Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things


The Cape Breton Post is reporting changes to Nova Scotia legislation that will lift restrictions preventing foreign investors from holding more than 25% of voting shares in Emera, the parent company of Nova Scotia Power Inc (NSPI).

The other change “reinforces Emera’s existing commitment to maintain its head office in Nova Scotia.”

More about these changes in a moment, but first, a sidebar about the photo the paper chose to illustrate the story with (or more precisely, the caption under that photo):

Source: Cape Breton Post

Source: Cape Breton Post

I wasn’t sure what MacLellan’s 2001 graduation from CBU had to do with the legislative changes, so I went to his official MLA website to see what he’d studied and whether it was relevant to finance or power generation but his official bio doesn’t make mention of any education at all, so that’s helpful.

As for the actual story, basically, if you thought privatizing our power company was a great idea, then you’ll love letting foreign investors own it. (No one investor may own more than 15% of Emera but if you think that would stop a wily investor from owning bigger chunk if they wanted to then you don’t know your wily investors.)


Nova Scotia Loud

When I heard the guy from Newfoundland and the guy from Saskatchewan and the guy “with Cape Breton roots” who started are Nova Scotia Proud had been robocalling people about the Long-Gun Registry, my first thought was:  I have finally achieved my dream of time travel!

My second was that this time traveling wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

But then I went to the Nova Scotia Proud website (which is a very young, kind of awkward website) and discovered that they are, indeed, agitating against the Long-Gun Registry (all the emphasizing is theirs):

The previous federal government did the right thing by scraping [sic] the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry.

However, new reforms from Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are using legal loop-holes to create a back-door registry that will punish law-abiding gun owners.

Gun laws should focus on stopping criminals, not law-abiding citizens like hunters and farmers.

That’s why we are saying NO to a long-gun registry.

SIGN our petition and SHARE if you are with us:

The government is bringing back the Long-Gun Registry? How did I miss that?

Well, as it turns out, I didn’t, because it’s not. And I am not even going to bother explaining what they actually are doing because frankly, I had no problem with the long-gun registry in the first place and wouldn’t care if they did bring it back. (And anyway, the HuffPo explains all here.)

But I would like to point out that while Nova Scotia Proud continues to insist it is not affiliated with any political party, this “back-door registry” stuff was started by the federal Conservatives back in 2018 when Bill C-71, which includes the changes, was first introduced. In fact, the Conservatives had petitions of their own. HuffPo noted at the time that the Tories were:

…already mining data on the issue by asking Facebook followers to show support for stopping “Trudeau’s new long-gun registry.” The information provided, including names, email addresses, phone numbers, and postal codes, will feed the party database and no doubt be used to solicit donations or volunteers.

Nova Scotia Proud is equally talented at the old data mining. Signing their petition requires you to give them a fair amount of your contact information (which, when you think about it, is kind of funny — they are in effect creating a registry of people who don’t like registries):

And of course, the subject is generating some pretty cerebral debate on the question of gun control — like this comment from a Facebook user (whose profile picture is a photo of Jerusalem labeled “Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel” superimposed over a photo of her dog):

Like someone already said….”Gun laws should focus on stopping criminals, not law-abiding citizens like hunters and farmers.”… My take on it is that they are trying to disarm the population for their benefits of a one global order..

I wonder what the dog makes of it?


Be a prepper?

It struck me the other day that the things I think I’m doing to try to prevent climate change (stop laughing) — cutting out plastic, wasting less water, burning less heating oil, walking more — are not going to prevent climate change. It’s too late for that.

No, these things are more like training for a future where wasting water and driving unnecessarily will be viewed very badly by society — and I don’t mean “spitting-on-the-sidewalk” badly, I mean “drunk-driving” badly.

But it also struck me that those who argue that putting a higher price on gas or heating oil won’t cause people to modify their behavior weren’t around for or don’t remember the oil crisis of the 1970s. It’s one of the things I remember best about the 1970s (along with Jim Rockford, jokes on US sitcoms about “Bicentennial Minutes” and Participaction commercials featuring annoyingly healthy 60-year-old Swedes — the 70s were fun times, millennials).

