November Subscription Drive

John Wesley Chisholm
John Wesley Chisholm

John Wesley Chisholm writes:

I tell myself to calm down, to take less interest in things, to not get so excited and to mind my own business. But the journalists won’t let me and my conscience won’t release me from the problems of the day.

It’s often said that journalism, the fourth estate, is a cornerstone of good government. I think it’s deeper, older and more important than that. Journalists are story tellers. People are pattern seeking machines. That’s what our brains do — we can’t help it. Finding patterns makes us smart, in the sense that we are smart. Since our earliest societies one of our favourite patterns is the story. Stories help us make sense of the world, our relationships, and our inner thoughts. But life is not a story. Life is just a bunch of stuff that happens. Journalists shape life into our story, a story shared by all. Without these stories society could not exist.

In Nova Scotia’s earliest days journalists like Joseph Howe acted as mediators — translators between regular citizens and policy making elites. This is our radical history that made us great. In those days there really wasn’t much to government. Tariffs and duties on trade paid for the infrastructure of wharves and roads that made that trade possible. Law and order was the business of the crown. In Howe’s time the conversation had just begun about the value of public education for all. But even then good citizenship required being informed and having people with the courage to speak out on opinions.

Today in Nova Scotia there is more and more government, more elites making policy and decisions, and more public costs than ever before. Arguably everything is political today. Hardly any aspect of our lives is not touched, taxed, goaded, wrecked, or circumscribed by government, near-monopolies and near government agencies.

Journalism sounds like a fancy word today as most of our media is simply in the business of amusement — selling cars, mortgages, condos, and all the stuff we can own. But there’s more…

Journalism is a voice for the voiceless, a watchdog for society, a navigator for our future, and a strong bridge between regular citizens and authority. Journalists are moderators, agenda-setters, investigators, and activists. They are keepers of the public record, recording our story, promoting democracy and encouraging conversation.

Journalists aren’t always popular. Their task is to beard power with boorish expressions of doubt. They seek the truth and put constant pressure on leaders to get answers. They are a mirror that reflects back on society our greatest faults and foibles. They ask us to do more and better, to think more, to learn, to act.

Today we live in the information age. But it’s also the misinformation age. Lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and contempt for the truth is the reality of most people’s lives. Through a failed education system most of us lack any basic critical method to decide who and what to believe and to what degree. It’s leading to disaster. In the face of this storm the rising generation doesn’t become gullible or simple. They become cynical, unbelieving, lost, disconnected people. It’s our last great hope that journalists can reconnect the public with that which we’ve lost. That’s how important journalism is. Our very future depends on it. No other system or institution exists to save the day. That’s why I support THE HALIFAX EXAMINER.

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1. Another shooting death

A police release from late last night:

At 11:07 p.m. on Monday, November 14, Halifax Regional Police received several reports of shots fired on Cragg Avenue in Halifax. Officers responded to the area and found a man, who had been shot, suffering from life-threatening injuries outside of a residence. EHS transported the man to the QEII Health Sciences Centre where he succumbed to his injuries. There is no suspect information available at this time. 

Cragg Avenue is in Uniacke Square. This is the 11th apparent homicide this calendar year, and the third shooting in three days. There’s no information at this time to connect last night’s shooting to any of the previous shootings.

2. Court fight

Carvel Clayton is rushed from the courtroom at Halifax provincial court after he was attacked following a court appearance on Monday. Photo: Ryan Taplin/ Local Xpress
Carvel Clayton is rushed from the courtroom at Halifax provincial court after he was attacked following a court appearance on Monday. Photo: Ryan Taplin/ Local Xpress

“There was a brawl in a Halifax courtroom Monday after several young men rushed at accused murderer Carvel Antonio Clayton as he was being led away by sheriff’s deputies,” reports Steve Bruce for Local Xpress:

“Get him!” someone shouted before supporters of victim Shakur Jefferies tried to lunge past a sheriff’s deputy who was between them and the doorway.

