1. Province misses deadline for child care funding, says it doesn’t matter
Yvette d’Entremont reports on the latest in federal-provincial child care funding — which is a lot more interesting than I’m making it sound with that phrase.
Child care is expensive and hard to find. Parents are struggling, and the province missed a federal deadline, leaving NDP leader Claudia Chender wondering if that meant Nova Scotia would be ineligible for $123 million in federal funding.
So, d’Entremont interviews Becky Druhan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, who tells her the missed deadline is not a cause for concern:
“The timing of the finalizing of our action plan has no impact at all on the availability of funding right now for the work that’s underway,” Becky Druhan said in an interview with the Halifax Examiner on Thursday.
“We will not leave any funding on the table this year or throughout the course of the agreement.”
Meanwhile, the province has created many child care spaces, but also lost a whole lot:
A freedom of information request filed by the Nova Scotia NDP and released in June found that of the 1,500 new child care spots in centres and through family home providers expected by the end of 2022, the government had only opened 28 net new spaces province-wide as of May 2023.
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development said Thursday that as of June 30, 2023 it had created more than 2,000 spaces, but they lost 884 spaces due to closures.
2. St. FX sexual assault suit
Blair Rhodes reports for CBC that St. FX is “trying to reassure students” after a former student filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming it did not do enough to protect her and others. The woman is one of four people who have accused former St. FX football player Teddy Jegede of sexual assault. He has been charged by the RCMP with four counts of sexual assault.
“We want to assure the campus community that our policies and procedures related to sexual violence are survivor-centred and trauma-informed,” said a statement issued by the university Wednesday night.
But the woman disputes that. In a statement she issued after her lawsuit was filed, she wrote that multiple students were sexually harassed and assaulted, something that was enabled by the university’s “failure to take a survivor-centred and trauma-informed approach to sexual violence.”
“Trauma-informed” has become a catch-all about as meaningless as “natural” is in the grocery store aisles. To be clear, actually being trauma informed is a good thing. We have ignored and downplayed the effects of trauma for far too long. When people who have been assaulted talk about wanting trauma-informed procedures, they rightly want to be respected and treated humanely. When institutions say they are being trauma-informed, it is all too often a cover for whatever they are not doing.
Shaina Luck continues her coverage for CBC of the events of Aug. 18, 2021, when police forcibly removed people and their belongings from encampments, pepper-spraying dozens of protesters, and using their bicycles as weapons.
In documents obtained by CBC under access to information, HRP deemed its “overall objectives were completed” and said no officers did anything wrong.
You should read Luck’s full story, but I’ll point to a couple of things here. First, is how integral the use of bike cops was to the evictions. Bicycles can go places cars can’t, they can move quickly, and the bicycles themselves can serve as both vehicles and weapons:
The documents released to CBC show HRP’s Bicycle Rapid Response Team was an integral part of the crowd-control response.
Three officers, including one who identified themselves as the team leader, wrote about using the “chest push” or “bike pushback” technique on the crowd, as they had been trained to do.
The officers wrote they warned protesters in advance, sometimes struck protesters with bikes as they pushed them back and that protesters tried to punch, kick or grab the bikes.
The other is the question of officer injuries. We should always be skeptical when we hear police are using force in self-defence, or when, after the fact, we hear that police were injured as a justification for their own use of force.
After Aug. 18, we heard repeatedly about the officer injuries, implicitly if not explicitly, as a justification for their use of force. So, what were those injuries?
Most injuries didn’t require professional medical attention, including a rolled ankle, scrapes and bruises, a bite on the right hand and soreness caused by falling to the ground.
One officer said they had been pushing protesters back for a long time and later realized their ribs were sore and breathing was painful. A chiropractor said a rib popped out of place.
Another officer reported going to hospital for a suspected concussion after being “struck with an apple.”
Another filed a Workers Compensation Board report that included being “pepper-sprayed by protesters,” and some records stated the officer who was pepper-sprayed in the face had to go to hospital.
A “suspected concussion” caused by an apple, a bite that presumably did not pierce the skin since it did not require medical attention, and a rib popped out because of pushing protesters too hard? Also, it was treated by a chiropractor?
As I say, it’s worth reading Luck’s full story.
Suzanne Rent and I were trying to recall if she had written a piece for the Examiner on a sunflower farm in Nova Scotia upset about people trampling their plants in search of selfies. She wrote something but not sure where.
Anyway, a sunflower farm in England is now pleading with people to stop getting naked for photoshoots around the plants. From the BBC:
Stoke Fruit Farm on Hayling Island said it had an “increase of reports of naked photography taking place” at its Sam’s Sunflowers visitor attraction.
