1. HST hit to Nova Scotia

Yesterday, I linked to Charlottetown Guardian reporter Teresa Wright’s bombshell that Atlantic provinces are being told to return “hundreds of millions” of dollars of miscalculated HST payments back to Ottawa. I wrote:

Wright doesn’t put a dollar figure on the amount Nova Scotia owes, but assuming that the miscalculation reflects population, based on PEI’s share of $30 million, Nova Scotia might have to pay back something like $200 million. To be clear: that’s a guess on my part. The actual amount Nova Scotia owes could be more or less.

But if the amount owed is on the order of $100 million or so, there goes any hope of a balanced budget for the McNeil government. Continues Wright:

This morning, the Canadian Press reports that Nova Scotia Finance Minister Randy Delorey says the amount this province owes “is less than $100 million”:

Delorey won’t say what the loss of revenue will mean for the province’s attempts to remain in the black.

In the December fiscal update, the province said it had a slim surplus of $12.1 million, although that figure was $5 million less than estimated in last April’s budget

“Less than $100 million” could be everything from a buck 49 for a medium coffee at Tims to more than the $60 million in “concessions” the government just offered to teachers.

For a government that gives exacting budget details on a quarterly basis — down to the tens of thousands of dollars in projections — shouldn’t we be expecting something more than “well, a hundred million dollars, give or take” from our Finance minister?

2. Holes in dikes

SMU geomorphologist Danika van Proosdij and Tony Bowron, president of CB Wetlands & Environmental Services, with a drone they use to map coastal areas. Photo: Chris Lambie

“Cutting holes in dikes to mitigate the effects of climate change might seem counterintuitive to some,” writes Chris Lambie:

But that’s exactly the type of measure Danika van Proosdij contemplates as she studies how to best restore salt marshes. Nova Scotia has lost about 80 per cent of these areas of coastal grassland regularly flooded by seawater since the Acadians first settled here in the 17th Century.

Click here to read “SMU researcher cuts holes in dikes to restore the environment.”

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3. The politics of spectacle

Megan Leslie. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Former Halifax MP Megan Leslie gave a lecture to warm and sustained applause from a couple hundred Dalhousie University students last night,” writes Jennifer Henderson:

“I think to an extent we do feel pretty smug,” said Leslie. “We didn’t elect an orange Cheeto our prime minister, so we feel pretty good about ourselves. But I’m sorry to say there are a lot of parallels between Trump’s election and Justin Trudeau’s election. Now I know there is a big difference between a prime minister who says he’s a feminist and a president who publicly brags about sexually assaulting women — I get that and I know that — but the common theme between the election of Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau is spectacle. Justin Trudeau is a master of the politics of spectacle, from his selfies to walking down the street with his family to Rideau Hall. So, are we doomed to elect reality TV stars and sons of former prime ministers?”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

4. Underwater drones and taking a virtual crap

We’ve published the latest company & society registrations. This week we look at 14 new listings, including this one:

2903 Gottingen Street, Halifax
Partners: Thor Henrikson and Edward Mowbray
“QuirkVR is Atlantic Canada’s only production facilities dedicated to 360 video,” says its Facebook page, which also has a picture of a guy sitting on a box that a toilet came in, taking a virtual crap. More here.

We’ve also listed three recent ACOA awards, because somebody should be tracking this stuff.

Click here to read “Underwater drones and taking a virtual crap.”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

5. The parking violation death sentence

“Halifax regional council is looking at hefty increases to parking fines as part of the 2017-2018 municipal budget,” reports Susan Bradley for the CBC:

The last increase was in 2006, when council approved an increase to parking meter fines to $25 from $20. Fines for other parking violations, such as parking in a fire lane, went up as high as $100.

It is time to do it again, municipal chief planner Bob Bjerke told council Wednesday night.

“We don’t have an effective deterrent with the level of tickets that we have, they are extremely low.”

Parking tickets give good insight into the death penalty… bear with me here.

One persistent theme in capital punishment debates is that the death penalty acts as a “deterrent” to murder. Which is just silly: almost all murders are crimes of passion, momentary uncontrollable rage, or the product of disturbed minds.

Parking violations are probably the only violation of the law where the perp always consciously weighs the risk of of getting caught and the severity of the penalty. You might park in the red zone if you think your chances of getting caught are slim or if the resulting ticket isn’t a wallet-buster. Deterrence actually works in parking enforcement: the greater the penalty, the less likely you’ll commit the violation. If the punishment for parking next to a hydrant were the death penalty, nobody at all would park next to a hydrant.

Then again, the city budget relies in part on some people paying a parking fine, so you can’t make the fine too high — too much deterrence would have a negative effect on city revenues and therefore the level of services City Hall can provide. So maybe we shouldn’t impose the death penalty for a parking fine.

It’s an interesting game, parking ticket fines.

