Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wrong Again Miss Devine... try and help for a change

There could only be two theory's behind Miss Devine's response in the Guardian to the owners of Maid Marian's... the first is she went to Public Relations School (which she did) where she subscribed to the old political adage "that a great defence is a bullshit offence"... or the second is she is naive enough to believe her own response... and I really don't know which theory to subscribe too but I can tell you it's been my experience (and I’ve taken a pile of it) that most of the problems like the ones the Walker’s are having take root in City Hall... and if you ask the guy from Newfoundland who's building the new condo/spa on the waterfront, or if you ask the developers of the new condo at Richmond and Rochford who had to go back a few times to get there permit, or you ask the gentlemen whose trying to develop the apartments at Idlewheels Trailer Park, or you ask just about anyone who has tried to develop something in Charlottetown recently you'll get the “same type of feedback” from them about City Hall... and somewhere in the middle of it all will be Miss Devine... simply put the City has been dicking around with delays on Maid Marian's for far too long.... the owners just want to get back to business and they have to get their foundation walls up (not just their footings) and backfilled so they can pave before the paving plants close for the winter which is in the next few weeks... the alternate is trying to open their business without paving which inevitably ends up with the temporary gravel becoming muddy and opening up "slip and fall" liabilities, furthermore the mud gets tracked back into the restaurant, up the street, into customer's cars, etc... Miss Devine continues to Chair Planning “as she sees it” not as “it should be seen”.... maybe trying to help would be a nice change...
Maid Marian's owners frustrated by delays in rebuilding city diner
The Guardian
The owners of a popular city diner that burned to the ground last May are growing increasingly frustrated by what they say are unnecessary delays by city hall in their efforts to build a new restaurant. Peter and Wendy Walker, the owners of Maid Marian’s, received a green light from Charlottetown city councillors Oct. 14, but the next day they received a list of 10 more concerns by the city’s planning department further delaying their plans to replace the popular Sherwood diner. Wendy Walker says they had hoped to have the restaurant back in business by now. But with construction not even started, Walker said the earliest they may be reopened now is late February or early March 2010. “We were calling back and forth, to see what was going on, but there seemed to be one more hurdle after the other,” Walker told The Guardian. “Frustrating isn’t the word. People are wondering what we are doing wrong that we can’t get this place open. We’re losing staff. They are out looking for other jobs because they haven’t seen a hole in the ground yet. They are starting to wonder, ‘what is going on here’?” A spectacular fire destroyed Maid Marian’s and the attached Sherwood Drug Mart on May 20. The drug store is operating in a temporary location across the street while construction continues on an expanded Sherwood Medical Centre and Pharmacy. The pharmacy is expected to reopen in its new location in either late November or early December. But work has not even started on the new restaurant. The restaurant is being pushed back from its original location, which puts it partially on a residential property. That required rezoning, public consultation and approval by Charlottetown city council. Kim Devine, the councillor responsible for planning, said the delays have nothing to do with city hall. Devine said they now have an initial “footings permit”, which allows them to start construction, but the city is still waiting for a surveyor’s plan before a final building permit can be issued. “I don’t think there are delays,” said Devine. “We’re doing everything we can to keep the project going.” What the owners are going through, said Devine, is what every developer goes through when they are constructing a building of this size. “We’re certainly not doing anything to hold them up.” The delays have been particularly difficult for the 43 people who used to work at Maid Marian’s. Virginia Thompson of Harrington has worked at the diner in Charlottetown for 15 years. She’s still receiving employment insurance. Other former workers have taken seasonal or full-time jobs at other restaurants. “Nobody ever thought it was going to take this long,” said Thompson. “It’s been very stressful, very stressful. Every time you turn a new corner, it’s longer and longer and longer.” Thompson said she’s not only hearing concerns from her co-workers, but from Maid Marian’s customers. “Everybody is so disappointed it’s taking so long,” she said. “We have customers who are driving up to Summerside faithfully because it’s Maid Marian’s.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"always fresh fish".... and a nice drive too...

Congratulations John Bill and your great team and especially for the excellent food... after filling my belly there a few times this summer with the "always fresh fish" I wasn't surprised to see that your establishment garnered this prestigious recognition... and I can't wait to get back there this summer to test out some of the new vittles... and the extra bonus is the beautiful drive along PEI's north shore on your way to the Ship to Shore....
Darnley restaurant named in top 10 by enRoute

Wednesday, October 28, 2009
CBC News
A restaurant in P.E.I. has been named one of the top 10 new restaurants in Canada by enRoute magazine, a lifestyle magazine available on Air Canada flights.
The Ship to Shore Restaurant and Lounge in Darnley is ranked seventh on the list, which was published Wednesday.
The restaurant opened last spring and the magazine praised the location's menu and fresh seafood.
Ship to Shore was the only place in Atlantic Canada to make enRoute's list.
It's currently closed for the season and will open again in May.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"easier said than done"

No one likes to see folks in financial trouble but blaming the Premier for their woes by saying the Government was not supporting "buy local" as if they (Bestofpei) owned the "franchise" is carrying things a little too far... simply put businesses come and go but the ones that usually stay around are those with a sound business plan and I'm afraid this might not have been the case here... I suspect cost overruns on leaseholds, a weak location, poor parking, high labour costs and higher than market prices were the most contributing factors in this business not succeeding... but I can't help but think that the latter item "higher than market" prices seemed to be the issue with most people who did some shopping there... both the Binns and the Ghiz Governments have a great track record of supporting “local” where they can but the “local voter” would be the first ones up in arms if a supply contract or tender was “given out” to a “higher” price... we all want to be loyal to our local farmers and fishers but I suspect we are all guilty of putting price ahead of loyalty when it's coming out of our own pockets... and you don't have to go far to find this when you shop at any large grocery store as you often see the consumers bypassing local meat, fish and produce in favour of a lower price competitive product... and it's easy to say these big stores are gouging the consumer but when you examine their "bottom lines" their margins are extremely thin and even thinner when you examine the "co-op" system which in theory more closely represented what Bestofpei was trying to achieve through an Island partnership of suppliers... unfortunately it didn't work this time but we all have our "Charlottetown Farmers Market" to fall back on to show our continued support for our "locals"... let's just say "easier said than done"...
Bestofpei stores abruptly close
The Guardian
After just over two years of trying to sell P.E.I. foods and products, the two bestofpei stores in Charlottetown have closed their doors for good. The store’s gift shop on Victoria Row and its newer market on University Avenue ceased operations on Sunday, putting 35 full and part-time employees out of work and leaving many debts unpaid. A ‘notice of distress’ posted on the front door of the market location Monday states the building’s landlord is owed over $24,000 in rent and other assets, and warns that if payment is not received within four days any inventory therein “will be disposed of according to law.” Reached by phone from Toronto Monday, bestofpei owner Bev MacArthur said she is devastated to have been forced to close her stores, but said the business was bleeding red ink. “We were never able to make enough money from the sales in the stores to cover the costs, so over the past year and a half we’ve pretty well drained completely any resources I had with respect to putting my own money in.” MacArthur said she and her husband, Doug, worked day and night at the store and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money into bestofpei. But the business also got a boost from the Provincial Nominee Program. MacArthur received at least two investment units worth approximately $50,000 each from the PNP. This was used to renovate and open the University Avenue market location in June 2008. Despite these investments, the company just couldn’t make money, MacArthur said. “It just got to a point where we were losing too much and we decided to voluntarily close, rather than wait until somebody forces us to close.” The MacArthurs aren’t the only ones who lost money. The abrupt closure leaves dozens of local suppliers of food and product unpaid. MacArthur said she feels badly to have left her employees and suppliers in the lurch but says she had no choice. She also wrote a letter to Premier Robert Ghiz explaining about her stores’ closure, chastising government for not buying from local suppliers for government facilities such as hospitals and jails. “We started this when the (government’s) buy local initiative started, and we had thought that we would get a lot of support from government based on that,” MacArthur said. “I’m not talking grants or loans, but just basically support and it didn’t happen. I said to government, ‘You preach and preach to buy P.E.I. and you don’t put your money where your mouth is when it comes to actually buying P.E.I.’ She also blamed the fact that Islanders take a long time to break their shopping habits, and are more accustomed to buying from box stores. MacArthur said she will now liquidate the stores' equipment and and use that money to pay as much as she can to her creditors. But not everyone will get the money they are owed, she said. "There's a list of creditors that go in order of preference - not my preference, but secured creditors obviously get paid before unsecured creditors," she said. "I feel very very badly for anyone who is going to get left and not get paid because honestly, there will be people who won't get paid."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Calm Down......

