On campus
In the harbour


1. Police restructuring

Police chief Jean-Michel Blais announced a major shakeup of police brass yesterday at the police commission meeting. He followed it up with a press release:

Halifax Regional Police (HRP) is pleased to announce a new structure for its senior management team.

Jean-Michel Blais
Jean-Michel Blais

For the past several months, we have been working to restructure the organization of the senior officer portion of our management team so that it that will eventually be comprised of four non-union ranks, including Chief, Deputy Chief, Superintendents and Inspectors – a rank structure that’s similar to other Canadian police agencies. 

To achieve this structure, we:

  • Made three Superintendent positions more all-encompassing and with broader responsibilities in three work areas – Patrol Division under the command of Superintendent Robin McNeil, Criminal Investigation Division under the responsibility of Superintendent Jim Perrin and the Administration Division under the command of Superintendent Brenda Young.
  • Realigned the remaining four Superintendent positions, who will continue to be an integral part of our Executive Management Team:

–   Superintendent Don MacLean will become the new Human Resources Officer

–   Superintendent Sean Auld will become the new Operational Planning Officer

–   Superintendent Cliff Falkenham will become the new Operations Support Officer

–   Superintendent Colleen Kelly will become the Executive Officer to the Chief

  • Created four new Inspector roles that will fill the newly created Information Management Officer position and three existing divisional commander positions. We are currently conducting a competition from among Staff Sergeants and Sergeants who qualified and applied for the Inspector position.

The above changes will be gradually phased in to allow for a seamless transition during the months of April and May. The restructuring of our management team will allow us to be more strategic in our policing approach in alignment with our newly developed 2015-2025 Strategic Plan which will be rolled out over the next several months.

At the meeting, Blais handed out paperwork showing the restructuring would cost just over $900,000 over the next five years. He said that those costs would be covered by the police operating budget, but that’s just a kind of fiction: all police costs are fungible, and the overall budget, including the costs of restructuring, is approved by city council.

Stephen Adams. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Stephen Adams. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The Chronicle Herald’s Dan Arsenault reports that councillor Stephen Adams is opposed to the restructuring:

The union representing officers has previously said it dislikes the restructuring, and Adams said he isn’t happy that Blais apparently started setting up new positions and talked to individual officers about the moves before they have been approved by the police board.

“I cannot, in good conscience, support the budget at council,” Adams (Spryfield-Sambro Loop-Prospect Road) said in an interview outside the meeting room.

“As opposed to having two extra managers, I still think there should be individuals dedicated to cybercrime. I just don’t agree.”

Council will vote on the budget April 28.

2. Hit and run

A police release to reporters:

On the 13th of April at 6:30 pm, the Halifax Regional Police responded to the area of Division St and Bedford Highway for a motor vehicle hit and run accident involving a bicyclist.  The adult female bicyclist was biking on the Bedford Highway near Division St when her bike was struck from behind, causing her to be thrown from her bike. The vehicle involved fled the area and currently no available description of the vehicle or the driver. The female cyclist was transported by EHS to hospital for assessment and later released with no major injuries.  Several passerby’s stopped to assist this cyclist however they did not witness the accident.

The matter is still under investigation and the Halifax Regional Police would request if anyone witnessed this accident or has information on the accident to please contact police at 902-490-5020 or Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), submitting a secure web tip at or texting a tip – Tip 202 + your message to 274637.

3. Students

Twenty students occupied Finance Minister Diana Whalen’s constituency office yesterday, protesting increases in tuition.

4. Douchebag

Kirill Bichutsky, douchebag
Kirill Bichutsky, douchebag

Some douchebag named Kirill Bichutsky was going to come to Halifax and show up at The Argyle to take pictures of drunken young women and somehow profit off objectifying them on his website. Bichutsky’s appearance sparked outrage on social media, and Argyle owner Chris Tzaneteas barred Bichutsky from the premises:

“Some folks that called said, ‘Just go on his Twitter account and kind of see who he is all about.’ Which I did, and I found some alarming and offensive tweets,” Tzaneteas told CBC News on Monday. 

“I said, ‘Whoa, OK, I’ve got a daughter, I’ve got a young son.’ I definitely don’t want their dad ever promoting anybody who has these kinds of values.”

