CA News

April 21st, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's Citizens' Alliance News

Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM) today.  People concerned about the 18-U.S.state Romaine lettuce recall for E. coli contamination could consider that local and seasonal greens, in addition to reasonable washing practices, would be less risky, and much better for the local economy.

Some Earth Day activities for tomorrow, Sunday, April 22nd:
Fusion Charlottetown Cleanup, 12:45, Meeting at Victoria Row.
Town of Stratford celebrations, 1:30-3:30PM, Cotton Park.

Jamie Larkin has announced he is running for Mayor of Charlottetown for the fall election.  He joins already-declared candidate Al Douglas.  Current Mayor Clifford Lee has decided not to reoffer.
Jamie is a financial planner, outdoorsman, and dedicated volunteer, and one of the kindest, giving people on the Island.  I know him from the Green Economy Network (an initiative that Mary Boyd has been leading) and from the Highway Plan B opposition.  Jamie for Mayor Facebook page.

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Late in the Legislative Assembly yesterday, debate on the Justice and Safety Department budget estimates was shoved aside for Summerside-Wilmot MLA Chris Palmer's introduction of Motion 43, the third and perhaps final Motion introduced in this Legislative sitting about electoral reform and the Liberal government promised referendum. 

To review:  The Liberal government has said referendum legislation would be introduced in this Spring Sitting, but wasn't finalized.  In late March, the Premier indicated that First Past the Post would a "an option" on the ballot.
March 27, 2018  Tuesday, from:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-first-past-the-post-system-option-in-referendum-1.4595433
"Premier Wade MacLauchlan's office has confirmed that the first-past-the-post voting system — used now for provincial elections — will be one of the options in the upcoming referendum on electoral reform.
....
"In a statement to CBC, the premier's office said details around the referendum question have yet to be finalized, and will be addressed in the upcoming sitting of the legislative assembly."


Opposition Leader James Aylward introduced Motion 34 on April 5th, which moves to have a Consensus Government choice added to the referendum ballot.

Third Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker introduced "Electoral Reform", Motion No. 39
which calls on the government to hold the referendum *after* mixed member proportional representation has been used for two general elections.  This Motion has not been called to the floor of the Legislature, yet.  (It would allow electoral reform to happen in the next decade, not put off for another, which I think many younger voters certainly would be pleased to see.)

Yesterday, Palmer introduced Motion 43, "Calling on the Legislative Assembly to adopt a clear question for the upcoming referendum on democratic renewal."
The interesting thing is that the "clear question" in the Motion is "whether Islanders wish to adopt the Mixed Member Proportional system, no or yes."

"No or Yes"?   As someone quipped, that flows off the tongue as effortlessly and logically as potatoes or meat, pepper or salt, butter or bread... 
It's a bit mystifying that the government still apparently has no wording for the referendum legislation if they are now asking, on April 20th, for a debate on wording via a (non-binding) motion. The final half hour of the Legislature was Mover Chris Palmer and seconder Pat Murphy recycling speeches from the previous government Motion (the infamous No. 80 from the Second Session of the Assembly, in November 2016) to ignore the results of the electoral reform plebiscite.  The Premier also spoke to it for a while and the hour was called.
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The issue of the Three Rivers amalgamation proposal was brought up yesterday, and while new Communities, Land and Environment Minister Richard Brown talked about public meetings (before Cabinet's final say), my understanding is that IRAC has said they will accept public input until May 22 and then determine if there is enough interest to warrant a public meeting -- not automatically planning to hold them.  (Will check that)
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Commentator Kevin Arsenault writes about the Progressive Conservatives questions regarding the Proportional Representation Coalition:
https://kevinjarsenault.com/2018/04/20/unsubstantiated-allegations-and-threatening-responses-the-legacy-of-partisan-politics-and-the-need-for-consensus-governance-in-pei/

Unsubstantiated Allegations and Threatening Responses: The Legacy of Partisan Politics and the Need for Consensus Governance in PEI
by Kevin J. Arsenault, published on his blog on April 20th, 2018

This morning’s s
itting of the Legislative Assembly (April 20,2018) began with Progressive Conservative MLAs, Darlene Compton and Steven Myers, standing on “Points of Privilege,” citing parliamentary rules and procedures, then announcing they would later be tabling documents containing information they believe constitute “threats.”  Wow! Darlene in particular was visibly shaken and was obviously very emotional. 

 Compton and Myers apparently received these alleged threats as a result of Darlene Compton’s intervention in the House on Wednesday (April 18th) when she tabled documents alleging improprieties by certain individuals [Anna Keenan & Jordan Bober] each of whom are members of both the Green Party and the PEI  Coalition for Proportional Representation (PRC); namely, that they shared private information with the Green Party they obtained from the PRC.

It goes without saying that MLAs should be (and are) protected within the Legislative Assembly, and can say just about anything they want – within the boundaries of what is deemed to be parliamentary language – without fear of reprisals or recrimination from other MLAs or members of the general public.  They can state claims and make allegations while in the House without – for the most part – fear of legal consequence.  If MLAs were to say certain things “outside” the protection of the legislative assembly which they are free to say “inside” the rails, they could potentially be charged and possibly found guilty of an offence such as “libel” or “defamation of character”. This parliamentary protection also suggests that no MLA should ever be subjected to anything that could reasonably be construed as a “threat” from other MLAs or members of the public.

 On the other hand, MLAs must also take the utmost care not to abuse the privilege and protection afforded them while speaking in the Legislative Assembly.  To say anything that could possibly cause undue harm to any individual (or any organization) without substantive, compelling evidence  would clearly be an abuse of that privilege.

And that seems to be the key question generating considerable disagreement and tension in the current matter: did Compton have sufficient evidence to justify making public allegations of serious wrongdoing against two named individuals, and two provincial organizations, on Wednesday?  Might there have been a more prudent and professional route that she and the PC Party could have taken to deal with this issue (e.g., bringing those concerns privately to the Chief Electoral Officer and/or Information Commissioner requesting an investigation)?

The leader of the Green Party, Peter Bevan-Baker, made an immediate and categorical denial of any wrongdoing by anyone in the Green Party, assuring fellow MlAs and the general public that there is absolutely no basis in fact for the allegations suggesting the Green Party received private information from the PRC. He went a step further by taking the initiative to formally request that both the Chief Electoral Officer and the Privacy Commissioner immediately investigate the PC allegations, tabling official letters he sent to the head of each agency in the Legislative Assembly the very next day (Thursday, April 19). On Thursday, P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation representative Mark Greenan told The Guardian he was “…shocked and disappointed to hear Opposition MLA Darlene Compton make comments he said were false” and in the same article, “Green party president Anna Keenan, who is a volunteer with the coalition, also denied the allegations.”

I’ve read dozens of comments on social media on this issue since Wednesday, many expressing the view that the Progressive Conservative party should not have made such serious allegations (which could potentially be very harmful to both individuals and organizations) without much more solid evidence. I was surprised to hear Steven Myers read (and then table) one of those posts as a “threat;”  I had previously read that very same post on Facebook and didn’t read it as threatening comment at all. I just thought at the time that the person wasn’t clear that making unfounded allegations as a MLA may not be construed as  “defamatory,” “libelous,” etc. and regarded as “illegal” in our court system; in other words, the person likely wasn’t fully aware of the parliamentary protections afforded MLAs.  Further complicating the matter is the fact that Darlene Compton has a video posted on the PEI PC Party Facebook page (which is outside the protection of the Legislative Assembly) which repeats allegations and, in particular, calls into question the integrity and actions of Anna Keenan who, apparently, makes her living working in the field of data management. 

Although I’m not privy to the full basis for the very serious allegations that have been made by the PC Party in this matter, it appears from what was said and tabled in the Legislative Assembly that the only basis for action was “hearsay testimony” from a number of individuals in Hannah Bell’s district who apparently belong to the PC party. This raises questions about the wisdom of tabling those allegations in the House and putting them on the public record: at a minimum, it’s terrible optics for the PCs.

That’s no doubt why so many people suspect that these public accusations constitute an unwarranted partisan attempt to discredit and undermine the “competition” which is doing better in the polls and currently gaining such prominence in PEI (e.g., the Green Party). So it’s not-at-all surprising that some people – especially Green Party members and those volunteering for and/or supporting the PR coalition – view what the PC Party has done as a “dirty” trick and very “partisan” political tactic.

For a political Party that just called for a “consensus government” option to be added to the ballot in the upcoming electoral reform referendum (an option that would make it easier for all MLAs to work together as a team, a “family” even) to take such an accusatory and public action against both the Green Party  and the PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation, especially given what appears to be little or no credible evidence (hearsay testimony is not regarded as “credible evidence” in our legal system) just feels wrong.

Perhaps there’s more to this story than I’m currently aware of, and if there is, well I stand to be corrected.  Nonetheless, what has transpired this week in the Legislative Assembly truly saddens me. I’m sure there was a less divisive and more professional way for this to have been handled by the PC Party.  I’m also sure many believe it exposes a deep-seated desire within the PC Party to – as they say on the Survivor reality-TV show – “Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast,” the Greens, which is a far-cry from the dynamics of consensus decision-making and respectful dialogue that should be evident with all MLAs elected and expected to work together to bring about the best outcomes for all Islanders.

Regardless of the outcome of any pending investigations regarding the allegations made by Darlene Compton and the PC Party against the Green Party and PRC, I suspect the Progressive Conservative Party has already lost a significant degree of credibility with many Islanders by claiming to be committed to collaboration and dialogue and “consensus government”  on the one hand, while taking preemptive action on the other hand in what definitely looks like an attempt to discredit another political party and advance their own partisan political interests.

PS:  For the record, although I would ideally like to see and prefer a consensus model of governance for PEI; I don’t believe that’s a practical or wise option for the immediate future. I therefore fully endorse the MMP system that won the plebiscite and will be voting for that option in the upcoming referendum. If and when the MMP system gets established in PEI, a more congenial and less partisan atmosphere within the Legislative Assembly may then result in a collaborate and democratic process that might ultimately lead to a true “consensus” government and the abolition of political parties in PEI.

        --Kevin Arsenault, April 20th, 2018


April 20th, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's Citizens' Alliance News

CBC Radio Island Morning political panel, after the 7:30 news and sports, 96.1FM this morning.  It may be enlightening, or indigestion-causing, depending.

Legislative Assembly sits today from 10AM-1PM, with Welcomes, Question Period and a couple of hours more of work.  Friday is sometimes very busy in the Gallery, but often is quite roomy after a little while.  Entrance for security purposes is in the lower entrance, and you need a photo I.D., or watch at home on-line at their website, or on some social media like Facebook.

Open House: UPEI Engineering School (School of Sustainable Design Engineering -- SSDE) Expo, 1-4PM, SSDE building.  For parking at UPEI,  it's very likely the gates will be open at the MacLauchlan Arena parking lot.  CBC article focusing on a couple of projects: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-upei-engineering-students-design-clinics-1.4627309
 
Owl Prowl, 6:30PM, Macphail Woods.  The second of four this month.  More details here:  https://macphailwoods.org/events/

Young At Heart (YAH) Musical Theatre public show: Generations of Fascinating Ladies, 7PM, Milton Hall, Rte. 224 at Rte. 7, Milton. This is one of the few public shows that helps fundraise for YAH's  regular work, which is performing professional shows at manors and others seniors' homes each spring.  The show is "a tribute to the wonderful female artists and great girl groups of the last century, including the Andrews Sisters, Etta James, and more. Songs will include: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, In the Mood, Sentimental Journey, and the Shoop Shoop Song, and features three dynamic performers: Kelley Mooney, Allison Kelley and Suzanne Wilkie." (from the website, edited)  Directed by Catherine O'Brien, who also chairs the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water. More details at their website, here.

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"When did we become an economy, instead of a society?"
-- District 11 Charlottetown-Parkdale MLA Hannah Bell

...in describing her first presented motion in the Provincial Legislature yesterday, Motion 56, "Security and Dignity for All Islanders", which calls on government to immediately review for red tape provincial social programs "to ensure that they not only provide Islanders with economic security; but also treat Islanders with respect; and support their overall well being."
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The PEI PR Coalition sends a positive message regarding some allegations from the members of the Progressive Conservative party in a video filmed yesterday:
https://www.facebook.com/PRActionTeam/
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More on the Kinder Morgan pipeline dispute, from MP Saanich-Gulf IslansElizabeth May, writing a guest opinion on-line on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018, in Policy Magazine:
http://policymagazine.ca/heres-what-you-dont-know-about-kinder-morgan/

Here’s what you don’t know about Kinder Morgan

Guest Column/ Elizabeth May

When Canadians used to speak of two solitudes, it meant the divide between Quebec and the rest of Canada. Increasingly, I feel that I live in a different country, only the dividing line is the Rockies, and the cultural disconnect is over the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Here is what the rest of Canada appears to take for granted:

  1. Kinder Morgan’s expanded pipeline was thoroughly reviewed
  2. Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is in the national interest
  3. Alberta’s economy depends on moving solid bitumen to export markets
  4. Eventually British Columbia must back down and accept the pipeline

Here’s the problem:

  1. Kinder Morgan’s expanded pipeline was not thoroughly reviewed

Prior to the 2012 omnibus budget Bill C-38, repealing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the National Energy Board (NEB) had had no role in environmental assessment. Thanks to C-38, it was put in charge of pipelines.

The NEB felt forced by time limits imposed by C-38 to alter its usual quasi-judicial process. Intervenors were denied procedural fairness — such as being allowed to cross-examine industry experts, or even to be allowed in the room. I was granted intervenor status in April 2014. My final argument on January 24, 2016 was the first time I was permitted to enter the room. The abuse of normal rules for procedural fairness was breathtaking.

The result was a hearing that left the NEB without actual evidence. It had a pile of worthless assertions, untested as evidence.

For example, the only evidence from KM about whether bitumen and diluent (dilbit) could be cleaned up in the marine environment came from a one-time only, non-published, non-peer reviewed experiment over a 10-day period in Gainford, Alberta. The tests were done in tanks of various seizes using fresh water with salt stirred in. According to Kinder Morgan’s evidence, the five-gallon pail and fish tank research went awry:

“Errors occurred in the fish tank, because the spill was installed in a manner that resulted in a large amount of dispersion at the outset, due to air ingestion, and the resulting slick was larger than the ruler and developed an asymmetric form.” They concluded: “A better-equipped test is certainly recommended for future consideration.” This Keystone Kops version of science was the entirety of KM’s evidence that bitumen mixed with diluent can be cleaned up.

