Compelling Journalism in the Maritimes Since 1989 has a new home.

As he prepares to mark his 30th year as a newsman, Nova Scotian journalist Andrew Macdonald is taking the next step in the logical evolution of his news career.

Compelling Journalism in the Maritimes Since 1989, has a new home at www.TheMacdonaldNotebook.ca, as Andrew launches into media ownership.

The weekend news website will cost $3.50 a weekend – the price of a decent cup of java on Saturday mornings, with business, political and cultural affairs reporting with a heavy dose of Inside Politics.

Andrew has been a Halifax business and political journalist, who frequently talks to the billionaires in the Atlantic, but is also comfortable chatting with fish plant workers in the region.

He has interviewed prime ministers and premiers, as well as business titans, the movers and shakers of the region.

If you enjoyed the popular Macdonald Report the last two years, you will really like the Macdonald Notebook.

Erin O’Toole, a candidate to head the national Tory party recently remarked: “The Movers and Shakers read you, Andrew”.

With a knack for business and politico reporting, Andrew will bring original story content from the Maritimes to his new journalistic endeavor.

Sign up at www.TheMacdonaldNotebook.ca today – Compelling Journalism in the Maritimes Since 1989 has a new home.

Now based in Halifax, Andrew began his career in the news trenches in Cape Breton in 1989.

With David Bentley, Andrew helped to re-launch allNovaScotia in 2002 – and worked there until 2014, as its Chief Reporter, when Bentley tapped him to co-found The Macdonald Report.

Now Andrew takes his three decade news career into media ownership with launch of  TheMacdonaldNotebook.ca

 

The Life & Times Of Union Boss Peter Greer

This spring The Macdonald Notebook took the time out to reflect on the incredible and remarkable life of a mentor and father figure to me, who recently shuffled off his mortal coil.

Halifax carpenter’s union boss Peter Greer, died at 64 – not old by today’s standards. At his April memorial in a church hall at West Dublin, on the LaHave River, hundreds of friends and colleagues gathered to remember him and celebrate his life, including former NDP leader Maureen MacDonald, and Jo-anne MacRae, chief of staff to Liberal Halifax MP Andy Fillmore.

First he was a devote father to millennial sons George and Jack Greer, and dedicated three decade long husband to corporate lawyer Alison Strachan.

He was also a close friend of mine, and I will forever cherish his wicked sense of humour – he possessed that necessary human trait to laugh at his own foibles.

Peter would give me life advice, and a holding hand as we both faced our life triumphs, as well as challenges, and tribulations head on, sometimes successfully, sometimes met by failure, and remounting from our mistakes, always learning our lessons.

Peter would relish me with details of his top union boss posting, a first rate carpenter’s union leader, as he regaled me in his dedication to his men and proud of his women membership, too.

He never flinched from going to see a contractor boss – they always wear the white hard hat – in person, at the job site, or over the phone, forever lobbying for the rights of his union brethren.

Union leaders have always played a prominent part of my 30-year news career – which began in job pressed Cape Breton, as a CIGO radio reporter, where I would often touch base with a dedicated union president, whether at a pulp and paper mill, or at fish plants.

As a cub reporter I met folk such as fiery and gifted orator, union fish plant leader Larry Wark, who like Peter was the epitome of a union boss.

Peter and I laughed about our friendship – after all he was a union leader and when I befriended him I was a financial journalist covering, and championing the corporate world at allNovaScotia.com, as it’s long running Chief Reporter (from its 2002 re-launch to 2014, the year I co-founded The Macdonald Report, which I recently left to found TheMacdonaldNotebook.ca).

But Peter was a union man with great respect for the other side.

“In my last conversation with Peter, he mentioned that he had always strove for what was a fair and reasonable resolution of management – union issues whether at the collective bargaining table or over an interpretation of the collective agreement or anything in-between”, his wife, Alison tells The Macdonald Notebook.

Peter’s union men and women – he was a big promoter of women in union ranks – worked on many of the major construction projects in Nova Scotia’s mainland, including contracts up to the size of $40-million.

Many multi-residential projects in Halifax had Peter’s union folk working on them.

One of his proudest union accomplishments, was establishing a school to train young carpenters, located in Lower Sackville. He also had the vision to acquire a former TD Bank branch, to house his union HQ, on Dutch Village Road, near the Giant Tiger outlet.

