News

1. Joan Baxter and Jennifer Henderson on Northern Pulp

Northern Pulp Mill (book cover photo from Joan Baxter’s Book, The Mill). Photo courtesy of Dr. Gerry Farrell

This evening at 7pm, Joan Baxter will be interviewed by Jennifer Henderson on stage at the St. Margaret’s Centre in Tantallon. From the Facebook event page:

Incisive, no nonsense, take no prisoners. Joan Baxter’s brilliant exposé “The Mill – Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest” tells the story of shocking government/industry collusion and a community that refuses to take it. Having destroyed the Pictou Landing First Nation’s Boat Harbour, now Pictou’s Northern Pulp mill wants to dump its effluent in the Northumberland Strait. An extraordinary battle is playing out on our province’s north shore and Baxter’s award-winning book is at its very centre.

Journalist, anthropologist, development consultant, mother of two much of Joan’s career was in Africa. Home again at last, she now applies her deep knowledge of direct investment in Africa, extractive industries, regulatory capture, environmental rights and justice, food sovereignty and sustainable farming and food systems, to life here in Nova Scotia and Canada.

Interviewing Joan on stage, former CBC journalist Jennifer Henderson. Now with the Halifax Examiner, her publisher calls Henderson “a reporter’s reporter.” Expertise in a host of current local issues like the QE2 replacement, tidal power, NSP, and the state of our nursing homes.

Homemade snacks, tea and coffee provided.

Pay-What-You-Can

For information and media inquiries, call 902-823-1404.

Sponsored by Five Bridge Wilderness Heritage Trust, Friends of Nature, Healthy Forest Coalition, St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association, Transition Bay St Margarets, Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization.

2. Biomass

Biomass harvest. Photo courtesy Jamie Simpson

“Citizens concerned about the amount of wood harvested (mostly clearcut) to be used as biomass aren’t going to be happy with the numbers contained in the 2018 Fuel Adjustment Mechanism (FAM) report filed last month with the regulator,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Last year, the biomass boiler owned by Nova Scotia Power (NSP), which generates electricity for the provincial grid — as well as steam for the co-generation plant that reduces power costs for Port Hawkesbury Paper — burned more wood and ran at higher capacity than in 2017.

The biomass boiler began operating in 2013 in order to provide discounted electricity which was demanded by the new buyer of the shuttered NewPage paper mill in Port Hawkesbury and to supply “renewable” or green energy to Nova Scotia Power to meet newly established quotas to help move away from coal. There was some, but limited, public discussion at the time about whether using low grade wood (primary biomass) to generate electricity was truly “green,” but the consensus was it was better than burning more coal.

Since then, a growing body of scientific studies suggest that while trees may be considered a renewable resource over the long term (40-70 years), the accelerating pace of global warming which was flagged in the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change warns that’s too long a wait for reforestation.

Click here to read “Despite warnings that burning biomass does not address climate change, Nova Scotia Power burned more biomass in 2018 than in 2017.”

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3. How Vaportecture is used to obscure Canada Land’s untendered sale of land for a Shannon Park stadium

Last week, I linked to Neil deMause’s post on DeadSpin titled “The 7 Laws Of Vaportecture, Stadium Art’s Fever Dream,” and examined one of his examples in detail — a scene outside a supposed Worcester Red Sox game.

There’s a whole catalog of ridiculous characters in the rendering, including this one:

Woman Hailing A Cab Far From The Curb On An Empty Street:

“I eagerly await the architectural renderings of the proposed Shannon Park stadium,” I wrote. “I’m sure Anthony Leblanc and crew won’t disappoint.”

As if on cue, yesterday Architecture49 tweeted:

And look at that stadium rendering:

There she is again! The Woman Hailing A Cab Far From The Curb On An Empty Street! Except this time, she’s in the middle of a stadium, far away from any potential taxi stand. Maybe she thinks the bicyclist will pick her up?

Also, note that the players on the field are competing in soccer and football at the same time! Who threw that football, anyway? And there’s a woman weirdly taking a photo of the sky, while giant people are walking up the stairs to join the non-existent crowd watching the football/soccer/taxi hailing/photography game.

