In the harbour
1. The Coup at the Pride Meeting
El Jones attended Wednesday night’s contentious meeting of Halifax Pride, and reports back:
The short version of what happened at the Halifax Pride Society’s AGM is that cisgendered straight people organized to vote down motions by LGBTQ+ people, leading to the walkout of most of the BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Colour) community and many members of the Queer and Trans community.
Because Pride bylaws allow anybody to register for the meeting and vote, an overwhelming straight majority (who openly booed LGBTQ+ speakers who pointed out that cisgendered, straight white people were voting down and silencing queer people) was able to flood the meeting. LGBTQ+ people only make up 5% of the population in Canada, so non Queer and Trans groups will always be able to outvote members of the community.
The result was that not only was the Queer Arabs of Halifax motion on pinkwashing voted down, but people who are not members of the gay community also voted down a motion by the only provincial advocacy group for LGBTQ+ people advocating that the LGBTQ+ community be able to set guidelines to determine the direction and content of Pride.
Jones goes on to detail the back-and-forth and the various arguments presented at the meeting, and then how the votes came down.
Click here to read “The Coup at the Pride Meeting.”
Deciding which articles go behind the paywall and which don’t is something of a coin toss, but in this instance I felt Jones’ article should be widely read even by people who don’t subscribe. Still, it costs money to make Jones’ work available. There’s her pay, but also the considerable time costs of managing comments and social media related to the article, and the ancillary money costs of operating the website. If you’d like to support El Jones, please consider purchasing a subscription and dropping me a note saying why you’re doing.
2. The PEI e-gambling scandal and McInnes Cooper
On Wednesday, Prince Edward Island Auditor General Jane MacAdam issued a report on the province’s so-called “e-gaming” initiative. “Gaming” is the euphemism because if you don’t call it “gambling,” no one gets addicted and the preachers don’t get upset.
A bit of history, as explained in plain language by Charlottetown Guardian reporter Teresa Wright:
The P.E.I. government began working on e-gaming with the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. (MCPEI) in July 2009.
The plan was to make P.E.I. an Internet gambling regulator for Canada, a plan estimated to be worth more than $20 million a year in new tax and licensing revenues for the P.E.I. government.
The preferred approach was to get agreements from other provinces to regulate gaming activities in those provinces. Plan B was to have the P.E.I. First Nations attempt to assert a constitutional right to conduct gaming.
The initiative was funded by the province through grant and loan funding to MCPEI. At least $1.5 million was spent on the initiative.
A confidential working group was formed in February 2010 to develop the e-gaming proposal. It included former finance minister Wes Sheridan, McInnes Cooper lawyers Gary Scales, Kevin Kiley and Mike O’Brien as well as Don MacKenzie of the Mi’kmaq Confederacy.
After more than three years of work, the provinces would not sign onto the preferred plan and an aboriginal law expert determined the Plan B approach would violate the Criminal Code of Canada.
Government walked away from e-gaming in February 2012. But work on the initiative continued by McInnes Cooper and MCPEI until January 2013.
In her report, MacAdam found that:
Due diligence was not applied by various senior officials and staff in approving, disbursing, monitoring, and reporting on loans and grants provided to MCPEI:
• Only one grant was supported with an application; two others were approved to pay for costs that had already been incurred.
• A loan of $950,000 was approved for MCPEI after over $750,000 of costs had already been incurred for the E-gaming initiative.
• The loan was secured by a guarantee letter from the former Minister of Finance, without Executive Council approval required in Treasury Board policy and the Financial Administration Act.
• The funding provided to MCPEI resulted in various government financial reporting issues.
• At a minimum, government incurred costs of approximately $1.5 million on the E-gaming initiative.
We noted issues regarding compliance with conflict of interest policies for deputy heads. We also noted a lack of due regard for contracting policies in awarding post employment contracts.
• We found compliance with the annual disclosure requirements of the Conflict of Interest Act by Members of the Legislative Assembly.
• There were numerous instances where disclosures for deputy heads and staff were not completed as required by the Conflict of Interest Policy.
• We noted situations of apparent conflict of interest with two senior executives involved in these files, a former Chief of Staff and a former Deputy Minister.
• Another former Deputy Minister, through a consulting company, secured various contracts within weeks of leaving her position with government.
Taxpayers’ interests were not adequately protected in arrangements with consultants and third parties, including non-compliance with Treasury Board policies on contracting.
• In pursuing the E-gaming initiative, the Government of PEI entered into a relationship with MCPEI and a local law firm without documenting the terms of the arrangement or outlining clauses on conflict of interest, confidentiality, and government access to information.
• Government was the primary player in the E-gaming initiative. However, the initiative operated outside government’s regular control framework and information was not accessible for review.
• There was a disregard for Treasury Board policies on contracting for services to initiate a loyalty card program.
