Thursday, January 29, 2009

Basil... you're slipping....

I can't believe it... last week a 12-storey hotel development was announced in Downtown Charlottetown and now a 17-storey hotel, 13-storey glass office tower and convention centre for Downtown Halifax and still not a "peep or threat" out of Basil wanting one for Summerside... what's the world coming too... now I know Basil has been busy trying to explain where Summerside is at the Big City Conference…. but surely while he was gone his high paid staff could have sent out some trial balloons for at least an 11-storey hotel and convention centre... and the more shocking news was that Basil hadn't got to Gail Shea as there wasn't even a mention of hotel for Summerside in the Federal budget documents... where are all the people for the new Racino going to stay.... maybe they should dust the cover off that silly "hotel proposal" they advertised in the Globe and Mail and send it up "West" for a truck load of taxpayer's dollars...
Announcement coming on Halifax's new convention centre, CTV reports
Luxury hotel, office tower part of project
By Chronicle Herald Staff
Wed. Jan 28 - 7:10 PM
Out with the old and in with the new, as they say.
The old Chronicle Herald building on Argyle Street and its neighbour the Midtown Tavern on Grafton Street will soon make way for Halifax’s new convention centre, CTV News reported Wednesday night.
The project, which is expected to be announced in the next week or so, will feature a 17-storey luxury hotel on the block facing Argyle Street, while the popular eatery and adjacent parking lot will soon be the site of a 13-storey glass office tower.
CTV reported that municipal and provincial politicians, as well as the developer, Argyle Developments Inc., declined to comment on the proposed project.
However, Fred MacGillivray, outgoing CEO of the current World Trade and Convention Centre, confirmed that the more than 25-year-old facility is now too small for many of the events that come to Halifax.“We are turning away business now that we were getting for many years that have outgrown us,” Mr. MacGillivray told CTV.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sorry... the waterfront is already spoken for...

I agree with one thing the author of the following letter says and that is that the old Dominion Building is not a logical site for a new museum
but I don't necessarily agree that Stratford is the best location either as it's not close enough to our University, schools and tourists alike ..... and besides the Stratford Waterfront is already destined as the New Downtown Disney and if you don't believe me just ask the Mayor and Council who spent $200,000.00 having all the pictures drawn up... and on top of that there is a major condo development being built on whatever land is not being used for new Downtown structures... so I guess Mr. Kelly is just out of luck as all the land is spoken for but just maybe the Town could apply to the Feds for an infrastructure grant to “infill” some of the Hillsborough Heritage River to make way for a museum... and why not a Racino too as Summerside just got one…
Stratford waterfront a perfect site for provincial museum
Letters to the Editor, The Guardian, 28/1/09
I have read with interest your recent articles and letters regarding a site for a provincial heritage museum. I must say that I am in agreement that a museum must interpret the story of P.E.I. by showcasing both our natural and human heritage. If a museum is to accomplish these goals, and draw Islanders and tourists alike, refurbishing an old, surplus building would not be the way to proceed. The old Dominion Building in Charlottetown was an office building, and would be a poor fit for a museum.
While no expert, I do think that a purpose-built building would be required given the strict environmental controls needed for an artifactory and provincial archives. I am quite sure that among the goals the province might have for investing in a provincial museum, finding a use for surplus office buildings is not among them. A retrofit building would be hard pressed to provide the necessary archival standard for conservation and preservation. In Harry Baglole's letter on Jan. 5, he stated that a provincial museum should be housed in a purpose-built building located in a setting near woods or the shore. I would like to put forth the idea of Stratford's waterfront as the perfect location. Central location: The IRIS Group's heritage study recommended a museum be centrally located to make itself accessible to the highest number of visitors. Stratford is in the capital region, and is now connected to Charlottetown via public transportation. The location has the added attraction of sitting on the bank of the Hillsborough River, a designated Canadian Heritage River.- Space: Stratford's waterfront has adequate space not only for a museum and provincial archives but also for car and bus parking. The location would provide dramatic views of the harbour and Charlottetown's skyline.- Government presence: The provincial government has demonstrated its commitment to the concept of 'one Island community' by finding new homes for government departments. As the third-largest municipality in province, there is a conspicuous absence of government presence in Stratford. Locating the provincial museum in Stratford would go far to address this deficit.- Showcase opportunity: A purpose-built museum has the potential to be an architectural gem, reminiscent of the Canadian Museum of Civilization across the river from Ottawa. A provincial museum on the Stratford waterfront would be highly visible from Charlottetown and the Hillsborough Bridge. The design of a museum should be a drawing card in and of itself.- The future: At some point, a marina is planned for Stratford's waterfront. Both municipalities would benefit if summertime tourists were able to take a pedestrian ferry from historic downtown Charlottetown across the Hillsborough River to the provincial museum in Stratford. A ferry could even complete the triangle, connecting to Rocky Point (Port la Joye/Fort Amherst) before returning to Charlottetown. Before a location is chosen for the wrong reasons, let's hope the province follows the IRIS Group's recommendation and allows a professionally led study to recommend the preferred site for a provincial museum and archives.
Doug Kelly is chair of the Stratford Heritage Committee.

Déjà vu ... and not missing the wait...

I read the following story and couldn't help but be reminded of the many times I got stuck on the Borden ferry due to ice... in fact it was never that bad as there was always good food and good company aboard especially when I was younger and in no rush to go anywhere... but when you were in the parking lot on either side sitting in a cold car waiting for the ferry to dock it could be pretty frustrating and quite expensive for the businesses waiting to get their wares to and from the Island... when we had the referendum day on the bridge I couldn't get to vote "YES" fast enough and later in the day the “Princess” found her way to the poles and cancelled my vote... and I always wished that they kept a skeleton service in place so all the "NO" voters would have to use the old service... leading up to the "Referendum" the "don't get ahead gang" where in full force and one of their biggest issues was with the "Link" was that it would change our "Island culture" forever... well sorry guys we Islanders are still here in full force and if you don't believe me you should have been at the "save rural schools" meeting last night... sorry you probably where there ....Déjà vu...
P.E.I.-bound ferry spends 15 hours in ice
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
CBC News
After 15 ice-bound hours, 38 passengers on a ferry from Îles de la Madeleine to P.E.I. have landed safely.
The ferry was scheduled to arrive in the eastern P.E.I. town of Souris at 1 a.m. Wednesday, but arrived a little before 4 p.m.
"The ice I guess is fairly thick and they got stuck in the ice for a little bit and they had to wait for the icebreaker, the Sir William Alexander, to come and meet them to try to open a path for them," said Steve Comeau, the ferry terminal manager with CTMA, the company that operates the ferry service.
"The icebreaker got stuck in the ice too. The tide was fairly strong and every time he opened a little path, it was closing in behind him."
There was plenty of food on board, Comeau said.
The company usually ties up for the season at the end of January and stays off the water for February and March.
This is the first time they've planned to offer the service all year round.

Smart Move Minister Ritz...

This is a very good move by the Harper Government as our beef and hog producers have been under a lot of pressure through no fault of their own. It would appear that the global market is the principal reason for most of the problems in the industry and it won't be a quick fix. So our family is paying close attention were we buy all our produce and local and organic certainly weight heavy in our purchasing decisions and we're hoping others will do the same and push the market demand up for local and help our farmers move their products... Kudos to Minister Ritz and let's hope this move keeps our farmers in business...
Farmers thankful for Ottawa's loan extension
Still looking for long-term solution
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
CBC News
A decision to extend the time allowed for cattle and hog farmers to repay cash advances from the federal government will provide some relief, says the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture.
Last Friday, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced that cattle and hog producers facing hard financial times will now have until Sept. 30, 2010, to repay money provided through the Advance Payment Program during the 2008-2009 production period.
The program is designed to provide farmers with some cash flow before they sell livestock.
In addition, the first $100,000 of each producer's advance will continue to be interest-free.
Mike Nabuurs, executive director of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, told CBC News on Monday that farmers across the country lobbied for the change.
He called the extension a step in the right direction but said a long-term strategy is still needed.
"This is something we've been pushing for," said Nabuurs.
"This deferral is a good start and over the next year and half or so we'll work at an alternative plan. We'd like to maybe see this be spread out maybe over a long period of time, in terms of the repayment, until we can get the livestock sector back to profitability."
Nabuurs said a long-term plan is being worked on now for the Atlantic region.
The issue will likely come up at the federation's annual meeting slated for Friday in New London.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Trace" back who sold them the equipment...

