1. Dexter Construction and Ducks Unlimited

A muddy pond with fallen trees.
A wetland near the Arlington dump was clearcut. Credit: Annapolis Waterkeepers

“After destroying a wetland next to the Arlington dump, Dexter Construction has made a $15,000 donation to Ducks Unlimited. Neighbours to the dump call the donation a ‘PR stunt,'” reports Jennifer Henderson.

Henderson has been reporting on this with a few articles since early April; you can read those articles here, here, and here.

As Henderson writes, people who live downslope of the Arlington Heights Construction & Demolition dump on the Annapolis Valley’s North Mountain are concerned that runoff from the dump will contaminate their wells, even though the province has told them the dump was built on “impermeable” soil.

Arlington Heights C &D was charged under the Environment Act in February 2020. Dexter, which bought the dump from the previous owner, was charged with altering a wetland without seeking prior approval. But in July 2022, the charges against Dexter were withdrawn.

Here’s Henderson on the latest:

When initially asked about the status of the charge, Environment Department spokesperson Mikaela Etchegary directed the Halifax Examiner to the Public Prosecution Service. But over the past two weeks, the Annapolis Waterkeepers and others began hearing that Dexter Construction had made a donation to Ducks Unlimited, designed to compensate for the unauthorized bulldozing of the wetland next to the dump. 

The Examiner went back to the Etchegary to ask about that donation. Last Friday, Etchegary confirmed the donation:

As you are aware, Nova Scotians can, and must by law, request approval to alter a wetland. Those requests undergo a rigorous process to ensure minimal impacts to Nova Scotia’s wetlands.

In this specific situation, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) makes the decision to proceed or not proceed with prosecution – the Department of Environment and Climate Change (ECC) does not make those decisions. You would need to speak to the PPS or the company for anything related to charges.

ECC is aware that Arlington Heights C&D Limited made a one-time donation in the amount of $15,000 to Ducks Unlimited as compensation for the loss of approximately 1.9068 hectares of freshwater wetland habitat in Nova Scotia. [emphasis added]

Ducks Unlimited has not responded to a request for comment.

Click here to read “‘This is a PR stunt’: After destroying a wetland next to the Arlington dump, Dexter Construction donates $15,000 to Ducks Unlimited.”

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2. Halifax cop referred to restorative justice for 2020 assault on Black teen

A white man with a shaved head and closely cut beard and moustache wearing a blue and white plaid shirt looks directly into a camera. He's in a hallway of a building and there is a woman in the background.
Const. Mark Pierce. Credit: Matthew Byard

“Const. Mark Pierce, the Halifax Regional Police officer charged with assaulting a 15-year-old Black boy outside of a mall in Bedford in February 2020, came face to face last week with the youth and his parents for the first time since the night of the incident,” reports Matthew Byard.

Demario Chambers, now 19 years old, said he received a concussion, cuts, bruises, and badly hurt finger at the hands of Pierce and his partner Const. Craig Trudel when they arrested him.

They released Chambers without charges to his parents later that night.

Chambers’ parents, Troylena and Dasmen Dixon, shared a 23-second video of the arrest that Chambers recorded. The video was widely shared on social media in the days that followed as the story made headlines.

Chambers wrote an article about the incident in the Examiner in July 2020. That was before Pierce was charged eight months later. His partner, Trudel, was never charged.

Pierce pleaded not guilty, which would mean the case would go to trial, but it didn’t. Here’s Byard:

However, the Crown instead referred the case to restorative justice. Troylena Dixon, Chambers’ mother, said the restorative justice process would be better for her son than a trial. On Tuesday, Pierce and Chambers met to complete that process.

“He pleaded not guilty in the courts, but he had to admit to it and take accountability for his actions … in order for it to go through to restorative justice,” Dixon, told the Halifax Examiner following Tuesday’s restorative justice meeting.

Chambers’ father, Dasmen Dixon, said Pierce has been on paid suspension since he was charged. He said Pierce and Trudel’s actions will be the subject of an internal Halifax Regional Police investigation following the conclusion of the criminal case. Dixon said he wants to see Pierce lose his job. 

Several support people for both Chambers and Pierce attended the closed meeting, along with Chambers’ parents, and the restorative justice moderator. Troylena Dixon said the meeting lasted five hours.

Byard’s story also includes a statement from Chambers that he read to Pierce last week.

