Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things


The experience of covering John Whalley’s civil suit against the CBRM has been revelatory: it’s clarified for me my preferred style of journalism (slow) and the contribution I can make to coverage of a local news story (details, context, history).

It’s been an incredible amount of work and yet it’s given me more freedom than I usually allow myself — freedom to miss deadlines and ignore other stories to concentrate on the one I really want to tell. It’s an approach I intend to use whenever a compelling subject presents itself, not least because it’s the kind of reporting I most enjoy. (“Last to breaking news” is a motto I kind of wish I’d come up with myself.)

That said, I’m trial-ed out right now, so this week’s Fast & Curious should probably be subtitled “Anything but the Whalley Trial.”


Where’s Cecil?

One of the stories that got sidelined recently was my regular “Where’s Cecil” feature, in which I’ve been tracking the time CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke has devoted to his campaign for the PC leadership. Today it’s time to play a little catch-up, but [SPOILER ALERT] the short answer to the question, “Where’s Cecil?” is: “Not in the CBRM.”



His Facebook feed since I last checked in has been largely devoted to encouraging people to take out PC memberships so they can vote for him (the deadline to do so has now passed) but he also took time to mark the 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York City and the 20th anniversary of the SwissAir crash off the coast of Nova Scotia. His tribute to the latter is a hauntingly beautiful piece of prose that begins:

Twenty years ago today, SwissAir Flight 111 fell into the water near Peggy’s Cove…


Source: Facebook

Boots to the Street

He also takes credit for making Nova Scotia safer, which he apparently did as Justice Minister, in part by putting more police officers on our streets.

This is one of those times when the interests of candidate Clarke and the interests of Mayor Clarke collide, because while Rodney MacDonald’s Tory government did indeed spend $16.7 million to put an additional 138 officers on Nova Scotian streets in 2007 (including 19 in the CBRM), it promptly froze the funding for the program so that the $100,000 per officer the Cape Breton Regional Police Services receives from the province fails to cover the roughly $129,000 it now costs to pay, equip and train them. (According to 2018-19 CBRM budget documents, the shortfall the CBRM must make up is $520,000.)



Tory mayor?

Cecil Clarke (Source:

Cecil Clarke (Source:

In a September 12 CBC story about the number of Nova Scotians (10,000) who have taken out PC memberships to vote for the new leader, reporter Jean Laroche asked the two candidates without seats in the provincial legislature — Julie Chaisson and Clarke — if they would run for the party in the next provincial election (probably in 2021) even if they didn’t win the leadership:

“Absolutely,” [Chaisson] said. “This is my party and I’m very engaged with it and I’m very committed to it.”

It was the same promise from the other candidate without a seat in the Nova Scotia legislature, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke.

“I’ve run eight times for the Progressive Conservatives and I will continue to do that,” said Clarke.

“I said I would run and I will run.”

So, apparently Clarke is returning to provincial politics? His term as mayor will end in 2020 so I wouldn’t have to track his provincial campaign, which would be a relief.

But what does he mean, “I’ve run eight times for the Progressive Conservatives?”

I went through his record carefully: he ran for the PCs federally in Sydney-Victoria in 1997 and lost; he was elected provincially in a 2001 bye-election and then re-elected in 2003, 2006 and 2009. He ran federally in Sydney-Victoria again in 2011 and lost.

That’s six.

So he’s counting his two runs for CBRM mayor, even though there are no political parties at the municipal level in Nova Scotia and I don’t think introducing them (officially) was one of the hundreds of changes he promised in his campaign platforms.

Nevertheless, we’ve apparently had a Progressive Conservative mayor for the past six years.

Good to know.


Cecil Tracker

Here’s the updated Cecil Calendar (be sure to check out August, a busy, busy month that had him conveniently out of town for something we’re not talking about in Fast & Curious this week but which ran from August 20 to 24 and rhymes with “the Collie File”).




Other people’s words

I find myself uncharacteristically short of things to say today, but that’s okay — I’ll just let some other people do the talking.

By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Florence viewed from the International Space Station. (Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s Brian Resnick of Vox on the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season (much on my mind today as I watch Hurricane Florence make landfall in North Carolina). Resnick makes the point that hurricanes are growing “wetter and slower.” He says Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas last August, dumped so much water (60 inches in some places) that it actually “depressed the earth more than half an inch in some spots.”

Resnick also notes that:

Climate scientists have now determined via two separate research efforts that Hurricane Harvey’s record-blasting rains (best measured in feet for much of Houston) were likely amplified by climate change.

And climate change, as most of us will agree, is related to the burning of fossil fuels.

Although it seems that consensus is not shared by all Progressive Conservatives in this country (or this province). Joan Baxter reports for the Examiner this morning (it’s behind a paywall, but if you have a joint Spectator/Examiner subscription, it’s all yours) on a debate held at the Northumberland Community Curling Club in Pugwash last night on the resolution that “fracking will be beneficial to Cumberland County.”

Notes Baxter:

The Conservative interest in fracking was certainly evident last evening in Pugwash.

PC leadership candidates Houston and Smith-McCrossin were present, as were current PC MLA for Cumberland South, Tory Rushton, as well as Conservative candidate and former Conservative MP for Cumberland-Colchester-Musqoudoboit Valley, Scott Armstrong.

As far as I could tell, there were no other political parties represented at the event, which was organized by a group calling itself “Friends of Cumberland County,” with support from the Six Rivers Chamber of Commerce, formerly the Pugwash and Area Chamber of Commerce.

Professor Michael Bradfield (who taught me economics when I was in university and amazed me with his ability to learn student names in his huge introductory classes) argued against the resolution while Gerard Lucyshyn, vice president of research at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and economics lecturer at Mount Royal University in Calgary, took the pro side.

You’ll have to read the article to see who won.

But seeing Clarke’s name among those willing to consider fracking really makes me shake my head, because as Mayor of the CBRM, Clarke not only saw the effects of increasing, storm-related rainfall during the 2016 Thanksgiving floods, he recognized them as such, telling Global News:

Clarke said the weather is a reminder that climate change is contributing to more intense storms on the East Coast.

“The intensity of weather … is definitely changing. We’re feeling that as an island in the North Atlantic. The intensity of weather, whether it’s winter or rain events, it impacts our public works infrastructure heavily,” he said.

“The severity of weather has increased and this event is no different.”

So is it that he doesn’t admit any connection between fossil fuels and climate change or that he doesn’t care?

Maybe we can rent the Curling Club and debate it.




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