1. Cannabis in liquor stores
The McNeil government yesterday released its cannabis policy:
These decisions follow the federal government’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis by July 2018.
The key policy decisions on cannabis are:
— a legal age of 19 for use, purchase and possession
— distribution and sales will be online and in existing Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) stores. The number of locations is not yet determined
Federal legislation outlining the following restrictions is accepted by the province:
— a personal possession limit of up to 30 grams
— a personal cultivation limit of up to four plants per household
— the establishment of provincial penalties for youth possession of up to five grams
The announcement was largely panned on social media, where the near-consensus appears to be that NSLC doesn’t know the first thing about cannabis, and will over-price it, limit the variety of strains, and otherwise muck up the quality and distribution of the cannabis it provides.
The announcement also seems to go against federal guidelines that call for separating alcohol and cannabis sales.
A question I haven’t seen addressed is: What kind of capital costs will be required to get the liquor stores up to speed on cannabis? It’s not just a few shelves and signs — it requires an entire distribution chain, from warehouses to trucks to refrigeration to… I don’t know what all, but it won’t be cheap. Whatever that cost, it will add to the provincial debt. And then there’s the additional operating costs of hiring new managers, training employees, creating loss and theft prevention procedures… which in the initial year anyway will reduce operating profits. (Down the road, of course, profits will soar, but we’re dealing with a provincial government that is hyper-focused on this year’s debt and budget.)
At least the jobs will be unionized.
I’m told the NSLC has sent a memo to employees saying that if employees don’t want to sell weed they can find a job somewhere else.
The general sense is that the province’s plan will ensure that the black market in cannabis will continue to thrive.
Chris Enns, who’s gotten a haircut, tells the Chronicle Herald that the NSLC monopoly on cannabis won’t cause him to close his business:
“I’ve had no less than half a dozen individuals call me this morning literally in tears, worried I was going to shut down or be shut down by these new regulations and that they wouldn’t have a source for their medicine anymore,” said Enns, owner of Farm Assists Medical Cannabis Resource Centre, in an interview Thursday.
“I assured them that we will still continue to be open, that the charter under section 7 continues to provide for our right to provide them the medicine they need and that we look forward to continuing to help them going forward.”
We’re focusing today’s Examineradio podcast on this issue.
2. Civil servant salaries
“Arbitrators have awarded a seven per cent wage hike to Nova Scotia civil servants over six years, in a decision the premier says is within the province’s means despite his prior, high-profile battles to impose salary restraint,” reports Michael Tutton for the Canadian Press:
The Liberal government has made control of public sector salaries and benefits one of its trademark political positions in recent years.
Earlier this year, it proclaimed Bill 148 to limit wage increases to three per cent over four years. Public sector unions complained the legislation, which remains in place, was illegal and unfair.
However, McNeil said he was pleased to accept the arbitration panel’s decision that appears to work around the legislation by tacking on two per cent increases in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
The three per cent increase over four years (from 2015-16 to 2018-19) was an effective pay cut of around five per cent, because inflation runs at about two per cent annually. So in effect, what’s happened is the McNeil government has reset salaries at a lower rate, and thanks to the arbitration decision, that lower rate is the new normal, moving forward at about the rate of inflation for the next two years. Workers won’t see any further decrease in the purchasing power of their paycheques.
Both the McNeil government and the NSGEU are claiming victory, reports Paul Withers for the CBC:
McNeil called it is a fair deal that his government can afford.
“Let’s not kid ourselves: without the challenges that we faced, without having these tough conversations, we would have had a very different scenario in my view,” he told reporters Thursday.
“This was important. It’s fair, it’s balanced, it respects all taxpayers. At the same time, it respects those who work on behalf of all taxpayers.”
The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) said the decision “breaks” Bill 148, the government law that capped wages in the public sector.
Union president Jason MacLean said the decision proves government cannot impose wages on its employees.
“It’s not necessarily in the government’s hands. I think that was proven today,” he told CBC News. “People can’t be dictated to; processes need to work themselves out.”
3. Still no convention centre lease
“The provincial government still has not finalized a lease for the new convention centre in downtown Halifax, even though the massive development is scheduled to open next week,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:
But while the doors on the convention centre are about to spring open, Infrastructure Minister Lloyd Hines confirmed Thursday it would likely not be until the end of January before a lease for the site is complete and ready to be made public.
“It is subject to substantial completion,” Hines told reporters following the government’s semi-regular cabinet meeting.
Substantial completion doesn’t reflect whether the site is actually able to open, but whether it’s complete to the level of specification the government requires before signing off on the project.
“There are some administrative details that are waiting on the substantial completion,” said Hines.
Those details include agreeing with the developer on an interest rate and long-term financing for the project. Taxpayers will spend $169.2 million on the project over the life of a 25-year lease. Upon substantial completion, the developer is owed $51.4 million. The balance is paid out over the life of the lease. The interest rate will not be established until the day the lease is signed.
4. Black in Halifax
Metro concludes its week-long “Black in Halifax” series today. Reporter Yvette d’Entremont profiles Kardeisha Provo, a 17-year-old East Preston high school student who runs a YouTube channel promoting the community:
“I wanted to showcase that there is good that comes out of North Preston and there is good in North Preston, and I wanted community members to feel involved in the process and to know that what they’re doing doesn’t go unnoticed by the rest of us,” Provo said.