Published studies, peer-reviewed and conducted in conditions that replicate the marine environment, demonstrate that the dilbit mixture separates and that small “oil balls” of bitumen are created, which then sink.

Canada’s premier scientific academy, the Royal Society of Canada, concluded that we lack the science to know if it is possible to clean-up dilbit. The NEB ruled that accepting the Royal Society study would be unfair to Kinder Morgan.

The NEB was unperturbed when a Kinder Morgan expert committed fraud,  whiting out the word “draft” from a US EPA spill dispersion model, then introducing it to the NEB claiming it was the approach used in the US. Another intervenor, economist Robyn Allan, contacted the EPA only to discover that they did not use this model. EPA staff were shocked it was being referenced as it was clearly labeled DRAFT. Not by the time KM finished altering it.

  1. There is no independent review making the case that Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is in the national interest

The NEB never conducted a review remotely capable of meeting the average citizen’s understanding of what is in the public interest. The largest union in the oil sands, Unifor, intervened before the NEB. Unifor attempted to enter evidence that building Kinder Morgan would cost jobs; shipping out unprocessed solid bitumen to refineries in other countries ships out Canadian jobs at the same time and increases the carbon footprint of the product. Shipping solid bitumen diluted with toxic fossil fuel condensate for export bypasses the last remaining refinery in Burnaby. The refinery cannot process bitumen. It has already cut its workforce by 30 per cent and if Kinder Morgan goes ahead, it will likely close. The NEB refused to accept the evidence. It ruled that its mandate did not include jobs, or climate, or upstream or downstream impacts.

So, “national interest,” according to the NEB, does not include energy security, net employment benefits, environment, climate, GDP, or anything other than getting the pipeline approved.

  1. Alberta’s economy does not depend on moving solid bitumen to export markets

When former Premier Peter Lougheed envisioned an oil sands industry, he said the first rule was “Think like an owner.” He had planned for bitumen to be processed in Alberta for a Canadian market. The idea that pipelines to ship out solid bitumen (with diluent to make a solid flow) was essential did not emerge until after the 2008 financial crisis. That pipeline was Keystone, straight south. And as late as 2011, Stephen Harper’s position was that no pipeline should be built to the B.C. coast as no bitumen should be exported to countries with lower environmental standards than those in Canada.

Then, suddenly, it was assumed that we must export to an Asian market. Has anyone noticed that the demand for our bitumen through Kinder Morgan’s existing exports is declining? The case for Kinder Morgan is a sleight-of-hand card trick.

All of this does not even touch on the fundamental issue of how Indigenous peoples and First Nations were treated through this process. I am choking on the lies and hypocrisy of Kinder Morgan, the NEB and now the Trudeau Liberals. It’s a miracle I can remain civil in my non-violent civil disobedience.

Elizabeth May is Leader of the Green Party of Canada. elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

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April 19th, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's Citizens' Alliance News

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM.  You can attend in the Gallery or watch live here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/

The afternoon session, after the usual Greeting and Question Period time, will be set by the Opposition Parties.  The Progressive Conservatives may bring their Private Member's Bill 107 up again. 

The text of the Bill is here:  An Act to Amend the Wildlife Conservation Act, Bill No. 107, now in second reading and a "committee of the whole House," is here.  This bill is short and and basically removes the prohibition on hunting on Sunday.  It was moved by Jamie Fox and seconded by Darlene Compton.

Whether or not you feel Sunday is the traditional day of rest for humans, there is major, major concern that wildlife are ones that need the rest from hunting pressure.  There is also the aspect of people who want to enjoy wildlife without concern of hunters around.  We all know hunters are supposed to have consent of property owners, but sometimes property lines are hard to ascertain when you are out in the woods or fields.

Though there Legislature spent Tuesday night on this for a good chunk of Opposition time, there really doesn't seem to have been a lot of general public consultation on this bill. 

While it's unknown whether this bill will come up again today or next week, if you have concerns about it, you can let your MLA know.

You can find your MLA (current district maps are found here) and the contact e-mail or phone number on this page:

http://www.assembly.pe.ca/current-members

It might be worth a quick e-mail or phone call this morning.

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Yesterday afternoon, Progressive Conservative Darlene Compton accused the Proportional Representation Coalition of sharing information with the Green Party of PEI.  It was done with lots of drama, real Strum und Drang, about 53 minutes in this video link:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/archives/index.php?file=20180418&number=1&year=2018

CBC on-line Article citation:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-green-party-privacy-breach-1.4625694

The PR Coalition posted this last night on the PR Action Facebook page:
The PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation was disappointed to hear MLA Darlene Comption ask questions today in the Legislature that are untrue and defamatory.
The Coalition has a strict privacy policy and no information collected as part of our campaign has been shared with any member group.
All Fall 2016 campaign staff (and volunteers since November 8, 2016, because we have been an all volunteer organization since then) with access to our website, database and Facebook page have signed and adhered to that policy at all times.
All information collected has only been used by the PR Coalition for the reason we were formed - to bring proportional representation to PEI to make Island democracy even better.
The PC Party might not be able to imagine that an organization would have a privacy policy and respect it, but we are proud to assure Islanders that the PR Coalition has never shared any information collected as part of our campaign with any of our member organizations.
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And yesterday's Graphic editorial by publisher Paul MacNeill:
http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_1c84390c-4257-11e8-8560-dfc7adbd045c.html

Aylward can’t grow PCs with flip-flops

by Paul MacNeill
published on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018, in
The Graphic publications

When it comes to self-inflicted wounds, no political party does it better than the PC Party of PEI. Just months into the job and newly minted leader James Aylward already boasts a string of broken or forgotten promises that breed questions of competency of both leader and party.

Aylward has not had an easy run since winning a lackluster contest over fellow MLA Brad Trivers. In an attempt to set himself apart he promised to eliminate corporate and union donations, while making a distinction of criticizing the premier for breaking a similar promise.

But since winning the leadership the promise is all but forgotten as Aylward and his cadre of backroom organizers opt for a traditional funding model, integrity be damned. Corporate donations are still welcome in Toryland, albeit at a flow considerably less than the governing Liberals, as the PCs try to eliminate a still substantial debt from the last provincial election while gearing up for the next.

Aylward has tried to sell himself as the candidate and leader that Islanders can trust. It’s not working. On a core issue like corporate influence on political parties he has ceded the moral high ground to the Greens who have introduced legislation banning donations. Once again Peter Bevan Baker has pressed Liberals into a corner while the Tories are forced to sit on their hands so the public doesn’t dwell on its hypocrisy.

But it gets worse for the Tories. There is no sign of the accountability and transparency that the leader and his MLAs like to roast (rightfully) government over.

I asked the Tory leader’s office for a list of all corporate donations made since Aylward became leader. Messages went unanswered. There was a vague promise to look into it. You would think a leader that promotes transparency would promote transparency in his own office.

Nope.

Part of this is attributable to a lack of courage and imaginative thinking. Aylward never said his opposition to corporate donations would only extend to the PC leadership race. He knew the party’s finances were troubled. Yet rather than deal with the issue head on, because expensive corporate tables at a leader’s dinner is only one way to fundraise, he assumed we will all forget and party politics would continue as normal.

Wrong. The Greens rise in popularity is directly attributable to the self-serving arrogance and hypocrisy of both the Liberals and Tories.

When out of the blue Aylward embraced the idea that political parties should be eliminated in favour of a Nunavut style consensus government, Aylward once again raised self-inflicted red flags about both his motivation and trustworthiness. The idea didn’t originate with the leader but his advisory council, primarily old school Tories who think they can do anything and the public will eventually support them. Wrong.

Aylward ran a full leadership contest and never raised the idea. There was a byelection in District 11. More silence. Only after the party tanked in a quarterly poll did the backroom panic and concoct the idea to toss aside political parties and embrace consensus government.

During the leadership Aylward promised to implement results of the upcoming electoral referendum. Apparently it never crossed his mind, nor his advisors, that suddenly promoting an idea out of the blue would again raise obvious questions. How can you repeatedly say ‘Listen to Islanders’ and then float an idea directly from the Tory backroom? It was not lost on many that the shot in the dark was floated only after the Tories lost a byelection and fell to a dismal 17 per cent in a CRA poll, which for context is roughly half of what Tories received in 1993 and Liberals in 2000 when each party was annihilated and elected only a single MLA.

Ironically Aylward’s big idea, which has landed with an unimpressive thump, could actually make a precarious financial situation even worse for the PCs. Corporations don’t buy tickets because of the chicken dinner or predictable speeches. They buy tickets to be seen and for influence. Period. Talk of eliminating political parties will make an already tough Tory ticket an even tougher sell.

The PC Party is in a very deep hole.

James Aylward is a decent man and a good MLA. But Islanders have no idea what his core values are and he only muddies the water when key promises become flexible depending on political winds. If he wants to be anything other than a footnote in Island history, he needs to do better and fast.

It will not be easy. The Tory party has a habit of eating leaders who fail to perform. Aylward must assert in very clear terms what differentiates him from the pack and outline a specific plan for achieving his goals – as compared to the desperation of the consensus government notion, an idea with no specifics and no plan.

If he can rein in his caucus and backroom he may have a chance of success, although the window of opportunity is narrowing quickly. If he fails he will become just another leader felled by flip-flops.

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at paul@peicanada.com

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Yours truly,
Chris Ortenburger,
Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.



April 18, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's Citizens' Alliance News

Public Accounts Standing Committee Meeting, 10AM-12noon, J. Angus MacLean Building, Great George Street.  Auditor General Jane MacAdam will be there, and the topic is her March 2018 Report to the Legislative Assembly.  This may not be broadcast on the Legislative Assembly website, but any details will be on their News Feed on the righthand side of their webpage.  All are welcome to sit in for any or all of the meeting in the Gallery seating in the J. Angus MacLean Building.

http://www.assembly.pe.ca/

P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM.
Video link found on website, above.

Here is the seating plan for the Legislative Assembly, with people's names, titles and seating locations.

Seating plan excerpt from: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/docs/seating_plan.pdf

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Tonight:
Owl Prowl at MacPhail Woods Ecological Centre, 7:30PM, with refreshments at the Homestead across the way starting at 6:30PM.
and Friday the 20th, Sunday the 22nd, Saturday the 28th.
        The Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation will open up the Great Room of the Homestead at 6:30pm and serve light refreshments.  Visitors can warm themselves by the fireplace and enjoy the historic beauty that surrounds them.  There will be no charge but donations to the Foundation will be gratefully accepted.
        The slide show and talk on owls starts at 7:30pm at the Nature Centre.  This is an excellent opportunity to learn about these rarely-seen birds.  From the tiny “saw whet” to the large “great horned”, owls have long been birds of mythology and misinformation.  The workshop will separate fact from fiction, combining a slide show with an outdoor walk.
        The talk starts with slides and recorded calls of common and uncommon owls that can be seen on Prince Edward Island.  There are also mounted displays of some of these birds as well as educational material on owls and their habits.
        Participants can then take a guided walk around the woods and try calling in owls.  Make sure to bring clothes suitable to weather conditions.  There is no admission for the workshop and everyone is welcome.  This is a very popular event and visitors are advised to come early.  We’re also asking the public to only attend one of these workshops, as our space is limited.
 This owl prowl kicks off an extensive series of outdoor activities at Macphail Woods, a project of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island.  For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please contact Gary Schneider at 651-2575, visit the website (www.macphailwoods.org) or find us on Facebook.
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Again, the other Owl Prowls are:
Friday the 20th,
Sunday the 22nd,
Saturday the 28th.
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Earth Day is Sunday, April 22nd, with details on events taking place to come.
 
Monday, April 23rd:
Movie:
Sacred Water: Standing Rock, 7PM, UPEI, Duffy Amphitheatre.
Sacred Water: Standing Rock is the first in an 8-part documentary series that showcases Indigenous activists across the Americas rising up to protect their ancestral homelands and the environment.... The film will be introduced by Eliza Starchild Knockwood, who has recently released her own film about water protectors - TheWater Protectors Journey - Along the Sipekne’katik River.
http://peiwater.com/2018/04/17/sacred-water-standing-rock/
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One clear voice looking to the future regarding the Kinder-Morgan pipeline
Naomi Klein and the and The LEAP project.  This link includes a five minute video and place to sign your name to a letter sent to your MP.
https://theleap.org/portfolio-items/stopkm/

Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn't filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear.
        -Naomi Klein

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Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.


April 17, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's Citizens' Alliance News for today:

P.E.I. Legislature resumes sitting for the week, today, Wednesday and Thursday 2-5PM (with Question Period starting about 10-15 minutes into the session), and with evening sessions Tuesday and Thursday, 7-9PM.  Friday will be from 10AM-1PM.  The Watch Live and many documents are here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/
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An oversight on my part regarding the provincial Women's Institute "Spring is in the Air" fundraising for the Prince County Hospital last Friday, is that Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers was the gracious and energetic emcee, keeping the evening moving along, and showing off the auction pieces all around the room while Moe Monaghan expertly called the auction.

