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May 2015

Contents

  1. 1 May 31, 2015
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 1.2 Pipeline Company Rushes To Contain Oil Spill To Small Section Of Media - The Onion article
  2. 2 May 30, 2015
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 2.2 Tina Mundy a Big Loss to Cabinet - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 2.3 Glyphosate Cause for Concern - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  3. 3 May 29, 2015
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 3.2 Ethics Objectivity May Be Lacking - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 3.3 Strong argument for transparency - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  4. 4 May 28, 2015
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 4.2 Why the Liberals Lost the Potato Belt - The Graphic newspapers column by Allan Rankin
  5. 5 May 27, 2015
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 5.2 A Lesson in Prince Edward Island Politics 101- The Guardian column by Alan Holman
  6. 6 May 26, 2015
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  7. 7 May 25, 2015
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  8. 8 May 24, 2015
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 8.2 P.E.I. government's lending must be transparent - The Guardian Guest opinion by Kevin J. Arsenault
  9. 9 May 23, 2015
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 9.2 Organic:  What Does It Mean Now? - The Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie
  10. 10 May 22, 2015
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 10.2 Nothing Particularly Wrong with P.E.I.'s Electoral System - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Bulger
    3. 10.3 Electorate’s wishes rarely come true - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  11. 11 May 21, 2015
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  12. 12 May 20, 2015
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  13. 13 May 19, 2015
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  14. 14 May 18, 2015
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  15. 15 May 17, 2015
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 15.2 Pesticide industry blames politics as reason - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  16. 16 May 16, 2015
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  17. 17 May 15, 2015
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 17.2 Vote for Future Makes History on P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  18. 18 May 14, 2015
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  19. 19 May 13, 2015
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 19.2 Real majority demands change in P.E.I.'s electoral system - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  20. 20 May 12, 2015
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 20.2 Pesticide industry blames politics as reason - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 20.3 P.E.I.'s Water Act requires open, transparent process; mutual trust - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Catherine Ronahan and Maureen Larkin
  21. 21 May 11, 2015
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 21.2 5 Things You May Have Missed About Elon Musk’s Tesla Battery Announcement - Ecowatch article by Gina Coplon-Newfield
    3. 21.3 NB Power looks to small-scale renewable energy - CBC News
  22. 22 May 10, 2015
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  23. 23 May 9, 2015
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 23.2 We thumped the status quo, one vote at a time - The Graphic editorial by Paul MacNeill
  24. 24 May 8, 2015
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  25. 25 May 7, 2015
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 25.2 Other political parties deserve chance - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 25.3 Tenth time lucky for the Green Party’s Peter Bevan-Baker - MacLean's Magazine article by Luc Rinaldi
  26. 26 May 6, 2015
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  27. 27 May 5, 2015
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  28. 28 May 4, 2015
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  29. 29 Do I get time off from work to vote?
  30. 30 May 3, 2015
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 30.2 Reasonable exceptions to pesticide bylaw - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  31. 31 May 2, 2015
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 31.2 Islanders Need Honest MLAs -The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  32. 32 May 1, 2015
    1. 32.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News

May 31, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some Sunday morning reading:
The 180-page environmental impact assessment (EIA) document regarding a new fertilizer-holding building in New Annan.  Two local environmental consulting firms produced the report and are manuevering the project through the EIA process. 
http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/cle_fertiliz_ei.pdf
There were ten days since the notice in the paper was published (Monday), which means about four days left. 
No, I can't see many citizens having the chance to read and submit comments.  Perhaps *that* should be the comment submitted to our new Communities, Land and Environment Minister, Robert Mitchell.
rjmitchell@gov.pe.ca

The page about the project from the Department:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/environment/index.php3?number=1053488&lang=E


This blog by a central Canadian comments on federal concerns with interesting essays:
https://hopecanada.wordpress.com/

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The group Friends of the CBC has video of interviews with the federal party leaders (oh, except Stephen Harper) about their plans for the CBC here:
http://www.friends.ca/commitments
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and just for fun, from the satire publication The Onion:
http://www.theonion.com/article/pipeline-company-rushes-contain-oil-spill-small-se-50491

Pipeline Company Rushes To Contain Oil Spill To Small Section Of Media - The Onion article

by Onion staff writers, published on-line on Thursday, May 21st, 2015

GOLETA, CA—In an effort to minimize the impact of the disaster occurring along the California coastline, Plains All American Pipeline officials rushed this week to contain the oil spill to a small section of the media. “Crews are working around the clock to prevent information about the incident from spreading beyond the inside pages of newspapers and the final minutes of news programs,” said CEO Greg Armstrong, adding that the company deeply regretted that the crude spill had seeped into the news cycle and that it was devoting all its resources to stopping the slick from expanding into lead stories. “Our top priority is to do everything in our power to make sure this oil spill is restricted to a 30-second segment or 150-word article at most. Once it’s contained, we have specialized teams that can quickly and safely remove it from the news and limit any damage it could cause.” At press time, the company was scrambling to shut down the flow of oil-soaked pelican photos that was entering the mainstream media.


Global Chorus for today is a poem by Zero Mile Diet author Carolyn Herriot:

Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Have you forgotten who you are?
That you are a multidimensional spiritual being inhabiting a highly
evolved human body?
The unborn babies, the sick children and the demented elderly are
calling you to remember.
Have you forgotten why you are here?
That you are here to learn Love.
To learn how to Respect and live in Harmony with
other sentient
beings.
Mother Earth, the polluted air and dying oceans are
calling you to
remember.
Have you forgotten what to do?

Simply go back to the garden
Reconnect to Nature.
Learn to Love yourself.
Nurture your miraculous body.
Put LOVE into action.
Shift from “Me” to “We.”
Participate in the transformation of Human
Consciousness
And together sow seeds of Hope to create a world of
Peace & Plenty
for future generations.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are
billion year old carbon,
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the
garden.

— Joni Mitchell
Bless Us All!

--Carolyn Herriot


Best wishes, and if you can, stop by the Citizens' Alliance Spring Social from 4-6PM at Bonshaw Community Centre this afternoon, 25 Green Road.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1830639387161341/

May 30, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here is a reprinting of these events over the next few days:
Today and tomorrow:
Climate Change in Culture Conference a
t UPEI, $25 for day pass, details here: http://www.climatechangeinculture.com/#!schedule/cee5

Today, Saturday, May 30th:
Bain Bird Count, all day
, sponsored by NaturePEI, more details here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/446968638791519/

Macphail Woods Plant Walk, 10AM, Kate MacQuarrie will lead the walk, free.

Herb Day, 10AM - 4PM, Farm Centre, Charlottetown, free, but stuff for sale: transplants, lunch snacks, raw juice, seed exchange.
Workshops:
10 am - Karen Murchison on healthy garden soil.
11:30 am - Jen Campbell on caring for transplants.
12 - 1 pm - Josie Baker on seed saving, seed exchange from 1 - 2:30.
1 - 2 pm - Chef Robert on preserving herbs.
2-3 pm -  Gail Kerns on designing a a herb garden.
3 - 4 pm - Community Food Security Initiatives described --"gleaning", other opportunities.

Tomorrow, Sunday, May 31st:
Citizens' Alliance Spring Social, 4-6PM, Bonshaw Community Centre 25 Green Road, free (but donations accepted).  Conversation and snacks! All welcome. 


A farewell and best wishes to Gary MacDougall, who is retiring as managing editor of The Guardian this week.  He will continue to write an occasional column.  (The staff must have been preoccupied as today's paper has a couple of gaffes likes switched headlines (page A2) and stories ran twice under the same headline (page A4).)
---------
There is an ad in the paper for a PEI Liberal Party fundraising dinner for next week (page A10), tickets $1,000, including the line "Cost of ticket includes your guest."  For $1,000, one should get a really interesting guest.  OK, so it's only $500 apiece, which leads to this letter also about money and politics:

F
rom Wednesday's Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-27/article-4161131/Tina-Mundy-a-big-loss-to-cabinet/1

Tina Mundy a Big Loss to Cabinet - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

I find it to be a very sad situation when a financially-struggling single mom is forced to step out of cabinet. If Tina Mundy had been able to stay, then the cabinet would better reflect the diversity of the Island's population — we aren't all rich men in stable homes.

Maybe she could have been a voice for the disadvantaged, brought a little more compassion to her party’s decisions, and brought in the often-marginalized perspective of a single mother. It’s a shame that Premier MacLauchlan considers that to be “a compromised position” unworthy of cabinet. After all, her resignation statement said she is taking the appropriate steps to address the matter.

Being out of money doesn't mean you should be excluded from public decision-making. A potential conflict of interest could have been declared, and like in the private sector, she could have stood aside for decisions relevant to that conflict, instead of feeling the need to resign her cabinet position entirely.

It would have been better if the news was out in the open during the campaign.

I wish she hadn't felt like this was something shameful she needed to hide.

Being short on cash is a reality for many, no shame in that.

Her sudden departure from cabinet sends a clear and unfortunate message to the young, the disadvantaged, the poor and the struggling: your voice is not welcome in politics.

This game is for rich folks only. Don't even try.

Anna Keenan, Hunter River


And on the very common pesticide, Round-Up:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-28/article-4162246/Glyphosate-cause-for-concern/1

Glyphosate Cause for Concern - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, May 28th, 2015 in The Guardian

Through the past winter's blizzards there has been a parade of experts snowing Islanders with the good news that pesticides don't hurt the environment and offer little risk.

Speaking with the confidence of statistic, the authority of science and the certainty of propagandist, the experts were far from convincing. Their favourite pesticide was always glyphosate.

Now, to rain on the parade, a panel of 17 scientists working for the International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that there is sufficient evidence to classify glyphosate as a class-2A carcinogen.
One panel member, University of Toronto professor of epidemiology John McLaughlin, said lab tests swayed the decision but since there were no large scale studies on humans, glyphosate couldn't be classified as a class-1 carcinogen.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT has studied the effects of glyphosate on bacterial populations in the human intestine. A video interview of Dr. Seneff by Jeffery Smith on YouTube addresses the connections between gut bacteria, glyphosate, the brain/gut axis, and a GMO diet.
Dr. Seneff has found that glyphosate disrupts gut bacteria biochemistry, thereby creating micro nutrient imbalances which causes some bacteria to produce toxins, plus other gastrointestinal problems. Dr. Seneff has identified biochemical pathways and mechanism that glyphosate alters for the following diseases: obesity, mood disorders and behaviour problems, immune dysfunction such as multiple sclerosis and gluten intolerance, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's and autism.

The lymphatic system and liver must filter glyphosate out once it enters our bloodstream. Pigs fed GMO feed, by definition sprayed with glyphosate, when slaughtered, have enlarged discoloured livers which have a horrible smell.

All the foregoing diseases are unintended consequences of a risky technology out of control with immense cost, especially if you are a casualty. Citing public health, Health Canada must act to protect Canadians.    

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart 


From Global Chorus today, 

"<snip> Physics reveals that all things are interconnected, from the galactic level to the sub-atomic. And psychology shows connection is the essential ingredient for a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose.  We know connection to the Earth inspires wonder and awe.  It is the connection that drives many of us to do the work we do.

In the words of Rachel Carson, 'Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.'  As more and more people feel a deep sense of connection to this planet, solutions to the ecological crisis will become limitless."-- Melanie Fitzpatrick, author, climate educator

May 29, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here are some good letters to the editor recently:

At the end of March, Premier Wade MacLauchlan announced a new office of ethics commissioner, indicating that this officer's responsibilities would include "dealing with expense and conflict of interest disclosure within the public service...work to strengthen the code of conduct and oath of office."  News story:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/p-e-i-premier-appoints-ethics-commissioner-1.3017037
----------
and a letter commenting:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-23/article-4155776/Ethics-objectivity-might-be-lacking/1

Ethics Objectivity May Be Lacking - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

published on Saturday, May 23rd, 2015, in The Guardian

We recognize that Premier MacLauchlan might be sincere and well intentioned in his recent appointment of an ethics commissioner, but it does raise an obvious question. How can a bureaucratic insider, hand-picked by the premier, appointed by the premier, and reporting to the premier, be expected to bring objective judgment to the task of assessing the ethical tenor of the premier and his ministers?

Further, in announcing the appointment of the new commissioner the premier spoke with almost mind-numbing obscurity about the move. He said he saw recent changes, “as a confirmation of the professionalism, talent and ethical standards that have been practised in government over time,” then added, “this is really making clear things that have already been in place and have been well practised.”

One can only hope that the premier isn’t actually saying what it sounds like he might be saying - that the appointment of an ethics commissioner is entirely consistent with the ethical manner in which recent governments have been acting all along.

One also hopes that this type of "spin" is not to be an ongoing feature of the premier’s communication with the public.

David Weale, Vision P.E.I.


On a different topic: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-25/article-4158076/Strong-argument-for-transparency/1

Strong argument for transparency - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, May 25th, 2015, in The Guardian

Re: Loan transparency double standard. In his opinion piece concerning loan transparency, dated May 21 2015, Kevin Arsenault makes a strong and persuasive argument for increased transparency when risking taxpayer dollars on business ventures.  

Beyond questioning whether government should be in the lending business, Mr. Arsenault’s article made me question why the government would publish the names of those who have fallen behind in their property taxes and yet do everything in their power to avoid disclosing who is defaulting on business loans. This is especially puzzling when you consider the size of these loans when compared to the size of individual property tax arrears.  

The government seems to be taking the position that privacy and confidentiality of businesses are more important than those of individual taxpayers – a troubling attitude, to say the least.

Don Carroll, Rice Point


Global Chorus today is by Joel Bakan, a Canadian jazz musician and law professor, author of books about corporate behaviour, http://www.joelbakan.com/ and who writes:

"Finding a way past current global crises, and creating conditions necessary for good, just and sustainable societies, requires, at a minimum, restoring the authority, integrity and legitimacy of public democratic institutions. We need to actively resist the creeping logic of private ordering and collapsing public spheres; to understand, for example, that corporate social responsibility and sustainability programs cannot replace mandatory public regulations; that privatized public services cannot replace public delivery; that consumer preferences in markets cannot replace citizen participation in democratic institutions.

At the moment, our governments and public institutions, unduly influenced by the needs and perspectives of big business, are justifiably mistrusted as protectors and promoters of public interests. That needs to change. We need to reoccupy government and the public sphere, push back the current occupation by big business, and then begin work to solve the world's problems, collectively. That is, after all, what democracy has always envisioned and required of us." -- Joel Bakan


The P.E.I.Legislature opens next Wednesday, June 3rd, at 2PM, with the Speech From the Throne. Thursday will be a "regular" day with the House sitting from 2-5PM and 7-9PM.

May 28, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Events:
Today, and each day through Sunday:
Climate Change in Culture Conference a
t UPEI, $25 for day pass, details here: http://www.climatechangeinculture.com/#!schedule/cee5

Saturday, May 30th:
(something for the birder, and the plant-lover both wild and garden)
Bain Bird Count, all day, sponsored by NaturePEI, more details here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/446968638791519/

Macphail Woods Plant Walk, 10AM, Kate MacQuarrie will lead the walk, free.

Herb Day, 10AM - 4PM, Farm Centre, Charlottetown, free, but stuff for sale: transplants, lunch snacks, raw juice, seed exchange.
Workshops:
10 am - Karen Murchison on healthy garden soil.
11:30 am - Jen Campbell on caring for transplants.
12 - 1 pm - Josie Baker on seed saving, seed exchange from 1 - 2:30.
1 - 2 pm - Chef Robert on preserving herbs.
2-3 pm -  Gail Kerns on designing a a herb garden.
3 - 4 pm - Community Food Security Initiatives described --"gleaning", other opportunities.

Sunday, May 31st:
Citizens' Alliance Spring Social, 4-6PM, Bonshaw Community Centre 25 Green Road, free (but donations accepted).  Conversation, chat with others, including District 17 MLA Peter Bevan-Baker about the upcoming Legislative Assembly sitting  and other issues; all welcome!

Bonshaw Ceilidh, 7-9PM, Bonshaw Hall, Green Road and TCH, admission by donation. Variety of music, good time.

Tuesday, June 2nd:
NaturePEI monthly meeting, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, featured speaker, all welcome.


From this week's Graphic newspapers, Allan Rankin's column.  Bolding is mine but the whole article is very interesting:
http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_bf9d5bc6-03c8-11e5-8fc0-736f4c14a7fb.html

Why the Liberals Lost the Potato Belt - The Graphic newspapers column by Allan Rankin

Published on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Much of Prince Edward Island’s potato industry is concentrated in the central part of the province, in rural Queens and eastern Prince Counties. You will find many of our bigger potato farms there, in the gently rolling hills, as well as the massive Cavendish Farms processing plant, located near Kensington.

It’s a region often referred to as the potato belt.

If you lay an electoral map over this part of the province, you will discover it’s comprised of four contiguous districts, adjacent to one another, and in the recent provincial election the ruling Liberals lost all four of those districts.

The Liberals lost the potato belt.

In fact, I can’t recall an Island political party losing all of those rural seats and still forming a government.

It was a stunning defeat for a Liberal government whose policies were heavily influenced by potato farmers and their industry. I believe it was a strong message to the new administration of Premier Wade MacLauchlan that unsustainable, dangerous farming practices are unacceptable to the majority of Island voters.

Islanders will live with the growing and processing of potatoes, however, they are now insisting clean air and water, and healthy rivers and streams, are of utmost importance to their families and communities.

