News

1. Uranium

The province’s radon risk map.

“After yesterday’s meeting of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development, Nova Scotia’s Uranium Exploration and Mining Prohibition Act seems to be safe,” reports Joan Baxter. “At least for now.”

Baxter recounts the testimony of not one, not two, but three different representatives of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia representatives who presented to the committee — the “MANS-men, who outnumbered the government officials on the all-male panel.”

Baxter ends with her personal observation:

I wanted also to mention how many times Kirby spoke about all the jobs to be had, if only we would lift the ban on uranium mining and send a signal to the global mining industry that we want to “create jobs in the province,” because that is important if we want to “keep growing the economy.”

I lived for a time in Niger in West Africa and had a chance to visit one of its large uranium mines, which was one of the most hellish, depressing places I’ve been in my life, rife with social inequities, environmental devastation, and environmental racism. Uranium has been mined in Niger since 1971 and the country produces 5% of the world supply. Nevertheless, in 2018, Niger ranked dead last — 189th of 189 countries evaluated — on the United Nations human development index.

Click here to read “The ban on uranium exploration and mining is safe – for now.”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

2. Council votes in favour of staff report on taxi appeals committee

Zane Woodford at The Star reports on a 13-to-1 vote by Halifax councillors to create an arm’s-length external committee to adjudicate appeals to the municipality’s taxi licensing authority. The motion was made by Councillor Waye Mason, who wants a staff report to look at creating the committee.

I think that we’re getting caught up in the difference between having some sympathy and the narrow legalities that I think are supposed to be considered when you’re doing an appeal of the licensing authority.

The motion comes after news last week that taxi driver Lesianu Zewdie Hweld, was charged with sexual assault months after council’s Appeals Standing Committee voted to give him his license back. Hweld’s suspension was not related to sexual assault allegations.

Councillor David Hensbee disagreed and voted against the motion, saying it was a “reactionary motion to placate certain pressures out there in the public.”

As a long-term member of the appeals committee, I take a bit of insult to this thing. I look at the decision the appeals committee has made in the past. They weren’t very easy decisions, but I think that we never erred in law.

Besides Hendsbee, councillors Russell Walker, Stephen Adams, Bill Karsten, and Lisa Blackburn sit on the appeals committee. Yesterday, Whitman called the role a “thankless” part of his job.

Also yesterday, Blackburn was elected to the Board of Police Commissioners.

Lisa Blackburn. Photo: Halifax Examiner

3. Some details on crane removal still up in the air

The collapsed construction crane on South Park Street. Photo: Tim Bousquet

Premier Stephen McNeil spoke about the crane on South Park Street yesterday, telling Susan Bradley at CBC its removal was an issue of public safety.

This is not an isolated building that is sitting in an industrial park without any neighbouring infrastructure around it. We needed to make sure we could get it down as quickly as possible.

We’ve been told that crane is in a precarious situation. We needed to get the ability to strap it to the building, be able to move it.

McNeil says the province would work to recover the costs.

There was an issue around the potential liability and the ability to pay that liability. No one was going in until the insurer, the project was indemnified.

There’s still no timeline for how long it will take for the two companies, Harbourside Engineering Consultants and R&D Crane, to take down the crane. On Sept. 18, Mark Reynolds, Harbourside’s senior engineer, said the removal process would take weeks.

4. Sexual assault trial won’t go ahead against British sailor

CFB Shearwater

A sexual assault trial against a British sailor accused in the gang rape of a Halifax woman won’t be going ahead, reports CBC’s Blair Rhodes. Yesterday was the deadline for the crown to revive charges against Simon Radford, one of four British sailors charged in the attack at the barracks at Shearwater in 2015. Public Prosecution Service opted out of the trial, saying there was no realistic chance of conviction.

Radford was to go to trial last September with Darren Smalley, another sailor charged in the case. Radford was unable to attend that trial because he was recovering from surgery. The charges against Radford were stayed and the trial against Smalley went ahead. He was acquitted on all charges in January.

The woman at the centre of the case is suing the British government, arguing it’s liable for the behaviour of the sailors. That lawsuit is still in the early stages.

