Byrne makes third energy cable campaign priority

Mitch MacDonald
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Charlottetown NDP candidate Joe Byrne and his wife Rosa trip the light fanrastic during a campaign rally for him in Charlottetown Sunday.

A third energy cable linking P.E.I. to the mainland will be a top priority for Charlottetown NDP candidate Joe Byrne during his campaign for the May 2 federal election.

Byrne announced the strategy, aimed at reducing electricity costs for Islanders, during a campaign rally Sunday attended by more than 100 supporters at the Hillsborough Community Centre.

Byrne said one of the federal government’s roles is to provide balance across the country by making everyday commodities, like electricity, available at a reasonable cost.

Which is where a third cable, funded by the federal and provincial governments, fits in, said Byrne.

“A third cable just makes so much sense,” said Byrne. “It’s going to increase our capacity to buy electricity at cheaper rates from on a longer term basis off the grid and that’s going to have an immediate impact for reducing the cost of electricity for all Islanders.”

The cable would provide other benefits besides reducing the cost of electricity, added Byrne.

The project would gradually pay for itself by reducing the $8 million cost Islanders pay Maritime Electric each year to keep diesel generators on standby, he said.

The cable would also help Island businesses producing wind-generated electricity by providing a way to reach possible customers outside the province.

This would stimulate the generation of clean renewable energy from the province, creating an alternate energy job field on P.E.I., added Byrne.

Sunday’s rally wasn’t the first time a third energy cable for P.E.I. has been brought up.

The former federal Liberal government had made the third cable an election promise but the plan was ignored following the government's defeat.

The provincial government sent a request for the cable to the federal government during last year’s fall sitting of legislature.

Egmont Conservative MP Gail Shea responded by saying the federal government wouldn’t pay for the cable.

Premier Robert Ghiz has made the third cable a priority in recent talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Byrne said Shea failed to deal with the issue.

“I understand that no is an answer too, but I think an MP is elected not just to take no as an answer but to keep making the case from an economic point of view, from an environmental point of view and frankly, from a human point of view.”

There was much support for Byrne’s point of view at the rally, attended by a largely Latino and newcomers to P.E.I. crowd.

Byrne, who earlier in his career worked as a missionary in the Dominican Republic for five years, began his speech to the crowd in Spanish.

Adaluz Cieria was there to support the candidate, after first meeting him when she immigrated to Canada from El Salvador 22 years ago.

She said she’s always been able to depend on Byrne.

“We’ve been in different situations and, no matter what, you could call him in the middle of the night, anytime, and he would help,” she said.

Irene Lopez and her mother Margarita had similar views on Byrne.

“When my mother came here 18 years ago, we called Joey,” said Irene.

Byrne met Margarita at the airport when she immigrated to Canada and has remained close since, considering him part of her “Canadian family.”

“He has a special gift to connect to other people in his life, no matter race or age,” she said. “It’s not just the Latin community, all Canadian people need him.”

Byrne has been a volunteer and social advocate for almost 30 years and has worked with newcomers and immigrants since the mid 1980s.

He said, if elected, he hopes to bring lessons learned from those years of experience and his missionary work to Parliament.

“(After) working with people that, no matter what conditions they lived in, were hopeful for change,” he said, adding that he’s hopeful of bringing change to the province if elected.

One of the first changes will be ensuring Islanders have comparable electricity prices to other provinces by building the cable, he said.

“This third cable is going to be one of the top priorities and I won’t stop, I won’t stop fighting for it until we get it.”

Organizations: Hillsborough Community Centre.Byrne, Maritime Electric, Dominican Republic

Geographic location: P.E.I., Iceland, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Darcie Lanthier
    October 06, 2014 - 23:37

    What a terrible idea. $100 or $200 million dollars to be paid by all taxpayers even the ones who aren't Maritime Electric customers. How much energy could we generate with this kind of investment?

