Matthew Byard is the Halifax Examiner’s reporter for Black Nova Scotian issues.

Matthew’s salary is funded through the Local Journalism Initiative, which “supports the creation of original civic journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada.”

I applied for funding through the LJI a couple of years ago because I saw the need for more depth in the reporting of African Nova Scotians. And Matthew has proven up to the task — he has a real knack for finding stories and reporting on voices and issues that otherwise wouldn’t be heard.

Check out Matthew’s articles here.

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NEWS

1. Donkin

A large grey building next to a pile of black coal.
Donkin Mine Credit: Canadian Mining Journal

The provincial government has renewed the industrial approval for the Donkin Mine in Cape Breton.

On Friday, I detailed Donkin’s safety violations, which is of special concern in Nova Scotia, with its terrible history of deadly mining disasters.

Donkin is operated by Kameron Coal Management Limited, a subsidiary of The Cline Group, controlled by American billionaire Chris Cline. Cline is a climate change denier, reported Forbes Magazine:

Cline thinks the carbon crusade is folly: “I’m all for getting sulfur and mercury and nitrogen oxide out of the air–that’s common sense,” but ultimately, he posits, “global cooling” will be a bigger threat. “I believe in our children’s lifetimes that they’ll wish they had paid us per ton to put more CO2 in the air.” … Which is why he has no qualms about having built his $2 billion fortune with a series of all-in bets that have taken him from Appalachia to Illinois and now to Canada. 

Should the views of the CEO of a company factor into regulatory approval? What matters is the performance of the company and adherence to rules and regulations. But in this case, there’s a wink and nod toward controlling greenhouse gas emissions, while completely ignoring the larger context.

Update: I wasn’t aware when I wrote this that Cline died in 2019, in a helicopter crash in the Bahamas.

One of the conditions of the regulatory approval issued Friday is that “the company must be in full compliance with its Greenhouse Gas Management Plan and is expected to contribute to meeting Nova Scotia’s legislated greenhouse gas emissions targets.”

This is meaningless.

Whatever greenhouse gases are produced by the operation of the mine — the digging and extracting of coal — are inconsequential compared to the greenhouse gases produced by the use of the coal — burning it.

The province has established greenhouse gas emission goals, which mostly translate into limiting how much fossil fuel is burned within provincial boundaries. The point is that Nova Scotia is part of the larger world, and so this province must shoulder its share of the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But ignoring the greenhouse emissions made possible elsewhere by a Nova Scotia coal operation is hypocrisy of the highest order.

“After a full year, the mine is expected to produce enough coal to spew about eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when it is burned,” reports Cloe Logan for the National Observer. “The three million tonnes of coal the mine will produce a year will create as many greenhouse gas emissions as the yearly energy use of over a million homes — more than the entire population of Nova Scotia.”

Nova Scotia Minister of Business Geoff MacLellan speaks to reporters during a post-cabinet media availability on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.— Photo: Zane Woodford

And one particularly greasy aspect of the province’s approval was the news late Friday that former Glace Bay MLA Geoff MacLellan is now working for Kameron. 

MacLellan, who was a Liberal MLA and cabinet minister, shocked observers by joining the PC government last year, as chair of the Halifax Regional Municipality Housing Task Force, the provincial agency that fast tracks development in the urban area. He was later also named Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

A couple of weeks ago, MacLellan announced that he was stepping down from the task force and the deputy minister job to take a job in “the private sector.” I guessed that he’d pop up working for Clayton Developments, which would present its own set of conflicts of interest, but landing at Kameron is orders of magnitude worse.

In August 2015, when he was the minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, MacLellan oversaw the awarding of a $1.6 million tender for the paving of the Donkin Highway, to provide access to the mine site. Ever since, MacLellan has been a government cheerleader of Kameron, defending the company, as Minister of Business and Energy, when it laid off the most experienced workers and replaced them with younger workers not likely to challenge management with safety concerns.

There’s a perception that corporate influence on government decision making rests consists of making campaign contributions and flying politicians and bureaucrats around on private jets and the like, but an additional consideration is that politicians and bureaucrats know that if they use their public offices to facilitate the enriching of corporations, then they are perfectly poised to take high-salaried corporate jobs after leaving public office.

In any event, anyone want to start a grim pool of when the first miner dies at Donkin? Because this has all the ingredients of a terrible disaster: a buccaneering billionaire CEO, a corporation with a long history of safety violations, and the apparent political greasing of the regulatory process.