After buying the branch, the bank vault was removed by a crew cutting a gaping hole in the roof, and lifting it out by crane.

A son of Truro, his dad was the Hub Town’s respected pharmacist.

A world traveller, Peter in recent years took his first son, George on an fun-filled adventure to Sweden.

Peter was by training a carpenter – he also built his own kitchen cabinet, out of wood with copper trimming, that has stood the test of time – who in adult life rose to become a top union boss, in what is often a rough and tumble industry.

Long before it became fashionable, and gentrified, 30-years-ago, Peter located his primary family home in the inner-city, seeing the potential of the neighborhood.

At the time of his death, he owned four properties, including a home in Lunenburg’s New Town, which served as a weekend get away from the city, and an apartment building, with three flats, in Truro.

In Conversation with Federal Tory Contender Maxime Bernier

By Andrew Macdonald

Before the stunning departure of Kevin O’Leary from the national Tory race, backers of candidate Maxime Bernier were thinking they’d take the May leadership convention on the second ballot.

A total of 259,310 Tory membership cards were sold across Canada, and Bernier’s camp believed they were in first spot, with O’Leary, a former CBC Dragons’ Den panelist in second spot.

Now that has changed, with O’Leary endorsing Bernier. O’Leary sold about 35,000 cards across the nation – and Bernier sold 40,000 cards.

With O’Leary out of the race, now the Bernier camp is telling The Macdonald Notebook that their man could take the leadership contest on the first ballot.

There is word that contenders Chris Alexander and Andrew Saxton will soon drop out of the race, and also endorse Bernier.

I caught up with Bernier when he toured the Maritimes last week. He was drawing large crowds, even in the Sydney backyard of fellow leadership contender Lisa Raitt.

Bernier’s folk suggest he is the best challenger to take over 100 French or ridings across Canada where Francophones are the majority.

That would include making the Tory party a serious challenger among the 78 seats in vote-rich Quebec, where Bernier serves as an MP, giving him a solid base when voters federally go to the polls in 2019.

As O’Leary stated when he dropped out, Quebec is to Canada the way Florida is to America when it comes to a specific region dominating an electoral outcome.

One top tenet of Bernier’s campaign policies is to remove a regulated dairy industry, known as supply side management.

He’s the only Tory contender to adopt that policy, putting him on the same page as U.S. president Donald Trump, who has also been vocal against Canada’s supply management regulations governing the dairy industry.

Trump believes the regulated Canadian dairy regulations hurt Wisconsin dairy farmers.

For his part, Bernier calls the removal of regulations a “freedom policy,” and says it is resonating with card-carrying Tories.

“I am the only candidate who is speaking for consumers,” Bernier tells The Macdonald Notebook.

“They are paying twice the amount for dairy and eggs,” he claims. “It is unfair for Canadian consumers. They just have to cross the border and know a dozen of eggs is 95 cents and in Canada it is about two dollars.”

“That is because of supply management, and I want to abolish that so consumers will save $2.6 billion dollars a year,” he says.

“That (equates) to $500 each year for a (single) Canadian consumer.”

On Trump’s criticism of supply management, “he is right on that,” but he adds Canadian poultry and egg producers should have access to the American market. “If we want to support our dairy and egg producers to export to the U.S., let’s have a deal, let’s put that on the table, for more free trade.”

He says he is willing to negotiate dairy products with Trump, as long as Trump drops his call to slap Canadian softwood lumber with a 25 per cent tariff, which Bernier says will only hurt the U.S. citizen building a home in America.

“Let’s have more free trade.”

Bernier spoke to The Macdonald Notebook before O’Leary dropped out of the race.

Loblaw Inks Exclusive Renewal Contract With Hope Blooms

By Andrew Macdonald

Mark Boudreau, an exec with Loblaw Company-owned Atlantic Superstore, which is based in Halifax, reports an extended contract to exclusively retail Hope Blooms salad dressing has just been reached.

It comes at a pivotal time in the history of the nine-year-old salad dressing company, which trains inner-city kids in Halifax about working life, and provides them with bursaries for university.

“We worked with the kids to help them develop a growth strategy,” says Boudreau of the arrangement which sees Loblaw return 100 per cent sales from the bottles to Hope Blooms.

A bottle of salad dressing with herbs grown in a year-round garden centre in the North End costs $8 at Loblaw, and the profit margin is $2 per bottle. Some of the young participants grow the herbs, while others help to retail it, and yet more get involved in the manufacturing process.

