1. N.S. party leaders’ first debate: environment, diversity, inclusion are main topics

If you missed it, and you’d rather not go to YouTube and sit through 90 minutes of three men talking in a dimly lit room, you can find everything you need to know in Jennifer Henderson’s handy recap of last night’s proceedings.

Among the hot button topics covered:

  • Health care, the family doctor shortage, and the handling of long-term care
  • Boosting diversity in courtrooms and ensuring the land claims in traditional African-Nova Scotian communities are finally settled
  • Rankin and the Liberals’ handling of the candidacy of Robyn Ingraham, who was asked to resign because of boudoir photos of her online (more on that in Views)
  • The economy moving out of the pandemic, including how to best train Nova Scotians for jobs, what the minimum wage should be, and how companies should be taxed
  • Whether the government should support Northern Pulp’s proposed wastewater treatment plant that would pump treated effluent into Pictou Harbour
  • The environment, and the timeline for closing coal-fired power plants and replacing fossil-fuel energy sources with renewable ones such as wind and solar. Also, the issue of Owl’s Head Provincial Park.

See what the different leaders had to say about these issues and more in Henderson’s article.

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2. Black Truro area candidate whose signs were burned and vandalized gives her response to the incident

Tamara Tynes Powell preparing a stack of campaign signs
Tamara Tynes Powell, the Liberal candidate for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River, readies campaign signs Saturday, just hours before many of them were found vandalized and burned. Photo: Tamara Tynes Powell / Facebook

On Monday, our Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Matthew Byard reported that campaign signs in Truro for Liberal candidate Tynes Powell had been vandalized and burned. Tynes Powell is the first Black candidate in the history of her riding (Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River) and the only woman running there this year.

In an article published yesterday afternoon, Byard interviewed Tynes Powell and asked for her response to the incident and how it’s affected her campaign, an incident that Cumberland-Colchester MP Lenore Zann, in a social media post, called “pure old right-wing racist Hate rearing it’s (sic) ugly head once more.”

The Examiner asked Tynes Powell in an interview if she has thoughts, fears, or concerns on whether the story making the news could have a negative impact on her chances of winning by rallying racist voters to the polls to vote against her.

“Absolutely,” she said. “A lot of times the thought is, you know, ‘Am I going to be blamed for this? Am I going to be blamed for using the race card?’ I think its just a natural consequence, unfortunately, of the skin we’re in. But that being said, when you live in this skin, you learn to know all the hate that comes along with it.”

“So for me it’s more important that I stand up against any sort of hatred act. And if that was to mean that I wasn’t elected, then that means that there’s a lot more work to do, and it doesn’t necessarily stop the work that I will continue doing.”

Read the full article to see more of Tynes Powell’s response and learn how her family’s political history in the Truro area has instilled in her a “passion for politics” that won’t be easily extinguished by acts of hate and destruction.

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3. The crossroads of anti-racism activism and education for seniors

Shartelle Lyon and her mother Sharmay Beals-Wentzell founded the Valley Anti-Racism Association following the murder of George Floyd. Photo: Shartelle Lyon

How does the death of George Floyd, racist graffiti on road signs in Windsor, and an anti-racism association lead to the creation of a series of virtual information sessions for seniors?

Find that out, as well as what those sessions entail, in Matthew Byard’s second story in today’s Morning File, about a mother-daughter duo whose passion for anti-racism inspired these upcoming virtual information videos and ZOOM Q&As for seniors, hosted by professionals from the province’s Black community.

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4.  New Tideline episode: Jacob Sampson

Jacob Sampson

This piece is written by Suzanne Rent

We’ve got another episode of The Tideline, with Tara Thorne published for you this morning.

It’s summer theatre season and Thorne sits down with Jacob Sampson just ahead of opening night for Shakespeare By The Sea’s mainstage show of the season, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Besides talking about getting back to the stage at SBTS, Sampson chats about the award-winning play he wrote for himself, Chasing Champions, a little-known story about the Nova Scotian boxer Sam Langford.

Listen to the full episode here and check out past episodes of The Tideline here.

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5. COVID update

Photo: Martin Sanchez/Unsplash

Tim Bousquet is on vacation for the rest of the week, so Suzanne Rent has the COVID report from Wednesday. I’m happy to relay that new COVID cases are also on vacation in this province.

There were no new cases announced Wednesday, and there are now a total of nine known active cases in Nova Scotia.

As of yesterday, 75.7% of the province’s entire population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

For more vaccination numbers and charts, as well as info on case demographics, where to get tested, how to book a vaccination, and the locations around the province where Public Health has issued potential COVID exposure advisories, click on this link to the full COVID report from Wednesday here.

