News
Views
Government
On campus
Noticed
In the harbour
Footnotes


News

1. Byline strike?

In yesterday’s Morning File, I cited reader Chris Parson’s Facebook post questioning the Halifax Typographical Union’s lukewarm support for the 13 pressmen the Chronicle Herald locked out Monday. “Parsons goes on to point out that while the reporters and other newsroom employees have much to fear from an unsanctioned job action, there’s nothing preventing them from having a symbolic byline strike in solidarity with the pressmen,” I wrote.

Today, most of the articles in Chronicle Herald have no byline.

2. James Dorsey

James Dorsey, the independent arbitrator who was fired for being independent, has issued an order placing 4,000 health care clerical workers under the control of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, which is exactly opposite of what the McNeil government was trying to achieve. Says the CBC:

The 4,000 new union members for NSGEU would mean millions of dollars more in dues to the province’s largest public sector union.

“There’s no way that Mr. Dorsey would have issued an order today if he felt he didn’t have the power to do so,” said NSGEU president Joan Jessome.

[…]

On Friday, Dorsey said NSGEU could represent 6,500 health care workers. He then said they could also represent 4,000 clerical workers if they formed a new independent local.

[…]

The NSGEU rushed through the changes at an emergency meeting Tuesday night.

Dorsey can’t officially be fired until today’s cabinet meeting, so his order comes while he’s technically still in the employ of the province. He’s hiking in the British Columbian mountains, and so unavailable for comment, although there are reports of unrestrained laughter echoing through the canyons. This is going to be one hell of a court case.

3. Drug drones

The new prison in Pictou County is looking to acquire drone detectors to guard against “drug drones,” which are supposedly being used to ferry drugs from the outside world into prison, albeit the Canadian Press article doesn’t detail a single incident of such technology ever being used successfully, anywhere. My quick google search this morning couldn’t find a successful use of drones for prison drug delivery, either, although a couple of drones have crashed near prisons.

Put this in the “we can afford what we want to afford” category: we’ve got untold millions of dollars for law and order gadgetry and the latest techno-intrusion tools of the surveillance state. Paying people a decent salary? Forget about it.

4. The $48 NSF Fee Library

The headline on the Metro article frightened me: “Halifax councillor proposes finding a new name for libraries.” Oh noes! Surely we would not consider selling corporate naming rights to the intellectual and social heart of the municipality?

Thankfully, no. But councillor Tim Outhit’s suggestion isn’t much better:

“If it’s going to be a community hub, if it’s going to be a technology hub, if it’s going to be a centre of gathering…I think it’s time we start changing the way we think and promote and even call these facilities,” he said.

Yea, sure, let’s ditch the name of the single institution that connects varied human cultures over two millennia in order to sound hip. You just don’t do it. No.


Views

1. Killicks

Photo: Stephen Archbald

Stephen Archibald gives us a lesson in killicks, “one of my favourite things!

2. Sex

Gus Reed has an update to his post about accessibility issues at the Old Triangle:

A loyal reader corrects me on the details of accessibility at The Old Triangle:

Re. Old Triangle. I haven’t checked their entrance lately, but I can tell you that they do have an accessible washroom inside. I can’t remember the layout now; it was about two years I was there celebrating a friend’s birthday. It may be on their main floor, which actually may be up several steps. The place is a maze inside. I was going to the washroom and asked the server where it was. She said downstairs. I said I don’t do stairs and had my cane with me. She returned with a key for an accessible washroom very close to our table. I asked her why the washroom was not well marked and why it was kept locked so that you had to (a) know it was there and (b) know to ask for a key. She said they had stopped keeping it open because couples were using it for sex acts, as it is roomy and out-of-sight. I did indeed find the washroom large, as it should be. I asked her to keep it open and they did, at least while I was there. They probably locked it again as soon as my party left.

How many Old Triangle patrons does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

None. Old Triangle patrons screw in the washroom.

Rimshot!


