1. Port of Sydney
“Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillor Ray Paruch questioned the need for a meeting of the Port of Sydney Development Corp.’s board of directors Saturday, saying it should have been scheduled for later in the year,” reports Tom Ayers in Local Xpress.
The full details of this particular spat are a bit difficult to summarize, but they involve broad distrust of the Port and its players.
As I see it, Sydney can perhaps catch a bit more cruise ship traffic by building a new dock. Whether it makes sense financially to dredge the harbour and pay for the construction and operation of the dock in return for a few thousand American tourists buying trinkets, I can’t say — maybe it does.
But talk of Sydney becoming a container port is beyond delusional, and those pushing the plan are simply grifters hoping to make a quick buck as consultants and the like.
2. Examineradio, episode #52
This week, media strategist and all-around doer with Brown Paper Tickets Sabrina Roach talks about the explosion of low-power FM radio in her native Seattle and around the US. How does this movement increase dialogue within underrepresented communities and could that model work in Canada? Tim, meanwhile, reminisces about all the great bands he missed while getting high.
Also, Halifax City Council’s marathon 14-hour meeting this week was notable not only for its epic length (seriously, I listened to the entire King Crimson discography while watching it livestreamed on my computer), but also for its protracted whinefest over councillors’ salaries. We’ll provide a link to Councillor Russell Walker’s GoFundMe campaign just as soon as the City Hall janitors start making more money than him.
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3. “The Haiti of the North”
Antigonish filmmaker Peter Murphy recently led a three-week social justice workshop with the Antigonish County Adult Learning Association. The result is “It’s Too Big,” the above 10-minute documentary about the biomass plant in Point Tupper, which the documentary argues is leading to the decimation of Nova Scotia forests
In the film, logger Danny George says the biomass plant is turning Nova Scotia into “the Haiti of the North,” a reference to the over-logging that has led to the famously denuded landscapes in Haiti. Here’s a graphic of the Haiti/ Dominican Republic border, showing the results of the two countries’ respective forestry policies:
4. Chronicle Herald
Management at the Chronicle Herald has refused to return to the bargaining table with striking workers, says the Halifax Typographical Union in a press release:
The Chronicle Herald has rejected an overture from its striking newsroom staff to return to the bargaining table.
“It appears the Herald has a short-term plan or strategy in place that does not include professional newsroom reporters, photographers, editors and support staff going back to work anytime soon,” said Ingrid Bulmer, president of the Halifax Typographical Union, which represents the 59 striking employees.
The union reached out to the company through the conciliator who has been dealing with the seven-week-old dispute. The company brushed off conciliator Peter Lloyd’s approach, saying it didn’t feel the union was ready to make “necessary” concessions.
Before launching a defensive strike action Jan. 23, the union offered concessions to the tune of a five per cent wage cut, a cap on severance pay, reduced mileage rates and fewer vacation days. But the Herald and its president, Mark Lever, have refused to budge on their unreasonable demands, which include a longer work week, drastically reduced severance provisions and the elimination of any job security.
In all, the company is insisting on 1,200 changes that would totally rewrite and gut the existing collective agreement. It was the company’s announcement that it would impose these changes on staff Jan. 23 that prompted union members to walk off the job.
“The company is determined to bust our union and to farm out the jobs performed by respected local journalists to out-of-province workers and inexperienced new hires who will work much cheaper,” Bulmer said.
“We are ready to return to the bargaining table any time that the company wants to engage in meaningful negotiations.”
This year’s lobster catch is the biggest ever, but “seafood buyers are reporting high lobster mortality and poor quality, which a federal scientist says may be because lobsters are extra fragile this year in Canada’s largest lobster region off southwestern Nova Scotia,” reports Rachel Ward of the CBC:
In previous years, [Joel German, plant manager of I. Deveau Fisheries in Barrington Passage] said he’d store lobster bought in December until mid-March with a two per cent mortality rate.
This year, he said he’s seeing a minimum of five to 10 per cent dying before shipping, with more never hitting a dinner plate.
“It’s to the point the dealers can’t sustain the hits,” German said.
“A lot of guys lost their shirts this year big time because of quality issues.”
Ward interviewed a DFO scientist who said everything will turn out all right, this year is just a one-off, and lobstering as usual will return. So there’s that.
Thursday, I linked to an article by Bruce Livesey in the National Observer about the Irving family, the first in a planned six-part series. Over the weekend, the article was taken down, with this odd explanation:
This story has been removed pending updates. It will be re-published in May, along with the entire series. Contrary to speculation, the delay is not due to pressure from the Irving group of companies. Thank you.
7. The Antigonish Community Science Centre
I have, I think, average reading comprehension skills and more than a little patience to work through convoluted text, but I’m getting nowhere with this Facebook post about the Antigonish Community Science Centre. I’m sorry, I know I’m being rude, but this is so poorly written that it’s incomprehensible to me.
I think there’s a story there — one that should concern people — and if someone wants to have a crack at it, I’d appreciate it.
1. Council salaries
Try again, says Stephen Kimber.
