By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
Furious David Christopherson stood and invoked original sin.
“Mr. Speaker, on February 17, the Prime Minister answered in the House that: ‘All senators conform to the residency requirements,’ ” the NDP deputy recalled.
Mr. Christopherson would seem to have the date wrong, but otherwise the Prime Minister does seem to have said this.
“The Senate audit report contradicted this and concluded that Senator Duffy’s primary residence was Ottawa not P.E.I. Yet when the final report was tabled, this key paragraph had been erased,” the New Democrat now charged. “Last night, we learned that the Prime Minister’s former communications director, now a senator, helped whitewash the Duffy report. Can the government tell us whether anyone in the PMO was aware that this report contradicted their Prime Minister?”
In an alternate universe, of course, Mike Duffy was never appointed to the Senate to represent Prince Edward Island. In a third, and even better, universe, there was never even a Senate to which to appoint him.
It was here James Moore’s duty to stand and lead the government response, John Baird apparently elsewhere recovering from having to stand 23 times yesterday.
“Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the Senate report does reflect the findings of the auditor, the auditor, by the way, that both the opposition and the government agreed should be brought in, an independent, outside auditor,” Mr. Moore offered with the first of 22 responses for him this afternoon. “The report reflected that finding. I understand, of course, that new questions have been raised. That is why the Senate is looking at the matter again, and that is also why the Ethics Commissioner is looking into this, as is the Office of the Senate Ethics Commission.”
And to them you can apparently add the RCMP.
“These questions are being raised,” Mr. Moore continued. “They are being put forward. They will be answered.”
It is nice to think that they might, because as of now there are almost only questions without answers. And while new questions do indeed continue to be raised about this and that and who did or did not do whatever however, the question that has been with us since nine days ago when CTV reported the existence of some kind of arrangement between Mr. Duffy and Nigel Wright remains primary.
What the hell happened here? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:31 PM - 0 Comments
Senator Mike Duffy apparently visited the CBC studio in Charlottetown this afternoon to say he’ll be paying back the living expenses he claimed in regards to his home in Ottawa.
“Everywhere I go, people are talking. Well where do you live? What’s it all about? …,” he said. “It’s become a major distraction. “So my wife and I discussed it, and we decided that in order to turn the page, to put all this behind us, we are going to voluntarily pay back my living expenses related to the house we have in Ottawa.”
Duffy blamed the Senate for having unclear rules and forms. “We are going to pay it back, and until the rules are clear — and they’re not clear now, the forms are not clear, and I hope the Senate will redo the forms to make them clear — I will not claim the housing allowance.”
It might still be asked whether Senator Duffy meets the residency requirement included in the Constitution, as non-specific as that clause is.
Update 5:37pm. A statement from Senator Duffy.
Four years ago, I was given the opportunity to sit in the Senate as a voice for Prince Edward Islanders in Ottawa. I jumped at the chance. I was born here, I was raised here, I own a house here, I pay property taxes here, and most important, my heart is here.
I also started my career here, and took my Island sensibilities along when I was covering politics in Ottawa.
Being a Senator has allowed me to do a lot of good for PEI communities. And there is a lot more to be done.
Recently questions have been raised about my eligibility for the housing allowance provided to MPs and Senators.
The Senate rules on housing allowances aren’t clear, and the forms are confusing. I filled out the Senate forms in good faith and believed I was in compliance with the rules.
Now it turns out I may have been mistaken.
Rather than let this issue drag on, my wife and I have decided that the allowance associated with my house in Ottawa will be repaid.
I want there to be no doubt that I’m serving Islanders first.
Update 5:42pm. A Conservative source tells me, “the government has no doubt whatsoever about Senator Duffy’s qualification to represent PEI in the Senate.”
Update 6:05pm. A statement from Conservative Senate Leader Marjory LeBreton.
“We have committed to ensuring that all expenses are appropriate, that the rules governing expenses are appropriate and to report back to the public on these matters. Senator Duffy maintains a residence in Prince Edward Island and has deep ties to the province.”
Update 6:22pm. A statement from NDP MP Charlie Angus.
Mike Duffy now says that he may have made a mistake when claiming tens of thousands of dollars of living expenses in Ottawa. If you break the rules, saying “I’m sorry” just doesn’t cut it. There must be consequences. What discipline will the Senator face?
Mr. Duffy’s track record on this is troubling. He denied any problem and ran away from questions. It seems some Senators will do almost anything to avoid accountability.
If any forms were falsified in order to try and get extra expense money, the Senate should immediately refer the matter to the police.
Senator Duffy has also still not addressed the question of whether he has met the obligations to be a Senator from Prince Edward Island.
