EDITOR’S NOTE: A Cheers & Jeers wrap-up for 2018. The list is long; many qualified; few were chosen.
CHEERS: To Egmont MP Robert Morrissey who was among just 12 MPs in the House of Commons who claimed $0 in office hospitality costs for the first six months of fiscal 2018-19. The Canadian Taxpayers Federations lauded the thrifty MPs, saying careful use of taxpayer dollars truly can cut across party lines.
CHEERS: To the P.E.I. government caucus who got through their Christmas card photo shoot session without incident this year – as far as we know. A cabinet minister was called out months after the 2017 Christmas photo was taken, for flipping the bird to a passerby, when the offending photo/video was posted by the photographer hired by the party. The Liberals opted to hire a new photographer this year.
JEERS: To Maritime Electric for seeking to raise electricity rates 3.3 per cent over the next three years, based on an application before the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission. The request is especially galling after the P.E.I government is urging Islanders to switch to electricity for heating as part of its carbon reduction strategy; with thousands making the conversion. Government and utility are happy to see Islanders switch to heat pumps; and then the other shoe drops. Oops.
JEERS: To members of the former Charlottetown City Council for rushing through a bylaw to curb the incoming mayor’s powers just prior to the swearing-in of the new council. It resembled the actions in U.S. states where Republican legislatures pushed through legislation to curb the powers of incoming Democratic governors following the November election. It seems that banana republics are getting more common throughout North America.
JEERS: To groups lobbying to allow Sunday hunting on P.E.I. Apparently, six days a week isn’t quite enough to eradicate P.E.I.’s resident Canada goose and duck populations.
CHEERS: To Provincial Court Judge John Douglas for his annual contribution to the P.E.I. wildlife preservation fund. Every spring, Judge Douglas buys a fishing licence at Beck's in Montague and when the season ends, nary a trout makes it to his frying pan.
CHEERS: To Mark Arendz, whose courageous and remarkable efforts at the Paralympics earned him The Guardian’s selection as its 2018 Newsmaker of the Year. The 28-year-old Hartsville native skied, shot and sprinted his way to six medals (gold, two silvers, three bronze) at the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in March. He was also Canada's flag-bearer at the Paralympics closing ceremony. His grace and humility was most noticeable throughout it all.
CHEERS: To our national broadcaster which will highlight Charlottetown as one of the featured communities in its television broadcast, Canada’s New Year’s Eve: Countdown to 2019. Hosted by Gerry Dee from Niagara Falls, it will feature a countdown from the ECMA New Year’s Eve Bash at the Delta. A short fireworks display can be viewed from Confederation Landing at 7:30 p.m. The fireworks display is open to the general public and will be featured during the CBC broadcast later tonight.
JEERS: To a glaring omission in media reports about an Island man’s appearance on Jeopardy in early November. There was wide coverage leading up to his debut appearance; unfortunately, none pointed out that the usual 8:30 p.m. local broadcast was being bumped that night for a New England Patriot’s preview show. Unless viewers had access to NTV from Newfoundland and Labrador, the Jeopardy segment didn’t air until some seven hours later when Islanders were asleep.
JEERS: To the incredible scheduling mix-up which saw the Island Storm’s Boxing Day game postponed last Wednesday. The 2 p.m. game is a holiday tradition for P.E.I. basketball fans, offering a chance to stretch the legs the day after Christmas. The time was wrong on the NBL schedule (7 p.m.) and no one told Saint John Riptide the difference. It disappointed thousands of P.E.I. fans and certainly didn’t look good for the league which offered an apology. The Storm are home tonight at 6:30 p.m. for a New Year’s Eve encounter with the Moncton Magic.
CHEERS: To new Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown who says he is willing to look at changes to the controversial parking meter situation in the downtown. The city should offer free parking for the Christmas holidays; and give motorists a break after snowstorms when parking is erratic until streets and spaces are cleared. The mayor should also re-examine his lukewarm support for a new sports and entertainment complex.
