1. Ships.Start.Costing a lot of money

Irving Shipyard. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The federal government’s multibillion-dollar effort to replace the navy’s warship fleet could cost taxpayers 2.4 times more than first expected, Ottawa’s budget watchdog warned Thursday in a new report,” reports Andy Blatchford for the Canadian Press:

And the longer a process tripped up by delays drags out, the more it’s going to hurt the public piggy bank, the analysis found.

The parliamentary budget officer estimates Ottawa will have to spend nearly $61.8 billion to replace 15 ships — more than twice the original 2008 budget of about $26.2 billion.

Looking at a per-ship price tag, the cost is likely closer to $4.1 billion, rather than the $1.7-billion estimate released in 2008 by the then-Conservative government.

At that higher rate, the office believes the government would only have enough cash to buy six ships, if it still expects to keep the program on budget.

Of course, local warship construction enthusiasts will no doubt break out their super-sharpened economic impact calculating pencils and show that cost overruns are a good thing for the local economy.

Take, for instance, the Conference Board of Canada’s economic impact report on the shipbuilding contract, which notes that “increased demand for the products and services of a specific industry [i.e., shipbuilding] will not only have direct impacts on the economy but will also spread through the economy through a series of multiplier effects.”

Multiplier effects, eh? This nifty table illustrates the total impact:

Therefore, $26.2 billion in procurement would have translated into a $20.9 billion increase in Nova Scotia’s GDP. But with cost overruns bringing the total price of the contract up to $61.8 billion, the increase in GDP zooms all the way up to $49.4 billion! And we thought the original shipbuilding deal was going to make us all rich — now we’ll be walking on streets paved with gold!

Cost overruns for shipbuilding are like when a hurricane slams into the Florida coast and kills a gazillion people, or when an earthquake destroys Vancouver — they’re good for the economy because a bunch of people have to be employed to respond to the catastrophe.

(I regret having to explain this to the snark-impaired, but I’m merely pointing out the utter ridiculousness of economic impact reports.)

2. Why it doesn’t matter which party you vote for

Linda Pannozzo.

Yesterday, we published an excerpt from Linda Pannozzo’s latest book, About Canada: The Environment. In the passage, Pannozzo works through how neoliberalism took hold in Canada:

Neoliberalism was touted as the “bitter pill” and people obediently swallowed. Even though a hands-off approach to economics was detrimental to the interests of ordinary people, governments of all stripes advanced these policies and continued to get re-elected. Persuasion and coercion were so successful that today there is no longer any debate about neoliberal assumptions — it is economic orthodoxy believed by the public, the mainstream media, and political parties of all stripes.

3. Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly. Photo: Tim Bousquet

“City of Charlottetown Mayor and Council are pleased to announce that Mr. Peter Kelly has been hired permanently as the City’s Chief Administrative Officer,” the city announced in a press release issued yesterday:

Mr. Kelly was appointed on May 1, 2016 on a probationary period, which has now been lifted. Members of Council completed individual performance evaluations of Mr. Kelly and collectively decided to make him a permanent employee effective May 24, 2017.

Kelly is the former Halifax mayor who declined to run for reelection after the concert scandal and after I revealed that he had removed over $160,000 from a dead woman’s bank account without authority.

The Charlottetown release notes that “Council did indicate in the offer to Mr. Kelly that should he be convicted of being in violation of any law, his employment status would be reviewed.”

That line is a cryptic reference to the province of Alberta’s ongoing review of Westlock County, where Kelly had served as CAO. As I wrote last August, the review is related to alleged malfeasance on Kelly’s part:

Peter Kelly is personally liable for $194,000 in costs incurred by Westlock County, Alberta, but it would be difficult to get a court judgment against him.

That’s the opinion of Kelsey L. Becker Brookes, a lawyer with Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer, a firm retained by Westlock County.

Kelly, the disgraced former mayor of Halifax, was hired as CAO of Westlock County in August 2014 and worked through February 2016. He has since been hired as the CAO of Charlottetown.

