History of Nova Scotia
with special attention given to
Communications and Transportation

Chapter 33
1998 February

1998 February 2

Sprint Reduces Long Distance Telephone Rates

On this day, Sprint Canada, one of the companies supplying long-distance telephone services in Nova Scotia and most of Canada, lowered its rates for long-distance telephone calls to over 100 countries.  For calls originating in Nova Scotia to destinations in Canada and the United States, the rate remained the same as before, but for calls made to almost all other countries, the rate was reduced.

For calls to China, the rate was reduced from $1.57 to $1.19 per minute; to Hong Kong, from 46¢ to 39¢ per minute.

The rate for calls to Italy was lowered from 71¢ to 53¢, and to the United Kingdom from 36¢ to 28¢ per minute.  Other reductions were smaller, such as the Australia rate from 55¢ to 54¢, and Mexico from 91¢ to 90¢ per minute.

There were other changes which benefited customers, such as the timing of calls to the nearest second (instead of rounding the time up to the next highest minute), and the provision that enabled quick-thinking customers to avoid being charged for a call that reached an answering machine or a wrong number.

Additional details, and notes about Sprint Canada

1998 February 3

Cost of Hard Drive Data Storage
Falls Below 8¢ per Megabyte

CompuTrend, 30 Farnham Gate Road, Halifax, in an advertisement on page 66 of The Computer Paper, Eastern Edition (Atlantic Provinces), February 1998, available in Halifax on this day, offers for sale 6.4-gigabyte hard drives, for use in personal computers, at $435.00 each.  After 15% retail sales tax is added, this price is 7.8¢ per megabyte.
Historical notes about Cost of Hard Drives

1998 February 5

PSINet Canada Plans Large Increase
in Halifax Workforce

Internet Experience Required

The Halifax office of a North America-wide Internet service provider is about to get a lot more crowded.  PSINet Canada, which has purchased the former provider iStar Internet Inc., plans to increase staff to almost 100 from the current four.  "We are adding bodies out there," said company president Nadir Desai.  "I have a current hiring requirement for no less than 30 individuals."  Desai said PSINet is in an "intensive hiring mode" and hopes by the end of 1998 to add another 50 people as part of the expansion of the company's call-centre activity.  Desai said his brief experience with the Halifax operation and its staff convinced him expansion was the right move.  "The few employees we had there are producing significantly better than anywhere else where we've run call centres," he said.  "This is one component of this business that I will be growing out immediately."

The Halifax office is a holdover from iStar's expanded operations that resulted from its 1995 merger with the former Nova Scotia Technology Network (NSTN).  At the time, the merger created the largest Internet service provider in Canada, and the company grew rapidly before it was bought out by PSINet Inc. of Virginia.  But iStar recorded financial losses for the past eight consecutive quarters, and most of the staff and operations were concentrated in Toronto.  Heavy losses for the fourth quarter of 1997 created concern that PSINet's planned takeover was at risk, but Desai brushed that off.  "We tendered and bought up to 72% of the shares of iStar," he said.  "I would say we are a significant shareholder and are firmly in control of the management of the company."

Local staff will augment the company's inside sales team in Toronto in providing support to the rest of the organization.  Desai said by the end of 1998, PSINet will examine the feasibility of setting up more customer-support service in Halifax to back up the company's existing Ottawa centre.  Desai said he liked the education level of the employees working with the company and in the pool of workers seeking jobs.  Applicants will need to have Internet experience, a strong sales attitude, and be willing to learn.  Desai said PSINet encourages skill upgrading and successful applicants will be sent to the United States for an additional three weeks of training.

Desai said he has not approached the province for funding to help defray the cost of the expansion.  "I haven't even spoken to them.  I just like the place and the people, and I'm going to come up and do it," he said.  That might change, he joked.  "Until you mentioned it, I hadn't even thought about it.  Now that you've mentioned it, I'll give them a call."

[The Halifax Daily News, 5 February 1998]

1998 February 5

First Website for a
Nova Scotia Political Party

On this day, the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia became the first political party in the province to launch its home page, or website, at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/ on the World Wide Web.  "Our party will be offering Nova Scotians with access to the Internet, 'real-time' images and 'real-time' information, right from the Annual Meeting,", said Tory Leader Dr. John Hamm.  This year's Annual Meeting will be held Friday-Sunday, 6-7-8 February, at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel on Hollis Street in Halifax.

