News

1. Fallout from Atlantic Gold event

Mining Journal explains itself as follows:

Founded in 1835, Mining Journal is the world’s most respected mining investment and business title, covering all aspects of the industry, from grass-roots exploration, through financing and development, and production and marketing. It uniquely combines this high-level investment and finance coverage with in-depth reporting on the multi-billion-dollar mining technology and services sector.

Mining Journal packs news, exclusive interviews, surveys, and opinions from various experts and the industry’s best columnists, market trend data, financial information and news of business development opportunities into the industry’s best website and easy-to-read journal.

Yesterday, Mining Journal published an article with the headline “Atlantic joy sours from community gaffe; Atlantic Gold’s deal with Australian gold producer St Barbara could be under threat before the ink is dry following a disastrous public meeting to talk about tailings“:

The May 23 meeting was convened by Atlantic to share with local communities its plans for tailings storage at its proposed Cochrane Hill mine in Nova Scotia, Canada, and to provide an opportunity for locals to ask questions of a panel of experts. With so many people wanting to participate the company agreed to hold an evening meeting in addition to the original matinee.

However, a routine public outreach activity descended into notoriety after heavy-handed security and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer wrestled local John Perkins to the ground during the second event after forcibly rejecting him on the grounds that he participated in the first session.

Witnesses claim he and a handful of others that participated in the first meeting — including Halifax Examiner journalist Joan Baxter who documented it all — received permission to attend the second meeting if there was space, which there was.

As a result, the St Mary’s River Association (SMRA) says Atlantic has lost its social licence to operate and called on environment minister Gordon Wilson to delay approval of the transfer of all mining rights from Atlantic to St Barbara.

2. Halifax police use Stingrays

CTV reporter Bill Dicks has discovered that the Halifax police are using Stingrays:

[A]fter a wait of nearly three years, [Halifax] municipal police are now publicly admitting they use cellphone-mining technology.

Originally requested in August 2016, CTV News was told by Halifax Regional Police they don’t publicly discuss their investigative techniques, but will pursue all avenues necessary that conform to “required judicial authorizations.”

A short time later, a request for information on cellphone surveillance devices was put into the Information Access and Privacy administrator with the Halifax Regional Police.

That request was denied on several grounds including that “disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the effectiveness of investigative techniques or procedures currently used…”

A complaint was then filed by CTV News with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia.

After a request for information from that office, Halifax Regional Police admitted in a very brief response that they do use Stingray devices.

That’s important work by Dicks. Good on staying on the story.

Stingray is a brand name for an international mobile subscriber identity-catcher, or IMSI catcher. Last year, Vice reporter Kieran Delamont explored the problematic privacy civil liberties issues involved in its use by police:

IMSI catchers have been criticized because they don’t target specific suspects, and instead trick every cell phone within range to connect to the device and recording the unique identifier and location of each device on police servers.

Trying to track a cell device is a bit like a game of Operation: In an ideal situation, police are able to home in on the individual device with a high degree of precision, and the tracking is limited to that specific cell phone user. The use of IMSI catchers, on the other hand, is a bit like turning the board upside down, shaking all the pieces loose and sifting through for the one you want.

IMSI catchers don’t necessarily work by targeting single cell phones, but rather by casting a wide ‘spoofing’ net that connects all devices within a given range, meaning that the device metadata of innocent passersby could be, and often is, swept up by the device. (The RCMP has stated publicly that their IMSI catchers only collect metadata, and not the content of communications, and that their devices aren’t actually capable of collecting that data. But the technology to intercept and even suppress communications does exist on the IMSI catcher market.)

For innocent Canadians—people of no interest to law enforcement officers using the device—much of that data remains on a server somewhere. The RCMP, in a briefing last year, suggested that they need to preserve all the data, since it forms part of the evidentiary record. “The data, once it is seized lawfully to the judge, will be secured and locked up for criminal court purposes. It will not be accessed, other than the target information, again,” said the RCMP in a technical briefing in April 2017.

That, says McPhail, should be cause for concern, since it’s not immediately clear what happens to all that extra data that is collected. “It’s about secondary uses, it’s about the safety of all that personal information,” she told VICE News. “Who keeps it, how long it’s stored, whether it’s deleted—there’s no reason why data storage retention and deletion policy couldn’t be released.”

We at the Examiner have been studiously examining search warrant applications made by the police to the courts, and have never found an instance of a request to use the Stingray. In other words, the police appear to be using warrantless searches against completely innocent people suspected of no crime.

This should concern us, to put it mildly.

3. ACOA losses

The Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency (ACOA) has filed claims totalling over $1.25 million against two companies.