It's hard to believe that you could pay $1.5 million for a piece of equipment and it doesn't work... surely the manufacturer will come good for the defective equipment... maybe someone should "trace" who sold the plant the equipment.... I thought this was the whole idea behind this plant that they were going to be able to trace the retail product back to the farm the animal came from... and now over three years later we're just finding out it doesn't work after we sold the Federal Government on funding the facility for the "second time" because of its traceability and the public on the product safety... some "state of the art"....
'State-of-the-art' beef plant tracing system not working
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
CBC News
Special equipment installed at the Atlantic Beef Products plant on P.E.I. for tracing meat from retail stores back to the farm isn't working properly and never did, the province is now admitting.
Atlantic Beef Products is the only federally inspected beef plant in the Maritimes. When it opened in 2005 the tracing system, purchased at a cost of $1.5 million, was described as "state-of-the-art" and touted as an important marketing tool in this era of fears about bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
"One would assume if you would put your money down and you buy equipment or a product that it should work," Agriculture Minister George Webster told CBC News Monday.
"Once in a while you try something and it doesn't make the grade and that was obviously one piece of equipment that didn't."
John Thompson, president of Atlantic Beef Products, said the equipment was slowing down the productivity of the plant. About half the equipment is still being used, and the rest is up for sale.
"The current system isn't as accurate," said Thompson.
"We have a very good sort of process, production flow. We're fairly certain when we have the labelling on and everything else, we're fairly certain we can track the animal back to the producers themselves."
Apart from technical problems with the system, the plant was never going to be able to trace meat back from the consumer's plate directly to the farm, said Thompson, because retailers use different tracking systems that don't connect to the codes put on by processors.

What about a few ideas...

Awe Mr. Bagnall....maybe the money when to bail out some of the previous Tory projects like the Beef plant, the Hog plant, Atlantic Technology Centre, etc..... It's a funny thing but the last 5 years the Binns Government's was in power our Province experienced the most prosperous economic times in a 100 years and the Binns' Government never paid .25 cents against our Provincial debt. The current three members of the opposition were part of that Government and it's a little hard to show them any creditability when they start criticizing the current numbers... why can't we expect a few fresh ideas or suggestions from the Opposition or do they have any...
P.E.I. should be in surplus, says Opposition
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
CBC News
The P.E.I. government is winning no applause from the Progressive Conservatives for its announcement Monday that the 2007-08 budget deficit has been dramatically reduced.
The government said what was expected to be a $42 million deficit now stands at $3.6 million. But finance critic Jim Bagnall notes the previous Tory government had projected a $2.1 million surplus for that fiscal year.
"We questioned his figures from day one on having a deficit," Bagnall told CBC News on Tuesday.
"The first year that they were in government they did nothing but cancel and cancel and cancel projects, and capital expenditures. I'm surprised it's only this much because the Montague High school was $22 million: it was cancelled the first year. The artifactory was cancelled and capital highway projects were cancelled."
Bagnall said federal transfer payments to the province last year were the highest ever received. With all the cancelled projects and higher transfer payments, he believes the province should be in surplus, and he wonders where all the money went.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Advantage PEI... great job news..

Small business is the backbone of our Island business community and this company is certainly proving it... it wasn't long ago these guys started up and were tenants in our building at 265 Brackley Point Rd. and it seemed they were hardly in the building when they were back knocking at our doors looking to take over our own space in the building... since I always live by the motto "everything’s for sale except the wife and the kids" and I certainly don't like to hold people back especially if they are growing.... so I sold them the building and moved out... and it's great to see them continuing to grow and expand... kudos to everyone involved...
Advantage adding 40 new customer service positions
The Guardian
Charlottetown-based Advantage Communications announced Thursday that it will be adding 40 new jobs for customer service positions. Of the 40 new positions, 20 will go into its Charlottetown Call Centre, five in its Souris Centre and the other 15 in its Dieppe, N.B., location. There are positions in technical support as well as new positions in customer care within a new division in the company in Charlottetown, said Kent MacPhee, Advantage Communications president and CEO. MacPhee said he is particularly excited to announce the new customer care positions. “This is pretty much a new area for our company and one with significant growth potential and great employment opportunities for those less technical,” he said. “Our company was recently selected by a prominent Canadian firm to outsource some of their customer care business to Prince Edward Island and we couldn’t be happier.” MacPhee did not name the company’s newest client and expected to announce it at a later date. He was quick to credit the employee base and leadership team at Advantage for this newest contract. “When they came to visit our site in November, their selection committee had been on extensive tour throughout Canada, and said they felt very much at home at our organization,” said MacPhee. “It’s hard to get a better compliment than that. We have a fantastic team at Advantage and I’m so happy that they were so quick to recognize that.” With unemployment rates in P.E.I. creeping up to almost 12 per cent, MacPhee said the new jobs couldn’t have come at a better time. Training for the new positions will begin on February 11 and recruiting is getting underway. There are a host of full-time and part-time English positions, bilingual (English/French) positions as well as Spanish positions and the company is accepting resumes immediately as its office at 265 Brackley Point Rd. or by email at

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Olive"... and her band of "Merry Men"...

Update...Gee...I got a pile of calls on the following post... some "silly" liberals thinking (or hoping) I'm switching over... some Tories saying I'd be welcome (but most not welcome)... some media calling wondering what I'm up too... good news is I now know when and where the meetings are and I also got a call from the Opposition office inviting me to meet with them privately which is very polite... but as a committed liberal I'm not going to get caught at that... but I'm probably going to show up at one of the public meetings and then we'll all know...
"Olive"... where are you... I sort of caught a glimpse of a radio report that Olive and her cast of Merry Men were heading across the Island looking for thoughts and opinions from Islanders and I was considering showing up with a few ideas and questions of my own.... trouble is I didn't catch the when and where's... so I thought I would go to the first line of information the world wide web and the PEI Tory site to find this information... "absolutely nothing"... no mention of the meetings... no press releases... but more startling no policy... in fact the site was pretty "pathetic" for an organization who is trying to "tout" themselves as someone Islanders should consider electing... well I thought maybe they didn't have any volunteers or money to keep it up so I went to the web under PEI's Opposition office thinking I might find some "news" there but nothing again... surely Olive should be able to organize her staff or volunteers to get the message out when and where these meetings are if they ever expect to hear from Islanders... now I'm sure there was an advertisement in the papers (which cost money) and news reports but I didn't really didn't catch them so why not get them posted (free) on the web...

Thank God For This Economy... Kim is singing a new tune..

It really funny how the "tunes" change... and it great news they do... first I'm going to say MAJOR KUDOS to Richard Homburg and Mike Arnold for sticking with it and getting this much needed major project off the ground... secondly I want to thank them for affording me one of the biggest "laughs" of the year... Councillor Kim Devine with her mug front and center on CBC compass singing "tunes" of great praise for getting rid of the "silly" 39 foot height restriction in Downtown Charlottetown.... I'm still laughing this morning... back a few years ago I, as local developer, led a charge to increase the planning density in Downtown Charlottetown and my biggest complaint with the old bylaws was the height restriction was stymieing development in our City and I felt we should amend the bylaw and get rid of it... Councillor Devine and her band of "don't get ahead friends" were 100% against raising the height restriction... yes they did a "token" 10 foot setback amendment in the "tiny" core area but she and a number of other Councillors were dead against amending the height restrictions... now the economy is in the toilet and thank God "Kimmie and Council" are singing a new tune... this is so funny.... I think I'll run out a throw up a new "10 storey" on Water Street...
Crews start work today on big capital project
The Guardian
Homburg’s major $45-million three-phase development project is officially a go. Construction begins today on an eight-storey commercial office building on Fitzroy Street while work on the 10-storey hotel will begin in April.Charlottetown City Council approved a height variance request Thursday from the required 39.4 feet to approximately 127 feet for a proposed hotel at 123-125 Grafton Street. The hotel was supposed to front onto Queen Street, but Homburg ran into problems with the Charlottetown property owner who owns the TD Dominion Bank. Homburg needed the approval of that property owner before it could build on the vacant lot next door. That property owner is the Nemir Tweel Corp Ltd. and Christopher Tweel. The two parties were unable to reach an agreement and Homburg has since launched a lawsuit against the family. Homburg then applied to the City of Charlottetown for a new variance on Grafton Street where the development doesn’t involve any of the commercial properties owned by the Tweels.Homburg got the approval it needed on Thursday. A spokesman with Homburg said initial work will involve removing the current façade on the front of the Holman’s building, completing some structural repairs to the original façade behind the current façade and then proceeding with demolition behind that.The hotel is expected to open in July 2010. Part of the Fitzroy Street office building project will involve closing off a portion of the street. Beginning today, traffic will not be permitted to turn onto Fitzroy Street from University Avenue. It’s being closed off so construction equipment, such as the crane, can be positioned on the street. Homburg was using the vacant lot next to the old Playhouse but the Tweel company owns that. They cancelled Homburg’s lease last fall. A city official said the Fitzroy entrance at University Avenue will be blocked off for the next six to eight weeks. After that it will be restricted to one lane for the duration of construction.In the meantime, traffic which needs to access businesses on Fitzroy Street, between University Avenue and Queen Street, will be temporarily permitted to turn off Queen Street onto Fitzroy (normally the wrong way on the one-way street). Also on Thursday, the city officially threw its support behind an underground connector/pedway between the Confederation Court Mall and the proposed hotel to Confederation Centre of the Arts. The Fathers of Confederation Buildings Trust has applied for funding under the Build Canada Fund. The city supports the pedway project as long as it doesn’t interfere with applications the city has or will have under the same program.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Finally... some of the other side of the story...