The phrase “local law firm” appears 50 times in MacAdam’s report, but it is never named. Wright, the reporter, however, names it as McInnes Cooper, the Halifax firm that has offices in Charlottetown. Wright explains:
She also had other evidence showing McInnes Cooper was in fact working for both MCPEI and government and therefore should have disclosed its information on e-gaming.
MacAdam also discovered invoices that showed McInnes Cooper billed MCPEI for providing legal and investment advice to Sheridan on an investment decision for the P.E.I. Lotteries Commission – a provincial Crown corporation.
“Our requests for project information on the e-gaming initiative were denied including the arrangements made with third party contractors engaged by the local law firm (McInnes Cooper) to work on the initiative,” MacAdam says in her report.
MacAdam’s report shows that the province has paid McInnes Cooper $950,000 related to the e-gambling file. But, reports Wright, “McInnes Cooper sent a statement to The Guardian this morning saying its role in e-gaming was ‘as legal counsel solely to the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. (MCPEI)’ and therefore cannot disclose documents or information about its work on the controversial file.”
Here’s how a guy named Rob McEachern explained the situation back in March:
McInnes Cooper gangsters not only made the money vanish, they set up a ‘Straw Man’ company under the veil of Mi’kmaq Cnfederacy of PEI,(MCPEI) to hide the transactions and expenses. Complicit Liberal hack Don MacKenzie was the “Representative” of MCPEI. His background is clouded with Liberal hack Lawyer John Hennessy(brother of convicted Fraudster Liberal hack Professor at UPEI Sean Hennessy).
So McInnes Cooper, getting back to the story, they provided the E Gaming Committee members. Inbred political Conservative hack, and corporate associate Mike O’Brien was the Chairman, Gary Scales, Kevin Kiley and Chris LeClair, all three of McInnes Cooper, Wes Sheridan Minister of Finance and Don MacKenzie the MCPEI ‘Straw Man’. The whole thing was really a sham of a scam. What a bunch of tramps? Who picked the crew anyhow?
We know the 950,000 dollars went over to McInnes Cooper under the Straw Man scheme, none of the McInnes Cooper hacks or Mike O’Brien have ever spoken a word. They continue in well paid contracts and rewards, they were all complicit in the manipulation and disguise of Public funds without penalty or punishment ever.
Which reminds of the young couple who were driving to the church to get married, only to be T-boned by a truck; both were killed instantly.
When they get to heaven, they tell God that they’d like nothing more than to have their wedding in heaven. God thinks about it for a while, and says, “come back next year and ask me then.”
A year goes by, and the couple returns to God, saying they still want to get married. Once again, God tells them to come back in a year and ask again.
This goes on year after year, and then finally one year the couple again asks God for a wedding and he says, “Sure!” And so they have a heavenly wedding — the celestial choir, angels on harps, Cloud Nine, the whole deal.
But then a few months go by, and the couple sheepishly returns to God with hung heads. “We’d like to get a divorce,” they say.
“Are you frickin’ kidding me?” asks God angrily. “It took me 12 years to find a priest up here, how long do you think it’ll take to find a lawyer?”
3. An “innovative” museum exhibit
The province this morning issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for “The Design, Fabrication, Installation and Delivery of a Bluenose II Mobile Exhibit“:
As the Bluenose II prepares for its sail to Quebec City in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary at Rendez-Vous, 2017, the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage (CCH) is seeking the services of a qualified proponent to design, fabricate, install and deliver an innovative mobile museum exhibit which explores the legacy of the Bluenose II and its contribution to Canada’s maritime heritage. [emphasis added]
The original Bluenose was indeed an amazing ship and something to write home (or Quebec) about, but I don’t know if the Bluenose II added anything at all to Canada’s maritime heritage except for maybe Schooner Lager promotion, which was then truly an innovative use of the ship. The present boat is the Bluenose II only in name, and simply tools around the seas as a tourism promotion vehicle, which is harmless enough, although I worry that we can never be as quaint as we advertise.
There seems to be some rush involved in getting the mobile exhibit up and running: “The exhibit is to be completed and delivered no later than March 31, 2017,” the same day the convention centre is to be completed. Oh, wait.
So what’s this “innovative” thing all about? The RFP explains:
The exhibit will incorporate existing historical artefacts from the Nova Scotia Museum collection, with innovative new design elements (panels, touch screen technology, etc.).
Sorry to break it to CCH, but there’s noting at all innovative about panels or touch screen technology.
4. Pedestrian struck
Halifax Regional Police responded to a vehicle/pedestrian collision yesterday in Dartmouth.
At approximately 9:45 a.m., officers responded to Ochterloney Street following a vehicle/pedestrian collision. A truck turning left from King Street on to Ochterloney Street struck a male pedestrian who was crossing Ochterloney Street. The pedestrian was treated at the scene by EHS and later attended hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
The 73-year-old male driver was issued a ticket under the Motor Vehicle Act for failing to yield to pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Graham Steele consideres the teachers’ overwhelming rejection of their contract offer and suggests two courses of action for teachers. The first is a work-to-rule campaign:
Work-to-rule means teachers would still be on the job, but they would obey only the letter of their contract.
