Friday, December 25, 2009

Golf Course Deal... not quite, but "too funny"...

Well all the "Santa" work is done so I'll now have some time to get back to the blogging but I've got something funny to show you first... leading up to our Christmas staff party I noticed some pretty peculiar things happening with staff around the office to the point that I was getting a little suspect that there was something fishy going on... and sure enough the night of the staff party I got to see the Full Monty (a video mockery of me) which was the brain storm of way too many idol hands around the office... just before you indulge in this YouTube video I should note that I've been known to dress pretty causal around the office and have a tendency to be upset with my blackberry but the video does prove a few things... our staff have a great sense of humour, that my cousin Jimmy is quite a dancer and that it doesn't hurt to be a little crazy at APM... for your viewing pleasure Merry Christmas Everyone....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who Writes This Stuff...

Take a look at this opening statement "High-level discussions over sewage are underway between the City of Charlottetown and the Town of Stratford, on the other side of the Hillsborough River." and just exactly what could the Journalist be thinking when they wrote this statement or was the author just hanging around with Mitch Tweel too long... think about it, what discussions especially “over sewage” would possibly be “high level” involving anyone from the City of Charlottetown or the Town of Charlottetown... maybe it's time for Tweel to hunt down the "Cone of Silence" they used in the "Get Smart" TV series and set it up in City Hall... I can just imagine the two transparent plastic hemispheres being electrically lowered down on top of Clifford and Kevin — and invariably malfunctioning, requiring them to shout loudly enough for Mitch to hear and then run off to the media with another of his famous ideas... the motion he put forward a few years ago to have City Council send a letter to Gary Bettman to stop the NHL strike still ranks up there ahead of this idea... but this quote, "That would help assist them with the development of their waterfront, it would help them environmentally, socially, recreationally," said Tweel."The only thing separating Stratford and Charlottetown is the historic Hillsborough River, so I think there's an opportunity there." has to be one of his best classic quotes....
Stratford sewage could go to Charlottetown

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
CBC News
High-level discussions over sewage are underway between the City of Charlottetown and the Town of Stratford, on the other side of the Hillsborough River.
Sewage lagoons on the Stratford waterfront have been regularly stinking up the area. Moving them is too expensive an option, so the town must either improve them to stop the smell, or find somewhere else to treat its sewage.
That latter option has brought sewage to the top of the agenda at regular regional co-operation meetings between the two municipalities.
"Certainly the Charlottetown option is one that's of significant interest to us," Stratford Mayor Kevin Jenkins told CBC News Tuesday.
"It offers some advantages in terms of totally getting rid of the current facility on our side of the bridge and consolidating that into one facility."
Jenkins said experts are looking at whether the Charlottetown facility can handle all of Stratford's waste on top of its own. Charlottetown Coun. Mitchell Tweel thinks the city's sewage treatment facility is a perfect fit for Stratford's sludge.
"That would help assist them with the development of their waterfront, it would help them environmentally, socially, recreationally," said Tweel.
"The only thing separating Stratford and Charlottetown is the historic Hillsborough River, so I think there's an opportunity there."
Tweel said he wants the water and sewer utility committee members for both communities to meet in the new year. Jenkins said that's a possibility.

Spinning Anything For A Buck.... Jack...

This is kind of funny... Jack MacAndrew, who I thought had gone off and retired somewhere, is implying the Confederation Centre has somehow sold its soul... this coming from a guy who I believe would spin "Abortion to the Pope" as long as there were a few "bucks" in it for him to help spin that image... he did some spin for Joe Ghiz's Liberals and may have got some Tourism marketing work out of it but I think they fell out of his flavour over something... then I think he did some work for Pat Binns and something similar happened there... but if you're looking for a spokesperson for "anything"... he's good and "clearly" if the Centre gave him a few bucks he'd help them with their "re-branding"... but maybe it is "incumbent" on them to put him on the Board to help advise how he would keep this vibrant part of our Community going forward as Jack's "raison d’être" is grounded in his principles which are far beyond the mere mortals that work hard every day to keep this Centre operating in the black... or has he already had that chance and worn out his welcome...
The Guardian
Don't stop now
With two hit U.S. musicals taking over the Charlottetown Festival, we might as well re-brand the Confederation Centre of the Arts
Now that the Confederation Centre has confirmed its abandonment of the raison d'etre of the Charlottetown Festival (to foster the development of an indigenous Canadian musical theatre) with the booking of two shopworn American musicals to play next summer in the theatre now named after a man's hat, may I suggest a re-branding and name change to "The American Musical Theatre Festival." Clearly the development of new Canadian musicals is beyond the scope and talents of the present incumbents at Confederation Centre, as well as the vision of the board of directors. So why not go all the way and re-brand Confederation Centre of the Arts; perhaps to something like The Red Shore Arts Centre . . . or is that one already taken?
Jack MacAndrew,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brown Envelope Opposition....

Typical Jim Bagnall “grandstanding” with no facts at the expense of a PEI Business... the sad part is that it was his business (the beef plant) to begin with... and without any due diligence he blatantly accused the plant of destroying 125 beef carcasses... he probably got that information from one of those brown envelopes that Olive is getting her PNP information from... now that may sound a little crude but surely Mr. Bagnall should have the good sense and decency to at least check his facts before he starts throwing innuendo around about a Company, particularly this one, as they try to establish some creditability in the marketplace... Mr. Bagnall owes the Company and its employees an immediate public apology....
Beef tossed from plant 'completely unfounded', company president says
The Guardian
There is absolutely no truth into Opposition Conservative allegations of a mechanical shutdown at the Albany beef plant and the destruction of carcasses, says Jim Casey, chairman of the board of Atlantic Beef Products Inc. During question period earlier this week, Montague-Kilmuir Conservative MLA Jim Bagnall said a refrigeration shutdown at Atlantic Beef Products forced the beef plant to throw away up to 125 carcasses. But Casey said allegations the plant destroyed 125 beef carcasses because of a refrigeration malfunction are completely unfounded. “The plant has never had any reason to dispose of carcasses,” said Casey. “We take great pride in our quality control and operating standards.” In an interview, Casey said he can’t explain where Bagnall got his information. “It’s not true. There is no basis, no foundation for that statement whatsoever. There has never been any loss of beef.” Contacted Friday, Bagnall said he heard there was a refrigeration breakdown. But he admits he didn’t confirm the allegations before bringing the issue to the floor of the legislature and in front of the media and a live television audience. “I don’t know if they are doing damage control or not,” said Bagnall. “All I know is I was told quite a while ago that this took place. I was told it was 125 carcasses.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Poor Perception...

Although the PEI Liquor Commission is a crown corporation it is really a large "public" corporation with sales in excess of $100,000,000 a year. With most corporations of this size their members are usually well scrutinized before being invited to join the Board..... and before accepting they usually sign an undertaking that clearly spells out that they will act professionally and have the best interests of shareholders (in this case the Government) in mind at all times. The Commission's latest annual report identifies the role of the Board "is to supervise the business affairs of the Commission" and it lists Board member responsibilities to include "acting honestly and in good faith in making decisions with a view to the best interests of the PEILCC and its stakeholders". It now appears that Mr. Higgins had a previous fraud conviction about 12 years ago but he has served his penalty and society should give him the benefit of the doubt that he will conduct himself honestly in the future which I believe to be the case.... we all know that Chris has been a loyal and dedicated Liberal Party worker which no doubt helped lead to his appointment to the Board and if it turns out that he hadn't given full disclosure to the Government then the perception is that it reflects badly on the Liberal Party something I don't think Chris would like to see happen... this all being said if he didn't declare his previous conviction prior to his appointment (and he may not have been even asked) then he really has no choice but to offer up his resignation to the Board for their review... the Board doesn’t have to accept it but it’s certainly is a way to help clear the air and put the issue of the public’s poor perception of politics behind us...
Liberals appoint man convicted of fraud to PEI liquor board
Eastern Graphic
By Paul MacNeill
The Ghiz cabinet has appointed a man convicted in 1997 of defrauding the provincial government to the board of the PEI Liquor Commission. Chris Higgins, of Charlottetown, was appointed September 30, the same day as former Liberal MLA Hector MacLeod. Mr Higgins, a former Liberal riding association president, will serve on the board until September 30, 2012. For each meeting he attends, the 43 year old will receive a per diem of $134. Meetings are normally held monthly. Provincial Court documents show Mr Higgins was charged in 1996 with six counts of defrauding the government. In September 1997 he pleaded guilty to a single count, with the five remaining charges being dropped. The conviction pertains to fraudulent man-hour reports he submitted to government between December 2, 1992 and April 9th, 1994. Mr Higgins was sentenced to 18 months probation, ordered to pay restitution of $699 and complete 50 hours of community service. When contacted Mr Higgins said he could not remember the conviction. When reminded of the specific details he said, "you’re talking about something in 1997. That was 12 years ago." He would not answer questions pertaining to the incident or whether he informed the premier’s office of the conviction when he applied for an appointment. The premier’s office would not comment for this story.According to the Liquor Commission’s 2007-2008 annual report, the role of the board is to "supervise the business affairs of the commission." Board member responsibilities listed include "acting honestly and in good faith in making decisions with a view to the best interests of the PEILCC and its stakeholders." The provincial cabinet makes appointments to provincial boards. Participate in PEI was created by the Ghiz government as a means of encouraging Islanders to serve on provincial boards or commissions. Applicants are required to submit cover letters outlining their expertise. However, they are not asked if they hold a criminal record.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You say Lagoon....I say the Math smells....

