What to Read, and Watch

Where to start? I’d recommend Canadian Joyce Wayne’s brilliant novel Last Night of the World.  It’s about a Soviet spy — a very talented woman –in Ottawa in the ’30s and ’40s. The book is magic and weaves a spell which examines details and intimacies of members of the Communist Party and also Canadian politicians — I could not put the book down. A must read for anyone on the serious left. wayne

Vox;  a novel.  Suddenly it all makes sense: Bible belt politicians led by a Trump-clone decree that women and girls of all ages can only speak 100 words a day. A counter, worn as a watch, is the enforcer. If they speak more than 100 words, there’s electric shock, and worse…Women can never own or read a book or magazine, and never use a computer without their husbands’ indulgence. There’s more– but it rattles me as deeply as did  Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, 35 years ago.  The best parts of the book are when the protagonist (a former scientist who like all other woman is not allowed to work)  is home with her family — where she can neither speak, nor ask, nor discipline the kids, nor finger-spell, nor write a note with a pencil or pen.  Her only tool is a tube of lipstick and a mirror. vox2And that form of communication only can happen once. Scares the pants off me.

Skirt Day (translated from French) is a must-see dvd from Halifax Library.  A woman high school teacher in a rough neighbourhood turns the tables on her students and her school in this clever and penetrating look at race, poverty and status.  English Subtitles.jupe

Squeezed is far better than I first thought.  This new nonfiction book talks about the disappearing middle class in the US– and there are many things I didn’t know. The author, a researcher in The Economic Hardship Reporting Project which was founded in part by brilliant author & mud-slinger Barbara Ehrenreich.  Well worth reading. I couldn’t stop reading even while I was on the boat whale watching near Brier Island. squeezed

Neither a kind word, nor a free coffee…FireDelorey&Knox

Not a kind word, not a cup of vending machine coffee, not even a hug. And don’t get us started on why the young woman was not privileged enough to see a doctor or a nurse.  This is what happened to a rape victim who walked into the Colchester East Hants Health Centre hospital in Truro last week.

Oh yes on her way out, staff gave the woman a few pamphlets on where to go for help. Really.

colchestColchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro. 

As journalist Jim Vibert in the Heraldwrites: “Health care professionals are human and make mistakes but turning the victim of a sexual assault out on the street, on her own, seems to be beyond an error in judgment. It hints at an unhealthy culture within the system Delorey oversees and Knox runs.”  delorey and knox

Randy Delorey: NS Min. of Health                Janet Knox; CEO of NS Health Authority


But Delorey and Knox still won’t own this problem. To that end there has been a Facebook event started called FireDelorey&Knox.  Maybe that will get someone’s attention.





Prison protest continues at Burnside…


Labour Day Blues — let’s hope you get paid for the holiday!

Please note:  Turns out all Sobey’s and Superstores are closed on Labour Day, after all.  The sign applies to the Brewery next door!  While smaller groceries are allowed to open, clearly the large Sobey’s and Superstores do not open.  However will you get paid for the day off — read below! 

Driving by Sobey’s on Windsor St. in Halifax,  I noticed it was going to be open all day on Labour Day.  Isn’t Labour Day supposed to be a holiday?


Well it seems that despite Labour Day being a public holiday, and a retail store closing day – grocery stores are allowed to be open—if they are smaller than 4,000 square feet.  Also allowed to remain open are flea markets, fish stores, Laundromats, pool halls, and even use clothing stores, according to the Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act.   Of course gas bars, hotels, restaurants and bars are absolutely allowed to stay open.

But what about pay? In NS, Labour Day is one of the six paid holidays in the year. If  your workplace is closed that day, or you do not work that day, you are entitled to a day off with pay.lbr-day3

To qualify for the day off with pay you need to have worked

  1. 15 of the last 30 days.


  1. Your last scheduled shift before the holiday, and your first scheduled shift after the holiday.

Of course so many employers keep staff on part time hours, that it’s sometimes hard to find out if you qualify.

If your regular day off is Monday, then – if you qualify – you get another day off with pay, which substitutes for the Labour Day holiday.

If you qualify for the paid day off, but you have to work on Labour Day, you are entitled to your normal day’s pay, plus time and a half for the hours you work. Some people call this double time and a half – but it is more complicated.

If you normally work 8 hours at $11/hr, you get $88.  On Labour Day, if you have to work only 5 hours, that works out to 5 x $11 =  $55, plus half again as much $27.50. So if you do work Labour Day and you qualify for the holiday pay, and you only work 5 hours – you’d earn $88 + $55 + $27.50 =  $170.50.

If a union represents you, you’ll certainly get paid for the holiday, and under your collective agreement, there will be better terms if you have to work that day.

