1. The NDP promised Irving even more than we knew
“Nova Scotia’s Liberal government revealed Thursday it refused to honour a $200-million loan guarantee offered to Irving Shipbuilding in a secret 2012 provincial government letter to the company,” reports Paul Withers for the CBC:
The $200-million loan guarantee was in addition to the $304 million in provincial government loans and grants pledged to the Halifax Shipyard as part of its winning effort to secure the contract to build vessels for the Canadian navy under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.
How can a government keep a $200 million loan deal secret? It was only because the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (which is four guys in Alberta plus Kevin Lacey in Halifax) bird-dogged the issue that we’re even finding out about it now.
Regardless, good on the Liberals for axing the deal:
In response to questions from CBC News, the Nova Scotia Department of Business said for the first time that the Liberals refused to honour that guarantee.
“The $200 million that’s referenced was part of the negotiations under the previous government, but it was not formalized,” spokeswoman Heather Desserud said in an email statement.
“After the change in government, Irving talked to Premier [Stephen] McNeil about accessing that $200 million in assistance, but the request was refused.”
2. Labi Kousoulis and WTCC
On Tuesday, Rachel Ward reported that Labi Kousoulis, the MLA for Halifax Citadel and cabinet minister for Internal Services, “said he spent about a year trying to keep the [World Trade and Convention Centre] in public hands.” The building has been purchased by Halifax developer George Armoyan.
Yesterday, a reader pointed me to election reports that show Kousoulis had received $3,000 in campaign contributions from the Armoyan family just before the 2013 elections, including $1,000 from George Armoyan himself. “Is this a conflict of interest?” asked the reader.
I dunno, I replied. I’ll ask.
So I sent Kousoulis an email:
I was intrigued by the CBC article relating that you resisted the sale of the World Trade and Convention Centre building to George Armoyan. There are indeed a collection of issues that will take much care to untie….
But, as you accepted $3,000 in campaign contributions from the Armoyan family before the 2013 election, was it appropriate for you to handle this file? Should you have passed the file on to someone else?
Thanks for your time,
All the best,
Thank you for the email. For clarification “Lands” which used to be in my department of ISD moved to Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal on April 1. Since I had been involved with HRM trying to come to a resolution for the last year and a half I was the spokesperson on the file. The decision to sell was not made by me or by Minister MacLellan. The sale was due to an MOU which was written by the NDP and HRM when the new WTCC was announced. That MOU had no mechanism to keep the building and it was written that the Province had to go through a series of steps, one of which opened up the possibility of a private sale. The fact the Province could not retain ownership was public knowledge. The only party who had any authority to stop the sale was HRM.
You could try to imply that I am influenced by a campaign contribution but you would be wrong. If you are looking to try to embarrass me than this conversation is over, if you are interested in the story please feel free to ask me anything you like. Just an FYI, I can not be bought for three thousand or three million or any other sum of money.
Jeesh, touchy. I just asked a question.
Still, I’m not sure what the point of resisting was if it was all a done deal. Oh well, on to slay other dragons…
3. Union negotiations
“The last of the major unions in the province waiting to begin negotiations will sit down with their employer in October,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:
Several dates have been set for the council of unions representing health-care workers to meet with representatives of the Nova Scotia Health Authority. It’s been more than a year since the province’s district health authorities merged and the 50 collective agreements for unions expired.
The provincial government has already said the financial offer to all unions is what it is: two years of no increases followed by increases of one and 1.5 per cent, respectively.
Although doctors recently signed a new master agreement with the province reflecting that wage pattern, teachers rejected it and civil servants have yet to vote on the offer (their union, the NSGEU, is not recommending the deal and MacLean doesn’t expect to set dates for a vote until at least next month).
4. Real live street shit
“People in a Halifax courtroom saw more of Jimmy Melvin Jr. than they ever wanted to on Thursday,” reports Steve Bruce for Local Xpress:
The notorious Halifax gangster appeared in Nova Scotia Supreme Court by video link from the Dartmouth jail, wearing only a long white gown that was unfastened in the front, revealing his genitals.
“Cover yourself, for Christ’s sake,” said one of the corrections officers with Melvin.
