1. I Like Trains

YouTube video

Really, I do!

But that thing they’re talking about running around downtown ain’t no train.

The Disneyfication of downtown continues apace. I don’t have the heart to write about it… read Jacob Boon in The Coast.

2. 40 kph speed limits

“Halifax city council may be asking the province to lower speed limits on residential streets,” reports Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler:

Last week, council’s transportation committee approved a recommendation that would see Halifax request a change in the provincial Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) to reduce “prima facie” speed limits in residential areas down to 40 kph from the current 50 kph.

Click here to read “Halifax council may ask for 40 kph speed limit in residential areas.”

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

3. Court Watch

This week, Examiner court watcher Christina Macdonald looks at recent comments from Judge Gregory Lenehan, updates the Lyle Howe file, and editorializes about a “sins of thy father” case that saw a woman and her three children cut off from Income Assistance benefits because the man in their life missed a job search meeting at the Department of Community Services.

Click here to read “Court Watch: Judge Lenehan gets mad.”

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

4. Matt Whitman does something stupid

“A week after posting a video of himself and a passenger doing a Chinese fire drill, Halifax Coun. Matt Whitman removed it saying it was a ‘distraction,” Marieke Walsh reported for Global yesterday morning:

Over the weekend several online critics labelled the video “racist.” It shows Whitman sitting in a car yelling “Chinese fire drill” before getting out of the car and running around it with a passenger. They then get back in having switched seats.

You can see the video at the link.

Is the video racist? Let’s ask a Chinese guy:

Ah, but Chris Parsons was wrong. (Still, I’m stealing the Adam Sandler thing.)

“Halifax regional councillor and Progressive Conservative candidate Matt Whitman is apologizing for a video he posted online last week,” reported Preston Mulligan for the CBC later in the day:

“I apologize for my lapse in judgment and my unintentional use of what I now understand to be an insensitive term,” Whitman said on Facebook. “I never meant to offend or hurt anyone. I have learned from this experience.”

I’d link to the actual Facebook post but Whitman appears to have blocked or unfriended me, or otherwise made it so I can’t see his posts.

As Walsh wrote (which was then picked up by the Canadian Press and reposted by the CBC under Mulligan’s byline):

The term dates back to a botched fire drill during the Second World War, according to University of King’s College professor Simon Kow.

“Some people will find it offensive,” he said. “It obviously taps into a stereotype about Chinese, meaning something which is chaotic, confused, incompetent, that sort of thing.”

Kow, who is of Chinese descent, said in the context of more extreme comments made by public figures, the content of the video isn’t surprising.

“It’s not OK,” he said. “People should be careful how they use language.”

There’s room for learning about how casual racism has infected our language and how we unconsciously use terms that were created as slurs. So good on Whitman for acknowledging that. He can be forgiven.

What can’t be forgiven, however, is that Whitman posted a vertically oriented photo on Facebook. That is an unpardonable sin.


1. After nine months, there are still no details about a man who died in police custody

“More than nine months ago, on June 16, 2016, a 41-year-old man from Halifax (let’s call him CR) died in the cells of Halifax Regional Police,” Bill Turpin reminds us.

The man has not been identified, and a Serious Incident Response Team is investigating. Why is it taking so long to get any information to the public? asks Turpin, who goes on to suggest a possible reason:

Incredibly, the answer may lie in the high-profile troubles of Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe, who is currently being roasted by the bar society for poor conduct.

Turpin cites a CBC article by reporter Blair Rhodes, who in turn explains that:

The three-member disciplinary panel has sat for 58 days since it began 15 months ago. The hearing was originally expected to take about a week.

The panel chair, Ron MacDonald, also heads Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team, the body that looks into complaints against police. He has had to schedule breaks in the hearing process to allow him time to do his main job. Decisions from SiRT have been announced in fits and starts over the last 15 months.

Similarly, panel member Don Murray, a prominent Halifax-area defence lawyer, has had to reschedule cases in order to continue attending the hearing.

Turpin points out that there is no small irony in the situation: Howe is accused (mostly) of double-booking his time, but the two men leading the disciplinary hearing against him are essentially also double-booked.

But that aside, there’s still the issue of the dead man. Says Turpin:

This brings us to the continuing suppression of CR’s name. It’s a serious matter. Being in custody means you’ve lost control of your life to your jailers. It’s a life-and-death responsibility for the jailers. Unfortunately, they’re human, so we create outfits such as the Serious Incident Response Team to keep an eye on them — to ensure cell-deaths, accidental or otherwise, don’t become a routine event in law enforcement.

This is because in less civilized parts of the world, people are arrested and never seen again. Sometimes they die by accident, sometimes not. Their bodies are dumped at sea, fed to animals — whatever. When their loved ones come looking for them, there’s no record of them ever being in custody. Or if there is a record of arrest, it turns out the prisoner was “released” the next morning and then disappeared. Or he hanged himself and incident is still under secret investigation.

If there truly are bad guys involved, the best case scenario for them is that everyone just gets tired of waiting for the answers and stops asking.

2. A long way to go for a joke

Stephen Archibald notices stuff, like the in-flight safety cards tucked into the seat backs:

On our recent trip to Mexico we flew with a domestic airline from Mexico City to the Yucatan. Their safety card illustrations felt very Mexican to me. Several figures appeared to be in prayer.

Damn right they’re in prayer! They’re being catapulted across the continent inside a gigantic hunk of metal that could at any random moment fall from the sky and become a flaming ball of death.

