Comic Relief: Reading ‘The Codfathers’ in 2021

Comic Relief: Reading ‘The Codfathers’ in 2021

June 2, 2021

Had I read Gordon Pitts’ The Codfathers: Lessons from the Atlantic Business Elite when it first came out in 2005, I think it would have annoyed me — it’s just a collection of fawning portraits of wealthy Atlantic Canadian business types. But in 2021, post-financial crisis, mid-plague, as the worldRead More

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

June 4, 2021

Well played, Air Canada Remember back in December, when Cape Bretoners were signing petitions and sending video pleas to the prime minister to bail out the airlines and save our airport? And I warned that we were being played like a 12-string guitar? Well, listen to this music: Air CanadaRead More

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

April 23, 2021

Wrong side of the tracks? I was walking home from the grocery store the other evening and as I passed the site of the former train station on Dodd Street, I remembered a tidbit of information I’d picked up during CBRM council’s special meeting on March 31, the one heldRead More

John Crosbie and the Promise of Oil

John Crosbie and the Promise of Oil

January 22, 2020

“You have driven my husband wild with your book!” This is how Jane Crosbie welcomed me on my first visit to Government House in Saint John’s, Newfoundland in 2012. When my book The Ocean Ranger: Remaking the Promise of Oil came out, the then-Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador roaredRead More

The Catholic Church and Canada’s Residential Schools

The Catholic Church and Canada’s Residential Schools

June 30, 2021

The Catholic Church long ago joined the ranks of the mighty who have fallen, given its obvious knowledge and cover-up of the sexual abuse scandal that has caused so many former Catholics to abandon the pews they’d occupied weekly for the greater part of their lives.  But a series ofRead More

Time Travel and the Black Death

Time Travel and the Black Death

May 26, 2021

Author’s Note: In this series of columns (see the first one here and the second here) I am using various works of science fiction and fantasy to consider some of the ethical issues generated by our current situation.   As I write this, the weather is warming and the pandemicRead More

Sydney’s Casino at 25: Gambling Addiction

Sydney’s Casino at 25: Gambling Addiction

December 16, 2020

Editor’s Note: Sydney’s casino turns 25 this summer and to mark its quarter-century, Rob Csernyik has been taking an in-depth look at the promises — and realities — of casino gambling in Cape Breton. In Part III, he focuses on the question of addiction. (Read Part I here and Part IIRead More

Fashioning Fission: The Bikini A-Bomb Tests

Fashioning Fission: The Bikini A-Bomb Tests

July 16, 2021

Bikini, which was once inhabited by a hundred Marshallese, which once belonged to the Germans, and then the Japanese, now belongs to an unknown future along with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. David Bradley, No Place to Hide Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No: thisRead More

Homeless encarmpment, Northeast Portland (Photo by

Shelter from the Coming Storms

November 25, 2020

I don’t really know the situation today, but in the 1950s, working for the church especially as a secretary, I got to know those who were referred to as “stemmers.” They were the dedicated few who every so often rang the glebe house doorbell in search of a dollar orRead More

Other News

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

June 25, 2021 at 11:30 am

Tax Sales If the list of 104 properties — including 38 buildings  — up for tax sale in the CBRM has you wondering why CBRM doesn’t look into sourcing government funding for affordable housing and refurbishing some of them, you are not alone. I have long wondered about this too.Read More

Membertou Borrowed $6.8M from Bridging Finance for Novaporte Stake

Membertou Borrowed $6.8M from Bridging Finance for Novaporte Stake

June 23, 2021 at 12:21 pm

Membertou Chief Terry Paul, whose band borrowed $6.8 million from Toronto-based private lender Bridging Finance Inc to finance an investment in a proposed Sydney container terminal, says he is not concerned about the arrangement despite Bridging having been placed in receivership on April 30 amid allegations of fraud and misappropriationRead More

Public Housing and the Private Sector

Public Housing and the Private Sector

June 23, 2021 at 12:17 pm

Last week I wrote about the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission’s report, “Charting a new course for affordable housing in Nova Scotia,” sounding an alarm about its tendency to look to the private sector for solutions to the housing crisis. Days later, the federal government announced a $115.5-million, low-cost loanRead More

What NS Could Learn from Vienna’s ‘Red Housing’

What NS Could Learn from Vienna’s ‘Red Housing’

June 23, 2021 at 12:16 pm

When it comes to social (or “public” or “subsidized”) housing, Vienna really seems to have its act together. I am tempted to present this information as though I’ve long been an admirer of the social housing of Vienna, but the truth is, I hadn’t realized it was a claim toRead More

Iris. (Spectator photo)

Gardening Tips: Weed, Mulch and Stop and Smell the Flowers

June 23, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Editor’s Note: The Spectator is reaching into Michelle Smith’s gardening column archive for some weekly advice that is as relevant now as when it was first written. This column was first published on 26 June 2019.   What to do this week By now, the bulk of the spring planting should be accomplished,Read More

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

June 18, 2021 at 11:15 am

Mary Makes a Meme How it started:     How it’s going:   On the bright side, having let it it sit empty for two years (and catch fire once), the entrepreneurs who bought the building for $225,000 are hoping to sell it for $399,000.   Mary Makes Another MemeRead...

Novaporte Partner In Hot Water

Novaporte Partner In Hot Water

June 16, 2021 at 2:06 pm

This was going to be a story about CBRM council meeting in secret with Albert Barbusci of Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP) yesterday and then, during the regular meeting last night, approving a three-year extension to Barbusci’s exclusive contract with the municipality. (I’ve removed the SHIP Exclusivity Countdown Clock fromRead...

Housing as a Human Right?

Housing as a Human Right?

June 16, 2021 at 2:02 pm

“Charting a new course for affordable housing in Nova Scotia,” the report dropped by the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission this spring, is one of the most annoying things I’ve read this year — and I read The Codfathers. The pointless graphics, large photos and needless repetition (particularly with regardRead...

Compost tea. (Madeline Yakimchuk photo)

Gardening Tips: Soil Fertility Rights (and Wrongs)

June 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Editor’s Note: The Spectator is reaching into Michelle Smith’s gardening column archive for some weekly advice that is as relevant now as when it was first written. (This column was last reprinted on 17 June 2020).   What to do this week This week, I would like to talk about adding fertility toRead More

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things 2021.06.11

Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things 2021.06.11

June 11, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Where fishermen shop A spectator reminded me that while I devoted a lot of ink to port matters in this week’s edition, I didn’t discuss plans to expand the retail space around the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion — a plan first mentioned during the Port’s February AGM. “Fisherman’s Cove” isRead More