  • Parkdale Liberal
    April 12, 2011 - 10:26

    Joe Byrne's campaign is not pulling any punches on Sean Casey and I love it. On CFCY the Byrne campaign is calling out Casey on his long standing record of opposing minimum wage increases for Prince Edward Islanders. I had heard this before but apparently Casey was on the radio defending his action with a " I had no choice" line.Reminds me of the debate back in the Eighties when Mulroney pulverized Turner on the same line. When pushed on going through with Trudeau's Senate appointments Turner said- I had no choice. It was my first and only Tory vote. 1984, I think. I will not make the same mistake again. This whole family is going for Joe Byrne this time. My daughter works at minimum wage, Casey, if you are reading these then please note I am heading out today to get more votes for Joe Byrne.You deserve a good walloping, For sure.

  • Ruddy Beth
    April 12, 2011 - 06:37

    Downtown Observer, how is the excellent status loving of hanging out with the Caseys going? Are you managing to help massage away the truth of Sean's main message to voters- More for the Caseys and the taxpayer is good for it !!!!!! Not very workable in the downtown. And most of the city actually. Anyhow as long as you are enjoying the intense superficiality of their company. That 's what is really important. For some. I guess.

  • Time for a change
    April 11, 2011 - 15:49

    With the incumbent MP stepping down, now is the time to look for a change in representation. Joe Byrne has the enthusiasm and he has good ideas. Such abilities get a lot of things done, regardless of party. Joe is worth everyone's consideration.

  • what are thye saying
    April 11, 2011 - 14:15

    I was listening to the news today on the radio and this 3rd cable is very interesting. First they say a 3rd cable will cut out the need for a back up gererator, then go on to say the 3rd cable would give PEI a larger SURPLUS of electicity FROM WIND GENERATOR THAT WOULD BE SOLD. Can anyone out there please explain to me Why if we have a SURPLUS of power are we willing to spend millions to bring another cable in and pay for electrcity when we have a surplus of power here that we are selling for less that we buy it for??? I understand that PEI likes to think of itself as different but this is senseless.

    • sasha
      April 11, 2011 - 14:57

      There are two things are work here. First, power cannot be stored and second, power can travel both ways over the grid. At this moment we need backup as if one of two cables dies, second one is not enough to keep us going. With 3rd cable, there would be no need for backup generator, as this 3rd cable would be backup - so millions spent every year on generator maintenance would be saved. This saving should directly translate into money every one of us pays every month for power bill. Wind power is great but it is not available consistently year round. At the time of the year, when we have it and do not need it, unless we can sell it and send it away it is lost. This 3rd cable would at that time be used to send that power of the Island and bring money back here. End result would be less power outages, money saved, money made and there is potential here for new jobs related to producing wind power - everyone wins.

  • Checker
    April 11, 2011 - 12:16

    It is not a question of whether or not the Island needs a third cable but more a question of what we will do with it IF we get it. History has shown that uindertakings of this nature provide a small beneit for those that must bear the cost of it. They do however, seem to help create hugh profits for corporate interest. Take our oil reserves for example. Ninety percent of the oil goes to the US where they sell it to the consumer for much less than we pay here. Look at Quebec Hydro. They have defrauded the people of Newfoundland, (with the help of our political system and higher courts), one of the most valuable resources Newfoundland ever had.. Newfoundlanders receive very little from the proceeds of the Churchill Falls project save frustration and a screwing over by the federal govt. We can,t let that happen here with a third cable. We don,t want a third cable to help support the shareholders of Maritime Electric at the expense of Islanders. The taxpayer wants to know ALL the facts before a deal is signed.

  • Gino Berrussi
    April 11, 2011 - 11:45

    Wish I lived in Charlottetown for the election because I would be voting for Joe Byrne no question about it. He is an honourable man to the last. You people in Charlottetown are lucky to have someone like him to vote for. You have a real choice.

  • DowntownObserver
    April 11, 2011 - 11:09

    Hey Ruddy Beth; Good narrative! Are you sure you haven't been hanging out with the Browns too much!

  • Parkdale Liberal
    April 11, 2011 - 10:34

    The difference on the cable issue is that Joe Byrne really means what he says. I was convinced of his honesty when he came by our place a few days ago. I do not care about the NDP not being able to form a government. Michael Ignatieff will never form a government either.This is going to be a minority or a majority Conservative government. It will be up to lower priority places like Charlottetown to stand up for themselves with the most honest and articulate representatives possible. Joe Byrne is the kind of skilled and tenacious MP that Charlottetown needs. I was disgusted with Sean Casey's coronation as the Liberal candidate. There should have been a race for it. I don't know of any Liberals truly excited about Sean Casey. Five votes in this fourth generation Liberal household going to Joe Byrne. For sure. We have already decided this a family. And nobody is going to convince us otherwise. Not this time.And I do mean nobody!