Other men jumped over the benches in the public gallery in an attempt to attack Clayton or his family members.

Sheriff’s deputies and police officers flooded into the courtroom and restored order within a couple of minutes.

Nobody appeared to be seriously injured in the melee, which left some people, including at least one of the aggressors, in tears.

3. Herald strike hitting arts organizations hard


I wrote yesterday:

The newsroom strike at the Chronicle Herald, now in its tenth month, is hitting arts organizations in the pocketbook.

“We’ve seen our [audience] numbers drop by half,” said Pamela Halstead, a director at the Valley Summer Theatre in Wolfville. “We’ve lost tens of thousands of dollars.”


Valley Summer Theatre has taken a principled stand to boycott the Chronicle Herald, which means refusing to grant the paper interviews or photo ops, and refusing to advertise in it. But even those arts organizations that aren’t boycotting the paper are suffering, said Peggy Walt, a long-time arts promoter who is now working with the Canadian Music Centre.


The problem now faced by arts organizations is that the scab writers have neither the experience, knowledge, or reputation to write quality reviews or attract widespread attention, and that translates directly to a loss of audience.

“Without a great quotable review, it’s harder to attract an audience” through promotional material, said Walt.

Moreover, arts organizations use press clips in grant applications, but the scab-written pieces aren’t of a quality that attract attention from granters.

“Well-written, well-researched arts reporting is a necessary part of a successful arts scene,” said Walt. “And that’s missing.”

Click here to read the entire article.

4. Food trucks and carts

The city this morning opened the application process for food trucks and food and merchandise carts that want to operate on city property. The base charge for a food truck is $917 for a year or $4,575 for five years, but then vendors must bid for particular sites. The base charge for carts (which use sidewalk space) is $230 for a year or $1,150 for five years, again with competitive bids for particular sites.

The sites available are as follows:

Food trucks
• Spring Garden Road, North Side, 32 metres West of Grafton Street
• Spring Garden Road, North Side, 32.5 metres East of Brunswick Street
• Argyle Street, East Side, 20 metres North of Carmichael Street
• Wright Avenue, North Side, 105 metres West of Joseph Zatzman Drive
• Purdys Lane, North side of the north loop of the crescent, 27 metres East of Upper Water Street
• Waterfront Drive, East side, 35 metres North of driveway to Park Parking Lot (I think this is outside DeWolf Park in Bedford)
• Dingle Road, in the Sir Sanford Fleming Park Parking Lot

Food or merchandise carts
• Grafton Street, East Side, 71 metres North of Spring Garden Road – Non-Food Merchandise Only
• Grafton Street, West Side, 56.5 metres North of Spring Garden Road
• Grafton Street, East Side, 58 metres North of Spring Garden Road — Non-Food Merchandise Only
• South Park Street, West Side, 96 metres South of Spring Garden Road
• Argyle Street, East Side, 30 metres South of Spring Garden Road
• Argyle Street, East Side, 60 metres south of Carmichael Street
• George Street, South Side, 80 metres East of Lower Water Street (Chebucto Landing)
• University Avenue, South Side, 43 metres West of Seymour Street
• On the Halifax North Common, Cunard Street, South Side, 48 metres East of Princess Place

There doesn’t seem to be much thought put into the locations. I would add potential sites in the Point Pleasant Park parking lots and the opportunity for coffee kiosks at the various transit terminals.


1. Incinerators


“Premier Stephen McNeil’s cabinet has stealthily changed the environmental assessment regulations to make it easier to build a waste-to-energy incinerator, a.k.a. burning garbage to generate energy,” writes Bill Turpin:

Anyone opposed to one of these projects now has less time to react. Proponents of them–now designated for Class 1 environmental assessment, down from Class 2–have to post notice in a local and provincial newspaper within seven days of registering it with Nova Scotia Environment. The public has 30 days to comment after the registration, leaving 23 days if the proponent waits the full seven to publish the notice. That is not enough time to respond to what will inevitably be a complex proposal. In gov-speak, this falls under the heading of “(reducing) unnecessary regulatory burden.”


