By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 0 Comments
The Scene. Peggy Nash was very nearly pleading. ”Will someone in the government,” she asked, “please outline right now what constitutes suitable employment?”
In Ms. Nash’s moment of need it was Ted Menzies, minister of state for finance, who stood. ”Mr. Speaker, I actually have some examples here of what constitutes suitable employment,” he reported.
At last, clarity seemed at hand. ”A mining company in Newfoundland is looking to hire 1,500 people in St. John’s, Newfoundland, through the temporary foreign worker program,” Mr. Menzies explained. “There are 32,500 people looking for work right now. That is why we are trying to make EI more effective to help these mining companies get people to employ.”
What precisely was the minister of state suggesting here? That if you are presently looking for work you might soon be expected to strap on a helmet lamp and make for St. John’s? And are there really only 32,500 people in this country presently looking for work?
There were chuckles of incredulity from the opposition side. Continue…
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
Nova Scotia got billions to build warships, but an old immigration scandal has left Halifax with a sinking feeling
Normally the announcement of billions in federal cash flowing into a community would be cause for unbridled optimism. But in Nova Scotia, the $25-billion contract to build combat ships at the Halifax Shipyard has instead raised the spectre of an old immigration scandal and strained relations between the province and Ottawa. Nova Scotia hopes the shipbuilding windfall will help it lure new immigrants to revive its hobbled workforce, while Ottawa no longer seems to trust the province to run its own immigration system.
The dispute stems from the provincial nominee program, a federal program which is designed to let each province pick at least some of its own immigrants. Under this program during the mid-2000s, Nova Scotia required immigrants to fork over $100,000 to local businesses in exchange for management-level “mentorship” training that was supposed to lead to full-time work. Roughly 900 immigrants complied, but many ended up unemployed or working at car dealerships, fish stands and laundromats, with thousands in fees pocketed by local businesses and consultants. Not surprisingly, about two-thirds of those immigrants left the province in search of jobs elsewhere.
Nova Scotia axed that aspect of its immigration program in 2006, and overhauled its rules to focus on attracting skilled workers and graduate students rather than those willing to pay cash for entry. But the changes haven’t swayed the federal government, which has refused to give Nova Scotia more spaces in the provincial nominee program, even as it raises its cap for Western provinces. In Manitoba, the program draws more than 12,000 immigrants every year, but for the past three years Ottawa has limited Nova Scotia’s share to just 500. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has aired his displeasure with how all the Atlantic provinces handled their immigration systems, telling one newspaper last year, “We are not going to continue with the rate of growth in the program over the past few years until we’re able to sit down with the provinces and make sure our concerns are addressed.”
That’s irked officials, who say despite ample demand to immigrate to Nova Scotia, the province is falling short of the numbers needed to take advantage of the shipbuilding contract’s economic spinoffs. “We have a federal government that thinks we have an immigration program which is still stained by the way it was run in the past,” says Liberal MLA Andrew Younger.
The province predicts it may need as many as 10,000 immigrants by 2014, when the federal shipbuilding contract swings into gear, to avoid a labour shortage. Last year just 2,400 immigrants arrived in Nova Scotia, with fewer than one-quarter coming through the provincial nominee program. Without its failed immigration project, the province would likely be much closer to its target of 5,000 a year, says Elizabeth Mills, executive director of the Office of Immigration. “In that time period that we had to deal with this whole issue, we were basically paralyzed,” she says.
That delay, says Younger, could cost Nova Scotia as it tries to attract young workers. Nova Scotia has one of the oldest and most stagnant populations in Canada. The population grew by less than one per cent between 2006 and 2011. “We really need to make sure that the government and the minister understand that the scandal that plagued Nova Scotia immigration is years behind us,” he says. “We’ve moved on.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM - 1 Comment
Robert Chisholm talks to the Chronicle-Herald.
Q: After the 1998 breakthrough, your party came very close to forming government in 1999. Then of course came the newspaper interview and the drunk driving revelation. What did you learn from that experience and from coming so close but falling short?
A: I learned a lot. We maintained 30 per cent of the vote in 1999, 18 months after we had made a huge breakthrough. In the history of the province of Nova Scotia, the NDP has never been close. Twenty per cent might have been a high-water mark for us. So, not only did we make the breakthrough in 1998, (but) 18 months later, under enormous pressure and scrutiny, we still hung on to 30 per cent of the vote. And that meant that we had arrived and we weren’t going to move from there.