5. Cassidy Bernard’s mother talks about loss of “her baby”

Cassidy Bernard. Photo: Facebook

Mona Bernard talked with CTV about her daughter, Cassidy, who was killed October 2018. It was Mona who found Cassidy’s body in her home in Waycobah. Cassidy’s twin daughters, Mya and Paisly, were also in the home.

When I found the little girls, they were not good. They were so cold. I wouldn’t have made it if I lost all three. I wouldn’t have been here myself. I have a big family, but that would’ve crushed me. I wouldn’t have been able to handle that. So they saved me.

RCMP say no one has been arrested in the case and there’s no update. Bernard has been taking care of her granddaughter’s and says Cassidy was “her baby.” She says she hears the same

‘We got no answers, you have to be patient, you have to wait.’ That’s what I hear, so I’m living my life, trying to be patient, hoping because they need me to. They left these children to die with their mother.


Views

1. Women and the secondary labour market

Judy Haiven says change for women in the Nova Scotia workforce has to start at the top. Photo contributed.

Judy Haiven says when she sees cranes in developments around the city, she gets angry. Not only because those cranes are falling down a block from her home, but because of what they also mean for women and work in Nova Scotia.

The more cranes we see here or anywhere it means more jobs for the boys.

Construction work is overwhelming done by men, and while the jobs may be seasonal, they often pay men well, certainly above the living wage. But these jobs create the need for service jobs like those at restaurants, hotels, and cafes. Most of those jobs are done by women.

It continues that horrible, vicious cycle of men earning more and women earning less.

Haiven is a retired professor of management at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University. She specialized in industrial relations, women and work, trade unions, and equity in the workplace. She’s also a writer and activist and is on the steering committee of Equity Watch, a Nova Scotia-based organization dedicated to fighting bullying and discrimination in the workplace. We met up a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been writing about living wages for Morning File and wanted to know more about how low wages in Nova Scotia affect women in particular. Over the past two years, as I collected job postings and heard from job hunters about their searches, most of the correspondence I’ve had has been from women. They tell me the trouble they have finding work, how they make less than their male colleagues, or about harassment in the workplace. I know women who’ve had to move out of province or go back to school to upgrade their skills so they could find work. That means paying more tuition at an age when they want to be saving for retirement.

Here are some figures from the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Women make less in every sector in Nova Scotia. 

The biggest gaps in wages between men and women are in management of companies and enterprises, mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction sectors, and the finance and insurance sectors. I looked at women working in various sectors back in the June 28 Morning File.

Nova Scotian women make 77 per cent of the average full-time annual salary of men!

There is nothing wrong with working in the service sector. But these jobs are often low pay, seasonal, and don’t offer full-time hours. This is the secondary labour market and it’s dominated by women. Haiven says take a walk through any mall and look at who’s working in the shops. Women work many of the low-pay, part-time, seasonal jobs in the tourism sector in the province. It’s not that women in the service sector don’t have education; Haiven says many have a degree or two.

And this is for nothing because they are paid minimum wage and tips.  Tips are the most unfair way of paying anybody.

[I talked about this in a previous Morning File; bosses can keep your tips.]

What does working these service jobs mean long term for women? No pensions, fewer savings, they often can’t own a house, and there is less job security or none at all. If a woman is married and that marriage breaks down, she has even less financial security. Service jobs are physically demanding and have the women who work them on their feet for several hours each shift. Construction is hard physical work and dangerous for men, but there are protections like Workers’ Compensation and other benefits that women working service jobs don’t have. Women also age out of service jobs, Haiven says.

Because women are judged in terms of attractiveness, even if they can do the job after the age of 40 or 45, they’re no longer hired as cocktail waitresses, they’re no longer hired as front-of-hotel staff. This is the problem with women; they’re judged on the basis of their attractiveness.

When employers pay women well, what are the larger benefits? Well, their children are better off, the women have more savings for retirement, and they pay more taxes. Beyond that, encouraging women in their careers increases their self-esteem, giving them more mobility to move up career ladders in whatever sector they work.

Haiven says part of the problem is Atlantic Canada is one of the most conservative areas of the country. Certainly for my generation, our mothers stayed home to raise children and take care of the home. Men work in low-paying jobs here too, but still do better than women.

Women feel just to get a job or to get a foot in the door they have to accept whatever is going. Because of the historical norms around here in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada, 15 years ago calls centres were all the rage and most of the people working there were women. Now, it’s about 50-50 because employment is spiraling downward, so men take the low-paying jobs. But men, if they stick around, will get promoted and get slightly better jobs over the years.