“Again, for us this is not just about selling dressings, it’s about empowering kids,” says Boudreau.

“That is why we think it’s so important as part of our commitment to provide mentoring on merchandising, marketing and helping them build the skills they need to be successful,” Boudreau tells TheMacdonald Notebook.ca. He calls it a very special partnership.

“Hope Blooms is currently at a critical point in their growth. With success comes growing pains and they are struggling to meet the demands of having more students interested in the program, helping to support the over 100 Syrian families who have moved into the neighbourhood, and of course the great programming for the kids,” he notes.

He said that is why Arlene Dickenson (CBC’s Dragon Den panelist) has agreed to be keynote speaker at the Hope Blooms gala at the end of June.

“The kids at Hope Blooms have given so much to this community, and now they need our help,” says Boudreau, who is in charge of selling corporate tables at the event. He can be reached at his email address mark.boudreau@loblaw.ca

The North End Halifax company graduated its first pupil last year from the organization, and paid $2,000 for him to enrol at University of Toronto where he is studying commerce. The plan is for him to eventually return and become CEO of Hope Blooms when 60-year-old founder Jessie Jollymore retires.

Jollymore’s background is as a dietician and diabetes worker at various hospitals.

Four other youth will go off to university in September, and Hope Bloom will provide each with a $2,000 bursary.

Atlantic Superstore sells the salad dressing bottles for $8 a pop, and has sold 15,000 bottles since stocking it on the shelve at four outlets, beginning in 2015. Last year, it increased the store complement to a total of eight Atlantic Superstores in Halifax Regional Municipality.

Atlantic Superstores in HRM selling the product are on Joseph Howe Drive, Barrington Street, Portland Street, Bedford, Quinpool Superstore, Young Street, Braemar and Bayers Lake.

Additionally, in the fall the bottles are also retailed at Seaport Farmer’s Market, and there is now a plan for Cape Breton grocery stores to carry the product, Boudreau tells The Macdonald Notebook.

Scotiabank executive Craig Thompson, boss at regional offices in Halifax, has also just joined the board of directors at Hope Blooms as chairman.

The bank has been a financial sponsor of Hope Blooms for the last couple of years.

Thompson is also on the board of United Way, and chairs the board of the Canadian Centre for Ethics & Public Affairs, which is a joint venture of Atlantic School of Theology and St. Mary’s University.

Thompson oversees 140 Scotiabank branches in the Atlantic, including 53 in its founding province.

“One of our key priorities at the Hope Bloom board is to get core funding in place,” he says.

“I think because we had success with (donations of $10,000) from four CBC Dragons’ Den, and we are sold at eight (metro Halifax) Loblaw stores, people mistakenly believe funding for Hope Blooms is stable. It is not,” says Thompson.

“We need core funding in place. Jessie and another staffer are the only two paid staff. Jessie spends a lot of time writing fundraising proposals but her time is better spent with the youth, running educational programs,” he adds.

“So we need to get core funding in place, that is priority number one. We’re campaigning for funds with people in the community who are philanthropic, and we have a focus on youth at risk.”

There are 55 youth involved in the program, from five to 18 years of age, and Thompson says raising funds is important to prepare Hope Blooms for the retirement of Jollymore.

“We have a responsibility to make sure they are taken care of whether Jessie is there or not.”

104 HWY Fire Chief Calls Twinning Announcement ‘Fantastic’

By Andrew Macdonald

Barney’s River fire chief Joe MacDonald says heavy equipment could begin twinning a dangerous section of Trans Canada Highway 104 within a year and a half.

On the eve of an anticipated spring vote, Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan opted not to use highway tolls to pay for road work after hearing from the public.

Instead, the McNeil government has decided to spend $390-million, and also seek funds from federal Treasury Board minister Scott Brison, with a plan to twin four roads in the province.

Under the proposal, Hwy. 103 on the South Shore won’t be twinned to Bridgewater, but will be twinned from Tantallon to Hubbards.

That’s a big disappointment to South Shore motorists, where 24 people have died since 2009 on the busy highway section.

But Hwy. 104 will be twinned for nearly 40 kilometres between the outskirts of New Glasgow to Antigonish.

There will also be twinning on Hwy. 101 in the Valley, and a new twinned Burnside connector will open.

The twinned routes will be finished in seven years.

