1. Teachers

“Officials with the provincial government and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union will resume contract talks on Monday,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

A day after the two sides reached an impasse, which cancelled talks that were scheduled for Sunday, the union announced in a news release they would meet with a conciliation officer again beginning Monday.

Both sides have agreed to a media blackout until this new round of talks is concluded, however it is unclear how long the talks are scheduled to go or which side approached the other about getting back together.

2. Examineradio, episode #96

El Jones and Ardath Whynacht. Photo: Halifax Examiner

This week we speak with Mount Allison sociologist Ardath Whynacht and Halifax Examiner columnist, academic, and activist El Jones about the public discussion surrounding the triple murder–suicide that rocked Halifax two weeks ago. Many media outlets were quick to seize on Lionel Desmond’s military service and concluded that PTSD explained the horrific violence he committed, without looking into other explanations.

Also, the CBC broke a story showing that African Nova Scotians are three times more likely to be pulled over by Halifax Regional Police. Recent data from the provincial arm of the RCMP shows similar ratios. The response from those in charge? Kind of a big collective shrug.

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(direct download)
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(Subscribe via iTunes)

3. Stadium

Following up on his report last month that a local group wants to build a soccer stadium on the Wanderers Ground, Local Xpress reporter Chris Cochrane interviews Sports & Entertainment Atlantic president Derek Martin about the proposal:

Q: Though the Wanderers Grounds is owned by the city, is it still the plan that the initial stadium structure be owned by the team?

A: “We would bring in the infrastructure. We would bring in the seating, bring in the washrooms, bring in the box office booths, the VIP suites, whatever it is that we need to put on the site to transform it from a field into a venue. That would be ours, the costs would be ours. Then we would hope the city, at the end of that process, would figure out what happens next. Does it remain a temporary venue… or a permanent home, or by that point have other opportunities surfaced?

Q: Does this plan leave the door open should the city or province want to partner on a larger stadium after a few years?

A: “Absolutely. We, as a private entity, certainly can’t build a (major) stadium. There’s no doubt those (larger) facilities need government funding —  those permanent large size (stadiums) – to work. We’re not proposing that we are going to do that. It’s irresponsible we think to ask government to invest money in a stadium without understanding what the appetite is in the city to support it and without having a tenant. So, we are trying to find the tenant first, prove that there’s interest, and provide a great experience for the five or six thousand people or whatever it is that we are able to put into that temporary venue. Then, if that is successful and experiences plenty of support, and the citizens of Halifax are the ones saying, ‘This has worked out great, now let’s look at something more significant,’ we would be happy to be a part of the discussions.”

This is reassuring. Martin seems like a sensible fellow, and I don’t have objections to him and his company paying for construction of a stadium on city-owned land, although of course there should be a lease consideration. But anything larger than what is proposed starts getting problematic real quick.

4. Playgrounds

The city this morning issued a Request for Proposals for the reconstruction of 12 playgrounds around the municipality, at these locations:

Chaswood Drive Park, 125 Chaswood Drive, Cole Harbour
Feetham Park, 6 Franklyn Street, Dartmouth
Lynnett Road Park, 12 Lynnett Road, Halifax
Parkdale Park, 60 Parkdale Avenue, Timberlea
Roaches Pond Park, 546 Herring Cove Road, Halifax
Robert Drive Park, 60 Robert Drive, Dartmouth
Seaview Community Park, 12 Pinedale Drive, Prospect Bay
Southgate Drive Park, 460 Southgate Drive, Bedford
Springfield Lake Recreation Centre, 266 Lakeview Avenue, Middle Sackville Westwind Ridge Park,130 Westwind Ridge, Middle Sackville
Winslow Drive Park, 15 Winslow Drive, Upper Tantallon
Wynn Castle Park, 68 Wynn Castle Drive, Lower Sackville

The budget for each of the various playgrounds ranges from around $60,000 to around $75,000.

One thing I’ve learned from the RFP is that photos of playgrounds look sad when there are no children in them. Consider this one, from Westwind Ridge Park:

It’s like some post-apolyptic world. You can almost hear the creaky sound of the swings jostling in the cold wind, haunted by the disappearance of children and the hope they once held.


