1. Tidal power
The giant tidal turbines destined for the Minas Basin stopped in Halifax yesterday. The barge Scotian Tide, which is carrying the turbines from Pictou, stopped at Pier 9 to be re-ballasted for the remainder of the trip; while it was here, I went over and took the above photo, which shows an interesting juxtaposition between the turbines in the foreground and the Tufts Cove power plant’s smokestacks in the distance.
The single most important issue of our time is climate change — the fate of humanity (and hundreds of thousands of other species) is at stake. It may already be too late, but decisions we make right now and in the coming few years could very well mean the difference between a hellish near future and a difficult one. We need to get off fossil fuels stat.
With so much at stake, it’s hard to have much patience for people who, for instance, complain that their scenic views are disrupted by windmills. And so when we read people like Darren Porter warn about tidal power’s effect on fisheries, the temptation is to be dismissive.
I sure hope tidal power can live up to the promise. The potential is enormous, of course. I once tried to calculate the possible power that could be generated if we built a trillions-dollar dam across the entire Bay of Fundy — I’m not sure such a thing is even technically feasible, and it’s certainly not financially feasible, but if we could, it would generate something like half the electrical power needs for all of the Earth. So sticking a few turbines in the Minas Basin seems like a no-brainer.
But I fear this won’t turn out well.
For one, even the relatively small-scale power generation of the current testing operation is a huge technical challenge. The awesome power of the tides tore to shreds the first turbine that was placed in the basin in a matter of days. It was such a failure that officials wouldn’t allow photographs to be taken of the remains, as if it were a particularly gruesome crime scene.
It will take some serious engineering, the best and brightest minds, and a hell of a lot of commitment and money to harness that tidal power. It needs a Manhattan Project scale of effort, and that’s not hyperbole. We’ll see if we’re up to the challenge. Time will tell, I guess.
But beyond the technical challenges, I don’t have much faith that our local institutions can pull this thing off, or at least not in a straight-forward, no-bullshit manner.
Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that graft, self-promotion, nepotism, insider contracts, and simple incompetence are the defining characteristics of business as usual in Nova Scotia, and all those qualities take off exponentially when something can be sold as “innovative” or otherwise as the saviour of the economy.
I suspect that much of the money spent on tidal research has already been siphoned off for personal gain, and it sure looks like the plan is to export the power for the profits of Emera and not for the benefit of Nova Scotians. Sure, that’s me being Mr. Cynical Naysayer, but the media have been cheerleading, not investigating, and the lack of critical reporting on the research doesn’t bode well. When there are no watchdogs, the warehouse gets looted.
And when powerful people in Nova Scotia are given free rein, invariably those without power get stepped on. We pay the costs, financially, socially, and environmentally.
And so, yeah, I listen to the Darren Porters of the world and take their concerns seriously. The institutions need to be checked, questioned, and held to account.
2. Peter Kelly
Yesterday, Russell Gragg and I called Charlottetown city councillors to ask them about Kelly, and we’ll be publishing those calls on today’s Examineradio (broadcast at 4:30pm on CKDU, 88.1 FM, or via podcast found on halifaxexaminer.ca or on iTunes). I spoke with deputy mayor Mike Duffy, who calls himself “the other Mike Duffy,” and told him the joke here in Halifax is that PEI doesn’t have internet because evidently no one googled “Peter Kelly” before hiring him. In fact, Duffy told me, no one did Google Kelly.
3. Deleting evidence
The Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) yesterday released a report clearing a Halifax cop accused of illegally deleting a video of an arrest of a 17-year-old boy from a bystander’s smart phone:
In late November, 2015, SiRT received the complaint from the male, who was arrested on June 30, 2015 while he was a resident of the Reigh Allen Centre in Dartmouth.
As the actions of the officer could constitute obstruction of justice, SiRT opened an investigation. It showed that on June 30 staff at the Centre called police because the male was in breach of court conditions and had caused damage at the Centre. When police arrived and attempted to arrest this male he resisted and there was a struggle. A second male youth was initially in the room where the arrest occurred, but left and then video recorded the encounter through a window.
This second male protested the actions of the police. As a result he met with one officer in the presence of a staff person. The officer told this male if there was relevant video on his phone it would be seized as evidence. The male showed the officer the video. The officer told SiRT that the video did not show the struggle to arrest the first male, but only began after the male was subdued. As a result he felt the video was not relevant. It appeared the second male was concerned that his phone would be seized if the video remained on his phone. The facts show the male either agreed to delete the video on his own with assistance from the officer, or the officer deleted the video. The officer now acknowledges he should have seized the phone with the video.
