Opposition questions sale of mobile kitchen

Ryan Ross
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P.E.I. Association of Exhibitions bought the Cuisine Machine in 2006 with financial help from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the provincial government and the not-for-profit FoodTrust

The P.E.I. Association of Exhibitions is considering selling its Cuisine Machine mobile kitchen that it purchased for $220,000 with government help in 2006.

The P.E.I. Association of Exhibitions is looking to sell a mobile kitchen it bought with government help and opposition MLA James Aylward wants to know why the province is allowing the sale.

Aywlard raised the issue during Friday's question period and later told The Guardian his concern was that the equipment was purchased with taxpayers' money and was meant to help sell local products across P.E.I.

"I would have thought that there was a condition that it stay within the provincial exhibitions and fairs," Aylward said.

The exhibition association bought the Cuisine Machine in 2006 with financial help from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the provincial government and the not-for-profit FoodTrust.

ACOA contributed $165,000 to the purchase while the exhibition association spent $22,000, various provincial departments added $26,500 and FoodTrust gave $7,000.

In total, the mobile kitchen cost more than $220,000.

A representative from the exhibition association told The Guardian it was considering selling the equipment and confirmed it had been in talks with businessman Kevin Murphy, but would not discuss any further details of the potential sale.

Agriculture Minister George Webster responded during question period by saying the government doesn't own the machine, but his understanding was that the exhibition association was selling it because it was underutilized.

Aylward said it was utilized extensively but will now have a sole operator.

"I really see no reason why it would have been sold off."

The opposition also spent much of question period asking about loans to Murphy Investments and associated companies, including money spent to renovate its brewery in Charlottetown.

Innovation Minister Al Roach said it was a good company that paid its loans and the government made money off the interest.

"Companies like that this government is more than happy to do business with," Roach said.

In speaking with The Guardian, Opposition Leader Steven Myers said it showed there wasn't a level playing field for all Island businesses.

"They're the premier's friends, no question."



Organizations: P.E.I. Association of Exhibitions, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Murphy Investments

Geographic location: Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Upper Canada Taxpayer
    May 13, 2014 - 18:48

    According to where the taxes originated to pay for the food vehicle, the ownership should go back to the federal ACOA dept and then up for bid through the Crown Assets Disposal Corp. All these comments about the property paid for by Ottawa taxes belonging to PEI government is outrageous.... If the Ghiz regime wants to give gifts to local supporters of the Liberal party of PEI they should pay ACOA their investment and take ownership..... The Ottawa ATM machine has closed for the season....!!!!!!!

  • The Urban Oysterman
    May 13, 2014 - 08:55

    We might look at purchasing it and enter it in the food truck circuit here in Upper Canada, jointly partnering with PEI. Sort of like flypaper we'll stick the eater with a some great shellfish and give them coupons to visit The Island. It will get better use and more eyes will look at it, than it holding a functional interest from June 25th to August the 15th. We'll have to throw in some ideas of the actual $$ in the truck to pull it about! Most food trucks are self driven. Put it off Island. I guess it is seen the Murphy Group is in a position to make the best of an idea. That they have all the balls in the air and this is a fit. The entrepreneur has not the capital to drive a mobile operation. That the operating lines of credit are limited to launch this project in any other direction than what a monopoly has to offer in relationships to acquiring the assets to the financial demands needed to do the same.

  • don
    May 12, 2014 - 21:53

    this sale to me has a smell. why not use the mobile unit for the 2014 party. but as i said before murphy wants murphy gets.

  • lacross
    May 12, 2014 - 21:12

    The reason the Culinary Alliance can't buy the thing is that Ghiz wants to give Kevin Murphy a present, so go and buy your own, Culinary Alliance, you can probably get ACOA money and other taxpayers money, and after a few years Kevin will need to up-date this one, and we can do the trick all over again, - .

  • wallace
    May 12, 2014 - 21:07

    amazing how the same person/company can keep on getting 'good' deals from government. If this is on the level, tell us where it was advertised for sale, what the appraisal is, along with the asking price. Also tell us who has shown interest in purchasing it. With all the high paid help in dept. of Agr. one would think some imagination could be spurred to come up with a use for this expensive 'gadget'. Liberal waste and cronyism again, - get them out of here.

  • Doesn't seem right
    May 12, 2014 - 13:35

    I'm disappointed by this. Several ag organizations supported the purchase of this trailer and equipment back in the day as a way of showcasing PEI food products. We have a Culinary Alliance here now with a major budget. Why can't they buy it or at least assume ownership of the trailer so that it could be available to the industry? If the Murphy's buy it, it will no longer be used for the intended purpose in any way, shape or form. This should not be allowed to happen.

  • don
    May 12, 2014 - 12:49

    what ever the murphy's wants they get. ghiz will make sure as they are all apart of the ghiz family and he has shown that many many times. and the trailer will be sold for a few hundred bucks. wait and see.

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    May 12, 2014 - 12:41

    So does the money from this sale even come close to the cost of the equipment . Has there been an appraisal done on the said equipment ,surely it's not being sold at a loss ,and will all the money be returned to the provincial coffers . I can only imagine the details behind this transaction . Hey there Kevin have I got a deal for you ..lol ,a mobile Kitchen going for less then a 1/10th of the cost and hardly used . Ownership papers oh don't worry about that we have that covered . Anything for you buddy it's not a problem . No problem with this providing it's sold at fair market value + HST .

  • nitpicker
    May 12, 2014 - 11:40

    Ah yes. They're the premier's friends. What a well-worn cliché that's been said by each and every opposition that's ever existed.Does the premier play favourites? Maybe. But I can't depend on the opposition to inform me, because that statement has been so overused its lost all meaning. What would be informative, and refreshing, for me is to have an opposition government break from the mold. Expose the corruption, if it exists, and tell me how you are going to fix the problem. Because we all know that, at some point, the cycle will continue: we will have a PC government, and it will be the Liberals complaining that it is the PCs that "always look out for the friends". Leadership, please.

    • don
      May 12, 2014 - 13:08

      what gets me and other island born islanders is you go to the government for a loan to start a business and they tell you no they have no money but Murphy's come is and ask and ghiz has millions to give. so the playing fav is 110% correct. then they wonder why islanders gets upset? maybe ghiz is worried that a person could end up with more money then Murphy's and will not be in his liberal family.