1. Ship of Theseus

David Darrow, the deputy minister overseeing the Bluenose restoration, testified before the legislature’s Public Accounts committee yesterday. Darrow said the project should’ve been placed under the control of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, and not under the Department of Culture and Heritage.

I watched most of the hearing, and couldn’t help but notice how tepid the questioners were. In fact Darrow, the witness, was more forthcoming than the politicians questioning him. The NDP wears much of the blame for the failed project—it started under their watch—but what explains the PCs’ inability to ask tough questions?

2. Publication ban

Freelance reporter Ryan Van Horne wrote a blog post this week naming the girl who had photos of her spread around her high school via social media. The post purposefully violated a publication ban on the girl’s name, as Van Horne says the ban further victimizes the girl, who went on to commit suicide. The girl’s father has also published her name, both on his own blog and dozens of times on social media, and both her father and her mother object to the ban.

Police confirmed yesterday that they are investigating a possible breach of a publication ban. “[The investigation has] been brought by a number of complaints,” police spokesperson Pierre Bourdages told the Chronicle Herald.

I find this interesting because in the Peter Kelly–Mary Thibeault matter, police repeatedly said they couldn’t investigate unless they got a complaint from a person with standing in the matter. Who has standing in the child porn case? The girl is dead. Her family hasn’t complained about Van Horne. The court? The same court that didn’t ask the police to investigate Peter Kelly’s failure to abide by court orders related to the Thibeault estate?

The foundation of our justice system is consistency. If the police have a rule against investigating unless a person with standing complains, then that rule should be applied across the board. If the courts want police to investigate breaches of court orders, then the courts should ask the police to investigate all breaches of court orders.

3. The stadium dream

Most of the photos on the website promoting Moncton's involvement in the FIFA women's world cup are carefully cropped so as to avoid showing the many empty seats in the stadium. This one slipped through. Photo:  http://moncton.fwwc2015.ca
Most of the photos on the website promoting Moncton’s involvement in the FIFA women’s world cup are carefully cropped so as to avoid showing the many empty seats in the stadium. This one slipped through. Photo: http://moncton.fwwc2015.ca

Yesterday, the Examiner published an article by reporter Karen Rawlines looking at the big economic impact projections promised for the FIFA Women’s World Cup events held in Moncton, and comparing those rosy projections to the tiny number of spectators who came out for the games. Was the expenditure of $4.3 million in public funds worth it? And what does this say about Halifax’s bid for a new stadium? The article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.

4. Broken door

Landlord complains because firefighters broke into his unit thinking they might save lives.


1. Everywhere a sign

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald notices signs.

2. Editorial firewall

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 7.16.12 AM

Marilla Stephenson bashes the former NDP government and its deals with the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union. Yea, whatever, but apparently the Chronicle Herald has rebuilt its editorial firewall, at least in this instance: Stephenson’s anti-NSGEU screed is framed by NSGEU ads.



Porters Lake Greenway Connector Open House (9:30pm, Lake & Shore Community Recreation, 40 Inspiration Dr, Porters Lake)—Yep, a city meeting starts at 9:30pm. It takes forever to drive out to Porters Lake, ya know. Deets here.


They’re back…

Sitting of the legislature (11am, Province House)

Speech from the throne (2pm, Province House)

The return of the legislature reminds me of Charles Dickens’ impression of Halifax, which he visited in 1842, a day after his ship ran aground when it tried to go around the wrong side of McNabs Island, and the day, like today, that the legislature opened. The passage below is often clipped to make it appear Dickens was making fun of Halifax, but if you read the whole thing, you see he was quite fond of the town. It speaks well of him, and of Halifax:

Charles Dickens

I suppose this Halifax would have appeared an Elysium, though it had been a curiosity of ugly dullness. But I carried away with me a most pleasant impression of the town and its inhabitants, and have preserved it to this hour. Nor was it without regret that I came home, without having found an opportunity of returning thither, and once more shaking hands with the friends I made that day.

It happened to be the opening of the Legislative Council and General Assembly, at which ceremonial the forms observed on the commencement of a new Session of Parliament in England were so closely copied, and so gravely presented on a small scale, that it was like looking at Westminster through the wrong end of a telescope. The governor, as her Majesty’s representative, delivered what may be called the Speech from the Throne. He said what he had to say manfully and well. The military band outside the building struck up “God save the Queen” with great vigour before his Excellency had quite finished; the people shouted; the in’s rubbed their hands; the out’s shook their heads; the Government party said there never was such a good speech; the Opposition declared there never was such a bad one; the Speaker and members of the House of Assembly withdrew from the bar to say a great deal among themselves and do a little: and, in short, everything went on, and promised to go on, just as it does at home upon the like occasions.

