1. Four dead in Lincolnville

The CBC published this photo of police at the scene of the house where four people were found dead. The network repeated an incorrect police report that the house is in Upper Big Tracadie; Local Express reporter Ian Fairclough explains that the house is actually in Lincolnville. Photo: Steve Berry/CBC

“RCMP say four people have been found dead in a Guysborough County residence,” reports Ian Fairclough for Local Xpress:

Police said in a release the deceased were found in a home in Upper Big Tracadie, but area residents say the residence is on Highway 16 in Lincolnville, a small community that borders with Upper Big Tracadie near the boundary with Antigonish County.

Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said police were called at about 6 p.m. and found all four victims inside the residence. She couldn’t say who made the call to police, or how long the people had been dead.

“It’s pretty early for that kind of information,” she said. “Everything is very preliminary right now.”


[Guysborough]* Warden Vernon Pitts said he had only been briefed by the municipality’s CAO, but was waiting to hear from the RCMP.

“My understanding is there has been a tragedy in the community of Lincolnville… There were four fatalities, as of yet I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I’ve heard rumours, but I’m not willing to speculate until I hear from the RCMP.”

He said he hopes to be able to work with local MLA Lloyd Hines to arrange for grief counsellors to be sent to the area.

“It’s going to shake the community severely,” he said. “I think it’s imperative that we get grief counsellors in the community as soon as possible.”

* When I initially published this, I incorrectly wrote that Pitts was the warden for Lincolnville.

2. Fish kills and climate change

“An ocean scientist at Dalhousie University in Halifax said the lack of disease or viruses in tests from the fish kills, combined with herring being observed in areas they wouldn’t normally be seen this time of year, suggests a larger environmental issue,” reports Preston Mulligan for the CBC:

“What really is unusual about this area is that the Gulf of Maine, as a whole, has been warming more rapidly than almost about any other area on the planet,” Boris Worm told CBC’s Mainstreet.

“It’s in the upper one percentile … It’s the outlier, if you will.”

As temperatures warm and animal behaviour changes, Worm said it’s a sign of “a larger story here about how the environment is changing.”

Speaking to reporter Natasha Pace at Global News, Worm elaborated:

There is some evidence, some satellite pictures, that at the time that these die-offs started in November, there was an unusual plankton bloom in the area, probably linked to warming waters.

3. Shelburne dump

This map, compiled by residents, shows South End Shelburne households where people have died of cancer. via Nova Scotia Advocate

“Black residents of the Town of Shelburne who live in the so-called South End neighborhood are worried about the effects of a nearby landfill on their health. They want the town to come to their support,” reports Robert Devet in his Nova Scotia Advocate:

For 75 years the Shelburne Town Dump received industrial, medical and residential waste not just from the town, but also from Lockeport and all of eastern Shelburne County. Waste came from households, a former naval base, a hospital, and an industrial park.   

In the early nineties the landfill as such was closed, but it continued to be used as a transfer station for things like fridges, stoves, and empty oil barrels. Enforcement was lax.


For decades South End residents lived with the smoke from the waste being burned there, rats, and most of all, fears that the dump was contaminating their dug wells and affecting their health.

The two closest homes are within 250 feet, many more are within 500 feet. The neigbourhood is on a boggy downward slope from the landfill. Three brooks descend from the dump into Shelburne Harbour, crossing many South End properties.


“People would dump animal parts. When the hospital dumped something there always was a fire. They always tried to burn whatever they dumped there. The fire would get underneath, and it would burn underground,” says [Janet] O’Connell.

About ten years ago [Louise] Delisle was involved in a study looking at health-related issues facing Black women in rural Nova Scotia. At that time she interviewed the African Nova Scotian women who lived in her town.  The dump was the number one concern the women raised, she says.

“The community now is mostly women left over. There are very few men left. They died of cancer. I highly doubt that there will be similar numbers in the downtown or in the North End,” says Delisle. “And 99.9% of the women who are ill blame it on the dump.”

4. Assault charge

“The husband of Nova Scotia Immigration Minister Lena Diab has been charged with assault and uttering threats against the cabinet minister in relation to a New Year’s Eve incident at the couple’s Halifax home,” reports Paul Withers for the CBC:

Lena Diab and two others were identified in court documents as the alleged victims. Maroun Diab was arraigned Tuesday in Halifax provincial court and will remain in custody until a court appearance Thursday. 

Maroun Diab, 58, is accused of attempting to choke Lena Diab by putting both hands around her neck, assaulting her and threatening to cause her bodily harm or death.

The Canadian Press adds some personal details about Lena Diab:

Diab, a lawyer and business owner, was appointed Nova Scotia’s first female justice minister after winning office in October 2013 in a Halifax-area riding.

A Nova Scotia native who moved to Lebanon at the age of two, she returned to the province nine years later to escape civil war, according to her official biography. 

