News

1.  Goldboro LNG plant: no guaranteed loans, no definite source of gas

Proposed site of Bear Head LNG project near Port Hawkesbury

Yesterday, the Examiner published the first installment of Joan Baxter’s new two-part series on the proposed LNG plant near Port Hawkesbury.

In the intro to the piece, called “The Goldboro Gamble,” Baxter writes:

Not much about the project’s prospective financing and gas sources is all that clear, and there are no guarantees it will ever proceed.

But hey, a guy can dream, right?

The guy, in this case, is Alfred Sorensen, CEO of Calgary-based Pieridae Energy, which, Baxter writes, announced in late September that

it was signing a deal with the global engineering firm, Bechtel, to develop a detailed plan by March 31, 2021 for its LNG project — a natural gas liquefaction plant, tanker terminal, and associated marine facilities — in Goldboro, on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.

Baxter offers stories from the usual suspects cheering on big development news uncritically, then looks more critically at the questions of the proposed plant’s financing and gas supply.

While Pieridae touts its German loan guarantees, Baxter went to the German Ministry of Economics and Energy to ask about them. Here’s what they told her, in part:

We can hereby confirm that we do know the respective Goldboro LNG project in Nova Scotia and that a Letter of Interest (LOI) has been issued by the German Government. This LOI is legally not binding and shall only express that the project can be considered as eligible under the assumption that certain criteria are met. An LOI can be issued to support a German offtaker [buyer of the LNG] in the bidding process…

Kindly note that a final and binding decision on whether an UFK [loan guarantee] can eventually be granted or not requires the prior assessment of the economic, technical and legal aspects in detail and the compliance with internationally accepted environmental, social and human rights standards.

Baxter notes:

In spite of the German government’s request that Pieridae “avoid ambiguous wordings,” the “Facility Overview” on Pieridae’s website states that one of the project components is “US$4.5 billion in German Government loan guarantees to build Goldboro and develop Alberta conventional gas reserves to supply the facility.”

Can you imagine going around telling people you have a loan guarantee, when the truth is simply that the body who could grant you the guarantee is aware of your project? I cannot. But I guess that’s why I’m not a big-time entrepreneur or CEO.

Baxter’s story on the history and current state of this project is well worth your time. Read it here. (And look for part two soon.)

This story is for subscribers only. Please subscribe.

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2. Restaurants pass on lobster

Trapping and tagging lobsters in a study done in Minas Basin. Photo: Erica Porter

Jesse Thomas at Global reports on a few local restaurants taking lobster off the menu for now, in response to the actions of commercial fishermen over the last few weeks.

Thomas writes:

Dartmouth cocktail and wine bar Dear Friend boasts a hyper-local menu with seafood options, but you won’t find its popular lobster rolls on the menu right now.

Co-owner Matt Boyle says lobster is off the menu as long as the ongoing lobster dispute continues between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers in lobster hot-spot St. Mary’s Bay, located in southwest Nova Scotia.

“We wanted to try and do something. Even though it might be small, it’s meaningful,” said Boyle. “We don’t agree with violence, with oppression, racism or acts of vandalism.”

Having three or four places stop serving lobster is going to do little in the way of hurting people’s pocketbooks, and since the commercial fishery in Southwest Nova Scotia is not currently open, clearly the lobsters are not coming from there right now. But the importance of boycotts tends to be more symbolic, which does not necessarily make them less effective. Even Geoff Irvine of the Lobster Council of Canada acknowledges in Thomas’s story that “pressure from the market” could speed a resolution.

Also, kudos to Global for the headline on this story, which avoids the usual “tensions mount” language: “Mobs are attacking Indigenous fisheries in Nova Scotia. Here’s what’s going on.”

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3. Mass shooting inquiry news coming soon?

The Portapique sign on Highway 2 was adorned with a NS tartan sash following the mass shooting that began there on April 18, 2020. Photo: Joan Baxter

At CTV, Bruce Frisko writes that the federal and provincial governments may be providing news on the long-awaited inquiry into the mass murders of April 18-19 this week. He reports:

The provincial and federal governments says details are being finalized and some family members who are struggling to find closure six months after the fact think the probe can’t come soon enough…

Getting answers has been an uphill battle for the families, who had to protest initial plans for a joint, independent review of the tragedy.

A full, public inquiry was announced in late July, but the silence has been deafening since then.

“I think both the federal government and the Nova Scotia government are at fault for this outrageous and indefensible delay,” says law professor Wayne MacKay, who points to many unanswered questions, including the terms of reference and the identity of the new commissioner.

Frisko quotes family member Amelia McLeod, who is not only disappointed by the delays, but wonders “what they are trying to hide.”

