Jennifer Henderson reports:
Legislation introduced by the McNeil government to enable setting up a cap-and-trade system to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as part of a Trudeau directive to slow climate change was debated briefly in the Legislature this week.
What is missing from Bill 15 — “An Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1994-95, the Environment Act” — is any actual “cap” or defined emission targets that will require 20 large Nova Scotia companies to reduce their carbon footprint, nor any indication how that change will affect people who heat their homes and drive their cars.
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2. Examineradio, episode #133
The Energy East pipeline that was supposed to carry oil from the prairies to New Brunswick has been cancelled. You can read about it here and here. Stephen Thomas, energy campaign co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, explains why you should care about this.
Also, we talk about The Dome’s new dress code and Sidney Crosby’s visit to the White House. And yes, we talk about the cartoon depicting El Jones. The cartoonist says it’s not meant to be racist, and the editor of Frank says El doesn’t deserve an apology but readers do.
3. Peter Kelly does Charlottetown
“Staffing strife at Charlottetown city hall; sources point finger at [Peter] Kelly,” reads the headline of a Charlottetown Guardian article by reporter Teresa Wright, who reports that three people have been hired into city manager positions without the jobs being advertised, a human rights complaint has been filed against the city, and another city manager has quit, noting:
[N]umerous sources, including several city staffers who spoke to The Guardian for this story … pointed to CAO Peter Kelly as a key figure at the centre of much of the internal strife.
“You can’t have one man running the whole show,” said one city employee who asked not to be identified for fear of losing their job.
“There’s no avenues for anybody to go.”
Maybe one day the internet will reach to the wilds of Alberta and PEI.
What confuses me here is… well, a lot of things confuse me here.
It’s bizarre that so many people — the folks in retirement homes, the people lining up at John’s Lunch on Good Friday, the majority of voters in several Halifax mayoral elections, the councillors who sided with him, the PC Party that courted him to run federally, the county council in Westlock, the city council in Charlottetown — couldn’t see the patently obvious: that Kelly is at best inept, at times a situational grifter, and likely worse. Or, alternatively, they could see that, but for their own reasons didn’t care.
(And yes, I told you so.)
4. Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
This morning, the province issued a tender offer for extensive renovations of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, looking for a contractor “to install a new aluminum window and entrance system, electronic door hardware, remove and re-install exterior granite panels, re-grading of exterior sidewalks as required to drain water from face of building to street of Bedford Row, and associated renovations at the Nova Scotia Art Gallery.”
All well and good but just two years ago, Lisa Bugden, the then-interim CEO at the AGNS, told Dianne Paquette at the CBC that the AGNS needed to move into a new building in part to host the Annie Leibovitz collection. (Bugden was brought in from NSBI after long-time gallery CEO was booted for failing to properly vet the Leibovitz donation.) Reported Paquette in 2015:
One of the goals over the next several years will be to start working on getting a new building.
“That’s a very exciting discussion that’s ongoing both within the halls of the gallery and with our board and our supporters. I believe that it’s universally understood that we need a new building. We’re talking about protecting a collection that has been lovingly expanded and cared for.”
Bugden says there’s no timeline on building a new gallery.
Who knows? Maybe the province is planning to renovate the current art gallery building only to abandon it next year so the gallery can move into glorious new digs at the Nova Centre or wherever (something has to go into that vacant hotel space). But that seems like a waste of renovating money. More likely, I think, is that there’s a recognition that the Leibovitz collection won’t be displayed any time soon, if ever, so we may as well get on with repairing the existing gallery.
Does anyone know where the Leibovitz collection is, physically? I imagine the photos stacked in soggy cardboard boxes on the floor of the employee washroom in the gallery basement, but probably more care is being given to them — care involving temperature and humidity control and other storage technologies that I can only guess at, but which must be costing a bundle.
5. Drunken students
On Saturday, the police issued an alert to reporters:
Halifax Regional Police assisted extra duties members hired by the university in the area of Jennings St, Halifax in response to a social media release regarding a large gathering of students in the area. Approx. 1200-1500 people were present on the street and in residence. Police arrested 22 people for various Liquor Control Act, Criminal Code and By-Law violations.
The partying was an unsanctioned Homecoming celebration. Anjuli Patil, reporting for the CBC, was on the scene:
A banner hanging outside one house said: “You honk, we drink.”
Adam Neville, a second-year student, said there were about 10 parties going on.
