1. The offshore windfall

Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Stephen Kimber writes:

Last week’s seemingly out-of-the-blue government announcements re: the offshore windfall and the bottomless ferry pit share the same dated father-knows-best worldview of political decision-making in which we, the voters, get to cast our ballots for a myriad of unconnected, disconnected reasons once every four years and then shut up for the next four while the government claims to act in our name.

Click here to read “Stephen McNeil, the offshore windfall, and the royal ‘we.’”

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2. Irishtown

Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day, and so El Jones looked at how the Irish in North America abandoned their solidarity with Black people in order to “earn” white status:

Daniel O’Connell, “The Liberator,” (the “darling” of the Charitable Irish Society of Halifax) who also led the campaign for Irish freedom and the end to union with the British, threatened American Irish who supported slavery. “Dare countenance the system of slavery,” he warned, “and we will recognize you as Irishmen no more.”

In 1841, O’Connell inspired and signed “An Address of the People of Ireland to their Countrymen and Countrywomen in America,” which condemned American slavery. Some 60,000 Irish citizens signed the address.

But in what [Noel Ignatiev, author of How the Irish Became White]  calls the “saddest words ever written about the Irish diaspora,” the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison wrote that,”Even to this hour, not a single [North American] Irishman has come forward, either publicly or privately, to express his approval of the address, or to avow his determination to abide by its sentiments.”

Click here to read “Kiss Me, I’m Rioting.”

Saint Patrick’s Day didn’t start off well, according to a police release:

At 1:00 a.m. 18 March, Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of an injured male bleeding outside the Toothy Moose bar at 1661 Argyle Street, Halifax. Officers confirmed the injured male was stabbed inside the bar by an unknown male. Officers arrested a male inside that is believed to be involved in the incident. The Toothy Moose bar was shut down by police for processing by the Forensic Identification Section. Officers are searching for the suspect and Investigators with the General Investigation Section of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division are currently investigating.

I happened to be walking on Brunswick Street just as the noon gun was set off, and right at that moment came upon a pile of vomit below the Town Clock. It was the perfect Halifax trifecta: the noon gun, the Town Clock, the Saint Patrick’s Day vomit.

That evening, police responded to a party on Preston Street, just south of Quinpool Road. According to the police release:

At 8:00 p.m. 17 March, Halifax Regional Police Liquor Enforcement Unit executed a Summary Proceeding Search Warrant in the 1900 Block of Preston Street Halifax, for a St. Patrick’s Day party selling liquor without a license, contrary to the Liquor Control Act. Three adult males were issued Summary Offence Tickets under the Liquor Control Act with a Halifax Court Date.

And Halifax lawyer Barbara Darby chronicles the long history of Saint Patrick Day-related judgments in Canadian courts, noting:

To my surprise, the Supreme Court of Canada has used shamrock tattoos on a person’s buttock to illustrate a legal point. Justice Sopinka in R. v. Evans [1993] 3 SCR 653 distinguishes between hearsay evidence and evidence that goes to identifying an accused:


For example, if a declarant stated: “I have a tattoo on my left buttock which measures 1 centimetre by 1½ centimetres and resembles a four-leaf clover” and it was proved that the accused had such a tattoo on his left buttock, the identity of the group to which the declarant belonged would be narrowed to include the accused as the most likely person, and his family or intimate friends, who would be in a position to know this fact. The statement has probative value without assuming the truth of the statement because the mere fact that it was made tells us something relevant about the declarant that connects him to the accused.

Come for the shamrock ass tattoos, but stay for the sad case of the dead polar bear.

3. Examineradio 150

Carrie Dawson, an English professor at Dalhousie University.

Dalhousie prof Carrie Dawson explains academic freedom and why you should care about it. Plus, we talk about sexual harassment in the restaurant industry and why the EMCAs pulled a nomination for Indigenous Artist of the Year.

