On campus
In the harbour


1. Catherine Campbell

Catherine Campbell
Catherine Campbell

CBC reporter Rachel Ward obtained the search warrant documents related to the arrest of Chris Garnier for the murder of Truro police officer Catherine Campbell. Those documents included a sworn affidavit by RCMP Constable John Berger, who alleges that Garnier confessed to the crime:

“He admitted to punching Ms. Campbell several times in the face and to strangling her with her hands,” Berger swears in the documents. “He said he could hear her last gasp.”


Police learned that Campbell left her apartment around 1 a.m. on Sept. 11 in a taxi to go to the Alehouse in downtown Halifax after a stressful week, documents say. 

She met Garnier at the bar where they kissed and talked, documents say. Police do not say if they found a prior connection between the two or if they believe they met for the first time at the bar. Garnier was there with a friend, who ended up in the drunk tank, the documents say.

Video surveillance from the bar shows what police believe to be the pair leaving around 3:40 a.m. They arrived at Garnier’s friend’s house on McCully Street in Halifax around 3:45 a.m., the documents allege. 

About 45 minutes later, police say a man was caught on video surveillance rolling a green bin down Agricola Street and then North Street in his bare feet.

Campbell’s body was found in the woods under the Macdonald Bridge. Allegedly, the next day Garnier was preparing to return to the scene to remove the body.

2. Transit plan

Yesterday, the city released the proposed redesign of Halifax Transit routes, called Moving Forward Together. The plan goes to city council’s Transportation Committee next week.

I asked Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler to have a look at it. She’ll have a full report on Monday, but here are her initial thoughts:

One notable improvement right off the top: This latest draft of the plan includes much stronger language around Transit Priority Measures (TPMs), and even points to two problem corridors, Gottingen Street and Bayer’s Road, as areas that need intervention if transit is to function properly on those routes at all. The plan also includes a long-awaited list of 11 short term TPM opportunities, including a transit only toll lane on the MacDonald Bridge.

One worrisome thing to note:  The implementation for the plan is recommended to stretch into 2021, due to the complexity of the endeavour and the limited staff resources at Halifax Transit.


1. Patronage appointment

Laurie Graham
Laurie Graham

“Premier Stephen McNeil’s hires highlight relationship between press and politics,” reads the headline on Graham Steele’s latest column for the CBC, in which Steele discusses former journalists getting hired by the public sector. But the real point of the column is buried way down:

There’s one more issue — and we need to say it out loud: money.

Government jobs pay better, and are more secure, than most reporting jobs.


When the offer of well-paid, secure employment comes up, it must be very tempting.

Even so, hiring Laurie Graham as the premier’s principal secretary at an annual salary of $160,000 was eyebrow-raising.

That’s a higher salary than the premier’s chief of staff, who is ostensibly her boss — and more than any cabinet minister.

And who is Laurie Graham? Before she was hired as a parliamentary reporter for CTV, she worked at CBC, which provided her bio to J-Source:

Graham joined the public broadcaster in 1989 as a radio reporter in Sydney, N.S. In 1993, she joined 1st Edition, the provincial news broadcast as its Cape Breton reporter and then moved in 1998 to Halifax to join The National as its Maritime reporter. Since 2005, she has been a national reporter for CBC based in Toronto and has covered international stories from Israel, Afghanistan and Haiti. 

Frankly, I never heard of her before this week. But here’s the detail Steele left out: Laurie Graham is Ray Ivany’s wife.

Ray Ivany
Ray Ivany

That’s right: the premier created a bullshit position with a bullshit job title — principal secretary, really? Like she’s going to be filing letters and working the switchboard? — and created a lavish salary for the spouse of a connected friend of the premier.

This is patronage, pure and simple. No one at all can defend this with any integrity. There is no defence. It’s straight-up ripping off the taxpayer for a political favourite.

