1. Leibovitz collection
“The minister responsible [for] culture in the province is standing behind the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and its repeated attempts to convince a federal body to certify as ‘cultural property’ hundreds of images produced by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:
As far as Culture Minister Leo Glavine is concerned, the work is significant, not only nationally, but internationally.
“I’m quite mystified as to why this has not been given the significance that it should have received,” he said during an interview in his downtown Halifax office Wednesday.
It’s come to this: a Nova Scotian government minister is defending a plan to further enrich an already filthy rich family in Toronto by defrauding the federal government out of millions of dollars through an elaborate tax scam, just because it means a museum in Halifax will get to exhibit some prints of an American artist.
Look, I’m all for more federal transfers to Nova Scotia, but can we at least do it in an upfront and legal manner and have the filthy rich pay more instead of putting the burden of those transfers on regular working people? Because that’s what this is all about: when you give a gazillionaire tax credits, the money has to be made up somewhere, and that “somewhere” is the tax payments made by Joe and Jane Sixpack.
It’d be one thing if the deal made sense, but it doesn’t (I explained it in detail yesterday). For once, we have a government body — the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board — that is actually doing its job, isn’t corrupted by nepotism or favouritism, and is protecting the financial interest of citizens. This is a good thing and should be celebrated.
By the way, there are two loose ends in this story: One, who were the three firms who provided the $20 million appraisal of the Leibovitz collection that the museum gave the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board?
Two, as I understand it, the decision of the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board can be overridden, but only by an order in council given by the PMO. That would require some serious political influence, which might be helped if the museum had someone on staff with some political pull, like, oh, the spouse of an MP. Just speculating here.
2. Ships End Here
“A plan, apparently 12 years in the making, to bring the shipbreaking firm Marine Recycling Corporation to the Sydport Marine Industrial Park in Point Edward seems to be becoming a reality,” reports Mary Campbell for the Cape Breton Spectator:
I’m guessing the shipbreaking industry, currently associated pretty exclusively with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, will not be courted by the country’s busier ports. It has a reputation as being both dangerous and dirty, although that is due in part lax regulation in those countries — Canadian shipbreaking operations are subject to more stringent controls. Indeed, Marine Recycling Corporation on its home page invites you to contact it to discuss “The Virtues of Domestic Ship Recycling.”
So, possibly more jobs for Sydney, but Campbell uncovers this bit also:
And Marine Recycling isn’t the only shipbreaker on our horizon: Heddle Marine Services, the firm featured in this Cape Breton Post story about its “swelling” labor force (it now employs 25 people) is busy, in Sydport, “de-mobilizing” a barge from the Hebron oil field.
Heddle’s regional manager is Mike Moore, whom I assume (which I know is dangerous and I stand to be corrected) is the Mike More who was paid $54,748 by the CBRM between April and November 2014 for “consulting services” on port development.
I am guessing he is also the same Mike More “seconded” to the Port of Sydney Development Corporation from June to September 2015 (see the minutes from the 23 June 2015 meeting of the Port of Sydney Development Corporation board) to oversee business development.
That means Moore would have been directly involved with port development in June 2015 when the CBRM paid $1.2 million for land in Sydport to lease to McKeil Marine. Now he has become regional manager for Heddle Marine — of which McKeil CEO Blair McKeil is a director.
“It’s interesting that the move to develop a shipbreaking industry has been progressing so quietly in the shadow of the more grandiose plans for our harbor,” concludes Campbell, who seems intent to force the American spelling of harbour on us:
Can we be an international hub for mega-container ships, a popular destination for cruise ships and a graveyard for dead vessels?
And isn’t it worth noting that while our dream terminal seems no closer than ever to reality, the publicly funded projects undertaken in its name — the dredged harbor, the McKeil land deal — seem to be helping private companies establish a shipbreaking industry?
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3. History of Halifax, a Mi’kmaw perspective
“Halifax is known to Mi’kmaq as Chebucto Kjipuktuk or ‘Great Harbour,’” writes Michael MacDonald, a Mi’kmaq of Sipekne’katik First Nations, a newly graduated law student, and local historian:
Since time immemorial a number of Mi’kmaq Clans held permanent villages in Kjipuktuk. The Mi’kmaq of Kjipuktuk took advantage of the coves in the Harbour since they offered protection from the elements, a place to beach canoes, and a constant supply of fresh water from the streams flowing down from one of many lakes nearby. There was also a wide diversity of marine life in this area that provided food all year round, especially large marine mammals such as grey seals, Harbour seals and even Atlantic Walruses were plentiful.