The potato belt districts were all won by sizable margins.
Candidate Jamie Fox took Borden-Kinkora. That district was previously represented by George Webster, Minister of Agriculture in the Ghiz government. The losing Liberal candidate Ramona Roberts operates a chain of small convenience stores. Her husband, Austin, is a prominent potato farmer in the Kinkora area.
Roberts, I am told, was handpicked by the Liberal leadership.

Next door in Kelly’s Cross-Cumberland, Minister of Community Services and Seniors Valerie Docherty, was crushed by Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, whose platform included a new and more environmentally sustainable vision for Island agriculture.
Docherty’s husband is chairman of the PEI Potato Board and a major potato grower.

In the district of Kensington-Malpeque, where the Cavendish Farms processing plant employs hundreds, Liberal candidate James Montgomery failed to hold the seat vacated by former Minister of Finance Wes Sheridan.
During his time in Cabinet, Sheridan had strongly supported the interests of the Irving-owned Cavendish Farms plant as well as the potato industry in general.

But it was in the district of Rustico-Emerald where the potato industry establishment suffered its strongest rebuke, and where future influence around the Cabinet table by the potato industry was denied. Bertha Campbell, an award winning farmer and staunch defender of current farming practices, was defeated by Conservative Brad Trivers.
I have been told Premier Wade MacLauchlan was particularly disappointed with her loss, perhaps having pencilled her in as the next Minister of Agriculture.

When he assumed leadership of the Liberal Party a few months ago, MacLauchlan spoke about the 10 lenses through which he would view policy options. In other words, the criteria for defining sound and appropriate government decisions and action.

To the surprise and dismay of many Islanders, environmental sustainability and protection were not among those policy lenses, and during the recent election campaign, MacLauchlan tiptoed around environmental issues.

In the televised debates, he outlined a lengthy and vague process for the adoption of a provincial Water Act, and the premier appears open to lifting the present moratorium on deep water wells, if science supports such action.

Unfortunately, current technologies don’t allow us to map the sources or movement of fresh water underground and therefore, at best, the science government musters will be dubious.

The potato industry contributes hundreds of millions to the Island economy each year, and no one should disregard that economic impact, or the livelihood of potato farmers. But in this age of mechanization and larger acreages, the demographic reality is farmers now constitute a small part of the rural population, and their voting power is far weaker than it once was.

I hope our new Liberal government does the political calculus here.
I realize that de-constructing elections can be complicated.

But it may be that losing the four potato belt districts for the Liberals had something to do with government policy, that until now, has favoured the potato industry, at the expense of farming practices that are both unsustainable and environmentally destructive.

It may have had something to do with Islanders’ fear that someday there will be potatoes in the pot to boil, but no water to boil them in, or even worse, no water from the tap that’s fit to drink.

One of Rob Lantz’s finest moments during the recent campaign was his decisive commitment not to license further deep well irrigation systems.

When our three new potato belt Conservative MLAs join their caucus, and take their seats in the legislature, they will have an opportunity to give their leader’s position some meaning.

The fourth potato belt member, Mr Bevan-Baker, put forward the most rationale and sophisticated plan for the future of Island agriculture of all the party leaders, and after all, he is Green.

Premier MacLauchlan urgently needs to find an environmental lens, and put it to use, before the Million Acre Farm begins to resemble an industrial wasteland.


American biologist E.O. Wilson has been discovered so much about the natural world in his long, long career, most notably about ants and their behaviour, and is a champion of biodiversity.  He writes for today's Global Chorus essay:

"Humanity is in a strange period at the present time (2013), which I hope will prove to be only a brief interval. We’ve awakened to the critical state of Earth's environment in general, but by for the larger part of public and scientific attention is focused on the physical part, for example, on climate change, pollution and resource shortage, as opposed to biodiversity -- Earth's variety of ecosystems, species and genes. In a phrase we are destroying much of the rest of life, a unique and precious part of our natural heritage. Forever." -- Edward O. Wilson

May 27, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There was energy in the room at the FairVote/Leadnow meeting last night, with people of all ages discussing the recent provincial election, areas of potential voter reform, and the upcoming federal election this fall.  Sounds like there will be several opportunities for public information and discussion sessions over the coming months. Stay tuned.
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There is a conference that is open to the public called "Climate Change in Culture" taking place at UPEI, Thursday to Sunday, May 28th to May 31st.
http://www.climatechangeinculture.com/
"Hosted on beautiful Prince Edward Island, Climate Change in Culture will bring together scholars from across the humanities and beyond to discuss climate and climate change in the contexts of contemporary humanities scholarship. Paying particular attention to the cultural implications of climate and to cultural, political, and societal responses to climate change, we will explore how humanities-based scholarship can be brought to bear upon the evolving reality of climate change. Conference events include keynote talks given by internationally renowned climate and culture scholars, traditional academic papers and presentations, and a variety of interdisciplinary and multimedia performances."

The diverse group of speakers is listed here:
http://www.climatechangeinculture.com/#!schedule/cee5
There is a $25 per day (plus $3.50 HST) fee for a daily pass to attend sessions, which is great and actually much lower than many conferences.
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Today: Reminder there is a lunch and learn at Farm Centre on general stores, 12:30-2PM, free.


Alan Holman's Guardian column from Saturday, regarding MLA Tina Mundy being removed from Cabinet the day after being appointed:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Columnists/2015-05-23/article-4155784/A-lesson-in-Prince-Edward-Island-Politics-101/1

A Lesson in Prince Edward Island Politics 101- The Guardian column by Alan Holman

Published on Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Poor Tina, she didn’t even make it to Monday.

Flying high on Wednesday as the newly-minted minister of education, Tina Mundy crashed to earth on Thursday when it became known she has financial problems serious enough for her to start down the path to personal bankruptcy.

The question that must be asked is, who’s at fault in this kind of a debacle? Is it Tina Mundy for not coming clean about her financial health? Was she even asked any questions about her capacity to accept a position of public trust.

Tina Mundy, no matter what else anyone may say about her, certainly has a lot of chutzpah. Her financial problems didn’t begin this week or even this month. You need a lot of brass to be in her situation and still go door to door, charming the people of Summerside into voting for you. She won with a credible 244 vote margin. No coin toss needed for her to claim her seat.

And it’s also clear she charmed Wade MacLauchlan. He was prepared to pass over five other MLAs from Prince County in order to give her a seat at the cabinet table.

While the premier bears the responsibility for this mess, one has to ask, who are his political advisors? Or is he doing it all on his own? And what about the people in his office? His chief of staff, principal secretary, or whatever title Robert Vessey carries. Did he not do any checks on the people selected? Was there any kind of a vetting process in place?

Serious concerns are being expressed about Wade MacLauchlan’s political judgement. The campaign he just completed was a lacklustre effort that resulted in a government elected with the lowest percentage of the popular vote in the history of the Island. Only west of Summerside did Liberals win with more than 50 per cent of the vote.

The lacklustre campaign was followed by the appointment of what appears to be a lacklustre cabinet. Hopefully this will prove to be otherwise. As always when the premier creates a cabinet he also creates some very disappointed people.

But on Wednesday he also created a very disappointed region.

People in the region euphemistically referred to as being ‘west of the bullrush curtain,’ an area that voted Liberal in spades, found out they didn’t have a cabinet minister. In addition to having MLAs upset for not getting into cabinet, Premier MacLauchlan, in his role as leader of the Liberal Party, may have inadvertently snubbed a huge portion of the Liberal membership. There are more card carrying Liberals in West Prince than any other region of the province. And by Wednesday evening they were all irate.

West Prince is somewhat isolated from the centre of the province, and this gives it a sense of cohesiveness not found, or readily understood, in the rest of the Island. The region is accustomed to having strong representatives in the cabinet. People like Bob Campbell, Allison Ellis, George Henderson, Bobby Morrissey and Keith Milligan.

And, as former cabinet minister Neil Leclair found out, West Prince gets rid of those who are perceived to be Charlottetown’s man in the region, instead of the region’s man in Charlottetown.

By replacing Tina Mundy with Hal Perry from Tignish, the premier may think he has assuaged the bruised feelings of the people in West Prince. But, he should know they will not soon forget the original slight of ignoring them in the first place.

The province is small and should be relatively easy to govern, but Island politics are nuanced, and playing politics here is more art than science. To be a scientist you have to have intelligence, to be an artist you have to have talent.

We know the premier is smart, we’ve yet to see if he has the political talent to get the job done.

- Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: acholman@pei.eastlink.ca


Erin Schrode is a self-titled "ecoRenaissance woman" and encourages young people to work on sustainability issues. She writes in today's Global Chorus:

"The opportunities for discovery and impact are limitless  – and the need for action by individuals, corporations, government, all actors on both local and global scales is critical. When a person makes the conscious choice to not stand apathetically in the face of injustice or wrongdoing, he or she changes the future of our world."-- Erin Schrode

May 26, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Roger Gordon, who has been working against cosmetic pesticides and lives in Stratford, wrote that is does not matter whether people live in Charlottetown because what Charlottetown does other municipalities will emulate as they are working on a common bylaw.
Roger also sent a Word document with the amendment; it is not anywhere on-line so I have passed it along, too. 
attached: Rich Text Format of Ch'town cosmetic pesticide bylaw with amendment

You may not be aware of this, but when the City of Charlottetown passed first reading of its proposed bylaw on cosmetic pesticides, it slipped in an amendment that would allow people to spray their lawns with the same old chemicals that concern us in the event of an "infestation." Pesticide Free PEI feels this is an unnecessary and potentially dangerous provision that, in effect, could allow spraying to go on as usual. True, the clauses contain specific conditions under which permission for this may be granted, but I have lived around here long enough to know that these will be circumvented due to the cronyism that persists within the close knit community in which we live. Here is how I (and Pesticide Free PEI) see it:

* There are no circumstances under which the condition of a lawn should supersede human health and the environment.

*There are plenty of organic alternatives to ridding a lawn of dandelions and pest insects if that is the aim of the activity.

*Halifax HRM does not contain such a provision and this is what Council seems to be modelling its legislation upon. HRM's "exceptions" to the lawn spraying ban revolve around damage to property (structure of the home) whereas communities here have only been granted authority to regulate what happens on lawns.

* Councillor Doiron is on record as saying that he has to look after the desires of those constituents who want to spray. He does not. True leadership means doing the right thing.

*Whatever Ch'tn does, other municipalities will follow and this amendment will become part of a broader set of bylaws.

If you can see your way to emailing or otherwise contacting Councillors and even sending a letter to the Editor of The Guardian, that would be greatly appreciated.

Council will be giving second reading to the bylaw in early June and its important that they ditch these amendments.

I attach them (3.4, 6.1d).

Best regards,

Roger

Here is a link to the City of Charlottetown's Mayor and Councillors' page:
http://www.city.charlottetown.pe.ca/mayorandcouncil.php
Here is a link to a handout on the cosmetic pesticide issue, with local information attach:
https://thehealthhackers.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/why_cosmetic_pesticides_are_a_bad_idea-final-2.pdf



Piers Guy, a wind farm developer from Wales, writes an interesting perspective in today's Global Chorus:

"A recent discussion with an eminent climate scientist gave me hope. He said that extreme climate change scenarios predicted a few years ago are now less likely in the short to medium term. Phew! The problem is still enormous but maybe our climate system is more resilient than first feared. So let’s take this undeserved reprieve and have a new culture to reflect a new era; where the majority of our (reduced) consumption is sustainable with any environmental impacts either avoided or properly mitigated. This is the approach I try and work with in my own industry of wind farming.

Generating electricity from the wind is sustainable, but there are impacts, real and perceived, and addressing them provides wonderful opportunities for all kinds of creativity: like the creation and enhancement of large-scale wildlife habitats around the wind farm that otherwise would not have happened and community and educational initiatives which build upon what the local community really values long-term. 

Applying a sustainable approach to business does mean less financial profit and a consumer base that begins to pay the real cost for goods. It is not likely without multilateral regulation. But to get to this point, we need to start as individuals who make good choices and understand that happiness and well-being are not inextricably linked to material wealth. We must recognize that our population is excessive, and know that biodiversity is essential for our survival and our happiness.

We could socialize, shop, travel, have babies and even do Christmas differently! his is activism in our own homes. By communicating, demonstrating, lobbying and voting we can change things. I have hope that there is a majority of people out there who would be quite prepared to rid themselves of a lot of their consumerist paraphernalia in exchange for a more balanced, happy and healthier life and planet." -- Piers Guy

And a two-minute unusual commercial with a surprising ending of identity and purposefulness, if you haven't seen it already:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzU5VBfkPO8


Tonight is a FairVote meeting at the Haviland Club, 7PM, all welcome.

May 25, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some e-mail addresses kept bouncing messages back, so if you didn't get the Citizens' Alliance News Sunday, May 24th, it is here:
http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/c-a-news

----------
Tomorrow:
FairVote meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club -- all welcome!  Surely no shortage of topics regarding our elections.


This was passed my way, by marine biologist Irene Novaczek (among other wonderful titles), to purchase seaweed flakes from Island business North Atlantic Organics, up at North Cape:

"Hi Chris. I am ordering up bags of seaweed flakes from Joe Dorgan in Tignish.

http://www.naorganics.com is Joe's website with info. The offer of $30 a bag (30 kg or about 50 lb bag) is a reduced / local price relative to the list price on the website. The flakes are a mix of kelp, rockweed, Irish moss and Furcellaria. Also suitable for feeding pets and other animals, especially the elderly or immune compromised and any beast with cancer. In the garden the flakes are super easy and convenient to use. Sow in furrow when planting seeds, place in holes before transplants to strengthen root and shoot development. Top dress through the growing season or soak in water to make a foliar feed to improve fruit set, leaf and flower development, flavour; deter aphids ; improve resistance to fungal diseases, retain soil moisture during drought, raise micro-nutrient content, keep worms happy."

Orders can be placed with Irene Novaczek (inovaczek@upei.ca) for a potential Summerside delivery this Saturday, or Pauline Howard through Facebook for potential delivery in Charlottetown at the Farm Centre (I'll have been contact details tomorrow), or by calling Joe Dorgan directly at (902) 853-6394.
---

The company's website and the four minute video of the process is very informative.  It also reminded me of how important it is to protect our beautiful Island coastline.


Today's Global Chorus is good to read in its entirely:

"Every good chorus has a director  – but how do we create a global, democratic chorus?

All too often, people speak of 'global citizenship,' but fail to talk of citizenship structures for:
1. Common welfare
2. Common biosphere stewardship
3. Common security
4. Common decision-making

Many peace and ecology advocates look at the UN and see only its failings. They don’t realize that earlier peace advocates, like Jane Addams, worked long and hard to create global democratic structures to enhance the lives of all people on Earth. Many people think the UN and global co-operation have achieved nothing. They are wrong. We have created treaties that have eliminated atmospheric nuclear testing, and have just about done away with any nuclear tests since 1996. The nations of the world agreed in 1968 to negotiate seriously for nuclear disarmament. We need a renewed global chorus of voices to call for disarmament and a conversion to a global peace economy.

One crucial element of a global peace economy is the elimination of the extreme poverty affecting the poorest one billion people  – one seventh  – of the planet.

Through the UN Millennium Development goals process of 2000–2015, we have continued to substantially reduce illiteracy, deaths of children under 5 and deaths from hunger and malnutrition. Smallpox has been eliminated, and polio has been reduced by 99 per cent since 1988, with entire continents polio-free.

In 2015 we need to renew and extend these objectives into the Sustainable Development Goals. We need to complete the previous goals and add new ones to deal with the looming ecological and resource crisis, as well as include goals on nuclear weapons and reducing arms and conflict. But we should go beyond this, and talk of stronger global law, openly arrived at, and a global parliament, directly elected.

Let’s take a pause from singing so that we can get on the same page with a common song. And when we get there, let’s sing as loudly as we can – a song by, of and for all of us on our planet." -- Jim Barton, Smith Mill Creek Institute
https://sites.google.com/site/smithmillcreekinstitute/home

May 24, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Just a reminder that the:
Citizens' Alliance Spring Social, one week from today! 
Sunday, May 31st, 4-6PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, a chance to chat before the Spring Sitting of the Legislature and before summer begins!
https://www.facebook.com/events/1830639387161341/
----------
P.E.I. Senators Libby Hubley and Percy Downe explain why they are voting *against* Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Bill in their news release here:
http://senatorelizabethhubley.ca/news-release-senators-downe-and-hubley-to-vote-against-c-51/
But here are the numbers in the Senate:



screenshot from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_standings_in_the_Canadian_Senate 
I am assuming that Independent seat in P.E.I. is for Mike Duffy, one of three who is listed as suspended, remaining senators but unpaid and unable to debate or vote.

A very good letter from ethicist Kevin Arsenault:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-21/article-4154073/P.E.I.-governments-lending-must-be-transparent/1

P.E.I. government's lending must be transparent - The Guardian Guest opinion by Kevin J. Arsenault

Published on Thursday, May 21st, 2015

An open letter to Premier Wade MacLauchlan:

Dear Premier:

My sincere congratulations on your recent election victory becoming premier elect of a majority Liberal government!

I am writing this letter on behalf of all Islanders who trust that you were sincere in your promise to govern with the highest degree of accountability and transparency. With this in mind, I am asking that you take immediate action regarding how the government handles the matter of writing off and/or cancelling government debts.

