News

1. Examineradio, episode #126

NSGEU president Jason MacLean. Photo: Halifax Examiner

This week, we speak with NSGEU president Jason MacLean about the McNeil government’s proclamation of Bill 148, which forces a contract on public servants. Halifax poet laureate Rebecca Thomas co-hosts this week’s show.

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2. Jail mail

The Burnside jail. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Last Monday, I reported that mail service had been disrupted to prisoners in provincial jails:

Prisoners in all of Nova Scotia’s jails did not receive mail for four days last week, confirms Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Gillis. 

The delivery stoppage was “due to the possibility of a drug in a piece of mail, but it has since resumed,” said Gillis via email.

I’m told that a single piece of mail sent to the Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in New Glasgow contained Fentanyl, so therefore all mail to all prisoners across the province was stopped. I can’t yet confirm it, but I’m additionally told that mail delivery will now be weekly in prisons.

Letters from family and friends is necessary to maintain some connection to the outside world, which is important if we want prisoners to rebuild successful lives after they are released.

On Friday, CBC reporter Sherri Borden Colley interviewed Dawn Ferris, board chair of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia:

“Canada Post delivers mail on a daily basis and we believe the women inside have the right to receive their mail on a daily basis,” Ferris said. “They’re punishing a whole population based on what they think is happening with maybe just a few people or, in fact, maybe just one.”

Ferris pointed out that because provincial jails house offenders from all over the region, mail is the only way for some inmates to communicate with their families.

“And so to withhold that from everybody, it seems punitive and arbitrary. It doesn’t seem right,” she said.

The society plans to send a letter to correctional services to say that withholding inmates’ mail shouldn’t happen again.

3. Revictimization

“A young Halifax woman who told Halifax Regional Police (HRP) she was raped says invasive questioning, and a dismissive attitude by officers, is leading her to make an official complaint after she was made to feel ‘violated’ all over again,” reports Haley Ryan for Metro.

Details of the woman’s allegations are at the link.

4. Pedestrian struck

Google Street View

A police release on Saturday about an incident that occurred Friday evening:

At 8:50 p.m. on August 25, a 22-year-old man was walking on the Bedford Highway in the area of Seton Road when he was struck by a passing vehicle. The vehicle then left the scene of the collision.

The victim was treated at the hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

Police arrested and charged a 59-year-old man with failing to stop at the scene of an accident and impaired driving.

Seton Road is near Mount St. Vincent University. The release doesn’t give any more details about where the pedestrian was or how he was struck, so we can’t know exactly what happened.

But I’ve walked this area before and been frustrated: unless a pedestrian is going up into the university campus, there’s no clear path as to where to go. There’s no sidewalk on either side of the highway, but south of this point there’s a sidewalk on the west (inland) side of the highway, and not on the east (waterside) of the highway (the concrete pad in the photo above is just at the bus stop and doesn’t continue southward). Here’s the view from about two blocks south:

Google Street View

There’s a rough path on the east side of the highway, but it’s uneven and strewn with trash, while on the west side there’s a concrete sidewalk. All cues are for pedestrians to stay on the west side of the highway, but once past Seton Road that sidewalk disappears and is replaced with a steep grassy hill that’s nearly impossible to walk along, especially in the dark:

Google Street View

The effect is to funnel pedestrians right onto the highway, to walk along the curb through this one-block stretch of road, as the sidewalk picks up again on the other side of the university.

I don’t know that that’s what happened Friday night, but it wouldn’t surprise me. A sidewalk should be built along the highway on this block.


Views

1. Naming debates

Photo: @acadiaupres / Twitter

Stephen Kimber writes:

Naming controversies raise the question, not so much about why blacks or Indigenous peoples might object to our in-their-faces celebration of their oppressors, but why those of us who are neither black nor aboriginal use up so much oxygen and energy on these debates…

[…]

I do sometimes wonder if we fixate on these symbols of the past because it’s easier than fixing the everyday present for which we have to accept our own responsibility: ongoing racial profiling of blacks and natives, the abysmal mess we’ve made of dealing with First Nations peoples, etc., etc.

