CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

December 2019


  1. 1 December 31, 2019
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 1.2 Analysis: Some reasons for (cautious) optimism on the climate change front in 2020 - CBC News online article by Aaron Wherry
  2. 2 December 30, 2019
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  3. 3 December 29, 2019
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 3.2 The Guardian selects cycling advocate Josh Underhay as P.E.I.'s 2019 Newsmaker of the Year - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
    3. 3.3 Spirit of collaboration in P.E.I. politics is The Guardian’s news story of the year for 2019 - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby
  4. 4 December 28, 2019
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  5. 5 From the Council of Canadians:
  6. 6 December 27, 2019
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  7. 7 December 26, 2019
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  8. 8 December 25, 2019
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  9. 9 December 24, 2019
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 9.2 The Ties That Bind - South Shore Breaker article by Russell Wangersky
  10. 10 December 23, 2019
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 10.2 Woman of the Year 2019: Autumn Peltier - Chatelaine magazine article by Radiyah Chowdhury
  11. 11 December 22, 2019
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  12. 12 December 21, 2019
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 12.2 P.E.I. NDP needs to 'be better at the politics of it,' says leader - CBC News article by Wayne Thibodeau
  13. 13 December 20, 2019
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 13.2 The Ford Fallout: “I’m dreading the day my grandchildren look at me and ask, ‘Why did you let this happen to us?’” - Toronto Life article by staff at the publication Toronto Life
  14. 14 December 19, 2019
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 14.2 More time for Islanders to comment on environmental assessment for project in Eastern Kings - PEI Government website posting
  15. 15 December 18, 2019
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 15.2 Northern Pulp to consider its 'future' as N.S. calls for more work on effluent plan - CBC News online article by Michael Gorman
  16. 16 December 17, 2019
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 16.2 Ottawa won't do impact assessment on Northern Pulp effluent treatment plan - CBC News online article by Michael Gorman
  17. 17 December 16, 2019
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 17.2 Why seed saving is so important! - Waterloo Community Garden Council website article
  18. 18 December 14, 2019
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 18.2 OPINION: Court case could impact universal health care - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Mary Boyd
  19. 19 December 13, 2019
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 19.2 Opinion: Energy efficiency a key pillar of CleanBC, and it enables climate action in other areas. But it doesn’t get much love - The Vancouver Sun article by James Glave and Brendan Haley
  20. 20 December 12, 2019
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 20.2 Can Tories restore trust in education? - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
  21. 21 December 11, 2019
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  22. 22 December 10, 2019
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 22.2 To our new Parliamentarians: Don’t be a**holes - Maclean's article by Scott Gilmore
  23. 23 December 9, 2019
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 23.2 We must not be deflected, diverted or distracted from climate change fight - The London Free Press article by Gwynne Dyer
  24. 24 December 8, 2019
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 24.2 Post Fall Legislative Sitting Update - social media posting by Ole Hammarlund
  25. 25 December 7, 2019
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 25.2 Why We Strike Again - Project Syndicate commentary by Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer, and Angela Valenzuela
  26. 26 December 6, 2019
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 26.2 Throne speech promises tax cut, climate action and ban on military-style firearms - CBC News article by John Paul Tasker
    3. 26.3 Enough About The Middle Class - Hope Canada article by Normal Russell
    4. 26.4 OPINION: Put electoral reform back on the table - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan Bobar
  27. 27 December 5, 2019
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 27.2 LETTER: A safer cycling environment needed - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  28. 28 December 4, 2019
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 28.2 Farmers market awaits talks between feds, Mi'kmaq over Crown land - CBC News online article by Sally Pitt
  29. 29 December 3, 2019
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 29.2 Throne Speech to prioritize climate jobs - by Dylan Penner, Climate and Social Justice Campaigner, The Council of Canadians
  30. 30 December 2, 2019
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 30.2 Pointless emails: they’re not just irritating – they have a massive carbon footprint - The Guardian (UK) website article by Stephen Moss
  31. 31 December 1, 2019
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 31.2 Byrne Calls for Action on Missing E-Gaming Records - NDPPEI release by Joe Byrne
    3. 31.3 NDP Supports Petition and Consultation on ATVs on Public Roads - NDPPEI release by Joe Byrne

December 31, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

A few odds and ends:

Levees and New Year's Day, tomorrow, January 1st, 2020:
from Peter Rukavina, with thanks:

2020 Charlottetown Levee Schedule

This is the 2020 levee schedule for New Year’s Day, January 1, 2020 for Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island.

This is the 15th year I’ve been collating and confirming this information. If you’re new to all of this and want to give it a try, read How to Levee and The Rural Levee Loop Awards 2018.

All levees listed below have been confirmed with organizers. If you have additional levees to add, or changes to the information below, please drop me a line.

With the predicted inclement weather on New Year’s Day, some levees may be cancelled; when this happens they get marked in red on the schedule (NOTE: go to Peter's website for those updates)

Show levees that are ages 19+ Show only Charlottetown-area levees

Credit to the Source: "Schedule data from under a Creative Commons Attribution, NonCommercial, ShareAlike License. "

Here is an attempt to copy and paste the list, just to give you an idea of the scope of levees -- please see the actual table at:






All Ages

Timothy’s World Coffee

Timothy’s World Coffee
154 Great George Street, Charlottetown, PE

8:00 AM

10:00 AM



The Guild

The Guild
111 Queen Street, Charlottetown, PE

9:00 AM

10:30 AM



Upstreet Craft Brewing

Upstreet Craft Brewing
41 Allen St, Charlottetown, PE

10:00 AM

11:00 AM



Lieutenant Governor

Government House
1 Terry Fox Drive, Charlottetown, PE

10:00 AM

11:30 AM



Mayor of Charlottetown

Charlottetown City Hall
199 Queen St, Charlottetown, PE

10:30 AM

12:00 PM



CrossFit 782

Crossfit 782
570 North River Rd, Charlottetown, PE

11:00 AM

1:00 PM



HMCS Queen Charlotte

HMCS Queen Charlotte
210 Water Street, Charlottetown, PE

11:00 AM

1:00 PM



The Haviland Club

The Haviland Club
2 Haviland St, Charlottetown, PE

11:00 AM

4:00 PM



Copper Bottom Brewing

Copper Bottom Brewing
567 Main Street, Montague, PE

11:00 AM

6:00 PM



Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club

Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club
110 Water Street, Summerside, PE

11:00 AM

6:00 PM



University of PEI

School of Sustainable Design Engineering
550 University Ave., Charlottetown, PE

11:30 AM

1:00 PM



Prince Edward Island Regiment

Queen Charlotte Armoury
3 Haviland Street, Charlottetown, PE

12:00 PM

1:00 PM



Mayor of Kensington

Family and Friends Restaurant
45 Broadway St N, Kensington, PE

12:00 PM

1:30 PM



Town of Stratford

Stratford Town Centre
234 Shakespeare Dr., Stratford, PE

12:00 PM

1:30 PM



PEI Brewing Company

PEI Brewing Company
96 Kensington Road, Charlottetown, PE

12:00 PM

2:00 PM



Royal Canadian Legion — O’Leary

O’Leary Legion
69 Ellis Ave., O’Leary, PE

12:00 PM

7:00 PM



Seniors Active Living Centre

Bell Aliant Centre
550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, PE

12:30 PM

2:00 PM



Andrews of Stratford

Andrews of Stratford
355 Shakespeare Drive, Stratford, PE

1:00 PM

2:20 PM



St. John’s Lodge No. 1 and Victoria Lodge No. 2

Masonic Temple
204 Hillsborough St., Charlottetown, PE

1:00 PM

2:30 PM



Town of Souris

Eastern Kings Sportsplex
203 Main Street, Souris, PE

1:00 PM

3:00 PM



Town of Three Rivers

Kaylee Hall
2316 Rte 3, Roseneath, PE

1:00 PM

3:00 PM



Village of Morell, Morell Lions Club, Northside Communities Initiative

Morell Community Rink
59 Queen Elizabeth, Morell, PE

1:00 PM

3:00 PM



Town of O’Leary

Maple Leaf Curling Club
426 Main Street, O’Leary, PE

1:00 PM

4:00 PM



Royal Canadian Legion — Tignish & Town of Tignish

Tignish Legion
221 Phillip Street, Tignish, PE

1:00 PM

5:00 PM



Royal Canadian Legion — Wellington

Wellington Legion
97 Sunset Dr, Wellington, PE

1:00 PM

5:00 PM



Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlottetown

SDU Place – Old Bishop’s Palace
45 Great George Street, Charlottetown, PE

1:30 PM

2:30 PM



City of Summerside

City Hall
275 Fitzroy Street, Summerside, PE

1:30 PM

3:00 PM



Town of Cornwall

Cornwall Town Hall
39 Lowther Drive, Cornwall, PE

1:30 PM

3:00 PM



Royal Canadian Legion — Summerside

Summerside Legion
340 Notre Dame St., Summerside, PE

1:30 PM

5:00 PM



Garden Nursing Home

Garden Home
310 North River Road, Charlottetown, PE

2:00 PM

3:00 PM



Royal Canadian Legion — Charlottetown

Charlottetown Legion
99 Pownal Street, Charlottetown, PE

2:00 PM

3:30 PM



PEI Billiard Association

157 Kent St., Charlottetown, PE

2:00 PM

4:00 PM



Town of Borden-Carleton

Town Office
20 Dickie Rd., Borden-Carleton

2:00 PM

4:00 PM



Royal Canadian Legion — Miscouche

Miscouche Legion
94 Main Drive, Miscouche, PE

2:00 PM

6:00 PM



The Kitchen Witch

The Kitchen Witch
949 Long River Road, Long River, PE

2:30 PM

4:30 PM



Premier Dennis King

Confederation Centre of the Arts
145 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE

3:00 PM

4:30 PM



Benevolent Irish Society

Hon. Edward Whelan Irish Cultural Centre
582 North River Road, Charlottetown, PE

3:00 PM

5:00 PM



Royal Canadian Legion — Ellerslie

Ellerslie Legion
1136 Ellerslie Road, Ellerslie, PE

3:00 PM

7:00 PM



Charlottetown Curling Club

Charlottetown Curling Complex
241 Euston St, Charlottetown, PE

4:00 PM

6:00 PM



Murphy’s Community Centre & The Alley

Murphy’s Community Centre
200 Richmond Street, Charlottetown, PE

4:00 PM

6:00 PM



Sport Page Club

Sport Page Club
236 Kent St, Charlottetown, PE

4:00 PM

6:00 PM



Olde Dublin Pub

Olde Dublin Pub
131 Sydney St., Charlottetown, PE

5:00 PM

8:00 PM



200 Wing Royal Canadian Air Force Association

The Wing
329 North Market Street, Summerside, PE

6:00 PM

10:00 PM



Charlottetown Firefighters Club

Charlottetown Fire Department
89 Kent Street, Charlottetown, PE

6:00 PM

12:00 AM



from the dedicated Pauline Howard of the PEI Food Exchange:

The Charlottetown Farmers' Market Co-operative has been an important community hub for a very long time.

In the growing season the market farmers donate their unsold produce to the FX and it is distributed to people who might not otherwise be able to afford fresh produce. This initiative has been in place since 2013 and is well supported by the venders and management.

Why not make your New Year Resolution be to support your local food producers in 2020.

Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough have finally come face-to-face in a hotly anticipated first ‘meeting’. In an interview over Skype filmed by the BBC, the Swedish teenager, 16, thanked the broadcaster, 93, for ‘opening her eyes’ with his documentaries about the natural world. The Planet Earth presenter was just as complimentary, hailing the schoolgirl for ‘achieving things that many of us who have been working on it for 20-odd years have failed to achieve’. However, he warned that the powerful impact of her activism is unlikely to be sustained, saying new elements would need to be introduced in order to continue her message. Greta, who was guest editor of the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, told Sir David: ‘Thank you for that because that was what made me decide to do something about it.’ He described the Nobel Peace Prize nominee’s impact as ‘astonishing’, telling her: ‘You have made it an argument that people have not been able to dodge. ‘We don’t want to spend our time marching through the streets but we have to, and you’ve shown very great bravery in doing that.

Read more:
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Analysis: Some reasons for (cautious) optimism on the climate change front in 2020 - CBC News online article by Aaron Wherry

Published on Monday, December 30th, 2019

2019 was the year that climate policy took a decisive turn in Canadian politics

The second decade of the 21st century was not comforting.

