This date in history
On campus
In the harbour


1. Flights diverted

Via the Chronicle Herald and Canadian Press:

Two Air France flights bound for Paris were diverted to airports in Halifax and Salt Lake City, Utah, on Tuesday.

Air France Flight 055, on its way to Paris from Washington, D.C., was diverted to Halifax at 10:15 p.m. Tuesday night due to a threat.

Halifax District RCMP searched the plane and luggage aboard with the help of service dogs and said in a 3:15 a.m. release that no explosive device was found. They also said their investigation continues.

Halifax’s fashion, style, and cultural quotient just jumped upwards exponentially.

2. Nova Star


“The operators of the Nova Star ferry say they are struggling to pay their outstanding bills because the province owes them $2 million, but the province says it has already paid its obligations,” reports the CBC:

In a news release issued Monday, the company said that when the province originally signed a contract with the ferry operator in November 2013, $2 million was to be set aside to cover a surety bond required by U.S. authorities to ensure there would be enough money to cover ticket refunds.

Nova Star operators later set up an escrow account to replace the surety bond. The company says the province did not then give it the $2 million.


The company says the $2 million has caused financial hardship for the company.

“If we had received the full $21 million that the Province has repeatedly said in public statements that it provided to Nova Star Cruises, we would have avoided the liens that have been placed on the ship, and most of the creditors would already have been paid,” Nova Star Cruises president and CEO Mark Amundsen said in a statement.

My guess is that the company is going to try to put off creditors until the spring, at which point the Nova Scotia government will be in a bind: It will want to start a new ferry to Portland operated by Bay Ferries, but it’s unlikely the Portland creditors will provide services like fuel and piloting until they get paid the money owed to them by Nova Star.

If the province really wants a Yarmouth ferry, it’s going to have to cave to Nova Star’s demands.

3. Melvin v Marriott

Vice graphic by Ben Ruby
Vice graphic by Ben Ruby

Vice got Mexico City-based writer Nathaniel Janowitz to write about Spryfield and the Melvin v Marriot saga. It’s not clear that Janowitz ever stepped foot in Nova Scotia [update 10am: commenters tell me Janowithz grew up in Halifax and was here over the summer.] (psst, Vice, we’ve got writers right here!), and some of his characterizations are a bit off (Topix is a “popular Halifax message board”?), but it’s an entertaining read and we get to point and laugh at the Spryfieldians again, so why not?

4. The same old game

Yesterday, I discussed the problems young people in Nova Scotia have in finding jobs that pay a decent wage. I was completely unaware (hey, I’ve had things to do) that the Halifax Partnership was launching its “Game Changer” campaign almost exactly as I was publishing. And what’s the Game Changer campaign? Halifax Partnership explains via a press release:

HALIFAXNov. 17, 2015 /CNW/ – This morning the Halifax Partnership and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage unveiled the Game Changers Action Plan, challenging thousands of Halifax business leaders to hire youth and become Game Changers. 

“It’s time to make a change and help more young people call Halifax home,” says Mayor Mike Savage. “Halifax’s business community and the public sector have a shared responsibility to make sure our youth have opportunities to work, live and succeed in our city.”

The Game Changers initiative is based on the Halifax Partnership’s Youth Retention study, released in October. The Partnership found that each year on net, Nova Scotia loses 1,300 young people between the ages of 20 and 29. This out-migration of talent costs the province an estimated $1.2 billion in lifetime after-tax income and an estimated $46.4 million in net future taxes.

For the next three years through Game Changers, the Halifax Partnership will connect businesses with the resources they need to hire, create co-op positions and help new graduates build professional networks in Halifax through their Connector Program.

“This is a huge opportunity to grow our our city, our province, our economy and our reputation,” says Ron Hanlon, President and CEO of the Halifax Partnership. “Let’s not let another year pass and lose the best and brightest talent to other provinces.”

There’s merit in trying to connect young people to potential jobs, so I held my cynicism back. Plus, they made a groovy video:

The Game Changer Action Plan explained that:

The Game Changer Action Plan will be supported by private sector sponsorship. It is a way to further engage investors in the Halifax Partnership, by attaching a specific program and set of deliverables to their support. The initiative is designed to allow for customization to meet the needs and objectives of individual sponsors.

Fair enough: if we’re going to get private companies to hire people, we’re going to have to get the private companies involved. Makes sense.

But… (you knew there’d be a but, right?) who are those private companies and what’s their employment track record?