1. Police checks

Phlis McGregor

“On October 24, 2016, CBC Halifax journalist Phlis McGregor happened to hear an interview on As It Happens about a York University research study that analyzed two years of Ottawa police data,” writes Stephen Kimber:

Over the years, McGregor had heard African Nova Scotians describe their own unhappy encounters with the police. She remembered a 2003 provincial human rights case in which a board of inquiry determined local police had stopped local boxer Kirk Johnson simply for “driving while black.”

What, if anything, had changed here in the more than 15 years since then, McGregor wondered?

Did Halifax Regional Police keep similar statistics for its own police stops?

The next day, she sent an inquiry to HRP communications asking exactly that question. It turned out the police did maintain “Street Check” data, which included a field for ethnic background. They’d been collecting information since 2005 — two years after the Johnson case — but had never bothered to analyze what they’d gathered.

Kimber goes on to show how the CBC devoted considerable resources to combing through the data and finding ways to report it that would engage with readers, which, unfortunately, is becoming a rare thing:

[T]he reality is there are fewer and fewer reporters in a fewer and fewer newsrooms trying to do more and more with less and less.

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription. Subscribing, of course, is one way to help counter the problem that Kimber underscores.

2. “Job creators” do no such thing

“The January labour force report from Statistics Canada contained a nasty jolt,” writes Richard Starr:

Amidst a generally positive report for the country as a whole there was a great big outlier for Nova Scotia. In December there were 13,300 fewer full-time jobs in this province than there were in December 2015. Surprisingly, the biggest drop – 9,600 – was recorded in Halifax. Even more shocking, elsewhere in Canada there was an increase of 81,000 full-time jobs in December.


One might think that the loss of all those jobs would get media attention. Granted, the December plunge may be a statistical aberration, but that hasn’t stopped the media in the past from going big on a monthly jobs report. At the very least there may have been a question to Premier McNeil or his economic development minister about whether their “leave it to the private sector” strategy is working.


But no, it’s as if job loss is the new normal in Nova Scotia. Instead of exploring that, media attention turned to protecting the reputation of one of our (to steal from Joel Plaskett) Captains of Industry – also known in some circles as “job creators.” The inciting event was a press release from the provincial NDP in advance of a legislative committee meeting on special needs funding by the Department of Community Services.

To illustrate the point that many people are suffering from the department’s parsimony while others have more money than they can spend in several lifetimes, the NDP went to the Canadian Business magazine list of the 100 richest Canadians and focused on – presumably for its near-perfect symmetry – the fact that the net worth of Halifax’s Ken Rowe, proprietor of many enterprises, increased by $270 million in 2016. This increase in wealth in a single year was more – by $25 million – than the province paid out in income assistance last year. Wow.

For its trouble, the NDP was criticized for “singling out” Ken Rowe. Why Rowe would be offended by someone pointing out that he’d just had a very good year in 2016 is not altogether clear. But newspapers here and elsewhere (Charlottetown and Winnipeg for example) seemed to agree with the Liberal backbencher who said politicians should “celebrate the success of its entrepreneurs” rather than reference one of them to make a point about inequality.


Disparities in wealth and income would be less egregious if the Captains of Industry were actually creating jobs instead of the opposite. Maybe we would be more inclined to celebrate their success as entrepreneurs with some evidence of that success being shared with the community as a whole.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

The recent front-page article in the Cape Breton Post (‘Unhappy landlord, Jan. 10) was extremely difficult to read.

David Forsyth, a landlord of various rental properties in Cape Breton, was graphic in the details of the dire state of some of his rental properties after the tenants had vacated the premises – often without paying the rent.

I had to read the story a few times because I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. Then my stomach was churning. How can human beings live knee-deep in disgusting filth?

Are these the same people who throw their fast food containers out the car windows? Who do they think will pick up their garbage?

Add to this the people who leave dirty diapers and trash on our beautiful beaches or the people who empty their car ashtrays in parking lots. Who are ‘these people’ and how did they get this way? 

The list can go on and on but I think you get the picture.

I realize that I do not have a solution to this problem but I am venting my feelings because I am angry. We need to change the mindset of some of the people in our communities.

Obviously, they have no pride in themselves so how can we expect them to have pride in our communities.