Look it Christmas so I'm not going to take a shot at these guys again over this lagoon issue but I'm going leave you with this math to digest.... the cost to remove and reinstate the lagoon site back to marketable land is roughly $1.6 million and the cost to develop a new waste treatment plant to service the Community under the current Department of Environment standards including lift stations and site services is in the order of $18 t0 $20 million for a total project cost of around $20 million.... at best the reinstated land at today's market value might garner $1.2 million so you're more than likely into this replacement lagoon project for about $18 million dollars which is no small chicken feed for any Community particularly one as small as Stratford... about $300 a year to each taxpayer should cover the capital debt.... but the trouble with most lagoons is they smell anyway no matter how much money you throw at them and all you have to do is drive by Charlottetown's newly renovated one and you'll find this out... so no matter where they put the replacement lagoon there's still the possibility they'll be stuck with the odours so it might be a lot more practical to try and work with the site they already have... yes they could try to do a deal with Charlottetown but that's still pricey and then there's the likelihood that it might kick-start the discussion for municipal consolidation with the City.... lots to think about going into the new year and if nothing else the public meetings should be interesting.... if you asked Island taxpayers who live outside Stratford whether the Province Government should contribute $6 million and the Federal Government contribute $6 million to fix up a "perceived" smell that only is apparent a couple of months a year is my guess is they wouldn't be on board... if the Town were to pay the full toll themselves then my guess is it would be tough sell on Stratford taxpayers who moved there for the lower taxes...
Stratford commits to fixing sewage lagoons
Thursday, December 10, 2009
CBC News
The municipal council in Stratford, P.E.I., voted Wednesday night to move forward with a plan to fix the smelly sewage lagoons at the town's entrance.
Mayor Kevin Jenkins said the lagoons must be fixed to rid them of their smell and make way for any future waterfront development.
"We are committed to doing something with the plants. Pretty much everyone that we've talked to, as far as economic development on the waterfront, has raised the lagoons as an issue," Jenkins said.
"Our economic development committee has recognized that and we are really committed to doing something with the lagoons in the long term. It's a big project in terms of dollars, in terms of technology. It's not something that's going to happen today."
Last month, council received a report offering four options for the town, three that would upgrade the lagoons and one that would simply see the sewage pumped across the Hillsborough River to Charlottetown.
Jenkins said council will review those options over the next few months before deciding its next move

Busy... but treading water...

I agree with the following news story that the Stimulus plan has sparked Canada's construction industry but like a lot sectors we're busy spinning our wheels... and what I mean by this is that although it's busy it's also very very competitive and over the last six months it's not uncommon to see over a dozen bids on most jobs... even some of the minor projects bring out the big players like PCL and Bird Construction and the net result is when you win a bid the margins are pretty thin... so we have to work twice as hard to get the same results which can be very frustrating so I'm always impressed with our staff with their willingness and patience as we work through this economy... I suspect a lot of companies are going through the same things these days and we're really lucky here in Canada to have all levels of Government stepping up to the plate with these stimulus projects otherwise things would be significantly worst... during my recent visits to the US I've seen some small signs of improvement particularly in the New England market and I'm hoping they continue to improve as it's been my experience that their economy is really what drives ours... I guess the message here is that we all (big or small) have to put the head down and deliver value and service better than ever if we want to work our way through this bump in our economy... and like the Government we all have to do our part by continuing to spend in order for the economy to get better...
Stimulus sparks new building
Richard Blackwell
Globe and Mail Update
Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 2:21AM EST
Ottawa's infrastructure money is lighting a fire under parts of Canada's construction industry.
The value of non-residential building permits jumped 42 per cent in October to $2.7-billion, a level not seen since September, 2008, Statistics Canada reported Monday.
While building permit numbers often shift sharply from month to month, there is no doubt some of the growth reflects stimulus spending by governments that's finally leading to projects and construction activity, particularly in the education sector, said Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association.
He said funds from Ottawa's Knowledge Infrastructure Program – $2-billion targeted for the refurbishment and expansion of universities and colleges – is clearly boosting activity in so-called “institutional” construction. That category of building permits, which includes schools, hospitals, churches and government buildings, jumped 51 per cent in October.
But beyond the direct infusion of government money, there is generally a feeling of “guarded optimism” among builders that the private sector is willing to start spending money on expanding their physical assets again, Mr. Atkinson said.
Dramatic growth in non-residential permits in Saskatchewan and Alberta –159 and 148 per cent increases, respectively – clearly reflects a resurgence in the mining of potash and metals, along with the oil and gas sector, he said.
Michael Fougere, president of the Saskatchewan Construction Association, said the construction sector in the province is booming, mainly as a result of spending by the private sector.
New canola-crushing plants, a heavy oil refinery and potash mine expansions are showing up in the dramatically higher figures, he said.
Mr. Atkinson noted, however, that some other provinces, such as New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, have seen the value of their building permits drop.
That decrease suggests that economic progress is not spreading evenly across Canada.
“It really depends on what part of the country you're in.”
He also expressed concern about how dependent the construction industry in some provinces has become on spending by Ottawa, the provinces, or municipal governments.
In some parts of the country where private sector work is at a standstill, “if it wasn't for [government money], there'd be no construction going on at all.”
Another worry is what will happen when the stimulus money runs out, to both the construction industry and the state of Canada's infrastructure.
“We're concerned that if governments focus completely on the fiscal bottom line ... all the good work we've done to address the infrastructure deficit will be undone real quick,” said Mr. Atkinson of the Canadian Construction Association.
Robert Kavcic, an economist with BMO Nesbitt Burns, also cautions that non-residential building permit figures are “super-volatile” and the numbers for any individual month should not be given undue weight.
With more stimulus money likely to reach the market in the coming months, there could be other spikes that might not be sustainable, he said.
Mr. Kavcic pointed out that the value of permits issued in the commercial subgroup – which includes office buildings, hotels, restaurants and recreation centres – increased 15 per cent in October, but still is far below the level of every month in 2008 except December.
Weakness in the past few months is exaggerating the percentage increases.
Still, improved borrowing conditions should push the private sector to do more building of shopping centres, offices and factories in the coming months, said Grant Bishop, an economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.
That should support the construction sector, beyond the boost that comes from government stimulus, he said.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Take No Prisoners" especially parking...

