News

1. Susie Butlin

Susie Butlin

Tim Bousquet reports on what happened in the weeks before Susie Butlin was murdered by her neighbour, Ernest Ross (Junior) Duggan in 2017. Bousquet writes:

In June 2018, RCMP’s H Division [Nova Scotia] Criminal Operations requested an Independent Officer Review of the events leading up to Butlin’s murder. That review was conducted by Sgt. Linda Gray, of the Sexual Assault Investigative Team, with the HRP/RCMP integrated Criminal Investigation Division. It was co-signed  by Sgt. Jared Harding, of the HRP/RCMP Homicide Team, and Inspector Kevin O’Blenis, who is with the RCMP’s Halifax detachment. A redacted version of the document was released by the Mass Casualty Commission Monday.

The Independent Officer Review details that the RCMP officers who responded to Butlin’s initial sexual assault complaint decided that Butlin had consented to the July 2 sexual contact with Duggan, and therefore that no charges were warranted in the case.

The review faults the decision. “Throughout the course of the Sexual Assault investigation, including supervisory reviews, there appears to be several areas where both investigators and supervisors had difficulty understanding the perception of events from Butlin’s perspective,” wrote Gray.

But the decision that the contact was consensual seems to have coloured subsequent complaints to the RCMP from Butlin, concluded Gray.

Bousquet’s story includes details on Butlin’s call to 911 the night of August 7, 2017, the peace bond against Duggan, and the call Duggan’s wife April made to 911 the night of August 21, 2017, in which she told the Operational Control Centre (OCC) call taker, “My husband, I think he’s going to kill the neighbour.”

This is a harrowing story. Bousquet tweeted it this morning and already I am seeing comments saying “no wonder women don’t go to the police.”

Click here to read Bousquet’s story.

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2. ‘Better-than-a-carbon-tax’ plan gets the boot

Gas pump. Photo: Suzanne Rent

“The federal government has rejected a plan by the Houston government to postpone implementing a carbon tax on gasoline and home heating oil less than two weeks after receiving the province’s proposal detailing a ‘better-than-a-carbon-tax’ alternative,” reports Jennifer Henderson. 

“You are proposing to end Nova Scotia’s cap-and-trade program, with no replacement that would put a price on pollution,” wrote Steven Guilbeault, the federal Minister for Environment and Climate Change Canada, in his August 29 letter to Tim Halman, Nova Scotia’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change. The letter’s contents were reported yesterday by the Chronicle Herald.

“The federal government is committed to continuing to put a price on carbon pollution, with clear requirements that are implemented consistently across Canada and provide certainty to businesses and households,” Guilbeault continued.

On Tuesday, Halman, who is in Whitehorse for a national conference, told reporters, “there is a big policy difference here but it’s my hope that Environment Climate Change Canada will take a second look at our proposal.”

“We have a real sense of disappointment and see a missed opportunity on the part of the Ottawa to work together to reduce GHG emissions,” he said.

As Henderson reports, Guilbeault did leave the door open for more negotiations, but the Friday deadline is looming.

Click here to read Henderson’s story.

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3. Answering questions about vaccines, hesitancy, variants

If you have any questions about COVID vaccines, vaccine hesitancy, boosters, and what variants we could expect to see this fall, Yvette d’Entremont interviewed Fatima Tokhmafshan with the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network (CoVaRR-Net) about many vaccine-related issues.

Back in May, CoVaRR-Net launched a pilot project called Motivational Interviewing to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance (MIICOVAC) to learn about vaccine hesitancy across Canada. Through that project, you can book a one-on-one virtual meeting with experts who can answer your vaccine-related questions.

d’Entremont covers a lot of ground here, including why we need to still get vaccinated after we’ve had COVID. Here’s Tokhmafshan’s answer:

The analogy I try to use is to imagine you’re part of a class and your teacher is helping you prepare. They hand out study material, but they hand out different study materials to different people. So a group of kids in your class get stacks of paper to study, another group gets maybe five or six pages to study, a third group gets one sheet, and a fourth group gets nothing.

That’s sort of like how infection-generated immunity works. You never know how much training your body or immune system is going to get to prepare for the test, which is the impending infection with the virus.

But the beauty of the vaccine is that we have standardized it. We are exposing everybody to the same amount of learning and teaching material. All the students in the class are getting the same amount of paper to study.

Now, it’s true that some of them will do better on the test than others, just because that’s how the human body works. There are genetic factors, your risk factors are different. Some students, despite getting the same amount of study material, might fail — those are the people who still get infected or might get a little sick.

But because we’ve standardized your immune system’s learning material, the chances of more people doing well is higher. That’s why vaccine generated immunity is better.

