News

1. Cornwallis statue to come down

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Halifax council voted 12-4 yesterday to take down the Cornwallis statue. The no votes were councillors Matt Whitman, David Hendsbee, Steve Adams, and Russell Walker. Councillor Lindell Smith was out of the country, but likely would have voted yes.

You can read my blow-by-blow live-blog of the discussion here:

Council added the Cornwallis issue; now debating whether to deal with it first or last. Hendsbee wants last. “We have other business we need to deal with”

— Halifax Examiner (@HfxExaminer) January 30, 2018

As of this writing, the video of the meeting hasn’t been archived, but it will soon be, here. It’s worth watching the debate in its entirety.

I’m a cynical guy with a knack for seeing the worst in people, but I have to say, I was impressed with how council conducted itself yesterday, and especially how councillors searched their own souls while wrestling with the Cornwallis issue.

There is a lot to say about the meeting and the issue, and I’ll probably return to it later this week, but I won’t now belabour it except to point out two councillors in particular.

Steve Streatch is the stereotypical conservative, with both a big and a little C. He’s a climate change denier, ridicules bleeding heart liberals, etc. But he had a fall-off-the-horse moment last year when Poet Laureate Rebecca Thomas read her poem “Not Perfect” before council:

After Thomas read her poem, “I talked to that young lady, and I’ve come around,” he said. He didn’t say exactly what he and Thomas discussed, but whatever it was, he came away understanding the hurt and pain of the indigenous community caused by the Cornwallis commemorations.

Yesterday, Streatch repeated his new view of the statue.

The discussion yesterday was opened by Councillor Bill Karsten, who stated that he would have previously opposed the motion to take down the statue, but upon reflection:

I’m not embarrassed in the least to say where I am now is not where I was even a month ago… evolution of your position is what truth and reconciliation calls for you to do… we need a relationship with our Indigenous population based on trust and mutual respect.

As I noted in the live-blogging, this is very un-Karsten-like. He has built a reputation of sticking to his views, and rejecting, to the point of ridicule, opposing views, no matter how well-argued.

Karsten was downright eloquent in his opening statement, and it set the tone for the rest of the discussion.

Many other councillors also spoke eloquently, but it speaks to the humanity and maturity of both Streatch and Karsten that they could look honestly at their own views and change their minds.

Yesterday was a good day for Halifax.

2. Halifax Hospice

“The first residential hospice in the province is scheduled to open this October — after 17 years of volunteers dreaming, planning, and fundraising (with the largest push still to come),” reports Jennifer Henderson.

Click here to read “Hospice Halifax will open in October.”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

3. Cannabis

Read down to see why I used this ridiculous photo from the AP.

The NSLC yesterday announced that just nine of its outlets will sell cannabis:

The nine stores selling cannabis beginning in July are:
— Amherst – 126 South Albion St.
— Dartmouth – 650 Portland St.
— Halifax – 5540 Clyde St.
— Halifax – 3601 Joseph Howe Dr.
— Lower Sackville – 752 Sackville Dr.
— New Glasgow – 610 East River Rd.
— Sydney River – 95 Keltic Dr.
— Truro – 6 Court St.
— Yarmouth – 104a Starrs Rd.

The NSLC will reopen the former store on Clyde St. in Halifax. It will exclusively sell cannabis.

That means there will be no cannabis sales between Halifax and Yarmouth or anywhere in the Annapolis Valley or on the northeast mainland. That’s a recipe for keeping the black market profitable.

However, the agency announced in the press release that:

Online sales from the NSLC, with home delivery, will also be offered. Additional details about online sales will be announced at a future date. Nova Scotians will also be able to grow up to four plants per household.

I don’t know much about growing cannabis, but I know a guy back in California who served 2.5 years in federal prison for doing so, and he tried to explain it to me once. As I understand it, the stuff you want to smoke — buds — comes from the female plants, so you have to grow a bunch of starts, and then weed out the males before they start spewing pollen all over those young female buds and ruin their future potential to produce THC. Problem is, you need a couple of weeks before you sex them, and not all the females will thrive in any event, so you need lots more starts than the number of mature plants you hope to harvest later. If you want four mature plants, you need to first have a dozen or two dozen starts.

I’ve never seen the starts-to-mature plant ratio addressed anywhere. But my California friend was caught up in the failure of the justice system to make the distinction — he had something like 200 starts out in his garage, with the idea that after he sexed them, the young female plants would be transferred to someone else up in the hills to grow into maturity and later harvest. The cops had a practice of announcing the “street value” of the pot they seized, simplistically placing a value of something like $2,000/plant on it. And so after they kicked down his door at 5am, arrested him, and seized his starts, the DEA cops announced my friend had $400,000 worth of pot, which he could have otherwise sold on the street for exactly $0.

