Four promises from the throne speech caught the ears of spectators in the public gallery:
- Plans to take action on lobster industry reports
- Changes to the Land Protection Act
- A new degree program for UPEI
- A memorial to Stompin’ Tom Connors.
The government’s speech acknowledged two reports on the lobster industry now require action.
The text of the speech reads:
“Two studies undoubtedly will form the basis for future change in the lobster sector — the report from former auditor general Colin Younker, and the just released report of a Maritime Lobster Panel. The lobster industry is the backbone of the Island fishery and is positioned for economic growth.
“Government’s commitment to the sector will remain strong. Seafood products will form a major focus within the Food Innovation Strategy.”
Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I.’s Fishermen's Association, said he was eager to see what those changes would be.
"We're interested in the marketing end of it, developing more in-depth process to get a wider range of markets and get a better price, that's the main thing,” he said.
Land Protection Act
Farmers want action on the Land Protection Act. The speech promised changes there, too. It said the government had appointed Charlottetown lawyer and former legislator Horace Carver to look at reviewing the act.
“The Carver Report together with an implementation plan will be tabled in this assembly and made public during the current session,” it said.
But the Federation of Agriculture worries it may not get what it wants: higher limits on land ownership. Currently, an individual can own no more than 1,000 acres and a corporation no more than 3,000 acres.
Alvin Keenan, president of the federation, wants that raise "from 1,000 to 1,500 and from 3,000 to 4,500 for a corporation. It remains to be seen how that will unfold."
Stompin’ Tom Connors
Less controversial is a planned memorial to Stompin’ Tom Connors. The throne speech called him “an undisputed Canadian and Prince Edward Island legend” and quoted the lyrics to Bud the Spud. Connors was born in Saint John, N.B., raised near Tignish and died in Ontario earlier this year.
“Stompin’ Tom Connors occupies an exalted and unique place in the legion of Canadian folk poets and singer-songwriters, and as Islanders we are proud to claim him as a native son,” it said. “The province aspires to work with the Connors family and federal partners to honour and commemorate the life and music of Tom Connors by establishing a lasting and living memorial to this great Canadian.”
UPEI officials celebrated the announcement of a new School of Design Engineering to be set up at the university. For the first time, UPEI will grant bachelor's degrees in engineering.
The new degree program will accept its first students next fall.
Alaa Abd-el-Aziz, president of UPEI, said it will support the island's aquaculture, energy and food processing industries.
"What we are talking about is preparing engineers to tackle and work with industry in solving problems that hopefully will advance our industry and our economy,” he said.