1. The future on the Port of Halifax

The CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt seen passing under the Bayonne Bridge. Photo: Hudson Reporter

Former CTV reporter Rick Grant writes:

If the Port of Halifax is going to compete in a post-Panamex world, it will need a new, larger container terminal. But a Port Master Plan is delayed, and myriad difficulties are posed by potential new sites for a terminal. That leaves a massive expansion of the existing HalTerm in the South End.

Click here to read “Major League Ambition.”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall. Click here to subscribe.

When Grant brought this story idea to me, I realized immediately that it contradicted my own opinions about the Port.  I’ve long felt that it doesn’t much matter what the Port does, as in terms of international shipping, Halifax is doomed geographically. As I’ve written:

No shipper wants to use the North American port that is closest to Europe. That makes no sense at all.

Think about it. You are the manager of a German manufacturing firm, and you want to export to North America. You’re not going to sell many widgets in Canso or in Eastport. Instead, your primary market is going to be places like New York City, or Chicago, where there are millions of people and lots of industry to buy your widgets.

So how do you get your widgets to Chicago? Expensive and light stuff, you can fly directly there. Everything else has two legs: one by sea, and one by land.

The sea part of the voyage is relatively inexpensive. You can stack a gazillion of your widgets in the new post-Panamax ships. A small, underpaid crew from the Philippines steering a ship flying the flag of a lightly regulated country like Liberia doesn’t cost much.

The land part of the journey, however, is expensive. You’ve got to divide up your gigantic cargo and divvy it into a thousand trucks, each driven by a highly paid (relative to the shiphands) driver, using lots of fuel to get to Chicago. Or, if you’re lucky, you can use rail, which, while cheaper than the trucks, is still much more expensive than the sea voyage, per unit transported per distance.

The guy sitting in Germany isn’t looking for the North American port closest to Germany, but rather the North American port closest to Chicago, or wherever his widgets are going. If that means a longer sea journey, the cost is more than made up for with the huge savings of a shorter land journey. I’m not sure why megaport boosters get this so wrong.

Existing American megaports — New York, Hampton Roads, Charleston — are investing billions retrofitting their operations to handle the post-Panamax ships, and the rail lines are upgrading like crazy, refitting for double-stacked containers and such. There’s no chance — none — that Canso or Eastport [or Halifax or Sydney] ports can match the investment, and CN will never be able to out compete Norfolk Southern or CSX for the American midwest market. Just ain’t gonna happen.

What Grant shows, however, is that if you reject my argument and you instead accept the Halifax-can-rule-the-ports-of-the-world boosterism on its own terms, the Port of Halifax is still failing — not for geographic reasons but for reasons of managerial ineptitude.

2. Cuba shows Nova Scotia how to do health care

Stephen Kimber writes:

How is it that Cuba, which is such a poor country, can afford such a comprehensive health care system and so many Nova Scotians don’t have a family doctor? We’re glad you asked.

Click here to read “Stephen McNeil could learn a thing or two from Fidel Castro.”

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3. Bruce Kidd, Colin Kaepernick, and Sidney Crosby

Bruce Kidd. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Bruce Kidd will speak in Halifax next week, so in preparation, I interviewed Kidd in Toronto last week for this week’s Examineradio podcast

Kidd was a teenage distance running sensation, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist and Olympian. He went on to become an athletes’ rights advocate, a leading historian of sport, and a social activist working to end South African apartheid and to combat homophobia and promote gender inclusion in sport.

Kidd has long worked to ensure that opportunities to enjoy the benefits of sport and recreation are widely shared throughout Canada and the world.

He’ll be in Halifax to deliver the keynote address at “Playgrounds and Podiums: Contemporary issues in sport,” a student-organized conference at Saint Mary’s University. Click here to see the full conference agenda.

In his keynote address, Kidd will address the current Canadian Sport Policy and its uncritical focus on high performance over other objectives, in the context of the long trajectory of aspirations for a nation-building sport system from Confederation to the present time. The talk — Friday, September 29, at 7pm, in the theatre named for a bank in the building named for a grocery store —  is open to the public, and free.

Listen to the podcast here:

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(direct download)
(RSS feed)
(Subscribe via iTunes)

Colin Kaepernick. Photo: Sporting News

During our talk, Kidd mentioned how former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick has been attacked for expressing his views in support of Black Lives Matter. Now, his free agent contract with San Francisco having expired, Kaepernick finds he can’t get a job despite being one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The treatment accorded Kaepernick, said Kidd, is the exact antithesis of what sport should be all about.