But there’s also a rendering of a fan-packed stadium watching a football game, with 22 players (even I know a CFL game would see 24 players on the field) randomly oriented on the field, no offensive or defensive lines, no player attempting to block or tackle another player. The Schooners are apparently hoping to make a profit even though they won’t have ticket gates and spectators can simply walk directly from the parking lot right into the stands without worrying about fencing or turnstiles or being patted down for booze.

I’m agreeing with deMause; the whole point of the renderings is to fuck with us:

But the best explanation for all this … is as misdirection. If you’re talking about moats or lens flare, you’re not debating who’s going to pay for the damn thing…

Consider, for example, how Shannon Park is being repurposed for a stadium. Yesterday, I noted that a much-ballyhooed “preferred concept” for the Shannon Park property rolled out in 2017 has apparently been tossed right out the window in order to accommodate a stadium, despite thousands of hours of “public consultation” that went into developing the plan.

After I wrote that, Joanne Bernard, the former MLA for Dartmouth North, weighed in:

Excellent story here. As the MLA at the time for Dartmouth North I was sucked in by the consultation by Canada Lands all of which made it very clear that no one wanted this land used for a stadium for a myriad of reasons from access to traffic. https://t.co/RfKE3T3VXV

— Joanne Bernard🇺🇦🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️ (@JoanneLynnNS) April 1, 2019

How is it possible to dispose of the “preferred concept”? A StarMetro Halifax article explains:

A significant update came in the new stadium approach, which now includes a partnership with Sport Nova Scotia that would see the goal for any stadium being as a year-round community facility.

[Anthony Leblanc] said working in partnership with Sport Nova Scotia, the stadium would be used about 300 days a year outside of CFL football, or large special events, such as concerts.

“What I know so far is we’ve talked to four groups, soccer, football, rugby (Nova Scotia), and the Nova Scotia Schools Athletic Federation, and we just asked for an estimate of hours that they could potentially program the facility, and just those four, it came out to about 1,500,” Jamie Ferguson, the CEO of Sport Nova Scotia, said in an interview after the event. “So I could see a lot of other sports coming in and using the facility.”

I commented yesterday:

Oh, and now Sport Nova Scotia is suddenly all about a stadium. How’d that happen?

Last night a reader emailed:

I suspect the reason that the new stadium proposal includes Sports Nova Scotia (and is broadened to other community uses) was to bypass normal federal criteria on how the disposal process (to a private enterprise) works; the criteria can be bypassed if it involves recreational or community uses.

On the Canada Lands website’s FAQ page, there’s this question and answer:

Q. How does Canada Lands Company select developers for the properties that it acquires?

A. Generally, Canada Lands Company selects developers through a tendering program. Other means of selection may include broad-based marketing, (such as signs or advertising), or in consultation with brokerage firms or the community. Current opportunities can be viewed on our Tenders page.

StarMetro Halifax notes that:

The other news Saturday was the announcement that a letter of intent was signed between Canada Lands and SSE [Schooners Sports and Entertainment, Leblanc’s company], outlining the parameters of a potential deal for a stadium.

According to a Canada Lands release issued Saturday, the elements of the deal include the sale of up 20 acres to SSE for a proposed stadium. The statement also said any sale is “dependent on the satisfaction of a number of commitments.”

I just checked again, and as of this morning, the “Canada Lands release” still hasn’t shown up on the news release page of Canada Land’s website, but SSE must have won a tender competition for development of the Shannon Park property, right? Well, I don’t know… I can’t find that any Shannon Park property, much less 20 acres, has been tendered at all. I look at the federal tendering page pretty much every day, and haven’t noticed a Shannon Park property tender, nor does a search for “Shannon Park” turn up any relevant results.

