1. The politics of economics
Stephen Kimber writes:
What price is too much to pay for the Yarmouth ferry, asks Tim? How much is the cost of a vote, responds Stephen…
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2. Examineradio, episode #129
Where are all the labour reporters? In this week’s episode, Tim chats with Dave Bush, an editor at Rank and File, about what’s missing in news coverage today.
Plus, Maggie Rahr joins Terra for Week in Review to talk about slavery, restorative justice, and — yes — porn diets.
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3. Donald Savoie
Mary Campbell takes on Donald Savoie’s latest op-ed in the Chronicle Herald:
Savoie’s starting point is the publication, two months ago, of his latest book, Looking for Bootstraps, which is not, sadly, an exploration of Maritime men’s fashion, but a book about Economic Development in the Maritimes.
Since its publication, Savoie says he has received letters and calls from readers anxious to know what one “individual” can do to promote economic development in the Maritimes. His answer? Well, I’ll let him tell you:
My wife and I make it a point — as much as we can — to buy from Maritime businesses. We buy all our frozen food from McCain Foods, all our groceries from Sobeys, gasoline and natural gas from Irving Oil and we always go to Kent Building Supplies for home repairs. We look to local farmers for fresh produce and turn to home-grown and locally owned restaurants and bookstores rather than national chains.
Is he serious? He lives in New Brunswick and tries “as much as he can” to buy from McCain Foods, Sobeys and Irving? IRVING? Does he try “as much as he can” to get his news from Irving, after he’s bought his gasoline and natural gas and building supplies (because Kent Building Supplies is owned by Irving too)? It’s like announcing that you try “as much as you can” to get your oxygen from the atmosphere.
And if supporting these businesses, all of which have been around for decades, is so good for us, why are New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in such rough economic shape? What have the big businesses of Atlantic Canada done for us lately?
Savoie’s best answer:
It is not possible to overstate the importance of head offices to a region. It is where strategic decisions are made and high-salaried jobs are located. Maritimers should also take note that when our public institutions, from our universities and hospitals to our community organizations, set out to raise funds, their first calls are to the McCains, the Irvings and the Sobeys, among other Maritime businesses.
Maritimers should take note that our public institutions are supposed to be funded by our government (hence the term “public institutions”) from the taxes it collects from us and from corporations like McCains, Irvings and Sobeys. If our system worked as it should, our hospitals would not be constantly fundraising and they certainly wouldn’t be beholden to corporations like Sobeys.
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.
“Top administrators at the IWK Health Centre knowingly left information off public expense reports despite concerns from staff members and blocked the release of emails, according to documents obtained by CBC News,” reports Michael Gorman:
The emails show that chief financial officer Stephen D’Arcy was involved in discussions as early as October 2016 about the reporting of then-CEO Tracy Kitch’s expenses. At the time, the hospital was getting ready to prepare Kitch’s expenses to be posted publicly for the first time, as per new provincial regulations.
When CBC News was leaked a draft of Kitch’s expenses, which was substantially higher than what was posted online and included the amount charged for flight passes, D’Arcy said he’d never seen it before.
That wasn’t true.
The documents show D’Arcy was copied on emails that included the draft document. They also show that as the final document was being prepared for posting, at least one staff member expressed concerns about missing information.
“I see this version is significantly lower than the previous version,” IWK chief of communications Gina Connell wrote to D’Arcy on Jan. 11, just hours before the expenses were posted.
“Also, the New York and New Orleans trips are both missing. I understand from the [provincial] directive that all travel must be disclosed. As well, many of the numbers have changed from the previous version.”
Connell would later write to a colleague that “[D’Arcy] just called me and provided an explanation to my questions” and that he “has asked us to post as is.”
I often complain about PR people, so let’s give a shout-out to Connell, who understood the ethical and legal issues involved and worked to do the right thing, even if she was (apparently) over-ruled. And someone (I don’t know who) tipped Gorman to the issue, so there’s at least one civil servant with an ethical compass. Good on them.
