1. Halifax not on track with HalifACT

Hundreds of people march through a city street with a banner reading “We are in a climate emergency”
Students and their supporters carrying a banner reading, “We are in a climate emergency” at the School Strike for Climate Change in Halifax on Sept. 24, 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford continues his Halifax regional council coverage this week with this story about how Halifax is not on track with its goals under its climate change plan. Woodford writes:

Council unanimously passed the HalifACT 2050 plan in June 2020. It’s a set of actions designed to follow the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC’s 2018 recommendation to limit overall global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The plan sets a carbon budget until 2050 of 37 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, MtCO2e.

The plan was in jeopardy from the start, having been passed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated budget cutting from HRM.

At an Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, staff presented a progress report on the first year of HalifACT to councillors, and it’s not good. From the staff report:

Since the passing of HalifACT in June 2020, 30 of the 46 actions have been started. Of the actions that have started, only 7 are on track and 5 are adequately resourced. Despite current efforts and commitments to staffing and resources, the plan’s targets will not be met at the current pace, and the carbon budget will be exceeded by 2028. To be successful in reaching the stated climate targets, HalifACT needs to be prioritized across Business Units, integrated into municipal budgeting, work planning, and reporting processes. The resources and level of effort outlined in this report and its attachments are critical to ensure the successful implementation of HalifACT. While the investment needed is substantial, it will result in a net benefit through increased adaptation measures that reduce the cost of climate impacts, avoided energy costs, lower operations and maintenance costs, carbon pricing costs and increased revenues from energy generation.

Click here to read Woodford’s full story.

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2. Cop testifies about his diversity training in Day 3 of Kayla Borden appeal hearing

White man in grey business suite sits behind glass barrier on witness stand
Halifax Police Cst. Andrew Joudrey — one of seven police officers on the scene the night Kayla Borden was wrongfully arrested in July 2020 — testifies at the appeal hearing into her complaint against the two arresting officers. Photo: Matthew Byard.

Matthew Byard was at Day 3 of the appeal hearing into Kayla Borden’s complaints against Halifax Regional Police constables Scott Martin and Jason Meisner.

Yesterday’s hearing included testimony from Cst. Andrew Joudrey, who was one of the officers on the scene when Borden was pulled over, arrested, and eventually let go on the evening of July 28, 2020.

Devin Maxwell, Borden’s lawyer, asked Joudrey about his training in diversity and biases. Joudrey, who was first a cop with the New Glasgow Regional Police before joining HRP, couldn’t recall specifics of that training. But Maxwell also asked Joudrey if he was aware of any incidents of racial bias by other officers at HRP. Here’s what Joudrey said:

I can only speak to what I’m privy to as a witness.

There could be stories out there. Am I suggesting it never happened? I can’t answer that; I can only speak for what I see.

Byard will continue reporting on the hearing, which runs until tomorrow. Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella is set to testify today. As you may recall, Andrew Gough, the police’s lawyers, worked to get a subpoena for Kinsella to testify quashed. That request was denied. It will be interesting to hear what Kinsella has to say.

Click here to read Byard’s report on Day 3 of the hearing.

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3. COVID update: 178 new cases; school’s out early for the holidays

Colourful faces masks hang on a clothesline in a backyard on a winter day.
Photo: Jacek Pobłocki/Unsplash

Well, the numbers of new cases keep going up after that outbreak in Antigonish. As Tim Bousquet reported, 178 new cases were announced on Wednesday. Here’s the breakdown by Nova Scotia Health Zone:

• 113 Central
• 55 Eastern
• 5 Northern
• 5 Western

The good news is there is no one in the Eastern Zone (where Antigonish is located) in hospital with the disease. And there are no new cases at Parkland Antigonish.

But there are 14 schools on the list with connected cases. You can see them all in the potential exposure advisories.  The province also announced yesterday that schools would close on Friday for holiday break. I have heard, though, many students and teachers haven’t been in schools in recent days because they were self-isolating.

Click here to read Bousquet’s complete update.

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4. The Tideline: Halifax Holidaze Playlist

It’s a special edition of The Tideline with holiday music by local talent! Tara Thorne gathered a playlist of tunes for this show. Here they are:

Breagh Isabel, “Winter Wonderland”
Meaghan Smith, “It Snowed”
Terra Spencer, “Melt”
In-Flight Safety, “Last Christmas”
Ria Mae, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
Smaller Hearts, “Christmas At Home”
Waants, “Another Fckn Christmas”
Reeny Smith, “Dear Santa”
Villages, “Writing a Letter (This Christmas)”
Hilary Adams, “Sending Love”
Jenn Grant, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
Quiet Parade w/Dance Movie, “The Christmas Song”

Put some rum in your nog and a twinkle in your eye, and sing along.

