On campus
In the harbour


1. Weather

There’s weather today.

2. Examineradio, episode #53

Jennifer Henderson
Freelance reporter Jennifer Henderson

Writes Examineradio producer Russell Gragg:

This week we speak to former CBC radio reporter and now Halifax Examiner freelancer Jennifer Henderson about the ongoing shortage of nursing home beds in Nova Scotia. While recently-enacted policy changes have resulted in a shorter wait list, the new rules are generating some controversy.

Plus, looking for a plum public sector gig? Your odds of landing one just increased exponentially assuming you’re sleeping with a Nova Scotia mover and shaker Doer and Dreamer. No? Then the line to apply for the call centre gig starts over there, pal.

Also, we’re excited to announce the first ever live taping of Examineradio! On Thursday April 7 from 5:30-7:00pm, we welcome Mayor Mike Savage to the stage of the Company House for an interview with Halifax Examiner publisher Tim Bousquet. Tickets are $10 and the whole shindig is a fundraiser for community radio station CKDU-FM.

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(direct download)
(RSS feed)
(Subscribe via iTunes)

After the podcast aired, reader Marianne Walsh wrote to say that the province is threatening to privatize home health care.

3. Side guards

Boston city trucks require side guards. Photo:
Boston city trucks require side guards. Photo:

City staff is recommending against a proposal to put side guards on city trucks. Notes the report:

Side guards cover the gap between a truck’s front and rear wheels, have long been mandatory on most large trucks in Europe and Japan, but they’re not required in North America. The guards help prevent cyclists and pedestrians from falling beneath a truck during a collision and getting crushed under the rig’s wheels.

But costs of retrofitting the hundred or so city-owned trucks would be in the $350,000 to $400,000 range, and so we can’t have that.

In a letter to councillors, Sam Austin cites two recent incidents in which side guards may have helped: Johanna Dean was killed when her bicycle was pulled beneath a truck making a right hook at Windmill and Albro Lake Roads, and an elderly woman was seriously injured when she was pulled beneath the wheels of a garbage truck on Maynard Street in Dartmouth. I can immediately think of a third incident: Jaclyn Hennessey, a pedestrian who who was killed by a right-turning truck as she was crossing the road at Sackville and Barrington Streets.

4. Cat census

Photo: Pat Lee
Photo: Pat Lee

“The Nova Scotia SPCA plans to ramp up efforts to stem the tide of unwanted kitties by launching a provincewide trap, neuter and return program,” writes Pat Lee in Local Xpress:

But first the SPCA needs to know where the cats are.

Earlier this month, the animal welfare organization posted an online survey for rescue agencies and individuals to report cat colonies in their neighbourhoods, stretching from Cape Breton to Yarmouth.


1. Suicide

In the wake of Cody Glode’s death, writes Stephen Kimber:

Health Minister Leo Glavine agreed there is a problem, but says the doctor in charge of mental health services is “putting together a clinical services review.” He offered no timeline for what he called a “stronger” provincial approach.

That’s not good enough.

2. Laurie Graham and the little bitty spot

On Friday, I went on about the appointment of Laurie Graham, spouse of Ray Ivany, to the position of Principal Secretary for Premier Stephen McNeil, at a salary of $160,000. The post received more web hits in one day than anything else I’ve ever written (albeit DEAD WRONG has received many times the total number of hits).

I guess people are interested. There’s a range of opinion.

Several people pointed out that principal secretary is a regular job title, something I didn’t know, although McNeil hasn’t had one. Parker Donham and a couple of others say I’m a sexist. Once that charge is laid, it’s impossible to argue against it; we live in a sexist society, and I’m of it, so like everyone else I will at times write and say something cloddish or stupid. I won’t tell you I have “binders full of women,” but I try to guard against the most egregious sexism. Undoubtedly I fail sometimes, but I don’t think my comments on Graham are an example of that.

El Jones places the hire in the context of affirmative action for people of colour.

Many commenters have supported my analysis, with more than a few sending me private messages.

