1. Kousoulis ad followup
Yesterday, I commented on the Labi Kousoulis ad that appeared in The Coast last Thursday, and which is still sitting on newsstands. The ad contains the false statement that ““Your Liberal government has frozen clearcutting on Crown lands.”
Later in the day, reporter Jennifer Henderson followed up:
The Liberals have not frozen clearcutting. Crown lands continue to be clearcut at a rate of 80-90 per cent, according to the latest 2015 statistics supplied by the province to the National Forestry Database. Crown forests being harvested include those that were formerly owned by Bowater Mersey, now being logged by companies in the WestFor consortium and Northern Pulp. The companies are working under temporary leases from the McNeil government, which expire this September.
Stephen McNeil refused to answer a direct “true or false” question posed by the Halifax Examiner about the clearcutting statement advertised by the Liberal candidate. Instead, McNeil reiterated that the Liberal platform has promised to delay or “freeze” the granting of long-term, 20-year leases to the same companies cutting today. The long-term leases won’t be signed until another review of clearcutting practices has been carried out by an independent expert the Liberals will appoint.
Read the rest of Henderson’s article here. The short of it is that McNeil said he had nothing to do with Kousoulis’s ad, so Henderson would have to ask Kousoulis directly about it, but Kousoulis’s people didn’t return Henderson’s repeated phone calls.
Last night, however, Henderson did get a email response from Liberal spokesperson Brynn Langille, as follows:
Labi is not available for comment at this point, please see below for a statement on his behalf to clarify the ad in question:
The ad is meant to highlight the fact that a re-elected Liberal government will appoint an independent expert to review our forestry practices. The review will get underway immediately, and no future long-term timber harvesting licenses will be awarded on Crown land until that work is complete.
This is entirely besides the point. As I wrote yesterday:
There are of course plenty of operative not-new long- and short-term licences in place to clearcut Crown land all over the province. What the Liberal platform is addressing is the further opening up of the Bowater lands, which is already being clearcut by a coalition of forestry companies called WestFor.
WestFor is continuing to cut the Bowater land under temporary and short-term licenses already issued by the McNeil government. That’s not changing. What the Liberal platform is promising is to pause the issuance of new long-term, 20-year contracts for cutting the Bowater land.
But there is a vast, vast difference between pausing the issuance of future long-term clearcutting contracts on the Bowater lands and freezing existing clearcutting licences, including short-term licences, on all Crown land in the province, as Kousoulis’s ad implies the Liberals have done.
Kousoulis’s ad is at best misleading. At worst it is an outright lie.
Coincidently, when I did my usual daily document scan this morning, up popped the contracts for WestFor on the provincial website. I haven’t yet had time to read the entire document, but I did note this chart, showing total stumpage allocated to each company in WestFor:
As you can see, clearcutting (almost all logging is clearcutting in Nova Scotia) continued on the Bowater lands last year, and there’s no reason to expect that this year’s contracts were substantially different.
And there’s also no reason to think that the “independent review” of clearcutting will “freeze” any operations whatsoever — the review is to start “immediately,” and new contracts aren’t to be awarded until September, so a four-month review wouldn’t impede logging operations at all.
Contrary to Kousoulis’s ad, clearcutting has not been “frozen.” It continues apace.
Kousoulis is purposefully misleading voters. He owes us an explanation, and an apology.
2. Marc Garneau
“While provincial party leaders made their election pitches to Halifax Regional Council, federal transportation minister Marc Garneau was in town [yesterday] telling Halifax Chamber of Commerce members (paying about $55 a head) all about his new Transportation Modernization Act (Bill C-49),” reports Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler:
Garneau confirmed that there are no plans afoot to look at regulations or legislation that could give VIA a leg up in improving (or saving, as the case may be in the Maritimes) our passenger rail service.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
3. Commuter rail
Speaking of rail, as expected, NDP Leader Gary Burrill yesterday told Halifax Council that a future NDP government would commit $5 million annually in operational costs to a commuter rail system proposed for the Halifax-Bedford rail corridor. The capital costs for the project would have to come from the Trudeau government, said Burrill.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil and PC Leader Jamie Baillie also addressed council yesterday, and each also committed to supporting commuter rail, albeit more vaguely and without tying that support to a solid dollar figure.
