CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

December 2020


  1. 1 December 31, 2020
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  2. 2 December 30, 2020
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 2.2 Nova Scotia conservation group buys 220-hectare wildland outside Halifax - CTV News post
  3. 3 December 29, 2020
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 3.2 Vandana Shiva and Maude Barlow Decry Move to Trade in Water Futures - The Blue Planet Project post
  4. 4 December 28, 2020
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 4.2 Frankenfish or food of the future? The risks and rewards of Canada’s genetically engineered salmon - The Narwhal article by Sara Cox
    3. 4.3 Atlantic Skies for December 28th, 2020 to  January 3rd, 2021 - by Glenn K. Roberts
  5. 5 December 27, 2020
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 5.2 'An enormous responsibility': COVID-19 through the eyes of Grade 3 teacher Emma Boswell - CBC online article by Sheehan Desjardins
    3. 5.3 The real cure for COVID is renewing our fractured relationship with the planet - The Globe and Mail article by James Maskalyk and Dave Courchene
  6. 6 December 26, 2020
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 6.2 The Ties That Bind -  by Russell Wangersky in his column "Eastern Passages"
  7. 7 December 25, 2020
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  8. 8 December 24, 2020
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  9. 9 December 23, 2020
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 9.2 Opposition outrage is perplexing - The Guardian article by Jason Alward
  10. 10 December 22, 2020
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 10.2 Federal NDP leader supports P.E.I. basic income pilot - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby
    3. 10.3 GUEST OPINION: Planet's health for human progress - The Guardian Guest opinion by Palanisamy Nagarajan
  11. 11 December 21, 2020
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 11.2 Atlantic Skies for December 21st - December 27th, 2020 - by Glenn K. Roberts
    3. 11.3 A year unlike any other - By Peter Bevan-Baker, MLA Leader of the Official Opposition
  12. 12 December 20, 2020
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 12.2 10 brilliant Christmas light displays to see on P.E.I. - CBC PEI website post by Cindy MacKay
    3. 12.3 EDITORIAL: More than the pandemic - The Guardian Editorial
  13. 13 December 19, 2020
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  14. 14 December 18, 2020
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  15. 15 December 17, 2020
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 15.2 GUEST OPINION: P.E.I. water issue is not urban versus rural - The Guardian Op-ed by Gary Schneider, Ann Wheatley and Don Mazer
  16. 16 December 16, 2020
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  17. 17 December 15, 2020
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 17.2 Charlottetown council rejects planning board recommendation, approves apartment project on Sherwood Road - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
  18. 18 December 14, 2020
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 18.2 Atlantic Skies "A Timeless Gift" - by Glenn K. Roberts
  19. 19 December 13, 2020
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 19.2 Police clear out Burnaby protest camp as TMX construction starts- BurnabyNow  article by Dustin Godfery
  20. 20 December 12, 2020
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 20.2 Trudeau goes it alone with new climate plan, proposes carbon price hike - The National Observer article by Carl Meyers
  21. 21 December 11, 2020
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 21.2 Press release: Westfor applies for injunction against mainland moose blockades - Nova Scotia Advocate
    3. 21.3 The Coronavirus Pandemic and the Invisibility of Nature - Emergence Magazine article by Michael McCarthy
  22. 22 December 10, 2020
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 22.2 JIM VIBERT: COVID's ill wind may blow some good for climate crisis - The Guardian article by Jim Vibert
  23. 23 December 9, 2020
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 23.2 Ending UK’s climate emissions ‘affordable’, say official advisers - The (U.K.) Guardian article by Damian Carrington
  24. 24 December 8, 2020
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 24.2 The CBC is a Pandemic Lifeline. The CRTC Should Treat it Like One - Policy Magazine article by Percy Downe
  25. 25 December 7, 2020
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  26. 26 December 6, 2020
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  27. 27 December 5, 2020
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 27.2 Capital budget passes by healthy margin as fall session wraps up - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby
  28. 28 December 4, 2020
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  29. 29 December 3, 2020
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  30. 30 December 2, 2020
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 30.2 The death of Darth Vader - The Guardian article by Colby Cash
  31. 31 December 1, 2020
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 31.2 LETTER: Equal access for vaccine - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

December 31, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Local food for New Year's Eve, New Year's and the weekend:

Charlottetown's Farmers' Market open, 9AM-2PM, today (and NOT Saturday, January 2nd). 

Farmacy and Fermentary (Heart Beet Organics) open 1-6PM for kombucha and local goods, 152 Great George Street, Charlottetown.

Some New Year's Eve retrospects, with a positive spin:

an excerpt from a note from activist Avi Lewis and The Leap:

If your inbox is anything like mine, you have a dozen emails that start something like, “2020 is almost over and good riddance!” Or, “2020: Worst. Year. Ever.” 

Ok, fine, 2020 has been horrible. 

But one thing has been keeping me going: all of you. Despite all of the fear and suffering, seeing the uprisings of 2020, people in the streets demanding justice has given me so much hope, and  conviction, that we can win a better world for all.

2021 is going to be the fight of our lives, and at the Leap, we’re fighting to ensure that care work, the low-carbon life-saving work that holds our communities together, is valued and that care workers are treated with dignity and respect.


And more good news:

Samara Centre for Democracy describes its year's work, here (LINK ONLY):'s-highlights-from-2020
improving democracy in Canada.  It won't reprint well, so best to go to the link and shee see all that they were doing.

Consider organizations like this for charitable giving, and consider publications offering year-end deals today for subscriptions (like the National Observer, details here:

There are a spate of recent letters in The Guardian, smoting some of our provincial leaders for poor decisions, demanding access to shared natural resources, and pretty much being curmudgeoney.  Maybe New Year's wishes for all to acknowledge the simplicity and truth in what are more than bromides of being kind and patient with each other, and of getting out and absorbing the beauty, and fragility, of our natural world in our little corner of it. 

Best wishes to you all.

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Verdi’s Rigoletto, until 3:30PM this afternoon
Starring Christiane Eda-Pierre, Isola Jones, Luciano Pavarotti, Louis Quilico, and Ara Berberian. From December 15, 1981. Everybody loves the Duke (Paravotti), except his jester, Rigoletto.

Because this is from Europe, it's afternoon our time--- 5PM today
New Year's Eve Gala

The Met rings in the new year with a gala performance featuring a dazzling quartet of Met stars—sopranos Angel Blue and Pretty Yende, and tenors Javier Camarena and Matthew Polenzani—live from the Parktheater im Kurhaus Göggingen, in Augsburg, Germany, a stunning example of neo-Baroque architecture. The program will include arias, duets, and ensembles from Donizetti to Puccini, as well as arrangements of operetta and Neapolitan songs.
Ticketed event -- details here.

Verdi’s Ernani, tonight 7:30PM until Friday about 6:30PM
Starring Leona Mitchell, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, and Ruggero Raimondi. From December 17, 1983.  "Nobleman turned bandit", love quadrangle, so sad.

saving the best for last, and with heartfelt thanks to Todd MacLean for a whole year of sharing this positive, big-hearted gift of his Global Chorus project with us again:

Global Chorus essay for December 31 Maya Angelou

There’s a hospital in my town that has the Maya Angelou Women’s Health & Wellness Center in it, and in each wing there are statements which say, “I promise to treat every patient as if she’s a valued member of my family.” “I promise to treat the hospital as my home, and respect it and keep it clean.” This is what we should be doing on our planet. Because this is all we have, as far as we can be sure. We may have walked on the moon, but nobody is colonizing another planet. So we should be careful with how we treat this planet, since it is not only our home now, and has been the home of our ancestors, but is going to be the home of our children to come. And so we should be careful with it – be careful with the temperature, and we should look after ourselves and our home with respect and gratitude: to have a constant attitude of gratitude.

