CA News


  1. 1 December 8, 2019
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 1.2 Post Fall Legislative Sitting Update - social media posting by Ole Hammarlund
  2. 2 December 7, 2019
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 2.2 Why We Strike Again - Project Syndicate commentary by Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer, and Angela Valenzuela
  3. 3 December 6, 2019
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 3.2 Throne speech promises tax cut, climate action and ban on military-style firearms - CBC News article by John Paul Tasker
    3. 3.3 Enough About The Middle Class - Hope Canada article by Normal Russell
    4. 3.4 OPINION: Put electoral reform back on the table - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan Bobar
  4. 4 December 5, 2019
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 4.2 LETTER: A safer cycling environment needed - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  5. 5 December 4, 2019
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 5.2 Farmers market awaits talks between feds, Mi'kmaq over Crown land - CBC News online article by Sally Pitt
  6. 6 December 3, 2019
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 6.2 Throne Speech to prioritize climate jobs - by Dylan Penner, Climate and Social Justice Campaigner, The Council of Canadians
  7. 7 December 2, 2019
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 7.2 Pointless emails: they’re not just irritating – they have a massive carbon footprint - The Guardian (UK) website article by Stephen Moss
  8. 8 December 1, 2019
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 8.2 Byrne Calls for Action on Missing E-Gaming Records - NDPPEI release by Joe Byrne
    3. 8.3 NDP Supports Petition and Consultation on ATVs on Public Roads - NDPPEI release by Joe Byrne

December 8, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

So many seasonal events going on:
Artisan Sunday Market, 10AM-3PM, Charlottetown Farmers' Market, Belvedere Avenue. Lovely crafts, some weekly vendors with special products (e.g., Kate the Spice Lady has spiced Red Island Cider jelly in gift sizes), etc.

UPEI Choral Concert Choir, 2PM, Steel Recital Hall, UPEI Campus, admission at the door $15/$10.

"The UPEI Concert Choir, under the direction of Sung Ha Shin-Bouey will perform The Messiah-Part I (plus the Hallelujah Chorus) in collaboration with the Atlantic String Machine and the UPEI Voice Majors as the soloists. Other ensembles sharing the stage will be the UPEI Chamber Singers, Le Ragazze Girls Vocal Ensemble, and the Ragazzi Jrs Singers in collaboration with pianist Leo Marchildon."

This Week:
Monday, December 9th:
PEI PC Party Christmas Social, 5:30-7:30PM, The Pourhouse (above The Olde Triangle, corner of Great George and Fitzroy Streets), all welcome.

Christmas in Brass at The Mount, featuring Tuba Christmas, 7PM, The Mount (141 Mount Edward Road, Charlottetown). Admission by donation. (Note: This annual event has been at Trinity United Church in recent years)

"The rich, warm sounds of brass band music has been a traditional part of the Christmas season since the Victorian Era. The event will feature (traditional seasonal favourites including) a varied selection of Christmas carols and songs as well as Tuba Christmas, the Great George Street vocal quartet and our famous sing-a-long!"

Thursday, December 12th:
Have Faith, a concert for Hurricane Dorian relief in the Bahamas, 7PM, St. Paul's Anglican Church, Charlottetown. More details at: Facebook event details

Two MLAs are hosting on-line "Ask Your MLA on-line events" this week:

Monday, December 9th:
District 23: Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke Trish Altass, 11AM-1PM, Facebook event details

Thursday, December 12th:
District 13: Charlottetown-Brighton MLA Ole Hammarlund, 1-3PM, Facebook event details
This is a summary and reflection on the P.E.I. Fall Legislative Assembly sitting, which ended November 28th, by Official Opposition MLA for District 13 (Charlottetown-Brighton) Ole Hammarlund:

Ole Hammarlund
Wednesday, December 4th, 2019
social media posting

Post Fall Legislative Sitting Update - social media posting by Ole Hammarlund

Our second session in the House was short but satisfying.

One of my personal goals was to get the Net Zero Now motion passed. This motion was introduced in the spring session and it urges government to build all new government funded buildings to Net Zero standards now. After all Net Zero buildings is what our legislated goal is for 2050, so we better start now or we have no hope of ever reaching that goal. Net Zero may be a bit more expensive, but the extra cost is offset by energy savings. Net Zero buildings are actually cheaper in the long run.

There was a long debate on this motion which took up a lot of time on three different days. There was lot of resistance from the government side, with the Minister of Environment introducing an amendment to the motion which, in my opinion, basically would make the motion meaningless. However, the motion was saved with a second amendment suggested by the Leader of the Official Opposition, our leader, Peter Bevan-Baker. His amendment suggested the next new school government builds would be designed and built to Net Zero standards. The motion passed with this amendment. Now we just have to wait and see what action the government actually takes. In our parliamentary system, a motion does not bind the government to taking any particular action. However, it being said and passed in the House makes it difficult for government to simply ignore a motion it has supported.

There were lots of other bills introduced and passed with some having received considerable collaboration between our caucus and the government caucus. The adoption bill was an interesting example of this collaboration. Since most issues had been debated earlier, this bill passed through the house with very little debate. However, I was moved by a very personal letter from a constituent who was concerned about the provision of a disclosure veto in the proposed bill and used this letter to ask some pointed questions during the debate.

This bill also received a lot of attention from members of the public. Many legislators were bombarded with weeks of e-mails from local, national and American groups who strongly opposed the veto clause in the bill. Personally, I believe privacy could have been obtained by some other means than a disclosure veto. I think every child has a right to know where they come from when they reach adulthood and I expressed my concern by voting against this bill. Despite my own concerns, overall, I believe this bill is a great step forward in opening the records. It is important to note that experience from other provinces show only 3-5% choose to exercise the disclosure veto option.

Exercising our right to vote our conscience is basic to the Opposition Caucus and I appreciate the fact that I am able to do so. The first example of me voting my conscience was during the spring sitting when I voted against the budget. At the time I believed the government was failing to make any meaningful progress in combating climate change and building affordable housing.

