As the Examiner has grown over the past two years, it has shifted from a mostly one-person operation to an entire team of people working together.

That has been an extremely rewarding experience. I first realized how extraordinary that team work is in the immediate aftermath of the mass murders of April 2020. The Halifax Examiner dove into the reporting, and we were messaging each other on Slack, passing along tips and dividing up chores. I’ve never had such a collaborative reporting experience — there were articles with as many as 10 coauthors.

Now, the Examiner is far beyond me, and that’s a good thing. The other writers bring unique perspectives and talents that complement each other. The Examiner’s coverage is as broad and hopefully deeper than that from newsrooms that are many times our size.

I also am increasingly realizing my own limitations. I can’t do it all, and even if I could, I’m good at some things, not so good at other things, and down right terrible at a few things. So I’ve been extremely fortunate to have Iris the Amazing on board as administrator and office manager; she quite literally has kept this operation going, and has the patience of a saint dealing with a boss who can be absent and absent-minded. And for the past few months, Suzanne Rent has been providing organizational stewardship as well, really stepping up as an editor and a kind of assistant publisher. I don’t know what I would do without either Iris or Suzanne. I appreciate them both more than I can articulate.

My hope is that in the coming year the Examiner can grow into the next stage of stability, where I can increasingly step away from the day-to-day and more fully follow my reporting and investigative instincts. My reporting focus for the past 20 months has been on this damn pandemic, and boy am I tired of that, but with luck, by January or so that won’t need the daily attention I’ve been giving it and I can move onto other reporting projects.

Anyway, that’s where things stand with the Examiner, and with me. All this growth — both business and personal — has come thanks to subscribers. None of our reporting would have happened without reader support, and our future reporting is also dependent on your support.

So, if you are able, please subscribe. Click here to subscribe. Your support is valuable, and valued.

Thanks so much.


News

1. “Real jobs”

Nova Scotia premier-designate Tim Houston speaks at a COVID-19 briefing in Halifax on Monday. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Yesterday at Province House, “Premier Tim Houston was challenged about why the province refuses to look at raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

NDP leader Gary Burrill said there are 40,000 Nova Scotians earning minimum wage who are struggling to make ends meet who do not understand why the government isn’t doing anything to help them.

Houston responded by talking about the need to provide more training opportunities for people so they could apply for better-paying jobs in many areas of the economy experiencing acute labour shortages.

“What I’m focused on is the economy of this province and making sure everyone has an opportunity and sees themselves as being able to thrive right here in Nova Scotia,” replied Houston. “And it’s not driven by the minimum wage. I don’t know many Nova Scotians that grow up thinking, ‘boy, I hope I make minimum wage when I grow up.’ That’s not the way people think. They want real jobs.”

You can watch Houston’s full statement here:

In case you want to hear the Houston quote directly about minimum wage workers. https://t.co/6O5unHDdvR pic.twitter.com/sg8RWjq2xN

— Katy Jean (@katynotie) November 4, 2021

Afterwards, Houston walked the comment back a bit: “Obviously, everyone who gets up and goes to work has a real job. In the heat of the moment, I used the wrong word. What I meant was a better job, a career. I apologize for that.”

Still, even the walk-back is problematic. Houston is illustrating a worldview such that there are “careers” of relatively high-paying jobs and then there are “jobs” that aren’t as important, and therefore not deserving of decent remuneration.

But if the pandemic has  taught us anything, it’s that there’s an entire army of lowly paid “essential workers” who get the necessary work of society done even at risk of death — grocery store workers, continuing care assistants and other health care workers, cleaners, etc.

It’s not just those frontline workers, tho. Could our society operate without janitors, truck drivers, plow operators, and so forth? Tell me how Nova Scotia’s billion-dollar fishery works without the people staffing the fish plants, who are typically paid minimum wage. The billion-dollar tourism industry is largely dependent on lowly paid servers and hotel cleaners. Heck, the people working the counter at Tim Hortons are likely responsible for a large chunk of the productivity in the rest of the workforce.

The most insulting part of Houston’s walk-back was that these lowly paid jobs are not careers. Many people do these jobs their entire lives; the jobs are in fact careers.

But more than that, I know plenty of minimum wage workers who go to the job every day with a sense of purpose and who take pride in their work. They keep the office buildings clean, take out the trash, help the kids cross the street safely, serve the meals, and they know their work is important. These workers have self-respect and dignity.

But by keeping their pay at below poverty levels, we as a society are not valuing or dignifying the work in return.

No one should go to work every day, providing valuable service to the community, and live in poverty.

(Copy link for this item)


From a subscriber: Calum Johnston, Boy Genius

Calum Johnston, from Twitter.

I was a founding member of The Halifax Examiner. Tim has always done his best to cover issues of concern to Nova Scotians and bring attention to concerns that should get a higher profile in the public eye. The Examiner continues to inform and educate and could use some help! I would encourage anyone who can support and subscribe to The Halifax Examiner to do so. It could be the best money you spend.


2. COVID

There were 50 new cases of COVID-19 announced in Nova Scotia yesterday, the largest single day count since Oct. 1, when 77 cases were announced.

The increase in cases comes just as the recent outbreak in the Halifax area appears to be subsiding; there were just eight cases in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone yesterday. The new outbreaks are occurring in the Northern (20 cases, all in the Amherst area) and Western (also 20 cases, mostly in the Annapolis Valley) zones. I hope to have more specifics about those outbreaks later today.