  • Trevor Leclerc
    April 11, 2011 - 10:09

    Garth is correct. the NDP will not form the government. If it is a Liberal minority, Sean Casey will be a small voice in a large caucus. If it is a Conservative minority, Sean will be a small voice in Opposition. In either case, Joe Byrne's would be a REALLY important vote, and PEI intersts suddenly have even more importance than even a abinet Minister's lobying brings. I am sure even Garth would have to acknowledge this.

  • Trevor Leclerc
    April 11, 2011 - 10:02

    The best voting strategy is vote NDP in Charlottetown. The NDP almost won Charlottetown before and a a swing vote has more influence with any minority government than a 1 backbencher among 230. who CAN ONLY VOTE AND VOICE THE PARTY LINE. Joe can speak for us and is BEHOLDEN TO NO ONE BUT US.

  • Trevor Leclerc
    April 11, 2011 - 09:45

    Voting NDP would be the best strategic vote in Charlottetown. A critical swing vote in Parliament courted by a minority government has MUCH more influence than one backbencher among 230, permitted to voice and vote only the Party Line. I like a NEW face in politics, not tied to the same old interests BEHOLDEN TO NO ONE but us.

  • Sandra MacDonald
    April 11, 2011 - 09:44

    Go Joe Go....

  • Bill Stephenson
    April 11, 2011 - 09:09

    According to Sean Casey's website videos, he was way out in front of this one. There was no third cable in the federal budget, so there is no way Donna Profit can say that this is a Harper priority. It was also missing from his PEI stump speech. It is really down to Sean Casey and Joe Byrne. Both are likeable gentlemen. The difficulty for Joe Byrne is that his party cannot form the next government.

  • Ruddy Beth
    April 11, 2011 - 08:40

    Joe Byrne's campaign is going very well across the city and there is a very real possibility for a new and different MP for Charlottetown. Liberal MLAs including PNP Robert Mitchell are out trying to undo Joe's progress with voters risking their own political futures with every step they take with Sean Casey. Byrne is on top of the issues as with this platform plank on the energy cable and the need to lower power bills for people struggling to make ends meet. Casey is an elitist who cares nor knows nothing about people who are struggling in life. He is using Liberal propaganda out of Ottawa to try to snare Shawn Murphy's votes. Sean Casey is no Shawn Murphy and Sean Casey is no Joe Byrne. Casey is the anointed choice of the local Liberal machine and for them he would be very helpful. Not the rest of us. Donna Profit is the invisible in the media and would end up just being another Harper puppet MP. Go Joe Go! Time for change in Charlottetown.

  • Local Issues
    April 11, 2011 - 08:34

    Nice to see local candidate bringing up and standing for local issue that actually matters rather than just parroting polices written by his party leader. +1 vote for NDP Now lets wait for other two candidates to also realize that we here pay the highest power rates in Canada and that this cable actually might make sense.

  • Great to see Joe on Side
    April 11, 2011 - 08:07

    Great to see Joe on side with a long standing Liberal initiative. Since 2006 the provincial Liberal party has been pushing for a third cable. In fact, in 2006 the federal Liberal government was prepared to start laying the cable. When Harper came to power he cancelled this Liberal initiative. Since then the Ghiz provincial Liberal government has continued to push for a third cable, but the federal Tory government has been dragging it's feet on the issue. Richard Brown, Provincial Liberal Energy Minister has been pushing for this cable at every turn. So it is great to see Joe get on side with this much needed Liberal initiative. He might be running for the wrong party?

  • Garth Staples
    April 11, 2011 - 05:51

    A promise removed from reality. The NDP won't form the Govt. The promise threfore becomes an idea only.

  • former PC supporter
    April 11, 2011 - 01:24

    Go JOE Go ! Ya got my family's support.