Government

City

Crosswalk safety committee (10am, City Hall)—the committee will look at the proposed 2015-2016 Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. Unfortunately, I can’t easily quote from it because it was posted on the city’s website as an unsearchable PDF, which means it is also not readable by software used by the visually impaired. My observation is that still, in 2015, over half the items posted on the city’s site are still not accessible.

Community Design Advisory Committee (11:30am, City Hall)—the committee will look at the list of suggested “stakeholders” (dog, I hate that word) that will be asked to comment on the Centre Plan. Besides employing useless bureaucratic babble from the 1990s, when you’ve got 71 different “stakeholders” you’re pretty much in nonsensical territory anyway.

Transportation Standing Committee (1pm, City Hall)—the committee will look at a report into a “Pilot Project Pedestrian Vehicle Shared Street Concept [for] Argyle Street.” The report was prepared by the Planning & Design Centre, so it has lots of pictures of people using sticky notes (honest), throws “vibrant” out at every opportunity, and includes an artist’s conception of the new pedestrian-friendly street on which only white people are found. (Yes, that’s a stylized drawing, but our stylizations matter.) According to the report, people started using sticky notes in relation to this plan as far back as 2012. Still and all, this should’ve been done a decade ago, so better late than never, I guess. But it feels like we’re creating a replica of St. John’s George Street, and everything that implies.

Province

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Today

Addiction, eco-crisis and global capitalism (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building)—Bruce Alexander, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University, is the author of The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit (2008).

Biomedical Visions (Thursday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery)—the second day of lectures in the series. Thursday’s lectures are “Modern Research Imaging Techniques” with William Baldridge and “Dalhousie Anatomical Laboratories” with Robert Sandeski.

Friday

Assisted reproductive technology policy (Friday, 12:10pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building)—Dave Snow will speak.

The phosphinoboration reaction (Friday, 1:30pm,Chemistry Room 226)—Steve Westcott, from Mount Allison University, will talk about a word so long that it won’t even fit on the Scrabble board.

Manly impression (Friday, 3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, Room 1170)—Cynthia Neville will talk about “Making a manly impression: the image of kingship on Sottish royal seals of the high Middle Ages.”


Noticed

Philip Slayton

Philip Slayton is a retired lawyer who went on to write two best-selling books, Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex and Madness in Canada’s Legal Profession, published in 2008, and Mighty Judgment: How the Supreme Court of Canada Runs Your Life, published in 2012. He’s also president of PEN Canada.

With a biography like that, you can understand how honoured I’ve been with the support he’s given me. Slayton wrote a column about the Halifax Examiner for the Investment Executive Newsletter, and has devoted a chapter in his soon-to-be-published (in May) book about Canadian mayors to my work on the Peter Kelly file.

So I am of course happy to plug his latest book, a novel, Bay Street, about a fictional Toronto law firm. Here’s a long Globe & Mail profile of the novel, but you can see Slayton himself promoting the book, in this video. I’ll buy the book this morning; if anyone wants, we can discuss it over drinks next week.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8am Thursday. Map: marinetraffic.com

Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, St. John’s to Halterm


Footnotes

Salt. Lots of salt.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. The CBC quote you cited today repeated the government’s and right-wing commenters’ notion that the battle for who represents healthcare workers is only about the dues. Seldom is mentioned the union’s legal responsibility to represent these members in accordance with the collective agreement and the trade union legislation in bargaining and grievance representation. Since just one grievance arbitration case can cost the union $20,000 or more, ten such cases would cost more than the annual revenue from dues. And the Union also represents members with respect to occupational health and safety, pensions, long-term disability, etc. And then there’s strike pay — which often pays out in a week or two what the member paid in annual dues — in the rare instances where a collective agreement is not reached.

    As well, the media often exaggerates (they certainly never calculate it) the so-called “dues haul to keep Joan Jessome in her palace”. Considering that the NSGEU dues are 1.25% of gross regular earnings (not levied on overtime, etc.) and the average fulltime clerical healthworker probably makes about $30-40,000, the total dues from the 4,000 clerical bargaining unit (which includes a significant number of part-timers) likely runs to between $1.5 and $2 million. (hardly ‘millions’).

