Fighting Words

The Stanley Bridge Centre is launching a new feature called Fighting Words, in which 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.


PEI needs trout guides
Story and photos by Jim Brown
Jim Brown can be reached at peijim@hotmail.com

They have them nearly everywhere else. But here, in PEI, nobody seems to have thought about doing the obvious – launching a guide business to draw in hard-core anglers from the mainland.


We’re content to let a precious resource, our recreational trout fishery, languish.

And make no mistake, it is. All you have to do is check the sales of trout licenses, which have been on a steady downward slide for years.

I bet you if a university researcher did an exhaustive study on the concentration of productive inland trout waters PEI would rank near the top for angling opportunities in all of North America.

Really.

As any Islander knows you don’t have to drive very far if you live outside Charlottetown or Summerside to find a stream, river or pond with a thriving trout population.

Not many jurisdictions can say that.

I’m willing to bet with a little luck and perhaps an ad in a fishing magazine or online publication a shrewd entrepreneur could lure enough Canadian and American anglers to PEI to fill a minibus for a couple of weeks worth of fishing.

That’s how popular sports-fishing is. Think of it, the average motorist could travel from one end of the province to the other in just three hours. Now bring anglers into the mix and there’s no reason why they couldn’t fish half a dozen hotspots a day for a week or two weeks at a time.

If waterfowl guides can bring in American hunters by the boatload to hunt ducks and even Canada geese, which can be found in just about any empty field across North America, why can’t the same be done for trout?

Islanders tend to think trout habitat on PEI has been severely degraded, largely due to chemical and soil runoff from agricultural operations. But though nobody should underestimate these problems our challenges are nowhere near as bad as what is happening to much of the rest of Canada and the US.

Many anglers would think they died and went to heaven just fishing one of the streams an average Islander would consider hardly worth flicking a line at.

I also think the provincial government should get on board. Why not offer special licenses for wealthy tourist-anglers who don’t mind paying top dollar for the right to put more fish in their creel?

To be fair there really is only about a month, at best, of quality trout fishing on PEI before many rivers and ponds are choked with slimy green sea lettuce. Several popular hotspots are basically devoid of fish by early summer after the weather heats up. Anoxia is a constant threat and that happens when fast-growing aquatic vegetation decays, consuming oxygen over large stretches of water – essentially creating vast “dead zones.”


But from April 15 until mid to late May, before water levels fall with rising temperatures, conditions are ideal for angling.

And, coincidentally, that is the time of the year when tourists are still scarce, so a robust trout guiding industry could bring in much needed revenues for the struggling hospitality sector, which includes restaurants, bed and breakfast operations, hotels and motels.

Too often Island anglers take this valuable resource for granted. We know where all the best trout holes are and we fish them year after year, decade after decade. Our only contribution to the provincial economy is the expenditure of a few bucks for gas per trip (none if we walk or ride a bicycle there), the purchase of a fishing license and perhaps a dozen worms at the season’s start when the ground is still covered in snow or too frozen to put a shovel into.

Imagine if trout guides could charge their customers a flat fee per week. I would think many clients wouldn’t blink at paying as much as $1,000 or even more a week for the chance to catch trout in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

And they would also pay for their accommodations and dine in oyster bars and other local establishments. And, of course, they would investigate PEI’s entertainment offerings – including playhouses, taverns, ceilidhs, museums, and so on.

One single trout can generate hundreds of dollars worth of economic activity, versus the nickels and dimes Islanders spend.

And there’s one other thing to consider. Catch and release is the fastest growing segment of angling and many anglers would rather use artificial flies than bait, greatly reducing fish mortality.

It’s time we recognized what a valuable resource we have on the Island, at least in the early to mid spring, and market it to the rest of the world.

Who knows, revenues from a burgeoning trout guiding industry could even be used to improve trout habitat.


Why not sell shares in lobster boats?
Story and photos by Jim Brown
Jim Brown can be reached at peijim@hotmail.com

Ever since I was a kid growing up in Charlottetown and going on family deepsea fishing trips with the world-famous Court brothers of North Rustico, I have nurtured a fierce love affair with lobster boats.

I had this dream in my childhood of actually becoming a lobster fishermen one day.

Of course times change and so do priorities and over the decades lobster fishing got to be a very expensive proposition. No longer was it possible to just buy a boat and a license and a few traps and go fishing. Suddenly you needed an accountant and you had to be adept at reading spreadsheets and world markets.

