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Join us Sunday, December 1, 4-7pm at Bearly’s (1269 Barrington Street). Entry is free for all subscribers. If you’re not a subscriber already, you can click here to subscribe or purchase a subscription at the event.


1. Doctors’ deal

Writes Stephen Kimber:

When the government announces its new contract with the province’s physicians, expect it to claim the deal fits within the guidelines it intends to impose on less powerful, more vulnerable public sector workers. It isn’t. Not even close. But that’s the McNeil smoke and mirrors. 

Click here to read “Doctors’ deal within government’s public sector wage guidelines? Not really.”

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2. Home for disabled adults

Jen Powley

“After the 2019 Emerald Hall decision affirmed that people with disabilities have the right to adequate care in the community, and after the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities criticized how Nova Scotia is doing on housing for the disabled (Nova Scotia still has more than 1,000 people with severe disabilities in institutions and a wait list of more than 1,500 for group homes), you would think that the government of Nova Scotia would jump at the chance to give people with severe physical disabilities a home within the community,” writes Jen Powley:

That doesn’t appear to be the case.

On February 28, 2019, EcoGreen Homes and I, a person who is quadriplegic due to progressive multiple sclerosis, presented a proposal to the Department of Community Services for a four-bedroom unit with shared-attendant care in a new mixed-use building on Gottingen Street. This unit would keep me and three other young adults out of a nursing home at a cost comparable with that of housing us in a long-term care facility.

We still haven’t had an answer from the department on whether the developer can move ahead on the proposal. The developer has left the space on Gottingen Street untouched at great expense to himself. After our presentation, the developer was asked how long the province had to get back to him. He answered two months. We are now in our ninth.

Click here to read “Province stalls home for disabled adults.”

3. The Climate Emergency

We’ve taken Part 3 of Linda Pannozzo‘s “The Climate Emergency” series out from behind the paywall. 

Click here to read “Part 3: How to turn off the economic growth engine.”

4. Halifax International Security Forum

The public pays $3.3 million a year for the privilege of the Security Forum being held in Halifax.

I’m opposed to everything about the Security Forum, but rather than go off on a rant about war criminals and how militarization will be the end of humanity, I’ll simply point out that the Security Forum is funded by annual grants through ACOA’s Business Development Program. Here is how ACOA describes that program:

The Business Development Program (BDP) can help to start up, expand or modernize business. Focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises, the BDP provides access to a repayable contribution for eligible start-up, working capital and capital costs of a new establishment, modernization or expansion project.

So the program provides interest-free loans to “small and medium-sized enterprises” for specific capital costs of a new establishment, modernization or expansion project,” and yet here the program is proving a flat-out grants for a conference (no capital costs) put on by an organization that is not only not based in Atlantic Canada, but isn’t even Canadian. (Its headquarters are in Washington, DC.)

Maybe someone can dream up a justification for spending public money on the Security Forum. I won’t agree with those justifications, but for the sake of argument one could say it raises the profile of Halifax, or it provides opportunities for Canadian military companies to hawk products, or it gives Mike Savage something to do on a November weekend, but none of those justifications can be squeezed into the stated role of ACOA’s Business Development Program. It’s a dishonest categorization of a public expenditure.

Relatedly, Mary Campbell points us to Pete & Steve’s The World, a podcast that appears to be created by Peter Van Praagh, the founder of the Halifax International Security Forum, and “I have no idea who Steve is (although I know he’s based in Toronto) and I have even less idea why their podcast is shared on the Security Forum site.”

In the seventh [episode], [Pete] and Steve decide the best way to encourage young Americans to care about the world is to call people at random and badger them into answering dumb questions. Their first topic is “lies” and their first call is to the Library of Congress where they ask a bemused employee in the poetry and literature division what she thinks about Donald Trump’s relationship with the truth.

She tells them that as a federal employee, she can’t comment, so they broaden the question to “the importance of fact when you’re wanting to seek truth” and try repeatedly to feed her what they want her to say but she politely refuses is and finally says that she isn’t comfortable with the questions.

Pete and Steve bicker between themselves for a while, then ask the librarian if she thinks their podcast will be a success.