Just when I thought Tiger had cornered the market on strange parking lot liaisons out comes Olive with her very own Parking Lot Caper... and it certainly wasn't a shock to me to learn that she's been running her PNP witch hunt program from evidence she's found in brown envelops dropped on her doorstep... now this approach may appeal to Larry McGuire and his bag of crazies but the reality is she's suppose to be the Leader of the Official Opposition and I can only imagine the eyes rolling on the Charlottetown Tory crowd when they scanned the story in the Guardian this morning... and I'm sure they're all just waiting until next fall to give her a message on how her personal PNP agenda of “take no prisoners” is doing and I’m guessing not that well with bureaucrats and business people alike...
Crane accused of ‘scare tactics’ during secret meeting
The Guardian
Opposition Leader Olive Crane was accused Tuesday of using ‘scare tactics’ to try to get inside information about the Provincial Nominee Program during a nighttime meeting with the PNP’s program director.
Crane was questioning Premier Robert Ghiz on his government’s handling of the controversial PNP – asking him once again whether he would support allowing senior directors and bureaucrats who ran the program to testify before the public accounts committee.
But Ghiz nodded to Innovation Minister Allan Campbell, however, who then accused Crane of having a personal vendetta against some senior bureaucrats she has repeatedly mentioned by name in the legislature.
Crane has named PNP program director and current CEO of Innovation P.E.I. Neil Stewart as well as former PNP deputy minister Brooke MacMillan numerous times – accusing them of breaking PNP rules.
Campbell said Stewart in particular has been upset by these constant references and accusations.
In a rare move, Campbell pulled out a letter written by Stewart and began to read from it during question period.
In the letter, Stewart details a secret meeting organized by Crane last fall, which Stewart characterizes as ‘inappropriate.’
According to the letter, Crane called him on his cell phone some time after 5 p.m., saying she had heard good things about him but that she had seen information with Stewart’s name that was going to the RCMP. She asked to meet with him alone.
“I agreed to meet, as her statement concerned me as I would certainly not be involved in anything illegal and I wanted to see what this obviously incorrect information was,” Stewart states in his letter.
Crane picked him up in her car and drove to Victoria Park. She indicated again she had heard he was an honest person and wanted to give him the chance to explain things about the PNP before the ‘troubles’ began, Stewart wrote.
“I informed her nothing illegal was going on.”
Stewart then asked Crane what information was being sent to the police. He said she was unsure about this and referred to rumours she’d heard. That’s when he asked to be taken back to his office.
Stewart is highly critical of Crane in his letter for the circumstances of this meeting. He said he believes she was trying to get him to reveal details about the PNP and that she appeared bothered when he gave her no evidence of wrongdoing.
“I remain shocked that the leader of the Opposition used scare tactics to try to get information from me. What she did was very inappropriate,” Stewart states in his letter.
“I also cannot understand why she continues to attack my character in the house and in the media. I can only surmise that she has a vendetta against me because I didn’t giver her what she was looking for.”
Innovation Minister Allan Campbell called Crane’s meeting with Stewart at night in Victoria Park ‘wrong.’
“Here we have the leader of the Opposition holding meetings with senior bureaucrats after dark down in Victoria Park – it’s just very, very odd and I guess it would be fair to say, probably wrong.”
Crane, however, made no apologies for her actions.
She said she was merely trying to give Stewart a heads up that she was going to be questioning controversial decisions he’d made and wanted him have a chance to give his side of the story.
“I wanted to be very clear to Neil that there was a lot of red flags,” Crane told reporters.
“The auditor general raised concerns about Brooke MacMillan and Neil Stewart and how they had broke the rules around the Provincial Nominee Program.”
Crane said she had received numerous brown envelopes filled with documents mentioning Stewart’s name.
This is why she wanted to meet with him in private to discuss the PNP.
“I wanted to make sure to Neil that I was very clear that I agreed that there was red flags and I wanted him to be aware of my issues with the PNP program went back to the beginning.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cabinet Shake-Up... no later than Jan 15th...

Although there was a lot of speculation that Premier Ghiz would shuffle his Cabinet prior to the opening of this session of the House (some of which came from me) it didn't materialize but I'm predicting that we're in for more than a minor change and that these changes will happen before the third week of January... although it purely speculation on my part I'll even go a step further and suggest that there could be changes in four Departments but again I've been wrong before... and if he doesn't make changes - he should....
Fall session comes to an abrupt end
The Guardian
The fall session of the P.E.I. legislature has come to an abrupt end.
It was expected the session would end Wednesday or Thursday, but the governing Liberals and Opposition Conservatives agreed to work together to push through what needed to be done Tuesday night.
The legislature will stay closed until spring.
Premier Robert Ghiz says his government had completed the work it needed to do. He said the Opposition Conservatives agreed to give up their time Tuesday night so the House could close.

If Nothing Else.. It'll Be Entertaining....

Don't expect a stampede here for membership but surely there must be "400 crazies" living on PEI that could see their way to help poor Larry get "The Island Party" off the ground... maybe he should throw in a bag of "nuts" as a signing bonus or better still promise them all Government jobs... he garnered 18% of the vote in his district in 2007 and 5% of the vote in Cardigan in 2007 and my guess is his party will get 1% of the Island vote in 2011... but Larry's antics should represent 20% of the "entertainment"... here's a couple of older blog items and
Rebel Liberal looks to form new party
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
CBC News
Names are being collected on Prince Edward Island for The Island Party, which looks to contend for seats in the 2011 provincial election.
One of the founding members is a former Liberal, Larry McGuire, who had his Liberal nomination revoked for the 2007 election by Premier Robert Ghiz after he made controversial comments supporting patronage.
McGuire told CBC News on Tuesday that Islanders need a new direction and are looking for common sense leadership, something he maintains they haven't had in more than a decade.
"Islanders definitely are looking for a new party," said McGuire.
"Our hallmark statement is honesty, integrity and fairness. I think that once Islanders are aware that we are offering a very distinct way to look at politics, we're going to do fine. We'll elect MLAs in two years time."
To form an official party, 400 names need to be collected, and a $1,000 deposit must be made. McGuire said he already has the money and more than 300 signatures.
He expects the party will be officially registered by the end of the year. A policy meeting and leadership convention will follow in the new year.
P.E.I. has not traditionally been welcoming to parties outside the mainstream. In recent history only the NDP have beat out the Progressives Conservatives and Liberals for a seat, and only once: in 1996.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Suck It Up... pay the fine with some "French francs"...

It's no wonder there's still animosity between some French and English (but not with me) when we see this kind of foolishness going on... what a waste of taxpayer's money using our court's time over some silly parking tickets when this gentlemen clearly understands English in the first place... last year I got hauled over by the Surete du Quebec about 100 miles north of Quebec City and I still don't know what the officer said to me as he couldn't speak a word of English... I thought I might have had a good defence there but I finally figured it out all on my own and paid the fine and there's a record of that... maybe we could give some French language training to our ticket commissioners to help explain what the tickets are for as it would be cheaper than the upheaval and costs that this case could have on our court system... but it would sure be a great way to take jobs away from young Islanders who weren't bilingual.... if you're missing the Homeland then suck it up and pay the fine with some of those "French francs" or maybe it's Euros now.....
Man argues for French in parking ticket fight
Friday, December 4, 2009
CBC News
A French-speaking Charlottetown man trying to fight eight parking tickets was in provincial court Thursday arguing for a trial in French.
Charles Duguay, who has lived in P.E.I. for 22 years, said the issue is bigger than unpaid parking tickets.
"I say, 'Why do we have to bring, for example, somebody from New Brunswick to hear cases?'"
New Brunswick is an officially bilingual province. But in P.E.I., only people accused of offences under the Criminal Code are allowed to choose English or French for a trial. The option isn't available for municipal bylaw infractions or summary offences under provincial laws such as the Highway Traffic Act.
The parking case is believed to be the first time provincial court on the Island has been asked to hold a trial in French over a municipal bylaw.
At the beginning of Duguay's court appearance, Judge John Douglas said, "Je ne suis pas bilingue," meaning "I am not bilingual."
Duguay then argued — in French — why he thought he should be tried in his mother tongue.
Lawyers from the city and the province observed the proceedings and said there could be serious implications from the case. If Duguay is successful in his arguments, many more people may request trials in French in P.E.I.
This would likely involve bringing in a judge from out-of-province at P.E.I.'s expense.
The case was put on hold until the new year while a transcript is made of Duguay's arguments. City staff will have the transcript translated before making arguments of their own at the next hearing.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads...