Fire Chief MacDonald, who has personally attended 14 fatalities on the 104 since 2009, calls the MacLellan news to twin the section “fantastic”.

The fire chief and his twinning committee garnered 15,000 petitions from motorists calling for a twinned route.

MacDonald says he reached the breaking point after responding to most of the 14 fatalities since 2009 and erected a billboard at his fire hall declaring “twinned highways save lives.”

The red fire hall is a familiar sight alongside Hwy. 104.

MacDonald has been at the forefront of the call for a twinned route, but is modest when asked if his advocacy made the difference.

He defers to his twinning committee for keeping the fight to twin the road, which he labels a “death trap.”

Thirty-five years ago, MacDonald lost a brother and sister-in-law in an accident near Marshy Hope on the 104.

In 2014, after he attended a car-transfer truck accident on the undivided 104, he began an online petition at www.change.org demanding the provincial government twin the highway, a route he calls among the most dangerous highways in Nova Scotia.

The 2014 accident jolted him to the core. A car crash had claimed the life of an ambitious teenage boy, excited to enroll at Memorial University in St. John’s the following fall.

The tragedy sparked MacDonald’s petition.

“Since 2009, there have been over 325 accidents with 14 fatalities to date, and these numbers continue to climb. We have had more than our share of calls along this stretch of highway,” says MacDonald.

“On Feb. 5, 2014, I reached my breaking point. This is enough, and something has to be done to fix this deadly stretch of highway. A young man just 17 years old dead on the Trans-Canada Highway in French River as result of a collision with a tractor trailer and then learning he was starting university in Newfoundland the following fall,” said MacDonald in previous interview.

“Through my research of accidents in Nova Scotia, I’ve seen one very similar highway that was fixed by twinning. This was the Cobequid Pass that bypasses the Wentworth Valley – better known as ‘Death Valley’,” says MacDonald.

“The only way to solve the deaths and collisions on the highway is to build a twinned highway,” says MacDonald.

The province has studied recently tolls across Nova Scotia.

Transportation Minister MacLellan previously said without tolls, it would take $1.5 billion to build twinned highways on the 104, 103 on the South Shore and the 101 in the Annapolis Valley.

But the government has abandoned tolls, and will instead spend up to $800 million with cost shared funds from Ottawa to twin the roads.

Halifax-Citadel A Stepping Stone For High-Profile Tory?

By Andrew Macdonald

There is Tory political chatter that Rob Batherson’s decision to seek the party’s nod in Halifax-Citadel is about the future.

By running for the Jamie Baillie Tories in the expected spring vote, businessman Batherson, 41, positions himself as a future Tory leader should Baillie lose the election and resign, opening up the Progressive Conservative leadership.

Batherson is co-owner and president of Colour, the PR agency and government lobbyist, where he has worked the last dozen years. Once the election writ is dropped, he will take a leave of absence.

If the McNeil government wins a second mandate, Batherson’s run for the Tories could position him to capitalize on any PC leadership change, and perhaps catapult him into the premier’s job when the government changes.

Batherson downplays such talk, insisting he is offering now because he believes Baillie will lead the party to power in the anticipated spring election.

“No, this is about being part of Jamie Baillie’s team,” Batherson tells The Macdonald Notebook, adding he wants to be Halifax Citadel MLA. “Part two is being part of Jamie Baillie’s turnaround team.”

Batherson adds, “If I wasn’t confident that Jamie Baillie wasn’t going to be premier in the next election, I would not be putting my name on the ballot in Halifax Citadel.”

Baillie is excited to have Batherson offer in this election, and expects he will help build the Tory base in vote rich Halifax Regional Municipality.

Batherson is the second high profile Tory to seek the party’s nod, following in recent weeks HRM councillor Matt Whitman’s decision to run in Hammonds Plains.

If Baillie wins, both contenders would likely go into a Tory cabinet.

Batherson served as press secretary to former Tory Premier John Hamm between 1999 and 2005, and now sits on the Halifax International Airport Authority, representing Halifax City Hall.

He has served on Neptune Theatre’s board and is a past chairman of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. He also sits on the federal Conservative executive, representing Nova Scotia.

Halifax Citadel is held by Liberal Labi Kousoulis, who sits in the McNeil cabinet.

In recent years, the seat has also been held by the NDP, and the late great Jane Purves also once held the seat for the Tories.