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4. A 16-year-old girl died as a result of an alleged crime, and the public wasn’t told

On today’s police commission agenda, there’s an information report about notable investigations that includes this item:

On February 21, 2016, police responded to a in Halifax in relation to a report of a 16- year-old girl in medical distress. The girl was pronounced deceased at the scene and investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death was conducted. Through the course of the investigation, investigators determined there was evidence to lay drug trafficking charges. On February 26, 2018 police arrested a 21-year-old man at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth without incident.

So far as I know, this is the first public notification of the incident.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll reiterate: when someone dies unexpectedly, and especially because of an alleged crime, it’s a public concern. A death shouldn’t be buried in a report like this.

5. Knowledge House

Dan Leger gives an overview of the decades-long Knowledge House case, and concludes:

Knowledge House also sucked up $1.2 million from the Nova Scotia Department of Education, which wanted to use its technologies in the schools. That money vanished into the Knowledge House pit just days after it was paid over, reportedly to cover Colpitts’ legal fees.

Even all these years later, questions remain about the actions of some trusted institutions. Securities regulators dropped the ball by failing to notice the pattern of suspicious trading. Then they hid the agreement with National Bank, which contained crucial information, for seven years.

The Nova Scotia Bar Society failed to supervise Colpitts’ role in the case, even after investors complained and criminal charges were laid. It took no sanctions against those who created the secret deal with the bank. Those failures have never been explained.

The meteoric rise and drastic collapse of Knowledge House demonstrates what happens when greed overtakes ethics. That Nova Scotia’s public institutions took so long to fix it suggests an accountability gap that might still be there, waiting for the next market disaster.

6. Animals

There are lots of headlines about David Hendsbee asking Halifax council to look at chickens “again,” but so far as I can remember, the full regional council has never debated chickens in the first place.

It’s impossible to search council minutes on the new and improved crappy new city website, but my recollection is that chickens came up in conversation around 2012, when then-councillor Jennifer Watts raised them in an off-handed way, and within 10 seconds it was agreed that this was a zoning issue best left to the community councils. Again, I’m going by memory, but the issue was then taken up by the Halifax & West Community Council, if by “taken up” we mean that there was a staff report that said chickens were not prohibited by bylaws that apply to the peninsula. And that was that. The point being: there’s no “again” here.

By the way, council discussion of various animal issues is often held up by some as a way to ridicule politicians. This is unfair. Citizens have a wide range of concerns, and sometimes those concerns involve animal issues and passions run extremely high; it’s only right that politicians respond.

I’ll use the proposed cat bylaw as the perfect example.

Nearly every councillor has experienced the unwelcome situation of a cat hoarder — the stereotypical “crazy cat woman” who has 100 or 200 cats (in reality, just as often, the hoarder is a man). Living next door — or down the block, even — from a cat hoarder is no picnic. The entire street smells of cat urine and worse. Cats roam around and dig up gardens. There are crazed and screeching cat orgies at night. Often, the animals are not cared for medically, and there are humanitarian concerns about the condition of the felines. Quite understandably, residents want something to be done.

As I remember how it played out, then-councillor Jim Smith, representing the north end of Dartmouth, had not one but two cat hoarders in his district, and so double the number of citizen complaints. The problem was there was no effective municipal mechanism for dealing with the hoarders (the SPCA now gets involved, but that wasn’t then the case, and even now the SPCA is regulated by a different level of government).

Smith recommended a licensing regime for cats, something along the line of you could have up to four cats, but beyond that they had to be approved by a cat czar or some such (again, I’m working from memory, so some of the details are hazy). Many other councillors had experienced cat hoarders, and so the cat regulations seemed like a possible approach to the problem. Staff was directed to come back with a report, which in turn recommended an overly complex cat bylaw, but council voted to proceed, with several caveats — most importantly, that a cat shelter first be in place to house cats found wandering the streets without a collar or those seized from illegal hoarders. So staff went away again for a few weeks, and came back with a plan that would see a cat shelter operated by the SPCA, at a cost of something like a million and half dollars a year. Councillors balked at the expense of the plan, and then overturned their previous motion to enact the cat bylaw, leaving things at where they began.

