1. Ferry management fee
This item is written by Tim Bousquet.
$1.17 million per year.
That’s the amount of the management fee the province of Nova Scotia pays Bay Ferries for operating the Yarmouth ferry — and for three years running, for not operating the ferry.
That $1.17 million is over and above all the other ferry costs — the lease of the boat; keeping staff on standby in 2019, when there was hope there might be a delayed start of the season; the rebuild of the Bar Harbor international terminal; and so forth. All those costs are also borne by the public.
Bay Ferries made public the amount of the management fee yesterday afternoon in a press release, explaining that the fee represented an anticipated 5% profit margin in a “normal” sailing season, whatever that is:
MEDIA ADVISORY – February 22, 2021
In light of the February 16, 2021, decision of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, Bay Ferries Limited (the “Company”) is disclosing the amount of the Management Fee contained in its ferry operation agreements with the Province of Nova Scotia.
Under the Ferry Operations Agreement dated April 1, 2018, between the Province and the Company, the Management Fee for operating the ferry service is $97,500 per month, equating to $1.17 million annually.
The Company may earn incentives equal to the Management Fee based on incentivization wording contained in the Agreement, a copy of that wording is attached. The maximum the Company can earn in any year is two times the Management Fee, or $2.34 million.
Under the initial agreement with the Province of Nova Scotia dated March 2016, the Management Fee was $65,000 per month or $0.78 million annually and similar incentives existed. The Management Fee was adjusted by agreement between the parties in the 2018 Agreement due to substantial additional duties required of the Company which were not contemplated in the original Agreement.
In each of the years the Company has operated the Yarmouth ferry service since 2016, it has received aggregate management fees in the amount of $1.17 million. The Management Fee represents the Company’s margin for undertaking the work. The Management Fee equates to about 5% of all costs of the ferry operation in a normal operating year.
The timing of the release — the day before incoming Premier Iain Rankin is sworn in — means Rankin won’t have to make the political decision to either appeal the court’s decision or simply release the figures. It’s anyone’s guess whether Bay Ferries made this decision to release the figures on its own accord, or if there were some behind-the-scenes discussions between Rankin’s team and the company.
PC Leader Tim Houston responded last night with a video message describing the management fee as “a lot of money”:
Taxpayers have paid at least $3.5M to Bay Ferries over the last three years for a ferry that has not carried a single passenger.
Nearly $100K per month, month after month.
— Tim Houston (@TimHoustonNS) February 22, 2021
Well, there’s no argument: $1.7 million is a lot of money. Especially when the company (admittedly, through no fault of its own) is providing no economic benefit to the province. That’s $1.7 million that could be spent on pandemic relief, affordable housing, child care, or any number of other projects that would actually help citizens.
Still, in the scheme of government budget outlays, maybe the $1.7 million management fee isn’t such a big deal. But if that’s the case, it does make one wonder why the McNeil government was so determined to keep the figure secret. The premier’s spin machine — chock full of communications staff with six-figure salaries — probably costs about in the same ballpark, and while there’s no way to put a dollar figure on it, the price of the secrecy likely had a reputational cost far greater than the cost of the fee itself.
2. New Premier Iain Rankin should revisit costly and environmentally harmful biomass directive
Iain Rankin will be sworn in as premier today and Jennifer Henderson suggests one of the first items on his agenda should be looking at a directive the McNeil government gave to Nova Scotia Power last May that led to an increase in the burning of biomass. Here’s Henderson on the background:
It may come as a surprise to many Nova Scotians who’ve seen all those wind turbines sprout around the province that according to NS Power, coal and petroleum coke still account for more than 53% of the electricity it generates. Last May, NS Power requested a two-year extension in meeting a legislated target of generating 40% of electricity from renewable sources. It blamed the ongoing delay (more than two years and counting) in receiving hydro power from Muskrat Falls in Labrador. The 35-year contract will reduce the province’s dependence on coal by at least 10%, and even more if additional imports from Muskrat Falls can be purchased at market price.
Energy Minister Derek Mombourquette agreed to NS Power’s request to extend the deadline to meet that 40% Renewable Energy Standard (RES) until 2022. The most recent estimate for the arrival of Muskrat Falls hydro to Nova Scotia is the end of 2021. But that is a moving target, with commissioning issues still arising, and an updatNed timeline expected at the end of this month. At any rate, on May 11 of 2020, NS Power told the government it was “confident” it could comply by 2022.
