Fighting Words, where area residents offer their opinions on the issues of the day, from the serious to the whimsical. The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the Stanley Bridge Centre.
Shame the GOP by drafting legislation giving federal workers a temporary pay boost
By Jim Brown –
At the time of this writing the US government shutdown over a $5.7 billion wall no sensible person wants is 33 days long. And barring Trump’s declaration of a national state of emergency, it looks like it won’t end any time soon.
Of course there will be Islanders who read this who will ask: Why do we care? How does a shutdown in another country affecting 800,000 federal workers and millions of other employees in related businesses affect us?
But it does in so many ways. For one thing, our food security is at risk since we get most of our fruits and veggies from America and with large numbers of food inspectors furloughed or working without pay the risk of contamination is much higher. Also, the FBI, which does the bulk of counter-terrorism work, is grossly understaffed and underfunded and unable to pursue many investigations. What will happen to the Canadian economy if a terrorist, who could have been stopped, slips across our border and commits a horrific act of mass murder?
But I have a modest proposal for painting GOP lawmakers and Trump into a tight space they can’t slither out of.
Why doesn’t Nancy Pelosi (Democrat Speaker of the House) draft legislation calling on furloughed and essential workers to receive three times their regular pay during the shutdown? This could help many facing cold-hearted bankers ready to snatch their homes because they’re behind in their mortgage payments.
It could also cause landlords to think twice about throwing them out of their rental units or car dealerships from seizing their vehicles.
Just imagine what a difference it will make to creditors knowing when these workers get their back pay it will be three times what they are normally entitled to.
At the very least the economy will get an immediate spending boost when government is re-opened.
Unfortunately, not everyone will come back to work when the shutdown ends. In some departments sharp-eyed managers will see they can achieve greater efficiencies by reducing the workforce. So the 300 per cent pay boost during the shutdown will provide workers who find themselves suddenly jobless with a financial cushion.
It’s obvious neither Trump nor his party cares that much about the plight of government workers living from paycheque to paycheque, with many forced to turn to food banks and GoFundMe campaigns to put food on the table and save their homes. Many others are left with the heart-wrenching choice between rent, food or medication for their children.
GOP lawmakers may not have much compassion for ordinary people down on their luck but they won’t enjoy the harsh, unrelenting public shaming they will receive if they don’t support legislation that would boost the pay of desperate workers during a shutdown they were responsible for.
With apologies to Donald Trump: “What do the Democrats have to lose?”
It’s not up to someone else to make you happy
By Michelle M Arsenault
For some reason earlier today I was thinking about a blog I wrote a few years ago called The Stigma of Being Single.
I originally wrote about this topic in 2014. At the time I had just moved here from Vancouver and felt a bit judged when I first returned to my hometown. Where have you been, what have you been doing and why aren’t you married seemed to be the most common questions I was asked by relatives, acquaintances and strangers alike. Considering I had moved away years earlier, attempting to answer any of these questions would’ve stirred up a complicated pot, so avoidance was usually a better chose.
In truth, most people aren’t genuinely interested and invested in our lives, so really, do you want to go down that rabbit hole? Life is complicated and that’s why most of us are exactly where we are right now, regardless of wherever that may be. We try our best and sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t.
When it comes to being single, I’ve always believed that being involved in a serious, committed relationship such as marriage isn’t something people should do lightly. At least it’s not something I could or would do lightly. Not to suggest that anyone does but sometimes I believe people tend to find themselves following other people’s visions for their own lives, and that’s unfortunate because it can very quickly turn into a hornet’s nest. I know. I’ve seen it.
I also think that you need to be at a certain level of personal development. In other words, I think people need to a grow up a lot before they start hitching their wagon to someone else’s life. It’s not up to someone else to fulfill you, to make you happy or to keep you entertained. They always say that a child shouldn’t be born with a ‘job’ in the parent’s life and the same can be said for a partner. It’s no one’s job to fix you, inflate your ego, pay your way or make you feel valued. Most people can barely manage to do these things for themselves let alone themselves and someone else. I’ve seen it play out many times, including in my own life, and it does not go well.
