Today’s Morning File is guest-written by Katie Toth. Not a whole ton of news out there today, Halifax — just gotta be honest. But let’s do our best! 

November Subscription Drive

Megan Leslie
Megan Leslie

Megan Leslie is the former Member of Parliament for Halifax. She writes:

I am a voracious consumer of the Halifax Examiner.

I read the Morning File every day to get a synopsis and analysis of the news — and a touch of humour — not found anywhere else. On Sundays I make suppers while listening to the in-depth discussions with local newsmakers on the Examineradio podcast. I spend the weekend reading El Jones’ racial analysis of events in our community and think differently because of it. And in the evenings I take the time to read the in-depth pieces offered by Tim, Erica Butler and others.

I find that I am a more discerning consumer of media and am more aware of things happening in my community because of the insights and information I get from The Examiner.

Halifax Examiner is an essential contribution to Halifax’s media landscape and this type of Halifax-specific, investigative journalism needs to be supported by citizens. I’m proud to support it with my subscription, and think you should too.

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1. New Brunswick snake-lover not guilty for criminal negligence

Photo Credit: San Diego Shooter Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: San Diego Shooter Flickr via Compfight cc

Jean Claude Savoie, who failed to contain his African python while two children slept at his apartment, is not guilty of criminal negligence from the tragic incident three years ago. The python had escaped its enclosure, travelled through a ventilation duct and killed the kids while they were sleeping. From CTV Atlantic and the Canadian Press:

The boys had spent the day of the sleepover petting animals and playing at a farm owned by Savoie’s father. Bob Johnson, the now-retired former curator of reptiles and amphibians at the Toronto Zoo, testified at Savoie’s trial that snakes become more aggressive when they detect possible sources of food — and an attack would have been unlikely had there been no animal smells on the boys.


Johnson said once a snake bites, it is very difficult to unlock that bite, and the large snake could have coiled around both boys at once.

He responded to the earlier testimony of RCMP officers about the python’s aggressive behaviour after it was captured — hissing and lunging at the glass of the enclosure.

“A snake that responds like that is a very aggressive snake,” he said. “It was an extreme response to human presence. This animal was dangerous.”

2. Coastal erosion is eating away at Halifax

Bonaventure Anchor. Photo:
Bonaventure Anchor. Photo:

Two of the city’s historic monuments at Point Pleasant Park are falling into decay due to the abuse of the salty seas. Coel Ediger, writing for the Coast, explains that the rocks under the Bonaventure Anchor are shifting, and the Point Pleasant Battery is just not what it used to be. A new update to September’s Point Pleasant Park Comprehensive Long Term Plan says that it’s time to bury or demolish the Battery and move the Anchor somewhere else.

Personally I think it’s shortsighted to see Halifax literally shoving its history under the ground; it’s the one thing that makes this place special. Seriously, burying or demolishing a historic monument were the only options?

3. Dockyard explosions leave city residents shaken

Halifax residents are deeply unimpressed with the construction blasting going on to make a new military jetty near the Macdonald Bridge. At an airing-of-grievances last night they gave CFB Halifax the business.

One resident “said he was concerned about possible foundation damage to his home that appeared after the blasting started,” Steve Silva reported for Global. “The blasting normally happens at around 3 p.m. Residents said they want it to happen at the same time each day.”

A spokesperson for the Department of National Defense told Silva:

Our intention is a matter of weeks, hopefully to the end of the month. Like all construction projects, it’s possible you can incur delays, but it will be very soon in any case.

4. Halifax is tired of Mom telling it what to do

Halifax is a grown-up now, and it should be able to go to the mall whenever it wants without Nova Scotia asking whether it finished its homework or who it’s hanging out with. Gosh, Mom. 

So says a new municipal report, which suggests the city should have “natural person powers” that allows it to buy property for non-municipal use, invest in projects, and spend money on items that aren’t currently included in the city’s charter.

According to Pam Berman at CBC, these powers aren’t unusual for a municipality of Halifax’s size:

Saint John, N.B., has had natural person powers from the start due to its royal charter in 1785. Over the past 30 years it’s been extended to a number of municipalities in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. In Alberta the provincial government has recently granted school boards natural person powers.

