CA News

Contents

  1. 1 February 24, 2018
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 1.2 Profit above, wealth below - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Sally Bernard
  2. 2 February 23, 2018
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 2.2 OPINION: Raising ethical questions - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  3. 3 February 22, 2018
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 3.2 OPINION: Too many wins to say no - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Florence Larkin
  4. 4 February 21, 2018
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 4.2 Three Premiers and a Business Tycoon - Personal blog by Kevin J. Arsenault
  5. 5 February 20, 2018
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  6. 6 February 19, 2018
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 6.2 OPINION: Gender equity in trade - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Rosalind Waters
  7. 7 February 18, 2018
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  8. 8 February 17, 2018
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  9. 9 February 16, 2018
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 9.2 ‘Ill-treated by premier’ - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Dale Turner
  10. 10 February 15, 2018
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 10.2 Island MLAs lead the Me First charge- The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
  11. 11 February 14, 2018
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 11.2 Billions at stake as banks, energy regulator head to Supreme Court - CBC News article by Kyle Bakz
  12. 12 February 13, 2018
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 12.2 2018 is the year of environmental decisions - David Suzuki Foundation article by CEO Stephen Cornish
    3. 12.3 Charlottetown mayor casts deciding vote on cosmetic pesticide issue  The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
  13. 13 February 12, 2018
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 13.2 Soiled Reputations - Island Farmer article by Sally Bernard
  14. 14 February 11, 2018
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 14.2 OPINION: In danger of being buried in shuffle - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan Bober
  15. 15 February 10, 2018
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 15.2 LETTER: P.E.I. Green Party adopts new policy - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  16. 16 February 9, 2018
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  17. 17 February 8, 2018
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  18. 18 February 7, 2018
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  19. 19 February 6, 2018
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  20. 20 February 5, 2018
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  21. 21 February 4, 2018
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 21.2 EXCLUSIVE: Documents reveal the millions P.E.I. government spends on spin - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
  22. 22 February 3, 2018
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  23. 23 February 2, 2018
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 23.2 LETTER: P.E.I. soils need organic matter - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 23.3 If You Could Go Back
  24. 24 February 1, 2018
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News

February 24, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today,
Farmers' Markets open in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM)  and Summerside (9AM-1PM). 
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Later, you can go hang out with folks from three of the four active political parties on the Island, if you schedule it right; a bit of a twist on a "pub crawl" with more political conversation and caffeine in Charlottetown, and then branching out:

Green Social at Receiver Coffee, 2-4PM, Victoria Row.
"Are you curious about what politics done differently would look like? Do you have questions or are you interested in getting involved? Come have a drink, grab a bite, and socialize in an informal setting."  from:
Facebook event details

Meet and Greet with NDP PEI Leadership Candidates, 3-5PM, Timothy's World Coffee (Charlottetown). 
"Come out to meet the NDP PEI leadership candidates, Margaret Andrade and Joe Byrne, this Saturday at Timothy's! Join us for conversation, music and more!
Margaret Andrade has been involved in politics at the federal, provincial and municipal level for over 30 years. She is a social activist with an inspiring ability to communicate.
Joe Byrne has been active with the New Democrats for over 20 years and has been involved in the community on a range of issues from economic justice, peace and non-violence, international solidarity, community development and support to immigrants." from: 
Facebook event details

PC Appreciation Night, 5-11PM (several events in a row, with 7PM begin the start of the District 18 Founding Meeting), The Eagle Nest, 7208 Rustico Road, Rustico. Hosted by MLA Brad Trivers.  
"Stop in for some food and drink as a big THANK YOU to all PC supporters. Also the District 18 PC Association "Founding Meeting" for the new boundaries will take place at 7:00pm."
from: https://www.facebook.com/events/1322174687886059/
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February 28-March 3rd:
Pay What You Can Theatre Festival, The Guild
, various times. 
"The Guild presents the Second Annual PWYC Theatre Festival.  Five comedies jam-packed into one show. Two interactive play readings. A fortnight of affordable entertainment."
Don't let the excessive acronyms put you off; lots of great entertainers including Catherine O'Brien, Graham Putnam, and Adam Brazer.  More at:http://www.pptf.ca/


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Next Saturday, March 3rd:
Panel Discussion: PEI Lands Protection Act: the Spirit and the Letter, 12:30-4PM, Milton Community Hall, free but Eventbrite registration needed.

"This symposium aims to clarify the need for legislation to faithfully reflect the intent and purpose (the spirit) of an act in the form of enforceable laws (the letter). Recent spirit/letter work in the formation of the newly passed PEI Water Act will provide lessons to understand better what is happening to the PEI Lands Protection Act (LPA). The interactive event will begin with a panel discussing the spirit and the letter of the Lands Protection Act, the history of PEI voices for the protection of land; how and why the Act is often misinterpreted; and the loopholes in the Act. Panellists are: Gary Schneider with Reg Phelan, Douglas Campbell, and Edith Ling. Event participants in discussion groups will share what they recognize as positive action to enhance the LPA role as protector of the land and what action Islanders can take to require government to strengthen the Act. (Marie Ann Bowden, who was originally to have participated in the panel, is no longer able to, due to unforeseen circumstances.)"   Tony Reddin and Teresa Doyle will each.
from: Facebook event details

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A nice essay by Sally Bernard of Freetown:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-profit-above-wealth-below-188423/

Profit above, wealth below - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Sally Bernard

Caring for both soil and water in order to reap the benefits or harvests

Published on Friday, February 23rd, 2018

As I sat in the overflow room listening to the representatives of Northern Pulp defend themselves against the many questions of the MLAs from the Agriculture and Fisheries Standing Committee on Feb. 16, I watched the faces of the fishers sitting around me and felt their helpless frustration at the plans to pipe effluent from the mill out into the Northumberland Strait.

Sometimes agriculture and fisheries find themselves at odds and it seems as if they shouldn’t even share a portfolio in the government. Yet as I sat in the meeting, the connection between agriculture and fisheries was never clearer.

When the Northern Pulp representative was asked by Peter Bevan-Baker about the possibility of changing the pulping process from bleach kraft to other options, he responded that “any other use of the fiber would be a waste of natural resources.” Evidently, by natural resources, he meant one natural resource in particular - the lumber used to produce the pulp. It is astounding that he completely failed to recognize the water of the Northumberland Strait as a resource in itself or the value that ecosystem provides, let alone the products harvested from it. Although perhaps not at all astounding when the Strait holds little value to Northern Pulp, other than a dumping ground.

This discussion was what prompted my thinking on the similarities to agriculture and soil. Too often in agriculture we think only of what we can measure, see and sell; the products of the soil. And too often we base the value of our farms on that alone. So too, in fishing we think of what we can harvest from the waters so we can sell the products to fund growing businesses and pay bills. But in ecological agriculture the phrase ‘profit above, wealth below’ is a reference to that caring for the soil in order to reap the benefits of that care. The very same with our waters. If we fail to care for the water itself, there will be nothing to harvest from it.

The ‘profit above’ is a result of the work of those who steward the soil or water, but the ‘wealth below’ belongs to all of us and it is not solely the responsibility or reward for those who work with it. It’s past time to place real value in the quality of our soil and water and begin to see that manifested in the policies surrounding it. Above all, we have to stop making excuses and allowances for corporations who fail to recognize the value and not the ‘cost’ of a true natural resource like our surrounding waters.

Sally Bernard of Freetown is shadow critic for agriculture and fisheries for the Green Party of P.E.I.

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"Agriculture is not crop production as popular belief holds -- it's the production of food and fiber from the world's land and waters.  Without agriculture it is not possible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army.  Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy."
    -- Allan Savory, Zimbabwean livestock farmer and "holistic management ecologist"

February 23, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Deadline today: Public comments on the FOIPP revision (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy) comment period deadline (link below).  There has been lots of buzz about public meetings for open adoption and for the 2023 Winter Games (both worthy), but no public meetings were scheduled for this FOIPP review -- not very open and transparent for a supposed "open and transparent" government.  A one-way valve for input and no idea who else has written what and what government will do. Irony.

Government website on this:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/service/submit-input-modernize-freedom-information-and-protection-privacy-act   
Public comments go to:
bwbarbour@gov.pe.ca  Blair Barbour

My first question today to Mr. Barbour is does a Friday deadline really mean the public has the weekend to submit comments (it usually does)?  I'll try to post that answer on the Citizens' Alliance Facebook page today.

Someone kindly sent some suggestions (and background) if people wish to write anything today including these points:

-Include post secondary institutions and municipalities and police listed under "public body" definition in section 1 of the Act to ensure that Islanders have the same rights as all other residents of Canadian Provinces to access information in the custody or control of these institutions.  Inclusion of municipalities and post secondary institutions was always envisioned to be included under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and has been recommended by the Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Province of Prince Edward Island.

-These are public bodies and need to be publicly accountable and as it stands now there are few accountability measures in place when the requested information is refused and there is no way to appeal to an independent body

-The current UPEI policy does not extend for any previous time period before the adoption of the current policy in 2016

-Municipalities will be subject to new rules with recent changes proposed in the Municipal Government Act but these new bylaws will not be as great as under the FOIPP Act and there is no independent oversight

-Private corporations and organizations delivering public services or paid by a public body to conduct operations of a public nature, should be subject to Schedule 1 and be subject to Freedom of information requirements

-When the time frame for requests for information are not followed, there should be penalties so that the right to information is upheld

Government website:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/service/submit-input-modernize-freedom-information-and-protection-privacy-act

And, again, any Public comments go to:
bwbarbour@gov.pe.ca  Blair Barbour
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This afternoon:
Mainstreet SpinTime Host, 5:40-6PM,
CBC Radio, is Karen Graves, violinist (Atlantic String Machine, etc.) and teacher and off-grd Bonshaw resident :-)
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Regarding the government announcement to pay public money for a private ambulance company to provide home health care.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-raising-ethical-questions-188079/

OPINION: Raising ethical questions - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Privatization of home care through paramedics not the answer for the Island

We question the recent move by the P.E.I. government to pay public money to a private company, Medavie/Island EMS. This is a private company that employs paramedics. The government recently announced three new initiatives which will see Health P.E.I. partnering with Island EMS. Approximately $450,000 of the $750,000 in new federal homecare money will go outside the public system.

This is anything but innovative. We ask, why is our own provincial government not investing this $750,000 back into our publicly-funded healthcare system through existing homecare services, and we question how the federal government could approve this program?

The move to allow privately employed paramedics a larger role in homecare service delivery raises ethical questions about the quality and continuity of services. It has the potential for fragmentation of care and duplication of services, not to mention what it is actually going to cost the tax payer?

One of the new initiatives announced is “Rapid Bridging-Hospital and Emergency Department Patients.” Will the patient be charged for the ambulance transfer back to home? Who is paying for this transport? We do not agree with Minister Robert Mitchell’s view that this move will enhance the current homecare system. The minister of health could have enhanced what is already working well, rather than bringing in a third party through privatization.

Using paramedics to provide homecare services between ambulance calls does not work because it places paramedics in a conflict situation. If paramedics are engaged in a task, they are not to be informed about other calls until they are finished. For safety reasons paramedics helping in a home cannot be told about an accident out on the highway or other emergency no matter how grave, until the task at hand is finished, as each task requires their full attention.

While we are very grateful for the work paramedics perform and are trained and skilled to do within their scope, public homecare services are no place for private sector employees working for a profit based company.

What we need and what we asked for is a New Health Accord with a 5.2 percent escalator in transfers to the provinces. Instead, we are now facing cutbacks of $4-5 million in federal health transfers in year one, which will escalate to $156 million in 10 years’ time. We still require more beds in public long-term care facilities, increased resources within our publicly funded homecare programs, and a national pharmacare program, to mention a few health care necessities. Failing to provide these improvements waters down the quality of health services being delivered to Islanders and all Canadians.

It is unacceptable that our own provincial government is turning to privatization to resolve funding challenges. Privatization endangers our public system of healthcare, violates the Canada Health Act, introduces inferior services and increases the overall cost of health care delivery.  Roy Romanow, former Saskatchewan premier and author of the Romanow Report, reminded us that Medicare belongs to the people. It should not, therefore, be a profit maker for private companies. Privatization is not the answer.

--Mary Boyd and Mona O’Shea, are members of the P.E.I. Health Coalition

Minister of Health and Wellness is now Robert Mitchell:
<rjmitchell@gov.pe.ca>


The Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, chaired by Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry, could also be contacted to look into this concern; there are no meetings currently scheduled.
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/committees/getCommittees.php?cnumber=20
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Another Plastic Free life suggestion is not using Brita-type filters. Which brings up about bottle water, back to the first step in reducing plastic.
https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
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"Do small things with great love."
        -- Mother Teresa, 1910-1997

February 22, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A couple of things happening today:

Thursday, February 22nd:
Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy, 1:30PM
, Legislative Chamber.
The committee is going to figure out its new chairperson (since the Liberal caucus departure of Bush Dumville).  More on the Committee, here.
This will also be broadcast on line at http://www.assembly.pe.ca/index.php3

"Meet Your Farmers!" event, 7-9PM, Upstreet Craft Brewing, 41 Allen Street. The farmers of Maple Bloom Farm are holding an open event to celebrate International CSA Day (Community Supported Agriculture), with trivia and prizes.
Facebook event details

If you are interested in looking at some CSA options on the Island, here is Pauline Howard's meticulously updated List of CSAs page on the PEI Food Exchange website:
http://www.foodexchangepei.com/list-of-csas-on-pei.html

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From yesterday's Guardian:  Florence Larkin has been diligently working for proportional representation, and attended the Charlottetown Electoral Boundaries Committee meeting last week and made the case for indicating on the map of 18 Districts, that there are ALSO nine provincial seats, if the Commission wanted to keep calling it a "sample MMP" (mixed member proportional representation) map.  (I think the most recently released sample maps now have NO mention of nine seats and no mention of MMP on them....)