Not to say I’m the expert or that I will ever know everything there is to know about relationships. I think we’re all constantly learning, as we should be, and we just keep trying to do a little better each day.
I will say I do love men. I know a lot of women (both married and single) who seem to hate men. I simply adore men. I think some of the most loyal friends I’ve had have been men. I know other women who feel the same way too. These are the people who would be there to help you bury the bodies (not literally….well, then again, maybe…) if you needed them. I’m fortunate to have some of those friends from coast to coast (not in every province but a few strong friendships) and it’s awesome. I love how men think. They solve problems and move on. They get in arguments and move on. They end one thing and start the next. There’s a logic to everything they do, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.
Life should be an adventure. Dating should be an adventure too, not a marketing campaign. You don’t need to create a dating profile involving the display of as much cleavage as possible (the guy equivalent to this is the shirtless man flexing in front of the mirror) and talking about how cool you are, nor do you have to drop a pile with your stories about how your mother’s your hero and you once saved a puppy from drowning. And warnings like ‘no psychos please!’ probably say more about you than you think.
Which gets me to my final point and it’s important. Everyone you’ve had in your life or want in your life is a reflection of you. Not to say your ex who threatened to stab you with a butter knife suggests you’re also ‘coco for cocoa puffs’, but it does suggest that maybe you also have something broken in yourself to have a broken person in your life. It’s not meant as a criticism but rather a sad reality that we’ve all had to face from time to time. Hey, life’s hard so why wouldn’t we be broken from time to time? Sometimes you’ve got to fall apart before you can see what needs to be healed.
The other side is that if you’re attracted to cool, smart, thoughtful people, maybe you’re pretty cool, smart and thoughtful too. It seems like the perfect fit.
I’m a member of the two per cent, deal with it
By Michelle M Arsenault
Earlier this year, I applied for a job that required me to take a personality test. As it turns out, I’m an ENFJ personality, which is apparently only two per cent of the population and essentially means that I’m a ‘natural leader’. In fact, I’m in good company because I’m in the same category as Oprah and Obama.
I thought that was super exciting and assumed if a personality quiz was a major part of this application process (in fact, it seemed to be the most relevant) then I should at least get an interview. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
The interesting thing about life is that we’re told to be ourselves, to be bold, to be honest, to be confident and to not allow anyone to hold us back. But have you actually ever tried to do this and if so, how well did it go for you?
It’s interesting how the traits that we often idealize in society aren’t necessarily appreciated. We want to believe they’re not only accepted but encouraged. However, what looks good on a television show, in a book or in theory, doesn’t always resonate in everyday life. A perfect example of this is how we idealize people telling the truth. We hear how the truth shall set you free, how the truth always catches up with you and how people respect the truth. It’s apparently also a faster track to heaven.
Unless, of course, you tell a truth that hurts someone’s feelings. Then you’re automatically an asshole and on the road to hell.
I’m proud of the fact I have a strong personality. I know I can take on anything and anyone at any time. I’m not saying I’m a superhero or I don’t have my moments of doubt but my many struggles in life have made me the person I am today.
It didn’t happen overnight. I was a shy child, turned self-conscious and ostracized teenager to an anxiety-ridden adult. It wasn’t the easiest path but it certainly prepared me for anything that was ahead and as I move forward, I’m sure many new challenges in the future.
Unfortunately, there are just some days where I don’t feel so strong or confident. There are days that I don’t feel like I can take on any monster that comes my way. I recently had that kind of day. It was a situation where I was physically tired, stressed about various events and everything just kind of broke me all at once. I felt frustrated and isolated.
I just happened to be having a conversation with a friend who knew nothing about my state of mind, but somewhere along the line we started talking about introverts vs. extroverts. More specifically, we discussed wolves vs. sheep in our society. (If you’re less inclined to the dramatic comparison, that’s leaders vs. followers).