5. Oh, also:

Courtesy of the Government of Canada
Courtesy of the Government of Canada

Justin Trudeau will be in Sydney, N.S. this morning, CBC says, as the formerly-shuttered-under-the-Harper-Administration Veterans’ Affairs office opens again today. He’ll then be hitting up the Legion around noon, which is a little early to hit the bar if you ask me — but if Donald Trump is his new overlord come January, then we all might as well let loose while we can, right?


Photo Credit: fabola Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: fabola Flickr via Compfight cc

1. Teachers and parents: don’t divide us, it won’t work

An advocacy group of Nova Scotia families has come together to support Nova Scotia teachers as they bargain for a new contract with the province, according to the latest Views of the City in The Coast:

As a group of concerned parents and grandparents of students in public school, we have become frustrated with the government’s simple and one-tone approach to dealing with the school system’s many complex challenges: Blame teachers. Every day we leave our children in their care. They are highly trained, confront new challenges all of the time and are entrusted with one of the most important tasks in our society. And yet, premier McNeil wants to attack their dignity and autonomy, while spending lavishly on advertising campaigns and dishing out generous pay raises to his own high-ranking bureaucrats.


[T]eachers’ working conditions are our children’s learning conditions. For years now, governments in Nova Scotia, Canada and North America have been disparaging teachers and other valuable public workers to lower taxes to the wealthy and devalue public programs. We think it’s time to say, “Enough is enough.”

Nova Scotian parents’ solidarity with the union is part of a broader move in teacher organizing. In 2012, when Chicago teachers went on strike, the city’s mayor Rahm Emanuel needed a parent backlash against the teachers to cut the strike short. He failed, with significant public support for the union, and the teachers got many of their demands (this year the union still had about triple the public support that Emanuel does, as they bargained a new contract).

Similarly, Chicago’s strike was modelled after the successful illegal 2005 teacher strike in British Columbia. There, teachers had spent years prior building rapport with community groups who would support their cause when they walked off the job.

The ongoing support of these parents will be critical if the teachers want to bargain a significantly better deal.

2. Cranky letter of the day

Ranking MacDonald, for the Inverness Oran:

From all reports, the summer of 1914 in Europe and North America was a pleasant one weather-wise and the world seemed a good and peaceful place to be.

It was business as usual with the upper classes enjoying the world prosperity and the working class slaving for their daily bread. But there was lots of employment.


On June 28th, in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, everything changed.

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in what was the second attempt on their lives that day.

The second successful attempt by a Bosnian nationalist named Princip, who may or may not have had the backing of Serbia, set the world on a slide into madness; a madness that persists to this day.

What if?

If the Archduke was not shot, what would have happened in the early part of the last century?


The summer would not end as it had begun.

Well, that is certainly something.


via SPCA Halifax website
via SPCA Halifax website

Meet Puddles. He’s a six-year-old beagle up for adoption from the King’s SPCA in Nova Scotia. His puppy profile says he is “a cuddler and a lover looking for a home that can give him all the love he craves!”

According to the SPCA website,

He is known for asking for belly rubs as well as giving “hugs”. He has done very well with his dog meets here at the shelter but would do best in a home with a dog that had a similar personality to his own. Being a Beagle, Puddles has a history of following his nose and being a “runner”. He would love to find a home with a fenced in yard or a family willing to take him on fun walks!

Puddles is only one of the many adorable dogs that want YOU to take them home.



Dalhousie architecture prof Steve Parcell created this before-and-after animation of the view from the Central Library.
Dalhousie architecture prof Steve Parcell created this before-and-after animation of the view from the Central Library.

Design Review Committee (4pm, City Hall) — the committee will be reviewing the Doyle Block development proposal. As I [Tim] wrote in March:

But it’s not just the view from the library that is problematic. The Doyle block was previously occupied by four architecturally differentiated buildings, two of them quite distinctive. In contrast, the proposed building is a block-straddling monolith that will form a massive street wall, deadening what had been a lively and visually pleasing streetscape. It has a 1970s-era failed institutional feel to it, the Supertramp of Spring Garden Road: banally loud and utterly uninteresting.

