1. Province records 99th death from COVID-19
A man in his 70s who lived in Nova Scotia Health’s Western Zone has died from COVID-19. He is the 99th person to die from the disease in the province.
Additionally, Nova Scotia today announced 57 new cases of COVID-19 over three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
There are currently 11 people in hospital with COVID-19, two of whom are in the ICU. Our total active case count is down considerably from this time last week, and now stands at 152.
Yesterday, Bousquet mentioned the small party Examiner folks held for him. Examiner office manager Iris, who did the heavy lifting on making the shindig happen, suggested everyone do a COVID self-test ahead of the party. With rapid self-testing kits readily available, and with tests easy to do at home this seems like a good practice to adopt generally before gatherings, particularly as the holiday season sets in.
2. Oppressed landlords, and more tales from the Law Amendments Committee
This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to the public debate around housing, landlords feel we have been the political punching bags of all three parties,” said Kevin Russell, the executive director of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia (IPONS).
Russell was speaking last night at a meeting of the Law Amendments Committee on a bill that will make changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. It will require landlords to compensate tenants financially if they are evicted while the building is being upgraded. Other changes affect the return of damage deposits and a 2% cap on rent increase for two years.
Russell represents a group of 160 property owners who control 45,000 rental units across the province. He said half of them are small business owners and despite promises made during the recent provincial election campaign, the PC government did not engage in meaningful consultation with his group before introducing the proposed changes.
“The housing system is broken and has been neglected by all political parties for years,” said Russell. “Where are the amendments to protect good landlords from bad tenants?” he asked. “Bad tenants who destroy property that costs thousands of dollars to repair? Bad tenants who run criminal operations out of apartments? Bad tenants who refuse to leave and who won’t pay the rent? Bad tenants with serious addictions? None of the changes in Bill 30 will address any of these issues.”
Russell said the current Residential Tenancies Act pits landlords against tenants but many of the problems could be solved if the regulations were enforced.
What his group suggests is that Nova Scotia follow the example of British Columbia. Two years ago B.C. set up a Compliance and Enforcement Unit and staffed it so that complaints from both sides could be dealt with in a timely fashion. In Nova Scotia, it’s not unusual for disputes between landlords and tenants to take years to resolve.
The Chief Administrative Officer for the Halifax Regional Municipality, Jacques Dubé, spoke in support of proposed amendments to the Municipal Charter that will allow the city to offer financial incentives to private developers and non-profit housing groups to build more affordable housing.
Another amendment will provide for inclusionary zoning, a tool Dubé said Mayor Mike Savage had requested from the previous Liberal government five years ago. The zoning amendment will give HRM the ability to require affordable units in new developments.
Dubé said HRM can’t fix the housing issue alone and requested “assistance” from the province to monitor who should be eligible to get affordable housing and define what “affordable” means.
Harry Critchley, a senior law student and housing advocate in HRM, spoke about what he sees as “a glaring omission” in the proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.
Critchley said no provision currently exists in the act to protect homeless people who can spend months and even years in extended-stay hotels. Critchley said hotels have been one route the province has taken to combat the growing crisis of homelessness, but people housed in this way have no rights under the act and can be evicted at will. Critchley asked that the legislation be amended to offer some protection to long-term residents of hotels.
The Committee also heard from several presenters who oppose changes to the Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act, Bill 24, which was introduced to help speed up the review process for applications of open net pen aquaculture sites.
The bill proposes adding seven new board members to the existing three, and it also allows the board chair to empower one member to hear several applications at once. The legislation was introduced six days ago.
Geoff LeBoutillier spoke on behalf of the Healthy Bays Coalition, which he said represents up to 10,000 members scattered among many South Shore communities. Healthy Bays opposes the expansion of fish farming sites in the ocean but supports contained, land-based operations.
LeBoutillier noted that although Fisheries Minister Steve Craig’s mandate letter from Premier Tim Houston orders him to consult with groups such as Health Bays, Craig has had made no attempt to do so.
LeBoutillier questioned the haste with which the bill is moving and whether the new board members appointed will have the expertise to monitor the impact of fecal matter from the pens on species at risk, such as Atlantic salmon. He asked the Committee to slow down the process and finished by saying “We do not have confidence in Bill 24.”
