In the harbour
1. Channelling Kimberly McAndrew
Yesterday, we published another instalment of the DEAD WRONG series. DEAD WRONG, Part 4: Channelling Kimberly McAndrew reveals that the Halifax police department hired a psychic to help solve the mystery of Kimberly McAndrew’s disappearance. The article includes, in full, recordings of three psychic sessions between police investigator Dave MacDonald and psychic Noreen Renier.
Hiring a psychic may seem an odd but essentially harmless investigative technique, but Part 4 shows how it may have in part led to the wrongful conviction of Glen Assoun for the murder of Brenda Way.
The DEAD WRONG series is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
2. Examineradio, episode #48
On this week’s episode we speak with striking Chronicle Herald reporter Michael Gorman. When not walking a picket line, Gorman stalks the halls of the Nova Scotia Legislature. We talk about the state of the union at the CH, as well as a recent piece he wrote for the Halifax Examiner on Irving’s unpaid temporary workforce. Gorman is also a regular contributor to Local Xpress, an online news site developed by the aforementioned striking reporters and editors.
Plus, Dalhousie University is getting ready to raise tuition significantly across all faculties, including an almost 20 per cent spike in the Faculty of Agriculture. Finally, someone’s sticking it to those fatcat farmers.
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(Subscribe via iTunes)
3. Tuition and the arts
On the above-mentioned episode of Examineradio, I pointed out that increasing tuition will necessarily result in fewer students enrolling in the arts and humanities because when students consider their future debt loads, they’ll want to end up in higher paying professions.
“I predict that those [humanities] programs will shrink and pretty much disappear,” I said, and today, CBC reporter Elizabeth McMillan puts some numbers to that exact phenomena:
The number of full-time undergraduates majoring in humanities is down 45 per cent over the past decade. When those numbers are combined with general arts students — people who haven’t declared their arts major yet — it’s a 39 per cent decrease across the region according to data provided by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission.
The humanities, including literature, languages, history and philosophy, were once central to many universities.
The declining number of students taking some arts and humanities courses is changing how they are offered and how universities market their arts departments.
On some campuses, faculties have merged. History and classics are now blended at Acadia University. Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax has dropped linguistics and German courses.
At Cape Breton University, where there are half as many general arts and humanities students as there used to be, the numbers of classes offered for individual courses has been dropping steadily.
Dale Keefe, the university’s vice president academic, said if enrolment continues shrinking, some departments will cease to exist.
“We still offer the same programs we have for the last 10 years, it’s just that those programs are getting smaller and smaller every year,” he said.
We’re becoming a meaner, nastier society, and part of that is the shift in the role of the university from the intellectual centre of society to a mere job training facility.
The reason universities once required a broad education in the humanities is because we need people — especially our smartest and most talented — to study and produce in the arts and humanities. It makes our society more self-reflective and wiser.
Moreover, when only the already-wealthy can afford to enter the arts and humanities, what gets studied and how it gets studied will increasingly reflect the class interests, or at least the class perceptions, of the wealthy.
Nova Scotia has a rich intellectual and artistic culture, but as our government chases a phantom neoliberal ideal of prosperity, we’re in danger of losing what holds real value.
“It’s as easy to believe [Jian] Ghomeshi will be acquitted as found guilty,” writes Stephen Kimber:
But what happens in court almost doesn’t matter. The complainants have rightly become social media heroes for having stood up, and for starting an important discussion. Ghomeshi has long since lost what matters most deeply to him. His reputation is shot, his career in tatters.
Justice has been served.
2. Hacks run amok
“The NDP is caught up in something of an existential crisis both provincially and federally,” writes Scott Gillard. “Federally having been outflanked on the left by the Trudeau Liberals and provincially still not recovered from the historic and devastating 2013 defeat.”
Gillard goes on to discuss those he dubs “party hacks,” and how they have hobbled the party:
It’s a fear of being themselves, being New Democrats, that drives that thinking. That’s why Mulcair stuck to his balanced budget stance. That was arguably the beginning of the end of that campaign, it’s where the NDP chose to stand with Harper austerity instead of the change mantra on their posters. People don’t want New Democrats, right?
