1. Pardons

A photo of a woman smoking pot while wearing a hat that says "weed."
Credit: Justin Tang – the Canadian Press

“The federal government will announce on Wednesday morning that it intends to proceed with a plan to grant pardons to Canadians who have past simple possession charges,” reports CTV:

Sources have confirmed to CTV News that the government intends to issue pardons, and not record expungements or amnesty, for cases of possession of 30 grams or less, as that will be legal as the new recreational legalization regime comes into force at midnight tonight [that is, this morning].

The pardons won’t be granted immediately, but ministers are expected to outline options that could be used to facilitate the pardon process, and potential ways to expedite the sometimes protracted endeavor.

One option could be an application-based approach, where people would have to fill out a form to qualify.

Asked about pardons on the Hill earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “we’re going to be working on that as I’ve said, as soon as the day of legalization comes into force.”

2. Dispensary raids

“Along with the recent increase in headlines about the upcoming legalization of cannabis in Canada, there have been more stories about raids on illegal dispensaries across Nova Scotia,” reports Ian Fairclough for the Chronicle Herald:

But police say there is no master plan for a mass raid of remaining dispensaries once new laws come into effect Wednesday.

“Dispensaries are illegal today, and they’ll be illegal tomorrow,” RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said Tuesday.

While she acknowledged that several dispensaries have been searched and people arrested in the past couple of months, she said that there is no schedule for shutting them down as legalization comes into effect.

“There isn’t a plan. If there are illegal operations, we will continue to address that,” she said. “The only plan is to do what we’ve always done.”

She said it wouldn’t make sense to divert all resources into dispensary busts in a short time when police are also dealing with investigations of illicit drugs all across the province.

Supt. Jim Perrin with Halifax Regional Police said the same thing, pointing out that heroin and cocaine investigations address a more serious issue.

He said that there isn’t enough manpower to take down all the outlets at once while also conducting other investigations.

But, he said, those raids will still happen as police deal with complaints and receive information.

One such complaint was made about a dispensary in Dartmouth on August 23. The dispensary at 261 Pleasant Street has been called both Maritime Vapors and Maritime Heights. It’s in a tiny two-unit commercial building (a tattoo parlour is next door) in Woodside, with apartments above.

“The complainant, who was not identified indicated that the dispensary has been rebranded as Maritime Vapors and that customers of the business were smoking marihuana in vehicles in the parking lot and blaring loud music, causing a disruption to the community,” wrote Detective Constable Pat O’Neill in an application to obtain a search warrant. “I was not provided with any information to help me assess the credibility of the complainant so I cannot offer any qualification as to the reliability of the information.”

If anyone is wondering, O’Neill was paid $111,214.05 last year.

Well, that possibly reliable, possibly not complaint was all it took to put the full force of the Halifax police into action.

That night, O’Neill and Detective Constable Josh McNeil (who I believe is some sort of relative to both Premier Stephen McNeil and Deputy Police Chief Robin McNeil, and who was paid $123,880.11 last year) drove by the dispensary on a recognizance mission. “I was able to see mason jars containing marihuana on the shelf when we drove past an open window.”


The next day, Detective Sergeant William Morris (last year paid $140,754.93) went by the dispensary and “observed a party leaving the dispensary in a vehicle,” wrote O’Neill. “DS Morris conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle that this customer left in and had a conversation with them.” O’Neill doesn’t say what the probable cause for the stop was, but does relate that “DS Morris was told by the customer that they had just purchased two grams of marihuana for $10 each.”

In his application for a search warrant, O’Neill went on to lecture the justice of the peace on the evils of marihuana, which is the cop spelling of the weed because that’s how it’s spelled in the criminal code.

“While on the face of it marihuana dispensaries appear to be relatively harmless enterprises, there have been many incidents as of late where dispensaries have been targeted for violent robberies, their owners have been the victims of home invasions, and most recently a marihuana dispensary on Joseph How Drive in Halifax was firebombed (this dispensary was on the ground floor of a multi-level apartment building),” wrote O’Neill. “Dispensaries are targeted by rival groups or criminals because the benefit of robbing a dispensary is that two valuable commodities can be obtained for the price of one robbery. Dispensaries place the communities they are in at risk due to the incidents of that nature.”