In the last 24 hours I've finally seen some of the positive news stories relating to PEI's PNP investments and it appears most of them are coming from business people who are frustrated at the one sided "knocking" recipients of PNP were getting... it was starting to tarnish the image of small Island businesses and they are "speaking out" to the media as the media were never looking for the good side of the story... What was it with the media on this PNP file... first it was the "CBC political panel"... Jack, John and Paul doing a wrap up of the last house session and the next thing their pounding the Government on the PNP files and alluding to all kinds of cover-ups, improprieties and conflicts yet each and every one of them were recipients of the program themselves... no proof, no auditor's report, just damning the very program they took advantage of... one would have thought that the CBC program director and management would have had the good sense to know the panellists were in some sort of conflict themselves before they let them approach the subject on air... they didn't even have the decency to promote the benefits the program was to their own businesses.... then we have the case of the Guardian reporter "qualifying" Gordon Cobb as "a senior adviser on the Provincial Nominee Program" when in fact Cobb had little or nothing to do with the program other than his trying to get the Deputy Minister's job... as I hear it he did little of anything on the file... so where was the Editor who should have asked these questions... and when the Opposition where firing off innuendos about how the Liberals managed the programs and who got what.... why didn't the media ask the Opposition how they had managed the program any better… and had they any improprieties within their own administration of the program... there is enough "crap" going on in this world and it's time the media starting looking for both side of the story.... as there is a good side to this story...
Business rallying for immigrant investor program
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
CBC News
P.E.I.'s business community is coming out in support of a controversial program that funnels investment money from immigrants into the Island's small businesses. Garth Doiron of the Summerside Chamber of Commerce says politics needs to be taken out of the discussion about the Provincial Nominee Program.
The immigrant partner section of the Provincial Nominee Program started in 2001 and ran through to September last year. A new version of the immigrant-investment aspect of the program — which is a federal-provincial partnership — is now in place but has different investment criteria that are out of reach for most Island businesses.
Not long after the original program ended, questions were raised about the quality of companies supported by it, and the direct involvement of government MLAs and senior civil servants.
While acknowledging there may have been problems with the program, the business community is urging people to keep in mind it brought much-needed business investment to the Island.
"Small business on P.E.I. needs a program like that," Don Cudmore, executive director of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., told CBC News on Tuesday.
"It certainly helped [tourism operators] get through the last couple of tougher years."
Provincial Treasurer Wes Sheridan said he has been hearing about the need for the PNP program as he carries out his pre-budget consultations.
On Tuesday, Garth Doiron, president of the Summerside Chamber of Commerce, said: "It's become a political issue and we think that needs to end. Cathy Hambly said the benefits of the immigrant partner area of the PNP program need to be remembered. (CBC)
"Proactive steps [need to be] taken to make sure it [the immigrant partner program] continues in the future."
Cathy Hambley, executive director of the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce, had a similar message.
"Not everything worked 100 per cent properly, or maybe the communication wasn't what it might have been and so on, so forth," she said.
"But I don't think we can lose sight of the overall benefit of this program to our business community and the broader community at large."
Sheridan believes the program is shielding the province from the worst of the current recession.
"We were the only community to grow east of Manitoba, so there's no question that immigration has been a big factor in why our numbers are where they are," he said.
The original program that ended in September required immigrants to put up $200,000 each.
The new program negotiated between Ottawa and the provinces requires $1 million.

And Guess What.... they also bought lots of other things..

It's almost hard to believe but I do go to a hair stylist about every three weeks for a bit of a "tune-up" and sometimes I'll come home afterwards and the Princess doesn't even notice my new "doo"... sort of like a lot of those people out there that "knocking" the program when they don't even recognize the benefits to our community as a whole... in fact my hair stylist had opened one of the recent "trimming" conversations with how "awful that PNP was" but when I asked her what her evidence was she hadn't any... just hearsay from a bunch of naysayers... so then the conversation turned to her business "things were great" and people were spending money... I always believe that a "new" dollar spent here in our community turns itself over a minimum of 5 times and finds its way around our community and this is really important during this economic downturn.... so we shouldn’t knock our good fortune and it’s great to finally see some of the businesses who recognize the “good” in this program…
Immigration to P.E.I. pumps new car sales
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
CBC News
While automobile sales plummeted last year in a sagging economy across North America, dealers on Prince Edward Island saw a big jump, and they're crediting an increase in immigration.
Sales that average around 5,300 vehicles a year rose to almost 6,000 in 2008. Tyler Honsberger, the business manager for Capital Honda in Charlottetown, said many of his customers are new Asian immigrants.
"They'd be buying the Honda Civic. A lot of them come here with their families, so a lot of them are looking for a larger vehicle like a van," said Honsberger.
"Some of them that aren't used to the winter driving are getting a four-wheel drive as well."
CBC News contacted a half-dozen Island dealers, and all report 2008 was a good year, with sales about 10 per cent higher than last year. Honsberger said many of the new immigrants aren't looking for financing.
"They would usually pay by cash just because of them being new to the country, not having a landed status yet with a SIN number, no credit history, so 99 per cent of them would be paying cash," he said.
More good years expected
Auto dealers expect the good times to continue on the Island as the flood of immigrants who applied last year, close to 2,000, are approved and move to P.E.I.
The bulk of these immigrants applied through the provincial nominee program, which allowed them to put up $200,000 — a portion of which went for investment in an Island business — for a visa, pending health and security checks.
Honsberger expects the hundreds of millions of dollars distributed to Island business people, immigration agents and lawyers will also help car sales.
"It would help quite a bit," he said.
"Once people are buying cars, they're putting insurance on them, they're servicing them, they're registering them, so every little bit helps."
The PNP ran from 2001 to September 2008. In the early years the program was moderately successful, attracting a few hundred applicants a year. That leapt to 800 in 2007, a boom now being enjoyed by the car dealers. The soaring number of applicants in 2008 could fuel even better business.

Thanks to the PNP's...

I said it before and I'll say it again the PNP investment was great business for PEI and it kept a lot of small business people going and I'm afraid without it next year a lot of small business operators are going to feel the pinch... what annoyed me the most about all the yapping and innuendo by the Opposition and the media is they didn't wait for the Auditor’s report... they just continued to shoot their face off without the facts... and as I also said before I'm sure there are going to be a few bad apples that will come out of the Auditor's report but that is to be expected of any program that size... but the record will show this was a great program for PEI and kudos to Minister Brown for aggressively processing as many applications as they could for the economic benefit of all Islanders and the welcoming of new Island resident investors...
P.E.I. leads nation in wholesale growth
OTTAWA — Prince Edward Island was the only province in Canada to show an increase in wholesale trade in November, reports Statistics Canada. For the nation, wholesale sales fell 1.6 per cent in November to $44.4 billion as decreases in four of seven sectors contributed to the third decline in four months. Overall, sales were down in nine provinces in November. Only Prince Edward Island, at 5.1 per cent, posted higher sales in November. Nationally, farm products was one of the positive growth sectors in the wholesale trade, advancing 3.5 per cent while sales rose 0.2 per cent in both the food, beverages and tobacco sector and the personal and household goods sector. Statistics Canada reports the volume of sales was also in decline, down three per cent. The agency says the sales decline reflected both lower export demand for Canadian goods, a significant part of which flows through wholesale markets, and weaker sales in Canada. At current prices, the machinery and electronic equipment sector declined 1.6 per cent in November, reflecting a 1.9 per cent sales drop in the machinery and equipment trade group, which accounts for half the sector. Sales in the automotive products sector declined 2.2 per cent in November, motor vehicle sales fell 2.3 per cent from October to $5.1 billion. The largest decline - six per cent - came in the "other products" sector, which fell to its lowest level since March 2008, while sales in the building materials sector decreased 1.3 per cent. Wholesale inventories rose for a ninth straight month, increasing one per cent in November. Overall, 10 of the 15 wholesale trade groups reported higher inventory levels.