For what it’s worth I'm in disagreement with both... the Trans-Canada Highway is a major link between the City and Eastern PEI and it needs to be a functioning service highway... the bridge has been widened and is now functioning right... the intersections off the bridge have been fixed with traffic signals and are functioning fine... the Keppoch Road intersection has been fixed with traffic signals and now functions fine... and all that remains now is to fix the "mishmash" of intersections near Tea Hill and the Industrial Park with more lanes and traffic signals and the Trans Canada will function quicker and safer.... there is a serious safety issue in this area and as more traffic is coming and going from the industrial park it won't be long before a serious accident will happen... and if you don't believe me then just ask any traffic consultant and they'll come to the same conclusion.... slowing down the traffic and installing sidewalks to nowhere just doesn't make sense in my view. From a pure economic point of view fixing this intersection will attract more service and retail related businesses that provide jobs, investment and a tax base for the Community and I have continued to suggest this to Town Council for the past seven years. Fixing the highway will cost a fifth of what it will cost to move the lagoon and fixing the highway has more of a chance of getting national brand clothing companies, banks and retailers like Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Superstore to invest in Stratford than moving a lagoon ($10,000,000.00)... collecting more taxes from new investment sounds better than raising taxes to pay for relocating a lagoon so maybe it's time to reconsider some priorities... think about revenues not expense...
Stratford MLA wants traffic calmed
Thursday, October 22, 2009
CBC News
Traffic calming work should be done to make the Trans-Canada Highway through Stratford, P.E.I., look as if you are driving through a town, says the area's MLA.
Currently the highway has no sidewalk or other features to signify to drivers they are entering the urban area, which is just east of Charlottetown. Traffic often moves faster than the 70 km/h speed limit.
Cynthia Dunsford would like to see a project similar to the one just completed in Hunter River. More than $3.5 million was spent on sidewalks, medians, lighting and other features to slow down traffic.
"Create medians and, you know, be able to add vegetation and trees and shrubs and what not to have that sense of we're slowing down into a town," said Dunsford.
"There's ideas for a new intersection. Business wants to come to Stratford more and more. And as we know, it is the fastest-growing community in P.E.I."
Dunsford is lobbying the province and the federal government for a project in Stratford like the one just completed in Hunter River.
Stratford Mayor Kevin Jenkins said there is a plan for redesigning that strip of the Trans-Canada, but that dealing with the sewage lagoons at the town's entrance is more important.
"Perhaps our top priority is the relocation, doing something with the lagoons, on our waterfront," said Jenkins.
"After that is done, certainly the Trans-Canada Highway is a close No. 2 on our list of priorities."
Jenkins said it could be some time before drivers see changes to the highway through Stratford.

Well it's a start... but there could be more...

A few weeks ago I read with delight that Minister Campbell was getting out of the business of competing with private enterprise.... so today I was pleased to receive an "opportunity notice" that was sent across the Country to a large number of likely investors by CBRE for a few commercial buildings that the Government has "listed" in the Charlottetown and Summerside industrial parks for sale.... most of these buildings were built back in the era of "Rex Grosse" who was imported by the Campbell Government to lead Industrial Enterprises which was a Provincial crown agency in the late Seventies charged with bringing new industries to PEI... Rex was a "big hitter" and brought a lot of new deals to PEI some of which didn't fully pan out like Benner Ski Company and Bellrive Fashions and he seemed to be always under fire by the opposition of the day... but all in all I believe he was quite successful at making things happen and we have great successes like Paderno, Diagnostic Chemicals and host of others that he played a big part in helping out... now some the buildings that were built back then are on the market and hopefully they will attract some new investors willing to reinvest bringing some new ideas and life back into these properties... there are still a host of other Government properties like the Tech Centre, CGI building, CADC apartments, Invesco Building, Bloomfield call centre, the golf courses and many others that should also be put on the market... so check out the site below as there could be a real estate opportunity there for you....

-----Original Message-----
From: Adria Markovich
Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2009 11:18 AM
To: Tim Banks
Subject: PEI Commercial Real Estate Portfolio Opportunity

Dear Tim,

You have just received a message from Adria Markovich at CB Richard Ellis - Canada.

To view your message, please visit the following address:

To unsubscribe, reply to this email and change the subject to be: unsubscribe

If you have trouble viewing this message please see below for detailed instructions.

If your e-mail program does not allow you to click directly on the above address (such as AOL), you will need to copy and paste the address into your World Wide Web browser (eg Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer).

Follow the directions below for the simplest way to pick up your message.
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4. Press 'enter'.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

UFIT "In" our neighbourhood... congratulations

It's always a great story when you see someone young work hard on their vision and then bust out as a big winner and that is exactly what Eireann Rigby has done here... she had a "concept" that she believed in and over the last seven years she has continued to "push hard" at developing and expanding her simple all-inclusive fun activity program to help people get in shape and it's working... back a few years ago I started taking notice of the name as it was popping up at some events I attended with a very fun theme... it wasn't long afterwards that I took notice of a fun looking Mini Cooper all "pimped" out (an expression from my oldest son) with the UFIT logos... I couldn’t help but notice the “enthusiasm” they had in their Gold Cup Parade float... and then we moved back from the cottage to our home next to Queen Charlotte School and early one evening I heard this "pounding" music coming from the school and I thought what the heck is going on there... I soon discovered UFIT had moved in and were running classes out of the school gym... my immediate reaction was to go over and at least have them close the gym door but after a while you soon realize that the music is a bit fun... I now sometimes sit on the deck with my occasional cigar and listen to the music but I haven't had the courage to head over yet... what a great concept and if its helping people get fit and healthier then you're welcome "in" our neighbourhood.... congratulations to you and your UFIT “team”.... and check them out at
UFIT owner wins BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for Prince Edward Island
Eireann Rigby gives fitness a whole new shape
Oct. 20 /CNW Telbec
People don't need to wear Spandex to fit in at Eireann Rigby's UFIT classes. Eireann, 34, broke the stereotypical fitness club mould when she developed a business from her vision of an all-inclusive, non-judgmental, fun group activity. With thousands of Islanders from all walks of life embracing her pay-as-you-go, $5-a-class concept, Eireann has earned BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for P.E.I., which she will receive tonight at a ceremony in Ottawa.
"When I started UFIT, I chose the name to mean 'you belong' as well as to refer to fitness," Eireann points out. She had played professional basketball in Europe before starting her business seven years ago and had come to realize that people who weren't involved in organized sports had few opportunities to get active in a group setting. "I had a vision of an equal playing field for all, where it doesn't matter where you come from, who you are, what you do. I wanted to create a place where all feel equal and comfortable and non-judged and excited." One of Eireann's goals was to make it easy for people to attend her classes, and that meant making it inexpensive and flexible. That resulted in the $5-a-class fee on a pay-as-you-go basis. "It hasn't changed a bit in seven years," she says. "I have fought hard not to raise the price, even with costs going up."
As the UFIT approach caught on, the business expanded. Eireann now employs eight instructors who provide 20 classes per week in eight locations across the province, with average attendance of 100 people per class in a big street party atmosphere. "We have people of all shapes and sizes from all walks of life, ranging from young children to grandmothers in their 70s."
For Eireann, the success of UFIT is due in large measure to the team of instructors and volunteers she works with, including her husband, Gordon McNeilly, who is both a master trainer and a motivational leader. "Gord and I work together and UFIT wouldn't be what it is without both of us," she says.
Feedback from class participants is what continues to drive Eireann and her team. "Nothing beats the feeling you get when people tell you that you have changed their life."
Beyond the gym
Building on its growing success, the company has branched out into providing motivational seminars that help organizations manage change, under the banner "The Power to Believe," and has produced two fitness videos.
It has also created its own foundation, UFIT CARES, fuelled by the enthusiasm of UFIT participants. "People who had been helped by UFIT wanted to give something back," says Eireann. "We created the UFIT Foundation when we decided to do something at Christmas for needy families. Last year, we gave food, toys and clothing to 125 families."
Five years ago, UFIT put together a team in the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life. From a small start, the team grew to well over 100 and went on to win the Society's team spirit award. This year, the Cancer Society developed an award in their name to be presented to the most spirited team.
"Eireann had a vision and, with hard work and conviction, she has turned it into a growing concern. It's more than a successful business; she has also infused it with passion that she is igniting in others," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
"We've realized that UFIT is more powerful than an average aerobics class," says Eireann. "It has been a lifesaver in so many ways for so many people."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Someday Maybe... but not now....

