The multi-billion dollar ship construction project has started, so what’s the economic impact?
“Watch your mail for a glossy, 16-page magazine brought to you by Irving Shipbuilding later this month. Every homeowner in the Halifax Regional Municipality is supposed to get one, paid for by Irving,” reports Jennifer Henderson.
The mailer makes some big claims about some big money flowing through Nova Scotia, but at least some of those claims are spin. Henderson reveals that most of the $480 million earmarked for Nova Scotia in relation to the construction of six Arctic patrol vessels has already been spent — and most of that was spent on construction of the giant assembly hall at the shipyard, courtesy of a forgivable loan from the province.
There’s hope that a second contract to build up to 15 warships will bring increased employment at the shipyard and work for Nova Scotia companies, but that contract is years off and could be watered down. Even then, successful companies may be bidding on local purchasing “offsets” required by the contracts — that is, work unrelated to the construction of warships.
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2. Cape Breton Star
Yesterday, the Chronicle Herald abruptly shut down its free Cape Breton weekly, the Cape Breton Star, issuing this statement:
This is rich.
“I’m in geographic metaphor hell,” writes Bob Parker on my Facebook page:
“Traction gained” = land-based metaphor.
In the same sentence: “Headwinds of union sympathy” = nautical metaphor about a human feeling. Does a sympathetic wind sound like a crying child? Is the moisture in the air salty like tears?
“Pushing boulders uphill” = mountain-based metaphor.
Quick, somebody, I need a metaphor for bullshit.
The Halifax Typographical Union, which represents striking Herald newsroom employees, issued the following statement:
The Herald says that it had received strong community support for the local publication in Cape Breton since its launch in May 2014, but that support has recently dried up.
Herald ownership blames waning support for its Cape Breton weekly on a “prevailing headwind of union sympathy in industrial Cape Breton.”
While it is unfortunate and regretful to see any publication lock up its doors and employees potentially lose their jobs, it is equally sad to see Herald ownership besmirch the good people from that part of Cape Breton and their pro-union bent as cause for the Star’s demise. The people who reportedly threw their community support behind the non-union Star since its launch were those same union-sympathetic residents.
A more likely cause for the weekly’s failing is an unrealistic business plan to begin with and inept management since the paper’s launch.
It seems way too simplistic to blame union sympathizers for the failure of management at the Cape Breton Star and at the Herald.
The Chronicle Herald, in the meantime, refuses to negotiate fairly with its newsroom staff. Maybe it is satisfied to let the provincial newspaper fade away, too, and then blame its demise on the striking newsroom union staff who are actually responsible for establishing and boosting its brand.
It is time for the Chronicle Herald to negotiate a deal with its newsroom staff instead of searching fruitlessly for convenient excuses to hide a flawed company business plan.
3. Climate change
“An Environment Canada climatologist is warning that a dry spell in Nova Scotia that has left some people without water is just a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the kind of weather conditions Canada can expect in the years to come,” reports the Canadian Press:
“These are little teasers, little dress rehearsals of what we’re going to be challenged with more in the future,” said David Phillips. “It’s not your grandparent’s weather anymore. It’s a new weather and it’s weird, wild and wacky.”
Phillips said parts of Nova Scotia have been drier than normal this summer, with the Halifax area only receiving about two thirds of what it normally does in precipitation.
He said as temperatures warm up across the country over the next number of years, Canadians can expect more dry spells — and more frequently than normal.
“Don’t think that this was a one-off,” said Phillips, adding that Canadians should also expect the unexpected, as dry spells could be followed by flood conditions.
4. Yarmouth ferry
During the month of August, the Alakai, which is the ship leased by Bay Ferries for the Yarmouth–Portland ferry, carried 13,909 passengers, an average of 405 per day, or about 203 on each trip.
For the season up until August 31, the ferry has carried 28,338 passengers. The subsidy to Bay Ferries is based on an expected passenger count of 60,000 for the year. The sail season ends October 1.
