Halifax, Nova Scotia, politics


First, they make the decision to flood the under-capacity convention market with more space to be more under-capacity in downtown Halifax.

Then they decide it’s in the public interest to commit taxpayer money without showing the taxpayers who are funding this the business plan that says it’s a smart thing to do. They do this despite complaints from other downtown hotel owners and those considering the construction of new hotels in the area that they are effectively funding the construction of competition. (Could there be a legal avenue here?)

Then they try to force together a deal that leaves the city holding the bag for money lost in the old convention centre, as well as the tax revenue on a high-priced property in the city core.

And now they suggest to the federal government that their “contribution” to this white elephant could come from infrastructure money normally used for roads and bridges – you know, stuff we use on  a regular basis. Though in fairness, as a runner and eight months of the year cycle commuter here in metro, you don’t know how many times I’ve traveled along Windmill Rd. on the way to work saying “man, this road is fucking perfect!” Obviously the roads don’t need the cash.  And it will be obvious when the bridge commission raises their rates again later this year that they don’t need it. And it’s very obvious from the 2011 tax assessment on my home that the city doesn’t need it.

What about the school boards that are looking at cuts in the neighbourhood of 20%? Bloodykids – let ’em learn like the business leaders did – private schools funded by their rich parents the school of hard knocks.  Education is a privilege we evidently can’t afford, but hotels and empty conference rooms – whoah, baby! I gotta get me some of this action!


Could Darrell Dexter have bought that old chestnut that socialism is for kids who don’t know any better and that real governance means making the “hard decisions” that hurt the average man in favour of business? Could it be that he feels he’s not really at the adult table until he’s carrying water for them?

Could it be that as of today I am no longer a member of the Nova Scotia NDP? Yes, why I think it could.

I once thought that I too would outgrow my commitment to social democracy, that at some stage I would turn all conservative. I think I assumed there was something genetic in that saying attributed to Churchill that “all men with hearts are communists at twenty and all men with brains are conservative at thirty”.  But you know what? It didn’t happen to  me.  It didn’t happen because reality is on the side of the left; that selling out to corporate interests is a series of denials and delusions that there is something more natural about a “free” market, that it’s “God’s way”.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the falsehoods in Ayn Rand.

Darrell has apparently decided that in order to be take seriously, to be seen as a “real” premier of Nova Scotia he has to throw money hand over fist toward failed business ventures that will benefit no one but the immediate owners and those directly involved in the construction of bone-white elephants. Put that way, in light of this province’s history of electing idiot after fool after criminal, he’s likely right.

But sadly he’s not right in any way that I want to be part of. I’ll figure out who I’ll vote for next time at some point, but from this point forward, I’m no longer a member of the NDP.

journalism, Sun TV

Can it be a coincidence?

That the CRTC wants to narrow the ban on misleading or false news broadcasting just as Faux News North Sun TV is about to bit the airwaves?

Halifax, long-track skating oval

And now, the inevitable reaction

In an effort to demonstrate how Halifax is determined to dead-end itself at every turn, the petition to tear down the long-track skating oval is up. No, I won’t point to it, because I’m sick and bloody tired of the regressive anti-development fringe in this city that won’t allow for progress on any front.

The turd in the oval punchbowl, Katie Campbell, reveals here that she is basically against people having fun, arguing that it’s not really free skating because the city has to pay for it (well, duh!), and that it should be moved off of the Commons. Her motives are revealed when you consider that moving it off to a non-central location would cost money, which evidently she’s against, while getting used less by the public. I think the latter is her real goal.

I just wonder how much *she* actually uses the Commons, anyway? Since it has essentially become a recreational area for local residents, why not open the space up for those who don’t play softball? This is an opportunity to extend the use of the existing facilities. Did she protest when the skate park went up? When the children’s playground was put in place? When the tennis courts or basketball courts were built? These are all paid for by the city, after all, it must have busted her gut to see all that “waste”.

Her petition is evidently getting a “hostile response” which she finds “upsetting”. When she googles her own name, and you just know she does, she might just stop by this joint and find a similar frosty response.



On logic

Ezra Levant is possibly correct when he claims that Canadian-produced oil is more ethical than oil produced from oppressive dictatorships, anthropomorphism of fuel aside. I fail to understand, however, why the relative ethicalness of an oil source should exempt said source from environmental and/or health and safety oversight, nor criticism about said oversight.

Disclosure: I have not read Ezra’s book, so it’s possible I’ve drawn an erroneous conclusion about it’s premise and logical weakness.


Is David Frum the 40 Year Old Virgin?

The game I’m playing is called baseless speculation. Ain’t it fun?

(I provide a quote below so you don’t have to click the link to Frum’s site:)

Jared Lee Loughner, the man held as the Tucson shooter, has been described by those who know as a “pot smoking loner.”

