The Atlantic School of Theology has quietly divested from companies that intensively use fossil fuels, according to a press release issued by Divest Dal:
A letter from AST President Rev. Neale Bennet states that “Atlantic School of Theology (AST) has already essentially begun the process of divesting from fossil fuel investments.” The letter explains that AST’s investments are managed through the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island and, “[a]t a meeting on October 21-22, 2016 Diocesan Council passed a resolution to instruct the investment manager to make no new investments in fossil fuels or petroleum stocks in the future and to divest the remaining investments (approximately 6% of the total at the time) over the following six to twelve months. As AST’s endowments are included in the funds affected by this investment policy decision it will have the effect of divesting AST’s endowment funds.”
Divest Dal is a student group that has been pushing Dalhousie University to similarly divest. The University Senate took up the cause, but it now languishes, seemingly because the Board of Governors doesn’t want to upset big dollar donors like Shell Oil. The students are now showing up at each Board of Governors meeting; they were there Tuesday, firmly but politely making their case by their mere presence.
Continues the Divest Dal press release:
The Dalhousie BoG voted against divestment in fall 2014. Since 2014, the Dalhousie Senate passed a motion in favour of an ethical investment policy that includes divestment and a Senate-BoG ad-hoc committee was established to explore options to move forward on divestment. A report-back from this ad-hoc committee is nearly a year overdue. Divest Dal believes it is time to bring divestment back to the BoG and will be pushing board members to raise the issue again: “Divestment is already widespread and well-accepted globally, with $5.5 trillion having been divested worldwide, and 1/3 of UK universities committed to divestment,” says Cutmore, “Now, thanks to AST and Laval, we’re seeing momentum for divestment growing in Canada, too. There’s never been a better time for Dal to divest.” Another Divest Dal member, Kathleen Olds, adds: “We’re here today, back at the Board of Governors three years after they voted against divestment, even though all of our original members have now graduated. We want to make it clear that we’re not going away until Dal commits to divest.”
2. Kati George-Jim
Also at Tuesday’s Board of Governors meeting, one of the student reps to the board, Kati George-Jim, read a six-page letter relating her experience at the previous board meeting in the summer. I was at both meetings.
George-Jim is of the T’Sou-ke Nation in British Columbia. At the summer meeting, she repeatedly tried to interject into the meeting a discussion of how the university was going to implement its commitment to reconciliation with First Nations people. I regret that I didn’t record the meeting, so this recollection is from memory, but as I recall, and as George-Jim describes herself, she did break out from the Roberts Rules sense of order, a couple of times, and interrupted the course of the meeting. In response, chair Lawrence Stordy raised his voice and cut her off, a few times, and ultimately basically told her off. It was an awkward atmosphere, people cringing all around — I cringed. George-Jim left the room in tears.
Frankly, I didn’t know how to report on the issue then, and I’ve been struggling with it even after George-Jim read her letter Tuesday. On reflection, I think we’re all dealing with this awkward public space, which on the one hand is about how to deal successfully with settler histories and current prejudices, and the history and current experiences of Indigenous people, but on the other hand how to maintain some sense of order. I think it comes down to this… if the Board of Governors and the university are serious about reconciliation, people in positions of relative power have to pause, have to allow for some degree of disorder, and have to ally themselves as best they can with those they’re committed to reconciling with. At the very least, they should be helping to shepherd people like George-Jim, and meet them where they’re coming from.
I think Stordy failed here, but he seems to have learned that lesson. At Tuesday’s meeting, he committed to working with George-Jim moving forward, and she seemed to tentatively accept that offer.
Reconciliation is a ongoing process, and there are going to be many more awkward spaces.
3. Forest funeral
The Ecology Action Centre and the Healthy Forest Coalition are today hosting a “forest funeral.”
“Why a funeral and why now?” reads a press release:
The funeral pays homage to the forest resources that Nova Scotia has lost through over-harvesting and rampant clearcutting. An Independent Forest Review presently taking place must hear of our disapproval and concerns over the massive forest destruction incurred through poor forest management and short-sighted political decisions. Come and demonstrate your dismay and anger. The time is now to curb industrial forestry impacts on our lands.
An ‘open casket’ of tiny ‘logs’ will be followed by a procession of wildlife that have died through drastic losses of habitat. Pall bearers and forest mourners will walk from Grand Parade Square to the funeral ceremony at Province House. From there, the bodies will be carried to the very origin of forest mismanagement, the NS DNR office on Hollis Street.
