May 2012

Contents

  1. 1 May 31, 2012
    1. 1.1 Government spending cash we don't have -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  2. 2 May 25, 2012
    1. 2.1 The public deserves more input -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  3. 3 May 24, 2012
    1. 3.1 Ghiz government resembles iceberg -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  4. 4 May 19, 2012
    1. 4.1 Money exists, priorities wrong -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 4.2 Islanders need to keep an open mind -- Dissenting Letter to the Editor in The Guardian
  5. 5 May 18, 2012
    1. 5.1 Keep the owls, lose the new road -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  6. 6 May 17, 2012
    1. 6.1 Word of day is ‘betrayed’ -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  7. 7 May 16, 2012
    1. 7.1 There has to be a better way -- The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor
    2. 7.2 Vessey playing with statistics -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  8. 8 May 15, 2012
    1. 8.1 Plan B process poor planning -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  9. 9 May 14, 2012
    1. 9.1 Minister Vessey's addresses public misconceptions about Plan B -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian
  10. 10 May 12, 2012
    1. 10.1 Where are our priorities? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  11. 11 May 9, 2012
    1. 11.1 Show me the numbers -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  12. 12 May 7, 2012
    1. 12.1 Plan B would be an environmental disaster -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian
  13. 13 May 5, 2012
    1. 13.1 Was plan B really plan A? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 13.2 I'm disgusted with our politicians -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  14. 14 May 4, 2012
    1. 14.1 Where is democracy on this issue? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  15. 15 May 3, 2012
    1. 15.1 Government out of touch -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 15.2 Government ignoring electorate -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  16. 16 May 2, 2012
    1. 16.1 You know you're in trouble Mr. Ghiz when they start laughing at you -- The Eastern Graphic Commentary
  17. 17 May 1, 2012
    1. 17.1 Listen to reason and stop plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  18. 18 May 2012
    1. 18.1 Earth Day 

May 31, 2012

Government spending cash we don't have -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I wish to add my voice to the growing opposition to the foolhardy plan B at the Trans-Canada Highway near Bonshaw. I, for one, have always quite enjoyed that stretch for the winding roads and scenic vistas. I recently walked the proposed route and could not believe that the government could be so thoughtless.

This plan B must have been created by the bureaucrats who gave us the hills in Borden (another case of ‘free' federal money), forgot to hold the mortgage on the OCI plant, secretly gave us the HST, handed out untendered tourism contracts, and so forth. Besides going through pristine streams, of which there are very few left, part of the road goes directly through running springs. If the average person decided to dig in that area, they would be in court.
The kicker is that in a time of restraints and cutting (not MLAs gold-plated pensions, though) we are spending money we don't have to replace a road that could be reworked to accommodate safety concerns. If this plan goes ahead, we will have two stretches of road to upkeep, when we can't afford to look after one. P.E.I. pays over $109 million per year just for interest on the debt. That is more than $300,000 a day, and growing.
One final message to my MLA Wes Sheridan. In his former life he worked at the Credit Union and set up a line of credit for me. The onus was on me, and me alone, to pay the loan back. At no time did he ask if my children and grandchildren would be able to repay my loan for me. But now in government, that is exactly what he is doing. Spending money we don't have, for something we don't need, and expecting our kids and grandkids to come good for it. Stop Plan B.

Chris Wall, New Annan

May 25, 2012

The public deserves more input -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

It is hard to read The Guardian lately and not find an article or opinion on what the provincial government is doing that is upsetting Islanders. Decisions are being made by people who are supposed to be representing the best interests of all Islanders, yet the best interests or voices of Islanders are not even being considered or listened to. We are, for the most part, being patronized and ignored.

The word that comes up over and over again to describe the Liberal government is ‘arrogant’. I am thinking it is because there is absolutely no accountability or repercussions for poor job performance. The attitude of this government seems to be “well, you’ll have to wait three more years and then you can vote again.” Can we really afford to wait three more years?

They are trying to keep the public from having any say about any decisions being made. The members of government need to be held accountable for the decisions they are making. Why are we letting this government treat Islanders with a blatant disrespect and then face no repercussions at all?

