Over at his blog, Peter Rukavina describes his part in bringing the Internet to rural Prince Edward Island.
Robert Morrissey was Minister of Economic Development in the Catherine Callbeck government in the early 1990s when I began work on the first website of the provincial government. As such, he was the first person I came to know as “the Minister,” and it takes every fibre of my being to call him Robert, let alone calling him “Bobby,” which is what he prefers, and what everybody else calls him.
In last year’s federal election, Robert (er, Bobby) was elected Member of Parliament for Egmont, the district on the western end of Prince Edward Island, and it was in this capacity that, through an intermediary, he reached out to me earlier this year to ask if I could help to facilitate a town hall on rural Internet access he was planning to host for his constituents. He needed someone impartial – which is to say, someone not in the Internet business themselves – to explain the basics of Internet access to those attending, and to sketch out what’s available on the ground right now, how much it costs, and, in the end, why it’s more expensive and slower than what we in urban PEI have access to.
I’m no Internet-access expert, but I know my way around the terminology, I’ve suffered from poor rural Internet myself (when I first crafted http://www.gov.pe.ca, it was on the end of a 14.4 Kbps modem connection), and I have some facility in explaining complicated things, so I agreed, and after some schedule juggling, this past Friday, September 23 was set as the date, and the St. Louis Community Centre, deep in the heart of West Prince, was set as the location.
St. Louis, in PEI terms, is a long drive from Charlottetown (the first time I had a meeting planning for the area, back in 1993, my coworkers were surprised to hear I wasn’t staying overnight). But it’s really not that far – 2 hours from door to door – and so I set off around 4:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon for a planned 6:00 p.m. arrival and setup and a 7:00 p.m. meeting.