In the harbour
1. Northern Pulp
“The Nova Scotia government is being accused of making ‘major concessions’ to the Northern Pulp mill when it agreed to ease environmental conditions this week,” reports Paul Withers:
On Feb. 8, the province raised a paper production cap by 20,000 tonnes and relaxed water usage restrictions in a deal that ended the mill’s legal challenge of its 2015 government industrial approval.
“The government has failed to even gently pressure this mill to meet standards being met by every other pulp mill in the country. That’s all we’re asking,” said Dave Gunning of the group Clean the Mill.
2. New Burnside bus garage?
The city this morning issued a tender for a “Functional Analysis Study” of a proposed Burnside Transit Centre Expansion. The document explains:
A new or expanded facility is required to accommodate transit operations growth. A study to evaluate the potential of expanding the Burnside Transit Centre has been identified in the 2015-16 Transit budget and the Annual Service Plan as a required step to allow for transit service expansion within five years.
3. DEAD WRONG
A head’s up: publication of Part 4 of the DEAD WRONG series will be pushed back from Saturday to Monday. I just need to take a bit more time on it, fact check a few details, tweak an audio recording, make sure the copy editing is complete, like that. Better to wait a couple of days and get it right than to rush it, and Monday’s a holiday in any event (sorry, American friends!). I think you’ll find it worth the wait.
DEAD WRONG is taking a lot of my time and attention. Thanks for understanding.
4. Catastrophe in the making
A proposed container terminal in Cape Breton now has a name.
The facility in Sydney will be known as Novaporte, while the adjacent logistics park will be called Novazone.
More than 800 hectares have been set aside for the development.
The harbour has been dredged down 16.5 metres to accommodate large container vessels.
Marlene Usher, chief executive officer for the Port of Sydney, said in a news release the terminal would be the greenest port in North America once completed.
This thing will fail spectacularly. It’s going to be beautifully catastrophic.
5. Visitor information centres
Looks like the remaining six visitor information centres will close, reports Michael Gorman.
Gorman has agreed to be interviewed for this week’s Examineradio, to be published tomorrow.
6. Entrapment and sex work
“A lawyer representing one of 27 men swept up in a downtown Sydney prostitution sting last year dubbed John Be Gone says police violated his client’s charter rights,” reports Joan Weeks:
T.J. McKeough argues the Cape Breton Regional Police operation, where two female officers posed as sex workers, lured his client into committing a crime. He also said the public naming of the men charged amounts to shaming.
McKeough said the operation involved two female officers. One would make eye contact with a prospective John, there would be communication, a price negotiated and then an arrest team would close in.
He said the operation violated his client’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“It’s akin, basically, to charging someone who is buying drugs instead of selling drugs now,” McKeough said. “We’re saying that the police have misused this ability in order to charge people who communicate for it.
“In this case, if you take the police out of the equation, you couldn’t really have charged these people with anything.”
Sex work is legal in Canada, so the criminalization of “communication” strikes me as silly, but I’ll leave it for legal experts to debate the entrapment issues.
The bigger point, however, is that sting operations, whether targeted at sex workers or johns, are bad public policy.
As the DEAD WRONG series has shown, the women and girls working the streets are at the extreme margins of our society.
Very often, these women and girls grew up in abusive households. “The attitude was children naturally suck on things,” one woman told me, as she went on to explain the horrific extent of familial sexual exploitation of two generations of girls. “We weren’t people; we were objects.”
I’ve learned of girls whose parents introduced them to drugs as a controlling mechanism in order to pimp them out. I’ve found girls who apparently never went to school at all.
The lives of these women and girls are unimaginable to most of us. Physical and sexual abuse are a constant. They don’t have the skills to navigate away from the streets. They don’t have the education, money, or connections to leave their world. Often, their families are a hindrance, not a help.
For that matter, the broader society is of no help either. We either neglect and ignore the marginalized women and girls doing sex work, or consider them a nuisance. We seem not to care much when they are attacked and murdered.