The celebration of the so-called "end of history" turned out to be premature. Liberal democracy proved to be less than inevitable and progress could no longer by taken for granted. Populism, nationalism and authoritarianism reared their heads. New media fed our worst impulses.

The scales fell and all that remains unreconciled became clear. The stakes in our politics were thrown into stark relief. There was unrest in the streets and the planet was, quite literally, aflame.

It also may have been a good decade for climate policy in Canada.

This country wasn't immune to the political forces that came to the fore over the last 10 years. Our most important trading partner and closest ally is in the throes of a political and social crisis. And our own politics experienced dramatic shifts — from the Conservative majority in 2011 to the Liberal majority in 2015 — that may reverberate for years to come.

Stephen Harper created a durable political party that is firmly planted on the political right. Justin Trudeau is now leading the most activist federal government since Lester B. Pearson. The fates of their respective projects will define the pursuit of power in Canada for the foreseeable future.

The increasingly unavoidable realities of climate change will shape whatever comes in the next decade. But the work of the next ten years will benefit from significant progress made in the last ten.

It's not easy to feel good about anything related to climate change. The latest international conference ended without significant progress. Average temperatures continue to rise. The world's largest emitters still aren't doing enough. And after decades of failing to confront the problem, the impacts are no longer theoretical. The need for action is now urgent.

The provinces step up

But the last decade in Canada did see significant action. British Columbia's carbon tax, introduced in 2008, survived an election in 2009 and a change of government in 2017. The province's New Democrats, once opposed to the policy, became the first government to increase the levy in six years when they raised it to $35 per tonne in 2018.

In 2014, Ontario completed the phase-out of its coal-fired power plants — a change that is believed to have resulted in the single largest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in North America. That same year, Quebec joined its cap-and-trade system with California's, creating the largest carbon market on the continent.

Climate policy in Alberta has lurched markedly from Rachel Notley's NDP government to Jason Kenney's United Conservative government, but at least two important elements remain: a planned phase-out of coal and a carbon levy for large industries. Meanwhile, in the wake of this fall's federal election, New Brunswick ended its opposition and agreed to implement a carbon tax on fuel.

Between 2010 and 2020, emissions in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are projected to decline. They're expected to hold steady in British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba.

Boosted by a combination of incentives in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, 43,655 zero-emission vehicles were registered in Canada in 2018 — an impressive increase over the 518 such vehicles that hit the road in 2011.

In 2009, wind and solar accounted for 1.2 per cent of the electricity generated in Canada, while coal and oil made up 13 per cent. In 2020, wind and solar are projected to account for 5.5 per cent, while coal and gas are down to 7.6 per cent. Hydro, wave and tidal energy are expected to account for 61.4 per cent of electricity generation.

Federally, Stephen Harper's Conservatives were reluctant to act aggressively, but they were at least willing to match the fuel-efficiency standards implemented by Barack Obama's administration in the United States. The pace of federal action has picked up markedly since 2015 — a federal carbon price, new regulations on methane emissions, billions of dollars in public funds committed to clean technology and "green infrastructure" and plans for a new clean fuel standard.

In 2011, the Government of Canada's official projection showed national emissions rising through the decade, reaching 785 megatonnes in 2020. The projection published in 2018 shows Canada's emissions reaching 704 Mt in 2020 — and then declining to 616 Mt by 2030.

However belated, it's a move in the right direction.

It's also not nearly enough.

The new politics of carbon

Even once you take into account carbon credits for land-use changes, Canada's emissions were still projected to be 592 Mt in 2030, 77 Mt short of our target. And the goal for 2050 is now net-zero.

That is a daunting task. It remains to be seen whether our leaders have the will, the skill and the courage to get us there. And Canada's efforts, however far they go, address just one part of a global problem.

But it's also possible that — in Canada, at least — the politics of carbon have changed.

A decade ago, Stéphane Dion's proposal to implement a carbon tax was like a political albatross hanging around the thin shoulders of the Liberal leader. In 2019, 63 per cent of voters — more than 11 million Canadians — cast a ballot for a party that supported a price on carbon.

The subject was front and centre in the throne speech that opened Parliament last month. That was no accident. Both the Liberal minority government's survival in the House of Commons and its hopes of improving its standing in the next election seem to depend on reaching out to the parties and voters who want to do something about climate change.

The hard work is still ahead

True national consensus — broad agreement on the goals of climate policy and the need for action, if not quite the precise details — may depend on where the Conservative Party goes in its upcoming leadership race. The federal carbon price is still being challenged in court by a number of provinces. And it remains to be seen whether public opinion about climate change can withstand an economic downturn, or any of the other unforeseen events that can shift opinion and political power.

The emissions that still have to be cut will not go away easily. Buildings need to be retrofitted. While electric cars are no longer boutique oddities, they're still vastly outnumbered by gas-powered pick-up trucks and SUVs.

Great change must be managed. And if the election of 2019 seemed to reveal a burgeoning coalition of voters who want action on climate change, it also clarified the challenges and the potential fissures that the transition to a low-carbon world could open up.

Between 2010 and 2020, Alberta's emissions are projected to increase from 239 Mt to 277 Mt. Every corner of the country reaped the benefits of the resource development driving those emissions. Reducing them will require a national effort.

There is more work ahead for this country's political leaders than there is behind them. Arguably, the work still to be done will be harder. But it's also possible that the impacts of climate change — the fires and floods — will continue to be too much for most voters to ignore.

One way or another, climate change will form the backdrop to everything else that happens in politics over the next decade: populism, nationalism, economic inequality, mass migration, geopolitical power struggles, fears for the future of Western democratic institutions. And all of those forces threaten to make it even harder to act to reduce emissions.

The second decade of the 21st century ends with a feeling of precariousness. And the next ten years promise to be neither easy nor relaxing.

The last decade proved that progress is not inevitable. But it also showed that progress is possible.


Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough have finally come face-to-face in a hotly anticipated first ‘meeting’. In an interview over Skype filmed by the BBC, the Swedish teenager, 16, thanked the broadcaster, 93, for ‘opening her eyes’ with his documentaries about the natural world. The Planet Earth presenter was just as complimentary, hailing the schoolgirl for ‘achieving things that many of us who have been working on it for 20-odd years have failed to achieve’. However, he warned that the powerful impact of her activism is unlikely to be sustained, saying new elements would need to be introduced in order to continue her message. Greta, who was guest editor of the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, told Sir David: ‘Thank you for that because that was what made me decide to do something about it.’ He described the Nobel Peace Prize nominee’s impact as ‘astonishing’, telling her: ‘You have made it an argument that people have not been able to dodge. ‘We don’t want to spend our time marching through the streets but we have to, and you’ve shown very great bravery in doing that.

Read more:
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Why do I put
at the end of articles shared?
Thirty has the definition of being the end, and it's something I learned in high school journalism a million billion years ago, to define the completion or end of copy or text, to show the reader this was the actual end to the story copied. In this newsletter, I use it to signal this is the end of the actual article before I add any comments or additional information, or move on to the next item.
"For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice."
--- T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

December 30, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Democracy and the state of it in Canada came up several times on the CBC Radio Saturday morning current affairs programming.

Chris Hall on "The House", at the end of the annual news quiz, asked the journalists participating what they thought the big topic for 2020 would be. One said the Climate Crisis, and one said if there was a Recession, all efforts on Climate would be out the window (which is unsettling and sounds like something that we average citizens should be ready to address). The host, Chris Hall, said he thought electoral reform would be back, kind of a sleeper issue.

This part is at the very end of the podcast

Democratic renewal looks like something "The House" is going to revisit in 2020 (even discussing it a bit on next week's show, which is already on the website, which I will talk about tomorrow, if all that isn't confusing enough).

Also, on Saturday, December 28th, Brent Bambury on "Day 6" replayed some previous interviews from this link:

on this topic:
"Democracy Divided: Why Canadians are fed up with politics as usual, and what can be done about it

In 2019, citizens all over the world expressed sharp ambivalence about the democratic process and who benefits from it. Democracy Divided is a Day 6 deep dive into the state of Canadian democracy, what's causing the problems and what's to be done about it.

You can, from the link above, download the podcast:
"Download Democracy Divided: Why Canadians are fed up with politics as usual, and what can be done about it"
[mp3 file: runs 00:54:12]

The first interview is with Michael Marden from the Samara Centre for Democracy, the second person from ECKOS Research, and the third is with Dave Meslin, Toronto and area community organizer, about tearing down and retaking Democracy. Many, many points made.

There were more guest and discussion, but that was all the chance I had to listen so far. It's fair to say that both provincially and federally, we need to keep the conversation going on electoral reform.
"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect."
--- Chief Seattle (1786-1866)

December 29, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Survey Deadline, Health PEI for strategic planning for the next few years. More details at:

Wednesday, January 1st, 2020:
New Year's Levee planning: Peter Rukavina's Schedule:

Thursday, January 2nd:
PEI Coalition for Women in Government New Year's Levee, 4-6PM, St. Peter's Cathedral Hall (11 All Souls' Lane, Charlottetown). "...celebrate a new year of opportunity for advancing women's leadership in PEI. Please note this is a family-friendly event."

Here are the two Guardian year-end special selections for 2019, with the list of previously named Newsmakers and News Stories listed at the end of this newsletter.

Newsmaker of the Year

The Guardian selects cycling advocate Josh Underhay as P.E.I.'s 2019 Newsmaker of the Year - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Published on Friday, December 27th, 2019

Peter Bevan-Baker says he’s still trying to come to terms with the pain of losing his dear friend, Josh Underhay, earlier this year.

The Green party leader said this week he thought time would help a bit when it came to healing the wound but he was reminded recently just how present it still is.

“Every year in Bonshaw there is a Christmas concert in the community hall and, for as long as I can remember, Josh and I used to play a trumpet duet as part of that Christmas concert,’’ Bevan-Baker said. “So, I went to the concert (recently), consciously aware that I would not be doing it this year but it was just a heavy emotional event for me.

“That hole of Josh not being around was just as poignant and present as it was in the days after I found out that he had died.’’

Underhay and his young son, Oliver, died in a tragic canoeing accident in April in the Hillsborough River. Bevan-Baker said the youngster’s death makes the loss that much harder to deal with. “The loss was more than (Josh). I can’t ever forget that when I speak to Josh’s family,’’ he said, referring to Oliver.

At the time of the accident, Josh was a teacher at Birchwood Intermediate School and a Green party candidate in the provincial election campaign. Josh was also well-known for being a passionate advocate for cycling in Charlottetown.

His life – and death – touched many people and led to The Guardian’s editorial board selecting Josh Underhay as the 2019 Newsmaker of the Year.

"The story of Josh and Oliver Underhay's fatal accident shocked the province and made headlines across the country," said Jocelyne Lloyd, interim managing editor of The Guardian. "Their deaths are a personal tragedy for their family, but also dealt a blow to Islanders who knew Josh Underhay or held hope for the sustainable planet he stood for. We now know that hope lives on in everyone who has taken this terrible tragedy and turned it into a force for good in the world."

Even though Underhay was a candidate in the provincial election campaign Bevan-Baker said their friendship began long before either one of them was in politics.

“Josh and I knew each other through music, through community activism (and) through other things. (His) death was one of the hardest things for me, personally, in the midst of the election, and when Josh died and all of the things that were going on simultaneously, I never felt on a personal level that I had time or space to grieve the loss of a friend, which is really what it is all about.

“I lost a close friend and somebody who I loved and respected very deeply. It’s still heavy and I miss him. I miss him in all kinds of ways. I miss his energy. I miss his enthusiasm for life. I miss the purity of his spirit; just a tragic loss in all kinds of ways.’’

However, Bevan-Baker does take a brief moment to turn his thoughts to politics and think ‘what could have been’.

“I often sit in our (Opposition) office and wonder how different it would be if that energy and enthusiasm and zest for life were present in the office of the official Opposition.’’

To that end, Bevan-Baker has a framed quote from Josh that hangs in the opposition office, which reads:

“If I am elected, I will dedicate myself to serving Islanders. I will listen, I will follow the evidence, and balance the freedom of the individual with the need to work as a community and care for one another. I will work for a diverse and tolerant society that respects the dignity of the person and the rights of everyone.’’

Bevan-Baker said it’s something he looks at every day.

“So, his presence is here and, I suppose, that’s one way there is a little bit of solace here. The ideals he stood for and the priorities were his. We are, as best we can, within the political environment here, carrying them forward and trying to bring them to fruition.’’

The Guardian attempted to contact the Underhay family, but no one could be reached for comment.

