Today’s Morning File is written by Katie Toth. Tim will return tomorrow.

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Tim announced this morning that Stephen Kimber is joining the Examiner.

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1. Public-private partnership was expensive; also, sky is blue

Preston Mulligan, reporting for the CBC, writes that the province “will spend $85.9 million to buy 12 of the 13 schools it currently leases from Scotia Learning Centres, a price tag the Department of Education says is cheaper than continuing with the lease agreements.”

Wait…so you’re saying…public-private partnerships are more expensive, and that we don’t necessarily benefit from selling off public assets in the long term?

When asked for a statement in response, the Nova Scotia Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives merely sent a cassette tape with nothing on it but mirthless, ironic laughter.

2. Investigation accuses Nova Scotia Hospital of abusing disabled man

Photo: Flickr / rwkphotos
Photo: Flickr / rwkphotos

In a “summary of facts” about a September 4th incident at Nova Scotia Hospital, a health department investigator says hospital staff abused a 31-year-old man.

Matthew Meisner has been in lockdown for 10 years at the hospital’s Emerald Hall, where he’s watched by two full-time staff. He is autistic and has mood disorders. From Elizabeth Chiu, reporting for the CBC:

The report said the head of the night shift heard banging coming from Meisner’s room at about 4:40 a.m. His bathroom had been locked to prevent him from banging the toilet seat and waking up other patients. Meisner was found naked, covered in feces, and banging his head and hands on Plexiglas, the report said. His head was bleeding.

Meisner often bangs his head on the walls and has to wear a helmet to protect his skull. Night shift workers allegedly restrained Meisner for two hours — twice as long as they are legally allowed without a doctor’s approval — and put his head in a pillowcase. A day shift worker filed a “serious incident report” when they saw what had happened.

Meisner’s mother Tracey, who has been fighting for better treatment for her son, says she’s not surprised and that the report describes a “culture of abuse.”

3. Edible plants

Gordon Isnor says he was inspired by his five-year-old son, Emmett, to design the app, because they spend a lot of time in nature. Photo supplied by the Halifax Examiner's transportation columnist, Erica Butler.
Gordon Isnor says he was inspired by his five-year-old son, Emmett, to design the app, because they spend a lot of time in nature. Photo supplied by the Halifax Examiner’s transportation columnist, Erica Butler.

Nova Scotians interested in foraging food from nature will now have a guide, thanks to a new smartphone app, reports Nina Corfu for the CBC:

The app, called Useful Nova Scotia Plants, was developed by software engineer Gordon Isnor and Marian Munro, botany curator at the Nova Scotia Museum.

The free app features an alphabetical listing of plants using their English names, full screen photos, and details such as which part of the plant is edible, possible recipes, and cautions.

Users can search by name or browse the directory using the photos. 

4. Honouring the horrors of war by threatening to kill people

“Those organizing a Christmas craft show that’s forced the Sydney Remembrance Day ceremony to a different venue say they’ve been receiving threats and now fear for their safety,” reports CTV:

Home Crafters president Susan MacDonald says members have been dealing with verbal threats and hate mail over the last 48 hours.

“We’re scared,” MacDonald said. “If we are getting this kind of negativity and hate mail now, what’s it going to escalate to?”

For 29 years the crafters have been filling Centre 200 on the second weekend of November. This year the show falls on Remembrance Day. It’s the first time the dates have coincided since veterans began using the building for their ceremony.


The fair is at the centre of a controversy because Remembrance Day ceremonies have been moved to a smaller venue, meaning fewer people able to pay their respects. MacDonald is blaming miscommunication for the mix-up.


1.”The Alabama of accessibility rights in the twenty-first century”

That’s Nova Scotia, according to Parker Donham’s latest Contrarian blog post, which you should read in full.

He says after a two-year consultation period, the McNeil government has proposed a new Accessibility act that would involve a lot more consultation and not a lot more action. As Donham puts it:

The last thing Nova Scotia needs is more consultation, suggestions, opinions, advice, or setting of priorities and objectives about accessibility. These are human rights. We need clear, enforceable standards coupled with an effective mechanism for their enforcement. Indeed, they are long overdue.

In place of standards and enforcement, the McNeil government has given us a bill requiring an economic impact study of every proposed accessibility standard. No other basic human right is subject to such equivocation. We don’t ponder the economic impact of right to vote, to express a political opinion, or to worship as we choose. We enforce rights—unless the rights holder has a disability.

2. How many people have you slept with?

I’m not being rude; that’s actually the title of this op-ed in The Coast, where Jen Nagle argues it’s time to end slut-shaming.

3. Cranky letter of the day

Yesterday, students’ groups across the country protested to reduce tuition fees and drop student debt, largely organized by the Canadian Federation of Students. Students in Halifax were a big contingent, bringing out about 600 to protest rising costs for student education.

Erin Brown, for the Dal Gazette, posted a pretty cutting account of their march from the Killam Library to Province House:

The students’ chant at the time was something along the lines of, “Drop our fees, we’re sick of mac n’ cheese,” as the group passed a young man shivering in a fleece sweater, empty Tim’s cup in hand, asking for spare change for food.