Conservatives are now sending out inspectors to the homes of EI recipients. Perhaps what they should be doing is sending out inspectors to the homes of Conservative and Liberal Senators.
While Conservatives continue to defend the entitlements of their Senators, the NDP will continue to stand up for Canadian taxpayers.
The form in question is contained within the official Senators’ Travel Policy as Appendix E.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 8, 2013 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
The Senate committee on internal economy announced this morning that it has referred the “residency declarations and related expenses” of senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb to an independent auditor. The committee is also “seeking legal advice on the question of Senator Duffy’s residency.”
In response, Senator Duffy has issued the following statement.
“As a Prince Edward Islander, born and bred, I am proud to represent my province and its interests in the Senate of Canada.
I represent taxpayers with care, and Canadians know I would never do anything to betray the public trust. I have a home in Prince Edward Island as required by law. I will have no further comment until this review is complete.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Records obtained by The Guardian Tuesday from the provincial taxation and property division office show Duffy and his wife Heather are identified as non-resident owners of their Cavendish cottage and thus pay higher property taxes.
Prince Edward Island charges 50 per cent more in property taxes to owners who are not permanent residents of the Island. In order to get the lower tax rate, one must reside in the province for 183 days consecutively. The P.E.I. government does not currently offer Duffy the lower permanent resident rate and identifies him as a non-resident.
Senator Duffy also wasn’t on the PEI voters list in 2011 and cast a ballot in that year’s Ontario election. This matters because Section 23(5) of the Constitution Act specifies that a senator “shall be resident of in the Province for which he is appointed.”
Last December, it was reported that Senator Duffy was claiming living expenses for his time in Ottawa. Amid an audit of the expenses claimed by some senators, Senator Duffy appealed to the PEI health minister’s office to expedite a request for a provincial health card. The Star has video of Senator Duffy’s Cavendish cottage.
None of this would be of concern if the Senate was abolished.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 1:57 PM - 0 Comments
Q And what’s your reaction to what you’ve seen so far?
A Personal circumstances will always be taken into consideration in determining someone’s eligibility. For example, if they don’t have transportation to another community where a job is, that will be taken into consideration. Child care responsibilities and costs will be taken into consideration because we want to make sure that when people work, they’re better off than when they don’t. That being said, Service Canada officials can only take into consideration the information that they have. If the claimant doesn’t provide all of the relevant individual circumstances, then Service Canada can only go with the information they have.
Q In this particular situation, do you know if the individual did provide that information to Service Canada?
A Service Canada has made multiple attempts to talk with her, to review her file, to go over the options, to get all of the information. But it had no success in reaching her and I really encourage her to get in touch with them.
Ms. Giersdorf, meanwhile, says she’s tried to contact Service Canada and also that she’s been protesting just outside a Service Canada office. And then there is bit of back-and-forth.
Last week, Queen said there were half a dozen jobs in Montague the woman could have applied for; however, Geirsdorf said they were all beyond her qualifications. Officials also say there is more to the EI case than meets the eye, but can’t discuss it.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 11:33 AM - 0 Comments
A single mother in Montague, Prince Edward Island has apparently been denied EI benefits because she can’t get to Charlottetown and her story has apparently struck a chord in PEI. The National Post talks to her.
Q: Why don’t you apply in Charlottetown?
A: I could probably make a living in Charlottetown, but due to the fact that I do only rely on family and close, close, close friends that I don’t have a lot of, I’d be ruined personally. And my child, I fought tooth and nail with my ex to have him go to Montague [Consolidated School]. If I relocated into Charlottetown, who’s going to drive all the way from Montague to drive me in the summertime, when my son’s not in school, to pick him up? You know, I have 50/50 custody. I would have no transportation whatsoever, I would have to rely on cabs.
Q: If you were to get a job in Charlottetown that paid well, would you be able to get a car?
A: No. I wouldn’t be able to even make it to the job to make enough money to get a car. And if I was hired on in Charlottetown I’d have to refuse the job because I wouldn’t be able to guarantee that I could get to my shifts everyday.
By Mika Rekai - Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 6:20 AM - 0 Comments
A few senators suggested Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia join as one. Plenty of others disagreed.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one: by forming a Maritime union, the provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia will finally have the clout necessary to fix what ails them. When three Tory senators from the region suggested such a merger last week, it was the latest in a long line of failed attempts at provincial matrimony. With a backlash already under way, it’s hard to see this proposal ending any differently.
There’s no question the provinces face huge problems. Unemployment is well above the national average, their populations are aging rapidly, and the region is increasingly dependent on federal support even as Ottawa grows stingy. Proponents of a union say a consolidated bureaucracy would be more cost-effective, and the provinces would not have to compete against each other for investment.
