1. Wrong Harbour
Yesterday morning, Allison Sparling, a Haligonian in (temporary) exile in Toronto, alerted us to a video Prime Minister Stephen Harper had posted on his Facebook page Tuesday. The video celebrates the cutting of steel at Irving Shipyard in Halifax, which is beginning work on the Arctic Patrol vessels. The shipbuilding contract is going to bring prosperity forever, amen, and Harper wanted to earn some political points, maybe thinking Halifax Conservative candidate Irvine Carvery will oust the sitting MP, the socialist, anti-protect the Arctic, prosperity opponent Megan Leslie.
In the video, Harper seems to suggest that he’s standing along the shores of Halifax Harbour, and there’s a lovely bridge behind him that looks vaguely like the McKay Bridge, if you don’t scrutinize it closely. But, Sparling pointed out, that isn’t Halifax.
So a bunch of us on Twitter had a grand time yesterday morning making jokes about the video and trying to figure out where exactly Harper was, and Scott McMillan (or maybe @ halflockofoppo) finally figured out that that’s the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge, which spans the St. Lawrence seaway. That bridge is the closest “looks vaguely like the McKay” bridge to Ottawa, a 50-minute drive from 24 Sussex — 40 minutes if you’re too important to get a speeding ticket. Presumably, or hopefully anyway, Prescott, Ontario will never be in need of protection by Arctic patrol boats.
I feared the Conservatives would be embarrassed and take the video down, so I loaded it up to YouTube for all posterity. The Conservatives apparently aren’t embarrassed, however, and it still sits on Harper’s Facebook page, albeit not in shareable mode.
All of this was just goofing around on Twitter, but by yesterday afternoon the Chronicle Herald’s new Ottawa Bureau reporter, Andrea Gunn, had turned the whole thing into a big long article with phone calls and quotes and so forth. Somehow, tho, Gunn forgot to mention Sparling, or the Twitter conversation, or McMillan’s detective work. She did, however, post the video I had uploaded to YouTube in her article, so today the Halifax Examiner YouTube channel sits in the middle of a Chronicle Herald article.
2. Legionnaire’s disease
“A fifth case of Legionnaires’ disease is being investigated at an apartment building in Dartmouth,” reports the CBC. The building has been identified as 1 Alderney Drive, the seniors’ complex next to the Dartmouth Common.
Nova Scotia gets “two or three” cases of Legionnaire’s disease each year, explains the ceeb, and it is fatal in about 15 per cent of cases:
Since legionella lives in water and is contracted by breathing in water mist, [Nova Scotia’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Gaynor] Watson-Creed says tenants have been told to keep certain appliances off.
“Shower heads, air conditioning units, maybe humidifiers in the unit. So, we’ve asked people to turn those things off if they can. Those people who prefer to shower we’ve asked to bathe, if they can instead,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Health Authority has issued a tender for “four (4) litre bottles/containers of water, tested and certified free of Legionella spp bacteria for immunocompromised patients.” The closing date for the tender isn’t until September 22, so I’m not sure what good the bottles will do for the residents of 1 Alderney Drive.
Twenty-five investors headed by Don Mills are forming a new professional basketball team for Halifax, filling the gap left when the Rainmen crashed and burned. Mills announced that the investors have hired former Rainmen owner Andre Levingston to manage the new operation, reports CTV:
The team’s name has not been chosen, but it will not be the Rainmen or the Windjammers – the name of the city’s first pro-basketball team.
“It will be a new name, because we want a fresh start, we need a fresh start,” says Mills.
4. Stephen Tynes
I incorrectly wrote that there was not a mental health evaluation of Stephen Tynes before he was released. There was. It is in the court file, but is sealed so no one besides the judge can see it.
Chronicle Herald reporter Sherri Borden Colley, who wrote the initial article about Tynes, even reported as much in her story. Mea culpa.
1. Fuel shortage
The government has sent mixed messages through this week’s fuel shortage, writes Graham Steele:
In the face of an unanticipated crisis, the government really doesn’t know what to do. In the very process of trying to reassure Nova Scotians that it’s doing something, it acknowledges that future gasoline shortages are possible.
2. Cranky letter of the day
If the CEO of the Sydney Area Chamber of Commerce, Adrian White, is not attacking workers, he is attacking councilmen.
I find it strange why this group allows its CEO to continue his outrageous behaviour that can only lead to further divide what little respect and confidence the people had for this group.
Is this the type of media coverage the the Chamber of Commerce desires?
But I want to take this time to address a more serious issue that I have with White’s comments, that were both misleading and factually wrong.
