News

1. Halifax Examiner is not major enough

Yesterday, the Halifax Examiner learned it’s not one of the eight major news organizations whose reporters will be permitted at the in-person cabinet scrums, which start today. The eight news organizations whose reporters will be allowed in are Global, CTV, CBC, Radio Canada, allNovaScotia, Herald, Canadian Press, and News 95.7. Other news organizations can call in to the scrums, so Jennifer Henderson will be covering it today.

Tim Bousquet, who’s technically on vacation, shared a Twitter thread on this here.

So did Zane Woodford:

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2. Germans in Nova Scotia ‘devastated’ by reports of hard-right extremist colony in Cape Breton

Screenshot from “Eva Herman and Andreas Popp: Our life in Canada.” — YouTube

Joan Baxter talks with members of Nova Scotia’s German-Canadian community who say they’re “devastated and saddened” to hear media reports about conspiracy-theorizing and hard-right extremists buying and selling land in Cape Breton.

Baxter spoke with Renate Sedlmeier, Department Manager of Business Support Canada at the Canadian German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Sedlmeier says her clients and the Chamber want to distance themselves from the people involved and their ideologies.

My clients have companies in Nova Scotia and they’re really concerned, and they say, “I don’t know what the impact is going to be on my company. This is not good at all because we came here and wanted to be part of the community. We are helping people get jobs. And here we are – we have to discuss this issue. We’re only trying to do good, and now we are getting information [about] [Eva] Herman, [Andreas] Popp, [Frank] Eckhardt … that they’re awful people.

Last week, Baxter reported that Der Spiegel, Germany’s largest weekly magazine, reported on Andreas Popp and Eva Herman and their think tank, Wissensmanufaktur (Knowledge Creation), which promotes doomsday prophesizing and conspiracy theories, have been holding seminars in Cape Breton, with the goal of establishing a colony of like-minded Germans there.

Baxter spoke with other German-Canadians who’ve lived on Cape Breton for years. One person, who didn’t want to be named, said:

I am worried about the international reputation of Nova Scotia and especially Cape Breton Island. I am extremely worried about the effect this will have on our business and tourism. I don’t want Cape Breton to become a hiding and deployment zone for neo-Nazis. I would like to see a public inquiry into this situation, not just the neo-Nazi stuff but also the rest of what is happening [with the land selling at inflated prices]. I hope the authorities will take the proper action.

Read Baxter’s full story here.

3. Nova Scotia finance minister projects $850-million deficit due to COVID-19

Nova Scotia Finance Minister Karen Casey speaks during her budget update on Wednesday. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.

Jennifer Henderson reports that the province is forecasting a record-breaking deficit of $852.9 million. That’s after predicting a $55-million surplus in February’s budget. Finance Minister Karen Casey made the announcement on Wednesday. Says Casey:

The deficit has nothing to do with poor fiscal management. It has to do with an event that hit our province the same as it has hit other provinces and countries around the world. And you couldn’t predict it, you couldn’t plan for it, but you could manage it and respond to it. That’s what we have done.

Henderson reports economic growth is now forecast to be 7.6% lower than originally projected, household spending is down by 7.5%,and unemployment is expected to stay around 11% for the rest of the year.

During the pandemic, the government spent $470 million more than it had budgeted and 72% of that amount was spent on health care. Here’s a breakdown of the health care costs:

  • Funding for secure licences so physicians can provide care on virtual platforms, $781,000
  • Increased 811 resources, $2,600,000
  • Dispensing fees for seniors pharmacare, $3,161,000
  • Essential Health Care Workers Program, $81,200,000 [$71.3M federal, $9.9M provincial]
  • EHS Ground and LifeFlight, $3,295,000
  • IWK Operations, $5,751,000
  • NSHA Operations, $148,982,000
  • NSHA Equipment, $21,900,000
  • Home care support, $7,848,000
  • Long-term care support [including $1,198,000 for iPads for long-term care facilities], $45,942,000
  • Pharmaceutical Services, $5,600,000
  • Increased department support, $3,128,000
  • Income stabilization and virtual care fees for Doctors, $53,600,000
  • Economic stimulus capital grants for projects at Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK, $35,100,000

Read Henderson’s full story here.

