I’m  Suzanne Rent and I’m filling in for Tim today. You can follow me on  Twitter @Suzanne_Rent.


1. Two women could be in running for police chief job

Sonia Thomas, Barbara McLean

Halifax will likely get a new police chief in May and rumour has it there are two women in the running for the job, reports Francis Campbell at the Chronicle Herald.

Chief Blais is off the job today, but a new hire is not in place. Councillor Steve Craig, who’s on the police commission board, says they are still in negotiations.

It’s taken a little bit longer than I have thought. It’s the same as what we did with Jacques Dube when we hired him, getting into contract negotiations at that level.

But Campbell says the names of two women have been suggested as possible candidates.

Sonia Thomas recently retired from the Toronto Police Force after serving there for 30 years. There, she worked as a sergeant, staff sergeant, police instructor, and inspector. She was born in Toronto to parents from Jamaica and was one of very few Black women in the highest ranks of the Toronto force.

Barbara McLean served 30 years with the Toronto Police Force, including as its deputy chief. Her expertise includes community engagement, policy development, strategic planning, fiscal accountability and leadership development.

Craig wouldn’t comment if McLean or Thomas were candidates for the job, but says the new hire could be discussed at the meeting of the police commission on May 13 and then move onto council the next day. Craig says there were 30 applicants from across the country and that list was shortlisted to eight.

The biggest issue right now for a new chief is the street check report. Campbell says McLean and Thomas both have experience with Toronto’s carding policy that was introduced there in 2017. Craig says the issue of street checks was a part of discussions in interviews for the job.

Meanwhile, a decision on the street check report could be released today, says Halifax Today. 

2. Congrats to Tim!

Tim was in Toronto the last couple of days for the PEN Canada annual meeting. PEN Canada awarded Tim the Ken Filkow award for Freedom of Expression. I’m sure he will have more on this later, but congratulations to Tim for all his hard work on the Halifax Examiner. This award is well deserved.

If you check out his Twitter feed, Tim  looks like has was having a pretty good time.

Of course, your subscriptions help pay for Tim’s work and other writers who contribute to the Halifax Examiner. You can subscribe here.

3. Cassidy Bernard’s family calls for action in missing and murdered Indigenous women

Cassidy Bernard

The family of Cassidy Bernard, a young woman from the We’koqma’q First Nation, was in the Nova Scotia legislature yesterday, reports The Canadian Press.

Bernard’s body was found in her home in October 2018. Her infant twin girls were in a crib beside her. Bernard’s cousin Annie Bernard-Daisley told reporters the lives of Indigenous women matter and called on the premier and province to reopen cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and add more police resources in First Nations communities.

For far too long, since colonization, our women have been hunted. When I say hunted, they have been murdered and gone missing without a trace.

We come to you today to show you what (missing and murdered Indigenous women) look like, and who is left behind to suffer with tremendous grief.

Police say Bernard’s death wasn’t a random act and the investigation will take time.

4. Public will get its say in consultations on stadium proposal

The public will get a chance to have its say on the stadium proposal, says Canada Lands, the crown corporation that owns the land in Shannon Park, says CBC Nova Scotia. 

Schooners Sports and Entertainment said last month they signed a letter of intent with Canada Lands Company. Anthony LeBlanc, a partner with the Schooners, says they always knew more public consultations were part of the deal.

What they’ve insisted is we re-engage the public in [a] similar manner with public consultations, but they’ve asked us — Schooners Sports and Entertainment — to lead that. This is nothing new.

Why bother? Those who attended the first public consultations in 2015 and 2016 made it clear they didn’t want a stadium on the land, but here we are listening to talk about a stadium in Shannon Park.

Premier McNeil said on Thursday he’s not been approached about an ask for funding for the stadium.

Maybe the cab-hailing woman who seems to show up in renderings for projects everywhere, including the stadium, is done with this business, too.

5. No spring bear hunt in Nova Scotia

Hunters across Nova Scotia area disappointed the province ruled against a spring bear hunt again this year, reports CBC Nova Scotia.

The fall bear hunting season runs from Sept. 10 to Dec. 1. But Jeff McNeil, president of the Port Morien Wildlife Association, and other groups connected with the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters have been calling for a spring bear hunt for the past 15 years. McNeil says the number of complaints about nuisance bears is on the rise. In the fall hunt, 597 bears were killed. That’s up from 283 in the fall hunt of 2009.

If somebody has to get seriously hurt or mauled, it is too late then. With the backlash us hunters and trappers of the province get from time to time, a lot of it is driven by people that don’t like what we do.

Lands and forestry minister Iain Rankin says the decision against a spring bear hunt was based on evidence.

