By Jason Kirby, Tamsin McMahon, Rosemary Westwood, Nick Taylor-Vaisey, and Mika Rekai - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 0 Comments
Disappearing bike lanes, pricy picture-hanging, strip club cash
For taxpayers concerned with out-of-control government spending, 2012 started on a bright enough note. Last January, the Department of National Defence announced it wanted to buy 20,000 custom-printed stress balls for its staff. Once Defence Minister Peter MacKay caught wind of the plan, he quickly cancelled the contract, calling it an “unnecessary expense of taxpayer money.” Noble words, but it was a brief reprieve. As Maclean’s found once again when researching this project, whether it was Ottawa, the provinces, municipalities or the organizations they oversee, governments couldn’t help themselves when it came to doling out cash. What follows is but a fraction of the foolish, wasteful and blatantly stupid ways governments found to spend taxpayers’ money. To uncover this year’s 99 items we pored over press releases and auditor generals’ reports, sifted through proactive disclosure statements and delved into media databases across the country, ferreting out examples of spending that occurred in 2012 or came to light last year. There will be those who take issue with some items on this list, arguing, for instance, that funding rock concerts boosts the economy. But the reality is that at every level of government, we’re in far worse fiscal shape than we were even a year ago, despite all the talk of cutbacks and austerity. And as this list makes clear, those who control the public purse have yet to really change their ways.
By Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press - Friday, January 4, 2013 at 9:08 PM - 0 Comments
VICTORIA – Uniformed police officers stood guard over two Victoria area hotels Friday to…
VICTORIA – Uniformed police officers stood guard over two Victoria area hotels Friday to ensure orderly public hearings on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, but protesters called the sequestered hearing process undemocratic and alienating.
Almost 250 people have officially registered to present oral evidence at the Victoria hearings of the federal joint review panel, which is examining the environmental viability of the proposed $6 billion twin pipeline project.
Hearings have been underway in British Columbia and Alberta for the past year on the proposed Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) plan to pipe Alberta oilsands bitumen to northwest B.C. for shipping on tankers to Asia.
But recently elected federal New Democrat MP Murray Rankin was shut out of the hearings.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, January 4, 2013 at 9:06 PM - 0 Comments
COMOX, B.C. – Four people survived a dramatic crash in which they were forced…
COMOX, B.C. – Four people survived a dramatic crash in which they were forced to jump out of a pickup truck just before the vehicle plunged over a cliff on the B.C. coast Friday.
The Royal Canadian Air Force, which was called out to rescue the group, said the incident happened near Toba Inlet, about 180 kilometres northwest of Vancouver.
The pickup was travelling on a snow-covered logging road when it went out of control and began sliding down an embankment.
Just before the truck went over a cliff, the four occupants jumped clear, but two of them were injured.
Medics from a company doing work in the area responded to the crash, but couldn’t move the patients and poor weather prevented an air ambulance from getting into the site, so the Air Force sent in a Cormorant helicopter.
“There were already first responders on scene and they had provided us an exact location where they were,” said aircraft commander Captain Luc Coates in a media statement released by the Air Force.
“They had also cleared a landing site for us at a wide part of the road, making for a quick and efficient operation.”
Once on the ground, RCAF emergency technicians linked up with the first responders.
“The patients were stable throughout and the medics had done a good job of keeping them warm and getting them ready for transport,” said Master Corp. Justin Cervantes, SAR Tech on board the Cormorant.
The military chopper then flew the four people to a hospital in Comox on Vancouver Island.
Their condition was not immediately known.
By Chris Johnston, The Canadian Press - Friday, January 4, 2013 at 9:05 PM - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – The NHL’s collective bargaining talks appear to be heading towards…
NEW YORK, N.Y. – The NHL’s collective bargaining talks appear to be heading towards the brink.
With the process still in mediation and the sides spending another day apart, negotiations slowed to a crawl just one week from a season saving deadline that is suddenly coming in to full view.
There had been some hope a deal could be reached in time to open training camps this weekend and start a 52-game schedule the following Saturday. Now the best-case scenario appears to be 48 games, with commissioner Gary Bettman making it clear an agreement must be reached by Jan. 11 for that to happen.
