1. Growth, Austerity and the Future of Nova Scotian Prosperity
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives yesterday released a report, “Growth, Austerity and the Future of Nova Scotian Prosperity,” written by labour economist Jordan Brennan.
At 46 pages, the report is a short and easy read, but it completely eviscerates the Liberal government’s austerity agenda. Brennan shatters the public myths that Nova Scotia’s debt load is too large (it’s not especially large, and costs of servicing it are decreasing) and that cutting the government workforce helps address demographic challenges (the opposite is true).
2. Wide open council races
I was curious about some of the wide open council races — races where there is no incumbent councillor running and with lots of candidates — so I went back and took a look at when Jennifer Watts was first elected in 2008.
The incumbent, Sheila Fougere, was running for mayor, so not in the council race. There were seven candidates, including Watts.
Voter turnout was 43.5 per cent, and Watts won with just 1,519 votes, or 32 per cent of the total votes cast. The next highest vote-getter was Glenn Dodge, with 1,125 votes, 23.7 per cent of the total votes cast.
The districts this time around are about 50 per cent larger than in the 2008 election. So I’m thinking that in a wide open contest — like in Dartmouth Centre, Peninsula North, and Clayton Park — a successful candidate can win with as few as 2,000 votes.
There are many factors that go into winning an election — name recognition, the message, advertising… — but I think the most important factor in these districts is organization, especially getting out the vote.
3. Anne Derrick orders that Irving be gently caressed
“Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has been slapped with $50,000 in penalties in connection with an industrial accident at the Halifax Shipyard in January 2014 that seriously injured a worker,” reports Steve Bruce for Local Xpress:
The company was scheduled to go to trial this week in Halifax provincial court on four charges under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act.
But Irving Shipbuilding actually pleaded out on one of the charges several months ago without any media coverage.
The company accepted responsibility for a charge of failing to take every precaution reasonable to ensure health and safety in the workplace.
Judge Anne Derrick accepted a joint sentencing recommendation from lawyers.
She fined Irving Shipbuilding $10,000 and ordered it to make a $40,000 donation to the provincial Labour Department’s public education trust fund.
Come on Bruce, Slapped??? The payment of $50,000 from Irving to the province is 0.017 per cent of the $300 million the province has given Irving. At this rate, the company could seriously injure 5,999 more workers and still break even.
4. Arabic language radio
Halifax has an Arabic language radio station, reports Jennifer Taplin for Metro:
It’s a mix of news, talk and music in Arabic until 7 p.m. and music in 10 ethnic languages until midnight.
“Every day about 20 hours is dedicated to Arabic and on the weekends, it’s all Arabic,” [ad salesperson Oudai] Altabbaa said.
Right now Altabbaa is the only presence in Halifax. They are broadcasting Halifax content from a dedicated space in their Montreal studio but president Tony Karam said this will change.
“We’re working on building a studio and hiring local hosts and journalists, hopefully before the end of the year,” Karam said.
The station is CHHU, at 99.1 FM.
1. Carbon tax
“There are many good reasons why the provincial government should be getting on with devising a made in Nova Scotia carbon pricing plan,” writes Richard Starr:
However, such rationale has little weight with the Liberals for one simple reason – fear of raising gasoline prices. McNeil himself has made that concern very clear. Interviewed by ATV’s Steve Murphy last Tuesday from a farmer’s field at Greenwich in the Annapolis Valley, McNeil returned several times to the impact that a carbon levy would have on the price paid at the pump by rural residents. According to the Premier, to get anywhere in rural Nova Scotia you need to drive, and when the price of gas goes up you have no choice but to raid one part of your household budget to pay your higher gas bill.
This boilerplate response ignores a couple of things. First off, the carbon-pricing plan can be designed so that low income households receive rebates to offset the carbon levy. Secondly, the more affluent could choose to offset the tax by driving a little less or trading in the 4X4 gas guzzler for something more efficient.
But those considerations are probably not going to move the McNeil Liberals either. Gas prices have been their signature issue, dating back to the days when they were the rurally-based third party in the legislature, desperate for attention. In those days they would occasionally grab a headline with their crusade against the gasoline tax and gas price regulation (which they disingenuously linked with higher gas prices). In power, the Liberals have failed to follow through, leaving in place the tax and regulatory regime they railed against in opposition. Any move by the McNeil Liberals now to increase the tax on gasoline would carry for them the additional downside of broken promises on gas prices.
So at least until after the next provincial election we should expect the Liberals to change the subject when carbon pricing comes up. To protect their rural base they will ignore calls from the left to craft a progressive carbon pricing plan. And to limit the size of the disturbance in the Liberal universe they will reject demands from the Baillie Conservatives to mount a Wall-like stand against a federally-imposed regime. Fancy footwork may be required.
2. Cranky letter of the day
Monday marked the administrative end of filing an official complaint regarding an issue of racism. It commenced with the ethical issue of standing by, knowing an elected official should be held accountable, or pursuing it knowing the damaging image it would bring to our community.
Considering the onslaught of social media and not so private rumours, a decision was made that a complaint would bring clarity. In fact, it allows for the people involved to heard in a fair manner.
