The weather is always a favourite topic of discussion with Islanders. And the boys that hang out at Louie's are nothing if they're not Islanders, so nobody would be surprised that the recent dry spell was talked about around the table in the bar.
"I'm telling you, those squalls that blew through the other night didn't do a lot of good," said Mousie MacKay. "Better than nothing, but not much. The rain came down too hard and too fast. Most of it just ran off into the ditches. "It didn't soak in."
"You know, Mousie, for once in your life, you're right," said Rifle Burhoe, who lives in the country. "What we need is a good, gentle, two-day soaker. If we don't get it soon, the farmers are going to be hurting. Those hot, windy days we've had sucked the moisture right out of the ground."
"Yeah, well a good two-day soaker might be good for the guys on the farms," said Swifty Stewart, "but it'll suck the tourists off the beaches and out of the province. Pray for rain all you want, but pray that it comes at night. We don't want any rain, or any ominous black clouds, hanging around during the day."
"Ah, the Island dilemma," said Hat MacInnes. "If the weather's good for the potatoes, then it's likely not good for the tourists, unless, as Swifty mentioned, the rain comes at night."
"And speaking of ominous dark clouds," Hat continued, "Rifle, are you and your country cousins still disenchanted with the Liberal government?"
"Things have toned down a little bit. The lobster fishermen had a real good year sothey're not as grumpy as they were in the spring," said Rifle. "But nobody's keen on the HST. Even those who think they'll benefit from it know that a lot of others are going to get hit pretty hard."
"Don't forget the road," said Mousie. "Don't forget that stupid plan to straighten out the curves on the Trans-Canada. Even people who never drive that road think it is wrong to spend $18 million on a road that's worked fine for over 50 years. People don't like the HST, but they know the government needs the cash given the size of the provincial debt. But no one understands why the government is so adamant about the road."
"The road thing really irritates people," said Swifty, "but why did you ask? What are you hearing, Hat, you talk with lots of people?"
"Well, one guy I talked to the other day pointed out a couple of things I missed or hadn't thought of. First, he asked me if I saw the story about the NDP getting nearly 300 people out to a summer social and I had to admit I'd missed that. He says that's a respectable number for any political event in the summer and he was quite surprised the NDP could draw that well," said Hat.
"The second thing that he pointed out had to do with last month's CRA poll which showed that Premier Ghiz's popularity fell to 35 per cent," said Hat. "My friend says that is lower than Premier Callbeck's popularity when she decided to quit."
"Catherine Callbeck was never perceived to be warm and cuddly," said Rifle, "but she was respected."
"Not something many would say about our present premier," said Mousie. "I feel the breezes of change are gathering strength."
"You may be right," said Hat, "but, Mousie, don't let your little Tory heart get into much of a flutter. Your Conservatives were only at 26 per cent in that CRA poll and the NDP were at 18 per cent. And you know at the time that poll was taken the NDP didn't really have a leader."
"Come on, Hat, you don't really think the NDP poses any kind of threat. This is P.E.I., it'll never happen," said Mousie.
"Don't be so sure, Mousie. Nobody thought they'd ever be a threat in Quebec before the last federal election," said Hat. "With Thomas Mulcair in Ottawa and Darrell Dexter in Nova Scotia, the NDP have a respectability they never had before in this part of the country. Party affiliations aren't as strong as they used to be on the Island. If, and it's a big if, the NDP chose a credible leader, then the Libs and the Tories might have a three-way fight on their hands."
"Wouldn't that be different." said Rifle. "That would be a change."
"Don't be so daft," said Swifty.
Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org