1. Birch Cove Lakes – Blue Mountain wilderness
Yesterday, the Annapolis Group issued a press release threatening to sue the city for a bazillion dollars over city council’s refusal to allow the company to develop land it owns within the proposed Birch Cove Lakes – Blue Mountain Wilderness Park boundaries.
The press release is inaccurate and improperly frames the issue. I don’t have time to get into it this morning, but will try to somehow find the time today. (Which reminds me, I have an editorial about the park that I stupidly forgot to publish… that’ll come too.)
2. Coast Guard vessel Hudson involved in child porn investigation
Last August, the Canada Border Services Agency announced it had arrested a New Brunswick man named Julien Marceau after searching an unnamed vessel in Halifax Harbour. The CBSA charged Marceau with smuggling, and Halifax police additionally charged him with possession of child pornography.
A search warrant application related to the investigation has been recently made public. The “information to obtain” (ITO) application reveals that Marceau was the First Engineer on the Coast Guard vessel Hudson, and that he had been working with the Coast Guard for 30 years.
3. Chronicle Herald strike
“After almost a year on strike, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for journalists at the Chronicle Herald,” reports Preston Mulligan for the CBC:
Frank Campbell, vice-president of the Halifax Typographical Union, said the union and the newspaper’s management team may be heading back to the bargaining table.
“There’s been some off-the-record talks between the lawyers for each side and the thought is that those talks are the basis for some real negotiating,” Campbell said.
The union and the Herald had been planning to face off before the Nova Scotia Labour Board over an unfair labour complaint filed by the union. That was adjourned Tuesday.
Campbell said the two sides decided to adjourn the hearing.
“In the interim it was decided, mutually I thought, that the best way forward would be to adjourn the pending unfair labour practice hearing,” Campbell said.
4. Erin Moore and Ezra Levant
You may have heard: Justin Trudeau was in Dartmouth the other night.
I’m not big on such politician meet-and-greets — I didn’t go to see Stephen Harper when he talked at the Halifax Armoury, across the street from my then-office at The Coast, and I had no desire to see Trudeau either. It’s just not my form of journalism. Still, I wouldn’t fault anyone else for wanting to see Trudeau, or for journalists who go to the events.
Which brings me to Erin Moore, who is the broadcast journalism instructor at Nova Scotia Community College. You’ll recall that Moore’s class has unearthed a bunch of documents related to North Preston land claims and has done some excellent reporting around that issue.
I speak with Moore’s class every year — my role is to play the curmudgeonly old reporter, an object lesson in what terrible fates could befall students if they don’t toe the straight and narrow — and yesterday just happened to be the day of my annual appearance. Before we began, Moore told me about her visit to see Trudeau. She wrote up her story and has kindly allowed me to publish it here:
I took my seven-year-old son to see Justin Trudeau on Monday night. One of my hopes as a parent is that my son takes an interest in politics as a way to help him understand why things are how they are in his city, province, country, and planet. I want him to become an engaged and informed citizen and to understand the role he can play if he’s not happy with the direction things are going.
So we stood in the cold for more than an hour in a line that snaked the entire way around the Dartmouth Sportsplex. I hate the cold and wanted to bail but it was a rare educational opportunity for Oliver. While we stood there, rubbing our mittened hands together, hundreds of teachers walked by us carrying picket signs. He recognized his teacher from last year and they waved at each other.
He asked me why they were protesting and I explained how it connected to the current work-to-rule campaign. Then we saw teenagers with bandanas over their mouths holding signs that opposed pipeline construction. I explained that many people are against the decisions prime ministers make and peaceful protest is a protected part of living in a democracy. People are allowed to disagree, loudly, without risking going to jail. That spawned a lot more questions on his part.
I wanted to remember the night. I was so impressed by his questions and his desire to wait in the cold. So I got the woman standing behind us to take a photo. Then I did something I almost never do. I tweeted it. Normally, my Twitter account is for professional tweets only. But I decided to put this one out there:
— Erin Moore (@moorejourno) January 16, 2017
What happened next occurred because of my other role. Along with being Oliver’s mom, I’m also a journalism instructor at the Nova Scotia Community College. In fact, several of my students were at the event covering it for class. But the fact that I took my son to see the prime minister called my journalistic credibility into question for Ezra Levant, former Sun News Network pundit and current commentator for conservative news site Rebel Media.
