1. Teacher deal
The province has reached a tentative deal with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, according to a press release issued by the Department of Education.
Details of the deal won’t be released until union members vote on it.
This is surprising. I had assumed the government was going to make the same miserly offer to all public employee unions — no raises for three years, and just one percent raises in each of the following years. It’s hard to believe if that’s what was offered to teachers, the union would agree to it.
“A lawyer for Irving Shipbuilding entered a not guilty plea Thursday to charges under Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker suffered a serious head injury at the Halifax Shipyard in 2014,” reports the Canadian Press.
3. City Hall reporting
I’ve been reporting on Halifax City Hall for about a decade. It’s not easy. When I started, I didn’t know any of the councillors so I made a seating chart of the then-23 councillors, and started making notes to myself about each councillor’s quirks, obsessions, personalities, pet issues, etc. Same with staff and the mayor, Peter Kelly.
Reading staff reports can be a bear — this week’s report on commercial taxes was 150 pages long — and if a reporter hasn’t been following along for months or even years, it is quite a learning curve to get up to speed. There’s no short cut to learning the historical context of an issue — you have to dig into the files and read it all.
Still, through the past decade I’ve been lucky to share the press gallery with a few excellent reporters. Recently, however, I’ve learned that two of the very best City Hall reporters are leaving.
Brett Bundale worked as Chronicle Herald business reporter until about a year and a half ago, when she was moved over to City Hall. I’ve been much impressed with her doggedness and the thoroughness of her work; she’s an old school beat reporter who takes her job seriously and with a grace that has always eluded me. Bundale has taken parental leave — I hope she returns to City Hall, but there’s no telling where Chronicle Herald management will place her.
Stephanie Taylor is Metro’s City Hall reporter. She’s young, smart, and energetic. Taylor has skillfully mastered the economy of words that Metro’s short articles require. She is informative, cuts through the crap, and has an edginess that many reporters with more experience have never learned to embrace. Taylor has just been hired to Metro’s Winnipeg paper. She’ll excel and go far — there’s no doubt we’ll hear more from Taylor in her future endeavours.
We reporters like to pretend we’re loners working in isolation, but the truth is we all feed off each other. Bundale’s and Taylor’s hard work has benefitted me, and perhaps my long-term knowledge has helped them out occasionally. One thing is for certain: the City Hall reporting pool is now more shallow, and those of us left will have to up our game.
4. Georges Island
Gary Brinton gives us a drone tour of Georges Island:
1. The Younger Games
“On the first day of the House sitting, for the first 10 minutes or so, all eyes will be on Andrew Younger,” wrote Graham Steele in his CBC column, published yesterday morning before the legislature opened:
Where will he sit? Will he even show up? If he does, what will he say on his way into the chamber? What will he do when he gets there?
Younger was booted from the Liberal caucus as well as the Cabinet.
Because of the circumstances of his ouster, the other caucuses will not welcome him into their fold.
So now that’s he’s independent, Younger has nothing to lose by sharing what he knows about internal Liberal politics, the tensions and trade-offs inside the Liberal caucus.
Every government has secrets they’d rather keep to themselves, and if Younger decides to start spilling, things could get interesting.
Turns out, Younger didn’t do anything terribly interesting at Province House, although the opposition parties made a big deal out of his removal from the Liberal caucus. But by evening, Younger gave CBC his secretly recorded conversation with Premier Stephen McNeil’s chief of staff, Kirby McVicar. The recording was made February 12.
This perplexes me. I think even after everything that has happened, it was possible that if Younger kept quiet, kept his head down, and voted with the Liberals, he’d eventually get back into the caucus. Or, if he judged that was impossible, Younger could’ve “start spilling” Liberal secrets, as Steele thought.
The recording doesn’t seem too outrageous to me — Younger was negotiating with the Liberals to get reappointed to cabinet after he took a leave of absence to deal with the Gault matter:
In the audio file, McVicar is heard trying to convince Younger that while he no longer has the complete trust of the premier, it’s possible Stephen McNeil would welcome him back into cabinet.
“There is a path back,” said McVicar. “The premier will leave your name in executive council without a portfolio so it will be easier when we get to that point.”
That “path” back to cabinet would require the police investigation and legal case to be resolved.