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4. Clearcutting next to the Tobeatic Wilderness Area

Canoeing in the Tobeatic Wilderness Area. Photo: Philip Moscovitch

I don’t have a link to share here, but I heard a piece on CBC Radio’s Information Morning today with Richard Amero, on clearcutting beside the Tobeatic Wilderness area. Amero provided the show with photos, including one of a moose track by a logging road.

Amero took CBC Reporter Phlis McGregor on a tour of the area, and I presume McGregor will have a story on the CBC website soon. Amero used to drive a logging truck himself, and said his moment of epiphany came one day when he pulled into a mill with a load, looked at all the other trucks there, and realized there was no way the local forests could support this level of cutting.

The Tobeatic Wilderness Area is a true gem and I feel grateful to have been able to go on a few paddling trips there. One of those trips involved a forestry consultant who knew the cutting history of the area, which was pretty fascinating.

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5. Legislature to sit (then stand, then sit again)

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Also at CBC, Jean Laroche looks at the logistics of the fall sitting of the Nova Scotia legislature, “Canada’s only legislature not to have sat during the pandemic.”

There will be changes, of course, and Laroche details some of them:

All three parties have agreed to new pandemic rules that will limit the number of MLAs in the chamber to 29 rather than the 51 members that make up the legislature…

Debate will be halted every hour to give elected representatives waiting in the wings a chance to swap seats with those in the chamber, in order to give as many MLAs as possible a voice during proceedings, including time allotted for the two Independents in the legislature.

The legislature has sat for a grand total of 13 days so far this year.
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Views

1. Kids trying to get other kids reading

Damini Awoyiga, reading in the woods near her house. Photo contributed.

When I reach Robin Grant, she’s in the middle of reading an article called “Generation Z: End of the Alphabet, Start of the Future,” written by Laura Byrne, a member of the YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament.

Grant is the driving force behind Digitally Lit, an initiative that aims to get more kids in Atlantic Canada reading Atlantic Canadian books and using social media and other digital tools to share them.

“I talk about it as youth-led strategy and a youth empowerment strategy, because that’s a philosophy beneath it,” Grant said.

The backbone of Digitally Lit is a group of “Youth Ambassadors” with a love of reading, who agree to share their enthusiasm for the books they are reading with other young people. Ambassadors can be between the ages of 13 and 25, and are paid an honorarium of $100 a month, Grant said. Some ambassadors are happy to share stories about books, while others go further and create their own projects, with support from a team of Digitally Lit mentors. Katie Shaw, from PEI, put together a fan fiction writing contest, in which kids wrote alternate endings for books. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Oliver Hallet created a Buzzfeed-style quiz called Which Atlantic Canadian Protagonist Are You? (I’m Dylan Maples, from the Dylan Maples Adventure Series.) Almost all of the ambassadors are young women.

One of them, 13-year-old Damini Awoyiga, started an online Afro-Indigenous Book Club. (If Awoyiga’s name sounds familiar, you may have read El Jones’s story about the masks she makes and the poetry she writes and performs.)

I spoke to Awoyiga yesterday, after she got home for the day from middle school.

“I’ve been reading since I was four, and I tend to like books that have girls as a main character, or kids I can relate with that have different backgrounds, and different cultures,” she said.  While Awoyiga said she and her friends love to read, she’s also “noticed recently that more and more kids aren’t interested in reading… I decided to start the book club because other people around me didn’t understand the issues and realities of Black and Indigenous people. I wanted people to learn more… through my Afro-Indigenous Book Club.”

Awoyiga said so far she’s had fewer sign-ups for the club than she was hoping (about 10 people), but it’s still early. They’ve held one preliminary meeting over Zoom, and at their next meeting they’re going to discuss their first book — Mayann Francis: An Honourable Life. Francis herself is going to participate and take questions from the club members. Awoyiga said she’ll choose the first couple of books, then run Instagram polls so the club members can vote on future selections.

At the club’s first meeting, Awoyiga said, members discussed getting together to do some information leafleting and brainstormed ideas for flyers. “I want the kids that are in the book club to not only just read the books and understand the reality of Black and Indigenous peoples, but to use the platform to make change in our community and in the world,” she said.

That’s exactly the kind of response Grant was hoping for.

Five minutes into our conversation, Grant is talking about Paolo Freire, and critical pedagogy, human rights, critical analysis of power, and youth social justice movements.

Digitally Lit, she said, has both an “overt” and a “covert” mandate.

“Our overt mandate is to make sure reading remains relevant and a meaningful activity for future generations,” she said.

And the covert mandate?

“It is to help young people to work together to imagine and co-create bright futures together through books. It’s about them taking action and being empowered to do that instead of feeling helpless. Give them a vehicle, and the vehicle is books,” she said.

