1. The latest

There’s a tiny glimmer of hope that Nova Scotia is containing the spread of COVID-19, as over the last few days the number of new positive tests of cases has gone down, from 34 on Thursday to 21 on Friday to 17 on Saturday. But that could very well be a statistical blip, as on a weekly basis, the numbers are still going up:

As Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, has said from the beginning, late April and into May — the next two to three weeks — will be crucial in containing the spread in Nova Scotia. This is crunch time. How well we adhere to social distancing and other protocols (hand-washing, etc) will determine just how steep that curve will get.

Here’s one indication of the horrific possibility: the province now has 120 ICU beds. As of Saturday, just four people with COVID-19 were in those beds. People with other illnesses are also in ICU, but to the extent possible they are being moved out of those beds as quickly as possible in anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 patients (last I heard, ICUs were at less than 50% capacity). And by repurposing facilities and moving resources around, the Health Authority is preparing to make available 190 to 200 ICU beds in the next few weeks.

We’ve been extremely lucky so far in that only two people have died (of course, that’s not to downplay the tragedy to those people and their families). But that number will almost certainly rise in coming days. Just how much it rises depends in large part on how we collectively and individually respond. If we maintain our vigilance, the tragedy will be somewhat contained; if not, we will see far too many people die.

Potential exposures

The Nova Scotia Health Authority issued two notices of potential exposure over the weekend.

On Saturday:

NSHA advising of potential COVID-19 exposure at several HRM locations

Saturday, April 11, 2020

NSHA Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 at several Halifax Regional Municipality locations. These are not related to any previous potential exposure notifications:

• Atlantic Superstore, 9 Braemar Dr, Dartmouth on April 2-6, 8
• Scotia Tire, 975 Cole Harbour Rd, Dartmouth on April 6
• Halifax Transit routes:
Route #60 at 6:10 am -7:10 a.m. leaving Eastern Passage on April 2-6
Route #10 at 6:40 am -7:40 a.m. Dalhousie on April 2-6
Route #62 at 4:50 pm – 5:50 p.m. Wildwood on April 2-6
Route #60 at 5:15 pm – 6:15 p.m. heading towards Eastern Passage on April 2-6
Route #60 at 8:15 am – 9:15 a.m. leaving Eastern Passage on April 8

Public Health is directly contacting anyone known to be a close contact of the person(s) confirmed to have COVID-19. While most people have been contacted, there could be some contacts that Public Health is not aware of.

It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on the named dates at this location may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 22, 2020. People should self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

And on Sunday:

NSHA advising of potential COVID-19 exposure at Halifax restaurant

Sunday, April 12, 2020

NSHA Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 at G-Street Pizza, 2302 Gottingen Street, Halifax, on April 4 and April 6.

Public Health is directly contacting anyone known to be a close contact of the person(s) confirmed to have COVID-19. While most people have been contacted, there could be some contacts that Public Health is not aware of.

It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on the named dates at this location may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 20, 2020. People should self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Cop tests positive

A police release:

Halifax Regional Police was advised this afternoon that one of our police officers has tested positive for COVID-19. We are now working with Public Health on contact-tracing and identifying additional employees who may need testing.  Public Health will also determine if any additional notifications are necessary.

The employee who tested positive has not been in the workspace since April 5. Since that time, all workspaces and vehicles, with which the employee was in contact, have already undergone cleanings as part of HRP’s cleaning protocol.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Strang will have an update on all things COVID-19 at 3pm today.

2. A family with COVID-19

Left to right: Donnie Clarke, Drew Clarke and Tracey Kieley. Photo submitted.

“What is it like to have COVID-19?” asks reporter Yvette d’Entremont:

That’s a question Halifax resident Tracey Kieley, 44, and her husband Donnie Clarke, 50, have been asked frequently.

The couple both tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20, and were among the first 15 cases in Nova Scotia. Their 12-year-old daughter Drew Clarke initially tested negative, but on March 30 also received a positive diagnosis.

While all three are well on their way to recovery, they wanted to share their story to help quell panic, put faces to the growing numbers, and to stress the importance of following public health advice to prevent further spread of the virus.

Click here to read “A Halifax family explains what it’s like to have COVID-19.”

3. The collapse of journalism during the pandemic

“Our more-than-a-century-old newspaper publishing model — print-on-paper journalism paid for primarily by advertisers seeking eyeballs for their messages — simply doesn’t work anymore,” writes Stephen Kimber. “It hasn’t for more than an internet hour. What can — what should — we do about that?”

Click here to read “Stop the presses.”

4. Easter

El’s Grandmummy

El Jones watches the live-stream of her childhood church’s Easter service:

And of course I thought about my mother, knowing she would be singing loudly along with the organ, choir or not, and shouting all the responses. I thought fondly of her joy on Easter morning, her dismissal of the trappings of religion — of the sermon — but her deep embrace of the meaning of Jesus. All of our mothers back and back, whose lives have always been about resurrection, about holding on, about coming back.