For some reason, the cat debate was held up to ridicule, but this is exactly how things are supposed to work. Councillors responded to concerns voiced by many citizens, and attempted to address a problem via legislation. They directed staff to study the issue and map out a plan, and when councillors got more information, they changed their minds, finding the plan too complex and too expensive and generating too much controversy. Yah, councillors! sez I.

Like it or not, citizens get worked up about animals, and animals create problems for government. It’s the duty of councillors to deal with such things, and always has been. At its very first meeting in 1841, the council’s first order of business, after dealing with election procedures, was to adopt a dog ordinance. (That bit of business taken care of, council then turned its attention to “Dalhousie College raiding around Parade” and an ordinance regulating “dramatic exhibitions.”)

The first “dog tax” was created in the 1850s, but council’s bigger concern was with cattle. On June 7, 1853, council passed a “By Law relative to Cattle going at large.” Two years later, council passed a “Resolution relative to impounding Cattle by Soldiers.” In 1857, council turned its attention to a “By‐Law relative to Slaughtering Cattle in the City Limits,” and a cattle pound was maintained by the city at least through the 1890s. This seemed a legitimate enterprise as in 1890 a citizen named Herbert Harris complained to council about “cattle going at large upon Robie and North Streets.”

This is what government does. Councillors have to take up animal issues. Stop ridiculing them for it.




Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. Update: meeting cancelled.

Accessing Affordable, Healthy Food (Monday, 1pm, Helen Creighton Room, Alderney Gate Public Library) — I wrote about this here:

The city this morning issued a request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for a “Smart Cities Challenge” being promoted by the federal government. The EOI explains:

The Smart Cities Challenge is a pan-Canadian competition open to communities of all sizes, including municipalities, regional governments and Indigenous communities (First Nations, Métis and Inuit). The Challenge encourages communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology.

But is technology the best way to address these problems? Undoubtedly, the proposed solutions will include apps and mobile grocery stores and maybe a bureaucracy to best match subsidized groceries to people in need…

Meanwhile, the city has more than 600 employees making over $100,000 a year. These are mostly city managers and cops hauling in overtime. Nothing against those 600 people, but at the same time, the very same city is contracting out needed services like janitorial work and snow removal; the entire point of contracting out those services is to get around public employee unions. That is, were the workers paid directly by the city, they’d start at something close to a living wage (around $20/hour), while the contractors can instead pay shit wages, usually at or close to the legal minimum wage (starting in April, $11/hour).

In other words, many of the people living in poverty are people doing necessary work for the same city that now proposes to find a technological solution to the food security issues for those poor people. Moreover, the “solution” will be managed by some of those City Hall employees making more than $100,000, who will farm out the gee-whiz innovative solutions!! to tech firms via big-dollar contracts.

There’s lots of big money to be made “addressing poverty.” The city managers will get get big money. The tech firms will get big money. The PR people pimping the caring city will get big money. The federal bureaucrats pushing their “Smart Cities Challenge” will get big money. Amarjeet Sohi, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, will get his big salary and equally big kisses on the ass for being “innovative” and all tech-y.

The only people not in on the big money gravy chain to supposedly address poverty are the poor people themselves.

You want to address poverty? Here’s an idea: pay poor people more. Instead of farting around with apps and technology and too-clever-by-half “innovation,” the city could start by adopting living wage requirements for its own contractors. Instead of feeding the rhetorical bullshit around “innovation” that doesn’t change social relations or structural inequality one iota, the various governments could raise social assistance payments and get serious about creating a guaranteed or basic income.

We don’t solve poverty by making rich people richer.

Centre Plan – Discuss Package “A” (Monday, 6:30pm, Saint Joseph’s-Alexander McKay School) — Info here. Dog, meet pony. Pony, dog.

Public Information Meeting – Case 21379 (Monday, 7pm, Prospect Road Community Centre) — Atakaliti Mulu and Felekech Woldehana want to build a church at 797 Prospect Road in Goodwood, on a lot that’s zoned residential.