Hey, I am not a lawyer or a bureaucrat, and I don’t pretend to understand all the ins and outs of how Canada Lands sells its property, so maybe there’s some completely legitimate process going on that is beyond my comprehension. But I wouldn’t criticize a cynic (like my emailing reader) for thinking that Canada Lands has found a work-around for the requirement to tender the Shannon Park property by getting Sport Nova Scotia involved in the stadium project.

Let’s review: Most Haligonians are opposed to using public money for a stadium. Canada Lands has a policy for selling off property through an open tendering process. A years-long public consultation resulted in a “preferred concept” for Shannon Park that explicitly excluded a stadium. And now Canada Lands is selling off Shannon Park property to SSE without a tender so a publicly financed stadium can be built at Shannon Park.

They think we’re a bunch of chumps.

4. Joan Jones

Stephen Archibald suggests we watch (or re-watch) the 1967 NFB film Encounter at Kwacha House:

Kwacha House was a space on Gottingen Street… Rocky Jones was a founder of Kwacha House and he is one of the strong voices in the film.

One thing that you’ll notice is that although the camera lingers on the young women for reaction shots, none of them speak in the film. Was this a choice of the film editors or were the women silenced by the commanding power of the male speakers? It was 1967.

One such young woman was Joan Jones, Rocky Jones’ first spouse. Joan Jones died yesterday.

Rocky Jones graduating from Dalhousie, circa 1970, with Joan Jones beside him. Photo: the Jones family via The Coast

“Rocky and Joan were all about agency,” wrote Wendie Poitras last year in The Coast to plug the upcoming film Rocky & Joan. “The couple believed in taking control and ownership of one’s own business.”

Joan was a champion of the cause by being a deputy of the movement. She was the backbone of the operation. She held the pieces together and kept things moving. Rocky and Joan’s home became the headquarters of the movement and their kitchen table was where ideas were born and implemented.

Their home, its door always open, became a space where all were welcomed. It eventually became too small to accommodate those interested in becoming involved in the movement. Kwacha House, established in 1967, became the successor of the Jones’ house as a place where ideas were birthed and developed. The vast majority of its attendees were Black, but the space was open to all who shared a similar agenda of equality and the advancement of Blacks in Nova Scotia.

Rocky and Joan eventually overcame these hardships by creating their own employment opportunity with a business specializing in leather work. Joan’s resourcefulness kept their growing household of five children afloat and they continued to open their home to all needing a safe space—including a number of foster children.

Joan Jones with Angela Davis in Halifax last year. Photo: Facebook

5. PC lawsuit

Photo: Halifax Examiner

I stopped by the courthouse yesterday for a hearing related to the Progressive Conservative caucus’s attempt to get a court order to force the government to release detailed financial records related to the Yarmouth ferry.

You’ll recall that the PCs had filed a Freedom of Information (called FOIPOP) request for the records, but the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal declined to provide the records. The PCs then appealed to Information and Privacy Commissioner Catherine Tully, who ruled in the PCs’ favour, saying that the financial records should be disclosed. But Tully’s ruling does not carry the force of law, and the Liberal government still refused to disclose the records. So the PCs went to court.

The main issue as to whether the court should force the government to release the records is scheduled for a June hearing, but in the meanwhile, Bay Ferries is attempting to get the PCs’s action dismissed. That’s what yesterday’s hearing was about.

Bay Ferries’s lawyer Scott Campbell argued that the PCs have no standing under the Freedom of Information Act because the act allows for a person to use the FOIPOP process and to appeal decisions. The PC caucus, said Campbell, is not a person — it is neither a natural person (as in, a human being), not a corporate person (yes, corporations are considered people in our topsy turvy legal world). Therefore, said Campbell, the PCs’ legal action shouldn’t be heard by the court.

Campbell also pointed out that the PCs’ appeal to the privacy commissioner was signed by Lisa Manninger, the PC’s director of communication. Manninger is an actual human being, of course, and she had every right to file a FOIPOP and then to appeal to Tully. But it was the PC caucus who brought forward the court action, and the caucus is not a person, either of the flesh and blood sort or the corporate personhood sort, and they’re not Lisa Manninger in any event, so therefore the court should send everyone home without considering the matter.