Visit the prisoner, my mother taught me. Be kind. Do justice. Walk humbly. Whatever you do to the least of my people, you are doing that to me. In less religious terms, we gon’ be alright.

Click here to read “Easter in the pandemic.”

5. City Hall layoffs

On March 31, councillor and mayoral candidate Matt Whitman tweeted out that “Property tax relief is a PRIORITY of mine. Layoffs of #HRM non essential staff is likely required to offer tax relief to taxpayers & businesses.”

This tweet was deemed irresponsible by other councillors, who had made no decisions about staff layoffs.

So, in direct response to Whitman’s tweet and subsequent appearances on talk radio calling for staff layoffs, on April 2, Mayor Mike Savage and 15 of the 16 city councillors (Whitman wasn’t asked to participate) signed a letter to city employees:

It is very unfortunate some people are being irresponsible and causing you unnecessary fear and anxiety. Please do not listen to rumour and speculation, listen to the leaders who encourage you and provide hope — your managers, senior directors, the Mayor and Regional Council.

While we don’t know what the future holds, difficult decisions lie ahead. Our concern is always for the safety and security of you and your loved ones, and residents of HRM.

“Certainly we’re going to see changes to how we staff things during this crisis,” councillor Waye Mason told the CBC. “But none of that has been decided yet, so it’s really premature to be talking about [layoffs].”

Fair enough… except the very next day, April 3, recreation workers were sent layoff notices:

“As far as I can tell everyone below management level has been laid off,” one rec worker tells me. “I have over 10 years in, some of my coworkers have much more than that. All program leaders (youth leaders, fitness instructors, child care, etc.) are short-term contract staff with no benefits or seniority regardless of how many years we worked there.”

Obviously rec programs can’t operate in these times, but the timing of the letter was, um, unfortunate.

6. Ergonomics

Herman Miller Aeron office chair
“I do not own a Herman Miller Aeron, but I’d buy one if I could afford it,” writes Philip Moscovitch. “They are a pleasure to write in.”

“Floyd Blaikie didn’t think she’d need to bring home her office chair,” reports Philip Moscovitch:

Four weeks ago, her employer, the Halifax-based digital marketing firm Kula Partners, told employees they would be working from home. Realizing she was likely to be at this for awhile, Blaikie collected some of  her equipment — but not the chair.

“I took my monitor and my keyboard, and thought I’d sit on my kitchen chair and it would be fine. I thought it was funny that some people were taking their big rolling chair home, but I have two toddlers and I thought,  ‘I won’t even be able to sit in it because it will become their new toy and it will be covered in yogurt.’”

Blaikie’s desk chair was about the same height as her kitchen chair, and she already worked from home without it two days a week anyway. What could go wrong?

Click here to read “How to avoid getting injured while working from home.”

7. Northern Pulp

Northern Pulp Mill (book cover photo from Joan Baxter’s Book, The Mill). Photo courtesy of Dr. Gerry Farrell Credit: Dr. Gerry Farrell

“At 4:38pm Thursday, Northern Pulp sent out a two-page statement to media,” reports Joan Baxter:

That’s right; moments after provincial employees would have gone home (or at least shut down their work accounts on their computers because they are already working from home to respect public health directives), and after many journalists would have logged off for the long weekend, Northern Pulp / Paper Excellence decided the time was right to issue a statement. Its headline read:

Northern Pulp prepared to invest in modernizing mill and revitalizing Nova Scotia’s forestry sector.

As if just yesterday the company suddenly came to the conclusion that it was prepared to modernize the 53-year-old pulp mill that has been in hibernation since January, and decided that it had to tell the world. On the eve of the Easter weekend. During the worst health crisis this planet has seen in a century.

As if the statement was even news.

Click here to read “Northern Pulp statement off-base and ill-timed during the COVID-19 crisis.”

8. Farm Assists

A police release from overnight:

At approximately 8:37 p.m., officers responded to reports of an altercation occurring at the Farm Assist business at 2326 Gottingen Street in Halifax involving several parties including one who was observed with a knife.

Police believe at this preliminary stage in the investigation that one individual entered the business, producing a knife in an attempt to rob the business at which point he was subdued by multiple persons already inside the business.

An adult male is in police custody and the investigation is continuing.


1. Neighbours

Halifax lawyer Barbara Darby ruminates on neighbourliness in this time:

I turned my mind to the idea and manifestation of neighbours, the folks cheering you up with a friendly wave, the less amenable folks challenging your 6′ radius in the grocery store, the nurse down the street showing up for his shift.

Neighbours: they spy, torment, support, counsel, channel Harry Belafonte at dinner parties. They go bowling. They judge, love and hate. Some well-intentioned ones try to help with writer’s block and set the world ablaze.

Some neighbours teach us to count and read, to tie our shoes, to imagine and create. The very best ones teach us to be kind.

And then takes us on a lovely (and sad) tour of Sesame Street, before getting down to business and reviewing the case law related to neighbours fighting each other in court, including this one:

In Quebec in 2011, neighbours Popradis and Do Rio got into it over a retaining wall, fence and some cedar trees. Popradis alleged that the Do Rio built the wall over the property line, spread “rocks and debris” under their cedar trees, and cut eight of their trees down.

