September 2012

Contents

  1. 1 September 29, 2012
    1. 1.1 When people won't speak out -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 1.2 It is Not Too Late to Reverse Plan -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 1.3 Two letters in favour of Plan B -- The Guardian Letters to the Editor online
  2. 2 September 28, 2012
    1. 2.1 Election slogans are meaningless -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 2.2 Shale pit and environmental assessment -- CBC Compass TV News
    3. 2.3 Protesters voice displeasure with Plan B -- CBC Website
    4. 2.4 Privacy commissioner looking at Plan B permits -- The Guardian online
  3. 3 September 27, 2012
    1. 3.1 There are other options -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 3.2 Highway environmental process slammed by Tories -- CBC website
    3. 3.3 Scrap Plan B: Crane -- The Guardian online
    4. 3.4 Cancelling ‘Plan B' would show strength -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  4. 4 September 26, 2012
    1. 4.1 This is what led to their downfall -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 4.2 Is this the best they can do? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 4.3 ‘Plan B' excessive in every regard -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 4.4 Environmental assessment and shale pit irregularities -- CBC Compass TV news
    5. 4.5 Trans-Canada decision won't be rushed: minister -- CBC Website
    6. 4.6 Money would go a long way to help Islanders -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  5. 5 September 25, 2012
    1. 5.1 We don’t need a Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 5.2 The oldest reason in the world -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 5.3 We can stop Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  6. 6 September 24, 2012
    1. 6.1 A few words on 'fact' and 'opinion' -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian
  7. 7 September 21, 2012
    1. 7.1 Environmentalists Jackie Waddell and Gary Schneider talk about Plan B -- CBC Compass TV news (@4:23)
  8. 8 September 20, 2012
    1. 8.1 Old growth forests crucial home for some species -- suveyoronline
  9. 9 September 19, 2012
    1. 9.1 Government, are you listening? -- The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor
    2. 9.2 Will Ghiz and Gang follow suit? -- The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor
    3. 9.3 Slowing down would help -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  10. 10 September 17, 2012
    1. 10.1 Why Plan B shouldn’t proceed -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian
    2. 10.2 Plan B highway a stupid idea -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  11. 11 September 15, 2012
    1. 11.1 Our questions about Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  12. 12 September 14, 2012
    1. 12.1 Spending millions where it's not needed -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 12.2 Please listen to the people -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 12.3 Government digging a deeper hole -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 12.4 The Political Panel briefly discusses Plan B -- CBC Radio Island Morning
  13. 13 September 13, 2012
    1. 13.1 Interviews with Peter Bevan-Baker of Hampton and Greg Wilson with the Environment Department -- CBC Compass TV news
    2. 13.2 More than 250 question province on Plan B -- CBC Website
    3. 13.3 Highway protest taking bold new step -- The Guardian online
    4. 13.4 Article on the Direct Action meeting
    5. 13.5 Protest lessons attract 100 over highway plan -- CBC Website
  14. 14 September 12, 2012
    1. 14.1 Plan B Protest - Wilma van der Veen -- CBC Island Morning radio
    2. 14.2 Reacting to dollars, not sense -- Commentary in The Eastern Graphic
    3. 14.3 Put people, environment first -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  15. 15 September 10, 2012
    1. 15.1 A Dangerous Stretch of Road -- CBC Island Morning Broadcast
    2. 15.2 DeSable Trans-Canada as dangerous as reroute section -- CBC Website
  16. 16 September 6, 2012
    1. 16.1 The disappearance of good government -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian
    2. 16.2 Say "No" to Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 16.3 Plan B: who stands to gain? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor / Plan B: Follow the money The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor (10/12/12)
    4. 16.4 Say no to Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  17. 17 September 5, 2012
    1. 17.1 Plan B: Incompetence in authority -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  18. 18 September 2, 2012
    1. 18.1 Opposition Leader Olive Crane calls for a halt to Plan B -- The Guardian online
    2. 18.2 It’s not the road that’s the problem -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 18.3 This project should be stopped -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

September 29, 2012

When people won't speak out -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I have had strong concerns about the proposed Plan B project since it was first presented. I have contacted the minister concerned and other elected representatives to convey these concerns to them. Their responses were late in coming and light in substance. I've spoken to many people who share my views on this project and have received the same treatment from their elected representatives. This, in itself, is troubling.

There are an untold number of people on this Island who strongly oppose Plan B and offer realistic alternatives to address the safety issues used to leverage its launch. There are also many other legitimate organizations that question its necessity and the incomplete science used to underpin it.

Unfortunately, very few of these stakeholders are willing to take an active role in opposing Plan B. The key reason for this, for either private citizens or organizations, is that they are dependent on the goodwill of government for funding (directly or indirectly). They are afraid to openly oppose an obviously flawed project because of the inevitable consequences such action will likely spawn.

If organization ‘A' speaks out, then it is likely next year's operating grant would be in jeopardy. If my neighbour put a sign on his lawn or a sticker on his bumper, then he might not be hired back next spring. This is a sad reality, which is not discouraged by our elected representatives. They, too, must be careful of what they say and to whom they say it.

When our citizens can't openly criticize government in an effort to impact policy. When the views held by these citizens are ignored and suppressed, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we are being governed.

Boyd Allen, Pownal

It is Not Too Late to Reverse Plan -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Let's hope the government realizes that it will gain more respect from the public by cancelling Plan B than by adhering to its current rigid stance. Other leaders listened to the public and cancelled questionable projects. Alex Campbell cancelled the East Point National Park; Joe Ghiz stopped Litton Industries and Pat Binns cancelled the mega-dump for Tracadie Cross. These are but three examples. People have stated clearly in this newspaper and elsewhere that they don't want Plan B and their reasons are very sound.

I joined several others on a walking tour of the Plan B route and it drove home the point that the plan is wasteful and destructive. Just stand at the bottom of the ravines, look toward the tops and try to imagine the amount of earth that would be required to fill them. Think of the enormous destruction of land, waste of water and the altering of the streams. Natural habitat and rare species as well as old hemlocks and other old forest growth would be destroyed.

While driving the highway recently during heavy rains, I was conscious of the safety issues raised by the proponents. The drive was not scary or unsafe. Sensible speed limits are required, and minimal changes to a couple of curves would also improve the highway. The Trans-Canada to Sydney, N.S. goes over Kelly's Mountain, a much greater challenge than Bonshaw, but people observe the speed limits. Halifax and St. John's have very steep hills, but people manage them every day and the Trans-Canada to Halifax, especially on Mount Thom, is much more challenging than Bonshaw.

Our highways handle goods for a very small population that is not likely to grow or increase its consumption in the near future. So why waste all that money and in such a destructive way when there are so many places where it is needed?

Mary Boyd, MacKillop Centre for Social Justice

Two letters in favour of Plan B -- The Guardian Letters to the Editor online

There were two letters in favour of Plan B in Saturday's Guardian, which makes about seven letters for with over 200 against published. (This affirms the plebiscite numbers of over 90% of Islanders wanting Plan B stopped.)

