November subscription drive

Good morning!

I’m doing something I’ve never done before: having a subscription drive.

Besides my own work, over the past two years, I’ve been able to publish Hilary Beaumont, Linda Pannozzo, El Jones, Erica Butler, Evelyn White, Jennifer Henderson, and others. I also had the great fortune to publish Michael Gorman before the CBC snatched him up, and now I’m working with Chris Lambie on a few things. That list isn’t exhaustive; there have been a couple of dozen other contributors through the years, and more are coming. Later this week, I’ll announce another important regular voice joining the Examiner crew.

Through these two years, I’ve been a soft sell on the subscription front. There’s a link at the end of every Morning File, but otherwise I rarely even ask for subscriptions. Now, however, I’d like to step it up a bit and expand the kind of offerings you’ve come to expect from the Examiner.

So please subscribe. You can do so by clicking here. You can buy a regular subscription for just $10 a month, but for the month of November, if you buy a $100 annual subscription, we’ll throw in a free Halifax Examiner T-shirt.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled Morning File.


1. Stormwater charges

Yesterday, Halifax Water submitted an application to the Utility and Review Board seeking to adjust its stormwater charges.

I haven’t had time to read the 332-page document, but the application’s Executive Summary claims that “Residential Customers are currently charged $33.39 annually. Under this proposal, the majority of residential customers (78,077 out of 87,968 or 88.8%) will see a decrease in their Site.”  Here’s a chart explaining the effect of the proposed changes:


I doubt this will much reduce the ire of the people opposed to the “ditch tax.”

Readers can find the application by going here and typing M07731 into the top search box.

2. Cleary wins recount

Shawn Cleary
Shawn Cleary

“After hours of counting on Monday, Shawn Cleary is officially the councillor-elect for District 9,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:

The results of the Oct. 15 election were put to the test in a judicial recount in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. After about four hours of counting by Judge Josh Arnold, the new results showed an extra vote for Cleary, widening the gap of his win from 106 to 107 votes over the incumbent, now-former councillor Linda Mosher.


Mosher was unable to attend the recount, sending lawyer Barry Mason and campaign manager Mike Kydd to court on Monday on her behalf. But she provided a statement to reporters congratulating Cleary for his win, and then going on to question the legitimacy of the electoral process in Halifax.

She called on the new regional council to direct the auditor general to conduct a forensic audit of the elections office during the campaign, “with particular, but not exclusive, emphasis on the security provisions for online voting, training of elections staff and the employing of former Councillors as elections staff and whether that constitutes a real or perceived conflict of interest.”


Mosher also took issue with former councillor Dawn Sloane’s position as deputy returning officer in District 9, and Kydd said a former councillor was not a “prudent choice” for the position.

When Sloane was on council, she and Mosher were often at loggerheads.

And yes, it’s very weird that Mike Kydd was Mosher’s campaign manager, but that’s neither here nor there.

Some will read simple petulance into Mosher’s comments, but I concur that the process needs a review. It’s unlikely that anything untoward happened in the e-voting, but the potential for wrongdoing or error is huge.

I ‘ve never met Cleary in person and don’t know much about him besides that he is a former Liberal Party staffer (correction: Cleary worked on Liberal MLA Joachim Stroink’s campaign, but was previously a researcher for the PCs). But it’s hard not to think he’ll be an improvement over Mosher at the council table.

I never really understood Mosher. She had a knack for speaking in such a way that she seemed to be on both sides of every issue, and I think that translated into electoral success. But she was disliked by other councillors, and her campaign contributions and voting record show she was a darling of the development industry.

I think that pro-development record came up against a strong community backlash over the proposal to extend water and sewer services down Purcells Cove Road, potentially opening up the backlands to development. In typical both-sides-of-her-mouth fashion, Mosher attempted to equivocate and confuse, but residents finally saw what she was about — or at least enough residents to defeat her at the polls.

3. It begins

That didn’t take long. A police email sent to reporters last night:

At 8:30pm, HRP officers responded to a weapons/suspicious circumstance call in the Danforth Road area.  A 12 year old boy was going through his trick or treat bag after Halloween and he cut his thumb reaching for a candy bar. A razor blade was found inserted inside the wrapper of a candy bar. The boy had been trick or treating in the Danworth Road / Keyworth Lane area of Spryfield and had visited approximately 150 houses. The boy suffered only a minor cut and the matter is still under investigation.

The father, who has the Twitter handle @HfxPat, posted these photos:



It’s worth noting that @hfxpat has only six followers (it was five last night) and follows just 17 accounts, so he likely has not seen yesterday’s CBC article debunking Halloween candy tampering or my repeated diatribes against what is clearly an urban legend abetted by hoaxers.

