PEI

Turkey accusations fly

A plan to introduce wild turkeys to the Island has environmental groups calling foul and feathers flying in the legislature.

A plan to introduce wild turkeys to the Island has environmental groups calling foul and feathers flying in the legislature.

The P.E.I. Wildlife Federation and the P.E.I. Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation have received conditional approval from government to introduce wild turkeys to Prince Edward Island. The wildlife federation hopes to eventually establish a population that could be hunted.

The Island Nature Trust says wild turkeys are not native to P.E.I., and could damage the environment. If the government wants to introduce species to the Island, says executive director Jackie Waddell, it should have a different focus.

"We would much rather see the reintroduction of a native species that was extirpated, which means it's locally extinct but exists elsewhere," says Waddell. "River otter comes to mind."

Gary Schneider, co-chair of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island, says the government is listening to the wrong people. He's trying to build a coalition of people to convince the government to change its mind.

Both groups say they already told government their concerns when the idea first came up last fall.

Apology demanded in legislature

In the legislature, Liberal MLA Richard Brown repeated suggestions he'd received that Environment Minister Jamie Ballem was the turkey in this dispute, and Ballem took offence at the unparliamentary language.

During question period Liberal MLA Richard Brown said he received several calls at the Liberal office Tuesday morning, asking who the turkey was that was planning on bringing turkeys to P.E.I. At the end of question period, government house leader Cletus Dunn asked Speaker Greg Deighan to demand an apology from Brown.

Deighan went on to ask for the apology.

"In regards to the reference the member from Charlottetown-Kings Square made, indicating that the minister of environment, energy and forestry was inappropriately referred to as a type of land bird, I request the member withdraw this inference and apologize to said member," said Deighan.

Brown was quick with his reply. He pointed out that technically he never called Ballem a turkey, but rather it was the callers who had referred to the minister by a fowl name.

Nevertheless, Brown asked that the comment be struck from the record, stopping just short of apologizing to Ballem.

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