4. Celebrating the inquiry: ‘This was because of the families, our determination, our drive, and the Nova Scotians, the Bluenosers’

Nick Beaton speaks to reporters before the start of a victory march on Wednesday morning in Halifax. The event was intended to celebrate the decision to hold a public inquiry rather than a review into April’s mass shooting. Family members of the victims and their supporters marched from the ferry terminal to Province House. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

Yvette d’Entremont was at the victory march on Wednesday where families of the victims of the mass murders in April celebrated Tuesday’s announcement of a public inquiry. Nick Beaton, whose pregnant wife Kristen was killed, said an inquiry was called because of the determination of the victims’ families and Nova Scotians, and not because of politicians who were “pretty quick to pat themselves on the back.” Said Beaton:

I want to start off by saying this was not because of the government, right from Lenore Zann right to the top of Bill Blair. This was because of the families, our determination, our drive, and the Nova Scotians, the Bluenosers.

It just proves that the little man can have a voice if you band together and stay peaceful and respectful, that you can make a change even in our government that together we can conquer.

On Tuesday, several Nova Scotia Liberal MPs came out against the review after their names appeared on a letter in support of that review. By the end of that day, Bill Blair, federal Public Safety Minister, announced there would be a full public inquiry.

Read d’Entremont’s full story here.

5. Halifax committee denies licence appeal for taxi driver accused of sexual assault

Taxis. Photo: Lexi Ruskell/Unsplash

Zane Woodford reports that Halifax council’s appeals standing committee denied a taxi driver’s licence suspension appeal on Wednesday and he’ll stay off the job pending a sexual assault charge.

Navneet Jaggi, 57, was charged with sexual assault on June 25 and his taxi driver’s and owner’s licences were suspended the same day. He appealed the decision the following week.

Jaggi was charged in the assault and is scheduled to appear in Dartmouth provincial court on Aug. 18.

Read Woodford’s full story here.


Views

1. Wanna play on Canada’s ocean playground? You’ll need a car

Last week, Jenny Trites wanted to go to the beach, but Trites, who lives in the Quinpool area of Halifax, doesn’t drive, although her partner does and they have a car. So, Trites tweeted this:

In the replies, people suggested Trites check out Chocolate Lake, Kearney Lake, or even Black Rock Beach in Point Pleasant Park. But Trites wants to access an ocean beach by transit. Currently, Halifax Transit doesn’t have a route that goes to an ocean beach. Trites and I spoke over the phone on Sunday. Trites says:

I was thinking how lovely it would be to be able to catch a bus to the beach and have them [her partner} meet up with me at the end of their work day or just bus back if they had a late day and not be so reliant on a car to get out of the city for a bit.

Maybe it’s something a for-profit company can do, if they realize there is demand. Maybe you get a ticket with a departure time and a return time to make sure no one is stranded.

Rainbow Haven Beach in Cow Bay. Photo: novascotia.com

In her tweet, Trites says she mentions Rainbow Haven because it’s the beach most accessible to families in the city.

Especially if you’re taking transit to a beach, that’s at least half a day. You can’t be away from a washroom that long if you have children. I’m not remembering perfectly, but I think there’s a ramp from the boardwalk. I personally would go to any beach, any time, but I think that would be the most logical one for transit. I’m not an expert in accessibility. That seems to be the one with the most infrastructure that can accommodate buses turning around. That would be a disaster at Conrad’s…

A transit route to Rainbow Haven is one suggestion Coun. Lorelei Nicoll has been pushing for. She replied to Trites’ tweet, too, saying a bus to the beach was included in the Cole Harbour Basin Open Space Plan, which was approved by council as a concept plan to connect a lot of open spaces in the area. I spoke to Nicoll about this.

It’s probably one of the few [beaches] in very close proximity to the urban areas. Bissett Road is a rural road, two lanes, much like the romantic idea of going to the beach, but when you come back it’s the supper hour and it’s very hard to get out of there. That being said, even when you’re at the beach, there’s not enough parking for the amount of cars that go there.

The beach itself is a great natural asset close to an urban area, but there is no transit that goes down Bissett Road. Cole Harbour Place is on a transit route, but it stays where the homes are.

There’s no timeline for the Cole Harbour Basin Open Space Plan, although Nicoll says she keeps asking.

