In the harbour
1. Muskrat Falls
For better or worse, the former NDP government bet Nova Scotia’s renewable energy future on the Muskrat Falls project in Labrador. By connecting into the hydro project via an undersea “Maritime Link” cable, Muskrat Falls would provide Nova Scotia with 40 per cent of its electrical needs by 2020.
That policy, however, increasingly looks like it may fail.
Muskrat Falls was always on shaky financial ground — it only worked out if oil prices and electrical demand remained very high. But oil prices have crashed, putting the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in financial free fall; government expenditures have been slashed, and the temptation is to abort the Muskrat Falls project, already a billion and a half dollars over budget. The NL government may use the soft electricity market as an excuse to cancel the project — 40 per cent of the power from Muskrat Falls was to be sold to mining developments in Labrador, but the commodities crash has reduced mining activity. A decision about the future of the project will be made in coming weeks.
Where does this leave Nova Scotia? No one quite knows. But, reports Paul Withers for the CBC:
The Nova Scotia government and Nova Scotia Power are being urged to start planning for the cancellation of the Muskrat Falls hydro electricity project, which could jeopardize the province’s ability to meet green energy standards.
It comes from consultants for the province’s largest electricity customers, known as the Industrial Group.
“NS Power has plenty of capacity, so it could easily meet customers’ load,” said Drazen Consulting in a report prepared for the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
“The problem would be that it may not meet the Renewable Energy Standard,” Drazen said.
2. Examineradio, episode 60
This week, we welcome Jane’s Walk organizer and candidate for city council, Sam Austin. He talks the walk and discusses development, since that’s all anybody’s talking about as of late.
Also, development! Lucky north end Haligonians are thrilled with the promise of a shiny new parking lot where their homes once stood. This is thanks to the benevolence of the Steele Auto Group, a company synonymous with progressive values.
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(Subscribe via iTunes)
3. Multicultural Festival cancelled
“Halifax’s multicultural festival has been a sign of summer’s start for the past 32 years, but CBC News has learned this year’s event is not going ahead due to financial issues,” reports Rachel Ward for the CBC. “The Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia, founded in 1975, has been ordered by court to pay more than $26,500 in outstanding debts dating back to the 2014 festival.”
4. Colonial Honda
Most of the houses for which demolition permits have been issued on the blocks surrounding Colonial Honda were boarded up Friday morning, evidently in preparation of being razed. I walked around the neighbourhood Friday afternoon and took photos.
When I look at the houses on McCully and May Streets and Fern Lane, I’m reminded of Belle Aire and Fuller Terraces, just to the east, on the other side of Agricola Street. That tiny neighbourhood with its narrow streets and small houses was years ago also in some degree of disrepair, but has since seen a resurgence as new residents have bought older houses and renovated them. That’s the usual evolution of urban neighbourhoods: they go through better and worse stages, then back to better.
When neighbourhoods are a bit neglected or aged, however, they provide an important role as affordable housing. There were probably about 100 people living in low-rent housing in the Fern Lane area before Steele Auto Group bought up the properties and evicted the tenants. I doubt many of the occupants could find similarly priced housing on the peninsula.
1. Halifax bars and racism
“White fears for safety around Blacks are not only taken seriously, but are projected onto Black people as though we, and not unhinged white people, were the problem,” writes El Jones:
These white fears stretch back into enslavement histories, when white masters feared uprisings of Black slaves. The same language of Black people as demonic, savage, and animalistic justified white oppression of Blacks — because Black people are frightening, they must be controlled. White fear is actually caused by white people’s own violence towards Black people. It is white people who terrorize and brutalize Black people. Fearing retribution for their actions, white people create the justification that any violence they commit against Black people is necessary because it is Black people who threaten whites. Because white people feel fear, Black people must be dangerous.
Jones is tackling the important, decades-long history of racism in Halifax bars, but in the process recalls this ironic moment:
Michael McGuire remembers Classified being “turned away” from the Attic for “dressing too black,” a memory corroborated by DJ IV.
That’s right: Classified, a white man who has a successful career in hip hop, a musical genre invented by Black people, was kicked out of a club for being “too black.”
“I did the old “Why is [state] so [blank]” Google autocomplete thing, but for Canadian provinces and territories,” explains a US-based Redditor, who came up with these results:
Results are slightly different using Google in Nova Scotia. This morning, I got “Why is Saskatchewan so cold” and “Why is Quebec so poor.”
