1. DEAD WRONG
Tomorrow (Saturday) at noon we will publish the second instalment of DEAD WRONG: A botched police investigation and a probable wrongful conviction shed light on the murders of dozens of women in Nova Scotia. Part 2, headlined “Trial and Error,” is at heart a courtroom drama, following along as Glen Assoun is convicted of the murder of Brenda Way. But as readers will come to expect for each part of the story, Part 2 includes some horrific scenes and some other unexpected twists and turns.
The DEAD WRONG series is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.
“The labour contract proposed by management of the Chronicle Herald contains language that could be used to kill the union at Canada’s oldest independently owned newspaper, legal experts say,” reports Rachel Ward of the CBC:
It changes job security to “an aspiration rather than a right,” said Jula Hughes, a University of New Brunswick professor who specializes in labour law and has reviewed the offer.
Management could hire contractors or brand new non-union employees to do the work of union members. It’s language that Hughes said she has never seen.
“It’s difficult to predict how much of that work would continue to go to members of the bargaining unit,” Hughes said. “As a result, it would be very difficult to predict what the size of the bargaining unit would be — if any — going forward.”
Halifax labour lawyer Ron Pizzo calls the language “highly unusual,” and said, “I can’t imagine that this type of bargaining will necessarily be replicated anywhere else.”
“I’ve never seen a negotiation like this before,” Pizzo said. “It’s really the ability to say who’s in and who’s out of the bargaining unit, if that’s what the employer means. To unilaterally decide that — that is very unusual and it’s problematic.”
Meanwhile, the union is getting ready to start publishing an online news site called Local Express.
3. Business as usual
Murray Coolican, a former VP at Nova Scotia Power, has been named the deputy minister of the Department of Business.
Neither here nor there, but while looking for a photo of Coolican, I discovered that Tanya Shaw of Unique Solutions is on the Advisory Board to the Faculty of Management at Dal. Her advice is one of those “Do as I say, not as I do” deals, I’m guessing.
Since we’re on the mucky muck circuit, I may as well add Halifax’s most successful C student, Fred Morley, to the mix. Morley has parlayed the art of repeating what’s on the morning Yahoo Finance site into big-money jobs at Halifax Partnership, Nova Scotia Business Inc, the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, and recently a $160,000 gig as a contracted “chief economist” for the Office of Regulatory Affairs.
But the job at Regulatory Affairs was short-lived. I’m told that Morley and Chief Regulatory Officer Fred Crooks — yes, the guy in charge of regulation in Nova Scotia is named “Crooks” — don’t get along, and so Morley was quickly out the door. But like Weebles, you can knock Morley around, and he’ll wobble for a while, but he won’t fall down — Morley has landed a job at the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency.
“The region’s only strip club is now offering its patrons a free courtesy shuttle,” reports Metro’s Yvette d’Entremont:
Ralph’s Place Show Bar owner Ralph Nasrallah said he first came up with the idea of offering a shuttle bus a few months ago. He wanted to provide customers with a free alternative to taking their vehicles or taxicabs to his Dartmouth establishment. There will be no entertainment or alcohol onboard.
The shuttle service will travel throughout Halifax and Dartmouth on the “main drags,” picking up customers along the way.
Because the service only started Jan. 27, Nasrallah said they haven’t yet completed their bus route map. But in Halifax the planned route will include Barrington Street, Spring Garden Road, Robie and Gottingen streets. In Dartmouth it includes Portland Street to Cole Harbour.
I’ve long thought bar owners should have more responsibility for making sure patrons don’t drive home drunk, and a jitney or shuttle service would serve that purpose.
But I guarantee you — there’s zero doubt in my mind — that Nasrallah’s jitney will be shut down by city and/or provincial officials. The simple fact is no one can just start running a bus service for commercial purposes without a long list of licences and government approvals, without fully licensed and vetted drivers, and without planned and approved bus stops, and for good reason: unregulated bus or taxi services are a disaster waiting to happen.
There’s going to be weather today.
1. Through space and time
Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster — when the space shuttle broke apart soon after liftoff, with teacher Christa McAuliffe and six other astronauts on board.
Freelancer Evelyn C. White writes of how the disaster was a formative experience for her as a then-young reporter sent to cover the event and how, when recently speaking with journalism prof Erin Moore, she learned that the disaster was also a poignant and unforgettable moment for then-nine-year-old Moore.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.
After I published the article I linked to it on Facebook, and reader Jodi DeLong added her own Challenger story:
January 28, 1986. My then-husband came home to find me sitting on the floor in front of the television, crying.
“Challenger blew up, and I’m pregnant!”
Yep. I had come home from the doctor, switched on the television to watch the launch to calm myself, having found out what I thought was stomach flu was NOT stomach flu. At the time it was a shock…but that all worked out happily in the end, of course. Not so much for Challenger.
