Posted inMorning File

The Clown Show: Morning File, Friday, September 22, 2017


1. The Clown Show

Photo: Halifax Examiner

I’ve been to the opening of the legislature a few times, but skipped yesterday’s performance because I had too much catching-up to do. A friend, however, went in my stead. I wasn’t expecting them to write anything, but I got the missive below last night… friend doesn’t want their name used because they want to use their newfound anonymity to go for a repeat without being barred or attacked. Friend writes (with only slight editing) about what friend calls “The Clown Show”:

To give you a taste, the hilarity began re: McNeil’s not even close to being a tight ship when I arrived, the security people at the door with x-ray machine waved me up the stairs where there was another uniformed security guard who glanced at my invitation and said, verbatim: “I don’t know who you are. Go right on upstairs.”

I sat near Laurie Graham, Ray Ivany’s wife and Stephen McNeil’s principle secretary. She was wearing a red jacket (reminiscent of a valet) and chewing the hell out of a wad of gum the entire time. By the end, her foot had started to jiggle, I guess from the stress of watching her boss be humiliated by the sonic boom sound of the protestors on Granville Street who drowned out nearly every word of the Throne Speech.

The one word of the Throne Speech that I heard loud and clear about 30 minutes in was: “sandbox.” I said to myself, did the Lt. Governor really just say something about all the sandboxes that the McNeil government has funded? Anyway, I later scored a copy of the Throne Speech from what I presume was a McNeil staffer who told me that he “Didn’t need it.” I said I wanted to read it because I could barely hear the Throne Speech because of the loud protests. He laughed and said: “Yeah, that was something alright.”

Graham looked like she wanted to explode. She got up at one point and motioned the security guards in the gallery to close the windows that must have been facing Prince Street. Two or three of them went over like Keystone Cops and closed the windows, but to no real avail. The protestors just got louder, rocking RESPECT — Aretha style. And many, many, many choruses of “Hey Hey, Ho, Ho, Stephen McNeil has got to go.” Repeat with gusto. Then a Dixie Land Style jazz band busted into the Battle Hymn of the Republic (and they were wailing big time, with serious rhythm) — I expected Satchmo to show up any moment with his trademark “Oh yea.” I mean the band was rocking.

At this point, from where I was seated I had a perfect view of Jamie Baille, who was doing everything he could to not bust out laughing. Other Conservative MLAs held their decorum but looked amused. I could see the back of McNeil’s neck reddening. 

It was humiliating. Jackie Foster, formerly of CTV and now a McNeil staffer, looked as if she wanted to disappear. CTV and Global reporters were sitting below Graham, Foster, and a man who I assume but don’t know was probably part of McNeil’s communication staff. Periodically, Graham would lean over to try to peep what the CTV and Global reporters were writing. 

The takeaway — McNeil was outplayed by the protestors whose messages in support of The People rang louder than anything that was said in the Throne Speech. It was an embarrassment. I later asked an MLA about the protest. The MLA said that nearly every day when they are in session there is some kind of protest but today was, I quote, “epic.”

Afterward, McNeil, speaking to the press said the usual blah, blah, this is the beauty of living in a democracy, etc. They have a right to their opinion but he remains in charge (this is not verbatim). In  my view, he was resoundly ridiculed. Liberal MLAs looked very uncomfortable. Some people in the gallery walked out. I don’t know if they were disgusted or if they simply left because they couldn’t hear a word of the Throne Speech. What with all the shouts of Stephen McNeil is IMMORAL, UNFAIR, etc. Clear as a bell. Whoever organized the protest scored major props. 

2. Aborted takeoff for Interview Rocket

YouTube video
Back in 2013, Interview Rocket was going to be the next big tech success. Reported Bill Power in the Chronicle Herald:

Interview Rocket Ltd. of Halifax can accelerate development of new features for its online interview service after securing more than $250,000 in seed funding.

Some of the cash, announced Monday, will be used to launch a comprehensive marketing strategy, the company said.

“We have been approached by a number of organizations in various industries looking for schedule-independent video interviewing solutions,” Craig Brown, founder of Interview Rocket, said in a news release.

“It turns out that video interviewing is not just for recruiters.”

Interview Rocket said it secured the seed money from various sources, including the First Angel Network, Cabot Technology Solutions and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

The online interviewing system combines video recording technology with an easy-to-use interface that allows recruiters to screen candidates up to 10 times faster than using traditional methods.

According to the developers, clients can save about $6 on wages and associated hiring costs for every $1 they spend using the Interview Rocket online recruitment tool.

Power seems to have scooped the Herald’s in-house government propagandist Peter Moreira, who caught up with the story the next day on the Entrevestor website:

Interview Rocket, a Halifax startup that offers interview technology for recruiters and jobseekers, has landed more than $250,000 in funding from the First Angel Network, foreign investors and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

In an exchange of emails, CEO Craig Brown declined to reveal specifics of the funding other than to say it was above $250,000.

Well, here’s one of the specifics: $116,370 of it of $232,740 (not “above $250,000”) came from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).

