News

1. Green hydrogen

Still from a video on EverWind Fuels website

“Last Wednesday, the keynote speaker at the opening of the World Hydrogen Congress in Rotterdam told hundreds of attendees that, ‘hydrogen is starting to look like an economic bubble,’” reports Joan Baxter:

Five days later, on Monday, Nova Scotia Natural Resources and Renewables Minister Tory Rushton gushed in a press release that, “Green hydrogen is a clean-burning fuel that can help with our transition to green, renewable energy in circumstances where fossil fuels cannot easily be replaced.”

Rushton’s press release came as the Progressive Conservative government of Tim Houston introduced amendments to several pieces of legislation to “pave the way for the production and use of green hydrogen as a clean energy source in Nova Scotia.”

Click here to read “Analyst: ‘green hydrogen’ is a bunch of hot air.”

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2. The price of carbon

Environment Minister Tim Halman (centre) speaks with reporters on Oct. 27, 2021. Photo: Tim Bousquet

“On Tuesday, the Houston government introduced amendments to the Environment Act in response to a federal government decision to begin raising the price of carbon to slow the pace of climate change,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Across Canada, the price of a tonne of carbon will rise from $50 to $65 in January and increase by $15 a year until 2030.

The changes introduced by Environment Minister Tim Halman will require the largest producers of GHG emissions — namely Nova Scotia Power and cement manufacturer Lafarge Canada — to meet new performance standards to be set by the province and take effect Jan. 1, 2023. Failure to reduce emissions to that standard will trigger “paying a price” on the tonnes of carbon dioxide produced.

Click here to read “Houston government introduces made-in-Nova Scotia carbon price for large emitters.”

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3. Petition

The $48 NSF Fee Centre in May 2021 as the Halifax Mooseheads practiced ahead of the Memorial Cup. Photo: Zane Woodford

This item was written by Yvette d’Entremont.

A group of Nova Scotia women have started a petition calling on the provincial government and HRM to use funds from the upcoming IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship to “invest in sexual assault survivors and prevention reflective of a feminist lens.”

The petition was launched on Tuesday by Nova Scotia Feminists Speak Out, Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson of Persons Against Non-State Torture, Judy Haiven with Equity Watch, and Kathrin Winkler with Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace. 

“​​Beyond a staff report on a code of conduct at events, this petition is a call to meaningful action as our city and province benefits financially from the tournament,” the petition states.

Among their five recommendations, they’re asking for tournament sponsors to invest in community-based sexual violence supports and are urging that sexual violence in sports culture be addressed through work with athletes, sports organizations, and male ally programs.

“We felt as Nova Scotia feminists that we must speak out trying to get the tournament stopped since a gang rape was reported to happen here in 2003. Because the tournament is going ahead, we have regrouped asking for some of the revenue from the tournament be redirected to respect promoting a healthy sport of hockey without gang rape and hazing,” Linda MacDonald told the Halifax Examiner on Tuesday. 

“Hockey spends a great deal of effort on preventing concussions and the long term effects of concussions. In the same manner, gang rape and hazing causes life-long harm and Halifax can contribute to preventing such harm by supporting the recommendations in our petition.”

Their petition comes on the heels of national (and international) headlines made by the Hockey Canada scandal. As Zane Woodford reported last week, Hockey Canada has been in a downward spiral for months. Major sponsors like Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and Nike bailed on the organization, the federal government froze funding, and Hockey Nova Scotia is no longer sending fees up to Hockey Canada.

Last Tuesday, Hockey Canada’s board of directors announced that CEO Scott Smith and the entire Hockey Canada board were stepping down “effective immediately.”

Halifax is set to host the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship with Moncton starting in December. 

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4. Heritage

1245 Edward St. on Thursday, July 14, 2022. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Halifax councillors have voted to add a Dalhousie-owned building to the municipal heritage registry, despite the university’s assertion that it’s a ‘failed,’ ‘mongrel’ structure,” reports Zane Woodford:

Council held a heritage hearing during its meeting on Tuesday to consider 1245 Edward St., built in 1897 and almost demolished this summer. Dalhousie University bought the property in July 2021, and in May, it started work to tear it down. Neighbours rallied to save the structure and submitted a third-party heritage application.

Click here to read “Halifax council approves heritage registration for Dalhousie building that was almost demolished.”