Now here's a great opportunity for Councillor Mitch Tweel to step up to the plate and offer up Victoria Park to the Federal Government as the natural site for a new retractable roof Stadium for Charlottetown to host an Atlantic Football Team... surely Clifford should cough up some City coin to get Mitch a plane ticket so he could meet up with a few infrastructure officials in Ottawa and put the dog and pony sales pitch on for the City... just think of the benefits that an extended tourism season would have as the football season goes well into the fall and could be justification for federal funding... in the summers they could use it for the Festival of Lights and other concerts... and in the winter what a spot for the Charlottetown Winter Carnival... and if all this that doesn't work out well then the City could always sell it back to the Province as a museum... of course "I'm just kidding around" but I can't help but think those "visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads" when our politicians get closer to Christmas break....
Peter MacKay wants football team in Atlantic Canada
Sun. Nov 29th
CALGARY — Gridiron madness has also hit Canada's federal leaders, with one heavyweight politician pushing for a CFL team in the Maritimes. In Calgary on Saturday for the Grey Cup parade, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said he looks forward to the day when Atlantic Canada has its own football team to join in the spirit of the league. Last month, the governments of Canada and New Brunswick announced it would be investing in a regular-season CFL game in Moncton featuring the Toronto Argonauts as the home team. MacKay, who is also the senior minister responsible for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and a native of Nova Scotia, said the game will aim to drum up local interest in the idea of a CFL franchise in the Maritimes, dubbed the Atlantic Schooners. "I'm very supportive,'' he said. "It would be good for the league because we would have a coast to coast football league." "I think the economic potential is there.'' He said the Maritimes already have a big football fan base with immense support for high school and university teams. Sponsors will need to get behind the idea but it's already one that has interested CFL commissioner Mark Cohon, he said. "Mark Cohon seems very open about it,'' he said. And MacKay said what better time to add a CFL team to the mix than the 100th anniversary of the league in 2012? "It would be nice to see the league expand in that 100th anniversary year,'' he said. MacKay said he also hopes to share the celebration of the Grey Cup with Canada's troops in Afghanistan. "We hope to get the Grey Cup to Afghanistan — they'd love to see it,'' he said. "It's a strong reminder of home.'' MacKay, who also spent part of Saturday playing in his own football game at Glenmore Athletic Park with friends from university, said he'll be cheering for the Saskatchewan Roughriders when they play against Montreal on Sunday, since some of his pals from his post-secondary years played for the team.

And Why Not A "Private" Plane...

It appears that Cynthia Dunsford's thesis for PEI needing an Ombudsman is "that every other Province has one" and if we subscribed to that kind of thinking then maybe we should go out and get the Premier a new plane first as every other Province had one of them before they had an Ombudsman... so let’s get Blair Ross and Deborah Hawkes and a few other crazies a referee at taxpayers' expense... the Ontario Ombudsman's office has a staff of over 83 people at a cost of $9,300,000 a year and if PEI opened one it wouldn't be long before we'd be there too and if you don't believe me then just head on over to IRAC and have a look around... when the Ghiz Government were talking about job creation before they were elected these weren't the kind of productive jobs I had in mind... at some point our elected officials have to get off the "we need program - because some other Community or Province has it" and move on to proposing ways for Government to operate more efficiently without increasing costs... surely a Province of 134,000 can by without a plane and an Ombudsman... and if a pressing mediation matter comes forward then Government could always appoint a legislative committee as they've got lots of experience at wasting time... thank God the Premier is coming to his senses and considering what it would cost...
MLA proposing provincial ombudsman
The Guardian
A backbench MLA is putting together a private member’s bill proposing to create an ombudsman for the P.E.I. government. P.E.I. is currently the only province without such an ombudsman, but Stratford-Kinlock MLA Cynthia Dunsford would like to see that rectified. “(The ombudsman) could take on a lot of different inquiries and different complaints that people might have,” Dunsford said. “Those calls or complaints can be categorized into alternate kinds of actions that could be taken to help people, which an ombudsman would be able to do very effectively.” A similar private member’s bill was introduced 10 years ago by former NDP MLA Herb Dickieson. It did not pass but was debated extensively in the legislature and in the end did win the support of seven MLAs in a vote of 13-7. Several members abstained from voting on the issue. The concerns raised at the time revolved around whether an ombudsman would change the role of MLAs in their dealings with the public. Dunsford, who has been doing extensive research into the policies enacted by other provinces, said she does not believe such a figure would call into question the role of elected politicians on P.E.I. Islanders are infamous for calling their MLAs for complaints or concerns both big and small, and that will not change with the addition of an ombudsman, Dunsford said. “We are always going to get those calls and that’s fine because people generally just need direction and we may be able to help them and that’s a good thing,” she said. “But there are areas that an MLA should not be looking into or can’t look into. There are limitations to what we can do and how we can help and it’s very frustrating as an MLA and somebody calls you with an issue that you can’t really get involved in because it would be something that would be seen as interference — because we’re political figures, we’re not bureaucrats.” The addition of a provincial government ombudsman was a promise made by the Liberals during the 2007 election campaign, but on Thursday Premier Robert Ghiz said such a new position would be an added expense the province may not be able to afford right now. But he didn’t rule it out as a future possibility. “As we know, there was a bit of a financial downturn in the world economy over the last year or so,” Ghiz said. “This probably won’t be happening this year, but we’ll definitely be looking for it for the year after as a definite possibility.” Dunsford said her private member’s bill is not ready to be tabled during this session of the legislature anyway, as she is still conducting research and comparing the practices and policies of ombudsman in other provinces. “This is something that will still require a fair bit of work,” she said.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Love This Stuff... "entrepreneurship in spades"

Unfortunately last week I was out of Town and couldn't make the Christmas reception at ScreenScape's new office in our building on Queen Street... but from all accounts it was a great event and I'm pleased the Premier made it to the opening to see what Mark Hemphill and his talented team (that have now grown to 21 people) are doing around the world with ScreenScape... Mark's a young gun who grew up on PEI, attended university here and then headed off for a Masters degree and some success in the computer business in Toronto before coming back to PEI with his guitar, dog and new bride Courtney... he took a teaching position at UPEI and was a student favourite there but he couldn't leave the lure of business alone.... so with a couple of new twin boys at home and the support of his good wife he left his secure job to once again venture out with his ideas into the new wild west frontier of the internet... now some people may not appreciate what he's done here but he's put his security and money on the line in an industry that's a big race to the next level with big losers and big winners... and I'm pretty sure growing up that he could have taken the easy way out and moved into his Dad's GM dealership when he finished his business degree.... but when you meet Mark you'll soon learn this quiet laidback individual has big dreams and that's something they don't teach you at school... here's a recent news clip that was aired on CTV and for those of you who haven't heard of ScreenScape yet you should have a look around their site as they're on to something big and they’ve got that spirit of success... I just love this kind of stuff and I hope our Government appreciates what these young guns are doing here globally.... "entrepreneurship in spades"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tough Day... but only 24 more sleeps...

I was at the Urban Eatery for lunch today clad in my annual Santa hat ordering up a sandwich when the lady server said to me Santa shouldn't be so "glum"... and she's right about that but this morning was assessment day for my Mom at the Prince County Hospital where she has been for the last 6 weeks after having some dementia issues while a resident at Andrews Lodge in Summerside... my Mom was the principal care giver in our family particularly after my Dad died when I was 16 and she was left with me and my 3 younger siblings... she was our rock and spread love and encouragement in everything we did... I can't say enough about her positive attitude under any circumstances and her ability to see good in all especially at Christmas... today the realities of aging are straight in front of us not unlike what a lot of other families are facing with aging parents and being briefed by her doctor and care givers about what's ahead takes a lot of spirit out of everyone... Dr. Moyse, the hospital staff and Andrew’s staff have been amazing patient caregivers and we are so lucky to have such compassionate people in our lives… but I also have to thank the lady at the Urban Eatery today who got me thinking about my day… she helped me realize that my Mom would never ever want you to be "glum" and it might just be a coincidence but today is December 1st the start of the Advent Calendar... and Mom would always have one around the house and you'd know things were good when she would give us a big smile and say "only 24 more sleeps"... things will get better but thanks to that lady today I'm not going to be "glum" anymore...

Apples and Oranges... or sour grapes...

