1. Riley trial

“The murder trial of Randy Riley continued at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court Tuesday, with the Crown’s main witness, Paul Smith, repeatedly contradicting previous testimony he had provided in court,” I reported this morning:

Riley is charged with the Oct. 23, 2010 murder of Chad Smith. (There’s no relation between Chad Smith and Paul Smith.) Chad Smith was a delivery driver for Panada Pizza, which was then on Primrose Street in North Dartmouth. At around 9:15pm, he was delivering a pizza and pop to 15 Joseph Young St., apartment 3, but as he approached the door he was shot dead, a single shotgun blast to the chest.

The Crown’s theory of the case is that Riley had a grudge against Chad Smith related to a childhood spat between the two. Many years earlier, Chad Smith had stuck Riley over the head with some sort of “object” — what the object was seems to have changed with each telling — and Riley harboured such a resentment that when he saw Chad Smith working at the pizza place, he decided to kill Chad Smith. 

Nathan Johnson had his own issue with Chad Smith, related to a drug debt.

And so, on Oct. 23, Riley called up his friend Paul Smith and asked him for a ride. Paul Smith drove his SUV over to Trinity Avenue, where Riley was staying with his girlfriend. There, Riley was outside with Johnson, who Paul Smith didn’t really know. Paul Smith drove Riley and Johnson over to an apartment building on Lawrence Street, behind the Superstore on Braemar Drive.

According to Paul Smith’s testimony at a 2018 trial of Riley, Riley came back from the apartment building with something stuffed down his pants, presumably the shotgun, and Paul Smith drove Riley and Johnson back to Highfield Park, dropping them off across the street from the bus terminal. Along the way, said Paul Smith, Riley was irate and angry.

Later, Paul Smith had testified, Riley discussed the murder with him.

In a separate trial, Nathan Johnson was convicted of the first degree murder of Chad Smith. 

In 2018, Riley was convicted of murder, but the jury rejected the first degree charge and settled on second degree murder. This never made much sense — the Crown’s entire case was that the murder of Chad Smith was premeditated, with the plan put into action over several hours, not some spur-of-the-moment killing.

In the article, I explain why the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a new trial for Riley, and the very problematic testimony of Paul Smith, including that he was paid nearly $18,000 by police before he testified in 2018.

I continued:

On Tuesday, Paul Smith took the stand as the Crown’s first witness against Riley. 

Throughout his testimony, Smith slouched in his chair and lightly mumbled his answers to questions. Many times he was asked to repeat himself, as Crown Prosecutor Peter Craig wasn’t able to understand Smith.

Throughout his testimony, Smith contradicted his previous court testimony, both from the Nathan Johnson trial and Riley’s 2018 trial.

Click or tap here to read “Riley murder trial: ‘some stuff I said wasn’t true,’ says Crown witness.”

I have some commentary about Paul Smith’s testimony, but it will have to wait because there is a publication ban on things said at court that weren’t before the jury. I expect those issues will be sorted out today, or at least this week, and I’ll be able to have a full conversation about them without butting up against the publication ban.

But beyond that, it’s worth noting that I was the only reporter at court yesterday. That’s right: there’s a murder trial in Nova Scotia, and there’s only one reporter in the room.

I get it. All newsrooms are stretched thin. There are fewer reporters available for the work. Heck, the Halifax Examiner isn’t able to cover every murder trial, although if I knew no other media outlet was there, I’d make a point of sending a reporter.

Still, consider the contrast between Riley’s trial and the murder trial of William Sandeson, the Dalhousie student convicted of killing Taylor Samson. CBC was there. Saltwire was there. Global was there. The Canadian Press was there. The Halifax Examiner wasn’t at the trial, but we covered many issues related to it after the fact.

So, why did the Sandeson trial get near universal local media coverage, while the Examiner is left to cover the Riley trial solo?

I can’t answer for other media, but evidently a university fraternity drug deal gone bad is of more interest than a lower-class pizza delivery driver probably dealing drugs out of the trunk of his car getting killed in North Dartmouth, in a messy case dealing with a couple of Black people accused.

But I would argue that the issues raised by the Riley trial are more substantial than those in the Sandeson trial. And more than the constitutional issues is the role of race in the legal procedures, both in Riley’s 2018 conviction and the Crown’s handling of the case. It’s worth noting that Riley is now being tried by an all-white jury.