PC website (archived 11 November 1998)

[The Halifax Daily News, 5 February 1998]
[This website was launched officially on Thursday, 5 February; it was available on-line by 6pm the previous day.]

For the last couple of years, websites have been operated by all three caucuses – Liberal, Conservative (PC), and NDP – but these were caucus operations (with the website hosting and related services being supplied by the Nova Scotia government at government expense).  A caucus is not the same as a party.  This new PC website is the first to be implemented (made available on the WWW) by a Nova Scotia political party.

1998 February 5

Railway Passenger Car Accessibility
by Persons with Disabilities

National Transportation Agency, Code of Practice: Passenger Rail Car Accessibility and Terms and Conditions of Carriage by Rail of Persons with Disabilities

The Code of Practice applies to passenger rail services operated in Canada by the following companies: VIA Rail Canada Inc., Algoma Central Railway Inc., Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway Company, Hudson Bay Railway Company and Amtrak.  It also applies to passenger rail services that Canadian National Railway Company operates on behalf of Ontario Northland Railway.


code of practice passenger rail car accessibility and terms and conditions of carriage by rail of persons with disabilities
Opening remarks at launch of Rail Code of Practice

1998 February 6-7-8

On-Line reports from PC Annual Meeting

Earlier this week, the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia had become the first political party in the province to establish a presence on the World Wide Web.  "Our party will be offering Nova Scotians with access to the Internet, 'real-time' images and 'real-time' information, right from the Annual Meeting,", said Tory Leader Dr. John Hamm.

ICS (webmaster): Below are my observations, written at the time, of the actual realization of this promise of "real-time images and real-time information" on-line.

This Annual Meeting began at 1:30pm Friday, 6 February, according to the on-line meeting schedule at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/annual.html.

Friday, Feb. 6, 5:10pm: I went to this website to see the "real-time images and real-time information, right from the Annual Meeting."  The only item then available was a small (7603 bytes) photo in the entry page at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/index.html captioned "Janet Conners opens the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia 1998 Annual General Meeting at the Westin Hotel in Halifax this afternoon."

Friday, Feb. 6, 8:50pm: The only additional item I could find in the website was a brief (182 words) text at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/annual1.html summarizing Janet Conners' speech.  It was difficult to find this summary, as it could be located only by clicking on a nearly invisible link, that was displayed as dark purple text against a dark blue background.  (Yes, my browser, Netscape Navigator 4.0, was set to display the colours specified by the source file.)  I looked for the complete text of Ms. Conners' speech, but could not find it.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 5:30am: After clicking on another nearly-invisible link, I found at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/annual2.html a brief (132 words) summary of the events of Friday evening, combined with highlights of the Saturday morning schedule.  This summary stated that Dr. Hamm had been able to deliver his scheduled Friday evening speech, in spite of a serious throat ailment, but there was not so much as a single sentence of what he said.  [I would have thought that, with some advance preparation (such as a word-processor file of the prepared text) they could have posted his complete speech by this time.  After all, this was the keynote speech given by the leader a few weeks before a general election.  Seems to me, of all the events scheduled for this annual meeting, this speech would be the number one top priority for publication on the Internet, under the stated policy of "real-time information, right from the Annual Meeting."  And, to me, this means the whole thing, every word, posted ASAP, with at least two full-screen photos of the event, one of Dr. Hamm delivering his speech and another of the audience.  This is the Internet, and, when deciding what to publish, space is not a consideration.  Unlike newspapers, which are always very limited in the space available, the Internet has virtually unlimited space available very inexpensively.  During this annual meeting, the retail price of hard drive storage space, in Halifax, was just 8¢ per megabyte.  Of course, server rental (website hosting) space costs more than this, but it still is ridiculously cheap.  Two full-screen photos, with the complete keynote speech text, would occupy less than half a megabyte.] In the entry page at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/index.html the caption on the photo had been updated to "Janet Conners opened the 1998 Annual General Meeting at the Westin Hotel in Halifax Friday and leader John Hamm braved poor health to give a keynote speech."  There still was no text of Ms. Conners' speech.  There was mention that "more than 700 delegates" were in attendance, but there were no additional details, such as the number of delegates registered from each constituency (this information certainly was available to the meeting managers).