The Kameron Collieries is owned by billionaire Chris Cline, who indeed runs many non-union coal operations in the United States, and it appears to me that he does so by exploiting the poor regions and contracting work out to many smaller contractors, thus keeping them non union and paying sub standard wages, while ignoring safety concerns.
There appears to be no job security in their mines in the U.S. and their ruthless pace of production, coupled with their disregard for basic safety creates a state of imminent danger for miners. For example, according to records available online, their mine MC#1 has been cited for over 170 significant and substantial violations under MSHA’s guidelines in the last year.
This is more than three times the threshold of violations and five times the National average for mines of similar size and type.
According to these same records, since January the MC#1 mine has been cited over 300 times for safety violations. So for White, and in extension the Board of Commerce, to say “the Cline Group have a solid history of safely operating non-union coal mines throughout the USA,” is not only misleading but a disturbing distortion of the truth.
I don’t know why White seems to think that falsely promoting and reporting the safety record of this company is of a benefit to our area but in doing so, I think he is doing a grave damage to the reputation of the Chamber of Commerce as well as the potential health and safety of the workers of the Donkin Mine.
And by the way, whether or not this mine will be unionized will be the exclusive and sole right of the workers, not White or the anti-union company Kameron Collieries, aka the Cline Group.
D. Victor Tomiczek, Dominion
No public meetings.
Centennial Arena is getting a new Zamboni.
No public meetings.
Yesterday, I posted the Draft Action Plans created by some cabal of insiders at One NS, and asked readers to give them a once-over and send me their thoughts. Some reactions:
John Wesley Chisholm:
I read the New Deal For Youth in detail. Except for the catchy slogan it’s a bunch of confusing crap.
“New Deal for Youth” was also the original title for the most recent IPCC report.
The report on our “Ocean Advantage” pretty clearly lays out that Nova Scotia’s chances of limiting exploration and extraction of fossil fuels (a recommendation of the above mentioned IPCC report) have been completely thrown to the wayside, or covered in a pile of drool after thinking about the potential royalties.
The plan for tidal energy exists but is convoluted when compared to the “explore, drill, PROFIT” (drink!) plan on offshore gas.
Regarding the points about innovation, universities and youth retention, I think that the existing programs are very often a form of welfare for at best, rich Nova Scotians, and at worst, multinational corporations. The answer isn’t of course, to scrap these programs, but at the same time, I think that we really need to take a look at making sure that these programs actually benefit the people who pay for them.
I’m an (unemployed) mechanical engineer who went to Dalhousie, got reasonable grades, and has 3 years of work experience, and I’ve been unable to find a job all summer.
One reason is the vast number of co-op students available as the size of the engineering program at Dalhousie (and most Canadian universities) has tripled since I started school in 2007. Half of a co-op student’s paycheck (up to a limit) is paid for by the government, so companies can hire reasonably talented people to do basic work for less than minimum wage in many cases. I did co-op too, I certainly wouldn’t want to see the program scrapped, but at the same time, 2 out of 3 employers that I worked for were large multinational corporations that could surely have afforded $20/hr for my services instead of the $10 they actually paid. Maybe the subsidy should only be for companies that actually pay taxes in Nova Scotia? Obviously, I can do a lot more for an employer than a student on a 4-month term can, but a student costs, due to subsidies, 1/3 of what an engineer costs.
The last company I worked for had deals with ACOA, NRC, BDC, (who knows who else), that for a time, paid my salary, which I am grateful for, but ultimately, all of the IP that myself and my coworkers developed would have gone to the already wealthy CEO and his (also very wealthy) buddies. None of them are from Nova Scotia, they shopped around and found that this was the best place to have the government fund their venture so that if it failed (it did) they would not lose very much of their own money. I think there was around $150,000 in private investment. Yes, if things had worked out, they would have been obligated to pay back the forgivable loans they received with some amount of interest, but in this case, they wasted somewhere in between $500,000-$1,000,000 of taxpayer money. They also only managed to hire about 8 engineers or programmers for less than a year – a lot of money got spent on flights to and from Nova Scotia (they don’t live here, remember) and drinking.
So I’m a little jaded, every single thing I’ve done in my professional capacity as an engineer in Nova Scotia (I moved away for my first job out of school, and took this one so I could come back) except for one 4-month period as a student has been to turn mostly-taxpayer money into even more money for very rich people from away. This is obviously not a productive arrangement for Nova Scotia, and although I think that these programs have some merit and should be reformed rather than shut down, they’re better off dead than alive in their current zombified state.
I took your lead and searched the six documents for the word “convention”, since the Halifax Convention Centre has been touted as the economic savior of our province, and is the largest capital investment of our government.
The word “convention” appears not once.