That’s why even if you were infected, you should still go get your third shot, fourth shot. Be up to date with your vaccine because you never know how much study material your body got.

Click here to read d’Entremont’s interview.

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4. Sunshine list

“Halifax released its 2022 sunshine list on Tuesday, showing the employees who earned more than $100,000 last fiscal year,” reports Zane Woodford. 

And who’s at the top of the list? Outgoing chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé got a raise last year. His salary was $313,225.08 in total compensation. That’s up 5% from last year’s $298,163.57.

Dubé was the only employee over that $300,000 mark, but everyone in the top 10 of the list also got raises.

There are 1,117 employees on the sunshine list, including those at Halifax Water and Halifax Public Libraries. Cops make up 41% of the list while firefighters make up the second largest group of employees at 36% of the list. Woodford includes a searchable table of the employees in his article, which you can read here.

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5. Cop lawsuit

Halifax Regional Police headquarters on Gottingen Street in June 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“A Montreal man is suing Halifax Regional Police, alleging officers arrested him without cause, broke his shoulder, and called him a ‘piece of shit,’” reports Woodford in his second story.

A lawyer for Murray James filed a notice of action in Nova Scotia Supreme Court earlier this month, naming the police and Matthew Ryan, believed to live in Cape Breton, as defendants.

None of the allegations in the statement of claim has been tested in court, and the defendants have yet to file statements of defence.

James claims he was sitting on his motorcycle, parked near the corner of Sackville and Brunswick streets in downtown Halifax “during the early morning hours” of August 23, 2021. At least seven police vehicles and at least eight officers “abruptly approached and surrounded” him, “several” with their guns drawn and pointed at him.

Officers told James to put his hands up and walk backwards towards them. He says he did so, and then officers grabbed him by his head and shoulders “without reason cause or justification.”

During that process, “he heard a pop-sound emanating from his shoulder and suffered immediate contemporaneous excruciating pain.”

“Same was later determined and diagnosed to be a broken shoulder which required emergency surgery,” James’ lawyer, Ian Joyce, wrote in the Aug. 10 filing.

As Woodford wrote, in the lawsuit, Murray states, “Halifax Regional Police chose or failed to conduct any investigation prior to its approach, apprehension, detainment, arrest and imprisonment of the Plaintiff.”

Click here to read Woodford’s story.

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Views

Choice words for people who don’t like female politicians swearing and dancing

Last week, Sanna Marin, the prime minister of Finland, defended herself for having a good time on her down time.

If you’re not aware, a video of 36-year-old Marin and her friends partying was making the rounds on social media. So were photos of two of Marin’s friends posing topless at her home. The “do better” social media crowd was having none of it. For daring to have fun, Marin faced plenty of backlash. She spoke about it in a recent tearful speech:

During these dark times, I too need some joy, light, and fun. And that involves all sorts of photos and video, which I would not like to see, and I know you would not like to see. It’s private, it’s joyful, and it’s life.

But I have not missed a single day of work, a single task, and I never will.

Over the last couple of days, many women, including Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Joan Baez, all came to Marin’s defence, telling her to never stop dancing.

Meanwhile in Peterborough, Ontario, Diane Therrien, that city’s mayor, continues to defend her use of expletives she tweeted out earlier this month. The tweet, which was in response to QAnon conspiracy theorists gathered outside Peterborough’s police station, said this:

People have been asking me to comment on the events of the past weekend in #ptbo. I hate giving airtime/spotlight to these imbeciles. Here is my comment: fuck off, you fuckwads.

Therrian gave all sorts of interviews about the f-bombs in that tweet, including this one with Susan Bonner at CBC in which Therrien said she’s “a fan of profanities:”

I’m a millennial, so maybe that’s part of it. You know, I grew up learning the value of talking scholarly when I have to. I mean, I have a master’s degree, so I can talk to you in a scholarly language when I need to. But I can also talk to people on the level that they deserve to be talked to. And these people have treated the city — not just Peterborough, we’ve seen it in Ottawa, across the country — they treat communities and people with disrespect constantly. And yet they get outraged when we respond with that kind of disrespect.

Therrien said she was getting lots of support for what she wrote, but said there were others who disapproved of her use of coarse language. She added when men use the same language, the reaction is much different (she’s right).

Dean Blundell at Dean Blundell News, Sports and Podcast Network printed Therrien’s words on a t-shirt that’s now being sold online with the proceeds going to a non-profit that offers support and for people who are living with, affected by, or at risk for HIV.

I was thinking about Marin and Therrien last night and the unrealistic expectations put on women, including the women we elect as leaders. We must always be nice, all sugar and spice — but not too much spice. Have fun, but not too much fun. And definitely don’t film it for others to shame.

