Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This should get the phones ringing...

As I previously suggested it didn't take long for Wal-Mart Canada to react to Target coming to Canada.  My guess is that each of these new stores will cost about $30 million a pop to develop so it's great news for the economy and the retail development business in Canada....  it will motivate other retailers to react by freshening up or repositioning their stores in our marketplace and this approximate $1.2 billion dollar investment by Wal-Mart will create a lot of spin off jobs...  

For all you folks on PEI who love to work on rumours... "it's not going on the lot we're developing across from Bed, Bath and Beyond" and that's all I know (or prepared to talk about)...

Wal-Mart Canada plans to open 40 supercentres

The Canadian Press
Date: Wednesday Jan. 26, 2011
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Wal-Mart Canada is ramping up expansion plans for its supercentres -- the extra-large locations that combine general merchandise and groceries.

The retail giant says it will open 40 new Canadian supercentres in its upcoming fiscal year starting Feb. 1 through both renovating and relocating some existing stores and constructing new ones.

While the location of the new stores hasn't been announced yet, the plan will expand the supercentre concept into Manitoba and Quebec, and represents a combined investment of nearly $500 million.

Wal-Mart said the plan could create more than 9,200 jobs in stores and in the construction sector.

The retailer opened its first Canadian supercentres in Ontario in 2006.

At the end of this month it will have 325 stores, of which 124 will be supercentres.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yikes!!! maybe "Wes the Cat"

I just had a buzz around Starlink Productions’ web site and it's hard to believe you'd send these guys a “stamp” let alone real money... where was the due diligence?  My guess is the legal bill to try and recover these funds will be outrageous and the likelihood of getting anything back will be negligible so maybe Justice Douglas could send “Wes the Cat” up to Credit Union place to put on a show as part of his “community work”....  and although I don’t see Wes in Starlink’s line-up, he does a great “Elvis” impression with the guitar, and he would certainly fit in with all their other acts.... "YIKES"

Summerside suing for concert funds
Published on January 25th, 2011

SUMMERSIDE — The City of Summerside has initiated legal action against a California promoter to recoup $1.3 million, which was advanced to the promoter to bring a major concert to the city.

On Monday, the city was to file a complaint with the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division, for fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, negligent misrepresentation and rescission (rescinding) of a contract against Katrina Berg Sussmeier and Starlink Productions Inc.

In the Nature of Action against Sussmeier and Starlink Productions, the city alleges that in July 2009, Sussmeier presented the city with the opportunity to hold the Michael Jackson Tribute Concert featuring performances by Beyonce, Usher, Ne-Yo and Leona Lewis.

“In July and August 2009, Sussmeier pressured representatives of the city to act immediately to book the concert and represented that she and Starlink had the authority to arrange for such a mega-concert,” the Notice of Action claims.

The city entered an agreement with Sussmeier on July 24, 2009. In late July, Sussmeier emailed the city demanding an immediate wire payment of $650,000 so Beyonce’s appearance at the concert could be guaranteed.

“You’ll have Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, Usher, Beyonce if we get that wire,” she stated in an email to J.P. Desrosier, events and program development officer with the city.

The city sent the money and, in September, entered into a Deal Memorandum and Binder Agreement claiming Starlink was providing the services of artists arranging the Michael Jackson Tribute Show.

According to the city’s suit, “Sussmeier personally signed the memorandum on behalf of both Starlink and the purported artists who would appear at the concert.”

The court papers allege Sussmeier told the city she was working to produce the tribute show with Frank DiLeo, DLM Management Group/DiLeo Entertainment &Touring Inc. (DLM), who once was Michael Jackson’s personal manager.

Sussmeier told the city’s representatives that entities controlled by DLM and Mark Lamicka and Quincy Krashna, acting as agents for DLM, were arranging for the production of the concert.

Papers to be filed with the court claim that between October 2009 and March 2010, Sussmeier repeatedly assured the city the tribute concert was moving forward as scheduled.

By early March 2010, Sussmeier is alleged to have informed city officials that despite the agreement entered into in September requesting the $650,000, “in order to assure Beyonce’s appearance at the concert, the city would need to make a second payment of $650,000 and sign an amended Deal Memo and Binder Agreement.”

