1. Health care photo ops

Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital
Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital

“So last week, 10 out of 37 hospital emergency departments in Nova Scotia were closed for at least some part of the week,” writes Stephen Kimber:

While our healthcare crises multiply, our leaders stage photo opportunities that resemble trying to slap Band-Aids on the backsides of rampaging elephants. Whatever happened to political leadership?

Click here to read “When a healthcare crisis is an opportunity… for an ‘important milestone’ moment photo-op.”

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2. Abdilahi Elmi

Abdilahi Elmi as a child (right).

Remember the case of Abdoul Abdi, the man who was brought to Canada as a child, became a ward of the province but was never given citizenship, and then was subjected to deportation proceedings?

It’s deja vu all over again, this time with a man named Abdilahi Elmi. A press release issued by a citizen’s group:

Advocates in Halifax, Toronto and other parts of Canada, in solidarity with community members and advocates in Edmonton, are calling on Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to stop the deportation of Mr. Abdilahi Elmi to Somalia scheduled for August 21.

Mr. Elmi, like the well-documented case of Mr. Abdoul Abdi, was given refugee status as a child and then taken into state care which failed to apply for proper immigration documentation for him. Mr. Elmi left Somali as a child, has no family there and does not speak Somali.

Fatuma Abdi, the sister of Abdoul Abdi, social worker Robert Wright, women’s health advocate and nurse Martha Paynter, and El Jones who advocated on the Abdoul Abdi case, are holding a press conference on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 at the office of Liberal MP Andy Fillmore at 12:30 PM to protest the deportation of Elmi, and to draw attention to the lack of change in deportation policy since the case of Abdoul Abdi. 

A fact sheet issued by the group explains:

Elmi arrived in 1994 as a child refugee, at the age of 10, after living in a refugee camp with his grandmother for several years. A few years later, he was removed from his family home and placed in state care. Elmi ended up living on the streets by 16, and became involved in the criminal justice system, in part, he has noted, due to substance use issues that he is now working to manage.

The reason that Elmi faces not only incarceration, but deportation, is the result of neglect within the provincial child welfare system: Elmi was a refugee in state care, but the child welfare agency that was responsible for him did not apply for his citizenship status. Because the state failed Elmi in this regard, he has, instead, been living as a refugee for 24 years. Not only did the state not meet its obligations to Mr. Elmi, but it also prevented his mom from making an application for him due to his being a ward of the state.

A child refugee who becomes a ward of the state should have this same opportunity as other individuals with refugee status who generally become Canadian citizens. The government had a responsibility for Elmi’s education and safety, to regularize his status, and to create for him a meaningful path to citizenship, and they failed him in every way.

On June 26, the Canada Border Services Agency deemed Elmi inadmissible as a result of his involvement with the criminal justice system. His inadmissibility was made possible by a clause in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which states that any non-citizen with a sentence over six months may be deemed inadmissible to the country. Though this clause is wrought with its injustices, it wouldn’t have impacted Elmi if the child welfare system had done its job when they took Elmi into their custody and made him a ward of the state.

The potential situation for Abdilahi Elmi when he gets deported to Somalia is inhumane as the government of Canada is exposing Elmi to harm, risk of torture and cruel and unusual treatment. Mr. Elmi does not know anything about his birth father, nor his birth father’s name, antecedents and familial relationships. He does not know the clan in Somalia that he belongs to since he does not know his birth father’s clan and since the acquisition of Somali citizenship is based on a patrilineal system, Elmi will be severely prejudiced by his removal to Somalia by Canada.

The Somali government is unlikely to release Mr. Elmi to roam the streets of Kismayo or Mogadishu upon arrival in the country if he is not able to prove that he is a citizen of Somalia. Having never held a Somali passport, it is unlikely that Elmi will be able to prove his citizenship of Somalia. The outcome will be that Mr. Elmi will be detained without a criminal charge for an inordinate length of time only to be released at the pleasure of the government.

