1. “Insufficient grounds”

Susan Butlin

Susie Butlin was murdered by her neighbour Junior Duggan in September 2017.

Joan Baxter details how Butlin filed a sexual assault charge against Duggan with the Bible Hill RCMP detachment, but investigating officers said there wasn’t a strong enough case against Duggan so she should instead file an application for a peace bond in order to keep Duggan away from her.

Butlin filed for that peace bond, but when the judge and assistant read the details, they were so concerned about the particulars that they contacted the Crown to ask if it constituted a sexual assault. The Crown in turn asked the same RCMP detachment to have a look at Butlin’s claims.

In the meanwhile, the judge told Duggan to stay away from Butlin. He did not. He procured weapons, was arrested for drunk driving, was texting and otherwise harassing Butlin, who was so alarmed she slept with a baseball bat.

Two different male officers reviewed the case and said again there were insufficient grounds for a sexual assault charge. According to a friend of Butlin, Butlin was so worried about Duggan that she drove to the Bible Hill RCMP detachment to lay out her concerns in detail, but the cop she spoke with told her that she, and not Duggan, was “a menace to society.”

Three days later, Duggan killed Butlin.

Click here to read to read “Insufficient grounds.”

2. Purcells Cove

YouTube video

“A Halifax councillor’s motion aiming to rezone three Purcells Cove backlands properties has passed,” reports Zane Woodford:

As the Halifax Examiner reported last month, the three parcels for sale sit right next to the wilderness park recently created by the municipality and the Nature Conservancy of Canada — a 153-hectare (or 378-acre) park, twice the size of Point Pleasant Park. They paid a combined $6.6 million for that land.

The land next to the park, totalling 55 hectares (or 137 acres) is for sale for $4.5 million.

Click here to read “Halifax councillor’s motion to consider rezoning Purcells Cove backlands properties approved.”

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3. Sex

Photo by Pradeep Ranjan on Unsplash

Your potential romantic partner might be a virus-laden super-spreader. What to do?

Reports Yvette d’Entremont:

Dating isn’t dead due to COVID-19, but it sure looks a lot different.

From socially distanced coffee meetings in separate cars to touring museums together via their own personal computers, people are finding creative ways to date and find a mate.

Saint Mary’s University researcher and psychology professor Maryanne Fisher is hoping to learn more about the pandemic’s effect on dating, romance and sex via a new survey.

Click here to read “Dating, romance, and sex in the pandemic.”

4. Stephen McNeil, autocrat

Premier Stephen McNeil at the virtual post-cabinet meeting scrum, June 18, 2020. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

I attended (virtually) yesterday’s post-cabinet scrum, but I’ll let CBC reporter Michael Gorman introduce the subject:

Premier Stephen McNeil suggested Thursday that holding legislative committees right now would put the health and safety of the province at risk.

McNeil made the comments on the same day he announced an easing of public gathering restrictions and plans to open Nova Scotia to visitors from the rest of the country by the middle of July.

“There will be lots of time for [reporters] and the opposition to question [Chief Medical Officer of Health] Dr. [Robert] Strang, and we’ll do that,” McNeil said. “But I’m not willing, quite frankly, to put at risk the health and well-being of Nova Scotians to satisfy a committee meeting.”

This is patently ridiculous. As I pointed out yesterday on Twitter, it’s now considered sufficiently safe for me to get a pedicure, then a tattoo, then sit in a bar and drunkenly hug nine other ne’er-do-wells, but it’s too dangerous for the Health Committee to meet?

McNeil then went on to say it isn’t so much that the committee meeting itself wouldn’t be safe, but his government has better ways to spend its time than to go to committee meetings. Gorman continues:

McNeil said it was important when they made the decision to suspend committees until the fall to allow Strang and other public health and Health Department officials to focus on the pandemic, and now for them to focus on reopening the health-care system as the curve flattens. Nova Scotia has not had a new case of COVID-19 for nine days.

This just made me angry. My exchange with McNeil:

Bousquet: I’d like to return to the committee thing. Again, premier you said that you feel like now is the time to focus on the public health of the province and therefore the committees aren’t meeting. But I wonder what you think the purpose of the health committee is if not to focus on the public health of the province? And doesn’t it set a precedent for any future government to say, well, you know, we have a majority, therefore we don’t need to have to engage any of the opposition?