Even when women get educated, they start at entry-level jobs that don’t pay well.

At Saint Mary’s, 60 to 70 per cent of business students are women. What kind of job will they get? Bank tellers don’t pay a living wage. What we see is women start out earning so much less than men, it’s harder to catch up. Of course, getting an education is a good idea, but it’s no guarantee you can maintain your family or a reasonable standard of living.

There’s the motherhood penalty. Women fall behind in their careers because they take time off to have children. Their employer only has to hold their job for a year. Transportation is an issue, particularly for women in rural areas. If a woman has more than one child, the costs of daycare are often prohibitive. Of course, women who work in childcare are low-paid workers themselves, even though many are educated with degrees in early childhood education.

Haiven says the work world is better for women in many places in Ontario and even in the Prairie provinces.

There’s the ability there for women to have jobs that pay decently. They can afford to send their children to daycares. Quite a few of the daycares are nonprofit and enhanced and underwritten by government money.

Unions can help women get ahead. Still, women are often the last to get hired and the first to get fired. That means women are constantly looking for work and the union movement hasn’t really addressed this. Haiven suggests having two seniority lists could help keep more women in unionized workplaces.

But Haiven suggests we look to countries like Denmark, Finland, and Sweden instead of looking south of the border for ways to improve women’s situations in the workforce.

We can see people paying their fair share of taxes, and corporations having to pay taxes, and having a highly taxed society actually pays off. There are more social services, more ability to send your children to early childhood education, there are places to go if you have disabilities.

There is also huge turnover in the secondary labour market. If employers pay low wages, people don’t stay in those jobs. If they have any options at all, they move on to jobs elsewhere in the city or to Ontario and western Canada.

[Employers] want to find people who will work for a song or less, and won’t cause trouble, and will work around the clock, and come in even on bad weather days.

Haiven says to see women get paid more and move up the ladders, the change has to come from the top.

The way change happens is that governments have to start leading and they certainly won’t lead here. We have to start leading. They have to start putting women, people of colour, immigrants, and new Canadians near the top of organizations. They have to start talking about these things.  They have to start talking about equity issues and actually start doing something and stop the trap.

Oh, but we have to hire the best candidates, regardless of gender, you say?

Well, we also talked about merit, too, and who gets what jobs and why. Think of any time we talk about women or people of colour being considered for a job. The question of merit always comes into play: We must hire the best person for the job! But that question is never asked if all the candidates for a job are men, particularly white men. That’s because we think those men are automatically qualified for any job.

Haiven says she thinks there should be merit retroactively.

All the men who are hired in chief positions at banks, companies, enterprises, grocery chains, hotels, all the men who were on high levels, what kind of merit do they have? I doubt many of them had a degree. I doubt many of them had a background. Some of them might have worked their way up, but there’s nothing wrong with women working their way up, but they seldom get the opportunity.

Now that I’m all fired up, I have to head to work.


Noticed

Yesterday, reader Michael Bowen commented on the number of photos in Morning File that included men. He actually counted them, compared to those photos that included women, for the past four Morning Files (he didn’t include the pic of Glen Assoun, photos of crowds, and pics of Justin Trudeau). Here are his results:

Tuesday: 6M/2F
Monday: 4M/1F
Friday: 1M/0F
Thursday: 0M/3F

Maybe HfxExr should emphasize how much of NS is male-run by putting a string of pictures of random women across the top of the Morning File every day so that a 1:1 ratio is reached and images of women are represented. Or something. I dunno. I’m thinking of it semiotically I guess. But the pictorial skew feels weird. Or maybe stop posting pictures of men. Or I dunno. But it feels weird, that’s all I’m saying.

Bowen has a point and Iris, the Examiner’s office manager, pointed out she and Tim work to find a better balance, often by putting more women in the events section.

I was writing the piece on women in the secondary labour market when I read Bowen’s comment. So, I was very aware of putting more photos of women in this Morning File.

I should point out, the Examiner does have several female contributors: El Jones, Joan Baxter, Jennifer Henderson, Erica Butler, Linda Pannozzo, Evelyn White, myself, and Iris the Amazing who works behind the scenes, keeping all of us organized.


