News

1. After 11 days without power, people in northern Nova Scotia are frustrated

Some of the trees that fell near Keith Elliott’s home in Wallace River. Photo: Keith Elliott

“Frustration is growing among Nova Scotians, including thousands in Colchester and Cumberland counties, who are now into Day 11 without power after tropical storm Fiona hit the province,” Suzanne Rent reports.

Rent speaks to people in the Wallace, Tatamagouche, and Truro areas, including Examiner contributor Joan Baxter, on how they are coping for so long without power.

Gloria Demers lives in Truro Heights:

Demers lives alone in a house in Truro Heights and said she’s been without power since Friday, Sept. 23 at 10:30pm as Fiona was sweeping over the province.

“I don’t trust [the Nova Scotia Power outage map] after four or five times of being switched,” Demers said.

Demers said she had lots of water and thought she had a lot of food, but that has since all spoiled. She uses a propane burner to boil water for drinks and food. She said she has lots of light from solar lights. She doesn’t have generator and has no way to heat her home. At night, she bundles up in sweaters and blankets. She said this is the longest she’s gone without power.

“I’m getting tired of it after 10, 11 days, whatever it is,” Demers said. “That’s the hardest part. Just waiting. Right up until now, I’ve been able to cope, but now that the weather has turned with frost, it’s pretty cold. The house is cold.”

One thing that strikes me reading Rent’s piece is how the level of personal frustration is accompanied by an understanding that things could be worse and that individual line crews are doing their best. Here’s Keith Elliott of Wallace:

“I know the guys are doing everything they can. This isn’t normal,” Elliott said. “There is a lot of extra help. I get a little frustrated when they keep bouncing timelines around. I know they don’t have any idea, but at the same time, I can’t tell anyone about my business. I’m at least a week behind, maybe more, by the time I get everything rounded up. There are a lot of unknowns right now.”

Read the full story here.

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2. Fare deal: Halifax Transit reveals pricing for electronic tickets

One of Halifax Transit’s paper tickets is seen in front of Halifax City Hall in a photo illustration. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Halifax Transit is finally on the cusp of getting electronic ticketing. Zane Woodford reports from yesterday’s municipal Transportation Standing Committee on the types of passes that will be available, what they’ll cost, and how the system will work for riders:

Transit users will use the app like a transfer or monthly pass, showing the driver their screen when they board the bus or enter the ferry terminal.

After looking at what 35 other municipalities offer residents, outreach and engagement specialist Hannah McIntyre wrote in the report that Halifax Transit conducted an online survey. Using that information, it landed on the recommended options: one-day, two-day, seven-day, 10-ride, and 20-ride passes.

The options represent varying discounts on the cash fare of $2.75. A 10-pack of paper tickets reduces the cost per trip to $2.47, a 10% discount, for example.

Admittedly, I’m just some dude who travels, and not a specialist who has examined a bunch of transit systems, but I’m curious about why Halifax Transit chose this phone- and- app-based system and not something like Opus (Montreal), Presto (Toronto), or MetroCard (New York), which you can load up and then just tap when you get on the bus. I would assume the less drivers have to verify passes and such, the better that is, allowing them to just do their jobs.

You can read the rest of Woodford’s story here. It is for subscribers only. Subscribe here today, and lock in savings before subscription costs go up soon.

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We recognize this is a tight economy, and we’ve put off increasing rates for as long as we could. We thank you for your continued support.

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3. Jubilee Junction owner says no consultation took place before introduction of bylaw limiting hours

Mike Habib, the owner of Jubilee Junction Convenience in Halifax, poses behind the counter on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“The owner of one of a handful of businesses targeted by a new bylaw said he had no communication with the municipality before the proposal came to council,” Zane Woodford reports.

Woodford speaks to Mike Habib, who has owned Jubilee Junction since 1989, and runs it with his family. Jubilee Junction is one of a handful of stores targeted by a bylaw that passed first reading at municipal council last week. It would limit their opening hours to 7am to 11pm. (Jubilee stays open until 2:30am on Friday and Saturday nights).

Photo from Instagram

In addition to looking at the reasoning behind the bylaw, Woodford also reports on councillors’ claims about consultation:

Deputy Mayor Pam Lovelace tweeted, “These are 2 businesses that agree with the change. 0 letters of complaints were received opposing the amendment. The Bylaw changes passed and will be implemented.”

