1. Audits

“The municipality has failed to completely implement more than half of the recommendations made by its auditor general between 2014 and 2016, and it’s unclear what percentage of the recommendations made before that were implemented,” reports Zane Woodford for StarMetro Halifax:

Auditor general Evangeline Colman-Sadd presented a report to regional council’s Audit and Finance Standing Committee on Wednesday following up on her office’s reports between March 2014 and January 2016.

The report said 54 per cent of the 26 general recommendations from her office’s nine reports over that time period have not been fully addressed.

Those reports covered issues ranging from the $17-million Washmill Lake Court Extension project — which came in $10 million over budget — to the fuel leak at Halifax Transit’s facility.

2. Cannabis and racism

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Yesterday was the last day of the spring session of the legislature, and as such Bill 108, the Cannabis Control Act, was passed. During debate, Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, the MLA for Cumberland North and a PC leadership candidate, had this to say:

I worry for the future of our province and our country. I grew up surrounded by hard-working people who were clear-mined, sober, and productive. I have a best friend in Amherst who is from Jamaica. She said to me, Elizabeth, smoking marijuana in Jamaica is completely accepted, and there’s a completely different work ethic and very low productivity in Jamaica. I think we already have a productivity problem here in Nova Scotia. We do not need something else making it worse.

You could almost hear Barbara Adams, the PC MLA representing Cole Harbour–Eastern Passage, say, “hold my beer,” when she followed up to Smith-McCrossin:

This one is from an article, it’s from Health World Canada: More than 95 per cent of the world’s population now are already breathing unhealthy air. The only really healthy thing about going to Africa is that I actually got to be in healthy air because they don’t have any industry there to pollute.


Africa’s air pollution is causing more premature deaths than unsafe water or childhood malnutrition, and could develop into a health and climate crisis reminiscent of those seen in China and India, a study by a global policy forum has found.

The first major attempt to calculate both the human and financial cost of the continent’s pollution suggests dirty air could be killing 712,000 people a year prematurely, compared with approximately 542,000 from unsafe water, 275,000 from malnutrition and 391,000 from unsafe sanitation.

While most major environmental hazards have been improving with development gains and industrialisation, outdoor (or “ambient particulate”) air pollution from traffic, power generation and industries is increasing rapidly, especially in fast-developing countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria.

Maybe Adams went to the Serengeti or some such.

Says El Jones:

This kind of anti-Blackness, so casually inserted in debate, is disturbing. As is portraying Black people as lazy and unproductive (if white people are so hard-working why did they need us as slaves?).

Smith-McCrossin issued one of those “if I offended you” apologies, reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

“Had I known that this statement would have caused offense, I would never have made it,” she wrote.

“I would have said the same about the impact of heavy cannabis use on any country, but because of this particular conversation, it happened to be Jamaica. I sincerely did not feel that my comments would be viewed in a negative light, but I was wrong.”

Smith-McCrossin went on to say she is open to meeting with anyone offended by these comments “to better appreciate their perspective and ensure my words are better chosen in future.”

I fear — I hope I’m wrong — that these kind of statements are made purposefully, as a signifier to a certain kind of resentment that right-wing politicians have learned plays well. There is, I fear, a line that runs from Donald Trump to Doug Ford to Matt Whitman to John Lohr to Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, and in at least the first two examples, it works.

3. Deconstructing Cecil Clarke and Business Cape Breton

“This past week,” writes Mary Campbell in the Cape Breton Spectator, “we’ve heard Municipal Affairs Minister Derek Mombourquette, CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke, District 8 Councilor Amanda McDougall, BCB board chair Parker Rudderham, CBRM Economic Development Manager John Phalen and (former) BCB CEO Eileen Lannon Oldford explain what is going on with economic development funding in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and it’s all about as clear as the tar ponds circa 1975.”

Campbell goes on to deconstruct the long and complex history of Business Cape Breton (BCB), the “un-elected board of businesspeople” that somehow landed a bunch of public money to unconvincingly claim they were doing something related to economic development. BCB closed up operations when funding dried up at the end of last month.

