Due to upgrades to the province’s tracking database, no update to Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 numbers was available yesterday. So today, we examine the national picture.

Across Canada, there are 4,595 known active cases of COVID-19, as cases-per-day continue to drop steadily: down 8.8% in the last week. The national rate of infection is 12 per 100,000 people; the Yukon (112 per 100,000) and Saskatchewan (66 per 100,000) are in the midst of the country’s worst current outbreaks. The disease continues to take a toll on First Nations Reserves, where 57 per 100,000 people are infected.

COVID-19 has killed 26,508 Canadians, the bulk of whom were in Quebec (11,236) and Ontario (9,296).

As of July 20, 69.7% of Canadians have had their first dose of vaccine, and 60.0% have had both jabs.

Source: Government of Canada (July 21)

Candidates battle in new ridings
Going into August’s election, officials have redrawn Nova Scotia’s electoral map, with 55 ridings in play instead of the 51 contested last time around.

Liberal Lloyd Hines used to represent Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie, a sprawling 5,267-square-kilometre riding. Now he’s running in Guysborough-Tracadie.

“The new riding is smaller and essential drops off eastern Halifax County, which is something I was lobbying for,” Hines says. “We dropped all that eastern section of Halifax County, which we had no real community of interest with anyway.”

Learn more about the changes and the campaign in the Canso Strait area in this story for The Reporter by Drake Lowthers.

Incumbents aim to return to Province House
On the South Shore, the election battle features a mix of incumbents and new challengers.

The riding of Queens is a Tory stronghold, with Kim Masland seeking a second term after winning in 2017 with nearly 44% of the popular vote. In Lunenburg, Liberal cabinet minister Suzanne Lohnes-Croft is back on the ballot in search of a third term.

In two other ridings, incumbents aren’t reoffering, making for less predictable races.

In Lunenburg West, where Liberal Mark Furey is retiring, it will be businesswoman Jennifer Naugler for the Liberals, lawyer Becky Druhan for the PCs, and project fund coordinator Merydie Ross for the NDP.

In Chester-St. Margaret’s, independent Hugh MacKay—who has been beset by drunk-driving accusations through his term, leading to his departure from the Liberal caucus—isn’t reoffering. Jacob Killawee, a former Canadian Armed Forces member, hopes to return the seat to the Liberals, while Danielle Barkhouse, a municipal councillor in the Chester area, is running for the PCs and actress Amy Reitsma challenges on behalf of the NDP.

Keith Corcoran breaks it down for LighthouseNow.

Michael James

It’s a kind of magic
It’s been 18 months since he performed in front of fans, so local magician Michael James can’t wait for the Halifax Busker Festival to return, with pandemic precautions, from July 31 to Aug. 2.

“There’s going to be some definite changes to the show, but the entertainment value is still going to be there,” he says. “It’s filled with amazement, and magic, comedy. I’m thrilled to be back on stage. I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. If for 45 minutes I can take away your worries and entertain you and put a smile on your face, then I’ve done my job.”

Ameeta Vohra interviews him for Halifax Magazine.

Music partnership revives old building
The halls of the former CKEC radio station in downtown New Glasgow will once again echo with music, as the home of a music-studio partnership. A love of basketball and music brought businessmen Ian Kamp, who owns Shoebox Studios Ltd., and Derrick Pierre, who owns The Commune, together in the new space.

“We own and operate it but we built it for the community,” Pierre says. “We need people to come and support it and use it for what it is, for it to work. The concept of The Commune is to support arts, music, small businesses, like-minded people and just help push talent. We started this because there is a lot of talent and a lot of people here.”

Jackie Jardine reports for The Pictou Advocate.

Need to know
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Halifax Magazine