My first glimpse of Canada was on the approach to Gander International Airport on August 4th, 1985. The direct flight had left London, England and when we broke through the clouds, I feared that we had been diverted to Siberia. Mile after mile of rivers, rocks, ponds, and trees – with no sign of human habitation – eventually gave way to a concrete landing strip on the edge of a small town. I was a spellbound “come from away”, decades before the Broadway musical of the same name celebrated the thousands of air passengers who landed unplanned at the same airport on 9/11, and forever memorialised the legendary hospitality of the people who live there.Read more
I am inviting all Islanders to share with me their thoughts on a proposal I am making to modernize PEI’s energy laws.
Recent government announcements have committed our province to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040. These goals are reconfirmed in the Net-Zero Carbon Act. This was introduced by my fellow Official Opposition member Lynne Lund, MLA for Summerside-Wilmot, in the Legislature last fall. It became law after all parties and MLAs agreed unanimously to pass it.Read more
Premier King, end of 2020: Mental health will be a big priority in 2021
Premier King, start of 2021: As our first order of business, we are closing the Psychiatric Urgent Care Clinic (PUCC) at Hillsborough Hospital
Have you ever called customer service and had to ask for a manager? It’s usually after you’ve done your best to communicate your issue with whoever answered the call, but then you realize they did not have the authority, or perhaps the will, to do what was necessary to help. So, you ask to speak to a manager. A manager has more authority and ultimately can make the decisions.
I am starting to feel that way when it comes to working to improve mental health and addictions services on PEI. I have worked tirelessly over the past two years to engage with the Minister of Health on this topic. After the last election, based on the Ministers’ and the Premier’s promises, Islanders believed the much needed new mental health campus would be up and running. But here we are, two years later, and all we’re left with are broken promises.Read more
The Ignition Fund, launched in 2014 and delivered via Innovation PEI, is a competitive annual program providing up to $25k to start or expand a business in PEI. The fund is unique in PEI as it does not require matching funds and is non-repayable. There are up to 10 grants funded every year. To be eligible, products or services must be innovative and have the potential to be sold outside of the province.
I’ve been working in and with the small business and startup community in PEI and across Canada since 2014. I can tell you that starting a business is hard.Fifty per cent of new startups will fail in their first few years of operation. One of the many barriers to startup launch and success is access to capital (cash). This is why this fund is so welcome to the entrepreneur community in PEI.
What isn’t welcome at the Ignition Fund, it seems, are women-owned companies.Read more
This looks like a winter season where we will be spending more time than usual cozying up inside. My recommendation is to find ways to get outside and be safe - take a walk on a beach or anywhere where there is nature and few people. We are lucky to be on PEI where such places are easy to find.
When you come home, you may even have a wood stove that you can cozy up to. That is why I like winter: The opportunity to get cold and refreshed outside and then warmed again inside, preferable next to some kind of wood fire.
Being around a wood fire is an essential part of being human, and if you have access to even an acre of woods or two, there will be plenty of dead wood to burn. While burning wood does create CO2, leaving a piece of deadfall on the forest floor eventually releases the same amount of CO2 through composting. Therefore burning wood is considered sustainable, and if you return the ashes to the woods, nature’s cycle is complete.
This does not mean that all burning of wood is a good thing or sustainable.Read more
This has been a very difficult year for PEI’s tourism and cultural industries. It looks like 2021 may not be much better, as both businesses and visitors typically make vacation plans well in advance. This advance planning is almost impossible when restrictions can change with little notice. Even if the coming COVID vaccine is rolled out this spring, the summer of 2021 will still be a difficult season for tourism.
Our tourism industry is three times larger per capita when compared to other provinces. 1 out of 10 jobs on PEI are a part of this sector. Some businesses have had to close for the season, and even the ones staying open have seen, at best, 50% of normal activity.Read more
Something extraordinary happened last week in our little province. A group of ordinary Islanders showed us all how we can be both responsible and compassionate towards each other. Early in the week, young people heeded government’s call and showed up in droves to be tested for COVID. Then they turned right around and joined forces in perhaps the most gentle and generous protest ever, to raise over $13,000 in one day for the soup kitchen in Charlottetown.
Raising money for worthwhile causes is an Island tradition. I remember when the late, great Stuart MacLean was here a few years ago, and he answered his own rhetorical question, “What do Islanders do?” with the answer – “They do fundraisers!” But this was different.
It was different in a number of important and inspiring ways. Firstly, it happened largely within a community where you don’t expect to find stashes of excess cash – young people. Secondly, I described it above as a protest. It happened almost spontaneously in response to what this community saw as cynical virtue signalling from another group; a group they accuse of actually contributing to a hardship many in this age group are experiencing – ridiculously expensive housing on PEI. Thirdly, at a time when so many aspects of Christmas and other religious festivals are being co-opted by consumerism, this activity rang true as a genuine expression of loving thy neighbour.Read more
Looking back to my childhood, this is the time of the year when our family developed enduring and unique traditions. Some of those have stayed with me into adulthood as Ann and I developed customs with our own growing family. In the midst of all the seasonal celebrating, taking the opportunity to look back at the year is one thing that I have always liked to do. During the course of a year a lot of living happens. Getting out the calendar reminds us of the range of experiences that have made up the last twelve months and provides an opportunity to give thanks for things that may have been forgotten along the way.
At the end of this legislative session, I want to do the same sort of thing. Looking back to a year ago, the contrast is stark. At the end of the fall sitting in 2019, there was the usual flurry of seasonal events, visits from distant family members to look forward to, community concerts, parties, dropping in to friends’ houses, and planning your way around the levees that were only a few weeks away. This year my empty calendar is a reminder of the year that COVID stole.Read more
What does living in poverty look like? It can look like a lot of things. It can look quite normal on the outside. It can look like a mom walking her kids to school. It can look like a teen learning algebra in class. It can look like a baby being rocked to sleep under the light of a Christmas tree.
Hiding in plain sight
Poverty doesn’t always look like what we see on TV. Poverty can hide in plain sight. This is what’s happening on PEI. One in five children are living in poverty. And unfortunately, that number is growing.Read more
This year, it’s hard to know what kind of news story we are going to wake up to. There has been so much heartache and loss during 2020 that sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Some days it feels like the year has been going on for decades and other days it feels like it is flashing before my eyes and I can’t keep up. The critical role our government plays in ensuring our most vulnerable have access to programs and services that provide health, safety and dignity has become even more clear.
I have spent countless hours researching addictions and talking to advocates on P.E.I. I have stood in the legislature and advocated on their behalf for better services. But never have I felt what I felt when I saw the picture of a dark culvert, filled with mattresses, clothing and other personal belongings. It was a glimpse into the life of a homeless drug user on P.E.I. I felt my stomach sink.Read more