1. Prison violence

The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Photo: Halifax Examiner Credit: Halifax Examiner

Michael Tutton reports for the Canadian Press:

It’s 26 seconds of brutality — and lays bare the emerging reality of a growing number of beatings in Canada’s jails.

Inmate Dwayne Wright, watching television with his feet up, is suddenly sucker-punched from behind by another inmate. A video of the attack shows him falling to the floor, his shoes flying off, as he tries to cover his face from a series of head shots.

His attacker, Charles Wallace, finishes with six soccer kicks to the 34-year-old Wright’s head, and calmly resumes pacing and chatting with another inmate.

The video shows the other inmates at Halifax’s Central Nova Scotia Correctional facility take little notice, while guards never enter the room.

Some prison advocates and lawyers say such violence is the new normal: Prisons that installed video technology in hopes it would decrease violence find they now instead often serve to document a disturbing long-term rise in beatings that can cause fatalities, brain injuries and lifelong trauma.

The last decade has seen a steady surge in prison beatings, with annual inmate-on-inmate assault in federal prisons growing 93 per cent from 301 a year in 2006-7 to 581 in 2014-15, according to Ivan Zinger, director of the federal Correctional Investigator’s office, using Correctional Services Canada data.

The video, which graphically shows the violence, is posted on the Toronto Star’s site, along with Tutton’s article.

2. The delusion continues, part 1

Construction continues on the Grafton Street Glory Hole. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Last week, I reported that the International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology had cancelled its planned Halifax convention because the opening of the new convention centre is behind schedule. Since then, I’ve learned that the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans has also cancelled its planned convention:

The International Foundation was recently notified that the new convention center in Halifax will not be open in time to host the 50th Annual Canadian Employee Benefits Conference. Unfortunately, the existing conference center does not have the capacity to effectively host the program. 

The International Foundation Canadian Board and staff are diligently working on finding an alternate location that will deliver the premier education experience you expect. Additional details will be posted as soon as they are available. ​

I’m told the Halifax convention has been planned for five years, and so right now the organization is A) scrambling to find a new venue and B) pissed at Halifax.

3. The delusion continues, part 2

Because it will never exist, the so-called “Novaporte” in Sydney will look nothing like this schematic supposedly representing it.

“Ports America has signed on board as operator for the proposed port development at Sydney Harbour and will work with the other project partners on its design and marketing and then the running of the port,” reports Nancy King for the Cape Breton Post:

Ports America and Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP) announced the agreement Monday. Harbor Port Development Partners was given the exclusive rights by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in June 2015 to promote undeveloped land near Sydport as the future home of the Novaporte container terminal and Novazone logistics park. It registered its newly rebranded name Sydney Harbour Investment Partners on Oct. 19.

Huh, so there are lots of details, eh? Well, no:

[Peter Ford, chief strategy officer with Ports America] wouldn’t disclose details of the financial arrangement between Ports America and SHIP, but said, “we absolutely have skin in the game.”

Maritime Executive, a shipping industry newsletter, also interviewed Ford:

Peter Ford, Ports America’s chief strategy officer, said that the port would have multiple advantages over its southern competitors. “Geographically, it [would be] the first stop for vessels on the Great Circle Route from Europe and Asia via the Suez. It has abundant land, an adjacent 1,200-acre logistics park and is located in a foreign trade zone. Add to that abundant power, road and rail, as well as a skilled work force, and you have the makings of an East Coast gateway for the next generation of super ships,” Ford said.

Let’s take those claims one at a time:

1. “Geographically, it [would be] the first stop for vessels on the Great Circle Route from Europe and Asia via the Suez” — as I’ve said repeatedly, being the closest port to Europe is a disadvantage, not an advantage.

2. “It has abundant land, an adjacent 1,200-acre logistics park” — sure, but as Paul Schneidereit noted a while back: “since no container terminal now exists in Sydney, a huge initial investment, often cited as half-a-billion dollars, would be needed just to establish the harbourside facilities.”

3. “located in a foreign trade zone” — I’ll let Mary Campbell deconstruct this:

I’ve already touched on the question of creating a free trade zone in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (it’s been done before; it didn’t work). But since writing that last piece, I’ve discovered that in June of 2015, the Harper government declared two Free Trade Zones in Alberta – the Calgary Region Inland Port and Port Alberta, in Edmonton. They joined Canada’s only other FTZ – the port of Winnipeg, and I, personally, can’t wait to book a cruise to all three.

But before we (as in, those of us with actual ports) get upset about not having been honored with such a designation, we should note that the former government’s definition of FTZ didn’t make it sound all that enticing:

An FTZ Point is a strategic location identified for international trade and foreign direct investment which is uniquely supported by a single-point of access to information on relevant government policies and programs.

See what I mean? Not very exciting and, to judge by the latest news, not a great shot in the arm for the Western economy either.

4. “abundant power, road and rail” — rail? RAIL? What is Peter Ford smoking?

5. “a skilled work force” — nothing against the good folks of Cape Breton, but they have zero experience in operating a port, although I imagine there might be a few crane operators around.

There is a gigantic scam in the works, and it preys on desperate people who understandably want jobs and who will uncritically believe any sales pitch that promises jobs, no matter how implausible the scheme.