6. Automated stop announcements

A city press release issued yesterday:

Halifax Transit is pleased to advise residents that beginning on Monday, Jan. 30, automated stop announcements will be rolled out on all bus routes following the initial six-week pilot phase.

Automated stop announcements assist hearing and visually impaired passengers by providing audio and visual announcements of the next stop on board buses, as well as exterior announcements at bus stops of the route name and direction of travel. These cues mean that riders no longer need to rely on the bus operator or other passengers for information during their trip. Tourists, and those passengers who are unfamiliar with Halifax Transit service, also benefit from advanced notice of upcoming stops.

The pilot phase, which was initially launched on 13 select routes in mid-December, provided staff with the opportunity to better understand how the system worked, collect valuable feedback from operators and riders on their experience, and identify some areas where the functionality could be improved.

As a result of important feedback received from operators and riders during the pilot phase, staff identified an issue that occurred occasionally where stop announcements would ‘jam up’ in the queue, and then begin playing later during the route. This issue appeared at random times, regardless of the bus type and the route, but staff worked with the vendor to implement a solution, which has been applied on the entire bus fleet.

Halifax Transit also heard feedback related to the volume levels for on board announcements. Initial adjustments have been made and are part of the full fleet rollout. In addition, staff are in the process of enabling a system feature that will automatically adjust the volume of the internal announcements based on ambient noise levels. This feature will continue to be monitored and modified until the optimal volume setting is achieved, which will ensure that all individuals receive the full benefit from this service.


1. Cranky Letter of the Day

To The Coast:

Awesome! Another Coast article letting us know that our live music scene needs help and that some “industry pros” are leading the charge (“A live music strategy for Halifax might be on its way,” The Scene by Rebecca Dingwell, posted January 18)! Haven’t seen too much of “councillor Waye Mason” out on the dance floors lately, but I guess we’re in good hands. Oh, and in other music news, congratulations to: 

Like A Motorcycle on their tour announcement to Germany. (Again.) Ria Mae on her Juno nomination. PINEO & LOEB for their recent, top-secret record label signing. Mauno for both a record and booking agent snag. Rain Over St. Ambrose on charting nationally on every friggin’ university station. Cold Smoke 2017 and everyone involved there for having another year of ALL LOCAL musicians and almost selling out one of the biggest rooms we have in the city without investing in a stadium/convention centre. Hillsburn for receiving Emerging Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. 

Biggest congrats of ALL goes out to EVERY SINGLE artist out there struggling to survive and thrive in a city that’s constantly telling you YOUR “scene” isn’t good enough and that THEY are going to fix it for you! 

Kyle McCracken, lead singer of Dub Kartel


No public meetings.

On campus


Cyber Warfare (1pm, Room 105 Weldon Law Building) — A panel discussion on what cyber warfare looks like in an International Humanitarian Law context. Register here.

Thesis Defence, Law (1pm, Room 3107, The Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Don McCrimmon will defend his thesis, “Regional Human Rights Regimes and Environmental Protection: A Comparison of European and American Human Rights Regimes, Histories, Current Law, and Opportunities for Development”

Medieval Laws (3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Cynthia Neville will speak on “’No Remission Without Satisfaction’: Canonical Influences on Secular Lawmaking in High Medieval Scotland.”

Saint Mary’s

Translingualism (10am, McNally Main 201) — Paola BohOrquez, from the University of Toronto, will speak on “Living Between Languages: Lessons from Translingual Writing”:

What lessons can we draw from migrant and diasporic writing about the process of living between languages? And how can this knowledge shape our intercultural exchanges in increasingly globalized settings? This presentation explores the concept of translingualism as lived experience, textual engagement, and ethical stance with attention to how our sociocultural contexts hinder or foster linguistic fluidity and multiplicity. We will also reflect collectively on the pedagogical implications of translingualism for university teaching.

Nucleophiles (11:30am, Science Building S310) — Rylan Lundgren will speak on, “Copper-Mediated Oxidative Cross-Coupling Reactions of Carbon Nucleophiles.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9am Friday. Map:

5am: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
7:15am: Mary, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
10am: Allise P, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
11am: Elektra, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
11:30am: Western Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Somerset, England
2:30pm: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Baltimore
4pm: Atlantic Star, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
4:30pm: Western Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea


This week has been the busiest publishing week in Examiner history — and there’s still more to come. I hope to make this the new normal, but of course it depends on having a steady flow of subscriptions. Click here to subscribe.

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

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  1. Re Megan Leslie;
    Although she denies it, this is appears to be a case sour grapes. Leslie and her colleagues in the federal NDP are still in denial. Trudeau didn’t win the election. The NDP lost the election when Mulcair trotted out the neo liberal trope that they would balance the budget in year one. That was cynical ploy and voters recognized it as such.