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2012-09-29/article-3085750/I-favour-Plan-B/1

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters-to-editor/2012-09-29/article-3085747/Lets-get-on-with-the-job/1

September 28, 2012

Election slogans are meaningless -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Islanders who are unsure of trusting government to spend tax money wisely on the Plan B project should come and see the new Poole's Corner roundabout near Montague. About 10 years ago, the intersection was rebuilt (twice) to be made safer for traffic. As an election promise, a new roundabout was offered to ‘help’ the Kings County economy. In the same year that childhood dental services were reduced, IT budgets for schools cut, students in mouldy schools told to open their classroom windows and all kinds of government fees and taxes raised, the Liberals chose to demolish a perfectly good and safe intersection.

The new roundabout, like Plan B in Bonshaw, is worse than what we had. Now coming into the roundabout, drivers must turn twice on an ‘s’ curve before even reaching the roundabout. If you are confused, or are driving at night, in rain or snow and don't make the first turn, you are heading straight into oncoming traffic. In my opinion, this is a terrible design that was completely unnecessary. King's County is not improved in any way.

When money is borrowed to spend on unneeded projects like this and Plan B, we are ignoring real needs, real ways of improving our province and simply burdening ourselves and future generations with debt. When government acts without being open and honest about how it makes decisions, it is obvious that election slogans such as ‘Moving forward together’ are meaningless.

Stop wasting time and money on Plan B. Build a real economy.

Bruno Peripoli, Cardigan

Shale pit and environmental assessment -- CBC Compass TV News

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/Compass/ID/2285052925/

Protesters voice displeasure with Plan B -- CBC Website

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/09/28/pei-highway-protest-584.html

Privacy commissioner looking at Plan B permits -- The Guardian online

Teresa Wright discusses a local shale pit's permit, and a rally in front of Province House.

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-09-28/article-3086082/Privacy-commissioner-looking-at-Plan-B-permits/1

September 27, 2012

There are other options -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I finished reading my online version of The Guardian and exited my home office to face my audience, reduced to one. My wife has become the recipient of my rants about Individual rights and freedoms.

My latest topic is ‘expropriation’. “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it”. I bring in history because the incumbent premier and I share a common ancestor, Donald Murchison, driven off his land in Scotland, forced to sail with his family as part of the Skye Pioneers to set up in Point Prim in 1803. I wonder what our Donald would have to say about land expropriation and displacing people by one of his descendants.

Lest these people consider turning to legal channels for help, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms offers no protection because the federal government of the day was forced by the provinces to exclude property ownership as a right.

There are other choices. If highway safety is an issue, lower the speed limit to fit in to the image of ‘the gentle Island’, with hefty fines for offenders, thereby feeding the coffers of the government, solving a problem with creditors (‘Bond raters say P.E.I.’s deficit this year is actually $115 million and warn the province it must balance its books by 2015 or risk a credit rating downgrade’, The Guardian, Aug. 11, 2012).

Dan MacInnis, Brampton, Ont.

Highway environmental process slammed by Tories -- CBC website

CBC coverage of the Conservatives' press conference about the shale pit between Bonshaw and Riverdale.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/09/27/pei-trans-canada-highway-construction-crane-584.html

Scrap Plan B: Crane -- The Guardian online

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-09-26/article-3083994/Scrap-Plan-B%3A-Crane/1

Cancelling ‘Plan B' would show strength -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Nobody wants to admit that they're wrong, and this is doubly true of the government. How else can we explain the current administration's hard-headed insistence that the Plan B highway development proceed, despite numerous economic and environmental objections?

Perhaps the Ghiz government's concerns over losing face for being wrong on this issue can be allayed by a lesson from Canadian political history.

During the 1960s, freeway-building mania struck much of North America. During this time, plans called for the creation in Ontario of the Spadina Expressway connecting North York to downtown Toronto. This development was scheduled to go through residential areas, and required the bulldozing of thousands of homes. Widespread opposition from citizen groups that feared the destruction of their communities, increased pollution from the automobiles on the freeway, and the all-too-familiar problem of escalating construction costs led Premier Bill Davis to cancel the project in 1971. Davis, who was named the second best Canadian premier of the past 40 years in the June 2012 edition of Policy Options, the official publication of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, would hold office until his retirement from politics in 1985.

Today, the Spadina Expressway is remembered as a misguided idea that was rightly cancelled prior to its construction. Davis, meanwhile, is remembered for listening to the public's widespread opposition and bravely reversing his government's earlier support for the project.

Robert Ghiz would be wise to take note of this. Siding with the public and cancelling the Plan B highway development would be a sign of strong, not weak, political leadership.

Ryan O'Connor, PhD, former Cornwall P.E.I. resident, current resident of Peterborough, Ont.

September 26, 2012

This is what led to their downfall -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Jean Henri Fabre - 1823-1915 - the French entomologist, did some interesting work with caterpillars. In one experiment, he assembled a number of these insects around the rim of a large flower pot where they trudged along with the head of one nudging the rear of the caterpillar in front.

This assembly continued to follow the leader on their useless march. Fabre assumed they would soon become alerted to their folly, but they did not.

Even with an ample supply of food in sight, they continued their relentless trek. By force of habit, the caterpillars marched on for seven days and nights and would have continued if not for exhaustion and starvation. These were processionary caterpillars and their habits, custom, past experience and tradition led to their downfall.

I leave it to your readers to determine if any of our institutions - government, crown corporation or educational - can be described as processionary caterpillars.

Lloyd C. McKenna,

Is this the best they can do? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I read Wendy MacKinnon's letter of Sept. 22 with great interest. As someone who is totally opposed to ‘Plan B', I am completely mystified as to why, first, the government wants to do this, and, secondly, why anyone would support it. I have written to my MLA, Janice Sherry, asking her for her reasons for supporting this plan. No reply.

Ms. MacKinnon seems to be of the opinion that the government should waste millions of dollars, do untold environmental damage and destroy a beautiful part of the Island so she can drive a motorhome and car trailer with greater ease and enjoyment.

Is this the best supporters of ‘Plan B' can do? The Trans-Canada is meant to provide safe and efficient transportation, but I see no evidence whatsoever that it is not doing that.

Carol Capper, Summerside

‘Plan B' excessive in every regard -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Due to the path, the length and the lessening of the gradient on the ‘Plan B' realignment, this highways earthworks will be of massive proportions, with an estimated 100,000 truckloads of shale to create the new roadbed.

Owing to the scale of all this excavating and filling through the whole course of the realignment, not only are we going to change the existing landscape, we are actually going to create a new one, with a whole new topography.

Needless to say, this will also create a brand new set of ecological and environmental concerns to deal with, two of which are surface and subsurface water flows.

With the exception of the preliminary geotechnical investigation in Stantec's environmental assessment showing groundwater to be generally within 10-15 metres of the ground surface, through the course of the alignment, all other geotechnical investigations to determine the subsurface of the roadbed will be conducted after the project has started, and will be carried out in front of the advancing highway. Once again, due to the size of this undertaking and its potential to negatively impact upon the watershed, you would have thought this subsurface determination would have been a mandatory requirement of any EA, and would have been conducted along the entire length of the realignment, prior to the start of the project.

This lack of geotechnical information, specific to the path of ‘Plan B' should be of concern to all of us, and at the very least warrants a deferment of ‘Plan B' until further infield studies have been conducted. If upon completion of these studies, it is shown that this highway with its massive earthworks is in any way going to disrupt, change or impact adversely upon the long-established hydrology of this area and the role it plays in the greater Bonshaw/West River watershed, then this project should be cancelled.

