News

1. Province says Green Fund rebates will be good til end of 2023

An electric car charging. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

“Nova Scotians who want to take advantage of a provincial rebate to purchase an electric vehicle or a subsidized home energy audit if they heat their homes with oil have until the end of 2023 to get it done,” Jennifer Henderson reports. “The same goes for homeowners looking for financial assistance through the provincial government to install solar panels. These are just three examples of a dozen programs financed by the Green Fund.”

Henderson continues:

Over the past four years, the Green Fund raised about $100 million for energy efficiency programs through the buying and selling of carbon credits among companies required to offset their greenhouse gas emissions that exceeded a “cap” or limit set by the Department of the Environment and Climate Change.

Aside from looking at the rebate program, Henderson dives into the end of Nova Scotia’s cap-and-trade program, and why the provincial government is opposed to introducing a federal carbon tax, which we’ve been exempt from for years, to replace cap-and-trade. The new tax would raise gas prices. Rejecting it could allow polluters like Nova Scotia Power and Irving Oil to produce without any limit on how much carbon they can emit.

Read more about rebates, the end of cap-and-trade, and how a new carbon tax could affect Nova Scotians, here.

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2. Johns: NS RCMP not underfunded

Justice Minister Brad Johns speaks to reporters in Halifax on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Photo: Zane Woodford

This item was written by Jennifer Henderson.

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns said on Wednesday he disagrees with a statement made by the former commander of the RCMP in Nova Scotia at the Mass Casualty Commission (MCC).

Earlier this week, now retired assistant commissioner Lee Bergerman told the commision she agreed that one reason there weren’t more police officers and more full-time Emergency Response Team (ERT) members was because “the province was chronically underfunding the RCMP.” 

Johns takes a different view. On Wednesday, he told reporters the RCMP usually gets whatever it requests from the province. For several months after the Portapique tragedy, the province paid out more than *$5 million to hire RCMP officers from Ontario and Quebec who arrived to fill in for dozens of officers who were off duty as a result of the trauma. Since Portapique, the complement of full-time ERT members has doubled.

“Commissioner Lucki has said they have trouble getting staff,” Johns said. “There have been vacancy issues and if they aren’t filled, why are we paying for them? It’s an internal issue that’s the responsibility of the RCMP.”

At the RCMP detachment in Bible Hill, about a 20-minute drive from Portapique, the number of officers available for active duty on April 18, 2020 was down by four to five because those officers were on leave for parenting, stress, or injury. Six new positions have recently been added, but Bergerman told the commission that’s still not sufficient. Under the recent collective agreement, the salary for one new officer costs the municipality a minimum of $150,000 a year.

Johns said the province is in the process of drafting new province-wide policing standards and receiving feedback from the RCMP and 10 other municipal police forces. He said the standards will be made public in late fall.     

*Update: Since the publication of this piece, the Examiner learned from the Department of Justice that the cost to hire RCMP officers from Ontario and Quebec to fill in was $3.8 million.                                          

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3. No masks for school kids this fall

Photo: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Kids across Nova Scotia are returning to school in two weeks, but masks aren’t. The Department of Education announced on Wednesday that it’s not requiring students, teachers, or staff wear masks at school or on buses this fall. Jennifer Henderson has the full report on it here.

Education Minister Becky Druhan said Wednesday she is “following the advice of Public Health.” But that advice hasn’t changed since May, when officials “strongly recommended” masks in indoor spaces to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Despite this, Nova Scotia dropped mask mandates for the last month of school in the spring and will carry that decision into the fall. Masks will be provided at schools for those who wish to wear them, and mandates could come back if the situation changes.

Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Becky Druhan. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Epidemiologists and a number of politicians are concerned that optional masks, combined with lower vaccination numbers among students ⁠— 45% of children aged five to 11 have been vaccinated ⁠— and poor ventilation in schools could increase the spread of COVID and put more burden on an already short-staffed health care system.