I believe government is continuing the ineffective climate change actions begun by the previous government, specifically by subsidizing the use of gas by lowering the provincial gas tax. I also believe the new emphasis on burning wood chips is misguided and could increase carbon emissions and decrease carbon stored in mature woods. On the positive side, there are steps forward in affordable housing, but they are small and painfully slow.

It is interesting to note this session there were more MLA’s voting against the capital budget. Yes, progress has been made but not quite enough. It is my hope government will improve upon its commitment to combat climate change and make more meaningful progress on issues that are important to Islanders.


Legislative Assembly website to look up any Bills, Motions or Debates:
"We must not be deflected, diverted or distracted from the climate change fight."
--- Gwynne Dyer, journalist and commentator

December 7, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Bring It Charlottetown Pledge Booth, 10AM-2PM, Charlottetown Mall. "People are encouraged to stop by the booth to learn more about the issues surrounding single-use plastics and take the pledge to Bring It from now on. A free reusable alternative will be provided to everyone who takes the pledge."

HO HO HO Christmas Craft Fair, 9AM-4PM. Murphy's Centre, Charlottetown "Over 90 vendors will be on hand with lots of amazing crafts/gift ideas..."

Christmas in the Villages, 9AM-2PM, Murray Harbour / Murray River area.
"Welcome old friends and new friends alike to Christmas in the Villages 2019. This annual event which showcases a wide variety of creations and product of local artisans, farmers and community several venues in the beautiful Murray Harbour’s/Murray River area"
Facebook event link

Singing Strings Senior Concert, "A Concert of Seasonal Music", 7-9PM, Park Royal United Church, Charlottetown.
"The Senior Singing Strings and Special Guests The Atlantic String Machine ...the highlight of the evening will be Corelli's famous Christmas Concerto....Admission is by donation, and all donations in support of the CBC Feed the Family drive for local food banks."
CBC has a podcast called "Frontburner", a weekday "deep dive" into one topic or issue. You may have to download the CBC Listen" app to play it, or not. Interesting set of archived topics.

Why We Strike Again - Project Syndicate commentary by Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer, and Angela Valenzuela

Published on Friday, November 29th, 2019, on Project Syndicate

After more than a year of grim scientific projections and growing activism, world leaders and the public alike are increasingly recognizing the severity and urgency of the climate crisis. And yet nothing has been done.

MADRID – For more than a year, children and young people from around the world have been striking for the climate. We launched a movement that defied all expectations, with millions of people lending their voices – and their bodies – to the cause. We did this not because it was our dream, but because we didn’t see anyone else taking action to secure our future.

And despite the vocal support we have received from many adults – including some of the world’s most powerful leaders – we still don’t.Striking is not a choice we relish; we do it because we see no other options. We have watched a string of United Nations climate conferences unfold. Countless negotiations have produced much-hyped but ultimately empty commitments from the world’s governments – the same governments that allow fossil-fuel companies to drill for ever-more oil and gas, and burn away our futures for their profit.Politicians and fossil-fuel companies have known about climate change for decades. And yet the politicians let the profiteers continue to exploit our planet’s resources and destroy its ecosystems in a quest for quick cash that threatens our very existence.

Don’t take our word for it: scientists are sounding the alarm. They warn that we have never been less likely to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – the threshold beyond which the most destructive effects of climate change would be triggered.Worse, recent research shows that we are on track to produce 120% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with the 1.5°C limit.

The concentration of climate-heating greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has reached a record high, with no sign of a slowdown. Even if countries fulfill their current emissions-reduction pledges, we are headed for a 3.2°C increase.Young people like us bear the brunt of our leaders’ failures. Research shows that pollution from burning fossil fuels is the world’s most significant threat to children’s health. Just this month, five million masks were handed out at schools in New Delhi, India’s capital, owing to toxic smog. Fossil fuels are literally choking the life from us.

The science is crying out for urgent action, and still our leaders dare to ignore it. So we continue to fight.

After a year of strikes, our voices are being heard. We are being invited to speak in the corridors of power. At the UN, we addressed a room filled with world leaders. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, we met with prime ministers, presidents, and even the pope. We have spent hundreds of hours participating in panels and speaking with journalists and filmmakers. We have been offered awards for our activism.

Our efforts have helped to shift the wider conversation on climate change. People now increasingly discuss the crisis we face, not in whispers or as an afterthought, but publicly and with a sense of urgency. Polls confirm changing perceptions. One recent survey showed that, in seven of the eight countries included, climate breakdown is considered to be the most important issue facing the world. Another confirmed that schoolchildren have led the way in raising awareness.

With public opinion shifting, world leaders, too, say that they have heard us. They say that they agree with our demand for urgent action to tackle the climate crisis. But they do nothing. As they head to Madrid for the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, we call out this hypocrisy.

On the next two Fridays, we will again take to the streets: worldwide on November 29, and in Madrid, Santiago, and many other places on December 6 during the UN climate conference. Schoolchildren, young people, and adults all over the world will stand together, demanding that our leaders take action – not because we want them to, but because the science demands it.

That action must be powerful and wide-ranging. After all, the climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice, and of political will. Colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fueled it. We need to dismantle them all. Our political leaders can no longer shirk their responsibilities.

Some say that the Madrid conference is not very important; the big decisions will be made at COP26 in Glasgow next year. We disagree. As the science makes clear, we don’t have a single day to lose.We have learned that, if we do not step up, nobody will. So we will keep up a steady drumbeat of strikes, protests, and other actions. We will become louder and louder. We will do whatever it takes to persuade our leaders to unite behind science so clear that even children understand it.

Collective action works; we have proved that. But to change everything, we need everyone. Each and every one of us must participate in the climate resistance movement. We cannot just say we care; we must show it.Join us. Participate in our upcoming climate strikes in Madrid or in your hometown. Show your community, the fossil-fuel industry, and your political leaders that you will not tolerate inaction on climate change anymore. With numbers on our side, we have a chance.

And to the leaders who are headed to Madrid, our message is simple: the eyes of all future generations are upon you. Act accordingly.