Halifax Partnership tells me that the Game Changer campaign’s “partners” are RBC, Chronicle Herald, Marriott, City of Halifax, Dalhousie University and Clothesline Media.

Clothesline made the groovy video, and if they want to showcase their talent, all the better. I’ve got no problem with that.

The other companies, however, are, shall we say, problematic.

Let’s start with RBC, which in 2013 was embroiled in scandal. Reported the CBC:

Dozens of employees at Canada’s largest bank are losing their jobs to temporary foreign workers, who are in Canada to take over the work of their department.

“They are being brought in from India, and I am wondering how they got work visas,” said Dave Moreau, one of the employees affected by the move. “The new people are in our offices and we are training them to do our jobs. That adds insult to injury.”

Moreau, who works in IT systems support, said he is one of 50 employees who facilitate various transactions for RBC Investor Services in Toronto, which serves the bank’s biggest and wealthiest institutional clients.

In February, RBC told Moreau and his colleagues 45 of their jobs with the regulatory and financial applications team would be terminated at the end of April.

The scandal went national, and RBC took a huge reputational hit. Ever since, the company has been trying to improve its PR around employment issues by first saying it would no longer hire temporary foreign workers and then, evidently, by sponsoring job fairs like the Halifax Game Changer event.

Then there’s Marriott, which had its own temporary foreign worker scandal last year in Vancouver. It too could use a PR boost from co-sponsoring Game Changer.

Next on the list is the Chronicle Herald. The paper doesn’t use temporary foreign workers, but it is right this moment in the midst of a union battle. Says the union in a statement released Friday:

The Halifax-based company, which locked out 13 unionized pressroom employees in February, is demanding concessions that David Wilson, lead negotiator and representative for Communications Workers of America/Canada, termed “draconian.”

“The company wants to lay us off, cut back severance and contract out work. And the Herald wants to freeze the defined benefit pension plan that covers all 315 workers in the company,” said Ingrid Bulmer, president of Local 30130, Halifax Typographical Union.

The Chronicle Herald is cynically using the Game Changer sponsorship to suggest that it is working to improve the Halifax employment scene at the exact moment it is trying to cut workers and their pay.

And let’s remember that the government “partners” of Game Changer — the city and Dalhousie — are also battling their employee unions.

What about Halifax Partnership?

The Halifax Partnership’s “investors” are listed at the bottom of the page here.  Many of the investors are government agencies, but there are lots of companies as well. It’s interesting to note which of those companies also appear on the list of companies who applied for and were granted permission to hire temporary foreign workers in 2012. The companies that appear on both lists are:

$10,000+ investors:
Clearwater Seafoods
Delta Hotels
Irving Shipbuilding
Nova Scotia Power
Westin Nova Scotia

$5,000–$10,000 investors:
Admiral Insurance
Blue Ocean
Halifax Bridge Commission
Jazz Aviation
Lockheed Martin
The Prince George Hotel

Now there are legitimate reasons for a company to hire temporary foreign workers. I suspect that the Bridge Commission needed a foreign engineer because the expertise for the bridge reconstruction project simply didn’t exist in Canada. Some restaurants on the list (but certainly not the majority) are owned by immigrants who are bringing their family to work and hopefully immigrate. But most of the restaurants, hotels, call centres, fish processors and the like are simply getting around paying Nova Scotian workers good wages by hiring the TFW at low wages.

And sure, the Game Changer campaign is attempting to connect university grads to employees, and those graduates are unlikely to be competing for jobs as maids at the Prince George or lobster pickers at Clearwater. But those extremely low-wage jobs are the baseline from which all other salaries are set. This is why an increase in the minimum wage benefits all workers — as the pay scale moves up for unskilled or lightly skilled jobs, employers have to offer more skilled workers higher wages in order to compete. Better wages for people working in a call centre really do translate into better wages at the first career job for university grads, and just the opposite is true as well: when employers use TFW to cut their payroll, it lowers the pay scale for the entire market, including for university grads.

Maybe the Game Changer program represents a true shift in awareness for managers at companies that have been using temporary foreign workers. Maybe now Clearwater and the Westin and the rest now see the wisdom in hiring Nova Scotians to work Nova Scotian jobs. Maybe.

More likely, it’s just the same old bullshit wrapped in new packaging.