She says, “I’m not really sure what the scope of your podcast is.” (I feel your pain, sister.) Then she says, “I’m going to have to let you go” and hangs up.

She sounded young, but I’m not sure they convinced her to care about the world. I think they convinced her they were morons.

They convinced me too.

Click here to read “Security can be fun.”

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
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5. Decarbonization

This morning, the Ecology Action Centre issued a report that it says “proposes a scenario that leads to 90 per cent renewable electricity, a complete phase-out of coal power, and significant increases in energy efficiency and electric transportation – all by the year 2030.”

I haven’t had time to read the entire 61-page report, but the gist of it is relayed in the Executive Summary:

This report describes a scenario for an accelerated phase-out of coal and oil-fired electricity generation in Nova Scotia that results in a grid that is 91% supplied by renewable, zero carbon electricity, by the year 2030. The scenario also includes shifting to more electric vehicles and to electric heat pumps for space and water heating that reduce tailpipe emissions from personal vehicles by 50% and emissions from building heating systems by 67%. A snapshot of the changes to the electric grid and the emissions in the scope of this analysis can be found in figures ES-1 and ES-2, below.

The results of our analysis indicate that such a transition is both technologically feasible and fundamentally economic. This corroborates a growing number of studies that point to the same conclusion: we have the technologies we need to make this transition, and the economies we will create by implementing this transition are healthier, wealthier and more resilient than the economies we will fall into by continuing to burn fossil fuels. Where we need to do the most work is on the soft infrastructure — on mobilizing the policies, institutional frameworks, and financing systems needed to take solutions to scale and do it quickly.

The technical and modelling work in this report is based on the three pillars of low carbon futures: efficiency, electrification, and decarbonization of the grid. It is only one illustrative scenario, but it reflects the rate and magnitude of change that is needed to mount an effective emergency response to reducing emissions throughout Nova Scotia’s energy sector. With an initial focus on an accelerated schedule for shutting down the province’s coal-fired power plants, the scope was expanded to include the fossil fuel consumption of buildings and personal vehicles. Key measures include a comprehensive, multi-billion dollar program of deep energy retrofits of residential and commercial buildings; converting half the oil-heated residential building stock to electric heat pumps; phasing out electric resistance heating in favour of heat pumps for both water and space heating; continuous improvement of the efficiency of lighting, appliances and other electrical equipment; and the growth of the electric vehicle stock to include 125,000 plug-in hybrids and 75,000 battery electric vehicles by 2030.

Supply side measures include 800 MW of new wind generation, 430 MW of solar power, the construction of the second intertie with New Brunswick, and increased purchases of hydropower resources from Quebec and the Maritime Link market block.

6. Lead in water

“Nearly two-thirds of Nova Scotia schools that tested their water for the first time this fall had dangerous levels of lead flowing from taps and fountains,” reports Zane Woodford for Star Halifax:

Only 44 schools on municipal water have now had their water tested, all in October or early November. Regional centres for education have received test results from 36 of those.

Of those 36 schools, 23 had at least one tap or fountain with elevated levels of lead — 64 per cent.

All of the regional centres said the affected taps or fountains were taken out of service, signage was posted in the schools, and parents and teachers were notified. In some cases, bottled water was brought in.

Alberstat, the department spokesperson, said not every tap was necessarily being used for drinking. “For example, some taps are for hand washing only or washroom faucets,” she wrote in an email.

With winter coming and 176 schools left to test, the department still plans to have every school on municipal water tested by the end of the school year, Alberstat said. Schools will have to wait till spring to ensure accurate results and compliance with Health Canada testing guidelines.

For many years, there have been signs warning against drinking the water from washroom sinks at Saint Mary’s University. Lately, I’ve noticed that similar signs are popping up at other institutions, such as the courthouse. I credit Woodford’s and The Star’s reporting for this. (Although the signs should probably be more explicit: “Lead in water. Do not drink.” or some such.)

7. Intertape Polymer Group

In March of this year, there was an industrial accident at the Intertape Polymer Group factory in Truro. The company makes tape. Reported the CBC:

Ross Marshall, a spokesperson for the company, said one employee was injured in an incident that involved a machine. 