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-too-many-wins-to-say-no-187769/

OPINION: Too many wins to say no - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Florence Larkin

Isn’t it time for P.E.I. to lead the way and be the first to implement MMP?

Published on Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

The political panel debate on CBC and Mr. Turner’s letter to the editor have inspired me to write this guest opinion in support of MMP. If the last election had been run under MMP, Mr. Turner would not have had to make a choice between his longtime friend and political party. He could have supported both.

He could have voted for Mr. Dumville in his district and with his second vote, he could have voted for the party of his choice. A win-win situation.

One of the CBC political panelists commented that the NDP and the Greens were being strategic in supporting MMP just to get elected, making it sound like it was completely self-serving on their parts and therefore bad for P.E.I. I’m curious - aren’t the Liberals and the Conservatives being strategic in getting their nominees elected? Don’t they have a strategy to win (sometimes at all costs)?

Let me take the high road and suggest that perhaps the NDP and the Greens support MMP to ensure that the people who vote for them will have a voice in the Legislative Assembly. And isn’t that what democracy (a word bandied around a lot by the Liberals and the Conservatives) is all about - making sure that everyone has a say in the way they are governed? Under our current political system First-Past-the-Post (FPTP,) this seldom happens. Under MMP, this would always happen.

A final word about representation. One of the scare-mongering tactics used by the traditional parties is to say that Islanders would have less representation under MMP. In fact, the opposite is true. Islanders would have more representation. In addition to having one district MLA, they would have nine provincial level MLAs which they could go to for support. Islanders in both rural and urban areas would be able to approach any one of the nine MLAs to have their needs and interests addressed.

As an example, if you are a diehard Progressive Conservative, and a Liberal is elected in your district, you will likely find a PC you could trust and approach in one or more of the nine provincially elected MLAs.

And contrary to popular belief, these members will be voted in by the people of P.E.I. Yes, the lists will be selected by the individual parties, just like the district nominees are now selected by the individual parties. And just as people will have the opportunity to vote for their member of choice in each district, they will also have the opportunity to vote for their individual of choice on the open list of their preferred party. Another win-win situation.

With all these win-wins, isn’t it time for P.E.I. to lead the way and be the first to implement MMP. I think the next election would be a good time to start.

- Florence Larkin is a member of the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation

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Use a stainless steel ice cube tray is the 51st tip for moving toward a Plastic-Free Life, as listed by blogger Beth Terry. At least looking at non-plastic options for making and storing ice.  Those old crank-arm metal ice cube makers are very retro but it also makes you realize how many items have been replaced by plastic in the last decades, and it's not breaking down when it cracks and you need to replace it.

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"All things share the same breath -- the beast, the tree, the man...the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports."
        --Chief Si'ahl, Dkhw'Duw'Absh tribe (1786-1866)
        (Chief Seattle, Duwamish Tribe)

February 21, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Standing Committee on Public Accounts
10:00 AM, Meeting # 2, Internal trade
   Coles Building   -   Assembly Chamber

Topic: CANCELED; TO BE RESCHEDULED AT A LATER DATE.


Tomorrow:
Thursday, February 22nd:
Standing Committee onInfrastructure and Energy, 1:30PM
, Legislative Chamber.
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Some citizen-investigation and commentary, from last week, Island farmer and commentator Kevin J. Arsenault's blog, connecting the dots.

Three Premiers and a Business Tycoon - Personal blog by Kevin J. Arsenault

Published on Thursday, February 15th, 2018, on his blog,

https://kevinjarsenault.com/2018/02/15/three-premiers-and-a-business-tycoon/

        Premier MacLauchlan recently announced two major projects: A fibre-optic backbone; and an expansion of home-care health services. I wonder if Islanders realize MacLauchlan – and two other premiers – have long-standing relationships with the corporate beneficiaries of these mega-million dollar initiatives? Read carefully, the interlocking connections and time-lines are a tad confusing.

        In 2006, the premier of N.B., Bernard Lord, left politics and became the CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). The new premier, Shawn Graham, subsequently gave Xplornet (a CWTA member, and wholly-owned subsidiary of Barrett Corporation) a $13 million contract to improve rural internet service (untendered).

        In 2011, the premier of P.E.I., Robert Ghiz, secretly amended the $8.2 million (untendered) contract he awarded Bell-Aliant (a CWTA member) in 2007 to provide rural Islanders with DSL internet, increasing it to $23 million.

        In November, 2017, Wade MacLauchlan announced a surprise mega-telecommunications project to build approximately 1500 KM of fibre-optic cable across PEI at an estimated cost of $30 million. An RFP has since been issued; however, there have been no public consultations.

        All we know for sure about this project is that a telecommunications company that Robert Ghiz currently lobbies for stands to make a small fortune: after resigning in 2015, Ghiz replaced Bernard Lord as CEO of the CWTA when Lord (already a Medavie board member for eight years) became Medavie’s CEO. Medavie has three divisions with more than 6,000 employees: Medavie Blue Cross; Medavie Health Services; and Medavie Health Foundation. And here’s where it gets really interesting.

        Wade MacLauchlan became a board member of the Medavie Health Foundation in 2009, and was appointed chair in 2013. He was also a director of Medavie for years, until becoming Premier. His first disclosure statement revealed he received director fees from both Medavie Inc. and the Medavie Health Foundation.

            The board seat MacLauchlan vacated at Medavie was subsequently filled by (I know it’s hard to believe) Robert Ghiz. And Ed Barrett (co-owner of Barrett Corporation and Xplornet, which received the $13 million contract from Bernard Lord) has also been a long-time director of Medavie.

        Medavie Health Services N.B. (which already ran N.B.’s ambulance service, like Island-EMS in P.E.I.) was recently granted a 10-year contract (untendered) to deliver the extramural and Tele-Care services (effective January 1, 2018) worth $4.4 million annually. CUPE, the N.B. Nurses Union, and the Vitalité Health Network have all condemned the privatization of the management of these health services.

        Not to be outdone, Premier MacLauchlan has just awarded Island-EMS a contract (untendered) for $450,000 annually to provide home-care health services. But unlike N.B., the health-care workers will also be private, not just management. And to be clear, Island-EMS is wholly-owned by Medavie Health Services, with the very same directors: Erik Sande, President; John Diamond, CFO and Treasurer; and Daniel Marcil, Chief Operating Officer.       

        Mona O’Shea, President of the P.E.I. Nurses’ Union, has condemned MacLauchlan’s decision to award this contract to a “for-profit” private corporation and asks why the money wasn’t just used to hire more nurses. She may be unaware of MacLauchlan’s and Ghiz’s long-standing interest in Medavie.

        Opposition parties, other unions…indeed, all Islanders must demand that the fibre-optic and health-care projects are put on hold until public consultations take place: neither pass the smell test.

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The fiftieth suggestion of 100 for moving toward a Plastic-Free Life is : Avoid non-stick cookware.

Cookware coated with Teflon or other resins give off toxic perfluorochemicals when heated. We’ve donated all of our non-stick cookware and replaced it with stainless steel and cast iron. I did question whether it was better to donate these unhealthy items or to trash them. In the end, I figured that if someone was looking for non-stick, they’d buy it anyway whether I donated or not. -- from Beth Terry at My Plastic Free Life

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"It's not that the world hasn't had more carbon dioxide, it's not the world hasn't been warmer.  The problem is the speed at which things are changing.  We are inducing a sixth mass extinction event kind of by accident and we don't want to be the extinctee, if I may coin this noun."
        --scientist Bill Nye  from an interview on the Big Think website

http://bigthink.com/think-tank/bill-nye-to-climate-change-deniers-you-cant-ignore-facts-forever

February 20, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Oceans SuperCluster as a winner was announced late last week by the federal government.  Some of us had little idea what any of that meant.  The Supercluster was a competition to promote technology by matching investors' money with federal funding.  On a really big scale. Five finalists were chosen, including one from Atlantic Canada, The Oceans SuperCluster.

from the CBC news story:http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/innovation-superclusters-bains-1.4536551

This Atlantic Canada-based finalist aims to maximize the potential and sustainable development of the ocean economy. It would invest in digital technologies for industries such as aquaculture, fisheries, offshore oil and gas and clean energy.

more background, from November 2018, CBC News
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/ocean-supercluster-federal-government-innovation-competition-1.4417216

Four core investors are committing $15 million each as part of the Ocean Supercluster: Emera, Clearwater Seafoods, Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador — which is made up of the five oil companies operating offshore Newfoundland and Labrador — and Cuna del Mar, an open ocean aquaculture promoter.
Other region powerhouses involved are J.D. Irving and Cooke Seafood.
In all, companies participating in the Ocean Supercluster bid have pledged to spend $125 million.  That will be matched dollar for dollar by the federal government if the bid is one of the three to five winning proposals selected by Ottawa.  (CO note:  It was)
Core investors must agree on a proposal before it can be put forward to Ottawa for matching funding.
Backers of the Ocean Supercluster maintain that a lot of the money will go to small- and medium-sized businesses in Atlantic Canada who will be hired to provide solutions.


There were four other "superclusters" chosen across the county.  Not much mention of renewable energy (as "clean energy" can be loosely translated) in any of the superclusters chosen -- it seems while innovative and technology-based, it's focusing on the established, resource extraction, continued-growth economy. 
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Switching gears,
The 49th Step in blogger Beth Terry's Plastic-Free Life is "Learn to preserve foods without plastic."  It's true that freezer bags with variations in sealing or vacuuming are the predominant way people freeze vegetables and meats and berries, but with some thought you could reduce the amount of plastic you use, perhaps substituting waxed paper between layers and reusing containers.  https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
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I had just randomly picked the Rachel Carson quote for today, but now connections can perhaps be made with the top item.


"We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one less traveled by—offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth." 
           --Rachel Carson (1907-1964), in the Introduction to Silent Spring

February 19, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy Islander Day!  Hope it's a nice break for those that can take it.

Here are the upcoming Standing Committee meetings this week:

Wednesday, February 21st:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM,
Coles Building (Legislative Chamber). 
"The committee will meet to receive a briefing on internal trade by Kal Whitnell, Senior Director of Economic Research and Trade Negotiations, and Jeff Collins, Trade and Economic Policy Advisor, of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism."

Brad Trivers is now chair of the committee (the only committee with an Opposition MLA as chairperson, I believe), and wrote a wonderfully organized blog about what this committee is working on. 
from Brad Trivers' blog on the ambitious Public Accounts' Work Plan for the year:
https://bradtrivers.com/2018/02/public-account-work-plan-2018/

DECISIONS

  1. BLUE BOOKS (Actual Expenditures) – The committee will request that the Auditor General meet with the committee to provide a complete review of the most recently published Public Accounts of the Province of Prince Edward Island (i.e. the “blue books”) and respond to questions from the committee. This will be the committee’s top priority.

  2. TRADE BETWEEN PROVINCES – The committee will request that Kal Whitnell of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism provide a briefing on internal trade. This will be the committee’s second priority.

  3. HOUSING – The committee will seek briefings on housing from Hon. Tina Mundy and relevant personnel from the Department of Family and Human Services; and from someone to be determined within the community who could discuss housing from a client-centered focus. This will be the committee’s third priority.

  4. PERFORMANCE PLANNING – The committee will examine performance reporting as a method of planning and achieving outcomes and its potential benefits in fiscal planning, starting with requesting a briefing from Robert Hughes, Chief Administrative Officer of the Town of Stratford, on his experience with implementing a results-based budgeting and performance measurement process over the past several years. This will be the committee’s fourth priority.

  5. OPEN DATA – The committee will seek a briefing on open data in government; at the next meeting committee members will put forward suggestions as to who could provide this briefing. This will be the committee’s fifth priority.

  6. Other items that the committee will maintain on its work plan for future examination are as follows:

    • IIDI CROWN CORPORATION – a briefing on Island Investment Development Inc, including its legislative budgetary accountability frameworks and the information provided as part of the budgetary process, its loan portfolio, and its operations and activities

    • CONTRACTING OF LEGAL SERVICES

    • CLIENT SERVICE AND REQUEST TRACKING in government – who is responsible for it (is carried out centrally or within each department) and how is it tracked and measured

    • RIM UPDATE – an update on records information management (RIM) efforts arising from recommendations of the Auditor General, from staff of the Provincial Archives

    • LOTTERY LICENSING FEES – the method of charging for lottery licensing fees, particularly an explanation of why they are charged as a percentage of earnings vs. a flat fee

    • SOFTWARE LICENSING – software licensing in government and the future plan for licenses as technology develops and changes

  7. STATUS OF AG RECOMMENDATIONS – The committee will also ask the Auditor General to provide an update on the status of any outstanding recommendations from her previous annual reports.