4. Of race and shoplifting allegations

Shandell McNamara. Photo: Jeff Harper/ Metro
Shandell McNamara. Photo: Jeff Harper/ Metro

Shandell McNamara, a mixed race woman, says the owner of the Shoppers Drug on Fenwick Street has falsely accused her of shoplifting, reports Metro’s Haley Ryan:

When McNamara said she hadn’t, the owner told her they had video footage of her stealing earrings from the store and she was banned for life. He also said she’d be charged with trespassing if she returned, McNamara said.


As he walked her out in front of customers and staff, McNamara said the owner told her he would be warning everyone she’s a thief and to “watch out” for her.

“It was honestly the most humiliating experience of my life,” she said.

Here’s the police response to the incident:

Halifax Regional Police spokeswoman Const. Diane Woodworth said stores are private property so owners can ban anyone, although it’s ideal to have something in writing so the person can be ticketed if they return.

“We would just tell the person go to another store,” Woodworth said about McNamara’s situation.

“It’s offensive, but there’s other stores and why would you want to give this place your business?”

Why? Here’s why: because racists deny people entry into their businesses based solely on the colour of their skin, and such practices are illegal and should be called out. That’s what the lunch counter sit-ins were about. That’s what Viola Desmond’s arrest was about. People have been blasted with firehoses for fighting this kind of retail racism. People have been killed.

How dare the cops shrug off that social and historical context with “just go to another store”?

Look, banning people from a store because of the colour of their skin is illegal. Those “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” signs are shorthand for “we don’t serve black people or natives,” and the practice is likewise illegal. No, Constable Woodworth, a store owner cannot “ban anyone” — opening your business to the public means that you must abide by laws that prohibit discrimination.

We don’t have all the information in McNamara’s case, but what she’s asking for — to see the claimed videotaped proof that she shoplifted — is entirely reasonable, and the cops shouldn’t be brushing the incident aside.


1. Mid-Century Architecture

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald gives us a tour of Halifax’s mid-century buildings, starting with “the old Zellers on Barrington St (Discovery Centre). It was built in 1939 at the end of the Great Depression, a time when not much at all was built here. Straight on it is surprisingly formal (I’m not sure I would recognize it without the sign).

The distinctive view is of the champhered corner that  energizes the building. It’s been called the best Art Deco building in the city.

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

Archibald goes on to look at seven other mid-century buildings and, in his fashion, draws our attention to the detail and delight of the buildings we pass every day without really noticing. Alas, several of them (including the Zellers) will soon be torn down.

2. Refugees

Emily Williams has written an excellent piece on the current refugee crisis, reminding us about the MS St. Louis, the ship with 907 Jewish refugees that was refused entry into Canada. Hundreds of the passengers subsequently died in concentration camps. (There’s currently a display about the St. Louis in the lobby of the Central Library.) “Right now,” writes Williams, “we are watching this generation’s version of North America telling Jewish refugees to turn their boats around.”

Williams then turns her attention to American and Canadian politicians who suggest that only Christian Syrians be allowed in as refugees:

Demanding that desperate people pass a religious test to prove that they are worthy of our compassion is disgusting. To even entertain the thought that we should send people back to the hellscape that is present-day Syria because they believe in the “wrong” God is abhorrent. Furthermore, it is the exact inverse of the tenets of the religion to which all these Christian politicians claim adherence. And finally, refusing asylum to people because their religion is the “wrong” religion is a familiar story whose ending is already written. How short our memories are.

On the point of Christian beliefs about refugees… I don’t claim to be a theologian, but I did spend 12 years in Catholic schools, and some of it stuck. The Christian bible is a mishmash of imagined history, incorrect science, abhorrent social theory, fabulistic teachings of dubious merit, but also, here and there, some things worthy of praise. As I remember it, caring for those most in need is high on the list of Christian tenets, maybe even higher than damning gays to hell or obsessing about fetuses.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

Now that 40 per cent of Canadians have taken the Liberal Kool-Aid, we quickly see what we have for leadership. One of your readers was impressed by the eloquent speech our PM made at the G20. In 2008, the Americans chose a young man as their president who was equally eloquent. Now we all have a do-nothing leader of the free world who cannot or will not make any tough decisions to lead the free world against a growing danger to us all.

The Liberals want us to go back to the old days of Pearson’s peacekeepers, but no one can keep peace until it is created. Our soldiers are at greater risk on the ground than flying jets, but Mr. Trudeau blindly insists on his decision to have them train Kurdish fighters. A leader who won’t adapt to changing events is a dangerous leader.

Dorothy Clifton, Kingston

Shorter Dorothy Clifton of Kingston:

YouTube video



Audit and Finance Committee (10am, City Hall) — I’ll be there. Here’s the agenda.

Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Special Advisory Committee (3pm, Nova Scotia Community College – IT Campus, Room B239, 5685 Leeds Street) — the commemoration is speeding towards the bend in the track, the passengers crossing their fingers.

Halifax & West Community Council (6pm, City Hall) — the committee is looking at more zoning changes in Bedford West.

Public information meeting (7pm, Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre) — Windgate Village is a gigantic subdivision proposed for nearly 400 acres in Beaver Bank.


Legislature sits (1–5:30pm, Province House)

This date in history

I’m forever impressed with the depth of knowledge of Examiner readers, so I’m just throwing this out there. The usual history websites I check tell me that on November 18, 1963, the last segregated, all-black school in Nova Scotia closed. I understand that the school was in Halifax, but that’s it.

Any help?

On campus


Rotary ATPases (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building Link) — John Rubinstein, from the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, will speak on “Electron cryomicroscopy ‎of rotary ATPases.”

YouTube video

Altered States (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — Ken Russell’s 198o film:

William Hurt plays a scientist whose experiments turn Darwin’s theories of evolution backwards, as he regresses to a primal state in which instinct overcomes reason. 

In the harbour

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

Green Dale, car carrier, Davisville, Rhode Island to Autoport, then sails to sea
ZIM Monaco arrived at Pier 42 this morning; sails to New York this afternoon
Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, arrived at Pier 36 this morning from St. John’s


I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 4pm, with Metro’s Stephanie Taylor.

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

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  1. On the question of violence, who is responsible for cross burning in Nova Scotia? Who set fire to a mosque in Peterborough? Who attacked a woman wearing a niqab in Toronto? Who is driving trucks decorated with Confederate flags? The list goes on, and daresay the perpetuators are not recent refugees but more likely settlers. I am deeply worried about potential violence faced by refugees trying to piece their lives back together.

  2. This is the flaw in logic from the Emily Williams piece:

    “People will say that this is different, that there was no threat of terrorists sneaking in with the floods of European Jews, but that isn’t true. In fact, the exact same scare tactics were used to justify closing our doors then as are being used now. At the time, the public worried that German spies would slip in disguised as asylum-seekers. Sound familiar?”

    This isn’t apples to apples. The excuse to exclude Jews was specifically that several of them may NOT have been Jewish. Today, the worry about importing Muslims is that they ARE in fact Muslims. Being a Muslim today means that you are more likely to hold views that promote and enable terrorism. This is fact.

    “More British Muslims have joined the ranks of ISIS than have volunteered to serve in the British armed forces.” – Sam Harris

    It isn’t discrimination against Muslims, it is discrimination against violence. When significant numbers of any population have unhealthy attitudes about violence, it is dangerous to ignore. We have had periods where this was common under Catholicism, it was called the Dark Ages.

    1. Again, any numbers you have about “significant numbers of any population having unhealthy attitudes about violence” applies ten-fold, or more like a million-fold, to men. By your own arguments, we should exclude all men from society.

      1. As far as I know, there is not a holy book of men, where I can go read doctrine that is central to their faith. Please link to some stats to back up men holding dangerous attitudes. And they should be specific. For example:

        World Public Opinion: 61% of Egyptians approve of attacks on Americans
        32% of Indonesians approve of attacks on Americans
        41% of Pakistanis approve of attacks on Americans
        38% of Moroccans approve of attacks on Americans
        83% of Palestinians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (only 14% oppose)
        62% of Jordanians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (21% oppose)
        42% of Turks approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (45% oppose)
        A minority of Muslims disagreed entirely with terror attacks on Americans:
        (Egypt 34%; Indonesia 45%; Pakistan 33%)
        About half of those opposed to attacking Americans were sympathetic with al-Qaeda’s attitude toward the U.S.

        As far as I know 61% of men, as a group, do not approve of violent attacks on women, or anyone.

        1. I don’t give two shits what people think. I care about what they *do*. I’m talking about actions. The vast, vast majority of actual violent crime in our society is committed by men.

          1. You call out men all the time on their beliefs and how that guides their actions towards women/minorities. You care a lot. You constantly make the connection that beliefs guide actions. It is common sense, and it goes for Muslims too.

            Correct, men commit the majority of violent crime, but the actual instance of violent crime is low.

            “Statistics Canada says the country’s homicide rate fell last year to 1.44 victims for every 100,000 people, its lowest level since 1966.”

