News

1. Pulp Culture

We’ve published Linda Pannozzo’s detailed review of how through the decades the province has oriented forest policies — and purposefully subverted science — to favour the pulp industry over the lumber industry. As a result, overcutting has resulted in smaller trees that provide less lumber, and now the sawmills are so invested in providing chip wood for the pulp mills that they can’t live without the pulp industry.

This part jumped out at me:

By the time the province’s first official forest inventory was published in 1958 — when Robert Stanfield’s Conservatives were courting two more pulp mills — the downward spiral first reported by [B.E.] Fernow [in 1912] was getting worse. The 1958 inventory showed that the land area covered with non-commercial or low-grade species was increasing and there was already a need for industry to “accept smaller and smaller stock.” 

But Stanfield’s government didn’t want a dwindling wood supply to stand in the way of attracting two more pulp mills to the province, not even if it was the truth.

“One precondition for the establishment of new pulp mills was documentation that the Nova Scotia forest could support additional pulp mills,” wrote [Glyn] Bissix and [Anders] Sandberg [in their 1992 book Trouble in the Woods]. They said that senior civil servants in the department were unwilling at the time to give such assurances, pointing to the wood scarcities forecast in the government’s own inventory. According to the authors, even the province’s first pulp and paper mill, Bowater Mersey, which was founded in 1929 on the banks of the Mersey River estuary in Brooklyn, was “fearing competition” from the specter of additional pulp mills, and also “supported the position of forest scarcity.” 

[T]here were powerful forces arguing that Nova Scotia’s forests could not sustain a second, let alone a third, major pulp mill. The provincial government, however, turned scarcity into plenty. Premier Stanfield instructed Lands and Forests Minister Haliburton to “get those people of yours ‘thick as sweat’ down to the [Hotel] Nova Scotian and lock ‘em up until they come up with an answer.

According to Bissix and Sandberg, the answer they came up with was a little less than kosher: it was to “revise” the 1958 forest inventories to artificially inflate the wood supply numbers. As a result, “reluctant” departmental personnel were “forced to concede” that there was enough wood to support more pulp mills.

Consider that the original bureaucratic sin that condemns the provincial forest bureaucracy to regulatory capture hell to this day. There is, however, no chance of redemption, no saviour on the horizon; there’s only further capitulation to the forces of evil, as we chase first pulp and then biofuel until the forests are dead, dead, dead.

Pannozzo is perhaps a tad bit more optimistic than am I:

These alternatives now have to be dusted off and considered with diligence. If we are to move towards ecological forestry, as [Bill] Lahey recommends, then we need to look at the closure of Northern Pulp not as a death knell, but a gift horse. All of a sudden there would be space created for the alternatives to be seriously considered. All of a sudden a lot of stands producing small wood wouldn’t have to be cut, and we’d all be better off for it.

The time has finally come for us to collectively acknowledge how bowing to pulp interests and being anchored by its demands have ultimately damaged so many of our prospects and that maybe the province really is only big enough for one pulp mill.

But we already knew that 50 years ago.

Click here to read “Pulp Culture: How Nova Scotia’s Faustian bargain with the pulp industry may leave the sawmills in ruins.”

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2. Northern Pulp’s environmental assessment

Northern Pulp’s map for the proposed new effluent pipeline.

Two responses to Northern Pulp Mill’s environmental assessment relating to the proposed effluent pipe into the Northumberland Strait have been received.

The first comes from Chris Miller, the executive director of the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-NS). Miller condemns the assessment for failing to properly address the disruption of wetlands along the pipeline route:

Unfortunately, so little information has been provided within the Environmental Assessment Registration Document for the proposed Undertaking dealing with “wetlands” that CPAWS-NS is unable to carry out a proper review. In fact, it is shocking just how little information is provided.

The deficiencies in the wetlands review are even more concerning, considering that the proposed undertaking occurs in an area with numerous wetlands. That “desktop review” alone identified 24 wetlands within the study area, including 11 swamps, 4 bogs, 3 fens, 2 marshes, 1 salt marsh, 1 wet meadow, and 2 vernal pools. Detailed on the ground assessments could identify additional wetlands, given the density at which wetlands seem to occur near this proposed pipeline route. In an area of elevated wetland density, you’d think that the Proponent would have been even more careful in ensuring that the required wetland assessments were completed.