Similar arguments were made back in 1864, when politicians from the Maritime colonies met in Charlottetown to talk about forming a union, but their plans were derailed when Sir John A. Macdonald arrived with a plentiful supply of champagne and a rather larger proposal—the Dominion of Canada. A century later New Brunswick premier Louis Robichaud proposed an Atlantic Canada union (including Newfoundland). Observers thought he was joking. Then in the 1970s, with Quebec separatist sentiment rising, a union was eyed in case the struggling region found itself cut off. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 5:53 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. It was of something Peter Van Loan said in his third response yesterday that Thomas Mulcair asked his first question today.
“Does the Prime Minister agree,” the NDP leader asked, “that employment insurance is, to quote his House leader, ‘an incentive for people to be unemployed?’ ”
Mr. Harper stood and clarified the necessity of employment insurance and asserted his interest in seeing people find jobs. Then he attempted to deal with the details.
“In the past, the way employment insurance worked was that individuals who went back to work lost dollar for dollar everything that they gained when they returned to work,” he said. “For the vast majority of people that is what happened. We are trying to make sure that Canadians can go back to work and continue to benefit.”
Mr. Mulcair proceeded to venture that Mr. Harper was not much interested in helping the unemployed. And, further, that Mr. Harper’s lack of interest extended to various people and concepts. ”Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is not interested in meeting with the premiers. He is not interested in working together. He is not interested in the unemployed,” the NDP leader alleged. “He will travel around the world to Davos, to South America, to China but he will not even sit down with Canadian premiers. In seven years he has only met with the premiers once, the worst record of any prime minister.”
There was grumbling from the government side.
“Why will the Prime Minister not even listen to the people on the ground?” Mr. Mulcair asked. “Why will the Prime Minister not work together with his own fellow Canadians here at home?”
Mr. Harper has actually met with the premiers en masse twice—in November 2008 and January 2009. But the Prime Minister had an even more impressive-sounding number to table here. Continue…
By Tamsin McMahon - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 1:45 PM - 0 Comments
No joke: 21 people and 74 pages of emails
How many federal officials does it take to answer a few questions about a $500 grant for a tea party in Prince Edward Island in honour of the Queen?
According to e-mails recently released by the federal government under Access to Information, the answer is: 21.
Back in May, Maclean’s decided to write a small light-hearted story about the federal government’s $2 million fund for cities and towns to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
Local media stories in Prince Edward Island highlighted the fact that the tiny province had been budgeted to receive $170,000, the second-largest sum in the country, behind Ontario. It was a surprising fact given that Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, hadn’t actually planned any stops in PEI on their Canadian tour.
By Mark Richardson - Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 10:18 PM - 0 Comments
Trans-Canada distance: 1,392 km
Actual distance driven: 2,817 km
THEN: …There are many who
Trans-Canada distance: 1,392 km
Actual distance driven: 2,817 km
THEN: There are many who still keep fond memories of the old ferry that linked Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick, and which was officially a part of the Trans-Canada Highway.
The original Abegweit ferry could carry almost a thousand passengers (though only 60 cars) while it also broke ice during the winter on the Northumberland Strait. It was replaced in 1981 by a much larger ship that could carry 250 cars; it was also called Abegweit, the local Mi’kmaq word for Prince Edward Island, meaning “cradled on the waves.” However, as journalist Walter Stewart observed in his book “My Cross-Country Checkup,” ferrygoers often preferred to call the ship “A Big Wait,” which was frequently appropriate.
The newer ship was disposed of when the 1997 completion of the 13-kilometre Confederation Bridge made a ferry service redundant. According to Wikipedia, the ship was sold to a broker in Texas who eventually sold it to a buyer in India, and it was sailed across the Atlantic and through the Mediterranean on its last voyage, to be scrapped in India in
But the older ship found a much better fate. It was bought by the
ChicagoColumbia Yacht Club in Chicago, which had been refused permission by the city to construct a clubhouse on its stretch of waterfront. The club bought the ship, now called the Abby, and moored it permanently at its property to serve as its clubhouse. She was even given a fresh paint job a couple of years ago, so she looks good as new.
NOW: The ferry may still be remembered fondly, but Islanders won’t trade their Confederation Bridge for anything. It’s a remarkable feat of engineering that turned 15 years old on June 1.
It took four years to build the bridge, and at 13 kilometres long, it’s officially the longest bridge in the world that crosses ice-covered water. Among other bridges over water, though, it doesn’t even make the top 15 – it’s dwarfed by the longest bridge of them all, the Qingdao Haiwan bridge in China, which stretches almost 43 kilometres, followed closely in the stakes by the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge in Louisiana, at more than 38 kilometres.