This commentary was also signed by Evan Meneses (Australia) and Hilda Flavia Nakabuye (Fridays for Future Uganda).

Greta Thunberg is a Swedish climate activist. Luisa Neubauer is a German climate activist. Angela Valenzuela is a coordinator of Fridays for Future in Santiago.

"And if my heart be scarred and burned,
The safer, I, for all I learned;
The calmer, I, to see it true."
---Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)

December 6, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Pancake Breakfast Support/Info Duke of Edinburgh Award, 7-9AM, St Paul's Church Hall, 101 Prince Street, Charlottetown, $5 admission

Montreal Massacre Memorial Service, 12noon-1PM, Charlottetown: Memorial Hall, Confederation Centre of the Arts Summerside: Presbyterian Church (next to Three Oaks High School),130 Victoria Road. "First mourn, then work for change."
UPEI Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering Service, 5PM, Engineering School Building lobby, UPEI.

Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Cenotaph, Grafton Street Side of Province House, Charlottetown.

HO HO HO Christmas Craft Fair, 4-6PM today and 9AM-4PM Saturday, Murphy's Centre, Charlottetown "Over 90 vendors will be on hand with lots of amazing crafts/gift ideas..."

Saturday, December 7th:
"Bring It Charlottetown" Pledge Booth, 10AM-2PM, Charlottetown Mall. "The Bring It Charlottetown pledge booth will officially launch on Saturday...will be set-up at a number of public events and locations in December and January, as well as throughout the coming year. People are encouraged to stop by the booth to learn more about the issues surrounding single-use plastics and take the pledge to Bring It from now on. A free reusable alternative will be provided to everyone who takes the pledge."

Other "Bring It Pledge" Events for December:
Tuesday, December 10th, 10AM-2PM
, Charlottetown City Hall
Sunday, December 15th, 10AM-3PM
, Artisan Christmas Market (Charlottetown Farmer’s Market)
This is a lot of reaction to the federal Speech from the Throne, from and such, but with major, major issues like climate change and democratic reform having implications both across the nation and in our own little corner of things, it seemed worth a look from several perspectives.

1) CBC Article: A good wrap-up of the federal Speech from the Throne is here:

Throne speech promises tax cut, climate action and ban on military-style firearms - CBC News article by John Paul Tasker

In 28-minute address, Liberal government calls on MPs to work across party lines in minority Parliament

In a throne speech promising new efforts to tackle climate change, make life more affordable and impose a ban on "military-style" firearms, the Liberal government today called on members of Parliament to work across party lines to solve some of the country's most pressing issues.

The first throne speech since the election — which saw voters return Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals to power in a minority government — struck a conciliatory tone. The government signalled it will take up issues championed by the opposition parties — like tax-free parental benefits and a crackdown on money laundering — alongside its own ambitious agenda for progressive reform."While your approaches may differ, you share the common belief that government should try, whenever possible, to make life better for Canadians," said Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, reading the prepared text of the throne speech. "Some believe that minority governments are incapable of getting things done. But Canada's history tells us otherwise."

On the national unity front, the speech acknowledged the growing restlessness in Alberta and Saskatchewan at a time of depressed oil and gas prices and constrained pipeline capacity. Thursday's 28-minute address, titled "Moving Forward Together," included a promise to "find solutions" to help those two western provinces, and oil-rich Newfoundland and Labrador, weather the oil price slump.
'These are not simple tasks'

"The government has heard Canadians' concerns that the world is increasingly uncertain and that the economy is changing. And in this context, regional needs and differences really matter. Today's regional economic concerns are both justified and important," Payette said.

The speech said the Liberal government is committed to getting "Canadian resources to new markets," a reference to the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline project currently under construction after years of delays. While promising climate action, the government has also said building this pipeline to tidewater is in the national interest as it will deliver Alberta oil to markets abroad at better prices.While the Governor General delivers the remarks, the text itself is written by the Prime Minister's Office.

However, Payette added some personal remarks to the speech. The PMO confirmed the first 11 paragraphs of the speech were the Governor General's "preamble." Payette, a former astronaut, said Canadians must work together in collaboration because "we are inextricably bound to the same space-time continuum and on board the same planetary spaceship."

The throne speech was grouped under four themes: fighting climate change, strengthening the middle class, Indigenous reconciliation, keeping Canadians safe and healthy and positioning Canada for success in an uncertain world.
"These are not simple tasks. But they are achievable if you stay focused on the people who sent you here. Moms and dads. Grandparents and students. New Canadians, business owners and workers. People from all walks of life. Every one of them expects their parliamentarians to get to work and deliver on a plan that moves our country forward for all Canadians," Payett.

This is the first throne speech for Payette — she was named by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2017 — and the first such speech in the temporary Senate chamber housed in Ottawa's former central train station. Renovations are underway to Centre Block on Parliament Hill. Because of the repairs, the Usher of the Black Rod, Greg Peters, the Queen's messenger in Parliament, had to travel by bus from the Senate chamber, where the speech is delivered, to the Commons to summons MPs to the Red Chamber for the speech. The two temporary chambers where MPs and senators are about half a kilometre apart. Tax cut coming. The throne speech reiterated much of what the Liberal Party promised in the last election campaign.The first order of business for this 43rd Parliament will be enacting a new middle-class tax cut and making the Canada Child Benefit — payments to parents to help offset the costs of raising a child — more generous.Payette said voters returned a minority Parliament dominated by progressive parties determined to take "ambitious" climate action now.The government promised to defend its national price on carbon to help curb greenhouse gas emissions while pushing ahead with a plan to render the country "net-zero" on emissions by 2050. That plan would mean making deep cuts to carbon emissions or offsetting those emissions through other actions that scrub carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees. The Liberals have promised to plant two billion trees.

Beyond the tree planting, the government said it would enact policies to make energy efficient homes more affordable, subsidize zero-emission vehicles, develop cleaner sources of power and make Canada a chosen destination for clean technology firms.