The committee also heard from representatives from the Atlantic Salmon Federation and East Coast Environmental Law, a public interest advocacy group.
3. Black News File
Matthew Byard has published his latest Black News File, recapping the week’s stories. This time, Byard’s roundup includes a remembrance of Laura Daye, who died last week at age 90, a look at the workplace death last year of The Brick employee Martin David, and a conversation with musician and barber Tremayne “Trobiz” Howe. And there is much more. Please read the whole thing.
(I got my hair cut last week by a barber/musician who works in a shop with another barber/musician, and this got me wondering how common this combination is.)
As someone who has never been a day-in-day-out journalist, I am amazed at the sheer number of good stories Byard and other talented reporters like him can produce in a week.
4. North Atlantic right whales in even more desperate circumstances than previously thought
Frances Willick reports for CBC on the latest North Atlantic right whale population estimate, and the news is not good.
The estimate, from the 40-member North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium is that there are only 336 Atlantic right whales left on the planet. A decade ago there were an estimated 481 whales.
The reason for the decline is no mystery. Willick writes:
“There is no question that human activities are driving this species toward extinction,” Scott Kraus, the chair of the consortium, said in a news release Monday morning.
Entanglements in fishing gear and vessel strikes are among the biggest threats to the survival of the North Atlantic right whale.
New England aquarium senior scientist Philip Hamilton tells Willick this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line for the right whales, but we need to see more changes to protect them:
“Right whales are a very resilient species. They’ve come back from much lower numbers than this in the past, probably at least twice, and so we know that they can. The question is whether or not we’ll be able to implement really effective management efforts to … stop killing them and also minimize the impact of sublethal effects,” he said.
“So don’t toss in the towel on these guys. Let’s just keep working toward a solution that will help them and hopefully help the rest of the ocean.”
5. No, there is no plan to cut down Schmidtville trees for bike lanes
I’ve got to hand it to the Friends of Schmidtville. They know how to get the word out and get media coverage for their causes.
Yesterday, I and other journalists got an email from the group, expressing their fears that dozens of mature trees will be cut down for a bike lane on Morris Street:
HRM is moving toward the next phase of its bicycle lane network in Peninsula South. We residents are especially anxious about the threat to the mature urban forest on Morris Street and other streets where bike lanes could go.
Last October, at a meeting of the Peninsula South Complete Streets Advisory Committee city staff mentioned, among other options, the removal of up to 48 trees on Morris Street to widen it for the bike lanes. HRM staff members asked participants to keep this option secret. This suggestion is so outrageous that it makes a mockery of HRM’s attempt to green the city by promoting alternatives to private automobiles.
The trees-down option, since confirmed by city officials, alarms us as our trees are an essential part of the character of the south end neighbourhoods.
You will notice a key part of this that is not in bold. In case you missed it, let me add emphasis for you:
Last October, at a meeting of the Peninsula South Complete Streets Advisory Committee city staff mentioned, among other options, the removal of up to 48 trees…
In other words, there is no plan to remove these trees. There are a number of options under consideration. This is one of them.
Six different options were discussed at a meeting Oct. 14, including four involving Morris Street. As many as 30 of 48 trees could be cut down if the street is used…
Another route would use Bishop and Clyde streets — a move resident William Breckenridge calls “just insanity.”
In other words, several options are under consideration.
In today’s Chronicle Herald, Stuart Peddle reports on the “possible plan.”
The group will hold a news conference on Tuesday at noon in front of Saint Mary’s Elementary School on Morris Street and plan to place banners on the trees to let the public know about the plan.
“We actually put together an alternative – a very viable alternative proposal, which would ensure that not a single tree comes down in our community, and the city is not interested in this proposal because they’re really interested in having the most perfect bike lane, but at what cost? At what expense?” [says Lara Cusson of the group.]
Halifax has a consultation process for the bike lane project, and it has a timeline, which looks like this:
Look, more power to a group who are media savvy and effective at getting their message out. They are good at it. And clearly they want to get ahead of the process and ensure the option they are concerned about is not the one that goes forward. Of course it may still happen, but we are still far from a plan to cut down 48 mature trees.
6. Rankin calls cops on Gnazdowsky after meeting at dog park
On the weekend, Nicole Gnazdowsky went to the park, as one does. And so, it turns out, did Liberal leader Iain Rankin — Gnazdowsky’s MLA.
