News

1. Transit passes

My, my metro card: Vintage passes from Metro Transit, now Halifax Transit.

“Soon, more people will get access to low income transit passes,” writes Erica Butler. “But the cap on this important program remains a needless obstacle.”

Click here to read “Transit Pass Bingo.” 

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2. This is North Preston

Stephen Kimber introduces us to This is North Preston, “a fascinating, sometimes disturbing 75-minute documentary that follows [Just] Chase as he comes home to North Preston to visit his dad, his mother, his grandmother, and his ‘boys,’ a fluid collection of young men who grew up together and still hang around outside North Preston’s Fire Station 22.”

Click here to read “This is North Preston: a story that ‘needs to be heard.’”

The film and Kimber both make reference to “North Preston’s Finest,” the much-vilified “gang” from the town.

“You have probably heard the name,” writes Kimber. “In the media, North Preston’s Finest is a notorious Preston-based-but-nationwide gang of drug dealers and sex traffickers. It’s not a gang, one of them insists to Hayman, ‘but a lifestyle.’ Adds another: ‘We ain’t just friends; we family.’”

I wrote about North Preston’s Finest in July 2016, when I reported on a protest against the CBC’s portrayal of North Preston:

The protestors, however, say that the gang “North Preston’s Finest” is a complete police fabrication. After the protest, I interviewed protestor Lameia Reddick at length about this claim. Reddick told me that the term “North Preston’s Finest” has long been used in the community as a sort of aspirational, community-building slogan. “When I was young, I used it in my email address,” she said.

“Of course there’s criminal activity in the community,” she continued. “There’s criminal activity in every community. But everyone in all of North Preston said ‘North Preston’s Finest.’ It was only when police couldn’t figure out who were committing crimes that they started saying ‘North Preston’s Finest’ is a gang. So what they’re saying is the entire community is a gang.

Reddick’s understanding of the evolution of the term “North Preston’s Finest” for people outside the community is supported by “Pimping and Prostitution in Halifax in the early 1990s: the evolution of a moral panic,” a 2000 thesis written by Tanya Dawne Smith, a Masters student at Dalhousie. Smith noted that the heightened police response to prostitution, in the form of a prostitution task force, came just a week after six Black men from North Preston were arrested in Toronto. She wrote:

One of the main reasons a moral panic was instigated may have been the overt participation of blacks in the pimping business. With the identification of a negatively stereotyped group (i.e. black males) operating prostitution rings, it became likely that those individuals would be identified as the manipulators of young girls and the evil doers. In a city where race relations have been tenuous at best, using local blacks as scapegoats for rampant prostitution would be an easy mark. That is not to say that the issue of prostitution in Halifax was mainly a racial one, but that the role played by the racial differences between pimps and prostitutes, those who controlled and those who were controlled, respectively, must not be overlooked. Race was an issue at the height of the moral panic and therefore must be a consideration in the study of that period.

Through my own research for the DEAD WRONG series, I know that it is undeniable that men from North Preston have been involved in pimping, and still are. But the extent of the North Preston connection is very much over-stated. (Part 5 of the series will get into this in some detail.)

At times, the police seem to have gone to extra lengths to make a connection to North Preston that simply wasn’t there.

For example, when police investigator Dave MacDonald was assigned to re-investigate the disappearance of Kimberly McAndrew, the first thing he did was call a psychic (I published audio recordings of MacDonald’s sessions with the psychic in Part 4 of DEAD WRONG, “Channelling Kimberly McAndrew“). Predictably, that psychic produced nothing of any value, but MacDonald tried to parse the psychic’s babble into a description of McAndrew being kidnapped and taken to North Preston. There was absolutely no evidence that anyone from North Preston had anything at all to do with McAndrews’ disappearance, and the suspects that had previously turned up were all white men, but MacDonald wanted a North Preston connection all the same.

3. Mercury, Canso Chemicals, Northern Pulp Mill

Upper photo is an aerial shot of the Northern Pulp Mill from the environmental assessment for the proposed effluent pipe, showing the proposed facilities related to the effluent pipe. The lower photo is a Google Earth view of the same location, but with annotations showing the proximity of the mercury contamination (as related in the Dillon Report) on the Canso Chemicals property and the proposed effluent treatment facility; annotations provided by Michael Jensen.

