In the harbour


1. Scam


“Is this some sort of scam?” I wondered yesterday in response to the announcement that Nova Star had found winter work plying the English Channel. Today, the Chronicle Herald’s Michael Gorman reports that:

Thanet District Council, which covers Ramsgate, released a statement on Wednesday saying “there is no agreement with Euroferries Express Ltd.” to use the local facilities.

“Any statements to the contrary regarding the council-owned port are both inaccurate and misleading.”

The statement goes on to say that a former company called Euroferries Ltd., which had the same director as Euroferries Express Ltd., “has previously been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority in 2013 for misleading advertising, a complaint which was upheld as the company were taking bookings for a Ramsgate to Boulogne service which was not operational.”

2. Darren Fisher

Darren Fisher with Gloria McCluskey. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Darren Fisher with Gloria McCluskey. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Councillor Darren Fisher, who represents Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East, will take a leave of absence from September 5 to October 19 so he can campaign as the Liberal candidate in the federal election. “Council agreed I can still answer phone calls and emails and meet with residents. I have a fairly full calendar with residents until the end of August,” Fisher told the Chronicle Herald.

Fisher gave a weak reason for not starting his leave immediately — “He said although he’s already started knocking on doors in his spare time, his campaign won’t fully ramp up until next month,”the paper reports. But there are no council meetings scheduled for the rest of August, and the next meeting isn’t until September 8, so Fisher is managing to get his full council pay and hit the federal campaign trail when there is considerably reduced council activity.

Additionally, for the duration of the federal election campaign, city rules prohibit Fisher from making any expenditures from the district capital funds he controls.

3. Senseless fear mongering


An article by CBC reporter Richard Cuthbertson, plastered with the alarmist headline “Trauma injuries involving kids and sport usually cycling related,” is a great example of senseless fear mongering, making a mountain out of nothing at all, and attempting to get at a predrawn conclusion:

The new research, published last month in the Canadian Medical Education Journal, found cycling was the culprit in more than half off all Nova Scotia major trauma injuries involving kids and sport. Hockey, by contrast, made up just seven per cent.

Researchers looked at 107 cases over a 13-year period involving youngsters under 18 years of age who were seriously hurt while playing sports or some other recreational activity.


Typical scenarios included serious head or chest injuries, or major breaks, such as to the femur bone.


Delving into the data, researchers also learned something else: just 36 per cent of children seriously injured riding a bicycle were wearing a helmet.

[emphasis added]

Is 107 major injuries over 13 years — about eight a year, for all children, playing all sports — a big deal? It doesn’t seem like it, and Cuthbertson doesn’t give us any reason to think that it should be — no context is given, no numbers for how many children there are in Nova Scotia, how many might be participating in sports, what the sport injury rate is in other provinces, or what the non-sport injury rate is.

We’re told that “cycling is the culprit in more than half” of the injuries — what does that mean? Five a year? — and that 64 percent of those injuries — three? — were to kids not wearing helmets. We’re not told, however, if the injuries to helmetless kids were head injuries — they could be head injuries, but they could also be “chest injuries, or major breaks, such as to the femur bone,” in which case a helmet would provide no protection.

We’re also not told how many kids wearing helmets experienced head injuries. Without more specific information, the use or non-use of helmets a red herring.

But besides the helmet issue, this is fear mongering of the worst sort. Kids growing up cycling will have a healthier life than kids driven everywhere. They’ll tend to have lower obesity rates, more independence, and be more curious about the world.

It’s worth noting that no deaths were reported from any of the sporting activity, but about a hundred people die while driving in Nova Scotia each year, and there are thousands upon thousands of injuries to people in cars. It’s impossible to make direct comparisons, but I would guess that on average a child is safer riding her bike to school than being driven to school.

A 2002 study of injuries requiring a visit to the hospital in Nova Scotia found that the number one cause of death from unintentional injuries — 99, in the study year — involved motor vehicle collisions (remarkably, that number was exceeded only by deaths from intentional injuries — self-harm and suicide, at 108). In terms of head injuries alone, the study didn’t include figures for children under 15, but in the 16-35 age category there were 659 head injuries for people in motor vehicles, and 39 for people riding bicycles— but again, fewer people ride bikes so we can’t make a direct comparison of injury rates; I think, however, that’s it’s fair to say that we overemphasize risk from normally safe activities like bicycling while underestimating risk from driving. And alarmist articles like Cuthbertson’s serve to feed those misperceptions.

4. Swastikas

Photo: The Coast
Photo: The Coast

“Years after a bench in Point Pleasant Park was built with wood from a tree (or trees) uprooted by hurricane Juan, Halifax city hall last month altered the seating unit because a park user complained it resembled a swastika,” reports Michael Lightstone:

The complaint came to the municipality’s 311 citizen-contact phone line on July 17, city spokesperson Brendan Elliott confirmed last week. He says staff removed the arms on the four-section bench the same day.


For about a decade, countless joggers, dog-walkers, cyclists and others have passed the offending bench with nary a critical comment directed at municipal staff. The most intriguing feature for many users, who may never have noticed the shape of the thing, was that material salvaged from Juan was used by area woodworkers.

Now, when visitors reach the bench, they’ll see the left-side armrests that used to be connected to the front of each section’s seat and the rear are instead cleanly cut at the back portions of the unit.

5. Water is wet


Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 7.37.56 AM

6. Wild kingdom

As I go to publish, CBC is reporting that “rescue crews are trying to free a pod of six to eight pilot whales beached off of Bayfield near Antigonish, N.S., this morning.”

There’s no word if this is the same pod of pilot whales that beached itself at Judique Tuesday.


