1. Nova Star, pt. 1

This weekend the Yarmouth Vanguard published a very good piece by reporter Carla Allen. Allen interviewed Jeanna Kernazitskas, a lab tech from North Carolina travelling as a passenger on the Nova Star, who was one of the first people on the scene when a crewmember collapsed with a medical emergency. The crewmember subsequently died. The story does not reveal a well-run ship:

Nova Star

[Kernazitskas] arrived on the scene to see someone administering CPR to the patient, who was off-duty when he collapsed. The crewmember did not have a pulse.

A nurse arrived after her and they worked at trying to provide oxygen from a small tank with a mask. When more medically trained passengers arrived, Kernazitskas said she ran back up to the medical room on another deck in search of an ambu bag, a hand-held device commonly used to provide positive pressure ventilation to patients who are not breathing or not breathing adequately. She said she couldn’t find supplies on the deck they were on.

She found three defibrillators, which she says performed poorly.

“This is stuff that should be tested on a weekly basis to make sure it’s in working order,” she said, adding a request was made several times over the PA system to see if any passengers had a defibrillator in their vehicle.


“We tried to do an IV for a saline drip to get meds into him faster,” she said, but they didn’t have the IV tubing they needed. She says a medicine cabinet was eventually smashed opened because they couldn’t get into it with the right key. Kernazitskas says she was surprised by what was and wasn’t available in the cabinet.

Allen goes on to report that the crewmember’s death is being investigated by the Maine Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

2. Nova Star, pt. 2

I can’t find it on the internet this morning, but an insistent Twitterer, er, insists that CBC radio is reporting that the Nova Star employs only Americans to work the boat, and no Canadians. You’d think that the provincial government ponying up $26 million would’ve thought about requiring some local employment.

3. Mayhem

It was a particularly busy weekend for the cops, who had to respond to a kid getting shot in the hand in Dartmouth; a “forcible confinement” and assault, also in Dartmouth; a distressed man holding a knife to his own throat, again, in Dartmouth; a woman robbed at knifepoint at the Prince George Hotel in downtown Halifax; “a 35-year-old man suffering from multiple slash wounds to his head and back,” back in Dartmouth; and three people invading the, yep, Dartmouth home of a 21-year-old woman and robbing her at knifepoint. You can find all the details of these incidents in the police press releases, or you can find the words slightly rearranged in various media re-reporting of the press releases, your choice.

4. Wild Kingdom

A team of scientists from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography has returned from Victoria Island, where they were mapping and cataloguing environmental conditions in many of the island’s lakes. In the process, they caught some huge fish. “The biggest lake trout we caught was 1.2 metres and weighed about 35 pounds [16 kilograms],” scientist Steve Campana told the CBC. The data is being used to set baseline conditions so that the Nunavut government can construct a conservation plan. Said Campana:

What we are trying to do in this project is to essentially put something in place so that all of these hundreds of thousands of lakes that are unfished right now, once the fishing starts up, they don’t get over fished. We want to actually have the conservation plan in place before the damage is done unlike what is done with the vast majority of fisheries around the world.

Good luck, but as climate change accelerates I fear the Arctic archipelago opening up to tourism on a massive scale, with every yahoo American with a rod and reel trekking north to catch those giant trout, and within a few years the place will be nothing but empty beer bottles and Burger King wrappers.

Chumlee the pug lives in Hilden. Faune Creaser and Alex Astbury rescued Bob, a terrier mix, from the swamps of Florida.


1. Vuic

The Mooseheads blew it, PR-wise, with the arrest of player Brandon Vuic, says Stephen Kimber.

2. Catholic Church rejects gays, again

Dan Leger is disappointed that a group of men wearing dresses couldn’t find the decency to accept gays as worthy people.

3. Wrong province

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 6.54.03 AM

David Robinson, a travel writer for The Scotsman newspaper, travelled to Nova Scotia and wrote up the predictable “they’re just like Scotland!” gusher. Locals will be happy to learn that the first thing Robinson noticed is his travelling companion could walk out into the middle of the street and the trucks, er, lorries, would stop for him. “Halifax, Nova Scotia. Where lorries are petrified of people,” wrote Robinson. “It’s the only city I’ve been in where lorry drivers have perfect manners and stop for pedestrians at all times.” The Scotsman helpfully illustrated the column about Nova Scotia with a nice photo of Hopewell Rocks, in New Brunswick.

4. Port Hawkesbury mill

I missed this Saturday, but Rachel Brighton discussed the improved profitability of Port Hawkesbury Paper. Brighton’s point is that with more money coming in, it’s time for the UARB to revisit the power rate subsidies given the company. And that’s a good argument, but I’d like to address something Brighton discusses, but kind of walks around: the effect of provincial subsidies to the mill.