We really have enough food on this planet to feed everybody alive. We don’t need to have somebody starving in order for us to give. We are encouraged by every religious tract, whether the Bible, or the Talmud, or the Torah, or the Bhagavad Gita, to be respectful and care for each other. And that is whether we look alike – whether we are caring for somebody who looks like us and speaks our language or not. Until we evolve into a group which has enough courage to really care about each other, we will continue to be at odds.

When I speak of love, I speak of that condition in the human spirit so profound that it encourages us to develop courage – courage enough to care for somebody else, who may not look like us, who may call God a different name if they call God at all. I don’t speak of sentimentality when I’m speaking of love. I speak of that condition which may be that which holds the stars in the firmament. That causes the blood to run orderly through our veins. It’s a powerful condition. It crosses ignorance. It spans the mountains and the rivers. It dares us, and allows us, to look after someone else’s children. To care about the people who are yet to come. That, to me, is love. And this is our way forward.

     — Maya Angelou (1928-2014), poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker and civil rights activist

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 30, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Fruit tree orders deadline today:

from the P.E.I. Farm Centre Legacy Garden:

We are making a wholesale order for fruit trees from Southern Ontario and want to share the benefit of a reduced rate with those who are looking to plant fruit trees in the spring on PEI! The varieties that we have selected are known to be disease resistant, cold hardy, and grow well in backyards, orchards, and farmland! These trees will make a great Christmas present this season!

Even if you don’t have space for a tree, there is always space in the Legacy Garden where you can see your tree thrive in our edible forest, or in our Memorial Garden (where trees and bushes, and plants can be planted in memory of a loved one).

The deadline for orders is December 30th, 2020, and the trees are expected arrive in PEI in mid-June. Apple trees will arrive on PEI about 10 inches tall and are $12/tree + HST. Peach trees will arrive 4-5 feet tall and are $30/tree + HST.

You can place your order here:

New Year Farmers' Markets:
Tomorrow, Thursday, December 31st, 9AM-2PM
(no Market Saturday this weekend)

Saturday, January 2nd, 9AM-2PM
(no market before New Year's)

Considerations for places for Year-end donations for tax receipts (if that is something that you can take advantage of) :

multitude of nature/climate change organizations (local, national and internation)....
social justice organizations
political parties
PEI Symphony Orchestra or other cultural organizations

Next door

Nova Scotia conservation group buys 220-hectare wildland outside Halifax - CTV News post

Published by The Canadian Press on Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

HALIFAX -- The recent purchase of a huge swath of land just outside Nova Scotia's capital city marks a "huge win" for conservation efforts in the province, according to a local environmental advocate.

On Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Nature Trust said it had successfully completed the purchase of the Blue Mountain Wilderness Connector, a 220-hectare private plot of wildland west of Halifax.

The group's executive director, Bonnie Sutherland, said the purchase will help protect thousands of untouched hectares of wilderness from future industrial, residential and logging development. "It helps to provide that landscape level connectivity that's so important for the long term for nature to survive and thrive," Sutherland said Tuesday. "It's a huge win for conservation."

The group said the formerly private land is located between two sections of the provincially protected Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area. The newly purchased plot of land includes forests, bogs and wetlands and supports over 150 different bird species

Sutherland said the group raised $2.8 million over the last two years to complete the purchase, which went through in mid-December. Funding partners included the city Halifax, the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust and the Canada Nature Fund.

The protection of the area is a crucial step in warding off encroaching urban expansion, Sutherland said. "If you look at an aerial view, you can see that there are intense developments right up to the edges of what's been protected in almost every direction so those pressures are real."

The protected area will only be open for "non-mechanized recreation," including hiking, paddling and swimming, Sutherland added.

Momentum for the protection of nature has been steadily growing over the past decade, she said. "Twenty-five years ago, there was just a sense that we have tons of nature and we don't really need to protect it," she said.

Sutherland's group said it plans to protect more than 12,000 hectares across the province by the end of 2023.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2020.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Puccini’s Tosca, today until 6:30PM
Starring Shirley Verrett, Luciano Pavarotti, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Conlon. From December 19, 1978.

Verdi’s Rigoletto, tonight 7:30PM until tomorrow afternoon
From December 15, 1981. " Luciano Pavarotti is the elegant, reckless Duke of Mantua whose betrayal of the innocent Gilda (Christiane Eda-Pierre) leads to a tragic ending. Louis Quilico plays Rigoletto, the court jester and Gilda’s father, who has dedicated his life to keeping his daughter away from the Duke—only to have her sacrifice her own life for the villainous nobleman."  It is hard to think of the buoyant Pavarotti as a "villainous" anything, but he still sings so beautifully.....

Global Chorus essay for December 30
David W. Orr

No sane gambler would bet on us. Armed and dangerous, we are loading the atmosphere with carbon as fast as we can, thereby changing the climatic and ecological conditions necessary to our own survival. The reasons are said to be economic necessity, but to paraphrase Thoreau, what good is a booming economy if you don’t have a decent planet to put it on?

For a species pleased to call itself Homo sapiens our situation is ironic. Many scientists saw the peril decades ago, but the powers that be were deaf to warnings and dumb to opportunities.

That too is ironic because the knowledge and capacity to build a sunshine-powered, ecologically resilient civilization has grown in pace with the dangers. It is possible to power civilization by efficiency and sunlight, feed humanity sustainably, eliminate waste and build cities in harmony with Nature. Such things are not just technically possible and economically feasible, they are moral imperatives.

Are there grounds for optimism? Not if you know enough. Are there reasons for despair? Not if you care enough. But in contrast to optimism or despair, hope requires us to act in ways that change the odds. And everywhere on Earth, people are rising to the challenge. They are dreaming, planting, building, tending, caring, healing, organizing and restoring. They are working from the bottom up to lay the foundation for decent and durable communities and societies. And someday, on a farther horizon, our descendants will know that this was, indeed, humankind’s “finest hour.”

     — David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor, Oberlin College, Ohio

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 29, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

A year's end often brings thoughts of resolutions, and since most resolutions of the traditional type (get out and be more social, get to the gym more, make more money) were laughable in retrospect of 2020, the Climate Change-minded Umbra at Grist last week looked at some other old resolutions and reprints this, and though it is from 2018, and United States-focused, perhaps you will find some use, and smiles:

(Umbra writes:) I dug through the archives for this one and I think I found a good — and timely — option. Behold, from 2018:

Call the people you care about more often. In these terrible modern times, we have a million ways to reach the people we love. The phone is the best one, sorry: It requires little to no effort, you get to hear a friendly voice, you have to engage in real! listening! conversation, and people are generally so afraid of this communication tool that your embracing it will come off as an extra-special achievement. If you, like me, sent 17 million texts in the past year but made only a few phone calls a month, maybe you want to call more.

... and, you could call your elected officials. They’re just like your family, except they hate you. Just kidding! 2017 saw a 
massive uptick in calls to political leaders, because so many people were so angry about so many pieces of legislation..... Even if your call on a passion issue doesn’t sway a particular vote, it does communicate that you’re <ticked off> enough not to vote for that official in the next election, and that can change things. And your call on super mundane issues that actually matter — local environmental regulations, for example — can change minds.

A vaccine doesn’t guarantee that life will return to the packed-parties and intimate-hangouts normal of 2019, and the end of the Trump administration doesn’t mean that meaningful climate legislation is guaranteed. Call your congresspeople, your state legislators, your city councilbro, your mayor’s office ... call everybody! And maybe get an unlimited data plan!

Some troubling global water news from earlier this month, but being aware of it, we can assert this is not acceptable (and perhaps make a few calls about it!)