Mr. Elmi’s potential detention by the Somali authorities will invariably expose him to the risk of torture and/or cruel and unusual treatment in the hands of fellow detainees who, realizing that he does not belong to a known clan and does not speak the Somali language, are very likely to want to subjugate him. Mr. Elmi is also most likely going to be subjected to acts of torture and cruel and unusual treatment by state and prison authorities who would want him to prove his Somali citizenship.

The possibility that Mr. Elmi will be detained without a criminal charge and face torture and/or be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment in Somalia infringes upon Mr. Elmi’s s.7 Charter right. Canada must uphold Mr. Elmi’s charter rights by not being a party to his torture and certain death in the hands of human rights-averse Somalis and state authorities.

Also, If Elmi is at some point released to roam the streets of Kismayo or Mogadishu, Elmi will be an easy target of Al Shabab recruiters and militants. Without a clan affiliation and loyalty, removing Mr. Elmi to Somalia is tantamount to Canada signing his death warrant. 

There is an online petition in support of Elmi, here.

3. Ukrainian space industry

A Ukrainian rocket factory. Photo
A Ukrainian rocket factory. Photo:

Earlier this summer, Olena Holubeva, a reporter with 112 Ukraine, wrote a twopart article about the Ukrainian space industry.

(112 Ukraine is a TV network which is owned by an opposition politician who some suggest has ties to the Kremlin. I can’t navigate the politics of that. And while Holubeva’s bio page lists considerable experience, including covering the Chernobyl disaster, an English language google search of her name brings no results. So grain of salt, I guess, but the reporting in the two-part series seems simply straight-forward and factual; if anything, it has a pro-Ukraine bias, from my perspective.)

Holubeva begins with a look at Ukraine’s “glorious cosmic past”:

A significant part of the rocket-space complex of the former Soviet Union was deployed in Ukraine, and after its collapse, about a third of the entire scientific, technical and production potential in the field of rocket and space technologies remained. In particular, this is one of the best design bureaus in the world — Yuzhnoye and the Southern Machine-Building Plant (Dnipro) rocket-building enterprise, specializing in the production of intercontinental ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles and spacecraft. In 1990, Yuzhmash produced about 100 missiles a year: both combat and civilian. The Yuzhnoye design office was engaged in the construction of launch vehicles and spacecraft. Over the years, the design bureau created and launched into space more than 400 spacecraft, among them Earth remote sensing satellites, scientific satellites, Eduard Kuznetsov, an adviser to the chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine states.

Even until recently, Ukrainian missiles flew from 6 cosmodromes of the world. Ukraine was in fifth place among the countries with the space industry. Our state accounted for about 10% of the total share of missile launches in the world. Ukraine was a member of the Global Star satellite launch project in 1994-1995. “Over the past 27 years, 160 launch vehicles have been commissioned, completed with the participation of Ukrainian enterprises of the rocket and space industry. More than 380 space vehicles were commissioned by order from 24 countries. This brought millions of revenues to the Ukrainian budget,” Kuznetsov says.

The bulk of that launch activity entailed joint projects with Russia, and even since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, that relationship continues, albeit not at previous levels of cooperation — Ukrainian rockets carry supplies to the International Space Station, for instance.

But, writes Holubeva, “the unique enterprises of Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash design offices are forced to look for sources of financing, orders for their products in other countries. It’s a paradox, but Ukraine still has advanced technologies in the space industry, while not having a single satellite in orbit. And if everything remains in the same position, the technologies will soon become obsolete. While space is being explored by private ‘monsters’ like SpaceX and Blue Origin, Ukrainian enterprises are stuck in the state captivity — no money and no particular prospects.”

A major setback to the Ukrainian space industry came on February 1, 2013, when a Ukrainian launch of an Cyclone 4American Intelsat-27 satellite failed and crashed into the ocean, at an insurance loss of $406 million.

