News

1. Hold on to your ballots

Premier Stephen McNeil speaks to reporters, Thursday January 9, 2020. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Tax cuts for corporations, a tweet about the $1 increase in the minimum wage, and a photo-op with Education Minister and Zach Churchill and some kids during an announcement of pre-primary programs for every elementary school in Nova Scotia. Stephen Kimber looks at all the hints that Premier Stephen McNeil is getting ready to call an election by the end of the year.

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2. Rent dodger sentenced to two years

Nadav Joseph Ever-Har was sentenced to two years in jail for fraud, uttering forged documents, and theft under $5,000. Photo: Facebook

Jack Julian at CBC reports on a serial rent dodger who was sentenced to two years in prison for a number of frauds, including scamming a Cole Harbour landlord out of $12,000 in rent.

Nadav Joseph Even-Har  pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud, two counts of uttering forged documents and two counts of theft under $5,000. He was sentenced on Friday.

Jason Selby, one of the landlords Even-Har defrauded, tells Julian he doesn’t expect to get any of the $12,000 he’s owed in rent. In his victim impact statement, Selby says he couldn’t afford to rent his own apartment and stayed with friends or slept on the floor of the gift shop he owns and operates in Cole Harbour. Selby says he hopes Even-Har changes his ways, as he said he would.

And that his time behind bars will provide an opportunity for him to … do some deep reflection within and hopefully get the help that he needs so that he can be a contributing member of society and not just someone that harms others.

3. Church bell returning to Africville

Africville’s Seaview Baptist Church. The bell from the church will be returned to the Africville Museum this summer. Photo: HRM Archives

The bell that was once inside the Seaview Baptist Church in Africville will be returned to the community this summer, reports Alexander Quon and Alexa MacLean at Global.

There were dedication ceremonies at the Africville Museum yesterday as part of Heritage Day. An announcement was made that the bell would be returned. The bell survived after the church was demolished in the middle of the night during the razing of the community in the 1960s. A church in Beechville had the bell for the last 50 years.

Former residents of Africville, including Irvine Carvery and Linda Mantley, were at yesterday’s dedication. Juanita Peters, executive director of the Africville Museum says there are still is a “lesson for everybody.”

We get people from all over the world… who come to Africville, [including] city planners to study that whole situation and they use Africville as a template for what not to do.

4. Premier optimistic the Cat is coming back

The Alakai, docked at Yarmouth. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Premier Stephen McNeil was speaking at the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday and told the crowd he was “optimistic” the ferry service between Nova Scotia and the U.S. would be ready to go this summer, reports Tina Comeau with the Tri-County Vanguard.

I am committed to it; we are committed to it, the government, and we’re hoping in the not too distant future we’ll be able to communicate what the season will look like in front of us.

I would be optimistic about the upcoming season for all kinds of reasons,” he said. “I’m certainly much more optimistic today about this service than I would have been last year at this time.

McNeil was also asked if there were plans to do an economic impact study on the ferry service. He says consistency is needed in the service before that study can be done.

We believe when we strengthen that tie and we know that people know it’s there for the long haul, then you’ll see the benefit and then you can look at the economic analysis. That will be a truer analysis.

The ferry didn’t sail at all last season. Bay Ferries hasn’t posted the 2020 schedule yet.

5. More women needed in politics (evergreen headline)

Jeremy Keefe at Global reports on the lack of women in politics. There are currently only two women on HRM Council and only one-third of the MLAs elected in the 2017 provincial election were women (two MLAs, Lenore Zann and Tammy Martin, both stepped down).

Lisa Blackburn. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Keefe talks with Lisa Blackburn, deputy mayor and councillor for district 14 and Pam Mood, mayor of Yarmouth. Blackburn says one of the cons women face when deciding to run are the comments on their appearance.

Comments about what they wear, how they do their hair, whether they wear makeup, those are all part of the discussion. It shouldn’t be, but for women it is.

Mood says her “weight is always brought into question.”

They say you have to have thick skin to become a politician and I tell people if I lose 50 pounds there’s going to be trouble because the thin skin’s going to show up.

[The criticism] is so ugly it causes young women to come to me and say ‘I would love to get involved but I just can’t put my family through that.

Claudia Chender, MLA for Dartmouth South and NDP House leader.

Claudia Chender, MLA for Dartmouth South, says the system needs to be changed so everyone can take part.

Parties need to get really serious about their recruitment and candidate search and ensure that they are really looking at the full spectrum of candidates.

