1. Ships Sputter Here
“Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding says it is in talks with the federal government over a looming gap in construction of two new fleets of ships for the navy, which the company warns could result in ‘significant layoffs if left unaddressed,” reports Lee Berthiaume for the Canadian Press:
The shipyard wants the government to give it additional work to make sure workers don’t sit idle between when the first fleet of Arctic patrol vessels is finished and work begins on the second fleet of much larger warships.
Work on the Arctic patrol ships is expected to wind down in 2019.
Construction of the warship fleet — which will replace the navy’s frigates and destroyers — won’t start until at least 2021.
I’m so old I remember when building warships was the path to prosperity forever, amen.
Berthiaume goes on to relate a fascinating back story hinting at possible corruption:
The surprise suspension last month of the military’s second-highest-ranking officer has thrown another potential wrench in the mix. Vice-Admiral Mark Norman was deeply involved in the warship project in his previous role as commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said Norman’s suspension was not related to national security, which has left many questioning whether there was any link to the federal government’s shipbuilding plan.
2. Lantz Interchange
“The interchange is a big deal,” [municipal councillor Stephen King] said. “It would be transformational. It would be a reason for people to build and what not. Being so close to metro, a bit more affordable, it would be fully serviced, a pretty nice location in my totally unbiased opinion.”
King attended a school review meeting at Maple Ridge Elementary in Lantz last week and said some of the related scuttlebutt there was about at least two major developers ready to swing into action when the interchange becomes a sure thing.
“One of the developments is geared toward entry-level housing like duplex complexes, which means young families,” King said. “There are very few places in the province of Nova Scotia where there is much growth, let alone young families.”
King said an interchange that will traverse the 102 will open the huge tract of backwoods land to the northwest of the four-lane highway in the Elmsdale-to-Milford corridor.
“We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of lots. We’re not just talking a small subdivision. It opens up commercial possibilities. The other thing it does is it opens up the other side of the highway and the lands over there. You drive between Elmsdale and Milford, there is a hell of a lot of land there. There is just no access to it.”
So in other words, total sprawl.
But besides the issues of sprawl and political spoils, what about money?
Highway interchanges are expensive — when it was built in 2010, the Mount Hope Interchange in Dartmouth cost about $12 million, and that was on land already set aside for that purpose. Given inflation and the land acquisition costs, let’s guess that a new Lantz interchange will cost in the ballpark of $20 million.
That kind of money would go a long way to extending Via Rail’s proposed commuter service from downtown Halifax to Windsor Junction out to Lantz.
But never mind rail, consider simple fairness. Why should Lantz residents get a free-to-them interchange to open up the area for suburban sprawl when rural residents are being asked to pay tolls to twin highways to save lives?
I’d ask the same question about urban projects: Why won’t the Burnside-Sackville Expressway be tolled? Are HRM residents more virtuous than residents of Antigonish?
[UPDATE, 10am: Andrew Younger informs me that the Burnside-Sackville proposal includes tolls. That’s the first I’ve heard on that.]
Understand that I’m against all tolls: If highway infrastructure is needed, we should pay for it out of the highway budget, and projects should be ranked by their need, not political expediency.
3. The secret war over the Dalhousie Mace
This is about story that I can’t write because no one will talk to me about it. It involves the Dalhousie Mace, which, the Dal website explains, is used at convocation (graduation) ceremonies:
The Dalhousie University mace is carried into the auditorium by the University Beadle. The mace was first carried in an academic procession in May 1950 and once placed onstage begins Convocation.
The mace was designed by R.L. de C.H. Saunders, a Professor of Anatomy, and carved by A.H. MacMillan of Halifax. It is made of oak, enriched with silver and enamel, and measures 1.4 metres in length.
I had no idea what the “University Beadle” is, and the first time I saw that I read it as “University Beagle,” which would be great, but alas, since then I’ve learned that the Beadle is a sort of ceremonial church security guard. Yes, the Christians are still running the show at Dal grad ceremonies.
Anyway, the Mace was agendized for last week’s University Senate meeting:
IN CAMERA: Mace Re‐think Project*
Presenter: Peter Dykhuis, Chair, Mace Re‐think Project and Director, Dalhousie Art Gallery
Re: Strategic Priority 4.4 Prepare for Dalhousie’s 200th Anniversary in 2018 and Strategic Priority 5.2 Foster a collegial culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness
I don’t know what the asterisk is about. Maybe it’s code for “kick Bousquet out of the room.”