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Dawn Wilson on behalf of the Coalition for Women in Government, wrote this opinion piece in support of Minister for the Status of Women Paula Biggar's Motion 32 "Modernizaton of the Legislative Assembly Sitting Hours" (which has not come up for debate yet).
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-its-about-time-199624/

OPINION: It’s about time

Changes to support the full participation of women and underrepresented groups in legislature

BY DAWN WILSON,  GUEST OPINION
        As the spring session of the Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. begins, the Coalition for Women in Government is looking forward to increased action in the area of equity and inclusion for women and diverse groups in P.E.I. Too often, efforts to increase the number of women and underrepresented groups in elected office falls to individuals, but the reality is the legislature and MLAs have an important role to play in ensuring the Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. is accessible and welcoming to people of all genders and backgrounds.
        Looking ahead to the spring sitting, the coalition is hopeful that MLAs will use the opportunity to support policies and practices that create environments where women are better able to make their voices heard.
        Of course, women are already using their voices through movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, which have shed light on the realities women face in everyday life, particularly in the workplace. Women are bravely coming forward to share their experiences of sexual harassment within male-dominated spaces, which includes parliaments across the country. All women deserve to work in safe and respectful workplaces, and that includes Legislatures. In the spring sitting of the P.E.I. legislature, the coalition calls on MLAs to adopt clear sexual harassment policies that contribute to safer environments for elected and unelected women.
        Adopting family-friendly practices is another way legislatures can better meet the needs of women and MLAs of all genders. The current evening hours of the legislature are an example of a practice that requires modernization. Evening hours of the legislature were originally designed to accommodate the passenger-train schedule. Despite the elimination of passenger trains in the 1960s, the evening hours have barely been tweaked since then.
        Although gender roles are changing, a recent survey by the coalition found that women continue to disproportionately bear the responsibility for child and elder care in Island homes. As a result, many women wait until their children are grown before running for office. Many levels of elected office in P.E.I. and beyond are missing the voices and experiences of people with young children, especially women.
        How can MLAs better support young parents’ participation? They can start by supporting Motion 32, put forward by Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Paula Biggar, which proposes to restructure the sitting times to better accommodate women, men and people of all genders with young children - and not to mention MLAs who travel from rural communities.
        To bring P.E.I. in line with other jurisdictions across Canada and to accommodate daycare centre hours, the coalition recommends retaining the same total number of sitting hours, but with all sitting times ending at 5:00 p.m. This is not a radical change. It will not decrease the number of hours MLAs work, but it will help encourage a greater diversity of candidates.
        Legislatures were created at a time when women didn’t have the right to vote and were not even considered persons under the law. It’s not surprising then that some of the features of the institution need to be updated to attract more diverse people. It’s time for changes that support the full participation of women and underrepresented groups. The coalition looks forward to collaborating with MLAs during this sitting to take action on equity and inclusion.
        Dawn Wilson is executive director P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government
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        Basically it asks the Standing Committee on Rules and Regulations to place the four evening hours into daytime hours.  (A small justification of some evening hours is that people who are employed or otherwise occupied during the day could attend or tune in.)
        A major concern I have about the current format of the daytime sessions is the length of time sitting.  A three hour length of sitting is probably too long for anyone to sit without stretching one's legs, etc. Many MLAs come and go during the sitting, but why should a member miss the discussion?
        My other major complaint about the afternoon sessions is that for media to do their job, they want reactions or quotes from Ministers or MLAs making news, so they request these people leave the Chamber so they can get an interview.  The Member misses what's going on -- often this is about matters important to that person's portfolio or interests.
        What about sitting from 11-1PM, having a break for media interviews and lunch, and then resume from 2:30-5PM, Tuesday through Thursday, and Friday 10-12:30PM.  Sixteen hours, same as now, with realistic breaks.  (People could probably get used to having some times start and end on the half hour.)
        There are many ways just the timing of the Legislature days and calendar could be changed.  Opposition Leader James Aylward has suggested adding another session in the year.  These kinds of ideas would have been more fully discussed by the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, had that not been so poorly managed.  Individuals and many groups were focusing on the voting system concerns and hoped the committee would call more public meetings about timing and such; the chair said no, they had their chance.  (Another example of this government's inadequate consultation process on some issues.)
        Minister Biggar or the Standing Committee on Rules and Regulations could call for an expedition round of public input on timing or the calendar of the Legislature.
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Much in the news about the Kinder-Morgan pipeline expansion into British Columbia, and much to share.  Here is an unapologetic piece from the DeSmog.ca  ("Clearing the Pollution") publication, https://www.desmog.ca/2018/04/12/kinder-morgan-blackmailing-canada-and-government-letting-it-happen

Kinder Morgan is Blackmailing Canada and the Government is Letting it Happen

by Andrew Nikiforuk, published on Thursday, April 12th, 2018;
originally published in
The Tyee
        Kinder Morgan’s decision to suspend work on its controversial $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline looks like a another corporate attempt to blackmail Canadian governments.
        On Sunday the Texas-based company, which emerged from the ashes of scandal-ridden Enron, abruptly announced it was suspending all “non-essential” work on the export pipeline.
        Steve Kean, CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada, blamed the B.C. government for the suspension — even though the National Energy Board has not approved construction for any portion of the project but the Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby. 
        Even Kinder Morgan has repeatedly acknowledged the reality of setbacks in presentations to investors, citing “a potential unmitigated project delay to December 2020” as recently as last month.
        Still, Kean blamed B.C. “What we have is a government that is openly in opposition and has reaffirmed that opposition very recently,” he said. 
        But aren’t democracies supposed to challenge projects that impose unprecedented economic and environment risks on their citizens?
        Wouldn’t a tanker spill of diluted bitumen in the Salish Sea, where one-third of western Canada’s population lives, be an economic and environmental catastrophe, devastating tourism, property values and marine life?
        Wouldn’t the doubling of tolls on the expanded pipeline, as approved by the National Energy Board, raise gas prices for British Columbian motorists by $100 million a year? The pipeline now supplies southern B.C. with most of its petroleum.
        Won’t Alberta, by exporting diluted bitumen to Asian refineries, repeat the original Canadian sin of failing to add value to resources at home, giving up thousands of jobs and billions in revenue?
        How can exporting one of the world’s most carbon intensive fuels help fight climate change
        And can’t corporations with viable projects accommodate citizens, courts, First Nations and economists who think such costs and liabilities should be properly accounted for?
        But Kinder Morgan prefers bluster and blackmail instead of the reality that the project was never a sound venture because it was about privatizing gains and socializing costs. 
        Economist Robyn Allan has repeatedly argued that Kinder Morgan is no ordinary company and the Trans Mountain expansion project has been uneconomic since day one.
        She told The Tyee that “Kinder Morgan is looking for an exit strategy, but it likely includes a need to demonize Ottawa in order to set the stage for a suit under NAFTA.”
        The drama begins with the biased workings of the National Energy Board, which refused to look at downstream and upstream climate impacts of the project and even failed to scrutinize its commercial viability during public hearings.
        The best evidence from experts shows that Kinder Morgan, the Canadian government and Notley have misrepresented the pipeline’s illusory benefits.
        A pipeline to the coast will not raise bitumen prices, because all global markets discount junk crude due to its poor quality.
        The ill-conceived project will export refining jobs and great clouds of climate-changing emissions to China. In addition tanker traffic place southern resident orcas at risk.
        The Houston-based firm that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley now salute as a defender of Canada’s national interest is the spawn of Enron, found guilty of accounting fraud and corruption. The energy trader’s collapse cost shareholders $74 billion and killed 20,000 jobs.
        Kinder Morgan, a dirty and unsexy mover of gas and oil, began as Enron Liquids Pipeline in 1997. Enron alumni continue to populate the senior ranks of Kinder Morgan.
        They include Richard Kinder, a Texas billionaire and Kinder Morgan’s chair. He worked at Enron for 16 years. Jordan Mintz, the chief tax officer, served as the vice-president of Enron’s tax division from 1996-2000.
        Kean, the man now baiting Canadian governments, worked as Enron’s senior vice-president of government affairs. And so on.
        These Enron alumni probably think Canadian politicians are the ultimate pushovers and dimwits.
        During the 2014 NEB Trans Mountain hearings the U.S. parent firm vowed to provide 100 per cent of the debt and equity for the pipeline.
        But after a Wall Street analyst suggested the third largest energy company in North America wasn’t spending enough to maintain its pipelines or returning value to investors, the company’s share price fell. Kinder Morgan’s stock value plummeted in 2015 and continues to languish. Lower oil prices and rising debt put its largest capital project on shaky ground. 
        Allan says investors recognized a year ago that the Trans Mountain project didn’t make commercial sense. As investor interest waned, Allan said, Kinder Morgan couldn’t raise debt or equity in the U.S. markets or find a joint-venture partner.
        The job of raising money for the project then fell to Kinder Morgan Canada. But $1.6 billion it raised in 2017 went to pay off debts of its parent company.
        Richard Kinder explained the move in a conference call with investors: “So we were able to strengthen KMI’S balance sheet using the IPO proceeds to pay down debt… ” 
        Kinder Morgan Canada has arranged $5.5 billion in construction facility loans from Canadian banks — but only if Kinder Morgan raises $2 billion in equity for the project.
        “And now we learn from Premier Notley and Kinder Morgan Canada CEO Steven Kean that conversations with Alberta for financial support have taken place,” says Allan.
        Rachel Notley, Canada’s leading petro politician, apparently can’t wait to pour taxpayers’ money into a project that the market views as high risk and that British Columbians regard as a threat to their best interests.
        “Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to get this pipeline built — including taking a public position in the pipeline,” Notley said Sunday.
        So corporate blackmail works like a charm in Canada.
         Allan says Kinder Morgan is looking for a way out.
        “The project is not commercially viable and, even before it’s built, Kinder Morgan is looking for a bailout,” she said. “If Kinder Morgan’s long-term contracts for moving 700,000 barrels of bitumen and oil on a controversial pipeline were solid, would Kinder Morgan now be blaming the government of B.C. for its problems?”
        In a normal world governments concerned about fiscal prudence and the public interest would let Kinder Morgan abandon a non-viable project. (Some analysts have already said cancelling the project would be a “significant blow,” but not “the end of the world for Kinder Morgan.”)
    In a moral world Canadian governments would admit that pipelines and tankers export refinery jobs and greenhouse gas emissions on a disastrous scale.
        In a just world Alberta would have to admit it has allowed industry to overproduce bitumen due to low royalties and bad governance. The province has no strategic plan for bitumen other than screaming for pipelines.
        But Canada, like its southern neighbour, is having trouble behaving normally, morally or justly these days.
        But Trudeau and Notley think it’s OK to embrace a debt-ridden U.S. company so it can export, via tankers, unrefined bitumen to Chinese refineries where the upgraded resource can enrich the authoritarian Communist party.
        Canadians should be more than ashamed.
        They should be alarmed.
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A simple petition to put your name on, from the LeadNow organization:
https://act.leadnow.ca/stop-the-kinder-morgan-bailout/

--------------------------------
Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.


April 16, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight:
Poets & Pints, 6-10PM
, The Pilot House, 70 Grafton St.  "A celebration of National Poetry Month featuring a social hour; readings by 4 Island poets Deirdre Kessler, Jane Ledwell, John MacKenzie and David Hickey; a Q&A moderated by John Flood; and an open mic."
Facebook event details

Tuesday, April 17th:
Burgers 4 Change, 5:30-9:15PM
, Fundraiser for "the successful PEI Green Party candidate for District 12 (Downtown Charlottetown). We will do this while sampling PEI’s 8th year of Burger Love creations at FIVE secret locations throughout Downtown Charlottetown".  (This is provincial, of course, not municipal political fundraising, and another nice unique idea, too ;-)  There may be spaces left but contact: https://www.greenparty.pe.ca/burgers_for_change  asap. 
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Wednesday, April 18th:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM-12noon
, the location appears to be the J. Angus MacLean Building (corner of Great George and Richmond Streets).  This might mean it is not live-streamed, but not sure.  "The committee will meet to review the Report of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly, dated March 7, 2018.
Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance."

Public Accounts didn't really get into much detail this winter due to the Cabinet Shuffle, Bush Dumville's resignation from Caucus, some storm days, and days certain government committee members were unable to meet.  I don't think Committee Chair Brad Trivers could be faulted for trying to get meetings scheduled.
Public Accounts Committee pages

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Tuesday mornings is when Executive Council usually meets; sometimes Premier MacLauchlan calls this "The L-G-I-C" (Lieutenant Governor in Council, but it's not really her around the table) --  it's Cabinet and she approves the orders.  From the webpage description:

An order-in-council (OIC) is a public document issued by the Lieutenant Governor on the advice of the Executive Council directing that certain action be undertaken under authority of legislation. An order is issued when a statute provides authority or permission for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to carry out certain actions or responsibilities (for example, to make regulations, to appoint the members of a board, to authorize certain land transactions or to approve certain initiatives with financial implications).

Here are the most recent orders, to see what they look like, this batch mostly being about Lands Protection Act permits:
10 April 2018 Executive Council Orders in Council

The next meeting would probably be Tuesday, April 17th.   Executive Council, with the name of "Cabinet Team" is listed on this page:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/executive-council-office/meet-cabinet-team

On another note, while everyone of the Premier's responsibilities (full Department or not) is listed on this page,  Minister Biggar does not have "Minister in Charge of Status of Women" listed separately - -it's just one line in her mandate letter

  • Advance equality and opportunity for women in all Government policies, programs and services.
with that being found here:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/executive-council-office/transportation-infrastructure-and-energy-and-status-women

The Advisory Council on Status of Women, which is arm's length from government and is quite effectively critical, is here:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/acsw/
Their website is still the "old" location instead of the refreshed <princeedwardisland.ca> one.

Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy and the Status of Women
Paula Biggar was at the PEIWomen's Institute gala dinner Friday night emceed by
Brad Trivers, benefits from the dinner and auction going this year go to Prince County Hospital.  Darlene Compton, Matt MacKay, MP Lawrence MacAulay, Agriculture Minister Robert Henderson, Hannah Bell and Peter Bevan-Baker were all there, too.

Minister Henderson made some funny jokes when he bid and "won" an allotment of aged horse manure (not boxed for him to take home that night, by the way).  He coincided it with his comments about Island fields needing more manure, and all the other politicians were out-bid for a second allotment of the stuff by another attendee.  All was in good fun.
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"Spreading manure is a great way of bringing yourself down to earth."
        -- Steven Ford

April 15, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra performs at 2:30PM, pre-concert talk at 1:30, Zion Presbyterian Church, corner of Prince and Grafton, tickets at the door.  Featuring Tenor, Horn and the Senior Singing Strings.  Symphony website.

------------------

Catch up Proceedings from the Legislature this week at their website, here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca

Question Period is there for every day, but the full Debates (Hansard) are done for up to Tuesday and Wednesday.  Here is the link to the "House Records" of Bills, Motions and others:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/houserecords
The Legislature resumes its Spring Sitting on Tuesday at 2PM.

------------------------------

From Tony Reddin, writing on behalf of the Environmental Coalition of P.E.I., published on Friday, April 13th, 2018:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/opinion-electricity-storage-better-choice-201634/

OPINION: Electricity storage better choice - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Tony Reddin

Summerside should reject diesel generator proposal; give research and consideration to alternatives

Regarding Summerside's deliberations on investing $23 million for a back-up generator that would only be used a few hours per year (in 2015 Maritime Electric had a similar proposal for a diesel generator in Charlottetown which was rejected as unnecessary and not affordable):

On behalf of ECO-P.E.I., I wish to state that Summerside City Council should reject this proposal and give much more research and consideration to alternatives, especially the expanded use of decentralized battery storage units. There is no immediate urgency to this decision, since Summerside can buy instant-start capacity from New Brunswick Power. The request for proposals should be re-issued and more options should be considered.

