Let’s put an end to the ridiculous idea that some PC leadership candidates weren’t invited to the NFU forum on the land held last night (January 22, 2019) at the Murchinson Centre in Charlottetown.
Here is a screen capture of the original invitation Douglas Campbell, District 1 Director of the NFU, sent to all five candidates on January 13th (note the names at the top of the email in the “to” line).
Douglas Campbell was forced to read this invitation during his opening remarks at the forum last night to correct a false claim being made that some candidates were not invited to the forum. I’m reluctantly posting this information to put a stop to these unfounded excuses for no-shows by three of the candidates, because they are implicitly calling into question the honesty and integrity of a very good man and personal friend.
Here’s Allan Dale response to Mr. Campbell confirming that he would be attending:
Dennis KIng attended a hockey game last night rather than the NFU forum.
I received these two confirmations of attendance as “attachments” to the response which Douglas Campbell sent to the Dennis King, Allen Dale and Sarah Stewart-Clarke campaigns after they informed him they would not be attending the day before the event, which he also cc’d to both Shawn Driscoll and me:
This email was in response to an email sent to Douglas on Monday, January 21st at 1:03 pm, originating from the Dennis King campaign, but speaking on behalf of Sarah, Allen and Dennis. Sarah Stewart-Clarke has since posted that email on her Facebook wall:
“It has come to the attention of the Dale, King and Stewart-Clark campaigns that the NFU is promoting an all candidate debate on land use on PEI. After verifying with the PC Party that this is not a sanctioned event and with the change of format since the original communication from the NFU; the Dale, King and Stewart-Clark campaigns will not be attending. While this is a topic we each care deeply about, we have never agreed to be part of this debate and in some cases no communication to the campaign teams was even made. We had previous engagements set in our schedules and will be honoring those commitments. We would be happy to meet with the NFU after the leadership campaign on February 9th”. Dennis King (Adam G. Ross), Allan Dale (Blake Doyle) Sarah Stewart-Clark (Duane Gorman)”
The NFU Land Forum was (1) advertised on the NFU website: (2) posted as an event on Facebook: (3) was announced in an article in the Eastern Graphic last Wednesday: (4) was announced again at the Charlottetown PC Leadership debate last Thursday: and (5) announced again in the Guardian on Monday.
Although the forum was not a PC Convention Committee-sanctioned event, the PC Party nonetheless supported the forum by lending the same podiums used in the PC-sponsored debates in Summerside and Charlottetown, as well as the other non-PC-sponsored forum at Mill River.
The forum was well-attended with Islanders from every political party, and many PC members, including our current PC Leader James Aylward. Sitting MLA Darlene Compton and MLA nominated candidate Hilton McLennan were also in attendance.
Despite the absence of three of the five leadership candidates, it was a wonderful event, with more than 120 enthusiastic people in attendance. And former Guardian Editorial and Opinion page editor Bill McGuire – who clearly did his homework on land issues – did a great job moderating.
I’m not asking – nor expecting – that Sarah, Allen, and Dennis offer a credible explanation for why they banded together to inform the NFU at the last minute that they wouldn’t be showing up (I was never contacted by any of them nor have I spoken with them on this matter); but because I so admire the NFU for going forward with the event under such difficult circumstances, I would implore them to stop pretending they didn’t know about it, stop saying that the format was changed, or that it was poorly organized, and especially, stop saying that they weren’t invited. They were. In fact, Doug contacted me concerned that he hadn’t heard back from Sarah and I provided him a second email which the PC Party uses when sending important information and updates to all five candidates and he resent the invitation to Sarah using that email address.
The Land and what becomes of it is – in my opinion – the most important issue facing Islanders at the present time, especially those aspiring to lead the next government. If only more people and other organizations were ringing the alarm bells on this important issue as loudly as the NFU!
I really appreciate the opportunity the NFU provided to the next leader of the PC Party to spell out a plan and commit to actions which are desperately needed to protect and land – actions which, quite frankly, are not happening under the Liberal government.
I truly lament that only two candidates vying for the honour to lead the PC Party seized the opportunity to participate in such an important and timely forum. I think it was a mistake on the part of the three no-shows, but I suppose we’ll only find out how much of blunder it was when the votes are counted at the Convention on February 9th.
Here is my reminder (and plug) about the NFU Forum which I gave at the Charlottetown PC-sponsored debate on January 17, immediately following Sarah’s response to a question posed to all candidates on agriculture: