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December 2018 - Found Shoelaces in Truro

Last month I started this column with a plea for someone to let me know where I could find shoelaces in Truro. I had been searching for ages, but without any luck.

Not long after the November issue was published, I received a call answering my plea. I was informed Shopper’s Drug Mart, Robie Street carried shoelaces in a special end aisle display across from the Canada Post outline in the back corner.

Luckily, I was able to get what I wanted. It wasn’t a large display, but it served my needs. It was in a Kiwi Collection display and included a limited selection of shoe polish. They even had leather laces for work boots. THANKS FOR THE CALL.

It’s inconceivable the weather we are having. Last fall, if memory serves me correctly, we had a few cold days then November and December was rather temperate. Not this Fall. October was wetter than normal and before the additional rain drained away, a frigid spell hit. In some places there are ponds big enough to skate on. No wonder with the wind chill temperatures has been hovering in the minus mid-20’s.

You might ask how can I verify it is unusually cold? Since 2000, when I purchased a 2,400 sq ft building, which contains a retail store front and two apartments. It also has a washer and dryer. Never in 18 years has the washer been frozen, even though the area where it is located is unheated.

However, the cold has penetrated, thanks to high winds, enough to cause a hose within the washer was slightly freeze. Fifteen minutes with a portable 110v household heater solved the problem. Yes, I can be thankful for the past 18 years, but it worries me what lies ahead.

Is this abnormal, or will climate change make this a regular occurrence?

Now that I am half way through this month’s column, perhaps I should start on a rant. I’m not sure which one to elaborate on: the fact OpenHydro has applied for over $17-Million in tax credits, when several marine companies and others owed in excess of $6-Million for services performed. My other option is to rant about the provincial procurement fiasco concerning the Electronic Health Records (EHR).

I think I’ll leave OpenHydro alone as I’ve already written two stories about it and they are located elsewhere in this issue.

Now back to the $500-Milion program being pursued by the Provincial Government. In his Chronicle-Herald column on Saturday, Nov 17th Ralph Surette advised "Desert Ship, don’t sink money into electronic health records" as the technology is not fully developed and the costs are not firmly fixed. Could it be similar to the federal government’s Phoenix pay system, which has not worked properly since it was implemented? We all know federal employees, who have been overpaid, underpaid, or not paid at all.

With me, the EHR program got off to an ill-fated start, when one of the submissions was disqualified for late arrival. The courier delivered the package to the appropriate department. Several calls to the appropriate office went unanswered.

Ironically, the two companies, Allscripts and Cerner, whose submissions were accepted are reported to have relationships with senior staff including making presentations and enjoying dinner together. The one company, Epic, whose proposal did not get to the correct office on-time was just selected as "The top company" in their field in a global survey. A story in the Chronicle-Herald in November stated, "One of the companies snubbed by Nova Scotia in an electronic health record contract bid has been ranked the highest in the world for customer satisfaction. Nearly 90 per cent of users reported "high rates of satisfaction" with Epic Systems’ services, according to the industry magazine EHR Intelligence, citing an analysis by Global EMR Performance".

Epic’s RFSQ submission was couriered to the building where Nova Scotia procurement is located a couple of days before the Feb. 17 deadline, but the courier took Epic’s package to the wrong office.

Epic was unaware of the mishandled delivery. The courier had confirmed the package was signed for upon delivery. When people in the office where Epic’s package was mistakenly delivered realized the error, they tried to contact procurement. The ladies called (procurement) multiple times and left voice messages. Finally, those same people physically delivered Epic’s package to procurement. But by then it was past the deadline.

I have several concerns about the various fiascos surrounding the EHR initiative. The initial late October story in Chronicle Herald makes assertions of potential bias, favoritism and definitely a lack of transparency.

Over and above the potential inappropriate actions by senior staff, the entire thing has a strong aroma of being "totally incompetent" with possible fraudulent activity. My main outrage is if government departments cannot move an envelope to the correct office, within the same building in two days, how can they expect the electorate to have confidence they are capable of implementing a $500-Million Electronic Health Records program.

Who is interested enough to contact me with your views? Should legal action be taken to protect our hard earned tax dollars? - Maurice


November 2018 - The Hardest job in Canada

(Before I get onto the main subject matter, I need some assistance. I prefer to shop downtown. Where in Downtown Truro can I find regular shoelaces? Found one store on the Esplanade which had sneakers laces, not appropriate and about 40 inches long. Of all the things available, hard to imagine, not easily found. Can someone let me know?)

If you analyze election results over the past few years, the hardest job in Canada is being an elected official, who wishes to get re-elected. Yes, I mean the elected at any level of government.

The electorate is irate and willing to try anything or anyone other than those who are there. Voters normally don’t elect a favourite, their intent is to turf out the ones who don’t listen.

Look at Alberta. Who in their wildest imagination would have believed after four decades of Conservative rule voters would elect an NDP government?

Internationally, we saw signs of upheaval, which came to the forefront, when UK voted to leave the European Economic Union. Earlier Nova Scotians flirted with the NDP giving them a four year term, but decided it wasn’t to their liking.