For the interesting and thoughtful discussion of what led Kaepernick to take his stand, check out the Intercepted podcast interview with activist and columnist Shaun King — the podcast and a transcript is found here.

Since Kidd and I talked, Kaepernick’s protest has, thanks to Donald Trump’s attacks on him, broadened to hundreds of other players. Yesterday, reports Ken Belson for the New York Times:

On three teams, nearly all the football players skipped the national anthem altogether. Dozens of others, from London to Los Angeles, knelt or locked arms on the sidelines, joined by several team owners in a league normally friendly to President Trump. Some of the sport’s biggest stars joined the kind of demonstration they have steadfastly avoided.

It was an unusual, sweeping wave of protest and defiance on the sidelines of the country’s most popular game, generated by Mr. Trump’s stream of calls to fire players who have declined to stand for the national anthem in order to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice.

What had been a modest round of anthem demonstrations this season led by a handful of African-American players mushroomed and morphed into a nationwide, diverse rebuke to Mr. Trump, with even some of his staunchest supporters in the N.F.L., including several owners, joining in or condemning Mr. Trump for divisiveness.

Sidney Crosby. Photo: ESPN

Just as that remarkable protest was unfolding, reports Rebecca Sacransky for The Hill:

The Pittsburgh Penguins said on Sunday that the NHL team has accepted an invitation to visit the White House this year.

In a statement Sunday, the Penguins said the team respects the institution of the office of the president and the “long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House.”

The timing shows that Penguin owners Ronald Burkle (who is an investment banker and Democratic Party fundraiser) and Mario Lemieux (who is Mario Lemieux) are taking a stand against Kaepernick and the other football players’s defiance of Trump.

No one besides Trump asked for this to be so divisive, but with a deranged, hateful man in the White House, here we are.

Like it or not, there’s a responsibility to rise to the occasion. And that responsibility rests heaviest on the stars, the athletes who have excelled on the field and on the ice, and have therefore gained the public’s attention.

Here’s the opportunity — the necessity — for Sidney Crosby to take a principled stand and refuse to attend the White House appearance. Make a statement, Sidney, both with your non-attendance and with your mouth. Make a statement against racism, against hate, against the president of the United States villifying your fellow athletes for being men of honour.

Show us you’re a true hero, Sid.

4. “100% Pure” Cocaine

On September 6, two men were  charged with attempting to smuggle cocaine into the country. Reported Andrew Rankin and Steve Bruce for the Chronicle Herald:

Jacques Grenier and his sailboat’s unexpected arrival on Sunday [September 3] came as a pleasant surprise to East River Marine’s business manager.

Cheryl Hornsby had last spoken to the charming 68-year-old last fall before he departed the secluded dock and sailed for the Caribbean, where he said he was intending to stay for the winter.

Smiling and gregarious, Grenier seemed to be in fine form on Sunday, exuding the same friendly manner Hornsby and the handful of staff members at the marine yard had come to expect in their dealings with him.

Hours later, 270 kilograms of cocaine was allegedly seized from Grenier’s sailboat Quesera by Canada Border Services Agency officers.

Grenier and Luc Chevrefils, 59, of Saint-Zotique, Que., appeared in provincial court in Halifax on Tuesday facing charges of conspiracy and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Grenier, who faces an additional charge of importing cocaine, and Chevrefils are due back in court on Friday for a bail hearing.

I’ve reviewed court documents related to the arrests that provide more information about the bust. The information below comes from an application for a warrant to search a car; the warrant was written by RCMP Constable Michael David Morrison. Morrison is with the Federal and Serious Organized Crime Unit in Dartmouth, and oversees drug investigations.

After Grenier sailed the Quesera into the East River Marina, a CBSA agent named Sean Foster came to the marina but Grenier wasn’t there. Soon after, Foster saw Grenier drive up in a Chrysler 300, a rent-a-car leased by Chevrefils, who was not present. Grenier was evidently cooperative. Foster saw that the car had six brand new hockey bags with the price tags still on them in the back, and asked Grenier if he could search the Quesera. Grenier consented to the search, and Foster found a false compartment in the aft of the boat that contained what looked like cocaine, and still more cocaine under a board in the forward interior of the boat.

The next day, RCMP Constable Michael Turco went to the marina, and Foster showed him the suspected cocaine. “The packaging appeared to be watertight and was heavily bundled and vacuum packed,” wrote Morrison. “He observed the words ‘100%’ and ‘pure’ on the packages.”

The suspected cocaine was taken off the boat and weighed at 273.1 kilograms. Turco tore open one of the packages and used a “cocaine wipe” to conduct a roadside, or I guess harbourside, test; it tested positive for cocaine.