The second meeting of the PEI Press Gallery took place this evening at the Coles Building and after about an hour’s worth of debate between Mr. Pate and the Press Chair Wayne Thibodeau and a few comment by others a motion was put to the floor to have Pate removed from the membership that pasted... it appeared quite obvious that Mr. Pate had little support from the membership and those who spoke believed he went over the line with his past remarks about various media people... in his defence Mr. Pate tried to pass it all off as "satire" but there was no one laughing... the whole issue of how Mr. Pate got there in the first place was questioned and it appears that his original "entry" was done by no other than the Speaker who is probably now regretting her actions... it was my request back at a standing committee hearing to be considered as media that started this whole debate as I felt I had the same “blogging” credentials as Mr. Pate... but the reality is I'm no journalist but I am a strong believer that there are those in the social media that should be considered as such and I expressed this at the meeting... I was pleased that the Press Gallery invited me to voice my opinions on this "social media" issue and I asked if I may present "my case" to a future meeting as to why this form of media should be considered in the future... I suggested that a "criteria" for membership should be developed to qualify for membership into the Press Gallery (which probably should include a code of conduct) and that I would be willing to offer some suggestions to help develop such... everything takes time and my feelings are that the current Press Gallery will evolve into what it should be and someday bloggers like myself and Mr. Pate should be able to put forward an application and have it heard on its merits and reasonable heads will prevail... my advice to Mr. Pate for what it's worth is that the Legislature is a serious business and approaching it in a “satirical” way is not going to get him or anyone else anywhere... but good writing on issues of the day, which I believe he is very capable of, will eventually get him back...
Steven Pate not welcome in P.E.I. legislature press gallery
The Guardian
October 19, 2009
Social blogger and satirist Steven Pate is not welcome in the press gallery of the P.E.I. Legislature. The newly created press gallery held a special meeting tonight to vote on recommending to the speaker of the Legislature that Pate be removed from the list of accredited media. The vote was 11-2 in favour of ousting Pate. Pate spoke in his own defence, saying he is a journalist who likes satire and that traditional media are "afraid of him" and the new media he represents. More later...

“To move them outside the city makes no sense, economically,” says MacDonald

Now here's a new twist on the English language Charlottetown City Councillor David MacDonald talking "...sense, economically" in the same sentence... and he's the City Councillor responsible for "economic development" and the very same guy that is trying to stop "economic development" by putting every conceivable roadblock up against the new development at the Idlewheels Trailer Park... and now he's out there giving us some "mumbo jumbo" that a new $20,000,000.00 Convention Centre and all the business and development that goes along with it won't make up for the Coast Guard being relocated... well I could think of a "ton of reasons" why a Major Convention Centre would be a much better economic trade for the City of Charlottetown but what the heck would I know about trading up for a better economic situation... but I do know a little about "economic development" and certainly enough to know that Councillor MacDonald appears to be more of a socialist than an economic builder and he should be removed as Chair of Economic Development if the City of Charlottetown ever expects to move forward building on our economy... it wouldn't surprise me if the current 30 coast guard jobs end up in Summerside which is in Gail Shea's riding and the 30 DFO jobs stay in Charlottetown and I suspect the 30 coast guard jobs were heading to Summerside anyway.... and if you don't believe me just ask Basil....
Capital digs in on coast guard, DFO
The Guardian
The City of Charlottetown is not prepared to trade the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the coast guard for a new convention centre. The federal and provincial governments are in negotiations to build a multimillion-dollar convention centre on land that now houses the coast guard and Fisheries and Oceans on lower Queen Street in Charlottetown. If approved, both will have to find a new home. The Island’s port cities and towns, including Summerside, Georgetown, Souris, and Borden-Carleton, are all lobbying to be the new home for the coast guard and Fisheries and Oceans. But the capital city is not prepared to let the federal government facilities go without a fight. David MacDonald, the councillor responsible for economic development, says he understands a decision regarding the future home of the coast guard and Fisheries and Oceans will be coming down soon. He is urging Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee and his colleagues on council to continue to fight to maintain those facilities in the city. “To move them outside the city makes no sense, economically,” says MacDonald. “Even from a protection point of view, in the areas that the coast guard protects we are closer in the City of Charlottetown, we have the infrastructure here to maintain those facilities.” Nearly 60 people now work at the coast guard and Fisheries and Oceans in Charlottetown. Lee has said from the beginning that moving the base out of Charlottetown would be wrong. “I want to build upon what the City of Charlottetown has, not to continue to take away from the city to relocate to other parts of the province,” he said. Fisheries Minister Gail Shea will ultimately be responsible for where the coast guard and Fisheries and Oceans will end up. She has not indicated where it may be relocated. A study showed P.E.I. could lose up to 25 per cent of its meeting and convention business if a new convention centre is not built. Nearby cities in Fredericton and Halifax are proceeding with plans to expand their convention centres. Moncton is also considering a proposal to build a new convention centre.

Simple Solution Here...

I can't help but think I have a very easy solution to this perceived problem... get rid of Councillor Tweel and replace him with someone that might have some common sense or either keep him busy building that pedestrian bridge over to Stratford that he was so gung-ho about a few years ago.... surely the City has enough rules and regulations blocking small business from efficiently carrying out their business than to actually put up more "no trucks allowed" signs up... the more roadblocks to Downtown the tougher it is on the Downtown merchants and what I mean by that is... if it takes a trucking firm "a longer time" to deliver their shipments then they're going to pass this extra cost on to the merchants, who in turn pass it on to the consumer, and all of a sudden the marketplace is less competitive... forcing more truck traffic on to University Ave will then push more cars back on to the side streets and I think I rather see a professional truck driver going through my neighbourhood as opposed to some of the people behind the wheels of these cars today.... if Councillor Tweel came forward with solutions to improving our access and egress to the main arteries into our City then he would be doing something....
Councillor seeks more signs warning off trucks
Monday, October 19, 2009
CBC News
Trucks in Charlottetown need to be told more often where they cannot go, says one city councillor.
The rules for truck-route signage in Charlottetown are under review. The current policy is to mark the official truck route, but not put up signs prohibiting trucks.
But there are exceptions, streets specifically posted with signs that read: "No trucks allowed."
Coun. Mitchell Tweel wants some of those in his ward.
"We have to have an equal, level playing field, and we can't be running a double standard," Tweel told CBC News Friday.
"You can't say we have a policy for one part of the city and a policy that doesn't exist for the other part of the city."
Committee chair disagrees
Tweel believes fewer trucks would travel down residential streets if the city adopted a sign policy that pointed out where trucks can't go.
Police committee chair Coun. Rob Lantz doesn't agree, and worries once truckers are told where they can't go, there will be a whole new set of problems.
"Once we go down that road, eventually we'll end up with people asking for a no-truck sign on every residential street in Charlottetown," he said.
Despite his own views, Lantz said he would take Tweel's suggestion to the police committee for consideration.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Madam Speaker... there is a new wave....