Gnazdowsky is the sister of Andrew Gnazdowsky, who died on the job a year ago at a Nova Scotia Power site. Since then, she has been labelled a “hostile individual” by the provincial government, thanks to her dogged attempts to get answers about what happened to her brother.
I pulled up into the parking lot, and I look in the mirror and I see Rankin is right beside me,” Gnazdowsky said in an interview on Monday. “So of course I’m going to go and talk to him.”
The Examiner has seen a video of the interaction. Standing between Rankin and his vehicle, Gnazdowsky filmed with her phone as she scolded Rankin for his inaction and asked him to help her. Rankin said he did help her, getting her the meeting with Montgomerie and the other officials in the Department of Labour. Gnazdowsky asked Rankin to get her a meeting with the new deputy minister in the department, and Rankin said he’s not in government any more.
Rankin pleaded with Gnazdowsky to get out of the way of the driver’s side door to his vehicle. Gnazdowsky refused, but he was able to access the rear doors and get his dog out of the vehicle. The Liberal leader eventually made a phone call. Another vehicle arrived shortly after and Rankin picked up his dog and walked toward it before the video ended. Gnazdowsky said he left.
After Gnazdowsky returned home, she got a call from the RCMP.
Once home, she got a phone call from a Const. Wagner with the Tantallon RCMP detachment. The Examiner has listened to a recording of the call.
“You can’t communicate with him when he’s out walking his dog,” Wagner told Gnazdowsky. “You have to go through the proper channels.”
Cooking eggs is highly skilled labour
I read a lot of novels, but I am terrible at remembering their plots. Often what sticks with me in books I love is an overall impression, and often some seemingly minor plot point that resonates. Ask me who did it in most of the two dozen Spenser whodunnits I read last year and I likely won’t be able to tell you.
But non-fiction? That sticks with me. There’s one story I’ve thought about (no exaggeration) at least once a week since I read it in 2005. And now seems like a particularly good time to revisit it.
It’s called The Egg Men, and it’s written by Burkhard Bilger and was published in The New Yorker in August 2005.
The opening paragraph is a thing of beauty:
Las Vegas is a city built by breakfast specials. Sex and gambling, too, of course, and divorce and vaudeville and the creative use of neon. But the energy for all that vice had to come from somewhere, and mostly it came from eggs. In the early days, when depositing your savings in machines designed to cheat you still seemed a dubious proposition, the casinos offered cut-rate rooms and airfares. And eggs, always eggs. “They used to line up down the hall for the ninety-nine-cent special,” a cook from the old Lindy’s café in the Flamingo told me. “One time, so much grease built up in the ceiling that it came down the walls and set fire to the flat-tops. Pretty soon, the hood caught on fire and the extinguishers went off with that chemical that looks like smoke, and then the Fire Department came in. Everybody just kept on eating. They said, ‘Does this mean my food will take longer now?’ ”
Lindy’s became the Tropical Breeze Café, and at the time Bilger was writing, it went through a million eggs a year.
Early in the story we are introduced to the restaurant’s egg men (one of whom is a woman) by head chef Scott Gutstein:
“O.K., here’s the lineup,” he said. “We’ve got Martin, the omelette man, and Joel on over-easies. René is doing pancakes and French toast — he’s so strong, he just pushes it out — and we have Debbie on the eggs Benedict. I’m not used to watching women cook in high-stress situations, but she’s surprised the shit out of me. She kicks ass. Frankie will do the steak and eggs, and Edgar will fill in for whoever is taking a break.” He grinned. “You can’t hurt these guys. I mean, I’ve been all over the country in all kinds of kitchens. I’ve worked in New Jersey. I’ve worked in L.A. I thought I saw the best, but these guys? Nasty.
Bilger is well-suited to write the story, having been a diner short-order cook himself, and cracked his share of eggs into pans in a hippie-style Seattle joint called Julia’s that Far Side creator Gary Larson used to frequent.
But he can’t hold a candle to these Vegas cooks.
In the early weeks, I ruined several hundred eggs learning to crack them one-handed and flip them in the pan…
But mostly I just tried to keep up…
I once heard that we made an average of three hundred and fifty meals every morning, which seemed an astonishing number. Yet the other cooks never seemed fazed. They cracked eggs two at a time without breaking the yolks and kept four, five, or six pans going simultaneously. They moved with such unvarying precision that some suffered from repetitive-stress injuries.
