1. Teachers

Photo: Halifax Examiner

The government tabled its Education Reform Act (Bill 72) yesterday. You can read the text of the bill here, and the government’s press release about it here.

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union then issued the following release:

NSTU suspends job action

Following numerous compromises by the McNeil government, the NSTU will not pursue job action in response to legislation being introduced today.

“A college of teachers and a central department of evaluations would have created more unnecessary bureaucracy and would have drained resources from our schools. It is positive those ideas have been rejected,” says NSTU President Liette Doucet. “Similarly, a province-wide seniority list would place rural communities as (sic) risk, so we are pleased that concept is now being reconsidered.”

Doucet says the NSTU is still opposed to the legislation, which could do more harm than good to public education.

“The collegial model is badly damaged with the removal of administrators from our bargaining unit, and I fear this could bring more conflict to our schools. Similarly, I am genuinely fearful of the chaos that the elimination of English school boards will bring to the entire system. This approach has not served our health care system well,” she says.

Doucet wants to thank parents, students and community members for their overwhelming support in recent weeks. She says the powerful statement teachers made with their strike mandate helped raise awareness of the risks associated with the Glaze report.

“Teachers have been united in opposing changes outlined in the Glaze report, and their collective voice has begun to open the eyes and ears of government to the challenges our students are facing. We are well aware of the short-term impact a strike would have on families, and while the government has done enough to avert job action, they still have much more to do to improve our public education system. We will hold them accountable.”

At about the same time, Elwin LeRoux, the Superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board, sent this message to parents:

Earlier today, the provincial government introduced legislation that will result in a number of changes to the administration and governance of the education system. I am reaching out to you to provide information on these changes.

In a nutshell, the changes are intended to streamline and focus the education system on student success, and ensure provincial education policies and programs are delivered equitably and consistently for all students, regardless of where they live or go to school.

These changes will shift resources from administration and governance into classrooms, and create a solid foundation for other improvements; most significantly, increased support for all students through a new model for inclusive education. The independent report of the Commission on Inclusive Education will be presented to government before the end of March.

The legislation, known the Education Reform Act, will result in the following changes:

• Your local school board offices and staff will remain, and be renamed Regional Education Centres. These centres will continue to make the same regional and local decisions (such as busing and snow days) that they do now.

• Teaching support specialists, in math and literacy, will spend more time working directly with classroom teachers to support student learning.

• More resources will move from current board offices into classrooms.

• My title will change to Regional Executive Director of Education. My primary responsibility is to focus on student learning and achievement.

•Elected school boards are being dissolved, as of March 31. You can call Regional Education Centres (formerly school board offices) with any questions you would have previously contacted your elected school board member about.

•You will also have access to an ombudsperson at the Ombudsman’s Office to resolve concerns or complaints about education.

•School Advisory Councils (SACs) will be supported to advance local priorities for their communities. We will be consulting SACs this spring on what supports are needed, funding, and how to ensure diversity in membership.

• The quality of teaching is the most significant contributor to student achievement. Government will work with teachers and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union on teaching and leadership standards.

• Government will work with parents, teachers and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union on ways to more effectively support extracurricular activities in schools and other strategies including French language education, rural education, educational needs of new immigrants, students living in poverty, and children in care.

More information on the work to improve the education system is available at .

Thank you for your support. I will continue to share information with you as it becomes known. Information will also be shared on our website (, Twitter (@HRSB_Official), and through the Alert message system much like this message.


Elwin LeRoux
Superintendent of Schools

The government claims that closing the school boards will “save” $2.3 million annually, money which will then go back into the school system. I have my doubts about that.

The “concession” from the government is explained by Marieke Walsh:

School administrators will be moved from the main Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) bargaining unit to a newly-created Public School Administrators Association. This means principals and vice-principals will no longer be direct members of the teachers union but will maintain an affiliation at least until 2019.

I don’t really understand that, but I guess the broad outlines of the “deal,” such as it is, is that the union agreed to abolishing the school boards in return for the government agreeing to a one-year continuation of the union collecting dues from principals and vice-principals, withdrawing the college of teachers proposal, and not establishing a province-wide seniority list. With that, strike talk was over.

But were the compromise not enough to avoid a strike, the bill also imposes stiffer penalties for illegal strikes, from the existing $10,000 to $100,000. The government says this isn’t punitive but rather sets the fines at the same level as applies to other public employee unions. But come on: who’s kidding whom here?

It’s hard to see this as anything other than a big victory for the McNeil government.

2. Fish farms


“About 600,000 salmon smolts had to be killed following an outbreak in February of infectious salmon anemia at two land-based fish farms in Nova Scotia,” reports Richard Woodbury for the CBC:

Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell said Thursday the two facilities are located close to each other, but wouldn’t name them.