Even worse, the political favourite is Ray Ivany, whose name adorns the Ivany Report, the saintly figure who deigned to tell us peons that if only we would change our bad attitudes this province would get itself together economically.

Let’s review.

In 2014, the last year for which figures are available, Ray Ivany was paid $280,166 as president of Acadia University and $94,500 as a board member of Nova Scotia Power.

Ivany also sits on various other boards and commissions. He is a Governor at Rothesay Netherwood School, a private institution. Ivany is also a director at Nova Scotia Business Inc. And, of course, he was the lead commissioner on the the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy, i.e, the Ivany Report. (Apparently, no one has bothered to ask what Ivany was paid for his role in the Ivany report.) There are probably others. And most of the public appointments will include per diem, meals and travel expenses covered by the taxpayer.

Ivany sure knows how to work the public service angle for the big bucks.

Ivany had a heart attack last year, and while he is said to have fully recovered, he is retiring from Acadia effective in June 2017. Acadia hasn’t announced Ivany’s retirement pay, but if it’s anything like former Dalhousie University president Tom Traves’, Ivany will make as much as he did while he was working. And Ivany still holds the other positions.

I’m told Ivany leaned on McNeil to hire Graham, because evidently the household can’t live on $400K and change a year. McNeil obliged.

This is the same Stephen McNeil who is attacking working people at every turn. We can’t afford public sector wages, says McNeil, as he doles out $160K to his friend’s wife. Teachers are getting paid too much for educating our children, says McNeil, as he creates a bullshit job with no defined duties for Graham. Nurses are the enemy, says McNeil, but we gotta bring Laurie home so she can tend to Ray while he recovers from his heart attack.

It cannot be more clear: Stephen McNeil, Laurie Graham, and Ray Ivany have utter contempt for the people of Nova Scotia. This is all one big joke to them. As they see it, they are of one stratum of society and deserve giant salaries and comfortable lives provided by the working people who pay taxes.  And those working people are of a lower stratum, not worthy of decent paying jobs, job security, or protected pensions.

Were there justice in this world, the working people of Nova Scotia would today be storming the premier’s office with pitchforks and torches, demanding the heads of McNeil, Ivany, and Graham. Alas, the working people are too busy working.

2. Port of Sydney

Local Xpress columnist Roger Taylor is calling for Auditor General Michael Pickup to investigate the Port of Sydney Development Corporation:

It all started with the 2011-12 harbour dredging project, which was funded by various levels of government and Nova Scotia Power Inc., which operates a coal pier in Sydney, to allow larger ships to enter the Sydney port. Ottawa provided $20 million, Nova Scotia $17.2 million, Cape Breton Regional Municipality $2 million and Nova Scotia Power $1 million.

The dredging reportedly came in under budget, so about $2.5 million was set aside in a trust fund for the port and restricted to spending on things like navigational aids, fish habitat reports and monitoring, and other port projects.

Today, that fund is reported to be down to $1.8 million, and critics of how the port development corporation has been spending the money suggest the fund should never have been used to pay for things like legal fees, marketing consultants and international travel and hospitality.

Sure, but $700,000 misspent will be peanuts compared to the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars that will be spent should port enthusiasts get their way and a container terminal and associated rail links be built. The whole plan is nuts, and someone should step in now before real disaster happens.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

I recently read where Francis Doyle and his son, Jason, were left homeless by a fire in New Waterford (‘I have nothing,’ Cape Breton Post, Feb. 19.)

They were put up in a motel for two nights then had to leave with nowhere to go. This man has a heart condition and finds it hard to walk. I can’t blame him for saying “I feel like two cents.”

Thanks to Alice Hall who took them in to stay with her so they can have an address, as Francis Doyle couldn’t receive any income assistance until he had an address.

There’s a lot of poverty in Cape Breton. We have food banks here, work is scarce, our health system could be better and places are closing. 

It makes me boil and sad to think people here have to go through something like this and there’s no need of it. 

