1. Province House roundup

Premier Iain Rankin at the COVID-19 briefing, March 30, 2021. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Jennifer Henderson brings us the latest news from Province House this morning, with some files from Tim Bousquet:

Just before yesterday’s COVID briefing, Extinction Rebellion members demonstrated at Department of Lands and Forestry offices around the province, and as well at One Government, where Premier Iain Rankin’s office is located.

At the briefing, Examiner editor Tim Bousquet asked Premier Iain Rankin about the demonstrators’ concerns, and about the proposed Goldboro LNG plant.

Rankin essentially said some conversations need to happen about forestry and protecting activists from litigation when they’re just speaking their mind (Goldboro recently threatened signatories of a critical open letter with legal action, a method known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation that Tim wrote about recently).

The full provincial roundup has a transcript of Bousquet’s questions, as well as Rankin’s answers and non-answers. Bousquet also asks Rankin whether natural gas is a reasonable idea given that the environmental consensus says it is not a transition fuel, but a lateral move from GHG-emitting fuels like coal. Rankin seems to disagree with this.

Also in the round-up:

  • Jeff Bishop, the executive director of Forest NS since 2013, the industry interest group that led a recent propaganda campaign that gutted the proposed Biodiversity Act that passed this week, is one of 12 volunteers who was appointed yesterday to the Round Table on the Environment and Sustainable Prosperity.
  • Dartmouth MLA Susan Leblanc called for the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) to look into the actions of a police officer caught on tape last Friday pointing a gun at a Black man. Currently the officer has been assigned to desk duty while the HRP do their own internal investigation. SIRT requires a complaint to act.
  • Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston challenged the premier and the Minister of Health to explain how a budget that boasted the most money ever for mental health services actually saw its allocation as a percentage of the total health budget decline from 6.7% last year to 6.3% for 2021-22.
  • Janet Davidson was appointed the new chair for the Board of Nova Scotia Health (formerly known as Nova Scotia Health Authority). Davidson had previously filled in as acting CEO of the Health Authority after Janet Knox retired.
  • As population grows in Halifax, schools in the Fairview-Clayton Park-Bedford area are feeling the strain. The government has announced 47 modular classrooms will be purchased and built at five schools in that region.

To read more about these stories, check out Henderson’s full roundup here.

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2. COVID-19 update: the latest on AstraZeneca vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang gave a public update on the latest facts surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine:

In the past few weeks, there has been an increasing number of reports from Europe of rare but serious cases of blood clots associated with low levels of the cells that help the blood clots, platelets. And this is following immunization with AstraZeneca vaccine. Most of the cases have been in women under age 55, and about 40% of them have died at this time.

A definitive link between the vaccine in the blood clotting events has not been made, but it is very suggestive. We know that so far there there have been no similar blood clotting events reported in Canada and no blood clotting events reported anywhere in the world with the RNA vaccines.

Health Canada announced yesterday that it is requiring AstraZeneca manufacturers to conduct a detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of the vaccine by age and gender in the Canadian context. Health Canada will use this information along with further international evidence to determine if additional regulatory actions are necessary.

For now, Strang said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending a pause on the AstraZeneca vaccine for anyone under 55. Anyone 55 or older can still get this particular vaccine if given the choice, as the benefits outweigh the increased risk of COVID-19 in older adults. Strang continued:

This change does not mean that the AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t safe or isn’t a good vaccine. It means that we are seeing something rare in a certain subset of the population that we need to monitor and get more information about. Until we do that, the safest, most transparent thing to do is to limit the use of the vaccine.

I know that this may be scary for people, especially if they have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine already. But we’re fortunate that in Nova Scotia, our use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been focused on those aged 60 to 64, which is well within the age range recommended for use. And when we get more AstraZeneca vaccine in Nova Scotia, we will continue to focus on the ages 55 to 64 for those who feel this vaccine is right for them.

Strang also said anyone who has received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the last 20 days — as well as anyone who gets it going forward — should monitor for symptoms and seek immediate medical attention should they develop any of the following:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • leg swelling
  • persistent abdominal pain
  • sudden onset of severe or persistent worsening headaches or blurred vision
  • skin bruising outside the site of vaccination

Check out Tim Bousquet’s full COVID-19 update for the longer transcript of what Strang had to say regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, and the latest charts, map, and pop-up testing sites.