An RCMP release:
The death that occurred on September 14 in Lake Loon has been officially ruled a homicide.
A man was found deceased just after 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 14 on Cherry Brook Rd. in Lake Loon.
Police have ruled the death a homicide and identified the victim as 22-year-old Josiah Kaelin Sparks of Lake Loon.
The Integrated Criminal Investigation Division is leading the investigation.
A Halifax Regional Police release from yesterday morning:
Police are currently on scene at 36 Montgomery Crescent in Clayton Park for a sudden death. Investigation is in its preliminary stages with more details to follow.
Officers located a 20 year-old male who required immediate medical assistance. EHS transported the male to hospital where he later passed away. The name of the victim is being withheld pending next of kin notification.
Metro reports that a man and a woman have been arrested.
Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — Constable Bruke Girma is giving a presentation on the “Counter-Terrorism Information Officer” program.
This is neither here nor there, but when I was working as a reporter in White County, Arkansas, a bunch of post-911 federal money became available for every county in the U.S. to hire an Emergency Management Officer whose job it was to get all worked up about terrorism.
Problem was, any wannabe terrorist would avoid White County for fear of being bored to death, so the fellow who had the job really had to work at it to find potential terrorist targets.
After some consideration, he told me he was most worried that the terrorists would poison the oats used to feed the bulls and cows at the Beebe Livestock Auction, and secondly that they would blow up the propane tank on the highway next to the fundie college. He claimed that if they hit the tank just right, the terrorists could turn it into a missile that would fire right at a college building about 300 yards away; I was skeptical of this claim, but this didn’t dissuade him from trying to get a grant to turn the tank 90 degrees so the terrorists would instead hit the shuttered Maytag washing machine plant. I don’t know what the plan was for keeping the cattle safe. I wish I was making this up.
But evidently the “be afraid of terrorists!” messaging had its effect, as some months later the county sheriff saved us from the dreaded Sikh Walmart Liberation Army. I reported:
Fear was the dominant theme in a White County traffic stop Monday evening, when two turban-clad truck drivers hauling flowers to Walmart were arrested at gun point after a brief chase between Rose Bud and Joy.
Manjinder Singh and Darshan Singh Nijjar, both Sikhs from East India living in Canada and legally traveling and working in the United States, were arrested for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle and speeding.
They spent the night at the White County Detention Center and were released at 7 a.m. Tuesday, but not before inciting a bit of panic among the locals.
As the men were being questioned on the side of Highway 36, The Daily Citizen received multiple phone calls from passers-by relating that “towelheads” and “terrorists” had been apprehended by the police.
False reports that at least one of the men was on “the terrorist list” reverberated across the county for hours.
Sikhism is a religion completely unrelated to Islam. It was founded in 15th century India in reaction to the Hindu caste system. Its 20 million practitioners worship one God and believe in the equality of all races and of men and women. Men wear their hair long and keep it covered with turbans. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many Sikhs in the United States have been victimized by attackers who confuse them with Muslims.
John Slater, an off-duty sergeant with the White County Sheriff’s Department, first encountered Singh and Nijjar buying gas at a station in Rose Bud.
“They saw me looking at them, and I don’t know if it was because of the blue lights in the grill of my pickup or what, but they kind of hurried up and left,” he said. “I went inside and asked the clerk, who said they had paid with cash and didn’t get a receipt. Truck drivers usually don’t do that.”
Slater notified the Rose Bud Police Department, and within minutes Chief Steven Schamaumleffel and officer Brent Bittle were following the 18-wheeler. The men sped away, reaching speeds up to 80 miles per hour along the winding and hilly road, before stopping at the Joy Mountain Antique store.
Slater, wearing shorts and thongs, left his wife in his pickup and joined Schamaumleffel and Bittle in approaching the truck with guns drawn. Singh, the driver, followed the officers’ instructions, but passenger Nijjar jumped into the rear of the cab and only surrendered himself after repeated commands, said Slater.
