Patrick Binns, the Canadian consul in Boston, said in an interview that the Canadian government hadn't taken a position on the East-West Highway idea, and it wasn't much discussed in his country. But he said "as a matter of general principle," Canada would like to see the "infrastructure" between the two nations enhanced.

The business-oriented conference participants were "in a bubble," commented Chris Buchanan, the anti-highway activist. Despite the issue's contentious nature, no one was invited to oppose Vigue. Buchanan paid $50 to attend.

Her group has stressed the development of local economic activity as an alternative to the massive highway project, which opponents see as destructive to Maine's rural character, forests, mountains, wildlife, water resources, and tourist appeal. They see it mainly benefiting Canadian and American corporations while providing few jobs to Mainers.

In addition to the university, a large Canadian corporation, TD Bank, was a conference sponsor, along with the Maine International Trade Center and the Canadian government.

EWpicketsign_main
Other E-W Highway forums

A small group of picketers greeted participants outside UM's Wells Conference Center on the morning Vigue spoke, carrying signs such as "Vigue's Dream Is Our Nightmare."

Besides the St. Stephen forum, Vigue gave a presentation in Augusta on April 12. Protesters were at both (see "Politicos Like the East-West Highway; How about the Public?" by Lance Tapley, April 20, 2012).

Two meetings on the proposal have been scheduled in Dover-Foxcroft, with expected presentations by Cianbro representatives. Both are open to the public. The first, a presentation to the Piscataquis County commissioners, is at 9 am, May 15, in the county courthouse, East Main Street; the second, at 6 pm, May 31, in the Foxcroft Academy auditorium, Route 15. And Vigue is speaking to the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce annual dinner, 5 pm, May 11, Knights of Columbus Hall; tickets are $35.

Lance Tapley can be reached at  lance.tapley@gmail.com.

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