In my mind, the thing that is totally missing from any of the documents you released in the Draft One NS, is the total lack of any recognition of the way in which the baby boomers present a huge resource for NS – one that is constantly discarded and ignored.
From all the research I’ve done over the past 20 years (when I turned 54), I know, that without a doubt, we’re in the midst of a longevity revolution. The developed world is changing dramatically. We’re all, on average, living about 30 years longer than our grandparents. The majority of the baby boomers, (unless they haven’t’ looked after themselves and thus have diabetes, high blood pressure or are depressed — all of which can be reversed) are not ready to be put out to pasture at 55 or 60 — or even 65 or 70. Many over 50 who have left their midlife work, are anxious to discover ‘what else’ is possible for the next 20-30 years. Very few want to sit around and merely play golf, or volunteer or look after grandkids — not that there is anything wrong with any of that. For everyone over 50, there is no roadmap for the next 20-30 years of life, the way there is for younger people. This older cohort is a huge resource that government and One NS is completely ignoring.
This year, for the first time, there are more people over 65 in North American than under 15, and as many have said, the birth rate in Canada, which has been dropped over the last 16 years, is very low. We’re in for a supply shortage just around the corner. Seems to me that to ignore the potential of those leaving their work early, i.e. 55, (teachers, nurses, military workers, and many other government workers) by saying that they’re all heading south for the winter, are over the hill, are useless, out of touch, or out of date is ridiculous. Many would be happy to find new careers, maybe in different ways of working and different hours, but nevertheless, would be happy to contribute with their wisdom. (although I realize now everyone is wise just because they’re older!). Unfortunately, Ageism is rampant in NS.
So, in conclusion the Baby Boomers, who are now between 50 and 70 are a huge untapped resource for the province. I’ve written a couple of articles in the Chronicle, but largely am ignored, as most anyone who talks a different talk in NS is It’s rather strange, I think. Not being a native Nova Scotian, I find it weird.
Part of my work, currently, is working with Ruby Tree Films of Halifax to produce an inspirational TV series called Fearless, which will feature experts on the longevity revolution and what it means, but more importantly, will feature a host of regular people who are choosing to live their lives differently as they grow older. Rather than plunking themselves in front of the TV and waiting to die, these individuals are breaking new ground, doing wonderful work, and living their lives with lots of vitality, meaning and satisfaction. Some will be living in NS.
One NS won’t know them of course.
Early years section re. Family child care business enterprise. “Women gifted in caring for children gain the skills &support to run their own business”. Pg.7
I read with great interest the “ICT Momentum” section of the One Nova Scotia draft action plan.
I work in IT and most of us that work in IT can tell you that most things IT aren’t going to save humanity, so when I read something like this that gushes on about “Start Ups” and “ICT Entrepreneurship,” I think, “This was written by someone who doesn’t know a fucking thing about IT.”
My takeaway from ‘ICT Momentum’ is this:
1. IT Businesses are in need of cheap labour — IT work is incredibly labour intensive and vast legions of people are required to execute even the smallest technological advances.
2. Nova Scotia is perfect because we’re full of underemployed, desperate people.
3. Hey, let’s provide cheap labour for big IT companies (IBM, CGI, etc., etc.) — we can lay the groundwork for that and even provide tax subsidies and government hand-outs!
4. While we’re at it, we’ll say ‘Entrepreneurship’ over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and………and maybe if we say it enough times it will actually, fucking mean something.
5. Oh, and YES…..let’s get those little ones writing computer code in primary……..and math and science and math and science and more math and more science. To hell with art and literature…..what the hell could we ever learn from that. It’s much better that we teach children horrifically boring, mind-numbing coding. Let’s squeeze that last little bit of creative spirit out of the kids. Let’s make them all do it….even the kids that hate it….after all, their coding skills will be needed in those soon-to-come application development sweat shops.
“ICT Momentum: is just code for “Let’s Make Nova Scotia an IT Worker Ghetto.”
I’ve been busy with something else, and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to respond to any of the above people. I think this is a useful exercise, however, and if anyone else wants to get in, I’ll publish your thoughts Tuesday (Monday is a holiday).
In the harbour
Opal Express, oil tanker, arrived at Imperial Oil this morning from Port Arthur, Texas
Hagen, general cargo, Rotterdam to Pier 9
Some ship or yacht is tying up at the Tall Ships Quay today, but I can’t make out the name of it.
Oceanex Sanderling sails to St. John’s
You can catch the HMCS Athabaskan pulling into port this morning; it’s been in and out of port the last couple of days, apparently undergoing testing after some major engine work. Meanwhile the Montreal is anchored in the middle of the harbour.
The “on campus” section will return next week.