Two weeks ago, we ran a story about how the seemingly tranquil, inoffensive, and pristine little Canadian province of Prince Edward Island was actually a relative hotbed of marijuana growing. Since the story ran, it has exploded into an international We Said/Canadians Said — the fricking Minister of Tourism of Prince Edward Island blasted us, and scores of Canadians seemed outraged that the Phoenix deigned to replace the beloved maple leaf on their flag with a leaf that is entirely more smokable. Here is a sampling of the outraged comments, followed by a response from the author, Alan R. Earls.
I imagine you’ve received a fair amount of criticism regarding your article on the “explosion” of marijuana production on Prince Edward Island, and your editor, on the Canadian Broadcasting Company, promised some corrections in the next issue, but he didn’t suggest a withdrawal of the “explosive” image you created.
I’m a fairly recent immigrant to PEI, so I have no long-standing attachment. Accurate reporting is still important to me — in fact, reporting that isn’t accurate can hardly be described as reporting at all, can it? More like fiction. Still, I want to thank you for enlivening the Island’s image — even at the expense of accuracy. I understand many visitors ask to see Anne-You-Know-Who’s [of the Green Gables] gravesite, and fail to grasp she never was; a fiction, like the main premise of your article.
“Defiantly dry” communities? Only when the rain don’t fall. Two hundred and fifty marijuana plants seized, compared with 200 last year? Wow! We’re going big-time, eh? Inexpensive electricity from Quebec? Take a peek at my power bill, and weep for me as you take another drag.
Would you mind if I start a campaign to have you given an honourary (forgive my quaint spelling) citizenship for enlivening PEI’s rather staid image? We’re obviously more “with it,” exciting, and “lurid” than I ever imagined. The “Gentle Island” image was never to my liking. The tourism industry’s late blooming will no doubt be attributable to your sexing up the place. The new flag was a stroke of genius.
Good luck in the future, and keep up the creative writing. Maybe you missed your calling.
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Obviously this guy has never been to PEI! Once again another American who doesn’t have a clue about Canada. Worry about your own gun-ridden, crack-infested country and having a complete moron for a president.
British Columbia, Canada
Wow the only person I can think of using pot is the author of this article! Four cities in PEI? I only count two, the largest being Charlottetown with a population of 32,000. Cheap electricity from Quebec? Hardly cheap. One of the most expensive in Canada. And what isn’t generated on PEI comes from New Brunswick. The cheap Quebec electricity gets sold to the US instead of staying in Canada. Emergency staff getting trained in Baltimore? That’s just crap. Just like the article. Pot in PEI? Yeah, I know there is. Does it need to be controlled better? I can think of better places to put the public funds.
Terry W Parker
Prince Edward Island, Canada
ALAN R. EARLES RESPONDS
Prince Edward Island is probably the nicest place I’ve ever visited. There, I’ve said it. Unfortunately, when I’ve traveled there (twice, in 2006 and 2008), I have also discovered that, despite the fact that it looks like paradise, it has problems just like other places. In particular, the provincial newspapers have had quite a few stories about local pot growers. So, I got interested and wrote an article for the Phoenix about this aspect of PEI that is not well known to outsiders and which, in fact, probably should worry islanders.
Folks up north nailed me on a couple of reporting errors — like my statement that PEI imports “cheap” electricity from Quebec (it actually comes from New Brunswick). I was also told repeatedly by Canadian critics that I had named the wrong person as director of the PEI Federation of Agriculture. After re-checking my facts, however, I found that I was indeed right and my friends in Canada were wrong: the holder of the title is in fact Mike Nabuurs (though I did miss the last two consonants on his name in my piece — sorry Mike!).
The article was not meant to suggest that PEI has become a giant exporter of pot or a major narcotics haven north of the border. Rather, the point was to contrast an ongoing and seemingly worsening situation with PEI’s image as a clean, peaceful, and serene destination. That this situation could worsen or could impact the larger picture of drug trafficking in New England and in the Maritimes seems implicit. The minor factual errors in the story do not undercut the accuracy of this message.