4. Sackville Sports Stadium
“A report headed to Wednesday’s Audit and Finance committee is asking city council to write-off slightly over $295,000 in outstanding accounts from the Lower Sackville fitness centre,” writes Jacob Boon for The Coast:
The lost money is a result of changes the stadium made to its membership contract a decade ago, as per the advice of an “independent private fitness facility consultant.”
Under new policies, customers were no longer able to cancel their fitness centre memberships early. Automatic payments continued to be taken from their bank accounts for the entire annual contract.
In response, many of those customers simply changed banks.
The municipality absorbed operations of the Sackville Sports Stadium in 2014, but the policies remained in place for another two years. City hall’s legal department has since reviewed the paperwork and found many of the contracts lacked enforceable language and sufficient signatures, making them invalid.
I wish they would name these “independent private fitness facility consultants.”
5. Who speaks for Halifax?
“Halifax has submitted its pitch to lure online retail giant Amazon to the city, but even the bid’s biggest proponent admits it’s a long shot,” reports Aly Thomson for the Canadian Press:
Mayor Mike Savage would not reveal specifics about the city’s submission for the company’s new headquarters, but said Halifax’s quality of life was emphasized.
Would not reveal the specifics? Why not? What’s to hide here? Either pigs fly and Amazon accepts the bid, in which case the specifics all become public, or the universe works like it’s supposed to work and the clerk in Amazon’s mailroom chuckles before tossing the package from Halifax into the waste bin, in which case it doesn’t matter if the specifics are public or not.
I, for one, want to know, first of all, who gets to speak for Halifax — who, exactly, is preordained to offer up tax breaks, free land, more tax breaks, subsidies, more tax breaks, new highways, more tax breaks, empty promises of enhanced transit service, more tax breaks, gifts to employees, and oh yes, more tax breaks on behalf of the municipality and province? Does this power to offer up enhanced inducements extend only so far as Amazon, or do these people have the authority to give the same inducements for, say, the establishment of the new world headquarters for Halifax Examiner, Inc.? (I’m not taking seriously any bid that doesn’t include gondola service.)
Secondly, I want to know how much of the public treasury these people with apparently unprecedented power were willing to give away. How much of our shared public wealth were they going to give to a private* corporation, and for how many decades into the future?
Surely, this fits under the public interest sections of the Freedom of Information Act, no?
* yes, I know Amazon is traded publicly on the stock exchange, but I mean to draw a distinction between the collective public interests of government and the personal and therefore private pecuniary interests of stockholders, no matter how many in number.
On my way to or fro King’s College, where we record the Examineradio podcast, I sometimes stop by the new-ish Tart & Soul Cafe, which is across the street from the university on the ground floor of that office building at the corner of Coberg and Oxford Streets. It’s a nice atmosphere with pleasant workers and decent food, and I wish them the best.
The cafe was used this week as a prop for the government’s Business Navigator service:
Opening a small business can be challenging. Safia Haq, co-owner of Tart & Soul Cafe in Halifax, knows that first-hand.
“My partner and I had never owned a business, but we were excited to bring our ideas and recipes to the community,” said Haq. “Starting a business is overwhelming, and there are so many things to do before opening the door to customers.”
One thing that made opening the café doors a bit easier was the Business Navigator service. It has helped Ms. Haq, and 800 more business owners like her, steer through the regulatory environment, saving them time and money.
“The business navigator service was extremely helpful,” said Haq. “We loved having so much information available online so we could work on administrative tasks on our own time. It’s also so great to have somewhere and someone we can bring all of our questions to.”
Are you a business owner that has questions about regulations? Learn more and reach out to the service at https://novascotia.ca/
Government is committed to helping small businesses save time and money through services like this and by cutting red tape, saving businesses $25 million annually.
The $25 million thing is a throw-away line, a political campaign statement tossed into what otherwise could conceivably be seen as simply a public information post about the Business Navigator service.
And is such a service necessary? I don’t know — there are complexities to starting a business, especially a retail business with the required permits, zoning issues, worker regulations, and tax requirements. The rules should be written in a fashion that the average person can follow them without hiring a lawyer, but if the degree of complexity requires a government assist, well, good enough.
But I worry the flip-side of this is that people without the skills or ability to decode government regulations themselves are being encouraged to start businesses anyway. Once again: there is a huge and probable downside to starting a business: most new businesses fail, and the owners find themselves bankrupt with all that often comes with bankruptcy — ruined credit, loss of a house, disintegration of a relationship, emotional and health issues, and so forth.
So if the government is promoting the Business Navigator service, shouldn’t it also be as transparent as possible? How many of those 800 businesses that have used the service have succeeded? What’s the success and failure rate at, say, the three-year mark? And what happened to those business owners who failed?
