1. On taking sides with the Chronicle Herald
Yesterday, I published the names of companies and publications listed in the “media kit” produced by the Chronicle Herald — that is, places where the the Chronicle Herald purports to sell ad space. These include The Quad County Weekly, the Casket, Dakai Maritimes, the Dalhousie Gazette, Goalline.ca, CanadaSelect.com, Nova Scotia Webcams, Cream Careers, and Transit 360.
Some of these ad targets — like the Quad County Weekly and the Casket — are owned by the Herald, Ltd outright. In the case of Transit 360, the Herald owns a minority stake in the company. In others, there is a contractual relationship — the company in question allows the Herald to sell ad space, and the two firms split revenue.
I say the Herald “purports” to sell ads at these companies because it turns out that in at least a couple of the cases, the Herald ad team has never sold a single ad, and in the case of the Dalhousie Gazette, the people at the Gazette didn’t even know such a relationship existed.
When I listed the Nova Scotia Webcams yesterday, I commented that “every time you look at a cool picture from the harbour web cam, you’re helping take a job from an experienced reporter.” This prompted an exchange with Webcams owner Ralf Pickart, who objected to that characterization.
I told Pickart that the Herald is using the number of hits on the Webcams site to pitch ads to potential buyers, and that he should refuse to accept Herald-sold ads for the duration of the strike.
“Our ‘relationship’ with the Herald was that they had the option to sell our advertising inventory,” Pickart told me. “Nothing more, nothing less. Gain for both sides: $0.”
We had a bit of a back-and-forth, and then Pickart told me that “because I’m not interested in getting dragged into a labour dispute, I asked them to remove Nova Scotia Webcams from their media kit. I’m not taking any sides here.”
Here’s the thing, though: it’s impossible to not take a side in a labour dispute. You either cross the picket line or you don’t. You can’t claim neutrality. And doing business with the Herald is crossing the picket line.
Pickart insists he hasn’t taken a side, but by asking to be removed from the media kit, he has. And it’s the right side to take. I’m looking at pretty harbour pictures today.
I understand that Pickart (and I’m told, the people at GoalLine.ca) are in a difficult situation. It’s not of their making, and I’m sure they’d rather not deal with it. But it’s the Herald that has put them in this situation, by attacking its workers.
The labour dispute at the Herald is not just a private business matter. It’s a community issue that touches all of us, and each of us has to figure out our moral position. We are all players. Do we want a well-paid professional reporting force or not? Do we value quality journalism, or are we content with the scab-generated garbage the Chronicle Herald has been spewing since the strike began? Do we stand in solidarity with our colleagues and neighbours, or do we abandon them? Do we cross the picket line or not?
It’s not possible to avoid those questions. “Not taking a side” is taking a side.
2. Cash cows
“More than 100 students at Dalhousie University’s Agricultural Campus in Truro protested Tuesday afternoon before a budget consultation with the school,” reports the CBC’s Carolyn Ray:
The students carried inflatable cows and banners proclaiming “we are not cash cows,” and marched against significant tuition increases Dalhousie plans for the campus.
If it goes ahead, agriculture students would face an 18.9 per cent tuition hike — on top of three per cent increase being charged to all Dalhousie students. The hike is being proposed while the provincial Liberals allow universities a one-time tuition correction.
Much ado about nothing, reports Remo Zaccagna:
Mayor Mike Savage suggested an amendment, which was approved by the rest of council, that would see staff look at the application of the Halifax logo on community signs rather than removing them.
The amended motion passed unanimously.
Acting chief administrative officer John Traves said he would be happy to draft a report and agreed that “there could be a lighter touch, frankly, in terms of the size of the brand and the necessity of the brand in all circumstances.”
4. Traffic calming
Halifax council yesterday endorsed a staff recommendation that will allow residents to ask that “traffic calming” strategies be applied to streets in their neighbourhoods. The measures include speed bumps, chicanes, raised crosswalks, raised intersections, islands, and traffic circles.
Drivers are going too fast, and I’m not opposed to the suggested motion or the traffic calming measures, but we might be overthinking this. We could reach the same desired end — slower cars — by A) lowering the speed limit on all residential streets to 40kph and B) narrowing streets.
Just making the streets narrower, bringing the curbs closer together, tends to bring a visual freak-out to drivers, and they slow down — the safest streets in the city are probably Belle Aire Terrace and Wright Avenue, which are barely wide enough for one car to drive past the cars parked at the curb. Belle Aire would see even slower traffic were it a two-way street.
Remember how everyone drove down Agricola Street last winter when the snowbanks took over half the road? Drivers had to take turns and slowly maneuver past each other through the small bits of clear roadway, and as a result speed went way down. It should be like that every day.
