1. Cops at the Superstore
I’ve noticed a lot of changes at local Superstores lately. There are more gates to go through at the entrances and there are barriers around the self-checkout area. All of the bins of food and product displays that used to be in the main entrances are gone. And as Zane Woodford reports, there are now cops working security at the stores, too. Woodford writes:
Halifax Regional Police officers in full uniform have been patrolling Superstore locations across the municipality in recent weeks, and neither the police or the grocery chain are keen to talk about why.
The Halifax Examiner has seen officers at the Braemar Drive location in Dartmouth and the Joseph Howe Drive location in Halifax, and seen reports and photos from the Quinpool Road and Bayers Lake locations.
Woodford contacted Halifax Regional Police, and while Const. John MacLeod wouldn’t reply to questions specific to the Superstore, he did say private businesses are able to hire off-duty officers:
“We have an extra duty program that is staffed by officers who volunteer to fill positions while off duty,” MacLeod wrote in an email.
“Business, organizations, public and private events can place requests for officers to conduct policing duties on or near their facilities and are responsible for the associated costs. These requests do not draw from our primary policing duties and are only filled if there are officers available from the extra duty program.”
2. 7 new COVID deaths
This item is written by Tim Bousquet.
Nova Scotia is reporting seven new deaths from COVID last week (for the reporting period July 12-18).
Because detailed demographic info isn’t conveyed on the dashboard, I can’t tell you the age or vaccination status of the deceased. That data for all of July will be public on August 15.
Additionally, 44 people were hospitalized with COVID during the same reporting period (July 12-18).
Nova Scotia Health reports the current COVID hospitalization status:
• in hospital for COVID-19: 39 (6 of whom are in ICU)
• in hospital for something else but have COVID-19: 109
• in hospital who contracted COVID-19 after admission to hospital: 48
The above stats do not include any (if any) children hospitalized at the IWK.
Also, there were 1,877 lab-confirmed (PCR tests) for the same period. This does not include those who tested positive only with the rapid take-home tests, or who didn’t test at all. But even then, it’s a 20% increase of positive cases from last week’s count of 1,562.
3. Dr. Orell’s mysterious departure
This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.
One week after the public learned Dr. Kevin Orrell has left his job as CEO of the Office of Professional Healthcare Recruitment, the doctor and the Houston government are both refusing to say anything at all about the circumstances around his departure.
“There are no updates to provide at this time,” said Khalehla Perreault, senior communications advisor for the Department of Health and Wellness.
Reached at his home, Orrell’s wife told the Halifax Examiner the doctor is not ready to speak publicly. The recorded message on his work phone (voicemail) states Orrell is currently on vacation.
Orrell, an orthopedic surgeon with 33 years clinical experience, was appointed 10 months ago to lead a new initiative to recruit and retain more doctors and nurses after the Houston government was elected on a promise to “fix” health care. He moved from his job as deputy health minister appointed by Premier Stephen McNeil in 2020.
Orrell was part of a four-person Health Leadership team appointed by Houston that included Nova Scotia Health Board chair Janet Davidson, Nova Scotia Health CEO Karen Oldfield (previous CEO of the Port Authority and former Chief of Staff to Progressive Conservative Premier John Hamm), and deputy health minister Jeannine Lagassé .
Oldfield continues to serve, although when appointed last September 1, her position was described as “interim.”
When contacted by the Examiner, a spokesperson for Doctors Nova Scotia said that group is also in the dark about the reasons for Orrell’s departure.
“Doctors Nova Scotia appreciates Dr. Orrell’s contribution to physician recruitment and retention in Nova Scotia,” said Dr. Lesiha Hawker, president of Doctors Nova Scotia. “Recruitment and retention is a priority for Doctors Nova Scotia and we will continue to work with the government on solutions so that Nova Scotia is a place physicians want to practice.”
During Orrell’s short time as head of the recruitment and retention effort, 163 new physicians were attracted to the province, up 27% from the previous three years. But the net gain was only 95 doctors, after subtracting those who retired or left for greener pastures.
Meanwhile, the number of Nova Scotians on the wait list for a family doctor has ballooned to 100,000. Nurses and paramedics are also in scarce supply — as they are everywhere across Canada — leading to more frequent closures of emergency departments in community hospitals and longer wait times at major hospitals.