"Canada's children and grandchildren will judge this generation by its action — or inaction — on
the defining challenge of the time: climate change. The government will continue to protect the environment and preserve Canada's natural legacy. And it will do so in a way that grows the economy and makes life more affordable," Payette said.
On the "keeping Canadians safe and healthy" file, the speech promised to follow through with a pledge to implement a national pharmacare program. In a surprise addition to the speech, the government also said Parliament should study the viability of a dental care program.

The Liberals also are promising to ban "military-style" firearms and implement a firearms buy-back program. It also repeated a promise to allow municipalities and communities to ban handguns.

"Year after year, headline after headline, Canadians have seen first hand the devastating effects of gun violence. Too many lives lost, too many families shattered. It is time to show courage and strengthen gun control," Payette said.

2) "Hope Canada's" perspective from the heartland:

Enough About The Middle Class - Hope Canada article by Normal Russell

Published on Thursday, December 5th, 2019

It has been well over a week since I first heard about the Trudeau government’s creation of a new ministry, namely the Ministry for Middle Class Prosperity, and I still haven’t stopped choking. Seriously? There are so many things wrong with this idea, and only one thing in favour of it; crass political maneuvering. The Conservatives, knowing the worst off in society barely vote, and certainly not for them, made a point of targeting the “middle class” voter, and the Trudeau Liberals don’t want to be out of the loop.

Let’s start with the complete inability of any one in the Trudeau government to define the parameters of “middle class” means. The most common numbers put forward were those that suggested the middle class were those families whose incomes were between $45,000 and $120,000 a year. That is quite a spread. I can guarantee you that most families trying to get by on $45,000 a year would be unlikely to feel that they share the same lifestyle as those making $120,000, let alone share the same problems. Part of the problem, of course, is one of semantics; the modern political lexicon has done away with the old term “the Working Class”. Instead, they lump what use to be “working class” (also known as “blue-collar workers) with what used to be the lower end of the “middle class” (or “white-collar workers”) into a broad class range, resulting in the large disparity of income levels. There is, admittedly, some legitimacy to this; income levels for many so-called “blue-collar” categories rose during the eighties and nineties, while many old “white collar” incomes of stagnated. What is truly objectionable in this continent-wide bleating about the middle class, however, is the complete abandonment, as a topic for action, or even discussion, in political circles, is poverty.

Newsflash; we haven’t eliminated poverty in this country, though you could be led to think so for its lack of prominence as an issue. Some of the more informed of us are aware of the state of abject poverty affecting many of our first-nation communities, especially in the north, but the truly poor also live a lot closer to home. A case in point: right now, in the province of Ontario, thousands of the most disadvantaged people in our society, the disabled, are trying to eke out a living on a provincial pension that pays them $1169.00 a month (for those without a calculator handy, that amounts to an annual income of $14,028). Out of that money they have to pay their rent/mortgage (including property taxes, if they have them), groceries, utilities (the province gives them some assistance on their electricity bills), phone, cable (a luxury, true), auto gas, and sundry costs. If they are unfortunate enough to have a heat source other than hydro, then the province offers no help for that. If they somehow manage to pay their rent, buy enough food to last the month, and get the bills paid, they then have to pray that no unforeseen emergencies arise (the kind that most of us take for granted; car repairs, broken windows, broken appliances, etc.). Remember, we are not talking about people who are on assistance because they are unable to find a job, though there are enough of those. We’re talking about those who, due to physical or mental disability, are unable to work, who have no other options, the most disadvantaged people in out society. For those of you who think they should be grateful that your taxes allow them to just laze around all day, watching t.v., while you work for a living, I offer a challenge. For just one month this year, try to get by on $1169.00. Seriously. For most of you, I doubt you could even pay your mortgage on that, let alone have enough to eat. Yet that is what the government thinks is a fair wage for the disabled.

If you are thinking that there are other sources of income available, such as CPP Disability, then think again. If you are receiving CPP Disability payments, the provincial government deducts that amount from your provincial disability payments, to ensure that you are not bringing in more than the stipulated $1169.00 (more than that would result in pure hedonism, no doubt). Granted, many people were lucky enough (if you can call it luck) to have had private alternatives, such as insurance or pension plans, in place when they became disabled, and they are not what this is about. This is about the poor souls who, through no fault of their own, found themselves sick or injured without any resources to fall back on. This is about the most marginalized people in our society, many of whom you never see because they can’t (or can’t afford) to leave their homes and participate in broader society. Most importantly, this is about the people who had to quietly sit and watch while their federal government set up a new ministry to take care of people making $100,000 dollars a year. What a proud way for a government to begin its mandate; my disgust has no bounds.

3) Electoral Reform, or A Ministry that got quietly dropped:

OPINION: Put electoral reform back on the table - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan Bobar

Published on Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Congratulations to you, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on the swearing in of your newest cabinet. I know that this was not a simple task, with so many things to consider including gender balance, regional representation, personal skill sets and government priorities.

I have to say, though, something has been bothering me about the new cabinet.

While most of the news stories have focussed on who and what is “in,” this letter is about what has been left out of your biggest cabinet yet — the Ministry of Democratic Institutions.

I had to check and doublecheck that I hadn’t somehow missed something, but it’s true: the Ministry of Democratic Institutions, which has existed in some form since 2003, has been unceremoniously and quietly shuttered.

Without a doubt, that ministry was associated with significant personal trauma for you. It was, after all, ground zero for the 180-degree reversal on your 2015 campaign promise to “make every vote count” and to make that year’s election the last under first-past-the-post

— a broken promise that surely contributed to the Liberal Party’s diminished standing in parliament today.

Maybe this time, you would prefer not to talk about electoral reform at all. Maybe you simply can’t imagine what you could possibly include in the minister’s mandate letter?

And yet, as the poll released by the Angus Reid Institute on Nov. 21, 2019 shows, support for electoral reform has “skyrocketed” across the country since 2016, with more than six in 10 Canadians in every region saying they want proportional representation — that is, a voting system that allocates seats in parliament roughly in proportion to the total number of votes a party receives.

