One of the stories I think the Examiner has covered best recently is the Northern Pulp saga.
As Joan Baxter pointed out last week, deadlines are looming — both the December 17 deadline for the Department of Environment’s decision on the environmental assessment for the proposed pipe, and the January 31 deadline for Northern Pulp to stop dumping effluent in Boat Harbour.
The next few weeks will be interesting. Will Environment Minister Gordon Wilson OK the effluent treatment facility/pipe into the Northumberland Strait project despite significant environmental concerns? Will Stephen McNeil reconvene the legislature to delay the effective date of the Boat Harbour Act? Will Northern Pulp simply close shop, leaving the province high and dry for $80 million + in unpaid loans? Or will the Boat Harbour Act simply be ignored? (On that last, the legislation says merely that the dumping of mill effluent into Boat Harbour “must cease,” but doesn’t lay out any penalties should Northern Pulp ignore the law.)
With so much in the air, this is a good time for a primer for all things Northern Pulp, and there’s no better place to start than Linda Pannozzo’s four-part “Dirty Dealing” series:
Dirty Dealing Part 2: Wading Through the Quagmire of Northern Pulp’s Fast-tracked Environmental Assessment
Dirty Dealing Part 4: Message Control and the Northern Pulp Mill’s Cancer-Causing Air Emissions
We’ve taken the entire series out from behind the paywall so everyone can read it, but that paywall — i.e., subscriptions — is how we pay for this work.
Pannozzo and the other Examiner writers don’t (and shouldn’t) work for free. And the other costs of running a media operation, even a small one like the Examiner, are significant. We have administrative, legal, insurance, technical, and research costs.
I’m watching the local news media scene with considerable dismay. The closure of the Star Halifax is just the last in a long list of staff reductions, layoffs, shut-downs, and strikes that have devastated, and continue to devastate, local news in Halifax.
That devastation is a direct consequence of a broken business model: Advertising can no longer support local news. It just can’t, period. And so advertising-supported local news is collapsing everywhere.
The Examiner was started with a subscriber-supported business model precisely because I knew advertising wouldn’t work. In the five years and five months since then, we’ve done reasonably well, adding more freelancers when we could, extending the range of coverage considerably (for example, with our Northern Pulp and mining coverage), and spending the money to take on big projects like the Glen Assoun wrongful conviction.
I’d like to continue that expansion, bringing on more reporters and deepening the Examiner’s coverage. But that won’t happen without more subscribers. And that means that readers will have to understand that the local news coverage they want won’t come without their direct financial contribution — that is, a subscription. That days of “free” local news are over.
But you know that already.
This is the last day I’ll be pestering you about our November subscription drive. In December and into next year, the Examiner will continue to soldier on. We’ll cover what we can with what resources are at hand, but as other media outlets collapse and contract around us, total news coverage will be wanting. Stories will go untold. Crimes and corruption will go unnoted, and therefore will continue apace. You’ll be less informed.
We can buck that trend a bit. Maybe hire more freelancers, or maybe even a full-time reporter. But we can’t increase our efforts without your direct financial investment into local news. Over 90% of the people reading these words right now are not subscribers. It’s time for that 90% to step up to the plate. If just 10% of that 90% subscribed, we could afford two new full-time reporters. If all of them subscribed, we’d have one of the largest news staffs in Halifax.
On a lighter note, come to our party!
Join us this Sunday, December 1, 4-7pm at Bearly’s (1269 Barrington Street). Entry is free for all subscribers. If you’re not a subscriber already, you can click here to subscribe or purchase a subscription at the event.
1. Street check apology
Today, Halifax Police Chief Dan Kinsella will apologize to the African Nova Scotian community for street checks, writes El Jones:
The apology comes after the police initially rejected calls to apologize. The Halifax Board of Police Commissioners prepared a statement at their April 15th meeting asking both the RCMP and the Halifax Regional Police to apologize for the street check policy. In May, both forces said they would not be apologizing. After the Independent Legal Opinion was submitted in October determining that street checks are illegal, Kinsella decided to apologize. The RCMP is still not apologizing.
Before and after Friday, the community and media will be caught up in the wording of the apology, whether we are happy with the apology, and whether we accept the apology or not. All of this is happening on the terms of the police. Let us not forget that they refused to apologize, then changed their minds, and yet we are expected to show up when they finally feel like it.
Relatedly, Jones made a “Street Check Apology” Bingo card for today’s proceedings:
Jennifer Henderson wrote this item.
