1. Calvin Clarke v Halifax Herald Ltd.
A two-day trial began yesterday in Halifax. The plaintiff is Calvin Clarke. The defendant is Halifax Herald Ltd., the company that publishes the Chronicle Herald and owns several related businesses, including Bounty Printing and Headline Promotions. Clarke is suing for wrongful dismissal.
Clarke’s testimony yesterday provided lots of details about the Herald businesses and their financial positions, information that the privately owned company keeps tightly guarded.
On the stand, Clarke described himself as “a Herald man.” His father worked for the Herald for 35 years, rising from “runner to sales to national advertising and flyer distribution manager,” said Clarke.
Like his father before him, Calvin Clarke worked his way up the corporate ladder. He started at the Herald in 1994, when he was completing a business degree at SMU. After he graduated, he was hired full-time. He told the court that as a junior account executive, he doubled his sales from $250,000 annually to $500,000 annually, and was promoted to senior account executive, where he often had sales exceeding a million dollars annually.
Clarke explained that he was paid a base salary of $24,000, but then a commission based on the previous year’s sales. He would be given a sales target of 10 percent over the previous year, and if he met it, was paid a five per cent commission. If he failed to meet it, he was paid three and a half percent. Because the state of the economy varied, he sometimes met his targets, and sometimes didn’t. In 2011, he was paid $95,082; in 2012, $73,883; but then in 2013 he was back up to $93,330.
In 2014, Clarke took the first of two medical leaves. Because he was out for about two months, he took home only $76,036, but the Herald is claiming that it mistakenly overpaid him by $10,000.
Clarke took another two-month medical leave in 2015, and the court case revolves around how he was treated on his return to work on March 2 of that year.
Clarke said he was excited about returning to work — so excited that he arrived at the office at 7:45am. But he found that the key card he used to open the door didn’t work, so he had to get security at Manual Life to give him a new one. He then made his way to his desk, only to find that he had been locked out of his computer. And, his files were gone.
At 8:30, Clarke’s immediate boss, Derick Rayner, told Clarke to wait around for Alex Liot, the VP of Sales, to show up. Liot met with Clarke at 11am, and told Clarke that the company had “decided to transfer me into a new job as business development specialist,” testified Clarke.
Liot told Clarke that the new position would be split, with 75 per cent of his time dedicated to Bounty, and 25 per cent to Headline, where he was to develop a new business line in sports apparel.
“I was taken aback,” said Clarke. “I had been working for the company for 21 years in sales, as a senior account executive. I was good at what I did. Now, I’m selling business cards and brochures and now I’m selling sports apparel to sports teams… I went a little numb.”
Clarke said he considered the job all day and discussed it with his father. In the end, he accepted the reassignment.
But he soon found the proposed job was an impossible duty.
In 2014, Clarke said, Bounty had total sales of $4.103 million dollars, and the company was setting a 2015 target at $4.473 million. Clarke was to take over the accounts that had been in the control of Bounty president Aubrey Graham. In 2014, those accounts brought in $1.3 million. Clarke was to increase sales for those accounts to $1.4 million, but then also bring in $200,000 in new business, for a total of $1.6 million.
The problem was, said Clarke, those accounts were a mess. One account was held by two different sales reps. The situation was so disorganized that Clarke’s first order of business was to create a list of accounts and figure out where they stood.
Bounty’s biggest account was the Chronicle Herald itself. The Herald paid Bounty $449,223 in 2013, and $612,036 in 2014. Clarke would get no commission on Herald sales, but worse yet, the big increase of sales to the Herald made Bounty look more profitable. In reality, however, those sales masked a loss of about $150,000 in non-Herald sales.
Bounty’s second largest client was Eastlink, with sales of $325,280 in 2013, and $173,567 in 2014. Mid-year in 2014, Eastlink cancelled its Bounty contract and took all its business to Queen’s Printing.