According to the complaint filed by the City of Summerside, Sussmeier told city officials that “Beyonce is waiting for your offer with deposit but won’t be waiting long,” and that she could “absolutely confirm” that other acts were solid.

On March 10, the city wired a second $650,000 deposit to Starlink.

The city’s Notice of Action claims the Michael Jackson Tribute Show was “from start to finish an elaborate fraud ... no such concert existed.”

“On information and belief, the artists whom Sussmeier falsely represented would appear at the Tribute Show, including Beyonce, Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, Ne-Yo and Leona Lewis (Timberlake had exited the concert plans earlier), had not agreed or ever committed to appear at any concert in Prince Edward Island in the summer of 2010.

“Moreover, on information and belief, the purported organizers of the concert had never obtained permission from the Michael Jackson estate or Jackson family to organize a tribute show for Michael Jackson in Summerside or elsewhere,” stated the city’s papers.

The action goes on to state, “Neither Beyonce nor any of her agents or representatives had ever sought the two payments of $650,000 that Sussmeier told the city would confirm and guarantee Beyonce’s appearance at the concert.”

The action further claims Beyonce’s management, on April 21, 2010, when first presented with the idea of performing in Summerside, rejected the idea.

“When Sussmeier in July 2009 and March 2010 induced payments of $650,000 from the city to confirm Beyonce’s appearance at a concert in Prince Edward Island, Beyonce had never even received a proposal for such a concert much less requested that the city or anyone else pay a deposit to secure such a concert.”

None of the city’s allegations have been proven in court.

Summerside Chief Administrative Officer Terry Murphy said the city had dealt successfully with Sussmeier’s company in promoting the John Fogerty concert in 2009 and trusted the promoter could deliver the promised concert in 2010.

“Unfortunately, the city was badly let down as the promoters did not deliver on the major concert as promised.”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't lose any sleep... I'm not!

It's pretty simple. I'm in the development business and like Danny I believe a "branded" hotel will work in the Charlottetown market place....  so we developed a scheme to build one based on a receiving a "confirmation" letter from the Province that a new Convention Centre would be built in Charlottetown...  and we "never" received a letter before our "options" were up so we weren't prepared to plough $2,100,000 into buying Kevin's site unless we had this written confirmation...

As a developer you get used to getting up every day with people trying to stop you and it may be the NIMBY crowd, the Don't Get Ahead Gang, competitors, or just someone trying to put a knife in your back but they always seem to rear their heads when it's a major project in the Greater Charlottetown area. In fact, Charlottetown City Councillor Rob Lantz even gets to Tweet it as a promotion piece for the City as here's what he had to say... "APM will not be building the hotel they had proposed for Kays Building property on Queen St. someone else has purchased property"... kind of positive!

When we tried to build the original Superstore in Ch'town we had tons of issues including losing our option on the Kirkwood Motel and having our permit "denied" at IRAC which the Guardian headlined as "Superstore Loses"... the mistake we made there was we didn't build the first one big enough so we doubled the size a few years later!  For those of you who can remember back then the spin was “it will be too big”... well Sobey’s built two more new ones, IGA built a new one, and a couple of new Shopper’s came about.

On Greenfield Avenue, when we tried to tear down the old Provincial Sanatorium to make way for 19 family homes the "crazies" were out in full force talking about rehabilitating the old structure, that was derelict at best. Today we’re very proud of Brighton Commons and how's its developed into the neighbourhood we live in.

In Stratford, we started out to build a new Home Hardware to replace the old one that was busting at the seams...  and lo and behold we had Mayor Farmer and his band of merry men fighting us in the Supreme Court trying stop us and if that wasn't enough Minister Don MacKinnon was trying to have me arrested for trying to use a public road to get to the store... I'm happy to say we're over there now building and investing in another building.

On Pownal Street, we tried to build a condo/apartment and after a year of planning and development our permit was again "tossed" by IRAC and we had to start over by developing a relationship with Homburg...  and we eventually got to build and develop a even larger development in the "Northumberland" condominium project.