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5. Not a good look: government secrecy

Province House in June 2021. Photo: Zane Woodford

This item was written by Jennifer Henderson.

It’s getting more difficult to obtain any information from the province about the impact of COVID-19. 

Last Friday, the Examiner asked the Department of Health and Wellness how many long-term care homes in the province were closed to visitors because staff or residents had COVID. Nursing homes are required by regulation to report all incidents of infectious disease, including influenza, to the Department of Health and Wellness. So, the numbers should have been easy to get. We specifically did not ask to identify individual homes.

Yesterday afternoon, we received this information from Khalehla Perrault, communications advisor for the Department of Health and Wellness:

As of Oct. 18, there are 10 facilities reporting more than two cases of COVID. While the instances of infection are reported to our department, whether or not they are restricting visitation at a given time is not information we collect. Those decisions are made at the facility level in collaboration with Public Health, Facility Management, and Infection Prevention and Control teams based on the unique circumstances of the positive cases.

We’d still like to know how many — if any — nursing homes are experiencing COVID on a scale that has led to closing the facility to visitors or curtailing new admissions. There are more than 90 nursing homes in the province. A year ago, this information would have been public. 

Extension of hours at Legislature

Opposition politicians say a decision by the Houston government to change working hours at the Legislature will help the government avoid scrutiny from the public and the press. On Tuesday, the government used its majority to change the daily schedule so that MLAs will debate bills and legislation between 1pm and midnight for the next two weeks. Premier Houston said the change is necessary because “the government has work to do.” 

NDP leader Claudia Chender isn’t buying it.

“Every other province has a set number of days that they sit each year,” Chender said. “We sit the fewest number of days by far and we have no calendar because that advantages the majority government by steamrolling any opposition to a bill, in staying out of the media as much as possible and staying away from Province House. What we saw today with the extension of the hours to midnight every night is an extreme version of what has been a problem in Nova Scotia politics for years. It’s undemocratic and it means the media can’t cover what happens here. It’s embarrassing, frankly.” 

Most media outlets, including the provincial daily newspaper and TV and radio stations, are reluctant to pay overtime to reporters to work after 5:30pm. 

“You call House hours longer when you want to get out of here in a shorter period of time,” said Liberal leader Zach Churchill about the extended hours and 10-hour days.

This session of the Legislature did get off to an awkward start when CBC reported that the premier’s office had asked Speaker Keith Bain to resign and the Progressive Conservative member from Cape Breton refused to go. The Speaker is elected by all MLAs in the Legislature and is expected to be neutral and impartial when they decide what gets debated on the floor of the House of Assembly. Bain told reporters the premier felt some of his rulings — such as allowing emergency debates about inflation and the spread of COVID-19 — had, in Bain’s words, “put the government in a hard spot.”

The story took another embarrassing turn when the Premier’s Office issued a news release last week indicating Bain had signed a document agreeing to leave in April. 

The premier calls this “succession planning” and yesterday refused all further comment to reporters on what Houston now describes as “a private matter” between himself and the Speaker. Houston did say he was pleased with a ruling by deputy Speaker, Liberal MLA Angela Simmonds, who dismissed a question of privilege raised by Liberal leader Zach Churchill. 

Churchill suggested the “intimidation” put forward by the Premier’s Office would make it more difficult for the Speaker to do his job impartially. But the deputy Speaker disagreed. She determined Bain’s actions in standing up to the premier in defense of the Office of the Speaker proved he is more than capable of continuing to serve in the key job, regardless of what the premier may think of his performance.

Ferry tales        

Only 36,100 passengers sailed on The Cat from Bar Harbour, Maine to Yarmouth this summer — below all market expectations shared by Bay Ferries. Hurricane Fiona did result in the cancellation of 2,000 tickets. Even still — given the $17 million in subsidy from provincial taxpayers this year — it’s becoming harder to justify keeping the boat afloat. 

On Tuesday, Premier Houston told reporters at Province House the government will keep its options open by renewing The Cat’s lease for one year and commissioning an economic impact study.

“Obviously, every Nova Scotian would like to see the passenger numbers higher, for sure,” Houston said. “We will do a full economic impact study to make sure that not only the people in the region, but all Nova Scotians are getting good value.”

There are four years left in the 10-year contract between the province and Bay Ferries. Liberal leader Zach Churchill is the MLA for Yarmouth where the ferry docks. 