5. Courthouses

The Liberals are closing seven rural courthouses, reports the CBC’s Alex Carter:

The plan was announced as a way for the province to save money. The affected locations — courts in Barrington, Comeauville, Liverpool, Lunenburg, Port Hood, Guysborough and Baddeck — are only staffed part-time, and are often only used a few times a month.

Many of the locations are housed in rented buildings and community halls and their closing should save the province nearly $500,000.

Local defence lawyer Michael Taylor says the decision will hurt many people in the court system.

“They don’t have a lot of time to travel. They don’t have cars. They’re not on a transit system. And now they may have to travel an hour and a half or two hours to get to a 9:30 [a.m.] court appearance. That’s going to be very difficult for a lot of people,” he said.


1. The film tax credit and the S-word

Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Screen Nova Scotia has announced a “massive rally” for tomorrow outside Province House, from noon to 7pm:

The many facets of our industry will be on display during the rally, and we will be featuring a cast of many well-know characters and speakers with important messages. The event will — of course — be filmed!

This rally will no doubt be the best looking group of demonstrators ever to appear at Province House, and the craft table will be to die for.

The rally is of course in protest of the announced cuts to the film tax credit.

So far, premier Stephen McNeil is holding firm. “I understand why people affected by the change are not happy,” he told the Canadian Press Friday. “We don’t have the capacity to write a blank cheque [for the film industry]”

Typically, in the top-down decision-making structure that has come to define the political parties, when the premier, as leader of the party, takes a public stand on an issue, that’s the end of it. But over the last couple of days Liberal Party backbenchers have openly opposed their own government’s cut to the FTC, reports the Chronicle Herald’s Michael Gorman:

Patricia Arab
Patricia Arab

There is behind-the-scenes lobbying from within the Liberal party and government to hit pause on changes to the film tax credit, according to multiple sources.


“It’s a lot of worry as to what’s going to happen to the industry,” Fairview-Clayton Park Liberal MLA Patricia Arab said of the comments she’s hearing.


Halifax Chebucto Liberal MLA Joachim Stroink said he’s had “a large number” of responses on the change and he’s compiling them to forward to [Finance Minister Diana] Whalen.


Halifax Atlantic Liberal MLA Brendan Maguire was doing door-to-door canvasing on Sunday. His riding includes many people who work in film and Maguire said he heard many concerns.

“This is probably the No. 1 thing that I’m hearing about,” he said. “There were some good things in that budget so this has definitely overshadowed the entire budget.”

Even Halifax mayor and former Liberal MLA Mike Savage has ever-so-gently criticized the changes to the FTC:

I am reticent to challenge the decisions of other governments as they grapple with tough action…But I think this plan needs to be adjusted.

Some Liberal Party supporters have argued that the provincial party and the national party are distinct, and so potential Liberal candidates in the upcoming federal election shouldn’t have to answer to the changes the provincial party made to the FTC. This is disingenuous — the provincial party web page proudly commingles the national and provincial party executives. But regardless of whatever tiny distinctions party supporters want to make, the public isn’t buying it. Here’s how my neighbour Charlene put it:

LOL! Federal Liberals are canvassing in Downtown Dartmouth [Sunday]… I opened the door and saw the little L buttons and I was like… “You guys have your work cut out for you today… After the budget that was just dropped… There is no way I want to talk to you.” They quickly tried to reassure me by telling me they were from the Federal Liberals… which are different than the provincial… and I said, “It’s all Lies Lies Lies! I will be voting Green in the next Federal Election thank you.”

I don’t live far from Charlene, but for some reason the Liberal canvassers didn’t knock on my door.

I’m hearing similar reactions to the Liberal canvassers all across town. And after film industry reps said they’d use Justin Trudeau’s planned visit to the Masstown Market in Truro to protest cuts to the FTC, Trudeau found an excuse to cancel the event.

In short, the Liberals are wearing the cuts to the FTC, and it may have cost them the chance to displace the NDP MPs in Nova Scotia.

When finance minister Diana Whalen first hinted at changes to the FTC a couple of weeks ago, I was somewhat ambivalent:

Any discussion of the tax code demands honesty and consistency. We shouldn’t have one set of rules for certain people just because we like those people, and a different set of rules for others. I’ve long been critical of the payroll rebates — typically for about seven percent of payroll costs — dished out by Nova Scotia Business, Inc. In defence of those rebates, NSBI trots out an argument that sounds an awful lot like what were now hearing from the film industry: the company will pay lots more in taxes than the rebate, the company will generate lots of economic activity, etc.