On Spring Park Road we were trying to consolidate two R3 lots that we're being used as a "construction yard" to build a new 37 unit apartment building....  and City Council voted against it and leading the cause was none other than former City Councillor Philip Brown... I'm happy to say we persisted and developed a beautiful building that has cleaned up the area and made a lot of seniors happy.

When we went to build our new APM head office building on Water Street both planning board and City Council objected to our plans so we were turned down and we lost our option on the property. But we did spend about $8,000,0000 developing our new building on another Ch'town property and I'm always excited showing up to work with the talented group of people who "make it happen" at APM... and I'm never embarrassed about the great work they do and I never lose any sleep when someone suggests it may not work as "my crowd" will figure out how...

The plan we proposed for the Kay's building is a great plan and I'm still hoping to make it work as we know there's opportunity here to "develop" another branded hotel and that's what we do... new rooms, new investment, and new jobs in our tourism industry, together with a larger tax base is good for everyone... I’m not losing any sleep as I’m to busy counting ways how to get the project done... it's a tough business but someone has to do it!

Downtown property changes hands
The Guardian,
by Jim Day
January 21st, 2011

Danny Murphy is in and Tim Banks is out for development of prime piece of real estate in downtown Charlottetown.

Murphy told The Guardian today he purchased the corner lot on Queen, Water and King Streets last month from his brother Kevin Murphy.

Danny says he is looking at the options for development. "I'm in the hotel business," he said.

"There is a need for a hotel down in that end of the town with the convention centre (coming) we will be developing that area."

Danny says he has "no idea'' when work may begin.

Banks, CEO of the construction and property development company APM, made plenty of noise over his plan to develop a $22-million project on that very location.

He was looking to develop a 120-room hotel, a parking garage with about 63 spaces, 14 fully furnished apartment units and six condominium units.

Banks sued Judy Gallant and Lys-Ondra Goulet after they appealed the city's approval of the hotel. The two Charlottetown women then counter-sued and went on to lose their appeal to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.

The two sides eventually agreed to drop their lawsuits.

"Off With Their Heads"

I was reading the front page of the Guardian this morning and came across this story that our Finance Minister Wes Sheridan was holding private meetings this Wednesday in Ch'town to discuss "identifying waste in Government" and to call Ruth at 902-368-4050 for an appointment... well I couldn't believe my good fortune that I could get in to see Wes and "reload" on the enormous waste at our Provincially owned golf courses and also take a shot a those pork barrelling pigs at IRAC... plus a bunch of other pet peeves that I've been mouthing off about!!!

The bad news is he's "full-up" so I guess I wasn't up early enough as a bunch of people got ahead of me and he's booked until February 16th... the funny thing is when I was speaking to his office they volunteered that they had paid ads in the Guardian and had very little response but since he went public in the media "the phone has been ringing off the hook" looking for appointments so maybe they should stop paying for "advertising" and get out in the public more...

And just maybe some "public" meetings on the subject would also help Islanders understand the pressures on Minister Sheridan as we all have to start looking at how we get our Government expenses under control... Government can't do everything for everybody so I agree that we shouldn't expect any new programs in the next budget and hopefully more efficiency and more cutting of "waste"...  as for IRAC... "Off With Their Heads"

Finance minister asks Islanders to help identify waste
Published on January 24th, 2011
Wayne Thibodeau

Wes Sheridan says he’s looking to Prince Edward Island residents to identify government waste as the finance minister begins pre-budget consultations this week.

The finance minister is grappling with a $54.9 million budget shortfall this year. Both Premier Robert Ghiz and the finance minister said Islanders should not expect any flashy new programs in this spring’s budget, even though it’s an election year, because they need to take steps to reign in the spending. The Liberals are promising to balance the budget by 2013/14.

Sheridan says he expects to hear a lot more suggestions this time around in how the provincial government can save money. “Everyone sees that every department is important in different ways,” said Sheridan. “There’s very little waste so it’s a matter of trying to prioritize what is important to Islanders. That’s what we have to do.”

The finance minister will be holding pre-budget consultations today at Access P.E.I. in Summerside. On Wednesday, Jan. 26, he’ll hold court in Charlottetown. Those consultations will be held on the third floor of the Shaw Building. Pre-budget consultations move east to Access P.E.I. in Montague on Thursday, Jan. 27.