The number two comes from [development officer Andrew] Faulker’s report, where he noted, “There were two responses from the website posting in support of the by-law.” He didn’t write that those responses were businesses. Businesses not replying to letters, the kind Habib said he didn’t receive, doesn’t constitute support. And the bylaw changes have not passed second reading, and as of now, they won’t be implemented.

Read Woodford’s full story here.

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4. Protestors block glyphosate-based spraying at 13 sites in Annapolis Valley as season ends

North Mountain opponents to aerial herbicide spraying “occupy” camp. Photo: Duke Karsten

This item is written by Ethan Lycan-Lang

Herbicide spraying season has come to a close in Nova Scotia for another year, and protestors are declaring victory at 13 sites where they’d been camping out to block the use of glyphosate near their communities.

Glyphosate, which is listed as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization, is commonly used in herbicides that some companies in the forestry industry drops from the air on wooded lands to kill trees and other vegetation that compete with softwood trees planned for harvest. Despite the health-risks associated with glyphosate, it is federally approved by Health Canada for use in herbicide spraying.

But community members surrounding spray sites in Digby, Annapolis, and Kings counties have been so concerned with the potential health effects of aerial glyphosate-based spraying on the areas surrounding spray sites, as well as its impact on biodiversity on those lands, that a number of them have been camped out over a month to prevent its use. And they’ve managed to block the practice on 13 sites for another year.

“This is the third year that people have camped out by proposed spray sites, successfully protecting those sites from aerial spraying,” said Nina Newington, in a news release from Don’t Spray Us! Nova Scotia, the community group that helped organize protests around western Nova Scotia this September.

“This is the first year when so many people in so many different communities have taken direct action.”

Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment and Climate Change told the National Observer the spray season is now over for 2022, though Don’t Spray Us! say the department told them ARF Enterprises, Inc. — the application holders for spray all the spray sites where protestors have camped out around the Valley — could potentially spray later in October should they give the necessary 20-day public notice. But protestors are satisfied by that point in the year, spraying would be too expensive and laboursome for ARF to go through with it, and have left their campsites.

Though protestors have blocked spraying at a limited number of sites for another year, the practice continues. Their larger goal is a province-wide moratorium on glyphosate-based spraying in Nova Scotia.

“Most people can’t believe this toxic practice is still allowed,” said Newington in Tuesday’s release. “Don’t we know better? Yes, we do. It is time to put a stop to the aerial spraying of glyphosate based herbicides on forests anywhere in Nova Scotia.”

The province has previously told the Examiner that herbicide spraying is a federally regulated issue and they follow Health Canada’s guidelines. ARF Enterprise’s has yet to respond to a request for interview or a statement on the practice or the protests.

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5. Province moves closer to modular dialysis units

Pictures of kidneys, or even models of kidneys, kind of freak me out. So here is a photo of kidney beans instead. Photo: Volodymyr Hryshchenko / Unsplash

Back in 2019, the provincial government considered building modular dialysis units to deploy around the province. Now, the project may actually move ahead, Jean Laroche reports for CBC:

The concept under review is called Design for Manufacture and Assembly. Like building a prefab home, the components for the dialyses units would be designed and made indoors, then shipped to their new home communities, where they would be assembled.

This would cut construction time for units in half.

David Benoit, the Department of Health’s senior official on the project, laid out some of the reasons it should be faster to build dialysis units in this way.

“Some of the benefits include an improved scheduled adherence, because you’re able to actually manufacture the building in a controlled environment,” said Benoit. “You can have replication of processes and procedures which then should lead to a quality product at the end of that in a shorter amount of time.

Benoit also notes this means you could add the units on to existing buildings, without having to build from scratch.

With the number of dialysis patients steadily rising, this seems like a positive step. It would also cut down on the distance people have to travel for their life-saving treatments.

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Views

We, the Others: How the political discourse around immigration gets so much wrong

We, the Others author Toula Drimonis. Photo: Janice Lawandi

Last night, Quebecers elected François Legault and his CAQ party to a second consecutive majority government. As Jonathan Montpetit writes in his CBC story on the campaign, the run-up to the election included appalling (my word, not his) statements about immigration, from both the party leader and the immigration minister at dissolution:

[Legault] associated immigration with violence and extremism when trying to spell out Quebec values…

Legault also had to publicly scold his immigration minister, Jean Boulet, when it was revealed Boulet had said during a debate that 80 per cent of newcomers to the province don’t bother finding work or learning French — both claims that are verifiably false.