There’s no compelling reason from a conservation perspective. The numbers have been consistent. The harvest levels have been consistent. The population remains consistent.


1. Here’s a tip: Don’t take your staff’s gratuities

Earlier this week, this video was making the rounds on social media. Basically, the guy is giving advice on a simple tipping trick that can save you $400 a year.

I always tip at least 20 per cent, and that’s not just to servers and bartender, but also to other services like cab drivers and my hair stylist. Tipping is custom not everyone agrees on, but this video got me thinking how a lot of people don’t know about tip-out systems in bars and restaurants and what your servers and bartenders actually get to keep.

In Nova Scotia, employers have the right to take their employees’ tips. Judy Haiven wrote this great piece in the Nova Scotia Advocate last year. Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador are the only two provinces where the tips are exclusively the property of  the servers.

And law firm Pink Larkin has this piece on tips and employers. In Ontario, the Protecting Employees’ Tips Act prohibits employers from taking employees tips unless it’s to pool them temporarily and then share them with the staff.

And here’s another piece from CBC Marketplace on tipping rules in each province.

I mentioned here before, I worked in the bar and restaurant business for 23 years. The tipping system was different everywhere I worked. In most cases, servers tipped out to other staff, like the host, kitchen, food runners, bussers, and even door staff. Usually, the amount we tipped out was a percentage of your total sales taken from the tips you made in a given shift. I had no issue tipping out; these staff make servers’ jobs easier and better.

But there were a couple of circumstances where the tipping system was very questionable. I worked at one Halifax waterfront establishment that hosted a lot of bus and group tours over the summer. The guest count at each event ranged from 50 to 300 guests. Servers who worked those events made an extra $10 for each banquet they worked; bartenders (like me) made an extra $15. No one wanted to work those banquets because they knew they could make more money working a regular section in the restaurant. We also knew the owners were likely charging the client an automatic gratuity or “auto grat” of 15 per cent and not sharing that with the staff who worked the function.

Anywhere else I worked that hosted private functions, the manager added a 15 per cent auto grat to the client’s bill. This was pretty standard practice. I often worked the bar at these functions, so the bar bill had its own auto gratuity, which went to the bartenders. But at this particular waterfront establishment, that’s not how the system worked. I remember working one private function that had an open bar. We had to track the sales for inventory purposes, but we weren’t permitted to charge an auto grat. The owner said since it was an open bar, the bartenders wouldn’t get that extra $15 because the guests would tip since they were getting free drinks. And that’s usually the case. But these customers didn’t tip. Some asked if we were getting tipped on the final bill. We weren’t permitted to say we weren’t. The other bartender and I gave out $5,000 in alcohol that night. And we didn’t make a cent in tips. I don’t know how the final bill was handled, but I suspected the owner added a 15 per cent auto grat, so, $750, and kept it. I worked with similar tour groups in other establishments in the city and those companies were accustomed to paying an auto grat on their bill. And I always got 15 per cent on the bar tab.

At another bar where I worked a brief stint, the tip-out paperwork included a seven per cent “GST” payment each staff member had to pay at the end of their shift. That was besides the regular tip out to the other staff. It wasn’t a payment toward tax. I asked what that amount was and was told went to the house, in other words, the owner, and I wasn’t allowed to question it. I didn’t stay there long and that place closed years ago.

When I worked as a bartender at a club in downtown Toronto in 2000, I tipped out to the kitchen staff and the servers tipped out to me for making drinks for their customers. Any tips I made on the bar were mine, after I tipped out to the kitchen. That club hosted a lot of private functions and put a 15 per cent auto grat on the bill. The employer didn’t take any of our tips.

The only places I worked where staff pooled and shared tips were at military bases.

Again, not everyone agrees with the custom of tipping. But if it’s a custom that employers abuse, then that’s unethical to the servers who earn those tips and the customers who pay them to those servers in good faith. Maybe it’s time Nova Scotia adopted a policy like Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. Protecting tips is about protecting workers’ rights.

In the meantime, tip your servers and bartenders well and, if you can, find out their tipping policy.


1. Get on your bikes and ride

On Sunday, I picked up a copy of Silent Steeds: Cycling in Nova Scotia to 1900, for research for another project I’m working on. The book was written by Heather Watts and the Nova Scotia Museum in 1985 and chronicles the rise of cycling and bicycles in the province.

The same day, Small History NS tweeted out this.

Small History NS is subtweeting us again!

On Monday, the Nova Scotia Museum tweeted out this about “bicycle face.”

But what does all this historic talk about bicycles have to do with news today? Well, if you’ve been following the stories about the closure of Quinpool Road for the next four months, bicycles have come up often as a way to navigate downtown and get to work. Some people on Twitter are offering to help commuters bike downtown.