"Sue Them All"... Kiss that goodbye theroy...

Gene Simmons of Kiss fame is a great marketer and when Rolling Stone magazine interviewed him about all the breaches of copyright in the music industry his theory was "Sue Them All" so I've posted an article from Benjamin Lipman's blog that might come to the same conclusion as I'm suggesting to Mayor Llewellyn..."Perhaps the model has changed and it’s time to change with it?" ... in any event the article is worth reading if not just for fun...
Mayor Llewellyn please save your money.... I'm sure it doesn't seem fair that your Community is potentially facing a school closing but wouldn't you be a lot better off to have a public meeting to discuss developing a business plan "to save your school" as opposed to developing a costly legal case to fight the closing... spend your time and money on a professional presentation that adds some facts and figures to why your school should be left open... give the people who are trying to make these decisions your side of the story and hopefully you will prevail... although throwing the shoe appeals to me it doesn't really get you anywhere and take it from me that you can waste a ton of money trying to "sue" for "feelings" and get nothing in the end even if you win.... lets face the fact that there is going to be change so armour yourself with facts and not threats and you'll likely get further ahead on this issue... and good luck...
Georgetown taking legal action over proposed school closure
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
CBC News
The town council in the eastern P.E.I. community of Georgetown has voted unanimously in favour of taking legal action to save the local school.
Mayor Peter Llewellyn said the Eastern School District did not follow its own policies for school closures when superintendent Sandy MacDonald filed a report Jan. 7 recommending 11 schools be closed. He also disputes the numbers MacDonald used to determine that Georgetown Consolidated should be one of those schools.
Town council has scheduled a public meeting for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the King's Playhouse to present its case to residents.
The Eastern School District is in the midst of 90-day consultation period on the report. It will present final findings to the provincial government and cabinet will decide which schools will close.

If You Build It They Will Come...until the rules get in the way

I can't help but think after reading the following article that the Town of Stratford just don't get it.... there is an old expression "if you build it they will come" which implies that sometimes you have to make things happen before they evolve into something’s others can see... I'm sure the Town is very sincere in their pursuit to promote wind energy but I think developing a set of "rules" (bylaws) is the first step backwards to getting something done... I'm thinking if they threw away the rule books and spent more time promoting the concept of wind energy they would probably find more people like Mr. Thompson who really want to do something… Like most people in this economy Mr. Thompson’s probably looking for some kind of return on his proposed wind turbine investment which is probably why he is considering wind energy in the first place... why not try to work with those interested and apply some unwritten "common sense rules" that may help kick start a number of projects in the Community like Mr. Thompson’s that other will see intriguing and will follow... yeah, I'm sure the odd one will have neighbours complaining BUT THEY ARE GOING TO COMPLAIN ANYWAY NO MATTER HOW SILLY YOU MAKE THE RULES... so throw away the rule books and start working with some people and get this Green energy working in our Community.... you have to start somewhere and “ruling” out 95% of your customer base straight off the bat doesn’t seem like a good business plan to me…
Size matters for wind turbines, Stratford resident says
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
CBC News
The Town of Stratford is the first municipality on P.E.I. to pass its own bylaw allowing homeowners to put up wind turbines, but some residents are finding the rules too restrictive.
The bylaw was drafted and passed last week after a number of requests from residents, said Mayor Kevin Jenkins. The town wanted to allow wind energy development, said Jenkins, but it also knew it could be controversial.
"We recognized the various risks that are out there, and I think we've addressed them in the bylaw," he said.
There are two main restrictions on wind turbines in the bylaw: the lot must be at least an acre (0.4 hectares) and the turbine is limited to five kilowatts. Some are arguing the rules are too restrictive since few residents in Stratford have lots that size, and five kilowatts is only enough to power a small bungalow.
Stephen Thompson has enough land, but he wanted to put up a bigger turbine to help power his large, 4,000-square-foot home.
"I was hoping that they would say if you required a 10 kilowatt … turbine or windmill, they would say that's fine, as long as you met all the safety requirements," said Thompson.
Carmen MacIntyre, who works for a turbine manufacturer in Charlottetown, helped draft the bylaw. While she agrees there has to be some limit to the size of turbines in residential areas, she understands Thompson's predicament. Not only will Thompson not get as much power as he would like, smaller turbines are not as cost effective as larger ones.
"It would take you somewhere between 17 and 24 years to pay that machine off at today's power rates," said MacIntyre.
"It's still a little bit of a noble cause."
MacIntyre noted that if P.E.I.'s electricity rates continue to climb, homeowners will get their money's worth out of the turbines a lot faster.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Speaking of smelt shacks... I think it was a "Hab"..

I was watching the Gentleman on Compass tonight with the "Leafs" jacket and I couldn't help but think I might have figured out this caper......
it was probably a Habs fan and thank God I have an alibi as I'm home with the flu and if you don't believe me just ask the Princess as she's ready to throw me out... on a more serious note there is just too much of this kind of senseless destruction happening in our communities these days and the quicker people come forward with information the better... on a lighter note one of my Hab buddies from Summerside sent me an email early last Sunday morning after the Habs put a pounding on the Leafs and since there was some "shack" talk in it I though I might share it with you but please don't burn my blog... and to prove I'm a good sport I'll mail this Gentleman $20 on behalf of all Hab fans to help rebuild...

-----Original Message-----
From: johnfromsummerside
Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2009 8:40 AM
To: Tim Banks
Cc: to a lot of poor leaf fans
Subject: Habs


I was listening to Ocean 100 on Friday morning. The sports news highlighted
the Habs as "raking" the Leafs. Personally I thought that was a little
harsh. It just doesn't seem fair to kick them when they're down. They will
be fair game when they become competitive again....not sure if you & I will
see it in our life time. You got to admire the optimism of those Leaf fans.

GO HABS GO. PS another win last night. Ho hum.

From: Tim Banks
Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2009 10:11 AM
To: johnfromsummerside
cc: to a lot of poor leaf fans
Subject: RE: Leafs


I'm glad Wilson had a sit down with the team Friday and asked the "veterans" to show up... problem was the poor lad thought he had real NHL'ers but as it turns out he would have trouble finding a "veteran Pee Wee" on that team... look up "losers" in the dictionary as they have a picture of the current Leaf Team and you couldn't find a hockey player amongst them...

John if they have any more room left in the Summerside Harbour let me know and I'll send a bus up to Toronto and fetch a bunch of Leafs down for some "smelt" fishing as that is about the only thing those clowns could do on the ice with a stick and they would need to be in a "shack" to do it as they couldn't figure out anything in front of a crowd... it would be great for Summerside's new furniture store as there would be a run on lazy-boy chairs...

The only two issues would be that you couldn't really leave a Leaf team member in a shack alone as he may try to "tie his skates" and fall through the fishing hole... the other issue would be these lads like to head out for golf early in the year and they may have a little trouble managing their way across the "ice cakes" to find the course as they can't even make their way across the blue line on a hard patch of ice...


Investigators suspect arson cause of smelt shack fire
The Guardian
Investigation by the RCMP and Canadian Coast Guard is ongoing in a fire that destroyed a smelt shack on the bank of the Hillsborough River in East Royalty occurring the night of Jan. 14. Bill Murray, the owner of the shack, said it is likely an act of random vandalism, considering there were a number of ski-do tracks in the area and because a similar thing occurred last year. "They must have been out partying for the night and burned it down before they left." Last year, a couple of the shacks in the area, with different owners, were damaged as a result of gunshots but there were no suspects charged. The shack was one of nine smelt shacks in the area and he is hoping by getting the word out, more people will be aware of the problem, Murray said. "We just wanted to make the public aware." The problem could have been much worse as the shacks usually have a propane tank in them but the one in Murray's was being filled at the time. "They're lucky the propane tank wasn't in there, it could have been much worse." He has plans to rebuild the smelt shack with the help of friends and has received support from his community, Murray said. "It's amazing how the local community gets together to help out." The Canadian Coast Guard has stepped up patrols to help combat the problem.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Stormy" future for Jobs... roll up the RIM..