One visitor said her son stumbled across a woman wearing “just a thong” and “didn’t know where to look”.
I want to know if this is thong as in thong underwear, or thong as in slip-on sandal. Back to the story:
Sam Wilson, who runs the site at Northney, confirmed there had been a few “isolated incidents” of nudity.
He said there had been reports of four naked photo shoots since the flower-picking fields opened on 28 July, three of which had been on the same day.
Mr Wilson said: “We have always had photo shoots here but they are always respectfully done and it’s always organised so other people are not affected.
“People are having fun and taking pictures for their Instagram but we just ask that they keep their clothes on.”
I had not realized it — should spend more time on Instagram, I guess? — but sunflower photoshoots are a thing. And those big, bold flowers are just the right size to cover up our naughty bits, so I guess the temptation is irresistible for some.
A very cursory image search turns up plenty of examples. You will be shocked to realize there is something of a sameness to them. Here are a couple from Pinterest.
If any of our sunflowers bloom, I will not be revealing their location.
5. If you’re travelling to Ottawa, don’t forget to visit the food bank
Yesterday, Paris Marx of the Tech Won’t Save Us podcast, shared a link to an AI-generated article on Microsoft Bing Travel (I know, it already sounds nightmarish), with top tips on where to go and what to do in Ottawa. The article seems to have disappeared, but fortunately, I grabbed a few screenshots.
Most of the places and activities the article recommends are fine: go to a Senators game, visit Parliament Hill, see the Rideau Canal. But the AI has not provided any particularly compelling reason to visit any of them. It’s all platitudes and very basic history, plus tenuously connected facts. Why should you go to a Senators game? AI says:
Ottawa, as Canada’s capital, draws visitors from around the world who come to see its historic buildings and landmarks, experience its arts and culture, and take in the sights and sounds. Denis Potvin and Mike Gartner are two NHL heroes from Ottawa, and even Canada’s prime minister (a Montreal supporter) pushed the country to support the Senators during their recent [????] Stanley Cup run.
Now, imagine this kind of thing over and over again. There is absolutely no point to this. It benefits nobody except Microsoft, which can provide bullshit travel advice without having to pay a writer.
The Ottawa piece would probably have gone unnoticed, and just stayed up with its bullshit bland recommendations, if it wasn’t for one recommended attraction in the piece: The Ottawa Food Bank.
The organization has been collecting, purchasing, producing, and delivering food to needy people and families in the Ottawa area since 1984. We observe how hunger impacts men, women, and children on a daily basis, and how it may be a barrier to achievement. People who come to us have jobs and families to support, as well as expenses to pay. Life is already difficult enough. Consider going on an empty stomach.
1. Ship of Theseus, rock band edition
While heading off to P.E.I. last week, I saw this CBC story by Richard Woodbury, about singer Myles Goodwyn stepping back from April Wine. Goodwyn is 75 now and he’s kind of had it with touring. Woodbury writes that Goodwyn “is playing shows that are mostly within driving distance.” (I did notice he was going to be performing in P.E.I. — meets the criteria.)
Goodwyn was the last original member of April Wine left, but the band is preparing a new album, with a new singer. This leads me, naturally, to think about one of Tim Bousquet’s and my favourite thought experiments: the Ship of Theseus. (The last time Bousquet wrote about this was in May. The first time, for the Examiner anyway, was back in 2014, in reference to the Bluenose.)
What’s the Ship of Theseus? The Wikipedia entry offers a nice and concise summary:
According to legend, Theseus, the mythical Greek founder-king of Athens, rescued the children of Athens from King Minos after slaying the minotaur and then escaped onto a ship going to Delos. Each year, the Athenians commemorated this by taking the ship on a pilgrimage to Delos to honor Apollo. A question was raised by ancient philosophers: After several centuries of maintenance, if each individual part of the Ship of Theseus was replaced, one at a time, was it still the same ship?
If no original members of April Wine are left, is it still April Wine?
This question arises fairly regularly when it comes to bands that have been around a long time. Sometimes the band is really one person and their creative force. Whoever they are playing with is the band. The Fall fell into this category, with dozens of musicians having been part of the lineup. (There are so many, there’s an entire book dedicated to tracking them all down.) The Fall was Mark E. Smith, and whoever he played with. As he famously once said, “If it’s me and yer granny on bongos, it’s the Fall.”