The Auditor General recently provided insightful information in her 2015 Annual report concerning the lack of transparency and accountability with how the provincial government either writes off or cancels debts. Although the Auditor General is required to report the total amount of debt cancelled by the provincial government, she was unable to disclose all these amounts because government is keeping this information secret.

The Financial Administration Act gives the Lieutenant Governor in Council authorization to either write off or cancel debts. A write off simply removes a debt from the books while the borrower remains legally obligated to repay; a “cancelled” debt removes the obligation to repay the debt. When a Lieutenant Governor in Council approval for debt cancellation is sought, an Order in Council is issued and becomes part of the public record. And herein lies the problem: many government debts are being cancelled illegally without approval from the Lieutenant Governor in Council and are never made public.

Prior to the 2005-06 fiscal year, government departments and crown corporations consistently sought approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council for all debt write-offs and cancellations. Until 2002-03, these requests contained the names of the debtors, but since 2002-03 the names of the debtors have not been included in requests. Since 2006-07, government lending organizations have not sought approval from the Lieutenant Governor in Council for any debt write-offs or cancellations.

So, for more than a decade, Islanders have been kept in the dark concerning the cancellation of many government debts while there has been nearly a doubling of the amount of government money loaned: from $228 million in 2003-04 to $443 million in 2013-14, an increase of 94 per cent.

Although the former P.E.I. Lending Agency (now Finance P.E.I.) was delegated the authority to write off debts for accounting purposes, no specific delegation of authority to cancel debts has ever been enacted. Approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council is therefore still legally required for debt cancellation. But this is not happening. For the 2013-14 fiscal year, the board of directors of Finance P.E.I. authorized the cancellation of 3.7 million of debt, which means that this is taxpayer's money owed to the government that can never be recovered. Think about it: in just one year 3.7 million of taxpayer's money was given to a select number of people as a free-and-clear gift and under the current illegal practice of debt cancellation there is absolutely no way for any of us, not even the Auditor General, to find out why these debts were forgiven or who the debtors are!

Premier, given your promise that your government will be accountable and transparent, will you please do the following:

1. Clarify in law that all debt cancellation by government departments and crown corporations must be done through application to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and must include the names of the debtors so this information will be made part of the public record available to the Auditor General and all Islanders, and;

2. Compile and make public a report containing the names and amounts of all cancelled government debts (which have so far been kept secret) for all debts forgiven by the P.E.I. government from 2006-07 to the present.

I look forward to seeing positive changes being made with this important issue of government debt cancellation as well as many other improvements to government I am sure you will make as premier of our province.

Kevin J. Arsenault of Fort Augustus obtained his PhD in Ethics from McGill University


Ricken Patel writes for today's Global Chorus; he is the executive director of Avaaz http://www.avaaz.org/en/ , which is a global civics organization hosting petitions and other calls for action.

"Even more than hope, we have good sense, and I believe that a clear-eyed look at our past and present tells us not only that we have a very strong probability of surviving, but that many signs point to a tremendous awakening and acceleration of our wisdom as we meet the real challenges we face." --Ricken Patel

May 23, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:


from the series by Island artist and writer JoDee Samuelson, taken from Facebook, with thanks.

Women's Institute Roadside Cleanup -- various locations and times.  Join any group you see working, or get some bags and do a bit by your home or special place. Bags available today at the Town of Cornwall offices, Bonshaw Post Office, etc. and can be left on the roadside from now until May 29th.  There will be some in Bonshaw at the "Greens, Blooms and Plant Sale" from 9AM to 1PM in front of theBonshaw Community Centre.

Farm Centre Legacy Garden Cleanup Day #3, 12noon - 6PM, behind Farm Centre at 420 University Avenue.
"There's still work to do! ....New gardeners are especially encouraged to attend. All garden plots will be assigned."
https://www.facebook.com/events/418541034973695/

Tonight:
Concert with "Ten Strings and a Goatskin" for Nepal Relief, 7PM, Carrefour Theatre, admission $12 adults, $9 students.
More details:
https://www.facebook.com/events/433399403498704/

A long list of appointments of senior officials to the government of Prince Edward Island was announced late yesterday by Premier MacLauchlan. 

The full description is here:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/premier/index.php3?number=news&newsnumber=10203&dept=&lang=E

Here is the list:

The Premier announced the following senior management team:
• Brian Douglas, Clerk of Executive Council
• Paul Ledwell, Deputy Minister of Policy and Priorities. This new role combines two senior positions as it replaces the role of Principal Secretary and also serves as the Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Affairs (effective June 1);
• John Jamieson, Deputy Minister of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (effective May 25);
• Susan Willis, Deputy Minister of the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture (effective July 2);
• Kim Horrelt, CEO of the PEI Energy Commission
• Steve MacLean, Deputy Minister of the Department of Communities, Land and Environment;
• Neil Stewart, Deputy Minister of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Chief Executive Officer of Tourism PEI;
• David Arsenault, Deputy Minister of the Department of Finance;
• Teresa Hennebery, Deputy Minister of the Department of Family and Human Services (effective June 15, 2015);
• Michelle Dorsey, Deputy Minister of the Department of Justice and Public Safety;
• John MacQuarrie, Deputy Minister of the Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy;
• Alexander “Sandy” MacDonald, Deputy Minister of the Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning;
• Michael Mayne, Deputy Minister of the Department of Health and Wellness

That's quite a Baker's dozen of senior management people on a team.  Some are new to government administration, and some have been on a roundabout getting off in various departments and then back on and switched to another for the last several years.  Mr. MacLean, who will be the Deputy Minister (DM) in charge of Communities, Land and Environment, was just Clerk of the Executive Council, and before that, DM of Transportation.  That's as far as I remember.  "Stewardship of the land and environment" is listed as one of the five priorities for this government.


Being Saturday, many of us shop for food for our families, and here is recent column in the bi-weekly Island Farmer, from the clear-voiced Ian Petrie:
http://www.peicanada.com/island_farmer/article_45594e84-f805-11e4-b987-43c83489a4f5.html

Organic:  What Does It Mean Now? - The Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie

Published on Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

It was simpler forty years ago. The word organic was only used by two groups: the serious followers of scientists like Sir Albert Howard or Rudolf Steiner, and “back to the landers,” who brought enthusiasm and a strong cultural belief that industrial farming was bad for the body and the planet.

If you wanted to eat organic food, you had to grow it yourself, go to a health food store, or belong to a food co-op. Now the word springs up in almost every aisle of the big supermarkets, as much about marketing as saving the earth. Here on PEI, the word organic has less meaning than in some other provinces. Last year, New Brunswick joined Quebec and Manitoba with provincial regulations to clearly define what organic means. It’s time PEI did the same.

This isn’t a question of promoting organic farming-- that will be determined by consumers, and land use and environmental challenges. It’s an issue of fairness for the 39 members of what’s called the “PEI Certified Organic Producers Co-operative.” That’s almost twice the number of farmers from a year ago, and the number keeps growing. It’s the word “certified” that makes this group unique. There is a list of practices and products that organic farmers can use, and certified growers pay money to an inspector to assure consumers they’re following the rules.

With no provincial regulations, vegetables and meat produced and sold within PEI could be called organic when it’s not. If it crosses provincial boundaries, then federal organic regulations kick in. It only seems fair to consumers, and certified organic producers, that these rules be harmonized.

Like many groups. the organic producers co-op is facing financial challenges. The province has been helping by repaying the certification fees for farmers who join the co-op. It also offered core funding to the group three years ago, which allowed for an executive director, but that funding dropped by 50% a year, and has now disappeared. The group has tapped into federal funding, the Growing Forward program, for research projects, including variety trials for non-GMO soybeans. The Federation of Agriculture has also helped by providing office space, and the two groups will share in research projects on crop rotations and soil fertility.

The fact Federation Executive Director John Jamieson** could come to the annual meeting of certified organic farmers last month without wearing a disguise is a good sign. Consumers of organics can be loud and stubborn, but amongst many farmers anyway, organic farming is increasingly not seen as a threatening moral crusade. Organic farmers face the same challenges of pests, diseases, weather and have decided to deal with them differently. The pesticides that are used are derived from natural sources, and break down more safely, and sufficient fertility from livestock manure, compost, and cover crops is an ongoing challenge.

They also sell into a market that’s rapidly changing, growing exponentially each year, but so called “industrial organic,” and promises by big retailers like Walmart to get rid of the “organic premium” means there are opportunities but no guarantees. Many organic producers enjoy the face to face relationship with consumers through farm markets, and community supported agriculture.

There’s no question that what drives organic farmers is their concern, their passion, for the health of the soil. They’ll tell you that if you can get that right, everything from healthy livestock to productive crops will follow.

That’s a message that’s badly needed on PEI right now. The use of cash crops rather than plow downs in crop rotations has badly depleted soils on many farms, adding to the need for irrigation, the risk of nitrates leaching into aquifers, and synthetic pesticides not breaking down properly. Nothing will be more important in the next few years than at least maintaining, and then increasing, organic matter by all farmers.

The leader’s debates in the days before the provincial election also showed a change, a maturity, in how organic farming is discussed. It was spoken of seriously by the Greens and NDP, but with some understanding that debt and brutal commodity markets have boxed conventional farmers into a tight corner. There wasn’t any of the “farmers are poisoning us to death” rhetoric we’ve seen in the past. It’s still there amongst many in the public, but politicians tried to present the business case for organic farming, and in the end, that may have a bigger impact, and push organic farming to the next level.

Perhaps the real sign of change are the handful of sons and daughters who grew up on conventional farms and say they’ll keep farming, but only by transitioning to organic. I think these will be the people who will establish organic farming finally as something both promising and normal.

I don’t think PEI will ever be the “organic” Island, but I’m hoping organic farmers will be respected for what they’re trying to do. They’re basically just good farmers, who have to think their way through problems, rather than just grabbing something out of the chemical catalogue. It’s not going back to the 1940’s, but using modern techniques and equipment to try to model nature rather than overwhelm it.

Nothing will highlight the difference between organic and conventional farming than the fight against wireworm. This pest has cost both conventional and organic farmers dearly. Some farmers await new chemicals to fumigate the soil. Others, including organic farmers, are using bio fumigants like mustard to limit the wireworm damage. I don’t want to see PEI farmers become dependent on wide scale fumigation. The risks to groundwater supplies, and the people who have to apply the fumigants, are just too serious. This is one page in the organic handbook I hope gets used by all farmers.
----------
**CO note:  Mr. Jamieson, noted in this article, is noted above as the new deputy minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.


From today's Global Chorus, from futurist and sustainable development expert Hazel Henderson:

"We do not need much more research  – only to accelerate our investments in energy efficiency, renewable solar, wind, ocean, hydro and geothermal sources – while ending our wasteful subsidies, 95 per cent of which go to fossil fuels and nuclear power. With this level playing field, even the 5 per cent of subsidies to solar and efficient use of renewable energy will be cheaper than polluting dangerous fossil and nuclear power. This crossover has already made solar and wind power cheaper than nuclear. -- Hazel Henderson, of Ethical Markets Technology

Our new CEO of PEI Energy Commission should know about Hazel's work.
https://hazelhenderson.com/

May 22, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A reminder that tomorrow, Saturday, May 23rd, is the Provincial Women's Institute Roadside Cleanup Day. Even though a lot of WI branches use this date to organize their members to go out and pick trash, it's not limited to this date nor just to WI members.  In Bonshaw, for instance, we will have bags available at the "Greens, Blooms & Plants Sale" at the Bonshaw Community Centre from 9AM to 1PM, and people will be encouraged to take a bag and pickup some trash by their roads or elsewhere. (All are welcome to get transplants and seeds and fresh greens for eating now at the Sale, too.)  Rain or shine.
My understanding is the province (Transportation, not WasteWatch) collects bags along roads from now until the end of next week (May 29th).  Stuff on the roadside is supposed to be in the WI-labeled bags, and the bags used just for those purposes. 
----
A note that many different activities are listed on the weekly PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women E-Newsletter:
http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=b9407fb045791ad0a86185b8f&id=58ebfa6e34&e=2f19cee05b


From yesterday's Guardian:
a quote from Premier MacLauchlan:
"This is a new government with a clear mandate to follow through on the policy platform presented during the election campaign."

Forty-one percent is not really a clear mandate. There are already judgement issues:  Events just since Tuesday night (a coin toss and immediate scrimmage to Cabinet selection, a new recruit getting benched from Cabinet, and backbencher and former Tory MLA Hal Perry being handed the very challenging education and early learning portfolio) shows decision quick-ness leading to quick-mess.  

From today's lead editorial in The Guardian:
"In the rush to name a cabinet after the May 4 election and meet the House, and with two recounts underway or pending, it appears that due diligence was given short shrift."
----------
Regarding electoral reform:
Last Thursday, David Bulger wrote this opinion piece:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-14/article-4146484/Nothing-particularly-wrong-with-P.E.I.s-present-electoral-system/1

PR a political Nightmare

Nothing Particularly Wrong with P.E.I.'s Electoral System - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Bulger

Published on Thursday, May 14th, 2015

To Wayne Young: It’s not time.

Proportional representation is a European import. It is the political equivalent of another European import, namely, Dutch Elm Disease.

In 1924, PR was the means by which the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) managed to acquire the legitimacy attaching to membership in the Reichstag. Between 1945 and 1993, proportional representation sent Italians to the polls 53 times, or slightly more than once a year. The political insanity that is the Israeli Knesset is due entirely to PR.
Now, instead of admitting that it is an unworkable system and drop-kicking it, supporters have come up with a Band-Aid called mixed-member proportional representation which retains the evil first-past-the post system for most seats, but allows for list members appointed to the legislature in proportion to the electoral results.  (As Ian Rankin has his character, John Rebus say “Just whom is it that the list member represents? It certainly isn’t me” – or words to that effect).
The list member will represent the party, and since the party is the problem in our system, not the solution, anything that expands the power of parties is to be avoided.
There is nothing particularly wrong with our electoral system. It does what it is supposed to do, namely, it hands a governing mandate to the party which has managed to convince the largest number of people that it deserves that mandate. It is not designed to make every vote count nor should it be.

Those who dislike this system are those who have not managed to convince large numbers of voters to support them. But rather than have to make a convincing case and acquire a real mandate, what they want to do is to slip in the back door as list members and achieve a legitimacy that they could not otherwise win. Let them stop trying to place a thumb on the electoral scales and work at making the kind of case that will give them seats. That they don’t have seats may be due, not to the system, but to their ideas and platforms.
But if we must revisit the whole electoral issue, then let the exercise be an honest one. There are more than two possible systems. Election to the Australian Senate, for example, is on the basis of what bears the daunting title of a single transferable ballot. In the U.S. this is sometimes called choice voting. We use the concept in some leadership contests. Voters rank candidates according to preference and the candidate most preferred wins.  

What makes this system problematic is the relatively complex mechanism of determining preference, which makes it harder to explain and sell. (And, of course, preferences are likely not to be for fringe parties, so those groups are not likely to want it introduced into the discussion).
It will, however, work very well with any system – like those of Nunavut and the NWT – in which political parties are not involved in government.

Now, for that discussion, it’s past time.

David M. Bulger is Adjunct Professor (retired) at the University of Prince Edward Island
----------

In Wednesday's paper, there was a rebuttal written by me to the previous commentary.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-20/article-4152766/Electorate%26rsquo%3Bs-wishes-rarely-come-true/1

Electorate’s wishes rarely come true - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

David Bulger presents a skewed argument against proportional representation (PR) in his opinion piece 'PR' a political nightmare’ (Guardian, May 14th, 2015).  The piece is accompanied by an illustration, from a war gaming-promotion e-magazine, of the German Parliament building (Reichstag) in flames from a 1933 arson attack; fanning the flames, so to speak, that PR caused the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.  It was probably more complicated than that.

Mr. Bulger goes on to cite PR experiences in Italy and Israel as "political insanity."  What he doesn't mention is that these countries have adjusted their electoral systems; many varieties of proportional electoral systems are in place throughout the world that result in stable, collaborative governments. In past thoughtful opinion pieces, Mr. Bulger has focused on electoral reform:  MLA term limits, recall and referendum legislation, and in this piece he mentions other electoral systems that allow for accurate representation by voters (preferential or ranking systems). He also states his concerns with the domineering power of political parties. These all need to be part of our Island discussion on electoral reform. Our current system of first-past-the-post often produces legislatures that bear little resemblance to the wishes of the electorate; our most recent provincial election surely delivered this. Islanders deserve an electoral system that truly represents their voting intentions. Let's set the framework and be ready for the 2019 provincial election.

Chris Ortenburger,
Citizen's Alliance of P.E.I.

Jeff Gailus, who writes today's Global Chorus, is a "father, writer, educator, lecturer, environmental advocate, author of The Grizzly Manifesto and Little Black Lies."  He sings in a slightly different key than most other choristers have sung in:

"It’s easy to see that hope is not the answer. 'Hope,” derived from the Germanic word for 'wish,' is an illusion, a false prophet. Hope is what we cling to as our ship sinks into the cold dark waters of fear. We did not hope an end to slavery. We did not hope an end to the Second World War. We did not hope an end to discrimination based on the colour of our skin. All of these challenges were overcome by government intervention made strong by the concerted efforts of individuals just like you.

"We will not hope climate change away. When we quit hope, we free ourselves from the bondage of our fears and allow ourselves to act, to protect the people and places we love.

