Looks like there’s about to be another attack on workers’ wages and pensions. Reports Yvonne Colbert:
As Nova Scotia Power heads into conciliation talks with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers next week, it seems to be preparing for any eventuality, asking its “key” business partners to support it in the event of a labour disruption.
In an email sent Wednesday morning, the utility’s supply chair manager-procurement John MacDonald makes Nova Scotia Power’s position clear.
“Our expectations of you, the suppliers/contractors, is that you will support us in any way possible which could include crossing a picket line,” he said.
Techlink CEO Joe Xidos has his hat in hand:
A Sydney technology firm is seeking a cash advance on a potential $5-million gaming contract with Atlantic Lottery Corp. in order to continue its operations.
John Xidos, the president and chief executive officer, said the company requires $750,000 to hire back its 50 employees laid off last week. He said Techlink wouldn’t be in its current situation if not for a delay in a product trial that occurred earlier this year as a result of poor weather.
Xidos said, should ALC choose to forgo its pending contract and return the machines, the company has offered to repay them for the $750,000 advance by supplying three new games for their systems.
He said Techlink owes Nova Scotia Business Inc. $2.5 million, but also has its sights set on a $40-million contract for a yet-to-be announced technology product.
He said the company recently purchased and renovated a new building space and has received $250,000 from a lending institution and $4.7 million from company shareholders.
I have no knowledge of the company’s books, but from the province’s perspective this is throwing good money after bad. In addition to a $6 million loan to the company, of which Xidos says there is $2.5 million outstanding, NSBI has a $8 million equity stake in the company. In that context, wrangling over a measly $750,000, or even the potential profit from a supposed $40 million contract, looks ridiculous. Better to cut bait and be done with it.
“Northern Pulp has fired one of its senior managers after he confronted the mayor of New Glasgow at a charity event on the weekend,” reports Paul Withers:
“I was fired not about incompetence or something I did in the mill. I was fired because I voiced my opinion and expressed myself to the mayor,” says Aby Karoud, who until Tuesday was head of engineering and maintenance at Northern Pulp.
Karoud says he told Mayor Barrie MacMillan that Pictou County has a racism problem.
“He did not appreciate I told him I am living in the Mississippi of the north.”
Karoud says he complained about racism because of the difficulty he and his Chinese wife — also a mill engineer — had in finding a place to live when they arrived in January from Vancouver.
“One woman told me, who’s going to pay your rent, welfare?”
4. St. Joseph’s
I happened to drive by the site of the proposed St. Joseph’s Square development on Gottingen Street yesterday afternoon and saw workers placing fencing around the block. They were evidently certain that the Halifax and West Community Council would later in the evening approve “minor changes” in the project that increased the number of units by 25 per cent, and they’d be able to start construction today.
I met a guy in the bar last night who was carrying a drone with him. I cornered him and pestered him with all sorts of questions, and he patiently explained how he operated the thing and showed me video he’s taken with it. The videos looked a lot like the videos The Coast posted yesterday from lawyer David Fraser:
I’m thinking of getting one.
6. Sydney port
Cape Breton Regional Municipality (isn’t it time for that place to rename itself as Sydney?) mayor Cecil Clarke yesterday announced a $650,000 study of the potential for a port in that city. Heck, I did it for free yesterday, but I guess that wasn’t the answer they were looking for.
7. Marketing shtick, version #28
We’ve had Burger Week, Sausage Fest, Rib Fest, and now there’s Lentil Week?
Ya know, I just want something to eat. I’m not dragging myself to the restaurant to commodify the social relations between myself, the cook, and the farmer for some ad agency’s profit. Just give me the frickin’ eggs and hash browns already, and leave the sales pitch to the assholes in business suits. Does everything in the entire world have to be a marketing shtick? It’s crass and unseemly.
1. Mother Canada
Bill Dunphy, a columnist with the Inverness Oran, writes an open letter to Tony Trigiani, the man behind the Mother Canada proposal:
Thank you for your interest in Cape Breton Island, but I fear that you are confused about a whole lot of things. That is understandable, you coming from Toronto, where everyone believes they have had an NHL team in their city for the past 48 years.