I received the following notice of a meeting of "The Press Gallery" for this evening at the Coles building and I think I'll show up to watch some of the action as they try and "bounce" Mr. Pottie out... but some of these media people should take a few moments and breeze over this article from CBC today before they start discounting “all the social media"... in Nova Scotia there is a daily web based newscaster All Nova Scotia that thousands of business people like myself subscribe to that is the most current provider of business and political news in Nova Scotia... hands down they are more on top of the news than any other media competitor in their market place... they report on the Nova Scotia Legislature and do a very good job but it strikes me that our local print and broadcasting media would probably "not allow them in" our Press Gallery because they don't work for a traditional newspaper, television or radio business.... I’m thinking some of these traditional media people may be looking for new jobs as the economy and advertising weakness plays havoc with their industry and they shouldn’t snub their noses at the electronic media as they may very well have to work in it someday.... I’ll even go a step further and predict that the Journal Pioneer will probably shut down operations in the next 12 months as they are currently just barely making target... younger people no longer read our print media, listen to the radio news or watch a TV news broadcast as they source their news with RRS feeds and Tweets through their computers, iPods, iPhones and other electronic devices.... and the Speaker of the House should open her eyes to this and “allow our social media access to our Legislature” if she ever expects our youth to get involved...
The Press Gallery of the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly will be holding a meeting on Monday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Pope Room of the Coles Building (Next to Province House.)
The purpose of the meeting will be to elect a new vice-president (broadcasting), as well as to address a decision of the executive to recommend to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to remove the membership of Stephen Pate and NJN Network, pursuant to a motion in the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly dated April 6, 1971.
Members of the Press Gallery of the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly are urged to attend the meeting. Please note that membership is based on the Media Accreditation list for the 2009 spring sitting.
Only those on that list are eligible to vote. But the meeting itself is open to all members of the media and the public.
For more information, contact Wayne Thibodeau at (902) 629-6000, ext. 6043.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For....

We've all heard the old expression "be careful what you wish for" and that is exactly how I see this issue... Fortis may appear to be uncompassionate by times but it's been my experience that this company from the "top down" are a well run organization who have a sincere interest in delivering top notch service and reinvesting into capital infrastructure to keep our "lights on"... on the other hand my experience with Government running a business like the meat plants, fish plants, technology centres, golf courses, industrial parks, and I could go on and on.... while compassionate, not very financially rewarding for the stakeholders being us taxpayers and the thought of Government running our “utility” is the scariest thing I could ever imagine.... all I have to do is look at the windmills the Government own down East that sat idle for months this summer due to broken parts... and then think about the dedicated men and women at Fortis who prevail through unprecedented storms to see that every single Islander get their power back as quickly as possible when there are outages... I can only imagine what this Fortis critic would do if he called a Government run utility around 4:00 in the afternoon to inquire why his power was out and why the price had near doubled.... and a recording said "I'm sorry but we're on summer hours.." so as my Mom said “please be careful what you wish for”....
Turn Fortis into an election issue
The Charlottetown Guardian
October 16, 2009
Another of our frequent power outages took place this week, continuing a wearyingly-familiar pattern of instability in the Fortis power grid. It is time our government held an inquiry into the state of our electrical service on the Island and strip Fortis of its monopoly. I have called and spoken to company officials who are unapologetic and seem utterly unconcerned with providing the uninterrupted service modern society demands. While no one expects to have no outages, it is time we saw an unbiased comparison between our province's stability of power with others. I asked a company official and he said he did not care how Fortis compared to other power providers. If I didn't like it (I was told) I could write to my MLA. I find that arrogant. Power should be a public utility owned by Islanders. As it is now, Fortis is unmotivated to improve its service. It is time they faced the loss of their monopoly in favour of a new public utility - Island Electric. I hope our politicians will act upon this and that it becomes an election issue.
Trevor Leclerc,

A New Set Of Doors.... but not much more...

It's interesting to hear these comments from Minister Bertram... "The Charlottetown Civic Centre is a legacy building and has become a landmark for Islanders" as most Charlottetown taxpayers just see the building as a financial draw on the City's budget and for the most part they don't really get a lot of personal use out of the building... I do agree that it is a bit of a "legacy" from the Canada Winter Games in 1991 and now less than 20 years later the property is pretty tired and still falling behind budget to the tune of about $500,000.00 a year... but to call this building a "landmark" (a building or other place that is of outstanding historical, aesthetic, or cultural importance, often declared as such and given a special status "landmark designation", or daining its preservation, by some authorizing organization) is really stretching it... most people believe it was poorly conceived because it was built by a "committee" and you don't have to go far to find "building users" who continue to have complaints about the building's design... usually a "legacy building" draws out a "naming sponsor" who will gladly donate a sizeable amount of money towards capital improvements to have their name attached to the building but that doesn't seem to be the case here... at one point Mayor Lee was considering a Major Renovation to the building to keep up with Basil but my guess is that won't be happening anytime soon..
Civic Centre to undergo renovations
The Guardian
The Charlottetown Civic Centre will undergo $184,000 in renovations the next few months, it was announced Friday.
The project includes the construction of a new dedicated entrance tothe Trade Centre, which will allow for multiple events to occur simultaneously and will also reduce heat loss from the exterior doors.
Also, a new event planning and staging area will be built to allow for the efficient production of the many events hosted by the Civic Centre.
The funding comes from an investment of nearly $77,280 under the Province’s Island Community Fund (ICF), a new provincially funded infrastructure program, and $60,720 from the Government of Canada’s Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) Program, a key federal economic stimulus initiative under its Economic Action Plan.
The Civic Centre Management Inc. will provide the balance of $46,000. Carolyn Bertram, P.E.I. Minister of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, on behalf of the Province of PEI, and Keith Ashfield, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada OpportunitiesAgency), made the announcement Friday in Charlottetown. “The Charlottetown Civic Centre is a legacy building and has become a landmark for Islanders,” said Bertram. “The province is pleased to provide funding to help sustain this sporting and trade facility and provide a more diverse atmosphere for hosting events in our capital region.” “Through our government’s Economic Action Plan, we continue to provide timely and targeted stimulus to communities across Canada,” said Ashfield.
“The Civic Centre has a history of bringing together families, friends and neighbours to learn new skills, exchange ideas, get fit and healthy, and have fun. This investment will allow the Civic Centre to better attract functions and events on a year-round basis.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Three Stooges... "classic"....

