1. Prisoners and the vote

The Atlantic Institution in Renous, New Brunswick

Reports El Jones:

On Monday, Canadians voted in the federal election. Voting is a right for all Canadians, and this includes people who are incarcerated. Despite being able to vote, prisoners report that they experienced barriers to casting their ballot.

Prisoners in the Atlantic Institution, a federal men’s maximum security facility in Renous, New Brunswick allege that they were prevented from voting. They say that while some prisoners were able to vote, other prisoners were informed that due to their range being partially locked down (where prisoners are confined to their cells), they could not have access.

Corrections Canada has not responded to a request for comment.

Many Canadians are not aware that all prisoners have the right to vote. The Sauvé decision in 2002 established that prisoners could not be excluded from voting. After that decision, Elections Canada provided prisoners access to the vote, but the legislation that prevented incarcerated electors from voting was not actually removed until Bill C-76 was passed in 2018.

Matthew McKenna, a spokesperson for Elections Canada, confirmed in an interview with the Halifax Examiner that there are no restrictions on voting for prisoners. Prisoners cannot be prevented from voting for security reasons, nor because of confinement, lockdown, or any other status.

Click here to read “Prisoners say they were denied their constitutional right to vote.”

2. The Climate Emergency and economic growth

We’ve published the next instalment in Linda Pannozzo’s “Climate Emergency” series, which focuses on how we must change how our economy operates in order to address climate change.

Click here to read “The Climate Emergency, Part 3: How to turn off the economic growth engine.”

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This quote from Peter Victor, who Pannozzo interviewed, jumped out at me:

“Every time I hear a politician — and I hear it all the time — boasting or celebrating some new activity, like a pipeline, ‘Oh, the pipeline is great because we need jobs.’ Nobody is saying we need that oil. What does that tell you? It tells you that the main purpose of that investment, or the main benefit, as it’s seen, is to solve a distributional problem because you need a job to have an income because if you don’t have an income you don’t have access to a share of the output of what the economy produces unless you get some kind of income supplement of some kind.”

This is what is behind my recurring jokes, “if only we do X, we’ll all be rich!” and “where are you spending your Convention Centre riches?”

The economy, meaning the GDP, has been growing at something like 2% a year for decades, and yet most people are not materially better, and a lot are a lot worse. Wages are flat-lined, inequality increases. So, every time we build a convention centre or pay for a ferry or have a pulp mill, there might be a handful of jobs (or maybe not), but the real result is that already-rich people just get richer.

If the already rich get all the increased wealth, it doesn’t matter how much the economy grows, or if it grows at all.

This morning, Premier Stephen McNeil has an oped in Star Halifax. There’s a lot that’s wrong with it, but I’ll let others offer counter arguments. I just want to point out this part:

When our economy grows, all Nova Scotians benefit, because government has more revenue to deliver the programs and services Nova Scotians need and deserve.

But this is an austerity government, cutting government workers’ real wages, and undermining their ability to fight for better wages into the future by implementing anti-strike legislation and trying to get the courts to force striking workers back to work. McNeil’s government has made no effort to increase the minimum wage beyond the legislated CPI increase, which would help lift pay at higher positions in the wage scale. He hasn’t increased social assistance payouts and support for the very poorest in our society. He’s made clear that he’s no friend of labour, yet somehow claims his attacks on workers will improve our economy. Hence another of my recurring jokes: “if only everyone were paid less, we’d all be rich.”

In an accompanying piece in Star Halifax, editor Philip Croucher writes:

But when asked about Nova Scotia workers who are struggling to make ends meet and why the province hasn’t followed others like Alberta and B.C. to a path toward a $15-an-hour minimum wage, McNeil didn’t directly answer the question, choosing instead to praise his government’s work toward making life easier for people.

“We continue to strike the balance of ensuring that we’re providing affordability,” he said.

Nova Scotia has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country at $11.55 per hour, according to the Retail Council of Canada. Nova Scotia’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase by about 55 cents in both April 2020 and April 2021.

McNeil brought up the stabilization of power rates in recent years as one example of how life has become more affordable for Nova Scotians. He also noted that a growing economy like Nova Scotia’s should eventually lead to better pay for workers.

“When we have an increase in the price of lobster, we see not only the buyer’s price go up, but the deck hands get more, the lobster owner gets more, more money is spent around those particular communities,” McNeil said.

Not really. For the most part, the revenue from increased lobster sales goes to one man, who parks a significant amount of his wealth in offshore tax havens. If we had a more equitable distribution of wealth, lobster sales could go down, and people in fishing communities would still do better. (Not to mention the real threat that climate change and overfishing may one day destroy the local lobster industry.)

As Pannozzo is pointing out with great clarity, tying prosperity to economic growth is a fool’s game.