I’m a confirmed atheist who ridicules agnostics for their hedging lack of conviction, but when the tube-of-death starts bouncing this way and that mid-flight because of poor maintenance or sky demons or the drunken antics of the pilot, even I start pleading with every Great Spirit, Spaghetti Monster, and Sky God I can think of to please save me! and promise eternal devotion should I return to solid ground in one piece. It’s true that I subsequently renege on my end of the deal, but that’s only because I don’t know which particular deity to credit and I’ve read that they’re not cool with sharing the credit amongst themselves. Still, in my moment of need — when the plane is in convulsions, I can’t clutch onto the armrest hard enough, and all the completed Sunday crossword puzzles and pretty girls and perfectly grilled steaks I’ve ever known are flashing before my eyes — at that moment of need I am a believer, a veritable Joan of Arc and Sri Kanakadasa and Zhong You rolled into one, willing to walk a thousand miles with stones in my boots for the Lord — any Lord, all Lords.

Anyway, Archibald continues:

The illustrator for this safety card was perhaps influenced by the visual vocabulary of ex votos; paintings created to express gratitude to a saint for a miracle. These small pieces of folk art show the bad thing that happened (like a sick child) and the saint who answered prayers for help.


In Mexican churches and shrines you will sometimes see large collections of ex votos recording all sorts of accidents.

Yep, the whole point of this post was to show a picture of a horse kicking a guy in the groin.

That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the New Glasgow News:

Thank you for my parking ticket. My trip to downtown New Glasgow proved eventful.

I’m $20 shorter for my visit to the Salvation Army Thrift Store looking for treasures.

On this terribly cold day, I couldn’t find free parking, so I put money in the meter (not enough though). I left wondering why no other town has these meters. There is free parking, but that applies only to those who have no problem walking.

We all want accessibility. Businesses need public support. I wonder why amalgamation never worked — maybe it’s attitude.

To all the Tim Hortons and McDonald’s regular users, try to get a group going, once a week, take the bus service to a new location with your friends and enjoy the ride. One day we may not be able to drive. Have a good day out there.

Cathy Baker, Westville




Community Design Advisory Committee (11:30am, Alderney Landing) — here comes the Centre Plan, the blueprint for ramping up growth in central Halifax and Dartmouth.


No public meetings.



Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Deputy Minister Frank Dunn will tell the politicians why fish farms are totally safe and will bring prosperity forever, amen.


No public meetings.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Pathology (Wednesday, 10am, Room 3107, The Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jordan Warford will defend his thesis, “The Effects of the Proteoglycan Antagonist Surfen on Animal Models of Demyelination with Comparison to In Vitro T Cell and Macrophage Responses.”

The Grid (Wednesday, 10:30am, MA 310) — Parth Pancholi will speak on “A Multi-depot Crew Routing Optimization for Post-disaster Service Restoration.”

Sterile Packages (Wednesday, 11:30am, MA 310) — Brecht Cardoen will speak on “A Set-covering Approach to Design Orthopaedic Procedure Packs for a Medium-sized Belgian Hospital.”

YouTube video

I Shot Andy Warhol (Wednesday, 8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Mary Harron’s 1996 film.


Innovative Solutions (Thursday, 8:30am, Westin Nova Scotia) — senior Engineering students show off their design projects. They get 10 extra points every time they use “innovation.”

Feng Zhang (Thursday, 6:15pm, Scotia Auditorium, McCain Building) — Zhang is the 2016 Recipient of the Canada Gairdner Award; he worked on the CRISPR gene editing tool, which is a very big deal.

Physical Computing (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Sowmya Somanath, from the University of Calgary, will speak on “Engaging Makers in Physical Computing.”

Juanita Díaz-Cotto

War on Drugs (Thursday, 4pm, Room 212, Henry Hicks Building) — Juanita Díaz-Cotto, from the State University of New York, will speak on “The US War on Drugs and its Impact on Latinas, Chicanas, and Latin American Women.”

Research Presentations (Thursday, 4:30pm, 3H, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Day 1 of this year’s research presentations from the honours students of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Immigration Detention in Canada and the United States (Thursday, 6pm, Room 1020, Rowe Management Building) — Juanita Diaz-Cotto, Morey Williams, Carrie Dawson, and Julie Chamagne will speak.

The Ark (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Steven Mannell will speak about “Living Lightly on the Earth: Building an Ark for Prince Edward Island.” More info here.

In the harbour

4:30am: OOCL Kaohsiung, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
7am: ZIM New York, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
3:30pm: Zenith Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5pm: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
9:30pm: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
9:30pm: ZIM New York, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica


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. Just because he’s running doesn’t mean he’s winning. Big difference of opinion on what makes a good councillor and what makes a good/adequate MLA. So far the incumbent just needs to sit still and watch.

  2. New names needed for new HRM ferries – I nominate Gracie Mae Glasgow for a lifetime of dedication to raising children. Ron Shaw on CTV last Saturday had a wonderful,sensitive report of the celebration of the life of a remarkable person.

  3. The Whitman story reminds me of being a 5 year old child in the 60’s.We used to play a game called N—-r baby in which each child was assigned a number. Someone would yell N—–r baby number 5 throw a ball in the air then that person would have to retrieve the ball. We had no idea what the N word meant. It was a child’s game played by ignorant kids.

    Once I found out I never played the game again. Difference between that and Matt Whitman. About 40 years. Time for a public official to grow up.

    Do the people of Hammond’s Plains really want this babyman to represent them in the legislature?

    1. I agree. He seems very immature. Why would an adult man make a video of himself doing this? Does he not have anything better to do with his time?

  4. Glad to see this time around someone is looking out for downtown businesses during construction. Might want to put a sweater on when taking that train in February though.

  5. That folk art illustration shows the reason why I never get into a horse’s kicking zone.