In any event, no other child in the neighbourhood has yet to report getting death candy last night.

But CTV carried the report on the 11pm news, so now we’ll get copycat reports of Halloween candy tampering from across the network’s viewing area.

My prediction: the cops will make a big deal out of this: Be sure to check the candy! Only accept candy from Megacorp, Inc. and never anything homemade from that possibly psychotic old lady down the street! Go only to approved Halloween events, preferably guarded by cops collecting overtime! BE AFRAID! And then we’ll be told about forensic investigations and high-tech surveillance and why we must support forever increasing police budgets and intrusions into our civil liberties.

But no one will even be arrested. No one will be charged. Most certainly no one will be convicted.

I remind readers of this November 4, 1996 Chronicle Herald story by reporter Randy Jones (and is that a great reporter name or what?):


It reads:

A Westphal boy who lied about finding a razor blade in a tiny chocolate bar was forced by his parents to go on television Sunday to apologize.

Wayne Cross, 12, claimed he found a razor inside a tiny Crunchie bar while rooting through his Halloween treats Friday morning, sparking a wave of news stories.

But over the weekend, his story unravelled when he refused a polygraph test after police became suspicious he put the razor blade inside the bar.

On Sunday, Wayne’s father said he found out when he returned from a hunting trip Saturday that his son’s story was a hoax. 

“I’m still upset. That’s why he’s at his aunt’s,” he said.

He said Wayne, who appeared on television last week explaining how he found the razor, didn’t really give him a clear explanation about why he pulled the hoax before he left for his aunt’s with his mother, Debbie.

“When I came back it was all out in the open with the RCMP officer. There was something about his story that just didn’t jibe,” said the father, adding that Wayne will be punished for his lie. 

Although his father provided a phone number where his son could be reached, Wayne’s aunt refused to let him come to the phone.

“Right now he’s a little confused about things,” she said. “I’ve got him up here with me to try to get him away from all of this.”

Wayne’s mother and father told him to go back on a TV news broadcast Sunday to apologize.

“Sorry… to everyone that helped me,” Wayne told ATV.

A Cole Harbour RCMP officer suggested the boy put the razor in the bar to remind parents that all Halloween candy should be checked.

RCMP said over the weekend no charges will be laid.

Ah, the good old days, when cops would tie kids up to lie-dectector machines and parents would force a boy to go on TV to apologize for his misdeeds. There are a few Wayne Crosses in the Halifax area; it’d be great to talk to the one in the article — I bet these 20 years later he’s now a stand-up guy, in part because his dad wouldn’t stand for that sort of nonsense from his son.

We’ve had something like a dozen “Halloween candy tampering” reports over the past few years, and no one has been charged — either for tampering with candy or for calling in a hoax.

When I call the cops about this, they put me off. The candy is being sent to a lab somewhere for testing. The results aren’t in. The investigation is ongoing. We’ll get back to you if we learn anything. It strikes me as a particularly nonchalant attitude about someone supposedly trying to kill random children; my guess is the cops know there are a bunch of lying kids out there, but don’t want to make a big deal out of it because the fear the reports generate in the community serves the cops’ larger agenda.

If I’m wrong and someone is charged with something that isn’t a hoax, I’ll personally apologize to @hfxpat, his son, the cops, and readers. I’ll wash @HfxPat’s car. I’ll attend 10 police commission meetings, even the boring ones.

But I’m not wrong.

4. Python deaths

“Testimony is expected to begin today in the jury trial of a man charged in the deaths of two young New Brunswick boys who were suffocated by a python,” reports the Canadian Press. This has got to be one of the most horrifying stories to ever come out of the Maritimes.


1. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

Leave First-Past-the-Post as it is – even though it’s evident that the current system needs no extra misguided misfits. In the name of sanity we ought to try to open our brains.

Ivan Bulger, Charlottetown



City Council (6pm, NSCC Waterfront Campus) — the new city council will be sworn in.


Legislature sits (1pm-8pm, Province House)

On campus


Girls (1pm, Room 1028, Kenneth Rowe management Building) — Theresa Ulicki will speak on “Investing in Girls: Gender Equality in International Development.”

Innovation!!!1111eleventy111!!! (6pm, Room 2600, Killiam Library) — The Dalhousie Entrepreneurship Society is hosting an “entrepreneurship workshop” on “Prototyping your Innovative Creations.” Bring your own booze; the drinking word is “world-class.”

Serendipitous Collisions (8pm, University Club Pub) — Chris Cowper-Smith, president of Spring Loaded Technology, will speak and maybe by happenstance stuff will collide.

