There’s a story going around Cape Breton that the province  is cheating the Cape Breton Regional Municipality out of hundreds of millions of dollars per year in federal equalization payments to which our island is Constitutionally entitled. The story is untrue. Among technocrats who understand how equalization works, and the much larger group with no patience for Cape Breton bellyaching, it elicits eye-rolling scorn. But the story rests on a set of facts that can be assembled, or misassembled, into an easily understood and rational-sounding complaint with enduring emotional power. At the moment, it has hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Cape Bretoners fit...

At his Turpin Labs blog, Bill Turpin says Halifax, with 43% of Nova Scotia's population, suffers most from the doctor shortage, despite having 60% of NS doctors. He leans on Health Authority stats, and blames "the rural favouritism baked into our politics." I'm skeptical, and offer a few points to consider....

I have vented previously, here and here, about the quiet acquiescence of municipal and provincial leaders to the destruction of Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation. Why haven't the Premier, the Minister of Economic Development, the Leader of the Opposition, and other provincial leaders spoken out against the elimination of an institution, enshrined in an Act of Parliament, whose dismantling will cost Cape Breton tens of millions of dollars a year for the foreseeable future? Cape Breton is still part of Nova Scotia, after all. My purpose in this post is not to belabour the point, but to direct readers' attention to a striking...

That was a peculiar performance by Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke Friday. At a hastily called, 3:30 p.m. news conference, the mayor denounced municipal affairs bureaucrats for piling $4-5 million in new charges onto the financially strapped municipality, while rejecting his reasoned pleas for help coping with CBRM's fiscal mess. Since his election in the fall of 2012, Clarke has quietly led CBRM officials and citizens through a deliberate process to identify efficiencies in the municipality's far flung operations. They pared capital spending, and made what appeared to be an honest effort to come to provincial (and federal) negotiations...

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...

[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...

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...

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...