“We’re all in it for the team spirit. Basically it’s a pep rally. It’s all about being … one group, a whole,” said Neville.
“We chose this area where there seems to be a lot of students. It seemed like now would be a better time to make noise as opposed to at night. So I don’t know. During the day, you would think you wouldn’t get fined for partying.”
As the arrests were unfolding, Dal prez Richard Florizone took to the Twitter machine:
2. I am disappointed to hear that some students are drinking excessively and disturbing our community.
— Richard Florizone (@DalPres) October 14, 2017
The Coast posted a video of a collection of videos the partying students had themselves uploaded to Snapchat.
I can’t help but wonder what black people who are stopped by the cops dozens of times for merely existing on the street think when they see hundreds of privileged white college students flipping off police and chanting “Fuck the cops! Fuck the cops!” — without obvious consequence.
Alas, Snapchat uses vertical orientation, so the result isn’t great, but here’s the vid:
Ah, the leaders of tomorrow.
I’m not at all surprised by this. I went to Chico State, which in 1987 (when I was a student) was declared by Playboy Magazine to be the #1 party school in the United States. Probably the Playboy designation had more to do with marketing the magazine than with an actual scientific survey, but the “party” designation was dead on.
Back then in Chico, scenes like those seen on the Dal video were a regular weekend occurrence, and weekends started on Wednesday. The streets north of campus — the “Avenues,” which comprised a series of crappy two-storey student apartment buildings constructed in a development frenzy — was basically just one big roving party. Bands of students would roam the streets carrying booze, popping into one apartment after another. Hundreds of people would be at any one party, and you could hear the din from blocks away.
The actual riots happened south of campus, at fraternity row on Fifth Street. The first riot I recall involved a couch set afire in the middle of the street, but the violence escalated in subsequent riots — rocks and bottles were thrown at the cops, police cars were overturned, and a TV news van was set aflame. (So I was somewhat alarmed to see Patil reporting from the scene Saturday.) Of course the worst of the violence wasn’t seen publicly — scores of young women were physically assaulted and raped. The fraternities were also at the centre of the cocaine trade in Chico (at least for students; the bankers and other professionals had better sources).
But you know, white people, so no big deal.
The joke at the time was that Chico State grads were hired by companies because of their great “social skills.” The thing is, the joke was true: white dudes (especially) went to Chico State, snorted coke and partied for a few years, and then got hired into companies run by some older frat brother. Graduates found opportunity not because of their academic abilities or business education, but because they were a good time and knew how to party.
An entire slice of the California economy wasn’t a meritocracy but rather a partyocracy — and very often that slice even made it into the political elite in Sacramento and the economic elite in boardrooms. Who lost out, of course, were those who were more intellectually or at least academically inclined, those who couldn’t afford to spend five years in a state school two hundred miles from home, and those who even if they managed to work hard and get a scholarship couldn’t break through the colour and social barriers erected around the “in” crowd.
Realizing that, I came away with a distaste for “networking” and a perhaps hyper-awareness that while “merit” and “hard work” are said to be the arbiters of success, in reality society is, well, sociological, and unless we actively guard against it (by, for instance, having anti-descrimation employment laws and union regulations requiring fair treatment for all), society will inevitably devolve into a frat house game of favourites.
6. Pedestrian struck
There’s got to be more to this story… from a police email to reporters this morning:
At 7:30 p.m. [last night] Central Division Patrol members responded to a report of a pedestrian having been struck by a vehicle on the Halifax waterfront boardwalk in the 1400 block of Lower Water Street. Responding members found a 19-year-old man suffering from non-life-threatening injuries. The vehicle involved had fled the scene. Later in the evening, a 22-year-old man was arrested at a residence in Hammonds Plains in relation to the incident. The man remains in custody and the matter remains under investigation by the Integrated General Investigative Section.
1. Tax reform
Stephen Kimber got a lot of push-back for his column last week on the Trudeau government’s proposed changes to the tax code. He gives us a sprinkling of the feedback, then notes:
In the end, the issue comes down to fairness. Why should business people be able to sprinkle income among their not-working-in-the-business family members to reduce their taxes, for example, when salaried folks can’t? Or be entitled to use inside-the-corporation, passive investment vehicles to save for their own retirements when their employees probably don’t have company pension plans at all? Two-thirds of Canadians don’t.
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This “tax reform” issue annoys me.
Our various governments are trying to privilege “entrepreneurship” as the font of all wealth, as the only hope for positive economic growth into the future, as the model for everything good in our society, as….