It was a huge amount of stress. You’ve got to be able to function under fire and I did that. The thing about being a leader is it’s not all good times. That’s why I say that I’ve been through the good, the bad and the ugly. I feel I’ve come through that and I’ve learned a lot. It’s not all a bed of roses. Being a leader means you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, October 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 14 Comments
Keeping meddling politicians out of the shipbuilding contract decision worked. Is there a lesson here?
The Conservatives are most anxious that everyone should know what an independent and impartial process was used to decide the recent competition for $33 billion in federal shipbuilding work. And by all accounts it was. Ministers were kept far away from the file. The task of assessing the competing bids, from shipyards in B.C., Halifax and Quebec, was left to a team of senior civil servants. A “fairness monitor” vouched for their handiwork, with the help of two outside auditors. And so on.
All of which would be a lot more impressive if a) it had not already been decided at the political level that no foreign shipyards would be allowed to compete, reserving the bidding to a handful of high-priced domestic yards, b) it had not similarly been decided in advance that the work would be divided between two yards, meaning two of the three bidders were guaranteed to win something, and c) one of the three, Quebec’s near-bankrupt Davie Yards, had not been shoehorned into the bidding at the last minute thanks to a political decision to extend the deadline. Indeed, it is hard to escape the impression that all this scrupulousness was based less on principle and more on protecting the government from the inevitable blowback from whichever province lost, naming no Quebecs.
But why quibble? It would be a stretch to say the best bid won, but at least the worst bid lost, which is a lot better than these things usually play out. Indeed, the process was such a success some have been moved to ask: why don’t we do this . . . all the time? If it is a good thing to keep politicians’ thumbs off the scales on a major shipbuilding contract, why is it not also a good thing to get the politics out of procurement generally? Not only would it spare the taxpayer needless expense, but it would spare the country the regional resentments, lobbying wars and suspicions of corruption that go with most such decisions.
By John Geddes - Friday, October 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 5 Comments
Two contracts. Three provinces—each with a history of feeling slighted by the feds.
The situation could hardly be more packed with political danger. The federal government decides to award $33 billion of shipbuilding work to two shipyards, but there are three bidders. They hail from Nova Scotia, Quebec and British Columbia. Which of the three provinces, each with its own tradition of feeling grievously slighted by Ottawa, will be the big loser? Even when the stakes have been lower and the optics less harsh, the history of granting major federal contracts teaches a dismal lesson. “It’s always horrendous,” says André Juneau, director of Queen’s University’s Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, and a former senior federal bureaucrat who worked on many sensitive federal-provincial files.
But this time, improbably, not nearly so horrendous as usual. Last week’s anxiously awaited announcement was great for Halifax, which won the $25-billion deal to build warships, and very good for Vancouver, which scored $8 billion worth of work on coast guard and other non-combat vessels. Inevitably, that left some in Quebec complaining bitterly. The outcry, though, was oddly muted. “That’s competition for you,” said Yves-Thomas Dorval of the Conseil du patronat, Quebec’s main business lobby group. Elaborate measures taken by the federal Conservatives to make sure they couldn’t be plausibly accused of politically manipulating the outcome seemed to have succeeded in insulating them from the typical fallout.
That tactical victory came at a testing moment in federal-provincial relations. Looming questions about how the money is divided up in the federation threaten, as they have so often in Canadian history, to sour Ottawa’s relations with the provinces and heighten tensions between regions. The key issues involve renegotiating transfer-payment deals for health and equalization. Other touchy matters in play are Ottawa’s plans to redistribute seats in the House of Commons and create a national stock market regulator. The shipbuilding procurement is, in many respects, unique. But one lesson that could apply broadly is that taking elaborate steps to show that decisions aren’t tainted by favouritism pays valuable political dividends.
By Richard Warnica - Monday, September 26, 2011 at 10:20 AM - 1 Comment
The choice of a new Halifax museum’s executive director is stoking old tensions
The Africville Church Museum, a memorial to the bulldozed Nova Scotia town, will open to the public for the first time on Sunday, Sept. 25. The event is the culmination of years of lobbying by African-Canadians. But it comes as members of the community in Nova Scotia are stuck in a sudden and unexpected feud.
The Africville Historical Trust, which oversees the museum, recently hired Carole Nixon as its new executive director. Nixon is an Anglican priest with a university certificate in black studies. She is also, in the words of her detractors, “a Caucasian, British woman from Ontario,” a fact that does not sit well with some black Nova Scotians.
