Mike Savage is no Cabell Testerman.
Mike Savage is no Cabell Testerman.

News

1. Alan Fraser

Parkland Construction was charged with 17 workplace safety violations in the two and a half years before the death of Alan Fraser last year, the CBC reports. Fraser fell to his death while working on the roof of a six-storey building under construction in Clayton Park.

Four of the charges against Parkland related to the lack of guardrails or other fall-prevention measures. The company was fined a total of $4,400.

2. Savage defends tax break for billionaires

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage is defending the proposed change in the tax code to allow for a tax break targeted to benefit exactly one property owner: the Irving Shipyard. The CBC explains that:

The mayor says Irving argues their large new structure isn’t much good for anything but building ships — so the usual method of basing taxes on assessment will not work. 

Well, gee, Wilson’s filling station on Pleasant Street isn’t much good for anything but pumping gas. The Rubber Duck car and dog wash isn’t much good for anything but washing cars and dogs. The Sambro fish plant isn’t much good for anything but gutting and processing fish. The Halifax Crematorium isn’t much good for anything but reducing our earthly remains to the dust from which they began. But all those places pay their fully assessed tax bill without getting a special cut rate from the mayor.

Savage went on to say that he’s frightened of the all-powerful Irvings, that if we don’t give them a tax break the billionaires will use their special all-powerful lawyers to file an all-powerful lawsuit to get an all-powerful judge to slap the city around a bit, and it’ll end up costing the city more than the tens of millions in tax revenue the shipyard will pay—to defend, ya know, a fair and consistently applied tax structure. I’m not buying it.

This looks like classic submissive politics: Billionaires say “jump,” and craven politicians ask “how high?”

Remember all the hype about the benefits the shipbuilding program is supposed to bring? So far we’ve committed $20 billion in federal tax dollars in order to fluff Stephen Harper’s war-mongering ego. We handed the Irvings $300 million in provincial tax dollars so Darrell Dexter would have fodder for a sole-sourced PR campaign pumping his own failed legacy. And now we’ve got Savage foregoing a reasonable and consistent application of the tax code, like he’s a slack-jawed Appalachian county commissioner bowing down before the coal mine owner.

Actually, that’s unfair. Perhaps the best film about Appalachian coal mines is John Sayles’ Matewan, about the United Mineworkers of America struggle to organize the Stone Mountain Coal mine just outside Matewan, West Virginia. The movie is about so much more, but Sayles also tells the story of how Matewan Mayor Cabell Testerman had his existential moment of crisis: was he going to be a stooge for the company, or was he going to be his own man? In the end, Testerman stood up to the company’s hired goons and, well, now we have weekends, minimum wage laws, workplace safety rules, and all the other good stuff the unions have brought us.

Mike Savage is no Cabell Testerman.

3. Banal

Banal beer hooks up with banal clothing brand. Everyone will make millions.

4. Congrats

Metro reporter Haley Ryan is being recognized with the Raymond Taavel Media award, for “her sensitive approach to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, including stories of LGBTQ parenting and the murder of Raymond Taavel.”


Views

1. Halloween

Stephen Archibald shows us a collection of Halloween post cards from the early 20th century.


Government

City

City council (1pm, City Hall)—See the full agenda here. I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s twitter feed, @hfxExaminer.

Province

Legislature sits (1-6pm, Province House)


On campus

Saint Mary’s

The Internet: Do We Really Have No Privacy and Should We Just Get Over It? (Tuesday, 7:30pm, Scotiabank Theatre, Sobey Building)—Michael Geist, from the University of Ottawa, will talk about privacy on the internet.


Noticed

Oil prices are falling. A lot. The falling prices fly in the face of all expectations. No one, left, right, centre, predicted this, and it’s hard to understand what’s going on and what the implications are for the global economy and for climate change. Journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, who may be the smartest and most informed person studying the energy industry,  has written a good primer on the issue. It’s well worth the read.