Summerside residents who oppose the current proposal should tell their councillors before the next council meeting which will take place Monday, April 16.

Ongoing advancements and quickly-dropping prices in energy storage technology have led to the use of large battery units in electricity systems, such as the one already installed with the solar system at Credit Union Place. Utilities all over the world are now installing and using large-scale battery storage units.

An article in ‘www.mckinsey.com’ states: “average battery-pack costs are down from approximately US$1,000 per kilowatt-hour (KWh) in 2010 to less than US$230 per KWh in 2016.”

(1) According to Jack Simpson, director of generation and capacity planning at Toronto Hydro, battery power storage is now getting cheap enough to make power shifting (back-up) cost-effective, as power authorities create pricing formulas that make cutting peak demand worthwhile.
(2) Summerside utility customers could be encouraged to install battery packs with solar PV systems as emergency back-up for themselves and the utility.

Decentralized neighbourhood battery units could be used for power supply in emergency shelters, and have many other advantages: quick installation; flexibility of purchase options; flexibility of size and location; no exhaust pollution when connected to renewables; decreased vulnerability to power outages; lower infrastructure costs such as transmission lines; as well as benefits for reducing demand and costs at peak and other times; and enhancing the use of wind and solar generation.

Summerside should continue to show its leadership in moving to a clean renewable energy economy, which is so critical if we are to avoid more catastrophic effects from the climate change caused by using fossil fuels.

- Tony Reddin is an energy project co-ordinator for ECO-P.E.I.
---------------------------------------------------

Tom Lehrer wrote a few but incredibly witty songs, usually with political or scientific/mathematical themes (or both) back in the 1960s.  Some are groaners, but many still resonate today. He turned 90 recently and Nature (The International Journal of Science) profiled him, here.

Thanks to Leo Cheverie for highlighting this (and many other very interesting articles all the time).

Some of his live recordings (performing singing and accompanying himself on piano ) are collected here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuvRHuqLf6F3tV3jA2cyhUA

And most are collected on the CD The Remains of Tom Lehrer

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"Bad weather always looks worse through a window."
        --Tom Lehrer

April 14, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown and Summerside, and there are lots of greens coming on.

Thursday, April 26th:
"Using the Whole Chicken", Food Skills Workshop Series, with Lucy and Sally Bernard, 6-8PM
, Farm Centre.  $10 registration fee.  This is the last of the series and the title says it all.  Sign up details at this link.
---------------------------------------
from:  Salty -- The Island's Food Digest  March 31, 2018 http://saltyisland.com/the-lost-link-in-agriculture/

The Lost Link in Agriculture - Salty--The Island's Food Digest article by Tara Callaghan

Reconnecting consumers to producers with Community Supported Agriculture

“Eating is an agricultural act,” said great writer, activist, and farmer Wendell Berry. If you consume food you are a participant in agriculture, and so we all are.

Not that long ago people grew most, or all, of their food and if they didn’t grow it themselves, they often knew who did. But as production on farms increased due to technology changes, and automated food production designed to maximize profits occurred, the value of growing one’s own food was, to a large extent, weeded out.

Today, the link between producer and consumer has become so distant and far-reaching it can often be difficult to know what farm, province, or country a product comes from. Remember the romaine lettuce recall that happened a few months ago due to an E.coli outbreak? How telling it was that the production of a single crop could impact half our country.

As early as the 1960s, a different socio-economic model emerged to re-establish the lost link between producer and consumer. According to Wikipedia, it wasn’t until the 1980s, however, that the term describing this model, “community-supported agriculture” (CSA), first appeared in North America, credited to biodynamic Swiss farmer Jan Vander Tuin.

While many variations of the CSA model exist, the overriding goal is to offer an alternative way to buy fresh food where producers and consumers are equals in a mutually-beneficial relationship. As the consumer, a person typically pays in advance to receive weekly or biweekly shares of farm products. In doing so the consumer provides working capital to the producer at the onset of the season, investing money directly in the local community and effectively voting for an alternative food culture that resembles the closer-knit farm communities of the past.

In this mutual relationship, consumers share the risk involved in producing food with the producer(s); risk that could result in crop failure or low yields. However, the consumer also receives products they are more likely to trust because of the relationship they have with their producer. Additionally, it allows them an opportunity to gain more insight into how food is produced and in some cases even have a say in what gets produced. With products being harvested within a few days of delivery, transport time from farm to table is often quite minimal. Some CSA farms also offer members additional benefits such as farm visits, harvest parties, and recipe ideas.

In a 2016 study from the University of Guelph, 399 CSA farmers were identified within Canada. Of the 100 farms interviewed, 55% of producers said the cost of shares was not sufficient to cover the cost of labour and inputs to produce the food. Yet, the biggest appeal to running a CSA for these farmers was “a guaranteed and predictable source of income”. In pursuing the model, the most common motivation for farmers was to provide a higher quality of food to consumers. While only 34% of interviewees were organically-certified, all farmers interviewed “engaged in organic practices” in their commitment to producing quality.

On PEI there are as many as 23 CSA farms. Of these, 13 provide produce (vegetables, herbs, and/or fruit), 6 provide meat and/or eggs, and 4 offer a mix of products. While many of the farms are located in rural areas, most offer pick-ups in Charlottetown or Summerside and some offer door-to-door delivery. To find a CSA farm in your community, visit Salty’s website or the PEI Food Exchange website and look under their resource tab for a current list of CSA Farms. (link below)

Moreover, other local food and farm-related businesses are now offering products using a CSA-like model or subscription. Examples include: a flower CSA through Red Roots Flower Farm; a soup CSA through My Plum My Duck; a meal delivery system through Youmeal; a tea subscription through Lady Baker’s Tea; and cheese memberships through The Cheese Company and Glasgow Glen Farm.

If eating locally, investing locally, and strengthening community are important to you, consider joining a CSA this spring. In doing so, you are not only committing the agricultural act of eating, as Wendell Berry says, you are also promoting social change toward a more connected food culture.

List of CSAs on P.E.I.
-------------------------------
Little gardening notes:
The David Suzuki Foundation is selling "Butterflyway seeds", wildflower seeds that support pollinators.
https://store.davidsuzuki.org/collections/wildflower-seed-store
---------------------------------
Regarding banning "neonics", one pesticide that has been found to affect the viability of bees, here is is simple and straightforward petition from Nature Canada to the Minister of Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor (MP from Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, by the way).
https://actionsprout.io/3B4EBC

Background information here with a longer petition form and actual letter you could personalize:
http://naturecanada.ca/get-involved/take-action/sign-to-ban-neonics/

Nature Canada's Facebook page is here (with many fabulous photos)
https://www.facebook.com/NatureCanada/
and their website is here:
http://naturecanada.ca/

Some more on neonicotinoids and what Europe has done:
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/02/european-agency-concludes-controversial-neonic-pesticides-threaten-bees
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Darlene Compton, MLA for Belfast-Murray River and the Opposition House Leader, brought up concerns about the Island's bee population and the pressures they are under in the provincial legislature recently.

I totally dropped the ball getting back to the person who sent me this information months ago, but here is a site called Bee City Canada that "inspires cities, towns, First Nations, schools, businesses and other organizations to take action to protect pollinators".
http://www.beecitycanada.org

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"We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne."
        --Marcus Aurelius

April 13, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

CBC is conducting a political panel this morning after the 7:30AM news and sports.  96.1FM or on-line at CBC Prince Edward Island.  Roy Johnstone will be on the panel, and many of us hope he helps bring it to a discussion of issues and event.

The P.E.I. Legislature sits today from 10AM -- 1PM.
Watch it live on Eastlink or here at the Legislative Assembly website:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/

Lunchtime today:
Lunch and Learn: "Ecological Health of the Ponds in Charlottetown", 12:30PM
, Holland College Charlottetown camp MacKinnon Theatre.  The Environmental Applied Science students' will discuss their research, and there will be free pizza for all.

Tonight and through the weekend, various times:
"Camp Rock: The Musical", Bluefield High School musical
, various times.  Facebook event details.

Some P.E.I. Political Parties' Calendar of Events (links):


-------------------------------
FYI:  The seating plan for Floor of the Legislative Assembly is a PDF found here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/docs/seating_plan.pdf

-------------------------------
from Wayne Carver, a quiet commentator, researching and telling it like it is:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-elitist-class-system-in-pei-199623/

published on Friday, April 6th, 2018, in The Guardian

OPINION: Elitist class system in P.E.I. - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Wayne Carver

It is surprising what can be accomplished when funding is available, especially public money

        The provincial government’s development plan got off to a sour start in January 2018 when the City of Charlottetown snapped up the severed lot adjacent to Founders’ Hall. Sometimes, the best back room deals do fall apart.
        With one partisan plan scuttled, there is always more to come. In February, it was announced that cabinet approved a loan of $600,000 for the Murphy Group and the Inn at Great George as well as another $2,140.000 for the P.E.I. Brewing Company. Very few in Charlottetown have received more money from this government than this group.
        Between PNP units, provincial loans, acquisition of taxpayers’ property at bargain basement prices and ACOA funding, who knows how much they have received in total.
        Additionally, on Feb. 23, 2018, cabinet approved a $4 million loan to #102163 P.E.I. Inc., apparently registered to Paul William Murphy.
        Tucked away on page B-7 of the Saturday Guardian (March 23) is a good news story, “In time for the burgers.” It is about the staff at the Mill River Resort welcoming guests and diners in the near future. Just in time for the tourist season. It is surprising what can be accomplished when funding is available, especially public money.
        At the outset, our provincial government contributed $1.8 million towards the Mill River purchase price. Additional monies to upgrade the resort were supposed to be dispersed through a government-approved $6 million capital grant plan over a period of six years but, surprise, surprise, the work has progressed so well that all but $500.000 was quietly paid out over the past several months. Now the developer seems to qualify for another $1.6 million for operating expenses over the next six years.
        Meanwhile, government has also budgeted another $42 million in capital improvements to roads and bridges for the 2018-2019 construction season. That is in addition to the $120 million the government has spent on roads and bridges since 2015. Yet the auditor general’s report of March 2018 asserts those persons in need in this province, are under-funded.
        The basic social assistance rates in most cases have not changed in 10 years. Shelter rates have not changed since 2013. The maximum monthly shelter allowance for a single person as of March 31 was $539. and $854 for a couple with two children; and we have all heard the horror stories about health care. There is little doubt some of this money could have been earmarked for social programs.
        That we have an elitist class system in this province is hard to dispute. If the measure of a society’s success is how we care for our less fortunate then we should hang our heads in shame.
        One has to think that with so much public money being shuffled around to the party faithful, this government could find some funding to assist those in need.
        Wayne Carver of Long Creek is a supporter of electoral reform and comments frequently on social and political issues

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On moving away from fossil fuels:

"Now is the time to plan. Now is the time to say, actually, let's use what we've got, but beyond that, we need to start looking to alternatives. The whole world is going in this direction. We all signed up to the Paris Agreement that said we are moving towards carbon neutrality. And now we need to act on it."

        --Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister, April 12th, 2018

more here from The (other) Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/12/new-zealand-bans-all-new-offshore-oil-exploration-as-part-of-carbon-neutral-future

April 12, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight:
Green Drinks Summerside, 7-10PM,
Doolys at 298 Water Street. "Green Drinks is a monthly informal gathering hosted by local members of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. Always a good time, this is a great place to get to know Green Party leaders and supporters in a casual setting, and connect with others who are passionate about Prince Edward Island's future. Hosted by Deputy Leader Lynne Lund, and Shadow Critics Steve Howard and Trish Altass."

PEI Devs Meetup, 7-9PM, StartUp Zone, 31 Green Street, Charlottetown.  These PEI developers have two talks featured tonight, the second is:

Elections PEI -- Introduction, New Website, & Data Sets
An introduction to Elections PEI, along with details about a new website launch. Also, a look at online reports and a discussion about Open Data. Within the usual bounds of privacy, which data sets would you like to see published as Open Data? What are your interests and priorities? (Editor's note: Reflect on your data interests before the meeting! See this link for some brainstorm ideas: https://bit.ly/2Haf0VV
RSVP at the linkhttps://startupzone.ca/upcoming-events/


That bit.ly link goes to a very interesting list from the "Open Data Book Club"

2nd Annual STRUM Event, Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association fundraising concert, 7:30-10PM, Mill River Resort.  "STRUM is a group of 10 local musician/singers performing country, gospel, and contemporary numbers.   CBWA needs your support to continue its work on our local streams and rivers."  Facebook event details here.

-------------------------------
The Provincial Legislature sits today from 2-5PM and 7-9PM. 
Yesterday was the shortish Wednesday session (afternoon only) and had Question Period focusing on several topics, including the Tories following Bush Dumville's revelations about the Public Accounts Committee Liberal members being advised to work in a particular way, and a completely fed-up Sidney MacEwen demanding the Education Minister Jordan Brown look into the decrepit, leaking floor at the Mount Stuart School (which was plagued with a leaky roof that took an inordinately long time to fix). ("Can't ignore a roof leak," said someone in my home, indicating more damage always occurs.)

When continuing to go through the budget estimates in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Opposition MLAs trying to make sense of the numbers.
Peter Rukavina wrote a blog about this last year:
https://ruk.ca/content/what-little-html-can-do-open-data

And a major problem I see is that the department sections are obtusely named and even the Minister really doesn't know what's in what division.  A clear, simple graphic from each department, with common programs and categories under the appropriate division, given to all MLAs (and available to the public!) at the beginning of budget time would help considerably.

--------------------------------
Paul MacNeill's editorial in the week's Graphic publications explains the provincial budget:
http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_2534f260-3ce1-11e8-bc15-a7ba476fe390.html

Liberals can’t just buy our love - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published by Paul MacNeill on Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 in The Graphic newspapers

        It is a goodie laden budget with the singular aim of resetting the image Islanders have of the MacLauchlan government. Whether it works depends on if both the substance and style of the administration change.

        There is much to applaud in last week’s document. It includes long overdue investments to the frontlines of education, tax relief for all Islanders, health care in areas such as mental health, a partial rebate on HST paid on heating costs and cuts to the business tax rate. As someone who has chirped on the need for a full reset of government, it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge when it actually moves in that direction.

        Government justifies its massive spending spree, an increase of $100 million, by crediting its good financial stewardship, which is sorta truthful but not fully. It is true our economy is performing well. Exports are up. Tourism continues to perform on a record pace. Both agriculture and the fisheries remain strong. But none of these performances is fully attributable to actions of the provincial government.