The finance minister is available by appointment only from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. To make an appointment contact Ruth Chandler at the Department of Finance at (902) 368-4050. Those meetings will be held in private.

To read all this Guardian story

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Larry the Leader... and his great "Manifesto" with an eye on "detail"...

Well it is the winter here on PEI and we're stuck between storms so for some pure entertainment you should take a look at the great "Manifesto" that was released by PEI's newest political party "The Island Party of P.E.I." which seems to have more letters in its name than party members...  but seriously this 8 page "Writ" reads like the Chronicles of Riddick and none other than our most famous Larry McGuire of Morell stepping in to the role of Mr. Pork Barrel as the occasional  party leader...  so here's your copy and I'm pretty sure the document itself should speak to how they will do in the next election as they couldn't even spell poor Larry's name right... but who cares about "detail" anyway when you're this close to forming Government....  Ring the bell boys as there's someone at the door in Unit 9 looking for your vote or delivering a pizza....

Island Party issues first communique
Published on January 17th, 2011
Ryan Ross, the Guardian

As the province heads into a fall election, P.E.I.’s newest political party is trying to spread the word about what it stands for.

The Island Party has released what it’s referring to as its first communiqué to explain the party’s political philosophy as organizers try to boost membership numbers and gather support for the upcoming election.

In its communiqué, the party acknowledged some of the hurdles it faces, including the lack of a party leader, and worries that people may not take it seriously, although it didn’t include any specific details about an election platform. Spokesperson Jason McGregor said the Island Party organizers want to take their time as they build to make sure everything is done right.

“Basically, thinking about building a strong party fundamentally, we decided that it’s important to have a base philosophy on which to base our platform,” he said.

The Island Party became official last March with Jay Gallant as the temporary party leader, but when he stepped down, it left a vacancy at the top that has yet to be filled. But despite being leaderless, several party members have been meeting regularly to help develop the party’s policies and build the membership from its current 25 to 35 members.

McGregor said the party may need one firm spokesperson to lead it, but the members haven’t decided on the process to pick a leader and have considered a system similar to the one used in Nunavut, which has no party leaders. “That is still up in the air as well,” he said.

As it heads into the election, the party is hoping to have a candidate run in each of the province’s 27 ridings and the organizers think it is possible, although the party hasn’t started finding candidates yet, he said. “We think it is realistic to have candidates in each district come election time.”

McGregor said a lot of people don’t know about the Island Party or what it stands for, which is why party organizers released the communiqué because people won’t start to take it seriously until they know its philosophy.

“One of our biggest fears is people will dismiss us even when they don’t know anything about us because to dismiss something is to look past something that could be a very good thing, could be another good route and so that just adds into our philosophy.” For the rest of the story see:

Here's What Paul MacNeill Said... about our famous "Mitch"...

Second Opinion by Paul MacNeill,
publisher Eastern Graphic
Wed, January 19, 2011

Charlottetown city councillor Mitch Tweel went uncharacteristically silent after a December court proceeding requiring him to stay away from an unidentified female.

The long time councillor agreed to what is known as an 810 recognizance. Islanders don’t know the specifics. We do know that the female lodged a complaint with police on November 10. The issue is serious enough that if Tweel does not abide by the order he could face a criminal charge.

To date the normally chatty councillor has remained absolutely silent. He skipped council’s December meeting. At the January meeting media allowed him to rattle on about a stop sign issue. When they asked for comment on his legal issue he simply turned and walked away.

Sorry Mitch. That is not good enough. Elected officials do not have the right to simply refuse to talk. But if you insist on silence there should be repercussions.

For instance, media should not allow the councillor to comment on any other issue. Why give him a forum when he refuses to discuss an issue that raises questions about his fitness to be on council?

More importantly, Mayor Clifford Lee must not accept his silence.  Why has the mayor not removed Councillor Tweel as chairman of the city’s Human Resources Committee, which is responsible for ensuring a positive work environment for all city employees? Does the mayor believe female city staff has absolute confidence in the committee under Tweel’s leadership and his ability to work effectively on their behalf?

Mayor Clifford Lee needs to stand up for city employees. He needs to stand up for the city’s female employees. He needs to remove Councillor Tweel as chairman of Human Resources.