In closing, like a great many other Islanders, I have felt that Plan B is excessive in every regard - whether from an economic, social or environmental point of view - and that correcting the problems and deficiencies of the existing highway is the preferred option.

Kim Le Roux and Judy Cheverie, Charlottetown

Environmental assessment and shale pit irregularities -- CBC Compass TV news

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2284224637/

Trans-Canada decision won't be rushed: minister -- CBC Website

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/09/26/pei-trans-canada-environment-bonshaw-584.html

Money would go a long way to help Islanders -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Today I took another drive on the Trans-Canada Highway between Cornwall and Borden. Along my journey I took note of the great scenery, highway conditions and speed of fellow travellers.After the trek I thought greatly about the reasons outlined by the Ghiz government as to why Plan B must go ahead versus what I noticed.Throughout much of the trek I maintained a speed of 90-100 kilometres. What was most disturbing was that around most of the sharp turns where I maintained a speed of 90-95 kilometres I had other cars following extremely close and passing when they had the opportunity.

On straighter stretches of the highway, I travelled 100-105 kilometres and still had others right on my bumper who passed when the opportunity was present. This contradicts the safety argument of the highway given by the government.

It is important to remember that travelling speed is largely based on personal responsibility of the driver of the car but when cars still speed greatly on the sharp turns and straight stretches of the present highway, imagine what drivers will do when given a straighter alignment of fresh pavement to drive on.

Another thing I failed to notice on past travels along the highway was the pristine beauty of the environment. Magnificent views of the Northumberland Strait, lush farmland, grazing livestock and tiny villages make up this image of the Island that to many tourists will be their first impression and to many Islanders, give us a sense of pride.Sure some believe this highway may improve safety but I disagree with this viewpoint. When I attended university in New Brunswick I travelled along many two lane highways and highways similar to the Trans-Canada here and the straighter the highway was, the faster people travelled. I believe it will be no different here.

It is hard to rationalize a $16 million highway construction project that is unnecessary when Islanders have been fired and health care is in shambles. Sixteen million dollars should be put back towards taxpayers to help them, not to go towards an unnecessary highway that will benefit people such as Richard Brown.

Stephen M. LaPierre, Souris

September 25, 2012

We don’t need a Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Among the recent letters to the editor, there was one talking about the "dangerous curves" on the Trans-Canada Highway. They were driving a motor home, pulling a car.

We returned to our beautiful Island last week, after a seven-week, 11,000-kilometre trek. It was not as big as a motor home, but we were pulling a 6'x12' trailer behind our Ford Escape. The trailer's footprint was nearly that of the vehicle. With all four cylinders and a couple of helpful squirrels, we made it to the top of Bonshaw Hill. We were so overjoyed with the beautiful view, we forgot to be terrified by the curves. Of course, having driven through several mountainous states, we were immune to roads that turn.

We do not need Plan B. As has been said and said, proper driving habits make the road safe. The awkward spots are when the west-bound lane adds and then removes a lane in a curve. It really interferes with texting.

Look at the map that shows the accidents.They are not at these curves. They are at side roads and driveways, with most being at the little race track and driving range, where people stop to wait to turn. In short, where highway speed and stationary may exist in the same lane.

On our trek, we saw many highways with a centre lane to stop and turn. It was more expensive than speeding to use it to pass. My Dad calls this the "King's X" lane. If our highway needs anything, this lane of refuge, which should not cost $16-plus millions, would take away the danger of having to stop and wait to turn left on or off the highway. It would take them away from the speeding texters and they might not get hit.

Carl Mathis, Charlottetown

The oldest reason in the world -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

There have been many letters addressing why Plan B should not forge ahead. Reasons have included a high and ongoing cost to the taxpayers, the irreversible destruction of a unique environmental ecosystem, and a clear disdain for the democratic process and will of the people. The premier says his concern is for the safety of Islanders. We drive this road often and see few safety hazards that could not be handled with prudent driving and minimal reconfiguration and signage.

Accidents do happen — often the result of alcohol or drug impaired drivers. In speaking to an RCMP officer recently he noted that the recent rash of home burglaries are largely due to individuals with addiction problems. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol addiction programs are in short supply in the province.

If the premier is broadly concerned about the safety of Islanders, he should be more focused on addiction programs. Certainly he would not be expanding access to alcohol or spending millions of badly needed dollars on an ill-conceived project when the money could go to programs that could help reduce one of the chief causes of accidents, deaths, and destruction of property.

In the face of such opposition and weak arguments for Plan B it is hard to believe that the real reason has nothing to do with the oldest reason in the world – money.

We need a complete disclosure of the businesses and individuals benefiting financially from this project.

Jane Thomas and Harry Smith, Bonshaw

We can stop Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I am not a tree hugger. In fact over the last 25 years, I have clear cut hundreds of acres of woods on this Island. It is general practice not to cut pine, hemlock, and oak. They are left to hopefully seed a new generation.

I can honestly say I have cut maybe 12 in total of these species over my time. Plan B will destroy more of these ancient trees than I have cut in my whole career. The larch, hemlock and pine in the path of Plan B are rare, born in the 1800s. They may be as old as Canada. I challenge the silent majority to walk this planned highway. Stop and relax under these trees, linger there, think, then walk out and let them be dozed; or speak, say no, and stop this plan.

There are many reasons to stop Plan B. This one is closest to my heart. If I can help save this unique part of this Island, I would be glad to be called a tree-hugger.

Dana Jeffrey

September 24, 2012

A few words on 'fact' and 'opinion' -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian

by David M. Bulger

“Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts...” - Joe Friday, ‘Dragnet’

There’s probably nothing that can be strategically employed to bring a debate to a close any faster than the statement: “I’ve got the facts on my side.” The individual can be pressed to produce his or her ‘facts’, but since we understand the word ‘fact’ to mean something beyond question — or in the words of the Oxford English Dictionary: “a thing that is indisputably the case” — if something is indisputably the case, there’s no arguing with it.

But what kinds of things are indisputably the case? Things we see, hear, taste, etc.? Those were probably the ‘indisputable’ things Joe Friday was always looking for, things a witness had seen or heard, which could be sworn to under oath in court. But even the legal system is coming to learn that its reliance on things seen, heard, smelled, etc. can be without foundation. Sometimes it is the very perception itself which is mistaken, as in the sad example of the recent execution of a completely innocent man in Texas. He had the incredible misfortune to be an almost exact double of the real perpetrator.

More often, though, mistakes arise because our memories are short and our minds have revised what we originally perceived. Some years ago, when I was living in the garden city of Toronto, I made the mistake of stopping for a school bus displaying flashing lights. I checked my rear view mirror to see if the car behind me was stopping, and it was. So, it was a considerable surprise when, a few seconds later, I found myself being driven forward — the car behind me having been hit by another car.

The investigating constable asked the ‘middle’ driver how long she had been stopped before she was hit. “Thirty seconds” was the reply. I groaned, inwardly. The constable asked her if she realized how long 30 seconds was. She was adamant that it had been 30 seconds. So, he proposed an experiment: using the second hand on his watch, he would say “go” and when she ‘felt’ the impact, she was to say “stop.” It was 10 seconds, not 30, but an interval long enough for the third driver to have reacted safely, so that driver was charged with driving without due care and attention.