There are Islanders protesting these decisions from the HST, dialysis in rural communities, to the Bonshaw Highway (myself included) but, at the end of the day, it seems the premier has no intention of listening to these people who are fighting for a right to be heard.

The public needs to be able to have input or we are always going to be treated as if our opinions don’t even matter and we have no right to question these decisions.

A lot of Islanders are feeling helpless as though there is nothing they can do, except sign a petition that will just get ignored.

It is a terrible feeling to have no say in your own future. The present system is seriously flawed and Islanders must come together and change it. I’m not exactly sure how we can put politics back into the hands of Islanders, but we can’t afford to stand by and watch our money being wasted by people who are not looking out for our best interests. Maybe it’s time we make history and change things up around here.

Jennifer Farmer, Stratford

May 24, 2012

Ghiz government resembles iceberg -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I frequently think the Ghiz government resembles an iceberg. Typically, only one-ninth of the iceberg is above the water line, is opaque in nature and drifts aimlessly.

Why am I so critical? Allow me to count the ways.

The Trans-Canada re-alignment plan B was the only real plan the Ghiz government had from the outset. There was no serious consultation with the public. The overall costs will be in excess of $25 million when the construction costs, land purchase prices, legal fees and other incidentals are totalled. It seems the Ghiz government will spend any amount of provincial money to access federal dollars. We will be spending about $17 million just to access the $8 million from the federal government. Great economics.

The new Spring Park School in Charlottetown is presently under construction and will be 50 per cent larger than the previous structure. This is happening when school enrolment is static at best. It appears our provincial Department of Education decision-makers are convinced that buildings are the sole or key ingredient in obtaining a solid highly recognized education. Yet the department doesn't seem capable in establishing a proper common testing protocol that is able to rate students' progress and teachers' overall effectiveness. Great planning.

The recent budget tabled in the P.E.I. legislature made no mention of dealing with the lucrative civil servants' pension plan, which is presently out of control and costs us a small fortune annually for ‘topping up' purposes. Great financial management.

The Ghiz government continues to reject requests from the Opposition to allow deputy ministers to testify before an appropriate house committee. Great open and transparent government.

With the HST to be put in place in April 2013, numerous concerns have been expressed with Mr. Ghiz responding that he will hold talks with the people. Why? The provincial government has already indicated that the deal is done and everything is in place.

Let's be very clear, the HST will raise overall taxes, certainly not reduce them. We will then be in the unenviable position of being the second highest taxed province in Canada.

In the meantime, the Ghiz iceberg continues to drift aimlessly.

John Muise, Charlottetown

May 19, 2012

Money exists, priorities wrong -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I find it truly striking that while the government is absolutely intent on pushing through the new Plan B highway rather than fixing the existing road like they did with Route 2 a few years ago, they find it impossible to come up with a few extra dollars to keep open two dialysis clinics (certainly a life-and-death choice), or to keep social workers and road workers employed.

Now they say they can't even find an extra $4 million to give Souris the new school they have been promising for years. Wouldn't it make sense to give some or all of the Plan B money to these other, much more worthy and pressing causes?

They've already shown us how creative they can be with their budget; why not put that creativity to use to achieve something worthwhile? Barring that, I propose that we use some of the large amounts of cash that will soon be rolling in from the HST to mint a shiny new medal for Mr. Ghiz. We can call it the "George W. Bush Recognition for Political Excellence in Annoying As Many People As Possible in a Short Amount of Time."

We'll present it in a special ceremony at our next protest at Province House, to which the residents of Souris are extended a special welcome. I can promise that there will be some toe-tapping music and an excellent turnout, just like last time.

Kathryn Sawyer, Clyde River

Islanders need to keep an open mind -- Dissenting Letter to the Editor in The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2012-05-19/article-2983118/Islanders-need-to-open-minds/1

May 18, 2012

Keep the owls, lose the new road -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

A rare sighting prompts me to question the wisdom of altering the scenic, natural environment known as Strathgartney.

A recent walk through the tranquil setting provided an opportunity to spot something one rarely gets to see, an owl.

Although we can all agree that road safety is a concern, it is the speed at which a familiar stretch of highway was suddenly deemed a priority for realignment that leaves many of us skeptical as to the government's true motives.

