Nova Scotia

Premier's 'Stay the blazes home' inspires music, merchandise, memes

Four words spoken by Premier Stephen McNeil during his COVID-19 update on Friday have taken on a viral life of their own.

Stephen McNeil's catchphrase from Friday's COVID-19 update has taken on life of its own

Premier Stephen McNeil with Dr. Robert Strang at a press conference on COVID-19 on Friday. (Communications Nova Scotia)

As Premier Stephen McNeil concluded a COVID-19 update on Friday, he offered a stern warning that may well become the mantra of his political career: "Stay the blazes home."

The phrase has taken on a life of its own online, inspiring music, merchandise and memes. 

"We looked at each other like, 'Did he just say blazes?' And we both sort of laughed, like, no he must not have said that," said Emma VanRooyen, who wrote a song using the now-famous phrase with her husband.

"And then when he said it again, both of us looked at each other and were like, 'That's a country song.' We kind of laughed about it, but then as soon as we were done work, we sat down and started brainstorming."

They wrote the song, recorded it and posted it to YouTube.

As of Saturday afternoon, the video titled "Stay The Blazes Home! A Tribute to Stephen" had more than 8,200 views.

"I think this is kind of a strange time in our lives and people feel very disconnected from each other. So when we can find something that brings us together, people sort of flock to it," VanRooyen said.

"That is what we were doing really, was recording something so we could reach out to people because we don't actually get to see our friends and family all that much."

She said the phrase was "quintessential Nova Scotian."

"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. But then if you really need to get a point across, figure out how to say it in a Nova Scotian kind of way," VanRooyen said.

"And I think saying, 'Stay the blazes home' — we all know what he's getting at, but it also makes everybody laugh and doesn't just make you feel like you're being yelled at."

She said the Annapolis Region Line Dancing Club, which is doing free online classes with local songs to help people stay active during the pandemic, reached out to ask if they could use the song.

Twitter user @AdamNFAber also released a song where he sings and plays the accordion. He sings about spending a week in pyjamas and working from bed.

"Don't go out, stay the blazes home," he sings. "Just sit down and watch the news. I'm not going out."

The video was posted at 8 p.m. Friday and has had close to 14,000 views so far.

Stephen McNeil memes have picked up steam too.

Twitter user @seandmcmullen posted an Uncle Sam-style photo of the premier issuing his warning.

During the press conference on Friday, McNeil said a few things that reminded people of Liam Neeson's character in the movie Taken.

In the movie, Neeson says "I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you."

In a similar way, the premier said on Friday, "The virus will find you, then it finds your loved ones."

McNeil also mentioned data from Google that suggested people were still going to public parks despite an order to stay home.

Someone made a meme with McNeil as talk show host Maury Povich delivering a lie detector test result.

A "Stay the blazes home" shower curtain available for purchase on (Strangershirts/

Finally, a few industrious people began making merchandise using the phrase

Within hours of the news conference, T-shirts, pillows and shower curtains with the premier's face next to "Stay the blazes home." became available at

The McNeil shower curtain retails for $74.89.

If you're looking for a shirt without McNeil's face, but with the phrase — My Home Apparel has you covered.

According to the company, profits from sales of this shirt will be donated to the QEII Home Response Fund, Shelter Nova Scotia and Feed Nova Scotia.

The shirts go for $35.

As for Premier Stephen McNeil, he appears to be pleased with how the phrase has caught on.

"The weekend is here, and we need to be vigilant," McNeil tweeted on Saturday.

"Wash your hands. Walk to exercise, not to socialize. Stop looking for loopholes. Please, just stay home."

Attached to the tweet was a picture with the "Stay the blazes home" slogan.


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

With files from Shaina Luck


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