The “settler” population always maintains that the indigenous people who have been displaced didn’t “really” live there. I’ve seen this repeatedly: the English in New England said the land was for the taking because the Indians weren’t making productive use of it, laying the foundational lie that the natives didn’t practice agriculture, even though numerous accounts of English attacks on native villages mention burning their crops. In California, the native population was until recently underestimated by as much as 90 per cent, after the fact turning the state into an empty wasteland ripe for European settlement. Even as far afield as Palestine, there have been Zionist attempts to say that there were hardly any indigenous people at all, just mostly wandering Bedouins who could just as easily wander somewhere else. I suspect the under-estimation of the size and cultural complexity of the original peoples is part of all narratives of conquest.
Part of the explanation for the creation of that narrative is accidental, or at least explainable. First contact for indigenous North Americans meant widespread disease and death. It’s not as simple as a story of lacking immunity to European diseases — although it is that as well, conquest also meant warfare and geographic displacement that severely weakened native economies, depriving the indigenous population of reliable food and medicine sources; in that weakened state, they were more susceptible to disease. Moreover, Europeans had been practicing germ warfare for centuries before coming to North America, and they made use of the tactic here as well — for example, Field Marshal Jeffery Amherst’s intentional spreading of smallpox (for his glorious conquest, the town of Amherst was named after him). Regardless, within a generation or two, in some places all the indigenous population died, and in lots of places most of it.
So perhaps some of the under-estimation of native populations in understandable, as later historians looked at the comparatively small population numbers in the post-conquest years and extrapolated backwards to say that the native population was never very large.
But now we’re beginning to understand that lots of those “temporary” or “seasonal” “campsites” were in fact permanent towns. I’ve had this discussion with David Jones, the Dartmouth historian; here’s our exchange:
Bousquet: Do you have any more information of the “prehistoric campsite was located at the end of Bolton Terrace”? I’m quite curious about this. Historians in California have vastly revised their understandings of pre-contact native population. It used to be that many sites were considered “campsites” or “seasonal villages,” but with further investigation it was decided that there sites were actually permanent town sites. There had been an earlier bias that prevented Europeans from believing that the native population could have possibly been as large as it was; I think there may be a similar bias at play here in Nova Scotia. It seems inconceivable to me that many, many native people did not live full-time on both sides of the harbour: why wouldn’t they? But anyway, if you have any info on the Bolton Terrace site, I would appreciate it. Thanks!
Jones: As a little boy, I heard that there had been an old Mi’kmaw campsite between Lake Banook and Sullivan’s Pond. Certainly, there were camps (possibly houses) there in the 1800s. Steve Davis conducted archaeological work on Lake Banook (where exactly on Lake Banook?) in the 70s and I am trying to get hold of his report. I agree that there would have been significant, well-established populations on both sides of the harbour and I am trying to pull together a bunch source material. We need to shake off a bunch of biases: you are on the right track! I should start engaging with phrases such as habitation sites, areas of occupation, communities, etc. Nova Scotia’s early peoples were not simply avid eco-tourist campers!
Yet, the idea that “no native people lived in Halifax” persists, the notion being that Mi’kmaw simply came down from the interior to fish for a couple of weeks in the summer, then went back to the interior woods for the rest of the year. But as MacDonald points out:
Considering the large amount of fish and marine life in Kjipuktuk the Mi’kmaq population would have been much larger at the time of contact. During the 1500s it was common knowledge among fishing vessels to avoid entering Kjipuktuk because the Mi’kmaq would attack any outsiders entering the basin. In his memoirs Monsieur Samuel De Champlain wrote that he avoided going near Kjipuktuk even though he identifies it on his maps as Baye Saine or Healthy Harbour. The islands located at the mouth of the Harbour were known to the French as Les Mortes (The Death) where a number of French Sailors were killed by the Mi’kmaq of Kjipuktuk. Any ship entering would be met by over 400 warriors in canoes who would immediately attack the unexpected ships. Many of the ships that entered Kjipuktuk during the late 1500s and early 1600s were never seen again. By the mid-1600s European sailors and fisherman avoided Kjipuktuk all together. So the exact number of Mi’kmaq in Kjipuktuk during these early years is unknown.
