Flurry of federal money
Egmont MP Gail Shea admits increase in funding announcements due to federal election
You can be excused for wondering if Fisheries Minister and Egmont MP Gail Shea ever plans to take any time off this summer.
She has been hosting news conferences and photo ops all over the Island for the last few weeks, announcing and re-announcing federal money for projects big and small in Prince Edward Island.
This week alone Shea says she has already attended five funding announcements and there are at least two more planned before next Tuesday.
She admits the pace of these announcements has accelerated and that the reason is the looming federal election, scheduled for Oct 19.
But she rejected the notion the increase in funding announcements is an exercise in vote buying.
“If it wasn’t an election year, these announcements would get made anyway, they would just get made more stretched out a little bit because there would be more time to make them,” Shea said.
“It’s Election Canada rules that you can’t make government announcements during an election campaign, so therefore if you want these organizations to move forward with government funding, then yes, there is a push to get them out the door.”
Indeed, Conservative MPs all over the country have been rolling out podiums in communities across the country, announcing federal money for all manner of projects and initiatives.
Malpeque MP Wayne Easter says these are all welcome investments, but many of them should have been made months or even years ago.
He charges the Harper government has been holding out on announcing this money in order to be able to dole out millions in federal cash just as Canadians head to the polls.
He used the example of funding Shea announced on Wednesday for repairs and expansion of the Covehead Bridge, situated within his riding.
“Finally this is getting the money that we’ve been working on for years. Finally the money is coming through,” Easter said.
“But a prime minister who is governing properly would, throughout the course of his term, be spending this money to keep up this infrastructure rather than spending it a couple of weeks before he announces a call for an election… This is now mostly optics.”
But Shea says she is merely doing her job as the sole MP representing the governing party in P.E.I.
“Making these announcements and getting the information out the door is letting Canadians know what we’re doing with their money, which I think is important.”
Gail Shea says the increase in funding announcements is not an exercise in vote buying.