On campus
In the harbour


1. Ship of Theseus

Provincial Auditor General Michael Pickup released his report on the Bluenose II yesterday. It begins:


The government as a whole, and the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage specifically, did not adequately plan the Bluenose II restoration project. This started with leaving responsibility for the project with a Department having little experience managing construction projects. Construction projects like the Bluenose II restoration require a lead department with staff who are familiar with project management and construction projects in general.

The Department did not appropriately define the roles and responsibilities for contractors or government participants in the project. While there were numerous committees involved in the project, none had terms of reference defining their roles. The impacts of not defining roles were made worse by the large number of Departments and private companies involved in the project.

At a news conference after his appearance at Public Accounts, Pickup told reporters that:

No one has been able to provide me as good answer as to why this department [Communities, Culture and Heritage] was given the lead.

To this day, everybody in government is essentially left scratching their heads as to why this department is in charge.

It is baffling that the senior leadership of government allowed this to happen.

The CBC gives the financial context:

When the restoration was announced in 2009 by the province and the federal government, the budget was set at $14.4 million. Half of that budget was to come from a federal infrastructure fund — but the federal government pitched in only $4 million because the project failed to meet deadlines.

The bill for the rebuild has now grown to nearly $20 million, according to the latest figures released on Tuesday by the Nova Scotia government. An additional $4.5 million is still in dispute between the province and the Lunenburg Shipyard Alliance, which is the consortium hired to do the work on the Bluenose II.

Pickup said Wednesday the cost has the potential to grow even further.

“Let’s be clear,” Pickup said. “This means the actual cost to Nova Scotia is nearly two times the initial budget, with the potential to go to three times the initial budget.”

2. Catie Miller

A police release from yesterday:

Catie Miller
Catie Miller

The remains that were located during a search in the Catie Miller murder investigation have been identified.

On November 26, 2014, investigators working one of the crime scenes located human remains which were sent to the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service for identification. Earlier today, the Medical Examiner determined that the remains are of murder victim Catie Miller. The location of the discovery of the remains will not be released at this time as court proceedings are on-going.

Twenty-nine-year-old Jason James Johnson and 33-year-old Kelly Amanda MacDonald of Lawrencetown are facing charges of first degree murder and indecently interfering with a dead human bodyThirty-year-old George Edward Hubley of Sheet Harbour Passage faces charges of accessory to murder after the fact and indecently interfering with a dead human body.

3. Bitten in the Dingle

Tara Gault
Tara Gault

MLA Andrew Younger was allegedly “bitten and his jacket torn” during an assault by Tara Gault in Dingle Park, reports the Chronicle Herald, citing unnamed sources.

The alleged assault took place a few hours before Younger was sworn in as minister of the Department of Energy. Gault was arraigned yesterday but did not appear in court.; she is represented by defence lawyer Joel Pink. The charge has not been proven in court. According to the Chronicle Herald:

The maximum penalty for a summary assault conviction is a $5,000 fine and six months in jail. Had the Crown proceeded by indictment, the maximum punishment would be five years in prison.

“You’ll have to read between the lines,” Pink said. “Summary is much less serious than if you go by way of indictment.

“That’s the Crown’s option.”

4. Dal dentistry profs

The Coast tried to talk to four current or former professors in the Dalhousie Dentistry School, with little success. The profs were mentioned in the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook group.

One post read “Price under more heat for sexual harassment than anyone since Merino and gives a final with 69 questions. What a boss.” That refers to current professor Richard Price and former professor Arturo Merino, who left the school and now works in Spain.

Another post mentioned current prof Wayne Garland:

The assistant professor is named in a post showing a photo of a woman and a recommendation to “bang until stress is relieved or unconscious.” The post’s author claims that’s “Garland’s modified method” of stress relief.

“I don’t think he’ll be calling you back,” said the woman who answered the phone when The Coast tried calling Garland’s office line. “Thanks for phoning,” she added before hanging up.

A fourth prof mentioned on the Facebook page is Jon Bruhm, the alumni officer for the faculty of dentistry, who also happened to be a former writer at The Coast (this was before my time at The Coast; I don’t know Bruhm). Bruhm is complimented for having a “hot” assistant and for saying “gentlemanly things.” He did speak to The Coast:

“I have no idea,” Bruhm says, when asked why he thinks the “gentlemen” singled him out. “I just work here.”


1. It’s more than buses


Scott Edgar and Sean Gillis of the It’s More Than Buses transit advocacy group give an overview of the group’s efforts to see a “a simpler, transfer-based [transit] network, and an emphasis on high quality, high-ridership services.”

