1.  Dalhousie report on its racist past released

The cover of the recently released report featuring Gabriel Hall of Preston, “a black refugee who emigrated to the colony of Nova Scotia during the war of 1812.”
The cover of the recently released report featuring Gabriel Hall of Preston, “a black refugee who emigrated to the colony of Nova Scotia during the war of 1812.”

The Dalhousie panel appointed to look into the attitudes and actions of the school’s founder has published its report, writes Frances Willick for the CBC.

In an opening note, the report’s lead author and panel chair Dr. Afua Cooper ties the historical findings to current day findings on racist practices, such as Scott Wortley’s report on street checks. Cooper writes:

The Dalhousie Report gives resonance to the “Street Checks Report” in that it provides the historical basis for the current condition of Blacks in Halifax with respect to this particular discriminatory exercise. Many, if not most, of the Black Haligonians who are street checked are descendants of the Black Refugees of the War of 1812 and Caribbean and African immigrants.

Two hundred years ago, Lord Dalhousie as governor of Nova Scotia, in his bid to keep the province White, wanted to return the Black Refugees to their former slave masters in the US or deport them to such places as Trinidad and Sierra Leone. Policies of Lord Dalhousie’s government and of Nova Scotia’s previous and successive administrations ensured that the Black Refugees were relegated to a caste-like environment that normalized social conscription and educational and political marginalization. One wonders what African Nova Scotians might have achieved over these past 200 years if these barriers were not in place. Another important question is how might Dalhousie University, Halifax, and Nova Scotia atone for the lost opportunities Blacks have incurred in attempting to realize their potential and to self-actualize.

The report makes a number of recommendations to the University, focused in three areas:

Expressing regret for the institution’s and its founder’s connections to slavery and to anti-Black racism, past and present, and acknowledging the responsibility to take steps against anti-Black racism.

Supporting recognition of the historical realities of Black people’s lives in Nova Scotia and the valuable contributions they have made.

Taking concrete steps to repair the harms, especially in the areas of teaching and research, that have been the legacy of slavery in this institution and this province.

Among other things, the recommendations include a formal apology from the Dalhousie board of governors to the African Nova Scotian community, the establishment of bursaries and scholarships in honour of contributions of specific Black Nova Scotians, and the establishment of the Gabriel Hall Centre for the Study of Slavery and Abolition to support further research.

2. Dorian watch

Predicted hurricane track from Environment Canada, issued at 3am today, September 6. Dorian is predicted to hit Halifax Saturday evening.

If you lived in Halifax in 2003, you certainly remember Hurricane Juan. You may also remember not being prepared for it, one bit. Since then I’ve noticed Haligonians take hurricane warnings a little more seriously, though I wonder when we will reach peak ‘boy who cried wolf’ psychology, whence all the energy that went into the warnings for the storms that ended up passing us by morphs into malaise over the warning for the next one. Hopefully not anytime soon.

If you’re looking to be prepared, the message from emergency measures pros is clear: batten down the hatches, and prepare to lose power. CBC News spoke to NS Power president Karen Hutt:

Hutt said Nova Scotia Power will have crews in position to respond to outages as soon as the conditions are safe enough.

She said Nova Scotians should expect to lose power.

“I’d be hesitant to try to be specific … but there’s no question that once you start to see forecasts that call for winds that are higher than 100 km/h, you can anticipate outages,” she said.

Here’s what the city’s Emergency Management division recommends should be in your “basic household emergency kit” which is ideally kept in a duffel bag or backpack in an easy-to-reach spot. They also recommend you keep a “corded” phone in your home, as cordless phones don’t work without a power source. The list also refers to payphones, so it seems like it might need an update, since they are as rare as hen’s teeth these days. Needless to say, if you’re without a landline, charge those devices and be prepared to rely on data.

  • Drinking water – at least two litres per person per day and one litre per pet per day
  • Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (replace food and water once a year)
  • Manual can opener and bottle opener
  • Wind-up or battery-powered flashlight and radio (and extra batteries)
  • First aid kit
  • Extra keys to your car and house
  • Cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills and change for payphones
  • A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
  • Special items such as prescription medication, infant formula, equipment for people with disabilities or food, water and medication for your pets or service animal (personalize your kit according to your needs)

3. Ticket troubles

Halifax Twitter got plenty creative back when Halifax Transit announced new giant paper tickets were coming to town as part of their plan to modernize fare collection.

Halifax Transit’s new fare management system (the one that will use new, oversized tickets the size of paper money in advance of actual cashless technology) is behind schedule, and the CBC’s Jean Laroche spoke to three people who say the delay is due to problems with the new mega-tickets, though both the city and the ticket manufacturer deny the story. Unfortunately the city’s communications department is not explaining the delay any other way, reports Laroche:

The company, Canada Ticket Inc., and city officials deny there’s any issue with the tickets.