"I implore you: abandon all hope and commit to action. Only then will we be able to build the clean-energy economy that will provide our children and grandchildren with the prosperous and stable futures they deserve." -- Jeff Gailus

May 21, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events:
Tonight:
Forum on Open Government, 7-9PM, Holland College Science and Technology Centre (off Kent Street), free, sponsored by MP Sean Casey.  Panel members include Web developer Ryan Palmer, journalism instructor Kelly Toughill, and social policy researcher Nick Scott.  Are "open" and "transparent" always on the same page?

In a week or so, but please reserve the date:
Sunday, May 31st, Citizens' Alliance Spring Social, 4-6PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road.  A chance to chat about issues (or not ;-)  and enjoy good company before the Legislature opens, and June turns into the lovely summer on P.E.I.  All welcome!
----------
There is a new provincial cabinet, with new members, same faces, someone who was a coin-toss away from his seat, and a return from the backbench for Richard Brown (District 12 Charlottetown-Victoria Park).
from:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/p-e-i-cabinet-restructured-under-maclauchlan-1.3080228

  • Wade MacLauchlan, premier, president of the executive council, minister of justice and public safety, attorney general, minister of intergovernmental affairs, minister of aboriginal affairs, and minister of Acadian and Francophone affairs. (Someone joked that just his title has too many characters to "tweet" it.)
  • Richard Brown, minister of workforce and advanced learning.
  • Doug Currie, minister of health and wellness, and minister of family and human services.
  • Alan McIsaac, minister of agriculture and fisheries.
  • Allen Roach, minister of finance.
  • Paula Biggar, minister of transportation, infrastructure and energy.
  • Robert Mitchell, minister of communities, land and environment.
  • Heath MacDonald, minister of economic development and tourism.
  • Tina Mundy, minister of education, early learning, and culture, and minister responsible for the status of women.

-----------
Publisher and commentator Paul MacNeill had some sharp words yesterday about one appointment:
"Wade MacLauchlan fired Brooke MacMillan as CEO of the PEI Liquor Commission because of his pivotal role in the Provincial Nominee Program. It was a turning point in the provincial election. Today he rewarded MacMillan's boss, Richard Brown, with a return to cabinet. Brown oversaw the abuses that included the breaking of rules, manipulation of immigrants and use of PNP as a patronage tool. Brown is now Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning. His portfolio includes control over Skills PEI, the patronage arm of government and, you guessed it, 'Immigrant recruitment, settlement and retention functions.'
This is an abysmally bad appointment. If the Ghiz legacy brings political baggage, and it does, Wade MacLauchlan just backed a transfer truck full of it right into the provincial cabinet room."

------
Vision PEI has posted an article about a continuing and potential consequences of the Provincial Nominee Program, at https://www.facebook.com/visionPEI?fref=ts
------
And I stumbled across this excellent piece from three years ago about all this from journalist Ian Petrie:
http://foodmatters-petrie.blogspot.ca/2012/05/pnp-and-media.html
These two articles are definitely worth reading now or bookmarking for when you have a chance.
---------
There is a fundraising opportunity for any group to participate in through the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico; it's not right for the Citizens' Alliance but I said I would pass it on. 
It's part of the discussion about the "Canada 300" project. More details are here:
http://canada300.ca/
Contact information here:
http://www.watermarktheatre.com/#!contact/cu09
The first video (8 minutes) that pops up explaining the project is on the first link; it says it was made in January 2015, and is hosted by former Premier Robert Ghiz; at the end of the video (after an interesting list of sponsors) are video choices for more background on the Canada 300 project.


Global Chorus' essay today is by environmental journalist Sarah Backhouse, who writes:

"To get humans to engage, we need to humanize climate change. We need to share powerful stories about the thousands of lives it’s affecting everyday. Sobering stories about families in Los Angeles whose children suffer from asthma. Tragic stories about victims of weather events like hurricanes Katrina and Sandy in the U.S. and savage wildfires in Australia and about ecological refugees in Bangladesh and Africa. Inspiring stories about the innovators who are working tirelessly to develop clean-energy solutions, design better products and create new business models that encourage sharing and responsible use of resources." -- Sarah Backhouse

May 20, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The recount for District 5 Vernon River - Stratford was held yesterday, and as you likely heard, one vote was counted for Mary Ellen MacInnis, thus a tie, which was broken by a coin toss that McIsaac won.  Let's put "Coin toss to deal with ties?!" on the list to discuss with an electoral review in this coming year.
Alan McIsaac tries to explain, and while he makes very considerate remarks about his competitors, he keeps circling to how wonderful Premier MacLauchlan is. (3 minutes)
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2667483176/
(It is also interesting to note that if Mr. McIsaac lived in his District (he lives in District 7 Morell-Mermaid), his own vote perhaps would have helped him.)
---
The new cabinet will be announced and swore-in on the grounds of Fanningbank with the Lt. Governor at 11AM this morning -- local media should have updates on their front pages on-line.


An event tonight:
Tonight, Cinema Politica film, The Suffering Grasses, 7PM, Murphy's Community Centre, donations accepted, about how the Syrian people are surviving during the civil war.


More info:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1470686879889295/

Yesterday, in Ireland, Prince Charles shook hands with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, continuing a healing process on the conflict in Northern Ireland that claimed Charles's uncle, and many, many others.  He also visited an organic farm along the Atlantic Coast in County Clare and discussed projects aimed at farming sustainably in the unique conditions.
more info:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/project/Projects/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.dspPage&n_proj_id=2661
A year ago, on May 19th, 2014, Prince Charles was in Bonshaw Provincial Park during his visit to P.E.I., on a short trail made for him.  It certainly appeared that this section of his trip was staged to indicate royal approval of the proposed trail system (and by association, a certain nearby highway project). 


The Prince's trail in Bonshaw, from May 2014. It's a bit overgrown now.
-----
Some local people, including a few of the oldest residents of the area, were fenced *out* of the event last year, while crews of media took photos of the Prince with then-Premier Ghiz and then-MLAs Vessey and Docherty and invited guests.  It was presumed at the time that the photos would all be in campaign literature for their re-election.  This was not the case.
Old coverage from last year (CBC):
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/pr  may 21stince-edward-island/new-provincial-park-gets-royal-visit-1.2648736
And for more mildly bitter commentary from last year ;-) , see the Citizens' Alliance News from then:
http://www.stopplanb.org/monthly-stuff/2014-monthly-overviews/may-2014#TOC-May-20-2014

Olivier Oullier is a French behaviourist and environmentalist who writes in today's Global Chorus:
"Behaviourally evidence-informed policy-making is the only way to better engage citizens in taking care of themselves, their peers and the planet. In order to be successful, such an approach requires a profound systemic change. Designers, together with behavioural and brain scientists, must help policy-makers embrace our emorational nature and therefore ground their strategies. Making it as easy and effortless as possible for people to change their behaviours to improve their health and well-being and stop destroying our ecosystem must be a priority." --Olivier Oullier

more info: https://oullier.wordpress.com/

May 19, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

An event this afternoon:
Food Security Network's AGM, 4-6PM, at the Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown 
from their Facebook posting:
https://www.facebook.com/events/565406340264406/
Everybody is welcome! We'll talk about Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) as a strategy to address household food insecurity.
What does food insecurity look like in Prince Edward Island? How would Basic Income Guarantee help to make Prince Edward Island a food secure province?
Dr Jenni Zelin, who is a board member of the food security network, will moderate a panel discussion with three compelling speakers:
Dr Valerie Tarasuk will join us by skype. She will present data about the prevalence, severity, and dimensions of food insecurity in PEI. She will also comment on what a guaranteed annual income might be able to achieve in terms of a reduction in food insecurity.
Dr Jennifer Taylor will speak about the need to monitor the rising cost of food in PEI to ensure that everyone has access to enough nutritious food. She will present some of her research that demonstrates the very real and varied impacts food insecurity is having on Islanders. Jennifer will also share some of the ways in which participants in her research believe systems should change.
Michelle Jay will present information about Basic Income Guarantee (BIG), and the idea that has been presented by the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income for a BIG pilot project. Michelle will also talk about what the working group has learned from Islanders who have participated in forums, workshops and presentations about BIG over the past two years.


Visitation and funeral plans for Jacqueline "Jack" Tuplin are in full here:
http://www.fergusonsfh.com/
There will be visitation at her home in Lennox Island Wednesday and until Thursday morning before the service Thursday at 10:30AM at the John Joe Sark School.


I think (hope!) the last word on Elizabeth May's humour skit at the press gallery dinner comes from the veteran CBC journalist Michael Enright:
Michael Enright -- CBC Radio Sunday Morning, May 17th, 2015 commentary, podcast here:
http://www.cbc.ca/radio/popup/audio/player.html?autoPlay=true&clipIds=2667271870

Decades ago, in another movie, I was reporting on Question Period one day from the Press Gallery in Queen's Park. A minister in the Conservative government of John Robarts was on his feet going on about something or other. On his feet, unsteadily and swaying a bit. 

Suddenly a rogue NDP member named Morton Shulman screamed across the floor, "He's drunk. The minister's drunk. Look at him. He's drunk!"

The interjection certainly stirred the afternoon somnolence of the dreary chamber. And gave me a good story. I wrote a short piece about the exchange, it ran deep inside the paper and was quickly forgotten, a one day story. 

I remembered the incident right after the Elizabeth May story broke over last weekend. As everybody by now knows, Ms. May, leader of the Green Party, made a shambolic, almost incoherent speech during the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner. After a few cringe-making minutes, she was gently escorted off the stage by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt. Ms. May later explained that she had had little sleep, was jet-lagged and was experimenting with some kind of edgy humour that went awry. She said she had had a glass of wine but was not drunk. And we should take her at her word.

What I found astonishing was the press coverage, print and electronic, of the event. Given the sheer tonnage of the reporting, one would be forgiven for thinking that Ms. May had set fire to her hair after stabbing the emcee in the eye with a fish fork. It was the top news item on hourly newscasts all day last  Sunday. Then again, beginning the day on Monday morning. All four Toronto papers covered the event like a five-alarm fire. There were think pieces stretching to the horizon. Every paper tried to capture the essence of the story in an editorial cartoon. It was called a rant, a train wreck, a disaster, a meltdown. The evening would haunt her, the pundits wrote. The political panels piled on.
    
Every hack lobbyist in Ottawa was pestered for a quote -- what did this mean for her party? What did it mean for her political future? How could you, Ms. May how could you?  She went on any number of radio and television shows trying gallantly to explain her behaviour. 

Just to set the context. The Parliamentary Press Gallery annual dinner is a huge event in Ottawa's social calendar. Reporters bring a guest, usually a politician or senior civil servant. It's supposed to be a time when political and journalistic knives are sheathed, guns are checked at the door and everybody is friends with everybody else. The jokes are cornball, everybody drinks as much as possible and hilarity reigns. It has about the same amount of charm and pizzazz as the Toyota Salesman of the Year Awards Night. During one dinner years ago, a fabled cabinet minister threw up in the men's room, narrowly missing my nearly new pair of Johnson and Murphy shoes.

Why the mountain of coverage, nearly all of it unsympathetic? Was it because she was appearing before a roomful of journalists? Would the story have disappeared if she had been speaking to environmentalists? Was it because she sometimes has seemed to be holier than thou? Was it because she is a woman? Whatever the reason, Ms. May was mugged by the media.

The sanhedrin came to judgement, and were almost unanimous. May's conduct was so abhorrent that it probably doomed her party. But a couple of days later, a CBC poll showed that more than 80 per cent of Canadians feel her behaviour  would not cripple the Green Party in the least.

And we wonder why we in the media are held in  such low public esteem.


James Howard Kunstler is the author of several books, mostly dealing with possible scenarios regarding the End of Oil.  I found The Long Emergency plausible, and frightening.  This essay is timely, considering there is yet a new "Mad Max" movie.
His essay is printed in total:

"The master task at hand for the human race is managing the contraction of an industrial economy that has reached its limits. The human race has no experience with this, and for the moment we are in thrall to wishful thinking in the hope that some techno rescue remedy will allow us to keep that system going  – shale oil, hydrogen, electric cars, thorium reactors, methane clathrates, etc. We’re wasting our time wishing for these things. We need to downscale and relocalize all the activities of daily life: agriculture, commerce, capital finance, governance, education, healthcare.

"It is important to remember that reality has mandates of its own and will compel us to behave differently whether we get with the program, or not – it just depends on how disorderly we want the transition to be.

"I attempted to depict such a successful transition in a series of two (soon to be three) recent novels set in the post-petroleum American future: World Made by Hand and The Witch of Hebron, if anyone is interested in an imagined outcome that is not in the Mad Max mould. It’s not utopia but it shows people managing to remain civilized under conditions of relative hardship.  Farming has come back to the centre of their economy, they work shoulder to shoulder with their neighbours on things that matter, and they make music together. It’s a start. It’s also still recognizably American culture." -- James Howard Kunstler

Let's consider adding "North American Culture":-)

May 18, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Very, very sad news of the passing of Jacqueline Tuplin of Lennox Island yesterday.  Jacqueline ran for the NDP in District 23 Tyne Valley-Linkletter in this election, and endured racist vandalism of her signs amongst other indignities.  She was grace itself.  My condolences to her family and friends.
-----------
Follow-up #1, Protesting Shell Oil:
In an effort to show how much people don't want Shell Oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, there is a "Paddle for Seattle" protest going on this weekend, culminating today.  Hundreds of kayaks and canoes are out in the Port of Seattle surrounding the Shell Oil rigs that plans to head north.
from:
Grist.com on-line article from Sunday
"The oil giant brought a huge drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, to the city’s port on Thursday, over objections from the mayor, city council, and <snip> Seattleites.   Shell plans to use the port as a staging ground for oil drilling operations in the Arctic over the next two years. The kayaktivists made their objections clear — and made for a pretty spectacle against the blue-gray background of Puget Sound."


screenshot Grist.com's coverage of this event, Sunday, May 17h, 2015:
http://grist.org/climate-energy/all-eyes-are-on-seattle-as-it-fights-shells-dirty-arctic-plans/

Follow-up #2, Another Senate/Bill C-51 discussion:
This is a different page from LeadNow.ca about how the Senate could kill bill C-51:
http://www.leadnow.ca/:c51-senate/
The hope is that the Senate will "sit on" the bill until Parliament is dissolved for the election, or some other method.


Today's Global Chorus suggestions are the best ever, from humanitarian Patty Webster, founder of Amazon Promise, which is an American-based non-profit group providing medical and dental care to remote peoples in Northeastern Peru.
more info: http://www.amazonpromise.org/


"My advice is to discover what motivates YOU and get involved in improving our situation. It'€™s easy to be overwhelmed by the immensity of the issues and adopt a complacent, 'get-what-you-can-while-you-can' attitude, but people who take on one problem at a time are overcoming paralysis and having great success all over the world. Their small triumph connects with other small triumphs and together, they become a force.  Everyone is part of the solution. Governments are not the change agents. We are." — Patty Webster
----------
Come see great people working for change for the whole by working on one problem at a time, at the Dandelion Festival, 11AM to 3PM, at the Stratford Town Hall, free admission but opportunities to donate to various things and to purchase items.  Blue Dot P.E.I. (The Right to a Healthy Environment) will have a booth, along with many others.

May 17, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Senate has to vote on Bill C-51, the "Anti-terrorism Bill, or "An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act" which passed the House of Commons with both Conservatives and Liberals supporting it. 

This "bi-partisan support"  won't be the case with the Senate, as many Liberal Senators are voting against it, saying their votes are free and not whipped.
A very good article:
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/05/12/bill-c-51-liberal-senators-terror-james-cowan_n_7267540.html

Our two P.E.I. Senators (in good standing) are both Liberal appointees and their contact information is available here:
Percy Downe  Percy.downe@sen.parl.gc.ca
Libby Hubley  Elizabeth.hubley@sen.parl.gc.ca

You could write and express your opinion on this issue.  Percy Downe has been answering e-mails in a very timely fashion with that he does not plan to vote for it.
More background and on-line petition from the activist group Leadnow.ca are here:
http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/reject-fear-stop-stephen-harper-s-secret-police-bill?source=google-ad

Maybe the Senate could still be the chamber of sober second thought.


And from Carl Mathis, a fantastic letter-writer:

Pesticide industry blames politics as reason - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on May 9th, 2015

The pesticide industry is hitting back at our municipalities who are making plans to ban cosmetic pesticide. Nigel Armstrong reports their message that such bans are politics.

When one's neighbour is to have their lawn sprayed, we get these warning notes in the mailbox (Where will they do it when Canada Post has outlawed the mailbox?), saying that spraying will occur. After spraying, little signs sprout up, like mushrooms, warning kids and dogs to stay away for a day. Alas, neither of my dogs can read and that lawn space is important to them during their visits.

If the warnings and signs reflect a true? potential hazard, the pesticide industry is telling fibs.

If, as they say, it is politics, the warnings and signs are advertising.

Which is true?