I doubt this will be the end of the road for the land the trailer park was on but I wish it was the end of the road for Councillors Tweel, Bernard and MacDonald for the foolishness that continues to come out of their mouths... I expected as much from Tweel and Bernard but I would have thought Councillor MacDonald would have had enough clues to stay away from this silliness and at the very least away from the other two... simply put MacEachern Holdings owned some land that was eligible under the current bylaws to be rezoned and when the original application was made and it met all the bylaws requirements it should have been approved then and there as a fundamental "right to build"..... but that didn't happen as the City turned it down originally (against the recommendations of City planning staff) and it wouldn't matter if IRAC was there or not as ultimately the Supreme Court would have struck down the City's decision and given MacEachern Holdings his "right to build" anyway (and that’s exactly what the City’s solicitor told Council)... and now the Mayor is trying to blame his leadership mistakes on IRAC so he's going to call the Province... what a joke... the Mayor and Council should be looking for developers with property to rezone that would allow manufactured housing (trailers) so that these and others like them would have a place to go... and maybe a call to Mr. MacEachern and offering the City’s apology for the past and support for his new development would be a good move as his new proposed development will bring new jobs, investment and a stronger tax base for the City of Charlottetown ... the City has to start to "welcome business development" and not chase it away...
End of road for trailer park
The Guardian
Residents of the Idlewheels Trailer Park may have won over the hearts of Charlottetown city councillors, but it wasn’t enough to stop their eviction from the capital city trailer park. An order by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) forced councillors on Tuesday night to hand Ken MacEachern and his company, L & A MacEachern Holdings, the rezoning he long awaited. That rezoning had initially been rejected by city council but was later appealed to IRAC. The commission overturned the city’s decision. Now, Charlottetown city council is calling for a review of IRAC. But for Lana Baglole, a resident of Idlewheels, that review will come too late. She is the process of putting her trailer up for sale. Two trailers have already been moved, two others are for sale. There were 19 trailers in the park which need to be moved to make way for new apartment complexes. “It’s time for everybody to move on,” Baglole said, after hearing about council’s decision Tuesday night. Last month, the residents launched a further appeal in front of IRAC. A decision is expected at the end of October, but Baglole said she doesn’t expect much will change. Coun. David MacDonald launched a passionate 13-minute discussion about the future of IRAC, saying he has concerns for the residents of Idlewheels but also for the process that unfolded. He questions whether an unelected and unaccountable board should be able to overturn a decision by an elected city council. “We did what we were supposed to do,” said MacDonald. “We held our public meetings, we listened to the input (of residents) and at the end of the day we took a decision in good faith.” Coun. Mitchell Tweel called for a complete review of IRAC and its mandate. “The whole process was flawed in terms of the way IRAC has handled it,” said Tweel. “This is a classic case in point where you have unelected officials that are not elected by the people, that are not accountable to the people and are not responsible to the people.” But Coun. Kim Devine, who is the head of city planning, said while she has empathy for the people of the Idlewheels trailer park, she cautioned that the city was given a legal opinion that it must abide by the IRAC order. “While we have great compassion for what will happen to those residents, we have voted against this, we are on record as being opposed to this application for rezoning but as elected officials we are legally obligated to follow through on this rezoning order.” Coun. Rob Lantz added: “We have a legal opinion that we could be held, as a city council, in contempt of an order.” In an interview following the vote, Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee said he realizes council was forced into approving the rezoning, but he remains bothered by the decision. He said he will be contacting the provincial government immediately to ask that role of IRAC be reviewed. “In all the years I’ve been here at City Hall, this is the first time in my memory that I can recall that IRAC blatantly disregarded the position of the elected body and that really concerns me,” said Lee. “If IRAC says the city has followed its rules, it has followed provincial legislation, I don’t think IRAC should have the authority to override a decision of council. It’s as simple as that.” Despite the threat of legal action, three councillors voted against the rezoning including MacDonald, Tweel and Terry Bernard. The other seven voted for the rezoning. Baglole said it’s the end of the road for Idlewheels residents. If the IRAC appeal is unsuccessful, as she expects, the only other option is to appeal to the Supreme Court. “I can’t afford a lawyer. We can’t afford a lawyer.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Charlie... can I join the "club".... OH! PLEASE....

This is just too funny... Charlie MacKay the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly has been chasing down the local media trying to get them to have a meeting to form some kind of PEI Press Gang so a "set of rules" can be established to prevent clowns like me from showing up at the Legislature as "media"... so a bunch of so called media got together at the Legislature (a little more official) last Tuesday to form an official "Press Gang" and at that meeting the Guardian's chief political reporter Wayne Thibodeau was elected "el-presidente", the Guardian's Teresa Wright as Vice-President and CBC's Brendan Elliot as Vice President.... and then Brendan Elliot nominated none other than Stephen "Pottie" Pate, a local infamous blogger, as Secretary of this famous crowd and all the others stood there stunned and I’m told were too afraid to oppose his acclamation. Apparently some of the CBC gang thought that it was much better to have him under the tent where they could watch him and make him abide by some rules as opposed to having him outside the tent "peeing in"... and the mere fact that he walked up the steps on his own might have swung the bleeding heart vote in his favour had they voted... no one seems to know who invited Mr. Pate to the meeting in the first place but I would have loved to have been in Gary MacDougall's office, the managing editor of the Guardian, when they told him "Pottie" was going to be the “recording secretary”... well the funny part is they all got home that night and had some second thoughts about it and the very next day something broke out amongst “most of the executive"... Brendan Elliot was under extreme pressure for putting Pate's name forward and he didn't "like the direction the rest of the Executive were going" so he decided to resign.... and Pottie is now "still standing” as a member of the official Press Gang... I called Wayne and he confirmed Brendan had resigned over something to do with Pottie's nomination.... Wayne or Brendan didn't know how Mr. Pottie had got invited in the first place... I left messages for Pat Martell who was at the meeting but he hasn’t responded... I spoke with Charlie and he sounded very “officially” shaken that he may not have his rules in place by the opening of the Legislature... but what I’d like to know is how Mr. Pottie and others got invited in the first place to this official “charter meeting” and I didn’t.... this is “too funny”....

From: Kathleen Casey []
Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 2:12 PM
To: Tim Banks
Cc: Charles MacKay; Robert VesseySubject:
Re: Media Access

Dear Mr. Banks,

Thank you for your request to be considered as accredited media at the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. Policy respecting media accreditation at the Legislative Assembly is presently under review with the objective of establishing a clear media accreditation process well in advance of the commencement of the next scheduled sitting of the Assembly. Your views will be considered as the accreditation process is developed and your request for accreditation will, once that process has been established, be assessed. In the interim, should you wish to access any of the business of the Legislative Assembly, please see where all video/audio proceedings of the House (archived and live when meeting) and all House documents are readily available.

Kathleen Casey
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

From: Tim Banks
Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2009 5:04 PM
Cc: Charles MacKay; Robert Vessey
Subject: Media Access

Dear Office of The Speaker of the House,

I am a social media blogger focusing on political and business events on Prince Edward Island for the last year and have a daily reading in the order of 2,000 viewers at I receive an income for advertising on my media which I donate to Island charities. I was disappointed on June 17th when the members of the Standing Committee on Community Affairs and Economic Development would not allow me to tape a public presentation unless I was an accredited member of the media. All members of the committee are fully aware of my media yet only Mr. Currie (voted in favour) understood the importance of our "new Social electronic media" in today's society and it's use by our younger generation who demand instant news. How are we ever going to get this generation of our youth involved in the issues surrounding them if we don't allow them in? I think it was very short sighted of Mr. Henderson and his other Committee members as they had a great opportunity to reach out to today's youth who are suspect of Government because their views are being shut out. We need our youth here and we have to involve them in our debate.

Although I believe the practice of accrediting journalists to the P.E.I. legislature may be an infringement of s.2 (b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms I would like to take the necessary steps to do so. I would also ask you to look at the following link where I believe another member of the media CBC has affirmed my right to be accredited as a member of the media. I watched Mr. MacKay’s interview on CBC and he kind of implied that we should adopt the policy of some other Provinces and have the media association vote people in as accredited media. This is kind of ironic because that was what my presentation to the Standing Committee was about... a club like the PEI Gas Dealers Association objecting to more gas bars which in effect is we have too many fiefdoms here on PEI now and we don’t need any more like Mr. MacKay is suggesting. We need our politicians to open their minds to change.

As a member of the media my technical staff and I would require access to the video and audio feeds together with the ability to tape the standing committee meetings. We would require the same access as any other media source.

I hope you find this information sufficient to accredit me as a member of the media so I can reach out to today’s youth. The American writer A.J. Liebling once wrote that "freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." In today’s world, everyone's a press owner.

Thank you,

Tim Banks

Friday, October 9, 2009

Where's our "Business Enterprise"....