We are also learning that Loughner exhibited signs of severe mental illness, very likely schizophrenia.

The connection between marijuana and schizophrenia is both controversial and complicated. The raw association is strong:

Schizophrenics are twice as likely to smoke marijuana as non-schizophrenics.
People who smoke marijuana are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those who do not smoke.
But is correlation causation?

Increasingly experts seem to be saying: “Yes.”

PS – he has been rightfully excoriated in the comments on his blog. Which, I suspect, provides him nourishment, much like one of those creatures that feed on pure emotion on Star Trek (again – the game here is called baseless speculation).

health care, physical education

A truly North American solution

In an effort to, I dunno, I think make Canadians appear less sedentary, the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada lower the recommended level of physical activity for Canadians. Epic logic, truly, which will in a year or two be followed up surely with rulings on the value of getting up to turn the channel vs. remote control usage as a means of aerobic exercise.

Yes, some exercise is better than none, but surely the answer is not lowering health standards so people don’t feel too badly to try. For crying out loud, if your life is truly too busy to get an hour of light exertion a day, then you have messed up priorities. Skip a few bus-stops, walk to the grocery store or coffee shop, whatever. It doesn’t take much.

And this is coming from an employed father of two young kids who manages to get out to run four or five times a week, so I know something about scheduling issues.


Halifax, long-track skating oval, physical education

The Halifax Skating Oval

Having been out three times in the past six days skating on the long-track oval on the Halifax Commons, I feel I should weigh in with my support for those trying to make the skating oval a semi-permanent feature of the Commons.

Anyone walking by the Commons over the past ten days or so will surely have seen the hundreds (thousands?) of people, young and old, skating, talking, laughing on or walking to or from the Commons with skates slung over their shoulder. Not only has the oval made this most Canadian of things possible, it has created a focus for community spirit and fun that I haven’t seen in some time in our lovely coast town.

The oval has attracted skaters of every level to come out and have fun together. I’ve seen some pretty talented figure skaters spinning off to the side, speed skaters with their pointy-blades warming up, and obvious first-timers, old and young alike, wearing rented skates and supported by friends, relatives, or those little red trainers that are conveniently stacked by the entrances for smaller rookies. It has been a while since I’ve seen that many people out just having fun.

As a bit of a fitness buff, I am in support of any event, sport, or facility that gets Canadians off the couch and moving about. I haven’t the time to go into all of the economic and cost benefits of having a healthy population, but suffice it to say, I believe that building free, publicly-accessible fitness facilities is a good long-term economic policy that will pay for itself in the near-term. There is certainly more to be done – bicycle lanes, running paths, etc., but this is an excellent start.

For those that were around here during the debate on whether or not Halifax, the province, and the feds should pony up two billion taxpayer dollars to host the Commonwealth Games, this is exactly the kind of spin-off facility that we were promised at a fraction of the cost.

Maintaining the oval is more than just laying the chillers out and paying for the electricity and water, however. Quite a lot of work was done through the fall to prepare the north end of the Common. As anyone who has played ball here or attended one of the open-air concerts will attest to, there is a drainage issue at this end of the Common, so grading was necessary. With all the work done to improve the ground immediately under the oval, the question becomes what to do with it in the summer when no skating is possible (the chillers can only maintain ice up to 10C).

Up to now, most of the Commons is used for baseball and softball in the summertime, and to be perfectly honest I don’t really know if these fields are used to capacity or if they are over-booked. Making the oval a permanent feature might mean the loss of at least one and possible two ball fields in the summer months. Ballplayers and Commons traditionalists (who argue that any change is in and of itself an evil) and money-losing concert promoters will recoil at the loss of space, but what about putting in a rubberized outdoor track? There are only a handful of decent tracks in the city – SMU, Beazley, etc., so I’m sure that such a thing would be well used. There are running clubs that gather at a couple of sport shops within a kilometre or two of the Commons that I know would head there to run intervals and sprints. This would be great for their business in the summertime (the running clubs are free, but the shoes ain’t) and for skate sellers and sharpeners in the winter.

The plans right now are to distribute the chillers to communities around the province. I think this a good idea, but I’d like to see the city opt to buy some new chillers and leave the oval in place on the Common. Individual chiller units will be fine for smaller facilities, but what makes this surface special is its size and central location. It’s big enough to serve multiple purposes for competition, training, and recreation, and it makes the Common an area to visit in the winter. This is a great thing for city spirit and great for local businesses. Yes, it will cost some tax-payer dollars, but at least we get to have fun with the result, and doesn’t that mean anything?

For those that feel as I do about the oval, there is a petition that you can sign to let the city council know that we are here. Go here and sign up – with any luck we can keep this thing going.


Edit: Just noticed Tim Bousquet’s article at TheCoast on the same topic. It looks like the costs are actually lower than originally budgeted and popularity much higher. It’s a win-win.