News

1. Northern Pulp

Photo: Joan Baxter

“‘We care,’ says Northern Pulp on the website it has created to spread the word that it ‘cares about forestry families of Nova Scotia,’” writes Joan Baxter:

The site is a vehicle for the company’s letter-writing campaign to get people in the forestry sector to contact Premier Stephen McNeil, their MLA, MP, or even Canadian Senators to ask for an extension to the legislated deadline of January 31, 2020 for the closure of Boat Harbour as a stabilizing lagoon for effluent from the Northern Pulp / Paper Excellence mill in Pictou County.

The form letter on the site requests the extension “to allow Northern Pulp and Paper Excellence the time required to commission and construct a new, environmentally responsible onsite treatment system.” The letter is signed, “A concerned supporter of Nova Scotia’s forest industry.”

Baxter goes on to analyze that claim of “care.”

Click here to read “Northern Pulp says it ‘cares’ — but for whom and for what?’”

This article is available for everyone to read for free, but of course your subscriptions are what make Baxter’s work possible. Please consider subscribing.

2. Pedestrian killed

A police release from early this morning:

At 5:50 a.m. 22 February, Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of a Vehicle/Pedestrian Collision Fatality, at 350 Pleasant Street Dartmouth. A pedestrian adult male (57 years old) was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Investigators from the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division, Accident Investigation Section and Forensic Identification Section are conducting the investigation, which is ongoing.

The deceased male identity will not be released until notification of next of kin.

The police release doesn’t give any further details. The incident is the area of John’s Lunch, where people travel to and from the Woodside ferry terminal. There is a crosswalk there with push button-activated flashing lights, but I can’t say the pedestrian was in the crosswalk or that the lights were on. CTV reporter Carl Pomeroy tweeted a photo that appears to show police operating in or near the crosswalk:

Police on scene of a pedestrian / vehicle fatality, near 350 Pleasant Street,Dartmouth. Pleasant Street between Atlantic St. and Mount Hope Avenue Dartmouth, is blocked to vehicle traffic in both directions .@CTVAtlantic pic.twitter.com/IOmlldNqpK

— Carl Pomeroy (@CarlPomeroyCTV) February 22, 2019

3. Bullshitter of the week: Darren Fisher

Top Bullshitter Darren Fisher.

Yesterday, Justin Trudeau was in town to, among other things, announce $86.5 million in federal funding for the Burnside Connector.

In response, MP Darren Fisher tweeted:

Idling is costing drivers a lot of $$ each year. Plus idling contributes to GHGs!
Reducing idling whenever possible is a great way to conserve fuel and contribute to a healthier #environment!

— Darren Fisher (@DarrenFisherNS) February 21, 2019

Fisher isn’t an intellectual giant, but even he knows better than this.

Building roads does not decrease traffic; building roads increases traffic:

When a new road is built, new traffic will divert onto it. Many people may make new trips they would otherwise not make, and will travel longer distances just because of the presence of the new road. This well-known and long-established effect is known as ‘induced traffic’.

Induced traffic means that the predicted congestion benefits of a new road are often quickly eroded. Traffic levels on bypassed roads can also rise faster than expected due to induced traffic, all of which means the hoped-for benefits of a new road can evaporate very quickly.

The phenomenon of induced traffic has been observed by transport professionals repeatedly since 1925! And recent authoritative reviews have confirmed that induced traffic is still beating forecasts on new roads across the country.

This is not controversial. You want academic citations? How ’bout here? Also: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and… well, you get the point.

It’s simply a fact: highways and roads can hold X capacity, and when that capacity is reached, no more. Adding lanes or new highways creates new capacity, but that too will fill up until X+new capacity is reached, and then no more.

The proposed Burnside Connector.

I know, I know… everyone wants a Burnside Connector, and we’re obviously going to get it. Justify it however you want. I’ve heard all the justifications: this will be the last new highway; we’ll fund mass transit for some other people to take but I need this highway; we’re about to enter a carbon-free glorious future, and even though I’m doing nothing to actively campaign for that glorious future, I should be able to drive my GHG-spewing vehicle more now; trucks are going to use the new road and everyone else will stay on the old road; autonomous vehicles!…

But the simple fact is the new Burnside Connector will ease traffic for about one nanosecond, and then it too will be as traffic-filled as Magazine Hill is now.

But it’s even worse than that.

To Fisher’s point that idling is a problem in Burnside: he’s right. I have to drive (there’s no other practical way) to Burnside this morning, and I’m dreading it. The intersections in Burnside are congested. Every time I drive to the business park I find myself waiting three or four light cycles at several intersections. This is bad. There are lots of cars idling, spewing all sorts of greenhouse gases. It’s an environmental disaster, every day. No question about it.