Saturday, Feb. 7, 11:50am: No change in website, from previous visit.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 2:20pm: An additional page has now appeared, at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/annual3.html.  The lead-in link promises "Details on the leader's speech at the annual meeting", but the website does not deliver on this promise.  This page contains just 127 words in all, and only ten of these words are direct quotations from Dr. Hamm's speech.  If this report is considered to be the "details", one wonders what a summary would look like.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 5:20pm: No change in website, from previous visit.

Saturday, Feb. 7, 9:30pm: No change in website, from previous visit.

Sunday, Feb. 8, 8:10am: No change in website, from previous visit.

Sunday, Feb. 8, 1:10pm: There have been a couple of minor changes.  In the entry page at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/index.html the caption on the photo of Janet Conners making her speech has been revised to "The Annual General Meeting ended Sunday in Halifax.  The more than 700 delegates consider the meeting a big success."  In the page at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/annual.html the problem of the nearly-invisible links has been taken care of, by specifying a font colour that has adequate contrast against the dark blue ground.  That's it.  There still was no text of Ms. Conners' speech, and none for Dr. Hamm's keynote speech.  No report of any kind on the speech delivered at noon yesterday by National Leader Jean Charest.  No report on the speeches by Sheila and Tom Osborne.  No report on the elections, the results of which were announced yesterday evening.  A page has been set up at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/annual4.html but there is no link to this page from the schedule page, which is the location of all the other links pointing to annual meeting reports.  I found this page only by looking at the structural pattern of the links, and then extending the pattern.  Perhaps there is no link to this page because it is blank except for the pretty graphics.

Sunday, Feb. 8, 4:40pm: A link has now been installed, pointing to the most recent page at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/annual4.html.  The link reads: "The Annual Meeting of the Progressive Conservative Association ended Sunday.  The more than 700 delegates consider the meeting a big success.  Click here for details."  The "details" consist of exactly 88 words.  No more.  Jean Charest's appearance rated only two sentences.  You can get a far better report of what happened at this Annual Meeting by reading the Halifax Sunday Daily News.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 5:40am: The Report of the Nomination Committee is now available at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/annual5.html with the Table Officers and Regional Vice-president's (sic).  Links have been installed pointing to three newspaper stories about the Annual Meeting: "John Hamm Fires Up Troops," Halifax Daily News, Feb. 9; "Tories Plot Healthy Election Strategy," Halifax Herald, Feb. 9; and "Hamm Promises Home Heating Rebate," Halifax Herald, Feb. 9.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1:50pm: The link pointing to The Daily News story "John Hamm Fires Up Troops," has been deleted, because The Daily News keeps only the current issue available on-line; the issue of Monday, Feb. 9, with this story, has been removed from The Daily News website.

Thursday, Feb. 12, 6:10am: No change in website, from previous visit.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 2:00am: Now that the election campaign is under way, in the PC Party website there is a page titled "Team '98" at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/cand.html (last revised at 7:08pm 26 February).  This is a list of the PC candidates who have been nominated — that is, the candidates whose names will appear on the election ballot.  This page was last uploaded (updated) on Thursday evening, 26 February, but it shows a blank space for the Kings North district.  Whoever is running this site appears to be blissfully unaware that George Archibald was nominated as the PC candidate in Kings North, last Monday evening, 23 February.  Five days later, on Saturday, 28 February, the Kings North district shows blank in the PC website candidates list!  Including Kings North, there are eleven blank spaces in this candidates' list.  Of course, there's lots of time.  Counting weekends, we still have 24 days left before the election.

What was that promise?  Oh yes, "real-time information."

Yeah, right.

I should mention that the PC Party is the only one to bother
to set up a website for this election.  As of Friday, 27 February,
neither the Liberals nor the NDP had any election presence
on the Internet.

1998 February 9

UARB Power Failure Report Made Public

Power Outages Linked to Layoffs

223 Customers per Employee

Utility Board orders
NSP to take steps
to fix problem

In a 36-page report released this day, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board said that downsizing at Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSP) contributed to power outages during a November storm that plunged thousands of homes into the dark.  "The Board is of the opinion that downsizing contributed to the severity of the outages investigated in this study but that was by no means the only cause."

It ordered NSP to investigate and recommend a course of action by Dec. 30, 1998, that will look at some combination of restoring the number of lineworkers to 1994 levels at a minimum and a power management program designed to use the latest distribution automation technology for the worst performing feeder lines.  The report noted the investigation came after complaints to the Board from electricity users who lost power in the November storm and political leaders who also complained about the frequency and duration of power outages over the past few years.