The extra lost week of a shortened season and another 60 missed games across the league come at an estimated cost of roughly US$130 million in hockey-related revenue, according to a source. Or, put another way, as much as $120,000 on average per player.
The only talking the sides did on Friday was with U.S. federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, who walked back and forth between the league office and NHLPA’s hotel several times during almost 13 hours of independent sessions. Beckenbaugh, no stranger to the process after being involved with the NHL’s 2004-05 lockout, was said to be trying to help them work through the remaining issues.
The mediation was scheduled to continue on Saturday morning. It was unclear when the NHL and NHLPA might be prepared to hold another face-to-face meeting again.
That last happened on Wednesday night, when talks stretched into early Thursday morning and saw enough progress made for the NHLPA to elect not to declare a “disclaimer of interest” prior to a midnight deadline. Players have since been asked to vote on giving their executive board that power again in a ballot that wraps up at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday.
If they grant them that authority, the union could be dissolved and transformed into a trade association. That would likely be accompanied by anti-trust lawsuits from players and bring even more uncertainty to the negotiating process than already exists.
In the meantime, lawyer Shepard Goldfein — who represents the NHL — filed a memo with the district court in New York on Friday informing judge Paul Engelmayer that the sides agreed that they wouldn’t need an expedited briefing schedule despite the ongoing talks. The judge had extended them that option a day earlier, when the NHLPA filed a response to a lawsuit from the NHL that is seeking to have the lockout declared legal.
As a result, the labour fight won’t likely get very far in the courts unless the NHL and NHLPA are unable to reach a deal and another season is cancelled. However, the sides still have a conference scheduled before the judge on Monday morning.
There seemed to be a growing feeling among everyone involved in the process that negotiations were likely headed down to the wire. It left the majority of locked-out players with little to do beyond sitting around and waiting.
While a few eyebrows were raised when Penguins defenceman Kris Letang travelled to Russia this week to sign on with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL, Pittsburgh teammate Sidney Crosby said Friday he was content to be patient before deciding on a place to play in Europe.
“You wait this long, trying to be optimistic, you can wait another week or however long until we know,” Crosby told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “What’s another week? After that, I’ll have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to do.
“At this point, I’m just worried about playing here.”
After more than six months of negotiations, it still remained to be seen whether the face of the sport would get that opportunity.
The sides have moved closer to one another with a series of proposals since Dec. 27, but still need to find agreement on the salary cap for next season, the length of player contracts, salary variance, the length of the CBA and pension plan, among other things.
The lockout will enter its 16th week on Sunday and many have already started asking questions about what kind of damage the sport’s fourth work stoppage in 20 years has inflicted. Even though a definitive answer won’t be known until a deal is eventually reached and a league coming off a record $3.3-billion in revenue resumes its operation, at least one player expressed regret about the inability of the two sides to get the game back on the ice sooner.
“For me, personally, I feel bad for (the fans) and embarrassed to be part of this whole situation,” Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal told the Raleigh News & Observer on Friday.
By Ivor Tossell - Friday, January 4, 2013 at 1:04 PM - 0 Comments
What the outrageous baseball star has in common with Rob Ford
José Canseco, the best mayor Toronto never had, is a man of many schemes. Just a few days ago, the former steroidal slugger rang in the new year with a public list of resolutions that included “Get elected to a important political office in the U.S. or canada to help all people and governments with there problems (sic)” and bringing an anti-aging drink called “Ponce de Canseco” to market.
In fact, he was square in the middle of convening a meeting of followers of his gonzo Twitter account to discuss the drink, sending out a picture of himself sipping a glass of suspiciously yellow liquid, when political inspiration struck. A political consultant from Milton, Ontario tweeted a suggestion that he run for office in Toronto. Canseco, who clearly understands the value of saying “yes,” appointed the political consultant from Milton as his agent on the spot. Continue…
By Sue Allan - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 5:11 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Just one day before last month’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.,…
OTTAWA – Just one day before last month’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Canada offered its gun merchants “new market opportunities” to export banned assault weapons to Colombia, one of the world’s most violent countries.