“I felt the need was there because we were continuing to look down on ourselves, based on how other people look at us. I found that it was important to try to find a way to shift that a little bit, shift our minds.”
d’Entremont also profiles Josh Creighton, a 19-year-old Dalhousie student who is a cofounder of the North-End Community Action Committee:
The youth-led initiative’s goal is to assure that “the voices and concerns of Black youth, marginalized communities and North-End residents get addressed, with the overall objective of empowering Black youth to better the communities they live in.” The society organizes a number of community engagement initiatives — the Creighton Street painting project, for example — and has a mentorship program.
And Jayde Tynes interviews three people — Sarah Poko, iZrEAL Jones, and Rebecca Alleyne J.D. — about the experiences, challenges, and rewards they faced as young Black people moving to Halifax.
“A change in policy halfway around the world means plastic bags that are supposed to be recycled — according to Nova Scotia law — could end up in a landfill,” report Nina Corfu and Moira Donovan for the CBC:
Film plastics — such as plastic wrap, shopping bags and bread bags — are piling up at Halifax’s material recovery facility in Bayers Lake Business Park because China is no longer importing the material and city officials can’t find anybody else to recycle it.
In July, China notified the World Trade Organization it would stop accepting shipments of waste plastic, paper and other materials by the end of 2017 due to environmental and health concerns.
In August, the company that does recycling for Halifax, Miller Waste Systems Inc., sent a letter to Nova Scotia’s Environment Department requesting special permission to throw its stockpile of plastics into a landfill.
The province responded that the landfill had to ask for permission, Keliher said, so GFL Environmental Inc., which runs a private landfill in West Hants, made the request.
6. Environmentalist threatens a bunch of people
“A Colchester County environmental activist has pleaded guilty to a charge of engaging in conduct that intimidated former provincial energy minister Michel Samson,” reports Steve Bruce for the Chronicle Herald:
Douglas Addison Neil, 55, of Bible Hill entered the single guilty plea Wednesday in Halifax provincial court rather than go to trial on three charges involving Samson.
Neil was opposed to the government’s controversial decisions to allow a tidal turbine to be installed in the Minas Basin and natural gas to be stored in underground caverns near Alton, Colchester County.
In Facebook posts, Neil said Samson and Premier Stephen McNeil would be kidnapped on Christmas Eve and held until the turbine was removed.
Neil also mentioned going to Samson’s home church to preach to the congregation about the minister’s decisions.
I don’t know if these are the posts in question or not, but on November 25, 2015, Neil posted on Facebook:
I’m coming to kick you in the ass Minister Samsonite Baggage…… for being corrupt. ……and a negligent energy strategy…..
I’m coming Christmas carolling to your house Samsonsite …..have a lump of cash in a big bag ready. For my consulting fee showing you to donate the rest….tell Premier Dribbler and Spiller Miller be ready too …three ghosts of Christmas past can explain things for you.
.Shut down the tidal turbines ,…. shut down the gas caverns … announce these before Christmas along with the school solar program for schools and take the yearly savings on power and heat and pay to educate our children so they don’t get dumbed down like you Samsonite….and build clean energy…, otherwise EXPECT a visit from the Ghosts of Christmas Past…
I don’t see any threat to actual kidnap Samson (maybe it’s been taken down), but two days before, Neil threatened to send “hit teams” to “WACK” (sic) the executives and board of directors at Nova Scotia Power (Neil posted a list of their names):
…EMERA…NSP executives…corrupt …misrepresentation of costs to the UARB….dirty work for the oiligarchy……..what is needed…. hit teams…in and out…grab the executives….hold them for ransom…. and hold em until the tidal turbines with 50 cents kwhr subsidy come out, and the Salt caverns dismantled, and they agree to 100% clean energy grid in NS by 2030,,,, doabke on all levels…democracy is no longer democracy…we live under corrupt lies…truly fascism…but they won’t be honest and admit it…they just pay public relations writers to feed us the bullshit and lies….load the torpedos on the boats……we may simply need to WACK them…they are too evil to stop killing our kids with pollution…so WACK them…..unless the RCMP will get to work and arrest the corrupt politicians and executives for spreading toxic pollution…oil and gas huggers.
IPLN to collect it from ypu Samson, and Premier Steve…and Miller, and Tim Church, and Karen White and Brice Cameron…and Janet at Nationsl PR ….and the execs at NS Power, and the execs at AltaGas too….and maybe more….but you benn fuckin warned….if you let the brine flow…..I will GO OFfGrid…and hunt your fuckin asses down..
Er, don’t do that.
No public meetings.
Thesis Defence, College of Pharmacy (Friday, 9am, Room C266, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Masters student Nicholas Relja will defend his thesis, “Study of Jadomycin Pharmacokinetics and Anti-Breast Cancer Activity in BALB/C Mice.”
Chemical Synthesis of Bioactive Molecules (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Andrei Yudin from the University of Toronto will speak.
12th Portia While Gala Concert (Friday, 7:30pm, Faith Tabernacle, 6225 Summit Street, Halifax) — featuring the Dalhousie Health Professions Chorale and the Sackville Concert Band. Tickets $15. Info here.
In the harbour
7:20am: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
11am: Skogafoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11:30am: Salarium, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Saint John
2pm: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
I had a technical glitch that freaked me out this morning, but it’s all good now.