“Federal shipbuilding contracts and offshore oil exploration will boost Nova Scotia’s economy by 2.3 per cent next year, the Conference Board of Canada says,” reports the Chronicle Herald:
The increase in the province’s gross domestic product will follow estimated growth of 1.8 per cent in 2015.
Natalia Ward, economist with the board’s provincial group, said Monday the board is also predicting a 1.7 per cent hike in economic activity in 2017.
“Overall, Nova Scotia is looking at a very sunny outlook, much better than the province has seen just recently,” she said in an interview from Ottawa.
The Conference Board expects Nova Scotia’s manufacturing sector to see “robust gains” in 2016 and 2017, and cites work taking place on the Arctic patrol vessels by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax as a reason behind the optimism.
In 2016, the construction sector should also enjoy good times. The Conference Board says both residential and non-residential investment should see double-digit increases. However, it cautions construction activity should slow in 2017 as several large-scale projects come to an end.
Unfortunately, not much context or analysis is given for the forecast. To begin with, it used to be assumed that the GDP would grow by two percent or so a year, forever, so if the forecast is right, we’re basically getting back to the kind of economic growth we used to take for granted. The Chronicle Herald’s headline calls this “rosy.”
But far more important than the GDP percentage increase is how that growth is distributed. It doesn’t matter if the economy grows by three or five or even 10 percent if all the increased wealth goes to the Irvings and McCains and the average person finds his or her pay not keeping up with inflation — as will be the case for public employees, for example, if the Liberals successfully impose their proposed contracts.
No doubt there will be more people employed because of the shipbuilding contract, and some of those jobs will be better paid than the average job in Halifax. But who are getting the jobs? Are they the people recruited in Scotland or local high school grads learning trades? How are the minority recruitment goals pledged to by Irving playing out?
I’m especially interested in the CBC’s comment about double-digit increases in residential development. Who’s investing that money? I can’t wrap my head around it — it makes no sense to me that Halifax’s meagre population growth can sustain the kind of development we’ve been seeing the past five years. I can’t help but think that much of the money going into residential development is either what Alan Greenspan called “irrational exuberance” (an investment bubble), or money laundering, or outright fraud — probably some combination of all three.
The commercial development boom makes even less sense. The Conference Board recognizes that when the Nova Centre opens in 2017, there will be a complete cessation of office space construction downtown, reminiscent of the development collapse after Purdy’s Wharf opened. Downtown is tremendously overbuilt, albeit there’s probably still money to be made in suburban office buildings.
There’s going to be a day of reckoning, and it won’t be pretty. Expect half-completed buildings rotting in the elements, bankrupted developers, empty and boarded-up office buildings, and wannabe high-end condos turned into instant slums.
But, hey, it’s good while it’s booming. Those construction workers get paid OK, and there’s money sloshing around the real estate world. Good times if you can grab a piece of the action. If not, nobody cares about you anyway.
2. Police body cameras
Yesterday’s police commission meeting agenda included a presentation on the possibility of equipping Halifax police with body cameras, but the presentation was postponed to January due to staff scheduling conflicts.
A lot of people, including many police chiefs (I haven’t spoken with Chief Jean-Michel Blais about them, however), like the idea of body cameras, but they raise privacy issues — not just for the cop wearing a camera, but also for the public generally. Does the cop get to turn the camera off when going to the bathroom? Can he or she have no private conversations at all? Will bureaucrats use the cameras to micromanage employees’ time? What can the public get through the Freedom of Information Act? If I’m stopped and questioned by a cop, does that appear on tomorrow night’s news?
My initial response to body camera proposals is that they’re an attempt to throw technology at a problem that can better be solved with better hiring, improved training, and meaningful citizen oversight. I could change my mind with more information, which is why I’m looking forward to the discussion.
3. Irving v CBC
It’s off the Examiner’s path, but CBC reporter Jacques Poitras is doing great work covering the firing of New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health:
New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health was working on a study of the controversial herbicide glyphosate when she was put on leave, CBC News has learned.
Dr. Eilish Cleary wrote to a Kent County resident in August that her office would be “developing a plan to further explore” the herbicide, which is used in New Brunswick by forestry company J.D. Irving Ltd. and by NB Power.
The Irvings demanded a retraction from the CBC for Poitras’ articles, and the CBC told the company to shove off.
“If you happened to be in the right place at the right time on Sunday night in Nova Scotia, you may have seen two fireballs light up southern skies,” reports David Irish:
Turns out the fireballs weren’t meteors. They were sections of a rocket booster that broke up as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere shortly after its launch in Florida.