New Brunswick voters decided traditional ways had to go and they would usher in and be more content with a period of turmoil and uncertainty. With 49 MLA’s a majority required 25 seats. When the ballots were counted the Liberals attracted the most votes, but only 21 seats. The Conservatives finished with 22 seats, while the Green and the upstart People’s Alliance each got three. Do the math. To have a majority in the house, the best the Conservatives or Liberals could hope to gain is 26 or 25 seats, if they formed an alliance with members of the Green Party or People’s Alliance. The House has been recalled, but there is speculation NB may have another election in spring 2019.

The October 1 Quebec election ousted the ruling Liberals, and devastated the PQ. The upstart CAQ obtained an decisive majority of 74 seats in the 135 seat Legislature. It’s uncertain what may happen south of the border on November 6th. Trump may lose control of Congress, and remotely possible the Senate may fall to the Democrats. Other speculators maintain he will keep Congress and increase his majority in the Senate by one or two seats.

This suggests, globally and in Nova Scotia the political landscape is as unstable as swimming in quicksand. In the last provincial election the Liberals squeaked through, not because they were better, but because the opposition was extremely weak.

As the spread between extremely rich, the 1%ers, and those at the bottom of the economic scale has intensified, it has become socially acceptable for voters to be unpredictable how they will achieve their wants.

Let’s take a look at our "disposable" society. You can buy a printer for your computer for less than $40. When it runs out of ink, it’s more economical to throw away than to buy replacement cartridges. Are we feeling the same way about politicians? Is it true if they don’t appeal to us, turf them out and get someone else even if unproven?

To refocus us, I suggest Premier McNeil should appoint a "Council of Previous Provincial Premiers" to hold town hall meetings throughout the province to listen to voters. It could be achieved in six months. The report should be made public. Workshops must be mandatory for the elected and potential candidates at all three levels.

Locally, if we want to understand why voters are irate, look at the reaction to the proposed Kennel By-law. There are many lessons to be learned from that initiative. In the heat of the moment some kennel operators and dog lovers suggested seeking candidates to run in all Colchester districts in the next municipal election.

I am not casting my vote either way, but from my observation point, all elected representatives must learn to consult and listen. Town Hall meetings would be a start. Those intent on re-election or running must vow to restoring sanity and calmness to politics their priority, regardless if the federal, provincial or municipal level. - Maurice




October 2018 - We can do more!

This month there are several important events which bear mentioning.

Fire Prevention Week will be celebrated October 8-13. Unfortunately, we really only highlight the dedication and care of community of hundreds of volunteers once a year. If we were doing what we should be doing, from the sidelines, we should be praising the time they invest into our community on a weekly or daily basis.

Fighting fires is not the only responsibility of these precious volunteers. They are first responders. In many cases well over 85% of the time they leave work, or their family it’s an accident or medical call. Being the first on the scene they see some of the most tragic sights any human should experience.

It’s far different than a nurse or medical doctor in emergency. Even though hard on the mind, these people trained for it and are well paid in their profession.

What is different is the first responders are VOLUNTEERS. It could be the neighbour next door, or family member. We need to sing our praises for them because they rush to help us, whether it’s a house fire, accident, or medical emergency.

We might not wish to be climbing ladders, entering burning buildings, or becoming physical by rolling up dirty hoses, when the brigade comes back to the hall from a recent call. There is a lot we can do to show our appreciation, and lighten their workload.

Did you ever think about joining them at the hall to wash and clean the trucks or equipment; show up at the hall with a pot of coffee and sweets. In the spring of the year when fighting grass fires, would you take a tray or box of sandwiches?

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work which is needed to have a smooth running unit. This could include being part of the auxiliary, undertaking many of the fund raising projects needed just to keep members in the proper gear, etc.

Don’t just pat them on the back and say "well done". Grab their hand, shake it and seriously ask, "What can I do to help. Find a job for me. My family wants to help".

Immediately following Fire Prevention Week comes October 17th.

That’s the date Cannabis become legal in Canada. We are the first country to take the big step. The lead-up-to-it has been an agonizing time. Many against, and hordes of people who could hardly wait for the day to arrive.

I’m not going to speak in favour or against. I’m not a user, so it makes no difference to me. However, I will provide some observations and predictions.

  • The choice of NSLC being the administrator is fine. We needed an organization to run the weed operation. Why create another crown corporation?
  • I question the advisability of co-locating Cannabis retail location with 11 chosen stores to serve the province. Eleven is not enough locations.
  • To those who think the "black market" will disappear, or shrink, give your head a shake.
  • There are probably more growers or dealers in the immediate Truro area than the 11 chosen provincial retail sites.
  • Sure many of the older closet users will be happy it’s not illegal, and they can go on a shopping trip.
  • I don’t know where the information came from but some pundits are predicting, in the beginning, it may take up to 45 minutes to purchase weed legally.
  • I question if experienced users will be as comfortable in the NSLC store, or will they prefer to go back to their local grower/supplier.
  • The two entities will rush to maintain market share, and price will be a factor.
  • Will expectations be met?

Time will tell how successful Canada’s will be, as it enters the Cannabis sector. Let’s discuss the outcomes in two years. Have a good month. See you in November. - Maurice.