Quite frankly, teachers do so much above and beyond the contract that I think parents would be shocked at what our schools would look like if teachers did only what they’re contracted to do.
Rejecting public protests at Province House as “flashy, but ineffective,” Steele offers up a second suggestion: sustained political action at the riding level:
Politicians deal in the currency of votes. If you really want to influence them, you have to deal in that currency.
We’re less than a year from a provincial election. Although the McNeil government as a whole is riding high in the polls, MLAs in marginal seats are skittish. Imagine what would happen if teachers acted as a voting bloc and told their MLA:
• I won’t vote for you, and neither will my family.
• You can forget about putting up that lawn sign I took during the last election.
• I won’t be donating any money to your campaign.
Email. Telephone calls. Personal visits. On the street. If the message is concerted and (above all) sustained, teachers will have their MLAs’ full attention.
2. Cranky letter of the day
To the Charlotttetown Guardian:
I, as one Islander, do not want to support any form of organized crime.
I am not in favour of any organization that engages in violence, power and greed. Causing local residents fear and anxiety, in my humble opinion, bullying other human beings, is a sign of insecurity.
We need to take a firm stand if we want to keep our Island safe and peaceful.
Our law enforcement officers should be stopping these gangs from setting up shop on our Island of P.E.I., the land our ancestors worked so hard on.
These violent gangs need to be told they are not welcome, to grow up and not come back until they’re ready to be law-abiding citizens.
Juanita Leeco, Montague
No public meetings.
Donor human milk in Atlantic Canada (12:30pm, Marion McCain building, room 2021) — Martha Paynter will speak.
Chemistry of stones (1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Tomislav Friščić, from McGill University, will speak on “Chemistry of Stones: Development of solid-state routes to molecules and materials.”
Iran (3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, Room 1170) — Colin Mitchell will speak on “Shahzadehs and Lalas: Princely Governance and Custodial Politics in Safavid Iran.”
Fair Trade (12:30pm, Atrium Building, AT 216) — Gavin Fridell will speak on “Does Fair Trade Fight Poverty?”
Gratitude (3:30pm, Loyola 171) — Adrienne Martin will speak on “What kind of a debt is a debt of gratitude (or is it a debt at all)?”
In the harbour
7am: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney with up to 3,756 passengers
7am: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John with up to 2,580 passengers
7am: Seven Seas Mariner, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 34 from Charlottetown with up to 779 passengers
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
8:30am: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint John with up to 1,254 passengers (The Halifax Examiner page on the Crystal Serenity)
10:30am: MSC Immacolata, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Sagunto, Spain
10:30am: Silver Whisper, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 23 from Boston with up to 466 passengers (tracker)
3:30pm: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
3:30pm: Seven Seas Mariner, cruise ship, sails from Pier 34 for Bar Harbor
6pm: Silver Whisper, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Sept-Iles, Quebec
6:30pm: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Boston
6:30pm: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for New York
6:15am: Maersk Penang, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from Montreal
Due to Hurricane Matthew, the cruise ship Disney Magic is being diverted from a Caribbean cruise to a Maritime cruise — leaving New York and making the Saint John, Halifax, Sydney loop before heading back to New York. Expect a lot of under-dressed, cold people wandering around the boardwalk Sunday.
I had a very positive interaction with a civil servant yesterday. I wish I could say more, but I’m afraid she’d lose her job.
h/t Hecate for the lawyer joke.
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Does anyone know whether cranky letter about chasing “gangs” from PEI refers to previous story, “The PEI e-gambling scandal and McInnes Cooper”?
Other internet chatter indicates there was some discussion of how to keep out non-LGBTQ+ peoples, ultimately rejected as there is no way to prove that, and also that their by-laws don’t allow it.
Its curious that El has some straight-dar that is more ethically tuned then the organizers.
Great piece from PEI on that gaming report. Beyond the story itself, this illustrates the importance of having professional journalists reporting in a “paper of record”. Having followed her work for years, I think Theresa Wright is one of if not the best print journalists in the maritimes.
Tim, on the note about subscriptions and the Pride AGM article, I’ll admit that I’ve been too busy to put my subscription to use for some time. But yesterday, I dug threw emails looking for my login info and did a password reset and all that jazz in an effort to read El’s piece. No other organization had that kind of coverage. I’m definitely better off in understanding the community around me because of her reporting, both on the AGM and in general. So, keep up the good work and more of El, please!
Y’all don’t know what it’s like to walk the mean streets of Montague PEI.
Somebody needs to clue Graham Steele in on how unions work. A 70% rejection rate is not an overwhelming rejection. it is an overwhelming disaster for the union. You need low 90’s+ on contract or strike votes. It never ceases to amaze me how people who have never actually been in a union come up with bizarre views on how this works.
But then again, maybe this is why Graham Steele’s NDP is no longer in government and the Liberals are. It’s pretty hard to negotiate effectively when you don’t even know the game.