1. Sears stiffs its employees while vulture capitalists profit
Writes Stephen Kimber:
“Just six dollars,” the woman behind the counter said cheerfully. “Gotta love health benefits.” “Actually,” replied the man, “I’m losing mine.”
The man is 64; he’s worked for Sears for more than 30 years. And he isn’t just losing his job and the family medical and dental benefits that go with it. The company has announced it won’t even be providing a severance package to him or the others it will soon jettison, nor will it continue to pay those currently receiving promised monthly severance payments as a result of earlier layoffs. And on Thursday, the company will go to court to try to also suspend monthly payments it had been making to its under-funded defined benefit pension plan and stop providing health benefits for 6,000 retirees.
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2. Examineradio, episode #119
Halifax rarely makes the national news unless it’s for something reprehensible, whether that’s cross-burnings, racial profiling, or entrenched systemic racism. Now, the city has a local chapter of the pro-European, anti-masturbation Proud Boys to call their very own.
Globe & Mail writer and editor, as well as host of the popular podcast Colour Code, Denise Balkissoon joins us to discuss trying to discover Nova Scotia’s Black history as a tourist. Turns out it’s easier said than done.
3. Clayton Miller
The Miller family has kept the 1990 death of their 17-year-old son Clayton in the public memory all these years, with his father Gervase Miller often seen walking around New Waterford with a sign reading “Police Murdered Clayton.”
Recently, the family has retained the services of Wagner’s, a law firm with a reputation for splashy news conferences. (I don’t say that with derision; I’m just noting that the firm runs contrary to the reserve that characterizes most Nova Scotian law firms — that’s a good thing.) And today, the firm is holding a news conference to announce “new developments” in Clayton’s case:
Clayton Miller, a 17 year-old-boy from New Waterford, Cape Breton, was last seen by his parents, Maureen and Gervase, the evening of Friday May 4, 1990. That night approximately 60 New Waterford teens, including Clayton, gathered at a party outdoors in New Waterford at “The Nest.” Sometime before 10:00 p.m., six members of the New Waterford Police (NWP) — at the time, a force with a reputation for being particularly rough — raided the party, arresting ten youths in total.
When Clayton still had not returned home by 1:00 a.m., the Millers started to worry. On Saturday May 5, 1990, Gerald Coady and Baxter Thorne walked along the stream by The Nest, in search of a case of beer they’d dumped the night before. They found nothing. Sheila MacLean also walked along the stream through The Nest that day. She found nothing. Nor did any other individual who passed through the Nest that day.
On May 6, 1990, Clayton’s body was found face down, in a shallow stream by The Nest. He was wearing a bright red sweater. The NWP did not preserve the scene, and took no photographs.
Three pathologists have reached three different conclusions as to the cause of death: one concluded Clayton died of pulmonary emphysema and drowning; a second cited hypothermia; and a third determined Clayton died from compression of the neck (i.e. a choke hold).
“There are so many unanswered questions. It is astounding and disheartening that notwithstanding the amount of inconsistent, conflicting, and at times illogical evidence and conclusions drawn in many aspects of this case, justice has still not been served,” stated the Miller’s lawyer, Ray Wagner, Q.C. “We are getting to the bottom of this at our expense, and will expose the truth of what happened to Clayton. This Press Conference is only the beginning.”
The case has long intrigued me, but New Waterford has been too distant to adequately investigate with my limited time and budget. Still, it’s easy to get pulled into the details of Clayton’s death; a good place to start is the Justice For Clayton Miller Facebook page.
Besides the circumstances of Clayton’s death, reports that he had been seen alive in police custody, and the odd discovery of his body, the case is a window into the culture of New Waterford, a town that for good reason feels itself wronged on many fronts.
I’ll drop by the press conference today to see what they have to say.
The province’s deal with Lafarge to burn tires at the Brookfield cement plant is raising eyebrows, reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:
Until this spring, all the tires in the province were being sent to Halifax C & D Recycling for shredding and use as aggregate in construction projects. Now, 30 per cent of the approximately one million tires a year will go to Lafarge.
When you buy tires in Nova Scotia, there is a $4.50 environmental handling fee added to the cost of each tire (it’s $13.50 for a tire between 17 and 24.5 inches). That money is used to fund the diversion program, meaning C & D and Lafarge are paid for taking and processing the tires.
Lafarge is being paid half what C & D is getting — $105 per metric tonne versus $200.
“I’m really upset at Divert [the province’s recycling program] and, personally, I don’t feel like paying that [$4.50] fee if it’s going toward subsidizing the fuel costs of one of the largest corporations in the world,” said Mark Butler, policy director at the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.
“It’s better to recycle than fuel recovery and that’s what they should be prioritizing.”
5. Yacht race
The 37th Biennial Marblehead-to-Halifax Ocean Race started yesterday, with the first boats expected to reach Halifax tomorrow morning.
The race, which is hosted by the Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, dates back to 1905:
This informal race continued sporadically until 1939 when BYC (the third oldest yacht club in the US) teamed with RNSYS (the oldest yacht club in North America) and formalized the biennial event. There was a break in the race during WWII, but it resumed in 1947. Since that time, the MHOR has run continuously, alternating years with the Newport to Bermuda Race, and is considered the pre-eminent North Atlantic Ocean race. Oddly, in Boston it’s called the Halifax race and in Halifax it’s called the Marblehead.
Whatever its name, the race begins in the early afternoon on the first Sunday after July 4th at Tinker’s Gong just outside Marblehead Harbor. It runs approximately 360 Nautical miles northeast across the Gulf of Maine and through the strong tidal currents at the entrance to the Bay of Fundy (a blessing or a curse and sometimes both) thence up the shore to a finish in Halifax Harbour.
In 2017, this race has been running, with a hiatus or two, for 112 years. It predates the first running of the Newport-Bermuda and the Transpacific yacht races by a year (both began in 1906) and is believed to be the longest running offshore ocean race in the world. (The America’s Cup (1851) is not an offshore race and the Chicago-Mackinac race (1898) is not an ocean race.)
The yacht race is mostly a rich person’s game, but it’s long surprised me that there isn’t more recreational sailing around Halifax. There is a lot more in my native Virginia, where it seemed like every third person I knew had a Laser or just a Sunfish or some such. The bays, inlets, and tidal rivers around Hampton Roads are always dotted with sails, so it’s weird looking out onto Halifax Harbour most days and seeing none. Maybe the water’s too cold, or maybe it’s harder to access the water here.
Grants Committee (Monday, 1pm, City Hall) — the committee is being asked to approve lump sum payments of $20,000 to the MusGo Rider Cooperative and $5,000 to BayRides, plus a 42¢/kilometre operating subsidy, up to $105,000 (for a total of $130,000). The $20,000 to MusGo is split between the Musquodoboit and Valley/Sheet Harbour operations.
Typically, the services are subsidized at a rate of 50¢ a kilometre, but there’s only enough money in the dedicated fund for a 42¢ subsidy. The difference is only $18,500, and the services usually overestimate their expected in-service distance, so my guess is the committee will recommend that council pay out the 50¢ subsidy, to up to $123,500, for a total of $148,500 including the lump sum payments.
No public meetings.
No meetings this month.
Thesis Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Monday, 10:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Kyle Levesque will defend his thesis, “New Insights into the Relation of Morphological Awareness and Reading Comprehension in Children.”
No public events.
In the harbour
6:30am: Vega Omega, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 41 from San Juan, Puerto Rico
9am: Piltene, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Imperial Oil
10:30am: YM Enlightenment, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for sea
12:45pm: Europa, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Magdalen Islands
It’s like summer, which is surprising.