2. Lying politicians

It’s time to start enforcing the Conflict of Interest Act’s prohibition against MLA lying, says Graham Steele. “I guarantee that would smarten up our elected officials, very quickly. More importantly, it might reassure distrustful citizens like that lady on the doorstep, who called me a liar before she knew my name.”

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

I am a longtime Cape Breton Island resident. I moved to the Sydney area 12 years ago.Growing up in Victoria County, most of the county’s residents did whatever we could to try to make our communities more prosperous. It didn’t matter what it was. We were always open to options or suggestions from outside sources to help us or point us in the right direction in order to bring more profitability to our area.We want to see our family members return home from Fort McMurray, Toronto and elsewhere.I would think most people on the island would love to see their spouses, sons and daughters come back to their families so they would know they are safe and close by if they wanted to see them.Consider Lake Ainslie. I grew up in the country, and I would hate to see drilling rigs set up in our backyard. But when you sign those petitions to keep these things from bringing wealth and employment to our little communities, you also decrease opportunities for economic growth.We have passed up so may opportunities over the years and kicked up such a fuss that companies and entrepreneurs pack up and never set their sights on this place again.

Before you all start running me down, think about your family members who are away and would love to come home. Think about how much you would love to see them come home. There isn’t enough work here to keep them at home and there never will be with the way most of us turn away opportunities for advancement.

There are petitions against everything. Kijiji has tons of people trying to start a petition.

Bring your loved ones home. Let our economy and communities prosper with a chance for a brighter future for our families and the generations yet to come.

Reg Jackson, Coxheath




No Public meetings.


Standing Committee on Economic Development (9:30am, Room 233A, Johnston Building)—the committee will be looking into Nova Scotia Soundstage and Infrastructure. Witnesses include Lisa Bugden, president of Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia; Richard Hadley, from ACTRA Maritimes; Gary Vermeir, of IATSE Local 849; and James Nicholson, from Directors Guild of Canada.

On campus



Deferred Acceptance (Thursday, 11:30am, Life Sciences Centre, O3655)—Norovsambuu Tumennasan, from Aarhus University in Denmark, will talk about “Dynamic matching markets and the deferred acceptance mechanism.”

Anthropogenic stressors (Thursday, 11:30am, 5th floor Biology Lounge, LSC)—Devin Lyons will talk about “Impacts of anthropogenic stressors on the structure and functioning of the marine benthos.” In English, that translates as “How we’re fucking up the oceans.”

Glenn Davidson (Thursday, 12:15pm, Lord Dalhousie Room, Henry Hicks Building)—”Glenn Davidson is a senior naval officer in the Canadian Forces. From 2008 to 2011, Davidson served as Canada’s Ambassador to Syria. In August 2011, he was appointed as Canada’s Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. In this seminar talk he will briefly look at 6 topics facing an ambassador: the requirement for representation abroad; the Ambassador’s role; foreign policy priorities; advancing Canada’s interests; reporting from the field; and risk management.”

Complex networks (Thursday, 3pm, Slonim Conference Room, Goldberg Computer Science building)—Osvaldo N. Oliveira Jr., from the São Carlos Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo, Brazil, will talk about “Using Complex Networks in Natural Language Processing Tasks.”

Back pain (Thursday, 5:30pm, The Prince George Hotel, Halifax)—an “interactive” panel (whatever that means) consisting of Jeffrey S. Mogil, Jill Hayden, Katherine Harman, Todd Berry, and Mary Lynch will discuss “Why can’t you fix my back pain?” More info here.

Food waste (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain building)—Tristram Stuart, author of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, will talk.

Nietzsche: the first hipster
Nietzsche, eating a cat

Nietzsche and Grosse Politik (Thursday, 7pm, Room 1184, Department of Classics, Marion McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building)—Professor Emeritus Rainer Friederich will talk about “Nietzche: on the Genealogy of Grosse Politik.”


Thesis defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Friday, 2pm, Room 3-H1, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building)—Masters student Alexandra Reda will defend her thesis, “Structural Characterization of 20 KDA Lipid-Binding Fragments of Apolipoprotein B100.”

Whaling (Friday, 3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, Room 1170)—Historian Hillary MacKinlay will talk on “On the Far Side of the World? The Whaling Journal of Thomas Creighton, 1843–46.”