“If you look at survey data, you can guess potentially $35-40 million was spent here this summer because of the ferry service, new money from the US into our economy,” Churchill said. “I fully support an economic impact study, but I worry about the independence and objectivity of it. I worry this premier has had an axe to grind about this ferry and that the process won’t be fair. So, that’s something we will pay close attention to.”

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6. Australia’s St Barbara shares plummet, and the news from its Touquoy gold mine in Nova Scotia is not great

This contributed photo shows waste rock being trucked into and levelled at the bottom of the open pit of the Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy gold mine.

This item was written by Joan Baxter. 

Yesterday was not a golden one for Australia’s St Barbara Ltd, which owns Atlantic Gold and Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia, operates the Touquoy open pit gold mine in Moose River, and hopes to open three more on the Eastern Shore at Beaver Dam, Fifteen Mile Stream and Cochrane Hill, near Sherbrooke.

According to Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro, Tuesday was a “day to forget” St Barbara’s share price, which plummeted 22% to 52.2 cents (Australian).

Mickleboro writes that investors started selling off their shares after St Barbara issued its first quarter update, which showed that:

Compared to the fourth quarter … St Barbara’s production was down almost 26% and its costs were up a massive 34.8%.

And with St Barbara commanding an average gold price of [Australian] $2,486 per ounce, it was costing the company $4 per ounce more to produce the precious metal than it received for it. Ouch!

That wasn’t the only bad news in the latest St Barbara update.

Reporting on its operations in Nova Scotia, St Barbara said production at its Moose River mine was 11,492 ounces, “in line with expectations” given that the pit is nearing the end of its life, and Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia is now obliged to depend on the remaining lower grade deposits, and on processing the ore in its stockpiles.

St Barbara also reports that its Moose River open pit gold mine was affected by post-tropical storm Fiona. The mine had no power from the grid from Sept. 24 until Oct. 5. According to the St Barbara update:

… gold production was impacted by the storm with province-wide power outages leaving the Touquoy site without power for seven days in the first quarter, and a further five days in the second quarter. The power outage reduced mill availability driving a reduction in ore milled compared to the previous quarter.

It continues:

… as a result of advanced site storm preparations, pleasingly there was no major damage to infrastructure nor any environmental breaches resulting from the storm.

The very next paragraph in the St Barbara update appears to contradict that claim:

However, the Touquoy pit experienced a wall failure above a production area during the storm which will require three weeks of rehabilitation work in the second quarter. During this time, mining rates will be impacted, with low grade stockpiles used to supplement ore to the plant. This will not impact production for the year, as these stockpiles were planned to be used in the second half of the year after mining ceases in the open pit.

In March this year, Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia applied to Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change to store tailings — the toxic sludge left over after gold is extracted from ore — in that pit, to expand the waste rock piles and pits where clay is extracted.

However, even as NSECC was assessing that proposal, the provincial government gave Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia permission to store waste rock in the clay borrow area, operate an ammonia treatment plant and increase the wall around its tailings facility 2.5 metres, which is about the only good news about its Nova Scotia operations that St Barbara had in its update this week.

Its three remaining proposed mines in Nova Scotia remain under evaluation by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, which recently granted St Barbara a three-year extension on the environmental assessments for two of them under outdated legislation.

Yesterday’s drop in St Barbara shares was by no means the first time the gold miner has had dismal results this year. Just last month, its shares dropped 70% after it announced huge losses, which analysts blamed on its purchase of Atlantic Gold in 2019.

At the time, St Barbara board chair Tim Netscher pointed the finger at First Nations, Canadian regulators, and COVID-19 for the company’s woes.

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7. Women suffering because of silence, stigma around menopause

From ‘The Silence and the Stigma: Menopause in Canada’ report by the Menopause Foundation of Canada (MFC).

“The health care and workforce needs of Canadian women over the age of 40 are largely being ignored, women are needlessly suffering, and their long-term health is potentially impacted because of the silence and stigma around menopause,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.

Those are a few takeaways from a new national study published earlier this month. ‘The Silence and the Stigma: Menopause in Canada’ report by the Menopause Foundation of Canada (MFC) is being referred to as a “landmark” report of the experiences of perimenopausal/menopausal women in this country.

Despite being an issue that affects every woman, the survey found that menopause continues to be shrouded in secrecy and considered taboo. The study’s authors say that’s negatively impacting women in the prime of their lives.

