Sportsplex (actually, on the roof of the building). The Sportsplex now spends $400,000 annually on energy costs. This technology pre-heats outside air before it is drawn into the building’s heating system. The SolarWall costs about $100,000, plus another $20,000 for changes to the building’s system; expected savings are $8,000-$10,000 a year. Installation will be completed before winter.

Transportation Standing Committee (2pm, City Hall)—The committee will be looking at Active Transportation plans and prioritizing them. Lots of detailed maps are found here.

Public consultation: Replacing the Africville dog park (7pm, Halifax Forum, Maritime Hall)—The Halifax Examiner is going, because we make a point of covering all train wrecks.


No public meetings.

On Campus


PhD Defence, Earth Science (1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building, 1459 LeMarchant Street)—PhD candidate Nicholas Nickerson will defend his thesis, “Using Physical Principles to Enhance the Measurement, Interpretation and Understanding of Soil Respiration.” PhD defences are open to the public, but there are no beer sales or halftime events.

Daily Plug

The Africville reunion is this weekend. That’s a good excuse to read UBC historian Tina Loo’s “Africville and the Dynamics of State Power in Postwar Canada,” an academic article written in 2010. Find it here.

In the harbour

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)


Atlantic Cartier, con-ro, Liverpool, England to Fairview Cove




I’ll have a council recap published later this morning. Oh, and I’m talking to Rick Howe at 9:45, about airport self-service, I think.

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

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  1. “The SolarWall costs about $100,000, plus another $20,000 for changes to the building’s system; expected savings are $8,000-$10,000 a year.”

    Sadly, that doesn’t sound like a financially viable investment. If they pay a mere 5% interest, that would be 6.000 Dollars in the first year. Vs 8.000 Dollars of savings, this leaves 2.000 Dollars to actually pay off the new debt. As any installation has a limited lifetime and probably needs some maintenance, I don’t see this reducing costs at all. Of course it has an environmental value.

    BTW: Do these figures include HST?

    1. Daniel, I didn’t give the financial specifics because I linked to the full report. But, it’s funded through an interest-free loan from the green initiatives fund of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities. The idea is this is a demonstration project, partly intended to get the city familiar with the technology, so staff can get a better understanding of how it works and when and where it can be used in the future. Overall, the city’s greenhouse gas reduction programs, mostly funded in-house, more than pay for themselves. The annual dollar savings have been to a large extent plowed back into more initiatives.