The longer we discussed this topic the more I began to realize that perhaps my feelings of isolation actually stem from the fact my personality type isn’t exactly common. Most of the time that’s not a big deal but it’s during times when I feel isolated, due to a situation, that the difference is glaringly obvious to me. And I’m willing to bet if I feel that way there are probably others that do too, but for different reasons, whether it be where they live, their economic status, personality traits, a disability, a family situation, etc.
As much as it might seem like an inconvenience to be in the two per cent of anything, it’s that small percentage that actually makes me unique. Who the hell wants to be like everyone else? For me being bold, being strong and being confident certainly is more appealing than the alternative. And, as one of my favorite characters always says, in life you always have two choices; either you can be the sheep or you can be a wolf but if given a choice, always be the wolf. I think he might be right.
Who knew ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ was a ‘rapey’ song?
By Michelle M Arsenault
I was surprised at work yesterday when the song ‘Baby, it’s Cold Outside’ came on. After all, isn’t that supposed to be the ‘rapey’ song that everyone is offended over? Sure, it’s been over 50 years since the song was originally released but better late than never, right?
I recently watched as a wide-eyed young woman spoke about how offensive this classic Christmas song was; she understood the lyrics to be about a young man pressuring a woman to spend the night. She spoke about how it was inappropriate in today’s #metoo culture. Obviously, she’s had a sheltered life because there are songs that have popped up since the 40s that makes ‘Baby, it’s Cold Outside’ look an aspirin at a crystal meth party.
And hey, I’m not a music expert but I’m sure that those who are can easily name off 10 songs that would stomp on that song without even blinking an eye. So does that mean we should start protesting all those songs too? Maybe ban them all from radio stations? Judge people who do listen to them? Demonize the musician who wrote them?
The problem is that once we start banning certain materials, it’s a slippery slope. Next it will be movies, books, television shows and every other form of art that will be picked apart. That’s what some of us artists would call censorship and I certainly can’t speak for others but if we go that route then I have things in my books that are vastly more offensive than ‘Baby, it’s Cold Outside.’ I’m not the only one either. Many artists can tell you the same. And then what? Freedom of speech is hit by an ax.
For me, I don’t write about things like murder, violence, collusion and intimidation because I’m trying to suggest that others model themselves after my characters. I write it because it’s reflective of what I see when I turn on the news, what’s taking place in our society. In the unlikely event that this ‘Baby, it’s Cold Outside’ is about a woman being pressured into having sex than I think it’s probably a pretty realistic reflection of what is and has happened in our world since long before the 40s, when the song was released. And also, can I add, it doesn’t just happen to women. What about the men who have been pressured or sexually assaulted? For some reason, that gets lost in the shuffle.
And on a side note, what is the deal with people overreacting to the line. “Say, what’s in this drink?” What exactly did men slip into women’s drinks in the 40s? I’m seriously curious. Who knows what kind of shady crap grandpa was up to in those days.
Could a roundabout be in the cards for Cavendish, and perhaps an accommodation levy and more weddings?
By Jim Brown
Roundabouts, destination weddings, an accommodation levy and greater co-operation with Parks Canada for projects were some of the items tossed around at the New London Community Complex during a two hour session on the 2019-2021 Tourism Cavendish Beach (TCB) Strategic Plan, held on Dec 6.
What better place and time to discuss the future of Canada’s summer playground than the community complex, barely a week after a devastating winter storm that plunged the entire province into darkness?
The survey and market results session was originally slated for Nov 30.
A roundabout proposal was bound to be controversial, but accommodations operator Sandi Lowther isn’t backing off.
“Just think about this, it’s a little bit out of the box. The province is gung-ho on roundabouts in the community. What if we, as the TCB, lobbied the municipal government with the redevelopment of the service station and drive-thru and the building that’s for sale across the street and say to the province we really need a large roundabout that’s going to take land on that side and have the provincial government sell the land to the municipality for a dollar.
“Right now there’s land for sale by a private operator across from the Visitor Information Centre, which is already a partnership between Parks Canada and the provincial government and the municipal government. I’m saying expand that land ownership across the road using a roundabout (as the means to do it),” said Lowther.