            Our budget, now just a nudge shy of $2 billion and which has increased $300 million under Premier MacLauchlan, also relies on record federal transfers and increases in provincial tax revenue to achieve balance. This is the government that increased the HST, a tax which disproportionately hurts low income Islanders. This is the government that increased virtually every service and fee. This is the government that relies on clawing back millions in immigrant deposits annually to bolster its bottom line. The Liberal government has made a habit of slipping its cash-strapped paws into the pockets of Islanders.

        And this is where the major criticism of Budget 2018 rests.

        For a government that boasts about fiscal prudence the budget only looks at one side of the ledger. The Liberals have stubbornly refused to do anything about the size and scope of the public service, which amounts to 70 per cent of spending. When you believe the bureaucracy is a sacred cow that must continually grow unquestioned, you are not managing responsibly. For instance why hire new teachers when part of the solution could simply be to keep a broken promise to send education bureaucrats back to the classroom. Stop wasting money on standardized tests and start investing in students.

        The Liberals self-proclaimed fiscal stewardship means Islanders will pay $3 million more, to $127 million, just to service our provincial debt that now exceeds two billion. Corporate taxes remain among the highest in North America, particularly relevant to major Island firms that compete with US based companies that have seen tax rates slashed.

        Budget 2018 offers no rainy day fund but does offer a very large bullseye for government unions that have all heard the premier brag about our great fiscal position.         Contracts for most government unions expire March 31st. There is no doubt they will all be looking for substantial increases.

        Liberals hope its spending spree – in effect bribing us with our own money - will change the perception of an administration from one obsessed with the economy to one capable of showing empathy for Islanders.

        Many of the premier’s overly long (just ask Liberals who must sit through them) speeches take a deep dive into the minutia of the Island economy. On one hand it’s reassuring to have a premier with a firm grasp on the subject. But the economy impacts Islanders differently. Too often the premier focuses attention on companies and CEOs, without acknowledging that life isn’t as rosy for underlings. MacLauchlan, and even his cabinet, has taken to saying the PEI economy is on a ‘tear’. It’s the type of tone deaf phrasing that rankles those just trying to get by.

        Does he think the 10.3 per cent of Islanders who are unemployed – PEI has the second highest unemployment rate in the country – believe the economy is on a tear?

        How about ordinary Islanders who face the reality that Island wages are the lowest in the country? Would they say the economy is on a tear?

    What about the record number of Islanders forced to use food banks? Would they say the economy is on a tear?

        Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Islanders, struggle every week just to make ends meet. They don’t see the economic tear and they have more important things to worry about than government rhetoric. But when repeatedly delivered false messaging oblivious to their plight it is understandable why a growing number are looking elsewhere for leadership. A big part of leadership is empathy and understanding the real struggle of Islanders. Premier MacLauchlan would do well to recognize this because it is a test he has thus far failed.

        Investing in long overdue and needed programming is one thing. It’s vital. But it’s quite another to show you understand why it is needed. And that will ultimately dictate if Islanders support the Liberals budget spending spree.

        Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at paul@peicanada.com

April 11, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today the P.E.I. Legislature sits between 2-5PM.
Legislative Assembly website:  http://www.assembly.pe.ca/

Tonight:
South Shore Health & Wellness Inc. General Meeting, 7PM,
Victoria Community Hall (Victoria Theatre),  20 Howard St., Victoria.  In addition to reports and update on activities, the guest speaker will be Marilyn Barrett, Manager of Primary Care and Chronic Disease at Health PEI. All are welcome to attend. This is the group organizing local health care in the Crapaud area after their doctor left for Cornwall, and reflect what could happen in any small area on P.E.I.
--------------------------------
Souris Community Forum, hosted by the Green Party of PEI, 6:30-8:30PM, Bluefin Restaurant.  "Join us for a conversation about what matters to you – and help build real solutions for Prince Edward Island. What are the issues that you care most about? What do you want PEI to look like now and in the future – for your children and grandchildren?" More details here.
--------------------------
Tomorrow:
Thursday, April 12th:
Creating a Balanced Vegan Meal Using a Local Organic CSA Box, 6-8PM
, Farm Centre, 420 University Ave.  Still some spaces available, but contact Hanna Hameline (hamelinehanna@gmail.com)

<snip> Registered dietitian Bethany Vessey (will) prepare and discuss (a) nutritionally complete vegan meal using a local, organic CSA box alongside other vegan ingredients. Be prepared for new recipes, professional nutritional advice, and a sample of some lovely vegan dishes.
Cost is $10.00 per session. Registration fees cover food and materials. Registration is confirmed upon receipt of payment. No refunds available, but spaces are transferable if you cannot attend.
If affordability of a session is a barrier to attendance, please contact the PEI Food Exchange (foodexchangepei@gmail.com).
To register --please contact Hanna Hameline (hamelinehanna@gmail.com).

--------------------------------
The recently updated List of CSAs on P.E.I. can be found here:
http://www.foodexchangepei.com/list-of-csas-on-pei.html
This page is cultivated by Pauline Howard, and tended to regularly, and has the best collection of producer photos.  It's a great time of year to sign up for a CSA.
-----------------
In the Legislature yesterday afternoon, when the Committee of the Whole House was starting to look into the budget of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, general questions were asked to Minister Robert Henderson.  What sounds like a rather inefficient process actually ends up revealing a lot about a particular Minister's grasp of the portfolio, and of their interests and perhaps biases.  In questions about grants and supporting diversified farming, it seems clear that Minister Henderson still sees organic farming as something almost exotic, something that just, and only, Green Party members are interested in.  There is an essay in here somewhere; at least it is a topic for discussion.

Morell-Mermaid MLA Sidney MacEwen brought up the extremely valid point that the budget book is a pdf, and is available on-line (which the Minister, having been minister of three departments now over his years as an MLA, said he assumed the budget was on-line but wasn't really sure).  MacEwen noted that while there are supplementary figures photocopied and distributed to MLAs, there was no way for MLAs or Islanders to access the data on spreadsheets to it could be more easily compared or analysed; repeated requests to have the data available that way in the past years have been accepted as a good idea -- but never acted on.
-----------------------
The evening session, after the Rural Rally (coverage by CBC here), was Opposition Evening and focused on Rustico-Emerald Brad Trivers' Private Members Bill No. 111 to update the Municipal Governance Act.
While agreeing with the idea of amalgamation for certain reasons, his bill looks to improve communication to unincorporated areas and to give them more power in the process, in addition to more legislature oversight rather that minister's discretion.
Here is the link again to Trivers' website and his article about his Bill.  https://bradtrivers.com/2018/04/giving-unincorporated-islanders-a-voice/

Brad Trivers commendably provided MLAs with a lot of background information on his ideas and the Bill before it came to the Floor (though it seems some MLAs may not have read his descriptive e-mail).

It was an interesting evening with former Communities, Land and Environment (CLE) Minister Robert Mitchell speaking earnestly about his efforts to listen to people's concerns, and with current CLE Minister Richard Brown saying that his department could do more to improve land use planning in unincorporated areas getting MLAs more involved.  Trivers' "stranger" (expert) at the table with him was Greenmont-Montrose community council chair Dave Pizio, who gave lots of insights on community feeling, and said more communication from government (about permits or projects proposed) with councils would be key.  (This is very true, as Peter Bevan-Baker spoke and expressed surprise at finding out about the proposed water bottling plant and other projects off-hand.) 
This could easily be done with the existing structure there is now. 

It's also apparent that nobody has a real understanding of the "Gas Tax" and how it works now, how it would change with larger, all-incorporated communities, and how long is it really set in stone from the federal government.  (And no one mentioned that I heard about the sustainability of such a program based on gasoline sales.)

The last little bit was Peter Bevan-Baker bringing up the idea of Citizens' Assemblies to expand on the idea of rural governance -- the motion (No. 42, a very good number if you are a Douglas Adams' fan) is and discussion just got started as the hour was called.  Text of Bevan-Baker's Motion No. 42.
---------------------------------
"Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs, --
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress
Its music."
        -- Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)


April 10, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This afternoon the P.E.I. Legislature begins sitting for the week.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons 2-5PM
Tuesday and Thursday nights, 7-9PM
Friday morning 10AM-1PM

You can watch on-line at the Legislative Assembly website (button on this home page):
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/

Question Period begins the day's session after Greetings and Recognition of Guests at the first session each day.  The Official Opposition Progressive Conservatives have the main bulk of the questions, with the Third Party getting two questions each day, and the Independent Member (Bush Dumville) getting one every other day, I think.  A couple of Government Backbenchers each get a question a day, and sometimes these are painfully obvious set-ups for government announcements (the announcements in the form of a good news story often just happen to arrive immediately in my e-mail in-box after the Minister makes the statement in the Legislature; this shows the 30-plus people working in the Premier's communication centre have their timing coordinated).

Tuesday evening and Thursday afternoon are the times the Opposition sets the "agenda". I am not sure what will be "called" this afternoon by govenrment, but work on going through the budget estimates, department by department, could begin.  (More on that process another day.)

The Rural Rally for Democracy is this evening, so one could expect Question Period this afternoon to address major concerns about the Municipal Government Act, or some aspect of this, and perhaps part of the time this evening, as the Rally will be going on after the session begins.

Rural Rally for Democracy, 6:30-7:30PM, outside the Coles Building (guessing the Richmond Street side where MLAs will be crossing to return to the Legislature's steps after their dinner break); various speakers.

Also this week:
Joe Byrne will be attending the proceedings, and be recognized as the new Leader of the PEI NDP this afternoon in the Legislative Assembly.

Tonight:

NDP Federal Riding of Malpeque AGM, 7PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road.  Joe Byrne will drop in to give a welcome.

Wednesday, April 11th:
Souris Community Forum, hosted by the Green Party of P.E.I., 6:30-8:30PM, Bluefin Restaurant, Facebook event details

Thursday, April 12th:
Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association fundraising concert, 2nd Annual STRUM event, 7:30-10PM
, Mill River Resort.  Facebook event details
-------------------------------

Brad Trivers, MLA for District 18 (Rustico-Emerald), has introduced a Private Member's Bill called "An Act to Amend The Municipal Government Act" Bill 111. 
From his website, he explains about the Bill:

The purpose is to change the act to ensure that Islanders living in unincorporated areas are consulted and have a legislated voice when it comes to proposals and recommendations to annex them.  The main changes are:

  • When preparing a proposal to establish or restructure a municipality it will be necessary to get agreement from at least 30% of the people in areas to be annexed via signatures on a petition.  Right now proposals to annex unincorporated areas can be put forward by the Minister or councils of existing municipalities with no legislated requirement to consult with the people impacted.
  • If an objection to a proposal for a new or restructured municipality is made, then a Public Hearing is mandatory.  Previously it was optional.
  • If there is significant public interest, the Minister must hold a plebiscite of impacted people when a new or restructured municipality is proposed.
  • The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) must take into consideration the plebiscite result in their recommendations regarding a proposal.
  • The recommendation from IRAC regarding a proposal must be brought to the floor by the Minister as a motion for debate and vote.
  • The Minister’s recommendation for action on a proposal must be in line with the outcome of the vote of the legislative assembly.

The explanatory notes on page 5 of Bill 111 can be read first to provide some context to the Bill.
Bill No. 111 from the Legislative Assembly website.

A cornucopia of bills and motions and other "House Records" are found on the Legislative Assembly website, here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/houserecords

----------------------------
An excerpt from a recent posting by commentator and organic farmer Kevin Arsenault, which is a very good article about governing style, and a thorough record of some discussion and comments made at the recent National Farmers Union convention by Agriculture Minister Robert Henderson and Communities, Land and Environment Minister Richard Brown:

whole article here:
https://kevinjarsenault.com/2018/04/09/autocracy-or-democracy-whats-best-for-pei/

Excerpt:

I think the reasons are clear to anyone properly informed about the critical issues relating to land and farming in PEI:  in a nutshell, the Liberal government is ideologically-committed to an industrial model of chemical-intensive monoculture where food is regarded as a commodity for sale in the global market. To foster that model which brings increased GDP (which unethically fails to measure what is of real value) in the agricultural sector, the Liberal government continues to offer support to large corporations like K.C. Irving (Cavendish Farms) believing those are the business entities PEI needs for agriculture to be competitive in the global market.

In other words, MacLauchlan’s fancy words about good governance used in his dismissal of “consensus government”  only serve to mask the anti-democratic policies that continue to support programs, policies and projects that subvert the will of the people to bring about solutions to the very agricultural and environmental problems his Ministers claim to care about, as they struggle to convince us that they would indeed address those identified problems if only they had solutions. This approach is old and tired and not only disingenuous, but absolutely not true. There are solutions; what is missing is a commitment by the Liberal government to pursue an appropriate Vision and muster up the political will to implement the policies, programs and projects which those solutions require.
--Kevin Arsenault, April 9th, 2018

April 9, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight:
Green Party Community Forum, 6:30-8:30PM,
Emerald Community Centre.  Contact: http://www.greenparty.pe.ca/queens_community_forum  if interested.

Tuesday, April 10th:
Rural Rally for Democracy, 6:30PM
, Legislative Assembly of P.E.I., Facebook event details.  People concerned about "forced amalgamation" are assembling before the evening session of the P.E.I. Legislature.

Also, Tuesday:
NDP Malpeque Riding meeting, 7PM
, Bonshaw Community Centre.  Newly elected provincial NDP Leader Joe Byrne will be there and say a few words.

Wednesday, April 11th:
Green Party Community Forum, 6:30-8:30PM
, Bluefin Restaurant.  Facebook event details here.

---------------------------------------
Anna Keenan, wears a lot of hats, and some are parent, Islander, incredible dancer, climate justice organizer, outgoing president of the Green Party PEI, and stilt-walker. 
She wrote on social media on
Sunday, April 8th:

"On Friday I dropped by my MP Wayne Easter's office to deliver this sample of water (photo in posting) which was taken from the Burrard Inlet across from the Kinder Morgan terminal in BC.
Samples of water were delivered to Liberal MPs across the country in the last weeks. I was glad to be able to play a small part, from the other side of the country, to support the indigenous-led resistance to this Tar Sands expansion project.
The good news is that today, Kinder Morgan effectively announced that the project would be too expensive to continue to invest in, due to the community-based resistance. So beautiful to see powerful democracy in action, with grassroots, community-based organizing overcoming corporate interests to protect what we love from harm.
Here's the story: https://globalnews.ca/…/kinder-morgan-pauses-trans-mountai…/
They talk about this project being a fight between Alberta and BC. But really, when it comes to climate and energy policy, borders don't matter one bit. We are all in this together, and we need to start acting like it."

