On campus
In the harbour


1. Students

YouTube video

University students picketed the office of Kelly Regan, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, reports Dylan DesRoche in Metro:

The students are upset with universities and colleges across the province who are planning to raise tuition following the one-year removal of the province’s cap on fees.

Removing the cap allows universities to adjust their tuitions this year and they will be locked in next year, meaning the increases are here to stay.

“It’s essentially been a tuition free-for all; we’re seeing tuition go up by as much as 37 per cent,” said [Hannah Kaya, from the King’s College Student Union].

“The government’s making education impossible for students to afford.”    

The students held a peaceful sit-in at Regan’s office and made the above video.

2. City Hall and union reach deal

The city has reached a tentative agreement with the union that represents 700 professional, technical, and administrative employees, reports Remo Zaccagna in Local Xpress. The deal hasn’t been made public pending council’s expected approval Friday:

But according to an email obtained by Local Xpress, the two sides agreed to wage increases of two per cent, 1.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent over the life of the three-year deal.

That represents a compromise from previous agreements that featured two per cent wage increases annually, and Halifax’s proposed wage increases of two per cent, 1.3 per cent, and one per cent over three years.

The previous three-year collective agreement with the municipality ran out Oct. 31, 2014, and those wage increases will be retroactive to Nov. 1, 2014.

If accepted, the new deal will expire on Oct. 31, 2017.

An important issue that arose in the negotiations was the municipality’s insistence that tied wages to pension premiums, which meant that if premiums increased, wages for that year would be similarly affected.

As part of the tentative agreement, any potential wage decrease would be capped at one per cent, even if the municipality’s pension premiums increase by a greater amount. This means employees are guaranteed a minimum wage increase of 0.5 per cent this coming November.

3. Cougars

A cam set up by Brookfield resident Jill Tremblay took this photo last year. She thinks it's a cougar; others say a bobcat.
A cam set up by Brookfield resident Jill Tremblay took this photo last year. She thinks it’s a cougar; others say a bobcat.

“The question of whether there are cougars in Nova Scotia may have an answer this month,” reports the CBC:

According to Parks Canada, hair collected from scratch posts designed to lure the elusive creatures and collect their hair has yielded one positive result for cougar DNA and another unconfirmed result. 

Chris McCarthy, resource conservation manager at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, said Parks Canada has hired another independent lab to analyze the sample from Keji to determine if indeed there are cougars in the province. 


McCarthy said it’s possible that if the test comes back positive for cougar hair, the animal could have been an escaped pet.

The animal would likely not be an elusive Eastern cougar, whose existence is controversial for a number of reasons…the last confirmed sightings of cougars in this area are believed to be in Maine in 1938 and in New Brunswick in 1932.

Cougars have replaced Sasquatch as the UFOs of the land. The mind plays weird games, and any cat-ish looking thing — bobcat, large household Tom, deformed coyote — is called a cougar.

As the link explains, there is much debate over whether the Eastern cougar was even a distinct species. I’ve seen cougars in California, but only at a distance. Somewhat regularly, people in the sprawling Bidwell Park in Chico happen upon cougars, and vice-versa; usually both are scared of each other, and that’s the end of it.

But my old buddy Gavin Jones once told me of his more involved encounter with a cougar. Gavin was one of the most creative people I’ve ever met, with a wicked sense of humour and a staggering independence of mind. He died far too young… anyway, we were one day hiking together in one of the canyons along the western flank of the Sierra, and Gavin surprised me by showing me a little spring just below a ridge top, just big enough to form a pool a few metres wide. He told me that he discovered the spring the previous year when he had taken a week to camp out alone in the canyon. After he found the spring he moved his camp up to the spot, and took some LSD. Some time into his trip, a cougar approached — a mountain watering hole in an otherwise arid canyon would tend to attract critters. He and the cougar sat across the pool, staring at each other, for several hours, until sunset was nearing, when the cougar sauntered away. Gavin collected his stuff and moved down to the canyon floor.

The acid notwithstanding, I entirely believe this happened to Gavin. At least, I believe it more than I believe anyone in Nova Scotia is seeing cougars.