Certainly, some of Marin and Therrien’s critics grew up in the old days they remember as being “good,” and when their own behaviour was better (so they think). Nothing was recorded, photographed, and shared on social media for all to see and share. Oh, but surely there was fun to be had and bad words to be said.

I was Marin and Therrien’s age back in 2007. That was the year I opened a Facebook account. It would be another three years before I owned a cellphone. And that was a flip phone that couldn’t take photos or videos. In 2012, I opened a Twitter account. So none of my 20s and much of my 30s are documented anywhere on social media. It doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time; it just means no one has the video or photo proof to use against me. You’re likely the same.

While women are expected to be nice all the time, and defend their decisions when people disapprove of their behaviour, these same women are also dealing with harassment, violence, and threats, online and off. And that abuse seems to be escalating. Racialized women face even more of it. Journalist Rachel Gilmore, who covers federal politics for Global, has been sharing some of the harassment and violence she faces via her Twitter account. The threats often move to in-person, as we saw last week when a man hurled profanities at deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland (RCMP are investigating).

Other women politicians, including Jyoti Gondek, the mayor of Calgary, shared their stories of abuse. In a Twitter thread, Gondek wrote about what she faced during the 2017 municipal elections and earlier this year: 

I am sharing all of this now because you need to know that there are people who feel that their freedoms involve being able to intimidate others. They go after journalists & politicians with no fear of retribution. And we’re left to compartmentalize so we can do our work.

The cold reality is that we all know the Deputy Prime Minister will be targeted again. We know I will be targeted again. All the stories that are being shared by journalists & politicians should show you it will happen again. And the next time may result in injury or death.

If we want young women to put their names on ballots — or really, to do any job — we have to not only accept they have lives outside of that work, but also stand up against the abuse and threats they face.

Marin was right. We all need some joy, light, and fun in these dark times. But instead of shaming these women for living that joy, we should turn our attention toward the hate women — all women — experience online and off.

And if you’re still more offended that women dance and swear than you are by the people who threaten them, I have two words for you: Fuck that.

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Noticed

If you’ve been out to a restaurant or a bar lately, you may have noticed the tipping options have changed on the debit machines when you go to pay the bill. In many cases, those machines have set options of how much you can tip, usually 15%, 18%, 20%, and then a custom tip option. But it seems the numbers on those buttons are getting higher and people are tipping more. 

CBC’s Cost of Living recently did a show on “tip-flation” that said according to Restaurants Canada 44% of Canadians are indeed tipping more.  

All of this higher tipping started early in the pandemic when we were at home in lockdown, but still ordering deliver and takeout. Customers were leaving higher tips for people making and delivering their food. And then restaurants ran with that option. 

Show hosts Jennifer Keene and Danielle Nerman talked with servers, owners, and restaurant reviewers about what all this higher tipping means. 

Elizabeth Carson, a restaurant reviewer in Calgary who dines out three to six times a week, has noticed the change in those tip options. She told CBC she’s seen a 30% option on the debit machine at one restaurant. Carsen suggested customers do the calculations themselves and don’t rely on the options given on the machine.

The restaurant owners, of course, set those options on the machines. But the tap machines encourage us to give more. It’s called the “choice architecture.” Simon Peck, an associate professor at the University of Victoria who studies tipping, said the options on the machine not only give the message that tipping is expected, but the ranges influence how much we tip, too. 

“If those numbers are higher, it makes us think that a higher tip is more appropriate in this context,” Peck told CBC.

Jackie Titherington, who manages a diner where they upped their top suggested tip from 20% to 22%, thinks any amount higher than that is excessive. She said people might think it’s a “turn off.” 

Meanwhile a server named said she didn’t expect any more than 18%, saying she understood that many people are struggling to make ends meet right now.

Of course, many restaurant workers make minimum wage and tips can make a big difference. But as Keane and Nuram point out, not all servers get those tips. In some cases, servers tip out to other staff, including the host, food runners, and the kitchen. 

In many provinces, including Nova Scotia, it’s legal for owners to take a cut of the tips. In some cases, the owners can take all of the tips. CBC talked with Shawn who worked in a pizza takeout place where all the tips they collected when to the owners. In my 20 years of bartending and serving, I always worked at place where there was some sort of tip-out system. I worked in two places where the owners got a cut, in some cases a HUGE cut of the tips. In one case, my colleagues and I had to tip 7% in what the owners called “HST” and we weren’t allowed to ask about it. This is so dirty. 

But many customers don’t know this happens. You can ask your server if they get the tips, but how many will honestly say if the owners take a cut? 