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free. Please help us continue this coverage by subscribing.

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3. Three development approvals and a public hearing

A rendering of the proposal for 1029 Tower Road, approved Tuesday. Photo: Zzap Architecture and Planning Credit: Zzap Architecture and Planning

Tower Road

Zane Woodford has a little smorgasbord of council news for us this morning. Today, it’s all about property. Let’s look at the first item on the docket:

“The community council also voted in favour of a proposal for a three-storey apartment building on the same lot as a registered heritage property, Dr. James Doull House,” writes Woodford.

That house is located at 1029 Tower Road, and as the Halifax Examiner reported in the fall, “the developer wants to rotate the house 90 degrees to face Tower Road and make room for the new three-storey building.”

Halifax regional council approved the heritage aspect of the proposal in November, leaving the community council to approve the commercial use proposed for the renovated Dr. James Doull House and the three-storey building next door, which will contain up to eight units.

A few councillors asked about the compatibility of the new building with the old, and municipal heritage planner Seamus McGreal told them there were no issues for staff.

“It wasn’t determined that the new building really detracted or overwhelmed the cottage. They really will appear as though they’re on separate lots even though they’re essentially on the same parcel,” McGreal said.

The motion passed unanimously. There were no members of the public signed up to speak.

A rendering of the proposal for the corner of Vernon and Shirley streets, allowed by the committee on Tuesday. Photo: Fathom Studio Credit: Fathom Studio

Vernon Street

Woodford also reported on another property proposal approved in Halifax:

After four years and as many tries, a Vernon Street resident is now allowed to build a backyard addition that doesn’t quite meet the land-use bylaw.

Halifax and West Community Council voted Tuesday night to allow an appeal of a variance refusal for 1891 Vernon St., the corner of Vernon and Shirley streets.

The property owner, Ali Alwraith, wants to build a two-unit addition to the back of his home, with a driveway onto Shirley Street. The plan requires variances to the land-use bylaws for the area. Namely, the building covers more of the lot than allowed — 40% rather than 35% — and it’s too close to the neighbour’s lot line, matching the existing house.

The variance hearing was public and five people got up to speak about the proposed addition. One speaker was Robe Leblanc who, in May 2020, had made the appeal on Alwraith’s behalf that led to the variance meeting Tuesday. Leblanc argues that the addition was a “great example of gentle density within a walkable distance of Robie Street and the Quinpool corridor.”

A lawyer speaking on behalf of one of the neighbouring property owners argued that the new addition would block too much sunlight from reaching his client’s yard, but the other three speakers were in favour of the variances.

Coun. Sean Cleary noted the variances being requested were minor and the motion passed unanimously.

Examples of the gas station proposed for Prospect Road from a staff presentation to the community council in September.

You might remember Woodford’s report last month on a proposed gas station for Prospect Road on the way to Peggy’s Cove. In that piece, Woodford wrote that the Utility and Review Board (UARB) had not overturned a community council decision from September to reject the proposal, but they had ordered community council to vote to approve it. You might be wondering, can they actually force community council to vote for something? Well, you’re not alone. The community council asked the same thing, deciding last month to defer voting on that order until they found out.

Now they’ve found out. And they’ve been forced to rubber stamp the gas station development’s approval.

Check out Woodford’s full article from today to see the legality of this mandated vote, the reaction from community council, and why the proposal had to come back before council to go through the motions on a mandated vote anyhow.

One section of Richmond Yards this morning, March 31, 2021. Yep, it’s huge. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Public hearing scheduled for Richmond Yards development, which is already under construction

Councillors voted Tuesday to schedule a public hearing for Westwood’s Richmond Yards development for Almon Street in the North End of Halifax.

They haven’t set a date, but, as you can tell by the above photo and subheader, they’d better set one soon. This thing’s already under way.