I hope Mr. Doyle and his son found a place and no one else has to go through such a situation again.

Mrs. Mickey Bushnik, Sydney Mines


No public meetings.

On Campus

The History Across the Disciplines conference is this weekend. Two notable events:

Still is the Master of Moving: Change, Authority, and History (Friday, 7pm, Room 1009, Rowe Buildin) — Steven Schwinghamer will give the keynote address.

Shipwrecks (Saturday, 6pm, Pier 21) — James Delgado will speak on “The Great Museum of the Sea”:

The oceans, lakes and rivers of the world are the greatest museum of humanity’s interaction with the sea – as well as our global expansion and a record of our interactions with each other through immigration, exploration, commerce and war. In an engaging, detailed and yet quick tour, Dr. Delgado explores some of history’s most famous and significant shipwrecks from antiquity through the modern age, with an emphasis on wrecks in and around North America – like the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor, the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, and RMS Titanic.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:40am Friday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:40am Friday. Map:

Dinkeldiep, general cargo, Saint-Pierre to Pier 36, then sails back to Saint-Pierre
MSC Cristiana, car carrier, Savona, Italy to Autoport
Tongala, car carrier, Southhampton, England to Autoport

ZIM Luanda sails to New York
Energy Progress sails to sea
CSL Metis sails to Baltimore
ZIM San Francisco sails to sea
Oceanex Sanderlanding sails to St. John’s

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 8.59.04 AM

The Stena Icemax — the Shell oil rig that broke in the last storm — has been been moved to 24 nautical miles off Halifax Harbour, so it can be more easily serviced. The rig is the blue box on the map above; it is being serviced by the Breaux Tide, an offshore supply ship.



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

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  1. I’ve just had enough of this. I’m officially OUT of NS Provincial political parties to vote for.

  2. I weighed in directly with Tim, but in fairness, should do so more publicly too. I did not for a minute read this story as about sex and I didn’t see a hint of sexist commentary from Tim. The point that had to be made is that in a small province where working folks have been told to tighten their belts or get work elsewhere, the “haves” find their way through without being questioned. It is the questioning that we need. If the answers are there, so be it. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been hired a couple of times because of who I know. I’ve also been passed over for work because someone else someone knew was hired, or was the spouse of, etc. When I’m hired because of who I know, it is right to ask me about it and require me to demonstrate that I’m qualified and bring something beneficial to the table. I’m certainly not allowed just to refuse to answer the question, because I’m a woman or because questioning a hire of a woman is somehow automatically sexist. It is a wide and nuanced conversation we need to have, and I thank Tim and the women and men he hires for starting those conversations regularly, where others don’t seem to do so.

  3. Tim, thank you for saying out loud what almost no one in this province with an audible voice ever has the nerve to say: Nova Scotia is a corrupt, nepotistic oligarchy.

    We are a claustrophobically close culture, and it can be painful to look honestly at injustice because the beneficiaries of that injustice will often be people we know personally. It may even be ourselves we need to call to account.

    It is nonetheless necessary to say true things out loud, regardless of how uncomfortable, impolite, or impolitic.

    We’re never going to change this place if we’re unwilling to acknowledge what needs changing, and that might sometimes hurt.

  4. Almost hate to do this but McNeil’s appointments are the slippery slope that leads to demagogues like Donald Trump.

    Trump has somehow been able to mine a vein of frustration in people that there are rules for elites and rules for everyone else. Never the twain will meet.

    There will be a point that frustration with politics becomes so great that the electorate will look for insane options.

    The American Republicans are doing it now. We may be next and we have our political class to thank for the cynicism and desperation.

