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News

1. Flight 624

Photo: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

During a heavy snowstorm early Sunday morning, Air Canada Flight 624, with 138 people on board, crashed into the runway at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Incredibly, no one was killed, although 23 people were taken to the hospital.

A passenger told the CBC’s Preston Mulligan that the plane was on a holding pattern, circling in the Windsor area while waiting for visibility to increase to a half mile. After a half an hour, the pilot told the passengers he would attempt a landing.

Transportation Safety Board investigator Mike Cunningham said yesterday that the Airbus A320 hit an antenna array and a power line, which caused the plane to lose its landing gear. The plane hit the ground “1,100 feet short of the runway,” and then skidded onto the runway. In the process, the plane lost its nose cone and an engine. Photos show a wing is mostly detached.

Passengers recounted the horrifying landing to the CBC and the Chronicle Herald.

There’s a false debate about whether to use the term “crash landing” or Air Canada’s euphemism “hard landing.” But if I pulled my Honda into my driveway 1,000 feet too soon and demolished my neighbour’s porch and my passengers had to be taken to the hospital, no one would call it a “hard parking job”; they’d correctly say I “crashed.”

As with police reports of pedestrians getting run down by cars, the official line that no one on the plane suffered “life threatening injuries” somehow gets understood in the public mind that “no one was hurt” (see, for example, comments on this CBC article). I get that officials are trying to convey to the public that no one was immediately killed in the crash, but how can some PR person possibly know that injuries are non-life threatening?

It’s far too soon to know what caused the crash or to assign blame. Investigations into airplane crashes are exhaustive, and after some months we’ll know everything we could possibly want to know about this flight. Still, that was one hell of a snowfall Sunday morning.

No doubt the crash will dominate local media for the foreseeable future.

2. Unfair trade allegations

It’s interesting how bureaucrats and politicians in Nova Scotia think the tax breaks and subsidies they give to corporations happen in a vacuum and have no effect outside this province.

Already we’ve seen that a $124.5-million “incentive package” the province of Nova Scotia is giving to the Pacific West Commercial Corp. to operate the Port Hawkesbury mill has made it politically impossible for Maine governor Paul LePage, who is presiding over layoffs at competing mills in that state, to follow through with $5 million in financing he had promised for the Yarmouth ferry.

Now, in what should be no surprise to anyone, US paper firms Madison Paper Industries and Verso Corp. have told the United States International Trade Commission that the Port Hawkesbury subsidies unfairly undermine the competitive marketplace, reports the Chronicle Herald’s Aaron Beswick:

[The complaint] is asking the American trade commission to place tariffs on imports of Canadian supercalendered paper — a glossy product used in magazines and calendars — to limit their competitiveness in the United States market. A preliminary injury inquiry will be held April 13 to decide whether to continue with an investigation.

[…]

As well, the coalition alleges — but admits that it cannot prove — that the province is charging the mill below-value stumpage rates for timber. Those rates are redacted in the 2012 forest utilization agreement between the province and the mill that gave the mill management control over all Crown land in northeastern Nova Scotia.

Beyond the direct political retaliation from other jurisdictions and competitors in the industry, corporate subsidies have a debilitating long-term effect, as in the future every firm wanting to do business in Nova Scotia will demand the same sort of deals past companies have received.

We’re being played for suckers.

3. Pedestrian struck by driver

Police release from last night:

On March 29, at 1120 a.m., Halifax Regional Police responded to a pedestrian and motor vehicle collision at the intersection of Robie Street and Cunard Street in Halifax.

A  40-year-old woman was crossing Cunard Street in a marked crosswalk with her two young children, age 6 and 10. She was struck by a car that was turning left from Cunard Street onto Robie Street. She was taken to hospital for assessment, the children were not injured.

The 19-year-old female driver was issued a Summary Offence ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.


Views

1. Easter

Photo: Stephen Archibald

In that giant Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse that Stephen Archibald calls home, he’s squirrelled away “some bits of material culture I bring out for an hour or two on Easter, if I remember.”

2. Quebec power

Saturday, I quoted Peggy Cameron asking, “If NSP can collaborate on grid interconnection with NB Power why aren’t we buying electricity from HydroQuebec and shutting down coal-fired generating plants?” Over the weekend, Parker Donham set out to provide an answer to that question:

It’s a good question with a perfectly reasonable answer. The transmission line that connects Amherst NS and Moncton NB is very small. The west-to-east transmission line that brings electricity to Moncton and PEI is bigger, but full to capacity.