And Clarke saw no opportunity in the printing business. He went around to long-time customers, but unlike in his former job in advertising sales, he found no opportunity for expanded business lines or new products. People reordered business cards when they needed them, and not before. Customers were increasingly going to electronic brochures and flyers. There just wasn’t the potential for much of an increase in sales, he thought.
Moreover, the printing business is a “three tender opportunity” — purchasing agents put out a tender, and the lowest bidder gets the work. There’s no opportunity for value added sales or other opportunities.
“It was in decline,” Clarke said of Bounty.
The situation at Headline was far worse, he found.
Headline Promotions had been in the swag business, but now wanted to get into sports apparel. Clarke’s job was to develop a new product line and start selling to sports teams. Headline’s total sales in 2014 were $575,000, and Clarke was to bring in $260,000 in new business through the sports apparel lines.
What he quickly found, however, was that Headline was not in a position to make sales to teams. Clarke compiled a list of every local sports team and then started cold-calling them, starting with the Sackville Flyers. The manager at the Flyers told him the team had a 30-year relationship with Sportswheels, a Sackville firm, and wasn’t about to give that up, no matter what incentives Clarke could offer.
Going through his list, Clarke found that the sports team apparel business is dominated by three major firms — Cleves, Prodigy Sport, and Sportwheels. “The incumbents are entrenched,” he said. And the bigger firms could offer incentives like related sports equipment that are unavailable to Headline.
Indicative of how badly Headline had approached the business, said Clarke, was that the company had no relationship with Adidas, one of the largest apparel wholesalers.
Clarke went on to say that even though he thought the sales targets he had been handed were impossible to meet, he went ahead and calculated what his commission would be if he actually met them. He had four different scenarios, the lowest coming in at about $57,000, and the highest (but very unlikely to be met) at $84,000.
I had to leave the trial at that point, but it’s clear that Clarke’s claim is that the Herald was setting him up to fail, and even if it wasn’t, was effectively demoting him, at least in salary, in retribution for being sick.
I’ll try to stop by again today and see what else happens.
2. Quebec wants shipbuilding money
“Quebec is formally calling on the federal government to rejig its massive shipbuilding strategy in order to give the province a bigger share of the multibillion-dollar pie,” reports Andrea Gunn for the Chronicle Herald:
Members of the Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed a motion Wednesday requesting that the federal government adjust Canada’s national shipbuilding strategy so Quebec gets what it believes is its fair share of federal contracts. The motion also asked Ottawa to “grant Quebec the contracts necessary” for the replacement of coast guard and Royal Canadian Navy ships, including the acquisition of a second Resolve-class tanker.
Responding to the motion, the province’s major shipbuilder, Chantier Davie Canada Inc., issued a news release commending the Quebec government.
“The federal government is going to invest almost $100 billion over the next 20 to 30 years on its fleet renewal,” Alex Vicefield, chairman of Davie Shipyard, said in the release. “Quebec represents 50 per cent of Canada’s shipbuilding capacity and 23 per cent of Canada’s tax base, yet it is receiving less than one per cent of federal spending on shipbuilding.
“Today, Quebec is at risk of losing a significant number of middle-class jobs due to bureaucratic intransigence and road-blocks within a broken procurement system, despite the clear and obvious need for Canada to urgently renew the entirety of its fleet.”
3. Hoaxsters at large
“Police in Halifax are investigating two separate cases of straight pins being found in Halloween chocolate bars, adding to a number of candy-tampering incidents across the region,” reports the Canadian Press:
Investigators said Wednesday officers were called to a home in Dartmouth last Wednesday after a parent found a straight pin inserted inside the wrapper of a chocolate bar.
The next day, a 14-year-old girl was going through her Halloween candy when she also found a straight pin inserted inside the wrapper of a chocolate bar, police said.
The children in those incidents had been trick-or-treating in the Crichton Park area and on Russell Street, Wyse Road and Victoria Road in Dartmouth.
Er, that’s my neighbourhood. But I promise I didn’t put any pins in chocolate bars — I ate the rest of the box last night, and no sliced throat.
