1. Is the SaltWire Network serious about its lawsuit against Transcontinental?

Remember that lawsuit the SaltWire Network filed against Transcontinental Media? It was kind of a big deal. I read the Statement of Claim SaltWire had filed with the court on April 10, and commented:

The lawsuit hasn’t been tested in court, so we’ll see how this plays out. But as I read through it, I was struck by both the seriousness of the allegations levelled against Transcontinental and by the apparent lack of even basic due diligence on the part of SaltWire.

It appears SaltWire accepted at face value the valuation of the Transcontinental assets it purchased as presented in a slide presentation that Transcontinental used as part of its sales presentation.

[T]he lawsuit makes serious allegations of misrepresentation on Transcontinental’s part.

The lawsuit claims that Transcontinental had inflated circulation figures to its customers, and so subsequently had to “remedy the wrongdoing by providing significant credits to customers for the non-existent circulation.” The customers didn’t learn of the misrepresentation until after the sale agreement with SaltWire.

Additionally, “SaltWire discovered that more than 141,00 flyer packages were not delivered by Transcontinental’s agent in Western Newfoundland [before the sale]. Significant damages have resulted from the requirement to clean-up those materials, and the need to compensate the client…”

There are other claims about assets not being worth what Transcontinental had stated, and then there’s a tax claim: SaltWire claims that Transcontinental had left it with an unpaid $1.7 million HST bill.

As I say, we’ll see how this plays out in the courts, but if the allegations are remotely true, I can’t help but thinking that Transcontinental simply saw Mark Lever as an easy mark.

You can read the Statement of Claim here.

The next day, April 11, Transcontinental issued a press release:

TC Transcontinental has been made aware of the legal proceedings initiated by SaltWire Network related to the transaction involving the Corporation’s Atlantic Canada media assets in 2017. 

“We have not received the lawsuit yet, so we haven’t had the opportunity to review it,” stated François Olivier, President and Chief Executive Officer of TC Transcontinental. “We are confident that the sale of our media assets in Atlantic Canada was conducted based on fair, accurate and timely information. We intend to vigorously defend ourselves in court.” 

TC Transcontinental is a reputable organization that has conducted well over 100 transactions since its founding. “Our Corporation has always been recognized for its integrity and for operating its business in accordance with the highest ethical standards and business practices,” added Mr. Olivier. We apply the same principles in our M&A activities.” 

Furthermore, SaltWire Network has failed to fulfill its payment obligations and is in breach of contract with TC Transcontinental. As such, the Corporation is considering initiating a counter-suit against SaltWire Network. 

The Corporation will not provide any further comments at this time.

[emphasis added]

The way it normally works is when Company A sues Company B, Company A files a Statement of Claim with the court, then Company A hires a process server to serve Company B’s registered agent, and the proof of service is then filed with the court (this is called an “Affidavit of Service”). Then, Company B has 15 business days to file a counterclaim or a defence.

Since SaltWire filed its Statement of Claim, every few days I’ve trotted over to the courthouse to see what’s new with that lawsuit (I do other stuff too; I’m not wasting my time on this). But there’s been nothing. No Affidavit of Service, so therefore no counterclaim or defence.

I emailed Transcontinental yesterday to ask if the company had been served, and the company’s communications person, Patricia Lemoine, quickly responded:

To your question, please note that although the proceedings were filed on April 10, 2019, we have not yet received a copy directly from the plaintiff. 

A lawsuit needs to be served by the plaintiff and this has not yet been done.   

I also emailed both SaltWire and its lawyer, Gus Richardson, to ask why Transcontinental hasn’t been served, but neither has responded.

By tomorrow, eight weeks will have passed since SaltWire claimed that Transcontinental had made substantial misrepresentations totalling in the millions of dollars, and yet SaltWire hasn’t bothered to pay a process server 100 bucks to properly serve Transcontinental notice of the claim.

SaltWire has a year to serve Transcontinental before the Statement of Claim is automatically voided. So the delay could be an attempt to negotiate with Transcontinental without invoking the added costs of court action or the tight timelines imposed by the courts.

Maybe. But it’s also possible that SaltWire’s claim was not serious to begin with, that the filing of the claim was intended not as a serious legal action but rather as a PR move to cover continued layoffs at SaltWire papers and the ongoing consolidation of papers.

Alex Liot

Alex Liot quit the Herald in January. You’ll recall that Liot, the VP for Media Sales at the Herald, was awarded “Bullshitter of the day” during the strike for a letter he wrote to advertisers. He was also given the task of firing Calvin Clarke, who later won a constructive dismissal lawsuit against the Herald. Liot is now the Chief Marketing Officer at the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association, which doles out government grant money through the Canada Book Fund.