We’ve taken Joan Baxter’s April 9 article, “Nova Scotia has a mercury problem,” out from behind the paywall so everyone can read it. In the article, Baxter explained that facilities associated with Northern Pulp Mill’s proposed effluent pipe are immediately adjacent to a mercury-contaminated toxic waste site left over from the Canso Chemicals operation. She wrote:

The Canso Chemicals plant opened in 1970, and for the next 22 years used large amounts of mercury to produce chlorine and caustic soda for the pulping process. According to a Canadian Press report of June 20, 1977, provincial and federal government officials had been unhappy with high levels of “unaccountable mercury losses” from the Canso Chemicals plant, causing the provincial environment department to order the company to sharply reduce the losses.

“The plant’s annual unaccounted mercury losses have averaged several tons [a year] since reporting to the federal environment department began in 1972. It reached a high of five tons in 1975,” says the CP report.

When the pulping process was changed because of new pulp and paper effluent regulations in Canada, the Pictou County pulp mill switched from chlorine to chloride dioxide for its bleaching process, and the chemical plant was no longer needed. It closed in 1992.

Baxter detailed the measures taken to address the mercury contamination of the site, but the short of it is that the bulk of it is still there and spreading, taking a slow march towards both the water table and Pictou Harbour.

The Environmental Assessment for the proposed effluent pipe doesn’t address the potential for disturbing mercury or releasing it into the air, potentially bringing great risk to humans in the area.

Baxter tried to obtain the results of ongoing mercury monitoring of the site, but was frustrated by government bureaucrats at both the provincial and federal levels, apparently in violation of international treaties that call for making such information readily available.

Click here to read “Nova Scotia has a mercury problem.”

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4. The redemption of Frank Anderson

Frank Anderson

I was out of sorts Friday, and so published “the worst Morning File ever.” Hey, it happens. No one can be always be on top of their game, but this honest self-assessment was apparently enough for ridicule from the usual blowhards.

(Don’t worry about me; I worked in the garden and went to the gym, then spent a wonderful Saturday evening at the AJAs with my crew, and now I’m back to my usual upbeat, perky self.)

Anyway, in my out-of-sorts mindset I quickly touched on a Chronicle Herald article plugging a business — Riverside Lobster — that wants increased immigration. I wrote:

“We have expansions to do,” Frank Anderson, the corporate affairs officer for Riverside Lobster, told writer . “We can’t do the expansions because we haven’t got enough employees to do what we’re doing right now.”

According to the Riverside Lobster’s employee handbook, “all employees begin at a set rate of $11.00 per hour.” Minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $11.55 per hour, although employers can pay “inexperienced employees” $11.05 per hour for the first three months of employment. Perhaps the employee handbook hasn’t been updated since the latest increase in the minimum wage law, but I think it’s fair to say that Riverside Lobster pays shit wages. If that’s the best or only job to be found in Meteghan River, it’s not a mystery why young people are fleeing the place.

As I was reading the Herald article I was thinking, Frank Anderson… no, it can’t be, can it? A not-out-of-sorts me would’ve taken the time to connect the dots, but my heart wasn’t in it. Besides, I know better than to make too-quick name associations, especially here in the Maritimes — you can’t walk four steps around this town without tripping over a MacDonald; I think I know something like 14 people named Andrew Murphy; and my old pal Iain MacNeil once told me about how he and a guy named Ian McNeil got in a fight over the spelling of their respective names. So, I just let the “Frank Anderson” thing slide and moved on to my main point:

Maybe immigrants are OK with taking shitty paying jobs as a leg up in a new country. But I can’t imagine they want those shitty paying jobs for long, and they definitely don’t want their children to be left with only shitty paying jobs. So likely, the immigrants will skedaddle soon enough as well; the shitty paying jobs in rural Nova Scotia are just a way station to better opportunity elsewhere.

We talk a lot about valuing immigrants. If we really valued them, we’d pay them better.

I still think it’s a good point, even if I made it while out of sorts.

But of course I was talking about someone in rural Nova Scotia in a somewhat critical vein, so this brought the wrath of Parker Donham:

Tim Bousquet headlines the Halifax Examiner’s Morning File this morning with an attack on immigration advocate Frank Anderson of Riverside Lobster in Meteghan River.

If you take the time to read the Herald story about the Immigration Summit, you’ll find the maligned Mr. Anderson from Riverside Lobster actually makes thoughtful, nuanced, helpful observations about Ottawa’s pathetic approach to immigration in Atlantic Canada.