Despite the lack of evidence presented, and despite only carrying out a single day of fieldwork where no real data was generated, the Proponent reaches a rather firm conclusion that the proposed undertaking will not impact wetlands. The report states the following:

“With the proper implementation of proposed mitigation measures, impacts to wetlands as a result of construction of the project are not anticipated to be significant.” (Pg. 240).

I simply cannot see how anyone could reach such a conclusion about wetlands from the paltry amount of data provided. It is not okay for a Proponent to seek environmental approvals now, without having completed the necessary work, under the promise that it will be done at a later date, after approvals are already received. That’s not how environmental assessments should work.

Using just the limited review of the wetlands portion of the Environmental Assessment Registration Document alone, and disregarding any other potential problems with this project and impacts on the environment, the Province of Nova Scotia cannot, in good conscience, approve this project as currently submitted. Seeing just how deficient the report is for wetlands gives me serious concerns that other sections of the Environmental Assessment Registration Document are similarly deficient.

Miller has much more to say about the assessment. Read his entire submission here.

The second response is from the Ecology Action Centre, and is written by Raymond Plourde, the Wilderness Coordinator; Nancy Anningson, the Coastal Coordinator; and Simon Ryder-Burbridge, the Marine Conservation Officer. It reads in part:

Despite its impressive volume, NPNS’s [Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation] registration document is very poor and fails to provide necessary information about key elements of their plan, including and importantly the content of the substances they wish to pump in large volumes into the Northumberland Strait and the potential impacts that it undoubtedly will have on marine life and air quality. The registration document seems designed to obfuscate essential details, downplay them or intentionally omit them altogether. It essentially says there will be no impact of any kind. This is simply not credible. In Table E.1.1-1: Summary of the Significance of Project-Related Residual Environmental Effects Predicted. Every row and column of the table contains ‘NS’ which represents ‘No Significant Residual Environmental Effects Predicted’, including water quality, fish and fish habitat, surface and groundwater and the entire ‘Accidents, Malfunctions and Unplanned Events’ column. It is inconceivable that after NPNS’s lengthy history of leaks, ruptures, over-limit emissions and other unplanned events that these predictions could be put forward credibly in a registration document for environmental assessment of this proposed effluent treatment facility.

3. Water protectors

Protestor Darlene Gilbert outside the straw bale house. Photo: Stephen Brake/ Kukukwes

“A group of 40-50 people opposed to a plan by Alton Natural Gas Storage Inc. to dump brine into the Shubenacadie River packed a courtroom in Halifax yesterday afternoon,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

They were there to support protesters Dale Poulette, a Mi’kmaw man who considers himself a traditional water protector, and Rachael Greenland-Smith, an environmental researcher. Both are named in a temporary injunction sought by the company.

Judge Gerald Moir will deliver an oral decision March 18 in a case where the right to own and enjoy private property clashes with aboriginal and treaty rights.

“This is at its heart a simple trespassing case,” said lawyer Robert Grant for Alton Gas. “The protesters have erected a barricade and interfered with access to private property.”

“There is more at stake in this case than a company’s property rights,” countered EcoJustice lawyer James Gunvaldsen Klaassen, who is representing the two protesters. “We believe Dale Poulette can rely on aboriginal and treaty rights, and this must result in the dismissal of the injunction.”

Click here to read “Alton Gas asks court for order to remove Mi’kmaw protestors from Shubenacadie River site.”

4. Bay Ferries

PC leader Tim Houston confers with Nicole LaFosse Parker, lawyer and Chief of Staff outside the courtroom yesterday. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson wrote this item.

The owners of Bay Ferries are fighting a court action launched by the Progressive Conservative Caucus to obtain information about how much the company is being paid by the province to manage the seasonal ferry service that runs between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor, Maine.

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal refused to give up specific information about management fees paid to the company even after the Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner recommended the amount be disclosed because there was no overriding reason to keep it secret.

Management fees are included somewhere in The Cat’s annual operating budget provided by the government. It has ranged from $10-$13 million a year.

Appearing before Justice Michael Wood yesterday, Bay Ferries lawyer Scott Campbell said the company intends to file a motion arguing the case should be thrown out of court. The argument revolves around a wispy technicality: the PC Caucus is not an entity recognized by the court so PC lawyer Nicole LaFosse Parker is obliged to amend her motion to name an employee of the PC caucus as the person bringing forward the appeal.

