Flurry of fed­eral money

Eg­mont MP Gail Shea ad­mits in­crease in fund­ing an­nounce­ments due to fed­eral elec­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERESA WRIGHT THE GUARDIAN

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Gail Shea says the in­crease in fund­ing an­nounce­ments is not an ex­er­cise in vote buy­ing.

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