Note: We’re gearing up for the annual Halifax Examiner November subscription drive. This year, we’re going to put together an “Ask Us Anything” session, where readers can ask us whatever they want about the Examiner and our work. (If you don’t know what an Ask Me Anything is, read here.) Philip Moscovitch has agreed to host and produce a podcast, collating questions from readers.

Feel free to ask any of us at the Examiner, well, anything. Perhaps you want to ask me something about the Glen Assoun case, or the sausage-making that goes into producing the Examiner. Maybe you want to ask Zane Woodford about covering city politicians. Or ask Joan Baxter about her gold obsession. Or whoever about whatever.

You can email your questions to Philip at; you get extra points for sending a voice memo so we can hear your voice in the podcast. Please get your questions in by October 31.

Thanks much!

1. “COVID refugees”

Anneke van den Hof. Photo: Twitter

“While inter-provincial migration statistics for 2020 won’t be available until early next year, it’s hard to find anyone in Nova Scotia who doesn’t have a story about someone who’s moved to the province over the past three months from big cities like Toronto and Montreal,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Uncontrolled outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus continues to restrict social interaction in those areas to “just family.” Urban pleasures like going out to catch live music and theatre, or to dine with friends and colleagues are becoming distant memories. The Atlantic Bubble’s low COVID infection rate seems to be a factor in the decision of people in all age groups to seek refuge in the East.

Click here to read “‘COVID refugees’: with low numbers of new cases, Nova Scotia is seeing an influx of people avoiding disease hot spots.”

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It’s often my job as editor to find photos to illustrate articles, and so this morning I was hunting around for photos of actor/comedian Joe Cobden. So far as photos go, his Twitter and Facebook accounts are not very useful, and his own website has wonderful attitude, but the photos just don’t work. But I eventually found this trailer for “Brick and Mortar”:

(We could use a bit of mindless humour in these times.)

There are of course downsides to people moving here from away, as the locals say. The first is the effect on housing prices, which we’ll get into in future articles. But the most immediate downside is the risk that some of those people don’t self-isolate as required, reports  for the Cape Breton Post:

As of Oct. 23, the CBRPS has issued 108 violations under the provincial State of Emergency: five under the Emergency Management Act for entering prohibited areas, closed beaches and parks. A total of 103 violations have been laid under the Health Protection Act, three for not self-isolating and the remainder for not social distancing.

The most recent ticket issued was Sept. 25 for an individual reported to not be self-isolating, after arriving back in Sydney from outside of the Atlantic Bubble.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Nova Scotia RCMP has charged 234 people under the Health Protection Act, 53 people under the Emergency Management Act, and five people under the Quarantine Act.

So far in October, Nova Scotia RCMP has charged 13 people under the Health Protection Act.

Heather Fairbairn, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said as of Oct. 23, 2020, overall in Nova Scotia the department is aware that police agencies in the province had issued at least 744 summary offence tickets for failure to comply with sections of the Health Protection Act orders and the Emergency Management Act directive.

In retrospect, the closure of parks and beaches doesn’t appear to have been necessary, but of course no one knew what was going on just then. I remember a reader expressing concern about going on a hike in the woods, because someone ahead on the trail might have brushed against a branch and transferred the virus to the next hiker who brushed against the same branch. With our better understanding of the disease transmission, that now seems a very unlikely scenario.

And most of the summary offence tickets issued recently seem related to large parties held by Acadia and St. FX students. They of course should be following the gathering limitation rules, but thankfully, so far anyway, those parties haven’t contributed to the spread of the disease.

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

That’s because the self-isolation requirement for travellers is working. Over the weekend, three new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Nova Scotia, all related to travel outside the Atlantic Bubble. Two of those cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone (HRM plus Windsor), and the people self-isolated as required, but their travel generated a potential COVID exposure advisory:

Nova Scotia Health Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 on WestJet flight 254 on October 17 from Toronto to Halifax. It departed Toronto at 21:45 pm, landing in Halifax at 12:47 am on Oct. 18. Passengers in rows 1 to 5 seats A, B, C, D are more likely to have had close contact. Passengers in these seats are asked to call 811 for advice and to continue to self-isolate.