Canada quietly eased its ban on the export of assault-style weapons to Colombia after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird recommended an order amending the Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL).
That opened the door for Canadian gun merchants to sell fully automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines — banned in Canada — to Colombia.
“Colombia’s addition to the AFCCL opens new market opportunities by providing residents of Canada with the opportunity to explore and compete for contracts in Colombia for items controlled under the AFCCL,” says a government notice, posted Tuesday.
By Alan Fram And Julie Pace, The Associated Press - Monday, December 31, 2012 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Democrats and Republicans say signs of progress are emerging in urgent negotiations…
WASHINGTON – Democrats and Republicans say signs of progress are emerging in urgent negotiations to avert the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ ahead of a midnight deadline.
A person familiar with the negotiations says Democrats have offered to extend tax cuts for families making up to $450,000 a year and individuals making up to $400,000. President Barack Obama originally wanted the tax cuts to be extended only for families making up to $250,000 a year.
Unless an agreement is reached and approved by Congress by the start of New Year’s Day, more than $500 billion in 2013 tax increases will begin to take effect and $109 billion will be carved from defence and domestic programs
The person familiar with the talks requested anonymity in order to discuss the internal negotiations.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Culled together from a year of blog posts, sketches, features, interviews and links, a rough guide to the last 12 months. For a longer version, see all the weeks that were.
We considered the permanent campaign. Joe Oliver worried about foreign radicals. Lise St. Denis decided to become a Liberal. Stephen Woodworth challenged everyone to a debate. A problem with the same-sex marriage law was discovered. Michael Ignatieff said goodbye. Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty flirted with a federalism debate. Keystone XL was rejected to mixed reaction. MP pensions were put up for debate. Newt Gingrich shouted out the Prime Minister. John Baird championed gay rights. And Mr. Harper mused of major transformation, the ramifications of which is unclear.
The House reconvened and Old Age Security became the focus. Diane Finley pleaded her case. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu suggested convicted murders kill themselves. A citizenship ceremony was staged. A symbol of the government’s economic management went out of business. Vic Toews directed CSIS that it could make use of information obtained via torture, then explained his position using a ticking time bomb scenario. Larry Miller likened the gun registry to Hitler’s Germany, apologized and then reiterated his comparison. Vic Toews attacked. Vic Toews tabled. Vic Toews parsed. Vic Toews denied. Vic Toews retreated. The Internet mocked. The Prime Minister foretold. The government accused. The Internet was unforgiving. And Vic Toews seemed unclear. Justin Trudeau said something silly, but entertainingly refused to apologize. Glenn Thibeault parodied Mr. Trudeau. An Ontario judge refused to follow the Harper government’s advice. Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor broke big news of electoral chicanery. I talked to Brad Trost and considered Vic Toews and our rhetorical standards. Continue…
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 9:07 AM - 0 Comments
Theresa Spence’s hunger strike didn’t immediately capture Canada’s attention. Spence, the Attawapiskat First Nation’s chief, announced her strike on Dec. 10. She’s demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of the Crown, and she wants the government to respect her people’s treaty rights. At the time, when only a handful out newspapers gave Spence’s demands any ink, I called it a “lonely fight.” What a difference a few weeks makes.
By Joe McDonald, The Associated Press - Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 7:13 AM - 0 Comments
BEIJING, China – China’s new communist leaders are increasing already tight controls on Internet…
BEIJING, China – China’s new communist leaders are increasing already tight controls on Internet use and electronic publishing following a spate of embarrassing online reports about official abuses.
The measures suggest China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, and others who took power in November share their predecessors’ anxiety about the Internet’s potential to spread opposition to one-party rule and their insistence on controlling information despite promises of more economic reforms.
“They are still very paranoid about the potentially destabilizing effect of the Internet,” said Willy Lam, a politics specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “They are on the point of losing a monopoly on information, but they still are very eager to control the dissemination of views.”
