07
Nov 11

Time to fight for PlanSJ

Many of the people who have participated in the PlanSJ initiative over the last 22 months probably think the work is done, and that adoption of the new Municipal Plan is a certainty. While it’s hard to imagine an outright rejection of the Plan by Council, there is still a significant risk that the Plan’s policies could be modified — to satisfy the desires of business and regional interests — in ways that would compromise the Plan’s prime goals: municipal sustainability and quality of life for Saint John citizens.

We’re in the last stages of the PlanSJ process … at least, the part of the process leading up to the adoption of the Municipal Plan. A final window remains open for public feedback to Common Council. It’s now very important that all those citizens who took the time to participate in PlanSJ also take a moment to communicate their support for the Plan (or their criticisms of it) to Council.

You can be very sure that the ‘big players’ in our region are petitioning Council at this crucial time and there’s a risk that this late and highly motivated input could skew the perception of Council and lead to undesirable changes to the Plan. Our councillors also need to hear our views and be guided by our enthusiasm for the work that’s been crafted by Saint John citizens over the last two years.

Letters and emails are being accepted until midnight on Thursday the 10th. If you don’t have time to send a letter, fire off a brief email. (Not sure how to start it? Appended below is the text from my letter to Council, in case that helps.) Every single statement of support from Saint John citizens will help ensure that PlanSJ stays on track, and remains a truthful reflection of our collective desires and aspirations.

To submit your input, email the Common Clerk at commonclerk@saintjohn.ca. Or use the other options provided at the PlanSJ page. (There’s also some interesting documentation there.) Remember to provide your full name, contact info and ADDRESS so the Clerk can confirm you’re a Saint John resident.

 

To:          Mayor and Councillors, Common Council, City of Saint John

From:    David Drinnan
Member, PlanSJ Citizen Advisory Committee

2011-11-07

Regarding: Adoption of PlanSJ

PlanSJ is approaching a watershed moment – both for the process and for our community. Adoption of the Municipal Plan will launch a new chapter in this city’s history and make quality of life and fiscal sustainability not only priorities, but measurable goals.

A wide range of residents participated in the various PlanSJ meetings, workshops and consultations over the past year and a half, and the resulting Plan reflects the many voices of Saint John citizens. Unfortunately, I fear that the loudest voices Council is likely to hear now that we’re close to adoption belong to those who either dislike certain aspects of the Plan due to impacts on individual or business interests, or belong to the few who resist PlanSJ’s implementation altogether. It is important that Council does not let those few, powerful voices drown out the community aspirations of the many citizens who have participated in this process.

With that in mind, I’d like to make some specific arguments in support of the new Plan in its current form:

Saint John citizens first. This Plan belongs to the citizens of our city, not to the businesses that operate here, and not to the good residents of Greater Saint John. Our priority must be the wishes and interests of our citizens first and foremost. Economic and regional interests are factors that influence sustainability and quality of life, and must be considered in any decision, but they are not our direct goals.

Instead, the promotion of business and regional prosperity should be tools we use to maximize benefits for our citizens. All too often in this city’s history it’s been the other way around, and Saint Johners’ quality of life has been compromised for the sake of business or regional interests. While that might have been good for business, and good for the region, it hasn’t been a winning strategy for the City of Saint John or for its residents. Saint John must come first and Saint John citizens must be the priority. This Plan embodies that imperative.

Status quo is not an option. One thing that has been clear to every member of the PlanSJ team, and to almost every participant in this process, is the fact that the status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable. This city faces a catastrophic future if we continue down our current path. Those who argue against change, or even against the very idea of strong municipal policy, are either blind to this reality or – worse – willing to sacrifice the future of our city and its residents’ quality of life in favour of other goals or in protection of entrenched interests.

We cannot afford to hold on to old and broken models. We must embrace change, despite the short term costs it will impose on many of us, and recognize the opportunity not only to reduce service burdens but to bring new kinds of prosperity to this city. To reject the need for change, or even to simply defer it, would be inexcusable.