Steve Jobs may be stepping aside from Apple for health reasons and this gives the marketplace an opportunity to punish Apple shares which were down again today to $83 after reaching $192 earlier this year... now some may think it's because Jobs is no longer around... but there is a "Storm" a brewing... and I got one... yes just after Xmas I got the new Blackberry "Storm" and it ain't no sissy art deco piece of "snobbery" like the Iphone... snobby... let's go back about a little over a year ago when I headed into an Apple store in Boston to pick up the much touted Iphone.... a really cool store sleekly laid out with all kinds of interesting gadgets and very, very busy... so when I finally got one of the young "urban looking" kids to wait on me he said "sorry" fresh out... and maybe a blood test and we'll give you one... yeah lots of hype but no delivery and when I finally got to test one out I must admit it was cool but a little slow on the browser and it seemed to "drop" a lot of calls but that could have been the service provider... after some consideration I decided to "wait it out" and see what Blackberry was going to come out with... well the wait is over... and the Blackberry "Storm" is going to Kick Ass with the business user... now I'm not going to say the Storm is way ahead of the Iphone but here's the math... Apple was down about 3% again today and Blackberry RIM was up 9.2 % and if that ain't Ass Kicking I don't know what is... on another note I kind of feel for Mr. Jobs as it appears he and I have something in common....
Apple stock retreats as Jobs takes medical leave
Thursday, January 15, 2009
CBC News
Apple 3-month Nasdaq chart
Shares of Apple Inc. retreated on Thursday, a day after company CEO Steven Jobs said he was taking a leave of absence until June due to health issues.
Apple's stock finished down $1.95 at $83.38 after earlier getting as low as $80.05.
Jobs, 53, told employees in a letter last week that he was suffering dramatic weight loss due to a hormone deficiency. He said at the time he had begun treating the condition and wished to remain at his post.
But in an email to Apple employees on Wednesday, Jobs said his current health issues are more complex than he thought.
The New York Times, citing two unnamed sources, said Jobs is not suffering from cancer, but from a condition in which his body has difficulty absorbing food.
Jobs is being replaced by Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook. Jobs said he will remain involved in major strategic decisions.
In the wake of the Jobs announcement, RBC Capital Markets cut its rating on Apple's stock to "underperform" from "sector perform." RBC also cut its price target on the stock back to $70 US from $125 US.

Economics seems to be winning out... too bad..

The following is a pretty interesting article I read on Newsweek’s web site about "Efficiency vs. Economics" as it relates to the car manufacturing industry and I suspect that same kind of economics will play into "wind energy", "solar investments" and "hydrogen energy" capital growth plans particularly as these relate to new "Green" building technologies. Bottom line is they were all starting to look attractive when oil was $140 a gallon but as they demand for oil decreased and the price fell off so did the probability of investors getting returns on these new types of investments... couple that with the beating investors took in the markets over the last year and there just isn't any appetite to do "green investing". If you look at the article closely you will note that although everyone wants to be "green" even the environmentalists aren't going to fully change until it makes financial sense... is there a solution... I don't know but I think if we all start practicing "practical" energy efficiencies until the investment climate gets better than at least we doing something to save our planet’s carbon.. that's what we tried to do in building our new head office building as we couldn't afford to get to "Leed" certification but we do have a much more energy practical building than our previous one... am I going to do a wholesale change to how I approach my own personal energy uses... no… but I am going to try a lot harder without having to get rid of the fast cars… yes... maybe drive them slower and less...
Efficiency vs. Economics
Will the recession prevent hybrid and electric cars from going mainstream?

By Julie Halpert Newsweek Web
Jan 14, 2009
David Blume, a 48 year-old seafood retailer from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., feels guilty about the gas he burns during his 60-mile roundtrip commute—up to a point. A self-described environmentalist, he considered purchasing a hybrid, but balked at spending $5,000 more, an amount he won't soon recoup with gas prices at their current level. He ultimately picked a conventional Honda Civic that gets 37 miles per gallon. "I'm all for saving the environment, but my first priority is putting my kid through college," says the father of a high-school senior. "I won't even consider a hybrid unless gas prices change dramatically again."
Such sentiment could pose a major problem for beleaguered automakers that are shifting away from SUVs and banking on fuel-efficient hybrids and electric cars to stay in business. As expected, the cars showcased at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit were vehicles that run primarily on batteries, including the much-hyped Chevy Volt, the Jeep Patriot and the Dodge Circuit EV sports car. Also front and center were updates of already popular hybrids like Honda's Insight and the revamped Toyota Prius.
Carmakers saw the show as an opportunity to advertise positive change. "People were expecting a funeral for 2009," says Jon J. Lauchner, vice president of global program management for General Motors, but "GM is here to stay. There is no reason to think we won't get past this rough patch." Glancing around the auto show floor, he adds, "We have cars that people will buy and will buy in big numbers."
That may be a bit optimistic. Given the bleak economy and relatively tight financing market, buying a new car just isn't as easy as it once was. The million-dollar question going forward: Will the recession kill the chances of hybrid and electric vehicles from going mainstream? Asking drivers to pay more when they've got little to spend is proving to be a tough sell for the auto industry. "With gas under $2 a gallon, it's hard to convince consumers to invest that additional money," says John Nielsen, director of auto repair and buying for AAA in Orlando, Fla.
For the moment, driving green requires a substantial upfront investment. The GM Volt, which plugs into a household electric socket to charge, is slated to retail for $40,000, nearly the same price as a conventionally fueled Mercedes C Class. While Jim McDowell, vice president of BMW's Mini division, says drivers are going "bananas" over its pilot electric vehicle, the one-year monthly lease price is $850, more than twice as much as the comparable non-electric Mini. And hybrids, which use gasoline to power a combination electric-gas motor, cost more than comparable gasoline-powered vehicles. For example, Honda's 2010 Insight is slated to be the least expensive hybrid sold in the United States at under $20,000. That's still nearly $5,000 more than a Honda Civic running on unleaded. And for all the positive press and public opinion about Toyota's Prius, sales of the car plummeted 44 percent from December 2007 to December 2008.
Washington has put a lot of pressure on carmakers to go green, but that doesn't mean consumers are willing to buy, says Geoff Pohanka, a dealer with Pohanka Automotive Group in Marlow Heights, Md. The "economic crisis is trumping the environmental crisis," and it will "be a bumpy road" with many of these vehicles, especially the larger hybrids, sitting on dealer lots, says Pohanka, whose dealership sells numerous makes including cars from GM, Chrysler and Toyota. While the IRS does allow tax breaks on hybrids, they're limited and range from only $300 to $3,000 for 2008 and 2009 cars.
Buyers are feeling too squeezed by the economy and just are no longer willing to pay a premium for cars like the Prius, says Jon Kinkov, managing editor of autos for Consumer Reports. Americans are fickle and "there won't be a wholesale rush" on hybrids unless their prices come down and gas prices go back up.
Detroit says it's taking sticker shock into account. Sue Cischke, Ford Motor Co.'s group vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering, acknowledges that hybrids and electric vehicles need to be made more affordable. As technology evolves, she insists, and more of these cars roll out of showrooms and are produced on a bigger scale, prices will begin to come down. Exactly when that will happen is unclear.
Michael Simon, a 52-year-old professor in Ann Arbor, Mich., is waiting for hybrids to become more mainstream before he trades in his 2001 Honda Accord, which has racked up 195,000 miles during Simon's 92-mile roundtrip commute. An environmentalist who composts vegetables in his backyard, he would prefer a hybrid—but not yet. "I'm holding out," he says. "As long as my Honda is safe, I'll continue to drive it."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Good Time To Renegotiate...