By Janet McConnaughey, The Associated Press - Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 7:29 AM - 0 Comments
NEW ORLEANS – A federal judge gave final approval to BP’s settlement with businesses…
NEW ORLEANS – A federal judge gave final approval to BP’s settlement with businesses and individuals who lost money because of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP PLC has estimated it will pay $7.8 billion to resolve economic and medical claims from more than 100,000 businesses and individuals hurt by the nation’s worst offshore oil spill. The settlement has no cap; the company could end up paying more or less.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who gave his preliminary approval in May, made it final on Friday in a 125-page ruling released Friday evening.
“None of the objections, whether filed on the objections docket or elsewhere, have shown the Settlement to be anything other than fair, reasonable, and adequate,” he wrote.
By Sue Allan - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 6:03 AM - 0 Comments
WATERLOO, Ont. – Today is the last peek the market will have into RIM’s…
WATERLOO, Ont. – Today is the last peek the market will have into RIM’s financials before it releases its much anticipated new line of smartphones in the new year.
Research In Motion posts its third-quarter after markets close.
Analysts will closely be watching the company’s cash volume and subscriber numbers after the BlackBerry-maker surprised in the last quarter with better-than-expected numbers on both fronts.
RIM has already said it expects to report an operating loss in the third quarter.
By Dale Smith - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 7:47 PM - 0 Comments
Politics on TV, Dec. 19: Wherein the Governor General says he won’t meet with Chief Theresa Spence without political direction
Message of the day
“What’s at stake is the power of the public purse.”
Questions not answered
- Will the government start the process of appointing the next PBO?
Power & Politics had a year-ender interview with His Excellency the Governor General, and after some talk about watching astronaut Chris Hadfield launch from Canadian Space Agency headquarters, and about violence in hockey, the topic turned to the way that his role has been evolving. Johnston said that Canadians are well served by their system of government, which has evolved in a peaceful manner. Regarding the First Nations protests, Johnston said that his understanding that Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence wants a broader meeting leading up to one similar to the Crown-First Nations Gathering earlier this year, and because they are matters of politics, Johnston feels that it’s a matter for elected officials. Johnston also said that his foreign travel as the representative of the head of state is done at the behest of the government and their policy objectives.
By Ivor Tossell - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 5:22 PM - 0 Comments
The case for the ranked ballot
There are 2.6 million people in Toronto, and most of them are running for mayor.
Thanks to Mayor Rob Ford’s possible removal from office, the floodgates have opened to rumoured contenders: Councillors like Shelley Caroll, Adam Vaughan, Karen Stintz and even Giorgio Mammoliti, to say nothing of outsiders like Olivia Chow, Kathleen Wynne and John Tory, who is very good at maybe-running for things. The mayor himself loudly declared his candidacy, before disappearing on a pre-Christmas-vacation vacation ten days ago.
“There’s a running joke: there’s so many of them, maybe we should cut to the chase and have a 44-member game of Survivor,” said Carroll, the former budget chief and suburban centre-leftist, who’s one of the few to have actually declared. Meanwhile, at an event last week, Vaughan was busy sardonically handing out buttons he’d made, so that half the room ended up badged “I’m Running For Mayor Too!”
For as long as Rob Ford has been in power, the conversation about the next election has been about how many people will run against him, instead of what they’ll be running on. The man is so polarizing that the question isn’t whether an opponent can draw support from his fervent base, but how his opposition will split their vote.
In this latest poll’s scenarios, for instance, Chow would beat Ford and a range of competitors. Without her in the race though, Ford would beat a range of three- or four-way splits against him. The poll’s results are exasperating in their attempts to puzzle through all the permutations: Chow, Ford, Vaughan, and Carroll; Chow, Ford, Tory, Vaughan and Carroll; Chow, Chow, Chow, eggs and Chow; Ford, Vaughan, eggs, sausage and Chow, and so on.
These are not the makings of a fruitful conversation. Canadians like to grouse about our first-past-the-post elections, but have been reluctant to abandon their simplicity. Four provincial referenda on full-scale reworkings of provincial governments have failed. In Toronto, though, a more manageable change might be in the works.