If the public's safety is first and foremost in the minds of officials, locals could easily point out dangerous areas in their immediate surroundings that are truly hazardous.

If, as many suspect, the prime concerns are cost-efficiency and shipping expediency of goods, then the decision-makers should just say so rather than cloaking the issue to bypass public resistance.

Finally, I would like to quote from two studies that offer relevant data:

The first is entitled 'A Driving Concern' which the CBC posted online in November 2011. It lists the factors that caused highway deaths on P.E.I. from 2007 to 2011.

The top three were impaired driving, seatbelt use and speeding.

The second is the 'Prince Edward Island Nocturnal Owl Survey 2001 Annual Report' (also found online), which was a joint initiative established by the P.E.I. Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment and Birds Studies Canada to "develop and implement a long-term owl monitoring program in P.E.I."

The report's introduction states that "Owls are excellent indicators of environmental health, as they are high on the food chain and are thus vulnerable to many environmental disturbances such as toxic chemicals and habitat loss (Takats et al. 2001). Some owls have specialized habitat requirements, such as the Barred Owl that depends upon large diameter (mostly hardwood) trees with cavities for nesting."

In conclusion, it would be wise for all of us to ease up on the gas pedal and for officials to proceed slowly with the decision-making process in order to avoid irreversible consequences.

Giselle Déziel, Cornwall

May 17, 2012

Word of day is ‘betrayed’ -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The word for the day is betrayed. Let me explain.

The implementation of HST will hurt “ordinary Islanders” in spite of what Wes Sheridan says. Wealthier earners won't feel it much, middle-income earners will take a hit but the poorest of us will really feel it. An increased tax on electricity, gas, clothes, shoes, school supplies and dying only hurts the lowest- income Islanders. No rebate can possibly compensate for the day-to-day increase. And where was the public consultation on this important issue? Betrayed.

Three per cent budget cuts in all departments seems not to have affected the people at the top. If frontline workers have to double up jobs and take on extra duties should we not expect the same from management? Betrayed.

Islandwide transit has been cut but this government did nothing to promote it. Government workers who cram Route 2 in rush hour should have been filling these buses. Betrayed. CAP sites are being closed yet where is the Islandwide broadband that the Liberals promised. Betrayed.

Islanders on dialysis. Betrayed.

Ask the people in Souris and Montague how they feel about the Department of Education or Department of Health. Betrayed.

And Plan B speaks volumes about this government's indifference to Islanders. Hills in Borden and patronage appointments already speak to government waste. But Robert Vessey's statement that two per cent of habitat destruction is acceptable and within government guidelines is frightening. Two per cent destruction of old growth forest is not acceptable in this day and age and I wonder how he will explain that to his grandchildren? Betrayed.

The list continues to grow. MLAs need to quit toeing the party line and start representing the people that elected them. Then and only then will Islanders be well served by their politicians.

Islanders of all political stripes should make their outrage known. Contact your MLA and let them know how you feel. Pick a word of the day and let government know that we have all had enough.

Wendy Budgeon, Charlottetown

May 16, 2012

There has to be a better way -- The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor

I want to express my displeasure at what I have heard and read about Plan B for the Trans-Canada Highway in Bonshaw, PEI. I have always loved the environment and have thought it should be protected as much as possible. From what I have seen, there is no reason for Plan B that would warrant the destruction of so much of our beloved Island’s natural beauty. I realize there is an argument for safety reasons being behind the proposal, but to be honest, I don’t think the area warrants such a drastic change to make the highway safer.

I have driven numerous times from Charlottetown to Borden-Carleton and I know the stretch of highway well that is said to be unsafe. I think some more investigation needs to happen in order to determine the safety of this stretch of road and what can be done to improve it without such a high cost. That stretch of highway has quite a few curves in it, but if you are going the speed limit and driving carefully, there is little to no reason to be concerned for safety. I know some things could be done to increase safety at this location, but I think destroying 76 acres of forest and farmland to do so is very extreme.

Why not look into setting up guardrails and pruning some trees (even cutting some down) to increase visibility around the turns? That would make the stretch safer and yet not cause the destruction of so much wildlife and greenery. I do not normally advocate cutting down trees but when it’s the choice of cutting down 50 trees to save 200, I think it’s a good compromise. There are other alternatives that I’m sure haven’t even been looked at yet that would increase safety but at much less of a cost. If we could all work together to find a better solution, I’m sure one could be found.

