We have about another week left in our subscription drive. Over the last few weeks, you’ve learned a bit more about all of the Examiner team and what’s behind our work. I’ll keep this short, but one thing I appreciate about the Examiner is that while our team may be smaller than other newsrooms, we often punch well above our weight.

In many cases, we get the stories first. Sure, you may see those somewhere else eventually, but our small team collectively has a huge network of sources and lots of ideas to follow, whether it’s news, interesting feature pieces, or in the Views or Noticed sections of Morning Files. I credit Tim Bousquet for giving us all the space and time to dig up these stories.

Right now, I have a few stories in the works and I know the rest of the team does, too. I’m not giving away any hints as to what to expect, but I’m willing to bet you won’t read a lot of these stories anywhere else. News is a business of ideas and we have plenty of our own.

Thank you again for subscribing. We appreciate the support and we’ll continue to work to bring you stories you won’t read anywhere else. You can subscribe here.


NEWS

1. Electoral boundaries

Halifax City Hall in August 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Halifax is almost done drawing new lines. Council’s Executive Standing Committee voted in favour of proposed new electoral districts at its meeting on Monday,” reports Zane Woodford.

It’s a task the municipality is obliged to take on every eight years. It submits a recommendation to the Utility and Review Board (UARB), which ultimately decides the number and boundaries of districts. Ahead of the 2012 election, the UARB downsized the number of districts from 24 to 16, even though HRM wanted 20.

As the Halifax Examiner reported in May, the committee recommended council stick with the current number of districts: 16. It did, so the municipality’s District Boundary Resident Review Panel conducted public consultation and drew lines all over the municipality. Then it went back to the public, revised the boundaries again, and brought them to the committee.

Woodford goes on to detail the revised boundaries with maps for each district and details on the biggest changes.

This article is for subscribers only. You can subscribe here.

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2. Kayla Borden

A young Black woman sits at a table with a white man wearing glasses. Behind them are several other people seated at tables.
Kayla Borden at her appeal hearing at the Nova Scotia Police Review Board on November 28, 2022. Credit: Matthew Byard

“Some of the Halifax Regional Police officers involved in pulling Kayla Borden over in 2020 testified Monday as her Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing resumed,” reports Matthew Byard.

Police pulled Borden over in the wee hours of the morning on July 28, 2020 in Dartmouth. She was handcuffed and placed under arrest when she was suspected of evading police less than an hour earlier in Halifax.

Const. Anil Rana was first to testify Monday. Rana said he was on duty just before 1am when he heard over the police radio that Const. Stewart McCulley tried to pull over a dark car that sped off and got away after a brief pursuit.

Rana said he started driving toward where McCulley last saw the vehicle turn left onto Kearney Lake Road from the Bedford Highway.

“I didn’t stop any vehicles. The only thing I remember is while I was driving on the Bedford Highway, I did see a dark colour vehicle coming north on Bedford Highway, and then I initiated my traffic lights,” Rana said. “And my memory is that two vehicles were stopped on the opposite side of the street.” 

Byard’s story also includes testimony from Const. Sym Dewar.

Click here to read that story. Byard is back at the hearing this morning and will have a story later.

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3. Child care fees

A small child's hands gently pat down a green ball of play dough in a line of other primary coloured play dough sitting on a grey table.
Golden abstract structure at EMP Museum Seattle by Scott Webb is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0 Credit: Alexander Grey/Pexels

“Nova Scotia families with children in licensed child care will ring in the new year with a reduction in their fees,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.

In a provincial-federal announcement on Monday, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Becky Druhan said effective Dec. 31, there will be a 25% reduction to child care costs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in the province. 

This comes on the heels of a 25% reduction announced earlier this year, meaning fees for most families will be (on average) 50% lower than they were in 2019.

“We know that for many families, child care is the top household expense equal to or more than rent or a mortgage payment,” Druhan said on Monday. “This announcement changes that.”

d’Entremont also learned that 1,500 new child care spaces will be available with 1,100 of those opening at the end of December.

Click here to read that article.

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4. Food banks and food insecurity

Stacks of potatoes in brown paper bags in a room with other bags filled with food items.
A stockroom at a food bank in Glace Bay.

Sarah Smellie with The Canadian Press has this story about Canadian food insecurity researchers and their thoughts about holiday appeals for donations to food banks. Smellie writes:

Josh Smee, the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador-based non-profit Food First N.L., says he tends to feel conflicted during the holidays when calls ramp up to donate to local food banks, often accompanied by messaging about ending hunger.

Hunger is an income issue, he said, adding people don’t have enough food because they don’t have money to buy it.

Smee said donating to food banks won’t put more money in the pockets of people who rely on them for meals, but systemic change — such as increasing minimum wages and income support levels — will.