The bridge is 40-to-60 metres high and 11 metres wide, with one lane each way and no overtaking allowed anywhere. Pedestrians and cyclists must travel by shuttle bus, but the guardrails are just 1.1 metres tall, giving enough space to still allow drivers a view of the strait.
It was built by the private consortium Strait Crossing Development Inc. at an estimated cost of $840 million dollars – $210 million over its initial budget. The federal government still has to pay for it, though, sending annual cheques to the consortium of $41.9 million until 2032, at which time it takes over ownership. And the consortium gets to keep the tolls till then, too.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT … When tourists think of Prince Edward Island, they think of beaches and potatoes – and Anne of Green Gables. When Japanese tourists think of Prince Edward Island, they don’t even bother with the beaches and potatoes.
Anne is huge here, and there are thousands of potential mementoes of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s red-haired, freckle-faced creation. As Walter Stewart also wrote in his book, “we have been able to avoid Anne vibrators and Green Gables garbage bags,” but pretty much everything else is available, including straw hats with built-in pigtails.
By Mark Richardson - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 11:19 PM - 0 Comments
Trans-Canada distance: 1,317 km
Actual distance driven: 2,531 km
THEN: …The Trans-Canada Highway used
Trans-Canada distance: 1,317 km
Actual distance driven: 2,531 km
THEN: The Trans-Canada Highway used to come right through the middle of town in Charlottetown, along Grafton Street and up University Avenue. This was common practice across the country in 1962, because merchants wanted the inevitable traffic from tourists.
In Montreal, for example, the Trans-Canada Highway was officially placed right on St. Catherine Street downtown. But the merchants also got the inevitable truck traffic that comes with hauling goods around the country, and there are now bypasses to redirect traffic around commercial centres.
The Charlottetown bypass did not begin construction until the early 1980s, but today it loops around the island’s capital city. Some 200 trucks use it on average each day, staying well clear of the centre of town.
NOW: At the risk of over-alliteration, Prince Edward Island is an impossibly pretty, postcard-perfect province, and the Trans-Canada Highway dips and winds its way directly through several communities on its way between the bridge and the ferry. This may be pleasant on the two-lane portions, but it’s not efficient – and it’s dangerous. More accidents occur along the 6.1 km stretch near New Haven than anywhere else, and so as I wrote in yesterday’s blog, the province is widening and straightening that portion of road. Thirty-five properties will no longer have their driveways opening directly onto the TCH.
But not everyone is happy about this. “It doesn’t make any sense,” says Miller Choi, who owns the Bonshaw amusement park. There’s a small go-kart track on the 10 acres of land, as well as a pool for bumper boats and a mini-golf course, and it fronts directly onto the Trans-Canada. When the new road goes through on the other side of the trees behind, the amusement park will be cut off completely by the forest and drivers won’t see that it exists.
This was the first go-kart track in PEI and has been there for 42 years, says Choi. He doesn’t understand why the road is being directed behind his property and not in front of it, where it would continue to remove the sharp curve at the top of his hill.
“I bought this place (in 2005) for its exposure onto the highway,” he says. “In the summer, we get more than a hundred visitors a day, but we’ll lose that. It will all be terribly worse, but the government doesn’t care.”
Choi wants the government to compensate him for lost business, or buy his property at a fair current price, but he’s heard nothing from enquiries he’s made. And he’s not the only person who’s affected by the new routing.
“I really don’t want to talk about it – everything’s in negotiations,” says the man who comes to the door of the white house on the other side of the hill. The house was built in 1862, and the new road will go right through its living room. He says he’s lived there for 47 years, but he doesn’t know where he’ll move to when his home is demolished for the road. As for protesting, he says he has no choice – when the government wants to do something, they just do it.
He does acknowledge, though, that the current stretch of road is dangerous. “There’s at least two, three, four times a year that people come knocking on my door and say they’ve put a car in the ditch,” he says.
Alex Calder is also losing part of his property’s lawn, but he’s circumspect about the situation.
“I can see the positives in it,” he says, pointing out how the new route will flatten the hill and remove two sharp S-curves. “Water drains down the road here and then freezes on the curve, where it’s in shadow, and cars, trucks hit the glare ice and that’s it for them. It’ll be a lot safer when it’s done, and that’s what’s important, isn’t it?”
SOMETHING INTERESTING: No, this isn’t just a beauty shot of the Camaro convertible (though it does look pretty good). It’s a photo that illustrates what happens when you rely on a GPS mapping program to find your way around.