Today a reader sent in a very good question that probably should be asked by the local Chamber of Commerce's to Government... and that is “what Department in Government is representing our Business Community” which is truly the backbone of our Island economy... years ago on PEI farmers farmed and fishers fished and they pretty much stuck to their industry but nowadays dealing with all the regulations, banking requirements, marketing, and bureaucratic red tape they are really considered a business and require the same services other business people do... but here on PEI we don't have a Department of Business Enterprise but what we do have is a Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning (whatever that is) with a business division called "Innovation PEI”... but it's certainly nothing that portrays a "branding of small business" and I think the Government has it backwards... what would farmers do if Government changed the name of their department to the "Department of Carrots" with a division called "carrot farming" or what would the fishers say if Government rebranded the Department of Fisheries to the "Department of Mussels"... one of the first things they teach you in Business 101 is marketing and preserving your "brand" and I can't understand why our business Community is not up in arms with the "bastardization" of PEI's business brand... don't get me wrong I'm all for innovation and learning as a division of PEI Business Enterprise but during these economy times our small businesses need a place to go that "talks their language" and helps them through this crises.... I had lunch with Minister Campbell a couple of weeks ago and I gave him an earful on this issue and I'm hoping he'll see his way towards change....

From: Ritchie Simpson, The Mortgage Guy
Sent: Friday, October 09, 2009 7:49 AM
To: Tim Banks
Subject: New comment on Hot Tip... golf is in trouble.

Ritchie Simpson, The Mortgage Guy has left a new comment on your post "Hot Tip... golf is in trouble": "...or at least a Department that is experienced in business and understands how development works.." and what department would that be?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hot Tip... golf is in trouble

Just yesterday Minister Campbell was talking about Government abandoning the practice of competing against private enterprise and in the very same article Minister Docherty is quoted as saying the golf courses are for sale but not until things get better... well here's a hot tip no business is going to get better if you continue to do nothing particularly the golf business... simply put the golf industry is a very competitive business and it should be run like one and the newer more successful courses are continuing to reinvest and develop people around them... take a look at Fox Creek in Dieppe where they are now sold out of phase II on the residential side of the development... in Halifax Glen Arbour is well on its way to be fully developed on the residential side... and if you visit Fox Harb'r near Wallace, NS you will see significant residential development as is the case with most high end golf course developments... and my argument is why hasn't the Province sold off our money losing courses to a private developer who would develop the neighbouring lands with a possible year round or seasonal golf community. What possibly could be wrong with 200 developed home sites lining some of the fairways of our Island courses and feeding back property taxes and other spin offs from the property owners. My guess is a lot of the potential buyers would be from off Island and they would great summer residents who in all likelihood would invite friends to their vacation homes and spending more money in our economy... A camper comes for a few days but a seasonal home owner comes for a life time and then passes it on to their family... someone close to Golf Links told me that the Government felt the 4 courses were worth $30,000,000.00 which in my view is a ridiculous figure on an asset that is costing over a $1,000,000.00 a year to operate especially when there is no expense allowance for the return on the original capital investment. Maybe the Government should pull the file from the Tourism Department and pass it over to the Department of Small Business (sorry we don't have one) or at least a Department that is experienced in business and understands how development works... and develop a plan to turn these properties around into a winning proposition...
Golf industry in trouble as economy worsens
Housing market’s collapse hampers development of new courses
Story By: David Sweet
Source: MSNBC
According to the National Golf Foundation, the number of new courses expected to open in the United States in 2008 is the smallest in 20 years. More courses are scheduled to close this year (nearly 100) than the 80 expected to open, though the closures have fallen since almost 150 were shut down two years ago. The golf construction boom of the 1990s – when about 2,500 new courses (mostly daily fee ones) were added to the 13,000 or so already extant in the U.S. – is not only over; it’s stuck in reverse.
The problems of the broad economy are bedeviling golf course construction. The housing market’s collapse has hampered development, since a number of golf projects these days are tied into on-site housing. Getting financing to build a new course is tougher than it has been in decades. Projects that were started this year have seen the bulldozers turned off until better times appear.
But in 2008, golf is in decline by many measures. Rounds are down, as is the sale of equipment. On the pro tour, television ratings fell once Tiger Woods left the scene with a damaged knee after the U.S. Open at San Diego’s Torrey Pines.
Though municipal courses are taking the brunt of the downturn (except perhaps Torrey Pines, which enjoyed $8 million in renovations before the Open), private courses are not immune to the pain. Take the case of Ravisloe Country Club in Homewood, Ill. After 107 years as a well-respected course, the 6,300-yard Donald Ross original was reported to have been put up for sale this fall with a price tag of $4.95 million. It is said only a few dozen members are left.
All in all, the golf course business was once as breathtaking as the ocean holes at Pebble Beach. These days, unfortunately, it’s looking more like Rodney Dangerfield’s wardrobe in “Caddyshack.”

Do the math... no tourists.....

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out.... yes the bridge was up 7.8 per cent in August but it was down 22% in July... so a few more people changed their vacations around the weather but the recurring theme is our Tourism numbers are continuing to fall on PEI... there is very little traffic from the United States and my guess is that Americans are vacationing in their own Country where it's cheaper and they have far better service levels.... some of it could be blamed on Passport issues but recently I vacationed in the New England States and it was very busy.... there didn't seem to be any significant signs of a poor tourism economy happening there so I don't think it's all just economy... maybe our Tourism Department should abandon these high flying schemes like "The Big Break" that cost taxpayers over a million dollars with very little return and focus more on strategy and promotion directed towards families as opposed to golfers.... it’s time to get out of the "golf business" and get into the "Tourism promotion"....
Bridge traffic up, ferry traffic down in August
The Guardian
Visitors arriving on the Island via the bridge is up 7.8 per cent in August, according to Tourism officials.
There was an 8.7 per cent increase in overnight stays due mainly to campers. Room nights sold was down by 6.7 per cent while site nights sold to campers was up 48 per cent.
The air traffic was up 4.5 per cent while the ferry traffic in August was down 4.4 per cent.
A large percentage of visitors to Prince Edward Island are Canadians. The majority of those visitors arrive from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Visitors from out west were strong in August.
“A combination of nice weather, Canada Games, Old Home Week and other tourism related activities and events brought visitors to P.E.I. in August,” said Tourism Minister Valerie Docherty.
“Nationally, it’s been a challenging time for the tourism industry. As a department, we recognize that while some indicators are up, others are down, and we will continue to work on solutions with industry to address these variations.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Now That's A Mouth Full....

"We feel we don't need to be competing with the private sector." so you say... well there are about 20 Government boards that are competing with the private sector everyday and one of them Minister Campbell just bought a building last week from Kays Brothers using taxpayers money to do it... and you can bet when they go over budget renovating it and they can't find a tenant to pay market rate they'll do exactly what every other Government does in this situation which is lower the rent and screw all the neighbouring property owners... bottom line here is why didn't Government just wait until a private developer bought the building and let the private developer fixed it up.... it's easy to "talk the talk" but will Government "walk the walk" and it sounds like Minister Campbell is going to give it a shot so maybe the Premier should also hand him over the golf course files...
Province selling off business buildings
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
CBC News
The P.E.I. government is selling off four buildings it owns in industrial parks, saying it does not want to be in competition with private developers.
Three of the buildings are in Charlottetown's West Royalty Industrial Park — the North and South Malls and 88 Watts Drive — and the other is an industrial mall in Summerside.
"We feel we don't need to be competing with the private sector," Innovation Minister Allan Campbell said.
"It's part of allowing them to do their work and allowing them to grow and flourish in the province as well. It's part of the one-Island-community theme."
Campbell said the government expects to get $4.7 million from the sales, but that is not the impetus behind the decision to sell.
"That's not what it's all about. It's about getting out of competition with the private sector," he said.
Earlier this year the government took down the for-sale sign on four provincially owned golf courses. Tourism Minister Valerie Docherty said that is no contradiction. The province is not seeking a buyer for the courses because economic conditions are not right for a sale, but the government is still open to offers.
"Of course they're for sale," Docherty said.
"If the right buyer comes along with the price that's going to benefit taxpayers, we're always open to that."
Docherty expects government will eventually get the deal it is looking for when the economy improves.
While only four government buildings are on the block right now, Campbell said government is looking at other properties that could be put on the market as well, all in the name of not competing with the private sector.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Paul... it's time to "hang up the skates"....