Batherson grew up in Industrial Cape Breton, as well as Riverview, near Moncton and spent grades 6 to 12 in Lower Sackville.

He is proficient in French, and graduated with a PR degree from Mount St. Vincent University.

He plans to name a campaign team as early as next week.

Mulroney Building Contractor Picked as Former PM Backs Antigonish Catholic Church

By Andrew Macdonald

Construction of the Brian Mulroney policy school at Antigonish’s St. Francis Xavier University is going to be handled by the Toronto-based firm EllisDon, well placed sources tell TheMacdonaldNotebook.ca.

St FX is not confirming negotiations with EllisDon, but university president Kent MacDonald tells The Macdonald Notebook that negotiations are underway with an unspecified contractor.

MacDonald tells me that construction could begin in mid-May, with completion in 2019.

Brian Strecko is boss of EllisDon’s Halifax office, and the firm has been building the $500-million Nova Centre in downtown Halifax.

Other bidders for the Mulroney school included Pomerleau, in a joint bid with Donald MacDonald-owned Dora Construction and PCL Contractors.

Dora’s owner is from Antigonish, and many thought the company had the inside track because of its local roots.

The 75,000-square-foot Mulroney Hall will be built on the site of the current Nicholson Hall, which will be knocked down. Nicholson Tower will be renovated and Nicholson Annex may also possibly be razed.

University president MacDonald said Laval University in Quebec and St. Thomas, in New Brunswick, schools Mulroney also attended, were also courting Mulroney for a school, and there were “two or three other” universities eager to have the Mulroney school.

St FX won out because of Mulroney’s experience at the school, where he enrolled in the 1950s as a 16-year-old.

Mulroney, who was Conservative prime minister from 1984 to 1992, graduated from X in 1959. In his autobiography, the Quebec-born Mulroney described his Antigonish experience as “transformational”, and one that set him on the way to a leading corporate career, a distinguished law career, and then onto national politics.

The Macdonald Notebook sat down with St FX president MacDonald at his office at X for an hour-long chat this week.

MacDonald said the Mulroney school will provide an important message to current students at X, letting them know they, too, can thrive to become a future prime minister.

He says he is disappointed that Ottawa turned down a request for funding support for the new school, because the Trudeau government only finances science projects for universities.

MacDonald is optimistic Ottawa will eventually provide funding for the Mulroney project and he goes to Ottawa every six weeks or so to meet with the government’s MPs, including Sean Fraser, of Central Nova.

Mulroney and St FX raised $60-million for the project, which will see Mulroney Hall and the Mulroney Institute of Government built, says MacDonald. The actual Mulroney Hall will cost $45-million, and $10-million of the total amount raised will go to scholarships, including $1-million for aboriginal students.

“This endowment will open the doors to a STFX education for many students whose financial circumstances may otherwise have prevented it, a point Mr. Mulroney indicated is particularly important to him” says a university brochure highlighting the Mulroney Hall.

MacDonald says he won’t “tolerate cost overruns” on the project, which is being financed by private donors, and a $5 million Nova Scotia government grant.

Talented Halifax architect Benjie Nycum helped with preliminary designs for the new facility, but once a design build contract is signed, the contractor will be responsible for coming up with permanent architectural renderings, said MacDonald.

The Mulroney school will also include an exact replica of his prime minister’s office, right down to his former work desk, and include the Mulroney PM papers, including personal letters signed by former leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.

In recent years, Mulroney told me that his Antigonish school, which will teach students about global affairs, will attract leading former political leaders, such as the two George Bushes, Bill Clinton, and the U.K’s Tony Blair who will travel to the northeastern Nova Scotia town to talk to students, once the school opens in 2019.

Mulroney Hall construction will mean a cash bonanza to nearby St. Ninian’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. That’s because X is going to rent out space for classrooms at the church hall at St. Ninian’s, the seat of the bishop of the Church of Antigonish.

MacDonald’s university is going to pay the church $200,000 for rent, to occupy space in St. Ninian’s hall, for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.

MacKay Poised To Back Tory Contender O’Toole

By Andrew Macdonald

The word from my top Ottawa sources is that Tory political giant Peter MacKay is poised to endorse national Conservative leadership aspirant, Erin O’Toole.

Well-placed Tory operatives inform The Macdonald Notebook about this politico blockbuster development for O’Toole, who according to recent opinion polls is in fourth spot to replace Stephen Harper, who ruled as PM for a decade.