“The virus is just in one location and they move fish from one facility to the other,” he said.

Colwell said the loss amounted to almost all of one company’s fish stock, but wasn’t as significant for the second.

He said there aren’t any health concerns for humans as the virus only affects salmon.

Colwell said it’s unusual to have this kind of outbreak on land-based facilities.

I don’t know why the secrecy. Maybe readers can chime in, but isn’t the advantage of land-based fish farms: if something goes wrong, the damage can be contained?

3. Registry of Joint Stock Companies

The Registry of Joint Stock Companies search page, my most-used government resource.

Yesterday, the province announced a $7.1 million contract with Enterprise Registry Solutions Ltd. (ERS) of Dublin, Ireland to revamp the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. ERS runs the registry in Saskatchewan, where the province charges up to $15 for a search.

I wrote about my worries concerning fees to search the registry back in 2015. But, reports Jacob Boon:

Provincial spokesperson Marla MacInnis says, for now, there are no plans to implement a similar fee structure with Nova Scotia’s registry.

“At this time, no fee changes for searching and obtaining copies of documents are anticipated,” writes MacInnis in an email to The Coast.

All businesses in Nova Scotia are required to register with joint stocks. It’s where journalists, researchers, lawyers, business folk and any curious member of the public can find out the names of those running every local, extra-provincial and numbered company at work in the province.

4. BMO

The Grafton Street Glory Hole. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Roger Taylor has his usual cheerleading for all things Nova Centre, with a kind of nothing burger about BMO moving its offices to the new complex:

BMO’s Halifax headquarters has more than 200 employees occupying two floors or 36,000 square feet. There is also a 4,200-square-foot retail branch located on the ground floor of the complex.

The sheer number of windows at the new office allows the maximum amount of natural light available to come in and, to [Jamie Loughery, senior vice-president at BMO], it seems to energize the BMO workforce.

Yeah, I bet BMO employees are just falling over themselves with glee.

Anyway, I wanted to know more about — which is to say, anything about — lease prices. What’s BMO paying for that energetic workspace? I suspect nothing:

The deal between the province and Ramia’s Argyle Consolidated Inc. was signed in late April 2016, the same week that Argyle signed a loan agreement with Bank of Montreal — for $330 million. The loan was secured firstly by the lease for the convention centre, and then by future leases for the office and hotel towers. (The documents don’t say, but I wonder if BMO also got a discounted rental rate for moving its offices into the Nova Centre.)

My understanding is that a NSLC outlet is going to open on the ground floor, just three blocks away from the other new NSLC about to open on the ground floor of Scotia Square. And there’s the bank, Grant Thornton offices, the convention centre, and nothing else. That’s a lot of space to rent out.

And oh yes, the hotel operator that double-pinky promise is about to be announced but isn’t because the investor has to get a mani-pedi before coming to Halifax to make a big deal about it.


1. More walls

George Parkyns, 1801; Toronto Public Library

Stephen Archibald revisits his stone wall theme:

The peninsula of Halifax and surrounding mainland were once criss-crossed by stone walls. In this 1801 illustration [above] you can see that wall-lined fields separate the ladies and cattle on Fort Needham  from Brunswick Street (St. George’s Round Church) and the Citadel in the distance.

In old Halifax, many suburban roads were edged by long walls, like you see in this view down South Street from Queen [below], painted in 1841. A few years after this painting, houses were build on the land to the right. Stone from the walls could have been used in their foundations.

Alexander Cavalié Mercer, 1841


No public meetings.

On campus


Migration and Health Care (Friday, 12:10pm, Faculty Lounge, Weldon Law Building) — Y.Y. Brandon Chen from the University of Ottawa will speak on “The Challenge of Migration and Health Care Solidarity in Liberal Democracies.”

Catalyst Design with Aromatic Ions (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Tristan H. Lambert from Columbia University will speak.

“Well-brushed Fangs”: Defining and Designing Race in the Interwar Eclaireurs Israélites de France (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Erin Corber will speak.

Improving Campus Equity and Inclusion (Friday, 4:30pm, Room 303, Student Union Building) — a meeting for self-identified Indigenous students. RSVP here.

La Velada (Friday, 6pm, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — the Dalhousie-King’s Spanish Society’s annual celebration of Spanish and Latin American culture. $15/$25; tickets:

Mount Saint Vincent

ArtFest (Friday, 5pm, Art Gallery) —  English students Alexia Major and Samantha VanNorden host performances of student creative works, and a poem by El Jones.

