In the harbour
1. Muskrat Falls
“Nalcor Energy has confirmed that an industrial accident at the powerhouse at Muskrat Falls happened around midnight on Monday,” reports the CBC:
A source told CBC that workers had been pouring concrete into a form for hours and that the wet material collapsed, coating a couple of workers in concrete.
CBC News is following this story and will have more details as they become available.
2. Examineradio episode 63
This week we speak to restauranteur and mayoral candidate Lil MacPherson. With her business partner Chris Bower and a handful of other forward-looking chefs and restauranteurs, MacPherson brought the concept of local and sustainable fare to a new level in Halifax. MacPherson now wants to bring that ethos to a civic level.
Plus, Scott Ferguson is finally exiled to the cultural backwater that is lower Manhattan, Reg Rankin begins his farewell tour, and Sue Uteck announces that she’s prepared to challenge Waye Mason to take back her seat in District 7.
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(Subscribe via iTunes)
3. Pictou says no to amalgamation
In a plebiscite held Saturday, people in Pictou County have overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amalgamation of the towns of New Glasgow, Pictou and Stellarton with Pictou County, reports the New Glasgow News:
The plebiscite was one of the final steps in this process that started almost two years ago when New Glasgow, Pictou and the County announced they were signing a memorandum of understanding. Stellarton later joined the MOU and evidence was presented to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board in March. The NSURB said about six weeks later that the proposed amalgamation was in the best interest of Pictou County, but said that it wouldn’t give its final decision until after the plebiscite was complete. Trenton and Westville voted to not to be part of the MOU.
Brian White, chair of the Amalgamation No Thank You (ANTY) group, said he expects the one-sided results will compel the towns of Stellarton and Pictou and the County to withdraw their motion to unite.
4. Fall election
“Liberal MLAs and constituency associations without sitting members have been advised they need to have candidates nominated in all 51 constituencies by Labour Day,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC.
Although no one is committing to it, that directive appears to mean we’ll have a fall election.
5. John bust
Last fall, in a police sting dubbed “John Be Gone,” two female police officers posed as sex workers on downtown Sydney streets in order to lure prospective johns, and sure enough, 27 men were charged. Today, one of those men is challenging the charge in court. Parker Donham notes that:
[Lawyer TJ] McKeough argues the alleged crimes would not have occurred but for the actions of police.
Trials for the accused men became something of a moot point after CBRM Police Chief Peter McIsaac took it upon himself to release their names, and the Cape Breton Post published them. McIsaac underscored this act of public shaming for the men and their families with a series of comments about the evils of prostitution.
Lawyer McKeough will ask to have the charges against his client thrown out on grounds of abuse of process.
Many Sydney residents found the police behaviour repugnant, but entrapment is narrowly defined in Canada, so it should make for an interesting hearing.
Donham will be live-blogging today’s hearing via his Twitter account, @kempthead.
Sex work is legal in Canada, so the criminalization of “communication” strikes me as silly, but I’ll leave it for legal experts to debate the entrapment issues.
The bigger point, however, is that sting operations, whether targeted at sex workers or johns, are bad public policy.
Very often, these women and girls grew up in abusive households. “The attitude was children naturally suck on things,” one woman told me, as she went on to explain the horrific extent of familial sexual exploitation of two generations of girls. “We weren’t people; we were objects.”
I’ve learned of girls whose parents introduced them to drugs as a controlling mechanism in order to pimp them out. I’ve found girls who apparently never went to school at all.
The lives of these women and girls are unimaginable to most of us. Physical and sexual abuse are a constant. They don’t have the skills to navigate away from the streets. They don’t have the education, money, or connections to leave their world. Often, their families are a hindrance, not a help.
In Part Five of Dead Wrong, I’ll be detailing the lives of several teenage sex workers in Halifax. Readers will meet their pimps and their customers. We’ll learn of drug addiction, illiteracy, and hopelessness.