Speaking of fools’ games…

3. Gold mining

Water Not Gold rally. Photo courtesy Michael Maclean

Joan Baxter attended a “Water Not Gold” protest outside the Gold Show at the Alt Hotel at the airport, and reports on what happened. Baxter then unpacks the economic arguments the government uses to justify subsidizing gold operations, including the “jobs” calculations, which are wanting for a variety of reasons.

Baxter concludes:

What this all suggests is that the government is determined to double down on its unquestioning support for still more gold exploration and mining in the province.

This, despite the lack of information on the revenue that gold mining would bring, and the abundant and growing amounts of information about the long-term environmental and health risks of gold mining, particularly during a climate crisis and increasing recognition that potable water supplies are particularly vulnerable to the changing climate.

Not only does gold mining use large quantities of fresh water, but its tailings management facilities must be monitored and managed in perpetuity to ensure that they do not break, or leach acid into aquifers and other water bodies.

Reacting to [Energy and Mines Minister Derek] Mombourquette’s interview on Information Morning, former HRM councillor and hydrogeologist Peter Lund wrote that the gold mines proposed by Atlantic Gold, are “a disaster in the making that could last for generations long after the mining company has made their millions and left town.”

Such warnings were loud and clear at the Water Not Gold rally last week outside the Alt Hotel, but it seems the minister and the others inside just couldn’t hear them — or didn’t want to.

Click here to read “Nova Scotia government doubles down on gold mining.”

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4. Uranium mining

The province’s radon risk map.

We’ve taken Joan Baxter’s September 26 article, “The ban on uranium exploration and mining is safe – for now,” out from behind the paywall.

In the article, Baxter recounted the testimony of not one, not two, but three different representatives of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia representatives who presented to the legislature’s Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development — the “MANS-men, who outnumbered the government officials on the all-male panel.”

Baxter ended with her personal observation:

I wanted also to mention how many times [Mining Association of Nova Scotia president Sean] Kirby spoke about all the jobs to be had, if only we would lift the ban on uranium mining and send a signal to the global mining industry that we want to “create jobs in the province,” because that is important if we want to “keep growing the economy.”

I lived for a time in Niger in West Africa and had a chance to visit one of its large uranium mines, which was one of the most hellish, depressing places I’ve been in my life, rife with social inequities, environmental devastation, and environmental racism. Uranium has been mined in Niger since 1971 and the country produces 5% of the world supply. Nevertheless, in 2018, Niger ranked dead last — 189th of 189 countries evaluated — on the United Nations human development index.

Click here to read “The ban on uranium exploration and mining is safe – for now.”

5. Fracking explosives

“A remote corner of the municipal district of West Hants has been rezoned so its American owner, Halliburton Partners Canada, can manufacture ‘perforation equipment’ used in offshore oil and gas exploration,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Since February, Halliburton — the largest provider of “fracking” services in the world — has been storing explosives used in the oil and gas exploration industry at the site of a former barite mine several kilometres up a dirt road off highway 215 near Walton on the Hants Shore of the Bay of Fundy.

The explosives are trucked in from Texas and their transportation is regulated by Transport Canada. The explosives are used to create small holes in the drill pipe so fluid under high pressure can seep out and crack rock to allow oil and gas to flow during the drilling of wells, like those underway off Newfoundland. Other uses of the explosives involve the decommissioning, plugging, and abandonment of natural gas wells offshore Sable Island.

What the rezoning means for the future remains anybody’s guess.

Click here to read “UARB approves fracking explosives assembly site in West Hants.”

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6. Cop charged with multiple thefts

Constable Jennifer McPhee. Photo: Halifax Regional Police

A police release from yesterday:

Halifax Regional Police (HRP) today [Thursday] laid an additional 30 charges against 42-year-old Constable Jennifer McPhee in relation to a number of thefts that have occurred at five Atlantic Superstores in the Halifax-area.

On September 13, HRP received a report regarding a theft involving an HRP officer at the Atlantic Superstore located at 210 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax. The officer was arrested and released that evening on an appearance notice. Cst. McPhee is facing seven charges in relation to this incident.

Through the ongoing investigation, members of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division have charged Cst. McPhee with 1 count each of theft under $5,000 and possession of stolen property under $5,000 in relation to the following incidents:

  • August 3, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 650 Portland Street, Dartmouth
  • August 3, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 650 Portland Street, Dartmouth
  • August 24, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 210 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax
  • August 26, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 3601 Joseph Howe Drive, Halifax
  • August 28, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 9 Braemar Drive, Dartmouth
  • August 30, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 3601 Joseph Howe Drive, Halifax
  •  September 1, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 3601 Joseph Howe Drive, Halifax
  •  September 4, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 650 Portland Street, Dartmouth
  • September 4, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 9 Braemar Drive, Dartmouth
  • September 5, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 1075 Barrington Street, Halifax
  • September 5, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 210 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax
  • September 6, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 1075 Barrington Street, Halifax
  • September 10, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 1075 Barrington Street, Halifax
  • September 11, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 650 Portland Street, Dartmouth
  • September 11, 2019: Atlantic Superstore, 9 Braemar Drive, Dartmouth

Cst. McPhee was arrested today at approximately 9 a.m. in Halifax. She was released to appear in Halifax Provincial Court on November 18, 2019 to face the charges.