Sarah B. MacDonald started an interesting discussion on Twitter about this, asking why women in their 20s and 30s don’t consider running for office. The replies included concerns about work-life balance, finding the money for a campaign, criticisms about their appearance and sexual/relationship history, childcare and the stress the work could bring to the family, not feeling qualified to do the job, and worries about what they post on social media could come back to haunt them. I’d say all of these concerns are expressed by women of any age. Some of them, like childcare and work-life balance, apply to any career choice women make. Also, I don’t think men consider these factors when deciding to run for office because men, particularly white men, are considered the default candidates.

There are two by-elections on Mar. 10 in Cape Breton Centre and Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River. In Cape Breton Centre, one of the three candidates is a woman. In Truro, one women is running, while three men are running. Both of the females candidates are running for the NDP.


Views

1. The day Mary Myke got her freedom back

One year ago today, Mary Myke confronted the man who abused her 46 years ago. Photo: Suzanne Rent

On Monday, Feb. 18, 2019 Mary Myke walked into a conference room at a hotel ready to confront the man she says abused her when she was a teenager. Myke, now 62, had officially arranged the meeting with the man the week before but the plan was in the works long before that.

Myke had heard and read other women’s stories coming out of the Me Too movement. She had also taken part in in restorative justice circles as part of volunteer work, so those stories inspired her, too. She says she couldn’t go another weekend without dealing with telling her story. This was her point of no return.

After 46 years, I had been always pushed it down, even though it was with me every day. With all this starting to come out, I started to feel agitated and it’s like it wouldn’t stay down where I had it anymore. It was starting to affect me again in another way in terms of the agitation and thinking of it even more, every day. It hit me: I had to do something about this.

The abuse started when they lived in the same town. She was 16 and he was in his late 30s. He communicated to Myke through a friend of his. At one point, she thought she was pregnant. She was afraid of her father. She says she had feelings of shame and fear. She wasn’t pregnant. At 16, she told herself she’d never have children. The abuse ended when she graduated high school.

It never was a choice. At 16, you’ve never been anywhere, done anything with a male in any way. It’s not a choice. That was one of the things I got to learn. There wasn’t a decision made. It so damaged my whole view of sexual relationships. He just used me physically. It always happened in a dingy office, on the dirty floor.

When you’re groomed and you’re so young you don’t have the frame of reference and you don’t even understand it all. There’s a feeling, but it’s like it’s happening to somebody else. You lose yourself.

She knew he was still alive because she had looked up his number in the phone book and found his Facebook profile. Myke decided to create a plan on how to confront him face-to-face. She first talked with her psychologist about her plan, because meeting an abuser face-to-face is not safe for all survivors. She had to be safe. She thought she could send a letter, but she knew she wanted to confront him in person. She contacted law offices asking if she could use a space there and have one of their staff serve as a witness. She told them why. But since she wasn’t laying charges, they said no. She looked at other public spaces where she could book a conference room, but couldn’t find any. She reached out to a hotel that had a conference room and told her story to the manager there. They gave her a conference room to use for free. She booked it for the Monday and said she’d call him on the weekend.

I was really nervous. I had his phone number in front of me. I had written out different things I was going to say in the call. I didn’t want to give it away in the call. I wanted to say it in front of him.

She called his house and his wife answered. She asked to speak with him. She was told he was out and he’d back later that day. Myke hung up.

It was an implosion, a personal implosion. I came downstairs and stood here. My husband was at the table and I looked at him and started crying.

She called back, he answered, and she told him who she was.

He remembered me. He said, ‘Oh, yes, Mary Myke.’ I am thinking he’s not sounding at all concerned that after 46 years I was in touch with him.

They talked small talk and then she asked, “Do you remember anything else?” He said, “No. Should I?”

I said, “Yes, you should. Something that went on between you and me. And I want to meet you to talk about it.”

He said, “Oh, sure I can meet you there.”

She hung up.

I had written out and written down so many conversations I was going to have with him, what I was going to say. I was going to tell him right up front. I was going to tell him to not talk because this was my truth.

A few months before the meeting, Myke saw a ring at a local jewelry store. Its amber stone amber sits high on the setting that is attached to an infinity band. It was different than most of the jewelry she owns.

I thought, ‘That’s my freedom ring.’ That’s the thought that came to my mind.

She bought it, left it in the box, and put it away.

I said I am not opening it or putting it on until I do this.

On that Monday of the meeting, Myke took the ring with her.

There was no going back. There was no question I wasn’t following through with this.

She got to the hotel and her husband stayed in the car. She went to the conference room and the phone rang. Her abuser had arrived.

I felt incredibly calm. He walked into the room and looked exactly the same as he did 46 years ago. Older, but the same.

He greeted her and sat on the other side of the table. She says he tried to have a normal conversation.

