CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

December 2017


  1. 1 December 31, 2017
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  2. 2 December 30, 2017
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 2.2 Global sustainability challenges in 21st century - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Palanisamy Nagarajan
  3. 3 December 29, 2017
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  4. 4 December 28, 2017
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  5. 5 December 27, 2017
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  6. 6 December 26, 2017
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  7. 7 December 25, 2017
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  8. 8 December 24, 2017
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 8.2 Public trust not warranted - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  9. 9 December 23, 2017
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 9.2 A matter of trust - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Douglas Campbell
  10. 10 December 22, 2017
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  11. 11 December 21, 2017
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  12. 12 December 20, 2017
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 12.2 Ghiz government cited for privacy breach 6 years after PNP whistleblowers came forward - CBC News online article by Kerry Campbell
  13. 13 December 19, 2017
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 13.2 OPINION: Water Act debate falls well short - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Ann Wheatley
  14. 14 December 18, 2017
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  15. 15 December 17, 2017
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 15.2 EDITORIAL: Mike Redmond ran out of options - The Guardian Main Editorial
  16. 16 December 16, 2017
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  17. 17 December 15, 2017
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  18. 18 December 14, 2017
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  19. 19 December 13, 2017
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 19.2 OPINION: Why relying on GDP is unethical - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Kevin J. Arsenault
  20. 20 December 12, 2017
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  21. 21 December 11, 2017
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 21.2 Hopeful Agriculture - Green Party of Prince Edward Island on-line article by Sally Bernard
    3. 21.3 Nova Scotia’s protected areas attacked by mining and quarry companies - NS Advocate article on-line by Robert Duvet
  22. 22 December 10, 2017
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  23. 23 December 9, 2017
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  24. 24 December 8, 2017
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 24.2 Gaps in P.E.I.'s Water Act - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Catherine O'Brien and Marie Ann Bowden
  25. 25 December 7, 2017
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  26. 26 December 6, 2017
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  27. 27 December 5, 2017
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  28. 28 December 4, 2017
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 28.2 LETTER: Water Act debate almost impossible - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  29. 29 December 3, 2017
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 29.2 OPINION: A troubling issue - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Gary Schneider and Don Mazer
  30. 30 December 2, 2017
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 30.2 OPINION: Elected officials out of touch - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Judy Barrett
  31. 31 December 1, 2017
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News

December 31, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Hello, and Happy New Year's Eve!

Levees not quite on New Year's Day:
Premier's Levee is tomorrow (3-4PM, Confed Centre), but today is the
District 9 York-Oyster Bed New Year's Eve Levee, 2-4PM, North Shore Community Centre (Covehead Road, York), hosted by the District 9 Liberal Association and the Premier.

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018:
PEI Coalition for Women in Government's New Year's Levee, 4-6PM,
St. Peter's Cathedral Hall, all welcome.
Facebook event details

This is a letter to the editor of The New Glasgow News, about Northern Pulp's plans to dump its effluent, about the concerns of fishers, and the inadequacy of the federal and provincial environmental impact assessments.

And a National Post story with some background, from last week:
One of the best lines, from author of a book on the pulp mill, Joan Baxter:

Joan Baxter is the author of The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest, which provides a critical history of the company. But she says she sees the main culprits as successive governments that have failed to protect the environment and people’s health.

“They are desperate for jobs because they want young people to be able to stay in the province,” she says. “Every time (the government) sees a big multinational coming, they take it as proof that we’re a great place to work, instead of perhaps that we’re a great place to get what you want."

That reminds me of another province, and AquaBounty came to mind.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.  Her story (Wikipeida basicsthe website devoted to her) is worth spending some time reading, and she writes the most lyrical, and stunning, ending to the Global Chorus anthologies.

        There’s a hospital in my town that has the Maya Angelou Women’s Health & Wellness Center in it, and in each wing there are statements which say, “I promise to treat every patient as if she’s a valued member of my family.” “I promise to treat the hospital as my home, and respect it and keep it clean.” This is what we should be doing on our planet. Because this is all we have, as far as we can be sure. We may have walked on the moon, but nobody is colonizing another planet. So we should be careful with how we treat this planet, since it is not only our home now, and has been the home of our ancestors, but is going to be the home of our children to come. And so we should be careful with it – be careful with the temperature, and we should look after ourselves and our home with respect and gratitude: to have a constant attitude of gratitude.
        We really have enough food on this planet to feed everybody alive. We don’t need to have somebody starving in order for us to give. We are encouraged by every religious tract, whether the Bible, or the Talmud, or the Torah, or the Bhagavad Gita, to be respectful and care for each other. And that is whether we look alike – whether we are caring for somebody who looks like us and speaks our language or not. Until we evolve into a group which has enough courage to really care about each other, we will continue to be at odds.
        When I speak of love, I speak of that condition in the human spirit so profound that it encourages us to develop courage – courage enough to care for somebody else, who may not look like us, who may call God a different name if they call God at all. I don’t speak of sentimentality when I’m speaking of love. I speak of that condition which may be that which holds the stars in the firmament. That causes the blood to run orderly through our veins. It’s a powerful condition. It crosses ignorance. It spans the mountains and the rivers. It dares us, and allows us, to look after someone else’s children. To care about the people who are yet to come. That, to me, is love. And this is our way forward.
        — Maya Angelou

December 30, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open today in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM), for shopping for the second shorter week of the holidays and regular needs.

Peter Rukavina has put together the 2018 New Year's Day Levee list on his website.  Quite a list.  I'll be helping set out coffee and an array of homemade little breakfast goodies at the PEI Women's Institute/Farm Centre/4H, from 10:30AM-noon at the Farm Centre on University Avenue.  You can pair it with Upstreet Craft Brewing's Levee (10AM-noon), just around the corner, and still take in the rest of the early ones, or start the afternoon ones, if you are a Levee-goer. 

After hearing year-end interviews with our provincial leaders, and seeing how the Premier has focused on the economy as what he is very proud of, it's sobering to read this column, which really puts in all in perspective.  There are many who think the provincial responsibilities to its residents can be met without focusing solely on economic growth. Save thing to read when you have a chance.

published on Friday, December 29th, 2017, in The Guardian, column on the op-ed page.

Global sustainability challenges in 21st century - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Palanisamy Nagarajan

We have behaved as though we could indefinitely burn and consume our way to prosperity

Myriads interconnected and interdependent global challenges, with complex feedback effects, have engulfed the world now. These challenges range from unsustainable growth trajectory, grim future of work for a growing population arising from artificial intelligence-driven robotics technology, food, energy and water insecurity, worsening environmental degradation, climate chaos, global warming and looming health crisis. 

These problems did not arise from nowhere. They are mostly the dire consequences of the development traps we have set ourselves, especially since the mid-20th century. Under the illusions of scientific and technological advancements to promote economic growth, we have unwittingly embarked upon the process of accelerating the transformation of the only known livable planet Earth without fully comprehending the inevitable long-term consequences. 

Unfortunately, there is no easy out. To get out of it, we must escape from the mainstream economics fundamental myth that sky is the limit to economic growth. Also, it is long overdue to dethrone a seriously flawed GDP metrics to measure economic progress. Besides, it is imperative to escape from our trapped thinking that an ever-increasing economic growth, of any kind and at any cost, is the only solution to most social and economic problems as well as for the enhancement of human well-being.(he repeats:) It is long overdue to dethrone a seriously flawed GDP metrics to measure economic progress.

Now, we have entered the Age of Humans or Anthropocene, with an incredible growth of technosphere. We have yet to fully grasp that we have been slowly endangering the planet Earth's life-supporting system of all the living beings.
 Our Earth's technosphere now is estimated to weigh some 30 trillion tons, signifying a mass of more than 50 kilos for every square meter of Earth's surface, according to a recent paper published in the journal The Anthropocene Review. The study was led by professors Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams and Colin Waters from the University Of Leicester Department Of Geology.

"The technosphere is the brainchild of the USA scientist Peter Haff - also one of the co-authors of this paper. It is all the structures that humans have constructed to keep them alive, in very numbers now, on the planet: houses, factories, farms, mines, roads, airports, and shipping ports, computer systems, together with its discarded waste," says Professor Zalasiewicz.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that our technosphere, a human-made system in the planet Earth's system, with its intricate dynamics and energy flows, is on a collision course with the Earth's natural systems. Long-term consequences for the sustainability of the biosphere are yet to be known.

Forty-five years ago, the first UN Conference on the Human Environment, pointed out the growing evidence of human-caused harm in many parts of the earth and unacceptable disruptions to the ecological balance of the biosphere. 
In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), warned that unbearable environmental damages and human sufferings are inevitable if we fail to change many of our unsustainable production and consumption patterns conflicting with the planet Earth's carrying capacity. 

In 2012, speaking at the ceremonial Opening Session of Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon said: “We gather in Rio de Janerio to shape the future of humankind. Let us not mistake this for mere hyperbole rhetoric. To the contrary, we are here to face the existential threat. For too long, we have behaved as though we could indefinitely burn and consume our way to prosperity. Today, we recognize that we can no longer do so." 

Two years ago, governments worldwide adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and agreed to a 15-year plan to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”. It is one of 17 quixotic goals governments are trying to achieve in the next 13 years.

We are at a crossroads, stuck with a flawed economic paradigm and a broken development model. The present world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion by 2030. In this context, the probability of ending poverty in all its forms everywhere is almost zero.

Without an integrated trans disciplinary paradigm, we would be just muddling through the global sustainability challenges forever.

- Dr. Palanisamy Nagarajanis, Emeritus Professor of Economics & Island Studies Teaching Fellow, University of Prince Edward Island

David W. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor at Oberlin College, Ohio, and his essay is used in the December 30th Global Chorus anthology.

        No sane gambler would bet on us. Armed and dangerous, we are loading the atmosphere with carbon as fast as we can, thereby changing the climatic and ecological conditions necessary to our own survival. The reasons are said to be economic necessity, but to paraphrase Thoreau, what good is a booming economy if you don’t have a decent planet to put it on?
        For a species pleased to call itself Homo sapiens our situation is ironic. Many scientists saw the peril decades ago, but the powers that be were deaf to warnings and dumb to opportunities.
        That too is ironic because the knowledge and capacity to build a sunshine-powered, ecologically resilient civilization has grown in pace with the dangers. It is possible to power civilization by efficiency and sunlight, feed humanity sustainably, eliminate waste and build cities in harmony with Nature. Such things are not just technically possible and economically feasible, they are moral imperatives.
        Are there grounds for optimism? Not if you know enough. Are there reasons for despair? Not if you care enough. But in contrast to optimism or despair, hope requires us to act in ways that change the odds. And everywhere on Earth, people are rising to the challenge. They are dreaming, planting, building, tending, caring, healing, organizing and restoring. They are working from the bottom up to lay the foundation for decent and durable communities and societies. And someday, on a farther horizon, our descendants will know that this was, indeed, humankind’s “finest hour.”
        — David Orr

December 29, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

After the 7:30AM news, CBC Island Morning radio is having its last political panel of 2017, with current regulars Dennis King, Mary Lynn Kane, Paul MacNeill and this week Green Party supporter Roy Johnstone.  (Roy has been fantastic whenever he appears, whether discussing issues from the Green perspective or, a little while back, dealing with then-Transportation Minister and now-Wade MacLauchlan's chief of staff Robert Vessey about the inanity of the Plan B highway project.)

On the topic of inanity, yesterday, The Guardian main editorial had the best one-liner response to the Premier's assessment of when the next provincial election would be:

Excerpt:  The intent and spirit of the legislation is to stop crass opportunism on election calls for political gain. The premier appears ready to violate both tenets. “If circumstances arise or if the conditions require, in sensible judgment, that the date occur as it’s supposed to then it will,” Premier MacLauchlan said. No one is sure what that means.

But it's pretty obvious that clear discussion and meaningful public awareness of the proportional representation referendum will suffer if the election date is monkeyed around with snap announcements.


Yesterday, I mentioned the federal and larger organizations that you could consider a year-end donation.  A local organization like Cooper Institute is also a registered charity and is "...a development education centre engaged in popular education and research. The institute was established in 1984 and with groups that are organized for social change, such as primary producers, workers, First Nations, and women's organizations."  from:
Cooper Institute is also a member of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water and of the PEI Proportional Representation Coalition, and provides much support to these groups.

Guujaaw (also know as Gary Edenshaw) is a singer, activist and leader, and is from the Haida family of the Raven moiety.  He contributed this poem used for the December 29th entry in the Global Chorus anthology. My apologies for any errors in indentation and layout.

what of the Beast
that has no face 
                    no head 
                            no heart within
                the motherless Beast  
    though born of man
                    became his master
     the wily Beast
            revels in our selfish desires
    while guiding its makers
            to their own demise

   the Beast feels no guilt
                    as it spoils the earth
and no regard
                   for the sentient being

the powerful Beast
               it rules the rulers 
    and rids itself
                of those in its way

our fathers sit at its table 
                do its bidding
                        then reap its reward  
       … or be replaced by another

the repulsive Beast 
            will not be satisfied
                        and cannot be slain  
    though the beast be unleashed
                    it is within …

to the Beast we say   
    Enough, you loathsome error
            you bring no peace 
                            you bring no love
                be off with you 
We are of life 
           precious life  
                    it is time for living
        — Guujaaw

December 28, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

It's that time of year when there are many choices if you are able and wish to do some year end contributions to various organizations:

  • Political parties of your choice:

Information from "Tax" with some basic information and a chart that shows federal contributions and tax credits given:

  • Many registered charities will also be able to give donors a tax receipt for their contribution.

Here is a page with a link to a comprehensive list of registered environmental charities, from lawyer Mark Blumberg's "Global Philanthropy" site:

and an "exploration of some of Canada'e environmental charities, by Canada Helps organization:

  • Then there are organizations like the Council of Canadians...

"The Council of Canadians operates with no corporate or government funding, and always has. Our work is 100 per cent independent and sustained by generous donations from people like you. Due to our political work, the Council of Canadians is not a registered charity."

            ...which could still use donations.

The Council of Canadians' holiday message is:

During this season that celebrates peace and goodwill to all, let us continue to build a better world that includes:

1- The right to water and sanitation, clean drinking water for all, the public ownership of water utilities, and the full protection of all water sources.

2- The public ownership of energy resources, energy democracy, energy efficiency and public transit, just transition strategies for workers in the fossil fuel economy, and a 100 per cent renewable energy future by 2050.

3- Fair trade that promotes the creation of permanent, well-paying jobs, the right of governments to regulate in the public interest, the prioritization of environmental protection, and where the judiciary arbitrates on trade related disputes.

4- The full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, notably the right to free, prior and informed consent, and respect for inherent rights and title.

5- A fully public health care system, that promotes well-being and includes a universal and public drug coverage program.

6- A functioning democracy with proportional representation, public participation in decision-making, and involvement in meaningful consultations in between elections.

7- A democratic economy that meets the needs of the environment and workers, prioritizes a sufficient income for all, the elimination of wealth disparities, full protection for all workers, and an end to poverty.

8- Global relations based on peace, social solidarity, equality, a community of nations, the elimination of nuclear weapons, and the free movement of people.

9- Air, water and other shared resources necessary for life to be accessible to all members of society and held in common as a public trust.

10- Justice, equal rights, accessibility and inclusion for all.

Ta’Kaiya Blaney is a singer/songwriter and youth environmental activist, from the Tla'Amin First Nation along the shores of the Salish Sea in British Columbia. She wrote the essay for the December 28th Global Chorus anthology.  Her website is here:

We humans have been travelling on a road of consumerism. Ever since the start of the industrial revolution (which brought about corporate colonization and environmental injustice), we’ve been witnessing signs saying “Stop,” “Dead End,” “Yield,” and “Wrong Way.” We continue to drive ahead despite the obvious. Our steering wheel is becoming weaker and weaker, and our brakes are becoming looser and less functional. Our warnings have been given. Someday we’ll drive off that cliff and fall, and then there’s no turning back. Presently, we’re still driving on that road, and our solutions lie right in front of our noses.
        Our options for our future under the context of sustainability are vast and wide, yet we make no actions to officially begin using our alternatives. Why? Why do we continue to wait for change in our societies, led by authorities such as our prime ministers and officials? We are denying the fact that if we wait for change it may never come.
        We must be the voice, for that is what we were given. Our role is to be the Healer, the Warrior and the Teacher. We must be the change for our many generations to come, and for our Mother Earth.
        The decisions made within the last few centuries shaped our society into what it is today. I believe that positive decisions made today to influence sustainability can also shape the society of the next generation and the generations to come. However, we need our actions to flow now, and our change needs to happen before our steering wheel slacks, and we plunge from the cliff. We still have time to turn around.
        We have a voice to speak up, and a superpower called change. Let’s use it. :)
        — Ta’Kaiya Blaney

December 27, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This is happening in about 15 minutes, if you are up (if I find a link later, I will share it):

This morning:
Lois Corbett, the executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, will be on the New Brunswick Information Morning shows on CBC Radio this morning at 7:15AM, to talk about the recently released provincial (N.B.) water protection strategy.
You can listen on-line here:

Related materials and the press release are here:

Seeing what New Brunswick is doing should be interesting reading as we head into the new year and the beginning of public consultations on the regulations associated with the P.E.I. Water Act.

Xavier Rudd is an Australian singer and artist, and wrote the essay for the December 27th entry in the anthology, Global Chorus. More about him on his website:

If I think too much about this topic I find myself hitting a brick wall, as the issue is so layered and so vast. If I feel it out in my heart and my dreaming, certain messages arrive: if every human being on the planet began with taking even one minute in their day to simply reflect on the fact that we are of this Earth and not just on this Earth, would that alone start a swing towards healing the simple energetic connection between human and land? As we know, energy is in everything and its power is often overlooked. And by changing each individual’s energetic focus on the importance of our Earth, even without physically doing anything, it would be an important start in reigniting the lost sacred harmony between human and Earth, which has been the platform for so much environmental destruction.
        We are seeing more and more little pockets of society taking their own initiatives to educate and implement sustainable living practices and to stand up with force against environmental threat. These ideals need to grow and expand and our children have to be somewhat reprogrammed. The power of the Internet in activism has proven to be amazing and really is all so new in the scheme of things. If we consider victories we’ve had at this point, it is exciting to imagine the power of our Earth guardians and the spread of imperative environmental education even only ten years from now. It is extremely important that active groups become more united around the planet. There is too much division and that alone is unsustainable. If we are to create conditions necessary for our own survival, we are going to need to build a massive syndicate greater than anything we’ve ever seen in order to be able to keep things on track.
        Yes we have hope – hope is revealed daily in our magical ancient ecosystems still thriving around our Earth. Victories like the recent win at James Price Point in the Kimberley and the many sustainable-living practices growing daily show that we can do it. The big question is time and the balance of the scales between the healing and the destruction. Either way, I feel our great Mother will be okay eventually, whether she hosts humans or not, and that makes me smile.
        — Xavier Rudd

December 26, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy Boxing Day, everyone!

Thanks for the many words of good cheer, and for making some time in your day to read these newsletters.  Since Boxing Day is such an upside-down day, and most of us sedentary, here is the Global Chorus essay for December 26th from the not-so-sedentary but certainly sedulous Bill McKibben.  He is an author, educator, environmentalist, and founder of

        I decided some time ago that I was going to spend no more energy trying to figure out if things were going to come out alright or not. We’re engaged in a civilization-scale wager with enormously high stakes – my role, I think, is to get up every morning and try to change the odds of that wager a little bit, without any guarantee that it will come out okay.
        And there can be no guarantee, I fear, for we’ve done massive damage to the planet’s most important physical systems. The most important of these is the climate – after 10,000 quite stable years, the period that scientists call the Holocene, we’ve moved on to a new, much tougher period. How tough is still up to us, though the damage done so far (the melted Arctic, for instance) is sobering.
        In short, the single thing we must do is get off fossil fuel, and in a matter of years. Physically we could do it, but it would mean a colossal effort, in the face of the power of the coal, oil and gas industries, the richest and most powerful enterprises in human history. It would mean changing some of our rich-world notions about economic growth. And it would mean, most of all, trading in the hyper-individualism of high consumer society for tighter, closer communities. Cultural, technological, political change of large magnitude, in other words. There are days I think it can’t be done, and days – looking at the huge swath of organizing has managed to do in the last three years – when I think we might just figure out a way. But as I say, I’m not going to think any more about it. Back to work, all of us!
        — Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben has filmed an annual appeal for donations, last year featuring his dog, Birke, who he figured was more...well, appealing.  This year, Bill chats for a bit and shows a clip of the dog getting his point across.   A little over two minutes about a serious subject that will make you smile.