“We have complete contradiction on what the advice from Public Health is to this government”, said Liberal leader Zach Churchill. “I’ve heard both the premier and the minister of education say they are taking advice from Public Health. And then we heard from universities, which are bringing in masking protocols, that they are taking advice from Public Health. So, who is taking advice from Public Health here?”

Masking in schools isn’t all Henderson covers in her latest article. 

There’s also the question of how Health Minister Michelle Thompson plans to roll out a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine on a wide scale. And what’s being done to deal with the backlog of 24,000 Nova Scotians waiting for surgery? How will federal funding, made available in March to help relieve the problem, be spent for that purpose? Will the province consider increasing private care to help get surgeries through?

Premier Tim Houston’s answer to that last question is, thankfully, no.

“We need a health care system that’s there for Nova Scotians when they need it. It’s my personal view health care should be inside a public system,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m not interested in Nova Scotians using their credit card to pay for health care.”

Click here to read Henderson’s complete article.

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4. Public health journal: What made Nova Scotians band together at the start of the pandemic?

A pandemic social distancing floor marker in June, 2021. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

The item below was written by Yvette d’Entremont:

There was a time earlier in the pandemic when Nova Scotia was nationally recognized for its low COVID-19 case count, high vaccine uptake, a broad acceptance of public health measures, and widely accessible rapid tests..

In findings recently published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, Dalhousie University researchers explored why Nova Scotians came together and so widely embraced public health measures (PHM) in those early waves of the pandemic. 

They suggest two “critical incidents” during the province’s first pandemic lockdown — the 53 deaths of older adults in care facilities and the Portapique mass shooting — may have played a role.

Those incidents, they wrote, “sparked an altruistic communitarian “Nova Scotia Strong” attitude that prevailed during the first 2 years of the pandemic.” 

They suggested that the ‘Nova Scotia Strong’ campaign helped strengthen an “existing feeling of collective responsibility” to adhere to provincially mandated public health measures rather than embrace “more individualistic libertarian conduct expressed in some other pockets of the country.”

“The devastating Portapique mass murders in the early weeks of the province lockdown had an indirect effect on PHM adherence,” researchers said. “Several participants noted a sense of uneasiness in the province, further highlighting the importance of caring for one another.”

Researchers interviewed three groups of Nova Scotians between May and August 2021. They included community members, leaders, and decision makers who discussed pandemic-related topics ranging from vaccine hesitancy and confidence to the communication of public health measures. 

“Adherence to PHM (public health measures) was further heightened by trust in key leaders, in particular the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMoH), who took a primary lead in official public health announcements using evidence-informed, non-partisan guidance, and was strongly supported by the NS premier with catchy slogans like “Stay the Blazes Home,’” researchers wrote.

They also noted that Nova Scotians relied on trusted COVID-19 information sources that were considered independent of politics and social media.

“We suggest that a shared sense of responsibility to their community was heightened perhaps by the Portapique murders, an incident that prompted widespread reflection on what matters most—a safe and responsible community,” researchers stated in their conclusion.

“Public health and government leaders appealed to and negotiated with Nova Scotians in a manner that united rather than divided along political lines. A critical and pivotal two weeks, early in the pandemic, may have reinforced strong communitarian values and trust in provincial mandated public health measures.”

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5. PRICED OUT Resource List

As the Examiner continues to cover housing issues across Nova Scotia, Suzanne Rent has compiled a helpful list of resources for anyone trying to navigate the turbulent waters surrounding the housing and rental markets right now.

It’s a province-wide list of legal resources and organizations that can help you figure out your rights, find a place, get support, or answer any questions you might have about your own housing predicament.

It’s tough out there. No need to figure it all out on your own.

See if there’s someone on the page who can help you with your own housing predicament, and let us know if there’s a resource we missed. You can find housing stories from the Examiner here, at the PRICED OUT homepage.

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6. Halifax heritage committee wants to protect university properties. But what does Dalhousie want?

Dalhousie University’s Henry Hicks academic building in July, 2021. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

Zane Woodford covers Halifax council’s Heritage Advisory Committee meeting on Wedneday, and finds they’re trying to protect buildings that the owner doesn’t want protected.

The owner: Dalhousie University.