YouTube video

I don’t want to re-hash the whole thing, but I do want to underscore the one aspect I was trying to get at: the class issue. I’ll start in a roundabout way, by quoting the wonderful scene in Runaway Train, when Manny (played by Jon Voight) tells Jack (Eric Roberts) what getting a job is all about:

I’ll tell you what you gonna do. You gonna get a job. That’s what you gonna do. You’re gonna get a little job. Some job a convict can get, like scraping off trays in a cafeteria. Or cleaning out toilets. And you’re gonna hold onto that job like gold. Because it is gold. Let me tell you, Jack, that is gold. You listenin’ to me? And when that man walks in at the end of the day. And he comes to see how you done, you ain’t gonna look in his eyes. You gonna look at the floor. Because you don’t want to see that fear in his eyes when you jump up and grab his face, and slam him to the floor, and make him scream and cry for his life. So you look right at the floor, Jack. Pay attention to what I’m sayin’, motherfucker! And then he’s gonna look around the room, see how you done. And he’s gonna say, “Oh, you missed a little spot over there. Jeez, you didn’t get this one here. What about this little bitty spot?” And you’re gonna suck all that pain inside you, and you’re gonna clean that spot. And you’re gonna clean that spot. Until you get that shiny clean. And on Friday, you pick up your paycheck. And if you could do that, if you could do that, you could be president of Chase Manhattan… corporations! If you could do that.

I don’t know about being president of Chase Manhattan, but the scene gets to the trade-off for working people: they put themselves in what would otherwise be considered a humiliating situation in return for that gold, the paycheque, the means of providing for oneself and one’s family. With that trade-off, there’s nothing at all humiliating about having a job and working for “the man,” as they used to say. It’s how responsible people behave. It’s honourable.

But when the compact breaks down — when the paycheque isn’t enough to provide for a family, when there’s no job security, when the pension disappears — that’s when the humiliation and anger express themselves. It is, I would argue, a part of the Trump phenomenon south of the border — it is a large chunk of the electorate grabbing the political elites’ face, throwing it to the floor, and hearing it scream.

We are living in an era of imposed austerity, and McNeil has embraced it like no other politician before him in Nova Scotia. He attacks unions. He increases tuition. He slashes social spending.

And that is the context in which the Laurie Graham appointment comes.

Ask the members of the primarily female teachers’ and nurses’ union what they think of the Graham appointment. Ask university students who are seeing a 20 per cent increase in tuition what they think. Ask the recent grads who have had to leave the province in search of jobs that pay a salary large enough to pay their student loan debt what they think. Ask the warehouse worker. Ask the server at the cafe.

Their views will undoubtedly be different from the views of highly paid academics and pundits who see criticism of the Graham appointment as sexist.

Relatedly, I’ve long said that journalists should not go into politics. It calls into question all their past work.

When I hear people say journalists have to take a job in politics because “they’ve got to feed their families” or whatever, I think of the stark reality of most working people. The factory workers who find their jobs exported to China. The fishing people suddenly left empty-handed when cod are gone. The middle managers downsized in the latest corporate merger. And so forth. We never talk about how they’ve got to feed their families and so they need a replacement job of equal or greater pay. No, they’re just expected to take whatever work they can find.

I can’t help but to see “journalists have to work in politics” as a sign of class privilege.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the New Glasgow News:

Dearly Beloved, We are gathered here today to join, by amalgamation, three of our five dear towns with our beloved municipality.

Do you, Pictou, Stellarton and New Glasgow take, in amalgamation, this Municipality of Pictou County? And do you, Pictou County, take these towns as partners, from this day forth?

Will you, three towns, promise there will be no tax hikes, and reassure the county that you will not propose fracking, clear cutting and hazardous materials landfills of any sort?

In return, will you, Pictou County, promise never to complain about being a mere ‘branch plant’ type partner without services, such as banks, doctors and schools, for example?

Then on behalf of the Powers That Be, I hereby pronounce you – two-thirds of One Pictou County!

Thomas Rogers, Cape John



Executive Standing Committee (10am, City Hall) — everything on the agenda is in camera.

Police Commission (12:30, City Hall) — Commissioner Steve Craig wants to know what the cops actually do when they run a criminal record check for non-profits.

Accessibility Committee (4pm, City Hall) — no reports are attached to the agenda.

