News

1. Debate, Take 2

Stephen Kimber deconstructs last week’s CTV candidates debate, and responds to criticism of his previous column, which looked at the CBC debate, by giving some suggestions about how to improve Nova Scotia elections.

You can read it for yourself, but I was particularly struck by this part:

What if political parties that wanted to participate in the electoral process were required to make public their full platforms a month in advance of the start of that fixed-date campaign?

The purpose of this time delay would be to allow an independent body — a sort of parliamentary budget office for elections — to analyze and cost out each party’s package of promises and economic assumptions….

When [reporter Brian] Flinn put his fact-checked points to Rankin, the Liberal leader did his best slither, suggesting he couldn’t really comment on the potential impact of his election promises on his fiscal plan until the government publishes its next fiscal update — after the election!

Really? That used to be the traditional bait-and-switch argument employed only by new governments.

Soon after Darrell Dexter’s New Democrats won the 2009 provincial election, for example, they pronounced themselves shocked and appalled to discover the Tories had left the cupboards barer than bare, meaning they could no longer keep their no new taxes/no program cuts promise. Sorry about that. As if they couldn’t have guessed the province’s awful financial situation before they got the keys to the premier’s washroom.

Now, we have the spectacle of the premier of a party in power for eight years essentially making the same claim that he can’t know the real fiscal state of the government he leads, setting the table for him to renege on his promises as soon as the voters have left their voting booths.

Click here to read “The candidates’ debate, take two.”

Incidentally, as I pointed out last week, the Treasury Board typically publishes Public Accounts at the end of July, but this year it appears the bureaucrats are intending to wait until after the election to issue them. I can’t understand any justification for this.

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2. Guysborough-Tracadie

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

On Election Night, one of the ridings that should be fun to watch is Guysborough-Tracadie. The largely rural constituency covers all of Guysborough County and the eastern part of Antigonish County as far as the Canso Causeway. It includes the towns of Guysborough, Tracadie, and Sherbrooke.

Lloyd Hines. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

The Liberal candidate is incumbent Lloyd Hines, the former minister of Natural Resources and minister of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) who squeaked out a victory of only 71 votes last time around. This time, Hines is up against Progressive Conservative Greg Morrow, a former reporter and co-host of a popular morning show on The Hawk radio station in Port Hawkesbury; Matt Stickland, who’s carrying the NDP banner; and Green Party candidate Gabe Bruce, who starts Dalhousie University in the fall and has been an organizer of climate change protests — Bruce is the grandson of well known Nova Scotia author Harry Bruce, who was the first and long-standing editor of Atlantic Insight magazine.

Interestingly, the only candidate who actually lives in the constituency (since the boundaries were changed) is Lloyd Hines — something which he is fond of reminding voters. Gabe Bruce lives in Halifax, but his family still maintains a place in Port Shoreham, Guysborough County. Matt Stickland lives in Lawrencetown outside of Dartmouth; he acknowledges that being a parachute candidate is an issue for some voters, but also a bonus for others pleased to have a candidate that enables them to vote NDP. The NDP won the seat in 2008, but it usually swings between the two older parties. 

“Lloyd has made a point of saying I don’t live in the riding,” says PC candidate Greg Morrow. “I live six kilometres from the boundary. I share a municipal unit with people in the riding (District 8 of Antigonish County is split between two provincial ridings). The issues are the same. My kids play sports in the riding.”

Morrow says he has always been interested in politics and waited until his two daughters were 13 and 11 before deciding to leave a 20-year career in journalism to run for the Progressive Conservatives.

“I noticed that every time Tim Houston would issue a news release, he would criticize something — which is his role — but he also offered a solution. He’d say, ‘this is how I would do better.’ That really jumped out at me as something I liked,” said Morrow.

According to the PC candidate, health care is the top issue people are talking about in this election. But the NDP’s Matt Stickland says most people are talking to him about housing. From Stickland’s Twitter feed a couple of weeks into the campaign: “Sometimes canvassing is extremely depressing. Today an 8-year-old asked me if I played Fortnite, and then asked if I had any cash to help his dad make rent this week. I don’t care what your politics are, if an 8-year-old is worried about rent, we’re doing something wrong.” 