PC lawyer Nicole LaFosse Parker pointed out that Campbell’s argument is a bunch of hooey (my word, not hers). First off, the records requested aren’t going away. They exist and won’t change, and so even if the court agreed with Campbell’s hooey, anyone can file another FOIPOP request for the same records and start the process all over again, and we’d all end up right back in the same courtroom arguing over the more substantive issue as to whether the court should order the government to release the records.

More substantively, LaFosse Parker argued that the Freedom of Information Act is to be interpreted broadly, so as to favour the release of information. And the issues of whether Manninger or Houston signed the paperwork can be resolved by simply amending all the paperwork to have it submitted by Houston on behalf of the PCs, which was clearly the intent all along.

LaFosse Parker argued that while the PC caucus is not a person, it would be unwise and unjust to say it can’t be involved in the FOIPOP process. The role of the official opposition is to hold government to account, she said, and denying the ability to appeal FOIPOP applications to the court would be mucking up the democratic process.

Moreover, restricting the court action to human beings is dangerous, said LaFosse Parker. What if Lisa Manninger got run over by a truck and died, or Tim Houston tumbled down the front steps of Province House and ended up in a decades-long coma (my examples, not hers)? Obviously, neither would be in a position to appeal to the court, so the FOIPOP issue would not be processed.

Justice Peter Rosinski reserved his opinion, which means he’ll go off and think about it and issue a decision at some later point.

6. Percent

The Halifax Examiner mostly (not entirely, see: Oxford commas) follows the Canadian Press style guide, which in turn is largely (not entirely, see: add “U”s to random words) based on the Associated Press style guide.

To my annoyance — and I’m sure to writers’ and readers’ annoyance — the AP style guide remained stuck in some sort of 1940s New Yorker magazine time loop when it came to percentages. The guide prohibited the use of the percentage sign — % — and said that instead it should be spelled out as two word — “per cent.” And so I’d butcher every freelancer’s copy, replacing their sensible “%” symbols with “per cent.”

But good news!

“Brace yourselves,” writes Kristen Hare for Poynter:

The AP Stylebook says the percentage sign is now acceptable when paired with a numeral in most cases.

On Friday, Stylebook Editor Paula Froke announced the latest round of changes to the grammar bible for journalists at the annual conference for ACES: The Society for Editing. This year’s changes are yet another shift toward more common usage.

Here’s part of the updated entry:

percent, percentage, percentage points Use the % sign when paired with a numeral, with no space, in most cases (a change in 2019): Average hourly pay rose 3.1% from a year ago; her mortgage rate is 4.75%; about 60% of Americans agreed; he won 56.2% of the vote. Use figures: 1%, 4 percentage points.

For amounts less than 1%, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.6%

In casual uses, use words rather than figures and numbers: She said he has a zero percent chance of winning.

That change will take effect next week. 

I’ve already made the change with Jennifer Henderson’s biomass story this morning, which is chockfull of beautiful % signs.


Government

City

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — agenda

Wednesday

No public meetings.

Province

No public meetings this week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Looking through the eyes of another: What do we know about eye movements and can we use other people’s perceptual input to alter performance​ (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room P4258, Life Sciences Centre) — a talk by Mike Dodd from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Wednesday

BRIC NS Student Seminar Series (Wednesday, 12pm, Room 315, Collaborative Health Education Building) — PhD candidate Logan Lawrence will present “Developing a tool for assessing policy capacity: A case study of nurse practitioners in primary care in Nova Scotia.” PhD Nursing student Rachel Olliver will present “Exploring Postpartum Sexual Health in Nova Scotia Using Feminist Poststructuralism.”

Thesis Defence, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Wednesday, 12:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Rashed Alsakarnah will defend ​“Enhancing the Performance of Multicast Systems with Layered Transmissions.”

Annual FASS Publication and Performance Launch (Wednesday, 3pm, Fireside Lounge, Marion McCain Building) — Dal faculty members will show off their published books, published research in peer-reviewed journals, and performances held over the course of the last year.