Vandana Shiva and Maude Barlow Decry Move to Trade in Water Futures - T post

Posted by  on Friday, December 18, 2020

We are horrified that on December 7, 2020, CME Group – the world’s largest financial derivatives exchange company – launched the world’s first futures market in water, opening up speculation from financiers and investors seeking to profit from the planet’s water crisis. The new futures market is linked to the spot water market in California, a major food producer living in the shadow of perpetual drought.

We deplore this development and urge people and governments everywhere to reject it. The planet is running out of accessible clean water because humans have polluted, over-extracted, diverted, dammed, and mismanaged it. We have seen water as a resource for our profit and convenience and not as the essential element for all life that we have a duty to protect. Already, private corporations and investors have commodified water through the privatization of water services, the bottled water industry, land and water grabs and water rights given to extractive industries such as energy and mining.

In fact, the chemical and water-intensive model of industrial agriculture in California and many other parts of the world is a major driver of the water crisis. Commodifying water is not the solution. Protecting and conserving water and sharing it equitably is an ecological and justice imperative so that the right to water of all human beings and non-human beings is guaranteed. The Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth is clear that water and nature have inherent rights. Commodifying water as is proposed would violate this pledge.

If water is put on the open market like oil and gas, it will lead inevitably to rising water prices in a world desperately in need of water for life. Nearly two million children die every year due to dirty water – a situation made more critical in a time of Covid when half the world’s population lacks access to a place to wash their hands with soap and warm water. This in itself is a travesty, but to imagine that wealthy hedge fund speculators and faceless derivatives gamblers will have the right to drive up the price of water for their own profit is totally unacceptable and must be stopped.

Ten years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing that clean water and sanitation are basic human rights. The move to commodify water on Wall Street directly threatens these human rights and puts billions in jeopardy.

We demand that people everywhere and all governments reject the commodification of water and its sale on the open market and recognize that water is a public trust and a human right in law and practice for all time.

Maude Barlow is a Canadian activist and author. She is the founder of the Blue Planet Project, co-founder of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch.

Dr. Vandana Shiva Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental leader, a physicist, ecologist, activist, editor, and author of numerous books.


More about The Blue Planet Project:

Old Movie Department:

Today, Tuesday, December 29th:

The Wizard of Oz, broadcast at 4PM, CBC TV


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Two classic performances from the 1970s with the truly legendary Luciano Pavarotti.

Puccini’s La Bohème, today until 6:30PM
Starring Renata Scotto, Maralin Niska, Luciano Pavarotti, Ingvar Wixell, and Paul Plishka. From March 15, 1977.

Puccini’s Tosca, tonight 7:30PM until Wednesday around 6:30PM
Starring Shirley Verrett, Luciano Pavarotti, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Conlon. From December 19, 1978.

Global Chorus essay for December 29 Guujaaw

what of the Beast
that has no face
no head
no heart within
the motherless Beast
though born of man
became his master

the wily Beast
revels in our selfish desires
while guiding its makers
to their own demise

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

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

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

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

to the Beast we say
Enough, you loathsome error
you bring no peace
you bring no love
be of with you

We are of life
precious life
it is time for living
     — Guujaaw
Guujaaw is a Raven of the Haida Nation.

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 28, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Local Food this week:

Charlottetown Farmers' Market to Go *online* ordering is *closed* this week.

Charlottetown Farmers' Market will be open Thursday, December 31st, from 9AM-2PM.
and *not open* Saturday, January 2nd, 2021.

Regular ordering and Market hours resume the week of January 4th, 2021.

When local food is not really local and some might argue not really food....

This article from last week is labeled, and as an 18-minute read, it says, and a very good overview of an area that doesn't get much oversight, and is so close to home, behind closed doors.  I don't often tell people what to eat and what not to, but let's go with the point that there may be better ways of getting protein than "farmed-raised" Atlantic salmon, GMO or not.

(and apologies for formatting issues on either computer or phone versions of this newsletter.  Going to the original The Narwhal article may help.)


Frankenfish or food of the future? The risks and rewards of Canada’s genetically engineered salmon - The Narwhal article by Sara Cox

Published on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Some Canadians with an appetite for salmon may have already consumed the world’s first genetically modified food animal without even knowing it. As the aquaculture industry tinkers with fish DNA to more efficiently feed the world’s growing population, critics say we’re moving too far, too fast without adequate transparency

This is the second part of The Narwhal’s three-part series on the future of sustainable salmon.

On Prince Edward Island, anchored between Rollo Bay and a sea of potato fields, the first genetically engineered salmon raised in Canada for food are swimming in tanks.  

Grown in a land-based containment system, they look like any other Atlantic salmon: silvery, pale-bellied and speckled on top. But hidden in their DNA is a growth hormone gene from chinook salmon — spliced into genetic coding from ocean pout, an eel-like fish — that allows them to grow to full size at twice the speed.

When the salmon are harvested early in the new year, they will be shipped to seafood distributors, finding their way to restaurants, hotels, hospitals and grocery stores. Yet Canadians munching on salmon tacos or salmon au gratin won’t have a clue they are eating the world’s first genetically modified food animal. Unlike the European Union and the United States, Canada does not require GMO foods to be labelled — and the fast-growing fish are no exception. 

AquaBounty Technologies, the U.S.-based biotechnology company pioneering the genetically engineered salmon, says it is “combining the goodness of nature with the power of science and technology.” 

“We believe savouring your favourite fish and helping save the planet should be one and the same,” the company’s website says. “And that’s why we believe in using science and technology to help solve global problems, like food scarcity and climate change.” 

AquaBounty markets the salmon as disease- and antibiotic-free, saying its product comes with a reduced carbon footprint and no risk of pollution of marine ecosystems compared to traditional sea-cage farming

But others have a wildly different view of the AquaBounty salmon, grown with technology called AquAdvantage, a name that would be at home on the pages of a dystopian Margaret Atwood novel. 

“It’s Frankenfish,” says Charlie Sark, a member of the Mi’kmaq First Nations and professor in the school of climate change and adaptation at the University of P.E.I. “It’s science fiction. Just because we’ve created a machine that can splice genes together, does it mean we should do it?” 

Even if the engineered salmon are raised only in land-based containment systems, Sark and others say human error could lead to the genetic contamination of threatened wild salmon stocks, underscoring that the federal government’s behind-closed-doors approval of AquAdvantage fish has far reaching consequences for Indigenous Rights and nature.

“Salmon are sacred,” Sark says in an interview. “You just can’t change the genetics of an animal that Indigenous peoples have used for thousands of years without first consulting them.” 

Genetically modified salmon eggs approved by Harper government

Genetically engineered salmon eggs were approved for land-based production in Canada in 2013, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were in power. 

The government only permitted one company, AquaBounty, to produce the eggs — and only at a P.E.I. facility. Today, the Rollo Bay operation is also the sole supplier of genetically engineered Atlantic salmon eggs for the company’s land-based salmon farm in Albany, Indiana, which planned to send salmon to market late this year or early in 2021.

The eggs had their genesis in a laboratory at Newfoundland’s Memorial University, where scientist Garth Fletcher and his colleagues isolated the anti-freeze gene in ocean pout, which can survive year-round in near-freezing waters.

They replaced the coding region in the middle of the anti-freeze gene — unlike in other fish, the gene doesn’t turn off seasonally — with the growth hormone gene from chinook salmon (the scientists used chinook because it was readily available at the time). 

Then the team injected the new coding sequence into Atlantic salmon eggs. “It took a while for us not to kill the eggs,” Fletcher, head of the ocean sciences department, says in an interview. 

After tweaking their technique, Fletcher and his colleagues were excited to discover the genetic trait was passed on through breeding. And then came another exciting finding for the team; the rapidly-growing salmon reached maturity in just under two years, compared to three. 