“This is a desperately boring story, full of what BCB board chair Parker Rudderham would no doubt term ‘bureaucratics,’” writes Campbell, “but to me it is important because it highlights just how weird the CBRM’s relationship with BCB was. Mayor Clarke never clearly articulated what being the CBRM’s designated economic development arm or ‘entity’ meant. It sounded like BCB was to become the CBRM’s economic development department, which would have had the advantage of making them accountable to the public, like other CBRM departments, but it actually meant no such thing. BCB has never been subject to access to information requests — that’s why, although we paid her salary for years, we have no idea how much [BCB CEO Eileen] Lannon Oldford made; that wasn’t public information.”

This is the kind of into-the-weeds journalism Campbell excels at, and it’s an immense public service. Campbell ends with this:

I also have a sense it’s considered rude to point out that Eileen Lannon Oldford hired Cecil Clarke at CBCEDA (BCB’s predecessor organization) in 2011, after he’d lost his bid for Mark Eyking’s parliamentary seat. Clarke was hired without any job competition on a three-year contract at an annual salary of $139,000. He was hired as a “senior executive adviser on economic development issues.” Lannon Oldford got the funding for the position from Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation (ECBC).

In 2011, Marlene Usher was executive director general of ECBC, in which position she was responsible for “oversee[ing] and coordinat[ing] the complete range of community economic development programs and services on CB Island and Mulgrave…”

As CBRM mayor, Clarke has kept Lannon Oldford’s organization afloat, even as the province and the feds cut funding to it. He also, in 2015, helped engineer the hiring of Usher as CEO of the Port of Sydney Development Corporation at a salary of $200,000 a year, without the botheration of a job competition.

In terms of their own, personal, economic development, I would say all three have performed brilliantly in a region where, according to Stats Canada, median total income in 2015 was $28,230. If only they’d figured out a way to scale their system to include the rest of the island.

Click here to read “Parsing the Business Cape Breton Post-Mortems.”

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
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4. Dartmouth homicide

Yesterday, police announced that they had charged 68-year-old Joseph Noel Landry of Dartmouth with second degree murder for the death of  Darren Reid.

5. Non-breach defence

“While an online legal defence fundraiser gains steam, the 19-year-old accused in the Nova Scotia freedom-of-information scandal has secured legal help from one of Canada’s leading experts in privacy law,” reports Jack Julian for the CBC. “David Fraser of the firm McInnes Cooper in Halifax has confirmed he’ll assist with the teenager’s legal defence.”

6. Kleenex

Right whale #1142 taking a breath at the surface, just as the arrow approaches the entangling rope around her upper jaw. Photo: Center for Coastal Studies, NOAA permit #18786.

“Marine biologists are on the lookout for one of the most productive North Atlantic right whales left in the world, after an apparently unsuccessful attempt to free it from thick rope,” reports Alison Auld for the Canadian Press:

Heather Pettis of the New England Aquarium said the team spotted the older whale — named Kleenex — near Stellwagen Bank off Boston last week and decided to try to cut a length of yellow rope that was snarled around the upper portion of its mouth and near its blow hole.

Pettis said the whale, which has given birth to eight calves over several decades, appeared thin and in poor health, raising concerns that the species could be losing an animal that is responsible for 22 right whale descendants.

It’s estimated that Kleenex is the mother, grandmother or great-grandmother of nearly five per cent of the remaining 430 North Atlantic right whales.

“She’s got a reproductive span of 32 years, so she’s a really important animal in the population,” she said in an interview. “She is in the top six reproductive females in the history of what we know about this population.”

7. Agave

Photo: HRM

“Residents are invited to visit the Halifax Public Gardens to witness the blooming process of one of the municipality’s largest Agave americana plants, also known as a century plant,” reads a city press release:

The Halifax Public Gardens has been home to this Agave plant for more than two decades. 

These plants are monocarpic, meaning the plant will die after the flowering process concludes. The stalk is growing approximately six inches per day and is expected to reach a height of up to 30 feet. The entire blooming process is expected to last a number of weeks.

That’s a wonderful use of public money. More cool plants, fewer convention centres, please.




Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — Fred Morley, Halifax’s most successful C student, will discuss Airbnb.