1. Pedestrian fines
Amy McLay Paterson wrote The Coast’s “Voice of the City” piece yesterday, about the increased fines on pedestrians.
McLay Peterson does a fine job getting into the issue, but all that aside, she demonstrates a wisdom beyond her (apparent, by her photo) years:
I am a seven-year-old child, racing across the street to catch the school bus.
I am drunk, stumbling home after a party. I am wise enough to leave my car keys, but too forgetful to save money for cab fare.
I am getting older; I’ve always been responsible, but my memory and reaction time are not what they used to be.
I am not myself today—my head is foggy with medication. It’s hard to concentrate, but I can’t afford to take a sick day.
I am distracted. I just had a huge fight with my boyfriend, my grades are in the toilet and I don’t know if I’ll make rent next month.
Sometimes when I discuss the pedestrian issue on Twitter or whatever, someone will respond with something like, “yea, you might be right, you might have the right-of-way, but it doesn’t matter — if you step out into the crosswalk, you’ll get killed by the speeding car, so you’re a dumbass stupid person for not paying attention.”
Which is correct. But it’s the argument of an asshole: “I can destroy you, so it’s your fault if you get in my way.”
It’s good to see McLay Peterson bring some humanity and empathy into the equation. Those who are powerful in whatever way need to look out for those who are less powerful. The rich have an obligation to provide for the poor. The healthy should tend to the disabled. Those driving around machines that can run people over need to look out for those people, slow down and tread with care.
As the comedians say, we either punch up or punch down, and which way we go speaks to our character.
And Derek Simon gets into the details of the increased fines, and explains why they’re overkill.
2. Cranky letter of the day
What justification is there to continue jacking up the price of gas at the pumps while the price of a barrel of oil continues to decline? Would the Utility and Review Board please explain to customers in layman’s terms how it arrives at the price of gas based on a barrel of oil that fluctuates in the $40 range, the lowest in a very long while?
Gerald C. Boudreau, Île Morris
City council (10am, City Hall) — council will spend two hours talking about donairs, then break for lunch. Afterwards, there’s a full agenda. As usual, I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.
Legislature sits (1–6pm, Province House)
This date in history
On December 8, 1917, the first relief train from New England arrived in Halifax, carrying doctors, nurses, and supplies to treat survivors of the Halifax Explosion.
Thesis defence, Biology (9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jose Sergio Hleap Lozano will defend his thesis, “Comparative Quantitative Genetics of Protein Structures: A Composite Approach to Protein Structure Evolution.”
Thesis defence, Chemistry (2:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Joseph Padmos will defend his thesis, “Understanding the Structure of Silver Nanoparticles and its Influence on Surface Reactivity.”
Global Warming and the oceans (2:30pm, Needler Boardroom / Room VS-427, at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth) — Chris Harley, from the University of British Columbia, will be speaking on “Global warming, ocean acidification, and the importance of shifting species interactions in coastal marine ecosystems.” I’ve gotta be at City Hall, but otherwise I’d go to this.
Someone asked me why I sometimes include astronomy photos in Morning File, and I responded “why not?” I dunno, it’s early and I’ve gotta sit in council chambers all day listening to ridiculous people talk about donairs, so a little awe and mind-blowing first thing in the morning reminds me that my tiny spec of the universe is inconsequential in the scheme of things, and that somehow helps get me through the day, ya know? Anyway…
Legends collide in this dramatic vista of land, sea, and sky. The land is Iceland, specifically Vík í Mýrdal, a southern village known for its beautiful black sand beaches. The sea, the Atlantic Ocean, surrounds Reynisdrangar, a sea stack of eroded basaltic rock pillars that Icelandic folklore tells are the petrified remains of trolls once attempting to drag a three-masted ship onto land. Watching from overhead and shining bright on the upper right is the god of the sky, according to Greek mythology: the planet Jupiter. Also visible in the sky are several other Greek legends encapsulated as constellations, including a lion (Leo), a big bear (Ursa Major), and a water snake (Hydra). One might guess that all of this commotion caused the spectacular aurora pictured — but really it was just explosions from the Sun.
Explanatory links and more photos at the NASA site. Best viewed if stoned.
In the harbour
Oceanex Sanderling, St. John’s to Pier 42
Skandi Flora, offshore vessel, to Pier 9
Dalian Express, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove, then sails to sea this afternoon
Dallas Express, container ship, Rotterdam to Fairview Cove; sails to sea tomorrow morning
I hate 10am meetings.