“We live in this world where no topic is off limits, and yet more than half of those surveyed (54%) believe that menopause is still a taboo subject,” Menopause Foundation of Canada president and co-founder Janet Ko said in an interview.

Click here to read the whole story.

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Noticed

When I was in my 20s, I was in retail — I managed a couple of Crown Books outlets in Los Angeles. (Crown was a discount chain that later disintegrated through some sort of family feud among the owners.) I remember once, a woman came in with a baby and one of the clerks commented something about the woman being a grandmother, and the customer was irate — she was the child’s mother, not grandmother.

In retrospect, the clerk, who was an aspiring screenwriter (everyone in LA is an aspiring screenwriter), may have been purposefully tweaking the customer. She, the clerk, had a mean streak.

In any event, that was the first of several encounters that taught me to never comment on a customer’s age. And over the decades, the principle has broadened: don’t assume a woman’s belly bump means she is pregnant, and really, don’t comment on a person’s body at all — not the age, the size, the colour, the anything.

With friends, I’ll comment positively — ”You look great!’ or praise a new hairstyle — but otherwise, someone else’s body is none of my damn business.

And then I got increasingly grey, and clerks started offering me the seniors discount. It happened yesterday, when I ran into Lawtons to pick up something, ironically, while I was on the way to the gym.

I took umbrage, and stewed all evening about it. Is this fair? Well, no, but also yes.

No: The clerk was young, and is told by management to offer the discount. She has no way of determining my age, and my increasingly grey hair is a rough signifier (although, when I was in college, I had an incredibly beautiful 20-year-old friend whose hair was completely grey, so maybe not).

Also no: some older people are on fixed incomes and need every discount they can get.

And no again: There’s nothing wrong with being old, even if Lawtons defines “senior” as 55.

But…

Yes: People entering into a certain age group that can sometimes be associated with declining health are a little self-conscious of this fact, and it doesn’t always settle comfortably. I’m allowed to make self-deprecating jokes about my age — it’s my own damn body — but other people shouldn’t be calling attention to it. My body is none of your damn business.

The proper way for a clerk to inquire about a possible seniors discount is obliquely, by pretending there’s a range of discounts that might be available: “Do you have any discounts?” (There are military discounts, CAA discounts, and so forth, and Lawtons has at least two other non-age related discount programs.) This gives agency to the customer to decide for themselves whether or not to self-define as old.

Also yes: The seniors discount is unfair. Seniors aren’t a monolithic demographic of people on fixed incomes struggling to pay for their medicine. Lots of older people are filthy rich (the house is paid off, the kids are out on their own, the investments have matured, they have insurance plans that cover most of the cost of drugs), while lots of young people are struggling (they work multiple shitty minimum wage jobs, are saddled with enormous school debt, have nothing in way of investments, and extra medical insurance is a pipe dream). Why should a filthy rich old person get a discount while a struggling young person does not?

And most importantly yes: In a fair world, Lawtons would simply lower prices across the board, making medicine available at the lowest price possible for all customers, and do away completely with an inherently unfair discount program.

But it’s not a fair world. It’s a world full of haves and have-nots, a world where some people have insurance that covers drugs and others don’t. And, a world in which there are predatory drugstore chains trying to leach the most profit possible out of a limited customer base. And so, the point of the senior’s discount is not to help anyone, but to bring in customers who might otherwise go to a competing drugstore.

Lawtons, in fact, cares about my economic situation, but in exactly the opposite way than the seniors discount is presented: the discount is aimed principally at relatively rich people. Rich people spend more money than poor people, so offer the discount to rich people and Lawtons brings in more customers. That’s why Lawtons doesn’t offer a struggling young person discount — where’s the profit in that?

The fact is, age is only brought into the retail world as a finely tuned marketing scheme. And that’s the most offensive thing about the seniors discount.

Now, with that out of the way, I think I’ll buy a sports car.