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — no action items on the agenda.

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (HPPAC) Meeting (Thursday, 6:30pm, Harbour Suites A/B, The Westin Nova Scotian) — you’re going to get that Wellington Street development whether you want it or not. Judging by the architectural renderings, they’re going to put all the utility wires underground.


No public meetings.


No meetings today or Friday.

On campus



Pertussis Resurgent: Why Incidence is Rising and Why the Accepted Explanation is Both Compelling and Wrong (Thursday, 10am, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building Link) — Aaron King from the University of Michigan will speak.

Building Belonging: Embedding Indigenous Content and Ways of Knowing in Learning and Teaching (Wednesday, 10am, Room 307, Student Union Building) —campus leaders Diana Lewis, Margaret Robinson, and Margot Latimer will talk about Indigenizing post-secondary education.

Search Engines (Thursday, 11:30am, Auditorium, Goldberg Computer Science Building) —  Daniel Russell, the “Über Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness for Google,” is still in town. Let’s hope his self-driving car doesn’t run over someone. On Thursday he’s going on about “Search Is Not Yet A Solved Problem For Systems Or Searchers” or some such babble.

Fear of Missing Out, Social Media Engagement, Smartphone Addiction and Distraction: The Role of Mobile Applications-based Interventions (Thursday, 1:30pm, auditorium, Goldberg Computer Science Building) —  Bobby Swar from Concordia University of Edmonton will speak.

Combinatorial Structures Through Algebraic Lenses (Thursday, 2:30pm, Colloquium Room 319) — Tai Ha from Tulane University will speak. His abstract:

We shall discuss an algebraic approach to investigate a number of important invariants and structures in graph theory and integer linear programming. Particularly, we shall focus on how to compute the chromatic numbers, how to recognize the existence of odd cycles in graphs, and how to detect integer linear programming systems with packing and max-flow-min-cut properties.​

Trends in Successful Resuscitation after Cardiac Arrest under Trending Misclassification Error: Estimating Bounds for Partially Verified Data (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 2107, Mona Campbell Building) — Arthur Sweetman from McMaster University will speak.

Sexualized Violence and Trauma-informed Practice Workshop (Thursday, 4pm, Theatre B, Tupper Medical Building) — a workshop from the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre on ways that sexualized violence manifests in communities, the neurobiology of trauma, and the principles of trauma-informed practice and response. If you want to go, email Kelsey Mann at


Thesis Defence, Earth Sciences (Friday, 10am, Room 8007, Life Sciences Centre) — Master’s student Taylor Jane Campbell will defend her thesis, “Seismic Stratigraphy and Architecture of the Jurassic Abenaki Margin, at Cohasset-Migrant, and Potential for Distal Organic-rich Facies.”

New Solid State NMR Research from Dalhousie University and Beyond (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Ulrike Werner-Zwanziger will speak.

In the harbour

6am: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algeciras, Spain
6am: Pantonio, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
6:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
10:30am: Sagittarius Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
2pm: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, arrives at Pier 25 from Montreal
9:30pm: Sagittarius Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea


A short Morning File as I have an early morning appointment.

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

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  1. Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin has great difficulty understanding white privilege. A good exercise for her is to hang out with her Jamaican friend. I think she uses the term ‘best friend’ as misleadingly as she starts sentences with ‘As a Registered Nurse I ….’.

  2. Does the word “corruption” ever appear in polite Canadian conversation? It’s a good, useful word, and sure looks to me like there’s plenty of it, what with all the McNeils crowding around public trough at the Halifax police department and developers and their toady consultants and their friends-of-friends hawking convention centers and stadia and other economic development boondoggles, — and all of the above deftly and persuasively illustrated in the Examiner day after day after day. If I connect all the pieces it looks like the province is rotten to the core, but maybe I’m just cynical. Also, I’m sure things are every bit as rotten here in Portland, Maine — the only place in North America that makes any money on the Yarmouth ferry — but we wouldn’t know because we don’t have a competent adversarial press.

    1. “Does the word ‘corruption’ ever appear in polite Canadian conversation?”

      The word “corruption” is actionable in Canada — it’s considered libellous, if not proven.