So better for the cops to attack them, I guess. And if a rival wants to shut down a dispensary all they have to do make a possibly reliable, possibly not complaint about music in the parking lot.

O’Neill then went on to include a screenshot of the weedmaps page for Maritime Vapors, and then a screenshot of the Google Street View of Martime Vapors:

Evidence! Warrant granted!

The next day, the third day of this police investigation by multiple highly paid cops, Maritime Vapors was raided, and a 25-year-old man working the place was arrested.

3. No one much cares that we’re destroying the planet: Halifax council edition

Meanwhile, councillor Richard Zurawski yesterday made the completely sensible suggestion that Halifax council should pass a resolutions in opposition to offshore drilling. Such resolutions have been passed in Lunenburg and other towns.

Zurawski cited the release of the International Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report last week, which underscored the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions pretty much immediately or face irreversible climate change and all the human horrors that will come along with it.

“The reason for this motion is a message to the public that we must stop this… we have a dire report saying the continued use of fossil fuels is bad…”  said Zurawaski, and the offshore “is the epitome of continued use of fossil fuels.”

The motion was defeated on a 10-6 votes. The yes votes (in opposition to drilling) came from councillors Shawn Cleary, Lisa Blackburn, Stephen Adams, Waye Mason, Lindell Smith, and Zurawski. Mayor Mike Savage is in China and so didn’t vote. All others voted pro-drilling.

Understand this was a toothless motion. Had it passed, it would have had no force of law. Stephen McNeil and his government would have kept on with their plans to expand the offshore. The motion was merely symbolic, a statement of concern.

But even that was too much for the council majority. And that majority, I’m sorry to say, is reflective of their constituency. The sad fact is that no one much gives a shit that we’re destroying the planet.

Before the council meeting, I attended the “fake news” talk at Dal. I’m glad I went, and enjoyed the discussion. It wasn’t the focus of the event, but at one point panelist Elamin Abdelmahmoud (of Buzzfeed) plugged the podcast Slow Burn, in which Slate reporter Leon Neyfakh retells the Watergate saga as a sort of parallel that might help us better understand the Trump years.

I immediately downloaded the podcast and listened to episode 1, titled Martha, while walking to City Hall for the council meeting. Martha is Martha Mitchell, the spouse of John Mitchell, Nixon’s first attorney general, who was implicated in the Watergate break-in. Martha claimed that immediately after the break-in, she was “forcibly tranquilized and held prisoner in a California hotel room so that she wouldn’t tell reporters what she knew about Watergate.” She went on to say that Nixon was a crook and should resign. This was over a year before Nixon did just that.

The problem was that no one believed Martha. She was portrayed as a mentally ill alcoholic, full of fantasies and delusions. All the sexist tropes were employed to ridicule her. But she was absolutely right.

Neyfakh tells us that there’s now something called the Martha Mitchell effect, named after Martha “to describe the situation where someone is incorrectly diagnosed as delusional but turns out to be right.”

A modern day Cassandra. The Martha Mitchell effect made me think of Cassandra because at some long-ago council meeting, I forget the details, but one of the councillors, Steve Streatch I believe, incorrectly called someone a “Cassandra” — Streatch used the word to described someone who is wrongly predicting terrible things, when in reality Cassandra’s curse was that she correctly saw the future but no one believed her.

There was evidently a lot going through my head between the short walk from Dalhousie to City Hall, because I also thought about a young activist who is working on climate change issues. I don’t know this young person well, but I admire them. They’re more effective than they know, and yet I watch them struggle to bring sense to the world in a society that for the most part simply does not give a shit: Sure, climate change, whatever, my retirement is invested in the oil sands. A carbon tax is a communist plot. Divestment, oh so cute. You know the drill. I watch this young person struggle emotionally with working to change that uncaring world — they appear to be having a very rough time of it — and it pains me a great deal.