A  little more about Bill McKibben from his own website:

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement. 

The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College  (Vermont) <snip>..... and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities.....

A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors.  In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni--in his honor.

(A woodland gnat named in his honour -- biologists have such a sense of humour.)

That part about being a former staff writer for The New Yorker explains his engaging and impeccable writing style. 

This link:
is an article by McKibben on clean power in Vermont, originally shared with me by the well-read and kind-hearted Ian Petrie.  Some thoughts to take-away for P.E.I. in the article.  It's a long read for the sedentary part of today.


Some of the best images used on have been captured by Robert van Waarden, who makes the New Glasgow area his home with his family.  Here is his website, with such arresting images and words.

December 25, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Merry Christmas to all, and here is small gift, Summerside native, poet and artist Tanya Davis capturing the complexity, and the simplicity, of the season.

Love As Well As Gifts
by Tanya Davis

What if angels were just people having generous days
and the realms of glory were all the world's corners from which they came
and the night was silent 'cause no one was crying out in loneliness or pain?

What if coming home for christmas meant you never had to run again
and no bombs dropped and there really were good kings
and all ye faithful came together while having faith in different things.

What if the most wonderful day of the year 
was 'cause peace on earth was finally here
no matter what or where we sing

This is my resilient daydream
I call it: joy to the world
I have it all year long
while I make my way through the world
I am not that strong
I crumble often from the truth 
like the fact that guns and bombs are still lawful things we use
and there's too much yet there's not enough food
and still the void we're aching with – the pain, the love, the wound

Meanwhile empty tables
meanwhile we sing carols preaching morals that we're scared of
we are wary more of strangers, giving gifts while building walls

It's a host of contradictions and christmas won't fix it
I crave connection as I close off to it.

Can you see me?
Do you hear what I hear, it's the sadness of humanity
it's the basic human joy 
it's the bonds thereof, it's the bombs of lost love
once we all have love enough – o holy night

And by the sun's returning shine I trust we will
in the meantime let us align our hearts with our goodwill
open arms for strangers seeking refuge in our midst
while welcoming our neighbours with love as well as gifts.
        --Tanya Davis

Her reading of it was captured at the Halifax CBC "Information Morning" Food Bank Show in 2015.  An interview with her (which begins at 16:50minutes in) was played on CBC's "The Story From Here", and she reads the poem, beginning at 20minutes.

If you want to hear Tanya read more of her words, and be reminding of what farming is, was and can be, the 25-minute film
Island Green is about as credible information as there is.  Mille Clarkes' documentary can be found on the National Film Board site, here.

For this December 25th entry, editor Todd MacLean writes, "Applicable extracts from various public addresses have been arranged below to bring forth Nelson Mandela’s representation in Global Chorus".  Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), was an anti-apartheid activist and former President of South Africa.

  When I go to the place and area of my birth, so often as I do, the changed geography of the place strikes me with a force that I cannot escape. And that geography is not one of mere landscapes and topography, it is the geography of the people. Where once there were trees and even forests, we now see barrenness …
        I try to live by the simple precept of making the world one in which there is a better life for all, particularly the poor, marginalized and vulnerable. A devastated geography makes for a devastated people …
        Let us stand together to make of our world a sustainable source for our future as humanity on this planet.
        The world is becoming ever more interdependent. What each one of us does as an independent nation impacts on others. We therefore have no choice but to build a system of relations which, while it guarantees such independence and seeks to exclude the possibility of one country’s imposing its will on another, creates the possibility for each to have a meaningful say in how we should live together in one peaceful, stable, prosperous and free world.
        The new world that is being born foresees the dawn of the age of peace, in which wars within nations, between countries and among peoples will be a thing of the past.
        Peace is not just the absence of conflict; peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish, regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, class, caste or any other social markers of difference. Religion, ethnicity, language, social and cultural practices are elements which enrich human civilization, adding to the wealth of our diversity. Why should they be allowed to become a cause of division and violence? We demean our common humanity by allowing that to happen …
        Human beings will always be able to find arguments for confrontation and no compromise. We humans are, however, the beings capable of reason, compassion and change. May this be the century of compassion, peace and non-violence … in all the conflict-ridden parts of the world and on our planet universally.
        — Nelson Mandela

December 24, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Getting ready for least the trash we'll undoubtedly produce.

"At this time of year, the biggest gift you can give to the environment is to simply reduce the waste you produce," Island Waste Management's Heather Myers says.

That quote is from Sara Fraser at CBC News on-line, in an extensive story on sorting Christmas trash, here, but the main points are:

  • COMPOST:  Most wrapping paper, greeting cards and present box boxboard (not wavy like corrugated cardboard)
  • WASTE: Tinsel, foil wrapping paper, bows, styrofoam, and broken and artificial stuff.  Wreaths, unless you dismantle them scrupulously into their components.
  • TREE PICK-UP: Real trees can be picked-up curbside if they are out before 7AM, Monday, January 8th.


A clear rebuke.

published on Saturday, December 23rd, 2017, in The Guardian

Public trust not warranted - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Privacy commissioner Karen Rose finally released her report on government's mistreatment of three whistleblowers associated with the PNP program in 2011. The premier's response, capped by an unenthusiastic apology, left little doubt that the current government feels no responsibility for any action taken by its predecessor.

This is despite eleven of its caucus members retained from this administration. Continuity in the ranks of senior civil servants and Liberal party apparatus evidently does not provide grounds for any degree of accountability either.

The only explanation for this must lie in a mass epiphany shared by all these people. As to when the rubber hit the road on this path to righteousness is certainly open to conjecture. Perhaps it followed the premier’s change of heart on corporate donations to political parties.

Maybe on the heels of kicking the results of the democratic renewal plebiscite to the curb. Or possibly following the taking of the Montague manor off the table while fast tracking a new liquor store. The possibilities are limitless.

As the sitting of the legislature ground to a close, several pieces of legislation were still on the table, some of which are flawed and incomplete. They retain primary control for the minister responsible and/or the so-called executive branch of government. This presumes a generous measure of public trust.

Given the current terms of engagement used by government, I don't think this trust is warranted.

Boyd Allen, Pownal

Tara MacLean is actually not the sister of Global Chorus editor Todd MacLean, someone kindly pointed out to me.  Her actual family must be very proud to claim her.

Today's essay is written by Dr. Kira Salak, journalist, philosopher, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and "extreme adventurer",  author of The Cruelest Journey: 600 Miles to Timbuktu.

Do you think this world of ours must be changed? Or must we instead change ourselves?
        When we lose our faith in God, in the goodness of the Universe, the world becomes a barren, heartless place, and we, its prisoners.
        Hope for this world must start from within.
        It must begin with a faith – a knowingness – that all that happens needs to happen. All of it. The “good,” the “bad.” Everything is evolving to the next level.
        Through our triumphs, we bring grace to the world. Through our pains, our anguishes, we learn how to open our hearts to compassion.
        It is compassion that will save this world, and nothing else.
        It is compassion that will save all of us.
        — Kira Salak

December 23, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM) today.  Prepare that things may be a little crowded but there will be lots of holiday cheer.

The P.E.I. government announced in the Legislature Friday, December 8th, and in this press release, about the Farm Food Care PEI program, "a coalition of farmers, agriculture and food partners and government working together to provide credible information on food and farming."  The words "to provide credible information" stuck out as they are repeated several times in the press release, with the provincial government  to "invest" $100,000 in the packaging of the messages.

Here is a opinion piece by farmer and National Farmers Union District Director Douglas Campbell.  I was going to bold more sections with especially good points, but the whole thing is worth a slow read, and worth sharing.

A matter of trust - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Douglas Campbell

published on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017, in The Guardian

Another sign of a huge disconnect between the majority of Islanders and government

Farm and Food Care P.E.I. is officially launched. The National Farmers Union (NFU) had been following this initiative long before the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture (PEIFA), announced in summer, 2017 that it was hiring a co-ordinator for the then-proposed program in P.E.I. From the beginning the NFU suspected what interests are being served by Farm and Food Care.

The NFU has reason to be concerned about the power of big agro-industry in this program. We also have wondered why the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries was so eager to establish in P.E.I. a branch of Farm and Food Care, now known as the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI). So let’s connect a few of the dots.

First of all, for an explanation of the Department’s persistent fervour to set up Farm and Food Care in P.E.I., it is significant that the current Deputy Minister of Agriculture, John Jamieson, former executive director of the PEIFA, served on the Board of Farm and Food Care Canada. Add to this the fact that the Department turned its program over to the PEIFA, an organization which has displayed its pro-government, pro-industrial interest. This does not look good for government transparency.

Secondly, the NFU is particularly concerned about how much influence major agro-business has over the P.E.I. program. We know that Canadian Centre for Food Integrity is affiliated with its U.S. counterpart. The American Centre for Food Integrity gives full display to the financial contributions and involvement of industry giants such as Monsanto, McDonald's and ConAgra Foods. The Canadian organization, CCFI, now part of the P.E.I. agriculture scene, has its own big names. Donors to the Farm & Food Care Canada include a long list of agri-business trade associations and companies, including Maple Leaf Foods, Burnbrae Farms (Canada's largest egg company) and Cargill.

The NFU’s central concern is how ‘public trust,’ the main pillar of the Canadian Centre of Food Integrity, became identified as a major issue for P.E.I. food production. More importantly we wonder about the meaning of public trust in P.E.I. The federal department (Agriculture and Agrifood Canada) also presents public trust as a concern, which it is willing to fund through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership. If public trust is the issue, these two governments must be recognizing some level of mistrust.

The NFU observed that public trust is in question only when numbers in the Island community do not trust the system and practices of production and distribution. The P.E.I. community over the years has been on the alert about any agriculture that is designed for any, or all of the following: stimulating food production as a huge profit-maker for the corporate sector and to enhance the province’s revenue; making a few well-connected farmers rich (temporarily); disparaging the people’s attempts to prioritize the protection of land, air and water; inventing cosmetic improvement to hide the real ecological damage of industrial farming.

The proponents of Farm and Food Care seem to feel that the general public is lacking in knowledge about farming and food. The Farm and Food Care promoters seem to ignore the high level of awareness of Islanders about how land, water, and the whole ecosystem is being threatened by the major players in the industry. This is in fact deep-seated knowledge about the realities of how food is produced and how safe, or unsafe, the production is for the ecosystem, and especially for eaters.

No amount of glossy communications, forums, or farm visits will alleviate the community’s concerns/fear about what is in our food, and how the land and water are being mined and drained in the production processes.

The National Farmers Union sees the development of Farm and Food Care P.E.I. as another sign of the huge disconnect between the majority of P.E.I. people and Government of P.E.I. This opens up again the question of who has the attentive ear of government.

- Douglas Campbell is a dairy farmer in Southwest Lot 16, and District Director of the National Farmers Union

Tara MacLean, singer/songwriter, mother, activist, and I think the extremely talented sister of Todd MacLean, editor of the Global Chorus anthology.  She says a lot in a few paragraphs.

        Instead of continuing to hurt and hide from the devastation I saw in the world, I picked up a guitar and sang what I felt. I sang to others. This one act of choosing not to hide saved my life. It released me and paved the way for a life of connection. I went to protests, blockaded the logging trucks that were clear-cutting the ancient rainforests and spent two weeks in jail. I had never felt so free.
        This is a crucial time for real connection. It is time to stop hiding. It is time to forgive. When Buffy Sainte-Marie was asked how she forgives those who have done so much harm to her people, she answered that we are a very young species, and in that understanding, she finds deep compassion for us all. This is an essential key to our survival.
        It seems that humanity is in the “toddler” phase of its evolution. We have some words, but mostly we hit, bite and destroy. We are distracted all the time, mostly with our own suffering. We are blinded and trapped by anger, self-pity and righteousness. Mine! My view, my pain, my reactions! We crash into things, throw tantrums and create chaos.
        What if growing up means learning that the pain in life is a necessary part of the experience of being alive? It exists to forge us into stronger, greater beings. We hurt each other, we hurt the Earth and we make mistakes. This is how we learn. Knowing that, we could even be grateful for the suffering and practise Radical Forgiveness. So forgiveness and compassion really are the same: seeing clearly that we are not separate.
        Forgive yourself and everyone else. Let it go. We are all human and fallible. Stop crashing, start connecting. With this action you help to eliminate the seeds of war. This is a revolutionary act because it leads us out of ignorance. With an uncluttered mind, free from anxiety and self-pity, imagine what we could do! We could truly serve one another and the planet, united to face the bigger issues at hand. It is time for a revolution.
        Find your words. Sing your song. Save the world.
        — Tara MacLean

December 22, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Food and Warmth Show 2017, 7-11PM
, Florence Simmons Performance Hall.  Cash tickets $20 or $15 with a food donation.  More Soul, Richard Wood and Gordon Belsher, and many more.  Including, of course, Todd MacLean, and his fellow Amanda Jackson Band members.  Todd edited the Global Chorus: 365 Voices for the Future of the Planet, which he kindly lets me share each day.
Facebook event details

A Dunk'n Special Holiday/Solstice Celebration!, 7:30PM, The Dunk (3864 Dixon Road), featuring the "funky music of Keep The Wolves." Bonfire and dancing (outside and inside).  Admission by donation.
Facebook event details

Watch for Ursa Minorid meteors tonight (if it is clear), starting by the Little Dipper (or Bear).  They peak tonight, which happens to be diligent amateur astronomer Glenn K. Roberts' birthday, as he mentioned in his astronomy column in his December 2017 Guardian article (the citation for which I cannot yet).  Happy Solstice, too.

It was with a smile that peace and harmony was reestablished when Peter Bevan-Baker and Speaker of the P.E.I. Legislature Buck Watts met yesterday to discuss the last day of the Legislature, with Peter's reprobation of some attitudes and behaviour in the House, and The Speaker's reaction to that. Those two are Islanders with hearts as big as the Grinch's (at the end of the book).

I forgot to mention that on the last day of the session, in working to improve the Water Act, the Progressive Conservatives offered and got passed an amendment "to send new or amended regulations to the acto to a provincial standing committee a minimum of 90 days before the regulations are enacted" (quoting The Guardian article from yesterday). 

Sarah Stewart-Clark of Island Mothers Helping Mothers and the #HowManyWade campaign keenly watched this Fall Sitting of the Legislature and offers her very positive perspective on the performance of the Progressive Conservative MLAs, which she has given me permission to copy
below in Blue

I would add Proportional Representation would improve the Opposition Parties' ability to function, and I would like to see the PCs be more progressive on it.  I want them to continue improving their listening and interpreting and questioning, and form their ideas into more of a vision for the long-term future of the Province.  It may be easy enough to hold out, pretty much appeasing everyone and waiting till the tide shifts and the blue wave comes in, but they can be better than that.
It was very hopeful to see them support strengthening the Lobbyist and Whistleblower legislation pieces, as these will apply to whichever Party forms government in the future.

Sarah Stewart-Clark, December 21st, 2017, on Facebook:

The Official Opposition has a very important role to play in our democratic process. A strong opposition is important to scrutinize every government policy change and spending decision and proposed legislation. This is critical to ensure that our tax dollars are being used efficiently and that any proposed changes are examined from many different perspectives. And while a minority opposition can’t defeat government motions, they can and do document flaws and weaknesses which allow we the voters to make a judgment on how the government is governing. This was the first sitting of the legislature for James Aylward as leader of the Official Opposition. It was evident from the beginning that his leadership strength was allowing his very strong team of MLAs to have the time and resources to shine. Instead of micromanaging or trying to steal the spotlight, James led a team empowered to represent their own constituents and their own portfolios. Under his leadership the official opposition scrutinized and made meaningful suggestions to improve government bills. They brought forward their own motions and bills and demonstrated that they are ready and serious about governing in the next election. The opposition did much more than oppose. They demonstrated their capacity to handle files and make sound proposals on how manage and address some of the major challenges the Island faces.

Taking on the Health portfolio only a short time frame before the legislature opened was a large task for MLA Sidney MacEwen. I was watching this file closely and I am quick to criticize. MLA Sidney MacEwan brought forward the voices of some of our most vulnerable citizens in a compassionate and serious way. He challenged the government on sexual violence, mental healthcare, autism supports, child poverty and many other health related challenges. He demonstrated a willingness to listen and a fast capacity to learn and he did not back down. He was a strong voice for Islanders struggling in this mental healthcare crisis. I thank him profusely for that.

MLA Jamie Fox brought forward a bill from the minority opposition that was so strong and so neccessary it was passed due to the support from other parties. His experience as a police officer and his strength in sharing his own personal experiences are the reason this bill passed. I knew very little about MLA Fox prior to this session but I was impressed by his commitment to Islanders with a mental illness, and Islanders struggling in poverty. He understands the reality of poverty in this province.

MLA Matthew Mackay and MLA Brad Trivers had the task of scrutinizing the water act- one of the most important acts in our provincial history. Their knowledge of this act was evident at every stage- as their questions and criticisms demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the impact and limitations this act would have in all communities in PEI. Much of the activity with irrigation ponds is in MLA MacKay's riding and he brought forward the concerns of his constituents. MLA Trivers showed very thoughtful insight into some of the legislation being proposed- which made the opposition effective on this piece of legislation.

Like MLA Fox, Steven Myers was another MLA I went into this session without much knowledge of who he was. All I knew was that we have very different communication styles. I grew to respect Steven as a champion for rural governance- both for incorporated and unincorporated communities. Early in the session he asked one of the most effective lines of questions I have ever heard on mental health highlighting that the governments lack of services for Islander with a mental illness would not be tolerated under any other circumstances.It clearly demonstrated how Islanders with a mental illness are discriminated against in the healthcare system. I was surprised by and appreciated his support in raising issues about sexual violence in the legislature. I had misjudged Steven before communicating with him. I am happy to stand corrected.

MLA Darlene Compton fought hard for affordable housing, long term care for seniors, supports for sexual assault victims and often spoke of the importance of community and rural development. She is another champion for Rural PEI and it is clear that she is a strong advocate for her constituents. Her persistence on the affordable housing file was a strong voice for this issue.

MLA Colin LaVie questioned the government on their response to the announcement by Northern Pulp that they would be releasing effluent waste into the Northumberland Strait. He fought for our lobster fishing industry. He fought for Rural communities and for the importance of addictions supports. His leadership and courage in sharing his own history with mental illness is a moment in the house I will not soon forget. It is due to his open and honest and raw testimony that I believe the Bill to protect workers with PTSD passed.

I often hear that the PC Party is a boys club and that the male backroom controls the party. I can only speak to the last year, and with James Aylward as its leader but that was not my experience at all. I had many discussions about gender bias with many PC MLAs and there was the willingness to learn and an existing knowledge of these barriers. This caucus fought hard for better supports for victims of sexual violence, for child poverty, for better supports for families with children with autism and for better fertility healthcare for Island women.

After watching much of the Fall session I have a great deal of respect for the 8 PC MLAs. They were focused. They were prepared. They offered a sound criticism of every issue brought forward by the government. They fought for you. They fought for a deputy minister specific to fisheries, they fought for a peer support program and online supports for Islanders with a mental illness, they fought for legislation that protected workers who develop PTSD on the job. They fought for better resources for Alzheimers patients and requested a dementia strategy. Being in Opposition is not an easy job, but it is a critical one for democracy to function- and I have deep gratitude for how seriously and how effectively and for the hours of hard work that the PC Caucus invested in ensuring that the government had a strong opposition to which they had to answer. We should all be thankful to the men and women who step forward to lead- it is an exhausting and often thankless job- but our province is in good hands with the Official Opposition keeping its attention focused on government actions to ensure they are thoroughly reviewed. Thank you PC Caucus members. -- SSC

Sarah also made some grand graphs of what topics and wordings the MLAs used more frequently in Question Period, which I will share another day.
Eduard Müller,  is the founder and president of the University for International Cooperation, San Jose, Costa Rica. More information here.
He writes the Global Chorus essay for today.

