November Subscription Drive
Graham Steele writes:
I’ve subscribed to the Halifax Examiner since it started for one simple reason: Halifax needs it.
Somebody has to watch.
I’ve been there. I know. In the back rooms of government, it was the reporters and columnists we cared about.
It scares me to think what would happen if there was nobody to watch.
Provincially, the backbenchers want too badly to be in Cabinet; the opposition wants too badly to be the government. Municipally, there is no opposition. They pretend to watch but they don’t really. The reporters do their best but holy smokes they’re stretched thinly.
Enter the Halifax Examiner. It’s news and it’s opinion. Sometimes it’s dead right and sometimes it’s dead wrong. Either way it gets me thinking. It’s eclectic too, which means I read about things that wouldn’t have occurred to me to read about.
Sometimes the Halifax Examiner is just Tim Bousquet. Tim deserves to eat, so that’s a reason to subscribe. He’s stretched thinly too, but he brings in other writers where and when he can. The more he can do that, the better.
Somebody has to watch, dammit. The more the better. And the Halifax Examiner watches wicked good.
1. Halifax developer under criminal investigation
Reporter Chris Lambie reveals that Halifax developer Navid Saberi is under investigation by Revenue Canada’s Criminal Investigations Division for failure to report income and sales taxes related to properties he sold in Hammonds Plains.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
2. E-gambling scandal
It annoys me to no end that gambling has been dubbed “gaming” in order to pretend that it’s just a lark and isn’t about addictions and broken homes and spent lives. Sure, some people can drop a few coins in a VLT or take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Vegas and that’s the end of it, but if a casino or a bar or a province wants to make real money from the machines or the lottos, they need to entrap the weak of will who will inevitably overspend. That’s just a fact. So let’s cut the “gaming” nonsense, eh? It’s gambling.
Anyway, Teresa Wright, reporting for the Charlottetown Guardian, continues to look at PEI’s E-gambling scandal, noting that provincial Auditor General Jane MacAdam “does not name individuals or private companies in her reports, but she will name names if requested by the Public Accounts committee.” And MLAs at Public Accounts did just that:
As a result, MacAdam has confirmed the names of two senior government officials she found were in apparent conflicts of interest:
• Chris LeClair, former chief of staff to former premier Robert Ghiz
• Melissa MacEachern, a former deputy minister of both the Tourism Department and Innovation and Advanced Learning.
LeClair’s conflict arose when his wife purchased shares in a shell company in 2011 called RevTech that was going to be acquired in a reverse takeover by CMT – a company working with government to establish e-gaming in P.E.I., thanks to help from LeClair.
MacAdam says LeClair’s wife’s investment “creates the perception of a conflict.”
As for MacEachern, the auditor general found she gave preferential treatment to CMT and its affiliate company, Simplex, in two other programs explored by the government linked to e-gaming – a financial services platform for P.E.I. (which proposed to support e-gaming) and a tourism loyalty card program.
It turns out that the lure of free and easy money corrupts not just the gambler, but also the house.
Drunk every day while he worked for Premier Ghiz, former Deputy Minister to Premier and Strategy Expert at McInnes Cooper, Chris LeClair finally got ‘busted’ for drunk driving last night.
LeClair was famous for spending thousands while he dined and drank every day at Murphy Group slop joints on prepaid cards somebody gave him while in the Premiers Office. [I expect that] thousands of dollars of Murphy Group Gift Cards are ‘somewhere’ in the unaccounted 950,000 dollars the E Gaming Committee and McInnes Cooper spent.
PEI’s turning out to be a lot of fun. I’m just waiting patiently for the inevitable scandal that will soon engulf Charlottetown’s city hall.
— NS Teachers Union (@NSTeachersUnion) November 3, 2016
“The union representing Nova Scotia’s public school teachers took the next step in an increasingly fractious contract dispute Thursday, asking the provincial labour minister to appoint a mediator in an effort to stave off job action early next month,” reports the Canadian Press:
The Nova Scotia Teachers Union announced via Twitter late in the day that president Liette Doucet had asked Labour Minister Kelly Regan to appoint a mediator to handle the dispute.
There was no immediate response from the government.
The union’s request came shortly after Premier Stephen McNeil announced the launch of a government advertising campaign to explain its position in the simmering impasse.
McNeil said the campaign will include a series of Liberal party-funded and government-funded ads, saying that he had personally voiced a party ad the day before.
The party ads are television and Facebook videos that are scheduled to run sometime next week.
Here’s the first ad:
Boy, does that hit the wrong note. Note to Liberals: when discussing education you need a nice soft, touchy-feely voiceover, not some deep throated guy who sounds like a mafia fixer threatening to kneecap you if you don’t pay for the protection insurance.
Meanwhile, a Facebook group has been formed in support of teachers. Nova Scotia Parents for Teachers explains:
By the end of November 2016, Nova Scotia may experience the first-ever work stoppage of public school teachers in our history. Ask yourself: Why would a group of 9,000 teachers, never known for militancy, vote not once, but twice (the second time by 70 per cent) to reject a bargaining settlement with the province? And why would they do that in spite of their union’s own recommendation? Note that they voted 96 per cent for strike action. Because they’re frustrated and angry, that’s why.