We should be discussing issues of sex, class, education, and poverty, and how we can provide people on the margins of society the basic supports they need. But these issues run very deep and threaten too many sacred cows, so we avoid addressing them.
Instead of addressing poverty, we send female cops out to entrap the old man down the street, and we chuckle over the resulting titillating copy in the media. (I don’t blame Weeks for it, but the CBC homepage link to her article is illustrated by a photo of a woman seen only from the crotch down.)
We ignore them, but the women and girls survive, as best they can. And sex work is part of that survival strategy.
When we crack down on street prostitution, we’re pushing these women and girls even further to the margins, even more into the shadows. They’ll now meet potential clients in sketchier locations, away from the downtown street lights, away from passersby who might help a fleeing or injured woman, away from the support the sex workers can give each other on the stroll.
We need to have adult conversations about decriminalization and/or legalization of sex work, and how we would go about that to best protect sex workers. I certainly can’t provide all the answers in a morning news post. I suggest we listen to the sex workers themselves, and ask them how to proceed.
In the meanwhile, the Cape Breton crackdown on johns might’ve pleased a few business owners and fed the gossip mill, but it did nothing at all to help the women and girls who work the street. On the contrary, it put them in increased danger.
1. Starr turbine demolished
David Jones notes that the turbine that powered the Starr ice skate factory in Dartmouth has been demolished, and comments:
The production of the Acme Spring Skate was made possible by the turbine housed below the Starr factory floor on Prince Albert Road. Unnecessarily, this impressive piece of machinery, a tangible and physical link to our past, has been broken up into pieces. It is sincerely hoped that the Starr turbine will re-appear (perhaps from a junkyard or warehouse) and be put on display for the general public. Our hockey history deserves better than to be thrown out with the trash.
2. New Brunswick doing it all wrong
Richard Starr surveys the abysmal track record of what he calls neoconservatism in New Brunswick. (I’d call the policies neoliberal, but let’s not get hung up counting angels on the head of a pin.)
New Brunswick, which has the additional challenge of providing dual French and English public sector services, proposes to meet the needs of the public with what amounts to 25% less human resource capacity than similar-sized provinces. It could be a harrowing experience for many New Brunswickers. And it will be interesting to see how voters respond to this latest neocon experiment. If the recent past is any guide, they’ll boot out the neocon Liberals a couple of years from now and turn things over to the neocon Conservatives on the other side of the house. The Conservatives will make a few tweaks before continuing with basically the same old thing. Nova Scotians should hope that the McNeil Liberals will see the New Brunswick experience as a cautionary tale, not as an example to be followed.
Laurent Le Pierres has learned a few things from walking the picket line during the Chronicle Herald strike, including this take-away:
Yet I cannot help but think of those whose shifts on the street are lonely and never-ending. They don’t have warm homes, loving families or pets to go back to at the end the day. For them, there is often little prospect of this all being over one day soon and returning to a semblance of what they once knew.
And while I am mechanically trudging up and down the street, I cannot help but think of the millions of refugees who have trekked across Europe over the past couple of years looking for a safer haven. Unlike us, they are not dressed for the weather. Unlike us, they are truly hungry and cold. Unlike us, many have faced deep hostility and incredible peril.
Over the past couple of weeks, in the midst of personal turmoil and so much uncertainty, I stand reassured. My eyes have been opened to the kind streak that runs across this province. Yes, we are beyond blessed to have the safety nets we do. But even when those fail, we have caring communities and organizations, as well as generous individuals to pick up the slack, not to mention a free press to speak up for the voiceless.
There is always some recourse for the marginalized in this country and even our conflicts are civilized. Imagine that.
4. Cranky letter of the day
In response to Warren Heiti’s “Snow justice” open letter to mayor Mike Savage (Reply All, January 28 issue):
Hey Warren, we have a real winter in this country every year, January through March, and last year was brutal. It’s easy to bitch and demand everything for nothing. You seem to expect that you can pedal your ass around town all year long regardless. If you have to walk to work for a couple of months, so be it. This is not Florida. I pay property taxes and own a motor vehicle which also costs me, and some of the money I pay goes toward services which you seem to expect for free. I’m sure the city and contractors try to do their best. You’re probably a 20-something who believes post-secondary education should be free.