  5. Tim, I think as writers and journalists we sometimes feel secure in nuance that does not translate to the reader, especially on this issue of distinguishing between what is fair dealing and what is a personal attack. Read literally, dispassionately, much of what you question about Graham’s appointment is completely in bounds. But your tone in this piece, well, it seemed to provide another layer of commentary that is easily read as personal and mean spirited. It is not that it is exasperated (human enough) or critical (necessary enough) that worries me so much as that you frame your comments in a way that seem to entertain no possibility of a valid opposing view, and therefore invite no real discussion. Journalism that does not invite discussion is in danger of being just a kind of yelling into a culvert; in danger of being purely rhetoric. Rhetoric will never build up our community to the health and strength required to oppose what is wrong in government.

    I can think of any number of ways in which you could raise the same concerns without so endangering their validity and arming your detractors. You’re capable of it, but you chose to post a rant instead. I’m okay with that on a certain level (hey, it’s your soap box), but the fact is that this sort of journalism is giving us day-old donuts when you could have used the same ingredients to bake good bread to nurture your readers and strengthen their ability to engage with their government.

    That politicians look to those they trust and respect—those in their own social, professional and political circles—when they hire this sort of staff is not what bothers me. It has its problems, but being in power ought come with some ability to bring forward your agenda and select your partners in accomplishing that agenda. Whether you like Graham or her spouse as people or professionals is not useful in this discussion. The main question for me is whether the compensation is excessive; that would be the abuse worth opposing if it is indeed an abuse.

    There are enough fair questions to be asked. Keep asking them. Bake us good bread, Tim.

  6. James Delgado is not speaking at Dalhousie this weekend: he is giving a lecture at Pier 21 (which is noted parenthetically above, but is listed under events ‘on campus’).


    All the churning and unctuous hand-wringing about Laurie Graham’s appointment reminds me of the movie Death and the Maiden.

    It is a great movie about ethics and political power written by Chilean revolutionary and writer Ariel Dorfman–something about which Dorfman has direct and tragic personal experience. In the movie a torture victim gets a chance to torture the man who tortured her. She is undecided. Among other things she recalls that her torturer had his good points: he would play Schubert’s Death and the Maiden at the start of each torture session. As if there is a way to mitigate, excuse or justify the unjustifiable.

    There is no excuse for Graham’s appointment. There can be no mitigation. Her personableness refinements and gender and whether or not she might even enjoy classical music are irrelevant.

    However, there is an explanation: it’s politics. And, like Jack Nicholson in “Chinatown” the obvious reality of the surrounding obvious reality explains everything.

    Her appointment is to a political position in the premier’s office. Enough said. Politics at that level becomes a self-fulfilling, self-defining and self-imposed grisly reality. As a good friend of mine who once served in such a position for a premier in another province once told me: it is a community of consummate “turd-fondlers.” To try to explain or understand such behaviour turns us all into fools or worse, accomplices.

    The best we can do is walk away and redouble our efforts to hasten the day of the glorious revolution.

  8. An interesting discussion. We’ve been wallowing in this patronage muck for like forever. Gender has nothing to do with it. It’s pitchforks we need but it’s not in the bloodline here. The relationship between journalists and politicians has always been tenuous, at best (to wit Wallin, Duffy, et al). They rub shoulders but are never intimate, until…..

    One wonders how Bousquet or Donham would respond if they were ever offered such a plum. But they haven’t been, and these are the people we need.

  9. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that anyone married to someone in government, or married to someone with government or party connections, should not be able to get a job like this. While I think I would prefer a blanket denial to closed-door cronyism, I’d be satisfied with an open and transparent process, done “blind” (as the term is) by impartial outsiders. Whether that can be done in practice, I’m not sure. This lady could apply for the job, and so could, say, El Jones, who seems to me from her writing to be intelligent, hard working etc etc etc – but lacking these insider connections. Let the best applicant win.

    I know some positions close to a premier involve staff who are loyal to him or her, and handpicked by him or her. Not sure I have any problem with that, if the positions are paid for out of party, rather than public, funds. If this person was being paid out of party funds, then there probably wouldn’t be an issue.