Here’s where we get to the timeliness bit. As you no doubt have heard, restaurants are facing staffing shortages. Line cook is one of the professions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection for workers. You’re in an enclosed hot space for hours at a time.
On August 3 of this year, the New York Times podcast The Daily devoted an episode to the issue of businesses — primarily restaurants — having trouble finding staff and the reasons cooks and waitstaff don’t want to return to their pre-pandemic jobs.
Restaurant owner Shannen Tune tells Times reporter Diana Nguyen:
I have never seen it like this before in my entire career. I’ve been doing this for over 25 years, and I have never seen it so hard to find cooks. The issue that I am seeing is that, you know, a cook with even minimal experience wants top dollar pay.
Former restaurant cook Caleb Orth says he considered taking on a new restaurant job, but then noticed how his life has changed since he got out of the kitchen:
I started to notice how well rested I was.
The bags that were under my eyes forever — for years — went away. My feet stopped hurting, and I never had really thought about how much my feet hurt all the time, but they did. My back stopped hurting. I was going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking at a reasonable hour, rather than going to bed at, like, 4:00 in the morning and waking up at 11:00 AM. And I was eating healthy and exercising.
In the Times podcast, Tune, the owner of a burger joint laments:
I was paying cooks pre-pandemic with some experience — like, you know, an entry-level position was, like, $12 bucks. My experienced people got 15 or more. And now I’ve had people ask for $20 an hour. And we are a burger restaurant. $20 an hour to flip burgers is ridiculous.
In The Egg Men, Bilger notes that as fast-food restaurants have largely replaced diners, “What was once a skilled profession [is] now largely the province of part-timers and students on summer break.”
These are considered low-skill jobs. But the people performing them are anything but low-skilled. Bilger gets Gutstein, the Tropical Breeze head chef, to let him man a station before the morning rush begins.
After a few days, I could crack seven or eight eggs in a row without breaking a yolk—good enough for Julia’s but not for a rush at the café. When Joel cracked eggs, his fingers were as loose and precise as a jazz guitarist’s. He held one egg between his thumb and his first two fingers, another curled against his palm. He rapped the first egg on the rim of the pan, twisted it into hemispheres, and opened it as cleanly as if it were a Fabergé Easter egg. As the spent shell fell into the trash, he shuttled the second egg into position, as if pumping a rifle. He was proud of this little move. It saved him about a second versus having to grab an egg from the bin. If he cracked six thousand eggs a week, the move saved him about an hour; in a year, it saved him more than a week.
The egg flip had to be equally flawless but allowed for more personal flair. I often wished that I had a slow-motion film of the different cooks doing it. Edgar Lopez, the sassy Salvadoran who filled in for those on break, liked to throw his eggs high into the air, like salsa dancers, catch them at the top of their arc, and let them slide vertically down the pan. Joel gave his eggs a quick little jerk, so that they stood up on edge and swung over like a door on a hinge. Martin barely moved his pan at all. His eggs just seemed to roll over on command. As for mine, they’d catapult up and turn an eager circle in the air, but every fourth or fifth pair would belly flop in the pan and spring a leak.
Of course, these are cooks at the top of their game. They are more in demand. But they are still doing a tough job, and they stick with it for years. Why? Well, they each have their own reasons, but there is one big one that stands out in the story:
Why do they all stay? I wondered. What keeps them here, of all places? For most, the answer seemed to lie in the union buttons on their shirts…
[The casinos] pay a living wage, provide health insurance and pensions, and give their employees a certain leeway.
Back in 2005, the cooks were making $15 an hour. This is what Shannen Tune’s “experienced people” were making 15 years later, and with no union protection.
A few days ago I learned about a Swedish phenomenon called “fulpizza.” And it seems to be the Swedish equivalent of the donair. When I say equivalent, I’m not talking about ingredients or presentation, but its place in the culture as a beloved yet awful food frequently eaten by those who may have imbibed a bit too much.
In an article called 5 Swedish food mistakes you only make once, the website The Local Sweden warned about mixing up finpizza and fulpizza. Finpizza, you see, is what you and I would likely think of when we use the word pizza.