Of the list of 42 potential heritage properties discussed at the virtual meeting Wednesday, 35 are on Dalhousie campuses. They include the Henry Hicks Building (pictured above), Sexton House, and the Provincial Archives Building. But the university isn’t keen on registering its properties, despite staff recommendations. From Woodford:

Heritage planner Seamus McGreal told the committee staff worked to create the list following a council motion in 2019 seeking “an educational institutional heritage policy.”

“The mere ownership of a potential heritage building by an educational institution does not necessarily protect it from demolition,” McGreal told the committee.

And the committee should know.

Just last month it voted to recommend in favour of heritage registration for a Dalhousie-owned building on Edward Street. As the Halifax Examiner reported, the university sought and received a demolition permit for the home, built in 1897, even after local residents rallied to save it and applied to have it registered as a heritage property. Council voted to hold a heritage hearing for the building, and it’s scheduled for a September meeting, triggering a pause on demolition. The university is expected to oppose the registration, having argued the building doesn’t have “genuine heritage value.”

Dalhousie hasn’t been happy about the idea of registering its other buildings either, McGreal said, based on two meetings with Dal staff.

“They do maintain that Dalhousie is actively maintaining the public value of their campus buildings without heritage registration, and they requested that no Dalhousie building proceed to municipal heritage evaluation,” McGreal said.

This article is for subscribers only. You can subscribe here.

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7. Halifax considering JUNO bid for 2024

A JUNO Award — Photo: junoawards.ca

How much is a JUNO worth? If the American exchange rate also applies to meaningless awards, it’s worth about three-quarters of a Grammy.

How about the JUNO Awards as a whole? How much are they worth? For Halifax, it could be $700,000.

As Zane Woodford reports, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) gave a presentation to council’s Special Events Advisory Committee Wednesday, requesting that Halifax submit a proposal to host the JUNO Awards, Canada’s premier irrelevant music awards, in March 2024. Should they make a successful bid, the fee to host is $1.7 million — $1 million would be covered by the province, with Halifax picking up the rest of the tab.

The municipality had already considered hosting in 2020 and 2025, but CARAS — they run the JUNOS, by the way — told council 2024 is ideal. The report to council also states 2024 is ideal to host the awards, since it could build “on the investment made by both levels of government to the 2023 East Coast Music Awards (ECMAS) to support and showcase the local music industry over two consecutive years.”

CARAS was unclear if other cities were being considered for the hosting gig, though an executive did say they’re “very geared towards Halifax.”

And Halifax appears geared towards the JUNOS. The Special Events Advisory Committee voted to approve the $700,000 of funding should Halifax host. The application is due September 13 and a decision is expected in October.

This article is for subscribers only. You can subscribe here. 

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8. The Tideline, Episode 92: Annick MacAskill

Poet and professor Annick MacAskill is Tara Thorne’s guest on this week’s Tideline.

It’s Thursday. That means Tara Thorne is back with a new Tideline. Here’s a bit about this week’s show:

The Halifax-based poet and university professor Annick MacAskill has crafted a beautiful (and beautiful to touch thanks to Gaspereau Press) ode to a common but still stigmatized subject matter: pregnancy loss. Shadow Blight considers the pain of pregnancy loss through the classical myth of Niobe, whose grief for her dead children was so monumental she turned to stone. MacAskill speaks to the process of crafting and presenting such intimate, personal thoughts and the lack of popular culture on the subject, among other things. Plus a song from the new Klarka Weinwurm album.

Listen here and check out past episodes at the Tideline archives.

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Views

The JUNOS: put our money where the music is

A JUNO Award — Photo: junoawards.ca

The last time Halifax hosted the JUNOS, the show headliners were the Black Eyed Peas (from the US) and Coldplay (from the UK).

Michael Bublé won the award for best album and artist and Nickelback was group of the year.

An award show meant to honour the best in Canadian music brought in two international acts, honoured the most hated band of the 21st century, and thought no one in Canada came up with a more creative, interesting album than a crooner singing standards (It beat out Diana Krall’s Christmas album).

