1. Power Play
“Oh, to have a generator and power when the lights go out,” writes Rick Grant:
Six Halifax Port Authority officials, which based on photographic evidence, recently included HPA’S President and CEO Karen Oldfield (2015 salary $370,000), need not worry. They keep their lights on and houses warm using emergency generators provided by their employer, the Halifax Port Authority.
It’s as if the Port Authority hadn’t heard about the MLA expense scandal, when Richard Hurlburt expensed a $8,000 generator, a decision that ultimately led to Hurlburt being convicted of fraud. There’s no suggestion that the Port’s purchases of generators violated procurement or any other laws, but the optics are all wrong.
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And it’s great to see Grant, the retired CTV reporter, get back in the reporting game. I’m excited to publish his work.
2. A tax to leave Cape Breton
“A new report commissioned by the Transportation Department says it’s financially feasible to twin two portions of highway in northern Nova Scotia with the help of tolls,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:
A public survey last May found the median toll rate people were willing to pay was six cents per kilometre. The funding formula to pay the roadwork off over 30 years would see 50 per cent coming from tolls and the province and Ottawa splitting the other half.
The report said drivers would pay between $2.27 and $3.78 in toll fees for the 37.8-kilometres stretch from Sutherland’s River to Antigonish. It would cost drivers between $2.37 and $3.95 for the 39.5-kilometre stretch from Taylors Road to Auld’s Cove.
So maybe six bucks to get to Cape Breton. Twelve bucks round-trip.
This is simply a tax on rural people, and on tourists. I’ll leave it for others to debate the safety issues and the possible alternatives, but for now, highways are a public works necessity. And if they need to be twinned, then we should all collectively pay for them.
Adam Shand says he was driving down a road in Clyde River and came upon the most unlikeliest of creatures: a lynx. Lynx are common across Canada but are endangered in Nova Scotia. The Department of Natural Resources says there are only 100-150 individuals in the province, all in Cape Breton:
In 2011, people started seeing the creature in the lowlands of Cape Breton Island, as far south as Port Hawkesbury. Still, that’s a very long way — 400 kilometres or so— from Clyde River, near Barrington.
Who knows? Maybe it’s an unusually large bobcat, but that seems unlikely. See a video here of the creature here.
1. Africville expropriations
Peter Ziobrowski has mapped the 1960s-era expropriations of property in Africville and, where he could find it, what was paid for each property. He notes:
[For] properties expropriated with clear title, the owner received full value. Those without clear title were awarded $500 plus expenses. Was this discriminatory? On the face [of it], no; however it should be noted that a woman who lacked clear title to land required for the West Street Fire Department headquarters was paid $4000 in settlement.
The owner of the West Street property was presumably white.
2. One year
Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the strike by Chronicle Herald newsroom employees. The union held rallies across the province, including at the Herald building on Joseph Howe Drive. About 200 people showed up, including me.
I milled about the crowd for a while, but Robert Devet actually interviewed some of the strikers and their supporters and wrote up a for-real article about it.
Something else I didn’t write about was Parker Donham’s slam of “Halifax lefties such as Tim Bousquet and Stephen Kimber,” who:
may have encouraged the Union in its self-defeating strategic blunders during the early months of the strike: the long delay in producing an alternative inline paper, picketing advertisers instead of soliciting them for the local Xpress, publicly berating civic leaders like Mayor Savage instead of cultivating them as allies.
If I responded to every retired crank lobbing ridiculous and ill-informed attacks, I’d be doing nothing else. But I guess the semi-retired Stephen Kimber found the time.
3. Cranky Letter of the Day
In the early 1950s, a spruce budworm infestation wiped out nearly all the scrub spruce on the North Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
Remnants of that event can still be seen, but with the flood of sunshine that now covered the land a totally new environment emerged. New plants and a different variety of trees sprang up. Mother Nature had set the table.
The result was predictable with moose, coyotes and a wide range of other animals and creatures moving in to take advantage of the new food supply. Their numbers increased and so did the visitors to the park who stopped and took pictures of Mother Nature at her best.
But things in this beautiful idyllic setting were about to change. An unfortunate incident took place in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in October of 2009 when a hiker was killed by two coyotes on a walking trail.
As a result the coyote numbers were reduced. The moose, with fewer predators to keep their numbers in check, increased rapidly. Young trees and other vegetation are a prime food source for the moose. Parks Canada became alarmed when they realized that the forest would not recover at this rate. Studies were done and their solution was to cull the moose.
