Give us all your money!
Or, you know, ten bucks a month.
I’m no good at this “beg for subscriptions” thing, but I think I’m supposed to tell you that this is about the cost of a latte a week. Or about 33 cents a day — 32 cents on the long months; we’re really sticking it to you in February, however, when it goes up to almost 36 cents a day.
And now I’m supposed to guilt you into subscribing by saying that people who do subscribe are paying the way for freeloaders.
Really, though, I don’t want to insult readers or potential subscribers. Subscribe or not, for your own reasons. It’s all good to me. I know I have friends who aren’t subscribers, and people who don’t like me at all who are. But I don’t check the names on the subscription roll because I don’t want it to interfere with my personal relationships or how I interact with people. I’m not going to think better or worse of you based on your subscription status.
I’ll tell you this: There’s a continual monthly bleed of subscribers — a few percentage points a month — as credit cards expire and people stop subscribing for whatever reasons. Iris is good at reminding people to re-up, but it takes this annual subscription drive to bring the numbers up to where they “should” be. And we’re doing good! We’re at an all time high for the number of subscribers.
The Halifax Examiner is doing fine. We have no debt, there’s money in the bank, all the taxes are paid. We’ll keep plugging along like we have been, whether you subscribe or not.
But if we can increase the number of subscribers by just a few hundred more, we’ll be able to take it to a new level, with a more predictable freelance budget and the ability to do some long-range planning for a steady flow of investigative work.
So, if you’re able, and if you want to support the growth of this enterprise, please click here to subscribe.
1. Stock Transportation
“Last week, the province’s Utility and Review Board issued a scathing, 180-page decision accusing Nova Scotia bus operator Stock Transportation of ‘repeatedly operat[ing] its public passenger vehicles, including its school buses, as it wished and contrary to the Acts, rules, regulations, its licenses, and orders; even drivers’ safety regulations,’” writes Stephen Kimber:
Stock not only ran an unlicensed charter service but also “repeatedly”demanded its drivers work longer than their legally allowed maximum hours and “repeatedly conducted itself in a manner to hide its delinquent operations from being detected.”
Stock is no two-bit, drive-by-night bus service. It is the Canadian subsidiary of the National Express Company (NEC), one of the world’s largest bus companies, with annual revenues north of $1 billion. In Nova Scotia, Stock’s 600 employees and 500 vehicles make it the province’s largest bus company, providing school bus services — 98 per cent of its work, according to the UARB — to students of the Halifax Regional School Board, the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board and the Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial.
Despite all that, the board didn’t summarily lift its licence; it simply ordered Stock representatives to report back by November 30 to “present recommendations to address all breaches and concerns set out in the decision as they relate to its current school bus services.”
Click here to read “UARB fails to protect whistle-blowers, punish wrong-doing bus company.”
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall. Click here to subscribe. And really, you should subscribe.
2. CBRM secrecy
“CBRM Council met in
secret camera on Thursday to discuss something related to the Port of Sydney,” reports Mary Campbell in the Cape Breton Spectator:
There is nothing in the MGA that would preclude the mayor [Cecil Clarke] from throwing us a bone and telling us what our elected representatives will be discussing during an in camera meeting. (Not to mention telling our elected representatives what they’ll be discussing — which, according to Deputy Mayor Eldon MacDonald and District 6 Councilor Ray Paruch, they didn’t know going into Thursday’s meeting).
There would, in fact, be numerous advantages to telling us, not least of which is that it would nip a lot of rumors in the bud. Because man, I’m hearing rumors — I’m hearing rumors that council is once again being presented with a contract it’s to approve immediately, if not sooner. This rumor is credible because our mayor has done this to council repeatedly — with the creation of the Port of Sydney Development Corporation, the secondment of Marlene Usher from ECBC to head it, the hiring of Harbor Port Development Partners to market the port, the sale of Archibald’s wharf, the $1.2 million purchase of land in Sydport, the extension of Harbor Port Development Partners’ (by that point Sydney Harbour Investment Partners’) contract. Come to think of it, this is the only way our mayor does business — by doing it and then telling council about it.
(I don’t why they use American spelling up in Cape Breton, but maybe it’s part of the campaign to get Yanks disaffected with Trump to move to the island. Feel free to add random “U”s into the above copy to make it more readable.)
Click here to read “Port secrecy.”
As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
3. Street checks
“The Nova Scotia NDP is asking the province’s attorney general to put a stop to street checks, a practice the party says ‘has greatly eroded confidence in our police forces,’” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:
In a letter to Attorney General and Justice Minister Mark Furey sent on Friday on behalf of the New Democrat caucus, MLAs Claudia Chender and Lisa Roberts urge Furey to “take every measure available” to himself and the government “to ensure police end this practice.”
The letter says the practice “causes distress to the individuals involved, and has greatly eroded confidence in our police forces.”
“Nova Scotia has an opportunity to mitigate further harm now by immediately establishing a moratorium on the practice of street checks.”
Don’t trust anyone named Tim.
