I’m Katie Toth, an early-morning reporter and opinionator, and you can follow me on Twitter


1. A debate the flavour of unseasoned chicken

I wasn’t paying attention to much of the Nova Scotia Provincial Leadership Debate. However, I did feel affirmed when I heard through the grapevine — from a local urbanist who bumped into some other people I know — that it was a real snoozer.

Maybe they had more stage presence, but on the screen, all three men looked like small wooden dolls controlled by talking robots. 

“It was an unremarkable debate,” writes Mike Gorman for the CBC, “and that’s probably just what (Premier) Stephen McNeil and his team were hoping for.”

Among political wonks, there’s a theory that if a debate focuses on taking shots at one dude, that can sometimes be perversely good for the guy being raked over the coals. It means we’re talking about them in a frontrunner-ly way, right?  This is why PR people are always like “the other candidate” or “the other brand” and refuse to name their competition like they fear conjuring up Voldemort.

Thus, the strategy: McNeil responded to criticisms of his campaign from Burrill and Baillie, but he didn’t return the favour. A Liberal official told Gorman, “If they aren’t talking about their own plans we aren’t going to do it for them.”

A couple milquetoast “highlights:”

 McNeil said that he’d solve the problems of doctor shortages in Nova Scotia by moving to a “collaborative care model” that involved more nurses and nurse practitioners. Baillie said that McNeil was skirting the point, and that while he had years to work with doctors, “you demonized them. You called them greedy.”

Pressed by Burrill about whether there was a “health care crisis” in Nova Scotia, McNeil said, “no…there are challenges.”

 Baillie has been tacking left of the Liberals for much of the election, but he veered to the right when talking about fracking. “I do believe communities should have that choice,” he said.

• Baillie also had some concerns about Nova Scotia’s rollout of federal marijuana legalization — saying the age of 18 is “way too low” to buy weed and we need to “protect our kids,” who are probably skipping first period to smoke on the Halifax Common as you read this.

Meanwhile, it appears McNeil wants to make sure our teachers and unemployed film workers can at least numb their pain with some high-quality edibles, which he says was “never part of the conversation” around legalization, according to Becky Dingwell (who was following the debate for The Coast.)

What McNeil glossed over was the reason recreational edibles haven’t been discussed at length in Canada: they’re not going to be legal. At least, not for a while. According to a recent email from Health Canada for another story I was working on, federal legalization starts only with legal “dried and fresh cannabis, cannabis oil as well as seeds and plants for personal cultivation” — and that’s for a reason.

Following the coming into force of the Cannabis Act, the Government will develop and publish regulations — in line with the Task Force recommendation — to permit the sale of edible products. Once regulatory oversight for these products — such as measures to protect public health and safety, standardized serving sizes and potency, child-resistant packaging requirements, and standardized health warnings — has been developed and put in place, it is the intention of the Government to allow edibles to be sold.

TL;DR -— they’re working on it. But the feds want to start with legalizing non-edible products first, which are a little easier to control and harder for your seven-year-old to confuse with a gummy bear. But hey, if McNeil wants to start a discussion about his favourite pot brownie recipe, I’m all ears.

A Forum Research Poll released Thursday says almost 80 per cent of respondents in Nova Scotia are certain they plan to vote, even though all the major party leaders have unfavourable ratings. McNeil is the most disliked, with a -32 favourability score. Baillie and Burrill both have favourability scores at about -3. That said, support for the Liberals still remains higher than the PC or New Democratic parties.

2. Tires on fire

In Brookfield, community members say they’re not satisfied with Lafarge Canada’s system for burning tires in its kiln. The company says they’re working on building community trust. Francis Campbell has the full report for the award-winning strike outlet, Local Xpress

3. More from Local Xpress

Chris Lambie reports that overworked Crown attorneys aren’t satisfied with the new hires who were going to deal with sexual assault cases — because they won’t be front-line prosecutors.

4. There’s a three-way race in Queen’s – Shelburne

Paul Withers reports for the CBC:

The South Shore riding is the only seat outside metro Halifax without an incumbent on the ballot.


All three major parties have a claim on the riding, which was created in a 2012 redistribution that merged traditionally Liberal Shelburne with traditionally Tory Queens and elected a New Democrat MLA in 2013.