Perhaps if we gave up naming things after people, we could get on the important business at hand. Perhaps…

Click here to read, “Name? Un-name? How about no name?”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall. Click here to subscribe.

2. Bob Bjerke

Bob Bjerke. Photo: Twitter

“If Halifax’s CAO Jacques Dubé thinks he can just fire our chief planner, it’s time we fire Jacques Dubé,” writes Tristan Cleveland:

The official reason for firing [Bob] Bjerke makes no sense, so the public deserves a clear, transparent explanation for why it really happened.

A likely explanation is that Bjerke was willing to stand up to developers. I have heard for months Dubé has been trying to slow down the Centre Plan because developers complain it will be too restrictive on growth.

[…]

As best I can tell, either Dubé made this rash decision because he is ideologically opposed to firm rules on growth, or he is just reckless.

“One of the suggested reasons for Bjerke’s dismissal was his recommendation to Council to reject eight proposals that would require substantial changes to rules in the forthcoming Centre Plan,” notes Ecology Action Centre sustainable cities coordinator Jenny Lugar in an op-ed in The Coast:

Another was that developers were complaining about the slow processing speed for building approval (i.e. changing a land use bylaw that was in place for a reason, let’s call it what it is) within the Planning department. Ironically, Bjerke told AllNovaScotia that processing is faster now than it was even a year ago.

The third explanation, from the mouth of (this) horse, is that this is classic conservative Halifax nincompoopery. Someone progressive arrives with ideas for positive change, but as soon as a few powerful, moneyed citizens realize he’s not working for them exclusively, suddenly Halifax’s new sweetheart is an enemy of the bureaucrats, the cause of the problems and frankly, the one thing preventing the absolute reign of the development community to build 100 more Kingswoods — which make developers a lot of money but cause an ever-increasing tax bracket — among other incomplete communities.

3. Roger Taylor is wrong

The superport of Melford, which will never exist.

With a bit of the uncritical boosterism we’ve come to expect from him, Chronicle Herald columnist Roger Taylor plugs Nova Scotia’s ports as the driver of our coming economic salvation because:

A Melford container terminal would become the closest North American port for ships travelling from Asia, via the Suez Canal, and Europe.

This is of course exactly why Nova Scotian ports are being bypassed in favour of other ports: being “closest to Europe” is a disadvantage, not an advantage, for our ports. As I’ve explained a thousand times:

No shipper wants to use the North American port that is closest to Europe. That makes no sense at all.

Think about it. You are the manager of a German manufacturing firm, and you want to export to North America. You’re not going to sell many widgets in Canso or in Eastport. Instead, your primary market is going to be places like New York City, or Chicago, where there are millions of people and lots of industry to buy your widgets.

So how do you get your widgets to Chicago? Expensive and light stuff, you can fly directly there. Everything else has two legs: one by sea, and one by land.

The sea part of the voyage is relatively inexpensive. You can stack a gazillion of your widgets in the new post-Panamax ships. A small, underpaid crew from the Philippines steering a ship flying the flag of a lightly regulated country like Liberia doesn’t cost much.

The land part of the journey, however, is expensive. You’ve got to divide up your gigantic cargo and divvy it into a thousand trucks, each driven by a highly paid (relative to the shiphands) driver, using lots of fuel to get to Chicago. Or, if you’re lucky, you can use rail, which, while cheaper than the trucks, is still much more expensive than the sea voyage, per unit transported per distance.

The guy sitting in Germany isn’t looking for the North American port closest to Germany, but rather the North American port closest to Chicago, or wherever his widgets are going. If that means a longer sea journey, the cost is more than made up for with the huge savings of a shorter land journey. I’m not sure why megaport boosters get this so wrong.

4. Tough sell

YouTube video

Government

City

Monday

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — all about athe Ben’s Bakery site.

Public Information Meeting – Case 20110 (Monday, 7pm, Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre) — WSP is unveiling a proposed development in Beaver Bank.

Tuesday

No public meetings.