City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda; maybe I’ll get into it more tomorrow.

Accessing Affordable, Healthy Food (Tuesday, 5:30pm, Sackville Public Library) — Round 2.

Accessing Affordable, Healthy Food (Tuesday, 6pm, Musquodoboit Harbour Public Library) — Round 2B.



No public meetings.


Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)

On campus



Woodwinds Recital (Monday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Patricia Creighton, Christine Feierabend, Brian James, Suzanne Lemieux, and Eileen Walsh will perform.

Ladom Ensemble World Fusion Workshop (Monday, 1:45pm, Room 121, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — from the event listing:

Ladom Ensemble combines piano, cello, accordion, and percussion in a unique blend of acoustic chamber and world music that is passionate, sophisticated, and wild. Their all-original repertoire incorporates inspirations from Argentinean tango, Serbian folk and dance traditions, Persian classical repertoire, as well as music from the Classical (Bach, Prokofiev), and progressive rock worlds (Radiohead). Ladom doesn’t pretend to represent any one tradition, but rather expresses an authentically Canadian fusion. Ladom’s musical identity is combined from many sources and reflects a beautiful new world with a Western classical toolset.

Why More People Should Choose to Have Children with Down Syndrome (Monday, 7pm, The Nook, 2118 Gottingen Street) — bioethicist Chris Kaposy from Memorial University will talk about his book Choosing Down Syndrome: Ethics and New Prenatal Testing Technologies.

Donna Morrissey. Photo: Bridget Morrissey

Donna Morrissey (Monday, 7pm, Room 301, Halifax Central Library) — the author will read from her novel The Fortunate BrotherRegister here.

Universality, Cultural Difference, and the Construction of Philosophy as “Western” (Monday, 7:30pm, Room 1011, Rowe Management Building) — Franklin Perkins, from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, will speak. Discussion to follow on Tuesday, 1pm, in the Wilson Common Room, New Academic Building, King’s.


Help Design the Bicentennial Commons (Tuesday, 10am, Alumni Lounge, Sexton Campus) — the Dalhousie’s Campus Master Plan calls for a re-design of the area at the top of University Avenue, adjacent to the Killam Library. More info here.

Plasmon-enhanced Solar Energy Conversion in Metal-semiconductor Heterojunctions (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Nianqiang (Nick) Wu from West Virginia University will speak.

Relations for Clifford+T Operators on Two Qubits (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Xiaoning Bian will speak. I don’t know what that means, either.

Fair Pricing for Journals: Public Consultation (Tuesday, 4:15pm, Room 229, B Building, Sexton Campus) — rescheduled from last week because of the snow. From the event listing:

The “big deal” as a model for purchasing scholarly journals is no longer sustainable for mid-sized universities like Dalhousie. The five largest bundles we subscribe to have increased in cost by 78% since 2010. One bundle costs $850,000. In another bundle, fewer than 40% of the titles are being used by Dalhousie researchers, scholars and students. We subscribe to dozens of bundles. This year, we are examining over 7,000 titles in six bundles that are up for renewal. We want your input. Attend a public consultation and select which journals are important to you at: https://fairprice.library.dal.ca

Activism in Words and Songs (Tuesday, 6pm, Room 307, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — panel discussions, spoken words, songs, and a Zambian dance by Mulenga Kasutu, to celebrate the 2018 Commemoration of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day.

YouTube video

Lion’s Love […and Lies] (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — a screening of Agnès Varda’s 1969 film.

Muskrat Falls (Tuesday, 7pm, Halifax Central Library) — Jerry Bannister will speak about “Muskrat Falls and the Maritime Link: Politics, Myths, and Hydroelectricity in Atlantic Canada.”

In the harbour

3am: Glen Canyon Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
6am: Miraculous Ace, car carrier, moves from anchorage to Autoport
6am: Aristomenis, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
8am: Asian Sun, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Caucedo, Dominican Republic
4:30pm: Aristomenis, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica


I don’t know.