    The discussion here is interesting. This appointee seems to fall within two intersecting Venn Diagram circles of insider cronyism, the government crony circle and the NS elite journalism/university crony circle. There may be other circles overlapping for all I know, but I see these two. So many seem to argue that it is OK for government to appoint a crony or the spouse or near relation of a crony, as long as the government’s crony is also their own crony.

    Has any journalist other than Tim B, let’s say the CBC, raised the issue?

  10. Here in this humble issue of the Halifax Examiner is the kind of daylighting journalism which is now apparently absent from the “mainstream” media. I had no idea that Grham was married to Ivany. This obviously was well known to the CBC whose reporters/ editors made a decision to NOT report that important and relevant point. Shame on them. Not often I can say that about CBC.
    The appointment stinks. Pure and simple. There is nothing in Graham’s CV which gives her credentials for this job. A press secretary maybe, but not a position responsible for key policy direction etc. Further more, this is a political position and given her exclusive background as a reporter, she should not have political experience.

  11. …and I hope that some of the defences being made here don’t mean that Nova Scotian journalists take their cue from Nova Scotia politicians. The outraged defences and attempts at deflection of the issues being made here are exactly the ones I hear from politicians (in almost any province) to defend their crony appointments.

  12. Again, these people seem to have read a different Tim B. article to the one I read, but I won’t repeat what I said above.

    The difference seems to be that the appointee in question is an NS journalist with friends within the closed and narrow circles of NS journalism, and at Kings U it seems, so the possibility of cronyism at work can be overlooked in this instance.

    As I said above, she may very well be competent at what she did for a living in the past, and may very well acquit her new duties superbly. Nor is there anything wrong in and of itself with a journalist quitting journalism to work for the government for a well-paid job. But these were hardly the points being made.

  13. All parties were implicated in the MLA Expense scandal of 2010. When this became public the public were furious because it looked like these characters regarded themselves as an upper class, entitled to feast on the public teat. Premier Dexter (himself implicated) never recovered the loss of trust with the public and this was the beginning of the decline in the fortunes of his government.

    Patronage is well known in Nova Scotia, but that (and secret trust funds) have become virtually synonymous with the NS Liberal Party. This is not the first time this has happened on Premier McNeil’s watch AFAIK. Feels like he’s looking at those favorable CRA public opinion polls and taking we voters for granted.

    So where is that furious public now?

  14. Re. Patronage Appointment: First, thanks for reporting the facts and for your intelligent, non-sexist commentary. Every time someone throws out the term “sexist” in defence of the indefensible, they are doing a disservice to all the women in the province who actually live with the effects of real sexism every day of their lives.

    Secondly, at some point, the pitchforks will come out. In Nova Scotia we live in a world where people work hard (when there is work) and politicians and their friends live very well off our collective resources, while telling the rest of us that all we need is an attitude adjustment – that’s essentially what Ivany tells us. Very few of the self proclaimed business leaders have actually operated as entrepreneurs. Rather, they feed off their connections to the more powerful.

    For example, did somebody back in the day start a little power generation company and build it into a giant corporation that delivers a competitively priced product to consumers of electricity? Of course not, politicians took a citizen owned power company and handed it over to a bunch of their friends who simply charge what they need to guarantee themselves a profit. In Russia they call these folks oligarchs. In Nova Scotia we just call them the well healed or “business leaders”. To quote Frank Sobotka in The Wire, “We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just stick our hand in the next guy’s pocket.”

    So Laurie and Ray, enjoy the fruits of our labours because neither one of you is actually making or building anything.

    1. Oh, one more thing: Since last April, I have been wondering why Ray Ivany did not speak out publically about the obviously stupid decision of the McNeil government to kill the film industry in this province. After all, that decision flew in the face of everything the Ivany Report purported to stand for. I guess I now know the answer. Does anyone believe that, had he publically called out the government for a decision that resulted in the death of an entire industry, sending thousands of young, well educated and talented workers out of province, his partner Laurie Graham, would have been given a job in the premier’s office? Simply a case of not biting the hand that feeds your family.