Graham Steele continues his analysis of the Liberal government’s changes to Pharmacare:
Here’s a fact, though you’ll find it nowhere in government documents: starting April 1, the McNeil government is going to charge 40,000 seniors a higher premium if they want to stay in Seniors’ Pharmacare.
Anyone with an income of $35,000 or over will pay more. Their new annual premium will range from $480 to $1,200, depending on income, compared to the current maximum of $424.
All things being equal, the changes will produce $10 million of new revenue for the government in the next fiscal year, which starts on April 1, and $9 million the year after. After that, the savings steadily drop and will eventually vanish.
In the worst-case scenario, in which 15,000 of the lowest-cost members leave the program, the changes will actually cost the government more money.
So neither the best-case scenario, nor the worst case, supports the claim of sustainability. Best case, worst case, middle case: the savings are short-term only.
Stop saying only rich or high-income seniors are being asked to pay more. The higher premiums start at $35,000. That’s not rich. That’s not high income.
Stop saying the changes are about sustainability. In the context of a heavily subsidized program, that’s a meaningless buzzword.
I can hear Steele calling “bullshit,” but I guess his editors pulled that.
3. Cranky letter of the day
In a recent letter (“Port column off base,’ Cape Breton Post, Jan. 8), Parker Donham criticizes Mary Campbell’s article ‘Whose Port Is It Anyway’ (Cape Breton Post, Jan. 2) as “smart-alecky,” as if it were just some attention-grabbing publicity stunt on social media.
The piece, which is funny and lively, actually has a serious and important purpose which is being missed.
For almost half a century now, large amounts of public money have been pouring into Cape Breton, money mostly wasted and, to put it charitably, misspent, with little to show for it.
Too many have taken the view that this is “just” government money and the principal aim has been to hoover up as much of it as possible in the pursuit of good contracts, plush jobs,and other personal goals.
The foremost example of this is the sorry tale of the Sydney steel plant, where hundreds of millions of dollars squandered over decades has given us a nice park.
The history of these never-ending boondoggles and disasters remains murky. People have become cynical and despairing. Facts are few, and so rumours and half-truths run wild in our community. When people keep being told to stay quiet and stay positive, they understandably become angry.
Personally, when I hear that we are wasting large amounts of money pursuing another pipe dream like a billion-dollar container pier, I become angry. But when I learn about the players involved in the project, like something called the Chinese Communications Construction Company for one, I begin to think that we are living in a special kind of Cape Breton horror-story nightmare that has no end.
What we need are clarity and facts and those are what Campbell is tenaciously pursuing, but, as she laments, with far from complete information.
The ultimate demand of this kind of journalism is to establish accountability and transparency in the spending of public funds for our economic development. It doesn’t matter who is spending the money, whether it is a government agency, private business, or community development corporation. They are all good and necessary, especially our own local entrepreneurs. But when any of these players are publicly funded, we have to know how much they’re spending, following what business plan, for whose benefit, and any other relevant matters.
If we had transparency and accountability from the beginning, we would now be living in a more prosperous and vibrant community. Campbell’s article serves us well by initiating a public discussion of these matters.
Ken Jessome, Sydney
Community Design Advisory Committee (11:30am, City Hall) — the committee will discuss the “Halifax Green Network,” which is the name given to the proposed greenbelt.
No public meetings.
Thesis defence, Psychology (9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Sean Roach will defend his thesis, “Aspects of Singing Behaviour and Song Perception in Two North American Songbirds, Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) and Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus).”
Superbugs (12:10pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Steven Hoffman, from the University of Ottawa, will speak on “Superbugs Attack! How the world can win the war on antimicrobial resistance.” Bring your own superbug.
Haiti (3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, room 1170) — Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec, from the Université de Sherbrooke, will speak on “Vertières (Haiti), November 18, 1803: History and Memory of a Non-Event.”
Car-sharing (11:30am, Room 282, Loyola Building) — Julia Pelton will speak on “Growth Opportunities for Car-Sharing in Halifax.”
Victor Chu, a New York-based filmmaker and owner of SkyTech One Aerial Film and Photography, a company that uses drones to get spectacular images, came on vacation to Nova Scotia and produced the above video. As he explains:
When I was 12, I saw a tour book of Canada lying on my father’s [Jia-li Chu] desk. In it, the chapters on Nova Scotia were highlighted and underlined. “Nova Scotia!” he uttered when he was in a good mood. “Enjoy life!” he also used to say. He loved to travel and his passion for photography enhanced his journeys. However, in 2007, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Sadly, he never went to Nova Scotia. This film is dedicated to him.
Chu’s film can hold its own against the millions spent by the government-funded tourism promotion enterprises.
In the harbour
NYK Demeter, container ship, arrived at Fairview Cove this morning from Rotterdam; sails to sea this afternoon
Octavia, container ship, arrived at Pier 42 this morning from New York
Dinkeldiep, ro-ro cargo, arrived at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre this morning; sails back to Saint-Pierre this afternoon
High Sun sails to sea