It’s only natural that our nonproportional first-past-the-post voting system has once again come into focus following the most recent election, which resulted in significant distortions including: your party winning only 33 per cent of the vote and forming government; a perverse outcome in which the Conservatives got more votes than the Liberals (34 per cent to the Liberals’ 33 per cent), yet won 36 fewer seats; more than nine million voters who elected no one; and no voters from Alberta nor Saskatchewan represented on the government side of the House.

The most striking finding of the Angus Reid poll is the surge in support for proportional representation among voters on the Prairies and among Conservative voters. In 2016, only 37 per cent and 35 per cent of

Alberta and Saskatchewan voters, respectively, supported proportional representation. Today, those numbers are among the highest in the country at 75 per cent and 78 per cent. Overall, support for proportional representation among Conservative voters has jumped from a low 28 per cent in 2016 to 69 per cent today.

Clearly, this is a major development in public opinion that should not be ignored. Your government should seize the opportunity presented by electoral reform as a way to reduce the national divisions exacerbated by first-past-the-post — something your late father concluded was needed all the way back in 1979.

Our democratic institutions require more care and attention than ever in the face of growing Western alienation, a resurgent Bloc Quebecois, the most distorted election results in many years and a disturbingly high level of mistrust of politicians. Electoral reform should be placed back on the table sooner rather than later. The Ministry of Democratic Institutions is the last that should have been lost in the shuffle.

Please Mr. Prime Minister, for the sake of our democracy and national unity, heed the growing call for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform — a process that would take the electoral reform file outside the realm of partisan politics and politicians and place it in the hands of regular citizens from across the country who can forge real consensus and help renew and modernize our democracy.

Now that would be a great mandate letter for a new minister of democratic institutions.

Charlottetown's Jordan Bober is a member of Fair Vote Canada’s National Council.
"Keep a green tree in your heart and a singing bird may come."
---Chinese proverb

A person with a green tree in his heart who was a singing bird was Carl Phillis, who died yesterday, quite unexpected news to those who knew him only slightly, but were touched by his kindness and artistic soul. Memorial Service Saturday, December 7th, 11AM, MacLean Funeral Home, Swan Chapel, 15 Ole King Square

December 5, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Event tonight:
Bank and Barn Swallows talk, 7PM, Victoria Community Centre.
A good letter worth sharing

LETTER: A safer cycling environment needed - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

by Tim McCullough
Published on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

I am a retired provincial health inspector in Charlottetown living with osteoarthritis. I shop in Stratford weekly and sometimes ride my bicycle to manage my arthritis. Presently, cyclists in Charlottetown and Stratford of all backgrounds feel threatened to cross the Hillsborough Bridge, especially with children and otherwise. There’s no barrier between bicycles and cars and the sidewalk is narrow. Every year, more cars cross at highway speeds, and a gust of wind might send a cyclist off balance into the car lane.

The P.E.I. Department of Health and Wellness promotes physical activity for a good reason.

We have a shortage of MDs (who might really enjoy bike paths) and too much of our provincial revenue goes to treatment of sedentary lifestyle diseases.

How do we promote healthy lifestyle activities for our population?

The P.E.I. Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy is mandated to construct and maintain safe transportation routes in the province.

Bicycle/car fatalities occur here in P.E.I. A safer cycling environment is needed if we want to encourage cycling as a community activity. A multipurpose pathway for this bridge was announced in 2017 but was not built during the recent bridge renovation as expected. The pathway is now rescheduled to occur after the next election?

Two recent petitions on this pathway have been brought to the P.E.I. legislature, including one by the late Josh Underhay to the previous Liberal government, and another about a week ago by Bike Friendly (over 3,000 signatures). The City of Charlottetown has an active transportation committee and some bicycle routes already exist in the general vicinity of the bridge. Stratford has existing and planned pathways near the bridge.

Many area residents would appreciate it if the City of Charlottetown, Town of Stratford and P.E.I. Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy form a joint committee to expedite construction of a safe and easy bicycle route.

The benefits include increased community engagement, fewer bicycle injuries and mortalities, low demands on our health system, a more relaxing commute for both car drivers and cyclists and probably less traffic congestion on the roadway.

The road construction industry could benefit from this work and it would generate substantial employment for those involved. Sounds good to me.

Tim McCullough,

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you."
---African Proverb

December 4, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Government House -- Open House to see Holiday Decorations, 1-3PM, by Victoria Park. Music, refreshments, etc. in a very limitedd time-frame.

Wednesdays: Charlottetown Farmers' Market, Belvedere Ave, will now be open for take-out lunch from a few select vendors on Wednesdays going forward.
Brett at Caledonia House has coffee/coffee drinks to go from 6AM-2PM on Mondays-Fridays (in addition to Saturdays). It's nice to see increased use of the place. Story on the Market's leasing agreement, below.

Thursday, December 5th:
Presentation: Bank and Barn Swallows on P.E.I., 7PM, Victoria Community Centre, Victoria Avenue, Victoria-by-the-Sea. Free. Hosted by (the energetic and welcoming) South Shore Watershed Association. These dear birds are listed as endangered species, and the talk will address a"what Islanders can do to help enhance their survival." Retired provincial biologist Rosemary Curley (who is everywhere right now!!) and Vicki Johnson, from Island Nature Trust, are presenting. All welcome.

Friday, December 6th:
Memorial Service to mark Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, 12noon-1PM, Memorial Hall, Confederation Centre of the Arts.

from The Guardian, December 3rd, 2019:
Candles will be lit in remembrance of 14 women murdered in the Montreal Massacre of 1989 and each of the 10 Island women murdered since that year. The thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada will be honoured with the unveiling of a newly-commissioned art piece by Patricia Bourque.

Elder Julie Pellissier Lush will offer Mi’kmaw prayers to open the service. Dawn Wilson will speak about “Supporting Survivors on P.E.I.: A Remembrance.” Vocalists Kate Dempsey, Allison Kelly and Marlee Saulnier will perform a song selection, and Todd MacLean will provide piano accompaniment during the program. The Union of Public Sector Employees will display their “silent witness” silhouettes representing Island women who have been murdered by men who knew them.