  15. I got to know Laurie Graham 25 years ago, when she came to work at CBC Radio in Sydney. For a time, when she was a TV reporter and I made weekly appearances on First Edition, we worked at adjacent desks.

    Laurie is personable, smart, funny, hard working, and kind. She has deep knowledge of Nova Scotia culture and politics. There is every reason to think she will contribute strongly to a premier’s office that is, frankly, short on some of those qualities. Had Laurie been on board, I doubt Premier McNeil would have blundered into the witless decision to gut the film tax credit.

    But of course, you weren’t thinking when you hammered out your bilious screed about Laurie’s appointment. You were doing what regular readers of the Halifax Examiner have come to expect: dashing off easy, invidious cant, rote denunciation of someone you know nothing about. It’s the treatment you visit on anyone who succeeds in Nova Scotia, most especially anyone appointed by government to manage anything.

    You love government in theory. No unionized government employee’s salary, pension, or perk is ever too rich in your books. If taxpayers can’t afford it, borrow more, is your constant refrain. But let anyone get paid to manage the joint, and you lapse into mindless vituperation.

    For the record, while Graham Steele is correct that journalists’ salaries are generally low, but I expect Laurie was an exception. Her ability to negotiate pay equivalent to a lower level deputy minister probably reflects the kind of money she made as a senior national television reporter and host. And don’t even get me started on your assumption that a female executive’s remuneration should be weighed in light of her husband’s earnings.

    There are many things to like about Halifax Examiner, but the knee-jerk personal attacks on people you don’t know are unbecoming. They reflect poorly on you.

    Parker Donham
    Kempt Head, Cape Breton

    1. Mr. Donham,
      Your personal knowledge of the quality of person is irrelevant. It’s that she is related to Ivany that is the problem.

        1. Yes, any person married to anyone in government should be disqualified. This is not an issue related to gender equality. Your attitude perpetuates the problem of cronyism in Nova Scotia. Real solutions aren’t in a seminar, it’s in holding government to account for its actions. They should be making decisions based upon the good it will do for all of us, not rewarding insiders. You usually rail against this type of behaviour, I’m surprised.

    2. It’s amazing how people are taking this so personally. Great that you know Laurie Graham. Most people don’t.

      That’s the point of patronage. How many people out there have the same qualifications or better than her’s that did not get a chance at this job because they are not married to Ray Ivany?

      Might I bring up Mark Lever. Not that I would ever defend him but he is getting attacked as the husband of Sarah Dennis.

      If you are that close to those in positions of power and your power seems, for no other reason, than to come from those connections then all bets are off.

      The meritocracy is a fallacy peddled by the well connected. It’s hard to argue that Laurie Graham isn’t well connected.

    3. I love how Mr. Donham rails against Tim Bousquet’s commentary and refers to it as a personal attack and then, levels personal attacks on Mr. Bousquet and his readers. Oh well, it is Nova Scotia and who knows, maybe… Oh never mind.

    4. At least PD spared Examiner readers 5 minutes of their life, by the placement of the first 3 sentences of his comment. On his Contrarian blog, a person has to read over half of the article to get to the punchline. The punchline being that this butthurt retort is highly biased and pretty much worthless.

  16. This province needs to get around to creating a very tough set of ethical and professional guidelines for the public service. The appointments need to be transparent. If you are related directly or close friends with anyone in service of the government you ought be automatically disqualified because all your decisions must be seen through the lens of personal gain. I know this would keep a great deal of people from getting plum jobs but it would also allow for diversification. If the same old people and networks aren’t allowed to be appointed, imagine the new directions policy and government could take.
    We need to have a harsh, but fair set of rules for appointments and frankly, meritocracy might be foiled in cases where the person has a conflict. Just declaring conflict is baloney and does nothing.
    Does anyone else think we should go this way?