In the harbour

The seas off Nova Scotia, 6am Tuesday. Map: marinetraffic.com

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)

Arrivals

APL Cyprine, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove West
Atlantic Erie, bulker, Saint Jean, Quebec to National Gypsum
Oceanex Sanderling, con-ro, St. John’s to Pier 36

Departures

Travestern to sea

Of note

The federal government is replacing the Princess of Acadia, the boat used for the Digby–Saint John ferry crossing, with the Blue Star Ithaki, a 12-year-old Greek ferry.


Footnotes

In the template I use for Morning File, I have some dummy text for this space that jokingly reads “navel gazing here,” so please forgive me for a bit of, well, navel gazing.

I’ve been working fairly intensely on something for the last week. I never know how these things will go, whether the time and effort put into it will result in anything at all, or if the end product will be of any interest to readers. We’ll see, I guess. Maybe it’ll be published later today, maybe tomorrow, maybe never if the lawyers throw a fit. But because I’ve devoted so much time to it, other things have fallen by the wayside, including answering a lot of email and writing a council preview. I’m terribly sorry about both, and I’ll try to catch up soon.

Moving forward, I have some plans to address these time and workload issues, but of course implementing those plans also takes time. It’s the curse of a small business owner.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Fuel prices down, eh?

    How long before Air Canada and the others abolish their hard too notice ‘fuel tax’ additions to air fares? Added during the rise of fuel costs years ago tAC and others have stubbornly refused to drop them since!

    About time now?

  2. The shipyard tax deal is in sharp contrast to HRM quite happily engaging in an expensive lawyers over the same matter with Citadel Hill. I offer that there is a discussion to be had there, “fair market value” is defined by its potential resale value. And that just isn’t obvious for that property. I’ll never be sold, so is either worth $0 or $∞; neither $0 or $∞ would be fair tax to pay.

    In any case, why would HRM be involved? The unmovable PVSC defines the “value”, HRM just multiples its, er, rationally thought out rate.

    The flip side is that the likes of NSP don’t pay property tax, but pay “grants in lieu of taxes”, and, so far as it never having come up, apparently do so happily, at least so its one less thing to ever be regulated over, or have the public pissed at them.

  3. Your story on the tax conflict between the city and the Irvings is almost as old as that company. NB is owned by the Irvings because, NB needed them, and, apparently so does Halifax.

  4. Tim, I’m hearing concerns around this in-camera item:

    13.2.3 Boundaries for the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes (BMBCL) Regional Park – Private and Confidential Report
    Motion: That Halifax Regional Council end the facilitated negotiation process with the developer’s representatives; and await the land owner’s, joint or individual, request to proceed with their development as per Policy S-3 of the Regional Plan for the lands within the Urban Settlement designation.

    You’re obviously insanely busy, but try to keep an ear out for any chatter about it.

    1. Concur with Joanne Cook on this, it would appear that HRM has given up negotiating with the developers to get the best configuration of properties to make up the proposed new Regional Park. Instead they are saying to the developers: “Submit you proposed development agreements for your projects on the lands in question, and let the public say if they are happy with your solution at a public hearing”…. That does not sound like the Planning Department doing the planning for HRM’s future, but rather leaving it up to the developer.

      Perhaps the developer(s) will take an approach similar to the Waterfront Development Corp. and bring their proposal(s) first to the public, prior to sending the project to HRM for processing? Now that would be a pleasant change from the way developer’s are doing business today.

  5. So by Mayor Savage’s logic…

    – My home isn’t much good for anything but living in.
    – I want to pay less in property taxes (as I’m sure would everyone else)
    – I propose I pay $5/year more than I paid last year. Good deal for me, good deal for the city (getting more $ than last year)
    – If everyone sues the city, then they’d have to spend more in legal fees than they’d bring in from the higher taxes.

    1. I’m with you on that. Do you think my moderately priced lawyer will scare the city though? That’s the rub.

      Pity that the folks with the legislative hammer forget so quickly who actually voted.