1. 811 workers

A blue background, shadowy image of a person, and the words "However, with the pay scale as low as it is, nobody wants this job" written in white letters.
A still from the first in a series of videos released by the NSGEU called Telehealth Associates at 811 Speak Out. Credit: NSGEU

“Workers who operate Nova Scotia’s 811 telehealth system are sharing how staff shortages are impacting them, describing 811 as ‘close to collapse,'” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

On Tuesday, the union representing telehealth associates shared the first video in a series called ‘Telehealth Associates at 811 Speak Out.’ In the videos employees filmed with the union, they discuss the challenges around staffing and their expanded work scope. 

Telehealth associates are paid $18 an hour. As reported here last month, the NSGEU said these employees are among the lowest paid health care workers in Canada. This, they said, was making it “nearly impossible” to retain staff.

In a news release Tuesday, the union said staffing shortages have led to workers being mandated to work overtime, “leading to worker fatigue and burn-out, and jeopardizing the service.”

Click or tap here to read “811 telehealth workers speak out about staff shortages, low pay in union video series.”

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2. Truth and elections

A sign reads: “DUMP THE DUMP Houston's Conservatives have done nothing to stop the dump We must stop them Vote Carlo Simmons”
A campaign sign in Preston Credit: PC Party letter to the elections officer

“Nova Scotia’s top election’s official has ordered the Liberal campaign in Preston to take down signs and stop using flyers that imply the Houston government supports a construction and demolition disposal site in the riding,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:

“Dump the dump,” reads the flyer that was being distributed by Liberal candidate Carlo Simmons during his door-to-door canvassing.

“Houston’s Conservatives have done nothing to stop this dump. We must stop them. Vote Carlo Simmons.”

The PC Party wrote to the province’s chief electoral officer to complain about the materials. In a letter dated Aug. 1, Dorothy Rice noted that after a review of the material and evidence supplied by the Liberals to back up their claim, “I do not feel they are properly representing the facts of this matter.”

The PCs say there has been no application for the dump, so there’s nothing the government could do to stop it. Liberal leader Zach Churchill counters that Premier Tim Houston should say one way or the other whether he supports the dump, and points out that the Houston government told Cabot Links that it would not approve a development of a golf course at West Mabou Beach Provincial Park even before Cabot applied to do so.

The golf course proposal wasn’t exactly analogous to the dump proposal — the golf course was to be built on public land, and so the government could squash the proposal before any application was filed for it, while the dump is proposed for a privately owned site.

Still, a government office deciding what is truth and what is fiction in the course of an electoral campaign is unsettling.

In making her order, Chief Electoral Officer Dorothy Rice relied on this section of the Elections Act:

False statement respecting candidate
307 Every person is guilty of an offence who, during an election, knowingly makes, distributes or publishes a false statement of fact about a candidate’s character or conduct for the purpose of influencing the election.

I’m not sure this section applies in this instance. Whatever the truth about the state of the proposed dump in the application process and the government’s ability to regulate it, Simmons isn’t making a statement, false or otherwise, about a candidate’s character or conduct. I suppose that’s borderline logic chopping, but that’s why we have written laws and courts to interpret them.

In these sort of situations, I trust the intelligence of voters. They know a specious claim when they see it.

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3. Fishing with a billionaire

Four men stand next to a sign that reads "Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge."
Fishing at the Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge. Credit: Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge

I think we all can agree it’s inarguable that when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted lavish gifts, including vacation jaunts, from billionaire Harlan Crow it presents enormous conflicts of interest for the judge, even if Crow doesn’t have any business directly before the court, because Crow financially supports think tanks that have amicus briefs before the court.

The Crow-Thomas relationship is a huge scandal in the United States.

But here in Canada, a premier accepts a lavish vacation jaunt from a billionaire who has business with his government, and it barely makes a ripple.

Reports Darrell Roberts for the CBC:

[Newfoundland and Labrador] Premier Andrew Furey didn’t enter into a conflict of interest or violate the House of Assembly code of conduct when he visited World Energy GH2 chairman John Risley’s fishing lodge, according to a report from legislative standards commissioner Ann Chafe.

In an 11 page report released Tuesday, Chafe said there is “no evidence” Furey furthered his own private interests or those of his family through the trip.

“When the evidence is viewed objectively, I find no basis for a finding of conflict of interest, a violation of the code of conduct or applicable legislation,” she wrote in her report.

Furey and his father — then-senator George Furey — traveled to Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge, owned by Risley, in July 2021. The following April, the provincial government lifted its moratorium on wind energy, clearing the way for companies like World Energy GH2, which plans to set up a wind-powered hydrogen-ammonia plant on the Port au Port Peninsula.

Nothing to see here, nope.

I don’t understand billionaires. Seems to me, the entire point of having a bunch of money is to be free — free of concern, free of responsibility, free of having to deal with a gazillion details.

