Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Canderel abandons SHIP?

Has Canderel, the Montreal-based real estate development firm founded by Jonathan Wener, cut its ties with Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP), the firm with the “exclusive” contract to promote a Port of Sydney container terminal?

Wener is no longer listed on the “leadership” page of the Novaporte website maintained by SHIP. Here’s how that page looked on 26 September 2019 (thanks, Wayback Machine):

Novaporte Leadership 26 September 2019

And here’s how it looked on 15 October 2020:


Canderel — through a subsidiary, Canderel Maritime Ventures Inc — was listed as a partner in both SHIP and Sydney Harbour Investment Partners LP, the limited partnership vehicle established for the container port project on 31 October 2017.

Here’s the entry for Sydney Harbour Investment Partners LP I found in Quebec’s Registraire des entreprises in November 2017:

And here’s the entry I found on 15 October 2020:
SHIP LP, 15 October 2020

Wener’s firm was supposed to market and build the 2,000-acre logistics park (Novazone) adjacent to the Sydney container terminal, work he characterized (during Sydney Harbour Ports Day in 2016) as doing something “great for Canada,” and helping Nova Scotians achieve “the prosperity they deserve.”

On 12 December 2016, Canderel facilitated this gathering in its Montreal offices (the photo and accompanying press release were still posted on the CBRM website as of October 15):

PHOTO BELOW: Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP) met with Membertou Chief Terry Paul, Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny, Ports America, Port of Sydney and Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) in Montreal on December 12, 2016, to discuss future development of Novazone Logistics Park, located adjacent to Novaporte’s deep water container terminal. Joining the meeting is SHIP’s International Advisor, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, 20th Prime Minister of Canada.

PICTURED L-R: Chief Terry Paul, Peter Ford (Chief Strategy Officer at Ports America), Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien, Chief Leroy Denny, Albert Barbusci of SHIP, Daniel Peritz (Senior Vice-President of Canderel).

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – The head office of Montreal’s Canderel was the setting for a historic meeting with key partners in Port of Sydney’s Novaporte and Novazone project.

“We are seeing the positive progress of a Cape Breton-led development effort through the municipality and First Nations partners, the development team in Montreal and our global associates,” said Mayor Cecil Clarke of Cape Breton Regional Municipality. “With our new terminal operators, Ports America, the Port of Sydney is in a strong position to realize this transformative opportunity.”


For the record: Ports America is no longer included in the list of Novaporte’s partners either (although AECOM, the engineering firm, is listed twice.)

Here’s Wener on the front page of the Cape Breton Post in September 2017, announcing that Membertou was about to seek federal funding to develop 250 acres of the logistics park:

Wener was still in the mix in November 2017, when Barbusci and Mayor Cecil Clarke strong-armed an option and development deal for the container port project through council. In fact, his involvement was paraded as a sign of the project’s viability. So what are we to think if he’s gone? Especially given Barbusci’s recent declaration that everything is ready to go on the port project save rail.

Wener retired as CEO of Canderel in February 2019, but retains his role as chairman. He is also the Chancellor at Concordia University which recently established — thanks to a $10 million donation from Wener — the Jonathan Wener Centre for Real Estate which will be “a hub for teaching and research on commercial and residential real estate.” [Bites tongue, says nothing.]


Dispelling Disseminating Misinformation

Jerry Gillis, the chair of the Port of Sydney Development Corporation (PSDC) board, has taken to the editorial pages of the Cape Breton Post yet again to “dispel” the “disinformation” about the board that has been spread “over the last couple of years” by unnamed perps (but I think we all know who he’s talking about).

It’s been a long time since I played “Okay, stop” but Gillis’ op-ed cries out for a round, so roll tape:

Jerry Gillis LinkedIn


The Corporation was established in 2015 to replace the former Sydney Ports Corporation. It is a self-sustaining, not-for-profit community corporation which includes an extended mandate for commercial business, and the marketing and development of the Sydney Harbour. The board has no responsibility for container operations but serves as an advocate for any port-related initiatives that contribute to the economic prosperity of Cape Breton.

The board of directors reports annually to the mayor and council of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and is responsible for establishing the policies and perspectives of the port, including, but not limited to major policy issues, financial issues, and the hiring of the CEO.

Okay, stop

Seriously? You’re just going to gloss over the fact that for the first TWO YEARS of its existence — from 2015 to 2017 — the port board didn’t just “report” to the mayor and council” IT WAS MADE UP OF THE MAYOR AND THREE COUNCILORS.

Sorry, I’m yelling, and you’re so calm, even when you’re saying the darnedest things.

Do you think your readers — who are interested enough in the port board to be your readers — have forgotten that whole “interim” board thing? The Articles of Association with the magical “notwithstanding” clause that allowed Mayor Cecil Clarke, Deputy Mayor Eldon MacDonald and Councilors Clarence Prince and Jim MacLeod and Kevin Saccary to sit on the interim board even though elected officials were not supposed to sit on the port board? That allowed them to sit there indefinitely?

Do you think people have forgotten the port “developments” that took place on the interim board’s watch? The sale of Archibald’s Wharf (final approval 15 May 2015), the decision to hire Albert Barbusci as our “exclusive” port promoter/developer (16 June 2015), the decision to buy Sydport land to lease to McKeil Marine (16 June 2015), the expenditure of thousands of dollars on consultants’ reports and trips to China?

And the board may indeed be responsible for the “hiring of the CEO” on paper, but the current CEO, Marlene Usher, was hired BEFORE THE CORPORATION ACTUALLY EXISTED. So she wasn’t hired by the board — she was hired by council after an in camera meeting and without a job competition.