In Toronto, Dave Meslin, a kinetic, well-known public advocate, has spent the past year lining up support for ranked ballots, a system that could bring election results more in line with what the majority of voters would prefer. Meslin has assembled a roster of city councillors who’ve endorsed his drive, including some of Rob Ford’s staunch conservative allies, who’ve taken both Meslin and and his proposal to their town halls, where the idea seems to have been warmly received. The logistics of preparing for an election has ruled out 2014, but in order to prod the provincial government into rewriting election laws to open the door for 2018, Meslin and his allies hope to see a council vote that will get the ball rolling this coming spring.
It works like this: Instead of voting for one candidate, voters would instead rank the candidates in order of preference. When the votes are counted, if a single candidate has 50% of the first-choice vote, they win. If nobody reaches 50%, then the last-place finisher is dropped from the ballot, and their supporters’ second-choice votes are distributed. The votes are counted again, and the process repeats itself until someone has secured 50% of the vote.
In this way, a broader consensus is needed to get elected; strategic voting becomes a secondary consideration; and candidates have more incentive to be less polarizing. After all, a highly divisive figure makes a good first choice for their supporters, but is unlikely to be a popular second choice. While our current system favours those who can divide their enemies, ranked ballots tilt the playing field towards moderates and coalitions.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about ranked ballots is how unremarkable they are. They’re in widespread use in cities across the United States, including Minneapolis and San Francisco. Brian Tanguay, a professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University, notes that ranked ballots were common in Manitoba until the mid-1950s. The upcoming federal Liberal leadership race will be decided by ranked ballots. Australia has used it nationally for almost a century, and has yet to dissolve.
For all that, the system is hardly a slam-dunk amongst students of electoral reform, who have been discussing the merits of various voting systems for decades. (Among other pontificators, Winston Churchill famously slammed it in 1931 for deciding elections on “the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates” – namely, the last-place finishers. But then, Churchill also called the status quo a provider of “fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation.”) And today, some voting-reform advocates see it as an inadequate half-measure that will hold back progress towards truly proportional representation.
But if it’s a cautions step, then so be it. It’s acheivable. There’s little suggestion that, for all the ranked ballot’s quirks, it’d be a step backwards. It might even whet voters appetites for more ambitious schemes, such as moving to a system of at-large councillors, like in Vancouver. The ranked ballot’s draw to the centre may not appeal to radicals of any stripe, but Toronto—jolted by its ongoing experiment in gonzo mayoring—has acquired a taste for conciliation. Let’s not let the moment pass.
By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 6:10 AM - 0 Comments
The inside story of the man at the centre of the storm
Lino Zambito is many things, not all of them good. The former contractor, would-be construction magnate and budding restaurateur is currently facing, he estimates, “about 12” fraud, collusion and breach of trust charges for, among other things, his role in an alleged bid-rigging scheme in the Montreal suburb of Boisbriand. In April, he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to subvert the outcome of a municipal election in that same community. Two days after Maclean’s met with him at the strip-mall pizzeria he now runs, Revenu Québec officials raided it in search of some $38,000 in unpaid taxes. And as the owner of the construction company Infrabec, he has, by his own admission, spent much of the last decade participating in a system that bilked taxpayers out of millions of dollars.
Yet it is precisely because of his misdeeds, or at least his willingness to talk about them under oath, that Zambito is something of a folk hero in Quebec these days. Subpoenaed on Sept. 5—one day after the Quebec election—by the commission investigating the province’s notorious construction industry, Zambito testified for eight days, and what came out of the tall, beefy 43-year-old’s mouth shocked a province and arguably brought a premature end to the careers of two big city mayors.
As a contractor in Montreal, Zambito says he participated in bid-rigging schemes involving the Rizzuto Mafia clan that usually culminated with mobsters stuffing wads of cash into their knee-high socks in the ill-lit backroom of a north end coffee shop. He not only kicked up a cut of his profits to those mobsters but also to various municipal and provincial political parties as well.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 3:58 PM - 0 Comments
So last night several dozen members of the Media Party joined a smaller cohort from the Conservative Party for a Christmas party at 24 Sussex Drive. Laureen Harper made little chocolate mice for the dessert tray. The event was strictly off the record, a new formal stipulation in place since Jane Taber surprised us all by writing up chapter and verse of the prime minister’s cocktail-party chat for the Globe a year ago, so I will tell you not a word that Stephen Harper shared with us. I can, however, report that Andrew MacDougall said not a word.