Also, 350.org, an organization fighting climate change, writes this, and offers a letter you can sign to send the to Prime Minister:

<snip> Kinder Morgan has until May 31st to secure investor confidence in this project. Clearly, this Texas based oil company is presenting the Trudeau government with an ultimatum to trample over the people of BC and get this pipeline built at every cost. That just means that people power will need to double down and get to work -- let's make sure Trudeau and his ministers hear our call to affirm Canada's commitments to climate action and Indigenous rights by stopping this pipeline once and for all." 
http://act.350.org/sign/trudeau-indigenous-resistance-KM

-------------------------------

The story of Jim and Barbara Munves (Guardian story) has been very sad and infuriating to witness.  It is frustrating, and frightening, for anyone -- a person with elderly parents or an aging person -- to think our main news stories about our elders are about broken promises and broken manors like the one in Montague, concerns about family finances when an elder goes into assisted care, and stories like this.

Later this week there is a court date for Mr. Munves.  Here is a thoughtful opinion piece from last week, written by the thoughtful Marie Burge.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/opinion-shes-still-the-same-person-198057/

OPINION: She’s still the same person - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Marie Burge

Published on Saturday, March 31st, 2018

We need to remind ourselves that people living with dementia do not become their disease

Jim and Barbara Munves should go down in Island history as the love story of the century. The love and care for each other is obvious to those of us who have met them. Their love has always been wider than their care for each other. It included many of us in the community.

Their long-time commitment to social justice has always indicated that their love for each other is extended to other people who suffer injustice and for the ecosystem constantly under attack.

I got to know Barbara after she was diagnosed with dementia. I got to know her as an amazing, vibrant, artistic woman with wide international experience. I had the privilege of spending a few hours a week with this awesome woman over a short period of time. She is a woman with a deep sense of her own dignity, with a finely tuned awareness of others’ attitudes of condescension or pity.

I use the present tense deliberately. I think of who Barbara is, not “who she was.” I feel that Jim Munves knows, better than anyone, the wonders of this woman and he knows that he can and will honour that.

That is why Barbara should be returned to her own home, where she can be cared for according to her needs and where in a safe environment she can express her own love and admiration for Jim.

I am offering here a challenge to all of us to consider dementia as a disease like any other. We need to remind ourselves that people living with dementia do not become their disease. They do not become someone else. We need to remember that a person with dementia is, above all, a person. We often hear ourselves express our basic fear of dementia. We are used to the sad look and comments of people as we talk about the possibility of having that condition. We have placed supreme importance on our intelligence, on “having it all together” as if even in good health we can so easily assume that we have those capacities.

There are many caregivers, those in the home and those in care facilities, who know instinctively how to relate to people with dementia. They see the whole person as she is at the very depth of her being. At that level, she is the very same person as always. The condition may hide that, but loving discerning people know that deep person in the present moment.

I have to say that given the testimony of Jim Munves, I think that Barbara is safer in her person at home with Jim than she is in a care facility. With him, her sense of who she is will not be endangered.

Hopefully, she and Jim together will heal from the state’s assault on their dignity. Hopefully, Health P.E.I. will learn from this unfortunate intervention.

Long live Jim and Barbara!

- Marie Burge, Mermaid, is an educator and researcher at Cooper Institute in Charlottetown and a member of the Order of P.E.I.

--------------------------------

"Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art."
-- Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, Polish writer ( 1909-1966)

April 8, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

POSTPONED:
Abercrombie: 50 Years of Pulp,
was on at the Farm Centre this afternoon, with author Joan Baxter.
**Due to the weather forecast and the traveling for both speaker and participants, this has been postponed and a new date to be announced soon.**

Monday, April 9th:
Community Forum -- Queens County, hosted by the Green Party of PEI, 6:30-8:30AM,

"Join us for a conversation about what matters to you – and help build real solutions for Prince Edward Island.  What are the issues that you care most about? What do you want PEI to look like now and in the future – for your children and grandchildren?
We’re hosting public open community forums across the province over the next few weeks – and your voice will be heard. We need your input to build a better PEI – and it is your ideas that will make the difference.   This forum is hosted by Green Party Agriculture & Fisheries Critic Sally Bernard, and Justice Critic Matt MacFarlane.
This event is free and open to all; registration is required at http://www.greenparty.pe.ca/queens_community_forum to help us manage our capacity."
Facebook event details

-------------------------------
Provincial Political News:
Congratulations to Joe Byrne, who won the leadership of the NDP PEI yesterday.  I was not able to get there for the speeches in the afternoon, but it sounds like it was a grand day, overall.  Good to see federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh at the Farmers' Market, shaking hands and purchasing local goods.
Fellow candidates Margaret Andrade and Susan MacVittie will undoubtedly continue to share energy and  organizational skills, and hearty congratulations to them for running.

The PEI Liberal Party met yesterday, too, and Premier Wade MacLauchlan announced there would not be a Spring 2018 election, hinting that no one likes summer elections.  We do have a fixed election date of Fall 2019. 

---------------------

A couple of environmental concerns to consider:

From the Council of Canadians, a message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about NAFTA and dropping "Chapter 11", which can be used to sue a country if their environmental protections impede another country's profits.  More info here:
https://secure.canadians.org/page/19311/petition/1
--------------------

Regarding loopholes in environmental protections out west, the activist group LeadNow.ca has a quick petition campaign which you can read about here and choose to sign. 

The concern cites this Globe and Mail article -- excerpt below, full article at:  https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-federal-climate-plan-to-yield-to-alberta-on-oil-sands-pipelines/
The federal government plans to provide greater certainty for oil sands and pipeline developers that they won’t be held back by concerns about greenhouse gas emissions so long as they fit under Alberta’s existing regulatory plan.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Peter Rukavina distills his talents down to "Printer -  Developer - Writer", with more pretty darn impressive details here https://ruk.ca/about-peter-rukavina; the Island is very fortunate that he and his family call it home.  His blog is here
https://ruk.ca/
and if you wish to subscribe, here is a link
or scroll to the bottom page (the "about" page is pretty short)

I am copying two entries here, one wonderfully self-serving on the Citizens' Alliance (please feel free to copy and share it) and the other, a recent one about James Alyward's ideas about consensus government.
(I have only changed the indentation of the paragraphs to shorten the spacing and added some colour.)
----------------------

published on Friday, April 6th, 2018, here:
https://ruk.ca/content/daily-email-newsletter-supporting-active-island-citizenship

A Daily Email Newsletter Supporting Active Island Citizenship - Peter Rukavina's blog posting

One of the good things to spring from the regrettable Plan B expressway development here on PEI some years ago was the PEI Citizens Alliance.

        And one of the great things about the PEI Citizens Alliance is its daily email newsletter, which they describe as “a daily e-newsletter of Island environmental and democratic news, and upcoming events.”
        I think of it more as a “daily email newsletter that supports active citizenship,” and I have been a happy subscriber since learning about it earlier this year.
        Editor Chris Ortenburger crafts a daily package of information about the Legislative Assembly and its sittings and committee meetings, political events, environmental activities and other useful miscellanea.
        You can subscribe simply by sending an email to citizensalliancepei@gmail.com and you can find back issues here.

        --Peter Rukavina, April 6th, 2018
------------------------------

published on Saturday, April 7th, 2018, here:
https://ruk.ca/content/hon-james-aylward-gets-interesting

Hon. James Aylward Gets Interesting - Peter Rukavina's blog posting

By all accounts, Hon. James Aylward, Leader of the Official Opposition here in Prince Edward Island, is a capable politician: he seems well-respected by peers of all political stripes, and well-regarded as the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.
       
Well-regarded as he may be, he would not historically be the kind of person you’d look to for bold ideas.
       
Until, that is, his guest opinion Consensus Government model could be effective solution to many concerns P.E.I. faces was published in The Guardian newspaper on March 23, 2018.       
        Suddenly Mr. Aylward catapulted from being one of the least interesting politicians on the Island to one of the most interesting ones.
       
The heart of Mr. Aylward’s argument:

It may seem strange for the leader of a political party to be suggesting the possible adoption of a system that does not involve the political parties. Nunavut was established in 1999 and deliberately opted for an elected assembly void of political parties. We now have four main registered political parties in the province, vying for support, advancing policies, raising money, nominating candidates. It may seem like a healthy political environment but is it the most effective? Each party offers some highly talented individuals, some are elected in government and have either a cabinet or backbench role, others are elected in opposition. Many times, the talent of backbench members and opposition members are underutilized in the governing process although they have an equal interest in helping Islanders. My interest in changing the current system is to come up with a process that fully utilizes the talents of all elected MLA’s.

Our current system is based on the winner take all, decide all. This reduces the role of individual MLA’s. As you may recall from part one of my article there is a need for serious reform of the role of MLA’s.

Consensus government achieves that. Each MLA is elected on an individual independent candidate basis. No party platforms, no party signs, no party advertising, no premiers selected by a party, no focus on politics over policy, no backbenchers, no formal opposition. Just good people elected by each district working to provide good government.

This is an interesting idea for three distinct but overlapping reasons.

        First, as Mr. Aylward himself states, it’s “strange for the leader of a political party to be suggesting the possible adoption of a system that does not involve the political parties.” That not only takes courage, but it also immediately vaults the idea into a place where it can be seriously considered: proposed by someone on the fringes of the established Island political scene, it would be seen suspiciously anarchistic; from the leader of a long-established political party whose seen where the bodies are buried, it’s something we all need to take seriously.
   
        Second, it speaks well of Mr. Aylward’s skills as a leader. We’re in the heart of a protracted multi-year debate about the future of electoral politics here on Prince Edward Island, with intractable sides having dug in deep on both sides of the issue as to whether we should adopt proportional representation or maintain first-past-the-post. Rather than jumping into the fray of choosing option A or option B, Mr. Aylward has, instead, proposed option C. Or, indeed, more like option Σ. In a world of “should we have pizza or Thai?”, Aylward has proposed “bicycling.”
       
Third, and most significant, is that it sounds like a very good idea.
       
It has been my almost-universal experience that if a diverse group of fair-minded people come together to make a plan, great things–things that none of them as individuals would be capable of–can result. That is the heart of consensus, and the skills it fosters–compromise, creativity, compassion, cooperation–are all ones mostly absent in our current “you’re a jerk–no, you’re a jerk” method of governing ourselves.

In a fascinating January essay The problem with voting, Nadia Eghbal wrote, in part:

The goal of consensus seeking is to discuss concerns until no blockers remain, without coming to a vote. A vote is considered the “failure” outcome. Participants voice their concerns and listen to each other, but try to avoid blocking (or stalemating) the proposed course of action. When no blockers remain, stakeholders are said to have reached consensus.
Under consensus seeking, a proposal theoretically might have won 10–2, but if those 10 felt weakly about their support, and those 2 feel strongly opposed, the minority could still win.

        This is decidedly not how we are governed here on Prince Edward Island, but I believe that we all have it deep within us to cooperate at this level.
       
Mr. Aylward deserves our thanks for raising this issue now, at this important juncture; I am hopeful that it will broaden the boundaries of the upcoming re-debate of proportional representation.
       
Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Third Party, agrees, writing in a response to Mr. Aylward’s opinion piece:

        Personally, I’d love to see a full discussion on the appropriateness of the Nunavut style of government for P.E.I. – indeed it was brought up by a small number of presenters during the community engagement phase of the electoral reform process we underwent leading up to the plebiscite in 2016.
        So, thank you, James Aylward, for your radical idea. In the meantime, let’s honour the vote, adopt Proportional Representation, and take a bold step towards what many of us – including Aylward, and apparently the PC caucus — would love to see practised in Island politics: Politicians collaborating in non-partisan consensus decision-making for the betterment of our community.

        With its overturning of the results of the last electoral reform plebiscite, and generally antediluvian attitude toward anything but the electoral status quo, the Liberal Party of Hon. Wade MacLauchlan has appeared dramatically out of sync with the progressive zeitgeist burbling through the Island; together Mr. Aylward and Mr. Bevan-Baker are raising the ante even further. The coming months, as a result, may make for some of the most interesting, substantive political debate the Island has seen since Confederation.
        --Peter Rukavina, April 7th, 2018

April 7, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:

Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM).  The variety of locally grown vegetables available (fresh and well-stored since Fall harvest) is amazing.  

NDP PEI Leadership Convention, with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in attendance, Murphy Community Centre, Richmond Street.
8:30-9-30AM Registration  
9:30AM -- AGM begins
12:30 -- 1:45PM Lunch
12:30-1:15PM -- Meet and greet (at convention) with Jagmeet Singh (see next event, below)
2PM -- Leadership convention begins.   
4PM-- Jagmeet Singh to address the gathering.   
5PM -- tentative close of day.
All are welcome, and you can purchase a membership that day ($10) and vote (as long as you are not a member of another political party on
PEI at the time). 

Also:
"Jagmeet and Greet", 1:15-2PM,
Timothy's World Coffee, 154 Great George Street.  Everyone is invited to drop by.
So that timing for him to be at Murphy's Community Centre and heading up to Timothy's is a bit tight, but it's great whenever Party Leaders come to P.E.I. and spend any amount of time in a public place to meet Islanders.

Green Tea in Slemon Park, 1-3PM, Anson's Restaurant, Slemon Park, outside Summerside.  Meet Green Party people and chat about ideas.
Facebook event details

'Gardening Talk' with Gerry Reichheld, 2PM, Summerside Library.  "A long time market gardener at his own 'Rural Routes Farm', Gerry will share his expertise and answer any questions you may have about growing your summer harvest. ...The Library Seed Bank is open and more seeds have just been added. Let's get growing!!"

More sipping and chatting:
Stratford Green Tea, 3-5PM
, Now n Zen Coffee House, 17 Glen Stewart Drive, Stratford. Meet other Green Party people and chat about ideas.
Facebook event details

Tomorrow, Sunday, April 8th:
Abercrombie, a presentation with author Joan Baxter, 2-4PM,
Farm Centre.  She will be reading from her book about the Nova Scotia paper mill, and Melanie Giffin from the PEI Fishermen's Association will be speaking, also.  People on both sides of the Northumberland Strait are concerned.  All welcome.
-------------------------------

Besides some hard questions about tangible improvements in provincial social assistance since The Guardian's series on poverty one year ago yesterday (such as pointing out that social assistance recipients can get $20 a month for transportation, a bus pass costs $60 a month in Charlottetown -- and the government rate for employees including MLAs reimbursed for mileage is adjusted monthly and is about 44cents per kilometer), the main focus in the P.E.I. Legislature yesterday was on the tabling of the 2018-2019 Provincial budget.