If you won’t listen to me, maybe you’ll listen to Graham Steele:
Today Tim Houston threw his hat into the Nova Scotia PC leadership ring.
He’s going to win, and one day he will be premier — if not the next election, then the one after that.
The Liberals think he’s an easy mark, and think they can thump him in the next election. They’re wrong. They wouldn’t be the first governing party to underestimate a new opposition leader.
But like the Liberals, I don’t believe Tim is as ready as he thinks he is. He still has a lot to learn. And like Stephen McNeil, he will learn.
What I worry about is that Tim — again like Stephen McNeil — will win by mastering all the traditional political arts. If so, by the time he gets to the premier’s office, he’ll represent the same old politics.
But it takes gumption to put your name forward for leadership. I wish him and his family well.
Tim Houston will win, and one day he’ll be premier.
I dunno. I once was convinced Andrew Younger would one day be premier.
5. Bullshitter of the week: whoever’s behind that CFL thing
Canadian Press reporters Aly Thomson and Brett Bundale interviewed Concordia University prof Moshe Lander, who studies the economics of sports, about the supposed attempt to put a CFL team in Halifax:
Stadiums hardly ever yield the economic benefits that are promised, Lander said, noting that it would need a minimum of 30,000 seats, but the “sweet spot” is closer to 40,000.
We’ve gone from a 15,000-seat stadium to a 40,000-seat stadium. Anyone who thinks 40,000 people will fill a stadium in Halifax for anything at all — football game, concert, free booze, anything — is delusional.
I’m just wondering where the opportunity for grift is. Somebody is planning on making a bunch of money — not on actually getting a CFL team to be based in Halifax (because that’s a certain money-loser), but rather on the promotion that will proceed the failure of the scheme.
6. Smoke bomb
The North Sydney Wal-Mart store “has been closed … since Nov. 6, after somebody let off a smoke signal canister inside the building, reportedly between freezer units in the retail grocery section of the store,” reports Jeremy Fraser for the Cape Breton Post:
Cape Breton Regional Police, along with the North Sydney Volunteer Fire Department and the Cape Breton Fire Services Hazmat team, responded to the King Street location around 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 6 to reports of orange smoke inside the building.
Upon arrival, customers and employees had been evacuated from Walmart as well as parts of the North Sydney Mall.
Firefighters entered the store and located a smoke signal canister. The Hazmat team confirmed the smoke to be non-toxic.
Alex Roberton, senior director of corporate affairs for Walmart Canada, confirmed most of the inventory was unsalvageable, with total damage “in the millions.”
“We’re going through the process of cleaning the store and we’re moving all the current inventory and replacing it with new inventory,” said Roberton.
I’m guessing “in the millions” is a “slight exaggeration — the insurance company — standard procedure.” Still, someone evidently has it out for Wal-Mart.
7. Christmas Tree
Our annual reminder:
It’s that time of year again, when we get a slew of news articles repeating the notion that Halifax sends a Christmas tree to Boston every year as a “thank you” for the help Bostonians gave Halifax after the Explosion.
This is false.
Of course, in 1917 and 1918 Bostonians (and others) provided medical and material relief that saved many lives. There was a terrible disaster relatively nearby, and people rose to the occasion.
And so in 1918, as the city of Halifax was getting back on its feet, the province sent a Christmas tree to Boston as a token of appreciation for the help. All very good. But from 1919 through 1970, the people of Nova Scotia were completely ungrateful for that help, at least not so grateful as to send another Christmas tree.
The “give a tree to Boston” thing was revived in 1971, not out of gratitude — most of the people who survived the Explosion were long dead from less spectacular causes — but to promote the provincial tourism and Christmas tree industries.
Like all good advertising campaigns, the promotion was wrapped around mawkish feel-good sentimentality, and everyone in Nova Scotia and in Boston got to pretend that they were somehow basking in the reflected kindness and gratitude of people who lived two generations before — “Hey, your grandma was a nurse who came to Halifax to help my grandfather… maybe we can make a buck on this thing, eh?”
Immediately after the Explosion, relief trains also came from Moncton and Saint John, and those trains got here before Boston’s trains, but we don’t thank Moncton and Saint John for their help with trees — we don’t even send them a card — because, let’s face it, we don’t need a bunch of New Brunswickians wandering around aimlessly downtown; rather, we need Americans spending their high-valued greenbacks. So: tree for Boston, continued ridicule for Saint John.
The province spends about a quarter of a million dollars for tourism promotion with the tree. In my mind, that’s worth it, given all the press it generates south of the border. It’s certainly nothing to get worked up about. But tourism promotion has nothing to do with actual gratitude.
Also, there’s no Santa Claus.
1. Cranky letter of the day
To the Charlottetown Guardian:
It made me laugh this morning when I read that this well–meaning government wants to stop people from smoking. I still laugh because the same government wants to sell pot here.
So, smoking guys, stop smoking cigarettes and buy pot, that’s what our kind administrators want.
Stupid and crazy. That’s my opinion.
Micheline Leclerc, New Glasgow
Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — nothing much on the agenda.