What's shameful here is Mr. Rodd using the Irving’s to take a pot shot at Government... it's no wonder the Island NDP's haven't a snow ball’s chance in hell of ever getting a seat here under Mr. Rodd's leadership with this type of corporate bashing... the Irving’s aren't getting the money here as it's being used to train their 800 strong workforce or otherwise send them home... I'm thinking that keeping people working has a great social and mental value to it but more important the training may position the Company to be stronger when the economy picks up... the result might be more work which provides more jobs and more taxes back to Government and one way or the other taxpayers will get this money back... the Irving’s have proven over and over again their commitment to invest and provide jobs to Islanders... they've done it in many industries including farming something which Mr. Rodd couldn't do and probably why he has this chip on his shoulders about the Irving’s and is now using petty politics like this to get back at them... yes there are many issues in health and I believe Mr. Currie is seriously dealing with them in the best manner he can but the cancer funding issue is a health care matter and shouldn't be compared to a business matter... you can't compare these two issues like apples and oranges but you could look at them as sour grapes on Mr. Rodd's part....
Choosing Irving over cancer patients shameful: NDP
Monday, November 30, 2009
CBC News
The P.E.I. government has its priorities all wrong in providing funding to train employees of Cavendish Farms rather than pay for a cancer drug, says NDP Leader James Rodd.
P.E.I. is the only province in the country that does not pay for the cancer drug Avastin, and Health Minister Doug Currie said last week he doesn't know when the province might find the estimated $600,000 a year it might take to fund the drug.
But Rodd told CBC News on Monday that the government didn't have any trouble finding $630,000 to help Irving-owned Cavendish Farms. The company is going through periodic shutdowns due to a weak market, and the province has agreed to pay its workers for training during those shutdowns.
"Where is the compassion here? Tommy Douglas, the father of medicare, he would have known where to put the money: in the hands of those that need it," said Rodd.
"I ask Islanders, if they had the choice to put $600,000 into the hands of people who are suffering from colorectal cancer and give them some hope, or give it to a multinational corporation, I think they would know the right thing to do."
The government money will go directly to about 800 employees who will be laid off during the week-long shutdowns.
The province estimates about 15 Islanders a year would qualify for treatment with Avastin.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Business Expense...

I think Jim Bagnall should be looking at giving a medal to whatever Company took FoodTrust off PEI taxpayer's hands as it was losing tons of money most of which was under Mr. Bagnall's watch when he was the Agriculture Minister... now to turn around and tarnish the Company's image around while it tries to revitalize itself is really in poor taste... I'm sure when the idea for FoodTrust was first conceived by Government there were good intentions to make it a viable business enterprise but as with most Government business ventures they seem to take on spirit of their own and for the most part always end up bleeding red ink. Now that Mid-Isle Farms a proven operator with many shareholders have taken over the reins there is probably a better chance of success but not if their name is continually bashed around with foolish innuendo... it might make great grand standing for Mr. Bagnall but every time the Company’s name comes in question it creates a sense of carefulness with bankers and customers alike and when the Company has the potential to become an Island product leader then let’s leave the silly politics at home.... no one in the industry really believes that George Webster did anything wrong here so why create a smokescreen at the expense of the business... I'm hoping FoodTrust could turn into another Amalgamated Dairies Limited story...
Conservative MLA demands answers on minister's role in FoodTrust sale
The Guardian
Mid-Isle Farms paid the Prince Edward Island government $890,000 for the money-losing FoodTrust but not before the province scratched nearly $1.2 million in losses from its books. The sale was announced in December of last year but it’s only now that the purchase price is being made public.Opposition Agriculture Critic Jim Bagnall spent much of question period in the P.E.I. legislature Tuesday demanding to know more about Agriculture Minister George Webster’s role in the sale of the Charlottetown-based FoodTrust to Mid-Isle. Webster and his brother, Bertram, are founders of Mid-Isle, which is based in Albany. George Webster’s interests in the company are now being held in a blind trust because he is a cabinet minister. “Minister, you wrote off all the liabilities and turned around and sold the company to you and your brother. Do you not feel that was a conflict of interest?” Bagnall asked.“They said it was a fair bidding process. How can it be a fair bidding process when the minister, who’s the president of the company, the minister had all the inside information about what was taking place, the minister wrote off $1.2 million for FoodTrust, and turns around and has the best offer. How can that be a fair process?”Premier Robert Ghiz defended Webster, saying the sale was tendered and the best tender won. He said Webster left the cabinet table whenever the issue of FoodTrust came up for discussion. “Obviously, the member from Montague-Kilmuir is making stuff up again,” said Ghiz. “It’s very unfortunate that we have the member from Montague-Kilmuir, who was in cabinet, who knows how decisions are made, that would want to slander someone.” But Bagnall fired back: “I’m sure the best tender won when they wrote off $1.2 million and allowed the minister and his brother to buy the company when he was a minister.” But Ghiz said Webster was not the minister of Agriculture when the sale took place. The Prince Edward Island government established the not-for-profit FoodTrust in 2001 to help provide better returns to producers.In 2007, FoodTrust sales exceeded $3.8 million. But the province contended it was a money-losing venture, losing anywhere from $500,000 to $700,000 annually. The decision to privatize the company was made jointly by the government and the company’s board of directors. Bagnall also questions what role the Provincial Nominee Program may have played in the sale of FoodTrust. FoodTrust did receive units from the PNP but the timing is being disputed. The provincial Liberals say they received the money under the Conservative administration, but the Conservatives contend they received four units in August — a month after many others were turned down for funding under the Immigrant Investment Fund. “I wonder whether (Webster) excused himself when they got PNP units,” said Bagnall. “There were 600 people turned down in July. Yet, when you go to buy this company in August, you get four units. How can you justify that to all the other businesses across P.E.I.?” Ghiz said Webster wouldn’t have any role in the Provincial Nominee Program. “That’s not a cabinet decision,” added Ghiz. The sale of the FoodTrust was also an issue in the spring setting of the P.E.I. legislature. During the spring session, Bagnall accused Webster of being in a conflict of interest over the sale of FoodTrust. “Minister, do you think it’s good business practice to write off all the loans, all the liabilities for a company that you, as president of the company, are buying? Do you think that’s legit?” Bagnall said last spring.

Belly Up...

They say the way to a man's heart is through his belly and I'm pretty sure this might be the case with our tourists as well so this new strategy is probably a very good direction for our tourism industry but it's got to be delivered with quality, service and most important “value”... and with all due respect to our existing operators I believe some of our tradition old favourites like the local lobster dinners have to be revisited and "freshen up" with more ambience as most of them date back to the seventies... dinning at whatever level requires ambience and somehow Government has to also develop a tax incentive or related program for operators to help them remodel and refurbish their dining areas... promoting the Big Four: potatoes, lobsters, oysters and mussels is a great idea but I've often thought that we might be further ahead to leave mussels and oyster off the menu in July as they both seem to be "weak on meat" and aren't always at their best like in the spring and the fall... looking back on last year I still question why our Government spent so much on the "Big Break" and I don't understand why our Minister doesn't come clean and let us know what "return on investment" taxpayers got on this promotion... I suspect until we get a new Minister we'll never know the real cost of the Government run golf courses but I do like our new Culinary theme and my belly is certainly looking forward to it...
Island tourism tries new flavour
Friday, November 27, 2009
CBC News
P.E.I.'s tourism season has ended, but industry officials are busy planning for next year with a food-focused tourism strategy unveiled Friday in Charlottetown.
It will "build on five key tourism priorities, including the growth of the meetings and conventions sector, golf exposure, culinary partnerships, cultural redevelopment and the next phase in the Integrated Tourism Solution [database]," said Tourism Minister Valerie Docherty.
The theme for 2010 is Year of the Culinary and the focus will be on encouraging people to visit the island to enjoy food that's grown and processed locally, officials said.
The so-called Big Four will be highlighted: potatoes, lobsters, oysters and mussels.
Tourism PEI and the Tourism Advisory Council also hope to form partnerships with restaurants, farmers, farmers' markets and accommodations, and produce a visitors' guide to showcase some of those businesses.
Culinary alliance
The culinary alliance will help the development of innovative and sustainable food industry partnerships, culinary experiences and promotional programs, officials said.
It's also expected to increase export sales and help to extend the tourism season into the late fall.
The plan also calls for the expansion of the annual Fall Flavours Festival to try to improve the elusive "shoulder" season.
Kevin Murphy, chair of the Tourism Advisory Council, expects the timing of the launch of the strategy will also help.
"This is only the second time ever that we have been able to bring the annual tourism plan to industry in the fall of the year," he said.
"This joint effort of Tourism PEI and TAC to shift the planning cycle means that industry knows the strategic direction of Tourism PEI coming into the new year and can adapt their own products and marketing to leverage the plan where appropriate."
Golf will continue to be an important tourism market next year, which officials hope to grow through partnerships with the Golf Channel and events such as the International Couples Golf Festival.
The industry also hopes to attract more convention business with the new convention centre, which will double available meeting space, officials said.
The 2010 tourism season will also be the foundation year for the planning and development of a "cultural explosion" initiative, scheduled for 2011.
The Integrated Tourism Solution, which saw the creation of a customer database, rollout of the central reservation system and the first phase of a simplified registration process for operators this year, will continue to be developed.
The 2010 marketing campaign will be launched at the TIAPEI conference in March, officials said.

More Red Tape... is not the solution..