In the harbour

0:15am: OOCL Kaohsiung, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Cagliari, Italy
5:30am: Boheme, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southhampton, England
1:30pm: Itea, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England

Atlantic Cartier. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Atlantic Cartier. Photo: Halifax Examiner

6:30pm: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
11pm: Atlantic Pioneer, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea

6am: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
11:30am: Boheme, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
4pm: Boheme, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for sea
5pm: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
11:30pm: Fantasia, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Beaumont, Texas


We’ll be publishing Erica Butler’s transportation column later today.

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

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  1. Pretty bang-on assessment of Mosher. I remember working with her on the AT Committee and I kept leaving each meeting with the feeling that she has absolutely no interest in making this city more friendly to AT users. There was never anything that she said outright, but drudging up weird regulations and infrastructure policies that seemed pretty anti AT lane, or giving a lot of time and leeway to folks that were anti-AT, sometimes to a hostile degree.

    But at the end of the day, I think this ought to show that you can’t run over a cyclist (accidental), then deny doing it, then buy out the http address of someone campaigning against you, also take the amount of cash from developers that she has over the years without your constituency getting a little peeved about your behavior.

  2. Re subscriptions: Do you have any numbers on the popularity of Examineradio? It’s not a feature of my subscription that I take advantage of. Don’t want to sit and listen, prefer to read. However, I’m always surprised to see your Twitter link to Morning File before I get the notice in my inbox. I do sometimes wonder about the real value of my subscription, except to support the occasional investigative piece.

  3. Who will be swearing in the members of the new council ?
    My guess is Mr Justice Timothy Gabriel will perform the task at 80, Mawiomi Place.

      1. Yeah, I should have read the HRM press release.
        I had a nice chat with Justice Hood after the ceremony.
        We crossed swords, in a nice way, several times when she was acting as solicitor at Dartmouth council meetings and I was asking her awkward questions. Years later she told me how she enjoyed council meetings when I rose to challenge her opinions.
        The reception after the swearing in was quite interesting, at least one developer showed up and Lindell Smith had many relatives and friends inattendance, more than any other councillor.

  4. Several points:

    1. I often disagree with you, but Halifax Examiner is an important part of Nova Scotia’s news and opinion media, I’ve been a happy subscriber from the start,

    2. Outraged citizens and pols who want to show how important they think it is that something be investigated now have a new word they can use: “forensic.” It makes an investigation sound so much more serious and thorough. But really, “forensic” is a technical term used when you need to present the results of an investigation in court, so you need chains of custody, etc. Because it requires batteries of lawyers and accountants, it makes a normal investigation five times as expensive. Usually to no apparent purpose except to make media scolds sound more self-important.

    3. Why is it weird that Michael Kydd, an experienced Conservative political operative, chaired Mosher’s campaign? Oh, yes. Because, while estranged from his wife, Kydd entered into a consensual sexual relationship with a woman of his own age. Shocking! Media scolds and academic ideologues deemed the relationship improper because it offended arbitrary, ideological norms that fly in the face of real world behaviour. He was forced to quit his job rather than see his employer suffer collateral damage from the media shaming he went through. I’m glad to see him put his talents to work, and disappointed to see you resurrect the lynch mob. see:

    4. I often disagree with you (see ¶ 1, 2, and 3, above) but you might be the least lazy journalist I know.

    5. Thank you for continuing to scoff at the halloween razor blade nonsense. This is not a trivial issue. It’s part of a much bigger social problem. The popular news media’s profit-driven compulsion to exploit unreasoning fears distorts our perceptions and makes us afraid of immigrants, terrorists, the poor, unsupervised childhood play, crime, normal winter weather, harmless sexuality, and citizen invaders at the legislature. It is changing society in unhealthy ways. Otherwise sensible people cling to these fears tenaciously.

    6. Thank you for featuring the wonderful Bill Turpin on the Examiner Radio podcast.

  5. If, on average, a child participates in two or three trick-or-treating events (a low number, but not everywhere in North America is safe enough to trick-or-treat) in their lifetime, and the current population of North America is 350 million or so, that means that collectively, 1 billion trick-or-treating events have resulted in zero actual incidents of random candy poisoning or razor-blade insertion.

  6. Well Tom, there has been a case of poisoned candy in the US, killing one child and injuring several others.

    The catch: it was a father attempting to kill his own son for the insurance money and poisoning others in order to provide himself with an alibi.

    The author here appears to have come to the same conclusion you have – there has never been any incidents of candy tampering in the US and the only real threat is that someone might be handing out Tootsie Rolls.

  7. I am surprised to learn you can still buy razor blades. Who shaves with an old-fashioned safety razor these days? Even my Dad didn’t use one. Is this yet another thing that has made a hipster comeback without me learning of it?