Stickland studied journalism at University of King’s College and started a blog called Committee Trawler, which covered HRM politics before it ran out of cash. He caught the journalism bug after a career in the Canadian Navy and a deployment in Libya, where he sustained an injury and received a medical discharge. He is an advocate for veterans and mental health.

The Godfather

The frontrunner in the race is Liberal Lloyd Hines, who is seeking a third term as MLA. He got some help from party leader Iain Rankin early in the campaign when Rankin signed onto a federal-provincial announcement about twinning a dangerous section of Highway 104 between Antigonish and the Canso Causeway. 

Prior to his eight years in provincial politics, Hines served for many years as Warden for the Municipality of Guysborough and was a major supporter of the Sable Offshore Energy Project.

In 2017, a scathing report from the Nova Scotia Ombudsman criticized Warden Hines and other municipal officials for living high on the hog by charging excessive per diem rates for meals, alcohol, and other expenses. Hines defended the wining and dining as a necessary part of wooing potential investors who could bring jobs to the area (the Canso Space Port, the Melford container terminal, and Pieridae’s LNG project come to mind, albeit none of them have come to fruition). 

Repeated requests for a telephone interview with Lloyd Hines for this story on the riding were rejected by Matt Hefler, the media spokesperson for the NS Liberal party. An email sent directly to Lloyd Hines campaign received no reply.

Predictions for Election Night?

PC Greg Morrow isn’t making any. He knows he’s in tough against a well-funded, incumbent Liberal opponent.

“I’m doing my best to reach every doorstep, to get to the side roads and backroads,” said Morrow. “I’ve visited some people who told me I’m the first politician that has ever come to their door. One of the things so many people have said is, ‘I’ve reached out to my MLA by phone or by email and I never hear back.’ So basically, what I tell people is I can’t promise a paved road or to do this or that because I’m new to this. All I can promise is I will work hard, and I will get back to you.” 

I became aware of communication issues this past spring when I was contacted by a Guysborough constituent who begged me to contact the office of MLA Lloyd Hines (Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal) and inquire if a written petition opposing Maritime Launch Services (the “Space Port”) was going to be presented in the House of Assembly. The petition had been submitted more than a month earlier. I did email Hines’s office in Halifax. The petition was presented by Hines on the last day the House of Assembly was in session.

NDP candidate Matt Stickland isn’t willing to predict a winner in this contest either, because he has noticed a lot of confusion among voters over political brands or affiliations. 

Stickland says some people have told him they like Progressive Conservative candidate Greg Morrow, but don’t plan to vote PC because they don’t like federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole. Ironically, Stickland has also received the penalties and benefits of similar voter confusion. “I’ve been told people aren’t going to vote for me because they don’t like Jagmeet Singh and I’ve also been told I’m going to get their vote because they like Jack Layton” (the deceased former federal NDP leader).

It’s good to keep a sense of humour when you are putting in 10-12 hour days knocking on doors. An all-candidates debate will be held Monday, August 9, sponsored by the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce. The debate will be streamed on the Chamber’s Facebook site.

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3. Owls Head

Lawyer Jamie Simpson addressing the crowd during Saturday’s ‘Save Owls Head’ rally. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

“Several hundred people filled Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon to protest the Liberal government’s handling of Owls Head and to call on their fellow Nova Scotians to make their discontent known at the ballot box,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

“Sometimes an issue hits you that you say: I just, That’s it. I can’t, I can’t take this one, I can’t stomach this one,” a frustrated Christopher Trider said in an interview before the rally.

“This (Owls Head) is a large park, three and a half times the size of Point Pleasant, it’s undisturbed coastal heath land, probably represents 10,000 years of botanical evolution, and it’s a cultural heritage landscape, it’s a natural heritage landscape, and it’s been protected for 45 years. People are outraged.”

Located on the Eastern Shore, the 268 hectares known as Owls Head provincial park was on a proposed list of protected places.