1. Students need legal recourse over campus rape

So says Charlotte Kiddell, chairperson of Canadian Federation of Students-NS (disclosure: I was a volunteer with the CFS-NS in 2010-11, which now feels like decades ago), in an open letter published in Local XpressKiddell says that the provincial government should write a law about how universities should deal with and track sexual assaults. Instead, she says,

The Liberals have opted to address the issue of sexualized violence on campus in a memorandum of understanding (MOU), a non-binding document that offers no recourse to students should universities violate its terms.

The MOU only commits universities to adopting stand-alone sexual assault policies; it does not commit the dedicated funding for survivor supports, and data collection and reporting that students are calling for. The limited language in the MOU is brief and vague. If offers no clear guidelines for policy development and student engagement, leaving institutions scrambling to develop policy and students clambering to hold administrators accountable.


Getting the message out can be rough for Steven James MacNeil, who’s running in Cape Breton for the Atlantica Party, but he doesn’t mind the confusion of his name with the current premier’s if it gets him some accidental votes: “Hopefully, people get us confused because he’s more popular than me.”

From a story in the New York Times about the Trump-instigated American-student boom: U.S. student applications for Mount Saint Vincent University have more than doubled this year.

Hey, don’t leave your dogs in hot cars.

Sad desk lunch is on the rise. A new study by Dalhousie University researchers shows that almost 40 per cent of Canadians eat lunch at their desk. And — flouting the stereotypes of time-wealth and underemployed luxury on the idyllic East Coast — Atlantic Canadians actually eat lunch at their desks the most. Sad! You can read the whole Canadian Press article by Lia Levesque in the Globe and Mail here.

Dartmouth Food Crawl is today.


No public meetings.

On campus


Getting Things Done (Friday, 9am, Exhibition Room, Medjuck Architecture Building) — this is the final day to see this exhibition showcasing the architecture of Vorarlberg, Austria.

The Icarus Report

(Prepared by Tim)

“The Transportation Safety Board has found that approach procedures, poor visibility and reduced airfield lighting led to the March 29, 2015, plane crash at Halifax Stanfield International Airport that injured more than two dozen people,” reports Cassie Williams for the CBC. The details are frightening:

Just after midnight on March 29, 2015, Air Canada Flight 624 from Toronto approached the Halifax airport in gusty winds and heavy snowfall.

The twin engine Airbus 320 carrying 133 passengers and five crew members then hit some power lines and slammed into the ground 200 metres short of Runway 05. The jet then bounced into the air, where it tore through a navigation antenna.

The plane hit the ground a second time, about 70 metres before the runway threshold. One of its engines and its landing gear were torn off as it skidded along the runway amid a shower of sparks for another 570 metres, according to the Transportation Safety Board.

The TSB said the plane was so heavily damaged in the crash it was “destroyed.”

And then there’s this:

In its report, the TSB said the investigation highlighted several risk factors when it comes to passenger safety. Kathy Fox, TSB chair, said during evacuation of the plane, some passengers exited with their luggage, creating delays. 

“It is important that passengers pay attention to the pre-flight safety briefings, review the safety features card and wear clothing that is appropriate to the season,” the report said. [emphasis added]

Um, “you’re supposed to wear a parka, snow boots, heavy leather gloves, and a ski mask on the plane in expectation that the plane will crash in a blizzard and you’ll be stuck on the snow-covered tarmac for an hour” is, shall we say, not helpful advice. It might even be stupid advice. It’s definitely blaming the victim.

Yesterday, there was lots more fun in the air:

• WestJet flight 3421 from St. John’s to Halifax experienced a shit ton (that’s the technical term) of turbulence so dropped from 20,000 feet to 18,000 feet, and only told air traffic control while doing so.

• WestJet flight 3408 from Fredericton to Toronto “declared PAN PAN and informed of an engine failure (left engine)” and made an emergency landing in Ottawa. “PAN PAN” roughly translates as “holy fuck! we all might die! but as horrible as things might be in mere moments, right at this second we’re OK, we think.”