Online or “Virtual Care,” which was touted by the Tories as an alternative to face-to-face visits with the doctor, was supposed to be available by this summer but has been delayed, partly because there aren’t enough health professionals to staff it.
The Examiner asked the Department of Health and Wellness who is in currently in charge as acting CEO for the Office of Professional Healthcare Recruitment.
“We have no further information to provide at this time,”, said Perreault. Opposition leaders Zach Churchill (Liberal) and Claudia Chender (NDP) have both noted that Orrell’s departure means there are fewer people with direct clinical experience who are making decisions on the operation of the health system.
And unless the government is welling to share some information about the departure of one of its top health care leaders, it should be noted the PCs are no more “transparent” than their political predecessors.
4. Trudeau makes ‘green energy’ announcement, but leaves door open for LNG projects
“One day after Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced $10 million to establish green energy projects in Antigonish County, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau popped up in Hants County to announce $255 million worth of renewable energy projects for Nova Scotia,” reports Jennifer Henderson in her second story today.
The Trudeau announcement was made at Hardwood Lands in front of a 6MW wind farm operated by the Glooscap First Nation and SWEB Developments.
Of the $225 million, $125 million will finance wind farms that Ottawa says will power 350,000 homes, reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tonnes, and create 500 short-term construction jobs.
Another $130 million will be spent to install battery storage sites at Waverley, Bridgewater, Waterville, and Onslow so that excess renewable energy generated by the wind and the sun can be released to the grid as needed.
“These batteries will help provide reliable electricity to homes and businesses and support the closure of coal-fired power plants, delivering cleaner air for Nova Scotians. With this investment, Nova Scotia will have one of the largest battery systems in North America,” said Trudeau.
Both sets of projects are being carried out “in partnership” with the Glooscap, Sipkne’katik, and Annapolis First Nations, which are receiving financing through the federal Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways program.
As Henderson reported, the news on the projects got some mixed reviews.
5. Former IWK CEO Tracy Kitch appealing fraud conviction
“Former IWK Health Centre CEO Tracy Kitch is appealing her conviction for fraud over $5,000, arguing the trial judge failed to explain how using a corporate credit card for personal expenses is dishonest behaviour,” reports Zane Woodford.
Kitch used flight passes for personal travel to and from Ontario and used her corporate credit card as head of the children’s hospital to pay for taxis, Netflix, iTunes, data overages, and more, as first reported by Michael Gorman at CBC in 2017. The personal expenses totalled about $47,000. Tim Bousquet has the full details in the Halifax Examiner here.
Nova Scotia provincial court Judge Paul Scovil convicted Kitch of fraud in February 2022.
“The evidence before the court clearly showed that Ms. Kitch used corporate funds for personal expenses, placing IWK funds in potential peril,” Scovil wrote in his decision.
But in a notice filed in Nova Scotia Court of Appeal on Tuesday, high-profile Toronto defence lawyer Brian Greenspan, along with colleague Michelle Biddulph, argues the evidence wasn’t so clear.
6. Talking anti-Black racism in the LGBTQ community
Matthew Byard recently attended a virtual session that’s part of the Speak Truth to Power series hosted by Dalhousie University. In the latest episode of the series, which was titled Black Queer and Trans Lives Also Matter, the panel spoke about performative activism, woke rhetoric, and anti-Black stereotypes and myths that are perpetuated about homophobia and transphobia in the Black community. Byard writes:
This was the 11th episode in the series, which started in mid-2020 following the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
“It is important to also remember that on May 27, 2020, Tony McDade a Black trans man also killed by police, just two days after the murder of George Floyd, and yet we know less about Mr. McDade,” said a description for the episode. “Tony McDade was further harmed after his death by being misnamed (dead-named) and misgendered in the press.”
Dryden said what happened to McDade is nothing new because Black people “have historical experience of having our names taken from us, to be named by others to their use and to our detriment.”
Dryden then talked about Brazil Johnson, a 28-year-old Black trans woman who was found shot to death in Milwaukee this past June.
“There are so many more of our community whose lives are stolen,” Dryden said. “During a time when continued stigma, and homophobia, and transphobia, and anti-Black homophobia, and anti-Black transphobia continues, there’s still this belief that all the gays are white, and all the Black people are cisgender and straight, or that white communities are more welcoming of queer and trans people than Black communities.”