4. The horse race
Much election reporting consists of reporting on the horse race: how the parties and each candidate are polling, what the public mood is, etc. I don’t do this, for a few reasons.
First, polls are often wrong, and sometimes very wrong. We can all trot out recent examples, most notably the polls leading up to the election of the imbecilic fascist south of the border.
Secondly, I don’t much care. I mean, the voters will do whatever the voters will do; my job isn’t to discern public opinion but rather to unpack the issues as I see them. Often this means not reflecting public opinion but challenging it. A good example is the constructed world view of neoliberalism — the notion that government is inherently bad; that taxes impede economic growth, which is the only value we cherish; that budgets must be balanced; that the free market first of all exists and secondly is the best way to serve public needs; etc. I say this is “constructed” because despite claims that the “free market” is a fundamental law of the universe like gravity, the neoliberal world view is an entirely manufactured one, a social ideology. We can, and should, live differently, have a different value system, and understand how the world works in different ways. But the manufactured social ideology of neoliberalism is broadly accepted in a sort of knee-jerk fashion, unthinkingly. The neoliberals have won, and rule the world. My job is to challenge that.
Thirdly, it seems kind of weird to be putting out election projections when people haven’t voted yet. People are unpredictable and do strange things in the voting booth, and rather than try to discern their reasons, I’d rather just wait and see what happens.
Which is to say, I don’t much report on polls, and I don’t make predictions about election outcomes.
Still, the CBC has been running horse race graphics of the provincial election, like this one posted by Éric Grenier on Twitter last week:
— Éric Grenier (@EricGrenierCBC) May 18, 2017
Matt Whitman then took that projection and Photoshopped a change to it:
Whitman says that his change in Grenier’s chart reflects comments Graham Steele made on Facebook on May 19, which is true:
And here is my current constituency-by-constituency prediction:
Annapolis – Safe Liberal
Antigonish – Lean Liberal
Argyle-Barrington – Safe PC
Bedford – Safe Liberal
Cape Breton Centre – Lean Liberal
Cape Breton Richmond – Safe Liberal
Chester St. Margaret’s – Toss-up
Clare-Digby – Safe Liberal
Clayton Park West – Safe Liberal
Colchester Musquodoboit Valley – Safe PC
Colchester North – Safe Liberal
Cole Harbour Eastern Passage – Toss-up
Cole Harbour Portland Valley – Toss-up
Cumberland North – Lean PC
Cumberland South – Safe PC
Dartmouth East – Toss-up
Dartmouth North – Lean Liberal
Preston Dartmouth – Safe Liberal
Dartmouth South – Lean NDP
Guysborough Eastern Shore Tracadie – Lean Liberal
Eastern Shore – Lean Liberal
Fairview Clayton Park – Lean Liberal
Glace Bay – Safe Liberal
Halifax Armdale – Toss-up
Halifax Atlantic – Safe Liberal
Halifax Chebucto – Lean NDP
Halifax Citadel Sable Island – Lean PC
Halifax Needham – Safe NDP
Hammonds Plains Lucasville – Lean PC
Hants East – Lean Liberal
Hants West – Lean Liberal
Inverness – Safe PC
Kings North – Safe PC
Kings South – Toss-up
Kings West – Safe LIberal
Lunenburg – Lean PC
Lunenburg West – Lean Liberal
Northside Westmount – Safe PC
Pictou Centre – Safe PC
Pictou East – Safe PC
Pictou West – Safe PC
Queens Shelburne – Toss-up
Sackville Beaver Bank – Lean PC
Sackville Cobequid – Safe NDP
Sydney Whitney Pier – Safe Liberal
Sydney River Mira Louisbourg – Safe PC
Timberlea Prospect – Safe LIberal
Truro Bible Hill Millbrook Salmon River – Lean PC
Victoria The Lakes – Lean PC
Waverley Fall River Beaver Bank – Lean Liberal
Yarmouth – Safe Liberal
So now we go down the rabbit hole: Steele and Grenier disagree — who’s right? who’s wrong? And let’s try to figure out motives: Grenier is a Liberal stooge because Trudeau is giving the CBC lots of money; Steele is NDP, so hates the Liberals. And then there’s the ethics of photoshopping the CBC graphic, which depending on your view is either no big deal or a crime worse than insulting East Asians at a Kingswood intersection.