However, in an interview the newspaper did with Mitch Underhay, Josh’s brother, and Karri Shea, his wife, in October, they talked about their determination that Josh’s legacy live on and that he and Oliver never be forgotten.

Karri and Mitch launched an initiative called Bike Friendly Charlottetown on Oct. 28 with a meet-and-greet at the Haviland Club, to ensure that his advocacy for cycling moves forward.

“Now that he is not able to continue that (advocacy role) . . . Mitch and I have been working to start to get organized with a few other community members,’’ Shea said. “We want to see more bike lanes in Charlottetown and there is no nexus point for that very specific kind of advocacy,’’ Mitch added.

Mitch said Bike Friendly Charlottetown is an independent, non-partisan group with an objective towards getting more people cycling and create interconnected cycling lanes. This group, he said, is meant to be a voice for people who aren’t avid cyclists, people who don’t feel comfortable riding next to traffic. While his brother cycled everywhere in all kinds of weather, Mitch said others aren’t so bold.

Shea said she’s an example of who the group will advocate for, “one of the less avid cyclists who’s interested in cycling but I have a young child (Linden) and I don’t feel comfortable taking him into busy streets with traffic so that stops me from cycling completely. We believe, and Josh believed, that if you could connect these places, more people would start cycling.’’

Josh did speak out in favour of the once-proposed Fitzroy Street bike lane, which would have split the street in half with one lane for traffic and one for cyclists, but council ultimately dropped the idea.

The city, meanwhile, does have a map of what it calls quieter streets that cyclists can use, for example, to connect to Victoria Park and the downtown from the Confederation Trail. And, this fall council approved a project that will see a dedicated pathway for cyclists and pedestrians between the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and St. Peters Road.

So, progress continues to be made and Karri and Mitch vow to ensure it keeps being made.



News Story of the Year

Spirit of collaboration in P.E.I. politics is The Guardian’s news story of the year for 2019 - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby

Published on Saturday, December 28th, 2019

Last January, Dennis King, then a Progressive Conservative leadership candidate, stood in front of hundreds of party faithful and made the pitch that would come to serve as his personal brand.

It was the final debate of the PC leadership contest. King was vying to become the leader of the party. It had been a bruising contest, with King taking criticism from all four other candidates for being too close to party insiders.

But that night, a speech from King drew the heartiest applause from the crowd.

The Tories, he argued, needed to focus on something other than heaping mud on the Wade MacLauchlan-led Liberals.

"I want to change the style of our politics because people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of their politicians,” King said. “Let's stand up and give them something. Let's stand for something instead of fighting everything."

It was a message that would stay consistent during King’s election campaign in April, a campaign that saw the PCs capture enough seats to form a minority government, the first to hold a legislative session in P.E.I.'s history.

The idea has come to be encapsulated by the word collaboration.

King’s experiment in reaching across the aisle has produced a sea change in P.E.I. politics. As such, the spirit of collaboration has been chosen as the news story of the year by The Guardian’s editorial staff.

"Election campaigns can be notoriously dirty affairs with mud-slinging an all-too common tactic," said Jocelyne Lloyd, interim managing editor of The Guardian. "In the P.E.I. provincial election, Dennis King praised other parties' work and ideas, promised to work with them and gave Islanders a preview of the collegiality that carried through as the Progressive Conservatives formed government. That spirit of collaboration has gained the notice of politics watchers across the country."

Frustrations about partisanship predated King’s entry into the political arena. The growth of the Green party, under the leadership of Peter Bevan-Baker, provided a popular choice for Islanders wary of the back-and-forth between the traditional red and blue.

In a year-end interview, King said he knew prior to entering the PC leadership race that Islanders were hungry for something different.

“There was an opportunity for us here to put people at the centre of the decisions and to not just focus on 'because you're running for Green, that means you're my enemy, or Red or Blue,'” King said. "Islanders seem to be very, very tickled with it.”

In concrete terms, collaboration can be broken down to a handful of changes to the mechanics of the legislature. First, standing committees have been amended to include equal representation from all three major parties, ending the practice of control over committees by the governing party. Although these committees have yet to issue comprehensive policy recommendations, this has set the stage for them be highly influential on government decisions.

Second, the role of government house leaders – Sidney MacEwen from the PCs, Hannah Bell from the Greens and Heath MacDonald from the Liberals – has become crucial. The three workhorses have overseen careful negotiations over confidence motions such as December’s capital budget, as well as daily exchanges of information over government and Opposition bills. Opposition parties have received briefings, often involving departmental staff, on government bills long before they are introduced.

Finally, the style of P.E.I. politics has changed due in no small part to a non-binding motion introduced in the spring calling for a ban on heckling.

Interim Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant says the clamp-down on heckling has been an improvement. “I always thought it could have been a little more civil in there. And it is good to see,” Gallant said. “I don't think some of the people appreciated some of the heckling that was going on in there."

Gallant, however, has been critical of some aspects of collaboration. In an editorial printed in The Guardian on Dec. 12, he called for more involvement of the public in decision-making. He also said debate was shortened on legislation, such as changes to the province’s Adoption Act.

Bevan-Baker said his caucus has worked closely with government on crafting legislation, often making significant alterations to bills behind the scenes. But the Opposition has also been working to hold the government to account, asking pointed questions in the legislature.

"I think we've done that pretty consistently. I know it's been lost in all of the hugging and the praise," Bevan-Baker said.

MacEwen said the information sharing between parties has changed the culture of “one-upmanship” previously seen in the Coles building.

“Some people would try to embarrass the government, and the government would try to hide everything," MacEwen said. "Now when you've got a government and Opposition that both want what's best for Islanders, you actually get the good work done."

MacEwen acknowledged concerns have been raised about transparency of negotiations between house leaders. The three have repeatedly declined to make public documentation of each party’s positions during negotiations over confidence motions, such as budgets. These documents are outside of the scope of Freedom of Information requests.

MacEwen also said both Opposition parties have been asking tough questions and holding government accountable.

He believes the "get-it-done" spirit of all parties toward legislation may be helping to chip away at political cynicism.

“I feel like, for years, there was starting to be a very negative perception of politicians,” MacEwen said. “Hopefully we can continue this trend so that it's an admirable calling and people want to get involved."


"In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit."
-- Anne Frank (1929-1945)


from The Guardian:

Past Newsmakers of the Year:

  • 2018 – Mark Arendz
  • 2017 – Hannah Bell
  • 2016 – Screencutter
  • 2015 – Mike Duffy
  • 2014 – The ‘year’ 2014 (150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference)
  • 2013 – Senator Mike Duffy
  • 2012 – The Impaired Driver
  • 2011 – Royal visit by Prince William and Kate
  • 2010 – Heather Moyse (Olympic gold medal)
  • 2009 – Baby Lillian
  • 2008 – Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • 2007 – Premier Robert Ghiz
  • 2006 – Premier Pat Binns
  • 2005 – Jared Connaughton and Mark MacDonald, tie
  • 2004 – Brad Richards
  • 2003 – Robert Ghiz
  • 2002 – Lucille Poulin
  • 2001 – Blair Ross, workers’ compensation protest
  • 2000 – Lorie Kane
  • 1999 – Lorie Kane
  • 1998 – Summerside police officer David Griffin
  • 1997 – Confederation Bridge
  • 1996 – Charlottetown Mayor Ian (Tex) MacDonald
  • 1995 – Bombing P.E.I. legislature*
  • 1994 – Provincial government’s 7 ½ per cent public sector wage rollback*
  • 1993 – Premier Catherine Callbeck*

*Editor’s note: In 1993, 1994 and 1995, The Guardian only selected a Newsmaker of the Year. In 1996, to comply with The Canadian Press selection method, The Guardian began selecting both a Newsmaker of the Year and a News Story of the Year.


Previous News Stories of the Year

  • 2018: Tignish and Beach Point fishing tragedies
  • 2017: P.E.I. school closures
  • 2016: P.E.I.'s decision to extend abortion services 
  • 2015: Record-breaking winter
  • 2014: Robert Ghiz surprise resignation
  • 2013: Murder/suicide of mother and child
  • 2012: Tory turmoil (a year of controversy for Olive Crane and P.E.I. PC Party) 
  • 2011: Shooting deaths in Alberta
  • 2010: Visit to P.E.I. by Live! With Regis and Kelly
  • 2009: Upheaval in education
  • 2008: Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) controversy
  • 2007: Crisis in agriculture
  • 2006: Islanders head West
  • 2005: Gas price shocker
  • 2004: Collapse of fishery processor Polar Foods
  • 2003: Hurricane Juan
  • 2002: Lawrence MacAulay resignation from federal cabinet
  • 2001: Sept. 11 and its impact on Prince Edward Island
  • 2000: Prime Minister gets pie in face
  • 1999: Tracadie Cross hearse accident
  • 1998: David (Eli) MacEachern winning Olympic gold medal
  • 1997: Opening of Confederation Bridge
  • 1996: Raising of Irving Whale oil barge
  • 1995: Bombing of P.E.I. legislature
  • 1994: 7 1/2 per cent public sector wage rollback
  • 1993: Catherine Callbeck

Editor's note: For the years 1993, 1994 and 1995, The Guardian only selected a Newsmaker of the Year. In 1996, to comply with The Canadian Press selection method, The Guardianbegan selecting both a Newsmaker of the Year (usually a person) and a News Story of the Year (usually an event or series of events).

December 28, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets open
Summerside 9AM-1PM
Charlottetown 9AM-2PM

and a good time to replenish healthy, local food, and get foods for New Year's Eve or day next week.

Sing-Along Messiah, 3PM, St. James Presbyterian Church, admission by donation. Join the Confederation Singers and be encouraged to belt out the Messiah by Handel, with proceeds going to the 2020 Toronto trip for the Confederation Centre's Youth Chorus.

Tomorrow, Sunday, December 29th: Second Annual 4 Love 4 Care Fundraising event, 6-9PM, APM Centre, Cornwall. Food provided by 4S Catering and performances by local talent, this fundraiser goes towards helping Island families. Tickets and More details at Facebook event link.
Many organizations will be asking for year-end donations at in the next few days, and perhaps mentioning their accomplishments in 2019.

From the Council of Canadians:

(edited for length)
Just some of the highlights of our collective public advocacy work this year include:

  • Challenging head-on the creeping privatization and corporate capture of the commons – that which belongs to the people – including Nestlé’s outrageous bottled water grabs that are sucking up community drinking water sources.
  • Fighting dangerous and regressive government agendas that are gutting social services, denying climate change and vilifying public dissent
  • Creating grassroots solutions to the climate crisis through our Green New Deal for Communities project, which charts the path to create good green jobs to transition our economies off of fossil fuels and build sustainable, caring communities.
  • Protecting water and expanding our Blue Communities Project to dozens of more municipalities across Canada and around the world, including Montreal, Los Angeles and Brussels, which empowers people to reclaim public control over their drinking water, reject bottled water and promote the human right to water and sanitation.
  • Achieving critical improvements to NAFTA, including the removal of the harmful investor-state dispute settlement provision, which allowed corporations to sue Canada if our laws infringed on their profit making, stronger labour and environmental protections, and stronger cultural exemptions for Canadian artist content.
  • Standing in solidarity with Indigenous peoples fighting destructive and polluting energy projects that threaten their land, air and water and violate their rights.
  • Advocating for a national pharmacare program that will save Canada billions in drug costs and ensure people no longer have to choose between buying groceries and filling their life-saving prescriptions.

This is tough work and not for the faint of heart. That’s why all of us here at the Council of Canadians are so gratefully to have you fighting alongside us.
2019 Year in Review video and donation page

"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods."
--- Lord Byron (1788-1824)

December 27, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Event today:
Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Cenotaph at Province House, Grafton Street side. I am not sure if one is definitely organized for today, though.

Planning for next week:
Wednesday, January 1st:
New Year's Levees, various times and locations. Peter Rukavina has once again organized and created a schedule of the 2020 New Year's Day Levees:

Thursday, January 2nd:
PEI Coalition for Women in Government Annual New Year's Levee, 4-6PM, St. Peter's Cathedral Hall (11 All Souls' Lane, Charlottetown). This celebrates "a new year of opportunity for advancing women's leadership in PEI" and is a family-friendly event.
Sunday, December 29th:
Input on Health PEI strategic plan
Islanders are being asked for their input on the 2020-2023 Health PEI Strategic Plan which will help improve healthcare across PEI in response to changing needs.