“It was an enormous change in the rate of growth,” Fletcher says, noting that cross-breeding has further enhanced growth speed. “It’s the same with any crop, if you can replant land or get another set of fish earlier than normal, you have increased productivity.”

By comparison, regular Atlantic salmon grown in optimal conditions in Atlantic Sapphire’s land-based facility in Florida reach maturity in 22 to 24 months.

Fletcher doesn’t consider the genetically modified salmon to be much different than new fruit and vegetable products created through cross-breeding, such as the Cosmic Crisp apple that has a longer shelf life or Depurple, a purple cauliflower sweeter than the typical white variety.

He says food companies are “getting rid of everything that doesn’t meet their standards in terms of a commercial product. You’re actually changing nature … all these kinds of things are unnatural if you want to call it that.” 

“There is a problem with food production in the world. I know some of it is political, but if I have an idea or a technique that might be able to help with food production then I’m all for it, as a scientist.”

The need for protein is growing in tandem with the world’s rising population, expected to top nine billion before 2025. Salmon, which have Omega-3 fatty acids and are a good source of minerals and vitamins, are increasingly in demand. But the on-going decline of wild stocks is constricting supply. And as tighter regulations make open net pen salmon farming more challenging, investors — including AquaBounty — are turning to land-based salmon farming.

Fletcher’s team, which was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, partnered with a small company that morphed into AquaBounty, largely bankrolled by billionaire biotech entrepreneur Randall Kirk

When AquaBounty set up its research and development facility on Prince Edward Island to produce the genetically modified eggs, the federal government did not permit the fish to be grown to adult size, so eggs were shipped to an AquaBounty research and development facility in Panama.

Once Health Canada approved the salmon for consumption in 2016, Ottawa allowed AquAdvantage salmon grown in the Panama facility to be sold to unwitting Canadian consumers.

The first batch of genetically modified Atlantic salmon from the Panama facility arrived at Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport in 2017, according to import documents obtained by the Quebec food watchdog group Vigilance OGM. More than 4.5 tonnes of AquAdvantage salmon subsequently flowed, unlabelled and untraceable, into Canada’s food supply.

“There is no mandatory labelling for consumers in the grocery stores and there’s very little transparency, and yet we find ourselves in the position of eating the world’s first genetically engineered animal,” says Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, which represents 16 groups working on issues related to genetic engineering in food and farming.

Sharratt, who has an extensive background working as a researcher and campaigner for groups involved in genetic engineering and global justice issues, says the lack of transparency extends to Ottawa’s decision-making process for approving the engineered salmon.

Starting in 2019, following a federal risk assessment, Ottawa allowed the salmon to be raised to maturity at the Rollo Bay facility, which also produces conventional salmon eggs, triggering concerns about a potential mix-up.

The biotechnology action network has tried to obtain information about the “behind closed door” approval process, Sharratt says, but information AquaBounty submitted to the government is confidential and the network’s questions haven’t been satisfactorily answered.

“The information that’s used to decide the safety of genetically engineered food is submitted by the companies that want approval,” she says. “Very little of that information is publicly available. Very little is peer-reviewed.” 

The absence of information is all the more concerning, she says, because of the broad — and also unknown — implications of tampering with nature and the precedents it sets. 

“What we have here is potentially a very profound shift in the way we view food and where it comes from. Do fish come from the ocean, do they come from our rivers, do they come from an ecosystem? Or do they come from an on land factory? … What decisions are we making that further threaten the future of wild salmon?” 

Nature Canada senior advisor Mark Butler says the federal government has opened a Pandora’s box by approving the development and sale of genetically engineered salmon and eggs without a robust public discussion about the potential consequences.

“You could say, ‘what’s wrong with pink blue jays or blue cardinals?’ We are now applying engineering to the genome to the very blueprint of life. It has big implications and this technology is racing along. I think it gets at the whole issue of what’s wild and what’s nature, and where do humans stop and where does nature start?”

“Do we have the right to edit the genome of a wild species from an Indigenous perspective? This raises some pretty fundamental questions and challenges.”

Salmon are sacred to Indigenous peoples like the Mi’kmaq, and are part and parcel of food security and food sovereignty, Sark points out. They are also an integral part of cultures through ceremony, song, oral history and art. As wild stocks decline, it has a reverberating impact on the physical and spiritual health of Indigenous communities. 

Sark says Indigenous peoples should have been properly consulted and Ottawa should have obtained their free, prior and informed consent before approving genetically engineered salmon.

“As a Mi’kmaq I have a right to food, I have a right to fish lobster, I have an inherent right to access and harvest fish out of the ocean or out of the streams, the brooks, the rivers, the lakes. The Canadian government cannot extinguish that right.”

He wonders what would happen if he caught an Atlantic salmon that somehow contained DNA owned by AquaBounty. 

“I’m holding a salmon that I’ve caught in my traditional waters, that my ancestors have used for thousands of years, but because it’s an escaped salmon or an inbred salmon from this genetically modified [organism], is it illegal for me to hold that fish and eat it without paying AquaBounty?” Sark asks. “Where does this end?” 

Kris Hunter of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, a science and advocacy organization dedicated to conserving and restoring wild Atlantic salmon, says genetically engineered salmon could be an ecological disaster for wild salmon, especially if rules change and they become the fish of choice for the farmed salmon industry.

He points to the escape of hundreds of thousands of Atlantic salmon from fish farms in B.C. and Washington state. In December 2019, more than 20,000 salmon escaped from a Mowi fish farm near Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island, while more than 160,000 Atlantic salmon escaped from a Cooke Aquaculture fish farm in Washington State in 2018, leading to a state ban on raising Atlantic salmon in open net pens. 

Some escaped Atlantic salmon have been found in the salmon-bearing Fraser River, heightening worries that they will compete for food and habitat given evidence that the farmed fish can naturally reproduce.

“Our concern would be if these animals were to get out and what impact that would have on the wild fishery? The wild fishery is not doing well right now.”

Karen Wristen, executive director of Living Oceans Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Canada’s oceans, is uneasy about how the fast-growing genetically modified salmon might behave in the wild, possibly mating with endangered salmon populations, preying on wild juvenile salmon and outcompeting wild salmon and other ocean creatures for food. “You can picture it wanting to hoover up everything in its path.” 

And if the salmon farming industry transitions to land-based containment systems, Wristen and Butler say there will be pressure on companies from investors to embrace genetically engineered salmon, to keep costs in line with competitors.

‘Systems fail and accidents happen’

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon in 2010, on the condition that the salmon be sterile. Sterility is achieved through a process that creates a condition called triploidy — the salmon have three chromosome sets instead of two — that is between 99.5 and 99.8 per cent effective. 

“It’s an important barrier, but not a fool proof barrier,” Butler notes. For every 10,000 salmon the company produces, between 20 and 50 fish will be fertile.

Hunter, director of programs for P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, says the Atlantic Salmon Federation has met with AquaBounty and the company appears to be doing due diligence to make sure the genetically engineered salmon don’t escape. 

“Our concern is an accident. A truck goes off the road carrying these things as it’s crossing a salmon river, and the next thing you know these fish are out and they’re breeding amongst other fish populations and causing untold damage.” 

Genetically engineered salmon eggs could also get mixed up with the regular salmon eggs harvested at the same AquaBounty facility and end up at an open net pen farm, Hunter points out. The company isn’t currently permitted to sell the eggs to open net pen operations in Canada, but Hunter says that could always change.

“Systems fail and accidents happen. Once the genie is out of the bottle you can’t put it back in … We think this is a very risky enterprise. And we don’t necessarily see the benefit.”

