1. War deaths

Lionel Desmond (top right corner) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown. Photo: Trevor Bungay/Facebook (via GlobalNews)

“Aaliyah Desmond celebrated her 10th birthday three days after Christmas. She had just begun horseback riding, and announced to her family on New Year’s Eve she wanted to be a veterinarian,” reports Michael MacDonald for the Canadian Press:

“She always had a nice little smile,” her great-aunt, Catherine Hartling, said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the first day back at school after the holidays, RCMP were called to Aaliyah’s home in Upper Big Tracadie at about 6 p.m. They found the bodies of four people who had been shot: Aaliyah; her parents Lionel and Shanna Desmond, both in their early 30s; and her 52-year-old grandmother, Brenda Desmond.

Police said her father killed himself, but would not confirm outright the deaths were a murder-suicide, saying only there was no forced entry and no lingering danger to the public.

Relatives said military veteran Lionel Desmond loved his family, but came back from Afghanistan a changed man.

In a separate article, Lee Berthiaume reports, also for the Canadian Press:

A family member said Desmond was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Afghanistan, and had been seeking treatment without success after his release from the military. Veterans Affairs refused to comment on the case, citing privacy laws.

The tragedy has thrust the treatment of current and former soldiers suffering from mental injuries back into the spotlight, highlighting the ongoing challenges in helping the thousands suffering from hidden wounds.

PTSD has been the top diagnosis for the hundreds of troops released from the military for medical reasons each year since at least 2014. Some 18 military personnel took their own lives in 2015, many of whom had sought some type of mental-health treatment shortly before their deaths.

War never ends. We think there is “victory” or at least cessation of battle, but the conflict continues on forever. There is never a victor; we are all victims. War reverberates, expressed as PTSD, suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction, broken families, wounded communities, skewed economies, perverted moral systems… for all of history. We are today still suffering the wounds of ancient wars not even recorded in our history books; more recent armed conflicts like the world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan resonate more loudly.

We should remember the never-ending pain of war every time the chest-thumping warmongers encourage us to embark on another one.

2. Stadium dreams

I’ll be publishing the weekly update of new corporate filings later today, but I want to draw attention to this entry:

JSA Sport Architecture Inc.
Nature of business: “Sport architecture and consulting firm.”
President: Robert Johnston
Rut-roh. Bob Johnston designs stadiums. His past work includes the Moncton Stadium, the stadium in Ajax, Ontario named for a grocery chain, the redesign of the stadium in Regina named for a potash company (the photo above), the soccer stadium in Hamilton named for a coffee chain, and a stadium at York University named for a fucking bank, among others.  Johnston describes his mission as follows:

JSA Sport is recognized both nationally and internationally as a leading a pioneering for in Games facilities planning, the design of sports facilities that meet the requirements of staging international sports and Games events, as well as the training and performance demands of professional and amateur athletes at training facilities, recreation centers, and competitive event venues worldwide. 

As an international leader in sport architecture, JSA Sport is considered a world-class authority on the programming, design, and construction of sport, recreation, high performance sports training, sports medicine, wellness, and kinesiology research facilities. 

Large, expensive, and complicated, high performance sports facilities are quite challenging projects. Many expectations, including those of athletes, must be exceeded. To achieve success these project’s demand exceptional effort from an entire project team. 

That begs the question: What is he doing in Nova Scotia?

I called JSA yesterday to ask what they’re up to, but Johnston is in Mexico, so wasn’t available to comment.

But I have a not-too-crazy conspiracy theory: The port just filled in all that land in the Bedford Basin around Africville and is talking about moving the Ceres Terminal to Dartmouth. That will “free up” something like 400 acres of land adjacent to the Bedford Highway and the MacKay Bridge, which, I’m guessing, will soon be the suggested site of a stadium.

3. Pedestrian struck

A police release from last night:

At approximately 8:50 p.m., Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of a car vs. pedestrian collision that had occurred in the area of Albro Lake and Victoria Road in Dartmouth.  

A 47-year-old man driving a car travelling westbound on Albro Lake Road struck a pedestrian after travelling through the intersection of Victoria Road.  A 26-year-old man from the metro area was transported to hospital by paramedics.  At this time, paramedics believe that his injuries could be life threatening; however, more extensive testing will be completed at hospital. 

A subsequent email police sent to reporters notes that “the pedestrian’s condition has improved and his injuries are not life-threatening, it is expected that he will be treated and released.”

I’m not faulting the cops (I don’t know how else they can convey the information), but “life-threatening” is an ambiguous term. I’ve had people tell me that family members “survived” being struck by a car but died from injuries related to the incident years later. More recently, a friend had a relative who was involved in one of those incidents termed “non-life threatening”: he had his leg amputated.