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

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  1. The Rats …on Alma Cres are takin over, I keep callin Russ, he makes no fuss, he say’s he is on it, like Wallace and Gromet, but the rats are tearin the parking lot down, it’s a sad state, I contacted Patricia about it, but MLA’s don’t want to deal with vermin, I got Co-workers and friends that live in the Alma Cres building. I guess that the open garbage from Subway and Mary Browns are keepin them rats as phat as cats! Go by and have a view, it is not what it was back wheen google viewed it, the rats have piled dirt in front of the gabian wall at 19 Alma Cres.

  2. The fact that the city website cost 2 million has nothing to do with in-house skills were passed over, in favour of cronyism? Functionality may not have been a deliverable.

  3. Police Commission meeting cancelled; probably unable to have a quorum.
    They won’t be evaluating the performance of Chief Blais. The evaluation last year included 4 new members; Beals,Mason,Mancini & McDougall who had between them almost no experience to insufficient knowledge of his performance. Mr Graham was not present as his annual winter sojourn in Arizona was well underway.
    April will bring 2 new members – one will be Indigenous if HRM and the province can get their act together. The provincial website for appointments shows a vacancy for a provincial appointee to the HRM Board of Police Commissioners – send your application to the Justice department if you enjoy a 2 hour dose of frustration once a month.

  4. Yes Councillors should deal with animal issues; but the length of time it took them to deal with the cat issue was hilariously sad… and if anyone thinks the issue has been put to bed, just remember they have nine lives…. the cats not the Councillors… although some similarities do seem to exist.

  5. It is pathetic that the search engine on the City’s website is practically useless.

    I see they are still blaming it on Google.

    1. When one has a policy to accept lowest price solutions, one often receives equivalent value when it comes to performance and utility.

        1. $2Million was the the contract price but obviously there were no enforceable measures with respect to performance outcomes for the project. The public engagement testing that was done, was on a system that was not fully developed, seemed silly at the time… I took part in that testing and the initial look was good; but key elements like the search engine were not fully function during the testing process that involved the public.

          It would appear that the project was never fully completed, or if the contractor met all the requirements for the project, then those requirements were significantly lacking or not properly verified functional. One could argue that the data retrieval part of any database project is perhaps the most important component. It makes no sense to store data and not have a robust and effective method to mine that data.

          Pointing fingers after the fact serves little purpose unless there is a process to resolve the issues once the the finger pointing ceases. Bottom line, the problem needs to be fixed and if it will cost more money, so be it; because not fixing the search engine problem is unacceptable.

  6. It is also important to remember that sometimes members of Council bring things forward to Council because people in their community want it brought forward. It does not necessarily mean that the member is a proponent of it. That should be what elected representatives do.

  7. I am surprised that Halifax, the hipster capital of the Maritimes, does not have a bylaw in place permitting and regulating backyard hens.

    1. Urban chicken issues came up in HRM at least as far back as 2007. I “interviewed” three refugee hens kicked out of Halifax who, because of bylaw violations, were seeking sanctuary in Hants County.

  8. Instead of licensing people to own animals, why not just make cat/chicken/dog ownership a privilege that can be lost temporarily or permanently if you have 200 cats or your dog attacks people or your chickens cause too much of a rat or smell problem?

    The vastly different rates of support among Irish people in Ireland and Irish people in America for racial equality is amazing. Telescopic philanthropy is one of the most fascinating and important social phenomena that doesn’t get discussed enough. It’s very easy to sign a letter that says “oh yes, those poor people overseas shoudn’t be abused”, but once you have skin in the game it’s obviously different.

  9. Just as a bit of context, keep in mind that John Young (of Agricola Street fame) has a model farm (bought in 1819 ran until… late 1830s?) for the province between Windsor Street, Oxford street, Young Street and Vienna Street. Cows and livestock in the 1850s was a very real part, even aside from the role that they would have had in pre-cold chain food systems in various households throughout the city.

  10. While expansion of high speed internet access may be laudable, I don’t think a $120 million hand out to Bell is a good way to do that.