    The Nova Scotia NDP has the same problem. They refuse to accept the reasons they were turfed after just one term in government and they have not even acknowledged those reasons. They refused to stand up to a leader who pursued non-NDP policies like corporate welfare, gerrymandering and blatant vote buying with things like the Yarmouth Ferry. McNeil will easily win the next election by simply running against the Dexter/Steele NDP. In fact, McNeil gets lots of help every time people tune in to or click on the CBC. Dexter and Steele holding forth on CBC is a constant reminder of why people did not vote for Stephen McNeil, but, rather voted against Darrell Dexter.

    1. Except for attributing sour grapes to Ms. Leslie [I do not], I strongly agree with your articulate and precise comment. On “sour grapes” in general, I continue to be bewildered at the capability of humans to delude themselves, to hold beliefs arrived at akin to horses wearing blinders/blinkers, secure and unaffected by manufactured reality.

    2. The provincial NDP folks in positions of power spent a period of time in denial – I agree with that. But the membership brought it all back home in electing Gary Burril as leader.

  2. Here’s a crazy idea: What if the city leveled the playing field by requiring pay-for-parking at all the business parks? Like the airport or the toll highway, you’d have to pay a fee to use the parking facilities.

    People aren’t going to stop shopping. Going downtown could be less of a deterrent if it doesn’t cost any more to park there than it does at Bayers Lake or Dartmouth Crossing. We have got to get over this idea that parking should be free.

  3. I’m glad metro transit is dealing with the volume level of the passenger announcements. It’s the volume of the announcement they make at the stop letting the outside world know where the bus is headed that I have an issue with. Right outside my bedroom window, every thirty minutes, the Number 2 tells the neighborhood loudly, where it’s going. If some one is getting on the bus, and can’t tell where the bus is going, the driver should be able to tell them without telling the whole world. If the stop is just to let some one off, then there is no point in announcing to the whorls where you are going. The bus is now a narcissist.

  4. Re: Megan Leslie

    I am disappointed in Megan Leslie’s cheap political shot at Trudeau. Irrespective of political leanings, trying to compare Trump and Trudea is at best a stretch and at worst political pandering. Trump is the greatest threat to North America since the Cuban missile crisis and all signs point to him ramping up to what will be a social and economic disaster in the US and Canada.
    Sorry Ms. Leslie. That was just dumb.

    1. Trudeau is trying to lock-in enough carbon producing export capacity to ensure that millions will die. I don’t really care about Trump because I can’t vote in the US, we spend far too much time minding our neighbours’ business while the till is being robbed here at home.

      1. Yeah, we should just keep importing crude from Algeria, Congo and Kazakhstan.
        Or buy refined products from the 1.25 million barrels per day refinery in India or cut a deal to buy from the 4 new refineries to be built in Indonesia :
        ” State owned Pertamina has been tasked with finding partners for refining projects throughout the country. Numerous refineries have been earmarked as candidates for investment and upgrade; Cilacap (348,000 b/d), Balikapapan (260,000 b/d), Balongan (125,000 b/d) and Dumai (125,000 b/d). In addition to these existing refineries, the government also aims to begin construction of the Bontang refinery in East Kalimantan (235,000 b/d) and Tuban refinery in East Java (300,000 b/d).
        Several countries and corporations have been approached over these projects and new government regulations have enabled private companies to build and operate domestic refineries.
        The Bontang refinery has been offered to Iran after the country showed a willingness to invest $8.4 billion, however, with costs expected to be closer to $14-15 billion, a completion date is not confirmed. Russia’s Rosneft has agreed to develop the Tuban refinery through a $13.8 billion deal, the refinery should be operational by 2022.
        Furthermore, Saudi Aramco has committed to invest in the Cilacap refinery to the tune of $5.5 billion, aiming to modernize the plant, while increasing refining capacity to 370,000 b/d, with a completion date in 2022. Pertamina has signaled it would be prepared to solely revamp the Balikpapan refinery, after initial investors JX dropped out, boosting capacity to 360,000 b/d by 2019. “

        1. Your argument is that others are increasing exports, so should we? I’ve read enough of your comments to know you won’t be around for the consequences. How can you be so easy-going if you have any relatives that will be here in 50 years? I know you have excellent points most of the time, but this is the type of denial that will lead us to a very dark future. People are unable to face up to the magnitude of disaster we are facing. To hide behind the actions of other countries would make us weak, indeed.

          1. My point is – we need security of supply. The oil we import is nor a secure supply.
            I’d be happy to see gas at the pump priced at $2.50 a lite.
            Getting off oil is not easy without a significant price increase.
            The disaster is a lot closer than 50 years – 30 at the max and it is not easy for any democracy to accept what awaits beyond the horizon.

    2. If we’re looking at the wave of ill-informed voting that brought both to power, I’d say there are big similarities. UUUUUGE similarities.