After the hiring was announced, Veronica Marsman, president of the Association of Black Social Workers, and Burnley “Rocky” Jones, a human rights lawyer, wrote a letter to the trust decrying the fact that a black candidate wasn’t found for the job. The letter called Nixon’s appointment “detrimental to the survival and growth of the African Nova Scotia community” and urged the trust to reconsider the appointment. “It really baffles me to think there wasn’t an African-Canadian person in this entire country who could fill this role,” Marsman says.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:07 PM - 11 Comments
“I think it takes away momentum for change at the provincial level and it will probably increase calls that we hear from time to time just saying, ‘Do we really need this institution?’” Wall told reporters at the provincial legislature Wednesday.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter is also unimpressed.
By macleans.ca - Friday, April 8, 2011 at 11:02 AM - 0 Comments
Are the Vancouver Canucks the prohibitive Cup favourites?
A Canuck Cup fave?
The Vancouver Canucks captured the President’s Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top regular-season team, despite playing in the superior conference and suffering an unearthly skein of injuries to its defence corps. This marks the first time Vancouver has won the trophy, introduced in 1985. The Canucks dominated impressively in 2010-11, surrendering far fewer goals than any other team, running the best power play, and ranking second in overall scoring and penalty-killing.
Laurent Gbagbo, the strongman clinging to the presidency of Ivory Coast, faced a reckoning as UN and French armies intervened in support of forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, recognized internationally as the winner of a 2010 election. Peacekeepers entered Ivorian borders and airspace after Gbagbo’s militia began targeting civilian Ouattara supporters. The capture of the capital, Abidjan, soon followed. Gbagbo, trapped within a small perimeter around a personal bunker, was said to be negotiating a surrender.
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 landed safely at an airport in Yuma, Ariz., after a panel tore open and depressurized the cabin at 36,000 feet. Southwest, whose short-hop business model, say experts, is hard on airframes, inspected its fleet for metal fatigue after the mercifully inexpensive warning. Meanwhile, underwater robot vehicles operating off Brazil’s coast found wreckage from Air France Flight 447, promising new clues to a mysterious 2009 crash that killed 228 people.
Fries with that recovery?
In a gesture of faith in the U.S. economy, fast-food giant McDonald’s will hire 50,000 American personnel in a single day (April 19), expanding its U.S. workforce to 700,000. (McDonald’s Canada will add 4,000 workers the same day.) Of the 8.7 million jobs lost in the U.S. during the recession, only 1.5 million have been regained since 2009. “McJobs” is a byword for tenuous, low-paying work, but McDonald’s U.S.A. observes that half of its franchise owners and 75 per cent of managers started behind the counter.
Violence wracked Afghanistan after Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who backed down on threats to burn the Quran last year, followed through and immolated the holy book after a webcasted mock trial. Protesters stormed a UN facility in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing three staff and four Nepalese Gurkha guards; at least 17 more people, mostly Afghan civilians, died in further riots. The White House denounced Jones’s action as “un-American,” as did U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, who says his forces now face “an additional serious security challenge.”
A referee’s regrets
South African judge Richard Goldstone, who led a UN investigation into the 2008-09 Israeli invasion of Gaza, added a postscript to his 2009 report criticizing Israel and Hamas for war crimes. In the Washington Post, Goldstone wrote that he had hoped his report would introduce “a new era of even-handedness” at the often anti-Zionist UN. But he found that only the Israeli side followed up the report and investigated its own conduct; Hamas, meanwhile, continued unlawful attacks on Israeli civilians.
A nurse in Dartmouth, N.S., was reprimanded for poor handwriting, sparking a national debate about hospital records. Wilfred Gordon’s illegible scrawls on charts had been a problem “for many years,” declared a disciplinary panel of the province’s College of Registered Nurses, but he “had not successfully addressed the issue.” Gordon was ordered to take a course in documentation and will face penmanship reviews by a manager.
It’s bad for your arteries, too
Another mess in Nova Scotia emerged when a sewer backup in a Bedford neighbourhood proved to have been caused, in part, by bacon grease. A Halifax Water investigation into flooded basements in the Ridgevale subdivision revealed that clogs of fat and oil, accumulating at levels “more often associated with commercially zoned areas,” played a role in damage to five homes. Local homeowners were sceptical, and a councillor noted that in at least one case, it was steamers used by sewer workers to melt the grease that sent sewage blasting upward into a Ridgevale domicile.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 1:50 PM - 1 Comment
Below the audio of the NDP rally inside the bingo hall of the Dartmouth Sportplex here in Nova Scotia this afternoon. Jack Layton was preceded to the platform by Robert Chisholm, the NDP candidate for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, and Pat Stogran, the former veterans ombudsman.