Henderson also looks what how much energy might be generated from biomass at Emera’s Brooklyn plant. Click here to read the whole article.
3. Don’t go chasing waterfalls and leaving a mess behind
Philip Moscovitch always finds the quirkiest stories and really explores what’s going on. In this story, Moscovitch learns how hiking to waterfalls in Nova Scotia has become a popular pastime thanks to the 2018 book Waterfalls of Nova Scotia: A Guide by Benoit Lalonde and Facebook groups like Nova Scotia Waterfalls.
But not everyone is happy about the visitors to these waterfalls. Moscovitch talks with Evan Hansen who owns property in South Rawdon where hikers go to check out the Wood Brook and Greenhill waterfalls. But Hansen put up No Trespassing signs on his property and shared a letter to Facebook groups about some of the problems happening with all those visitors to the waterfalls: Illegal campfires, garbage, feces, and damage to his property. In his letter, Hansen wrote:
During the drought and fire ban this summer, at least two campfires were attempted. One on a high rock ledge in pine needles. The burn circle extended six feet. The other, a green maple tree was cut but because it was green it would not burn fully. There has always been a problem with fires but during a drought it causes a lot of anxiety for myself and my neighbors. Fear of being burned out is real.”
Visitors are causing problems with littering and illegal dumping at other waterfalls, including Pockwock Falls, off the Hammonds Plains Road.
Moscovitch talks with Lalonde, whose book includes an etiquette section which some hikers need to read.
It’s really unfortunate, because waterfall hunting — getting out in nature off-trail — is a wonderful activity. You could literally send 10,000 people on a trail and not know anybody was there. But you can have one bad apple, cutting down a tree or writing graffiti — I think we are seeing more of those. And I find traffic in the wilderness is getting more and more heavy every single year. I remember moving to Nova Scotia 20 years ago and going to Cape Split on a weekend and pretty much having the place to myself. Now it’s like a conveyor belt of people. There is nothing wrong with that — there is an explosion in self-propelled nature adventure — but I think it’s unfortunate there are people out there who don’t respect it.”
And Moscovitch finds out those No Trespassing signs don’t even mean much.
4. COVID-19 update
Nova Scotia announced one new case of COVID-19 on Monday. This new case is a woman age 60-79 who lives in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network. She’s a close contact of a previously announced case.
As always, Tim Bousquet has all the latest graphs on new daily cases and seven-day rolling average, the active caseload, and the potential exposure map.
There are 19 active cases across the province. One person is still in the ICU.
5. Nature Nova Scotia calls out province’s logging plan
Jennifer Henderson reports on Nature Nova Scotia’s response to Lands & Forestry on the “Silvicultural Guidelines for the Ecological Matrix Lands,” version 3. Nature Nova Scotia’s president, Bob Bancroft, says they are “disappointed.”
A first review of this document gives the impression that it is a step forward in an appropriate ecological direction. But closer examination of its decision keys, using the Forest Ecosystem Classification for Nova Scotia, reveals some serious flaws. It becomes quickly apparent that the guidelines favour irregular shelterwood prescriptions.
Henderson includes several of Nature Nova Scotia’s recommendations in its submission to the logging plan. They include preventing clearcutting within 100 meters of rivers and waterways, adjustments to The Wildlife Act Wildlife Act and regulations that will better reflect species-specific wildlife habitat needs, and a repeated call for moratorium on forestry harvests on Crown land that create even-aged forest regeneration.
Pink Shirt Day won’t stop bullying
Tomorrow is Pink Shirt Day, the anti-bullying campaign that encourages kids to wear pink shirts to school to raise awareness about bullying.
I was bullied in school back in the 80s. I was underweight, had crooked teeth, was quiet, and have vitiligo, which caused my hair to start turning grey when I was 13. I was an easy target, although other kids were treated far worse. I won’t go on about my story, but I will say this (and I say it every time Pink Shirt Day rolls around): Had there been Pink Shirt Day when I went to school, the school bullies would have been decked out in pink from head to toe.