Dec. 6 marks 30 years since the Montreal Massacre at l’École polytechnique. Polytechnique has reached out this year to partner with engineering schools across the country to commemorate this event by beaming a giant light into the sky.

The Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering at UPEI will commemorate the event with a lighting at 5 p.m. in its building at the learning staircase. “Join faculty members, students and others as we mark this event and reflect on diversity within engineering and the work that has been done and continues to be needed,’’ the faculty said in a statement.

If you are wondering what's going on with proposed improvements at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market:

Farmers market awaits talks between feds, Mi'kmaq over Crown land - CBC News online article by Sally Pitt

Published on Monday, December 2nd, 2019

The future of the Charlottetown Farmers' Market is somewhat unclear, because of discussions over who should own the Crown land it has been leasing. The market co-operative has leased a corner of the former Experimental Farm land on Belvedere Avenue — one hectare, or 2.3 acres — from Agriculture Canada for 34 years, but its lease ran out.

The market applied last year to renew its lease for five years, which triggered a process under which governments must consult Indigenous people on Crown land transactions. Now the co-op, which owns the building, is waiting for Agriculture Canada and P.E.I.'s Mi'kmaq people to meet, discuss and decide the future of the land.

The co-op wants to carry out renovations and improvements including new bathrooms, a new eating area and deck, and covering for more vendors in the parking lot. Any funders including governments and banks want to see a long-term lease in place before they will commit funds, said market manager Bernie Plourde — so major improvements are on hold until the lease issue can be worked out. "Our lease is on a month-to-month at the present time so it's difficult to access monies," he said. "We feel hopeful. We've been here 35 years," said Ploude, adding that the parties the co-op has met with agree the market should remain there.

Duty to consult Indigenous people

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada would not do an interview with CBC News, but media relations spokesperson James Watson responded via email to questions.

"AAFC is aware that the Farmers' Market is interested in renewing its lease," Watson wrote. "We are currently exploring options in alignment with the Government of Canada's policy framework. As part of this process, AAFC will be consulting with Indigenous communities." Watson said the process government must follow concerning any activities on federal lands that may be of interest to Indigenous communities "is systematic and thorough. For this reason, it takes some time to complete."

He said the consultation will include all Indigenous communities in the region, although he would not say which groups the department plans to meet with or when. He also would not say whether the consultations would include the entire farm property or just the hectare the market is on, "to respect the confidential nature of ongoing discussions." Watson added that "the local Indigenous community is aware of the ongoing negotiations."

'No issue with the farmers market'

P.E.I.'s Mi'kmaq people have said for years they are interested in owning the entire approximately 35-hectare farm property. A decade ago, the Mi'kmaq Confederacy even submitted a proposal for the property that included green space, a convention centre and apartments for seniors. Agriculture Canada decided instead to keep the land, where Watson said it now conducts important research.

Jenene Wooldridge heads L'nuey, a newly-formed sister organization to P.E.I.'s Mi'kmaq Confederacy that deals with rights-based issues on P.E.I. such as land. She said neither her organization nor the confederacy has heard from the federal government about the property. "The Mi'kmaq have had a long history with regard to Mi'kmaq interest in this land." said Wooldridge. "The P.E.I. Mi'kmaq have reached out a number of times to Agriculture Canada requesting a good-faith negotiation process and have not yet received a response."

"There's no issue with the farmers market and their good work," she added. She said L'nuey is interested in having the entire farm for the Mi'kmaq people, but would be happy to enter into a lease with the farmers market.

"The P.E.I. Mi'kmaq recognize the benefit of the farmers market and if the Mi'kmaq were in control of the land, they would support a long-term lease with the farmer's market," said Wooldridge, reading from a statement from Lennox Island Chief Darlene Bernard.

'Another 35 years'

For now, the farmers market will remain where it is, Plourde said. He said the co-op is hoping the lease can be secured within the next year. "We hope that we'll be here for another 35 years," he said.

Plourde said the co-op had shopped around in the last few years for a larger space to accommodate the market's long waiting list of vendors, but it was not able to find anything in its price range.

"Though we tremble before uncertain futures
May we meet illness, death, and adversity with strength
May we dance in the face of our fears."
---Gloria W. Anzaldua (1942-2004), author and activist "Author and activist" are much too general to describe Anzaldua, and this website from the University of Texas, and any search engine results, would provide much more depth.

December 3, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


NaturePEI hosting book launch of Mammals of Prince Edward Island, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Charlottetown.It is my understanding that copies will be for sale, too, and preorders can be picked up.

Town of Cornwall Tree Lighting, 6:30PM, Town Hall, followed by opening of Youth Art Show at the Cornwall Public Library.

Thursday, December 5th:
Federal Speech from the Throne. (I am not sure of actual time but will find out.
CTV article excerpts, here:

"OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will convene the new Parliament on Thursday, December 5, comprised of all the members Canadians elected on Oct. 21.The Liberal minority-led 43rd Parliament will begin with MPs electing a new House of Commons Speaker, and then Governor General Julie Payette will preside over Trudeau’s throne speech in the Senate.

Because of the renovations underway inside Centre Block, the House of Commons and Senate are now located in different buildings, which will add an extra layer of logistical considerations to the ceremony, which traditionally has the MPs walk down the hall from one chamber to the other, but now that procession will have to travel down Wellington Street from West Block to the Senate of Canada Building.MPs will then spend up to six days debating the throne speech. The House of Commons calendar has members of Parliament sitting until Dec. 13, before adjourning for several weeks over the holidays, but the Senate could sit until Dec. 20.
All this week, the PM is in meetings with the opposition party leaders to see where common ground may be found. Last week Trudeau indicated that these meetings would inform when to call the House of Commons back, but he announced this before the first meeting today with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer got underway. <snip>
Dec. 5 will be the first time all MPs elected on Oct. 21 will be in Ottawa. The Liberals won 157 seats, the Conservatives won 121, the Bloc Quebecois won 32, the NDP won 24, the Greens won three and Independent Jody Wilson-Raybould was re-elected. "

Here an article by the Council of Canadian's Dylan Penner, who was the guest speaker beamed in to give a talk to interested individuals about the Green New Deal, back when it was a very new concept:

Throne Speech to prioritize climate jobs - by Dylan Penner, Climate and Social Justice Campaigner, The Council of Canadians

Published on Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Will this week’s Speech from the Throne be a meaningful step forward for climate justice and a just transition? Or will it be another missed opportunity to take action on the scale required to put out the fires of the climate emergency.