She was the first female president of the Canadian Lebanon Society, and speaks English, Arabic and French. She leads the province’s Syrian refugee effort, according to her bio.

She has four children and one grandchild.


1. Streets are for everyone

“When the intersection just to the west of the Hydrostone Market block came up on the road resurfacing schedule a couple years ago, instead of just the typical ‘shave and pave’ from the city, the absurdly wide crossing got an upgrade of a different sort,” writes Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler:

Thanks to a backlog of complaints on file, the city decided to make some improvements to help pedestrians get across Young Street at Isleville more safely. “We ended up with a refuge median and some curb extensions,” says David MacIsaac, the Transportation Demand Management Program Supervisor at City Hall. “Instead of a 22-metre crossing, it’s two five-metre crossings.”

One curb extension at Isleville and Young may seem like a small step, but the way of thinking that brought it about could mean a giant leap, eventually, for walkability in our fair city.

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Inverness Oran:

Going through articles in the Chronicle Herald over the last couple of months written by either DNR officials or by others in the forestry industry, I am reminded of the well known literary quote, “Methinks thou [doth] protest too much.” 

We had the minister, Lloyd Hines, Jeff Bishop, Cliff Drysdale, Kim Fuller, et al. expound profusely about the wonderful forest “management” strategy put forward by DNR and the forest corporations. They call their policies “science-based” yet, when asked to produce peer reviewed scientific evidence to back their policies, they are not forthcoming. Then, they revert to downplaying the expertise of those who oppose the way in which the industry is decimating the forests (with the blessing of those in the DNR).

Also, they use the tactic of negatively labelling those opponents as did Mr. Eddy in Truro when he called those opposed to clearcutting “peacocks puffing themselves up for show” or Ms. Fuller calling them “pessimists standing in front of every industry they perceive as not fitting their narrow vision for our resources,” or the Harper government calling them “environmental terrorists.”

These people ignore the wealth of research on the other side done by scientists and forestry researchers from all over the world (peer reviewed and supported). They ignore the evidence of Global Forest Watch as to the level of destruction done to the forest when clearcutting has taken place. 

At recent meetings in the western part of the province and in Cape Breton, NASA slides showing clearly the difference in clearcutting from 2002 to 2014, were seen by people in both the DNR and the forestry industry. Yet, this is totally ignored. It is as if they closed their eyes when the slides were presented. 

Also, the supporters of the present “management strategies” never talk about how the forest floors are destroyed by the big machinery; how the wildlife is endangered; how the forests which replace the healthy forests are not of the same quality as that which has been lost; how the “regulations” restricting the cutting close to waterways are being ignored without penalty; or how the nutrients which formerly fed the new forests are now carted away to be used in biomass plants either here or overseas.

A friend has compiled a 500-page book covering all these topics. The research he has compiled comes from all over the world. Personally, I have given the former minister of natural resources an 80-page paper on the dangers of biomass burning. I indicated to him that this paper by Dr. Mary Booth, an expert in the field, was extremely informative, but because I knew how busy he was, that if he read five pages which I wrote on the cover, he would see how terrible this practice is to the environment. Yet, nothing changed. 

The evidence is there to support our argument against clearcutting and all we need to do is to drive along any major highway to see the scrawny, low-quality forests which replace the old forests, (which, by the way, are far better at taking carbon out of the atmosphere and reseeding the surrounding areas). After a second clearcutting, the quality of the replacement forest is even lower. And these things we can see for ourselves. We don’t need to listen to either side of the argument. We just need to be observant. 

Jim Harpell, Shortt’s Lake

As I read the local papers around the province, it strikes me how many people in rural areas still read the Chronicle Herald. Here, Harpell clearly understands that the Herald is being used by the provincial government as a propaganda tool against him, lying to him, and yet he continues to (presumably) purchase it and read it regularly.


Photo: Fritz Helmut Hemmerich

If we lived somewhere without constant cloud cover, we could look with a pair of binoculars right after sunset and see this comet, named 45P/Honda–Mrkos–Pajdušáková, near the planet Venus (that’s the bright one). The comet, which loops by the sun every five years or so, was discovered by Japanese astronomer Minoru Honda in 1948. I don’t know who Mrkos and Pajdušáková are. More on the comet here.


No public meetings.

On campus

We’re getting dumber by the day.

In the harbour

Hampton Roads and its approach this morning. Map:
Halifax Harbour and its approach this morning. Map:

Midnight: Atlantic Kingfisher, tug/supply vessel, arrives at Pier 9 from Saint John
3pm: STI Wembley, oil tanker, moves from Anchorage to Imperial Oil
5pm: Marguerite Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Bremerhaven, Germany


I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.

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

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  1. I am not sure that the Chronicle Herald is all that widely read in rural areas, at least the part of Cumberland County where I live. A good gauge is to watch for the red Herald newspaper boxes attached to rural mail boxes. I see fewer and fewer of them all the time. I took mine down last week as I wait for the strike to end, presuming that county-level content will re-appear when the staff is back at work.