“Honestly guys there’s a lot of stuff happening in that area so I think from a planning perspective we’re going to have more and more traffic in that area…Spatial planning, development planning, town centre planning, all of that kind of good stuff,” flows from the roundabout.
“It could be a very viable option,” Lowther said.
“My husband and I love travelling and roundabouts in city centres are centres of attraction. In Portland, Maine, Edgar Allen Poe has a 30-ft statue in the roundabout and then it became a community all around it.”
Lowther is also open to exploring the idea of implementing an accommodation levy, which was floated at the meeting. But she wants it based on a flat fee, not a percentage fee, which she considers a much fairer way to go about it.
“I’m not against the levy. I’ve always been a flat fee levy person. We need to explore it, develop a plan and look at it.”
Money from the levy would be used for promotion, marketing and research – to find out what tourism products would work best in Cavendish.
Consultant Harvey Sawler, leading the discussion, appeared to launch a lead balloon when he suggested operators try to grab more of the destination wedding market.
There’s just too much work, frustration and expense for a one or two day event, said one woman. Her views appeared to be shared by others.
“I am bombarded by venues wanting to partner with us for weddings. I am not one bit interested, nor will I ever be, from June 23rd to Labour Day.”
Matthew Jelley, who operates a water park in Cavendish and is the Resort Municipality’s mayor, said nobody should make any assumptions about Parks Canada’s contributions as a partner in local ventures, based on his 14 years of experience.
They have shown little interest in doing anything with anybody unless it’s on their terms, he said.
Parks Canada has also shown little inclination to clean up hundreds of downed trees on its land in Cavendish from the Nov 29-30 storm, said Mr Jelley.
The session’s goal was to present the results of TCB’s 2015-2018 strategic plan, share relevant market trends, and engage members and stakeholders in a discussion on Tourism Cavendish Beach’s strategic priorities for the period 2019-2021.
The meeting covered emergent and emerging tourism trends and consumer travel behaviors; factors affecting travel; trends in visitation at the province and regional level; market shifts and changing visitor profiles; travel motivators and activity interest; and trends in occupancy rates at the provincial and regional levels.
It’s pretty isolating living in rural PEI, that is my reality
By Michelle M Arsenault
In the beginning, it was only supposed to be temporary. I was going to move back to my hometown in western, rural Prince Edward Island for a short period of time. After being laid off from my job in Vancouver, BC, it was meant to be nothing more than a transitional period. I definitely had no interest in ‘living rural’ for long but at the same time, wasn’t really sure what was next.
I ended up staying longer than expected, either because of work or circumstances that popped up along the way. I’ve spent the last few years with one foot in the door while the other was firmly planted on the other side, always prepared to make a dash for it whenever the right opportunity came along. Any day now.
I’ve always been very upfront about why I don’t want to stay here and often it’s met with a combination of defensiveness and uncertainty when I attempt to explain my side of things. Of course, this is most often from people who’ve lived here their entire lives and therefore don’t realize how incredibly socially isolating it is to live in western PEI.
But let’s step back for a moment. In fairness, this isn’t something I’m only just dealing with now. Growing up here, I often felt the same way. This was before the Internet and I didn’t have a license or a car, so I was stuck. Literally, stuck. Not to mention the fact I didn’t fit into the cliques. I wasn’t dressing as the other kids did, not just because I thought Vuarnet shirts and Edwin jeans were lame, but because, even then, I wasn’t someone who followed the herd. I wasn’t cool enough for the popular kids and I was too weird for pretty much everyone else. That’s fine. I didn’t intend to stick around for long.
Fast forward a few years and you assume that, as an adult, things would be different. I had lived in different places, published some books, worked in various jobs, had many experiences and was pretty confident compared to my high school days. However, I came back to discover that little had changed. Cliques still existed and people now treated me like one of ‘those’ people ‘from away’, which means you aren’t born and brought up here and essentially you’ve been tainted by those ‘away’ places. I soon realized that I had gone back in time by about 20 years. I attempted to make friends but found many people friendly, yet standoffish. So they would talk to me at the grocery store but they weren’t interested in hanging out. At first, I thought it was me and attempted to be friendlier in case people thought I was a city snob but I later clued in that it wasn’t my personality necessarily turning people off.