Districts 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee (4pm, City Hall) — staff is recommending that Mythos Development’s application for a seven-storey apartment building at North and Oxford Streets (where the the former St. Theresa Convent is) be rejected.

North West Community Council (6:30pm,  Acadia Hall, Sackville) — a couple of public hearings on what look to me to be minor issues along Sackville Road.


No public meetings.

On Campus

Thesis defence, Biology, (2:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Sarah Gutowsky will defend her thesis, “Pelagic Seabird Movement Ecology: Assessing Drivers of Albatross (diomedeidae) Movement and the Utility of Biologging Tolls for Wide-Ranging and Threatened Seabirds.”

Racism is Killing Us ‘Softly’ (6pm, Room 303, Student Union Building) — a poetry reading by Afua Cooper.


The Winnipeg Free Press has notified its employees that layoffs are imminent.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9am Monday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 9am Monday. Map:

Carmen, ro-ro cargo, Southhampton, England to Pier 31

Dallas Express sails to sea


Every damn thing is a thing.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Why was “New vehicle purchases will have guard rails, or be added per normal HRMization at a trivial per-unit cost” not a listed alternative?


    Great work one more time Tim: for your perspicacity–sorry for the $50 word–in pointing us to the “little bitty spot” scene and for your accompanying commentary. We could use a lot more like this, from a lot more people–I’m looking at you union leaders–a lot more often.

    Praising everyday working people without patronizing or romanticizing them is not easy. I think you have managed it, again.

    I have always liked the way Arthur Miller captured the same insight in his play Death of a Salesman when Willy Loman’s wife tells why a lowly salesman is important

    “I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.”

    It is the failure of folks like Laurie Graham and her defenders to extend that attention and elemental courtesy to anyone beyond themselves that makes what they do so indefensible.

    A certain nostalgia for the tumbrels begins.N’est-ce pas?

  3. Unfortunately, Tim your needle is still stuck on the austerity shtick. It’s simply wrong by the relative metrics of real austerity. I’m typing on a pad, so all I can say is see Europe.

    Ray Ivany said one time ‘…our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less’. Epic in it’s hypocrisy and obscenity considering him and the missus.

    1. Not hypocritical at all. Ivany was talking about HIS OWN immediate family not everyone’s. That would be ridiculous.

      Something tells me he really doesn’t give a shit about the working single mother of an autistic child. If she’s not a doer or dreamer obviously she ain’t working hard enough

      1. IVANY is a TROUGHER of the First Water, and the extra $160,000 flowing into his already extremely flush bank account is an INSULT to every hardworking Nova Scotian particularly the increasing numbers whose Minimum Wage and FIXED incomes are being decimated by runaway inflation of FOOD and SERVICES. TheTEMPORARY (and rigged!!!) low price of gasoline and heating oil benefits only the wealthy profligate segment of the popupation — the very same who load grocery carts to overflowing never even glancing at the ballooning prices. The working poor have already trimmed those «luxuries» to the bone!

    2. I don’t get the line of reasoning that Tim cannot be against Nova Scotian austerity because European austerity is much worse. Does he have to wait until things get so bad a far-right, “Golden Dawn”, type party starts winning seats or youth unemployment goes above 30%?

      1. Apparently, when somebody doesn’t get something, EVERYTHING becomes austerity. The term loses all value when it’s grossly misused, which it is, and not just by Tim.


    To paraphrase Archer on the Graham appointment: Do you want a leader like Trump? Because that’s how you get a leader like Trump.

    I’m watching both Trump, his fans and his more clueless critics with equal measures of horror. No matter who wins down south, it is going to have consequences. By the way, every time someone who is decidedly not working class calls him “Drumph” or dismisses his supporters as racist (or even more bizarrely, sexist), he gets 10 votes.

    And Tim, yes, we live in a sexist society, and that affects everyone: What socially acceptable role is there for a man of any skin colour other than a soldier, husband/provider or high powered big earner? And conversely for women: Attractive 20-something, mother or more recently, high powered big earner?

    1. Scott Adams’ + Dilbert analysis of Trump’s campaign – why he’s succeeded and will prevail – is best I’ve read. Thanks for the link.

