Fall Back Up with Bruce MacKinnon

Show notes:

On this episode I’m delighted to sit down with one of Canada’s best editorial cartoonists, Bruce MacKinnon…

Bruce has been nominated eight times for a National Newspaper Award (NNA), winning five times. He also received the NNA inaugural Journalist of the Year award for 2014.

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Among many other honours, Bruce has also been awarded 17 Atlantic Journalism Awards for editorial cartooning…including Journalist of the Year in 1991 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000;

He’s been given an honourary doctorate by St. Mary’s University for his work in the field of editorial cartooning and is a member of the Order of Nova Scotia. In 2013 he received both an honourary Doctor of Fine Arts from NSCAD University and the Friend of StFX Award from St. Francis Xavier University.

In 2014 he won the World Press Freedom Award.

Bruce is also a very good musician. In 2015, he and his son, Jamieson (Jay), won The Coast’s Best of Halifax Reader’s Choice Award for Best Cover Band. You can catch them regularly appearing at Durty Nelly’s on Saturday afternoons in downtown Halifax.

Bruce and his wife Peggy live in Halifax, and I dropped by his house where he was finishing up one of his daily cartoons for the Chronicle Herald…

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here or on the picture above 

There are a few show notes to mention here. Bruce and I talk about some of the acrylic caricature work he’s been working on which is pretty fabulous. Here are a few examples and there are more great ones that have yet to make a public appearance.

Additionally, we did make reference to a small picture of Justin Trudeau which he keeps on his computer screen and he explains why it’s there…

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I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did…click here to listen

What if the results of the Nova Scotia election were declared unconstitutional?

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This was a question some of us were mulling over on election night.

The ambitious and dedicated folks at community radio station CIOE in Lower Sackville asked me to moderate their coverage on election night with a panel comprised of broadcasting legend Al Hollingsworth, former NDP MLA Michele Raymond and former Nova Scotia finance minister and Senator Bernie Boudreau.

Bernie and I share a common failure. We ran in the 2000 federal election in Dartmouth. We both lost. Actually, former Buchanan era cabinet minister and now Senator, Tom McInnes was in the race too, so I was in pretty good company when we all failed to unseat incumbent NDP MP Wendy Lill. (I should point out, my ill-informed run failed much more miserably than the PC and Liberal candidates, mind you Bernie gave up his Senate seat to run, but I digress)

In advance of the provincial election night program in May, I asked Bernie if he would mind having a quick peek at the Reference of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal regarding the Final Report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC). We all felt it was an important issue, but it wasn’t getting much media attention.

The Honourable Justices Fichaud, Saunders, Oland, Bryson and Bourgeois were asked to provide opinion on the following; Does Section 1 of Chapter 61 of the Acts of Nova Scotia 2012, by which provisions the recommendations tendered by the EBC by its Final Report to the House of Assembly were enacted, violate Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by abolishing the electoral districts of Clare, Argyle, and Richmond?

The Court’s answer in late January? Yes.

Now I’m not a lawyer, but Bernie is and his opinion on this, which he freely shared on the radio, is the province could be in some pretty thick soup. If the EBC violated the Charter, does this mean the electoral boundaries are unconstitutional as the Acadian Federation asserts? How many? If the boundaries were illegal during an election, does this mean the result of the election is illegal? What would that mean?

Earlier in the spring, the Acadian Federation’s executive director Marie-Claude Rioux said, “I don’t think it is in the government’s best interest to call an election before this issue is resolved. It opens a whole Pandora’s box, and I don’t think the government wants to go there.” Well, they did.

So, the implication of this seems, at least on the surface, pretty serious and requiring some delicate unwinding.

The Liberals essentially said, our lawyers see it differently and the Premier can call an election whenever he wants. However, the loss of former Minister of Acadian Affairs Michel Samson’s seat in Richmond adds another layer of intrigue, as Samson was widely seen as one of Stephen McNeil’s senior lieutenants, and his loss in the election can be attributed, at least in part, to the redrawing of the boundaries.