In any event, the Examiner is doing what we can to provide coverage of the Riley trial. If you find it important that we can do so, please consider supporting us with a subscription. Thanks.

2. No tents on Common

Three tents are seen on the grass in front of Halifax City Hall on a grey day.
Tents in Grand Parade on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. Credit: Zane Woodford

“Councillors have rejected a plan to allow people to live in tents on the Halifax Common,” reports Zane Woodford:

As the Halifax Examiner reported Monday, municipal housing and homelessness director Max Chauvin recommended council allow tents at the north end of the Common, replacing two crusher dust ball diamonds this fall.

Chauvin told councillors the municipality will need up to 40 more parks for unhoused people in the next 18 months as the rapidly-increasing number of unhoused people is only expected to grow.

Chauvin told councillors if they didn’t approve tents on the Common, staff would use other parks instead. Those would include Cogswell Park, Saunders Park, Beaufort Park, Point Pleasant Park, Grafton Park, and part of Fort Needham Park.

Coun. Shawn Cleary argued if council started allowing tents on the Common, HRM would lose control.

“If we set up an encampment on the Common it’s there for the next two, three, four years,” Cleary said. “That’s it, like it becomes a semi-permanent encampment and we will lose control of it because when someone shows up at two o’clock in the morning, they go, ‘Oh, there’s tents over there, I’m pitching mine over here on the cricket pitch. Then that part’s gone too.”

Cleary said Halifax is going to have to build temporary housing.

“The only solution to this is to get our asses in gear, spend the money, buy the hard sheds, buy the modulars buy the prefabs, get people indoors, because we are not ever going to control the tents,” he said.

Click or tap here to read “Council rejects plan for tents on Halifax Common.”

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3. Healing the hemlocks

A man wearing a dark coloured hoodie stands in a stand of trees in a sunlit forest and stares up in wonder.
Ulnooweg COO Christopher Googoo among the trees at Asitu’lisk. Credit: Asitu’lisk

“This week and in the months ahead, volunteers will gather in a Nova Scotia forest to try and save its ancient hemlocks from a rapidly spreading invasive insect,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

Considered one of the last strongholds of the Wabanaki-Acadian forest, the multigenerational hemlock groves at Asitu’lɨsk (formerly Windhorse Farm) are under threat by the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). 

“It’s kind of now or never…You have to inoculate the trees to give them a chance for survival, because once it (HWA) is in a forest, it will kill almost all of the trees within as little as two years,” Community Forests International (CFI) forest diversity manager Dani Miller said in an interview. 

This week, Miller said an estimated 20 to 25 volunteers (per day) will be onsite to help treat the trees. Two more weeks of treatment are planned for October and November. Volunteers are required to do everything from flagging and inoculating trees to helping with food preparations.

Among Asitu’lisk’s hemlocks is a grove that’s more than 400 years old. One tree named Grandmother Maple is at least 530 years old. 

Click or tap here to read “Healing the hemlocks: saving ancient trees from invasive insect in Nova Scotia’s Asitu’lɨsk forest.”

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4. Aboiteau

A white man with grey hair and a beard, wearing a dark grey shirt, speaks in a hallway with doors behind him.
Darren Porter speaks to reporters in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Credit: Zane Woodford

“Darren Porter is appealing a Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice’s decision not to reverse a government decision and reopen the Avon River aboiteau,” reports Zane Woodford:

Porter, a commercial fisher and researcher, applied for judicial review of Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr’s decision to declare a state of emergency for the area of the Windsor causeway. Lohr first declared that state of emergency June 1, ostensibly related to the wildfires that started in late May. He’s renewed it every two weeks since, most recently on Sept. 7.

The order allowed the government to override a 2021 order from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans requiring the province to keep the aboiteau under the causeway open. That federal government has since lifted its order.

Click or tap here to read “Fisher appeals Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling against opening Avon River aboiteau.”

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5. Not the American Pie guy

A Black man in a police uniform smiles at the camera.
Halifax Regional Police Deputy Chief Don MacLean Credit: LinkedIn

“Deputy Chief Don MacLean will take over from Chief Dan Kinsella this weekend, the municipality announced Tuesday,” reports Zane Woodford:

Following an hours-long in camera session, Halifax regional council voted to appoint MacLean, currently deputy chief of operations, as acting chief based on a recommendation from the Board of Police Commissioners.