So the combination of limited capacity east of Moncton and congestion west of Moncton means there is no transmission capacity available to bring significant quantities of electricity from Quebec to NS. To buy power from Quebec, ratepayers in NS would have to pay for construction of a massive transmission line through two other provinces.

Once built, such a transmission line would make NS Power a captive customer of Hydro Quebec. As Joey Smallwood discovered at Churchill Falls, that is a dreadful position to find yourself in.

Donham goes on to explain some differences in regulations concerning transmission of power in the US and Canada.

3. Subsidies for corporations

Dan Leger looks at the the Nova Scotian payroll rebate for multi-billion dollar RBC to locate a cheque processing centre in Bedford, a New Brunswick payroll rebate for multi-billion dollar Grupo Bimbo to establish a bakery in that province just as the operation in this province is closed, and the the big tax break the city of Halifax is handing to the billionaire Irvings and concludes that:

Sometimes it feels like the business development minds at the city and the province can’t see over the snow banks, so they stick with what they know. Ad hoc solutions and odd business arrangements should be the exception, not the norm.


Government

City

Executive Standing Committee (10am, City Hall)—the committee will look at tweaking the governance structure of Halifax Water. This has been kicking around for a few months, but I notice that councillor Steve Craig’s request that Halifax Water board meetings be opened to the public has somehow been ignored.

Province

Law Amendments (1pm, Province House)—the committee will look at Bill No. 69, the Health Authorities Act.


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Thesis defence, Biomedical Engineering (Monday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building)—PhD candidate Arash Momeni Boroujeni will defend his thesis, “Developing An Injectable In-Situ-Forming Calcium Polyphosphate System As A Hemostatic Agent.”

Lessons Learned from the War on Science (Monday, 7:30pm, Museum of Natural History Auditorium)—Thomas Duck will review the history and future of science in Canada.

Tuesday

Tracking global change in the oceans (Tuesday, 11:30am, LSC, Psychology Wing, Room 5263)—Boris Worm will talk.


Noticed

What the heck:

Look how much leg room they had back in the ’70s.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8am Monday. Map: marinetraffic.com

Atlantic Compass, ro-ro container, Norfolk to Fairview Cove West, then sails to sea
Atlantic Navigator, ro-ro cargo, Hull, England to Fairview Cove East, then sails to sea

Mac Mackay thinks there may have been an oil spill Saturday at the dockyard:

No one is saying why, but the bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouthspent a long time alongside the Dutch sub Bruinvis at HMC Dockyard Friday. An operation of a few hours, normally, took all day. Reports that the entire November Charlie camber was boomed off have also reached me, with suggestions of feverish activity. Maybe an oops.


Footnotes

Back to the grind today. I have a couple of articles from Moira Donovan to put up, and my own council preview as well.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Airline stuff: read a comment about the passengers describing a big light outside the plane before it landed; not sure if that is implying that the power was out before the crash. Comment is by a Tim Clark:

    http://globalnews.ca/news/1909898/breaking-air-canada-plane-hard-landing-on-runway-at-halifax-airport/

    The first thought that popped into my head re: all power out at the airport; virus install upon boot up. Maybe setting the stage for a false flag event…so that C-51 gets bullied through….*sigh*

  2. I agree fully that this was a crash, not an incident nor a hard landing. However, if one person had died, the media would be calling it a crash. As for the link to the Airplane movie—thumbs down.

    Roy Ellis

  3. You are suggesting that some injuries may be more serious than indicated in media reports, while linking to an airplane joke movie? I don’t get it. For some reason I’m finding that in questionable taste, also in light of the recent mass murder by a commercial airline pilot in Europe.

  4. RE: AIR CANADA PLANE CRASH

    WAS MONEY TO BLAME in the recent Air Bus crash in Halifax? Did “corporate” order the plane to land to avoid rebates to passengers and money lost on fuel and accommodations in having to divert the plane to land where it was safer? Just asking?