---------------------
Thursday, February 22nd:
Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy, 1:30PM,
Coles Building.  "The committee will meet to elect its Chair, and to consider its work plan."
-------------------------------

We are fortunate to have Islanders keeping a keen eye open on what's going on with international trade discussions, and what benefits residents and what benefits corporations, and how things are framed to sell it to voters.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-gender-equity-in-trade-186693/

OPINION: Gender equity in trade - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Rosalind Waters

Published on Friday, February 16th, 2018

“We are sick of gender equality being used as a cynical ploy to justify neo-liberalism”

Trade Justice P.E.I. recently hosted a well-attended gathering to explore trade agreements and gender equity. As Justin Trudeau has been desperately trying to spin his trade agenda as friendly to “gender equity” we thought we should take a look at what lies behind these claims. 

The conversation fast became technical and serious. We systematically went through 6 core provisions of trade agreements - market access rules, rights given to investors under investor/state dispute measures, regulatory co-operation, prohibition of offsets, prohibition of processing requirements and intellectual property rules.

Behind all of this technical mumbo jumbo lies the neo-liberal trade agenda, granting rights to corporations which are not, as it turns out, particularly friendly to women.

For example: they cause increases in the cost of drugs; create opportunities for the cosmetic industry to restrict regulation designed to protect women from the harmful effects of chemicals in cosmetics; enable corporations to interfere with the creation of women-friendly public services such as home care; protect the investments of Canadian mining companies whose operations in poorly regulated developing countries are causing contamination of water and associated problems such as miscarriages and birth defects; and they involve policies which prohibit our government from insisting that foreign corporations in P.E.I. hire a certain number of Island women.

We then read over the so-called gender chapter in the Canada-Chile trade agreement. This chapter has been referred to in media stories as if it might be meaningful for women. Beyond simply affirming already existing international and domestic agreements affecting women’s rights, we found little of note. It establishes a committee to discuss and facilitate the exchange of information on activities related to how women, primarily women of the business class, are benefitting from trade. It is short and fluffy and certainly provides no binding commitments to women.

Since our discussion, Justin Trudeau has agreed to the TPP-11. Under-reported and not mentioned by Canadian government spokespeople is the fact that Vietnam, at the last minute, wriggled out of commitments to raise its labour standards. This is interesting given a recent report released by the Hanoi-based Research Center for Gender, Family and Environment in Development and IPEN which documents the experiences of women workers at Vietnam’s vast Samsung factories. The report refers to fainting or dizziness, miscarriages, standing for 8-to-12 hours, and alternating day/night shift work.

Where’s the gender equity here Mr. Trudeau? You seem quite happy to turn a blind eye to the miserable working conditions of these women for the sake of yet another agreement based exclusively on investor rights.

In a statement issued in December, in response to the Canadian huff and puff about gender equity and trade at the WTO, 164 women’s groups of the Asia Pacific region announced, “We are sick of gender equality being used as a cynical ploy to justify neo-liberalism.” And “Even if the benefits the WTO bestows on the richest 1per cent of the world’s population were evenly split between men and women, the majority of the world’s women would not benefit.”

Here, here!
   
- Rosalind Waters, Georgetown Royalty is a member of Trade Justice P.E.I.

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

Reducing plastic in your home -- from Plastic-Free Life, step 48.  https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/

48. Choose glass/stainless steel food storage containers, and reuse what you have.

We save nearly all glass jars and bottles for purchasing bulk foods and for storing leftovers in the refrigerator or even the freezer. When we run out of jars, we store leftovers in bowls with saucers on top instead of plastic wrap. Bowls with saucers are great for stacking....<snip>...The key to freezing foods in glass is not to fill the jar too full, since the food will expand inside the container. The other caveat is not to heat the glass too quickly. Let foods thaw at room temperature to avoid glass breakage.

(another tip with freezing in jars is to select jars that have straight sides or "no shoulders", so wide-mouth 500ml jars, regular 250ml jars, 750ml straight sided, etc.)

--------------------------------
"Our job is not to worship history and culture like fetishes, but to feed them into our living, creative stream of personal life for spiritual and intellectual reprocessing."
        --J. Angus MacLean (1914-2000), Islander, former, former premier, and conservationist

February 18, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Recently, there have been public meetings on creating a map to show geographic boundaries in an 18-District legislature (two left February 26th and 28th), some rather inconvenient only-afternoon ones for the provincial budget (right in the middle of shuffling Finance Ministers), and there are public meetings planned to discuss open adoption in an Adoption Act review,

...but the public consultation period for a review of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP) Act has been quietly ticking away without any public meetings at all.

The deadline for public input is this Friday, February 25th, 2018.

There is the usual webpage with that the government has already done, and a pdf discussion document,  and a contract person's coordinated....but basically, the review is just a black-box to submit comments.  We don't see what comments have been made and have no idea what happens to them -- all we are told is that "Following the consultation process, the Government will prepare amendments to table in the Legislative Assembly of PEI."

This is not consultation.  The fact it's about Freedom of Information is actually laughable, but not.

Here is a CBC article from last month when the review, where they actually call the exercise "public consultations", which is just what this government wants to believe is public consultation.
CBC article on this 2018 review of FOIPP:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-freedom-of-information-reform-where-everyone-stands-1.4472220

And from a week later, a CBC article on efforts by Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker to get a report of previous review (2013) made public and Official Opposition Leader James Aylward's comments on it, and the link to the 2013 review.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-freedom-of-information-green-party-peter-bevan-baker-1.4511272

If people wish to contribute to the black box comments for this review, some major improvements that could be made include adding the municipalities and post-secondary institutions (others all across the country are included in theirs, so arguments of cost and logistics have been dealt with), and keeping costs and other barriers to access to a minimum.

FOIPP review "consultation" government webpage

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

Some upcoming Island Progressive Conservative meeting dates, care of the Blue Wave -- PC  February 17th, 2018 newsletter:

All District Founding Meetings have registration at 6:30PM with a call to order at 7PM

Monday, February 19th:
District 20 Founding Meeting & AGM,
Kensington Legion

Tuesday, February 20th:
District 13 Founding Meeting & AGM,
PC Association Office (30 Pond St, Charlottetown)

Wednesday, February 21st:
District 5 Founding Meeting & AGM,
Stratford Town Hall

Saturday, February 24th:
District 18 PC Appreciation Event Hosted by MLA Brad Trivers, 5PM
, The Eagles Nest, North Rustico, followed by  District 18 Founding Meeting & AGM

-------------------------------
Working toward a plastic free life has Step 47 as "Spin Salad without plastic."
The website by author Beth Terry for this step talks (scroll down to No. 47) discusses the usual plastic and break-prone salad spinner and alternatives, and has embedded the video of an episode of The French Chef with Julia Child making Salad Nicoise, with the salad spinning stuff about 11 minutes in the program.  A little treat for a winter's day. 

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

"Democracy Dies in Darkness"
        --masthead subtitle of
The Washington Post newspaper, since February 2017

February 17, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Another cold Saturday but the Farmers' Markets will be open in Charlottetown and Summerside, with farmers who probably had a much earlier and tougher time getting ready for the Market than you do.

--------------------------
Yesterday's Political Panel on CBC Radio's Island Morning was a lot of loud voices that left this listener quite disaffected with Island politics (already the case) and this panel of "experts".  The panel had settled into an extremely partisan person, a more circumspect partisan person, and person who has generally been a more progressive voice, but his intractable drive for amalgamation (particularly the Three Rivers project) seems to have made him less effective defending or promoting other positions. 
It's remaining an only partial-partisan political panel as it doesn't include a supporter of growing political party (which now, elected in the First Past the Post system, actually makes up up one-fifth of the opposition) and one from a party with a constant presence on the political scene (even if it hasn't gained seats often in a FPTP system).  (It could try a format of being non-partisan, but maybe that wouldn't be as entertaining.) 
Right now it's become a pretty piddling panel.  20 minutes of shout and sneer.
http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1163202115636

-------------------------------------------
The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries heard yesterday from three representatives from the Pictou, Nova Scotia, Northern Pulp paper mill about current and planned wastewater treatment.  The video is available, but the transcript will take a few days.  Good questions from the many MLAs who were there, on a pretty complicated topic; from representatives answered a lot of questions (sometimes in very convoluted tech-speak), but for some questions they told the MLAs to check a website for the information.  (The representatives could have had one of their people check the document using an internet connection there and returning with the answers.)  The committee will continue to learn more about this project and effects on the fisheries and waters of the Northumberland Strait.
CBC story
Video of meeting
2hours 39minutes long, -- for over two hours were the presenters and questions, and after a short recess, the committee figured out its workplan and meeting schedule, including at the end a head-butting exchange about setting future meeting dates, between member Brad Trivers and committee chair Hal Perry, who obstinately cancelled a meeting date he couldn't make while others thought there was too much work and too little time to get the work in without that meeting time.  Perry's tie-breaking vote defeated a quick motion to hold the meeting -- using a winner take all system, instead of collaborating on what the real concerns were (an ambitious workplan, a date the chair couldn't make) -- was a bit ironic. 

-------------------------------
A simple plastic-free life step, if you have the need for this, and don't have an adequate one you don't need to throw away......"46. Choose a glass blender."
https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/

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

"It's a well-known that the trick to reducing net carbon emissions relies on not emitting so much of the stuff and finding a way to get it back where it belongs."
    --Max Ajl, sociologist, writing for Inside Climate News

February 16, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This morning, Friday, February 16th:
Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries meeting, with topic of Pictou (Nova Scotia) paper mill waste water treatment plans, 10AM-12noon, Coles Building (Legislative Chamber) and on-line at Legislative Assembly website, here:  http://www.assembly.pe.ca/
Sidney MacEwen (D7:Morell-Mermaid MLA and part-time lobster fisherman) apparently requested that the committee invite the representatives to speak to the committee about this issue that affects the Northumberland Strait and Islanders.  It's worth attending or tuning in.

Provincial New Democratic Party leadership race:
Margaret Andrade has entered the P.E.I. NDP leadership race; a relative newcomer to P.E.I. but not the NDP or political life, there is more about her in this CBC article and on her leadership race Facebook page.  Joe Byrne has also declared his intention to run for leadership.  The convention is April 7th in Charlottetown.

I don't know the deadline for purchasing a membership to be eligible to vote in the leadership, but anyone not a member of another party, 14 years and older, can purchase a membership ($10, or $5 student/unwaged).  Also (from a notice):

Provincial/Federal membership: if you are a current member of the national party, you are automatically a member of the provincial NDP (and vice versa: your PEI membership makes you a federal member too).

Term: your membership runs for one year, January 1 to December 31 — regardless of what date you submit your application and payment.

Renewal: will be due on the next January 1st.


For help or further direction, contact NDP-PEI at 902-892-1930

--------------------------------------
The CBC is hosting its political panel this morning about 7:37 or so until 8AM.  I am not sure if there will be anyone representing the NDP or Green Parties, joining usual members Mary Lynn Kane (who promotes the Liberals), Dennis King (commenting usually supportive of the Tories) and publisher Paul MacNeill.

Bush Dumville's resignation from the Liberal Caucus and Paul's blistering analysis of it will likely be part of the discussion.

It was brought to my attention by a kind person that, despite MacNeill's editorial printed here yesterday, Dumville is not totally self-serving; though it wasn't part of the media articles on him, he surely works for his constituents and enjoys that part of the job.
Dale Turner wrote an op-ed piece published in yesterday's Guardian, looking behind the headline as to what going on in the ruling party:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion--ill-treated-by-premier-186329/

‘Ill-treated by premier’ - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Dale Turner

Always upstanding sportsman, gentleman, RCMP officer, businessman and Rotarian

Published on Thursday, February 15th, 2018, in The Guardian

I am not a letter to the editor writer. It takes a lot to make me respond to current Island events. But the Bush Dumville issue has me feeling that I need to comment. First, it’s important that you know that I am a long-time Tory, so unlike some other writers, I have nothing to gain by supporting the premier or his party or Mr. Dumville, for that matter, and while I have voted Liberal, it’s not been often.

But I did take out a Liberal party membership in order to vote at Bush’s nominating convention in 2015. Now why would I do that? Well you see, Bush Dumville is a lifelong friend of mine. We’ve known each other literally since we we’re babes in arms. We went to school together, played high school hockey together and have remained friends ever since. We both belong to the Charlottetown Rotary Club.

Bush impresses me and he always has. He always was and still is an upstanding sportsman, gentleman, RCMP officer, businessman and Rotary club two-term president. 

Yes two-term president, an unheard of honour for a Rotarian. Bush served as president a number of years ago and more recently stepped into the breach when the president at the time resigned on short notice. As 2015-16 President, Bush launched a recruiting campaign that saw our membership rise from barely 60 Rotarians and falling, to a robust and committed 100 members. You see Bush is a motivated focused and dedicated leader. Always was, still is. And this old Tory is proud to say that he voted for him and would do so again.