Carl Mathis, Charlottetown


Global Chorus today is a long poem, but beautiful, by Robert Ferrari, but I have only included the last stanza:

"Renewal is yours, your task and work and hope.
Understand it as a name, and call it.
Everything yields. Yesterday’s poems are dead,
And the poets have gone of to fish.
he temples of Art and Hope are constantly rebuilt,
Less so by masters and more by neighbours
Seeking shelter from the rains, finding
hat the clouds in their lives speak only grey ideas,
Or rebuilt by those asking for directions to the theatre,
Hearing that the third act has not yet been written,
And feeling that their tongue has the courage to speak
the lines,
And recite the monologue of renewal." -- Robert Ferrari

May 16, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

David Suzuki detected change in the air in his column this week, citing the results of the P.E.I. election:
David Suzuki's May 14, 2015 blog entry
"Recent events in Canada have shown not only that change is possible, but that people won't stand for having corporate interests put before their own."
He talks about oil prices, and Alberta's election, and then adds:
"On the other side of the country, voters in Prince Edward Island followed B.C. provincially and Canada federally and elected their first Green Party member, as well as Canada's second openly gay premier. Remember, homosexuality was illegal in Canada until 1969!"
and he talks about the B.C. government halting development on land belonging to First Nations, and more on corporate interests being stood up to and addressed.
----------
On another front, this week the federal government released its Climate Change strategy, and it doesn't say much.  In fact, Maclean's humourous columnist Paul Wells wrote:

"It would be more honest if the federal government's emission target were 'Whatever the provinces achieve despite our best efforts.' " -- Paul Wells, May 15th, 2015

Sierra Club's National Program Director critiques it here:
MEDIA RELEASE / May 15, 2015

OTTAWA - Sierra Club Canada Foundation would be disappointed with the federal government’s modest new emission reduction target (of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030) IF there was any likelihood the government would do anything to reach it. After nearly a decade in office, this government has made it crystal clear that it's not interested in taking any action on climate change.
“There is a difference between saying things and doing things. Unfortunately, the federal government is only good at the former,” said John Bennett, Sierra Club Canada Foundation. "A 30 percent reduction is a weak target that illustrates the government's gross lack of leadership on the climate file."
The federal announcement relies entirely on provincial, municipal and personal actions. It offers no federal legislative, regulatory or program initiatives. “Where are the laws, regulations and investments required to reach any target? Nowhere!,” said Mr. Bennett. "Today's announcement, if sincere, highlights the feds complete misunderstanding of the climate crisis and what we're facing."

-----

Two months ago, when Alberta released its "framework" on cleaning up the tar sands, which is a bit thin and rickety, and was criticized by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC); and they showed their short explanation film on the tar sands.  Even if you have seen it, it is worth watching again.
Film of Tar Sands Legacy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-ynvp03FRY

NRDC article:
http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jskene/albertas_greatly_anticipated_t.html?utm_source=fb&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=socialmedia


Satish Kumar is a 78-year old from Rajastan, India, who now lives in England and edits the bi-monthly magazine Resurgence & Ecologist.  In 1962, he and a friend, worried about a nuclear weapons war, went on a Peace Walk to the four capitals of countries that had nuclear weapons (London, Washington, D.C., Paris and Moscow), meeting with the leaders.

from the Wikipedia article on him:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satish_Kumar
"(Kumar) insists that reverence for nature should be at the heart of every political and social debate. Defending criticism that his goals are unrealistic, he has said,

'Look at what realists have done for us. They have led us to war and climate change, poverty on an unimaginable scale, and wholesale ecological destruction. Half of humanity goes to bed hungry because of all the realistic leaders in the world. I tell people who call me "unrealistic" to show me what their realism has done. Realism is an outdated, overplayed and wholly  exaggerated concept.'  -- Satish Kumar"

In today's Global Chorus, he writes:

"Once upon a time, colonialism and imperialism were powerful forces, but in the first half of the 20th century that came to an end.  Similarly, former Soviet satellite states and Eastern European countries were liberated from the Soviet empire and the Berlin Wall came down through non-violent means. After 27 years in jail, Nelson Mandela became the president of South Africa and the apartheid system was dissolved. More recently, after 16 years of house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi has been elected as a member of the Myanmar Parliament and there are good signs of freedom in that country.  These examples give me hope that another world is possible where sustainability, conservation, an end of hunger and world peace will prevail." -- Satish Kumar

May 15, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A couple of events in these next few beautiful days:
Tomorrow, Saturday, May 16th:
Garden Meeting and Cleanup Day #2, Legacy Community Garden at the Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown, 2PM, all welcome.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1570558383198333/

Monday, Victoria Day, Dandelion Festival, 11AM -3PM, Stratford Town Hall, 234 Shakespeare Drive, Stratford, all welcome.  Displays, music, crafts, food (for sale), indoor and outdoor activities. Presentations on cooking with dandelions (11AM), pesticide-free lawn care (noon), organic gardening in small spaces (1PM), Renewable energy in home construction (2PM).
https://www.facebook.com/events/1569732866633286/
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It is not often that a group of environmental lawyers, such as an Ecojustice team, has reason to celebrate, but last week, The Honourable Mr. Justice Rennie handed down a decision stating that the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans "had been allowing the salmon industry to transfer (British Columbia) salmon into marine net pens that are carrying diseases with the potential to 'severely impact' the wild fishery at an international level." 
Full story:
http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/alexandra_morton/2015/05/we-won.html


screenshot from the above story about the BC salmon industry, from website sited above, with Conservative Fisheries Minister and Egmont, P.E.I. MP Gail Shea, published May 7th, 2015.

A thank-you as the next stage of work begins:

from:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-11/article-4142369/Vote-for-future-makes-history-on-P.E.I./1

Vote for Future Makes History on P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, May 11th, 2015, in The Guardian

The last few months, and more specifically the last few weeks, have been some of the most exhausting – and most exhilarating - days of my life. Trying to get elected when running for a third party on Prince Edward Island is no small undertaking, but the truth is, elections are not won by individuals. They are won by dedicated teams of selfless people, and they are decided by brave and trusting voters.

I have had an opportunity to thank my team for their tireless enthusiasm, and now I would like to express my appreciation to each and every one of the citizens of District 17, who put their faith in me, and to all Islanders across P.E.I. who this week voted for some new politics on Prince Edward Island.

You voted for the future, and you made history here in our small province.  In the next four years, I will continue to contribute to the idea that politics can be done differently: that it can be engaging, open, and collaborative. I will bring forward new ideas, help to find the best solutions to the many challenges we face on Prince Edward Island, and strive to improve the lives of all Islanders.

It is an enormous privilege to have been elected to our Legislature, and I am truly humbled by the opportunity to represent not only the citizens of District 17, but to be the voice of the 22 per cent of Islanders who said with conviction that they are ready for REAL change here on Prince Edward Island.

Peter Bevan-Baker,
Leader, Green Party of P.E.I.


From Peter Sale, professor emeritus at the University of Windsor, in today's Global Chorus:

<>>"Evolved to jump out of the way of sabre-tooth cats, but to ignore advancing glaciers, we are slow to respond to the damage we are causing. Cocooned in our civilization, many of us fail to see what we are doing; deluded by our technology, others assume we can invent our way out of this mess. Still others understand the problem and the possible solutions, but we fail to act because the pain is not yet great enough. We need that approaching predator to shock us into action. It might come as a series of extreme weather events, or as a global pandemic, an abrupt rise in sea level as the West Antarctic shelf fails, or continental-scale famine following wide- spread drought. It might appear as a global economic collapse. If it comes soon, and if it is not too vicious, we can still get to a good future. If it does not, I fear we will simply watch and wonder as our civilization collapses. I hope that cat is coming soon."-- Peter Sale

May 14, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some local news
Delegates representing Co-op Atlantic Stores in Atlantic Canada voted yesterday to agree to a proposal from Sobey's to take over the nine Atlantic Co-op "corporately owned" food stores (including three on P.E.I. -- the Queen Street and Walker Avenue Charlottetown ones and the North Rustico one). If the deal gets federal approval, which could be within a couple of months, four of nine regional corporate stores would be closed, and the remaining would be converted to "Sobey's Banner" stores -- not sure which kind they are talking about. But not a "Co-op" store.

The independent Co-op food stores (Tignish, O'Leary, etc.) are only affected in that they will have to find new suppliers of wholesale goods and those private label items (right now, e.g., Co-op Gold brand).

Grocery stores apparently have a tight profit margin, and pressures from Walmarts with food play into the mix.

This is really disappointing, as I am one of many people who is a member and exclusively shopped for grocery stuff at Co-ops ("If I wanted to shop at a Sobey's, I would have gone to a Sobey's!" was quipped) and didn't realize the apparent extent of money woes until the decision was made on the Atlantic region level. Only delegates from the stores -- not people who are the member-owners -- were allowed to vote in this Board decision, and the timeframe much too tight to allow member-owners to see if alternatives could be considered.

The Co-ops always have wonderful staff, and provide groceries for many people with limited transportation in their settings, and many of us hope all three stores stay open on the Island, at the very least.
----------

Some continental news:
U.S. President Obama has recently approved oil drilling in the Arctic.
Here is a map from this website, which includes a quote from Bill McKibben, climate change activist of 350.org, saying this was like tobacco companies getting permission to put cigarette machines in cancer wards.
http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/arctic-drilling/


screenshot of map of area of Arctic where the U.S. government has given Shell leases and permission to drive for oil, from above website

The group Avaaz has started a petition to send a message to the Port of Seattle commissioners, who have to approve the passage of Shell's giant boats in their waters as they head off to the Arctic. They are looking for a huge mass of signatures.
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/shell_drilling_4/?tEDpjbb

And satire from the fake news U.S. publication The Onion on all this:
http://www.theonion.com/article/shell-assures-nation-most-arctic-wildlife-go-extin-50408
<<snip>>
HOUSTON: Stating that any damage would be limited to just a handful of species that somehow managed to survive that long, officials from the Shell Oil Company assured the public Wednesday that most of the Arctic wildlife living near their proposed drilling site will be extinct well before their next oil spill.>>

Global Chorus today, by Joanna Rogers Macy, an American environmentalist, Buddhist scholar and author, is a poem about our future, fitting for Mother's Day time: 

Prayer to Future Beings
by Joanna Macy
You live inside us, beings of the future.
In the spiral ribbons of our cells, you are here.
In our rage for the burning forests, the poisoned
fields,
the oil-drowned seals,
you are here.
You beat in our hearts through late-night meetings.
You accompany us to clear-cuts and toxic dumps
and the halls of the lawmakers.
It is you who drive our dogged labours to save what
is let.

O you who will walk this Earth when we are gone,
stir us awake.
Behold through our eyes
the beauty of this world.
Let us feel your breath in our lungs,
your cry in our throat.
Let us see you in the poor, the homeless, the sick.
Haunt us with your hunger, hound us with your
claims,
that we may honour the life that links us.

You have as yet no faces we can see,
no names we can say.
But we need only hold you in our mind,
and you teach us patience.
You attune us to measures of time
where healing can happen,
where soil and souls can mend.

You reveal courage within us we had not suspected,
love we had not owned.
O you who come after, help us remember:
we are your ancestors.
Fill us with gladness for the work that must be done.

May 13, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

:-)


Green Party Leader and now District 17 MLA Peter Bevan-Baker hugs NDP candidate for District 14 Gordon McNeilly March 12, 2015, outside the Coles Building on Richmond Street in Charlottetown.  Photo tweeted by Kerry Campbell, CBC reporter.

In yesterday's Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-12/article-4144008/Real-majority-demands-change-in-P.E.I.s-electoral-system/1

Real majority demands change in P.E.I.'s electoral system - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Islanders have spoken but will the new government listen?

Vision P.E.I. welcomes the high participation rate in Monday’s election, and hopes both Islanders and Wade MacLauchlan’s Liberals recognize the historic nature of the results.

After voter participation slipped in the last couple of elections, Islanders voted with a vengeance again, 86 per cent casting a ballot, back to levels not seen for thirty years. And whom Islanders voted for is just as important.

Over 20 percent voted for parties that had no chance to form government, again record levels. In fact there were only five districts where elected MLAs were supported by a majority of voters. It’s clearly not business as usual.

Many times Premier Wade MacLauchlan called for engagement. Islanders have done that, and close to 60 per cent said they wanted a government other than the Liberals.

It will take resolve and courage for the Liberals to recognize this, and Vision P.E.I. hopes strong consideration is given to reforming the electoral system, so that the engagement the premier called for is genuinely reflected in legislature.
The real majority demands nothing less.

Vision P.E.I. was established to give voice to Islanders’ deep concern for the economy, the environment, and the soaring public debt.
It’s time for good ideas to matter more than who you know.  All parties clearly understood this during the election, and Vision P.E.I. will pay attention to whether the promises made for more ethical governing are put into practice.

Ian Petrie, (for Vision P.E.I.)


Two events coming up:

Saturday, Birding and Breakfast, 7AM, Macphail Homestead and Woods, free.
Monday, Dandelion Festival, 11AM to 3PM, Stratford Town Hall, free entry but things for sale.

Remembering Rachel Carson in today's Global Chorus (in its entirety) by biographer and historian Linda Lear:

"Over the course of the last fifty years, many of us, but not enough of us, have understood the extent of the damage that human hubris has inflicted upon the natural world. Some of us tried to ignore the indisputable fact that global pollution was caused by human actions and activities, and not by some invisible malevolent hand. Others simply denied reality.

In 1962 the nature writer Rachel Carson (1907– 1964) awakened us to the horrific consequences of human activity on the Earth’s systems in her iconic and still revolutionary book Silent Spring. Carson began her tale of the potential death of Nature with a fable based on the real and terrifying disasters suffered by many American communities where chemical pesticides had been used and misused. 'No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves.' Rachel Carson never knew how prescient her words would be.

Her hope was that the potential silencing of spring would spur us to recognize the terrible consequences of putting anything into the natural world before we understood the impact it might have on human and nonhuman nature: on all life. She trusted, perhaps naively, that the next generation would carry forth an inextinguishable “sense of wonder” that would ensure that life would continue and that humans could and would live co-operatively with Nature. Sadly, we have not heeded Carson’s warning well enough, and human destruction of the planet has continued with terrifying speed. But is it really too late to turn around?

Carson's hope, and mine too, is based on a belief in our continuing sense of moral responsibility to the future of human and nonhuman life. It is imperative that we be very clear about what we stand for and what we oppose.  The continuation of the life support systems of the living Earth – clean water, fresh air, fertile soil and the biodiversity of the species – is our responsibility to the future.  We can do it. We simply must do it. And we must do it NOW." --Linda Lear

May 12, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Charlottetown City Council's passed their municipal cosmetic pesticide bylaw at first reading yesterday. 
From
Pesticide Free PEI's website:
"Kudos going out to Charlottetown City Councillors for passing the first reading of the cosmetic pesticide bylaw with a vote of 8 for and 0 against. It is not yet a done deal, so please continue to send your insights to the city councillors. Here are their email addresses:
mayor@charlottetown.ca ; mduffy@charlottetown.ca ; mtweel@charlottetown.ca ; kramsay@charlottetown.ca ; rdoiron@charlottetown.ca ; grivard@charlottetown.ca ; jascoady@charlottetown.ca ; mhilton@charlottetown.ca ; tbernard@charlottetown.ca,"
and tmacleod@charlottetown.ca
Please note that councillor Melissa Hilton excuses herself from this vote (family business conflict), and the Mayor only votes in a tie.  Still, if you are a resident and have opinions, they should hear them.


Charlottetown resident Carl Mathis, a welcome contributor to The Guardian for funny, snappy letters, writes:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-09/article-4140623/Pesticide-industry-blames-politics-as-reason/1

Pesticide industry blames politics as reason - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, May 9th, 2015

The pesticide industry is hitting back at our municipalities who are making plans to ban cosmetic pesticide. Nigel Armstrong reports their message that such bans are politics.

When one's neighbour is to have their lawn sprayed, we get these warning notes in the mailbox (Where will they do it when Canada Post has outlawed the mailbox?), saying that spraying will occur. After spraying, little signs sprout up, like mushrooms, warning kids and dogs to stay away for a day. Alas, neither of my dogs can read and that lawn space is important to them during their visits.

If the warnings and signs reflect a true? potential hazard, the pesticide industry is telling fibs.

If, as they say, it is politics, the warnings and signs are advertising.

Which is true?

Carl Mathis, Charlottetown


Regarding the provincial Water Act that is in its beginning stages of being worked on, I think:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-11/article-4142379/P.E.I.s-Water-Act-requires-open%2C-transparent-process%3B-mutual-trust/1

P.E.I.'s Water Act requires open, transparent process; mutual trust - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Catherine Ronahan and Maureen Larkin

Published on Monday, May 11, 2015

In 2014, the Select Standing Committee for Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry recommended to the P.E.I. Legislature that the moratorium on deep water wells not be lifted. At that time the government promised to develop a Water Act, which would be the framework for any future policies around water on P.E.I.

As well there would be Island-wide public hearings to give everyone a chance for input. This was an important step to take and many watershed and environmental groups were happy with this decision, but our concern is that there be a genuine democratic process with meaningful input from community. We have recent experience of a very different kind of process with Plan B, where the final decision was made before public input was sought.

The process used to consult the public is so important. That’s what was heard loud and clear from both the presenters and participants at a recent workshop called “What’s in a Water Act” co-ordinated by the Latin American Mission Program (LAMP). Over 60 people attended the workshop on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Kensington in April. The workshop focused on the kind of process we need to create an effective Water Act for P.E.I..