         In spite of great individual intelligence, humans have failed to achieve collective intelligence. Our western development style, brought upon most of the people on Earth, willingly or not, has come with intellectual reductionism, globalization of markets and monetization of cultures and nature. Competition is at the core whilst co-operation and solidarity are left behind. Current global challenges require solutions with major investments and structural reform where governments, private sector and society as a whole must act beyond self-interest, making decisions considering global interdependence and well-being. It is now clear that solutions won’t come from governments, global meetings or corporate responsibility alone. Civil society, meaning each individual through collective action, must change, based on ethical values and principles.
        Humans are capable of collective action when disaster strikes, going beyond self-interests to help others. The uniqueness of our current state is that, in spite of increasing local disasters, we have not fully acknowledged global disaster. If we wait much longer to act, we will go past tipping points announced by scientists. To avoid a global state of anomie, we have to jointly construct a community of life. The key lies in the intergenerational responsibility, where youth start demanding no further destruction of their possibilities to survive on a truly living planet. Involving youth means having them identify their life projects, getting past immediate satisfaction through sumptuous consumption, while investing true efforts to change and being rewarded with quality of life. Life projects today are not about jobs or professions; they are about achieving a higher level of consciousness where individual responsibilities come before individual rights, accompanied by behaviour according to consequences of our actions and inaction and not only individual well-being.
        More and more youth, especially those that have more freedom of thought and are not shaped by their parents to follow our current catastrophic patterns of development, are now looking for better livelihoods, based on quality, not quantity, where people are valued for what they are and not for what they have. We must collectively foster this new global society and accelerate the celebration of life on Earth.
        — Eduard Müller

December 21, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

As you may know, the P.E.I. Legislature closed last night, but not without Overtime Drama.

The Short Form:

  • The Whistleblower Act passed with no real changes.
  • The House amended the Water Act to ban fracking completely.
    • It passed with no other major changes.
  • Peter Bevan-Baker tried a little-known rule to send those two pieces (plus the Lobbyist one) back to committee, and in doing so called out inattention of other MLAs during debate a "farce", stood by the word, and got removed.
  • The session ended as usual but with a slightly chastised government a bit before 6PM.

Here is a short form of improvements to the Water Act, and after that, a few longer  comments on yesterday (more to come in the following days):

Water Act -- a good job to Minister Robert "Poppy" Mitchell, always very open and welcoming, and he tried really hard.  The Act still has a "permitting" feel, not an overarching enshrining of Water Sustainability; and the work people concerned about fracking had to do just to get that in the Act was a bit much, honestly.

Five ways it could be strengthened (errors and inaccuracies my own):


Results as


Recognizing the right of people to water, including indigenous rights

Discussed, with Opposition parties proposing amendments last week but didn't get accepted.


Fracking ban a real ban

YES, yesterday


Use the proper terms

no, past that section last week


Municipal water extraction limits

No, despite VERY good tries by Peter Bevan-Baker with some support by others


high capacity wells

No, despite VERY good tries by Peter Bevan-Baker with some support by others

So now the work will turn to the Regulations, and there will be public meetings this spring.   The Tories idea of an equally-balanced-by-MLAs committee to help with this was not accepted.


It's discouraging during the beginning and middle weeks of a sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature when MLAs take minutes upon minutes to wander through their thoughts on their own government's Speech from the Throne, or take a kernel from a motion and follow tangents for a good quarter of an hour; then when everyone realizes that Christmas is coming, it's practically here, and really significant Legislation gets on the express train with only a few stops, which is what happened the last days.

There are "benefits" of sitting in the Gallery: you can see the whole picture of the room, including who is paying attention and who isn't.  You can see who pounds their desk with the mostly ridiculously excessively loudest and longest bangs (Minister of Finance Allen Roach), or sometimes Richard Brown when he's been whispering and didn't really hear the response. Who heckles the most (Tories:  a tie between Colin LaVie, Brad Trivers, and Steven Myers; Liberals: Ministers of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Paula Biggar, and several others),  who blurts "Carry!" before the chair of the committee of the Whole House (often the ever capable and fair Kathleen Casey) barely finishes saying the word (Minister Roach, again).

Disadvantages are: no, you can't use social media, can't easily get copies of amendments, and no glasses of eggnog or cups of coffee brought to you.

Both Richard Brown and Tina Mundy tended to reach for theatrical highs (his in objecting to the word "farce", Mundy's in defending her department) that don't really help the point they are making in most cases; it's a bit of a reminder of the worst of well-oiled rhetoric of the Robert Ghiz days.

In the end, another sitting of Legislature points out how diverse strong fair voices only improve the place, and our Island government, and it's time to support means to achieve proportional representation. 

The PR on PEI site, where you can pledge your support now:   

Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey, PhD,  humanitarian and the first Polynesian Explorer in the history of the National Geographic Society, writes the Decembre 21st Global Chorus essay.

        There’s no greater power economically, politically or socially that can compare to the power that lies within each of us.
        The problem is we’ve forgotten who we are.
        In an era of technological advancement, we’re bloated with information yet starved for such wisdom. Malnourished and overwhelmed, millions lead lives of “quiet desperation.” Connected 24/7, loneliness is at an all-time high.
        What to do?
        “When the veil of forgetfulness is lifted,” my native Hawaiian elders said, “and people remember that within them is a spark of the Divine, strife will cease.”
        The world doesn’t need us to save it. The world needs us to save ourselves. It doesn’t need our anxiety and fear. It needs our clarity and courage.
        Once we understand that what exists outside of us is a reflection of what stirs within, then and only then, will we be able to make a difference in the world. Until then, we offer Humanity nothing more than a pale imitation of who we might have been. And none of us is here for that.
        No one else will see the world through your eyes or express it as only you can.                 Imagine if a small woman in India thought that caring for the poor and the dying was too much trouble. We might never have been inspired by a nun named Theresa.             This is the Power of One … one person’s willingness to be transformed. By changing ourselves, we change the world.
        — Elizabeth Lindsey  

December 20, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today, the Water Act Bill No. 13 may just come back for more debate in the P.E.I. Legislature, which sits from 2-5PM.  (The "hour" may be extended if the MLAs want to finish any work and are all in agreement.)  Watch on the Legislative Assembly website.

Yesterday, the Lobbyist Registration Act Bill No. 24 passed, which is good for P.E.I. to have, but is weak in some areas (too short a "cooling off" period before a retiring MLA can work as a lobbyist, still nebulous distinctions about kinds of groups and classifications (which determines registration fees and such).

Debate continued on the Whistleblower legislation, but it's apparent an amendments to clarify and strengthen it are being voted down by the Liberal majority.  The irony is that the Bill was being discussed the same day the Privacy Commissioner released a report on one of the worst episode of the Ghiz years (keep in mind several MLAs from the Ghiz administration still sit in the House), which involved three women discredited trying to shed light on the PNP activities.


Kerry Campbell's CBC article link, from Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Ghiz government cited for privacy breach 6 years after PNP whistleblowers came forward - CBC News online article by Kerry Campbell

Privacy Commissioner says government responsible for leaking personal information to P.E.I. Liberal Party

The Liberal government under then-premier Robert Ghiz was either directly or indirectly responsible for a privacy breach that involved leaking information to the P.E.I. Liberal Party during the 2011 provincial election, the Information and Privacy Commissioner has found.

The information included personal emails, employment records and details of a human rights complaint related to three former government employees who had gone public with concerns about the provincial nominee program.

The allegations from those three whistleblowers of fraud and bribery within the PNP attracted national attention, although no charges were laid in response to the allegations following investigations by both Canada Border Services and the RCMP.

The day the allegations were made public in the Globe and Mail on Sept.15, 2011, the Liberal Party of P.E.I. issued a media release including personal information on the three former government employees.
In the report on the six-year-long investigation, P.E.I.'s Privacy Commissioner Karen Rose concluded one of two things occurred. 

Rose said either "someone within Economic Development and/or the Premier's Office and/or Executive Council … deliberately disclosed the personal information to the Liberal Party of PEI," or she said, an unknown third party deliberately disclosed the information because those three government bodies "failed to make reasonable security arrangements to prevent unauthorized disclosure to the Liberal Party of PEI."

In either case, the commissioner concluded a breach of the province's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act occurred.

While her investigation showed that the leaked information was shared internally in government within the three offices in question, Rose noted in her report the assertion from government that it was not responsible for the privacy breach.

However, the commissioner concluded the government's internal investigation, undertaken by the former deputy minister of economic development, was insufficient, and "did not meet even the most basic requirements of a breach management plan."

The commissioner laid out a number of recommendations to prevent future breaches of privacy. These include recommendations for staff training and for the development of policies and procedures to be followed when future breaches occur.
n a statement, the current MacLauchlan Liberal government noted the breach occurred "more than six years ago, under the previous government, and the key players involved are not a part of the current administration.

"This is something that would not have been, and will not be, tolerated under this current government. We do business differently. We have introduced a number of significant reforms related to accountability and transparency, including an ethics and integrity commissioner, and notably the whistleblower legislation currently before the Legislative Assembly."

Debate on the Whistleblower Legislation, and maybe some other small pieces, may continue.  And the Water Act, which still has many sections to examine or may get rammed through if fatigue takes over.  (Maybe the Opposition parties' MLAs should get energy bars in addition to Christmas cookies.)  It takes some time for the Session to finalize things-- have the Lieutenant Governor come and all that.  

Malgorzata “Maggie” Padlewska is a video-journalist and founder of One Year One World, and writes today's Global Chorus essay.

        Is there hope for the future? I am sure I’m not the first to say that this question is as complex as it sounds simple. I’ve pondered it over the years, only to find my thoughts drifting in directions as varied as the research, articles and books we read, the experiences we encounter, the things we witness and the richness of stories, views and perspectives of the people we meet throughout our journeys. I’m a one-woman-band, frequently travelling solo to meet people the world doesn’t often get to hear about or the communities that are not actively engaged in the global dialogue that is thriving online … and it is often through those people that I learn the most.
        Our world is, without a doubt, facing countless and serious crises, from threats against global cultures to irreversible environmental damage. The communities I meet with are familiar with these things, mainly because they are often the ones directly affected by the negative effects of foreign policies, multinational trade deals and the intensifying extraction and depletion of natural resources. Yet many remain silenced, misunderstood and dismissed as the uneducated poor.
        This, in my modest opinion, is where the world fails.
        Human rights and environmental considerations have become secondary to the ambitions of the wealthy elite and policy-makers. Communities are being displaced from traditional lands to make way for exclusive development projects, the natural landscape is being contaminated, cultures are being threatened by globalization, and traditional wisdom is overlooked by the ideologies of the self-righteous.
        We are at a crucial juncture, a moment with enough evidence to establish two clear options. The first, to continue along a destructive path driven by political or corporate greed, or second, to pause and rethink what it truly means to be human and the kind of life and behaviours that would sustain a healthy global community and planet for generations to come.
        Is there hope for the future? Yes, IF the world recognizes the devastating consequences of its current trajectory and redirects its behaviours to truly reflect a commitment to a healthy future – not focused on cleaning up the messes that would be created, but on preventing them from happening in the first place by learning from those who have been living that way for centuries.
        — Maggie Padlewska

December 19, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Legislature resumes today, 2-5PM and 7-9PM.  Watch on Eastlink in the afternoon or the Legislative Assembly website or Facebook page. Presumably, they will want to wrap things up in the next couple of days, but there are three pretty heavy pieces of legislation that a determined Tory Official Opposition and Third Party Opposition are very serious about going through carefully.  Hats off to all the Opposition members critiquing these Bills, and hope they don't run out of energy thinking of Santa Claus as opposed to a shoddy clause.

The three pieces are:

  •  the Lobbyist Registration Act Bill No. 24, which seems to this citizen reporter pretty vague about the line between someone who is making the case for the public good and someone who is trying to make the pocket good;
  • the Whistleblower Bill (Public Interest Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection Act, Bill No. 25), which to me is better than a policy lost in a binder, but contains the flaws that an employee wishing to expose concerns has to go to a deputy minister or cabinet-approved person -- that may stop some people from coming forward.  There are fine deputy ministers (but all answer to the Premier -- that's clear in the the Ministers' mandate letters) and the Commissioner could have a heart of gold. But the conflict is there. The Opposition has offered amendments for making this stronger.
  • the Water Act, Bill No. 13 -- the MLAs are going through it "clause by clause", and were at Section 18, right before the Fracking section, when debated paused week before last.

Of these, the Water Act may be the one they want to get done now, and hold the rest until the Spring Sitting.  They could put a pause on the Water Act until Spring, too, and work on strengthening it in the meantime.  It took British Columbia five years to produce their Water Sustainability Act, I think.

You may remember, five things to improve the Water Act are:
1. Enshrine that water is a right, including the inherent water rights of indigenous peoples.
2. Make the fracking ban a real ban
3. Use the right names for the terms: precautionary principle, intergenerational equity
4. Do not allow municipalities to to exceed limits on water withdrawals
5. Put the moratorium on high capacity wells in the Act.

MLAs' contact information is here. (but they need to get a photo of Hannah Bell, D11: Charlottetown-Parkdale)  Legislation debate should start a bit after 3PM today, and all are welcome in the Gallery, too. 
Ann Wheatley of the Cooper Institute, which is a member organization in the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, explains in this letter the issues in the Water Act bill.  I have cross-referenced it to the "Tell Your MLA list", with her permission (#4, not exceeding extraction limits, is an article by itself).

OPINION: Water Act debate falls well short - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Ann Wheatley

Published on Monday, December 18th, 2017

Legislation fails to ban deep-water wells; insufficient on fracking

The hopes of the community were high when the Water Act was finally brought to the floor of the legislature last month. The consultation process leading up to the act had been a good one. We, the public had opportunities to provide input in a number of ways – public meetings, written and online, and even by telephone.

All of that information was shared by staff of the Department of Lands, Communities and Environment on their website, which meant we could all see what others were saying, and in the end, we could see how our ideas were or were not included in the final version of the Act.

It is therefore disappointing, that the first-ever Water Act for Prince Edward Island has been the subject of so little meaningful debate in the legislature. It is a shame that such a good process seems to be losing steam in its final stages. A fulsome debate in the legislature would be fitting, and result in an even better law.

We should remember that the reason we now (almost) have a piece of legislation to protect P.E.I. water is that the community demanded it. When it appeared that the moratorium on high capacity wells might be lifted, there was such a huge public response that government decided to hold a series of hearings.

Over the course of which they heard time and again, that not only did people want the moratorium to stay in place, they also wanted legislation to protect water, now and for future generations. And yet, the Water Act as presented in its final form does not address the moratorium. (Place the Moratorium on high capacity wells in the Act. #5)

When asked why, Minister Mitchell has responded by referring vaguely to ongoing research on stream flow, reducing the question to one of quantity. Which is important, but equally important are factors such as climate change and securing the permission of the community.

There is a direct connection between the fact that a moratorium is not addressed and two other weaknesses in the act. During both sets of public hearings, many groups and individuals spoke strongly in favour of including the precautionary principle - preventing harm from being done, even when all of the evidence is not in - in the Act. (Clarify Purposes and goals by using the terms precautionary principle, and intergenerational equity.  #3)

Language is important - the precautionary principle is a term used in other environmental legislation. While alluded to, it is not named in the Water Act, and it should be.

The second weakness is the omission of the right to water as a basic principle. Many people, during the public consultation phase, requested that it be included. Quite simply, the people of P.E.I. have the right to adequate amounts of clean water to support human wellbeing and a healthy ecosystem. This should be recognized and clearly stated, as should the inherent water rights of the Indigenous people of Prince Edward Island.  (#1. Enshrine that water is a right, including the inherent water rights of indigenous peoples.)

And then there’s the puzzling ban on fracking. This was also one of the most commonly asked-for inclusions in the Water Act. So it’s no surprise that it appears. What is surprising, however, is the secondary clause that essentially negates the “ban” and allows the Minister to allow fracking, if it’s in the (open to interpretation) public interest. It’s really hard to imagine how such a destructive process could ever be in the public interest. This “get-out” clause is inappropriate and should be removed. 
(#2. Make the fracking ban a real ban)

Islanders responded quickly and loudly to demands to lift the moratorium on high capacity wells, and later participated fully in consultations leading up to the Water Act because of our deep attachment to this place, this land and our water. We see clearly the effects of climate change in our province, and around the world, in places where water shortages and drought conditions are displacing people and having catastrophic effects on food production.

To ignore our insistence that the moratorium be addressed in the Water Act is shortsighted and dismissive of the people who care about the future of this island. We participated in good faith in the process of developing the Act and we feel strongly that our concerns and ideas should be reflected in this important piece of legislation.

- Ann Wheatley is a member of Cooper Institute

David Buckland is the founder and director of Cape Farewell, which brings a cultural response to Climate Change.  He wrote the essay used in today's Global Chorus.

        It is perhaps unsurprising that it has been the scientists reporting the evidence of global warming who have become the most passionate in calling for society to urgently change its course.
        However, this urgency isn’t being communicated successfully enough to provoke the real change needed in our global societies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. The resistance to cultural change is baffling in the face of extreme weather events and other disturbances across our planet. Anthropogenic climate change threatens us all with an uncertain physical, social and economic future, so why are we not engaged in sorting out our future? Perhaps cultural approaches can succeed where the hard facts of science have failed.
        The international Cape Farewell project, now in its 11th year, aims to do just that. It embeds artists, writers, architects, musicians and filmmakers with climate scientists as they measure and evaluate planetary changes at the Earth’s known climate change “hotspots.” So far, we have made seven expeditions into the Arctic aboard the 100-year-old Norwegian schooner Noorderlicht (Northern Lights), one expedition to the Andes and the Amazon and one to the Scottish Western Isles. Each of these journeys has enabled the diverse expedition team to examine how anthropogenic activity is affecting our habitat.
        When I set up Cape Farewell in 2001, the aim was to create a different language of climate change with which to engage the public. Over 140 artsbased practitioners have taken part in these voyages, openly engaging with more than 45 scientists, creating artworks, exhibitions, books and films that have toured worldwide. This international effort, including people from China to Mexico, has brought distinctly different cultural sensibilities to the story of climate change’s causes and impacts.
        The overriding memory of each of the voyagers engaged in these adventures is more akin to having fun than experiencing suffering. Climate change is truly a cultural challenge; it affects all of us and we all need to become part of the solution. But perhaps we should approach it more in the spirit of an expedition that encompasses the optimism of moving forward. As Marshall McLuhan put it, “Spaceship Earth doesn’t carry passengers, only crew.”
        — David Buckland

December 18, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight (really):
Christmas in Brass: Sounds of the Season and Sing Along, 7-9PM
, Trinity United Church, admission by donation.  Along with many other concerts and holiday events this week!
A silly compilation: the 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, from a group that is using the competition and humour to raise funds for conservation.
Seriously:  "Public interest litigation is always an uphill climb", writes EcoJustice philanthropy manage Sandra Gamboias, in describing their work fighting drilling in the St. Lawrence.  The full appeal is here, for your information on what's going on, and if you wish to donate:

The P.E.I. Legislature resumes sitting tomorrow, Tuesday.  If you haven't made your
thoughts known to your MLA, the Environment Minister, and the Premier, you still can.
Robert Mitchell:  <>
Premier Wade MacLauchlan: <>
Our Canadian water champion is Maude Barlow, Honourary Chair of the Council of Canadians, and chair of Washington-based Food and Water Watch, and author of many books, most recently Boiling Point: Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse, and Canada's Water Crisis.  She writes the essay for today in the Global Chorus anthology.