1. Oil spills

“Are Leona Aglukkaq and Stephen Harper fucking crazy?” asks Timothy Gillespie:

Because the devastation caused by a major oil and gas drilling blowout can be so monumental — as evidenced by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico which spilled 650 million litres of oil into the gulf and onto the beaches and wetlands of Mississippi, Louisiana, Floridana and god knows where else — U.S. regulations requires blowouts to be capped within 24 hours. 
Now, when Shell oil wants to drill in the Shelburne basin near some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq approved an offshore drilling plan that allows up to 21 days to contain a subsea blowout.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

Every year I plan my summer trip home around Action Week.

I could not believe that this year virtually all activities are taking place at Open Hearth Park and almost nothing at the boardwalk or harbourfront.

Millions of provincial and federal dollars were spent on building a beautiful boardwalk. For years it was a gathering place every night where friends and neighbours gathered to listen to music, enjoy the harbourfront, the sunset, etc.

Today the boardwalk is silent and for the most part empty. What a shame.

I’m 84 and I’m sure I will be one of many who will not be going to the Open Hearth Park.

Gordon ‘Sonny’ Cluett, Sydney/Ottawa


No public meetings.


Peter Ziobrowski took this photo of crews removing the bicycle lane on the Macdonald Bridge last night:

Photo: Peter Ziobrowski
Photo: Peter Ziobrowski

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:15am Thursday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:15am Thursday. Map:

There are no scheduled arrivals or departures for today.


What’s up with those whales?

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

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  1. Someone noted a bench design coincidentally looks like a swastika, is there nothing people won’t be offended over? The outrage index is pretty high in this province, must be the humidity.

  2. “Intentional injury” in that study included harm by others (assault etc.), not just self-harm.

    1. From the paper:

      The highest overall mortality rates were due to suicide (14.9/100,000), motor vehicle traffic collisions (13.6) and falls (10.5). Annually in Nova Scotia, amongst those 16 years or older, there were approximately:
      • 108 deaths due to suicide
      • 99 deaths due to motor vehicle traffic collisions

    1. A very comfortable bench – I love the design. There was a contest for bench designs after Juan, and I believe this one came from a teenaged girl.

  3. Thanks for calling out Cuthbertson and the CEEB for the misleading piece. Yours was a much more sensible approach than the rant I was going on.

  4. Shell, good morning Canada, we want to drill for oil off your coast

    Canada, ok, what terms do you want to work under? you got it!

    (pass the Vaseline)

  5. Cuthbertson’s article (and the underlying study) is pure garbage. Any study that looks at injury rates between activities without correcting for participation rates isn’t worth the paper its printed on. Statistics Canada says that 11% of Canadian kids play hockey. ( A quick scan of the data doesn’t tell me how many kids ride a bicycle this morning, but I’m quite confident there are more hours of activity on a bicycle than hours of playing hockey per year in Nova Scotia. Once you correct the two for participation rates you could get a useful stat such as “hospitalizations per thousand hours of activity” and I’m quite certain bicycles would be perceived as low-risk in this regard.
    The next limitation of this study, which you mention, is that injuries are not broken out sufficiently to draw reasonable conclusions. One limitation, which you mentioned, is that they look at helmet use regardless of where on the body the injury occurred. Another limitation is that they categorize anything on the head as a head injury. Did you scrape your chin? Head injury. Did you suffer blunt force trauma? Also a head injury.
    “Research” like this does nothing to advance the conversation on active living and is simply fear-mongering by the pro-helmet lobby. Perhaps more than six jurisdictions worldwide would require the use of bicycle helmets if the proponents of bicycle helmets could make a rational, coherent argument using useful data.

  6. 12 head injuries in the province in 11 years across all operators was used as the justification for requiring helmets at ski hills. I spent 5 years as a Ski Patroller outside Ottawa, and helmet use will do nothing to prevent the much more frequent Wrist, and Leg injuries. Femurs in particular are potentially life threatening, and require fairly invasive surgery to repair, and while uncommon are still more frequent then severe head injuries.

    We have also seen that requiring helmets on bikes seems to correspond with an increase in injuries to cyclists (perhaps they feel more invincible?)I suspect this holds true with skiers and snowboarders as well.

    1. Helmets have a questionable effect on safety for adults, because they increase the risk of some other types of neck injury (Hey, you lived, but you’re quadriplegic now!) there is no benefit from wearing them. They are also extremely bad for bike commuting rates, because when it’s 95% humid out, there is absolutely no way you’re arriving at your destination without gross, sweaty hair, even if (like me) you’re a guy who can get away with short hair and effectively no hairstyle because my bike helmet ruins it.

      In fact, if we wanted to stop transportation-related head injuries, we should make people wear helmets when they are driving.

      This summer I’ve taken to riding helmet-less around the city and so far haven’t gotten a ticket. It’s been very nice. I think it’s made drivers more cautious around me too, which can only help in the long run.

      It’s kind of funny how many people will complain about how the government is doing nothing about climate change and our dependence (considering North America as a whole) on foreign oil* when we seem to still be actively opposed to any form of transportation other than driving or walking – there’s nothing wrong with walking, but there’s also only 24 hours in a day.

      *There is almost no infrastructure for bringing oil from the tar sands or elsewhere in North America to the Maritimes, we are 100% reliant on tankers here. I’m sure it could be done to a limited extent by rail (and we know how safe that is!).

      1. Irving imports Bakken crude on a weekly basis via tankers from a terminal in Albany, New York as well as from several US Gulf ports.

        1. Irving has also invested in rail terminal capacity to import heavy crude via rail into Saint John.The Lac Megantic oil was destined for Irving’s refinery. Hundreds of tank cars can be seen in Saint John daily.

      2. If you rely on the ‘caution’ of drivers around you for your safety while you are cycling, I fear you are doomed.