The Halifax Examiner’s annual subscription drive ends today. That doesn’t mean you can’t subscribe tomorrow or the day after or next week or next month. It just means we’ll slow down on the in-your-face requests for subscriptions.
We much appreciate all the new subscribers! Your money is what pays for this operation.
These are tough times, so the subscription drive wasn’t quite as successful as I had hoped. That means we won’t be able to meet all the ambitious aims I had set out for reporting. Still, the Examiner is in a reasonable financial position, and we’ll carry on.
For the past month, I’ve been highlighting Examiner employees and contributors. I’ve done this for several reasons.
First, I think it’s important so you could get to know the crew. Your money goes to real people with names and faces.
Second, I like to celebrate the people who are not just my colleagues but also my friends; I don’t tell them enough how much I value them, and this month has given me the excuse.
Third, I have an immense responsibility to them. When I started the Examiner, it was basically just me, and I had an almost devil-may-care attitude towards finances. If the Examiner failed, I could go tend bar or flip burgers somewhere and be happy. But now there are about a dozen fine people who rely on the Examiner — folks with families, children, mortgages, rents, grocery bills. For their sake, it’s imperative that I keep this operation going.
One person I haven’t profiled is Iris the Amazing, the Examiner’s manager. I haven’t profiled her because Iris is a private person and doesn’t want her full name out in the world, which is ironic because half of her job is communicating with people. So, I won’t profile her. But I will say this: the Examiner simply would not exist were it not for Iris. She is the bedrock. She makes everything work. She takes care of all the stuff. Iris gets the bills paid, deals with subscriber issues. She oversaw the creation of the new website. In real terms, because I know Iris is around, I now ignore most of the business side of things until Iris tells me to do something, and even then she has to prod and remind me. Iris is, well, amazing.
So please subscribe, and say hello to Iris.
In addition to our normal subscriptions, we now have gift cards that make great gifts for anyone over the holidays (or any time of year, really). It’s very easy to sign up, too. You can choose the delivery date by clicking the “send as gift” button, and the gift card will arrive in their email on that day.
Also, if you’re already a Halifax Examiner subscriber, we’ll refund you 20% of the price of the gift card.
Sign up here and give the gift of the Examiner.
1. Environmental cleanup
“The price of cleaning up Boat Harbour keeps increasing,” I reported yesterday:
In 2017, the Boat Harbour remediation project was estimated at $204.9 million, but in the intervening five years that price tag has grown to $314.2 million.
But a huge unknown is the cost of cleaning up abandoned mine sites.
There are at least 69 abandoned mine sites in Nova Scotia that are either on Crown land or that the province has accepted responsibility for. But no attempt to put a price tag on cleaning up those mines was made until 2018, when just two abandoned gold mines — at Goldenville and Montague — were assessed; cleanup costs for those two mines were then estimated to be $48 million. In the four years since, that cost has risen to $65.5 million.
In other words: the sky’s the limit when it comes to the costs of cleaning up abandoned mine sites.
But just as the province is beginning to grapple with the potentially enormous costs of cleaning up historic mining sites, it is additionally embarking on opening much of the province to new mining constituting a “fourth gold rush,” with unknown future liabilities.
My reporting on the environmental cleanup costs was informed by Auditor General Kim Adair’s report issued yesterday. I had some family matters to attend to yesterday morning and couldn’t make the technical briefing or the press conference held after, so I based my reporting on the actual published audit report and on the Examiner’s past reporting on mining issues. I bounced my draft article by Joan Baxter, who added important context, before publishing.
MacDonald is a fine reporter, and I have no criticism of his article. Read it! As you’ll see, he focuses on Adair’s comments about the provincial government allocating extra, non-budgeted, money to departments that have exceeded their budgets, mid accounting year. This is an important issue, and one I certainly saw in Adair’s report, and she evidently stressed it in her press conference.
But as I assessed the auditor’s report, my first thought was: What would Examiner readers most care about here?
The backfilling of budgets is a real concern, but in the scheme of things, it’s a bit pedantic and, at some level, almost besides the point, in my opinion: sure, government should work within its budgets, but those budgets are set by the same politicians who later backfill the budgets, so voters ultimately have the same recourse either way: vote the bastards out.
Far more important, as I saw it, were the long-term environmental cleanup costs detailed in Adair’s report, so that’s what I concentrated on. You, reader, are of course free to disagree, but if so, you have MacDonald’s article to turn to.
This shows the importance of having multiple reporters covering issues. We each bring our own backgrounds and perspectives into the story, and we each are reporting for a different public.
It’s yet another reason to subscribe to the Halifax Examiner.
2. Place names
“The places and institutions that have marked Lauren Beck’s life have all been named for men — and with one exception, white men. And, as a Canadian, that’s not unusual,” writes Philip Moscovitch:
A Mount Allison professor who holds the Canada Research Chair in Intercultural Encounter, Beck is the author of the new book Canada’s Place Names & How to Change Them, published in October by Concordia University Press.
The book looks at the origins of Canada’s place names, differences between European and Indigenous naming practices, and the complexities around how and whether to change place names.
This is a interesting article that explores lots of angles. One I was taken with is this:
In March 2022, MP Charlie Angus introduced a motion calling on the city of Ottawa to rename the street where the Russian embassy is located. The motion, which suggests renaming Charlotte Street to honour Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, passed unanimously.
This kind of renaming is problematic on a number of levels, Beck said. It strips a female name from the street (it’s actually named for two women: Princess Charlotte and Ottawa’s first woman mayor, Charlotte Whitton). And it replaces it with a living figure, which could bring its own set of problems down the line.