  17. People seem to think the issues are A) Graham is a woman, followed by B) her level of qualification. those aren’t the issues. The issue is: She had an insider track to that position based on who she knows.

    We are supposed to have a responsible gov’t that is accountable to the people (voters). We are supposed to live in a meritocracy. Hiring staff based on their connections does not fulfill responsible gov’t mandates or meritocratic rules of hiring.

    Now, was she hired from a competition that screened several equally as qualified women & men? Did her qualifications set her apart from the group she was chosen from? Or, was she chosen because of political connects? That’s the issue here.

    1. And you make a good point. She is qualified, but it sure would be nice to have these positions advertised.

    2. Janet, in many organizations, when a family member or spouse of someone important is hired, there is usually a transparent process that demonstrates that cronyism or nepotism is not driving the hiring decision. That is what is missing here.

      Given Nova Scotia’s proud history of insider politics, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is not crazy to assume that nepotism is at work here.

  18. Wow. You could not be more wrong, or uninformed. If anything, Ray is Laurie’s tag-along-spouse, not vice versa. Laurie covered politics in Atlantic Canada for years, she understands provincial, regional and national media and she ran CTV’s Ottawa bureau for almost two years. The woman you dismissed as a potential switchboard operator was in charge of national political coverage for the largest television network in Canada. Pretty damn useful skills – and contacts – for any Maritime premier’s office, don’t you think? And the job you dismiss as a “bullshit position” is a senior political post in virtually every provincial or federal legislature in every Commonwealth country. Nigel Wright was Harper’s principal secretary when he cut a check for Mike Duffy. Gerald Butts is Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary. Have you ever heard of them? Think that they spend their time “filing letters and working the switchboard?” And really, would you have written that line if Laurie were a man? The salary level is a fair issue, but you have managed to make me want to give Laurie a raise, just to put the boot to this kind of ignorant, sexist nonsense.

    1. Again: yes, I don’t care what gender she is, and yes, I’d use that line were it a man. Calling me sexist for calling this out is an act of desperation. It’s not at all defendable. There’s no argument for it. It’s a bullshit appointment, for the spouse of a friend. $160K is outrageous and unprecedented, especially as the premier is attacking public employee unions. Moreover, McNeil’s chief of staff’s spouse is a lobbyist…working to get Service Nova Scotia sold. They can’t seem to get away from this family stuff.

    2. Perhaps what you say is entirely true. If we accept all that, then it still leaves the question why anyone connected to Ray Ivany would be given a senior political post. It’s plain old nepotism and it continues the proud Nova Scotian tradition of rewarding insiders and their families. If people want a change we need to discontinue these practices, or at least not pay them outlandish salaries. This puts her way above the average. This is a sexless issue, trying to de-fang the argument by attacking the delivery is just doing a disservice to Nova Scotians.

    3. One factual correction to Kelly’s comment: Nigel Wright was Harper’s chief of staff, not his principal secretary.

      Tim seems not to be aware that “principal secretary” is a long-established position in Canadian politics. In this usage, the word “secretary” is being used more as a synonym for “assistant”, so a principal secretary is a chief assistant. As Kelly points out, the title it has nothing whatsoever to do with secretarial skills, as that is understood in North America.

      Gerald Butts is indeed PM Trudeau’s principal secretary. The difference is that he has been personal friends with the PM since university, has been with him throughout his political career, and is PM Trudeau’s chief political strategist. He was a key figure in Trudeau’s rise to power and in the Liberal election campaign. He very much fits the profile of a principal secretary. Laurie does not. More typically, someone with her background would be hired as director of communications.

      No matter how experienced a journalist is, they are not equipped to walk into a job as a partisan strategist.

      The position is political, though, so there is no job competition and no job description. The hiring is done by personal services contract, so there is no established pay scale. The position is whatever the premier wants it to be.

      1. If the position is not a competition then by it’s a patronage position. What else would it be? Regardless of her qualifications or gender.

