There’s going to be weather today and for the next few days. Exactly a year ago today we got 50cm of snow (news reports called it 30cm, but it was clearly much more than that), on top of 10cm that had fallen three days before.
Frankie has everyone worried about this coming Monday:
2. Immigration announcement is more hype than substance
“As far as announcements go, this one was big — maybe, it depends,” writes Michael Gorman:
Federal Immigration Minister John McCallum stood in front of about 120 people at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday to say his government is preparing to significantly increase the number of immigrants in Canada next year and Nova Scotia would be a beneficiary.
McCallum’s news was greeted enthusiastically by the chamber crowd. And why not? If it actually happens, it would be the biggest thing for this province since getting the shipbuilding contract. But it’s the lack of guarantees, and recent history, that should prevent anyone from getting too excited yet.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
3. Lobbyist registry
Jacob Boon today in The Coast makes a good case for a lobbyist registry for City Hall.
Of course, the powers that be will resist such a thing — “I don’t see [lobbying] as a huge problem in Halifax,” Mayor Mike Savage told Boon.
Boon makes lots of important connections, but he missed one that’s worth pointing out: after he lost reelection as MP and before he was elected mayor, Savage worked for the PR firm m5 Public Affairs. That firm came up last year, when the city’s Environment and Sustainability committee rejected a proposal to use a herbicide to kill weeds in Dartmouth’s lakes. But before that vote, there was controversy. As Chris Benjamin reported for the Examiner (behind the paywall):
Councillor Lorelei Nicoll expressed dismay that the name of Jamie MacNeil — the m5 Public Affairs VP who recommended using herbicides — was made public in the staff briefing. MacNeil lives in Nicoll’s district. “It was very unfortunate to see the individual from District 4 identified in this briefing note,” she said. “When he asked to understand the process I did not say ‘are you OK with having your name made public?’ … I hope that never happens again.”
According to the briefing note, MacNeil had approached the council on behalf of an m5 client, Lake Management Services. Nicoll did not say why the public should not be fully aware of the involvement of either a herbicide company, its PR firm, or the PR firm’s VP. Regardless, the city’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Mike Labrecque, apologized for telling the public the truth.
And if m5 sounds familiar to you, that’s because it is registered to lobby the province to privatize Service Nova Scotia, and the firm’s vice-president is Chris MacInnes, who also sits on the Liberal Party of Canada’s national executive committee, and is married to Kristan Hines, who is the newly appointed chief of staff to Premier Stephen McNeil.
You almost need a scorecard to keep track of the insider connections: The former Liberal MP who is now the mayor worked for the PR company that secretly lobbied the city to buy poison from a client, the same PR company that lobbies the province to sell off Service Nova Scotia and whose VP is a Liberal party executive and who sleeps with the Liberal premier’s chief of staff.
Damn right we need a lobbyist registry at City Hall.
4. The boot
Yesterday on Facebook there was much ado about car booting at the store that used to be called Planet Organic. I can’t find the original post right now, but the situation quickly evolved and the new owner of the store — now called Organic Earth Market — has backed down, refunded the money charged, and fired the booting company.
The short of it was that people would drive to the store and park, but before shopping in the store might run over to the bank across the street or to the nearby Timmy’s. The vigilant booting employee saw someone parking but not going directly to the store, so disabled the car. The Subway does the same thing. I guess you’re not supposed to walk around Quinpool Road, but rather drive to each and every store, even if they’re across the street from each other.
All this makes for good social media fodder, but I kept wondering, whatever happened to the development that was planned for that parking lot?
CBC reporter Shaina Luck details a city investigation into an over-crowded house near Dalhousie University. The house is owned by Chinese immigrant Qun Liao. Liao rents it to Chinese students via Chinese-language message boards:
Liao says she is renting to eight people in eight bedrooms, each with separate locks. Based on plans Liao submitted to a city planner, it appeared some spaces that were marked as “dining room,” “family room,” or “office” are being used as bedrooms.
Liao says she is the victim of a smear campaign between her former tenants and the contractor.