There’s a movement emerging in the NDP, across the pond, and even in America thanks to Bernie Sanders. This is how Gary Burrill came to call the second group New Chapterists. It’s a movement that no longer feels mediocrity is the path to change nor victory. Socialism, the system that values equality and equity, is re-emerging as the reality of a 1%/99% divide continues to take hold.
We’ve opened a new chapter. A chapter that shows an electorate fed up with income inequality, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. This new crew: Sanders, Corbyn, Burrill, Zann … they think you can speak from, campaign from, and win from the left.
I agree with Gillard’s analysis. But readers should know that while Gillard is a strong union supporter, a long-time NDP activist, and contributes financially to NDP election campaigns, additionally Gillard works with Liberal MLA Joachim Stroink — specifically, Stroink hires Gillard’s company, Boom 12 Communications, for website support and communications. In November, for example, Boom 12 was paid $2,830.62 for work on Stroink’s website and $816.82 for producing the MLA’s Fall Newsletter.
I don’t think working for Stroink disqualifies Gillard from commenting on internal NDP matters, but I do think readers should be fully aware of the potential conflict.
From South Coast Today:
4. Welcome to NOVAPORTE!
Big news, fellow citizens of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality – no, Rodney MacDonald has not been re-elected premier, although you could be forgiven for thinking that, given the front page of today’s Cape Breton Post (February 11, 2016):
The real news is tucked into the lower left hand corner of page A3 – our port has a name!
It’s Novaporte. And it will be surrounded by the Novazone.
I’ll let port marketer and amateur etymologist Albert Barbusci, of Harbor Port Development Partners, explain:
“The name reflects the international nature of our project. Nova is Latin for new and port is spelled with an E to recognize that this will be both a gateway and a transshipment hub.”
Now, I will be the first to admit that the use of Latin has been in decline of late (and by “of late” I mean, since the fall of the Roman Empire) but everyone in this province knows at least one Latin word and that Latin word is Nova because IT’S IN THE NAME OF OUR PROVINCE.
As for “port-with-an-e,” while I appreciate the subtle homage to Anne of Green Gables, I’m not sure I would read “Novaporte” and say, “Ah, this place must be both a gateway and a transshipment hub.” I think I’d be more likely to say, “You spelled ‘port’ wrong”…
And I haven’t even got to “Novazone” which, let’s be honest, sounds like a nasal spray.
Back to the Post story:
“The port has set aside nearly 2,000 acres for development of this project. The harbour is dredged down 16.5 metres and can accommodate ultra-large container vessels.
“Canadian developer Canderel is partnering with Harbor Port Development on the project.”
I can see you waving your hand wildly – you have a question, don’t you? In fact, you probably have three questions:
1. Who is Canderel?
Well, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s this Canderel (“The UK’s No. 1 Sweetener”).
Presumably, they are this Canderel , a real estate firm:
“Specializing in Property Development, Construction, Leasing, Marketing, and Property and Asset Management we are able to provide “one-stop” comprehensive solutions. With regional offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Dallas, we are able to fully respond to any opportunity within these markets and we have the capability of serving our clients and partners on a national basis.”
“Naming ports” isn’t listed among their core competencies, but perhaps they’re branching out.
2. How much are they being paid?
3. Who is paying them?
These are questions for HPDP, or possibly, the Port of Sydney Development Corporation, which has already paid for the services of Bechtel and Industream.
Let’s keep waving our hands until we get some answers…
5. Economic development strategy for Cape Breton
Speaking of Cape Breton, Parker Donham points us to cbiftrumpwins.com, which purports to appeal to disaffected Americans wanting to flee the US should Donald Trump get elected president. The site is overtly political:
Don’t wait until Donald Trump is elected president to find somewhere else to live! Start now, that way, on election day, you just hop on a bus to start your new life in Cape Breton, where women can get abortions, Muslim people can roam freely, and the only ‘walls’ are holding up the roofs of our extremely affordable houses.
But who’s behind the site? Under the “contact” link, the site tells us that:
We have a dedicated team of volunteers ready to help you take the first steps to your new life in Cape Breton. Go ahead, make the best decision of your life!
