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Mary MacKay - Viking Voyage

A first for everything - A furry-faced friend on the wharf at Straitsview, N.L., peeked around the Be Faithful 2 sailboat’s awning, followed by a smiling face of the human kind. “I hear someone wants a shower here,” spoke the latter, which happened to be Barbara Blake, whose home was just a jaunt down the road from the Parks Canada National Historic Site of L’Anse aux Meadows. Charlottetown sailors Geoff and Jane Ralling and I had been in this northern Newfoundland community for a few days visiting the Viking archeological site before it was time to set sail for the Gulf of St. Lawrence and our Prince Edward Island home, following a route that could have been taken by the Norse explorers 1,000 years ago. “I’ve left the door open. Towels and facecloths are by the sink,” my generous host offered, after giving me rudimentary directions to her house in Straitsview where the Blakes and Hedderson mailboxes rule the roads. To be sure and to avoid any lurid B&E shower-stealing charges on my part, I checked the route carefully to avoid accidentally taking a surprise advantage of any other local resident’s open door policy. The Rallings tell me that’s what happens in Newfoundland – you land at the wharf, tell them what you need and help usually arrives: fuel, fish, a friendly offer of the use of a vehicle. Well for me, that gift of a shower was a first and it was one of many for this Viking Voyage. I’d never really even been to sea before, let alone…

Photo : Mary MacKay August 15, 2014

Ryan Ross - Between the lines -- Ryan Ross

Where will Wade MacLauchlan run? - With an early election a near certainty the nominations for Liberal candidates in ridings across the province are filling up fast. Leader in waiting Wade MacLauchlan’s name is notably absent from the list. As of Feb. 21 MacLauchlan will officially become the Liberal leader and by default the premier. He also won’t have a seat in the legislature and hasn’t declared where he plans to run. If he were to run in his home riding MacLauchlan would seek a seat in York-Oyster Bed, but the problem is that district already has a nominated candidate. Transportation Minister Robert Vessey, who is also one of MacLauchlan’s campaign chairs, holds the seat and received the nomination way back in May 2014. He was the first candidate the party nominated for the next election. That means MacLauchlan would lose a prominent cabinet minister as a candidate if he wants to run in his home riding. So what are his other options? Unless more MLAs say they won’t run again the only district without a candidate is Cornwall-Meadowbank, thanks to Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley deciding not to re-offer. MacLauchlan has been playing his cards close to his chest so we’ll all have to wait and see what he wants to do. But with a spring election likely on the horizon we’ll probably find out sooner rather than later.

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Photo : Ryan Ross February 11, 2015

Teresa Wright - Between the lines -- Teresa Wright

The matter of MLA expenses - Something important happened on Friday in the world of P.E.I. politics, but it may have flown under many people's radars. Backbench MLAs and MLAs in the Opposition and third party offices voluntarily, although reluctantly, agreed to start telling you how much of your money they have been claiming in expenses. It’s a milestone for openness and transparency in P.E.I. and one that may never have happened if not for a questionable disbursement of some of this taxpayer money being brought to light in the pages of this newspaper. In January, The Guardian revealed details of how Opposition chief of staff Kent Avery was paid over $18,000 in taxpayer money seven months after he had been laid off from the Opposition office in 2013 and after he had collected four months of severance pay. How could this happen and how did it stay quiet for over two years? The answer: a lack of transparency. It leads to problems. The operating grants of the government and Opposition offices are not public and not accessible through Freedom of Information legislation. Of course, the vast majority of MLAs are not living lavish lifestyles on the taxpayers’ dime, but most of them have been getting up to $300 a month for “expenses” and didn’t have to submit a receipt or prove they spent any money at all. They were simply given a cheque every month. Does your company do that for you? Once the decision was made by the legislative management committee to start making this spending public, I’m told…

Photo : Teresa  Wright April 18, 2016