Click here to listen to the show for free!

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5. IWK asks patients to be kind and patient

An Instagram post from the IWK that says please be kind, we're here to help. The post includes a longer message asking patients to be kind and patient with staff at the hospital emergency room.
An Instagram post from the IWK asking patients to be kind.

Aya Al-Hakim with Global reports on a statement shared on the IWK’s Instagram account asking patients to be kinder to its staff, who are experiencing abuse and threats. The post says, in part: 

Our emergency departments, in particular, are facing growing pressures and staff and doctors are doing the best they can to respond to patients’ needs in a timely manner. If you are coming to an emergency room for care, you may expect longer than usual waits. We appreciate your patience.

We are all in this together, but we are aware of too many situations where our staff have been subjected to abusive behavior and language, including personal threats. This is not acceptable. 

Al-Hakim interviewed Dr. Katrina Hurley, chief of the IWK’s emergency department about the Instagram post, which was the first time the children’s hospital put out such a notice to patients. Hurley said the numbers of patients visiting the emergency room has increased since July 2021 and she’s not sure if that pattern will continue over the winter months. But Hurley said staff are working to make stressful situations better for patients, and they’re paying a price. As Al-Hakim writes: 

But it has become really hard with people yelling at staff, despite the efforts of the emergency department to meet patients’ needs, so for the first time, the IWK made the choice of putting the post up on social media asking people to be more kind. 

I think it’s partly that staff are also experiencing stress. And I question, maybe our resilience is not as high as what it normally would be, or maybe it’s worn down over the many months of dealing with this,” Hurley said. 

“But I think that it’s really hard when you’re trying your hardest. And then someone’s yelling at you.” 

Come on, people. Be kind.

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And just like that, women continue to be judged on their appearance

This is really exhausting.

Over the weekend, a post was trending on Twitter comparing photos of Madonna, who is now 63, with Nancy Reagan, when she was 64. The photo of Madonna was from a recent shoot in which she posed on a bed in black lingerie, fishnet stockings, and stilettos. The photo of Reagan was of her with her family. She was wearing a long skirt, a red sweater draped over her shoulders, and a straw hat. The post was by Abby Roth, an American conservative commentator, who said women could choose one lifestyle — the “trashy living” one of Madonna or the “classic living” one of Reagan.

“Which version of yourself do you want to be?” Roth asked.

A tweet with photos of Madonna in lingerie and heelslying on a bed and one of Nancy Reagan with her family. The tweet says This is Madonna at 63. This is Nancy Reagan at 64. Trashy living vs. Classic living. Which version of yourself do you want to be?

Ummm, I choose the one in which I get to sleep like a starfish on the bed?

The post went viral and brought up many stories about Reagan and her days on backlots at MGM. There was a lot of slut-shaming on all sides, and arguments. And all of it is wrong.

I couldn’t help but wonder why does a woman have to choose at all? Why can’t she be who she wants to be? Why can’t she live any way she’d like whether it’s trashy or classy? This was just proof that a woman can reach the age of 63 and people are STILL telling her how to look and live.

Women. Cannot. Win.

Within days, stories started circulating about Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristin Davis, two of the stars of And Just Like That, the latest series in the Sex and the City franchise. Parker, who plays Carrie Bradshaw, and Davis, who plays Charlotte York Goldenblatt, are both 56. Commenters on social media said Parker looks old. Meanwhile, others said Davis had too much work done on her face, didn’t look like herself, and was trying too hard. She should age “gracefully,” they said. What does “age gracefully” even mean?

Two famous women: Sarah Jessica Parker, a white woman with long dark blonde hair; Kristin Davis, a white woman with long brunette hair.
These women are tired of your shit, Judgey McJudgeface

Parker talked about all of this in an interview with Naomi Fry in the December issue of Vogue, (frustratingly, the webpage on which I read the article featured an ad that said “Stay away from these haircuts if you’re over 50). Parker talked about the “bitchy” responses she saw online after news came out about the show getting back on air. But she also talked about the “misogynist chatter” out there about the cast members’ looks, and how “that would never. Happen. About. A. Man.”