That changed when it was delisted by the Treasury Board after an American developer expressed interest in buying the land to develop a golf course. Premier Iain Rankin was the province’s environment minister at the time, and before becoming an MLA had received a golf club management diploma.

The Owls Head delisting only came to light after CBC reporter Michael Gorman broke the story in December 2019 using information obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

Click here to read “Hundreds rally for Owls Head.”

The golf club management diploma is… well, something.

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4. COVID

New case and vaccination data are not provided over the weekends, so I have no information on those fronts. However, there were potential COVID exposure advisories issued over the weekend.

Friday night, Public Health issued the following potential exposure advisory:

Anyone who was on the following flight in the specified rows and seats should visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Please follow the instructions noted in this table for high risk contacts. 

  • WestJet 254 travelling on July 31 from Toronto (10:12 p.m.) to Halifax (12:51 a.m. on August 1). Passengers in rows 1 to 6, seats A, B, C and D. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 15.

Sunday night, Public Health issued the following advisories:

Anyone who worked at or visited the following locations on the specified dates and times should visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access, or if you have other symptoms that concern you.
Low risk exposures
For the following location, if you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 you do not need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you are required to self-isolate while you wait for your test result.
  • Yarmouth Public Library (405 Main Street, Yarmouth) on August 4 between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 18.
  • Giant Tiger (130 Starrs Road, Yarmouth) on August 4 between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 18.
  • Atlantic Superstore (104 Starrs Road, Yarmouth) on August 5 between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 19.
  • Yarmouth Creatives (76 Starrs Road, Yarmouth) on August 6 between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 20.
  • The Great Canadian Dollar Store (76 Starrs Road #1a, Yarmouth) on August 6 between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 20.
  • Atlantic Superstore (104 Starrs Road, Yarmouth) on August 6 between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 20.
  • Canadian Tire (30 Lamont Terrace, Dartmouth) on August 6 between 3:30 and 5 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 20.
Moderate risk exposures
Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following location on the named date and time for at least 15 minutes are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. If you get a negative result, you do not need to keep self-isolating, however, you are asked to get retested 6-8 days and 12-14 days after this exposure.  If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.
If fully or partially vaccinated, please follow the instructions noted in this table for moderate risk contacts. 
  • Good Day Kitchen & Cafe (1480 Fall River Road UNIT 302, Fall River) on August 5 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 19.
  • Fall River & Riverlake District Lions Club (843 Fall River Road, Fall River) on August 5 between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 19.
High risk exposures
Anyone who was on the following flight in the specified rows and seats should visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Please follow the instructions noted in this table for high risk contacts. 
  • United Airlines 8442 / Air Canada 614 travelling on August 1 from Toronto (6:45 p.m.) to Halifax (9:46 p.m.). Passengers in rows 13 to 16, seats C, D, E and F. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 15.
  • Air Canada 604 travelling on August 2 from Toronto (8:30 a.m.) to Halifax (11:31 a.m.). Passengers in rows 2 to 4, seats C, D and F. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 16.

I’ve added the new sites to the potential COVID exposure map. You can zoom in and click on the coronavirus icons to get details about each site.

I’ve also updated the list of flights with potential COVID exposures, here.

I thought we were about done with this shit.

This graph shows the progress of vaccination over time, as captured weekly on Fridays. The blue line is people with one dose only; the green line is people with two doses; the yellow line is people with at least one dose, and the orange line represents 75% of the entire population.

As I mentioned in a Twitter thread yesterday, Canada now has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world (in terms of western countries, only Chile and Uruguay, which vaccinated with Sinovac, are higher), and Nova Scotia has the highest provincial rate in the country (the Northwest Territories is slightly higher).

But other jurisdictions seem not to be taking the pandemic seriously, and vaccination rates remain low and public health controls are simply being dismantled, which will inevitably lead to increasing case counts and more people travelling into Nova Scotia with the virus. This province’s high vaccination rates will provide more protection than in most places, but there will be more breakthrough cases and young children are not able to be vaccinated, so I’m quite worried about school reopening.

My personal situation is not important to the larger public health issues, but I had hoped to have an Examiner subscriber party in September, but that isn’t going to happen. We’ll see if we can pull it off in November. I’m also considering cancelling a planned late September trip to the US to visit family. It’s all very dispiriting.