Gary Schneider, co-chair of the Environmental Coalition of P.E.I. shared ideas on public participation based on the principles of the ‘Public Participation Guide for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act’ produced by the federal government. “The focus of public participation is usually to share information with, and gather input from, members of the public who may have an interest in a proposed project.” A good process does not have the decision made before listening to the public.

It would include meetings across the Island, a draft report with a period of time for public feedback.

Ann Wheatley from the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water, and also a panelist, spoke about the values to be included in a Water Act. ”A meaningful Water Act should be based on a set of values such as water as a human right, the right of people to a healthy environment, and water as a common good.

To have any effect, a Water Act needs to be accompanied by well-thought out regulations, and monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. While the creation of a Water Act is essential, it will be for naught unless we articulate firm goals and objectives and develop strategies to achieve them.”

Steven MacKinnon from the National Farmers Union (NFU), shared anecdotal evidence on how rivers and streams have changed in his own farm over the past 200 years that his family has been living on it. He spoke of his concern about the lack of research determining the amount of water we have.

The panelists and participants were in agreement that we have to get this right. Controlling our water supply is one of the most important things we can do. Once we have infusion of salt water or pollution into the water table it is too late. As Steven MacKinnon succinctly stated, “You can't 'un-ring a bell.’

In developing the Water Act we call on government to have a process that is open and transparent and built upon a mutual trust of citizens and government.  

Catherine Ronahan and Maureen Larkin are members of the Latin American Mission Program


The Global Chorus essay for today is by environmental philosopher and the author of Ecological Ethics, Patrick Curry
More on Patrick Curry:
http://www.theguardian.com/profile/patrick-curry
Book:
http://www.amazon.ca/Ecological-Ethics-Patrick-Curry/dp/0745651267

He starts his essay with:

When I look at the world dominated by human beings, I see (in the words of Max Weber) one of unpunished injustice, undeserved suffering and hopeless stupidity.  So far as I can tell, the future consists of humanity sliding further into the abyss and continuing to take much of the natural world with it.<<>>
But he ends with:

The only thing that prevents despair is that don’t know beyond any doubt that this is the future. By the same token, though, no one else knows for sure that it isn’t. In any case, it is only after fully acknowledging how dire is the situation and the outlook, without indulging in any comforting nostrums or pious evasions, that we are entitled to whatever hope remains. And even if none, we can still resist; you don’t need hope for that. What you need is courage.— Patrick Curry, independent scholar, writer, environmentalist

May 11, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A break from discussing various aspects of proportional representation --

Last week, the multi-talented inventor and promoter Elon Musk released plans for renewable energy batteries for home and businesses.
From Eco-Watch news service this week (the links in the article may or may not work, but will work on the on-line article):
http://ecowatch.com/2015/05/09/elon-musk-tesla-battery-powerwall/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=33ebe35a16-Top_News_5_9_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-33ebe35a16-85885837

5 Things You May Have Missed About Elon Musk’s Tesla Battery Announcement - Ecowatch article by Gina Coplon-Newfield

Published on-line on Saturday, May 9th, 2015

“The sun shows up every day and produces ridiculous amounts of power.”
—Elon Musk, May 1, 2015

Elon Musk produced fireworks last week when he announced that Tesla, his company known for its high-end electric cars, will soon start selling batteries to power homes and businesses. The products—which run about $3,500 for Powerwall home systems and about $25,000 for Power Pack business systems—will likely start shipping to customers later this year. The home system will store 10 kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power a household for several hours.

Here are five important things you may not have seen about the Tesla announcement:

1. Consumers will save money on electricity.
According to Kimball Musk, Tesla board member and brother of Elon, the system could save consumers up to 25 percent on their electric bills. He explained that instead of paying premium electricity rates in the afternoon in a place like California, the battery will charge itself in the middle of the night when electricity is cheapest. “Electricity is only getting more expensive. So any way we can store it and become more self-reliant, that’s ultimately a good thing,” said Julien Gervreau, whose winery business has been piloting battery use for energy storage.
Thus, depending on electricity rates, the pay-back period could be only three to four years. In a place like Hawaii, where electricity rates are much higher than the national average, the pay-back will be even faster.  Several states with net-metering laws will even allow solar consumers to sell the excess power stored in their Powerwall back to the utility.

2. It will hasten a widespread switch to renewable energy.
If utilities use these battery systems, as some have already announced they will do, it will allow them to better shift the load of electricity use throughout the day when the sun isn’t always shining and wind isn’t blowing — thus giving utilities the ability to integrate more renewables into the grid. “Storage is a game changer,” Tom Kimbis of the Solar Industries Association told The Washington Post.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Tesla will get a boost from the California Public Utilities commission, which has ordered Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas and Electric to install or contract for more than 1,325 megawatts of electricity storage throughout the state by 2020, creating a huge market for batteries.

3. It will allow electric car and solar customers to drive on more sunshine.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are already lower in emissions than conventional vehicles, even taking into account the emissions from the electricity used to charge them and even in parts of the country with dirty grids. But to go the extra green mile, of the more than 300,000 people in the U.S. who drive plug-in EVs, a significant number of them have solar panels on their homes—upwards of 32 percent according to one California survey.
One program—a collaboration among Ford, SunPower and the Sierra Club—provides a discount on this combination of EVs and photovoltaics. However, the solar energy only powers these EVs some of the time, since the sun isn’t always shining. Tesla’s new battery system will allow consumers with any type of rooftop solar and any type of plug-in car (not just a Tesla model) to store their solar power and use it to power their cars more frequently, making it easier to truly drive on sunshine. This is why Slate Magazine posited that Tesla’s new home-based battery “can truly liberate eco-minded drivers from fossil fuels.”

4. It will mean battery prices will drop even faster.
Large batteries are key to electric cars and energy storage systems for homes, businesses and utilities, but cost has been a challenge. But cost is dropping faster than predicted, Sam Wilkinson, research manager for solar and energy storage at HIS Technology, told Wired, and he anticipates a 50 percent drop in the next two to three years. Meanwhile, battery efficiency is growing at about eight percent annually.
A recent Washington Post article cited myriad reasons why “powering your home with batteries is going to get cheaper and cheaper”—among them the ongoing construction of Tesla’s “gigafactory” in Nevada, expected to begin production in 2016 and reach full capacity by 2020, at which point it will produce more lithium batteries annually than were produced worldwide in 2013.

5. Companies are already raising their hands to buy and sell these battery systems.
Big companies such as Walmart and Cargill have already started to partner with Tesla to power their operations with the new PowerPack battery in conjunction with rooftop solar. Tesla batteries already power 11 Walmart stores, and the Jackson Family Wineries in Northern California started installing Tesla’s battery storage systems last fall at all eight of its wineries. And just last week, Austin, Texas-based Treehouse home improvement store announced that it will be the first retailer to carry the new Tesla home battery.
Musk said he wants to make batteries a core part of Tesla’s business, with the ultimate goal of transforming the world’s electric system. He emphasized that as with its electric car systems, Tesla will have an “open patent” policy—meaning that other companies wishing to join the battery revolution don’t have to start from scratch. He said at the Powerwall unveiling, “We are hopeful that many others will follow our path and if somebody is able to make a better battery solution than us, I’d be the first to congratulate them.”

Gina Coplon-Newfield is the director of the Electric Vehicles Initiative for the Sierra Club.


And closer to home:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-power-looks-to-small-scale-renewable-energy-1.3038598

NB Power looks to small-scale renewable energy - CBC News

Communities and First Nations to be invited to set up wind, hydro, biomass generation.

NB Power says as part of its goal to generate 40 per cent of its in-province sales from renewable sources by 2020, it will encourage locally owned, small-scale green energy.
The plan would involve co-operatives and First Nations communities building and owning wind farms, solar panels, small hydro projects, biomass or biogas facilities. NB Power would buy the energy from the communities. The Crown corporation currently has similar agreements with wind farms and other projects run by private companies.
"The beauty of community energy projects is that they would enter into a power purchase arrangement with NB Power," said Keith Cronkhite, NB Power's vice-president of business development and generation. "The revenues that we would pay toward those projects stays within New Brunswick and that's an important part of any renewable program."

NB Power says the capacity of the projects will be 75 megawatts. That is just under five per cent of the current level of generation. Renewable energy currently accounts for 31 to 32 per cent of in-province sales, according to Cronkhite.  The New Brunswick Department of Energy and Mines is currently reviewing NB Power's Community Energy Program. It's expected to issue guidelines in the fall about how the program should work.

Denmark and Nova Scotia

Denmark is a global leader in community wind power. It made the switch after the 1973 oil crisis and encouraged cooperatives in order to get communities on board."With very little opposition from the communities, because the farmers and the churches and the community groups owned the turbines," says Dick Bakker of the Ottawa Renewable Energy Cooperative. "If all of [renewable energy] was locally-owned there would be more emphasis by the industry on building smaller footprint turbines."

Bakker says when communities own the project themselves, they can make sure that overly-large or noisy turbines are not installed too close to residential areas. Today, Denmark produces around 40 per cent of its energy from wind, compared to just over five percent in New Brunswick.
Across the Bay of Fundy, in Tatamagouche, N.S., a small cooperative has been producing energy with turbines for the past four years. The power being generated is fed into a nearby Nova Scotia Power substation.
Bakker says another key ingredient for facilitating widespread small-scale renewable energy is rebuilding the grid to allow power to be distributed easily between communities. "The [current] grid is designed to take power from a limited number of large power sites and send it in one direction. If you're going to build a distributed power system with renewables you have to have thousands of little power sites," Bakker said. 
NB Power says it is working toward introducing so-called Smart Grid technology. It will make the grid more efficient and allow power to flow back and forth between smaller energy sources.


OK, just one short political bit:
CBC TV Compass's political panel here is from Friday, May 8th, with journalism instructor Rick MacLean and publisher Paul MacNeill.  They mostly talk about what PC Leader Rob Lantz's options are, not having won his seat, with a short bit affirming NDP Leader Mike Redmond's hard work. 4:40 minutes long. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/p-e-i-political-panel-1.3067611


And Global Chorus is by author Rob Dietz, (http://robdietz.org/)  who writes (bold is mine):

"In the early 21st century, humanity sits in a precarious position. Reams of evidence support a conclusion that’s hard to comprehend: people are consuming resources at a rate beyond the Earth’s regenerative capacity. Like Icarus, humanity is flying too high, ignoring the warning signs and courting disaster.  The main question, then is how to straighten out and fly right -- what's the what's the most practical path for achieving the good life on our one and only planet!

The dominant philosophy of nations since the birth of industrialism and capitalism has been more. More people, more production, more consumption, more technology, more income. Professors, politicians and pundits commonly tout increasing devotion to more as the way to solve our environmental and social problems, but it's a deeply flawed approach. There’s no logic in resorting to the very philosophy that has pushed us into planetary overshoot. Instead we need to reconfigure our economic systems to embrace the philosophy of enough – we need to recognize the limits we face and structure the economy so that it meets people’s needs within environmental limits.

To build and economy focused on better rather than bigger requires surprisingly straightforward policy changes. For example, we can limit the flow of materials and energy to sustainable levels, stabilize population by means that are compassionate and non-coercive, achieve a fair distribution of wealth and income, reform monetary and financial systems for stability, change the way we measure progress, secure meaningful jobs and full employment, and reconfigure the way businesses create value. We’ll continue to fly, but we won’t blindly fly into the sun, soaring beyond planetary means. Hope for achieving an economy that works for people and the planet resides in the simple concept of enough." -- Rob Dietz

May 10, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who take care of the people in your life.
----------
Julia Roberts is the Voice of Mother Nature in this two minutes film from Conservation International, which I sent around when they first came out a few months ago.  She sounds a mite annoyed, as if we haven't put our dishes in the sink, and she wishes to remind us we can move out any time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmVLcj-XKnM
------
Ernesto C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich, a Mexican conservationist and professor of sustainability at Tecnológico de Monterrey,  is probably not a mother, but he writes so very well in the Global Chorus for today, it's copied in its entirety.  Just add the "Mother" before "Nature."

"Today is a beautiful day and it is wonderful to be alive. Such awareness comes from being human and confers a sense of duty for maintaining life and making peace with Nature.

In such a day, and in times ahead, there will also be despair and sadness.  This is part reality and part perception. Even in those moments we can find many good reasons to stand strong. 'Hope?' YES, hope based on real possibility to change the world.  The future is what we make it. We can help to heal Nature so it continues to nurture us.

We are increasingly interdependent and opting for the good. Technology and simple things like protected areas will make all the difference. What can I do as an individual and influence others to do what is good for Nature and therefore for humans? Every day  … every moment  …: Inspire: What can I do? Expire: What can we do? This Decalogue shared with students 20 years ago remains pertinent and practical to living and securing a space for Nature and ALL life in the Anthropocene.

These are just some ideas. I challenge you for even better ones but please  … be part of the solution:

TEN THINGS WE CAN DO FOR OUR PLANET, OUR COMMON HOME

1. Seek, envision, apply and enjoy a lifestyle that is light on the planet. Repel materialism.
2. If you exercise your privilege to have descendants these should be at the most two and brought up as champions for the planet.
3. Learn, recognize, promote and be willing to pay the real value for Nature’s goods and services.
4. Work as a volunteer in your community.
5. Use your purchasing power to demand a better world.
6. Participate actively in restoring and healing Nature.
7. Demand from our leaders or be a leader caring for the planet and be true and congruent.
8. Photograph, paint, write, meditate, touch, observe and in general know, respect and love Nature.
9. Respectfully explain to whoever neglects the environmental crisis, becoming a joyful ambassador for Earth.
10. Live and persevere on the previous nine points (or your own list) and spread the word. Get others to join in! Caring for Nature and Earth is the best way to love the rest of humanity as we all depend on it." -- Ernesto Enkerlin-Hoeflich

May 9, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today, 2PM, first Garden Meeting and Clean-up Day at the Farm Centre's community garden location, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown.  All welcome.  More info:
https://www.facebook.com/events/691633257631576/

Hummingbirds are just getting to P.E.I. -- this link is a map of their migration this spring and how you can add to it:
http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html


Richard Raiswell's commentary on CBC Radio Mainstreet from Tuesday afternoon about the election, "Political Renewal" (about 4 minutes) is linked here:
http://www.cbc.ca/mainstreetpei/2015/05/06/richard-raiswell---seats-in-the-house/
(paraphrasing) that having "proportional representation would mean: no HST, no 'done-deal' highways...."


From the on-line Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
plurality:
a number of votes that is more than the number of votes for any other candidate or party but that is not more than half of the total number of votes
majority:
a number of votes that is more than half of the total number
--
Regarding Monday night's election results:
The only people that got the majority of their Districts' votes were:
District 6    Stratford-Kinlock -- PC James Aylward
District 7    Morell-Mermaid -- (technically not by just one vote) -- PC Sidney MacEwen
District 17  Kelly's Cross-Cumberland -- Green Party Peter Bevan-Baker
District 24  Evangeline-Miscouche --   Liberal  Sonny Gallant
District 26  Alberton--Roseville -- Liberal Pat Murphy
District 27  Tignish-Palmer Road -- Liberal Hal Perry



Paul MacNeill's editorial column in his Graphic newspapers from Wednesday:

We thumped the status quo, one vote at a time - The Graphic editorial by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Wow, for a non-Islander the results look ordinary: Liberals 18, PCs 8, Green 1. But what happened on Prince Edward Island Monday night is a tectonic shift in Island politics; a massive one-vote-at-a-time rebuke of politics, as usual as practiced for decades by the two old-line parties.

The PEI provincial election was a celebration in democracy. It put power behind the notion that ideas and individuals matter more than pundits, spin and advertising. It was a chaotic, nerve-racking, joyous, sad and troubling night.

Liberals are returned with a comfortable majority that is actually in line with what many felt the final results would be. But any Liberal who looks at the final tally through the same prism as the past is reading the results wrong. This was a punishing vote against the Liberal government. It is likely if the party had selected any leader other than Wade MacLauchlan, the Liberal government would have been firmly tossed to the curb.

This is a victory for Wade MacLauchlan. But it is razor thin. Redistribute 422 votes and PC leader Rob Lantz would have awakened Tuesday morning as premier designate of a PC minority government.

That didn’t happen. Instead, Lantz was defeated provincially and personally in his own riding. His gracious acceptance of the results is a tribute to the class of the man. But the political reality is the PC Party now finds itself only marginally ahead of where it was a year ago. The caucus is larger but the party is now sucked into another leadership vacuum and the challenge the party faces is to find a leader who can appreciate the new political reality.
And the new political reality is that PEI is not the sole domain of the Liberal and PC Parties. Greens and NDP may not be fully grown up but they are feisty adolescents not willing to accept the status quo. They are backed by the knowledge that 21.8 per cent of Islanders voted for the two ‘third’ parties.

Someone noted on social media that all Islanders were smiling because Peter Bevan Baker was elected as the Island’s first Green MLA. Bevan Baker didn’t just win. He trounced cabinet minister Valerie Docherty with the largest margin of victory of the night, a staggering 1,000 plus plurality. Provincially the party earned 8,857 votes, narrowly behind the 8,997 captured by Mike Redmond and the NDP.

Redmond deserves immense credit for rebuilding the party from the ground up. He has changed the party mentality from a group happy to debate, to a party ready to win.

Extending support to both the Greens and NDP should be high on the premier’s agenda. No Liberal or Tory should quibble with extending third party funding to the Greens now that Bevan Baker is an MLA. Funding allows the party to staff a legislative office, necessary to properly represent the large number of voters who did not vote for either the government or official opposition.