Just understanding the process set out in the revised regulations will take you a couple of days and you’ll probably need a lawyer.

And if you fail to spot the official notice of the project in the Bupkis News-Scimitar, well, good luck to you.


Which makes T-Labs cynical about the way this change was announced: On September 13, NSE sent a letter (below) to “stakeholders” explaining the change. If stakeholders included Nova Scotia media, the government forgot to tell them — there was no media release. Consequently, a Google search turns up only coverage from two trade publications, both of which follow regulatory changes closely by, we imagine, subscribing to the Nova Scotia Royal Gazette (which, if you’re wondering, has neither comics nor crossword).

You can also find the regulation change in Cabinet’s official Order-in-Council 2016-224, which is a public document known mostly to insiders. In the OIC, you’ll find references to a “Report and Recommendation,” which is even more of an insider document. It is typically a tedious read, but it does contain actual information. As of this writing, Cabinet support staff were unable to help Turpin Labs obtain a copy before Tuesday.

I don’t have any insight or opinion into the incineration issue, except to note that the IPCC has issued a paper on greenhouse gas emissions from waste incineration.



Halifax & West Community Council (6pm, City Hall) — there are a couple of issues of note.

The first is a public hearing on Michael Napier Architecture’s proposal to amend the approval it received for a seven-storey, 56-unit apartment building at the southeast corner of Isleville Street and Bilby Street. The amendment would add 15 units to the complex, and make other changes.

This area used to be semi-industrial with car lots and small retail spaces, but the last few years has seen a lot of crappy seven- to 10-storey apartment buildings constructed. With the change in the neighbourhood, however, there doesn’t seem to have been any thought given to the broader streetscape or adding or widening pedestrian corridors or adding bike lanes.

The second is Mythos Development’s application for a development on the northeast corner of North and Oxford Streets. Currently, there is a 44-unit apartment building (the former St. Theresa Convent), a three-unit apartment building, and a house on the site, and the plan is tear all that down and build a seven-storey, 81-unit apartment building.

The proposal is not at all allowable under the land-use rules for the neighbourhood, which were adopted in 1983. The land-use rules grandfathered in the old convent, but said any future building could not be more than four units. But hey, land-use rules have never been an obstacle before, right?

Tell me again how the Centre Plan is going to resolve these issues, because simple observation is that whenever developers want a change in the rules, they get it. I can’t possibly see how the Centre Plan will change that reality, but go ahead and have a lot of fun with it, eh?

Anyway, the obligatory surreal architectural rendering has see-through trees!


North West Community Council (7pm, Acadia Hall, Lower Sackville) — more development on the Bedford Highway that miraculously won’t add to traffic problems because, I dunno, my proposal for a gondola route above the highway will be implemented before the buildings are constructed?


No public meetings.

On campus


CRC Candidate Seminar (9am, 3H01, Tupper Building) — Reza Yousefi Nooraie, who is a post-doc from the University of Toronto, will speak on “A Social Network Analysis Perspective to Knowledge Translation Research.”

Digital Musical Instruments (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Joseph Malloch will speak about the design, development, and performance of digital musical instruments. His abstract:

Digital musical instruments (DMIs) are typically composed of an interface using some type of sensor technology, and real-time media synthesis algorithms running on a digital computer. The connections between various input signals from performer interaction and the parameters of synthesis must be artificially associated — this “mapping” of gesture to sound (or other media) largely defines the behaviour of the system. In this talk I will introduce the basic concepts surrounding DMI design, and discuss the challenges facing instrument designers, musicians, and composers wishing build interesting, robust instruments that can support believable and satisfying artistic creation. Examples of novel musical interfaces and software support tools will be drawn from my own work.