I wondered about that “in camera” thing, but I’ve been going to Senate meetings regularly for a while (I have perverse pleasures), so I thought I’d see how it went. Sure enough, however, just after the agenda was approved, they kicked all the non-Senators out of the room. I gathered up my coffee and voice recorders and camera and computer and backpack and jacket and hat and gloves and trundled out to the corridor with the staffers, because apparently talking about the Mace Re-think Project is a top secret affair, something really delicate that you wouldn’t want a reporter to be a fly on the wall for, because next thing you know, he’d be writing about it in Morning File.
Well, I’m nothing if not resourceful, so while waiting in the corridor I used my superpower of googling to learn more about the Mace, and found a Dalhousie Review article written by none other than R.L. de C.H. Saunders, Professor of Anatomy and designer of the Mace, himself. It begins:
THE DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY
R.L. DE C.H. Saunders
THE design and history of university maces is rather an obscure subject, since no comprehensive study has been made of their origin or evolution. Their similarity to civic and ecclesiastical maces is interesting, in that all would appear to have been derived from the military mace, which later came to symbolize regal authority. Whence it might seem that they were varied expressions of that great movement toward local self-government that has characterized British history since the days of Magna Carta.
Saunders’ description of the Mace he designed is simultaneously hilarious and cringe-inducing:
The Dalhousie University mace has been designed by the author to relate symbolically as the eye ascends its length the proud maritime tradition of the seagirt provinces and the historical heritage of the university that serves them. It is being carved in oak and enriched with silver and enamel, and will be four and a half feet in length.
The lower end, or what is technically known as the button, is adorned with silver ﬁsh in recognition of the source of our economy. It may be noted that the ﬁsh is also an early symbol of Christianity. Above this is a carved circular scene depicting a sea nymph calling across the waves toward the setting sun in representation of the impulse that led navigators to sail westward to our shores.
The roots put down by the early settlers, and the tall trees that ﬁrst met their gaze are formally suggested by a simple grooved pattern extending the entire length of the shaft.
The head of the mace ﬁrst bears the distinctive leaf of the national emblem, the maple. Set above this is a carved circlet of mayﬂowers, simultaneously symbolizing the province and the ﬂowering of the new civilization therein which led to the establishment of the university.
Four robed mediaeval scholars facing the main compass points represent the university faculties and their old world heritage. Each ﬁgure bears a silver enamelled shield emblazoned with either the arms of the University or the province of Nova Scotia. Alternating with these ﬁgures are the rose, thistle, ﬂeur-de-lys. and shamrock, depicting the major racial groups of our country.
The uppermost part of the mace head is surmounted by a ﬁve-rayed Scottish earl’s coronet in recognition of the University founder, the 9th Earl of Dalhousie. This part of the mace will incorporate some oak kindly presented by and felled on the estate of the present Earl.
Gracing the cap of the coronet and therefore set above all is a silver Celtic cross surrounded by the university motto “Ora et Labora”. This type of early cross was chosen as one most beﬁtting a non-denominational institution with Scottish amliations.
In conclusion, it will be seen that the mace in its general design conforms both in pattern and material to historic and academic precedent, while maintaining an originality that is essentially linked with the story of Dalhousie University.
Aha! Putting two and two together — the imperial and racial symbolism of the Mace and the desire to “Foster a collegial culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness” — I guessed that someone or someones at the university thinks (or Re-thinks) that maybe it’s not a great idea to have a symbol of Imperialism used at graduation ceremonies, especially when we’re supposed to be all about that Truth and Reconciliation business.
And you know what? I’d be on that page. Let’s talk about that, eh? But wait, I was kicked out of the room, and no Senators would break the in camera gag order afterwards.
So, after I trundled back into the hall with my second cup of coffee and voice recorders and camera and computer and backpack and jacket and hat and gloves, I emailed Peter Dykhuis, the Chair of the Re-think Project (that hyphen bothers me, but what are you going to do?), to ask what’s up. His response came a couple of days later:
Thank you for your interest in the Mace Re-visioning project. I have forwarded your email along to Lindsay Dowling in Communications and Marketing and she will be in touch with you regarding your request.
Wait, has the Re-think Project been renamed the Re-Visioning project? I wonder what the consultant charged for the rebranding exercise.
Lindsay Dowling emailed back a couple days later:
I was forwarded your request to find out more about the mace re-visioning project by Peter Dykhuis.
The University has struck a committee to respond to recommendation seven in our Belong report calling on the University to acknowledge and reflect on our rich history and examine the role of the University’s current ceremonial mace in Dalhousie’s induction and convocation ceremonies. The committee’s mandate is to develop a process to commission the design and creation of a new ceremonial device that better reflects the university’s values and diverse community. At this point in time, the committee is still determining how to best achieve this mandate. Once the committee has determined the best approach, we would welcome the opportunity to chat with you about this project further.