Reason one: The conditions of teaching have become more difficult. Class size, class composition, and non-teaching duties have all changed, making greater demands on teachers. It’s not easy caring for and educating our children. Add to this the slap in the face of government demanding a cut of 4 per cent in real wages, not to mention the elimination of long-service awards, and we have the perfect recipe for industrial conflict.
Reason two: The Supreme Court of Canada has given Charter protection to the right to bargain collectively and the right to strike. Governments can remove the right to strike ONLY if they substitute binding, unfettered third-party arbitration. But the government wants neither a strike nor arbitration. The provincial government has dictated an ultimatum to the teachers. And the teachers are pushing back.
Reason three: Teachers’ working conditions are our children’s (and grandchildren’s) learning conditions. For years now, governments in Nova Scotia, Canada and North America have been disparaging teachers and other valuable public workers in order to lower taxes to the wealthy and devalue public programs for the rest of us.
We are parents and grandparents of children in the public school system. A work stoppage will certainly inconvenience us. But “business as usual” already hurts us and cannot be tolerated. And we are willing to shoulder the aggravation to help our teachers. Collective bargaining is a fundamental right and is a price we pay for living in a democratic society.
The group is administered by Saint Mary’s business prof Larry Haiven. As of this morning, the group had 2,909 members.
4. Ports, super and otherwise
“Nova Scotia should focus on promoting the port of Halifax rather than proposed container facilities in the strait of Canso and Sydney, markets where new ports are unlikely to be viable, says a study prepared for the province,” reports Michael Tutton for the Canadian Press:
The $80,000 report paid for by ACOA and Nova Scotia’s Department of Transportation considers private-sector proposals for container ports at the Melford terminal at the Strait of Canso and the Novaporte development at the Port of Sydney, as well as the Port of Halifax’s long-term struggles to improve its fortunes.
The document by CPCS consultants, dated June of this year, says arguments that the proposed ports would have lower costs depend on attracting container traffic and it questions the likelihood of that occurring due in part to their distance from major markets.
ACOA paid $80,000 for that? Jeebus on a stick, they could have gotten the same advice if they had instead purchased a Halifax Examiner subscription for just 100 bucks a year, and they would’ve gotten a free T-shirt besides. As I’ve said repeatedly:
No shipper wants to use the North American port that is closest to Europe. That makes no sense at all.
Think about it. You are the manager of a German manufacturing firm, and you want to export to North America. You’re not going to sell many widgets in Canso or in Eastport. Instead, your primary market is going to be places like New York City, or Chicago, where there are millions of people and lots of industry to buy your widgets.
So how do you get your widgets to Chicago? Expensive and light stuff, you can fly directly there. Everything else has two legs: one by sea, and one by land.
The sea part of the voyage is relatively inexpensive. You can stack a gazillion of your widgets in the new post-Panamax ships. A small, underpaid crew from the Philippines steering a ship flying the flag of a lightly regulated country like Liberia doesn’t cost much.
The land part of the journey, however, is expensive. You’ve got to divide up your gigantic cargo and divvy it into a thousand trucks, each driven by a highly paid (relative to the shiphands) driver, using lots of fuel to get to Chicago. Or, if you’re lucky, you can use rail, which, while cheaper than the trucks, is still much more expensive than the sea voyage, per unit transported per distance.
The guy sitting in Germany isn’t looking for the North American port closest to Germany, but rather the North American port closest to Chicago, or wherever his widgets are going. If that means a longer sea journey, the cost is more than made up for with the huge savings of a shorter land journey. I’m not sure why megaport boosters get this so wrong.
Remember when we kicked that old man out of his house so we could pursue our fantasy of a superport at Melford? Yeah, the superport will never exist, but we sure showed that old man who’s boss. Nova Scotia: where some random old man isn’t going to get in the way of our delusions.
Did I mention T-shirts? Buy a $100 annual subscription during our November subscription drive and you can be as fashionable as Hilary Beaumont:
It’d be great if a bunch of people in the ACOA offices were suddenly wearing Examiner T-shirts.
1. If only everyone were paid less, we’d all be rich
The anti-worker sentiment that pervades our society is perfectly expressed in this “Love the way we bitch” in The Coast:
The work needs to be done!
