1. OPOR

“This is a story about a potential half-billion-dollar health-care services contract, alleged cozy dinners between bidders and bureaucrats, an unusual legal letter and accusations the government’s tender process was unfair,” writes Chronicle Herald reporter Paul Schneidereit:

The planned purchase of a new provincewide electronic health record (EHR) system — expected to cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars — is among the largest public-sector procurements in Nova Scotia history.

The final tender for the One Person One Record (OPOR) project went out in June 2017. Two of the biggest companies in the EHR industry — Cerner and Allscripts — were the only firms allowed to bid, based on results of a qualification round.

A final decision could be announced this fall.

But as government’s 16-month evaluation of bids from the two U.S.-based companies nears a conclusion, serious questions are being raised about the process and whether it will yield the best deal possible for the province.

This is a complex story about an obscure government tendering project, but Schneidereit breaks it down and explains it well.

The gist of it is that one company, Allscripts, seems to have been the preferred company of officials at the Nova Scotia Health Authority and that other companies were unfairly excluded from the bidding process.

The issues raised in the story are important, and the story has legs.

Congratulations to Schneidereit for his good work. It’s refreshing to see this sort of investigation coming from the Chronicle Herald.

3) On a related matter, I wonder how many of the dozens of lobbyists mentioned in this expose are actually REGISTERED under our Lobbyists’ Registration Act? @larochecbc @Tim_Bousquet @mtuttoncporg @MichaelTGorman @SarahRitchieTV @CTVAnchor @TwitCoast @thesmacleodshow @skimber pic.twitter.com/POCwIaGDLG

— BigJ ‘Double Boosted’ McC (@BigJMcC) October 25, 2018

Good question, @BigJMcC!

For the record, none of the companies or the employees named in Schneidereit’s story have registered with the provincial Registry of Lobbyists. Zero. Nada.

2. Biomass

“We need to curb emissions now, today, and over the next 20–30 years if we are to have a chance at avoiding environmental catastrophe,” wrote energy analyst Peter Ritchie in a Feb.25, 2018 letter to Jason Hollett, the executive director of Climate Change at the Nova Scotia Department of Environment. “This is not hyperbole; this is fact. The biomass boiler at Point Tupper cannot reasonably be considered a renewable energy source, especially in light of recent media reports claiming that old growth stands of maple and birch, located on Crown land, are being cut down and chipped as fuel to feed this facility.”

Subsequent to writing that letter, the provincial Department of Lands and Forestry confirmed that old growth forests had been cut to feed the biomass boiler.

In another letter to Jason Hollett written yesterday, Ritchie notes that the warning of the International Panel on Climate Change that the speed with which global warmimg is happening makes it imperative Nova Scotia stop adding to the production of carbon and take action by shutting down the biomass boiler. Truly renewable sources of energy such as wind or solar or hydro could be used to generate power for Port Hawkesbury Paper instead, says Ritchie.

The video below provides a quick explanation for why burning biomass to produce electricity is not carbon neutral but adding carbon to the atmosphere. Linda Pannozzo’s article “Feeding the Fire” gets into it in more detail.

3. Crane operators strike

“Most of the cranes in Halifax will be still for the next few weeks as their operators take to the picket line, likely delaying major projects like Queen’s Marque,” reports Haley Ryan for StarMetro Halifax:

More than 100 members of the Operating Engineers, Local 721 in Halifax and across mainland Nova Scotia walked off the job Wednesday in a legal strike.

Groups of union workers were seen picketing outside developments like Queen’s Marque on the Halifax waterfront and new South Park St. YMCA and residential development on Wednesday, with many carrying signs calling for fair wages and retroactive pay.

4. Another claim against Dufferin Gold

The Dufferin gold mine. Photo: Natural Resources Magazine

A third claim has been filed against Maritime Dufferin Gold Corporation.

Dufferin Gold is a division of the Vancouver-based Resource Capital Gold Corporation. In the spring, it was operating an underground gold mine at Port Dufferin and was aiming to open three more mines at West Dufferin, Forest Hill, and Tangier. But mining operations appear to have stopped, with Dufferin Gold leaving behind a string of creditors.

Last month, I reported that Central Equipment and Battlefield Equipment had claims of $37,766.33 and $70,680.44 respectively against Dufferin Gold. This week, the New Brunswick-based Source Atlantic Limited has filed a $25,653.68 claim against Dufferin Gold; Source Atlantic says that amount represents money owed for services plus a 24 per cent annual interest agreed to by Dufferin Gold.

As I wrote last month:

The Dufferin mining operation was plugged in the Fall 2017 edition of The Geological Record, a publication of the provincial government that cheerleads for the mining industry:

Resource Capital Gold Corporation of Vancouver continues to ramp up production at the Dufferin mine near Port Dufferin, Halifax County, N.S. The company reports that 3235 tonnes of ore were processed in the gravity separation mill in September at a recovered grade of 8.0 g gold per tonne. The mill has a capacity to process 300 tonnes per day. The company is incrementally increasing its reclamation security and will continue to do so until April 2018. At that point, the province will hold sufficient funds to reclaim the site in accordance with the reclamation plan.

So far as I can determine, there’s been no announcement that mining has ceased at Dufferin, but without equipment, I don’t know how work can proceed.

Supposedly, about 50 people have been working at the mine.

5. Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly. Photo: Tim Bousquet

“Charlottetown’s chief administrative officer Peter Kelly was the subject of some heated debate Wednesday, Oct. 24 at The Guardian’s Charlottetown Mayoral Debate,” reports Dave Stewart for the Charlottetown Guardian:

All five candidates vying for mayor — Philip Brown, Kim Devine, Cecil Villard, Jamie Larkin and William McFadden — participated.