Either way, it will be a significant moment that elaborates on the government’s climate priorities for the first time since the recent federal election.

In a statement released today, the Green Economy Network (GEN) is calling on the federal government to take this opportunity “to make a clear commitment to invest in climate action and climate jobs”.

GEN is demanding that the government “make climate job creation a priority through investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and green buildings, public transit and higher speed rail transit."

GEN members are pointing out that the government needs "to invest in the climate jobs Canada needs to transition to the green economy of tomorrow." The statement also underscores that "This government has a clear mandate to make these long overdue investments... Study after study has shown that Canada can create over a million climate jobs and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provided that governments lead the way with targeted investment strategies."

The Council of Canadians is a long-time member of GEN, along with many labour, environmental and social justice groups

There is a small but vibrant Green Economy Network PEI group, with Mary Boyd at the helm.
There are all kinds of Advent Calendars out there, and here is a treat from The Atlantic magazine, a photo from the Hubble Telescope ever day betqeen now and Christmas. You can catch up here:
And for your information, Monoceros is a unicorn constellation, a bit dim, but you see it all this time as it is just to the left of Orion the Hunter and above Sirius the Dog Star.

And here is a graphic about a calendar of kindness daily prescriptions -- I offer it not a rigid prescription, but as a mix-and-match list of ideas to consider as opportunity allows:

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
--- Mark Twain

December 2, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

This has been like waiting for Santa for those wishing for a comprehensive book on P.E.I. mammals. :-)

Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 3rd:
Book launch: Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters,7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, 2Kent Street, Charlottetown. All welcome.

from the Island Studies December News:

Island Studies Press will launch the new book, Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters, on Tuesday, December 3, at 7:30 pm at the Beaconsfield Carriage House in Charlottetown. This long-overdue book provides a comprehensive guide to the Island’s terrestrial and marine mammals. Rooted in historical accounts and local research, it illuminates the lives of PEI mammals large and small. From the little brown bat to Sowerby’s beaked whale, this book highlights each species in illustrated detail and outlines the continued need for conservation efforts in this province.

Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters is the first in-depth guide to PEI mammals. Written by leading experts in the field, this collection gathers local history and scientific knowledge into one volume. It includes French and Mi’kmaq species’ names, colour illustrations, range maps, and tracks. Categories such as History on PEI provide the reader with answers to questions such as “How did skunks arrive on PEI?” and “When did black bears and walruses disappear from the Island?”

The book is co-authored by Rosemary Curley, retired wildlife biologist and Nature PEI president; Dr. Pierre-Yves Daoust, professor emeritus at the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island; Dr. Donald F. McAlpine, head of the Department of Natural History, New Brunswick Museum; Kimberly Riehl, a resource management officer with Parks Canada; and J. Dan McAskill, a retired forest manager and wildlife biologist.

Curley first started working on the book in 2015, gathering local research, bringing other authors on board, and raising funds for the project. This community-supported book would not be possible without the following sponsors: Nature PEI, the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation, the PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund, PEI Forests, Fish, and Wildlife, and Purity Dairy.

Please join Island Studies Press and Rosemary Curley et al. in celebrating this new book. For more information about the book or the launch, please contact Bren at or call (902) 566-0386.

cover, photo by Donna Martin, of the Mammals of Prince Edward Island book

Books will be available there, but also at the Bookmark and other locations .
As you scroll through "Cyber Monday" e-mails...thanks to the person who sent this article my way.

Pointless emails: they’re not just irritating – they have a massive carbon footprint - The Guardian (UK) website article by Stephen Moss

More than 64m unnecessary emails are sent in Britain every day. Along with clogging up our inboxes they are also damaging the environment

Published on Tuesday, November 26th, 2019, on The Guardian's (U.K.) website

Stop! Don’t send that email. Don’t offer thanks or send a jokey message. If you do, you will add to your carbon footprint. Be rude, say nothing – and save the planet.

A new study commissioned by energy company OVO reckons Brits send more than 64m unnecessary emails every day, and that if every adult in the UK sent one fewer “thank you” email a day we would save more than 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – equivalent to 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road.

These are the sorts of stats beloved of green energy companies trying to get a bit of free publicity. But it’s all true, according to Mike Berners-Lee, a professor in the environment centre at Lancaster University, author of How Bad are Bananas: The Carbon Footprint of Everything, and brother of Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web. True in very general terms anyway: he probably won’t vouch for all those flights.

How can one little email destroy the planet, I ask Mike Berners-Lee, who advised OVO on the research. “When you are typing, your computer is using electricity,” he says. “When you press send it goes through the network, and it takes electricity to run the network. And it’s going to end up being stored on the cloud somewhere, and those data centres use a lot of electricity. We don’t think about it because we can’t see the smoke coming out of our computers, but the carbon footprint of IT is huge and growing.”

The electricity I grasp; the cloud is a bit beyond me. “It’s made up of enormous data centres all over the world,” Berners-Lee explains. “They are burning through huge amounts of electricity.” Super-efficient communication and storage is killing us. Every silver lining has a cloud.

Berners-Lee admits the numbers are “crude estimates”, but says they are a useful way of making a general point. “When we take a small action to cut carbon,” he says, “it’s a message to yourself that you care about the climate emergency.”

Does he blame his brother for all this? He laughs. “Many good things have come out of the web,” ... but only if we use it selectively.

Now, how on earth do I file this piece?