If everything’s bigger in Texas, then everything is smaller on Prince Edward Island. That extends right down to its country lanes, including this one, Peters Road, which started out as a regular two-laner and then, well, petered down to this.
Earlier, I’d stopped in to visit the office of the Canadian Automobile Association in Charlottetown and the helpful staff had offered to give me directions and a TripTik to get to Green Gables country, but I turned them down because I’m a guy and guys don’t ask for directions. Should’ve listened… They say it’s fun to get lost and it can be, but I was worried for the wide tires on the rocks in the mud, not to mention the low-slung chassis.
All turned out OK, but next time I’m on Peters Road, it’ll be with a dirt bike.
By Mark Richardson - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 10:51 PM - 0 Comments
Trans-Canada distance: 1,262 km
Actual distance driven: 2,302 km
THEN:… When the federal government
Trans-Canada distance: 1,262 km
Actual distance driven: 2,302 km
THEN: When the federal government passed an Act, in 1949, to “encourage and assist the construction of a trans-Canada highway,” it proposed splitting the cost 50/50 with the provinces for the construction of a road that would be built to a uniformly high standard.
Quebec and all the eastern provinces were reluctant to agree, however, because they would have to spend money to improve existing roads they already considered good enough – with the exception of Prince Edward Island. PEI was pleased to sign right away on the dotted line. It wanted a bridge or a tunnel to connect it to the mainland, and it saw this co-operation as only beneficial toward that.
Of course, it also had by far the least amount of highway to construct: just 120 kilometres between the New Brunswick ferry at Borden and the Nova Scotia ferry at Wood Islands. Its relative costs were higher, though, since all gravel for the base had to be imported from Nova Scotia.
NOW: PEI’s transport minister runs his finger along a smooth line on the map. “This is the new route the highway will be taking,” says Robert Vessey. He doesn’t need to waggle his finger along the other line, which twists sharply on the paper and is the current position of the road.
At Churchill, it needs realignment, he explains. People don’t like change, especially here on the Island, and there have been numerous public meetings to determine the new route that the Trans-Canada Highway should take in this area. It has to be done, though – there’s a higher accident rate on this stretch than anywhere else on the highway, thanks to the relatively tight turns and steep grades.
“We’re trying to avoid expropriation (of private land),” says Vessey. “We’re dealing with all the landowners and so far, we don’t have all the deals done, but we’re close. We’re negotiating–some are tougher than others, but so far, we haven’t expropriated any land.”
The existing road surface needed to be replaced anyway, thanks to the significantly increased heavy truck traffic from when it was first constructed in 1952. That would have cost the province $9 million. But if the Trans-Canada Highway is reconstructed, rather than just maintained, then the 1949 agreement still holds true and Ottawa will pay for half. The 6.1 kilometres of new road is estimated to cost $16 million, which means PEI need pay only half that, saving the province a million dollars and providing a safer highway, too.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT: This 1989 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet is “ a good little car,” says owner Scott Dawson, but he’s bought a newer model, a 2001, so it’s not needed anymore. If you’re not sure with the photo, the VW is the car on the left…
“It’s not a car I’ll let my children drive,” he says. “They’ll get somewhere and then some little hiccup will happen with it and it won’t start and I’ll have to go get them and fix it. I’m always driving my kids to sports, so I said I might as well drive something fun. I didn’t buy it for the roof – I only drive it with the top down.”
Scott’s asking $4,750, which is about one-tenth the price of the 2012 Chevy Camaro I’m driving, but he says he’s open to offers. Interested? Give him a call in PEI at 902-853-7784.
By Mark Richardson - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 5:25 AM - 0 Comments
Trans-Canada distance: 1,262 km
Actual distance driven: 2,017 km
THEN: …The causeway that links
Trans-Canada distance: 1,262 km
Actual distance driven: 2,017 km
THEN: The causeway that links Cape Breton to the rest of mainland Canada is only a few years older than the Trans-Canada Highway, opened officially in August of 1955. Kevin MacDonald remembers being there as an 11-year-old boy, while his mom sold hot dogs to the crowd and his father, a train-ferry engineer at nearby Port Hawkesbury, worried about losing his job.
“I remember the bagpipes,” he recalls. “They were loud!”
Perhaps not quite as loud as they might have been, though. There’s a story, which nobody can prove true or false, that says one of the 100 pipers who marched across the Canso Causeway that day refused to actually blow into his pipes – a protest against the perceived loss of his island’s independence. He was, apparently, a proud Cape Bretoner named Roderick (Big Rod the Piper) MacPherson, and some people say it’s true and others state it’s a misty-eyed fantasy.