As I’ve detailed previously, in Westlock, Kelly oversaw the “Horizon North” project at the Westlock Industrial Park that ended up costing the county nearly $400,000, of which the county wrote off over $200,000. Sue Oberg, the Assistant CAO and CFO of Westlock County, has publicly said Kelly overstepped his authority.

The Westlock County review is due to be finalized “mid-summer,” but I guess the C-town council couldn’t wait.

Dude can’t help himself. There will be a Charlottetown scandal involving Kelly soon enough.

4. Those Other McNeils

Yesterday, I mentioned that Robin McNeil, brother of Premier Stephen McNeil, has been named Deputy Chief of the Halifax Regional Police Department, a position another McNeil brother, Chris McNeil, held before he retired after allegedly lying under oath to protect a fourth brother and another cop, Anthony McNeil.

Here’s a scorecard for the Other McNeils at the Halifax PD:

Chris McNeil: former Deputy Chief at the Halifax PD who retired after allegedly lying to the police review board, and brother of Stephen McNeil, Robin McNeil, and Anthony McNeil.
Robin McNeil: newly named as the Deputy Chief at the Halifax PD and brother of Stephen McNeil, Chris McNeil, and Anthony McNeil.
Jason McNeil: sergeant at the Halifax PD and Chris McNeil’s son.
Anthony McNeil: sergeant at the Halifax PD and brother of Stephen McNeil, Chris McNeil, and Robin McNeil.
Joanne McNeil: sergeant at the Halifax PD and spouse of Anthony McNeil.

Looks like the Halifax PD is a family business.

This feels like a really crappy 1970s cop shop sitcom, where the recurring gag has someone running into the squad room yelling “Sergeant McNeil!” and hilarity ensues. Also: antics. Don’t forget the antics.

Or we could discuss, you know, nepotism. The Deputy Chief of Police will inevitably have to make management and personnel decisions that involve his brother, his sister-in-law, and his nephew. That can’t possibly end well.

Oh, there’s another McNeil brother who is a cop:

Burt McNeil

Burt McNeil: Police Chief in Annapolis Royale and brother of Stephen McNeil, Chris McNeil, Robin McNeil, and Anthony McNeil.

5. Puppies, rainbows, and insulting your constituency

Stephen McNeil and Joanne Bernard. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Former Nova Scotia community services minister and Liberal MLA for Dartmouth North, Joanne Bernard, is blaming her election defeat Tuesday, in part, on what she calls ‘false hope’ offered by the NDP,” reports Elizabeth Chiu for the CBC:

“When NDP candidates are at the door, they’re talking to people who may be struggling — the promise of puppies and rainbows resonates,” Bernard said in an interview with CBC after packing up her constituency office on Thursday.

Bernard was referring to the NDP’s promise of a $15 an hour minimum wage among its social policy pledges to help pull people out of poverty.

Those unrealistic poor people thinking they should be able to work their way out of poverty.

6. Hotel Watch

Photo: Halifax Examiner

In case anyone is interested, we’re now seven months away from the supposed opening of the Nova Centre… and still no hotel operator has been announced. I’m not in the hotel biz, but I would expect it’d take pretty close to seven months to brand a hotel, furnish the rooms, train the staff, and so forth. But again, what do I know?


No public meetings.

On campus

No events.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:15am Friday. Map:

5am: YM Movement, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
10am: UACC Manama, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Terneuzen, Netherlands
1pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
3pm: Budapest Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Fos Sur Mer, France
3:30pm Manon, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
8pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s


Examineradio will be published this afternoon.

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

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  1. Just a comment about the low voter turn-out: I do not place any blame for the election result on those who did not vote. When a premier can decide when he or she goes to the polls, knowing what polling tells them, then it is easy to understand why people see voting as futile. Actually, although I did vote , it is some of those who did not vote and acted on what they knew (unlike me) that have impressed me.

    You see, it is among the non-voting group that there is a recognition of the limits to voting in a thirty day campaign preceded by a road-show replete with a bevy of promised spending. In the frenzy of trying to outdo each other, all parties got wrapped up in that messaging-type and the only other message delivered by the media was what the polls were telling the voters. The non-voters saw all of this and they sum totalled it to a bottom line- Why bother!