Saint Mary’s

Wednesday

Leadership and Confidence (Wednesday, 12pm, McNally Main 320) — Malcolm Butler will speak. More info here.

Why is Tolerance in Trouble? Thirty years after the fatwa against Salman Rushdie (Wednesday, 7pm, in the auditorium named after a bank) — a talk by Frank Furedi from the University of Kent, UK. Author’s website here.


In the harbour

06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
11:00: Morning Conductor, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Genova, Italy
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Autoport
19:00: Oceanex Sanderling sails for St. John’s


Footnotes

I’ll be at council today, I hope, live-blogging via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.


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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. I have never lived anywhere where “public consultation” was more of a mug’s game. It is getting infuriating to my CFA brain to spend hours on consultations that are promptly discarded. I’m just not going to participate anymore. The fix is already in. I find the idea of discarding the Shannon Park plan (that actually looked humane and thoughtful) for a bleeding stadium for a failing franchise is pure graft.
    Ugh.

  2. As much as I’d rather not see our tax dollars spent on a stadium, it seems likely that it will happen given the lack of respect paid to public consultation. If it does happen though, can we not do something nice and progressive? Those renderings look pathetic, and $150 million is an awful lot to spend on two bleachers and a parking lot.

    A week or so ago while lost down some wikipedia wormhole I came across Stade Oceane in Le Havre France, home to a second-division soccer team, and unusually for Europe a municipally owned stadium. At 25,000 seats it is more than twice the capacity of what is proposed here. Also it is energy positive, supplying more electricity than it consumes. It even looks good. Build cost is reported to be 101 million Euros in 2012, roughly the same amount of money not allowing for inflation.

    https://stadeoceane.com/

    For a city that is so desperate to be ‘world-class,’ there is such a lack of vision and ambition here. If in the end we do pay for a stadium, could we at least do it right instead of again spending big money for cheap shit like the convention center?

    1. Thank you Andrew Munro for sharing your wormhole wandering. Instead of adding more negativity you have given us a gem of a possibility. With more data I could probably get behind support for your discovery. This has merit also for the other uses than simply as a pissant money losing, second rate team in a second rate football league. Why not add soccer, lacrosse, field hockey etc.
      A world class venue would attract world class events that would attract people across the region not just from greater Halifax.

  3. “…the goal for any stadium being as a year-round community facility”

    An open stadium in Nova Scotia would be used year-round. Right.

  4. Federal election this year and there are few votes to be had if a candidate supports a stadium.
    Municipal election next year – few councillors will be willing to risk defeat for supporting a stadium.
    Provincial election in 2021 – no party will risk defeat for support ing a stadium.
    LeBlanc has not committed nor described the $60,000,000 he says his group will spend on a stadium.
    Talk of expanding the CFL into Central America is a joke – the league barely survives in Canada and the 78 year old owner of the BC Lions cannot find a buyer : ” If you spend any time around Wally Buono, you quickly realize everything he says has a purpose.

    Thus, when he says it’s time for David Braley to sell the Lions to local ownership, you have to assume he isn’t expressing an idle thought.

    According to sources, this market’s never-ending story will be revived in the near future, meaning the for-sale sign is going up on the B.C. Lions. This is as it should be. Braley is 77. He was responsible for saving the Lions in the mid-90s but, as things stand, the franchise is perilously close to returning to the state in which he bought them.

    There are differences, of course. The TSN TV-contract being principal among them. But the Lions are also fighting the same level of apathy they encountered when they went bankrupt. Something has to be done to engage this fan base and Buono knows this to be true. ”
    https://theprovince.com/sports/football/willes-musings-local-ownership-is-a-must-if-b-c-lions-are-going-to-overcome-apathy
    The dog and pony show re a Halifax franchise is an attempt to keep an almost comatose league alive.
    Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch and the dead parrot.

  5. Look at all those private boxes for sale to all the corporate and government muckety mucks who helped get the taxpayers to foot the bill for the luxury accommodations. Forget about the private profits for Mr LeBlanc et al.