I said the reason I called you here was to talk about what went on 46 years ago.

He was clearly shocked to hear everything I told him and how it had impacted my life in a very permanent way. All he had robbed me of. I asked him, as planned, please don’t interrupt me. This is about me, not you. I was very calm, it was the weirdest thing.”

Myke talked for 20 minutes.

I said you’re a predator. You were a predator then and once a predator, always a predator. I’m sure there are other girls you did this, too, but I want you to hear about me.

He said, ‘Oh, my god, I have no memory of it. But I am not denying it happened.’ He couldn’t connect it with who he knows himself to be now and for the last 46 years. He couldn’t connect that person to this man who had done what he did to me. I gave him graphic details from the first day, all the things he did, all the things he said.

She says he apologized and asked if there was anything he could do.

He was distraught himself. He kept repeating, ‘What can I do? What can I do for you?’ And there was nothing. I said there was nothing he could do, that I was here today for what I needed to do for me.

He said, ‘Well, what am I going to tell my family?’ I said well you can tell them the truth. That’s up to you. I don’t care. I didn’t feel sorry for him. I felt nothing.

Myke says she had nothing left to say. He left the room. Later, her husband said no one came out the front door of the hotel.

When he walked out the door, it’s like the opposite of when you’re with someone who passes away. You feel an energy or a spirit or something that leaves the room. It’s almost this tangible something that left the room. When he left the room that day, I felt something come into me. It was very spiritual moment I felt. The Mary Myke before the abuse came back.

Myke stayed in the room for a while. She says she felt calm. She got up and went to the car where her husband was waiting. She put on the ring.

Because I was free.

She had an appointment to see her psychologist the next morning. She went to a coffee shop near her office and took notes on what she wanted to share. And the next thing she knew, she was coming to at a hospital. Her husband was talking with a neurologist. She asked what happened. When she walked into the psychologist’s office, she told Myke she looked grey. But Myke sat down and told her about the meeting the day before. Then, after her psychologist handed her a clipboard, Myke started sobbing hysterically. The psychologist got in touch with her husband. She was diagnosed with temporary global amnesia brought on by the emotional and mental stress. She had an emotional break that left her with no memory of that session with the psychologist or going to the emergency room.

Over the past year, Myke says she’s had ups and downs. She spent time by herself, weekends away, dinners alone. For a time, she gave up all of her volunteer work. When she went back to serving on one board, she told her story. She says other women shared theirs, too.

You dropped this incredible burden that you carried all your life. You can’t even get your head around that it’s not even there anymore. You process it for a long time. It’s a feeling like I have to learn who I am, all over again. I don’t know who Mary Myke is without this. It’s been part of my fabric. How do I live without it? Who am I without it?

There are crucial aspects Myke says never left. She’s had a successful work life. She’s been married for 25 years, to a man who just found out about the abuse months before that February meeting. He always supported her and her decision to confront her abuser.

He thought I was very brave, and strong and all the things I wanted to think about myself.”

Myke wants to tell other survivors the abuse was never their fault. She says not everyone can confront their abuser like she did. For many, it’s not safe to do so. For others, their abusers may not be alive. She wants other survivors to know the abuse was never their fault and they can also free themselves of the burden. Maybe they can write a letter and burn it. But find a way to release it.

Myke doesn’t wear the burden anymore. She wears that amber ring every day.

I took the baggage I have been carrying all these years of all the horribleness of what he had done to me and the impact, and have given it back to him so he can carry it the rest of his life. I’m free at last.

2. Mega speakers wanted! Coaching your way to riches

Last week, I signed up to attend this event hosted by JT Foxx, a “serial entrepreneur” and “wealth coach” who will be at the Westin in Halifax tomorrow telling women how to get rich by being “mega speakers.”

If we were friends on Facebook, you’d know one of my favourite topics to rant about is the coaching industry: Wealth coaches, wellness coaches, mindset coaches, spiritual coaches, business coaches, entrepreneur coaches, and, especially, life coaches. You’d have to have a pretty good life –and ego – to claim you are a life coach. Oh, and there are even coaches who coach the coaches.

Anyway, because I rant about this so often, I always get ads from various coaches (thank you algorithms). Foxx’s ad has been showing up for a while now, so I registered for the free event with the intent on going and writing about it.

Foxx’s website is giant bucket of red flags. There are photos of him with celebrities and a quote from Steve Wozniak who allegedly says Foxx is, “the closest person I’ve ever met to Steve Jobs.” There are some of Foxx’s quotes like, “If you’re born broke, it’s not your fault. If you die broke, it’s 100% your fault.”