“The reality of it is that we’ve built a system where private charity is filling in for where the social safety net should be,” Smee said in a recent interview. “Right now it is absolutely imperative that people donate when they can. But I think that when folks make those donations, they should also be reaching out to decision makers to let them know that it’s not acceptable that these circumstances exist.”

Amen.

The story also includes some research from Proof, a national food insecurity working group based at the University of Toronto. In 2021, 16% of households across the country adjusted their diets or simply went without food.

Smellie also spoke with Lynn McIntyre, emeritus professor of community health at the University of Calgary’s medical school, who said “she feels despair every year as people are urged to donate to local food banks.”

McIntrye said governments continuing to spend on food banks is a sign they don’t want to tackle the bigger issues around hunger. McIntrye said she’s a supporter of basic income.

I do think that that’s really what needs to be said. Don’t just drop a can and then say, ‘But I I really believe in basic income’ or ‘I believe in poverty reduction initiatives.’ I think we have to absolutely stop these responses and beef up our current system.

This story ties into what I wrote in Views today. You can read that below.

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5. Cycling advocates not happy

A man wearing an orange jacket and blue helmet rides a bicycle. In the background is a big green suspension bridge.
A cyclist climbs the hill to the Macdonald Bridge bikeway on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. Credit: Zane Woodford

Amber Fryday at Global Halifax spoke with the Halifax Cycling Coalition, which says it’s not happy with delays in infrastructure upgrades in HRM.

The cycling connection to the Macdonald Bridge on the Halifax side, previously expected to be completed in 2022, will be delayed to 2024 according to Halifax Regional Municipal Council.

Peter Zimmer, the chair of the coalition and an avid cyclist, says he is tired of playing the waiting game.

“We’ve heard that over and over and over again and we’re concerned that they’re ignoring their own policies and their own commitments,” he told Global News.

As Zane Woodford reported last week, Halifax regional council wasn’t scared off by the new price for the flyover, which is $12.7 million, double the original estimate.

David MacIsaac, the active transportation manager for HRM, told Fryday at Global there were a few reasons for the delays, including budget, supply chain issues, and internal labour shortages.

Still, Zimmer with the Halifax Cycling Coaltion is asking for interim fixes, saying, “painted bikes lanes, they might as well not exist. There is no barrier there. A car can swing into the lane at any point.” 

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VIEWS

Doing good deeds: it’s not all about you

Wooden Scrabble blocks that spell out, "do the good thing."
Photo by Arvind shakya on Pexels.com Credit: Brett Jordan/Pexels

As we head into the holiday season, I started thinking about the ways we give back to the community and people. Specifically, I was thinking about people who do good deeds and then post about it on social media. It’s long been a pet peeve of mine, particularly because it puts the spotlight on people when they’re most vulnerable, but also the focus seems more about the giver.

I’m not talking about people who ask for donations for a fundraising marathon they’re running or a Go Fund Me for a family that lost their home in a fire. I’m talking about people who take selfies at a food bank or emergency shelter. Sometimes those photos include the people receiving that help. I find this to be a huge invasion of privacy. Can’t people do a kind deed and be quiet about it? 

As I was thinking about this, I was editing stories for a community newspaper I edit called the North Dartmouth Echo. One of our regular contributors is Kevin Little, who is a minister with the Brunswick Street United Church and the community outreach facilitator with The Public Good Society of Dartmouth.

For the issue that we’re working on now, Little wrote a column about giving back to community organizations. I won’t give it all away here, but his words really hit a nerve with me. So, I decided to call him to ask about the story behind that commentary and his thoughts on giving back. Little and I spoke on Saturday. 

Little told me had been recently speaking with staff and leaders at organizations in the community who told him they were getting calls from people looking to volunteer on Christmas and Christmas Eve. Those organzations, however, already have more than enough help on those particular days.

But when those same organizations suggest the potential volunteers choose another day of the year to help out, the volunteers are cranky when their offer to help specifically on Christmas is refused. Little says he’s heard this all before.

“What really annoys me is when your offering of kindness is not needed or asked for and, in fact, the people doing the good work are asking you to do something else and then you refuse to even consider it because your needs come first,” Little said. “That’s what annoys me. Not the quiet charity part. It’s the ‘all about me’ part. If you really want to help, it’s about helping, it’s not about you.”

Little doesn’t have an issue with people sharing details of their good deeds on social media, even though he doesn’t do social media himself.

“When I hear people doing things in my community, I think I’m glad you posted that or I’m glad you told me about that because you inspired me to do something myself,” Little said. “I don’t mind people shining the light on their kindness as long as the kindness was something that people actually wanted.”

Little and I also talked about the expectation of gratitude. That is, don’t do good deeds expecting thanks from someone. And he says it seems many of us have developed a need for praise for doing good deeds.

