Shea signals intention to re-offer in 2015; Lee opposes city losses over country gains
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee opined following a city council meeting Monday that changes splitting P.E.I. into two EI regions make absolutely no sense. He was so upset that he termed the changes, which will hurt city and area residents, as the federal government cooking up another "Senate fiasco.'' The changes make perfect sense if you are Gail Shea and Mr. Lee’s reaction makes perfect sense for a mayor heading into a civic election this fall.
A possible scenario follows this script:
It was widely believed that Ms. Shea considered not running in the next federal election. She turns 55 next month and will be pushing 57 when the next federal vote comes around. After election wins in 2008 and 2011, it was reported she had enough of politics. Prior to her federal career, she served as the MLA for the Tignish area from 2000-2007 before losing in the Liberal landslide which ousted the government of Pat Binns.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a plea for her to run again because without Ms. Shea on the ticket, Egmont would likely fall and the PM wanted to retain a Conservative beachhead on P.E.I. The party loyalist acceded to the request. The mother and grandmother has done an incredible amount of travelling in her cabinet positions in fisheries, national revenue and ACOA. She wanted to spend more time with her family but now has committed to almost six more years of grinding travel back and forth to Ottawa.
Some of the changes she had to support and defend most likely went against her personal opinion but for the sake of cabinet solidarity, there was no option but to support EI reforms over the past two years, closing Veterans Affairs district offices and other measures she knew would be very unpopular on P.E.I.
The EI zone changes she announced Feb. 20 officially signaled her intention to re-offer. She needed those changes to placate many residents of Egmont bitter about losing weeks and money. It was a chance for her to get back into the political game.
It seems like a very plausible scenario.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lee had to step in and bring a recalcitrant council to heel when it deadlocked 5-5 on deferring a motion asking Ottawa to halt the proposed EI changes. It didn't take Mayor Lee long to bring clarity to the situation. He cast the deciding vote against the confusing deferral motion while a resolution then passed 9-1 stating the city "publicly state its opposition to the recent changes to the EI program for the Charlottetown area.''
The latest changes improve Ms. Shea’s chances for re-election. Apparently the Conservative base on P.E.I. resides only in Egmont. Sorry, Ms. Shea, but it is political, all of the time.
Our Anne sets record
It was 50 years in the making but our favourite musical starring a little red-haired orphan is officially in the history books. The Charlottetown Festival’s production of Anne of Green Gables has been finally recognized as the longest-running annual musical theatre production in the world. Islanders have long expected that recognition to come our way and with the 50th season of Anne coming up in this historic year, the timing couldn’t have been better.
Confederation Centre CEO Jessie Inman was proud to proclaim Anne has achieved a new Guinness World Records title, explaining that “this major accolade reminds Canadians of the timeless charm and whimsy of one of the greatest musicals ever produced in this country.” The Guinness records are recognized around the world so it’s another incentive for Islanders and visitors to attend the show, not only in 2014 but in coming seasons to be a part of history and ensure that Anne’s amazing record continues.