During the nearly two years it took for the case to come to court, the timing error made by the middle driver must have been working away in her mind. She must have thought that if she was wrong about the “30 seconds,” she could also have been wrong about the “10 seconds,” so when she came to testify, she decided to reduce it to “two seconds.” I was called after her and went kind of “ba-da, ba-da, I think it was longer than two seconds”, but I couldn’t repair the damage. “Two seconds” would have been enough for a charge of ‘following too closely’, but not for a charge of ‘driving without due care and attention’. The ‘fact’ (the time interval) was misperceived, and this initial misperception worked like yeast in dough to produce an actual falsity in the end.

Some thinkers, particularly those in love with the beauty and apparent certainty of mathematics, like Plato and Descartes, maintain that the things we think most certain, the things we see, hear, etc., are actually far from indisputable. Optical illusions, for example, tell our eyes that one line is longer than another, when it isn’t. Or illness may produce hallucinations. (In an attempt to provide a kind of mathematical certainty in what may be a termed ‘science’, Descartes decided to start by treating the entire universe as one big hallucination, and then proceeded to try to find certainty within that — most would say without success).

On the other side of the coin, those who tell us we can generally trust our senses, may also tell us that we can’t make indisputable conclusions based on our perceptions. David Hume proposes that the perception that the collision of billiard balls has always resulted in the second one being driven forward by the first in the past, does not absolutely guarantee that this will happen in the future — there is only, in the language of modern science, “a high degree of probability.”

An event that takes place in time and space — a falling rock, for example — fits the definition of a fact. Its existence is indisputable. But our human relationship to events lies through those sometimes fallible senses, through the meanings we attach to those events, and through the conclusions of all kinds that we reach about them. This much can be said: whatever a ‘fact’ may be, human interpretations are not facts. Opinion is not fact. Belief is not fact. (It may be a ‘fact’ that I have an opinion or a belief, but that does not make the subject of the opinion/belief a fact).

Thus neither of the following statements is a ‘fact’: “a highway curve with a radius of 330 yards is unsafe”; “a highway curve with a radius of 440 yards is safe.” These are interpretations, opinions, beliefs, which may be based on facts, but they are not facts in themselves. And the pronouncing of an opinion by someone who, like me, can pin a number of letters after his or her name, does not make it a fact.

One observation in closing. I notice, in the media, that “eggs are bad for us again.” I have lost count of the number of times this ‘fact’ has reversed itself over the last few years. And that is because it is not a ‘fact’. Much like other alleged ‘facts’.

When someone says “the facts are on my side,” that should not be the end of the debate. It should be just the beginning.

David M. Bulger holds graduate degrees in both philosophy and law, and has taught philosophy at four post-secondary institutions.

September 21, 2012

Environmentalists Jackie Waddell and Gary Schneider talk about Plan B -- CBC Compass TV news (@4:23)

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/Compass/ID/2282511772/

September 20, 2012

Old growth forests crucial home for some species -- suveyoronline

http://surveyoronline.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/old-growth-forests-crucial-home-for-some-species/

September 19, 2012

Government, are you listening? -- The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor

Re Plan B:
I do not have anything new to add to those who have spoken eloquently, scientifically, environmentally, and in every other way against the idea of highway realignment in the Bonshaw/Churchill/Strathgartney area. But I am adding my voice and stories and speaking out against it with all the strength I have. I did write a short letter to The Guardian - which said the money would be better spent in paving shoulders on roads connecting with the Confederation Trail as we, as an Island and tourist destination, promote bicycling and the trail, but it is often unsafe to get on and off of it. (Remember the death of cyclist this year shortly after she left the trail to go to a B&B). 
She was hit by a drunk driver and it is this point I also brought up in my letter. As far as I see, the realignment aids drunk drivers and speeders as the road travelled correctly is easy to drive. I drive a lot and travel to NB from eastern PEI once a month, year round. In 35 years the only problem I have had on that stretch of road was a car of young men who tried to play games with me - going very slow in front of me and when I finally got away from them they sped up and glued their car’s front end to the back of my car. They were waving beer bottles at me. This is a road hazard for sure but not one helped at all by the proposed project.
As a long distant cyclist I have travelled across North America and remember with fondness the places with paved shoulders. As a cyclist on PEI I try to remember which roads do not have gaping pot holes so I can avoid those areas. If the parameters of the federal dollars are safety issues you do not have to look very far - every road on PEI needs either a paved shoulder or paving.
Skip the desecration, the environmental change and the “doing it for safety” line. We need more trees not fewer, more special natural areas not fewer and we need less “lines” and more real help. Nature cannot keep up with the damage we do, let’s work together to help all of us.
Those in government - ARE YOU LISTENING? Those of us expressing our views, and even those who are not vocal, vote and I know my next vote will not go to the party that promotes such as this.


Ruth Richman, De Gros Marsh (a fairly untouched, lovely natural area)

Will Ghiz and Gang follow suit? -- The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor

An amazing thing happened this week. Herr Harper’s government finally gave up defending the mining and exportation of asbestos. They claim they gave up because the new PQ government in Quebec refused to support the mining of such a dangerous substance. The Conservatives changed their position on something.
We can hope this is the start of a trend. Will Ghiz and Gang finally see the light on Plan Balderdash?

Amy Swenson, Caledonia

Slowing down would help -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Like the vast majority of people who have been voicing an opinion on Plan B, I, too, am opposed to what I see as unnecessary and misappropriated spending of money we don't have.

However, I would like to share an experience I had this past spring that provides an economical solution to the perceived safety hazard of the highway through Strathgartney. On two occasions, I had to drive to Sydney, Cape Breton. The first time was in a 16-foot cube van. The second time in a half-ton ton truck fully loaded with tools.

While coming down Kelly Mountain on the Trans-Canada Highway, there is a near hairpin curve, on a steep decline, in the road. Rather than rerouting the highway, the Nova Scotia Department of Highways posted caution signs and reduced the speed limit to 40 km/h. I am happy to report that we made it through this section of highway without incident, as do the thousands of travellers who pass over Kelly Mountain each year.

The hills and curves on Prince Edward Island highways are nothing like what you experience going over Kelly Mountain or along the Cabot Trail. Perhaps if the provincial government wants people to enjoy and experience ‘The Gentle Island,' they could just encourage everyone to slow down along a few kilometres of some of the most scenic highway in the province.

Phil Ferraro, Charlottetown

September 17, 2012

Why Plan B shouldn’t proceed -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian

by Gary Schneider

For over six years, I co-chaired the environmental planning and assessment caucus of the Canadian Environmental Network. I also served on the federal Regulatory Advisory Committee, which advised the minister of environment on issues related to environmental assessment. As part of this work, I helped draft the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Ministerial Guideline on Assessing the Need for and Level of Public Participation in Screenings under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and other guidance material.

One of the basic tenets of good environmental assessment is that meaningful public participation only occurs when the public is actually able to influence thefinal decision. This doesn’t mean that the public always gets its way. But it certainly means that final decisions cannot be made before members of the public have a chance to present their views. In the case of the Trans-Canada Highway Realignment (Plan B), this essential condition of meaningful public participation does not appear to have been met.