On the other side of this issue is our premier. Ask yourself how often you have heard people say they find the premier a great guy to work with? I hear a lot of people talk about provincial affairs and I have yet to hear that the current premier is an inspiring leader. Rather, I hear he is a micro-manager, a bully and a control freak. I’m just repeating what I’m told. But it seems to me that Bush Dumville has been ill-treated by a premier who, for some reason, had his mind made up and as a result is unwilling to fully employ the talents of Mr. Dumville. To be expected to sit quietly, shut up and vote how and when the party tells you is not my idea of the politician I want to serve me. Nor do I think that this is the type of representative most Islanders want.

In conclusion: Our premier, has disappointed me. I told our premier, shortly after his being elected, that I had high expectations of him. I believe all Islanders shared my hopes. But I feel let down and I expect many Islanders feel the same. Our premier has done nothing about bringing the PNP perpetrators to justice: he has done nothing about bringing the e-gaming miscreants to justice: He is spending a fortune of yours and my money on a road that is unnecessary: he has failed to put forth a vision of how we get our little province out of its have-not status - a task that is growing more difficult as our population ages and he continues to spend ever more as though there is no day of reckoning. Just increase taxes and borrow more. To top it all off, he has proven himself to be secretive and controlling.

I think, on this issue, I will stand with my old, honourable and trusted friend. The one barrier that stood in the way of me voting for Bush Dumville has just been removed.

- Dale Turner of Charlottetown is a well-known investment advisor on P.E.I. for over 25 years; served on the faculty at Holland College; and is a member of Rotary and the Greater Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce.

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

Continuing on the bringing-food-with-you with less plastic, Plastic-Free Life blogger Beth Terry lists Step 45 as "Choose reusable cloth sandwich/snack bags."  There are lots of choices, especially from local craftspeople, such as those who also make cloth diapers and have lovely fabric skills.
 

--------------------------------
"We have to wake up to the fierce urgency of the now"
        --Jim Yong Kim, physician, anthropologist, president of the World Bank,
        on Climate Change

February 15, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:
Video launch: "Make It Your Business", 4:30-6PM, Florence Simmons Performance Hall, Holland College.

"Make It Your Business" is a new video series that offers brief, practical examples of how workers or other witnesses can recognize signs of family violence in public places and places of business and how to safely take action. All videos were written and produced in Charlottetown. They are designed for workplace training and for educating the general public. Covering common kinds of violence you might witness - whether sexual assault at a parking meter, child abuse, abuse of older adults, online harassment, or an abusive public argument - this series will be a major contribution to workplace training and to public understanding of what we can all do to make preventing violence all of our business. from Facebook event listing 
For more information on other Family Violence Prevention Week activities please go to http://www.stopfamilyviolence.pe.ca/2018schedule

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

Tonight:
Summerside 18-Electoral District Map Consultation, 6:30-8PM,  Athena Consolidated School, 150 Ryan Street, Summerside.   Third of five public meetings to  show two proposed maps to encourage discussion.  French translation will be in place.  The remaining scheduled two meetings are the 26th and 28th.
------------------------------

Tomorrow, Friday 16th:
Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Meeting, 10AM-12noon
, Coles Building (Legislative Chamber), all welcome to sit in the Gallery.  "The committee will receive a briefing on plans regarding a new waste water treatment facility at the Pictou County, NS Northern Pulp mill by representatives of Northern Pulp and treatment facility project personnel."

from the press release by the Eastern PEI Chamber of Cemmerce, February 8th, 2018:
The Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce (EPEICC) encourages all members and the concerned public to attend a public meeting between Northern Pulp and the PEI Standing Committee for Agriculture and Fisheries to be held on Friday, Feb. 16th – 10:00 am at the George Coles Building in Charlottetown.
“The EPEICC’s mission is to disseminate the information from all points of view and keep our membership and the concerned public well informed,” said Russ Compton, Vice President of the EPEICC.
“The EPEICC Board of Directors feel that it is important that concerned chamber members and the public be informed of the proposed pipeline that will pump effluent directly into the prime fishing grounds of the Northumberland Strait,” said Russ Compton, Vice President of the EPEICC. “Representatives from the EPEICC board will be in attendance and we encourage everyone to attend.”
The EPEICC requested that the PEI Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA), Friends of the Northumberland Strait and Northern Pulp participate in a public information session. However, Northern Pulp elected to meet directly with the PEI Standing Committee for Agriculture & Fisheries. While this is not the meeting that the EPEICC had originally requested, we strongly encourage the members of our community to attend and be informed.

----------------------
Published Paul MacNeill, calls out provincial MLA Bush Dumville as the poster boy for self-serving MLAs in the Ghiz/Maclauchlan governments.  He clearly reasons that proportional representation would offer better choices, and points to the self-serving fear-mongering (on the release of sample 18-electoral district maps) happening by members of the Legislature as already kicking at it.  Bold is mine.

http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_ff17ee2a-10fd-11e8-8f80-1b6a405cf554.html

Island MLAs lead the Me First charge- The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018, in The Graphic newspapers

Bush Dumville probably should have just kept quiet over why he quit the Liberal caucus. At least then the public might believe it was a matter of principle that drove his departure.

Instead the 11-year veteran of the provincial legislature poured his tale of woe out in interviews with both The Guardian and CBC. Both were a self-absorbed litany of perceived wrongs against him by Premier Wade MacLauchlan, which included forcing him to fight a contested party nomination in 2015.

Bush didn’t quit because of e-gaming, patronage, cutbacks to frontline services, the state of mental health care, unfunded projects in his riding, broken Liberal promises or even the frustration expressed by a growing number of Liberals at the premier’s governance style.

Nope. Bush quit because Bush faced a nomination battle and because Bush wasn’t named to cabinet. There is a reason the public has little faith in elected officials and Dumville’s interviews show in spades why.

Me first doesn’t cut it with the Island electorate anymore.

With even a modest amount of perspective beyond his own self interest, Dumville could have fronted a powerful attack against the premier and his management style. Instead, few have sympathy for the now Independent Liberal.

But Dumville is not alone. The me first attitude has been front and centre with Liberal MLAs since the Electoral Boundaries Commission released a proposed Mixed Member Proportional map for the Island.

Robert Henderson took one look at the proposed 18 ridings and proclaimed the idea bad news for West Prince. “Simple solution is vote against MMP in next election referendum and support FPTP,” he said in a Facebook post.

Paula Biggar chimed in: “This map is designed by (the) Commission based on required division under MMP. People need to be aware of its implication to rural PEI when they vote at referendum. If people choose MMP they reduce representation by elected members. Nine other MLAs would be appointed off party lists and are not accountable to constituents.”

This is an odd statement coming from the minister responsible for the status of women. Biggar continues to support a system proven to be a primary impediment to women entering politics. It’s an issue the minister apparently has no interest in solving.

Both Biggar and Henderson are fear mongering by putting their own self-interest ahead of what is best for rural PEI. Their partisan rhetoric ignores a major reality of rural representation – our voice has been on a steady decline for years because of mandatory electoral boundary reviews after every third election. Compare Island riding boundaries from 20 years ago to today; today few are completely rural. The majority touch at least partially into Summerside, Charlottetown, Stratford or Cornwall. This trend will only continue. But Rob Henderson, Paula Biggar and other Liberal MLAs like Pat Murphy won’t tell you that. They want to protect their perks.

Don’t assume Liberals stand alone. Tories are chirping too. The party’s Kings County stronghold could see a reduction in seats to four east of the Charlottetown area. That could spell trouble for the party. Not surprisingly there is predictable opposition from partisan stalwarts like Stephen Myers who argue MMP will hurt rural communities.

But like the amalgamation file, the MLA offers no solutions. Simply a demand for the status quo, which is something that PEI cannot afford – not to mention the status quo runs counter to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

MMP is the best way to ensure our rural voice is heard while ensuring voting equality.         

Any party wanting to represent all of PEI will need to include a significant rural presence on its party list. Biggar may have a condescending view of what these list MLAs will do, but she doesn’t have a clue. We’ve never used the system. But there is no doubt those on the list – if a party wants to succeed – will be men and women of substance and diversity, which our legislature desperately needs.

What we do know is that first past the post, dominated by Liberals and Tories, has provided predictably partisan, ineffective governance.

Liberal MLAs love FPTP but you never hear them brag about record debt, generational patronage, centralized and growing bureaucracy or elimination of frontline services in rural communities. Party solidarity comes first. MLAs and cabinet ministers, more often than not, are pawns of the premier’s office and beholden for the crumbs they receive such as cabinet or legislative roles, travel, government car or pension.  When the Tories are in power they act the same.

You want better government PEI? Somehow we must improve what passes for good governance in this province. It is easier said than done. But one thing is certain, the hyper partisanship exhibited under first past the post has failed generations of Islanders past, present and future. We are leaving a massive IOU to our children.

They deserve better than me first.

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

-------------------------------
The next step in working toward a Plastic-Free life, as spelled out by blogger Beth Terry here, is:

44. Carry lunches in reusable stainless containers or cloth bags.

lots and lots of options -- but finding reusable and not plastic is the trick

--------------------------------
"A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows."
        --Francis of Assisi (1181-1182)

February 14, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight:
Valentine's Cabaret, 7:30PM
, The Mack, featuring Catherine O'Brien (also known as the chairperson of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water), Joey Kitson and Don Fraser and others; some tickets still available. Box Office.
-------------------------------
Something to keep note of this week, from CBC News, this morning:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/redwater-aer-atb-supreme-court-1.4528996

Billions at stake as banks, energy regulator head to Supreme Court - CBC News article by Kyle Bakz

Case will decide who's on the hook for environmental cleanup when companies go bust

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear a case this week that could determine whether toxic industrial sites across the country are cleaned up when a company goes bankrupt.

Billions of dollars in cleanup costs are at stake as banks seek assurances they aren't stuck with massive environmental bills, provincial governments hope environmental rules are followed and farmers worry they may be left with contaminated land from abandoned oil and gas wells.

For communities dotted with orphaned wells, this isn't just a legal debate. These wells can affect people's farmland for years, said Daryl Bennett, a surface rights advocate who farms in southern Alberta.  One farmer he knows has had a well in the reclamation process for roughly two decades. "We can still walk across this field [and] pick up a five-gallon bucket full of oil-soaked clods of dirt," he said.

The case itself focuses on a small Alberta oil company, Redwater Energy, which entered creditor protection in 2015. Only a few of the company's assets had value, so the bank wanted to sell those wells to recover some of its debt and abandon the rest of the oil and gas sites. The question became whether Redwater's assets should help pay its debts or be used to pay for the cleanup cost of its worthless oil and gas wells?

The case will address a fundamental public policy dilemma about what happens when a resource company bites the dust. For instance, every mine in the country has environmental regulations attached to its licence about reclaiming the site when the mine closes.

But if the company goes belly up, does the bank take over those end-of-life responsibilities? If not, is the site abandoned or do taxpayers pick up the hefty tab?

Redwater Energy was a publicly traded junior oil and gas producer. Its main lender, ATB Financial, made a call on its debt and it entered receivership. The receiver felt only about 20 of 127 of Redwater's properties were worth keeping.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) ordered the remaining wells to be closed and remediated. But the trustee rejected the order and said it would not pay to properly clean up the wells. That's when the regulator and the Orphan Well Association took the dispute to court.

Here's what's at stake for key stakeholders:

Calling the outcome of the initial decision "catastrophic," the AER warns in its filings to Canada's highest court that it must overturn the case to restore 25 years of law and help ensure the safe and efficient reclamation of thousands of orphaned well sites.   "We need to be able to ensure the people of Alberta, collectively, are protected," Premier Rachel Notley told reporters this week.

Since the original court ruling in 2016, the amount of wells dumped on the regulator has rapidly increased; 1,800 AER-licensed sites have been abandoned, with estimated liabilities of more than $110 million. In the same period, the Orphan Well Association's inventory more than tripled from almost 1,200 to more than 3,700. 

Ultimately, the AER says the potential cost as a result of the Alberta court decision is staggering: $8.6 billion.

The regulator says the court effectively reduced all environmental and safety obligations to unsecured monetary claims.  "The Redwater decision impacts Alberta's constitutional right to manage its own resources," said AER spokeswoman Cara Tobin.

And by rejecting the "polluter pays" principle that underlies virtually all of Alberta's oil and gas legislation, it's shifted liability from the polluter to "innocent third parties and the public," according to the AER's legal filings. "Lenders are now incentivized to prohibit debtors from spending current cash flow remediating environmental damage that these companies created," the AER contends.

"Secured creditors are also incentivized to place those companies into insolvency so that the obligations can be dumped onto the public."

the rest of the article is here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/redwater-aer-atb-supreme-court-1.4528996

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Step 43 in the Plastic-Free Life is: Keep your own reusable foodware at the office. I think blogger Beth Terry is referring to keeping some dishes at your desk at work, though many places have some shared kitchen space (it's just keeping it tidy that's not always easy).


--------------------------------
"He that plants trees loves others beside himself."
        --Thomas Fuller (1608-1661), English writer   

February 13, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

News:  As The Guardian reads:  "Charlottetown mayor casts deciding vote on cosmetic pesticide issue", meaning that he voted with councilor Bob Doiron to keep the "infestation clause" and ability to get a permit to spray lawns in the municipality.  The full article is reprinted at the end of this newsletter.

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

Events today:
NOT happening:  Standing Committee on Health and Wellness was scheduled for 1:30PM
to have an update on physician recruitment.  The notice says it is cancelled and will be rescheduled later.