Heating oil was suddenly much more expensive, so we turned our furnace down and put sweaters on. (This is the part where I’m supposed to add, “And we were happy doing it” but I don’t really remember how I felt about it, I just remember doing it — although if I was watching The Rockford Files, I was probably pretty happy.)

People will do things to save money, especially if those things aren’t outrageously inconvenient.

The worry will be, as it always is, for those who don’t have much money to begin with.

My thinking on these issues is a work in progress, so where I should now provide a pithy conclusion I will instead end abruptly.



“Tartanry” is defined by the Collins English dictionary as, “the excessive use of tartan and other Scottish imagery to produce a distorted sentimental view of Scotland and its history.”

It’s a word I learned this morning as I was doing some (very light) research in response to news out of Halifax that the House of Assembly has adopted an Official Tartan.

Why, in 2019, when we need to be welcoming people from all over the world, we’ve decided to double-down on our Scottishness is beyond the scope of this item, but pictures of MLAs decked out in kilts reminded me of a Scottish history course I took in university and my first understanding that “clan” tartans owe more to Sir Walter Scott and 19th century English Kings than to ancient Scottish history.

I’m quoting the British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper of course. I read his 1983 essay, “The Invention of Tradition: The Highland Tradition of Scotland,” (one of seven essays in The Invention of Tradition, a collection edited by Eric Hobsawm and Trevor Ranger) and my attitude toward highland dress has never been the same. That’s true even though I’ve since come to understand that Trevor-Roper was a conservative Englishman with his own agenda — he believed in British union and his debunking of Scottish historical myths was, at least in part, about undermining Scottish independence. (He also suffered grievous damage to his reputation for authenticating the Hitler diaries, but that, obviously, is another story.)

I can also appreciate the view that Scottish mythologizing — compared to, say, pre-WWII German mythologizing — is pretty harmless and that it may have contributed to Scotland’s peaceful modern history and that it was great for tourism and the textile industry and that things that started in the 1800s ARE traditions in 2019.

And yet…I still think Trevor-Roper’s critique of tartan (inevitably described as “gleeful”) is valid — and it helped me focus on what I think are the more valuable “trappings” of Scottishness — the language and the music.

It also led me, this morning, to a piece of modern Scottish mythologizing with which I will end. It’s a quote from that great Scot, Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons:

Now, the kilt was only for day-to-day wear. In battle, we donned a full-length ball gown covered in sequins. The idea was to blind your opponent with luxury.



In what I can only describe as a piercing glance into the obvious, the headline on the front page of the Cape Breton Post today reads:

CBRM facing challenges

Yes, the preliminary findings of a $219,000 “viability study” by the consultancy Grant Thornton are that we not only face significant challenges, we have been facing them since amalgamation in 1995.

I think this whole “viability study” thing is analogous to a man coming into an emergency room having just lost a leg and the doctor saying, “I’ll order some tests and we’ll get to the bottom of this.”

Sometimes, though, it’s not enough just to know what’s wrong — you need the piece of paper to prove it.


Blowing Own Horn Dept:

Joan Baxter. (Photo by Sarah Boland)

The nominations for this year’s Atlantic Journalism Awards are out and Joan Baxter’s “Fool’s Gold” series, which the Spectator had the honor of publishing in conjunction with the Halifax Examiner, has been nominated in the Excellence in Digital Journalism: Enterprise/Longform category.

You can read “Fool’s Gold” starting here, with Part I and I strongly encourage you to do so, if you haven’t already.

My congratulations to Joan for this much deserved recognition of her quality work!

(And to me and Tim for being smart enough to publish it. If she wins, I’ll be able to call the Spectator a “publisher of award-winning journalism.” If she doesn’t, I’ll be able to call the Spectator “a publisher of excellent longform journalism.” Either way, I win.)




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