September 2018 - Turmoil – the Rising Tide

I can’t think of anyplace which is not suffering from turmoil. It has been a roller coaster month.

South of the border, it’s been a daily diet of revelations concerning numerous investigations of President Donald Trump by Mueller and legal entities in New York. Then massive wild fires in California, not to forget nearly 600 wild fires raging throughout British Columbia.

British Columbia needed help. Over 20 firefighters from Nova Scotia have gone west. This past weekend haze from BC arrived in Nova Scotia, causing the sun and moon to turn bright orange, and a strong smell of smoke in the air. I was amazed how strong the aroma has been in Maitland, especially in the evening.

The Conservative policy convention in Halifax, which attracted 3,000+ delegates got blindsided by Maxine Bernier, he quit the party and is starting his own. Bernier is not expected to gain many followers east of Quebec. Out west, especially in Alberta, there are many who feel much the same as Bernier on similar topics.

Not that they might follow Bernier, but if his activity gives them inspiration, there could be some discord which could splinter the Conservative movement in ways similar to what evolved with the Alliance, then Reform, then united with the Progressive Conservatives, under Peter MacKay, to form today’s Conservative Party.

Some Conservatives suggest, while he was Prime Minister Stephen Harper may have spent upwards of half his time and energy keeping the vocal splinter groups in check and focused on re-election. The same party members have yet to determine if Andrew Scheer has the same strength and capability.

One strong party member feels, if the election were held now, the best the Conservatives could hope to do is have four MP’s, in Atlantic Canada.

The thirteen or fourteen months to the scheduled federal election in fall 2019 is a lifetime in politics. There’s plenty of time for moods to change, or someone to make a costly mistake that follows them or the party to election day. Even though there is a somewhat established date for the election, legally there is nothing to stop dropping the writ earlier, if surveying reveals a weakening of the opposition.

At the provincial and municipal level the next election will be in 2020. With a volatile electorate and populist movements gaining momentum those who will be running again, or those wishing to run, there are warning signs.

Various levels of government have expressed concern about low-turnout on election day and not enough people are exercising their right to vote. Looking ahead to 2020 and what will happen in Nova Scotia, there might be much more engagement than recent past.

Nova Scotians are becoming much more vocal, whether it be clean up of Boat Harbour and events around the Abercrombie Pulp Mill; fishers becoming vocal and expressing concern about protection of the environment or activity related to tidal power in the Bay of Fundy. There is increased community engagement over healthcare; concerns about hospitals and of course the never ending vocal activity over education.

At the municipal level, people in Lunenburg are gaining traction on clean up of the harbour; in Bridgewater there is concern about the LaHave River. Province-wide there is concern about climate change and how our forests are being handled. These two topics are not the responsibility of municipalities, but they do become involved when their areas are affected from rising sea levels, or flash flooding in the rivers, which many claim is result of clear cutting.

A prime example of a volatile electorate is how quickly things "went to the dogs" in Colchester in just over a week. I’m not taking sides, nor do I wish to.

However, there is a message. For anyone who will seek re-election, or "wanna be" the next few months must be spent consulting, reviewing, and ensuring your next move will benefit the community or electorate.

If you hold public office, double check to make sure everyone on your team is committed to moving in the same direction putting constituents first, not your belief or welfare of your party. - Maurice



August 2018 - Department of Environment is to blame

Lunenburg, with its UNESCO designation, is an iconic destination. However there are two sides to the south shore town’s problems. In the July 11th issue of the Chronicle Herald the front page details the troubles of Lunenburg Harbour with regard to raw sewage, yet the front page of the business section talks about a development plan is near finalization for the provinces only UNESCO designated municipality.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not picking on Lunenburg. That assumption is far from the remotest of consideration.

In the story about Lunenburg’s harbour being in trouble, the opening line states, "Lunenburg Harbour will remain contaminated with sewage as long as there are no laws in place forcing anyone to clean up the pollution or to prevent it in the first place". The province is reported to be considering a coastal protection, but currently there is no provincial or federal act to regulate contamination.

To illustrate the severity of the problem, the Chronicle Herald article stated, "Health Canada states that levels of enterococci must be at or below 175 colonies per 100 milliliters of water to be safe for secondary contact, including sailing and fishing. The concentration falls to 70 colonies per 100 mL for swimming. The Inshore Fishermen’s Wharf was tested only once, producing 1,600 colonies per 100 mL, more than nine times higher than the standard for safe secondary contact".

Engineering studies have been done, and more are planned, but it will take years to provide solutions. In short it’s bizarre for government to spend money on streetscapes, without having a plan in place to prevent fecal pollution. The provincial Department of Environment is to blame.

The department of Environment lacks broad-based public support for its lack of leadership on matters which have consumed the public for decades. In Colchester North, there was lots of criticism of the department for its lack of action regarding the OSCO quarry in Little Dyke.

Similarly, lines have been drawn in the sand in the Pictou area over the pending closure of Boat Harbour and how the Abercrombie pulp mill plans to solve the problem by discharging the effluent via a treatment facility and elongated pipe into the Northumberland Strait. With application of modern technology scientists say the problem will be fixed.