Pink Shirt Day got its start in the Annapolis Valley back in 2007. Two students at Central Kings Rural High School, Travis Price and David Shepherd, bought dozens of pink t-shirts for their fellow students to wear in support a student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school (I always wonder what this student thought of this at the time, and how he feels about what the day has become. I don’t think we’ve ever heard from him). Pink Shirt Day is now celebrated around the world. As far as I can tell, there are a few Pink Shirt Day celebrations each year. Because of Price and Shepherd’s campaign, former Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald proclaimed the second Thursday of September “Stand Up Against Bullying Day.” There’s also the International Day of Pink, which is celebrated each April.
Tomorrow’s Pink Shirt Day got its start in 2008 when B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell proclaimed that Feb. 27 to be that province’s anti-bullying day. And the United Nations declared May 4 as Anti-Bullying Day.
Price continued his Pink Shirt Day advocacy beyond high school and made a job out of it. He’s the co-founder of Pink Day. Their slogan is “every day is pink day.” God, I hope not. (I still want to know what the kid who wore that pink shirt thinks of all this).
Pink Shirt Day isn’t just for schools. Workplaces get into the action and share photos of their employees dressed in pink. Even police forces wear pink shirts to work. Pink Shirt Day also makes for great photo ops for social media.
Yet every year on Pink Shirt Day, I see parents share stories about their children being bullied for not wearing a pink shirt to school. Pink Shirt Day was almost designed to benefit the bullies. What if someone doesn’t want to wear a pink shirt or can’t afford to buy a shirt for the day? Those kids are bullied for not taking part. This isn’t real inclusion. Bullying is a complex issue and one day wearing a pink shirt isn’t going to solve it.
Bullying was still baked into the curriculum when I went to school. The most obvious place was in gym class. At my school, the biggest bullies were also the best athletes. Gym class gave them the chance to bully others — through the games and the choosing of teams — and get graded for it. (I was picked last, although I skipped gym in junior high and wrote essays instead). A generation of kids were turned off exercise and its benefits because of the way gym class was structured back then (that’s another article, though). Then there were the hockey games: if the players weren’t fighting on the ice, the parents were fighting in the bleachers.
The teachers at my school didn’t seem to notice all this. This was a time, though, that being bullied was seen as character building, a way to toughen you up for the “real world” — an attitude that is still very common. Some of the teachers were bullies themselves. I remember one brute of a vice-principal yelling at students and even grabbing and slamming them against the lockers if they did something he disapproved of.
But the other problem was that the teachers and administrators liked the school bullies. These kids were the popular kids. They were good looking, athletic, charming, and often funny, although usually at someone’s expense. They knew how to get on the good side of teachers while picking their targets among their peers.
And this is the problem with solving bullying with a t-shirt campaign. For all our hand wringing over solving bullying among kids, we adults are terrible role models when it comes to stopping the practice. In the adult world we bully behind anonymous social media handles, and very often — like we did in school — we like the bullies. We promote them, reward them, name buildings after them, and erect statues in their honour. We ELECT them.
Workplaces are toxic because of bullies— they thrive in a hierarchy. People bully because they believe that to get ahead they have to push down and exclude others; they lash out because of their insecurities, both personal and professional. This often works, and we reward them for it.
In toxic workplaces, the dynamics are the same as in school: the cliques, the gossip, the butt kissers who get ahead without talent and know how to work the bosses for their own benefit; the indifference or the bullying from upper management. Being told if you don’t like it, you can leave (and people do).
Toxic workplaces are making headlines now, like that at Rideau Hall, but for every Julie Payette there are probably hundreds of bully bosses who will never be exposed. Their staff go home at the end of each workday and quietly deal with the effects of the behaviour we admonish our children for doing. And like bullying ends for kids at school when they finally graduate, for these workers the only solution is for them to leave their jobs (I should note, most of the places I worked were great).
The best bosses I ever had were kind and included others. They appreciated everyone for the work they did. They understood everyone’s role was important. They said thank you and gave people credit for their work. They knew that workers were successful in supportive environments, not tyrannical ones. But these bosses were calm, maybe even a little boring. They weren’t the flashy narcissists we seem to love. They were patient, empathic, smart, and had emotional intelligence.
We can do better at choosing leaders. We can also teach people not to just stand by when someone is being harassed.
