Hi, I’m Rick Conrad, I used to be the digital editor for The Chronicle Herald. I live in West Berlin, Queens Co., on Nova Scotia’s beautiful South Shore. Let’s see how this goes … (BTW, the first item was written by Tim B.)


1. Murphy’s boats have some issues

Summer Bay. Photo: Murphy’s on the Water

“An incident that nearly led to a collision between a Halifax tour boat and a cruise ship has led to new safety measures for all Murphy’s on the Water boats,” reports Shaina Luck for the CBC:

The Transportation Safety Board issued a report Thursday about the June 29, 2016, incident.

On that morning, the Murphy’s tour boat Summer Bay crossed directly in front of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas. 


On the day of the incident, during thick morning fog, the Summer Bay left harbour with 35 passengers and four crew. At the same time, the cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas was coming into the harbour with roughly 3,200 people on board. 

There was low visibility, but the two ships could see each other on radar…


The 15-metre Summer Bay passed 25 metres in front of the Grandeur of the Seas. Crew on the cruise ship did not see the smaller ship almost beneath them. 

Luck goes on to report the details of the near-collision.

Dennis Campbell, owner of Ambassatours, acquired the Murphy’s empire in August 2014, including the harbour tourist ships — the Harbour Hoppers, the Harbour Queen, the Silva, the Summer Bay, Theodore Too, the Peggy’s Cove Express, and the Kawartha Spirit.

The Silva scrapes against the dock. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Two months later, the Silva, with 51 people on board, had to be rescued by the Coast Guard.

On June 7, 2016 — just 15 days before the Summer Bay incident reported by Luck yesterday — the Silva was involved in an eerily similar incident. As the Halifax Examiner reported:

Last week, a container ship came dangerously close to slamming into the Silva sailing ship.

The incident — called a “a close-quarters situation” — occurred on Tuesday, June 7, at 5:22 in the evening, as the container ship NYK Rumina, a 55,000-tonne container ship, was heading into the Narrows. The harbour was fogbound. The Silva was in the area of the “Ferry Track,” an imaginary line that runs between Jetty November Bravo in the Navy Dockyard and the Alderney Landing ferry Wharf.

“The Silva called in to Halifax Traffic [MCTS, the Marine Communications and Traffic Services Halifax] and informed them that they were southbound at the Ferry Track and were close to the Dockyard fence,” Peter Greathead, the captain of the ferry Christopher Stannix, tells the Examiner. With Greathead at the helm, the ferry was crossing the harbour at the time of the incident, just leaving Halifax bound for Alderney Landing.

“The pilot on the NYK Rumina called the Silva to confirm that they were clear of his intended track for the Narrows,” continues Greathead. “The Silva doesn’t have an AIS and the pilot on the NYK Rumina was tracking them by radar. The Silva confirmed that they were southbound and close to the dockyard fence, but the pilot was tracking them further out into the harbour than they had indicated. The pilot started to slow the Rumina drastically and called the Silva to inquire their intentions. The Silva re-confirmed that they were southbound and were close to the fence. The Rumina was at this point almost at a dead stop just about 200 meters out from the Halifax Ferry Terminal.”

Greathead’s account is confirmed by Stephen Bornais, a spokesperson with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “Visibility in the harbour at the time was very poor and the two vessels within 300 metres of each other,” writes Bornais in an email. “The officer on duty at MCTS noticed the situation while tracking the Silva on radar. The sailing vessel was contacted and advised they were in danger. The Silva’s crew believed they were in a different location than her actual position. The harbour ferry Christopher Stannix confirmed the Silva’s location to MCTS and this information was relayed to the Silva. In order to avoid collision, the NYK Rumina stopped her engines and the Silva altered her course to starboard.”

Harbour Queen. Photo: Flickr

Two weeks ago, 30 passengers on board the Harbour Queen had to be evacuated after the boat lost power and, reported CTV, “continued to drift toward the rocks at Point Pleasant Park.”:

“The Habour Queen 1 indicated that it had lost propulsion and a nearby ship, the Peggy’s Cove Express, was assisting them, and at that time they were not requesting any sort of coast guard assistance,” said Frederic Roi from the Maritime Search and Rescue for the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.

