If you comment on Facebook or Twitter in support of the Nova Scotia government’s proposed changes to education governance, a Confederacy of Denouncers will arise to smite you. The Confederacy is large, intemperate, and prone to personal attacks. It accuses any who dissent from NSTU orthodoxy of “having a hate on for teachers.” It presumes any who support the government plan must be Liberal shills. It insists its critics have no right to opine about an issue on which it is the sole authority. It betrays an incapacity for logical thought that makes one weep over Nova Scotia's antediluvian teacher-hiring methods. [caption...

Here are some surprising Statistics Canada numbers about the Nova Scotia school system. From 2003 to 2016, enrollment fell by 21.4 percent (vs. 5.8 percent across Canada). The number of full-time teachers also fell, but by only 5.8 percent. (Across Canada, teacher  numbers increased 11.8%.) Over the same period, the student-teacher ratio in Nova Scotia schools improved from 15.7 students per teacher to 13.1 students per teacher.  (The ratio across Canada is 15.1 to 1—about where we were a decade ago.) From 2003 to 2015: Government spending on Nova Scotia schools increased 52.6 percent (vs. 60.1 percent across Canada). Government spending...

  Halifax Council's Transportation Committee meets today to consider accessible transit, including accessible places on regular buses, the Access-a-Bus, and accessible taxis. City staff will make a presentation, and if past performance is any guide, they're expected to wash their hands of efforts to increase the pathetic number of accessible taxis, currently at less than three percent—and falling. Here, in graphic format, are the results to date of Halifax's failure to  discrimination by taxi companies:  ...

  When an official story doesn't ring true, a journalist with good instincts sometimes decides to tug at the loose threads—and keep tugging until the story unravels. Thank you to Bill Turpin for continuing to tug the threads of the official story about a 41-year-old Spryfield man who died in the Halifax Police lockup one year ago last Friday. Official non-story is more like it. The province's Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) has been investigating the man's death, but neither it nor the Halifax police will say what happened—or even reveal the dead man's name. This last omission constitutes an extraordinary and protest-worthy level of secrecy. One full year after...

  In the Barrier Capital of Canada, your business can exclude customers using wheelchairs as long as it's located in a building that never accommodated wheelchairs. Take Fox Hill Farm's trendy new Halifax outlet on Robie Street. The previous tenant sold computers. Selling organic milk and cheese is deemed not to be a change of use. The law, in its wisdom, says that if a property's use has not changed, it's refusal to accommodate wheelchair users needn't change either. Here's Fox Hill's front door. Two steps. No wheelchair users need apply. But wait! A sign on the front door promises an accessible entrance to the side of the building: And here it is....

  The main complaint I hear about the Chronicle Herald's purchase of Transcontinental's Atlantic Canadian newspapers goes like this: If Herald owners Sarah Dennis and Mark Lever can find millions to buy out Transcon, why can't they cough up more money for striking workers? The answer is that those are completely different kinds of transactions, as unalike as buying a new car and buying gas to run it. If you borrow to buy a new car, there's a chance you'll pay extremely low interest—as low as 0% if the carmaker is eager to move inventory. But if you borrow to fill the gas tank, you'll pay credit card rates of 18% - 28%. Transcon,...

  Sarah Dennis and Mark Lever, co-owners of the Halifax Chronicle Herald, have been showered with abuse for their handling of a 14-month strike by the Halifax Typographical Union. Today, they stunned critics and admirers alike by purchasing all of Transcontinental's newspaper properties in Atlantic Canada. A union spokesperson was quick to denounce  the purchase, saying it put the lie to the family's claim it could ill-afford to settle with the union on less than harsh terms. On the contrary. The surprise purchase demonstrates the couple's commitment to local print news in our region, and puts the lie to addlepated, reality-averse commentary about the strike from Tim Bousquet, Steve Kimber, Graham...

  A few months ago, I went to print some now forgotten document when the HP inkjet that's been kicking around my house for a decade or more signalled that one of its cartridges was out of ink. I snapped in a replacement cartridge, purchased off the internet for modestly less than usurious price of a genuine HP cart from staples, and received an ominous message: Unauthorized cartridge detected It turned out HP had issued a firmware update that surreptitiously blocked the use of third-party or refilled cartridges. Organizations like the Electronic Freedom Foundation protested, and faced with a mounting public furore, HP eventually...

  Wednesday in Halifax, six prominent disability rights activists will ask the Supreme Court to order Nova Scotia's Human Rights Commission to do its job. The activists want the court to order the commission to hear their complaint against Environment Minister Margaret Miller and Chief Medical Officer of Health Robert Strang for selectively enforcing Nova Scotia's Food Safety Regulations in a manner that discriminates against wheelchair users—and puts their health at risk in the process. The regulations require restaurants in Nova Scotia to have "washroom facilities for the public available in a convenient location" as a condition of their license. Many Halifax restaurants have summer patios accessible to wheelchair...

  I attended the highway twinning discussion in Sydney Tuesday night, one of a dozen sessions the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is holding around the province to gauge support for highway tolls as a way to speed up seven highway twinning projects on the department's wish list. The core question: should we finance these highway projects in the normal way, out of gasoline taxes, in which case they will take decades, or by implementing tolls on our 100-series highways to generate revenue that would support much faster construction through public-private partnerships. The department came armed with a detailed feasibility study from the engineering firm CBCL. It...