Interestingly, getting busted and being sent to prison was the best thing that could have happened to my friend, career-wise. See, when he wasn’t growing tiny cannabis plants out in the garage, he was a musician, and because he was sentenced to a minimum security prison, he was allowed to bring his instruments with him. Also in the minimum security prison were bankers and white collar criminals, and so my friend spent two-plus years playing music for a bunch of millionaires; after everyone served their sentences, those millionaire ex-cons hired my friend to provide music at their weddings and bar mitzvahs and corporate retreats and whatnot, and he did quite well for himself.

There’s of course a story to be told about how white people busted for pot experience the prison system versus how people of colour busted for pot and other drugs experience it.

But anyway, I don’t know how anyone can grow just four mature cannabis plants from seed without first having many more starts.

Later in the day yesterday, the NSLC issued two Request for Proposals. The first is for contractors to renovate the nine stores. The second is for armoured car and cash management services, presumably related to the online cannabis sales.

Oh, by the way, I illustrated this cannabis story with that particular photo in homage to the thousands of such similar illustrations for cannabis stories in newspapers and on news sites over the past decades. There seems to have been a standing tradition: if there’s a story about pot, use a photo of some Rasta dude smoking a giant, fat joint. It’s always been stupid, and it’s long past time to find better illustrations. Sure, the Rasta dudes smoke pot, but so do housewives, businesspeople, students, priests, cops, and pretty much everyone else. I’ll soon take my own photo for such illustrations.

4. Digby Neck quarry

Opposition to the proposed Digby Neck Quarry led to its rejection on environmental grounds. Photo: Council For Canadians

Reporting for the CBC, Paul Withers is staying on the Digby Neck Quarry story:

An American concrete company told the Federal Court of Canada Tuesday it “has no jurisdiction” to set aside a Nova Scotia-linked NAFTA award that could end up costing Canada more than $500 million.

Federal lawyers were in an Ottawa courtroom this week in a bid to throw out a 2015 international arbitration tribunal decision in favour of Bilcon, a Delaware-based company denied permission to open a quarry on Digby Neck, N.S.

Digby Neck was chosen by Bilcon as the future site of a 50-year stone quarry in 2002, only to have its proposal rejected by a joint federal-provincial review panel in 2008 due to environmental concerns.

Bilcon successfully sued Canada using a controversial investor protections clause in Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allows foreign companies to sue governments over unfair treatment.

Bilcon is now seeking more than $500 million in damages.

Five-hundred million dollars is of course a lot of money.

Beyond the money is “a test of sovereignty on whether Canada has the right to enforce its own environmental rules on foreign investors,” notes Withers.

I don’t have an opinion about the case one way or the other, but I wonder what happens to it should Trump drop out of NAFTA.

5. Promoting the south shore

The South Shore Regional Enterprise Network (SSREN) — whose mission is “to guide and navigate regional economic development while providing support to businesses,” and which “is funded by the Province of Nova Scotia and nine municipal units spanning from the Municipality of the District of Chester to and including the Municipality of the District of Shelbourne” — has issued a Request for Proposals to get a sense of how much it would take to promote the South Shore Lobster Crawl with pictures and video of the event and surrounding areas. The Lobster Crawl happens from February 2 to 19:

Lobster Crawl is a veritable feast of more than 50 Sip and Savour, Lobster Get-aways, Sporting Events, Art, Music, Heritage, Film, Local Shopping AND 13 different Lobster Rolls served up by resorts, restaurants, cafes, pubs and U-cooks from Barrington to Peggy’s Cove! 

Well, good luck, but it’s a tough sell to get tourists to come to Nova Scotia in February. Hence the photos and video. The RFP explains:

The successful vendor should have a “creative vision” and produce modern and engaging, high-quality footage. The content (both video and still) must engage the viewer with a high level of emotion to ensure that the individual “feels” connected and push the viewer decide to visit the South Shore.

Presumably those high-level emotions and are to be positive emotions and not of the “it’s so fucking cold!” or “I slipped on the damn ice again!” variety.

Yes, we pay Tourism Nova Scotia about $20 million a year to do this kind of thing, but the SSREN is going solo on this project because:

These videos and images will play an important role in the overall marketing strategy, they will require a “look and feel” that sets the South Shore apart from competitor regions and areas.

We don’t want tourists to do crazy stuff like go to Carnaval and then the Lobster Crawl, or be enticed by a Lobster Crawl – Ice Wine package deal.


Government

City

Wednesday

Halifax Common Master Plan Public Consultation Number 2 (Wednesday, 7pm, Spatz Theatre, Citadel High School) — if you can’t make it, there’s an online survey.

Thursday

Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — the committee will discuss pollution control on Lake Banook.

FCM 2018 Conference Advisory Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — absolutely nothing on the agenda.

Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — here’s the agenda.

Public Meeting – Transit Priority for Robie and Young Streets (Thursday, 6pm, Maritime Hall, Halifax Forum) — looking at putting a transit priority lane through the intersection.

Public Information Meeting – Case 21081 (Thursday, 7pm, St. Peter’s Anglican Hall, Halifax) — WSP Canada wants to build a four-storey, 40-unit apartment building at 59 Kearney Lake Road.