Even this raccoon is promoting cycling in the city.

Oh, that bit about bicycle face came up in my timeline a few weeks ago when I saw this Twitter thread from marketing agency Article Group that talks about how bicycles were for women in the late 1800s and early 1900s as dating apps are for women now. Honestly, I’d rather have a bicycle.

Of course, that reminds me of the bike I had as a kid. It was purple and had a banana seat with a daisy print on it. Maybe I can ride that downtown?

2. Ontario Science Centre puts Dartmouth on the map

On the weekend, Ontario writer and author Anne Theriault tweeted out this photo of this map from the Ontario Science Centre, which shows Dartmouth as the only city highlighted in Nova Scotia. Several of the responses to Theriault’s tweet said it must be the work of Gloria McCluskey.

I emailed the Ontario Science Centre to ask about the map. Their media person says it’s part of a raised map in the Living Earth Exhibit Hall, but they wouldn’t tell me why Dartmouth was the only city highlighted. Maybe Gloria got to them before I did.



No public meetings.


Legislature sits (Friday, 9am, Province House)

On campus



Solventfree Approaches to Nanoparticles Synthesis and Polymer Functionalization and Plasmonic Catalytic Hydrogenation Reactions (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Audrey Moores from McGill University will speak. 

The Global British Empire ca. 1650 – 1784 (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 2107, Mona Campbell Building) — Stephen Pincus from the University of Chicago will speak.


Tupper Band 40th Anniversary Concert (Saturday, 7pm, Performance Hall, Halifax Central Library) — from the listing:

The concert features music from a wide variety of sources, ranging from musical theatre and movies to songs of ABBA and Freddie Mercury, even including a Spanish march and a waltz.

In 1979 a group of Dalhousie medical students, faculty members and healthcare professionals embarked on a venture that no Canadian medical school had previously attempted – they decided to form a concert band. From those earliest days, the Band been directed by Dr. Bernard Badley, a former vice-dean of the Faculty of Medicine and C.E.O. of the Victoria General Hospital. The proceeds go towards the Music-in-Medicine Scholarship Fund​.

$10, no charge for students. Contact this guy or this guy.

In the harbour

05:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
05:30: Tulane, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
06:45: ZIM Tarragona, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
07:00: Lomur, cargo ship, arrives at Bedford Basin anchorage from Portland
08:00: BBC Brazil, cargo ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea
16:00: Atlantic Sun sails for New York
20:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
16:00: Tulane moves to Pier 31
16:30: ZIM Tarragona sails for New York


I just wanted to send a shout-out and thank you to Iris, who often edits Morning File. She’s excellent to work with and has taught me some tricks about the photos we use in here. Thank you, Iris!

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

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  1. I worked in Alberta at a resort in 1981. The owner, Rick, had us turn in our tips daily at shift end in an envelope with our name on it to be paid out at contract completion. If we left early we forfeited the tips and retaining any of the day’s take was a firing offense. Our theme song…”We are the Bayshore Girls so pity us; Rick is a prick the food is hideous…” Good times.

  2. No one has ever been mauled by a black bear in Nova Scotia. I don’t think they are about to start.

  3. Before y’all get too deep into the “we may differ politically, but Pete MacKay sure is a good ol’ boy” trope, let’s take a minute to review the many despicable episodes in MacKay’s public career—particularly his character assassination of Richard Colvin, the courageous diplomat who volunteered to assume the dangerous post of a Canadian killed by terrorists, then risked his career to expose the Canadian Forces’ illegal practice of turning prisoners of war and innocent Afghan civilians over to the Afghan Army to be tortured.


  4. Bears shouldn’t be the only concern. With the loss of more than half our wildlife since the 70s, due to habitat loss, pollution, hunting and collecting, and the obstruction of migration routes, and the very real prospect we are heading towards the world’s greatest extinction event, we are going have to realize that humans need to compact our living space to sustainable urban environments, and leave the rural and wilderness areas to nature, so animals can recover and thrive again on the planet alongside humans. At least half the Earth needs to be kept free of human habitation and interference. And, of course, reverse global warming.

  5. An Inspector in Toronto is one step up from a Staff Segeant and subordinate to Staff Inspectors,Superintendents, and 4 Deputy Chiefs.
    Deputy Chief McLean has all the required senior management experience.
    In Toronto the chief of Police reports solely to the Police Services Board and the city manager has no say on administration of the the service. The Board has its own civilian CAO.
    It appears she is in line to succeed Chief Saunders https://www.torontopolice.on.ca/TheWayForward/files/people-plan-2017-2019.pdf