I put my bicycle away for the winter; maybe you should too. Common sense should dictate that. Cycling in the winter months on city streets is foolish and could see you ending up injured or dead. Buy a bus pass or walk and get real. No pay, no say.
Larry Cooke, Halifax
No public meetings.
Veterans affairs (9am, One Government Place) — Vincent Joyce, founder of the Pictou County Military Heritage Museum will be congratulated.
Global stratotypes (11:30am, Milligan Room, 8th floor Life Sciences Centre) — Michael Melchin, from St. Francis Xavier University, will speak on “Quantifying resolution in the stratigraphic record and testing global stratotypes.”
POLARBEAR (1pm, Room 304, Sir James Dunn Building) — Darcy Barron, from UC Berkeley, will speak on “Cosmology from CMB Polarization with POLARBEAR and the Simons Array.”
Thesis defence, Nursing (1:30pm, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Kelly Ann Lackie will defend her thesis, “Examination of the Effects of Inter-Professional Collaboration on Health Care Provider and Team Productivity in Primary Health Care: An Important Consideration in Health Human Resources Planning.”
Thesis defence, Psychology (2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Amanda Green will defend her thesis, “Sex, Stress and Hormones: Investigating the Role of the Early Environment in Shaping Brain and Behaviour Changes Linked to Neuropsychiatric Disorders.”
Greening the Embryo (3:30pm, 5th Floor Biology Lounge, Life Sciences Centre) — Cory Bishop, from St. Francis Xavier University, will speak on “Greening the Embryo: an enigmatic symbiosis between unicellular green algae and some North American Amphibians.” Bring your own amphibian.
One Simple Question (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — a screening of the 2013 film:
An uncertain sailing journey to find an iceberg in the North Atlantic aboard a small sailboat.
A couple looking for adventure, challenge themselves to simplify their lives by living aboard a small sailboat. Their quest brings them lessons in the joy of a deliberate life, a greater understanding of nature and a new path in the pursuit of happiness and purpose.
Insight from seasoned voyagers Lin & Larry Pardey, Pam Wall, John Neal, Nigel Calder, John Krestschmer, Yves Gelinas, George Day, Beth Leonard and more…
Also learn about the journey of icebergs, and glaciers in Greenland from scientists studying the ice and the impacts it has on our global climate.
The voyage takes them to Maine, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, St. Pierre. The boat is a Bristol Channel Cutter 28. Crew aboard includes a cat. Automobile is a VW TDI.
The (US) National Science Foundation is holding a press conference today about the search for gravitational waves. This could be a very big deal in the world of science.
In the harbour
OOCL Antwerp sails to New York
Hollandia sails to sea
Palmerton sails to sea
Another day of writing.
Just saw news footage of our beloved Premier complaining to the Chamber of Commerce about how resistant people are to his change (neoliberal) agenda.
What an presumptuous asshole. This address shows us who he is governing for.
Another one term government? Let’s hope so.
What’s the use when voting the bums out just votes different bums back in.
My imagined government conversation on Northern Pulp:
P = Premier M=Minister L=Legal NP=Northern Pulp
P: This is a goddamn mess! What are our options, Legal?
L: Let the court case go forward and facts on both sides come out: (1) If we haven’t enforced, we look bad; (2 If our standards are upheld it’ll be a Pyrrhic victory if NP pulls out; (3) If NP wins, they establish a precedent that’s virtually unassailable in trying to ever get another similar industry to come in and take over their plant if/when they leave, given challenges in their industry and the economy in general. And that’s assuming we could buy their white elephant plant, or reclaim assets given past government assistance.
P: Nothing else?
L: Yeah, a twist on poison pill; change the regulations enough that NP drops the lawsuit and stays.
M: Wow, that’s risky. People would see that for what it is, caving. And what does it do for our environmental credibility? This isn’t like it was twenty years ago; people have access to more information now, and there are vocal activists. And there’s environmental harm happening.