But building the Burnside Connector will not solve this problem — it will make it worse. That’s because we’re not also expanding every road within the business park or making changes to the intersections. Those roads and intersections will remain exactly as they are right now. The only difference is that, after the Burnside Connector is built, more cars and trucks will be clogging up those unchanged roads and intersections. This is necessarily the result of the Burnside Connector: more cars and trucks will be able to come to the business park, and those cars and trucks will be adding to the existing congestion at the unchanged roads and intersections in the business park. You think waiting for the light at Wright Avenue and Windmill Road is bad now? You’re going to be in for a huge surprise once that Connector is built.

The number of light cycles required to get through an intersection will increase. Idling will increase. Pollution will increase.

Darren Fisher knows this. He sat on Halifax city council while report after report was presented to council about induced demand.

I get that business owners in the business park want more customers and the new highway will bring more customers. But let’s quit with the bullshit that those new customers will not increase traffic and congestion and idling within the park. They necessarily will.

4. The Shambhala revolt continues

Mipham Mukpo

An online petition is calling for Shambhala centres to separate from “the monarchy” — that is, from the Shambhala king, Mipham Mukpo. As is typical with all Shambhala writings, the petition goes on and on and on; they should seriously consider teaching a course in concise writing to new Shambhala recruits. But in any event, here’s the meat of it:

Shambhala has also produced an unhealthy and untenable authoritarian organizational culture; all students have been funneled towards a single guru who now faces serious allegations of sexual misconduct…

In recent months, we have been deeply disturbed by the response of Shambhala leadership in two ways. First, by framing this moment as some kind of collective project of self-reckoning, it has obfuscated a clear and obscene abuse of power by the Sakyong and many complicit others. Second, by allying itself with the broader emergent social movement for racial, gender and economic justice, the organization has made a calculated attempt to avoid directly confronting and remediating those harms which have resulted from the dangerous merger of an accessible educational institution and an esoteric authoritarian body.

On the second count, we wholly support all processes of institutional self-reflexivity which genuinely reckon with real issues of cultural bias, social representation and inequality, but we see SI’s current actions as a cynical withdrawal from and evasion of the more immediate need to critically examine its own unusual institutional structure and accompanying philosophy which have together enabled and promoted a culture of harm and abuse. Osel Mukpo’s transgressions represent a kind of “third strike” following on the misconduct of former leaders Thomas Rich and Chogyam Trungpa. We are especially concerned that SI’s bad-faith appropriation of a social movement stands to taint the righteous work of those many actors who have, in good faith, devoted themselves to this righteous cause.

We call on Shambhala International (SI) to take immediate action to modify its unique institutional structure as the organizational center of both 1) an authoritarian esoteric tradition with a body of sworn devotee students loyal to Mukpo, and 2) a highly accessible public educational meditation institution. We do not hold high hopes.

To this end, we call on individual Shambhala centers to demand that SI facilitate the cleavage of the two aspects described above by recognizing and supporting the centers’ transition to full organizational and financial autonomy.  We also hope that local centers will explore reinventing their own organizational structures on a model of consensus and direct democracy. 

Autonomous anarcho-syndicalist collectives!

So far, 250 Shambhalians have signed the petition.

5. Dartmouth High

Yesterday, police issued a release explaining what went down at Dartmouth High Wednesday:

Police have charged a youth in relation to a weapons call that occurred at Dartmouth High School yesterday.

Shortly before 3 p.m. police received a call that a male youth had threatened another male youth with what was believed to be a gun in the area of Dartmouth High School located at 95 Victoria Road in Dartmouth. The suspect then fled into the school and was believed to be in possession of the gun.

Multiple units, including patrol officers, Emergency Response Team members (ERT), School Response Officers, a K-9 unit, a crisis negotiator and investigators from the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division, responded to the scene. Officers secured the area, closing down Victoria Road from Thistle Street to Nantucket Avenue.

Officers searched the school, and at approximately 5 p.m. the suspect surrendered to police and was taken into custody without incident. An imitation firearm was located in the school.

At approximately 5:30 p.m. students, who had been in lockdown, were cleared to leave the school. No one was injured as a result of the incident.

A 15-year-old male youth is scheduled to appear in Halifax Provincial Court at a later date to face charges of:
• Assault with a weapon
• Threats
• Pointing a firearm
• Possession of a weapon

Police thank students, parents, school officials and the public for their cooperation and patience as we dealt with this difficult situation.

6. Shit pay: King’s College edition

Looks expensive.