Development and a range of residential options. Some in the business and development community have decried the limitations that the Municipal Plan will impose on suburban development in the city, suggesting that a lack of suburban options will increasingly drive migration to outlying communities. I find that argument baseless for the following reasons:

  1. Availability of suburban housing has already proven itself to be a poor ‘competitive advantage’ over outlying communities, in terms of both immigration and retention.
  2. The city already has a wide range of residential options in suburban settings.
  3. What the city lacks are more attractive options for urban living, needed to enable greater immigration and to give Saint John residents better options for staying in the city.
  4. The new Municipal Plan and the follow-on incentives needed to support it will promote infill and development in specific opportunity areas without reducing that existing suburban residential stock.
  5. Abandonment of the strategy of increased concentration and investment in opportunity areas is, effectively, a return to the status quo, as discussed above.

I acknowledge that the change in policies will be challenging for the development community. The implementation of the Plan – in terms of both restrictions and incentives – will create pain points for some developers, and opportunities for others. In the longer term, those developers whose business models and philosophy are compatible with a sustainable Saint John will prosper.

What will be critically important is the support and incentive structure the City provides once the Municipal Plan is adopted, to protect, motivate and reward those developers who are willing to adapt to this new framework and build for a more sustainable future. Smart incentives and investments in specific neighbourhoods will be crucial with respect to both infill and new development.

Board of Trade. I’m guessing that Council may have received further comments from the Saint John Board of Trade requesting modifications to the Plan to protect business interests (for example, accommodations for ‘homegrown’ businesses such as Moosehead, JD Irving and Irving Oil, or provisions for multi-functional energy transmission corridors [1]). As stated previously, I feel very strongly that the Municipal Plan’s policies should remain focused on the benefits to Saint John citizens. Any City decision regarding corporate projects and business opportunities should be based on a cost-effectiveness analysis that balances the risks and burdens placed on citizens against the economic benefits for citizens.

Hardwiring blanket accommodations into the Municipal Plan simply isn’t appropriate, regardless of whether the corporate actor is ‘homegrown’. Projects that could impact the quality of life for Saint Johners should be forced into substantive reviews (including, if appropriate, environmental assessments) to ensure that the benefits outweigh the costs and risks, not only for the citizenry at large but for the specific neighbourhoods affected by those projects. (The recent power line controversy on the Lower West Side provides a clear example of this type of situation.) The Municipal Plan’s policies should not be modified in any way that could later be used to justify an ‘expedited’ treatment of any project that has the potential to impact quality of life.

Airport. I also assume that Council has received comments from the Airport reiterating its request for designation as an Opportunity Area under PlanSJ, in addition to other supportive language within policy statements [2]. I am very sympathetic to the airport’s plight. The ongoing lack of federal support and the Airport’s omission from the federal government’s Atlantic Gateway Strategy has put the airport at great risk, and the Airport’s own inability to define a viable business plan has increased that risk. Our city benefits from continued access to a local airport, as do the many other communities in the airport’s catchment area, and it’s critically important that a strategy be found to ensure Saint John Airport’s sustainability.

However, that strategy must not place the burden on the shoulders of Saint John taxpayers alone, either directly through the infrastructure investments that an Opportunity Area designation would mandate, or indirectly through competition by the airport with the City’s own industrial park operations. The demands of the Airport to incorporate language into PlanSJ that would open the door to those types of costs is simply unacceptable. The solution to the Airport’s problems must be a regional one that shares the burden fairly across the many communities the Airport serves, and should also involve the other levels of government that benefit very directly from the taxes that result from airport operation.

Frankly, the suggestion that PlanSJ policy should be amended in a way that could eventually make Saint Johners solely responsible for subsidizing a regional facility makes me very angry, as a Saint John taxpayer and as a CAC member.

The changes in PlanSJ language made recently to address the Airport’s concerns are sufficient; if Saint Johners are going to be asked to pay to keep the Airport open, they should first be asked if that’s what they really want to do, and what costs they’re willing to incur to make that possible. The new language in the Plan will require public hearings before any change in policy regarding the Airport (as well as requiring the Airport to first produce a viable business plan).

In conclusion. I hope that Council has received a range of feedback during this comment period. My fear is that the majority of Saint Johners who support PlanSJ and those who have participated in the process may have assumed that the heavy lifting has been done, and that the Municipal Plan is certain to be adopted in its current form. I urge Council to consider the full range of input and citizen participation over the last year and a half when dispositioning the feedback received in the last few weeks.