To start up a lobster enterprise you probably need at least a million dollars worth of financing just to buy the boat and the license. And then there’s fuel and bait and regular maintenance and repairs and upgrades.

It wasn’t just a boat any longer, it was a commercial enterprise and lobster fishermen who were serious about hoisting and setting traps over a period of decades, unless they were independently wealthy or won the lottery, were often into the bank up to their eyeballs.

Not exactly a business that allowed you to sleep easy at night.

What if there were a way for dreamers like myself, who just want the right to call themselves dry-land lobster fishermen, and cash-strapped lobster fleet captains to each get what they wanted?

How about being able to buy shares on a lobster boat for a small sum of a few hundred or a thousand dollars each? If thousands of shares were sold the money could go into a large pool which would be used to cover all anticipated expenses including the lobster captain’s salary and benefits, as well as those of various deck hands.

The captain wouldn’t own the vessel, the so-called corporation would. Banks and other lenders would deal with the corporation, not the captain.

Of course it wouldn’t be a profit monster and it wouldn’t be promoted as such. Maybe during the season anyone holding an investor card could qualify for free lobster at the wharf, or maybe a couple of deepsea fishing trips at the end of the season when the traps are placed ashore and the boat is filled with rods and reels instead.

Maybe the little guy or gal investor could follow the boat on their social media platforms during the season, get video clips emailed to them and maybe Skype with the captain once in a while.

It would be a dream come true for landlubber lobster captain wannabes like myself and maybe for tourists from around the world who have fallen in love with the idea of actually participating in a working fishery, even if it is only to buy shares.

And don’t write off the possibility that buying shares in a commercial lobster boat wouldn’t bring in truckloads of cash sometime in the future.

Lobster prices have improved dramatically over the past several years and overseas markets are growing too. Canada’s recently inked trade deal with the European Union will make it much easier to penetrate a market larger than the US, at an estimated 500 million people.

Remember all those stories over the past several years about the exploding value of taxi medallions, which are required in most large urban centres, such as Toronto and New York, before a driver can legally go after fares?

Over a period of decades as the number of taxis increased, so did the value of a limited number of medallions, some reaching a million dollars each. Eventually only well-heeled investors could afford them, and taxi drivers had to pay exorbitant fees to use them.

Not so long ago a UN fisheries report predicted commercial fish species in Asia would virtually disappear by 2048, due to massive overfishing and habitat destruction. Imagine how valuable species such as East Coast lobster, harvested in a sustainable, well managed fishery, would suddenly become?

Actually, I’m surprised this idea hasn’t already taken off.


We laughed when Trump supporters walked by wearing “Kick the Doofus” signs
Story and photos by Jim Brown
Jim Brown can be reached at peijim@hotmail.com

I’m sure nearly everyone can recall an incident from their high school years similar to what I am about to describe.

Someone had pranked me in Grade 9 by sticking a “Kick the Doofus” sign on the back of my shirt and when I found I out, of course I felt a sharp flash of anger. But it wasn’t directed so much at the person responsible but at everyone else who sniggered and put their hands to their mouths and doubled up in laughter when I passed them. I was broiling mad – at the people who knew about the sign, who saw it, but refused to tell me for the longest half hour of my life.

That’s what I fear will happen to Trump supporters when they finally learn they’ve been the butt of a cruel joke lasting years. The first questions they will ask are: “Why didn’t anyone say anything? Why did they let me go on making a fool of myself, buying the MAGA hats and merchandise, threatening to commit harm to media outlets and that other presidential nominee named Hillary? Why did they let me become a troll for Trump?”

God help us all then. I for one do not want to be put in a position where I will have an angry, foam-flecked Trump supporter screaming at me. Or worse yet, face a Trump supporter’s wracking sobs of embarrassment and shame. Did I do all I could to help them? Could I have put another meme or post on Facebook? Could No. 8,349 actually have been the one to turn the tide for at least one Trump supporter?

Instead of deleting supporters from my Facebook feed could I have messaged them instead, warned them in more stark, direct language about Trump? Instead of telling one Trump supporter 514 times he was headed down a dark alley, why didn’t I organize an intervention with social media friends?

