Category: Nova Scotia Politics
Progressive Conservatives are voting in Halifax at this hour on whether to review Jamie Baillie’s leadership. Some of the delegates have cameras.
Contrarian isn’t saying who. Pete Seeger taught us not to name names.
A childhood friend found this disturbing 1956 photograph by the late Life Magazine photographer Gordon Parks on the Facebook page of the African-American history group BlackPast.org. She reposted it on her own Facebook page, and I reposted to to mine, adding, “It’s worth remembering that this was less than 60 years ago.”
It didn’t take long for Gus Reed to post this photo of the posh Hydrostone restaurant Epicurious Morsels, adding:
60 years ago there was a separate entrance for African Americans at the Birmingham bus station. 60 seconds ago, this was the wheelchair entrance at a restaurant in Halifax. One of hundreds of retail establishments like this, by the way. Can you explain the difference?
It’s not the difference that should bother us, but the similarity. White southerners didn’t bat an eye at segregationist signs in the 1950s. Mobile Canadians don’t bat an eye at respectable establishments that exclude users of wheelchairs in the 20-teens.
Can I explain the difference? Yes. Canada lacks the public and political will to extend to people in wheel chairs the same civil rights we would be appalled to deny African Americans or Jews. After repeated protestations from Gus and others, HRM’s all-powerful building code enforcers have begun insisting new businesses include wheelchair accessibility, but heaven forfend a ramp should intrude on a square inch of the city’s notoriously wheelchair unfriendly sidewalks.
By the way, Epicurious Morsels and a lot of other Halifax establishments could solve this problem for less than $100 with a portable threshold ramp.
[See Update in second to last paragraph.]
Just 64 days after taking her seat in the Nova Scotia Legislature, newly elected Liberal MLA Pam Eyking left Canada for a 28-day family trip to Australia and Taiwan.
Eyking and her husband Mark, MP for Sydney-Victoria, left Canada on Boxing Day. Her office said she is expected back in Nova Scotia Thursday, the 23rd. Contrarian learned about the trip from a prominent Cape Breton Liberal who asked not to be identified, but said party members are annoyed at her taking a long foreign vacation so early in her term as MLA. Elected October 8, Eyking was sworn in as MLA October 22.
Longtime Liberal MLA Manning MacDonald resigned his seat last May after his decision to take a month-long Florida vacation while the house was sitting came under fire. The house has not been in session during Eyking’s absence.
Laurel Munroe, communications advisor to Premier Stephen McNeil, said the Eykings spent two weeks in Australia visiting “their son, who lives there,” then continued on to Taiwan where Mark Eyking is on “a Parliamentary trip.” She said did not have details on any Parliamentary business he was conducting, but said such trips are common for MPs.
Asked if McNeil had approved Eyking’s trip in advance, Munroe said, “she made him aware of it before leaving, but MLAs don’t require approval unless house is in session.”
Munroe said the premier, “told her to make sure her constituency office is ready to handle any constituent inquiries that come up while she is away.”
A staff member in Mark Eyking’s Ottawa office who did not know the nature of the MP’s business in Taiwan offered to have a staff member who did return Contrarian’s call, but the other staffer did not call back.
Facebook pages of Eykings’ two sons list both men as Ottawa residents, but photos show one of them at an Australian surf camp in late October.
In an email to Contrarian, Pam Eyking said she was, “currently in Taiwan doing business trade for the riding and area. Over the next several days I have meetings lined up for CBU, Cape Breton fishers, and the Cape Breton tourist association.”
She did not respond to questions in a follow-up email seeking details about the meetings and comment on the propriety of leaving the country for an extended trip so soon after her election. She did offer to meet after she returns to Cape Breton.
Cape Breton University President David Wheeler
did not respond to emails seeking details on any meetings Eyking is attending for the university in Taiwan. confirmed Monday that university officials “did speak to Ms. Eyking about making links for CBU in Taiwan before her departure.” The Cape Breton Tourist Association ceased to exist in 2007. The island’s tourism industry has been represented since 2003 by Destination Cape Breton.
[Disclosure: I have been friendly with the Eykings for many years, but I have also been vocal in criticizing Pam Eyking's decision to run for the provincial legislature.]
Contrarian’s friend and neighbour Valerie Patterson was in the North Sydney liquor commission Wednesday, picking up supplies for Darts Night at the Ross Ferry Volunteer Fire Department. She was surprised to find our recently defeated MLA, Keith Bain, a member of the United Church, staffing the Salvation Army kettle. Why? He had heard the Sally Ann was having trouble finding members to staff the kettles. So he volunteered.
Perhaps in “retirement,” Keith will do for MLAs what Jimmy Carter has done for former U.S. Presidents: find ever more imaginative outlets for his leadership and compassion.
Our curmudgeonly friend’s sardonic cousin writes:
What have you got against insightful and inspired young folks?
A few days ago I heard a CBC interview with a Mom who was just so darn proud of her two-year-old son because he decided not to accept presents on his second birthday. Instead, he invited guests to bring a financial donation to some worthy cause. The young boy raised a few hundred dollars for the cause. I was so overwhelmed by this child’s selflessness, I forgot what the cause was.
Stop engaging in childism! Give kids a chance!
“Fart Day” has a nice ring to it. “Hey, what are ya doin’ on Fart Day?” “Are banks closed on Fart Day?”
On Monday, Contrarian voiced skepticism about a Digby couple’s claim that wind turbines had decimated their their emu flock.