We also need more mental health resources for kids and adults. I understand, too, that kids who are bullies often have parents who are bullies.
Life got better for me after school. I put on some weight, got my teeth fixed, and discovered Nice & Easy, although I care less now about the grey hair I have.
But to those kids who will watch their tormentors strut around school in their pink swag tomorrow: I see you and I get it. You can even email me, although I know it’s not enough for me to tell you that things will get better.
Pink Shirt Day is a performance and it looks great on social media — it’s very Instagrammable and people love that stuff because it’s easy and fun. (I feel the same way about the Be Kind movement — do people really need social media memes about kindness to remind them to be decent human beings? In fact, many of the pink shirts have the Be Kind logo on them.)
For many kids who are bullied, life will not have changed for them by the end of the celebrations. On Pink Shirt Day, some people won’t even notice the kids who are suffering. I can’t imagine any way in which celebrating Pink Shirt Day would have made mine or others’ situations better when we were in school.
We can certainly make life better for those who are bullied, but that will take tough and long conversations, every day. It will mean looking at the people we value — the ones we promote, honour, award, and elect — and understand that some of them got where they are because of behaviour we don’t want our children using against each other.
It will take adults modelling better behaviour at home and at the workplace. It will mean including others, celebrating differences. It will mean stepping up and sticking up for others. It will certainly take more than the performance that is Pink Shirt Day.
Nova Scotian historian and author Brenda Thompson shared on her blog Poor Houses in Nova Scotia a link to another blog by Dr. Lesley Hulonce called Sex in the Workhouse: Resistance, Submission, or Coercion.
Hulonce, who is a historian and lecturer of health humanities in the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University, writes about William Prosser, the master of Swansea workhouse, who was investigated for “gross immorality”; she also looks at sex and single women in the workhouse, and how mothers of illegitimate children were treated there (not very well, as you might have guessed).
Thompson finds the most interesting and often tragic stories of Nova Scotia history. She shares her own thoughts on what life would have been like for women who were inmates in poor houses across the province:
Imagine yourself as a woman in a poorfarm or poorhouse, scared that you will be there for the rest of your life, stigmatized if you left, unable to get a job that pays you enough to live on (and we are STILL dealing with that issue, both men and women, in 2021 but women are still paid less than men) and a man in a position of power over you, your body, your food, your children, offers you a break if you will have sex with him. What would you do? You really do not know until you are in the situation. Postering and theorizing about what you would do is just that -posturing and theory. As men used sex as a tool of control, we used sex as a tool of resource to help ourselves and our children. We used the poorhouse to develop communities for help and support amongst other poor women.
Hulonce’s writing was shared on the blog called Whores of Yore from Dr. Kate Lister. She has a Twitter account, too, where she shares a Word of the Day and photos of “Historical Hotties,” many of which are of ancestors of readers. She also tweets out out stories about sex, sexuality, and history. Today, she shared photos of women being arrested for wearing bathing suits and an article she wrote herself on the hidden history of women with HIV in the 1980s.
When I first discovered the Twitter account, the use of the word “whore” bothered me. But Lister explains the history of the word and how even she was bothered by using it.
The truth is that I should not have used ‘whore’ in whores of yore; it’s not my word, and if you’re not a sex worker, it’s not yours either. It’s a term of abuse that sex workers hear every day by those seeking to devalue them and shame them. So, why did I call this project whores of yore? ‘Whore’ is a very old word, with a complex and powerful history, and that’s what I wanted to bring to this project. To my ears, whore is an archaic, slightly humorous word, like strumpet and trollop – but, that simply isn’t the reality for many (and a mistake on my part). I have had feedback from many sex workers questioning my use of the term, and for a while I gave serious consideration to changing it. But, the history of that word is an important one, and one that I want to retain, and emphasise. Debate around what ‘whore’ actually means is a conversation worth having.
Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 1pm) — live webcast, with live captioning on a text-only site
Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am) — live webcast, with live captioning on a text-only site
Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm) — virtual meeting; no live or dial-in broadcast
Regional Centre Community Council (Wednesday, 7pm) — live webcast, with live captioning on a text-only site
Human Resources (Wednesday, 10am) — Video conference with streamed text: Safe return to class fund and agency; board and commission appointments. With Cathy Montreuil, David Potter, and Andrew Coates.