On the same day, however, Legault said it would a “bit suicidal” for Quebec to increase its immigration levels, insisting — as he has done for months — that accepting more immigrants entails a threat to the French language. (In fact, 81 per cent of immigrants in Quebec speak French, according to Statistics Canada.)

Comments like these make Montreal-based writer Toula Drimonis’s new book, We, the Others, all the more relevant.

Part memoir, part history, part manifesto, the book unpacks the complexity of immigrant and second-generation identities, and explores how the political discourse around immigration gets so much wrong.

There is so much I appreciated about this book: Drimonis’s questioning why those migrating for economic reasons (as her parents did) are somehow seen as less worthy; the notion that immigrants and refugees should be perpetually grateful for their life in Canada; what we lose when we reduce newcomers to their economic contributions; and the nuanced and multi-layered discussion of immigrant identity.

Early in the book, she writes:

Politicians and those resistant to newcomers will talk about economic migrants as interlopers who chose to leave for greener pastures. They say their circumstances didn’t really “merit” a departure to new lands… For some reason, economic devastation and the absence of viable prospects aren’t valid reasons for seeking a better life elsewhere. As if there is a real choice to make when you are left with no choices… Emerging from ten years of deadly warfare during World War II, a brutal German occupation that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Greeks from famine and mass executions, and then, in the late 1940s, a civil war that pitted friend against friends, Greece was hopelessly poor and unable to provide for a generation that longed for peace and prosperity.

It was in this context that Drimonis’s parents left their home in southern Greece in 1963 — a year after my mother, who lives what’s now a one-hour drive away, did the same.

The Cover of We, the Others, showing Toula Drimonis’s father behind the counter of his restaurant.

While I thought I was pretty well-versed in the history of immigration in Canada, I have to say that I knew nothing about Toronto’s anti-Greek riot of 1918, which came in the wake of a veteran being thrown out of a Greek-owned cafe, after assaulting a waiter:

A rumour began to circulate among veterans that “one of their own” was kicked out of the cafe by foreigners… The incident would end up triggering the biggest race riot the city has ever known, and one of the largest anti-Greek riots in the world.

Every Greek-owned business in the area was destroyed.

As Drimonis makes clear in the book, the arguments against immigration ⁠— they’re not like us, they’re dirty, they’re opportunists, they’re criminals ⁠— rarely change. And the real-world results of false beliefs ⁠— they kicked out a veteran for no reason, Muslim businesses in Montreal refuse to serve women, the police are putting Islamic slogans on their cars ⁠— remain all-too destructive.

While many of Drimonis’s examples are in the context of Quebec, (she’s been a well-known commentator on issues related to immigration and identity in the province for a couple of decades), much applies to Canada as a whole. One of the chapters is set in Nova Scotia. It’s also easy for those outside Quebec to write off the province as racist, and Drimonis resists that urge as well. She loves Quebec! It’s her home. She’s not trying to slag it as particularly awful to immigrants.

On a personal level, this book really resonated with me because I have spent so much of my life feeling like I am not really this or not really that. My dad was Jewish. His father was an immigrant. My mum is a Greek immigrant who now lives in Greece again after having spent several decades in Canada. I read and write Greek and can speak it fluently, albeit with an accent. I’ve spent about half my life in Montreal, and half in Nova Scotia. I can feel immediately comfortable in the familiar presence of anglo Montreal Jews (or half Jews), and among Greeks. I can play up different sides of my identity, and yet never quite feel like I belong anywhere.

From the book:

Greek Canadians are Greek and they are Canadian… For some, Greek identity overrides everything. You know the type: Greek flag in the window, a tattoo of the 300, worry beads in the car, doesn’t marry outside of the community, teaches the kids to speak Greek…

Here’s what happens if, like me, you’re the type that floats effortlessly between two (or even more) worlds and does not privilege either: while your community’s elders bemoan the slow but steady erosion of language and customs, the larger society will congratulate you for passing as one of them. In the end, you will never be enough for either. You will learn to live in this no man’s land that has ever-shifting borders and you will never be sure which side will generate the attack, the guilt trip, the reproach.