  3. Hey Tim – it might be helpful in your notifications about meetings to indicate when the HPPAC meetings are public meetings, and when they’re committee meetings.

    The one tonight is held specifically to get public input on a proposal, to inform the HPPAC about what the public thinks or is concerned about. No decisions are made tonight – not even decisions about recommendations. However, it is *exactly* where people can show up to make their points.

    On the other hand, regular monthly HPPAC meetings don’t allow non-staff to participate (not even proponents, except occasional clarifications), and that’s where the HPPAC’s decisions about their recommendations are made. While they’re open sessions, and it may be interesting for members of the public to attend, they won’t have the opportunity to participate.

    I think it would be valuable to differentiate.

  4. “one of the most successful & rapidly growing human cultures abstains from alcohol as well (I am of course talking about Mormons).”

    wth? that’s a bit of a stretch. i wouldn’t exactly say the Mormons are global superpowers or anywhere close to it …

    that argument doesn’t really work when you look at how non-abstaining countries and cultures in the past were successful and rapidly growing .

    1. Er, you know, there’s a rapidly growing, billion+ strong culture that abstains from alcohol which by any objective measure is very successful. Mormonism also has an impressive relative growth rate, but with a small initial population confined to a few rectangular states and missions in South America the absolute numbers are pretty small. I just singled out Mormons because it’s funny, and it might actually be illegal soon to say anything that isn’t glowingly positive about that other culture – that being said, I have a positive view of that culture and although I have some very heartfelt criticisms of it I admire their success and the legalistic pragmatism of their foundational text.

  5. Interestingly, Rob Ford polls more favourably with people of colour than white people.

    And even though it may be the case that legalizing marijuana is a good idea from a harm reduction and revenue generating perspective, there’s really nothing good to be said about it except as an alternative painkiller & appetite stimulant. The compounds in it that have been shown to have real health benefits are only weakly psychoactive at best, and could easily be isolated and used as medicine by themselves. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing good to be said about alcohol, so there’s that.

    I would expect a culture that smokes a lot of the devil’s lettuce to be unproductive compared to a more sober culture – one of the most successful & rapidly growing human cultures abstains from alcohol as well (I am of course talking about Mormons). There’s a good argument to be made that a lot of ‘productivity’ isn’t actually useful, however, and in many areas of ‘productivity’, we’ve long ago reached negative returns: Do we need more addictive smartphone games, thinner TVs, faster cars, bigger houses or more complicated financial instruments? The world would probably be a better place if we instituted a minimum blood THC level for Silicon Valley and Wall Street, but that’s only an extension of the fact that the world would be better off without those places & their cultures.

    The very ideas of ‘better’ and ‘worse’ depend on your values – it’s possible to engage in a neverending cycle of relativism.

    Mainhannah, did you mean to say that the Jamacians are working jobs that Nova Scotians won’t do for the wages & under the conditions that their employers are offering? I’m sure there’s some qualified person in India, China or Africa that would happily do your job for less too.

    It’s amazing that we’ve gone from the ownership caste pitting people of different ethnicities against each other by stoking racist sentiments, to the ownership caste getting people to advocate for the ownership caste’s preferred policies to prove how Not Racist they are.

  6. “Had I known that this statement would have caused offense, I would never have made it.”

    Perhaps there could be an extra seat or two made available for MLA’s in HRM Council’s cultural/racial sensitivity training?

  7. On Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin
    This page gives statistics on temporary foreign workers in Canada. In 2015, the last year for which data is available, 1,103 Jamaican nationals were working these jobs. But of course they can’t vote, so apparently politicians can just call them lazy, despite the fact they are working long hours in physical work, that we won’t do….

    I can also point to Karen Foster’s work on productivity and prosperity– basically, there is no evidence that in 2018, increasing ‘productivity’ in a society makes ordinary citizens better off. I don’t know if we have a so-called ‘productivity problem’ in Nova Scotia– but if we do, does it really matter?

  8. Oooo. Maybe we can make the agave into Tequila to go with the ‘reefer madness’. Perhaps there’d be political concerns that we’d forgoe our Sou’westers for sombreros.