The development, if constructed to completion, will include five towers of up to 30 storeys rising above a shared base, along with a row of townhouses, containing more than 500 residential units in all. The development predates the Centre Plan, so its developmental agreement falls under old rules. The developer has had a permit to construct a multi-unit dwelling on the site since November.

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YouTube video

I saw this video from local travel vloggers, the Delightful Travellers, over the weekend. With travel restricted over the past year, they’ve had to get creative with their “travel” videos to keep their channel going. The video here is for people looking to move to Halifax or Nova Scotia now that working from home is a more viable option and more people are considering settling out East.

It’s a nice enough video. I always enjoy seeing my hometown tires pumped. But one part just irked me.

At the beginning of the video (about 1:30), one of the hosts is sitting up on Citadel Hill by the Clock Tower. Looking out at the downtown core toward the harbour, he says, “As you can see, the views of the city up here are pretty superb; you can see the harbour off in the distance and of course you can see all the high rise buildings right downtown.

It then cuts to the following shots:

Good view of high rises, agreed.

You can see a sliver of blue, so technically you can see the harbour in the distance, agreed.

“Superb” view, disagree.

Over the summer I got my pandemic exercise in with a daily bicycle ride around town. Inevitably I would wind up at the top of Citadel Hill for a few loops and I’d stop at the lookoff facing the clock tower. But I only stopped to catch my breath. I wasn’t there for the sights.

I’d always laugh when I’d see the “lookoff” they built looking out over all that concrete and glass. There are pictures on the information boards along the rail from the first half of the 20th century that are much prettier than the real thing is now. I honestly hope the National Historic Site gets paid for that lookoff. The view is more of an ad for Canada’s banks — Scotiabank, Scotiabank, CIBC, TD, RBC, Scotiabank — than a place to take in the sights. If it weren’t for a little sliver of blue on the Dartmouth Shore and the views down Carmichael and Duke Streets, you wouldn’t even know this was a harbour town.

Anyway, nothing against the video. It just sparked a small rant in me that I didn’t realize had been building since the summer.

For a better view of the harbour from the Citadel, check out Tim Bousquet’s Morning File from January 2015 that includes some old heritage pictures of the view from the hill, like this gem from 1920, with a harbour view and everything!

1920. Source: McCord Museum

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A Monthly File of March’s big Examiner stories

You’re going to need a refill for the next section.

The Morning File format is pretty loose, but normally the “Noticed” section is reserved for interesting things we MF writers see around town, on social media, or in other publications. Today I thought I’d mix it up a bit and notice some of the recurring stories Halifax Examiner reporters have covered over the past month. Sometimes they put out so much comprehensive work so quickly, it can be hard to keep up.

For those of you new to the Examiner, this should help you catch up on what we’ve been working on. And for regular readers, I hope this will be a nice refresher. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into these issues, check out the full articles linked in each section.

Here’s the brief breakdown of four of the topics we followed in March:

1. COVID-19

Let’s start with that ever-present, all-consuming, inescapable virus news we just can’t get enough of.

The month started with the Great Online Vaccination Booking Site Crash when high user traffic overwhelmed the online appointment system where seniors could sign up to receive their doses, forcing the server to be temporarily disabled. Soon after, the site went back online and the premier said all adult Nova Scotians who wanted to be vaccinated could expect their first dose by June. Here’s the chart the Examiner published last week with the latest projections for the rollout:

Nova Scotia’s planned vaccine rollout by age cohort.

On the 15th we hit the one-year anniversary of the province’s first COVID-19 cases.

Yvette d’Entremont gave us a sneak peek at the diary she’d been keeping since that time, from the early uncertainty of the initial shutdown to the dark days of the Portapique and Northwood tragedies, all the way to the Atlantic Bubble summer and through the second wave when it burst. There’s plenty of humour and levity (and the occasional meme) sprinkled into a journal that chronicles one of the more depressing years in memory. Here’s d’Entremont’s entry from this date last year:

So many garbage (fake) COVID-19 “cures, preventative measures and diagnostic tools” floating around everywhere. Hold your breath, gargle with lemon, breathe hot air from a hair dryer. Seriously? Reputable sources only, folks. :/

We were still a month away from a head of state suggesting we inject ourselves with bleach to kick this thing. Now we have multiple vaccines (though, as noted earlier in this Morning File, there are still concerns) and a possible finish line in sight. The diary is a nice reminder of how far we’ve come and how much better March 2021 was compared to its 2020 predecessor.