Many pedestrians have been struck at the intersection of Victoria and Albro Lake Roads, most notably a 68-year-old grandfather who was killed in 2012. The man was walking with the light and was struck by a driver turning left; a 60-year-old man was fined $700 for failing to yield. A memorial to the dead man was maintained on the light post at the corner for many years, but was taken down a few months ago.

I’m fascinated by roadside memorials — there’s another a block away, at Victoria and Primrose, where a motorcyclist was killed last year, and about a dozen more scattered around Dartmouth. I wrote about them here, noting that:

Is there a point to all this? I don’t know. People die, and people dying unexpectedly especially moves their loved ones. It’s worth noting that a heck of a lot of people die on highways, as pedestrians, as drivers, as bicyclists, whatever. Our roads are death corridors. Be careful.

But more than that, are the roadside memorials re-claiming death as a part of life that’s been sanitized and removed from us? Recently I was tramping around old graveyards, and I realized that back in the day a cemetery was connected to each church, perhaps a statement about the cycle of life and death, and the role the church community plays in dealing with unbearable loss and the impossible chore of continuance. I’m not a church-goer, so I have no idea how the religious deal with death nowadays, but I’m not aware of many modern cemeteries actually attached to the place of worship. Now, you drive to the cemetery, out in the suburbs usually, to visit your deceased loved ones for a private ceremony, just you and the tombstone. There’s no longer the public acknowledgement of death, the in-your-face recognition of loss every Sunday while you join your faith community. While we all die alone, for the living, death is what binds us. Maybe the roadside memorials are an attempt to bring back the community recognition of death, and the loss that entails.

4. IT

A description on Nova Scotia’s post-secondary institutions’ internet networks.

A reader points me to a Request for Information issued by Interuniversity Services Inc. Yeah, I’ve never heard of ISI before either, but it is a non-profit corporation composed of the province’s colleges and universities in order to share costs on a range of purchases (and which notably doesn’t post tender offers on the provincial tender website) — in this case IT networks:

Higher-Ed networks must provide widespread wireless connectivity in the expanding world of the Internet of Things, wired/fibre connectivity as required, highly secure, abundant bandwidth, high capacity connectivity between servers and with other networks such as Canada’s advanced research and education network (CANARIE) and the Internet, be always there, and be always on. The purpose of this RFI is to identify various ways these ideal network characteristics and outcomes can be achieved and maintained, what services are available in the marketplace to assist or deliver these ideal network characteristics, and what are the high-level impacts to operations, technology and finances.

Currently, each university maintains its own internet system. Outsourcing those systems to a single IT provider “would mean the loss of local jobs (such as the Network staff at Dalhousie, SMU, etc.) and very likely have many underpaid and out of province jobs,” notes the reader. “This would be a windfall for Bell Alliant (the suspected favoured provider).”


1. Customs House

HB Jefferson NS Archives no 1992-304 / 43.1.4 165

Stephen Archibald has an interesting photo essay about the Halifax Customs House, which was constructed around 1890 at the corner of George Street and Bedford Row, and which was torn down in 1960:

Some extraordinary photos of the Customs House clock tower were taken during World War II by H.B.Jefferson, the official censor. His job was to ensure no details useful to the enemy were printed or broadcast in the media. From his office high in the tower of the  Dominion Building he had a panoramic view of the harbour and for his own amusement he took 100s of photos that record wartime harbour traffic (see them all on the NS Archives site).

Of most interest to me are the foregrounds of his photos that show the tightly packed, working waterfront. In this view, lines of laundry (from a caretaker?) are strung from the Customs House clock tower. A breathtaking image.

In the post, we also learn the history of those NSCAD lions.

2. Port of Sydney

Mary Campbell, of the Cape Breton Spectator (behind paywall), spoke with Fotios Katsoulas, a shipping analyst with UK-based Affinity Research, about his recent report saying that “the current environment is not in favour of projects like this [the port of Sydney]…  it looks rather impossible that the trade will urgently need a purpose-built green field jumbo terminal in the short term.”

“I hear the port proponents clamoring that we’re not talking short-term,” notes Campbell, “we’re looking ahead to the inevitable arrival of the 18k+ ships, to which I say: in that case, why could you not give CBRM councilors more time to consider the deal with SHIP?”

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

I wish to comment on recent articles I read or commentaries I have watched on the composition of the product called many names but I will stick to pot because it is easy to spell.

I understand that this substance known as THC, as tested from product obtained from different sources, now contains no substance known as CBD.

I understand that the pot sold in the 60’s and 70’s contained equal amounts of these two substances and that the CBD was a neutralizer to the harmful effects of the THC.