The letting of tenders, the threat of expropriation and the general attitude of the politicians and civil servants have left most participants feeling as though this project is a done deal and that their interventions will be a waste oftime.

The environmental assessment documents are also just too huge to expect most people to have a thorough understanding of the material within such a short time frame. I did take the time to read all the EIS documents, and I am more convinced than ever that this major project will have serious impacts on our Island environment.

The overriding justification for any public project should always be community need. If Plan B was something that the Island really needed, there might besome justification for destroying habitat and expropriating people’s properties. But this clearly is not the case. If it were not for the federal money attached to this project, it would never take place. To ruin these rare habitats simply to take advantage of federal funding is indefensible from an ecological perspective.

Throughout the Environmental Impact Statement, there are far too many qualifiers, such as “where possible” and “where feasible” throughout the report. Statements such as “Native species will be used, where possible, for revegetation efforts. Where not possible, species used will be non-invasive” or “Avoid known locations of plant and wildlife SAR and SOCC, where feasible” offer no firm assurance that the work will be carried out in a way that protects or even enhances the environment. Some contractors might just do whatever is cheapest and let these qualifiers take them off the hook. I would suggest removing such qualifiers so that the public knows exactly what willtake place and that contractors, if the project does go ahead, have clear rules that they will have to follow.

As the manager of the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project looking after 2,000 acres of provincial forest land, I find that the report gives little weight to the fact that most of P.E.I.’s woodlands are already disturbed or degraded. If we had large areas of relatively healthy forest ecosystems, perhaps you could justify losing some. But that is not the situation we find ourselves in here. Most forests that can be seen from any roadway are seriously degraded, generallyhaving been farmland at some point in recent history. Far too much of the rest of our woodland has been clearcut and/or is some kind of conifer plantation, lacking diversity and ecological integrity.

If you don’t recognize how rare healthy forests are in the province, you don’t know what you are losing. It somehow has become acceptable to lose part of Bonshaw’s beautiful hemlock stand and leave the rest chopped in two. The ecological integrity of that stand will certainly be destroyed. We know a hemlock stand is more than one tree,more than five trees, but exactly how big an area of hemlock do we need in order to have it functioning as a viable ecological community? We don’t really have a good answer for that, and I think we should have before we begin to even think about fragmenting our few remnants of old growth forest.

The report also pays little attention given to the mixed hardwood stand on the steep slope that is part of the Crawford property. It is an ecological jewel, a forest habitat that I rarely if ever see in the province and I am fortunate in having seen a great deal of Island forests. The steepness of the slope, the height of some of the trees, the seep and small stream, all make it a unique area. This is another unique and precious habitat, one that again everyone should have a hard time seeing destroyed. It is a property that I would love to spend more time in and look at what is really living there throughout the year, both flora and fauna. And I hope that future generations of Islanders will also have that chance.

Regarding invasive species, the report recommends that “All construction equipment and vehicles (trucks and heavy machinery) will be visually inspected for vegetation each day by the Responsible Person, or designate, prior to engaging in any construction activities. Particular care must be paid to the undercarriage of vehicles and machinery.” Again, it is hard to believe that this could ever take place. Will the province really inspect the undercarriage of every truck delivering gravel or shale, or every piece of heavy equipment? The cost alone would be astronomical.

The report outlines some problems quite well, such as: “Mature forests often contain rich communities of plants and animals. Certain species depend on unique environmental conditions created by these forests.Large diameter trees, snags and fallen tree parts and root systems in various stages of decomposition provide the structure needed for life for many species of the forest. Mature forests serve as a reservoir for species which cannotthrive or easily regenerate in younger forests, and so can be used as a baseline for research. These forests serve as natural reservoirs of geneticdiversity and reproductive fitness, store large amounts of carbon above andbelow ground, and serve other ecological functions.”

But then the authors fail to adequately address those concerns.

Given all these environmental concerns, and the many others raised by Island residents regarding the cost to taxpayers, the lack of significant benefits and the availability of clear alternatives, the realignment should not be allowed to go ahead. To do so would be to give credence to those who say that Prince Edward Island’s environmental assessment process is just a rubber stamp for the whims of government.

Gary Schneider is co-chair of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island.

Plan B highway a stupid idea -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I believe this Plan B highway by the Ghiz government and Vessey is a stupid plan for a number of reasons.

But Plan B is mainly ‘stupid’ in my view because of the enormous expense in a time of record provincial debt this government carries. It will also do a lot of environmental damage in the Churchill/Bonshaw area, in my opinion. Why is it that this government doesn't seem to want to listen or even seem to care what you and I, the general public, think? Well, maybe it's because they don't care. This is why I believe we should all be standing up and helping these brave people who are being forced out of their homes by this government for this highway. Another reason I think it's a stupid idea is because I think most Islanders are against it and it seems like very reckless spending.

Also, why is Harper’s Conservative government putting up half the cost of this project? It seems the federal Conservatives and provincial Liberals are both working together against Islanders. Maybe if they both keep on doing these kind of things, which seem like reckless spending by both levels of government, they both may be forced out of office at the next election.

To my way of thinking, my father and all other veterans that served in the Second World War fought for our freedom from these very kind of people who are forcing their will onto us today. I say stop this ‘stupid Plan B highway’ now. I would also like to commend all the brave people who oppose this unpopular project and the Stop Plan B Action group. I wish them success in their well-intentioned opposition to this plan.

Lloyd W. Pickering, Sea View

September 15, 2012

Our questions about Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

My husband and I spent this past weekend in Cape Breton. It is as breathtaking as ever, with its scenes of exquisite beauty, viewed — without fear — from the two-lane, precariously steep roads that thread throughout the Cape. Blessedly, people on the Cape handle the roads just fine as they are, though clear signage and sensible speed limits are de rigeur. Lookouts are created for drivers to stop and stare. It was a joy and, as far as we observed, travelers were reaching their destinations without undo tardiness.

The weekend before, we went to New Brunswick and on the way drove the road through Strathgartney. As usual, wewere forced to share this "perilous" stretch of highway with two other cars, one behind us and one coming the other way. This is usually the way it is, though often we find ourselves alone onthis stretch of road. What a relief. We never grow tired of the magnificent view and often stop at the Strathgartney lookout. Of course, this is a molehill compared to Cape Breton's mountains.

Here's what we can learn from the Cabot Trailto apply to the Bonshaw Hills at Strathgartney — reduce the speed limit, improve signage, enjoy the view, breathe easy, for in the big picture, there is scant reason to reach Charlottetown two minutes faster.

Our questions about Plan B:

1. Who decided this bit of road is a risk to drive? (Please recall Cape Breton.)

2. Why was some of the land for Plan B purchased even before Plan A was announced?

3. Who owns these pieces of land and how long have they owned said pieces of land?

4. Why were the remaining landowners threatened with expropriation before the environmental review was completed?

5. Why, as a poor province, is this government so determined to go deeper into debt in order to build a road for which there is next to no support and absolutely no need?

6. And lastly, who is the keeper of all the secrets?

Someone please help us understand the Ghiz government's flight from reason. Islanders and this small, dear Island will be the losers. Some things, once done, cannot be undone. In any way.