  2. I live in rural Antigonish. I heat primarily with a woodstove. The Chronicle Herald provides a good source of initial fuel for my woodstove.

  3. Random grammar & style note:

    In the sad story of the Shelburne dump adversely affecting a nearby neighbourhood, there appears a rarely seen rhetorical figure called syllepsis or zeugma. It comes in many shapes and sizes but the salient feature is the combining of dissimilar items in a series. For example, “He went out the door with an umbrella, his lunch box, and a heavy heart.

    In this case, “…residents lived with…smoke…rats, and…fears….”

    Some grammarians consider this a mistake; others just consider it a curiosity.

    1. Thank you. I’ve often wondered what to call this problem – common among my students – and, conversely, have occasionally wondered what a zeugma is.

  4. There is a Jim Harpell of Shorts Lake who is a unsuccessful NDP candidate and 2016 NDP convention co-chair.

    I think we can presume he is better educated than only reading the ‘Horrid. Or not, in which case we are in much deeper trouble.

  5. I can’t speak to whether the Young/Isleville modification improved the pedestrian experience, but it has made the cycling experience worse. Cars now use the extended median to park, despite the no-stopping signs, which reduces visibility. And the pedestrian refuge is too narrow to act as a refuge for people cycling, which seems like a missed opportunity.

  6. I live in the rural area covered by the Oran and have noticed that pretty well everyone reads it. It may not be a bastion of investigative reporting but it is loaded with local happenings and ties the communities together. Some folks get information from facebook but it’s not seen as overly trustworthy. The other paper published in Halifax and written in Toronto used to have a great deal of relevance in understanding what was happening at province house and elsewhere. Now, even loyal, decades long subscribers are noticing the paper is full of errors. The Oran, on the other hand, can cover local council fairly well but doesn’t have the base to have reporters in Halifax.

    1. i’m checking out The Oran! Lucky me I read Halifax Examiner and Allnovascotia because I can. Very many people can’t or won’t pay for internet. Our pathetic provincial paper is still the go to

      1. I can barely afford rural internet, it’s 100$ a month for 1.5mbps, I completely understand why people need a cheaper news alternative and can’t spend all day in the library!

  7. People die of cancer for many reasons and I hope the people of Crichton Park area don’t start blaming their cancer deaths on the proximity to the former Dartmouth landfill and incinerator. Black residents, a primary school and apartments are within 500 feet.
    The population nearest the Sackville landfill are white and many were there before the site was chosen as the recipient of the waste for over 300,000 people.
    A proper peer reviewed study of the people of Shelburne is required.

    1. People who grew up in Crichton Park have been blaming cancer rates on the old dump/incinerator for years. Did it cause disease? Don’t know. All that soot drifting down on the playground like a snowstorm could not have been good.

  8. Re the cranky letter. The trouble is you have to read (and pay for) the Herald to know what the other side is thinking and saying. And the fact that the Herald is still widely read in rural Nova Scotia may partly explain the continuing popularity of the McNeil government despite the flaws so clear to us urbanites. At some point boycotting the Herald may become counter-productive.

    1. As bad as the Herald can be, it still puts out original content. In the race to the bottom, it’s one rung above the abyss. Why for instance, would somebody pay for today’s Examiner over the Herald? There’s no original content here. It’s just aggregation of other people’s work, with the exception of Erica Butler’s article, which is niche/local news.

      But I take great umbrage with the tone of this sentence:

      ‘the fact that the Herald is still widely read in rural Nova Scotia may partly explain the continuing popularity of the McNeil government despite the flaws so clear to us urbanites’

      So people who read the Herald are lower intelligence Stephen McNeil pom pom shakers? Ummmm, didn’t some large gaggles of cultural/media elites recently get shown the folly of such arrogance? This was far from your best reasoning…….

      1. Tim: In my experience, ignorance and indifference can be readily found in both rural and urban areas in equal measure. I assume this unfortunate, elitist slight of rural citizens was just a throw-away line. Maybe throw it away completely and stick to verifiable news.

      2. Usually I wouldn’t respond, but owing to a few glasses of wine – which I hope Tim will forgive in the spirit of being a moderate kindred [imbibing] spirit – I agree in part. Only in part. I think our Tim is a victim of his success. I miss his *seemingly* [open to interpretation, I admit] unity with us, his subscribers and like-minds. I read every day and appreciate Tim’s reporting, plus that of others, but feel Tim’s original passion and outrage have become muted. Honestly, I await and expect a lucrative offer to Tim to buy him out, and that’s not intended as an insult – rather a reflection of the success his Halifax Examiner has become. And deservedly. It’s a variation of “too big to fail.” I’ll leave the urban/rural issue to another time, though it’s important and fraught. We confront it daily on PEI. Bottom line: I miss the old Tim, the one who was often on Twitter and delivered scathing, regular, investigative reporting here.