Rumours and innuendoes create deep wounds amongst victims whose attackers are often vicious. There must be a process with a duty to act fairly inclusive of people’s right to be heard before judgment. To do otherwise is plain cowardly.
What one can not understand going into such a fray is how the issue at hand can be so greatly magnified by the groundbreaking legislative and administrative hurdles due to an absence of jurisprudence with such matters. The administrative delays were frustrating to say the least. The disrespectful social media, private and public behaviours by members of our community and many from afar remain worrisome.
As the person making the complaint there is an strong sense of disappointment of persons who normally embrace a positive community suddenly distancing themselves. The hate mail…thankful it has a unique basket to be filed in.
In stark contrast, personal support and encouragement is heartfelt from family, friends and even the most unexpected persons. At the end of the day one never embraces the sense of being alone.
A decision has finally been rendered. The elected official was deemed to have breached a code of conduct pertaining to the police commission. The corrective action included a reprimand and 90-day suspension from the police commission.
Many procedural processes were learned by the community. Such was especially the case for those persons, who quite frankly did not sign up for such situations, but had the courage to act when required.
We live in a great, caring and giving community. Our future is bright. It is now a time to heal. There are many new lessons learned. It’s a time to move forward knowing that our community has the courage to stand in the way of public officials who disrespect others, be it from carelessness or intent.
The standard has been set in that a “Positive Amherst” is one where you can question challenges to our respect for diversity without fear. It has also been clarified that there are accountability mechanisms for elected municipal officials.
Hal Davidson, Amherst
Note: Hal Davidson is the Amherst man who filed a complaint against councillor George Baker, who subsequently admitted to using a racial slur in a restaurant.
Design Review Committee (4pm, City Hall) — the committee will look at a development proposal for the corner of Hollis and Bishop Streets. Here’s the current Google Street View of the site:
And here’s the architect’s rendering of the development proposal:
Never mind the ghost building up above: the power lines will not, of course, be placed underground, nor will the city allow two one-way streets be un-signed. But the real problem with this rendering is that the building will apparently be built on a planet with two suns. Notice how there’s a late afternoon sun that casts the shadow of the buildings on the west side of the street eastward, right to the curb line across the street, such that the proposed building is in full sunlight and in stark contrast. And yet, there is a second sun, a morning sun, that casts a shadow of the tree on the northeast corner of the intersection (a large tree actually exists at that spot) into the intersection — that is, westward. The beret-wearing woman, who appears to be standing in the middle of the street, gets the benefit of both suns, as her face and (importantly!) her breasts cast no shadow at all.
I also hope buddy picks up his dog’s crap.
Legislature sits (10am, Province House) — Pomp! Circumstance!
Hungry Listening (12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Dylan Robinson, from Queen’s University, presents his current research project, “Against Hungry Listening,” which documents the history of contemporary Indigenous public art across North America.
Heritage (12:30pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building, 5410 Spring Garden Road) — Phil Pacey from Heritage Trust will speak on “Critical Heritage Issues in Halifax in 2016”:
Note, 10am: Due to illness, this talk has been cancelled.
Halifax is an historic city, with hundreds of works of architecture worth keeping. Current examples are the Granville Street National Historic Site, the Dennis Building across from Province House, and the proposed Old South Suburb conservation district, which includes 44 registered heritage properties and 4 national historic sites. The desire for private profit and several urban myths are making protection difficult. The policies that protect historic neighbourhoods need to be retained in the Regional Centre Plan.
Cetacean cognition (3:30pm, Biology 5th floor lounge in the Life Sciences Centre)— Lori Marino will speak on “Learning About Intelligence from Cetaceans.”
Story Activism (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Mary Alice Arthur will speak on “Take Back the Power of Your Story: Story Activism for the 21st Century.”
Mini Medical School (7pm, Theatre B, 5850 College Street) — Lisa Barrett and Todd Hatchette will speak on “Hepatitis” and “Viral Illnesses,” respectively.
In the harbour
7am: Veendam, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney with up to 1,350 passengers
8am: Carnival Pride, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint John with up to 2,549 passengers; the Pride was diverted from a Caribbean cruise because of Hurricane Matthew
9am: NYK Daedalus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
9:45am: Regal Princess, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 4,271 passengers
10:30am: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 23 from Bar Harbor with up to 540 passengers
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
Noon: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
3:30pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
3:30pm: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
6mp: Carnival Pride, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea
6:30pm: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Charlottetown
7:30pm: Regal Princess, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
9:30pm: NYK Daedalus, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
5:30am: Splendid Ace, arrives at Autoport from Bremerhaven, Germany
6:45am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 2,580 passengers
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
10:30am: AIDAdiva, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Boston with up to 2,050 passengers
6:30pm: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Boston
7:30pm: AIDAdiva, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Quebec
8:30pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
Deep thought: Donald Trump is a cross between Rob Ford and Jian Ghomeshi. And not to be ghoulish, but I might put a few chips on the “dies from an overdose before the election” square.
Please consider subscribing to the Examiner. Just $5 or $10 a month goes a long way. Or, consider making a one-time contribution via PayPal. Thanks much!