Province

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Radon Exposure and Skin Cancer (Monday, 12pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — Danielle Vienneau of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel, Switzerland, will speak. Her abstract:

Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer are among the most common types of cancer in Switzerland. Risk factors include exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Recently, radon attached on particles deposited on the skin has been suggested as an additional risk factor. Exposure gradients in Switzerland are considerable due to large differences in altitude (UV increases with altitude) and in geology and soil type (with varying radon levels). This presentation will focus on our studies investigating the mutual effects of UV and radon exposure on skin cancer in Switzerland. To date we have investigated skin cancer mortality in the Swiss National Cohort; with radon exposure and erythemal-weighted UV dose modelled at address-level, 5.2 million adults, almost 3000 skin cancer deaths, and a mean-follow up of 7.8 years. Our results indicate that both radon and UV are risk factors for skin cancer. A better understanding of the role of the UV radiation and radon exposure for skin cancer is of high public health relevance.

Tuesday

No public events for the rest of the week.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:30am Monday. Map: marinetraffic.com

5:30am: Themis, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
6am: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Philipsburg, St. Maarten
6:45am: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, arrives at Pier 25 (grain elevator) from Montreal
7:45am: Maasdam, cruise ship with up to 1,510 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor
8am: Fritz Reuter, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
8am: YM Evolution, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
10am: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Bedford Basin anchorage (awaiting berth at Fairview Cove) from Liverpool, England
11am: Silver Cloud, superyacht owned by gazillionaire Alexander Dreyfoos, arrives at Tall Ships Quay straight from Wall Street
3pm: Maersk Trieste, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
4:30pm: Themis, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
5:45pm: Maasdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Sydney
9:30pm: Themis, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 for sea


Footnotes

I’m in meetings most of the day.

Tim Bousquet

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

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10 Comments

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  1. Regarding the accident at Seton – I know the area well. We can only guess, but the bus stop is right across from the entrance to Seton, so anyone going or coming to the residences at the Mount on a Friday night would use that stop, and cross at the crosswalk. Perhaps he was struck in the crosswalk.

    As far as the section with no sidewalk in front of the Mount, there is a walk through the Sister Lua Aboretum, which is the treed area abutting the Bedford Highway. It’s only a few steps up from the road level, so pretty seamless and it rejoins the Bedford Highway sidewalk at the main entrance to the Mount.

  2. We have the same problem with sidewalks where I live. The sidewalk will go a distance, and then end even though there are houses and businesses in the part not served. Sometimes it then starts up again on the other side of the street, meaning you have to cross traffic. Sometimes there is a gap with no sidewalk, and then it resumes again. Sometimes it just ends and you have to walk in the road because there is no shoulder. Some streets have no sidewalks at all. I think pieces were built over the years without any planning, or consideration of what a pedestrian might have to do to reach a destination.

    What has struck me in older cities is that older neighbourhoods almost always have sidewalks on both sides of the street. Newer ones often have no sidewalks at all.

  3. Ships flying the Liberian flag are not lightly ‘regulated’. They are regulated in accordance with the same international conventions as ships which are flagged in developed countries.
    When the Canadian flagged and crewed BC ferry ran onto rocks in clear visibility in the night I don’t recall any comments regarding regulations.

    1. From NPR:

      DESOMBRE: Part of that cheaper and easier process means fewer regulations. So, you know, we won’t necessarily join all those international rules that require that you act in a certain way on the ocean.

      SIMON: With a flag of convenience you may not have to pay your sailors as much or maybe you could make them work longer hours. This is what Liberia offered.

      http://www.npr.org/2014/11/07/362351967/liberias-flags-of-convenience-help-it-stay-afloat

    2. From PBS:

      The Liberian registry was created in 1948, primarily as a means to offer U.S.-based ship owners a way to crew their vessels without being subject to U.S. labor and wage regulations and U.S. taxation. Today the body overseeing the Liberian flag is not the government of Liberia, but a private business based in Vienna, Virginia — the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR). The Liberian government charters LISCR to handle its shipping business; LISCR remits 35 to 40 percent of its profits back to the Liberian government. Indeed, LISCR, according to the United Nations, became one of the primary sources of hard currency for Liberia’s former president, Charles Taylor, who is now in exile in Nigeria and under U.N. indictment as a war criminal.