Jeff Nearing, who had the title of “Vice President, Partner Solutions” at the Herald, left in March; he’s now the VP of Sales at Discover Halifax, because of course.

SaltWire also did away with regional president positions in February and March. Mike Elgie, who left his position as general manager of CTV Atlantic in 2017 to take over as regional president of Nova Scotia for Saltwire, left that position in February, but now says he is a “Strategic Sales Advisor,” which seems a demotion, but what do I know?

Lizzie Cramm, the regional president for Saltwire’s Newfoundland publications, has apparently also left, but I don’t know where she is now. You’ll remember that Cramm was given the unenviable task of justifying the closure of four papers in Newfoundland; “Unfortunately,” she said, “like most companies, we face the decision that we can no longer support positions that are not necessary… There’s no pleasure in that. It’s just one of those processes that happens as you grow and as you, like I said, find efficiencies.”

In March, David MacKenzie “stepped down” from his role as regional president for SaltWire’s Prince Edward Island publications. He’s currently “exploring” job opportunities.

Soon after SaltWire filed the Statement of Claim against Transcontinental, there was another noticeable change with the Herald.

Here’s the masthead from Friday, April 26:

And here’s the masthead from the next day, Saturday, April 27:

Notice the difference? Yes, the Herald has stopped lecturing us about foolishness, but as hilarious as that is, that’s not what’s important. Rather, Sarah Dennis’s name has dropped off the masthead. She’s there every day before April 27, but disappeared on April 27 and hasn’t returned since. A correspondent tells me that Dennis’s name has also dropped from the masthead of the Cape Breton Post; I haven’t been able to check other SaltWire publications, but I’m guessing the change is system-wide.

What does it mean? A copyediting mistake? Some sort of legal maneuvering to protect assets? Marital discord? Nothing at all? Who knows? But it’s odd that the change was made just 17 days after Saltwire announced the lawsuit it hasn’t pursued against Transcontinental.

2. We the North: Black lives suddenly matter

Photo: Twitter

“In Ottawa, one of the legal advocates for the Elizabeth Fry Society tells me that the Human Rights Commission refused to speak with Black gay women in the prison,” writes El Jones:

I think about these invisible Black women behind prison walls as I drive from Ottawa to Toronto. The Raptors are playing Game Two of the NBA Finals, and suddenly Black men matter to Canada. “We the North” says the playoff slogan, because when “we” are winning, Black people miraculously become fully Canadian. Of course, when people talk about how police need to racially profile Black people for “public safety,” what is implicit is that the Canadian public is white. The safety of Black people, we understand, must be collateral damage for the broader “public,” the public who counts.

Because I am now “bringing race into it,” I anticipate angry comments from white people who will condemn me while arguing that race has nothing to do with these playoffs.

Because this makes me an uppity Black woman, these “colourblind” fans will freely threaten me. They will rage at me for thinking that discussions of racial profiling or the recent poll revealing that 42% of Canadians think there are too many non-white immigrants to Canada have anything to do with Canada throwing a party for the Raptors.

Pointing these things out is “divisive.” Still, it’s hard not to notice that while Black people make up the vast majority of the people on the court, the vast majority of the Black population in Toronto can’t afford the tickets.

People will be angry at me for bringing these things up during this national party, and that rage will be encouraged. Black people, though, we are never allowed to be angry, not at policing, not at abuse online, not at injustice. We party too, by the way, and celebrate, and wear the jersey, and also know — as Colin Kaepernick brings home to us — that race was always part of it, in a country that celebrates Cameroonian player Pascal Siakam and simultaneously thinks that too many Africans are crossing the borders and leaves people struggling across in winter to lose their limbs to frostbite. 

It’s an odd moment.

Click here to read “We the North: Black lives only matter when they are shooting a basketball.”

3. Fish barrier

Trenton Generating Station. Photo: Wikipedia

Nova Scotia Power proposes to spend $1,454,175 for a fish barrier at the Trenton Generating Station. A report to the Utility and Review Board explains that water from the East River is used to cool the two generators at the plant, and the resulting hot water is dumped back into the river via a circulating water (CW) discharge channel.

Last summer, on June 12, “approximately 30 juvenile striped bass were found deceased in the discharge channel,” and five days later another 30 dead fish were found. This prompted investigations by the provincial Department of Environment, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The conclusion was that, yep, the water was too hot for fish.