Maybe I will have to make a motion to council to take it out of that concept plan and see, but any preliminary discussions that were had with staff said it would be a great venture for a private company, which is true. So, I’ve been telling people, but no one has been taking me up on that either.

Nicoll says she also asked to have a bike lane put along Bissett Road so people could at least bike to Rainbow Haven.

Others replied to Trites’ tweet, suggesting she check out Trips by Transit, which organizes public and private trips to natural spots across the HRM using Halifax Transit, although its trips and in-person events are temporarily suspended because of COVID-19. Some of its trips include outings to the The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trails in Timberlea, Purcell’s Cove Backlands, Shubie Park, Herring Cove, and Hemlock Ravine Park. The closest trip to a beach is its trip to Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage, which includes a visit to MacCormacks Beach Provincial Park, but according to Halifax Trails, the beach here is not safe for swimming because of hazardous currents and undertow in the channel between the beach and Lawlor Island.

Crystal Crescent Beach is close to the urban core, but there’s no transit nearby. Photo: TripAdvisor.

Erica Butler has written about this issue before, too, including in this Metro Halifax column from July 2015:

Crystal Crescent and Rainbow Haven are massively popular destinations on summer weekends. A pilot project bus service to these two provincial parks on Saturdays or Sundays (or both) is doable, and frankly, worth a try. 

Consider that to add weekend service, we likely wouldn’t need to buy additional buses. Consider that there’s potential for support from the province. (Why not? The airport authority contributed $500,000 to the establishment of the transit service to the airport.) Perhaps our department of natural resources would chip in to provide weekend service to its provincial parks.

Transit access to the beach may seem frivolous in times of budget constraints, but the benefits of connecting us all to the coast, on the handful of summer weekends we have, may just outweigh the limited costs.

Scott Edgar, with the transit advocacy group It’s More Than Buses, says this is an issue they hear about every summer, too. Edgar, who lives in the city and doesn’t own a car, gets to the beach with friends or uses a car share service. He told me

It’s deeply frustrating to live in a city that advertises itself as an ocean city, but I can’t get to an ocean beach. It’s really, really obnoxious.

But he says creating transit routes just to take riders to the beach isn’t the best way for transit to spend money.

Sure, it’s possible to run a bus to an ocean beach, but at what cost? Typically, when North American transit agencies run services to specific destinations that are used exclusively for recreation, those bus routes are massive, massive sinkholes for money. They’re extremely expensive. It’s why transit agencies in the Canada and the U.S. try to shy away from doing that. It’s extremely expensive for reasons that are easy to understand. You’re not getting the morning rush hour, which is a big money-making time for transit. The driver is 70% the cost of the route and Edgar says you can’t just not pay the driver on a day when it rains and no one heads to the beach.

Edgar says when they think of where Halifax Transit should be investing money, it’s into programs like the low-income transit pass program or improving areas of HRM are that currently underserved by transit on a day-to-day basis.

For example, bus service to the Prestons makes it quite difficult for people to get downtown for work or for students to get to SMU or Dal. Really, when I think of how I want Halifax Transit to be spending more money, those are the kinds of things that are more natural.

It’s hard to justify [a bus to the beach] as a priority when there are people hurting on more of a day-to-day basis.

But Edgar says he has another “long-term, blue-sky, big picture” vision for getting more city dwellers to the beach. And that involves bringing the beach to them.

I actually think HRM should really make it a priority to make beaches accessible by transit, but the way to do that is not by running buses to beaches. The way to do that cost-effectively over the long term is to locate sites where the municipality could build beaches, like full-on ocean-swimming beaches, in locations that are already served by decent transit or are going to be served by decent transit in the future.

It sounds crazy, but it’s a one-time expense, however much it would cost to do that. Amortized over 20, 25 years — once it’s paid for, it’s done.

Edgar says the first phase of such a project would be identifying locations for possible beaches on transit routes that already exist — for example, around the Bedford Basin or Shannon Park.

These aren’t going to be locations that are pristine wilderness beaches like Rainbow Haven or Lawrencetown. But when you’re looking at urban beaches that are accessible to people living in cities, they’re never pristine wilderness beaches. If we were looking for HRM to have the kind of beaches that are available to people, for example, in downtown Vancouver, or downtown Victoria, yeah, we’re going to be talking about beaches that are somewhere around the Halifax Harbour. And they could still be great places to hang out and sun and go for a swim. You’re just also going to see some freighters.