Happening Tonight:
Talk on upcoming documentary:  Prehistoric PEI, 7PM
, Faculty Lounge, Main Building UPEI.  Free.

Coastal Erosion talk, UPEI Climate Lab, 1:30PM, Eastern Kings Community Centre, Souris.  One of four winter talks on "coastal erosion and climate change adaption."
Facebook event details.

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Thursday, February 15th:
Electoral Boundaries Commission public meeting on making an 18 District map for a Mixed Member Proportional voting system, 6:30PM
, Athena Consolidated School, Summerside.  Panel presents their mandate and has two sample maps to get the conversation going.  All welcome.
More details here.

-------------------------------
from the chief executive officer of the David Suzuki Foundation, published last week (bold is mine):

2018 is the year of environmental decisions - David Suzuki Foundation article by CEO Stephen Cornish

In late 2017, as the world focused its attention on the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, 15,000 scientists sounded a planetary alarm. The biosphere is at a tipping point, threatening the very survival of our species, they said.

This foreboding message has ushered us into the age of consequences. After almost 40 years of ignoring the warning signs, we must make 2018 a year of decisive environmental decisions.

In the 20 years I spent with Doctors Without Borders, I witnessed first-hand the devastating impact climate change and related crises have had on our planet. Natural disasters, droughts, famine and waves of climate refugees hit the poorest countries hardest. They can destabilize entire regions and lead to armed conflict.

I chose to join the David Suzuki Foundation because even though we need to provide immediate medical and humanitarian assistance to populations dealing with crises worsened by climate change, we must also take urgent action to limit the scale and scope of future damage and the unfair and unbearable human suffering to come.

Efforts on both the humanitarian and environmental fronts are now inextricably linked by the climate crisis, and we owe it to the world’s poor and to future generations to find solutions.

We have entered the age of accountability, where every economic and political decision will change the course of the world as we know it. With the parity of renewable energy at hand, there is no longer any reason to support oil, gas and oilsands expansion.

Provincial and federal governments in Canada cannot support fossil fuel extraction while claiming to simultaneously fight climate change in earnest. This bewildering dissonance has bred inaction and cynicism, wasting valuable time we should be spending on a system-wide transition to renewable energy.

We must also stop expecting that changes will happen smoothly and that technology alone holds the answer to our problems. We will soon have to deal with climate shocks and environmental constraints that will not only limit future economic growth, but also directly affect our quality of life.

We must rethink our economic model of exponential growth, planned obsolescence, overconsumption and waste. Far better to proactively design and engineer a circular, renewable and more just economy, than to stand by helplessly awaiting whatever reality brings.

Some institutions and jurisdictions are proving just how possible it is to alter our mindsets, no matter how deeply they are entrenched. Just weeks ago, New York City made a powerful statement that the transition to clean energy is not only the right thing to do; it’s inevitable. “We’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

This side of the border, several post-secondary institutions are divesting from fossil fuels, starting with Laval last February. In November, Norway began to divest its massive sovereign-wealth fund, and in December, the World Bank said it would no longer lend money for oil and gas exploration.

But the fact that we now live at the expense of future generations remains true and is widely believed in many circles; even if lulled to sleep by our current comforts and the complexities of modern life. We continue to abnegate our responsibilities only to become passive spectators of our own demise.

The prognostics are dire, but I have seen people around the world come together in amazing shows of solidarity in situations that appeared hopeless. Take the Ebola crisis in West Africa: after an initial state of panic and deadly collective inaction, the international community eventually stood up and joined humanitarian agencies and local health-care workers. Together, we took just a few months to end an epidemic of biblical proportions that, until then, had seemed impossible to resolve.

Our salvation lies in our ability to recognize threats, join forces and help each other in times of adversity. As we head into 2018 and beyond, all people of goodwill must break down the walls of indifference and cynicism. Let’s make this a year of decisive environmental decisions at home and around the world.

Stephen Cornish is CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation.
-------------------------------

42. Choose plastic-free hair accessories & tools...

...is the next step in the Plastic-Free Life.  You can find wooden hair brushes and combs with some effort, and hair elastics made of cotton and natural rubber with a bit more effort.  More: https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
--------------------------------

"Listening is where love begins; listening to ourselves and then to our neighbours."
        --Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers, 1928-2003)

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

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

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/charlottetown-mayor-casts-deciding-vote-on-cosmetic-pesticide-issue-185533/

Charlottetown mayor casts deciding vote on cosmetic pesticide issue  The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Published on Monday, February 12th, 2018, in The Guardian

By a narrow 5-4 vote, the City of Charlottetown decided Monday night to stay the course on its cosmetic pesticide bylaw.

On the table was a proposal to eliminate the $50 surcharge residents are hit with if they claim to have an infestation. Also under consideration was eliminating the clause in the current bylaw that allows property owners to apply to an exemption to the rules if they have an infestation of pests.

Council was split down the middle with Greg Rivard, Terry MacLeod, Bob Doiron and Terry Bernard opposed to the change while Jason Coady, Mitch Tweel, Mike Duffy (chairman of the environment committee) and Kevin Ramsay voting in favour of it. In the event of a tie, Mayor Clifford Lee must cast the deciding vote.

Lee chose the status quo so the $50 surcharge remains, as does the exemption clause.

Couns. Eddie Rice and Melissa Hilton did not attend the meeting.

“I voted the way I did because we need to keep in mind that the bylaw is a year old,’’ Lee told the media following council’s regular public monthly meeting. “It was very important for the city of Charlottetown and the two towns of Stratford and Cornwall that we all have a bylaw in place so that we didn’t have different sets of rules for the Charlottetown area.’’

The bylaw applies to the application of non-domestic pesticides by licensed cosmetic pesticide applicators. It allows for the application of 41 different products. It also includes exemptions where a property owner can ask the city that a product not on that list of 41 be used. One of those exceptions is for an insect infestation.

In 2017, out of 9,000 detached homes in Charlottetown, 304 exception applications were received and 295 were approved. The $50 surcharge brought in about $15,000.

Lee feels the pesticide industry deserves more warning before any more changes are made so companies don’t order supplies for the upcoming season, or already have them on hand, only to find out suddenly that they can’t use them.

Members of Pesticide Free P.E.I. were in attendance for the vote.

Roger Gordon, a member of the group, called the result very unfortunate.

“I’m very disappointed at the short sightedness of certain councillors,’’ Gordon said. “You use your hands, you work the soil with your hands. If you were to come to my lawn, in the summertime, you would see a beautiful lawn, but I don’t use any products. What I use is hard work.’’

Gordon said people who continue to fight pests, like cinch bug, with chemicals end up killing their lawns.

“It makes as much sense to say, for example, that you spray a product on a lawn and it mysteriously becomes a beautiful lawn as it does to say that you spray a product on a flower garden and all of a sudden you’ve got roses coming up.’’

Gordon echoed comments made by Duffy in council chambers in explaining that toxic products simply kill the soil.

For cinch bugs, Gordon, who is an entomologist and a parasitologist, recommends pouring soapy water and a handful of grass seeds over them.

February 12, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events going on this week:

Tonight:
City of Charlottetown Council Meeting, 7-8PM
, City Hall.  from Pesticide Free PEI's event notice:

At this meeting, they will vote on whether to remove the ‘infestation clause’ from the by-law. This ‘infestation clause’ has allowed pesticide companies to get around the ban by paying a $50 fee. City Coun. Mike Duffy has been working with concerned citizens to remove both the $50 fee and the infestation clause. This would move the City of Charlottetown much closer to the cosmetic pesticide ban that people have been clamoring for since 2007.

Also,
Talk:  Electric Cars in Rural P.E.I.: How can it work?, 7:45-8:45PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road.  Short discussion by a couple of residents in the Bonshaw area about electric cars in the rural setting.  Hosted by the Bonshaw Women's Institute.

-----------------------------
Today is Darwin Day, the 209th birthday of British naturalist Charles Darwin, and events happen worldwide to celebrate scientific discovery. 

Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 13th:
Prehistoric PEI Preview:  A Talk with Filmmaker Will Beckett, 7PM
, UPEI, Main Building (SDU Main Building) Faculty Lounge.  All welcome.  More details at UPEI's page, here.

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

There are two Legislative Standing Committee meetings this week, which you can either attend in person or watch on-line:
Tuesday, February 13th:
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness,
1:30PM,
Legislative Chamber (Coles Building).  "The Committee will receive a briefing on the recruitment process for physicians and nurses in Prince Edward Island."

Friday, February 16th:
Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries,
10AM,
Legislative Chamber (Coles Building).  "The committee will receive a briefing on plans regarding a new waste water treatment facility at the Pictou County, NS Northern Pulp mill by representatives of Northern Pulp and treatment facility project personnel."
Legislative Assembly website

-------------------------------
Sally Bernard, farmer (and often surrounded by children, see quote below) and Green Party shadow critic for agriculture, wrote an opinion piece (originally printed in Island Farmer publication) about the recently-released study showing P.E.I.'s abysmal soil organic content and its decline in the last couple of decades: http://www.greenparty.pe.ca/soiled_reputations

Soiled Reputations - Island Farmer article by Sally Bernard

Published on Friday, February 9th, 2018

Potato farmers on PEI are often the scapegoats of an environmentally-minded public looking for a target on which to pin the ecological decline of this sandy province.  The study of soil organic matter levels over 18 years that was recently released feels in many ways like more ammunition with which to pelt the potato industry. And certainly, given the extent of row-cropping on PEI, potatoes cannot be exempt from the discussion.  But most assuredly there is not a single farmer, of any kind, on PEI who is happy to see their soil organic matter (SOM) levels declining.  Every farmer knows that SOM is a major cornerstone to soil structure, pH buffering, soil biology and, perhaps most pertinent to recent public discussions, water holding capacity and water movement. So evidently SOM is not something that farmers, of any commodity, are content to see declining.  Given the current uptake in having fall cover crops established before winter, the evidence is visibly out there in the fields of the efforts that farmers are taking to protect their soil.

The study was done by a group of soil scientists and agrologists within both the federal and provincial departments of agriculture and looks at samples taken across PEI over 18 years.  The results are definitive that current agricultural management systems are not sustainable from a soil health perspective and that swift action is needed to help reverse the trend of declining organic matter levels.  Suggestions from the study include increasing inputs like manure and compost, establishing winter cover crops and reducing tillage to name a few.   

Of particular note are the dates of the study.  Keeping in mind that the Agricultural Crop Rotation Act was enacted in 2002, the study spans from 1998 to 2015, giving a snapshot of the period of time immediately following implementation of the legislation.

While soil organic matter levels take decades to go up, they can decline much more quickly and it seems fair to judge the Agricultural Crop Rotation Act by its ineffectiveness in even maintaining the levels that existed at its onset.  Not only was the soil unable to maintain the meager levels it enjoyed in 2002, the decline was rapid and definitive, across the province.

As our governments invest significant financial contributions into public trust in agriculture, one might expect there to be swift reaction, acknowledging weak legislation and a lack of enforcement rather than letting the farmers take the brunt of the public blame.  Of course farmers need to be responsible for their own soil health and make decisions that are best for the long term viability of their land, but given the policies and systems encouraged by decades of commodity-minded, export-oriented and bigger-is-always-better governments, the decline of our resources should come as no surprise.

The conclusion of the study itself gives clear guidance on the way forward, on the long road of increasing SOM but the first step is an engaged government, effective collaboration with other affected departments, communication with all farmers, and legislation and enforcement that actually results in positive change.

Sally Bernard is the Green Party of PEI's Shadow Critic for Agriculture and Fisheries.

-------------------------------
The 41st Step to a Plastic-Free life is to "Look into plastic-free sunscreen options." Again, it's an issue of the plastic packaging AND the plastics in the contents themselves.  https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
--------------------------------
And with it being Charles Darwin's birthday:


"How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children."
        --Charles Darwin, (1809-1882) British naturalist. Darwin Online website

February 11, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today, Sunday, February 11th:
Gathering: Justice for Colten Boushie, 1PM
, sponsored by the Council of Canadians and the UPEI Aboriginal Student Association.  Solidarity and support for the family after the verdict in the Gerald Stanley case in Saskatchewan.
Facebook event details
-------------------

from Saturday's The Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-in-danger-of-being-buried-in-shuffle-184691/

OPINION: In danger of being buried in shuffle - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan Bober

A referendum lost in election timing games would be one letdown too much to bear

February 1st marked the one-year anniversary of the Trudeau Liberals abandoning their promise to “make 2015 the last election under first-past-the-post” and to “make every vote count”, letting down millions of Canadians who had hoped for something better.

More locally, some are beginning to fear that a promise made by Premier Wade MacLauchlan in 2016 may be headed for a similar fate. That promise was, of course, to hold a binding referendum in conjunction with the next provincial general election on whether to honour the 2016 plebiscite results in favour of Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP).

Lay aside, for a moment, the as-yet-unresolved constitutional questions about how such a referendum could truly bind a future legislature, or about why there should be a second vote at all, when P.E.I. governments had consistently honoured the results of plebiscites up until 2016.

The bigger issue with the promised referendum comes down to timing. Election timing. According to the Election Act, the next election should normally take place in October 2019, but since a federal election is already scheduled for that same month, the next P.E.I. general election should happen on April 27, 2020 instead.