A couple of weekends ago we saw the band By Divine Right at Sappyfest (more on that below). I wasn’t familiar with By Divine Right, but they have been around since 1989. The band is led by José Miguel Contreras. The band’s official bio describes the lineup as “ever-evolving,” although it has been stable since 2010. And it’s not exactly the same circumstance as, say, April Wine or The Fall, because it was one of those early 2000s collective efforts, with members coming and going. Still, the question of what constitutes the band is a salient one.
I am pretty sure the excellent Sound Opinions podcast did an episode on this, but I spent far too long unsuccessfully trying to find it this morning. I recall them discussing the case of Dennis DeYoung, singer for Styx, touring with the Styx name as part of the draw, while Styx toured without him. (In a nice nod to the absurdity of it all, DeYoung played the singer of a Styx cover band in a 2005 film.)
If you go see the Beach Boys in Truro with only one original member, are you seeing the Beach Boys? And more to the point, if you did actually go see them in Truro in 2016… why?
Then there are the acts like Foreigner, which at one point had no original members. If you saw them during this era, were you just overpaying for a cover band? What’s the difference between a cover band and a band with no members from their original, or their definitive lineup?
If you replace all the parts of the Ship of Theseus, is it still the same ship?
I thought I would get all meandering and philosophical here, but time is short, and I spent way longer than I expected on the Ship of Theseus bit. So, all I will say is that I realized again over the past month how much I value the experience of live music, especially going to small and mid-sized shows, seeing performers you’ve never heard of, performers whose music has meant a lot at various life stages, performers you’ve meant to catch up on.
A few weeks ago, we saw Ruth Minnikin at the Labour Day Picnic Cafe in Glen Haven. There were maybe 25 people there. Minnikin used to be a member of the Guthries. We saw them in the early 2000s, when we had young kids and were exhausted, and even though I liked the band I slept through the whole show, waking up only long enough to clap after each song. At Labour Day Picnic, Minnikin was playing mostly solo, accompanied on some songs by her brother Gabriel, another ex-Guthrie, and Anna Plaskett, a music therapist who joked that she usually plays for children.
Minnikin, who is the manager of the local food bank, was quiet, vulnerable, and shy. She told us that a mutual friend, a local artist, had encouraged her to come out and perform. She played one new experimental piece and prefaced it by saying she couldn’t believe she was doing this, and then urged herself to be brave. When she forgot one of the verses she got a laugh by telling us we would have to come to the next show to hear the rest of the song.
It was not slick or fancy, but it was raw, real, and beautiful.
We spent the first weekend of August at Sappyfest in Sackville, New Brunswick, a wonderfully quirky little festival where performers finish their sets, then typically head straight into the audience to watch the next band. When Jing Xia, who moved to Newfoundland and Labrador from China eight years ago, said from the stage that she had recently finished her PhD, a loud whoop went up from one audience member. It was Aquakultre, the next evening’s headliner, taking in the show along with his family. One performer powered through solo after telling us her bandmate couldn’t make it because they were sick with COVID.
Last night, we stopped by Radstorm on Gottingen for an all-ages punk show featuring four bands. The room was small and crowded, and the music was loud. The singer from one of the bands flopped down at the merch table after their set, hot, sweaty, and exhausted, but still up for talking to people coming to buy t-shirts.
I’m not trying to be snobby about the superiority of small shows. God knows, I’ve spent plenty of money over the years travelling to see artists playing stadium shows. But there is little spontaneity to these affairs. Mr. Bob Dylan being the exception — you never know what you’re going to get. Maybe you’ll hear a song he recorded decades ago being played live for the first time. Maybe you’ll hear the same setlist as the previous show.
Live local music, like live local theatre, is ephemeral and beautiful, and at its best, deeply meaningful.
There, I did get kind of philosophical after all.
In the harbour
05:30: ZIM Virginia, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Valencia, Spain
06:50: MSC Qingdao, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Baltimore, Maryland
14:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, moves from Pier 41 to Pier 31
14:45: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Baltimore, Maryland
15:30: CMA CGM Amerigo Vespucci, container ship (152,991 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Tanger Med, Morocco
15:45: MSC Qingdao sails for sea
16:30: ZIM Virginia sails for New York
17:00: A.R.C. Gloria, the Columbian navy’s sailing ship, sails from Tall Ship Quay for sea
18:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for St. John’s
18:00: Nolhanava moves to Pier 42
22:00: Nolhanava sails for Saint-Pierre
Saturday cruise ship: Viking Polaris (up to 378 passengers)
If you want a little taste of Christmas in August, head to Peggy’s Cove, where a Hallmark movie (or so I am told) is being shot, complete with fake snow.