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1. “Convoy”ers

The above graphic was used to promote a demonstration at MP Sean Fraser’s office. Writes Fraser:

There was a protest at my constituency office in New Glasgow today.

Under normal circumstances, I would welcome it. In fact, in the past we have purchased coffee and donuts for protestors and invited them for conversations to discuss their point of view. Often, we have even found issues of agreement on controversial matters.

Today is different.

The post below from one of the promoters of the event states:

“Remember the Nuremberg Code. I was just following orders will not cut it.”

For those who aren’t familiar. The Nuremberg trials were military tribunals held by the Allied Forces in the wake of WWII in order to prosecute Nazi leaders for war crimes and for their perpetuation of the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of 6 Million Jews. Those found guilty of serious war crimes or crimes against humanity were executed.

Today’s protest at our office was supposedly about vaccine mandates. For awareness, the federal government’s role in vaccine mandates requires proof of vaccine to work for the federal government and to cross the border without quarantining.

Comparing these requirements to the murderous behaviour of Nazis during the Holocaust is extraordinarily inappropriate and deeply offensive.

I understand that the protestors pulled at the doors in an attempt to enter the space, despite the fact they were not wearing masks, which is a requirement in our office.

My staff who work in the office have been incredible throughout this pandemic and have helped thousands of our community members access important benefits or receive information about the public health situation.

I made the decision to have my team work from home this afternoon because they do not deserve to be harassed, disrespected, or put at risk of contracting COVID-19. They also deserve to be free from comparisons to Nazis and threats of some form of mob justice being exacted by protestors in the manner of the Nuremberg trials.

We are all frustrated with the impact of COVID-19 on our lives. We have missed weddings, graduations, school concerts, and too many important moments with our loved ones.

As the public health situation evolves and the advice of public health officials changes, so too will the measures that are put in place to protect our communities and our health care system.

There is room for debate about the use of vaccine mandates where people could reasonably disagree. There is room for reasonable debate about the extent to which restrictions should continue.

There is no room for debate around whether elected officials should be executed because they support policies which you do not agree with. There is no room for debate about the harassment of staff who work in political offices.

Disagreement is healthy in a democracy. It is important for decision makers to understand and consider different perspectives as they develop their own thinking. But it is essential that our disagreements are respectful.

We must appreciate that governments will, on occasion, implement ideas that some of us do not support, because they were democratically elected by the Canadian public on commitments to do so.

Let’s be respectful in our disagreements and remember that through all of this, the enemy we face is COVID-19, not each other.

The bad graphics and unreadable text continues with a promotion for something billing itself as the “Nova Scotia Freedom Convoy” this Saturday, which will have convoys starting in the valley, the Yarmouth area, and Cape Breton, and heading to downtown Halifax.

The website promoting the rallies also has a fundraising component, a 50/50 draw, and as of this morning it has raised $345. Such draws in Nova Scotia are regulated by Service Nova Scotia as lotteries, and organizations holding 50/50 draws must be licensed through the Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel & Tobacco Division. Obtaining a licence entails submitting various records and maintaining financial records that are reviewable by Service Nova Scotia.

Service Nova Scotia requires all advertising promoting lotteries to include the licence number of the lottery holder, and so far as I can see, none of the advertising for this 50/50 draw contains a licence number.

The 50/50 draw is purported to benefit something called “Feds For Freedom,” but I haven’t found a provincial registration for Feds For Freedom in the Registry of Joint Stock Companies, or any federal registration for it as a corporation or charity.

I filled out the “contact us” form on the 50/50 form to ask for more information, but have not heard back. I’ve also contacted Service Nova Scotia, and the communications people tell me they’re working on a reply; I’ll update this post when I receive it.

Update, 1:25pm. Service Nova Scotia responds: “No, they are not licensed with us. We can’t take action against them as we only regulate those entities that we license, this would be a police matter.”

Regardless, I believe the bad graphics and unreadable text are purposeful, as are the references to Nazis.

The bad graphics and unreadable text are a social signifier, attempting to suggest that the organizers of these protests are just regular people, people who don’t have skills in PR or graphics. But quite the contrary, the protests are organized and promoted by people who have sophisticated understanding of how to use social media and are trained in PR; they are using a down-home sensibility to appeal to people who don’t have that understanding.

Likewise, it’s too easy to shrug off the references to Nazis, the equating of Public Health restrictions to the holocaust and the like, as simply ignorant. Oh, to be sure, many of the people spreading the analogies are in fact ignorant of history and have no idea what they’re saying. But I’m convinced that the analogies originate in a much darker place.