And now the company has defaulted on about half that amount, $57,849.43. ACOA last week went to court to demand the money (plus interest) from the company, which according to the Registry of Joint Stock Companies went kaput around the end of last year. Weirdly, however, the company’s promotional vid (above) is still live on its website.

Starting a company is risky business — I should know. Most new businesses fail within a few years. Craig Brown had what seemed to him a good idea and ran with it — there’s no shame in that, or in that for whatever reason the idea didn’t resonate in the market.

The problem isn’t with Brown or Interview Rocket, but rather with some bureaucrat in Moncton or on Argyle Street who thinks they can read the market and make investment choices on the public’s dime. Leave that guesswork to the so-called “angel investors.”

Supposedly, the angels are super-rich and super-smart and get to decide which new companies live and die by applying their private wealth in super-discerning ways and with super-oversight and super-involvement in the companies they choose, but increasingly I’m coming to believe that the angels’ angle is at least in part to leverage public investment in order to cover a super-tax dodge. It’s all one big paper shuffle, the angels and bureaucrats skimming what they can off the top, with the rest of us left holding the bag.

Oh, there’s a newspaper column devoted to covering start-ups, but you didn’t hear about the collapse of Interview Rocket in that column. Funny, that, eh? It’s almost as if the columnist is getting paid to avoid telling the public when start-ups fail.

3. Lenehan

Gregory Lenehan. Photo: CBC

“A judge has acquitted a former Halifax cab driver accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger, saying he believed the woman but the Crown failed to prove the identity of her assailant,” reports the Canadian Press:

The Crown alleged Houssen Milad kissed a female passenger on top of her head when driving her home to the Spryfield neighbourhood in June 2016, and groped her buttocks before she got out of the vehicle.

But Judge Gregory Lenehan said Thursday the Crown did not come anywhere near proving its case against Milad beyond a reasonable doubt, and did a “disservice” to the complainant and to the community.

“The investigation in this matter lacked a real critical analysis and amounted to a disservice to (the complainant),” Lenehan said. “She deserved to have her complaint given a more thorough investigation.”

Lenehan is the same judge who this spring commented from the bench that “clearly, a drunk can consent” when he found taxi driver Bassam Al-Rawi not guilty of sexually assaulting a passed out and partially nude woman found by police in the back seat of Al-Rawi’s cab.

In the more recent case, the evidence wasn’t as stark as in the Al-Rawi case, and Lenehan went to pains to say that he believed the woman was in fact assaulted. Just, said Lenehan, the police investigation was lacking and he couldn’t find with certainty that the accused was in fact the perpetrator.

4. IWK

Tracy Kitch. Photo: Career Women Interaction

“Halifax police say they will launch an investigation into financial practices at the IWK Health Centre, after former hospital CEO Tracy Kitch was found to have expensed thousands of dollars in personal charges to the hospital,” reports Shaina Luck for the CBC:

On Thursday, a Halifax Regional Police spokesperson said in an email that the force had received a complaint Wednesday night “regarding possible financial mismanagement within the IWK Health Centre.”

Const. Dianne Penfound said the complaint will be reviewed by the financial crime unit and the investigation will likely take some time. She said police will not comment at this point about the specifics of the case or potential suspects.

5. Kenley Matheson

What Kenley Matheson looks like today, if he’s alive, says the RCMP
What Kenley Matheson looks like today, if he’s alive, says the RCMP

The RCMP yesterday released am “age progression” sketch of Kenley Matheson, who disappeared 25 years ago:

Today marks the 25th year since the disappearance of 20-year-old Allan “Kenley” Matheson and the RCMP have released an age progression sketch of what Kenley may look like today. The RCMP and Kenley’s family are asking for the public’s help in hopes of obtaining new information to assist in the investigation.

In September 1992, Kenley was a student at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. During his first two weeks of university, he had travelled with some friends to Corkum’s Island in Lunenburg County for the weekend. He returned to Acadia and attended a party on campus on the weekend of September 18 and was seen by his sister and others at Crowell Tower (Acadia University) on September 20. He was last seen by a friend walking on Main Street in Wolfville on September 21 wearing blue jeans, a purple t-shirt, a red and black backpack and a ball cap. There has been no contact with family members or friends and there has been no activity on his bank account since.

“Not knowing what happened to my son has been devastating for our family and has made it extremely difficult to move forward,” says Sarah MacDonald, Kenley Matheson’s mother. “I believe someone out there knows something that may help piece together what happened. I’m urging anyone who remembers anything, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, to please come forward.”

6. HalifaxToday

“Ontario’s Village Media is looking to hire an online community editor for its new HalifaxToday website,” reports Jacob Boon for The Coast:

“ is coming soon and Village Media is looking for a full-time community editor to help launch our latest online-only news site,” reads an ad on Jeff Gaulin’s Job Board.

The advertisement lists a dot com, but it’s that’s registered to Village Media CEO Jeff Elgie.

Village Media was the “partner” of Local Xpress, the site begun and staffed by striking Chronicle Herald reporters. As of this morning, the old Local Xpress site is still live.

