Positive thinking fails to protect Tory
Amid backlash over claims self-awareness can alleviate cancer, N.L. candidate resigns
Tina Olivero, an entrepreneur, publisher and erstwhile politician in Newfoundland and Labrador is a strong believer in the power of positive thinking.
But as she somewhat rudely discovered this week, not even good thoughts could fend off the media storm whipped up after the candidate for the provincial Progressive Conservative party claimed diseases such as epilepsy, mental illness and cancer can be vanquished by improved self-awareness.
Olivero pulled out of the election race Thursday night complaining about the destructive powers of the media. She took down her Facebook page and the offending Twitter account, and did not return a telephone call from the Star seeking an interview.
The controversy that led to her resignation began mid-week when Olivero claimed on Twitter account that “an entirely new solution starting with self-awareness” was needed to tackle mental illness rather than “more medication and sedation.”
In response to a question, she added that “in some cases” the same self-awareness prescription could be applied to cancer and epilepsy.
That set off the comedic fury of Mark Critch, the Newfoundlander — and epileptic — who stars on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
“Dear @olivero_tina-as an epileptic that has to be one of the most ignorant things I’ve read,” he wrote on Twitter.
Others in the province were outraged. Among them was Nicole Furey, a 26-year-old social worker who was diagnosed at age 19 with a chordoma, a rare form of cancer that formed on her brain stem and required intensive medical treatments in Toronto and the United States.
“When any politician sends a message that could (worsen) the stigmatism around mental health, the selfguilt around a cancer diagnosis or could make people hesitant to (follow) evidence-based treatment that has been proven to work, that’s a very scary thought,” Furey said. “What they do in their own personal lives is not a concern of mine but the message they spread publicly is.”
Olivero recorded a video to her Facebook page in the wake of the backlash caused by her comments to say that she had been misunderstood.
“What I meant to say was that I think that self-awareness is one of the modalities of many healing modalities out there,” she said, listing holistic, traditional and alternative medicines as other “modalities.”
But it turned out to be too little too late. She said her decision to pull out of the provincial election race ultimately came when she was contacted by CBC reporters preparing to broadcast a story about how she was ordered in 2014 to pay a live-in caregiver $23,000 by Newfoundland’s Labour Relations Agency because she had deducted too much money from the woman’s salary for living expenses. The woman had been hired to work for Olivero’s publication, Oil and Gas Magazine, but was ordered to do domestic tasks like cooking, cleaning and drying Olivero’s hair, the CBC reported, citing the labour relations agency’s decision.
While the woman should have received a monthly salary of $1,680, she ended up pocketing just $400 a month, with the remainder going toward her rent, the CBC said.