News

1. Dawgfather vs. the man

The Dawgfather

This item is written by Tim Bousquet.

Does telling a sheriff’s deputy to “go fuck yourself” constitute causing a disturbance?

Dawgfather PHD says it does not, and he wants $240,000 in compensation after doing exactly that and being arrested for it.

Dawgfather, aka Jerry Reddick aka Jeremy Elms, is well known as the former hot dog vendor who used to set up his stand in front of the Dal Student Union, but was pushed out from that spot after the city adopted new street vendor policies. Dawgfather claimed he was being unfairly targeted for taking business away from student union businesses, while others noted that he had racked up thousands of dollars in parking fines.

In any event, in a claim filed in Supreme Court, Dawgfather says that on October 9, 2019 he attended the provincial court on Spring Garden Road as the accused in a traffic incident. Going into the courthouse meant proceeding through security that was staffed by sheriff’s deputy Kevin Hurst.

“Officer Hurst required a lady in front of [Dawgfather] in line to remove her baby from a stroller and put the stroller through the metal detector,” reads the claim. Dawgfather “questioned out loud whether this was really necessary and commented” to Hurst, “You guys are too much.”

Hurst allegedly said “This has nothing to do with you.” To which Dawgfather replied, “Go fuck yourself.”

“Hurst immediately walked around the screening station, grabbed [Dawgfather’s] arm, cranked it behind his back” and arrested Dawgfather “for causing a disturbance.”

With the help of two Halifax cops who happened to be in the building, Dawgfather was placed in a cell in the courthouse basement for two hours and then brought to the police station, charged, and released on his own recognizance.

At some later point, Dawgfather asked for the video of the incident but was told that it hadn’t been saved.

In his claim, Dawgfather says “there was no disturbance caused” by Dawgfather telling Hurst to go fuck himself, but rather the disturbance was caused by Hurst himself.

Dawgfather wants the court to award him $100,000 for assault and battery, false arrest, and false imprisonment; $40,000 for some unstated Charter violation; and another $100,000 in “punitive damages … for the high-handed and oppressive conduct” of Hurst.

Dawgfather’s allegations have not been tested in court. He is represented by lawyer Jeremiah Raining Bird, who is with the Allen Law firm in Dartmouth. Neither the province nor Hurst have yet to file a defence.

Who knows? Hurst might have an entirely different storyline, and there might be witnesses (such as the mother) who have a different perspective on how events unfolded. But if Dawgfather’s narrative is true, then he’s right — a law enforcement officer should be able to control his reactions to a civilian telling him to go fuck himself. That in itself shouldn’t be cause for arrest.

I mean, it’s not advisable to tell a deputy to go fuck himself, if only to speed the security process up. I go through courthouse security two or three times a week, and I try to keep to banal pleasantries, but then again, I’m not stressed out about being an accused in a court matter. Still, if I did tell the deputies to go fuck themselves, I doubt I’d be arrested for it. Nor should I be.

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2. COVID outbreak at Halifax Infirmary claimed 3 lives, infected 32

Halifax Infirmary in July, 2021. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

Jennifer Henderson has this report on an investigation led by Dr. Ian Davis into a COVID outbreak at the Halifax Infirmary. That investigation found that 21 patients admitted to the 8.1 unit of the Halifax Infirmary in May tested positive for COVID-19. Three of those patients died because of the virus and another three patients died after being infected with the virus, but other health factors were responsible for their deaths. Henderson writes:

An investigation into the cause of the outbreak began in May. At that time, Nova Scotia Health senior communications advisor Brendan Elliott told the Examiner the working hypothesis was a patient who initially tested negative for COVID subsequently tested positive and infected others.

That turned out to be correct, only it happened twice. The investigation led by Dr. Davis looked at patient charts, roommates, and staffing assignments on 8.1. It also sent samples of virus to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for testing to identify changes in the virus that could then be traced in order to figure out how it was transmitted. The testing confirmed the Alpha variant of the virus was at work. Digging deeper using genome sequencing allowed scientists at Dalhousie University to analyze those results and find common mutations that eventually tracked back to Patient X and Patient Y.

“The genome sequencing is like a typing of results so that we could identify relationships between cases,” explained Tammy MacDonald, director of Infection Prevention and Control for Nova Scotia Health.