The new Municipal Plan is a tangible product of Saint Johners’ desires and aspirations; it truly is community vision translated into hard, precise policy. The Plan’s value to current and future Councils and planners will be enormous, guiding decision-making to help ensure that this city develops in directions its citizens want; that is, so long as the Plan is adopted in its current form – as a true reflection of our citizens’ priorities. The Plan, and the commitment that Council has shown in launching and supporting the PlanSJ initiative, will help to ensure that those decisions serve to protect quality of life for Saint John citizens and promote a sustainable future for this community.

I want to thank you all for your commitment to PlanSJ. It has been an honour to serve on the Citizens Advisory Committee, and I appreciate the opportunity I’ve had to contribute to this process.

Best regards,

Dave Drinnan

 

[1] Letter from the Saint John Board of Trade to the City of Saint John Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Planning and Development, 2011-04-21.

[2] Presentation from the Saint John Airport to Common Council, 2011-08-15.

 

 


19
Aug 11

Saint John gets to keep its CBC TV

Good news for those Saint Johners who don’t subscribe to cable (me included). CBC TV is being allowed to continue to use its analog transmitter serving the Saint John region. (News story here.)

The alternative would have been the loss of the over-the-air (OTA) CBC TV signal in this area, as the CBC’s planned digital television transmitter would have served only Fredericton. Continuation of the analog signal means that OTA viewers in Saint John will still be able to receive the CBC television their tax dollars pay for.


21
May 11

New challenges to an old partnership

This is possibly the most crucial moment in Saint John’s recent history when it comes to municipal planning and land use. Urban sprawl has challenged the ability of the City to sustain itself. Failing infrastructure has been left to decay to the point where catastrophic investments are needed. Traditional industries have failed. Many residents have fled what they perceive to be a dirty, industrial city centre at a time when industry is seen as a necessary evil rather than an asset. Out-migration is an ongoing challenge, and immigration is an opportunity that the City has yet to realize. The tax base has crumbled while service and infrastructure costs have risen. The City faces a crisis unless things change.

So it is very fortunate that the Saint John Port Authority – a key partner in the future of this City – has undertaken a review of land-use planning at the same time that the City has revisited its own municipal planning.

Saint John has always been a port city, and Saint John residents are inherently comfortable with the types of industry and activity that have traditionally been associated with a seaport. The Port was once the heart of this city. Dating back to the earliest days of Saint John, the harbour was the raison d’etre of the community. The Port used to be a primary employer in Saint John, giving jobs to a significant percentage of the total workforce. More than that, much of the remaining employment in the community could be mapped directly back to Port activity, either in terms of supporting the Port, or because of the opportunities created by trade through the Port.

The Port was integrated into the very fabric of the city. Port lands were accessible. More than accessible, since in fact a great many residents actually spent part or all of their working day at or on the Harbour. There were no security perimeters, no barriers to entry, and no sense that the waterfront itself was ‘off limits’ to Saint Johners.

Now, however, the Port is littered with derelict space and forbidding fences. Our Port is no longer accessible, no longer a part of daily life for the vast majority of Saint Johners. And it is no longer a primary employer.

The fact is, the Port will never again be what it one was. That’s the reality that most of us have quietly come to terms with. But now there are prospects that the Port could become something much different from the traditional seaport of yesteryear or even the rotting, inaccessible shoreline we see today; the Port of tomorrow might simply be a heavy industrial park, transported into the heart of our city onto otherwise prime waterfront property.

That’s a dystopian vision of our urban future, and hopefully an unlikely one. Unfortunately, the Saint John Port Authority’s current draft of its land-use plan seems to allow the Port to lease land to any industrial operator that comes knocking, regardless of whether the business is marine-related, and regardless of how heavy that ‘heavy industry’ gets. Worse still, tax incentives may make the Port a more attractive industrial park than the City’s actual industrial parks.

From the Port’s perspective, that’s a necessary evil, if not a desirable outcome. The Port is desperate to generate revenue from otherwise idle land as it struggles to survive as a working port. Its corporate imperative is to survive and to stop bleeding money, if not to actually generate profits. The potential impact on Saint Johners of coring out the heart of the City and siting noxious industrial operations adjacent to dense residential neighbourhoods, or of pulling the rug out from under the City’s own industrial parks, isn’t something the Port is going to lose sleep over.

