News

1. Atlantic Gold

Tailings management tailings facility at the Touquoy open pit gold mine in Nova Scotia. Photo: Simon Ryder-Burbidge

“St Barbara Ltd, the Australian mining company that owns Atlantic Gold and Atlantic Mining NS, which operates the Touquoy open pit gold mine in Moose River, is in trouble,” reports Joan Baxter:

This week, St Barbara’s share prices crashed 14% “to a multi-year low,” after the company released a statement that warns of “near-term risk of disruption” at its Touquoy mine because of what it called “permitting delays for tailings,” and also a “strategic review,” which could lead to its selling of its Simberi gold mine in Papua New Guinea.

That means that two of the three gold mines St Barbara operates — the one in Canada and another in Papua New Guinea — are not exactly glittering success stories.

The June 22 announcement, which is authorized by St Barbara’s Managing Director and CEO Craig Jetson, states that if the company doesn’t get what it wants from Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change (NSECC) by August 2022, it could suspend operations at the Moose River open pit gold mine, and place it in “care and maintenance.”

Click here to read “Atlantic Gold’s parent company hints it may halt its Nova Scotia operation.”

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2. Mass Casualty Commission

Nova Scotia RCMP’s chief investigative officer, Chris Leather. Photo: Halifax Examiner.

“The latest foundational document from the Mass Casualty Commission details everything the RCMP didn’t say in the days after one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history,” writes Stephen Kimber. “It’s a long list.”

Last week, Jennifer Henderson reported that “RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki ‘made a promise’ to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and the Prime Minister’s Office to leverage the mass murders of April 18/19, 2020 to get a gun control law passed.” But here in Nova Scotia, RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell resisted that pressure, and refused to tell the public what sort of guns were used, as Campbell said it would endanger the police investigation into how and from whom the killer obtained the weapons in the United States.

To which Kimber asks:

Given that the killer was already dead, and his name already known by every gun peddler with an Internet connection, what was the point in keeping this information secret? Beyond, of course, controlling every scrap of information?

Click here to read “What the Mounties don’t want you to know? Everything.”

This week, there are public proceedings of the commission Tuesday and Thursday, both days at the Halifax Convention Centre. I’ll be there.

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3. Claudia Chender

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and newly acclaimed Nova Scotia NDP leader Claudia Chender. Photo: NSNDP

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

The Nova Scotia New Democratic Party has a new leader, and the province has a new contender for premier in the next election.

NDP House Leader Claudia Chender — twice elected to represent Dartmouth South — was acclaimed at the party’s convention this weekend. 

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, former NDP Premier Darrell Dexter, and outgoing provincial leader Gary Burrill were all present for the announcement. 

Chender, a lawyer and mother of three school-age children, has proven to be an energetic representative for her constituency and a capable debater in the legislature. In her first speech as party leader, she accused Premier Tim Houston of making “wrong choices” by failing to assist Nova Scotians struggling with the rising cost-of-living. “People are feeling pretty buried,” said Chender. “We will show people we have their backs.”

But the NDP is a long way from forming government, having elected just six MLAs in 2021 (five of whom are women or gender queer). 

Holding half a dozen seats in the legislature didn’t stop Chender from calling on the Houston government to immediately redistribute some of the “tax windfall” from the provincial portion of the HST it’s collecting on higher diesel, gasoline, and home heating oil prices. Houston has told reporters it will be September (!) before the government releases figures showing how much extra revenue is flowing into provincial coffers — money the premier says is required to pay for services such as health and education.

Chender claimed Houston is “out of touch” and urged the government to send out $500 cheques to every family with a household income below $70,000.

“Five hundred dollars is a few tanks of gas, a few grocery carts of food, part of a month’s rent, or a few power bills. That’s real help people can count on,” said Chender. She went on to say that although many people are feeling worn down by COVID and frustrated at paying more for everything, “I have always believed Nova Scotia can be a beacon of hope. We can be a model for how to take care of ourselves.”

Chender referenced how during the first phase of the pandemic, Nova Scotia was reported on and studied by people all over the world as having been a place where people came together to take care of each other. “I think it’s our super-power,” said Chender, “and that’s what we need to see reflected in the government.”

The next provincial election will be in 2025. “Claudia,” as she was branded on orange signs everywhere in the room, paid tribute to former provincial and then federal NDP leader Alexa McDonough. “Alexa,” as she was known to every Nova Scotian, died this past year and was an inspiration and mentor to Chender and dozens of women from all political parties over several decades. 

In his address to the crowd, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh talked about the Supreme Court decision in the United States that immediately makes access to abortion more difficult for women. Striking down the federal abortion law leaves regulating abortion up to each individual state and many states have already indicated they intend to make abortion illegal.

“We have a fight on our hands,” said Singh. “The Roe v Wade decision in the U.S. is an attack on fundamental human rights. It’s an attack on women as well. It undermines the fundamental understanding that a person should have control over their own body. And the reason why I bring it up in the spirit of Alexa McDonough — who never backed down from a fight — is because it reminds us we must remain vigilant to defend human rights. We must mobilize to protect these rights and we must not only fight but we must win.”

Singh told members of the Nova Scotia NDP that the decision by the federal party to prop up the minority government led by Trudeau rather than force another election was made “to help people.” Singh said elements in that deal are significant improvements, including free dental care for kids under 12 and the eventual expansion of Pharmacare (expected next year), as well as a better definition of “affordable” housing. 

The leader got the biggest laugh/applause of the afternoon when he said the previous Liberal definition of affordable housing allowed developers receiving federal funding to charge $2,334 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Halifax. Under the new “affordable” definition brokered by the NDP, Singh said that one-bedroom rent in Halifax has come down to $998 a month.