Transformative Infrastructure: A Local and Regional Perspective (12pm, Room 1020, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — The Liberals are about to toss out a bunch of money for connected people, and so everyone is trying to get a piece of the “infrastructure” gravy train, or at least in the case of Brendan Haley, trying to make sure the gravy train heads in the right direction. (Can we lose the “infrastructure” nonsense already and get back to good old “public works”?) Anyway, here’s the buzzwordy event listing:

Infrastructure spending has always been a force of change in our society. The TransCanada Highway and national rail connects Canadians from coast to coast; airports and seaports have made it possible to connect with people, goods and services around the world. New technologies offer similar promise: wireless technologies, high speed commuter trains and driverless cars, for example, will not just accommodate the recreational and professional needs of future communities, they will shape them. The federal government plans to more than double its infrastructure spending over the next ten years with the next round of funding targeting transformative infrastructure.

Opening remarks: Mayor Mike Savage


Sylvain Charlebois – Dean, Faculty of Management and Professor, Faculty of Management and Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University

Brendan Haley – Banting Post-Doctoral Fellow, School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University

George Kaulbeck – Global Director – Transportation, CPCS

Paul MacIsaac – Senior Vice-President, Halifax Port Authority

James McLean – Policy Lead, Public Policy Forum

Mary Brooks (Moderator) – Professor Emerita, Rowe School of Business, Dalhousie University

The discussion is “presented” by the MacEachen Institute, the Liberal slush fund thing. I know, I know… I’m supposed to look past that and think positive.

Anyway, you’re supposed to RSVP here, but I’m sure they’ll make room for you if you just show up.

Freedom of Information (6:30pm, Auditorium 1, McCain Building) — the event listing:

Join our panel for a debate on what is and is not working in Nova Scotia’s access to information regime. How does Nova Scotia’s access to information law measure up? Moderated by Fred Vallance-Jones of the University of King’s College, the discussion panel will include David MacKenzie of the NSGEU, Rachel Ward, CBC Reporter and Kevin Lacey, Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Our panelists will provide practical information based on their years of experience using access laws.

Saint Mary’s

“Planning the Good Community: Reconsidering the Way We Plan” (7pm, Theatre B, Burke Building) — Jill Grant will speak. Reception at 6:30.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:10am Tuesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:10am Tuesday. Map:

2:45am: St. Katharinen, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Port Arthur, Texas
6am: Atlantic Conveyor, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
4:30am: Theban, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea

5:30am: Helga, general cargo, arrives at Berth TBD from Antiago de Cuba


I need to disappear this morning so I can catch up on email. Especially that one thing.

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

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  1. I like John Wesley Chisholm’s piece. But I wish he had refrained from using the word “elite” which contributes to the debasing of a perfectly good word which means those who have greater ability than the average. Don’t we want to be led by people who are above average? The problem is the people we call elite in the context of development are not any better than the average. They have no special gifts other than the ability to turn all public discourse into concerns about money and buzzwords densification, jobs, etc. The powers that be lack imagination, they have little sense of history (i.e. the story of our community), appear in many cases to have little esthetic sensibility…. They are not elite. Let’s find a better word. And while we’re at it, let’s find something with less positive connotations than “develop” and “developer”. Something more neutral is needed.

    1. Thanks for the note Anhaga. In Joe Howe’s day elite, as a commonplace, actually described a class of people differentiated from the hoi palloi. I understand your argument well and your common sense approach to elitism. Clearly, I am using ‘elite’ in the sense of more emotional language and I take your admonishment.

      I wonder what words we could use that are accurate and cutting through the jargon and clutter but less emotional? Words often become a shorthand, returning to their roots as symbols as much as defined terms. And they get co-opted for nefarious purpose. I often use the term bureaucrat… but that’s now as loaded as any term, almost an open insult. Influencers? The well connected? Maybe simply The Powerful? These seem to suffer the same as elite.

      For a while now I’ve been saying Land Speculator rather than developer. It’s an old and accurate term to describe the ‘developer’ business. But again it’s shorthand for someone doing something bad.

