“The Canadian government is weighing financial backing for a new deep-water container port in Nova Scotia, a surprising development at a time existing ports in Eastern Canada are processing far less cargo volumes than they can handle,” reports Nicolas Van Praet for the Globe and Mail:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is considering committing public money for the long-talked-about Melford International Terminal project just southeast of Port Hawksbury, N.S., according to Transport Department officials. The level of aid being sought by the project’s private-sector promoters is unclear but information obtained by The Globe and Mail suggests the government is evaluating a pledge in the range of $175-million.
The Melford project, which includes a 315-acre container terminal and 1,500-acre logistics park located on the Straight of Canso, has been on the drawing board since about 2007 but has never taken off. The developer is Melford International Terminal Inc., a group whose directors and officers include several Nova Scotia businessmen as well as Dan Bordessa, vice-chairman of Cyrus Capital Partners, a New York City-based hedge fund, according to a corporate filing.
Estimated costs for the first phase of the Melford project top US$350-million, meaning federal money could make up a significant portion of the financing.
Nadine Ramadan, spokesperson for federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, confirmed the promoter submitted a funding application for the project under the government’s $4.6-billion National Trade Corridors Fund. She declined to say whether a final decision has been made to approve it.
Pssst: it won’t be. At least, it shouldn’t be. As I’ve explained before, the Melford terminal makes no damned sense:
There’s the notion that because Nova Scotia is the part of mainland North America closest to Europe, it is perfectly placed to become a mega-transhipment point. But as I said before, this is 180 degrees wrong. Shippers don’t want the closest port to Europe; they want the port farthest from Europe, or at least the one closest to the ultimate destination of their goods. I think the non-existence of the Melford Terminal underscores my argument.
Still and all, in 2008, 15 years ago, the province of Nova Scotia kicked an old man out of his house in the hope of achieving prosperity forever, amen.
Halifax is now handling two or three super-large container ships a week — the CMA CGM Surabaya arrived this morning — but whatever efficiency is gained by a huge ship is mostly lost in time when it stops at too many ports. There’s not yet a departure time scheduled for it, but the Surabaya will likely be in Halifax about 24 hours as its load is redistributed before heading off to New York. I just can’t see this business growing significantly, but, of course, what do I know?
In any event, why is the Canadian federal government even thinking about underwriting capital costs for an American hedge fund?
2. Preston byelection
“Voters in Preston will head to the polls on Aug. 8,” reports Zane Woodford:
The seat in the Nova Scotia legislature has been vacant since April 1, when Liberal MLA Angela Simmonds stepped down. Premier Tim Houston had six months to call the byelection, with a deadline of Oct. 1 and a latest possible election date of Nov. 14.
Summer elections tend to have lower voter turnout. Houston said last month he expected a new MLA to be sworn in before the fall sitting of the legislature.
The three major parties have each announced candidates: Twila Grosse will run for the governing PCs; Colter Simmonds for the NDP; and Carlo Simmons for the Liberals.
“Does the Houston government have it in for the province’s judicial system?” asks Stephen Kimber:
And, if so, what impact is that having on the timely but carefully considered delivery of justice in Nova Scotia?
There is much to discuss here.
Kimber discusses the growing shortage of judges, including the unexplained absence of Judge Rickola Brinton, resulting in the staying of charges against Brandon William McNeil, who had been charged with two counts each of sexual exploitation, sexual interference and sexual assault, all involving children.
On top of that, notes Kimber, last week Justice Minister Brad Johns fired Judge Warren Zimmer, who was presiding over the Desmond inquiry, and who was to issue his final report next month.
I have no idea what’s behind the turmoil at Halifax Pride. Its two-full time staff members abruptly left the organization last September, and the entire board of directors was replaced.
Last Monday, an information meeting was scheduled to provide an update on the 2023 parade, which is scheduled for July 23, just 13 days from now. But that meeting was cancelled, and hasn’t been rescheduled.
No one seems to know what’s going on, or even if there will be a parade at all. Halifax Pride is completely uncommunicative.
It’s extremely hard to run a non-profit, especially one that appears to have gone through a bit of nastiness. But the lack of any public statements leaves the impression that the organization fears it will be sued if it says what’s really going on, which in turn undermines the possibility of raising money.