But here are all these rich dudes, and first thing they do when the bank account registers $1,000,000,000.01 is they go buy a yacht, like a big yacht. That’s just another fucking batch of details, right? You gotta worry about maps and anchorage fees and cleaning the thing and furling up the sails and ordering the wine and figuring out where it is when you want to go there and I don’t what else is involved but I’m sure it’s a lot. Couldn’t you just ride in someone else’s yacht?

And billionaires have a bunch of houses, like one where they live, another three or four for mistresses, one in Aspen, another in the south of France. I tell you, I can’t even keep my one tiny house clean; how the heck do they find the energy for six or seven houses? Just stay in a hotel!

I suppose they have people who take care of the details, but they still have to manage the people, no? Yes, I know, they hire more people to manage the people who take care of the details — I know a guy who made six figures as one of two personal assistants to a mere hundred-millionaire, so I’ve seen how this goes — but they still have to manage the PAs.

Give me a billion dollars and I’m stepping away from all responsibility. I wouldn’t have a car, just let limos drive me around everywhere. Wouldn’t do laundry, but buy new clothes instead. Wouldn’t have to cook, eat out for every meal. I wouldn’t even have a wallet or credit cards, just a giant wad of C notes in my pocket. Freedom.

A fireplace in a wood-panelled room.
An interior shot of the Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge Credit: Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge

Anyway, Risley could simply visit a fancy fishing place, but for some reason he felt he needed to own the place. It’s called Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge, and it’s on the Eagle River in Labrador, and it has quite a history. Reported Justin Brake in 2015:

Throughout the early and mid-1990s the southern Labrador Inuit (also referred to as Inuit-Metis) repeatedly ignored federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans regulations on salmon and trout fishing in southern Labrador waters, defiantly risking arrest in exercising what they claimed — and still claim today — is their right as Indigenous people to harvest food on their traditional lands.

Following a series of prosecutions of southern Labrador Inuit fishers between 1993 and 1995, the May 1996 arrest of Paradise River elder Violet Brown — who had fished the Eagle River her entire life to feed her family—put the community on edge.

While it was becoming increasingly difficult for southern Labrador Inuit to harvest traditional foods on their own land, they watched as a growing number of wealthy outsiders were flying in to experience the Eagle River’s world-class salmon fishing.

On Sept. 13, KGY Group began shipping materials to the remote site of the Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge on the Eagle River against the will of the local Indigenous people.

John Martin, a Cartwright resident who helped coordinate the protests, says the construction of KGY’s lodge “was the last straw” and “brought the people together like I never saw before or since.”

“Finally here was a bunch of Labradorians sticking up to the provincial government and the way they dealt with us over the years.”

For about nine days, hundreds of residents from Cartwright and nearby communities in the Sandwich Bay area employed methods of non-violent resistance to keep a supply vessel and helicopter from delivering materials to the construction site.

Deploying small fishing boats, they blocked KGY’s ship from carrying construction materials to the Paradise River area, where they would then be airlifted to the site. And in Cartwright, recalls Learning, they took turns “day after day and night after night for about five nights,” holding hands around a helicopter intended to help with the supply delivery.

Learning says the protest against KGY Group’s territorial encroachment “was probably the first big action that gave us the real shot” needed to assert Indigenous rights. “It was a defining moment in our history.”

The Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge was then owned by Gudrid “Gudie” Hutchings.

The federal government had long wanted to designate a portion of the Eagle River as the Mealy Mountains National Park, but Indigenous people fought that designation for fear of losing their fishing rights. But beginning in 2001, both sides began contemplating a new arrangement for the land — a National Park Reserve that would protect both the river and Indigenous rights to fishing and hunting along it.

In 2010, Hutchings told the Globe and Mail that while the Rifflin’ Hitch would continue to be able to operate, she didn’t like the provision that Indigenous fishing rights would be maintained as, she claimed, salmon on the river were getting smaller:

“People who have lost a resource have more respect for it,” she said. “And I don’t want us to get to that point.”

The Akami−Uapishkᵘ−KakKasuak−Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve was created in 2015.

The same year, Hutchings was elected to Parliament. During the campaign, reported Brake, Hutchings made unsubstantiated claims about the 1990s-protest around the lodge:

It was during that week, Hutchings claimed on Oct. 5 in response to a question from Long Range Mountains Green Party candidate Terry Cormier, that she was “shot at,” “an aircraft was put in danger,” and a woman “was beaten.”

Continuing her recollection of the dramatic events that unfolded during the protests against her business’ presence on Indigenous lands, Hutchings also said the angry residents “did break the law” with “over 60 charges laid,” but that “at the end of the day all the charges were stayed for political reasons.”

“Nobody had the backbone to follow through on the charges,” she said.

In June 1999 the Crown entered a stay of proceedings on all charges laid against members of the Labrador Metis Nation during the Eagle River protests.

Martin says he was taken in for questioning over the alleged gunshot, as was his young son, who had been with Martin on a moose hunting trip the day of the incident.