In an emailed response to questions from The Narwhal, AquaBounty president and CEO Sylvia Wulf said the company does not plan to supply AquAdvantage salmon eggs to open net pen farms and will produce the genetically modified salmon in its own land-based facilities.

AquaBounty’s land-based farm in Albany, Indiana, plans to send its first salmon to market later this year or early next year, depending on demand, which has been dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company also plans to build a much larger facility in Mayfield, Kentucky, that will produce 10,000 metric tonnes of salmon a year, about eight times more than its Indiana plant.

Wulf says all of the company’s market production salmon are female and sterile, which means they cannot mate with each other or with other Atlantic salmon. In addition to the biological barrier, she says the company’s land-based containment systems are equipped with physical barriers, including screens, grates, netting, pumps and chemical disinfection, to prevent escape of salmon at all life stages, from eggs to full size.

And AquaBounty will address egg mix-up concerns by ensuring that eggs are from conventional salmon before sending them out to farms, says Wulf, who declined a telephone interview.

Sark calls the secretive federal approval process of AquAdvantage salmon a “coup d’etat,” noting that the
Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which regulates genetically modified organisms, hasn’t been updated for 20 years and doesn’t have the bandwidth to consider genetically modified salmon.

The act, according to Butler, is a “really complicated and obtuse piece of legislation,” while Wristen says as challenging to decipher as the often maligned income tax act.

“Our act is outdated,” Sark says, “and I would say extremely colonial in its essence that it can’t consider genetic modification of animals that Indigenous people to a large extent still rely on, or use for ceremonial purposes, which is a matter of our sovereignty. Using the animals for sustenance is a matter of food security. The role it plays in ceremony and in culture and identity is a matter of our food sovereignty.”

In the September Speech from the Throne, the Trudeau government pledged to update the environmental protection act. But Butler says senior officials in Environment Canada have indicated the changes will be minor, much to the dismay of those considering the impacts of genetically engineered salmon.

“This is a first in the world,” Sark says. “You’re approving it to go ahead. And your legislation is inadequate and you’re not considering making it adequate? Wait a second. Isn’t that your job? Isn’t that the role of government … to make sure our health and security is looked after? Isn’t that the ultimate number one goal when you sit there in Parliament… to look after our interests, not the economic interests of one company?”

U.S. groups sued FDA for approving engineered salmon

In 2016, the Centre for Food Safety and the environmental law organization EarthJustice sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approving genetically engineered salmon, acting on behalf of a broad coalition of environmental, consumer, commercial and recreational fishing organizations and the Quinault Indian Nation.

In early November, a U.S. federal court judge ruled the Food and Drug Administration failed to analyze the risks to endangered salmon from an escape and to take into account the full extent of plans to grow the genetically modified salmon in the U.S. and around the world.

The court also ruled that the Food and Drug Administration’s conclusion that genetically engineered salmon could have no possible effect on endangered wild Atlantic salmon stocks was wrong, and violated the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

While Judge Vincent Chhabria found the current risk to wild salmon stocks is low, he said the possibility of exposure increases with each new facility built.

“Understanding the harm that could result from that exposure — and having an explanation of it on record — will only become more important,” the judge said, ordering the FDA to go back to the drawing board to sketch out a full explanation of potential environmental consequences.

The decision, watched closely by Nature Canada, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and other groups in Canada, was celebrated by Earthjustice and its clients. “Our efforts should be focused on saving the wild salmon populations that we already have — not manufacturing new species that pose yet another threat to their survival,” Earthjustice managing attorney Steve Mashuda said in a media statement.

Earthjustice cited studies showing there is a high risk for genetically engineered organisms to escape into the natural environment, and that genetically engineered salmon can crossbreed with native fish. Genetically engineered crops commonly cross-pollinate or establish themselves in nearby fields or the wild — a process known as transgenic contamination. The contamination episodes have cost American farmers billions of dollars over the past decade, Earthjustice noted.

“In wild organisms like fish, it would be even more damaging.”

Wulf says the company is disappointed with some of the judge’s conclusions but remains confident “in the robust scientific studies and review” that led to the 2015 FDA approval of AquaBounty salmon.

“This case did not call into question FDA’s approval regarding the health and safety of our AquAdvantage salmon,” she wrote in her email. “The focus of this decision was on the potential environmental impacts, and the judge confirmed the ‘low’ threat to the environment of our salmon.”
The decision will not impact operations at the Prince Edward Island or Indiana facilities, according to Wulf, who says the company will work with the FDA on next steps and will “continue to evaluate the legal decision.”  

“The future of our domestic and global food supply will depend on innovation and technology and AquaBounty remains steadfast in our commitment to leading that charge.” 

Butler, who supports land-based salmon farming operations, has a piece of advice for AquaBounty: “Skip the genetically engineered salmon and just raise normal fish using the best techniques and the best genetic strains — and we won’t have a problem with your operation,” he says. 

“Most Canadians, if they had to assess the risks and benefits, would just say, ‘Give me a normal salmon.’ ”


Citizens' Alliance Board member Doug Millington is captured on film playing holiday music outdoors on his trombone with the "COVID Quartet", on page 2 of today's Guardian.  It's been a tough time for live music and fun to see creative people giving the gift to others in any (safe) way possible. It you enjoy listening to holiday music, even after the 25th, there are some selections at the Slideshow Bones YouTube channel, here.

Atlantic Skies for December 28th, 2020 to  January 3rd, 2021 - by Glenn K. Roberts

Closer Though Not Warmer 

When I tell people that Earth will actually be at its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) for the year on Jan. 2, 2021, they have a hard time understanding why, if we are closer to the Sun then, we don't have warmer weather. One would logically assume that, being approximately 10 million kilometers closer to the Sun, we would experience warmer weather. If the Earth's northern hemisphere was actually tilted towards the Sun at this time of the year, we would, indeed, experience much warmer weather. However, as the Earth travels along its orbital path around the Sun each year,  it wobbles slightly, its poles transcribing circles much like a child's spinning top, tilting about 21 degrees from perpendicular (relative to its orbital plane around the Sun), first towards the Sun, then away from it at different times of the year (which gives us our summer season and winter season respectively). Only at the two equinoxes (Vernal and Autumnal) are the Earth's two poles aligned at 90 degrees relative to Earth's orbital plane to the Sun. Earth's annual orbit around the Sun is not circular, but is, instead, elliptical in shape, with the Sun just slightly closer to one end of Earth's oval-shaped orbital path than the other.

As a consequence, on Jan. 2, 2021, Earth is on the end of the oval shape closest to the Sun, and, thus, at its closest point to the Sun. Because the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun at this point in time, it receives less direct sunlight; what it does receive is spread out at a lower angle over that portion of the hemisphere facing the Sun, resulting in less warmth, and the onset of colder weather. The southern hemisphere, however, being pointed towards the Sun at this time of the year, and approximately 10 million kms closer, receives a greater amount of direct sunlight, and enjoys their hot summer weather. Take heart though, as of Dec. 21 (the Winter Solstice), the days are now slowly getting longer, and, as the Earth continues its journey around the Sun, are working their way towards the Summer Solstice in June.

Early January brings the new year's first meteor shower. The Quadrantids peak on the overnight period of Jan. 2 -3, 2021. The radiant (the meteor shower's apparent point of origin in the night sky) lies between the constellations of Draco - the Dragon and Bootes - the Herdsman. This meteor shower (first observed in 1825) is actually named after a now defunct constellation - Quadrans Muralis (an angle measuring device used by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks) - removed from the official list of constellations in 1922 by the International Astronomical Union, but because the shower had already been named, the label Quadrantid was retained. The Quadrantids are debris from the asteroid 2003 EH1, discovered on Mar. 6, 2003, and subsequently found to be the parent source of the Quadrantid meteors. Unlike many meteor showers whose peak may last a couple of days (nights), that of  the Quadrantids lasts only about 6 hours. Begin to look for the Quadrantids once the radiant has cleared to NNE horizon just before midnight, with the best viewing likely to be during the pre-dawn period. Unfortunately, the waning, gibbous Moon will be up all night, and will wash out the fainter meteors. The Quadrantis hit the Earth's upper atmosphere at about 150,000 kms/hr, so you can expect to see some bright fireballs, despite the moonlight, especially away from city lights.