The Design Review Committee was created as part of the HRM By Design planning initiative, which also led us to The Borg destroying the heart of downtown. Supposedly, the DRC is supposed to save us from dog-awful Supertramp-y buildings. I fear it will instead just rubberstamp them.

Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council (6pm, HEMDCC meeting space, Alderney Landing) — a public hearing on Michael Napier Architecture’s application to build a six-storey, 53-unit apartment building at 181 Pleasant Street in Dartmouth. This is the triangular-shaped parcel just where Bubbles Car Wash used to sit. More info here.


Legislature sits (11am-Midnight, Province House)

On campus


Total Recall (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Evangelos Milios will speak on “Semantic Relatedness in Interactive Information Retrieval for Total Recall.” His  abstract:

Web information retrieval typically aims for providing a few high quality relevant documents that satisfy the user’s information need. In information retrieval (IR) terms, the focus is on high precision. There are other IR applications over special text corpora, where the focus is on retrieving all documents that are relevant to the user’s information need, i.e. aiming to achieve 100% (total) recall, while keeping precision acceptable. Examples of total recall IR applications include legal search (looking for all relevant court decisions to a given legal case), systematic medical reviews (looking for all relevant research literature to a given disease, in order to prepare a systematic review for physicians), factory incident reports (finding all relevant incidents to a scenario being investigated), or desktop search (finding all relevant documents on one’s desktop). Contrary to web information retrieval, which is generally considered able to fulfill its mission, thanks to ranking algorithms that exploit the link structure of the Web, IR on special text corpora is notoriously hard. In this talk, I will review semantic relatedness measures for text and I will speculate on how they can be applied to address total recall in interactive information retrieval from special text corpora.

In the harbour

2am: Fantasia, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
6am: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
11:30am: ZIM San Francisco, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
Noon: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
3pm: Allise P, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre

5am:Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
6pm: Rhea Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany


Morning File takes Remembrance Day off, but Examineradio will be published later in the day. Morning File returns Saturday with El Jones.

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  1. Re: Doyle block – you are entirely right about the loss of what was across from the Library.

    I hope you are going to discuss the Centre Plan and the blank face it places on many other areas of Halifax, for example Robie Street on the west side, by increasing height allowances, all the architecture of the past is slated for the dump.

  2. I am glad that there will be consultation on the City’s request for more responsibilities. I would want independent SWOT analysis before assessing the idea of giving HRM more powers without Provincial scrutiny is a good thing or not.

    While I agree that it can take a ridiculously long time for the Province to deal with requests to change the Charter, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the scrutiny of the Province isn’t a good thing. Perhaps another approach is for the Province to set deadlines for response to requests to change the Charter.

    My reservations about granting more powers without Provincial oversight is based on recent experience. Council was unable to keep CAO Richard Butts in check, even when it appeared that a majority opposed him and were voicing their frustrations with him in public. That let him increase senior administration compensation without even taking it to Council, and to ignore the call to action when our sidewalks and roads were covered in ice. If Council is unable to keep the Administration in check, then perhaps it is best if the Province is in control of the limits of municipal authority. It can then assess and approve or reject increases in responsibility incrementally, rather than grant the municipality authority that its solicitor calls “a catch-all.”

    I am not convinced that the City can always live up to the responsibilities it already has, even with good intentions. Remember when people were complaining about slips and falls on icy sidewalks and threatening to sue? This was the response from the City, as reported by CBC – “As frustrating as it may be to hear, clearing the sidewalks is not the city’s job, Traves said. The contractors hired to clear the sidewalks are the ones legally liable, not the city.” A tenet of management theory is that you can delegate authority but you cannot delegate responsibility. But here was HRM’s solicitor saying that it delegated the legal responsibility for safe sidewalks along with the contract to clear them.

    I would like to understand more about the parameters of what the City could do with newfound responsibilities, whether they could be expected to live up to them, and what would be the remedies if they did not. Only then would I be able to assess whether or not it is a good idea to provide HRM with a responsibility “catch-all” without oversight from the Province.