See, in rural PEI, people know everything. They know where you live. They know your car. They know where you work. They know who you date and if they don’t, they assume it’s anyone of the opposite sex you speak to cause I’ve also noticed men and women aren’t friends here. They know your friends and your friends are either the people you’ve known for 100 years or a relative, but usually a spouse. This seems to be an unspoken rule and after being here for a while, I just stopped asking people to do anything with me because I already knew they wouldn’t. The boundaries are already established.
It’s very socially isolating. People often put down the ‘big city’ where ‘no one knows their neighbor’ (I’m not sure why that’s a bad thing) but yet I’ve lived in the big city and had an easier time making friends than I ever did here. I’ve made friends at the bus stop, at my work, with strangers who worked at a nearby store, you name it. However rural PEI, forget it. Here, I have mostly only acquaintances.
I also have little in common with people here, so that doesn’t help. My idea of a fun afternoon isn’t jumping on an ATV and driving through mud and drinking and driving (if you don’t believe me, check out all the beer cans on the side of the road). And going to church functions isn’t exactly yanking my chain either. However, many things here are centered on the church.
I also hate country music. Like, with a bloody passion, I hate it. I also hate anything redneck. No confederate (racist) flags for me, thank you and you wouldn’t catch me wearing Cabela clothing and actually calling it fashionable. I’m not even going to talk about the dating aspect of things because there is no dating aspect of things. Most men are attached right out of high school and have kids five minutes later. While I was out dancing on tables on Saturday nights, many of my classmates were apparently having babies.
Who knew this was a thing?
Racism is big here. Like, really big. I once had a relative tell me all the people from ‘those foreign countries’ should all ‘go back where they came from’. I pointed out that her people were once from somewhere else, but that particular point was missed. Another person saw a Muslim family and suggested they were going to ‘blow us up’, which demonstrated her ignorance. Of course, there are Trump fans here too. One moron told me he wished Trump could rule Canada too. I almost barfed on him.
Jobs are scarce here. I had one local interview where I gave terrific references from long-term employers only to be asked if I had any references ‘from here’. I guess the others didn’t qualify since they were ‘from away’. Many people are known to get jobs because of political patronage. People pretend it’s not a thing but it is. I’ve seen it. Not that politicians are interested in having many jobs here. Most are seasonal or government-sponsored (the employment equivalent of ‘throwing crumbs at us’) thereby giving us just enough work to apply for EI, which keeps people feeling they need to stay in their politician’s good graces in order to keep on…you know, eating, especially come election time.
Then there are the pesticides. Lots and lots of pesticides. The only reason why the Irvings don’t own PEI is that there’s probably some pesky law in the way that doesn’t allow them to take over the entire island and turn it into one (super pesticide filled) potato field. This, in itself, is a topic. It makes me nervous to stay here much longer because I’m not interested in joining the cancer club that constantly has new (forced) members. As in, I hear the word ‘cancer’ every day because someone new seems to have it every day. People pretend that’s normal. It’s not normal.
Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of friendly, kind people here who aren’t racist, who are educated, open-minded and open-hearted but there are also a lot of unspoken rules that I don’t tend to follow. And for that reason, it’s pretty isolating. This is my reality.
I’m done with racist, hateful comments and people who follow Trump like mindless sheep
By Michelle M Arsenault
Back in the day, there was a song called Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying. Interestingly enough, it popped in my head earlier today. The much younger version of myself never would’ve thought that it would someday be so incredibly relevant as it is in today’s political climate in the USA.
The problem is that I feel as if I can’t avoid Trump. Whether I turn on the television, check out my daily newsletters or even go on social media, I’m bombarded with images of the fat, orange slob, always with a deeply etched frown on his face. Let’s be honest, the man looks miserable. I mean, he has all the money, the power, a family and attractive women he wants and yet, he looks consistently hateful, as if someone just struck him with a hot poker on his testicles.