Roi says 20 minutes after the original call came in, the Harbour Queen called again, to say the anchor was dragging.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre then helped find a boat to tow the Harbour Queen back to shore.

Murphy’s boats are also the subject of two lawsuits now before the courts. Nicole Keating claims that “she fell through a faulty board and fell into the Halifax Harbour” while boarding the Theodore Too on July 24, 2015.  And McKayla Thomas claims that she “was struck on the head by a speaker which fell from a platform affixed to the ceiling” of the Harbour Queen on June 25, 2015. Neither claim has yet been tested in court.

2. Uh oh, Amherst

Premier Stephen McNeil (Credit: Annapolis Valley Spectator)

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil isn’t so sure about this rush to change names of towns honouring our former colonial masters, according to a Canadian Press story by Aly Thomson.

McNeil was asked about changing the name of Amherst, after Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre pledged to do away with a street named after the commander of the British army in North America in the mid-1700s who advocated killing Indigenous Peoples by giving them smallpox-laden blankets.

McNeill said he prefers a cautious approach:

“I think we always need to be sensitive to how this is impacting people today, but I think we can’t ignore what was our history collectively… Whether you’re African Nova Scotian, Mi’kmaq, or Acadian — in this province, there were challenging aspects of our history. But we can’t ignore those either. We have to ensure they’re part of our ongoing educational lessons that we teach in this generation.”

Tim has tackled the Cornwallis issue very well many times, including here.

In my opinion, if these things are to stay, I’d love to see complementary monuments or statues to important Mi’kmaq figures like Membertou or Jean-Baptiste Cope (Chief Kopit).

3. Tax changes – turn and face the strange

If you’ve been listening to some of the warnings over the past few weeks from business groups, the Conservatives and others, doctors are going to leave rural Nova Scotia in droves, small businesses will stop hiring (or start laying off), farmers will stop farming, and dentists will stop filling holes in your head.

That’s all because of tax changes to incorporated business proposed by Wild Bill Morneau, Canada’s finance minister, and our pretty-boy prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

I’m no tax expert, and it’s been difficult to find something that explains the changes as dispassionately as possible. But Justin Ling and Vanmala Subramaniam have written a piece for Vice Canada that does it very well.

Morneau says it will close longstanding tax loopholes and create more equity in our tax system. He wants to do away with “income sprinkling”, essentially spreading your business’s income to family members with little or no income to save on taxes. The changes would also change how corporations earn “passive income”, leaving money inside your corporation and using it as a low-tax savings account. Also targeted: converting income or dividends to capital gains to avoid paying a higher tax rate.

The Vice piece gives some clear examples of how the changes may affect businesses, and gives a good explanation of why the Liberals believe they’re necessary. The writers also point out that Canada has the lowest small-business tax rates in the G-7, an average of 14.4 per cent.

The government, and a phalanx of economists, have contended that the changes are merely about ‘tax fairness’ and that the changes only target specific practices from the top 10 per cent of earners in the country.

Some opponents weirdly pit employers against employees, saying the worker bees enjoy a “guaranteed salary” and benefits (huh?), compared to entrepreneurs who invest their own money and usually get no return for years, which is often true.

It’s no nirvana for employees in this province. Statistics Canada data show that jobs in the sales and service industry make up the majority of wages in this province, at an average hourly rate of $14.80. And most of those jobs don’t come with a company pension plan or health benefits.

In this opinion piece in The Chronicle Herald, Sheri Somerville, CEO of the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce, tones down the hype a bit, and calls on the government to extend the consultation period.

(U)nlike an ‘employee’ who may have access to a company-sponsored health plan, retirement plan, sick leave, maternity leave, or other benefits, a small business owner must pay for these benefits. They often will put personal assets at risk to fund their business, and family members often help operate the business.

Still, as the Vice piece points out, there is reason for small business owners to be concerned. And I agree, especially when the Liberals could have just raised the corporate tax rate on everybody, or addressed those luxe offshore family trusts.

Here’s some Bowie to calm you down.