The first claim is against Weymouth-based Organic Management Solutions, one of the many companies that failed during the general collapse of the mink industry in southwestern Nova Scotia. Organic Management is operated by Jonathan Mullen, who also operated the associated Victory Farms Inc. and Jonathan Mullen Mink Ranch Limited, both of which went through a bankruptcy court-ordered restructuring in 2016.

In 2013, ACOA provided a half-million dollar loan to Organic Management for “pelletizing mink manure for use as fertilizer.” The company made “various payments” towards the loan but its last payment was on February 1, 2016. ACOA says the amount owing is $402,144.30 in principal plus $29,374.95, for a total of $431.519.25.

The second ACOA claim is against Ontario-based gShift Labs, Inc., which in 2016 took over the operations of InNetwork. Of course there’s a Peter Moreira article about the company:

GShift was founded in 2009 by Krista LaRiviere and Chris Adams to enhance search engine optimization through big data and predictive analytics. It has now chosen to merge with InNetwork, which uses a network of influencers to help clients amplify their marketing efforts.

“The marketing tech stack is ripe for consolidation as customers are demanding single sign on platforms with integrated functionality,” said InNetwork CEO and Founder Chris Keevill in an email Monday night. “With gShift, together we begin to line up the integrated content marketing functionality of what we are calling Content Performance Cloud.”

With offices in Halifax and Toronto, InNetwork vets and approves influencers to ensure that they are bona fide opinion leaders. It then uses this network of influencers to help clients with their marketing.

It beta-tested the product with about six Canadian customers in 2014 and has since been working with many more paying customers.

In 2013, InNetwork received seed funding of $250,000 from Innovacorp and $240,000 from a group of angels led by East Valley Ventures Chair Gerry Pond, who became chair of the board. InNetwork had been trying to raise money through Brightspark Ventures of Toronto since last summer, but Keevill said the team “paused the Brightspark round as we got closer to closing this transaction.”

“Opinion leaders,” eh? What could possibly go wrong?

Moreira failed to mention the two rather large ACOA loans to InNetwork. Seems kind of a major point to miss in an article about tech start-ups, but maybe Moreira isn’t so interested in fully informing the reader.

The first ACOA loan, made in February 2013, was for $350,000; it was then bumped up to $490,000 in August 2013. The loan was for “service creation, design and marketing for social media software application,” whatever that means.

The second ACOA loan, made in April 2014, was for $250,000; it was then bumped up to $500,000 in October 2016. That loan was for, and try not to laugh here, “boost recruiting influencers and software developers.”

Along the way, InNetwork got other ACOA financing, including a 2013 grant of $50,000 to “Hire an Influence Relationship Manager” and a 2014 grant of $50,000 to “Hire Senior R&D Architect/Developer.”

Alas, there appears to be no real money in the “influence relationship” biz, possibly because it was all bullshit from the get-go, and so gShift defaulted on the loans in August 2018.

Between the two loans, ACOA says gShift owes $789,812.02 in principal and $29,487.82, plus $150 for two NSF fees (they must use Scotiabank), for a total of $819,456.84.

4. First Angel Network

By the way, related to the above item, in March the First Angel Network collapsed. The news was first reported by Betakit:

First Angel Network Association (FAN), a not-for-profit focused on Atlantic Canada’s early-stage tech ecosystem since 2005, is shutting down.

In an email obtained by BetaKit, sent to its network by Brian Lowe, co-founder and director of FAN, the organization it will shut down its operations, effective March 31. No reasons were given for the closure in the statement, simply stating that “the First Angel Network is concluding its work and we look forward to seeing the next generation of angel investors create new networks to support Atlantic Canada.”

In the past, FAN has received funding through ACOA, and IRAP. The organization touts itself as space for education and networking opportunities, as well as an angel investor that “provides entrepreneurs and investors with a confidential, disciplined, high-quality private equity investment experience.”

Non-profit, eh? That’s a good thing, right?

Not so fast. David Crow called bullshit on FAN way back in 2013:

However, the region [Atlantic Canada] also is a small community that has it’s [sic] own culture and politics. Those small town politics have allowed nepotism and crony capitalism to seep in and it has allowed terrible deal structures to be put upon unsuspecting founders and companies. This pisses me off!

When we started StartupNorth we promised ourselves we would always stick up for founders and startups when it mattered. We continue to  support, educate and connect startups and founders with other founders, with capital, with new ideas and educational resources. We need to identify the BULLSHIT that is being allow to pass in Atlantic Canada as supporting entrepreneurs so that the amazing investors that are there don’t have to compete with a backwards and ill-conceived entity.