    Score a victory to no fixed elections and the fine calculation of tacticians. Yeah, they,like the non-voters had it figured out; congrats to them!

  2. “Just opting out, not voting, is surrender; …”

    Dead right.

    Such as it is, this is collectively our province. It’s not owned by the governing party du jour.

    In the end we reap the benefits and we pay the costs of their manage our collective assets in our best interests. That’s why we tolerate government. It’s up to all of us to make sure that we are not hijacked by a self serving politicians of any stripe.

    Watch them closely and never turn your back to them. They need to believe – really believe – we are not all easily duped morons we have very long memories and we are rather unforgiving of the inept and dishonest.

    Most importantly we need them to believe we really will vote them out of office if they give us cause.

    1. Totally with you. We citizens must be vigilant and not depend solely on journalists to inform us. And we must speak up – via social media or in publications like this – not wait until issues reach a crisis point and our voices are lost amid those more powerful, more influential. As you so profoundly say, it’s OUR province; it’s not owned by any governing party.

  3. Re: Nova Centre – I have heard one suggestion for the hotel space. Fill it with hospital beds and brand it the VG.

  4. Authoritarianism is now in vogue. Collective caring is bullshit of “leftie snowflakes.” Some families like the McNeils manifest it in their genetics and collective choice of policing/enforcement profession. And then we have Joanne Bernard throwing shade on those who aspire to $15.00 an hour. She [formerly] of $138,280.00 yearly salary plus perks.

    There are choices in life, and they begin early. Many are between good, less and least. Even choosing “good” can result in a creatively, disgustingly-described “shit sandwich,” but most of us decide to at least engage, to participate, to make a choice and try to impact change within the system if we’re so inclined. Yes, it’s daunting, difficult and frustrating – maybe even ineffective. We’ve a despised, incompetent, corrupt and powerful political system, but we know – or can learn – its tentacles, the veins from which it draws power. But many of us are unwilling to get in and cope with the dirty tricks, the manipulation, the ignorance which are endemic in an attempt to change the trajectory. And many of us would be unwelcome, especially known activists. No one promised us puppies and rainbows.

    All this is to say we do have choice and avenues through which we can attempt to influence change. Just opting out, not voting, is surrender; one of two messages: “I just don’t give a damn or I don’t like any of you so I’m not playing.” And the parties laugh, celebrate, and say,”Thank you for your service, non-voters. We’re now more assured of power through our cult-like followers. They’ll vote.” Does anyone think Joanne Bernard is happy to be out of government? She was an insensitive, cruel, authoritarian cabinet minister. Her turfing alone makes the case for voting.

  5. I does not make much difference what one builds, it costs what it costs to build a quality product that will actually do the job in the way it was first intended. In the end the really important calculation to get right is the true number of military vessels one needs to build in order to meet the operational role they will eventually be called upon to fill. Every year new technologies surpass existing equipment’s capabilities and the cost never goes down; so one might as well live with the expectation that today’s cost estimates will never accurately reflect the final end costs to build an military item. Politicians that delay making decisions are the bane of military resource purchases. I suppose the same could be said of those who delay building new hospitals and schools until a crisis is seen looming. Except for hospitals and schools there are often work-arounds that can get one by to a certain extent. But when a military crisis occurs, there is no work-around if the right military resources are not available… at that time one better hope your neighbour has got your back… you better hope that your neighbour is not the origin of the crisis.

  6. Are you fucking kidding me about the McNeil’s? I suggest that as a community we show our feelings about this situation in a respectful way. Every time we see our have an encounter with a member of the HPD, we refer to them as “Officer McNeil”. Every single one, Officer McNeil.

    I’m doin’ it.

  7. If a candidate showed up at my door and touted the party line of austerity & hardball with the unions & that whole “pay now, play later” BS we’ve heard for years… And then another candidate offered a bigger minimum wage, I know who I’d vote for!

    As far as the ships go, of course they’re more expensive now. The original budget was almost a decade ago. The real question is how much are the Irving’s going to fleece us for this time?

  8. Considering our GDP is a measly $40B now, I am glad the shipbuilding will more than double it.