The Examiner also looked at the continuing impact of pandemic life: enrollment in childcare centres has suffered and parents have been stressed out (though kids are doing better). In more positive news, virtual health care has seen large strides that might continue even after the pandemic, nurse recruitment in the province has been challenging but reasonably successful and hundreds of community-based volunteers have continued to show up to keep our pop-up test sites running.

Let’s hope April continues the upswing here in Nova Scotia. It certainly can’t be worse than last April.

2. Industry protects itself from Biodiversity Act meant to protect our forests

A clearcut in Cumberland County. Photo: Joan Baxter

Our forestry practices as they are now are unsustainable and must be changed, according to the Lahey Report which suggested a three-pronged approach to reducing clearcutting in Nova Scotia to protect our forests for future generations.

Almost three years later, the recommendations from this report have yet to be implemented.

But March started out with some promise for the protection of Nova Scotia’s forests.

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court barred Extinction Rebellion protestors from blocking logging roads used by the “forest management” company Westfor in Digby County — the blockade had been preventing cutting on sites that are habitats for endangered mainland moose — but refused to grant a broader injunction against the activist group that would prevent them from protesting on other sites licensed to Westfor. Neither would the court award costs or penalize Extinction Rebellion members financially, ruling that the organization, and “similar public interest groups, are well-intentioned and play a role in our modern-day democracy.”

Another activist, Jacob Fillmore, also trying to protect endangered moose, has raised awareness about the issue in recent weeks.

Twenty-five year-old activist Jacob Fillmore (left) is still on a hunger strike in front Province House calling for a moratorium on clearcutting. The strike began March 7. Photo is from Fillmore’s FB page

He started a hunger strike outside Province House on March 7 calling for a moratorium on clearcutting in the province until Lahey’s recommendations are implemented. His strike is ongoing. In an interview over Facebook with Linda Pannozzo for an Examiner article, Fillmore had this to say:

“A lack of biodiversity has unimaginable consequences [and] we won’t be able to turn back time. It is true I must put my health first, but I must also look to the future, and my health then. I can choose to eat, or not, now, but when I face the consequences of what we have done to the planet, I will have no choice.”

“I’m frustrated because I don’t feel there is time to waste, and the people in charge are not taking the problem seriously,” he continued. “I don’t know how to affect change, and the future scares me. I don’t know what to do. I want to do a hunger strike because I’m scared for my future. I’m happy that Rankin was elected premier but his plan is not ambitious enough.”

In his first throne speech, Premier Iain Rankin had said his government would “accelerate the implementation of the recommendations of the report of Professor William Lahey to adopt ecological forestry principles, placing protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity in the forefront of forest management practices.” His government then introduced Bill 4, a proposed Biodiversity Actwhich was meant “to provide for the stewardship, conservation, sustainable use and governance of biodiversity in the Province, as part of an integrated framework of legislation.” 

Entire sections of the Biodiversity Act were crossed out.

After Bill 4 was tabled, an industry-led propaganda push that disguised itself as a community-driven coalition of concerned private landowners pressured the province into scrapping many of the provisions within the Act that were meant to protect our forests. On Tuesday Jennifer Henderson reported that the provincial legislature’s Law Amendments Committee voted to scrap “as many as 10 pages that would have allowed the government to create and enforce ‘biodiversity management zones’  on private as well as Crown lands to protect the habitat of endangered species.” Private landowners control 70 per cent of the province’s landmass, so the Act, as it stands now, has lost most of its teeth. Among other amendments (the Act has gone down from 50 plus sections to 18) the new version of the Act will no longer allow the province to invoke Emergency Orders to intervene on private land in situations where the Act is being contravened.

So, in the same month that the bill was tabled, it was robbed of most of its power to actually protect biodiversity in this province. Not great for something called the BIODIVERSITY Act. It’s best summed up in the headline to Stephen Kimber’s op-ed on the Rankin’s immediate failings as an environmental leader in this province: Well, that didn’t take long.