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5. Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day celebration at Parade Square in Halifax, August 1, 2021. Photo: Matthew Byard

“Slavery was officially banned in all of the British colonies in 1834 and Emancipation Day was just officially recognized by Parliament in March 2021,” reports Matthew Byard. “But for years, there were people working to getting the day recognized across the country.”

Byard gets into the history of the celebration, which I was completely ignorant about.

Click here to read “The long road to Emancipation Day.”

Oh, and be sure to read Byard’s Black News File.

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6. Darrell Geddes vs Air Canada

Air Canada Flight 624 has nothing to do with the claim discussed below.

As air travel begins to ramp back up, I remind myself that it really isn’t as convenient as we tell ourselves. First, the time savings are often elusive, or at least exaggerated. We’re told to get to the airport an hour and a half ahead of time, which means leaving two hours beforehand, and then at arrival there’s the long walk to baggage and waiting sometimes 45 minutes, and then the drive to the final destination. For the shortest of flights, it’s often quicker to just drive the entire distance.

And that’s when everything goes right. I’ve come to expect delays, schedule adjustments, and so forth. As I mentioned above, I’ve booked a late September flight from Halifax to Dulles, and it’s already been rescheduled twice. Very often, the delays happen after I’ve begun the journey, and it leads to missing a connecting flight. When I can, I now try to schedule flights an entire day ahead of whenever I have to be somewhere, just to build in the expected delay time. So the time savings really aren’t so substantial.

On top of all that is the annoyance. The airlines treat us like shit. They herd us this way and that, nickel and dime us for whatever they can, and otherwise dehumanize us. They cancel flights with little, no, or dishonest explanation.

One of my recent reschedulings was based on what the airline said was a security concern; as I’m a white knuckle flier, I tried to enquire into this — does CSIS or the FBI think a terrorist wants to blow up my plane? Because if so, I’m going to worry about the rescheduled flight too, and maybe I should drive instead. But googling around, I discovered that the “security concern” thing is a complete ruse, bullshit, a flat-out lie; really, the airline simply wants to maximize occupancy and for whatever reason, this flight was inconvenient to that purpose.

There are supposedly regulations that blunt the worst edges of the airlines’ malfeasance. In Canada, those regulations were created in 2019, and are known as the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR).

“When a consumer protection is the intended outcome of a regulatory regime, it should be assumed the regime will be in plain language, easy to understand and supports a simple claims process,” wrote lawyer Darrell Pink, who was acting in the capacity of a Small Claims Court Adjudicator, in a recent decision. “The APPR, which was intended to accomplish enhanced passenger rights, accomplishes none of these. The language is complex and legalistic; one needs detailed or specific knowledge to invoke the claims system; and the process to seek compensation, one invoked, does not lend itself to quick resolution.”

It’s telling that Darrell Geddes was the very first person to try to make use of the APPR to get compensation for a delayed flight. There are several people with that name in the Halifax area, but I’m guessing this Darrell Geddes is the one who is a travel consultant, and so actually has the specific knowledge required to submit a claim, for $400.

Even then, noted Pink, Geddes had to submit “close to 100 pages of paper” with his submission.

Geddes’ situation is all too familiar. He booked a round-trip Air Canada flight from Halifax to Orlando for the pre-pandemic date of Jan. 31, 2020, leaving Halifax at 07:55 and arriving in Orlando at 14:52 the same day, connecting through Boston.

Geddes arrived in plenty of time for the flight, got his ticket, went through security, and was waiting at the gate by 06:15. But then at 6:50, the flight was simply cancelled, no explanation given. The people at the gate and the Air Canada desk wouldn’t rebook his flight, and so Geddes had to spend 48 minutes on the phone with Air Canada’s customer relations staff. “The line disconnected, and he was called back at 7:44,” noted Pink.

Finally, at 7:46, Air Canada rebooked his flight to Orlando, connecting through Ottawa and Toronto. He finally arrived in Orlando at 19:54, more than five hours after his original booked flight was to arrive.