I ask Mr. Ghiz to listen to the people in his district and all over PEI when we say we do not want this plan to go through. Is it really worth $12 million and the loss of 76 acres of farmland and forest to marginally increase safety and shave 12 seconds off of the journey between Charlottetown and Summerside? That is $1 million and a little over six acres per one second. I have heard some people say it is worth it if even one life is saved. However, I do not think it’s worth it because there are more cost effective and less invasive ways to solve this safety issue and I am not alone. I ask you to please not support Plan B and to be a voice for the people of PEI who are asking to have this proposal thrown out.

Amalia Peripoli, Resident of District 13, Charlottetown

Vessey playing with statistics -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I am writing in reference to Minister Vessey's piece in Monday's Guardian (Realigning a highway: addressing public misconceptions).

“Lies, damn lies, and statistics,” a phrase popularized by Mark Twain came to mind. This phrase describes the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments.

We keep hearing the same stats on the safety of the present road, and here is the minister trotting them out again: “There have been 56 per cent more accidents on this stretch of road.”

Where are the statistics on the rest of the road? It is a very old trick to release only the statistics, which support your side of the argument.

Stop telling half the story Mr. Vessey. Islanders are not so easily fooled.

Jennifer Shields, Peter’s Road, Elmwood

May 15, 2012

Plan B process poor planning -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I appreciate that it is probably a challenge to manage wisely and fairly the finances of a have-not province. I therefore applaud our leaders who try to make the best decisions for our province.

I suspect that P.E.I.’s desperate financial conditions and, most likely, lobbying from interest groups rather than safety concerns, were the overriding factors in government’s negotiations with Ottawa on the Trans- Canada in the Bonshaw/Churchill area. In order to strike a deal to keep our economy afloat government chose to trade off our precious assets and put up vast sums of money that we can’t afford.

The latest and supposedly unassailable argument for Plan B comes from a member of the engineering community. He implies that the Trans-Canada must adhere to a standard code.

Well and good to adhere to codes if they do not exact unreasonable demands. But does the Trans-Canada in gentle P.E.I. have to meet the same standards as the Trans-Canada, say in Ontario, for example? Is the Trans-Canada code a “one size fits all” regardless of the location or terrain. Laws can be flexible when circumstances demand. So “it’s the law” argument along with the safety argument may be only another red herring.

And what about this Atlantic Gateway? A clear explanation of what is involved in signing on to it is in order. It seems that it is customary for governments and politicians to cultivate cozy relationships with the road building industry for any number of reasons. Initiatives more creative and appropriate than extravagant and unnecessary highway realignment should have priority in the expenditure of tax dollars.

My suggestion is that our government scrap Plan B, devise sensible and affordable plans for our province, and remind Ottawa that we expect that the resources of the country will be shared in such a way that each province will be able to enjoy a basic standard of living — even beyond basic — without trading off assets that are of particular value to us.

Jenny McQuaid, Charlottetown

May 14, 2012

Minister Vessey's addresses public misconceptions about Plan B -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2012-05-14/article-2977292/Realigning-a-highway%3A-addressing-public-misconceptions/1

May 12, 2012

Where are our priorities? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Presently, the province of Prince Edward Island is in less than stellar shape. The Cradle of Confederation (with the population of a small city in Ontario) is $2 billion in debt, is experiencing a rapid decline of our three main traditional industries - agriculture, fishing and tourism - and is having to deal with skyrocketing health costs and high rates of unemployment, which in turn equals more people leaving the Island, thus decreasing the province's already shrinking tax base.

But not to worry. Our great leader is more concerned about spending close to $20 million to ‘fix' a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway than he is about fixing the serious issues his government has been entrusted to do by the citizens of Prince Edward Island.

In a recent story that ran in The Guardian, a trucker who has travelled that particular section of the Trans-Canada Highway being tagged for reconstruction stated that it is indeed dangerous and should at all costs (money, the environment) be fixed. Well, I don't know if any of these truckers have journeyed through the Kicking Horse Pass between Alberta and British Columbia or even the winding highways of Northern Ontario, but if they did, they would soon learn that these particular sections of road are much more dangerous than any of the gentle hills of P.E.I.