  With all my heart I believe that hope is a moral imperative. I could not do my work otherwise.
        However, if truth be told, there are days when it is hard to hold on to this place of hope. A friend says she is numbed by “apocalypse fatigue.” Not me. Every new study on Arctic melting, species extinction and water depletion invades my soul.
        Is there a way past the current crisis? Yes, there is. But it lies on a different path from the dominant economic and development model of our time. Growth, deregulation, privatization, free markets, more stuff travelling farther with fewer barriers – that is the dominant political narrative currently driving most governments, the big-business community and global institutions. It is killing the planet and disenfranchising billions.
        An important recent study found that the global trade in food is consuming the bulk of the world’s water heritage and depleting groundwater far faster than it can be replenished. One American environmentalist said that unlimited growth has the same DNA as the cancer cell. It has to turn on its host to survive. Now we are being told that unless we place a price on Nature and bring it into the market economy, it will not survive.
        The way forward lies with an alternative narrative. Instead of seeing Nature as a “resource” for our convenience, pleasure and profit, we need to see it as a living ecosystem from which all life springs, and adapt our lives and laws to those of the natural world. That means challenging the growth imperative and moving to more local economies of scale. It means recognizing that Nature has rights too. Conservation, preservation, biological diversity, co-operation, local sustainable food production, fair trade, economic justice, public trust: these are the hallmarks of the path forward.               
        Bolivia’s President Evo Morales says the goal must be to live well, not to live better than others.
        Listen to the Earth. Listen to the ancient peoples. The answers lie there.
        — Maude Barlow

December 17, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today is the final:
Christmas Market at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market, 10AM-3PM, Belvedere Avenue. Various artisans and tasty foods and drinks (but not the vegetable vendors from Saturdays).  "Original, Local and Affordable -- All in a Relaxed Atmosphere."

Tomorrow: Monday, December 18th
Christmas in Brass: Sounds of the Seasons and Sing Along
, 7-9PM, Trinity United Church, Richmond Street, Charlottetown. Admission by donation and the Tuba Christmas Combo is anticipated to join the Great George Street Brass Band.
Facebook event details
If you are warming up inside today, and want to watch some video, here are three Opposition MLAs giving their "Consideration of the Speech From the Throne" from this Fall's sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature.

First, Leader of the Third Party and D17: Kellys Cross-Cumberland MLA Peter Bevan-Baker (51mintues), from Thursday evening, November 30th, 2017.

Here is Official Opposition Leader James Aylward, from Tuesday afternoon, December 12th.

Sorry that you have to use the slider and move to the 1hour:40minutes mark, but I can't remember if there is a way to make the url go to a specific time.   James's speech is about 13 minutes long.

Aylward is followed by Rustico-Emerald Brad Trivers at about 1Hour:53 minutes and runs to about 2hours:16 minutes long (so a little over 20 minutes).
It was a very good speech to listen to, and I am surprised the PC Caucus Facebook hasn't highlighted these two speeches (or apologies to them if they have and I couldn't find them).

Hansard transcript of speeches:
Peter's is on page 616 of November 30th, 2017
James's is on page 974 of December 12th, 2017
Brad's is on page 977 of the same day, December 12th, 2017

More Island political leadership discussion:
A decent analysis of Mike Redmond, a more-than-decent man:

Main Guardian editorial, published on Saturday, December 16th, 2017.

EDITORIAL: Mike Redmond ran out of options - The Guardian Main Editorial

As party leader, and a former resident in the riding, he was duty-bound to carry the party’s colours into that uphill fight.

Mike Redmond had run out of options. He had to try and win a seat for the New Democratic Party in the Nov. 27 byelection in Charlottetown-Parkdale. As party leader, and a former resident in the riding, he was duty-bound to carry the party’s colours into that uphill fight.

The NDP desperately needed a presence inside the legislature to remain relevant after being overshadowed by the upstart Green party for the past two and a half years, since Peter Bevan-Baker won his seat in the 2015 provincial election.

Then, following a disappointing fourth-place byelection finish, Redmond had no option but to step down. In an effort to gain parity with the Green Party, the NDP suffered a stinging reversal when Hannah Bell was the upset winner for the Greens.

Mr. Redmond’s five years as NDP leader ended some 10 days after voters embraced the Island’s other Third Party.

The Green party was able to assemble an impressive team of volunteers for the campaign – repeating its success in 2015 of pouring resources into one district and electing its leader Peter Bevan-Baker. And when District 11 voters compared the four byelection candidates, Ms. Bell compared very well.

The Greens were able to corner voter backlash from last fall’s plebiscite on electoral reform because Mr. Bevan-Baker was in the legislature and able to consistently hammer the government on the issue.

The NDP did mobilize an impressive team but there were criticisms that Mr. Redmond reduced his door-to-door campaign, missing a number of homes in various neighbourhoods. A grassroots campaign and personal contacts are important in a byelection.

As leader, Mr. Redmond was trying to keep abreast of events in the legislature and take care of commitments on a busy farm in Kings County. He was stretched too thin and it hurt. The person with a strong grasp of provincial issues and the most passion for social justice was unable to press home those advantages. The limited number of debates and public appearances all hurt Mr. Redmond.

But there were no recriminations, regrets or bitterness when the final decision was made. He fulfilled his commitment to run in two elections and it was time to move forward.

Looking head, the NDP has a strong presence and profile across the Island. It comes down to the party selecting a dynamic leader before the 2019 provincial election and nominating strong candidates to carry the banner forward.

It must decide how to counter the Green battle plan, which is already evident - retain the two seats it has, target several other potential wins – and then hold the balance of power in a minority government.

With a new president at the helm, the NDP has a clear opportunity to rebuild and reassess its future direction on P.E.I. Where Leah Jane Hayward – elected party president in late October - had a challenge before, it’s even bigger today.

As he exited public life, Mr. Redmond said he wants to continue his advocacy for social justice, particularly around the issue of poverty. It’s doubtful we have heard the last of Mr. Redmond.

Today's Global Chorus essay is by Jonathon Button, the co-founder of Life Out of the Box  organization.  While its changing its model a bit, it started out where you could buy bracelets and other goods made for fair wages in Central America, and the company converted profits into school supplies and to meet other needs of children in the region.

        Within every individual there is a need to give and contribute to the greater of humankind. We all want to make a difference. The main hurdle is that most of us don’t know where to start. Through education, society can further understand what the biggest issues are. Through understanding these problems, individuals can break them down into smaller obstacles which can be attacked.
        With Life Out of the Box, we have been on an evolving adventure throughout Third World countries searching for these issues and understanding the source of them. What we have found is that many of those in need simply lack the tools to further develop into the person they want to become, which would lead them to further contributing to society and helping humanity. Without knowledge, it is impossible for the world to understand the problems, which results in a lack of action.
        Life Out of the Box is dedicated to inspiring people to get out there, explore the world, learn and then take action towards making a difference. It is easy to think out of the box, but the key is making it happen and actually living your Life Out of the Box to make the world a better place for all. Thoughts and ideas are a necessary step towards accomplishing the goal, but they are nothing without actually taking the steps towards making them a reality.
        I have great faith in the future. As the world is becoming more connected through social media, the understanding of the world becomes more clear and enables individuals to recognize the needs that must be addressed in order to ensure our existence. Through this new awareness, we can reflect on our actions and understand how they are currently contributing in a positive or negative way to the globe. Life is great. It should never be taken for granted and together we must contribute towards ensuring that all living species can experience this precious gift.
        — Jonathon Button

December 16, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown and Summerside today, and the Charlottetown Market hosts its Artisan Craft Fair tomorrow.


The P.E.I. Legislature did not close the sitting yesterday, nor did they get to the Water Act bill.  Presumably, Tuesday afternoon.

They did go over part of the Lobbyist Registration Act, Bill No. 24, and it is clear that, though it aims to make some interactions more transparent, there is a lot of confusion about this bill.  Questions like, exactly who would be considered a lobbyist or lobby group and have to register?  Professionals representing corporate interests, presumably, but what about a group of parents lobbying to fight the next round of school closures (apparently not, since they are volunteers).  But what if they hire someone to help with tasks?  And could the requirements for registration be onerous to non-profits, so it makes things harder for social justice and environmental groups?  (This reminds me of an article that I thank Walter Wilkins for sending about "weaponizing transparency", here.)  These things need some time to detangle (or be set aside and examined by committee) before the Bill is simply "carried" so the House can go home for Christmas.

James Aylward, leader of the Official Opposition, asked the Premier in Question Period about the 2016 plebiscite on electoral reform, and about younger voters.  In the plebiscite, 16 and 17 year old got to vote, since they would be 18 and voting in the next provincial election.  It was a forward idea by the Special Committee, but the Premier made the executive decision to set all that aside, leaving teens with a pat on the head for participating and the business as usual of being ignored  (though the Youth Futures Council could bring this up if it were considered non-partisan).

Anyway, the Premier only said there would be Legislation in the Spring Sitting, and reminded the House that the election dates are fixed, unless the Lieutenant Governor would dissolve the House sooner.


Yesterday it was announced that Robert Irving (co-chief of J.D. Irving Ltd. and honourary degree recipient from UPEI in 2014) and his company Cavendish Farms gave the University's Engineering School a pledge of $2 million dollars for "sustainable farming solutions in the agricultural industry".  UPEI Marketing and Communications release.

photo from May 2014 by Guardian staff, shows honourary degree recipient Robert Irving, UPEI President Alla S. Abd-El-Aziz, and UPEI Chancellor Don McDougall.

sorry for the fine print, but this one always comes to mind.....

"Listen, Bobby, we need a gym."

Atossa Soltani is the founder and executive director of Amazon Watch
"Protecting the rainforest and our climate by supporting indigenous peoples", and writes this Global Chorus essay.

        We stand at the crossroads of history, where our collective actions over the next decade will determine the fate of humanity for the next millennia. At present, we are crossing many tipping points and face multiple crises, the most alarming being global climate chaos. I believe we have no choice but to change course to ensure that future generations will inherit a livable world.
        Many indigenous peoples hold as their aspiration to be “good ancestors” to future generations. I believe that if we are to survive, this must now become our collective aspiration. To have lasting change, we need to reshape our values and worldviews. Growing numbers of us realize the dire need for rapid systemic change. However, the majority continue living in a business as usual mindset, in what could be called collective denial.
        Indigenous peoples represent only 4 per cent of the world’s population, but their territories hold 80 per cent of the Earth’s biodiversity. From these guardians we can learn how to hold all life sacred and live in greater balance with Nature.
        The ecosystems of the planet that produce our oxygen, water, rainfall and soils are key to our survival. Safeguarding and restoring the planet’s remaining forests, mangroves, coral reefs and other productive ecosystems is a critical priority. And dismantling global corporate economic domination and bringing back responsive government is a prerequisite. We can bring the world to embrace local traditional food systems, decentralize energy production, cut overall resource consumption, phase out fossil fuels, overhaul our transportation systems and improve the condition of women and the poor to stabilize our population.
        We have the knowledge, the understanding, the creativity and the technology to act in time. The people who understand this urgency need to step into leadership and make it their life’s work to transform and recreate our world. There is the analogy of when the U.S. was on the eve of the Second World War and called on its citizenry to join the war effort and the majority did, helping the U.S. significantly retool its economy in under a year. That’s what we need now. All hands on deck!
        — Atossa Soltani

December 15, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM -1PM today.  After greetings and Question Period, there will still be almost two hours, which is actually a lot of time to debate legislation, and they could extend the session if they really wanted to wrap things up today for the Fall sitting. Legislative website here.

What happened or didn't happen yesterday -- the whole day was not one of the most shining examples of our Gift of Jurisdiction:

In Question Period, it was spelled out that the twelve new agents for rural development have extremely close ties to the two old-line parties. (I was surprised there was near equity in the distribution, which probably says something, too.) This is apparently Business As Usual.
When Darlene Compton (Belfast-Murray River) asked a line of questions about rural communities and government priorities, and stable, solid contracts for the Woods Island ferry, she asked how government should be ensuring support to the region, and Richard Brown (Ch'town-Victoria Park) called out one of his innumerable comments in his good-natured way about the effectiveness of Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay. 
Rural and Regional Development Minister Pat Murphy actually said:
"The member.... hit the on the head there: make sure we have a good Liberal member representing that part of the province."

Premier Wade MacLauchlan donned his best Disapproving Oxford Don self to chastise Charlottetown-Parkdale MLA Hannah Bell about her renewed questioning of electronic communications and obstruction of records, saying something like "That's pretty strong language for day two, so I guess we've got a lot to look forward to."
She was unfazed by the insinuations and persisted in reiterating the Auditor General's comments.

The evening session, which I attended in person, allowed for more observation.  One section of the whistleblower legislation (Bill No. 25, Public Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection) was slowly dissected.  One minister noisily flipped and folded his newspaper and read glossy industry-advertised publications.  Keeping current is good but perhaps in the other hours of the day not sitting in the legislature.  Loudly whispered conversations were numerous, mostly among government members.   
Charlottetown-Lewis Point kept the committee of the whole house together and didn't squash debate; some help from the floor by a Minister calling our commands ahead of the chair, when not sighing and shaking heads in unison with another minister in the next seat.
So the Tories, Steven Myers in the lead, have some serious issues with the bill and would like it withdrawn, and since that's not apparently happening, are showing their displeasure in attempts to rewrite it on the floor.  There are major flaws in the Bill -- most seriously, whistleblowers report their concerns to a Deputy Minister or a Cabinet-approved commissioner.  That whistle could have too many intimidating, executive-controlled peas in it to be heard loud and clear.
David Jewitt is a professor of astronomy at University of California, Los Angeles, and wrote this essay for the Global Chorus anthology.

        Some historical perspective: up until 500 years ago you, as a citizen, would understand the world through the words of an authority figure. It could be a king or an emperor, or perhaps a religious leader in charge of a rigid system of permissible thoughts, questions and actions. Your authority figure would lack any real understanding of the world, but he (it was almost always a “he”) would point to the writings of the ancients, perhaps to Aristotle, to Confucius or to something in the Bible, as the ultimate basis of his authority. Nobody could see the world clearly under those circumstances.
        Since then most authoritarian political and religious systems have cracked, allowing our two great inventions of modern science and practical democracy to blossom. The all-wise leader is replaced by the idea that truth can best be found through insightful observation accompanied by critical reasoning and free thought. The world still has religion, and a few fading dictatorships persist, but there is no serious doubt that science and democracy are transcendent.
        So, 500 years ago I would have doubted our chances for the future, but today I am extremely optimistic. For the first time in recorded history, our eyes are open to the world, giving us enormous power both to appreciate its beauty and to identify and address its problems. We have never been more perceptive, more powerful or more capable. We have never been better placed to determine our own future on this planet than we are now.
        — David Jewitt

December 14, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today the P.E.I. Legislature meets from 2-5PM and 7-9PM.  The afternoon may be for the Opposition's priorities of Motions or Bills. 

This evening may see resumption of the debate on Bill No. 13, Water Act

You can watch on Eastlink in the afternoon or on-line each sitting, or sit for a while in the Gallery.  House Orders and the Bills and Motions are all found on this "Find a House Record" page.

Yesterday, Brad Trivers (D19:Rustico-Emerald) asked the Environment Minister Robert Mitchell and those in a couple of other departments to work together to get the summer watershed employment paperwork done more cohesively so funding is not so up in the air.  This is a perennial problem and it's definitely good to see him address that and urge the people who can do something about it to get on it.

Sidney MacEwen (D7: Morell-Mermaid) also asked the Education Minister Jordan Brown to bring an umbrella to the school concert at Mount Stewart as the leaking roof has still not been repaired. 

Hannah Bell D11: Charlottetown-Parkdale) took her seat (actually, she took over Peter Bevan-Baker's spot by the "rail" and he moved over one desk, Hal Perry (D27: Tignish-Palmer Road) moving back) and of course was engaged and engaging.  Paula Bigger (Minister of Transportation and Status of Women) made a headline by proposing that the evening sessions be converted to day ones.  While this is great, people have been saying that to MLAs for some now, and the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, which Biggar is a member of, could have dealt with that two years ago.

Honouring the vote from the Plebiscite last year: 
for ways to make your voice heard in this.

Regarding British Columbia, but it applies anywhere:

"Process matters. Studies show that referendums tend to tap into people's reactionary self-interest while citizen's assemblies tend to make people think of the long term and the collective good. With the federal electoral reform process and Site C, I believe a citizen's assembly would have provided a better answer - and given the government's cover for a decision that would have been unpopular with a hostile media. If we are going to get 'process promises' in the future, they need to be a process that is controlled by citizens." 
-- Jamie Bigger, co-founder of, Monday, December 11th, 2017.

Christy Morgan is a vegan chef, educator,  author of Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body and Planet.  She writes the essay used for today's Global Chorus.

        The easiest way to make the greatest impact on the environment is through our diet.
        Agriculture and factory farms create more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. Also, our desire for quick, packaged food and produce that is not seasonal to our region creates a heavy drain on our precious resources. Use your dollars more wisely by choosing whole foods over packaged, organic over conventional and local over transported. These choices are more healthful in the long run for you and your family.
        Visit your local farmers market to see what’s in season during the year. You may discover some new and exciting vegetables you’ve never tried before! The most important thing we can do for our health and the health of the planet is to eat a diet rich in natural, whole foods. Eat foods in all the colours of the rainbow. Kale, lettuce and celery for green; carrots, yams and oranges for orange; eggplant for purple; cabbage, strawberries and apples for red; pineapple, squash and grains for yellow; grapefruit for pink; beans for brown; cauliflower, daikon and tofu for white. Fruits and vegetables that are beautifully coloured are rich in antioxidant elements that protect us from free radicals and make our health soar.
        Start by adding in the good stuff and then crowd out the things that aren’t serving your greater good. A balanced, whole food, plant-based diet can give you the energy you need to make your body, mind and spirit happy as well as nourish the planet!
        — Christy Morgan

December 13, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Inside Municipal Council: Stratford, 7:30PM
, Stratford Town Hall.
"The PEI Coalition for Women in Government and the Young Voters of PEI invite you to attend municipal council meetings during the months of November and December to learn more about the municipal process.
Join Jesse and Dawn on Wednesday December 13th at Stratford Town Council for a regular council meeting. After the meeting, anyone interested is welcome to join us and chat about what went on, the processes, and discuss any questions you may have about municipal government."

Facebook event details

"It appears that the government thinks listening and learning is a weakness. Learning from each other is our best chance at overcoming the challenges that we face."
 -- an excerpt from a post about her observations working with government and opposition parties in the past year, by mental health advocate and founder of Island Mothers Helping Mothers and #HowManyWade
--Sarah Stewart Clark, December 12th, 2017

Yesterday in the P.E.I. Legislature, District 20 (Kensington-Malpeque) MLA Matt MacKay asked Environment Minister about various types of water use that is reported on the website, and about the idea of the regulations to the Water Act being worked on by all-Party committee of MLAs.  The answers were that there is a lot on the website.  The transcript for that Question Period is here, with that part beginning about page 218.
Responses to the Speech from the Throne were continued in the afternoon, with both Opposition Leader James Aylward and D18 MLA Brad Trivers making theirs, among others.  The Water Act draft debate was not resumed.  Last night was Opposition time and there was discussions on Motions 12 (removing HST from electricity, etc) and 80 (Ombudsperson) Motions page.

Hannah Bell is sworn in as the second Green Party MLA (D11: Charlottetown-Parkdale about noon today, I think.

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM today. Not sure what's going to be on the Order Paperafter Question Period and such, but will try to update on social media.  Legislative Assembly website.

From yesterday's Guardian, on what we measure:

OPINION: Why relying on GDP is unethical - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Kevin J. Arsenault

Published on Tuesday, December 12th,2017

The GDP also fails to calculate the “loss of value” from pollution or the degradation and destruction of natural resources.

Premier MacLauchlan continually equates good economic news with an expanding gross domestic product (GDP). But since the GDP only values certain types of economic activity, it presents a fundamentally distorted and dishonest picture of the economy.

Unpacking what the GDP “values” and “doesn't value” shows why we need a new model and new language to identify and describe positive economic activity if we are to properly measure and enhance the well being of both Islanders and our environment.

The GDP always regards monetary “expenditures” as contributing positively to the economy, even when they could (and should) be avoided. If the government decided not to spend $100,000 on sanitation in Island schools, which caused an epidemic costing $10 million in health care costs, such a decision would clearly be irresponsible. But since “responding” to an epidemic requires 100 times more in expenditures than “preventing” an epidemic, GDP calculations make bad government decisions costing millions look like “good news” for the economy.