The Department of Environment is pivotal in all of this. Because of decades of perceived inaction and lack of expertise and enforcement, the public doesn’t trust the Department and would risk shutting down the mill than believing DOE officials.

McNeil’s Liberals are in a crunch of what to do. All political parties must share blame for a situation which has persists for almost 50 years. Since they all are party to the unfortunate situation, all provincial parties must work together with the federal government and community to find a solution.

Since 2015, particularly 2016 which saw the election of Donald Trump, the mood of the electorate has changed. Popular politics, the grants of the wishes of taxpayers has taken hold. The electorate is demanding their opinions be heard and heeded.

The situation in Pictou will be pivotal. There is no way the province, especially the forest sector, can permit the mill to close. Trust with DOE must be rebuilt. All parties must work together to consult with the public to make that happen.

Some way must be found to give the public assurances if the technology does not work, then activity will be stopped until a solution is found. In order for the public to be brought onside, they must have control to shut down the operation.

Times have changed. Doing politics the way it was done decades or even five years ago is history. The immediate role of all governments, provincial or federal, yes even municipal, must be to work hard to demonstrate they are representatives of the people, instead of having taxpayers financing government activity.

Premier McNeil must meet directly with residents of Pictou, and appoint them as "the board of directors" who ensure government departments implement regulations. If Premier McNeil can accomplish that, he will set the course for continued operation of the mill, and a road map to his party’s re-election in the next election. Maurice



July 2018 - Legions still have a meaningful purpose

Donnie Fraser was a happy guy on Thursday, June 22 when his name was drawn during the Debert Legion’s Chase the Ace weekly draw. The ace and his name were drawn and he took home $58,570. Chase the Ace initiatives have been the rage for the past few years and a great "local" fund raising source for many organizations. We all dream about winning millions in the 649 or MAX weekly lotteries, but there is no local content. When an organization such as the Debert Legion undertakes as similar event, not only are they raising money for their needs, but they are helping the community by hosting a weekly social event.

With the advent of social media, people are losing communication skills with family, neighbours and friends. Instead of having a face-to-face conversation some people will text someone in the next room, or even sitting in the same room. The long term prognosis is not good. That’s where organizations like the Debert Legion are continuing to help the community.

The aging of vets, even from the Korean War, and lack of interest by recent Armed forces retirees has eroded membership in many branches. Changes in society, "drinking and driving laws, which is a good thing, have made life difficult for legion branches to retain their prominence in the community.

Congratulations to Debert Legion executive for climbing aboard the "Chase the Ace" bandwagon and sharing proceeds with other community groups. It’s been a long while since the Debert Legion had as much money in the bank. Good wishes and heart-full thanks to those who played every week.

This proves, legions are still important and with some minor tweaking of their priorities, they have a long and necessary purpose to constantly be the gelatin to hold a small community together.

Now I’ll get onto another topic, which is holding back rural communities from reversing the population drain to attract residents and businesses. My gripe is the deplorable way all levels of government have handled the internet file. Governments have tried, spending millions of dollars and failed.

Instead of making decisions for today, politicians and bureaucrats need to take a few lessons from the history book and apply them in today’s society. Rural Canada built this great country. In the beginning, it was a massive expanse of forest, water and some good cleared agricultural land.

In Nova Scotia during the age of sail communities like Maitland, Great Village, Bass River and along water’s edge communities were thriving with shipbuilders, many of whom sent their larger vessels to Parrsboro for installation of masts and further outfitting. Nova Scotia is reported to have had the largest registered tonnage of all ships on the water – globally.

Folklore in Maitland Hants County says on October 27, 1874 approximately 4,000 people were in Maitland to watch the launching of the W. D. Lawrence. She was the largest wooden sailing ship of her day, one of the largest wooden ships ever built and the largest sailing ship ever built in Canada.

If Nova Scotians could be global leaders 144 years ago, why can’t we be on a similar pedestal today?

Have we lost our way or is it a lack of leadership?

If today’s politicians, at all levels, put all shoulders to the wheel, we could re-gain our prominence. Rural residents are begging for high speed internet. The population drain of rural areas and increased competitiveness for rural businesses would immediately result.

Sure it will take $-millions, but the technology is there. Governments have to stop spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on consultants to develop reports which the contents are not share with all other government levels and those working to bring competitive internet service to rural areas.

It will take a combination of fibre, wireless and satellite technology to get the job done. In the past governments did not want to include satellite as part of the solution, preferring to deal only with large national communication companies. Now it’s reported they are realizing internet service in some areas is unaffordable unless satellite technology in utilized.

Once we rebuild rural Nova Scotia, as a province, we can be a global leader once again.

Let’s stop fooling around. Let’s get the job done soon. - Maurice.


June 2018 - Transparency needs to be # 1

Over the past couple of decades we have noticed a significant drop in the percentage of voters who actually cast their vote compared to who is eligible. It’s a concern across all levels of government and the drop is most noticeable at the municipal level. Ironic because they are the ones closest to the taxpayer.

Maybe changes are coming as the public become more engaged, from an increasing number of social media platforms, where many seem to climb on the bandwagon to voice their opinion. Most of the occurrences seem to be on the negative side, but maybe positive things will start to evolve as good things can happen at federal, provincial and municipal levels.

