Time to Move On? Not So Fast There…

I’m a bit obsessed with the port — and sadly, I don’t mean the fortified wine — which is why this week’s issue contains so many port-related stories. But somebody has to do something other than cheerlead. Somebody has to don the skunk suit and turn up at the garden parties and this week, that responsibility seems to have fallen to me.

Fortunately, my skunk suit is fresh from the cleaners and my time off has left me ready and raring to go, so let’s stink up the joint, shall we?


Sydport and Sons?

Actually, the place is already reeking from that December 31st op-ed piece in the Cape Breton Post by the three “CBRM residents” who now make up Sydport Terminals Ltd or STL.

Cape Breton Post op-ed, "Time to move on"

Sydport Terminals Ltd is not be confused with Sydport Industrial Park, which lists Breton Law Group’s Jim Gogan as its recognized agent and is connected to East Coast Metal Fabrication (2015) which lists Jim Kehoe, Donald Sives, Sean Burke and Andre Cote as directors and Joseph Hines as executive VP/COO (and which also lists Gogan as its recognized agent.) Nor should you confuse it with Sydport Operations Inc, which  lists Kehoe, Sives and Burke as directors and Gogan as recognized agent.

(Got that? I tried to make what I’ve just discovered is called an “entity relationship diagram” of all this but it turned into a dog’s breakfast.)

No, Sydport Terminals Ltd (STL) is the company formed in 2015 by Marty Chernin, Brian Shebib and Jim Wooder.

Chernin and Shebib, in addition to their other business ventures, were both directors of Laurentian Energy Corporation (as were Kehoe, Burke, Sives and Cote), the firm formed to purchase the Sydport Industrial Park from Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation (ECBC) in 1998. Chernin was an original founder, Shebib joined the board in 2000. Wooder, a marine lawyer, was hired to manage Sydport. Later, he chaired something called the Governance Working Group (GWG) which Shebib also sat on and which, after 18 months of research, produced the Governance Structure: Port of Sydney report in 2011. The work was funded by Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation to the tune of $1 million.

Add to this that Marlene Usher was ECBC’s representative on the GWG and you’ll see there are at least three people involved with what’s happening with the Port of Sydney right now who should know better.


Ports America

The op-ed is truly, madly, deeply disingenuous on the subject of the five-year extension to our port marketers’ contract. The authors — a lawyer and two ‘bidness’ men — never admit that asking people to extend a contract they haven’t seen is madness. (And don’t tell me, as the mayor did, that councilors could see the contract between the CBRM and HPDP online — that contract is clearly stamped “draft,” besides which, if councilors want to see the original, signed contract, councilors should be permitted to see the original, signed contract. If you have nothing to hide, why are you hiding things?)

Rather than dwell on the lack of information provided to council prior to their December 15th meeting (at which the vote to extend the contract was to have taken place — and would have taken place had not the councilor for District 4 collapsed) they instead focus on the “information briefing” that was hastily organized before the December 19th meeting and laud their own willingness to answer questions.

In fact, they knock council for letting this golden opportunity to educate themselves slide and making the bidness men, who have been “working in competition to SHIP on a parallel track” since June 2015, very sad:

…[T]he obvious questions or perhaps the ones we had hoped would have been obvious to the unhappy councilors are what has changed for us, the “competition,” to now be supportive of SHIP and the motion?

And having made ourselves available to council for the very discussion, we were more than a little disappointed that we were asked nothing, not a single question, other than to confirm that we have no contractual relationship with SHIP. Having had no part in lobbying, bullying or coercing anyone, we will now attempt to answer the questions.

Oh the humanity! Forced to interview themselves in the op-ed pages of the local daily! Does  your cruelty know no bounds, councilors?


A Debt Unpaid?

Frankly, I think the “unhappy councilors” were asking precisely the question the bidness men wanted to hear — “Do you have a contractual relationship with SHIP?” is just another way of asking “Why are you supporting them?”

Because we all know there’s got to be something in it for Sydport Terminals Ltd, right? Whether it’s been put in writing yet or not. Anyway you look at it, it seems like STL did SHIP a solid, although locutions like this are clearly designed to obscure that fact:

Now, with the addition of Ports America, the project has taken a very major step indeed.

Wooder himself admits that it was STL that met Peter Ford of Ports America, telling me in an email:

STL and [Paul F. Richardson and Associates] were introduced to Peter Ford quite some time ago while he was still at Gulftainer and encouraged him (and many others) to take a serious look at Sydney.  Thankfully he has!

Peter Gillis, president of Local 1259 of the International Longshoremen’s Association, insists it was Ed Zimny of Paul F. Richardson and Associates, our former port promoter, who brought Ports America to the table. Wooder admits they worked with him although they did not, apparently, pay him:

We have not employed Ed Zimny but have collaborated with him throughout in our effort to promote Sydney.

As Gillis told the Spectator at the time of the Ports America announcement, he, Nova Scotia Transport Minister Geoff MacLellan, Brian Shebib and Jim Wooder met with Ports America during a trip to New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey in July 2016:

When we went down, one of the first meetings was held with Paul F. Richardson…with Ports of America and the thing is, that’s when Albert Barbusci and them guys were introduced to this project, when the guys from Sydport Terminals Ltd went to Harbor Port Development and shared the information with them.

There’s nothing in the op-ed to contradict this. The authors simply gloss over the addition of Ports America to the consortium on their way to assuring us that this adventure will not end with us giving the greenfield site to Sheehy and Barbusci in recognition of the millions of dollars they claim to have spent promoting it (my new nightmare, I used to just dream about losing all my teeth like a normal person).

And okay, for the sake of argument, let’s say STL is truly in this for the good of the community: how could railroading a five-year extension to SHIP’s contract through council be in the community’s best interest? How can you say, as the op-ed authors do, that “these things always take longer than you hope,” that they’ve been chasing this dream for “over a decade” and still argue that a month — a MONTH — would make a critical difference to the project’s future?

It’s what my Italian grandmother, if only I’d had one, would have called “BOLOGNA.”

Time to move on? Time to accept that “While the process wasn’t perfect, councilors were eventually [emphasis mine] provided with what they required to support the motion?”

I don’t think so.