Click here to read “Halifax constable referred to restorative justice for 2020 assault on Black teen.”

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3. Former student sues over historical sexual assault by now-deceased Yarmouth teacher

A concrete building is seen on a grey day. The sign says "The Law Courts, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Nova Scotia." There are three flags — two Nova Scotian and one Canadian, in the centre.
The Law Courts in Halifax in February 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“A former student at a Yarmouth junior high school is suing over historical sexual assault allegations against her now-deceased former teacher,” reports Zane Woodford.

Lawyer Mike Dull filed notice of action and a statement of claim against the Tri-County Regional Centre for Education in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on May 17. Dull alleged Mark Thornton sexually assaulted his client, referred to as AB. The assaults happened around 2000-2002, when AB was about 14 years old.

AB went to Yarmouth Junior High School, now called Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School. Thornton was her teacher.

“The Plaintiff states that Thornton cultivated a relationship of trust with her in his position as a teacher with the School by taking such actions including but not limited to the following: meeting with the Plaintiff on the School campus at multiple private locations, counselling the Plaintiff on self-harming behaviour, favouring the Plaintiff, and regularly checking-in on the Plaintiff’s mental health,” Dull wrote in the statement of claim.

“While in the capacity of the Plaintiff’s teacher, Thornton subjected the Plaintiff to numerous instances of sexual assault and battery. These assaults and batteries took place over the course of Thornton’s employment with the Defendant and on School grounds.”

Thornton died in January at the the age of 52. The allegations have not been tested in court, and the regional centre has yet to file a defence.

Click here to read “Former student sues over historical sexual assault by now-deceased Yarmouth teacher.”

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4. EAC wants province, feds to increase access to electric vehicles

A white Tesla sedan is parked and plugged into one of a row of white and red EV chargers in a parking lot.
Tesla-branded electric vehicle chargers in Montreal in January 2023. Credit: Jennifer Henderson

In a news release on Wednesday, the Ecology Action Centre urged Nova Scotia and the federal government to work together to create measures to ensure zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) supply is available across Canada. From the release:

A recent report commissioned by the EAC through Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors indicates that without proper legislative mechanisms to increase delivery of ZEVs outside of provincially regulated markets, provinces like Nova Scotia risk missing federal ZEV adoption targets by a wide margin. According to the report, a scenario in which ZEV availability remains unregulated in Nova Scotia could significantly impact the projected number of ZEVs on the road and severely limit the province’s ability to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in the transportation sector.  

“Regulated ZEV sales targets will send a clear signal to manufacturers to increase the supply of electric vehicles in Canada, creating a cycle of supply and adoption which can in turn create market certainty for deployment of charging infrastructure,” says Thomas Arnason McNeil, climate policy coordinator with the EAC in the release. “This report shows that it’s essential for the Government of Canada to facilitate supply equity across the country to ensure this cycle of electric vehicle supply, adoption and infrastructure deployment benefits Canadians in every province and territory.” 

The EAC notes that regulated supply targets in British Columbia and Quebec increased sales of ZEVs in both of those provinces, but have not increased national supply and, in fact, have created shortages and wait lists for ZEVs elsewhere in the country.

Arnason McNeil said regional inequities could be reduced with opt-in mechanisms within federal mechanisms, and by doing so, an additional 65,000 electric vehicles could be on Nova Scotia roads by 2030. That’s an equivalent to reducing GHGs by 5.2 megatons between 2022 and 2050.

Jennifer Henderson has reported on this supply issue before, in this article from December 2022. Henderson wrote:

In 2021 the Houston government passed the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act. It says by 2030 in Nova Scotia, at least 30% of new passenger vehicle sales must be zero emission cars and trucks. However, the government has chosen to wait for the release of federal targets on zero emission vehicles before actually implementing the Nova Scotia target.

Henderson also spoke with Arnason McNeil about the barriers, including that manufacturers make much more money off vehicles with gas combustion engines than battery-powered ones. But also the barriers of legislation, which EAC addressed in Wednesday’s press release. Here’s Henderson again from her story in December:

BC requires that 90% of all new vehicle sales must be zero emission by 2030, while Quebec requires 65% for the same deadline. This is forcing vehicle manufacturers to change the type of cars they produce to fulfil their legal obligation rather than lose customers in two of Canada’s most populous provinces.