YouTube video

4. Premier A-OK with IWK board

Stephen McNeil is on board with the board of the IWK Health Centre, despite a financial scandal at the hospital that forced its CEO to resign earlier this summer, and its CFO to take a paid leave, as CBC reports.

Former CEO Tracy Kitch claimed thousands of dollars in personal expenses, as the CBC uncovered in a series of excellent investigative pieces.

On Thursday, the premier and Health Minister Randy Delorey broke their weeks-long silence on the matter.

“I certainly know members of the board who have been working very hard and diligently to make sure that this institution, which has been the hallmark for Atlantic Canada in providing children’s health and women’s health, continues to be that way,” McNeil told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

5. Life’s not a beach for some

Here’s one from the ICYMI files. Brittany Wentzell of Lighthouse Now wrote a great story last week on the popularity of Carters Beach, past Liverpool, and the effect that’s had on local residents and the beach itself.

Carters Beach has been on many Top 10 lists this year. That’s made life for area residents less than idyllic. All sorts of things have been found on and around the beach, including used diapers, and even used toilet paper. Ick.

Last year over 30 kilograms of trash was collected during an annual clean up of the beach that locals organized. It was also noted that 170 instances of used toilet paper were found, which indicated people were likely relieving themselves on nearby dunes and behind private properties.

Beach Meadows Beach (photo by Rick Conrad)


1. The Road to Machu Picchu

I want to give a shoutout to Liverpool resident Carla Powell, who has made the shortlist in CBC’s 2017 Non-fiction Prize.

Her story, The Road to Machu Picchu starts at 385 lbs, is a moving, powerful account of loss and coming through grief. You can read it here.

2. Seaside Centre

And if you’re looking to get out of the city this weekend and visit a beach that isn’t Carters, take a drive down to my neck of the woods and go to the Seaside Centre Craft Show and Sale in Beach Meadows. It’s an excellent way to start your Christmas shopping and you’ll be supporting local artisans. Plus, the Seaside Centre (at 1066 Eastern Shore Rd.) is right on Eagle Head Beach and it’s within a couple of minutes’ drive of one of the other best beaches in Nova Scotia, Beach Meadows Beach (yes, that’s what it’s called).


No public meetings.

On campus


Thesis Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Friday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Christopher Perro will defend his thesis, “Satellite Retrievals of Total Column Water Vapour and Surface Emissivity During Arctic Winter.”

Small-molecule Organoboron Catalysts for Enantioselective Synthesis (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Amir H. Hoveyda of Boston College will speak.

An Introduction to Alexander Technique (Friday, 2:30pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Malcolm Balk will speak.

“Gold Versus Life:” Enslaved Jobbing Gangs, Capitalism, and Amelioration in the British Caribbean(Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Nicholas Radburn of Lancaster University and Justin Roberts of Dalhousie will speak.

Cello Masterclass (Friday, 4:30pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Stéphane Tétreault will perform.

Catalytic Chemistry (Friday, 7:30pm, McCain Scotiabank Auditorium) — Amir H. Hoveyda of Boston College will speak on “Increasing Challenges in Catalytic Chemistry: Implications Regarding the Future.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:55am Friday. Map: marinetraffic.com

6:30am: Crown Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,674 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from St. John’s
7am: Angeles, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
7:30am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John
7:31am: Vision of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,443 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint John
7:40am: Algoma Dartmouth, oil tanker, moves from Pier 9 to Pier 31 to fuel the Vision of the Seas
8am: YM Modesty, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
8:30am: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
10:30am: Aphrodite Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
11am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
11am: Budapest Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
11am: Guangzhou Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
3pm: Angeles, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
4pm: Aphrodite Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4pm: Silver Whisper, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Portland
4:30pm: Crown Princess, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
6pm: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, arrives at Pier 36 from St. Croix, Virgin Islands
6pm: Vision of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for Sydney
6:30pm: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Boston
11pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport

Join the Conversation


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  1. Re: the proposed small business tax changes, I attended the Town Hall meeting held Tuesday night in Lunenburg, which was packed with people of varying levels of education and different types of businesses, not just wealthy lawyers and accountants. I have read the Vice article and feel it is misleading. It is important to note that (as confirmed by an accountant in attendance) the proposed changes affect all small business owners who have chosen to incorporate, not just “the wealthy”. One gentleman who spoke at the meeting owns a small business and can’t afford badly-needed dental work. Others whose small businesses are only possible because they have a spouse who stays home to look after their small children will be affected by their tax bills increasing. These are squarely middle-class folks, not ‘wealthy people sitting in their gated communities eating cake’ as one Liberal backbencher has stated. The government is either being completely disingenuous about its true intent or is basically looking to perform surgery with a chainsaw instead of a scalpel in its quest for “fairness”, which quest apparently does not include eliminating the stock option tax credit, used by CEOs like Hunter Harrison to pay less tax on his 5.2 million dollars in stock options he receives in addition to his 2.8 million in salary. If the government is concerned about things being “fair” then I think that would be a much better place to start.

    1. Stock options have a notional value and if the company does not grow and/or increase profits the options have no value. Stock options are a performance incentive. $2.8 million a year for a CEO of a railroad is really low.

    2. The hypocrisy of the doctors/small business lobby is breathtaking. The proposed small tax changes associated with incorporation have been equated with “the sky is falling”. We are told the changes will threaten their members’ retirement income, sick leaves and maternity leaves, and now dental care. And yet no other organizations have complained (whined) more about the pensions and benefits negotiated and earned by public sector workers, and they and their members have dedicated themselves to denying their own employees a pension, health care benefits, etc. And they can be counted upon to resist every increase in the minimum wage.

      It’s not clear how many doctors in Nova Scotia are incorporated, but 80% of small businesses are not incorporated and so not affected by the tax changes.

  2. Regarding beaches: The lack of facilities at Nova Scotia beaches is an embarrassment, and completely at odds with our apparent interest in encouraging tourism. Well equipped beaches in New Brunswick or BC have large, clean, modern washrooms and change rooms, restaurants, snack bars, playgrounds, wheelchair access onto the sand, and activities such as yoga, volleyball, and live music. Some beaches in Vancouver include heated outdoor pools. A well equipped beach in Nova Scotia is one with flush toilets and outdoor showers.

    We may have beautiful beaches, but unless we make visiting them an enjoyable experience, people won’t stay, and won’t come back.

  3. Rick, I happened upon Beach Meadows Beach on Wednesday returning from a work trip to Yarmouth and pulling in to Brooklyn for a rest stop. It was hard to leave and get back on the road but conference calls (hands-free) awaited — no rest for the weary. I would have suggested you kept your local secret–I was looking forward to returning next summer and enjoying the parking and cleanliness!

    1. I know! It’s a balancing act, for sure. And it’s a wonderful, undiscovered spot. But I think we’ll be OK. As you saw, it has lots of parking that isn’t in front of someone else’s driveway. 🙂

  4. I’m just going with my gut feeling here–zero data to back this up–but I feel like Nova Scotians are getting outside and exploring their province more often in recent years. Maybe it’s the rise of Instagram and other platforms that show how beautiful things are here, maybe it’s a few bad winters driving people to make the most of summer, maybe it’s constrained travel budgets, I dunno. But what it is doing is putting pressure on our natural areas–the Carters Beaches and Duncans Coves. In many ways this is a great thing because we should want people to get out, get exercise, and appreciate this beautiful province. On the other hand, it really increases the need for municipalities and the Province to up their game in terms of recreation and wilderness management. It drives home the need for plans and heavy investment into the facilities that allow people to experience these areas without damaging the landscape and pissing off neighbours. I think there’s urgency in acquiring (and–more importantly–managing) places like the Purcells Cove Backlands. If we get caught flat-footed we risk both destroying these places and stunting the growth of outdoor exploration in Nova Scotia’s population.

  5. How in the world is an ignorant man like our hallowed premier going to speak openly, inclusively and collectively about Nova Scotia’s increasing contentious “history”?

    As a politician, not a leader. Big surprise.

  6. Re: Murphy’s boats

    Just for the record, the Silva is not a sailing ship. The sails and masts it carries are cosmetic.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, Colin. For Nova Scotia MLAs, that particular feature of the pay package was abolished about 10 years ago.