1. Downeast and Harold MacKay

The Downeast Beer Factory is on Windmill Road in the Burnside Industrial Park. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Harold MacKay is using the Downeast Beer Factory to bilk investors, alleges lawsuit,” the Halifax Examiner reported yesterday:

Harold MacKay, the founder and president of the Downeast Beer Factory, is using the brewery and restaurant to bilk investors, one of those investors claims in a lawsuit filed Friday with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

“Basically, this business was never set up to return money to the investors; this was set up as a way to bring income into [MacKay’s] family,” David MacDonald, the investor who brought the suit, told the Halifax Examiner in a phone interview Friday.

Harold MacKay. Photo: ATV

MacKay has a long history as an entrepreneur in the Halifax area, starting many business ventures. He is perhaps best known as the concert promoter associated with Halifax’s concert scandal, but he got his start locally as the VP for marketing for Moosehead Breweries. In that position, he started the Halifax Mooseheads hockey team, which the brewery later sold to Bobby Smith. In 1998, after leaving Moosehead Breweries, MacKay started the Maritime Beer Company, which operated at the same Windmill Road location now occupied by Downeast. Maritime Beer failed, and its assets were sold to Sleeman Breweries.

MacDonald, who says he has invested $200,000 into Downeast, accuses MacKay of irresponsible management, self-dealing, and theft in the establishment and operation of Downeast. He is asking for damages of $200,000 for his investment, and another $200,000 in punitive damages.

The lawsuit also names Harold MacKay’s spouse, Michele MacKay, as a defendant.

MacDonald says that without knowledge or approval of investors or the company’s board of directors, Harold MacKay hired Michele MacKay as an employee and as a contractor. In addition to her employee pay, Downeast hired two businesses owned by Michele MacKay: Michele’s Designs was paid $8,690, and 24/7 Accounting and Consulting Services Inc. was paid $6,900 a month for a total of $58,932. The 24/7 company is registered to the MacKays’ Dartmouth home.

MacDonald also claims that with the knowledge of Harold MacKay, Michele MacKay used the personal credit cards of employees, family, and business associates to buy tens of thousands of dollars of supplies off the books for the brewery and restaurant.

Heather Bruce, who is an employee of MacDonald in an unrelated business, filed a separate action in Small Claims Court Thursday that also names Harold MacKay, Michele MacKay, and Downeast. Bruce says she allowed Michele MacKay to use Bruce’s credit card to make two purchases for about $10,000 worth of supplies for the brewery and restaurant. But after that, claims Bruce, Michele MacKay continued to use the credit card numbers — without Bruce’s permission or knowledge — on 27 separate occasions at a cost of about $20,000. Most of the $30,000 has not been repaid, claims Bruce, and as a result, “I was left to borrowing money from my teenaged daughter in order to meet my minimum payments.”

MacDonald also says MacKay kept numerous transactions off the company books, was paying contractors in cash from unknown sources, and kept a company bank account secret from investors.

The allegations contained in the suit have not been tested in court.

Reached by phone as he was driving to Cape Breton Friday afternoon, Harold MacKay denied all allegations in the suit.

“He’s a disgruntled investor,” said MacKay of MacDonald.

As for Heather Bruce’s small claims court allegations, MacKay said “she knew all about it. She didn’t say anything until her boss started this.”

Click here to read the rest of “Harold MacKay is using the Downeast Beer Factory to bilk investors, alleges lawsuit.”

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This is a long read, so grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a bit. I think it’s worth it, though, for the insight it gives into how our business class operates.

I was amused to learn that Scott McCain, who gained his billions of dollars the old-fashioned way — he inherited it — sits on the board of the right-wing Atlantic Institute of Market Studies “think tank” that lectures we peons on the joys of the free market. Yeah, I’d be all on about that free market too, I guess, if by “free market” we mean papa gives me a billion dollars.

I was also amused that MacKay doesn’t like his business partner John Lynn, of the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation. You’ll recall that Lynn was fired and ECBC disbanded after the federal integrity commissioner tabled a report in Parliament saying Lynn had violated hiring rules by giving jobs to connected Conservative Party members. MacKay didn’t care about any of that, however — not his own personal dislike for Lynn, and certainly not Lynn’s unethical management practices — because, well, because Lynn knows people and has a knack for getting them to pony up money to invest in MacKay’s companies.

More than that, however, it struck me that these rich men decide where to dump their money on a whim. There’s no rational decision-making going on, but rather it’s about who you know: Sure, Harold has crashed a string of businesses… but let’s give him a half-million dollars because he knows how to talk hockey. Even after they drop the big money into an investment, there’s no follow-up, no discerning investigation into how the operation is being managed, but they’ll toss good money after bad, again and again.

These are the people we’re supposed to hold up in high regard.

And what’s with all the envelopes filled with cash? And does Jim Kennedy really drive around with $10,000 in bills stuffed between his truck seats?