“If there are many many changes in the sequencing between one virus and the next, we can determine if they are related or not related at all because they originated from different sources,” said Davis. “It’s a much more detailed molecular sequencing beyond what we do for a variant.”

Click here to read the entire article.

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3. COVID update: 40 new cases

Photo: CDC/Unsplash

Tim Bousquet had the COVID update for Tuesday, when 40 new cases of the virus were announced. Here’s the breakdown by zone: 

By Nova Scotia Health zone, the new cases are: 

  • 34 Central Zone
  • 2 Northern Zone
  • 4 Western Zone

There are 248 known cases and 17 people are in hospital with the disease, including four in ICU. 

If you want to get tested, here are today’s locations for pop-up testing (antigen testing): 

Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm
Centennial Arena, 10am-5pm 

And there’s some concern about cases in the Clayton Park area, including at schools there, so there’s drop-in PCR testing at Clayton Park Junior High today and Thursday from 4:30pm to 7:30pm each day. 

There’s a COVID briefing at 3pm today. You can watch the briefing here. 

I am still seeing some confusion online about where you’re required to show proof of vaccination (POV). You can click here to find a detailed list. For example, I see a lot of confusion around retail stores. They are not required to ask for POV.  

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4. Legal hens

Chickens — Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash

If you want to keep some hens in your backyard, it’s now legal in the municipality.

Zane Woodford reported on Halifax council’s virtual meeting yesterday, including last night’s public meeting on chicken-keeping. Woodford writes:

Municipal planner Ross Grant originally recommended a limit of six hens per lot. At a meeting in late August, council voted in favour of an amendment from pro-hen Coun. David Hendsbee to increase the limits and create a graduating scale:

  • 10 chickens on lots of up to 4,000 square metre
  • 15 chickens on lots between 4,000 and 6,000 square metre
  • 20 chickens on lots between 6,000 and 10,000 square metre
  • 25 chickens on lots larger than 10,000 square metres

The rules also ban roosters, slaughter, and sales of eggs, chickens or meat. They require the hens to be kept in coops or fenced-in areas at least one metre from the property line, and they have to be in the back yard. There’s no licensing requirement for keeping chickens, but residents will be encouraged to register their roosts online.

Originally, staff proposed one set of rules for the entire municipality. Instead, the rules above will pertain only to suburban and rural areas.

One speaker showed up at the public hearing expressing concerns that backyard hens would attract vermin, noise, aroma, and affect property values.

Woodford also reported on other issues on council’s agenda, including the second half of Centre Plan moving to the final stage, underground wiring on Spring Garden Road, and amendments to Soul Harbour’s housing on the Eastern Shore.

This article is for subscribers only. Please subscribe here.

It was tough avoiding writing chicken puns for this story.

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5. Children in care after family evicted from home

Family Court, Halifax

Matthew Byard talked with a mother who says her family was evicted from their family home in Springhill after the landlord called Child Protective Services (CPS). The mother, who is Indigenous, and the father, who is Black, have nine children. Seven of those children are now in homes across the province.

The mother, who the Examiner is calling Shirley, said the children, who identify as Indigenous, African Canadian, or both, are not living in culturally appropriate homes. Byard writes:

Shirley said that the importance of cultural awareness for the children is noted in their case files, but none is provided.

“It’s their right, and it’s my right as an Indigenous person to have my children placed in culturally appropriate homes,” she said.

With Indigenous children being overrepresented in Canada’s child welfare system, Shirley drew direct comparisons to the former residential school system.

“You have children who are, you know, obviously minorities. And then. … you think back in the 60s … they come in with white RCMP members, they rip your children away from you and they send them into culturally inappropriate homes,” she said.

“I don’t personally go to church. Come to find out, my one daughter, the foster mother is apparently planning to take her to church on Sunday. That’s not my belief. As an Indigenous person of Nova Scotia, my belief is not in the church. People are free to believe whatever they want to believe, and that is perfectly fine. However, when it comes to my children, that’s my choice and my children’s choice to make.”

“Nobody at that office is either of Aboriginal descent or African Canadian descent. They’re stating, ‘Well, we’re going to make sure that your children are in culturally appropriate homes, that they’re not losing their language, they’re not losing their history, they’re not losing their teachings,’ and that’s a complete lie.”