And it wasn’t for lack of effort on my part. “Answer the Mark Carney question of your choice,” I said to him, attempting to be sly.
“No comment,” he said, smiling and staring resolutely into the middle distance.
“Was there anger?” I asked.
By Sue Allan - Monday, December 17, 2012 at 5:26 AM - 0 Comments
Go west, young man: one-industry towns watch as economy passes them by
Go west, young man: one-industry towns watch as economy passes them by
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
HANTSPORT, N.S. – Glenn Rogers appreciated his small-town life in the Maritimes. But the lure of big dollars in Alberta was too strong to resist after his employer of 18 years shut down.
“I didn’t really look outside the mill until I was given no choice,” says Rogers, who worked as an instrument technician at the Minas Basin Pulp and Power paper mill until Friday, when it closed.
The manufacturer of recycled paper products employed 135 people in Hantsport, a town of 1,160. About 40 of them were offered jobs at CKF Inc., a local paper and foam plate maker and the mill’s sister company.
Rogers, 41, is now working at the Kearl Lake oilsands project in northern Alberta earning between $60 and $70 per hour — double the wages of what he was offered in Nova Scotia.
“You have a family to feed,” he said. “You go where you have to go and you have to do what you have to do.”
The closure of the 85-year-old Minas Basin mill is the latest blow for one-industry towns that have seen the economy pass them by, adding to the westward migration of skilled workers and draining the coffers of struggling communities.
It is the third paper mill to shut down in Nova Scotia in a year.
In June, Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products (TSX:RFP) announced the closure of its paper mill formerly known as Bowater in Brooklyn, N.S., throwing 320 people out of work. That came despite a $50-million provincial government offer to the company, $23.75 million of which was spent to buy about 10,000 hectares of land.
The former NewPage Port Hawkesbury paper mill in Point Tupper, N.S., resumed operations in October under a new name after it was bought by Vancouver-based Pacific West Commercial Corp. The mill has roughly half the workers it once employed, and that came after a $124.5-million assistance package from the provincial government.
The closures in Atlantic Canada aren’t relegated to paper mills. Just this past Friday, High Liner Foods Inc. (TSX:HLF) shuttered a fish plant in the southern Newfoundland town of Burin, saying the facility was expensive to operate because of its isolated location and distance from the marketplace.
About 140 people lost their jobs in the community of 2,400.
As the plants close, the small-town dream fades for many, says Arne Jensen, a former construction electrician at the Minas Basin site.
“It’s unbelievable how much money can be made leaving home,” he said.
The 33-year-old has also worked in the West, and said it isn’t difficult for a skilled tradeperson to quickly embrace the interprovincial commuting lifestyle.
“There are a lot of guys from Liverpool and Bowater. They’re out there in Alberta. That’s where you have to go.”
Hantsport Mayor Robbie Zwicker, an engineer at CKF, says he is determined to keep working in his town, despite its challenges.
“I don’t want to become like a lot of my colleagues, doing the Alberta dream. I think it’s just savage,” he said.
“My province has invested good money into my health care and my education. It’s a shame to turn our tax dollars over to the province of Alberta only to return to retire and further burden the local economies.”
As mayor, he faces the immediate task of trying to make up for a $270,000 drop in local tax revenue, about 10 per cent of the town budget, due to the Minas Basin mill closure.
“The small-town model in this province and probably many others may be broken and may be due for a relook,” he says.
He says towns that lose their main industries such as his may need to join regional municipalities, and commuters living just outside the borders of villages and small towns may have to pay higher taxes.
He is marketing Hantsport as a good place for an information technology hub. Driving through the community, he points to the soccer field, four hectares of scenic community grounds, and grand old homes with elegant gables and ornate latticework.
