Crane warns debt must be reduced

Teresa Wright
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Issue so grave it could force Maritime Union, PC leader says

P.E.I. Conservative Leader Olive Crane greets Keith Sudsbury of Kensington during the party’s annual leader’s dinner in Charlottetown Wednesday night.

Opposition Leader Olive Crane says she is working on a plan to tackle the province’s debt — an issue she says is of such grave concern it could force the province into Maritime union.

Speaking to about 500 people at the Progressive Conservatives annual leader’s dinner Wednesday night, Crane said the province’s economy is struggling with a massive net debt, which currently stands at almost $2 billion.

At the same time, she said Islanders must also face the reality the province’s economy is changing.

“We are at a serious fork in the road. We have to make the right choices because our future survival as a province depends upon these choices,” she said.

“The debt train this government has all of us on will ultimately lead us to bankruptcy or Maritime union.”

The notion of Maritime union garnered national headlines just one day ago when Conservative Senator Mike Duffy said publicly he and other senators believe union would be the best way to ease the economic difficulties facing all three Maritime provinces.

Crane said Wednesday she does not want to see that happen.

“I want to be very clear with everyone in this room which side of the Maritime union debate I am on. I am going to work and ensure this beautiful province that we all love remains a province,” she said.

That’s why work is underway within the PC party to develop a plan to tackle the provincial debt, Crane announced to the crowd.

She spoke at length about the province’s economy and suggested government must develop policies that foster better private-sector economic growth.

Only private-sector growth will raise the revenues P.E.I. needs to fund progress, she said.

Newly minted party president Blake Doyle echoed those sentiments in his address to the crowd.

He said going forward as president, he hopes to reinforce the idea the party must “focus on (its) core principles of economic growth, less government and job creation.”

Crane charged the Ghiz administration has not done enough to create a climate of private-sector growth in P.E.I.

She said there is to a need for job-training initiatives that are too costly

for many to help them achieve better career opportunities.

She pointed to a need for more affordable energy options in P.E.I. and the major opportunity she says is not being explored in a proposed eastern oil pipeline from Alberta.

She said a declining population facing the future of the province reveals the need for more family-centred policies.

In an election-style pitch, Crane told the room she believes Islanders are looking for change and hope for the future.

“Hope is what Islanders crave for their future and as leaders we must take that hope and turn it into action,” she said.

“If we want change, we have to work toward it with honesty and openness.”

Organizations: Maritime Union, Progressive Conservatives

Geographic location: P.E.I., Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Thank you Olive
    November 29, 2012 - 14:25

    Thank you for calling this government out on their fiscal craziness....Sheridan and Ghiz are spending like drunken fools and its time to reel them in-did you see the cars this clowns are driving on the taxpayers dime? 2013 Ford Edges and 2013 Escapes-whatever happened to basic Corollas and Civics which would cost taxpayers a fraction of these luxury vehicles-keep up the good work Mrs Crane!

  • More political comedy
    November 29, 2012 - 14:01

    "She said there is to a need for job-training initiatives that are too costly for many to help them achieve better career opportunities." Well to Olive and every other comical little politician on this charming province of ours I say, what is the point of more job-training initiatives for people to be able to achieve better career opportunities if there are indeed NO career opportunities to be found for them here on PEI. I last year took it upon myself to return to school, I took a trade, I took on the costly task of bettering myself to hopefully open myself up to better career opportunities like she speaks of in her little quote. Well, guess what, unless I uproot my family and leave this dying/dead province my efforts were in vain and I continue to be in a position where I am taking jobs that I hate but I'd rather work than sit home and cry like so many, I am not above any job that will at least let me make ends meet. I would sure prefer to be working in the trade that I studied because I love it but reality is I am on lists behind about two years worth of previous graduates in the same trade because there is no work in it here. Most likely at the end of the school year we will move so I can go further with my trade and frankly build a better future for my family. So, in closing, sure, go to school here, get your training but as soon as you get that, be ready to move, there is nothing here. What Olive is proposing is basically train for better opportunities that this crooked Ghiz government and the Tories won't be able to provide. Both sides of the political aisle make me sick.

  • John
    November 29, 2012 - 12:48

    I think it's refreshing that someone is talking about the financial issues our province is facing. I for one believe that we are heading towards a disaster. I believe that PC's are standing up for an issue that will be the biggest issue in the next election. People need to get engaged on this issue and figure out how we can tackle debt and deficit.

  • John W.A.Curtis
    November 29, 2012 - 11:23

    I said it before companies that use low wages to compete are subject to takeovers. Islanders refuse to allow high wage industries so they don't compete for their workforce. This has left our province with an aging population and a 2.4 billion dollar debt. Political Union will eliminate the provincial boundary and allow companies to come into P.E.I.