  3. Come on, people, really? Do we have to keep acting like jerks on here? Maybe I’m just fed up with such negative bully-type behaviour of my home country–and its newly-elected mentally ill leader, who shows zero respect for anyone– that I’ve just had enough. If you have a critique to make about someone, can you at least show a smidgeon of respect and possibly something to back up your statement?

    And the comments about teachers—it’s this exact same attitude that keeps us going around in circles, day after day, year after year and decade after decade. Whenever anyone wants to argue for better working conditions or better wages, someone will inevitably shout out, “But I don’t get this, or my job is worse, or other jobs are worse”—or some similar combination of complaints.

    There are lots of worse jobs with shittier pay out there. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots! And this same “my job is worse” comparison has done absolutely nothing to help the majority of people in the community. Nothing. It has done everything to pit workers against workers, who are so busy fighting each other to win the inevitable race to the bottom, that they’re too exhausted to notice who’s been cheering them on. It’s worked beautifully in the States (and you see what that has lead to), and it’s working here. How about we all start working together to support and truly value labour conditions—for everyone!

    1. Thanks for saying that, I completely agree. As Tim has commented numerous times, this is the “race to the bottom” syndrome. Rather than resenting a salary or perk, people should be saying “I want that too!” Not “take that away from them!”

    2. I’ve made my comments clear about Megan Leslie very clear previously. I generally don’t say the same thing over and over, apparently it bothers people. But one more time.

      Megan Leslie was the Federal Critic of Environment during the period of Nova Scotia’s NDP government. During this period, in this province, under the approval of the Dexter government, Northern Pulp poisoned people. It was one of the worst and most deliberate environmental crimes in the history of this province. And Megan Leslie said nothing. Did nothing. If I’m supposed to show respect for that, excuse me while I respectfully decline. Cancel my password if you like, but don’t tell me I need to ignore what I’ve seen and be silent about the people who did nothing.

      1. Federal and Provincial parties are different parties. If an MP interfered with a provincial political issue, they would be hanged by their party. I think she is did the right thing and leave provincial politics in the province. It is unfair to blame her for the actions of Dexter, or blame Dexter for hers. Smarten up, brother.

        1. She was the federal environment critic and did/said NOTHING. Brothers we are not.

          Thanks for the incredibly helpful advice. Curiously, have you ever breathed poison, seen Boat Harbour?

      2. I doubt anyone is reading these anymore, and since I had commented on my break, I was unable to reply before having to get back to work.

        Everyone is perfectly free to comment. Don’t worry about that. Tim’s made it very clear that he believes in the freedom to express one’s views, so unless someone is advocating hatred or violence, there’s no reason not to approve someone’s comment. He does not wish to control freedom of thought or expression. And everyone has a right to be angry. Anger can be great. It’s what keeps us in check. But anger can either be constructive or destructive; it can help or it can hurt; it can guide us to solutions, or it can cause more anger, and it was my plea that we all keep this in mind. You don’t have to, of course, but I think it would make for a more open and constructive discussion.

      1. To clarify, my original comment was in response to tempahull. Other responses got in before me so that may not have been clear.

    3. I disagree to an extend as I see context for salaries of different professions being important overall to evaluating other ones. If Doctors made 50k a year and we needed more doctors, we could easily see why no one is being a doctor, low wage for effort, and we could adjust.

      That being said, I feel there is a two-way negativity going on here and many people are lashing back. What is the first reply you get when you talk to a teacher about the current issues? “You don’t teach, therefore you don’t know.” If you are going to reject my opinion before I give it, no matter how researched it is simply because it doesn’t completely align with yours, why even have a discussion? And if that is the attitude you take to the bargaining table, why would any Government give in to demands when they are nebulous at best, and seemingly the product of previous Governments caving into previous demands.

      We need an Act 1 re-write of what is means to be a teacher in NS if we want to change our system to be better for students and teachers. I have yet to see any NSTU buy in on that concept, except for when they agreed to meet on the matter last week.

      They recently cancelled that meeting.