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6. Halifax’s Ellie Black injured; will miss final event in artistic gymnastics today

Canadian gymnast Ellie Black competes in the balance beam during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Sunday, July 25, 2021. Photo: Leah Hennel/Canadian Olympic Committee

I haven’t been watching much of the Olympics this year. Between the lack of fans in the stands, the people’s opposition to the games in Japan, and the general state of the planet and international community at the moment, I just can’t seem to get into the “higher, faster, stronger” spirit this time around.

But I’m still cheering on our Canadian athletes, even if I’m not watching. They’ve been training their whole lives, after all, and it’s not like they got to pick the time in which they’d enter their competitive prime.

One Canadian athlete I won’t be able to cheer on today is Halifax’s own Ellie Black.

In a news release Wednesday, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced an injury to her ankle will force her to miss today’s final event in artistic gymnastics. Black, who is competing in her third Olympic Games, sprained the ankle in training Tuesday. Although she’ll miss the chance to vie for a medal today, her team is hopeful she’ll recover in time to compete in the balance beam final on Aug. 3.

As of this article’s publication, Canada has won 10 medals — two gold, three silver, and five bronze.

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1. Digital pasts, “transparency,” and political futures

Headshot of woman with shoulder-length brown hair and V-neck top showing part of a tattoo below her right shoulder.
Robyn Ingraham. Photo: The Gentle Barber Facebook profile

And so, at the eleventh hour yesterday, the Liberal Party nominated its candidate for the riding of Dartmouth South, filling a spot that had been left empty since Robyn Ingraham dropped out on July 17, the day after she’d announced her candidacy in the first place. From there, it’s been a story that’s evolved bizarrely.

When I first heard that the Liberal candidate for Dartmouth South had dropped out of the race on day one of the campaign, I didn’t think much of it. Another young MLA candidate forced to resign because of some old, embarrassing photos or posts that a provincial party’s screening team, strapped for time and staff, failed to flag until it was too late — nothing new. Just another political gaffe in the age of social media.

When the Examiner first mentioned it in Jennifer Henderson’s first election campaign roundup on July 19, the story was mentioned as a one-sentence aside at the very bottom of her article, under the subheader, “campaign trivia.” Here’s how Henderson summed it up then:

The Liberal candidate for Dartmouth South, Robyn Ingraham, resigned her candidacy on the first day of the campaign citing her anxiety related to some modelling photos.

Of course, we’d later find out the story wasn’t just a piece of “trivia.” On July 21, Ingraham would post a long statement on Instagram saying the Liberals had requested she drop out of the race due to concern over some boudoir photos she’d posted online. Photos she’d openly disclosed to the party as potentially controversial. After agreeing to step down, she then had help crafting a message that blamed her resignation on stress and concern for her mental health.

In her Instagram post, Ingraham called the whole ordeal misogynist: “This screams gender inequality from all angles, why should I be ashamed of my body and what I decide to do with it?” And several people have agreed with her. It’s not like she did anything illegal or clandestine. The CBC published an opinion piece from a former Liberal vetter who said the photos in question wouldn’t have stopped her from giving Ingraham the OK as a Liberal candidate. Her reasoning, other than the fact that no ethical issues were raised:

In a democracy, shouldn’t the people we elect represent all of us, the “commoners,” and not just one segment of society?

It’s a good point. Not to overgeneralize, but if you went to Ingraham’s riding and asked anybody walking down Portland Street whether they’d have a problem being represented by someone with piercings, tattoos and artistically erotic photos of themselves online, I’d wager most would consider her a very appropriate representative.

First off, we’re reaching a point where more and more politicians grew up with social media which means many of their controversial, personal, embarrassing moments and mistakes have been documented publicly since they were in grade school. (Not to say that Ingraham’s photos were a mistake.) Political parties are going to have to get used to that, and realize that, while ethical conerns raised by posts will always be valid, maintaining the squeaky clean political image is no longer possible or desirable.

Ingraham’s Insta post laid it out in so many words:

Our younger generation, my generation and much of yours have many years of social media under our belt. It was my understanding that you would and could be there for me, and for others who decide to apply in the future. I hope you know this will be a common issue for future nominees and candidates…

As this story’s taken shape over the last week and a half, and we’ve had time to consider and digest it and its newer developments, I’ve come to the following conclusion: What’s most disappointing about the Liberals’ request that Ingraham step down over these photos and then hide the reason for her resignation, is the absolute hypocrisy of it.

The leader of the Liberal Party recently confessed — publicly and unsolicited — to two DUI charges from his youth. He sat on that information throughout his political career until a month before his first election as premier, at which point he publicly disclosed his youthful transgressions. Now, to own up to the mistakes of your past is a laudable thing, but Rankin’s disclosure and apology only went halfway (Stephen Kimber perfectly outlines the ways in which Rankin fumbled his DUI disclosure in this piece from early July.) If you’re trying to be “transparent,” maybe take a follow-up question about the charges, or bring up that you were “found innocent” on one charge because of a technicality.