By Cathy Gulli - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 11:55 AM - 1 Comment
Nova Scotia’s Minister of Tourism condemned for self-promotion
There’s an amusing controversy brewing in Nova Scotia, where Minister of Tourism Percy Paris devised a creative way of promoting the province: by starring in a $1.4-million TV ad. During the one-minute spot, the NDP MLA says, “My Nova Scotia is all about wonderful people, warm welcomes and friendly smiles.”
But since the commercial first aired last week, opposition MLAs have criticized Paris for flagrant self-promotion. “This is about the politician, this is about the NDP,” said Chris d’Entremont, the Conservative house leader, in the Chronicle-Herald. “This is not about promoting Nova Scotia tourism.” And Tory MLA Allan MacMaster announced plans to introduce legislation banning politicians from appearing in government ads.
By macleans.ca - Monday, February 14, 2011 at 3:07 PM - 9 Comments
Nova Scotia premier laments the loss of public confidence
One sitting and three former Nova Scotia MLAs have been slapped with a slew of charges ranging from fraud to breach of trust to theft for filing fraudulent expense claims. Former MLAs Richard Hurlburt, Russell MacKinnon, David Wilson and sitting independent MLA Trevor Zink are scheduled to appear in court on April 20th. “Frankly, I’m not just disappointed, I’m angry about it because we all have to live with the consequences,” said premier Darrell Dexter. “It just becomes much more difficult to bring people into public life.” The premier refused to comment on the individual MLAs, or say whether he thinks Zinck should resign his seat.
By Cathy Gulli - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 2 Comments
Newsmakers Violet and Allen Large hit the jackpot and gave most of it away
One Sunday morning in mid-July, while tucked inside their 147-year-old white farmhouse in Lower Truro, N.S., Allen Large asked his wife, Violet, “Did you check the tickets from last night?”
This exchange had become a ritual for the couple, who’ve been together for 46 years, and have played the lottery—twice a week, every week—for about as long. Violet hadn’t, so she dialled into the Lotto 6/49 hotline and listened. After a few seconds, she said out loud, “Well, we got $10,” because the first three numbers matched. After a few more seconds, the rest of the numbers matched too.
So Violet, 78, did the only thing she could think of next: she hung up. And she called back. Again and again. “Oh, I checked those numbers so many times,” Violet says. Then she called Allen from out of the kitchen, and handed him the phone receiver. Allen, 75, listened, he looked at his wife, and nodded: “Yeah, that’s the right numbers.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
Nova Scotia: Wildlife officials seized a white-tailed deer allegedly kept as a pet on Big Tancook Island. It is illegal to own wildlife, enforcement officer Terry Beck stated. “It’s not Bambi, I can tell you that.” The deer was sedated, then moved by helicopter to the mainland. Wildlife officials are talking with prosecutors about possible charges.
Ontario: A man in Brampton has been charged with pretending to practise witchcraft at his home. Peel Regional Police claim that he’d promised to solve customers’ problems for money. It is illegal to say you can magically solve problems for money. The 44-year-old is also charged with fraud.
Manitoba: Three men were arrested after allegedly committing a string of offences that culminated with throwing a fence post from a moving Grand Am at a truck on a highway. Police quickly found the suspects’ car in a ditch. Officers also accuse the trio of burning a storage facility and damaging mailboxes. While all three have been charged with mischief under $5,000, two of the accused are allegedly connected to a fire of 50 hay bales near Morden in southern Manitoba.
Alberta: A reckless stunt involving a car in the Calgary suburb of McKenzie Lake ended with a 15-year-old in hospital with serious head injuries. The boy was perched on the trunk of a car doing less than 30 km/h when the vehicle “turned a corner and this young lad slipped off the back of the car thus hitting his head,” says Const. Jim Lebedeff. The 16-year-old behind the wheel is charged with careless driving.
British Columbia: Police in West Vancouver didn’t have to go far to make arrests recently when they nabbed two alleged thieves on a building site. The construction zone was beside police headquarters. According to Capt. Jag Johal, two men were pilfering copper fixtures on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The pair has also been charged with carrying weapons, including a baton.
By Josh Dehaas - Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 5:00 PM - 0 Comments
She had a passion for history, especially her own family’s, and recently decided to return to the simpler life she loved as a child
Launa May Mathias was born on May 10, 1944, in Middleton, N.S., to Florence “Flora” Roberts, a farm girl from Long Point, N.B., and John Mathias, a Welsh naval officer who was stationed in Halifax during the Second World War. John moved the family to Wales after the war, but promised to sail them home soon. He never did.
