1. Green growth won’t save us
We’ve published the second of Linda Pannozzo’s four-part series on the climate change emergency and the economy. In this part, Pannozzo interviews two authors who argue that we can’t solve the climate crisis with our business-as-usual, ever growing capitalist economy. She writes:
Anders Hayden has a finger on the pulse of the growing debate about economic growth, green or otherwise, and its alternatives.
Hayden is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Dalhousie University and the author of the 2014 book When Green Growth is Not Enough: Climate Change, Ecological Modernization, and Sufficiency, which compared Canada’s and Britain’s actions on climate change, focusing on three competing approaches to the problem: business as usual, ecological modernization, and sufficiency. On the first page of his book, Hayden raises “the inconvenient issue,” of whether the continued prioritization of economic growth is even compatible with the deep emissions cuts that climate science suggests are urgently necessary.
In an interview with Hayden, I pose his question back to him. “There can be compatibility up to a point,” he says. “If you’re doing things like a large scale energy efficiency retrofit program, you’re going to be creating employment, you’re going to be saving money, and in a province that imports fossil fuels you’re going to reduce the outflow of funds from the region. So there are some conventional economic benefits of actions like that.”
“Capitalism is built on endless cycles of profit-making and capital accumulation,” but this notion of unlimited growth, in which capitalism is so firmly rooted, is a “fantasy,” says Hayden. So, even though some “win-win” situations do exist, new approaches to dealing with climate change need to be able to emerge. “But in the political sphere there has been very little space for those other ideas,” he says, and “gaining political support around alternatives to endless growth” has been difficult.
“Partly it’s about what business wants to hear. They want expansion and profit, but it’s also what labour wants to hear, they want jobs, they’re concerned about employment, and you have to have a message for workers if you’re going to build a political coalition.” Hayden says there’s an “economic growth dance” among those “who acknowledge that endless growth does not make sense on a finite planet and yet they are finding themselves having to go back to these growth-based arguments because they are the ones there’s political space to advance.”
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2. Police and accountability
Yesterday, police chief Dan Kinsella held a press conference to talk about the recent spate of bad behaviour by police officers — three Halifax cops have been arrested (one for theft, two for what appear to be domestic violence events) in the last month.
I went to the press conference mostly to get a photo of the chief. Zane Woodford from Star Halifax appears to have had the same idea:
For what it’s worth, Kinsella is concerned but stands by the hard-working cops in the department who aren’t stealing stuff or beating up their loved ones. You can read Woodford’s colleague Haley Ryan’s account of that concern here.
There were a lot of reporters at the press conference, maybe 15 or 20. The CBC had so many people present that I worried a sudden rain storm wouldn’t get the proper coverage.
I managed to get off one question during the press conference. I asked:
With the high number of incidents, is there a cultural or institutional problem at Halifax Regional Police? You keep talking about accountability, but it feels to me anyway that there’s a sense among at least some officers that there is no accountability and that they will suffer no consequences and therefore there’s no check on their behaviour.
Well, certainly, as I mentioned, one arrest, one charge, one too many. I don’t want these three incidents to overshadow the great work that’s being done by our members each and every day, both sworn and civilian. The message is: live the values, obey the law, do your job. If you step outside of that, then there will be consequences.
I’ll take that as a “no.”
It might reflect my Catholic upbringing, but I tend to view human organizations as inter-connected communities that cross-pollinate and either support each other or infect each other. You can’t isolate one part of the community. So, when the Founder and CEO is snorting coke in the boardroom and sexually assaulting colleagues, it follows that workers in the branch office will be cutting regulatory corners and ignoring safety deficiencies in the product. When teachers are incentivized to cheat on the mandated standardized testing of students, the bean counters in accounting are going to fudge the budget reports. Like that.