L: Alleged harm, M, but yeah, all true concerns. Multiple risks, legal and populist.
P: Here’s the goddamn bottom line: what are we going to do with all the unemployed who’d result from loss of that plant? They’re in an economically disadvantaged area with little to no hope of retraining … and where’d they get subsequent employment anyway? Or wages anywhere near? And we’d be a one-term government just like the NDP. Fix the regs and we’ll try to manage the political fallout.
M: But how do we spin the environmental aspect?
P: Put some monitoring clauses in and hope we don’t have serious scrutiny. The press won’t follow it closely, long-term, and the general population don’t pay much attention to activists. Ha ha, I just read a comment where they were called green freaks and I’ve read other comments displaying attitudes I grew up with, basically, ‘damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead for employment at any cost, we’ll be dead and gone, let someone else worry about it.’ Fix this; I don’t want us to be a one-term government. Negative issues are adding up.
“This thing will fail spectacularly. It’s going to be beautifully catastrophic”
The money is in the process not the completion When it fails, just start anew with something else and make more money..
The anecdote about familial exploitation of really hits home. If I go back just one generation in my own family (working class, uneducated, lapsed Catholics on both sides), I can think of numerous examples of similar actions and attitudes amongst older relatives (men and women). If I go back another generation, some of the stories I’ve heard make me feel ill today, even though they recount things that happened 40, 50, or more years ago.
As a younger person, I was self-conscious about all of this because I thought my recent ancestors must have been uniquely depraved. But I’ve since spoken to many others who have similar stories to tell from their own family histories.
Unfortunately, all of that has led me to even more uncomfortable conclusions: that sexual abuse and exploitation of children were unspoken social norms in this province not so very long ago (certainly in low SES communities but probably elsewhere); and that a combination of excuse-making, denial, wilful ignorance, and victim-blaming were common strategies to avoid facing up to the ugly implications of this.
When I think about all of this I can’t help but be amazed that so many of my same-age peers have managed to become functional, decent (and decidedly undepraved) human beings.
At the same time, I have more than a little empathy for those who’ve been less fortunate. I’m grateful to you for drawing attention to some of these issues through the DEAD WRONG series and, in particular, for respecting your subjects as real people with profound personal problems (rather than nameless, faceless stand-ins for social problems).
For that letter: unless he only drives on provincial highways, *everyone* pays for the roads that he uses. He sounds like someone who went to school back when you could work during the summer and pay for tuition, board, and beer money, moved to the suburbs (as any real “taxpayer” would), and looks down on everyone who doesn’t live like him.
Excellent commentary on sex work, Tim. The additionally troubling part of the Sydney story (probably across the country too) is that the vast majority of the sex workers are Aboriginal. http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1314194-sydney-prostitution-data-%E2%80%98not-surprising%E2%80%99-to-native-leader
“You look at the breakdowns right across the country: equality of education and opportunity. These are descendants of the people who attended residential schools. So what does that say?”
Re: the Cranky Letter
No pay, no say?
You’re right – this isn’t Florida – it’s Canada: where people pay taxes for the benefit of all – not just those who pay them.
That cranky letter is AMAZING. Warren is my hero.
Ugh. That Cranky Letter shows how awful the attitude is that people have towards cyclists in Halifax. I don’t cycle here anymore because I was yelled at and threatened too many times when I biked years ago. These kinds of attitudes haven’t changed at all, and need to go.
Ah yes, the entitlement of those who drive. I’m sure that there are lots of folks in this city who pay taxes and don’t drive a motorized vehicle; or do but also walk, bike, take transit, etc.
It’s similar too “Get off my lawn.”
So after reading the cranky letter, I went online to check my tax requirements. Also looked at my last tax statement. No where can I find any clause which states that since I pay taxes I am entitled to be a self entitled moron, nor does it say anywhere that I am permitted to hog the road, force cyclists off the road, slam into pedestrians just because the cross walk light is not blinking green, or any of the other things guys like this seem to spout endlessly. If there is a tax I can pay to allow me to do that, I have not been able to find it.