As the Globe & Mail reported earlier this month, a US congressman has initiated an inquiry, saying the $124 million in government subsidies to Port Hawkesbury Paper amount to unfair trade policies by the province, and possibly a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Brighton gives the specific fall-out from the anti-competitive subsidies: the Resolute Forest Products mill in Shawinigan, Quebec and the Verso Paper mill in Bucksport, Maine are closing, and the FutureMark Alsip mill in Illinois is being “idled.” The closing of those mills reduces the supply of paper, allowing Port Hawkesbury (and Irving in New Brunswick) to increase prices.

If there is a NAFTA ruling against Nova Scotia, there goes $124 million for naught. The even-sadder possibility, however, is that there isn’t a NAFTA ruling against Nova Scotia, and the provincial subsidies are ruled allowable. What happens then? Likely, just like the race to bottom with payroll rebates and other subsidies for companies to relocate, we’ll see a rush of governments subsidizing their local paper mill in order to compete with Nova Scotia’s, and then we’re right back in the position we were in three years ago, with a paper mill not being able to compete in the North American market. Except then, subsidies will be the norm.

I can’t see how the tiny and debt-ridden Nova Scotian government can compete with the likes of Quebec and American state governments, unless the expectation is that those governments simply won’t, on principle, subsidize corporations. That’s a very colonial mindset.



Accessibility Advisory Committee (4pm, City Hall)—the committee will be looking at potential sites for a new accessible dog park.

Northwest Community Council (7pm, Acadia Hall, 650 Sackville Drive)—United Gulf wants to rezone 7.5 acres at Voyageur Way and Hammonds Plains Road from Mixed Use to Commercial, and staff says it’s OK by them. This is a public hearing, so if you don’t like the idea—or if you do, I guess—go have your say. Staff also says 98 more residential units on the Bedford Highway won’t present any traffic problems.


Legislature sits (7pm–10pm, Province House)

On campus



Health Services in Britain (Monday, noon, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building)—the European Union Centre of Excellence is hosting Alan Trench, who will talk on “The UK’s four national health services after devolution: Divergence without structure.”

Computer Science (Monday, 7:15pm, CIBC Auditorium, Goldberg Computer Science Building)—Yoshua Bengio, from the Universite de Montreal, will be hosting Deep Learning: The Path to Artificial Intelligence’


The Maritimes Birth of “Creation Science” (Tuesday, 7:30pm, Alumni Hall, King’s College)—the abstract for this event explains:

George McCready Price
George McCready Price

Despite Charles Darwin’s announced effort to overthrow “the dogma of separate creations,” organized opposition to his revolution did not appear until the early twentieth century and, even then, most antievolutionists accepted the antiquity of life on Earth. At the time only a small minority, led by the Maritimes school teacher George McCready Price, insisted on the recent appearance of life and attributed the fossil record to Noah’s flood. This lecture focuses on the growing dominance of Price’s “flood geology” (renamed “scientific creationism” or “creation science” about 1970), which in the last quarter of the twentieth century emerged as the dominant form of antievolutionism around the world.

George McCready Price was from New Brunswick, which explains a lot, and he became a Seventh Day Adventist, which explains the rest.


The city is embarking on a transportation study in the Dartmouth Cove area, outlined in this map:

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 8.03.46 AM

You can find the details here.

In the harbour

At 6am Friday morning, the Explorer of the Seas (dark blue) and its disgruntled passengers are approaching Herring Cove. The light blue boat attached to it is the Chebucto Pilot boat. To the east, also light blue, is the Coriolus II, a research vessel not coming to port. To the east of that, in dark blue, is the Eurodam, with presumably happy passengers.
At 6am Friday morning, the Explorer of the Seas (dark blue) and its disgruntled passengers are approaching Herring Cove. The light blue boat attached to it is the Chebucto Pilot boat. To the east, also light blue, is the Coriolus II, a research vessel not coming to port. To the east of that, in dark blue, is the Eurodam, with its presumably happy passengers. Map:

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)

Eurodam, cruise ship, Sydney to Pier 20, then sails for Portland
Explorer of the Seas, cruise ship, New York to Pier 22, then sails for Saint John
Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro, New York to Fairview Cove West

Explorer of the Seas was en route for Bermuda, but Bermudan officials asked Royal Caribbean to not stop at the island as the nation recovers from Hurrican Gonzolo. Friday, the cruise line announced it was diverting the ship to Halifax today and Saint John tomorrow. Judging from the comments on that announcement, the passengers are barely literate and really don’t like the idea of coming to Halifax (all comments unedited):

Ridiculous, Royal carribean going to Canada we paid for a Warm weather
Cruise not a cold Wet and stormy weather port because the storm is 
heading north and will hit halifax just when we get there…all the idiots in charge had to do was, sail into KEY WEST KEY LARGO somewhere else thats south and 80  degrees F not 50 degrees F oh and by the way ,, the sametrip to bermuda in may2015 same cabin same everything is $500 cheaper imagine that not in hurrican season cheaper,,

We paid to go on a cruise to a warm location, not a colder location than we live now. Why not take us some place warm, Carolina’s etc. (not to far away.) I understand they have no control of the weather, they could have found a warmer place. We paid to go to a warm location, now I am packing sweaters and jackets (first I had to unpack all my summer clothes.) Very DISAPPOINTED in the way Royal Carribean handled this POORLY!