The town is built on the side of a hill, the highest point being commanded by a strong fortress, not yet quite finished.  Several streets of good breadth and appearance extend from its summit to the water-side, and are intersected by cross streets running parallel with the river.  The houses are chiefly of wood. The market is abundantly supplied; and provisions are exceedingly cheap. The weather being unusually mild at that time for the season of the year, there was no sleighing: but there were plenty of those vehicles in yards and by-places, and some of them, from the gorgeous quality of their decorations, might have “gone on” without alteration as triumphal cars in a melodrama at Astley’s. The day was uncommonly fine; the air bracing and healthful; the whole aspect of the town cheerful, thriving, and industrious.

We lay there seven hours, to deliver and exchange the mails. At length, having collected all our bags and all our passengers (including two or three choice spirits, who, having indulged too freely in oysters and champagne, were found lying insensible on their backs in unfrequented streets), the engines were again put in motion, and we stood off for Boston.

On Campus


Thesis defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building)—PhD candidate Catherine Stevenson will defend her thesis, Electron Correlation Effects on Relaxation and Decoherence Times in a Quantum Dot.”

Oysters (4pm, Theatre D, CRC Building)—José Fernández-Robledo,  a research scientist at the Bigelow Lab For Ocean Sciences in Maine, will talk on “’Dermo’ Disease: The Story of an Oyster Parasite with an Unexpected Twist.”


Free coffee??? Where do I sign up?

In the harbour

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


Ernest Hemingway, container ship, New York to Pier 42
Berlin Express, container ship, NewYork to Pier 42
Maasdam, cruise ship, Sydney to Pier 20
Carnival Splendor, cruise ship, Saint John to Pier 31
Conti Guinea, oil/chemical tanker, New Orleans to Imperial Oil


Maasdam to Bar Harbor
Ernest Hemingway to Kingston, Jamaica
Royal Princess to New York
Carnival Splendor to New York


Depending on how the morning goes, I may head off to the legislature.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. “1. The ban is on all names, isn’t it? So it includes the (underage) perpetrators? Isn’t that who might have standing?”

    -I agree.

  2. The way I see it the government’s work has to be done. If you don’t want the programs that’s cool but otherwise….

    Outsource or in house staff? Outsourcing is the short term solution for politicians and bureaucrats who are ideologically opposed to “BIG GOVERNMENT” and who want to have the appearance of doing something to “solve” the problem.

    Anyone who has seen private sector in the public sector knows that private sector entities will do the least amount of work for the biggest buck. It’s the nature of the game and the nature of the beast.

    Also the people who actually do the work in the private sector get paid much less, have less benefits and no job security. I’m sure the lion’s share goes to our captains of industry to keep them in the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to.

    I wonder how much went to the Irving family from provincial largesse in the shipbuilding boondoggle (or was that a federal make work project financed by taxpayers)?

  3. 1. The ban is on all names, isn’t it? So it includes the (underage) perpetrators? Isn’t that who might have standing?

    2. The Herald site with the NSGEU Ads around Marilla’s column. AHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!!

    3. David Darrow is referring, albeit obliquely, to what I term to be a cancerous practice in Provincial Government that is often referred to as “siloing”.

    Back in the Savage and then Hamm government days, those medical doctors forced a system on Government Departments that set up the Government Services Department as the “doer”, the Department that acted on the will of government to build new projects like hospitals, schools, and purchased supplies like pencils and erasers. Other departments were treated as “clients” of Government Services, and maintained technical expertise in their particular mandate.

    For example, Education was the source of expertise in curriculum, class size, school programming, teacher standards, and, in a cooperative manner with architects at Government Services (Now Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal) things like classroom size, gymnasium and sports field and play area standards, and so on. Other Departments like Justice, Health, and Tourism and Culture function in similar manners, with specific expertise in courthouses, correctional facilities, hospitals, tourist attractions, etc. But it was left to the “doer” department to know how to get things designed, hire architects and engineers, tender out projects for construction, establish budgets and manage the projects through to completion in some attempt to stay within those budgets.