The storm November 27-28, 1997, left some 35,000 customers without power for six hours or longer, including 19,976 in Sydney region on the first day.  Power outages hit 11,000 customers for between 12 and 24 hours; 3,100 for more than 24 hours and the longest outage — 120 people in McCallum Settlement in the Truro region for 73 hours.  During the storm, 59 poles fell and had to be replaced, including six in the Sydney region.  The Board agreed that weather conditions, while relatively mild, resulted in widespread icing conditions that resulted in power line damage.

Downsizing at NSP reduced the workforce to 1,907 in 1996 (1997 numbers weren't available) from 2,480 in 1990.  The cuts left NSP with 223 customers per employee in 1996 compared to 157 in 1990.

Comparing NSP to other power utilities, the Board reported it has downsized more than New Brunswick Power but less than Central Maine Power.  Other findings of the report included:

•  NSP's record with regard to frequency and duration of outages is better than other Maritime utilities but service in this region isn't as reliable as the average for Canada.
•  In all regions, a Nova Scotia customer who lost power in 1996 could expect to be without power for a longer period than in 1990, and the duration tends to be longer in Stellarton, Sydney and the western  regions.
•  NSP's two-year inspection cycle for overhead feeder lines was deemed adequate under average conditions but more frequent inspections are required for older lines or those susceptible to failure.
•  Different design standards of earlier utilities and aged equipment are likely to contribute to the frequency of outages in Cape Breton.  NSP is correct to replace this substandard equipment and should consider accelerating the process.
•  NSP's increase in the number of service regions from four to six between 1990 and 1997 was positive and reduction in work depots from 38 to 33 didn't seriously impact the capability of line crews to restore power.  But a number of feeder lines in Cape Breton are 15 to 20 km further away from work depots than they were in 1990 and in certain instances, this may have contributed to the duration of power outages.

NSP said Monday the report confirms weather conditions caused the severe outages experienced in November.  It said the Board has asked NSP to study other factors affecting reliability of service and it is always interested in learning from outages.  NSP will respond fully to the report within the time frames outlined, said Robbie Shaw, an NSP vice-president.

[Cape Breton Post, 10 February 1998]

UARB Power Failure Report (unofficial)

Job Cuts Made Blackout More Severe

Utility Review Board Report
Discovers Number of Problems
During November 1997 Outage

If Nova Scotia Power Inc. had pulled the plug on fewer linesmen, an early winter storm wouldn't have left so many homes in the dark for so long, says a report released this day by the provincial regulator, the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board, [often called the Public Utilities Board, which was its name 1912-1992].  The number of people responsible for power lines that could stretch halfway around the world has fallen to 253 from 322 since 1990, says the UARB report on how the company provided customer service during power outages in November and December.  "The Board is of the opinion that downsizing contributed to the severity of the outages investigated in this study, but that was by no means the only cause," says the report.

About 35,000 customers lost power for six hours or more, and 11,000 experienced outages of between 12 and 24 hours, says the report.  About 3,100 customers lost electricity for more than 24 hours, and the longest outage of 73 hours hit 120 homes in McCallum Settlement, near Truro.  The storm brought down 59 power poles that had to be replaced.  A second storm hit December 2, but the report focuses mainly on the first one.  While the staff cutbacks are comparable to other North American utilities, the report says "the reduction of lineworkers was a factor in the duration of the outages that occurred in Nova Scotia on November 27 and 28, 1997."

The Board ordered the company to start providing it with summaries of line crew sizes, what it spent on operations and upgrades, and estimates for the next year, beginning in the spring of 1999.

Whether the company will hire more linesmen "depends totally on the outcome of the report," said Nova Scotia Power vice-president Robbie Shaw.  The Board also blames weather conditions, difficulty in reaching trouble spots, the company's maintenance practices, outage protection and system design.

At the time, the company called the November storm the worst it had seen in 15 years.  "The weather was not unduly severe, based on extremes of temperature, wind or precipitation," said the report, noting Environment Canada called the storm average.  "The Board's finding is that the widespread outages that occurred support the theory that the weather, while not severe from a statistical point of view, resulted in widespread icing conditions that resulted in power-line damage."  While the storm wasn't as bad as those experienced last month in Ontario and Quebec, Shaw said "most people in the know would say (it)... was a humdinger."