This is just silly. It’s perfectly reasonable to talk about getting rid of some stupid made-up mucky muck symbolism invented by a crazed Anatomy prof with a fetish for Scottish royalty, and doubly so since the symbolism is sending the wrong message in the supposed age of Reconciliation. The Mace is utter bullshit. Why would anyone at all give two shits if it was tossed in the MacDonald Hall dumpster and replaced with, I dunno, a drum circle?
Reasonable people — especially academics who say they cherish open dialogue — would have this conversation in the open, would welcome reporters, would want the community to be involved. That way, we would be having adult conversations about things that matter.
Instead, I’m just making fun of pointless and ridiculous secrecy.
4. Put me in coach
This week we have 13 new company & society registrations. We’ve also been noting recent ACOA awards, including this one:
University of King’s College
They’ve gentrified the Wardroom! The University has received a $100,000 grant for renovations to the HMCS King’s Wardroom, the student pub. The full project costs are said to be a cool half-million and change. According to a Signal article, the renovations are already complete:
Gone are features like the foosball tables and the carpeted floor. One key change patrons noted throughout the evening was that it isn’t “dirty” anymore.
“It’s cleaner, more streamlined, doesn’t smell like rank beer from the carpet,” says Faye Campbell, a Wardroom employee who was working the door.
While some students embraced the new Wardroom, others were hesitant. Lucis Tennen, a second-year King’s student, says he “might warm up to it.”
“It seems less personal,” he says. “Like, you come in before and it’s carpeted, there’s a pool table, it’s a little dingy. This seems too nice.”
Best thing about the old Wardroom was the cheap beer. I hope they didn’t gentrify that.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
5. The hilarity continues
“We cancelled our subscription to the Chronicle Herald over a year ago but just moved into a home that still receives flyers which I haven’t gotten around to cancelling,” writes reader Matt Spurway. “I couldn’t help take a quick scan of the community paper and this was the first thing my eyes stopped on to read.”
“I was standing at the time,” continues Spurway. “My knees started to wobble. My vision began to blur. I tried to say something to my wife but I couldn’t tell if the sounds I was making were actual words…
“I’m okay now, thankfully, and although I’m embarrassed to admit what I did, I feel compelled to share my story in the hope that others are spared.”
We all make mistakes, and it seems petty to make a big deal out of one or two (or in this case, at least three) spelling or grammar errors. But the collective volume of the screw-ups is what earns the Herald the title of Shittiest Daily Newspaper in Canada.
Speaking of mistakes, yesterday I mentioned the proposal by north end Dartmouth councillor Peter Mancini to ban plastic bags. His actual name is Tony Mancini. Peter’s another guy. This was a total error on my part — not a “Shittiest Daily Newspaper in Canada”-level error, but an error all the same. My apologies to Tony, Peter, and all the other Mancinis out there, and to readers. I shall strive for better.
1. Cranky Letter of the Day
Vis-a-vis the people detained at USA airports, even those with the legitimate entry Green Card.
The first time my young husband and I (we were 20 years old) visited the USA, travelling on the bus from Montreal to Boston, we were stopped at the border. All men with long hair were directed to get off the bus. Having arrived from England shortly before our proposed U.S. visit, my husband, along with several other male travellers, had long hair, as was the fashion for all young British men at the time.
Being rather naive and already feeling a little confused as immigrants we were amazed and a little afraid at this edict. Some, my husband included, were offended by a demand to exit the bus. I can therefore, feel for those Green Card immigrants to the U.S. who were taken aside, questioned, and hopefully all released.
Many years later I too had my Green Card (a rigorous and thorough procedure which gave one permission as a landed immigrant to enter and work in the U.S. — I was not stopped at the border then but welcomed) and worked in New York City. However, when I was refused admission by police to enter Central Park one, stifling hot weekend as it was too dangerous, I felt discouraged. I returned to Montreal and as I had previously and ever since thanked Canada for being, in my opinion, the best and most civilized country in the world.
Hilary Prince, Stratford
No public meetings.
Hydrocarbon Fingerprints (11:30am, Science Building S310) — Dr. Todd Ventura speaks on “Searching for a Hydrocarbon Fingerprint from Earth’s Past Subsurface Biosphere.”
Thesis Defence, Women and Gender Studies (1pm, Loyola 188) — Heather Baglole will defend her thesis, “Speak: Questioning Ethics, Feminism, and Representation in Verbatim Theatre.”
In the harbour
2:30am: ZIM Ontario, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
10:30am: NYK Remus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 to Saint-Pierre
6pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 to St. John’s
Episode #99 of Examineradio will be published later today. Also, an article about no sex.