CHEERS: To five-time Paralympian Billy Bridges of Summerside who was selected to accept Paralympic rings on behalf of his Team Canada Sledge peers during a ceremony May 9 as part of Canada’s official celebration of the record medal count for the country’s Olympic and Paralympic teams in 2018.
The celebration was held amid a sea of red and white at Rideau Hall, where the athletes were presented with rings, and afterwards inside the House of Commons where MPs applauded and cheered the athletes. One of the most impressive performances came from Paralympic cross-country skier and biathlete Mark Arendz of Hartsville, P.E.I. who won six medals.
JEERS: To Nova Scotia's offshore petroleum regulator which has granted BP Canada Energy Group approval to begin drilling a well off the province's coast. The project could see up to seven exploration wells drilled off the southeast coast of N.S. over a three-year period. It’s astonishing that Ottawa and Nova Scotia has allowed drilling in light of recent federal conservation measures to protect the right whale.
The drilling is in the path of the whale’s migration route from the southern U.S., along the eastern seaboard, the N.S. coast and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. P.E.I.’s lobster fishermen are being warned they will have to move traps and stop fishing if a right whale is spotted nearby. The drilling platform and service vessels pose a far greater threat. It’s an irresponsible decision in light of recent conservation announcements.
CHEERS: To two Island teachers who received 2018 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence from Justin Trudeau during a ceremony in Ottawa last week. Stacy Thain, of Summerside Intermediate School, and Natalie MacNeill of Grace Christian School were among 64 Canadian teachers honoured for “remarkable achievements in education and commitment to prepare their students for a digital and innovation-based economy.” Both also received warm congratulations from P.E.I. Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Jordan Brown.
CHEERS: To Carrsyn Haley, of Victoria Cross, a Grade 11 student at Montague Regional, who earned a $110,000 scholarship to spend the next two years Pearson College, a pre-university school near Victoria, B.C. Pearson College is the country's only United World College school, one of 17 global schools dedicated to uniting cultures and countries. Its program attracts students from 150 countries. Not only will the Grade 11 student be finishing high school at Pearson, but also starting her post-secondary studies in the two-year program. Carssyn is focusing her studies in the sciences with an eye on a future in medicine. Marine biology has also attracted her interest.
JEERS: To the Charlottetown Airport Authority which glossed over a key loss of service in its reflection on accomplishments achieved in 2017 at its recent annual meeting. Yes, the CAA hit all-time-high passenger traffic levels and completed the largest infrastructure investment in the airport’s history. What got scant mention was that after two years, WestJet’s seasonal weekly service direct from Charlottetown to Orlando wrapped up in late April 2017. Why? Sunwing is expanding its southern getaway options by adding Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in the winter of 2018 to join its 13-week winter service offering direct flights to Varadero, Cuba. But what about families and golfers who want the incredible benefits of a direct flight to Orlando over the winter?
CHEERS: To the 2018 P.E.I. Crime Stoppers Police Officers of the Year who were honoured May 11 in Charlottetown to help kick off National Police week, May 13-19. The award for 2018 Municipal Police Officer of the Year went to Deputy Chief Sinclair Walker of the Summerside Police Services. Cpl. Jennifer McCarron of the Charlottetown Police Service was selected as runner up. The 2018 Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer of the Year is Sgt. Chris Gunn of the Kings District RCMP. Cpl. Jerrie MacLeod of Prince District was selected as runner up.
CHEERS: To the five “Senate 150” P.E.I. medal winners who will receive their award Tuesday, May 15. As part of the Canada 150 celebrations, the Senate of Canada had a medal minted to commemorate 150 years since the Senate first went into session. The medals are given to people across Canada who have made substantial contributions to their communities. Antoinette Perry, the Lt.-Gov. of Prince Edward Island, will assist Senator Diane Griffin in presenting the medals at Fanningbank to Dr. Colin McMillan, Stratford; Doreen Huestis, Vernon Bridge; Rev. Dr. J. Charles Cheverie, Charlottetown; John J. MacDonald, St. Nicholas; and Chief Matilda Ramjattan, Lennox Island.
CHEERS: To UPEI President and Vice-Chancellor Alaa Abd-El-Aziz who was named a Top 50 CEO by Atlantic Business Magazine in Halifax, May 10. Since 1999, the magazine has dedicated one of its six issues per year to profiling Atlantic Canada’s 50 most accomplished business leaders. Nominees for the awards are judged according to their corporate, community, and industry involvement; their organization’s growth in recent years; and, their responses to various managerial challenges. This is the second year in a row that President Abd-El-Aziz has received this recognition.