And if you get the day off – with or without pay – join us in Equity Watch when we march in the Labour Day Parade.  We start at Victoria Park at 10.30 am. lbr-day

Brilliant comment by El Jones:

Note how the first thing everyone says about Nelson Mandela, and the condition by which he is allowed to be a hero, is “he forgave white people.” Black people are not only expected, but required to ignore and erase centuries of our own oppression to be worthy of praise. Meanwhile, John McCain can say “I hate gooks and I will always hate them” and people say, “well of course he does, he was jailed and tortured.” Imagine if Mandela, jailed and tortured, said “I’ll always hate crackers.” The headline of his damn obituary would be “white hating radical with controversial views dies.” Ain’t no black person hated their captors ever been alllowed that, never mind be praised as a hero for it. 

El Jones is the Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at Mt St Vincent University in Halifax. She’s a poet, a writer and a social activist.  

Why we must support the Burnside prisoner protest

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Sarah Gillis, spokesperson for Nova Scotia  Correctional Services, dismisses the idea of health concerns in the Burnside jail, and insists that the government  already provides healthy food, and is working on a new air ventilation system.

Gillis also says Burnside “is operating as usual.” How can that be when there was a lockdown of the jail inmates for four days?

Prisoners deserve good health care. 48 out of more than 370 people incarcerated in the Burnside jail are women. Pregnant prisoners do not get help, advice or better conditions. According to prisoner rights advocate and nurse Martha Paynter,  “prisoners in Burnside do not have a grassy ‘yard’ for fresh air and exercise. There is a small, concrete-floor, brick-wall enclosure, with chain-link fence over the top like a cage. Pregnant women are vulnerable to physical and mental punishment that includes solitary confinement (administrative segregation).”

When women prisoners give birth – without support – their babies are taken away – babies are not allowed to live with their mothers in Burnside.

Conditions in Burnside are not humane – and this affects all prisoners. A week ago, prisoners at Burnside started a peaceful protest – in solidarity with a large prisoner strike in the US.  At Burnside prisoners are calling for basic improvements in health care, exercise, visits, food, quality of air and library access.

The public needs to support them. Each prisoner will eventually be released and we want them to be better functioning, better educated, and healthier when they return to live among us.

Judy Haiven is founding member of Equity Watch. She retired from teaching Industrial Relations at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University. 

Join fact witnesses and first voice experts to discuss the conditions at Burnside, prisoners’ demands, and the peaceful protests at Burnside amidst claims from the Department of Justice that “demonstrations or protests of any kind are not taking place”.  When: August 27, 2018 • 6-8pm. Where: Glitterbean Cafe • 5896 Spring Garden Road

More information can be found here.


First published in the Nova Scotia Advocate  on 27 Aug. 2018– Nova Scotia’s #1 source for radical journalism.  See nsadvocate.org

A chance encounter, which never happened, with a young family…


I was walking to catch the bus around 7 pm and noticed an attractive young woman crossing the street. She had just got off a bus.

She had long hair in a top-knot, a tank top covered with a loose blouse; she wore cut-off jean shorts and new-looking Nikes. She pushed a nearly 2 year old girl, in small light weight stroller. Another girl – maybe 4 years old – ran along beside the stroller.

Both girls wore pink clothes and lilac coloured Crocs. Both girls were blonde and animated.

homeless    The 4 year old complained she didn’t want to walk – but the mother didn’t seem to pay attention. She ploughed ahead on the dusty and still hot street.

I watch as the family turned to enter the women’s shelter near by.

I began to realize this young woman, not yet 30 years old, had already suffered for years. Obviously she had left an abusive boyfriend or husband. Clearly, she no longer had a home. In the shelter, she probably had to share the same room with the girls. She had to comfort at least the older girl by telling her that everything would be okay. How does she explain that daddy is not in the picture right now.

Maybe the young mother has no job. If she has a job, maybe it’s only part-time, or maybe she’s a student. Money will be in short supply, as will the kindness of strangers. Even if she can enroll the older daughter in pre-primary in a few weeks’ time, what about the younger one who sits in the rickety stroller? There’s also the cost of after-school care, care on school holidays. Childcare for the younger girl will not come cheap.homeless2

There is a wait list for “second stage” housing in HRM. Where will the young family live; how long can they stay at the shelter? Will the mother be forced to return to her partner – because she has no option? Will she try to move in with her mother or a friend? How will she afford the first month’s rent and the security deposit required by virtually every landlord who has a rental apartment.

And there will be the endless rounds of appointments, with doctors, with social workers, with counselors, with day care staff, with legal aid – if she wants to split from her partner and get support money.  She will have to fend off the ex-partner, at least for a while.

There will be no such thing as relaxing; the mother has to be on alert. She always has to watch the children; make sure their clothes are clean and they get to sleep at night; hope they are not fussy about food. She will scramble to get enough money to pay the bill for her mobile phone, and to have bus fare. Not much time for relaxation…