When the budget was dropped and we learned of the radical changes to the FTC, I found the cuts too steep, too quick, and faulted the Liberals for the lack of consultation with the industry.

Had the Liberals taken a softer course — say, by announcing they needed to reverse the previous NDP government’s increase (from 35 percent to 50 percent) because it was too generous, and they’d work with the industry on a five-year plan to tighten the credit — there would still had been complaints from the industry, but nothing like the political disaster the Liberals have brought upon themselves.

But all that said, the issue has been troubling me because I still want honesty and consistency, yet I hadn’t, before this morning, been able to find it in my own thoughts.

The Trailer Park Boys live in trailers on TV. In real life they have big fancy houses.
The Trailer Park Boys live in trailers on TV. In real life they have big fancy houses.

I don’t want to go all Frank Magazine on you, but there is something unseemly about the millionaire Trailer Park Boys complaining about not getting enough of a tax subsidy. On the other hand, I think Lezlie Lowe and her husband Kevin Lewis are sincere when they say that if the cuts aren’t reversed they’ll have to leave the province for Lewis to find work (presumably they’d take their kids, too). Undoubtedly there are lots of far-less successful people in the industry who will be even more profoundly affected.

On the, I don’t know, third hand or a foot or something, there’s that intellectual dualism in opposing subsidies to banks and convention centres but supporting them for the film industry. I get that the film industry subsidy animal — which was democratically decided in the legislature and is open to all who qualify — is different than the banking industry subsidy animal — which is given to favoured corporations by unelected bureaucrats in backroom deals — but while they may be different species, they’re in the same genus.

I guess I was mulling over all these contradictions in my sleep, because I woke up realizing I’ve been thinking about this all wrong: The disconnect is intentional.

The changes to the film tax credit are just part of the whole Liberal budget, and much of the budget reflects the radical changes called for in Laurel Broten’s review of the province’s tax structure. That document calls for shifting the tax burden off the ultra wealthy and onto the working class. Here’s how Broten explained why the wealthy should get a tax break:

As the Ivany Commission emphasized, innovation and risk taking hold vital keys
to a prosperous economic future in Nova Scotia. The OECD points out that high
top marginal tax rates reduce the payoff for risk taking, so reducing them should boost entrepreneurship and innovative activity in the economy. A boost to entrepreneurship—rewarding risk-takers, dreamers, doers, and builders—is exactly what Nova Scotia needs, and another emphasis of the Ivany report. Nova Scotia needs more people who will stay here or come here to create jobs, strengthen the economy, and build a prosperous future. An important way to do that is to rebalance the risk-reward imperative. This recommendation will provide $36 million in annual tax relief to Nova Scotians.

Broten also wanted to “bring Nova Scotia’s maximum credit rate in line with Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. Except for documentaries, out-of-province filming should not qualify for the tax credit.” 

Laurel Broten
Laurel Broten

Right at this moment, there are a slew of readers saying “Wait a minute! Those two things are contradictory! Filmmakers are risk-takers, dreamers, doers, and builders!” And of course the millionaire Trailer Park Boys are, well, among the ultra wealthy that the “tax relief” is aimed at.

So what’s going on? The only way to make sense of this is to understand that Broten’s report and the Liberal budget are austerity politics in action. There’s no delicate way to say this: the point of the budget is to fundamentally skew the political and economic order in favour of the wealthy, and in particular in favour of the finance industry. And that will be accomplished by looting the place. The future is no concern here. We’ll dismantle government programs, privatize what’s left (the Liberals are seriously considering privatizing the DMV), sell off all assets to the highest bidder, cut taxes on the rich, slash the social safety net, bust the unions, and corporatize the universities. This is the agenda. It’s been playing out ever since Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and the financial collapse has been used as the excuse to ramp up the disaster capitalism. The finance industry has won, and most governments in the western world are doing its bidding. Austerity wears a lot of costumes, but the naked truth is it’s the powerful grabbing the few crumbs that were left for the rest.