So, missing her family, Flora split from John, took two of their three children—Launa and Robert—and boarded a ship in 1950 that was headed to Halifax. (Their third child, Anne, stayed in Wales.) In Halifax, she met another naval officer, William Brade, and remarried. The family spent summers at their 1917 farmhouse in Long Point. There was no electricity or running water, but there were plenty of blueberries to pick and cousins to paddle with in their rowboat. Launa loved life on the farm.
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 5:00 PM - 0 Comments
A former army technician, he was devoted to his family and business. But at 71 he wanted to slow down, and do some fishing.
He grew up in Spryfield, a working-class suburb, where his family’s small home quickly filled with five younger siblings. Because their parents had a hands-off approach, the kids often came and went at all hours. “People were surprised by how much freedom we had,” says Wayne, Floyd’s younger brother. “We only had two rules. Don’t touch anything that don’t belong to you and don’t be around when something bad goes down.”
By Cameron Ainsworth-Vincze - Friday, June 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 5 Comments
Taste, the adventure
Southwest Nova Scotia
From the Fundy Shore and Annapolis Valley that overlook the Bay of Fundy, home of the world’s highest tides, to the Acadian shores and South Shore on the Atlantic Ocean, this historic region welcomed English and French explorers 400 years ago and is now famous for its lighthouses, winding coastal roads, lush rolling fields and quaint fishing villages. Another of its great attractions: some of the best seafood, including the world-famous Digby scallops, a pickled fish pâté called Solomon Gundy, and lobster—lots of lobster. After you’re done indulging, the area is a great destination for camping and cycling, as well as bird and whale watching.
Adventures in Taste
Looking for some adventure and want to thrill your taste buds? Then take a kayak trip to a secluded cove in the Bay of Fundy and stop to enjoy a giant feast, or head out on the Atlantic Ocean to watch humpback whales in scenic Mahone Bay in the morning before touring a winery in the afternoon. If you want less of an adventure but still crave an unforgettable culinary experience, Adventures in Taste offers tours to farmers’ markets, specialty food shops, wineries and breweries—including North America’s only single malt whisky distillery at the Glenora Distillery in Glenville, Cape Breton.
Canadian Navy Centennial Celebrations
To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Canada’s naval forces, activities are planned across the country this summer, and Halifax will be front and centre. Highlights in and around the city include International Fleet Review Week (June 28-July 2), a showcase of ships from around the world in Halifax Harbour that will be open to visitors, and the Naval Centennial Ball at the World Trade Convention Centre in early August. A navy-themed travelling road show will also feature musical performances and an exhibition of naval artifacts and art.
Cape Breton Island
It’s no surprise that Travel + Leisure ranked Cape Breton Island third in its world ranking of top islands last year, and the No. 1 island in North America. There’s the stunning Cabot Trail that winds around the Cape Breton Highlands down the Margaree River and along Bras d’Or Lake, Lobsterpalooza (May 15-July 1), Hike the Highlands Festival (Sept. 10-19), and the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique, where visitors can take part in fiddle lessons and traditional ceilidh sessions that feature folk music and dancing.
SummerFest (June 30-July 4)
The Island’s newest festival has something for every member of the family. For the younger kids, there’s a petting zoo, performances by the Doodlebops (a pre-school musical favourite), and a Swash Buckler Pirate Zone that features a haunted house. For teens, there’s the the Fringe Urban Zone with daily skateboard and BMX competitions. There’s a three-on-three hockey tournament on a synthetic ice surface, as well as the West Coast Lumberjack Show complete with log rolling. Plus a unique Cirque du Soleil performance that can only be seen in Charlottetown. In fact, Cirque signed a three-year contract this year to play at SummerFest. If you can’t make it to the show, you can catch Cirque du Soleil performers on Great George Street for free.
To see what Linden MacIntyre picks as his favourite spots, go to Where famous Canucks go to play
For more information on events and travel in Nova Scotia, see www.novascotia.com
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Nearly half of Halifax retailers sold smokes to 17-year-olds
Nova Scotia is the place to be if you’re 17 and want smokes. According to a recent study by the Canadian Cancer Society, a third of retailers in Nova Scotia are willing to sell cigarettes to 17-year-olds, by far the worst record of any province (Alberta was the second biggest offender).
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 11:00 AM - 3 Comments
Ignatieff doesn’t support a per-student funding model
Nova Scotia’s universities want more federal cash. The province is a net importer of university students—students from the rest of the country who go there to attend schools outnumber Nova Scotians who leave to study elsewhere. The student populations at two Nova Scotia universities, St. Francis Xavier and Acadia, are made up of 40 per cent or more out-of-province students, and more than half of the student body at Dalhousie University comes from outside Nova Scotia. “The amount of funding that the province of Nova Scotia receives from the feds is less than what we require to adequately fund the students that are here,” says Ken Burt, vice-president of finance at Halifax’s Dalhousie.