Historically, many people have expressed a dis-interest in politics, because they felt their voice or vote did not matter. For democracy to work properly every opinion is important and must be received with sincerity.

To achieve those levels of satisfaction transparency is possibly the most important component. Not only must transparency be done, it must appear to be done and treated as # 1 priority. I mention this as a result of an observation at Colchester Council during a public meeting on Change of Land use bylaws.

A thick package was provided in advance and given to the media well in advance of the meeting. A quick review of the documents contained only positive comments. Not a murmur of any opposition or comments of concern from the general public.

However, the question of complete transparency arose as result of comments from Dr. Short who lives near the proposed residential development in Bible Hill. During his presentation he made reference to a letter he had submitted, but was not contained in the package. During his presentation he quoted excerpts from the letter.

It didn’t take long for the letter to be retrieved and included in the minutes as part of the public hearing. My observation might be totally wrong and such submissions are not required to be included. However, if transparency is to appear to be done, I would suggest all submissions in support of; opposed to, or raising concern should be included.

Inclusion might not make any difference in the outcome. Staff and elected councillors would not be vulnerable for the public to feel and say their opinions were not considered or at least made public.

I’m not saying who is right or wrong, but to make an informed decision both sides of the matter must be included for public scrutiny and the public needs to be recognized. That is my conclusion on transparency. I’d appreciate written comments in support of my feelings, or from those who think I am "off base".

On another matter, Councillor Stewart is correct about dealing with tragedy. What will council’s decision be on dealing with tragedy suffered by 17 Bible Hill residents who lost everything in a fire which destroyed a 12 unit apartment building on April 27th? Simply nothing. Council can not use taxpayer dollars for every tragedy, large or small.

On another matter Councillor Taggart is getting more aggressive asking for residents and businesses to voice their opinion and explain their needs for improved internet service. Like many others, Taggart is of the opinion fiber speed internet will make businesses more competitive; students will have access to on-line educational services and for the rural economy to grow internet accessibility needs improving.

In his job as a realtor, Taggart says realtors, locally and nationally are having problems selling properties where there is no or very poor internet service and added some realtors have stopped listing properties where that occurs.

Nationally, Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) anticipates rural population will increase by 7% over a couple of decades as rural internet service starts to match speeds in urban centres. To illustrate his point, Taggart says he knows of one West Colchester professional who works from home, but has been quoted costs ranging in thousands of dollars to get appropriate speed internet.

If residents in rural Colchester need or want fiber speed internet, they must speak up. My suggestion is call oe email Councillor Taggart at: to help him build his case to go forward.



May 2018 - Wood for Heat

Can you remember back to your younger days, especially if you lived in the country, when on cold winter mornings, father got up, built a new fire, or stoked the hot coals, filled up the stove with seasoned hardwood, and soon the entire room was toasty warm?

I certainly do, and still remember occasionally water was frozen in the glass on the table, as a result I’ve always liked wood heat.

On Saturday, April 7th, while attending the Central Woodlands Conference in New Glasgow, these memories flashed through my mind as I listened to Ian Ripley, General Manager, Athol Forestry Co-operative, Amherst present his views on using Wood for Heat to the 120+ attendees. His concept seemed very practical, as he outlined how his colleagues at North Nova Forestry Co-operative and Conform Ltd have been developing a plan for better usage of wood chips; replace fossil fuels, and keep money within the province rather than continuing major purchases for fossil fuels and Middle-Eastern oil.

Ripley’s or their vision is to offer a "turn-key" program to install a wood boiler, supply seasoned wood chips to heat larger buildings or a collection of smaller downtown buildings with a district heating system. They are not concerned about the public’s negative feelings toward clear cutting or chipping hardwood, because woodlot owners or the woodlot owner-owned co-operatives would send good quality saw logs to sawmills, expand the availability of firewood. They intend to use low value forest products which may include both hardwood & softwood.

Part of Ripley’s approach to a turnkey wood for heat system is the small amount of woodchips required. He cited as an example the Tatamagouche hospital. Its fossil fuel consumption is probably about 100,000 liters. His estimate was the facility could be heated with approximately 150 cords.

(Separate from Ripley’s presentation, this writer knows of several outdoor wood boilers used to heat a workshop or a three bay auto garage are burning in 25-30 cords per year. Those who from Colchester and Cumberland counties, who are interested, or better yet, municipal leaders could ask owners of outdoor wood boilers, their level of consumption for a business that employs 5-6 people. If one then scales the size of the two operations in their mind, it’s not hard to see efficiencies).

While the woodlot owned cooperatives have been developing their program, the one thing which has hampered quicker progress is the difficulty to change the mindset of those in charge. Negative publicity about the volume of wood chips used to generate electricity to operate the Port Hawkesbury paper mill has been a problem.

The efficiency and total usefulness of that boiler is lost, because the large volume of hot water is not used. Some experts suggest the boiler probably generates enough hot water to heat every home and business in Port Hawkesbury if a district heating system existed. Although that would not curtail criticism about clear cutting and chipping, when there is evidence old growth forests and perfectly good saw logs are chipped rather than being used in higher value applications.