“To me that’s not a healthy way of doing things,” Little said. “If you give people the impression that the reason you’re doing something kind is to be thanked, you’re missing the biggest piece. That is participating in the life of a community and being part of something bigger than yourself and knowing at times you’re going to give and at times you’re going to receive. And that’s what it means to be human.”

Little had two pieces of advice. First, talk about the larger issues such as why we have food banks at all.

“Why can’t we as a society do more for people to have a basic safety net?” Little said. 

And secondly, if you want to give to a food bank or any other organization, first ask them what they need.

“We show up at food banks and places with what we want to give,” Little said. “Don’t do that. Call these places and ask, ‘What do you need?'”

“When the food bank or the soup kitchen says to you, ‘Well, if you’re asking, we need this,” chances are, at least one of the things on that list is something you can do. But don’t show up with stuff. Call! I don’t understand why that’s so hard.”

Little and I also talked about privilege. He shared with me an analogy he learned from a professor at the Atlantic School of Theology:

“He said, ‘Our culture is like the person at the bottom of a cliff. And what we do is when people fall of the cliff, we race to them, we bandage them, and we take them to a hospital, and we try our best to help them. But we never ask the question, why do they keep falling off the cliff?'” Little said.

Little said that’s because we still think of poverty and other issues as character flaws. Little said it’s really because a lot of people have various challenges, but “some of us are lucky enough to fall into families who rescue us.”

“All my bad decisions made in life, and believe me, I made lots, have been rescued by support systems that I had nothing to do with,” Little said. “It’s because I am white, and I am middle class, and I am male, a minister, and a Christian. There’s a built-in support system for me. But when other people, who don’t have any of that support system, when they make a mistake or fall into trouble, there’s nobody there for them. They fall into the cracks and they go deeper and deeper into poverty.”

That’s why Little is a supporter of a guaranteed basic income, a safety net that could help those people when they fall.

And then Little brought out his “churchy side,” saying we have to have hope.

“Sometimes it worries me that when we’re talking about situations whether it’s homelessness, racism, sexism, that we leave people with the impression that we’re doomed,” Little said. “I think that everyone, as a basic human necessity, has to find hope.”

“I am not a pollyanna. Life is hard. There’s death and there’s racism, sexism, and poverty, but you’ve got to have a little bit of hope. If you don’t spread a little bit of hope, you’re doing a disservice to the people you’re helping. Because they need it, they want it.”

“I talk about hardship, I talk about pain, I talk about brokenness, I talk about mental health, and I talk about all this stuff always. And then I talk about hope because I feel like if I don’t I am just reinforcing and traumatizing people. Hope. You have to keep hope alive.”

Little wasn’t done sharing his message. On Sunday morning, he sent me a few more thoughts on hope I want to share here: 

I will say the notion of “hope” has been on my mind for some time. I really don’t see my progressive friends offering much of it, other than a plaintive call for government action. Of course, I concur with that kind of advocacy. But without some taste of what we are striving to be I worry we will get stuck in grievance and fear and worry.  

Hope is such an abstract word, it invites all kinds of definitions, and many of those offerings have very little in common. My own assessment of hope is this; I believe humans yearn/long to connect, to fit their differences into a larger whole, like a jigsaw puzzle, and then to celebrate same and tell stories about it to their kin and their friends. Unlike my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, I don’t think these differences dissolve or are secondary once that fit has occurred. And unlike many of my generation, I don’t think it is “all about me,” that the larger whole is what helps define my piece of the puzzle. 

So, in a nutshell, on whatever scale, in whatever situation of context, my role, my purpose, is to help foster and inspire those connections, especially between people who otherwise would never connect. Experiencing those connections is what makes my life meaningful, and gives me hope. 

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NOTICED

Vanity sizing: it’s in the jeans

Two stacks of demin jeans. One stack of light coloured jeans on the left, and dark wash jeans on the right
It’s in the jeans. Credit: Waldemar Brandt/Pexels

Ask any woman about sizing in clothes and you will learn it’s a big a pet peeve that’s right up there with the lack of pockets in women’s clothing. I wrote about this two years ago when I took my daughter shopping for a prom dress. Sizes for women’s clothing are all over the place. I personally have clothes in sizes small to large. All fit me, so I have no idea what size I really am.

Well, CBC Marketplace looked into this issue, too, specially around jeans. Its researchers tested seven brands of denim jeans to find what was true to size. This didn’t come as a surprise to me, but what they learned is that the sizing in jeans is rarely accurate. And as I wrote two years ago, there’s a name for this practice: vanity sizing.

Marketplace got help with this story from Marie-Eve Faust, a professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal in the department of strategy, social and environmental responsibility. She measured and assessed jeans that were purchased from brands including Levi’s, H&M, Gap, Lee, Wrangler, Old Navy and Abercrombie & Fitch.