“You guys got me f—— retarded,” Melvin replied as he resisted the guards’ efforts to close his gown.
“Let go of me. Let go of me.”
Melvin then addressed the judge, who was trying to set dates for a jury trial on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
“Something’s gonna happen today, ’cause I ain’t slept in 10 days,” Melvin said.
“Your Honour, am I supposed to be handcuffed? I’m handcuffed in front of the judge.”
“I have no objection to your being handcuffed,” [Justice Peter Rosinski] said.
Stephen Archibald visited Bridgewater.
The major charm of Bridgewater is the wide LaHave River that divides the town in two. King Street, the historic commercial street, runs along the west bank of the river and demonstrates what happened to downtowns when malls and then big boxes sapped away business.
There were plenty of empty shop fronts and some facades that were striking in their lack of features.
Ron Foley MacDonald uses the excuse of being a “distant cousin” of Jack Kerouac to discuss Kerouac’s stop-by in Sydney “for a raucous shore leave that ended up in some nice working family’s living room after a wild all-night party,” that stop’s representation in Kerouac’s writing, and the Buddhists showing up in Nova Scotia.
John Demont is of that age and temperament where he reads Ian Brown’s 60, a gaze at purpose and meaning in the face of approaching death and in which Brown (and so I guess by default Demont) reads the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six (!) autographical novels entitled My Struggle, which are evidently typically dreadful Scandinavian meaning-of-life dramas — I bet someone plays chess with Death (yeah, I know, that’s Sweden, but close enough).
Couldn’t Demont just buy a sports car?
In any event, Demont uses the novel as a jumping off point to contemplate the Chronicle Herald strike in terms of his own mortality:
Being on strike, and I dearly hope that you never go through it, is like being in a state of suspended animation. You want to be doing something else — working, just like other adults — but it’s out of your hands.
So you do what you can not to let the anger and frustration take over as you watch the paper’s downward spiral. You do your best not to think about how the most valuable thing you possess — time — is slipping away as surely as if some kid were siphoning gas from your tank out in the parking lot while you’re inside watching a movie at the Bayers Lake Cineplex.
4. Cranky letter of the day
I am responding to the On Patrol about the restrictive use of the Public Gardens (The City, July 7). I have heard complaints like this for several years and keep waiting for someone in authority to state the obvious: The Public Gardens is not a “park,” it is a formal Victorian “garden.” Making up part of the garden is the grass lawn with a sculpted edge where it meets the winding path, and if you wish to sit on the grass there is an area on the Summer Street side designated for such use.
The Public Gardens is one of my favourite places, and I don’t want people trampling the grass or children running through the flower beds. The other day I saw a father encouraging his young son to climb one of the trees!
We have lots of parks in Halifax but only one Victorian garden. It is a designated National Historic Site because it is special and rare in North America. I believe the city is doing a poor job of promoting and protecting the true identity of the Public Gardens.
C. Meisner, Halifax
No public meetings.
Thesis defence, Applied Science (1pm, Science 127) — Masters student Ismat Sumar will defend his thesis, “Chemical Applications of Electron Localization-Delocalization Matrices (LDMs) with an emphasis on predicting molecular properties.”
Thesis defence, Applied Science (1pm, Atrium 305) — Masters student Carly Wrathall will defend her thesis, “Propagation and transplanting techniques for native plant species: Living shorelines applications in the Canadian maritime provinces.”
In the harbour
Midnight: Onego Ponza, general cargo, sails from Pier 26 for Philadelphia
6am: Reykjafoss, general cargo, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
7:15: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
11am: Talia, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
11am: Reykjafoss, general cargo, sails from Pier 42 for Portland
4pm: Scotia Tide, barge, sails from Pier 26 for sea
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
10pm: New Breeze, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
6:15am: Maersk Penang, container ship, arrives at berth TBD from Montreal
Noon: Tahoma, US Coast Guard cutter, arrives at NC5 from Boston
Erica Butler has written a new transportation column, and I’ll be publishing it this morning.
Please consider subscribing to the Examiner. Just $5 or $10 a month goes a long way. Or, consider making a one-time contribution via PayPal. Thanks much!