If I took the time to respond to every Parker Donham criticism of the Halifax Examiner, I’d be doing nothing else. But this gets at an issue that’s worth prying open a bit.

The issue here isn’t immigration per se. As I wrote in my out-of-sorts way Friday, “were I king, I’d simply open the doors to anyone who wants to come.” The issue is how immigration is used as a way for business to lower wages. And it’s especially perverse that low wages for immigrants is being sold as an “economic development” tool.

I’ve been on the “economic development” beat since I was in the crib. I’ve always recognized that the term “economic development” is used primarily to stop all critical thought before it can begin. Not only is “economic development” not clearly defined in the first place, there are no metrics by which to measure the success (or failure) of those paid to promote it, or to compare the success (or failures) of one agency with the success (or failures) of another agency. And there’s no way to assess one person’s performance over time — is Stephen Lund doing better or worse as the manager of economic development in New Brunswick than he did as the manager of economic development in Nova Scotia?

Moreover, the connections between economic development agencies and the real world are questionable, to put it mildly — there’s no way to test what would happen if the economic development agency never existed. Maybe the world would look exactly the same, with businesses starting and failing at the same rate. Maybe the no-agency world would be better. Who knows?

It’s the very murkiness of the economic development field that attracts people who excel at bullshitting. And since no politician wants to go on record as being opposed to economic development, the bullshitters have great success. Every business that opens is the bullshitter’s doing — just ask them. And every business that closes demonstrates that the bullshitters need more funding.

Usually, the economic developers are just silly people who are a drain on the public treasury. The money tossed into economic development could’ve instead been used to do actual good things in the world, like increasing the social assistance payout or hiring some more nurses or putting a new see-saw in the local park, which is why I think we’d actually have a better world if we didn’t have “economic development” at all. But what starts with silliness often slips into nepotism and the old boys’ networks, and then before you know it, we’re into full-time grifting.

Which brings me back to Frank Anderson.

Saturday morning, I got a nice email from Timothy Gillespie, who I really ought to talk to more often. I always enjoy talking to Timothy.

Gillespie told me Saturday that, yep, Frank Anderson of Riverside Lobsters is that Frank Anderson. It’s not some crazy Andrew Murphy-like name confusion thing; Frank Anderson and Frank Anderson are one and the same.

Gillespie hails from Shelburne, and publishes South Coast Today, a website that plugs local events and generates discussion of local politics and the like. In that role, Gillespie first raised the issue of, er, irregularities with the South West Shore Development Authority (SWSDA), of which Frank Anderson was CEO. It was Gillespie’s dogged reporting that ultimately led to the province conducting a forensic audit of SWSDA:

The provincial Department of Economic and Rural Development referred the matter to police last year after an independent forensic audit said there were problems with expense claims submitted by Anderson.

The audit, conducted by Ernst & Young, said Anderson told auditors that the provincial government and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency knew the development authority was having cash flow problems and were aware that not all invoices had been paid.

The audit also said the authority lost money every year between 2003 and 2010, except 2008 when it received $1.8 million for the sale of a former naval base.

Anderson was charged with 11 criminal fraud charges related to his handling of SWSDA.

Ultimately, in August 2014 Anderson pleaded guilty to one charge of uttering a false document, a plea deal that Dan Leger of the Chronicle Herald didn’t like at all:

The plea-bargain conviction last week of former South Shore development czar Frank Anderson brings an unsatisfactory end to a long-running tale of scandal, corruption and the mishandling of public funds.

Anderson pleaded guilty to a single charge of fraud, over a forged document submitted to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Ten other corruption-related charges are expected to disappear at sentencing and the court system will close the case without so much as a preliminary hearing.

Anderson long ago lost his $90,000 job as head of the South West Shore Development Authority. The former banker billed himself as the man who could revive the somnolent economy of southwestern Nova Scotia.

Maybe that’s why he got away with drawing $90,000 a year without a contract or written evidence of its approval by his bumbling board of directors.

Anderson ran SWSDA as a personal fiefdom, manipulating the board along with the municipalities and governments that financed it. SWSDA routinely racked up massive losses, which had to be made up by cash-strapped towns along the South Shore.

Anderson was sentenced to four months’ house arrest. Weirdly, I can’t find the decision against Anderson on either the Canli database or the provincial court decision database. Maybe he’s been pardoned and the record expunged?

Let’s back up to this part: “Anderson pleaded guilty to a single charge of fraud, over a forged document submitted to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.”