  • Joe Blow
    November 29, 2012 - 11:12

    Good for Crane to want change and hope for things to get better than the Ghiz government has treated us Islanders...nobody could possibly do a worse job than the Ghiz Liberals have done. But I think the change that most Islanders are talking about is the change from the typical PC and Liberal leadership and let the NDP or the Green party have their turn at power!! As Islanders we have had to deal with Liberal power until Islanders get sick of the lies and corruption and then in throw away election, give power to the PC's until the Liberals suck up to Islanders enough to gain voters trust again. Well the Liberals don't deserve our trust, this vicious old cycle needs to end and so does the Liberals reputation. People need to see that the Liberals are not good for anybody in Canada....including PEI!! There is a good reason why their party is behind the NDP across the Nation.....they are a corrupt party with the wrong morals. I respect Crane for the change she is trying to make and if she wins the next election....then good for her...we'll give her the chance she earned. But I just hope that Islanders finally see that the Liberals are falling all across Canada for a reason and that the NDP is a much better option for Islanders and Canadians. We cannot continue on the path we are travelling on. The Liberals have shown time and time again that their personal agenda is more important to them than doing their job, which is to look after PEI and the Island taxpayers that pay their wages. Its time we choose a government that intends on looking after Islanders and spending their hard earned tax dollars in a positive and constructive manner. Needless spending and stealing within government cannot be tolerated any longer.

  • Tracey Allen
    November 29, 2012 - 09:35

    First off almost $2 billion in debt - that is about $14,000 per Islander! Maritime Union will only ensure we are all travelling all over the region (with high gas prices) to receive services. And both parties and the federal government are looking to the private sector businesses to pull the rabbit out of the hat - will not happen for many reasons. A great book to put things into perspective and to provide a solution (which I believe will work especially well for PEI) is The End of Economic Growth by Richard Heinberg. PEI has so much going for it in terms of size, community, and resources - we as a province can land very well if we can just get our financial house in order.

  • Buddy
    November 29, 2012 - 09:35

    Olive Crane couldn't balance the budget of a lemonade stand let alone a province.

    • Garth Staples
      November 29, 2012 - 11:14

      Apparently Liberal Minister Sheridan can't either. LOL!

  • Yikes
    November 29, 2012 - 08:48

    While she does not support Maritime Union today.. she does see it as a serious option. Stop talking about the plan to reduce the size of government and 'support' local business. Details are long over due from Ms. Crane. The tone of this letter makes it clear that the HST would stay in place with the Conservatives coming to power and government services cut. Show us what would be cut to reduce the size of government and where the additional revenue would come from...

  • Third Political Option Needed
    November 29, 2012 - 08:44

    For far to long know we have had the Pepsi and Coke parties running the province. Both parties are essentially sitting square in the centre of the political spectrum and pander to the same old same old. Here's hoping the NDP can finally get some decent candidates for next election. A 3rd political party is BADLY needed here on PEI if there is to be real hope for change.

    • Uncle Wally
      November 29, 2012 - 10:13

      What we need is 2/3 of our existing MLA's, some form of proportional representation, call back legislation and a much, much tighter accountability system. These things could be put solidly into place within 5 - 9 years. To not have deep and meaningful conversations about these possibilities and other things right now is an embarrassment.

    • intobed
      November 29, 2012 - 19:47

      What we need are NO political parties, just elected representatives who work together to reach consensus for the best solution to problems. No opposition, no patronage, no back room boys. There will be no fixed elections either, just opinion polls new each month to track each representative's approval rating by the district they represent. Anytime three polls show less that 50% approval, automatic election for that representative. So you say this will never work. How do you feel about a bankrupt province losing most everything in a Maritime Union? A minor suburb to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick?

    • johnny come lately
      November 29, 2012 - 20:31

      @ Uncle Wally... I would love to see all of those reforms implemented. I would like to see 2 term limits for politicians and fixed election dates like they have the U.S. But the reality of the matter is that PEI has too many expenses and not enough revenue and what little revenue there is is dwindling. Even with HST it will still not balance the books. We are failing as a province and are the Greece of Canada. And the real reason is health care - that monster is chewing up well over 40-50% of our entire budget each year. PEI is a wonderful place but we don't need to be a province. Health care is a provincial responsibility - let a larger province of the Maritimes handle the health care file. PEI as a munciipality would be quite easy to govern if we only had municipal services to worry about. But we still need the reforms you mention.

  • Looks Like
    November 29, 2012 - 08:23

    the PC party is about to produce their 'magic wand'.