In recent years I’ve been ambivalent about the Pride parade — it struck me as too corporate, and straying quite far from the overtly political parades of the 1980s. But given the current atmosphere of emboldened attacks on the entire LGBTQ spectrum, I think a Pride parade, overly corporatized and mainstream as it may be, is exactly what is called for.
5. Independent bookstores and the CFIB
Some independent booksellers are reevaluating their membership with the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association (CIBA), reports Philip Moscovitch:
“The trouble,” as [Michael Higgins, owner of Lunenburg Bound Books and Paper] puts it, started a year ago, when CIBA approached members about partnering with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Under the terms of the partnership, CIBA members would pay higher annual dues, but would automatically be enrolled as CFIB members as well. The cost would be lower than joining the two organizations separately (Both groups have sliding scales, with CIBA membership dues based on annual sales, and CFIB charging a base amount, plus an additional amount per employee.)
The CFIB touts benefits like discounted shipping rates, lower credit card processing fees, and access to health insurance, But the organization also lobbies on a broad range of issues. It opposes the “broken carbon tax system,” wants the federal government to exempt businesses from paying payroll taxes for new hires, opposes paid sick days and CPP increases, and is against raising minimum wage.
Upset that their CIBA membership now forces them to also be members of the CFIB, some booksellers have launched a petition addressed to the CIBA board of directors, calling for the deal to be renegotiated, so that it becomes “an optional addon for CIBA members at their next membership renewal.”
Like the public generally, business owners span the political spectrum, but the organizations that purport to represent businesses almost always come from the extreme right, at least on issues of taxation and employee rights. And many of these organizations gain some degree of political power simply because they operate in a space not claimed by anyone else.
Take, for instance, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), which purports to represents all taxpayers, when it does nothing of the sort. CTF doesn’t make its membership rolls public, so I’m sticking with my understanding that it consists only of five guys from Calgary. But any time a lazy journalist wants a quote from “taxpayers,” they flip the Rolodex over to CTF and fill their copy with some nonsense about excessive taxation.
And so I’ve half-seriously argued that someone should start a Canadian Taxpayer Association that advocates for a more progressive income tax, shifting the tax burden onto guys from Calgary and away from working people, and public policies that better assist those on the lower end of the economic strata. Who knows, maybe since CTA comes alphabetically before CTF, those lazy journalists will only get to the CTA card in the Rolodex and quote them instead.
Likewise, all business owners are not of similar mind. There are plenty of business owners, especially owners of small and independent businesses, who hold progressive views, and want to see our society shifted to better policies and pay for workers. It’s hard to pay your employees well when your competitor is paying shit wages, but maybe with stiffer labour protections and wage laws the entire pay scale can be shifted for the better. As well, lots of business owners want to see better climate policies and support other progressive values.
But the CFIB waltzes in with the lure of lower credit card fees and shipping fees and a group health plan, and so lots of business owners sign right up, in effect endorsing the CFIB’s retrograde political views and funding its political lobbying.
But there’s no reason a progressively minded business org couldn’t achieve the scale that results in similar discounts for business members, and create a progressive counter to CFIB’s political lobbying. It just doesn’t exist.
Why do we let terrible people own these spaces unchallenged? Someone should get some of that Soros money and create new organizations.
And no, it won’t be me. I’m too busy and too old and too damned tired. Some young person needs to take this on.
At the U.S. terminus of the Yarmouth ferry, protestors are raising Cain against Leonard Leo
There’s been considerable drama in the tiny town of Northeast Harbor, Maine.
Northeast Harbor, confusingly, is on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island, albeit a town called Southwest Harbor is even more southwesterly on the island, across Somes Sound from Northeast Harbor. Bar Harbor, the American terminus of the Yarmouth ferry, is on the northeast end of the island. Between Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor is the Acadia National Park.
There’s a lively journalistic scene on the island. The primary newspaper is the Mount Desert Islander, a little publication that punches above its weight.
Recently, the Islander has been joined by The Quietside Journal, published by Lincoln Millstein, whose career started as a local reporter for the Hartford (Connecticut) Courant before moving into executive positions at the New York Times and Boston Globe. Millstein and his wife, Irene Driscoll, also a retired journalist, retired to the island during the pandemic but couldn’t lose the reporting bug. “He started picking up lots of local scoops on how the pandemic was affecting businesses,” comments the What Works project at the Northeastern University’s School of Journalism. “Not to mention the occasional deer collision. That’s how The Quietside Journal got its start.”