There is so much more we could have done. And the mainstream newspapers could have gone the extra mile, too. Could they not have doubled the size of their text, added more cartoons of Trump committing his misdeeds to help literacy-challenged supporters (much of his base) get a clearer grasp of what was going on? And let’s not get into CNN and MSNBC and those other Fake News outlets that completely dropped the ball.

The reckoning is coming for tens of millions of Trump/GOP supporters who have yet to see the light. They continue to cling stubbornly to the desperate hope that Donald Trump is actually doing his best to help them.

They continue to believe in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary that Donald Trump is not lying to them. That he did not cheat on his wife. That he didn’t grope several women. That he isn’t playing footsie with Russia, That he isn’t a racist, and that he actually knows something about how an economy works.

They actually swallow his denials that he didn’t stiff many of his contractors and they believe him when he brags he is a shrewd businessperson, despite declaring bankruptcy several times.

They don’t believe fact-checkers who can prove he lied more than 2,000 times since coming to office and they also don’t believe his business affairs are entangled with shady Russian oligarchs and shady financial institutions and maybe even Vladimir Putin.

They believe all of his magical conspiracy theories and they also share his conviction everyone in the Mueller investigation is a Democrat sympathizer, out to “get” him and members of his family.

His supporters continue to stand by him even in the wake of the Stormy Daniels tsunami.

They believe him when he says he can’t release his taxes, because he facing an “audit”, which must be one of the longest in history.

A fledgling cult leader must weep when he thinks of Trump and his millions of enablers. It’s probably true – he could actually walk up Fifth Avenue, shoot someone and not lose any of his supporters, just as he bragged he could do during the election.

But it all must come to crashing end. The laws of physics cannot be denied forever.

I just hope his base shows mercy to the tens of millions of other Americans and Canadians who were not Trump supporters.

After all, didn’t we turn our backs and snigger when they walked past us wearing “Kick the Doofus” signs?


How Rude!
By Michelle M Arsenault


 
Michelle M Arsenault, known as MIMA to her many loyal readers, is a prolific novelist based in Cape Wolfe, Prince Edward Island. Her ninth and most recent book, A Devil Named Hernandez, was published in February. Learn more at www.mimaonfire.com. She can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter at mimaonfire.

It’s nothing new to talk about how rudeness is a problem today; whether it’s the person who ignores everyone at the dinner table to play on their phone or the jerk who can’t thank you for holding the door open for him, this is something we hear about all the time. Ms. Manners, whoever she is, would cry mournfully if she saw how most of us tend to behave. However, there’s one place that I find this to be especially frustrating and that’s in emails.

Ok, so let’s be honest. The way people communicate these days is often terrible to begin with. So why am I focusing on emails? Is it because the writer in me is perhaps a tad sensitive to things like tone or grammar? Are my expectations too high? Do I want to be entertained and dazzled by emails? The quick and easy answer to these questions is no. In fact, I know the difference between a hurried email from a BFF complaining about her migraine and an email that should be much more professional in tone. If you haven’t guessed it already, my beef is with the latter.

Not to suggest that every professional email I receive is terrible. In fact, I’ve found a few in my inbox that impressed me because of the overall tone; one of friendliness, yet answering my questions in a respectful way. They weren’t necessarily long replies, perhaps limited in details, but I finished the email with a positive impression of the specific companies, feeling that they appreciate my business.

The unfortunate other side is that I often received sharp, curt and sometimes even slightly hostile replies to my questions or concerns. I’ve had a few that have caused me to return to the original email to make sure that I didn’t, in fact, come across as rude or obnoxious, first. I hadn’t. This is without even talking about the emails I have sent to various businesses that weren’t even answered at all; that’s another topic for another day.

Now getting back to what I was saying earlier, I don’t expect to be dazzled or entertained and I’m far from Miss Manners myself. However, I do think that it’s nice to set a tone that is helpful and sends the message that whoever you work for (including yourself) is approachable, friendly and wants to help.

Its even crossed my mind that perhaps people aren’t even aware they’re being rude, abrupt or unprofessional in their emails. Perhaps, in a hurried state, they’ve typed up something fast without taking a moment to check the content before hitting send. I know I’ve had to pause on more than one occasion, especially when I’m frustrated with the recipient to take a breath and review my wording. In my experience, sending a rude email to someone only gives you temporary satisfaction, quickly followed by regret.