Line crews had a hard time reaching some trouble spots because of icy, unplowed, and blocked roads, said the report.  The board told the company to file a power outage logistics study that includes co-ordination of NSP activities with emergency services organizations by the end of 1998.  The Board directed the company to "continue and accelerate the program currently under way" to move lines located in forested areas "out to roadsides, where practical."  Where that is not feasible, the board advised the utility to use devices such as the Sentry, which connects the electrical circuit and the telephone line, and can contact Nova Scotia Power when electric power is lost.  The Board told the company to file the estimated cost and work plan for this program by the end of July 1998.

The company's maintenance practices also contributed to the massive outages, says the report.  Its two-year inspection cycle for overhead distribution feeder lines is "reasonable and adequate under average conditions," says the report.  "More frequent inspections are necessary for older lines or lines more susceptible to failure."  Rural lines in problem areas should be checked more often as a preventative measure, says the report.  "More frequent visual inspections of this type of line would serve to identify future events that could unfold and enable problems to be corrected before failures occur."

The Board told the company to research inspection methods being used by North American electric utilities and report back by the end of July 1998.

"I think that may be one of the very few points in the report where we'd like to have further discussions with the (board)," said Shaw.  "Because I think there's not a clear understanding about what our current policy and practice is.  We do inspect everything every two years.  When we see something suspicious or a potential problem, we check it much more often."

The report recommends the company consider strengthening "certain feeders" by using multiple guy wires, larger poles, and insulating for higher voltages.  The Board told the company to file a cost estimate for shoring up its 30 "worst-performing feeders" by the end of July 1998.

The company plans to implement a power outage management system, says the report.  "The various power systems acquired by the Nova Scotia Power Commission during the 1960s had differing standards of construction.  Over the years, NSPI has been gradually replacing these facilities with new standardized equipment.  However, there appears to be a considerable amount of work to be done."  Different design standards and aged equipment "has contributed to, and is likely to continue to contribute to, the frequency of outages in Cape Breton," said the report.  The company "should consider accelerating the process of replacement," and take a second look at poles that are heavily loaded with gear, said the report.  It is to file a report on the plan and associated cost with the Board by the end of July 1998.

But Shaw said there was no difference between the amount of damage to older and newer equipment in the storm.  "We're not absolutely sure about that recommendation," said Shaw.  The company's customer call centre "did not seem able to handle the magnitude of incoming calls experienced (75,829 on Thursday evening and early Friday morning)," says the report.  Shaw said the company is setting up a machine that will answer calls, tell people why their power is out, and when it should come back on.  Nova Scotia Power has to produce the studies recommended by the Board, said Shaw.  "We don't have any choice at all," he said.

[The Halifax Daily News, 10 February 1998]

1998 February 11

The Year 2000 issue represents a very real threat

Auditor General's Report to the Legislature

Much remains to be done

A rapidly diminishing window of opportunity

There is no time to ponder or debate the issue further

Auditor General Roy Salmon has released his annual report for 1997 to the Nova Scotia Legislature.  The report comments on the steps taken within government to address the year 2000 issue related to computerized systems but also identifies that much remains to be done if services are to be uninterrupted.
The Auditor General's report:
§3 Information Technology Management - Year 2000 Readiness

• 3.1 The Year 2000 issue represents a very real threat to government and its ability to provide complete and uninterrupted service upon the turn of the century.  The issue has a fixed target for resolution which cannot be altered or changed.

• 3.2 The Nova Scotia government is to be commended for the steps which it has already taken or planned to address this issue.  However, there is still much left to do and a rapidly diminishing window of opportunity to complete the necessary tasks.  The government must fully consider the risks and ensure sufficient resources are allocated to enable the timely resolution of the issue.

• 3.3 The scope of the central Year 2000 Project Office addresses only the eight corporate service units and their departments as well as a few small entities.  Excluded from the project are many public sector organizations or entities such as crown corporations, school boards, museums, community colleges, hospitals and regional health boards as well as many other government-sponsored boards and commissions. There is no government-wide mechanism in place to monitor, support and coordinate the activities of these organizations in their efforts to achieve Year 2000 compliance.  (boldface emphasis added)

• 3.4 There were significant delays in establishing the Year 2000 Project Office which were a result of budget-related deliberations...