As CEO of the Never Forgotten Memorial Foundation, please allow me to help un-confuse you regarding your plan to erect a 30-metre statue called “Mother Canada”, complete with the accompanying Commemoration Ring of True Patriot Love, the We See Thee Rise Observation Deck and, of course, the With Glowing Hearts National Sanctuary, in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I am assuming that it is confusion, and not drug addiction, that led you to believe this concrete monstrosity would be a welcome addition to the park, fitting in with the rugged cliffs, roiling sea, stunning rock formations and trees which culminate in the raw beauty of the Cabot Trail.
Not to be an alarmist, or to suggest anyone would be inclined to do harm to this monument, but there is a history down north of residents there taking matters into their own hands when they get it into their heads that someone or something is not listening to them or doing something they don’t want done. I recall back in the early 1990s a nice Swiss couple trying to build a spa on a cliff in between Meat Cove and Capstick who ended up on the wrong side of some residents. You can still see the ruins of what’s left of the abandoned project.
I’m also a little concerned that you and our Conservative government haven’t properly gauged the level of respect we already have for those who fought and died in the two world wars and Korea. There isn’t one community in Cape Breton that doesn’t have a cenotaph. Other communities have additional reminders of our reverence to our war dead, including our Royal Canadian Legions, many of which have museums and other displays in their halls; our schools, some of which have photo galleries of those who served in those wars; there are cannons on display in other communities, next to the war memorials that they guard; and our local museums all have some space dedicated to our service men and women.
Like the tourist trap you are proposing, I find it extremely tacky that your foundation can insinuate that to be against this project is to be against veterans, when in fact, many of us find the project itself is an affront to those who fought and died for our right to have national parks free of the crass commercialism you propose to bring to the Cape Breton Highlands.
I would like to think that you are also confused about your foundation’s ability to pay for the construction of this thing through public and corporate donations, to the tune of $25 million to $60 million (your cost projections are also confusing). But I realize now, with the backing of prime minister Stephen Harper, that you probably don’t care how much private investment you receive, especially when outgoing deputy prime minister Peter MacKay has referred to the project as a “private-public partnership.” We know all about P3 in Cape Breton; we have a bunch of schools built under that moniker that made for fat paydays to the investment firm that constructed them. Call me naive, but if the “private” investment doesn’t live up to your expectations, we just know the “public” will end up on the hook…again.
Whenever I see the artist’s rendition of what this statue and gift shop will look like, I keep looking to see if the date is April 1st. If the only positive feedback the project creates is from those who are eager to see local construction jobs in the Ingonish area, then maybe it’s time to reconsider the dubious wisdom of ever thinking this was a good idea.
While I have your ear, I have a great alternative project on which you can spend at least $25 million of your (or is it ours?) money. We have an island off our western shore in the Gulf of St. Lawrence called Seawolf Island (known locally as Margaree Island). It is sort of in the shape of a whale. If you constructed a 40-metre tall whale’s tail (I’m not sure of the exact height as it would have to be built to scale) on the north end of the island, and then installed a water cannon on the south end which would shoot a geyser of water into the air periodically, then tourists from all over the world would flock to Cape Breton to see this. The fact that the island is a National Wildlife Area and a breeding ground for the great cormorant, great blue heron, great black-backed gull, herring gull and black guillemot shouldn’t be a problem. If you can build a boondoggle in a national park then I’m pretty sure you have carte blanche to build whatever you want wherever you want. And by turning Margaree Island into a theme park, you can build the Moby Dick Whale Interpretive Centre in Inverness, open the Whale of a Tale Gift Shop, and sell plastic Wally the Whales wearing little tartan hats.
After all, between you and me, it’s all about the money, isn’t it?
“[T]he job Peter MacKay loved the most was never on his business card,” writes Graham Steele. “For nine years, he was the political minister for Nova Scotia. “It was a role he loved, was good at, and played to the hilt.”
Steele goes on to relate his main point of contact with MacKay, the shipbuilding contract, and tells us of the tug-of-war between MacKay and premier Darrell Dexter, each vying for political points:
When the shipbuilding announcement was scheduled, there was some suspicion in Darrell Dexter’s office that it had been deliberately timed for a day he was scheduled to be out of the country. Dexter quietly changed his travel schedule so he was available for the announcement after all — but didn’t tell MacKay’s office, lest they find another way to shut him out.
Steele wasn’t involved in the portfolios, but I’m most interested in two local projects that MacKay was central to — the Washmill Underpass and the Nova Centre. Both were highly politicized, to put it mildly.