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Progressive Conservative Alana Paon beat Samson in Cape Breton-Richmond by just 20 votes. In 2013, Samson got 50 per cent of the vote. Prior to the election, Tory Leader Jamie Baillie said the legitimacy of an election would be in question if the government doesn’t pay attention to the Acadian Federation. They picked up the Richmond seat, so what are they saying now?

The issue is apparently going to be resolved one way or another later this year, but it could make for some very interesting political posturing.

Fall Back Up with Rear Admiral John Newton

On this episode, the Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic, Rear-Admiral John Newton
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Rear-Admiral Newton began his career in the Navy in 1983, after trying his hand as a geologist out west.

He completed tours with the destroyer HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Preserver, and HMCS Montreal gaining a specialty in Canadian maritime sovereignty through countless fishery patrols and three Arctic sovereignty missions.
In 2000, he completed a year of Joint military studies at the Command and Staff College Toronto, followed by advanced military studies in 2004.

Rear-Admiral Newton has deployed on NATO missions of the Cold War, and UN peace support operations, including the Gulf War in 1991, Haiti in 1993, and the maritime embargo of the former Yugoslavia in 1995. He also served at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa as Director of International Plans in the Strategic Joint Staff.

Beyond professional duties, Rear-Admiral Newton focuses strongly on his family, strives to maintain a balanced work-home life in his home in Lunenburg. I dropped in to visit the Rear Admiral Newton at his office at the Navy Shipyard on Halifax Harbour…

Click here or on picture to listen

The New Phone Book is Here!

For people of my vintage, Steve Martin turned comedy on its ear. I was reminded this week of one of Martin’s best film moments from The Jerk when the new phone book arrives.

Earlier this week the new Halifax Index was released from the Halifax Partnership. Yay. For most, it might seem a little dry, but for people in the public policy world, it’s darn near exciting. Even for those not wonky enough to be enraptured with economic and demographic data, it tells a compelling story.

While there’s much to be pleased about living here in Nova Scotia (especially during warm, sunny weeks like this one past), there are also some sobering numbers provided in this year’s Index. The document is basically a diagnosis of our social and economic health. HP’s Chief Economist, Ian Munro does his best to avoid painting too gloomy a picture, but when you dig into the numbers, neither real growth nor public perceptions are anything to pop champagne corks about. Essentially, he says, we’ve got some good news and we’ve got some…well, work to do.

MQO2On the good news front, the population is increasing and apparently business optimism is up in spite of the fact underlying decision making around investment and innovation would suggest otherwise. The number of jobs inched up and the commercial property tax base has grown, City Hall’s fiscal picture shows very modest spending increases and the municipal debt is being slowly, but steadily chipped away.

There are, however, many challenges. While the population is growing, a considerable portion of that is the result of rural Nova Scotia shrinking and an increase in international students. While this growth is a good sign, longer term trends are not yet established and historically our retention rates are dreadful. It should be noted there is some cause for optimism with the establishment of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project, which sets aggressive goals for attracting and retaining new Canadian to the region, but it has only just started and we need to be careful not to prematurely declare victory and set unrealistic forecasts based on very short term results.

MQO’s City Matters survey, released as part of the Halifax Index, did not paint a very pretty picture either. The survey asked people to rate Halifax as a desirable place to live. While it was characterized as mostly flat-lining, the numbers were either unchanged or showed declining opinions on a variety of metrics including; being a good place to raise a family, indoor and outdoor recreation, housing affordability, arts and culture, ease of getting around, and other quality of life indicators.

Construction activity and other major projects including Irving’s ship building and the re-decking of the Macdonald Bridge bumped to GDP growth to 2.2 percent which may explain the sense of optimism, but Halifax continues to dwell in the bottom tier of benchmark Canadian cities, and GDP only hit 0.3 percent per capita.