CBC's website has highlighted some of the big announcements from yesterday's provincial budget, here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-budget-2018-announcement-1.4607994

And basically it looks like:

Just kidding (and apologies to Mr. Lesko), but there would have to be some serious calculations done on the numbers, a realistic look at the Special Warrants issued throughout year to gauge how much didn't get put in last year's budget, AND keep in mind that there are new taxes and fees to bring in more money to balance this budget.   Also, we might want to keep in mind why P.E.I.'s economy is doing so well (at least, according to currently accepted economic indicators), and how sustainable is this in the long-run.
--------------------------------

"There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada.  I believe in you."
                --Jack Layton, former NDP Leader (1950-2011)

April 6, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This morning:

CBC Radio Roundtable Discussion: NDP leadership candidates, 7:37-8AM.  The media broadcaster is being rather parsimonious about morning radio time and coverage in general.  But it's something, and good timing. 

Today:
P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM-1PM.
  Coles Building, Eastlink, or at the Watch Live button here.
The Provincial Budget will be tabled by Finance Minister Heath MacDonald at 11:30AM.

Saturday, April 7th:
NDP Convention, Murphy Centre, all day.,
including time with Federal Leader Jagmeet Singh.

-------------------------------
The P.E.I. Legislature opened yesterday:
The Speaker (Buck Watts) first stood and commented that he stood by his earlier ruling, calling the farce of watching three complicated bills pushed through on the last afternoon of the Fall Sitting called a farce, an unparliamentary word in that context; today was rather tragicomic.

The Speaker sternly warned the Members about time limits for questions, especially for the non-Official Opposition MLAs (meaning Peter Bevan-Baker, Hannah Bell, and Bush Dumville).  Forty seconds for the first, 20 for the supplementaries and no big long preambles.

"The Premier wants e-gaming put behind him,"  Bush Dumville recalled former MLA and now the Premier's Chief of Staff Robby Vessey instructing the Liberal members on the Public Accounts committee in 2016, during his question time.
The Premier somewhat petulantly responded that Bush's preamble was very long, looking around at his Caucus for approval, said that he doesn't remember that directive, and the Liberals always work as a team.

In Question Period it was also determined that the Liberals are to introduce their own bill to help First Responders, effectively disregarding the work on the Private Member's Bill by Jamie Fox passed unanimously in the Fall Sitting, to do just that.  The Bill passed in the Fall, but wasn't acclaimed by the government Caucus.  So nothing moves to help these first responders until the Ego is tended to.

During the Opposition Afternoon, PC Leader James Aylward introduced a motion to have a Consensus Government option added to the Referendum.   He spoke to it (I'll find the recording link later), as did seconder Steven Myers and also (warned to be brief) Brad Trivers.  Motion 34 is here:  http://www.assembly.pe.ca/progmotions/onemotion.php?number=34&session=3&assembly=65
 
Evening -- Discussion of the Registered Professional Planners Act, which the Opposition really wanted to talk about concerns that bridge over to the Municipalities Act, but
Committee of the Whole House Chair Kathleen Casey tries to get the discussion focused on the actual bill, which basically sets the framework for the profession to be regulated.  More later.

--------------------------------
Here are a few environmental notes:
Here is a letter from the Sierra Club you can sign and send to the Fisheries Minister, Dominic LeBlanc, urging him to further protect Right whales by halting seismic testing and oil and gas well drilling on the Scotian Shelf.   Read, personalize, and sign here if you wish:
https://www.sierraclub.ca/en/node/3347?wssl=1

The Federal Liberals are meeting in Halifax from Thursday, April 19th until Saturday night, April 21st. 
One resolution the Women's Liberal Commission is considering is about a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights.  Read more about it here:
https://2018.liberal.ca/policy/canadian-environmental-bill-of-rights/

--------------------------------
Even though provincial budget is just being introduced today, this quote from our neighbouring province from our neighbouring province:


“The budget will pass and there will be an outpouring of the Liberals’ self-defining selfcongratulation. On that day, the same 40,000 people will continue to go to food banks, and the same $40,000 will continue to be the average amount owed by Nova Scotia’s graduating (university) students, and the Department of Health and Wellness will continue to have more than 40,000 people registered as needing a family doctor.”
        --Gary Burrill, Nova Scotia NDP Leader and MLA, March 26th, 2018

April 5, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:
P.E.I. Legislature Spring Sitting begins, 2-5PM and 7-9PM,
Coles Building (Legislative Chamber).  The PEI Legislature resumes today since the dramatic closure of the House right before Christmas last year.  It's still the 3rd Session of the of the 65th General Assembly, and since it's still the 3rd Session, not a new one, there won't be a Speech from the Throne today.  
However, there is a lot to do.  Usually in the Spring the Provincial Budget is examined and passed (though the fiscal year began Sunday, April 1st).  The budget is set to be introduced tomorrow at 11:30AM.  The Friday sitting starts at 10AM and usually goes until 1PM.
And there needs to be Referendum Legislation, too.  And presumably there will be Private Members' Bills and Motions to debate.  You can attend the Gallery and watch from the same room in the Visitors' Galley section.  Just bring photo ID and enter via the downstairs entrance (which also leads to the Third Party's office).

You can watch on Eastlink TV and on-line via the "Watch Live" link on the front page of the extremely informative Legislative Assembly website.  There are also Tweets and Facebook postings from the Legislative Assembly office (live feed on the website and the Legislative Assembly's Twitter and Facebook
sites.  The Citizens' Alliance sometimes tweets and posts on Facebook.

But not from the Gallery itself -- texting or other social media is not allowed by members of the public.  (Nor is knitting.) 

Things are a little different in each provincial or territorial Legislature.  For instance,
here is the list of rules for a Visitor Pass into the Nova Scotia Assembly. While non-Press people are not allowed to take photos, visitors can text and e-mail.  That would be a huge improvement if allowed in the P.E.I. Legislature.

Nova Scotia Legislature Gallery rules from their website
-----------
Seating this Session will have changed with a Cabinet shuffle in January and Bush Dumville's leaving the Liberal Caucus recently.  The Fall 2017 seating plan is still on the website, so it will be a change for spectators.  In P.E.I., the Government members sit to the Speaker's left and Opposition to the Speaker's right, generally, but in Nova Scotia:

The seating plan shows the layout of the legislative chamber, including the location of Members of the House of Assembly, presiding officers and table officers. The assignment of seats is determined in consultation with representatives of recognized parties in the House.
By tradition, members of the governing party occupy the seats to the right of the speaker or chair, with the premier and other ministers in the front benches. Occasionally, due to space constraints, members of the governing party may also sit on the left. Members representing opposition parties are seated to the left, with the leader of the official opposition sitting opposite the premier.
The seating plan is updated frequently, as party affiliations or legislative roles change.
from:
https://nslegislature.ca/members/profiles/house-seating-plan?mla_highlight_seat=121319#house-seating

--------------------------------
Also today:
Charlottetown Downtown Residents Association (CDRA) Info session on Concerts at Confederation Landing Park, 7PM,
St. Paul's Anglican Church Hall, 101 Prince Street. "An information session on events and concerts to be held at Confederation Landing on 29-30 June and at end July for upwards of 5000 people. The Deputy Police chief will make a presentation on security and parking, Councillor Mitch Tweel will represent the City and the promoter Mark Fisher will present his plan for the events. There will be a Q&A. All invited."  Facebook event details.

--------------------------------------
Amalgamation (and annexation of unincorporated areas) will likely be a big issue this session.  Here is an article from last week's Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-a-broken-poor-province-196632/

OPINION: A broken, poor province - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jim Culbert

Published on Monday, March 26th, 2018

Amalgamation gets government off hook from doing things it is doing now

Just to clarify before I broach the topic for the day, I have not a lot of interest in politics nor would I welcome the chance to be in government.

Saying this, I have been listening and watching local news with regards to amalgamation of certain areas on Prince Edward Island.

From what I understand and have heard, the government has studied and sorted out the province and has plans for 25 amalgamations from one end of the province to the another.

Now the way I see it, the whole structure would allow the 25 amalgamated areas to be basically their own government with the ‘head’ government of the day as overseers. The problem with this idea is that there is not the population base in any one area of the province to successfully meet the mandate of the amalgamation.

You say, “what do you mean?” Well, the way I see it, is that each of the 25 areas would be 100 per cent accountable for the running of the specific area. They would have to pay for garbage pickup; plowing of the roads; road repair; and fire stations - this just being a few of the things the provincial government looks after at the moment.

There would be no transfer payments from one district to another to help pay for a particular section that does not have the tax dollars coming in to look after the service costs going out.

So how do we then look after the shortfalls? Taxes will rise and probably within 10 years we would be paying 20 to 50 per cent more in taxes that some of us think are too high for their annual income now. Anyone thinking of building a deck or changing something on their property will have to apply for permits and that costs more money.

In the end. we will be a broken, poor province with shabby roads, pot holes that do not get fixed, roadsides will not have their grass cut to look nice for the tourists as they travel P.E.I., roads that will not be plowed for days in the winter all because that particular section just does not have the resources to maintain to the high standards we have here on the Island now.

And what will the head provincial government be doing? It will be laughing at the wonderful idea of amalgamation that gets it off the hook from doing all the things it is doing now.

So, what can we do to stop this insanity? Vote to stop amalgamation of un-amalgamated areas of our fair province and keep the head government looking after our services as it has been doing for a long time.

If you do not stand up for your rights now and vote the idea down, do not cry the blues in a few years when everything looks a little shabby and some are moving away because they just cannot afford to live here.

- Jim Culbert has operated a B&B in Vernon Bridge for 30 years, as well as being the first appointed marriage commissioner on P.E.I. He also runs a successful re-upholstery shop.

April 4, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:

Noontime presentation:

Wednesday, April 4th:
Lunchtime Talk: Feip de Bie presents: "Giving Wings to Wildlife:  Wildlife Care at AVC,"
12:30PM.  Also on hand will be falconer Jamie Stride. This is a fundraiser for renovations to the vet college flight cage.  More details at UPEI's website.

-------------------------------
Several people mentioned some highlights from the National Farmers' Union convention yesterday in Milton, as I was not able to attend.  Hats off to the NFU organization for presenting an interesting and well-run day.  Good to have both the Agriculture Minister Henderson and the Communities, Land and Environment minister (Richard Brown) there, to discuss what their government is doing, and to field questions.

However, what struck a lot of listeners was the lack of understanding of the real value of the land and a lack of vision for the long-term.  Remarks such as not proposing to change anything unless they hear from a lot of people, of not really understanding the connections of agriculture and food security, or concerns about some pesticides, etc.  Not much leadership here.

What struck me was the response of the Environment Minister about the Water Act and upcoming regulations.  Apparently, the plan Mr. Brown first told the audience was to have the "consultations" consisting of putting the regulations on a website with a comment period. 

That's not real consultation, and that's not what former Minister Robert Mitchell promised repeatedly.

This shows that so much of the Water Act was written to be "minister's discretion"....and that is very troubling.   Mere whim or taking direction from higher up and hoping a slim effort won't be called out by citizens is not having meaning consultation with Islanders, and it appears they are aware of this. 

(Think of some of the Ministers of the Environment we have had and their "discretion" and imagine how they would respond to demands for more transparency and meaningful consultation with residents.) 

Apparently, in the end, after hearing the people there, Minister Brown promised public meetings on the regulations....which is what had been promised in the first place
-------------------------------

David Weale steps back and looks at the big picture:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-the-gospel-of-more-198321/

OPINION: The gospel of more - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Weale

There is more to life than the making and spending of money; and corporate greed

Published on Monday, April 2nd, 2018

The ‘gospel’ according to bankers, global capitalists and their political henchmen contains a small number of fundamental axioms or verities. I call them unholy principles.

The first is that it is a righteous thing to tear down all barriers to global trade, especially those that protect local economies that are impediments to the aspirations of the big boys. From a million pulpits they assure us that the free, wide-open market (which, of course, is not free at all) will render all of us prosperous. The message is believed fervently and proclaimed relentlessly. So much so that the average person accepts it as a self-evident truth, even though it is an outright lie.

The second unholy principle is that the GDP must continue to increase. This uncritical, faith-based commitment to eternal ‘moreness,’ (which is clearly catastrophic to both human society and the environment over the long haul) is, nonetheless, the principal dogma of the corporate faith. Yet it is an immature, unevolved doctrine unworthy of those women and men of spirit in all cultures who realize there is more to life than the making and spending of money.

The third unholy principle is that the well-being of many societies, including ours, depends on robust immigration. This obsession has nothing to do with compassion for the displaced and downtrodden. Immigrants are viewed less and less as individuals to be welcomed into the society in a wise and compassionate manner, and more and more as statistics within a soulless, corporate world-view -- mere ciphers within an economic equation.

To understand better what I am saying I would direct you the remarks of former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna in The Guardian, March 22, who says that our economic situation in Atlantic Canada will be “catastrophic” without heavy immigration. Ask yourself if that sounds like it is coming from a broad-minded, big-hearted individual who wants to help immigrants, or a man with the bottom-line, tunnel-vision of a banker, which he is. And yet I would challenge anyone to come up with one major study which has demonstrated over time that immigration improves the economic situation for the residents of the host community.

There are many great reasons for inviting immigrants into our country; however, the need to increase the economic well-being of the community is not one of them. Oh yes, it might increase the GDP, and provide greater profits for the multinationals and their shareholders, but will the average citizen be better off? There is no proof of that. None at all. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t welcome immigrants, just that we should pay no heed to those false premises which corrupt the entire process, which is happening on the Island right now.

From beginning to end this latter-day gospel of more, of which our premier is a high priest, is characterized by magical thinking, grandiose pronouncements, and a thinly disguised lust for greater profit and power. And yet, sadly, it has become the meta-narrative for the entire world.

We need a new story. One with more heart and soul. One that is not so driven by greed. One that honours local communities. One with respect for the environment that sustains us all. And I am just foolish enough to believe that a little place like P.E.I., and others like it, where attachment to place, and love of community are so strong, are ideally positioned to provide inspiration for the new storyline for which the whole world is longing.

But first we need to get rid of the priests.

- David Weale is a founder of Vision P.E.I.