There are much more dire issues facing Canada's smallest province at the present time and the government should make them its first priority instead of spending limited funds frivolously and expropriating citizens' hard- earned property. Let's have a referendum on this issue. What Islanders should be asking Robert Ghiz right now is "What are your priorities, Mr. Premier?"

Chris McGarry, Belfast

May 9, 2012

Show me the numbers -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

On Thursday, April 26, 2012, I exercised my democratic right as a Canadian citizen by attending the rally outside Province House in Charlottetown to stop ‘plan B', the Atlantic Gateway highway proposal in Bonshaw-New Haven.

I want to thank the organizer and all the participants on a job well done. I have driven that stretch of highway for 10 years to work and back, and do not consider it a safety hazard. We do not need or want a new road. As far as the Atlantic Gateway funding goes, the ‘use it or lose it' mind set is preposterous. Nothing in life is free. Our federal finance minister has gone on public record informing us that interest rates are going up, and warning us to curtail our debt. I do not want my federal and provincial taxes paying for something we don't need.

As for the safety issue, ‘saying it is so does not make it so'. I have spent my entire working life in an academic environment where a statement must be supported by the facts. Show me the numbers! I want to see the data that led to the conclusion that this particular stretch of highway is responsible for 56 per cent more collisions than any other section of the Trans-Canada Highway in P.E.I.

During question period, after the April 26th rally, Premier Ghiz responded to a series of questions from the Opposition about the highway development plan, alluding to the convoluted and underhanded way plan B materialized. "I'm flattered that if that was possible, Madame Speaker, they are giving me a lot more credit for being smarter than I actually am."

It has nothing to do with intelligence. It is simply an emulation of a very tired political rhetoric, modeled so well by the Harper government, specifically to deny and act surprised. We are paying attention. This was my first rally. It will most definitely not be my last.

Nancy Ingalls, New Glasgow

May 7, 2012

Plan B would be an environmental disaster -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian

By Tony Reddin 

I'm writing to express the serious concerns of Sierra Club Canada regarding the proposed Plan B Trans-Canada Highway project. 

For us, the biggest tragedy in this scheme is the destruction of those beautiful natural areas on both sides of the Peter's Road in Churchill. Those are special places that should be protected and given special status, not destroyed. 

Last January, I wrote about that to Premier Ghiz, and Transportation Minister Vessey wrote back to me: "The Department is committed to a full environmental assessment process and is planning reforestation projects to help offset any loss of woodland." 

I, in turn, wrote back to Minister Vessey, "Many of those hemlock and other trees are well over 200 years old, and reforestation cannot replace a unique ecosystem like that one, nor can it replace the rest of the beautiful fields and woodlands in the path of Plan B." That environmental assessment will never protect those beautiful ravines, those old-growth hemlock, pine, maple and birch forests; those wetlands and many brooks and streams. They all lie in the path of the proposed highway. 

The minister also wrote that "The top priority of this department is the safety of Island drivers." 

But the plan B highway project will only make travelling faster, not safer. The existing Trans-Canada can be made safer right away by installing warning signs to warn motorists of upcoming curves, and of the need for increased caution in poor weather conditions. There should be signs to give warning of the residential areas in Bonshaw and New Haven. There should also be improvements to intersections on this stretch of the highway, and reduction to the speed limit in Bonshaw back to 60 km/h as it was not too long ago. Those actions will make travelling safer. 

If Minister Vessey is determined to get that Gateway funding, he should join me in asking the Federal Minister of Transport, Denis Lebel, to let P.E.I. use Gateway to fix the intersections on the Charlottetown Bypass, with overpasses or roundabouts. That would provide more efficient travel for trucks, and all other vehicles, and that would improve safety on that part of the Trans-Canada Highway. In fixing those bypass intersections, there would be no destruction of the countryside, no residents would be forced to leave their homes, and there would be no waste of taxpayers' money, or additional highway needing to be maintained into the future. 

Or, even better, perhaps the federal government would be willing to re-designate that $8 million to help pay for the desperately needed electrical transmission cables across the Northumberland Strait. Has that been considered or discussed? 

