1. Northern Pulp Mill
At the request of the Chronicle Herald, Environment Canada has released pollution monitoring station information for Nova Scotia, and for 2012, in terms of particulate matter, the air was cleaner in Pictou County than in downtown Halifax.
The Liberals have changed the law such that grandparents automatically have standing in custody disputes over children.
The modern neoliberal attitude (just read the comments on this weekend’s news reports of Labour Day rallies) is that if only everyone were paid less, we’d all be rich. That is, of course, stupid. In a consumer-driven economy such as ours, having well paid working people benefits everyone. It’s good to see some folks fighting back against the stupid rhetoric that has come to define our times.
4. Wild Kingdom
Larry and Alison Bogan have a monarch butterfly sanctuary in their basement.
In his Dartmouth History Blog, David Jones discusses the naming of the community of Westphal for the two brothers George and Philip Westphal, born in the 1780s on what would later be called the Old Preston Road, but presumably back then was just called the Preston Road.
Both brothers joined the navy as teenagers, and both would rise to the rank of admiral. At the battle of Trafalgar, George Westphal was midshipman on the flagship Victory, and was struck in the head by a musket ball; he was taken below decks and placed next to Lord Nelson himself. Nelson died of course, but George got a good story out of it.
Military seafaring was one dangerous business, evidently. Eight years after getting shot in the head, George Westphal was commanding the Anaconda during the attack on New Orleans and somehow (the account Jones cites doesn’t say how) lost his right hand. George Westphal would go on to command several other vessels and was knighted for his “gallant services in battle,” and now has the eastbound #10 bus named after him.
Philip Westphal, for his part, lived the high life of British military officers. From John P. Martin’s The Story of Dartmouth:
Phillip Westphal’s ship H. M. S. “Junon,” of which he was 1st Lieutenant, was in and out of port all that season. In November 1814, he was married at St. Paul’s to Miss Frances Davis, daughter of the late Burrowes Davis, former commissary of stores.
Philip Westphal was noted for his heroism and many acts of personal bravery under fire. As Lieutenant of the “Amazon” in 1806, he was especially mentioned for gallantry during the engagement of the “Amazon” with the French frigate “Belle Poule” off the West Indies. After her capture, Lieutenant Westphal was placed in charge of this prize and navigated the French ship to England.
I realize it’s a hopeless dream, but my hope is that one day in an enlightened future the management of slaughter, however gallant, will be frowned upon. But in this universe, it is celebrated. In 1928, the Nova Scotia Historical Society placed a plaque honouring the Westphals near their boyhood home. In 1955, Martin wrote a short piece for a local newspaper, explaining that the foundation of the old Westphal home should be preserved:
Parents and teachers who read this article should take time tomorrow for a short instruction on the significance of the name of “Westphal”, particularly explaining how two boys who grew up in our district, later joined the Navy and long played a prominent part in the preservation of the British Empire.
And it’s neither here nor there, but I wonder if the Ship Victory lounge on Windmill Road is styled after George Westphal’s Victory. (Its website doesn’t say.) That’s one amazing bar, incidentally. It seems to rely mainly on VLT revenue nowadays, but the staff is friendly and the food decent, and I hope it can hang on until whatever Shannon Park regenesis brings in enough appreciative patrons to make the place work.
2. Straighten out the bus routes
Speaking of the #10, Sean Gillis uses it as an example of a poorly designed bus route:
Consider the route 10, the second busiest route in the city, with over 6,000 riders a day. It serves MicMac Mall, Bridge Terminal, Scotia Square, Dal and SMU – destinations with heavy all day transit demand. It also makes a huge detour after leaving Dal to serve low density Beaufort Avenue, costing every rider heading to Dal a few minutes. A similar problem exists at the other end of the route – the 10 takes a pokey route through low-density neighbourhoods. Barrington and Gottingen have a different problem – the route heads one way down each street. Along two of the city’s busiest streets, riders can’t rely on a major bus route in one direction. All of these detours increase the area the 10 serves, but dramatically decreases the speed, reliability and usefulness. Transit is always about tradeoffs, and the 10 has traded direct service (and quick travel) between major destinations for increased coverage.
Gillis wants the redesign of Halifax Transit’s system, to be announced in the fall, to concentrate on “fast, frequent and reliable service”:
The first thing to do is ensure that major routes run in straight lines along major corridors. Get rid of the detours and the extensions of high-ridership routes deep into low-density neighbourhoods.
3. A nation founded in compromise
Stephen Harper keeps insisting that Canada was born in blood, but Dean Jobb points out that while fear of violent and expansionist United States brought the fathers of confederation together, the enterprise itself was an exercise in compromise, not war.