To find out more about the adverse effects of clearcutting on biodiversity, forests and the environment in general, check out Bob Bancroft’s contributed explainer piece on the issue from March 10. You can also read Jennifer Henderson’s look at some of the vagueries surrounding logging rules and their applications in this province when it comes to clearcutting.

3. Natural Gas

Goldboro site of proposed Pieridae LNG project. Photo: Alexander Bridge

This month saw some more Examiner coverage of Pieridae Energy (Canada) Limited’s proposed liquified natural gas (LNG) plant in Goldboro on the Eastern Shore.

(For a deeper background on the project, and a look at how other proposed LNG plants have failed to come to fruition since 2005, check out Joan Baxter’s in-depth two-part report from October, the Goldboro Gamble, here and here.)

It’s now been a decade since the LNG plant was proposed, but still nothing has been built. Despite this, Tim Bousquet reported on March 15 that Pieridae is asking for $925 million in grants, loans, or loan guarantees from the federal government to jumpstart the project. This, following a report that a major part of the project’s funding — the US $4.5 billion dollars in loan guarantees that the company supposedly has from the German government — isn’t actually guaranteed at all. When Joan Baxter contacted the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy to ask about the “guarantees,” she was told that the government has sent Pieridae a letter of intent to provide these funds, but there is nothing binding them to this agreement.

Another revelation about the project: much of the natural gas that would be piped into the plant would come from Pensylvania, where fracking methods are used to extract the resource. Fracking has been banned both in Germany and Nova Scotia, so it seems a bit unprincipled for Germany to fund a plant, and Nova Scotia to have one built, that would sell natural gas obtained by an extraction method that’s illegal in both places. Tim Bousquet compared it to turning a blind eye to child labour in other countries:

“[W]e ban child labour in Nova Scotia because we care about the health and welfare of Nova Scotian children, but imagine if we had a scheme to profit from child labour in some other country. What do we care about children working in factories in Malaysia if it means a few years of additional work for construction workers in rural Guysborough? Such an attitude would be reprehensible, of course. As it is with fracking: whatever reasons we have for banning fracking in Nova Scotia should apply equally to our sourcing of fuel from Pennsylvania.”

On top of all this, there’s the question of whether natural gas is an environmentally viable option right now, given the current climate — yes, I mean that literally as well as figuratively. In an article from March 22, Bousquet spoke with Premier Rankin, who said he believed natural gas is a transition fuel that will help us wean off coal. But is it akin to taking up chewing tobacco to quit smoking? Bousquet isn’t convinced that natural gas can be justified as a responsible transition toward renewable energy:

[E]nvironmentalists make no bones about it: natural gas is not a transition to a greener future. There should be no “bridge” or “transition”; rather, we should switch entirely to renewables as quickly as possible, and given the dramatic decreases in the costs of renewables (especially in solar) and improvements in battery and other storage technologies, a true renewable power system is much closer than we could imagine even a few years ago.

A detailed map of the Goldboro site from Pieridae’s Environmental Assessment.

And, as seems to be the way with many private resource extraction companies (see the forestry section above), the Examiner has reports on the ways Pieridae Energy is trying to silence its critics. In the aforementioned March 22nd article, Bousquet writes about Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs, where companies use their large resources to threaten litigation against activists for speaking their mind in an attempt to intimidate them from speaking out. That article followed Joan Baxter’s report on March 20 that Pieridae Energy is now threatening legal action against activists who oppose the plant. What did these activists do? Well, the five who might face litigation signed “an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Iain Rankin, and a long list of elected federal and provincial government ministers and officials, which asked that they not provide any financing for the plant.”

You can look up Baxter’s work on Atlantic Gold if you want to do some more reading on the ways the resource extraction industry can use propaganda, intimidation and obfuscation to silence their critics. Just type “Atlantic Gold” into the search bar at the top right of the page.

