Ghiz maintains highway project will continue

Premier Robert Ghiz says the Trans-Canada Highway realignment project will continue despite protests.

Protesters say they will continue to protest at highway site

Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz says work to realign the Trans Canada Highway in the Bonshaw area will continue.

Ghiz says he is convinced it is the best way to address safety concerns on that stretch of highway. Protesters have been on the site since work began about a week ago.

Ghiz says if the Plan B project means he will not win the next election, so be it.

"I'm told every day, regardless of what the issue is, that this issue is going to defeat you in the next election," said Ghiz. "And I say you know, quite frankly, I can't lose in my opinion for doing the right thing. And if I do lose, that's politics."

Ghiz admits there has been more opposition to the project than he expected. He also admits his government could have done a better job of explaining what it was trying to accomplish.

The Premier says the construction project is taking environmental factors into consideration. For Ghiz, the safety of people driving along the Trans-Canada is paramount.

"As long as I can live with the decisions that we're making and this decision is one that we need to make to improve the safety of the highway," said Ghiz. "But we're going to do it in the most environmentally friendly manner possible."

Ghiz notes the province is buying 700 acres in the area but only using 100 acres for the highway. That means at the end of the project, there will be 600 more acres of protected provincial land.

On the protest site, there appears to be another roadblock to the construction project. A sacred fire lit in a First Nations ceremony by a Mi'kmaq elder continues to burn. Tradition requires that it stay lit for seven days.

"Everything with the Mi'kmaq tradition is in seven," said John Joe Sark. "It can't be put out or moved."

Sark plans to renew the ceremony, giving the fire seven more days of life at the site. That's providing the RCMP with a tough decision on how to proceed.

"We do realize that there may come a day when we have to deal with it," said Sgt. Andrew Blackadar. "But we want to do it in a respectful manner and not offend the Mi'kmaq people and still let everyone have their say in this."

Protesters say they aren't giving up.

"If they manage to cut back all the old growth Hemlock here, then we'll go into the Acadian forest and set up another camp," said Roy Johnstone.

The protesters say they have been misled and let down by police.