It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on these flights may develop symptoms up to, and including, October 31. Those present on this flight but not in the identified rows and seats should continue to self-isolate as required and self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

The third new case “was diagnosed and recovered in another province but is a Nova Scotia resident in the Eastern Zone,” according to the province’s release. It’s unclear, to me anyway, whether (and if so, how) that person contracted the disease in Nova Scotia or not, but the fact that the case is now resolved suggests it’s highly unlikely there’s further spread here.

We now have just six known active cases in the province.

So good on most travellers for self-isolating as required. We should shower them with praise and drop goodies on their porches. But it is worrying that a handful violate the law. Should we get a second wave, it’s probably going to be caused by either travellers violating the self-isolation rule (consider the two French tourists who refused to self-isolate and re-infected Iceland) or travellers exempt from the rule.

But I’m additionally worried that self-isolation isn’t perfect. Travellers must self-isolate, but those in their household who haven’t travelled don’t need to self-isolate and can be out in the world. We may want to revisit that as case numbers rise elsewhere.

2. Accountability

“Accountability,” writes Stephen Kimber, “ain’t what it used to be. Perhaps it never was. But in these days of cascading crises, it’s hard not to notice just who’s missing in action, or acting without accountability, or playing games with their obligation to accountability.”

Kimber uses three examples — the failure of federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to deal with the “moderate livelihood” issue, Premier Stephen McNeil’s refusal to allow legislative committees to work or to even call back the legislature, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “see no evil” approach to the WE scandal.

Click here to read “Accountability ain’t what it used to be.”

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3. Indigenous women in jail

“Last year, 134 Indigenous women were at some point incarcerated in provincial jails — more than double the year before and the highest number in at least four years, according to recently released figures from the Nova Scotia Justice Department,” reports Brooklyn Connolly for the CBC:

Indigenous women represent less than six per cent of the female population in the province. But they accounted for 22 percent of all female inmates in 2019 — the highest proportion since at least 2016, according to the data.

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4. Moderate livelihood fishery

“The First Nations chief behind a small but contentious fishing fleet trapping Nova Scotia lobster outside the regulated season raised concerns on Sunday about Ottawa’s latest bid to quell violent protests by non-Indigenous agitators,” reports Michael MacDonald for the Canadian Press:

Chief Mike Sack of the Sipekne’katik First Nation said he has his doubts about Ottawa’s decision Friday to appoint a “special representative” to mediate talks between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Sack said he’s worried that Allister Surette, a university president and former politician from the area, lacks experience with Indigenous issues and may not have the capacity to be a neutral, third-party troubleshooter.

What’s the explanation for the “moderate livelihood” ruling?

As explained in the Marshall decision:

The accused [Donald Marshall Jr.], a Mi’kmaq Indian, was charged with three offences set out in the federal fishery regulations: the selling of eels without a licence, fishing without a licence and fishing during the close season with illegal nets. He admitted that he had caught and sold 463 pounds of eels without a licence and with a prohibited net within close times. The only issue at trial was whether he possessed a treaty right to catch and sell fish under the treaties of 1760-61 that exempted him from compliance with the regulations. During the negotiations leading to the treaties of 1760-61, the aboriginal leaders asked for truckhouses “for the furnishing them with necessaries, in Exchange for their Peltry” in response to the Governor’s inquiry “Whether they were directed by their Tribes, to propose any other particulars to be Treated upon at this Time”. The written document, however, contained only the promise by the Mi’kmaq  not to “Traffick, Barter or Exchange any Commodities in any manner but with such persons, or the Manager of such Truckhouses as shall be appointed or established by His majesty’s Governor”.  While this “trade clause” is framed in negative terms as a restraint on the ability of the Mi’kmaq to trade with non-government individuals, the trial judge found that it reflected a grant to them of the positive right to bring the products of their hunting, fishing and gathering to a truckhouse to trade. He also found that when the exclusive trade obligation and the system of truckhouses and licensed traders fell into disuse, the “right to bring” disappeared.  The accused was convicted on all three counts.  The Court of Appeal upheld the convictions. It concluded that the trade clause did not grant the Mi’kmaq any rights, but represented a mechanism imposed upon them to help ensure that the peace between the Mi’kmaq and the British was a lasting one, by obviating the need of the Mi’kmaq to trade with the enemies of the British or unscrupulous traders.