The goal, seems to me, is void all meaning of the word “Nazi” beyond, vaguely, something really bad. We can explain all day long that requiring people in certain professions who do certain things to get vaccinated isn’t at all like the racist murder of six million people — and to suggest it is is beyond being reprehensibly offensive — but the damage is already done.

None of it has meaning: Trudeau is Hitler, requiring someone to get vaccinated is equivalent to tossing them into the gas chamber, etc., etc., simply eviscerates our shared truths and removes historical, political, and importantly, moral context from our world. When this achieves its purpose, all that is left is an unconsidered emotional response to the world: I don’t like this COVID thing, therefore Trudeau is Hitler.

The negation of truth, context, and meaning is the playbook of authoritarians. It is the conscious strategy of every dictator and wannabe dictator in human history, and we’re watching it used right now by Trump, Orbán, Erdogan, Bolsonaro, and more.

There is no obvious Canadian autocrat rising to the top right now, but there doesn’t need to be if the goal is simply the undermining of long-standing (if provisional) societal values and replacing them with aggressive intolerance and acceptance of violence.

Think what you will of your dumb ass uncle going on about “freedom” on Facebook — he probably really is just a dumb ass — but understand that this entire “convoy” thing originates in a sophisticated strategy to change our society.

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2. Anaconda

Touquoy open pit gold mine. Contributed

“Anaconda’s CEO Kevin Bullock is brimming with enthusiasm over the gold deposits his company wants to mine in Goldboro on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore,” reports Joan Baxter in Part 2 of her series, “Anaconda joins the gold rush on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore”:

“It’s the highest grade undeveloped gold mine on the East Coast, and it’s the largest gold deposit in Nova Scotia,” says Bullock.

Bullock is also bullish about the provincial environmental process, which he is confident will bring approval for the mine, and take just two years.

Baxter gets into the weeds of environmental regulation of mines in Canada, which in Anaconda’s case involves an admitted desire to skirt federal environmental regulations.

Click here to read Part 2 of “Anaconda joins the gold rush on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

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3. Yesterday at Province House

Province House in June 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Jennifer Henderson attended the post-cabinet scrum with cabinet ministers. She reports:

Minimum wage

The Houston government has accepted the recommendations of the Nova Scotia Minimum Wage Committee. Workers will see minimum wage rise 25 cents to $13.60 this October and to $15.00 an hour by April 2024. The increases will take place in four phases.

Wage Increases for most continuing care assistants but not all 

Long overdue raises in the range of 23% will see more than 6,000 continuing care assistants (CCAs) who work in nursing homes, home care, and hospitals earn close to $25 an hour. The wage increases will take place immediately. Left out of the picture are a smaller group of CCAs who work in residential care facilities caring for disabled adults. The Department of Community Services operates those homes. 

“This is exactly the problem with the low wages we see in the caring economy,” said NDP leader Gary Burrill. “The CCAs in long-term care who received the wage increase completely deserve it. So do those who work in other sectors doing similar work. Also, there’s a host of workers including cleaners, food service staff, and others who are essential to our long-term care facilities’ success, who also need wages that reflect the importance of their work.”

Long-Term Care Minister Barbara Adams was asked why one group of CCAs will receive a raise while another group is excluded. She responded:

The reason for that is we have had to shut down hundreds of beds in long-term care and in hospitals. It’s an unprecedented crumbling of both acute care and long-term care and it’s backing up everything through to Emergency where people can’t offload because the hospital is beyond capacity. This is the sector where people were telling us they don’t want to work anymore because the work is so hard and the hours too long, so this is the sector that was most in need.

Adams said many nursing homes are operating with only 70-80% of the staff they are licensed for and the federal government has just approved Nova Scotia’s request for 20 temporary Red Cross workers. For the next six weeks they will work as support staff helping transport residents, feeding, and welcoming visitors as restrictions ease. 

“We’re in the downward spiral of the Omicron spike, so we are hoping by the time March 31 comes that we will have improved the recruitment of CCAs and other staff and people who are wondering if they really want to work there, will again feel this is home and want to be there for the residents,” said Adams.

The Red Cross workers are in addition to student nurses who were seconded from school to do work placements in long-term care. Finance Minister Allan MacMaster was asked if the $65 million earmarked for CCAs will increase pressure on negotiations between the province and registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who are also in very limited supply:

“My hope is that by increasing wages for CCAs, that will make life better for everyone working in health care,” replied MacMaster. 