4. Wind tunnel

I went to the Nova Centre site yesterday to hear the banshees, so walked all around the two-block construction site. Yep, it’s as eerie and loud as advertised:

All. Day. Long. #HalifaxHowl

— liam hennessey (@appleheadstudio) March 2, 2016

The howls are at their most distinct on the southwest side of the site. Presumably, however, they’ll disappear as the glass siding gets installed.

About that glass siding… my biggest fear is that the Nova Centre will become a slaughter zone for birds moving from the waterfront up to Citadel Hill — this spring I mean to do some bird counts right at dawn — but it turns out that the wind may be the greater menace.

Anyone who has walked along Barrington Street in front of the Maritime Centre knows that tall buildings can create brutal wind tunnels for pedestrians. Recognizing this, the city has built into its planning design criteria building step-backs — after the first few storeys, building facades are supposed to regress, so the wind is abated before it hits ground level.

I vaguely remember (I don’t have time to check this morning) that there was a wind study conducted for Nova Centre, and we were assured everything would be fine. But it’s not. Argyle Street yesterday was as bad as anything I’ve experienced in front of the Maritime Centre.

I wondered aloud on Facebook last night if maybe I was overreacting — it was extremely windy yesterday, so maybe the building had nothing to do with it (albeit I didn’t experience such winds anywhere else in my walk from the waterfront to Dalhousie). But the general consensus is that, yes, a new wind tunnel has been created on Argyle Street.

There goes patio row.


1. Gary Burrill

Gary Burrill
Gary Burrill

Graham Steele writes about Gary Burrill, the newly elected leader for the provincial NDP.

I interviewed Burrill for today’s Examineradio, which will be posted this afternoon.

2. The NFB’s Legacy

Gordon Parsons in the projection room of Wormwood’s Dog & Monkey Cinema, March 1983.
Gordon Parsons in the projection room of Wormwood’s Dog & Monkey Cinema, March 1983.

Ron Foley Macdonald relates the fascinating history of the National Film Board’s presence in Halifax:

The NFB’s Atlantic Centre didn’t simply make films. It offered support to indie movie-makers, providing a long-distance phone, meeting rooms, shipping services, and its magnificent 110-seat theatre with 16mm and video projection services as a meeting spot for audiences, Federal Government workers, and practically everyone involved in the arts in Halifax.

Built in 1890-91, the four-story brick building at 1572 Barrington St. originally housed the Saint Mary’s Young Men’s Total Abstinence and Benevolent Society and then became a movie house in 1907 (as the Nickel Cinema). The balcony was retained, along with a regulation projection room with 8-inch concrete walls and an installed bathroom for the projectionist, all necessary from the days when nitrate films could not be left unattended for a second. In the late 1960s it became the home of the NFB in Atlantic Canada.

The theatre was later turned over to Gordon Parsons, one of the founders of the Atlantic Filmmakers’s Co-op, to run as Wormwood’s Cinema. He was given free rent as long as one night a week or month he presented a program of NFB films, open to the public at no charge.

As Parsons built up a viable film culture in Halifax, he expanded to 35mm, which was installed by the NFB, again at no charge. When he moved Wormwood’s two doors down to the Khyber building, the NFB space reverted back to 16mm and was run by David Middleton, with assistance from myself.

The National Film Board building also housed, at one point, a lab that processed 16mm reversal film for television news broadcasts – replaced by videotape in the early 1980s – along with editing rooms, sound mixing facilities and a small studio.

Macdonald goes on to explain his own relationship with the NFB, and how the development of a film culture in Halifax led to the Atlantic Film Festival moving to Halifax, the creation of film curriculum at local universities, and the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, whose last iteration — Creative Industries Nova Scotia — was unceremoniously assassinated by the McNeil government.

Macdonald’s essay shows how cultural industries don’t just magically appear. They need to be nurtured, funded, valued over time, and supported politically.

He ends with an aside about the Maritime Film Classification Board, a holdover from the 1930s, when Nova Scotia decided it needed its own film censor board to protect the unique moral superiority of Maritimers. To this day, even though Hollywood films are routinely classified elsewhere, we continue to hire a crew of Babbitts to monitor the movies just in case something untoward slips through and corrupts the pure innocents among us.