The cooperatives are developing a "turn-key" program to finance installation, install the boiler; and supply seasoned high quality chips, every 4-7 days, or as needed. They realize they need the first large building installation, which can be used as an efficient working model.

As they continue to work on a long-term plan, they are interested in inquiries from property owners about "Wood for Heat" for large buildings or a downtown core district heating system. Look for them to start making presentations to a number of municipal councils.

On another totally separate matter, it was interesting to see Deputy Mayor Bill Masters bring to council’s attention some of his observations on what the municipality and others in Colchester could to raise the municipality’s profile to encourage doctors to relocate here. Masters told council he saw one report about areas needing doctors and Colchester was not mentioned.

As a result of his observations, other councillors were in agreement, and decided to form a committee, seek participation from other Colchester municipal units. It’s only in the formative stages, but it’s probable once plans evolve, they’ll be appealing for the general public to climb aboard. - Maurice





April 2018 - $120-Million will certainly help

Premier McNeil’s March 15th announcement of $120-Million gleaned from offshore gas royalties to be used to solve problems related to lack of high speed internet service around the province is definitely good news, providing achievable solutions are sought.

It’s very understandable why some people will be skeptical. Since the original massive roll-out was announced with mega-$$$, there has been announcement after announcement problems would be solved.

Not only were subsequent mega-dollars announced, a lot of time and expense evolved for consulting studies with minor results. Might it have been more helpful if the message to residents, pleading for acceptable high speed internet service in rural areas, might have asked for their input and to find ways to get local community groups and municipalities involved in solution development and financing?

The lack of reliable, fast rural internet service has not gone unnoticed. The federal government seemed to lead the way announcing major funding for solutions. Real Estate agents have constantly pointed to problems selling rural property which did not have reliable service. In fact, it’s so bad many agents will not list a property unless acceptable, by today’s standards, there is existing internet service.

Reliable fast internet is essential for rural businesses to be competitive and students to be on equal footing with colleagues in urban areas, if they are to succeed scholastically. Then and only then is there a hope any level of government can realistically and economically rebuild the rural economy.

In previous decades, migration to urban areas was perceived because of the bright lights and better job opportunities. Recently, the reason seems to have switched to the lack of acceptable or desired internet service, whether for personal or business use.

At a recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) board of directors meeting, it was revealed when high speed rural internet service is achieved, rural areas will benefit from an increase of approximately 7% population growth.

An important role of any level of government should not be confined to implement, but to create the environment to ensure it happens. All too often government throws a lot of money at something, only to have it fail or the outcomes were far less than the original hype.

Across Canada or around the world the most successful Community Economic Development (CED) initiatives have occurred when grassroots driven or they are significantly involved. Provincially, a good example is New Dawn Enterprises in Cape Breton. They have decades of success and are still hard at it delivering achievable results.

It will not be acceptable for Nova Scotians to sit back and assume "We’ll get high speed internet service soon. The government is going to make it happen". That is what happened in the past and look where we are, at least a decade behind urban areas.

If you live in rural Nova Scotia and need or want high speed internet service it is incumbent upon you to get involved. I don’t mean just calling local elected representative to deliver the message, "Make it happen soon".

No, you have to be willing to invest some time and energy to develop the appropriate plan for your community. Call your local elected and say, "What can I do to help make it happen? What can our community do to help?".

For a rundown of community driven success take a look at New Dawn Enterprises, Sydney, or the actions taken by County of Annapolis council in holding 65 community meetings, developing a plan and then agreeing to borrow $14.8-Million of municipal funds to drive a county-wide high speed internet program. Since they are the first, it has taken about a year longer to finalize a contract, but it’s expected to be signed soon with installation completed in about 300 days.

Colchester and Cumberland councils should meet to develop a two county initiative and how to get grassroots involved in the beginning.

I’ve talked to Bill Casey, Cumberland-Colchester, MP and he’s onside and hopes planning will start soon. All rural residents are encouraged to organize community meetings answering the questions, "What can we do? How can we help?"

Start preparing and organizing now! - Maurice



March 2018 - Be Prepared: Get Less, Pay More

The spat between Alberta and British Columbia, unless solved soon, will affect all Canadians and Nova Scotians should get prepared. It might evolve into a Constitutional crisis, or the break-up of Canada as we know it today.

If the three Green party members, who are keeping the British Columbia NDP party governing the province aren’t convinced to back off there could be a 2018 BC provincial election, less than a year since the Liberals gave up governing.

We might not realize two provinces squabbling over an approved pipeline to carry Alberta bitumen through the Rockies to a BC port for shipment overseas will have much of an impact on the east coast. However, it would have an significant impact and sooner than we want to think about it.

As I see it one of two things will happen, maybe both and a whole lot more. If the two provinces can’t find a solution harmony between other provinces could be adversely affected. Instead of a "mostly unified" working relationship between provinces, we might be facing a lack of co-operation with provinces or regions setting up barriers and refusing to co-operate on trade across provincial borders.