Whatever the case, it is true that several hundred people lost their jobs when the causeway was completed and the ferry service ended, including Kevin’s dad, but Charles MacDonald’s position at CN was transferred instead to Sydney the following year. Kevin says he and his
brothersister received a better education for it. And in the end, the towns of Port Hawkesbury and Port Hastings saw more industry come to their area for the improved connection, and more jobs.
Does Kevin have a favourite memory of that August day, 57 years ago? Sure he does.
“The Premier responsible for the causeway, Angus L. MacDonald, had died the year before and so his brother gave a speech for him. His brother was Father Stanley, and he spoke in the traditional Gaelic to the crowd who all understood the language. And he gave them his opinion of what he really thought of the politicians. The people all laughed and cheered and so the politicians, who were sitting behind Father Stanley, all laughed and cheered too. They weren’t from Cape Breton and couldn’t understand anything he was saying – just as well too. And that’s a true story. There’s lots of verification for that one.”
NOW: Peter the truck driver parked his haul of gravel among a dozen other gravel trucks in the line to enter the PEI ferry at Pictou, Nova Scotia. “We haul gravel and sand onto the island, and we’re taking contaminated soil out,” he says. There’s really no sand and gravel on Prince Edward Island that’s good enough quality to build roads or mix concrete, and it must all be imported from quarries in Nova Scotia. But the contaminated soil – what’s that about?
“They found an oil tank was leaking into the ground in Charlottetown and they don’t know how much oil is there. Enough to keep us busy anyway. They’ve dug down eight metres so far and they don’t know when they’ll stop.”
Peter is one of the drivers who take the oily soil to a landfill in Nova Scotia that can process it properly, and their trucks fill the lower level of the ferry. It’s expensive to cross, he says – nearly $130 round trip. Vehicles driving to and from PEI only pay when they leave the island, not when they enter, and it’s more expensive to use the seasonal ferry than the Confederation Bridge – about $20 more. Because of that, people in the know who need to make a round-trip loop will leave the island on the bridge and return on the ferry.
Like the ferries to Newfoundland, and the BC ferries between Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, the 22 km-crossing of the PEI ferry is considered to be a part of the Trans-Canada Highway. There’s been a ferry here since 1937, 20 years after the first regular ferry to the island was established near the current site of the Confederation Bridge.
Today, maybe half the 100-or-so passengers are watching Ellen Degeneres on the small ship’s large TV. Reception is better than when two friends of mine crossed on their honeymoon to the island, on the morning of Sept. 11,
19912001. It was horrible, Simon told me later. Everyone knew something terrible had happened but they really couldn’t make it out properly on the news with the snowy reception. When they got to PEI, he said, people heard on their car radios as they disembarked that New York’s Twin Towers had been destroyed, and everybody seemed to drive away in shock.
SOMETHING INTERESTING… They didn’t have Camaros in the 1890s – not even the originals. For that matter, they didn’t have Jeannie Campbell either, but they did have the character she plays, Mrs. Clarke of the general store. Jeannie is an interpreter at the Orwell Corner Historic Village, just off the Trans-Canada Highway about 30 km east of Charlottetown.
Jeannie took the time at the end of her day today to check out the 2012 car and decided she liked it, though she’s going to keep her Honda Civic for now. She says she likes her job, too, and the people she meets every summer, and she’s no stranger to having her photo taken.
“We get a lot of Japanese visitors here,” she said. They come to see Anne of Green Gables and then they come here, too. “They like this place because it’s the same time period (as Anne), and it’s real, too. These are the original buildings from the 1890s.
“They all want to take my picture, and I tell them they can take as many as they want, but I don’t ever want to see them.”
By Jordan Owens - Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 4:07 PM - 0 Comments
Anonymous Liberal Sources stole a moment of PEI Premier Robert Ghiz’s time during his visit to the Liberal biennial convention. Here are some highlights:
JO: What’s it feel like to win? There are a lot of Liberals here who don’t remember what it’s like—or have never known what it’s like. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 7, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 15 Comments
The Prime Minister responds to the complaints of Ontario and Quebec about his government’s crime policies.
Look, it’s – there’s constitutional responsibilities of all governments to enforce laws and protect people, and I’ve seen the data. I think the people of Ontario and Quebec expect that their government will work with the federal government to make sure we have safe streets and safe communities.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 7:49 PM - 1 Comment
The Liberals appear set to be reelected in Prince Edward Island with
2122 seats to sixfive for the Progressive Conservatives. Here’s the applicable Rick Mercer skit.