4. Wong Watch
Jan goes to a flutist convention.
5. No accountability for Frank Anderson
Dan Leger is properly outraged that Frank Anderson, the former CEO of the South West Shore Development Authority, was allowed to plead guilty to a single charge of fraud, agreeing that he submitted a—one—fraudulent document to ACOA. The RCMP had filed 11 charges against Anderson after a forensic audit had found substantial chicanery at the agency, including:
- We were unable to locate approval for the salary of the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for most of the fiscal years under review as there was no employment contract and insufficient information was provided in the SWSDA Board Minutes. (Section 3.1.1 and Schedule 2)
- In the Addendum to Trustee’s Report to the Creditors on the Proposal dated July 19, 2011, Grant Thornton disclosed that on or about July 13, 2011, they had become aware of payments being made by SWSDA to an Individual Pension Plan, whose sole beneficiary was the CEO of SWSDA. Schedule 3 of this report provides details on payments totalling $74,459.43 issued by SWSDA related to the CEO’s Individual Pension Plan from January 23, 2007 to February 2, 2010 inclusive. We were unable to locate Board approval for the Individual Pension Plan in the Board Minutes. (Section 3.1.2 and Schedule 3)
- From April 11, 2002 to August 5, 2009, the CEO received a total of $44,500 in the form of a monthly travel allowance of $500 which was not declared by SWSDA in calculating the taxable income of the CEO for his T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid for income tax purposes. From January 2009 to August 2009, the $4,000 of total $44,500 received was designated as “Local Mileage” on a February 17, 2010 expense report submitted by the CEO. Local mileage included travel to and within the Municipality of the District of Argyle, Municipality of the District of Barrington, Town of Clarke’s Harbour, Town of Lockeport, Municipality of Shelburne, Town of Shelburne, Municipality of Yarmouth and the Town of Yarmouth. The $4,000 received as a monthly allowance for January 2009 to August 2009 was treated as an advance and was deducted from the total amount owing to the CEO for mileage totalling $4,190.20 included on the February 17, 2010 expense report. We reviewed minutes of the Board of Directors for SWSDA from March 15, 2000 to September 16, 2009 and found no Board discussion or approvals of the travel allowance. (Section 3.2.1)
- We documented $48,574.70 of meal receipts submitted for reimbursement by the CEO during fiscal years 2005 to 2010. We identified 180 instances (representing 157 days) in which per diem meal rates totalling $3,060.50 were claimed by the CEO on the same day receipts for meals totalling $24,707.14 (50.9% of the total meal receipts) were submitted for reimbursement. SWSDA’s Petty Cash & Expense Claim Policy requires receipts for all expenses and provides guidance on approved meal rates. The Policy does not provide for a per diem in place of submitting receipts, however expense reports related to nine of the ten individuals reviewed submitted per diems in place of submitting receipts. During an interview, the CEO stated that when he took individuals out for a meal, while he might have a drink, he did not order food for himself as he would spend the time talking instead of eating. Accordingly, he submitted the receipt relating to the meal or meals purchased for his guests and claimed the meal rate in respect of himself. We documented 122 days for which meals totalling $4,367.32 charged on hotel bills were not claimed for reimbursement by the CEO. (Section 3.2.2 and Schedule 5.1)
- Expense reports were submitted by the CEO and the Chair of the SWSDA Board in connection with a trip to Paris to attend a Trade Show in April of 2007. The SWSDA accounting records indicate that on June 17, 2008, more than one year after the trip, SWSDA invoice number 3583 was issued to the CEO for $500 for the “Personal Portion of Paris Trip” (schedule 7). The CEO paid SWSDA the $500.00 on September 29, 2008. The CEO stated that the $500 was in payment of his spouse’s airfare, net of tax. As per our discussion in Section 3.2.4, the actual cost of the airfare incurred by SWSDA and recorded in their general ledger was $815.36. The CEO acknowledged that he missed repaying the $108.00 cost of the insurance for his spouse. We found no evidence of Board approval of spousal expenses and we found no evidence of the airfare or insurance being repaid to SWSDA by the Chair of the SWSDA Board. We also found no evidence of an invoice being issued by SWSDA to the Chair of the SWSDA Board for the airfare. Expense reports for dinner for 16 people totalling $1,268.82 at the Trade Show and for the “JEC Show Paris” with total expenses of $7,087.80 were submitted by the CEO. We were not able to determine what if any portion of the above expenses for the CEO should have been classified as personal expenses, including attendance at meals or other entertainment expenses as no further details were provided on the receipts. SWSDA’s Petty Cash & Expense Claim Policy does not require details to be provided on the receipts. During an interview, the CEO stated that none of the expenses submitted were personal. (Section 3.2.4)
