CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Local blogger and gardener Kevin Arsenault is pledging that his leadership campaign will help build transparency and end what he called “corruption” from Island political leaders.
Arsenault held a public launch of his campaign for PC leadership on Wednesday night at the Murchison Centre in Charlottetown. Speaking before a crowd at least 81 people, Arsenault spoke for over an hour, often summarizing arguments and articles he has published on his personal blog.
The PowerPoint presentation included various political cartoons depicting Liberal political figures, such as Premier Wade MacLauchlan and former Premier Robert Ghiz, conspiring with one another.
One cartoon depicted Chinese President Xi Jinping fighting with Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving over control of P.E.I. farmland.
Arsenault finished the event with an acoustic guitar set of songs he had written himself.
Arsenault’s remarks focused on the Liberal government’s role in the Provincial Nominee Program, as well as the e-gaming scandal. He characterized these political scandals as “corruption”.
Arsenault claimed that email accounts of provincial employees were deleted deliberately by Ghiz in order to hide information related to the e-gaming initiative.
“With every bit of corruption, there’s a massive cover-up,” Arsenault said.
“I will transfer all the power to the people.”
-Kevin J. Arsenault
Arsenault also criticized local media outlets, including the CBC and The Guardian, for not publishing his research which he claimed showed that email accounts were deliberately deleted.
A 2016 auditor general’s investigation of the e-gaming saga noted that records and emails were improperly recorded but found this was because of a lack of adherence to existing regulations around Freedom of Information. The auditor general’s report stopped short of suggesting there was deliberate destruction of email accounts.
Arsenault also suggested that a land bank be created that would buy up productive farmland, in order to lease it out to individuals looking to enter farming. He also suggested P.E.I. move towards production of genetically modified organism-free seeds. He claimed that Cavendish Farms, the Irving-owned agricultural enterprise, was contributing to a steady erosion of soil health on the Island.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been mystified by this addiction to corporate agriculture,” Arsenault said.
Arsenault has been an outspoken pro-life advocate and was the keynote speaker at the 2018 March for Life.
But, when asked whether he would limit abortion access in Prince Edward Island as Premier, he said the issue was a matter of federal jurisdiction.
“We have no jurisdiction over that," Arsenault said.
"So I would encourage Islanders to lobby the federal government to put a law in place. We're one of four countries in the world that doesn't have any federal law that addresses the challenge of adjudicating the competing rights of the child and the mother."
Arsenault said if he were to be elected premier, women would have the same access to abortion services as they currently do.
Arsenault served as an executive director of the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers between 2000 and 2010. He also served as an executive director for the National Farmers Union in the 1990s.
Arsenault’s speech maintained the theme that ordinary people were being left out of important political and economic decisions on P.E.I. He pledged to change this as leader of the PC Party.
“I will transfer all the power to the people,” Arsenault said.