The Northwest Territories also votes today. Results will be presumably posted here once they are available.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 8:45 AM - 0 Comments
Will and Kate adopt the island’s laid-back vibe—except when racing each other in dragon boats
Prince Edward Island is famously known as the cradle of Canadian Confederation. Now, after William and Catherine’s action-packed 24 hours in the country’s smallest province, it can also lay claim to being the incubator of a new, far more informal royal protocol. In the space of a few hours, the world watched the newlyweds competing fervently against one another in a dragon boat race, hugging affectionately after, then even more shockingly for anyone schooled in monarchical mores, eating in public, heretofore a no-no.
The island’s laid-back mood was clearly contagious. Even under a light drizzle, the couple appeared relaxed at their first official duty at Province House, the provincial legislature and site of the 1864 Charlottetown conference. The duchess was less formally attired than previously during the tour, wearing a cream knit dress with a sailor’s bow and navy stripes, nautical details that paid homage to the Maritime setting.
After signing the Province House guest book, handshaking and posing for photos, the duke and duchess greeted an enthusiastic crowd filled with “I [heart] Will and Kate” signs and T-shirts. “What are you doing standing in the rain?” Kate asked one speechless teenage boy who looked as if he’d faint.
By Richard Foot - Monday, February 21, 2011 at 11:06 AM - 1 Comment
A man accused of killing his brother sparks the first murder investigation on the Island in five years
Donna Dingwell faced a mother’s unthinkable nightmare last month. As she made funeral arrangements following the murder on Jan. 17 of her eldest son Kyle, 25, she was also looking for a lawyer for his accused killer—her 22-year-old son Dylan. “Everyone really felt for this mother,” says Charlottetown’s deputy police chief Gary McGuigan. “She buried one son on Saturday and would be in court on Monday with the other, who was charged with second-degree murder.”
Kyle Dingwell’s murder not only shocked his family, it caused a profound stir across Prince Edward Island, where homicides are almost unheard of. For five of the past six years, Canada’s smallest province has had the country’s lowest homicide rate—zero—according to Statistics Canada. Police on P.E.I. have not undertaken a murder investigation since 2006, when a dairy plant worker deliberately ran down a former colleague with his car.
Murder cases everywhere make headlines, but news of the Dingwell killing spread fear and anger across P.E.I., and sparked a rash of unseemly Internet gossip, before any details of the murder became known. Comments on a Charlottetown newspaper website suggested the crime might be linked to the drug trade, or caused by “immigrants.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 12:40 PM - 17 Comments
Award-winning novelist Joseph Boyden on the link between residential schools and the devastation of native suicide
A Cree woman I’ve known for many years up in Moosonee, Ont., has been in such anguish for months that I fear for her life. This anguish, this word, can’t begin to describe her tortured suffering. She lives every day walking through what most of us would consider our worst nightmare. A year ago, her 17-year-old son, while at a house party full of friends, walked from the kitchen, where he’d found a short indoor extension cord, through the crowded living room, to the bedroom, and eventually into a closet. There, he wrapped the end of the cord around his neck, and, leaving a foot or two, he tied the other around the clothes rod. This thin young man, pimples on his chin and black hair he wore short and spiky, knelt so that his full weight took up all slack. In this way, he slowly strangled himself to death.
If you have the fortitude, think about that for a minute. He could have stopped at any time; he could have simply stood up to take the pressure off. Possibly he did once or twice or three times when the fear of what awaited overcame him, when the happy noise of his friends in the rooms next door drifted in, muffled. But eventually, with unbelievable will, with a drive he’d never exhibited in his young life before, he managed this gruesome act of self-destruction.
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
The BP oil spill is killing the local fishery—and making the region’s chefs search for creative alternatives
About a month after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans restaurateur Tommy Cvitanovich introduced a new signature dish at his restaurant: charbroiled mussels from Prince Edward Island. “Ninety-five per cent of the tables here order charbroiled oysters,” he says of the original signature at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant. “So when we were faced with the possibility of losing our supply, we had to come up with something.”
Cvitanovich is just one of many Louisiana chefs and restaurateurs scrambling for local seafood in the face of what seems like a never-ending oil spill. About a third of the Gulf’s federal waters have been closed to fishing, and many of the shrimpers and oystermen who could work on open areas of the coastline have signed up with BP to help in the cleanup. Ewell Smith of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board says the US$2.4-billion industry is “devastated.” Production levels for shrimp are at about a third; oysters, a quarter. Morale is at “a record low.”
By Cameron Ainsworth-Vincze - Friday, June 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 1 Comment
Swings, sails and celebs
SummerFest (June 30-July 4)
The Island’s newest festival has something for every member of the family. For the younger kids, there’s a petting zoo, performances by the Doodlebops (a pre-school musical favourite), and a Swash Buckler Pirate Zone that features a haunted house. For teens, there’s the the Fringe Urban Zone with daily skateboard and BMX competitions. There’s a three-on-three hockey tournament on a synthetic ice surface, as well as the West Coast Lumberjack Show complete with log rolling. Plus a unique Cirque du Soleil performance that can only be seen in Charlottetown. In fact, Cirque signed a three-year contract this year to play at SummerFest. If you can’t make it to the show, you can catch Cirque du Soleil performers on Great George Street for free.