Here are the numbers for August:
Who knows? The trend is upwards, and maybe next year the 60,000-mark can be reached.
But even that is a very low bar — back in the 90s, the ferry carried as many as 150,000 passengers annually. The Nova Star was expected to carry 80,000 passengers annually, but only realized 59,018 in 2014 and 51,038 in 2015, so evidently 60,000 is the new norm.
Is 60,000 passengers worth the $10 million annual subsidy? I don’t think we have any honest analyses of economic impact.
As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not against spending money to help the southern Nova Scotian economy, but this is a horrible return on investment. We could spend the same amount of money much more intelligently, get a better return on investment, and better serve citizens besides. I’ve suggested giving all of Yarmouth free high-speed internet. I’m sure readers could come up with a long list of other uses for the money.
The question we should be asking ourselves is: If we had to start from scratch, and had $100 million to spend over the next 10 years with the goal of helping the rural southern provincial economy, and if established interests had no political clout, how would we best spend the money? I don’t think the ferry would even make the list of the top 10 ideas.
1. Graham Steele’s “fraught relationship” with Linda Mosher
Graham Steele dedicates his latest CBC column to the importance of municipal elections. I was struck by these paragraphs:
When I was an MLA, I was keenly interested in who my municipal councillors would be. In an ideal world, provincial and municipal politicians would co-operate closely. Many issues cross provincial-municipal boundaries, and we were serving the same citizens.
But it doesn’t always work that way.
I wanted to hear more about this, and I told Steele as much in a comment on his Facebook page. “You say nothing at all about the municipal councillor who has held the seat in Fairview since forever,” I wrote. “You were the MLA for Fairview. Russell Walker was (and is) the councillor for Fairview…. am I to assume he’s the example of ‘doesn’t always work out that way’? I’d like to hear some concrete examples, positive or negative, of how you interacted with Walker.
This morning, Steele gave an interesting response:
Throughout my time as an MLA, my constituency (Halifax Fairview) covered parts of the municipal districts represented by Russell Walker and Linda Mosher. I actually shared more citizens with Linda than I did with Russell. My constituency was Fairview (the neighbourhood) and south down to Cowie Hill, and Russell’s district was Fairview and north into Clayton Park.
I got along very well with Russell… the basic premise was that Russell and I respected each other’s jobs. We both understood that, at the constituency level, provincial-municipal relations are about who’s best able to solve citizens’ problems. If he got a call and it was truly a provincial issue (e.g. social assistance) he’d pass it along to me. And I did the same in reverse. Neither of us ducked or blamed.
Linda and I had a more fraught relationship. I found her very difficult to deal with, especially after her loss in the 2003 provincial election (she ran in the neighbouring constituency, not against me). I could rhyme off a bunch of Mosher stories, but I won’t do it here (maybe over a beer sometime). Every election I would hope she would lose, but instead she would always win by a landslide. As an MLA, it was my duty to try to find a way to serve our common constituents. It was never easy.
I live in Russell’s district, and am likely to vote for him. He does have an opponent (Andrew Curran) and I intend to find out what I can about Andrew before I make up my mind.
Speaking of municipal elections, you can find the complete list of candidates in the various HRM district elections here. This is the most interesting city election since I moved here in 2004, and I’ll start looking at the districts in detail next week.
No public meetings.
“Four Black Women on the Canadian Frontier: Gender, Slavery, and the Making of the Nation” (12:30pm, room 2021, Marion McCain building) — Afua Cooper will speak as part of the Feminist Seminar Series.
In the harbour
5:30am: Drive Green Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southhampton, England
9:30am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint John with up to 2,580 passengers
10:30am: Reykjafoss, general cargo, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11:30am: Drive Green Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
1pm: Lady M I I, yacht, moves from Pier 9 to Sackville Landing
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
5:45pm: AIDADiva, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for New York
7pm: Celebrity Summit, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
8pm: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for Boston
Rush here, rush there, hope to get stuff done.
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