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4. X. Y. case update

The Law Courts in Halifax in February 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“The federal government claims an accused RCMP officer didn’t sexually assault a teenage girl in the 1990s — and if he did, he ‘was acting outside the scope of his duties as an employed officer of the RCMP,’” reports Zane Woodford:

The girl, now an adult referred to in court documents as X.Y., is suing Halifax Regional Municipality and the federal government, as the Halifax Examiner first reported in January.

Click here to read “Federal government denies sexual assault by RCMP officer in X.Y. case.”

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5. Exec salaries at Nova Scotia Power topped up by Emera

Peter Gregg, President & Chief Executive Officer at Nova Scotia Power. Photo: Nova Scotia Power

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

Nova Scotia Power has reluctantly provided information to the Utility and Review Board on the total compensation (salaries, bonuses, and long-term incentives including stock options) paid to its president and eight senior executives last year. The amount came to $4.42 million for 2021 with Nova Scotia Power president and CEO Peter Gregg earning $804,224.

Emera shareholders paid about two-thirds (66%) of that $4.42 million. The bill to ratepayers in Nova Scotia — who are staring at a proposed 10% rate hike over the next two to three years — was $2.03 million. That’s because of legislation that limits how much ratepayers can be charged for executives’ salaries. 

The ratepayer-paid salaries of Gregg and the other eight executives is capped at the level of the most senior deputy minister working for the provincial government, plus 13%. In 2021, the highest paid deputy minister was paid $222,829; the 13% increase brought that to $251,797 each. The rest of their pay packets was covered by shareholders at Nova Scotia Power’s parent company, Emera.

Nova Scotia Power is forecasting executive compensation will increase by 2% in 2023 and 2024.

Nova Scotia Power had resisted efforts by the Consumer Advocate, Small Business Advocate, and Large Manufacturers group to make the total salary information public. The utility argued the only portion of executive pay relevant to the upcoming hearing on power rate and fee increases is the amount paid by ratepayers. The Utility and Review Board disagreed and ordered that an aggregate of the total compensation be disclosed. 

Other than the salary paid to Gregg, the amounts paid to other senior vice-presidents and legal counsel are not broken out.

Like most regulated utilities in North America, Nova Scotia Power hires consultants to benchmark or compare the salaries it pays its executives with other North American companies in the same business. Nova Scotia Power quotes a study prepared for it by Mercer Consultants. Mercer found salaries in Nova Scotia cruised in at about 73% of what is paid to executives working at similar companies. 

Maybe if Emera can afford to top up executive salaries at Nova Scotia Power, it could also afford to make a $2.4 million (or more) contribution to how much Nova Scotia Power is proposing to squeeze from ratepayers in the next few years.

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Noticed

I love everything about this video — Olivia Rodrigo and Lily Allen’s righteous anger; how at 19, Rodrigo clearly adores Allen, who at 37 is nearly twice her age; the all-women band; Allen’s poise and dignity and general badassedness (she has had, as they say, a life); the crowd.

John Roberts has clearly lost the “respect the court as an institution” battle.

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Government

City

Monday

Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — also via video

Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Monday, 1pm) — virtual meeting

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 9am, City Hall) — also via video

Province

Monday

No meetings

Tuesday

Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Strategies to Prevent Workplace Injuries, with representatives from the Dept. of Labour, Skills and Immigration, and Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia; also agency, board, and commission appointments

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — Nova Scotia Park System, with representatives from the Dept. of Natural Resources and Renewables


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Meet SuperNOVA (Tuesday, 10am) — virtual session


In the harbour

Halifax
06:00: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Saint Croix, Virgin Islands
07:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Tampa, Florida
07:45: 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
11:00: MSC Rossella, container ship, sails from anchorage for sea
15:00: NYK Meteor, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Caucedo, Dominican Republic
16:15: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
17:45: Zaandam sails for Sydney
18:00: Trinitas, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Moa, Cuba
18:00: Tropic Lissette sails for sea
23:45: Selfoss sails for Portland

Cape Breton
12:00: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, moves from Inhabitants Bay to Point Tupper
17:00: Polar Prince, tender, moves from Baddedk anchorage to Bird Islands


Footnotes

Back in the Before Times, summer was a three-month slow news cycle, but now it’s a constant dog’s breakfast of terrible. Still, this morning, there was a brief reprieve. That surely means the rest of the day will be filled with horrors, but I’ll take whatever bit of peace I can find.


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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. Can’t understand why people get bonuses in addition to salary. They are hired to do a job and that’s what the salary covers. If you hire a plumber who says the job will cost $100 and they do a good job, they get $100. If they screw it up they get sued. What makes a CEO (who, in reality, does zilch) different?

    1. Non-union staff at HRM get bonuses but we aren’t allowed to know the terms of the arrangement. Millions of workers get bonuses. In my first career I and others were often told ‘Job and finish’ and we would not take a coffee break or a full hour for lunch and we would just set to and get the job done and then knock off.

    2. I had a salaried position at a call center in the past. I was eligible for bonuses on a quarterly basis; however, those bonuses were tied to a number of company-wide performance metrics. If the metric wasn’t reached, regardless of reason why, the bonus wasn’t paid. Over the time I worked there, I think I got a bonus only about 50% of the time and never more than $500.

  2. You now know more about the payments to NSPC executives than you know about pay and bonuses to HRM executives and employees.

    1. HRM does publish a “sunshine list” of the salaries and bonuses of all employees totalling $100,000 or more. The list is long. A lot of managment makes the list as well as most cops and firefighters.