Once we realize that a large, permanent Mik’maw population of thousands of people lived in what we now call Halifax and Dartmouth, the stiff resistance they put up to the invading English is more understandable. The English were taking their homes, not just some odd campsites.
Part of reconciliation, I think, involves questioning the settler narrative of history and truly listening to indigenous histories. I have examples of other indigenous oral histories that were ignored by settlers for centuries, only to be ultimately shown to be correct all along, but I’ve gone on for too long as it is.
Mi’kmaw people can speak of their history for themselves, and MacDonald’s essay is a good place to start.
4. Kid Rock
The musician Kid Rock is considering running for the U.S. Senate in his home state of Michigan, reports the Associated Press.
What does this have to do with Nova Scotia? Nothing at all. But the news causes me to remember Kid Rock’s pivotal role in Halifax’s concert scandal. As I wrote back in 2011:
The Dexter government continued to refuse to fund concerts, even though mayor Peter Kelly appealed directly to premier Dexter himself. And [promoter Harold] MacKay didn’t have the funds for Kid Rock’s upfront fee.
On March 17, someone—again, presumably MacKay, although the name is redacted—asked [CAO Wayne] Anstey for a loan contract for the Halifax Rocks show, with the amount raised from a previously agreed $400,000 to $500,000. On March 23, the same person again writes Anstey to suggest that the Black Eyed Peas concert be announced publicly, and “get tickets on sale right away [so] Scott [Ferguson at TCL] would have enough cash on hand to be able to assist us with the second night a couple of weeks later.”
That is, the plan was to use Black Eyed Peas ticket sales to pay Kid Rock’s advance fee. This is madness, because had either act cancelled, there would be no money with which to refund ticket holders.
The documents don’t spell out the day-to-day details of the negotiations with Kid Rock, but it appears that MacKay kept Kid Rock on the bill by dribbling advance money to him a little at a time, as he could convince Anstey to lend more money.
Eventually, Kid Rock refused to play the game, and demanded all the upfront fee. On June 23, the redacted person, more than likely MacKay, wrote to TCL’s controller, cc’ing Anstey and Ferguson, asking for an additional $600,000 loan, but not to pay Kid Rock. “That [redacted] will cover refunds when we cancel (Very Confidentially next week) the Kid Rock night. It is our plan to offer KR holders to use their ticket for BEP which should mean a lot less refunds.”
The next day the same person writes back, alarmed. “The Agency handling Kid Rock artists has been telling all our other artists’ agents about their situation and the demand for further fee payments from our artists is escalating. PLEASE let me know when we could access funds.”
I think it’s hilarious that Kid Rock had his people calling all around to tell other musicians to demand their upfront fee in full because Halifax was not to be trusted. Talk about your reputational hit.
Kid Rock, incidentally, is a Republican and a Trump enthusiast.
Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — Maurita Richey is appealing an unsightly premises citation for 32 Elwin Court in Dartmouth.
No public meetings in July.
Phylodynamics of Pathogenic Mycobacteria (Thursday, 9:30am, C-150, CHEB Building) — Conor Meehan, of Antwerp’s Institute of Tropical Medicine, will speak.
Urban Forest Walkabout (Thursday, 6pm, in front of the Kenneth C Rowe Management Building) — Peter Duinker will lead a 90-minute walking tour of Halifax’s urban forest.
Thesis Defence, International Development Studies (Friday, 10:30am, Atrium 306) — Masters student Elizabeth Eritobor will defend her thesis, “Women’s Education and Development in Nigeria: A Content Analysis of Nussbaum’s Capability Approach Applied to Women’s Empowerment (2010-2017).”
In the harbour
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
8am: Piltene, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for TKTK
9am: USS Jason Dunham, US Naval destroyer, arrives at Dockyard
10am: Cape Bradley, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Beaumont, Texas
11am: ZIM Ningbo, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
11am: Skogafoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11:30am: YM Modesty, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
Noon: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
3:30pm: Maasdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Bar Harbor
6pm: BBC Nevada, cargo ship, sails from Pier 30 for Marseille, France
9;30pm: ZIM Ningbo, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
We’re recording Examineradio today.