Once in a Lifetime Experiences
Have you ever boarded a fishing boat and headed out to sea to catch and cook your own lobster, tasted seaweed pie or tonged for oysters? Well, now you can. Tourism P.E.I.’s Once in a Lifetime Experiences program offers more than 70 different experiential tourism adventures for those wanting, and willing, to get their hands dirty while immersing themselves in authentic P.E.I. culture. If seafood isn’t your thing, other programs include learning how to build a wind chime, creating folk art out of recycled scrap metal with the help of a master craftsman, and making your own pinhole camera.
Hitting the links
P.E.I. is consistently ranked one of the top golf destinations on the continent. In fact, there are more than 20 courses within 45 minutes of each other, including the breathtaking and challenging Links at Crowbush, which overlooks the dunes of the north shore near Morell, as well as the Dundarave and Brudenell River courses near Georgetown.
Cavendish Beach Music Festival (July 7-11)
Only in its second year, this five-day outdoor music festival is picking up some serious steam. Headliners this year include country superstars Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum. And don’t forget to bring your sunscreen and beachwear. The concerts take place just minutes from beautiful Cavendish beach on the Island’s northern shore. Five-day passes start at $271 for adults and $105 for children between the ages of 6 to 12.
To see what Michael Smith picks as his favourite spots, go to Where famous Canucks go to play
For more information on events and travel in Prince Edward Island, see www.tourismpei.com
By Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 3 Comments
P.E.I. had been wooing the show for months
Once they spotted Michael Gelman, the less-than-camera-shy executive producer of Live with Regis and Kelly, on Prince Edward Island in April, the rumours were hard to quash. “We tried,” says Brenda Gallant, of Tourism P.E.I. When the gossip led an opposition MLA to ask whether the show would be shooting in P.E.I.—at some public expense—Tourism Minister Robert Vessey ducked, saying he had nothing to announce.
By Rachel Mendleson - Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 1 Comment
Paramedics in P.E.I. can only go 10 km/h above the limit in town
When responding to medical emergencies, paramedics say that exceeding the speed limit is just part of the job. But how fast is too fast? Citing safety concerns, Island EMS, the company that operates ambulances on Prince Edward Island, has tightened its cap on speeds—despite the fervent protestations of the paramedics union. “We’re not talking about these people wanting to be cowboys,” says union spokesman Bill McKinnon. “We’re talking about professionals who have always had discretion and used it wisely.”
The dispute began last November, when Island EMS introduced a policy further limiting speeds. Relaxed slightly in February, it now prohibits ambulances from going more than 10 km/h over the speed limit in town, and more than 20 km/h over it on highways. According to Island EMS general manager Craig Pierre, speeding is a safety hazard which, on narrow P.E.I. roads, doesn’t necessarily result in an earlier arrival. “When you’re travelling fast you have to brake harder,” he says. “Slower, more controlled driving actually gets you there in the same time.”
McKinnon, who claims the cap is more restrictive than in other Canadian jurisdictions, says the union was unable to find a single accident in P.E.I. involving an ambulance in emergency mode directly related to speed. As well, he cites an incident in New Brunswick when an elderly patient died after paramedics, prohibited from exceeded a speed cap, didn’t arrive in time. “We’re really concerned that a similar incident will occur here,” he says. (Ambulance New Brunswick, a subsidiary of the company that owns Island EMS, has since reviewed its policy and relaxed the caps.)
Unable to reach a compromise, the parties have called for government intervention. A communications officer for P.E.I. Health Minister Carolyn Bertram says that, for now, she is staying out of the conflict. But after discussing the issue with Island EMS earlier this month, Bertram told the Charlottetown Guardian, “From what I see, [the Island EMS policy] is ensuring patient safety.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 4:38 PM - 59 Comments
“On February 19, I was rushing to catch a flight at the Charlottetown Airport and spoke emotionally to some staff members. Regardless of my workload and personal circumstances, it was not appropriate and I apologize to airport and Air Canada staff.
“It was certainly not my intention to create any additional stress for airport or Air Canada employees who already have a very difficult job.
“My father was born in Summerside and many of my relatives still live on the Island, which I love and visit almost every year. To me, it is a very special place that demonstrates the best Canada has to offer. I wish to express my appreciation to all the hard-working people who make it so welcoming.”