The GDP also fails to calculate the “loss of value” from pollution or the degradation and destruction of natural resources. When massive amounts of chemicals fertilizers and poisons are used to produce french-fry potatoes for Cavendish Farms, such economic activity increases the GDP; yet the long-term harm from soil degradation, groundwater contamination, or the ruination of coastal estuaries from nitrogen-rich erosion run-off is nowhere factored into the GDP equation.

Neither does the GDP give any positive value to leisure, which is essential for the health and well being of Islanders. What's the point of having a high GDP if Islanders are overworked and sick; or never have time to spend with their children in leisurely, recreational activities?

The GDP also discounts the value of home production and community service by considering only what can be “monetized.” Hiring someone to clean our home or cook our meals increases the GDP, even though the total amount produced is the very same as if we did those things for ourselves.

On the other hand, more Islanders growing and preserving their own organic food wouldn't increase the GDP at all. In fact, decreased revenue from fewer sales of unhealthy processed foods at corporate food retailers would shrink the GDP, making more organic gardens in P.E.I., healthier diets, and increased food security look like “bad news” for the economy!

And the GDP doesn't care how goods and services are distributed, which completely masks poverty, corruption and social injustice.

Imagine two economies of equal size where everything is owned and controlled by a dozen people with economy-A, while everything is distributed equally with economy-B. In both cases, the GDP per capita will be the same, despite the majority of people suffering hardship and poverty in economy-A while a few people live in luxury.

We need government to track “concrete” indicators of poverty (not “abstract” indicators of wealth) providing quarterly data on the number of Islanders who are living below the poverty-line, lining up at soup kitchens and food banks, unable to afford suitable housing, etc. Such a shift in focus would inspire policies and programs to address economic problems and improve the well being of all Islanders, especially the poorest.

So the next time you hear the banks, or the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC), or Premier MacLauchlan excitedly reporting an increase in P.E.I.'s “GDP,” don't think “gross domestic product,” think “generating deceptive propaganda,” because that's exactly what's going on.

Kevin J. Arsenault lives in Fort Augustus and is a member of Vision P.E.I. He obtained his PhD in ethics from McGill University.


This reminds me of course of Robert F. Kennedy's words on what the GDP does and does not measure, from a speech in 1968 (here is a two-minute YouTube of his speech (RFK reading with text in background):
(or version with photos and background music over speech recording)

Raffi Cavoukian is a singer, author, ecology advocate,  founder of the Centre for Child Honouring.  He writes the essay used in the December 13th Global Chorus essay.

In every age, love is redefined. In our time, this will be in terms of what we do to restore our children’s stolen future. With climate change, the greatest threat on Earth, the global family needs a survival shift in awareness.

Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market … You grownups say you love us. But I challenge you, please, make your actions reflect your words. — Severn Cullis-Suzuki,  age 12 (Rio, 1992)

        Every society’s treasure is its young, its promise to a better world. Yet an uncaring, bottom-line commerce that ignores social and planetary costs is wreaking havoc. No spiritual tradition condones this abuse of Creation and her young. The remedy is an integrated vision I call Child Honouring, one that simultaneously respects Earth and Child.
        We can’t overlook what’s known about the Child – humanity’s foremost learning system. Being human is not neutral: infants must learn to feel their loving nature or flounder. Failure is not an option; it scars lifetimes.     Creating the conditions that honour infants’ formative needs is the most practical way to shape humane and sustainable cultures, ones that grow mature, resourceful, compassionate individuals. That’s why Child Honouring is a universal ethic to enrich life for generations.
        Fast forward a Copernican shift in consciousness: from the “childism” prejudice of societies centred on adults to a child-honouring world in which the early-years ecology benefits all. For our survival, Godspeed a new peacemaking economy, a “bionomy” to revive “global chi.”
        Each of us can be a change-maker. Shun ideology. Embrace radical inquiry. Empower your inner 8-year-old to free your heart’s most generous impulses. Live along your highest spiritual values. Honour the young.
        In the Child, the human face of ecology, we find our reflection and infinite potential. The welltended garden yearns to yield riches.
        — Raffi Cavoukian

December 12, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Legislature resumes sitting for the week, 2-5PM and 7-9PM.  The evening session is likely to be the Opposition's time, so this afternoon, after welcomes and Question Period and such, legislation such as the Water Act may continue to be debated.  If so, it is likely they would reach the section that deals with fracking (which firsts prohibits it, then has an additional subsection on how the ban could be overturned -- which is no real ban at all, and the MLAs need to understand this concern).

Folks are welcome to have a seat in the Gallery any time, or watch on Eastlink or the Legislative Assembly website:

The Province's Water Act page is here.
This quote (from me, with yet another unintended water pun) in a CBC on-line story about the Water Act draft consultations this spring:

Chris Ortenburger with the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. pointed out that while regulations could be strengthened in the future, there is also the potential for them to be weakened.

"If the act is strong first, when it goes through that legislature, and it's passed, that is the primary source from which the regulations have to flow," said Ortenburger. -- April 12th, 2017

If you attend or watch the Legislature, usually the Government House Leader (which is now Richard Brown, but here it's flipped and Agriculture Minister Alan McIsaac) stands and reads what order is requested to the Speaker to be called.   Items may not be called, and to the average person, are called in no particular order, but it may help the observer keep up with what's going on.  The Legislative Assembly website is treasure-trove of information.


Orders of the Day

In order for members to debate an issue in the legislature, the issue has to appear on the order paper. The order paper, formally called the Orders of the Day, is a list of the items available for consideration by the Assembly; not every item on the order paper is called every day.
The Orders of the Day are produced by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, and are generally available the morning of each sitting day.

(and then there is a calendar and you can select the day to see the Orders)
Kitty van der Heijden is the Special Envoy for Sustainability and Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands 

        Sustainable development means balancing the economic, social and environmental pillars of development. If you ask an economist to review progress since the Earth summit in 1992, chances are that she or he will boast about tremendous growth, particularly in the Asian tigers and African lions. Ask that same question to a development practitioner, and he or she will highlight the great strides in reducing hunger, child and maternal mortality. But important MDGs, such as gender equality, lag behind, and inequality is rising between countries and within countries. Now ask that question of an environmentalist. Chances are she or he will look at you bewildered. Progress? PROGRESS? Almost all indicators indicate a worsening trend: loss of biodiversity, deforestation, pollution, climate change, ocean acidification, resources scarcity. In statistical jargon they call such curves a “hockey stick,” with a gradual change at the outset, then fast acceleration upward.
        As humankind, we are in that fast lane now. We are speeding towards a cliff of ecological destruction. That hockey stick will hit us hard – all of us. But it will hit the poor and young most of all. We are the first generation that, rather than sacrificing ourselves for our children’s future, are sacrificing our children’s future for ourselves.         The upbeat note is that we are not just part of the problem, we are also part of the solution. We can change. Take climate change. We can end global deforestation. We can beat the glum statistic that 30 per cent of food produced is lost or wasted, squandering resources such as water and land, and needlessly producing GHG emissions. We can achieve major emission reductions if consumers worldwide abide by the WHO advice regarding animal protein intake. We could reduce GHG emissions by 10 per cent if we would simply phase out environmentally perverse subsidies on fossil fuels.
        Of course we can do it. It is a matter of choice.
        As CEOs and corporate employees, we decide what and how to produce.
        As consumers, we decide what products to use.
        As shareholders and constituents casting our votes, we decide what policies and politics to refuse.
        We are all in a position to lead change. Take charge.
        — Kitty van der Heijden

December 11, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Two commentaries about protecting what we have, and that not all "progress" is all that progressive.

From Sally Bernard, Island organic farmer and Green Party Agriculture critic:

Hopeful Agriculture - Green Party of Prince Edward Island on-line article by Sally Bernard

by Sally Bernard, published on Thursday, December 7th, 2017, on-line

        'Tis the season on PEI, of hand-wringing and questioning and general unrest when it comes to considerations of the agricultural variety. There is much displeasure at the perceived, if not accurate, deforestation and ecological damage happening at the hands of what has come to be accepted as corporate farming operations or those operations under the 'guidance' of corporate entities.
        And while there are bright lights, like the expansion of crop diversity on the Island, and the increased number of farmers planting winter cover crops, the general public is for the most part concerned about the long-term vision for agriculture on PEI.
PEI is unlike any other province in Canada for several reasons, but most notably, our size and island-ness.  Our physical border of water sets us, literally, apart from the rest of the country and while those export-minded among us see that as an added challenge, there are some who see it as a potential advantage.  Allow me to present for a moment, a potential advantage our island-ness could offer us on the agricultural front, in the future, should we choose such a route.
        Genetically modified alfalfa, and soon-to-be clover are unique GMOs because of their requirement of pollination via insect pollinators. Previous GM crops (like soybeans) are either self-pollinating or not pollinated at all. So a rowdy dissent from a large and varied group of farmers and stakeholders arose when the first GM alfalfa seed was being introduced in Canada in 2016 and the threat of cross-pollination to non-GM alfalfa (wild or otherwise) meant a threat to many farming livelihoods. For the Western provinces, Asia and Europe are significant markets for non-GM alfalfa; so much so that the seed company has committed to not selling the seed in Western Canada in order to try to protect those valuable export markets.
        However, it’s doubtful that the bees were consulted, and surely are not checking their pollen sacks for the modified genes before spreading their wares from flower to flower.  It seems inevitable that the lovely idea of a border impenetrable by pollinators for GM crops is likely to be just that; a lovely idea.  Unless there was a physical barrier, like water. Perhaps a Strait would do it.
        What a beautiful long-term vision it would be to imagine PEI, covered in high-value legume crops, having been the only province with enough foresight and capability to have implemented a moratorium that actually works.  A province still able to export, still a home for both larger and small scale farms but with a soil that is not only sustaining, but thriving, building and improving; a foundation not only for agriculture but for all people of all cultures.


From Nova Scotia, from the decidedly populist The Nova Scotia Advocate ("The Tyrant's Foe, the People's Friend")

Nova Scotia’s protected areas attacked by mining and quarry companies - NS Advocate article on-line by Robert Duvet

Published on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

        “To the government’s credit they have indicated that protected areas will not suddenly be made available to mining, and I am glad that the premier and his ministers haven’t taken the bait on that,” says Chris Miller, National Conservation Biologist for CPAWS. “But the mining association continues to lobby for this, and continues to reach out to municipalities, getting people upset and so we need to stay on top of it.”
In its recent report, A Better balance,  the Mining Association suggests that economic opportunities and jobs are lost just because of these pesky protection rules. It wants changes in the legislation allowing land swaps to occur so mining can occur within protected areas. It also demands that no further protected areas be created, because, well, enough is enough.
      With chapter titles such as Forever is an awfully long time, and How protecting land harms the industry, and photos of idyllic reclaimed mining sites Nova Scotia’s mining companies and quarries are going all out in their campaign.   
The campaign mainly targets municipal councils, arguing that some regions are carrying more than a fair share of protected lands, and raising the prospect of new jobs. To municipal politicians who face outmigration and related challenges in hard hit rural Nova Scotia such arguments carry weight. The hope of course is that these municipal politicians will then find a sympathetic ear among their provincial counterparts.
Miller doesn’t buy the Mining Association’s arguments though.
        “It’s shocking, to be honest, mining companies already have access to private land, private protected land and public lands, and now they want access to protected public land,” says Miller.  “They have the audacity to say that they are asking for a better balance, as if the balance is tipped towards nature conservation. Only 13% of our landmass is protected, 87% isn’t, There is indeed an imbalance, but it is an imbalance against nature,” Miller says.
        Protected areas in Nova Scotia include the hard fought Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lake area just minutes from urban Halifax, but also lands in the Wentworth Valley, the Cape Breton Highlands, the Margaree River watershed, Tobeatic Wilderness Area near Kejimkujik, the many recently protected islands along the Eastern Shore, and more.
        The Mining Association report painstakingly lists all that is lost to the industry because protected areas are off limits. “The Cape Breton Highlands are also a new frontier for gold deposits in the province and the now-protected Jim Campbell’s barren hosts eight of the more significant prospects,” notes the report.
        Most famously perhaps the report suggests that Kelly’s Mountain would make an excellent location for a rock quarry. “However, the designation of the Kluscap Wilderness area over the proposed project area has forever blocked this from happening,” sighs the report’s author. A quick blockade of a local road by Mi’kmaq and settler activists in late November shows that sentiment isn’t necessarily shared by all.
For Miller the Mining Association’s job argument rings hollow.
        “It’s a false arguments, and we must be weary of people who peddle this,” says Miller. “The tourism industry alone is worth $2.6 billion annually, which is staggering compared to the $22 million (in economic activity) annually that the report claims is somehow locked in the ground within these protected areas.”
        “It’s not a choice between protecting the economy as opposed to protecting the environment. With our current protective plan we address both concerns,” says Miller. Protected lands are a pillar to our communities, they enrich our lives, the tourism industry relies on these areas. Let’s not throw all of that away for a handful of jobs.”
CPAWS hopes that concerned citizens will write the Nova Scotia government encouraging it to remain firm in its refusal to consider the Mining Association’s proposals.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, , PhD,  Sufi teacher, author of Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth,

How can we heal and transform our ravaged ecosystem, our dying world? How can we become free from the soulless monster of materialism and its child, consumerism, and instead create a civilization that values all of creation, one that supports the interde pendent web of life of which we are a part? First, there is a need to recognize that beneath this outer ecocide another tragedy is being enacted, as devastating as it is unreported: our forgetfulness of the sacred nature of creation. Our culture regards the Earth as a resource to be exploited, not as something sacred to be revered. And without this central spiritual awareness, which was at the foundation of almost all previous cultures, our world becomes increasingly out of balance.
        We need to return to a simple awareness of the sacredness of the Earth and all of life. Then we can reconnect with the real nature of the Earth as a sacred being, what indigenous peoples know as the Mother who sustains us, both physically and spiritually. There are many ways to make this connection – for example, being aware of the sacred nature of the food we eat, or holding the Earth as a living being in our hearts and prayers, feeling our love for the Earth. Through simple means we can bring the sacred back into our daily life, and so help to heal the split between spirit and matter and restore the balance in our world.
           Recognizing the Earth as a living, spiritual being with a soul as well as a body, we will find that she can regenerate, come alive in a new way – no longer a resource to be used, but full of wonder and sacred meaning. Listening to her deep wisdom we will find ways to work together that sustain all of life, that care for the soul as well as the soil. This is the future that is waiting for us, full of all the magical possibilities of creation as well as the mystery and joy of the sacred.
        — Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

December 10, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today is Human Rights Day, as it is the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being -- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."  from:

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. [...] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

That reminds me of a comment that Island human and environmental rights advocate Hannah Gehrels wrote on social media, responding to the Guardian November 29th 2017 headline:

"Rising Number of People of P.E.I. Claim They Are Homeless"

...saying This headline needs re-writing. Maybe:

"Lack of Affordable Housing, Mental Health Services, and a Livable Minimum Wage Leads to Drastic Rise in PEI Residents Experiencing Homelessness."

Some events today:
This afternoon:
National Skate Day, 1:45-3:45PM,
Eastlink Centre, Charlottetown.
Canada 150 sponsored event celebrating skating across the country.
Event Schedule
1:45-2:30pm - Public Skating with Skate Canada Professional Coaches
2:30-2:45pm - Ice Resurfacing
2:45-2:50pm - Official Welcome
2:50-3:00pm - Skating Exhibition
3:00-3:45pm - Public Skating with Skate Canada Professional Coaches

Facebook event details


Bonshaw Hall Christmas Concert, 7-9PM, Bonshaw Hall, corner of TCH and Green Road

Music and stories galore, including a carol-singalong, led by Tony the Troubador and Karen Graves.  Among the guest performers will be Megan Ellands, Megan Pollard & Stephanie Ross, Peter Bevan-Baker and Josh Underhay (trumpet players), Keith Baglole, and Cian O Morain & Mary MacGillivray & friends.  Santa or his representatives will make an appearance. Admission by donation.  Proceeds to the Hall.  --adapted from the press release

The Federal Liberal Party is asking for your input mid-term.  There are happy or grumpy faces to select in categories (the categories have drop-down boxes to remind you of the government's accomplishments), and a box at the end to write comments. Remember the electoral reform promise?  Real climate leadership?  It takes just a minute or two.

Local input requested: Consider writing your MLA, if you haven't already, and also Environment Minister Robert Mitchell, and the Premier, about ways they can make the Water Act Bill No. 13 even stronger, as presumably the P.E.I. Legislature will resume debate on the Bill this week.
Environment Minister Robert Mitchell:  <>
Premier: <>
MLAs' contact page:

Five things to improve the Water Act are:
1. Enshrine that water is a right, including the inherent water rights of indigenous people.
2. Make the fracking ban a real ban
3. Use the right names for the terms: precautionary principle, intergenerational equity
4. Do not allow municipalities to to exceed limits on water withdrawals
5. Put the moratorium on high capacity wells in the Act.

Paula Kahumbu is the CEO of WildlifeDirect, an organization based in Kenya whose mission is "Changing Hearts, Minds and Laws to Ensure Africa's Critical Species Endure Forever".

         I wake up at two a.m. and my mind is racing. I don’t have the answer to the question posed to me yesterday: “What are we going to do to stop this?” My caller was referring to the five rhinos slaughtered over the weekend, part of the ongoing epidemic of rhino and elephant poaching. Experience teaches us that extraordinary leadership can create a tipping point to turn around public views and drive unlikely actions. In 1989, Kenya burned 12 tons of ivory in what remains the most iconic conservation message of all time. It was a risky, dangerous plan: that ivory was worth millions of dollars. But Richard Leakey and President Daniel Arap Moi did it anyway. The world celebrated and the consumers of ivory felt the shame. That year, the world banned the international trade in ivory and over the next 20 years, elephant populations recovered. Now the problem is back – only it’s much much worse – and we are really at risk of losing all our elephants and rhinos in a matter of decades. I believe it will take extraordinary creativity to achieve understanding amongst consumers and poachers so that people comprehend what is at stake if elephants and rhinos go extinct. Most Africans are poor and yet we are proud people. Our continent is recognized the world over for her diversity in people and wildlife, which are housed in astounding beauty. People say that their lifelong dream is to go on safari to Africa. They experience a connection to the land of the origin of humanity. At the rate things are going, we stand to lose it all. Africa’s wildlife belongs to the world and we Africans are beginning to realize our obligation to humanity to help fulfill this human dream of seeing the herds of the Serengeti, the scarps of the Rift Valley, the snow on the equator. We have the capacity to change – we just need courage to uphold sacred values of fairness, transparency, honesty and accountability. We can do this, and develop our economies by using the tools of this technological age of connectedness.
        — Paula Kahumbu

December 9, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM).
The Water Act was not discussed in the Provincial Legislature yesterday, but there was a lot going on.
The Opposition Tories asked about marijuana legalization, why the idea of regional cooperation hasn't taken shape, where is the money for the starting the independent government-controlled stores is going to come from and where will they be,etc.  (Aside: I think the radio call-in show Maritime Connections Sunday at 4PM will be about this what's planned in the region.)
Finance Minister Roach didn't have much to add to the discussion than already announced .

The Confederation Bridge area factored in Question Period a couple of times:

Bridge #1: Richard Brown (D12: Charlottetown-Victoria Park) said he found out that the Confederation Bridge toll booths don't accept cash from 10PM to 5AM (I think)thing, and he outlined how awful this would be to someone who doesn't have a credit card and needs to get off island for medical appointment or whatever.  He was quite impassioned in his concern.  Transportation Minister Paula Biggar said it was a pilot program and no plans to institute at the present time, but she would write a letter to the Federal Minister and to the Bridge company (but no definite timeline or promises).
Brown said maybe we should listen to Senator Percy Downe and not have a toll.

Also related to the Bridge:
Jamie Fox (D19:Borden-Kinkora) brought up the eroding and now polluting Bridge fabrication site structures falling into the cove there, asking the Minister responsible for the land owned by Island Investment Development, Inc. or IIDI), Heath MacDonald.  MacDonald gave a lot of pushback, asking if he had tabled anything, "that alleges proof through a scientific manner".   (Fox later tabled photographs at the proper "Tabling of Documents" time.)  Finally, since it's affecting shellfish beds on the shore, Fox asked  Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac, who flipped the question into a paean of praise for his staff ("we have a terrific staff that look after all the shorelines, the beds, mussel beds, oysters, whatever it might be, our staff is on top of this issue and all issues such as this because we want our industry to continue to be strong and go forward and help the economy of this province.  Thank you...")