“The design and planning phase of the new fare management system is taking longer than originally anticipated,” municipal spokesperson Erin DiCarlo said in an email. She refused to elaborate.

If things had progressed as planned, bus and ferry riders would already be using the new tickets, which are the size of $20 bills and are intended to have enhanced security features, including infrared ink, to reduce the likelihood of fraud.

Last year, city officials said the tickets were needed as part of a plan to replace fare boxes with updated models that could eventually be modified to accept smart cards, debit or credit cards, or mobile apps.

4.  Council committee approves further report on electrification of vehicles

Meet Zevvy, an EV that’s been touring Nova Scotia this summer as part of a provincial promotion called Next Ride. Photo: Erica Butler.

Council’s environment and sustainability committee gave their stamp of approval to a city staff report recommending that a further report come back to the committee with a plan and budget to build more charging stations for EVs (electric vehicles) and to convert some of the city’s light duty vehicle fleet to electric.  The report will also include a strategy for getting authority from the province to be able to require electric vehicle charging stations in new developments.

StarMetro Halifax’s Zane Woodford reports that the committee decision was unanimous.

“This is an opportunity for us to show true leadership,” Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini said during debate on Thursday.

“We want our citizens, we want our businesses to do it, we have to show leadership.”

Council declared a climate emergency earlier this year, and the staff report to the committee on Thursday said “electrification of transportation will be a key focus of the municipality’s forthcoming climate action plan with a view to 2050.”

In contrast to this modest step toward enabling EVs, Halifax Transit recently abandoned their own modest efforts to look into electrification of the transit fleet, a move which stands to save millions in fuel and maintenance costs. A year after getting council approval for participation in a cross-Canada pilot project which would have seen eight older diesel buses replaced with battery electric buses (all for the cost of diesel replacements), city staff decided to “mothball” the project.

Transit director Dave Reage cited concerns over lack of funding, despite the cost-of-diesel-replacement commitment being requested by the project coordinators, the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC). Council had already approved $1 million towards the project, and another $2.25 million had been secured for Halifax via federal government programs. That money now goes somewhere else. Reage also said Halifax Transit was simply not ready for the project, and predicted that electrification was off the table for another three years.

The current city staff report focuses on EVs only, with no mention of buses, and predicts an investment of about $600,000 for charging infrastructure, and a $200,000 investment in equipment to service any new electric vehicles in the city fleet. The report says EV replacements will cost an extra $8500 a piece after factoring in federal rebates. On the other hand they are expected to save $12,000 in fuel and maintenance costs over a five-year lifecycle.

5. Lafarge cement plant now burning tires

The CBC’s Michael Gorman checks in on a 12 month pilot project by Lafarge Canada to replace coal they burn in their Brookfield cement plant with scrap tires, in an effort to reduce their carbon emissions. The company is still ramping up to full tire burning, and so far, reports Gorman, they have “not seen any notable changes.”

The project has locals worried that the effort to reduce GHG emissions could end up adding other harmful pollutants to the air.

The cement industry is a major emitter of CO2, not just from the fossil fuels burned to power kilns, but even more so by the chemical reaction, called calcination, inside the kilns themselves which is required to produce concrete. The BBC reports that, “in 2016, world cement production generated around 2.2 billion tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to 8% of the global total. More than half of that came from the calcination process.”


1. NDP-Green spat

Tim Bousquet wrote this item.

Yesterday, Philip Moscovitch wrote about a news report that 14 New Brunswickian NDP candidates had defected to the Green Party. Moscovitch had a measured response, and took the extra step of interviewing local two local candidates, one NDP and one Green, asking for their reactions. I found Moscovitch’s take on it interesting.

By yesterday afternoon, NDP members contacted us asking for a correction. They said that Jonathan Richardson, who was the source for news articles about the defection, had overstated the extent of the defections. They’re right. Here’s iPolitics report on that:

A list of 14 former NDP candidates in New Brunswick, reported earlier this week to have defected to the Green Party, now consists of just eight — and the Green Party’s provincial executive director is accusing the New Democrats of pressuring their old supporters to change their minds.

“I must say, it’s a very well played game from the NDP in blurring what’s really a good news story,” the New Brunswick Greens’ Marco Morency told iPolitics Thursday afternoon, confirming that at least some of the individuals on a list shared Tuesday were not, in fact, joining his party. Morency said at one former candidate had called him to say their name had been included by mistake.

He says some of the defecting individuals had received phone calls from the NDP in Montreal since announcing their intentions. He alleged that “there’s been some pressure somewhere” when it came to those changing their minds, though he confirmed that he hasn’t spoken with many of the individuals in that group.

“This is just vicious old politics,” he said in a phone call.