Seems clear enough, except that the Act preserves the constitutional right of the Lieutenant Governor (the Premier) to call new elections at any time. And our Premier is certainly guarding this privilege very closely. In his year-end interview with Guardian reporter Teresa Wright, Premier MacLauchlan was careful not to commit to the fixed election date when pressed.

How can the Premier promise to call the next election “in a way that’s consistent with… the spirit of the law” and yet continue to leave Islanders in the dark, trying to guess when the next election will be? Recent weeks and months have been rife with speculation of an early election, and the Premier has neither said nor done anything to dispel that speculation. If anything, he has fueled it.

Back to the referendum. While the Premier has indicated a keenness for holding a general election at a time when Islanders “can best express their views,” it’s not clear if that would include their views on the best voting system going forward. A referendum would be no trivial matter. It would be the first of its kind on P.E.I., and would of course require a significant effort on the part of both Elections P.E.I. and volunteer, citizen-led proponent groups to mobilize and educate voters about their ballot options. All of this is to take place amidst the hubbub of the general election taking place at the exact same time, and, in the case of an early election call, within a 26-32 day writ period.

I’m not sure how the good folks at Elections P.E.I. feel about their capacity to deliver on all that would be expected of them in such short order, but I know that I and other citizens are very concerned about how little room a snap early election would leave for fair, quality public education and engagement on the most important evolution of our democracy since women were granted the franchise a century ago.

I would be surprised if he hadn’t already thought of this. If so, I suggest that there are two honourable ways to keep his promise, uphold fairness and basic democratic principles, and prevent a debacle: a) stop playing games with election timing, and give Elections P.E.I. and citizens groups the firm timeline they need to plan for a great general election and referendum; or, better yet, b) honour the 2016 vote by legislating the implementation of MMP, as democratically chosen by Islanders.

A referendum lost (or buried) in the shuffle of election timing games would be one letdown too much to bear.

- Jordan Bober is a member of the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation

 -------------------------------
The fortieth step in the Plastic-Free Life is:  "40. Choose plastic-free feminine hygiene products", and there are good alternatives, both purchased from natural products sections in some stores, reusable products such as the Diva Cup, and cloth menstrual pads, and patterns for sewing your own.  Info on Canadian companies like Lundapads.com.
-------------------------------
Both the Leap Manifesto and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals say these things, though Leap and others are clearer that endless economic growth is not sustainable.


"Saving our planet....lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth...these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women's empowerment.  Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all."
       -- Ban Ki-moon, former United Nations Secretary-General

February 10, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets open today in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM).

The Winter Woodlot Tour has been put off indefinitely until good snow conditions are available.

Today: 
Saturday, February 10th:
District 17 Green Party Formation Meeting, 10:30AM-12Noon, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road.  "The formation meeting for an Electoral District Association (EDA) for District17 is scheduled."  All welcome, though only Party members in good standing can vote.

The Federal New Democratic Party convention is next weekend (February 16-18) in Ottawa.  It would be good to hear of the Islanders going and what they are looking forward to.  Certainly, it'll be great to hear of discussions about proportional representation.  More information:  https://ottawa2018.ndp.ca/

The provincial NDP is planning their leadership convention for Saturday, April 7th.

The Spring Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature begins April 4th (I think).

Travelling back (yet again) several weeks to the tumultuous end of the Fall Sitting, a letter graced the pages of the Guardian Wednesday, by Mr. J. Bruce MacIsaac, but Darcie Lanthier's response "is 100% correct" (as a newspaper editor once said of one of her rebuttals a few years ago).

https://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/letter-pei-green-party-adopts-new-policy-183974/

LETTER: P.E.I. Green Party adopts new policy - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I have been following the Green Party lately and they have been getting some press with their actions. When the leader, Peter Bevan-Baker, with his very childish behaviour in the legislature, got thrown out for acting very disrespectful, the rank and file of this movement appeared to be annoyed with him.

Because a few weeks after this incident, the party arranged a meeting to deal with Mr. Bevan-Baker. Now they are a sharp bunch of loyal party members and they called the meeting a convention, a fundraiser and a workshop. I guess they are trying to act like they are organized.

The big news of this get together - they send out their new policy, their very first one, and guess what it is. It is a Code of Ethics and a Code of Conduct for its members, and the leader.

But I have to give credit where credit is due, this is a start. I also must say that Mr. Bevan-Baker seems to have gotten the message because he did say he was sorry.

Lately the leader of the federal Green movement, Ms. May, has decided that bullying is OK. She has admitted that she might have been a bit aggressive but she says she isn't a bully. To make this go away she has hired a lawyer to investigate her and have that lawyer give her the legal right to be a bully – sorry, aggressive. The P.E.I. Green Party should send her a copy of their new policy.

J. Bruce MacIsaac, Charlottetown

by Green Party member and PEI federal representative Darcie Lanthier (edited slightly for clarity):

Darcie Lanthier
Friday, February 9th, 2018, on Facebook

It's hard to know where to begin when faced with something that is incorrect in every single instance. 

No one really believes Peter Bevan-Baker was childish or even unparliamentary. I was sitting right there to see (Richard) Brown and (Premier) MacLauchlan plan their attack. It blew up in their faces when The Speaker did not allow the Premier to speak following Peter's removal and then again when The Guardian featured Peter on the front page the next day instead of the Premier crowing about his Legislative Session.

The Green Party of PEI General Meeting had been planned for the Fall and to be rescheduled because of the snap election called in District 11. Which also backfired when Hannah Bell won the seat. The Code of Conduct has been in place for quite a while. I have a copy dated last April.

The accusations against Elizabeth May are about her raising her voice at an employee who was not happy that she had won the Leadership of the Party. This complaint would never have been made against a man. The Green Party of Canada has hired a law firm to complete a fully independent investigation. 

The Green Party Code of Conduct is available for anyone to read on the website.
https://www.greenparty.ca/en/party/documents

-------------------------------
https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
"Step No. 39.  Choose toilet paper that's not wrapped in plastic."
Consider bulk shopping at places like A-1 Vacuum and asking for paper wrapped rolls in a cardboard box.


--------------------------------
(The United States and the Soviet Union) "...tend to speak of national security as though it were still capable of being dissociated from the universal well-being; in fact, sometimes in these political addresses it sounds as though this nation, or any nation, through force of character or force of arms, could damn well rise above planetary considerations, as though we were greater than our environment, as though the national verve somehow transcended the natural world."
        --E.B. White (1899-1985), American essayist

February 9, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This morning:
Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges Standing Committee, 10AM-12noon,
Legislative Chamber, Coles Building.  "The committee will meet to consider its work plan."  A little more on the committee, here: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/committees/getCommittees.php?cnumber=22
And you can watch these on their website, here.

Monday, February 12th:
City of Charlottetown Council meeting
on changes to the pesticide bylaw, to remove the inspection, fee, and override of the bylaw.  More details later.
------------

18 Electoral District map talk:

Last night over 60 people managed to find the lecture theatre down in Holland College's Charlottetown campus for a short presentation and time for questions, hosted by the five member Electoral Boundaries Commission.  There are two sample maps the Electoral Boundaries Commission has produced to get some discussion going about how to divide the Island into 18 geographical Districts for voting under a Mixed Member Proportional representation system. MMP is to be one of the choices on the referendum ballot in the next provincial election. 

Only a couple of people there didn't get the purpose of the map (thought maybe we could talk about different electoral systems), and comments where made by some people like the Premier, who spoke as a resident and as a potential MLA looking at getting around the district he lives in.  (The premier, Leader of the Official Opposition James Aylward, and MLAs Richard Brown, Robert Mitchell and Bush Dumville, and the mayor of Stratford were tucked in the room; probably others not so noticeable.)  It was hard to see specific details of districts up close, though there was projection in the well-lit room; the Commission discussed concerns of variance in number of eligible voters, and communities, and such.

The Commissioners do understand (now) that to make the map clearly for MMP, that they clearly need to indicate on the map the nine "top-up" provincial seats that are related to achieving proportionality, and not location.  It could be repeated to them by Islanders, as they do want feedback.  It sounds like they want comments by March 2nd or before, since the map has to be ready soon after that to be presented to the Speaker for the Spring Sitting of the Legislature. 
There are still three public meetings (Summerside on the 15th, and Morell and Elmsdale the last week of February).  The email address is <electoralboundaries@gov.pe.ca>

More comments later; more info at their website here:  https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/

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

27 Electoral Districts Maps
Back to the Future:

People asked for someone with computing mapping ability to figure out how to overlay the current 27 District electoral boundaries with the ones we will be using in the next provincial 27 District election (right now legislated for Fall 2019).  Rustico-Emerald MLA and techie Brad Trivers found the right person (Andrew Lush, I believe) and here is the wonderful result to scroll around and zoom in and out and figure out the key, which took me a little bit of time.

https://bradtrivers.com/2018/02/map-new-district-18-rustico-emerald-boundaries/

Even though it looks like it's just for District 18, it is the whole Island.  Thanks, guys.

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

Plastic Free steps by blogger and author Beth Terry.  Brevity is the better part of discretion, or something like that; Step No. 38 is "Coconut oil lube."


--------------------------------
"Where there is poverty, there will be destruction and exploitation by the corporations and governments benefitting from destroying our rainforests and trafficking wildlife."
        -- blogger Eileen Anglin, White Rose Path

February 8, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment is NOT meeting this morning, due to concerns about the weather (this call was made last night). 

Some events tonight:

Environmental Coalition of P.E.I. Annual General Meeting and Panel Discussion, 6:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House.  Always an excellently run meeting with updates on what ECOPEI is doing and how you can get involved, and a program on environmental education.
Facebook event details

Also in Charlottetown:

PEI Electoral Boundaries Commission public meeting, 6:30-8PM, Holland College, MacKinnon Theatre, Kent Street entrance (I think), though they give thr 140 Weymouth address on the Facebook event.  This meeting is led by the five-member Electoral Boundaries Commission, with the purpose to draw an 18-district map which could be used under a mixed member proportional representation system (MMP).

This is the only meeting scheduled in the Charlottetown area.  Summerside, Morell and Elmsdale are in the coming weeks.  They start immediately at 6:30PM.  From media coverage of the Monday Montague meeting, they seem incredibly reluctant to appear to be "encouraging" any discussion other than saying they are drawing an 18 district map.  That's fine -- but an 18-district map alone is not a map that will be "educational" for MMP discussions, unless you are hinting that people will have less representation.

The map needs to have the nine other MLAs' seats clearly indicated, or a bias against MMP is planted in the map.  That should be brought up at these meetings and in other public feedback.

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

And finally, Summerside-way:
Green Drinks Summerside, 7-10PM, Dooley's Summerside, 298 Water Street; informal monthly gathering of Green Party supporters and some party leaders.
Facebook event details

-------------------------------
Continuing on personal care products with less plastic in them, or certainly in their packaging, author Beth Terry for her 37th suggestion tackles using less "plastic tooth paste/ powder, toothbrush, and floss." with lots of suggestions and links here:
https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/


--------------------------------
"No matter how dark the cloud, there is always a thin, silver lining, and that is what we must look for.  The silver lining will be come, if not to us then to next generation or the generation after that.  And maybe with that generation the lining will no longer be thin."
        --Wangari Maathai (1940-2011), Kenyan environmental political activist, Nobel Laureate, more on her at the Green Belt Movement website

By the way, ECOPEI and Cinema Politica hosted a screening of the film Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai about her about five years ago.  Time to see that film again.
--------------------------------

February 7, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Provincial Legislative Standing Committee meetings today and the rest of the week. 

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts is today, 10AM-noon, Legislative Chamber (Coles Building), all welcome.  Facebook event details.

Tomorrow is the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment, and Friday is the Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges Standing Committee, also at 10AM-noon, and also to assemble their workplans for the winter and spring.

The Standing Committees all have changes to their make-up of members.  Information about the Standing Committees and the link to watch from home are at the Legislative Assembly website, here.

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

Island commentator Kevin J. Arsenault has compiled a calendar of his commentary and highlighted video clips from the last three and a half weeks of the Fall Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature, featuring a "Good Question" asked by a member of the Official Opposition or the Third Party to a then Government Cabinet Minister, and the "non-answer" that the question gets.  A reminder of how our Legislature is not supposed to work, but does under these false majorities of seats versus popular vote;  it makes many understand how improved it could be under proportional representation (more tomorrow on the PR and the meeting about mapping electoral districts under a mixed member proportional system).

--------

Today:
Deadline to apply for Leadership Development Program for Women in Politics
, for non-partisan women.  For women involved in the democratic process and interested in perhaps running for office or for those who want to organize, and aren't members of a political party.  Consider applying!  
More details and link to apply:
http://www.windingpathinc.com/leadership-development/
-------------------------------
from the 100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life,
https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
No. 36. "Switch from a plastic razor to a second-hand safety razor."  Author Beth Terry is right, there are tons of plastic in disposable razors.  Chrome-plated metal safety razors have that old-fashioned look and are available by mail-order.
--------------------------------
Regarding environmental quotes, we're not through with Thoreau:


"What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
        --Henry David Thoreau

February 6, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Progressive Conservative Party of P.E.I. published a recent newsletter, found here:
https://mailchi.mp/peipcparty/the-blue-wave-800289?e=08849501b8
with news and a calendar of events, including some District "founding" meetings for the
redrawn 27-district boundaries for whenever the next provincial election takes place.  