• Two passengers on WestJet flight 520 from Winnipeg to Toronto were “intoxicated and belligerent during the flight. Flight attendants gave both passengers a notice from the captain.” Cops met the passengers in Toronto and brought them to Sweaty Betty’s, where their behaviour fit right in.

• A passenger on WestJet flight 3472 from Montreal to Toronto was “disruptive” and after the plane landed “refused to get off the aircraft.” Cops came on the plane and did that David Dao thing they do.

• There is nothing more ridiculously stupid than purposefully jumping out of a airplane, but yesterday a plane full of wannabe parachutists ran into trouble before they even got off the ground in Dundas, Ontario. “During the takeoff roll, the aircraft veered off the unpaved strip on the west side of the runway. The nose wheel dug into the soft ground and separated from the aircraft. Consequently, the propeller struck the ground and the aircraft ground looped approximately 90 degrees to the right. The left wing made contact with terrain during the ground loop and was significantly damaged. There were no reported injuries to the pilot or the 5 passengers onboard.”

• Er… “a Bell 212 helicopter operated by the Government of Canada – Department of Transport, was conducting sling load operations from the Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Bartlett to the Ivory Light Station on Ivory Island, BC. As the pilot was checking the helicopter’s vertical reference, the pilot’s life vest inadvertently came in contact with the release switch and a first load dropped. Subsequently, the pilot’s left leg pocket seam on the immersion suit engaged the guard and activated the switch on the collective, which caused a second load to drop as well. The loads consisted of non-polluting organic waste and were released on pre-determined safe flight paths. All materials were recovered. An investigation of the aircraft equipment and the ergonomic impact of the pilot’s personal protective equipment is underway.”

• After Westjet flight 3176 from Yellowknife to Calgary landed, a disruptive passenger on sat on the ramp and refused to leave. Calgary cops attended.

• A helicopter taking five passengers from the Spray Lakes Provincial Park in Alberta to a “prepared snow-covered field landing site in Marvel Pass” had a bit of an issue: “During what seemed a normal approach to the field landing site, the aircraft made an uncommanded slow yaw to the right, completing as many as ten revolutions. Simultaneously, the pilot declared he was ‘out of pedal,’ or words to that effect. The pilot landed with the helicopter settling several feet into the snow up to the underbelly of the aircraft.” Hey, but no big deal, the passengers “off boarded” and the helicopter went on to take other passengers on other flights because what the hell, nothing to worry about.

• WestJet flight 1533 from Phoenix to Edmonton was about to land but had to zoom up because some idiot in a recreational plane was two nautical miles ahead and 800 feet below.

• a Zetta Jet from Teterboro, New Jersey to Montreal landed and “hit some of the temporary edge lights before coming to a stop on the runway. Both left gear tires blew out during the event and caused minor damage to the rear fuselage and the left engine cowling. A NOTAM valid at the time of the occurrence indicated that, due to construction work, the width of Runway 06L/24R was reduced to 75 feet and its length to 5000 feet.”

In the harbour

4am: Ningbo Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
5am: Brotonne Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Fos Sur Mer, France

Reykjafoss. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Reykjafoss. Photo: Halifax Examiner

7am: Reykjafoss, general cargo, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
8am: Vera D, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from sea

Atlantic Cartier. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Atlantic Cartier. Photo: Halifax Examiner

10:30am: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Portsmouth, Virginia
10:30am: Reykjafoss, general cargo, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11:30am: Baltic Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
11:30am: Brotonne Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
1pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
4:30pm: Vera D, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Mariel, Cuba
9pm: YM Movement, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
11pm: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
11pm: Ningbo Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Jebel Ali, Dubai


Here’s that cat video you wanted.

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. Please don’t report on all the airplane mishaps, I get on them a few times a year and I’m now having second thoughts…

    1. I’m slightly comforted by the fact that none of the airplane mishaps have been Porter, mainly cause I’m flying Porter to Toronto and back on the weekend.

  2. As John Cascadden implied, when considering an environmental risk, it’s always important to ask, “Compared to what?”

    Our society produces used tires at a great rate. They are a hazard in themselves. They catch fire that pollute horribly and are notoriously hard to put out. They degrade to harmful chemicals. So the risks of burning them have to be compared to the risks of leaving them around, especially in great numbers.