They found that the jeans were actually bigger by at least an inch compared to the size 34 on the label of women’s jeans or the 38 on the label in men’s jeans. Seeing that smaller size on the label makes us want to buy the jeans. From CBC:

Faust, who has published a number of studies on fashion management, sizing and fit, described vanity sizing as a marketing tool commonly used in fashion and not limited to jeans.

“To flatter your consumer, you would label it as a size smaller than it is,” she said, which makes it difficult for people to shop with confidence and ease.

“It’s very difficult for women to find out which brand is OK,” she said. “But at the same time, it flatters you.”

She said when people feel good about the size, they may purchase more as a result.

Marketplace also spoke with clinical psychologist Nina Mafrici who said the practice of vanity sizing can be dangerous:

“The problem with vanity sizing and with fooling people into believing that they are a smaller size, is really it connects a size, an objective measure — for instance clothing size or weight on a scale — with the person’s self worth,” she said.

And that leads to “low body image or low self-esteem and can contribute to eating disorders.”

Mafrici said she and her staff are seeing more clients than ever who are younger and have serious health issues like eating disorders.

As I said, I always knew sizing on women’s clothing was off, but this story has good details on how far off some of the brands are. Wrangler High Rise True Straight Fit and H&M Straight Regular Waist were about two inches off the actual size, while Abercrombie & Fitch had the smallest difference between the label size and the actual size.

This is an issue in men’s clothing, too, so Marketplace covered that as well.

Marketplace reached out to some of the brands for comment. Some declined, and H&M was the only brand to respond to the vanity sizing issue, telling Marketplace, “Vanity sizing is not something we work with at H&M.” It also said different items of the same size can be experienced differently depending on factors like style of the clothing.”

It’s good to see someone size up these brands for their crappy marketing. You can read the piece here.

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Government

City

Today

No meetings

Tomorrow

Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, online) — agenda

District Boundary Resident Review Panel (Wednesday, 3:30pm, City Hall) — if required

Province

Today

Human Resources (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — Teacher Workloads and Impact on Student Achievement, and Teacher Recruitment and Retention; and Appointments to Agencies, Boards, and Commissions; with representatives from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Educators for Social Justice, and NSTU

Tomorrow

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, One Government Place) — 2022 Report of the Auditor General – Immigration and Population Growth; with representatives from the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, and Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia


On campus

Dalhousie

Today

7 Stories (Tuesday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre) — a Fountain School of Performing Arts production, until Dec. 3; $15/$10, more info here

Tomorrow

Accessibility in action: Sharing highlights from new projects at Dal (Wednesday, 12pm, Room 2600, Killam Library, and online) — more info here

Dr. Merlinda Weinberg’s Legacy of Diversity and Ethical Practice (Wednesday, 5:30pm, online) — paneldiscussion with AI-generated captions

7 Stories (Wednesday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre) — a Fountain School of Performing Arts production, until Dec. 3; $15/$10, more info here


In the harbour

Halifax
04:30: MSC Alyssa, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Barcelona
06:00: MSC Poh Lin, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Sines, Portugal
07:30: Skogafoss, container ship, moves from Pier 36 to Pier 42 
09:30: Advantage Point, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from New York
10:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England 
10:30: Atlantic Marlin, cargo barge, and Atlantic Bear, tug, move from IEL to Halifax Shipyard
11:45: Skogafoss sails for Portland
15:30: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 42 from San Juan, Puerto Rico
15:30: Atlantic Marlin, cargo barge, and Atlantic Bear, tug, move back to IEL
16:30: MSC Poh Lin sails for sea
21:30: Atlantic Sail sails for New York

Cape Breton
12:00: CSL Tarantau, bulker, moves from Inhabitants Bay to Outer anchorage
12:30: Advantage Sun, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
15:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Halifax


Footnotes

My Christmas tree is up. The cats haven’t touched it. It’s Christmas miracle!

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Suzanne Rent

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

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3 Comments

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  1. I realize they’re different levels of government but it’s wild to me that the Macdonald flyover and the highway 103 twinning project were both approved in the same year, 2017. One is a $390 million dollar project covering dozens of kilometres and the other is $6-12 million, 200 metres of cycling bridge. There are vast swaths of the 103 that are done and it’ll likely all be done before they even start the Macdonald cycling flyover. Shows where the priorities are in this province. The municipality has to pick up the pace.

  2. Interesting juxtaposition of the article about food banks and homelessness followed by the article about a few hundred upset middle class employed people worried about the delay of a non-essential expenditure of $12.7 million. “Peter Zimmer, the chair of the coalition and an avid cyclist, says he is tired of playing the waiting game. ‘ We’ve heard that over and over and over again and we’re concerned that they’re ignoring their own policies and their own commitments”

  3. Kevin Little is wise. Good deeds should never be about the person. There’s only one place for the smarmy self-congratulation of which he speaks: Linkedin.