The car was towed to Dartmouth. Meanwhile, Chevrefils, who was staying at the Hampton Inn in Dartmouth Crossing, was arrested. A police record check found that he had “recent drug and violence related charges.” He had a “large number of new $50 and $20 bills” on him, and there was a receipt in the hotel room for three different types of hockey bags at a cost of nearly $300.

Grenier was interviewed that night and was surprisingly talkative. He said that people knew he was a good sailor and so had asked him to import cocaine many times in the past, but he’d always turned them down; however, circumstances had changed: “Grenier said that he needed a ‘nest egg’ and that he did not want the government taking care of him because he has skin cancer,” wrote Morrison.

That explanation seems a bit suspect given Rankin and Bruce’s reporting that:

Grenier has a history that involves drugs and sailboats.

In March 1997, a U.S. District Court judge acquitted him of smuggling nearly 810 kilograms of marijuana from Jamaica into Florida. The drugs were hidden in the keel of the Blue Penguin II.

Grenier told customs agents — who searched the Blue Penguin II in December 1995 — that he had boarded the boat in Cuba.

The prosecutor was able to prove Grenier lied to customs agents when he denied travelling to Jamaica on the boat or having a passport. But that wasn’t enough to warrant a conviction.

In any event, as Grenier told it to his police interviewer on September 4, after agreeing to be a mule, he received a message on his PGP phone with coordinates and a time for the pickup. On July 21, he sailed to the location, which was in international waters off the coast of Venezuela.

“He was met by a large fishing vessel,” wrote Morrison. “The cocaine was transferred from the fishing vessel to his [boat] by a rope line. He was assisted by two males from the fishing vessel who helped him load the cocaine.”

Grenier said he sailed to Saint Martin to get supplies and fuel, then sailed on to Nova Scotia. When he arrived on September 3 “he was tired and dehydrated and forgot to check in with Customs,” wrote Morrison. “He stated the CBSA attended because he missed his check-in and that is when they found the cocaine.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

But were I Grenier’s defence lawyer, I’d tell the jury: “Come on! What kind of drug runner writes ‘100% Pure’ on the side of his cocaine? This has got to be a set-up.”

5. Your name here

This morning the city issued a tender titled “Dartmouth 4-Pad Arena Naming Rights Proposal.” Unfortunately, in place of the detailed tender offer, someone mistakenly attached a request for proposals for Executive Search Services for the city’s pension plan, so I can’t tell you anything more about naming the four-pad arena. I’m sure the error will be corrected, so if you’re excited about splashing your name on the arena, check the link later today.

But, as I’ve noted before:

The Metro Centre operated under that moniker for three decades, “Metro” being a reasonable acknowledgement that this is a public facility, operated by and for the public. Somehow that arrangement could last for 30 years without any noticeable problem (well, except for the secret Metro Centre bank account that was used by Peter Kelly and Scott Ferguson to funnel secret loans of public money to Harold MacKay so the public wouldn’t know how much public money was being squandered on the Common concerts), but suddenly the facility that has been more or less adequately operated with public money in the public’s name had to get money from a god damn bank in order to pay for a normal maintenance and upgrading, and so the entire building was rebranded with the name of the god damn bank, all of which is seen as advertising on the bank’s ledger, and so a source of profit, not some selfless charitable gift, and yet there were big ceremonies involving big cheques and big egos and big handshakes and big press releases telling us how great the god damn bank is for inserting itself privately and profitably into a process that had always before been done publicly and with public money.

Now it’s just normal operating procedure: the Sportsplex is going to be rebranded with a corporate name, likewise the new four-pad arena in Dartmouth, and on and on and on.

Make no mistake: naming public facilities after corporations reflects something broken about our tax policies, about our governments, about our collective and even private sensibilities.

This is one of those issues where I feel I’m just speaking past people. I can write the words, over and over again. I can say them out loud. I could scream them from the rooftops were I not afraid of heights. And no one seems to care. I don’t think it’s that people disagree, but rather that they can’t even understand the argument. We’ve so gone down the path of corporate naming that it’s beyond normalized — it’s just how things are done. Unquestioningly. An unquestioned good. “Why would you reject getting corporate money?” I’m not asked but told. “You idiot” says the thought bubble above their head.




Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (formerly District 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee) (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.


Investment Policy Advisory Committee (Tuesday, 12pm, City Hall) — committee members have been asked to read what sounds like some right-wing screed headlined “Foreign investors bail out of Canada in record numbers.”