            Surprise, surprise, most men do not hold the opinion that its okay to rape/kill, and most men don’t. Even though a majority of killers/rapists are men, the actual number of men who kill is statistically insignificant. Fact is, a lot of Muslims hold violent views, and this guides their actions. Fact is, a large % of Muslims engage in violence. If you care about what people do, then this should matter. Some more stats:

            “Nearly 3,000 honor attacks mainly carried out against Muslim women were recorded by British police in 2010.”

            “25% of UK mosques have extremist literature calling for the beheading of lapsed Muslims etc.”

            If you care about what people do, then consider the following: a large room of men, will unlikely contain a significant number who have engaged in violence. A large room of Muslims, will have a lot higher % who have. Beliefs matter.

            “A newly released survey suggests a large number of Muslims living in Canada will not disown Al-Qaida.

            The study,[34] conducted by the MacDonald Laurier Institute, found 65% of Muslims questioned said they would “repudiate absolutely” the terrorist organization, while 35% would not do so.

            “From a security perspective, it is difficult to know if a 65% rate of repudiation (of Al-Qaida) is re-assuring or a 35% failure to repudiate troubling,” wrote study authors Christian Leuprecht, associate professor of the Royal Military College of Canada and Conrad Winn, Carleton University professor and president of COMPAS, a public opinion research firm.
            . . .
            The report also states support for extremism is just as high among Muslims born in Canada, or other Western countries, as it is among those hailing from oppressive dictatorships.”


        2. @SeanRyan the American government is responsible for a lot violence in the world, both directly and through support for dictators and other murderous regimes. Perhaps that has something to do with some of the support for violence against America.

          1. Its not relevant to my point. Sam Harris addresses this logic here (7th paragraph):

            “In any conversation on this topic, one must continually deploy a firewall of caveats and concessions to irrelevancy: Of course, U.S. foreign policy has problems. Yes, we really must get off oil. No, I did not support the war in Iraq. Sure, I’ve read Chomsky. No doubt, the Bible contains equally terrible passages. Yes, I heard about that abortion clinic bombing in 1984. No, I’m sorry to say that Hitler and Stalin were not motivated by atheism. The Tamil Tigers? Of course, I’ve heard of them. Now can we honestly talk about the link between belief and behavior?

            Yes, many Muslims happily ignore the apostasy and blasphemy of their neighbors, view women as the moral equals of men, and consider anti-Semitism contemptible. But there are also Muslims who drink alcohol and eat bacon. All of these persuasions run counter to the explicit teachings of Islam to one or another degree. And just like moderates in every other religion, most moderate Muslims become obscurantists when defending their faith from criticism. They rely on modern, secular values—for instance, tolerance of diversity and respect for human rights—as a basis for reinterpreting and ignoring the most despicable parts of their holy books. But they nevertheless demand that we respect the idea of revelation, and this leaves us perpetually vulnerable to more literal readings of scripture. “

  3. Tim,
    The last segregated school in Nova Scotia was in Gusborough County and it closed in 1981. See the Sylvia Hamilton docoumentary “Little Black Schoolhouse” (should be available at the public library).

  4. That list of companies using the foreign workers program is misleading without more context. For example, if you have a foreign student working for you on a work term and want to offer more permanent employment, you would have to go through the same program. A lot of different kinds of employment situations have gotten tarred because of the bad press around “foreign workers”.

    1. As I explained, there are legitimate reasons to use temporary foreign workers. But the Prince George and the other hotels is using TFW for maids, Clearwater for low-skilled work, etc.

  5. While the police comments seem a bit misguided, the police don’t enforce our anti-discrimination laws, the Human Rights Commission does. If the concern is discrimination, the police should stay out of it–they’re not free-standing problem-solvers–but should probably have directed her to the Commission rather than brushing it off.

      1. When did e.g. St. Pats stop being Catholic only?

        Guysborough Co has some pockets of black only towns, if I had to guess – and I am – that school being segregated, and closing, was about geography and the generic movement to consolidated than anything else.

  6. Janowitz is from Halifax (pretty sure he went to high school at St. Pats) and wrote most of the story this summer while he was in Halifax.

  7. “It’s not clear that Janowitz ever stepped foot in Nova Scotia”

    Janowitz grew up in Halifax. I went to school with him for a time, and his family is still here. I spent a minute and 30 seconds verifying that the writer is the same person as the Halifax-raised Janowitz. Questioning whether people are from here is a new fad, eh?

    1. I went to his website… nothing about Halifax on it, but I’ll update when I get to wifi.