There’s a great deal more useful analysis in the Index and Ian Munro and his team at the Partnership deserve credit for providing a very useful document to spur discussion around the challenges facing economic growth and social satisfaction measures. While the partnership also sets targets for improvement, it’s up to the business community to put forward clear policy recommendations to assist decision makers.

The Halifax Index 2017 is a very useful tool as it serves as a warning that we cannot be complacent about advancing ideas around economic growth. We have a huge job ahead of us to make Nova Scotia a more business-friendly, competitive environment. Our tax and regulatory burden remain foundation problems and with the demographic trends outlined by this index and many other studies, policymakers need to get serious about establishing long-term forecasting mechanisms to get a clearer picture of the heap of trouble awaiting us 20 years down the road. While I was excited to see its release, given the results in the Halifax Index, I think I may have been a little happier getting the phone book.

Fall Back Up with Holly Carr and Allan Bateman

Today on Fall Back Up, I’m delighted to welcome Nova Scotia artists Allan Bateman and Holly Carr

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Holly Carr is nationally renowned for her colourful and whimsical silk painting and public installations.  She not only exhibits her work throughout Canada and designed for theatre, more recently

Holly has branched out into performance art, painting in real time with musicians and performers. This includes performances with world-renowned violinist Min Lee in Singapore, The National Art Center Orchestra in Ottawa, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as well as her own production with Symphony Nova Scotia. She gives her time and art generously for fundraisers.

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Her life partner is Alan Bateman who is establishing himself as one of Canada’s finest realists.

Allan comes from a rich art background. His father is an internationally known wildlife artist Robert Bateman and his mother, Suzanne Lewis is a superb watercolourist.

Alan is a two-time recipient of The Elizabeth Greenshields Award. He has exhibited extensively throughout Canada, including shows in Toronto, Halifax, Hamilton, Edmonton and Victoria and several locations throughout the USA. Recently he finished a commissioned portrait of the outgoing president of the University of King’s College, Dr. George Cooper.

Both Holly and Allan received formal training at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the mid-1980’s. I sat down with them in the dining room of their farmhouse just outside Canning Nova Scotia where they live, paint and manage their own gallery. Our conversation covered a broad range of topics from being artists as a business, to the controversial idea of un-schooling children and the role of art in education…

Fall Back Up – Halifax Police Chief Jean Michel Blais

I’m delighted this week to speak with Jean-Michel Blais, Chief of Halifax Regional Police. Chief Blais spent 25 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

During that time, he completed his first mission with the United Nations in Haiti as a civilian police officer and following his return, worked predominantly on organized motorcycle gangs and Colombian drug Cartels.

He worked as an adjudicator in Ottawa and in 2008, was assigned to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti as the Deputy Police Commissioner in charge of over 1,700 international police officers.

In January 2010, following the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, he was dispatched to locate, recover and repatriate the bodies of Sergeant Mark Gallagher and Chief Superintendent Doug Coates.

Chief BlaisFor a year prior to his appointment as Chief of Halifax Regional Police, he was the officer in charge of Halifax District RCMP.

Chief Blais has two degrees, one in political science and economics from McGill University and the other in law from Université Laval.

He’s an avid reader and has also published several works on international and national police-related topics.

He has been decorated with medals by both the UN and the Government of Canada. We spoke when he dropped by my Halifax office.

Below the Soundcloud file, I’ve also included links for you related to a fairly extensive bibliography, provided by the chief, of some of his go-to leadership books. There are books, articles, Youtube videos and a few Ted talks to check out.

While you’re here, I’d also be grateful if you would my follow my podcast and commentary site. It’s free, there are no strings and you’ll only be alerted when something is posted.

I’d also be very interested in your feedback if there’s somebody you think our readers would like to hear interviewed. Just leave a comment on my site and I’ll get back to you.