What did Ingraham do? Why is it she can’t run for the Liberals and Rankin can? At the start of her nascent — now potentially finished — political career, she was upfront with her party about some potentially controversial, but perfectly legal, non-inflammatory, online pictures. Her party didn’t flag them as an issue, but asked her to keep it quiet, then they did flag it and asked her to resign, then they asked her to hide the truth about the reason for her departure.

The Halifax Examiner has chronicled some examples of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party’s transparency over the years (recent examples here, here, here, here, and here). When he took office, Iain Rankin said he’d run a more transparent government than his predecessor. More than misogyny or uptight stuffiness, the case of Robyn Ingraham shows that, whether it’s in governing or campaigning, Nova Scotia’s Liberals continue to have their own ideas about the definition of “transparency.”

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Leftovers from last week…

L.B. Jenson’s sketch of Charlie Snow’s old tattoo parlour on Barrington, now the site of Scotia Square.

I’ve got one more sketch to share from L.B. Jenson’s 1969 collection of drawings, Vanishing Halifax. The images I included in my last Morning File — the Old Town Clock, the Grand Parade, Public Gardens, Bollord House, etc. — looked pretty well unchanged today.

Not so, for the tattoo parlour pictured above, which was formerly located by the no-longer-existent intersection of Barrington and Hurd. Actually, by the time Jenson’s collection was published, the shop, owned and operated by a Mr. Charles Snow, had already fallen to make way for the Scotia Square complex. Since I couldn’t take a photo of the location myself, I thought I’d scour the internet this week to see if I could find an old photo from someone’s archives.

The only one I could find was attached to this fascinating MacLean’s article from August 1943, that offers the reader a pretty detailed look at what business was like inside the parlour during World War II. And that’s all it is, really: a comprehensive account of a tattoo parlour, its owner, and the clientele that patronized it 80 years ago. There’s no story really. So novel were tattoos to the general Canadian public at the time, that a simple description of the goings-on inside such an establishment was worth 1,500 words in a national magazine.

As such, it’s a time capsule of a part of Halifax that’s gone forever now. It’s these little sketches of small details of life in the past — usually only found in letters and journals — that really bring history to life. Far more than old documents, treaties, and textbooks, anyway.

The parlour’s proprietor was one Professor Charles Snow, an English expat who learned his trade by practicing on himself as a sailor in World War I. (He kept his 300 tattoos hidden under his shirt so as to maintain a respectable appearance in his day-to-day dealings).

I’ve never stepped foot in the tattoo parlours Halifax has to offer today, but I’m willing to wager they’re nothing like Snow’s was. Here’s how the article describes his booming wartime business in 1943:

In Halifax the unprecedented growth in Professor Snow’s business has paralleled the jump in numbers in the Royal Canadian Navy. Thousands of youngsters—lots of them Continued on page 23 who never saw the sea before—are in the Navy now. Being sailors, they want to be tattooed. The professor can’t tell you how many have winced under his needle for there have been so many he hasn’t been able to keep track.

His studio is a big bare room, one corner blocked off by a four-foot board fence—the “bullpen.” Snow and his subject sit on wooden chairs, facing each other, inside the bullpen. At the professor’s elbow is a shelf covered with electric needles, ink pots, celluloid stencils, bandages. Men waiting their turn in the bullpen lean against its boards, smoking and watching Snow at his job.

A small tattoo can be applied in about a quarter hour. First, hair is shaved with a straight razor from the area of skin to be used as “canvas.” Then a thin layer of grease goes on. Then the design, which has been scratched on celluloid. The scratches hold ink powder which is transferred by pressure to the grease on the skin.

Preliminaries over, needling starts. There is a different needle for each color—black, yellow, red, brown, blue. A needle is propelled by a tiny electric motor like that in an electric razor, which drives it into your hide 3,000 times a minute.

It Hurts.

Painless tattooing isn’t painless. You realize that when you see a tough weatherbeaten merchant seaman, veteran of North Atlantic convoy service, turn white as a sheet and wobble on his chair.

“About one in a 100 gets like that,” says the professor calmly. “Just nerves. Here, lad, loosen your collar and put your head between your knees. That’s it.”

Professor Charles Snow applies his trade on someone’s arm in 1943. Photo: MacLean’s Archives

The most popular tattoos at the time, according to the article, were naval insignia, headstones as tributes to fallen comrades, and touchups that removed old girlfriends’ names and replaced them with the name of the customer’s current lover. Snow says the high point of his career was tattooing a last will and testament on the back of one of his customers. The man brought a lawyer in to make sure it was perfectly legal. He left two houses to his wife and son.