“And when you don’t have a sales mandate or ZEV standard at a national level,” said Arnason McNeil, “what ends up happening is that B.C. and Quebec suck up all the supply that is available for Canada.”

This means fewer zero emission vehicles are available for sale in Nova Scotia and often they are older models.

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5. Fundraiser to save historic church falling short

An aerial shot of a church made from grey granite stones. The church has three red doors and a stone cross on top. In the background is the ocean while a two lane highway runs in front. There is a lineup of cyclists driving on the road. A few pickup trucks are parked in a grassy area across from the church. Houses are located along the road.
Saint Bernard Catholic Church. Credit: Trevor Jones/La Société Héritage Saint Bernard

It looks like a fundraiser to save the historic church Saint Bernard is not going so well. According to this story from The Canadian Press, the chairman of Nation Prospère Acadie, a non-profit group leading the campaign, said so far the group has raised $116,000 of its goal of $2.5 million.

You may remember back in late March when I wrote this Morning File about the listing for Saint Bernard being pulled down just days after it went up. At that time, the Archdiocese was swamped with offers on the church, which was listed for $250,000.

Then on April 20, I interviewed Michel JC Cyr with Nation Prospère Acadie about the 32-day fundraising campaign, which started that day.

Cyr told The Canadian Press the group would continue working on the campaign for the next several weeks with more “direct” asks for donations from government officials and other potential donors. From the story:

Cyr said that despite the emotional attachment some feel toward the structure, raising money is challenging in an era when people prefer donating to local recreational facilities rather than to the restoration of religious landmarks.

In addition, Acadian communities — which in earlier generations often struggled economically — seldom have long-established trust funds and foundations dedicated toward the preservation of historic sites, he added.

Cyr said he didn’t think the slow pace of fundraising was due to any hostility to the Roman Catholic Church itself, noting his organization’s goal is to eventually develop an alternative use for the building.

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Women talking: We don’t need to change our voices to be heard

A young white woman with short brown hair and wearing headphones sits at a desk in front of a microphone. On the desk is a computer with an audio software on the screen. Behind the woman is a bookshelf on the wall with a row of books on it.
People don’t like women’s voices? Who says so? Credit: Sincerely Media/Unsplash

Last week, Philip Moscovitch sent along a link to this article by Sarah Laing in the Globe and Mail.

When this article came out last week, it had the headline “Why do women hate their voices? Probably because everyone else does too.” I thought, “Oh, great. Another article telling women there’s something wrong with us.”

I noticed yesterday that headline has since been changed and the Globe apologized, adding the headline didn’t reflect the content of the article. The current headline is “When it comes to women’s voices at work, authenticity is what matters.”

A screenshot of a newspaper article with the headline "Why do women hate their voices? Probably because everyone else does too." The photo under the headline is of a young woman with short dark hair who is sitting at a table and speaking to two men.
Credit: Screenshot/Globe and Mail

Laing reports on research about how people perceive certain voices connotes leadership. For example, a “deep baritone” is more likely to describe a leader than someone who is a “breathy soprano.” Laing writes:

“If we ask people who sounds like a leader, who sounds like they would be dominant or in charge, even when it comes to women’s voices, it’s usually the lower pitched voice that is preferred in terms of leadership,” says Jillian O’Connor, assistant professor of psychology at Queen’s University, whose research focuses on how the voice influences our perceptions of others. “[And] if we ask people who sounds more trustworthy, it’s still a lower pitched voice.”

Even in stereotypically feminine leadership settings, like parent-teacher associations and school boards, this preference holds, says Dr. O’Connor. The gender of the audience also doesn’t seem to matter. When someone is speaking as a subject-matter expert, such as giving a TED Talk or a presentation at work, both men and women subconsciously lower their voices, says Dr. O’Connor.

“It’s about lower pitch being [perceived as] more authoritative, more dominant and more powerful.”

Laing goes on to write about other vocal characteristics that are often particular to female voices and can be used against them in the workplace. For example, using “like” often. There’s uptalk, speaking in a way that makes it sound like you’re asking a question, and vocal fry, a raspy, creaky sound that comes out at the end of sentences.

According to research, biases about women’s voices can hurt them in the workplace. This is more a listener’s problem than the speaker’s problem. This made me think of Elizabeth Holmes who changed the pitch of her voice to a low baritone when she spoke about Theranos to get investors to take her seriously. Now, Holmes is going to prison.