Over the past two years two moose culls have taken place with nearly 100 of them being slaughtered. That number is made up of males and females, including pregnant females. A not very sportsman-like method is being used whereby a helicopter locates the animal and a select group of hunters take care of the rest.
It is estimated that there are over 1,800 moose in all of Cape Breton. Reducing the moose population on North Mountain will not solve the problem because moose from other areas will move in to fill the void. This means a moose cull will have to continue every year in the foreseeable future.
So far, approximately a half a million dollars of taxpayers’ money has already been spent (wasted) on this ill-advised ‘experiment’ of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
Yes, the moose blood that stains the mountain will be washed away by the rain and snow, but the ‘stain’ on the park’s reputation will not. If visitors knew of this I wonder how many would enjoy coming to the park?
My solution? Leave the North Mountain as it is. Maybe Mother Nature never intended for the forest to regrow in the first place. Let these magnificent animals roam the mountain in peace. Wasn’t that the original intent of the park creation? Visitors will always come to see the moose, not to watch a tree grow.
Joseph L. MacDougall, Greenwood (formerly from Dingwall)
North West Community Council (1:30pm, City Hall) — a special meeting just before the city council meeting to appoint someone to the Special Events Advisory Committee. It doesn’t get much more inside baseball-y than this.
City Council (2pm, City Hall) — a relatively slim agenda. I don’t know if I’ll make the meeting or not — I’d really like to finish an article I’m writing today, but we’ll see where that goes. If I show up, I’ll live-blog the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter feed, @hfxExaminer.
Periodically, the mayor makes proclamations that don’t commit the city to any expenditure or action — it might be breast cancer awareness week, or whatever, and a one-page proclamation is attached to the council agenda and life goes on. This week, there’s a proclamation for Eating Disorder Week, in which the mayor encourages “citizens to learn more about eating disorders.” Well, who could complain about that?
But a second mayoral proclamation is appended to this week’s council agenda: for “Red Tape Awareness Week.” This is made on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and is “highlighting the real cost of red tape and the price all Nova Scotia small businesses pay for unnecessary, complex, costly, and burdensome regulations.”
Wait one moment here. The CFIB is notoriously anti-everything good, including not just a living wage but even modest increases in the minimum wage. The CFIB wants to cut workers’ pensions and bust public employee unions. The CFIB is kind of like Satan, but without the fun or the appeal.
And this small business owner is telling the CFIB to take its Red Tape Awareness Week and shove it. I’ve been hearing the same taxes-are-too-high, red tape bogeyman, government is anti-business bullshit for 35 years. But corporate and business tax rates are lower than they’ve been for 60 years; the anti-regulatory view has captured every government department and is the defining premise of the ruling Liberal Party; and the government services that haven’t been eliminated entirely are now routinely cycled through inefficient private contractors so they can skim unwarranted profit.
In short, the CFIB and their ilk have won. They’ve already achieved everything they set out to accomplish, and yet here they are continuing to yammer their bullshit. Now we’re not talking about reducing government, but looting the public weal. They are against civilization itself.
If only there were a truly progressive councillor who could pull the Red Tape Awareness proclamation, put it up for debate, and spend some time calling CFIB out on its bullshit.
Public Hearing (6pm, City Hall) — I don’t have time to get into it, so read Zane Woodford’s take — if you overlook his cringeworthy use of “comprised of” and add some commentary about how the architectual renderings don’t look at all like the real world, it’s almost as if I wrote it myself.
No public meetings.
Wild and Undecidable (2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Michael Lambert will speak on “ A Categorical Approach to Wild and Undecidable Theories of Modules.” His abstract:
Guided by definitions in the representation theory of associative algebras over an algebraically closed field, a representation embedding between categories of models of algebraic theories can be defined to be a functor between the respective categories of models that preserves indecomposibility and projectivity and that reflects certain epics. The main result is that such a representation embedding preserves undecidability of theories; that is, if there is a representation embedding of algebraic theories T and T’ in this sense, then if T is undecidable, so is T’. This result is applied to obtain an affirmative resolution of a reformulation of a conjecture of M. Prest that every “wild” associative algebra over an algebraically closed field has an undecidable theory of modules.
In the harbour
We’ll publish an article by Chris Lambie later this morning, and then I’m continuing to work on my own article… I hope to get this finished today, but the time runs away, evidently.