So, have you noticed “tip-flation” in Halifax? How much do you think is too much to tip? You can listen to the full show here.  

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Government

City

Wednesday

District Boundary Resident Review Panel (Wednesday, 3:30pm, City Hall) — agenda

Thursday

Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — their first meeting since March

Province

No meetings


On campus

No events


In the harbour

Halifax
04:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for Savannah, Georgia
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 36 from St. John’s
07:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, arrives at Dockyard from sea
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 42
16:30: MOL Charisma, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
18:00: CMA CGM Corte Real, container ship (150,269 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka

Cape Breton
09:45: Nordbay, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
10:45: Sonangol Namibe, oil tanker, moves from outer anchorage to Point Tupper
13:00: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry north through the causeway to sea
19:15: CSL Argosy, bulker, moves from Pirate Harbour anchorage to Aulds Cove quarry


Footnotes

Small History NS, the Twitter account that shares bits of daily news c.1880–1910 published in newspapers from rural and small-town Nova Scotia, shared this bit last night:

I joked that I once vomited in Pictou because of the pizza and vodka coolers. There are no photos or videos of it.


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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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11 Comments

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  1. “fuck off you fuckwads”? Excellent. Partying with your friends on your own time? Also Excellent. Telling people who judge you for partying with your friends on your own time? Tell those fuckwads to fuck off. Filming and posting your private time partying with your friends? Perhaps you may also be a fuckwad?

  2. Meredith Ralston wrote a interesting book called, Slut-Shaming Whorephobia and the Unfinished Sexual Revolution. The book focuses on the fact that in patriarchal cultures, we erroneously believe men have very little control over their powerful sex drive. “Boys will be boys” is what we assume. Because of this, we create a system where women must always be the gatekeepers of any sexual activity. This is easier for women who we erroneously believe to have very little sexual desire. Women who openly display sexual desire in any way are a threat to the system and are disparaged, slut shamed and considered deceitful by nature. In many cases of sexual assault, any physical contact in question is viewed as consensual because it is always the woman’s responsibility to prevent a sexual encounter. Hence the questions like, “Why were you wearing a short skirt?” or “Why did you invite the accused into your home? Therefore if any physical contact occurs, the woman must have been aroused and consenting which now places her in the trouble making, deceitful slut category. Case closed for patriarchy. The book discusses many other societal sexual prejudices that most of us seem to support instead of question. But the existence of accepted sexual roles linked with a level of responsibility from none to all, provides insight into the lack of interest/ belief we give to women who report sexual assaults.

  3. I’ll confess to being incredibly ignorant about what a carbon tax is; how it is supposed to work; how any amounts are rebated; and what effect it will have on a single person living below the poverty line. Does anyone out there have an explanation that won’t bury me in jargon/terminology I won’t understand that might help me (possibly) work out how much this will impact my already tight budget for next year?

    1. You will get a payment every 3 months based on your income. You will pay the carbon tax through an increase in the cost of almost everything and you will be in even more dire straits for 3 months until a payment arrives from the federal government. Apparently the NDP supports making marginalised people even more marginalised; The Liberals will make sure you receive a larger payment just a few weeks before an election and if you are not ‘middle class’ he does not care how you live or how you vote and Jagmeet Singh is propping up the Liberals because the NDP have plenty of supporters but not many of them donate to the party.

    2. Government adds a tax to things like gas and heating oil. The point of the tax is to discourage consumption and encourage conservation – the less gas you use, the less carbon tax you pay. Since any new tax can be hard for people on lower incomes, and since lower income people may have fewer options for conservation, the government also gives a portion of the collected tax back to everyone who pays it.
      For many people, the portion they get back is greater than what they pay towards the carbon tax. In short, the higher costs of oil and gas encourage conservation, and people who might be hurt by the higher cost are assisted.
      A single person in a city in Ontario gets $373 this year, in four payments, to cover the additional expense of the carbon tax. More numbers here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2022/03/climate-action-incentive-payment-amounts-for-2022-23.html

  4. A yahoo shouting the F word at Ms Freeland is not as bad as the actions of young female protesters roughing up Ms Freeland when she tried to enter HRM City hall in 2020. Ms Freeland said that was the first time a protester had put hands on her. ”

    She makes a comment in the final 15 seconds of this link : https://globalnews.ca/news/6543949/freeland-physically-blocked-by-demonstrators/
    Prior to her meeting with Savage, demonstrators created a human wall in front of City Hall to block Freeland from entering.
    Freeland said this was the first time she was physically blocked from a meeting.

    “This is the first time that people have touched me physically, and physically tried to prevent me from doing something,” she said.-confronted-by-pipeline-protesters-in-halifax”