But it’s something that Saint Johners should be losing sleep over, and talking about, and making noise about. But they haven’t. The 60-day public consultation period for the land-use plan has now come and gone. The Saint John Port Authority (SJPA) held two public information sessions, the first of which had almost no attendees, the second of which was peopled mainly by International Longshoremen Association (ILA) reps, commercial and First Nations fishers, and a couple of environmental activists. There has been virtually no attention from residents, little social media chatter and no press coverage. The SJPA did its part to make the public consultation process accessible, yet as far as I can tell there was almost no interest outside of the ‘usual suspects’.

I’m not sure if this is because the Port continues to be such a fixture in the community that people simply take it for granted, if residents don’t understand the potential impacts on the community, if there’s a foundation of trust in the management of the Port, or if people simply don’t have the optimism or stomach needed to tackle an organization that exists largely outside the public sphere of influence. (As a federal entity, the Port is unfettered by provincial or municipal approvals, and largely isolated from local public opinion.) And there’s the fear that I’ve heard some express when it comes to anything related to the ILA.

However, my money would be on the general apathy that Saint Johners seem to feel regarding many community issues.

Unfortunately, that failure to represent means that the Port now has a reasonable justification for proceeding with its plans on the basis that the public doesn’t seem to care one way or the other what the Port does.

That might turn out to be very unfortunate if, in a few years, big ugly smelly dangerous things start appearing on the waterfront or, for those of you living in the Lower West Side, just down the street from your front door. It’s also going to seem unfortunate when citizens start asking for access to the waterfront, or dream of a cross-harbour walk-on ferry, and the Port says no. It could be very unfortunate for the aspirations citizens have expressed during the PlanSJ initiative, with two of the residential intensification areas in the direct line of fire of potential future Port development.

On the other hand, maybe we’re collectively comfortable with the idea of living in a backdrop out of Bladerunner because many of us think that we already do. But there’s a big difference between the hard-scrabble skeleton of mid-20th century shipping and industry that we live in today, and what could be landing on our doorstep over the next few years. Think Saint John is dirty and industrial now? Just you wait for it.


For the record, here’s the letter of comment I sent in to the Port Authority in response to the draft land-use plan and the various discussions that have taken place over the last two months. Key points:

  • I fear what the Port Authority may drop into the core of our city, and in particular the Lower West Side;
  • I’m disappointed with the Port’s inability or unwillingness to provide better public access to the waterfront;
  • The federal government needs to make changes to the Port Authority to allow it to be responsible to the municipality and province as well as to the feds, and to incent the Port to sell off lands it doesn’t need; and
  • I desperately hope that the Port integrates itself more into the urban landscape through retail and office developments on Long Wharf, Pugsley and elsewhere.

 

 

I’ll close by saying that I am not entirely pessimistic about the future of the relationship between the Port and the City. During discussions with various Port Authority representatives, officials and consultants over the past two months, I’ve been consistently impressed with their professionalism. Despite the poor response, the Port Authority’s effort at public consultation was a genuine one. A great deal of thought and effort went into both the draft land-use plan and the public engagement. Many of these representatives live in Saint John, and they care about the future of the city as well as their Port.

The problems here are structural, not individual. My optimism is based on a trust that the Port Authority will overcome those structural issues (hopefully with the help of the federal government) and seek out ways to protect both the Port’s interests and those of Saint Johners. The Port and the City can work together to find a comfortable middle ground that will give both parties what they need. I just hope it happens, and I just hope it works.

 


24
Mar 11

Keep your rabbit ears

The CRTC has rejected CBC’s bid to stop providing over-the-air (OTA) television in Saint John and Moncton. This is good news for television viewers in those cities who don’t subscribe to digital, cable or satellite services, since OTA viewers will continue to receive the television services their tax dollars pay for.

Unfortunately for all taxpayers, unless the CRTC provides an exemption to allow CBC Television to continue using analog signals in New Brunswick, the ruling will eventually require an expenditure of $6 million on new digital transmitters to service areas outside Fredericton. The move away from analog is being forced on broadcasters by the federal government (through both Industry Canada and the CRTC) in order to free up radio spectrum that will eventually be auctioned off to service providers offering wireless Internet coverage to the public and advanced mobile communications for commercial and public safety clients.