MacKay, the former Central Nova MP who served with distinction in the Harper regime as Foreign Affairs, Justice and Defence, minister, has not yet publicly endorsed O’Toole.

But, he did attend a recent Toronto reception, held for O’Toole, an Ontario MP, and second generation politician.

One thing stopping MacKay from publicly endorsing O’Toole, is that he has a strong connection to Lisa Raitt, another leadership contender, who served in the Harper cabinet.

Raitt is a daughter of Whitney Pier in Cape Breton.

She is likely to get MacKay’s second vote, in the ranked ballot system, with a convention set for May.

O’Toole has racked up an impressive list of Maritime supporters, including NS Tory leader Jamie Baillie, and former Tory premier John Hamm.

O’Toole lived in the now trendy Halifax Hydrostone between 1996 and 2003, when he flew Sea Kings out of Shearwater’s military base.

He was an original investor in 1997 when his former military colleague, Brian Titus, founded Garrison Brewery, now a well established craft brewer on the Halifax waterfront.

O’Toole’s Nova Scotia support reaches across the province. In Antigonish, he has the endorsement of the influential MacNeil clan, including Ian MacNeil, 50, now a Toronto banker, and his brother Greg MacNeil, also a Toronto political operative.

MacKay is close to former Tory PM Brian Mulroney, given his father, Elmer MacKay served in the Mulroney cabinet from 1984 to 1992 – and Mulroney once represented Central Nova briefly in 1983.

MacKay has legions of supporters in Atlantic Canada, stemming from his days as a Harper ‘super regional’ cabinet minister, and his backing of O’Toole will help the national leadership contender get votes from the region in a contest where every card- carrying Tory gets to vote for the leadership contender of their choosing.

Retired Prof Gary Brooks To Help Vet Judicial Appointments

By Andrew Macdonald

Retired Nova Scotian psychology professor Gary Brooks, who lives in Southend Halifax, has just been named to a panel to vet federal judicial appointments in Nova Scotia.

The Trudeau government named seven Nova Scotians this week to appraise future appointments to the bench in this province.

It’s a big signal that PM Justin Trudeau plans to remove partisan appointments to future Supreme Court of NS and the provincial Appeals Court postings.

Since the time of dawn, various federal governments have taken to the saying, ‘To the victor belongs the spoils’, with the Tory Harper regime, and the Liberal Chretien government only appointing lawyers to the bench who were active partisan foot soldiers.

The new panel will help advise the Justice minister on appointments.

The creation of a Judicial Advisory Committee (JAC) ostensibly will remove politics from judge appointments.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said the Liberal government “remains committed to appointing judges of the highest calibre who are representative of the diversity of our great country.”

She added, “That commitment is demonstrated by the Minister’s new Judicial Advisory Committee process for assessing applicants to the federally-appointed judiciary”.

“Our government engaged in extensive outreach to encourage applications to the JACs from women and minority groups, who together make up a strong majority of the members of the new JACs”.

There have been few patronage appointments in Nova Scotia under the Trudeau government, and various boards have gone unfilled since Trudeau took office in 2015.

For instance, there are four board vacancies at the Halifax Port Authority, and the sole appointee at the port was residential landlord Jim Spatz, who has given money to Liberals, Tories and NDP contenders.

The Atlantic seat on the Business Development Bank of Canada has been empty since 2015, when South Shore Tory Rick Perkins’ term with the federal bank expired.

The government calls its appointments “merit-based”, as opposed to partisan-based.

Brooks was a long standing professor at St. Francis Xavier University, popular among the students he taught – and always accompanied on campus by his bulldogs George and Ema. It was an era before professors at the Antigonish school were banned from bringing pets to the classrooms.

A grad of Mount Alison University in Sackville, N.B.,, where he first taught, Brooks retired to Halifax in 2005, occupying a century old house in the city’s leafy southend.

He has supported both Liberal and NDP challengers, and during the 2015 election he backed Grit Andy Fillmore, opening his spacious home for meet and greet receptions with Fillmore, who defeated the NDP’s Megan Leslie in Halifax.

Also known by the name Garland Brooks, he is an activist in the local gay community – and in recent years wed his partner Angus Campbell, an elders’ care boss.

The professor emeritus earned a Ph.D. from Queen’s University Belfast.

In 1971, he joined the Department of Psychology at X, where he taught for over 30 years, including serving as dean of arts.