I’d be happy to be wrong about this… wait a minute, no I wouldn’t, because that would mean multiple people all over the area are sticking needles into candy bars and then giving them to children. Let me just put it this way: the police are only pretending to investigate this because they know all the reports are hoaxes. No one will be arrested, much less charged, and then we’ll do the whole thing all over again next year.
Or, just know there are a bunch of little shits out there.
Glen Kaye took a picture of a bobcat but insists it’s a lynx.
1. “Halifax on the rise”
I couldn’t help but notice the headline across the top of page 6 in last Thursday’s Chronicle-Herald : “Halifax on the rise, says Savage.” Accompanied by a photo of the mayor himself, the story reported on Savage’s speech to a luncheon put on by the chamber of commerce and the Halifax Partnership.
Starr goes on to unpack the stats the mayor put forward — and those he didn’t — concluding:
Unemployment among 15 to 24 year-olds was 17.1% in October, second highest in Canada and up a rather startling 45% from October 2016. That 45% increase represents the rate. The number of unemployed youth has gone from 4,500 to 6,100 – an increase of 36%. And think how much worse those numbers could have been if so many of these young people hadn’t left town.
… October marked the sixth month in a row that the rate of unemployment among young Halifax workers exceeded 16%. The last time the Halifax rate hovered around such a high level for half the year was in 2002.
It may be a bit of an overstatement to throw out a headline such as “Halifax faces a youth unemployment crisis.” But there’s at least as much evidence to support such a headline as there is the “On the rise…” that trumpeted the mayor’s speech to the business crowd.
2. Cranky letter of the day
We have lived on the Deepdale Road for 41 years and in that time have seen this beautiful by way decay and degrade into a pothole infested, ditch-less track.
Like all the other Deepdalers who have cursed and moaned as we tiptoed with our battered vehicles around minefields of potholes to get to work, the Co-op, or the garage.
That being said, we’d like to thank those people who led a determined drive to get the tremendous work being done on our beautiful road.
The efforts of Liz and Noel Parsons, Alexander McKinnon, and Barbara MacLellan have to be acknowledged and applauded. I would also like to thank the politicians of all levels who listened to us at the rallys and reacted to our concerns.
We want to invite those people back to Deepdale for their Sunday drive without having the “shock treatment” of the last 30 years.
Beth & Tom Ryan
I’ve been playing around with Google Books’ Ngram Viewer, which compares the usage of various words against each other over time, as a percentage found in books Google has scanned.
My interest was in the adjective “innovative” and its noun, “innovation.” Curiously, the noun was in steady use for a long time, while its corresponding adjective doesn’t make much of an appearance until around 1960, when both words began a steady rise upwards in usage. (Click here for full graph.)
A look at synonyms over the past few decades is interesting. Since 1960, boring old “inventive” gets used at a steady rate, while “innovative” has in large part replaced (and more) “ingenious.” (Click here for full graph.)
Going back to centuries, however, we see a more pronounced trend: while it existed before, “ingenious” appears to have been embraced by the Enlightenment, and then got into high gear with the Industrial Revolution, but then fell into increasing disuse from the beginning of the 19th century to the present. (Click here for full graph.)
Alas, my preferred word, “newfangled,” doesn’t make much of an appearance except, weirdly, in the late 16th century. (Click here for full graph.)
This high use of “newfangled” can be attributed to the publication of two books. The first is “Pleasant Quippes for Upstart Newfangled Gentlewomen: A treatise on the pride and abuse of women,” written by the English poet Charles Bansley, who had his, er, issues with women. Says the Dictionary of National Biography:
BANSLEY, CHARLES (fl. 1548), poet, clearly wrote in the time of Henry VIII and Edward VI, but the dates of his birth and death are unknown. He is remarkable for a rhyming satire on the love of dress in women, which concludes with a benediction on the latter monarch, and commences with the line
Bo pepe what have I spyed!