April 3, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Reminders for today, and some events this week not previously mentioned:

Today:
NFU Convention
, registration at 9:30AM, starting at 10AM; at 1:15PM, Environment Minister Richard Brown giving the keynote address discussing the Lands Protection Act at 1:15PM.  Milton Hall.

This afternoon:
Meet and Greet Paralympians Mark Arenz and Billy Bridges, 
Doors open with Meet and Greet at 6PM, speeches at 6:30PM, more meet and greet around 7:15-8PM.  Rodd's Royalty. 

Tonight:
Wildlife Photography Presentation with Lucas MacCormack
, at the Nature PEI monthly meeting, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, all welcome.
-------------
Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 4th:
Lunchtime Talk: "Giving Wings to Wildlife:  Wildlife Care at AVC,"
with Atlantic Veterinary College wildlife technician Feip de Bie, 12:30PM.  Falconer Jamie Stride will also be on hand with two raptors.  Cupcakes for sale and a raffle; all proceeds will support renovations to the flight cage.  More details at UPEI's website.

Thursday, April 5th:
PEI Low Energy Homes Tour, 4-5:30PM
, meeting in Tyne Valley (179 Allen Road).   Tour of six Low Energy mini homes.  Hosted by the West Prince Chamber of Commerce.  Facebook event details.

Saturday, April 7th:
Green Tea in Slemon Park, 1-3PM
, Anson's Restaurant.  All welcome to meet and chat with Green Party of PEI critics and leadership.  All welcome.

Monday, April 9th:
Green Party Queen's County Community Forum, 6:30-8:30PM
, Emerald Community Centre.  Facebook event details.

-------------------------------
From yesterday's Guardian, Anna Keenan wrapping up ideas for true democratic renewal on P.E.I.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-reality-of-partisan-culture-198328/

Reality of partisan culture - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Anna Kennan

Proportional representation limits party’s power to precisely portion of vote they earn

Published on Monday, April 2nd, 2018

I’d like to thank James Aylward for sparking so much kitchen-table discussion across the island, by raising Nunavut’s consensus government, ‘no parties’ model as a possibility for P.E.I.   A tempting idea, indeed. However, I’d like to offer three observations.

First, praise for the excellent idea that every vote in the legislature should be a free vote, without MLAs being whipped along partisan lines. If MLAs were supported to truly represent their constituents, even if it meant crossing their party’s official line, Island politics would be much more democratic, diverse and collaborative - and less of a one man show, with an all-powerful premier pulling the strings of government MLAs.

Likewise, the idea of having an all-party cabinet, more truly representative of Islanders, with cabinet and premier elected by secret ballot, is a good one. All of this could be introduced in our current partisan system, but would be even better if the balance of MLAs in the house truly reflected the balance of public opinion - that is, if we had proportional representation.

Second, it’s worth reflecting that the dominant culture in Nunavut is indigenous, and consensus is deeply ingrained. Canada’s largest territory consists of 42 isolated Inuit communities, and before its founding in 1999, there was no history of political parties.

On P.E.I. - Canada’s smallest and likely tightest-knit province - we have had political parties since we gained responsible government in 1851. Simply deregistering parties - as tempting as that sounds to those of us disaffected with the current system - would not change the Island’s political culture.

Alliances, and deep network of partisan relationships, would still exist in our communities - they would just go underground and become less transparent to regular voting citizens.

Without partisan registration, the web of political donations and contributions that influence politics would be entirely unregulated, and become even more murky.

So, if we recognize partisan culture as a reality here on P.E.I., how do we limit the power of party elites? The answer is in an electoral system that has already been tried and tested around the world, and which Islanders have already voted for in 2016. Proportional representation (PR) recognizes partisan alliances as a cultural reality, while also limiting a party’s power to precisely the portion of the vote that they earn from citizens.

The third observation - the Nunavut model still includes winner take all district competitions, so the core problem of First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) still exists: in every district, there are still voters who win the representation they want, and voters (usually a majority) who lose. On P.E.I., in 21 of our 27 districts, including Up West, Down East and everywhere in between, a majority of voters wanted someone other than their current MLA.

This is a problem that can only be solved by PR, and having some MLAs who are accountable to - and elected by - people across the whole province. When like-minded voters from different districts - rural and urban, tip to tip - can pool their votes across district lines, their votes will actually count towards electing someone they support.

With PR, every voter wins. Under FPTP - or under Nunavut’s consensus government model - some lucky voters win, and others have to lose.

Ultimately, Island voters know that something has to change. A government with absolute power without the support of a majority of voters is a recipe for arrogance and abuse of power. Changing the colour of the 5th floor from Red to Blue - or even to Orange or Green - will not fix that temptation towards arrogance.

Whether the next premier is named MacLauchlan, Aylward or Bevan-Baker, we need a PR system that reminds politicians to stay humble, and not let absolute power go to their heads.

Islanders have already voted for Mixed Member Proportional Representation, and will vote for it again and again until we get the change we so desperately need. It will allow us to practice collaboration across party lines, and, through that practice, to start to change our political culture towards the consensus-based, cooperative, collaborative politics that Alyward envisions.

- Anna Keenan lives in St. Ann. She was the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation’s campaign director for the 2016 plebiscite, and sits on the board of FairVote Canada.

April 2, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

In case you had enough yesterday, and are making resolutions today:   ;-)
https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/how-to-stop-eating-sugar

-------------------------------
Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3rd:
National Farmers' Union AGM, registration 9:30AM
, Call to order 10AM, Milton Community Hall, corner of Rte. 7 and 224.  Business meeting in the AM, a report on soil organic matter, lunch, with Minister of Agriculture Robert Henderson speaking, and at 1:15PM, Communities, Land and Environment Minister Richard Brown is speaking about the Lands Protection Act.
All welcome, members or not, and the afternoon Minister Brown session is free.  The lunch meal costs $20.  *Only non-NFU members are asked to RSVP James Rodd if you are coming for the lunch meal: <roddjb@gmail.com>*

Tuesday night:
Nature PEI meeting with presentation by photographer Lucas MacCormack (who is 15!), 7:30-9PM
, Beaconsfield Carriage House.  Facebook event details.

Thursday, April 5th:
PEI Legislature opens for its Spring Sitting, 2-5PM,
and 7-9PM.

Saturday, April 7th:
NDP PEI Leadership Convention
, Murphy Community Centre.
8:30-9-30AM Registration  
9:30AM -- AGM begins
12:30 -- 1:45PM Lunch
12:30-1:15PM -- Meet and greet (at convention) with Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh
2PM -- Leadership convention begins.   
4PM-- Jagmeet Singh to address the gathering.   
5PM -- tentative close of day.

----------------------------------

Some info and analysis about the Nova Scotia Legislature and its talented MLA and Leader of the NDP, Gary Burrill, MLA for Halifax Chebucto.  There are currently 51 seats in the NS Legislature: 7 NDP MLAs, 16 PC MLAs, 27 Liberal MLAs, and one vacant seat.  There are some similarities in the decisions of the Nova Scotia Government and concerns of the Opposition Parties to decisions made by the P.E.I. Government.

Budget makes no positive difference: Burrill - The Guardian article by Jim Vibert

Published on Monday, March 26th, 2018

Gary Burrill can make a good case for spending money Nova Scotia doesn’t have.

The NDP leader has no problem differentiating his party from the government by rejecting the province’s fiscal policies as he advocates spending in education and health. The Tories are limited by the fiscal conservativism they share with the Liberals.“Jurisdictions across our country and around the world are recognizing governments can make investments at locked-in historic low interest levels,” he said, suggesting it is a time “not for fiscal retraction but for expansion and stimulus and investment in creating a broader future.”

A good speech is rare enough in Nova Scotia’s legislature that it is worthy of note. Whether you agree with Burrill is irrelevant. He’s easy listening.

The government is “so singularly obsessed with creating and hoarding, and gathering, and proclaiming the surpluses of its budgets that it misses out on the signature investments in our people that would fundamentally uplift the life of our province,” he said.

The United Church minister is untethered by a prepared text, so his rhetoric flows naturally but the overall address retains structure and each of his arguments is fully formed.

“The budget will pass and there will be an outpouring of the Liberals’ self-defining selfcongratulation. On that day, the same 40,000 people will continue to go to food banks, and the same $40,000 will continue to be the average amount owed by Nova Scotia’s graduating (university) students, and the Department of Health and Wellness will continue to have more than 40,000 people registered as needing a family doctor.”

He anticipates and rejects the government’s rebuttal arguments. The government’s stock answer about high university tuition is that higher loans are available, or loan forgiveness is possible, or that job programs have been created for graduates.

“This is all fog ... a shroud of obfuscation,” Burrill said, because the real question is “are those who do not come from money more likely to be able to open up wider opportunities for themselves through postsecondary education?”

The answer, unsurprisingly, was an unequivocal “no.” New Brunswick offers tuition-free postsecondary education to families with an income under $60,000 a year, and Ontario does the same when family income is less than $50,000. In Nova Scotia, the average university tuition is $7,726 and it is growing faster than anywhere in the country. 

The government’s response to problems in long-term care is to emphasize the expansion of home care.  “This is to compare an apricot with a spruce tree, because every one of those people living in alternate care in our hospitals is there because a professional care assessment has been offered and concluded . . . it is no longer tenable, it is no longer safe (for that person) to be living in their home.”

Burrill said the government’s focus is “on that which can be accomplished within the electoral cycle, disguised, paraded, masqueraded as though it were a concern for the generations of the future.” The government is defined, he said, by “smallness of vision, of character, of spirit, in combination with the absence of a sense for humility and a capacity to listen.”

Only an “overabundance of self-satisfaction and all the insensitivity and arrogance that tends to go hand-in-hand with that” could explain passing a bill that “obliterated the only level of government in Nova Scotia where women are adequately represented — school boards — and to have done it on International Women’s Day.”

Burrill also noted that the five-year-old Liberal government continues to make “gratuitous, nefarious comparisons between whatever little they have done and their assessment of what was done by the (NDP) government elected nine years ago.
“Some of these comparisons will be within the realm of fair comment but a great many of them will be below the standard of integrity that the public have a right to expect in democratic discourse.”

The NDP leader has staked out wide-open turf on the political left in Nova Scotia and he can give the government a good old-fashioned political buttkicking in the process. Most of what is said in the legislature is the political equivalent of a tree falling in a vacant forest. That’s unfortunate, because it is the one place to discover discernable differences in style and substance between the political parties.

--Jim Vibert grew up in Truro and is a Nova Scotian journalist, writer and former political and communications consultant to governments of all stripes.

April 1, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy Easter and all spring equinox related holidays!  What a month of April Fools it might be:  Will a writ be dropped?  Will there be three questions on the referendum, just to fool with us and the results?
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Saturday, April 7th:
Jagmeet Singh to visit P.E.I.

"Jagmeet and Greet", 1:15-2PM, Timothy's World Coffee, Great George Street, Charlottetown.  Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will be in Charlottetown Saturday, April 7th.  Facebook event details.
It is the same day as the provincial NDP Leadership convention, at the Murphy Centre, and so it's likely he'll be there, too.
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Catching up on some music and fun:
from Mainstreet, CBC Radio, January 2018:
Brad Trivers  (PC MLA, District 18- Rustico-Emerald) explains writing political songs to CBC's Angela Walker, and performs a new one called "Voting's Easy".  Audio broadcast, about 8minutes.
http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/15503305

From just about two weeks ago -- some beautiful, but also sad, music and fun, passed on by the American journalist Dan Rather's "News and Guts" website:
Lin-Manuel-Miranda and Ben Platt combined music from Broadway musicals Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen and made a single call "Found/Tonight", and gave proceeds to the "March for Our Lives" students against gun violence rallies.
Article with embedded YouTube:
https://www.newsandguts.com/video/broadway-stars-team-song-gun-violence/

-------------------------------------
Though the language is a little bit rough, this is an amazing personal essay from a U.S. ex-patriot about the young people in the States.

"These Magic Kids", by Michael Tallon, published on Sunday, March 25th, 2018, here:
https://midcenturymodernmag.com/these-magic-kids-1aefbbeb81cd
   
excerpt:

        They are looking square into a future denuded of the possibilities we older folks took for granted. They can see, quite clearly, that like plagues of locust, our grown-up generations have stripped the nation’s resources, bes***ted the global environment like we had a spare planet tucked in the garage under a tarp, presided over the destruction of our own middle class, and for a kicker, welcomed a parade of nationalist buffoons with fascist tendencies back into power.
        These kids can see the tribalism and they know that soon they’ll be ascendant.
        <snip>

Climate change/environment could be the issue that propels kids in this country.
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The federal political parties have sent countless e-mails to people the past few days to encourage them to donate before the first quarter of the year is over.  So here is a letter to the government about a serious issue -- a link and the letter from The Council of Canadians petition to the Prime Minister demanding improvements to the Navigable Waters Act. 

You can sign it here:
https://secure.canadians.org/page/20064/petition/1
 and it reads: 

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Leading up to the 2015 election, your government committed to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards for water that were gutted by the former Harper government.

The proposed changes of the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA) falls short of what Indigenous nations, environmental and community groups called for during the Standing Committee review. The majority of comments urged your government to restore protections on all lakes and rivers and obtain free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous nations.

A closer look reveals other serious failures in the proposed CNWA, including that massive energy projects such as pipelines and transmission lines are exempt from the act and that illegal fracking dams in northeastern B.C. could be approved after construction has started.

We urge you to scrap the proposed CNWA and table much stronger water protection legislation that:

  1. Protects all lakes, rivers and drinking water sources from being impeded, encroached upon or put at risk of contamination, including rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline that would threaten 1,355 waterways alone and phasing out extreme energy and water intensive projects.
  2. Protects oceans, ecosystems, marine life and the integrity of water itself to remain as intact as possible in watersheds.
  3. Respects that free, prior and informed consent must be obtained, as required by the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, prior to the approval of a project.
  4. Enshrines the UN human rights to water and sanitation, and the “obligation to protect” drinking water from being polluted.
  5. Appoints a federal water minister who would have the key role of advocating for the protection of water in cabinet decision-making on major resource projects.

This is the visionary water protection legislation Canada needs from you and our federal government in order to ensure we protect water today and for future generations.

(Sign at the petition link, above)

(The straightforward list reminds me a bit of the five improvements Islanders tried to get on the provincial Water Act; only one, making the fracking ban a real ban, was adopted, but the rest have not gone away and the Water Act can always be amended.)