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Government

City

Wednesday

Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda

Case 24509 – Beechville Proposed Zoning Changes (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Ridgeville Middle School, Beechville) — HRM-initiated application to amend the Timberlea-Lakeside-Beechville Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-law to implement zoning changes for Beechville

Thursday

Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Power House Youth Centre) — agenda


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

No Easy Answers (Wednesday, 7pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — panel will explore how we can use ethics to generate momentum for discussion about what matters in health care and how to achieve these important goals

Thursday

A Major Hurricane in the Little Ice Age (Thursday, 11:30am, Milligan Room, Life Sciences Centre) — Earth and Environmental Sciences departmental seminar from speaker John Dickie

The 2022 Stanfield Conversation: Digital Democracy (Thursday, 7pm, McInnes Room, SUB) — “Technology, Media Fragmentation, and the Crisis of Democracy in America,” featuring speakers Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Ron Diebert, and Elizabeth Dubois, with guest moderator Portia Clark

Mental health service delivery post-pandemic: Lessons learned (Thursday, 7pm, Peggy Corkum Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Road, Halifax) — Department of Psychiatry’s Annual Café Scientifique, an informal panel discussion with researchers, mental health leadership, and a community stakeholder group that is open to the public

Saint Mary’s

Wednesday

No events

Thursday

The Queen of Basketball (Thursday, 6pm, Room 260, in the building named after a supermarket chain, and online) — film screening and panel discussion with Ben Proudfoot


In the harbour

Halifax
05:00: One Hangzhou Bay, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
05:30: Tosca, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
07:30: Star Pride, cruise ship with 254 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Magdalen Islands, on an 11-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
07:30: Ocean Navigator, cruise ship with up to 320 passengers, moves from anchorage to Pier 24, arriving from Charlottetown, on a nine-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
09:00: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Montreal
09:00: Voyager of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,099 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Portland, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of Boston
10:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 36 from St. John’s
11:00: MSC Pilar, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Barcelona
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 42
15:30: MSC Nerissa, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
16:30: Tosca moves to Pier 9
19:30: Ocean Navigator sails for Portland
20:00: Voyager of the Seas sails for Saint John
22:30: Star Pride sails for Lunenburg

Cape Breton
06:00: Enchanted Princess, cruise ship with up to 4,402 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Boston, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
07:00: James Cook, research/survey vessel, arrives at Liberty Pier (Sydney) from Halifax (left Halifax Harbour on October 2)
16:00: James Cook sails for sea
16:30: Enchanted Princess sails for Halifax


Footnotes

The Examiner’s new website will roll out tomorrow, probably some time in the afternoon. There may be a brief period when the site will be down as the transition happens.

Almost all of the heavy lifting for the site was performed by Iris the Amazing. I can’t thank her enough. It looks amazing.

There will be glitches as we authors and editors learn to use the site, but I don’t expect any of that to be too disruptive. For the reader, you’ll have much more functionality, especially when it comes to subscribing and managing your account, but also in simple ease of reading. I’m sure you’ll like it.


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Tim Bousquet

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

Yvette d'Entremont

Yvette d’Entremont is a bilingual (English/French) journalist and editor, covering the COVID-19 pandemic and health issues. Twitter @ydentremont

Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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  1. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
    I was offered the seniors’ discount recently at Shoppers and I was interested. But, I didn’t have the loyalty card. I was told I could have the discount if I signed up for the loyalty card. So I asked if customers had concerns about giving them access to their data which was met with a blank stare. Needless to say, I didn’t get the discount.
    I don’t give my phone number either when asked by cashiers when making a retail purchases. Do I really want marketing phone calls just for the privilege of spending money in their store?
    Call me anal, but that’s the way I roll.

  2. I think there are also discounts for students in some places. Superstore near the Viarail station? Bulk Barn?
    A partial answer to all this is, of course, a universal livable income, which would be taxed back from those who don’t need it, and help everyone else, meaning a lot of current expensive support programs, requiring means tests and creating barriers to many, would no longer be needed.

  3. Lawton’s first offered me the seniors’ discount about seven years ago (I’ll be 58 this year). I took it but didn’t expect to continue to get it. I only asked for it once I was actually 55. And, last week, when I went to Lawton’s to get the discount on a few items, I was told I had to have the Scene card as the two were now linked. I already had one, so I was able to get my discount that day; but the clerk did say that others hadn’t been able to. Why link one thing to another without letting your customers know in advance?

  4. Lawton’s clerks now ask if you have their new “Scene” card. And Seniors Discount Day is Wednesday not Tuesday.

  5. The stores won’t remove the seniors’ discount programs so long as they’re profitable, so maybe financially secure seniors should use their discounts for proxy-buying for the struggling young folks in their life. Could be a nice little bit of advocacy.