Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Caveat emptor

So, this happened:


Ian Scott elaborated on the lawsuit in an interview with Ryan Ross of Charlottetown’s Guardian newspaper (also part of the SaltWire empire) saying:

“If your counterparty is not being honest or is hiding things, there’s a lot of stuff that you can’t really determine in the due diligence,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

Scott said Transcontinental’s actions made earnings look better than they were.

“So, we paid more for it than we should have,” he said.

I’m trying really hard to take this seriously but I can’t stop laughing.

“Due diligence” doesn’t mean asking for a bunch of information from your counterparty and trusting it’s all accurate. Due diligence means asking for a bunch of information from your counterparty and evaluating its accuracy for yourself. But there’s more:

He also said the conditions of some equipment and operations, such as printing presses, were “deplorable”.

“Our due diligence teams weren’t permitted, in some cases, to review that equipment before, so we ended up with some challenges there,” Scott said.

Yeah, when your due diligence team isn’t permitted to see the equipment you’re buying, you probably shouldn’t buy it.

On Friday, Transcontinental announced that it may file a counter-suit on the grounds that SaltWire failed to fulfill its payment obligations and was in breach of the sales contract. This should make an entertaining few days in court, if any of it ever reaches a court.

Personally, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall as the SaltWire C-Suite weighed the possibility of recouping some of the millions they spent buying Transcontinental’s papers and presses against the certainty of looking like rubes by filing this suit. For the sake of the people whose livelihoods depend on them, I hope they made the right choice.


Stock responses

Common periwinkles. (Photo courtesy of Seashore to Forest Floor

Common periwinkles. (Photo courtesy of Seashore to Forest Floor)

From a Thursday CBC story:

A shrimp processing plant in Arichat, N.S., is going to use some new federal and provincial funding to start processing sea snails.

Wayne Fowlie, plant manager at Premium Seafoods in Arichat, said the $96,000 will be used to purchase equipment needed to process the “underutilized species.”

The new facility has mainly processed shrimp. However, the shrimp fishery has recently declined.

Northern shrimp were an “underutilized” species until Atlantic fishermen began “utilizing” them to replace the cod fishery, which had not just declined but collapsed thanks to what we might term “over-utilization.”

Now we’re going after the sea snails. For the sake of (maybe) 35 seasonal jobs. “Sustainable” is just not a word that comes to mind when discussing this province’s approach to its natural resources.

As if to drive this point home, the CBC also reported this week on the decline of Atlantic mackerel stocks — down 86% over the past 20 years according to a new Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) report:

An assessment by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says mackerel are in the “critical zone” where serious harm is occurring and recovery is threatened by overfishing.

Sometimes, you don’t even have to connect the dots to see what is wrong with the picture.



I listen to a lot of podcasts, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by the number of them I recommend in this space, but lately the advertising on them has been giving me the blues.

It seems every podcaster in North America is sleeping better than ever before on a mattress that came in a box, building a web page with Square Space, listening to books from Audible, hiring new help with ZipRecruiter (which I kept hearing as “Zippercritter”) or wiping spicy chipotle pan sauce from their chins after cooking a meal that — like the mattress — came in a box. (Probably a different box.)

They go on about the clothes they’re ordering online and the electric toothbrushes they’re ordering online and the razor blades they’re ordering online until I want to strangle myself with my headphone cords.

I have the option to fast-forward through the ads, but it’s difficult to do without missing the content I’m actually interested in. And, of course, the ads are the price I must pay for the content, since I only actually pay for one podcast (and I pay a little extra to get an ad-free version). If I had to pay for all the podcasts I listen to, I’d go broke.

But I think I could actually live with the ads if it weren’t the hosts who were doing them. Because I flat out don’t believe them when they tell me that the mattress/box meal/toothbrush that sponsors them just happens to be a wonderful product they’d be singing the praises of even if they weren’t being paid to. No sir, I don’t believe that at all. Which means my favorite podcast hosts are telling whoppers. Which is uncomfortable.

So here’s what I have decided to do: I will continue to listen to the ads but I won’t like them.

Thanks for listening.



The Kings Bay Plowshares 7

Speaking of podcasts, this week’s episode of Intercepted, hosted by journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept, features an interview with Carmen Trotta and Martha Hennessy, two of the activists who have become known as the “Kings Bay Plowshares 7.”

I first became aware of them thanks to Sean Howard, who told their story in the Spectator back in September 2018 (and provided an update a couple of months later.) If you want to understand the story, I highly recommend Sean’s pieces. But to summarize it briefly, the Seven are:

…a group of veteran Catholic pacifist activists facing draconian punishment for ‘committing’ acts of symbolic disarmament at the Kings Bay naval base in Camden County, Georgia, home to America’s Atlantic fleet of nuclear-armed Trident submarines.

Scahill’s interview with Trotta and Hennessy (the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement) is made especially interesting by his own connection to the story — his father had become “very politicized” by the social justice movement of the ’60s and got deeply involved in the Catholic Worker Movement. Scahill begins the segment (which starts just after the 45 minute mark in the episode) by interviewing his father.

It turns out Scahill knows Trotta and Hennessy and the other members of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (Patrick O’Neill, Elizabeth McAlister, Fr. Stephen Kelly and Clare Grady) personally. He describes them as “some of the best people that I have ever met” and states at the outset of the interview:

I’m not objective about this — I think these are amazing people.

Having listened to them speak, I tend to agree with him.


Ken Filkow Prize

This is what showed up when I googled "PEN Canada" so I decided to go with it.

This is what showed up when I googled “PEN Canada” so I decided to go with it.

Congratulations to Tim Bousquet of the Halifax Examiner who has been awarded PEN Canada’s Ken Filkow Prize for 2019! PEN Canada describes the $1,000 prize this way:

Named in memory of Kenneth A. Filkow, Q.C., a distinguished Winnipeg lawyer, former chair of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, and active member of PEN Canada’s Canadian Issues Committee, the prize celebrates champions of freedom of expression. The right to freedom of opinion and expression is protected under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and enshrined as a fundamental freedom in section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This prize is funded by Cynthia Wine and Philip Slayton.

It’s an interesting prize because it recognizes that anyone can champion freedom of expression — “authors, journalists, public servants, scientists, professors, business people, editors, publishers, organizations, and concerned citizens” — in short, anyone whose “work has advanced freedom of expression in Canada.”

That said, a number of its past winners have been writers, including Raihan Abir, the author and blogger who left Bangladesh for Canada in 2015 after the murders of his colleagues at the “freethinking website Mukto-Mona” by religious extremists; Desmond Cole, whose writing about racial profiling by Toronto police gained him a following, but whose activism in the name of racial justice cost him his column at the Toronto Star; and Justin Brake who, as a reporter for The Independent, covered an onsite protest against the Muskrat Falls development and faced criminal and civil charges for his efforts. (Brake’s story had a happy ending — which is good news for all journalists in this Country.)

In short, Tim is in fine company — and the award is well deserved.





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