Catherine and Michael Edward, Belfast

September 14, 2012

Spending millions where it's not needed -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I always thought the government was elected by the people of the Island to work for and listen to the Island folks. Now regarding Plan B, this does not seem to be the case. The millions government is planning on spending on this is terrible.

If these bunch of elected people only knew the Island and its people, they would know where to spend it, and would get a thanks for it. But as it seems, all they like doing is favours for their friends, never listening to the Islanders.

Remember before the election when they were blabbering on about all the good they would do? I know I am only a statistic to them, but they can add a minus mark to their voter's list.

It's too bad our government is not aware of how deep the Island is in debt, and it's going to spend all these millions on something that's not wanted.

Lowell Nicholson, Charlottetown

Please listen to the people -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

David Bulger in Friday's (Sept. 7) Guardian tells it like it is with this government. They certainly could use common sense. For example, the mud hills at Borden - how much did taxpayers pay for that monstrosity? What a pretty mess to greet the tourists.

The roundabout at Poole's Corner - all that was needed there was a better indication of the turning lane when approaching from Georgetown. It was a very visible intersection from all directions. The roundabout at the intersection of Douse's Road and the commercial highway - I was almost hit there when I was first in the roundabout - the second driver didn't yield and swerved in front of my car. If the reason for this roundabout was for the access of the school buses, wouldn't a merging lane from the Valleyfield Road be all that was necessary, and it wouldn't cost the taxpayer so much money.

Plan B - A knowledgeable gentleman wrote how an improvement could be accomplished without all the destruction to homes, land, trees and waterways. Please heed his instructions, Mr. Vessey.

Program cuts are all done on the lower-paid, usually self-employed, individuals. Imagine if you are the owner of a small bed and breakfast. Your inspection fee just doubled this year; other licences as well. Speaking of cutting costs, wouldn't it be a plus to see the top government echelon reduce their salaries, pay for their cars and gas? Also, what about those indexed pensions for politicians who serve as little as two years? Did I hear that a building for the MLAs near Province House is now being considered?

The people of P.E.I. have been speaking loud and clear about the waste of taxpayers' money; but the employer's suggestions are not even considered. If this were a company, I think a number of employees would be fired for insubordination. The gentleman from New York, who also wrote to The Guardian, knows what is happening when he worries that this government will bankrupt P.E.I.

Please, Mr. Premier, take better action and prevent this from happening and, please, assist the rural communities.

Bertha M. MacLean, Montague

Government digging a deeper hole -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The old saying, "my mind is made up, don't bother me with the facts" is often referred to by pundits when describing individuals with entrenched views and who are unwilling to consider other opinions regardless of opposition. Sort of like our present government's stand on Plan B, eh?

All of the opposing views expressed through letters, rallies, protests, etc. seem to have fallen on deaf ears. The façade of an environmental assessment having anything to do with the outcome is quite a stretch. We Islanders can identify a ‘done deal' when it is stogged down our throats. To press on regardless, in the face of so much citizen opposition, goes beyond arrogance and really borders on stupidity.

The Ghiz government seems hell-bent on digging a deeper hole; many of its unpopular decisions and projects have been mentioned in numerous letters in this forum and need not be repeated here.

Suffice to say that it would take a full one-eighty very soon in order to thwart a wipeout in the next election.

John Bradley, St. Patrick's Road

The Political Panel briefly discusses Plan B -- CBC Radio Island Morning

http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2012/09/14/political-panel---polls-plan-b-concert-fallout/

September 13, 2012

Interviews with Peter Bevan-Baker of Hampton and Greg Wilson with the Environment Department -- CBC Compass TV news

Contains footage of one of the immense shale pits along Plan B

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/Compass/ID/2278974483/

More than 250 question province on Plan B -- CBC Website

Department of Environment discusses the amount of public submissions and how the EIA Statement will be revised

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/09/13/pei-response-government-plan-b-584.html

Highway protest taking bold new step -- The Guardian online

Article on the Direct Action meeting

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-09-13/article-3073930/Highway-protest-taking-bold-new-step/1

Protest lessons attract 100 over highway plan -- CBC Website

Article on Direct Action meeting

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/09/13/pei-highway-protest-lesson-bevan-baker-584.html

September 12, 2012

Plan B Protest - Wilma van der Veen -- CBC Island Morning radio

http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2012/09/12/plan-b-protest---wilma-van-der-veen/

Reacting to dollars, not sense -- Commentary in The Eastern Graphic

For over six years I co-chaired the Environmental Planning and Assessment Caucus of the Canadian Environmental Network. I also served on the federal Regulatory Advisory Committee, which advised the Minister of Environment on issues related to environmental assessment. As part of this work, I helped draft the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s “Ministerial Guideline on Assessing the Need for and Level of Public Participation in Screenings under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and other guidance material."

One of the basic tenets of good environmental assessment is that meaningful public participation only occurs when the public is actually able to influence the final decision. This doesn’t mean that the public always gets its way. But it certainly means final decisions cannot be made before members of the public have a chance to present their views. In the case of the Trans-Canada Highway Realignment (Plan B), this essential condition of meaningful public participation does not appear to have been met. The letting of tenders, the threat of expropriation and the general attitude of the politicians and civil servants has left most participants feeling as though this project is a done deal and that their interventions will be a waste of time.

The environmental assessment documents are also just too huge to expect most people to have a thorough understanding of the material within such a short time frame. I did take the time to read all the EIS documents, and I am more convinced than ever that this major project will have serious impacts on our Island environment. The overriding justification for any public project should always be community need. If Plan B was something the Island really needed, there might be some justification for destroying habitat and expropriating people’s properties. But this clearly is not the case. If it were not for the federal money attached to this project, it would never take place. To ruin these rare habitats simply to take advantage of federal funding is indefensible from an ecological perspective.

Throughout the Environmental Impact Statement, there are far too many qualifiers, such as “where possible” and “where feasible” throughout the report. Statements such as “Native species will be used, where possible, for revegetation efforts. Where not possible, species used will be non-invasive” or “Avoid known locations of plant and wildlife SAR and SOCC, where feasible” offer no firm assurance the work will be carried out in a way that protects or even enhances the environment. Some contractors might just do whatever is cheapest and let these qualifiers take them off the hook. I would suggest removing such qualifiers so that the public knows exactly what will take place and that contractors, if the project does go ahead, have clear rules they will have to follow.

As the manager of the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project looking after 2,000 acres of provincial forest land, I find the report gives little weight to the fact that most of PEI’s woodlands are already disturbed or degraded. If we had large areas of relatively healthy forest ecosystems, perhaps you could justify losing some. But that is not the situation we find ourselves in here. Most forests that can be seen from any roadway are seriously degraded, generally having been farmland at some point in recent history. Far too much of the rest of our woodland has been clearcut and/or is some kind of conifer plantation, lacking diversity and ecological integrity. If you don’t recognize how rare healthy forests are in the province, you don’t know what you are losing. It somehow has become acceptable to lose part of Bonshaw’s beautiful hemlock stand and leave the rest chopped in two. The ecological integrity of that stand will certainly be destroyed. We know a hemlock stand is more than one tree, more than five trees, but exactly how big an area of hemlock do we need in order to have it functioning as a viable ecological community? We don’t really have a good answer for that, and I think we should have before we begin to even think about fragmenting our few remnants of old growth forest.