I don't think anyone has or for that matter can anyone explain why the former Binn's Government gave Ocean Choice an exclusive on processing lobsters on PEI... what I hear in the Halifax marketplace is that this industry is in the toilet and there is a major shakeup coming and until there is some more stability then it's going to be very difficult for the processors to find working capital loans... this being said I'm pretty sure that by May 1st there is going to be some hardball played between all the parties and I'd be surprised if the Province didn't have to come to the table... so maybe it would be a good time to renegotiate some of the terms of the previous agreement and allow some competition back into the market... I always felt sorry for Polar Foods, as they had a number of things going against them that never really came out in all the “foolishness” of the public hearings.... back in 1998 we had the Swiss Air Crash and the sale of lobsters in restaurants and fish markets on the eastern seaboard dried up as the consumers seen lobsters as scavengers and the thought of eating them put sales in the toilet... they were just getting back on their feet by mid 2001 and then we had "911" and again the market dried up as people just didn't feel like going out and dining. I understand Polar's inventory was devalued by about 40% which was significant enough in itself to bankrupt any company carrying the size of inventory their business was holding.... now their predecessor has just got the business back on its feet and low and behold the world economy goes in the toilet and the prices take a nose dive... so don't be surprised if we hear the knocking at Government’s door... and all the whiners will be out again looking for another “inquiry”…
New lobster season could add to oversupply
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
CBC News
With a lot of frozen lobster already in storage, and banks not likely to finance larger inventories in the current economic climate, P.E.I.'s lobster processors are turning to the government for help.
In addition to the credit crunch, the global economic crisis is also hitting the lobster industry at the demand level. The combination has many processors worried about the spring season: where will they borrow money to pay fishermen for catches, and where will they sell the catch?
P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Allan Campbell wouldn't be specific about how much money the seafood processing companies may be looking for from government.
"There's not a dollar figure, and you know, I guess until we as a group collectively make a decision as to where we can have the most impact with our efforts and with resources, it's hard to put a figure on that at this point," said Campbell.
"Our premier certainly is acutely aware of the importance and the situation in the fishery, and I'm confident of saying he would be very supportive of some effort to try and put some resources in to try and help the situation here."
Campbell said the lobster industry generates $250 million for the provincial economy each year and employs close to 7,500 people during peak season.
The province has also been meeting with the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, and Campbell said talks with everyone in the lobster fishing industry will continue.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Better Still...Make Them Mandatory...and save some lives

Let’s face it we live in Canada and it’s pretty hard not to find ice and snow no matter where you live… Last Thursday afternoon I was at office when I got a call to head to Halifax for an early Friday morning meeting and although the wind had died down and the sun was out I decided I’d better call our Halifax office for a weather report before starting out.... same thing nice and sunny so I elected to take my car as opposed to the SUV... I was about 20 minutes the other side of Amherst when I encounter major snow and drifting snow and it wasn't long before there was 4" to 6" of snow on the road leading to the Cobiquid Pass... I slowed down to about half my normal speed and even though I had brand new winter tires on the driving was still treacherous but it didn't take long for a few fools to start passing me... about 5 minutes from toll booth I came across the first vehicle which happened to be a lady with a 4 wheel drive car with "all season" tires who skidded off the road... not 10 minutes later 3 cars had to haul over to push out another car with "all season" tires that had gone off the highway as well... I didn't see either incidents happen but one of the guys who was helping push said he was following behind the lady’s car when she had pulled out to pass someone and basically did a "360" into the ditch and it was only a miracle that no one was killed.... We all know the tragic story of the kids in Bathurst and I can tell you as a guy who travels a lot that the biggest cause of accidents that I've come across has been a combination of tire and driver related incidents.... Simply put it's about time we enforced a National Program for winter tires like what was done in Quebec and develop a tax credit or incentive to help people make the change…. at the same time the "all season" tire should be outlawed during the winter... the Editor is “bang on” let’s look at the statistics and they may give us the answer.
Considering the merits of winter tires
Government should make available any information about the measurable benefit of using winter or studded tires.
The Guardian
When Quebec passed legislation last year making winter tires mandatory in that province, it prompted nationwide debate on the merits of the equipment. In this province, a coroner's letter to this newspaper a year ago triggered discussion here, but in the end, the provincial government declined to bring in a law requiring Island motorists to equip their vehicles with winter tires.That decision seemed appropriate at the time. Although Quebec claimed that 38 per cent of winter accidents in that province involved vehicles without winter tires, the P.E.I Department of Transportation and Public Works had no such data. Without this, government really had no basis on which to proceed with legislation that would force Island motorists to go to the extra expense of putting winter tires on their vehicles. We suggested instead that government promote the use of winter or studded tires, since the prevailing opinion among police and highway safety organizations was that they do help improve vehicle control on snow or ice-covered roads. We also suggested that government begin collecting information that might demonstrate whether winter tires help in reducing accidents in the winter. Now that a year has passed, it's a good time to inquire whether the provincial government has been able to glean any of this information. If so, perhaps it could share it with Islanders as well as any conclusions it might have about the benefits of winter or studded tires. If it hasn't been able to collect any conclusive data, perhaps it should step up efforts to do so. The insight could be useful if support builds in this province for legislation similar to Quebec's. The province should also keep an eye on Quebec's law to see if it actually makes a difference in accident statistics.Public opinion seems to be favouring the use of winter or studded tires. Anecdotal evidence, at least, suggests more Islanders are using them, or have expressed an interest in buying them. As if anticipating an increased demand last fall, many auto shops and tire retailers across the Maritimes warned motorists interested in winter tires to order early because of the shortage that might occur as a result of the Quebec legislation coming into effect.Winter driving is one skill all Canadians, at some point, have to develop. Most, no doubt, are open to suggestions for making that task safer. If there's information available about the measurable benefits of winter tires, government should make a concerted effort to communicate that to Island motorists. That alone would likely convince more Island motorists to use winter tires.

Congratulations Again, Mary Jean...

Here's proof again that the Irving’s are very important to our economy, they invest, they create jobs, they build a tax base... they do all the things a good corporate citizen should be doing and they do it in spades... and by the end of the week "the don't get ahead gang" will be in full force trying to shoot down the project. Mary Jean started this business from the ground and she has put a lot of personal efforts into the business and it must be very exciting for her to see it grow to this level... a week hardly goes by that I'm not on my way back and forth to Halifax and I always notice a pile of vehicles at the Borden plant no matter what time of day or night... these are great jobs for our Province and I'm grad our Government is showing their support.. Kudos to Mary Jean and all her staff... keep up the great work...
Master Packaging Inc. in Borden is expanding
The Guardian
An invitation has been sent to media today, announcing a press conference tomorrow when expansion plans to the Master Packaging plant will be unveiled. The press release says:
"Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, January 13, 2009 – Allan Campbell, Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, and Mary Jean Irving, CEO of Master Packaging Inc., invite members of the media to a press conference at Master Packaging Inc. in Borden, Prince Edward Island, Wednesday January, 14, 2009 at 11 a.m. to hear details of a plant expansion. A tour of the plant will follow the announcement."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Top Story... startling news... don't think so...

The media reporting on this file is getting funnier everyday... today's front page top news story... "Probe widens into PNP" sounds like something startling has come about but as it turns out the auditor is only doing what you would expect him to do... "conduct interviews with people involved"... so how has the Probe widened and where is the news in this? Back in October when the auditor announced he was going to investigate the Provincial Nominee Program the media went into a frenzy and the rumour mills went in full gear to the point that from the outside looking in anyone who took advantage of the program was stealing Government money or doing something illegal... I was starting to hear ridiculous accusations about businesses taking advantage of the program, including my own, so in November I decided to fire off a letter to the Provincial auditor as I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of... and I'm proud to be able to invest in our Community...
here are some excerpts of that letter...

Dear Mr Younker:

I have become aware of an increasing number of rumours circulating in the
Prince Edward Island community that I, and various companies, comprising
the A.P.M. Group have exploited the Provincial Nominee Program to the
extent of receiving as many as 30 units of investment. I wish to set the
record straight, and quash these unfounded rumours....

Basically the letter goes on to outline the details of a manufacturing company I own that has 17 employees that was a recipient of the program and another manufacturing company that has 12 employees which I am a part owner in was also a recipient under the Binns Government. As I am not the controlling shareholder and I have other partners I don't have the right to disclose the detailed information to the public but I clearly have given Mr. Younker all the facts related to these companies... the letter continues on to say...

..neither I nor any company in the A.P.M. Group have received any
income, dividends, repayment of shareholders loans or any other payment
of any kind from...(these companies)... other company directly or indirectly controlled by me, my spouse, or any
other member of my family has received any investments under the Provincial
Nominee Program, nor has any application been made under the Program....

I further invite you to conduct whatever examinations, investigations or
interviews, directly related to the Provincial Nominee Program, that you
consider appropriate with myself, my bank, the financial records of the A.P.M. Group
of Companies and my professional advisors to verify my involvement, or lack thereof,
in the Provincial Nominee Program. I am available to meet with you at your convenience to discuss any aspect of this letter.
Yours truly,

Timothy R. Banks,
, A.P.M. Group of Companies

Here is Mr. Younker's response...

-----Original Message-----
From: Colin Younker []
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 10:21 AM
To: Tim Banks
Subject: Re: Provincial Nominee Program

Tim, thank you for your information, we will review it and if we have any questions or need clarification we appreciate your offer for us to contact you.

It's been nearly 6 weeks since I got this note from Mr. Younker and I don't expect to hear from him as there is absolutely nothing to "uncover". I expect this will be pretty much the same with 97% of all recipients and the immigrants of the program and I'm sure there will be a few examples of poor judgement, paperwork, etc... but nothing more than the usual optics associated with any program.... I wish the media would wait until they have all the facts from Mr. Younker's report before they lend substance to what may just be unfounded rumours...