Districts 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee (7pm, Olympic Community Centre) — this is a public meeting to discuss the fate of the former St. Pat’s High School site. What should concern us is that the city is proposing “an innovative approach” to the property:
Because the property has been categorized as Economic Development, the municipality has a unique opportunity to advance development through a change in zone. To that end, land use by-law regulations and planning policies are being created for the site that will ensure a mixed-use development with a focus on urban design and built form excellence, which will complement and enrich the Quinpool Road business district and neighbourhoods, as informed by the public.
No public meetings.
Mercury (8:15am–3:45pm, outside the Dunn Building: East side until 12:30, West afterwards) — the planet Mercury is making a transit of the sun today, meaning that from our perspective here on Earth, Mercury is moving across the sun. This happens only 13 or 14 times a century, so among astronomy geeks, this is a very big deal. The Astronomy Department is setting up three or four telescopes with solar filters so you don’t burn your eyeballs out, and is inviting the public to have a look-see. Folks who know about planets and stars and telescopes and such will be on hand to tell you what you’re looking at.
Whitewashing Liberal corruption money (10am, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — for decades, both the Liberal and Progressive Conservative Parties were as corrupt as the ruling junta in any Banana Republic. The Liberals, however, had the bad luck of being caught at it; as Stephen Kimber explained:
During the first half of the last century, the Nova Scotia Liberal party perfected a lucrative if illegal fundraising scheme known as toll-gating. Companies wanting to do business with the government — from having their particular brand of booze stocked on liquor store shelves, to offering legal advice to crown corporations, to supplying the hamburger for the hash in local hospital cafeterias — knew they had to fork over a portion of the value of whatever they sold to their friendly Liberal fundraiser.
According to evidence presented at the 1981 influence-peddling trial of three prominent Liberal fundraisers, that party raised at least $4 million — and probably much more — from these illicit tolls alone during Gerald Regan’s eight years as premier (1970-78).
It’s anyone’s guess how much money was illegally collected, or what happened with it. Eventually, in the 1990s, the Liberals gave the provincial treasury $1.3 million as an acknowledgement that the money was crookedly obtained, but another $2.3 million was held “in trust” by the party until 2012, when finally it was transferred to something called the For the Public Good Trust, which in turn established the MacEachen Institute, named after Cape Bretoner Allan MacEachen, a Liberal MP who became Deputy Prime Minister in the Pierre Trudeau government. (I guess they felt they couldn’t name it the Liquor Store Kickback Institute.)
The MacEachen Institute is not registered with the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies nor with Canada Revenue Agency’s Charities’ Listing. That’s not especially unusual — if you want to work on cars or become a barber or start a nonprofit to help starving children, sure, you better damn well list your company or non-profit with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies and with the CRA; if not, the full force of the regulatory bureaucracy will come knocking at your door demanding immediate compliance, late fees, and interest. But I’ve long noticed that many of the corporations given payroll rebates by Nova Scotia Business Inc haven’t ponied up the 100 bucks or so to register as a provincial corporation — which is supposedly a requirement for doing business in Nova Scotia. For example, a check last night showed that neither IGATE, Millennium1, nor BeyondTrust, all of which have received NSBI financial assistance, are registered with the province.
I can tell you basic facts about tiny nonprofits who appropriately and legally file all their disclosure forms with the various governments. For example, and this isn’t at all to fault them (quite the contrary), the Dress For Success Halifax Society has $72,389 in assets and $4,526 in liabilities, has one employee who makes between $40,000 and $80,000 a year, and has a board of directors that includes Danielle Comeau, Kathryn Patterson, Sian Wren, Julie Morine, Ashley McKillop, Pernille Fischer Boulter, Jennifer Best-White, Glennie Langille (hi, Glennie!), and Brenda Saunders/Todd. By all appearances, Dress for Success is a responsible organization.
The MacEachen Institute? Who the hell knows. Because it’s not registered in the provincial or federal registries, I can’t tell you what its charitable status is, or anything about its finances. It is beyond public scrutiny. From a Dalhousie press release, I learn that its directors are David Cameron (a past president of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party), David Thompson of Dartmouth (who I think is the David Thompson who is a Liberal organizer), and Carole Gillies of Antigonish (the co-chair of the longtime MacEachen lecture series at St. FX) — in other words, people who are part of the Liberal establishment.
But Justin Trudeau is prime minister and so it’s impolite to mention that millions of dollars gained through corrupt practices and held not-very-transparently in trust are now being whitewashed through the establishment of something called the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance at Dalhousie, funded with a $2.25 million grant from the MacEachen Institute.
And today, Jean Chretien and Bob Rae will be on hand for the grand opening of the Institute — and a Liberal scandal will be celebrated as a Liberal success story. Afterwards, a panel will lecture us about “the future of public policy.” My guess is that we’ll be told that public policy will be less corrupt in the future than it was in the past.