“Hantsport is tied into the Annapolis Valley continuous fibre network,” he says. “The Internet connectivity means you don’t have to be in Toronto or Silicon Valley. It’s a lower cost-of-living, and a great place to raise your kids.”
However, while Zwicker remains optimistic about the town’s prospects, some community leaders are also preparing for the possibility of social problems as a result of job loss and family strain.
Rev. Daniel Jamer, a Baptist minister, says community groups meet regularly in hopes of heading off social ills ranging from depression to suicide.
“This has created a lot of pain and struggle for people,” he said. “People are asking, ‘Can I stay here? Must I go someplace else?’”
Jamer says becoming a community of migrant workers to Alberta isn’t the solution.
“Financially it relieves pressures, but there’s more to life than money. In a family relationship there are strains from that life.”
Robert Younker, a 47-year-old resident of Liverpool, N.S., lost his job when the Bowater mill closed and now works on contracts that take him around the province doing environmental testing and construction work.
He says there’s growing concern in the Maritimes about workers moving out of their communities and taking spending dollars with them.
“If I’m not working I’m not taking my family out to supper, I’m not travelling as much, I’m not buying fuel at the local gas station,” Younker says.
He holds out hope that Liverpool will find a way to bounce back and gradually replace the paper industry jobs.
“I can’t imagine going anywhere else,” he says.
Liverpool has a deepwater harbour, and the Nova Scotia government recently acquired the Bowater mill’s former assets, including 220,000 hectares of land it hopes can be used by the forestry industry.
Premier Darrell Dexter has also said that he believes the Port Hawkesbury mill is poised to thrive under new ownership as it focuses on glossy supercalendered paper for the magazine and catalogue market.
But skilled workers like Rogers say they’re not planning to submit applications in the paper industry.
And Terry Gerhardt, the manager of operations who organized the shutdown of the Minas Basin mill, says his career in the paper industry is coming to an end.
“There’s other manufacturing careers out there that I think are possible. I think Nova Scotia is losing a lot of paper experience because people have just had enough,” the 47-year-old says.
“Either you’re going to go out West or it’s time to move on to a different manufacturing field.”
By Stephen Gordon - Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 8:33 AM - 0 Comments
I — and presumably most people familiar with the recent history of monetary policy — read this article in Saturday’s Globe and Mail with mounting horror:
Mark Carney was cast as the perfect alternative to Justin Trudeau by a tight network of Liberals who pulled out all the stops last summer to attract the Bank of Canada governor into the Liberal leadership race.
Mr. Carney was responsive to the efforts, and his actions over the summer – taking phone calls, asking questions about the race, staying over at a senior Liberal MP’s house during a week-long family holiday in Nova Scotia – fueled speculation about his candidacy.
By September, Liberal officials were trying to put together a team of organizers and supporters, and mapping out Mr. Carney’s road to victory at next year’s Liberal convention.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 5:24 PM - 0 Comments
The F-35 audit was released and the reset button was pushed. Dean Del Mastro and Bob Zimmer tried to put the new price tag in perspective. Thomas Mulcair explained the NDP’s position. Chris Alexander kept trying to make sense of the government’s handling of the file. The Prime Minister worried about “ripping up” contracts. The new accounting was considered. And myths and facts were clarified.
Brian Jean worried that a carbon tax would critically hurt families and the Prime Minister’s director of communications tried to explain the difference between the Conservative cap-and-trade plan and the NDP cap-and-trade plan. Ralph Goodale worried about Peter Van Loan’s temper. Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t remember talking about settlements with Stephen Harper. Brent Rathgeber considered the rules around foreign investment. Mr. Mulcair had lunch with Ed Broadbent. Jason Kenney angered the basket weavers. Justin Trudeau and Marc Garneau appealed to the market. And Rodger Cuzner read his annual Christmas poem.
Taste in music transpired politics. The Conservatives led the polls for another month. The latest budget bill drew aboriginal protests. Despite objections, C-377 passed the House. The Speaker spoke of decorum and parliamentary democracy. The Conservatives taunted Mr. Mulcair. The issue of civility started an argument. A royal commission on taxation was proposed. An expansion of CPP remained possible. And Mark Carney was courted by the Liberals.
