1. City Hall to review harassment policies & practices
The city is looking for an outside consultant to review its workplace harassment polices and practices.
A punctuation-error-ridden Request for Proposals (RFP) issued this morning explains that:
HRM seeks to determine the effectiveness of the organizations [sic] Human Resource policies and programs in attaining its goal of providing a safe, healthy, diverse, inclusive and harassment-free environment where all persons are treated with dignity and respect. To this end, HRM is initiating a comprehensive review of the its [sic] policies, programs and organizational practices that support a safe, healthy, diverse, inclusive and harassment-free environment. The review will include the mechanisms that support it, such as conflict resolution process and procedures, communications and messaging to employees, employees’/managers [sic] roles/accountability in maintaining a harassment, discrimination-free and respectful workplace, training to support the policy and program, as well as any information, technology, operational or structural changes that might be required.
The review comes in the wake of a blistering decision issued by the Human Rights Commission’s Board of Inquiry that detailed multiple instances of racism in the Halifax Transit garage, as well as ongoing complaints of sexist discrimination in the police and fire departments.
The contractor performing the review must have “extensive knowledge and experience with respect to human rights legislation, harassment and racial discrimination” and “knowledge of the diverse communities served by HRM including Black/African Nova Scotians, Racially Visible, Indigenous/Aboriginal People, Acadian/Francophone Community, Persons with Disabilities and LGBTQ+.” In an apparent desire for independence, the contractor must have had “no previous or on-going relationship with HRM, the CAO or any of his Directors in relation to any matter pertaining to workplace harassment and discrimination.,” which seems to disqualify most of the city’s larger law firms.
The RFP closes on August 10, and the winning contractor is to produce a draft report by March 31 and a final report by April 30, 2019.
2. N&L power bills soar due to Muskrat Falls
Either this story is not getting the national attention it deserves or I’m terribly out of the loop (or both), but power bills are soaring in Newfoundland & Labrador.
A 6.6 per cent rate hike went into effect July 1, with more increases coming in the spring.
The rate increases are hitting the city of St. John’s, reports the CBC:
“For our budget period of 2019 to 2021 we’ll go from $10.3 million to approximately $16.3 million,” [Mayor Danny] Breen said of the city’s annual power bill.
The most difficulty is experienced by residents, of course. (St. John’s Telegram columnist Pam Frampton wrote a four-part series detailing the effects of power bills on regular people.) Before the July 1 increase, residential rates were about 11 cents per kilowatt hour; by 2020, rates will be about 20 cents per kilowatt hour, and by 2023, 23.3 cents pkh. Even with the recent increase, Newfoundland Power argues that rates paid in St. John’s are still significantly lower than rates paid in Halifax. It’s hard to directly compare N&L with Nova Scotia because the two provinces price electricity differently, but Nova Scotia’s residential rates start at around 15 cents pkh.
Arguably, increases in rates earlier this decade led to the election of the McNeil government. And now in N&L, there is significant consumer protest, including a protest last month.
The cause of the increases? Muskrat Falls. The hydro project is the epitome of the failed megaproject, ballooning from a projected cost of $6.2 billion when it was approved in 2013 to the $12.7 billion today, and counting.
3. Bus attack
A police release from yesterday:
Police are continuing to investigate an incident from the weekend where a Halifax Transit bus was damaged by a projectile.
On July 14 at 1:16 p.m., Halifax Regional Police, HRM Fire & Emergency responded to the 0-50 block of Bedford Highway, Halifax, for a Halifax Transit bus damaged by a projectile. A 23 -year-old female passenger was injured and transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
On July 14 as a result of the investigation, officers obtained a warrant and conducted a search on a Vimy Avenue address. No one was home at the time of the search. Multiple firearms were located and seized from the address.