One of the things that’s shocking for west coasters who come out here is how inaccessible the ocean is to Haligonians. By comparison, it’s extremely easy if you’re in either Vancouver or Victoria, to walk, bike, or take a bus to a beach. But the lessons to be learned from those examples is not that you’re getting on a bus and driving for 50 minutes way out of the city. It’s that there are beaches located right in the middle of the city.

Halifax used to have more urban beaches. Check out this photo in the Nova Scotia Archives of bathers at the beach at Horseshoe Island in the North West Arm.


Noticed

Got your mask? This is the one Iris the Amazing made for me!

Tomorrow is the start of the mandatory mask policy. That means we’re required to wear masks inside any indoor space in Nova Scotia. If you don’t have a mask, there are plenty of places to get them for free or very little cost. So, I thought I’d share a list of some of those here.

Yvette d’Entremont wrote about Masks for Humanity Atlantic Canada back in June. They’re still working to provide free masks to anyone who wants and needs one. Their website is here and you can also find them on Twitter here. 

Charity Crafters of HRM make all kinds of crafts for charities, but now they’re focusing on making masks for charities to hand out. Find them here.

Souls Harbour has been giving away free masks during the pandemic. CEO Michelle Porter tells me they have a sewing circles working on more masks to hand out, using supplies from its thrift stores, Mission Mart.

There are a few mask makers in the Antigonish area (thanks Jenny MacDonald for the heads-up!) Ammar’s Apparel is making masks and selling them for $10, which includes shipping. They’re on Facebook here. And the CACL in Antigonish is making masks and selling them. Learn more here. 

And finally, for anyone in the Kennetcook area, Darlene Ettinger has a clothesline of free masks for the taking.


Government

City

Thursday

Special Design Review Committee (4:30pm, virtual meeting) — agenda here.

Friday

No meetings.

Province

No meetings.


In the harbour

Tim Bousquet usually writes this section, but he’s (supposed to be) on vacation, so he’ll be back next week with all the news about boats. I’m sure there are some out there, though …


Footnotes

I haven’t been to the beach yet this summer.

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. Can we be honest for once nova scotia ? Who – besides news junkies like you and I – has even ever heard of allnovascotia – let alone seen any of its coverage ?

    I have at least met its owner – though I have never read any of its articles.

    Who reads it ? Well people who can get the taxpayers to write off the cost of a subscription thats who.

    Poor old David B : caught on the horns of his own devising.

    He absolutely hates the thought of a govt-subsidized media. Ditto me.

    But his paywall policy basically limits his readership to those who are important enough, in the private and public sector, to let their daily newspaper be paid for by the taxpayer.

    Alanis, isn’t it ironic?

    But you can follow Stephen’s logic though, can’t you : “I am important, I read allNovaScotia, therefore it must be important too…” All the employees read allNovaScotia : its only the bosses (ie the public) that reads stuff like the Examiner – and Frank….

    1. Plenty of people (not I) pay the $30 for allnovascotia – lots of business owners and others who feel the need to be in the club do it out of pocket.

    2. I only know one person who reads it, and that person is indeed an employee of the NS government. My one anecdotal data point.

  2. Black Rock beach at Point Pleasant park is a a good start. The water is cleaner than when we took our kids there.

  3. I am infuriated by the decision to restrict access to the so called ” eight major news organizations” which arbitrarily includes Global, CTV, CBC, Radio Canada, AllNovaScotia, Herald, Canadian Press, and News 95.7. I am particularly irked by the inclusion of AllNovaScotia on that list because it is NOT a major news organization with a narrow focus on elite business. It guards its content like a snarling dog over a bowl of kibble. AllNS will collect news from sources and then NOT ALLOW THEM TO EVEN SEE THE RESULTS.
    Access should be given to all, not just a select few. That disgusting practice of limited media access began with the Harper regime and has been gleefully adopted by all flavours of government since. It is pre-censorship, pure and simple. Free and open media access should include all media, even freelancers who increasingly are becoming an important and credible source of information. Putting a reporter from the flyer wrapper Herald in there is a waste of time because they can just reprint the pablum filled media releases from Communications Nova Scotia.
    The Halifax Examiner should absolutely be included for the following reasons: The majority of its content is available publicly to all; the quality of the content has proven to be some of the best available currently; the quality of the journalists associated with the Examiner are the best in the region (Kimber, Jones, Henderson, Bousquet, Baxter, Moscovitch, White, Panozzo and more to come no doubt) and are all worthy of inclusion on their own merits; and of course the quality of the informed commentary from readers is exceptional with none of the mindless drivel which appears on sites like CBC from trolls or conservative shills who can turn a weather forecast into and anti-Trudeau diatribe. This is outrageous and please provide the coordinates to whom we can express our ire.