Now, let’s go to the ACOA project search page and type in “Riverside Lobster” and see what we… oh my:

I don’t know the ownership of Riverside Lobster. The Registry of Joint Stock Companies lists David Deveau of Meteghan River as president, and Deveau and Pierre Simard of Westmont, Quebec are directors. The company started as Riverside Lobster & Seafood Limited in 2001, and was amalgamated (along with two other companies) in 2014 into Riverside Lobster International Inc. The Registry doesn’t list Anderson as a director or executive, but multiple news articles refer to Anderson as the company’s “corporate affairs officer.”

I don’t know when Anderson started his employment at Riverside Lobster, but let’s assume it was soon after he served his four months of house arrest in 2015. Let’s look at Riverside Lobster’s success at landing ACOA financing since then:

On May 22, 2015, Riverside Lobster received a $46,500 loan from ACOA to “Implement Lean Program.” I have no idea what that means, but I’m guessing it means they fired a bunch of people.

On May 29, 2015, Riverside Lobster received a $405,000 loan from ACOA to “expand and modernize processing plant.”

On July 2, 2016, Riverside Lobster received a million dollar loan from ACOA to “expand the processing plant and purchase equipment.” (Wait… didn’t they just expand the processing plant?)

And on July 8, 2018, Riverside Lobster received a $100,000 loan from ACOA for “research on alternative uses for lobster shells.”

On July 17, 2018, Riverside Lobster received a “Non-Repayable Contribution” — flat out grant — of $50,000 from ACOA to “engage a marketing manager.”

On February 28 of this year, Riverside Lobster received a “Non-Repayable Contribution” — flat out grant — of $49,500 from ACOA to “engage expertise to plan and design a new shell waste processing facility.”

Is it weird that a company that employs someone who was once convicted of fraud related to ACOA applications is now applying for and receiving ACOA grants and loans? Seems weird to me.

But you know, I believe in redemption. Parker Donham certainly seems to think Anderson has been redeemed, and now the Chronicle Herald and CBC are also singing Anderson’s praises, so redemption it is!

Absolutely nobody should suggest that Anderson and Riverside are doing anything but the Lord’s work when they’re applying for ACOA financing and pursuing cheap immigrant labour.

Life is an inspiration, don’t you think?

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5. Atlantic Journalism Awards

El Jones

Congratulations to El Jones for winning the gold in the Commentary category at the Atlantic Journalism Awards Saturday night. El won for her piece “I don’t want to be a role model, I just want to be allowed to be human.”

El beat out Stephen Kimber, who also was a finalist in the Commentary category, for his Halifax Examiner piece, “Christopher Garnier’s PTSD: right policy, wrong result, better outcome….” Stephen, however, won the Gold in two other categories: in the Atlantic Magazine Article category for “Scents and sensibility” and in the Business Reporting: Any Medium category for “Judgement day” (both appeared in Atlantic Business Magazine).

Also, congratulations to Joan Baxter for winning the Silver in the Excellence in Digital Journalism: Enterprise/Longform category for her “Fool’s Gold” series, which was a joint Halifax Examiner / Cape Breton Spectator production and co-publication.

I’m beyond proud that the Halifax Examiner can publish this quality work. All of this would not be possible were it not for our subscribers, and I thank you all.

6. Architectural renderings, Sydney division

Writes Mary Campbell: “I will write about recent developments with the plan for a new central library next week — as soon as I figure out what in the name of the Dewey Decimal system is going on with it.”

Artist’s rendering of proposed new CBRM central library (that’s the library, peeking out from between two lovely, lovely buildings).

You can’t get that sort of quality snark just anywhere. You’ve got to subscribe to the Cape Breton Spectator, which you can do by clicking here, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
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7. Catering to rich people Golf will save us

“The golf season at Cabot Links Golf Resort in Inverness is underway and so is work on a new course — the third for the business,” reports Holly Conners for the CBC:

“It’s a little less serious,” said general manager Andrew Alkenbrack. “It’s a lot more fun.

“You can play it a lot faster as well … so it’s perfect if you’re short on time, or you’re short on daylight.”

He said it would be a perfect option for those having to head to the airport, “but maybe haven’t had their fix of Cabot golf.”


Views

1. Don’t fence me in

Fence in Lequille, Annapolis County. Photo: Stephen Archibald

“Here’s a little project for your summer adventures in our cultural landscapes,” writes Stephen Archibald:

Take note of vintage, woven wire fences. They are not too common, but they crop up all over the province (and elsewhere on this continent), and can be delightfully decorative.