Cst. McPhee, who has over 17 years of service with HRP, remains suspended with pay in accordance with the Nova Scotia Police Act. 

In 2012, McPhee was charged with impaired driving.



No public meetings.


Legislature sits (Friday, 9am, Province House)

On campus



Noon Hour Woodwinds Recital (Friday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with students of Patricia Creighton, Christine Feierabend, Brian James, Suzanne Lemieux, and Eileen Walsh.

Call it Collaboration (Friday, 1pm, Studio Two, Dal Arts Centre) — Jillian Keiley will talk. More info here.

Open Educational Resources: Availability, Adaptability, and Affordability (Friday, 1pm, Room B400, Killam Library) — Grant Potter from the University of Northern British Columbia will lead this two-hour workshop. More info and registration here.

Studying, working, and travelling in China (Friday, 4pm, Room 2102, Marion McCain Building) — Ievgeniia Rozhenko will lead a round-table discussion and information session. More info here.

 Cello masterclass (Friday, 7:30pm, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with Stèphane Tètreault.

Saint Mary’s


Ritual Assemblages of Territorial Imagination in Cambodia (Friday, 12pm, MM 227) — a talk by Erik W. Davis from Malacaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Poster image by Melissa Labrador, photo by Malachy Schwartz

ELAPULTIEK by Fire (Saturday, 6:30pm, The Oaks, Saint Mary’s University) —  a play written by poet and playwright shalan joudry, a Mi’kmaq artist from Bear River. From the listing:

In the time of Idle No More, a young Mi’kmaw biologist and drum singer and a Euro-Nova Scotian biologist meet at dusk each day to count a population of endangered Chimney Swifts. As their relationship deepens over time, they struggle with their differing views of the world. Each ‘count night’ reveals a deeper complexity of connection to land, history, and ecology, and of reconciliation on a personal level.

More info here.



Digital Scholarship in Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Friday, 3:15pm, KTS Lecture Hall, New Academic Building) — an informal roundtable with Jennifer Bain and Lyn Bennett from Dalhousie University; Marie-France Guénette from the Université de Montréal; Leah Grandy from the University of New Brunswick; and Keith Grant from Crandall University. More info here.

The Apprenticeship of Richard Robinson: The Making of an Early Modern Boy Actress (Friday, 6:30pm, KTS Lecture Hall, New Academic Building)— Roberta Barker will talk.

In the harbour

05:30: Primrose Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Bremerhaven, Germany
06:00: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of Boston
06:00: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
08:45: Riviera, cruise ship with up to 1,447 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John, on an 11-day cruise from New York to Montreal
14:00: ZIM Constanza sails for New York
15:00: Brighton, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
15:30: Primrose Ace sails for sea
16:00: Augusta Sun, cargo ship, moves from Pier 31 to Pier 28
17:45: Riviera sails for Sydney
18:30: Serenade of the Seas sails for Boston
20:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
21:00: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John


I can’t express how grateful I am that there are so many talented and hardworking freelancers contributing to the Examiner.

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

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  1. Joan Baxter is probably too modest to plug her books, but she wrote a series of them about her experiences in Africa. I’ve only read one (A Serious Pair of Shoes) and it was excellent.

  2. McNeil doesn’t want well paid (unionized) people working in Nova Scotia. To him and other neoliberals government is not the solution, government is the problem. The market will take care of everyone’s needs – from the price of lobsters to the cost of housing in Halifax. Yet government regulations and initiatives distort “the free market” all the time.

    Interesting article in Vox this morning about the growth of cities.

    What’s happening in Halifax certainly seems tohave already happened in NYC and DC and politicians like Stephen MacNeil will only make it worse.

    1. Neoliberal thought is government is the problem. Unless of course, we’re talking about government salaries, benefits and great pensions for neoliberals themselves.

  3. Isn’t the “if only X, we’d all be rich” line getting stale, Tim, especially since you seem to be the only person ever to have said this? As straw men go, it’s flimsy.

    How about this as an alternative? “If only employees could set their own wages, we’d all be rich.”

    We could start by setting minimum freelance fees at $2/word, with an escalator clause so this never falls below the cost of living index.

    1. Yeah I’m with Tim on this. This downward pressure on wages to attract “investment”, which we pay for anyway bullshit has to stop. Ideally employees would share, in the broadest sense, in the companys profits, and Nova Scotians would share in the profits from our resources.

      But governments seem much too eager to give everything away at rock bottom prices while “investing” in the companies reaping the profits in the first place.