Best of luck to anyone trying to start a news site, but I don’t see how you can succeed in local news with an advertising model — at least not with a local news site that actually pays writers and invests in reporting. There’s no money in online advertising; it takes reader subscriptions to make it work.

Er, please subscribe.


1. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

Finally a government has had the backbone to come down on the idiot law-breakers who text and drive. Certainly, this is long overdue. It appears the fines have some teeth; if not, Ontario is ready to increase them.

We will never know whose lives might have been saved by this move. I had always hoped Nova Scotia would lead the way in this; nonetheless, we should all be grateful to Ontario for doing it. Let’s hope Nova Scotia follows Ontario’s lead. Now.

Mrs. C. Brown, Halifax



No public meetings


Legislature sits (Friday, 9am–1pm, Province House)

On campus


Composition and Improvisation Involving Non-western Influences (Friday, 9:30am, Room 409, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Dinuk Wijeratne, Symphony Nova Scotia’s Conductor in Residence, will perform.

The Transition from Actor to Writer (Friday, 1pm, Studio Two, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Beverley Cooper will read from a selection of her plays, and speak about the transition from actor to playwright, creating new work, and what it means to be a working playwright/theatre creator in Canada today.

Algal Toxins (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Christopher O. Miles will speak on “The Microcystin Group of Freshwater Algal Toxins and the Role of the Thia-Michael Reaction in Their Toxicology, Metabolism and Analysis.”

‘Profits, Savings, Health, Peace, Order’: Prostitution, Urban Planning and Imperial Identity in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1898-1912 (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Katherine Crooks will speak.

Mystery of Neumes (Friday, 5pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Hendrik Vanden Abeele and Psallentes will lead an introductory workshop on the singing of chant from original notation.

In the harbour

5am: Berlin Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Fos Sur Mer, France
5:30am: Viking Queen, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany

Reykjafoss. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Reykjafoss. Photo: Halifax Examiner

7am: Reykjafoss, general cargo, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
7:15am: Arcadia, cruise ship with up to 1,904 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Boston

Crystal Serenity. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Crystal Serenity. Photo: Halifax Examiner

7:30am: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship with up to 1,070 passengers, arrives at Pier 34 from Bar Harbor (this is the cruise ship that traversed the Northwest Passage last year)

Serenade of the Seas. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Serenade of the Seas. Photo: Halifax Examiner

7:30am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John
7:30am: Crown Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,674 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John
10am: Reykjafoss, general cargo, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11am: NYK Atlas, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
11:15am: Berlin Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
11:30am: Viking Queen, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
3pm: Arcadia, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for Saguenay, Quebec
3:30pm: Heroic Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Sagunto, Spain
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
5:45pm: Crown Princess, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
5:45pm: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship, sails from Pier 34 for New York
6:30pm: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Boston
8:30pm: Heroic Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
9pm: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk


I have a story about “100% pure” cocaine, but ran out of time. I’ll tell it Monday.

The Examineradio podcast will be published this afternoon. I interviewed Bruce Kidd for the podcast.

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

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  1. “Then a Dixie Land Style jazz band busted into the Battle Hymn of the Republic”

    I’m pretty sure it was Solidarity Forever…

    Otherwise, your friend did a great recap.

  2. Mr. McNeil leads a very comfortable life, hardly any press ever bothers him. I’m sure one or two days of protesting doesn’t matter to him. It’s disgusting to think that people believe whatever nonsense he is having the lieutenant governor read is more important than legitimate protest. A politician has no right to be comfortable in the public square. If they were at home I would say any protest would be inappropriate.

  3. Thanks for the great report on the circus at Province House. Hope to read more from your “invisible” colleague.

  4. Sounds like the NS Legislature could use an acoustic dampening barrier upgrade… protesters should be able to protest freely outside, but the building should be constructed to ensure exterior noises cannot interfere with daily proceedings. It is not the protesters fault that they could be heard inside the Legislature. It is not solely the fault of the sitting party for the issue either; none of the governments, present or past, have done anything to correct this problem. That Jamie Baille found it somewhat amusing; that is only because it was not his speech that was being interrupted.

    1. I cut and pasted “Jamie Baille” from your article… I thought it looked wrong; but I did not check the spelling before hitting the “POST COMMENT” button…. I believe you can correct the text in my comment as well as your article… please feel free to do so.

  5. I’m not sure that the sort of protestors that simply shut down people they don’t like with airhorns or moronic chants (anything that starts with hey hey, ho, ho is moronic in my opinion) should necessarily be tolerated. I think people (even Steven McNeil) have a positive right to speech which is not hate speech or incitements to violence.

      1. I am talking about ticketing people who show up to public speaking events and make them impossible by blowing air horns, shouting slogans, pulling fire alarms (well, that’s already a crime) etc – not silencing protestors.

  6. The issue with Interview Rocket – as an armchair assessor – isn’t that the idea didn’t resonate with the market, it’s that they were too late to market. There are about 50 services offering that feature, and they were not the first. There may have been some feature that differentiated them, but it wasn’t enough.