Guest speakers included Chris Cochrane, Theaston White, and Dr. Rachel Zellars.
7. Working from home forever
Several weeks ago, I learned the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was closing its Halifax office and all staff would be working remotely. I’ve been following stories about employers trying to convince very reluctant workers to head back to the office, so this one stuck out to me as an employer bucking the back-to-the-office trend.
I recently spoke with Fallon Jones, the director of the Atlantic region for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, who told me about their new “digital-first model.” Not only would staff do their work online, the society moved its largest fundraising event, Light the Night, online too. And doing that cut the society’s overhead costs by 42%. Jones told me:
Although revenues may have been slightly down, the overall investment into research and support programs that we were able to contribute was significantly higher than in years before because we didn’t have those costly event expenses.
With this adapting our digital future, we’re able to make this event more accessible, more equitable, and inclusive and overall reduce the costs and maximize the dollars going to research and community programs.
The society took those savings and put them toward grants awarded to 41 researchers across Canada, including Dr. Robin Urquhart at Dalhousie University.
Letting loose on ‘live, laugh, love’
Last weekend, I was doing a little thrift shopping when I saw this sign with a phrase I’m sure you’ve seen before:
I didn’t buy it. I am one of those people who’s very guilty of making fun of this phrase because it’s EVERYWHERE. But after I saw that sign, I got curious and started to research the phrase’s background. Did I ever go down a rabbit hole!
Products with “live, laugh, love” on them are more ubiquitous than I thought. This phrase is on accent pillows, signs, tea towels, baskets, candles, placemats, kitchen curtains, wallpaper, aprons, wall art, and more. If you’re shopping for this stuff, Walmart has more than 1,000 items with the phrase on it. The online shop Etsy has almost 9,000 items. And Wayfair has a staggering 189,271 “live, laugh, love” products.
But it’s not just the décor and other products. There’s a mental health non-profit called “Live, Laugh, Love.” There’s a ladies club that looks a lot like a multi-level marketing scheme with the name. There’s a marketing agency. And country singer Clay Walker has a song with the phrase. I am sure there is more, but I had to stop looking.
But where did the phrase originate? According to Madeleine Pollard in Elephant Magazine, the phrase comes from the beginning lines of a poem called Success written by Bessie Anderson Stanley in 1904. Here’s the full line from the poem: “He has achieved success / who has lived well, / laughed often, and loved much.” Pollard said the quote is often misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson (because of course it is). Pollard writes:
In the wake of the 2008 recession, consumers sought inspiration for affordable interior design on image-based inspiration sites like Pinterest and craft-focused e-commerce stores such as Etsy. Prints bearing motivational slogans in cursive type, and wooden cut-out words like “dream”, “family”, “joy” and “blessed” were marketed as an easy way to make a house a home. “Live, Laugh, Love” found its true calling in the form of easy-to-produce and relatively cheap-to-buy word-art decor, attractive for its accessibility in terms of both price and content.
According to Google Trends, worldwide searches for “Live, Laugh, Love” took off in 2004 and peaked between 2008 and 2012.
What is wrong with “live, laugh, love,” you ask? Not much, really. I mean, who doesn’t want to live, laugh, and love? It’s certainly better than “die, cry, hate.” Decorate your home with any of these products. But this really isn’t about décor.
I am really interested in language, particularly what I call bullshit language marketed to women. I first wrote about it back in October when I was trying to figure out the meaning of the term “authentic self.” That’s a term I often see on social media and it’s pretty popular with self-help gurus, coaches, and the wine moms (don’t even get me started on that one). I still don’t know what “authentic self” means, but bullshit language is everywhere and a lot of it doesn’t make any sense, at least to me. (I also found this New Age Bullshit generator, which creates pages of bullshit and buzzwords in case you can’t think of any yourself. It’s quite fun).
In January, I asked the women of Twitter what advertising, marketing, and social media gets wrong about our lives. They shared their opinions on everything from photos of women spinning in fields, to smiling when we’re eating salads, to wanting candles that smell like Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina. The women said marketing often tells them they must always be on a diet, and that they disappear when they get older. It was a funny exercise, but kind of depressing at the same time.