The contrast of students complaining about eating KD, and [a] young man begging for something to eat, turned my stomach.

I thought I would catch a moment of a student offering change, maybe even just a hug, but I saw nothing. I watched nearly 500 students who were marching for social equality turn a blind eye to a young person right in front of them, who is one of the most vulnerable victims of our society’s economic inequality.

It made it difficult to cover the rest of the march because the cheers for equality all seemed very hollow.

…It’s true: “education is not just for the rich and white,” but students are not the only members in Halifax who are “tired, hungry and poor.” With all of the talk of camaraderie at today’s march, students should recognize that there are many others facing the same issues they are, but with far fewer resources.

As we say on The Twitter, “whoa if true.” But also, be nice to people guys! (In the interest of disclosure, I was a volunteer women’s liaison with the Nova Scotia chapter of the CFS in like, 2011 or something. Wayyyyy back)


Russell Gragg. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Russell Gragg. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Examineradio producer and Cubs fan extraordinaire Russell Gragg may be out of commission this morning.



Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (4:30pm, Office and Maintenance Building, Point Pleasant Park) — here’s the agenda.


Port Wallace Public Meeting Notice – Open House (open house at 6:30pm; “formal presentations” at 7:30pm,  Auditorium of École le Carrefour, 201 Avenue du Portage, Dartmouth) — The blurb:

Alternative development proposals will be presented for a 53-acre land parcel and for a 500 acre parcel, both located on the east side of Lake Charles, between Waverley Rd. and Hwy. 107. The parcels are illustrated on the attached map. Representatives of the developers will be available to respond to questions regarding the development proposals and municipal staff will be available to respond to questions regarding the approval process and to design guidelines being prepared.

Lots more info and detail here.

The map above shows the area to be developed. See the full-size map here.

Like “reform,” “developed” is such a loaded term, implying forward progress. Maybe we need a new word.


No public meetings.

On campus


Mapping Urban Areas (5:35pm, Room 1011, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — Matthew Novak, from Saint Mary’s University, will speak on “Comparing Field Data Collection with Commercial Datasets in Mapping Urban Areas.” His abstract:

A wealth of data is needed to properly understand and manage the complexity of urban areas. Using Halifax as a case study, this talk examines the benefits and issues of securing data on urban retailing from commercial providers or collecting the data through field work using smartphone technology. Attention is paid to smaller, independent stores since many commercial datasets may overlook these establishments. The talk concludes with a discussion of incorporating the data into a Geographic Information System (GIS) for use in managing and analysing the spatial component of the information.

Palliative Care (6:30pm, Potter Auditorium, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — David Dupere will speak on “Everything You Need to Know about Palliative Care in 2016.”

Molecular Electronics for Chemical Sensors (8pm, Chemistry Room 125) — Timothy M. Swager, from MIT, will speak. Reception afterwards in Room 225.

Saint Mary’s

Pseudo Science and Academic Freedom (7pm, in the theatre named after a bank in the building named after a grocery store) —  a panel discussion on whether academic freedom should protect the teaching and dissemination of views mainstream science judges harmful.

In the harbour

2:30am: ZIM Barcelona, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
3:30am: NYK Delphinus, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Southhampton, England
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
3pm: Bristol Bay, US Coast Guard vessel, arrives at Tall Ship Quay
4:30pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41

5:30am: MSC Cristiana, car carrier, arrives at Fairview Cove from new York
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre


Don’t forget that the Halifax Regional Police were sent on a high-profile chase through Dartmouth…for a pig named Kevin Bacon:


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  1. My morning comment appeared and then disappeared without explanation. So here goes again :
    Would the HRM Washmill Underpass fiasco have been averted if it had been a P3 project ?
    ” The $16-million Washmill Lake underpass, which provides a third entry and exit to the BLIP, opened in December, 2011. The project’s millions over budget. Gloria McCluskey has labeled it “the biggest boondoggle in HRM’s history.”

    Original estimates put the construction at $5.8 million. “A figure apparently pulled from someone’s ass,” news editor Tim Bousquet wrote in 2011. A new estimate of $10 million was pulled-out-of-ass once federal funding was floated. It’s been assumed the project was only $6 million over budget, but Munroe’s report (which goes back to 2008) says the overage works out to almost twice that, at $11,676,884 ” source :

    1. Thank you, Colin May. Am surprised and pleased the Washmill Underpass fiasco – perfect, appropriate descriptor – is still on your radar. It continues to stick in my craw. I don’t think the public fully understands yet, the scope of mismanagement, incompetence, and financial loss it represents, nor that it could happen again. Notwithstanding the AG Report, it seemed to quickly fade from analysis and interest, which served certain interests well.

  2. Very happy to see Stephen Kimber is joining the Examiner. We don’t always agree with his views but have always appreciated his opinion pieces and often learned from them.