"Journalism instructor". https://t.co/zJAfu1tBsn
— Ezra Levant 🇨🇦 (@ezralevant) January 16, 2017
Levant retweeted my photo with the caption “Journalism Instructor” in quotation marks then pinned it to his feed for his 94-thousand followers. The implication I’m guessing is that I couldn’t possibly have journalistic integrity if I took my child to a Liberal event. I must be a Liberal supporter. I must be biased. The trolls saw red meat and fought each other to feast on it first. Finally warm inside the arena, my Twitter account started blowing up with mostly anonymous users calling me a child abuser, a bad mother, and a bitch. Hundreds of them. They’re still coming.
I responded to Levant with the following:
Yes, journalism instructor (no quotes) introducing son to democratic experience of listening to PM while protestors demonstrate outside. https://t.co/tY0YuAhRFn
— Erin Moore (@moorejourno) January 16, 2017
Then I stopped responding and it was hard. I was being attacked for my politics, my professionalism, and my parenting by people who don’t know a thing about any of them.
That’s how trolling works of course and it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. No one threatened to rape or murder me as so often happens to women online.
But it made me think a lot about the Oxford dictionary’s newest word: post-truth.
Somehow, what was actually going on in that photo didn’t matter at all. The fact was that as a mother I wanted my child to see the democratically-elected leader of our country answer questions by both supporters and opponents without a script. As a journalist and journalism instructor, holding those in power to account is a fundamental part of the job. In the town hall setting ordinary people, non-journalists, had the same opportunity to hold Justin Trudeau to account. What a thing for a child to witness.
But never mind the truth. To the trolls, and to Levant, that photo was an example of liberal bias in the media and of a bad mother forcing her child to risk frostbite so he could get indoctrinated by socialist propaganda. Sigh.
Some of my students have asked me why journalism and the pursuit of truth even matters if we’ve truly entered an era of post-truth. My response is that it matters now more than ever, that pursuing truth is still an essential service in a democracy and that holding those in power to account has never been so important.
If we give in to fiction instead of fact, and vitriol instead of verification, we all lose because we’ll all be less-informed when it comes to making important decisions about our lives. That’s something that as both a journalism instructor and as a mom, I’m working hard to prevent.
5. Red Cross building
The city is selling the former Red Cross building at 1940 Gottingen Street, across from the police department and behind Centennial Pool. According to a tender offer issued this morning:
1940 Gottingen Street is known as the former Canadian Red Cross building (circa 1967 – 2013). The first lease of the property by the City of Halifax to the Canadian Red Cross was signed in 1967, with a second lease concluded in 1983. The Canadian Red Cross’ national blood program was transferred to Canadian Blood Services in 1998. That operation continued to occupy the building until it declared the property surplus to their functional requirements in 2013. The municipality then received vacant possession of the property. Halifax Regional Police requested to hold the property for operational considerations from that point, and released its interest in the property in 2015. All municipal business units recommended the property be presented to Regional Council for approval as surplus to municipal requirements in 2016.
The property is a strategic development site and an important economic opportunity for development in the north end of the downtown business district and Regional Centre. Situated at the corner of Gottingen Street and Rainnie Drive, its physical location is highly visible, centrally located, near downtown commercial areas, events venues, and major parks. In recent years, Gottingen Street and surrounding streets have been experiencing a commercial and residential revival.
Of course it’ll be sold to a developer who will throw up some shitty condo building, with million-dollar units looking out at the Citadel. The site has an “as a right” height limit for new construction of 23 metres, so roughly seven storeys, but a developer could dangle some supposed goody in front of city council and build whatever they want if councillors approve a development agreement.
1. Cranky letter of the day
John Palmer is against MP Wayne Easter’s private members’ bill to declare Charlottetown as the Birthplace of Canada.
In “Parliament can’t change history” (Saturday’s Guardian) he writes: “Our founding Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald must be turning in his grave at this proposal.”
Ouch! I wonder what he thinks of New Brunswick’s new tourism campaign for 2017: “Celebrate Where It All Began.” Seriously? Now there’s one that’s really out in left field. I understand the original campaign name was “The place where Confederation almost, sorta, kinda started”, but that had no kick to it. And there’s the Shakespeare play “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Lloyd Kerry, Charlottetown
I’ve been trying to increase my collection and trawling through of government records. Part of that involves just building a process to do so, and so yesterday I taught myself how to stay on top of ACOA grants. Not five minutes into this new enterprise, I discovered that last month Saint John-based Hammond River Brewing Company Inc. received a $50,000 ACOA grant to hire an assistant brewer. That got me wondering what Hammond River’s competitors, like Picaroons or Pump House, would think of this, and boy howdy did that train of thought open up a can of worms.