4. Justice and Policing issues

A Halifax Regional Police vehicle in Dartmouth in 2018. Photo: Zane Woodford

The trial of one of the officers involved in the killing of George Floyd kicked off this week in the United States. The video of Floyd’s death, in addition to the deaths of numerous other Black civilians at the hands of police officers in the U.S. led to worldwide protests and reconsiderations of police service and funding.

“Defund the police” became a rallying a cry. But what would that look like, defunding the police?

Photo by Taymazvalley via Flickr.

Earlier this month, Zane Woodford reported that a definition of defunding the police for Halifax is expected in May after the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners unanimously approved terms of reference for a new Committee to Define Defunding Police. In September, the board had voted to appoint El Jones — the poet, activist and Examiner contributor — to chair the committee. (Jones reported just this week for the Examiner, writing about six justice issues she felt were being unreported in the province). Woodford wrote on March 8:

At that time [Sept. 2020], the committee approved Jones’ proposal for a committee to research the concept of defunding the police, conduct public hearings and present findings to the board.

Following public consultations and a planned internet survey, the committee is expected to release its final report in May. Woodford writes that it will include “a definition of defunding, an ‘overview of the current research and debate around defunding,’ examples from other municipalities, a summary of presentations from citizens, and a summary of ‘what defunding could look like in HRM.’”

Not even three weeks after the board meeting, a video surfaced on Twitter showing a Halifax Regional Police officer threatening to shoot a Black man, telling the civilian “I will fill you with fuckin’ led. Stop fuckin’ walking.”

Zane Woodford reported on that too.

A still from the video of a Halifax Regional Police officer threatening to shoot a Black man. — DeRico Symonds/Twitter Credit: DeRico Symonds/Twitter

In the incident, which occurred on March 26, the man walks around a car with his hands up before ultimately running away without any shots fired. When the video was shared online the next day, social media blew up with outrage over the incident. HRP responded by saying the officer in question had been assigned to desk duty while an internal investigation into the matter had been started.

The Examiner also reported on two decisions from the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), the independent body in charge of overseeing any incidents of serious injury or death concerning police activity. In both cases, SIRT found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of police.

First, on March 3, Tim Bousquet reported on SIRT’s decision to absolve officers who’d fired bullets at the Onslow Firehall during the Portapique shootings. Police had mistakenly believed their suspected shooter was parked outside the hall when they opened fire on the building. No one was harmed in the incident, but Bousquet notes that SIRT’s decision was vague on some details and inconsistent on others, including the geographical movements of the officers in question and the number of shots fired. The director of SIRT told the Examiner the ballistics report on the incident would be available through the lengthy Freedom of Information request procedure. Eyewitnesses and photos of the building seem to suggest more shots were fired than the five reported by SIRT.

Then on March 10, Zane Woodford reported on SIRT’s decision that an RCMP officer was “justified” in shooting a man who was holding an unloaded “air gun pistol” while outside his mother’s home in Eastern Passage. The man was reportedly suicidal and had raised the imitation handgun toward the officers.

Following these decisions, Stephen Kimber asked whether the mandate and performance of SIRT has been effectively overseeing possible police misconduct during serious incidents, when they seem to side with police whether a gun was raised at them, as was the case in Eastern Passage, or they are tackling a mother to the ground in a store.

In other police coverage from the Examiner this month, HRP asked public health officials if they could skip the vaccination queue following an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the offices at police headquarters. Dr. Strang initially told Tim Bousquet at a press conference that police would have to wait for their vaccinations along with the public, receiving doses based on age. Then, on March 18, Bousquet reported that “the province had quietly moved frontline police officers to Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout plan, before the mass vaccination of Phase 3, effectively moving them up the vaccination queue.” As for people with underlying conditions, still no word as to whether they’ll move up the list as well.

There was also some news on the provincial budget this month. Click here for a quick outline of the major points from the province’s plan at the top of Tim Bousquet’s March 26 Morning File.

I think that’s a good sample of some of the stories reporters here at the Examiner have been doggedly following. If you’d like to support more reporting like this, please subscribe or donate.