One thing I’ve learned is that broader society is of no help to them. We either neglect and ignore the marginalized women and girls doing sex work, or we consider them a nuisance. We seem not to care much when they are attacked and murdered.
We should be discussing issues of sex, class, education, and poverty, and how we can provide people on the margins of society the basic supports they need. But these issues run very deep and threaten too many sacred cows, so we avoid addressing them.
Instead of addressing poverty, we send female cops out to entrap the old man down the street, and we chuckle over the resulting titillating copy in the media. (I don’t blame CBC reporter Joan Weeks for it, but the CBC homepage link to her article on the Sydney busts is illustrated by a photo of a woman seen only from the crotch down.)
The women and girls are surviving, as best they can. And sex work is part of that survival strategy.
When we crack down on street prostitution, we’re pushing these women and girls even further to the margins, even more into the shadows. They’ll now meet potential clients in sketchier locations, away from the downtown street lights, away from passersby who might help a fleeing or injured woman, away from the support the sex workers can give each other on the stroll.
We need to have adult conversations about decriminalization and/or legalization of sex work, and how we would go about that to best protect sex workers. I certainly can’t provide the answers. I suggest we listen to the sex workers themselves, and we ask them how to proceed.
In the meanwhile, the Cape Breton crackdown on johns might’ve pleased a few business owners and fed the gossip mill, but it did nothing at all to help the women and girls who work the street. On the contrary, it put them in increased danger.
6. Teenager killed on Highway 7
At 9:45 p.m. yesterday, Sheet Harbour RCMP and EHS responded to a report of a collision on Highway 7.
Preliminary investigation determined that an eastbound sedan pulled out to pass another vehicle in a passing lane. There was an oncoming vehicle in that lane. As the driver attempted to switch lanes to avoid a collision, the sedan left the roadway.
The sole occupant of the vehicle, a 17 year-old man from Moser River, died at the scene as a result of his injuries.
1. Government advertising in newspapers
Newspapers have long gotten a public subsidy in the form of mandated advertising: when a city council holds a public hearing, it is required to post a notice of the hearing in the local paper; ditto for an entire range of government meetings, zoning changes, election dates, etc. For some papers, government advertising can account for a significant amount of total revenue.
But in recent years governments have shifted to buying cheaper advertising on the internet. This upsets people like Postmedia president Paul Godfrey, who recently demanded that the federal government give him back the lost revenue:
Godfrey pointed to federal statistics showing government advertising in newspapers was halved, while online advertising nearly doubled, between 2010 and 2015. The bulk of the money went to foreign-owned behemoths like Google and Facebook, which produce no original Canadian news content.
Although framed by a weak argument for “government accountability,” the Amherst News similarly wants to be compensated for printing news about emergency room closures:
There has been a steady flow of press releases coming from the Nova Scotia Health Authority advising of ER closures at All Saints and other local hospitals. The reason: physician shortages.
There’s no doubt the public has a right to be informed if no physician is available, but the underlining question is at who’s cost? The publicly funded provincial health authority relies on local media to advertise their message on an all too regular basis for free.
When the Nova Scotia Health Authority announced what it would cost to do business it tabled a $1.8 billion budget – $96.8 million of that in administration costs, $285 million for operation, $540 million for inpatient services, $336 million for therapeutic service, $112 million for acute care, and another $269 million for ambulatory care.
Nowhere in the budget was a single cent for advertising ER closures at rural hospitals.
This might be less ironic were newspapers not regularly simply re-writing government press releases, slapping a reporter’s byline on them, and calling it “news.”
It’s an interesting argument that the government should guarantee a business’s profit, but as the Halifax Examiner doesn’t take a penny of advertising from governments or anyone else, I’m not at all sympathetic.
Er, please subscribe.
2. Health costs of car-centered development
Just as I go to publish, Tristan Cleveland publishes a long essay on the health costs of car-centered development. I haven’t had time to read it. It might be good, it might suck. Let me know.