First of all, Picaroons has received three ACOA loans totalling about $110,000, and Pump House has received a $49,995 grant to hire an engineer, another ACOA grant of $7,950.00, and five ACOA loans totalling over $600,000. But that’s the least of it. The ACOA website reveals other support for breweries, as follows:
• The first ACOA beer funding I could find dates to 1996, when the agency loaned St. John’s Quidi Vidi Brewing almost a half-million dollars to “establish a microbrewery and winery operation.” The next year, ACOA loaned the brewery another $129,650 to expand its operation.
• In 1997, ACOA dumped a cool million dollar loan into Harold MacKay’s Maritime Beer Company, which went beer belly up (because it sucked) much as MacKay’s Power Promotions bid for Halifax Common concerts led to a gigantic fuck up. Bygones, I guess.
• In 1998, ACOA loaned Pictou’s New Scotland Brewing Company a quarter of a million dollars to get established. New Scotland went bust in 2011, but its equipment was purchased by Uncle Leo’s Brewery, which in turn was the recipient of a $97,500 ACOA loan in 2012.
• In 2012, ACOA loaned Prince Edward Island Brewing $350,000 to establish its microbrewery, and granted it $35,000 to “hire an experienced beer industry expert.” It appears PEI beer experts are short-changed on the ACOA moolah: not only do they have to pay the bridge toll to get anywhere civilized, they also get paid $15,000 less than their Maritime counterparts.
• In 2013, Shelburne’s Boxing Rock Brewing received a $100,000 ACOA loan to purchase equipment.
• Also in 2013, Liverpool’s Hell Bay Brewing received an ACOA loan of $32,060 to “purchase additional equipment to increase brewing capacity at a new location.”
• In 2014, ACOA loaned Fredericton’s Northampton Brewing a half million dollars, and followed that up with a $50,000 grant in 2015 to “hire expertise for continuous improvement.” We’re back to fiddy K for the brewmaster salary.
• 2015 was a big year for Fredericton brewers. That year, ACOA loaned Maybee Brewing $238,538 to “purchase equipment to establish a craft brewery”; TrailWay Brewing Company $243,463 to “purchase equipment and make leasehold improvements”; and Grimross Brewing $194,831 to expand its brewery.
• In 2016, Newfoundland brewers got back into that ACOA action, when Port Rexton Brewing was loaned $141,775 to renovate its building and was flat-out granted $49,875 to “hire technical expertise to assist with micro-brewery operations” (close enough to 50K, I guess).
• Also last year, ACOA loaned Fredericton’s Gray Stone Brewing (I don’t know why they use the American spelling of “gray”) $210,000 to “establish a 10-barrel craft brewing house.” Celebratory news reports of the opening managed to omit the ACOA financing.
• Halifax’s Garrison Brewery has received seven loans totalling over three-quarters of a million dollars.
So, evidently, ACOA is in the brewing business.
I’ve got mixed emotions about this. First of all, I like beer: yah beer! And I like and respect many of the brewers and brewery owners who are producing beer in the Maritimes: they’re interesting and creative folk, and we’re better for them. And I suppose the theory is that people will drink Maritime-brewed beer rather than American-made swill owned by InBev or whatever, and that will result in a handful of local jobs… and so this is an investment in the local economy.
Moreover, I understand that new brewers are under-capitalized and a risk too far for commercial banks, so some government financing might help boost the industry. Still: what about those grants? What would Gloria McCluskey think?
More to the point, the craft beer revolution that started in the United States relied not a whit on government financing. I knew Kenny Grossman, who started Sierra Nevada Brewery — I never liked the guy, but he started the business by hitting up friends and family for loans and never got a public handout, so more power to him. On the opposite coast, Sam Calagione started Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery on a whim and a prayer.
But it looks like the Maritime microbrew industry is almost entirely dependent upon government financing. I count upwards of $10 million in ACOA financing for breweries.