      Agree with your observation that “No matter who wins down south, it is going to have consequences.” You’re first to point it out in the extensive coverage I’ve followed, and it’s something I’ve thought about. Cruz is simply a more polished extremist than Trump, potentially more dangerous with his toxic ideological mix of religion and simplistic, rigid governance [he’ll abolish IRS and reduce income tax filing to one piece of paper, “even a postcard”] whereas Kasich and Clinton both basically offer more of the same. Sanders is both different and similar to Trump; Sanders more humane in record and reach, yet each have equally limited hope of systemically turning the huge American economy around in terms and speed that would satisfy an electorate, at least a large and volatile segment that’s on the edge. Yes, consequences indeed.

      1. What we might see in the states is something like how Putin’s Russia got created, where one group of elites, many of whom were in the intelligence community and security services (FBI indictment of Clinton, anyone?) takes over the reins of power for better or for worse, and sends quite a few of the existing elites into exile or into prison or the firing squad (seems unlikely, but possible). Ceausescu and his wife ended up against a wall 4 days after a series of massive protests and what amounted to a coup by the security services in Romania, for example.

        I don’t like Donald Trump, but I suspect the rank and file of the police, the military, not to mention all those people who keep trash out of sight and the lights on like him, and that’s reason enough to believe he is actually the lesser of the evils on offer.

        I find the culture of the coastal, leftist elite disgusting even if I agree with much of the core political ideas of the left and it’s nice to see their noses rubbed in their own mess for once. The reason I subscribe to the Examiner is because Tim at least acknowledges that working class people in our country (and the states) have reason to be angry.

        I like Sanders, but lets get real, free college is pretty meaningless if it won’t get you a job.

          1. To what end did that kid go to school? Was it to become a better, more well-rounded person? Or was it to get one of those mythical “good jobs”? Universities are in the business of perpetuating themselves. People who want to better educate themselves in the humanities can do so for almost nothing between the library system and the Internet, they do not need to pay $10,000 a year to do it.

            It does not make sense for everyone to attend university or even trade school – there are a limited number of good jobs available that require a community college or university education. Increasing the numbers we train for those positions does not make more positions available, and lowers pay for those already in the fields. It is total backwards thinking or outright politically motivated BS.

            Sorry, but unless Mommy or Daddy has connections, or you plan to excel in a few (over saturated) university degrees that lead to jobs, going to university is a waste of money – if you can afford it, fine, but if you can’t, don’t expect the government to fix it for you.

        1. Well said. Agree with all. The quick justice and violent end of Ceausescu and his wife were stunning for 1989, and illustrate how deep hatred can go and be expressed when citizens are exploited, abused and betrayed by leadership. They and their fate are a cautionary, if extreme, tale. In Canada, our passive nature is wearing thin while our politicians campaign, communicate and govern in ’50s mode and mindset, as if immune or disbelieving of what’s happening to our working class, Leona Helmsleys “little people.” We do have reason to be angry in Canada; for me it’s the vacuous, condescending, dissembling, unrealistic policy drivel we get from our politicians, when they rarely deign to communicate outside of the speech-protective legislature or election campaigns, during which there appears to be some unspoken, traditional reciprocal pact of disbelief and non-accountability. A deep, profoundly disturbing disconnect exists between the reality and prospects of our working class, buffeted and hurt by multiple forces, and those who govern us.

  5. “But costs of retrofitting the hundred or so city-owned trucks would be in the $350,000 to $400,000 range”

    That’s only $3,500 to $4,000 a vehicle, assuming a fleet of 100 vehicles. Can that be right? it seems inexpensive for the thing shown in the photo, and you’d have one on each side.

    Would there be any insurance saving by having these — do the fleet insurers offer some kind of discount, since presumably they would reduce payouts in lawsuits, if you wanted to take just a cold economic view of matters.

    I think these should be required by law across all Canada. These, and winter tires on all vehicles.

    1. You’re correct. The cost in Montreal according to the city councillor who championed that city’s adoption was $1,500 per truck. Boston’s initiative ran $1,800 American. New York City was more expensive at $3,000 per truck. Some of the difference might be different reporting (cost of purchasing versus cost of purchasing and installing). In any case, it’s not a lot of money. Basically the cost of two years of Heads Up Halifax commercials, which have a much less clear link to any improved road safety results.