Districts 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee (4pm, City Hall) — the former St. Pat’s High School site is under consideration.
Motherhouse lands (7pm, Rosaria Student Centre, Mount St. Vincent University) — Southwest Properties is presenting its proposal to develop its portion of the 73-acre Motherhouse lands above the university:
Southwest Properties proposes a mixed-use subdivision development on 63.6 acres of the Motherhouse lands. This will include a road connection (Seton Road), between the Bedford Highway and Lacewood Drive, and new local streets. Proposed land uses include single detached dwellings, townhouses, and mixed-use residential and commercial buildings that range from 6 to 20 storeys in height. A total of 1,803 dwelling units, 6,400 square metres (68,890 square feet) of retail, and 600 square metres (6,458 square feet) of community centre space, and park areas are proposed.
Shannex intends to develop the remaining 10 acres of the Motherhouse lands. It proposes a Seniors Residence Complex with approximately 500 beds along with support staff, within buildings that would be a maximum of 10 storeys in height. Shannex currently owns an existing seniors facility building, the Caritas Residence, at this location, which has been in operation since 2008. The Shannex proposal is permitted under the existing zoning for the Motherhouse lands, but has been included as part of the review of the Municipal Planning Strategy policies and Land Use By-law regulations.
Here’s a history of the Motherhouse.
No public meetings.
All sorts of graduation ceremonies going on at Dal today.
In the harbour
6am: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
6am: Spiekerdoog, general cargo, arrives at Bedford Basin anchorage from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and will stay there for 30-45 days while it awaits instructions
8am: Veendam, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Boston with up to 1,350 passengers, some of them not barfing from a seaborne virus
11am: Progress Ace, car carrier, sails from Autoport to sea
11am: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Leixoes, Portugal
3pm: NYK Romulus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
3:30pm: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove to sea
5:45pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 to sea
Time TBD: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Nassau with up to 2,394 passengers
10am: Rio Blackwater, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
11am: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 42 to sea
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When I consider who is actually attempting to report on municipal issues and legal proceedings in my community, it is not usually the CBC, the Herald, or local commercial radio. Sure, these guys all swoop in to grab some footage when something big happens, but their intermittent approach to coverage is no substitute for long term engagement with community.
Our community has not sprouted anything quite like the Examiner in its scope either.
So it remains the task of the local weekly, owned by Transcontinental, to carry the weight. The Advertiser is far from perfect, but I will say that the editor seems to do her level best to spread her modest staff around and to cover the various council meetings and court proceedings. Rarely are these reporters undertaking any serious analysis of municipal affairs, but they are at least showing up and providing a basic account—which is a vital civic service.
This service to our community wins The Advertiser no great gratitude, particularly from municipal government. During the present mandate the embattled Warden and her allies on Kings County council made the suspicious decision to shift their advertising away from The Advertiser (a real, subscription-based print newspaper with a strong web presence) to The Valley Harvester (the puff and ads flyer wrapper that the Herald distributes here for free). Given the Warden’s open criticism of The Advertiser’s generally balanced coverage, it is hard not to see this as anything short of a brilliant plan to silence the last bit of semi-effective, persistent local media scrutiny that the Municipality faces. The Valley Harvester will report on a ribbon cutting, cribbing its copy from a press release, but it will not be there to question the countless small missteps and misdeed of the Warden and and her toadies, or the minor proceedings of the courts.
It bothers me to see our struggling local newspapers undercut, either by bullying politicians looking to dodge scrutiny by weakening the local media, or by cynical publishers like the C-H’s owners, those who divert advertising income away from more responsible media organizations (who are covering the meat and potatoes of municipal issues) and toward their own empty pseudo newspapers (which give the community fluffy content to prop up their ads).
So while I agree that traditional government advertising is not some sort of entitlement that is due to the mainstream print media as of right, I think its disappearance, and the consequences of its disappearance for the health of our communities, is a much more complicated issue than Tim’s discussion presently allows.