In the harbour

8am: Aniara, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Southampton, England
10am: Glen Canyon Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
4pm: YM Modesty, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
8pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
9pm: Glen Canyon Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
9pm: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk


We recorded the Examineradio podcast yesterday, and it should be published today. Check back.

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

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  1. Tim’s last sentence in the piece on “Teachers” is an accurate assessment.

    Just a comment on the Commission on Inclusive Education’s upcoming report. The commission members are on record as saying that the inclusion model needs substantial change; substantial change means many more resources, and that means large cash expenditures. Examiner readers should keep this in mind as they await, and maybe anticipate, what the three commissioners will recommend.

    The Freeman Panel’s Report specified that the “…implementation of the inclusion model is not working.” (see page 42). As with all reports, you should read between the lines- i.e. INFER. The inference that accompanied this accurate statement by the Freeman Panel is the following- program implementation does not happen in a vacuum. Program implementation is to be MONITORED, ASSESSED , and EVALUATED. Here’s the big ERGO- monitoring, assessment, and evaluation must not have been working either.

    Such monitoring, assessing and evaluating is the job of senior staff, including staff with the Department of Education. It has to be robustly done, and it is very important! So, what will the Commission’s Report say, mid- month, about that?

    What will that report say is the current state of differentiated instruction in the classrooms of Nova Scotia? {You might ask- why is THAT important?} Here’s why- you cannot have inclusion without properly differentiated instruction. This is the problem that classroom teachers in NS , and elsewhere, grapple with everyday- how do I make sure that no student is ( and I hate this expression)’ falling through the cracks?’ The answer to that query is- prepare lesson planS that offer properly differentiated learning experiences. And yes, that could mean three or four lesson plans for each instructional day.

    The Commission on Inclusive Education on June 29, 2017 with their initial report to the public, and the only one to date, said that they would establish a benchmark with regard to where we are with differentiated instruction in Nova Scotia. If that is not clearly spelled out in their final report to be delivered this month, then it ‘ll be time for very precise, tough questions surrounding why this is not in their report. (This sort of bench-marking is often the result of a survey conducted among a representative, random sampling of, in this case,classroom teachers. Look for evidence, or lack thereof, of such a survey.)
    This information is critical as it would establish a baseline from which to move forward. Without such a determination, there will be no meaningful starting point for the getting- it -right- this- time process. There is no question ,in any circle, about this fact- there are students who are not receiving the needed instruction and services that they require. Narrowing that down or bench-marking that is a necessary starting point for any report on inclusive education!
    Looking forward to that upcoming report, and to how the Examiner and the Spectator report on it.

  2. Thanks, as always, Tim, for your efforts in another fine Morning File.

    I’d like to request a moratorium, however, on the use of “nothing burger,” as appears in the BMO blurb. Given events of the last couple years, I can no longer read / hear it without picturing Donald Trump Jr’s sneering face. I don’t like starting my day that way…

  3. Maybe I am in a minority, but I do not mind governments making some mistakes; they should do what they think is right, let the chips fall where they may and the voters will determine the public’s satisfaction during the next election.

    What I really do not like is any government giving in to the extortion-like tactics that are continually used by this province’s unions. I wish the voting public could have a say in whether a given union has the right to exist based upon their activities. Now that would cause a change I’d be willing to bet.


      How, exactly, is it not extortion for government to use it’s inordinate and 4-year dictatorial power to force workers to accept a policy the workers find harmful and unacceptable.

      The idea that a grouping of any citizens–short of a revolutionary army–could “extort” anything from the state is laughable.

      1. The sitting government was elected by toe voting public to govern the province… they did not do so by extortion. Unions however seem think that they are the only ones fit to make legislative decisions; but they were never elected by the public to do so.

        It is time for unions to stick to collective bargaining, which is what they were put in place to do and leave provincial governance decisions to the elected government. If the voting public is dissatisfied with the government’s actions, they will be told so by the voting public.

        There is no legal reason for a union to have called its membership together to vote on possibly taking illegal strike action… that act in of itself is tantamount to enticing otherwise law abiding citizens to become criminals… that was not why unions were first formed.

        The NSTU threatens the government and the public with the potential negative effects that would happen to the students if a strike were to occur… the union uses students as pawns and it is disgraceful.

        It is extortion pure and simple.

          1. A year from now, the principal and vice principal “continuation” agreement will expire and a brand new strike threat will be launched…

  4. If we sent babies to school to teach them to walk, in a generation we’d be told that people only managed to learn to walk in the past did so at great risk to life and limb, and were never able to walk quite as well as people today.

    About the elimination of school boards, does this means that there’s no more democratically elected people (other than the various MLAs responsible for education) involved in our school system?