In the case of the Halifax PD, I think there’s an original sin that dates back to the long career of Verdun Mitchell, who was police chief from the 1920s until the day in 1968 when he blew his head off with his service revolver in his office. Mitchell oversaw, and covered up, untold police misconduct and was himself involved in criminality, a story I hope to tell in detail one day. (I once asked former chief Jean-Michel Blais about this, and he denied having knowledge about it, but said I should write about it; “you can’t defame the dead,” he said.)
There won’t be salvation for the Halifax PD until it deals with the sins of the past.
Less cryptically, let’s take a concrete example. After Kinsella answered questions, city councillor and police commissioner Tony Mancini took to the podium. We had this exchange:
Bousquet: It’s been six months since Glen Assoun has been fully exonerated. Court documents show — document — that Halifax police officers and RCMP in contract with the city were responsible in part for that through their wrong-doing, and you, the police commission, council, the mayor, no one at City Hall has said one word about this publicly. Do you think that might be feeding a sense of unaccountability within the police department?
Mancini: I don’t Tim, that’s a bit of a leap. One serious incident, it does need response.
Bousquet: Why haven’t you addressed it?
Mancini: I haven’t.
Bousquet: Why haven’t you?
Mancini: The only person who’s been addressing it has been you. And so we’re waiting for the process to take place. We’ve asked the chief for feedback on it, and we haven’t received it yet, we hope to have that soon.
Bousquet: Do you expect to apologize to Glen Assoun?
Mancini: The police chief? Who?
Bousquet: The city. You.
Mancini: We’ll have to see on that.
Before Glen Assoun was tried for the murder of Brenda Way, Halifax police were aware that serial killer Michael McGray lived very near the murder scene and police investigators considered him a suspect. But they failed to disclose the existence of that investigation to Assoun or his lawyer at trial, and Assoun was convicted. Five years later, RCMP police investigators under contract with the city of Halifax actually destroyed evidence that implicated McGray in the murder, and then failed to disclose that that evidence had once existed to Assoun’s lawyer. As a result, Assoun lost on appeal and spent another decade in prison. We now know that although he hasn’t been charged or convicted, McGray is the actual murderer of Brenda Way — among other evidence, he admitted to the murder to other prisoners — and Assoun has been fully exonerated.
Glen Assoun spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit in part due to police misconduct, and yet no one is being held accountable for that police misconduct, and the politicians won’t say the first word about it. So it’s not a great surprise that some cops think they can also lift the occasional steak from the SuperStore or beat up their girlfriends with impunity.
3. Saltwire v Transcon: the environmental problem
This week, Saltwire has amended its statement of claim in its lawsuit against Transcontinental Media. The amended claim makes allegations specific to three sites: one in New Glasgow, one in Yarmouth, and one in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Saltwire says that the sales agreement with Transcontinental included clauses that Transcontinental would conduct environmental assessments of the sites by hiring the environmental consulting firm GHD, then “establish a course of action with respect to the pending environmental issues” with the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland environmental regulators, and then actually clean them up.
Saltwire says Transcontinental failed to do any of the above.
I ran the Nova Scotia properties named in the claim by Rachel Boomer, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Department of Environment. She responded:
352 East River Road is, as you know, the former New Glasgow News building. There was a quantity of fuel oil spilled there in 2005, impacting approximately 450 tonnes of soil and 4,900 litres of groundwater. The remediation work was completed in 2005 and the final assessment work was completed in 2019; we closed the file last month.
Of the four PIDs referenced in Yarmouth, only one came up in our files (PID 90207978, located at 2 Second Street). Remediation work began there in 2002 after the removal of an abandoned underground storage tank. About 60 tonnes of impacted soil was removed from the site, and additional work was done to mitigate petroleum hydrocarbon concentration at the boundaries.
In December 2013, the department sent a letter to the property owner at the time advising them that new regulations were in place, and that it was their responsibility to ensure that they were in compliance with the new regulations.
In contaminated sites files, Environment requires that the property owner hires a qualified site professional and follows their recommendations to remediate the site. We close the file when the remediation work is complete.