Canadian universities receive federal transfer funding on a per capita basis, which doesn’t factor in how many students from other provinces are studying there. Instead, those students are counted in their own province’s census, so federal money that should account for them actually goes to their home province. For years, academics and politicians from Nova Scotia have been calling for a per-student model of funding instead, but it’s a difficult fight.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 15, 2010 at 2:40 PM - 32 Comments
Reviews of Michael Ignatieff’s university tour are in from the Winnipeg Free Press, Concordia Journal, McGill Daily, Varsity, Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star, National Post, Montreal Gazette, Metro Halifax, Halifax Chronicle-Herald and Maclean’s OnCampus. Susan Delacourt reported from stops at Nova Scotia Community College and Dalhousie. At least one attendee so far has come away quite unpersuaded.
While Liberals were pleased with the event, one attendee was unimpressed. Burlington Conservative MP Mike Wallace came for the last 30 minutes and dismissed Ignatieff’s answers to students’ questions, saying he could say anything he wants because he does not have the responsibility of being prime minister.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 11, 2010 at 2:58 PM - 88 Comments
Speaking to reporters in Dartmouth, Michael Ignatieff promises something that is not quite a solution of any sort.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff won’t rule out proroguing Parliament if he were prime minister, but says he wouldn’t use it as a way out when the going gets tough. “Prorogation is part of our constitutional system, but to use it every time you’re in a tight spot seems to me a flagrant abuse of a constitutional power,” Mr. Ignatieff said this morning after speaking with Nova Scotia Community College students in Dartmouth.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 2:30 PM - 0 Comments
No longer will underwear aficionados have to gaze longingly south of the
No longer will underwear aficionados have to gaze longingly south of the border: Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie chain synonymous with romance, glamour and Heidi Klum, is set to launch its first Canadian stores in the new year. For those who can’t wait, little sister store Victoria’s Secret Pink, aimed at university-age girls, opened a few Canadian outlets this year.
The most in-demand accessory in Hollywood isn’t a handbag or pair of heels—it’s a tiny pig. Micro pigs start out as big as a teacup, and grow to be about the size of a spaniel; they’re clean and sweet-natured, and they love to be around people. David and Victoria Beckham have scooped up two, reportedly at a cost of over $1,200 each; Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint has one, too.
Chinese curling team
Who’ll win curling gold at Vancouver in 2010? China, which just began its curling program in 2000, could be a real contender. In March, the Chinese team defeated Sweden, Olympic champions in 2006, to win the Women’s Curling Championship, making history. Observers are calling the People’s Republic the new curling superpower.
Lottie the Otter
Eighty years after A. A. Milne’s beloved books were published, Winnie the Pooh has a new friend: Lottie the Otter, who appears in the first authorized Pooh sequel, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. Author David Benedictus describes Lottie as an outspoken otter who’s a stickler for etiquette. Illustrated by Mark Burgess, who brought Paddington Bear to life, she’s a graceful and rare female addition to Pooh’s crew.
Joaquin ‘Shorty’ Guzman
This year saw an unusual addition to Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s wealthiest people. Alongside Bill Gates and Warren Buffett was Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, a Mexican drug lord. With an estimated net worth of US$1 billion, Guzman heads the Sinaloa cartel, one of the biggest suppliers of cocaine to the U.S. Mexican officials quickly slammed his inclusion as “deplorable.”
Nova Scotia’s first NDP government
June’s vote saw the province get its first-ever NDP government after a decade of Progressive Conservative rule. The NDP trounced the Tories, who were reduced to third-party status. Even Leader Darrell Dexter seemed surprised: “Who would believe that NDP orange would cover Nova Scotia?” he said after the win.
Move over, Lucy: a hominid even more primitive than the famous 3.2-million-year-old fossil is now our earliest known ancestor. Ardi, short for Ardipithecus ramidus, is 4.4 million years old; an adult female, she likely stood about four feet tall and weighed 120 lb. With a brain the size of a chimp’s, Ardi could climb trees, yet walked upright on two legs.
Al Franken was once better known for his turn as self-help guru Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live. This year, he left the limelight to become Minnesota’s new Democratic senator. Declared the winner after a lengthy recount and legal battle against his Republican rival, Franken marked his arrival in Washington with a sober declaration: “I’m ready to get to work, thank you.”