Orbispace Mapping Objects: Three Approaches, Two Results (Tuesday, 2:30pm) — Zoom ATCAT seminar, where Doreen Pronk from Dalhousie University will explain
Orbispaces are defined like manifolds, by local charts. Where manifold charts are open subsets of Euclidean space, orbifold charts consist of an open subset of Euclidean space with an action by a finite group (thus allowing for local singularities). This affects the way that transition between charts need to be described, and it is generally rather cumbersome to work with atlases. It has been shown in [Moerdijk-P] that one can represent orbifolds by groupoids internal to the category of manifolds, with etale structure maps and a proper diagonal. We have since generalized this notion further and we now consider orbispaces as represented by proper etale groupoids in the category of locally compact, paracompact topological spaces (they will also be called orbigroupoids). Two of these groupoids represent the same orbispace if they are Morita equivalent.
So we consider the bicategory of fractions with respect to Morita equivalences. For orbigroupoids G and H we can then consider the mapping groupoid [G, H] of maps and 2-cells in the bicategory of fractions. The question I want to address is how to define a topology on these mapping groupoids to obtain mapping objects for this bicategory. This question was addressed in [Chen], but not in terms of orbigroupoids, and with only partial answers.
I will approach this question from three different directions:
- When the orbifold G is compact, we can define a topology on [G,H] to obtain a topological groupoid OMap(G, H) so that Orbispaces(K × G, H) is equivalent to Orbispaces(K, OMap(G, H)). We will also show that OMap(G,H) represents an orbispace.
- For any pair of orbigroupoids G, H we can define a topology on [G,H] to obtain EMap(G,H) so that Orbispaces has the structure of an enriched bicategory: composition induces a continuous functor EMap(G,H) x EMap(H,K) –> EMap(G,K).
- There is a fibration structure on the category of orbigroupoids with groupoid homomorphisms as defined in [P-Warren]. (This can be derived from unpublished work by Colman and Costoya.) This implies that when G and H are stack groupoids, we may restrict ourselves to ordinary groupoid homomorphisms and their usual 2-cells.
In this talk I will discuss the relationships between the topologies obtained in these ways, as well as the relationship with Chen’s work. This is joint work with Laura Scull.
Safe Space for White Questions ‑ February Edition (Wednesday, 12:30pm) — live streamed on Fernwood Publishing’s YouTube channel.
This is a series of free, public, monthly drop-in sessions that are open to all but aimed at people who identify as white and are interested in working toward collective liberation. Come ask the questions about race, racism, social change, and social justice you always wonder about but feel nervous asking. You won’t offend us (unless you’re trying to—please don’t do that!)
Teaching While Black (Wednesday, 5:30pm) — Online panel discussion with Josephine Etowa, Buster C. Ogbuagu, Barb Hamilton-Hinch, Emmanuel Yiridoe, and Sara Torres; moderated by Pemberton Cyrus. Registration and more info here.
A Conversation with The BlackNorth Initiative (Wednesday, 7pm) — livestreamed Shaar Shalom Lecture with Wes Hall and Dahabo Ahmed Omer
discuss the historical context and cultural impact of systemic anti-Black racism in Canada, consider the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and share data showcasing evidence of anti-Black racism. Leave this virtual event with knowledge and actions you can take to become an active ally, create real change in your community, and help end anti-Black systemic racism.
Resistance as Practice: Acts of Anti‑Racism Through Architecture & Planning (Wednesday, 7pm) — via Zoom, the inaugural Robert H. Winters lecture, with Vernelle Noel from the University of Florida. More info here.
Remaking Retail: Distinguished Retailer Speaker Series (Tuesday, ) — Zoom webinar with Jeff Leger from Shoppers Drug Mart, author and consultant Steve Dennis, and Michael LeBlanc of M.E. LeBlanc & Company
The Librarian Is In: Data (Tuesday, 3pm) — online workshop and drop-in session
African Heritage Month Trivia (Wednesday, 7pm) — test your knowledge of the movies Black Panther and Now You See Us, via Zoom
In the harbour
06:00: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
11:30: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for Bilboa, Spain
11:45: Skogafoss sails for Portland
18:00: MSC Angela, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Montreal
The horses at the farm where I take my riding lessons love when I bring carrots for them.