Industry Canada, the CRTC, the CBC and other television broadcasters need to work together to develop a broadcast strategy that will avoid wasteful expenditures while ensuring that citizens continue to have access to basic broadcast services without having to pay subscriptions to digital, cable and satellite providers. This is especially important for the CBC due to the social contract that exists with its taxpaying viewers in communities where low incomes limit access to subscription services for key populations. An extended exemption allowing broadcasters to continue to use largely empty spectrum in New Brunswick would be one solution, particularly if combined with greater availability of streaming Internet content and a long-term plan to guarantee all citizens affordable broadband service.

What has gone unexplained by the CBC throughout the CRTC application process is why it felt that Fredericton deserved continued OTA coverage, while Moncton and Saint John did not. Perversely, an application to withdraw OTA service from all parts of New Brunswick would have made more sense than one to limit service only to the smallest of the province’s three cities. Barring further explanation, it’s hard not to see this as more of the same favouritism that often seems to benefit our ‘precious’ capital city at the expense of our larger urban centres.


28
Feb 11

Fool me once …

The current spat going on between Rothesay and Saint John over water serves as a clear example of how cooperation and partnership can go wrong between neighbouring municipalities. The incident provides a lesson in how every municipality needs to ensure protections are in place to defend its own interests and citizens from the competing interests of neighbouring communities.

What happened?

In the early 1990s, Rothesay asked Saint John to extend its municipal water service out to Rothesay’s Kennebecasis Park and Hastings Cove, neighbourhoods near the boundary between Rothesay and Saint John. The significant infrastructure costs were to be born by Saint John ratepayers, but the service fees paid from Rothesay would — over an extended period — defray the cost of that infrastructure.

However, ongoing customer complaints regarding perceived water quality and pressure problems eventually led Rothesay to decide to provide K-Park and Hastings Cove with municipal water from its own water system. On February 8th, Rothesay switched the two neighbourhoods over to its own water supply, effectively dead-ending the large pipe that had been coming in from Saint John Water.

This created two serious problems for Saint John:

  • The small number of Saint John residents also served by that large pipe were suddenly at risk. Due to stagnation of water in the now dead-end line, the effectiveness of chlorination was reduced, which meant that water quality could no longer be guaranteed. See the notice sent to residents. (This issue was made worse by the failure of Rothesay to notify Saint John Water in advance that the change was taking place.)
  • The bulk of the infrastructure cost of the dead-end line has not yet been paid off through fees from Rothesay, as that amortization was to occur over many decades.
Is Saint John’s water bad?

Saint John drinking water is not great. But it’s no worse than the drinking water in many communities across the country, and it continues to meet the current safe drinking water standards.

Periodic boil-water orders have occurred not because contaminants have been detected or health problems reported, but because of the City’s defence-in-depth strategy of water protection (referred to in the industry as a ‘multi-barrier approach’). New measures, standards and technologies have been put in place to monitor water quality more aggressively in order to address potential risks before they become health risks. (For example, trends in source water temperature or turbidity — cloudiness — have triggered some past boil water orders, even though no increase in bacterial count was detected.)

In other words, the increasing number of boil water orders have occurred because Saint John Water is being more careful, not because the water is getting worse. The fact is, the quality of Saint John’s water has not changed significantly during the period in question. Public awareness, however, has increased — in part because of the greater vigilance of Saint John Water regarding potential threats and thus the greater number of advisories and boil water orders.

Saint John Water’s caution regarding water quality should be a comfort to Saint Johners. (See Public Health Inspector Phillip Webb’s op-ed from December 2009.) However, negative perceptions created by a lack of understanding among the public about drinking water management (and to a great extent by tabloid media coverage of the issue) have created a lot of community anxiety about water quality. This anxiety was felt by Rothesay residents on Saint John water as much as by Saint Johners themselves.

However, when it comes to contractual obligations in the agreement between Rothesay and Saint John, the issue of water quality — whether the risks are real or perceived — is moot. Saint John was obligated to provide Rothesay with the same water Saint John was providing to its own citizens. There were no thresholds, action levels or standards specified in that contract and violated by Saint John, and thus, Rothesay cannot use water quality as an excuse for walking away from its own obligations.

Did Rothesay do the right thing?

Rothesay’s city council must serve the interests of its own citizens, and it was right to invest its own tax dollars in its own infrastructure in order to put K-Park and Hastings Cove on Rothesay water.

However, that isn’t the end of the story. Rothesay needs to accept that the cost of switching water source includes not only the cost of its own pipe, but the cost of the infrastructure that it had asked Saint John to install back in the days when Rothesay didn’t want to spend its own money.