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
In Canada, roughly half the native population is under 25. Atleo, a hereditary chief of Vancouver Island’s Ahousaht First Nation, was a fitting choice to represent them: elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in July, he was the youngest candidate at age 42 (and the only one whose campaign had a Twitter account). Atleo is not known to shy from a challenge; in his new role he promises he’ll be “kicking down doors.”
Canadians’ ambivalence to the royals was on show during the duchess of Cornwall’s first official visit, which was marked by inevitable comparisons to Diana’s. Still, Camilla has Canadian roots: one of her ancestors was premier of Canada West. On a stop at Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle, built for her great-great-great grandfather, she and Prince Charles received one of the largest turnouts of their trip, and were greeted with cries of, “We want the duchess!” Camilla, in a fur-lined cape, replied, “Oh, lovely.”
Most of Hollywood’s leading ladies are rail thin, but Gabourey Sidibe, who stars in the film Precious, is just the opposite, reportedly weighing more than 300 lb. But that might be the least remarkable thing about her: Sidibe has received massive praise for her brave performance as a sexual-abuse victim, a poor, illiterate teenager who’s impregnated by her own father. She’ll next star in Yelling to the Sky opposite Don Cheadle.
Seal meat as political rite
On a trip to the Arctic, Governor General Michaëlle Jean sampled the heart of a freshly slaughtered seal, making headlines around the world. Now, everybody’s doing it: in Iqaluit a few months later, Stephen Harper dined on seal meat, offering a public rebuke to Europe’s ban on Canadian sealing products. Cabinet ministers followed suit, and it has been added to the menu at Parliament Hill’s exclusive restaurant, alongside more routine fare like beef tenderloin and salmon.
In January, Suleman, a single mom with six children, gave birth to octuplets, the second set in U.S. history. The story quickly progressed from heartwarming tale to ethical quagmire: the American Society of Reproductive Medicine ejected her fertility doctor after revelations he transferred at least six embryos to the 33-year-old (guidelines would have recommended one or two). Suleman was soon a tabloid freak: reports suggested the so-called “Octomom” would appear alongside fellow reality train-wreck Jon Gosselin on a new show, though the dad of eight denied it.
Sri Lankan Tamil ship
After a decades-long insurgency, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, viewed by Canada as a terrorist organization, were defeated in that country this year. In the crackdown that followed, some ethnic Tamils fled, including 76 who travelled to B.C. aboard a run-down cargo ship. Seeking refugee status, most were kept in custody in a Vancouver-area detention centre as officials attempted to weed out any terrorists. Still, family members were reportedly relieved: “He’s in Canada, so he’s safe,” one said of his brother.
A goatherd-turned-guerrilla leader, Jacob Zuma seemed an unlikely candidate for South Africa’s top office: the leader of the African National Congress was ridiculed in some quarters for his lack of education, for breaking into song and dance while out campaigning and for his three wives. Largely thanks to his grassroots appeal, he was sworn in as president in May. Arriving at his lavish inauguration, where he knelt at the feet of Nelson Mandela, Zuma had just one wife in tow, which must have meant a bit of a song and dance back home.
Following last year’s Mamma Mia!, in which she appeared alongside Meryl Streep, the 23-year-old rising star has shown off her remarkable range with two vastly different roles. In the dark comedy Jennifer’s Body (scripted by Oscar-winner Diablo Cody), Seyfried plays a nerdy bookworm. And in Atom Egoyan’s erotic drama Chloe, set in Toronto, she claimed the title role: a prostitute hired by a woman (Julianne Moore) to seduce her own husband (Liam Neeson). For those who prefer her lighter fare, Mamma Mia 2 is on its way.
The high school musical comedy Glee is the hottest thing on TV, thanks in part to Cory Monteith, a Calgary native, who charms as Finn Hudson, a dreamy football jock who can sing. He appears alongside the rest of the gang at McKinley High, including the fabulously evil cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, played with gusto by Jane Lynch. Once the refuge of lonely nerds, glee clubs, thanks to Monteith and his crew, are finally cool.
By Michael Friscolanti - Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 9:45 AM - 79 Comments
It is hard to believe, but not every Catholic priest is a pedophile
Even to the eyes of a seasoned child pornography investigator, the photographs are horrific. One image depicts a young boy, no older than 12, standing on a wooden deck, a pair of white underwear pulled down around his knees. In the next shot, a different naked boy is sitting in an office chair, with two holy rosaries—one white, one black—dangling from his skinny neck. It’s impossible to know for sure, but detectives believe the anonymous boy could be as young as nine years old.
In yet another photo—one of 964 discovered on Bishop Raymond Lahey’s laptop—a male teenager is posing in front of a bookcase. “He is blond and looks hurt as there are red welts and marks on his stomach and chest area,” according to a police statement filed in court. “He looks sad in this image.”