A reader sends me this job posting for a Communications Officer at the Advancement Office at the University of King’s College. Note the 19 itemized duties and responsibilities:

Content Creation & Distribution

  • Determine how best to present information — through written or spoken word, visuals, or some combination thereof
  • Research, interview sources and write stories and copy for the website, newsletters and social media channels
  • Collaborate on social media strategies by providing digital thought leadership for all of King’s channels — Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
  • Use Adobe Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator) to create infographics, posters, social media posts, and add value to other print and digital creative assets
  • Capture, create and/or source photos and illustrations
  • Record and edit video
  • Copyedit work of others, writing SEO friendly headlines, subheads, cut-lines, etc.
  • Coordinate print projects through external suppliers
  • Consult on creation of annual content calendar; schedule and execute weekly content distribution across multiple channels
  • Maintain brand standards including visual identity guidelines

Campaign and Project Management

  • Write individual communications plans for recruitment and related campaigns, understanding how to set goals and objectives, write key messages, strategize, execute tactics and perform campaign evaluation following best practices
  • Understand public relations practice around two-way communications (listening and driving online and in-person conversations) and issues management
  • Understand and capitalize on the synergies and confluences that occur between prospective student storytelling, current student experiences, and alumni engagement and outcomes
  • Exercise judgement and recognize opportunities that will enhance the occurrence of storytelling directly through the current student and alumni voice
  • Support planning and execution of communications for Advancement-related events including Encaenia, Worldwide Alumni Celebration and annual guest lectures
  • When needed, contribute to media relations writing media releases, PSAs and event listings for earned media coverage of stories and events

Data Analysis

  • Working with others, support the collection and interpretation of digital data such as Google analytics, making (and adjusting) data-driven decisions that respond to website search engine optimization (SEO) and optimize King’s presence in the digital sphere
  • Working with others, develop, launch and optimize search engine marketing (SEM) and digital campaigns to reach performance targets in a ROI-driven way, performing ongoing in-depth analysis and insight into key metrics of paid campaigns
  • Produce reports outlining results and recommend opportunities for improvement; effectively and accurately measure and report monthly on the ROI of channels, and use that data to continually improve future campaigns and various initiatives

Granted, some of that is just nonsense babble — “digital thought leadership,” “capitalize on the synergies,” and so forth — but the position requires real knowledge and skills, including writing ability, competency in social media, proficiency with various kinds of software, and importantly, the smarts to manage PR campaigns. Just to make sure that knowledge and those skills are present, the successful candidate must have the following qualifications:

  • Two or more years professional experience in public relations or communications
  • An undergraduate degree in journalism, communications, public relations — or equivalent — is preferred. Advanced diploma in public relations will be considered equivalent.
  • Additional technical capabilities including ability to work with InDesign, along with graphic design, illustration or photography skills acquired through training or practice are an asset
  • Proven ability to stay on top of industry trends through environmental scanning and interest in ongoing skills development
  • A service-oriented outlook and a high-degree of flexibility and responsiveness
  • Willingness to serve the operational communications plan and King’s goals, and to set and adjust priorities accordingly
  • Proven initiative as a self-starter with a high degree of independence paired with enjoyment of being on a team that learns and excels as one

That is a professional position, worthy of one of King’s College’s well-educated and well-trained Journalism program grads, who, having paid for that world-class education, are likely carrying something like $60,000 in debt.

So what will the successful job applicant get paid? Basically, $19/hour.

Compensation Range: $40,000 – $45,000

King’s College journalism grads: Your university does not value you, not in the slightest. You paid for your degree, so they got what they wanted from you — your tuition dollars. Sure, you carry the debt, but should you get a job at the university, they’re not about to pay you a wage that can realistically pay off that debt. You need to — as in: must — go somewhere where you can earn a respectful wage worthy of a well-educated professional, a wage that can allow you to both live a half step north of pauperism and start paying off your university debt.

Get the hell out of Nova Scotia, stat.


Views

1. The Rocking Stone

“Are you aware of the Rocking Stone?” Stephen Archibald asked me last night in a DM.

Well, no. No, I was not. So, I went over to his blog post, where he explained:

There was a time when most people in Halifax could look at the photo below and know exactly what was happening and where. Today, I’m guessing, not so much. It was taken on a Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1958, and that’s 11 year old me in the centre, leaning on a pole with my older brother Malcolm. Our mother stands behind. And like little Archimedes with our first class lever, we are rocking the 200 ton granite boulder that looms, mostly off screen, to the left.

Photo: Stephen Archibald

We were at the Rocking Stone in Spryfield, considered, in the 19th century, one of the foremost natural wonders in Nova Scotia. As such, it was often visited by people from the city seeking a gentle, swaying adventure while enjoying a picnic on top of the boulder. A visitor in 1823 gushed that the boulder was “truly astonishing, and clearly evidences the skill and power of an Almighty hand!”