In a rational world, the CRA would be interested, but who am I kidding?

2. Acadia University

Stephen Kimber writes:

While Nova Scotia’s other universities were busy slicing and dicing, Acadia was applying for — and routinely being granted — secret government bailouts for its financial woes. For five years! Why?

Click here to read “The Liberals’ $24.5-million Acadia University funding fandango.”

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3. Chronicle Herald strike

Danny Cavanaugh, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour

On Friday, the Chronicle Herald and its striking newsroom employees entered mediation, and on Saturday the union and management issued a joint press release saying they had reached a tentative agreement. No details of the deal were released, and otherwise there’s a news blackout until Thursday, when union members will vote on the contract. Between now and then, they’ll read the lengthy contract, consult with their loved ones, and ponder.

As I see it, the biggest issue that union members will have to deal with is the layoff of their fellow employees. Herald management has long signalled that it wants to get rid of the five photojournalists at the paper and wants to contract out page editing. That puts the remaining workers in a terrible position: do you agree to get your colleague fired so you can come back to your job at a lower rate of pay and reduced benefits, or do you hold out for the faint hope that something better might come along?

Beyond that, assuming the deal is approved, is the terrible awkwardness of coming back to work alongside the managers you’ve been dissing on social media and with union press releases for the past 18 months. More than most workplaces, newsrooms require almost constant interaction between managers and employees; really, the paper doesn’t get produced without some basic level of collegiality.

On Friday’s Examineradio, we spoke with Danny Cavanaugh, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, about the extraordinary Industrial Inquiry Commission review which led to the agreement, and about what the negotiating process looks like from the inside.

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4. Living wage

Earlier this summer, Halifax city council kicked the living wage issue down the road, maybe to the 2018/19 fiscal year, maybe to the year after, maybe to never. In the meanwhile, all sorts of city services are being contracted out, and the winning bidders will pay poverty wages.

Today, for example, the city issued two tender offers for janitorial services in city buildings: Municipal Streets and Roads/Parks Depot, Burnside Fleet Operations Depot, Burnside Fire Fleet Operations Depot, Dartmouth Municipal Parks & Open Spaces Depot, Facilities Maintenance Depot, St. Andrews Centre, Adventure Earth Centre, FS#07 Knightsridge.

The winning bid will of course be the contractor with the lowest costs, and the only way to lower costs with janitorial services is to pay shit wages. This “saves” us money by forcing the workers to find second and third jobs to make ends meet. Let’s remember that at the same time we’re forcing people into poverty, there are over 500 city employees making more than $100,000 annually, and city councillors make northward of $82,000.

The city managers who dream up these contracting out schemes, and the city councillors who approve them, ought to be ashamed of themselves. It’s immoral, despicable public policy. I don’t know how they can walk the streets without a guilty conscience.

5. Nova Scotia Business Inc. write-offs

NSBI has published its list of write-offs for the last fiscal year:

Billdidit — $238,418
Blue Wave Seafoods Inc. — $1,400,735
MeID Inc. (Unique Solutions Design Ltd.) — $3,628,108
MeID Inc. (Unique Solutions Design Ltd.) — $2,000,000
Pure Energy — $2,000,000
Pure Energy— $3,647,477
Quanta Nova Canada Ltd. — $750,000
Quanta Nova Canada Ltd. — $1,603,818
River’s Bend Wood Products — $136,448
Scotian Halibut — $980,613
Tech Link — $1,011,184
Tech Link — $1,000,000
Tech Link — $6,852,640
Tech Link — $1,225,000
Total 2016-2017 Write-offs — $26,236,023

It’s like a Who’s-Who of connected insiders.

So much to say…. it’ll have to wait, though.

6. Rescuing whales

Right whales. Photo: NOAA

“A Halifax-based marine mammal rescue group says it would like to continue rescuing right whales,” reports Anjuli Patil for the CBC:

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans paused responses to entangled right whales in July after the death of Campobello Island fisherman Joe Howlett. 


Howlett was working from a DFO vessel during the rescue operation of an entangled right whale off the eastern coast of New Brunswick.


DFO is in the midst of a review of its policies and practices regarding its responses to whale entanglements. The hold on responding to entangled right whales will be in place until the review is complete.

As of Aug. 7, 10 right whales have been found dead along the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

7. Hilton


Hilton, a 12-feet, five-inches-long, 1,326-pound male white shark, is visiting Mahone Bay.

On March 3, Hilton was caught off the coast of Hilton Head, South Carolina, and tagged and released (he was named after the town). He’s wandered around off the coast of South Carolina and Florida for a while, but has since made almost a beeline for Nova Scotia.

h/t David Fraser.


1. Lawrencetown

Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald visits Lawrencetown — not the one up past Cow Bay, but the one in the valley (why are there so many duplicate place names in Nova Scotia? I bet we have five Salmon Rivers…).