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Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am) — video meeting, with live captioning on a text-only site

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm) — video meeting; dial-in or live broadcast not available


Budget Committee (Thursday, 9:30am) — contingency date

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm) — virtual meeting; dial-in or live broadcast not available

Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm) — live webcast, with caption on a text-only site



Legislature sits (Wednesday, 1pm)


Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm)

On campus



Safe Space for White Questions (Wednesday, 12:30pm) — live-streamed drop-in session

open to all but aimed at people who identify as white and are interested in working toward collective liberation. Come ask the questions about race, racism, social change, and social justice you always wonder about but feel nervous asking. You won’t offend us (unless you’re trying to—please don’t do that!).

A Sticky Situation: Investigating Structural and Mechanical Properties of Recombinant Pyriform Silk (Wednesday, 4pm) — Jeffrey Simmons will talk.

Resistance as Practice: Acts of AntiRacism Through Architecture & Planning (Wednesday, 7pm) — via Zoom, the inaugural Robert H. Winters lecture series. Panelists Jennifer Llewelyn, Frank Palermo, and Ingrid Waldron

will discuss the structures of institutional racism that they face, and the ways they aim to challenge these systems through their work in areas including restorative justice, community engagement and environmental justice.

More info and registration here.


Internal Borders and Health Crisis in the EU: Is Covid a Threat to Schengen? (Thursday, 11:30am) — talk and Q&A with Ngo Chun Luk, researcher with the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels

Just the Facts or Fool’s Gold: Trust and Uncertainty at the SciencePolicy Interface (Thursday, 1pm) — panel discussion via Zoom with Lisa Barrett, Stefanie Colombo, Bernie Miller, André Picard, and Katherine Fierlbeck

Scientists, academics and medical doctors are among the most trusted people in our society. This trust has been particularly relevant during the pandemic when politicians leaned heavily on chief medical officers and researchers from a variety of disciplines for policy advice.

Yet as the end of the pandemic nears, trust in science has taken a hit. The TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard has recently commented that a number of factors have undermined public trust in science, including the rapid evolution of COVID-19 science, mixed messaging from leaders, political interference, competing ideologies and interpretations and a torrent of misinformation.

The purpose of this April Fools Day panel is to explore the mystery and discipline at the science-policy interface. We are particularly interested in how scientists present research, identify uncertainty, provide advice and communicate with policy makers and the media. What is the appropriate role for scientists and universities when we are confronted with consequential risks with high levels of complexity and uncertainty? What role does civil society play in ensuring the integrity of the research community and their work?​

Ion transport in thyroid hormonogenesis (Thursday, 1pm) — online seminar with Peying Fong from Kansas State University, College of Veterinary Medicine

In the harbour


06:00Maersk Penang, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Saint John
06:00 – Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
11:00 – Siem Confucius, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
15:30 – Maersk Penang, sails for sea
16:00 – Augusta Unity, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for Bilbao, Spain


13:00 – Rt. Hon. Paul E. Martin, self-dischargin bulk carrier, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
13:00 – Algoma Victory, bulker, moves from Pirate Harbour to Aulds Cove quarry


  1. For anyone who’s been following my grey squirrel saga, I have a quick update. We’ve set up a trap (on the advice of readers who put wrote some very helpful comments on my last piece about the invasive rodents) and we’ve yet to catch one squirrel. It’s been nine days. We’re using seeds, nuts and peanut butter. Why won’t they go for it? Why, God?
  2. Tomorrow is opening day for baseball. Like Philip Moscovitch, I like to write about the sport from time to time. For those of you who can’t stand baseball, or don’t understand the rules, here’s the best instructional video on the grand old game that I’ve ever found.
  3. My curling team wrapped up the winter season with a 1-7-1 record on Monday. But more importantly, my teammate Johnny Connell and I were put on a team with two curlers we’d never played with before over the weekend and we won our club’s year-end social funspiel over the weekend. I won more curling matches in one day than I had in my entire curling career up to that point. It was glorious. I have to say, there is no better broom-based sport on this planet. I’m hooked!

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Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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  1. Folks doing to Nova Scotia .. wondering if prior to buying ( either the concept or a ‘ home ) if anyone told them it will be unlikely ( ie not possible ) you will NOT be able to have your own family doctor
    with ‘ our new friends ‘ going from the USA will this lead to lawsuits ?????