In the scheme of an austerity budget the film tax credit is a cost, money that’s not going to the powerful. It doesn’t matter that it might help the economy. Austerity politics isn’t about helping the economy. It doesn’t even matter that the film tax credit might help millionaires like the Trailer Park Boys. The Trailer Park Boys might be rich, but they’re not the right kind of rich. Get back to us, boys, when you can short a billion dollar derivative trade.

Which brings me to the S-word: Solidarity.

“We will need your support to stage this production! ” reads the Screen Nova Scotia press release about tomorrow’s demonstration outside Province House. “Please bring your family, friends, and supporters – this production needs as many extras as possible!”

OK, it’s great that film industry people are so popular, that no doubt thousands of “extras” will show up, and it’s great that my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of people coming in support of the industry.

But I can’t help wondering: where was the film industry when the Liberals came after the nurses?

When the NSGEU demonstrated outside Province House last year, no filmmakers joined them.
When the NSGEU demonstrated outside Province House last year, no filmmakers joined them.

I want the film industry to be successful in its present fight, but can we add a touch of hate at Rome? Film industry supporters should see the bigger picture. They’ve been targeted by the same politics of austerity that has targeted university students and union members. The film industry is now in its moment of need, and is calling on the public to come out in solidarity. Sure. Yes. But solidarity is a two-way street. Let’s put the cuts to the film tax credit in their broader political context.

One aim of the neoliberal agenda is to atomize us, to break the shared community apart into individuals or at best “interest groups” pitted against each other. When students or union members or film people talk only about their own interests, they’re playing right into the hands of the austerity monsters. Yes, it’s important to detail how we personally are affected by the austerity budget, and yes it’s important to ask others to come to our aid, but we need also to come to listen to how austerity affects others and come to their aid.

We’re all in this together.

(direct link to this section)



City council (1pm)—lots of issues on the table today, but more discussion of the Khyber is probably the biggest. I’ll be live-blogging via the Examiner’s twitter account, @hfxExaminer.


Legislature sits (1pm–10pm, Province House)

On campus



Rare-Earth Arsenides (Tuesday, 11am, Chemistry Room 226)—Arthur Mar, from the University of Alberta, will talk about “Homologous series in solid state chemistry: stacking slabs in rare-earth arsenides.” Yea, I don’t either.

Oceanography seminar (Tuesday, 11:30am, LSC, Psychology Wing, Room 5263)—Richard Karsten, from Acadia University, will talk about, I dunno, something about the oceans probably.

In the harbour

The seas off Nova Scotia, 8:30am Tuesday. Map:
The seas off Nova Scotia, 8:30am Tuesday. Map:

Oceanex Sanderling, cargo ship, St. John’s to Pier 36
APL Agate, container ship, Port Said, Egypt to Fairview Cove West
Hector N, oil tanker, Cameron, Texas to Bedford Basin anchorage


Thanks, Mom!

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

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  1. Incisive and honest, as always. Thanks very much. Your major theme about the relationship between government and the corporate elite — and the overwhelming need for solidarity — is exactly right. That can’t be said often enough. As an Occupy sign said, “It’s only a class war when we fight back.”

    But a couple of points trouble me. If you run a business, and it succeeds, aren’t the people involved supposed to make a lot of money? Isn’t that the purpose of most businesses? So why is it not OK for the Trailer Park Boys to do that? And to spend the lolly here, as I assume they mostly do? The Film Tax Credit isn’t a means-tested support program designed for the needy. It’s a incentive program intended to encourage certain businesses. If it makes people wealthy, that’s success.

    Furthermore, incentives are an essential tool of governance. If you want citizens (or businesses, or dog-owners, for that matter) to do something or eschew something, you use incentives. If you want people to pick up after their dogs, you make it easy for them to do so, and you penalize them if they don’t. If you want a stronger college football team, you develop generous athletic scholarships. If you want people to use solar power in Halifax, you create a Solar City program. If you want people to use less gas and emit less carbon, you tax fuels more heavily.

    It doesn’t matter whether you call it a grant, a forgivable loan, a tax credit, a dedicated training program, a subsidy, accelerated depreciation, or a free chicken pot pie: it’s an incentive. If you want a thriving arts scene in a remote European island called Ireland, for instance, you exempt artistic income from income taxes, which Ireland does. If you want a film industry away off on a stony peninsula in the northeastern corner of North America, you make it easy for people to make films there.