Back in his "hay day" Paul Martin was considered a very astute businessman turned political economic guru..... and to help booster his political image he use to head out to his farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and play "gentlemen farmer" on Sundays by driving his tractor around the fields and "thinking" about how great a Prime Minister he was going to be to us meagre voters... well somewhere in one of those fields the tractor hit a "bump" and went in the ditch and instead of getting back up on the tractor and finish cutting the hay Paul is now back in the media again trying to tell another Prime Minister how to do their job... well he must of "hit his head" when he fell off as he still thinks people are going to listen to him... and had Prime Minister Chretien listened to him when Mr. Martin wanted to allow our Canadian Banks to merge with the US Banks then our Country would be in the same poor economic conditions as the US... Paul it's time to "hang up the skates" and get back to the farming as you've done enough damage to the Liberal Party and we're trying to move on.... here's a reminder
Paul Martin says Conservatives need 'clear exit strategy' for deficit
The Canadian Press
WATERLOO, Ont. — The Harper government has created a structural deficit and now needs to outline a clear exit strategy, says former prime minister and deficit-slayer Paul Martin. Martin, speaking to reporters after a speech to a global economic conference in Waterloo, Ont., on Sunday, said his government left behind a $13 billion surplus and the Conservatives whittled that down to nothing before the recession even hit. “That surplus was wiped out and more before a penny was spent on stimulus spending,” Martin said. If the surplus had been left untouched, there would have been enough money in Ottawa’s coffers to cover billions of dollars of stimulus spending without going into deficit, he added. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently updated his estimates for the deficit for this year, raising the number by more than $5 billion, to a projected $55.9 billion from $50.2 billion.Much of the deficit reflects higher government stimulus spending to fight the recession, lower corporate taxes as company profits fall and billions of dollars spent to bail out General Motors and Chrysler and save them from collapse this spring. Flaherty has promised to balance the books by the 2015-16 fiscal year by squeezing growth in public spending and relying on higher tax revenues from a growing economy. Flaherty has said he will not increase taxes or cut transfer payments to the provinces. However, employment insurance premiums are going up and some economists have predicted that taxes, user fees and other revenue generators will likely rise as well over the next several years to help fight the deficit. But Martin, who balanced the books as finance minister in the Jean Chretien Liberal government from 1993 to 2002, said Canadians deserve a clearer picture of what their government is going to do to eliminate the structural deficit it has created. “It’s not enough to say we will have a plan,” Martin said. “The government should have a plan now and it should lay it out in front of the Canadian people.” This doesn’t mean the government needs to start acting to eliminate the deficit immediately, Martin said. He said Canada — and governments around the world — need to wait until the time is right before they start to cut spending, but when that time comes, they should be prepared to react immediately. Martin is known for successfully eliminating the deficit when he was finance minister — a move that often resulted in unpopular decisions, such as cutting transfer payments to the provinces and reducing funding for universities. He said he didn’t enjoy doing what he did, but it was necessary at the time, and it will be necessary again. “The reason I just think it was such a terrible mistake for the government to go to a structural deficit is that you don’t want to do what we did in ’95 every 10 years. You don’t want to impose that on people,” Martin said. Earlier Sunday, Martin spoke at an international economic conference sponsored by a Canadian think tank founded by Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM). He urged the G20 — newly approved to replace the G8 as the overseer of the global economy — to create an international body to co-ordinate regulation of financial systems around the world so the financial crisis does not re-occur. “If globalization is to work, we must recognize that national regulation cannot deal with the gaps in the global financial system, and furthermore we must recognize that the effectiveness of national regulation must be ensured by an international co-ordinating body, both for scope and competence,” Martin said in his speech at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. He added that enforcement of this international co-ordination must be mandatory, not voluntary, as some countries have suggested.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Strange Byline... or strange comments....

I'm sure there were some tongues waggling down on the 5th floor when they seen this news item as Government heads back to more Committee Meetings next week and this story will certainly fuel the fire by the opposition to call the deputies forward to talk about the PNP's... what's so strange about this story is there was no reporter taking credit for the interview which usually means that the person being interviewed usually calls it in but we don't know that is this case.... but why a federal Liberal MP would touch a Liberal Provincial issue is really strange particularly one that could involve questions directly related to his own family... I can remember back when the Ghiz Government was in opposition and they continued to "Demand" that Kent Scales the bureaucratic in charge of the Polar File show up before the hearings.... but when all was said and done with the release of the Polar Report there was no mention or blame put on Mr. Scales as in most cases these bureaucrats are directed by the Ministers and the Premier's office... and I suspect that will be the case in the PNP program and neither the former Binns government or the current government will ever come out lily white on any issue so why do we waste all this time talking about the past instead of looking towards the future...
Charlottetown MP backs calling deputies to provincial committee
The Guardian
A Liberal MP is siding with the Conservative opposition in P.E.I. and calling for the provincial public accounts committee to hear from deputy ministers. Charlottetown MP Shawn Murphy says as far as he knows the Prince Edward Island public accounts committee is the only public accounts committee in Canada that does not allow deputy ministers to appear. Murphy said it would be far more effective for the committee to hear from deputy ministers — a position Opposition Leader Olive Crane has been pushing for the past 10 months. When the province’s public accounts committee first began probing the controversial Provincial Nominee Program last fall, then-Innovation minister Richard Brown would not allow his program administrators and deputy ministers to appear and answer questions. This was in spite of the fact former Innovation deputy Brooke MacMillan was at the centre of much PNP controversy when it was uncovered he and his wife both benefitted from the program. Since then, the Liberal MLAs on the committee have repeatedly upheld the notion of only calling ministers of departments to appear before the committee. But with the PNP back on the agenda as public accounts delves into the 2009 auditor general’s report, which includes the auditor’s special investigation into the immigration program, Crane tried once again this week to pitch the idea of calling in deputies and senior bureaucrats. For the past three-and-a-half years, Murphy has been the chairman of the federal public accounts committee. He said the federal committee hears from deputy ministers and it is only on very rare occasions that a cabinet minister would be invited to appear. “The deputies are responsible for administration and that normally would be the focus of the public accounts committee,” said Murphy. “The ministers, individually and collectively in cabinet, are responsible for establishing policy, which normally would not be a concern to a Public Accounts Committee.” Murphy went on to say that the trouble with the present dispute before the provincial public accounts committee is that the Opposition’s new position is completely inconsistent with the policy held by Conservative members for 11 years prior to May 2007, when they insisted that only cabinet ministers would appear before the committee. “Given their long-held previous policy, the Opposition’s new position would be seen by most people as being hypocritical.” Murphy suggests that to get beyond this present dispute the provincial public accounts committee may wish to adopt a policy of calling deputy ministers to appear before the committee, which could come into effect at some point in the future, perhaps a year from now.

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's Time To Stop The Bleeding....