For all those enjoying their day, Scott Ferguson will collect a $104,000 provincial pension.
Re 5. John Bust
“Very often, these women and girls grew up in abusive households.”
– and –
“We should be discussing issues of sex, class, education, and poverty, and how we can provide people on the margins of society the basic supports they need. But these issues run very deep and threaten too many sacred cows, so we avoid addressing them.”
Above two excerpts perfectly, powerfully, succinctly identify the toxic tentacles that encircle and suffocate genuine confrontation of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Yes, “too many sacred cows” are indeed threatened. And there are many variations of “abusive households.”
Without intending to insult subject complexity, having been raised in Cape Breton by minimally educated parents who bowed to suffocating societal mores, I would offer the following as contributing factors:
(1) Society’s reverence, indeed near-glorification of parental knowledge, authority and independence condemn children to an isolation vacuum in their most formative years. Some will say “no more” to that, but access to online, uncensored media costs money, and when have you last known generally accessible media to write graphically and fully on sexual abuse and exploitation, even children’s rights? By the time kids have been inculcated and conditioned, they’re generally not seeking out alternative views; that is, if and when they could find them in the language to which they’ve become accustomed.
(2) Religion, with its cultural impact on sexuality, has long relegated it to the “forbidden,” a subject of whispers, except to acknowledge and approve its necessity for procreation, and limit it to religion’s concept of male-female marriage. Those who rejected suffocating dictates were, nevertheless, directly affected by them, stigmatized with sweeping condemnation such as “living in sin” and “shacked up.” Thus developed “sexual sinners” and ” all others.” Pimps and prostitutes were in the former group, and now Sydney police extend the shame-and-stigma tentacle to reach out and encircle johns as their hold on the concept of prostitution has eroded, even been de facto struck down by the Supreme Court. It’s a desperate attempt to extend stigma to a group who’ve been traditionally excused via patriarchy and male privilege. I don’t have sympathy for them; they’re just the last gasp of those who would confer scarlet letters.
(3) Institutions, including public school education, have an eroding death-grip on Maritime culture, and they will not surrender it willingly, nor without leaving scorched earth. Indeed, our collective PISA scores indicate academic pedagogy and curricula have not even kept pace.
(4) Please do a graphic exposé,Tim, on this subject, detailing contributing factors and continua that result in the sad lives of these women, often very young girls whose potential and spirits were snuffed out long before they had a chance to develop normally, richly, and with rightful independent will.
If the newspaper was concerned about giving out free information about emergency rooms that should rightly be ads, it could have refrained from printing anything about it. Nobody is forcing them to reprint press releases. I’m assuming that when they do write such stories, they find a public interest angle to it beyond the blah blah blah spin of a press release. Obviously nobody is going to pay to advertise something that they know will be published for free.
As for the National Post, it is rich to hear them whining given their usual editorial position about the evils of government money bailing out freeloading businesses. I happen to agree that public money should go to hospitals and schools etc, and not to save failing businesses or to provide inefficient businesses with subsidies instead of having them go and borrow the money at a bank or from venture capitalists. That’s the way free enterprise is supposed to work — you get to keep the profit because you did the work and you took the financial risks. I’m tired of risk being made public while the profits remain private. I suggest the National Post follow its own advice and stop trying to be mooching freeloaders. Or maybe they can start a Patreon campaign….
Godfrey was making the point that all Canadian newspapers are under threat of closure from the drastic decline in print advertising and that diversity of opinion is a mainstay of our democracy. Many more newspapers will be closing over the next few years and he believes that newspapers are a necessity.
Have you noticed the decline in news coverage in all media in Nova Scotia ? If one outlet breaks a story it is now quite common for other media to ignore the item because it supposedly has already been covered.
The media is it’s own worst enemy, these people have no vision. They are dinosaurs, and will die.