“A lot of our history was hidden and not spoke about, not taught. … These are things that we’re trying to revive and teach our children so that we can keep our culture alive and they’re not allowing it.”

Click here to read the complete story.

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6. Black News File

Matthew Byard has his 11th Black News File with a recap of the stories he wrote the past week, plus a few new items, including a bit on Senator Donald Oliver’s new book and Dr. Jerry Asiedu, who is a new doctor at the Middleton Collaborative Practice.

Click here to read the entire piece.

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Views

Bullshit and bafflegab

A couple of weeks ago I asked this question on Twitter: “What the hell does ‘authentic self’ even mean?”

I see the term “authentic self” everywhere. You probably have too. On that day, I saw it in a tweet promoting a webinar for accounting software. Apparently, you can’t learn how to balance your books unless you’re being your authentic self.

Authentic self is one term in a whole language often used by the coaching and self-help industries, and social media influencers. It’s sort of a cross between corporate buzzwords and psychobabble. And I don’t get it. I see this stuff (all over social media, especially) and find myself saying, “What does that even mean?” Besides authentic self, here are a list of words and terms used in this kind of talk:

Empowerment
Abundance
Doing the hard work
Soul
Soul tribe
Potential
Spiritual
Guidance/guide/guiding
Life force
Personal transformation/transformational
Catalyst for change
Alignment
Inner light
Wholeness
Collective purpose
Purposeful life
Retreat
Belief infusion
Love
Oh, and there’s a lot of alliteration in this language, too. A lot — like big, brilliant, bold, beautiful language that is constant, courageous, and a catalyst for change.
Now, none of these words or terms are necessarily bad on their own, although I don’t know what a “belief infusion” is. But put together  — by coaches, self-help gurus, and influencers — these words give off the impression that the speaker or writer has a higher knowledge or more smarts than the person hearing or reading those words.
And I call bullshit.
Let me point out a few examples to illustrate.
When searching for how this language was being used, I found a local coach’s website in which they sign off their blogs with “love” and “xoxoxo.” This is creepy, manipulative, inappropriate, and unprofessional. Imagine a therapist or counsellor using this signoff with their clients. But the coaching industry is not regulated, so I guess they can write whatever they feel.
And “soul tribe” is another term that bothers me. I first heard this term two years ago this month, when a group called Soul Tribe Live hosted a Big Magic Weekend in Halifax. The event was led by a panel, including someone who calls themselves an “autopoetic facilitator.” I wrote about it in this Morning File. For two days — and $500 — you could learn how to find your creativity, or some such silliness.
But as I was researching this piece, I learned that “soul tribe” is a term often used by coaches and self-help “gurus” (guru is another nonsense word) and it means “people who get you.” Anne Shirley called these “kindred spirits” or “bosom friends”, although I doubt Anne would charge you $500 to meet them. If you don’t know how to find your soul tribe, coaches can offer plenty of ways! Let’s count, shall we? There are “nine signs you’ve met your soul tribe.”  Or “11 signs you met someone from your soul tribe.”  Or “10 ways to attract your soul tribe.” I mean, if you don’t find your soul tribe by the time you finish reading this Morning File, it’s your own damn fault.
Now, here are some sentences in which I’ve seen these words used by coaches and the like. You tell me if any of this doesn’t sound like nonsense:
“The sacred art of setting goals”
“You want to provide greater currency to your soul”
“Where are you being called to show up more boldly?”
“You’re the proverbial onion, peeling away layer after layer to discover who you are underneath all the false beliefs and stories.”
“Sustain your commitment to your own evolution and spiritual growth by accelerating your transformation, embodying your unique medicine, and claiming the leader within.”
“Learning how to truly know yourself, to ‘normalize’ your emotions and experiences, to feel connected to others rather than separate, to tap into your life’s calling and knowing that your potential is endless, manifesting your true desires, and allowing all that is within YOU to come and Shine.”

Oh, here’s a line from a “soul doula:” “An important part of the birthing process is learning to engage in “full spectrum feeling” without avoiding or stuffing feelings which scare us or others. A Soul Doula understands that powerful emotional change can emerge as easily from laughter and dreaming as it can from grieving and raging.”