The Cyclone 4 rocket

After that, Yuzhmash put its hopes on the Cyclone 4 rocket. The first prospective customer was Brazil, which has had its own deadly history at the Alcantara launch site near the equator (in 2003, 21 people were killed when a Brazilian-made solid fuel rocket exploded on the launch pad). “The design documentation for the cosmodrome was developed by Yuzhnoye design office,” writes Holubeva. “The Cyclone-4 carrier rocket was also developed. As part of the project, the company was attracted under the terms of a public-private partnership — it was engaged in the construction of ground infrastructure, which then was partially built and now it is literally rusting.”

Brazil's Alcantara spaceport
Brazil’s Alcantara spaceport. Photo: Alcantara Cyclone Space
Brazil’s Alcantara spaceport. Photo: Alcantara Cyclone Space

“The Brazilian government is ending a decade-long project to operate Ukraine’s Cyclone-4 rocket from Brazilian territory following a government review that found too many open questions about its cost and future market success, the deputy chief of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) said,” reported Peter B. de Selding for Space News, in 2015:

“It is an accumulation of issues,” said Petronio Noronha de Souza, AEB’s director of space policy and strategic investments. “There have been challenges on the budget issues, on the technological aspects, in the relationship between Brazil and Ukraine and in the actual market for export that would be available. So it is a combination of things.”

The Alcantara Cyclone Space project was to give Brazil and Ukraine access to the global commercial launch market for satellites in low and medium Earth orbit, with the possibility of launching very light telecommunications satellites into geostationary orbit.

Noronha de Souza said the idea of making a profit in the launch business is now viewed as an illusion. The project, he said, was unlikely ever to be able to support itself on commercial revenue alone.

“Do you really believe launchers make money in any part of the world? I don’t believe so. If the government doesn’t buy launches and fund the development of technology, it does not work,” he said.

So, next stop: Canada. Holubeva continues:

According to [Eduard Kuznetsov, an adviser to the chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine], the State Space Agency of Ukraine and Yuzhnoye design office managed to find a partner in Canada, Maritime Launch Services Ltd: “The Canadian partners were offered a modernized Cyclone-4M rocket, and in a year and a half it will be built in the Nova Scotia region. Ukraine and Canada will jointly attract borrowed funds for the project.”

There is no exact information on how many missiles the Canadians will order from Ukraine and whether it will be able to load Yuzhmash facilities by 100%.

Basically, the Ukrainian space industry now needs foreign, non-Russian buyers in order to survive, but as Holubeva reports, this comes at a time when nations are increasingly relying on domestic companies for their space launches.

How desperate are the Ukrainians to keep their rocket factories working? Consider that Holubeva reports that the factories are still selling smaller, military grade Smerch rocket launchers to the Russians, which are then used by the Russians in the field during military operations in Ukraine.

Anti-corruption expert Don Bowser explained the development of Maritime Launch Services to an audience in Canso:

Bowser traced the history of MLS, started in 2016 by American space industry professional John Isella, who was working for the Ukrainian government company Yuzhnoye, after the company’s efforts to build a spaceport in Brazil fell through.

At that point, Bowser said, Yuzhnoye, which does design and sales, and a second government-owned company, Yuzhmash, were desperately looking for another place to work, so they set up Maritime Launch Services, and partnered with an American government contractor, United Paradyne. (Isella was later replaced by Steve Matier as MLS CEO.)

According to Bowser, “MLS was directly created by Yushnoye. There is no degree of separation.”

Setting aside the environmental and safety issues of the proposed Canso launch site, this entire enterprise looks sketchy for financial reasons alone.

4. The cruise ship industry disses the Yarmouth ferry

Two cruise ships anchor at Bar Harbor
Two cruise ships anchor at Bar Harbor, causing flowers to bloom and rainbows to form. Photo: Bar Harbor Harbormaster Office

The Town of Bar Harbor, Maine, has received a “Cruise Tourism and Traffic Congestion in Bar Harbor” study, reports Becky Pritchard for the Mount Desert Islander. And hilarity ensues.

The study was conducted by Operations & Maritime, LLC and commissioned by Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), so there’s more than a bit of self-interest involved in its findings.