The Health PEI Strategic Plan identifies the organization’s priorities and will help guide the delivery of health care services and system improvements over the next three years.
The online survey is available at Health PEI Strategic Plan and it and any comments can be sent to until December 29, 2019.

Surveys are also available at Health PEI’s Primary Care Health Centres across PEI until December 29, 2019.
"The strategic plan drives the activities and priorities of Health PEI at all levels. It also provides a basis for public reporting and performance monitoring."

adapted from a government press release, and info here:

From the December 6th Montreal Massacre memorial service, Dawn Wilson's devastating memories of her youth watching spousal abuse.

Dawn is the hardworking executive director of the PEI Coalition for Women in Government.
"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."
--- Alan Watts (1915-1978), British writer

December 26, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Some holiday greetings passed on:

from Premier Dennis King and family:

e-mailed Holidays card
From the United States-based Grist publication, a whimsical/serious list:

All they want for Gristmas

Greta Thunberg - climate action, a new sailboat
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - Green New Deal
Climate scientists - a bone thrown in their general direction
The Amazon - a break
The EPA - a purpose
NOAA - Sharpie ban*
Grist readers - more Grist

There’s at least one wish we have the power to grant. Happy Holidays, Grist reader, and enjoy your Grist.

- The Grist Team

* = referring to Donald Trump and his editing of a NOAA map of Hurricane Dorian's predicted path with a Sharpie marker.
More about the Seattle, Washington-based Grist:

Founded in 1999, Grist is a beacon in the smog — an independent, irreverent news outlet and network of innovators working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.

Climate, sustainability, and social justice are the most important stories on the … well, on the planet right now. The stakes are high: just, you know, our entire frickin’ future. And it’s easy to despair when denial, delay, and doom dominate the headlines.

But that’s not the whole story, and it never will be. At Grist, we find reasons for hope and optimism every day — while also irritating and shaming those who stand in the way of progress. Our independent, nonprofit newsroom pursues in-depth stories on under-covered topics like clean energy, sustainable food, livable cities, environmental justice, and a better economy. We elevate solutions, expose inequity, and give our readers the context, knowledge, and tools to make a difference. <snip>

Our mantra these days: Don’t freak out. Figure it out.


A good site to spend some time if you having a quiet reading time this Boxing Day or in the next few ones.
"How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it."
--- George Elliston (1883-1946), journalist

The Guardian featured some stories of kindness in its Tuesday, Christmas Eve, paper, and I am not sure how kindly they are being about free and subscription-only content, but here is one of their digital page links --apologies if you cannot get it to work:

December 25, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

There is contentment in repeating some of these seasonal essays, and I hope you enjoy them, too. I appreciate all your kind words and good wishes, and send you all the very best for the holidays.
From Nova Scotia poet and musician Tanya Davis:

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
A 2015 CBC interview about the Halifax CBC Food Bank show and about her performance of the poem, here.

Though there isn't a recording of her reading the poem that I can find, Tanya reads her poetry about land and family connections -- very much in spirit with holiday gatherings -- in Mille Clarkes' 25 minute documentary Island Green found, here to watch.
From 2018 also, from Charlottetown resident Keith Kennedy, with his giant heart:

"The day is upon us where most folks say happy this and that. I wish you peace and if you are happy that's great. But mostly I hope you find the peace and the love you need. For this is the greatest gift of all."
--- Keith Kennedy, December 2018

December 24, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The Charlottetown Farmers' Market is open 9AM-2PM.
A Christmas Eve treat, an essay that I am glad to have the chance to share.

The Ties That Bind - South Shore Breaker article by Russell Wangersky

Published on December 26th, 2015,

in his column "Eastern Passages"

For me, it’s clementines first.

The lasting smell of the torn peel on your fingertips, the tart slices, the horn-of-plenty feeling of that old-school wooden slat box stacked high with fruit, that box that you can bust down into kindling as soon as the fruit is gone.

I don’t know about you, but right about now, I’m probably eating something. Washing it down with something else. And that will be Christmas more than anything I know.

I’m not much for the lights and the carols and the cards and, as the years have gone by, for the presents either. Christmas, especially with children pretty much fully-grown, is a smaller thing now. And I always get cranky in the lead-up. I don’t like the way the songs start in the malls in the second week of November — I don’t much like the malls, either. I never have.

But what I do like is that handful of days that really are Christmastime. Like today.

And the foods. Some things are expensive — some things not. Brewis, the soaked hardbread that, in Newfoundland, you soak and then fry up with salt fish or steak. Fishcakes, made with salt cod, the noble rot smell of the fish when you drain it that’s both enticing and off-putting at the same time. Enticing, because you know how good it will taste. Off-putting, because some primal part of your senses says “there’s something slightly off about this” — what you might call the Stilton or blue cheese reflex.

Dark, fresh strong coffee in the morning shadows of some of the shortest nights of the year. Dark chocolate, one bittersweet square at a time. Somewhere, you might be fortunate enough to get to cadge a strip of smoked salmon, salty and oily and rich and so smooth on the tongue. Deep red olives with their sharp-ended pits and almonds, smoked.

I remember that, when I was growing up in Halifax, a family my older brother knew passed on one of their favourite foods. It was simple enough, but also a fascinatingly different flavour. We’d always had pancakes with butter and syrup, or butter and cinnamon sugar. They introduced us to putting dark brown sugar on pancakes, and then squeezing lemon juice over the top. A sweet and sour concoction that you can bring up in your mind at will after you’ve tried it even just once. Flavours that are their own bookmarks.

And ham.

My son once dared me, years ago, to buy a ham in the grocery store. A Christmas ham — a monster ham. A ham so large, the girl at the checkout burst into laughter at the sight of it. I gave ham to everyone that Christmas, and I nipped salty strands of it from the fridge and ate them every time I opened the door. Ham sandwiches with mustard. Fried ham. A stupid extravagance. One I repeat now, on a smaller and more dignified scale, every year.

A big screen television? No chance. No out-of-reach, pay-for-months bills, no need to break the bank on finding just the right present. It’s present enough to be, well, present.

The smell of a real Christmas tree, a hint of wood smoke in cold, clean winter air, a strange cheese or two, the smell wafting up as they warm, ungentle as a locker room.

I hope you can find that simple comfort, and that you have helped others to find it, too.

--Russell Wangersky is TC Media’s Atlantic regional columnist (now Saltwire's)


"The mind, once enlightened, cannot again become dark." 
    --- Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

December 23, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Preparing for the holidays and thinking about the planet, regarding trash...adapted from last year

Some main points:

  • Three R's plus the "pre-R" of Rethink:  Less is better
  • with the big one of REDUCE what you bring in

For stuff you have to deal with:

  • 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 6th, or dropped off at a IWMC when they are open during the month of January, or contact them to make other arrangements
  • CARDBOARD (wavy) (including pizza boxes and now brown paper bags) is to be flattened and bundles and tied up with string or something and set out with Recyclables
  • Recycling Blue Bags --paper  and paper bags can go in paper recycling, and items with recycle symbols 1-5 in the other Blue Bags (though we know recycling has its issues, too)
  • "No Bag is Best", just put the waste and compost in their respective bins, without bags.   Be careful dumping on windy days.

From last year, an extensive article from CBC on sorting tips during the holidays:

And the official 2018 (I don't see a newer one yet) Island Waste Management Corp. flyer on Holiday Sorting:


A different way of giving, from the David Suzuki Foundation:

Want to spread some real joy this holiday season? Give your loved ones virtual gifts that power grassroots climate solutions!

  1. Choose your gifts (at the link below). Select projects close to your heart.
  2. Dedicate your gifts to special people. Send beautiful, personalized e-cards. You can choose the send dates.

Give special gifts AND take action now to protect nature.

David Suzuki Foundation Holiday Gift Catalogue listing
Each year, Chatelaine magazine names certain Women of the Year. Included for 2019 is Clean Water Warrior Autumn Peltier

Woman of the Year 2019: Autumn Peltier - Chatelaine magazine article by Radiyah Chowdhury

Autumn Peltier is a 2019 Chatelaine Woman of the Year for being a clean water warrior.

Published on Friday, November 29th, 2019

Earlier this year, Autumn Peltier, a 15-year-old clean-water activist from the Wikwemikong First Nation in Northern Ontario, was named chief water commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation—a position previously held by her great-aunt Josephine Mandamin, whom she cites as her inspiration. It’s just the latest in a lifetime of activism. In 2015, Peltier attended the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden. The following year, she met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and insisted he do more to bring clean water to all Canadian communities. (According to non-profit organization the Council of Canadians, at any given time, some 100 First Nations are under water advisories.) And earlier this year, she delivered a speech to the Global Landscapes Forum and the United Nations General Assembly, one day after the nation-wide march against inaction on climate change.
“We need to protect the habitants around all waters across the world,” she said during her address. “One day I will be an ancestor, and I want my descendants to know I used my voice so they can have a future.”

"Capitalism is against the things we say we believe in -- democracy, freedom of choice, fairness. It's not about any of those things now. it's about protecting the wealthy and legalizing greed."
-- Michael Moore (b. 1954)

December 22, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

A Carol By the Sea, Victoria-by-the Sea, 4:30-5:30PM, meeting at the Wharf. Gathering to carol through the village.

A Casual Holiday Hootenanny, 8PM-midnight, John Brown's Grill, Richmond Street.Todd MacLean (editor of Global Chorus, among many, many other accomplishments) and Becca Griffin host a fun time to raise money for the Upper Room Soup Kitchen. Admission by donation. Facebook event details
Some Sunday reading, of recent articles, links only:

On the Boat Harbour/Northern Pulp decision, from the Halifax Examiner:
On Spotting "Fake News", from the National Observer:
On horrible corporate decisions, from Global News:
Irving Oil quietly changed climate change policy, scrapping plan to cut carbon emissions
from The National Observer:
Downstream of oilsands, death by cancer comes too often
And I don't know much about this publication (perhaps I should reread the Fake News article), but it seems like a clearinghouse of any fisheries related news:
Most likely Carnival Cruise Lines is responsible for 18+ Right Whale deaths in the past 3 year, at which rate they would soon be extinct.
And some prettiness and wonder, from CNN:
Scientists discovered 71 new species this year. Here are some of their favorites
And more prettiness and wonder from a YouTube video of the Pentatonix five person group singing a kind of solsticey acapella Carol of the Bells:
"It is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed."
--- Vida D. Scudder (1861-1954), educator and activist

December 21, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets
Charlottetown, 9AM-2PM
Summerside, 9AM-1PM

Note that the Sunday Artisan Markets are over for the year, but the Charlottetown Farmers' Market will be open Tuesday, December 24th.

Premier's Free Skate, 1:40-2:40PM, North Star Arena, North Rustico. All welcome.

Songs of the Solstice, 7:30-8:30PM, St. Paul's Anglican Church, Church Street, Charlottetown. Admission $15 at the door.
In praise of the winter solstice, Charlottetown’s Amabilè Singers will celebrate the longest night of the year with an uplifting concert of songs inspired by snow, icicles and mid-winter weather, commencing Saturday, December 21, just hours before the exact moment of the 2019 winter Solstice.
The concert features “When Icicles Hang”, a cycle of settings for choir and small orchestra by John Rutter, with texts from 16th century English literature (including Shakespeare and Campion) based on winter themes. Orchestral parts will be performed on piano by special guest Leo Marchildon who will also play on pieces by renowned Norwegian composer Ola Gjello.
The concert will be rounded out with winter madrigals, a pair of movements from Poulenc’s “Un Soir de Neige”, and a couple of magical winter mood pieces, one by Canadian Don MacDonald. And yes, you can probably bank on a classical carol or two drifting in at the end of the concert.

Winter Solstice:
Sunday, December 22nd, 2019:
, Atlantic Time
Solstice Specifics

"A winter solstice is the moment in time when the Earth's tilt away from the Sun is at its maximum and the Sun's maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest.

A winter solstice occurs twice a year, once in December in the Northern Hemisphere (also called December solstice and Midwinter) and once in June in the Southern Hemisphere (also called June solstice).

In the Northern Hemisphere the day of the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year (the day with the least daylight and the longest night) and occurs every year between December 20 and December 23. The dates given on this page are based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which for practical purposes is equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT, the time the United Kingdom is on during the winter, when it isn't on summer time). While the winter solstice occurs at the same moment in time all over the world, the date and local time differ from place to place depending on the year and a location's time zone. For locations that are ahead of UTC (further east) it may fall on the day after, and for locations that are behind UTC (further west) it may fall on the day before. To find out the exact date and time of the winter solstice 2019 in your area use this seasons calculator.

