1. Constructive dismissal

The trial of Calvin Clarke’s suit against the Halifax Herald Ltd. continued in Supreme Court yesterday, with testimony from Nancy Cook, who holds the ridiculous title of “chief people officer” at Saltwire, the Herald’s parent company, followed by Alex Liot, the VP of Sales.

Clarke is claiming “constructive dismissal,” which basically means that the company purposefully made his job so miserable and untenable that he had to quit.

Cook and Liot explained that traditional ad sales for the newspaper were tanking — Liot said at a rate of five to 10 per cent per year, with some years even higher — so the Herald was expanding its product line into other print products, online advertising, flyer delivery, swag, and so forth. Liot said that the Herald has even recently acquired a private security firm.

The idea is that a company might be a long-time Herald advertiser, but the sales rep could broaden the range of products the Herald provides the customer. So, you might get a deal on a display ad, but only if you also buy a larger package of online advertising, some baseball caps with your company logo, and I guess, a security guard to spy on your striking workers.

The way both Cook and Liot told it, Clarke was an excellent salesperson, a go-getter, game to take on new challenges, and an all-around great person. “People like him,” said Liot. “I like him. We played golf together.” And, they continued, since Clarke was so good at his job, coupled with the fact Clarke had been out on medical leave, it made sense that when he returned to work he be repositioned to create new sales vehicles at Bounty and Headlines (see yesterday’s article for context). Clarke’s position as a volunteer coach was an added bonus, said Cook. (And is it anyone else, or am I the only one who thinks it’s not a great idea to name a printing company after a brand of toilet paper?)

My read on this (but really, what do I know?) is that Cook was destroyed on cross-examination by Clarke’s lawyer Colin Bryson.

Liot’s testimony was more substantive. He’s everyone’s stereotype of a buzzword-slinging salesperson, but on the smart and educated end of that spectrum. He’s kind of like the “plastics!” guy in The Graduate, but better looking and able to mask his asshole-y-ness with a B-list performance of charm. But, for myself anyway, it didn’t work — he’s too clever by half. “In total candour,” he said at least four times, which I understood as a tell that he was about to say some outrageous untruth, and as he worked through the numbers and rationales for transferring Clarke, I kept thinking to myself, “you’re so smart, but you’re working for Sarah Dennis and Mark Lever?”

Alas, I couldn’t stick around for the cross-examination of Liot. (I had to run to interview Danny Graham for today’s Examineradio.) So I don’t know how this is going to play out. But at the heart of the trial is whether Clarke’s transfer was a sensible move of a competent salesperson into a position with realistic expectations, or whether it was just a bid to get rid of him.

There’s a complicating factor as well. And that’s that Clarke was given a reprimand on his return to work — in fact, he was handed the reprimand in the very meeting in which he was reassigned, which suggests the two were connected.

The full extent of that reprimand wasn’t revealed in open court, but part of it involved things that occurred when Clarke was on medical leave — Clarke’s clients complained about other sales reps, his replacements, falling down on the job.

And there was a complaint by Darrell Cooke, the president of Vintage Flooring in Bayers Lake. Clarke had set up a meeting with Cooke, but as he was driving to Bayers Lake his son’s school called him to say that the boy had had a playground accident and needed medical attention. (Clarke and his ex-wife share custody of their children, and this was Clarke’s week.) Clarke said he pulled over and called Cooke to explain the situation, but only got his voicemail. When Clarke didn’t show up at the appointed time, Cooke fired off an angry email to Herald president Mark Lever. At some later point, however, Cooke retrieved the voice mail, understood the situation, and wrote a second email apologizing for his earlier anger and saying that of course Clarke needed to attend to his son. As Clarke told it on the stand, however, only the first email was referenced in the reprimand.

In any event, this now sits with Justice Suzanne Hood, who will presumably make a decision in coming days.

2. Ama-what?

Also, pigs should fly.

“Halifax Partnership has launched a website with details from their Amazon bid touting $10 billion in savings on operation costs and direct flights from Halifax to Seattle and San Francisco — if Amazon comes to town,” reports Cory Funk for The Signal, the publication for King’s College journalism students:

The bid touts $10 billion in savings over 10 years in operating costs for Amazon compared to its main headquarters in Seattle.

The number is based off a 2016 report, funded and produced by KPMG on competitive alternatives that ranked Halifax the 6th lowest costing place to do business in among 111 others worldwide. Halifax Partnership used KPMG’s methodology to come up with the $10 billion figure.  

The details of how they reached that number, however, haven’t been disclosed.