Who? I’m talking about First Angel Network (FAN). Why? Here is an example of the full deal they present to entrepreneurs:

  1. Startups apply to pitch the non-profit FAN which is funded and supported by ACOA and others.
    • Most of this funding goes to pay salaries as well as to cover travel expenses.
  2. If a startup is selected to pitch FAN, the startup must agree to pay $3000 to the non-profit  FAN.
  3. Startups MUST also sign a “Consulting Agreement” with a for-profit consulting company owned by Ross Finlay and Brian Lowe.
    • You can NOT pitch the non-profit UNLESS you sign the consulting agreement with the for-profit company.
  4. Startups then pitch the non-profit and if successful get a deal done
  5. If a deal is done, the consulting agreement gives the for-profit shell company and FAN organizers 8% of the total proceeds of the transaction
    • 4% in stock directly to Ross Finlay and Brian Lowe (not the consulting company, directly to the individuals)
    • 4% in cash to the consulting company

This is so wrong! On so many different levels. This is worse than pay to pitch.

[emphases in original]

Understand what happened here. Finlay and Lowe established a non-profit, which was funded in part by ACOA, in order to invest in start-ups, and then required the start-ups to pay consulting fees to their for-profit companies.

And boy howdy were they getting that ACOA money. Here’s a list:

• June 1, 2006: $199,890 grant for “Equity Awareness education program for SMEs.”

• January 1, 2008: $448,100 grant for “Growth and permanency of the First Angel Network.”

• January 31, 2010: $20,250 grant for “United Kingdom Investment and Trade Mission.”

• February 1, 2011: $475,421 grant for “Angel capital development project.”

• October 24, 2012: $15,000 grant for “Incoming experts to National Angel Capital Organization Conference (First Angel Network).”

• March 1, 2013: $257,940 grant for “Atlantic Canadian SME support – combining capital and experience.”

• March 1, 2014: $345,174 grant, subsequently increased to $410,101, and then increased again to $448,918, for “Angel investing and supporting the growth of the innov. and commercialization ecosystem.” I note that the last increase in grant money came just as a $43,875 loan was cancelled, and am guessing that the loan was rolled into the larger grant.

• July 1, 2016: $1,019,860 grant, subsequently decreased to $765,960, and then decreased again to $492,935, for “Support the growth and development of angel investors in Atlantic Canada.”

If you’re counting, that’s $2,358,454 in public money granted from ACOA to FAN, a “non-profit” organization that was at least in part used to personally enrich Brian Lowe and Ross Finlay .

ACOA seems to have caught on that something wasn’t quite right at FAN — it took long enough, but what are you going to do? — and therefore drastically cut back the funding on that last grant, which had a completion date of June 30, 2018.

To his credit, Moreira gave more details of the collapse of FAN, albeit he spun it as positively as he could:

The move comes a little more than a year after one of its portfolio companies launched a lawsuit against FAN and others. Though Lowe and Finlay believe the suit is no longer active, they admit the case had an impact on the group.

“Our board felt it was time,” said Lowe in an interview on Sunday. “Our contract with ACOA [the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency] ended last June 30, and now … we would like to see other angel groups grow up in the Atlantic region.”

Then early last year, Fredericton-based KnowCharge launched a law suit against FAN, Finlay, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and two former NBIF officers. FAN and NBIF were investors in KnowCharge, which sought damages for actions it said adversely impacted the company.

Neither FAN nor NBIF have commented on the case for several months, though Finlay said Sunday he now believes there is no longer any litigation open against either of the funding bodies or their officers. He plans to meet with his lawyers this week to confirm that the case is over.

When the case was filed, Finlay and Lowe asked FAN members to contribute to a defence fund, which they did. Finlay and Lowe said they felt they could not then ask FAN backers to buy new memberships in 2018, so for the past several months FAN has not had a membership base.

I’m in court today on other matters and will see if I can find the lawsuit.

Someone once said that the “economic development” field is rife with grifters. Oh yeah, that was me.


Views

1. Donkey cases

Halifax lawyer Barbara Darby went through Canadian case law to find references to donkeys, and makes every conceivable joke about asses, before veering off into a downright surreal aside about amputation. But one of the cases she found was in Quebec:

The Anglican Church got into it with CHOI-FM noon-hour radio hosts André Arthur and Alexandre Leblond. Arthur and Leblond reported that the Church in Old Quebec was mistreating a donkey (Aldo) and goat (Holly) that were kept on the property. They further stated that the Church had the ghost of a dead donkey in its recent past.

In another broadcast, the animals were reported to be kept outside in -27 C temperatures and left to eat styrofoam cups. Leblond had gone “under cover” to the Church, posing as a curious CEGEP student, using a false name. After the broadcast, the Church offered the station evidence of its adequate care of the animals, and while certainly donkeys had died over time, it was not recent:

In fact, the Anglican Church had never had a second donkey. Leblond had confused this with the fact that the Recollects religious order had brought with them two donkeys to New France in 1632.

