Welcome to the rat days of summer

When did we realize we had finally entered the deeps of the news-challenged rat… er, dog days of summer?

Was it when that story about the number of rats per city block in Halifax—75; You count ‘em, I’ll pass—made CBC Radio’s marquee World at Six news show last week?

Or perhaps it was when we read yet another haven’t-we-read-this-already news story. Can you say Lance Armstrong does drugs?


Or was it when some city councilor started musing about administering lie detector tests to his fellow councilors—why not just put them in a room with the 75 rats!—to find out which politician-rat was spilling their secrets to the press. (Earth to councilor: the best way stop all the leaks at city hall is to stop writing so many silly secret memos.)

Or perhaps we can mark this summer’s real news-less, madness-begins moment as the instant when Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and his New Brunswick counterpart Shawn Graham launched their choreographed video two-step at last week’s premiers’ conference in Winnipeg. The purpose: to convince Canadians to vote early and often for the “magnificent” Bay of Fundy, the only home-country contender remaining in a New Seven Wonders of Nature competition.

While acknowledging his province had a few pressing problems—“With a small, aging population that suffers from a high rate of chronic diseases, Nova Scotia is forced to find ways to deliver better health care while keeping costs down”—Dexter described his Fundy fun as a meeting “highlight.”

Dexter even managed to invoke the name of Nova Scotia’s iconic Joseph Howe. “Joseph Howe used to brag about the high tides at the Bay of Fundy, and rightly so,” Dexter intoned.

Well, not quite. It’s worth contextualizing what our unwilling Father of the Federations actually said—probably also in the middle of an August heat wave. “Boys, brag of your country,” Howe declared. “When I’m abroad, I brag of everything that Nova Scotia is, has, or can produce; and when they beat me at everything else, I turn around on them and say: “How high does your tide rise?’

How low can we go? It’s only August 9.

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