2. Liberal Land Part 2: The Allure of Prince Justin
Richard Starr shows how the fortunes of the provincial Liberal parties in Atlantic Canada have been tied to the meteoritic rise of the federal Liberal party since Justin Trudeau took over as leader:
Combine that history of close co-operation with an influx of new Liberal MPs and staffers from the region who owe their jobs to Trudeau’s coat-tails (hello Darren Fisher, Andy Fillmore and the guy who beat Peter Stoffer) and you have the makings of one big happy Liberal family, loath to make an issue of something as arcane as transfer payments.
3. Cranky letter of the day
Pictou councillor Bob Naylor in his letter writes, “If it doesn’t amalgamate, the Town of Pictou will have to dissolve within five or six years.” I get it. Bob and the Pictou Council have given up the fight and have decided to surrender.
There is nothing so inevitable as change and it’s a constant battle to keep up with it. How did Pictou get a defeatist council? As I read the letter, I think back to my days on council and how things have changed. Actually, we came to office on a tide of change.
I first won my Pictou Council seat in 1979 as did the new mayor, our Pictou postmaster Ernie Jordan who took over from Clarence MacCarthy. We had an immediate problem. Our town clerk had accepted a job as town clerk with Bedford and his deputy clerk, Penny MacKenzie, did not want his job so we had to twist the arm of a very reluctant junior office clerk, David Steele to take it on. The only one with any previous town leadership experience was Dan Currie who had been deputy mayor under Clarence.
A former deputy mayor and a town lawyer (both now deceased) spotted our lack of council experience and called us all to a meeting where they offered a solution to the problem. We could bring the town issues in a pre-meeting with them each month where they would tell us how to vote and then we could pass the appropriate motions at the council meeting. Deputy Mayor Currie was scandalized by this undemocratic suggestion and called an immediate “No way!” Still, I learned later that some previous councils in Pictou had actually been run this way. They’d all meet with the business community at the Gentlemen’s Club in Pictou to make the decisions after which the mayor and councillors would march off to pass the motions as decided in an official Town Council meeting.
Well, our council didn’t operate that way. But we certainly were open to and encouraged our local town leaders like Jim Ferguson, Bruce Murray, Bob Naylor, Jock deCoste and others to share their advice with us which was at least always listened to and carefully considered. We were a “can do” council and together with our community leaders, our council took on a leadership role as we all began to rebuild our downtown.
Together, we all worked on Jock deCoste’s plan to transform our then rundown and avoided waterfront (then inhabited by ‘The Track Gang’, drunks and ruffians) into the superb tourist area it would become. Our council provided the town government leadership needed with these community leaders to develop the deCoste Centre; to establish the Ship Hector replica with its interpretive centre; to refurbish the old wharf behind the deCoste Centre and establish a downtown marina to attract visiting tourists to our area.
We also worked with them to establish the new Justice Centre, to reposition the RCMP building in that location and to fill in the area with restaurants and tourist kiosks.
When I look at the Town of Pictou or of any town, I see two separate but connected bodies. One is the formal town corporation, the body incorporated under provincial legislation which has a town building, staff and administration and which answers to a board of directors that we call our mayor and council. The other body is all the people and businesses that reside or operate within the town’s municipal boundaries.
I find that our present town councils are doing a pretty fair job at providing the required leadership to their body corporate. However, they seem to ignore or have forgotten their responsibility to provide that leadership in developing the larger municipality. So often at community meetings, I see folks scratching their heads and asking why there are no municipal councillors attending, taking an interest and offering their community leadership.
Is that their job and are they shirking their duties? I really don’t know. But I do know this. They are the people that their community has elected to be its leaders. They are the people that the community accepts as its leaders. So if they don’t do it, it won’t get done!
To Councillor Bob Naylor I say, do not give up on us if Pictou voters decide not to enter amalgamation. Instead, exercise your community leadership to establish a Pictou town development commission made up of community leaders young and old, to work with the council. Then, work with it in acting to take advantage of the many opportunities and local ideas of our youth to restart our town’s growth and development and to restore Pictou’s past vibrancy.
Ralph Ferguson, Pictou
No public meetings.
Senate (4pm Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Building) — again, the Senate agenda is posted in some mystery location on the Dal website because putting a link to it on the event listing page is apparently below the pay grade of everyone working in the Dal Communications Department. Let’s think about this for a moment… What’s the point of having a listing page if you’re not going to use it to, ya know, convey information? What’s the point of a Communications Department that doesn’t, ya know, communicate?
Anyway, some guy at the bar told me that the divestment report will be presented to the Senate today. And the guy at the bar — who seemed more informed and was definitely more communicative than the Dal Communications Department — said the report is recommending that an entire ethical investment policy be adopted, dealing not just with divestment from fossil fuels, but other issues as well, albeit the recommended first step is divestment from fossil fuels. The guy at the bar was of the opinion that the Senate would probably pass the resolution, and while it had no binding legal effect on the Board of Governors, it certainly ramps up the pressure on the BOG. As I reported a couple of weeks ago, Premier Stephen McNeill just loaded up the BOG with some oil industry execs, so it’s unlikely the BOG will adopt the recommendations, but this is a fight worth having.
Neutrinos (7pm, Ondaatje Hall) — Art B. McDonald, who was co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics and went to Dal as a student, will present on “How to Know a Neutrino from A Hole in the Ground.”
In the harbour
I’m all for holidays and days off work. We need more of them. But wouldn’t it make sense to coordinate the spring breaks for the school boards and the universities?