News

1. Health care non-crisis

Denise Perret

“Last week’s ‘mutual’ firing of the province’s deputy health minister shows just how unwilling our premier is to acknowledge our healthcare crisis — let alone do something about it,” writes Stephen Kimber.

Click here to read “Crisis? What crisis? Just a(nother) ‘new (lack of) direction’ for healthcare.”

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2. St. Barbara still intends to acquire Atlantic Gold

“NOPE” sign on the St. Mary’s Salmon Museum. Photo: Joan Baxter

“St. Barbara Limited, the Australian gold mining company that recently announced it was acquiring Atlantic Gold in a $722 million dollar deal, seems to be unfazed by the RCMP’s violent arrest of a citizen last week at a public information session Atlantic Gold was hosting in Sherbrooke (covered by the Halifax Examiner here and here),” reports Joan Baxter.

Baxter moves the story along, detailing opposition to the mining in Nova Scotia, as well as the economic and regulatory climate that makes gold mining so attractive to the mining companies. Baxter reports:

But there are other ways that Nova Scotia caters to the mining industry, and helps companies keep their own costs low and profits high. Nova Scotia receives a mere 1% “net value royalty,” a royalty scheme that permits corporations to do a lot of fancy bookkeeping to keep royalties to a minimum. 

Atlantic Gold’s reports, corporations and publicity materials are emblazoned with the boastful claim that the company is the “lowest-cost gold producer in the sector.” The company’s only mine is in Nova Scotia, so that means this province offers conditions that allow for these low production costs that Atlantic Gold boasts about.

In March this year, at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association (PDAC) convention in Toronto, BNN Bloomberg’s Andrew Bell asked Atlantic Gold CEO Steven Dean how the company kept its production costs so low. Dean replied that it was a combination of several factors, including a “great location” and the grade of the ore.

He said the Moose River mine was in a “low-yielding forestry country” and added, “The Nova Scotia government have been really supportive of us because … we are creating jobs.”

Click here to read “St. Barbara still intends to acquire Atlantic Gold.”

Baxter has done an outstanding job of reporting on the mining industry in Nova Scotia, starting with the four-part investigative series “Fool’s Gold,” which was a joint publication of the Cape Breton Spectator and Halifax Examiner, financed by people who buy joint subscriptions to the two publications. Basically, you can subscribe to either publication for $10/month, but with a joint subscription for $15/month, you get access to both publications and we toss the “extra” $5 into a fund that does things like pay for “Fool’s Gold” and underwrite the outrageous Freedom of Information fees the CBRM is charging Mary Campbell.

Since Perkins’ arrest, Baxter has written several articles, including today’s, and I’ve kept them all in front of the paywall. But even though the articles are free for anyone to read, they cost us to produce them, both for Baxter’s pay and my time. Your continued subscriptions make this work possible.

3. The Innovation Hub of Nova Scotia

I asked reporter Jennifer Henderson to attend the Biocon conference last week because I am skeptical of all things biomass and wanted someone with fresh eyes to have a look. Henderson came back with a nuanced story about one of the presenters at the conference, the Innovation Hub of Nova Scotia:

The Innovation Hub of Nova Scotia (branded as the Nova Scotia Innovation Hub) is a non-profit corporation which includes a mix of the largest private companies in the province as well as participation by provincial and federal governments. You have probably never heard of it. Its mission is find and financially assist companies interested in developing  new products from under-used, renewable “feedstocks” found in the ocean, forests, farms, and landfills.

Click here to read “The Innovation Hub of Nova Scotia: the ‘biomass’ company you’ve probably never heard of.”

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4. “Great friends”

On Friday, I wrote about Stephen McNeil’s scripted PR appearance with Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to Canada (and I received the expected bevy of email from apologists for the authoritarian regime, including one person who appears to work for a Confucius Institute and another who seems to be a Marxist who thinks the Chinese Communist Party is actually communist).

At about the same time I was writing, Mary Campbell of the Cape Breton Spectator was also writing about the same PR appearance, but had a slightly different take:

The declaration that McNeil is “a great friend” to China comes literally days after Lu announced bilateral relations between China and Canada had hit “rock bottom.” So this is kind of like being the only Hatfield the McCoys can stand.