We’re not talking about barbed wire, that has a dodgy narrative, or fencing generally intended for livestock. The fencing I’m promoting was most often found around people’s yards to define a private space; keep in a dog, or keep out hares.

2. Abortion

Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca Thomas gives an account of her abortion in StarMetro Halifax:

More than a decade later, I feel no regret over my decision. I don’t think about the child that would have been. I sometimes even forget I had an abortion until things like what is happening in Georgia come up. And it is for this reason, that people will call me a monster. I will face backlash because I didn’t agonize over my decision. My life wasn’t in danger if I continued on with my pregnancy. I wasn’t raped or the victim of incest. I was a young woman who did not want to be a parent; who did not want to be pregnant and I will be called selfish for this.

I support a woman’s right to choose. Pro-choice means that women get to choose whether or not they keep a pregnancy, give their child up for adoption, keep the baby, or terminate the pregnancy. It is not pro-abortion.


Government

City

Monday

The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Grants Committee (Monday, 9am, City Hall) — tax reductions for non-profit organizations. Most of these make a lot of sense, but I still have a problem with reducing taxes on the yacht clubs.

Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — more about street checks.

Halifax and West Community Council Special Meeting (Monday, 6pm, City Hall) — I’m yet again thinking about the thousands of person-hours being completely wasted on the Centre Plan.

North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, Bedford-Hammonds Plains Community Centre) — here’s the agenda; I haven’t had time to go through it all.

Tuesday

City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

Health (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House) — questions about the QEII redevelopment.


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Senate (Monday, 3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — agenda

Childhood Adversity: Consequences on the Brain and Society (Monday, 6:30pm, Halifax Central Library) — an interactive panel discussion with Gustavo Turecki from McGill University; Mohammed Shaheen from Alludes University, Palestine; Alon Friedman, Cynthia Caulkin, and Tara Perrot from Dalhousie University; and George Jordan.


In the harbour

07:15: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship, with up to 2,808 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from New York, on a seven-day round-trip cruise
08:00: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a seven-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
15:00: Elka Eleftheria, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from IJmuiden, Netherlands
15:00: Avontuur, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 25 from Vera Cruz, Mexico
17:45: Zaandam sails for Sydney
17:45: Norwegian Dawn sails for Saint John

Where are the Canadian military ships?



Footnotes

It’s a beautiful day, looks like.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. I was late reading today’s Morning File, so I only just now saw your comments. I had no idea the Frank Anderson quoted in the Herald on immigration policy was the central figure in the South West Shore Development Authority scandal. I agree his continued access to ACOA grants is unsettling.

    I just don’t see what that has the do with his comments on immigration policy, which seem cogent and rooted in experience sponsoring immigrants.

  2. 1. Tim, as a long-time subscriber to the Examiner, let me just say that item number 4 today (The Redemption of Frank Andersen) is worth what I pay for the whole month. As far as I’m concerned, you can take the rest of May off.

    2. When I was growing up, there were 3 “Leo MacKay”s listed in the Stellarton phone directory as living on Foster Avenue.

    Now, one of those Leo McKays was actually “Leo McKay” (spelled with an Mc, not an Mac), and was my father. His inclusion on the list was due to a Maritime Tel and Tel spelling error that my father could not be bothered correcting. The other two were legitimate Macs. None of the three was closely enough related to consider any of the others kin. And there was a 4th Leo McKay, me, living on the same street, but not old enough for a separate listing.

  3. “…. the extent of the North Preston connection is very much over-stated. (Part 5 of the series will get into this in some detail.)”

    You never did get to publishing Part 5, though?

    1. Not yet. I’ve been attempting to put a team together for it, making some progress.

  4. Lean doesn’t necessarily involve firing lots of people. It’s a way to look at manufacturing processes to cut out waste within the processes and make them more efficient. Toyota is credited with developing the lean approach. I don’t know much about lean, but from the ACOA chart I would guess the research into alternative uses for lobster shells ties in with it. What waste are we producing? How can it be turned into something of value to customers? That said, I can guarantee you if you go down the rabbit hole of lean podcasts, websites, etc you will find plenty of language that will make you gag and lots of basic stuff like, “treat your employees well if you want them to perform well for you” dressed up as revolutionary thinking.