The program is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and supported by publishers in each of the Atlantic provinces. Grant herself used to be a sales and education rep for Nimbus, and still produces the publisher’s Book Me podcast. Obviously, there is a benefit to local publishers in having kids reading their books. But Grant said buying the books is not a requirement for people who want to participate in the book club. The club offers a promo code for discounts, and, Awoyiga says, “we can arrange a way for them to get the book for free” if needed. One club member didn’t have access to a printer for the consent form, “so we found ways to make it accessible for them,” she added.

I will admit that whenever I hear adults (Grant is 49) talking about youth-led or youth-empowering strategies, it gets me wondering just how youth-led they are, so I asked Awoyiga about that. She said, “We’re allowed to take it wherever we want to. And one of the things that I really like about Digitally Lit is that they support you through whatever you decide to do. When I came up with this idea, they greeted it with open hands and they supported me. They found me resources. And they helped me contact Mayann Francis and reach out to her.”

Author Sarah Sawler  has done some consulting for the group, working directly with the young people, and that was her impression too. “For me, the real thing was to work with kids coming up with their own ideas and giving them the support to run with it,” she said.

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2. Ask Us Anything!

In past years, Tim Bousquet has hosted an annual subscriber party. I finally went last year (it was fun!) and thank goodness for that. This year? Not going to happen.

But we still want to connect with you and show our appreciation, albeit a bit differently this time around.

We’re putting together a special one-time podcast with your questions and answers from Bousquet and other members of the Examiner crew.

So, ask us anything. Big questions (What’s the future of local news?). Little questions (How early do you get up to write Morning File?). Silly questions (What’s Tim’s favourite beer?). I don’t know — you can probably do better than me in coming up with ideas.

I’m taking care of putting this together, so send your questions to me at philip@halifaxexaminer.ca, or send me a Twitter DM (they are open). You can write them out or, even better, record your question on your phone using your voice memo app, then send it to me. That way we can play the recording and hear your voice too.

You ask, we answer. This should be fun.

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Noticed

Coffee News. Image from story by Rob Csernyik in Canadian Geographic.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve sat in some little diner or coffee shop, looking at Coffee News, while I wait for my order to arrive.

Coffee News at first seemed to me like an excuse for local advertising, with the text as filler. The articles (such as they are) seem almost uniformly cheesy, and the jokes pretty terrible.

“What the hell is this thing?” I’ve wondered, more than once. Who is putting this out? Can it really make enough money to be worthwhile?

Freelance write Rob Csernyik had similar questions. But, unlike me, he pursued those questions and wrote a just-published piece about Coffee News for Canadian Geographic. (Csernyik previously wrote an in-depth investigation of casinos in Nova Scotia for the Halifax Examiner.)

Of Coffee News, Csernyik writes:

It’s the sort of retro, family-friendly humour an estimated 1.25 million Canadians read every week in Coffee News, the double-sided, tan community paper found in cafes and restaurants, chock full of positive news and trivia, horoscopes and quotable quotes with 32 ads running along the sides.

Readers might ask the other person dining with them what their horoscope is. Or the table will take the trivia quiz together. It’s analog entertainment in a digital world, largely unchanged since its debut in Winnipeg more than 30 years ago. Despite the waning fortunes of print products, it continues to make money for franchisees across Canada and around the world, self-styled as “The World’s Largest Restaurant and Coffee Shop publication!”

Coffee News was founded by Jean Daum, who first came up with the idea after she found herself reading sugar packets while waiting for her order to come in a coffee shop.

Daum passed away in 2007, but the company is still running, and two of her kids, Candice and Leslie, are involved in running it.

Csernyik describe the early days of the publication:

One key innovation was that the advertising was super-local, so instead of one edition in a large city, there’d be several. As Jean started, running the entire operation from home, she was publishing ten local editions of the paper herself and sometimes not sleeping from Wednesday to Friday in order to get them ready for print. The only bathroom in her apartment became the dark room — these were more primitive times — and Candice remembers occasionally hearing swearing when Jean realized an error and would have to restart her work.

Coffee News was never intended to be a big business, but after a few years there was interest from an outside market — Thompson, Man., several hours north. In short order the paper went from being something local to Winnipeg to a fixture in cafes and restaurants in communities small and large across the country, and later still, the world.

Csernyik is a talented business writer, and he does a great job giving us the backstory on Coffee News, its continuing appeal, and the people behind it.

Freelancers, take note. Csernyik mused about wanting to do a piece like this on Twitter back in March, writing:

If any editor would like to help me live my fantasy, I am willing and able to write a deep dive about Coffee News. Is the founder (A Canadian!) rich? Do people make money off these franchises ? Who chooses the news and jokes? And so on.

One of the replies was from an editor at Canadian Geographic:

Send me a pitch! Email in bio

A little over six months later, here we are.

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Government

City

Tuesday

No public meetings.

Wednesday

Public Information Meeting – Case 21875 (Wednesday, 6:30pm) — online meeting about the development of the former NS Home for Coloured Children.Inc. More info and link here.

