1. Ships.Start.Costing a lot of money
“The federal government’s multibillion-dollar effort to replace the navy’s warship fleet could cost taxpayers 2.4 times more than first expected, Ottawa’s budget watchdog warned Thursday in a new report,” reports Andy Blatchford for the Canadian Press:
And the longer a process tripped up by delays drags out, the more it’s going to hurt the public piggy bank, the analysis found.
The parliamentary budget officer estimates Ottawa will have to spend nearly $61.8 billion to replace 15 ships — more than twice the original 2008 budget of about $26.2 billion.
Looking at a per-ship price tag, the cost is likely closer to $4.1 billion, rather than the $1.7-billion estimate released in 2008 by the then-Conservative government.
At that higher rate, the office believes the government would only have enough cash to buy six ships, if it still expects to keep the program on budget.
Of course, local warship construction enthusiasts will no doubt break out their super-sharpened economic impact calculating pencils and show that cost overruns are a good thing for the local economy.
Take, for instance, the Conference Board of Canada’s economic impact report on the shipbuilding contract, which notes that “increased demand for the products and services of a specific industry [i.e., shipbuilding] will not only have direct impacts on the economy but will also spread through the economy through a series of multiplier effects.”
Multiplier effects, eh? This nifty table illustrates the total impact:
Therefore, $26.2 billion in procurement would have translated into a $20.9 billion increase in Nova Scotia’s GDP. But with cost overruns bringing the total price of the contract up to $61.8 billion, the increase in GDP zooms all the way up to $49.4 billion! And we thought the original shipbuilding deal was going to make us all rich — now we’ll be walking on streets paved with gold!
Cost overruns for shipbuilding are like when a hurricane slams into the Florida coast and kills a gazillion people, or when an earthquake destroys Vancouver — they’re good for the economy because a bunch of people have to be employed to respond to the catastrophe.
(I regret having to explain this to the snark-impaired, but I’m merely pointing out the utter ridiculousness of economic impact reports.)
2. Why it doesn’t matter which party you vote for
Yesterday, we published an excerpt from Linda Pannozzo’s latest book, About Canada: The Environment. In the passage, Pannozzo works through how neoliberalism took hold in Canada:
Neoliberalism was touted as the “bitter pill” and people obediently swallowed. Even though a hands-off approach to economics was detrimental to the interests of ordinary people, governments of all stripes advanced these policies and continued to get re-elected. Persuasion and coercion were so successful that today there is no longer any debate about neoliberal assumptions — it is economic orthodoxy believed by the public, the mainstream media, and political parties of all stripes.
3. Peter Kelly
“City of Charlottetown Mayor and Council are pleased to announce that Mr. Peter Kelly has been hired permanently as the City’s Chief Administrative Officer,” the city announced in a press release issued yesterday:
Mr. Kelly was appointed on May 1, 2016 on a probationary period, which has now been lifted. Members of Council completed individual performance evaluations of Mr. Kelly and collectively decided to make him a permanent employee effective May 24, 2017.
Kelly is the former Halifax mayor who declined to run for reelection after the concert scandal and after I revealed that he had removed over $160,000 from a dead woman’s bank account without authority.
The Charlottetown release notes that “Council did indicate in the offer to Mr. Kelly that should he be convicted of being in violation of any law, his employment status would be reviewed.”
That line is a cryptic reference to the province of Alberta’s ongoing review of Westlock County, where Kelly had served as CAO. As I wrote last August, the review is related to alleged malfeasance on Kelly’s part:
Peter Kelly is personally liable for $194,000 in costs incurred by Westlock County, Alberta, but it would be difficult to get a court judgment against him.
That’s the opinion of Kelsey L. Becker Brookes, a lawyer with Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer, a firm retained by Westlock County.
Kelly, the disgraced former mayor of Halifax, was hired as CAO of Westlock County in August 2014 and worked through February 2016. He has since been hired as the CAO of Charlottetown.
As I’ve detailed previously, in Westlock, Kelly oversaw the “Horizon North” project at the Westlock Industrial Park that ended up costing the county nearly $400,000, of which the county wrote off over $200,000. Sue Oberg, the Assistant CAO and CFO of Westlock County, has publicly said Kelly overstepped his authority.
The Westlock County review is due to be finalized “mid-summer,” but I guess the C-town council couldn’t wait.
Dude can’t help himself. There will be a Charlottetown scandal involving Kelly soon enough.
4. Those Other McNeils
Yesterday, I mentioned that Robin McNeil, brother of Premier Stephen McNeil, has been named Deputy Chief of the Halifax Regional Police Department, a position another McNeil brother, Chris McNeil, held before he retired after allegedly lying under oath to protect a fourth brother and another cop, Anthony McNeil.
Here’s a scorecard for the Other McNeils at the Halifax PD:
Chris McNeil: former Deputy Chief at the Halifax PD who retired after allegedly lying to the police review board, and brother of Stephen McNeil, Robin McNeil, and Anthony McNeil.
Robin McNeil: newly named as the Deputy Chief at the Halifax PD and brother of Stephen McNeil, Chris McNeil, and Anthony McNeil.
Jason McNeil: sergeant at the Halifax PD and Chris McNeil’s son.
Anthony McNeil: sergeant at the Halifax PD and brother of Stephen McNeil, Chris McNeil, and Robin McNeil.
Joanne McNeil: sergeant at the Halifax PD and spouse of Anthony McNeil.
Looks like the Halifax PD is a family business.
This feels like a really crappy 1970s cop shop sitcom, where the recurring gag has someone running into the squad room yelling “Sergeant McNeil!” and hilarity ensues. Also: antics. Don’t forget the antics.
Or we could discuss, you know, nepotism. The Deputy Chief of Police will inevitably have to make management and personnel decisions that involve his brother, his sister-in-law, and his nephew. That can’t possibly end well.
Oh, there’s another McNeil brother who is a cop:
Burt McNeil: Police Chief in Annapolis Royale and brother of Stephen McNeil, Chris McNeil, Robin McNeil, and Anthony McNeil.
5. Puppies, rainbows, and insulting your constituency
“Former Nova Scotia community services minister and Liberal MLA for Dartmouth North, Joanne Bernard, is blaming her election defeat Tuesday, in part, on what she calls ‘false hope’ offered by the NDP,” reports Elizabeth Chiu for the CBC:
“When NDP candidates are at the door, they’re talking to people who may be struggling — the promise of puppies and rainbows resonates,” Bernard said in an interview with CBC after packing up her constituency office on Thursday.
Bernard was referring to the NDP’s promise of a $15 an hour minimum wage among its social policy pledges to help pull people out of poverty.
Those unrealistic poor people thinking they should be able to work their way out of poverty.
6. Hotel Watch
In case anyone is interested, we’re now seven months away from the supposed opening of the Nova Centre… and still no hotel operator has been announced. I’m not in the hotel biz, but I would expect it’d take pretty close to seven months to brand a hotel, furnish the rooms, train the staff, and so forth. But again, what do I know?
No public meetings.
In the harbour
5am: YM Movement, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
10am: UACC Manama, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Terneuzen, Netherlands
1pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
3pm: Budapest Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Fos Sur Mer, France
3:30pm Manon, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
8pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
Examineradio will be published this afternoon.