It’s not a fresh take to call the JUNOS irrelevant. It’s not a fresh take to call awards shows arbitrary and meaningless. But look at the results of the 2006 JUNOS in Halifax. An overplayed opinion can still be a valid opinion.

According to the JUNOS website, the awards started in the 1960s when RPM Magazine asked readers to write in who they thought the best Canadian musician was each year. From there it evolved into an industry awards night celebrating the best in Canadian music, and finally it became the public, travelling awards it is now. It should never have gone that far. A magazine survey would have sufficed. A private industry night the public isn’t subjected to would also be acceptable.

Instead, it turned into the irrelevant show we know today. A show that ignored hip-hop and other non-mainstream genres for years, put sales and popularity in America above creativity and merit, and nominated two Christmas albums for album of the year in 2012 ⁠— you can’t tell me there wasn’t a better non-seasonal recording released in this country 10 years ago. You just can’t. (For those of you wondering, Michael Bublé beat out Justin Bieber’s holiday album, so at least they got that right).

However, if the JUNOS must persist, and if Halifax and the province feel the need to pay over a million dollars to host it in two years’ time, let me tell the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences how to make them relevant and worthwhile. I’m not a professional musician or industry expert, but I took piano lessons as a kid and my car has a radio, so here’s my two cents.

First, scrap the awards. No need. All awards are, as I said before, arbitrary and meaningless, but that’s especially the case in music. There are so many varieties and tastes, it’s pointless. Remember when Arcade Fire won best album at the 2010 Grammys and the internet went nuts because Americans had never heard of them? No? Probably because it didn’t matter. At all.

Plus, The Suburbsis a masterpiece. It deserves a good set of speakers, not a trophy.

If the point of the JUNOS is to showcase the best in Canadian music, put away the accolades and just do that.

Book out venues throughout the host city ⁠— the Cohn, Alderney Landing, the waterfront, St. Andrew’s Church, and so on ⁠— put on some good shows with Canada’s best, both established and emerging, and celebrate the most interesting artists this country has to offer. And make sure to get musicians from a broad range of genres and backgrounds.

Music isn’t a competition. It either makes you dance or it doesn’t. It moves you or it bores you. A statue of metal doesn’t change that and is therefore unnecessary. The award should just be the invitation to Canada’s biggest celebration of music.

The East Coast Music Awards do it right. They still give out awards, it’s right in the name, but at least it feels like a festival full of new discoveries and old favourites. It actually promotes the music being made in the region and gives new artists a chance. Small as it is, it’s more relevant than the much bigger JUNOS. Anyway, back to my suggestions.

Once the awards have been retired, retire the broadcast.

Who wants to watch two hours of bands playing live in a tinny-sounding stadium named after a bank while hosts banter inanely to fill time? Not I. Look at the opening to this year’s JUNOS.

Just painful.

So. Goddamned. Corny.

Once we’ve done away with a big singular event for the dispensing of awards (that no longer exist in my world), we can save the writers, hosts, and viewers a lot of discomfort and just do away with the live TV experience.

Instead, send some film crews around town to capture different, far more intimate shows, then compile the big acts and songs into an hour-and-a-half long prepackaged film. Post it online and keep dropping videos of different songs and artists not included in the following weeks. More musicians get exposure and no one has to pretend the JUNOS are important. We can just enjoy the music and find some new listening material. Also, young people might actually check it out if it’s not a time-sensitive CBC broadcast.

We can build a better JUNOS. We have the technology.

This summer, my sister offered me a free ticket to the JUNOS broadcast soundcheck when I was in Toronto. It was a big show at a huge amphitheatre on the water that would last three hours, about half of which would be filled with music. I’m not one to turn down a free concert, but I had a prior commitment and couldn’t make it. What was that prior commitment? I can’t even remember. I had dinner plans, maybe? I seem to remember I had plans at the beach. Whatever it was, I have no regrets. If it had been a free show at Massey Hall, with a variety of performers, some of whom I’ve yet to discover, and if it was void of cheesy host banter and commercial breaks, I likely would have made it a priority.

