Aug 232020

From: Sandra Finley
To: thesundayedition; Melanie Simms
Subject: re Secrets about Salaries. Cultural taboos. Subversion.

Dear Kevin Sylvester and Melanie Simms,

(I was raised in small-c conservative rural farm culture; graduated from a College of Commerce a long time ago.  I did not intend to become an activist, a subversive as you name it.  An obvious need emerged, also a long time ago.)

Cultural taboos.  Subversion.  (Secrets about Salaries.)   In response to your discussion.

Cultural taboos protect the interests of those who benefit from the wealth of a country and its workers.

Interesting – your discussion stopped short of questioning, for example, the salaries of the executive class.

Re covid discussions about who gets paid and who doesn’t, who contributes and who doesn’t:   I have not heard or seen anything about the class of people who offshore their money to avoid taxation.   We are not, as proclaimed, “All in this together”.

Why does the discussion have the cheek to climb up the ladder into the lower ranks of management and administration (the courtiers?) and then stop short.  Maybe a plexiglass ceiling?   Maybe out of deference:  we worship money?   The more you have, the more timid we are in your presence?

Speaking to the subversive action, the revolutionary:  our tongues are more free, our actions less inhibited, the less fearful we are.   Timidity doesn’t work.

Two anecdotes that might be helpful to your deliberations.  I will spare you more.

  1. I used the example of an imperilled water supply to ask Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul why, when the public needs “educated persons of influence” (water scientists in this case) to speak up on an important public issue, the public is lucky to find one scientist who will open their mouth.  This was in the University city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Lots of government and university water scientists.  Used to be home to the National Water Research Institute.

Ralston Saul said (not his precise words) the educated class have worked hard to get to where they are.  They have entered the class of The Respectables.

The taboo in Canada, respectable people do not speak out in public or protest in the streets, was reinforced during Stephen Harper’s 2010 G-20 and G-8 meetings.  Protestors were rounded up and thrown in jail in numbers never before seen in Canada, quite brutally, without cause.  Most were detained to be released the next day without charge.  Creates Fear.  Keeps mouths shut.  Public money flowed into Conservative constituencies.  Corruption.  The bill to Canadians was close to a billion dollars for the few-days G-20, G-8 summit.  Who benefitted? 


  1. A single-parent cousin of mine worked for a ScotiaBank branch in Calgary.  She complained that it was month-end and she had to work overtime, breaking a visit we’d planned.  I replied with the bright-side:  she’d be paid time-and-a half.   She said no.

Later I phoned ScotiaBank headquarters (Toronto) and asked how it was that they could pay the CEO $3.5 million, while denying overtime pay to the frontline workers who made it possible for the CEO to be grossly overpaid?  The reply was oh no, we have rules – – the overtime has to be paid.  My reply:  you know that branch managers work their way up the corporate ladder according to the performance data of the branch.   There’s a built-in incentive not to pay overtime.

Well, it “has to” be — “the CEO will be seen as inferior if he is not paid in line with the salaries of the other CEOs in the banking industry.”  Bull-shit.

Women whose families are financially dependent on them are the majority workers.  Who among them is going to stand up and speak out if they aren’t paid fairly?  Fear of losing the job, and chances for promotion. // Ambition (branch manager) trumps ethical.  // Systemic problems are not addressed.  Common sense evaporates, conveniently.

Who benefits?   The branch manager, the CEO, the investors.  Often the investors include large pension funds, for example of teachers’ unions. All are Beneficiaries of the wealth that comes from unfair treatment (exploitation) of the women – – a resource of the country.

So what about that subversion? . . . Yes, fight the taboos.  Open up.  Ask your questions about salaries.  How much do you get paid?  Timidity doesn’t work.  Eat some spinach (Pop-Eye).  Put some iron in your spine.

Thanks for the programme.

/Sandra Finley

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>