Unfortunately, all I received from Minister Vessey this time was a form letter, the same one everyone else has been getting. Maybe it's time to send a delegation in to see the premier, singing: "Quit the Road, Ghiz, or you won't be in power no more no more no more no more...." 

Tony Reddin is a member of the national board of Sierra Club Canada.

May 5, 2012

Was plan B really plan A? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

After the initial flurry of letters to the editor and demonstrations against the plan B highway, project, the government is probably hoping that protests will soon die down and that plans can go ahead unimpeded. Who can argue against highway safety, after all?

Perhaps the planners were inspired (or misguided) by the words of Isaiah (Ch. 40, vs.3 and 4): "...make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain."

No doubt this biblical passage is meant in a different context, though. In any case, I'd like to add a few more thoughts on this very controversial subject. Trumping landowners' rights, filling in deep ravines, destruction of old growth trees and wetlands, and a permanent scar imposed on one of the Island's most beautiful vistas, all necessary to provide a new and safer roadway. Well, that's just the price of "progress" I guess.

Those opposed are dismissed as people with fixed interests, would-be environmentalists and "know nothings". But one thing we do know is that there is always a different case to be made on such a monumental, destructive and costly undertaking. Perfectly valid alternatives should be seriously considered and not rejected out of hand.

What seems a bit devious about this whole process is that ‘plan B' was likely ‘plan A' in the first place. The government should have known that the original plan through Strathgartney park would have met with public outcry. Therefore, plan B was likely already in their ‘back pocket'. To cancel or seriously alter plan B would mean a loss of face for the government, so it's not likely to happen. Of course, an environmental assessment will have to be done first but whatever the outcome, it's highly unlikely that it will put the brakes on this government juggernaut. As for the cost, do you really think that this project will come in on budget? Guess who would be paying for the inevitable cost overruns? I rest my case.

David MacCallum, Charlottetown

I'm disgusted with our politicians -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I have been listening to and reading the news with pure disgust towards our politicians, both federally and provincially. Both budgets have been slashing everything or increasing fees. Of course, never from the top, never their own wages or jobs or exorbitant pensions. Always on the backs of the people who put them there.

We live in a country that sent men and women to fight wars against tyranny and dictatorship. Yet here at home we are living under the same kind of dictatorship, on P.E.I. and also in Ottawa. Policies are made and enacted without any consultation or questions from the people who actually elected them to govern.

Why is it that we Canadians allow these politicians to walk over us without much protest? I personally applaud those who are fighting the plan B Trans-Canada and even the students in Quebec for trying to cause change.

Shake your heads, folks. Where is the sense spending $30 million on a short span of road when I know of one school, and probably several others, that have been told their teaching positions are to be decreased in the fall while the enrolment is up. A fact I didn't know until now is that the student-teacher ratio is not strictly the number of students to the number of teachers. It is actually the number of students to the number of teachers, janitors, secretaries, board workers and any other workers in the education system. This is misleading to a parent who hears the ratio is low and yet their child is going into a class of 30 pupils.

Parents need to speak up. Why are we tampering with our children's education to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a road?

These budgets are supposed to get us out of this big deficit, which both governments spent us into, and get the economy going. Can anyone tell me, on a fixed income, how to spend more money when all my disposable income will be gone on extra taxes on things like electricity and gas for the car? I sure won't be buying anything new.

Susan Dunphy, Greenvale

May 4, 2012

Where is democracy on this issue? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I am writing to open discussion on investigating the process used to arrive at a decision to enlarge the road between New Haven and Bonshaw by forced purchasing of our farmland and invading our natural habitat.

My first concern is ‘process'. When the option of the Strathgartney route was validly rejected based on historic concerns, government recognized the political capital lost and went back to the drawing board. Instead of working with Islanders, an autocratic approach was used and the plan B route was dictated. Why has democracy fallen by the way? When have the opinions of the public been valued so slightly?

If we look at trends and attitudes of this administration we can readily draw the parallel with the HST implementation. At the expense of the poorer population among us, this tax is being implemented top down with only the facade of window dressing as to how this tax will gouge those on fixed incomes.