The employee is recovering at a hospital in Halifax, Marshall said. He did not know the age of the employee and would not specify the employee’s gender.

A spokesperson confirmed in an email that the Department of Labour and Advanced Education has issued a stop-work order on the equipment that was involved.

Some person in the public — which is to say, not a reporter or a business person or a political party — filed a Freedom of Information request that sheds light on an earlier incident at the same factory.

An inspection report by Tom Leblanc, a safety officer with the Department of Labour, related that:

On November 12, 2013, at approximately 9:30am, an employee [at Intertape] was involved in an accident while working on tapeline #10 at godet#1. At the time of the accident the employee was trying to clear a misfeed on the line where a strand of tape did not feed properly over the last roller at godet#1 [redacted] when his hand got caught [redacted]

Leblanc went on to write that Intertape has “a strong commitment to safety in the workplace.”

Click here to read the inspection report.

8. The Coast

“The repercussions keep coming from the surprise announcement by Torstar Corp. on Tuesday, that it would stop printing the free StarMetro in Halifax and in several other cities across the country,” reports Roger Taylor for the Chronicle Herald:

On Thursday Transcontinental Inc., which operates as TC Transcontinental Printing, announced it was reorganizing its printing operations in Atlantic Canada. That includes the closure of its Transcontinental Prince Edward Island plant located in Borden-Carleton and the reorganization of the company’s printing activities at its Halifax plant.

Christine Oreskovich, publisher of the free weekly The Coast in Halifax, says she was informed on Thursday by Transcon that it would be shutting down its cold press. That could mean that The Coast will end its 26-year relationship with the printing company and she’ll need to find another printer.

The Coast must find an alternative arrangement over the next couple of months, she said in an interview Thursday, and although Transcon promises to present her with some options she’s not sure it will be a suitable arrangement.

The Coast is vowing to continue as a print publication despite the news about its printer. Oreskovich says she believes there is a role for the free publications like hers, perhaps by covering various topics in a different way.

The Coast is one of the last alt-weeklies standing, and I attribute that primarily to Oreskovich’s business acumen. If anyone can see the paper through this transition, she can.

The only obvious (to me) alternative to Transcontinental printing the paper is SaltWire. I seem to vaguely recall some regulations that made sure Transcontinental behaved in a way that wasn’t anti-competitive — that it, Transcon, had to print The Coast at the going competitive rate, even though its Metro papers were competing against The Coast for ad sales — but I don’t know if those rules apply to SaltWire.

These are tough times for all newspapers, and I suspect the folks at The Coast are scrambling to figure this out. Good luck.


Government

City

Monday

Public Information Meeting – Case 22285 (Monday, 7pm, Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club, Dartmouth) — now that the gigantic hotel is going up at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Prince Arthur Road, Twin Lakes Development wants to build two 12-storey apartment buildings up the hill on Prince Albert, between the SuperStore parking lot and Alderney School (replacing the Napa Auto Parts and a string of small houses). Details here.

Tuesday

City Council (Tuesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — among other items, council will be discussing the Halifax Forum.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — Tourism Nova Scotia CEO Michelle Saran will present both dogs and ponies.


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Thesis Defence, Neuroscience (Monday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Julia Harrison will defend “Cellular Mechanisms Regulating Neuromuscular Junction Stability and Plasticity in Normal and Diseased Mice.”

Noon Hour Strings Recital (Monday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with students of Leonardo Perez and Shimon Walt.

Organ and Piano Recital (Monday, 11:45am, St. Matthews United Church, 1479 Barrington Street) — students of Wayne Rogers and Peter Allen.

Genomics Driven Discovery of New Enzyme Reactions and Molecules (Monday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — David Zechel from Queen’s University will talk.

Thesis Defence, Civil and Resource Engineering (Monday, 1:45pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Cui Lin will defend “Estimation of 2D and 3D In-situ Stresses using Back Analysis of Measurements of Well/Borehole Deformation.”