Tonight:
PC Founding meeting District 3 (which retains its name of Montague-Kilmuir),  7PM
registration, call to order 7:30PM,  Rural Action Centre, Montague.

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

I look forward to hearing comments from attendees regarding a proposed 18-District map for a Mixed-Member Proportional voting system, from last night's first public meeting in Montague.  There are materials on the Electoral Boundaries Commission website and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PEIEBC2017/

-------------------------------
LeadNow.ca ("...a people-powered movement fighting for a better Canada" produced a survey last week asking almost 9,000 of their subscribers what their priorities were for 2018, and campaigns they'd like to see LeadNow organize.  Here is a screenshot of the results:

Climate, economy, electoral reform.

---------------------------------------------------------
The 35th tip in the Plastic-Free Life guide by Beth Terry is to "Choose lotions and lip balms in plastic-free containers", which will involve some hunting around. (I do remember when some lotions came in glass bottles.)  There is a company called Organic Essence which uses a compostable cardboard jars and lip balm containers like a miniature ice cream push-up pop.

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

"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy.  What a source of power!  I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."
        --Thomas Edison, 1931

February 5, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight is the first of five public meetings on the preparation of a map of electoral district boundaries for education purposes in a Mixed Member Proportional Representation.  Thursday night is the only Charlottetown-area one scheduled. "The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for public input about the appropriate district boundaries to be used by the Commission in the creation of an eighteen district provincial electoral map of PEI. This map has been requested for use as an educational tool in conjunction with a future provincial referendum," says the event listing.
Coming soon enough after the regular boundaries adjustment and during a time when the larger political parties are having their "founding meetings" in redrawn districts, this exercise is confusing to a lot of people.  In addition, without any sort of concrete support from the Liberal government on what the referendum is going to look like, what resources are going to be allocated, and even when the election is going to be, people may conclude that their representation is going to be diluted. 

Two things everyone can do:

  • Talk about it with friends and family so they know what this round of public consultations  and the map is about, and remind them of the referendum, and the results from the plebiscite in late 2016.  #HonourTheVote

  • Attend a meeting, and point out that District boundaries should respect communities, of course, and that the maps need to indicate the nine seats that are additional representation for Islanders in the MMR system.
  • More info on PR:  PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation's website:  https://peipr.ca/

Monday, February 5th:
Montague, 6:30-8PM
, Lane's Riverhouse Inn, 33 Brook Street
Facebook event details


Thursday, February 8th:
Charlottetown, 6:30-8PM, Holland College, MacKinnon Hall (Kent Street entrance)
Facebook event details


Thursday, February 15th:
Summerside
, Athena Consolidated School

Monday, February 26th:
Morell,
Morell Regional High School

Wednesday, February 28th:
Elmsdale,
Westile Composite High School

All meetings 6:30-8PM. More info, here: https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/sample-mmp-maps

By the way, if you want to see the electoral Districts for the next provincial election, here is a link to the list of the adjusted 27 Districts:
http://www.electionspei.ca/index.php?number=1055663&lang=E

and to the current Districts:
http://www.electionspei.ca/index.php?number=1055690&lang=E

I would very much like to see these be overlaid, but not sure if that's a possibility at this point.
-----------------------------
Also this week,
Tuesday, February 6th:
CDRA (Charlottetown Downtown Resident Association) Public Meeting and Q&A, 7-9PM
, St. Paul's Church Hall, 101 Prince Street.  "This public meeting will feature speakers Alex Forbes, Chief Planning Officer, City of Charlottetown and Heritage Officer Todd Saunders. The topic of this evening will be 500 Lot Plan and where does the plan stand at this time. There will be a Q&A Also present Councillors Greg Rivard, Head of Planning Committee at City Council and Councillor Mitch Tweel."
https://www.facebook.com/events/154318315224341/

I think a presentation on the original 500 Lot Plan from 2011 is found here:
http://city.charlottetown.pe.ca/pdfs/500%20Lot-Public%20Presentation_Sept27-2011.pdf

Thursday has the Charlottetown electoral boundaries meeting AND:
ECOPEI AGM and panel discussion, 6:60PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, all welcome.

Green Drinks Summerside, 7-10PM, Dooley
https://www.facebook.com/events/1236451523121584/

Saturday, February 10th:
Winter Woodlot tour postponement date, 9AM-1PM

https://www.facebook.com/events/1980388282218230/

-------------------------------
The 100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life, by Beth Terry:
https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
34.  Soap instead of shaving cream in a can (with propellents and plastic nozzle)
Men's face shaving soaps, shampoo bars and any lathering soap will do.


--------------------------------
"Our task must be to widen our circle of compassion, to embrace
all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
        — Albert Einstein

February 4, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The recent news has carried the story by Michael Tutton of The Canadian Press about the three women who in 2011 alleged "fraud and bribery in the provincial immigration program."  Susan Holmes, Cora Nicholson and Svetlana Tenetko comment on the Privacy Commissioner's recent report finding that their privacy rights were breached.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-pnp-whistleblowers-privacy-breach-liberal-government-1.4516572

If you feel you never fully grasped the significance of the situation, take the time to read the article a time or two.   It's also worth noting that current Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan has refused to meet with them.    Two of the women were asked about the Whistleblower legislation that just passed in the P.E.I. Legislature this Fall, and say they "wouldn't feel protected by the new law,"  as reporting is still basically internal.   And the PNP program continues in new forms and has its critics. 

-------------------------------
Our local journalists have reported on the PNP story and the privacy breaches, though sometimes stories from journalists-from-away draw more attention.

Local journalist Teresa Wright of The Guardian wrote a comprehensive piece Saturday on the behemoth that is the communications arm of the current government, at least 33 people strong.  I will reprint the article at the end of this newsletter since the link may not work for all.
Her point (including good comments from journalism instructor Rick MacLean) is that it's not easy for regular reporters to product fact-checked content and basically compete with messaging saturating media from those deep pockets (filled with, of course, our money). 

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/exclusive-documents-reveal-the-millions-pei-government-spends-on-spin-183065/

We can all support local media, and call out ads as ads. 

-------------------------------
The Plastic Free Life has the 33rd step of "Use Baking Soda for deodorant."  Beth Terry writes, "... instead of deodorant in a plastic container, I use baking soda mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil applied to dry underarms with a reusable cotton round. It works better than any commercial deodorant I have ever used. Seriously. If you don’t think baking soda deo is your thing, there are other options. Read my Great Big Plastic-Free Non-Toxic Deodorant Review.  But honestly? Try the baking soda first. No kidding. I would use it even if I weren’t trying to cut down my plastic consumption."

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

"Keep close to Nature's heart...and break clear away, once it awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.  Wash your spirit clean."
        --John Muir

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

EXCLUSIVE: Documents reveal the millions P.E.I. government spends on spin - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Published on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

Communications department packages and sells province's messaging to the public


        Government calls it communications. Others call it spin.
       
Whatever name you’d like to use, the P.E.I. government spends millions each year from the public purse to sell itself and its messaging to Islanders.
       
According to documents released to The Guardian through freedom of information, the province’s communications branch spendt close to $1 million on advertising, professional services and equipment since Premier Wade MacLauchlan began his tenure in office in January 2015.
       
Another $2.2 million is spent every year in salaries for the team of 31 staffers who work for Communications P.E.I.
       
This provincial communications team works diligently to document and plan ways to package and promote government messaging.
       
It’s a practice that governments everywhere have increasingly been honing.
       
Marc Dagenais, manager of strategic communications for the province, says the messaging they create is mainly aimed at promoting services and initiatives important for public safety and well being – campaigns like one encouraging Islanders to be screened for colorectal cancer or another highlighting the low-risk drinking guidelines.
       
“These are important things to get out and get those messages to the public,” Dagenais said.
       
He also pointed to ad campaigns the province has created that promote government programs that help Islanders retrofit their homes to be more energy efficient and others that raised awareness about job fairs for Islanders looking for work.
       
“If we’re going to have these programs it’s important that people are aware of them and they can take advantage of them.”

By the numbers
Top P.E.I. government advertising expenses by merchant January 2015 to May 2017

  • Newcap radio - $295,773
  • Transcontinenal Media - $290,669
  • Maritime Broadcasting System (MBS) Ltd. - $104,876
  • Island Press Ltd. - $57,251
  • Results Marketing & Advertising - $46,552
  • Imageworks (PEI) Inc. - $33,780
  • La Voix Acadienne - $29,960
  • Canadian Cancer Society - $25,000
  • Canadian Broadcasing Corp (CBC) - $23,437
  • Facebook - $22,407
        But journalism instructor Rick MacLean calls this practice a form of government “spin” that can’t help but be aimed at garnering public support.
       
“Government and the spin industry are far better prepared, far better funded and, in some cases, unfortunately, far more sophisticated than the people who are receiving these messages and interpreting them,” MacLean says.
       
“The irony is, what they’re doing is they’re buying your support with your money.”
       
MacLean teaches journalism at Holland College and UPEI, and one of the courses he has developed is called “manipulation and the media.”
       
In it, he showcases real-life examples of how governments past and present use focused and targeted tactics to sell ideas and messages, often under the guise of public service or safety, but with the ultimate goal of selling political ideas to the public.
       
“I guarantee you every time a message arrives, there’s an agenda behind it,” MacLean said.
       
“Of course government should be telling us about what the services are, but inevitably you have this temptation, when you’ve got all this money and all this expertise and all this time and when you’ve got so much at stake – because it’s win or lose in politics – that as a result there’s this enormous temptation to sneak in that little bit of extra on the side that says, ‘Meanwhile, we’re the only ones who can do this for you and you should vote for us next time.’”
        The lion’s share of money spent on communications in P.E.I. goes to salaries.
       
Most of the province’s communications officers make between $59,000 and $83,000 a year. There are also a number of graphic designers, content creators and technical staff who help create and distribute government messaging.
       
Increasingly, these staffers have been creating content that is packaged to look and feel like news stories created by journalists. They include feature-style photos, many of which showcase government ministers and MLAs.
       
Government communications employees “covering” news events often outnumber the journalists who are present. A provincial photographer is always on hand for news conferences and, increasingly, so is a provincial videographer.
       
Last month, Education Minister Jordan Brown called a news conference to announce the province would be spending $2 million to clear a backlog of children in the school system waiting for psychological assessments.
       
After finishing a scrum with a handful of journalists, Brown was taken aside by a government communications staffer who conducted a TV-style interview with Brown and the provincial videographer for the province’s “coverage” of the event.
       
The communications branch of the P.E.I. government has been growing its video output, with a number of high-quality videos promoting provincial initiatives, often featuring politicians, appearing on the province’s official Youtube channel.
       
Communications staffers have also started regularly live-streaming news conferences and events, such as cabinet shuffles and speeches delivered by the premier.
       
For these initiatives they have purchased equipment, including $86,000 for video cameras and supporting equipment and thousands more on other image, audio and software purchases.
       
Despite having a team of dedicated communications staffers, the province also hires outside help for some of its media campaigns. A total of $128,000 was paid to photographers, musicians and creative services companies for ads like “Choose P.E.I.” and a radio ad recorded by the premier. Another $46,000 was paid to local advertising firm Results Marketing to create brochures and ads promoting government spending initiatives and programs.
       
After salaries, the most money goes to advertising.
       
Between Jan. 15, 2015 and May of 2017, the province spent more than $820,000 on ads and advertising initiatives.
       
The largest sums went to Newcap Radio, which owns the Ocean 100.3 and Hot 105.5 FM stations, and to Transcontinental Media, the former owner of The Guardian and the Journal-Pioneer. They were paid $295,773 and $290,669 for provincial advertisements, respectively.
       
Maritime Broadcasting Systems Ltd. (MBS) radio, which owns the Q93, CFCY and SPUD FM stations, was also a beneficiary of generous government advertising expenses at $104,876.
        But while larger sums are earmarked for local media organizations, a growing number has been spent on overseas companies for sponsored content. Government spent more than $22,000 to promote government programs and campaigns on Facebook. A further $11,200 was spent on Linkedin, $5,600 for Google advertising and more than $2,800 on Twitter ads.
       
The strategic plans for each of the province’s advertising campaigns include a detailed execution strategy, complete with targeted audiences, a “path to engagement” and a multi-pronged approach to publicity. This includes paid social media posts, which are feature stories written by government staff. Government sometimes pays to boost the visibility of these posts on social media platforms.
       
The province also purchases Google ads and the 30-second ad space at the beginning of YouTube videos.
       
Print and broadcast advertising in traditional media outlets is often used as well, which are the most expensive ad purchases.
       
Dagenais says the advertising budget within Communications P.E.I. has been steadily declining in recent years, which is why his team has been making greater use of lower-cost options like social media.
       
But using different platforms requires more creativity, he said.
       