Some of the topics that Foxx will cover at the Halifax event include “How to be a paid keynote speaker (5,000-25,000 per gig),” “How to speak with celebrities like Pacino, Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Zuckerberg” and “How to make 1 million a year as a speaker/coach/promoter.”

He’s hosting the same event in cities around the world.

I have been getting texts and emails since I signed up reminding me to show up at the event tomorrow or more specifically: “Remember there is no next time, only here and now so time to conquer your fear and go after your dream with hard work and commitment!”

I have other things to do like work, live my live, and maybe take a nap. I don’t have the time or patience for any of this. I did send along the appropriate cancellation because I have manners.

But Kate Ferguson with Deutsche Welle did have the time and patience and she wrote about Foxx and his event in December 2017. Ferguson spent the entire day at the event, which included a viewing of a short documentary on Foxx, some awkward endorsements from celebrities including John Travolta, and a nauseating and disturbing bit on how Foxx dismisses a woman who shares her story of sexual assault.

While attending Foxx’s event is free, Ferguson points out that the talk of money eventually comes up.

The purpose of the rest of the event was to “select” people to turn into “mega speakers.” As it turned out, this meant anyone who was willing to spend between 4,000 and 20,000 euros on the spot.

This is how it happened: We were given a sheet of paper with four “options.” Our job was to write down the usual prices and then JT Foxx would announce the incredible, one-day-only-just-for-Berlin offer.

Option 1: A day of one-on-one coaching or four days of group coaching with JT Foxx. The cost: 4,000 euros.

Option 2: Getting coached at one of JT’s mansions, in either Florida or Thailand, costing just 8,000 euros.

Option 3: The opportunity to speak for 15 minutes in front of a large crowd at the “Money, Wealth and Business” conference in South Africa, for 12,500 euros. A unique opportunity to build your brand.

Option 4: The once-in-a-lifetime, career-enhancing opportunity to interview either Al Pacino or Mark Wahlberg for only 20,000 euros.

I am fascinated by this coaching business mostly because I think it’s a scam. I save money by being skeptical of these things.

I notice a lot of similarities in the advertising of these coaches on Facebook and elsewhere. First, they love to share photos and videos of themselves. With the exception of Foxx, most of the coaches whose ads pop up on my Facebook are white, middle-age women, always attractive, polished and well spoken. Some of them are wearing gowns while dancing on the beach. Secondly, they love alliteration. They promote themselves using taglines like “bold and brilliant.” They have a special language they speak in the advertising, blogs, and so on. They use words and phrases like finding your authentic self, empowerment, upscaling, and abundance. And they seem to over-promise on what they offer: Reach a six-figure salary if you do this. Make a million on a book if you do that.

I think these coaches do well for a few reasons. There are still barriers for women in the workforce. I know women leave their jobs to start their own businesses because they can’t make more money or get promotions elsewhere, usually because younger, less skilled men get those jobs. Maybe coaching is a viable option for some women. But there’s also money to be made on making women feel badly about themselves. These coaches look like they have their lives together. So, women look at them and think if they just do what these coaches do, they can have their lives together, too. While some of these coaches may be legit, I think others profit off women’s insecurities and vulnerability.

I’ll put my skepticism aside for a moment, and ask if anyone out there has had a good experience with a coach. Maybe you’re going to Foxx’s mega speaker event tomorrow. I’d like to hear about it, the good and the bad.


Noticed

Tonight at the Halifax Central Library, Evelyn C. White, Halifax writer and Examiner contributor, is giving a talk on Sula, Toni Morrison’s 1973 book on the friendship between two Black women.

White and I spoke over the weekend about her talk, Sula, and Morrison.

Set in The Bottom, a black neighbourhood in Ohio, the story follows the friendship between Sula and Nel from 1919 to 1965. White says she chose to talk about Sula because the Black women here aren’t victims and the story is rooted in a Black community that White says is not unlike where she grew up in Indiana.

I have always thought Sula is the most transgressive of Toni Morrison’s work. It’s a deep probing into the complexities of Black girls who knew each other for 50 years.

Tonight, White will talk about Morrison’s upbringing, her early career, and her other work. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1987 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

White says as a writer she learned from Morrison to never waver from your voice and vision. Morrison, she says, always put “Black at the centre of what she was writing about,” even when critics suggested she do otherwise.

Toni Morrison always valued her own voice, her own vision.

White says she wants to counter the notion that Morrison’s writing is too difficult, too emotional, and the language too lofty. White says Morrison carved out time to write while raising her two sons.

For her, the work had to be substantive because the cost was so high.  She wanted to make sure the time and effort she took from her children was worth it.