The report also pays little attention given to the mixed hardwood stand on the steep slope that is part of the Crawford property. It is an ecological jewel, a forest habitat I rarely if ever see in the province and I am fortunate in having seen a great deal of Island forests. The steepness of the slope, the height of some of the trees, the seep and small stream, all make it a unique area. This is another unique and precious habitat, one that again everyone should have a hard time seeing destroyed. It is a property I would love to spend more time in and look at what is really living there throughout the year, both flora and fauna. And I hope future generations of Islanders will also have that chance.

Regarding invasive species, the report recommends that “All construction equipment and vehicles (trucks and heavy machinery) will be visually inspected for vegetation each day by the Responsible Person, or designate, prior to engaging in any construction activities. Particular care must be paid to the undercarriage of vehicles and machinery.” Again, it is hard to believe this could ever take place. Will the province really inspect the undercarriage of every truck delivering gravel or shale, or every piece of heavy equipment? The cost alone would be astronomical.

The report outlines some problems quite well, such as: “Mature forests often contain rich communities of plants and animals. Certain species depend on unique environmental conditions created by these forests. Large diameter trees, snags and fallen tree parts and root systems in various stages of decomposition provide the structure needed for life for many species of the forest. Mature forests serve as a reservoir for species which cannot thrive or easily regenerate in younger forests, and so can be used as a baseline for research. These forests serve as natural reservoirs of genetic diversity and reproductive fitness, store large amounts of carbon above and below ground, and serve other ecological functions.” But then the authors fail to adequately address those concerns.

Given all these environmental concerns, and the many others raised by Island residents regarding the cost to taxpayers, the lack of significant benefits and the availability of clear alternatives, the realignment should not be allowed to go ahead. To do so would be to give credence to those who say that Prince Edward Island’s environmental assessment process is just a rubber stamp for the whims of government.

Gary Schneider Co-chair, Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island

Put people, environment first -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Many Islanders said no sometime ago to proposed Plan A through Strathgartney Park. Bravo! Now it is time for all citizens concerned about Plan B impacts in New Haven-Bonshaw area to say no, once again.

One good reason to say no to this ill-conceived and costly project is the lack of any consultation with Islanders affected by Plan B. In a democracy, public hearings in communities affected make sense to me. Concerns by many people need to be heard and addressed honestly.

It is not enough for the P.E.I. government to rely primarily on technical advice from engineers and others in the Transportation Department in making decisions for such projects to go ahead. We all know that the realignment of the TCH is possible from an engineering perspective. But the very real input and concerns of citizens expressed in many venues — i.e letters to the editor — have not been heard or addressed so far by the ministers involved. When will public hearings begin in the affected communities? Such citizens need not be bulldozed into submission. Transportation Minister Robert Vessey and Environment Minister Janice Sherry must not act like groundhogs and hide from these communities. Let's eat humble pie, swallow your pride, act democratically soon and hold public hearings. Listen to the grassroots Islanders who have legitimate problems that need to be solved before this project can receive their support.

There is no evidence in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report that trade and tourism will benefit from realigning the TCH. Truckers may only save a few minutes in getting to the Confederation Bridge or to Charlottetown from the bridge from studies done for the EIA report. Do tourists really care for a high-speed road from New Haven-Bonshaw? I say no. Many visitors like the slower pace of life on the Island. They find it all so relaxing to get away from high-speed highways.

The real questions for me are: can P.E.I. afford the costs of more than $20 million for Plan B without worthwhile consultation with Island communities? Who really benefits? Who really pays?

George Kelly, Blooming Point

September 10, 2012

A Dangerous Stretch of Road -- CBC Island Morning Broadcast

**Interview with Chief Engineer Stephen Yeo, where the doctoring of accident rates is admitted**

http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2012/09/09/a-dangerous-stretch-of-road/

DeSable Trans-Canada as dangerous as reroute section -- CBC Website

Shows DeSable accident rates just as high as re-alignment area and alludes to doctoring of statistics

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/09/10/pei-trans-canada-highway-collision-rates-584.html

September 6, 2012

The disappearance of good government -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian

by Dennis O'Brien

Since returning home to P.E.I., I have become increasingly frustrated and angry with the provincial political scene. We seem to be slipping ever closer to bankruptcy .

The current Liberal government seems to be hell-bent on accelerating this likelihood. This government - and in fairness, previous governments - have continued to support the ‘brick and mortar' philosophy of building new structures rather than making do with what we have. We are living in tough times and should not be expending large amounts of money on such things as new accommodations for MLAs and the Plan B highway construction.

The government should also revisit the policy of lending large amounts of taxpayers' dollars to stimulate the development and expansion of Island businesses. Millions of dollars are not repaid and the long-term creation and maintenance of jobs is suspect to say the least. It seems to me that the business community must take on more responsibility for funding their own development and expansion.

I think that government politicians must get back to focusing on core programs such as education, health and infrastructure and how to deliver them in a much more efficient manner. For example, they must have the courage to face the people and tell them that we can only have two hospitals in P.E.I. and, at the same time, have outreach programs such as clinic, nursing practitioners and kidney dialysis locations.

To date, however, we do the same old things and instead cut programs that are designed to help people in crisis, as seen by the latest round of job and program cuts. Isn't it interesting that at no time do we hear about cuts of political positions or jobs associated with them? It is clear to me, at least, that substantial cuts could be made in these areas without any real damage to the delivery of core programs.

At the end of the day, I can only conclude that this government is financially out of control and does not care about the impact of the exploding provincial debt on the people of P.E.I., now and well into the future.

I hate to say this but the more I see of politics on the Island, the more I am convinced that politicians and the backroom are either not able to do the job expected of them or they are primarily interested in their own agenda and to hell with the ordinary person. This was never more clear than how the accelerated immigration exercise (PNP) led to millions of dollars being doled out in a secretive manner.

With all these frustrations in mind, you might imagine my reaction to a front-page story in The Guardian on Aug. 24 about Olive Crane announcing the Conservative Party's new political platform of the establishment of a provincial youth secretariat. With everything that is wrong with our present government, why wouldn't the Conservative leader stand up and say that spending was totally out of control, that we must make do with less, that political and civil service jobs must be substantially streamlined, that real work must be carried out to cut costs in the health and education areas while simultaneously delivering a much better product? Instead, Olive Crane focuses on a provincial youth secretariat. I, of course, want our youth to be given every opportunity, but I expect so much more than that from the Opposition.

My God, people, wake up; we are broke, broke, broke. Politicians, please tell me that you will address what is so obviously wrong with the current government if you come to power or are we to expect more of the same with any future government of yours.

Unless politicians start balancing between what the people want and what we can deliver, keeping in mind our financial situation, I think P.E.I. is destined to slip into outright bankruptcy with fallout beyond what anyone can imagine. You have only to look to Greece if you think this is not possible. It's time for everyone to wake up.

Dennis O'Brien of Cornwall worked formerly with the federal government in Ottawa.

Say "No" to Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Our PEI government seems to be determined to build a new highway from Bonshaw to New Haven (somewhat parallel to the existing highway), in spite of a lack of public consultation on the necessity, cost and implications of this 'plan B'. The impetus would appear to be the availability of federal money which is contingent on speedy implementation of the plan.