Under Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation, appeals to review decisions must be launched within 30 business days. The appeal motion filed by the PC caucus was well within that time limit but the amended motion to name  an employee will be “too late” to comply with that 30 day deadline, according to Bay Ferries’ lawyer Scott Campbell, so he can ask to have the case dismissed.

Justice Wood will rule on these preliminary motions April 1 which will determine if the case goes ahead. Bay Ferries’ lawyer Scott Campbell refused a request for clarification or comment. PC lawyer and Chief of Staff Nicole LaFosse Parker called the intervention by Bay Ferries “a delay tactic.”

PC Leader Tim Houston attended the brief court proceeding. He told reporters outside the courtroom, “Governments will go to great lengths to hide information from taxpayers and that is what we are seeing play out here.”

5. Nhlanhla Dlamini

Nhlanhla Dlamini in hospital. Photo: Stacey Dlamini

“A young black man who was allegedly shot in the back with a nail gun by a co-worker has settled a racial discrimination complaint with his employer,” reports the Canadian Press:

On Nov. 15, [Nhlanhla] Dlamini filed a human rights complaint, alleging he faced discrimination while working for P.Q. Properties, Ltd.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission said Tuesday that Paul Quinn, owner of P.Q. Properties, came forward to address Dlamini’s complaint through the commission’s restorative process.

It said they issued a joint statement as part of their settlement.

“By fully engaging in the commission’s restorative process the parties achieved their common goal of reaching a mutual resolution to the complaint while addressing the discriminatory actions Mr. Dlamini experienced,” it said.

6. Extinction Rebellion, PEI edition

“Protester Daphnee Azoulay says she doesn’t regret walking into the inner chamber of Charlottetown city council Monday night after she was told she couldn’t hold up a banner in the public seating area,” reports Laura Meader for the CBC:

Azoulay is with the P.E.I. chapter of Extinction Rebellion — a global grassroots group that wants to reduce emissions. 

Azoulay came to city hall with another protester while another member filmed their actions. 

“We wanted only to show our sign to the councillors, so it would not have disrupted the meeting,” Azoulay said. 

CAO Peter Kelly approached Azoulay and fellow protester David Woodbury almost immediately when they attempted to open up the banner telling them, “there are no signs allowed in council.”

Kelly took the banner from them. It was at that point Azoulay went into the inner chamber.

Police spent some time asking Azoulay to leave that area and when she refused, she was handcuffed and forced out.

7. Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly. Photo: Tim Bousquet

Speaking of Peter Kelly…  Andrew Macdonald is reporting that Andrew Scheer is asking Kelly to run for the Conservatives in the Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook riding.

You know, they already passed the Bousquet Full Employment Act by building the convention centre; that will keep me busy for the next decade or so. If Kelly runs, I’m going to demand overtime and a per diem, like for a sammy every time I go to Sackville.

8. The Icarus Report

“Air Canada routes between Halifax and London’s Heathrow Airport are affected by a U.K. ban on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft,” reports Rebecca Lau for Global:

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority announced Tuesday morning it was banning the aircraft from its airspace in light of the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people over the weekend, including 18 Canadians.


Government

City

Wednesday

Special Events Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 9am, City Hall) — agenda

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Wednesday, 5pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — agenda

Youth Programs Community Information Session – Spryfield (Wednesday, 6:30pm, 4 Cranberry Court, Spryfield) — facebook page here.

Thursday

Sewage Plant Estates (Thursday, 10am, Centre Court, Scotia Square) — go see how great it will be to live next to the sewage plant with no view of the harbour.

Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — another taxi driver who has been charged with sexual assault — Tesfom Mengis — wants his licence un-suspended. “I haven’t been convicted of a criminal offence and I maintain I am innocent,” writes Mengis in his appeal letter. “This employment is my means to support family.”

Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — renovation of the Tramway building, including a two-storey addition.

Province

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — hilariously, the committee will be discussing “Information Access and Privacy Information Technology Projects.”

Legislature sits (Wednesday, 1pm, Province House)

Thursday

Health (Thursday, 9am, Province House) — the topic for discussion is “Systemic Challenges to Our Emergency Care System.” Maybe they’ll let someone ask questions. Probably not.

Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Bicentennial Common Pop-up Event (Wednesday, 10:15am, Killam Library entrance) — from the listing:

Embrace winter with a free hot beverage and the latest information about Bicentennial Common​!​

Bicentennial Common is an ambitious reimaging of the high-traffic area stretching from LeMarchant Street up past the Killam Library to the beginning of the upper portion of Studley Quad​. This new public space will honour the legacy of the university’s bicentennial in the years ahead.

As the design continues, Dal is trying out various elements, including furniture and four new patio heaters. The heaters will be officially turned on at the event, but they will remain in place from now on. Take a look at the latest design and let us know what you would like to see in the space.

More info here.

Campus Budget Session (Wednesday, 12pm, Room 1004, IDEA Building) — more info here.

Hot Topics in Nature and Science (Wednesday, 2pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate students will present their work.

Campus Budget Session (Wednesday, 6pm, Council Chambers, Student Union Building) — more info here.

Three Minute Thesis (Wednesday, 6:30pm, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — graduate students get 180 seconds to present the complexities of their research.

Who Killed My Brother: The Tragic Death of Soleiman Faqiri (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Yusuf Faqiri will talk, and El Jones will comment and contribute a poem. From the listing:

For more than two years since Soleiman Faqiri’s death in a Lindsay, Ont., jail cell, no one has been able to tell his family how the 30-year-old man with mental illness died while imprisoned and suffering from schizophrenia. At this public lecture, Yusuf Faqiri will talk about his brother’s death. Through Yusuf’s efforts, an investigation into Soli’s death has been reopened. Yusuf will speak about deaths in custody, the journey to justice for his brother, and the treatment of mental illness in Canada.

Thursday

Campus Budget Session (Thursday, 4:30pm, Room 218, MacRae Library, Truro Campus) — more info here.

Free Tax Clinic (Wednesday, 5:30pm, Room 5001, Rowe Building) — volunteers will help those with a modest income and simple tax filing to file taxes on their own.

World’s Challenge Challenge Competition: Dalhousie Finals (Thursday, 7pm, in the Auditorium named for a bank, Marion McCain Building) — from the listing:

Global Issues such as poverty, food security, public health, inequality and environmental degradation are the product of global relations in which we as global citizens bear some responsibility. The World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) – a global initiative of Western University encourages young minds from different disciplines to come together to address a global issue, offering solutions to implement in partnership with communities. The WCC frames global issues through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Refugee Advocacy Association of Dalhousie (RAAD) Art Auction (Thursday, 7pm, Atrium, Weldon Law Building) — proceeds for the Halifax Refugee Clinic. Info on Twitter: @emmamarimaci

But the Nazis Loved Music, Too (Thursday, 7:30pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — William Cheng from Dartmouth College, author of Sound Play: Video Games and the Musical Imagination (2014) and Just Vibrations: The Purpose of Sounding Good (2016), will speak.

Saint Mary’s

Wednesday

Canadian Conscripts & the Great War: Myth and Legacy (Wednesday, 7:30pm, Room 225 in the building named after a grocery store) — Patrick Dennis will talk about his book.

Atlantic School of Theology

Wednesday

Grad Project Presentations (Wednesday, 10am, Saint Columba Chapel) — students in the Graduate Project & Seminar class will present their research. Info here.


In the harbour

07:00: Ferbec, bulker, arrives at Pier 25 from Belfast, England
11:30: Viking Conquest, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
12:00: NACC Quebec, cement carrier, arrives at Pier 9 from Providence, Rhode Island
16:00: Asian Empire, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Southampton, England
16:00: Arabian Sea, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Gioia Tauro, Italy
16:30: JPO Aries, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Mariel, Cuba
21:30: Arabian Sea sails for sea
22:00: Augusta Unity, cargo ship, sails from Pier 28 for sea


Footnotes

I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.

I don’t have a copeeeditor this morning; please be kind.

I made a stupid mistake this morning and it cost me 45 minutes and a lot of hassle. I was going to write a whole thing about a thing, but instead I’ll just give you a song:


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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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2 Comments

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  1. I worked in environmental sciences consulting for a decade and a half. I worked on many, many environmental impact assessments for both industry and government. I would have been ashamed to hand in work similar to that completed for Northern Pulp.

  2. The sewage treatment plant at 23 Melva Street in Woodside is less than 50 feet from several homes.
    The view of the harbour is partially obscured by an oil tank and passing railcars from Autoport. There was no smell when I last visited the premises. Shouts of ‘Environmenmtal Racism’ should be directed to the usual suspects.