The cost of that infrastructure was to be defrayed over many decades through service charges, but to date very little of that cost has actually been paid off. The pipe originally sized to serve K-Park and Hastings Cove is now unusable in the long term, and Saint John will likely need to lay entirely new, appropriately sized lines to serve its residents on Rothesay Road. The cost of the original pipes should be born by Rothesay taxpayers, and not Saint John Water ratepayers. It isn’t right for Rothesay to think it can simply walk away from that expense.

And Rothesay wasn’t right to simply turn a valve and catastrophically degrade the water quality of Saint John residents without first coordinating with Saint John Water. The notification to Saint John Water came after K-Park and Hastings Cove had been isolated from the Saint John water line, leading to a scramble as Saint John assessed the impact and notified residents.

It’s hard to see Rothesay’s failure to consider the health of neighbouring residents as anything more than a screw you to Saint John and those living on Rothesay Road.

The merit of lawsuits

Many have suggested that Saint John abandon its lawsuit and (1) try to work with Rothesay to resolve the situation, and/or (2) simply lay new pipe to give its citizens on Rothesay Road potable water.

There’s definitely a ‘feel good’ sense to those suggestions, but unfortunately there’s no reason to think further attempts at collaboration with Rothesay would work (especially since such attempts have already failed miserably).

Rothesay doesn’t want to pay, plain and simple. If the alternative to a lawsuit is Saint John Water ratepayers being left with a whopping bill for the joy of having supplied Rothesay neighbourhoods with water for the last 14 years, then suing doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

There’s also no need for residents to have to wait for a legal resolution. Steps should be taken as soon as possible to restore potable water to those homes.

What needs to happen next

Lawsuit. Rothesay should do the right thing and pay Saint John Water back for whatever costs remain unpaid for the now dead-end water line. If Rothesay isn’t willing to do that, Saint John should pursue its lawsuit aggressively and make all relevant records available to the public so its citizens can gain a full understanding of this situation.

Water for Rothesay Road. If the idea of having Rothesay supply water to Saint John residents on Rothesay Road is practical, that option should be explored quickly, regardless of the lawsuit.

If that option isn’t immediately viable — in terms of engineering or politics — Saint John should prioritize new, appropriately sized lines to get potable water to those residents along Rothesay Road who now rely on municipal water service. Asking citizens to wait potentially years for a legal resolution with Rothesay is unacceptable and unnecessary. (In the meantime, see Saint John’s contingency plan in response to this incident.)

Lessons for Common Council

Trust is essential to any partnership, but blind trust leads to the types of problems we’ve seen here.

Saint John Common Council screwed up back in the 90s when they agreed to provide water service to Rothesay neighbourhoods. The cost of that screwup is inconvenience and depreciation of property values for citizens along Rothesay Road, the need to lay new lines to serve those citizens, and the costs and public relations nightmares of a lawsuit against Rothesay.

Common Council screwed up not by providing bad water (as many have suggested) but by trusting a neighbouring community to honour its contractual commitments (something Rothesay has proven unwilling to do). Common Council screwed up by acting in good faith and expecting the other party to do the same.

The fact is, municipalities act in the best interests of their own citizens, and not those of other communities. They will always do this. That’s good governance. And so, Rothesay town council was always going to put the interests of Rothesay citizens and taxpayers over those of other municipalities (if they even considered the welfare of other municipalities at all). To expect anything else was unrealistic.

Saint John Common Council of today needs to consider this fact when opportunities for partnership arise, and whenever regional interests are trumpetted over politicians’ obligations to their own electorates. Common Council must be diligent and think defensively when entering into any partnership.

And whenever neighbouring municipalities or regionalized organizations (such as the Board of Trade or Enterprise Saint John) start calling for regional cooperation and preaching the mantra that what’s good for Greater Saint John will also be good for Saint John itself, councillors need to remember that this isn’t always true. They must remember that their obligations are to their own citizens, and not those of Rothesay or other outlying communities.

Councillors also need to learn the lessons of this particular incident: Don’t expect our regional partners to be altruistic or even honourable, because history has proven that to be a naive and foolish assumption. Look for opportunities to work together to achieve mutual goals, but do so with your eyes wide open.

And for God’s sake, the next time Rothesay calls begging for a favour, please … just hang up the phone.