    As for the snake deaths thing, that happened in the city where I live. I was the first member of the media on the scene that morning, New Brunswick Day 2013. One of the photos I took ended up being used by Reuters. Happily, I am not covering the trial. I know the mother, the father, the grandparents, and knew the two boys. I saw them in Sobeys just before the incident. There are some interesting side stories that came out during pre-trial proceedings, but they are temporarily subject to a publication ban..

    1. Safetly razors are in fashion again. There’s the retro-hip thing, but there is also the insane cost of disposable blades. And they ususally give a better shave once you get used to them (according to my husband who switched a couple of years ago.)

      I don’t belive in random malevolent razor-blade insertions but I wouldn’t discount the posibility of a random piece of sharp metal being found in a candy bar as a result of a manufacturing error.

  8. i look forward to future dawg father political conspiracies and wish linda mosher all the best as future donair ambassador to the world

  9. Re: November subscription drive – there’s some good content behind the paywall, no question, but the topics are not all that compelling to me..with the exception of the Dead Wrong series. That was one of the most intriguing things I have read in some time, then it just stopped. I’d like to see that series picked up again, and more investigative true crime stories behind the paywall. You do this so well.

    1. I’m working on it. Investigative journalism isn’t a one-off. It took me eleven months to research and write the Peter Kelly story. It took 14 months for just the Glen Assoun part of Dead Wrong, and many more months for the subsequent parts. I rushed DW parts 1,2, and 3 into print because people were giving me a hard time for taking so long, and then the Chronicle Herald strike started.

      People have this idea I’m being lazy. But this stuff takes time. Back in the old days, when newspapers had true investigative units, there’d be five or six people devoted to a story like this for months at a time. They’d do nothing else. Now, it’s just me, and besides the research and investigation, I have to do daily news stories and manage a business besides.

      Frankly, this is why people should pay for investigative reporting. It takes time and money that advertiser-driven, hit conscious daily media won’t pay for.

      1. I don’t think you’re lazy at all, Tim. I know something of what you’re up against trying to juggle all the balls simultaneously. I’ve been a subscriber for a while–about 6-8 months, I think–but a lot of what you publish really doesn’t interest me much because I don’t live in HRM. That’s not a negative against you either, just an observation. No one tends to read anything but books cover to cover, so to speak. Generally, at least in the magazine world of the past (not sure about current stats) publishers were happy if a subscriber read three articles in an issue. I continue to subscribe more because I believe in what you’re doing than in any personal benefits to me in paying. It ain’t much, but hopefully it helps a little–and if a couple of hundred more folks stepped up and gave you ten bucks a month, it would be a huge help. You are providing a much needed service, especially since the herald imploded and went up its own butt… (I subscribe to Local Xpress too, by the way).

  10. Tim, that would actually be pretty interesting, maybe it’s a bit late this year, but maybe next year you could try and talk to a few halloween hoaxers. I am sure in the long run, being made to make a public apology would definitely teach a lesson and I’m sure none of them were the worse off for being disciplined in some sort of sensible way. The age where people typically decide to put razor blades in their halloween candy for attention is definitely an important age when it comes to learning how the adult world works – I wasn’t thrilled to read about the unnamed Cole Harbour RCMP officer who offered the kid an out which transformed his misdeeds into a civic-minded warning about a non-existent, but emotionally charged issue.

    What kind of lesson is that?

  11. I have a theory on the Halloween Candy issue. I think there is a secret cabal of dentists and church ladies who want to take down Halloween and Big Candy. It started with the church ladies – that’s why there used to be more reports of apples with needles in them and such. When the dentists got involved, they sharpened their target. The church ladies know that sugar angries the blood and makes preteens grow into sullen, oversexed teens. They have an international dark web network. Each year they pick random targets and slink into Shoppers and Walgreens, tamper with one candy, two max, per area, and escape easily by appearing doddering. They are fomenting bad feeling about Halloween candy.

    They are still trying to figure out what to do about costumes like Sexy John Oliver or Sexy Tim Bousquet.

  12. I liked the e-voting option and think that it wouldn’t hurt to do some sort of audit/assessment to assure everyone that it is working as expected. A sort of confidence building exercise might get more people to use it.

  13. Hi Tim: Shawn Cleary used to work for the Conservatives, not the Liberals. It’s great to see a new councillor in District 9!

    1. Hmmm. I’ll have to check that. I think it was another Liberal staffer who told me that.

      1. Yeah, he worked on Joachim Stroink’s campaign, according to his LinkedIn page, but he was previously a researcher for the PCs.

        1. The botton line is Mosher is gone! Praise the lord!

          Too bad we’re stuck with other “cement tires” – Hendsbee, Walker, Streatch, Adams….