Stephen went and found the thing the other day but, alas, the rock no longer rocks.

Go read all about it.


Government

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Molecules Under Torture: Lasers, Forces, Voltages, and Beyond (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Ignacio Franco from the University of Rochester will speak.

Saint Mary’s

Towards an understanding of Reparations as a creative, holistic and powerful tool of Black Liberation (Friday, 7pm, Room 265 in the building named after a grocery store) —  David Comissiong will speak.


In the harbour

06:00: Figaro, car carrier, arrives at Pier 27 from Southampton, England
10:30: Drive Green Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
10:30: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
17:00: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
20:30: Atlantic Sky sails for New York


Footnotes

I’ve got a couple of court stories, and hopefully I’ll publish something about them later today.


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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. Re: Bulshitter This brief encounter with my MP demonstrates why I’m not in (organized) politics. So I attended an announcement for new federal money for land conservation in the province. It was a pleasant affair, with speakers, a slide show, mutual back slapping, snacks and smiles. Quite enjoyable. There are a number of properties slated for acquisition and I was there because I support such efforts. One of the target properties is on the St. Mary’s River, a beautiful spot, where many local residents, anglers and conservationists are working diligently to maintain and save the ecosystem in and around the river. Money to acquire land in that area is welcomed by everyone involved. MP Darren was there of course, to announce the federal largesse. Nice.

    As things were winding down and I was fetching my coat, Darren came over to shake my hand and say hello. This happens often when I’m at some sort of function where he is in attendance. I genuinely like the guy. But, I just can’t seem to help myself. In the midst of exchanging pleasantries, I blurted; “it’s nice that we’re saving some more land around the St. Mary’s River, but I wish you would have a word with your provincial colleagues.”

    He looked quizzically at me and so I felt compelled to explain. “The provincial Liberals are actively promoting toxic gold mines and next up is one right next to the conservation site you are about to fund. The mine will kill the river and the land around it, so spending money for a conservation site is kind of a waste…” Needless to say, his assistant, gave him a sign and he was gone.

    To be clear, the gold mine in that area will indeed destroy the river, not only for the six years the mine is in operation, but for generations to come. Since land conservancy is billed as a way to save nature for future generations, this effort is a bit of a fools errand, but hey, that’s politics.

  2. “Fisher isn’t an intellectual giant, but even he knows better than this.”

    I agree with the first part of the sentence, vehemently disagree with the second.

  3. $40,000 – $60,000 with benefits for a 35 hour week Monday to Friday 8.30 to 4.30 and 2 weeks minimum guaranteed vacation. Sounds good to me. No requirement to work during a snowstorm.
    Or become an RN with benefits and shift work and no guarantee of 2 weeks vacation in the summer and probably working at Christmas.
    Or drive a bus ( a job on the ferry is easier and much less stressful)

      1. No thanks, I’ll just remain realistic.
        What do you think the position is worth – more than $60K ?
        You want big bucks, go work as a plumber,electrician,welder, miner,oil patch worker.
        Or join the Coast Guard and bounce around the N Atlantic in winter and be away from home for a couple of months.

        1. Colin, I agree that this seems like fairly good job with decent pay and benefits for a “junior” position. Much better in fact than for many King’s journalism grads who are routinely hired as contract or temporary workers at CBC.

          As you rightly point out, the word smithing trade is a lot easier and safer than the skilled trades in the oil patch, for example, with no nights away from home.

          Besides, wordsmiths have traditionally started out honing their skills at lower pay in the journalism trenches. (I’m sure Tim B. himself can attest to that as I certainly can.)

          And, if those King’s J-grads carry high debts, it’s no fault of this small university. It was Paul Martin and his political ilk who cheerfully loaded tuition debt onto students as he wrestled the deficit-demon to the ground “come hell or high water” to the cheers of highly educated journos who should have known better.

          1. University is expensive because you can get loans to pay for it (just like housing). When you subsidize something, you get more of it at a higher price, and the availability of student loans which cannot be forgiven through bankruptcy is essentially a subsidy.

          2. I have mixed feelings about king’s. When I attended it seemed like 9/10 students were from Ontario. There’s no college in Ontario where 9/10 students are from NS. Why should NS subsidize Ontario students’ education to that degree? Quebec charges higher out of province tuition for this reason but NS seems frightened to do so. Ultimately NS taxpayers are on the hook.

  4. Why has Mipham Mukpo not been charged by the police with sexual offences ? Is it because of the mystery and respect (?) that being a cult leader he enjoys such special treatment ?

  5. Maybe the Shambala members and Kings College could pool their money and pay a decent wage to a communications professional to write for them. They both need help.