Municipalities Act amendment
Steven Myers (D2: Georgetown-St. Peters) celebrated his birthday yesterday and was quite worked up when amendments to the as-yet-unacclaimed Municipal Governance Act came up.  Bill (No. 7) is a bunch of clarifications and amendings regarding how small communities' elections must be run, but talking about the Municipal Governance Act gave Brad Trivers (D:18 Rustico-Emerald) and Myers the opportunity to bring up concerns about the voice (or lack thereof) of people in unincorporated areas.

The Legislature resumes Tuesday afternoon.
Gretchen Bleiler is a environmental activist, U.S. professional half-pipe snowboarder,  Olympic Medalist.  She wrote the essay for the December 9th Global Chorus anthology.

         Now more than ever, there is a feeling we are living in a world that has spun out of balance. It seems the principles of force and effort are dominant in our society on all levels, and because we are all connected, it is this exact model that is not working and that has taken us to this place of global environmental and social crises. I think we are getting close to the point where we as a collective are so disturbed with what we have created that we say “we won’t take this any longer.” But right now there is already change brewing. And I believe one perfect example of this change is Marianne Williamson’s Sister Giant, which is a movement to start a new conversation, a “politics of the heart”.
        Movements like Sister Giant are what we need to bring the qualities of masculine and feminine back into alignment in our world. There is always a masculine face and a feminine face to every energy and these two faces depend on one another to thrive. But we’ve been living in a world where the goal-oriented, assertive and individualistic qualities of the masculine have dominated the intuitive, non-differentiating, joining qualities of the feminine. So in order for this world to truly prosper individually and collectively we need our feminine energy to step into its full power again with the masculine.
        Once we as a people have brought balance back into our society through the balance and union of the masculine and feminine, we will naturally find balance with Nature again as well. Instead of fighting against Nature as we have done for so long now, we will start to learn from and work with her. As Deepak Chopra and David Simon have written in their book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, “Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease. If you look at the ebb and flow of the tides, the blossoming of a flower, or the movement of the stars, you do not see Nature straining.” We can echo Nature’s intelligence to live and create a new world of effortless ease, balance and rhythm.
        And that is where it seems we are standing just on the cusp of potential.
        — Gretchen Bleiler

December 8, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Legislature meets this morning, 10AM-1PM today.  Perhaps they will get to the second reading of the Water Act, Bill No. 13 (and the not-much-of-a-ban on fracking will be gotten), or not "call" the Bill this morning at all.  You are welcome to attend in person or watch on-line at the Legislative Assembly website or their Facebook page.
Updates if possible on the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. Facebook page.

Last night, the government's whistleblower legislation (Bill No. 25, Public Interest Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection Act) was on the floor of a committee of the whole house for second reading. This legislation was finally proposed after opposition parties and others roundly criticised the government for its recently introduced whistleblower policy, which really wasn't that strong.  The Official Opposition and Third Party want this legislation to be strong, as evidenced by the debate-- all very good comments and questions.
For instance, Steven Myers (D2: Georgetown -St. Peters), questioned that the person concerned with an issue can go to the Deputy Minister of the Department or the Commissioner appointed by the Premier and Cabinet.  Myers felt this is not fair to the person or the general public, and he and the Premier went back and forth, Myers being quite tenacious and clear.  The Opposition Amendment to change the appointment process to be the one used for the Privacy Commissioner was voted down.

When the Premier defended the process proposed in the Legislation because it was based on a jurisdictional scan, Myers said while it's good to see what others are doing, it doesn't mean as much to him " 'Cause I know my jurisdiction", meaning (I think) that we are a bit more vulnerable due to small size of place and large size of people involved in government, and the resulting legislation needs to be strong.  Second reading will have to continue on this Bill.

The letter from Catherine O'Brien and Marie Ann Bowden of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, in yesterday's Guardian:

Gaps in P.E.I.'s Water Act - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Catherine O'Brien and Marie Ann Bowden

Published on Thursday, December 7th, 2017

The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water recently met to discuss the newest draft of the Water Act. After an inclusive and thorough participatory process, we are disappointed that no public consultation was allowed for this final draft.

Though we do see some very positive additions, we feel it is important to point out some significant gaps within the draft Water Act that are of great concern. We hope that some changes and amendments can be made before this Bill becomes law.

1. The “purpose and goals” section of the draft Water Act is important, but does not create rights. A separate provision is needed in the act to acknowledge and enshrine the right of Islanders to a clean and adequate supply of water. We suggest, "The peoples of P.E.I. have the right to affordable water, sufficient in quality and quantity for human and ecosystem sustainability. This includes the inherent water rights of the indigenous people of P.E.I."

2. The section dealing with the ban on fracking appears to be good news, but the clauses which follow can circumvent the ban if the minister, along with the cabinet, believe it is in “the public interest” to do so with no requirement for public consultation. Therefore, the offending sections 19(2) and (3) should be deleted from the draft.

3. We strongly suggest an amendment to section 2 (c) to highlight and ensure the success of the partnership between all stakeholders. We suggest it read: (c) Water is a finite resource, the management of which requires transparency of all information related to water and meaningful public participation to ensure its long-term sustainability and availability.

4. The “polluter pays” principle, “precautionary principle” and “intergenerational equity” are vaguely alluded to in the bill, but it is important to actually use the words if the province is indeed committed to these principles as goals. Such incorporation allows the province to incorporate best practices related to these evolving concepts and avail itself of the jurisprudence that helps interpret (and we hope further) these laudable goals.

5. In section 18(2)(a), the content of the registry of information available to the public is vague, and should include “applications and approvals, orders and directives and other information regarding an application.” In addition, the registry should be accessible to all Islanders and be presented in a timely manner.

6. Sustainability and conservation are not seen in the act as primary goals. For instance, municipalities can exceed the withdrawal limits indefinitely (section 36(b)) without penalty. There is nothing in the Act that requires the municipalities to incorporate conservation measures, nor are they given a timeline to comply with limits. This should change. It is unacceptable to propose legislation that essentially allows municipalities to operate outside the law.

7. The moratorium on high-capacity wells should be specifically included in the legislation. It was a key component of many presenters’ requests, as was concern about nitrates, and was the impetus for the development of the Water Act. After the public review a chart, provided by government, listed the concerns of Islanders based on the strength of public input. It clearly showed overwhelming support for the moratorium.

Again, we should require sustainable practices that do no harm to the environment when there is any water extraction. It’s not about “if” the ban can be lifted but “why” does it need to be?  Who benefits?  Would lifting the moratorium reflect the priority that Islanders place on the protection of our underground water resources?

Until these and other relevant questions are definitively answered, the moratorium should remain and be specifically articulated in the act.

Catherine O'Brien and Marie Ann Bowden are members of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water
There is still time to write your MLA or any MLA with your opinions on this.

Mark Z. Jacobson is professor of civil and environmental engineering and  director of the Atmosphere/Energy program at Stanford University.  I have updated the links since this was published in Global Chorus in 2014.

We believe it is technically and economically feasible to transform the world’s all-purpose energy infrastructure (for electricity, transportation, heating/ cooling, industry) into one powered by wind, water and sunlight (WWS) within 20–40 years.
        The primary limitations are social and political, not technical or economic.
        The limitations can be overcome by education of the public and policy-makers and demonstration of the health, climate and reliability benefits of clean energy technologies.
        Ongoing efforts on large-scale conversion plans are discussed at  And here is an  infographic for Canada
        — Mark Z. Jacobson

December 7, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Legislature will sit from 2-5PM (Opposition afternoon) and 7-9PM tonight.  Not sure if the Water Act debate would resume (this evening, perhaps?) and we'll send out an update if it is, and also on social media, if possible.  Legislative Assembly Watch Live link.

Catherine O'Brien and Marie Ann Bowden have an opinion piece about the water act in today's Guardian, which I will reproduce tomorrow.

You may have heard that Mike Redmond is stepping down as Leader of the PEI NDP. He'll be interviewed on CBC Radio after the 7AM news.  Appreciation for keeping the NDP vocal during his time as Leader, despite an incredibly busy home and work life.

Hannah Bell, MLA for District 11, may take her seat inside the rail of the P.E.I.. Legislature next week, officially, if the House sits Wednesday or later.  There are still enough Bills "on the order paper" that the session could easily go into next week.
Lots of information, the status and text of the bills and motions being discussed, etc., on the Legislative Assembly website, here, to explore.
Martha “Pati” Ruiz Corzo is the co-founder and director of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, and she was rewarded the UNEP Champion of the Earth and National Geographic Conservation Leader.    More at:

        We have postponed addressing the planet’s emergencies beyond the limits of its forces; this emergency demands a wave of action. Society must walk in the direction of being more self-sufficient and frugal, and above all, turn its eyes to Nature and our close relationship with Her. 
        We must embrace the values of service and the common good, where generosity and love are the drivers. And since all that glitters is not gold, it would be best to leave this life having provided service and creativity rather than any debt generated by ambition and the destructive control of our system and the marketing of life on Earth.         The re-evolution towards a society in kinship with the biosphere means to embrace the simple life, accept the challenge to see who can live with the least and be healthier, not compete, cause minimum impact, dedicate our personal gifts to work and commit our emotion to the beauty and wisdom of creation.
        So, cheers to the humans who recognize the Earth as their Mother and who relearn the purpose of having life and the capacity to act and construct futures with hope.
        — Martha “Pati” Ruiz Corzox

December 6, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There are commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion. CBC has a 5 minute computer animation of what it was like to be there, with 360 degree interaction, and many illustrations, and other pages.

Montreal Massacre memorial service, 12noon, Memorial Hall, Confederation Centre of the Arts, hosted by the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women.  All welcome.

The PEI Legislature sits from 2-5PM. They went over a few more sections to about section 18 in the Water Act bill; but what other business and whether the Water Act is going to be discussed today is anyone's guess.  The section about Fracking (s. 19) is coming up. 
Legislative Assembly website
Government Water Act website
Mike Redmond, Leader of the NDP on PEI, is extremely gracious about the District 11 by-election and his future in the interview yesterday on CBC.  Huge congratulations for him for running in the by-election and bringing up a lot of issues.

Bonshaw Community Council is hosting a community meeting tonight  at 7PM at the Community Centre, on where Bonshaw is with the very initial plans that other communities in the West River area are looking at the prospect for how an amalgamating would be done, as one of the options to fall in step with the requirements of the Municipal Governance Act passed last year.   Folks will be welcomed and those in the Bonshaw municipal limits will get one update by Council (I think that there is about to be a study commissioned, which is required), and those in surrounding unincorporated areas will have a chat with MLA Peter Bevan-Baker about how things may work for unincorporated areas.  I think.  It's all a bit of mystery novel to me, and I really don't like mystery novels.
Steven Myers has some interesting things to say about amalgamation on his Facebook page, scrolling down to December 1st:

Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga/Pilates instructor and trainer and wrote the essay for the December 6th Global Chorus anthology.

        Of course I think humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crises. I believe in our ability to adapt and to create solutions to our problems. I think more and more people are coming together in a communal way through yoga and other forms of movement, creativity and expression, through meditation, arts, music, theatre and healthy food. I believe the more we come together and find communities in our neighbourhoods, cities, states and countries, we can affect change and grow towards a more positive environment and way of living.
        We are a global community and the amazing technology that we have today allows us to communicate with everyone all over the world. Through education, communication and social movements, we can create whatever we need to make sure we as a species – as well as all species – can thrive on this planet.
        I have always seen the glass as not only half full, but overflowing with potential and infinite opportunities. I don’t even think we are in a crisis, just in a place where we need to discover what isn’t working for US (all of us, from the birds to the bees to the trees!) so that we can move towards something that will sustain us in a healthier, more positive way.
        YES, we can do it!
        — Kristin McGee

December 5, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Legislature sits this afternoon from 2-5PM and this evening from 7-9PM.
It's possible Bill No. 13, The Water Act, will be called, but actual citizens won't really, know, as there's some government side politickiness going on with scheduling.  It would more likely be called in the afternoon than the evening, which is the Opposition's time.  You can attend in person or watch at home on Eastlink, the Legislative Assembly website. Or on the Assembly's Facebook page.
The Assembly website has the Bills and Motions that are being discussed (it's a great website).
Thursday night (November 30th) had Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker giving his Response to the Speech from the Throne, a critique of the MacLauchlan government to this point and some clear suggestions for improvement.  Not everyone was able to watch (or you can go back to the video archive for the evening), and reading Hansard transcripts isn't fun some time, so I asked Peter if I could send the text of his speech for me to share.  I will do the same if there are others people want to read.  It is at the end of this newsletter.
If you haven't already, consider contacting your MLA to encourage him or her to support strengthening the Water Act by including this five things:

1) Water enshrined as a right, including the inherent water rights of Indigenous People.
2) Make the fracking ban a real ban.
3) Clarify purposes and goals by using the right terms: precautionary principle and intergenerational equity
4) Include municipal limits on water withdrawals
5) Place the moratorium on high capacity wells in the the Act.
 Your MLA's address can be found here:

Thanks to a very talented Island photographer for making this beautiful image.
Freelance writer and musician Todd E. MacLean created the Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet a few years ago; the story behind it is here on the website. Todd has generously given us permission to reprint each day's essay (which we did as excerpts in 2015 and this year the whole entry).  I would like to continue the daily pattern of thoughtful short essays, perhaps specifically nature or our place in this world;  if you have any anthologies or websites to recommend, please let me know.

Matthew Wilburn King, PhD, is a social entrepreneur, consultant and philanthropist.  He writes  the December 5th Global Chorus essay.

        Although evolution has backed us into a corner when it comes to existential threats such as climate change, it also offers us a way out. Climate change poses real challenges for current and future generations. The failure of traditional human governance institutions to come to grips with climate change – to perceive the threat, formulate a coherent and flexible response and then enact it with vigor and discipline – is all too plain.
        Cultural evolution makes it possible to create the necessary changes for survival despite our inherent biological traits that favor short-term interest over our long-term welfare. The survival and evolution of cultures rely on the inheritance of learned behaviors that can be transmitted and that change over time. Evolutionary history has also equipped us for long-term planning and action. We can imagine and predict multiple, complex outcomes and act accordingly in the present to achieve desired outcomes in the future. This human capacity is nearly two million years old.
        Although evolutionary theory shows that we care most about our genetic relatives, culturally we have embodied and acted upon concerns that extend beyond family to others and to times beyond our own lifespans. Governments have traditionally performed this role, but they have not been effective. Fortunately, we are now seeing the emergence of a kind of governance that departs from the centralized, top-down structures we have so far relied upon to solve problems. Networked systems of governance are a shift toward a more self-organizing approach that brings together dispersed individuals from the state, civil society and private sectors that have a shared interest. Each acts independently yet remains connected through exchanging information, planning for future events and co-operating as is useful.
        Networked governance is the type of social evolutionary development or adaptation that will make it possible for us to counter our inherent biases so that we can begin to reorder our lives in a way that moves us toward a more sustainable future. We can help drive their evolution by exploring ways they might be replicated at varying scales to share lessons learned and encourage adoption of good governance practices. Networked systems of governance are currently the most versatile, agile and adaptive systems available to meet the challenges ahead of us. The task now is to identify and strengthen these new systems as they are emerging.
        — Matthew Wilburn King

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

 Response to the Speech from the Throne
by Peter Bevan-Baker,
Leader of the Third Party
given Thursday evening, November 30th, 2017

Thank you Mister Speaker for the opportunity to rise today and respond to the Speech from the Throne.  I would also like to thank the Premier for finally recalling Motion #1, to provide members of the opposition an opportunity to speak.  As I said in the house last week, I did not think it was very democratic to try to muzzle one’s critics during a by-election, and as it turns out is is also not very effective.

 The start of a new session can be incredibly invigorating.  The order paper is cleared; we hear a new Throne Speech; and the session appears full of possibilities. Add to that the excitement of a by-election and it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day sport of politics and forget the real reason we are here.

 I often hear politics compared to Canada’s other favourite obsession: a hockey game. It can be a fun comparison.  Like a hockey game, politics moves quickly, and play can get a little rough. The sport is rich in metaphors that easily applies to politics. I can applaud Doug Currie’s gamesmanship as he hangs up his skates. I can accuse the Premier of ragging the puck on Electoral reform.  I can complain that government members have set up a neutral zone trap to prevent me from passing any legislation. And it may be impolite to point it out in public, but we all know who the other teams’ enforcers are and who is vying for the Lady Bing Trophy.  We can even identify our own team by the colours of our jerseys, whether they be red, blue, green or orange. Also like hockey, it is easy to get caught up in the game, and focus too much on trying to score.

 But it is not the colour of our jerseys or the number of goals and assists we accumulate, that determines whether we are winning. Rather it is the values that inform our play.

 Mr. Speaker: We need to remember we are here to represent the people, not the interests of our party or our personal gain or fame. We cannot win the game of politics unless we focus all our efforts on making life better for all our citizens.

 So when I lace up my skates and head out onto the ice, I try to think about whether the work I do makes the province a better place to live, whether the things I say make my children proud to call me “Dad”, and whether the way I conduct myself brings honour to this legislature.

 Shortly before the legislature opened, I released a mid-term report card on how well the government has kept the promises made in previous Throne Speeches.  The exercise might be seen as a bit cheeky and therefore easy to dismiss.  Who am I to grade the government?  I am well aware that I am the lone member elected for the third party, at least until the new representative of District 11 is sworn in. I also appreciate that my grades may be filtered through the lens of my own policy preferences.

 However, it is important for us as legislators to step back and honestly examine whether we are truly heading in the direction we intend. Politicians are very good at developing exciting new policies and announcing initiatives and scheduling photo-ops, but we often fall short in the actual implementation of our ideas.  This is in part because we may underestimate the challenges of advocating change or we fail to provide the support and resources to the civil servants who are tasked with implementation, or it may be we are a bit like crows and immediately fly off to investigate the next bright shiny object that catches our eye.

 As much as we may long to build our reputations on the introduction of new policies, governments can be overwhelmed by the incredible challenge of trying to meet the demands of so many people with such diverse needs and expectations on limited resources.

 Mr. Speaker: Since the current administration has reached the halfway point in its mandate, I thought it would be a good time to review previous throne speech promises and grade them using the familiar A to F report card format.  Reviewing the implementation of past Throne Speeches also offers a sobering lesson on what we can realistically expect when it comes to the implementation of the new Throne Speech.

 Ultimately it is not me who will grade government but the people of PEI during the next election. If the result of this week’s by-election is any indication some members of this legislature may not be given a passing grade. But beyond the next election we will also be graded by history, and it is possible to win many elections and still find yourself on the wrong side of history. In fifty years will our decisions be seen as improving the lives of Islanders and protecting the future for our children and grandchildren?  As we debate carbon pricing, marijuana legalization and electoral reform, we must not only consider how our actions will impact our party or our chances of getting a coveted cabinet post or being re-elected in 2019, but also how it will impact Islanders years into the future and how each one of us will be graded on history’s report card.

 For example, like other Islanders who voted in favour of proportional representation in last year’s plebiscite, I felt betrayed by government’s refusal to honour the vote and the voters. I watched in horror as MLAs who had been elected to represent their constituents scrambled to find lame rationalizations to justify putting the Liberal Party’s interests ahead of the democratically expressed will of the people who elected them. Yet even at the height of my frustration, I knew that electoral reform is inevitable. The will of the people may be thwarted by the current batch of MLAs, who vote in unquestioning lock-step on so many issues, but eventually progress will be made, and future generations will look back and be amazed that we clung so long to an antiquated electoral system that distorted democracy by giving 100% of the power to parties that won less than 50% of the popular vote.  And like so many obvious reforms, such as extending the franchise to women and Indigenous people, they will wonder why it was such a big deal.