We were scheduled to go to Bermuda and we declined to take the Halifax itinerary. This is not a comparable cruise experience the terminology because the customer people kept using when we talked to three or four of them last night trying to get them to allow us to use our payment to rebook on the Bermuda cruise. I have no confidence in RoyAl Caribbean anymore. It iwas a blatant disregard of passenger safety to not notify us until close to 8 o’clock last night (after they told us at 4 we were going) because prevented passengers from packing warm clothing and proper footwear for travel to acclimate that was 20 to 30° colder than the itinerary. I believe that they did not notify us until late in the evening because they did not want complaints and they did not want cancellations. RCI chose the bottom line over the customers ability to travel in the safe and comfortable manner.

Welcome to Halifax, cruisers! Hope you packed your umbrellas!

PS. Umbrellas don’t work in Halifax.


The city is ordering 5,000 glow sticks, presumably for the Christmas Tree lighting at Grand Parade.

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

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  1. I took the ferry once and indeed the crew were mostly Filipino, with a few eastern European people too. They remain on board the vessel continuously with maybe 45 minutes ashore when moored.

    For all of the Nova Scotia tax dollars going into the ferry, perhaps the company could be compelled to provide Nova Scotian products on board in addition to Maine micro-brews. How about Nova Scotia-roasted coffee in the cafes? The ‘duty free’ gift shop on board is stocked with generic junk. A shop featuring products local to both ends of the route would be more interesting, and would provide a link to businesses travellers could support in their land-based travels.

  2. Thanks for the heads-up about the traffic study, now that I am practically a neighbour 🙂

    If I start to rant about the Yarmouth ferry, I won’t be able to stop, so I’m not going to start.

  3. Glad to see HRM is looking at traffic patterns in this area. As a recent resident of Hawthorne St, I have seen first-hand how it is used as a high-volume shortcut between Portland and Prince Albert, often at great speed and with disregard for marked crosswalks. The traffic is worst in morning rush hour, but persists throughout the day and on weekends. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood itself is populated by a great many folks (like myself) who moved there because of its walkability and proximity to frequent transit.

    In my opinion, it’s a perfect opportunity for a traffic calming experiment, especially given the elementary school at the corner of Hawthorne and Portland.

  4. Re. Port Hawkesbury mill
    The link to the Globe & Mail leads to a 2012 story when Ron Kirk started an inquiry under the North American free-trade agreement to determine whether the Nova Scotia government offered improper subsidies to a Cape Breton paper mill.

  5. Both guests overseeing the question about whether or not the ferry is worth the multimillion dollar cost were people with an axe to grind; Nova Star Cruises CEO Mark Amundsen and Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood. I guess the CBC didn’t see the need for balance.

    The callers were far and away in favour of the runaway project and given lots of time to weigh in. One of the few dissenters was hurried off the line but not before he asked Amundsen directly how many Nova Scotians were employed on the ferry. Amundsens”s answer: “Zero.”

    Why is our government doing business with this company?

  6. Re: Nova Star, pt. 2

    The comment was made by the operator/owner during CBC Radio One’s program Maritime Connection, hosted by Preston Mulligan. I can’t remember the man’s name. The show aired from 4 to 5 and the statement was near the end of the program. In response to a direct question from a caller asking how many Nova Scotians worked on the boat. The answer was “none” although he went on to claim that about forty Nova Scotians are employed on shore in Yarmouth. He did not say that the crew were Americans. He said they were international from around the world, and I believe he specifically mentioned Europe and the Phillippines. He said that a Nova Scotian crew would cost four times as much as the international one, but didn’t explain why or say how much he pays his current crew.

  7. On Preston Mulligan’s phone-in show Sunday afternoon (Maritime Connection), Mark Amundsen (the president of Nova Star Cruises) confirmed there are no Nova Scotians working on the ferry. According to him, it would cost “four times as much” to hire Nova Scotians; they source their crew the same as the cruise lines do, from all over the world (including the Phillipines).

    This begs the question, if hiring Nova Scotians would cost four times as much, what kind of wages are being paid to the employees (less than minimum wage in any North American jurisdiction?) and what benefits (if any) do they accrue?

    You can listen to the broadcast here: Lots of regional boosterism, of course, and a couple of curmudgeons.

  8. The people working on the Nova star are from the Philipinnes. One of them told a friend last week that he had not been off the ship since July 5th.