Which doesn’t tell us who’s behind the site. A WhoIs search doesn’t help — the site is anonymously registered through Tucows, a Toronto-based domain portal.
So, I started reading the site, wondering Who put this thing out? and I came upon this:
How much would it cost for a three bedroom lakeside home in your state? About a jillion dollars? You would need to BE Donald Trump to afford a place like that. But in Cape Breton, we have the most affordable housing market in North America!
Aha! Probably a real estate firm, I thought. Nothing wrong with that, capitalism and so forth. But then I hit the “Find out more” button at the very bottom of the page and it brought me to cbisland.com, which is published by Destination Cape Breton.
And then I did a WhoIs search on cbisland.com, and get this result:
Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation is defunct, and all its operations transferred to ACOA. Like ECBC before it, ACOA is an arm of the federal government. Ken Martell is the Client Services Analyst in the Chief Information Officer Directorate of ACOA.
I don’t know what to think of this — sure, it’s a just a joke to bring attention to Cape Breton Island, but should an appeal, even a jocular appeal, to Americans wanting flee a Donald Trump presidency be funded by the Canadian government? What if a similar appeal had been made about Obama? Or about Bernie Sanders?
Also, too, why is ACOA using a US domain hosting service (Network Solutions, based in Virginia)?
6. Cranky letter of the day
Have I got a deal for you!
Author John Tattrie’s recent excellent article in a Halifax newspaper on the Cornwallis statue is full of wisdom. I’m in complete agreement that Cornwallis ought to be elsewhere – the question is: Where?
Down here in North Carolina where it’s a beautiful day, we have a similar problem. On the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a statue of a confederate soldier, nicknamed “Silent Sam,” who is supposed to honour the 400 or so alumni who served for the south in the Civil War. Silent Sam is “silent” ostensibly because he is not wearing a cartridge belt, meaning that his gun would be useless. This is probably just a story made up by apologists.
The Civil War hasn’t really ended here. Sam is a reminder that though slavery is over, and Jim Crow has mostly passed into the history books, it’s months, months!, since anyone shot up a black congregation, and the consequences of the War on Drugs are with us today.
And it continues: restrictions on voting, poverty, environmental racism, poor schools – the ruling classes are always experimenting. No wonder Sam is resented by the exploited and admired by victors. There’s lots to the story.
But here’s the interesting part: Sam was sculpted by a Nova Scotian. From New Glasgow, John A. Wilson (1877-1954) graduated from high school in Nova Scotia and made his way to Boston, where he attended the school of the Museum of Fine Arts and ended up at Harvard for 32 years, teaching modelling at the School of Architecture.
Wilson sculpted a number of Civil War memorials and is remembered at Harvard for his skill at pinochle and for a bust of George Archambeau, janitor at the Fogg Art Museum.
Wilson retired from Harvard in 1949 and returned to Pictou County, where he died in 1954.
And it’s months, months! since anything bad happened to aboriginal Canadians. Well, if you don’t count that Saskatchewan thing. The coincidences don’t end there. Edward Cornwallis (you would be forgiven for forgetting) was the brother of Charles, the British General who surrendered to Washington and Lafayette at Yorktown. And not just a brother, but a twin brother. And not just a twin brother, but the younger twin brother. In a country where primogeniture is everything, imagine the resentment of being born 30 seconds late. Charles was fresh off a battle in North Carolina (Guilford, in the next county over), which he won by killing his own troops with grapeshot.
So how about a trade? You take the loser from the Civil War, and we’ll take the loser from the Revolution. OK, his twin brother, if you want to get technical. Instead of monuments to genocide and slavery, we each get a monument to the folly of war and the limitations of statues. The premier and the governor can work out the details…
Gus Reed, Halifax, wintering in Pittsboro, NC
City council (10am, City Hall) — the meeting starts with more budget deliberations. I’ll arrive by 1pm for an appeal hearing on the proposed Margaretta development on Dresden Row. I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.
No public meetings.
Northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone (11:45am, Room 3655, Life Sciences Centre) — Arnaud Laurent will speak on “Modeling biogeochemical processes in the northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone.” The abstract:
Excess nutrient loading from the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River system promotes high primary production that results in the seasonal development of hypoxic bottom waters on the Louisiana Shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with detrimental effects on benthic fauna and the local fisheries. Concurrently, high dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations associated with algal decomposition acidifies the bottom waters. In the future, higher atmospheric CO2 and hydrological and land-use changes in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin may further compound this eutrophication-induced acidification on the Louisiana Shelf. Although primarily driven by excess nitrogen loading, hypoxia and acidification are regulated by complex interactions between physical and biological processes. Biogeochemical circulation models are important tools to tease out their controlling physical/biological processes and improve our understanding of hypoxic environments. Model investigations can also inform managers on optimum nutrient management strategies and on the future state of the system. We conducted a series of modeling projects with a biogeochemical circulation model of the northern Gulf of Mexico that investigate the effects of phosphorus limitation and nutrient load scenarios on hypoxia. We also explored how to realistically parameterize sediment-water fluxes in the context of hypoxia, and studied current and future eutrophication-induced acidification associated with hypoxia. The results of the individual projects are synthesized in this presentation.
Losing Ground (5pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — A screening of the 1986 film by director Kathleen Collins. IMBd says:
A comedy-drama about a Black American female philosophy professor and her insensitive, philandering, and flamboyant artist husband who are having a marital crisis. When the wife goes off on an almost unbelievable journey to find “ecstasy”, her husband is forced to see her in a different light.
In the harbour
The next instalment of DEAD WRONG — Part 5 — will be published in two weeks. I still have some reporting to do on it, and a tremendous amount of reading related to it, so an extra week will be useful. As of now, I think DEAD WRONG will end at Part 6, but this thing started as a two-week research project that would result in a single 3,000-word article, then morphed into four 10,000-word articles, then to six… so who knows?
It should be Ted Cruz that Canadians are hammering to the wall. He also proposed a wall… on the northern border.
Why – we might WANT a wall on our southern border if a republican wins! Let them build it – I’m all for it.
re: Scott Gillard’s political affiliation
I think that if we’re being fair about disclosing his political connections it is worth noting that he is a current (and long time NDP member), worked as the CA for left-wing NDP MLA Howard Epstein, did contract design work for at least one of the candidates for the NDP leadership, has worked and volunteered on numerous NDP general election campaigns and was out knocking on doors for Marian Mancini in the Dartmouth by-election. The “he has Liberal affiliations!” attacks are mostly coming from those with an interest in defending the status quo within the NDP party and caucus staff.
It is funny to see how often Scott gets attacked online for being an ex-NDP staffer and current member/party activist when he is criticizing the Liberals only to see him now get attacked for being a Liberal contractor when he is critical of the centre-right within the NDP.
Also re: the use of party mailing lists
No one has been able to explain to me how a *caucus* staffer was able to instantly access a *party* membership database without violating rules. In practice I know that there is no real separation between caucus and party staff but in terms of rules the firewall between those two offices means that the caucus staffer should probably not have had access to that information.
There is no doubt that the decline in Arts faculties across the region is part of a larger trend. I have been privy to countless analyses of this at Saint Mary’s University. The reasons are multifaceted. The “best” students are told to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) or to learn a useful skill like accounting in Faculties of Commerce. This message comes from their teachers, parents and peers. Recruitment offices (which I think need to be viewed with health scepticism) put greater emphasis on Commerce and Science faculties. There is a pervasive culture of skill-based education and this, coupled with the cost of university education, streams students away from the humanities and social sciences (but especially the former). And the narrative of decline in arts-based programs goes on and further reinforces the dominant view. But there are other measures: faculty members and students continue to garner awards, produce stunning work, and make a huge contribution to our communities. The liberal arts find ways to interject different ways of knowing and understanding into important policy questions. And that is why they need to be maintained, nurtured and developed.