But I’m getting off topic.
The reality is that everything going on in the states is shining a light on prejudices that have always been there but people now feel justified to attack others and even murder in the name of racism. I think we’ve all seen on some level, whether it be a racist remark made by a relative (we’ve all got one) or Islamophobia expressed on Facebook. It’s enough to raise the blood pressure of anyone with a heart and some form of rational thought.
It has gotten to the point where I have to watch news sparingly. I listen to The Left Daily Podcast to get the overall scoop on what insanity is taking place that day and scan through the highlights on various daily emails and that’s it. The days of me having the time, patience or tolerance to read hate-fuelled and ignorant comments made by the extreme right are over. I’m done.
Regarding people who follow Trump like mindless sheep, I have to say that I’m also done with them. I’ve deleted racist, ignorant and hateful comments from my Facebook wall (followed by the person who posted them) without bothering to argue. Is there really any use? Is that a productive way to use my time? I have, however, told off one Trump lovin’ moron who decided to attack my mother on her own Facebook when she posted a positive meme regarding Obama. I told her to keep her hate-filled comments on her own wall.
The point is just because Trump insists on controlling our news doesn’t mean we have to watch it. In fact, isn’t that what he wants? To have all the attention on him? Furthermore, you don’t have to take abuse from anyone who disagrees. I see comments by infuriating far right people all the time but I don’t have the time or interest in getting into an argument with them. Life is too short. And most of the time, they aren’t worth the frustration.
Delete people. Why keep someone on your social media if they are going to make your blood boil on a regular basis? I believe you also can mute them on certain social media platforms, which means you won’t see their crap, if you prefer to not give them the boot. The choice is yours.
Peace sells, but war makes a lot more money.
Is the rarely glimpsed Morrison Cottage about to be demolished?
By Jim Brown
Spend any time around Cavendish these days and you will probably hear rumors about the fate of a three bedroom bungalow, known as “the Morrison Cottage”, on Parks Canada property in the Prince Edward Island National Park. Also known as “the government cottage” it’s a building that few people have visited or even heard about until recently.
Now it could be ready to go under a wrecker’s ball, even though there are apparently Islanders, including possibly neighbors, who want to acquire it and/or move it.
According to a Charlottetown Guardian article in 2016: “Little has been done in the way of major upgrades to the property. It has a garage, hardwood wall interiors, a stone fireplace and chimney and typical cottage-style furniture.”
Matthew Jelley, the Resort Municipality’s mayor, confirmed there is a good chance the cottage is probably on the chopping block. He said if it is demolished, it would be a waste of a valuable asset since there are apparently people who want to save it.
Mr Jelley is one of just a few Islanders, who wasn’t a dignitary or a friend of former provincial governments, who actually spent time in the cottage. But it was when he was much younger, about 23 years ago, and only for a few minutes.
Unfortunately, despite significant local interest, Parks Canada seems determined to knock it down, he said.
The Morrison Cottage, built in the 1950s, is owned by Parks Canada but managed by the Province in a deal struck in the 1970s. The Province also handled bookings. Over the decades it’s served as an upscale bunk for political hacks, off-Island dignitaries and even a succession of premiers.
It’s been described as a “secretive” retreat for those who pull the levers of power – not so much for ordinary folks.
And now, in a short period of time, it could disappear even before many residents in the Resort Municipality got a chance to pay their last respects.
An internal Parks Canada report, prepared by KPMG, is investigating the feasibility of unloading “non-core” Parks Canada assets to earn hundreds of millions in revenues, perhaps more than a billion dollars. Is the Morrison Cottage one of those non-core assets?
Parks Canada has approximately 15,000 infrastructure assets – bridges, buildings, roads, dams and so. The total value of its holdings is estimated in the $17.5 billion range.
I just have to wonder what Parks Canada has to gain by demolishing a building for nothing, when there are Islanders willing to take it off their hands.
Government departments and bureaucrats tend to do baffling things every once in a while, but you have to wonder why they want to send a wrecker’s ball into the Morrison Cottage.