When I’m writing about government economic development programs, I often fear I’m sounding like some crazed right-winger singing the praises of the supposed laissez-faire free market. I’m not — I think government does have a role in the economy, including a financing role. But this doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s because some breweries — North and Unfiltered come to mind — don’t get any ACOA funding, and they’re at least to some degree competing with ACOA-financed operations, so I wonder about the fairness of it. Or maybe because it’s a bit too much like Soviet central planning for my tastes — somebody in the politburo decided that craft brewing, as opposed to, I don’t know, home-sewn clothing sold on Etsy, is the future of our economy, so the home sewers starve while the brewers move up the Party ranks.
Then again, maybe I’m thinking of this all wrong. Like craft brewing, my own industry, the news media, is starved for financing. Imagine what $10 million invested in news startups — just to be annoying, let’s call them “artisanal” news — would do for the industry. My goal is to one day hire an assistant editor, the rough equivalent of the assistant brewer, to be able to amp up production; that day would come a lot sooner if the Halifax Examiner were the beneficiary of a $50,000 ACOA grant. I’m sure Mary Campbell’s Cape Breton Spectator could likewise productively make use a $100,000 line of credit to expand operations. And there would undoubtedly be artisanal news sites popping up all over the Maritimes if only ACOA’s VP of Innovation and Groovy Stuff would power up the financing train.
What could possibly go wrong? I’d even start showing up at the PM’s meet-and-greets.
Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Advisory Committee (3pm, NSCC IT Campus) — the committee is putting out a call for Halifax Explosion survivors, the only requirement being that they be “living.” You’ll get an award for not dying twice, I guess.
Standing Committee on Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — Nova Scotia’s hardest-working and most deserving rich person, Laurel Broten, will be congratulated for her hard work and deserving nature.
Innovation! (8am, Weather Watch Room, 5th Floor Dickson Building) — Bill Bean will speak on, “Innovation Rounds: Connecting Philanthropy to the Research World at the QEII.” Or, you could meet me at the University Club Thursday after we record the podcast and I’ll tell you how we can fund research by taxing the fuck out of people who are so rich they get lauded as philanthropists for tossing a few coins away.
Architecture Lecture (9am, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building) — Sascha Hastings, an arts producer in Toronto and RAIC project manager for the 2014 Venice Biennale, will speak.
Thesis Defence, Biology (10:30am, Room 3107, The Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Ingrid Pollet will defend her thesis, “Influence of Extrinsic Factors on Movements and Reproductive Success of Leach’s Storm-Petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa).”
“Genomic insights into cannabis, wine, and cider” (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Sean Myles will speak. Bring your own cannabis, wine, and cider.
Architecture Lecture (6pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building) — Silva Ajemian, a founder of TODO DA and First Street Green Art Park in New York, will speak.
President Trump: Now What? (7pm, Potter Auditorium, Rowe Management Building) — Two 75-minute panels of five speakers will address the lessons and implications of the US election. A reception with light refreshments will precede the lecture at 6pm. Here’s the event listing:
The results of the 2016 American presidential election are more than a little surprising and disorienting for many students, faculty, political analysts and the general public. This event will feature two 75 minute panels with five speakers/experts on each panel addressing the lessons and implications of the US election for various aspects of: American politics, gender, class and/or race in the US, immigration, journalism and the role of traditional and social media (e.g., false news; polling failures, etc.), Canada-US relations, international politics, international trade, diplomacy, or global security.
The event will be hosted by:
Frank P. Harvey (Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
The panels will be moderated by:
Sylvain Charlebois (Dean, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie)
Camille Cameron (Dean, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie)
Jerry Bannister (History, Dalhousie)
Brian Bow (Political Science, Dalhousie)
Mary R. Brooks (Rowe School of Business, Dalhousie)
Louise Carbert (Political Science, Dalhousie)
Sara-Jane Corke (History, Dalhousie)
Amal Ghazal (History, Dalhousie)
Edna Keeble (Political Science, Saint Mary’s University)
Ajay Parasram (International Development Studies, Dalhousie)
Isaac Saney (History/Transition Year Program, Dalhousie)
Kelly Toughill (Journalism, University of King’s College)
Regeneration (1pm, Library LI135) — John Reid and Robert Summerby-Murray will be here to talk about their new book, “The Political, Environmental and Cultural Economy of Heritage in Atlantic Canada: studies in regeneration.”
In the harbour
4:45pm: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
The barge/tug Atlantic Griffon will be tooling around the harbour all day in sea trials.
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.