  4. I’d say that shutting the Examiner out of media scrums is actually a back-handed compliment. It shows that government officials do not like the kind of “adversarial” reporting the Examiner often practises.

    I would also argue that cabinet scrums promote “pack” reporting and the mentality that goes with it. One reason for this is that journalists are heavily influenced by their peers with whom they both compete and collaborate. Scrums are, by definition, exercises in collaboration. Every journalist in the scrum comes away with the same story.

    Since cabinet meetings are held in camera with discussions and documents protected by official secrecy, ministers can say pretty well anything they like at these scrums. And, in fact, their messages are usually carefully spun in line with the government’s PR strategy. To the casual observer, a scrum can seem like adversarial reporting with reporters persistently asking pointed questions. But, I’d say the adversarial part is more of an illusion than a reality. Scrum-based stories are about what politicians say and not about what they do.

    1. I. F. Stone would agree : scrums are designed to divert journalists from digging. Paul Palango for example has frequently embarrassed all of us by connecting the dots on stuff that has been freely in the public domain for months.

      So, for example, he looked again at two widely available news stories and then pointed out how one Portapique survivor sent a few hours in the winter woods that night with winter clothes on but ended up in the hospital, while another barefooted and probably in pjs, spent the entire night out there unharmed….

      1. Michael, your comment reminded me of an essay by the CBC’s Michael Enright who said: “I.F. Stone…was a revolutionary. He never went to a press conference. He never attended a White House briefing or held an off-the-record chat with a politician or a bureaucrat. Instead he pored over thousands of public documents, picking up contradictions, obfuscations, and untruths.”

        1. Bruce, your comment reminded me that when I.F. Stone died in 1989, you and Richard Starr hired me to do a commentary on CBC Mediafile about journalism and I.F. Stone’s methods. I took the opportunity to criticize the chuminess we often see and experience in Canadian journalism.

          At the end of my commentary, I said:

          “Not everyone can be a journalist like I.F. Stone. It wouldn’t be possible and it wouldn’t be practical. But he showed that journalism can be a valuable profession. The fact that it’s often done badly doesn’t change that. The fact that it can be done well remains his legacy.”

  5. There used to be a municipal beach on Bedford Basin across from 306 Bedford Highway. I think it was transferred to the province sometime in the last few years and is shown as “Birch Cove Marine Park” on Google Maps. Last time I was there you could still find City of Halifax signage from the 1950s-60s in the underbrush.

  6. It’s a mistake to think of a bus serving Rainbow Haven beach as an exclusive beach bus. People live along Bissett Road, and in Cow Bay. A regular bus route along these roads would also allow transit between Eastern Passage and Cole Harbour without going through downtown Dartmouth, and provide transit access to the Cole Harbour Heritage Park and the Salt Marsh Trail. Similarly, a regular bus serving Crystal Crescent could also serve Sambro. It takes a long time for suburban and rural ridership to grow – people who live or work in these areas are not going to rush out and sell their cars the day a bus route goes in – but it makes sense to have buses in these areas.

    A bike lane along Bissett Road could connect the trail system to the beach – I’ve ridden from downtown Halifax to Rainbow Haven several times, and for the most part it is a pleasant ride, save the last few km along Bissett Road. Being on a bicycle at the intersection of Bissett and Cow Bay roads, pinched between parked cars and speeding cars, is a nightmare.

    As a former west coaster, I’m not only shocked by the inaccessibility of beaches, but the run-down and minimal or non-existent facilities at beaches, near Halifax and around the province. I’ve been to beaches in New Brunswick with modern facilities, good food services, and live music in the evenings. If we want tourists to come to Nova Scotia, and return, we need to improve our beaches.