“No tolerance” for blocking roads 

Premier Tim Houston said people are welcome to protest to get their point across, but he personally has “no tolerance for blocking roads and highways that cause harm to people and the economy — just don’t do it.”

Houston brushed off critics who say last week’s amendments to a law that imposed hefty fines on people who blocked any type of roadway went too far. Houston was asked for a comment about the ongoing protest in Ottawa that has laid siege to much of the downtown area.

“I’ve been watching in shock and bewilderment that it has been going on so long,” replied Houston. “I don’t know where the impasse is. Certainly I’m concerned to see other protests cropping up in other areas. That’s why we have taken steps as a government to try and protect Nova Scotians against some of the more extreme forms of protest.”

Completion of Highway 101 twinning delayed by one year

Public Works Minister Kim Masland said while work continues on twinning Highway 101 and consultations with First Nations are ongoing, the completion of the project in the Windsor area has been delayed from the fall of 2023 until the fall of 2024. 

Masland was asked to explain the holdup, which she said relates to permitting requirements on the part of the federal Department of Fisheries.

“We are waiting for further comment and approval from the regulator, DFO. It’s all around the aboiteau (dike) and the twin bridges over the Avon River,” replied Masland. “It’s very complex. We have the fish habitat and agricultural lands to consider. There has been a lot of back and forth, and sadly, it’s taken a lot longer than we thought.” 

On a different topic, Masland said construction is proceeding briskly on the Bayers Lake Outpatient Centre, which is one of the replacement facilities for the Victoria General Hospital. Lack of potable water, floods, and aging infrastructure have made the VG a challenging place for both patients and staff. Masland said the target date for the end of construction is the fall of 2023, with the Bayers Lake facility opening to the public during the winter of 2024.

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4. Alton Gas abandonment

Present Wellbore Schematic of Well 14-03. Schematic: Remedy Energy

AltaGas has hired Remedy Energy Services of Calgary to oversee the abandonment of three wells that were drilled into salt caverns below near (about 12km away from) the Shubenacadie River before the Alton Gas project was aborted.

You can read the entire abandonment plan here, but the gist of it is that the uppermost 100 metres or so (differing depths for each of the three) of the wells will be removed and plugged with concrete.

As there was no removal of salt from the caverns, there aren’t expected to be any pressure or combustible issues, but there’s a pre-plugging testing regime proposed to monitor for those anyway. After the wells are plugged, a cement integrity log will be maintained for five years before the wells are abandoned completely.

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5. Cabot South

Ben Cowan-Dewar and St. Lucian PM Allen Chastanet at sod-turning ceremony for Cabot Saint Lucia, June 2020.

“Has Ben Cowan-Dewar hit one into the cat box in Saint Lucia?” asks Mary Campbell of the Cape Breton Spectator:

What I’m saying, for those of you not as familiar with the old golf lingo as I am since I googled it 10 minutes ago, is: has Cowan-Dewar actually run into an obstacle on his way to turning 360 acres of the northern tip of Saint Lucia into a luxury golf resort?

To recap the story: Cowan-Dewar and his partner Mike Keiser, who between them own a growing number of golf courses, including Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs, are building a luxury golf resort and real estate development in Saint Lucia and the site they’ve chosen, on the Point Hardy peninsula, in addition to abutting some of the island nation’s best beaches also sits on an ancient Indigenous burial ground.

Campbell does some excellent reporting here, speaking with Saint Lucian critics of the proposed golf course and exploring the various issues involved.

Click here to read “Cabot in the Rough in Saint Lucia?”

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
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Government

City

Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am) — contingency date

Province

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Feast or famine? Or feast or work?: the significance of labour conditions to the height development of enslaved children in the antebellum US South (Friday, 3:30pm) — online seminar with Heywot Tadesse

Double Date: A Reading Series of Writing Couples (Friday, 3:34pm) — online conversation with Hannah Moscovitch and Christian Barry

Mount Saint Vincent

Coded Bias – Film Screening & Discussion (Friday, 6:30pm) — in celebration of International Day for Women and Girls in Science, a Zoom screening followed by Q&A with director Shalini Kantayya and Shohini Ghose, NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering – Ontario Region.

Coded Bias explores the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwin’s discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces and women accurately, and her journey to push for the first-ever legislation in the U.S. to govern against bias in the algorithms that impact us all.

Register here.


