1. Labour contracts
“Finance Minister Randy Delorey is going to have to use best estimates for the cost of contracts with two of the province’s largest public sector groups when he introduces a budget in the coming weeks,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:
While the government recently imposed a contract on teachers, it still has no deal with members of the civil service or health-care workers. Conciliation for the NSGEU-represented civil service is set for April 19 and 20, but dates are nowhere in sight for health-care talks.
2. Language training
Last month, reported Jennifer Henderson, the Halifax Regional School Board sent layoff notices to instructors of 200 adult immigrant and refugee students studying English as an Additional Language at the Forsyth Education Centre in Dartmouth.
Henderson today follows up that report with news that those students will be picked up by the Immigrant Settlement Association of Nova Scotia, but ISANS is scrambling to find space for them. Meanwhile, no one is sure who will provide language training for 180 other immigrant and refugee students in rural Nova Scotia.
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3. An earlier Al-Rawi allegation
“A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Bassam Al-Rawi five years ago says she was “sickened” by the former cab driver’s acquittal last week at the end of an unrelated sexual assault trial in Halifax,” reports the CBC:
In the 2012 case, the woman reported being intoxicated and driven to an apartment where she was sexually assaulted.
“I was approached by his cab when I was walking alone on a street in Halifax,” the 32-year-old woman told CBC News in an interview. She is not being identified given the nature of her allegations.
“He offered to take me where I needed to go. I eventually got in his cab. He didn’t start the meter.”
According to the search warrant application, Al-Rawi “was questioned under caution for the offence, but he stated that he did not recall the incident, but that at no time would he force someone to have sexual intercourse.”
Police closed the case “due to lack of solvability.” He was not charged.
“In its heyday, it was one of Canada’s largest fighting ships — built for operations in the North Atlantic as a helicopter-carrying submarine hunter with a crew of more than 250,” reports Keith Doucette for the Canadian Press:
But the big gun on HMCS Athabaskan thundered its final salvos Wednesday, as Canada’s last Cold War-era destroyer enters retirement after more than 44 years of service.
The ship’s current commanding officer, Cmdr. Jean Couillard, said sailing the vessel into retirement marks “the end of an era” for the navy.
Couillard said there will be a transition period as the navy waits for its new vessels.
“It’s an exciting time for the guys that are joining the navy right now,” he said. “As they are pressing through their training and are all ready to go they will have new ships to sail with.”
Athabaskan will be decommissioned or “paid off” during a ceremony Friday in Halifax. The term dates back to the days when sailors were paid wages owing them when they went ashore.
1. Political action
“Last week the legislature saw a remarkable example of effective citizen action,” writes Graham Steele:
The Bill 59 Community Alliance made one of the best presentations to the legislature’s law amendments committee I’ve ever seen — and I’ve seen many hundreds.
And that’s only the public portion of its lobby efforts. The alliance has been working behind the scenes for months, and that unglamorous background work continues.
The group hasn’t yet achieved what it wants, but it’s doing everything right.
Steele goes on to analyze how the Community Alliance is organizing, and what lessons that has for other groups.
2. Cranky letter of the day
Constantly we are reminded that diversity and inclusivity are important traits of Canada and by extension Nova Scotia.
The recent provincial comprehensive culture document does the opposite.
The continued emphasis on three important heritage groups is good but what about the rest? Have we forgotten the cultural and economic contributions made by others? For example the Germans in Lunenburg County, the role of the Dutch in revitalizing farming, Ukrainians and Italians in industrial Sydney or the new wave of Plattdeutsch-speaking Mennonites to our rural areas?
The document avoids the importance of the contributions made by the largest cultural group in Nova Scotia: the Gaels of Ireland and Scotland. This omission is not new and represents an ongoing pattern of suppressing Nova Scotia’s Gaelic heritage. This suppression takes many forms.