There’s remarkably little concrete data on business success rates. Mostly, there are guesses. Something like half of new businesses collapse in Canada within three years. It might be out there somewhere, but I can’t easily find exact numbers for Nova Scotia.
But this shouldn’t be hard data to collect. We have business registry and tax information, and in this instance a specific number of new businesses using the Business Navigator service. It’s a disservice to those using the service to not tell them, upfront, what the failure rate is.
Same goes for all the other government-backed entrepreneurship-encouraging programs like CEED. If you’re not telling your clients, upfront and clearly, what the failure rate is for past clients, you’re kind of lying to them.
“There he was. Walking a dog. Chatting with my neighbours. The man who raped me had just moved onto my block,” writes Maggie Rahr in the Chronicle Herald, going on to explore how and why women react in complex ways to sexual assault and rape, concluding:
I’ve told my story. Now I humbly ask, to stop turning to women to reshare their trauma. Turn to the men, who are traumatizing. Turn to the men who are silent bystanders. Turn to the men who say nothing when a rape “joke” comes up. Turn to the men who do nothing when they see a man harassing a colleague. Turn to the men who do nothing when a friend confesses they are a rapist.
Maybe the next time around the words in this column will come, not from a woman who was violated, but from a man who has abused. It’s time we call on men to summon the bravery that’s expected of women every single time a serial rapist makes the headlines.
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — the committee will get an update on the Active Transportation component of the proposed Bayers Road Transit Priority Corridor. Nah, I don’t know what that means either.
No public meetings.
Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)
Legislature sits (Friday, 9am, Province House)
Stan (Thursday, Room 430, Faculty of Computer Science) — Bob Carpenter of Columbia University will speak about “Stan: A Probabilistic Programming Language for Bayesian Inference.” Register here.
Dal Law Hour (Thursday, 12:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Marie Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, will speak.
Distinguishing K-configurations (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Federico Galetto from McMaster University will speak. His abstract:
A k-configuration in the projective plane is a collection of points, subject to certain geometric conditions, introduced by Roberts and Roitman to study Hilbert functions of graded algebras. If d is the maximal number of colinear points in a k-configuration, then there can be anywhere between 1 and d + 1 distinct lines containing exactly d points of the k-configuration. The number of such lines is not detected by the usual invariants of the defining ideal of the k-configuration. In- stead, I will illustrate how this number of lines is encoded in the Hilbert function of a high enough symbolic power of the defining ideal of the k-configuration. This talk is based on joint work with Y.S. Shin and A. Van Tuyl.
Research Whistleblowers (Thursday, 7pm, The Nook, 2118 Gottingen Street) — Carl Elliott, from the University of Minnesota, will speak on “Can’t You Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow? Why Medical Researchers Stay Silent About Dangers to Human Subjects.”
Mining and Genocide (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Catherine Nolin, from the University of Northern British Columbia, will speak on “Mining in a Time of Impunity in the Aftermath of Guatemala’s Genocide.”
//RESPONSIVE International Light Art Project (Daily, 7pm, downtown Halifax) — a “world class art exhibit” which highlights architecture and public space through the medium of light, on a circuit which includes Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax City Hall, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, St. David’s Church, Memorial Library, Dalhousie School of Architecture, and Black-Binney House. Ask them why or if a hyphen should be in “world class.”
Redox Flow Batteries (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Fikile R. Brushett from MIT will speak on “Connecting System Targets with Material Properties: Application-informed Fundamental Science of Redox Flow Batteries.”
Contemporary Africans in Timeless Africa: West Africans’ Engagement with Ideas of Africa in America, 1925-1945 (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Philip Zachernuk will speak.
Exoplanets and the Search for Habitable Worlds (Friday, 7pm, McNally Theatre) — Sara Seager from MIT will speak. Alas, the talk is sold out. Seager’s abstract:
Thousands of exoplanets are known to orbit nearby stars with compelling evidence that all stars in our Milky Way Galaxy likely have planets. Beyond their discovery, a new era of “exoplanet characterization” is underway with an astonishing diversity of exoplanets driving the fields of planetary science and engineering to new frontiers. The push to find smaller and smaller planets down to Earth size is succeeding and motivating the next generation of space telescopes to have the capability to find and identify habitable worlds. The ultimate goal is to discover planets that may have suitable conditions for life or even signs of life by way of atmospheric biosignature gases.
In the harbour
1am: Dalian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
7am: Rotterdam, cruise ship, with up to 1,685 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney
9am: Turquoise, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Houston
11:45am: Regal Princess, cruise ship with up to 4,271 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John
3:30pm: Rotterdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
4pm: Spica, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
4pm: Asian King, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11:30pm: Regal Princess, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
We’re recording Examineradio today.