Fulpizza though? Well, I’ll let Becky Waterton from The Local explain:
Fulpizza – roughly translated as “ugly pizza” – is the kind of pizza you can get at the pizzerias in every small Swedish town. These pizzerias are often the Swedish version of the area’s local pub, usually incomplete without a well-stocked bar and a wall of gambling machines. Pizzas ordered in this kind of pizzeria are a far cry from traditional Italian recipes, with common pizza toppings including banana, chips, bearnaise sauce, kebab meat, and even pasta carbonara. A local pizzeria near where I live in Malmö even offers a pizza topped with banana, pineapple, peanuts and curry powder.
As if that wasn’t enough, fulpizza is always accompanied by pizzasallad – a salad made from thinly sliced white cabbage mixed with vinegar, salt and pepper.
I’ve been scrolling through Twitter enjoying fulpizza pictures.
This one kind of looks like a donair pizza, minus sauce and cheese.
I am equal parts curious and horrified by this one. Would like to know what that sauce is.
Can we get someone to open up a fulpizza place in Halifax?
And while we’re at it, maybe a French tacos place too?
Oh, and the other Swedish food mistakes? Putting fermented milk in your coffee, buying a caramelized soft brown cheese instead of butter, licorice-related errors, and, of course, “putting the wrong kind of anchovies in your Janssons.”
Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm) — via YouTube
Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)
Rossetti-Watson Travel Scholarship Exhibition (Tuesday, 12pm, Exhibition Room, School of Architecture) — the findings of six Master of Architecture students who received a scholarship for thesis-related travel and research
Proof Assistants in Practice (Tuesday, 2:30pm, location not listed) — Zachary Murray will explain:
History shows that formal foundations for mathematics are worth studying, but, out of sheer impracticality, one rarely hand writes a formal proof. Proof assistants offer at least a partial solution in automation, but there are still serious questions regarding their practicality, most notably the extent to which automation helps, their ease of use, and why we should trust a proof assistant. We will investigate such concerns practically by exploring the Agda proof assistant and discussing my work on a constructive analysis library in Agda.
For more info email this person.
Rossetti-Watson Travel Scholarship Exhibition (Wednesday, 12pm, Exhibition Room, School of Architecture) — the findings of six Master of Architecture students who received a scholarship for thesis-related travel and research
Safe Space for White Questions (Wednesday, 2pm) — A series of free, public, monthly drop-in sessions that are open to all but aimed at people who identify as white and are interested in working toward collective liberation. Come ask the questions about race, racism, social change, and social justice you wondered about. Live-streamed via Fernwood Publishing’s YouTube channel.
Destigmatizing the impact of trauma and PTSD (Wednesday, 2:30pm) — Session 6 of the Moral Courage: Dallaire Cleveringa Critical Conversation Series. This conversation focuses on the stigmatization of trauma and PTSD, which continue to be difficult topics to talk about for both individuals and communities. But stigmatization has a price, since prolonged time to diagnosis can impact the efficacy of treatment. How might we best destigmatize these injuries so that we can help people recover and minimize the impact? Register here.
Multifaceted Role of Transcription Factor EB in Breast Cancer Pathobiology (Wednesday, 4pm) — Logan Slade will talk. Get the link here.
Communities, Conservation and Livelihoods (Wednesday, 12pm, LI 135, Patrick Power Library) — author Tony Charles discusses his new and freely-available book which “focuses on the role of local communities, around the world, in conserving their environment while sustaining their local economies and livelihoods.” Register here.
In the harbour
05:30: Felicity Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
06:00: Vivienne Sheri D, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
10:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 36 from St. John’s
11:30: Felicity Ace sails for sea
13:00: Vivienne Sheri D sails for Portland
15:00: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from St. John’s
15:30: MSC Lisbon, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
16:00: CMA CGM T. Jefferson, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
18:00: Tufty, bulker, sails from Pier 28 for sea
07:00: MM Newfoundland, barge, and Beverly M I, tug, arrive at Sydport from Gaspé, Quebec
16:00: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from New York
19:00: Atlantic Sealion, barge, and Atlantic Beech, tug, arrive at Libey Pier (Sydney) from Baker Lake, Nunavut
Went to see Dune last night. First movie in theatre since Little Women, in early 2020. The guy beside me kept his mask on the whole time.