Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Thin Blue Island

Researching this week’s stories on the Cape Breton Regional Police Service (CBRPS) I ran across a (lengthy) profile of the service which included this amazing paragraph:

Although only a small Island, Cape Breton’s beauty, hospitality and culture has made it one of the top vacation destinations worldwide. In the centre of this tourism masterpiece is the Cape Breton Regional Police Service (CBRPS), with more than 200 officers serving and protecting the regional municipality’s more than 105,000 people and 2,400 square kilometres. Its record of success also deserves accolades.

Yes, the cops are at the center of the tourism masterpiece that is our island.

Which explains, once and for all, why your heart will never leave:

It’s being held in pre-trial custody.


Never too late to update

A little housekeeping: in a story I wrote on February 27 about the CBRM’s decision to appeal the UARB’s ruling in the Big Pond RV Park case, I noted that I had asked Regional Solicitor Demetri Kachafanas (via CBRM spokesperson Jillian Moore) if the municipality had hired outside counsel to prepare the appeal or if it had plans to hire outside counsel to pursue the case.

I asked the questions on February 22 and received the answers on March 12 and those answers are:

“No” and “No.”


Missing meetings

CBRM regional council meetings are supposed to be held on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 PM.

Holding council meetings at a regular time each month is good for democracy because it makes it easier for members of the public to attend. It’s easier to attend meetings if you know when they’re being held.

Conversely, it is difficult to attend meetings if you don’t know when they’re being held.

I am lucky. When council decides to meet on the second Tuesday of the month instead of the third, I get an email from the Municipal Clerk’s Office telling me the meeting has been changed. Most citizens do not get emails from the Municipal Clerk’s Office. So how are they to know the date of the meeting has changed? Well, in theory, they can consult the CBRM website.

But just a moment’s thought will reveal the flaw in that process: if you assume the meeting is being held the third Tuesday of the month, why would you check the website on the second Tuesday of the month? Are you supposed to check it every day? Just in case? Who has time for that?

And on a related note: why was this month’s meeting changed?

I got this notice on March 8:


I noted the date change of the meeting.

I later noted that Mayor Cecil Clarke missed this meeting.

Which makes me wonder: why was the date changed? Surely the Mayor knew, on Friday March 8, that he would be unable to attend a meeting on Tuesday, March 12?

I asked his spokesperson Sheilah MacDonald why he missed Tuesday’s meeting and she replied by email:

He had to go out of town for a meeting.

I emitted the silent scream I reserve for those moments when a spokesperson is unnecessarily mysterious about the comings and goings of a public official and asked an (admittedly saucy) followup question.

I asked if the Mayor was out of town attending this meeting:

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

MacDonald replied:

That is absolutely not the meeting he has scheduled.

He is away on municipal business.

I will note two things: one) “that is absolutely not the meeting he has scheduled” is not the same as “he is not attending that meeting.” And two) she still can’t bring herself to tell me where the mayor is going or what kind of meeting he’s attending even though she’s admitted it’s “municipal business.”

So I asked again, because I am deeply annoying: Can you tell me what is the nature of his “municipal business.” And I pointed out that “municipal business” can hardly be a secret.

At which point MacDonald finally broke down and spilled some of the (utterly non-controversial) beans:

Mayor Clarke’s meeting was regarding the Municipality’s deferred capital budget. Council was aware of the reason for his absence. He left yesterday afternoon and returned late last night.

So no, definitely not a secret but inappropriate to comment on details and results of that meeting until he has had the opportunity to report back to Council.

Of course, I didn’t ask him to “comment on details and results” of his meeting. I asked, “Who is he meeting and where and what is it about?” And I still don’t know who he met or where he actually was (although Halifax seems like a reasonable bet) because I surrendered at this point and declared MacDonald the winner of this round.

But I still have questions, like, why schedule your meeting in Halifax the same day as the (already rescheduled) council meeting?

A person would be forgiven for thinking it had something to do with Tory Tuesday.


Front Burner

Jayme Poisson (Source: CBC

Jayme Poisson (Source: CBC

Do you know the CBC podcast Front Burner with host Jayme Poisson?

It’s the Mother Corp’s response to The Daily, the sometimes informative/sometimes crazy-making daily podcast from The New York Times.

Each Front Burner episode features Poisson, a former investigative reporter with the Toronto Star, having a calm and informative conversation with a guest in which she “leads you deep into the narratives shaping Canada and the world.”

If you, like me, can’t stand those television news “panels” (the CBC version of which always seems to consist of three paid political consultants and a journalist), then you’ll like Front Burner. Nobody yells. Nobody talks over anyone else. It’s civilized without being dull.

And it’s also given me an idea for a podcast of my own: Back Burner, in which I will lead you deep into the narratives that are occupying the place in my brain that should be occupied by far more important narratives. (Sample theme: in that elite university bribery scandal currently rocking the United States, what happens when a kid who’s never rowed before finds themselves in a boat with some of the best college athletes in the US?)





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