Silence from the Mayor and Councillor Tweel is not an option

Tweel walks away from questions on stay-away order
The Guardian,
January 11th, 2010

Coun. Mitchell Tweel abruptly walked away from the media Monday night when asked to comment on the stay-away order that was issued against him last month in provincial court.
Tweel didn’t attend December’s public meeting of council so members of the media asked him to comment on the issue Monday night.
In December, Tweel signed an 810 recognizance in which he agreed to have no contact of any kind with an unidentified woman who sought the order.
Police received a complaint on Nov. 10 from the woman and, after investigating the complaint, police turned the matter over to the Crown attorney’s office to review.
Police said the victim feared for her safety.
When Tweel was asked about it Monday night, he abruptly walked away without saying a word.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pee-wee Newest Adventure.... very funny!

Although the mega-famous Gwyneth Paltrow hosted "Saturday Night Live" this past Saturday night, Pee-wee Herman was the one who ended up stealing the show in this raucous Digital Short.

In it, Andy Samberg and the "Funhouse" star have a wild night out involving lots of shots, pranks that aren't really pranks, and a run-in with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

You may not have thought you'd ever hear sweet little Chairy swear, but that's just one of the ridiculous things that happens when you get Pee-wee Herman in your digital short.

On a side note, Pee-wee Herman hasn't hosted "SNL" since 1985.
Isn't he due for a comeback?

“can you say Pompass”

I like this comment sent in by Anonymous “can you say Pompass”.... in reference to my most recent blog post “Shocking News... so why not me!!!...” which is about the upcoming Lieutenant Governor’s appointment...

I normally don't publish or respond to “Anonymous” posts as they are generally people hiding behind some veil and not brave enough to “come out”... but in this anonymous response I love the fact that you could read it either way... that the position of Lieutenant Governor is "Pompass" or that I am.... we can’t call on “Anonymous” to explain what he meant by his question but I’m sure most could agree with both views.... but if you happen to run into "Anonymous" can you please ask... can you "spell" Pompous?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Now I Know How Rob McEachern Must Feel...

Well some of us may not have picked up on this but it seems a bit ironic that today's Guardian cartoon and also a Letter to the Editor happened to make it to the same page and I'm wondering if there is some sort of conspiracy here by those folks at the Guardian...

It wasn't long ago that Rob was a "big fat-cat" businessman swinging around PEI with fairy tales of success and full faced into PEI's political trough applying for PNP's... and now after taking a beating by one our most colourful MLA's it appears Rob is looking for justice through our esteemed legal system but my guess is he should solicit our good friend Larry McGuire or Dean Shaw for some advice....

The Guardian Letters to the Editor
January 11, 2011
Denying answers is unacceptable
When an elected official on the important public accounts committee asks a question on behalf of the electorate, the government must answer. When Harper attempted to keep documents secret from the Opposition parties he was challenged at the Supreme Court of Canada and Harper lost.
Our elected officials’ right are being violated routinely. I suggest that Robert Ghiz is in violation of the Canadian Constitution every time he has his puppet committee vote down any questions with teeth. Olive Crane has been denied answers.
This is absolutely unacceptable. With the overabundant number of lawyers in Charlottetown, are any savvy enough to offer an opinion that would betray my suggestion?
Rob McEachern
East Point

Monday, January 10, 2011

SHOCKING NEWS... so why not me!!!!

If anybody saw me leaving the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning then please let me know how I got home.... one minute I was sitting there enjoying myself embellishing others with great tales of Mitchell Tweel on his Campaign trail, when suddenly someone innocently plunked down The Guardian and right there before my very owns eyes was Wayne Thibodeau's inside scoop on the front runners for the soon to be announced PEI Lieutenant-Governor... I must have looked like a deer in the headlights as I scanned this "rag" looking for my picture... then I furiously read each page including the obituaries in search of my name, but with each fleeting moment I was becoming even more incoherent, to the point I was ready to fetch Paul MacNeill to bring some justice to this story...