The winter solstice marks the end of autumn and the beginning of winter in the hemisphere where it occurs and is one of four days (two equinoxes and two solstices) throughout the year on which a new season starts. The other days are the vernal equinox (also called spring equinox, beginning of spring), the summer solstice (beginning of summer) and the autumnal equinox (also called fall equinox, beginning of autumn)."


A bit on Premier McNeil's decision to stick to the legislation regarding Boat Harbour and the Northern Pulp paper plant:
Some City of Charlottetown News from Friday:

"The replacement of the City of Charlottetown Boardwalk, located between the Celtic Monument and Paoli’s Wharf, as well as between the old Prince Edward Home and the Lieutenant Governors house, is now complete.

These sections of the boardwalk are now open to the public after undergoing months of construction, which began in early October. The scope of the work included: removal of the old boardwalk, upgrading the stringers, upgrading the decking to a marine-grade lumber, upgrading the material below some of the benches, and increasing the number of benches.

The boardwalk upgrades cost approximately $200,000 and were included in the 2019/20 operational budget."

NDP PEI Leader Joe Byrne's year end interview with CBC:

P.E.I. NDP needs to 'be better at the politics of it,' says leader - CBC News article by Wayne Thibodeau

'We have to go out and get our message out and make sure that people see us as an alternative'

Published on Wednesday, December 18th, 2019, at the above link. 

The leader of P.E.I.'s NDP says the party needs to do a better job of playing politics. Joe Byrne said he knows Islanders like the party's policies, because many of those ideas are being adopted by other parties. He points to the idea of a medical faculty at UPEI as just one example.

But the party can't seem to connect that to electoral success. "We have to be better at the politics of it," Byrne said in a year-end interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin. "We have to go out and get our message out and make sure that people see us as an alternative to deliver on our own ideas."Both Byrne and the NDP have had a difficult time resonating with Island voters.

In the April 23 provincial election, the NDP placed a distant fourth, receiving only three per cent of the overall votes cast.

Byrne himself placed fourth in District 12, Charlottetown-Victoria Park, receiving 10.7 per cent of the vote. The NDP has only ever elected an MLA to the P.E.I. Legislature once in the province's history. That was when Herb Dickieson won in O'Leary in 1996.

Byrne has also run unsuccessfully in federal elections in 2011, 2015 and 2019. Byrne said he has been asked to run for other political parties, but he's not convinced it would be a good match. He wouldn't say in his year-end interview which parties had asked him to run under their banner.

Growing up in Sept-Iles, Que., Byrne did volunteer for Pierre Trudeau's deputy prime minister, Allan MacEachen. His online bio refers to this teenage Liberal volunteer work as a "temporary affliction."

"I want to see us successful and I want to see our governments be successful. I think it would be more successful if we had a few more NDP voices in there," Byrne said.

Byrne goes to the P.E.I. Legislature almost every day it sits and he plans to continue to be there, even if it is from the sidelines."I need to see the cut and thrust of the debate," he said. And what he sees, he said, he's not impressed with.

Byrne said he'd like to see harder questions from the opposition parties. "Collaboration is not an objective in and of itself, it's supposed to lead to good government," he said. "What I like is we're not seeing the attempts for the gotcha moments, but we do need to see harder questions."

"Quote" for today: Tony Reddin's song, 4 minutes
"Celebrate Our Light" by Tony the Troubadour
"Driving away the darkness with the power of our light."

December 20, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Today is the last day this year for getting an Early Bird pass for the P.E.I. National Park, 8:30AM-4:30PM, Ardgowen, 2 Palmers Lane, Charlottetown.

Ask MLA Michelle Beaton, 10AM-1PM, online. Via the "@peigreencaucus" Instagram, Twitter or Facebook message. Beaton is MLA for District 5: Mermaid-Stratford. "Her responses will be shared on our Instagram and her Facebook."

Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, outside Province House at Grafton Street side.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is to announce his government's decision about Boat Harbour/Northern Pulp situation today. This Twitter feed by journalist Taryn Grant gives some background, if you want to scroll through a bit of a recap or what's-what with this issue.
This article is part of a series about the results of the actions of Ontario Premier Doug Ford with his various cuts to programs and services in Ontario,

Focusing on this one area, what he has cut, an Environment Commissioner, is exactly what Ontario and Prince Edward Island and every province and territory need. This is a depressing read about what one set of ideological zealots -- elected with a supposed "mandate" but only due to the landslide seat-counts that the First-Past-the-Post voting system causes -- can do to completely dismantle environmental protection and sell off natural resources and so much more.

The Ford Fallout: “I’m dreading the day my grandchildren look at me and ask, ‘Why did you let this happen to us?’” - Toronto Life article by staff at the publication Toronto Life

Dianne Saxe, the former environmental commissioner of Ontario, on the dissolution of her office. Part 9 in (the) series

Published on Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

“After 40 years as an environmental and energy lawyer working all over the province for clients big and small, I gave up everything I had built to become the third (and, alas, last) environmental commissioner of Ontario. My job was to speak truth to power. I was the guardian of the Environmental Bill of Rights and provided all Ontarians with a reliable, independent, non-partisan assessment of the province’s energy, climate and environmental policies.

“There is no topic more important, because our home is on fire. My team produced 17 reports, designed and illustrated to make Ontario’s successes, failures and options clear and understandable. People across Ontario relied on those reports, and I criss-crossed the province meeting with hundreds of groups: community associations, farm leaders, real estate brokers, municipal councils, chemists, cabinet ministers and more. Our work inspired and strengthened policies and actions across Ontario, by documenting, for example, the disproportionate pollution of Indigenous communities, the filth poured into our lakes and rivers, and the energy we waste. In 15 languages, including three Indigenous ones, I gave Ontarians the tools to exercise their environmental rights. And, publicly and privately, I coaxed, cajoled, trained and embarrassed the government into fulfilling its own obligations.

“I was always treated with respect, until September 2018, when I delivered a report documenting the destructive effects of the Ford government’s climate actions. Soon afterwards, the province passed special legislation to abolish my office, break the contract all MPPs had unanimously made with me and crush my employees’ union. How did I find out about all this? From the CBC, when a reporter called to ask about my firing.

“Twelve of us lost our jobs; several remain unemployed. But Ontario has lost much more. The Ford government has revoked our climate law, cancelled cap and trade and abandoned two-thirds of our climate pollution target. They cut back flood protection. They broke 752 contracts for clean renewable power that we will soon need, cut environmental and energy conservation, allowed endangered species to be killed for a modest price and restricted the ability of municipalities to protect natural areas. They turbocharged urban sprawl, the major driver of Ontario’s climate pollution.

“On almost every part of my energy, environment and climate mandate, the Ford government makes claims that contradict the evidence and takes actions that worsen our future. No wonder they wanted to silence me.

“The auditor general now can, if she chooses, fulfill part of my old role, and I hope she will. One of her assistants has a title similar to mine, though he has no budget, staff or statutory role of his own, and he does not make himself available to the public. My job was to put the environment first; the auditor general usually evaluates things in terms of money. We’re in a climate and ecological emergency precisely because of the habit of judging everything in terms of money; doing more of that won’t get us out of it.

“Ontario was a climate leader until the Ford government was elected. We’ve since become an international embarrassment, and a place where no contract is safe. In 2018, the Nobel Prize for economics was awarded to a Yale professor who showed that carbon pricing is the best and cheapest policy. Yet Ford continues to waste money fighting the federal carbon price, breaking his own promise to drop that attack if Trudeau were re-elected.

“Fortunately, my three grandchildren are too young to understand what’s happening, but I’m dreading the day they look me in the eye and ask, ‘Why did you let this happen to us?’ What will I say?”

The next Ontario provincial election is set for June 2022, and people can work for some raising of the awareness of what is being sold off, and what power people do actually have in governments to push them to make decisions mindful of the next generations' future. (And this is true for anyone in many places!)
"For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love."
--- Carl Sagan (1934-1996), died this day 23 years ago.

Here is a bit of a melancholy but ultimately inspiring treat, a long article from Smithsonian magazine on the famous astronomer and science-popularizer's life and ideas, published five years ago when much of Sagan's archival material was made publish by the Library of Congress and a new version of Sagan's series Cosmos was set to be aired:

December 19, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Ask MLA Karla Bernard -- Online Event, 10AM-1PM, with the District 12: Charlottetown-Victoria Park MLA.
"Ask MLA Karla Bernard your questions on the @peigreencaucus Instagram, Twitter or message us on Facebook! Her responses will be shared on our Instagram and her Facebook."
Facebook location for questions:
Instagram location:

Note that District 5: Mermaid-Stratford MLA Michele Beaton will have an Ask Your MLA event tomorrow, 10AM-1PM.
The Province has extended the comment period for the Wind Turbine project in eastern Kings County until Monday, January 20th, 2020.

More time for Islanders to comment on environmental assessment for project in Eastern Kings - PEI Government website posting

Islanders will have an extended opportunity to comment on the environmental impact assessment for the proposed 30 mega watt wind project in Eastern Kings.

The public comment period is extended by one month – from December 20, 2019 to January 20, 2020 – due to the delay of a report on bird migration and bat studies.

A public information session was held November 19, 2019 at the Eastern Kings Community Centre and as outlined under the Environmental Protection Act, the public has 30 days to comment after the proponent holds their public information session.

The PEI Energy Corporation Environmental Impact Statement and supplementary report are available at Projects Under Environmental Review.

To view the statement and report, enter the word ‘Kings’ under project and click search.

Comments can be submitted to:
Dale Thompson
Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 7N8

I appreciate that the birds and bats slowed things down enough so some of us can take a longer look at this issue.

I don't appreciate that you can no longer easily find a current or recent list of undertakings on this part of the Department's website (Unless it is there and I can't find it ;-) . In a revamping of the page, you can only type in key words and see what is produced on the search.

from this page:

"All projects currently under environmental review in the province and any projects previously assessed for their environmental impact are available to the public. Search this database for a brief description of the project, its review status and other project details."

So in theory all the information you may want is there, but you have to be able to search carefully and effectively to get the information you want. That doesn't mean most people will be able to find what they want, and it makes just generally keeping up with the project applications much more of a challenge (or disincentive to do so). You would have to go to the effort to search by time period, instead of just going to a page that always lists recent undertakings, as the Department used to do. The Citizens' Alliance and some other Island groups hope to continue to discuss concerns with environmental impact assessments with the Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change, and do feel the Minister (Brad Trivers) and Deputy Minister (Brad Colwill) want to make it easier for the public to be informed about and engaged in what's going on in the Province.
Christmas has come early to those who have always loved the quirky, nerdy The Far Side cartoons, as creator Gary Larson has -- he himself -- opened his own website: with daily postings ("The Daily Dose") of some of the many classic ones, like today's:

"To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities -- better ones -- and we need to believe that we can achieve them."
---Tali Sharot

This quote reminds me of Islander Martin Rutte and his project Heaven on Earth
The book is available at local bookstores and some other shops and would likely make lovely holiday gift and reading. I think the Lady Baker's Tea even has a blend with the same name.

December 18, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Charlottetown Farmers' Market is open for take-out lunches (select vendors) and the now regular weekdays coffee service from Caledonia House.

PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada Christmas Social, 3-5PM, 2nd Floor of Confederation Court Mall, all welcome.
The Nova Scotia government has asked Northern Pulp for more information in an Environmental Impact review.

Northern Pulp to consider its 'future' as N.S. calls for more work on effluent plan - CBC News online article by Michael Gorman

Environment Minister Gordon Wilson says he needs science-based information

Published on Tuesday, December 17th, 2019, on the CBC News website

Nova Scotia Environment Minister Gordon Wilson says he does not have enough information to properly assess the potential effects to the environment of Northern Pulp's proposed effluent treatment plant, a decision that's got the largest player in the province's forest industry considering its future.

"The most important result at the end of the day is that we have an outcome that protects the environment, that weighs in all of the competing interests that there are out there, and the decision at the end of the day is one that's based on science and best evidence," Wilson told reporters in Halifax on Tuesday.

The minister has ordered the Pictou County pulp mill to complete an environmental assessment report.

Wilson said he's well aware of the potential implications of his decision and how many people it affects, but the minister said his focus can only be on the application itself and whether it has met requirements to address risks to human health and the environment and explain how they would be mitigated.

"It is a decision I think that did weigh on me very heavily, but it is one I feel very confident is the right decision."