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2. Crypto

A white man with brown hair and a dark shirt.
Gerald Cotten

Stephen Kimber helped Jennifer Robertson write her 2022 memoir, Bitcoin Widow. Robertson is the widow of Gerald Cotten, the operator of a cryptocurrency exchange called Quadriga CX.

Cotten was the precursor of Sam Bankman-Fried, the operator of the FTX crypto exchange. Both were considered wunderkinds, celebrated for their smarts and their abilities to gather hundreds of millions of dollars in investments into their exchanges (billions in Bankman-Fried’s case). And both were frauds, taking investor money and using it as their own. In both cases, the Ponzi schemes collapsed when the boy genius was just 30 years old — Cotten’s when he died unexpectedly, Bankman Fried’s when reporters looked under the carpet.

As he was writing Bitcoin Widow, writes Kimber, “there were some revelations I couldn’t unlearn:

Starting with the stunning, stunned eagerness of so many otherwise sensible people to invest in a currency they not only couldn’t hold in their hands but a currency that was also — and this has always been one of its key selling points — beyond the control of governments or regulators to govern or regulate.

And then, their equally rabid eagerness to blame anyone but themselves when their life savings disappeared — as they so often did — into a black hole peopled by greedy incompetents, criminal gangs and nefarious scam artists.

Click here to read “The crypto blame game plays on.”

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When it comes to crypto, I guess the lesson is “Never trust anyone under 30.” Well, or over 30. Don’t trust anyone. It’s fraud all the way down.

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3. Electric vehicles

A white car with three men standing behind it.
A Tesla Model 3. CAA coordinator Alex Wilson (left) speaks with Gandhi Rajan (right). Credit: Jennifer Henderson

It’s very difficult to buy an electric vehicle in Nova Scotia, reports Jennifer Henderson.

That’s mostly because this province was late at requiring car companies to sell a percentage of such cars:

[Thomas Arnason McNeil, the sustainable transportation coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre] says Nova Scotia’s legislation is good but it has difficulty competing with stronger laws passed years ago in British Columbia and Quebec, which are similar to those in California and 14 other U.S. states. 

B.C and Quebec require that 90% of all new vehicle sales must be zero emission by 2030. This is forcing vehicle manufacturers to change the type of cars they produce to fulfil their legal obligation rather than lose customers in two of Canada’s most populous provinces.

“And when you don’t have a sales mandate or ZEV standard at a national level,” said Arnason McNeil, “what ends up happening is that B.C. and Quebec suck up all the supply that is available for Canada.”

This means fewer zero emission vehicles are available for sale in Nova Scotia and often they are older models.

Click here to read “It’s hard to buy an electric vehicle in Nova Scotia. Here’s why.”

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4. Food prices

A hand reaching to grab a green pepper amid a grocery store display of shiny red and green peppers.
The price of vegetables is expected to rise the most in 2023–by 6% to 8%. Credit: Yvette d'Entremont

“Prepare to dish out even more for your groceries next year,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

new report released today predicts that in 2023, Canadians can expect an overall food price increase of 5% to 7%.

“We were hoping to have better news for Canadians, given the difficulties experienced in 2022, but our models tell us a different story,” authors of Canada’s Food Price Report 2023 wrote. 

“Like 2022, we anticipate 2023 to be challenging for Canadians at the grocery store, especially for households with lower means.”

The 13th annual edition of the food price report notes the same family of four featured last year can expect an annual food expenditure of up to $16,288.41 in 2023. 

That’s an increase of up to $1065.60 over the total annual cost in 2022.

Click here to read “Food prices expected to increase by up to 7% for 2023, report predicts.”

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5. Slow down on the flower streets

Dahlia Street during the 2015 blizzard. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising residents that speed limits will be reduced from 50 km/h to 40 km/h in the residential streets bound by Thistle Street, Crichton Avenue and Victoria Road,” reads a city press release. “Crews will begin sign installation work next week.”

The streets affected are: Rose, Tulip, Dahlia, Myrtle, Pine, Beech, Oak, Mayflower, and Cleveland. I note that some of those streets are named after trees, not flowers, but for some reason we call the whole neighbourhood the Flower Streets. Historically, it was called Austenville.

Maple Street, also named for a tree and not a flower, is excluded from the lower speed limits. That’s the steep road people use when driving from the duck pond and beyond towards the bridge. It’s kinda hard to go that fast uphill anyway, but I’ve witnessed some scary downhill driving. It’s also the road the marathon used when it looped through Dartmouth.

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6. Forestry ‘greenwashing’

Drone shot of a 2018 Westfor clearcut on crown land. Lake Rossignol can be seen on the top right. Photo courtesy Jeff Purdy.