That’s a fair point, but think about what the realistic options are for the future employment of said liberal arts graduates:
1) They go to work in fields where a liberal arts degree is not really necessary, which in the past worked fine because tuition was relatively cheap, so any student loans could be paid off in a reasonable amount of time. I know 30 year olds with 6 figures of debt from Acadia who work in retail. They will be in debt for the rest of their lives.
2) They secure an important and highly paid position where an advanced understanding of the arts and humanities is necessary and beneficial. This is great, but how many places does society actually have for such people?
3) They go into academia and stay there. In the past, before the colossal growth of university education, this was normal. There was a lot less money involved. No football teams, no highly paid administrators and sports coaches. This is what university was before it became a job training centre and what it will have to be in order to stay relevant.
4) We artificially create highly paid jobs for people with humanities degrees so that they can pay off their student loans and the Huskies can build a new football stadium, and we can have progress and economic growth forever, amen.
Unfortunately, most people who actually expect to support themselves feel the need to get an education or vocational training that will allow them to earn a reasonable living. So, in my mind there are 3 categories that can capture the majority of humanities students: Idealists who are really passionate about their studies, people who believe its a valid pathway to a good job, and the children of the wealthy, who are guaranteed a good job.
It seems like the problem is money in the humanities, not a lack of money. Just funnelling more money into it to produce more English majors who need decently-paid jobs to pay off their loans and have an OK lifestyle is not productive.
About point #2: the ability to read advanced documents, form opinions, and then express those opinions using a professional level of writing is probably something that can carry over really well into other fields. The problem seems to be the aforementioned narrative that the only programs that produce people with workplace skills are STEM and commerce.
Er, yes, but positions requiring advanced reading comprehension and excellent writing skills are somewhat rare.
Actually, I would say now even STEM is becoming irrelevant, unless you want to be able to get a P.Eng you can learn far more on your own in 4 years for less than $40,000 than you can taking computer science or whatever.
Turning universities into vocational schools was a terrible idea and I’m glad to see it ending, even though lots more people are going to end up in debt before the system crashes and university enrolment levels and the availability of student loans revert to an appropriate level.
As for tuition and the arts, I wrote a comment here last April about Moira Donovan’s article on the Dalhousie budget:
“The most unsettling trend is the redistribution of funding based on enrollment (ERBA), where programs for international students get an additional $400,000 and undergraduate Arts & Social Science programs lose $501,000. My guess is that Arts is a popular choice, and it really isn’t in taxpayer interest to have their subsidy directed away from programs that serve them best. It might be good for faculty salaries, but who gets the educational benefit?
A local student who’s doing an undergraduate degree as the ticket to a good job needs general skills like reading, writing and math, but not necessarily specific skills that come through a commerce or science degree. Employers like an educated workforce, and they like to provide specific skills training. An Arts degree is no liability. ERBA may benefit salaries, but the educational benefit is doubtful.”
I’ll stand by my assertion that the death spiral of the humanities is a direct result of shortsighted efforts by faculty, propping up their failures by stealing money from consequential fields of study and sending it to China. Students might be interested in the humanities if the faculty was.
“But what happens in court almost doesn’t matter. The complainants have rightly become social media heroes for having stood up, and for starting an important discussion. Ghomeshi has long since lost what matters most deeply to him. His reputation is shot, his career in tatters.
Justice has been served.”
That’s what we’re calling ‘justice’ now?
Jian has not denied the accusations. Justice was on full display in his trial.
Not a lawyer but by pleading not guilty I suspect we could and should call it a denial. Not sure how you think Justice was on display. Prosecution laid out the accusations dressed with evidence from the witnesses. Defence appeared (in the media) to punch the living tar out of the witnesses who happen to be the accusers/victims. Thankfully a judge gets to weigh it all out because if we relied on pundits, internet opinion makers, and mainstream media you might as well punt justice down field.
According to The Huffington Post, that “Cape Breton if..” site was created by a local radio DJ in Sydney.
“The site was created by DJ Rob Calabrese, who works at 101.9 The Giant in Sydney, N.S.
Calabrese said it’s just a personal project he created in anticipation of a mass American exodus.”
He only linked to the Destination Cape Breton site and they have no affiliation with his site. It would be nice if that were mentioned on the “Cape Breton if…” site.