Premier McNeil’s travels in China meant yesterday was the first time in three weeks cabinet ministers and the premier met to discuss government business. What is normally a weekly meeting provides a brief opportunity for journalists to ask questions of ministers responsible for departments such as Health and Environment as they exit the closed-door cabinet meeting. Communications advisors lean on journalists to provide the “topics” they intend to ask questions about so staff can brief or prepare the minister before he/she is scrummed. Here is a brief synopsis.
NOT HAPPENING: The Examiner asked Tourism and Business Minister Geoff MacLellan for the province’s position on adding a new tax to rental cars and increasing the hotel room tax from 2-4 % to contribute $3-4 million annual revenue to Schooner Sports Entertainment to construct a football stadium. Those details are contained in the SSE proposal that went to HRM Council the end of August. MacLellan said the province has no position on the subject and has not even discussed it because the Business Department has yet to receive a formal request from SSE.
“The temperature of the public is important on this and the mayor and council have some big decisions to make,” noted MacLellan. “As someone who has been following this closely, it’s going to come to a head in December. But until HRM do their diligence on this, we will be on standby.”
HAPPENING: Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Lloyd Hines reports he has received an invoice for $2 million from the two companies that managed to extricate the tangled crane that toppled during tropical storm Dorian onto a high-rise under construction by developer Wadih Fares. Hines says the province intends to get that money back for taxpayers and is currently assessing which companies are liable so the government can negotiate or pursue a lawsuit to recover the $2 million it has paid out.
“Our role was to step in and do something that had to be done,” said Minister Hines. “I’m proud of the government for doing it; we got it done. And now we need to figure out how to recover back the money we spent.”
HAPPENING: The province received a completed report from the Restorative Inquiry that heard from some of the victims of physical and sexual abuse which took place over decades at an orphanage known as the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. Six years ago Premier McNeil apologized to the victims for neglect by Community Services; the RCMP has also apologized for failing to act. The Inquiry proposes a Youth Commission be set up to offer a place children and families at risk may turn for support in the future.
“It’s a day I’ve been waiting for since October 8, 2013 when I began my journey as Premier,” said Stephen McNeil. “I made a commitment to the children of that Home that their voices would be heard and today’s the day their voices are being heard.”
NOT HAPPENING: Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said he “would prefer not to make specific comments” on a report released Monday by the Ecology Action Centre that offers concrete suggestions for moving at a faster pace to reduce the province’s carbon emissions. Nova Scotia Power and the province intend to burn coal to produce electricity as late as 2040. Coal still generates half the province’s electricity.
The EAC wants to move to 90% renewable sources by 2030. The environmental group suggests doubling the amount of wind generation, adding 5% solar generation, and investing hundreds of millions of dollars through Efficiency Nova Scotia to install heat pumps in homes and businesses that could significantly reduce the demand for electricity as well as the rising bills consumers pay for baseboard heating and hot water. Wilson promised to include the EAC report as part of the government’s Roundtable discussions to develop a Climate Change policy expected sometime next year.
“The EAC report is one of many pieces of information that will help guide us,” said Minister Wilson. The Environment Minister rarely has much to say in response to one of the most critical challenges of our time.
HAPPENING: The 1,270 responses the Department of Business received to its on-line survey this month on what type of regulation is needed for AirBnB and short-term rental accommodations that appear to be affecting the supply of housing available for residents. Minister Geoff MacLellan has promised to introduce some type of regulations next spring.
NOT HAPPENING: This will be the second Christmas Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig will spend in a Chinese jail after being arrested and accused of spying in what appears to be retaliation by China. The two Canadians were scooped up and detained just 10 days following the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a top Huawei executive, in British Columbia as part of an extradition request from the United States. Premier McNeil was asked by journalists if he had raised the issue of the two imprisoned Canadians with Chinese political leaders during his two-week trip.
“That issue was raised by Canadian consul-general Bennington in meetings that I was in with Governor Ma,” said the Premier. “It was raised by her in those meetings; she is the national government’s voice in the room. We continued to support her effort, at the same time building our relationship with the governor and the province (Guangdong).”
Allnovscotia.com reporter Brian Flinn: “When it was raised, did you speak up in favour?”
“As I have said every time I have been there, citizens of both China and Canada need to feel when they go into each other’s country that they will not be detained and are able to move about safely and freely.”
