'No pipe' placards popping up on P.E.I. election signs

Some federal election signs around P.E.I. are carrying an extra message — candidates are adding a second, smaller sign that says "no pipe in the Strait."

'It's not something to take lightly, it's something I truly believe in'

Conservative candidate Wayne Phalen has been adding 'No Pipe in the Strait' to his election signs. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Some federal election signs around P.E.I. are carrying an extra message — candidates are adding a second, smaller sign printed with the words "No Pipe in the Strait."

The signs are from the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, and they oppose a proposal by the Northern Pulp mill in Nova Scotia across the Northumberland Strait from Prince Edward Island to extend a waste-water effluent pipe into the strait, part of its plan to improve its pollution control. Nova Scotia's environment minister has to make a decision by mid-December.

"We did have an inquiry from one candidate," said Ian MacPherson, executive direction of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association. "It went to our board of directors ...  and they decided to make the offer [of free signs] to all the candidates."

As of Thursday, the association said it had distributed about 150 of the signs to candidates. About 60 of them are in the Cardigan riding, across the Strait from the pulp mill in Pictou, N.S.

"To me it's a no-brainer," said Cardigan Conservative candidate Wayne Phelan, who has added 40 of the association's signs on to his own roadside election signs.

"We've got clean water here," he said. "Fix it before the problem happens — it's that simple."

A lot of residents didn't know about the issue until they saw the signs, according to Phelan.

Some Islanders unhappy with signs

Phalen said having the message on his election signs shows where he stands on the issue, but he knows some don't like what he's done.

The Northern Pulp mill has proposed a pipeline that would carry effluent from its plant to the Northumberland Strait. (David Gutnick/CBC)

"A lot of people have — mostly Liberals — said that I'm trying to take advantage of this," Phalen said. "It's not something to play with. It's not something to take lightly, it's something I truly believe in."

He said opposition has mostly come from people who support other parties and from Islanders who supply wood to the pulp mill.

'Where we can we want to put them up,' says NDP candidate for Cardigan Lynne Thiele. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

NDP candidate Lynne Thiele has also been adding the message to her campaign signs.

"We don't have that many signs, but the principle [is] that we support the fishermen and no pipe in the strait, under no circumstances," Thiele said.

Green candidate Glen Beaton said he is totally against Northern Pulp's pipeline project.

"They haven't done the research they need," he told CBC News.

The Liberal Party said they are not posting the signs but did not respond immediately to CBC's inquiry about their position on the pipeline. 

MacPherson said the fishermen's association does not support any particular candidate or party but is happy to see the issue at the forefront for some candidates.

"I'm going to order some more. There has been so much uptake, so that is a good thing. We want to get that word out that it is a huge issue for the fishing community." 

More P.E.I. news 

With files from Brian Higgins


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