However, ruled the court:

There was more to the treaty entitlement than merely the right to bring fish and wildlife to truckhouses.

The surviving substance of the treaty is not the literal promise of a truckhouse, but a treaty right to continue to obtain necessaries through hunting and fishing by trading the products of those traditional activities subject to restrictions that can be justified under the Badger test. What is contemplated is not a right to trade generally for economic gain, but rather a right to trade for necessaries. The treaty right is a regulated right and can be contained by regulation within its proper limits. Catch limits that could reasonably be expected to produce a moderate livelihood for individual Mi’kmaq families at present-day standards can be established by regulation and enforced without violating the treaty right. Such regulations would accommodate the treaty right and would not constitute an infringement that would have to be justified under the Badger standard.

The Badger test, boiled down, is that:

Two key interpretative principles apply to treaties.  First, any ambiguity in the treaty will be resolved in favour of the Indians.  Second, treaties should be interpreted in a manner that maintains the integrity of the Crown, particularly the Crown’s fiduciary obligation toward aboriginal peoples.

Problem is, those regulations have never been established, and here we are.

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No public meetings.



No meetings today.


Human Resources (Tuesday, 9am, Province House) — Department of Education and Early Childhood Development: Cathy Montreuil, Marlene Ruck Simmonds, and Carola Knockwood will discuss the “Achievement Gap.”

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House) — Captain Allan Gray and Thomas Hayes from the Halifax Port Authority will brag about geography.

On campus



Random values of polynomials and random walks on groups (Monday, 3:30pm) — Brad Rogers from Queen’s university will talk.

Littlewood polynomials are polynomials with all coefficients +1 or -1. It is natural to ask what sort of functions can be approximated by these polynomials, with motivations coming from analysis, number theory, and even signal processing. I will explain some of background and recent work around these problems and discuss in particular the special sequence of Rudin-Shapiro polynomials. I hope to explain how some old conjectures of Saffari and Montgomery were resolved by exploiting a surprising connection to random walks on groups.

More info here.


Model bicategories and their homotopy bicategories (Joint work with M.E. Descotte and E.J. Dubuc) (Tuesday, 2:30pm) — Martin Szyld says:

I will present a generalization of the concept of model category to the context of bicategories as well as a corresponding localization construction. The axioms for a model bicategory are a natural generalization to bicategories of those given by Quillen in the sense that they are obtained by requiring the diagrams to commute up to invertible 2-cells, and by considering a 2-dimensional aspect of the lifting properties which relate these families of arrows (in particular, when we consider a category as a bicategory, the two notions coincide: it will be a model bicategory if and only if it is a model category).

I will define the homotopy bicategory associated to a model bicategory C, whose 2-cells are given by homotopies in C. I will also describe a fibrant-cofibrant replacement for model bicategories, and, time permitting, I will show how we have proved that this yields the localization of C (in the bicategorical sense) at the weak equivalences. Our proof of this result uses a “transport of structure”; the application of this technique in this context is, as far as we know, a novel method.

More info here.

Saint Mary’s


Internet Expertise for Researchers 101 (Monday, 7pm) — how to find useful, quality information. Info and webinar link here.

In the harbour

06:00: CMA CGM Amerigo Vespucci, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
12:00: Maersk Mobiliser, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 25 for sea
17:00: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, sails from Pier 42 for Palm Beach
18:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England


Off to do stuff.

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

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  1. We’re 9 months in with Covid. Surely a readily available, instant test at the airport might be a good idea, no?

    1. From the little I know about rapid tests, there is at least one approved and now being distributed. My concern would be with the accuracy and with what getting a negative result on a rapid test would mean in terms of the current 14-day isolation period. Would a person who gets a negative rapid test be required to go for the nasal-swab test as well; and would he/she still need to self-isolate? All a negative rapid test can really tell is that at a very specific moment in time the person did not have enough of the virus (or the antigens, or whatever the test actually tests for) in their system to record a positive result. An hour later the same test might give a very different result.

  2. I listened to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans interview two Mi’kmaq and a commercial fisher from NS…and when asked none of them could define a moderate livelihood.