Then in April, I wrote about more language marketed to women, notably words like warrior, superwoman, and especially girlboss. A lot of women do not like being called girlboss. I wrote:
Girlboss sounds like a subset of boss, which we always assume to be a man. And we never call men “boybosses.” Charlene Boyce wrote that girlboss “is the biggest trash repackaging of ‘be cute and sassy and as long as you’re rich and/or very attractive, you can have whatever you want!’ since riot grrrls turned into webcam girls.” This description could be used for wellness “influencers” too.
“Live, laugh, love” seems to be the biggest slogan of this entire self-help-coaching-wine-mom movement. Yet while there’s nothing inherently wrong with it or the décor, a lot of women are saying they identify with something else, like maybe “lie down, let it all hang out, and leave” or some other version of this. Where is the décor for us?
I think the marketing behind all this living, laughing, and loving is a bit more insidious than it appears. This language is marketed to us women to keep us nice, so we don’t complain, and keep on smiling. So, we get our wine and our toolkits and hang up our driftwood signs with “live, laugh, love” crafted on them when we’re actually despairing about all the bullshit we’re still dealing with: abortion bans, sexism, sexual harassment, pay inequity, husbands and boyfriends who don’t carry their weight at home, balancing work and online school and childcare during a pandemic. I could go on. How can we live, laugh, or love in these conditions?
In her article, Pollard quotes Sylvia Sierra, sociolinguist and author of Millennials Talking Media about the internet backlash against “live, laugh, love.” The phrase is too trite. Here’s what’s Sierra had to say:
It seems inauthentic, and authenticity is something younger people, especially, value a lot when it comes to their online content.
For people who are online on Twitter and reddit, places where there’s a lot more ‘real talk’ about the news and what’s going on in the world, the whole idea of ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ is laughable. It’s almost like an opiate of the masses, toxic positivity kind of thing, this idea of just ‘Be content with your lot in life and don’t struggle for anything better’.
You keep your “live, laugh, love,” but I think I’ll get this on a t-shirt…or maybe even an accent pillow.
Back in March I wrote this Morning File about another too-popular saying: “No one wants to work these days.” I wrote that piece after I read that Kim Kardashian shared some advice for women in business: “Get your f—ing ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.” I never liked this phrase for a number of reasons:
The line “no one wants to work these days” is just a way to shame people for their circumstances. I’m not afraid of work, and I know others aren’t afraid of work either. But people no longer want to work for someone who will exploit their talent, pay them crap wages, and keep them on a cycle of never getting ahead. It’s hard work just to get by these days! It’s hard work being poor! It’s hard work doing two or three jobs just to pay the bills! This doesn’t make for a good Instagram post, though. (Really, if you meet a potential boss who whines, “no one wants to work these days,” that’s a big red flag.)
Earlier this week, Paul Fairie, a researcher and instructor at the University of Calgary, tweeted out this thread of newspapers articles that included the phrase “no one wants to work anymore.” The most recent article is from this year and mentions that one in five executive leaders agree with the phrase “no one wants to work:”
This is one of my favourites from 1999:
And here’s another one from 1979 from a “disgusted businessman.” They’re all disgusted with us, no?
Another one from 1952. People are too darned lazy!
And here’s the oldest clipping in Fairie’s thread. From 1894:
Now, someone should do a thread on the history of the phrase, “kids these days.”
PhD Defence – Plant, Food & Environmental Sciences (Friday, 9am, online) — Joel Ayebi Abbey will defend “Wild Blueberry (Vaccinium Angustifolium Aiton) – Microbe Interaction and Botrytis Blight Management.”
PhD Defence – Interdisciplinary PhD Program (Friday, 10am, online) — Mary Margaret Brown will defend “Intergenerational Effects of Maternal Health on Pregnancy and Neonatal Outcomes in Nova Scotian Children.”
PhD Defence – English (Friday, 1pm, Room 3107 Mona Campbell Building, 1459 LeMarchant St.) — Brittany Kraus will defend “Realizing the Refugee in Contemporary Canadian Literature and Art.”
In the harbour
15:00: MSC Shanghai, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
15:00: Don Carlos, car carrier, arrives at Pier 9 from Southampton, England
15:00: Conti Contessa, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
I am gonna live, laugh, lick the lobster dinner I’m having later. Okay, that’s enough, I know.