Mercury is still too close to the Sun to be seen. Venus (mag.-3.94) remains just visible in the eastern, pre-dawn sky, rising around 6:20 a.m., reaching 9 degrees above the southeast horizon before fading from view by about 7:35 a.m. Mars (mag. -0.32) is visible shortly after 5 p.m., 44 degrees above the southeast horizon, reaching an altitude of 54 degrees above the southern horizon by about 7:15 p.m., and remaining visible until about 1:10a.m. when it drops below 9 degrees above the western horizon. Jupiter and Saturn have now drifted far apart from one another in the western, post-sunset sky. Jupiter (mag. -1.96) is visible about 12 degrees above the southwest horizon shortly before 5 p.m., setting by about 6:30 p.m. Saturn is now too close to the Sun to be seen. 

The last Full Moon of the year occurs on  Dec. 30, 2020. It is often referred to as the "Cold Moon", the reasons for which are, no doubt , self-evident.

Until next week, clear skies, and may 2021 be a prosperous and healthy year for you all.


Dec. 30 - Full (Cold) Moon

Jan.   2 - Earth at perihelion (closest approach to the Sun)

            - Quadrantid meteor shower peak (after midnight)


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Verdi’s Falstaff, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Paolo Fanale, Ambrogio Maestri, and Franco Vassallo. From December 14, 2013.

Nightly Opera Streams, December 28–January 3

Pavarotti Week

This week of free streams celebrates the great Luciano Pavarotti, one of the greatest singers of all time. Featuring seven of the beloved tenor’s most memorable performances—from the inaugural 1977 Live from the Met telecast of La Bohème to broadcasts of Un Ballo in Maschera and L’Elisir d’Amore from 1991—the lineup traces Pavarotti’s extraordinary Met career. Explore the articles and resources below to expand your knowledge and enhance your experience as you enjoy the screenings.

Monday, December 28
Puccini’s La Bohème, from 7:30PM tonight until about 6:30PM Tuesday
Starring Renata Scotto, Maralin Niska, Luciano Pavarotti, Ingvar Wixell, and Paul Plishka. From March 15, 1977.
An amazing cast can transport you, even if you've seen this before and know how it ends.  And at just two hours, it's a good opera to watch, for people who don't think they like opera.

Global Chorus essay for December 28
Ta’ Kaiya Blaney

We humans have been travelling on a road of consumerism. Ever since the start of the industrial revolution (which brought about corporate colonization and environmental injustice), we’ve been witnessing signs saying “Stop,” “Dead End,” “Yield,” and “Wrong Way.” We continue to drive ahead despite the obvious. Our steering wheel is becoming weaker and weaker, and our brakes are becoming looser and less functional. Our warnings have been given. Someday we’ll drive of that cliff and fall, and then there’s no turning back. Presently, we’re still driving on that road, and our solutions lie right in front of our noses.

Our options for our future under the context of sustainability are vast and wide, yet we make no actions to officially begin using our alternatives. Why? Why do we continue to wait for change in our societies, led by authorities such as our prime ministers and officials? We are denying the fact that if we wait for change it may never come.

We must be the voice, for that is what we were given. Our role is to be the Healer, the Warrior and the Teacher. We must be the change for our many generations to come, and for our Mother Earth. The decisions made within the last few centuries shaped our society into what it is today. I believe that positive decisions made today to influence sustainability can also shape the society of the next generation and the generations to come. However, we need our actions to flow now, and our change needs to happen before our steering wheel slacks, and we plunge from the cliff. We still have time to turn around.

We have a voice to speak up, and a superpower called change. Let’s use it. :)

     —Ta’Kaiya Blaney
singer/songwriter, youth environmental activist

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 27, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

An event:

Christmas Bird Count in Hillsborough area today --  it is different this year, with details at Nature PEI

An article about a fabulous teacher and wonderful Bonshaw neighbour, Emma Boswell. 

'An enormous responsibility': COVID-19 through the eyes of Grade 3 teacher Emma Boswell - CBC online article by Sheehan Desjardins

Published on Thursday, December 24th, 2020, at CBC online

If you spoke with her high school teachers years ago, Emma Boswell says they would likely tell you they never expected her to enter the teaching profession. 

But if you spoke with Boswell herself now, you wouldn't be surprised she's currently teaching Grade 3 French immersion at West Kent Elementary in Charlottetown. 

Even through a phone call, her quick wit, gentle humanity and raw honesty is apparent as she reflects on what her life has been like since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Island classrooms in mid-March, only reopening them this fall.

"I actually made a joke about it," she told CBC News. "I jokingly said in a group [message] to my staff that if we shut schools down or had to do online learning, I was going to quit. 

"I very quickly went back and said, 'I don't really mean that,' because I realized I may be eating my own words in the future.'"

'Double the work'

As COVID-19 crawled its way across the globe, public schools on Prince Edward Island shut their doors on March 17 and eventually switched to online learning.

"I was devastated," said Boswell. "Maybe 'shock' is probably a better way of putting it.I guess I just didn't see it getting to that."

Suddenly Boswell was forced to figure out a way of teaching 8- and 9-year-olds online, and in a second language. "I had to make almost double the work, because I had to explain to parents what it was I was asking the kids to do in English, and then create the lessons in French," she said. 

Spencer the cat helps (Emma Boswell photo)
Teaching from home

Boswell quickly realized that creating virtual lesson plans wasn't the only uncharted territory she would have to navigate.

"It's very different face to face with a child," she said. "You want to still create a healthy boundary between the fact that they are still your students, even though they're at home and you're at home." 

Boswell recognized she wasn't the only one dealing with the additional stress of COVID-19. And with that, she said she had to learn to keep her conversation with her students "human" while maintaining those boundaries.

"Sometimes, especially in the pandemic situation, you're having conversations with people that are pretty raw," she said.

But Boswell there were pleasant aspects to working from home, like being able to take walks on her lunch hour. 

Boswell said the most difficult part of the pandemic for her has been the uncertainty. 

First, officials planned to reopen schools April 16 — but that date ended up being delayed almost five months. 

Having to plan to start up in September with no certainty over whether that might change at the last minute if an outbreak happened?

"That was very, very hard."

Few complaints from students

Public schools on the Island eventually re-opened the second week of September. Arrow stickers were plastered on school floors, maximum capacity signs hung outside bathrooms and, again, there was no other option than to adjust. 

"It's unbelievable how resilient and adaptive [students] have been and for the most part, with almost no complaints," said Boswell.

"Obviously, some of the things were harder for them to process, like not being able to see some of the other kids in the other grades."

Boswell said she has had to remind herself what she can control and what she can't. "You're not the one who decides whether they're at school or not. So that's not my responsibility," she said. 

'Enormous responsibility'

As someone entrusted with keeping so many children safe during a global pandemic, Boswell said she tries her best not to focus on it.

"It's an enormous responsibility and it can be almost like freezing," she said. "It almost, like, stops you in your tracks if you think too much about it. At least, for me it does."

Instead she's taking it one day at a time, thanking those at her school and remembering that she's not the only one working to educate children in the face of the pandemic. 

"There is not a single teacher, administrator, staff member…  not a single one of us who doesn't come to work remembering the importance of what we're doing and the responsibility of it."

With the holidays finally here, Boswell said she has been looking forward to a break.