The APPR provide for $400 compensation for any delay of more than four hours, assuming the delay was not required for safety purposes. Geddes was given a meal voucher, presumably for far less than $400. On the voucher was an Air Canada designation reading “ROUTE CONTROLLABLE,” which Geddes understood to mean that the delay was in Air Canada’s control.

There’s a lot of back-and-forth and legalese in the claim. At issue was whether the delay was caused by a true safety concern. Air Canada brought two witnesses and a ton of maintenance documentation to the Small Claims hearing — the defence alone must have cost more than the $400 Geddes was claiming — arguing that the issue was something called an “assy probe” in the power plant to the left engine of the plane.

Geddes counter-argued that the problem had been identified long before Jan. 31 — the plane had been brought in for repairs as early as Jan. 25, but the problem was found to be “intermittent,” so up it went again and again, and sure, why not? — and the grounding of the plane on Jan. 31 was predictable, so Air Canada should have found a replacement flight.

As Pink noted “a delay, cancellation or denial of boarding that is directly attributable to an earlier delay or cancellation that is within that carrier’s control but is required for safety purposes, is considered to also be within that carrier’s control but required for safety purposes if that carrier took all reasonable measures to mitigate the impact of the earlier flight delay or cancellation.”

Clear as mud.

In any event, despite some apparent sympathy for Geddes, Pink ruled against him and for Air Canada: “The claim is dismissed.”

However, Geddes, who surely himself must be out more than $400 in time spent on this claim, has appealed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. A hearing date has yet to be set.

I don’t know Geddes, but here’s hoping he can crack the Byzantine regulatory system that supposedly protect passengers.

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Views

1. Eastern Shore

“We went to the Eastern Shore the other day. (Is that up or down? In Nova Scotia you can get scolded if you use the wrong direction. It’s down to Cape Breton),” writes Stephen Archibald. “Here are some things we noticed.”

Archibald takes us on a tour of Grand Desert, Chezzetcook, and Little Harbour before commenting on Owls Head:

A tiny abandoned cottage beside the road felt like an appropriate scale for recreation development in this landscape. Remember, if the provincial government did not plan to sell the Owls Head Park they would have said “no, our parks are not for sale.” That’s the usual process.

Photo: Stephen Archibald

The next day Sheila stopped the car and snapped a picture as we drove by a leveled site on a nearby peninsula. “This is exactly what Owls Head will look like if the government gets its way,” she exclaimed.

Photo: Stephen Archibald

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Government

City

Monday

Grants Committee (Monday, 10am) — live streamed on YouTube.

North West Community Council (Monday, 6pm) — live webcast on YouTube.

Province

No meetings this week.


On campus

No events.


In the harbour

Halifax
05:00: Bilbao Bridge arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
05:30: Siem Aristotle arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
11:00: Lagrafoss arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
11:30: Siem Aristotle sails for sea
13:00: ZIM Yokohama arrives at anchorage from Valencia, Spain
16:45: Lagrafoss sails for Portland
20:00: Tropic Hope sails from Pier 41 for Georgetown, Guyana
20:30: Bilbao Bridge sails for Rotterdam
21:00: Conti Annapurna arrives at Fairview Cove from Singapore

Cape Breton
23:00: Algoma Integrity arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Cape Canaveral, Florida


Footnotes

New subscriptions typically slow down in the summer, and this year is no exception. If you’ve been putting it off, this would be an excellent time. Thanks!


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Tim Bousquet

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

Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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4 Comments

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  1. I’m not sure if I’m reading the vaccination chart wrong, or not. but wouldn’t the blue line sharp decline be when those folks got their second shot? Then the green line goes up, almost to the target. Are we past the 28 day, second shot deadline for all the folks who got their first shot?

    1. There’s no 28-day deadline. 28 days is the *earliest* people can get a second shot.

  2. Any ideas given on why so many Nova Scotians with first doses aren’t rescheduling their second dose sooner/going to a walk-in clinic? Thanks.

  3. Question: If an election campaign falls in the make believe world of politics and no one in the real, workaday world is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

    Answer: No.