Senate (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Building) — probably someone will link to the agenda in the comments because once again I can’t find it. Why is it impossible to simply post the agenda (or a link to it) on the event page?
In the harbour
7:30am: OOCL Antwerp, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Cagliari, Italy
9am: Tranquil Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
4:30pm: Tranquil Ace, car carrier, sails from Autoport to sea
I’m behind on everything.
Here’s the breakdown for what’s projected for 2020: http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/newsroom/news-releases/nova-scotia-power-sets-renewable-energy-record.aspx
It’s not 40% from Muskrat Falls, but it will help reach the 40% target. NSP says 22% of the projected 47% from renewables in 2020 will come from hydro and tidal. I haven’t looked into it, but it could be around 10%, as KB says.
I think we could easily get 10% in some other much less destructive way. But our system is so geared up for the big capital intensive mega projects and not for the small-scale local ones, which would give communities control and power. Plus, why aren’t we talking more about reducing our consumption, rather than trying to meet (an unsustainable) growing demand? Let’s also not forget that Muskrat Falls has huge implications for the people who live there. The Lower Churchill Joint Review Panel wrote in 2011 that the project would have irreversible damage and adverse impacts on the Nunatsiavut, Nitassinan, and Nunatukavut communities. Sounds a lot like colonialism coupled with industrial capitalism… not a good mix.
The press release linked in the article above points out that the MacEachen Institute is “federally incorporated”, so it is not surprising they do not appear in NS RJSC. You can however easily locate them in the federal incorporation database, https://goo.gl/4v8Jg0.
In case anyone else had the same name confusion I did, the MacEachen Institute launched today (MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance) is a research institute, and is not separately incorporated or registered. It resides within Dalhousie’s structure alongside many other research institutes (LSRI, Materials, Ocean Frontiers, etc.). There was previously a “MacEachen Institute for Policy and Government” (and I suppose still is). This old institute is the source of the funds donated to Dalhousie, used to establish the new institute. It seems to me that they have simply ended their efforts and passed the torch (and the name and the funding) to Dalhousie and there may be an interesting story there. The directors named in the same press release were for the old MacEachen Institute.
The governance structure for the new institute based at Dalhousie is on their website. It has a list of the various people involved (under About->Governance) at http://www.dal.ca/dept/maceachen-institute/about/governance.html, and at a glance they don’t appear non-partisan but do seem multi-partisan which is a start. For example, the external advisory council is chaired by Megan Leslie.
In regard to our Steel and Glass monoliths going up, how economical will the temperature control in these buildings? Could we put a question out to Solar Nova Scotia, I do believe that they just gave a speech on this topic.
I am afraid that I am becoming an unhinged white guy from all this mess that I see. It’s a done deal, but it needs to be converted to a hospital, it’s called repurposing, it’s what we do when we have shit that we don’t need, we repurpose it. Like Innovation dude!!
I was amused at the Herald’s account of the opening of the MacEachen Institute, which failed to mention who it was named for. I guess Allan J. has been out of the news so long there is no corporate memory of him. Oh, wait, the corporate memory is on strike.
Do feel annoyed about the Senate not posting stuff, but it wasn’t even posted publicly until sometime after 9am today – available at http://www.dal.ca/content/dam/dalhousie/pdf/university_secretariat/Senate%20Docs/2016_05_09%20Senate%20Revised%20(4)%20Agenda.pdf right now.
The listing on the Senate.dal.ca webpage had it listed as the next meeting coming up on Jun 13th before this was shared. So I don’t even really know what’s going on there.
An innovative approach to St Pats would have been to directly deal with all the construction waste on site and within the community. Not to simply award a contract and have it shipped outside to become another communities problem. We don’t want your trash.
I know a good number of people who have totally tuned out of provincial politics because they are not listened to. McNeil and his buddies don’t listen and govern for their friends, they aren’t the type of people who want to see the province succeed. Looking at what you wrote about the continued corruption of the provincial Liberals makes me think we will never have people engaged, they know that there are no real consequences for the provincial elite. Having two sets of rules, one for the elite and one for the rest of us.
It’s one thing to gentrify for the hipster crowd but it’s quite another to gentrify for a parking lot?
Colonial Honda should be ashamed. Of course when it comes to money there is no such thing as shame is there? There is only money chasing more money.
The giant sucking sound is HRM’s credibility when it comes to it’s vaunted Centre Plan consultations.
“Muskrat Falls would provide Nova Scotia with 40 per cent of its electrical needs by 2020…” I think it’s 10% or maybe that the link would help the province reach 40% renewable by 2020.