“The RCMP were coming on a little bit strong, more or less insinuating or implying that I was the one who had supposedly fired at a helicopter — and I had all kinds of evidence that I wasn’t even in town at the time, and that was proven,” he recalls. “I offered to take a polygraph test and then I never heard tell of the RCMP after that.”

Kirby Lethbridge, a former southern Labrador Inuit leader, recalls the RCMP going “house to house, telling people that they were close to making an arrest” over the gunshot that was claimed to have hit the helicopter.

Lethbridge believes the alleged incident created an opportunity for police to target the southern Labrador Inuit people perceived to be leading the protests. “The goal was to break the influence of certain people, myself being one of those,” he says.

“They manufacture whatever they need to in order to get their own colonial way.”

Residents remained peaceful but strong in their resolve throughout the protests, says Learning. But the RCMP and Coast Guard intervention effectively hampered their efforts and made way for Hutchings’ company to transport building materials to the construction site.

Hutchings subsequently sold the lodge to Risley. Hard to believe that the man trying to profit from apartheid wants to own this piece of troubling colonialist history, but there you have it.

And Hutchings is now the Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Anyone want to bet against Risley’s ‘green’ hydrogen project in Stephenville getting ACOA funding?

A fire pit srrounded by blue chairs.
The Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge. Credit: Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge

So, separate from the ‘green’ hydrogen issue, Premier Andrew Furey’s trip to the lodge with Risley is fraught with problematic symbolism.

The lodge doesn’t post its prices on its website — if you have to ask, you can’t afford it — but Men’s Journal had this to say about the Rifflin’ Hitch:

On its surface, this inn in northern Labrador is downright quaint, with log construction, a river-stone fireplace, and caribou-antler chandeliers. But it’s what’s sitting out front that truly elevates it: two helicopters and a Cessna floatplane, your taxi rides each morning to one of the best Atlantic salmon rivers on the planet. In the evenings, an in-house chef will prepare the most elaborate meal you can have in an off-the-grid property, everything from moose steaks to chocolate soufflé. At $75,000 for an all-inclusive four-day stay, this is life-list-level pricing. But when you and seven of your buddies go home, you’ll have more big-fish tales than anyone, including flying to the coast to pick up a few chunks of glacial ice for happy hour. Because, really, what’s a fishing trip without a single malt on a 10,000-year-old cube? 

You know, the more I read about billionaires, the more I like my life as a working stiff.

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Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda


Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate and online) — agenda


No meetings

On campus



Public Discussion (Thursday, 4:30pm, NS Health Innovation Hub, Nova Centre) — with researcher and psychologist Christopher Mushquash; rsvp and info here

In the harbour

05:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Autoport from St. John’s
06:00: GPO Sapphire, heavy lifter, sails from IEL for Rostock, Germany
06:45: Viking Neptune, cruise ship with up to 928 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Gaspé, Quebec, on a 12-day cruise from Montreal to New York
07:00: Atlantic Swordfish, barge, moves from IEL to Imperial Oil
08:00: FS Garonne, French naval support ship, arrives at Dockyard
09:00: Pijlgracht, cargo ship, moves from anchorage to IEL
10:00: Orion, crane ship, sails from IEL for sea
10:30: Silver Shalis, yacht, sails from Foundation Wharf for sea
10:30: One Falcon, container ship (146,287 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Norfolk, Virginia
11:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Fairview Cove
15:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
17:45: Viking Neptune sails for Boston
18:30: Pijlgracht sails for sea
21:00: Nor’easter, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea

Cape Breton
11:00: Thunder Bay, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry through the causeway to Summerside
13:00: Algoma Verity, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Savannah, Georgia
14:30: Mary A, superyacht owned by Thomas O’Malley (not the alley cat in The Aristocats, but rather the oil industry billionaire), sails from Baddeck for Sydney
15:00: Rhythmic, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
16:00: Cherokee, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to EverWind
17:00: Mary A arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal


Still working on a big project. Hope to finish today.

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

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  1. I am guessing that the temptations and lavish lifestyles are the trapings of male billionaires and their politaical and other friends. Me thinks that women billionaires are not as folly. Just a hunch, but I do not recall such stories making the news.

  2. The election sign story:

    The picture is bad but does the sign have the “endorsed by the official agent of ….” tag that is required for election advertising?

    Also agree that the quoted part of the election act is limited in its meaning and application and that this seems a stretch. (The section is specific to a candidate and not a party or the government in general). Also agree that a regulator of truth in election materials is a questionable idea.

  3. It’s hard to believe these sorts of trips don’t violate ethics and conflict of interest policy within elected bodies. They would for me, and I just work for the government!

  4. Voters regularly believe candidates bullshit, and straight up lies.

    Bullshit that puts the other guy in a place to prove a negative is especially effective.

  5. Why is it so easy to temp elected officials into accepting lavish freebies and why is it so hard for them to just politely say “thanks but no thanks?”