Tag Archives: Prince Edward Island

How the government is trying to save the ‘birthplace’ of Canada

I hate how we treat heritage properties like this in Canada.

Province House in Prince Edward Island

But while our union is still sound a century-and-a-half later, the foundations of its cradle are falling apart – and the government is working furiously to save it.

Province House is in bad shape. Inside, mortar between Maritime sandstone has turned to dust, timber is rotting and plaster has fallen off the walls. The Prince Edward Island legislature moved out two years ago after decades in the east wing, and the building is closed for renovation work until at least 2020.

“It is a sick building, you might say,” Greg Shaw, a project manager at Parks Canada, told The Globe and Mail.

In 2013, as PEI got ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown conference, crews began some cosmetic masonry work on the outside of Province House. They soon discovered that minor blemishes were actually symptoms of deeper problems. Investigators were dispatched to peel back the layers of the building, and they found that decades of water damage and past stopgap repairs had taken a greater toll on everything from the roof to the floors than anyone had thought.

“You don’t know, really, what you have until you open the thing up,” Mr. Shaw said.

Thanks to an agreement reached when Justin Trudeau’s father was prime minister, Province House is the federal government’s responsibility to fix – even though the building is still owned by PEI. When the memorandum of agreement between Ottawa and Charlottetown was signed in 1974, Parks Canada was using most of the available office space, and agreed to be responsible for maintenance of the building for 99 years. Since then, though, the needs of PEI’s legislature grew and it took over two-thirds of the space.

The imbalance has led the federal government to rethink the deal. In 2014, senior public servants at Parks Canada recommended Ottawa figure out how to get out of its Province House obligations, according to briefing material obtained through Access to Information laws. The PEI government says it has no interest in renegotiating the deal, and points out it covered the cost of relocating the legislative chamber while the building was closed.

In a statement, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna would only say that the federal government “is committed to [the building’s] long-term conservation and has invested $41-million towards this goal.”

That bill – roughly the same cost as a proposed plan to fix up the Prime Minister’s Ottawa residence at 24 Sussex Dr. – may not be enough.

Also kudos to the PEI officials that managed to talk the Government in Canada to pay for the restoration of their legislature building.  The rest of Canada salutes you.

Defending Mike Duffy

Like a lot of you out there, I grew up watching Mike Duffy on television.  I thought he was a fair interviewer that held both sides accountable.  When he became a senator, he became increasingly partisan which I thought was an odd direction for him to go with but if that is what he thought, that is what he thought.

When the scandal hit over his residency, I was a little shocked by it because I see what he is doing and what Patrick Brazeau being two different things.  Let’s look at what Duffy did.

He was named to the Senate from P.E.I. despite living in Ottawa for most of his life.  He went out and bought and renovated a small P.E.I. cabin in Cavendish, P.E.I. to establish his residency in.  Critics say that he spends most of his time in Ottawa and he shouldn’t get a housing allowance and yet he is expected to keep a second residence in PEI.  This is different from other senators in which way?  The truth is that he spends most of this time in Ottawa as a senator.  They meet for about 88 working days a year.  When you include in holidays and weekends is about 6 months of the year which means that he does need two residences.  Duffy’s mistake is that he used his housing allowance to pay for his PEI home and not his Ottawa residence.  So if he had sold his home and bought a condo in Ottawa, everything would have been okay?  Let’s use some common sense on this.

As for why his neighbours haven’t seen a lot of him lately, the senate is in session and therefore he would be living in Ottawa.  They had some neighbours complaining that they never see the Duffy’s.  First of all there are people who own cabins at Arlington Beach that I have never seen and Cavendish is a lot bigger than Arlington.  It also could be that the Duffy’s enjoy their privacy.  Even more scandalous is that they even spend some of their social time in both Ottawa and Cavendish.

As for the health card, I love my cabin at Arlington Beach but if I was sick, I want to be at home.  For me that is Saskatoon and for Duffy, that appears to be Ottawa.  While it looked back when he wanted an expedited card, I don’t have a problem with him having an Ontario health card.  If he is going to spending most of his time in Ottawa, it makes sense to me.

There are no Senate rules for residency in your home province and until there are, we should back off Senator’s like Mike Duffy.  He’s a part of a weird undefined system.  I don’t see fraud or even a scam.  If anything it seems that Duffy never realized that once he turned partisan, the attacks would follow.  As we have seen now, they have.  The difference for Duffy is that he is on the receiving end of them.