Probe widens into PNP
The Guardian
The province’s auditor general wants to hear from immigrants who invested in P.E.I. companies through the Provincial Nominee Program. Colin Younker is in the midst of his investigation into the PNP, launched in October after a number of controversial aspects of the program began surfacing. He has spent the last few months reviewing files within the Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning and conducting interviews with people involved in the administration of the program. Now the auditor general is interviewing immigrants who came to P.E.I. by investing in local companies through this program. He’s putting the word out to any immigrants who fit this bill he’s interested in hearing from them if they would like to provide information. Younker’s office has placed ads in local newspapers to get the word out. “Any immigrants who participated in the program, if they’re interested in talking to us can contact our office,’’ Younker said.The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) fast-tracked Canadian visas to immigrants who invested $200,000 on P.E.I. A portion of each investment went into an Island company. The program was established to encourage more immigration to the province. But serious questions have been raised about how the program was run after it was uncovered several MLAs and the former deputy minister in charge of the program accessed PNP money. Questions have also been raised about hefty bonuses paid to employees who processed applications, about which Island business owners benefited from the immigrant funds, and why so many applications were put through in the last four months before the program ended. A total of 1,877 PNP applications were processed between May and Sept. 2, 2008. This is more than double the total amount processed in all of 2007. Some immigrants have raised questions also about the way their investments were handled. The PNP saw immigrants invest in P.E.I. companies by purchasing only preferred shares. The immigrants therefore do not have an active role within these companies. The newcomers have also complained of problems in accessing $25,000 good faith deposits they were charged in addition to their PNP investments. Opposition Leader Olive Crane is calling for a public inquiry into the program. She has been pushing to have PNP administrators, as well as former deputy minister Brooke MacMillan and current deputy Michael Mayne, to appear before the public accounts committee to answer questions about the PNP. Innovation Minister Richard Brown has refused to allow this.And as each of these items have one by one come to light over the past months, Younker has been conducting his investigation. Immigrants who wish to provide information are asked to call his office at 368-4520 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Younker told The Guardian he hopes to have the final report on his PNP probe complete in time for his annual report, usually released in April.

Schools Out... so you say Alice Cooper...

Here we go again, another media frenzy "school closings"... should be able to get 6 months out of this puppy... Island issues are kind of funny... an independent poll showed that over 70% of Islanders believe that closing one of the hospitals in Western PEI was the right thing to do but when you ask the similar question in Western PEI 70% are against closing any hospital.... so now the Government want to make adjustments to the schools and before they announce where the closing are…. Islanders give them a 70% in favour of closing rural schools... but once people find out it's "their" schools that are being closed then 70% are against the closings... don't you just love this Island full of Nimbies.... "NIMBY" is an acronym for Not In My Back Yard and although the term was coined backed in the 1980's by a British politician he certainly can't claim full title to it because we Islanders started the franchise... awe the media was running out of good stories anyway.... can anybody get Peter Llewellyn a new pair of socks… and how about an Alice Cooper Concert this summer in Georgetown...
The following is results of the Guardian's latest poll:
Do you support the recommendation to close 11 Island schools?
· Yes - students and staff need the programs and support only offered at larger schools (72%)
· No - Programs don't improve education; personal one-on-once contact plus high expectations for students is better than fancy curriculum and extracurricular offerings. (28%)

Schools Out Lyrics
Well we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Makin all that noise'
Cause they found new toys
Well we can't salute ya
Can't find a flag
If that don't suit ya
That's a drag

School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher's dirty looks

Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can't even think of a word that rhymes

School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher's dirty looks

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all

School's out forever
School's out for summer
School's out with fever
School's out completely

Not A Contest We Want To Win...

These numbers are no surprise to me as I'm starting to see some of the signs that were around back in 1981 when the interest rates went up to 20% and nearly everything came to a standstill. Back then it became so tough that I just decided to put my head down and grind it out and the surprising thing was that when I looked up a few years later things had turned around. This time around I've asked my staff to bear down and focus on providing the best customer service we can and at the same time chase down every opportunity. I'm convinced if we do that we'll weather the storm without any casualties and wouldn't surprise me that we might even grow. There's always opportunity in chaos but you have to go out get it and I'm convinced that our staff is ready to take up this challenge. Islanders are quite resilient to tough economic times so even though these numbers show that PEI seems to be leading the charge I'm sure that the statistics are somewhat skewed to our small population size. My guess is that by mid May when our farmers, fisherman and tourist operators get back to their business these numbers will bounce back and we'll have a better looking economy... but if we're going to keep it we have to stay focused and provide the best in customer service in all the things we do..
P.E.I. jobless rates rises in December
(The Guardian/The Canadian Press)
Prince Edward Island’s unemployment rose to 11.8 per cent in December from November’s 10.7 per cent. Statistics Canada says the national unemployment rate was 6.6 per cent in December. Here’s what happened provincially (previous month in brackets):
— Newfoundland 13.7 (13.7)
— Prince Edward Island 11.8 (10.7)
— Nova Scotia 8.2 (7.8).
— New Brunswick 8.6 (8.7)
— Quebec 7.3 (7.1)
— Ontario 7.2 (7.1)
— Manitoba 4.3 (4.2)
— Saskatchewan 4.2 (3.7)
— Alberta 4.1 (3.4)
— British Columbia 5.3 (4.9)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Corn in the Cobb... but not at the Social..

It's a great attribute to always aspire to big things... I've always understood that Gordon was mentoring himself as a future Liberal political representative…. I understand he was seriously thinking of taking a run at Ghiz for the Liberal leadership back in 2003.... I think when the Liberals took power in 2007 both parties got together and switched some political jobs around.... Cobb who got to ACOA when the Liberals were in power was "traded" for someone from the Binns administration..... Yes I'm pretty sure Gordon "quietly" asked people to be "removed" AS HE WANTED THEIR JOB... and now that he hasn't got it.... well you figure it out but he’s now back to work at ACOA.... maybe there is a "top job" there ... but don’t expect to see him at the Strawberry Social anytime soon…
Senior adviser quits controversial immigration program
Thursday, January 8, 2009
CBC News
A senior adviser to P.E.I. Innovation Minister Richard Brown has quit over what he calls the mishandling of the provincial nominee program.
'I suggested quietly to him that Brooke MacMillan and Bill Dow should be removed from the file.'— Gordon Cobb
Gordon Cobb was seconded from the federal government for a three-year term to work on the PNP and some other programs, but Cobb told CBC News Wednesday his concerns over the PNP led to his departure in December after just one year.
The PNP allowed foreign investors to fast-track Canadian visas by putting up $200,000, some of which was invested in P.E.I. companies.
But many investors had no involvement in those companies. The federal government said that violated its rules, and Cobb suggested the province come up with guidelines to have the program conform. A consultant's report also made the same recommendation.
But Cobb said two people close to the premier's office, then deputy minister Brooke MacMillan, and Charlottetown lawyer Bill Dow, resisted changes to the program, and he urged Brown to take the two men off the file.
"When Richard's asking me about the feds and about what we should do for a followup, I said, 'Well, technically to get things going here, we need a brand-new approach to this,' and I suggested quietly to him that Brooke MacMillan and Bill Dow should be removed from the file."
Conflict of interest alleged
Cobb also said he doesn't think MacMillan or any MLAs should have received money under the immigrant program, but that did happen.
"I was just extremely uncomfortable and that was another one of the things that was driving my decision in December," he said.
Brooke Macmillan left the Innovation Department in August to become CEO of the liquor commission, receiving investment money from the PNP shortly afterward. The province's conflict of interest commissioner has ruled Macmillan and the MLAs were not in a conflict, but Cobb believes the laws have to be changed.
A disgruntled employee
Cobb has taken his concerns to P.E.I.'s auditor general, who is looking into the program.
Premier Robert Ghiz called Cobb a disgruntled employee, and said Islanders should wait for the auditor general's report into the PNP.
"It's unfortunate that Mr. Cobb wants to make accusations. Obviously the auditor general's going to have all access to these files, and it will be up to the auditor general to come forward and present the facts," said Ghiz.
Ghiz said the report will contain a balanced view of the operation of the program.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cabinet Shuffle You Say....