“During his time as a professor and academic administrator, Dr. Brooks emphasized the importance of teaching and mentorship”, says the federal government.

In retirement, he has volunteered extensively with groups devoted to the arts, education, health care, and LGBTQ2 equality.

He currently is president and archivist of the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, and sits on the complaints committee of the board of the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia.

“As a gay man, Dr. Brooks is committed to diversity and deeply aware of the role the justice system plays in enunciating and protecting fundamental rights”, said the Justice minister.

Brooks is one of three representing the public on the judge vetting committee.

Others appointed this week to the Nova Scotia panel, include:

Chief Justice Patrick J. Duncan, who was appointed to the bench in 2017.

Since becoming a judge, he has taught criminal law to newly-appointed judges and presented on issues including privacy, evidence, disclosure, and criminal jury trials, says the government. Before his appointment to the bench, Justice Duncan was a partner in the firm of Beveridge, MacPherson & Duncan, and also spent seven years with Nova Scotia Legal Aid.

Jack Townsend, an associate with Cox & Palmer, represents the Canadian Bar Association on the committee. Townsend practices in health law, commercial and insurance litigation, and municipal law, and has acted in a pro bono basis for a gay law student society. He earned his law degree from University of New Brunswick.

Bridgewater lawyer Kathryn Dumke is representing the Nova Scotia Bar Society on the new panel. The sole practitioner on the South Shore, she focuses on litigation, business law, and real estate law. She was trained in farm management in her native Germany.

“As the first transgender lawyer practicing in Nova Scotia, Ms. Dumke is deeply committed to promoting equity and diversity in the legal profession” says the federal Justice minister.

Alonzo Wright, who is with the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service, represents the Attorney General on the panel. Wright has practiced criminal law since 1996, and served as a prosecutor in communities across the province.

Wright, who is African Nova Scotian, was a research assistant for a project on the genealogy of the Africville community.

He is a former UPEI varsity basketball player, and has volunteered as a coach at the Gottingen Street Community Y since 2002. He is a certified referee and has begun coaching at two Halifax-area high schools.

Naiomi W. Metallic, an associate professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, is among the three public representatives on the panel. Metallic, the chair of the university’s aboriginal law committee, is a grad of Dal and University of Ottawa, and formerly practiced at Burchills, in Halifax. She is a member of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Quebec.

Philip Star, a criminal defence lawyer in Yarmouth with Pink Star Barro, is the third public representative on the panel. From 2006-07, Star was president of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.

Obama Won’t Visit North Shore Resort, after all – Maybe though in 2018

By Andrew Macdonald

An anticipated visit by Barrack Obama to the posh North Shore resort at Fox Har’br won’t be happening after all.

Organizers of the must-attend corporate and politico shindig hosted by Frank McKenna were hoping to get Obama as keynote speaker at the event this summer.

Instead, The Macdonald Notebook hears a sports celebrity will be the featured speaker at the invite-only event, which yearly attracts the Irving, Sobey and John Bragg families.

Organizers are hoping to snag Obama for the 2018th edition, though.

The event has been held for more than a decade and past blockbuster politicos have included Bill Clinton, twice, as well as former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair, and both George Bushes.

Clinton has a close friendship with McKenna, and waived his six digit speaking fees, when he was featured speaker at the opening of the McKenna Institute at St. Francis Xavier University, in recent years.

The pair met while volunteering in recent years, after an earthquake devastated the Carribbean island of Haiti.

Clinton, who commands $100,000 per public appearance, asked to attend the Fox Har’br event a second time because he loves the 18-hole golf course at the resort built by Ron Joyce.

Joyce, a native of nearby Tatamagouche, spent $40 million building the resort on the shores of Northumberland Strait, using his fortune from the sale of Tim Hortons to Wendy’s Restaurants in the last decade.

The billionaire – a high school dropout, and former Hamilton cop – built a 5,000-foot runway at the resort, and it is routinely used by Lear jets, as well as Canada built Challenger airplanes.

While McKenna, a former premier of New Brunswick, and now a top exec with TD Bank hosts the event, gold miner Fred George is also a sponsor, and that means he contributes to the six figure speaking fees of the various key note speakers.

Lots of property developers from Halifax, including leading businessman Besim Halef, and global bankers attend the most influential shindig in the Atlantic region.

Law firm, McInnes Cooper is also an annual sponsor of the summer event.