The ask here is something like a half-billion dollars to build a port facility itself, and another billion or so to upgrade the next-to-nonexistent rail line, build highways, and so forth, then an ongoing annual subsidy of tens of millions of dollars… Some of that money might actually be spent, because governments lack the backbone to say no in the face of citizen delusion. But in the end, the port project will be a spectacular failure, bigger even than the Heavy Water Plant or the Commonwealth Games. As usual, however, a handful of grifters will make out like, well, bandits.

4. The hilarity continues

5. School closing

Your preferred school closing strategy sucks.


1. Carrie Best

Last week, Examiner contributor Evelyn White wrote about how Black journalist Carrie Best championed the struggle of Viola Desmond.

Today, in Local Xpress, reporter Leslie Smith recounts her interaction with Best in the 1980s:

As we sat in the foyer that night, I still remember the 85-year-old Dr. Best fixing her penetrating gaze on me and asking me what I planned to do to foster racial equality. She meant me personally, not just me as a journalist.

I was a little nervous as I wrote up my story for the next day’s paper. Would the story be substantially cut, or even be published? If it wasn’t, I knew there would be hell to pay. I could just hear Dr. Best’s piercing voice reprimanding me.

I had reason to worry, because such topics were an uphill battle in the 1980s. An in-depth story I had written — indeed, been assigned to write — about “black” music and black musicians in Halifax was very nearly not published because I had discovered the obvious: that there was indeed at that time blatant discrimination by some very well-known club owners against musicians of colour. The owner of one very prominent bar told me that it didn’t matter that he only very rarely hired black musicians to perform in his bar because “all rock ’n’ roll is black music anyway.”

2. Citadel Hill

The River Cafe in Calgary’s Princes Island Park.

Citadel Hill is mostly wasted space, writes Tristan Cleveland:

Here’s just a few ideas I’ve heard to make it a part of city life: community gardens, an orchard, vineyards, slides, coffee stands, campfires, a big public veranda for watching sunsets, a winter carnival, and toboggan races. With that much land, in that location, there’s a lot we could do.

On top of Citadel Hill, the views are breathtaking. We need events, vendors — something — to make that view part of the daily routine. If we could work with Parks Canada to give residents free access to the fortress, just imagine the kinds of activities we could hold in that space.

I’ve long thought urban parks (as opposed to wilderness parks) are under-developed. Even mostly wild parks like Point Pleasant Park and Shubie Park have shown that the presence of canteens, food trucks, and coffee shops at the entrances can enhance the user experience. Tim Rissesco reminds me this morning that I’ve argued for a cafe or similar on the Dartmouth Common, a place where people could have dessert and coffee or wine and watch the sunset over the harbour, which Rissesco compares to Calgary’s River Cafe.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

In a letter to the editor (“National bird ruffles feathers,” Dec. 6), the writer feels that the Canada goose should have been chosen over the elusive Gray Jay as our national bird. 

She uses an odd analogy, likening the Canada goose to the maple leaf as a distinct Canadian symbol: “…a maple tree drops its leaves every fall, yet the maple leaf remains our national symbol.” It could be added here that the Canada goose’s droppings are not so symbolic or seasonal, and which many find foul (as opposed to fowl). Hence the Canada goose is cooked, especially around golf courses and other public places they habituate.

David MacCallum, Charlottetown



Halifax Regional Council (10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. I’m trying to make it over as soon as possible, but due to some personal business I probably won’t arrive until after the lunch break. When I get there, I’ll be live-blogging via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer


No public meetings.

On campus


Subsumption Architecture (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) —  Tomasz Tajmajer, from the University of Warsaw, will speak on “Deep Reinforcement Learning with Subsumption Architecture for Embodied Agents.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:15am Tuesday. Map:

5am: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
7am: Nanny, oil tanker, arrives at Pier 9 (Wilson Fuels) from Come By Chance, Newfoundland
3:30pm: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4pm: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal

4:30am: Performance, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Damietta, Egypt
5:30am: Elektra, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Liverpool, England
6am: Hollandia, general cargo, arrives at Pier 31 from Mariel, Cuba
1pm: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba


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

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  1. I agree – sort of – with Tristan about Citadel Hill. Like a lot of people, I live near it but have never actually been on it except once on a school trip over a decade ago. The old star fortress is certainly worth preserving, but for example why couldn’t we have a farmers market or something in it, maybe just during the summer?

    It might mean less tourist dollars but it would make life in Halifax better (which of course will drive up housing costs and fuel gentrification). However I disagree with the idea of using much of the space on the grassy hillside itself (except for tobogganing in the winter…) because there’s something amazing and luxurious about such a huge expanse of empty grass (except for the people reading, etc on it) in the middle of the city. It’s like that old “Bliss” wallpaper that shipped with Windows XP – there’s a reason Microsoft chose a soft, plain grassy hill – it’s simply nice to look at.

  2. The Local Xpress article says that Canderel of Montreal is involved. God help them, ask the people of Windsor, Ontario about Canderel developments.

    I was living in Windsor then, and a member of the Press Club which was one of many businesses/organizations being evicted because of their wonderful development — set in motion by municipal expropriation as the landowners didn’t want to sell. It destroyed a block of heritage buildings,. It was all plainly bullshit from the start, and it indeed proved to be bullshit in the long run. Windsor was stuck with essentially a parking garage instead of the heritage buildings and that on a site with the best placement and view on the Detroit River.

    Just the name Canderel attached to a deal sets off my bullshit detector, quite apart from all the very legitimate points Tim raises.

  3. On the Chronicle Horrid, I bet the advertisements are properly proofread. The other stuff is just filler in between the ads.