Here’s an idea: How ’bout if we just let people vote?
Still, I’m going to give Whitman the stink eye:
Speaking of polls, “a new survey suggests that the majority of Haligonians believe Edward Cornwallis’s name should remain on public parks, buildings and street signs,” reports Frances Willick for the CBC:
The survey results, released Tuesday by Corporate Research Associates, showed 58 per cent of respondents “mostly” or “completely” disagreed that Cornwallis’s name should be removed, while 31 per cent “mostly” or “completely” agreed that it should be removed.
Again, part of me doesn’t really care: the majority of people are wrong about all sorts of things. But to the degree that the poll is accurate, it just demonstrates that a broad public conversation is needed around the issue, which is exactly what Halifax council voted for two weeks ago.
I believe that most people are of relatively good will, and once they give the issue a lot of thought, they’ll come around to understanding why the statue should come down. Of course, there will always be these sorts of people:
— Waye Mason (@WayeMason) May 23, 2017
5. Council pay
I had to leave the city council meeting yesterday before councillors got around to debating the pay issue again, but Pam Berman reported:
Halifax council voted Tuesday to link salary increases to Nova Scotia’s industrial wage average, replacing a policy that linked it to council salaries in other municipalities.
As with election polling, you can place “what councillors get paid” in the increasingly bulging “stuff Tim doesn’t care about” folder. Well, except for this: While I don’t care what specific dollar figure councillor salaries are pegged at, I do care that they’re getting paid relatively big money while at the same time they’re passing policies and budgets and approving contracts that ensure that a great many people doing work for the city are being paid crap wages.
Councillors getting paid $82,000 annually isn’t the scandal. The scandal is that councillors are paid $82,000 annually while the people cleaning the Sackville Sports Stadium are paid 12 bucks an hour. The scandal is that people employed by city contractors have to work multiple jobs in order to feed their families. The scandal is that council’s ongoing outsourcing of services condemns working people to a life of poverty.
Earlier this year, council asked for a staff report on a living wage policy. It’s been three months, still no staff report.
I suggest that councillors freeze their salaries until they implement a living wage policy.
Special Events Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 9am, City Hall) — grant time.
Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Prospect Road Community Centre) — John Cascadden will discuss the Otter Lake dump, and Kimberly Berry will talk about a possible trail connecting the Common to the Bluff Wilderness Trail.
Update, 1025am: Cascadden says in the comments: “your Government-City event listing says I will be discussing the Otter lake dump at the Western Commons Advisory Committee (WCAC) meeting; actually I will be discussing the realities of trail usage and the necessity to up-size the 6ft wide Barrier Free trails to be 10ft Barrier Free/Non-Motorized Shared Use trails for better safety for pedestrian traffic and bicycle users who will be sharing the trails, making trail construction easier, making future trail maintenance easier and providing a quasi fire road access service which does not exist in the Western Commons forested areas today. The landfill topic may come up; but it is not the primary focus for my discussion at this meeting.”
No public meetings.
Emergency Care Network (Wednesday, 11:30am, MA 310) — Lauren McNamara will speak on “Measuring Emergency Care Network Coverage with Location-Allocation Models and GIS.”
