Nepomucene’s Silence and Horton’s Minimum

Saint John Nepomucene (+1393) is by tradition, or some say by legend (but the two overlap, do they not, for every legend has its roots in a tradition) is the first and most famous martyr of the seal of the confessional. A confessor to the queen, he refused to divulge her sins to the king, who, as legend has it, was worried that the queen had turned him into a cuckold, something every man, not least a king, would loathe to be, in his inmost heart.  But the seal is inviolable, regardless of consequences (something being raised today in child abuse cases and so on), for the sins revealed in confession are, by that very act, cast into the depths of the sea, removed as far as the east is from the west, banished to oblivion, and we walk out of that box fresh as a daisy, spiritually speaking.  So thank you, Saint John, for standing firm in the truth of this most beautiful and reassuring sacrament, that so many sadly neglect.

Kathleen Wynne’s controversial raising of the minimum wage took effect the other day, now bumped up to $14 per hour (an instant raise of over $2 per hour over the previous $11.40). This will hit some businesses hard, as I wrote a while back, but even still is nowhere near a just wage, if one’s benchmark is a father raising a family, with his wife keeping the home fires burning, caring for infants and raising children.  But that sounds so mediaeval, archaic and, well, just downright patriarchal to some. But I am fan of each of those adjectives, in their true, proper and Catholic context.

Some are finding ways around the increase, including a number of the multi-million dollar Canadian (well, formerly Canadian) Tim Horton franchises.  Almost immediately, two of the doughnut (or donut) shops cut down on employee benefits, and cancelled paid breaks, and these two stores just happened to be  owned by the offspring of Ron Joyce, the multi-multi-millionaire founder of the enterprise (along with the NHL alumnus Tim Horton himself, who was sadly killed in a tragic road crash, driving home inebriated on the QEW, requiescat in pace).  At a wedding in Halifax back in 2008, I wandered down to the pier, and in the dark came upon a long, black, sleak sailboat worth as much as a Toronto city block. The owner? Well, it seems, Mr. Joyce.   A man may spend his money as he will, but it is a wonder what donuts (without the British ‘ough’, for the company is now American owned) can buy.

Other Tim Horton franchises have now followed suit with the Joyces. After all, one must keep up appearances.

In response, Kathleen Wynne called the Joyce owners ‘bullies’ (a favorite epithet of hers), and challenged them, and I paraphrase from memory, to ‘take on her, rather than take it out on their employees’.  What on earth does that mean? Show up at her office, or her house, and throw down the gauntlet to a no-holds-barred pillow fight?  Wynne has the entire power of the State behind her, with all the politicians, judges, lawyers, courts, police officers and guns, who will enforce her laws, good, indifferent and mostly bad.

There are no winners here.  The employees are working for a poor wage which, with or without benefits and paid breaks will never support a family; the Joyces are too rich and are loathe to distribute their wealth equitably (and it does not help matters much to force them to do so); and, Wynne, well, I leave that to your own pondering.

Best to spend your money where it will do the most good, like a local coffee shop.  They are getting rare, but the food and the coffee is almost always far better (just try a Tim’s sans coffee and cream).  That said, one can find them here and there, in nooks and crannies, and I hope this window into the corporate world of Horton’s empire prompts many Canadians to pause, and decide to give Tim’s and the Joyces a break, a long and unpaid one.

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