Kelly assumed his duties as the top unelected official in the capital city on May 1, 2016 after serving in the same role in Alberta’s Westlock County. HIs permanent hiring as Charlottetown’s CAO came after a report from Alberta concluded Kelly acted outside his authority while working for a municipality there — charges Kelly denied.

And, on Wednesday night, debate moderator Wayne Thibodeau, managing editor of The Guardian, asked the candidates if Kelly would stay on as CAO if they were elected mayor.

See a video of the debate at the link.

6. Hali-podcast-famous

Last month, the satirical CBC program This is That had a hilarious piece about Nova Scotian prisoners being housed in vacant downtown Halifax condos.

Yesterday, Benjamin Walker opened his Theory of Everything podcast with that This is That piece, and went on to interview the This is That crew.


Government

City

Thursday

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Friday

No public meetings.

Province

No public meetings Thursday or Friday.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship (Thursday, 12pm, Room 5053, Rowe Management Building) — screening of the documentary. From the listing:

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship is a documentary which focuses on the need for open access to research and science, questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, examines the 35–40% profit margin associated with the top academic publisher Elsevier and looks at how that profit margin is often greater than some of the most profitable tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google.

Guy Livingston (Thursday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — the pianist/broadcaster/artist will speak.

La Falange y el Discurso de la Hegemonia Cultural en la España Prefranquista (Thursday, 4pm, Room 2130, McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building) — Maria Jose Gimenez Mico will deliver this lecture in Spanish.

Rick Hansen (Thursday, 7pm, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — the disability activist and former Paralympian will speak. Register here.

Mini Medical School (Thursday, 7pm, Theatre B, Tupper Link) — Geoffrey Williams will speak on “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: The Burn that Burns,” followed at 8:15pm by Heather Rigby on “Movement Disorders.”

Friday

Using the Hydration of Zirconium MOFs to Develop New Functional Materials (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Barry A. Blight from the University of New Brunswick will speak.

p-orderings, Fekete n-tuples and capacity in ultra-metric spaces (Friday, 3pm, Room 227, Chase Building) — Keith Johnson will speak. His abstract:

This talk will describe how constructions originating in the study of integer valued polynomials can be used to compute some invariants of subsets of ultra-metric spaces which are of interest in analysis.

Forms of Argument in Early China: A Mohist Philosophical Legacy (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1130, McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building) — Douglas Berger from Leiden University, Netherlands, will speak.

Vladimir Putin: For and Against (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Norman Pereira and Denis Kozlov will speak.

Mount Saint Vincent

Friday

Networked Gothic: The Twenty-First Century (Friday, 2pm, Keshen Goodman Library) — Karen MacFarlane will speak.


In the harbour

06:00: Arsos, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Kingston, Jamaica
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
07:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Argentia, Newfoundland
07:00: Regal Princess, cruise ship with up to 4,271 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John (seven-day round-trip cruise out of New York)
11:30: Ef Ava sails for sea
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
13:00: FMT Knidos, 0il tanker, arrives at anchorage for bunkers from Houston
21:30: Regal Princess sails for New York
21:30: Arsos sails for Kingston, Jamaica
23:30: Victory 1, cruise ship, sails from Pier 24 for sea


Footnotes

We have two articles almost ready for publication — one by El Jones, one by myself. They just didn’t make it in time for Morning File. Check back later this morning.


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

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  1. Biomass is hardly an appropriate term for much needed old tree forest. That seems more suggestive of switch grass or trash from beanfields and the like. Definitely, solar sounds much more ecologically sound.

  2. Yesterday Mayor Savage and Councillor Mason met with Karen Oldfield,CEO Halifax Port and Hector Jacques,Chair Halifax Port.
    I hope Mayor Savage understands that a 1 mile long train of containers would stretch along the downtown Dartmouth waterfront from under the MacDonald bridge to the sewage treatment plant just beyond the entrance to Kings Wharf.

    1. The only realistic approach ( from a time, cost and environmental perspective) is rail transport of containers out of the seaports to some redistribution area located on lower cost land outside of Halifax. This is the approach which has been taken by other successful ports in North America, including the Ports of New York and New Jersey, and Long Beach. HRM already has rail lines in place that can be modified and used near the two port facilities on the Peninsula. The ugly truth is that existing container port lands are likely to highly polluted and not usable for other purposes without remediation. Better to work with the facilities that are already there and figure out how to move the containers off site more quickly and efficiently.

  3. Years ago I attended a seminar on biomass fuel projects. All of the examples were small-scale, a small factory, schools, apartment buildings. At the time the Dalhousie NB generating station was set to close for want of a fuel to replace oil and orimulsion. (It eventually closed and was imploded) Someone asked it was feasible to convert the generating station to biomass. The speaker said no, because there wasn’t enough waste wood cuttings/wood chips/sawdust/other such waste in the whole province to run such a huge facility 24/7/365, and it would lead to cutting and chipping trees that were better used for other things or better just left alone. Also, he noted that biomass fuel wasn’t cost effective if the waste had to be hauled long distances. His advice was to use biomass for smaller, local projects that are close to the waste material.

    Or I guess you could just burn tires like that company in Nova Scotia does…

  4. In the past 2 years we have identified new Invasive Species in Nova Scotia’s forests, yet we allow cutting of wood to be transported across the province to be burned in that stupid boiler. Crazy!