Over the next couple of hours, about a dozen law enforcement officers, including state troopers, highway police and Kelley, the county police dog, joined the investigation.
A small vial of powder was found in the truck, but Kelley found it unremarkable. Singh was placed back in the truck’s driver seat as the highway police conducted a full inspection of the truck, while Nijjar was left handcuffed in the back seat of a County patrol car.
In addition to the local speeding and failure to yield charges, the truckers were cited by the highway police for improper record keeping.
Both men were eventually transported to the county jail and released in the morning. They made a delivery at the Searcy Walmart soon after, and departed for parts unknown.
Slater, however, has forwarded the men’s names to the FBI because he suspects there may still be a terrorist connection.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” he said.
“First, they failed to stop for a traffic violation, and they fled. That gives you some suspicion that something is wrong. Then the co-driver jumped in the back seat and didn’t come out without being commanded. And the driver said he has known the passenger for only about 20 days.
“There are a lot of holes that didn’t make sense,” he continued. “We don’t have the resources [at the Sheriff’s Department] to dig into this like the FBI does, so I contacted them.”
The FBI will contact Slater if a further arrest is made.
All of which is to say, it seems that the fear of terrorism is inversely related to the actual risk of terrorism: Folks in London, where there have been repeated terrorist attacks, live life with aplomb, because what else are you going to do? Likewise, in the post-911 days, New Yorkers pulled together, recognized their shared grief, and asserted a confidence in the face of whatever might come. In contrast, people in rural areas of the south were getting worked up about Walmart truck drivers and the potential poisoning of the livestock feed.
I get a chorus of condemnation every time I mention this (because be afraid or you’re unpatriotic), but the random Haligonian has a much greater chance of being run down in a crosswalk by a texting driver than being killed by a terrorist.
There are reasonable terrorism precaution measures, but it’s very easy to slip over into panic, irrationality, and racism.
Advisory Committee for Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Public Information Meeting – Case 20507 (Monday, 7pm, Bedford-Hammonds Plains Community Centre) — This is important!
Here’s how the staff report describes this event:
Special Audit & Finance Standing Committee (Tuesday, 11:30pm, City Hall) — St. Paul’s Church wants a quarter of a million dollars from the city to do some historic preservation work on the property. Sure, the committee should approve the expenditure, with one condition: that the church stop parking on Grand Parade.
City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
No public meetings today or Tuesday.
Religiosity, Spirituality, Aging and Health in Global Perspective (Monday, 12pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — Zachary Zimmer of Mount Saint Vincent University will speak.
The Ivany Report Drinking Game! (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1009, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — A panel will discuss “Policy Matters: All For One Nova Scotia? Perspectives on the Ivany Report.” From the event listing:
This panel discusses key aspects of the ONE Nova Scotia Coalition, including the Ivany Report, the implementation of policy recommendations, and the process for tracking socio-economic progress. It considers ONE NS in light of both its historical origins and its current development in order to offer fresh perspectives on provincial governance and policy formation.
For the drinking game, do the following number of shots every time you hear one of these words uttered:
“Immigrant” and “chocolate” in the same sentence
“Best (or most) ____ in Canada”
“Best (or most) ____ in the world”
Thesis Defence, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Tuesday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Franklin Che will defend his thesis, “Nonlinear Plasmonics with Applications to Sensing.”
In the harbour
0:30am: YM Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
4am: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil to Saint John
7am: Akademik Ioffe, cruise ship with up to 96 passengers, arrives at Pier 27 from Sisimiut, Greenland
7:15am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York
8am: Veendam, cruise ship with up to 1,350 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Bar Harbor
3:30pm: Endeavour, oil tanker, sails from Anchorage for sea
5:45pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
5:45pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Sydney
Many thanks to all the guest writers of Morning File over the past two weeks!
I’m still on the road, but heading back to Halifax. No sense driving like a maniac, so just taking it easy. Maybe I’ll get back tomorrow. It’ll take me a couple of days to ramp back up to normal levels.