      1. I guess my first question for you would be….. How do you form an informed opinion without knowing what they actually do? I constantly see people offering the opinion that it’s a 9-3 job, and offering all kinds of other assertions that could only be concluded if you’ve never actually attempted to see the other side of the issue. IMHO, they should just be paid hourly
        ( like nurses ) and be entitled to things such as overtime pay, mandated lunch breaks, and other things covered under labour codes…….. That’s about as fair as it gets IMHO, hours paid for hours worked…… But would the province go for that?
        Are you familiar with the term “work to rule”? As a form of job action, it means that you only work to the terms mandated by your contract……. But why would someone work hours outside of what they’re contractually obligated to for free? I think it’s an interesting concept.

        There is no bargaining table, and there never was. When one side comes in with a take it or leave it offer, and the threat of legislating that low ball offer if it’s refused, how can we call that negotiating?

        On this issue of meetings for improving the system, it’s my understanding that the government is not willing to put anything else into the contract…… That’s why the meeting was cancelled by the NSTU. If it’s not going to be in a contract, then what is the point? Both sides can offer endless opinions on how to improve education, but with no contract to back it up its just talk…… So why is the government unwilling to include working conditions in the contract? IMHO because they’d actually need to act on it.
        These “meetings” are just for optics……. No different than the paid advertisements designed to promote the governments bargaining position.

  4. Re Point Pleasant Park, when I was kid you could wander inside most of those old military buildings. Last time I was there they were blocked up. I think they should go back to that, not just the Martello Tower. Even clean them up and use them for something, although maybe more people would prefer the open ruins to a cafe.

    And if there is any part ready to fall into the sea, don’t bury it. Let it fall into the sea as the rocks erode.

  5. Thanks for ruining today`s issue with Megan Leslie, the queen of self-promotion.

    The blasting is bizarre. It`s rattling buildings past the forum. And apparently, they aren`t anywhere near their approved level of detonation.

      1. You tell him!
        I quite enjoyed your promotion of the Halifax Examiner. And while I might consume it differently, it has been more than worth the subscription.

    1. I hardly think it is fair to criticise Megan Leslie as a Queen of self-promotion. I never seen her “self-promote” and most interviews I seen her since the election, I am sure they asked her to comment, not the other way around.

    2. What, exactly, do you think a politicians job is? Promoting policy, advancing new policy, criticizing the current government, assuming you are not in power, of course. What has Megan ever done outside of this?

  6. Are you a teacher ? Are you tired of the way government treats you ?
    Switch to nursing.
    As an RN you will work shifts, work weekends, maybe have two 2 weeks off in the summer, work March break, work Easter, work Christmas and New Year, be mandated to work when a colleague calls in sick, go to work when the snow is 2 feet deep.

    1. As a former teacher married to an RN, I would like to put out there that she very often commented on how many more hours I worked than her and how she rarely had to take work home (compared to my constantly having to work late into the night).

      Definitely not saying she works less hard or faces fewer struggles, but I think your characterization of nursing being objectively harder is simply false.

      1. Very much depends on where you and she worked. You didn’t have to deal with death and dying, a common event for many nurses. I’d take the teaching job long before I’d be a nurse. Nursing is harder physically and mentally and with less time away from the job. You know when you will have a vacation, a nurse hopes to be off at the time she/he has requested.

        1. I’m curious Colin. Do you have a relative who is a nurse? Do you have a relative who is a teacher? comparing the 2 is like apples and oranges. When you decide to be a nurse and graduate, you know that you’ll be dealing with medical emergencies and death. Yes, a horribly traumatic job that deserves much greater remuneration, at least in my opinion.

          Teachers, well, you just expect to, well, TEACH, nothing more, nothing less. Admin stuff, sure. Full disclosure here, my mom and dad were both teachers, my mom in the public school system and my dad at university. My mom worked several hours every evening, EVERY evening, for most months of the year. As a child, I was “recruited” to add up tests and exams etc that my mom was marking. Can’t say I minded at the time, but still. And this was years ago (I’m 55). My dad, well, he worked pretty much all the time. Off to work at 7, home for supper, back to work most evenings.

          But, my main point is, it’s not fair to compare the two. Unless you use a job evaluation tool in an appropriate environment. And yes, I have years and years of experience at this.

    2. Well it didn’t take long for the Liberals to start driving wedges between –arguably– the two largest professions in this province. Way to go everyone.