I realize "pipelines" are a contentious issue, and there are many here in Colchester and Cumberland Counties who are against them. Canada has the highest concentration of natural resource assets including oil, natural gas and bitumen. It’s a global commodity which the world needs. Although we might not like how it’s done, or how it gets to market, we must insist all government ensure there is "responsible natural resource development".

If Alberta is not able to get oil products to market, its economy will suffer even more than it has during the energy price slump. If that happens they will be angry and not inclined to work with other provinces or regions. The result would be a breakdown in coast to coast provincial co-operation.

How would you feel if a provincial passport was required to travel outside a region of cooperating provinces, should you wish to travel to the Pacific Coast? Probably never required, but the hatred would amount to the same.

How could this affect Nova Scotians so we had to pay more and get less? This is the easiest to explain. Canada’s "have" provinces contribute large amounts of money to the Federal Treasury, which is then distributed to less wealthy Canadian provinces to equalize the provinces' "fiscal capacity" — their ability to generate tax revenues. The program began in 1972. In 2008–2009, six provinces received $13.6-Billion in equalization payments from the federal government. Until the 2009–2010 fiscal year, Ontario was the only province to have never received equalization payments; in 2009-2010 Ontario received $347-Million, while Newfoundland, which has received payments since the program's creation, because of offshore oil and gas success is now a so-called "have" province, and is now a net contributor and does not receive payments.

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland have contributed to the program so that in 2017–2018 year, the following provinces received the following equalization payments: Quebec, $11.081-Billion; Manitoba, $1.820-Billion; Nova Scotia, $1.779-Billion; New Brunswick, $1.760-Billion; Ontario, $1.424-Billion and Prince Edward Island, $390-Million. Canada's territories are not included in the equalization program. The federal government addresses territorial fiscal needs through the Territorial Formula Financing (TFF) program.

If an expansion of the turf warfare continues and provinces not contributing, a lot of things will change. Looking at oil rich Alberta, if they are not permitted to get bitumen to market, their economy will nosedive and they will not be sending gobs of money to Ottawa. That would directly affect how much money available to send to good ole Nova Scotia in the way of transfer payments.

With the recent Nova Scotia Atlas suggesting there might be $$$-Billions in onshore gas, other provinces might force us into development. Consequently it might be prudent for the province to first enact "responsible" natural resource development programs. We might not like it, but we could be forced into fracking just to keep ourselves afloat. Within a couple of decades we might become a "have" province and send some money to Alberta. - Maurice



February 2018 - Revolution 2018

Late last fall a long range weather forecast suggested Eastern Canada, particularly Nova Scotia would be milder this winter and instead of an abundance of snow, we’d get milder fluctuating temperatures, with possibility of freezing rain due primarily to a warmer Gulf Stream.

Early in January with several days of frigid cold weather we were in tune with the rest of Canada, with many provinces setting many coldest days of the year records. One day I thought the early fall milder weather forecast was out the window.

However, things have changed. Temperatures are milder, and the southern part and Eastern Nova Scotia sure have been getting their fair share of freezing rain. Cumberland and Colchester have been spared freezing rain. Although we have had lots of rain, winds continued after the rain stopped so we avoided major icy road conditions.

2018 is the year to realize we can get storms in other ways. Normally, we think of a tsunami something that follows an earthquake, with coastal countries crippled with property destruction and loss of life. However, in North America it’s been a different storm affecting USA and Canada. Not even "lil ole" Nova Scotia has been spared.

In case you are wondering what I am building up to, it’s Revolution 2018. We got a preview of it in fall of 2017, when more women started coming forward with allegations of sexual, personal and workplace harassment. Remember Howard Weinstein, then a tidal wave that resulted in some of USA’s most prominent actors, media hosts and politicians resigning or being fired.

This was followed by several women renewing their complaints about now President Donald Trump. Several movie and show awards have fanned the flames. The #MeToo movement has gained strength. More women coming forward has given confidence to others to take the plunge. My observation is a lot of hesitation to speak out occurred, as we watched defense lawyers practically destroy the reputation and life of a rape victim.

Once sensitivity training for judges and legal community happened things changed. It took Oprah Winfrey and others to speak out and "give a breath of hope".

Just this weekend, a billionaire casino executive, who also was serving as the chief fundraiser for the Republicans and a friend of Trump; then Chief of Staff for Marco Rubio was fired within 24 hours.

For years many have felt those in power rich business executives or powerful politicians were equally as guilty but no one was coming forward.

In the reality of life Nova Scotia’s weather comes up along the New England seaboard. I don’t know if confidence for women came in on one of the storms with high winds and turbulent tides, but Nova Scotia was caught up in the same situation, then it quickly spread to Queens Park, Toronto and the House of Commons.

On Wednesday, January 24th, Jamie Baillie quickly resigned as PC leader and Cumberland South MLA. Within hours it was revealed sexual harassment of a much younger female internet in the Party office lead to his downfall: nest day he leader of the PC’s in Ontario followed by a minister in Trudeau’s cabinet.

Or course these will not be the last revelations. If it has been going on for decades, we have only seen a tip of the iceberg. I predict more announcements for the next few months.

Instead of being upset each time we turn on the news, we should be thankful abused people are finally getting the strength to come forward. Donald Trump had the slogan, "Clean out the Swamp", which we must now embrace, We need to rid society of such activity and soon.

