On campus
In the harbour


1. Irvings

Irving refinery. Photo: Bruce Livesey
Irving refinery. Photo: Bruce Livesey

Bruce Livesey, writing for the National Observer, continues his series on the Irvings with a second instalment headlined “What have the Irvings done to New Brunswick?“:

Back in New Brunswick, the Irvings are at centre of a host of scandals – including the firing of the province’s chief medical officer, potential shale gas development, tax concessions wrung from the city of Saint John and a controversial forestry strategy agreement. Rob Moir, an economist at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, says some “talk about the Stockholm syndrome” when it comes to the relationship with the Irvings and the province. “Others even go farther and talk about the ‘captured state’. I don’t think you’re far-off when you talk about a fiefdom… We are at the center of corporatism in Canada: We are corporatism run amok.”


Today, the Irving companies cover an immense range of industries, with the mainstays being oil (where they own more than 900 service stations, the largest refinery in Canada and largest oil-by-rail terminal) and forestry, whereby they own or lease 5.7 million acres of land, along with trucking, bussing, railway, construction, real estate, food processing and even a security company. They once even owned a fleet of ships.

Livesey recounts Ken Langdon’s experience with the Irvings:

Langdon left the Irvings’ employ in 2007, and started his own newspaper, the Carleton Free Press. It lasted a year during which the Irvings brought an injunction against him which forced Langdon to open his home and files to Irvings’ accountants, he says. Then they cut advertising rates dramatically in their own papers to undermine the Free Press. Finally, they took him to court (and lost). The injunction they sought was so severe it would have prevented Langdon from approaching any of the Irving papers’ advertisers to place ads in his paper, or use any of its suppliers. “They cut subscriptions prices by fifty percent,” says Langdon. “They offered free colour to their advertisers. A spot we were selling for $200 they were giving away for free… They got very aggressive.”

Brunswick News Inc. (BNI), which is owned by JK Irving and controls the Irving papers – and was Langdon’s former employer – says that they took these actions because “Mr. Langdon removed extensive confidential and proprietary documents owned by BNI, just prior to his resignation, and in breach of the BNI Code of Conduct. BNI was very disappointed that Mr. Langdon’s actions made its court action necessary but from BNI’s perspective he attempted to create an unfair advantage by using BNI’s confidential and proprietary information.” (Langdon responds that the so-called “confidential information” included a list of advertisers – which was no secret, given the advertisers were printed every week in the paper. And a judge dismissed BNI’s request he be prevented from approaching the Irving papers’ advertisers.)

2. Journalist salaries


Rachel Ward, reporting for the CBC, where they apparently don’t allow reporters to write “I,” writes:

A survey, conducted by the writer of this article, of base compensation for unionized newspaper reporters shows those at the Herald earn a salary that appears to be in line with that of outlets in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

Under management’s latest offer, Herald reporters — who would be “multimedia journalists” — would make between $18.08 and $35 hourly at 40 hours per week, the union said.

Before the strike, they made hourly $21.42 starting and $40 at the highest scale working 35 hours per week. 

In a smaller market, St. John’s Telegram reporters make between $17.74 and $27.23 hourly for 37.5 hours a week. 

At Moncton’s Times and Transcript, reporters make between $17.49 and $31.80 hourly at 37.5 hours a week.

Canadian Press reporters make between $26.62 and $42.91 hourly at 35 hours a week.

In comparison, CBC reporters, who may file to both broadcast and online, make between $27.55 and $36.42 hourly, working 38.75 hours a week.

3. Melford

Everything you need to know about the future of Nova Scotia’s ports can be found at Melford Terminal, which doesn’t exist.
Everything you need to know about the future of Nova Scotia’s ports can be found at Melford Terminal, which doesn’t exist.

“It could be another two years before construction begins on a Strait of Canso container terminal that’s been in the planning stages for almost a decade,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

The provincial permit to being work on the $350 million Melford terminal in Guysborough County expires at the end of October, but the permit deadline was extended to October 2018 last week. 

Project officials say the delay isn’t cause for concern, and extensions are part of doing business.

“Those things take a lot of time, especially when they’re so dependent on global conditions,” said Richie Mann, Melford’s vice-president of marketing.