Andrew Nikiforuk of the Tyee gives an interesting overview of earthquakes caused by fracking, including a particularly noticeable one last week:

Hydraulic fracturing, a technology used to crack open difficult oil and gas formations, appears to have set off a swarm of earthquakes near Fox Creek, Alberta, including a record-breaking tremor with a felt magnitude of 4.4 last week.

That would likely make it the largest felt earthquake ever caused by fracking, a development that experts swore couldn’t happen a few years ago.

It’s long been known that human activity can cause earthquake. For instance, the filling of reservoirs can cause quite large quakes, like the “7.9-magnitude Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, which killed an estimated 80,000 people and has been linked to the construction of the Zipingpu Dam.”

The threat from fracking-induced earthquakes appears to be far lower, with quake activity several orders of magnitude lower than reservoir-induced quakes and limited to within five kilometres of the fracking operations. But nonetheless, reports Nikiforuk:

Overwhelming scientific evidence from the U.S. Geological Survey now shows that the fracking industry and its need for huge wastewater disposal wells have fostered unprecedented “man-made earthquakes” in the eastern and central U.S. In the process the industry has rewritten seismic records in Ohio, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas.



Between 2010 and 2013, the U.S. Midwest, home to extensive fracking, has experienced more than 100 induced and felt earthquakes over a magnitude of 3.0 per year, compared to the normal average of 21.

Oklahoma, once a seismically quiet region, has now become the most earthquake prone jurisdiction in the Lower 48 due to fracking and the injection of its associated wastewater. It now records more earthquake activity than California.

Due to a 50 per cent increase of quakes greater than a magnitude of 3.0, the U.S. Geological Survey issued residents of the state an unprecedented advisory last year: prepare for “increased hazard” from industry-made quakes.

“Building owners and government officials should have a special concern for older, unreinforced brick structures, which are vulnerable to serious damage during sufficient shaking,” said the warning.

The earthquake swarms have produced lawsuits in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas alleging that oil and gas companies are responsible for making earthquakes that have caused property damage and personal injury. In Oklahoma, there has been a rush on earthquake insurance.

So far, this looks like a manageable threat, but we don’t know how bad the fracking-induced seismic activity can get. We just don’t understand the geology involved. What happens if fracking leads to a relatively large earthquake in an urban centre?

YouTube video

In the harbour

The seas off Nova Scotia, 7:30am Thursday. Map:
The seas off Nova Scotia, 7:30am Thursday. Map:

Toscana, car carrier, Southampton to Autoport
Zim Texas, container ship,Valencia to Pier 42, then sails for New York
Dolphin II, container ship, New York to Pier 42, then sails for Kingston, Jamaica
Atlantic Conveyor, con-ro, Norfolk to Fairview Cove, then sails for Liverpool, England

Peter Ziobrowski thinks the Maresk Pembroke may be sick.


The ship of Theseus is explained here.

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

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  1. Found this as I was going through some archival materials of the Dalhousie Gazette – I thought it might find it interesting given the focus which the examiner has on pedestrianism:

    “A young man in a motor car knocked down a young lady who was crossing Coburg Road. We have since heard that she has married him. Will this be a warning to the speed maniacs?”

    -March 12th, 1919 – Pg 4

  2. Maybe there are a few Jon Bruhms around, the one I know is like 30, possibly has a J-degree and did some music reviews. I suppose an alumni officer isn’t an impossible gig for him. But not a prof.

  3. To Mr. «Cranky Letter» Jackson:
    Sorry pal but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
    First ask yourself why people FLEE Fort McMoney when the oil patch takes a skid: it’s a wasteland of ugly, disheartening POLLUTION. Then, you ask us to wish the same on Lake Ainslie. The thought-process confounds me.

    We have a beautiful, fairly unspoiled home here. Open the door to the Oil Barons, and we’ll be in what YOU then would describe as a living hell! Polluted Water, Polluted Air, and, as for your sacred «jobs», fracking development is done mostly by OUTSIDE specialists. The jobs for locals are might few, of very short duration, at local» wages which Fort McMoney addicts would call «starvation», the fracked oil is sold for a tiny fraction what it costs US in subsidies, environmental damage, and ruined properties, AND, every cent of profit leaves for Wall Street. THEN, the OIl Barons pack up and leave us with the fallout.


  4. I agree with Steele, we need to deal with politicians who lie or mislead the house and the public. There is almost no trust left in our politicians an we assume they are being untrue whenever their mouth is moving. Seeing politicians held accountable will raise the bar and restore some level of trust. Covering up financial details is particularly serious be it hiding 2.5 million in payments or pretending a per election budget is balanced. It is all unacceptable.