The entire NFB catalogue is available here.

3. Ship of Theseus


“The news Thursday, that an independent report on the steering system of the troubled Bluenose II has advised the Liberal provincial government the steel rudder (and hydraulics needed to turn it) have to go, should surprise no one,” says Paul Schneidereit, a Chronicle Herald columnist who has taken his work to Local Xpress:

As long predicted by countless Nova Scotians familiar with wooden sailing vessels, particularly along the South Shore, and others, the report by Langan Design Partners warned the excessive weight of the current steering system will shorten the vessel’s service life.

4. Cranky letter of the day

To the New Glasgow News:

It was great interest that I read Robert Parker’s letter (Feb. 27) concerning the closure of DSME. Why not take a proper look at the legacy left Nova Scotians by the former NDP government of Darrell Dexter?

First $56.3 million of taxpayer money was invested for a 49 per cent stake in the company. The parent company of DSME invested $20 million for a controlling interest of 51 per cent. DSME had no business plan; no experience in wind tower construction and no market. A recipe for disaster. If DSME employed an average of 100 people, which I doubt, over the five years in operation the $56.3 million converts to $560,000 per employee. How many of the former DSME employees earned $560,000?

Mr. Parker also refers to the Nova Star. It was the NDP government that cancelled the Cat ferry over a $3 million subsidy, then it its dying days this government announced the luxury cruise ship Nova Star for the Yarmouth-Portland run. A cruise ship, not a ferry, costing taxpayers $40 million for two years’ operation. How much did Maine invest in the Nova Star? – nothing, and it received the greatest benefit as supplies , fuel, etc. were purchased in Maine.

Still no replacement ship has been found and bus tours, etc., are being cancelled. It is just common sense to realize that if a replacement is found it is too late to put in place a successful marketing plan. May as well add more white elephants to the mix.

July 2010 a $12.5 million contract was signed for the restoration of the Bluenose II – $20 million has been paid out with $5 million plus still in dispute, plus the cost of the settlement with the Roe family as this was in fact not a restoration but a new construction.

Let’s add Cooke Aquaculture, who in 2012 received $25 million in taxpayer money but did not meet its contractual obligation, resulting in the government calling in the $18 million outstanding loan. Will we see yet another poor investment?

The Irving Shipyard received $304 million and with the current federal government reviewing all aspects of that program will we see the shipbuilding program cancelled or substantially reduced? Let’s face it, how long has government been going back and forth on the fighter jet program?

Government cannot continue giving away taxpayer dollars, especially to the rich who do not need it and to ventures without a realistic business plan. Yes, we need the Trenton plant to reopen and provide good-paying jobs. What we do not need is to invest more in ventures with no hope of surviving.

Michael LeBlanc, Stellarton


No public meetings.

On Campus


Child Care Workers (3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, room 1170) — Lisa Pasollin, from St. Francis Xavier University, will speak on “Labour (Relations) of Love: Child Care Workers in 1970s Vancouver.”

Dominim (3:30pm, Room #107 Chase Building) — Richard Nowakowski will talk about the game of Dominim:

Last year, Burke and Larsson introduced conjoined games. The Seminar will work through an example, the game of Dominim—in phase 1, the players play Domineering; in phase 2 they play Nim with heaps sizes corresponding to the connected groups from phase 1. 

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:40am Friday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:40am Friday. Map:

Dinkeldiep, general cargo, Saint-Pierre to Pier 36, then sails back to Saint-Pierre
ZIM New York, container ship, New York to Pier 42
Onego Batz, cargo ship, Szczecin, Poland to Pier 27


Today is the only date that is also a command.

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

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  1. Thanks for sharing that wonderful photo of Gordon Parsons, I had the honour of getting to know him when i was asked to be on the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Film Festival, He was a wonderful person. i still have the button with his photo which was distributed at his memorial service. It is nice to be reminded of him regularly.

  2. Don’t worry about the Argyle street patios! Halifax is just working on joining the ranks of dozens of other North American cities that built a bunch of stupid crap in their core while actual productive work leaves for suburban business parks.