With the budget cutbacks announced recently, we, as a population, were advised we would have to make do with less. Is the stimulus to build this highway derived from traffic necessity or is there a political debt to be paid to party cronies? We have cut dozens of necessary programs; we have not enlarged on needed social programming such as addiction treatment for our youth; yet we are ready to fund this highway project. The need for this project has not been demonstrated to, or requested by, the public. We are told funding is a problem for the province and that the federal government will kick in $8 million (that should just about pay for the surveying).

We should question whether this government has the ability to manage our coffers, much less the foresight to envision the long-term repercussions of such a mega-project, on all facets of our life, such as agriculture and tourism industries. No projections have been made on a long-term budgetary dollar that will arbitrarily be assigned to this project over the years versus dollars needed to sustain our aging population. We all know how many times the North River Bridge had to be built. Doesn't the average taxpayer have any say?

Mike Bernard, Bonshaw

May 3, 2012

Government out of touch -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I think that the provincial government's plan that declassified and laid-off hundreds of seasonal workers in the Transportation department and other departments was coldhearted, insulting, and disrespectful to these seasonal workers and to all Islanders.

These people are our friends and neighbours, relatives, and fellow Islanders. We should all be concerned about this attitude.

It certainly seems to be the worst provincial government I've seen. It seems like this government can mismanage Island taxpayers' money and make us pay for their mistakes.

It also makes me wonder if they are really serious about getting the debt down when they are able to spend more than $8 million to run a highway through a park. I think most Islanders don't even want money like this spent in a time of government restraint and laying off hundreds of seasonal workers at the same time.

I also wonder where is the democracy in the provincial government bringing in the HST? It seems we are going to be ‘educated' instead of having a vote on it and get it even if most Islanders did find it unpopular.

The present government certainly seems to be out of touch with ordinary and rural Islanders and maybe we all should be more concerned about it.

Maybe they should have fired themselves instead of the seasonal workers that were not responsible for this massive debt mismanagement.

Maybe when the next provincial election rolls around ordinary Islanders will be smart enough to remember these things.

Lloyd W. Pickering, Sea View

Government ignoring electorate -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The Ghiz government would have us believe that HST is good for Islanders. It may reduce the deficit and it may give ‘an edge' to some businesses, but it does nothing for average or low-income, struggling Islanders. It certainly doesn't help in poverty eradication; an issue that has been ignored since pre-election.

The shock to most Islanders on learning of the HST comes from the arrogance and insensitivity displayed by the present regime. Premier Ghiz and Minister Sheridan talk of openness and transparency with taxpayers when the reality is very different. This government has failed miserably in keeping Islanders informed as well as allowing public input. What transparency is there in refusing to answer legitimate questions in the house about their decisions? Instead of facts and truths, responses are full of rhetoric and ridicule. Shouldn't we know the real stories of PNP, HST, or $8 million in untendered tourism grants?

The Liberal government will also have us believe that the recently announced budget cuts will not affect services to Islanders. Many Islanders feel that the Ghiz government considers piling dirt in Borden and building an unwanted and unneeded road through Bonshaw far more important than helping Island seniors and families who are struggling.

If the premier and his caucus can justify these decisions and cutbacks, Islanders will listen. However, if we see government layoffs at the front lines and decreased funding to essential services while still hiring highly paid directors, taxpayers deserve an explanation.

How naive do these MLAs think Islanders are if we believe that cuts to social programs and workers will not affect families and seniors? Have they made any cutbacks to the large number of government senior staff or the generous (and costly) benefits many of them receive?

The decrease in Liberal majority and the newly elected MLAs have not made this government more accountable. Instead, it appears that this government prefers to toe the party line and ignore the concerns of the electors or defend the real principles of a fair government.

Judy Barrett, Charlottetown 

May 2, 2012

You know you're in trouble Mr. Ghiz when they start laughing at you -- The Eastern Graphic Commentary

Jack MacAndrew covers the Stop Highway Plan B Rally, and exposes the real issues.

http://peicanada.com/view_here_jack_macandrew/columns_opinions/you_know_you%E2%80%99re_trouble_mr_ghiz_when_they_start_laughing_y

May 1, 2012

Listen to reason and stop plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The Ghiz government is attempting to use safety concerns to spoil a large portion of our beautiful Island in order to satisfy requirements for funding from Harper's federal Conservative government.