 I know, you think I am just looking at the world through green-coloured glasses, but I am not the only one who believes this. Andrew Coyne, writing in the National Post - hardly a newspaper known for promoting radically progressive politics - also asserts the inevitability of proportional representation.  About PEI, he wrote: “Turnout, however, was “only” 36 percent [Coyne put “only” in quotation marks]—as high as for most municipal elections in this country—on the basis of which Premier Wade MacLauchlan has ordered a do-over…” Even Coyne seems to realize that ordering a do-over is like trying to move the goalposts after the other team has already scored. He then ends the article by saying “...change is coming, somewhere, somehow, and soon.  And when the sky does not fall, when the Nazis do not take over, when we do not turn into Israel or Italy—then at last maybe we can have a proper national debate.” When the National Post claims the inevitability of electoral reform, surely I can feel confident that it is just a matter of time. 

 However, in spite of this confidence, I still feel compelled to address some comments made by the Premier during Question Period a couple of weeks ago, in response to my questions regarding the legitimacy of government’s refusal to honour the results of the plebiscite vote.

 The first comment that struck me was when he said “there’s a big difference between a by-election that will elect someone to be here until the next general election and changing an electoral model that has been in place for 160 years.”  I fear the Premier underestimates the importance of district representation and exaggerates the immutability of our electoral model. His feelings about district representation are clearly demonstrated by the fact that Liberal votes are whipped votes, no matter the interests of an individual member’s constituents. As for the unchanging nature of our electoral model, the current one has only been in place since 1996, when we switched from a dual member system to a single member system. Indeed, Prince Edward Island’s electoral system has always been living and vibrant and has changed and adapted to keep pace with democratic reforms for almost two centuries.  In 1830 the right to vote was extended to Catholic males, in 1921 women were granted the franchise and in 1963 Indigenous people were allowed to vote for the first time. In 1940, amendments to the Legislative Assembly Act allowed women to sit as elected members. And even though it has been over 75 years, that particular innovation has not yet caught on quite as much as I would like.

 Also the structure of the assembly has changed. Before 1861 PEI had a bicameral system with an upper house that was appointed and a lower house that was elected. In 1893 the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council were combined  Up until 1963, there was a separate franchise for councillors and only landowners could vote for their district councillor. And then in 1996 the dual member system was replaced with our current single member system with 27 districts.  All of these electoral reforms radically changed the nature of democracy on this small Island and all occurred without a plebiscite, let alone a plebiscite and a do-over. So yes, change is not only possible, it is constant and inevitable.

 The second thing that struck me in the Premier’s response was his accusation that “the logic of the Leader of the Third Party changed at about 8:00 pm on the night of the plebiscite.”  That is not only inaccurate but also offensive.

 The Premier’s speculation on my state of mind implies that I didn’t expect to win, so my logic somehow changed at 8:00 pm.  Well, for the record, yes, I was not certain of victory that night. Those of us who campaigned in favour of PR never assumed that just because WE believed it was the best and most democratic system, other Islanders would support it. So yes, the Premier is right--on the night of the plebiscite I was prepared to lose, and it was my intention to accept that loss with good grace and honour. Believe me, if there is one thing I have learned during my many previous attempts to win elected office--nine in total--it is that when the people have spoken, we must always accept their wisdom with humility.

 So on November 7th, I WAS prepared to lose, but unfortunately the Premier was not. He was not prepared to humbly accept the wisdom of the people. Perhaps it takes a few electoral defeats to learn humility. We are all here to serve the voters and their interests, not our party executive, not the corporations that finance our election campaigns, and definitely not our own inflated egos.  And although I had been prepared to lose the plebiscite, I had not been prepared to win the plebiscite and then have that victory nullified by an Executive Decision.

 Mr. Speaker: The Premier is fond of pointing out that everyone on the committee knew that a plebiscite is by its very definition non-binding.  Yes, I did know that, but I also firmly believed that government would honour the results.  I certainly would not have put so much effort in, if at the very start, the Chair had announced, “As you know, plebiscites are non-binding, and the Premier fully intends to make an Executive Decision if he is displeased with the results.” The whole point of a plebiscite is to provide the people with the opportunity to guide government on important issues. If government does not honour that guidance then the exercise becomes political theatre, a magician’s trick where you create the illusion that you are empowering the people, while never actually relinquish any of your executive privilege. Now you may accuse me of being naive or even unsophisticated for assuming government would honour the vote--of that, I am guilty as charged--but do not accuse me of being inconsistent in my logic or beliefs, or of being self serving. 

 Much of what we do as members of this legislature is determined not by a strict set of rules, but by democratic norms. I am an advocate of ensuring that PEI has some of the most stringent rules in the country with strong independent oversight, but I also see the importance of respecting democratic norms. We’ve been hearing a lot about democratic norms lately, as the current leader of the United States has built his presidency on violating these norms. We can see from a distance the chaos that can ensue when a leader indulges his authoritarian impulses, behind the rationalization that there are no rules to stop him. The unwritten rules that govern our behaviour are often based on the assumption that we are individuals with honour and integrity, and that we will act in the public interest. 

 So when I said that the Premier’s refusal to implement proportional representation set “a very dangerous precedent for our democratic institutions,” I was not suggesting that he was breaking any law. Instead, I meant that he is violating the democratic norm that governments act on the results of a plebiscite whether they like them or not.  When Premier Joe Ghiz held a plebiscite on building a fixed link, he personally voted no, but the majority of Islanders who voted were in favour, so the bridge was built. In violating the democratic norm of acting on the results of the plebiscite, the Premier erodes public trust and feeds the cynical belief that politicians are only looking out for themselves. This betrayal is especially destructive because for the first time we invited young people, aged 16 and 17 to participate. We tried to engage them in the democratic process; we promised them that their voices would be heard.  But in the end we turned their first opportunity to exercise their right to vote into a farce that reinforced any beliefs they already had on the futility of trying to implement grassroots change.

 But, Mr. Speaker, the most telling aspect of my exchange with the Premier on Friday was not my cheeky suggestion that he intends to put Doug Currie back in office, but his inability to answer my original and very serious question: “Does he still plan on making the second plebiscite a binding one and if so, how?”  His refusal to answer whether his fantasy referendum will be binding and how he can make that consistent with the democratic principle of parliamentary sovereignty, where a current administration cannot dictate the actions of a future government, shows that he still does not have a plan. He has no idea how he is going to extract himself from this ridiculous mess that he has created for himself. So far, his strategy seems to be to remain silent in the hopes that people will forget his betrayal. Well, based on the by-election results in District 11, people are not willing to forget or forgive. 

 On the whole issue of electoral reform, government has painted itself into a corner. The Premier really has nobody to blame for this situation other than himself. From his original throne speech commitment to democratic renewal, to failing to set minimum standards for action before the plebiscite was launched, to his panicked morning-after decision to reject the will of the people, to forcing all Liberal members to vote down Motion 54 even when their constituents voted in favour of PR, to placing the Government House Leader on the Special Committee for Democratic Renewal in order to maintain the Liberal majority, the Premier must take full personal responsibility for every misstep that has led us here.

 Mr. Speaker: The same is also true as the Premier tries to wiggle out of commitments he made concerning campaign finance reform. I was disappointed to hear in the Throne Speech that government will continue to kick this issue down the road by putting forward a discussion document on Campaign Finance Reform. It would be so much easier to simply do the right thing, which is introducing legislation that will fulfill the Premier’s original commitment. In May 2016, he stood in this house and promised to table legislation that would ban corporations and unions from donating to political parties.  But instead of following through on his promise, in December 2016 he announced he had “reconsidered” the issue and would not be banning corporate and union donations. This must have been yet another one of the Premier’s famous “executive decisions.” And he made this decision, in spite of the fact that a ban is clearly the future of campaign finance regulation.  The federal government, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and soon BC have legislation to ban corporate and union donations. 

 The Green Party strongly believes that these types of donations have a corrupting influence. I cannot accept that it is merely a coincidence that some of the biggest donations to the two largest political parties on PEI come from construction companies, accounting firms, legal firms, telecommunications companies, and agricultural businesses. The one thing these donors have in common is that they are businesses that either receive millions of dollars in government contracts or are regulated by government.  Yet the Premier expects us to believe that his change of heart is because he is “...concerned that this may limit legitimate political participation by those who have a real interest in our province and its democratic process.”  I can’t help but speculate that these corporations’ “real interest in our province and its democratic process” relates more to a desire to influence government in their favour than to encourage thriving policy discussions that will benefit all Islanders.

 But it is not just corporate donations that concern us.  During the last election a full 39% of political donations to the New Democratic Party came from Unions.  We, in the Green Party, strongly support labour rights. Indeed, my only legislative initiative for this sitting is to present a bill that will provide whistleblowing protections to all workers on PEI. However, we grow concerned when a party becomes that indebted to organized labour for its very existence.  Could an NDP government enter difficult negotiations with civil service unions knowing how dependent they are on union donations? Could they still put the public interest ahead of their party and the unions that support it?

 he Green Party believes that no matter how hard you may try to separate party financing from public policy, the interests of one can never be disentangled from the other.  Therefore, it is better to completely remove temptation and any appearance of impropriety.  For these reasons the Green Party only accepts donations from individuals. We do not accept money from either companies or unions, and we believe that all parties should be required to do the same. Unfortunately, the Premier has decided that the citizens of PEI do not deserve to be protected from the obvious conflict that arises when political parties are dependent on moneyed interests.

 Needless to say, I was delighted to hear the new Leader of the Opposition state very clearly that he too supports a ban on corporate and union donations.  I am looking forward to working with him to ensure Islanders get the legislation they deserve when a new Election Expenses Act is finally tabled. But I would also like to invite him and the Progressive Conservative Party to immediately join me and the Green Party in our refusal to accept all corporate and union donations. We may not have a majority in the legislature, but by putting our principles ahead of partisan gain, we can show a level of moral leadership that appears to be lacking in the governing party.

 As leaders of political parties we can choose to lead or be led. When reform is so clearly the way of the future, can we accept that our elected officials are content to be followers or, even worse, obstructionists? If given the choice of being a leader or a follower, I would like to be a leader.  I would like to be remembered as someone who embraced the future, rather than someone who clung to the old order from fear of losing traditional privilege or advantage. Even King Canute knew he could not stand on the shores and turn back the tide.

 In advance of the new throne speech, the Premier said on CBC that “The program that we laid out in 2015 is substantially completed and we now have a window when we can really add to that and build further progress for Islanders.”  I found this quite surprising since our review showed many gaps and promises unkept or difficult issues that government has repeatedly kicked down the road. 

 Mr. Speaker: many of the previous Throne Speech promises that have either been broken or not yet acted upon centre on issues of integrity and trust: issues that directly affected MLAs or the Liberal Party’s ability to finance and win elections. Whether the issue is honouring the plebiscite vote, bringing in promised campaign finance reform, eliminating members’ transitional allowances, adopting the Conflict of Interest Commissioner’s recommendations or improving access and transparency, there has been a disappointing record of government members putting their own interests ahead of the public interest. Even something as simple as the Premier’s 2015 promise to reduce the size of Cabinet did not last long.  Cabinet was at eleven members under Premier Ghiz, then went down to nine under the current Premier, but has since crept back up to eleven.

 The Premier was elected on promises of offering a new kind of leadership, but he now seems willing to allow major policy decisions to be reversed by pollsters or the bagmen in his own party.  What happened to his promise of electoral reform? What happened to his promise to ban corporate and union donations to parties? What happened to his promises to tighten up Conflict of Interest rules?

 Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the explanation can be found in what the Premier said to The Guardian when rationalizing his changed position on campaign finance. He said: “When I put something out in the public domain, it’s not a promise. It’s more to say, ‘This is proposed. Let’s find out what people think about it.’” Now, with campaign finance, I am not sure if “the people” meant the citizens of PEI or his own party’s insiders or it was just another “Executive Decision”, but this is still one of the Premier’s most honest and revealing statements, and one we should all keep in mind when evaluating his commitments.

 I know much of what I am saying today might be seen as an attack on our current Premier, and I want to make it perfectly clear that is not my intention. The differences I have with the Premier are based on his policy decisions; they are not personal. I believe the Premier is an intelligent man and an honourable man, and like many Islanders I was optimistic when he was elected, and hoped he would be able to live up to his promises for greater transparency and accountability. And like so many Islanders I have been disappointed with the results. Yet the blame for this failure to implement a new regime of openness, is less the fault of the Premier than the fault of the entire political system we must work within. This room can be a very difficult place to maintain one’s integrity.

 When I was elected, I had high ideals about improving the tone of political discourse in the legislature and helping to build multi-party alliances around serious issues and working together to improve the lives of Islanders.  Yet over the past two and a half years, I have realized that simply having high ideals is not enough, and I have sometimes found myself engaging in exchanges that do not highlight my better nature. I am extremely blessed that I have a level of independence that no other member of this house can enjoy. So far I have been the leader and lone member for my party, I do not need to negotiate every decision with a broad caucus or a powerful backroom of party supporters and funders. As a representative for a party based on six defining principles, I can turn to the party’s core beliefs and seek meaningful guidance on how to act. And when all else fails, my wise and kind-hearted wife, Anne, is always ready to gently remind me when I fail to live up to my own rhetoric.

 The other leaders, on the other hand, have to negotiate with powerful partisan interests within their own parties.  And regardless of their good intentions, the rules reward certain behaviours. It is easy to get caught up in the game and focus entirely on winning, while forgetting the ideals that brought you to seek office in the first place.  We have entered an era of hyper-partisan politics. There was a time, perhaps mythical, where parties existed to provide politicians with a structure around which they could act in the public interest. Now, we seem to have flipped that equation over, and politicians exist solely to promote and defend the interests of their parties. That is why in the Green party we talk about the need to do politics differently; the old way is not serving citizens well.

 So when I stand here and criticize the actions of the Premier, it is intended more as a critique of the deeply entrenched systemic problems with how we practice politics. And when I may seem overwhelmed with frustration over issues like the plebiscite or campaign financing, it is because I sincerely believe that these are the fundamental reforms we need to implement meaningful change, and I had hoped the Premier, with all his early promises, was going to be a powerful ally to move change forward.

 And I would be unfair if I did not acknowledge some of the improvements in accountability the Premier has pursued.  Although not yet passed, the Public Interest Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection Act and the Lobbyist Registration Act are both significant steps forward.

 Yet, even when this government has voluntarily brought forward improved measures for accountability, they have done it in a half-hearted way.  For example, the Premier promised whistleblower protections for civil servants. Instead of introducing legislation, he created a policy and set up the Office of the Ethics and Integrity Commissioner to oversee whistleblowing and conflict of interests for senior civil servants.  In what has become a pattern for the Premier, he was unwilling to subject his government to independent outside scrutiny, but instead created a position within government that would ultimately report to him. This is not how government oversight is supposed to work. It would be like replacing the referee in a hockey game with the home team’s owner. 

 Indeed, it is so flawed that in her special audit of the e-gaming file, the Auditor General wrote:


In our view, the policy falls short in providing the kind of environment that would ensure that employees of government could disclose wrongdoing without fear of reprisal, as the policy intends to do. A policy document is not a law. Policies describe the objectives of a government and how it proposes to achieve these objectives using various methods and principles. Policy does not provide the same level of protection to employees. Statutory protection is better protection. Most other provincial jurisdictions have whistleblower legislation.


Government recognized that it could not flagrantly ignore these recommendations of the Auditor General, and prepared Bill 76:  Public Interest Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection Act that was tabled in May 2017 and has subsequently died on the order paper. 

 Although I am pleased to hear that government will be reintroducing the legislation this fall, I would be remiss if I did not point out some of the more obvious flaws in the legislation as it was originally tabled.

 The most troubling aspect of Bill 76 if that it requires a disclosure to be made within one year from the date of the alleged wrongdoing and does not allow members of the public to make complaints directly to the commissioner.

 I wrote to the Premier about a month ago explaining these and other concerns, and I remain optimistic that he intends to act on my suggestions. I also wrote him a similar letter concerning the Lobbyist Registration Act, which will also be reintroduced. These are both important pieces of legislation, and I see no reason why Prince Edward Island should not have accountability legislation that is amongst the strongest in Canada.

 Mr. Speaker: This government has not only shown a lack of leadership on the large visionary issues, but also on the day-to-day decision-making that comes with governing. The administration has wrapped itself in the writing of studies, reviews, reports, and strategies; and whenever it is called on to make the tough decisions, it abdicates its responsibility pending the arrival of the next action plan.

 In keeping with this approach, government has announced yet another strategy, this one on housing. Having access to safe and affordable housing is fundamental to personal well-being, and I applaud any new initiatives that will improve access to secure housing.  However, my heart grows heavy when I hear this government has ordered another strategy. We need more than strategies and reports and advisory committees, we need action. The Housing Supply Task Force mentioned in the Throne Speech should be Islanders with shovels and hammers ready to build homes that we know are desperately needed now, not bureaucrats with pens and clipboards drafting yet another study. We also need action on Mental Health and Addictions, we need action on access to long-term care, we need action on poverty reduction, and improved child protection services, we need action in so many areas that touch the lives of so many Islanders. Yet this government seems often to believe that studying a problem is somehow equivalent to solving that problem.

 Of course I would be less discouraged by government’s insistence on continued studies and strategies, if I believed they were being undertaken in good faith rather than as a stalling tactic to avoid making tough decisions.  I use as an example the government’s much cited Review of the Child Protection Act.  Last session, whenever I reiterated the need for a child advocate, the Premier blithely informed the house that he was confident that PEI did not need a Child Advocate because it was not mentioned in the Review of the Child Protection Act. This is in spite of the recommendations of the Campbell-Hennessey Inquest Jury, the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, both opposition parties, and the collective wisdom of every other province in Canada. However, what the Premier did not say is that according to a Guardian article “Although the committee did hear feedback from Islanders calling for a child advocate for PEI, review chair Patsy MacLean says the committee felt it was better to focus on the services Islanders want as part of this request.” So in other words, government distorted the consultation process in order to ensure that the review did not call for a Child Advocate, and then used that review as evidence that PEI does not need a Child Advocate. That there is a dipsy-doodle for the record books. If that is how government manipulates these processes then how can we have confidence that these reviews and strategies are being presented in good faith?

 Mr. Speaker: I also found it intriguing that in the new Throne Speech, government advanced the commitment that “We will launch during this sitting a process to review and update the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.” as if it were a new and original initiative. I suppose it HAS BEEN over two years since the 2015 Speech from the Throne, and therefore our leaders can’t be expected to remember everything promised, but surely they would recall in that speech they stated: My Government will work to make government information more transparent, including a review of our Freedom of Information legislation. Admittedly they did not put a time frame on this commitment. It is these echos of promises forgotten or never completed that makes me call this the "we're going to try again and this time might even get it right" throne speech.

 On a more positive note, it is good to see significant progress on the development of the Water Act, a long standing initiative that this government inherited from the previous administration. I am glad to see that government includes some of the outstanding concerns that stakeholders and experts are still calling for, such as a ban on hydraulic fracturing, but as I said during second reading yesterday I firmly believe that access to water should be declared a right. I am looking forward to a continuation of our respectful and informative discussion of the legislation during this sitting. There is potential for this initiative to be a real success, if government puts the interests of Islanders and communities ahead of corporate interests.

 The new Water Act also demonstrates the power of true public collaboration. There was very little agreement among stakeholders several years ago when the need for the new act became apparent, but with a thorough and meaningful consultation process, government was able to develop an Act that has generated fairly extensive agreement among the different stakeholders.

 This government talks a lot about collaboration, yet last week when I asked the Premier what we in opposition could do to improve collaboration, his response focused entirely on collaborating with community.  I found it discouraging that he did not seem to consider us partners in collaboration.

 However, I will once again reach out to the government side and assure them that the Third Party caucus is still eager to work with all parties to bring to fruition previous commitments for meaningful changes that were promised during the last general election campaign and in previous throne speeches. There are still two and a half years to the current mandate, assuming there is a Federal election in the fall of 2019, so there is still time to change course and start to live up to the commitments for transparency and accountability you made to the people of Prince Edward Island.  You can honour the vote, and implement meaningful campaign finance reform, improve conflict of interest rules and make good on your promises, and the new member from Charlottetown-Parkdale and I will work with you to achieve this goals.