Government

City

Wednesday

No public meetings.

Thursday

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — councillor Shawn Cleary wants staff to investigate banning right turns on red, at least at some locations.

Province

Wednesday

No public meetings.

Thursday

Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

BRIC NS Student Seminar Series (Wednesday, 12:15pm, Room 264, Collaborative health Education Building) — Juliana McLaren will talk about “Investigating the Relationship Between Hearing Loss and Memory Using Event-Related Potentials (ERPs).” Mike Reid will talk about “Moving Beyond the ‘Where’: An examination of the interaction between healthcare policy and complex community systems in Nova Scotia.” More info here.

Spider silk (Wednesday, 4pm, theatre A, Tupper medical Building) — Stefan Warkentin will talk about “Aciniform Spider Silk Proteins: Investigating Solution State Assembly and the Potential of Nanoparticles as a Drug Delivery Vehicle.”​

Global Health Interventions: Lessons from Nova Scotia and West Africa (Wednesday, 5:30pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — a panel discussion featuring Janice Graham, Buba Manjang, Heather Scott, and Gaynor Watson-Creed, moderated by Shawna O’Hearn.

Thursday

Numerical computation on surfaces and applications involving anisotropic diffusion​ (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Colin Macdonald from UBC Vancouver will talk.

The Ethical and Professional Responsibilities of Business Lawyers: Business, Human Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals (Thursday, 4:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — a panel moderated by Sara L. Seck, with panelists John F. Sherman III from Shift, Penelope Simons from the University of Ottawa, Larry Catá Backer from Penn State, and Birgit Spiesshofer from the University of Bremen.

Kristie Dotson. Photo via aaas.msu.edu

On Justice for All​ (Thursday, 7pm, Halifax Central Library) — Kristie Dotson from Michigan State University will explore

a notion of racial justice in the 21st century and what it means as a Black feminist to have “a vision of justice for all.” Ultimately, she claims that we are not so constitutionally dissimilar, our ability to impact each other so small, nor our populations so homogeneous as to imagine that racial justice is not just another way of saying we need justice for all. Racial justice in any era may well translate into the demand that we work for the goal of creating “a place where no one is prey.”

Saint Mary’s

Wednesday

Migrants and Migration in the Classical World (Wednesday, 5:30pm, Loyola 179) — Ben Akrigg from the university of Toronto will talk. More info here.

Thursday

Democracy in Action: the Future of Your Right to Know (Thursday, 5pm, Lecture Theatre, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia) — a “lively panel discussion” with Graham Steele, Laura Notess, Michael Karanicolas, Janet Burt-Gerrans, and moderator Wayne MacKay. More info here.


In the harbour

05:30: Mignon, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
15:00: Elka Glory, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
15:00: Gerhard Schulte, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
15:30: Mignon moves to Pier 31
20:30: Mignon sails for sea


Footnotes

I’m off to Amherst and New Glasgow for a couple of days of work meetings. If anyone has any suggestions on nice places to visit, let me know. Otherwise, I’m just going to take a nap.

Suzanne Rent

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

Join the Conversation

5 Comments

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. The effect of discrimination on a woman’s earnings is an accretive process. In many professions, young women are given less “challenging or desirable” assignments, the kind that are invariably given to promising young men for the purpose of building their competence. The lack of these sorts of assignments in a woman’s background makes her less likely to be considered for promotion and harms her hiring prospects.

    Then at the other end of her working life, experienced women are saddled with the stereotypes that apply to older women…They are weak grandmotherly types, or witches… In contrast to their male counterparts, older women are rarely depicted in business attire or athletic attire.

  2. @Tim Bousquet

    Can you please add a “federal” section to the government section of the morning report. I’d really like know when there are events/debates/rallies for the upcoming federal election. This information seems to be very hard to come by for this election for some reason.

    1. El writes as often as she can — she’s busy! — but we both agreed that the weekly format wasn’t quite right for what she does.

  3. Yes, I’ve long recognized that news sites generally and the Examiner particularly have an over-presentation of male faces. That’s because, let’s face it, we live in a patriarchy; most of the politicians, businesspeople criminals (some overlap there), and otherwise powerful people are male. We do make an effort to show more faces of women and people of colour, and we do try to give voice to women writers. I’m sure we can do better.