Toni Morrison makes you work because she worked as a writer. I think there is great value in reading her work because of the message she imparts and it demands your attention. I have learned over the years I can’t read Toni Morrison unless I carve out some time and give it my attention. Her books to me are the equivalent of the Wonders of the World.

For more on I Want to Make Myself: Evelyn White on Toni Morrison’s Sula, visit the Halifax Central Library here.


Government

City

Tuesday

Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, City Hall) — a public hearing on W. M. Fares Architects’ proposal to build an eight-storey building at the corner of Almon and Gladstone Streets.

Wednesday

Special Events Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 9am, City Hall) — the CFL is giving a presentation on its Touch Down Atlantic event to be held this summer:

Rider Nation will invade Nova Scotia when the Saskatchewan Roughriders face the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday, July 25 in the first-ever regular season game played in Halifax.

The game will be preceded by a three-day “mini Grey Cup festival” featuring music, parties and tons of family-friendly fun.

The CFL unveiled plans to make Halifax feel like a Grey Cup city, except it will be summer and there will be plenty of lobster rolls to go along with the beer.

We can’t see any reason for this presentation other than that the CFL is asking for public money for the event.

But sure, everyone put on your kilts, get rummed up, and go watch the game.

Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — Nancy Noble will give a dog and pony show about the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and auditor general Evangeline Colman-Sadd will talk about her follow up on the AG office’s 2017 recommendation.

Special Meeting – Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 12pm, City Hall) — a special meeting to discuss the budget.

Design Review Committee (Wednesday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — rescheduled from Feb. 13. As of Monday evening, there is nothing at all on the agenda.

Public Information Meeting – Case 22704 (Wednesday, 7pm, in the Centre named after a bank, 61 Gary Martin Drive, Bedford) — Lydon Lynch Architects wants “substantive amendments” to a previously approved development agreement for a project on Fourth Street in Bedford. Specifically, it wants to increase the approved units from 18 to 27, “which is necessary to make the development viable,” because dog knows, no one can make money on real estate in this town.

Province

Tuesday

Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — Commander Geoffrey Hamilton will talk about Commissionaires Nova Scotia.

Wednesday

No public meetings.


On campus

It’s reading week, so not much going on.


At the Library

Evelyn White. Photo: facebook

I Want to Make Myself: Evelyn White on Toni Morrison’s Sula (Tuesday, 7pm, Halifax Central Library) — Halifax writer and Examiner contributor Evelyn C. White will discuss Sula, Morrison’s 1973 novel about the complex friendship between two Black women. More info here.


In the harbour

06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from from St. John’s
07:00: JPO Aries, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
18:00: Horizon Star, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea


Footnotes

Tomorrow night I’m getting together with several women who all connected on Twitter. In December, one of the women reached out to several of her followers, including me, who she thought would be interesting to meet in person. She was once part of a group called Halifax Twitter Chicks and wanted to create a group again that would meet in person once in a while. Two of those women didn’t reply, but a few of us did and we met later that month. There was another dinner outing earlier this month that I couldn’t make. But I’m looking forward to this one tomorrow. We really should do more of this in real-life stuff, as we say on Twitter. Social media really has its limits.

Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. Suzanne, I am not a life coach, but I have coached women and men, including some well-known folks, and I also know a bit about how the coaching field works. I will say that I do not charge what others do because I’m interested in giving people as much and what they need rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. My goal is helping each client feel more comfortable in their own skin, and that makes me somewhat unusual, especially in the Washington, DC market, where coaching everyone to be a single definition of successful is the norm. I am not a financially successful coach, though. 😉 I cannot coach assholes, predators, or most Republicans. What I promise is greater comfort and self-efficacy in a bizarre world. It’s really the best we can offer.

  2. Thank you for the story on Mary Myke. I worked with Mary about 30 years ago. She was a strong woman then and is obviously even stronger now. Although I knew nothing of what she was carrying I’m glad to hear she is free of it and doing well.

  3. If the CAT doesn’t sail a full season this year someone needs to be held accountable for it – complete with the appropriate consequences. In “the real world” (private sector) people would have been fired as a result of the complete mismanagement of all aspects of this file to date. If it this hadn’t happened already and someone we telling me about it I’d say it was unbelievable, however, sadly this horror show is non-fiction.

    1. I don’t think we need to wait another year to hold someone accountable. Imagine, in any other context, promising to do something, not doing it, and still cashing a 7-figure cheque. It is astonishing.

  4. Ports such as New York and Baltimore are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of stealing container traffic from Halifax. Both ports are closer to Toronto and can claim greater reliability with no threat of delays.