      2. Heh Graham, Nigel Wright was chief of staff when the scandal broke, but principal secretary when the payments were made. At least, that’s what the Globe and Mail kept reporting.

    4. Was there a fair and open competition for a public sector job paid being paid with public money? If there wasn’t it is a political, patronage appointment.

      If she is a political hack paid by the Liberal party then one must question the ethics of the party in power.

      I’m sure for them it’s business as usual.

  19. Some comparative numbers would be nice, and a job description.

    In general this Liberal government has been a major disappointment. It will be very hard for them to regain my trust and support, although they never really had my support. From the film tax credit, to the performance they put on for the Pharmacare changes, I have no idea how they still have decent popularity numbers. We should not be paying for their spin doctors to mislead us.

  20. Re Laurie Graham [and any] Patronage Appointment

    “Alas, the working people are too busy working.” … And too passive, too accepting of ‘it’s the way it’s always been and always will be.’

  21. I have no inside knowledge if Ray Ivany leaned on the Premier, as you say, in order to have Laurie Graham hired. What I do know, as a former CBC colleague of Laurie’s, is that she is intelligent and hard working; an excellent journalist with an outstanding reputation. You are quite right, Tim, to cast a baleful eye on any political appointment, but your ad hominem attack on Laurie Graham, who you admit was unknown to you even professionally before last week, is vile. As for how much she’s being paid: would such a question be asked if a man were about to become the Premier’s new principal secretary?

    Sally Reardon

    1. I didn’t attack Graham. I attacked her salary. And yes, I would call it out no matter what the gender. It’s outrageous, and utterly indefensible.

      1. To try to muddy the waters with charges of sexism is absolutely ridiculous.

        This is an issue of patronage and political connections. This one is especially egregious given Mc Niel’s attachment to Ivany dogma and his belief that working people are somehow the cause of the troubles in Nova Scotia’s economy.

    2. You must have read a different article to what I read. I didn’t see any ad hominem attack or sexist assertion by Tim B.

      I saw an article that said the wife of the premier’s alleged political crony got a high paying public job as a favour to the alleged crony. Why is it wrong to call that out, and how would it be any more or less objectionable if the crony was a female and the appointment had gone to her partner? I don’t see what gender has to do with anything here. She may very well be a competent worker, but how is that the point here? That’s akin to saying we didn’t tender this important contract, but the crony we gave it to is quite capable of doing the job so forget about it. That’s not the point.

      I guess I would ask though who or what the reliable source is for the assertion that the crony leaned on the premier to do this. I’m not a fan of unnamed sources in stories, even though, I admit, the optics of something like this certainly lead one to certain conclusions.

      Did CBCNS do a story on this?

  22. Laurie Graham seemed like a decent reporter. Journalists are whoring themselves out to government and PR for a while now. No big deal.

    Then I read she is Ray Ivany’s wife? $160,000 per year.

    HOLY SHIT!!!!

    Where are the pitchforks at?

    1. That was the last kicker for me too.
      Wondering if she’s related to Danny Graham as well.
      2017 cannot come soon enough.

  23. From Wikipedia: “In Canada, the Principal Secretary is a senior aide, often the most senior political aide, to a head of government. Formerly, the position of Principal Secretary was the most senior in the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office, though since 1987, it is second to the Chief of Staff. The Leader of the Official Opposition and most Canadian provincial Premiers also have a principal secretary.”


    To my knowledge, the first “Principle Secretary” in NS was Matt Hebb, appointed by Darrell Dexter. Although the pecking order would logically seem to be everyone reporting to the chief of staff, the two positions were more parallel in the NDP Caucus Office.

    As for Laurie, couldn’t agree more on your points. She, was, however well known here, before she went national. Not sure what to say about the appointment that you haven’t, Tim, but it appears,once again, that there is no actual difference in party politics in NS, except the names..

    1. For the record, NS premiers have had a principal secretary for a very long time. Matt Hebb was far from the first.