A consultant hired by Nova Scotia Power recommended “implementation of operational measures to control the temperature of the water released” but mere “consideration” of a physical barrier to keep fish out of the channel completely. This wasn’t good enough for ECCC, which sent NSP a letter demanding the barrier be built.

Click here to read the report.

4. $95,000 for the Wortley Report

Scot Wortley

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission spent $95,000 on Scot Wortley’s street check report, reports Alexander Quon for Global. Wortley found that police stop Black people six times more often than white people.

Of course Black people have telling us this for free for decades…

Quon couldn’t get a complete breakdown of the money spent, but not all of it went directly to Wortley himself — there were some costs associated with renting meeting rooms and the like.

5. Oprah gives a shout out to Holly Bartlett

Oprah Magazine named “What Happened to Holly Bartlett” as one of the “12 True-Crime Podcasts That Will Give You Goosebumps.”

6. Paul McCartney gives a shout out to Emma Stevens

Paul McCartney encouraged people to give a listen to Emma Stevens’ singing of The Beatles’ classic hit “Blackbird.”

Stevens attends Allison Bernard Memorial High School on the Eskasoni First Nation, and sings the song in the Mi’kmaq language. Her version of the song is a wonderful ambassador for Indigenous languages, and video of the high schoolers is simply delightful:


Government

City

Tuesday

City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — a fairly busy agenda, including a motion declining to give financial assistance to the Bus Stop Theatre (I wrote about that here); starting the process to arrive at a policy on roadside memorials (I have interest in this); approval of the sidewalk clearing contracts; a motion by Shawn Cleary that would require councillors to take a leave of absence if they run for election for another level of government; among other items.

I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.

Wednesday

Heritage Advisory Committee Special Meeting (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — three development proposals are on the agenda:

• an expansion of the existing eight-storey building at South Park and Victoria Streets by demolishing two houses next door. The two buildings to be torn down are not heritage properties, but there are no fewer than 14 registered heritage houses in the immediate area, including the Tower Road Heritage Streetscape. The Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee has already rejected this proposal, but all the rejections will likely get overridden by the full city council.

• an eight-storey apartment building behind St. Patrick’s Church on Brunswick Street.

Dexel Development’s half of the mega-developments proposed for the block bounded by Spring Garden Road, Robie Street, Carlton Street, and College Street. Dexel wants to build a 30-storey tower facing Spring Garden Road and Robie Street and a 20-storey tower facing Spring Garden Road, by mucking up four heritage sites on the block.

Halifax and West Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm, City Hall) — consideration of that proposed 19-storey building on the lot next to CTV.

Province

Tuesday

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — oh, this should be great fun; the committee will be talking with some unnamed person(s) from the Departments of Community Services and Internal Services about “Protection of Confidential Information.”

Wednesday

No public meetings for the rest of the week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Thesis Defence, Pathology (Tuesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Alyson Zwicker will defend “Genes and the Environment in Developmental Psychopathology Leading to Severe Mental Illness​.”

Wednesday

Optimization Framework for Natural Gas Storage Assets Subject to Price Uncertainty (Wednesday, 10am, MA 310) — Paul Jobinpicard will talk about how to more efficiently destroy the planet.

Safe Cycling 101 2019 Bike Week Event (Wednesday, 11am, Dal Bike Centre, 1 Alumni Crescent) — Scott MacPhee will teach lane and destination positioning, road communication, and how to anticipate problems. Free bikes available for the class. Email to reserve your spot.

Reputation Research Open House (Wednesday, 3pm, McInnes Room, Dal SUB) —  here’s the babble used to describe this event:

In 2013, Dalhousie completed a robust research project in tandem with 100 Days of Listening, research that helped inform the university’s current strategic and marketing plans. Now, five years later and getting ready to welcome a new president, we’ve repeated this research to determine how far we’ve come, what opportunities have emerged and what we need to do to maintain and grow our reputation heading into our third century.

This comprehensive effort over the past three months has involved more than 3,300 people from within and outside the university, from across the country and beyond. Internal and external stakeholders took part in both qualitative and quantitative research. In fact, you may have participated in some of this research yourself.

Now, it’s time to hear some of the research results and provide input and ideas to help inform future reputation planning. Join us to learn about key findings and progress to date.

Drink every time someone says “collaboration.” RSVP here.

The Role of NPC2 in Cholesterol Transport and the Endocytic System (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre B, Tupper Medical Building) — Aaron Woblistin will talk.

Afghan Cycles (Wednesday, 6pm, Auditorium, Museum of Natural History, Summer Street) — screening of film by Sarah Menzies and Let Media.