It’s all nonsense.
For one thing, most new businesses fail. That’s just the nature of things. And yet our governments are encouraging people without the resources to leverage the few assets they have, take out loans they probably won’t be able to pay back, and start businesses that will likely fail. I see the results of these failures almost every day when I review court filings — the Business Bank of Canada, or ACOA, or SEED, or NSBI is suing some person they’ve roped into taking a loan, and because the business went belly-up, the agency is going after the owner’s personal assets. I don’t often report on these cases, because I see the business owners as mostly victims of a giant government conspiracy to bankrupt people. And with that bankruptcy comes loss of a house, perhaps the break-up of a marriage, and all the emotional and mental health problems that go along with it.
There is a better and proven route to economic strength. But it requires stewardship of resources, paying people decent wages to do necessary work in education, medical care, reforestation, energy efficiency, and the like. This necessary work requires a high degree of taxation, and nobody gets filthy rich from it — no one (yet, but they’re trying) has cornered the education industry in Nova Scotia and pays their workers shit wages while parking the billions in profits in the Cayman Islands to avoid taxation. Could you imagine the damage to the social fabric that would cause?
And yet when someone does corner an industry — potatoes, blueberries, lobster, whatever — they’re held up as some sort of business genius we should emulate. But that’s nuts — when someone corners the market, they are necessarily centralizing wealth that should rightly be in the hands of the people actually producing the product — the small farmers and fishing people who are actual entrepreneurs, starting businesses whose survival largely depends on the sweat of their brow — instead of the man (almost always, the man) who has captured government regulatory agencies and otherwise perverted every notion of a free market.
To be sure, there’s a place in a mixed economy for entrepreneurship; see the above farmers and fishers. And I joke: Never go to a cooperative restaurant. They all suck. Running a restaurant takes a chef with a singular vision, an entrepreneur. (It goes south on the other end too: the big chains are basically investment capitalism unleashed, with entirely and predictably lousy results.)
Entrepreneurship, however, is a mixed bag. Mostly we get a bunch of failed ideas and failed businesses, but every now and then we get a decent idea that leads to solid employment for a handful of people, and ever-so-rarely we get a brilliant idea that brings in big returns and big employment. There are, obviously, big investment capitalists willing to bet on various start-ups; they can do what they want with their own money, but very often these “angel investors” are at heart investment scammers, taking suckers’ hard-earned money not so much to produce a return but rather to fund the “angel’s” high lifestyle.
After that, it’s people willing to take their life savings and dump them into a dream. These are often inventive people with insightful or clever or even just quirky ideas, and good on them. They make a small portion of our world more interesting. (You know there’s more to life than business, right?) Good luck!
But no matter how worthy those few individual inventive people may be, entrepreneurship is no basis on which to base an entire economy. In fact, it’s a dodge. Government is privileging entrepreneurship because it doesn’t want to pay workers a decent wage. The message is: “You want to be successful, have a nice home, a good car, a decent retirement? Start a business! Sure, you’ll probably fail, but you aren’t going to make it by finding a good job, so….”
Still and all, shouldn’t we reward those few entrepreneurs who are successful and make it big, as an incentive for others? First of all, they are rewarded, with big incomes. Secondly, though: No, we shouldn’t privilege entrepreneurship above other kinds of work.
Entrepreneurs aren’t working in a vacuum. They don’t discover a virgin, uninhabited planet somewhere out there in the universe and with their bare hands assemble Acme, Incorporated, which then can sell riches to the rest of the universe. Rather, they live in a political, historical, economic, and sociological context. They can’t achieve success unless a whole lot things line up for them, and most of those things don’t involve anything the entrepreneur does.
The successful entrepreneur needs a stable economic order regulated by non-corrupt institutions implementing laws that are enforced by the courts. The successful entrepreneur needs a social order where people don’t regularly violently storm entrepreneur’s houses and places of businesses and take everything. The successful entrepreneur needs an education system that works for the entrepreneur and for the entrepreneur’s employees. And, the entrepreneur needs a banking and investment system that provides loans and financing.
This last needs a lot of thought. More than I can give it here, but we should think about how some people have access to investors, and some don’t. Need I bring up serial failure Harold MacKay, who is never lacking for investors? (MacKay seems like the Nova Scotia equivalent of the California frat boy, successful not because he can run a business, but rather because of who he parties with.) On the flip side are so many people who could use 20K to buy a truck to haul firewood, or finance a CD, or open a small retail shop but can’t because they have no equity and no frat boy friends to cosign a loan. I’m not a huge fan of microloans, but the lack of even the possibility is another form of the inequality that runs deep in our society — the inequality of opportunity.