“The Ecology Action Centre and Nature Nova Scotia have joined six other Canadian environmental groups to lodge a complaint with Canada’s Competition Bureau about ‘sustainability’ claims the Sustainable Forestry Initiative makes about its forest certification,” reports Joan Baxter:

The complaint, made on behalf of the groups by Ecojustice, asks the Competition Bureau to conduct an inquiry into those sustainability claims, which it calls “false and misleading.”

Click here to read “Enviro groups call Sustainable Forestry Initiative ‘greenwashing.'”

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Government

City

Today

Investment Policy Advisory Committee (Monday, 12pm, online) — agenda

Public Open House (Monday, 7pm, Multipurpose Room, South Woodside School) — Case 23958 – request to enter into a development agreement on lands at 541 Pleasant Street, Dartmouth to allow a 6 storey mixed use building.

Tomorrow

Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, online) — agenda

Province

Today

No meetings

Tomorrow

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Truth and Reconciliation Language Legislation and Treaty Education; with representatives from the Office of L’nu Affairs


On campus

Dalhousie

Today

Yard Sale 2022 (Monday, 9am, Dal Bookstore, Student Union Building)

Utility of pathogenomics: tracking clinically relevant evolution in SARS-CoV-2 (Monday, 12:30pm, online) — Finlay Maguire will talk:

The evolution and epidemiology of pathogens are inherently linked.

This has wide-ranging clinical and public health implications. With SARS-CoV-2 this includes evolving resistance to antiviral therapies (e.g. monoclonal antibodies or remdesivir), escaping vaccine-induced (or prior infection) host immunity, altered host ranges, and changes to infection dynamics such as viral load, tropism, and virulence. Tracking the causes and attempting to mitigate the clinical impact of pathogen evolution is made possible by the wide-spread sequencing of pathogen genomes.

In this talk, I will provide an accessible overview of how we sequence SARS-CoV-2 genomes, process them, and infer the evolutionary forces acting upon them. Then, drawing on examples from my research, I will present case studies in which we characterised the evolution and clinical implications of different SARS-CoV-2 infection scenarios including long-term infection in immunocompromised individuals, short-course remdesivir treatment, and the establishment of a potential white-tailed deer reservoir.

Speak Truth to Power Forum: Accessibility in Action through Awareness (Monday, 3:30pm, online) — panel discussion with Melissa Myers, Jaime Blenus, and Cassie Liviero

Tomorrow

Yard Sale 2022 (Tuesday, 9am, Dal Bookstore, Student Union Building)

Doped Metal Oxides for Carbon-free Fuel Cell Catalyst Layers (Tuesday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — E. Bradley Easton from Ontario Tech University will talk

Symphonic Favourites (Tuesday, 7:30pm, St. Andrew’s United Church) — The Fountain School of the Performing Arts presents the Dalhousie Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonardo Perez

Saint Mary’s

Legal Cannabis in Canada: Lessons and Laments (Monday, 1pm, online) — Johannes Wheeldon will talk


In the harbour

Halifax
06:30: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
07:30: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
07:30: CSL Tarantau, bulker, moves from anchorage to Gold Bond
12:00: Ice Fighter, oil tanker, arrives at Tufts Cove from Freeport, Bahamas
17:00: IT Integrity, supply vessel, sails from Pier 9 for sea

Cape Breton
19:00: Shelia Ann, bulker, sails from Point Tupper coal dock for sea


Footnotes

The sun is burning out, seems like, with less sunlight every day. At this rate, the Earth will be a frozen, lifeless rock by April.

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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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2 Comments

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  1. The photo shows Dahlia Street and I can see our house. Very few vehicles travel the flower streets at 50 kmph but last week I drove comfortably over the speed hump on the middle block of Dahlia at 47 kmph to test the deterrence/effectiveness. All 4 houses at the intersection of Dahlia and Pine have been hit by a car – on dry, clear warm days; not caused by speed but caused by drivers who did not see the stop signs or were distracted. The police will not enforce the new speed limit, they no longer park outside our house to catch drivers turning left from Victoria between 4-6 pm. It was a nice amount of money collected on Dahlia and Tulip but police no longer bother with minor traffic offences.
    To put 40 km/h in perspective – I travelled west through the busy Singapore Straits at 20 knots on what was then a large tanker en route to Iran – just me as the officer on watch, the Master keeping an eye on my decision making and an Indian seaman on the wheel. 20 knots is equivalent to 37 km/h.