    Has it ever crossed someones mind that the judge may have used this phrase on purpose? That it can’t be defined…

    In a perfect world wouldn’t it be nice to have no laws. We just got up in the morning on the honor system…and we were all responsible human beings who didn’t get caught up with our wants and needs, our addictions, our consumption habits…and we with put Mother Nature 100% first. We respected the trees, the moose, the salmon, the lobster, the forest and trees…and we only took what we needed to survive.

    But this is wishful thinking. It’s 2020…and as a human race – we suck at that.

    There is a guy out in our harbour who is Mi’kmaq who has a commercial fishing license and can go from November to May with 250 traps – then once these are pulled up and landed – he has three traps for the food and ceremonial fisheries – and this summer while everyone is tied to the wharf for conservation – he has set and hauled traps for a moderate livelihood while the lobsters are spawning, egged, soft shelled and quickly die in the summer heat.

    When confronted by people in our community who are concerned about the lobster stocks in the area, he claimed that he has the right to go all year long.

    So when will he reach his Moderate Livelihood? — never.

    Taking what you need – which sounds so noble and lovely…and I admire the concept – is not going to work.

    No matter who you are – greed and money can get in the way.

    1. Interesting that “moderate livelihood” are now the two buzzwords associated with indigenous people’s right to fish. Funny how that was never a consideration when europeans came here and almost wiped out the beaver, the buffalo, the cod, I could go on. But now all of a sudden when we settlers seem to have finally woken up that conservation is a necessary precondition for any resource extraction industry, now it’s all about being responsible and ensuring there is enough for current and future generations. This is all bullshit and pure racism against indigenous people in this country.
      This focus on “moderate livelihood” is an absolute smoke screen to cover up the real facts of the devastating effects that we settlers have had on the landscapes, the plants, the animals and the resources of the place we now call Canada. We should be calling into question why we allowed people like Risley to become billionaires while the indigenous population of this province continue to suffer from grotesque inequality in livelihoods, housing, education etc…
      But no, instead of focusing on the real enemy, we obsess over the minutiae of what some judge wrote about 21 years ago when he stated the obvious that the original people of this land have a right to make a living. What the judge should have said instead of being paternalistic with the “moderate livelihood” crap, was that livelihood should be determined by none other than the indigenous community in terms that made sense to them, settlers be damned.

    2. If you’d reached the median Canadian income after taxes, benefits, expenses etc wouldn’t you have reached a moderate livelihood? I believe that’s currently 91k/household. That would seem reasonable. Anything beyond that on an annual basis could be viewed as commercial?

      1. ‘Median Canadian income’ is of no use in determining ‘moderate livelihood’
        Living in the town of Pictou is a lot cheaper than in peninsula Halifax. A ‘moderate livelihood depends’ on where you live and your expenses. A ‘moderate livelihood’ in Toronto is greater than in Halifax or Truro or Sydney or Manhattan or Greater London.

        1. I think splitting hairs defeats the purpose. The judge was non specific for a reason and a non specific metric is national mean or median income. The fishery is riddled with cash deals and ei nuances but in good faith bringing each mi’qmaw household up to median income by a combination of lobster fishing and other benefits if they so chose seems like the intent of the ruling.

  3. As others have pointed out, a moderate livelihood should be at least roughly the same as non-Indigenous commercial fishers make.

    1. No.
      A moderate livelihood will depend on your expenses. If you have 3 kids with 1 in university and a $300,000 mortgage and a $20,000 car loan and live an hour from your work in Halifax you have greater expenses than a person who has no kids, lives on the peninsula with a $300,000 mortgage and walks to work.
      A fisherman with a mortgage on a lobster boat needs a higher income than a fisherman with a lobster boat that has been given to him/her by the federal government.

      1. This is a scary comment.

        I’m guessing we won’t be getting a labour-intensive system that investigates the financial position of every individual fisher and provides for what they need and more. So it sounds like what might be concluded from this type of thinking is something along the lines of “I assume Mi’gmaq need less money than non-native people, so we’ll make sure they make less”.

        1. Why is it scary ?
          A person with a disability is given an extra income tax deduction for obvious reasons.
          A person with 5 kids is given a bigger deduction than a single person.
          We live mortgage free. Our housing costs are $9,000 a year.
          If we sold the house a family of 5 could move in and they would have a mortgage to pay and the property taxes would be double what we pay. Our expenses are much less than a couple age 40 or 50 with disabilities.
          It is not scary, it is rational.