Of the above photo, he writes:

I liked this pair of houses with asymmetric entrances. On the house to the right, the entrance bay is probably an addition to an older building (in the 1870s?).


No public meetings.

On campus



Thesis defence, Chemistry (Tuesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Deijun Xiong will defend his thesis, “Surprising Chemistry in Li-Ion Cells.”

Thesis defence, Oceanography (Tuesday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building)  — PhD candidate Kevin Sorochan will defend his thesis, “Quantifying Predation On Planktonic Larval Stages Of Marine Benthic Invertebrates.”


Thesis defence, Biochemistry (Wednesday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Kyungsoo Shin will defend his thesis, “Expanded Insight Into Processing and Isoform-Dependent Properties of Apelin.”

Thesis defence, Psychology (Wednesday, 10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Kathryn Melissa Schweissing Rancourt will be defend her thesis, “Sexual Communication in Couples Coping with Provoked Vestibulodynia: Associations with Biopsychosocial Outcomes and Trajectories of Change with Intervention.”

Peptides (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre C, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Hans J. Vogel, from the University of Calgary, will speak on “Antimicrobial peptides, biosynthesis, new targets and novel evasion mechanisms.”

Saint Mary’s


Thesis Defence, Applied Science (Tuesday, 10am, Atrium 306) — Hisham Eshaft will defend his thesis, “Grid and Rotor Sides Control of Doubly-fed Induction Generator-based Wind Energy Conversion System Using Sliding Mode Control Approach.”

Thesis Defence, Applied Science (Tuesday, 1:30pm, Science 345) — Ashley Martel will defend her thesis, “The Potential of L-Methionine and Ethylene as Precursors of Aerobic Methane Emissions from Plants.”

Thesis Defence, Applied Science (Tuesday, 2pm, Atrium 306) — Labib Labib will defend his thesis, “Control System for Dual-Mode Operation of Grid-Tied Photovoltaic and Wind Energy Conversion Systems with Active and Reactive Power Injection.”

PhD Defence, Astronomy (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Atrium 216) — Kirsten Bonson will defend her thesis, “A Critical Examination of Seyfert 1 X-ray Spectroscopy.”

Thesis Defence, Applied Science (Tuesday, 2:45pm, Atrium 214A) — Hanan Drfoun will defend her thesis, “Efficient Continuous Runge-Kutta Methods for Asymptotically Correct Defect Control.”


Thesis Defence, Applied Science (Wednesday, 1pm, Science 310) — Darcie Stack will defend her thesis, “Phosphorus & Silicon Derivatives of Highly Conjugated Organic Molecules and An Exploration of the Reactivity of N-Heterocyclic Compounds & Carbenes.”

Thesis Defence, Applied Science (Wednesday, 1pm, Science 345) — Shruti Kumar will defend her thesis, “Investigating Whether the FGF Pathways are Involved in Scleral Ossicle Development.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9am Tuesday. Map:

0:30am: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
6am: Vega Omega, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Palm Beach
10am: YM Enlightenment, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
10:30am: Aquarius Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Bremerhaven, Germany
11am: Tortugas, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
3:30pm: Tortugas, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for sea
4pm: Aquarius Leader, car carrier, sails from Pier Autoport for sea
8:30pm: Itea, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
9:30pm: YM Enlightenment, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for sea


I missed the parade.

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

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  1. For a shark like Hilton, nothing beats the fresh taste of a swimmer raised on Tim Horton donuts, whether plain or glazed with Bian de Soleil.

      1. Doesn’t help either if you’re fond of wearing a rubber donut around your torso when you go to the beach.

  2. Will we have a paper of record?

    Interesting how things worked out as soon as there was a threat of Lever having to open his books. Sounds kinda like Trump’s tax return.

    Shame on the government for taking so long to act.

    Here, here are a living wage.

  3. Just read the Downeast article and your comments on the investor class. Am revisiting Our Mutual Friend and came across a passage illustrating that nothing changes. Sorry if it is too long

    The mature young gentleman is a gentleman of property. He invests his property. He goes, in a condescending amateurish way, into the City, attends meetings of Directors, and has to do with traffic in Shares. As is well known to the wise in their generation, traffic in Shares is the one thing to have to do with in this world. Have no antecedents, no established character, no cultivation, no ideas, no manners; have Shares. Have Shares enough to be on Boards of Direction in capital letters, oscillate on mysterious business between London and Paris, and be great. Where does he come from? Shares. Where is he going to? Shares. What are his tastes? Shares. Has he any principles? Shares. What squeezes him into Parliament? Shares. Perhaps he never of himself achieved success in anything, never originated anything, never produced anything? Sufficient answer to all; Shares. O mighty Shares! To set those blaring images so high, and to cause us smaller vermin, as under the influence of henbane or opium, to cry out, night and day, ‘Relieve us of our money, scatter it for us, buy us and sell us, ruin us, only we beseech ye take rank among the powers of the earth, and fatten on us’!