Yvonne Kennedy, Homeville


Donald Trump is a replay of Rob Ford. Trump is performing on larger stage and there are more dire potential consequences, but the parallels are uncanny: The hero is a buffoonish boor embraced by a resentful populace. An ever-widening circle know about his base carnality and substance abuse problems, but they stay silent for various reasons: their own political ambitions, loyalty, love, fear of the mob, professional ethics, and more. But then knowledge of the existence of a video tape showing surreally bizarre behavoiur is publicized by a American internet-based media outlet that pushes boundaries.

No, I don’t have proof that Trump is addicted to drugs. But if the debate sniffing isn’t evidence enough, and the deranged middle-of-the-night tweeting doesn’t convince you, consider his doctor:

Anyway, that’s where we are now with Trump. If the production plays out to form, here’s what we can expect: His supporters will condemn each new revelation as an unfair attack. Journalists who report the truth will be called liars with personal vendettas, and even when subsequent events prove them right, no one will apologize to them. Police and other investigations will not result in indictments. There will be no impeachment, no resignation.

In the end, I suspect, the hero will die from some drug addiction-related disease. There will be no satisfactory resolution. Nothing will be learned. No one will be the wiser.

This play sucks.



Executive Standing Committee (10am, City Hall) — the new-ish city clerk, Kevin Arjoon, has prepared a report on open government initiatives. Arjoon, who had previously worked as the deputy city clerk in Kingston, Ontario, and before that in Peterborough, strikes me as beyond capable. It’s refreshing to see someone with such professionalism and ability in the position. On Twitter, Arjoon calls himself an “open government enthusiast,” and this report reflects that enthusiasm.

Accessibility Committee (4pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.


No public meetings.

On campus


Black Lives Matter (6pm, Room 307, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — the Black Student Advising Centre is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a panelist discussion on “Black Lives Matter.” Among others, spoken word artist and Examiner contributor El Jones will present.

In the harbour

5:30am: Hoegh Singapore, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Baltimore
6am: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England

Acadian. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Acadian. Photo: Halifax Examiner Credit: Halifax Examiner

9am: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
9:30am: AHS Hamburg, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from St. Croix, Virgin Islands
10:30am: Hoegh Singapore, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4pm: Atlantic Star, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York


Yah, Monday.

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

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  1. Looks like you jumped on the “fake news” bandwagon with the article about Trump. That is not journalism, or even good commentary. There is no evidence of drug-taking…we know he doesn’t drink alcohol.

    By writing this crap, you encourage readers to stop paying attention to facts, like what the PEOTUS is actually saying and doing, and instead you want them to be afraid. Not thinking, just afraid.

    The fact that Trump is about to be President of the US is a serious matter, and I am disappointed and surprised to find this article among your usually workmanlike journalism.

    Robert Crockett

  2. I share Yvonne Kennedy’s shock and awe regarding crap left behind by lazy, self-absorbed dirty humans. Nova Scotia could win a Litter of the Year competition, hands down. Trash lines the highways driving into trash infested Halifax. Paper cups are wedged between the rails of the beautiful iron cemetery fence on Barrington Street, which obstruct views of garbage strewn in the grave yard. Plastic bags stuck on trees and shrubs throughout the capital city wave in the wind ’till it blows them to a parking lot. Our BOLD capital city is a litter box

  3. Re: Starr’s blog post. As Starr himself points out, it’s completely useless to obsess over and analyze monthly job stats. The numbers are beyond volatile and based on dubiously accurate estimates. The December numbers don’t say anything negative about the current government, just as the much better numbers we saw as recently as this summer really meant anything positive

    Example: According to StatsCan’s labour force survey, between April and May of 2016, Nova Scotia gained 19,000 full-time jobs. Then we gained another 8,000 in June and made slight gains in July and August. Then all of a sudden we dropped 10,000 in September and kept plunging into the winter.

    The same thing can be seen all over the country. British Columbia has supposedly shed 100,000 full-time jobs since August. Ontario has lost 250,000. These are seasonal fluctuations that jump up and down so starkly that no useful conclusions can be drawn except over the long haul. Year over year comparisons aren’t event that meaningful: six months ago, we were up on a 12-month basis. Six months before that, we were down. Six months from now, who knows?

    PR flacks and party true believers love to score points by issuing press releases and publicly damning the sitting government when jobs numbers are bad, and then on months when the numbers go positive, the governments flacks take their turn to gloat and the opposition goes silent. Until things change up again. It’s meaningless political theatre on everyone’s part.