"Shed no tear -- O shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year."
---John Keats (1795-1821), English poet

December 1, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Some Events today:

The Charlottetown Christmas Festival continues today, Confederation Mall, until 5PM

Christmas Parade, 5PM

Cornwall Community Choir with the Celtic Pulse Dancers, 2PM, West River United Church, Cornwall. Angela Walker from CBC Radio is the emcee.

Artisan Christmas Market, first of three (today and the next two Sundays), Charlottetown Farmers' Market, 10AM-3PM.

A Fascinating Ladies Christmas Show, 2PM and 7:30PM, Victoria Playhouse. The 7:30PM one is moved from last night to tonight.
Though the voting system First-Past-the-Post-Plus-Leaders is not much real electoral reform, it would likely give a seat to the Island New Democrat leader Joe Byrne, who would provide his clear, kind, intelligent voice and social justice party perspective. Here are two of his latest communications:

Byrne Calls for Action on Missing E-Gaming Records - NDPPEI release by Joe Byrne

Published on Thursday, November 28th, 2019


Charlottetown November 28.. The Leader of the PEI New Democratic Party wants to know what the King Government is doing about the two years of Brad Mix’s e-gaming records that mysteriously went missing.

Brad Mix is the Senior Director of Business Attraction with Innovation PEI and has held that position for over 20 years. He was involved in the e-gaming file in 2010-12, and was also a named defendant in the CMT lawsuit recently dismissed by PEI Supreme Court Justice Gordon Campbell. CMT is appealing that decision.

Byrne says the government knew those government records were missing since early 2015, but kept that information secret. That fact was only discovered recently, as a result of an Access to Information Review with the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Karen Rose.

The NDP Leader also noted that it’s the same PC MLAs who were demanding that the previous Liberal Government impose much tougher penalties for government records destruction just a few months ago who are now Cabinet Ministers apparently saying and doing nothing about a much worse case of document destruction under this Government’s watch: “For a government employee to have the same two-year period of e-gaming records go missing in two separate email archives, and remain Senior Director at Innovation PEI drawing a salary from the public purse, without any consequences, or a single word from the government, well that’s just not acceptable.”

“The PCs weren’t happy that the fine was only $10,000. They wanted $50,000 and for the person to lose their job.” said Byrne. “What’s changed?”

The NDP leader noted that when Robert Ghiz had his Chief of Staff’s records deleted he signed a form and had Information Technology staff delete them. They thought that he had backed up those electronic records, but he hadn’t. “Although there is still some highly questionable issues relative to the deletion of records at that time,” Byrne pointed out: “Brad Mix’s case is totally different. He was at all times still at his job when the records went missing.”

“I understand the Premier might prefer to ignore the past e-gaming mess, but this isn’t about what previous governments did, this is about what this government is supposed to be doing and is not doing,” added Byrne. “ The PC Party promised Islanders it would be fully transparent and tackle cover-ups and corruption head-on. What we’ve gotten so far is more of the same. A public statement on what the Government plans to do about those two years of missing records would be a good place to start to honour that promise.”

Byrne noted that there are currently four separate outstanding Supreme Court Enforcement Orders for “failure to produce documents” against the Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture. “This refusal by the King government to release documents under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act is unprecedented. I’ve been told that has never happened in PEI before” said Byrne.

“Collaboration among all political Parties and moving ahead together on positive initiatives is wonderful, and I’m all about getting aboard that train. But we can’t turn a blind eye to what must change within Government, and that unfortunately appears to be what the King Government is doing. Unpleasant issues also have to be addressed, even if addressing them is uncomfortable.”

Byrne is also questioning why the Official Opposition members have not asked any questions on this or other related e-gaming matters: “Myers and Fox asked the previous government day after day how much Island taxpayers have spent on the e-gaming lawsuit, and never got an answer.

“I don’t get it. We have a PC Government promising to answer every question honestly and forthrightly….and no one in the Opposition bothers to ask a single question about those missing records! There’s a big difference between collaboration and collusion.” said Byrne.

“There’s lots the King Government should tell Islanders about e-gaming, now that they can look into all the Liberal files, but it’s unacceptable to stay silent on Brad Mix’s missing government records and just pretend it never happened.”

“It’s now more than four months since the Guardian reported Brad Mix’s missing government records, noting at the time that Government had no explanation for the missing files. There’s been silence since” said Byrne. “That’s not good enough. If the King government doesn’t know how those important documents went missing, it’s time to give the RCMP a call.”



NDP Supports Petition and Consultation on ATVs on Public Roads - NDPPEI release by Joe Byrne

Published on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019


Charlottetown November 27. Island New Democrats leader Joe Byrne is asking MLAs from all parties to listen to petitioners on the proposal to open up public roads to ATV use and begin a process of consulting residents.

“Many Islanders have different way to enjoy the outdoors and ATV riders are one group with a legitimate request”, says Byrne. “However rural residents and other Trail and road users, including walkers, runners and cyclists need to have their opinions heard before such dramatic alteration to use of this public space. We are creating unnecessary danger when we permit that class of vehicle to access the same space as people out walking, running or cycling.”

Residents who have chosen to live in rural PEI often make that decision because of their ability to enjoy their property. “This is being referred to as a pilot project and it it is not clear what criteria will be used to measure the outcomes. We have to be able to assess indicators like noise pollution, increased emissions, road use and maintenance as well as the effect on residents’ ability to enjoy their property,” says Byrne.

Island New Democrats support the petition presented in the Assembly on November 26 asking the Minister to maintain the status quo. Over 500 Islanders signed the petition supporting the residents of Evangeline and Miscouche in their request to stop the experiment.

“Pilot projects can be useful and need not be developed arbitrarily by the Minister. This project could have been less conflictive if residents in the area had been asked for their opinions prior to the announcement ,” concludes Byrne.


"It is not that volunteers have more time, it's that they have more heart."
---- Khalid Elshami, from the Newcomers' Association, one of four people honoured yesterday at the Voluntary Resource Council's breakfast