In essence, the study proposes that a current waterfront parking lot be turned into a “park,” albeit a park that will be used for tour buses accommodating cruise ship passengers. This sparked outrage among some town councillors:

“If we wanted to turn downtown Bar Harbor into a theme park for the cruise industry, it’s a great plan,” Councilor Judie Noonan said, “but I thought we had a community here. And I don’t see anything in here that benefits the local residents, the local taxpayers.

“It’s all about what’s good for the cruise industry,” Noonan continued. “You know, there’s another way we could reduce congestion: Maybe we’ve reached our tipping point with ships. Maybe we need to look at our [passenger] caps … and balance our overall tourism, so the local community can still use the town.”

But councillor Steve Coston had a different view:

“I think we’re beating up on it a little too hard. It was free,” he said, referring to CLIA funding the study for the town.

Everything free has value, no?

In any event, where the study gets interesting for Nova Scotians is how it disses the Yarmouth ferry. Reads the study:

The town just signed a lease with Bay Ferries allowing them to relocate ferry operations from Portland to Bar Harbor and continue to connect Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to Maine. Bay Ferries reported to the town of Bar Harbor that it expects to ferry 24,000 vehicles, including 40 buses, and a total of 60,000 passengers. The signed deal will see the town receiving $264K CDN per year for the lease of part of the terminal land, which translates to roughly $3.20 USD per ferry passenger, plus a per unit fees of $2 per passenger, $3 per vehicle and $20 per bus. If the forecast holds true every year that would translate to roughly $392K in gross revenue for the town. In contrast with the town current head tax of $4.46 per cruise passenger, which generated gross revenues of $919,293 for FY 2018, $1,022,506 for FY 201923, and forecasted revenues of $1,133,840 for FY 2020.

Overall, from the information currently available, it is hard to understand the decision of the town—aside from the objective of preserving a maritime nexus—to allow thousands of vehicles through this transportation mode for the modest rent they will generate.

From the perspective of the cruise industry, the ferry terminal space should have instead been used to accommodate cruise ship passengers.

This year, of course, there will be 0 passengers on the ferry, so after the building lease payments there are no per-passenger or per-vehicle fees collected by the town. But even should the ferry ever get up and running again, 60,000 passengers annually seems like an extremely rosy forecast.

The people of Bar Harbor appear to have a healthy disrespect for the cruise industry. But I wonder if the finances dictate that despite that healthy disrespect, the town will eventually give the boot to the ferry and go for the cruise ship dollars.

5. Those other cod

“[A] report published last month by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices) revealed that North Sea cod stocks had fallen to critical levels,” reports Harriet Sherwood for The Guardian:

Warning that cod was being harvested unsustainably, it recommended a 63% cut in the catch — and that’s on top of a 47% reduction last year.

6. South end fires

Last month, after the fire at the former Salvation Army store at 5280 Green Street, I noted that there had been five south end fires within a 16-month period, and that they were within about 100 metres of each other.

I then noted that three of the fires started on the outside of the respective buildings, while a fourth fire on July 3 was “in an apartment building 5515 Victoria Road, about a block away from last night’s fire. The cause of that fire is unknown, but it ignited inside the building in a storage room; I don’t know if there was public access to the room.”

But HalifaxToday reporter Meghan Groff corrects me on that point. She was at the scene at the time and points out that like the previous three fires, that fire started in a shed attached to the exterior of the building. The cause of the fire is still designated as “unknown” by fire investigators.

So at least four of the five fires began on the exterior of the buildings. The cause of two of those are listed as “incendiary,” while the other two remain unknown.

The source and cause of the Salvation Army building fire still hasn’t been publicized.

7. Right whale is free

Crew members attempt to disentangle a whale in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Photo: Alison Ogilvie/NOAA Fisheries

“A North Atlantic right whale that was seen entangled in fishing gear in late June has now been spotted swimming free of any gear, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada,” reports Jordan Gill for the CBC:

The whale was swimming off the coast of Miscou Island on New Brunswick’s northeastern shore, according to a tweet from the department posted on Friday.