This is a multi-layered and thoughtful book. Well worth the read.

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Noticed

An earthenware mug commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. Photo: Stephen Archibald

Going to take one last kick at the royal can today, with two very different pieces on the monarchy, Queen Elizabeth, and her funeral. First to Stephen Archibald, who offers us a very different installment of his Noticed in Nova Scotia blog, in which he looks back on the way the monarchy has touched his life, despite his personal indifference to it:

It hadn’t occurred to me that maybe I might have something to say on the occasion of the passing of our Queen. But as I listened to commentators marvel at how the world had changed over her long reign I realized that some of my earliest memories are associated with the monarchy.

Archibald was there when then-Princess Elizabeth visited Halifax, and the occasion left him less than impressed:

After a while there was a ripple of excitement and through the legs of the grownups I caught a glimpse of a woman in a light coloured raincoat walking past. There was probably never going to be an easy way to get a four-year-old excited about this princess-lite experience. I was confused and disillusioned, also disappointed and damp.

Despite his disappointment with the princess, Archibald did think that being a prince might be a rather fine thing:

Along with the Queen, other members of the royal family received their share of the attention. I could identify with Prince Charles who was just a year younger that I was. Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up and I did not have a ready answer. One day during this coronation period it occurred to me that being a prince might be a good job. I excitedly told grownups my plan and they without hesitation said it could not happen. I protested but to no avail. Perhaps this early disappointment explains why it took me so long to figure out what to do when I actually grew up.

Growing up in Quebec, the Queen was definitely not everywhere for me. I remember finding it kind of funny and quaint when I went away to summer camp in Ontario and saw the “post office” — wooden cabin where you would buy snacks and drop off letters and postcards to your family, to let them know you were still alive — had “E II R” emblazoned on the building. We most certainly didn’t have her portrait in our classrooms, even in my anglo schools.

On her ubiquity, Archibald writes:

The Queen was on every coin we spent and stamp we licked. Her picture hung at the front of every classroom and in elementary school at least we sang God Save the Queen at the start of every day.

Her portrait also hung in many government offices…

In movie theatres after the last film of the day God Save the Queen was played. If you skipped the credits and dashed out you were saved. But sometimes you wanted to know who was the best boy, or where that sunset was filmed. When the anthem started everyone in the auditorium stood or paused their escape.

This is a fun little piece, that also includes Archibald’s almost accidental glimpse of Charles and Diana, and some thoughts on what it all means.

Extremely different in tone, but also thoughtful and delightful in its own way, is Huw Lemmy’s account of going to Pleasuredome, a London bathhouse, for the funeral. Lemmey, who co-hosts the Bad Gays podcast, writes about the experience in a piece called “Her Majesty’s Loyal Pleasuredome,” for his newsletter, utopian drivel.

Lemmey writes:

Pleasuredrome, a gay sauna hidden in the catacombs beneath London’s 19th century Waterloo train station, announced it would turn off its usual thumping house music and instead screen the funeral of the late monarch, with champagne provided by the proprietors to toast the new one, Charles III.

It was a curiously Dickensian offer, to my mind: in the darkness of subterranean Lambeth, amongst the unspeakable sinning, a couple of small businessmen do their best to uphold some semblance of propriety towards Her Majesty, even if business, being business, must carry on. I can see why Pleasuredrome, a place where gay and bi men go to relax and cruise for sex, seemed so much funnier a place for people to pay respects than, say, a garden centre, charity shop or football club, but there was something in this mix of Dickensian nostalgia and obsequiousness, of darkness, thrill and mourning, of sex, ritual, and stupidity that just seemed to me so, well – so regal. I knew I had to be there, beneath the railway arches, amongst the dry heat and damp men, the shifting eyes and many low voices, the vaulted Victorian brickwork and the discarded lube packets, to watch our gracious Queen laid to rest. After all, We were Her people too.