But given the overwhelming demand for change, MacLauchlan should extend some level of funding to the NDP.
Redmond opted to focus his party’s resources province-wide. Bevan Baker poured all available resources into his own District 17. Like New Brunswick, the Green strategy proved the winning formula.

Redmond can be justifiably proud, but he must also be deeply disappointed that the NDP did not win a seat. It is a testament to the inadequacies of the first past the post system.

Premier MacLauchlan is already signalling his willingness to look at ways of reforming the way we elect MLAs.
To steal from Liberal advertisements: It’s time. 
Collectively, third parties garnered one-in-five votes, but only walk away with four per cent of the seats. Liberals saw their total vote drop 10 per cent to 41 per cent but the governing party retains 67 per cent of total seats. A 30-year high of 86 per cent of Islanders exercised their right to vote. They voted for civility and smart government. They are demanding a new political reality, one where the needs of Islanders are put ahead of the needs of the party in power and those that cling to power.

Let’s hope the message is received because to quote Dylan: The times they are a changing.

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


In this posting this week by the unknown "Keep Them In Line" blogger, there are tough words and eye-opening stories:
https://keeptheminline.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/thoughts-post-pei-election-2015/
It comments on our current system and how we got the results we have today.


Model, mother and environmentalist Kate Dillon writes today's Global Chorus essay. 
More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Dillon_Levin


"I have hope because we have come so far. When I was a high school student in the late 1980s, talk of global warming, recycling and eating local was fringe at best, reserved for hippie holdouts and eccentric vegetarian restaurants.

Today these ideas are mainstream,and environmental consciousness is actually chic. We have proven our ability to change our most insidious historical practices, and while we cannot reverse all the damage done, there is ample time to be better human beings." -- Kate Dillon

May 8, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tomorrow, if you want to go help clean up a *big* garden:
GardenClean-up Day at the Farm Centre, Saturday, May 8th, 2PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Ch'town. 
https://www.facebook.com/events/691633257631576/
Might be a good idea to wear work clothes and boots and bring gloves and such.  Learn about the Farm Centre Legacy Garden, too!


PEI Student Vote 2015
On Monday, students in several schools held a province-wide student vote.

General information -- lots of interesting stuff:
http://studentvote.ca/pei2015/

And the actual results:
http://www.studentvote.ca/pei2015/results/

Two screenshots of results overall (individual Districts are on the website):


Student Vote 2015 Table of Results by Party (screenshot by above website)
---------------------------



Pie-chart of Seat Count vs. actual Vote Count (Screenshot from about website)
----------
I am not sure if this got very much press -- the results are quite different than what folks 18 and older voted for.  :-)

Someone wrote and asked the organizer if there was much discussion of Proportional Representation (versus the current First Past the Post" system), and there was no mandatory discussion of particular voting methods.  Sounded like a great exercise, though.

Accommodations help in Summerside needed for accommodations for Harbourfront Theatre summer performers:
"We have four people coming to work at the Harbourfront Theatre, who are in need of affordable housing.  We have not had luck to this point in finding affordable housing so we are reaching out to the community These professional artists come from other places in the country and have expenses at home to cover while they are here (rent, mortgage, etc.). 

Please share this with your friends and neighbours. 

We have a great season planned this year but we can't make it happen without some help."
contact: Catherine O'Brien  (902) 393-9419



Today's Global Chorus is from Swedish systems analyst and professor Goran Broman, who writes:

"<< the next big challenge is systems science for cross-disciplinary and cross-sector leadership and innovation for sustainability. We need this to develop coordinated solutions so that they support each other and together result in societal change at a scale and pace appropriate for sustainability to become a feasible option for the future.

To develop and promote this type of science, we have formed an international alliance for strategic sustainable development (www.alliance-ssd.org), aiming at providing ways of putting any specialist discipline in the context of, and to the service of, strategic sustainable development. We invite all who want to contribute to join this alliance." -- Goran Broman

more information here:
http://www.alliance-ssd.org/participating-in-the-alliance-for-strategic-sustainable-development/

May 7, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

"Prince Edward Island:  It's time.  We're ready.  Let's work towards proportional representation."
--who is saying that?  Islanders are. (But first we have to learn more about the options.)

Compass TV news from last night, with a nice interview with Brenda Oslawsky from FairVote, discussing PEI and PR (13:40 into the broadcast), to augment the CBC radio interview Tuesday morning:
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2666567755/

--------
Looking back:
Gary MacKay's letter in Friday's Guardian (pre-election):
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-01/article-4131847/Other-political-parties-deserve-chance/1

Other political parties deserve chance - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Friday, May 1st, 2015

As we close in on Election Day, we find our newspapers full of Liberal and Conservative ads. Our premier stated on the radio that PNP is in the past, so forget about it, yet all of his ads proclaim the wonderful things the Liberals have accomplished. He cannot have it both ways.

What should Islanders think about before voting - introducing the HST, cutting down old growth forest in the Bonshaw area for an unwanted highway, adding over $1 billion to our debt, patronage appointments and broken promises. Where is our new Environmental Ombudsman as promised in 2007? Where are the predictable and stable increases to municipal equalization? Where is the balanced budget?

The Conservatives have nothing to gloat about as they had Polar Foods, made millionaires out of friends who started golf courses and they were ripe with patronage.

Which party will decrease the HST? The Liberals have indexed every tax and service that we pay for. Which party will index personal income tax to give us a long overdue break? Which party will actually bring in a true energy accord, not like the one we are saddled with at present that guarantees Maritime Electric shareholders receive 9.75 per cent dividends?

I live in District 23 (Tyne Valley-Linkletter) which has experienced many setbacks. We lost a unique fall flavour event Appelicious; the apple industry is destined to become a major producer on P.E.I. We lost our hospital but are promised a new manor as compensation. Tyne Valley has usually had two doctors but now we are being promised a nurse practitioner.

Same old rhetoric from the same old parties. Other parties deserve a chance. Should they not represent you properly, you can fire them in four years.  

Gary A.O. MacKay,
Birch Hill


A charming piece from Maclean's magazine online yesterday about Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of PEI and new MLA:
http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/tenth-time-lucky-for-the-green-partys-peter-bevan-baker/
(with an equally charming reporter bio at the end of the piece)

Tenth time lucky for the Green Party’s Peter Bevan-Baker - MacLean's Magazine article by Luc Rinaldi

Peter Bevan-Baker, the man who led the Green Party to a breakthrough in P.E.I. on his tenth try, offers ten political tips

Published on-line on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Election nights have always been anticlimactic for Peter Bevan-Baker, the leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. After running, and losing, in nine elections across the Island and in Ontario, he was used to defeat. Victory, on the other hand, was new—and nerve-wracking. During P.E.I.’s Monday night election, while his supporters were excitedly playing music and drinking beer, Bevan-Baker watched anxiously as the ballots trickled in for his district, Kellys Cross-Cumberland. “It was the most excruciating hour of my life,” he says. “My heart was pounding out of my chest with the prospect that we might win.”

And win he did, making history by becoming the first Green to hold a seat in the two-party province. “We’ve never really had any diversity in the House here,” Bevan-Baker says. “If Greens can win in a place as historically traditional as P.E.I., it shows this is possible in any province at any time.”

A Scottish-born dentist, musician and writer, Bevan-Baker founded a local Green group in Brockville, Ont., in the early 1990s. With three young kids to look after, he never intended to be a candidate, but when no one else came forward, he ran by default. “It was not something I set out to do,” he says. Still, it stuck. He ran, unsuccessfully, several more times. Then, intent on living a quiet life—“sit on my deck, drink a glass of wine, read a book and talk to my wife”—he closed his dental practice and moved to Hampton, P.E.I.

That plan lasted for awhile, and Bevan-Baker, 52, became a fixture in the local arts community, writing and directing plays and playing trumpet with local symphonies. But when the family converted an old, desanctified church into a dental clinic, café and community hall, he started practising dentistry again. Politics made a comeback, too, when he met with P.E.I.’s then-Green leader, Sharon Labchuk. “She knew about my political history in Ontario and persuaded me to run in a provincial election here,” he says. He lost four more runs (numbers six through nine) before becoming the party’s leader in 2012. “And here I am.”

In the legislature, Bevan-Baker says he will focus on electoral reform, fracking and the future of P.E.I.’s potato-farming industry, among other things. Charlottetown, in fact, may feel strangely familiar; it’s new ground for the Greens, but not for Bevan-Baker’s family. His great-great-grandfather is George Brown, a Father of Confederation who participated in the 1864 Charlottetown Conference. “I feel,” he says, “that I’m sort of completing a circle here.”


 Ten lessons from 10 elections: Peter Bevan-Baker’s political advice

  1. Although I repeatedly lost, I never lost heart.
  2. Always treat your fellow candidates respectfully.
  3. Take the high road: criticize ideas, not people.
  4. Use your inner strength to influence others candidates’ behaviour.
  5. Get your partner’s blessing before you run each and every time.
  6. Don’t embarrass your children.
  7. Speak and act authentically at all times.
  8. Enjoy the cumulative wisdom that comes from campaign experience.
  9. Maintain and utilize often your sense of humour.
  10. Strive to re-establish nobility in politics.

Peter Bevan-Baker summarizes each of his 10 campaigns in one word: 

  1. futile
  2. forlorn
  3. frightful
  4. fruitless
  5. feckless
  6. feeble
  7. floundering
  8. fumbling
  9. foul
  10. FABULOUS

Luc Rinaldi is an assistant editor at Maclean’s, where he assists no one, edits nothing and reports on everything. He’s also written for The Walrus, Toronto Life and Maisonneuve. He wishes this bio included Oxford commas.


A few events:
Tonight, Fanningbank Gardens and Victoria Park history lecture by Reg Porter, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, corner of Kent and West, Admission $6.

Monday, May 11th, Charlottetown Council meeting about their proposed cosmetic pesticide ban, 4:30PM, open to the public.
https://www.facebook.com/events/867732266620108/

Monday, May 18th, Dandelion Festival, 11AM to 3PM, Stratford Town Hall, lots of activities.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1569732866633286/


Global Chorus for May 7th is written by Joseph Tainter, who writes on the collapse of civilizations.

"Our first challenge is to understand how our limitations and inclinations undermine our chance to become sustainable. A sustainable future requires that we change fundamentally in how we think and act. That step is the most difficult challenge of all."
--Joseph Tainter, Utah State University

May 6, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Jamie Larkin, former candidate for Charlottetown City Council, says it perfectly:
"Congratulations to all of the candidates for being courageous, putting your names forward and working hard to represent your community and our Island."
---------
Brenda Oslawsky of P.E.I., who is also a vice-president for FairVote Canada, will be on Island Morning on CBC Radio about 7:40AM, talking about proportional representation.  A good time to get this conversation going.
(FairVote is concentrating on the upcoming federal election, but has lots of information that is applicable to provincial elections.)
http://campaign2015.fairvote.ca/proportional-representation/
--------
Here is the link to the Island's TV news show Compass from last night:
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/Compass/ID/2666487777/
Last night's show is primarily about the election, and is a good recap.  Premier-elect Wade MacLauchlan joked with host Bruce Rainnie that he doesn't know why CBC took so long to declare him winner in his District (9 York-Oyster Bed), when he and his people had the results. Hmm.
Presumably this means that District scrutineers or someone else sends the unofficial results to their party.  Perhaps a call to Chief Electoral Officer Gary McLeod can explain this to us.  Further into the show, the Chief Electoral Officer is interviewed, and he shrugs about why it took so long for District 17 (Kelly's Cross-Cumberland) and District 6 (Stratford-Kinlock) to be reported.  It just appeared that way, he seems to say, and a couple of Islanders interviewed on the street didn't notice it; but anyone really watching either of those Districts saw all other Districts change colour *long* before they did.  There is also an issue of the inconsistent release of the first or advance poll count for each district during the course of the counting; in Monday's election, the incumbent party was quite able to get their supporters to those advance polls.


When you combine Lego, a camera, some voting information, and a website, you get a very engaging explanation:
http://www.unlockdemocracy.ca/lego_my_vote_pei_2015

screenshot of a website which uses Lego to represent vote counts of different political parties.

It explains the popular vote and then there are a few panels explaining the problems with First Past the Post:
Liberals' extra seats                                 at the expense of the other parties.

It visualizes that the 18-8-1-0 seat count should really be 11-10-3-3 if each vote actually counted .
"Lego My Vote" is a fun site brought to the Canadian public by a team trying to engage and inform voters.

Global Chorus for today is completely different from most of the other essays, as it is about nuclear disarmament.  I have copied it whole as it didn't make as much sense otherwise:

"With the unleashing of nuclear energy, we have developed a source of energy for economic growth, but we also have created nuclear bombs: a technology that can destroy the Earth and nearly every living thing on it.

"Incredibly, and for nearly 70 years, we have survived this existential threat. How have we done it? What are the conditions that have prevented us from blowing ourselves up? Are there lessons to be learned that could be applied to other problems? After World War II and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, scientists foresaw the dangers of a nuclear arms race culminating in a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

"To prevent such a terrible war, these scientists established regular dialogues with their counterparts in other countries  – even those hostile to them, and even at the risk of being called traitors. his same group of scientists, along with medical doctors, informed the public about the harmful effects of radiation from nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, and supported citizen protests demanding an end to testing. And as advisers and government officials, scientists also influenced and supported leaders who called for an end to the nuclear madness.

"Out of these actions by independent scientists, informed citizens and courageous political leaders came the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and most recently the New Start Treaty.   These treaties and their implementing agencies are the institutions of co-operation that have prevented nuclear war so far.

"And since 1992, working side by side, Russian and U.S. engineers, military officers and government experts have begun to end the nuclear arms race by reducing their combined nuclear arsenals from nearly 80,000 in 1987 to less than 20,000 in 2012.

"While the threats to humanity from nuclear weapons are not over, we are beginning to create the conditions for our survival, including telling the truth about the dangers of nuclear technologies; building networks for communication, especially with our adversaries; and co-operating with other countries to dismantle nuclear weapons and relegate them to the dustbin of history.  — Dr. Kennette Benedict, executive director of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
http://thebulletin.org/bio/kennette-benedict

May 5, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The results from last night's provincial election ran the full range from predictable to crushingly disappointed to sublime.  Anyone who lives in District 17 Kelly's Cross-Cumberland and not a huge fan of "first past the post" winners is likely pleased a third party candidate, Peter Bevan-Baker of the the Green Party PEI, won his district *with the largest margin of any race.*  (The "It's a miracle!" clip playing on radio is funny since it's poking fun at political commentators like Paul MacNeill who said it would take a miracle for Peter or any third-party person to win a seat.)  It took good planning, and an electorate that trusted this hardworking man who offers so much more.

Both Green and NDP ran people with incredible integrity -- Mike Redmond, Gordon MacNeilly, Kathleen Romans, and the rest of you.  Amazing people -- who just needed the concentration in one area in this system.  The Tories also had very hardworking people who tried very hard.  There are a lot of returning backbenchers and cabinet ministers from the Liberal party, but not Charlie McGeoghegan nor Valerie Docherty.




                              (First past the post seats:  1,18,0,8    versus   by popular vote:  3,11,3,10)

In a 27 seat Legislature, each seat is 3.7% of the popular vote, so the seat total should be something closer to
Greens  -- 3, Liberals -- 11, NDP -- 3, PCs - 10     Wouldn't that be more representative?  I do hope the Tories look long and hard at being the first of the larger parties to pledge to some sort of representative reform, stop these false majorities, and get more voices like Peter's in the Legislature.
Richard Raiswell writes that he will talk about the disproportionate representation on CBC Radio Mainstreet after 4PM today.

Regular things:
NaturePEI's monthly meeting is tonight, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, corner of West and Kent Streets, all welcome. The topic is "The Flowers of Canada: A Celebration of Canadian Unity", presented by Mary Curtis, a Charlottetown botanical illustrator, artist and teacher. "A collection of water-coloured paintings of each of the provincial and territorial wildflowers and prose to represent the unique qualities and values of Canadians."


Global Chorus is written today by Australian writer and forester John Seed, founder of the Rainforest Information Centre.  He closes his essay:
"We must now stop shying away from the truth and hiding in intoxication or busyness from the despair of the human, whose four billion year race is run, whose organic life is a mere hair's breadth from finished.  Join in community to publicly embrace this despair and allow it to squeeze and pressure new consciousness into existence." -- John Seed

May 4, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Even though the ground is not dry...

a driveway in District 17, yesterday, which no candidate (or enumerator) ventured up during the election call

...today is Election Day, 9AM to 7PM.  All the forums, all the door-to-door, all the signs and ads won't mean a thing if people don't get to their polling station and cast a vote.   For information: http://www.electionspei.ca/index.php?number=1046802&lang=E

Regarding friends and relatives who will say voting doesn't matter, as the candidates are all the same, American writer David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) wrote: 

"If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties <snip> by all means stay home if you want, but don't bulls**t yourself that you're not voting.  In reality, there is not such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote."


from the "Common Questions" page of Elections PEI:
http://www.electionspei.ca/index.php?number=1046802&lang=E

Do I get time off from work to vote?