Company reviewing options for the future

Brian Baarda, CEO of Northern Pulp's parent company Paper Excellence, said in a statement it is disappointed with Wilson's decision and is considering its options for the future.

"Our team put forward an in-depth plan based on sound science that showed no meaningful environmental impact, represented a significant operational improvement, and ensured Nova Scotia's forest sector and the thousands it employs could remain a vital part of our economy," he said in the statement.

"Currently, we are reviewing the decision and our options for the future of Northern Pulp."

The province had until Tuesday to decide whether or not to approve Northern Pulp's proposal for a new treatment facility that would pump up to 85 million litres of treated effluent daily via a pipeline into the Northumberland Strait.

The terms of reference for the report will be released by Jan. 10, followed by a 30-day public comment period. From there the mill would have up to two years to submit its environmental assessment report.

That means the matter will run squarely into the terms of the Boat Harbour Act, which calls for the mill to stop sending effluent to its current treatment facility in Boat Harbour by Jan. 31, 2020.

Government officials confirmed Tuesday the mill has filed an application to extend its industrial approval but would not say what that might mean for Boat Harbour on Feb. 1. Wilson would not speculate about what would happen if they company tried to use Boat Harbour to treat effluent after the act's deadline.

The one person who can answer that question, Premier Stephen McNeil, wasn't speaking Tuesday. He's scheduled to address reporters on Wednesday. Baarda called on McNeil to make a decision about extending the act as soon as possible.

McNeil has repeatedly said he has no reason to consider an extension because the company does not have approval for the new effluent treatment project. To make a change would require recalling the Nova Scotia Legislature before the end of January.

Andrea Paul, the chief of nearby Pictou Landing First Nation, is happy the province is asking for more information.

"That's what we've been asking for from the very beginning," she said. "To make sure that the science that they're providing is not going to have any harm on our resources, it's not going to harm our fish, it's not going to harm the air and it's not going to harm the land."

She said she isn't worried the province will backtrack on its promise to shut down at the end of January the facility at Boat Harbour, a former tidal estuary adjacent to the First Nation that has been handling effluent for five decades.

"It's not going to change," she said of the deadline.

Pictou Landing elder Louise Sapier remembers what Boat Harbour was like before it became a dumping ground for effluent in the 1960s.

"That was our playground," she said. Sapier said there was "a lot of good memories back then," and remembers swimming and catching "fish with our bare hands."

Wilson received more than 6,000 pages of comments from the public and government reviewers to consider as part of making his decision.

In a letter to the mill, Wilson wrote there wasn't enough information in the company's focus report about possible impacts on fish and fish habitat or human health, something he said was highlighted in comments from federal and provincial reviewers and from Pictou Landing First Nation.

Wilson also raised concerns about the lack of certainty about raw wastewater characterizations and the limited amount of information the mill provided on that and air emissions. There also wasn't enough information about the effectiveness of a thicker pipe that would be used to move the effluent to the Northumberland Strait or how possible leaks would be detected and addressed.

Further consultation with the Town of Pictou is also required to address their concerns about the pipeline route and the fact it crosses the town's watershed, Wilson told the company.

More uncertainty for forestry industry

Unifor national president Jerry Dias, who represents the 350 workers at the mill, said the timing of the minister's ruling "is horrendous."

"What is has done is really put a huge cloud over 2,700 direct workers over the Christmas period," he said.

Dias criticized the premier for "not fighting for jobs" in the forestry sector and said McNeil has to amend the Boat Harbour Act.

Jeff Bishop, the executive director of Forest Nova Scotia, said Wilson's decision means more uncertainty and anxiety for people employed in and connected to the forestry industry. Thousands of people's jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue are tied to the mill's existence, according to a recent economic impact assessment by the union.

Bishop said he believes Northern Pulp has worked as hard as it can to satisfy the government's requirements to get an approval of the project, but the bar keeps moving.

"What the process seems to be doing is as certain information comes in and questions are answered, it begs new questions."

Robin Wilber, the president of Elmsdale Lumber, which employs about 50 people in the forestry industry near Pictou, said he expected the minister to either approve or reject the project, not simply seek more information. 

Wilber said mills such as his rely on Northern Pulp for their operations to be viable because it gives them a place to send what's left over after they turn logs into lumber.

Landowners and businesses like his will all suffer without markets for low-grade wood products, said Wilber.

Allan MacCarthy, a spokesperson for the Northumberland Fishermen's Association, welcomed Wilson's decision. For the last two years he and other fishermen have argued there are too many unknowns about how the treated effluent would affect their livelihoods.

"It's going to make everyone feel a lot more secure," he said. "There's a big weight lifted from everyone's minds today."

Ecology Action Centre wilderness co-ordinator Ray Plourde said Wilson made the right call.

"Certainly I and a lot of stakeholders across the province would have liked to have seen this project be rejected, but if I were in the minister's shoes, I probably would have done exactly what the minister did do, which was the follow the terms of his responsibilities without prejudice."

Plourde said it's clear politics didn't influence Wilson's decision and he thinks the mill's application for an updated industrial approval should be rejected.

'Spectacularly incompetent'

Opposition politicians said Tuesday's outcome shows the government's approach to the matter has been flawed from the start.

Tory Leader Tim Houston, who is an MLA in Pictou County, said the government should have just required a more involved Class 2 environmental assessment in the beginning. He said he still doesn't see enough information from the mill that would make him support an extension of the Boat Harbour Act.

"This should have been a higher level of scrutiny from the beginning and in fact the federal government should clearly be involved in this in file and the fact that they're not is a huge disappointment to me."

NDP Leader Gary Burrill was blunt in his assessment of the situation.

"I think it is spectacularly incompetent for Northern Pulp to come, now a second time, with a report that the Department of Environment says is inadequate in what it says about water, inadequate in what it says about land, inadequate in what it says about air," he said.

"What else is there besides water, land and air for the Department of the Environment?"

Both Burrill and Houston criticized the premier for not being available to answer questions on Tuesday given how vital the issue is for so many people in Nova Scotia.


"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, and the other for helping others."
--- Sam Levenson (1911-1980), humourist and writer

December 17, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

National Park Passes "Early Bird" Sale, in-person only, until Friday, December 20th, Ardgowan (2 Palmers Lane), 8:30AM-4:30PM, and possibly still at Trailer set up at Canadian Tire in Charlottetown (supposedly that was only until the 15th, but it was still parked there yesterday), 10AM-4PM.
Early bird prices: Adult: $19.60, Senior: $17.10, Youth (17 & under): free, Family/group: $49.00
Today, the Nova Scotia Government is set to release its decision on the Northern Pulp waste treatment plan. Yesterday the Federal Government announced it is declining requiring a federal Environmental Assessment Review. CBC story on Federal Government decision:

Ottawa won't do impact assessment on Northern Pulp effluent treatment plan - CBC News online article by Michael Gorman

"A federal impact assessment is not the right tool for every type of project,' says federal minister

Published on Monday, December 16th, 2019

The future of the Northern Pulp mill is firmly in the hands of Nova Scotia Environment Minister Gordon Wilson.

Wilson is scheduled to release his environmental assessment decision on the Pictou County pulp mill's plan for a new effluent treatment facility at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

On Monday, it was learned Wilson will have the final word on the matter after federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced he would not designate the project for a federal impact assessment.

"I am very much aware of concerns that have been raised related to the potential for adverse impacts from the project on marine life including a number of important questions raised by federal departments," Wilkinson said in a statement.

"It is my expectation that outstanding questions and information gaps will be answered through the provincial environmental assessment process. Should these issues not be sufficiently dealt with through the provincial process, I remain committed to ensuring that they are thoroughly understood and addressed through federal regulatory processes."

Mill's future

Prior to Monday's announcement, it was expected Wilkinson would make his decision on Friday, three days after Wilson's. The move means there will be no ambiguity around Wilson's ruling on Tuesday and whether it could be superseded by Ottawa.

If Wilson turns down the application, it will likely mean an end to the mill's operation. The provincial Liberals passed the Boat Harbour Act five years ago and it mandates that the mill no longer use the former tidal estuary to treat its effluent after Jan. 31, 2020.

Should Wilson approve the plan, which calls for a new treatment site to be built on the mill's property and treated effluent to then be discharged into the Northumberland Strait via a pipeline, the mill would need an amendment to the Boat Harbour Act to keep operating.

Mill officials have said it would take about two years to complete construction, but that the mill cannot go into hot idle for an extended period of time. Without an extension to continue using Boat Harbour, Northern Pulp cannot continue to operate.

Members of the forestry industry and union officials for mill workers have aggressively lobbied the government to approve the plan and grant an extension to the act, noting that thousands of jobs are at risk should the largest player in the industry go down.

On the other side of the debate are members of Pictou Landing First Nation, fishermen, tourism operators and others in Pictou County who have called for the deadline to be upheld, even if that means an end to the mill. The potential unknowns when it comes to the marine ecosystem, along with closing a painful chapter of environmental racism trump everything else at this point, they say.

Those same groups had called on the federal government to take over the assessment process, something that would have required an additional two years to complete before construction could potentially begin, because they argue the provincial government is in a conflict of interest as both regulator and a lender to the mill.

Federal scientist concerns

In his statement, Wilkinson said even if the province approves the project it would still be subject to and required to satisfy federal rules.

"A federal impact assessment is designed for the largest most complex projects where there is significant environmental risk in areas of federal jurisdiction," he said.

"A federal impact assessment is not the right tool for every type of project. Under CEAA 2012 and the Impact Assessment Act, pulp and paper mills are not designated projects. As such, these types of projects have not undergone federal environmental assessments."

Federal scientists, responding to requests for feedback from the provincial government as part of the public comment period for the environmental assessment focus report, raised significant concerns about the document, calling it lacking and in some cases relying on inaccurate information.


If you wish to contact any or all of our four Island MPs, and the Prime Minister and mention your concerns, here is contact information:

Cardigan MP Lawrence Macaulay

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey

Egmont MP Robert Morrissey

Malpeque MP Wayne Easter
<> OR <>

Office of Prime Minister of Canada
"Going back to a simpler life is not a step backward."
– Yvon Chouinard

December 16, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

It's a quieter week when much is winding down for a holiday break.

Some random notes:
Today is the last day to view the wreaths on the lower level of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, as they are taken down so the creators can take them elsewhere to display.

Vesey's Seeds, like many island stores, has a fantastic display of decorated Christmas trees and other pretty stuff, and is open 8AM-5PM till Friday, 9AM-4PM Saturday.

Their 2020 catalogue is out and features outstanding local organic farmer Jen Campbell on the cover.
Jen and Derek's website

It's nice to have a range of seed companies (others will be profiled in upcoming newsletters), and consider:

Why seed saving is so important! - Waterloo Community Garden Council website article

You love to garden!  You planted your favourite veggies, herbs and flowers in the spring, watched them sprout, watered them diligently, added compost, weeded and mulched, observed bees pollinating, reaped the harvest, and savoured delicious flavours as you cooked and preserved your bounty.  Now the garden season is nearly over - or is it?  What about all those seeds?

There are many reasons gardeners might want to save seeds, and it's not hard to do once you learn the basics.  First of all, here are a few thoughts on why seed saving is so important:

a) Adaptated varieties - Saving your own seeds creates new varieties that are perfectly adapted to your own growing conditions.

b) Saves money - Saving your own seeds saves money (you can replant next season, or trade with other gardeners).

c) Preserves genetic diversity - Saving your own seeds preserves the genetic diversity of heirloom plants.

d) Choose your tastes - Saving your own seeds allows you to grow food suited exactly to your tastes.

e) Chance to learn - Saving your own seeds provides a wonderful learning opportunity for you & your family.

To learn more about how to save seeds:

Read this Mother Earth News article entitled Saving Seeds: 7 Reasons Why and Dozens of Tips for How.-30-
If the links don't come through, please see the link to the article.
"Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer."
--- William S. Burroughs(1914-1997), artist and writer

December 14, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

Still some craft fairs (Milton, Holland College students, Georgetown) going on today.

Some Bonshaw and Area Notes:
The South Shore "Santa Tour" is postponed until next Saturday due to the rain forecast.

Bonshaw Hall Christmas Concert, 7-9PM, Bonshaw Hall, admission by donation (going to Hall upkeep) and donations to the South Shore Food Pantry appreciated. Quite the line-up of local talent, and all welcome, even if it's still pouring rain.