    Incentives aren’t inherently reprehensible or praiseworthy. They’re a tool. So the important question is, how are you using them, and to what ends? What kind of society are yu trying to shape? What kinds of activities do you want to support and encourage?

    Nova Scotia has caught all the fish, cut all the trees, been forced out of mining, been largely squeezed out of agriculture, been stripped of the manufacturing that flourished before Confederation. Our natural assets, though, include a great educational system and an incredibly rich cultural endowment. Imagine an island of 147,000 souls that can put 200 terrific fiddlers on stage at the same time. Does that island have a competitive advantage in the music business? Obviously. Well, then, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to turbo-charge that industry, and other cultural industries that are such a natural fit for this province?

    The Danes make a habit of reviewing their industries with ruthless realism, and providing incentives and infrastructure where they will do the most good. As a result, Nova Scotians eat Danish cheese, derive power from Danish windmills and watch Danish container ships travel in and out of their harbours. Why can’t we be as smart as the Danes?

    This is not to say that the Film Tax Credit couldn’t be changed or improved. But if you want to retain the industry, you move cautiously and carefully, consulting and informing yourself as you go. If you don’t do that, your actions say that you don’t really value the industry and its 2000-odd jobs. The industry heard that message very clearly.

    Full disclosure: I have two documentaries on environmental subjects in production. Even with the tax credit, they’ll barely pay me wages. So the loss of the tax credit won’t drive me out of Nova Scotia, but it may well usher me out of the film business. Happily, I have other options, but many people in the industry don’t. If they leave — and what else can they do? — we’ll all be the losers.

  2. You are right… It is the s word solidarity. The damage to all those affected by this austerity budget is great and long lasting. Join the protest.

  3. Re: The S-word.

    Fair enough Tim. I commit to using the time and money I have to get informed about issues and problems of the day and find the courage to speak out and help improve Nova Scotia as a citizen.

    I think you’re looking at an exceptionally good bunch of folks in the ‘film’ industry who do exactly what you’re suggesting and a sincerely doubt you could carve any kind of line between the folks taking up this issue (like Lezlie in your example) and the people in this province who’ve really concerned themselves with speaking out and find solutions for the problems of the day and the shape of things to come.

    I believe it’s the depth and breadth of that experience of the individuals on other issues and fronts that has made their efforts in this lobby so particularly and notably strong. These are people out working on issues and opportunities all the time but never required to form under this flag before. It is hard to miss the feeling of high voltage power in this group and – well, we’ll see how it plays out, now that it’s seen, it’s more likely that it can be mobilized as a group for more causes.

  4. Clearly what’s needed is a concert in support… apparently with Sam Roberts headlining.

  5. The repeated “millionaire Trailer Park Boys” line is problematic, unless you’re privy to their finances. I have absolutely no idea how much money they have or make. Do you? (I do know one of them was at McDonald’s in Timberlea with the family a couple of weekends ago.) As Sarah Dunsworth said on the podcast, it’s the service work that allows most film business people to have the stability to work a couple of months a year on home-grown productions like TPB.

  6. RE: “the millionaire” Trailer Park Boys
    Really? Are they millionaires?
    How many millions do they have? How big are their houses?
    Do they make millions every year, did they make a million one year?
    Do they have a million once you include all of their assets? I’m not sure about that one Tim, even if you felt the need to repeat it over and over. And over.

    Sure, solidarity is a two way street. I’m a student, I’m bending over a little further for Brotten’s Upper Canadian priorities – but I don’t hold it against the hundreds (thousands?) of other people involved in the film industry in this province – who are CERTAINLY NOT MILLIONAIRES – that three people have become marginally successful on the world stage.

    1. Judging by the houses they own, yes, the trailer park boys are millionaires. I thought the line “Undoubtedly there are lots of far-less successful people in the industry who will be even more profoundly affected.” was addressing your point, but I guess I wrote it badly.

    2. I thought the same thing. Whether they are technically millionaires or just close to it, the fact is the other people who create their TV show and movies have been vital to their success and they know it.

      Good question re. why didn’t everyone freak out and rally about the nurses? I’m sure there are a few reasons, one of which is that the nurses just don’t have the same P.R. access and savvy as the entertainment industry does.