Click or tap here to read “Deputy chief to take on acting role after Kinsella’s departure.”

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6. Liberals have issues

A Black man in a blue suit with a red pin shakes hands with a white man in a hat. In the background, people hold red signs that say CARLO SIMMONS.
Preston Liberal candidate Carlo Simmons at a campaign event. Credit: Screenshot/X/Liberal Party of NS

“The Nova Scotia Liberal Party is asking a supreme court justice to review the chief electoral officer’s decision, since reversed, to investigate the party’s Preston campaign,” reports Zane Woodford:

Dorothy Rice announced ahead of the Preston byelection in August that she was launching an investigation into the Liberals’ campaign materials regarding a potential dump in the riding.

On Friday, Sept. 8, Elections Nova Scotia issued another statement announcing the investigation was called off.

Click or tap here to read “Liberals take Nova Scotia chief electoral officer to court over cancelled investigation.”

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7. City defends lawsuit against cop

A still from the video of a Halifax Regional Police officer threatening to shoot a Black man. Credit: DeRico Symonds/Twitter

“The municipality argues a Halifax Regional Police officer who told a suspect, ‘I will fill you full of fuckin’ lead’ ‘acted in a manner consistent with their duty to protect the public, and they acted reasonably and with due care,'” reports Zane Woodford.

After video of the March 2021 incident surfaced online, Chief Dan Kinsella announced the officer involved would be placed on administrative leave. The now outgoing chief called the constable’s comments “unacceptable.”

As the Halifax Examiner reported in July, Robert Roech Chan is suing the municipality, alleging Const. Kristen MacKay was negligent.

Specifically, Chan’s lawyer, Hannah Garson, wrote that MacKay failed to de-escalate the situation; didn’t have reasonable grounds for arrest; pointed a firearm at Chan contrary to HRP’s use of force policy; and failed to abide by HRP’s code of ethics “which prohibit assuming someone is dangerous on the basis of race and providing different levels of service on the basis of race.”

Click or tap here to read “City defends lawsuit against Halifax Regional Police officer who threatened to shoot suspect.”

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8. Université Sainte-Anne

A stone landmark Université Sainte-Anne sign sits on green grass with blue sky above and university buildings behind it.
Université Sainte-Anne’s campus in Church Point on Aug. 28, 2023. Credit: Yvette d'Entremont

“Current and former students behind an anti-rape culture campaign at Université Sainte-Anne’s Church Point campus say they’re calling on the university president to take action,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.

In a media release Tuesday, members of the group ‘Faut que SA change maintenant / SA Change Now’ said they want the university’s president to acknowledge the institution’s rape culture, apologize to victims, and promise to institute the campaign’s five recommendations as outlined in their petition

Two students behind the campaign also shared their stories with the Halifax Examiner. They said the university has long failed to properly address sexual violence on campus. 

Click or tap here to read “Campaign led by current, former Sainte-Anne students demands president take action against rape culture at Church Point campus.”

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9. Union Street houses

A trifecta of photos showing homes and vehicles half submerged in flood waters.
Flooding on Union Street in Bedford. Credit: @Clarissa08/Twitter

“Mayor Mike Savage will write to the province asking the government to buy the flood-prone homes on Union Street in Bedford,” reports Zane Woodford.

Coun. Tim Outhit brought a motion to council on Tuesday in two parts. First, he asked for a staff report “on managed retreat as a climate adaptation approach to manage risks and impacts associated with extreme weather events in the municipality.”

Second, Outhit moved to direct Savage “to write a letter to the Premier of Nova Scotia requesting the provincial government work with the municipality to create a provincial buyout program specific to the Union Street properties in Bedford impacted by extreme flooding in July 2023, similar to what was done in 2016 in Sydney, Cape Breton.”

“These are homes that I’ve been in many times and these folks had seven feet of water in their basements. They were up to the second floor in some cases,” Outhit said.

“These houses, some of them were built in the 1970s, some of them even older, in what was known at the time to be a floodplain but now we know as the worst floodplain.”

Click here to read “Mayor to write to province seeking buyout for flood-prone Bedford homes.”