That said, the official photos out of  Wednesday’s meeting don’t suggest it was a Trump/Kim Jong Un-style lovefest:

If this is what the premier’s communications people thought was the best shot, can you imagine what the others must have looked like? McNeil is staring at the Chinese ambassador like he’s thinking, “Not gonna bring up those Canadians detained in China. Not gonna do it.”

The ambassador is staring at someone or something not visible in the photo. Derek Mombourquette is staring at the television camera. The ambassador’s right-hand man is staring at his notes. Keith Colwell is looking at what looks like an agenda. Leo Glavine is looking at a reporter filming with his cell phone.

And the other official picture is even better:

Do these look like the facial expressions of “great friends?”

Click here to read “Sino-Nova Scotian relations.”

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner and help feed that joint-investigative fund.
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5. Transit and retail

“For 15 years, the Last Gamestore has been the place in Halifax to buy new and used video games, retro consoles and other gaming merchandise,” report Alex Cooke and Erin MacInnis for the CBC:

But in an age of chain stores, online shopping and digital distributors like Steam, store owner Adam Perry said his Lacewood Drive business is struggling to make rent.

In August 2015, Perry had to get new carpet for the store as part of his lease agreement. Soon after, the Lacewood bus terminal, which was once by the shop, moved to a different location — taking away a large portion of his foot traffic.

“All the people that were waiting for buses all just stopped coming in,” he said.

Perry estimates the store lost about 30 per cent of its sales during that period.

Of course it’s not necessarily the job of city government to keep retail operations afloat (despite the claim made by most retailers), but how city facilities interact with surrounding retail uses should be a consideration.


Government

City

Monday

Investment Policy Advisory Committee (Monday, 12pm, City Hall) — the committee will receive the Treasurer’s Report.

Accessibility Advisory Committee Special Meeting (Monday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — yet another committee will yammer on about the Centre Plan, which once adopted will be completely ignored.

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — a fairly busy agenda, including a motion declining to give financial assistance to the Bus Stop Theatre (I wrote about that here); starting the process to arrive at a policy on roadside memorials (I have interest in this); approval of the sidewalk clearing contracts; a motion by Shawn Cleary that would require councillors to take a leave of absence if they run for election for another level of government; among other items.

Province

Monday

No public events.

Tuesday

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — oh, this should be great fun; the committee will be talking with some unnamed person(s) from the Departments of Community Services and Internal Services about “Protection of Confidential Information.”


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Thesis Defence, Pharmacology (Monday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Yan Burkovskiy will defend “Cannabinoid 2 Receptor-Based Modulation of the Immune Response in Experimental Models of CNS Injury.”

Tuesday

Thesis Defence, Pathology (Tuesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Alyson Zwicker will defend “Genes and the Environment in Developmental Psychopathology Leading to Severe Mental Illness​.”

Saint Mary’s

Photo: Tim Bousquet

Task Force on Commemoration of Edward Cornwallis – Public Engagement Session (Next Tuesday, June 11, 6pm, in the Theatre named after a bank, in the building named after a grocery store) — presenters and those wishing to share recommendations are encouraged to email submissions in advance of next week’s meeting. More info here and here.


In the harbour

05:00: YM Essence, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
05:30: Faust, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
06:30: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship, with up to 2,808 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
07:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
07:00: Pictor J, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Portland
13:30: YM Essence sails for Antwerp
14:00: Pictor J, container ship, sails for Argentia, Newfoundland
15:30: Norwegian Dawn sails for Saint John
15:30: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
18:00: Augusta Sun, cargo ship, moves from Pier 31 to Pier 28
21:00: Faust moves to Pier 31

Where are the Canadian military ships?



Footnotes

I’ve got nothing.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. HRM transit and development decisions all seem to be made without regard to their effects on existing businesses and neighbourhoods.

  2. “The Nova Scotia government have been really supportive of us because … we are creating jobs.”

    I’m pretty sure you could make a business focussed on slaughtering endangered species and dumping their carcasses into the water supply and the NS government would be enthusiastic about it as long as it was “creating jobs.”