• 4.28 ...the Year 2000 issue has a fixed target which cannot be changed or altered.  Time is of the essence and there is no time to ponder or debate the issue further.  It is therefore necessary for the government to fully consider the risks and ensure that the resources allocated are sufficient to ensure the timely and adequate resolution of the issue.

• 4.29 Furthermore, the unique nature of this problem should be of significant and on-going interest to Members of the House of Assembly.  Accordingly it would be appropriate that periodic status reports be issued by the Year 2000 Project Office so government and the House may be kept current on progress for this very important issue.  [On 19 June 1998, the Auditor General told The Chronicle-Herald that he has had no response from the government on this recommendation.]

The Auditor General's complete 1997 Annual Report includes
Chapter 4: Information Technology Management, Year 2000 Readiness

Public Accounts Committee
Discusses Y2K

The following brief discussion, of the Y2K problem, took place on 11 February 1998, during a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee of the Nova Scotia Legislature:

[page 29]
MR. SALMON: ...Next is Information Technology Management - Year 2000 Readiness.  I don't want to overstate this one but as you have read in the press, it is a major issue across the world in terms of computer systems.  Nova Scotia has taken steps, there is a Project Office in place to oversee the government's initiatives in ensuring that systems will cope with that issue but much remains to be done and we are now down to 22 months and it is a fixed deadline, it can't be postponed.

There is a question of whether or not there are adequate resources across the system to deal with the issue but everybody is at risk with this one and we simply believe that it is important that this House of Assembly pay attention to the issue and receive some sort of progress reports periodically to ensure that all of the necessary steps are taken.

[page 37]
MR. HUSKILSON: Also I would just like to hear more comments about the year 2000 with the problems with the computer systems.  Would you like to expand on that?

MR. SALMON: From what perspective?  You understand what the problem is?  If a computer isn't properly programmed to recognize the switch-over to the two 00's, that it is 2000 and not 1900, then all sorts of things could happen within the systems.  You could have people not receiving pensions because they haven't been born yet.  You could have the system crashing and not operating at all.  Any number of things may happen.  I understand that two airlines have already made the decision that on January 1, 2000, they will not fly because they don't know what is going to happen within their computer systems, onboard or traffic control.  (Interruption)

In the case of the Province of Nova Scotia, they have established a Project Office within the Technology and Science Secretariat that is overseeing efforts across departments to fix their systems or at least review their systems to ensure that they are compatible with the issue.  But we have all of these other agencies, Crown Corporations, hospitals, schools, presumably, that are on their own.  This has a significant resource cost to fix these systems.  Skilled resources are in short supply in terms of people with the technical expertise to identify and correct the problems.  This is worldwide.

I don't want to wave the flag too high or too hard here but I think we have to be aware of the problem and monitor what goes on and make sure that we don't find ourselves on January 1, 2000 with nothing operating.

[Source: Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 11 February 1998

Mr. Clifford Huskilson, MLA
Mr. Roy Salmon, Auditor General

ICS comment:
When reading that exchange, I get no feeling that the MLAs present had any real grasp of the Year 2000 computer issue or any sense of urgency about the Millennium Bug and how it might adversely affect provincial government operations.

687 days remaining before 1 January 2000.

1998 February 12

Direct Flights, Halifax - Newark

Continental Express, a regional carrier for airline giant Continental Airlines, this day began operating a daily non-stop flight between Halifax and Newark International Airport in New Jersey.  Newark's main attraction is its closeness to New York City, and impressive connections with flights to many destinations.  Continental Express will operate 50-passenger RJ145 ExpressJet planes, manufactured by Embraer of Brazil, designed for regional jet routes.  Express has 19 of these jets with 31 more on order.  Express spokesman Bruce Kink said such an aircraft can run profitably at as low as 38% load factor (seats sold).  The schedule now is for departure from Newark at 12:10pm Eastern time and from Halifax at 4:10pm Atlantic time.  This arrangement is inconvenient for business flyers because it requires an overnight stay to conduct business.  Kink said after this run has been operating for a while, and Express receives more planes, the schedule will be adjusted.