  5. According to the Aviation Herald, ” the aircraft touched down about 1100feet/335 meters short of and below the runway threshold, clipped a powerline and approach light about 250 meters short of the runway, climbed the embankment up to the runway level and came to a stop past the threshold of the runway near taxiway B about 1100 feet/335 meters down the runway” As reported here: http://avherald.com/h?article=483e7337&opt=0

    There is mote in that report that would require pilot or air controller training to decipher properly (it was the longer runway, but the type of assisted landing electronics is apparently different from the other runway).

    But lost in all this is why the airport went dark and stayed dark. This is supposed to be an International Airport. This is not Deer Lake International dragstrip. How is it that there was no functioning electrical generation backup? Is there some flaw in our local psyche that causes us to not have our backup systems for critical infrastructure in readiness for the very reasons they were installed? I am reminded by a friend that this is reminiscent of recent history around the Halifax Hospitals problems with malfunctioning electrical backup.

    Airports and hospitals left unprotected, but I bet the backup system for the Casino works.

    1. Murphy’s law is wrong. Whatever can go wrong usually does not, and people become complacent. We take shortcuts (we speed, we don’t make a full stop at a 4-way, we don’t test the generator under heavy load conditions) and nothing bad happens. Then when things do go wrong, we are not prepared.

    2. Late to this but, I find it pretty ironic (and sad) that the berm and light the airplane hit at the end of the run way was added after the last crash prompted the airport to extend the runway.

      1. I’m told the antenna array must be directly under the flight path, and the berm is to give it the proper height, what’s supposed to be the right distance under a passing airplane. There’s the same set up at the other end of the runway, except instead of a berm the antenna array is supported on an elevated metal stand.

  6. Regarding the Port Hawkesbury trade issue: Well, for once NAFTA may actually save us from ourselves. The simple fact is that we are harvesting way too much wood fiber across the province. It would be interesting to know if DNR actually has numbers and estimates of how much wood fiber is left and how long before the supply is depleted. We have already seen hardwood manufacturers close down for lack of raw materials. Between the “sustainable” NSP bio-mass generator, Northern Pulp in Pictou, the Port Hawkesbury paper mill and the below the radar wood chip shipments to China, I can’t imagine that DNR won’t be pushing for whole tree harvesting any day now. Now that we have a trade deal with China – and due to the precedent being set by the NAFTA panel regarding the Digby Neck quarry – I can see a day coming where we will be forced to continue shipping fiber to China even if a provincial environmental panel says no. Don’t you just love free trade?

    1. I wonder how soon the NS Gov will sell off the Bowatter land (at a loss, of course!) to some entity just shipping full trees out-of-province as fast as they can. At least the cutting *was* limited to the apparently extinguished demand for newsprint.

      Oh, and when can but a citizen cross the Mersy river bridge and actually access the Tobeatic?

  7. In most disaster recovery training, communications people receive information like number of people injured, etc, directly from the scene commander and report what they have heard. Thus, the medical responders were likely (or should have been) the source of the information that “23 people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.” The PR team would not likely embellish that language.

    1. I’ve never seen the phrase “non-life threatening injuries” attributed to anyone at all. It’s just a fact, pulled from the ether.

      1. Charlene is right. Tim is being silly. “Non-life-threatening” is useful information, and standard nomenclature when—you know—a newsworthy incident hurts people badly enough that they are taken to hospital but not badly enough that they are likely to succumb to their injuries. Broken arms vs. massive head trauma. This helps people understand the seriousness of the incident, or one element of its seriousness.

        1. But in the case of pedestrians, anyway, no one ever says, “hey, she’s not going to die, but we had to amputate two legs,” or whatever. A reader told me that someone close to him in fact died, just weeks after suffering from the “non-life threatening injuries” police reported after she was hit by a car. And yes, from those injuries, not something else.

          1. In the context of calling this a hard landing, and early reports stating the plane skidded off the runway, the use of “non-life threatening” injuries seems like part of deliberate efforts to downplay the “landing incident” as at least one spokesman called it. I can appreciate not wanting to exaggerate the event, but if the extent of injuries or cause of accident are not known, the media should be more neutral. People can be very badly hurt, or permanently disabled, with non-life threatening injuries. That may be the correct term for first-responders, but it is misleading for the media to use it. BTW, today’s online Toronto Star includes this sub-head: “flight from Toronto ended early Sunday with a bump, but no serious injuries, as the plane slid off the runway at Stanfield International Airport.”