The piece is very funny: Lemmey talking about “killing the vibe” by talking politics and Prince Andrew in the sauna; the description of a satirical porn film made by “the Cock Destroyers” playing on a screen that’s not showing the funeral. But it’s also thoughtful in its meditation on the monarchy as an institution, the anachronistic Victorian traditions designed to appear medieval in origin, the focus on the royals as a family rather than a powerful institution, and the sheer weirdness of it all:

Combining this fabricated ceremonial culture (a favourite of incipient nationalisms) with the monarchy as the family of the Nation, whose matriarch addresses her subjects on the most sentimental of family holidays, Christmas Day, is a heady mix. Nostalgia is baked into a sentimental nationalism in which continuity, rather than citizenship, is the most highly-prized asset. No wonder people become so emotional on occasions of collectivity like this — all this stuff must mean something, surely? Yet the theatre of the British state is largely a Victorian invention — prior to her reign, the British were noted for being particularly bad at state rituals — and came about with the shrinking of the court. Anarchronism, high camp theatricality, hammy scripts and outrageous outfits: suddenly, there doesn’t seem to be such a distinction between the constitutional monarchy and the Cock Destroyers. It’s only a matter of how much you want to believe.

Two very different pieces, but both worthy of your time.

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Government

City

Tuesday

Advisory Committee on Accessibility in HRM (Tuesday, 4pm, online) — agenda

Wednesday

Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, online) — agenda

Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda

Design Review Committee – Special Meeting (Wednesday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda

Province

Tuesday

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Supportive Housing, with representatives from Dept. of Community Services, Dept. of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Phoenix Youth Programs, and Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia

Human Resources (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — agenda setting, and agency, board, and commission appointments

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — 2022 Report of the Auditor General – Follow-up of 2017, 2018 and 2019 Performance Audit Recommendations

RE: December 2019 Report of the Auditor General: Ch. 2, QEII New Generation Project-Halifax Infirmary and Community Outpatient Centre

November 22, 2017 Report of the Auditor: Ch. 2, Mental Health Services and Ch. 3, Managing Home Care Support Contracts

With representatives from Dept. of Public Works, Dept. of Seniors and Long-term Care, and Nova Scotia Health


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

No events

Wednesday

Herzberg50 Exhibit Launch (Wednesday, 10am, LeMarchant Place) — with speakers from previous Dalhousie winners of the Gerhard Herzberg medal and senior administration

Dalhousie’s 12th Annual Mawio’mi (Wednesday, 10am, Studley Quad) — rain location: McInnes Room. Vendors open 10am, Lunch 11-1pm (while supplies last); Grand Entry 12pm; Powwow 12:30-3:30pm

From the listing:

The Dalhousie Mawio’mi started by a group of Indigenous students wanting to connect and share their culture within the Dalhousie space. Today, the Indigenous Student Centre manages the organization of it with the help of community, students and staff. Each year the big drum, dancers, vendors, and other performers gather to celebrate and share culture on the Studley Quad (McInnes Room Rain Location). This is the largest Indigenous event on campus, with opportunity to meet Mi’kmaq and other Indigenous attendees, take part in culture, purchase from unique vendors and enjoy lunch. Come join us for a great day.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

National Day of Action MMIWG2S (Tuesday, 4:30pm, Library Classroom) — with guest speaker Denise Digiosa, and the hanging of red dresses to commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people. More info and RSVP here.

Wednesday

Reimagining Retail in the Metaverse (Wednesday, 10am, online) — webinar “with retail industry experts and futurists!”


In the harbour

Halifax
05:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Baltimore
05:30: Siem Confucius, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
07:45: Nieuw Statendam, cruise ship with up to 3,214 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a six-day cruise from Boston to Quebec City
15:30: MSC Aniello, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
15:30: Siem Confucius sails for sea
16:00: One Helsinki, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
16:00: ZIM Yokohama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
16:30: Atlantic Star, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Hamburg, Germany
17:45: Star Pride, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Sydney
17:45: Nieuw Statendam sails for Sydney

Cape Breton
11:30: MM Newfoundland, barge, and Lois M, tug, sail from Sydport for sea
13:30: CSL Argosy, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Puerto Nuevo, Colombia
16:00: Patalya, oil tanker, sails from Port Hawkesbury Paper for sea
17:30: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea


Footnotes

Big batch of kimchi fermenting in my kitchen.


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Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. I think a reloadable, tappable card was the original plan that would have taken a few years and required new fare boxes on all the busses. The app was a quick option that doesn’t require changes on the bus. It probably means a tap/card option got pushed a few extra years down the road.

  2. A quick scroll through today’s Morning File has me wanting a big bowl of chilli, loaded with kidney beans, and some kimchi. Thanks for making me hungry again so soon after breakfast. 🙂