 Mr. Speaker: The Premier often refers to PEI as “The Mighty Island.” Indeed he named his economic plan “The Mighty Island: A Framework for Economic Growth.”  Often when he references the Mighty Island it is in the context of business development, population growth, encouraging entrepreneurship and expanding export markets.  When I think about the “Mighty Island” I see the resilience of our communities, our wonderful interconnectedness, the extraordinary generosity of neighbour to neighbour, our thriving artistic and music scenes, and the beauty of our landscapes and seascapes. 

 Islanders are deeply connected to the land and the sea--many have been rooted in this land for generations--this land has sustained human life for millennia, was wrestled away from the control of absentee landlords, provided trees for the shipbuilding industry and fertile fields for farmers.  But today Islanders are anxious because they see the land and water under constant threat, and one of the primary threats is the economic development model being promoted by this government.  The industrial style agriculture that must be practiced to compete in global commodity markets results in larger farms and more chemical interventions such as fertilizers and pesticides. These chemicals leach into our groundwater and destroy our rivers through anoxic events and fish kills, and the land is slowly stripped of its capacity to grow crops until it becomes an inert medium for chemicals. And as our land withers, so do many of the hundreds of rural communities that have for so long defined our province.

 I am reminded of a previous experiment when government encouraged farmers to “go big” with the hog industry here on PEI. Government provided incentives for farmers to move away from small scale mixed farming and build larger operations focused on a single product so they could compete in international commodity markets. Many moved to hog farming, building specialized barns, and placing their future prosperity on a single commodity.  But then the global price of pork plummeted, and farmers found their input costs were higher than the value of their pigs. The local hog plant closed and farmers were left on their own to clean up the mess.  These attempts to be global players make the Island economy vulnerable to forces well beyond our own ability to influence like changes in the value of the Canadian dollar, the costs of fuel and transportation, large international trading agreements such as NAFTA, and massive government subsidies in foreign jurisdictions. But it is usually the little guy--the farmer, the pork plant worker who lost pension benefits, or the small business people who end up suffering the consequences of these miscalculations and cleaning up the politicians’ mess.

 I can appreciate the temptation to focus on export markets. It gives politicians the opportunity to sponsor high profile trade missions with all the attendant pomp and photo-ops. And success can bring in impressive numbers with a quick hit to the Gross Domestic Product and an infusion of foreign cash.  But just as an emphasis on exports can generate an economic boom, the boom is inevitably followed with a crash. It is my experience that when this happens an elite few garner most of the benefits of the boom, while ordinary folks lose much more from the crash. In some ways these schemes resemble a reverse Robin Hood, with government taking from taxpayers to give to the already wealthy.

 Mr. Speaker: In my vision of the Mighty Island, we build on what is special about the Island. It is a place where in addition to measuring the Gross Domestic Product, we will measure the well-being of Islanders.  And not just their material well-being but their physical and mental health, their access to good food, a clean environment, and a broad range of opportunities both large and small that contribute to a high quality of life.  

 In my vision of the Mighty Island, government policy will strengthen the interconnectedness and self-reliance of communities by decentralizing power from the fifth floor and not only consulting communities but inviting them to participate in the decision-making process.

 In my vision of the Mighty Island, government will work to promote small local markets, where the focus is developing a sustainable economy, and ensuring prosperity is spread more evenly across districts and between urban and rural Islanders.

In my vision of the Mighty Island, politicians will put the needs of their constituents ahead of the demands of their party.  The will of the people will not be distorted through the lens of electoral systems that allow a party that receives less than 50% of the popular vote to have 100% of the power.  Elected members will be encouraged to collaborate across party lines and seek common goals rather than exaggerate partisan divisions and seek to increase discord and distrust.  And most of all government and parties will be held to account by robust systems of independent oversight.

Thank you.

December 4, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Fanningbank Open House, 12-2PM, and 5:30-7:30PM,
Lieutenant Governor welcomes all to see the decorations and enjoy seasonal music.

Progressive Conservative Holiday Social, 6-8PM, Winsloe Lions Club, (14 Campbell Rd., off Malpeque Rd.). Leader James Aylward invites all to kick off the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 5th:
"PEI Flora:  Regional Themes and New Discoveries", Nature PEI monthly lecture, 7:30-9PM,
Beaconsfield Carriage House is the usual location, free.

Sean Blaney of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre:  “I’ll be discussing some significant recent discoveries, a few favorite showy flowers and a general overview of the flora of Prince Edward Island. Its relationships to plants of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will be explored.” Since 1999, Sean and his AC CDC colleagues have documented about 1000 of the 1150 species of vascular plants that have even been known to occur on the island, including 50 or more new species for PEI. edited from the Facebook event notice

CBC Radio's Sunday afternoon Maritime Connections was about the Green Party win in District 11: Charlotte-Parkdale) last week, and trends.  I didn't listen to much of it, but several people expressed that the angle of the show just didn't quite hit the mark. Guests included Don Mills of Corporate Research Associates.  The recording is the first choice on this page, if you are interested:

Boyd Allen hits the mark in this letter to the editor from the weekend:

LETTER: Water Act debate almost impossible - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

The second reading of the Water Act is now taking place at the legislature. Getting it to this point represents countless hundred volunteer hours in addition to those compiled in various government departments.

Minister Robert Mitchell must be commended for being committed to public inclusion in formulation of the Act. Unfortunately what is taking place now undermines that process and devalues this foundational piece of legislation. Partisan politics and the manipulation of outdated procedures have made genuine debate impossible.

Opposition MLA's have an abundance of items their constituents want included or excluded in this Act. They don't frame these concerns in the form of an amendment because of the certainty that government MLA's will use their majority to quash it. These MLA's have displayed little interest in this piece of legislation and shown no intention to bring their constituents’ issues to the table. They seem content to follow instructions, get ’er done and get this Act out of the public eye.

It is time to bring a collaborative, representative form of government to P.E.I. There's too much to lose.

Boyd Allen, Pownal

Allana Beltran is an Australian "artivist", known for her 2006 peaceful protest of logging in the Weld Forest by dressing as an Angel; she stopping cutting for a period of time.  She writes the essay used for today in the anthology Global Chorus.

Weld Angel,
Allana Beltran, from her website

All crises, personal and global, lead to change. The current crises have arisen in culmination of past attempts to avoid our humanity by escaping into materialism. Hope for our future requires a shift in human consciousness.
        Sustainable cultures throughout history have one major characteristic that is largely missing from the current dominant forms of governance: a spirituality that sees the divinity in all things and surrenders to it. Without a sense of spirituality we seek fulfillment and identity in temporal material objects and power. These illusions we have been pursuing are now crumbling at our feet – witnessed through the destruction of society and the environment. Realizing this, I believe many people will reconnect to their spiritual self by praying in surrender to their personal divinity for help. I feel this shift has already started.
        In the breakdown and disillusionment of materialism, the active power of love and compassion will be enabled to arise from our innate nature. We will feel reverence for the interconnectedness of all life and subsequently act to protect it. In our stewardship of the Earth, true fulfillment will arise in the hearts of humankind.
        I believe it is because of these crises and the consequential changes that our collective consciousness can shift to a higher state of being. I believe we may well be as never before, walking into a time of global oneness in which we will experience everything – rivers, oceans, birds, animals, humans, mountains, forests, all life – as an interconnected part of our own self.
        — Allana Beltran

December 3, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Seasonal events coming up:
Charlottetown Artisans' Market, 10AM-4PM
(although another poster listed ending at 3PM), Charlottetown Farmers' Market on Belvedere Avenue, Facebook event details
It runs today, and the next two Sundays. Gorgeous items for sale by local artisans.

Handel's Messiah, 2:30-4:40PM, Confederation Centre of the Arts Main Stage.  The Confederation Singers and Orchestra, conducted by Donald Fraser, will be joined by soloists Shannon Scales, Hannah O’Donnell, James Smith, and Parker Clements. Tickets are $25, I think, and still available.  There are some wonderful singers in the Chorus, too, who are active in many volunteer ventures.  This is the performance where you restrain yourself and listen to their beautiful voices instead of the "Sing-along Messiah" which is usually later in the season (December 28th, Kirk of St. James).


Monday, December 4th:
Open House at Fanningbank with Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry, two times:  12Noon-2PM, and 5:30-7:30PM.
Free. "View decorations and listen to live seasonal music inside the vice-regal residence... Wheelchair accessible and parking is available on the grounds for those with mobility limitations."  Other parking, since the government workers' lot is so jammed, may be by the Aubin-Aresenault building parking lot, or places around Victoria Park.
There is nothing to extra-bold -- each paragraph says so much.
From two of our many water guardians (the latter will be singing in today's Messiah, by the way):

OPINION: A troubling issue - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Gary Schneider and Don Mazer

Published on Friday, December 1st, 2017

The problem is that a very complex issue in Water Act appears to have been simplified to a question of volume

The unveiling of the Water Act did little to resolve the central issue, which sparked the creation of the Act - the moratorium on high capacity wells. Over 90 per cent of those who participated in the extensive Water Act consultations were in favour of maintaining the moratorium. Unfortunately, the Act does not reflect this strong consensus.

To be clear, the draft Water Act does not include a moratorium on high capacity wells. Surprisingly, “high capacity wells” is only mentioned in a slide presentation on the Act, not in the Act itself. Under the heading “High capacity wells for Ag irrigation,” it says that “Water extractions will be addressed in regulations once the research on stream flow has been completed.”

The problem is that a very complex issue appears to have been simplified to a question of volume. In the face of climate change and competing needs, will we ever have enough scientific certainty to accurately predict how much water might be available for different uses? Even if we do develop trustworthy models, there is so much more to the question of how to safeguard P.E.I.’s precious water resources for future generations than mere volume.

The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water has been a part of this process since the initial push for a new Act. We believe that the Act must clearly state that the moratorium on high capacity wells will remain in place until we have much more scientific certainty and that any decision to change the status quo will first require an inclusive public process that addresses a wide variety of relevant issues.

Just looking at one narrow aspect of whether water is available to be given away to support industrial potato production, more golf courses, or urban areas that exceed their sustainable water limits ignores many other concerns that also need to be addressed.

Do Islanders really want an even more industrialized system of potato production, with fewer and fewer farmers and larger and larger farms? We’ve been heading in this direction for decades and it has resulted in a great deal of damage to the environment. Should we not instead be looking at ways to increase organic matter in the soil that will both store carbon and allow the land to hold more water, thereby reducing soil erosion and pesticide run-off?

It would be wiser to look at how to improve our soils, rebuild our hedgerows and windbreaks, and extend the rotation of row crops, instead of increasing pressure on our already overworked Island soil and water. Our rivers and estuaries are already overburdened – we need to address these issues, not take steps that might lead to more harm.

We also need to know much more about the ecology of our waterways and the wildlife that are dependent on these important areas. The fish kills do not only harm fish – they kill shellfish, insects, birds and essential micro-organisms as well. Will greatly increased water extraction result in more risk to Island wildlife and ecosystems? These answers will not be easy to come by. We have done little monitoring of the impacts of existing high capacity wells.

As well as lack of contextual and comparative analysis, there is concern that long term considerations and analysis are also missing. Climate change may well bring about changes in hydrological cycles. There is also concern over the sustainability of exporting of large amounts of water embedded in potatoes. These are long-term considerations where the precautionary principle needs to be recognized, as we are making decisions for the next seven generations as our Mi'kmaq and other Indigenous leaders would advise us all.

We must make thoughtful, long-term decisions about water. That is what Islanders overwhelmingly asked for when making submissions to the extensive consultations around the Water Act.

A true moratorium on high capacity wells should be included in the Water Act for two reasons: first, to ensure that the clearly expressed wish of the majority of Islanders is respected and second, to mandate that any change to the status quo will only be undertaken after open and transparent debate among our lawmakers with meaningful participation by interested Islanders. And in the question of the protection of our water and its use, this means everyone.

- Gary Schneider and Don Mazer are members, Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water

As going through the Water Act bill will continue this week, you can contact your MLA and tell him or her about your concerns, including:

Five things to improve the Water Act are:
1. Enshrine that water is a right (this includes the inherent rights of Indigenous people to water).
2. Make the fracking ban a real ban
3. Use the right names for the terms: precautionary principle, intergenerational equity
4. Do not allow municipalities to to exceed limits on water withdrawals
5. Put the moratorium on high capacity wells in the Act.

Mae Moore is a Canadian musician, artist, organic farmer, and activist.  And I believe she is the Island's social media manager and and environmentalist Maureen Kerr's aunt, too.
from her website,

        We will not know if we can turn around the destructive path we are on until the time arrives when we have accomplished it.
        To get there, we must protect the last remaining wild places on Earth from resource extraction and we must live by a new model that values health and happiness over economic profit. Each and every person in the First World must recognize with gratitude (and not a sense of entitlement) that her/ his lifestyle comes at a cost to the environment, to the Third World and to the planet, and must take steps to shift this. We need to move away from being rabid consumers and realize that there is nothing more important than clean water, clean air and fertile soil. 
        Our population is too large to be supported by our planet. We have disrupted entire ecosystems under the guise of progress. We cannot keep doing this. People are awakening to one climate crisis after another. Our time is running out to effect change.          Do I have hope? I answer that question with no, I do not have hope, as hope is too passive an election. I will, however, live my life with the lightest footprint possible and I will work toward actively redirecting our collision course, through education, through public governmental lobbying against fossil fuel, through growing food organically for my family and community and through protecting our environment for other species at risk – through civil disobedience if called for.
        — Mae Moore

December 2, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' markets are open in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) today.  Tomorrow starts the lovely string of Sunday Artisan Markets at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market (10AM-3PM).

Any last petitions about the health care situation in the South Shore area, which is really a bellwether for the rest of rural P.E.I., are being picked up from various businesses in the region today, but if you wished to get a copy to sign and forward to MLA Peter Bevan-Baker, contact me and I can send you one.

This piece was in The Guardian last week:

OPINION: Elected officials out of touch - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Judy Barrett

Published on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Increasing allowances for seniors in long-term care commendable, but no help for people living in poverty

What is wrong with Tina Mundy and the Liberal government -defending their inaction on reducing poverty in P.E.I. by promising another action strategy in 2018?

Last week, Ms. Mundy is telling us that she wants input from all Islanders on reducing poverty so as to “craft” a new strategy for the future. Seems more like a new buzzword to further delay making any concrete changes.

Her example of how this government is tackling poverty by improving targeted programs and services for low income Islanders is really an example of how out of touch our elected officials are.

Increasing social services comfort allowances for seniors in long term care may be commendable but in no way does it help someone living in poverty. Seniors in long-term care may find uses for any extra financial help they receive but they are not the individuals most stakeholders would identify as being poor and needy.

Families living on social assistance in inadequate housing and not enough money to buy food and clothing are those in need. Seniors living in their own homes and can’t afford to heat them or fix them are those in need. Families who live with members suffering from physical and mental disabilities and can’t afford medication or medical care are those in need.

Minimum wage workers with families to support and unable to keep up with increasing costs of basic needs are those in need. All these people struggle daily to make decisions on how best to spend the little money they do have.

If we look at the past 10-15 years of Liberal government we have had numerous costly and lengthy strategies/reports developed that have included all kinds of stakeholders with an abundance of knowledge and ideas.

Do Ms. Mundy and the Liberal government not have access to all this information that is already available and equally as valid to poverty today as it was 5-10 years ago?

The previous Minister of Community Services, Valerie Docherty also did her share of producing action plans to reduce poverty but apart from a few small increases in social service allowances for food and rent, little was done to improve the lives of those in need. Government even acknowledged that the allowances given by Social Services for food and clothing were well below the actual cost of these items.

Why should I or any other stakeholder waste our time talking to government action committees when there is no action ever taken that truly addresses the problems of poverty?

What is the reality, is that we spend more money on talking about change then actually implementing it. This wasted money could have been put to better use feeding families and keeping them warm.

- Judy Barrett, Charlottetown, is a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an anti-poverty group, which has previously provided feedback to government

Stephen Gardiner is a professor at the University of Washington, and author of A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change

        Seven billion people stranded on a small planet face a big problem. Nothing stands in the way of their confronting this problem but themselves. Yet the challenge is extreme: the problem is genuinely global, profoundly intergenerational, and current institutions and theories are poorly placed to cope. Worse, the position of the most affluent is ethically compromised: they face strong temptations to continue to take modest benefits now while passing severe and possibly catastrophic costs to the future, and especially to the less advantaged and other species. This global environmental tragedy constitutes a “perfect moral storm.” Climate change is a paradigm example.
        The perfect moral storm is a severe challenge, and so far we are not doing very well. Yet succumbing to the storm is not inevitable. The dominant institutions of the age – markets and standard election cycles – may be good at highlighting short-term, narrowly economic motivations and bad at capturing concerns for distant people, future generations and Nature. Still, this does not mean that we do not have such concerns, or that they cannot be made operative in policy. In my view, we do and we can. Confronting the storm will require extraordinary courage, imagination, creativity and fortitude. It will take a great generation to try, and an even greater one to succeed. Yet we can be that generation.
        We must.
        — Stephen M. Gardiner

December 1, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

After indications that the Water Act would not come up in the evening sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature, it did!  However, first there were some Responses to the Speech from the Throne, with Tina Mundy finishing and then Peter Bevan-Baker (beginning about ten minutes into the session).  This critique is well-worth spending the time watching today or this weekend, if you weren't able to attend in person or watch it last night (as I wasn't, and still making my way through Bevan-Baker's response).  It is here:
Thursday, November 30th, 2017, 7-9PM, video archived of Legislative session:
Bevan-Baker starts about ten minutes into the session.
It's soft-spoken, clear, and fiercely critical.

The Water Act was brought on the table about 8PM for the continuation of second reading, and they worked through a few more sections, and probably will resume today, after Welcomes and Question Period.  Probably.  This kind of games-playing with scheduling may give the governing party satisfaction for oneupsmanship, but does little to promote interest and satisfaction in actually promoting good governance among the engaged citizens.  Perhaps it is one of many areas of making our short Legislative sessions more efficient that could be explored if the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal were allowed to continue its mandate.

Today:  PEI Legislature, 10AM-1PM, Coles Building, in person or on-line.
The Tories had a good Question Period Thursday afternoon.
Transcript for Thursday's Question Period link 
They were on their game with interesting questions,with  and listening to answers.  The Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell and the Premier were facing the questions on The Water Act, the Municipal Governance Act, and the Lands Protection Act, and related decisions.   James Aylward has a proposal for an equal-party seats special committee for working on the Water Act regulations.  Brad Trivers brought up Progressive Conservative environmental champions of the past, including former Premier J. Angus MacLean, prompting one social media contributor to think of a way of viewing decisions to be make:  WWAD (What Would Angus Do?).

Steven Myers had a petition from people who are in unincorporated areas in his region feeling completely left out of the amalgamation decisions at the critical times. 
The Tories are summarizing Question Period from their point of view on Facebook, either Myers' page or the PC Party.

Yasmin Rasyid is founder and president of EcoKnights, and the former chair of Malaysian Environmental NGO  group MENGO.  He writes the December 1st Global Chorus.

        We already have the basic know-how and the technology to address current global environmental and social crises. We have so many amazing technological advancements but we use them more for selfish and self-destructing reasons. What is missing is the political will and the pressure from all parts of civil society to ensure proper governance and enforcement on the ground. Today we seem to be having too many meetings, talking too much, with minimal actions on the ground. This has got to change. We need more people to walk the talk. Technocracy is getting in the way of any efforts to work on building a sustainable planet.
        Many of us have hope, but that’s not enough. Hope needs to be translated into real, tangible actions on the ground, and many of us are still not changing ourselves for the better – be it in the way we live sustainably or the way we utilize resources. Sitting around and hoping doesn’t do justice to the environment; we need to rise to the occasion, even if it’s something small like working with your neighbours to solve trash issues, or educating children about sustainable living in schools, or even starting with changing the way you manage your home. I believe if we can all collectively pick one thing we can change for the better today, we can make more visible differences to the planet.
        Every day, the human race hopes for something, but hoping does not help solve any problems around us. Doing something will change more parameters.
        — Yasmin Rasyid