The facts support the officer’s statement to SiRT that the video only began after the first male was subdued. That also supports the officer’s position he thought the video was of no value. Thus, while the officer should have seized the phone as all evidence has some value, the facts available in this case are not sufficient to say the video was deleted for the specific purpose of obstructing justice.
Without the specific intent to obstruct justice, there are no grounds to support a charge of obstruction of justice. Thus no charges will be laid against the police officer.
Canadian courts have ruled that people have the right to film police arrests so long as they are not interfering with police operation.
People should not be in a position of choosing between losing their phones or deleting videos, and yesterday’s SIRT ruling looks to me like it reflects an instance of police intimidation. As a work-around, people can upload videos to Facebook Live. There are a number of apps that upload videos directly to the cloud so they cannot be deleted, but check to make sure they work in Canada.
— Steve Silva (@SteveCSilva) July 8, 2016
“A Halifax municipal road crew removed concrete chunks from under a Highway 102 overpass Thursday night,” reports Steve Silva for Global:
One chunk was about the size of a shoebox; two others were about one-third the size. There were also shattered bits spread several feet around.
The chunks were on a section of the sidewalk and boulevard on Ashburn Avenue, which was bordered by yellow caution tape by the crew when the chunks were cleaned up at about 9:30 p.m.
Directly above, there was what appeared to be a missing concrete layer of the overpass consistent in size with the chunks (there were no similar missing layers visible under the structure in proximity).
I sure hope engineers were called out immediately to inspect the structure because this is exactly what happened in the hours before the Laval overpass collapse.
In the early 1960s, the city of Halifax rationalized the street numbering system, which meant that suddenly everyone had a new street address. “Often, old and new numbers were both displayed for years,” writes Stephen Archibald, who took the above photo in the 1970s:
[O]n Dresden Row, this house was more or less where Pete’s is today. On old buildings the new long numbers were sometimes installed in awkward locations while the old number serenely endured. (I was really trying to photograph the door and probably hoping to crop out the ugly new number).
The number thing is really interesting, but is that a palm tree or what reflected in the door glass?
2. Proportional representation
Richard Starr likes that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have vowed to do away with the First Past the Post elections system, but Starr thinks they’ll probably not actually implement the change:
There will be a lot of chatter about electoral reform over the next few months. There may even be a few town hall meetings if our local Liberal MPs deign to hold them. (The parliamentary committee is “inviting” MPs to conduct town halls in their ridings and report back by Nov. 1, 2016). But given all of the obstacles – in particular the fact the two main parties will not benefit from change – it is very likely that FPTP will still be around in 2019. And that would be unfortunate.
3. Should I stay or should I go?
More navel-gazing at The Coast.
We could discuss how neoliberalism and the ascendance of the financial class have disrupted local economies and how traditional resource and export economies like Nova Scotia’s have been hit especially hard, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, we’ll pay some buzzword slingers to tell us we need to change our attitudes; we might even get a rhyming coupletter out of the deal.
4. Cranky letter of the day
Imagine a big teeter-totter with Cape Breton Liberal MLAs Derek Mombourquette, Geoff MacLellan, Pam Eyking and Dave Wilton crowded at one end high off the ground, feet dangling, and Yarmouth Liberal MLA Zach Churchill sitting alone at the other end, feet on the ground.
From my vantage point this is how Premier Stephen McNeil must see his MLAs. After all, he approved a $13-million provincial tax-funded subsidy to an American company to run a ferry service from Churchill’s hometown of Yarmouth to Portland, Maine for each of the next two years.
Did I mention that only Americans are hired to run the ship?
This service has been a huge money loser for years. Companies have gone bankrupt and this time round commercial traffic is banned from using it by the city of Portland. Yet McNeil told the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce in June that the province would not provide money to help build the container terminal. He views it as a strictly private venture.
So we are left with at least $26 million for the next two years to run a proven failure of a ferry service but far less for port development, doctor recruitment, road repairs and health care.
Imagine if McNeil allotted $13 million a year to be spent in each of the local Liberal constituencies.
The people of Yarmouth must be pleased with their MLA.
Toby Morris, Sydney
No public meetings.
No campus events.
In the harbour
8am: Quartz, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from New Orleans
8:30am: Lady M I I, yacht, sails off so its ultrarich passengers can observe some other quaint people
11am: Cygnus Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
1pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
8pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
2am: Maersk Mizushima, tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from New York
10am: Insignia, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor with up to 684 passengers
8pm: Insignia, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Reykjavik
It’s been a long week. How ’bout that submarine, eh?
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