1. Supercluster____

It’s a cluster, and it’s super.

Jennifer Henderson attended yesterday’s “Supercluster Update” at Pier 21, hoping to get details of the federal “investment” into “ocean innovation” that will make us all rich forever, amen.

Where are you going to spend your coming supercluster riches? Maybe pay down some of that debilitating student loan? Upgrade the old clunker in the driveway for something a little more reliable so you’re not spending half your paycheque on repairs? Pay 100 bucks more in rent so you can be a little closer to work?

Not so fast.

“[Supercluster CEO Matt] Hebb acknowledged that most of Year One of the Oceans Supercluster will be consumed by governance related to the signing of agreements with Ottawa and the five corporate players who’ve pledged to invest more than $75 million in projects chosen by them and other smaller participants in the Supercluster,” reports Henderson:

The best estimate of how much will be in the kitty when those agreements are finalized is $300-$360 million, according to Jeff White, the Supercluster’s interim Chief Financial Officer, … The amount is a moving target, because it depends on how many Atlantic companies sign up to become investors; the minimum amount is $250,000. That will buy a participating company a say in which research and development projects get selected. Each project must develop a brand new technology and attract a minimum of two private sector partners who will manage the project. 

The top tier of companies who have invested $15 million or more in the Supercluster have the most clout in deciding which projects get funded. They include some of the usual suspects: Emera (with interests in tidal power and offshore wind), Petroleum Resources Newfoundland (a consortium of companies exploring for oil and natural gas), John Risley’s CFFI Ventures (Clearwater), and Cuna del Mar, a global fish-farming enterprise helmed by Robert Orr, a past president of Ocean Nutrition. Cooke Aquaculture and JD Irving are also large investors.

Click here to read “Super Big Money: Lots of federal money is coming to the Ocean Supercluster, but who will benefit?”

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So while the benefits of that federal money will be spread among all investing companies, the bulk of the return will go to five or six very large corporations, who are leveraging $75 million of their own money for public matching funds of still-unknown, but definitely significant, amounts.

And you, poor Nova Scotian, can put off your dreams of paying down that student loan for another day.

My point here is that any supposed “economic development” program, no matter how successful in terms of GDP or ROI or however else the accountants and bureaucrats want to measure it, is essentially meaningless for the average person if we’re not addressing how that new-found wealth is distributed in our society.

Yes, build a giant Borg in downtown Halifax, hold conventions for businessmen from Calgary, dump money into Clearwater’s next venture, whatever, and there will be some spillover in the way of jobs, a few of them even well-paying (albeit the best-paid employees will likely be recruited from elsewhere), and minimum wage workers at the Timmy’s down the street might pick up a few extra hours. But the bulk of the benefits from the hundreds of millions of dollars put into these “economic development projects” go to the select few who are already filthy rich. And that’s by design.

2. Jimmy Melvin Jr.

Jimmy Melvin Jr., in a still from his “Real Live Street Shit” video, now no longer available.

The Jimmy Melvin Jr. story is getting just plain sad. Reports Blair Rhodes for the CBC:

There was a prolonged, emotional outburst in a Halifax courtroom Wednesday as notorious crime figure Jimmy Melvin Jr. challenged a Crown prosecutor to a fight and asked to be killed.

“I’m worried about my mental health and well-being,” Melvin told Justice Peter Rosinski as he stood facing the front of the courtroom.

“I need a break. I thought I was going to forensic,” he said, referring to the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Burnside, N.S.

“I’m about to really crack up here.”

When told he couldn’t be sent to the forensic hospital, Melvin told the court, “You guys better kill me.”

As he was being led from the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies, Melvin challenged [Crown prosecutor Rick] Woodburn to fight.

“Any time you want to go, Rick,” Melvin said. “We’ll do it Cape Breton style.”

There’s nothing likeable about Melvin, but thanks to the quirks of his very public personality, he’s giving us a bit of insight into how a person can deteriorate mentally in prison, and especially while in solitary confinement.

3. Police cybersecurity

“Halifax’s auditor general revealed on Wednesday that an external audit identified serious issues with the police department’s cybersecurity — and the department has done little to fix the problems in the 18 months since,” reports Zane Woodford for StarMetro Halifax:

Auditor general Evangeline Colman-Sadd wrote a letter earlier this month to the municipality’s Board of Police Commissioners saying her office was going to hold off on completing its own planned audit of Halifax Regional Police (HRP) information technology (IT) security because international audit firm KPMG had tabled a similar report in December 2016.

Colman-Sadd wrote in the letter that KPMG’s report “considered various IT security matters by looking at the likelihood of something going wrong and the impact if it does.”

That report identified 67 concerns, she wrote, 35 of which were “high-impact, high-likelihood issues.”

“From discussions with HRP management, we understand a number of the issues identified by the consultant have yet to be addressed in the 18 months since HRP received the report,” Colman-Sadd wrote.

As Woodford reports, the details and potential ramifications of the problems are being kept secret, supposedly because of the “sensitivity” of it; read: butt-covering.

The lack of tech sophistication at the police department became laughingly obvious in the aftermath of the security failure of the provincial FOIPOP site; as I wrote after the Halifax Examiner and Cape Breton Spectator obtained court documents which detail the investigation of that security failure:

Halifax police assigned to investigate the security failure seem not to have basic knowledge of IT security and simply accepted the province’s IT security experts at their word.

4. Spanish flu

A photo of three men wearing masks
The 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic in Canada. Photo: Library Archives Canada

Darrell Cole, a reporter with SaltWire’s Amherst News, reports on an upcoming talk by Allan Marble at the Ottawa House Museum in Parrsboro. Marble, a retired prof from the Dal medical school, will be talking about the Spanish flu epidemic in Nova Scotia. Writes Cole:

Marble said the flu killed approximately 50 million people worldwide, including between 30,000 and 50,000 Canadians. In Nova Scotia, Marble estimates the number was about 2,000 people and considering Nova Scotia’s rural population the impact was felt throughout the province.