Province

Tuesday

Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, Province House) — Don McCumber and Valerie Mitchell-Veinotte from the Royal Canadian Legion – Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command will talk about poppies. More info here.

On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Coastal Risk Governance: Lessons From COVID19 (Tuesday, 7pm) — presented by the MacEachen Institute and the Marine Environ​mental Observation, Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR). From the listing:

​If both COVID-19 and climate change are to be treated as emergencies, the response by our leadership should have many of the same characteristics, including a clear, adaptable, and coordinated approach. This panel will explore viable policy options for the climate during and following the challenges brought about by COVID-19.

Info and link here.

Wednesday

BRIC NS Primary Health Care Learning Series (Wednesday, 12:30pm) — Zoom webinar. George Kephart will present “Measuring the Complexity Case-Mix of Patient Needs to Inform the Design and Deployment of Collaborative Family Practice Teams”, followed by Ruth Martin-Misener with “Facilitators and Barriers to Addressing Patient Care Priorities in Collaborative Care Models in Nova Scotia:  Focus Group and Interview Findings from a Rapid Review.” More info and link here.

Jessica Esseltine. Photo: Twitter

Stem cells on the Rock(s) (Wednesday, 4pm) — Jessica Esseltine from Memorial University will talk. Info and link here.

Interrogating Whiteness (Wednesday, 5:30pm) — the first of a two-part panel discussion (Closed Captioned) with Benita Bunjun, Vincent Simedoh, Patricia Doyle-Bedwell, Tonya Hoddinott and Brad Richards. More info and link here.

There’s Something in the Water (Wednesday, 7pm) — movie screening with Ingrid Waldron and David Suzuki; they’re joined in conversation afterwards with community activists Dorene Bernard, Louise Delisle, Michelle Francis-Denny, moderated by Sherry Yano. Info and link here.

This Cleaving and This Burning (Wednesday, 7:30pm) — virtual book launch for J.A. Wainwright’s latest. More info and link here.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Women in Retail (Tuesday, 10am) — online panel with Solange Strom, Annemarie Dillard, Sarah Jordan, Janis Leigh, and Meghna Modi.

Register here.

Conversation on Indigenous Issues (Tuesday, 2pm) — online video premiere of a conversation with Margaret Robinson. More info and registration here.

Wednesday

Social Entrepreneurship Workshop (Wednesday, 3pm) — This webinar is about “creating social capital, as well as profit and return”; part of the RBC Talent Hub program. Link here.


In the harbour

02:00: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
06:30: Siem Commander, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from sea
06:30: Horizon Highway, car carrier, arrives at Richmond Terminal from Southampton, England
10:30: MOL Emissary, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Rotterdam
11:00: One Marvel, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
12:15: Maersk Mobiliser, offshore supply ship, moves from Pier 27 to Irving Oil
16:00: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba
21:30: One Marvel sails for New York


Footnotes

I’ve cranked the heat in my office, because I’m wild-fermenting (no added yeast) a bunch of grapes in hopes of making wine with them. Last time I tried this, I wound up with very good vinegar.

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Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. So here is the thing about lobster. It is not a staple. It is not a subsistence food stuff. It is a luxury item bought and consumed primarily by wealthier people in relatively affluent societies. What the commercial fishers in south western Nova Scotia refuse to understand is that their racist mob activities are hurting them perhaps more than anyone else, especially those to whom they are directing their rabid hate. Those who buy lobster are generally the type that don’t react well to these sort of knuckle dragging tactics. It is a simple matter for them to just go to the next item on the menu or have crab legs instead of lobster or whatever. It is fine for Bernadette Jordan to say that there are a few bad apples and most are hard working folks who just want to make a living, but those folks are standing by and doing nothing to stop those who they no doubt know well attack Mi’Kmaq fishers who are only taking a fractional percentage of lobster for their moderate livelihood. Good luck recovering from this damage.

  2. I do not like lobster myself; but if I did, I would buy from a moderate-livelihood-fisher rather than from a for-profit-business.

  3. I find it interesting that RCR Hospitality group are some of the restaurants saying they’re going to stop selling lobster, and yet, RCR is owned by Robert Risley, who is brother to John Risley, who we all know owns Clearwater.
    I wonder if R Risley was involved in that decision? His brother is definitely going to find some way to benefit off of the conflict between the Indigenous fishers and the smaller commercial fishers.

    1. 100 percent agree. I assume that’s why he’s partnered with First Nations for 25% of the offshore lobster quota. There must be a benefit to him in doing so. The RCR move is puzzling, particularly when no lobster from zone 33/34 is available yet anyway.

  4. While driving down Young Street in Halifax I saw the imposing Horizon Highway pass by. Just wondering why a car carrier went to the Richmond Terminal rather than the Autoport