In shock, I muddled my way through the rest of Saturday and thought it only fitting that I should muster up enough energy to head down to the Lebanese New Year's bash at the Delta where surely I would find a camp of supporters... the Premier immediately recognized my grief and offered up the suggestion that if I could stomp Garth Staples out of the running then I may have a shot at it... but Shawn Murphy said knowing Jim Bagnall, he could be the dark horse, as his intellect may be the deciding factor... I was so discouraged that I couldn't even manage to get up and have a swing around the floor with the belly dancer, that's how stunned I felt...

Through the weekend I convinced myself that surely John Jeffery of CBC would get to the root of this obvious oversight and by midday Monday the pre-Compass reports would have pushed my story ahead of those wandering “lice” that Karen Mair has been on the lookout for... you can’t imagine how I’m feeling here after replaying Compass at least a half dozen times tonight and not even a mention... but when you really think about it, why wouldn't I have been the front runner as it was well known when I passed up the offer to be made a Senator, that I qualified such by letting them know I was "in-waiting" for the White House... I had even mentioned at that time that I was prepared to add a new swimming pool, a properly vented smoking room and a high pressure wash bay to the “big house” and all on my own tab...

But this is serious business when we’re talking about representing our good Queen of the Motherland and no one more than I (well maybe John Macnutt Esq.) appreciates the prerequisite of one’s qualifications to do this job properly... even with my credentials as a certified development bully I now know that I have to sweeten up the deal if I ever expect to manipulate my way to the top so first thing tomorrow I’m going to offer up Billy McGuire, the news editor of The Guardian, to be my Aide-de-Camp which should get me the proper media attention... then I’m going to make sure Ottawa knows that I’m prepared to develop a 9 hole executive golf course next to the big house if things go my way... I won’t need a salary so that would save our taxpayers some money and in the summers we could have Allan Rankin’s troupe run a midday socialist “Ceilidh” as the Princess and I would be at the cottage... hopefully this will do it?

If all else fails I just may call Lizzie myself and let her know that I’m prepared to swap the Porsche for a nice British built Lotus to keep out front for her and the Family to sport around in when they visit... and just think of the parties, so why not me?

Hunt is now on for new lieutenant-governor

January 8th, 2011
Wayne Thibodeau

Quietly, behind the scenes, a small group of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s closest confidants in Prince Edward Island are beginning the process to select the province’s next lieutenant-governor.

Barbara Hagerman’s term as Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, representative in Prince Edward Island comes to an end in July.

A replacement will likely be named in late June. Unless there is a federal election in the next six months and the Conservatives lose that election, the decision on who will be moving into Fanningbank, the lieutenant-governor’s official residence, will lie with Harper and his advisors, including Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, who is the minister responsible for Prince Edward Island.

Sources both in Charlottetown and in Ottawa say there is a long list of potential candidates being considered.

However, the prime minister’s office appears particularly interested in three candidates. They include veteran Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart, who ran unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in Egmont several years ago.

Also topping the list is Charlottetown businessman Fred Hyndman, who is managing director of Hyndman & Co. and chairman of the board of directors at UPEI.

There is also a lot of interest in Chief Darlene Bernard, the head of the Lennox Island First Nation. If named to the post, Bernard would be Prince Edward Island’s first aboriginal head of government.

Other names being considered are former Progressive Conservative MLAs Wes MacAleer and Pat Mella, Summerside lawyer Nancy Key, and Roger “Co-op” Arsenault, a community leader in Evangeline region of Prince Edward Island.

All three of the top contenders were surprised to even be considered.

Shea would not do an interview but the Egmont MP issued a carefully worded statement in an effort to fend off those who may want to lobby for the post, which sources say has already started.

“The current governor is doing a great job in her role and we are grateful for her service,” Shea said in her statement. “The prime minister will insure a suitable qualified individual will be appointed when her term comes to an end. It is customary as well for the prime minister to consult with the premier.”

There was a time when appointments of lieutenant governors was carefully weighed by political affiliation, particularly for the party that holds the prime minister’s office, as well as by religion and county lines.

For example, the rotation was usually between Prince, Queen and Kings counties in P.E.I. and between Roman Catholic and protestant. Sources say times have changed and most of those considerations, with the exception of political affiliation, are no longer considered.