In the harbour

Halifax

08:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
10:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, arrives at Dockyard from Rota, Spain
11:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
16:00: Contship Leo, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
16:30: Nolhanava sails for Saint-Pierre
17:00: Oceanex Avalon, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
02:30 (Saturday): Contship Leo sails for Kingston, Jamaica

Cape Breton
16:00: NACC Capri, cement carrier, sails from Sydney Marine Terminal for sea


Footnotes

I don’t see how this ends well.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. There’s something oddly self-referential about the honking at the protests – normally people honk when they pass a protest they support. Now the protest is honking when it passes people.

  2. It feels like 2008 again. Gas is expensive, asset prices are soaring, and there’s a new protest movement – perhaps the farce to Occupy Wall Street’s tragedy, perhaps something much worse.

  3. Nazis ‘confiscated words’

    “The Nazis changed the values, the frequency of words, [and] made them into common property, …. They confiscated words for the party, saturated words and phrases and sentence forms with their poison. They made language serve their terrible system. They conquered words and made them into their strongest advertising tools, at once the most public and most secret.
    Victor Klemperer

  4. To add to your convoy story, this CBC story documents the backgrounds of a number of convoy organizers. Not a random group of ordinary guys, they include:
    “Daniel Bulford, a former RCMP officer who was on the prime minister’s security detail. He quit last year after refusing to get the vaccine and is the convoy’s head of security.

    Tom Quiggin, a former military intelligence officer who also worked with the RCMP and was considered one of the country’s top counter-terrorism experts.

    Tom Marazzo, an ex-military officer who, according to his LinkedIn profile, served in the Canadian Forces for 25 years and now works as a freelance software developer”

    More at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/convoy-protesters-police-tactical-knowledge-1.6345854

    1. Thank You Barb Harris. I read where certain “security” personnel were involved. I figured if people know this, then they know who they are. And you’ve provided me the information and links.

    2. If I was a foreign state, seeking to sow discord and distract from other global events, those are the folks I’d hire. Maybe I’d have initiated relationships years earlier. Worth every penny.

  5. People who openly wave Nazi and Confederate flags, sling racist slurs, violate the safety and security of others, bully their way into buildings and other private property, deliberately spread misinformation – or stand and walk with those who do, or fund them – have no leg to stand on when they accuse anyone else of being Nazi. And that’s just a tiny corner of my negative opinion on these “marches.” I won’t dignify the events with the words protest and convoy.

  6. I agree with your trenchant analysis, Tim. This fringe crowd is crazy like a fox (and includes ex-military, ex-police, and ex-intelligence folks), but what is most troubling is that here in the land of POGG and even in the US, France, and other liberal democracies, we don’t seem to have good strategies and tactics for thwarting this kind of domestic terrorism without playing into the hands of these groups. They are eager to have martyrs for the cause, and they play plenty dirty.

    I am at a loss for what can be done, and I’m hardly alone in that.

  7. Tim – yours is the clearest and most insightful short piece I have read on the convoys. Though many of the protestors may be sincere about removing mandates, and in civil discourse we can agree to disagree, the sophisticated planning and execution by mostly hidden organizers and fundraisers shows something more sinister is happening. Most of us laughed, at first, when we saw the manifesto about replacing the federal government with a combination of the Governor-General, Senators and protestors. But, as we have seen with Trump, this crowd often says the hidden thing out loud. It is truly worrisome!

  8. The Nuremburg codes were a set of ethics regarding medical experimentation on humans. Different than the Nuremburg trials themselves. My interpretation would be that the author of the poster, though poorly chosen, has used that to imply that they want to ensure that they aren’t ‘experimented on’ without their consent. Though nobody I know of has been strapped down and forced to take a vaccine.

    A reference to a more modern set of ethics would have been a better choice but they’re probably trying to be provocative…or just don’t know any better…the most likely scenario in my opinion.

    1. That’s a good analysis. I think the Nuremburg Code gets brought up because in the 1st point of the Code coercion is mentioned and vaccine mandates equates to coercion for some.

    2. Re MP Sean Fraser’s statement that the indictments at the 1946 Nuremberg trials included references to the Holocaust. Pretty sure that the original Nurenberg defendants were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity more than genocide or the Holocaust. The Holocaust or Showa only really became central to popular understanding of National Socialism with the capture of Adolf Eichmann, his trial in Isreal and Hannah Arendt’s widely disputed boook about that trial. These took place in the early sixties. The Allies’ decision not to emphasize the Holocaust in the original Nuremberg trials should cause us some pause.