      […]

      There are no requirements to disclose details as to the “beneficial ownership” of a vessel; this makes it possible for owners to use front companies to limit both their liability and their responsibility should something go wrong on board one of their ships.

      http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/spain/liberia.html

      1. Labour laws are not part of the international regulatory regime.
        Many large modern container ships, gas carriers, auto carriers,supertankers are registered in 3rd world countries and they are built to the same standards as other vessels.
        The high level of wages and benefits paid to BC employees obviously were not high enough to ensure the vessel avoided the rocks.

        1. The cost of labour was EXACTLY what I was writing about. You can try to deflect this into some other topic if you want, but it’s disingenuous. It’s reading comprehension 101.

        2. The issue generally isn’t what *flag* it flies, but rather what Classification Society (if any) has issued classification certificates. Flag states do have HUGELY different standards of inspection (not always on paper, but certainly in practice). Many ships that fly flags of convenience have never been visited by an inspector from (or working on behalf of) that country.

          HOWEVER, many vessels that travel internationally also get certificates from one of the world’s Classification Societies. Major insurers usually require such Class certificates before they’ll cover you. The Class certificates generally include basic seaworthiness, but can also certify that a ship has a certain feature (eg Crew Accommodation Comfort) or capability (eg certified for an Unmanned Machinery Space). These Class Societies even get to the level of certifying the steel before it gets cut to make the ship. Ships are inspected a minimum of every 5 years.

          There are a small number of these Class Societies that are large, well-developed, and have inspectors all over the place (Lloyd’s Register, Det Norske Veritas, the American Bureau of Shipping, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai…). Most of those are very reputable and, in fact, several are not-for-profits. Then, there is another group that are fly-by-night’ers.

          Regardless, my point is that yeah, if I saw a vessel with a Liberian flag *and* it had no Classification certificates, then I certainly would be concerned about its safety and seaworthiness (much more than, say, a Canadian or Japanese vessel that also had no Classification certificate). On the other hand, if a Liberian vessel *does* have a Class cerficate from one of the major Class Societies, there’s probably no more reason to worry about it (at least from a structural and seaworthiness point of view) than you would about a Canadian or British or Japanese vessel holding a similar certificate.

          (note: Liberia’s far from alone in this. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_flags_of_convenience)

          1. Try getting insurance if you own a vessel classified by the mysterious ‘fly-by-nighters’ – can you name them ?
            Nobody would charter a vessel without a solid record of registration with a large classification society; except perhaps on a voyage within the waters of a 3rd world country. Developed countries are very strict about letting ships into their waters.
            The US flagged and crewed El Faro sank in a hurricane off the Bahamas in 2015 en route to Puerto Rico. Who the hell sails straight into a hurricane ?
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_El_Faro

  4. I work on the harbour daily and I wouldn’t be caught dead going for a swim in it.

    There is a huge difference between dipping your toes at Black Rock Beach and taking a plunge off one of the wharves. The beach always seems to be the metric by which the harbour is judged on cleanliness, but it’s not exactly in the harbour. There may not be raw sewage dumped in the harbour anymore, but used condoms, menstrual pads, plastic bags, oil slicks, not to mention the odd dead seal, bloated and rotting, floating under the wharves combine to produce an image which is far from a prime swimming area.

    Just about the best editorial cartoon I’ve ever seen in the Chronicle Herald was just after then-Mayor Peter Kelly announced the harbour cleanup complete and took his celebratory dip at Black Rock Beach. It showed a woman sitting at a desk underneath a banner declaring the Harbour clean, and speaking on the phone, she says, “I’m sorry, Mayor Kelly can’t come to the phone. He’s been in the shower for the past six and a half hours.”

    1. I don’t trust the raw sewage treatment deal since the big malfunction. I trust YOUR hands-on 100%