What the fuck makes you think you’re so special that you get to leave on time while everyone else in the finance dept stays 2 hours longer every day? You’re behind so when I asked you to stay until the work is done, you don’t tell your boss, “only if you pay me overtime…”! You and your co-workers are on salary and we don’t pay overtime. And I don’t know what world you live in, but most employers don’t pay overtime and it’s typical for salaried employees to work more than 40 hours a week. It’s our year end, so I asked you to come in on Saturday, you ask if you get an ‘in lieu of’ day off in the week! No, you’re behind, and we needed you to work that extra day! What the fuck is the point of getting you in on a Saturday to catch up when you’re just going to take a week day off??? Then you have the nerve to say no and that you’re not paid enough to be married to your job! You’re getting $30,000/year for fucks sake! Some employers pay their finance staff less than that, so you are lucky to work for us! You’re the most self entitled brat. Some staff work 12 hour workdays here and some take work home, and do they complain? No! It’s called having a good work ethic!! Get one, lazy ass! —Frustrated supervisor
How dare you expect to get paid for working!
Of course, $30,000 is a poverty wage.
2. Cranky letter of the day
All fields have their sacred cows; education is no exception and high school graduation may be the most sacred of all. By sacred, I mean something that is respected to the point that it cannot be questioned. Increasingly among the people I meet, the meaning, even the value, of a high school diploma is being called into question. To be clear, I’m talking about the value of the diploma and not the value of the education itself.
Graduation seems to apply all who complete 12 years of schooling regardless of grades or marks. Either position is defensible but the current fudging is not; the present practice is dishonest, to say the least.
The practice of using one piece of paper for two different purposes is confusing; why not issue two – one confirming what and where a person studied and the other confirming what was learned – in effect, one a credential and the other a qualification.
A qualification in a few areas would be useful – reading, writing and arithmetic, personal management skills and perhaps one or two others. Even better, would be to have the qualifications awarded by an independent body. That seems to work for apprenticeship, music, the International Baccalaureate Program and even in sports.
Also among our options, is that of establishing a qualification authority as has been done by most developed countries.
It’s time to restore meaning to high school graduation; let’s create an Island solution – and let’s do it soon.
Don Glendenning, Charlottetown
No public meetings.
Food Law (12:10pm, McInnes Room, 2nd Floor, Student Union Building) — Michael Roberts, from UCLA, will speak about, “Food Law and Policy: Past, Present, and Future.” Food!
Feminist Seminar Series (12:30pm, Room 2021, Marion McCain Building) — Alexandre Baril will speak on, “Cripping Trans* Studies and ‘Transing’ Disability Studies: Rethinking Crip and Trans* Politics.”
“Dynamic Droplets” (1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Timothy M. Swager, from MIT, will speak. Food! next door at 1:15 pm.
Inheritance Law (3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain Building) — Tim Stretton of Saint Mary’s University will speak on “Blackstone, Family Law and the Exclusion of the Half Blood in Inheritance.” No food, alas.
Africa (12pm, McNally Main 227) — Joseph Mugore will speak on “Economic Governance: New Constraints on Africa Rising.”
Water and Food Security (12:30, Room 207, Burke Building) — Cathy Conrad will talk about “Enhancing Water and Food Security With a Community-based Approach: Examples from Nigeria and The Gambia, West Africa.”
In the harbour
5:30am: MSC Cristiana, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from New York
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
10:30am: MSC Cristiana, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
11:30am: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
6pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
11pm: Atlantic Huron, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Charlottetown
11pm: Colorado Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
Over at the Cape Breton Spectator, Mary Campbell has a couple of interesting articles related to cruise ships.
In the first, she recounts the case of Sarah Tessier Powell, the 70-year-old from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who in 2012 simply disappeared from the Veendam somewhere between Quebec and Halifax.
Powell is travelling alone and police believe she may have slipped past security check points and gotten off in either Charlottetown or Sydney.
They have no idea when exactly she left the ship or where she is now.
Staff on board the ship noticed Powell was missing Oct. 4 just before the boat docked in Halifax.
“There were some items on board the ship in her cabin, but there were some items missing, leaving us to believe she left on her own accord with no intention of coming back to the ship,” says [Halifax police] Const. Pierre Bourdages.
“We do not believe she would have fallen off the ship or met with foul play on the ship.”
That is almost unbelievable. Campbell points us to lawyer Jim Walker’s blog:
How on earth is that possible? Passenger gangways are supposed to be heavily monitored by security with each passenger’s sea pass card scanned and the gangways always covered by closed circuit television cameras.
Cruise ships can easily trace the passenger’s onboard purchases and use of their cabins by ‘lock-link’ reports which document the opening of cabin doors. When did the passenger last use her card to either charge a purchase or open her cabin door? The shipboard security should easily be able to know when there was any documented activity by Ms. Powell on the ship.
And why do the police think she left the ship? If she did, then there should be CCTV film documenting her exit even if the gangway security guards were asleep at the wheel.
Campbell this week followed up on the case, calling the Halifax PD, which told her to talk to the Quebec PD. She dutifully called, and:
Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Mélanie Dumaresq phoned me almost immediately and said, “The lady has not been found. The case is still open. We cannot comment on a case that is still under investigation.”
In her second article, Campbell looks at the horrid environmental record of the cruise ships stopping in Sydney.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Senator-designate Wanda Thomas Bernard yesterday for Examineradio, which will be published late this afternoon.
Lots of other new stuff is also going on the website today. Check back.