Sadness does not even begin to describe such a betrayal. In August, the same Bishop Lahey proudly announced a historic, out-of-court settlement worth millions of dollars for victims who were sexually assaulted by Catholic priests in his diocese of Antigonish, N.S. Then, just weeks after the press release, he was flagged by border guards following a flight from England to Ottawa, and—after a peak inside his Toshiba—charged with possessing and importing child pornography. Continue…
By Susan Mohammad - Monday, November 16, 2009 at 5:00 PM - 2 Comments
Eagles soar. Dogs skijor?
IN THE DEAD OF WINTER MUSIC FESTIVAL/HALIFAX (Jan. 26 to 30)
The East Coast, and Halifax in particular, is known for a vibrant independent music scene. Since 2006, the IDOW festival, organized by a group of local musicians, has featured artists from Canada and the U.S. performing a series of acoustic sets at venues throughout the city. Past festival performers include Matt Mays, Joel Plaskett and Buck 65.
SHEFFIELD MILLS EAGLE WATCH/SHEFFIELD MILLS (the last two weekends in January)
Every year, bald eagles make this Annapolis Valley community a favourite winter retreat between late November and early March. The best viewing opportunities are said to be mid-morning. On the weekends of Jan. 23 and 30, a naturalist is on hand to answer questions, and there’s a related art exhibit at the community centre. Guests can also partake in a pancake and sausage breakfast.
NOVA SCOTIA WINTER ICEWINE FESTIVAL/ANNAPOLIS VALLEY (Feb. 4 to 14)
Icewine isn’t the first thing to come to mind when planning an East Coast getaway, but the Nova Scotia Icewine Festival is proof that there are plenty of award-winning vintners in the region. The 10-day event, hosted by the Winery Association of Nova Scotia, will be the third annual celebration and features vineyard tours, wine tastings, gourmet dinners and cooking classes.
KEJIMKUJIK NATIONAL PARK AND NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE/ANNAPOLIS COUNTY
Covering 400 sq. km of inland lakes and forests, Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site is a ruggedly beautiful all-season woodland with over 50 km of groomed trails for backcountry skiing and a perfect site for winter camping. The park is home to centuries of Mi’kmaq history, and boasts one of the largest collections of rock carvings in North America. Kejimkujik is said to mean “tired muscles,” which is exactly what to expect after strapping on snowshoes and traversing the natural trails that snake through the park. But the natural beauty of the place makes it all worthwhile.
SKIJORING/BADDECK (November to March)
In what has to rank as one of the stranger sports, skijoring involves wearing a pair of cross-country skis and becoming attached, by a bungee cord, to the harness of an Eskimo dog (another variation of the sport includes a horse). This wild winter ride is best suited for the experienced cross-country skier. For something a little more traditional, climb aboard a dogsled that’s hitched to a team of Eskimo dogs and hurtle through a winter wonderland.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.novascotia.com
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 12:53 PM - 31 Comments
The experts react to the Chronicle-Herald’s analysis of stimulus spending in Tory ridings.
A pattern of heavy spending in Conservative ridings uncovered in a Chronicle Herald analysis of federal stimulus spending is just business as usual, part of a long bipartisan pattern of using tax dollars for political gain, say political observers…
“Old style politics is all about bringing home the bacon,” said Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. ”All they’ve done is paint the pig a different colour.”
Nothing new here, said Charles Cirtwill, of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. ”The Liberals did this for years and the Conservatives sat outside and pointed fingers and raged and pulled their hair,” he said. “And now the Liberals are doing the same thing. The only folks who are really consistent are the NDP, and that’s primarily because at the federal level they’ve never had a chance to pass out the dough.”
By Andrew Coyne - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 2:17 PM - 36 Comments
Nova Scotia’s new NDP government plays the oldest card in the political deck. Next steps:
1. Announce that you cannot be held to your campaign promises, which were to balance the budget without raising taxes or cutting spending, as the situation has changed utterly.
2. Announce that you are amending provincial legislation mandating balanced budgets, though you forced an election over the previous government’s attempts to wriggle out of it.
3. Raise taxes.
4. Modify growth in spending slightly, announce that it has been “cut”.
5. Run big deficits.
6. Hope economy recovers.
7. As next election approaches, a) raise spending, but b) fudge deficit numbers to show budget balancing, just (at the top of the business cycle). Opposition parties will collude with you in (b) while denouncing (a) as not nearly sufficient.
8. Opposition elected on “fiscal reponsibility” platform.
9. Repeat steps 1 through 8.