If the status quo persists, I implore HRM and the province not to waste their money on this event. There are better ways to bring good music to this part of the country. Take the 2023 ECMAs for instance. Stick with that. The Jazz Fest is great, too. Keep it up.

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Noticed

Photo: Hockey Canada/Facebook

Mac Horsburgh has an opinion piece in the Winnipeg Free Times this morning, where he considers what’s to be done with Hockey Canada’s board in the aftermath of the sexual assault fund scandal that’s rocked the organization and sport this summer.

What qualifications should board members have? In the case of Hockey Canada, what qualifications for a role that involves overseeing the operation of a complex organization with operating budget of $62 million and assets of $153 million?

If you look at the qualifications of the members of Hockey Canada’s board of governors, superficially it seems they are eminently qualified, with extensive hockey, administrative and volunteer backgrounds.

And yet this board appears to have monumentally failed in its stated purpose, which is “to lead, develop and promote positive hockey experiences.” Currently, more than 90 per cent of Canadians are angry or unhappy with how Hockey Canada handled recent allegations of sexual assault and the use of its National Equity Fund to settle with sexual-assault complainants.

What went wrong here? Did none of these board members think the real owners of Hockey Canada — the taxpaying public and registration fee-paying parents and players — would be outraged to discover Hockey Canada was routinely settling sexual-abuse allegations with their members’ registration fees?

Hockey Canada just wrapped up the World Junior Championship, which was played in summer due to COVID delays. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. 

I fell in love with the sport when the World Juniors came to Halifax in 2003. That tournament too is now tainted by Hockey Canada’s hushed legal fund.

Canada now has more players in the NBA and MLB than ever before. We have legitimate tennis stars. Our women’s soccer team has become a powerhouse and the men’s team is starting to catch up. The 2026 World Cup will no doubt inspire a whole new generation of Canadian soccer players. Even the BC team that represented Canada at this year’s Little League World Series put in a good showing, beating perennial powerhouse Japan 6-0.

Hockey is ingrained in this country’s culture. It’s not going anywhere any time soon. But it might start taking a backseat to other sports, regardless of the Hockey Canada scandal. 

It’s expensive to participate in. It’s not like soccer, which only requires a ball and an empty lot. A warming climate will likely remove shinny and frozen ponds from the winters of many future Canadian childhoods. And we’re about to hit three decades without a Stanley Cup championship north of the 49th.

Not to mention, the sport remains predominately white in an increasingly diverse country.

I’ve been reflecting more and more on a comment I received in a Morning File this spring in which I briefly mentioned the mythological place the sport holds in our culture. It’s from gordohfx:

Hockey is hockey in Canada but the time is coming when the men’s national team in soccer (football) will be high in the Canadian zeitgeist.

They are on the verge of making the World Cup for the first time in 36 years with a lineup of definitely NOT “old stock” Canadians.

Take a look at a team photo of the 72 Summit Series team (or any present NHL team for that matter) and compare that to a team photo of the present national soccer team. Can you spot the difference?

The national teams (both men and women) represent a new, exciting and vibrant Canada.

Hockey Canada’s gross mishandling of fees and the contemptible cover-ups they allowed will only further alienate kids from the sport. This is the first time hockey has felt like its place as Canada’s preeminent sport is in jeopardy.

Horsburgh ends his editorial with some questions he says need to be answered in order for Hockey Canada to be held accountable and continue

  • What did the board members know, and when did they know it, regarding the National Equity Fund and the 2018 sexual assault and subsequent settlement?
  • Did the board members ask the right questions and if not, why not?
  • Do the board members have a sufficiently diverse set of skills to carry on the important task of Hockey Canada governance?

Ultimately Canadians want answers to some very challenging questions. It is not sufficient for a board, as has traditionally been the case, to be composed of people who have good intentions; people who can’t say no.

I hope the Cromwell review answers our questions and, in the process, helps to create a better future for hockey in Canada.

Or maybe we’ll just see fewer and fewer parents willing to pay money to an organization that doesn’t feel the need to disclose where it spends it.

