1. Natural Gas
“Customers of Heritage Gas and/or Nova Scotia Power are waking up to a little good news today. Prices for natural gas — and as a result the electricity produced from it — will not be going up over the next two years as a result of an important decision released by the National Energy Board (NEB) last evening after stock markets closed in western Canada,” reports Jennifer Henderson.
The NEB rejected a plan by Emera to ship gas through its Emera Brunswick pipeline to serve the Irving Oil refinery and the LNG Canaport facility in Saint John. That gas is now moving through the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline. Continues Henderson:
Currently, Irving Oil is paying for one-third of the current contracted volume that moves through the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline. Without that volume, rates for the rest of the flow — that is, the gas being used by consumers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick — would have to rise to keep the pipeline viable.
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2. Smart meter battle heats up
As Jennifer Henderson has been reporting, the Utility and Review Board is considering how and what kind of “smart meters” will be used by Nova Scotia Power customers. One submission to the UARB comes from EfficiencyOne, the province’s energy conservation agency, which claims that Nova Scotia Power has “a disincentive to make meaningful investments in energy efficiency programs.”
Nova Scotia Power says the smart meters can reduce power consumption by 0.75 per cent — which is paltry in comparison with EfficiencyOne’s mandate to reduce consumption by 30 per cent.
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3. Sexual assault of RCMP cops
“Halifax Regional Police are investigating a doctor after numerous complaints from former RCMP officers and applicants that he sexually assaulted them during medical examinations and periodic health assessments,” report Ross Lord and Alexander Quon for Global:
According to an internal RCMP email written by the force’s acting human resources officer, the incidents are alleged to have occurred between 1981 and 2003 at the RCMP’s Health Services Office in the “Atlantic Region.”
The doctor who is alleged to have assaulted members of the RCMP is not named in the email.
“We can confirm that an investigation has been opened following reports of sexual assaults against RCMP employees and recruits involving incidents that took place at the RCMP Health Services Office between October 1981 and July 2003,” said Const. Carol MacIsaac, a spokesperson with the Halifax Regional Police.
4. Jail mail
“Beginning in the next few weeks, all in-coming mail sent to inmates at all Nova Scotia jails, including photographs, will be photocopied by staff, logged and scanned on a computer,” reports Sherri Borden Colley for the CBC:
Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey confirmed the directive went out this past summer and is now being rolled out in all provincial correctional facilities.
Inmates receive the photocopy version of their mail, while the original is stored in their personal file and handed over to them upon release, according to a justice department spokesperson.
Amherst defence lawyer Jim O’Neil was not aware of the new jail policy until contacted by CBC, and said he does not think notification has gone out to people involved in the system. Drugs in mail cannot be the only reason why photocopying is now required, he said.
“Almost all of the institutions have very sensitive equipment, they can test for the presence of drugs, so that can’t be the reason,” he said.
“And secondly, even if it was, photocopying material doesn’t make sense because if there’s drug-laced mail, that mail would be seized. So to photocopy all mail, that doesn’t make sense either.”
The new directive, O’Neil said, will also have an impact on the families of inmates.
“It means that suddenly people aren’t going to want to be open in their communications, so that letters from family are going to have to be carefully worded,” he said.
“There may be private family matters that they don’t want to share with the people that read the mail at the facility. So definitely, it’s going to have a dampening effect if it’s allowed to occur this way.”
1. Northern Pulp and the Chronicle Herald
“Last Saturday morning (Jan. 13), I picked up the The Chronicle Herald to see a front-page spread announcing the launch of a special report on the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County, about which I had just written a book, The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest,” writes Joan Baxter in an op-ed for the Chronicle Herald:
An editor’s note said that journalists from The Chronicle Herald and the SaltWire paper, New Glasgow’s The News, had spoken with people who run the mill. I looked forward to reading what they had to say since they had refused to be interviewed for my book. The editor also said that the journalists had spoken to some of those with concerns about the company’s plans for a new effluent treatment and disposal system.
The first of four articles said that the series would attempt to “lay out the facts in black and white to inform an important discussion about the mill’s role and future” in Nova Scotia.
To date, there have been four articles in the series. It has certainly provided lots of positive coverage of the mill. Missing, however, are the voices of the people with concerns about the mill, and many facts that still deserve attention.
Baxter will be our guest on this week’s Examineradio podcast.
Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — most interesting is the Halifax Transit budget.
Community Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am, City Hall) — the committee will discuss the Integrated Mobility Plan, which might result in tearing up the boardwalk and building a giant building because why not another one, eh?
Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — the United Memorial Church on Kaye Street will be added to the Registry of Heritage Properties.
Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Art Room, Prospect Road Community Centre) — minor issues on the agenda.
Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — discussion of a proposed Veterans’ Memorial Medical Centre.
Special Committee to Review the Estimates of the Auditor General and the Chief Electoral Officer (Tuesday, 4:30pm, One Government Place) — I don’t know what this is about.
Management Commission (Tuesday, 5pm, One Government Place) — this is a new one for me. The commission webpage explains that:
The Commission is responsible for the financial stewardship of all public money approved by the House of Assembly for the use and operation of the Assembly. It is also responsible for all financial and administrative policy affecting the Assembly and its members, offices and staff.
The Commission specifically:
- Monitors how the Assembly spends its budget
- Reviews and approves Assembly office policies and procedures
- Implements, reviews and updates Assembly office financial and management policies
- Directs on the efficient and effective operation of Assembly offices
- Makes regulations on the administration of member allowances and expenditures
- Reports to the Assembly annually on its activities.
It ensures that:
- Members expenses are posted online
- The financial performance of the Assembly is reviewed
- An annual financial audit of the Assembly accounts is completed
- A compliance audit of Assembly accounts is completed
- Assembly accounts and operations are disclosed for auditing purposes
- Auditor recommendations are considered and addressed
- An audit results report is submitted to the House.
All good… so who’s on the commission? These people:
Notice what they all have in common? That’s right: they all have very attractive hair.
We’re in good hands.
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Tourism Nova Scotia is going to explain that TripAdvisor thing, maybe. Then they’ll all go play golf.
Kleisli Dougle Categories (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Bob Paré will speak.
The Woman Condemned (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — a screening of Dorothy Davenport’s 1934 film.
Privacy in Big Data (Wednesday, 11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Sébastien Gambs from the Université du Québec à Montréal will speak on “Privacy and Ethical Issues in Big Data: Current Trends and Future Challenges.”
Quiz at the Colonnade (Tuesday, 11am, Loyola Colonnade) — test your knowledge regarding sexual violence myths and facts.
The Hunting Ground (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Room 101, Atrium) — a film screening and discussion led by the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre.
In the harbour
3am: NS Stream, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from IJmuiden, Netherlands
4:30am: Parsifal, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
3pm: YM Movement, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
6pm: Asterix, replenishment vessel, arrives at Dockyard from sea
No tsunami, so there’s that.