Local artist Suzanne O'Callaghan writes a message on a pillar of Province House during a protest Monday afternoon. The protest saw more than 200 Islanders voice a number of concerns. Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Island MLAs may have some extra reading to do when walking into legislature today.
A mass of protesters rallied Monday at Province House to blast the Liberal government over a plethora of issues. The record-setting warm November day saw more than 200 Islanders show up for the protest.
With the rally occurring a day before the speech from the throne, protesters used the opportunity to scribble their concerns on the street and walkway in front of legislature.
One protester, local artist Suzanne O’Callaghan took to the pillar of Province House to write her message.
“Cutting funding to art, culture, education is a road to nowhere!!!,” wrote O’Callaghan in all capital letters. “Give us back arts funding and the dollars you are wasting destroying our environment and compromising our children’s future!!!”
The one-size-fits-all protest focused on no key issue, as each of the more than a dozen speakers covered a different topic. These included, among others; Plan B, HST, dialysis services and other health issues, reproductive rights, electoral reform, land use, proportional representation, eradicating poverty, switching to more sustainable energy use, the provincial nominee program, as well as voter apathy.
“(The government should) take into consideration all the factors that go into creating personal and community well being,” said emcee Roy Johnston, who also “fiddled for freedom,” at the rally.
“Did we see that in Plan B?” asked Johnston, who received a large no from the crowd. “Responsible also means being responsive to Islanders. Listening and seriously considering what we are saying and acting on our concerns.”
While the protest covered a range of concerns, Chris Ortenburger of the P.E.I. Citizen’s Alliance said the Plan B highway realignment has been considered “the poster child of what is wrong with the current government.”
“It's the heart of undemocracy,” said Ortenburger. “It’s been pushed by government whose misled us and that’s probably because they know the weaknesses of their position, not ours.”
The alliance had set up a booth at the protest selling cards, anti-Plan B license plates and t-shirts.
While much of the protest consisted of speakers reiterating what they have already said during previous rallies, one fresh voice was teenager Liese Ortenburger, who offered a look to the future in regards to the current level of voter apathy.
Liese said little will change unless others her age become more active in politics.
“If they expect corruption and arrogance in huge majority governments, that what’s we're going to get,” she said.
Liese added that voter apathy is frustrating for all involved.
“It is frustrating for the people who don’t care, listening to their more passionate friends like myself, constantly railing about the government. However, I don’t have much sympathy for them,” she said to much applause.
The rally ended with protesters locking arms and chanting for the government to address their concerns “for the love of P.E.I.”