There are provisions in the Election Act to provide sufficient time for eligible electors to vote on Polling Day.
These provisions are contained in section 81, which states:

  • An employee, who is an elector, shall, while the poll is open on ordinary polling day, have a reasonable and sufficient time, not to be less than one hour, for the purpose of casting his or her vote.
  • If the employment of an employee does not permit the use of one hour of his or her own time for voting, the employer shall allow the employee such additional time with pay from the hours of his or her employment as may be necessary to provide the one hour, but the additional times for voting shall be granted to the employee at the time of day that best suits the convenience of the employer.

Getting to the poll:  Traditionally, the candidates offer transportation to the polls for those who need a ride.  This is not supposed to affect your vote, they are not supposed to offer you incentives, etc.; but one hears of irregularities about some buses and donuts and other perks related to whom you vote for.

Progressive Conservatives ask you call (902) 566-3033 "if you need assistance getting out to vote." http://www.anewdirection.ca/candidates for individual candidates.  Randy Robar in District 17 is at 658-2139
The Green Party is also offering to match rides for people, call: (902) 658-2041
NDP: http://www.ndppei.ca/
Liberal candidates: http://www.liberalpei.ca/our-team/candidates/


Fun in Bonshaw yesterday, at a meet and greet for all candidates.  Kerry Campbell from CBC Radio came by to capture some of the fun (I should have gotten a photo of him):


Randy Robar and Peter Bevan-Baker entertained us musically, too.

The four candidates for District 17 (Peter Bevan-Baker, GP, Valerie Docherty, Liberal, Randy Robar, PC, and Jesse Reddin Cousins, NDP), Sunday, May 3rd, 2015, Bonsha

Party Differences relating to Environment and Democratic Issues (any errors or misinterpretations are mine):

Party--Leader
(home district)

Greens -- Peter Bevan-Baker
 (District 17)

Liberal --Wade MacLauchlan
(District 9)

NDP -- Mike Redmond
 (District 3)

PCs -- Rob Lantz
(District 13)

high capacity wells

keep moratorium

water act will take care of it

keep moratorium

keep moratorium -- but have science to back it

fracking ban

yes

water act will take care of it

yes

agreed, used "moratorium" wording

oil/gas drilling in Gulf moratorium

yes

didn't commit

yes

yes

cosmetic pesticides

provincial ban

current provincial legislation is good

provincial ban

provincial ban






number of MLAs

keep

keep

reduce to 15

keep

grassroots environmental rights movement / David Suzuki's Blue Dot

yes

probably a federal issue

yes

not too sure, but probably a good thing

whistleblower protection legislation

yes

(not promised)

probably

Yes

local foods in govt institution

yes

local procurement of foods

yes

yes

review of PNP, e-gaming, etc.

public inquiry

issue was decided in 2011 election; new

public inquiry

Royal Commission to look into






 


A nicely written blog -- though the author provides little details about him- or herself -- critiquing the balancing act of the Liberal Party of trying to get credit for the useful things done under the Ghiz administrations, but not mentioning the names of Robert Ghiz and Wes Sheridan or criticising it. As another wise friend noted, you don't make progress if you don't review what's been done.


Tonight, the Parties will host parties to watch results and celebrate their accomplishments, starting just after 7PM.. 
I am not sure where the Liberals are, but the Convention Centre might be a good guess.
Tories are at the Rodd CHARLOTTETOWN (Kent Street), Georgian Room.
NDP is at the Rodd ROYALTY (uptown on Capital Drive).
Greens are at Bites Cafe in Hampton, west of Bonshaw on the TCH.


Global Chorus today is by writer David Tracey, and here is an excerpt:
"It’s too bad it has to come to a crisis so big the
living Earth itself is at risk. It’s also too bad there are
still some who believe profit is worth risking the future
of everyone.  That's their burden. Right now, for the rest of
us, we have a new world to create, and so many opportunities
to thrive." --David Tracey


Enjoy the day, and of course please vote and check on your friends and neighbours to see if they need any help getting out to vote, too.

May 3, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

From yesterday's Guardian, about the City of Charlottetown's work on their cosmetic pesticide by-law.  Bold is mine:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-02/article-4132269/Reasonable-exceptions-to-pesticide-bylaw/1

Reasonable exceptions to pesticide bylaw - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

As a member of the Charlottetown Cosmetic Pesticide Ad-hoc Committee and an author of the June 2007 report, I commend the city for developing the Cosmetic Pesticides By-law (available at http://www.city.charlottetown.pe.ca/cosmeticpesticides.php).

The draft by-law is clear and straightforward and the exceptions are reasonable. The "Allowable Pesticide" list is in accordance with similar best practice cosmetic pesticide bylaws in other Canadian municipalities. (A few tweaks to the list have been suggested for consideration by the Environmental and Sustainability Officer.)  The main drawback to the bylaw is outside the city's control, since the provincial government only gave municipalities the power to regulate non-domestic pesticides - i.e., the City can only regulate commercial-grade pesticides that are applied by lawn care companies. Residents will still be able to buy and use products available on store shelves, even if not on the "Allowable list" in the bylaw.  Despite this drawback, it will be a huge step forward to enact this well-crafted bylaw, which can be used by other P.E.I. municipalities as a model. Ultimately, I encourage the province to adopt the bylaw province wide and to broaden it to include domestic pesticides for cosmetic use.

It is long past time to deal with this public health issue. I look forward to the bylaw being enacted in a timely manner and strongly urge that a comprehensive educational campaign be started this summer - aimed at reducing the use of cosmetic pesticides - as advance preparation for the by-law coming into effect.

Alice Crook, DVM, Charlottetown


Back to politics:
Today, District 17 (Kelly's Cross-Cumberland) Candidates' Meet and Greet, 11:30AM to 1:30PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road, Bonshaw -- just up Green Road past the Bonshaw Hall.  All welcome. Light refreshments.  (If you can bring a little snack to share, it would be appreciated but not necessary.) Please note that Liberal candidate Valerie Docherty will only be there from 11:30AM to 12:15PM.


Tomorrow, Monday, May 4th, Election Day:
Unlike the Advance Polls last week, which had one location per District, Voting Day has one voting location or poll for each Polling Station in a District.
If you put in your civic address, you should get your polling station address for Monday:
http://www.electionspei.ca/ivl/findDistrict.php


There was a poster which encouraged people to contact friends who live in District 17 in these communities to remind them to vote:
Appin Road // Argyle Shore // Bonshaw //  Brookvale // Canoe Cove // Churchill // Clyde River // Crosby's Mill // Crapaud //
DeSable // Dunedin // Elmwood // Emyvale // Fairview // Green Bay // Hampton // Kelly's Cross  // Kingston // Maplewood //
New Dominion // New Haven // Nine Mile Creek //  Rice Point // Rocky Point // St. Catherine's // South Melville //
Strathgartney // South Melville // Victoria
Candidates: Peter Bevan-Baker (GP), Jesse Reddin Cousins (NDP),  Valerie Docherty (Lib), Randy Robar (PC)
http://www.electionspei.ca/provincial/details/gis/pdf/district17.pdf

And here is a list of communities in District 3 (Montague-Kilmuir):
Brooklyn // Brudenell //  Caledonia //   Commercial Cross  // Glenmartin  // Heatherdale // Kilmuir // Lower Montague // Milltown Cross // 
all of Montague //  St. Mary's Road  // Sturgeon  //  Valleyfield // Whim Road
Candidates:  Andrew Daggett (PC), Jason Furness (GP), Mike Redmond (NDP), Allen Roach (Lib)
http://www.electionspei.ca/provincial/details/gis/pdf/district3.pdf


Global Chorus for May 3rd is by author and creativity expert Pamela Meyer,
who compares the openness of improvisational theatre with an approach to the future:


"The conditions, then, that are necessary to move through our current reality are to approach it with the same attitude of gift-giving as do improvisers in the theater. When we intentionally practise the principle of saying 'yes, and  …' we also create the conditions for inclusion, where there is room for all voices and perspectives to be heard and for all to build on the gifts that we bring to the party."-- Peggy Meyer

May 2, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

For your information:

District

Green

Liberal

NDP

PC

1. Souris-Elmira

n/a

Tommy Kickham

Susan Birt

Colin La Vie

2. Georgetown-St. Peter's

Heather Gallant

Russ Stewart

Nathan Bushey

Steven Meyers

3. Montague-Kilmuir

Jason Furness

Alan Roach

Mike Redmond

Andrew Daggatt

4. Belfast-Murray River

Jordan MacPhee

Charlie McGeoghegan

Alan Hicken

Darlene Compton

5. Vernon River -Stratford

Nick Graeme

Alan McIsaac

Kathleen Romans

Mary Ellen McInnis

6. Stratford - Kinlock

Samantha Saunders

David Dunphy

Chris van Ouwerkerk

James Aylward

7. Morell-Mermaid

Meaghan Lister

Dan MacDonald

Edith Perry

Sidney MacEwen

8. Tracadie-Hillsborough Park

Isaac Williams

Buck Watts

Jason Murray

Darren Creamer

9. York-Oyster Bed

Thane Bernard

Wade MacLauchlan

Gordan Gay

Jim Carragher

10. Charlottetown-Sherwood

Mitchell Gallant

Robert Mitchell

Karalee McAskill

Mike Gillis

11. Charlottetown-Parkdale

Becka Viau

Doug Currie

Andrew Watts

Lynn MacLaren

12.  Charlottetown-Victoria Park

Darcie Lanthier

Richard Brown

Chris Clay

Joey Kitson

13. Charlottetown-Brighton

Derrick Biso

Jordan Brown

Bob MacLean

Rob Lantz

14. Charlottetown-Lewes Point

Doug Millington

Kathleen Casey

Gord MacNeilly

Dianne Young

15. West Royalty- Springvale

Charles Sanderson

Bush Dumville

Peter Meggs

Linda Clements

16. Cornwall-Meadowbank

Rosalyn Riddington-Abbott

Heath MacDonald

Jennifer Coughlin

Michael Drake

17. Kelly's Cross-Cumberland

Peter Bevan-Baker

Valerie Docherty

Jesse Reddin Cousins

Randy Robar

18. Rustico-Emerald

Marianne Janowicz

Bertha Campbell

Leah-Jane Hayward

Brad Trivers

19. Borden-Kinkora

Ranald Macfarlane

Ramona Roberts

Aleida Tweton

Jamie Fox

20. Kensington-Malpeque

Lynne Lund

Paul Montgomery

Joe Larkin

Matthew MacKay

21.  Summerside -Wilmot

Donald MacFadzen-Reid

Janice Sherry

Scott Gaudet

Brian Ramsay

22. Summerside-St.Eleanor's

Caleb Adams

Tina Mundy

Olivia Wood

Major Stewart

23. Tyne Valley-Linkletter

Shelagh Young

Paula Biggar

Jacqueline Tuplin

Ryan Williams

24. Evangeline-Miscouche

Jordan Cameron

Sonny Gallant

Grant Gallant

Debbie Montgomery

25. O'Leary-Inverness

n/a

Robert Henderson

Billy Mackendrick

Daniel MacDonald

26. Alberton-Roseville

n/a

Pat Murphy

Orville Lewis

John Griffin

27. Tignish-Palmer Road

Malcolm Pitre

Hal Perry

John A'Hearn

Joseph Profit

any inaccuracies are mine and with apologies

Which District is which?
http://www.electionspei.ca/provincial/districts/

Where do you vote?
http://www.electionspei.ca/ivl/findDistrict.php

---------
Being PEI, I saw Buck Watts (Liberal candidate for District 8 Tracadie-Hillsborough Park) outside a Co-op food store yesterday, and he mentioned he is hosting a pancake breakfast this morning (9-11AM, Hillsborough Park Community Centre), and realizing how few times the candidates have gotten together, has welcomed the other candidates to attend.

In Alberta yesterday, with a possible NDP win in their provincial election (Tuesday), a Green party candidate in a District  quit the race and threw his support to the NDP candidate:
"(Noel) Keough says he and his party decided he should leave the race to limit vote-splitting among progressive voters."
http://www.cbc.ca/news/elections/alberta-votes/alberta-election-calgary-klein-green-candidate-drops-out-supports-ndp-1.3055289

A local point of view:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2015-05-01/article-4131880/Islanders-need-honest-MLAs/1

Islanders Need Honest MLAs -The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Ppublished on Friday, May 1st, 2015

Regarding your April 30 editorial "NDP, Greens miss chance to co-operate":

Many Islanders who are actively involved in the election want to work as much as possible with all our allies on the current issues of ending patronage and corruption, getting democratic reform, and making the restoration and protection of P.E.I.’s natural environment the first consideration in government policy and practice.

So we are doing what we can to get good candidates elected, especially in the NDP and the Green Party, who have a clean record and should be given a chance to show how they can bring honesty and integrity to the P.E.I. Legislature.

However, as much as we would like to make the campaign easier for our favourite candidates, it is just as important to give all Islanders the chance to make an informed vote for the party of their choice. This is a democratic principle that can't be ignored by "a gentleman's agreement not to run a candidate against the other's leader”. This right to informed choice should be strengthened, for example, by giving public financial support to all parties that meet the minimum to be officially registered (of having ten candidates). There should also be limits on campaign spending. (My pet peeve is the gross wastefulness of campaign signs- how about if each district had only a large public sign or two that listed all the candidates...)

The NDP and Greens in District 16 are indeed to be commended for their co-operative gesture, and let's hope for a new Legislative Assembly of Members who will work co-operatively for honest and open government- one that rejects greed, personal ambition and petty squabbling in favour of helping people, protecting nature, promoting good health and building a strong caring economy. Those are the leaders our Island needs.

Tony Reddin, Bonshaw


Today's Global Chorus essay seems pretty relevant: 

"Brazilian legal theorist Roberto Mangabeira Unger once described the fundamental problem inherent to 'social change' in the manner of a conundrum, namely that the goals achievable over a lifetime do not appear worth fighting for, while the goals actually deemed worth fighting for are not achievable over a lifetime. How does one, he asked, ind the will and indeed the means to alter the status quo, when the “future” is not part of our cost-accounting mechanisms?

Part of the answer to Unger’s riddle, I strongly believe, lies in informed, persistent and innovative public policy. Part of the answer to humanity’s future rests on our ability to design holistic approaches  – both tangible and intangible  – to tackle the most pressing realities of our global commons. Part of the answer to the issue of trans-generational reforms ultimately remains in the power of our collective institutions and the unsuspected value that can be unlocked from smart governance."-- Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiya, executive chairman of the Qatar National Food Security Programme

May 1, 2015

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today is the final Advance Poll, 9AM to 7PM, for the provincial election.  Each District has one advance polling station (as opposed to one for each polling division) in each district).  List of Districts and Polling Stations, below.
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A longer and larger political panel will be meeting on CBC Radio from about 7:15AM, taking a break for the news, and continuing to 8AM.  Joining host Matt Rainnie will be "anchor" Paul MacNeill, NDP federal candidate Joe Byrne, Green Party supporter Roy Johnstone, Liberal spokesperson Mary Lynn Kane, and Margaret Anne (sorry, cannot remember last name) for the PCs.
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Big campaign goings-on today:

The NDP is holding a Rally in Montague, District 3, early this morning, and federal NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie will be campaigning with NDP PEI leader Mike Redmond.

Elizabeth May, federal Green Party leader, will be arriving at the Charlottetown airport at 8:45AM, speaking at St. Paul's at 10AM,
101 Prince Street, Charlottetown.  Doors open at 9:30, and seating is bit limited, and most candidates will be campaigning in their own districts.

The PCs are holding a Rally tonight at the Eastlink Civic Centre tonight, and The Liberals are also rallying at the PEI Convention Centre.

All are welcome at all the above events.

Meant to mention this earlier: At the Federation of Agriculture forum/debate Tuesday night in Charlottetown, Alan McIsaac, dairy farmer and current minister of Education and of Transportation and Liberal candidate for District 5 (Vernon River-Stratford) and John Griffin, potato farmer and District 26 (Alberton-Roseville) PC candidate, represented the Liberals and PCs, respectively. 


Last night was the final, final leaders' debate of this campaign, and the debate format was much more "interactive."  If you are like me and not able to attend or have Eastlink, you may not be able to view it, and the organizers did not allow any live-streaming.

Though sponsor The Guardian says the debate will be rebroadcast in its entirely on CPAC channels, their website lists a story on PEI's election, which would likely include highlights from the debate, Saturday at 7PM, and Sunday evening (not sure of schedule):
http://www.cpac.ca/en/full-schedule/?tz=ast


Islander musician and writer Todd MacLean created his first book last year, Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, and in order to remind myself to read each day's essay, I'm including an excerpt in each day's Citizens' Alliance News this year (with Todd's permission).  The book with its complete essays and lovely photos and forward, is available at local bookstores, on-line, and if you happen to run into the editor.

"My generation is sleepwalking while sustainability crises are casting cruel shadows over the living world. To my students I say, don’t let oppressive jeopardies forged from our inadequacies crush you.

Turn instead to wisdom, vision, courage, justice, ingenuity and self-discipline. These mighty weapons can overcome our indifference, incompetence and greed. Kill our unsustainable legacy at its roots. 

Our money-first-in-all-things dictum must perish or your world will. Jettison the crippling precept that only humans should count when money and jobs are at stake. In our better moments, we have produced some sustainable technologies for you – sustainable energy is already a significant reality in a few wise countries.

Eliminate endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are undermining the nature of life itself, perhaps irreversibly." --  Terrence J. Collins, director of the Institute of Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University

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