"I'm just really excited to have a little bit of time, because it has felt absolutely like non-stop," she said. "It feels almost like it hasn't stopped since March." 


Some not-so-light reading for a chilly Sunday:


The real cure for COVID is renewing our fractured relationship with the planet - The Globe and Mail article by James Maskalyk and Dave Courchene

Contributed to The Globe and Mail and published December 18, 2020

James Maskalyk is an emergency physician, associate professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and author of the forthcoming book Doctor: Heal Thyself. Dave Courchene is the founder of the Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness and chair of its National Knowledge Keepers’ Council.

If humanity is to endure, the coming months must hold healing, not just of populations across the globe from the coronavirus, but of the Earth herself. As is true of many zoonoses (diseases that jumped from animals), this virus emerged from pressure humans put on a global ecosystem.

A lack of healthy, natural habitat weakens the immune systems of animals and the resulting sicknesses pass rapidly through them. Birds, prairie dogs, pigs, bats. With each infection, a chance for a virus to mutate into one that can sicken humans, and sometimes, global livelihoods. As such, a vaccine alone, no matter how effective, will not tip the balance toward health because COVID-19 is not a disease; it is a symptom of an exhausted planet. The renewal of a healthy relationship to our one shared mother, planet Earth, is the cure.

There is good news. We do not need to wait to determine how, because the answer is already here, and has been known for thousands of years. It is in the wisdom and sacred teachings of Indigenous people across the world. They have the deepest connection to the spirit of the Earth and its history, and from this intimacy, healing can occur.

This is neither speculation nor fantasy. A 2019 study from the University of British Columbia, looking at biodiversity in Canada, Australia and Brazil, found more species of birds, animals and amphibians on land managed by Indigenous people, even greater than in national parks. In the same year, a collaboration involving 50 countries and more than 500 scientists, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), concluded that human activity and the resultant lack of biodiversity allowed for five new diseases to emerge every year with the potential to infect humans. They noticed that Indigenous land, though it faced the same pressures, was eroding less quickly. Capturing their knowledge, and expanding their stewardship, was cited as necessary for a healthier world.

No one created the problems that threaten to overwhelm us from malice. Not the plagues, nor climate change, nor extinctions. They have occurred as side effects of a system whose rapid growth is both encouraged at all costs, and blind to natural limits.

If the Earth is as alive as both climate scientists and Indigenous peoples say, and like a body, kept well by a diversity of cells, deeply connected, then the medical diagnosis that fits most neatly our modern sickness is not an infection, but a malignancy. If unaddressed, it threatens to use every last joule of energy, not from need, but from appetite until only it, and a husk, remain. As the IPBES concluded, we must “decouple the idea of a good and meaningful life from ever-increasing material consumption.” This must be the priority of our Group of 20 leaders, who met recently to talk about “recovery.” The solution will not be found by beating back the symptoms so we might return to business as usual, but fanning the flame of aliveness of the beautiful and healthier world beyond them that is in retreat.

This past summer, at Turtle Lodge in Manitoba, a sacred Anishinaabe lodge of traditional teaching and wellness, Indigenous knowledge keepers from coast to coast met and discussed challenges affecting their communities and the world. Their main concern was a disconnect of people from the land and its lessons. In that rupture, like a break in the body’s immune system, sickness has crept. Opiate and alcohol addiction, anxiety and depression. COVID-19. We can learn from the line of inquiry of some traditional healers, who instead of asking their patients first about their pain, start with a more direct question: Who are you?

We have forgotten who we are. There is a remedy held in the gathering statement of the Turtle Lodge National Knowledge Keepers’ Council, and endorsed by Indigenous people across six continents. On Dec. 21, as the Earth reaches equilibrium and begins its solstitial yaw, we are all invited, Indigenous and those of us displaced from our traditional lands, to light a sacred fire, and keep it burning throughout the day. A fireplace, a candle. In its flame, the sun’s light, the Earth’s gifts, and our own spirit. It is the first step toward knowing our nature, and that of the planet, as not two, but one.

We are of the Earth, and have everything we need to heal. The cure for COVID-19 is here. It is us.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Lehár’s The Merry Widow, until 6:30pm tonight
Starring Renée Fleming, Kelli O'Hara, Nathan Gunn, Alek Shrader, and Sir Thomas Allen, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. From January 17, 2015.

Verdi’s Falstaff, 7:30PM until 6:30PM Monday
Starring Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Paolo Fanale, Ambrogio Maestri, and Franco Vassallo. From December 14, 2013.

Global Chorus essay for December 27
Xavier Rudd

If I think too much about this topic I find myself hitting a brick wall, as the issue is so layered and so vast. If I feel it out in my heart and my dreaming, certain messages arrive: if every human being on the planet began with taking even one minute in their day to simply reflect on the fact that we are of this Earth and not just on this Earth, would that alone start a swing towards healing the simple energetic connection between human and land? As we know, energy is in everything and its power is often overlooked. And by changing each individual’s energetic focus on the importance of our Earth, even without physically doing anything, it would be an important start in reigniting the lost sacred harmony between human and Earth, which has been the platform for so much environmental destruction.

We are seeing more and more little pockets of society taking their own initiatives to educate and implement sustainable living practices and to stand up with force against environmental threat. These ideals need to grow and expand and our children have to be somewhat reprogrammed. The power of the Internet in activism has proven to be amazing and really is all so new in the scheme of things. If we consider victories we’ve had at this point, it is exciting to imagine the power of our Earth guardians and the spread of imperative environmental education even only ten years from now. It is extremely important that active groups become more united around the planet. There is too much division and that alone is unsustainable. If we are to create conditions necessary for our own survival, we are going to need to build a massive syndicate greater than anything we’ve ever seen in order to be able to keep things on track.

Yes we have hope – hope is revealed daily in our magical ancient ecosystems still thriving around our Earth. Victories like the recent win at James Price Point in the Kimberley and the many sustainable-living practices growing daily show that we can do it. The big question is time and the balance of the scales between the healing and the destruction. Either way, I feel our great Mother will be okay eventually, whether she hosts humans or not, and that makes me smile.

     — Xavier Rudd, Australian singer, artist and activist

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 26, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Christmas Bird Counts look a little different this year, and Nature PEI has details on them here:

with Montague being today and Hillsborough area tomorrow.

A good day for an annual reading of this good essay:

The Ties That Bind by Russell Wangersky in his column "Eastern Passages"

Published on December 26th, 2015,

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 Saltwire's Media’s Atlantic regional columnist and author

Metropolitan Opera Saturday Afternoon at the Opera Radio Broadcast:
Mozart's The Magic Flute, Abridged English version, 2PM, CBC Radio Music 104.7FM.
More info

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Christine Schäfer, Alice Coote, Rosalind Plowright, Philip Langridge, and Alan Held, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. From January 1, 2008. Two hours of confection!

Lehár’s The Merry Widow, tonight 7:30PM until Sunday about 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Kelli O'Hara, Nathan Gunn, Alek Shrader, and Sir Thomas Allen, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. From January 17, 2015. About 2 1/2 hours

Global Chorus essay for December 26
Bill McKibben

        I decided some time ago that I was going to spend no more energy trying to figure out if things were going to come out alright or not. We’re engaged in a civilization-scale wager with enormously high stakes – my role, I think, is to get up every morning and try to change the odds of that wager a little bit, without any guarantee that it will come out okay.

        And there can be no guarantee, I fear, for we’ve done massive damage to the planet’s most important physical systems. The most important of these is the climate – after 10,000 quite stable years, the period that scientists call the Holocene, we’ve moved on to a new, much tougher period. How tough is still up to us, though the damage done so far (the melted Arctic, for instance) is sobering.