On July 17 shortly after 7 p.m. investigators arrested a 31-year-old Halifax man in a Vimy Avenue address. This was not the same man who turned himself in to police on July 15 and was released without charges. The man is facing the following charges:
• 1 count of using explosives causing property damage section 81(1)(1)(c) of the Criminal Code
• 1 count of arson causing property damage contrary to section 434 of the Criminal Code
• 1 count of property damage contrary to section 430(4) of the Criminal Code
1 count of assault causing bodily harm contrary to 267(b) of the Criminal Code
• 4 counts of unauthorized possession of a firearm contrary to section 81(1) of the Criminal Code
• 4 counts of unsafe storage of a firearm contrary to 86(1) of the Criminal Code
The man was released on conditions and is to appear in Halifax Court on August 30, 2018 to face the charges.
4. Chase the Ace
“Like I’m going there,” writes Mary Campbell:
If only mainstream media gave half the attention to child poverty it does to familial lottery prize conflicts.
This is the sloooow summer news cycle, and a Friday besides. I actually woke up earlier than usual this morning and scoured all the usual government and local media websites, but really couldn’t get excited enough to write about: a new bus for Louisbourg, a soon-to-be 110-year-old woman (don’t jinx it CTV!), the perpetual feel-good Hope Blooms story, the odd idea that Nova Scotia has something to offer other provinces in terms of rural transportation, transyoga, another tenuous Nova Scotia connection to a vaguely topical international story, Pride stuff, Rodney MacDonald doing something, the cops busting a guy for smoking a cigar in a car with a kid in it, or anything much else either.
I’m just not feeling it, ya know?
I’ve been spending much of this week slogging through property records for a story that may or may not amount to much. I mean, I think it’s an important story, but I’m not sure you readers will care at all. I guess, as I advise young writers, it’s all in the telling; maybe it needs a sex scene, but that’s really a stretch. (As he paid his property tax bill, the alluring clerk, her blouse unbuttoned to just beyond the point of propriety, looked him in the eye and said, “thank you… Next!”) I dunno, we’ll see.
So sometimes there’s not much in the news, and what news there is doesn’t always need my commentary. I’m sure it’ll turn around.
Still and all, we have to pay the bills, and that time when there’s not much news and everyone goes off on vacation and ignores the news in any event is exactly the time when the coffers start running a little low. There’s no crisis or anything (if there were, I’d tell you), but I see the income stream for next week is lower than I’d like, and yet we still have to pay our regular bills. And I don’t know, but I suspect that Mary Campbell’s Cape Breton Spectator is likewise seeing that mid-summer slump in revenue.
Which is to say, this would be an excellent time to buy a joint subscription to the Examiner and Spectator. Just click on the photo below, and thanks!
No public meetings.
No public events.
In the harbour
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
8am: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
10am: YM Modesty, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
5pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
10pm: YM Modesty, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
No cruise ships this weekend.
Back to slogging through property records.
Let’s face it: the people of Newfoundland and Labrador were sold a pig in a poke; another failed megaproject, indeed. In the course of the whole boondoggle, NSPI will be able to continue its smug self-adulation for providing ‘cheap’ green energy to its ratepayers. I guess one province’s disaster is another’s windfall (or waterfall, I guess!). Interesting times, folks.
The dog days of summer don’t last long, Tim. Newshounds should just relax, roll over and let someone scratch their bellies. Alternatively, Tim Jacques’ comment could be a story. What’s going on there, anyway?
Summer is a slow news time, but how about using it to expand the concept of news? Perhaps status updates on issues of interest, pieces that would inform and educate, and would, no doubt, produce controversy – but isn’t controversy inherent in value and interest? You could determine the scope and depth; am not suggesting theses, more a mix of fact and editorial.
High speed internet access is an essential service today, yet many rural areas struggle with inadequate to infuriating and commercially-detrimental. A few suggestions that would utilize your journo knowledge and contacts:
– Update, status and people responsible for implementation of March 15th announcement of 120M for rural high-speed internet;
– N.S. sex-ed curriculum – province-wide policy? content? ages-grades? opt-out provision?
– Political parties – basic ideologies v. recent policies, practice + connection with provincial voting turnout?
– Bias in individual health care – in access, treatment, even communication? First Nation, marginalized, incarcerated v. urban access
Where I live in NB there is no way that guy would have been released without a bail hearing before a judge.