There can be no doubt of Bansley’s religious opinions. Speaking in his poem of the feminine love for light raiment, he says—
From Rome, from Rome, thys carkered pryde,
From Rome it came doubtles:
Away for shame wyth soch filthy baggage,
As smels of papery and develyshnes!
He also complains very seriously that foolish mothers made “Roman monsters” of their children. Perhaps, it has been said, he was an unworthy and therefore justly rejected suitor, and revenged himself by this wholesale attack on the sex. But the attack is not wholesale, as he expressly excepts right worthy, sad, and plain women who walk in godly wise. Indeed the whole satire is mainly directed against extravagant attire.
The second book was “An Examen of the Calendar or Catalogue of Protestant Saynts, Martyrs and Confessors,” which, if I have this right (I may not), was Robert Parsons’ review of John Fox’s original. Evidently the book was popular, and so this single reference puts “newfangled” on the map, or at least on the Ngraph:
And so the bishops of Lincoln, Coventry, and other places of England were somewhat vigilant at that time, which Fox assigns, in looking into the actions, meetings, and conventicles of such busy and newfangled people, as went up and down from house to house, pretending to teach only the Lord’s Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments in English, but under that presence indeed taught other new doctrines and opinions, as Fox himself here confesses: they had reason, as yow fee. And yet it is strange impudency for him to affirm without proving it, that for this only, they were put to deat, to wit for teaching the Lord’s Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments in English. And so much of this.
Ah, those religious wars.
The term “yow fee” turns up in Shakespeare and a lot of other Middle and newly modern English, but I don’t have time to track that down.
However, I like the dismissive “And so much of this.”
Public Information Meeting – Case 21169 (Thursday, 7pm, Bedford-Hammond Plains Community Centre) — a car wash in Bedford.
No public meetings.
No public meetings.
Lessons Learned from Computing in Industry (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 127, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Dave Kasik, who was Boeing’s Senior Technical Fellow in visualization and interactive techniques until he retired in 2016, will speak.
Café Scientifique (Thursday, 6:30pm, Room C170, Collaborative Health and Education Building) — a discussion of factors that promote mental and emotional health. From the event listing:
Genetic testing can reveal a person’s unique risks for various illnesses, as well as the most effective treatments. Is there a safe and ethical way to move from a “one size fits all” approach to the treatment of mental illness? How will we know if there is, or soon will be, a drug or treatment or tailored combination of the two that will work better for you than it would for someone else? Please join our experts for an open and informal public discussion of factors that promote mental and emotional health.
Unrest (Thursday, 6:30pm, in the auditorium named after a bank, Marion McCain Building) — a screening of the documentary about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, followed by a discussion.
Mini Medical School (Thursday, 7pm, Theatre C, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Shannon MacPhee will speak on “Pediatric Emergency,” followed at 8:15pm by Kirk Magee with “Low Back Pain in the Emergency Department — Really?”
Remembering Turtle Grove/Across the Narrows (Thursday, 7pm, Alderney Gate Public Library) — a panel discussion about Turtle Grove and other Indigenous communities in HRM, with Mi’kmaw film-maker and cultural historian Catherine Anne Martin and NiS+TS members Barbara Lounder and Mary Elizabeth Luka.
Chemical Biology Probes from the Bottom of the Periodic Table (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Mark Nitz from the University of Toronto will speak.
The Northern Ireland Peace Process (Thursday, 4pm, McNally Theatre Auditorium) — General John de Chastelain, the former Chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning in Northern Ireland, will speak.
Governing the Coastal Commons: Communities, Resilience and Transformation(Thursday, 2pm, Patrick Power Library) — Tony Charles will talk about his book.
In the harbour
0:30am: BBC Vesuvius, general cargo, arrives at Pier 27 from Seville, Spain
11am: E.R. Tiamping, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
11am: BBC Vesuvius, general cargo, sails from Pier 27 for sea
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
Noon: NYK Terra, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
4:30pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport back to Pier 41
6pm: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Baltimore
We’re recording Examineradio today.