“I have been bothered by the wicked Chinese carpenter for three months and lots of Chinese in Halifax they did know some parts of the story … no matter what they thought, truth is truth.”
Luck has evidently obtained documents the city doesn’t usually make public.
This is an extremely important issue, a health and safety issue that should concern us all. A fire in an over-crowded, inadequately alarmed (the smoke detectors were disconnected) dwelling is a disaster waiting to happen.
And this is where Canada’s and Nova Scotia’s over-restrictive privacy laws fail the public.
When I worked in California, I was able to pull the city building department file on each and every structure in the city, and find all inspection reports and bylaw infractions. By doing so, I could identify problem landlords, and potential renters knew whom to avoid renting from. Here’s an example of the kind of reporting that can be done when building records are made public.
To hide this information in the name of “privacy” for landlords is a disservice to the public and puts lives at risk. It’s long past time that the city open up its building department records.
1. To sir, with love
The old dudes got it hard, says John Demont.
2. Cranky letter of the day
I’ve read in the Cape Breton Post lately about the possibility of closing 19 schools, churches, social development agencies and commercial outlets.
This is followed by outmigration of our young people in search of employment, which should be enough to shock our politicians to take the necessary steps to stop this erosion and concentrate on ways to develop the area.
We need the help of all levels of government and we need it now. Cape Breton has a lot to offer and we can serve not only all of Canada, but also the United States from our port.
This can be accomplished with our port facilities which is a highway to the world by water.
We have one of the finest industrial park sites in Eastern Canada with access by air, water and highways but no rail. We have excellent educational facilities, hospitals and medical services, and a willing and capable workforce.
The one thing that we lack is good stable rail transportation. The present rail structure is in place but needs to be brought up to a level that it was when it was sold to the private sector. Once again we have all the necessary structures in place for economic development but we need rail to make it work. We have spent millions of dollars on the development of the port and the tar ponds to make the area viable for development. We now need the railway to complete the picture so the area can reach its potential.
We have every right to expect CN to return to provide the necessary services that I am convinced will be viable not only for the area but also CN.
I would like to point out the potential Cape Breton has to offer which will not only benefit Cape Breton but also the whole of Canada. There’s an old saying that old soldiers never die but fade away. I am 95 years old and have no intention of fading away, at least not until we have the trains back on the rails.
Returning after the Second World War I was very fortunate to have a good job waiting for me. I worked for 42 years for CN and it is my hope that the young people of Cape Breton can have the same opportunity that I had.
That can happen and it should happen and when it does then we can proudly say the place we live and work in is once again called industrial Cape Breton.
Officials sold our steel plant at fire sale prices. They stopped our rail service and that took away our opportunity of being viable for development. But one thing they cannot take away is our natural resources, our port and our harbour and as we all know they are building new railways all across the world with the hope of benefit to our environment.
As I have said before I am running out steam but the one thing I hope for is that we bring Cape Breton back to the way it used to be. If negotiations fail with CN then I feel that Sydney rail could do the job and that surely will benefit our schools and churches and small businesses that are having a hard time because of outmigration.
A northern Manitoba First Nation is making a bid to buy the rail line near Churchill. I wish them well.
Charles Palmer, Sydney
No public meetings.
Spuds (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — “Spud Marshall is the ‘chief catalyst’ at the co.space, an international network of changemaker homes and the co-founder of New Leaf, a nonprofit social innovation incubator â€” both launched in State College, Pennsylvania. Spud’s ventures are hubs for innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity and are designed to catalyze collaboration for good and for creating positive, radical change in the world.”
Maureen Googoo, publisher of kukukwes.com, a site that covers Indigenous news in the Maritimes, has started writing a daily news round-up — something like Morning File but without the snark and focused on Indigenous issues. Here’s her post from yesterday. Cleverly, Googoo puts together her daily post in the afternoon, meaning she doesn’t have to get up at 5:30am and try to sound intelligent before the coffee kicks in. Wish I had thought of that.
Kukukwes.com is crowd-sourced; I’m a contributor, and you should consider contributing as well.
In the harbour
Osaka Express sails to Cagliari, Italy
A real Irish bar doesn’t call itself an Irish bar.