This new service introduces competition for Air Nova, which has had a direct flight from Halifax to Newark for several years.  On this route, Air Nova now operates 77-passenger BEA146 planes, providing same-day return flights seven times a week.  Beginning in April, Air Nova will be operating two trips on Saturdays.  Air Nova's cheapest fare on this route is $199.  For a full-fare ticket, same day booking for a person not staying Saturday night, the price is $1,210.  These prices may change with the new competition.
[Excerpted from The Halifax Daily News, 13 February 1998]

1998 February 12

Colchester Trails Association Incorporated

The Colchester Trails Association (CTA) was formed in 1997 and incorporated on 12 February 1998 as a non-profit society with a Board of Directors ( Ed Symons, Chairperson) representing community members from across Colchester County.  The Association's primary aim is to encourage and support trail development in Colchester County.  The CTA is working to establish a link through Colchester for the Trans Canada Trail.  We are in the process of negotiating a lease for the abandoned CN railroad line from the Pictou County line to the Village of Tatamagouche and from Tatamagouche to the Cumberland County line.  There is a short section of this rail line within the village that is presently under lease to the North Shore Community Development Association.  We will be working closely with this group to ensure that the planning, dvelopment and construction of the Trans Canada Trail continues uninterrupted through Colchester County and meets the standards that have been established for this important millennium project.  Recently, the CTA has begun the work of determining the location of a branch line of the Trans Canada Trail which will extend south from Tatamagouche to Truro and then on to Halifax.  This is in support of the national Trans Canada Trail vision which requires that links be established from the main route to major metropolitan areas across Canada.
Source: Colchester Trails Association website

Regional Trail Councils in Nova Scotia
History of the Great American And European Shortline Railway (archived copy)

Colchester Trails Association [RJSC ID#3016422] has its registered office at 240 Gorman Road RR#6, Truro, Nova Scotia.  As of 18 June 1999, the Association's directors were:
• Douglas Brodie, Truro, Nova Scotia; Chairperson
• Ed Symons, Brookfield, Nova Scotia; Vice Chairperson
• Ron Robichaud, Truro, Nova Scotia; Secretary/Treasurer
• Allan Tucker, Belmont, Nova Scotia
• Rosalie Prest, Upper Stewiacke, Nova Scotia
• John Corlett, Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia
• Bryan Scallion, Wentworth, Nova Scotia
Source: Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies [RJSC]

1998 February 18

First Personal Computers
claimed to be Y2K Compliant

On this day appeared the first advertisement offering personal computers for sale, that were explicitly stated to be able to operate properly after the year number rolled over from 1999 to 2000.  This Business Depot flyer offered two computer packages, both prominently stated to be "Year 2000 Ready":

$1499.00 Hewlett Packard Pavilion 3260 computer, Intel P200 (Pentium 200 MHz) MMX processor, 64-bit graphics with Direct 3D, 32 megabyte SDRAM, 2.1 gigabyte hard drive, 56k modem, 14-inch 35cm Orchestra monitor, 16 × CD ROM drive, Polk speakers, "Year 2000 Ready".

$1999.00 Acer 1830 multimedia computer, AMD K6 233 MHZ MMX processor, 32 megabyte SDRAM, 4.1 gigabyte hard drive, 56k modem, 15-inch 38cm Orchestra monitor, 24 × CD ROM drive, twin speakers, Canon 38745/39007 colour printer included, "Year 2000 Ready".

[Flyer distributed in The Halifax Daily News and the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 18 February 1998, offering office supplies for sale at Business Depot stores at 800 Grand Lake Road, Sydney; Cambridge Centre, Burnside Industrial Park, Dartmouth; and Bayer's Lake Centre, Halifax.  "Flyer effective February 18 - March 1, 1998" Note: Cost to customer would be as stated plus 15% HST (harmonized sales tax) added at the time of sale.]

[ICS (webmaster) — On this day, there were 680 calendar days remaining before 1 January 2000.  This was the first ad that I saw anywhere offering Y2K compliant personal computers, and I made a considerable effort to stay abreast of current developments in computer technology available to the general public.  My interpretation of the "Year 2000 Ready" claim was that it applied only to the hardware, not to the software.  The flyer was unclear about this; it did not mention whether the software supplied with these computers was compliant with Year 2000 requirements, and — in view of Microsoft's recent public admission that much of its software was not compliant — it is highly doubtful that the software included in these offerings could handle the rollover from 1999 to 2000.  Of course, the user with complaint hardware could install Y2K compliant software upgrades as (and if) they became available.]