“During the four months the flu was at its peak in Nova Scotia, from about September to December 1918, there were about 2,000 killed, but the number of people who had the flu was about 10 times that,” Marble said.

The flu was brought into Canada by soldiers returning from the trenches of the First World War and it made its way into even the remotest communities in the country and the province, places such as Petit de Gras in Cape Breton and Lockeport in southwest Nova Scotia, where its residents contracted the flu from contact with Massachusetts fishermen.

The fallout from war: about 2,000 people died in Halifax and Dartmouth in the Explosion, and another 2,000 died across Nova Scotia from the Spanish flu.

The Spanish flu epidemic was the subject of a recent History Extra podcast, which explains:

The pandemic … will always be known as the ‘Spanish flu’, though it didn’t start in Spain. It washed over the world in three waves which, in the northern hemisphere, corresponded to a mild wave in the spring of 1918, a lethal wave the following autumn, and a reprisal in the early months of 1919 that was intermediate in virulence between the other two. The first cases were officially recorded in March 1918 at Camp Funston, a military base in Kansas. Within six weeks the disease had reached the trenches of the western front in France, but it wasn’t until May that the flu broke out in Spain.

Unlike the United States and France, Spain was neutral in the war, so it didn’t censor its press. The first Spanish cases were therefore reported in the newspapers, and because King Alfonso XIII, the prime minister and several members of the cabinet were among those early cases, the country’s plight was highly visible. People all over the world believed that the disease had rippled out from Madrid — a misconception encouraged by propagandists in those belligerent nations that knew they’d contracted it before Spain. In the interests of keeping morale high in their own populations, they were happy to shift the blame. The name stuck.

5. Dispensary robbed

From a police release issued early this morning:

At approx. 8:44 p.m. officers responded to a report of a robbery at the Green Tree Clinic Dispensary located at 1274 Bedford Highway, Bedford. Staff reported that 3 men entered the business, approached a staff member, one suspect produced a firearm and demanded staff put product and money into duffel bags. The suspects fled the business on foot with an undisclosed amount of product and money. Then fled in a vehicle.

6. Cannabis bylaws fallout

On Tuesday, Halifax council passed changes in two city bylaws that in effect outlaw smoking tobacco and cannabis pretty much everywhere in the city. And now the world is reacting. Watch the ridicule come our way.

I’ve got a lot more to say about this, but I’m out of time this morning.


1. Farewell Tour

Back in 1968, “a couple of colourful, young artists [Judy Matthews and Roger Hupman] persuaded the City Council to let then sell their wares from the Public Gardens’ fence,” writes Stephen Archibald:

Now, fifty years later, the artists, Judy Matthews and Roger Hupman, have returned to the fence on their Farewell Tour.

Back in the day, Roger and Judy produced enchanting drawings and paintings of historic buildings in Halifax. They also had a wealth of creative capital to spend; I particularly remember window displays at Maritime Frame-It, down Spring Garden Road, and Roger in a clown costume at the opening of the Unicorn on Argyle Street.

We have a couple of small pieces of their work from that time. My fondness for cast iron objects made Judy’s print of the gates to the Gardens an obvious choice.

Matthews and Hupman were interviewed by Nina Corfu for the CBC.




Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — the committee is being asked to endorse the Green Network Plan.


No public meetings.


No public meetings this week.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Biology (Thursday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Tara Imlay will defend her ​​thesis, “Understanding the Drivers of Population Declines for Swallows (Family: Hirundinidae) Throughout the Annual Cycle.” Bring your own swallow.

GHOST: Recovering historical signal from heterotachously-evolved sequence alignments (Thursday, 3:30pm, Room 1108, Mona Campbell Building) — Bui Quang Minh from the Australian National University, Canberra, will speak.


No public events.

In the harbour

5am: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
5:30am: Rockies Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
7am: Veendam, cruise ship with up to 1,350 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney
7am: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
9:30am: Insignia, cruise ship with up to 800 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Bar Harbor
10:30am: Selfoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11am: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from New York
11:30am: Rockies Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
Noon: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
3:30pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Bar Harbor
3:30pm: Atlantic Star, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
3:30pm: YM Moderation, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
10:30pm: Insignia, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for St. George, Bermuda
Midnight: YM Moderation, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai


[insert your own bitter commentary here]

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

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  1. HRM Auditor General Ms Colman-Sadd has no legal authority to conduct an audit of Halifax Regional Police.
    Policing in Nova Scotia is governed by the Police Act and in section 6 (e) of the act the minister may
    ” determine the adequacy and effectiveness of police services provided in a municipality through a system of audits, reviews and inspections and any other means the Minister determines to be appropriate; ”

    If Ms Coleman-Sadd can point to her legislated authority to conduct an audit she should do so. Elsewhere in Nova Scotia police Boards have often asked the Policing Services section of the department of Justice to perform an audit of a police department.

  2. No doubt this is a big cluster of some sort, but it’s not “super”. This is patently another scam by Nova Scotia’s neoliberal, wealthy few to suck more government money away from things that NS really needs and that can be of benefit to Nova Scotians: healthcare, education, small and medium business, etc. The few who already have been given monopolies over our common resources will continue to suck the life-blood from NS.

    And note that this is all about resource extraction which was what Risley and Black, et al called for after the Ivany Report. This cluster could be the last nail in the ocean’s (and Nova Scotia’s) coffin.

    Will we never learn?