If someone comes forward we should embrace them with kindness and support. In fact, if anyone knows of such activity, encourage the victims to speak out or take action to make it happen.

I don’t care who or where they are, but we must expose these people and treat everyone properly. If you know anyone who claims to be a victim, show them support and help them come forward.

This activity is unacceptable in government, business or life in general - Maurice



January 2018 - A Solution to Iain Rankin’s Tight Rope

The attitude of North Americans, including decisions to become more vocal and stand up against the establishment, is changing quickly. In the almost 15 months since Donald Trump was elected president, more and more people are coming forward with accusations they have been abused.

It might not be totally visible in Colchester County but there is a trickle down affect, which probably will become more prominent in months to come. So let’s go back and review a few things. In fall of 2016 the "Hollywood tape" in which candidate Trump made statements of what he was able to do as a culmination of being prominent and powerful did not deter others from electing him as president.

Then early fall 2017 things changed quickly when accusations were made against Howard Weinstein. He was quickly removed from the company he co-founded with his brother. Immediately, women started coming forward with accusations against many other movie giants, television - radio hosts and additional politicians. Two senior politicians were forced to resign or retire.

As women became more comfortable coming forward, a few of Trump’s accusers have started re-applying pressure. Yes, I watch a lot of CNN and always try to imagine how movements in USA might be affecting things in Canada. Already, we’ve seen female MP’s become more vigilant in making accusations against other Members of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Locally, a Halifax female fire fighter has been issued an apology after she waged a 12 year battle. Others are becoming vocal about being refused treatment and career opportunities not just by themselves, but family members are speaking out about refusals for treatment, court attitudes and other things effecting them and loves ones.

As the trickle-downs stars to gain momentum, it’s interesting to note the battle which has been raging for nearly 50 years in Pictou County concerning the former Scott, now Great Northern pulp mill. The matter has started to gather traction, prominence and lots of press. The community might be divided, but for the first time, there’s a strong movement or rallying around those who have expressed concerns about Northern Pulp’s attitude towards the community, even though it is an important part of the economic engine of the much of the province. As society in North America changes, and the threat of global warming rises, a lot more people are starting to become vocal maintaining the environment is more important than the "almighty dollar".

Letters from current and retired mill employees and management to book stores caused cancellation of a book signing event by "The Mill Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest" author, Joan Baxter. However, the operators at Pictou Lodge came to the rescue by hosting the book signing.

Pictou Lodge’s offer came after Northern Pulp cancelled this year’s staff Christmas party after Pictou Lodge’s, Wes Surrett went public on December 9th with his beliefs the Abercrombie Mill has continued to display an arrogant "we can do whatever we want" attitude, which he says is detrimental to the community.

According to reports, the party cancellation cost the Lodge well in excess of $10,000 and also caused many staff to lose work time. Surrett indicated it hurt, but he still stood behind what he believes.

Pictou County is very closely knit, even though not everyone agrees all the time. It didn’t take long for a fisherman’s association to decide they would hold an event to show support and help the Lodge. Their reaction was primarily because Northern Pulp’s solution for Boat Harbour appears to be run the effluent through a longer pipe and dump it into Northumberland Strait, which fishermen say will destroy the fishery.

As provincial residents become more vocal, it’s going to be interesting to see how Iain Rankin, NS Minister of Environment, walks a tight rope. Earlier this summer, he gave approval for LaFarge to burn tires in its Brookfield kiln, which created headlines an existing tire shredder in HRM would be negatively impacted and probably would have to reduce staff, because tires would not be available.

Prior to Rankin’s Ministerial approval LaFarge was courting municipalities requesting a deal to take their low grade plastics as feed stock to the kiln. (See Letter to Editor on this page). Now with tire burning approval, LaFarge is not interested in low grade plastics.

The story becomes more complex, because municipalities can not send their low grade plastic to China, because it has imposed a ban effective December 31st. Colchester currently has thirteen 40’ shipping containers of low grade plastics in storage and HRM has a lot more as do other municipalities. By law, NS Department of Environment refuses to let plastics be land-filled. Most municipal governments are asking for guidance from DOE and the Premier.

Minister Rankin and the Premier could easily solve the problem and create a lot friends, while at the same time eliminate a major problem for all municipalities, not only in Nova Scotia, but the entire Atlantic Region.

My solution is rather simple: Cancel LaFarge’s tire burning permit; which would add some economic stability to the HRM- based tire shredding operation; twist LaFarge’s arm, if necessary, to change their plans and take all the low grade plastics from the municipalities, who previously shipped all they had to China.

If Nova Scotia can’t supply enough plastics as feedstock, seek the required quantity from other provinces starting with New Brunswick and PEI. Create some friends in other provinces.

What a great Christmas or New Year’s gift for municipalities. With that problem out of the way, next is to solve the Pictou County problem to the satisfaction of local residents. Two great ways to "Ring in the New Year".

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to everyone. - Maurice




Maurice Rees, Publisher
The Shoreline Journal
Box 41, Bass River, NS B0M 1B0
PH: 902-647-2968; Cell: 902-890-9850