The Broadcast Standards Council dealt with the Church’s complaint (CHOI-FM re Arthur le midi, 2016 CBSC 8 (CanLII)) and found the broadcaster to have breached its Code of Ethics. The broadcaster was ordered to issue the following statement:

CHOI-FM wrongfully accused the Anglican Church of Québec of mistreating animals (a donkey and a goat) based on incomplete information and information obtained clandestinely.

Arthur’s show was cancelled and his “association” with the station “ended.”

You do not mess with the Church and its donkey. For heaven’s sake, the animals hosted a “multicultural Christmas sing-a-long” later that year, at which “Holly knocked down a sign in order to eat the Christmas greenery around it.”

The animals had become tourist attractions.  According to their keeper, Holly would escape regularly but when people located her, “They don’t think ‘Oh my God, a goat in old Quebec’ — they just bring her back.” The creatures went to greener pastures in 2017.


Government

City

Tuesday

No public meetings today or Wednesday.

Province

Tuesday

Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — discussion of “Women’s Economic Security in Nova Scotia,” but only the right kind of women, not the women working minimum wage jobs or collecting social assistance — those women will continued to be screwed.

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — Tina Hennigar from NOW Lunenburg County will be talking about Rural Economic Development.

Wednesday

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Spring Convocation, morning ceremony (Tuesday, 9am, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — for graduates in the Faculties of Architecture & Planning, Dentistry and Graduate Studies.

Thesis defence, Interdisciplinary PhD Program (Tuesday, 10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Colin Conrad will defend “A Neurophysiological Study of the Impact of Mind Wandering during Online Lectures.”

Spring Convocation, early afternoon ceremony (Tuesday, 12:30pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — for graduates in the Faculties of Computer Science and Graduate Studies.

Dalhousie University Club AGM (Tuesday, 4pm, dining room) — social to follow.

Wednesday

Spring Convocation, morning ceremony (Wednesday, 9am, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — for graduates in the Faculties of Engineering and Graduate Studies.

Spring Convocation, early afternoon ceremony (Wednesday, 12:30pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — for graduates in the Faculties of Engineering and Graduate Studies.

Autotaxin-LPA signalling contributes to obesity-induced insulin resistance in muscle and impairs mitochondrial metabolism (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Kenneth D’Souza will talk.

Spring Convocation, late afternoon ceremony (Wednesday, 4pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — for graduates in the Faculties of Engineering and Graduate Studies.

Richard “Harry” Harris (Wednesday, 4pm, Ondaatje Theatre, McCain Building) — the leader of last year’s rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach from Thailand’s Tham Luang cave will speak. Free admission.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Archaeology and Geology of the Ancestral Site of the Mi’kmaw (Tuesday, 7:30pm, Burke Theatre B) — Gerald Gloade of Millbrook First Nation will speak. More info here.


In the harbour

02:00: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
04:00: Elka Nikolas, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
05:30: Primrose Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
07:00: Nordika Desgagnes, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 27 from Houston
13:00: Nordika Desgagnes sails for sea
15:30: Primrose Ace sails for sea


Footnotes

I’m off to the courthouse to cover a case I’ve been following.


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  1. Pingback: www.5--5.com
  2. So what is going to happen with the Halifax Police and their unlawful use of the Stingray to collect data without a warrant? Is there any chance they will be made to stop it – and how?

  3. so pleased to see that article in Mining News – I have posted the link on the RCMP facebook post about how the office bravely subdued that ‘agitator’.

  4. Economic development and institutions that lend to small businesses and start ups are indeed filled with grifters who prey on those without deep pockets or long credit histories or those without connections to the well-established oligarchy of Nova Scotia families.

  5. Is this what you have to put up with for some jobs and contracts? Everyone in the audience of the Atlantic goldmining meeting was too scared to speak up other than the reporter. I know it would scare me too but should it? How is this different than high school where the bully dominates with physical force to let you know where you stand if you object? Are jobs and spinoffs that important?

    Why would the Premier allow it to happen? Because he knows you will vote for the jobs regardless of the environment or how they bully Nova Scotians. First, they came for John Perkins. We know how that poem ends. The fellow holding the camera was scared they were coming back for him. I didn’t see anyone forming a line to protect him.

    Here is a hint. Next time the RCMP contract comes up for renewal, keep this incident in mind. I would tend to think there is going to be a lot of friction between the mining company and the citizens. Knowing who the police force really works for is always good to know. Then they came for me.

    Do you really think its going to get better?