Premier Tim Houston and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang have scheduled a COVID briefing for noon today. I’ll be live-tweeting it on my Twitter account, and it will be livestreamed here.

Last night, Public Health issued potential exposure notices for the Holiday Inn in Burnside and the Super 8 Motel in Amherst. I’ve added them to the map; you can zoom in and click on the icons to get details about each site.

(Copy link for this item)


From a subscriber: Jodi DeLong

Jodi DeLong in de lavender. @bloomingwriter

I have said many times—I don’t always agree with Tim Bousquet’s take on things but I always trust his research skills and his ethics. The past several years have made me dismiss the majority of mainstream media from my news reading, because it’s too biased, or too banal, or otherwise not helpful. Even when I disagree with Tim and his team of trusted journalists, I read (most of the stories, as time permits) and invariably learn something. The Halifax Examiner is absolutely worth supporting, as are similar small scale, web-based or even print media—they are important voices at a time when truthful, informative reporting is at a premium.


3. Northern Pulp’s wastewater

A pumper truck cleaning up brown wastewater from a break in the Northern Pulp mill effluent pipeline in 2018 during a mill shutdown. Photo: Joan Baxter

“Northern Pulp is using $450,000 dollars to sue Nova Scotians for what could be hundreds of millions of dollars, and the money for the litigation comes from the interim financing its creditor protection in the British Columbia Supreme Court affords it,” writes Joan Baxter:

But the Paper Excellence company doesn’t seem interested in spending any money to put in a treatment facility beside its hibernating pulp mill on Abercrombie Point to handle the wastewater on the site.

Instead, Northern Pulp is shipping the wastewater to the Central Colchester Wastewater Treatment Facility in Lower Truro.

And yet, right beside the moribund mill, the Canso Chemicals plant that was mothballed in the 1990s, has put up a treatment facility for the surface runoff from its site.

Baxter has been following the Northern Pulp saga for many years; she even wrote the book about the mill. And that research has led her to the Canso Chemicals mystery.

Click here to read “Why isn’t Northern Pulp using the wastewater treatment plant next door at Canso Chemicals? Is mercury an issue?”

(Copy link for this item)


Government

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Industrial Colonialism and the Remaking of the Mi’kmaq Economy (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain Building and online) — Colin Osmond from Mount Saint Vincent University will talk.


In the harbour

Halifax
05:00: X-press Irazu, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
05:30: Morning Claire, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
05:30: Maersk Palermo, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
06:00: ZIM Shekou, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
06:15: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from anchorage to Pier 41
06:45: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
09:00: CSS Acadia, arrives at Queens wharf from sea
15:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
15:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
16:00: Gotland, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for Bilboa, Spain
16:30: ZIM Shekou sails for New York
17:00: Oceanex Sanderling sails for St. John’s
17:30: Nolhanava sails for Saint-Pierre
20:30: Morning Claire moves to Pier 31

Cape Breton
15:00: NS Clipper, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from Ras Lanuf, Libya


Footnotes

I’ve gotta get ready and run to the COVID briefing.


Subscribe to the Halifax Examiner

We have many other subscription options available, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

Tim Bousquet

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

Join the Conversation

10 Comments

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. I was willing to give Mr. Houston a chance. He has now blown that chance with just one comment. I may be unemployed now, but I was a minimum wage worker and that was my “real job.” Perhaps, as I said on a mainstream article, Tim Houston should spend a day as a minimum wage worker and see just how hard the people working those jobs work for that little bit of money. Further, maybe he should try living for just a week on what a minimum wage worker lives on. I think either of these suggestions would give him a whole new perspective. The article here is terrific, but personal experience might open his eyes just the tiniest bit to what is reality for so many of his constituents.

  2. Great to see Gary Burrill making the argument for a higher minimum wage. Your comment that minimum wage jobs are vital and dignified is well put Tim. Decent pay for essential work is long past due and decent pay for all the kinds of work you outlined that helps make the NS economy work is also long past due.

  3. I simply do not understand why government pushes back against a better minimum wage. It costs the government nothing and the cries of employers saying they can’t afford it is not supported by facts. However there are a lot of studies which show paying higher wages is actually good, maybe even great for business. Lots of great examples of successful businesses paying above minimum wage.

  4. Tim Houston obviously believes that everyone aspires to be an elitist like himself. Government is supposedly there to represent all the people – rich, poor, middle class.

    Not to hard to read this freudian slip as a window into TIm Houston’s worldview. And we thought Stephen MacNeil was an arrogant bastard.

    1. I didn’t vote for him but I understand Houston’s a Chartered Accountant by profession. This represents years of hard study and the smarts to pass a really tough CA exam. Is being a capable professional considered elitist now?

      He apologized and said he didn’t mean that low income jobs weren’t real jobs (although that’s exactly what he said) he meant that most people aspire to better paying jobs. It might just be damage control but I’m inclined to believe him.

      I’d rather have a Premier who still seems vaguely human and can admit a mistake and apologize for it than Stephen McNeil who apparently never made one.

  5. How much of the $$$ that low and medium wage earners earn is captured by landlords and other rent-seekers? Just paying people more isn’t a solution if the rentier class can just extract it from them.

    1. This is an argument in favour of rent control and provision of services such as cheap and reliable transit, not an argument against paying people more.