Province

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — looking at Income Assistance.

Thursday

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Voice Recital (Wednesday, 11:45, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Students of Marcia Swanston will perform.

Linking Protein Conformational Dynamics with “Real World” Drug Development in Neurodegenerative Disease and Cancer (Wednesday, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Derek Wilson from York University will speak.

One Man’s Quest to Bring Change to North Korea (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 1002, Rowe Management Building) — North Korean defector activist Jung Gwang-Il will speak on how he challenges the Kim regime.

Dragon Inn (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — King Hu’s 1967 film, in Chinese with English subtitles.

Thursday

GreyLit – the Missing Piece in Your Decision Making (Thursday, 9am, Cineplex OE Smith Theatre, IWK Children’s Building) — Cora Cole, CEO of GreyLit.Net, will present on the launch of her new platform for sharing research.

African Heritage Month (Thursday, 12:pm, LeMarchant Place Atrium) — a celebration followed by the raising of the Pan African/Marcus Garvey flag.

Montse Fuentes. Photo: stats.ncsu.edu

Ambient Air Pollution and Pregnancy (Thursday, 4pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Montse Fuentes from Virginia Commonwealth University will speak on “Nonparametric Spatial-Temporal Modelling of the Association Between Ambient Air Pollution and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes.”

Water on the Table (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — a screening of Liz Marshall’s 2015 documentary.


In the harbour

6am: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
6am: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algeciras, Spain
6am: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Mariel, Cuba
10:30am: Tomar, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
Noon: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
4:30pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport back to Pier 41
5:30pm: ZIM Monaco, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
9pm: Tomar, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea


Footnotes

I’m finishing up the editing of an important news story that will be published later today in both the Examiner and the Cape Breton Spectator.

I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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9 Comments

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  1. I was getting gas at the superstore and walked over to snap a few pics. For all the controversy there wasn’t much hoopla. If there had been there would have been no shortage of tv coverage. It’d make a good mooring.

  2. Mac Mackay has posted a good letter to Minister Le Blanc yesterday, displaying it on his blog Shipfax.
    In it he asks the minister to rename the Coast Guard vessel, Edward Cornwallis.
    Bravo Zulu

  3. I want a statue of Donald Marshall and a statue of Richard Preston.
    Two remarkable men.
    Side by side.
    For Marshall, because his wrongful conviction led to significant changes in the Canadian legal system; and for Preston, because of his contribution to the African Nova Scotian community in the 19th century.

  4. 1. it’s the NSLiquorC.
    2. Remember clothing sales in the NSLC? It’s NSLiquorC. Left to private retailers after failure.
    3. Remember bottle returns at the NSLC? It’s NSLiquorC. Left to private companies after failure.
    4. Now it is marijuana to be sold at the NSLC. It’s NSLiquorC. What do you think the next step will be as this has all the markings for another failed venture.

    This is a ripe opportunity to grow a Nova Scotian based industry and what do we get we might not be ready for the July 1st deadline. I imagine law enforcement will be out in full force to punish those nasty black market sellers.

    It’s NSLiquorC.

  5. Council made the correct decision. It wasn’t as tidy as it could have been, but that will be mostly forgotten in time. It was a good step in the right direction, but there are many more steps to be taken.

  6. It has long been a complaint of mine that when a public official changes his/her position media usually report it as a flip-flop. This ignores the fact that when people become more informed on a subject, most smart people use that new information to make more informed decisions. God forbid, some even change their mind. I don’t often agree with your point of view Tim, but I appreciate your candor. And I was delighted to see the way in which you wrote about the two men who changed their minds.

    1. That is a pet peeve of mine as well. Elected officials are criticized when they take rigid positions, and also when they adopt new positions based on more information. They are also criticized when they say they need more information before coming to a decision. It does not make sense to elect officials to make decisions for us and then treat them like that.

  7. With the need for economic development in our rural areas, it would make sense to allow entrepreneurs to set up shop, hire staff and sell legal pot under clear guidelines. But no, instead the government hands the job to the NSLC, which completely fails at it 6 months before it even starts, and creates no jobs at all. And the Minister responsible just shrugs his shoulders and acknowledges the failure.

    Another example of Nova Scotia not being able to get out of its own way.

  8. A good day indeed. Congratulations to council.

    I was watching “Eyes on the Prize” the other day. The extraordinary documentary of the civil rights movement in the US.

    Thurgood Marshall argued that change during 60s school integration battles should not be gradual. The argument was that you couldn’t overcome 300 years of prejudice overnight.

    He replied that the emancipation proclamation was announced ninety odd years before. He believed in gradualism and believed that 90 years was pretty gradual.

    President Eisenhower, was not willing to act, said moving too far too fast was making a mistake.

    60 years on puts Thurgood Marshall on the right side of history. Could it be we might finally be on the right side of history ourselves?

    Thank you Council.