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10. Convenience store bylaw

A pedestrian walks by a convenience store shrouded in dappled light on a sunny morning,
Jubilee Junction Convenience in Halifax on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Halifax regional council has amended a controversial bylaw limiting convenience stores’ hours, finding a compromise for neighbours and store owners,” reports Zane Woodford.

Council voted in favour of first reading for the bylaw last year, planning to curtail the opening hours of stores in residential areas of the regional centre to 7am to 11pm daily.

Coun. Waye Mason asked for a staff report on the business hours in response to complaints to people living near the corner of Jubilee Road and Preston Street, which had turned into a new pizza corner.

As the Halifax Examiner reported at the time, one of a handful of business owners affected, Mike Habib at Jubilee Junction Convenience, said the city never asked him about the bylaw.

Habib said most of the week, he was open until 1am, but on Fridays and Saturdays, the store was open until about 2:30am.

Click here to read “Halifax councillors amend convenience store bylaw to allow 1am close.”

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Special Events Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — agenda


Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda


No meetings

On campus



How does the Environment Contribute to Health Inequities in Atlantic Canada?  (Wednesday, 12pm, online) — Kelvin Fong will talk; from the listing:

My presentation will provide an overview of environmental epidemiology research and then discuss future research opportunities with a focus on Atlantic Canada. I will talk about the current landscape of environmental exposure assessment, motivated by air pollution and green space research, and how they can be applied to population health cohorts and databases. I will also introduce projects to understand how environmental factors, including climate change, contribute to mental health and health disparities.


“Racialized Musical (Hi)stories” (Thursday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Philip Ewell from Hunter College, City University of New York will talk; from the listing:

In this talk, he challenges the main narratives shaping the classical canon of “great music.” “History” usually implies an accurate account of past events, while “story” refers to events that may or may not accurately reflect on the past, embellished as necessary by the “storyteller.” With remarkable consistency in the academic study of music in the U.S. and Canada, the “histories” taught at our music institutions have been written by white persons, usually men, passing from generation to generation with little divergence from the main narratives of “great works” of a so-called “western canon.” Ewell examines these histories and explains why, in fact, our common music curricula are still quite segregated along racial lines. He shows how we can ensure all racial musics, and musical races, have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion.

Investigating new roles for the Nav1.1 sodium channel in sensory neuron physiology & behavior (Thursday, 1pm, online) — Theanne Griffith from UC Davis Health School of Medicine will talk

Judicialization of International Marine Environmental Law (Thursday, 7:15pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — Natalie Klein from UNSW Sydney, Australia will talk

In the harbour

00:01: GPO Grace, heavy lifter, sails from IEL for Rostock, Germany
02:00: Orion, crane ship, sails from IEL for Long Island, Antigua and Barbuda
02:00: Atlantic Swordfish, barge, moves from IEL to Imperial Oil
05:30: Liberty of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,414 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a nine-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
08:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Autoport from St. John’s
08:30: MOL Experience, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint John
08:45: Carnival Legend, cruise ships with up to TK passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a 14-day roundtrip cruise out of Baltimore
09:00: MSC Rachele, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
10:00: One Cygnus, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
12:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 42 from Saint-Pierre
13:00: Discovery, research vessel, sails from BIO for sea
15:00: Liberty of the Seas sails for Saint John
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Fairview Cove
18:00: Carnival Legend sails for Baltimore
18:30: MOL Experience sails for Southampton, England

Cape Breton
02:00: Brightway, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for Georgetown, Guyana 
05:30: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,756 passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier from Charlottetown, on a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
09:30: Celebrity Summit, cruise ship with up to 2,100 passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier from Halifax, on an 11-day roundtrip cruise out of Boston 
14:30: Algoma Value, bulker, sails from Port Hawkesbury anchorage for sea
16:30: Caribbean Princess sails for Halifax
18:00: Celebrity Summit sails for Quebec City
18:00: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, sails from anchorage to Government Wharf (Sydney)


Gotta buy some chips today.

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

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  1. On the murder trial, Tim you are under the misconception that there actually is a media system here. There has not been for some time. Back in the 70s and into the 80s when I worked on news, everything from school board meetings up to municipal council committee meetings would be covered usually by several reporters. Maybe it was overkill, but the result was a pool of reporters who were well versed in myriad issues of public interest. Not any more. That is why governments and their agencies are getting away with so much, knowing that they are not in the public eye and nobody cares what they do or don’t do.