McNeil: Well, Tim, I’ve been here now 17 years. Every committee votes on their meeting schedule. They have that for 17 years. And before that, the committees determine that. And the governing party who happens to be us at the moment in time, voted. This is not the first time that committees have not sat in the summer. It is the first time, though, Tim, that we’ve had a pandemic in my 17 years. It is the first time that public health is required to focus on the health and well-being of Nova Scotians in such an environment. Even you would have to agree with that. So I think Nova Scotians would expect us to focus on that first. I realize that there will be lots of time for you and the opposition to question Dr. Strang, and we’ll do that. But I’m not willing, quite frankly, to put at risk the health and well-being of Nova Scotians to satisfy a committee meeting. That is just not going to happen. And I’ve been very clear about it. You can be mad about it. You can disagree with me. And that’s okay. But I am going to stay focused on the health and well-being of Nova Scotians, and I’m going to ask public health to do the same thing.

Bousquet: You know, it’s all about being mad or disagreeing. I think the argument that’s out there is that in times of crisis, wherever that crisis is, the most democratic input is required. And here we have a health committee whose job it is to focus on the public health of the province. And it’s not meeting. It’s bewildering to me that you can say out of one side of your mouth, that we need to focus on public health. And then on the other say this health committee whose job is to focus on public health won’t be meeting.

McNeil:I don’t know how much more clear I can be. You would have me have public health sit in a committee room for two hours. You would have me have public health, prepare for these committee meetings, take time away from the health and well-being of Nova Scotians. It’s just it’s nonsensical. I appreciate we have a different point of view. That’s what makes this province a wonderful place. We all have different points of view. Fact of the matter is, I’m staying focused on the health and well-being of Nova Scotia, as I expect my members to do the same thing. And I expect public health to the same thing. If there’s MLAs out there that don’t have enough to do. I would suggest to themselves they are not doing a very good job in their own constituencies. Go back and do some work and represent and answer the questions of those you represent. Our caucus is laid out with the issue of public health, the ability for them to ask questions every day. We’d be happy to answer and communicate that back to Nova Scotians. All 51 of us have had the ability every day as caucuses to sit in a committee room and ask public health to go into that committee room when we’re in the middle of a pandemic. I think it is not wise and it’s unhealthy. We’ll debate it, I’m sure, for the months to come, and I’m sure I’ll be criticized for it as well. But I’m glad that I’m getting an opportunity express directly to Nova Scotians through my own words and not through not through someone else’s words exactly the reason why we are doing this, because I want public health to be focused on Nova Scotians and not committee room.

Stephen McNeil is behaving as an autocrat.

5. 6 years

Yesterday was the Examiner’s sixth birthday. We published the first post on June 18, 2014.

Even back then, the Examiner wouldn’t have existed were it not for the many friends and supporters who helped as I figured out how to run a media organization. And over the intervening years, the Examiner has steadily grown to be an entire team of excellent reporters and contributors, such that we’ve been well-placed to tackle the multiple crises of 2020. I could not be more proud of the work my colleagues are producing.

Still, I worry. I guess it’s the curse of every business owner, but each day starts for me by opening up the books, seeing where we’re at financially, and juggling what new projects to take on with the money available to pay for them. And I fret.

When I started the Examiner, I only half-jokingly said if it didn’t work out I could go flip burgers or tend bar somewhere and I’d be fine. I don’t have kids, and I don’t need much money to live on. But increasingly, I’m conscious that there are now other people who are dependant on the Examiner for their livelihood, and keeping them employed is my top responsibility. I say this as I watch the news industry get decimated, with entire newsrooms shut down and reporters everywhere losing their jobs.

I don’t know what the future holds. Hopefully, we’ll look back at 2020 as this terribly aberrant year and we’ll return to the usual parade of government financial scandal and corporate bullying. Probably not, says the perpetual pessimist; probably social strife, pestilence, and climate change-related disasters are the new norm. But either way, we’ll need a strong, independent media to help us wade through. I hope that includes the Halifax Examiner.

All of which is to say, we’d appreciate your assistance. Subscribing is the best way to keep the Examiner team working. Thanks much!