Elsewhere: Paul Wells looked at foreign investment and the F-35. John Geddes looked at the F-35, the black-footed ferret and Roma refugees. And Colby Cosh reviewed the aftermath of the Calgary Centre by-election.
By Maclean's - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 5:05 PM - 0 Comments
Questions of the week
1. Will the question of House of Commons decorum ever be nicely resolved?
2. What’s happened to Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose’s political fortunes?
3. Why was Bill C-377 worth of special attention?
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 10:05 PM - 0 Comments
John Geddes observes Peter MacKay’s no good, very bad day.
He might have made it easier to hear his answers without wincing had he just admitted to past mistakes. Failing that mature, obvious response, he might have clung to a fragment of dignity by resolving at least not to drag Canadian men and women in uniform into it.
But no. His couldn’t restrain himself. He couldn’t resist bringing up his concern for the troops when pointedly asked if he had any regrets about his past harsh words toward critics who raised what turned out to be entirely valid concerns about the F-35 program.
Andrew Coyne fumes at the latest attempt to present the numbers more charitably.
The new line, as expressed in government documents and repeated by the Defence minister, Peter MacKay, is that the planes will cost $45.8-billion “over 42 years.” Not 20 years, or 30 years, but 42 years. And then the spin: it was a billion dollars a year before, it’s pretty much a billion dollars a years now. So you see? Nothing’s changed. Except it isn’t 42 years. Not in any comparable sense. The 20 years used in previous cost estimates was the (supposed) service life of the planes: that is, how long they’re expected to be in use, after delivery. KMPG’s report, as I said, assumed a service life of 30 years. So to compare apples to apples, you would have to say the planes are now projected to cost $45-billion over 30 years.
How does the government get 42 years? By adding in 12 years for “development and acquisition,” from the decision to acquire the planes in 2010 to the delivery of the last plane in 2022. No previous estimate included development costs. And indeed they add next to nothing to the total: just $565-million. But by tacking on another 12 years, they allow the government to spread the cost over a much longer time frame, and make the annual cost of the planes seem much lower than it is.
Meanwhile, here are the exchanges between Thomas Mulcair, Bob Rae and the Prime Minister during QP this afternoon. Continue…
By Dale Smith - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 8:47 PM - 0 Comments
Wherein Chris Alexander talks over everyone else until he gets his mic cut, and Justin Trudeau weighs in on jets and CNOOC
Message of the day
“This report proves that the government has been misleading Canadians on the F-35s.”
Questions not answered
- Will the government recognize the new Syrian opposition coalition? Continue…
By maclean's - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 5:38 AM - 0 Comments
Sitar master bridged East and West — ‘a global ambassador of India’s cultural heritage’
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 12:24 AM - 0 Comments
John Ivison’s latest column is mostly about the
F-35 F-18 replacementF-35, but it includes a bit about the CNOOC-Nexen deal as well.
“The public seems to appreciate that the takeover of a relatively minor player, for a whopping premium, at a particularly ticklish time in the Canada-China trade relationship was a prudent move. The government will now use this as a bargaining chip in the attempt to strike a more reciprocal rapport with the Chinese, as we move toward exploratory talks on a broader free trade agreement.”
The notion that CNOOxen is a “bargaining chip” is one we’ve seen fairly frequently lately. From the Globe:
“Senior federal government officials told The Globe and Mail that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been increasingly concerned with how Canada might gain more bargaining power to open up markets for Canadian companies in China. The Conservatives, they say, feel that the two-way investment relationship is overwhelmingly in Beijing’s favour right now.”
And from, well the Globe:
“People close to the federal government said the idea of gaining more leverage with foreign governments came to be a key factor in Mr. Harper’s thinking.”
It’s too bad the government had to use a Chinese takeover of a Canadian energy firm as the long-sought bargaining chip. It’s too bad the government didn’t have some sort of treaty that could protect Canadian investors in China hey waitaminnit —
For indeed the government has spent very nearly all of Calendar Year 2012 proclaiming it has just such a treaty in hand: the notorious Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement, or FIPA. Continue…