There’s been a lot written about this scandal, but Horsburgh’s piece is worth a read.

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Government

City

Special Meeting – Board of Police Commissioners (Thursday, 11am, online) — agenda

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, online) — agenda

Province

No events


On campus

Saint Mary’s

Hamilton: In History & On Stage (Thursday, 7pm, online) — Shira Lurie will talk:

Join Halifax Public Libraries for a virtual conversation about Hamilton: An American Musical, history, and historical memory that will encourage you to think differently about the smash-hit stage phenomenon.


In the harbour

Halifax
06:45: Nieuw Statendam, cruise ship with up to 3,214 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from St. John’s, on a 24-day roundtrip cruise out of Boston and around Iceland
07:00: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
11:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
15:00: One Houston, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
15:00: USCGC Tybee, US Coast Guard cutter, sails from Tall Ships Quay for sea
15:00: NYK Nebula, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Caucedo, Dominican Republic
15:30: Zaandam sails for Bar Harbor
16:00: Oceanex Sanderling back to Pier 41
16:30: Nieuw Statendam sails for Boston
22:00: CMA CGM Alexander Von Humboldt, container ship (176,546 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Cape Breton
06:30: MM Newfoundland, barge, and Lois M, tug, arrive at Sydport from Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone, Magdalen Islands)
13:30: CSL Kajika, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Sydney


Footnotes

  • The main thing I remember from the 2006 JUNOS in Halifax is Pamela Anderson getting booed for making jokes that attacked seal hunting. That sounds like a parody of Canadian culture, but it actually happened.
  • Charlotte Cardin won best artist and best album this year. A hipper choice than I would have expected. Credit where credit’s due, JUNOS.

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Ethan Lycan-Lang

Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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  1. Pamela Anderson was a fucking embarrassment. I distinctly remember she appeared only three times during the entire telecast – Buck 65 did most of the hosting.

    Also, as I recall, as soon as she stepped out of the limo and onto the red carpet – and kissed Ben Mulroney, causing him to throw up his hands – she immediately pulled out a petition to stop the seal hunt and started encouraging people to sign it.

    I also recall her making some crack about Ron Sexsmith – cut to Ron himself in the audience and he did NOT look happy! But also – did she even know who he was?

  2. Re: Priced Out Resource List

    Hope Cottage is currently only giving out one meal a day (Monday to Friday) between 12 noon and 1.

    I didn’t see Margaret’s House, 43 Wentworth Street, Dartmouth on the list. Margaret’s House gives out meals Monday to Friday between 11:30 and 12:30.

    I tired to go to the link for missing resources and got an error message, but I know Iris will see this comment and fix things because she is Iris the Amazing. 🙂

  3. There is not a police force anywhere that doesn’t say they are under funded so why be surprised by the RCMP trying to leverage more resources by crying poor? As far as I can see from all the MCC proceedings so far, at no point was scarcity of funding or availability of resources brought up as a contributing factor. What was clear that poor to nonexistent communications both within the RCMP and with external partners was a huge factor and something which has not been directly addressed.

  4. I agree with your general comments re: JUNO relevance, your preference for the ECMA showcases in smaller venues, and the recent comment re: the Polaris Prize shortlist.

    As a grad of the 2005-06 BJ program at King’s, however, I feel it’s worth noting that a (tiny) side bonus of the JUNOs coming to Halifax is that tons of locals with broadcasting / programming / editing experience can get a week or so of good-paying work. I’d already started a job elsewhere so I couldn’t take advantage, but the bulk of my classmates financially benefited, in the short term, at least, from the 2006 awards. Hey, a month’s rent is a month’s rent!

  5. The Polaris Music Prize is a much better showcase of Canadian music than the JUNOs. I highly recommend checking out the shortlist (and if you have time, the long list) albums that are nominated every year. It highlights great albums across genres and is a great way to keep up with new Canadian music.

  6. “I’m not a professional musician or industry expert, but I took piano lessons as a kid and my car has a radio, so here’s my two cents.”

    It doesn’t get any better than that. ????????