1998 February 18

Imperial Oil Refinery
Marks 80th Anniversary

"...Imperial Oil has a long history in common with Nova Scotians.  One week from today [11 February 1998], our Dartmouth refinery will mark 80 years of continuous operation.  And Imperial was part of Nova Scotia for more than 20 years before the refinery was built.  It's an association that started with Sid and Frank Shatford's fuel business in the bustling city of Halifax — population 31,000 — just about 100 years ago! For an 80-year-old, our Dartmouth refinery has plenty of life in it yet.  Over the past two years, the refinery has made amazing progress in terms of efficiency and remains a strong and important performer in Imperial's refining network in Canada.  Some 200 men and women work at the refinery.  About 100 more work in distribution, wholesale and service station operations that have kept Esso as a familiar and trusted name to Nova Scotians..."
[Source: Long History in Nova Scotia speech by Roy Millar, Project Executive, Imperial Oil Resources Limited, at the official launch of Sable Offshore Energy Incorporated in Halifax, 11 February 1998.]

1998 February 27

Election Status Report

[Written 2:00am-4:00am, 27 February 1998]
At this time, a general election is underway in Nova Scotia.  On 12 February 1998, at the request of Premier Russell MacLellan, the Lieutenant Governor dissolved the General Assembly, and Writs of Election were issued.  The general election will be held on 24 March 1998.  As of this day, 27 February, the election campaign has been in progress for 15 days, and 24 days remain before the election is held, to decide who will lead Nova Scotia into the new millenium.

I looked around the Internet to see what is the current status of the three political parties, in using the Internet to inform and involve the voters.  The three parties (in the order of their numerical representation in the Legislature immediately before the election writs were issued) were the Liberals, the Progressive Conservatives, and the New Democrats.

There is only one party website now in existence.  (This refers to party websites, not to caucus websites.)  The Liberal Party has no website that I could find, and the Liberal Caucus website makes no mention of a party site.  The NDP Party has no website that I could find, and the NDP Caucus website makes no mention of a party site (but the NDP Youth Wing does have an online presence with election content).

The PC party has a website at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/ which was set up on 5 February 1998.  The party platform (the statement of what they say they will do if elected) was posted online, in this site, on Monday, 23 February, at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/plathome.html (last revised at 5:03pm 23 February).

The Nova Scotia NDP Youth Wing has a website at http://www.kayhay.com/~ndpyouth/home.html (last revised at 7:51pm 16 February).  This site is alive and well, and fully aware there is an election campaign going on.  At the top of the entry page we see "Election '98 — The NDP couldn't be more ready for an election.  We have a strong leader and strong candidates.  Last June Nova Scotians elected NDP MPs in six out of eleven ridings.  It's time to finish the job!"  After two hours of intensive searching for Nova Scotia Election material on the Net, this site conveys by far the highest level of election enthusiasm.

The three caucus sites are located at:

• Nova Scotia Liberal Party Caucus
This has a page "What's New" http://www.liberalcaucus-ns.com/whatsnew.html (last revised at 9:57am 13 February 1998) which contained just one item — the text of Premier MacLellan's remarks on 12 February 1998 in announcing the provincial general election for March 24.  There is a page titled "Issues and Policy" at http://www.liberalcaucus-ns.com/issuesandpolicy.html (last revised at 12:29pm 12 February 1998) which contained very little which, in my opinion, could accurately be called information on Issues and Policy.  The most recent information here was the text of two speeches by MLAs: Unity Committee Hearings — Eleanor Norrie, MLA, February 1, 1998, and Tourism — Lila O'Connor, MLA, November 26, 1997.

• Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party Caucus
During the election campaign, this website was superceded by the PC party website at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/

• Nova Scotia New Democratic Party Caucus
In this site I found nothing relating to the election campaign.  There is a page "Current News Releases" http://cfn.cs.dal.ca/Politics/NSNewDemocrat/news.html (last revised at 11:44am 30 January).  The most recent item here was dated 23 January 1998.

[As of 4:00am 27 February 1998, that's the online status of the Nova Scotia Election.]

Go To:   History of Telegraph and Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Railway Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Electric Power Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Automobiles in Nova Scotia

Go To:   Nova Scotia History, Chapter One

Go To:   Nova Scotia in the War of 1812

Go To:   Nova Scotia Historical Biographies

Go To:   Proclamations: Land Grants in Nova Scotia 1757, '58, '59

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