  4. Wait. The stadium thing? I’ve an idea. On government owned land, we get the government to build me a house. Then i live in that house. The government gives me some money to maintain that house and maybe i pay the government a little rent for that house. But i put Bank logo’s on that house and the bank gives me some money. Also, I’m like the CEO of the house so I’m gonna need to be paid for looking after the house. I might need some staff too. But, i will build an outdoor skating rink in the backyard that the public can use on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings. There will be a charge for that.

  5. Where is that Map of how big the Halifax “Commons” used to be? Yeah, I was thinkin’ there was a Trump Ford connection. When Ford blew up, Trump was takin’ notes. If a Crack smokin Canadian can do it! Hey really, it should give hope to us all, we all can do anything, no matter what! That is the lesson of this Grimm’s fairy tale, I think Grimm was inspired by Orwell on this one, oh, and Godwin’s law gotta be in there somewhere. Bamn!

  6. Tim, Trump may be a replay of Rob Ford — except for one tiny thing, the mayor of Toronto has a hell of a lot less power than POTUS who is head of state, head of government and commander in chief. Trump will have a wide array of emergency powers. One small example, FDR invoked emergency powers when he ordered that Japanese Americans be herded into internment camps during the Second World War — and the U.S. Supreme upheld his action.

    No one knows how this will play out of course, but it seems likely that during an emergency (manufactured or otherwise) Trump would declare martial law and suspend the Bill of Rights. No more annoying Buzzfeed-like leaks while Amy Goodman and her ilk may find themselves presidential guests in military prisons.

    Rob Ford was a buffon, yes. Donald J. Trump is a brute with powers we can scarcely imagine.

    1. I have been drawing the Rob Ford analogy since the beginning – but more on the populist faux-man-of-the-people trope than on the drug use – but as useful as it was, I think it has reached its limits, for all the reasons Bruce enumerates, and more.

      We are seeing a coordinated long game attack on liberal and social democracy, spurred by right wing and neo-fascist billionaires, kleptocrats, and authoritarians, drawing on the skills of the Russian propaganda machine. Trump has already met with Marine LePen; Merkel’s government is under attack; Trumpist/neo-nazi memes are popping up in Canada; and, of course, Brexit has destabilized the UK.

      Had anyone told me a few years ago I would ever type that paragraph, I would have bought myself a tinfoil hat. But it’s true.

      We need to strike back hard on all fronts. The great mistake of the Democratic Party was the belief in going high when they go low. (And now is not the time to get derailed by how far right Clinton might be, her ties to Wall Street, the many failures of the DNC campaign, etc.). For all its flaws, the Democratic Party seems to actually believe in constitutional governance and peaceful transitions and etc., etc. It stood back while their candidate was smeared, talked high-level policy while the Pepe memes spread and the rallies grew, and maintained a faith in dignity while a minority of trash-talking voters put Trump into power.

      We don’t need to go high. We need to squash neo-Nazism and kleptocracy like bugs before they take deep roots here. And that means being all over Kellie Leitch and Kevin O’Leary like dirty shirts, and encouraging our media to report the bullshit, not normalize it.

  7. I suspect the reason that Ken Rowe would take objection to the release would be the increasingly real fear that it might be the start of a list of which of the bastards will be first against the wall when the revolution inevitably comes.

  8. I would like to propose that any new playground built with public money at a school or otherwise, from this day forward, have sections usable by children with disabilities and/or their parents who may he disabled.
    “But I never see a child/parent with andisability at the playground”.- commenter

    “Duh”- PVienneau

  9. Board of Police Commissioners meets at 12:30 pm today. Easy to miss because the listing is in all blue letters rather than the usual highlighted colour.

    1. There was an “if necessary” on the agenda page. I didn’t think it was necessary, but may be wrong about that. I can’t go in any event, as I have a conflicting appointment.

  10. The open government report looks good and I am hopeful. I note it was written last August, hopefully now it will gain some steam.

    1. Let’s also keep in mind the city (province and federal government) has a long list of communication specialists whose only goal is to make government less transparent.

      A wonderful sleight of hand. Claim openness but control the message to the public at every turn. We can demand more.