Reid said it is an incredible honour and anybody given the opportunity to sit as lieutenant-governor should take that opportunity. “I believe it serves a very, very useful purpose,” she said. “I would think we would lose a lot of tradition if we lost the role of lieutenant-governor.”

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Times, They Are A Changin’

"Fish to Fry"
by Tim Banks
Atlantic Business Magazine
January 8, 2011

You just have to love PEI. It’s a province “steeped in change”. And when I talk about change, I’m talking about serious life-altering changes.

PEI is officially the last province to introduce year-round Sunday shopping. It wasn’t easy. In fact, if you asked our politicians they would say it was the most dramatic thing to pass through the legislature this session.

I have to re-tell an experience I had a few years ago. I’m sitting in a typical Island farm kitchen, with the obligatory statue of Jesus hanging on the wall, reading The Guardian when I stumble upon an article which mentions that some Archbishop has decided that Catholics may eat meat on Fridays. Excited about this, I mention to my 90 year-old-relative that she’s free to eat what she pleases on Fridays. Before she could get the “Well, I don’t know, dear” out of her mouth, her son piped up: “If Christ came down off that cross and served it up to her, she’d not take a bite.”

I could have argued that it was a fact, since it was printed in The Guardian, but that wouldn’t have passed the Protestant Litmus test so it’s still fishcakes on Fridays here.

While the rest of you were dealing with the troubles of the Irish economy and bombings in Korea, our legislature focused entirely on Sunday shopping. The media were at the top of their game, combining their arsenal towards covering the most important issue since allowing canned pop on the Island. Forget that there was already three years of political wrangling to let Island stores open Sundays from May until Christmas – this bill called for complete change. What shaped up might be up there with the Treaty of Versailles.

Here’s how it played out: the Tory Leader of the Opposition brought forward a Private Member’s Bill amending the Retail Business Holidays Act and the media gleefully went door-to-door, soliciting opinions from the public. Never mind that just a year earlier a full Legislative Committee had brought forward a recommendation to government to keep the stores open… which they didn’t follow.

The name calling and banter started rising from the floor of the House. The government pitted rural against urban and religion against business. Finally, a breakthrough, when the Premier suggested a “free vote” not along Party lines. It was an unusual decision, one which hadn’t happened since they allowed Catholics a vote. And smart on the Premier.

The result was a 13-13 tie in the Legislature – and Speaker of the House, Kathleen Casey, broke the tie in favour of Sunday shopping (thank God). Shortly before the vote, the Opposition Leader sprained her ankle and a wily cabinet minister suggested it might have been an act of God. We also had a church minister writing to the newspaper editor calling for a protest in front of the legislature. The third reading of the bill stood, which is great news for you folks visiting this winter as you can warm up in our inviting stores – if they decide to open.

The best news is that the bulk of this silliness being debated in our legislature is being missed by the youth of our province. Changes in technology are outpacing old forms of media and our youth are just oblivious to what our politicians are up to.

Only two Liberal MLAs took to social media to ask constituents about Sunday shopping. Backbencher Cynthia Dunsford and Education minister Doug Currie asked via Facebook and Twitter. It appears their “public” findings were overwhelmingly in favour of Sunday shopping, with most of their feedback coming from a younger crowd who engaged in this debate through new media.

Surely these politicians will look back at this debate as a wasted effort of what could have been time used in improving our education and health care system, leaving the business of business to the free enterprise marketplace and the choice of change to others. Our youth are apathetic towards our politicians. If we’re going to engage them in debate, it’s not going to be about changing store hours as much as it’s about changing the world and our way of thinking. There is a youth resurgence in Bob Dylan’s tune The Times They Are A-Changin’. Maybe it’s time for us to follow that tune.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Broken Resolution... I say NO.

My 2011 New Year's Resolution as previously posted:

"This year’s resolution is to be extremely nice to my friends “down” at IRAC so I’m going to give them a reprieve and wait until mid-January to convince Government to shake up this foolish Commission. Meanwhile, my goal for 2011 is to create an online database that will officially call out PEI’s “Don’t Get Ahead Gang” so Islanders can really see who holds us back."

Well I've heard from a number of you that my posting below on "Members Galore" was really taking a shot at IRAC and with that I've been accused of breaking my 2011 resolution... well here's my response to that!