There were certain things Snow wouldn’t tattoo (his rules and opinions about tattooing are amusingly conservative by today’s standards). First off, he wouldn’t ink hands or faces. Only “wrist to neck — and that’s all.” No mention of whether he’d tattoo below the belt. Maybe in 1943, it was just taken as a given that that area was off limits for ink, I don’t know.

He also had only one design at the ready for the rare female patrons who’d pop in. It was a butterfly. Why just a butterfly for the ladies? The reporter never asked, and now that information is lost to us forever.

There was a bit more variety for the men, but he still refused to tattoo certain images: pictures of naked ladies for one. He would, however, gladly tattoo a bathing suit on top of such a tattoo if a customer came in with regrets that it looked immodest. Apparently by 1943, there wasn’t as much call for racy tattoos like that anymore:

Professor Snow says morals of the present generation are better than those of their fathers. Hardly ever does he have a request nowadays to etch a nude lady on a tar’s chest.

In the entire recorded history of human events, that might be the only documented instance of an elder looking at the youth of his day and deeming them morally superior to his own generation. I can’t help but applaud Professor Snow for that — strange outdated principles be damned.

So what tattoos did Snow approve of?

“I always like to see a lad get a horseshoe with ‘Mother’ in it,” said the professor. “Shows his thoughts are in the right place.”

Honestly, just read the whole thing. It’s a thoroughly entertaining step back in time.

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No meetings

On campus

It’s summer

In the harbour

06:30: Asterix, replenishment vessel, arrives at Dockyard from sea
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
07:30: Algoma Verity, bulker, moves from anchorage to Gold Bond
10:45: NH Siri, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Beaumont, Texas
11:45: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
18:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
18:30: Taipei Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York

Cape Breton
17:00: Eagle Kuching, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper anchorage for sea


  • I don’t have anything against tattoos, but I doubt I’ll ever get one. I change my mind about things too much. Plus I already spend enough money on things I don’t actually need.

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Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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  1. When I read Robyn’s IG post explaining what happened, I was not surprised at all (as candidates from all parties have been kicked out in similar ways), but I felt she was too progressive to be running for the Libs anyway. I understand if she is discouraged, but she maybe be more useful at a grassroots/community level anyway. We have enough blue-blooded, upper-middle class lawyers and professionals (of all genders) running for office, and they are probably not as in touch with ordinary folk as someone with her background and career. I dare say Robyn is more representative and in touch with people (also, didn’t endanger anyone’s lives with those photos unlike our Premier’s reckless behaviour). And that is probably another reason the Libs backtracked – she would look out of place in the Stewart McKelvey or McInnes Cooper boardroom where they execute their shady deals.

  2. My comments for today are:

    1. I’d rather a politician post nude photos, which I can always just not look at, than one who drives while under the influence, which may not be as easy to avoid as he/she/they could (potentially) be anyone on the road.

    2 As for tattoos, I love the look of well-done ink and have one myself; but that’s probably the only one I will ever get. It’s basically been there and done that now let’s move on to something else. 🙂

  3. Boudoir photos? I would suggest that anyone wanting to discuss Robyn Ingraham’s situation should look at the photos before giving an opinion. Boudoir photos are “artistically erotic photos” – agreed. Form your own opinion about what these are after seeing them.
    IMHO – these do nothing to advance any of the causes “old gals” like myself have fought and suffered for since the 1960s-70s. Now, can we just all keep our clothes on and get on with the real issues facing Nova Scotians?

    1. I haven’t seen them Rosemary but Ingraham says she gave full disclosure about them to the Liberal Party when running for the nomination and they accepted her, only to change their minds later and force her to accept public blame for their mistake. A devious. classic partisan tactic.

      I don’t blame Ingraham, I blame the NS Liberal Party.

    2. You, Rosemary Godin, are unequivocally wrong. I say this as a woman and a feminist who has been around for a bit more than 3/4 of a century. This IS a REAL issue facing Nova Scotians. This issue is a women’s rights issue; the right of women to take control/to have control of their own bodies. This issue is a misogynistic, sexist issue.

      A Vancouver news article reports: “B.C.’s Mackenzie Kerr [a young woman with political aspirations] is just one of many who have voiced their anger against Liberal party in recent days. Kerr says she’s had enough of policing women’s bodies.“ Mackenzie Kerr has shown her support for Robyn Ingraham by releasing her own boudoir photos.” “Mackenzie Kerr has shown her support for Robyn Ingraham by releasing her own boudoir photos.” In this article, there’s a photo of Ingraham with a tattoo going from one collar bone to the other: YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME.

      Kudos to Robyn Ingraham who should be the Liberal candidate for Dartmouth South or that of another party.