Morency’s confirmation comes hours after New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh accused Green Party leader Elizabeth May of misinformation to reporters in Toronto, claiming that the reports of 14 defectors in New Brunswick were “incorrect.” “That’s something that, right now, is a developing story. It turns out the Green Party wasn’t as accurate with their information as folks would have liked them to be, and it turns out some of that information is not true,” Singh alleged Thursday morning. 

Earlier this week, at a news conference in Moncton, a group of former NDP candidates announced their mass defection to the Greens, multiple outlets reported.

I’ll let readers decide for themselves to what degree the Greens’ overstatement reflects a conscious misinformation campaign and, on the other hand, what to make of the seemingly inarguable fact that eight NDPers defected.

No matter how you read the situation, however, I think Moscovitch’s commentary was fair.


No public meetings.

On campus



SingleAtom Alloy Catalysts: Born in a Vacuum, Tested in Reactors, and Understood In Silico (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Charles Sykes from Tufts University will talk.

In the harbour

02:00: Ef Ava, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Portland
03:30: Jennifer Schepers, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
06:00: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Barcelona
06:30: Ocean Force, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
07:00: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship with up to 540 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Charlottetown, on an 11-day cruise from to Boston
7:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41

Zuiderdam. Photo: Halifax Examiner

07:15: Zuiderdam, cruise ship with up to 2,364 passengers, arrives at Pier 42 from Saint John, on a 12-day cruise from Boston to Quebec
09:30: Insignia, cruise ship with up to 800 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Saint John, on a 10-day cruise from New York to Montreal
14:45: Seaborne Quest sails for Bar Harbor
16:30: Insignia sails for Sydney
16:30: Ocean Force sails for Saint-Pierre
16:30: ZIM Monaco sails for New York
17:30: Zuiderdam sails for Sydney
18:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, sails from Pier 9 for sea
22:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk

No cruise ships this weekend. Naval ships depart on Monday.


Now off to the backyard to pack up the potential projectiles.

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  1. Dr. Cooper is not a historian and her narrow focus on certain aspects of the achievements of George Ramsay render her work unsuitable for a complete understanding of what he believed and what he achieved in Canada.
    Only 30% of the Castine money went to the founding of Dalhousie and her failure to mention this in her writings and public speaking makes one wonder if she ever read the 3 volumes of Dalhouise correspondence as edited by Marjorie Whitelaw, and available in the Central library.
    The least she could have done was to lay to rest the myth that the Black refugees got the worst land in Nova Scotia; as though the rocky landscape in the Prestons and Beechville were the only places where rock was predominant in Nova Scotia.

  2. Re landline telephones. Since telephone services have been “upgraded” you lose your phone when you lose your electricity. If you don’t have a cellphone you are cut off, can’t even report power outage any more. Used to be that you could still use your Eastlink phone, but it appears they’ve joined Aliant in this unfortunate change. I don’t know how you call 911 if you need to.

  3. “… and the Green Party’s provincial executive director is accusing the New Democrats of pressuring their old supporters to change their minds.” Really? And I suppose if a Green Party candidate defected no one from the Green Party would call to attempt o have that candidate change their mind! That would seem to be saying we didn’t want you in the first place. Not vicious politics, just common sense.

  4. Just a comment on hurricane preparations. We have never had a storm – Hurricanes Juan and earl included – that have had the slightest impact on the municipal water supply. There is lots of power back up for those parts of the water supply that require it and most is gravity fed.
    Always good to keep water handy, but for petes sake just fill up jugs, DONT buy bottled water.

    1. You do realise that people who have wells (whose power will be out, on average, for way longer than people on municipal water) need electricity for their well pumps, right?

    2. I wondered about this too, for urban dwellers. For those of us on wells, of course, it makes sense, since no power means no functioning pump.

      1. You’re right that the need for water is Plan B for those on wells and thus far more immediate, and only Plan C for those on municipal water supplies. But since the point of emergency preparation is to increase self-sufficiency in a variety of emergencies, having a Plan C seems reasonable to me.

        Halifax Water works in a power outage because of generators at their supply stations and their pumping stations. For it to continue working in an extended outage, they need access to fuel, fuel transportation, and passable roads to refuel generators. (They also need water mains to be intact, supply stations to not be flooded, and all manner of other things). I am sure they have binders full of contingency plans and backups, to the point that a city-wide outage is incredibly unlikely, but that won’t be comforting if it’s my street that they can’t serve.

        But definitely +1 for filling your own containers (water bottles, cleaned out milk jugs, etc.) rather than buying bottled water.

  5. I hope Dr Cooper has supplied more references to support his claims against Lord Dalhousie than he has provided the H.E.?

    Until then this is just a screed of unsupported allegation and smears.

    No mention either of contrasting his actions against prevailing attitudes to see how far they may have been worse or better that his contemporaries.