“We’ve been asked by citizens to try make these messages as effective as we can. If you’re going to post things to social media, they have to be different than a press release,” Dagenais explained.
        “That’s why we would create the content somewhat differently if it’s primarily targeted to go out in a social media environment than it would be if it’s in a formal press release.”
        The province has recently created new “channels” on Facebook to try to attract larger, more targeted audiences.
        Dagenais says this is more effective than creating a Facebook page called “the Department of Family and Human Services” to get people to see and engage with their content.
        “Rather than putting up different channels for different departments, we wanted to create different channels for different audiences. So hopefully seniors who are using Facebook – and we know that is our fastest-growing audience – they could like that page and we could put things there that would be more specific to them.”
        MacLean says this kind of packaging is slipping dangerously close to “propaganda,” which can confuse the public and work to government’s advantage.
        “The government is trying to win the game one inch at a time,” he said.
        “And when the game is stacked, when you’ve got a public that is increasingly in the modern media world, struggling to understand the difference between news and this thing that looks just like news, and you’ve got media that are struggling with fewer people and increased demands… you have a very muddy place where it’s not clear who you’re supposed to trust and what is real news and what is just a well-disguised sales pitch.”

February 3, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' markets are open in Summerside and Charlottetown.  Bring your coolers and towels as you would in summer to keep things cool, but today to keep from freezing so fast.

Repair Cafe, 10AM-2PM, Stratford Town Hall Gym, free.
Facebook event details

Due to last night's icy weather, this was moved to today:
Tonight:
Free Kombucha at My Plum at My Duck Restaurant, 5-7PM, 218 University Avenue, Charlottetown.  Heart Beet Organics and the restaurant's thank-you and free tasting.
-------------------

Next week, provincial legislature Standing Committee meet (many for the first time after the Fall Sitting) and consider their work plans.  The departure of Bush Dumville (District 15), former Liberal caucus member and yeoman of most of these committees, the Cabinet shuffle in mid-January, and of course the election in Fall of the second Green Party member Hannah Bell (D11) after Education Minister Doug Currie's resignation has meant the reordering of most of them.  As Cabinet Ministers tend not to sit on them (with some exceptions), the make-up of most has changed a good bit.

All meetings are at the Coles Building (in the Legislative Chamber) unless otherwise noted, which is modified a bit for committee meetings, and the meetings are usually now (thanks to suggestions by D19 MLA and former interim PC Party leader Jamie Fox and others) livecast on the Legislative Assembly website.

Wednesday, February 7th,
Public Accounts Committee, 10AM-12noon.
This meeting was postponed from January 10th and the Cabinet Shuffle.  The members now include:
Brad Trivers (D18: Rustico-Emerald) is chair (the only Committee chaired by the Official Opposition), and included Hannah Bell, Kathleen Casey, Darlene Compton, Alan McIsaac, Hal Perry and Allen Roach

Thursday, February 8th:
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment, 10AM-12noon.
Members: Kathleen Casey (chair), Peter Bevan-Baker, Sidney MacEwen, Alan McIsaac, Pat Murphy, Hal Perry, Allen Roach and Brad Trivers.

Friday, February 9th:
Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges Standing Committee, 10AM-12noon.
Members: Kathleen Casey also chairs this one, with James Aylward, Hannah Bell, Sonny Gallant, Robert Henderson, Tina Mundy and Steven Myers.

Much more information on the Legislative Assembly and its committees, good to curl up with on a cold day, here: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/index.php3?lang=E
-----------

James Aylward, leader of the Official Opposition, has written a white paper recently called "Modernizing the House: Moving Towards a More Efficient and Inclusive Assembly".
Here is the direct link:
http://peipc.ca/docs/ModernizingTheHouse-Published_V2.pdf

Though not, I think, addressing voting system reform as in proportional representation, Aylward said he hopes to "to fuel public discussion about how we can modernize our Legislature and give Islanders the most effective and inclusive governance possible. I’ve asked for a full review of the Rules of the Legislative Assembly by the Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges that includes public engagement. Islanders elect the people who sit in the House so they should have a voice in the rules of the House also,” said Aylward. 
January 25th, 2018.  from:
http://peipc.ca/news/Aylward-releases-discussion-paper-on-legislative-reform/no/1

If you recall, the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, formed in the robust and better nature days of the early MacLauchlan government, WAS supposed to encourage public discussion and consultation on many of these issues, and a few organizations (Dawn Wilson on behalf of the PEI Coalition for Women in Government, and Darcie Lanthier) made presentations on the issues of the Assembly times and structure, and campaign financing reform, but the rest of us were so focused on electoral system change and put all our energy in that, and felt a bit hard done by when the special committee chair said the opportunity to engage in those issues had passed.  The Special Committee issued two special reports in November 2015, and April 2016, and the last transcripts are from before March 2016, less than a year after Spring 2015 provincial elections.

-------------------------------
The 32nd step toward a Plastic-Free Life is about hair colour: "Color hair with henna purchased without plastic packaging," and author Beth Terry has an interesting blog here.  And I'll leave it at that.
https://myplasticfreelife.com/2012/08/coloring-hair-with-henna-non-toxic-and-almost-plastic-free/

--------------------------------
Such a chestnut from Margaret Mead, but like all wonderful sayings (this from a short list of environmental quotes), it can be comforting and encouraging:

 
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
        --Margaret Mead (1901-1978), anthropologist

February 2, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Last day:
Housing needs on P.E.I., government survey, link here:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/service/give-your-input-housing-needs-pei

Tonight:
Free Kombucha at My Plum at My Duck Restaurant, 5-7PM, 218 University Avenue, Charlottetown.  Heart Beet Organics and the restaurant's thank-you for community support during the Liquor Act issue last week, and to offer people who are curious about it a free tasting.  If weather would change this event, check the Facebook group for details.
Facebook event details

Protecting Land:
Save the date (February goes by quickly):

Saturday, March 3rd:
Panel Discussion: "PEI Lands Protection Act: the Spirit and the Letter", 1-4PM
, Milton Community Hall, free, hosted by the Cooper Institute. "This symposium aims to clarify the need for legislation to faithfully reflect the intent and purpose (the spirit) of an act in the form of enforceable laws (the letter). Recent spirit/letter work in the formation of the newly passed PEI Water Act will provide lessons to understand better what is happening to the PEI Lands Protection Act (LPA)."   Panelists include Marie-Ann Bowman, Reg Phelan, Douglas Campbell and Edith Ling.  Music and light refreshments.

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

Protecting Sea:

Sometimes it seems there are two federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKennas. 

The Council of Canadians is reminding people:

BP (British Petroleum), the same company responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster that saw 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled, the death of 11 workers and devastating consequences for local fisheries, economies and communities, wants to explore offshore drilling (BP webpage here) off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia. Exploration could begin as early as Spring 2018. Not only is this the opposite direction we need to go in addressing climate change, it puts Nova Scotian waters, marine life and related good jobs at risk from a serious oil spill. BP wants to explore for oil at unprecedented depths, deeper than those of Deepwater Horizon, meanwhile our government refuses to insist on requiring corporations to cap an oil spill quickly. The U.S. requires oil companies to have blowout-capping equipment on site within 24 hour. BP will be allowed two weeks!

from: https://canadians.org/cpons

-------------------
January 24th, 2018, discussing "regulatory capture":

"Now, Environment and Climate Change Canada is attempting to move responsibility for environmental assessments to the un-elected and ill-equipped regulatory boards. This industry influence on policy is what has lead to regulatory capture in Canada." More here: https://canadians.org/blog/regulatory-capture-and-heist-offshore-nova-scotia

And Thursday, Malpeque MP Wayne Easter posted this on Facebook:

"PEI has many beautiful and important ecosystems across the island. Today, Enviornment (sic) and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced a call for proposals under numerous grant and contribution programs including the Atlantic Ecosystems Initiative. The AEI helps communities, Indigenous groups, academic and research institutions and coalition groups in their Atlantic Canada conservation efforts. Follow the link below to learn more!

Learn more: goo.gl/SYuSzx"

-The areas for the grants are more inland (Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and Saint John River), but the water is all connected....

--------------------------------------
from yesterday's paper, protecting land (part 2), from organic farmer Ranald MacFarlane:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/letter-pei-soils-need-organic-matter-182378/

LETTER: P.E.I. soils need organic matter - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

A study of soil conditions in P.E.I. has revealed that soil with only 2 to 3 per cent organic matter has gone from 10 per cent to 73 per cent since 1998. The soil is getting poorer.

We are told irrigation systems are only there as an insurance against dry weather. I would submit that irrigation systems are in place to push productivity in depleted soil.

If I were the provincial minister of agriculture, I would have it that all irrigation systems need a permit and there would be conditions to get that permit.

A three-year rotation with one year of forages (corn not considered a forage) would be required for irrigated land. An organic matter of better than 3 per cent would be required.

Organic matter holds water; so depleted soils do not have the carrying capacity to hold water so this makes for wasteful irrigation. Organic matter does a lot of other good things too.

What concerns me the most is that lots of former civilizations all turned to irrigation before they collapsed. The Romans, Mesopotamians, the Nile region of Egypt, all got into irrigation to push their fading resources but flamed out in the end. Lets’ not be them.

Ranald MacFarlane, Fernwood

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

The Plastic-Free Life has 100 steps, and  No. 31 is "Try hair slaves and pomades in metal tins or glass jars."  Or anything like that.  We have excellent local selections, but we could continue to ask for them to choose glass jars and metal containers over plastic ones.

--------------------------------
A friend in Nova Scotia posted this as reminder that today is Groundhog's Day; it's a tough poem to read but it may inspire some action, and hope.

If You Could Go Back

By Danny Bryck

I know, I know
If you could go back you
would walk with Jesus
You would march with King
Maybe assassinate Hitler
At least hide Jews in your basement
It would all be clear to you
But people then, just like you
were baffled, had bills
to pay and children they didn’t
understand and they too
were so desperate for normalcy
they made anything normal
Even turning everything inside out
Even killing, and killing, and it’s easy
for turning the other cheek
to be looking the other way, for walking
to be talking, and they hid
in their houses
and watched it on television, when they had television,
and wrung their hands
or didn’t, and your hands
are just like theirs. Lined, permeable,
small, and you
would follow Caesar, and quote McCarthy, and Hoover, and you would want
to make Germany great again
Because you are afraid, and your
parents are sick, and your
job pays sh** and where’s your
dignity? Just a little dignity and those kids sitting down in the highway,
and chaining themselves to
buildings, what’s their f***ing problem? And that kid
That’s King. And this is Selma. And Berlin. And Jerusalem. And now
is when they need you to be brave.
Now
is when we need you to go back
and forget everything you know
and give up the things you’re chained to
and make it look so easy in your
grandkids’ history books (they should still have them, kinehora)
Now
is when it will all be clear to them.

        --Danny Bryck, actor, performance poet, activist

first apparent posting on January 23rd, 2017, in the Jews of Color website
http://jocsm.org/if-you-could-go-back/

February 1, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Prime Minister and his cabinet dismissing electoral reform, ignoring (and actually being derisive about) the report and recommendations in the Report of the Standing Committee on Electoral Reform (December 2016).

from it:

Recommendation 12
Observation: The Committee acknowledges that, of those who wanted change, the overwhelming majority of testimony was in favour of proportional representation. The Committee recognizes the utility of the Gallagher Index, a tool that has been developed to measure an electoral system’s relative disproportionality between votes received and seats allotted in a legislature, as a means of assessing the proportionality of different electoral system options.

and the "ERRE Committee Report" has clear summaries and plenty of detail about its mandate, its meetings and findings, and its recommendations.

The Government response (signed by newly appointed Minster of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould), is undated but attached to the ERRE Report, and includes:

As stated in my mandate letter released publicly on February 1, 2017, “A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged.  Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest.”  Changing the electoral system is not in my mandate as Minister of Democratic Institutions<snip>

The Government will continue to focus its efforts to make our democracy stronger by removing barriers to voting, encouraging participation, and strengthening and safeguarding our democratic institutions.

-----

As one of the reasons Justin Trudeau rejected the committee's recommendations on PR was that it was just a few people, you could remind your MP that it's actually many citizens.

FairVote Canada supporters are visiting MPs offices both on Parliament Hill (where they are currently) and local offices (which have staff to receive visits and comments, and cards), if you wish to show up at any Island MP's local office about noonish.

Mail may be sent postage-free to any Member of Parliament at the following address:
[Name of Member of Parliament]
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON   K1A 0A6

More contact info for our Island MPs in Cardigan, Charlottetown, Egmont and Malpeque:

https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members/Lawrence-MacAulay(33)

https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members/Sean-Casey(71270)

https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members/Robert-J-Morrissey(88308)

https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members/Wayne-Easter(43)

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

LeadNow is having a "thunderclap" of huge amounts of messages -- more info here:

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/67216-pledge-to-vote-for-pr-in-2019

with lots of good background, too.

-----

And for fun, here is that cute video "Problems with First Past the Post Voting Explained" by CGP Grey, 6 and a half minutes (with the lions and other animals):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo&feature=share

-------------------------------
The thirtieth step to a plastic-free life  is to "Give up shampoo in plastic bottles."  Options include shampoo bars (again, our Island soap makers produce fantastic shampoo bars and they are actually quite economical and you aren't throwing armloads of bottles out every year), and there are some ungracefully named "no-poo" methods.  More info: 
https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
--------------------------------

"We won't have a society if we destroy the environment."
        -- Margaret Mead