Variant of a theorem of Erd\H{o}s on the sum-of-proper-divisors function (Monday,2:15pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Heesung Yang will explain

In 1973, Erd\H{o}s proved that the upper density of the set $s(\mathbb{N})$ is less than 1, where $s(n) := \sigma(n) – n$ is the sum of the ​​​​proper divisors of $n$. We investigate the analogous question where $\sigma$ is replaced with similar divisor functions, such as the sum-of-unitary-divisors function $\sigma^\ast(n)$ (which sums those divisors $d$ of $n$ co-prime to $n/d$). We use a modified version of Erd\H{o}s’s original argument from the aforementioned work to prove that the upper density of $s^\ast(\mathbb{N})$ is less than 1, thereby showing that there are infinitely many integers not in the image of $s^\ast$. In one of the cases, the theory of covering congruences makes a surprising appearance. We also present an algorithm that allows us to enumerate the total number of integers not in $s^\ast(\mathbb{N})$ up to $10^8$ (the previous known result, by David Wilson in 2001, was up to $10^5$) and conjecture the density of the set $s^\ast(\mathbb{N})$ based on this result.​​

Bring your own modified version of Erd\H{o}s.

IDEA Speaker Series (Monday, 5pm, Irving Oil Auditorium, Richard Murray Design Building) — what do you know? Emera is sponsoring an “IDEA Speaker Series” “showcasing inspiring leaders in Nova Scotia,” and the first speaker is… Emera president Chris Huskilson who, we’re told, “is a recognized trailblazer in the energy sector. During his close to 40-year career with Nova Scotia Power and Emera he helped position the company as an industry leader and innovator.”

Tuesday

Bookstore yard sale (Tuesday,9am, DSU Council Chambers, Student Union Building) — three-day sale on clothes, jewellery, and more. Also at Jenkins Hall on the Truro Campus.

Bioinspired 3D functional materials for regenerative medicine (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1200, Dentistry Building) — Emilio Arlacon from the University of Ottawa will talk.

Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — agenda here.

The Women of Troy (Tuesday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre, Dal Arts Centre) — directed by Samantha Wilson. Until Saturday, with a matinee Saturday at 2pm. Tickets $15/ 10, available here.

Saint Mary’s

Monday

Africa Paradis (Monday, 4:30, Theatre B, Burke) — film in French with no subtitles.

Tuesday

De Chéticamp à K’jipuktuk: Learning and Living in Translation (Tuesday,3pm, Atrium 306) — Joelle Larade will talk.

Mount Saint Vincent

Monday

8-pointed Star of Mi’kmaw Pedagogy (Monday, 10am, McCain 201-B) — Shane Theunissen, Child and Youth Studies, and Irene Endicott, Pictou Landing First Nation School teacher and principal, will talk about the “8 learning processes of the pedagogy.”

Tuesday

3rd Annual MSVU Tree Lighting (Tuesday, 5pm, in front of Seton Academic Centre)  — stuff for kids.


In the harbour

05:00: YM Essence, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York

Bishu Highway. Photo: Halifax Examiner

06:30: Bishu Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
11:00: Tombarra, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Southampton, England
15:30: Bishu Highway sails for sea
15:30: Grande Torino, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Valencia, Spain
16:00: Tombarra moves to Autoport
16:00: YM Essence sails for Rotterdam
17:00 Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, sails from Pier 42 for Palm Beach, Florida

Where are the Canadian military ships?



Footnotes

Busy day today.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. EAC should send their coal-free power plan to China : ” China’s coal investments, including domestic projects, mean it is backing more than half of all global coal power capacity under development.

    The country has a pipeline of 147GW of coal plants that are either under construction or suspension but are likely to be revived, the report says. This is more than all existing coal plants in the EU combined and almost 50% higher than the 105GW of capacity planned in the rest of the world. ”
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/20/china-appetite-for-coal-power-stations-returns-despite-climate-pledge-capacity
    The Coast is a long way from what it used to be and the decline coincides with your departure. Ad revenue to sustain good journalism is now spent on the multitude of radio stations in Nova Scotia which haven’t broken a story in a long time. The public should bombard the CRTC with opposition to licence renewals unless each station hires at least one journalist who does much more than rip-and-read.

    In other news, the HRM Capital Budget once again includes the bomb truck and an armoured vehicle for the 2020/21 year, obviously a carryover : see page F15 here https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/regional-council/191126bc3cp.pdf