I am proud of my fellow Islanders who showed up at Province House to demonstrate their democratic right to protest this proposed destructive action against our jewel of a province.

We have just returned from a vacation in Portugal, which although suffering from the Euro crisis maintains excellent infrastructure. Although much larger than P.E.I., there is a parallel in that tourism is essential to both economies. As visitors, we especially took note of ways in which highway safety was optimized during our extensive travel throughout the county.

Portugal does have large autoroutes connecting major centres, but as tourists and visitors we most frequently used secondary roads in order to take in the breathtaking, scenery and to appreciate the cultural enjoyment of frequently driving through picturesque small towns and villages.

We noted that the approach to every town or village was preceded by a small roundabout or intersection and signs indicating that the speed limit was reduced to 50 km/h. Then we would approach a signal light, which must have been triggered automatically, so that we would come to a brief complete stop. We realized that this brought our attention to highway safety and appreciated this nudge out of "highway road driving mode". We also noted the excellent maintenance and quality of these secondary roads (keeping in mind that they don't have frost heave in Portugal as we do in P.E.I.).

The Ghiz government insists that highway safety is the driving force behind plan B. They have their heads in the sand (blindfolds on their eyes, cotton in their ears) if they truly believe that plan B is the only way to improve highway safety on this beautiful, picturesque stretch of highway. Please, Premier Ghiz, listen to reason and to Islanders and stop plan B.

Cathy Grant and Dr. Paul Price, Meadowbank

May 2012

Earth Day 

By John Sylvester
I decided to celebrate Earth Day on Sunday by taking a walk in our beautiful Prince Edward Island countryside. I spent a pleasant afternoon ambling over a section of the provincial government’s proposed Plan B Trans-Canada highway route near Churchill. As I walked along, with strains of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” going round in my head, a number of thoughts came to mind.
The first thing I noticed is that it’s going to take one heck of a lot of shale to fill the four ravines that the proposed highway will cross. I wonder where all that shale will come from? Too bad about the towering hemlocks and pines that will have to be cut down. I guess no one will be fishing in those streams for a while either.
I also puzzled over the way this proposed plan B was sprung on the public. If I recall correctly, there were three proposals originally put forward by the government. The Strathgartney option caused all the fuss, and rightly so, but I don’t recall this Plan B being mentioned. I can be naive in these matters, but isn’t an “open and transparent process” supposed to put all the options on the table so the public can express their concerns to government and an informed decision made? I’m old enough to remember Robert Ghiz’s father, Joe, holding a plebiscite to decide whether or not PEI should have a ”fixed link.” A real democratic gesture I thought at the time. I guess the lesson was lost on young Robert. We’re now being told this Plan B is a “done deal. ” Gosh, that doesn’t seem very fair, transparent, or democratic. 
Minister of Transportation, Robert Vessey, tells us that “these sections of the Trans-Canada Highway need to be re-aligned to improve safety and efficiency not only for commercial vehicles, but for regular passenger vehicles and local residents.” Highway safety is a concern for sure. But again, I’m puzzled. An RCMP officer reported in the Guardian (Nov 12, 2011) that, “A lot of ours (traffic fatalities) are caused by alcohol," and goes on to add, “What's also troubling, is that much of the impaired driving seems to stem from the province's rural areas.” But didn’t the provincial government just propose in the spring budget a whole bunch of new liquor outlets for rural areas? I would think that might lead to more drunk driving. Maybe the drunk drivers will drive more safely on the Trans-Canada highway once it’s re-aligned and they don’t have so many bothersome curves to negotiate? 
And speaking of addictions, I’m also concerned about our provincial government’s addiction to other people’s money. This $8M in federal funds just seems to be burning a hole in their pocket. Their craving is distorting their judgement. After all, if you believe it’s a good deal to spend $12 million dollars (“money we don’t got” as Stompin’ Tom would say) to get $8 million, just to straighten a couple of highway curves, you have a serious problem. Maybe it’s time our provincial cabinet officials went for counseling? 
Well, those are just a few of my thoughts. A belated Happy Earth Day everyone. “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone...” 
John Sylvester, Greenvale
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