Unfortunately most of the people who show up at IRAC to stop development have frivolous complaints in the first place and now it appears Government want to spend more tax dollars to pay for a "public intervener" to help these interveners find more ways to slow down the process... seems like more "red" tape to me and it's quite obvious that members of the Legislative Committee has never appeared before IRAC themselves otherwise they would be looking for some real solutions to cut "red tape".... back a few years ago when the Ghiz promised new jobs for Islanders I thought they were referring to real productive ones but it doesn't appear to be the case...
Islanders need advocates for IRAC: committee
Thursday, November 26, 2009
CBC News
A P.E.I. legislature committee is suggesting people need legal help when appearing before the Island's regulatory agency in opposition to large corporations.
The committee on community affairs and economic development was looking at how the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission oversees energy costs and rent increases. Several recommendations came out of the discussions. Committee chair Robbie Henderson, MLA for O'Leary-Inverness, said one recommendation is the hiring of someone to provide advice to Islanders dealing with IRAC.
"In a number of cases when issues had come to IRAC by general citizens, they were up against large corporate lawyers on the other side," said Henderson.
"They may have difficulty in advocating for themselves, so we felt by providing some funding for a public intervener to represent people or to at least advise people when they take on larger corporations, it would just make the playing field a little more level."
Another recommendation is to have unscheduled fuel price-adjustments eliminated. Currently IRAC reviews petroleum product prices, such as heating oil and gasoline, twice a month, but is free to make a price adjustment at any time.
The committee can only recommend changes, and any actual changes would have to go through the legislature first.

Next time maybe....

Nice girl from Summerside marries great guy from Summerside and raises large family in Charlottetown but that won't get you elected in Charlottetown... but bigger upsets have happened and we just have to look back to November of 1988 when taxi driver (property supervisor) George Proud defeated three term incumbent Tom McMillan by 259 votes but in that situation Tom had become a cabinet Minister and according to most had lost touch with the locals (in other words didn't give out enough jobs)... he also had David Weale a known Tory insider running against him who ended up garnering 569 votes which probably made the difference... Shea may be right that Ignatieff won't "sell" here but the problem for Donna in this election is that Shawn has and continues to work very hard for "all his constituents" so as good a candidate as Donna is my money is still 2 to 1 on Murphy for any of you who care to look me up... she may have good timing though as my guess is that this will be Shawn's last term so she may very well position herself for the next time around...
Profit ready for fight in Charlottetown federal riding Veteran Tory member wins nomination
The Guardian
The election of Donna Profit, an educator from Charlottetown, as the Conservative Party’s representative in the capital city puts Stephen Harper’s Prince Edward Island team in place for the next federal election.
Profit defeated retired RCMP officer Robert Campbell during a nominating convention Friday night in Charlottetown.
More than 250 people attended the convention. The vote results were not made public.
The former dean of the Atlantic Veterinary College, Tim Ogilvie, will represent Malpeque.
In Cardigan, Stratford lawyer Kerri Carpenter will carry the party’s colours.
Fisheries Minister Gail Shea is now the only elected federal Conservative in Prince Edward Island as the MP for Egmont.
During Friday night’s convention, Shea said winning the riding of Charlottetown will be difficult, but not impossible.
“I just want to remind you that Egmont was a Liberal-held riding for almost 30 years,” Shea told supporters, adding that the Conservatives are now only 10 seats away from a majority government in Ottawa.
“Although we had no incumbent to face, we had a very credible candidate and we worked from a vote deficit of more than 5,000 votes from the previous election.
“At the end of the day, and at the end of the recount, we won by only 57 votes. But it only takes one.”
The vote deficit is similar in Charlottetown.
In the October 2008 election, Liberal Shawn Murphy won the riding with slightly more than 50 per cent of the vote against four other candidates. He received 3,189 more votes than his nearest rival, Conservative Tom DeBlois.
Profit said she’s excited to get the nod by her party faithful, and now she’s ready to get down to business and win the riding for the Conservatives.
This is Profit’s first run for public office.
“People are looking and they want to know what I have to say,” said Profit, a mother of seven.
“I want the people of Charlottetown to know that I can be a good representative for them and that the Conservative government is going to listen to us, and listen to me as part of that team.”
Profit is well known in the community as a swim coach and she has spent 25 years working behind the scenes in both federal and provincial politics. In addition, she is past president of the PC Association in District 14.
Shea also had a parting shot at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who is in Prince Edward Island today to attend the P.E.I. Liberal Party fall dinner.
“In case any of you people would like to attend, Michael Ignatieff is in town (Saturday),” she said.
“I can tell you on his last trip to P.E.I. he was in my riding of Egmont to beat the bushes for a Liberal candidate. After he left the only rumoured candidate pulled out so hopefully he maintains that record of success.”

Roundabout "Test Drive"....

Here's another reason why the City should step away from "test driving" a new roundabout at the "action corner"... this local business is now facing some serious survival issues particularly with the impending franchise loss and now is not the time to throw another obstacle at them that could potentially damage business by obstructing customers to their sales lot.... they probably won't have much of a chance at winning a law suit against their franchisor GM who is trying to reorganize but they may “up the go away settlement" enough to help them get their local operation back on its feet selling some other brand or more used product... let's all remember that this local business Island Chevrolet-Cadillac (in one form or another) has been operating at this intersection since the late 60's and over these years has employed a lot of people, paid considerable payroll and property taxes, and given a lot back to our Community... now that they are in a fight for their business survival the City should reconsider Island Chevrolet's concerns about the impact of the roundabout during this critical time and put the project on hold... maybe the City should step back and "test drive" a few vehicles from the dealership as opposed to test driving an overpriced intersection...
Island Chevrolet-Cadillac in Charlottetown to sue GM
The Guardian
A group of Canadian General Motors dealerships, including Island Chevrolet-Cadillac in Charlottetown, is suing the auto giant for millions in damages for alleged contract breaches and is seeking a court injunction to stop GM from terminating their franchises.
The 12 dealerships named in the suit are among the 240 to 250 stores GM Canada plans to close within the next year.
GM plans to eliminate more than one-third of its Canadian dealerships by October 2010 in an attempt to cut costs and streamline its business. The P.E.I. dealer is scheduled to close in 2010.
Eleven long-time southern Ontario dealers and one from Prince Edward Island filed a statement of claim in Ontario court on Thursday alleging that GM ended their franchise agreements in a "highhanded, oppressive and patently unfair' manner. They allege GM breached a contract that the company promised to renew as long as the dealerships met certain performance expectations.
The dealers say they want a permanent injunction to prohibit GM from ending their agreements and a declaration entitling them to remain open for at least another five years.
The claim says that unless the court rules in favour of an injunction and renewal of the agreements, the dealers "shall be destroyed.'
The claim is also seeking unspecified compensatory damages for loss of profit, goodwill, reputation, market share and business opportunities because of the alleged breaches, plus $1.5 million in punitive damages for each dealer.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Lots" of News... but very little issues..

Surely this Earth Action news issue is big enough to debate in our Legislature as it ranks right up there with the never ending PNP stories... maybe when Mike Currie is done with the "Kings County Torch" crusade he can ask Miss Labchuk to join him for a short run through Cardigan with a couple of geese as I understand the ones Gordon used were from Quebec... and then there's our media darling Councillor Tweel who's looking for a new "smoking bylaw" so the City can "police" what gas you're passing out your chimney ... really when you think about all these major issues facing our politicians it's clearly refreshing to know that if they called a meeting to discuss the "lot" of them they'd hardly have enough supporters for a good card game.... we had an accountant in Town yesterday from Toronto whom our staff gave some restaurant recommendations too and she ended up choosing “Lot 30” and today "raved" about the food experience... so Gordon please keep up the great work and watch out for any nude ladies running through the kitchen all by themselves....
Chef criticized for foie gras on menu
Friday, November 20, 2009
CBC News
A Charlottetown restaurant owner says he would consider permanently taking foie gras off his menu if there were a large group of people who wanted it removed.
'I don't really have a problem with it.'— Chef Gordon Bailey
Earth Action co-founder Sharon Labchuk, who is also leader of the provincial Green Party, sent out a news release this week calling attention to the foie gras at Lot 30, and asking chef and owner Gordon Bailey to stop serving it.
Foie gras is made from the livers of ducks and geese whose organs have been enlarged by force-feeding.
"It's one of the cruelest practices humans can do to animals in terms of how we raise animals for food production. Many governments around the world have recognized that," said Labchuk.
"It's been banned in California, that law is coming into effect in 2012."
Labchuk is encouraging people to contact Bailey to ask him to take it off the menu.
Bailey acknowledges he does have foie gras on the menu from time to time. He has toured the facility in Quebec where he buys duck liver. He said the animals are force fed through a nozzle, but he doesn't feel it's done in a cruel way. "Personally, if it's done in clean conditions with the proper people who have the knowledge of how to do it, then I don't really have a problem with it," said Bailey.
"I would consider totally taking it off the menu if it seemed there was the larger sense of wanting to see it removed."
Bailey noted a ban on foie gras on Chicago menus was lifted last year.
He said no customer has ever raised the issue before, but he said he has heard from people who come to the restaurant specifically for the foie gras.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