    The furnace at the Brookside Plant uses a circulating fluidized bed system like NS Power’s Point Aconi power plant. These furnaces have a long residence time. That means the material being burned stays in contact with the flame for a longer period compared to most incinerators. This makes them well suited to complete combustion of fuels that can be harmful if burned incompletely. It’s probably a good way to dispose of a potential harmful waste product while generating energy. Again as John Cascadden points out, it’s likely no worse than burning coal in those plants, and probably better than burning coal in a less sophisticated power plant.

    But it may not be as good as recycling them for use in pavement.

    The Columbia Journalism Review has an excellent account of how journalists constantly screw up stories about environmental risks.


    And I wrote a piece about this problem in The Atlantic:


    1. Excellent ancillary reading material, I particularly like the quote:

      “Paracelsus is best remembered for this declaration: Dosis sola facit venenum. “The poison is in the dose.””

      Very true.

  3. Saw the reference to Voldemort. Was like: “Jesus! Tim’s making Harry Potter allusions now. Scrolled to the top. Saw it was Katie Toth. Was like: “Phew! My world makes sense once again.”

    This is NOT an anti-Harry Potter comment, BTW. I read all 7 books. Out loud. Twice.

  4. The number of dioxins and furans is a concern when burning tires in the Lafarge kiln; but what is not made clear is whether what quantities of these exotic emissions are being emitted now when burning coal. The effectiveness of the new exhaust gas filtration system can only be evaluated if there is a reliable history of monitoring and gas composition testing both before and after the new filtration system has been installed. People’s concerns are fueled by a lack of “trusted” information. The scientific expertise exists to answer the questions; but there always seems to be a problem when it comes to educating the public with respect to the science involved. The key elements are what are the existing negative impacts from the kiln’s emissions today when burning coal and what are the “expected” emissions from the kiln if tires are burned? Are there assurances that if the test project does not show an improvement in gas emissions that the kiln will revert back to the original kiln fuel feed-stock composition.

    Something was not made clear when analyzing, today, the appointed advisory committee’s report that was published some 10 years ago when tire burning in the kiln was proposed… is there a market today to use the processed used tires as an aggregate in the province’s highway build programs. If yes, would the provincial supply of used tires be great enough to supply both the highway building programs and LaFarge’s estimated tires of fuel requirements? The LocalXpress article contained the statement that first choice for processing the used tires was as an aggregate supplement when building roads and burning would be the second choice. The report was 10 years ago, has nothing changed since then?

  5. I found last night’s debate refreshing. I prefer when issues can be discussed without turning the event into some kind of angry sport’s match. I’m usually irritated, cringing while people constantly interrupt and talk over another candidate, throwing jabs, and forcefully putting each other on the defensive. It’s childish–and what does it really accomplish? I don’t need excitement to stay interested. I think it’s time we stop judging debates on their entertainment value. It diminishes the issues we care about.

  6. The leader’s debate was boring because nothing really new was discussed; everything has already been extensively mulled over in the press.

  7. “More than two dozen people were injured in the crash, and virtually all of the 133 passengers had to spend about 50 minutes on the tarmac, huddled against a blizzard, before they were taken to an unheated hangar, the lawsuit alleges.”

    Why would passengers be left on the tarmac for nearly an hour, and then taken to an unheated hangar? Surely the first priority should be to have all hands on deck and get every passenger into a warm part of the terminal where they could be attended to immediately. Why wouldn’t there be a procedure in place already as a matter of course to do exactly that?

    I probably wouldn’t have stood on the tarmac in a snow storm for 50 minutes. I’d have headed off to the terminal on foot. So arrest me. At least I’d be warm.

    1. It was one of the last flights of the night so there weren’t many staff at the airport – and the plane hit power lines on the way down and caused a power outage in the airport as well. Wandering off in the dark in a blizzard probably didn’t seem like a better option than waiting by the plane where no doubt emergency crews were going to show up at any moment, right?

      There was a similar botched landing in San Francisco a while back where the only fatality was a woman who got run over by an emergency vehicle racing to the scene.

      1. Sorry. Showing up after 50 minutes isn’t showing up “any minute”. That’s negligence.

        As for the riaks, I may have waited 10 minutes but after that I’d take my chances walking.