Former you-name-it Norman Spector (@nspector4) points out a glaring omission in my partial list of pundits who inveighed against BC Premier Christy Clark's demand for a share of profits from the Northern Gateway pipeline, while mostly ignoring Quebec's brazen extortion of Newfoundland hydro exports. Stephen Maher, late of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, and now typing for the Postmedia chain, had a terrific column on the dispute last weekend, one that places the Quebec-Newfoundland precedent front-and-center. The nub: History suggests...

Spoken word artist and social advocate Ardath Whynacht won't be taking part in the public consultations  MT&L and Myrgan Inc. are conducting to smooth the way for Joe Ramia's controversy-plagued Nova Centre in downtown Halifax. Her post at the Halifax Media Co-op website didn't mince words: To engage a single demographic in an orchestrated PR stunt, letting them believe that Joe Ramia and his development cronies will actually entertain the idea of having an after-school drop in centre in their luxury hotel is a crime against democracy. It is a lie. Consultation without a commitment to listen to the citizens is a PR...

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson explains it in four terse sentences: Europe has Greece. We have Mississippi. Europe uses the term "permanent bailouts." We call it "Medicaid." And he illustrates the point with a map from the Economist: Thompson again: [T]he poorest states like Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia rely on ginormous transfers of federal taxes in the form of unemployment benefits and Medicaid. Like the United States, the euro zone is all on one currency. Unlike the United States, the euro zone collects a teensy share of total taxes at the EU level and has no legacy of permanent fiscal transfers from the...

When information is presented in a format computer programs can read, as opposed to a static, telephone directory-style list, fresh insights spring from the data. Contrarian friend Gus Reed prepared a compendium of revelations arising from Elections Nova Scotia's annual political donations report—once we liberated it from the cloistered format favored by the former Chief Electoral Officer. Some examples: Does Nova Scotia have a party of the rich? Not according to the donations made in 2010. When Gus plotted the proportion of donations against their size, all three major parties showed a remarkably similar distributions: Vote tallies for the three major parties in...

In Who Killed American Unions, on the Atlantic's website, Derek Thompson speculates about a connection between technological change and the rise and fall of union membership, which has shrunk to just 12 percent of the US workforce. I was struck by this graph, comparing the rate of union membership with the middle class share of aggregare income: Writes Thompson: The apogee of the unions was also the apogee of the middle class, when it commanded more than half of total income. As the union membership rate dropped, middle class share of income fell, too....

CBRM Mayor John Morgan, facing serious opposition* for the first time in 12 years, is scrambling to justify his cash-strapped municipality's snap decision to spend $6 million in tax money to block a private sector development that promised immediate jobs. On just two days' notice last month, CBRM outbid a private sector developer to buy the Greenfield Site, a 400-acre parcel on Sydney's freshly dredged harbour. At the time, Morgan said the so-called mystery developer planned to use the site for a bulk terminal that would permanently preclude its use as a container pier, the Great Big Project Morgan continually upholds as...

Headline: CBRM to seek control of Laurentian Energy's greenfield site Headline: CBRM warns harbour site suitor Let me see if I have this straight: The Cape Breton Regional Municipality, which is $102.9 million in debt, and which constantly complains that it can't afford to provide basic services, is going to borrow $6 million to buy 400 acres of harbour-front land, or a lesser amount to buy a controlling interest in the company that is selling the land, all to block — yes, block! — a proposed industrial development, so it can "save" the land for a fantasy container pier that will never, ever happen. CBRM can afford to...

Dan Bedell, Atlantic Canada Communications Director for the Canadian Red Cross, adds a useful postscript to my piece about the unusual pairing of bluesman Matt Anderson and folkie Dave Ginning at a Halifax Chamber of Commerce dinner on May 2. Matt’s a big guy with a big heart. He's from the Perth-Andover, NB, area, where he organized a benefit concert April 28 that included Bruce Guthro and Lennie Gallant among others. Perth-Andover’s population is only about 1900, and there were close to 1200 in attendance, while others watched via live web streaming. Ticket revenue and various door prize/50-50 sales, plus cash donations at the...

Yesterday, I succumbed to self-pity about a gastank fill-up that edged perilously close to a C-note. Contrarian regular Denis Falvey offers a dose of reality: We will never get off our dependance on gasoline until the cost of a gallon of the stuff is through the roof. That's what makes the alternatives affordable. I am told that Quebec is currently building the infrastructure necessary for electric cars, and has an $8,000 allowance for each person buying a Volt. Whether that is good or bad, do you think it would happen with gas at $0.50 a gallon? As long as fish caught off our coast can...

  The management of Simeon's Family Restaurant in Sydney attached a makeshift sign to the venerable but non-functioning Bell-Aliant pay phone in the restaurant's vestibule. With the explosion in cell phone ownership and use, timely maintenance of the ancient pay-per-use devices just isn't a priority any more. "Trying to find a working pay phone," wrote one friend when I posted this photo on Facebook, "is like trying to find a four-leaf clover." "I love pay phones," wrote another. "They hint at a world of possibilities."...