JEERS: To the P.E.I. fire marshal who visited Island churches this year and reduced capacity limits for events such as Christmas concerts. For example, St. Dunstan’s Basilica, which usually packs in 1,300-1,400 people for its special Christmas musical performance, was limited to 1,000 for its Dec. 21 performance. Do the new fire restrictions apply to funerals and church services as well?
CHEERS: To the five candidates seeking to become the next leader of the Progressive Conservative party of Prince Edward Island who have agreed to square off in a series of debates being held across the province in January. Three leadership debates will be held, one in each county.
JEERS: To the media analyst who predicts that sometime in 2019, a dreaded event will occur, as lines will cross when people will start to spend more hours a day on the internet than watching television.
CHEERS: To an emergency shelter pilot program, operated by the province, that started Dec. 21. Homeless Islanders in a vulnerable state are given a free hotel room to provide immediate help to people in a desperate situation. A temporary shelter support line (1-833-220-4722) is being manned 24/7. The sight of homeless Islanders sleeping on floors inside bank entrances over the past two months prove there is an urgent need for this service.
CHEERS: To the UPEI Panthers men’s hockey team which enjoyed one of its best first-half performances in some years this fall. The team usually has a slow start and finishes strongly in the second half. Let’s hope the Panthers keep up their strong play, starting Wednesday night at Dalhousie in a make-up game postponed earlier by poor weather.
CHEERS: To Cornwall curler Lauren Lenentine, last season’s P.E.I. junior women’s champ, who is now playing on the defending world junior championship Kaitlyn Jones rink out of Halifax. Lenentine, who received a $5,000 Sandra Schmirler Foundation scholarship this year, as she pursues university studies in Halifax, didn’t forget her roots and returned to her home Cornwall club this fall to organize a charity bonspiel.
CHEERS: To the City of Charlottetown for moving ahead with its Fitzroy Street Bike Lane Project that proposes the creation of a 2-way bike lane on Fitzroy Street, connecting the Confederation Trail to the Victoria Park Bike Lane. The bike lane will be located on the south-side of Fitzroy Street, and will be separated from traffic by barriers that can be removed for the winter months.
CHEERS: To 'The Onion' -- the annual Brian McGuire Memorial Golf Tournament -- which raised a record $70,700 in 2018 at the Links at Crowbush Cove in support of two charities. Over the past 10 years, The Onion has raised more than $354,000 for hospice and palliative care services across the province.
CHEERS: To the nearly 900 Canadian Red Cross emergency volunteers throughout Atlantic Canada who are ready to respond 24 hours as day. The Red Cross helped more than 3,000 people throughout the Atlantic provinces in 2018, impacted by events ranging from house fires affecting just a few people to severe storms or floods affecting entire communities, to tragedies like the Fredericton multiple shootings this past summer.
CHEERS: To Statistics Canada for suspending its plan to collect the personal and financial information of more than one million Canadians. It was an intrusion into Canadians’ privacy and the reaction from citizens made it clear that the government has no business snooping around in their bank accounts.
JEERS: To PGA golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson whose immense egos increase as their abilities decline. The two thought they deserved to play in a $9 million match this fall – a TV farce which was a huge bust. After boycotting the Canadian Open in recent years, because its beneath their talent and time, they are skipping the year’s first event in Hawaii next week for 2018 tourney winners. Of 37 eligible winners, they are two of just three golfers taking a pass.
JEERS: To U.S. president Donald Trump who suggested to a seven-year-old young girl on Christmas Eve she was too old to believe in Santa Claus. Youngsters were calling NORAD as it tracked Santa and several calls were patched through to the White House where the Grinch was waiting.
CHEERS: To Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who offers a New Year’s resolution we can all support: “Don't text and drive.” In a recent Twitter post, he applauded one Louis Garneau who said, in part, “The cell phone is an extraordinary communication tool but, if used while driving a vehicle it can become a lethal weapon.” The PM added, “Thank you, Louis for this extremely powerful and touching message. Don’t text and drive! It can wait. Always.” Every Islander should take that advice and resolve that in 2019: Don’t drive while impaired; and don’t text while driving. It could save a life, probably your own.
HAPPY NEW YEAR’S