I’ve asked the same question of the Newfoundland Department of Environment with regard to the Corner Brook site, but have not yet heard back.
The allegations in the claim have not been tested in court.
Oh, incidentally, Saltwire is now being represented by Michelle Awad and Gavin Giles at McInnes Cooper.
4. Alton Gas
5. A new fantasy for Sydney
“I’ve been paying pretty close attention to this drama I think of as the The Albert Barbusci Show, but I must have missed the episode where we asked Barbusci, our port promoter and the CEO of Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP), to identify a company with an untested method of converting plastic waste to fuel and convince it to set up shop on our harbor,” writes Mary Campbell in the Cape Breton Spectator:
The first I heard of it was when Barbusci issued a press release (his favorite form of communication and the only form in which the deep-water Novaporte and the adjacent logistics park Novazone exist) announcing he’d entered into a joint venture with Michigan-based QCI, LLC as part of what he’s calling his “Green Design Strategy.” The joint venture is called “NOVARe” because the person writing the press release didn’t notice they had the caps lock on until it was almost too late.
Campbell walks us through the announcement and then researches the supposed “green” process that is supposedly coming to Sydney:
And while QCI is liberal with it use of the “TM” symbol and claims to have patented its process, I couldn’t find any evidence of a patent filed by QCI with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This could be down to the patent having been filed by an individual or a related entity, so my findings are not definitive.
But I also searched for QCI’s various trademarks and I couldn’t find them in the USPTO data base or the Michigan trademark database, which maintained by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Fearing this was a function of my own poor search techniques, I contacted both USPTO and LARA to ask about the trademarks and was told — by very helpful employees in both cases — that neither organization had any record of the trademarks. (Michigan told me that not only were those terms not trademarked, there was “no record of trademarks or service marks with QCI, LLC as the applicant on file with the Corporations Division.”)
Ho-hum, just another day of getting Cape Bretoners worked up about unrealizable fantasies.
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No public meetings.
Legislature sits (Friday, 9am, Province House)
Noon Hour Brass Recital (Friday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — students of David Parker, David Moulton, Richard Simoneau, and Jack Brownell will perform.
Understanding Reaction Mechanisms and Structure/Reactivity Relationships in Oxidative Addition to Nickel(0): Implications for Cross‑Coupling Catalysis (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — David J. Nelson from the University of Strathclyde will talk.
Improving Progressive Consequentialism (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1130, Marion McCain Building) — Dale Jamieson from New York University will talk.
A Common Situation? Canadian Technical Assistance and Popular Internationalism in Tanzania, 1961 – 1981 (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Will Langford will talk.
Non-Traditional Redox-Sensitive Metals in Sedimentary Rocks as Tracers of Global Ocean Redox Conditions: Lessons from Phanerozoic Anoxic Events (Friday, 4pm, Milligan Room, Life Sciences Centre) — Brian Kendall from the university of Waterloo will talk.
Coffee’s On (Friday, 9:30am, SMU Art Gallery) — free coffee and snacks while viewing Tom Hammick: Lunar Voyage.
In the harbour
05:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:30: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship with up to 540 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Charlottetown, on an 11-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
08:30: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of Boston
08:30: ZIM Yokohama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
13:30: Pearl Mist, cruise ship with up to 216 passengers, arrives at Pier 24 from Pictou, on an 11-day cruise from Quebec City to Portland
13:30: Seaborne Quest sails for Bar Harbor
15:00: Brighton, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
15:30: Atlantic Sky sails for Liverpool, England
16:30: ZIM Yokohama sails for New York
16:30: Serenade of the Seas sails for Boston
Cruise ships this weekend
Saturday: Adventure of the Seas (up to 4,058 passengers), Amadea (up to 624 passengers)
Sunday: Riviera (up to 1,447 passengers), Zuiderdam (up to 2,364 passengers), Norwegian Dawn (up to 2,808 passengers)
Monday: Silver Wind (up to 355 passengers)
Enjoy the long weekend.