I was reminded this morning that on 28 December 2012, some 6 years ago I retired from the Foreign Service, time flies when you are having fun as they say. In that time I started to work as a volunteer at the National Gallery in Ottawa, then some 3 years ago we moved to Charlottetown, PEI. We had been looking for some time for a place to retire and the condo we were renting was up for sale, we had to move. Only on the day the new owners took possession which was also the day we moved out, they told us why don’t you stay, the new owners had no plan to move in, in the foreseeable future.
We moved with the old puppies and 4 tons of furniture to PEI some 1100 Km away and one time zone Eastward. We have made a new life for ourselves here, involved in a myriad of volunteer activities.
In November 2017 I floated the idea that I might want to run for Office at City Hall. This is a considerable challenge, first I was unknown here in town. I was also warned that not being born in PEI was also a handicap. This is a small Island Province with a total population no bigger than a neighbourhood in a large metropolitan area. It is an Island and though the mainland of Canada is only 12 Km away and visible, it often feels like we are in another country. The Islanders are a friendly bunch but being a small community they are weary of foreigners even if they are fellow Canadians. The Island still operates on the idea that they are a Summer resort which is a shame since there is so much to do year round.
I started my campaign in February 2018 for the seat of City Councillor in Ward 1 in Charlottetown, I met tons of people, made 7 YouTube videos on issues, attended all manner of events around our Ward, knocked on doors, talked with people, participated in a candidates debate, gave interviews to the press etc. It was a huge learning experience, my neighbours are chatty and will give you their opinion on any topic. Many have lived here all their lives, some were even born on the very street the now live on in old age. Some rarely leave the City, let alone cross the river to visit Stratford which is 2 minutes away. I really enjoyed the inter-action and talking to people, I met and had coffee with other politicians, got advice from other city mayors, councillors in other Wards, Provincial politicians, everyone seemed interested in my campaign, many told me I was a brave soul to throw my name into the hat.
During the Summer, in August I took a small vacation and we visited with our friends MCR & DAW from Phoenix the Province of Nova Scotia which is about 90 minutes away from our home. We met in Halifax, a great city with wonderful attractions and restaurants. Designer Cocktails are all the rage and quite fun. We then drove leisurely towards Annapolis Royal which at one point was a bouncing ball between the French and British Empire with a hostage population of Acadians. This small town is an object lesson in how Empires can mismanage their colonies when distracted by other events in Europe. We then proceeded to Wolfville a college town on the Bay of Fundy and Grand Pré the celebrated Acadian settlement with its museum. The area is dotted with vineyards and good restaurants not to forget the beautiful scenery.
I never realized how much work campaigning was all about. In the end I did not win but did get more than 10% of the vote, which for an unknown like me was an accomplishment. Many people have since asked me to stay involved in City politics and I remain involved and have met with our new Councillor several times since election night. But I was exhausted and quite happy to take a Holiday to Portugal which I really enjoyed. It was a celebration, since Will and I were celebrating our 40 years together.
Finally in the week of 17 December Parliament in Ottawa ended its Fall Session and this will be the last in the Old Central Block of Parliament. The House of Commons is moving to the West Block next door for the next 15 years and the Senate will move across the street to the old Train Station. The Central block built between 1917-21 is undergoing the first renovation ever of all its mechanical system and the entire building will undergo a great renovation to bring it up to the modern age. This means when it re-opens again all the Members sitting in the House will be retired and the same applies to the Senators. The cost of renovating the buildings of Parliament is estimated at $3.1 billion dollars. Already the West Block alone cost $250 million in renovations and the old Train Station was another $210 million.
What will 2019 bring, well I do not know. I will continue with my volunteer activities and will follow developments at City Hall. Our New Mayor is a progressive guy with good ideas and vision for the City, which is a relief and an improvement on the past.
Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor of PEI, the Honorable Antoinette Perry and I at Government House. Every year the public comes to pay their respect on January 1 at the Annual Levée on January 1. I will be on site volunteering on that day and greeting people.
Wishing all a very Happy New Year with all manner of good things.
Bonne et Joyeuse Année 2019.
Canadian Coast Guard wharf, Port of Charlottetown, December 2018 the number 9 has been put in place.