The biggest “global condition” is that Melford and Nova Scotia are too close to Europe, so it makes no sense to build a megaport here.

Recall that we kicked an old man out of his home for this pipe dream:

A 78-year-old fisherman in Guysborough County could be evicted Thursday after refusing to sell his home to make way for a proposed container terminal on the Strait of Canso.

Basil Scott has lived his entire life in the modest house on the Melford Loop road.

Unlike 10 other landowners, he refused to sell his home and turned down an offer of $30,000. A relative who lives nearby won’t go either.

Joey Scott said if the Municipality of the District of Guysborough evicts his uncle, it will have to find somewhere for him to go.

“I told them they were basically responsible now,” said Joey Scott. “They got to find him a place to live. If it’s a jail cell, it’s a jail cell.”

A court order says sheriffs can evict Scott on Thursday as the result of an expropriation carried out last November.

That was in 2008, eight years ago. Still no port.

4. Ferry

Viola Desmond at the public wharf in Saulnierville, NS. #hfxtransit

— Halifax Transit (@hfxtransit) June 6, 2016

5. “Don’t quote me”


In an article about the Brand Review, Matt Brand’s satirical site, and the legal wrangling over Brand’s “Hondas Not Homes” post, Local Xpress reporter Chris Lambie writes:

“The point is that the reposted blog is materially different with a very prominent disclaimer and there is no fake Facebook page supposedly created by the Steele (Auto) Group and no fake quotes,” Nancy Rubin said Monday in an unsolicited electronic message to this reporter.

“If he’d posted this originally, no one would have objected. As I said in my original letter, he was free to express his opinions. It was the fake page attributed to the Steele group and the made-up quotes attributed to them that crossed the line.”

Rubin later indicated she didn’t want to be quoted.

This gets at some insider-y journalistic ethics. There’s no law saying a reporter can’t quote someone who says “don’t quote me.” In fact, the profession takes just the opposite position: you and I can agree beforehand that the conversation we’re about to have is not for attribution, and if we do I’m ethically obligated — with one exception — to maintain your anonymity; but you can’t make that arrangement singlehandedly or retroactively.

The exception is when I agree to give you anonymity but you purposefully lie to me and give me distorted information. In that case, the fact of your deception is reportable.

Most people out there in the world, however, don’t know the rules of the game. I’m forever having long conversations with someone, and after 20 minutes or an hour they blurt out, “this is all off the record!” No, actually it isn’t, but this puts me in the awkward position of having to anger someone who is trying to give me information more or less anonymously. So, I err on the side of being nice to people and respecting their after-the-fact wishes for anonymity. It’s a huge waste of time: there are limited times I can use anonymously sourced information, so the 20-minute or hourlong conversation is pointless.

In Lambie’s case, however, he’s dealing with a lawyer, a media lawyer no less, who understands how journalists work and their ethical rules. Lambie has every right — and given the nature of the unsolicited email, the imperative — to publish Rubin’s email. I’m glad he did.

6. Pedestrian Struck

police release from yesterday:

At 2:51 p.m. on June 6th 2016 ,Halifax Regional Police responded to a vehicle/pedestrian collision that occurred on Russell street in Dartmouth. A car driven by a 35 year old man backed out of a parking spot and collided with a  52 year old woman who was crossing the street. The woman was transported to the Dartmouth General Hospital by EHS for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The accident was investigated and no charges were laid.


1. Ali

John DeMont writes about Muhammad Ali, but I’m not sure what the point of the piece is. It’s unfocused and contains this doozy:

He [Ali] could be cruel to his outclassed opponents, yelling “What’s my name?” over and over as he mauled Floyd Patterson, after the ex-champion continued to refer to Ali by his slave name, Cassius Clay, after he converted to Islam and adopted a Muslim name that meant “beloved of God.”

Yet we forgave him for that because he danced while the rest of us plodded. 

That’s just wrong, DeMont. Ali had every right to demand to be called by his rightful name, and Patterson was being an ass for continuing to call Ali “Clay.”


@HalifaxMarriott We have found the “missing pants”@CBCNS @haligonia Can someone share this on Reddit#lostpants

— darlemer (@darlemer) June 6, 2016



No public meetings.


Community Services (1pm, Province House) — the committee will speak with representatives of ACORN Canada, the Benefits Reform Action Group, the Community Society to End Poverty in Nova Scotia, and Dalhousie Legal Aid about Employment Support and Income Assistance for people with special needs.

On Campus

Inspiration and Impact: Our Year in Review (June 7-13, all four Dalhousie Campuses) – a series of “town hall events highlighting progress towards the goals of Dal’s Strategic Direction.” Sounds like a highly managed propaganda routine to me, but here are the times and places:

Tuesday, June 7, 1 pm, Studley Campus, Marion McCain Building, Scotiabank Auditorium
Wednesday, June 8, 1 pm, Sexton Campus, B Building, Room B225
Friday, June 10, 1 pm, Agricultural Campus, Jenkins Hall, Riverview Room
Monday, June 13, 1 pm, Carleton Campus, Tupper Building, Theatre A

Dalhousie Bike Week Lunch and Learn (11:30am– 1:30pm, Central Services Building, room 511) — a lunch hosted by “a nationally certified CAN-BIKE instructor, focused on the recreational and utilitarian use of the bicycle rather than the competition. SmartCycle will show you how to prevent spills and increase your safety in traffic, how to make your ride to work safer and more comfortable. Then there will be an outdoor activity session complete with skills training and a ride around Dalhousie Campus to burn off the calories from the free lunch.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:50am Tuesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:50am Tuesday. Map:

11am: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
11am: NYK Rumina, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
3pm: OOCL Washington, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
4pm: Aniara, car carrier, sails from Autoport to sea
5:30pm: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, sais from Fairview Cove to sea

4:30am: NYK Deneb, container ship, arrives at berth TBD from New York
6am: ZIM Alabama, container ship, arrives at berth TBD from Valencia, Spain

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 8.53.29 AM

The Puerto Rico, which will soon be renamed The Cat, arrived at Yarmouth this morning.


Summer is always a bit slow on the news front, but it seems like people are starting to go on vacation a bit earlier than usual. Or maybe everyone’s just depressed because of the rain.

I have no copyeditor this morning. Please be kind.

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

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  1. Whenever the subject of new container ports in Nova Scotia comes up, I can’t help but think of those cargo cults in the Pacific that build airstrips and control towers in the hopes that planes will land bearing goods. The difference is that unlike the cargo cults, we expect only to be paid a few bucks for minding the equipment that unloads the goods. Building fake runways and performing elaborate rituals to summon airplanes is probably more fun and cost effective, too – it might actually be better for the local economy to take all the money that would be spent and pay the locals to do an elaborate pantomime of unloading goods from a container ship.

    I wonder if there’s a deeper psychological connection between cargo cults and the various stupid boondoggles here in Nova Scotia. I mean, how weird would it be to be doing whatever on the island that your last 50 generations of ancestors inhabited without much changing, and then having a bunch of pale-skinned people in weird clothes and fantastic machines that speak gibberish descend on your island only to leave just as mysteriously? It seems to me like the ‘innovative class’ that has captured most of our media and our institutions and tax money is sort of similar, promising jobs that never really materialize or simply are ‘created’ by shuffling people around is maybe not as weird as the Marine Corps must have been to some mostly uncontacted Polynesians but at times it feels close. After all, they speak a (vaguely) foreign tongue, wear strange clothes and promise us trinkets if only we help with the steel mill/wind turbine factory/convention centre/container port/space port and are quick to abandon us when they receive new orders from the mothership. Maybe Ricky was right to call them ‘suit dummies’.

    I went on a bit of a nostalgia trip and watched Conan The Barbarian (the original) a few weeks ago and now I can’t help but think of the similarity between “innovators, movers and shakers” and the snake cult from the movie. They both have mindless followers, they both reduce humans to nothing more than their utility to the cult/market and they leave strange constructions wherever they go – goofy looking towers in fact. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like these types have a Thulsa Doom to behead.

  2. Aren’t all journalists “multimedia” now? I’m not sure, because I’ve never done anything but.