8. The Icarus Report

I have no idea if this should worry us, but I’ve never seen anything like it before at any airport. From the Transportation Safety Board on Thursday:

At Halifax/Stanfield, NS (CYHZ) the Integrated Working Position (IWP) and Integrated Information Display System (IIDS) were malfunctioning, affecting flight data entry (FDE) transfer, time alignment mark (TAM) data entry, and Runway Occupancy Display System (RODS) functionality. The Technical Operations Coordinator (TOC) and Data Systems Coordinator (DSC) were advised. No known impact. Serviceable at 2345Z.

And on July 24 we had this incident, which I have likewise never seen at any other airport:

An ExpressJet Airlines Embraer EMB-145XR (N17108/ASQ4292) from Newark, NJ (KEWR) to Halifax/Stanfield, NS (CYHZ) on area navigation (RNAV) Z for Runway 32 was 1/4NM to 1/2NM left of the final approach course when 7 miles final. Tower advised pilot and they corrected when visual. They landed safely at 1523Z. A WestJet Boeing 737-7CT (C-GUWJ/WJA25) from London/Gatwick, United Kingdom (EGKK) to Halifax/Stanfield, NS (CYHZ) was also on a RNAV 32 and, after landing, advised that around three miles final their autopilot pulled them to the left. They disengaged the autopilot and landed safely at 1527Z. The Terminal Control Unit (TCU) and Technical Operations Coordinator (TOC) advised. Subsequent arrivals on Runway 32 had no issues.

As I say, I know nothing about this stuff, but the Terminal Control Unit seems rather busy of late.


1. Biomass

Biomass harvest in Nova Scotia. Photo courtesy Jamie Simpson Credit: Jamie Simpson

Bill McKibben has a succinct piece in the New Yorker that utterly upends the arguments for burning biomass as a strategy for addressing climate change:

The story of how this happened begins with good intentions. As concern about climate change rose during the nineteen-nineties, back when solar power, for instance, cost ten times what it does now, people casting about for alternatives to fossil fuels looked to trees. Trees, of course, are carbon—when you burn them you release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But the logic went like this: if you cut down a tree, another will grow in its place. And, as that tree grows, it will suck up carbon from the atmosphere—so, in carbon terms, it should be a wash.

William R. Moomaw, a climate and policy scientist who has published some of the most recent papers on the carbon cycle of forests, told me about the impact of biomass, saying, “back in those days, I thought it could be considered carbon neutral. But I hadn’t done the math. I hadn’t done the physics.” Once scientists did that work, they fairly quickly figured out the problem. Burning wood to generate electricity expels a big puff of carbon into the atmosphere now. Eventually, if the forest regrows, that carbon will be sucked back up. But eventually will be too long—as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made clear last fall, we’re going to break the back of the climate system in the next few decades. For all intents and purposes, in the short term, wood is just another fossil fuel, and in climate terms the short term is mostly what matters. As an M.I.T. study put it last year, while the regrowth of forests, if it happens, can eventually repay the carbon debt created by the burning of wood pellets, that payback time ranges from forty-four years to a hundred and four in forests in the eastern U.S., and, in the meantime, the carbon you’ve emitted can produce “potentially irreversible impacts that may arise before the long-run benefits are realized.”

Unlike human beings, who gain most of their height in their early years, [environmental scientist William] Moomaw explained to me, “trees grow more rapidly in their middle period, and that extends far longer than most people realize.” A stand of white pines, for instance, will take up twenty-two tons of carbon by its fiftieth year, which is about when it would get cut down to make pellets. “But, if you let it grow another fifty years, it adds twenty-five tons,” he said. “And in the next fifty years it adds 28.5 tons. It would be a mistake to cut them down when they’re forty and make plywood. It’s really foolish to cut them down when they’re forty and burn them, especially now that we’ve got cheap solar.” He calls letting trees stand and accumulate carbon “proforestation” — as opposed to reforestation.