Here’s what really bothers me about all this language: it’s often directed at women. I know — I am a woman and this stuff is constantly in my social media feeds. It’s part of a bigger industry — like fad diets or Cosmopolitan magazine — built on ways to make women feel badly about themselves and their lives, and then getting those same women to pay someone like a “soul doula” or coach to help them fix it all, or worse, “have it all.” You can’t have it all and that’s okay!
This language is usually paired with photos of women, often attractive white women, spinning in fields or on the beach with their hands in the air. Sometimes there’s a quote from someone famous, like Albert Einstein, although I doubt that famous person said that actual quote.
If you don’t know this already, women aren’t allowed to be angry about anything, so this language is nice, polite, and comfortable. Maybe the women who use this language or approve of it are really pissed off on the inside, and this is a socially acceptable way for them to express it. If you’re a woman who doesn’t like or use this language, you’re called “negative.” I get this often because I have questions and opinions on issues, which is considered a no-no for women. A conversation might go like this:
Some people: “Live, love, laugh!”
Suzanne: “Just pay people more.”
Some people: “You’re so negative!”

And these coaches and self-help “experts” often talk about wealth, too, or “abundance,” even promising women they can help them make six-or-seven-figure salaries. That’s no accident because these industries are just the latest in get-rich-quick schemes.

I interview a lot of people, including experts in all sorts of fields I know little or nothing about. But all of these experts can explain their language and glossaries of terms to me in ways I can understand. And I am able to clearly write about what those experts told me in a way others can understand. But this bullshit language has me baffled for a long time, and frankly I’m annoyed. It’s the language of scams, so please beware.

Inevitably, someone will call me negative for even writing about this. But I can’t help it. I’m just being my authentic self.

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Noticed

A stuck truck on the MacKay Bridge in July 2020. Photo: Jay Parsons/Facebook

If you’re a commuter who takes the MacKay Bridge or you have a social media account, you’ve seen the photos of truck embarrassingly wedged into the tolls. (When it comes to the bridge tolls, size does matter.)

I thought of this yesterday when I read the tolls are going up in 2022. So, I called Halifax Harbour Bridges, left a message, and later in the day got a call back from Steve Snider, general manager and CEO.

A lot of trucks hit those tolls. According to Snider, 18 trucks hit them this year so far. That’s a record year for the collisions. In 2020, Snider said four truck drivers hit the tolls. Snider said he’s not sure why they did.

“Is it COVID fog, driver distraction, so much news going on, social media and people won’t get off their phone?” Snider said. “I don’t know.”

Snider recalled a “severe” collision to the tolls a couple of years ago by a truck driver who Snider said “cleaned the roof” of the toll. Snider said that driver had been using the bridge since it opened in 1970 so was very familiar with the bridge. The day of that collision was his second day back on his job after one year off. No one was injured in that case.

Just yesterday, Snider said, at a senior management team meeting the discussion of drivers hitting the tolls generated “as much discussion, if not more, than any other.” He said the engineering department and a traffic consultant have come up with a concept that might be in place before the end of the year that will warn drivers in high vehicles that they’re not in the right lane and that clearance is limited. Workers were doing measurements at the tolls Tuesday morning.

The changes will include new signage, which Snider described as “danglies”: the yellow-and-black signs you often see in parking garages.

Snider said the commission had considered moving to a cashless tolling operation and removing the toll plazas entirely to reduce the risk of these collisions happening.

While the photos of the stuck trucks make the rounds on social media and drivers are no doubt embarrassed, there has to be a potential for injuries, including for workers in the toll booths and the toll lanes.

Certainly, drivers have to pay attention as they’re driving across the bridge. Snider shared some advice.

You need to have your mind on task and your eyes on task. Watch what you’re doing and watch where you’re going and be very aware of your environment and what’s around you. When you’re coming to the toll plaza … this is where two lanes of traffic on the highway splay out to seven different lanes and pull back together again. We are looking at, in conjunction with other organizations, having a safety campaign, but the simple message from my perspective is truckers to the right. Truckers to the right.

And if you want to see all the photos of the trucks stuck in the tolls, you can get them in a 2022 calendar that someone put together, although this wasn’t commissioned by Halifax Harbour Bridges.

Photo: Stuck Truck.

On a related note, I remember driving across the MacKay with a former colleague. While she was driving through the tolls she hit the coin basket with her car. It happens, I thought, but then on the way back to the office, she hit that same basket AGAIN. That was the last time I was in a car with her.