Richard Zurawski. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Which brings me back to Zurawski. He’s easy to make fun of. I’ve done it myself. Some of that ridicule is warranted: he can be full of himself and over-bearing, he talks down to people. But on the dire threat of climate change, he’s absolutely correct. And when someone wants to wake the family when the house is ablaze, subtlety and decorum are not called for; you gotta scream “fire!”

The house is ablaze. The planet is burning. The evidence is before us, the facts are solid. We gotta act fast; we gotta act now. But those screaming “fire!” are ridiculed, said to be mentally ill, discounted as fabulists. The Martha Mitchell effect. Cassandras.

And so like the broader society, a majority of the Halifax council simply does not give a shit that we’re destroying the planet. Not even enough to pass a toothless symbolic resolution that would have been ignored in any event.

We are fools.

4. Macdonald Bridge Bikeway

A rendering of Halifax’s potential future bike bridge connecting the Macdonald Bridge to North and Gottingen Streets.

This morning, the city issued a tender offer for design services for the Macdonald Bridge Bikeway Connectors Project. The tender documents aren’t available to the public; the closing date is November 6.




Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — the committee is being asked to give $75,000 towards the St. Paul’s Church wall restoration project, which is half the cost (the other half will come from Parks Canada).

Information Session – Municipal boards and committees (Wednesday, 6pm, City Hall) — if you want to volunteer to be on a board or committee, you could go and see what’s required. Application deadline is October 21.


Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — no action items are on the agenda.



Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — the Liberals have limited the questioning of government employees, so who cares anymore?


No public meetings.

On campus



Bacterial modulation of virulence gene expression: flipping the switch towards pathogenesis (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Nikhil Thomas will speak.

Income Guarantees, Freedom and Global Security (Wednesday, 5:30pm, in the auditorium named after a bank, Marion McCain Building) — Hugh Segal, Mandy Kay-Raining Bird, and Pierre Stevens will speak.

Mini Law School (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Faye Woodman will talk about all the legal stuff around dying: wills, pets, and who to give your social media passwords to.

Faculty Chamber Series, Expressions Through the Centuries (Wednesday, 7pm, The Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Road) — violinist Leonard Perez will perform Bach, Janáčk, and Brahms, joined by pianist Peter Allen, violinist Philippe Djokic, violist Elizabeth Upson Perez, and cellist Ben Marmen. Tickets $25.

Getting it Right: The Ethics of Getting Clean Water (Wednesday, 7pm, President’s Lodge, Atlantic School of Theology) — Ingrid Waldron will talk. RSVP here.


Molecular and Cellular Dynamics of Cardiac Arrhythmias (Thursday, Room 3H1, Tupper Medical Building) — Alvin Shrier from McGill University will speak.

Jerry Singleton’s Retirement Celebration (Thursday, 4pm, University Club Games Room) — Reception and cash bar. ​

Mini Medical School (Thursday, 7pm, Theatre B, Tupper Link) —  Bruce Colwell will speak on “Cancer,” followed by Anne Marie Krueger-Naug at 8:15 with “Palliative Care.”

Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Human Rights (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — Alan Boyle from the University of Edinburgh will talk about all that stuff nobody much cares about.

In the harbour

02:30: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,446 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John (nine-day round-trip cruise out of Baltimore)
02:30: AS Felicia, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
05:30: Fremantle Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
10:00: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
10:30: Capricornus Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
10:30: Fremantle Highway sails for sea
11:00: Star Pride, cruise ship with 254 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Charlottetown (12-day cruise from Montreal to New York) (Bar Harbor)
12:00: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
16:30: Capricornus Leader sails for sea
18:30: Grandeur of the Seas sails for Baltimore
21:00:  Star Pride moves to anchorage


I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.

No kopyeditor today; please be kind.

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  1. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get a copy of the tender document. If they give you a hard time, you can always put in an a formal access to information request. I can’t think of any particular privilege that would attach to it. I know I have got them here in NB just for the asking, albeit on provincial projects.

  2. Tim, you are spot on in your assessment: the majority of our society simply does not give a shit about the ongoing train wreck of climate change.