1. Cranky letter of the day
One thing for certain can be said about Cape Bretoners – we are passionate about religion, politics and our favourite hockey teams.
When it comes to being vocal, Cape Bretoners usually can be heard in any crowd and collectively have been known to make quite a statement. As our native son Jimmy Rankin puts it: we can get “all fired up.”
The ”Parade of Concern” in support of our Sydney Steel workers in 1967 was such a proud moment in our history that changed political decisions in favour of keeping our mill open for business. And, more recently, there was the walk with the men and women who deservedly needed our support to keep their Veterans’ Affairs office open.
One person in our community who has always been a voice questioning the political will or the cause for social justice is Fr. Greg MacLeod. He has inspired us all in his relentless advocacy for positive change in this community.
MacLeod’s resolve and determination have inspired me to get involved with the Scotia Rail Development Society to stop the dismantling of our rail bed, as was proposed by Genesee & Wyoming in their application to abandon the rail. This decision will be determined by our elected politicians in early April.
The idea of our steel rails being transported and sold in the United States as scrap without any regard for the sweat and pride that went into making them, without any thought as to the repercussions involving future port development or the possible transport of coal from the Donkin mine site and without any consideration for highway safety or the destruction of our roads must be stopped before approval is given and another valuable infrastructure on this island wiped out.
However, one cannot help but sense a growing feeling of pessimism with the state of our economy and forecasts of fewer possibilities for our young people. We live in one of the safest, most beautiful places on the planet and yet we cannot secure a bright future to keep our brilliant young minds at home.
I, for one, believe that the turning point will come when we refuse to accept any more losses and collectively fight for more parity with the economic development of our province’s capital. As the second largest city in this province we should expect, if not demand, equalization of programs in health, education and services.
One would think the political stars are aligned in our favour to be on the receiving end of what we only deserve in this province. And what we accept. We must continue to be vocal until our veterans have their office open for business. We must fight to see the doors at the Ann Terry Women’s Employment Project stay open. We must stop anyone that tries to remove our railway line, a key component for any future economic development for our deprived island. Such decisions are unacceptable and we are serving notice that we will not accept any more losses.
So I invite you to take a stand once again about the state of our educational system or about reform of our health care. Invite and engage people outside of your community to join you in saving a school or a church. Become an advocate for positive change and an inspiration for our youth. Collectively we can make things happen. We can hopefully once again get people “all fired up.” Cape Bretoners do have a voice. Let’s once again begin to use it.
(There will be a public meeting at 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavillion to Save The Rail. It’s a chance to come and challenge our politicians to take a stand for Cape Breton.)
Debbie Keating , Albert Bridge
Special Events Advisory Committee (9am, City Hall) — discussion about Special Olympics.
Community Design Advisory Committee (11:30am, City Hall) — discussion about the Green Network.
Heritage Advisory Committee (2pm, City Hall) — Allison Chubbs wants her house at 280 Portland Street registered as a historic property. It’s always fun to read these staff reports.
Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — George McLellan, the deputy minister of Finance, and Geoff Gatien, the Comptroller, will be questioned about the auditor general’s report.
Supply Chain Design (1:30pm, MA310) — Amir Azaron will talk about “Supply Chain Design under Uncertainty.”
Plasmonic sensing (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building Link) — Christa Brosseau, from Saint Mary’s University, will speak on “Plasmonic sensing: A Tool for Understanding
and Diagnosing Human Disease.”
In Search of the Ethical Lawyer (4:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — speakers are Richard Devlin, from Dalhousie; Alice Woolley, from the University of Calgary; and Adam Dodek, from the University of Ottawa.
Racism from Black Perspectives (7pm, Halifax Central Library) — “How and why do the impacts of history persist? How is racism directly or indirectly manifested in our society? What are our obligations to address racism? How do we reconcile divisions created by racism? How do we directly or indirectly reinforce racism? How is racism holding us back?”
The Woman on the Beach (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — the 1947 film by director Jean Renoir: “Renoir’s American exile produced some remarkable films drenched in atmosphere and dread. The Woman on the Beach sees Noir fave Robert Ryan unravelling a seaside mystery about a blind painter and his ambiguous wife.”
Mount Saint Vincent
Renee Horton (6:30pm, Seton Academic Centre, Auditorium A) — Horton will speak on the “Intersection between Talent and Passion” in which she “will share her story of how hard work and a passion for math & physics led her to a career as a lead engineer for NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, Louisiana.”
In the harbour
OOCL Asia, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove
ZIM Shanghai, container ship, New York to Pier 41, then sails to sea
Manon, car carrier, Zeebrugge,Belgium to Autoport
Fritz Reuter, container ship, Lisbon, Portugal to Pier 42
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 4pm.