The two things — privileging entrepreneurship and the inequality of opportunity — are related. As operated, most businesses require a pool of people desperate for work, people who will be willing to work for poverty wages. And you can’t have that pool of people unless you deprive them of opportunity.
At its heart, the celebration of entrepreneurship is a cult of inequality.
2. Cranky letter of the day
I cannot believe that they are going to pave Hwy. 103 from Hubbards to the new Ingramport exit. My wife and I got home to Chester Grant from Halifax the other day, and there is not a blemish on that highway. No cracks, bumps, potholes, nothing. It is like it was paved this summer.
Why doesn’t the Department of Transportation send some of its engineers to Chester and tell them to take a drive from there to Mahone Bay on Hwy. 3? Now there’s a road that is desperately in need of a paving job. It’s one of the iconic tourist drives in our province and it’s an embarrassment.
Of course, there is a hitch; it’s not in HRM where the votes are. It must be wonderful to have the combination to the vault of all that taxpayers’ money and waste it wherever you want. I’d like someone to explain the logic of this to me.
Ian Munroe, Chester Grant
Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — the commission will look at the problems with the police evidence room, which is still missing $42,861.62.
North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, Bedford Hammonds Plains Community Centre) — here’s the agenda.
City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — a light agenda.
Public Participation Committee Case 20573 (Tuesday, 3:30pm, HEMDCC Small Meeting Space, Alderney Gate Public Library) — W. M. Fares wants to build a seven-storey, 70-unit apartment building at 651 Portland Hills Drive.
Law Amendments (Monday, 9am, Province House) — before the committee:
Bill No. 16 – Adult Capacity and Decision-making Act (with representation)
Bill No. 7 – Workers’ Compensation Act
Bill No. 15 – Environment Act
Bill No. 17 – Solemnization of Marriage Act
Bill No. 19 – An Act to Amend Various Consumer Protection Statutes
Bill No. 27 – Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act
Bill No. 29 – Marine Renewable-energy Act
Bill No. 33 – Gas Distribution Act
Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)
PhD Defence, Chemistry (Monday, 10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — Justin Tom will defend his thesis “The Influence of Carbon-Oxygen Surface Groups and a Water-Miscible Primary Alcohol on the Voltammetric Detection of Bovine Hemoglobin in Aqueous Electrolyte using Carbon Electrodes.”
Dalhousie Mawio’mi 2017 (Monday, 11am, Studley Quad – Rain Venue: McInnes Room, Dalhousie SUB) — a showcase honouring community Elders on recognized unceded territory, with traditional food, crafts, vendors, dancers, drummers, and a powwow.
“From Mr. Pickwick to Tiny Tim: Charles Dickens & Medicine” (Monday, 4:30pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Nicholas Cambridge from the University of Buckingham will speak.
Playwriting Masterclass (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 1102, Marion McCain Building) — Catherine Banks, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama in 2008 (Bone Cage) and 2012 (It Is Solved By Walking) will lead the class.
Baby Boomers and Health Care (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1009, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — a panel discusses “After the Boom: Reimagining Health Care After a Generation.”
The Rich Structure of Affine Geometric Spaces (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Geoff Cruttwell from Mount Allison University will speak. His abstract:
Continuing the previous talk on geometric spaces in a tangent category, we focus on the sub-tangent category of affine geometric spaces: those objects equipped with a flat torsion-free connection. Following ideas of Jubin, we show that this category has an astonishing variety of monads and comonads on it, with many distributive laws relating these monads and comonads. This is joint work with Rick Blute and Rory Lucyshyn-Wright.
Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — the Ocean Tracking Network and the Ocean Frontier Institute agreements will be ratified.
The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book (Tuesday, 7pm, Sir James Dunn Theatre, Dal Arts Centre) — a performance “combining the haunting imagery of the 14th century manuscript and the musical traditions of Spain, Italy, Austria, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
M (Monday, 6:30pm, in the theatre named after a bank in a the building named after a grocery store) — a screening of Fritz Lang’s 1931 film starring Peter Lorre.
No public events.
In the harbour
5:30am: American Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Portbury, England
7:15am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York
10am: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Saint John
3pm: American Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5:45pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
I may have a news article this morning. Check back.