Plastic’s Republic (Wednesday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — Giovanna Riccio will talk about  “Plasticity, Barbie, and Plato,” and read from her book. More info here.


In the harbour

06:00: JPO Aries, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
06:30: MSC Nuria, container ship, arrives at anchorage from Liverpool, England
06:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania (that’s the Kinder Morgan coal port just outside Levittown)
11:00: MSC Nuria sails for sea
16:30: Faust, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for New York


Footnotes

Short Morning File today because I’m going to go to that Community Services meeting and see what happens.


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  1. “Is the SaltWire Network serious about its lawsuit against Transcontinental?” ……..

    No – they are not. As you pointed out in the article they are using this as a negotiation ploy. If they took this to court they’d be laughed out of said court because it appears they did ZERO due diligence on the deal. Even if you could prove Transcontinental in some way “misrepresented” the business Saltwater still had a duty to perform due diligence. Given some of the “misrepresentations” they are claiming they’d be hard up to obtain a ruling in their favour as even if they could prove them they are so “basic” Saltwater should have been able to flag them in even the most basic DD proces.

  2. RCMP facebook just posted a picture of a guy who was ‘unwanted’ at Cole Harbour Place but is now ‘wanted’ by RCMP. No reason stated why he was unwanted (or now wanted – fickle fickle). So some other place is calling 911 to bounce. He left before RCMP arrived so he wasn’t ‘controlled and subdued’ like Perkins. lucky him.

  3. Clearly confused about Indigenous people in Canada, Sir Paul referenced Ms. Stevens’s “Native American tribe.” I noted that it took a while before local media edited THAT out of his “shout out.”

    On a related note, during a recent conversation with a Nova Scotian about the fantastic Neptune production of The Color Purple musical (sorry if you missed it), he asked me, in all seriousness, why the show was cast with African Canadians instead of African Americans. I gently noted that the production was being mounted by a Canadian theatre company (the Neptune) in CANADA. And that there were lots of African Canadian performers (among them African Nova Scotians) from which to cast the production. Apparently. that reality had never crossed his mind. Thus remains the invisibility of Black Canadians (among some) unless, as El aptly noted, they are playing basketball or being hustled for the Atlantic Schooners.

    We clearly still have a long way to go.

  4. Blowing up the town- BOTH proposals by Dexel and Rovualis, for 30, 16, 20 and 26 towers at Spring Garden, Robie, College and Carlton Streets are to be considered at the specially scheduled Heritage Advisory Committee meeting. Together these are 80% the floor space of the new convention centre. The buildings will back on to Carlton Street- a “rare” early Victorian Streetscape designated heritage at the municipal, provincial and federal level.
    The volunteer citizens’ group Development Options Halifax’s presentation of drawings and 3-D model of the “complex” is the only time the public has seen the two proposals together. Development Options’ two requests to show the model to the HAC have been unanswered. HRM has also ignored two requests by the Heritage Trust to have this area designated a conservation district; 20 or the 44 buildings in the area are heritage and another 11 qualify-its the last historic neighbourhood on the Halifax Common. These proposals will result in ~12 buildings being demolished.

    The Centre Plan targeted adding 400 residents to this area (HRM doesn’t ever mention an already approved 18-storey Killam proposal for Carlton) – In-fill of 3 8-storey buildings could add about 500 people to this area without destroying anything. Here’s a petition with details- https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc6C0tfwfvJeh-jFiWkln9OsMStpqjX2ixLYT40QQHdCEL1mg/viewform

  5. You don’t necessarily have to hire a process server, particularly when lawyers are already negotiating. You send one over to the other lawyer and ask if they will accept service on behalf of the client. They can do that simply by filing a statement of defence too. That doesn’t mean they can’t keep negotiating – I don’t know what the limitation period for such contract/tort is Nova Scotia but the claim may have been issued to preserve it. If the limitation period is about to expire, you don’t usually have any choice.

    As for the wording of statements of claim, well, let’s just say they try to cover all the bases, and contain an exaggerated version of what the actual evidence may prove to be. “He promised to sell me a bucket, and he didn’t. And if he did sell me a bucket, it had a hole in it.” The damages portion is usually inflated beyond reality. As the saying goes, sue for a million, settle for 10,000..

  6. This doesn’t concern the present Saltwire v Transcontinental lawsuit, but as a side note, Calvin Clarke’s constructive dismissal win vs the Herald was wholly overturned by the Court of Appeal earlier this spring (2019 NSCA 31 on CanLII).