They also claimed “Damages …for stress, harassment they and their dog experienced, disturbances, annoyances and loss of enjoyment of their property.”

In an unreported preliminary decision, the dog was denied standing to represent itself.

The issue with the dog? The Plaintiffs claimed that the Defendant would imitate the barking of a dog or kick the fence in order to provoke a reaction from their dog. Do Rio, in his defence, suggested that “he felt that he had the right to bark on his property, which yielded the results expected, as the plaintiffs’ dog stopped barking.”

The Plaintiffs also alleged that Do Rios erected a “tombstone” rock and a cross on his property, as provocation after they sent him a formal demand notice. The Defendant claimed that, along with a right to bark on his land, he had a right to install what he wants. The Court disagreed:

It is rare even unusual, for a tombstone and a cross to be installed on private property in a residential neighbourhood in the Montréal region. The standard of tolerance applicable to the neighbourhood where the properties in question are located does not include the annoyance of having to look at a tombstone and a cross put up by a neighbour with whom one has a dispute.

It leads us to wonder in which neighbourhoods a cross and tombstone might be within the standard of tolerance.

The Plaintiffs were entirely successful, because it appears Do Rio is a jerk.


No public meetings.

On the harbour

05:00: YM Essence, container ship, arrived at Fairview Cove from New York
06:00: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
06:00: Augusta Unity, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 42 from St. John’s
10:30: McQueen, wood chips carrier, arrives at anchorage for AGM inspection from Dafeng, China
13:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 36
13:00: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
14:00: McQueen sails for sea
16:00: Tropic Lissette sails for Palm Beach, Florida
16:30: YM Essence sails for Rotterdam
20:00: AS Laguna, container ship, arrives at Pier 9 from Miami


These are stressful times.

I wish I had something more positive or interesting to offer, but I can’t be “on” everyday, I guess.

Be kind.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Once again, no mention of the ferry in NSHA’s release. The 60 and 62 connect to the ferry at Alderney Landing. Is the NSHA aware that we have a ferry?

    1. It looks to me like this was a passenger on the bus, someone who lives in Eastern Passage and took the #60 and #62 to the bridge terminal and then took the #10 across the bridge. Not sure why the bridge terminal isn’t mentioned, however.

  2. Stephen Kimber’s thoughtful piece on the crisis facing print-based, advertising-supported journalism is especially relevant to smaller places such as Sackville, N.B. and nearby Amherst, N.S. where the Saltwire weeklies are closed until at least June 15. If Kimber is right that there is no long-term future for such publications, these communities and many more like them will lose their sources of local news. There is temporary help on the horizon. The federal local journalism initiative in partnership with the Community Radio Fund has put up $50,000 for a one-year journalism position that will directly benefit the 50-watt campus/community station in Sackville and the larger community station in Amherst. But one local journalist can’t replace the four or five who work for the Saltwire weeklies and besides, the position is temporary. I think one solution rests with Canada’s national public broadcaster, which, with federal support, could establish a local democracy reporting service similar to the one launched by the BBC.

    1. The CBC has no interest in any area outside Toronto and Ottawa. It is a disgrace, obsessed with federal politics and Ottawa centric. Tells the rest of Canada nothing about the history and the lives of Canadians. I spent $5 in Value Village, the best bookstores in HRM, and bought a 2002 reprint of ‘History of Newfoundland’ by D W Prowse. With 800 pages of well written history, enough to make a 12 part series for TV. Unfortunately our taxpayer funded broadcaster cannot see beyond central Canada.

  3. Northern Pulp should be closed down immediately and its nefarious owners kicked out of Canada, forever. This company offers absolutely NO VALUE to us, our province. our country. Hasn’t Covid-19 taught us anything ? This kind of virus flourishes where there is lack of respect for the tightly entwined, co-dependent relationship between human beings, all other species, and the planet. Let me amend that, we are temporary guests on this planet, it really does not need humans at all. The destruction wrought by Northern Pulp just brings that conclusion to its obvious end all the sooner.

  4. “McQueen, wood chips carrier, arrives at anchorage for AGM inspection from Dafeng, China”

    Big bulk-carrier: is this a new/newish development?
    Jus’ askin’

  5. So who decided to not ask Whitman to sign the letter and why ?
    Did the Mayor know that Whitman was to be excluded ?
    Did the CAO know that Whitman was excluded ?
    Why did reporters not ask questions ?
    And now they have to vote on his motion and reporters will have another chance to ask questions.

  6. Now is the time to be the neighbour that Wilson was on the sitcom “Home Improvement”:
    – Kind
    – Good Humoured
    – Thoughtful
    – Keeping a modest distance with his face covered

  7. I am very likely to make a lightning trip to our closed office to grab a proper office chair. It really is hard to sit on anything else for extended periods of time, no matter how many pillows you put on it.