At our recent board meeting of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (ECOPEI), it was agreed to call for proper consideration of all the alternatives before any such irreversible changes are made to this extensive tract of land.

This major construction project would cut a deep, wide wound through a beautiful section of "The Bonshaw Hills" (which is described in the stories of Ian MacQuarrie's wonderful book of that name; in particular the last story, 'Cemetery'). The valley through Churchill along the Peters Road is one of south-central PEI's few remaining undeveloped natural spaces with spectacular wooded ravines and an old growth hemlock forest ecosystem. There are steep valleys and 3 streams in this area, which has been marked off by surveyors.

This 16 million dollar project has been justified in the name of safety, but upgrades for safety can be made to the existing highway, with minimal environmental destruction.

We in ECOPEI insist that the PEI Government reject this 'plan B' and preserve the natural integrity of this important area of forests and farmland.

Islanders spoke up and successfully protected Strathgartney Park from highway development. We must also stop this senseless 'paving of paradise'.

Gary Schneider for ECOPEI Board

Plan B: who stands to gain? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor / Plan B: Follow the money The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor (10/12/12)

After months of feedback, the Ghiz government is still determined to go ahead with a Plan B that a vast majority of Islanders do not want. We now have an environmental assessment that does not address 10,000 truckloads of shale. If you want to get an idea of what that does to the landscape, I invite you to take a tour of our community. Old gravel pits off the back roads of Caledonia look like a moonscape. Decades later the land has not recovered.

I cannot understand why the Ghiz government is so bull-headed. This is a democracy. Ghiz is taking his cue from the Harper regime. The public expect their views and wishes to be honoured. Who will vote for the Liberals after this?

Yes, perhaps you can argue that that section of road presents some hazards. Again I invite you to our community. Route 24 is possibly the worst road on the Island. There are many dangerous roads on P.E.I.

The question I ask myself repeatedly is who will gain from Plan B? Some friends of the government must stand to make a pile of money, otherwise our elected officials would be listening to the people they were elected to serve.

I am fed up with a national and now a provincial government that behaves like a gang of thugs only serving their inner circle with no regard for burgeoning debts and an environment in crisis.

Teresa Doyle, Bellevue

Say no to Plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

It is a shame that Environment Minister Janice Sherry didn't attend the recent public meeting on Plan B. It would have been great to hear her concerns on the Plan B - Environmental Impact Assessment and it was a great opportunity for her to hear the concerns raised by the attendees. It is also unfortunate that transportation officials, though present, were unwilling to answer questions about the process.

Among the many concerns raised were two glaring omissions in the Environmental Impact Assessment that I would like to bring to the minister’s attention.

1) Water consumption: The EIA defines areas where invasive species are present and outlines procedures to reduce the spread of these species to other areas by washing trucks and equipment. It does not provide any information on how much water will be used, where the water will be coming from or how it will be contained and decontaminated after it's used to clean trucks and equipment.

2) Shale: Completely missing from the EIA was sourcing, excavating and transporting 250,000 tons of shale. That is quite a lot of shale to overlook.

One of the many unanswered questions at the meeting was the process through which Stantec was selected to complete this Environmental Impact Assessment. I am not alone in my concerns about the legitimacy of this process. Another was about the complete disregard of current legislation. The survey cut itself clearly ignored buffer zone regulations by felling trees beside and directly into streams. If the site cannot even be properly surveyed following existing regulations then what hope have we that this massive unnecessary project can be properly supervised?

The Green Party would also suggest that the minister look a little further into the future than the road completion date. Consider the wisdom of spending $24,000,000 on a second faster road through a beautiful natural area in an era when we must be looking at climate change, erosion control, rising sea levels, the systematic poisoning of our only water source and the end of the fossil fuel era.

She must listen to the thousands of people who oppose this wasteful and completely unnecessary project. We ask her to use her authority as minister of the environment to protect the environment by saying no to Plan B.

Darcie Lanthier, interim leader, Green Party of P.E.I.

September 5, 2012

Plan B: Incompetence in authority -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The near bankrupt PEI Government realized an opportunity in the federal government’s time-limited offer for a limited amount of 50 cent dollars for improving the Atlantic Gateway, disregarding the fact that the Island does not have the other 50 cents.

Whatever long-term view and planning the Island government may (or may not) have had on the development and improvement of Island roads in general, and on the Trans-Canada-Highway in particular, - only sketchy and incomplete design data and a resultant, evenly flawed design could quickly be generated, lacking transparency and wisdom.

This plan is non-gentle, irreversibly ecologically destructive, very expensive, redundant and fiercely rejected by a concerned public. The government is hailing it as the chosen design and justifies it based on largely incomplete data, incorrect reasoning and it is justified solely with illogical and publicly disputed safety considerations. The government is unable (and unwilling) to satisfactorily address the publics concerns and instead uses an arrogant iron-fist approach to railroad this project mistake at all costs through a prematurely finalized time schedule.

Such project, flawed or not, would nicely suit the local and hungry construction industry, but the rightfully suspicious and rejecting public says that it does not need or want such Plan B road and it cannot pay for it.

Expected heavy cost overruns at face value, will change a half-dollar “opportunity” into an full-dollar debt liability.

Incompetence in authority.

Karl (Carlo) Hengst, Summerside

September 2, 2012

Opposition Leader Olive Crane calls for a halt to Plan B -- The Guardian online

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-09-02/article-3065688/Call-a-halt-to-Plan-B%2C-Crane-argues/1?newsletterid=216&date=2012-09-03-04

It’s not the road that’s the problem -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I have recently driven the road through Strathgartney in a van at night and observing the speed limit we had no difficulty at all.

The problem is not the road — it is the drivers who will risk their lives to save a few minutes. An illuminated sign ‘Reduce Speed - Sharp Turn’ might be sufficient. The hills, 'alive with the sound of music' of birds, squirrels, the wind in the trees and the rippling streams, will be silenced. The lines of a well-known song by Joni Mitchell comes to mind. In part: ‘They took all the trees/ Put'em in a museum/Then charged the people/A dollar and a half to see them/Don't it always seem to go/That you don't know what you've got till it’s gone/They paved paradise’ etc.

Helen MacRae, Charlottetown

This project should be stopped -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

An assessment needs to be weighed against something, usually a standard, or a critical proportion.

In the case of an environmental assessment, there are likely both, and situationally some opinion as to when a number becomes too high or low to continue, or the proportion becomes critical or dangerous.

But, I suggest, environmental factors ought to be given an economic value as well, and a project be assessed against that standard, too.

For example, if 10 trees out of 1,000 are removed from asite, this may be seen as a small proportion, and non-critical. On this basis, a project might ‘pass’ the assessment. But what if 10 trees are removed for no other discernible benefit? The environment is impacted by 10 trees lost, and no one is better off. Or what if 10 trees are removed at a cost of $10,000 each? The environment is again impacted by the trees lost, and someone has paid a tremendous price. In such cases we should say the environmental impact is out of proportion, and probably critical.

I think those examples illustrate the true environmentalimpact of Plan B. The environment is hugely impacted for an outcome the population does not value, and at great cost in a resource which we do not have.

This project fails the environmental assessment, and ought to be stopped.

Tom Connor, Charlottetown















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