"No resolution broken here... normally I'd be down in the IRAC hearings telling them what a bunch of Dickheads they are but like I said I'm being nice to them during my two week New Year’s resolution reprieve... if you go on a diet as a resolution it doesn't mean you stop eating food! Everything in moderation for the next few days then I’ll step it up with those Hacks..."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Members galore... something smells!

What a joke... the Province hire trained professionals to approve permits in accordance with the Planning Act but whenever the project appears in someone's backyard all the whiners and members of the "Don't Get Ahead Gang' rear their heads... and now it seems all these crazies are appealing projects after they are built and ready to start up... never mind the financial impact of the entrepreneur who’s already invested their time, money and energy trying to develop a business that provides jobs, investment and a tax base to our Community... then a bunch of NIMBYS show up looking for loopholes to stop everything... it's a wonder anything ever gets done here on PEI especially when these crazies can run "down" to IRAC's Kangaroo Court and sit in front of overpaid and undertrained Commissioners, who wouldn't the first thing about the realities of the business enterprises that keep our Island economy going... and the audacity of a retired farmer leading the cause... what a joke! I'm nominating Alistair MacIntosh as a member of "The Don't Get Ahead Gang"... and it wouldn’t surprise me if Captain Allan Rankin’s wife was one of the persons signing the petition! Something smells and it's not the new mink farm....
IRAC to rule on mink farm appeal
Published on January 5th, 2011
The Guardian
A new mink farm in Springton was built to keep the smell down and animals in, says one of the farm’s owners.
Wade Peconi and his business partner Ryan MacPhee appeared at the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission Wednesday in defense of their farm after an area resident appealed their building permit.
Peconi was responding to concerns from local residents who worried about the potential smell from the farm’s mink manure.
But Peconi, who owns another mink farm in a different location, told the commissioners he lives next to it and also owns a dead livestock facility across the road, which is where any smell was coming from.
“I don’t have an odour issue,” he said.
Allistair MacIntosh launched the appeal on behalf of Stanchel and Springton residents who were opposed to the new mink farm, including 104 people who signed a petition that was sent to Environment, Energy and Forestry Minster Richard Brown.
“So basically this told me and a lot of other people that this wasn’t wanted,” MacIntosh said.
During his opening remarks MacIntosh read e-mails from one resident who raised birds and worried mink would get loose and kill them, while another was concerned about the loss of property value, the smell and water contamination.
Peconi told the commission the farm is state-of-the-art with a concrete floor and trough system under the cages so manure can be collected in tanks for daily disposal.
Once the farm is up and running it will house 2,000 breeding females from December to March at which point the mink will breed and produce between three to six young that will eventually be gassed and shipped to Nova Scotia for processing.
The farm buildings also have steel walls buried into the ground and backfilled, which means that a mink would have to escape from its cage and run out the door when someone was entering or exiting the building in order for it to get loose and every aspect of construction exceeds industry standards, Peconi said.
“We’ve taken initiative for ourselves to make it better.”
The commission also heard from Canadian Mink Breeders Association president Peter Peters who is supplying the farm with its mink and praised the quality of the facility.
“This is the most modern type of farm in North America,” he said.
Provincial property development officer Lou-Anne Wolfe appeared as a witness for the Finance and Municipal Affairs Department, which issued the building permit, and said the farm exceeded setback regulations from the road and a nearby stream with all Planning Act regulations followed.
“We’re well within all of the regulations,” she said.
But when it came to the petition, Wolfe said it had no bearing on whether or not a building permit was issued because the farm is in an unincorporated area and met the guidelines of the Planning Act.
“I did what I had to do in the framework I had to work with,” she said.
Environment, Energy and Forestry environmental assessment officer Jay Carr also testified that he received about 25 to 30 phone calls and a few e-mails from area residents who were concerned about the new farm, which he tried to dispel as unfounded.
“The very bulk of their concerns were odour related and the release of animals,” he said.
MacPhee told the commission that when he decided to open the mink farm he wasn’t planning to go in and ruin the community.
“It’s a tough way to start in the community and I never intended this,” he said.
The hearing wrapped up Wednesday afternoon with no date set for release of a ruling.