  3. Suffering from severe mental health problems, addictions, abuses, and chronic homelessness has not plagued me, and I am sincerely grateful. I recognise this as a severe sadness and real struggle that society must care for.

    My back goes up still when I look back on my 5-month temporary homelessness at the end of my master’s degree, and three-job 30hr work weeks during my full courseload + volunteering undergraduate years with no fall-back income. I have friends who have claimed bankruptcy.

    Maybe the Federal government could eliminate its borderline-criminal 5.5% Student Loan interest rate and universities could consider corporate responsibility and build affordable student residences on and off campus (with no costly meal plan attached!)

    1. But then how would Aramark make it’s money? Think of the corporations, hippie! /s

      Higher education is a massive bubble and the reality is that most graduates going forward will not find employment in their fields, because those fields are saturated or simply don’t exist. For the most part, we’re lying to our kids when we tell them that a degree is a reasonable economic option. Our universities and government are complicit in this.

      Acadia has to be the worst with their tacit marking of themselves as a party school. Plenty of people I went to high school with, who honestly were not inclined or cut out for higher education are in massive amounts of debt, and for the most part graduated with things like business or psychology degrees.

      1. I wouldn’t say ‘higher’ education is worthless. University education is another story. A little refreshment:!

        As far as Stephen Kimber, he was already ‘on board’ because his free articles at Metro were being aggregated here. I’d rather see money spent on a couple of existing freelancers who don’t have a platform but were doing good work.

        1. I didn’t say it’s worthless, I said it’s uneconomical in most cases. Spending four years putting yourself into debt starting at age 18 is not a great decision for most people.

  4. The Gazette piece is a wonderful example of liberal performative wokeness.. I’m honestly curious if Erin Brown dropped some changed into his cup, or offered a hug. And were the students really chanting “drop our fees, we’re sick of mac n cheese”?

  5. The student tuition demonstration passed by my workplace at lunch and I paused to watch it. It is a cause I sympathize with. What I didn’t sympathize with was people shouting “Whose streets? Our streets!” as though they were running the risk of being gunned down, nor did I understand the singing of “give peace a chance” as this wasn’t an anti-war march.

    It came across to me as play-protesting — and I am very much in favour and encouraging of public demonstration and assembly. If that’s what a sympathetic mind took away in the two minutes it took to pass, then the undecided must have been baffled.

    1. The chant “whose streets, our streets” isn’t just shouted when people at risk of being shot; it’s also pretty useful in protest situations with a lot of people who are new to marches, because it helps make sure everyone knows that they can take the road.

      I wasn’t there for the peace song. Was it nice?

      1. Quite sarcastic re: the peace song, Katie Toth. Important topic to be flippant about though. As a support voter, if such an opportunity evolves, education for less is my dream. Organized rallies for the tuition cause should leave “‘whose streets, our streets” alone. Get some highway caution signs

    2. “Whose streets – our streets” and “Give Peace a Chance” have zero revelance to student tuition fees rebuttal. Next demonstration, hopefully, has SOUL plus at least four safety flags people ahead of the messengers.

  6. Leave some plants for the animals please. We have farmers markets for good organic produce for humans. . The animals have only the woods and meadows. I think we should stick to farmer’s markets and keep out of the wildlife’s pantry. .

    1. Oh, please. Humans have been foraging for wild foods since forever, without deleterious effects. And in return, the wildlife also forage from human gardens, orchards, cornfields, vegetable fields, etc.

  7. That Erin Brown “cranky letter of the day” is total bollocks. She uses the students’ “lack of empathy” to undermine the case they were making for lower tuition. The only thing she proves (and sorry Katie, there is no “whoa if true” here whatsoever) is that students are like everyone else in society. How many non-students walked by that same man yesterday? Are they all heartless, self-involved, people with no empathy for those lower on the economic ladder than themselves?
    Maybe Erin doesn’t realise it, but high tuition fees are just one small part of a massive neo liberal economic order that ensures that it is inevitable that there will be people who have to sit on street corners begging. And instead of criticising those marching, she should march with them.
    Or alternatively she could just go around showing her awesome empathy and give every person begging for money in the city her own money. That will surely solve the problem of poverty in Halifax.

    1. “Whoa if true” has become a bit of a journalistic cliché that is now often used to connote playful sarcasm. I was aiming to throw a gentle dig at Ms Brown’s hyperbolic style, without veering into the straight-up rude. I apologize if the joke didn’t land. I’ll try to be funnier next time 😉

      That said, while I did find the style a bit collegiate (and, hey, it’s a college paper. Murder me before taking all my old op-eds out again), I think the point Ms Brown wants to make — that it’s fine and dandy to oppose structural problems, but if we lose our ability to be kind to people on an individual level, we lose our humanity — has some worth. Empathy is a mark of organic leaders who can build movements. If one aims to cultivate enough critical mass to challenge the neoliberal order, one will probably need the respect of folks like Ms Brown.

      1. Yeah, sorry. I misread that then. I have no bone to pick with you at all – great “morning file”. However, Ms. Brown’s article really got my goat.