- We found cheques payable to suppliers which were issued but were held back and never subsequently sent to the suppliers totalling $468,748.18. Of the $468,748.18 of held cheques, invoices totalling $424,960.59 had been previously included on an “Applicant’s Request for Payment” submitted to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (“ACOA”) in fiscal 2010 and had been certified by the CEO as having been paid to the supplier, when in fact, they were not paid. In an interview with the CEO, he indicated that both the Province of Nova Scotia and ACOA were aware SWSDA was experiencing cash flow issues and were aware that not all invoices had been paid. The CEO indicated that meetings were held on September 1, 2009 and January 10, 2010 with Minister Paris to discuss assistance with the SWSDA cash flow situation. We confirmed with the Province of Nova Scotia that meetings were held. However, in a discussion with a representative from ACOA, the representative indicated that ACOA determined that they had received misleading information from SWSDA regarding the certification of the payment of invoices and after consultation with ACOA’s legal department, the decision was made to cease funding to the Acadian Product Development Phase II project. (Section 3.3.3 and Schedule 8)
- Consultant fees for the Bluenose League and Long Term Tourism project included invoices from the Tourism Company and invoices from the MacDonnell Group Consulting Limited. Two of the MacDonnell Group invoices totalling $22,800 charged to the Long Term Tourism Plan project on April 1, 2008 and May 1, 2008 had the same invoice numbers as MacDonnell invoices totalling $48,450 which had been charged to the Bluenose League project in October of 2006 and August of 2007, respectively. Support was provided for the invoices charged to the Long Term Tourism Plan. Support was not included with the invoices for the Bluenose League project. We contacted the MacDonnell Group requesting information on the composition of the first invoices issued October 31, 2006 and August 24, 2007 however as of the date of this report, they have not provided us with the requested information. Without specific information on the individuals and activities included in the first invoices dated October 31, 2006 and August 24, 2007 totalling $48,450, we are unable to determine if the services contained in the second invoices dated April 1, 2008 and May 1, 2008 were also included in the first invoices or if the invoices were for valid services provided by MacDonnell. (Section 3.3.4 and Exhibits F & G)
These are big and serious allegations, and yet the crown seems unconcerned about the gravity of the situation and is willing to let Anderson, as Leger puts it, cop to a “single piece of dirty paper.”
If you want a good example of Nova Scotia’s culture of non-accountability, of letting bygones be bygones, of letting the powerful get away with their misdeeds with a mere slap on the wrist, look no further than the Frank Anderson case. And the lax prosecution of Anderson is exactly why such corruption will continue into the future. No accountability, no change.
6. Date rape drugs, or not
After 16 vials of Midazolam were recently reported stolen from QEII hospital, the police and media response was irresponsible, says Hilary Beaumont. This article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall, and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.
No public meetings.
Welcome to town, freshmen. At Dal they call it “orientation week.” At Saint Mary’s it’s been rebranded “welcoming week.” What could possibly go wrong? (Bring your cell phones.)
Linda Pannozzo’s new book, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: An Investigation into the Scapegoating of Canada’s Grey Seal, has won honourable mention in the Rachel Carson Book Awards, issued by the U.S. Society of Environmental Journalists. Say the judges:
Far more than a monograph about the plight of a single wildlife species, “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: An Investigation into the Scapegoating of Canada’s Grey Seal,” packs a lot of punch into 192 pages. Pannozzo takes readers deep inside the world of seal hunting while making a case for how government officials have seemingly used the seal as a scapegoat for the collapse of the Atlantic cod fishery when they should have, instead, been looking at the government’s own mismanagement of cod stocks. By blaming seals and proposing large-scale culls, officials have deflected attention away from the more difficult and complex issues of climate change and destructive fishing methods, she argues. The author goes well beyond the obvious with independent research, vivid scene-setting and eloquent writing while questioning the motives of government officials. This tale of a species attempting to make a comeback in the face of adversity is an outstanding examination of the environmental consequences of bureaucratic finger-pointing.
In the harbour
(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)
Neveska Lady, oil/chemical tanker, Paldiski, Estonia to anchor for CFIA Inspection, then move to Imperial Oil
NYK Demeter, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove West
Ocean Emerald, container, Lisbon to Pier 42
Explorer of the Seas, cruise ship, Saint John to Pier 22
That didn’t take long…