In the provincial budgets the continued lack of financial support for Gaelic as compared to other groups is very evident. Historically many measures were used to downgrade the language. Today thanks to a small number of dedicated individuals very small pockets of fluent speakers still exist in Nova Scotia as indicated in the national census. Had the value of Gaelic been appreciated in the past or at least recently we would have seen a flourishing trilingual Nova Scotia with the symbiotic economic and cultural innovative spinoffs. Yet for some reason there appears to be a reticence to celebrate this culture; rather, there is a constant direct and indirect pressure to have it absorbed into an alien one. Is this Gaelic-phobia and are we supporting it by not speaking out? Perhaps historical persecution, shaming, financial public starvation has succeeded and individuals no longer care or know about their heritage. Has the lobotomy been successfully carried out?
If not then follow the courageous leadership of the Acadian, Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotians. Stand up and demand your linguistic and cultural rights by contacting Premier McNeil, the Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage and your MLAs.
Gerald Romsa, Riverton
This is Centaurus A:
Only 11 million light-years away, Centaurus A is the closest active galaxy to planet Earth. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy also known as NGC 5128, is featured in this sharp telescopic view. Centaurus A is apparently the result of a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies resulting in a fantastic jumble of star clusters and imposing dark dust lanes. Near the galaxy’s center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process likely generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A. The remarkably deep, visible light image offers further evidence of the ensuing cosmic violence in the faint shells and extended features surrounding the active galaxy.
Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — no taxi issues.
Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — an orientation meeting for the committee, to teach new members how not to protect the architectural heritage of Halifax.
Economic Development (Thursday, 9:30am, One Government Place) — the committee will discusse “Barriers and Opportunities for Economic Development in Cape Breton.” Guests include Eileen Lannon Oldford, the CEO of Business Cape Breton; Parker Rudderham, the chair of BCP and owner of Frank Magazine; John Phalen, the Economic Development Manager at Cape Breton Regional Municipality; and Keith MacDonald, the CEO of the Cape Breton Partnership.
Fractals (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase) — Clark Kimberling will talk about “Fractal Sequences, Fractal Trees, and Linear Recurrences.”
Resource Boom Spillovers (Thursday, 3:30pm, The Great Hall, University Club) — David Green of UBC will speak on “Spillovers from Canada’s Resource Boom and How They May Have Staved off America’s Fate (For Now).”
Cap-and-Trade 101 (Thursday, 4pm, Ondaatje Auditorium) — “Capping Carbon / Trading Talk,” with Elizabeth Beale, Kate Ervine, Brendan Haley, and Jason Hollett. More info.
Solid Waste (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Andrew Wort speaks on “Solid Waste Management: Social, Environmental and Economic Sustainability.”
Women Reading Women (Thursday, 7pm, The Muse) — Dalhousie’s Writer-in-Residence Sue Goyette hosts students reading excerpts by women writers.
Book Sale (Friday, 11am, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — Sale of exhibition catalogues, monographs, books on art, and posters.
Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard (Friday, noon, Council Chambers, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — A conversation with the senator. We interviewed her for Examineradio, which you can find here.
End-of-Life (Friday, 12:10pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Barbara Noah speaks on “End-of-Life Decision-making in the US, with Some Canadian Comparisons.”
Electrons (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226 Chemistry Department) — Volker W. Blum speaks on “Scalable All-Electron Theory — from Molecular Spectroscopy to Materials for Energy Harvesting.”
Pythian Games (Friday, 5pm, Scotiabank Auditorium, McCain Building) — Students perform poetry, song, theatre and music, in the hope of winning “prizes and glory.”
Molecular Mysteries (Friday, 11:30am, Science Building S310) — Jennifer van Wijngaarden speaks on “Resolving Molecular Mysteries: High Resolution Spectroscopy in the Microwave and Far Infrared Regions.”
In the harbour
5am: UASC Zamzam, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Port Klang, Malaysia
5:30am: Oberon, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at anchorage from Saint-Pierre
7am: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
8:30am: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
11am: Juliette Rickmers, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
11am: Skogafoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
4pm: Oberon, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
6pm: Agios Minas, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
8pm: Oberon, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for sea
10pm: Asian Moon, container ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea
11pm: UASC Zamzam, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
I’ve got a 9:30 meeting. I hate 9:30 meetings.