Manulife Financial says it is in negotiations with CGI Group regarding the upcoming expiry of the $120 million outsourcing contract that was signed in the wake of the 2004 acquisition of Maritime Life. At that time 300 Maritime Life people were switched over to CGI in the aftermath of the deal that seen the demise of one of Halifax’s largest business institutions which had a head office payroll of 1,075 people. Manulife now have about 750 employees in Halifax while CGI has about 650 in Atlantic Canada most of whom are out of Halifax working on the Manulife account but there are over 100 people here on PEI working out of building in Stratford that the previous Binns Government built to suit CGI in 2006 which is still half empty. When big companies like this are in negotiations there is never any guarantees on what happens in the aftermath of such negotiations and let’s hope it does not impact CGI’s operations here on PEI. Now my guess is if you asked someone from CGI if there was going to be any aftermath on PEI they would say everything is alright but I can remember a few months ago when the local media called Starbucks after I said they were coming to Charlottetown and a trained Starbucks public relations person basically denied such. The big problem I see here is Government through CADC could be on the hook for another empty building in Stratford just like what is shaping up for the White Elephant the Binns Government built as the Atlantic Technology Centre that PEI taxpayers are now paying over a $1,000,000.00 a year to subsidize. Our Government spent over $26,000,000.00 to build the Tech Centre and today they got a recent “beefed up” appraisal at around $8,000,000.00 and I would bet my first child they couldn't get over $5,000,000.00 in today’s market so how’s that for Government being in the development business? Let’s all hope the negotiations with this US firm Manulife go well for CGI and jobs in Stratford get secured but in the meantime hopefully Government will get out of the property development business as they’re not very good at it. I understand the Ghiz Government has put their properties in the West Royalty Industrial Park up for sale which appears to be a good start at getting out of the business as most of their properties are "bleeding" red ink....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Guess Is Mr. Rowe Will Win This One....

For those of you who aren't aware Vector Aerospace has a significant operating division in Slemon Park that is run by a very capable former bureaucrat in Brian Thompson.... and if you have a look at the following story the Company is now “in play” a term used when someone is trying to take over the Company.... it will be very interesting to see what happens to this Company following what appears to be a "dust up" among shareholders.... my guess is that the response by Vector's Board to shun IMP's offer is not going to sit well with Kenneth Rowe who is IMP's owner ... in fact it's quite surprising that existing management wouldn't recognize IMP's strong ownership of over 37% of the Company and the proven capabilities of Mr. Rowe as a seasoned businessman who in my view will surely toss away any of those who get in his way as he'll probably ultimately get control... in any event I’m pretty sure Brian will survive and it might be a great opportunity for the Summerside operation to continue to grow as that is Mr. Rowe’s track record....
Vector Aerospace seeking alternatives to IMP Group offer
The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Vector Aerospace Corp. (TSX:RNO) said Tuesday a special committee of independent directors does not believe a move by its largest shareholder to increase its stake is in best interests of the company and is exploring alternatives. Vector said the move by IMP Group Ltd. to make an all-cash offer to acquire up to six million Vector shares would allow the private Halifax-based aerospace investment company to acquire control of the corporation and reduce liquidity for shareholders. The company also noted the floor price of $6.52 set out in the proposed offer is below the closing price of Vector’s shares on the 30 trading days preceding Sept. 25.Vector shares closed up 18 cents at $6.90 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday. IMP Group currently holds about a 37.3 per cent stake in Vector or about 14 million shares. Vector also announced Tuesday that it has signed a deal to raise $45 million in an issue of shares that will be used to repay debt and for general corporate purposes. The company said it has signed an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by TD Securities and Dundee Securities to sell 7.1 million shares at $6.35 per share. Vector has also granted the underwriters an over-allotment option to purchase up to an additional 1,065,000 shares. The company currently has about 38 million shares outstanding.Vector Aerospace has aviation repair and overhaul services in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Africa.

Big changes or just a teaser....

Well there was a lot of talk around today that we were heading for some major changes in Government but as you can see from the recent press release from Island Information Services there were only a few minor changes... but I'm fully expecting to see bigger changes by October 15th and I predict some of them will be in Cabinet duties...
October 1, 2009 For immediate release
Premier Announces Changes in Senior Management
Premier's Office
Premier Robert Ghiz announced the following changes to the senior management team of Government following Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
• Wayne Hooper is retiring from the Government of Prince Edward Island and will be continuing to serve in a new capacity with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
• Bob Morrison will be retiring from the Government of Prince Edward Island and will be taking up a new position with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
• Teresa Hennebery will be leaving her position as Assistant Deputy Minister of Health to take a secondment with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
• Aubrey Cormier will be joining the Government of Prince Edward Island as Assistant Deputy Minister of Acadian and Francophone Affairs.
“The make-up of the senior management team will continue to evolve as we identify the leadership needed to advance our Government’s priorities,” said Premier Ghiz.
“To this end, I am looking forward to working with Aubrey Cormier is his new capacity in support of Acadian and francophone issues.
“I also want to thank Wayne Hooper, Bob Morrison and Teresa Hennebery for their significant service to the Government of Prince Edward Island and wish them well in their new endeavours,” Premier Ghiz said.

Let's get this Museum underway....

When the new Ghiz Government took power one of the first things they did was cancel the Provincial Museum project in Murray River which I felt made a lot of sense as it would probably just sit out there in isolation... but it's been two years now and things have been fairly quiet on the location front other than some silly notion that it should go in the old Dominion Building and now an expression from Stratford that it should be on the their waterfront... while I personally think it should be near the most public entrance to Charlottetown and close to the University I really don't know.... but I think it would be wise of Government in the very near future to invite expressions of interest from Communities using a scoring system to award the location to the Community who puts forward the proposal with the "best merit" in meeting the PEI Museum’s mandate as opposed to just handing it out based on political favours.... the sooner we get this museum on track the better.... and I applaud Stratford's efforts in taking the initiative in getting this debate started but "moving a lagoon" to make way for it is financially out of the ball park.... here's a previous posting on the subject
Architect sparks excitement about bid for museum in Stratford
The Guardian
Passion and excitement swept through a meeting in Stratford Wednesday as the town pushes on with a bid to have a new P.E.I. museum on its waterfront. An informal committee of interested people, led by Stratford deputy mayor Sandy McMillan, has for the past few days been hosting one of the world’s most famous architects, Douglas Cardinal. He spoke at a public meeting attended by nearly 50 people at Stratford Town Hall Wednesday. Afterwards, the excitement was palpable. Edward Rice presented his enthusiasm for the project to area MLA Cynthia Dunsford and Mayor Kevin Jenkins. “All inclusiveness, the inspiration of a new building that is allowed to be free, to be formed, something new and imaginative, the site — which I think is ideal — somebody put all this together and that hasn’t happened in Charlottetown,” said Rice. Cardinal spoke of the need for strong, determined vision and commitment to make projects happen even when it seems unlikely. He persevered for many of his renowned, curving structures, be it the National Museum of the American Indian on the Washington Mall beside the Capitol, or a northern Canadian hospital combining aboriginal and western medicine. “It takes imagination, which everything starts with, your vision, your belief, and (Cardinal) brought that to us tonight,” said Rice. “Somebody somewhere in this group had the brains to put that together. They have a bid committee. Where are the rest of the few communities that could be interested? I see big players here and big dreamers too. “Remember Frank MacKinnon built Confederation Centre of the Arts on a dream, with not a . . . hope . . . of getting a dime to do that, and he and a few other people did it. Not that I agree with it.” Jordan Brown is the unofficial co-chair and sometime spokesperson for the Stratford museum bid committee. He lives in Frenchfort but was impressed with the idea of Stratford being home to a P.E.I. museum. He knows that the current town sewage lagoon will have to be moved if the museum is to occupy the open waterfront space south of the Hillsborough Bridge approaches. “From a provincial perspective it makes so much sense to have it there, it is almost nonsensical to think of it being any place else,” said Brown. He invited any interested Islander to contact him, McMillan or the Stratford town office to volunteer for the growing ad hoc museum committee. “Government right now has announced its intention to build this museum and is currently undertaking a study . . . to define the scope of the museum, where it would go, what kind of facility it would need, parking, etc.,” said Brown. “Like (Cardinal) said here tonight, we have stated our intention that we want it here, now we are enrolling the people to do that.” “The first step is to declare a very powerful intention,” said Cardinal in his address Wednesday. Then it must be nurtured, he said. “When you state your word, and you say it in a powerful way, the hardest thing is to keep your word because human beings have a whole bunch of agendas going on in their heads,” said Cardinal. “To bring a vision into reality, you keep your word, you keep your intentions pure which requires an unwavering commitment. You operate by commitment, rather than fear. “Fear keeps us powerless and small and collapse the power of our intention.”