Fortunately, Dr. O’Connor and Samara Bay, a speech and dialect coach who recently wrote a book, Permission To Speak: How to Change What Power Sounds Like, Starting with You, don’t think women should change their voices at all. Hurray!

“It’s our relationship to our voice that’s holding us back,” says Ms. Bay. “Our relationship to our voice is a reflection of a lot of the cultural crap that we’ve absorbed.”

Hating our voice because our culture hates our voice, she says, is an “endless cycle” until it’s broken. And, like many other destructive cycles, breaking it starts with letting go of shame.

“We need to acknowledge that every habit we’ve picked up, we’ve picked up for a reason, and to honour our resilience and adaptability,” Ms. Bay says. Part of that is realizing that your vocal “weaknesses” – be it vocal fry, speaking too softly, talking “too much” – have sometimes been the very same things that helped propel you forward in other contexts. For example, your manner of speech might have helped you feel like you were part of a group or helped you connect with someone.

O’Connor and Bay both note that anyone can work on their voice, of course, depending on the circumstance. Maybe you’re prepping for a big presentation, so how you speak during that will be different than how you speak with colleagues in a more casual meeting.

I have a personal story about all this. Back in elementary school, I was one of the kids pulled out of class each week to meet with a speech therapist. I had a bit of a lisp, so certain words were tricky to say; and I have a name with an “s” and a “z” in it!

When I went to journalism school when I was 30, my classmates and I had to do on-air “auditions” for our television broadcast class where we produced a newshow every day for several weeks. Anyway, didn’t my instructor point out that in my audition video I spoke with a lisp. (My instructor in radio broadcast, meanwhile, encouraged me to work on air because of my voice).

Another instructor in the television program talked about how it was always white men who were TV anchors because viewers wanted to hear an authoritative voice deliver the news. The “voice of God,” she called it.

My lisp came up again when I briefly worked in radio in Halifax and an anonymous listener — they never include their names — sent me an email that said, “Who let someone with a lisp on the air?”

Okay, Captain Obvious, I know I have a lisp. But working in radio helped me work on that lisp far better than speech therapy did as a kid because speaking into a mic while wearing headphones helped me hear my voice much better. I could practice saying particular, tricky words over and over. The lisp comes out once in a while, but who cares? I’ve done voiceover work before and it’s not a big deal.

I listen to the radio often and enjoy hearing different voices on air. It’s far better than when I watched or listened to the news as a kid in the 70s and 80s. Seeing as how every white guy with a mic thinks he can do a podcast, it’s nice hearing more diverse voices on air. Older voices, young voices, voices with accents, different tones, inflections, and, yes, even a lisp. We don’t need the voice of God; we need to hear the voices of different people. This is what makes radio, podcasts, television, acting, whatever, more interesting and more real.

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The jobless employed: Workers who “don’t have any work to do anymore”

A white man with glasses and a blue shirt and brown pants sleeps in a chair with his feet up on a desk. He has a newspaper on top of him. Meanwhile, another white man in a suit and dark overcoat walks through the door not looking very happy with the guy sleeping at the desk.
Another Morning File, another photo of George Costanza. Credit: Seinfeld

Emily Stewart at Vox has this interesting story about the “jobless employed” titled “How some people get away with doing nothing at work.”

Stewart managed to find several people to interview about this, although for “obvious reasons” none of them agreed to use their real names.

First, there’s Nate who works 40 hours in an operations department at a major fintech company, but actually works about one hour a day. He spends most of his time sleeping in, watching TV, or cleaning his house.

“I don’t have a problem with being asked to do work; it’s just I’m not really being asked,” he says. Maybe he could take more initiative and try to take on more, but he gets good performance reviews and raises as it is, so he figures, why bother? Plus, it’s not like he can waltz up to his boss to announce there’s no real business reason for his existence. “How do I initiate that conversation that’s, ‘Hey, I haven’t been doing much of anything this whole time, I need more to do’? You don’t really want to draw attention to it,” says Nate, which is a pseudonym. 

Stewart also interviewed a guy named Tom who works in sales and is a “bit of an expert in getting paid for work he’s not doing.”

His boss at his last job forgot to inform HR that he’d quit, so he collected a paycheck from the company for a while before anyone figured it out. Now, at his new job, the company doesn’t even know where he’s based — he’s in the United Kingdom, they think he’s in Kentucky — and there’s minimal oversight. “I’m able to slip through the cracks most of the time,” he says. If someone asks what he did over the weekend, he’ll say he went to the Kentucky Derby or something, because he doesn’t want anyone getting suspicious.