From Mary Boyd, who sees the big picture:

OPINION: Court case could impact universal health care - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Mary Boyd

Published on Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

The Cambie case, which is now winding up in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, could have a big impact on the future of our Canadian system of universal health care.

This charter challenge by Dr. Brian Day, one of the founders of the Cambie Surgical Clinic, is threatening the foundational principle of this system: that care should be based on people’s needs, not on their ability to pay.

He wants doctors to be able to charge patients extra fees to be paid out-of-pocket or through private health insurance. The evidence clearly shows that public solutions are the most effective way to decrease wait times for everyone.

Day’s for-profit, privatized care would drain resources from the public system, leaving us with longer wait times and declining quality of care. This is a corporation arguing for the right to charge as much as it wants, while also being subsidized by the public system.

If Day wins, private insurers will push the very sick and vulnerable to the back of the line because they will select the least complicated medical conditions in order to earn higher profits. Day and his supporters show no concern for the rights of those who are ineligible for or who cannot afford private health insurance or private care.

This case could undermine and change our entire public health-care system. Day is invoking Section 7 of the Canadian Charter – the right to life, liberty and security of the person – as a basis for striking down B.C.’s ban on private health insurance, extra-billing by physicians and other limits placed on private care.

This case is about doctors’ billing practices, not patients’ charter rights to improved health care. Day claims that it is unconstitutional for governments to place any limits on private care that might make it harder for those who can afford it to jump the public queue.

Canadians disagree. Opinion polls show that 90 per cent of people in B.C. believe health care must be based on need, not on the ability to pay. Day and his supporters are not fighting for patients’ rights. They are not asking the courts to order Canadian governments to address inadequacies and inequities within the public system.

They are asking the courts to effectively dismantle the public system, which would be detrimental to the well-being of Canadians.

Mary Boyd is chair of the P.E.I. Health Coalition.

Similarities: Here is a 13 minute documentary (that moves very fast in parts) from the United States, about a natural gas pipeline being proposed to go from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina, and focusing on some of the community organizers fighting it in North Carolina. It also reminds the viewer that the real money made in these projects is in the short-term construction, and about the kinds of communities that are targeted to bear the development.
“Pick a leader who is strong and confident, yet humble. Intelligent, but not sly. A leader who encourages diversity, not racism. One who understands the needs of the farmer, the teacher, the welder, the doctor, and the environmentalist -- not only the banker, the oil tycoon, the weapons developer, or the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyist.”
― Suzy Kassem (b. 1975), poet and philosopher

December 13, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today:
Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Cenotaph at Province House, Grafton Street side.

Last Chance Christmas Craft Fair, 4-8PM, Holland College Centre for Community Engagement, Grafton Street. Also, tomorrow from 10AM-4PM.

So many concerts going on tonight and this weekend, but here is something deeply contemplative:

Night Music by Sarah Hagen, 8-9PM, St. Paul's Anglican Church, Church Street, Charlottetown.
"Pianist Sarah Hagen invites people yearning for a quiet moment in the midst of the holiday excitement to join her for an hour of carefully curated music by Bach, Scarlatti, Brahms, and others.
Inspired by Natkirke, a contemplative initiative in Denmark, Night Music is an opportunity for calm reflection through music.
The audience is encouraged to enter quietly and the pieces will flow from one to the next without pause or applause. Music will begin at 8 pm, and admission is “Pay What You Will” at the door."
Thanks to Tony Reddin for pointing this out

The unheralded backbone of B.C.’s winning climate plan:

Opinion: Energy efficiency a key pillar of CleanBC, and it enables climate action in other areas. But it doesn’t get much love - The Vancouver Sun article by James Glave and Brendan Haley

Published on Thursday, December 5th, 2019

As the province’s CleanBC strategy marks its first anniversary, a new report throws a spotlight on one of its largely unheralded ingredients.

Time flies when you are setting ambitious climate targets and legislating effective policies to meet them.

It was one year ago today that Premier John Horgan and Green party leader Andrew Weaver stood on a stage in downtown Vancouver to introduce an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The March budget then allocated close to a billion dollars, spread across three years, to implement it. The government then legislated a new 2030 carbon target and, more recently, a package of measures to hold itself accountable for the plan’s commitments.

It’s a marked departure from the “hand-waving” climate strategies that we’ve seen in the past — documents that were big on promises and pretty pictures, but without tough regulations to follow through on. Instead, CleanBC is 66 pages of bold action, with teeth.

The province intends to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, which matches the level of ambition that scientists say is needed to preserve a safe future. That’s a long way out, but since the task is huge the important thing is to start. That’s what the province is doing via a slew of new policies, regulations and actions, like mandating that 10 per cent of car sales be zero-emission vehicles by 2025, and increasing new building efficiency requirements starting in 2022, through the BC Energy Step Code.

Energy efficiency is a key pillar of CleanBC, but it doesn’t get much attention. Energy savings are less visible than wind turbines and hydroelectric plants, and governments accomplish them through a whole bucket of programs and rules requiring industry to up its game.

Energy efficiency will probably never shed its “boring” label, but it currently puts bread on the table for more people in Canada than the oil and gas and telecommunications sectors. The potential market is significant. According to the Vancouver Economic Commission, the changes brought in through the BC Energy Step Code and the City of Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan will together unleash a $3.3 billion market for high-efficiency construction technologies and products.

Two weeks ago, Efficiency Canada, a national think tank based at Carleton University, published its first provincial energy efficiency scorecard. British Columbia received the highest rank, largely due to policies like the BC Energy Step Code, increased natural gas savings targets and support for vehicle electrification.

And there’s more to be done. Here are two good reasons why energy efficiency can help the province advance its CleanBC agenda:

• First, the plan calls for “substantial additional volumes of electricity” starting around 2030 because of the aggressive electrification of transportation, heating and industry. Measures like deep energy retrofits of residential and commercial buildings and industrial energy management systems will service electricity demands at lower cost and with a smaller environmental footprint. If you wince at the prospect of protracted battles over proposed energy generation projects, remember that “boring” energy efficiency will help lessen the need for them to be built in the first place.

• Second, good policy rests on good data, and when it comes to buildings the government is currently flying blind. The province can, and should, require building owners to measure and report their energy use and emissions, and then label their buildings with an energy rating. While data-crunching isn’t exactly the stuff of viral memes, this work will yield more effective retrofit programs, more informed home buyers and a better-functioning real estate market.

Policymakers and those in the booming energy-efficiency industry should feel chuffed with B.C.’s top rank, but also emboldened to stay in the pole position with a range of additional actions. And British Columbians? They’ll continue reaping the benefits of good efficiency policies, such as healthier, quieter and more comfortable homes — plus more money in their pockets to spend on things other than gas and electricity.

James Glave is the principal of Glave Strategies, a Vancouver low-carbon economy consultancy, and Brendan Haley is policy director for Efficiency Canada, based at Carleton University in Ottawa.


And if you want to see what P.E.I. has to offer in this area, here is the website for "Efficiency PEI".
"Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up."
--- Jesse Jackson

December 12, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

"Ask Your MLA" --with District 13 (Charlottetown-Brighton) MLA Ole Hammarlund, 1-3PM, online at:
"the @peigreencaucus Instagram story, (or) send Opposition Prince Edward Island - Green Caucus a Facebook message or @peigreencaucus a Twitter DM". Arguably one of the most intelligent and genuinely kind MLAs , Ole has insights and ideas that

"Have Faith", Fundraising Concert for Bahamians affected by Hurricane Dorion, 6:30-9PM, St. Paul's Anglican Church. Organized by many Bahamian students on P.E.I. More details:
Facebook event link

Holland College School of Performing Arts (SoPA) Music students Showcase, 7PM, Florence Simmmonds Hall, $15

Next week:
Wednesday, December 18th:
PEIANC (PEI Association for Newcomers) Christmas Open House, 3-5PM, Confederation Court Mall, Second Floor, all welcome."There will be food and refreshments, kids activities, music from the Singing Strings, a visit from Santa and more. Everyone is welcome to drop by and we would love to see everyone there.”
(I saw this listed somewhere for today at the Memorial Hall, but the Confederation Mall event next week is the accurate one.)
People involvement in their schools -- democracy on a very local level:

Can Tories restore trust in education? - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, December 11th, 2019, in The Graphic publications

After a decade of arbitrary, centralized decision making, PEI’s education system will once again be controlled by elected trustees. Or so promises Education Minister Brad Trivers who announced a yearlong consultation process with legislation not expected until the spring of 2021 – or roughly the time when a minority Island government could reasonably be expected to fall. 

Given how government has manipulated the education of our children and oversight of the system in recent years, Islanders have every right to view the announcement with skepticism. But if Tories deliver, it will mark a positive turn for the education system, which has veered from one dysfunctional model to another since 2008, all driven by government’s desire to micromanage control. 

Even in announcing the process Trivers signalled a potential willingness to include appointees to an elected board, supposedly to offer professional expertise. The minister’s mandate letter intimated the same, so it is clearly something the new government and the education bureaucracy is considering. 

But is it needed? 


What’s needed is an independent board supported by a competent bureaucracy all pushing for excellence to be at the core of our system. 

This is not the case today. The MacLauchlan government created a centralized Fifth Floor power structure built on conflicts of interest that stripped away independent and credible local input. One of the aggravating constants of our system is the institutional embrace of mediocrity. Rather than invest and build a system that is a showcase for the country and the world - and as a byproduct a driver of the provincial economy - we limp happily along in the medium to lower tier of the nation. 

We saw this again last week with the predictable decline in PISA test results, and in particular results from students at the lower end of the achievement scale. 

Three years ago the Department of Education concocted one of the most crass politicalizations of children in its bid to artificially improve PISA results through test exemptions. When our numbers jumped, the department trotted children to a press conference to pat itself on the back, never mentioning that PEI led the world in the number of children (lower achievers) excused from writing the international standardized test. 

The strategy blew up in the department’s face when it became known 14 per cent of Island 15-year-olds - almost three times the allowable limit - didn’t write the test. The number is improved this time around, but even our reduced exemption rate of seven per cent is higher than the five per cent allowed by PISA’s governing body. 

We need to do better both in terms of real results and the example we set for our children. It won’t happen if we parachute perceived educational experts onto a new board. Nothing says mistrust quite like it. 

Nor should we listen to the urging of Elections PEI and adopt electronic voting, which has become a prominent talking point based on a desire to unnecessarily grow the bureaucracy rather than ensure secure and accessible elections. 

Provincial turnout is routinely in the 80 per cent range, yet Elections PEI reduced the number of polls in the last provincial election. Perhaps not surprisingly the number of Islanders voting dipped slightly and Elections PEI is now recommending a trial move to electronic voting. And while it’s true school board elections have lagged far behind provincial elections in turnout, it’s primarily a case of perceived relevance and enthusiasm. Government has not adequately promoted school board elections. Ever. 

Even with promotion, board elections are unlikely to equal that of a provincial election. Education is most relevant to parents with children in the system. It is the same reason why youth are notoriously difficult to get to a poll, they don’t see the impact of provincial or federal politics on their lives. 

Before we jump to unproven and risky technology, let’s encourage turnout. Let’s make the management of our education system fully transparent and engaging. Let’s hold the vote at a time when people are inclined to vote, either during a provincial or municipal election. Let’s hammer home the importance of voting and independent oversight. 

But most importantly let’s set a goal that Prince Edward Island will move from the muddy middle to a recognized place of education leadership in the world. 

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at

"Either I will find a way, or I will make one." ---Philip Sidney (1554-1586), English poet and soldier

December 11, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Take-out Lunches (and coffee) at the Market, 10AM-2PM, Belvedere Avenue Charlottetown Farmers' Market. Participating vendors are: "Abby's Catering, La Sazon de Mexico, Grandma Jawoski's Perogies, and of course Caledonia House Coffee which is open throughout the week 6am-2pm EVERYDAY (except Sundays!)!"
--from the Charlottetown Farmers' Market Facebook page, from last week's listing, so please forgive if there are any changes in today's plans

Also note the Market will be the site of a very early Citrus Sale this Saturday and the next (14th and 21st) in support of the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra.

Christmas Open House, Mi'kmaq Printing and Design, 2-6PM, St. Paul's Church Hall, 101 Prince Street, second floor. "Sean Doke and Misiksk Jadis will be hosting a screening. Showcasing all the work that Mi’kmaq Printing and Design has been up to."
Facebook event link
If there is no "other", it means we have to figure out how to talk with them...