And as far as the port being “self-sustaining,” half of the CEO’s salary is paid by ACOA and during her first, three-year, term, the other half came out of the CBRM CAO’s budget. Moreover, the board is still paying off the debt it owes the CBRM for renting the cruise pavilion and marine terminal.

And what history of the port board is complete without mention of the great resignation of 2019? The entire board executive quit LAST YEAR and you don’t think it rates a mention in this Port of Sydney truth-telling exercise?

As for the board’s having “no responsibility for container operations” in the Port of Sydney, of course it doesn’t — THERE ARE NO CONTAINER OPERATIONS.

I don’t know how long I can sustain this.


The board consists of an incredibly talented and selfless group of directors with extensive knowledge and expertise in various disciplines including accounting, engineering, legal, logistics, marketing, business, and commerce. There is also representation from the First Nation Communities of Membertou and Eskasoni, who bring unique business and corporate skills to the table. The term of appointment is for three years with the possibility of a second term subject to their satisfactory performance. Board members do not receive any compensation for their time and effort. It is purely a voluntary board composed of persons who believe and want to make a difference in contributing to the economic prosperity of Cape Breton.

The board has been extremely active since its inception in 2015 which included the development of a critical strategic plan as well as numerous initiatives in growing the cruise business.

Okay, stop.

Does it occur to you that if, perhaps, the board were to publish the minutes of its meetings, the public might have a better appreciation for all its hard work?

The permanent board, when it was finally put in place in 2017, voted immediately NOT to publish the minutes of its meetings (something the interim board had actually done, albeit, half-heartedly).

If you published your minutes, we’d know, for example, how you came to decide that spending $100,000 on a helipad was a good idea. We’d know how much public money you’re spending on those ubiquitous “Ready for Rail” ads that have been screaming at me every time I read the Cape Breton Post online. And how much you spent on the glossy “100,000 Cape Breton Voices Shout Out Speak.” brochure. None of this comes cheap, are you dipping into the Navigational Aids fund again?

I actually can’t sustain this.

But there is one final piece of information I’d like to address, Gillis says:

To mitigate losses resulting from the pandemic and the subsequent close-down of cruise traffic, senior management voluntarily took a pay cut…

Again, this is information the public would know if you published your minutes.


Operation Cry Wolf

Back on October 8, the CBC reported that a letter (“distributed as hard copy to several people”) purporting to be from the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forest and claiming that eight grey wolves had been reintroduced to Kings County in August was a fake.

Bob Petrie, director of wildlife with the department, called the letter “mystifying.”

Next came news that the letter was the work army reservists at Camp Aldershot in Kentville, NS. The CBC reported:

“It definitely wasn’t for public consumption,” said Lt. Lance Wade, a public affairs officer with an army reserve unit in Halifax. “It was purely for training purposes.”

Wade said he does not know why the unit chose wolves as a topic in their training.

“It potentially seemed quite innocuous at the time, but anyway, seems to have grown some legs,” he said.

Nothing to see here folks, just army reservists faking Lands and Forest letterhead and making up stories about wolves.

It took David Pugliese at Postmedia to get the actual story and it’s decidedly less “innocuous”:

A letter from the Nova Scotia government sent out to residents to warn about a pack of wolves on the loose in the province was forged by Canadian military personnel as part of a propaganda training mission that went off the rails…

The training also involved using a loudspeaker to generate wolf sounds, the Canadian Forces confirmed to this newspaper.

The fake letter was part of new skills being tested by the military as it hones its expertise for launching propaganda missions at home and abroad. The letter was developed by information warfare specialists with the Halifax Rifles, a reserve unit.

And even by military propaganda standards, this was apparently a bit much:

Emma Briant, a professor at Bard College in the U.S. who specializes in researching military propaganda, said what the Canadian Forces did was a major violation of ethics. “This is way over the top,” Briant said. “It’s a very dangerous path when you start targeting your own public with false information and trying to manipulate them.”

Briant said the deception has nothing to do with wolves; it was likely an exercise in the testing [of] the military’s skills in trying to manipulate the population with false information. “You start a rumour about wolves on the loose and then you see how the public reacts,” she added.

Under what circumstances would it suit the army to convince Nova Scotians there were wolves on the loose in the Annapolis Valley? (My mind goes straight to Public Health — maybe it’s actually a plan to stop little girls from visiting their grandmothers if we get a second wave of COVID and “Stay the blazes home” isn’t working.)

I’m joking, but I’m actually completely creeped out. Nova Scotia is making headlines for all the wrong reasons these days.



Drawing of a ballot boxI think, given ongoing reports of problems with the CBRM electronic voting system — people receiving more than one PIN or PINs for the wrong district or PIN letters being returned to sender  — it’s worth reiterating what Naomi Shelton of Elections Nova Scotia (ENS) told me about the Nova Scotia Registry of Electors  — the Voters’ List –which ENS compiles and which the CBRM chooses to use for municipal elections instead of conducting its own enumeration.

ENS, when it can’t be sure whether an entry is a duplicate or not — whether, say Dave Williams and David Williams of the same address are the same person — will err on the side of inclusion and leave both names on the list.

That’s because all ENS is sending out is voter information cards. Said Shelton:

It is better for an elector to get two voter information cards than for an elector to be left of the list.

In an all-electronic election, though, it’s more problematic: the elector is receiving two PINs and can potentially cast two votes.

I asked Shelton if the calculation was different when voting is being done electronically and she said:

That’s a question for the municipality.

And so it is. I wish someone had asked it when we were opting, blithely, for fully electronic elections.