North West Planning Advisory Committee Public Meeting (Tuesday, 7pm, Cafeteria, Basinview Drive Community School, Bedford) — Rich dude Monte Snow wants to tear down an old boat yard and a couple of houses on Shore Drive and build six new houses. Probably other rich dude neighbours will not like this plan.



Legislature sits (Monday, 6pm, Province House)


No public meetings.

On campus



Towards Improving the Mental Health of African, Black, and Caribbean Children and Youths: A Participatory Research Agenda (Monday, 9am, 3H01, Tupper Building) — Bukola Salami from the University of Alberta will speak. From the event listing:

Dr. Bukola Salami’s area of research is immigrant health, including the health of African children and youth. She currently holds a tenure track position at the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta. Her doctoral work at the University of Toronto was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program. Over the last 3 years, she has been involved in almost 30 funded projects on migration and well-being. She has been principal investigator on several externally funded projects, including those funded by SSHRC, the M.S.I. Foundation, and PolicyWise for Children and Families. A board member of Africa Centre (in Alberta), a public member on the Council of the Alberta College of Social Workers, and a council member and Research Committee co-chair of the Edmonton Local Immigrant Partnership, Dr. Salami is also an active volunteer and community member. In 2016, Avenue Magazine named her one of Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for her contribution to improving the well-being of immigrants in Alberta. 

Political Commitment and Resistance: The Visual Arts in Pre-revolutionary Cuba (Monday, 10am, Room 238, Life Sciences Centre) — Isabel Story from the University of Nottingham will speak.

Thesis Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Monday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Kathlyne Nelson will defend her thesis, “Studies of the Effects of High Voltage on the Performance and Impedance of Lithium-Ion Batteries.”

Senate (Monday, 3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — here’s the agenda. I’ll stop by.

Mozart: Verteufelt Human, and Mozarts Opernfiguren (Monday, 5:30pm, Room 2106, Marion McCain Building) — Franz Wassermann from the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, will give two lectures in German.


Playwriting Masterclass (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 1102, Marion McCain Building) — Hannah Moscovitch, the first Canadian playwright to win Yale University’s Windham Campbell Prize, and the first playwright to win Ontario’s Trillium Book Award, will speak.

The Tobacco Control Act, 1997 (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1009, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — David C. Dingwall speaks about the background of the act, its passage, and its impact, 20 years later.

CosÌ Fan Tutte. Was ist Wahrheit? (Tuesday, 5:30pm, Room 2021, Marion McCain Building) — Franz Wassermann from the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, will give this lecture in German.

Strengths-Based Community Capacity Building to Improve the Health of African, Black, and Caribbean Children and Youths: Participatory Research Agenda (Tuesday, 6:30pm, Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, Cherry Brook) — Bukola Salami from the University of Alberta will speak.

In the harbour

5am: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
5:30am: Tirranna, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
6am: Pinara, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal

Zuiderdam. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Zuiderdam. Photo: Halifax Examiner

7am: Zuiderdam, cruise ship with up to 2,364 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney
7:15am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York

Rotterdam. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Rotterdam. Photo: Halifax Examiner

8am: Rotterdam, cruise ship, with up to 1,685 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Bar Harbor

Insignia. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Insignia. Photo: Halifax Examiner

9:30am: Insignia, cruise ship with up to 800 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Bar Harbor

Acadian. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Acadian. Photo: Halifax Examiner Credit: Halifax Examiner

10:30am: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
3:30pm: Zuiderdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
4pm: Pinara, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
4pm: YM Evolution, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
4:30pm: Insignia, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Sydney
5:45pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Sydney
5:45pm: Rotterdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for Sydney


Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day.

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

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  1. I’m okay selling naming rights if someone is willing to pay for the whole thing, or even, say, the lion’s share. Otherwise, the platinum/whatever-the-most-valuable-metal-is-these-days sponsor rights should go to the biggest funder: the collective public purse.

    It’s the dramatic under-valuing of these rights that have made them so ubiquitous.

  2. I think lots of people agree with you re corporate naming, Tim, it’s just that there are so many things to organize politically for/against that no one has time to keep up or make it a priority.

  3. I’m going to build on Tim’s argument against corporate naming of public facilities.

    By having public facilities clearly labelled as such it implicitly informs the public about where their taxes are going, on what they’re being spent. Most of the carrying and maintenance costs of those buildings are born by the public. As soon as a corporate name is slapped on them then people no longer see their taxes as supporting those facilities, and consequently taxes seem just that much more onerous, just a thing to further and further complain about.