And she’s right; it would NEVER happen to a man. Parker continued:

I don’t know what to tell you people! Especially on social media. Everyone has something to say. ‘She has too many wrinkles, she doesn’t have enough wrinkles.’ It almost feels as if people don’t want us to be perfectly okay with where we are, as if they almost enjoy us being pained by who we are today, whether we choose to age naturally and not look perfect, or whether you do something if that makes you feel better. I know what I look like. I have no choice. What am I going to do about it? Stop aging? Disappear?”

And sadly, yes some people do want women to disappear as they get older.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Davis said she was “angry” over the remarks and didn’t want to be angry all the time, so she just tries to avoid social media. But the anger still is there. Davis said:

But I also feel — I’m going to be blunt — I feel like, ‘F–k you. F–k you people, like, come over here and do it better.’ You know what I mean? Like, what are you doing?

Some criticisms of Sex and the City are fair, like the lack of diversity in the original series, the materialism, and how it isn’t the same without Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones in this new series. But criticism of the cast’s looks are not fair. So, I am with Davis: F–k you.

A classic art meme in which a red haired woman rolls her eyes and says fuck.
The look of a woman whose appearance is always being judged. It’s a classic tale.

Reading and hearing all of this must be exhausting for girls and young women, who already are shamed for what they wear, and sent home from school when their outfits don’t match up to ridiculous dress codes. They must be thinking they’ll still have to put up with this shit decades from now. Thankfully, they fight back like those young women at Sydney Academy in Cape Breton did last December when they staged a protest that said banning crop tops was sexist. It is, of course, and I hope they don’t have to keep fighting this.

What would it be like to live in a world in which a woman could have grey hair and someone not complain about her looking too old? How nice it would be to live in a world in which a woman could get some “work” done, for what ever reason she’d like, and not have people comment that she overdid it? I can’t imagine the pressure women working in Hollywood face to look good. Madonna, Parker, and Davis managed to stay working in an industry that has a very short attention span and thinks women over 40 are useless. (I was reminded of this skit by Amy Schumer from five years ago).

Listen, I still dye my hair but if the grey shows, I don’t care. I also have a few spider veins from working as a bartender for years and when I have the extra cash, I am getting those suckers zapped. Vain? Maybe, but still it’s no one’s business.

I will just leave you with this video of Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon, who plays Miranda Hobbes, reciting the poem, Be a Lady They Said by Camille Rainville. It’s far too appropriate for this conversation.

YouTube video

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Two rows of office cubicles in an office space. Each cubicle has green walls and a black chair.
Do you miss the cubicle life? Heading back to the office is not for everyone. Photo: Kate Sage/Unsplash

On Tuesday, I listened to this interview on CBC’s The Current with Carleton University professor Linda Duxbury who co-authored a study with the Conference Board of Canada and Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business about working remotely and getting people back to the office. (The interview starts at the 22:45 mark). You can also download a PDF of the report here.

The study included the Employee Wellbeing in Times of COVID-19 survey of about 26,000 Canadians. Duxbury told host Matt Galloway the the results “were kind of messy.” According to the survey, one in four workers want to work from home, another one in four want to get back to the office, and the rest would like to have a hybrid option. As Duxbury said, our current work-from-home situation was a response to an emergency, a “jury-rigged solution,” she called it, and not a real work-from-home experience. Now, employers who want those workers back in the office are trying to figure out what comes next.

“It took a lot to get everybody home,” Duxbury told Galloway, “and now it will take a lot to get everybody back.”

In her interview, Duxbury talked about themes we’ve all heard about for the last number of months: the isolation of working from home; juggling child care and trying to help kids with online learning while also trying to work; and working longer hours, and often on weekends. Working from home is not for everyone and as Duxbury said, many workers are suffering right now. Still, others are quitting jobs with employers who are now demanding they return to the office. Meanwhile, many essential workers don’t have the work-from-home option and are on the frontlines, not only working hard, but also being exposed to COVID-19.

I am happy I don’t work in an office. It really is a privilege. I started working from home in the Before Times, so I didn’t have the adjustment period that so many others have had. I don’t miss the commute, the cubicles, the office politics, the gossip, or wearing real pants (Duxbury admitted in the interview she was working from home in sweatpants).

