Prince Edward Island sees peak anti-alien sentiment when visitors return

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CHARLOTTETOWN – Canada’s smallest province, which used to define itself as “the sweet island”, sees less sweet attitudes emerging towards people perceived as coming from other provinces – a phenomenon that the Premier of the -Prince-Edouard, Dennis King, probably explains at the instigation of COVID. 19 fears.The province has been closed to all non-essential travelers since April 17, and did not begin allowing seasonal residents to come from Canada until June 1.

These travel restrictions have been hailed as essential to keeping the virus contained in only 27 cases in total since the start of the pandemic – now all healed – without hospitalizations, no deaths and no community spread of the disease.

But with the cottage owners now arriving on the island, several people with out-of-province license plates have seen their cars vandalized, confronted or left unpleasant notes in incidents known locally as “shame” of plates ”.

Watch: P.E.I. The installation “Heart of Hope” lights up for Atlantic Canadians. The story continues below.

Miriam Leslie, a local pastor, rents a car with Nova Scotia license plates and discovered a note left on his windshield earlier this month that said, “Go back to the mainland.” ”

Instead of a signature, the author signed it from “all of Prince Edward Island”.

“When we found the bill after a visit to a beautiful park, it was definitely disappointing,” said Leslie on Saturday.

Leslie has now placed a sign in her front and rear windows indicating that she resides on the island, which she says has helped avoid further conflicts.

Other similar incidents have been reported on social media in recent weeks. Jordan Bujold, a student at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, posted a photo of his car on Facebook last week showing a large note in the window saying, “Stroke student. I have been here since January. Please don’t damage my car anymore! ”

In an accompanying note, she said that her car with New Brunswick license plates had been seized and the same thing had happened to a woman with whom she had spoken and who had license plates from New Brunswick. ‘Ontario.

Others with out-of-town license plates said they were challenged in grocery and retail parking lots by residents who asked about their travel history.

These incidents come after weeks of heated debate among residents over the province’s decision to allow seasonal residents to come to their provincial cottages with active cases of the new coronavirus.

This debate has even spilled over into the provincial legislature, with the opposition and Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker blaming Islanders for their unusual hostility toward foreigners toward the King government for what they consider to be inconsistent messages.

“Isolated incidents”

King acknowledges that the province’s initial four-phase plan to phase out restrictions has been accelerated, but maintains that all decisions to ease restrictions have been made in consultation with the province’s chief public health unit .

“From the start, we realized that we had to evolve and adapt every day to many of the decisions we made,” he said in an interview on Saturday.

“I am certainly confident in the process we are putting in place on the premise that everything is based on the best scientific and scientific data and the best public health information.”

He called the anti-alien sentiment “isolated incidents” and believes they were sparked by fear of the unknown triggered by a disturbing resurgence of COVID-19 cases in some states in the United States.

“My own belief is that many people in our province and beyond have watched the events unfold around the world and perhaps transport them here,” he said.

“For example, if you see what’s going on in Florida, it’s very different from what’s going on here, so I think that’s a big part of that. “

If only we hadn’t been afraid of each other during these months, maybe people could feel more comfortable.Miriam leslie

Next week, beginning on July 3, travel and self-isolation restrictions in the four Atlantic provinces will be lifted, thanks to an “Atlantic bubble” announced this week by the four premiers ‘Atlantic.

King hopes that tourists from the Atlantic will remember the hospitality of Prince Edward Island has always been in the past and does not see these recent negative incidents as a deterrent to the island.

“It is certainly my great hope that we will roll out the welcome mat for those who visit Prince Edward Island,” said King.

“The experience, if it is a little different because of COVID, I certainly hope it will not be different from a hospitality situation. ”

Leslie echoed this, noting that the economy of Prince Edward Island is heavily dependent on the tourism industry, which has been devastated by the travel restrictions of the pandemic to date.

“These are anxious moments for everyone. I hope people will feel welcome as visitors from outside the island, “she said.

“If only we hadn’t been afraid of each other during these months, maybe people could feel more comfortable. “



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