“There’s a couple of things that are on that path. And the first one is this … the end comes to the legal situation that has arisen around. And hopefully that doesn’t go … you know … it gets tossed and that’s the anticipation, and great,” said McVicar.
“The premier wants the legal stuff to be dealt with.”
That actually seems reasonable. (I’ll ignore that McIvar called reporters “animals.”) I doubt McVicar expected Younger to invoke parliamentary privilege — if McVicar had suggested it, surely Younger would’ve released a recording of it. It may have been unrealistic to expect that the case against Gault would be “tossed,” but McVicar seems straight-forward about Younger’s future with the party.
Younger threw a wrench into the deal by invoking parliamentary privilege and then misleading McNeil.
But it may not be as simple as that. Younger and his wife, Katia Younger, released a statement Wednesday (he didn’t send it to me, which is why I didn’t report on it yesterday), with some new details, including:
Following the dismissal of charges [against Gault], Mr. McVicar texted Andrew saying “Good news today.” This was followed by the Premier publicly indicating his trust in Andrew, reaffirming our faith in the Premier and his office, and the trust we had placed in him since December. It was a complete shock then, to receive the phone call hours later from Mr. McVicar to say Andrew was being removed from Cabinet and Caucus.
Parker Donham published the entire letter, and notes:
I’m inclined to accept that the premier’s office—read, “the premier” — dictated Younger’s response to the Gault prosecution throughout the events of the last year, and McNeil’s last minute decision to cut Younger loose reflected a political calculation that the heat had become too much to bear, rather than any point of principle about alleged misrepresentations.
A lot of people are making absolute statements about this mess, but I’m seeing it as a complex human drama that we’re all contributing to: Andrew and Katia Younger, Gault, McNeil and his staff, the opposition parties, and, yes, all us looking in. Part of the drama is a marriage and its intimacies, which are none of my business and of which I make no presumptions.
(h/t to @Sack-Vegas for “The Younger Games”)
Lezlie Lowe happens to know the woman Ahror Mamadiev sexually assaulted in his cab, and was there for his trial:
She didn’t pursue charges to punish Mamadiev. She didn’t hope to see him humiliated. She didn’t want his family to suffer for his actions. The sentence, she says, is fair.
And here’s what it is: Mamadiev was handed a conditional discharge. He got a year of probation, must complete 50 hours of community service, pay a $100 victim surcharge fee and stick to a weapons ban for three years. He was forced to provide a DNA sample and his name will be registered under the Sex Offender Information Registration Act for 10 years. If he meets all those conditions, his discharge will be absolute. He will have no criminal record, but the finding of guilt will still be registered.
But allowing him to drive again now, when he has only barely begun probation and in the same setting where he made his ill-fated “mistake,” is against sense.
The appeals standing committee, I’m happy to say, made no mistake.
3. Cranky letter of the day
This month, red poppies are seen on people’s lapels wherever you look. These poppies are voluntarily acquired as our mark of respect for the fallen.
How can anyone ever believe that a multi-ton chunk of granite carved in the shape of “Mother Canada” [™] and situated in a backwoods part of Nova Scotia, seemingly gazing out to sea to blindly comfort the souls of our fallen, could possibly match the symbolism that we already provide with our poppy display?
The millions of dollars that carving this statue would cost could be used in far better ways, like the well-being of the war-wounded and their dependants. We do not need to compete with the Statue of Liberty or any other country’s memorial. Let’s use our money wisely.
Francis Jordan, Dartmouth
No public meetings.
Legislature sits (9am–1pm, Province House)
This date in history
On November 13, 1613, Boston privateer Samuel Argall left Port-Royal after burning down the French settlements. Here’s the Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry for Argall.
CETA (9am, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — “This workshop, hosted by Dalhousie University’s European Union Centre of Excellence, updates the state of play in the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) ratification and refinement in light of the election results of October 19. Bringing together academic specialists with stakeholders, the workshop will address some major themes covered in the CETA – investments, intellectual property, environment, pharmaceuticals, agricultural and food regulations.”
In the harbour
Atlantic Conveyor, container ship, arrived at Fairview Cove this morning from Norfolk
Otherwise, it’s a slow day in the harbour.
Friday the thirteenth. Someone should make a movie.