Premier Stephen McNeil, who is also Military Relations Minister, paid respects to Nova Scotia soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of Hong Kong in the Second World War. The premier laid wreaths today, Sept. 7, at the graves of two Nova Scotians buried at Sai Wan War Cemetery and commemorated the honourable service of all Canadians who served in Hong Kong during the war. “The Battle of Hong Kong was one of the first tests faced by our soldiers during the Second World War,” said Premier McNeil. “They met that test with all the courage and determination they could muster. Their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice in defence of freedom continues to inspire us all.” There are 283 Canadians buried at Sai Wan War Cemetery, including 107 who are unidentified. Premier McNeil honoured the sacrifices of two Nova Scotians buried there who served in the Royal Rifles of Canada. Henry Andrew Surette of Port Bickerton, Guysborough Co., who served as a rifleman, died on Dec. 25, 1941, the day the island fell to the Japanese. Leo Abbey Cormier of Amherst, also a rifleman, perished Oct. 16, 1942, while a prisoner of war. “It is humbling to stand among the graves of these heroes and know that they were prepared to put their lives on the line to preserve freedom,” said Premier McNeil. “They have been called the greatest generation, and there can be no doubt that our world is a safer place because of what they did here in Hong Kong. “Their deaths, while tragic, are part of Canada’s long and distinguished tradition of military service that is carried on today by members of our military and their families.” Premier McNeil also laid a wreath at the memorial to mark 2,000 people who died in an effort to defend the island. Among the names on the memorial are two other Nova Scotians serving with the Royal Rifles of Canada: Rifleman Percy Coleman Atwood of Barrington, Shelburne Co.; and Rifleman William Joseph McGrath of McGrath Cove, Halifax Co. Both died Dec. 23, 1941. Nova Scotia is the only province with a Military Relations Minister, emphasizing the importance of the military to Nova Scotians. The stop is part of a visit to Southeast Asia by Premier McNeil to promote enhanced trade links and investment opportunities in Nova Scotia.
A Canadian pipeline company will no longer work with a controversial U.S. public relations firm on the Energy East proposal after leaked documents raised concerns about suggested tactics.TransCanada has cut ties with the multinational firm Edelman on the campaign to build support for a plan to bring Alberta’s oil sands crude to eastern refineries after it recommended secretly using third parties to attack the pipeline’s opponents.The tactics were contained in documents leaked to the environmental group Greenpeace.“In the current environment, we can’t have the respectful conversation that we want to have with Canadians and Quebecers about Energy East,” TransCanada spokesman Tim Duboyce said Wednesday in a release.“We need to discuss the project on its merits, responding to valid concerns such as how we will protect water and marine life, instead of talking about communications tactics.”The documents outlined what Edelman call a strategy with a “strong heritage in the more aggressive politics and policy fights in the U.S.”Edelman recommended working with proxies to secretly “add layers of difficulties for our opponents,” the documents say. The plan suggested TransCanada conduct research on environmental groups and hand the results over to third parties, who can “put the pressure on, especially when TransCanada can’t.“We will work with third parties and arm them with the information they need to pressure opponents and distract them from their mission.”TransCanada immediately denied it had implemented those tactics, which were widely criticized. Edelman defended its proposal in a statement released Wednesday, the first time it had addressed the issue.“We stand by our strategy,” it said. “It was both ethical and moral, and any suggestion to the contrary is untrue.“Unfortunately, the conversation about our efforts has become so loud in certain areas that it is impossible to have an open and honest conversation about the pipeline project.”TransCanada has its work cut out for it, said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace.“They’re going to face a skeptical public,” he said.“We want to see a different approach, not just a different PR company. How the debate is conducted is always important to the substance of the debate.”TransCanada has acknowledged some of Edelman’s advice is in play. The company will collect publicly available information on its opponents and has started an extensive social media campaign.But spokesman James Millar said TransCanada will also increase its community meetings and public engagement.“You need to get out there and speak to people,” he said. “That’s a good idea on both sides.” Millar said TransCanada signed up 1,500 supporters on its social media website last week after news broke about Edelman’s suggestions.“It’s not the old world that a lot of people are used to. There’s a new way of doing business and that means engaging with people on their own turf and on their own terms and we need to focus on that.”Edelman, in its documents, proposed a campaign directed at opposition groups like the Council of Canadians and the David Suzuki Foundation, as well as a small community group in Ottawa that usually fights for more bike lanes and park enhancements.Ben Powless, an anti-pipeline campaigner at Ecology Ottawa, said he was somewhat surprised that Edelman, the largest independent public relations firm based on revenues, would be concerned about his small group’s influence. Ecology Ottawa has about nine paid employees and mainly relies on volunteers who tend to be students and retirees.“To me, it’s a smear campaign really trying to shut down the voices of local people who have legitimate concerns,” Powless said.With files from The New York Times News Service