I did a quick search online to see what other people thought of this topic and quickly learned that I wasn’t alone. Rude, stiff and snarky emails were listed as some of the most off-putting responses and I have to say I’ve been on the receiving end of such messages and it didn’t exactly turn my crank.

As an example, I recently contacted a lady in real estate about an apartment I was potentially interested in renting. After some thought and research, I kindly told her the location might not be a ‘good fit’ for me. She replied to my email by curtly telling me why I was wrong, made a couple of snarky references to finding an apartment that was a ‘good fit’ (for the record, she actually used the quotation marks too) and then went on to tell me good luck and seemed uninterested in helping me find another apartment. It was weird.

Having said all this, what makes for a nice, acceptable email? Personally, I think it’s about tone. Friendly, warm and yet giving direct answers to any questions. If you’re not sure of what the person on the other end is trying to ask or tell you, reaffirm their message (ie. “So by ‘good fit’ what exactly did you mean? Maybe we can work together to find it” or “Have you considered why this specific apartment might actually be a better fit for you? Here are my thoughts.)

Not to suggest that your professional emails have to be warm and snuggly like a Christmas card from grandma – however, you might want to communicate with the other person in a similar fashion as you would if they were standing in front of you. I could be wrong, but chances are if I spoke to this real estate lady face to face I probably wouldn’t have seen her as abrupt and rude. Then again, if I were speaking to her face to face, she probably would’ve been a little more careful about her wording as well. At least I hope so.

Perhaps we are lowering our standards and getting a little too casual in emails. Professional or personal, isn’t it time to be kind to one another again?


If we can’t support each other, what’s the point of it all?
By Michelle M Arsenault


I love people who take chances; who are ambitious and do things that scare them for the betterment of their own lives, those who aren’t afraid to color outside the lines. It’s not easy to take a chance and go after something you really want because the chance of disappointment is always lurking nearby; but it’s the people who try anyway, refusing to allow fear to take over, that I respect the most. They inspire me.

It’s for this reason that I support anyone who does something positive to move their lives forward. I love hearing stories of people who were unhealthy changing their diet and lifestyle. I smile when someone talks about going back to school or learning a new skill. I’m impressed when people make an effort in their own lives even though it would be easier to sleep in on the weekend or watch Netflix all day; they choose instead to find the time to go after what they really want. Not to suggest goals have to be lofty; you may not want to win an Academy Award or climb the highest mountain, but taking a chance may be as simple as changing the way you view the world or dropping that friend who always lets you down.

It might surprise you that what I dislike isn’t the opposite; I don’t necessarily have an issue with people who aren’t so inclined – whether it be due to laziness or lack of confidence, they may still get there when it’s their time. Actually, the people who really frustrate me are those who don’t support other people’s goals. There’s nothing more annoying than someone who tries to knock down other people’s dreams simply because they can’t envision them or have none of their own and therefore assume they aren’t possible. However, having said that, it’s understandable. If you can’t envision an amazing life for yourself then it’s easy to see how you may not be capable of envisioning success for others.

For that reason, I think the most frustrating people are the obvious attention seekers of the world; we’re talking about the people on your Facebook list who let everyone about all their successes but never support others in the same way they expect to be supported. We’re talking the people who practically want a parade every time they have a successful bowel movement or go to the gym but remain blissfully unaware or uninterested in what others are doing. Nor do they care.

Some people may call them narcissists. Others may call them assholes. Personally, I call them energy vampires; and we’re not talking about the kind of vampires I’ve been known to write about – sexy, savvy or smart – we’re talking about the self-absorbed yet, quite often, terribly insecure jerks who only are aware of your presence when you’re around to pat their back. If put on the spot, they will pretend to care about your life but as with everything, actions speak much louder than words.

Personally, I’m happy when people are excited about my accomplishments but at the same time, I’m also very excited when other people succeed. I don’t even have to know the person to be happy that they’ve reached a goal, overcome a struggle or took a chance to better their lives. That’s not the point. The point is that you get more out of life if you support others than if you look for support.

The more I do in life and the more I accomplish, the more I see the people in my life changing. Sometimes it can be a bit of an eye opener, but for every person that I’ve left (or will leave) behind, I find a new, positive, awesome person who I wholeheartedly support and who does the same for me. If we can’t do that for each other, then what’s the point?

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