The Quietside Journal, notes Millstein, “is written in the tradition of pamphleteers to stir the citizenry toward a common good.”
Well, the tiny, idyllic town of Northeast Harbor has been anything but on the quiet side in recent months. That’s because Leonard Leo, the primary funder of the ultra-right wing takeover of the U.S. Supreme Court. Leo is a resident of Northeast Harbor, with a too-big-for-god mansion at 46 South Shore Rd. And his neighbours don’t like Leo.
“Leonard Leo is the Federalist Society operative who has raised billions in dark money to support right-wing judges as they matriculate though the justice system,” explained Millstein.
The protests outside Leo’s house started after the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in 2019, but the protests have been pretty much constant since last year’s U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe vs Wade, which gave federal protection to the right of abortion.
Protestor Annlinn Kruger has been chalking up the sidewalk in front of Leo’s house with graffiti like that seen above.
“Town Manager Kevin Sutherland wants to shut down the Leonard Leo graffiti protester who countered that the police chief and captain in both Bar Harbor and Mount Desert have told her she has the right to exercise free speech,” reported Millstein last August:
How an unassuming 73-year-old retiree who calls herself a “hermit” became a notorious figure with the local authorities may be the story of the summer on MDI. It certainly is the strangest.
Annlinn Kruger seems to be engaging in parallel but contradictory conversations with the police brass in both towns and with actual patrolmen on the street and the town manager.
In a letter Thursday to the Town Council, Kruger stated, “I am writing to you in regards to threats by Bar Harbor Town Manager Kevin Sutherland.
“I expected to hear from Sutherland eventually. I did not expect him, today, to threaten me with arrest for Criminal Mischief and to bill me for the time the crew has spent on removing the graffiti and for the supplies they purchased.”
Sutherland escalated the issue at the same time the police chief and most senior officers in Bar Harbor were taking a more measured approach. Police in both towns report to Chief Jim Willis. Under him, Capt. David Kerns heads the BH department.
They do not report to Sutherland.
Last fall, a Bar Harbor resident named Eli Durand-McDonnell was charged with disorderly conduct for yelling obscenities at Leo, a Class E misdemeanor punishable by 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Millstein rallied to Durand-McDonnell’s cause, and in May, District Attorney Robert Granger dismissed the charge, and wrote directly to Millstein to explain why:
Lincoln, I wanted you to be the first to know that I just filed a dismissal in this case. This is the matter you took an interest in where Mr. McDonnell was arrested for disorderly conduct after yelling obscenities at Mr. Leo & his family in Northeast Harbor. It was scheduled for a Motion hearing tomorrow but this dismissal resolves the matter entirely.
It is unlikely we would reach a trial of this matter for an additional year or more given the significant backlog of criminal cases clogging the docket. Even if a jury found Mr. McDonnell’s conduct criminal here, it was on the de minimis side of the equation. I could not imagine a Court would impose anything other than a small fine on a conviction. Hence, this case was on the lower end of our priority list. One of my primary goals has been to focus our attention on prosecutions involving violent offenders rather than getting bogged down in cases in which reasonable persons could arrive at different opinions. …
So for now, protesting is legal in Northeast, and a billionaire court-packer is a little uncomfortable.
Grants Committee (Monday, 10am, online) — agenda
Special Board of Police Commissioners (Monday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda
Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda
Health (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place and online) — EHS Offload Times; with representatives from Department of Health and Wellness, Emergency medical Care Inc., Nova Scotia Health Authority, and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727
The State of Global Peace Today (Tuesday, 1pm, Halifax Central Library) — panel discussion; tickets and info here
In the harbour
05:30: Supreme Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
06:00: Warnow Master, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
07:45: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a seven-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
08:00: CMA CGM Surabaya, container ship, arrives at anchorage from San Juan, Puerto Rico
12:00: CMA CGM Surabaya sails for sea
15:30: One Falcon, container ship (146,287 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
15:30: Supreme Ace sails for sea
16:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
16:30: Bakkafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
17:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
17:00: TRF Mongstad, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from New York
17:45: Zaandam sails for Sydney
22:30: Warnow Master sails for sea
23:00: Bakkafoss sails for Portland
00:30 (Tuesday): Atlantic Sky sails for New York
No arrivals or departures.
I slept, or at least was in bed, for nine hours last night. Even still, I dreamed about being tired.