Working from home is not for everyone, of course. It fits some personalities much better than others. You also have to be disciplined, keep to a schedule, and not let the lines blur between your home and work life. I also don’t have little kids who are running around while I am trying to work. I can’t imagine how challenging that must have been for many parents, especially mothers, who still have to take on the largest role in child care, even if they have a full-time job. (I know many parents are feeling that pressure this week after the province announced the holiday break would start early).

Duxbury said there are two personalities when it comes to work: those who are “segmenters” who want their work time and family time separated by location and time cues; and the “integrators” who can flip back and forth between work life and personal life (I am an integrator).

It’s not that I’ve always had bad office experiences. About a decade ago, I worked in an office with colleagues who were so fun and with whom I shared many laughs inside and outside the office. We all got our work done, of course, but many of us stayed friends. In fact, several of us still keep in touch and have a Messenger group where we share stories and jokes on an almost daily basis, and go out for breakfast once in a while. (I’m also a morning person.)

But I’ve worked in toxic environments, and I’ve written about those before. And they were so damaging, — filled with gossip, whispering, micromanagment, no communication, incompetence, and harassment — that I couldn’t do that again. I just want to work, do it well, and keep my private life and work life separate.

In her interview on The Current, Duxbury said toxic cultures now had a chance to “reset.” “You have the opportunity to remake yourself,” she said.

I don’t think this is possible. Toxic work environments are caused by toxic people, many of whom don’t understand their toxicity. In fact, one of the reasons they’re toxic is because they believe it’s the workers’ problem that they can’t just suck up the abuse.

But I say employers are grappling with the return to the office because they can’t imagine that workers get to define what their jobs look like. Duxbury said that more managers want a return to the office, while clerical workers want to stay home. This doesn’t surprise me. People don’t have those long commutes and they spend more time with their families. She continued:

They don’t want to put that back into their life. They don’t want the expenses of nice clothing. They don’t want the expense of going into the office.

But the offers some advantages. For some workplaces, Duxbury said there’ve been costs in collegiality, creativity, productivity, and mental health. People are at home with their heads down doing the best they can.

“If people maintain their productivity at a huge cost to their mental health, is that a gain?” she asked.

So how do we solve this problem? Duxbury suggested employers break down jobs by tasks, and some of those tasks can be done at home, others can be done at the office. And for those who want to stay at home, that could mean finding different roles for people within the company. It could mean losing those staff, too, especially for those workers who have the choice.

I think we have to do this major reset where we actually start having a discussion: In your ideal world, what would you like to do? What is your actual job and then let’s figure out what’s possible together. It’s not going to serve anyone if the company goes under.

Duxbury ended the interview with Galloway with a message for employers: “You have to start at least getting the jack out of the trunk.” She added:

Start talking about some and looking at the work objectively, what percentage can be done remotely. Once you have the work, then go to your people, come up with a collaborative solution. Bring the unions in as quickly as possible.

This is a marathon. It’s been a marathon at home. So let’s start limbering up and start our journey on the runway.

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No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

05:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
07:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
16:30: Atlantic Sky sails for Hamburg, Germany
17:00: One Houston, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
19:00: Sopot, bulker, arrives at Pier 28 from Baltimore
23:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Sydney

Cape Breton
10:30: Arctic Lift, barge, with Western Tugger, tug, move from Government Wharf to Sydport


A white Christmas tree destroyed by a 10-month-old kitten and decorated with blue disposable face masks.
My kitten destroyed our tree, but I decorated it anyway.

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A white woman with chin length auburn hair and blue eyes, wearing a bright blue sweater

Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. Suzanne! it is exhaustive indeed!
    More over what makes me even more putredly ill is the fact that women do it to each other.
    Never yee mind the male commentaries…but for goddess’ sake…
    That Abby most likely is envious of a 63 year old who’s got the ovaries to bare it all and be proud of it.
    Does any one think Nancy had no lingerie…I bet she did ladies and gents…I bet she did.

    Deplorable behaviours from all sides.

  2. Women should be able to age anyway they choose and society should love and accept that reality. I just wish this could have been illustrated with women other than millionaire American actresses and singers.

    Social media is a horrid dumpster fire but it is used for self promoting monetization and vile depradation. Madonna has always been particularly adept at self promotion but also long been the centre of horrible sexist attacks (even before social media).

    Unfortunately we now live in a world where ideologically driven unbridled “free” speech is a horrible, horrible reality. Thank you Mr. Zuckerburg and Mr Dorsey.

    Is it any coincidence the founders of our tech utopia are men?