They Come... They Go... some's only business

I got a response to last night’s blog about my mention of building a new hotel in Charlottetown and the person asked "why do you think Charlottetown needs another hotel?"... and I guess my answer is more talking about business enterprise and how it works... in 1951 Woolworths built a brand new 4 level building on Queen Street in Downtown Charlottetown which was then state of the art in retailing and I'm sure a few locals felt the pinch but it was the new best thing in department store retailing and Islanders flocked the store... in the sixties it was a new Kmart that became the new rage... in the seventies Towers were the new player in Town followed by Zellers in the eighties and the Walmart in the nineties and the latest a brand new Sears... they all come and go based on a business plans and the good ones like Sears survive through continued fresh investment and focus on what the consumer is looking for... it's pretty much been the same story in other sectors such as automotive, grocery, wholesalers, etc... and I suspect the same hold true in the hotel business and all you have to do is look around at our neighbouring cities like Moncton, Saint John, Halifax, etc... and you'll see new branded hotels like the Hampton Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Four Points Sheraton, Country Suites, and Radisson Hotels to name a few popping up all over the place with loyalty programs that tourists “we need” can't use here... all these new enterprises brings jobs and investments to the Island and gives potential visitors more choices and it also forces existing operators to reinvest in freshening up their facilities and programs all of which is good for the end users and our tourist industry... I think it's a great opportunity and I've lined up some investors who think so as well so to answer the question I think it's just business enterprise looking for opportunity that answers the question does Charlottetown need another hotel...

Roundabout "Fever"...

I go away for a week all the while hoping not to catch the H1N1 virus while traveling and I arrive home only to find out that there's another virus on the go and some of our politicians have caught this new "roundabout" bug... as promised in last night’s late blog post I got up early today and took a picture from my 8th floor hotel room looking over the "roundabout" into the near empty convention centre in Levis, Quebec.... now don't get me wrong as I'm not fully against roundabouts when they make "Practical" sense something which Minister MacKinley appears to have a strong political suit in... but it's my guess that when he gets the actually construction cost numbers to build an efficient one on Riverside Drive that he may very well abandon any such notion.... as for my stance against the one at Mount Edward Road I'm still believe that any safety issues there can be fixed with some lane widening at about a fifth of the cost of a roundabout... they spent a year talking about a proposed one at the Peter Pan and when the costs came in at about $6,000,000 they moved to a more practical improvement at $2,000,000 which appears to be working fine... in this economy our elected officials should always consider the economics before they make their final decisions and I'm hoping that's what they'll do here otherwise I'll be chasing down Ronnie too.... quite a waste of money in Levis but at least they don't have to buy a Christmas tree....
2 more roundabouts considered for Charlottetown
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
CBC News
Charlottetown's Riverside Drive could include two roundabouts as part of a major upgrade, says Transportation Minister Ron MacKinley.
Charlottetown currently has no roundabouts, though there is one planned.
MacKinley said some of the plans for Riverside Drive, a section of the Charlottetown bypass that runs from the Hillsborough Bridge to St. Peter's Road, are already set. It will be widened to four lanes with a berm down the middle.
"This is a very busy section of highway," MacKinley told CBC News Monday.
"There's 24,000 cars going by here a day and sometimes there's more in the summer."
Getting on Riverside Drive can be difficult, particularly at Exhibition Drive and by the energy-from-waste plant. Typically P.E.I. has used traffic lights at locations such as this, but MacKinley said putting two traffic lights so close together doesn't make sense.
"Islanders don't like signals. They're complaining to me about the bypass having too many signals, so we are exploring the idea of roundabouts," he said.
"[I] saw a lot of them when I was in California, saw them when I was in Ireland before, and we are looking at that possibility to see how it's going to work."
MacKinley said roundabouts are safer than intersections because the cars aren't going as fast if there is a collision.
The work on Riverside Drive is expected to begin this spring, with or without the roundabouts. The cost of the $6-million-plus project is being shared by the federal and provincial governments.

Roundabout Way To Get A Permit...

Well I can't help but get this photo off to Charlottetown City Hall as soon as possible... I've been on the road for over a week now looking at some hotel concepts in the US and Canada for the Charlottetown marketplace... tonight I arrived at the new Four Points Sheraton Convention Centre in Levis, Quebec (pop. 130,000) where a ton of somebody’s money was poured into this project... even though the Centre is on the outskirts of the City in a vacant field they spared no expense with a very urban contemporary look complete with an underground parking garage at $12 a car or ample outside parking that was free... there were hardly any guests and my rate was $110 for the night which is shockingly low for the level of investment so I suspect that it’s not a private enterprise project but I'll know more in the morning when I get the full tour... what struck me so funny was the significant street investment leading into the property and once you finally find the entrance you come across a "Roundabout" that would make Clifford and his crew drool with envoy... maybe I'll take a couple of pictures of the "Roundabout" and ask the City to build me one when I pull the trigger on the Charlottetown project... and just maybe help me secure a "permit" without the usual fanfare... hey, it wouldn't surprise me if in the morning I bumped into Mayor Basil and his team having a look around at this place as they'd love to have it "hooked" up to Credit Union Place... if you want to look the property over here's the link

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I think it's Wayne's...

I don't know for sure but it could be Wayne Easter's... I think he had one he was going to register when he went to Ottawa but he probably threw it away last week... check the fingerprinting before Ottawa does away with that too.... could be a mistake there Wayne...
Shotgun found outside Charlottetown motel
Friday, November 6, 2009
CBC News
Charlottetown police are investigating after an anonymous tipster called about a sawed-off shotgun found in a box.
The box was dumped in a ditch outside the Holiday Island Motor Inn on University Avenue.
Police are checking the gun for fingerprints and said so far they have no reason to believe the gun was used in any crime.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wade and "friends"....

There isn't enough I could say about how deserving an "Order of Canada" was for Island native and UPEI President Wade MacLauchlan who exemplifies the purpose of this honour... this would have been one of "Harry’s" proudest moments and I'm sure is being savoured by Marjorie, Duncan and all his "friends"... and speaking of friends there is no let up with Wade's commitment to this great Island and he's off to prove that again this weekend in Calgary as he fosters another event...

A Calgary – UPEI Connection

A group from Calgary gathered in the Selkirk Restaurant at the Delta Prince Edward recently. Led by Charlottetown native and Calgary-based real estate lawyer Bill LeClair, the group aren’t your usual bunch of business men and women blowing through town, or tourists visiting Canada’s green province. The group with Mr. LeClair is all students, all from Calgary, Alberta, and all attending the University of Prince Edward Island.

So often we share stories of Islanders, and Island families, ‘heading West’, to the country’s most active economy to find employment, either for months on end or even indefinitely. But we don’t hear much of those who come here, from away, to pursue their futures and leave family and friends back home.

A Charlottetown native, Colonel Gray High School and St. Dunstan’s University graduate, Mr. LeClair has made the trip to visit these students a regular occurrence. He along with Jim Palmer, Lou MacEachern, George Rogers and other successful Islanders are among the leading figures of a movement in Calgary, "The Friends of UPEI", to share the Prince Edward Island opportunity with those academic achievers who desire a place of study in the small classroom and small province setting – far from the office towers of Canada’s economic powerhouse Calgary. In fact Lou MacEachern has set up a "Friends" Business Scholarship at UPEI...

This group has succeeded through the dedication of their members and their belief in the quality of education and life provided by the University of Prince Edward Island’s ‘great small school’, and the continued support of Island native, Calgary businessman, and UPEI Chancellor Bill Andrews and his wife Denise, and President Wade MacLauchlan. This year Premier Robert Ghiz will be in Calgary as the dinner’s guest speaker, and Island entertainers Grass Mountain Hobos will perform.