    Over time, this organized system of expertise and responsibility between the consultant/doer department and the client departments, got blurred as people who worked in NSTIR won internal jobs competitions in the client departments. Many of these people, who had been doing the project and design management work, or some of it, while in TIR, could not accept that their old job, which had them responsible for spending our tax dollars, could be done by someone else. They all have since worked to build up their own little design and project management groups in their own departments. This naturally resulted in both a dilution of expertise, a misdirection of expertise, an inconsistency in purchasing policy, and, especially in the larger projects, a dearth of expertise in large scale project management. This meant those Departments sometimes hired outside Project Managers, as was the case with the Bluenose III, when, conceivably, that role could have been played by NSTIR, which seems to have been inferred by Mr. Darrow (he would have been the Deputy Minister of that Department at the time, or shortly before, and would understand that).

    Darrow cited the Colchester Regional Hospital, a project done outside of NSTIR that cost a lot more than a Bluenose or two. The project was developed, sited, designed, tendered, and built under oversight not from or by the assigned experts in NSTIR, but by staff within Health and consultants hired by them, who probably still believe they were better suited to do it than the institutionalized, controlled group of people at NSTIR who play that same role every day, not just for a very large project every now and then.

    Not all, and maybe even very few, Government projects end up under their original budget, but it would be interesting to follow up on just how well these “silos” of small teams in these “client Departments”, and also in the school and hospital boards, do in comparison to those projects run by the Department that supposedly has the mandate and the staff to do it right.

    In the end, this is all about a warped desire to be the person who gets to have our tax dollars to play with at their discretion. And no matter how well meaning, or responsible they are as individuals, and how much they argue that they should be the ones with their hands on the purse strings, the best way to avoid waste, corruption, and inconsistency in tendering and purchasing is to have that all done under one ministry which is well versed as a generalist consultant and service provider to the other departments, who each hold policy expertise in their area of responsibility.

    1. I don’t think the accused have standing at all, no. We’ve all known the name of the girl for over a year, and through all this the names of the accused have been protected. Hell, I don’t know them, and I usually know all sorts of things I can’t print. I’d like to see the argument from the accused: “well, you see your honour, last year everyone knew her name, and everyone still knows her name, but if her name shows up in the newspaper, everyone will magically know my name.” That’s a big stretch.

    1. In the Howe case, there’s an actual victim who can be further harmed, tho. Not so much in the child porn case.

      But my point wasn’t so much about the publication bans themselves (arguments for and against them have merit), but rather about how police investigate in some instances, but not in others.

      1. How much of the ‘enforcement’ of the ban by HRP is a result of their utter incompetence in handling the case originally? Are they just deflecting? I’m likely just letting my anti-police bias show, admittedly.

  4. Re: Marilla Stephenson, and the number of government employees, both in Nova Scotia and other provinces. I am always suspicious of public sector employee counts. All three levels of government employ temporary workers, who do not show up on payrolls, and contract out services. This creates the illusion of a smaller civil service. There are many people technically working in the private sector, but performing government work, and for lower wages than government employees. Nova Scotia’s relatively high rate of government employees may simply mean other provinces do more outsourcing. And while outsourcing looks good on paper, the social costs of converting high paying jobs to low paying jobs should not be overlooked.

    1. Good point! I also wonder about the number being inflated due to Halifax hospitals offering more complex services to all of the Maritimes. Even if we are compensated by their governments, our employee to resident ratio would be artificially high due to additional services offered here for other provinces.

      We also have a higher than average senior to you youth ratio than many other provinces, meaning we will need to offer more health services on average. Any discussion of an average civil servant to resident ratio being the standard, ignores the fact that different provinces will naturally have different needs based on demographics. We have more elderly, and need an appropriate number of civil servants to help them.

  5. Just FYI, the Avalon Centre (a very worthy organization) has been posting info related to the person who shall not be named, with name, on Facebook, including info about the trial. I can’t help but wonder what the point of this ban is, when as you point out, the rules are applied so inconsistently. On the other hand, I feel the name of this poor individual has been spread so widely as to be inappropriate, when there are so many others suffering similar abuses. It runs the risk of making this look like a singular event, rather than an unfortunately common one. Better to emphasize the ongoing, perpetual incidence of abuse to women and men and try to find a solution!

    1. Good point. Similar to all the attention paid to recent abuses of women and children by NFL celebrities. It brings attention to the problem, but also makes abuse seem less of a sadly common problem.