“To be blunt, I don’t want our competitors to know exactly the methodology that we calculated that because it’s quite real,” said [Ron Hanlon, CEO of Halifax Partnership]. “It’s actually very real because I don’t want them selling against it.”

Yeah, I have a secret plan to build a Halifax Examiner world headquarters that will employ 15 million Haligonians, but I can’t release it because Truro might use it against us.

3. Chris Enns

Chris Enns. Photo: Facebook

An RCMP release from yesterday:

An RCMP officer on patrol on Hwy. 7 in Lake Echo stopped a truck for speeding yesterday just before 4 p.m. The stop has resulted in the arrest and charges of an East Chezzetcook man and a seizure of significant quantities of marihuana products.

After speaking with the driver, the police officer arrested him, and acquired grounds to search the vehicle. In total, police seized over 6 pounds of marihuana, 148 grams of “Shatter” and approximately 500 capsules of Cannabidiol, also known as hash oil. A large quantity of cash was also seized.

Christopher Enns, 33, has been charged with:

• Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking (2 counts)
• Possession of Proceeds of Crime over $5000
• Breach of Conditions
• Enns was held in custody following his arrest and is appearing in Dartmouth Provincial Court today. The investigation is ongoing.

Enns is the cannabis crusader who operates the Farm Assists store on Gottingen Street.

Enns is one of those people who believe cannabis cures all ails — cancer, bad attitude, economic crisis, squeaky ball joints, you name it — and he believes in spreading the gospel far and wide. He’s harmless, and I admire his defiance in the face of repeated arrests; besides which, such arrests seem pointless as legalization approaches.

4. The price of parking

The red house is Dawn Sloane’s. Photo: Google Street View (the new building has since been constructed)

A single parking space in Halifax’s north end is worth $25,000, say three Creighton Street residents.

Former Halifax city councillor Dawn Sloane and two of her neighbours are suing the nonprofit Creighton Gerrish Development Association (CGDA) in small claims court, alleging that CGDA is depriving them of their parking spots.

CGDA built and sold the three townhouses through a federal-provincial affordable housing program. CGDA aimed the development at long-term residents of the neighbourhood making between $30,000 and $50,000 annually, a criterion Sloane met when she applied to buy the home, with a five per cent deposit paid in 1997.

CGDA has always struggled to bring in money for its projects, and Sloane waited seven long years for the townhouses to be built. In the meanwhile, Sloane was elected to city council in 2000. She and her two neighbours finally purchased their homes in 2004.

The residents claim each townhouse was designed and built for a residence above a business space in the basement. “This requires two parking spaces,” says each of the claims. “Prior to and after purchasing my house, I was promised access to parking along the back of my property line.” Each resident has filed two $25,000 claims, one for each allegedly promised parking spot.

On the other side of the property line is the former Sobeys lot that faces Gottingen Street across from the north end library. CGDA acquired the lot many years ago with hopes of building an affordable housing complex, and while waiting on that hoped-for development, the lot has been used for parking by area residents, including Sloane and her neighbours. But after many failed attempts, CGDA finally sold off the property to developer Ross Cantwell, who is now constructing a five-storey “as a right” development.

A concrete wall has been built at the rear of Cantwell’s development, which means Sloane and her neighbours can’t park there any longer.

“CGDA took the proceeds from the sale of the house without providing parking access to me, therefore breached their promise and unduly profited from their actions,” reads each of the claims. “I claim I was defrauded.”

Grant Wanzel, the president of CGDA, did not respond to a request for comment. Earlier this week, CGDA defaulted on its registry with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies.

On-street parking on Creighton Street is reserved for residents, who must purchase a permit.

5. SMU football

“There will be no Atlantic University Sport (AUS) football championship game this year in light of an investigation into the eligibility of a Saint Mary’s University player, but the Acadia Axemen will represent the conference in the national semifinals,” reports the CBC.

The unbylined article explores at length the issue of former CFL player Archelaus Jack’s eligibility. The university denies that it acted inappropriately.

6. Street checks

Reporter Julia-Simone Rutgers explores the “intentional ignorance of Halifax police street checks” for The Coast.


No public meetings.

On campus


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.

In the harbour

7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
10:30am: Supreme Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Bremerhaven, Germany
2pm: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
4:30pm: Supreme Ace, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
8pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s


Long weekend. I’ll return with Morning File on Tuesday.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. I assume the Halifax bid for the Amazon boondoggle mentions that none of the people moving to Halifax to work for Amazon will be able to find a family doctor. Or is there some provision whereby people who promise many jobs (few of which will be delivered) get to jump the queque?