“You can get to some pretty big numbers this way,” Moomaw added. “The Woods Hole Research Center found that, if we let secondary forests grow around the world, they would sequester 2.8 billion tons of carbon a year, which is about sixty per cent of the gap between what humans produce annually and what natural systems currently soak up. Instead, we’re increasingly cutting them down to burn for fuel.”

Now go read Linda Pannozzo’s article, “Feeding the fire.”


No public meetings this week.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Industrial Engineering (Monday, 10:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Muhammad Nadeem will defend “Contributions to the Study of Spraying Operations in the Context of Sustainable Agriculture.”

Thesis Defence, Process Engineering and Applied Science (Monday, 1:30pm, Room 1014, Rowe Management Building) — PhD candidate Farid Sayedin will defend “An Integrated Biorefinery for Anaerobic Digestion of Thin Stillage and Microalgae Cultivation for Nutrient Recycling, Bioenergy and Bioproduct Production.”

Thesis Defence, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Deepak Simili will defend “Silicon Micro and Nano Photonic Devices for Photonic Integrated Circuits.​”


Thesis Defence, Mechanical Engineering (Tuesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Davide De Cicco will defend “In-Depth Understanding of the Stability Response of a Novel 3d Fiber-Metal Laminate under Axial Impact Loading.​”

Thesis Defence, Biomedical Engineering (Tuesday, 9:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate David Adam Quirk will defend “Trunk Muscle Activation Patterns Adapt to Deficits in Individual Spinal Systems.​”

 Thesis Defence, Physiology and Biophysics (Tuesday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Diogo Da Rocha Poroca will defend “Phosphorylation-Dependent Changes in the R-Region Interactions Contribute to Regulation of the CFTR Chloride Channel.”​

Thesis Defence, Biology (Tuesday, 2pm, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building ) — PhD candidate Manuel Dureuil will defend “Evaluating Vital Components of Elasmobranch Assessment a​nd Spatial Conservation.​”

In the harbour

05:00: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
05:30: Goodwood, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
07:00: Horizon Enabler, offshore supply ship, moves from Pier 4 (Old Coast Guard Base) to IEL
07:00: Julius-S, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
07:45: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
10:30: Helios 2, yacht, arrives at Berth TBD from Lunenburg; somebody rented this for €190,000
15:30: Tropic Hope, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Palm Beach, Florida
15:30: Goodwood sails for sea
17:00: YM Evolution, container ship sails for Rotterdam
17:45: Zaandam sails for Sydney

Where are the Canadian military ships?


Once again, Examiner writers last week exceeded my expectations. I cannot thank Suzanne Rent, Philip Moscovitch, and Erica Butler enough for their Morning Files; Jennifer Henderson for her continued spot news pieces; Joan Baxter for her Ellen Page interview; Evelyn C. White, who popped in with another of her always-amazing pieces; Stephen Kimber’s regular weekly column; and of course Iris, who keeps everything running even when I’m around, but especially when I’m absent, when she additionally doubles as copyeditor.

I’m gobsmacked that so many talented reporters and writers are associated with the Examiner.

We had so much material last week — right in the middle of the slow news summer — that I doubt readers even knew I was away, or if they did, that they missed me.

I tried to take an entire week off, but of course I was working on various things, and Peter Kelly popped back into my consciousness. Still, I was able to relax with family, stare at a lake and listen to wildlife, and take a walk in the woods. I don’t do enough of this.

Back to work now, besides all the usual stuff, there’s a quite large reporting project barrelling towards me, and my hope is that I’ll be able to get other writers for Morning File two or three days a week for a few months. Writing Morning File is hard work! Let me tell you — that’s why mine so often are, er, lacking, and that’s why I’m super impressed that Suzanne, Philip, and Erica consistently do such a good job.

Anyway, it costs money to pay Suzanne, Philip, and Erica (and Stephen, Joan, Linda, Evelyn, El, and…), and so my plan to do other stuff depends on getting enough subscription income to pay them in my stead. All of which is to say, please subscribe.

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

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