Zelenskyy, Beck said, “now is in the good books, I think, in the Western world. But who knows what will happen in the course of time? From studying place-name policy across the country at the municipal level, one thing I’ve noticed is that there’s now a more strict discouragement of naming places after people — specifically living people. They want you to be nice and dead.”
This is why I oppose efforts to, say, rename suburban streets after some hockey player. Sure, by all present-day accounts, the hockey player is an upstanding guy, but maybe wait for the dust to settle on junior hockey sexual abuse scandals before memorializing that upstanding guy verdict.
Better yet, do as they (mostly) do in New York: dispense with naming streets and simply number them. Same with schools: there’s nothing wrong with calling your school, say, Dartmouth High. And I see nothing wrong with Bay View School.
Coincidentally, as I was writing this, I received an email from Academia, the press that publishes academic papers:
The name “T. Bousquet” is mentioned in “Agent-based simulations of interactions between duck population, farming decisions and leasing of hunting rights in the Camargue (Southern France)” uploaded to Academia.
Academia asked if I am the author “T. Bousquet.” I am not. And, in fact, whoever T. Bousquet is, they are not the author of “Agent-based simulations of interactions between duck population, farming decisions and leasing of hunting rights in the Camargue (Southern France)“; a fellow named François Bousquet is a co-author of that article, so the email to me is presumably some sort of machine reading screwup. François Bousquet works at the International Rice Research Institute in Bangkok, Thailand.
There are however several other “Tim Bousquet”s in the world — a school teacher in Massachusetts, a retired railroad worker in western Canada, a millwright in Tennessee, a landscaper in Connecticut. So far as I know, I’m not related to any of these Tim Bousquets, except in the distant sense of “related” through the shared human genetic tree that relates all of us to each other. I sometimes want to contact the other Tim Bousquets and apologize; I know I must’ve made their social media and Google search lives hell.
And there are a bunch of other Bousquets with different first names — Sharon, a musician; Shirley, a comedienne; Rene, a Nazi collaborator; Steven, a journalist with the Tampa Bay Times. I’m not closely related to any of those Bousquets either.
Maybe we should all use numbers, like the Borg.
As if we needed more proof that green hydrogen is a giant scam, consider that John Risley’s company, World Energy GH2, is offering a $10-million “vibrancy fund” to governments on the Port au Port Peninsula in Newfoundland, to help grease the approval of a green hydrogen scheme there.
I keep saying, if anyone non-ironically trots out any variation of the word “vibrant,” know that they are completely full of shit.
Tragedy as comedy
When is it too soon to make fun of terrible events of our past?
Is anyone upset about Monty Python’s “Bring out your dead” sketch, which turns the Black Death into comedy?
OK, that was 700 years after the fact.
But hundreds of millions of people died in the Second World War, and yet just 20 years after the war ended, the comedic Hogan’s Heroes series ran successfully on American television. (The TV series was a send-up of the traditionally heroic The Great Escape of 1963.)
And Mel Brooks went meta with the concept with Springtime for Hitler:
Even the Holocaust was gist for humour (and over-the-top sentimentality) in the 1997 Life is Beautiful:
And Stalin, responsible for the death of tens of millions:
All I’m saying is: it’s time for The Halifax Explosion, the sitcom.
Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, online) — agenda
Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda
Yard Sale 2022 (Wednesday, 9am, Dal Bookstore, Student Union Building)
Antiracism & Decolonization in Archival Studies: Open Classroom Series (Wednesday, 1:30pm, online) — more info here
Agar, toothpicks, sequencers and the human microbiome (Thursday, 2pm, Theatre B, Tupper Medical Building) — Michael Surette from McMaster University will talk
ODE TO JOHN: A Retrospective of a Theatrical Genius (Thursday, 6pm, 1385 Seymour Street) — exhibit and reception celebrating John Pennoyer’s contribution to theatrical costume and design; RSVP here
Open Dialogue Live: Clean energy of the next generation (Thursday, 6:30pm, location TBA) — more info here
Wellness Courts in Nova Scotia (Wednesday, 1pm, Burke Theatre Auditorium) — Chief Judge Pamela Williams will talk
SMU Reading Series: Annick MacAskill and shalan joudry (Thursday, 7pm, Art Gallery) — an evening of poetry in the midst of the gallery’s current exhibition, JIM, a collaboration among Jack Bishop, Ivan Murphy and Mitchell Wiebe; more info here
Fall Alumni Book Club – Leo Strauss: An Introduction (Wednesday, 7pm, online) — more info here
In the harbour
05:30: San Martin, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 36 from St. John’s
07:30: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
09:15: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Providence, Rhode Island
10:00: GM 11103, barge, and Genesis Eagle, tug, arrive at Irving Oil from Albany, New York
10:30: Humen Bridge, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
10:30: Tropic Hope, container ship, sails for Palm Beach, Florida
11:30: San Martin sails for sea
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 42
13:30: John J. Carrick, barge, and Leo A. McArthur, tug, sail from Cherubini dock for sea
16:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Autoport
20:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 36
21:00: Ice Fighter, sails from Tufts Cove for sea
06:30: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from New York
09:30: Arctic Lift, barge, with Western Tugger, tug, transit through the causeway to Aulds Cove quarry from Georgetown, P.E.I.
11:00: Shelia Ann, bulker, sails from Coal Pier (Sydney) for sea
The province is releasing its Climate Change Action Plan today. I’ll have a report on that this afternoon.