  6. So HRM has put a price on the value of a life. Less than the $350K retrofit to vehicles.
    Perhaps it might be useful for City staff to post what they do consider to be the dollar value of a life so we can measure other safety measures against this.
    More than the retrofitting of City owned vehicles, such a move also sets a benchmark for others to meet. It would lead by example. Shame on the City bureaucrat who doesn’t think a human life is worth $350K.

  7. How much was HRM paying for newly branded bus signs with no value added information – $250,000?

    But the lives of cyclists and pedestrians isn’t worth a retrofit of $350,000.

    Puts in perspective where HRM’s priorities are. Things that ACTUALLY save peoples lives versus things that show us how wonderful our new logo is.

    It would be interesting to see the cost of The Heads Up Halifax PR branding campaign in relation to this as well.

    1. Exactly. There always seems to be lots of money for consultants and branding and jobs for “friends of” in this province, but so very little for everything else. I hate to say it, but could this government be WORSE than Dexter’s? I am appalled.
      I was just part of the “Talk about Health” dog and pony show that’s making its way around the province to prove yet again that, hey, things like housing and belonging and stuff affect health – not news since Brian Abel-Smith proved all that way back in the late 70’s. Still people are touring around at no doubt high expense. I asked them what would happen from these consultations. “We’re writing a report”, the consultant said, as if that BLOODY MEANT ANYTHING AT ALL.
      Spend that money on something like enhanced mental health services? Oh no, we need to PROVE we need the, first, right? Like all the deaths from suicide and wasted lives on drugs don’t say a thing. Or lets talk about the rate of alcoholism in the province, eh? Do our leaders think we need to PROVE an unhealthy environment?
      On the good side, the touring show tells us we are generally happier here than elsewhere, and think we’re pretty healthy (even though we aren’t, apparently). Everyone, when told that, says it’s because we drink more. Perhaps that’s because there’s no other option.

    2. I would add to this the question:
      How much $$ did the city save this winter on budgeted snow clearing costs? Surely at least enough to divert those funds toward this equipment on their trucks.

    3. Hear, here! Of course HRM can ALWAYS find money to squander on «rebranding», Coney Island Maritimes, and White Elephant «Convention Centres», million dollar «lost» fuel cleanups… I mean, after all, wasting the huge amounts extracted under duress from the HRM peasantry is what getting eklected is all about. Why, if we actually used this money to benefit the peasantry, what would be left for WE, the entitled except our poverty-level «full time» Entitled Emolumentds?

  8. I agree with you except on the issue of journalists taking a job “in politics” as you put it. I fail to see how it necessarily calls their past work into question if they make a career move. If they were covering an election, and immediately after the election went to work for the victor, yeah, I think it might call their coverage of the election into question. (It happened in NB)

    But otherwise, I think your rule is way too strict. My complaint with this lady getting the job isn’t that she is a former journalist, but the closed-door process involving croneys and partners of croneys that excludes other applicants from what is a publicly funded job. And the fact that she is defended because she also happens to be the croney of a certain set of journalists who should be reporting on this. But people move on. They do other things. Journalists are no different. Flawed process aside, I wish her well in her new job.

    Besides that, past journalistic work will stand on its own merits for its objectivity and factual accuracy. If it is right, it is right, no matter if the person later took a job shilling for Trump. It seems to me to be a form of fallacious ad hominem attack not related to the merits of the subject matter of the journalism to do otherwise.

  9. To add to Stephen Kimbers comment on mental health, the department which Minister Glavine heads is moving all mental health leaders in the department to the DHA ,and they are being offerred diminished jobs. One way to pass on responsibility and not be accountable

    1. I was just thinking the same thing. Good luck devising a mental health policy when all the expertise is walking out the door on March 31st. The worst part is many are not even going to the HA.

      My observation is that the people who have consistently advocated for Nova Scotians (and butted heads with the old guard at the HA) are the ones getting the worst offers from them.

      I hope I am wrong.