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Master’s student Shannon Sibbald will speak on “Genomic Footprints in the Cryptomonad Goniomonas — Evidence for Photosynthetic Ancestry?” and Master’s student Carine Nzirorera will speak on “The Role of Autotaxin and Lysophosphatidic Acid in Obesity Induced Cardiac Insulin Resistance.”
Fruitvale Station (Wednesday, 8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Ryan Coogler’s 2013 film.
No public events.
The Icarus Report
• On Friday, Jazz Air flight 8998 left Halifax bound for St. John’s, but the crew reported a “gear issue,” and so returned to Halifax. The firefighters and emergency medical folk were deployed, expecting the worst, but the plane landed safely just before noon, the passengers none the wiser about the terrifying fate they just narrowly avoided.
• at 3pm on Friday, a private plane landed on Runway 32 at Stanfield International and blew a tire. The runway was closed for around 30 minutes, delaying a bunch of other flights for a half hour or so.
• at 7pm on Friday, someone at the Jazz Air station operation centre noticed that Jazz Air flight 8876, about to depart Halifax for Goose Bay, was leaking oil, so the plane was called back and the situation addressed.
• over the weekend, drones were reported flying dangerously close to aircraft in Toronto; Pitt Meadows, BC; Victoria Harbour, BC; London, Ontario; and Kamloops, BC. Now we understand why all those new drone regulations came in.
• on Saturday, the pilot of an ultralight plane reported that elk were running all over the runway at Trout Lake, NT
• Saturday night, the pilot of Endeavor Air 4186, from New York to Halifax, reported “a bright white light (not laser) directed at the aircraft from the ground.” The po-po were called, but nothing was discovered.
• Sunday night, Air Canada flight 271 from Toronto was just about to touch ground in Winnipeg. The passengers were no doubt looking out the windows, thankful their journey was about to end, when suddenly all the runway lights went out due to a power outage. The Transportation Safety Board report doesn’t say if people were screaming or having heart attacks or what have you, but the pilot managed to land safely (do airplanes have headlights?). Just then, the emergency backup generator kicked in and the lights came back on.
• at about 9am on Monday, a bunch of seagulls attacked WestJet flight 1232, which was attempting to take off from Pearson airport in Toronto. They weren’t successful — there was one gull casualty — but they annoyed the pilot.
In the harbour
5:30am: Liberty, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
6am: NYK Nebula, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
7:15am: Crystal Symphony, cruise ship with up to 1,095 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor
The Crystal Symphony is the sister ship to the Crystal Serenity, famous for traversing the Northwest Passage last year. I don’t recall the Symphony stopping in Halifax before, so let’s welcome the ship with the Friends of The Earth review, which gave Crystal Cruises an “F” grade for its environmental record:
Crystal Cruises is a subsidiary of a Japanese shipping company founded in 1998 with its headquarters in California. Crystal operates three cruise ships worldwide: the Crystal Esprit, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony …. Crystal ships were banned from entering the Port of Monterey, California for 15 years after one of its former ships, the Crystal Harmony, discharged untreated graywater, treated sewage and oily bilge into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2003. These discharges were made despite the company’s promise not to discharge any wastewater into the Bay…
Currently, none of Crystal’s cruise ships have installed advanced sewage treatment systems, resulting in a grade of F for the company’s zero percent sewage treatment score. Moreover, none of Crystal’s ships are equipped with scrubbers or plug-in capability, again earning the company an F in air pollution reduction category.
1pm: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Algeciras, Spain
3pm: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
3:30pm: Malleco, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
3:30pm: NYK Nebula, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Antwerp
4:30pm: Crystal Symphony, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Isafjordur, Iceland.
4:30pm: Iver Exact, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from IJmuiden, Netherlands
9pm: Liberty, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
10:30pm: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show at 2pm. Don’t ask me to predict the election results.