  2. Factoid: NSGEU dues are 1.25% of salary. 4,000 new clerical/admin members, assuming salaries in the 30k to 40k range, would net the union around 1.75 million. While it’s technically millions, it’s not MILLIONS as implied by most of the coverage. Not saying it’s right or wrong, just pointing out that the emphasis might be misguided. .

    As a side note, I also pay $1,100 a year to maintain my accounting designation, so let’s not start talking about mandatory memberships – it’s not reserved for unions.

  3. Keys for public washrooms: Unfortunately a necessary reality. And I won’t add “in this day and age” because washrooms, restrooms, whatever, have always been misused. I’d prefer the inconvenience of asking for a key than stumbling upon some one’s drug paraphernalia or consenting adults in a private act.

    1. I had once heard a story that Victorian-era public washrooms were for men only as a deliberate ruse to keep women out of the public sphere. I did a google search and found this article which indicates it’s more complex than that.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-jackson/selfish-inequality-the-lo_b_6202108.html

      Interestingly enough, the Victorians had a problem with sexual encounters in washrooms as well. It seems to be a problem that’s dogged us as long as we’ve had orifices in need of attention.

  4. Highlights of the pedestrian safety report:
    1. 13 jurisdictions were used for comparison purposes. Only statement is that they had populations between 57,000 and 2.5 million. No other information.
    2. Apparently, we are doing really well in comparison to said jurisdictions about which we know nothing.
    3. Data clearly shows most incidents were at lights and involved drivers turning either right or left during evening rush hour on clear days.
    4. Action plan is to give pedestrians more time to cross (because we’re getting old).
    5. And this is my favourite – there are no engineering issues so it’s obviously education that is lacking.

    Oh, and apparently we have way more pedestrians in Halifax than we used to. That’s odd for a city that has had a stable population for a long time – aren’t we all pedestrians? Or do drivers have some sort of magic hover button?

    I’m sorry – my sarcasm is getting the better of me now…

    1. Something I just noticed – the reason they did the report is to counteract the “perception” that Halifax streets are unsafe for pedestrians. Not the reality. The perception. I can’t even…

  5. The same reason is used at the Halifax Ferry Terminal for the washroom/baby changing room. You need to ask the guard for a key.

  6. Tim, thanks a whole load for the plug. It’s a tight race, and I need every vote I can get! P.S., I also hate – very much – the word “stakeholder.”

    1. I’m tying to decide whether to get the e-book immediately or wait the three days or whatever for the hardcopy. I don’t have an e-reader, so it would have to be on the laptop. Thoughts?

      1. It’s amusing to hear councillors talking about dropping the name library from libraries. If they had been paying attention, they would recognise that the services that Councillor Outhit describes are what libraries do, and have been doing for a long time. I think the success of the new central library indicates that the general public gets what libraries do, if the councillors do not.

  7. I love killicks too. As I understand it, these were the anchors that the Vikings used 1200 years ago, and the name is the original Norse word. I have a few photos of killicks taken in Little Anse and Petit de Grat, Isle Madame, back in the ’70s and ’80s and I think there’s a house in Little Anse that has a few of them as decorative elements in the yard. In French they’re called “picasses,” and the cultural centre in Petit de Grat is called “La Picasse.” A small but fascinating part of our history.

    1. In the Acadian French I grew up speaking (in south-eastern NB), “picasse” usually denotes a woman, and means that she has a temper.

      I see that the Dictionnaire du français acadien (Yves Cormier) lists the first definition for “picasse” as a hand-made anchor (so the equivalent of killick), and the second definition as “personne laide ou malpropre – (par ext) personne désagréable, déplaisante”

      So a disagreeable and unpleasant person is the definition of “picasse” that held in my more inland part of Acadie, I guess.