Andy MacCallum, vice president of developments for Natural Forces Technologies Inc., a company that helps develop small wind projects in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and British Columbia, responds:
I worked on a wind farm in Western Australia a few years ago called Emu Downs Wind Farm. An emu farmer was the major landowner for the project. The emus loved the turbines, and would gather at the turbine bases as they provided shelter from the wind.
This is, of course, merely an anecdote, just as the failure of the Ocean Breeze Emu Farm is merely an anecdote. By themselves, neither proves anything. But the Emu Downs story presents stronger evidence against the turbines-harm-emus hypothesis, than the Ocean Breeze story presents in its favor.
- If turbines kill emus, then gathering around the Emu Downs turbines should have hurt the Aussie birds, but apparently it did not. The site remains a tourist attraction.
- A thousand factors could have caused the Ocean Breeze emus’ failure to thrive. Owners Debi and David Van Tassell simply picked the explanation they preferred, with no supporting evidence.
Without considering possible alternatives, the CBC swallowed the Van Tassell’s sad story, whole. Not to be outdone, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald committed the same journalistic malpractice a day later.
The impulse to accept at face value any argument against any development, no matter how far fetched or specious, simply because those advancing it are deemed, “sincere,” is a recipe for basing decisions on ignorance, prejudice, and magical beliefs.
Where are the editors?
[Photo: Workers construct the base of a wind turbine going up at Hillside Boularderie, about 30 km from Contrarian's Kempt Head base station. Courtesy of Natural Forces.]
Elections Nova Scotia quietly posted the poll-by-poll results of the October 8 Nova Scotia election on its website last Thursday
Preliminary poll-by-poll results are normally released immediately after the vote, but this year, for the first time in living memory, elections bureaucrats decided to keep the detailed results to themselves for three weeks. The only explanation offered was that the Chronicle-Herald wasn’t interested in publishing them (as it had traditionally), so Chief Electoral Officer Richard P. Temporale decided no one else could have them either.
Aside from this inexcusable delay, the agency did a good job of presenting the tallies, making them available in both PDF format, with accompanying maps of the polling districts, and as a zip file* of 51 Excel spreadsheets, plus a riding-by-riding summary.
(In the past, Elections Nova Scotia has sometimes deliberately degraded the electronic files it makes public, so as to make them all but impossible for researchers to use. This retrograde practice has eased somewhat since Temporale ascended to the throne.)
I look forward to seeing what map geeks can do with these spreadsheets. Elections Nova Scotia publishes mapping shapefiles on its website for the 51 electoral districts, but alas, not for individual polling districts. It’s possible these might be available on request, but Contrarian may not be the best person to ask.
[*Note: I have not linked directly to the zip file, because I expect doing so would trigger spam filters to reject the daily emailed version of Contrarian (see "Subscribe to Contrarian" at right). To download the zip file, click here, and then on the words, "Excel format" in the third bullet point.]
Cliff White sides Bousquet:
I love the discussion about the superports. Tim Bousquet nailed it. You will remember that a lot of the hype about the Atlantica concept was based on the same false assumptions. During that debate one brilliant supporter suggested reducing transportation costs by hiring Mexicans at low wages to drive the trucks.
At the time I was working for The Council of Canadians. I was heavily involved in organizing against the initiative, until that is I realized it was a delusional pipe dream cooked up by AIMS and some elements of the business community. At that point I stopped being concerned but had a very difficult time convincing colleagues and allies.
What is perhaps instructive to remember is how many business people, politicians, academics, NGOS, and others—both supporters and opponents—bought into the potential reality of the idea, and how reluctant they were to let go of it, despite its obvious flaws.
Previously, Contrarian’s curmudgeonly friend, who happens to be an aging white man, commented sardonically on all the factors besides talent that Stephen McNeil would have to weigh in selecting a cabinet. Contrarian, who is likewise aging and white [see illustration at right], allowed himself to fantasize about a cabinet chosen solely on the basis of ability.
One Contrarian reader took this as a prescription for a cabinet of old white men, to which I replied, ”Seriously? Aren’t we past the day when aging white men with old ideas are the only people thought to have talent?”
Contrarian reader Jesse Gainer writes:
I’m rather shocked you find this shocking. There is little to no evidence to support the idea that we live in some post-racial Utopian society that has moved on from an old-white-dude-centric view of what is best for people, especially since the majority of decision makers in western society continue to be old white dudes.
It is rather funny that an aging white man would write an opinion column expressing shock that aging white men still benefit from privilege.
Because, for all our cynicism about politics, we want them to succeed.
We wanted Darrell Dexter to succeed, and our unrealistic expectations for his government never recovered from its series of early missteps.
Despite a majority of comparable magnitude, Stephen McNeil comes to office with far lower expectations than his predecessor. His deliberately bland campaign included a few platform whoppers he’ll be foolhardy to implement (one big health board, deregulation of electricity markets, defunding energy Efficiency Nova Scotia), but for the most part, he is free from extravagant commitments. This lowers the risk of early disappointments, though not necessarily missteps.
McNeil has another advantage over Dexter. Whatever doubts we may harbour as to his own ability to handle the difficult job he has won, his cabinet includes a solid core of experienced and shrewd political veterans with at least the potential to manage complex departmental responsibilities.
Where Dexter had only Steele, MacDonald, and Estabrooks to inspire confidence, McNeil has Regan, Whelan, Samson, MacLellan, Glavine, and Casey.
They have a tough job. We wish them well because, it bears repeating, we all want them to succeed.