1. Yarmouth ferry
“After weeks of saying it would not do so, Bay Ferries released the first passenger numbers for the new Yarmouth-Maine ferry Monday,” reports Remo Zaccagna for Local Xpress:
According to the initial numbers, service to Portland, which launched on June 15, saw average daily traffic of 78 cars and 181 passengers during the first week of operation.
That number increased to 97 cars and 285 passengers in the second week, and the service saw another usage bump in the third week, with average daily totals of 107 vehicles and 307 passengers.
That’s an odd way of reporting the numbers. What we’re supposed to be concerned about is service to Yarmouth — that is, the number of fat-walleted Americans showing up on our shores, not the number of impoverished Nova Scotians fleeing for better climes down south.
Contradicting Zaccagna, the Canadian Press says the numbers reflect “both directions” of the ferry trip, so I don’t know. Still, many American tourists will likely take the ferry for one leg of their trip and drive around through quaint New Brunswick for the other, but without numbers for both one-way and round-trip ticket sales, it’s impossible to say for sure — 307 passengers a day could be 307 tourists to Nova Scotia, but it might just be 153 tourists. This will matter hugely when the government inevitably rolls out an economic impact report to justify the expense of the ferry.
Bay Ferries president Mark MacDonald did offer up some other figures:
According to the company, 1,200 room nights were sold at Nova Scotia accommodation properties so far as part of Bay Ferries package products, and that does not count those who booked individually.
That’s about 50 rooms a night so far through the season. Assuming double occupancy, that’s 100 double doubles sold at the Yarmouth Timmies the next morning before the happy tourists vamoosed to Halifax.
Zaccagna writes that MacDonald released the numbers to counter what he called “damaging discussion” from ferry critics. But the company needs to carry about 600 tourists a day to meet the 60,000-passenger target for the season, so expect plenty more damaging discussion.
I’ll note that exact numbers for passengers are required to be given to the city of Portland this coming Friday, and those figures will be in turn made public. The astonishingly helpful staffer in the Portland City Manager’s office told me that she had collected dozens of email addresses of reporters to send the numbers to (she added me to the list), so we’ll see if those numbers jibe with the numbers MacDonald released yesterday.
“More than 600 pounds of lucky lobsters were spared the pot Saturday, thanks to compassionate monks on Prince Edward Island,” reports Shane Ross for the CBC:
The monks bought the lobsters from various places around the Island, said Venerable Dan of the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society in Little Sands.
On Saturday, they boarded a fishing boat and released them back into the ocean off the coast of Wood Islands.
“Hopefully, we can find a spot where there are no cages waiting for them,” said Dan.
Presumably the monks took those rubber bands off the lobsters’ claws before sending them into the unknown-to-them waters.
3. The Google-impaired
What is it with Canadian municipal officials not doing the basic internet research? From a Toronto Star interview with Harry Schlange, the former CAO of the Niagara Region who has been hired on as CAO of Brampton:
Prior to putting your name forward for the job, did you know about the problems facing Brampton: spending issues under former mayor Susan Fennell; mistrust between some councillors and senior staff; the bleak financial forecast?
Running a billion-dollar corporation — Niagara — you don’t review or analyze or read about other municipalities. We all have our own problems.
Surely, by the time you’re interviewing for the job, aren’t you starting to do a bit of background research to find out what’s being going on?
No, no. Because, you go to any council or any community and there’s all sorts of problems. So I stayed focused on . . . what does this council want to do moving forward.
h/t Philip Slayton
4. No rednecks
Shelburne is managing to have its Founders Day celebrations sans rednecks this year. There’s no telling whether that will result in more or fewer American tourists stopping by.
1. Minimum wage exemption
“Two years ago, UNIFOR, the country’s largest private sector union, launched a drive to organize major junior hockey players,” writes Stephem Kimber:
Last year, a Toronto law firm filed a class action law suits against major junior hockey and its teams, seeking millions in “outstanding wages, overtime pay, holiday pay and vacation pay.” Certification hearings on that lawsuit are scheduled — surprise — this fall.
The timing is interesting because just last week, with not public consultation or debate, the McNeil government exempted professional sports teams from minimum wage laws. As Kimber notes:
The government hasn’t struck a balance. It’s struck a blow for child exploitation.
“To be frank, we saw the class-action suit killing junior hockey in the Maritimes,” Premier Stephen McNeil told TSN reporter Rick Westhead. “The fact is that junior hockey here is important to us. We believe these changes will keep it here.”
That’s a remarkable argument that we wouldn’t apply to any other industry. Oh, we all like eating out at restaurants, so let’s exempt restaurant employees from minimum wage laws. We like going to movie theatres, so let’s let them pay the ticket-takers crap. Just think how much lower prices would be at WalMart if they could pay that person working the cash register three bucks an hour.
But we like watching the Mooseheads, so screw that kid.