The Friends of UPEI are a group of Island natives residing in Calgary who have been raising money to send Calgary students and support Island students pursuing post-secondary education at the University of Prince Edward Island. Through their twelve year history the group have raised over $900,000. Last year over $28,000 was provided for students attending the University of Prince Edward Island through scholarships and bursaries.

In addition to their generous contributions to students, the Friends of UPEI have also been strong advocates of their home province, promoting the Island and it’s way of life through their events, and assisting those Islander’s who have ‘gone west’ get established in the Calgary area. The 12th Annual Dinner & Silent Auction will be held this Saturday, November 7, 2009 at the Glencoe Club in Southwest Calgary. For ticket information please contact Bill LeClair at (403) 245-3500.

UPEI president honoured with Order of Canada
Friday, November 6, 2009
CBC News
Wade MacLauchlan, president of the University of Prince Edward Island, was presented with Canada's highest honour Thursday.
MacLauchlan joined 34 other Order of Canada recipients at Rideau Hall to be invested by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean. He was cited for his ability to bring innovative projects to UPEI, including a new National Research Council institute.
Also presented with the order Thursday was professional golfer Mike Weir. Former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna and Peter Mansbridge, chief correspondent for CBC News and anchor of The National, were both made officers of the order.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Riley" Waters... good luck there..

Good luck there guys with trying to get the "Park" back open but you’re up against some pretty "riley" waters when you relying on our Department of Environment to come to your aid... back when I was a kid I remember my grandfather passing through Tyne Valley and he looked in at the pond which appeared to be very muddy and he said "the water is pretty riley today" and until then I hadn't heard it called that before... over the years I've seen a lot of "riley" water but mostly in the fall and it seems that no matter how far Environment push back the buffers there is just as much red soil getting into our streams... I wonder if the people at environment ever considered that allowing the majority of these motocross enthusiasts to have a contained place like Mudrooters operating it might help keep these vehicles off our beaches and out of our streams where we don't seem to be able to control them or the environmental damage they do... sort of like when I got my license and drag raced all around Town but as soon as they opened the Oyster Bed Drag Park my friends and I curbed our enthusiasm there as opposed to the public streets where we could have hurt someone... and I think that's the case here and it time for Minister Brown to start leading and getting his department on side working with these enthusiasts as opposed to "riley" them up.... over the years Oyster Bed Raceway has continued to bring significant visitors to PEI and I’m pretty sure this will be the case here so let’s get to work and solve the problems not invent them...
Environment rules close motocross park

Monday, June 1, 2009
CBC News
A P.E.I. motocross park has voluntarily shut down while it works out problems with the provincial Environment Department.
The owners of Mudrooters in Desable told CBC News that the operation will stay closed unless they can resolve some issues raised by the department. They have already had to cancel one event, planned for the past weekend.
"We're getting a huge response from the riders, parents and family," said co-owner Gary Dunning.
"They're amazed that it's closed."
Mudrooters has stayed open through controversy before, when neighbours complained about the noise.
Loss of tourism revenue
Dunning and his partners met with local MLA Valerie Docherty and environment officials last week. He won't be specific about what issues the department has with the motocross site, but said another meeting is planned for this week.
Michelle Arsenault, whose teenage daughter races at Mudrooters, said if the motocross park closes, it would mean a loss of tourism revenue for the province.
"We probably would have spent over $1,000 this weekend to stay on P.E.I. for our family to have this little mini-vacation," said Arsenault, whose family lives in the western part of the Island.
"We would, normally, probably do that three or four times during the summer if Mudrooters is open."
Arsenault said instead, her family will likely head off-Island for motocross events.
The Environment Department will only say it has been talking to the operators of Mudrooters in an effort to "guide" the facility into compliance with provincial guidelines for silt control, run-off and buffer zones.

So what's wrong with investing....

Now here's some real big news for Jim Bagnall and Ms. Crane... Kevin Murphy a proven business operator receives 19 immigrant investor units and he ploughs the money back into his businesses, hiring new people, renovating his properties, and increasing their taxable value... and all the while boosting PEI's tourism product with projects like the Stanhope Beach Lodge that was literally falling into the ground... he received this money from some immigrant investors who willing invested their money (not the governments) in return for citizenship and none of them are complaining about Mr. Murphy... so where's the crime here Olive... now I'm sure the "don't get ahead gang" or "the sit on the couch crowd" will have all kinds of jealous reasons for trying to knock Kevin down for "doing something" but it's time to suck it up as it's not your money... thousands of Islanders have lost more money investing in Nortel Networks than will ever be lost through the PNP program but I haven't heard the opposition grand standing on this one or a thousand like them.... it's time to move on to new business in the legislature....
Kevin Murphy lays out his corporate PNP involvement
Wed, 11/04/2009
Eastern Graphic
By Paul MacNeill
Prominent Charlottetown businessman Kevin Murphy says to understand the true benefit he received from the controversial Provincial Nominee Program first requires an understanding of how his business is structured. Provincial corporate records show that businesses many might associate with the Murphy name received 19 units under the immigrant investor program. That, however, is misleading, he says. Some of those businesses he owns, such as East Side Marios. Some businesses he owns a portion of, such as Gahan Pub. And some, such as Sims Corner Steakhouse, he simply manages for others under the umbrella of the Murphy Group of Restaurants. “The reality is we have a large company with a lot of companies for a lot of reasons. Some of them are for shareholders. Some of them are for tax reasons,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “There are probably eight different situations about how we do things.” And that is part of the reason Mr Murphy believes his name is often associated with rumours about excessively benefiting from the PNP program.“It’s nutty. It’s untrue and it can’t be substantiated. It’s not there. The facts are the facts.” The companies in question are as follows: 100369 PEI Inc., two units. It is owned by Murphy Investments and operates East Side Marios. Murphy Investments is Mr Murphy’s personal company. 100415 PEI Inc., four units. Mr Murphy owns a 75 per cent share in the company that operates the Gahan House Brewery. The units were received under the former Conservative government.Gahan Pub Inc., two units. Mr Murphy owns 75 per cent.P. & W. Food Services, four units. Mr Murphy owns 60 per cent of the company that operates Pat and Willy’s, Fishbones, Jake’s and Off Broadway. Mr Murphy also owns a percentage of K & M Home Heating that received a single unit under the former Conservative government. Businesses that he manages include K & D Entertainment, which operates a pool hall. It received a single investment unit under the previous Conservative government and is owned by Chris Wright, a Murphy Group vice-president and Jeff Groom. Castello’s Inc, a Charlottetown restaurant, received a single PNP unit. Records indicate the president and primary shareholder is Murphy group employee Charlene Morrison. The Murphy Group also manages Sims Corner Steakhouse and ISE’s Sports Bar, each of which received two PNP investment units. Each unit represents a $200,000 investment into an Island business by a potential immigrant. In return, the immigrant is fast-tracked for a Canadian visa. After all fees are taken off the top an average of $50,000 is actually invested in the business. The local company names the potential immigrant to its board of directors for a five-year period. Collectively the 19 units represent an investment approaching $1 million. Mr Murphy says based on his ownership percentages his actual benefit equates to less than six units.The PNP applications were made at separate times over a number of years and all monies were invested directly into the specific business. The businessman said he was very careful to follow all the rules and regulations, including supplying business ownership percentages, an issue that the Auditor General raised in his most recent report. Prior to January 2008 rules governing the PNP program placed a limit of four investors per company, including wholly owned subsidiaries and affiliated companies. In his report earlier this year, the Auditor General pointed out the Ghiz government changed that rule without fully informing the public. Island Investment Development Inc., the crown corporation overseeing the program, did not update the policy manual located on its website. “In January 2008, this policy was no longer enforced and the eligibility section of the website was updated with a statement that, where there are common shareholders between multiple businesses seeking access to the Program, IIDI reserves the right to limit access to further units if one purpose of the company structure is to access further units. This decision would be at the sole discretion of IIDI. However, the original detailed policy on restrictions on cumulative investment remained on the website,” the Auditor General wrote. Mr Murphy says it is important to remember the benefit the PNP program brought to the Island. “I thought the program, with its faults and there is some, has been a huge advantage to the tourism industry for a lot of property owners.” He points to his own businesses as an example. “We’re in business just like anybody else. We have a lot of businesses that we run and we employ a lot of people. We are in different industries - manufacturing, hotels and restaurants, “ he said. “You just go around my businesses and see what was done to them in the last year or so.”