  2. Judging from the photo they want Amazon to locate on………..George’s Island?

    How appropriate. What else is going to be sold into private hands by the time Halifax gets BOLDed out?

  3. Does MJ cure all that ails one? Does Dr. Oz’s miracle machines actually do what he advertises? Homeopathic cures abound and there is little recourse because it is all buyer beware. Once MJ is legal, one might expect clever marketing to flood the media, but if NS-Gov is in control of the distribution, that may well not occur… Unless NS-Gov treats MJ sales as a profit making venture.

  4. It’s kind of too bad that CGDA or Cantwell didn’t reinstate Gerrish Lane all the way down through the block. Could have been a good access to that new Cantwell building and those houses.

  5. I doubt if “marihuana” is a cure-all, but it is the best thing I’ve ever tried for seasickness and other motion sickness. A few puffs were worth a warehouse of Gravol, for me at least.

    1. To be clear, I’m not dismissing the medicinal or recreational uses of the devil’s lettuce. I used to use it recreationally, then quit because I got a job where I had to pass urine tests, and never started again afterwards.

  6. Even though Enns is harmless, I don’t like it when people pretend that cannabis is a magic cure-all or a completely harmless recreational drug. If you are using recreational drugs more than occasionally, it probably means something is seriously wrong with your life. Just because getting high every day is healthier than getting drunk every day doesn’t make it okay.

  7. I am so old I remember when they were called dealers, not crusaders.

    After July 1, Enns will still be breaking the law if he drives around with that stuff in his car.

  8. “Enns is one of those people who believe cannabis cures all ails — cancer, bad attitude, economic crisis, squeaky ball joints, you name it — and he believes in spreading the gospel far and wide. He’s harmless, and I admire his defiance in the face of repeated arrests; besides which, such arrests seem pointless as legalization approaches.”

    Does this actually make him harmless? He’s out the selling snake oil and trying to grift sick people desperate for a cure of their money.

    If he was just saying “this stuff will get you high” then I think that’s a lot more admirable than trying to pawn it off as Dr. Enns’s Miracle Health Tonic.

    1. I see your point. But I think they all know it’s kind of a game: “This stuff cures everything! That’s why we get high.”

      1. During prohibition, there were all sorts of medications of dubious efficacy – and unfortunately, most of these medications needed to be taken orally and used ethanol as a solvent for the active ingredients.

          1. I’d like to be able to try cannabidiol. I’d like to be able to go to the local pharmacy and buy it. It shouldn’t be any harder to get than, say, aspirin.

        1. To both Nick and Tim, while I know you have the right to your opinion, and to be as sarcastic as you wish about Mr. Enns and cannabis, (and if you disapprove of what he does and believes, that’s your choice) but perhaps both of you would care to do some research in actual scientific databases , using peer reviewed scientific journals, before you comment off the cuff about what it can and cannot do? While not a panacea for everything, Marihuana has been shown to help in conditions from epilepsy, to chronic pain to cancer and beyond. We in North America may have criminalized it and deemed it without merit for a number of decades, but research on it has been going on for 50 years, in Europe and in Israel. (with access to the scientific databases you can pull up all this research and more easily and in minutes.) The scientific community in N.A. have finally been doing their own research in the last decade or so and this is also easily accessible too., as is the treatments that are being done. Marihuana was criminalized at a specific time and place here because of certain judicial and pharmacological agendas that had little to do with efficacy of treatment and a lot to do with who controlled what and what money went where. It’s a fascinating read overall. And yes, some use it just to get high, but that’s a risk with any drug, whether legal or illegal. We have far more problems with legal opiods and they are not only legal but very profitable too. Also, for some conditions, it is the CBD in the Marihuana that is effect, not the THC, so what you ingest cannot make you high, and is used with children. (like Charlotte’s Web for epilepsy) It’s a good thing to know. Thank you for listening.

          1. I used to use the stuff to get high, I’m not preaching. Yes, marijuana is fun and low-risk, and that’s fine. Yes, marijuana can produce good health outcomes and that’s wonderful. I am not an anti-marijuana stick in the mud, Beelzebub’s Broccoli is simply another drug which can be used or abused, much like alcohol, amphetamines, and many others. I don’t believe that the government should be a source of moral authority. Although it should be legal to consume as much of Lucifer’s Lettuce as one wants, I don’t think it’s a good idea to do so.

  9. RE: “it’s not a great idea to name a printing company after a brand of toilet paper”
    “Bounty” is a paper towel brand — Perhaps a step up from TP

    1. Who came first? i think Bounty printing has been around for quite a while. I still have the last of a few promotional notepads which came into our household about twenty years ago.