It appears our Nova Scotia neighbours are getting ready to weather a storm both economically and politically.... Premier MacDonald seems to be stepping up to bat and making some sound decisions and getting some good advice.... Today he shuffled his Cabinet and back in December he put together a blue-ribbon group of business operators as advisors and if you look close at the Cabinet changes and the tone of direction of the Government it would appear that he is taking their advice. Just recently Premier MacDonald “jumped-in” to a fight in Downtown Halifax where some Heritage activists were not being reasonable in working with the Armour Group to get a new development off the ground.... We do a lot of business in Nova Scotia and I started the 2009 year out with meetings first thing Monday in Halifax and although the mood of most people I met was "cautious" there still seems to be optimism in the Nova Scotia economy.... Nova Scotia has a business development agency called Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) and if you check out the following web site
it will give you a pretty good insight into what I believe is probably one of the best models of partnering Government with Business.. a lot of this has come about under the direction of Stephen Lund the CEO who reports to a private Board.... NSBI has brought a lot of new business to Nova Scotia include Research In Motion (RIM) with about 3,500 jobs.... Premier MacDonald seems to be following in the footsteps of Newfoundland’s Premier Danny Williams and taking an aggressive stance for his Province and his Business Community…..
From Nova Scotia's Government web site, January 7, 2009
There are some big changes to Premier Rodney MacDonald's provincial cabinet. Twelve ministers have new roles in the cabinet, one person is leaving, and another is joining executive council. The biggest change sees Pat Dunn become the new Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. Jamie Muir, who announced over Christmas that he will not reoffer in the next election, is leaving cabinet, but will continue to sit as MLA for Truro-Bible Hill. Premier MacDonald says the changes will bring new ideas into some departments, but still provide overall stability within government.
Back in early December Premier MacDonald announced the following,
A collection of blue-ribbon business folk have been appointed as advisors to Premier Rodney MacDonald’s new Economic Advisory Panel.

The 14-member group comprise business leaders from retail, infrastructure, agriculture and economics, and collectively employ thousands of Nova Scotians.

The advisory panel, which the premier called a who’s who of business people, will be in place for two years and will meet quarterly.

The panel will provide feedback, information and advice on general economic conditions in NS and around the world, including trends and opportunities, said a government news release.
Panel members include
Joe Shannon, Seaboard Transport/Shannex
John Risley, Clearwater Seafoods
Colin Dodds, Saint Mary’s University
John Bragg, Oxford Frozen Foods
Irving Schwartz, Schwartz and co.
Paul Sobey, Empire Co. Ltd.
John “Nova” Chisholm, Nova construction
David Hennigar, Annapolis Basin Group Inc.
Tim O’Neil, former executive Vice President, Bank of Montreal
Dianne Kelderman, Nova Scotia Co-op Council
Valerie Payn, Halifax Chamber of Commerce
JP Deveau, Acadian Seaplants LTD
Wadih Fares, WM Fares and Associates
Al MacPhee, NS Automobile Dealers association

Monday, January 5, 2009

Island Boy.... "Senior Charlottetown Senator???"....

Mikey boy, I believe you big time that you're an "Islander".... but my family has been here for over EIGHT generations.... we're in the 1880 Meacham's Atlas of PEI, we have hundreds in our family tree, we've garnered hundreds of PNP's .... and I'm still have trouble trying to pass myself off as an Islander. Mike did a great job confronting the media on this issue and so he should… as he's been doing just that for years... I personally think it's a great appointment and I'm sure Mike will put everything into it, but I'm not so hung up on the Islander issue... I'm more interested in how the future Senate Elections will turn out in Charlottetown as Senator Downe seems to have the upper hand walking that "super dog" around his neighbourhood and chatting everyone up... So Mikey don't take it personally.... take my advice if you want to win the hearts of Islanders and a permanent seat in the Senate... buy a Porsche like me and ride around with the top down... then everyone will know you're from the Island...
'I'm from the Island'
The Guardian
Mike Duffy says there is nothing controversial about his appointment to the Senate because he feels there are no issues with his residency. Duffy, a well-known CTV newsman, made the comments Monday afternoon shortly after arriving at the Charlottetown Airport on a flight from Ottawa. When Duffy was appointed last week, many people were surprised because he only spends a limited time on the Island and a stipulation in the Constitution Act states senators must reside in the province for which they are appointed. However, residency is not clearly defined and leaves room for ambiguity. Duffy said there were no problems concerning the legal end of his appointment and there should be no question over his residency and complaints he is not living on P.E.I. “I have two homes here. I’m from the Island,’’ he said. There will always be people complaining about the issue, Duffy said. “I’ll always remember where I came from.” Duffy was born in Sherwood and his mother still lives here. He has a summer home in Stanley Bridge and co-owns a home in Charlottetown with his brother. Duffy visits and vacations extensively on P.E.I. as well. The fact he spends a great deal of time in Ottawa and not on the Island is no different than any other senator or MP, Duffy said. “They’re expected to be at work in Ottawa.” Before the call from the prime minister came, he wondered what he would do if that call ever came, since he was only two and a half years away from retirement. He heard some people talking about retirement and not being involved anymore, Duffy said. “They were miserable.” He didn’t want to sit at home in a couple of years, wondering what if, and being miserable, Duffy said. “We don’t do this for the money, we do this to stay in the game.” His opinion on the Senate was clear before taking the appointment and he agreed there is a need for change, Duffy said. “Frankly, I (thought) we should cure it or kill it.” As for why he is on the Island, it’s a simple reason, Duffy said.“It’s part of my job.”

"Some Nice Juicy Sex"... you say...

Here's what a Guardian reader had to say about the the Nominee program being the Guardian's News Story of the Year For 2008 .... the writer didn't think much of it..
wondering about it from pei writes: (from the Guardian comments Dec. 30th)
Must be a slow news year when a program that can't seem to be grasped and understood by the media becomes the top story. I am wondering as this tale of speculation and rumour continues to be spun, how long until some nice juicy sex can be woven in with money, greed and abuse of power to turn the saga into a complete work of fiction. There are many things about the program that smell because in reality it is simply a 21st century version of the old Chinese head tax that is in place in all Provinces. If you think the PEI version is bad, you better put on a noseplug before you look at the grand daddy of them all, the Quebec version. Remember, its the intermediaries that make the connections between the immigrant investor and Companies. Once a Company qualified for units they went to the intermediaries to make the match. The role of Government was to carry out the administration of the program, qualify the Companies according to preset qualifications and determine if the immigrant met the conditions to participate. The real questions you have to ask are these, did any politician instruct staff or intermediaries to provide investors for particular Companies or did any politician have staff ignore rules that would have disqualified a Company. Anything beyond that like 'who got units etc, is only tidbit fishing to satisfy curiousities and so long as rules were followed by Companies it is not the publics business and there is no right to know because no public funds are involved. Intermediaries or agents can do whatever they want and could supply an immigrant to whoever they wanted to as long as the Company qualified, they are private business people and conformed to the rules before them. And it is no ones business what they do as long as they operate within the rules. When the dust settles it will be evident it was the best best development program the Feds ever had, didn't cost the taxpayers anything, the immigrants were happy to participate and many island businesses will be able to weather the current financial downturn because of it. Remember, this is a Federal Program, not Provincial, the Province only provided the administration for them but the Feds made the rules. Its a story more fit for the National Enquirer, than the National Post, but I guess when there are no Watergates to cover we readers will have to settle for Woman 104 Gives Birth to Alien Twins , its so much more fun.

Deja vu.... Someone's Reading My Blog...

I think I pretty much wrote the same thing back on December 29th so I guess I'll have to agree with Mr. Baglole...
Déjà vu - all over again
The Guardian, 05, 01, 2009
The recent lobbying efforts by various Charlottetown folk to 'shoehorn' the provincial museum entity into a recycled Dominion Building contains, for me, a strong element of 'déjà vu'. In fact, it reminds me of the not-so-distant effort of the previous provincial government to provide a rationale for moving the artifactory to Murray River. In both cases, the facility (new or recycled) and locality came first; and the museum element was seized upon as a means to other ends, developmental and political. But (attempting to put the horse before the cart), perhaps we should dare to think - to dream - more ambitiously. How about a brilliant purpose-built new building, designed by a modern-day William Critchlow Harris, and located in a lovely natural setting, near woods or seashore, and with ample parking in the vicinity for fleets of schoolbuses. There are, indeed, several such locations available in the Greater Charlottetown area. Given the present economic down-turn and the stated intention of governments, pretty well everywhere, to 'spend' our way back to prosperity, there may never be a better opportunity to obtain major federal funding for such an undertaking. Suddenly, there's a lot of 'buzz' about large amounts of money becoming available for new buildings and 'infrastructure' generally. Besides - I'm sure that creative minds can come up with other dynamic and appropriate culture-related purposes for the born-again Dominion Building.
Harry Baglole,