The Conservative Party of Canada’s Egmont Electoral District Association held its annual general meeting in Slemon Park on Saturday. Ane Huestis (left), president of the association, Egmont MP Gail Shea, Miramichi MP Tilly O'Neill Gordon and Donna MacKay, association treasurer. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE — After manoeuvering through the trials and tribulations of working on Parliament Hill, it must be a relief for Egmont MP Gail Shea to come home and meet with her supportive riding association.
The Conservative Party of Canada’s Egmont Electoral District Association held its annual general meeting in Slemon Park on Saturday.
It was a relatively short meeting, mostly full of the minutia required to run an association, but it did provide Shea with an opportunity to update her most ardent constituents on her activities.
It’s been an eventful year, said Shea, who is currently minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
She spent about half of it as National Revenue minister before moving back into her previous post of fisheries minister.
She touched briefly on a number of initiatives of the Conservative Party, including the Free Trade agreement with Europe, job creation and new cyberbullying legislation.
During her roundup she touched briefly on one the issue of changes to the Employment Insurance program, changes critics say has made it harder for Islanders to get EI and forced them to leave the province.
It’s a topic that has dogged Shea, as the only Conservative MP on the Island, for months.
She told her supporters much of what she’s repeated to critics in the past, namely that Islanders have always had to roam away from home to new better opportunities and the changes to EI don’t change that.
“Everybody in this room knows there has been outmigration from P.E.I. for forever. That’s why we have so many relatives in Boston, Toronto and everywhere else,” she said.
Why would anyone stay on the Island if they can earn a significantly better living away, she asked.
She pointed to young people specifically.
“Young people are not going to sit around all winter and collect EI. They want to work. The next generation will be different from the last generation,” she said.