Why is there no CBD in any of the tests conducted? My theory is that the land used to grow the current pot was previously used in commercial farming operations or to grow GMO’s and the residue in the soil from the herbicides killed the CBD.

Pot will soon be legal and for that I am happy because I believe that the pot as sold in the 60s and 70s would have provided pain relief with fewer harmful effects than the commercially produced drugs to control pain. Any pot is harmful to the developing brain and should be avoided by children and youth.

I also believe we should be able to find land which has not been contaminated with poisons or if the CBD was deliberately bred out of the current commercially grown pot maybe we can procure some ancient grain pot and produce it and sell it on soil which has been farmed by traditional methods. 

Marion E. MacCallum, Charlottetown

Yesterday, I commented on Jim Harpell, the Inverness resident who reads the Herald. He sent me the following email:

Hi, Tim,

Just want people to know that I do not purchase the Herald and get notified by an neighbour that she has cut out a piece which she knows I will want to read and that I will respond to it. She knows me too well, I guess. She knows which articles will press my buttons.

Jim Harpell.



Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (4:30pm, Office and Maintenance Building, Point Pleasant) — here’s the agenda.

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (6pm, Alderney Gate) — the council will approve some minor tweaks to the Harbour Island development in Burnside.


No public meetings.

On campus


“The Bright Stars of the New Year” (7:15 pm and 8:45pm, Halifax Planetarium) — This month, the brightest star is actually a planet. Also, in the spirit of the season: newly born stars. Five dollars at the door; reductions for families; minimum age eight years old. Reservations required: go to

In the harbour

Atlantic Cartier. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Atlantic Cartier. Photo: Halifax Examiner

6am: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England

Acadian. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Acadian. Photo: Halifax Examiner Credit: Halifax Examiner

8:30am: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Anchorage from Saint John
10am: Agios Minas, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk

Oceanex Sanderling. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Oceanex Sanderling. Photo: Halifax Examiner

10am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
11am: Atlantic Kingfisher, tug/supply vessel, moves from Imperial Oil to Pier 9
2:30pm: Bahri Abha, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Baltimore
3:30pm: Marguerite Ace, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4pm: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
5pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
6:30pm: Cape Brasilia, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Beaumont, Texas
8pm: Acadian, oil tanker, moves from Anchorage to Irving Oil
10pm: Margaretha, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 27 from St. John’s
11pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41


Top row, left to right: Russell Gragg, Jennifer Henderson, Admin person extraordinaire Iris, Tim Bousquet, Stephen Kimber, Linda Pannozzo, Evelyn White, Katie Toth. Bottom row: Erica Butler, Tempa Hull, El Jones

I got to hang with the Examiner crew last night. I’m honestly humbled to have such a talented and kind group of folks working with me.

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

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  1. Regarding your thoughts on the sanitization of death from daily life, it’s a trend that’s been ongoing for the past century. The term “living room” replacing “parlour” in homes is a very deliberate trend, where the room used to be commonly used to lay out deceased family members for people to say their goodbyes. There’s a lot of literature out there on the trend written a lot better and with a lot more knowledge than I could produce, it’s an interesting topic.

  2. RE: Life threatening versus non-life threatening. I could be way off on this, but I think these terms relate moreso to where someone ends up after they are triaged at the hospital. When you get here and you’re sent to ICU –Life threatening. If you’re sent to an Intermediate Care Unit (IMCU or Stepdown) –Stable but serious condition. If you’re treated in the ER and released, or admitted to a ward –stable.

    This is a good question for NSHA. Like you mentioned, actual injuries or conditions are deceptive. I’ve seen people admitted who seem lucid, functional, no pain, no trauma, but their blood shows they are in acute kidney injury, and are shipped to ICU or IMCU. Terminology in this regards is a slippery snake!

  3. Thanks for your perspective, Pam Rubin. I was about to endorse Tim’s views on the lasting harm of wars and to lament the lack of services for the mentally ill here in Nova Scotia while making one more point: every six days in Canada, a woman is killed by her intimate partner. The reality of this frightening pattern is being obscured by the coverage of this case — and of so many other cases where media can find something to save them from having to face the truth.

    1. Yes Sharon – obscured is a good way to describe the coverage across media. Thanks for your points. If we can’t even name it how can we address it? As you point out, every six days there is another murder of an intimate partner. If the community was prioritizing safety for families then someone presenting with mental distress and PTSD begging for help 1. would get it. and 2. would be assessed for family violence risk in a responsible way using a research-based tool like this one (which is not assessing for PTSD but rather co-occurring risk factors for violence): Maybe this did happen at the hospital – I really don’t know but I am not aware of this sort of screening taking place in our Nova Scotia ER’s or health care system generally

  4. Worth noting that all Dal residences are provided with Internet service (and where applicable, television service) by Eastlink, as of summer 2016. With everyone rolling in with 3 devices each, Dal’s bandwidth requirements are doubling annually. Something has to be done, and an RFI is a reasonable place to start. I do agree with the submitting reader that bringing in a third party has to be done carefully, for many reasons.

    I’m skeptical that Dal is paying trained network engineers more than the private sector. Not impossible, but I’ve sent the wage scale they are on and I’d be surprised if Aliant could keep people at those rates. And the cheap stuff – like support – is provided by low-paying student jobs, often filled by students who can’t work off campus.

  5. Tim, forgive me for being picky. In the “Stadium Dreams” bit, you write “… the redesign of the stadium in Regina named for a potash company (the photo above)…” It’s not a photo, it’s a render. One of those unrealistic images you often call out when architecture firms show us their dream views of impending Halifax monstrosities… 😉 Gawd. My first comment as a subscriber is criticism. Do I have to send back my t-shirt?

  6. The relationship between PTSD and violence is complex. Although PTSD is associated with higher rates of intimate partner violence, it is not necessarily causal. Those with a PTSD diagnoses usually have a greater presentation of other proven risk factors for violence,than those without a PTSD diagnosis. I link here to some information, which helps understand the lack of evidence for a causal link, but which itself leaves out the single greatest association: being male with a belief in the importance of conventional masculinity and a belief in the use of violence as “masculine”: Point being that war and war mongering must be critiques along with the conventional notion of masculinity which contains them. Thank you Tim and others for demonstrating a different way to be a man, by challenging warmongering with words, and by caring about violence in families and against women.

  7. I like the idea of a well-designed, multifunctional outdoor stadium for Halifax, provided that……
    Besides, it would make the city world class.

    Happy New Year everyone.

    1. You know what else would make this city world class? How about having the lowest rate of homelessness in North America?. Or the best day cares that would offer real subsidies for the working poor that will never get to attend anything at the stadium that their taxes will help to pay for. I have a long list of things to strive for in this town, and a stadium does not make the list at all.

  8. I thank you for covering the recent murders in Upper Tracadie and for reminding us that this never-ending war and war mongering has tremendous consequences for all of us. I would point out however, that “PTSD” is not the likely reason for these killings. As a counsellor specializing in trauma, I am working with many people with post-traumatic stress who are completely non-violent. There are many veterans with PTSD diagnoses who are also not violent people. This is especially true for female veterans. I am not aware of any research that says that PTSD is a root cause of violence. Only talking about war and PTSD obscures the thread that runs through almost every murder-suicide: over 95% are committed by men. The men have received a cultural and/or familial message that killing one’s family members, especially women, is a “masculine” thing to do in certain circumstances. Killing is the ultimate control, and until we stop teaching men that they need to and should control female family members, with weapons if they see fit, this will be the predictable result.

    1. You don’t have a clue as to his physical and mental condition and what he had been through. And neither do I.

      1. I’ll second your comment. Interestingly, the psychotherapy profession has been utterly ineffectual in treating actual PTSD in combat veterans – the talk circles which were created by Vietnam war veterans without professional help worked much better.

  9. Regarding war, the book “Tribe” by Sebastian Junger offers an interesting perspective on the issue of PTSD & the various social problems associated with veterans.

    There’s a few key points in the book:

    1) The IDF (Israeli Defence Force) has very low rates of PTSD/drug abuse/alcoholism/suicide among combat veterans even though they regularly engage in combat.

    2) Although PTSD mostly only occurs in combat veterans, the other social problems associated with war fighting occur at a comparable rate in people who go overseas but do not engage in combat or even dangerous activities like patrols – even people who are technicians etc who do not leave a rear echelon base for instance.

    3) PTSD rates have been rising with the advent of air travel – it took soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan less than 48 hours sometimes to rotate off duty and step out of an airport in North America. It took weeks or months in World War 2, and critically, the time in between the cessation of hostilities was spent in a structured environment, surrounded by their comrades and subject to discipline.

    4) Junger notes that warriors who fought in the not-infrequent wars between the various tribes of pre-contact North America were similarly segregated from their communities for a while after hostilities ended – the length of time ranged from a couple days to more than a month depending on the given tribe’s attitudes towards war, which varied considerably.

    The central thesis is that the problem is the lack of community and anomie in our society rather than war itself. We’re all fairly used to these conditions, but the stark contrast between the conditions on military operations, including ones where no shots are fired makes people aware of how crappy things really are.

  10. There used to be one official censor, huh? Now there are so many unofficial ones, still working to “ensure no details useful to the enemy were printed or broadcast in the media.” But now they are called Communications Officers.

    And their definition of “the enemy” is much broader now.