In the harbour

06:00: Boa Odin, tug, arrives at Pier 9 with Boabarge 34 from Storasund, Norway
09:00: Maersk Mobiliser, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 27 from the Sable Island field
11:30: Torm Agnes, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Antwerp
14:30: Algoterra, oil tanker, moves from Imperial Oil to Irving Oil
15:30: ZIM Shekou, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
16:00: HMCS Harry DeWolf, offshore patrol vessel, moves from Shipyard to Pier 2
16:00: Maersk Mobiliser sails for sea
16:30: Torm Agnes moves to Imperial Oil
18:00: Toscana, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
18:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
20:00: Algoma Verity, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Portsmouth, Maine


Check out the podcast!

My work isn’t done on this. I’m writing more today, and back into the recording studio a couple of more times, and then there’s additionally promotional work and such. It’s been a full year, and there’s no end in sight.

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

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  1. Congratulations on six years. I don’t agree with the some of what gets written on here, but nobody else really reports on the corruption, graft and general incompetence that characterizes Nova Scotian government and power (power in general, not electricity), so here I am. It is certainly interesting to read different perspectives every morning, however.

      1. Imagine if I were on Twitter so I could give you your nickel. I love your work and am not some sort of radical who froths at the mouth at a disagreement, I don’t see what the big deal is.

  2. The simple question to MacNeil is, if he is concerned about safety, why not host the committee meeting over zoom? Follow-up: Why are you always the angry dad?

    Congratulations on the Examiner birthday. I look forward to it every morning and proud to be a supporter. It has become the “paper of record” for Halifax, if such a term means anything anymore (and just to add to Tim’s burden of responsibility)

  3. Happy Birthday! I’m a new subscriber who is enjoying learning so much more about everything. Please keep up the excellent reporting.

    Would like to know how come McNeil and his members cannot meet using technology? Isn’t that what we’ve all been encouraged to do? Surely he has access to the technology, unlike many others in this province…..

    1. Thanks for subscribing!

      Oh, they have the technology, and in fact that’s how cabinet meets. They just don’t want the committees to meet.

  4. Tim, congratulations on Six Years of the Halifax Examiner ! Well done ! Your foresight, courage, and intrepid stubborn self have grown a truly needed vehicle for getting the news out in a smart and vivid fashion. All of your reporters are excellent, as a society we are lucky to have them. Nova Scotia is a place where people don’t discuss what they don’t want to know… you’ve broken through that wall time and again. Thank you. Don’t ever stop.

  5. Hmmm yes there are autocratic tendencies for sure in the ‘old boy’ style politics of Nova Scotia. These tendencies unfortunately predate the pandemic. Now I guess we just have to be ‘grateful’ that middle aged white men are telling us what to do ‘for our own good’. Arghhh.

  6. Dear Tim,
    Four things.
    (1) You’re dead right about the Premier being an autocrat (and about how his position on the committee not meeting is silly). I would add that this kind of thing is inherent in our parliamentary system. Call in systemic autocracy. The executive branch completely overshadows the legislative branch (e.g., Trudeau essentially ignoring Parliament during overlapping national crises). If I may be permitted, my new book deals with this – “Nothing Left to Lose: An Impolite Report on the State of Freedom in Canada.” Buy it!
    (2) Congratulations on the Examiner’s birthday. I subscribed on Day One, and admire what you’ve done. (I specifically refer to you and the Examiner in Nothing Left to Lose. Another reason to buy it.)
    (3) And now I’m listening to your podcasts…
    (4) What a guy!
    Philip Slayton

          1. I ordered some books from Bookmark a few weeks ago. Caitlin handed them to me through the door, and it felt like a drug deal. 😉

  7. I hope nothing else happens in this province, because evidently this government and “Public Health” can deal with only one thing at a time. The McNeil Liberal government’s inability to act democratically while “taking care” of its citizens does not afflict the federal government and every other provincial government. Such singleness of purpose is what you get, I guess, when you pay your Premier a world-class salary and benefits.

  8. As a participant in teleconferenced media scrum Tim discusses above, I found premier McNeil petulant and unnecessarily combative, even taking the time piss on reporters for doing their jobs.

    1. Thank you Mr. Gillespie for this additional information. I guess Premiere McNeil increasingly like to copy President Trump’s approach to media. This is consistent with his luck of understanding of democracy. This became really clear in the exchange with Mr. Bousquet. I think the premier doesn’t even comprehend Mr Bousquet’s questions and makes it clear that he thinks committees are a wast of time. With other word, he is saying that he does not have time for democracy as he dictates anyhow what should be done. This is a very dangerous path we are going down here. I hope Nova Scotians will stand up for democracy.