As is, 16- and 17-year-old players make just 35 bucks a week, reports Westhead, and they’re staying in fans’ extra bedrooms. Those over 20 get a whopping $150 week, which is still considerably below minimum wage. I don’t have time this morning, but someone should do a photo essay, showing Moosehead owner Bobby Smith’s no-doubt palatial home next to the digs the kids are staying in.
Nobody goes to a Moosehead game to watch Bobby Smith.
Writing in The Coast, lawyer Blair Mitchell makes the important point that the change in minimum wage laws came at the urging of professional sports team owners who apparently skirted lobbying laws:
But one of the important conditions of public accountability in Nova Scotia is that people who are, in the government’s words, “communicating with” MLA’s, ministers and civil servants “in an effort to influence a decision” are “lobbying.” People who want to influence government in this way must register as a Lobbyist to show that they are trying to influence, and on whose behalf.
The Nova Scotia’s Lobbyist Registry is on line and lists some 925 separate registrations. There’s none apparent to show anyone trying to cause the cabinet to make any such change. It might be missed or it might be unclear. But no one is registered for the Canadian Hockey League or the Mooseheads or the Screaming Eagles.
It is certainly perhaps possible that one might raise the issue of changing law in some context not covered by “lobbying,” but the government spokesperson’s comments on July 4 on exactly that point suggests that the requirements of the province’s Lobbying Registration Act be very closely considered.
Mitchell says that the minimum age exemptions are part of a collective Canadian Hockey League effort, but there’s one other lucky beneficiary to the changes: The Hurricane, owned in part by union-busting Mark Lever, also the president of the Chronicle Herald.
2. Conch shells
Victorian-era Nova Scotia had an obsession with conch shells, and Stephen Archibald has the photographic evidence to prove it. He writes:
It appears that they came back on the schooners that transported our salt cod to the Caribbean. Along with rum and molasses it could be easy to ballast your vessel with conch shells on the return trip. Huge piles of shells accumulate on the islands where conchs are processed to extract their meat… The conchs made it into our gardens because of Victorians’ enthusiasm for the exotic and the picturesque.
3. Cranky letter of the day
It’s more obvious to many citizens that after government personalities and political labels change that not much else really does change. This then questions the purpose of voting in new political personalities when there isn’t going to be any real change in policy/practice on any new government’s agenda.
A couple of examples of such political 180-degree reversals on important issues should explain this more fully.
In Nova Scotia, each of the three major parties when they were the government in power took a diametrically opposite position to that held when they were in the role of opposition over the years in the legislature on the issue of the manipulation of billions of dollars of federal equalization payments. Each party, when they attained the power to govern, only distributed a minuscule amount of that received to the many economically disadvantaged municipalities of this province.
Federally, the Trudeau Liberal government (like the Harper Conservative government that preceded it) recently rejected calls for a public inquiry into the abuse and torture of hundreds of Afghans detained by the Canadian Armed Forces.
I believe this action by the Trudeau Liberal government is an attempt to cover up some new evidence published in the Montreal newspaper La Presse earlier this month of a letter by a group of unidentified military police officers who directly participated in the abuse, which took place between 2010-2011. These military police officers have accused high-ranking military police officers of ordering the abuse of Afghan detainees, which they allege constitutes war crimes.
People can recall Liberal MP Ralph Goodale’s criticism when Harper prorogued parliament in order to shut down the parliamentary committee’s investigation of the detainee issue. Goodale’s inference to a cover up was included in this comment, “what the Conservatives knew, and when they knew it, about torture in Afghanistan.”
When political parties in our so-called parliamentary form of government attain power and continue with the same policies on major issues they opposed when not the governing party, it only illustrates that the importance some attach to the act of voting is a delusion.
Charles W. Sampson, Sydney Forks
No public meetings.
This morning, the city issued a tender for Part 2 of the Cornwallis Park redevelopment. You’ll recall that last year the rebuild was aborted when all the bids came in over budget, and so the project was split in two. Somehow, this made it more affordable.
Drosophilia (11:00am, Life Sciences Centre, Room 5260) — Denis Top, from Rockefeller University, will speak on “An Anatomically Restricted Mechanism Regulates Rhythmic Behavior in Drosophilia.”
Don’t open the attachment (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) – Mike Just, from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, will discuss his recent work to create a tool to aid the detection of potential Denial of Service attacks.
In the harbour
1:30am: NYK Delphinus, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Southhampton, England
11am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
11am: Capricornus Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
2pm: Seoul Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
6am: Mignon, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southhampton, England
6am: Aeneas, container ship, arrives at berth TBD from New York
6am: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at berth TBD from Valencia, Spain
10:45am: Mignon, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
2pm: Shunwa, bulker, arrives at anchorage from Kantvik, Finland
9pm: Mignon, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for New York
I have no copyeditor this morning. Please be kind.
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