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Government

City

Wednesday

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm) — via YouTube

Thursday

Board of Police Commissioners (Thursday, 12pm) — via YouTube

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm) — via YouTube

Province

No meetings this week


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Sustainability Series: What waste goes where (Wednesday, 12pm) — become a recycling champion with this Zoom workshop

Thursday

Energy matters: Axonal mitochondrial transport and energy metabolism in neuronal regeneration and degeneration (Thursday, 11am, Room 3H1, Tupper Building and online) — talk by Zu-Hang Sheng from The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health

Saint Mary’s

Wednesday

No events

Thursday

Building Leaders for the Future: Creating a Positive Impact Through Mentorship (Thursday, 11:30am) — Zoom webinar in advance of the Sobey Women in Business Symposium on October 15

King’s

Wednesday

No events

Thursday

Jungle flower workshop (Thursday, 6pm) — a space for those who have experienced abuse and sexual violence


In the harbour

Halifax
05:30: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
10:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
10:30: MSC Stella, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
16:00: MSC Veronique, container ship, arrives at anchorage from Sines, Portugal
22:00: Augusta Sun, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for Bilboa, Spain

Cape Breton
05:00: CSL Tarantau, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for Tampa, Florida
07:00: NS Laguna, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from New York
14:00: Paul A. Desgagnes, oil tanker, sails from Government Wharf (Sydney) for sea


Footnotes

The MacKay Bridge (or the “new bridge”) opened in July 1970.
I was born in November 1970, so you can start calling me the “new Suzanne.”

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Suzanne Rent

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

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15 Comments

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  1. Thanks, Suzanne! This was perfect. I noticed that you omitted the vaguely (?) masturbatory phrase “self-care” from your list. I have really started to resent people using this phrase in a prescriptive kind of way, as if one needs permission from some external source to consume a 600 g bag of chips for dinner while watching re-runs of Two and a Half Men. To cite a totally random example.

  2. Instagram is full of that psychobabble bullshit. And if you have enough followers, you can sell a workshop run and hosted by you – presumably in the avatar of your authentic self – to unsuspecting basic white women who truly believe that manifesting (aka thinking positively, like Rhonda Byrne in The Secret) will solve all their problems. As Suzanne writes, pointing out the emptiness of motivational argot only results in recriminations.

  3. Right-on to every point raised in Rent’s rant regarding authentic selfhood and the rest of it. I subscribe to all her insights and to The Halifax Examiner exactly because all its reporters skewer spewers of bullshit like that every day. Thank you!

  4. Great expose of bullshit language Suzanne. It is also ubiquitous amongst “human resource” people (or, as they are now sometimes called, “talent management” or “people and performance”) and management, especially those who take Lean Management training.

    This would be a good as a weekly feature. Every week go at the bullshit language from a different sector. And you are right that the language is mostly meaningless, the people speaking it don’t know what it means but they know those to whom they are speaking think it means something important. It doesn’t.

    1. Love this article! Agree that Suzanne consider a weekly feature on language nonsense…but I kind of feel sorry for her having to wade all through that!

  5. Has anyone else wondered why the toll plaza has roofed lanes? Is a purpose served, apart from momentary shelter as folks pass through and toss their token / coins? Why not just remove them?

      1. Rain and snow and ice could build up in coin collectors and cause issues. That is my thought.
        Otherwise they would have to clean them out often to make sure nothing prevented coins from going in.

    1. They need a $250,000 consultant to describe that obvious solution you should put “and associates” after your name and send that to the Bridge Commission with a big invoice.

    2. Removing the roof and widening the lanes might reduce the number of crashes at the toll booths, but it’s alarming that professional drivers and others with large vehicles routinely hit a large, stationary, permanent object with flashing lights in an area where people are supposed to be driving slowly and cautiously. If drivers are that unaware of their surroundings and their vehicle size, they pose a danger to others on the road.

  6. The toll bridge phenomenon is really interesting. It is not like we are seeing a spike in car accidents in general. What changed? Does COVID-19 make people really bad at negotiating bridge tolls? Is there turnover in the trucking industry making the average driver less experienced?

    1. Some of the lanes are also too narrow for large vehicles, so if the roof doesn’t cause a jam, the sides will.