4. Police cars
Mary Campbell is doing important civic journalism at the Cape Breton Spectator, this week with regards to police cars:
I’ve been wondering about the CBRPS vehicles for some time now — it started with curiosity about the force’s need for pickup trucks then expanded to the rest of the fleet when the intra-force collisions began in August. My first step was to request a list of the makes and models of vehicles operated by the CBRPS. The response I received from CBRM Police and Fleet was:
The CB Regional Police fleet is comprised of 120 vehicles.
We are unable to provide the specifics of the vehicles, in order to mitigate public safety and officer safety.
As I pointed out last week, this might make sense in terms of the force’s unmarked vehicles, but it can hardly apply to the vehicles that say “Cape Breton Regional Police” on the side. I requested a break-down of the makes and models of the marked vehicles. I have yet to receive a response.
But it occurred to me that the CBRM has to put the purchase of police vehicles out to tender, so I could get a sense of what vehicles the force is driving (and how much we pay for them) by looking at the tender documents posted on the provincial procurement site. These only go back to 2012, but when the powers that be are as secretive as those in Nova Scotia, you take what you can get.
I’ve made a table with all the information I could glean from the procurement documents….
As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
5. Age of consent
The Star has a click-baity headline for the Ask Ellie column: “I’m 48 and hesitant to bring my 19-year-old wife to the office party,” and the question is as horrible as you’d guess. (Do they make these questions up? I dunno.) But Ellie drops this line:
Your wife at 19 now, was the legal age to marry months ago at 18, anywhere in North America except for Nebraska, the one state that sets the age of majority at 19.
This is incorrect. (You’d think Ellie or her editors could use the google machine….) The age of majority in Nova Scotia (and British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon) is 19, which means that 18-year-olds in Nova Scotia cannot marry without their parents’ consent.
Likewise, they cannot legally sign leases and other legal contracts, although I’m certain that in this university town there are scads of landlords who have signed leases with 18-year-olds and not their parents.
Lowering the age of majority to 18 makes sense, but the one place it would have the biggest effect is child support payments between divorced parents.
“Last August we spent a couple of days with friends at their cottage on the Northumberland Strait,” writes Stephen Archibald:
One day, when out sampling the delights along that coast, they suggested a stop at the bookstore in River John, operated by much loved children’s author Sheree Fitch. I assumed the shop was in town, but we headed into a maze of back roads, making me wonder if our hosts were lost. Then, on a dirt road lined with old trees, we came upon a collection of barns and sheds decorated with fanciful embellishments: Mabel Murple’s World.
There were animals to observe, and the bookstore was perfect, but the house of Mabel Murple (one of Sheree’s characters, who aggressively inhabits a purple world) is really all I photographed. It is out-purple-standing.
The website proclaims: “when you visit Mabel Murple’s, our dreamery is your dreamery.” I got that, and I’m sure you would too.
No public meetings.
Noon Hour Composition Recital (Friday, 11;45pm, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with students of Jerome Blais and Peter Togni.
Institutional Violence and Disability Memorials (Friday, 12:30pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Linda Steele from the University of Wollongong, Australia, will talk.
New Strategies for the Synthesis of Carbohydrate and Nucleoside Analogues and a New Family of 18F‑Labelled Amino Acids for Oncological PET Imaging (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Robert A. Britton from Simon Fraser University will talk.
Thesis Defence, Science (Friday, 1:30pm, Milligan Room, Life Sciences Centre) — Peter J. Regan will defend “Structural Evolution of the Twelve Mile Bay Shear Zone, Grenville Province, Ontario, Canada.”
Infant food insecurity in Canada: The breastfeeding paradox, politics of infant food charity, and second-hand baby food environments (Friday, 2:30pm, Room 1119, Marion McCain Building) — Lesley Frank from Acadia University will talk.
Pradyumna: Lover, Magician and Scion of the Avatara (Friday,12pm, MM335 ) — Christopher Austin from Dalhousie will talk. More info here.
Preventing the Use of Child Soldiers: Strategies for Long-term Change (Friday, 12pm, Loyola 187) — Catherine Baillie Abidi, Director of Training, Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative will talk. More info here.
In the harbour
06:00: Hansa Meersburg, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
10:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
14:30: Burin Sea, offshore supply ship, moves from Old Coast Guard Base to Irving Oil
16:00: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
21:00: Atlantic Sea sails for Liverpool, England
22:30: Ef Ava, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Portland
T, G, I, and F.