    In other words, leaving public buildings clearly labelled as public buildings is a form of advertising from the government about what services are being provided to the public for the taxes they pay. As soon as those facilities become “less public” then the government is losing it’s implicit argument to the public that they are getting value for the taxes they’re contributing to the public good.

    Thus, corporately naming buildings undermines the public’s confidence in and acceptance of taxation as being for the public good and thus advances the argument for lower and lower taxes, which leads to the harsh society in evidence to the south of us. I’m against the corporate naming for any number of reasons, but particularly because it undermines the argument for taxation for the public good.

    1. I don’t like corporate names for public facilities because I don’t like most of the corporations for whom facilities get named. For example Emera because we are already gouged on power bills and if they have the kind of money to throw around then use it to reduce power bills! And don’t get me started on Scotiabank and the obscene profits they make by service charging the hell out of every ordinary customer.

    1. **C-5 Galaxy? Ah well. It’s the height of unwarranted self-importance for hockey to pretend that it has anything to say about this issue when in most markets outside of the Northeast it probably comes second to SEC football or MLS soccer.

    2. I find Kaepernick’s behaviour a little rich when his biography is considered, but I support his right to speak his mind. Imagine, though, if he spent some of his millions helping other black people – way more impressive than kneeling. He could even do both! The NFL is happy to employ felons, so calls to fire people like Kaepernick, who haven’t committed any sort of crime, are pretty fucking ridiculous from my perspective.

      That being said I imagine there is significant overlap between Trump’s base – the ones that will turn out for the 2018 primaries – and people who are particularly offended by Kaepernick et al – so Trump might be making a pragmatic move. If the republicans want to win they need to take a leaf out of Alinsky’s book and abandon pretense entirely & focus on what works.

      This guy is pretty cool:

    1. Everything is connected. Apathy to corporate colonization. Apathy to political participation. The absurd idea of keeping pro sport and politics separate (as if it were even possible).

      The corporate colonizers love apathy. It makes their job – privatizing everything, dividing us into microfactions, separating all of us from our money – so much easier. They want us all on hamster wheels, struggling to survive. And when we’re not doing that they want us drugged on the new mass opiates (sport, bad TV, and smart phones). It’s hard to fight back so most people just turn off.

  4. Some time back (NDP Govt. days?), a suggestion was made that we could pay for an entirely new purpose-built container port down the eastern shore which would shorten rail distances, etc., etc.

    It would pay for itself by capitalizing on the huge frozen land resources of the existing Halterm port by gradually selling off (or leasing) chunks of land for residential / commercial development purposes in South end Halifax. Height would not be an issue as shadows would be cast only in the harbour!

    Think of it – no more trucks, an LRT, etc., etc.

    But big thinking outside the box is needed! Anyone go for it?

    Iain T.

  5. I’d like to think that Crosby represents a Canadian point of view that respects institutions and believes in peace, order and good government. Don’t rock the boat.

    But of course the boat needs to be rocked, Trump needs to be called out on his incessant, unnecessary provocations and Crosby and his teammates should boycott.

    Perhaps if hockey were a little less white the story might be different.

  6. Good crowd at BIO yesterday. Fascinating work by staff, including a Coast Guard recruiting booth inside a building and away from CCGS Edward Cornwallis. Mark your diary for September 2022 for the next Open House.

    1. I was reading a lot of that Greer guy for a while. I found it to be interesting food for thought.

      He certainly predicted Trump’s victory but his assertion that a Trump presidency made military conflict less likely than a Clinton one was wrong from the start. First and foremost, nothing short of total collapse will stop the US war machine. But Trump was never going to try. In his warped mind, he just acquired the Pentagon for personal use.

      Anyway, I’m glad Greer has veered away from political analysis.I generally agree with his thesis on societal decline but his musings on Trump in 2016 are looking worse all the time.

  7. Everyone hates having all the truck traffic in downtown Halifax that the container facility generates; but all everyone seems to want to do is talk about it. The time has come to look far into the future and see how the container operations of today fit with the best municipal planning strategy for tomorrow. If the container facility is destined to be moved at some point in the future, it should be noted that it will not get any easier by delaying taking action today.

        1. This being NS, we’ll be the last to put something innovative like that in place. Then we’ll do 6 studies, screw it up three times then overpay a Korean conglomerate to put it in place at which time it will be way over budget and long overdue. Then we’ll complain about it and it will probably break. The alternative is a local connected dude getting a tonne of ACOA funding for a pipe dream (no pun intended) then disappearing with the funds a la Music Man. Sing it with me ; “Hyperloop, what’s it called ? Hyperloop!”