Have a great weekend…

JM Blais’ Bibliography

On leadership:
Be, Know, Do by Frances Hesselbein & General Eric K. Shinseki
The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness by Stephen Covey
The 50th Law by Robert Greene

On values:
Integrity: The Courage to meet the Demands of Reality by Dr. Henry Cloud
Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

On interpersonal relationships and understanding people:
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene
Mastery by Robert Greene
Driven: How Human Nature Shapes our Choices by Paul R. Lawrence et Nitin Nohria

On thinking skill development:
The Opposable Mind by Roger Martin
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Ingenuity Gap by Thomas Homer-Dixon
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

On effective people management:
The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile & Steven Kramer
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton
The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz

Why Small Business is Concerned About the 15 Dollar Minimum Wage

Atlantic Canadian small business owners should start bracing themselves for the 15 dollar minimum wage campaign. The governments in Alberta and Ontario have both bought into the idea, and now British Columbia’s new ‘GreeNDP’ coalition is putting it on the table. It’s being driven principally by Canada’s largest labour unions and a coalition of the federal and provincial NDP and social activists.

Let’s be clear, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is responsible for advancing the interests of our members, small- and medium-sized, independent businesses. Firms ranging in size from your mom and pop shop to companies with up to 500 employees. CFIB has led awareness on this 15 dollar minimum wage issue because these are the businesses who will suffer, shrink or die with such a sudden spike in labour costs.

Because of their size, the Loblaws, Walmart and Shoppers Drug Marts of the world will be much better positioned to absorb this shock, but make no mistake, they will also be shedding staff, cutting hours and eliminating opportunities for young, entry-level workers, who make up the vast majority of those who are earning a minimum wage.

Most CFIB members already pay well above minimum wage for employees as most small businesses understand the importance of valuing and retaining staff. CFIB certainly has no argument with improving pay and benefits for employees when appropriate and our members support these efforts.

Our argument is with a government mandated spike in the wage floor which will put the sustainability of small business in peril. Remember, this is not just about entry level workers, a 32 per cent increase in the wage floor will put enormous pressure on employers to increase the wages of all staff.

Armine Yalnizyan, a principal advocate for the 15 dollar minimum wage and an author of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ (CCPA) Inequality Project, clearly stated this week, “Yes there will be a reduction in some hours, some jobs, some businesses. No argument there. And most vulnerable workers (teenagers and newcomers) will bite the bullet first, particularly when there’s a downturn in demand.”

Her comments are remarkable unto themselves, but I would also ask, what is the acceptable casualty rate? How many hours should be cut and how many young workers should lose their first jobs? How many businesses are they prepared to sacrifice to hit this arbitrary target?

And where will this new money for wages come from? Will it come from increased profitability? That seems unlikely in light of increased labour costs. Will it come from stronger employment? That’s not happening as, it seems everyone agrees, these higher wages will inevitably lead to reduced hours and/or job losses. Will minimum wage workers suddenly become 32 per cent more productive? Unlikely.

Finally, our region’s economy is far more fragile than Alberta, Ontario or BC. If there are politicians musing about this here, we would ask they understand the repercussions of this kind of wage spike before we even think about such a move in Atlantic Canada. We’ll have the opportunity to watch how this experiment plays out in those other province’s economies first. Fortunate for us, not so much for them.

This originally appeared in the Chronicle Herald, June 9, 2017

Fall Back Up

In 1997 Brian Titus was in the navy working as a diver in Halifax…but he had a passion for making beer. At the time, the craft brew market hadn’t washed up on the east coast and he saw an opportunity.

Over the last 20 years, Garrison, along with Halifax’s other well established brand Propeller, settled as two of Nova Scotia’s best known craft beer operations.

However, in the last few years, the craft brewing industry has exploded around the world and other new Nova Scotia brands and brewery operations seemingly come on stream every month.

BRIAN-HS-2For Brian Titus, it’s been a pretty amazing ride and Garrison continues to grow, trying to compete with new entries into the market and a shifting landscape.

I dropped into Garrison Breweries at their headquarters located in a part of Halifax’s original immigration annex on the waterfront, next door to the Seaport Market. Brian and I grabbed a Spruce beer and settled in for a conversation as a couple of folks nearby worked on a collaborative brew…