Washmill saw cost overruns of $8 million, nearly doubling the price of the project. The underpass was at the very bottom of the city’s 25-year capital project list, but MacKay moved it to the top of the federal stimulus funding list, over the city’s objection. It’s not clear what drove MacKay — Simple patronage for Clayton Developments, which saw the value of its landholdings next to the project increase by tens of millions of dollars? Crass political calculations for the Halifax West federal riding? — but there’s no arguing that MacKay is ultimately responsible for the boondoggle.
The Nova Centre fiasco hasn’t played out yet, but it’s going to be painful to watch the money hole appear beneath it. I’m calling it the Bousquet Full Employment Act — I’ll be detailing the ugly, er, details for the next decade. Already developer Joe Ramia has delayed the completion of Nova Centre by a year, and so the province took a huge reputational hit as it had to reschedule meetings at the convention centre portion of the project. Ramia still hasn’t announced a tenant for the office tower above the convention centre, and it’s increasingly looking like it will be an empty monument to his own ego. Local politicians who supported the Nova Centre can perhaps be excused for being hayseed bumpkins transfixed by the shiny convention centre bobble, but federal ministers are supposed to be more sophisticated than local rubes and should be able to see through such nonsense.
3. Cranky letter of the day
The federal Liberals don’t need “attack ads.” They have the “Liberal” media.
I remember Knowlton Nash on the national news apologizing for the way the media and the CBC treated then prime minister Joe Clark. Nothing has changed except there is nobody left with the class that Knowlton Nash had.
I even remember a Nova Scotian being set up by the “Liberal” media. After 17 catches, he dropped the football the 18th time — a great “Liberal” media photo resulted.
I use a capital L in “Liberal” to highlight political bias.
I get a charge out of columnist Ralph Surette. He would sooner be poked in the eye with a burnt stick than see Stephen Harper get re-elected. An excellent “Liberal” media guy.
Charlie Hendsbee, Hantsport
No public meetings
Standing Committee on Economic Development (9:30am, Room 233A, Johnston Building)—Chris MacDonald, the VP of Government Relations and Industrial Benefit Programs at Irving Shipyard, will give an update on the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy contract.
Hey wait a minute…didn’t Stephen Lund have that job? Well, something like it anyway. I don’t know how I missed it, but Lund got hired as CEO of Opportunities New Brunswick, that province’s counterpart to Nova Scotia Business Inc, which Lund headed before going off to Bermuda to show them how to develop economies and then coming back to work as Chief Bullshitter at Irving.
The economic development gravy train keeps giving.
The Washington Post yesterday had a delightful profile of Andrew Jennings, the “curmudgeonly old” reporter who single-handedly took down FIFA:
If you can’t tell already, Jennings is an advocate of slow, methodical journalism. For half a century, the 71-year-old investigative reporter has been digging into complex, time-consuming stories about organized crime. In the 1980s, it was bad cops, the Thai heroin trade and the Italian mob. In the ’90s, he turned to sports, exposing corruption with the International Olympic Committee.
For the past 15 years, Jennings has focused on the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), international soccer’s governing body. As other journalists were ball watching — reporting scorelines or writing player profiles — Jennings was digging into the dirty deals underpinning the world’s most popular game.
“I know that they are criminal scum, and I’ve known it for years,” he said. “And that is a thoughtful summation. That is not an insult. That is not throwing about wild words.”
“These scum have stolen the people’s sport. They’ve stolen it, the cynical thieving bastards,” he said. “So, yes, it’s nice to see the fear on their faces.”
“I’m a document hound. If I’ve got your documents, I know all about you,” he said. “This journalism business is easy, you know. You just find some disgraceful, disgustingly corrupt people and you work on it! You have to. That’s what we do. The rest of the media gets far too cozy with them. It’s wrong. Your mother told you what was wrong. You know what’s wrong. Our job is to investigate, acquire evidence.”
I’m going to incorporate that last paragraph into a presentation I’m giving this weekend at the Canadian Association of Journalists conference, focusing on media criticism.
In the harbour
Princimar Joy, oil tanker, to anchor, then sails to sea
The cruise ship Maasdam arrives at Pier 22 this morning.
The damn bagpipers on the Dartmouth Common started their screeching at 8:36am today, scaring birds and small children and annoying reporters in the neighbourhood. Eight Thirty-Six. Out of respect for my neighbours, I won’t even start up the lawn mower until after 10, and yet somehow these dudes think it’s OK to intrude on the morning solitude with that ungodly racket while we’re still on our first cup of coffee.