With holidays and gatherings happening in the next few weeks, it's hard not to hear conversations about Climate Change or trade deals or pipelines into the Strait of Northumberland. And it's hard not to blast right in with our message and prescription for fixing things. But that rarely changes the mind of people who seriously disagree (and we know we need everyone to begin to understand the severity of these issues and take action). An option for starting on this path is to find consensus, but wow, does it ever mean patience and ego-taming!

The David Suzuki Foundation is encouraging people to make the effort to have three conversations or more with others during this holiday time with folks that may not be buying into the Climate Crisis (or whatever). They have a little video of a supposed family dinner with Suzuki pulling out a megaphone to shout out what we know is going on about Climate Change to an argumentative dinner guest. His point is that confrontation and know-it-all-ness won't help many people move their attitudes on these issues (even if you are right!!).

The Foundation is encouraging a five point conversation strategy, and it's promoted and outlined by the Smart Politics organization here:

"At the heart of the Smart Politics method is the Change Conversation Cycle (CCC). The CCC is a five-step process we developed to help progressives have more productive and persuasive conversations with people they disagree with. The five steps of the CCC are: ask, listen, reflect, agree, and share."

And Suzuki's people have carried it one step further by creating a "messaging" or "chatbot coach", to walk you through different conversation scenarios and offer suggestions for better ways to respond.
It doesn't mean you won't feel like grabbing your megaphone and shouting, but it may give you some responses that don't immediately shut down conversation. It definitely pulls together a lot of "active listening" skills from various resources, and even though it may feel awkward or artificial at first (like a lot of interpersonal communication skills facilitating can), it may be useful for you!

Here is the description and link to share, after you have tried it out :-)

"I learned how to have difficult conversations about climate change with CliMate, a chatbot coach.
Try it here:"

And the Facebook page with the video of David's Megaphone Holiday Dinner:
"Believe you can and you are halfway there."
--- Theodore Roosevelt

December 10, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Institute for Island Studies Lecture Series, “Don’t Discard the Utilitarian Aims”: Revisiting the UK Prison Offer, with Dr. Dacia Leslie, 7PM, UPEI, Main Building, Faculty Lounge. Admission by donation.

The Island Lecture Series December lecture features a visiting scholar from Jamaica, Dr. Dacia Leslie, speaking about Jamaica’s prison system. <snip> Her research focuses on the facilitators of effective reintegration and the lived experiences of offenders, ex-inmates, involuntary removed migrants and their child dependents. Recidivism in the Caribbean, a book published by Palgrave Macmillan, is a recent output of this ongoing work.
Admission to the lecture is free and everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Laurie at or (902) 894-2881.
More information:
Some advice from columnist Scott Gilmore for Parliamentarians (new and returning!), with apologies for the language:

To our new Parliamentarians: Don’t be a**holes - Maclean's article by Scott Gilmore

On your first day in the House, you’re going to see your colleagues heckle. It’s a stain on the beating heart of our country.

Published on Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Welcome to Ottawa!

Let me begin by assuring you it gets warmer. I recommend finding a place to live that is within walking distance of Parliament—the public transport is a disaster and we inexplicably only have one badly clogged artery for commuters.

And welcome to the House of Commons. It’s beautiful isn’t it? Even the new, temporary, quarters give you chills when you walk in.

When you sit in your new desk, look up. The viewing galleries that look down on you are often surprisingly full with Canadians who came to Ottawa for business, to see family, or just as tourists, then decided to watch the people they elected work.

It’s a rare moment of true awe, when someone enters the House for the first time. There’s a whole process to get in the building. There are lines and ushers and rules. The guards who open the gallery doors are quiet and their seriousness effecting—you immediately know this is a special and important place.

But you don’t need their demeanor to tell you that. The soaring space above, the grand Speaker’s chair below, and the officious clerks and pages respectfully scurrying about make it clear that this is a serious place—this is the very beating heart of our great country—this is where it all happens.

And they see you, their fellow Canadian they sent here to represent them. Once you notice them above, watching you in your seat, I hope you always feel those eyes on you. Because they are.

Which brings me to the point I want you to understand. It’s a point your party leader should be making, but sadly never does: In your first day in Parliament, in your first Question Period, you are going to see your colleagues to the left, to the right, and in front and across the aisle, act like assholes. Don’t do that.

Parliamentary heckling has a long and sordid history in Ottawa. It waxes and wanes. Some years it seems better than others. Other years it seems especially bitter and partisan. But it is sadly always there, always a stain on the House.

It comes in many forms. There’s the tellingly inarticulate “Oh! Oh! Oh!”, usually said loud enough to drown out whoever is trying to speak. There’s the mocking laughter, the shouted insults. Occasionally even a threat or two. Women parliamentarians are on the receiving end far more often than the men, which is also telling.

Not coincidentally, the loudest hecklers are often the least known. Presumably, failing to get the attention of the party leader or the press, they are hoping to be seen by loudly harassing their colleagues.

What is strange about this is they (and you) once worked elsewhere, in places like law firms, board rooms, classrooms or clinics. And, regardless of the profession, they worked in places where yelling and bullying like this would get you fired—for reason. Because this is not how adults behave. Hell, it’s not even how middle school children behave. In fact, the only place in the entire country where you can find jack-assery like this, is right where you are sitting now.

And this is, frankly, disgraceful. The hecklers in Parliament clearly do not understand that Canadians expect them to take this job seriously. They act like it’s all a lark. They think it’s an “us vs them” game. And, as a result, every Question Period they disgrace the House and themselves. They should not be there.

My God, it would be refreshing to have a party leader who instead of smirking (which they often do) called the hecklers in to their office and said: “Cut that s–t out. You’re making us look like clowns. The Canadians who sent you here deserve better.” Evidently this doesn’t happen, which is why I’m sending you this note.*

And I’m not the only one who thinks heckling is a disgrace. Ask any of the spectators above what they think. I wager that almost every single one went from awe to disgust within minutes of sitting down. Watching you shouting and insulting is jarring, and fills them with shame—for you, for this house, for the country. They expect better. They deserve better.

This may explain why 40 per cent of the MPs called out for heckling by the Speaker in the last Parliament are not sitting there with you now. In Parliament as in the dog park, the yappiest ones are the smallest dogs.

So, don’t be that dog. Listen to what is being said and you will undoubtedly rise at the end of the session wiser than when it began. The honour of your life will ever be the moment you sat in your seat. Don’t forget that.

*This is true—I printed and sent this note to all 98 of our new Parliamentarians.

And, as hoots and heckles were heard in sound bites from Question Period yesterday, this plea from Gilmore to the new MPs should be taken to heart; all MPs can decide not to join in.
"You don't live in a world all alone. Your brothers are here, too."
--- Albert Schweitzer

December 9, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today:

Ask your MLA online event
District 23: Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke Trish Altass, 11AM-1PM
, Facebook event details

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

Christmas in Brass at The Mount, featuring Tuba Christmas, 7PM, The Mount (141 Mount Edward Road, Charlottetown). Admission by donation.
"The event will feature (traditional seasonal favourites including) a varied selection of Christmas carols and songs as well as Tuba Christmas, the Great George Street vocal quartet and our famous sing-a-long!"

Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 10th:
ISLAND LECTURE SERIES December Lecture, “Don’t Discard the Utilitarian Aims”: Revisiting the UK Prison Offer, with Dr. Dacia Leslie, 7PM, Main Building Faculty Lounge, UPEI Campus

The Island Lecture Series December lecture features a visiting scholar from Jamaica, Dr. Dacia Leslie, speaking about Jamaica’s prison system: “Don’t Discard the Utilitarian Aims”: Revisiting the UK Prison Offer.

One of the extended controversies surrounding the J$5.5 billion ($51.8 million CAD) offer of the United Kingdom in 2016 to help build a modern prison in Jamaica concerns the extent to which the offer was a form of “penal humanitarianism.” If prison transfer agreements to which penal humanitarianism has been intrinsically linked are a means of extending historical geopolitical power, then the Government of Jamaica’s rejection of the offer might be considered good governance. After carrying out research into Jamaica’s correctional reforms, Dr. Leslie argues that the process by which government decisions are implemented should produce tangible results that meet the needs of citizens, while making the best use of resources. As such, the utilitarian aims of the UK Prison Offer should not be ignored. Dr. Leslie’s talk offers a pragmatic lens through which we might gain deeper insight into the justifications for Jamaica’s rejection of the offer."
More here:

We must not be deflected, diverted or distracted from climate change fight - The London Free Press article by Gwynne Dyer

Originally published on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

What a surprise! The annual emissions report by the United Nations is out, and greenhouse gas emissions are still going up 30 years after we first realized there was a problem with the climate. In fact, they have gone up 15 per cent in the last 10 years. So much for the promises of “early and deep cuts” in emissions to avoid catastrophic heating.

Governments have been making these promises since the early 1990s, and they are never kept because the political pressures are far stronger from those who profit in the present — fossil fuel industries and the auto, shipping and aviation industries — than from those merely frightened for their childrens’ future.

The industries are well organized, well heeled and tightly focused on stopping changes that threaten their business model. Private citizens are less organized, have far fewer resources, and have many competing demands on their attention. Inevitably, the industries succeed in sabotaging most attempts to cut emissions.

For a long time, the industries’ main strategy was denial. At first, they denied carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions were changing the climate. Never mind the science: just listen to this other guy in a white coat who says it isn’t happening.

That worked for a while, and the initial rapid response to the climate change threat lost speed through the later ’90s. Flat denial became increasingly untenable in the early 21st century, however, and the emphasis of the deniers shifted to spreading doubt. The climate is always changing; lots of scientists don’t believe the warming is caused by human activities; the jury is still out.

Those lies worked for another 15 years, but gradually the real scientists realized they had to organize, too. There is now no government in the world (except the U.S.) that still goes along with denialism. Every major international body has accepted the evidence that climate change is happening and that we are the cause.

Time for another change of strategy by the fossil fuel industries and their allies, then. If they can no longer hope to discredit the science or confuse the public about the evidence, maybe they can at least deflect and divert pressure for effective action on climate change on to targets that do not directly threaten sales of their products.

That’s where we are now, and it was Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University and director of the Earth System Science Center, who first spotted the new strategy of the fossil fuel industry’s shills.

“There is an attempt being made by them to deflect attention away from finding policy solutions for global warming towards promoting individual behaviour changes that affect people’s diets, travel choices and other personal behaviour,” he told The Observer newspaper this month. “This is a deflection campaign, and a lot of well-meaning people have been taken in by it.”

What gives the deflectors credibility is that they seem to be on the side of the angels. They’re not denying climate change is real; they just want you to use your bike more, eat less meat and recycle your waste. What could be wrong with that?

Nothing, of course. You should be doing all those things: it’s a necessary part of the solution. But they want you to do that instead of campaigning (or at least voting) for action that directly targets fossil fuel use. If you feel you’re already doing your bit in the climate emergency by changing your personal behaviour, then the pressure is off them.

They also encourage “doomism:” the notion that it’s too late in the game to do anything useful about climate change. “This leads people down a path of despair and hopelessness and finally inaction, which actually leads us to the same place as outright climate-change denialism,” said Mann.

It really is quite late in the game. We would have to cut global emissions by seven per cent a year (instead of increasing them by 1.5 per cent annually) to avoid breaching the never-exceed limit of 2C higher average global temperature. That’s far beyond what we have ever done before, so there is considerable justification for pessimism.

However, pessimism is a luxury we cannot afford. We have to keep working away at the task, because every cut we make in emissions, however inadequate, gives us a little more time to deal with the rest of the problem.

The deflect, divert, distract campaign is often hard to distinguish from genuine attempts to change people’s lifestyles in positive ways, and frankly, there’s no point in trying. Just do what they’re advocating (bikes, meat, recycling, etc.) and remember to do the hard political and legal work of eliminating fossil fuel use, too.

Simple to say, hard to do.

Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist based in London, England


"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

December 8, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our second session in the House was short but satisfying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

December 7, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 6, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published on Thursday, December 5th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published on Monday, December 2nd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 5, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we promote healthy lifestyle activities for our population?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim McCullough,

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

December 4, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published on Monday, December 2nd, 2019

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

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

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

Duty to consult Indigenous people

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

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

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

'No issue with the farmers market'

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

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

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

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

'Another 35 years'

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

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

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

December 3, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published on Monday, December 2nd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 2, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

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

from the Island Studies December News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, how on earth do I file this piece?


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

December 1, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Some Events today:

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

Christmas Parade, 5PM

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

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

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

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

Published on Thursday, November 28th, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Published on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019


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

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

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

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

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


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