Tom doesn’t seem to feel badly at all about this saying, “I’ve tried at work before, and it just wasn’t worth it.” Still others told Stewart they were conflicted about all of it. Some of the folks Stewart interviewed worried they’d lose their job skills by not using them often at their current jobs. Others said they feel useless and could be doing more. The problem was how do you bring this up to the boss? And how do colleagues who may notice bring this up to the boss? No one wants to say anything, so nothing changes.

After reading this last night, I tried to think if I knew anyone like this in any jobs I’ve worked and I could only think of one guy. My colleagues and I never really knew what he did other than spend time in the washroom with a newspaper and bring his neatly packed lunch with a snack pack pudding. But no one really ever asked or said anything about it. He showed up on time, wore a suit, ate his snack pack, and left at 5pm.

I think a larger issue in a workplace is those people who create more work for others (i.e. drama). But that’s another article.

Now, people will no doubt say, “this is what happens when you allow employees to work from home!” But Stewart writes that this phenomenon has been happening long before remote work. And the cause? Poor management. That’s according to Alison Green, a columnist who offers workplace advice at her website Ask a Manager (I love this column; it’s wild what happens in some workplaces).

“You get managers who are either so disengaged that they truly are oblivious to the situation, they’re so disconnected from the work that they don’t have any sense of what the person is or isn’t doing or results they should be getting that they’re not getting,” Green says, “or you get a manager who does have a general sense of it that is so passive and nonconfrontational that they can’t bring themselves to do anything about it.”

And in some cases, this issues stems from the way workplaces and workflows are designed. A person may have been working on a project, but that project has since ended and there’s no more work, but no one brought it up. Or a company may always have had someone in a certain position and no one thought to change that over the years, even if it was apparent that particular job was no longer needed. Here’s what Joseph Fuller, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, had to say about it:

“There’s a checker to check checkers, and we don’t need that anymore, but there’s a position called ‘Check Checker,’ and we’ve always had one. It’s on the succession plan, it’s on the promotion path,” he says. “The process that person is in and the job they’re in is an artifact of the way the process was designed, the way the budget was set, the assumptions about how the process works as opposed to how it actually works.”

This is a function of the way some workplaces think. You know, the line “we’ve always done it that way,” which, of course, doesn’t keep working that way. But change can be tough for a lot of workplaces.

If anything, reading about these people’s experiences proves that people do want to contribute, keep up on their skills, learn new things, but they get stuck in jobs that have them doing nothing, for whatever reason. It sounds like Tom won’t be changing his ways anytime soon, though:

“I don’t think I’ve ever really occupied one minute of somebody’s headspace,” he says. “As long as you’re nice and polite and can manage to forward the right things to the right people.”

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Grants Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda

Case 23472 – Public Drop in Session (Thursday, 10am, Halifax forum, Maritime Hall) — West End Mall future growth node


No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

06:00: Warnow Master, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
06:30: Liberty of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,414 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York, on a four-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
08:30: GPO Grace, heavy lifter, moves from anchorage to IEL
11:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
15:30: CMA CGM Louga, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Montreal
16:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
17:30: Liberty of the Seas sails for New York
20:00: John J. Carrick, barge, arrives at McAsphalt Dock 
21:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
22:30: Warnow Master, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica

Cape Breton
06:30: Seven Seas Navigator, cruise ship with up to 550 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Corner Brook, on an 11-day cruise from Montreal to New York
08:00: SFL Albany, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from Arzew, Algeria
11:00: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, sails from Coal Pier (Sydney) for sea
11:00: Arctic Lift, barge, with Western Tugger, tug, arrive at Aulds Cove quarry from Charlottetown
14:00: Atlantic Pride, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
15:00: Ion M, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to EverWind
16:30: Seven Seas Navigator sails for Halifax


Tina Turner died Wednesday at the age of 83. Here’s one of my favourite Tina Turner songs: Nutbush City Limits. I wish I had seen her in concert!

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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. TWO THOUGHTS ABOUT WORK [1] Read A Right to be Lazy by Paul Lafargue, Karl Marx’s son-in-law. [2] “If work were such a great thing, the rich would keep it all to themselves”–Haitian proverb.