      In my travels, especially in the east and less developed countries, I always find it interesting that the term “businessman” is about the nastiest thing you can say about someone. In the bible they say ‘money changers’ and we immediately get the sense that’s pejorative. The understanding is that business is by nature unseemly, awful and a place where someone always loses in order for another to win. In the west we soft pedal it. We’re all about giving the business.

      The developer, in my view, is at the heart of a system that converts unaccounted, undervalued, and underappreciated public wealth into private wealth of a few and in the process contributes more than almost anything else to the out-migration of capital and the inequality of society. In economics this is called ‘rent-seeking’.

      Maybe Rent-Seeker is the sufficiently obscure term to describe the sense of ‘elites’, ‘bureaucrats’, ‘developer’, ‘land speculator’ and ‘businessman’ that I’m looking for.


  2. The IPCC paper does a reasonable job of detailing some of the aspects of emissions from various EU waste to energy facilities; but it does not do a direct comparison with respect to the emissions that are release when similar quantities of waste materials are processed in a landfill. This paper, all on its own, is but one side of a multi-faced coin. Landfills create methane which is stated to be about 21 times more harmful than CO2 which is a production result from waste to energy facilities. A percentage of the methane created is often captured and used to fuel a waste to energy process. One needs to look at the whole process stream to determine the actual outcomes. Also, are all waste to energy facilities created equal or is this just looking at old technology incineration methods? Then there are anaerobic digestion facilities whose gas output is used as fuel to create energy, in essence another form of waste to energy production. How do today’s new technology waste to energy facilities compare? For this story to be compelling, a truly scientific comparative analysis of the various technologies and processes needs to be presented. Some organic waste materials are diverted to composting facilities which also result in emissions. The question needing to be answered is which technology or combination of technologies is actually best for the environment, both in emissions output and what happens to the residuals from the various processes… and then the almighty dollar must be considered, because what is best for the environment is not necessarily the most cost effective when considering the price per ton that must be expended in order to process a municipality’s waste materials. How much is the public willing to pay to do the right thing, eh?

  3. I agree with this idea, but, I have to point out that Vancouver developers are ripping down old houses in HUGE numbers.

  4. I HOPE the centre plan will be different than HRM by Design. I say this because 4 new councillors are on board and have been elected in no small part to do something about uncontrolled development.

    Also I agree with Chisolm on a few fronts except the failed education system. We expect FAR too much from an education system when all other institutions are in the toilet for the uncontrolled power of the free market, the increased subversion of the internet to commercial interests and the Kardashianization of our public discourse.

    That’s probably too much for a senior high social studies teacher to overcome.

    1. Hello gordofax,

      I think that the Centre plan should be on hold pending adoption of a process to prohibit demolition of our existing ‘potential heritage’ building stock; in other words, preserve Homes-not-Hondas by having a process before rubber-stamping a demolition permit.

      In Vancouver, there is a process whereby any pre-1940 building is not demolished without examination of its value. If Vancouver preserves their pre-1940 buildings, I am sure that by 2040 there will be more heritage in Vancouver than in Halifax.

      For example, HRM-by-Design recommended preserving all the housing stock around Dalhousie University, (which happens to be largely 1930s housing), but apparently none of the City’s planners were actually around when all the open-houses re HRM-by-Design were happening, so there is no ‘corporate memory’.

      This is a simple solution to promote the thoughtful development of our city.

  5. This is the item to watch at Halifax & West Community council :

    ” The applicant, W. M. Fares Group, is applying to amend the existing development agreement to permit the addition of two fascia signs on a commercial building at 3480 Joseph Howe Drive………This amendment application is the result of a land use compliance matter. A permit to install an illuminated sign on the fifth level of the building was refused in November, 2013 but the sign was nevertheless installed without a permit. During a recent site visit, staff identified a second unauthorised fascia sign ……………..Specifically, the existing agreement regulates fascia signs as follows:
    a) Signs cannot be located above the ground floor;
    b) Illuminated signage is permitted; and
    c) Fascia signs are limited to one per business premise and confined to a single defined area on the street facing façade. ”
    The staff recommends refusal of the request.