    It is a hard truth to accept, but it IS the truth that the electorate tends to get the government it deserves; the council vote results confirm this.

    Things are going to get much worse before (if) they get better. To claim otherwise is abject denial of reality. Denial is a very effective adaptation, one unique to our species, and it has played a significant role in many of the ‘successes’ our species has realized. Of course, irony being what it is, it appears it will also play a significant role in many of the impending ‘failures’ we are about to face.

    As Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was fond of saying, “So it goes…”

  3. Over the last couple years as legalization approached, there was quite a growth in illegal weed stores in the city. I was hoping that private retail would be the way ahead once weed was legal, but hey surprise these businesses remain illegal. I’m not sure why you are so outraged/surprised that they are being choked out?
    If media reporting on them is accurate, the owners must have been thrilled by the influx of recordless cash coming in. Somebody else must have been pretty pleased to supply them with (illegal) product. Of course they are all or were crusaders against pot prohibition. Just doing it for the god of us all.

    Of course the complaint was anonymous at Pleasant St. Place gets raided losing cash and product and your name is attached to the complaint doesn’t make for good neighbour to neighbour relations. What was with the attempted salary shaming? I’m guessing cops do overtime like firefighters/nurses and others. Are you saying that all the time cleverly hunting down the evil wrong doers was overtime?
    Dispensaries are old news, time to move on, cuz they are going the way of the dinosaur to no great surprise.
    See you at the smoking areas…

    1. I agree with the comment on salary shaming. I get the point that a lot of highly-paid police time is wasted on dispensary investigations, but I don’t think printing individual salaries (even though they are on the public record) is necessary or helpful.

      It reminds me too much of Frank magazine’s similar attacks on teachers last year.

      1. If making more than $100,000 for busting dispensaries is shameful, I don’t think I’m the problem.

  4. Climate change apathy is the same as the extreme cynicism of the personal finance industry. We have been made to feel so insecure about our own lives (having enough money to retire) that we refuse to look beyond our own doorstep and see a larger world that is in pain and distress.

    We are made to regard climate change in the same way. Last winter was really mild. That sounds good to me. Who cares if the Maldives disappears.

  5. Councillor Richard Zurawski is 100% correct, and those who did not vote in favour of his motion should be considered 100% wrong. First of all they are supposed to represent people and provide stalwart leadership. This vote would have been that. Climate change should not be an either or proposition. It cannot be denied that action has to be taken. I dont know what reasons they had for not voting for it, but I cant imagine anything supportable for saying no. Sure Halifax might be a flyspeck on the bigger spectrum, but never forget the words of American anthropologist Margaret Meade who said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
    Kudos to Councillors Shawn Cleary, Lisa Blackburn, Stephen Adams, Waye Mason, and Lindell Smith for showing true leadership in this vote.

    1. Agreed. I’ve found it interesting reading the comments by the smokers about the ban on smoking in public. The “what are you gonna ban next cars and exhaust?” retort always makes me chuckle as that’s exactly what we need to do ASAP. Many cities are planning on banning all but electric cars in the near future. Tax the crap out of beef and gas. Tax pickups and use all those dollars for public transit or subsidized hybrids and electrics. I know there’s no public will, would be a huge backlash etc but I don’t care. It seems like a failing of our 4 year electoral cycle and education system that people don’t understand the importance of the situation and our leaders won’t act. Positive feedback loops scare the heck out of me and I’m fairly covinced that’s where we’re heading.

  6. Good evening your worship and members of council.
    My name is Minnie Mouse and live in Westwood Hills along with my husband Mickey and our 3 children. The children are bussed to school from our 2,500 square foot house with a two car garage. Our delightful home on a 1 acre lot has a long driveway paved with asphalt. I commute each weekday to downtown Halifax.Many of our neighbours also commute to downtown Halifax and they are also here to express their concerns regarding emissions from the paving plant.
    We are very concerned about the proposed asphalt plant almost 3 kilometres from our idyllic retreat.
    Please consider the environment and reject the proposed asphalt plant. Thank you.