Police Commission (Monday, 12pm, City Hall) — Scot Wortley has an update on his street check research. Guess what? He needs more time.
Accessibility Committee (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — Siobhan Evans, a Masters student at Dal’s School of Planning, will give a presentation on “Assessing Halifax and Nova Scotia’s Inclusivity and Social Sustainability via Accessibility Policy and Planning.”
North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, Acadia Hall, Lower Sackville) — a public hearing on a car repair place in Sackville.
No public meetings.
No public meetings.
Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, Province House) — a per diem meeting.
Strings Recital (Monday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Mark Lee and Shimon Walt will perform.
Nutrition Recommendations (Monday, 12pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — Bradley Johnston will speak on “NutriRECS (Nutritional Recommendations and Accessible Evidence Summaries Composed of Systematic Reviews).”
Thesis Defence, Mechanical Engineering (Monday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Zohreh Asaee will defend her thesis, “Low Velocity Impact Response of a Novel Class of Fiber Metal Laminates Consisting of a 3D Fiberglass Fabrics.”
Volumes, And Counting Almost-isomorphic Things (Monday, 3:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Julia Gordon from UBC/ Cornell University will speak. Her abstract:
I will discuss two classical problems. The first one is Smith-Minkowski-Siegel mass formula — finding the size of agenus of a quadratic form with integer coefficients, i.e. the number of quadratic forms that are equivalent to it over the rational numbers but not over Z.
The second one is — how many elliptic curves over a given finite field have exactly the given number of points?
It turns out that both questions (and many others) have a similar flavour — they can be reformulated as finding the volume of a particular set. In order to define this volume we will have to introduce p-adic numbers.
The relationship between the counting and volumes is classic for Smith-Minkowski-Siegel formula (due to Weil and Tamagawa), but for the second problem it was less well-known, and constitutes our recent work with J. Achter and S. Ali Altug.
Draw the Line, Navigating Cultural Appropriation in Music (Monday, 6:30pm, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Christina Murray directs the Dalhousie Chorus in this performance, which will include songs, spoken word poetry, and passionate testimonies from several high-profile artists who regularly navigate these issues. Audience Q&A to follow.
Thesis Defence, Physiology and Biophysics (Tuesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Hailey Jansen will defend her thesis, “Insights into the Basis for Atrial Electrophysiological Remodelling and Arrhythmogenesis in Hypertensive Heart Disease, Ageing, and Frailty.”
Voice Recital (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Michael Donovan will perform.
What I Am Reading on Quantum Computation (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Marzieh Bayeh will speak at this @CAT Seminar.
Chinese Calligraphy Competition (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Fireside Lounge, McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building) — Lei Jiang will present a calligraphy demonstration and workshop, with a competition open to students in the Chinese Studies Program.
In the harbour
0:30am: Maersk Palermo, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Bremerhaven, Germany
4:30am: YM Evolution, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
5:30am: Asian King, car carrier, arrives Autoport from Southampton, England
6am: Fritz Reuter, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
8am: Anet, cargo ship, arrives at anchorage for bunkers from Puerto Tarafa, Cuba
4pm: Asian King, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: Fritz Reuter, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
Off to pick up more Examiner T-shirts this morning.
Absolutely, but where you say, “People stop subscribing for whatever reasons…” – I’m suggesting one reason.
You have no idea what we’re working on. If you want a steady daily flow of deep investigative articles, it simply isn’t going to happen. Articles take time. It took me 11 months to do the Glen Assoun/ Brenda Way investigation. Linda’s been working on a piece of a month that will just happen to be published today or tomorrow. I’ve got at least a dozen freedom of information requests out. I have right now open on my laptop a spread sheet that I’ve been working on for a week that will result in something soon. Freelance writers are working on several other stories…
If you don’t like the pace of publication, you are of course free to un-subscribe. Others may and apparently do understand that in-depth journalism is a long game.
You’re losing subscribers because the Examiner has lost focus. Read the ‘About’ section of your website. That’s why I subscribed. I value that kind of journalism and I’m happy to pay for it. Injecting some informed commentary into articles is thought provoking, but some of the op-eds you’ve published as of late are a long, long way from the exposés that established you (and your team) as serious journalists.
We’re at an all-time high number of subscribers.
You said above: “There’s a continual monthly bleed of subscribers.” I think refocusing on the mission you started with would address that.
Every publication on Earth has a monthly bleed of subscribers due to expired credit cards and the like. Every publication on Earth.
A new Amazon headquarters, a CFL team! Damn, why doesn’t Halifax go full-tilt boogie and lure Joni to town with the promise of … paved paradise and parking lots.
What do you mean there’s no Santa Claus?
Ah, he’s just a Scrooge. No Sandy Clause? Fuggedaboudit!
So Stock needs to be taken to task for firing the whistle-blowers who exposed their wrongdoing. In their public statements their COO insulted the intelligence of everyone by saying that she would never retaliate against those who raise safety concerns. Well she did. What those people did very well may have saved lives. And this is how they are thanked on the toe of a boot.