        In short, the single thing we must do is get off fossil fuel, and in a matter of years. Physically we could do it, but it would mean a colossal effort, in the face of the power of the coal, oil and gas industries, the richest and most powerful enterprises in human history. It would mean changing some of our rich-world notions about economic growth. And it would mean, most of all, trading in the hyper-individualism of high consumer society for tighter, closer communities. Cultural, technological, political change of large magnitude, in other words. There are days I think it can’t be done, and days – looking at the huge swath of organizing has managed to do in the last three years – when I think we might just figure out a way. But as I say, I’m not going to think any more about it. Back to work, all of us!

        — Bill McKibben, author, educator, environmentalist, founder of  

So much to think about, consider a year-end donation, etc., at the website:

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 25, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

 Merry Christmas and best holiday wishes to all.

A day to celebrate (including some local talent below), and hope for "peace, order and good governance"; and I appreciate your interest, hope, and works all the year though, to be part of that "public voice for positive change" that the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. strives to be

Here is sharing some favourite words and music:

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


Tanya wrote and performed poems in Mille Clarkes' 25 minute documentary Island Green, which would make great watching any time of the year, but with such focus on real family farming and gatherings, now might be a good time:

From a few years ago, too, from big-hearted Islander Keith Kennedy:

"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

And by way of CBC's Mainstreet with Matt Rainnie and producer Lee Rosevere, a solstice holiday song, by Dar Williams, "The Christians and the Pagans" (three minutes)

and about Dar:

And opera offerings, too:
Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Puccini’s La Bohème, today until 6:30PM
Starring Teresa Stratas, Renata Scotto, José Carreras, Richard Stilwell, and James Morris. From January 16, 1982.

Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, 7:30PM today until 6:30PM Saturday
Starring Christine Schäfer, Alice Coote, Rosalind Plowright, Philip Langridge, and Alan Held, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. From January 1, 2008.  So much fun for all ages  --- this version was just broadcast on Saturday, too, so great to be able to share the video. 

Global Chorus essay for December 25
Nelson Mandela

Note: For this December 25th entry, editor Todd MacLean wrote: "Applicable extracts from various public addresses have been arranged below to bring forth Nelson Mandela’s representation in Global Chorus".

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


essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 24, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Hello, all -- have a great day with perhaps some errands, getting ready for the Christmas holidays, good snacks and warm drinks, enjoying being around the people near you, and thankful for the real gifts we have.  All the slightly grumpy political stuff can wait a few days :-)

Charlottetown Farmers' Market is open from 9AM-2PM today.
There will NOT be a Market on Boxing Day Saturday, but there will be on-line orders next week, and a Market on New Year's Eve Thursday.

Though reindeer are presumably pretty busy this time of year, here is a short video from the website "The Kids Should See This" (TKSST) that shows one part of their incredible migration.  Three minutes long, from Public Broadcasting in the States.

Island Waste Management has not produced any new social media or guides for preparing for sorting trash for the holidays, but here are some notes ...adapted from previous years, and sorry for any inaccuracies.

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 11th, 2021, or dropped off at a IWMC when they are open during the month of January, or contact them to make other arrangements, like for getting your tree to hungry or bored goats

  • CARDBOARD (wavy) (including pizza boxes and 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 2017, but an extensive article from CBC on sorting tips during the holidays:

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia; until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, Christopher Maltman, Maurizo Muraro, and Paata Burchuladze, conducted by Michele Mariotti. From November 22, 2014.

Puccini’s La Bohème, tonight 7:30PM until Friday at 6:30PM
Starring Teresa Stratas, Renata Scotto, José Carreras, Richard Stilwell, and James Morris. From January 16, 1982.

Ah, nothing says Christmas Eve like the the most wonderful 1830's Parisian Christmas Eve packed stage scene in Act II (but followed by the most tragic story of Mimi and Rodolfo, and you'll tearfully wish they had a Basic Income Guarantee and treatment for consumption back then). 
This is a classic, gorgeous recording.  Two hours.

Besides Opera ;-)
Handel's Messiah, a free virtual sing-along, available anytime until Saturday, January 2nd, 2021.

Sing along at home to excerpts from the 2019 performance of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Cappella Festiva, with lyrics on the screen and commentary by Guest Conductor Christine Howlett.

Click to view day of show -

Facebook event details

The Nutcracker
ballet, a free virtual event, anytime today after 8PM out time, until Friday, January 1st, 2021.

Click to view day of show -

Premieres December 24 at 7pm EST. This video will be available to watch any time after its premier on our YouTube channel through January 1.

Presented by the New Paltz Ballet Theatre. Catch the performance filmed at the Bardavon in 2019! The New Paltz Ballet Theatre’s 22nd season presenting this classic holiday event featuring dancers from the New York City Ballet.

Facebook event details

Theatre Calgary is showing a three-person production of a play of Dickens' A Christmas Carol (ticketed, $25 per household for access for five days) with Stephen Hair and two others.  Mr. Hair has been Scrooge for over twenty years.
Theatre Calgary details

Global Chorus essay for December 24
Kira Salak

Do you think this world of ours must be changed? Or must we instead change ourselves?

When we lose our faith in God, in the goodness of the Universe, the world becomes a barren, heartless place, and we, its prisoners.

Hope for this world must start from within.

It must begin with a faith – a knowingness – that all that happens needs to happen. All of it. The “good,” the “bad.” Everything is evolving to the next level.

Through our triumphs, we bring grace to the world. Through our pains, our anguishes, we learn how to open our hearts to compassion.

It is compassion that will save this world, and nothing else.

It is compassion that will save all of us.

     — Dr. Kira Salak, writer, journalist, philosopher, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and extreme adventurer, author of The White Mary and The Cruelest Journey: 600 Miles to Timbuktu

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 23, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Event today:
Summerside Farmers' Market, 9AM-1PM

Book signing with Todd MacLean:
2-4PM, Green Eye Designs, Victoria Row in Charlottetown,
Todd MacLean, creator and editor of Global Chorus, will be signing copies of his new and first for children's book, Christmas at Squirrel Castle, but there will be no copies for sale (advance copies, due to publishing quirks in Covid times, are only available from Amazon)

Word that Eric P. MacPhail, of New Haven, has passed away.  I only had glimmers of experiences with him, but can tell he touched so many in his 94 years with this gentlemanly nature, love of community, curiosity, and kindness.

His funeral service will be live-streamed on Monday, December 28th. Details on his life and service planned are here, along with some stories of his generous nature:

Housing: from Jason Alward, president of the NDP-PEI; it's good to hear the NDP's voice, but this could be a bit more positive and offer more tangible solutions in addition to clarifying positions. Perhaps this could be the first of a series.

Opposition outrage is perplexing - The Guardian article by Jason Alward

Published on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

On Dec. 8, the outrage in the legislature by the official Opposition over the missing $9 million unspent dollars on social housing made for some great theatre and political hay. During that sitting, the Opposition protested the King government for failing to spend $9.4 million of last year’s allocation towards social housing, in exchange for paving roads.

The problem is, neither Greens nor Conservatives believe in true “social housing”. These parties have misconstrued the meaning of those words. Minister Ernie Hudson continues this mischaracterization by thinking social housing is the provision of rent supplements in privately-owned buildings and Green MLA Hannah Bell, it appears, is happy to join in the misleading narrative. Social housing traditionally is aimed at creating housing that is publicly owned and maintained on a non-profit basis and which can weather volatile market fluctuations. This was traditionally funded federally but was abandoned by the Chrétien government in the 1990s. Since then, the only area in which P.E.I. governments have seen fit to develop any public housing units is in the area of seniors’ housing.

Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker’s line of questioning appears noble, but in fact, the King government, by a small margin, has proposed more true social housing than the Greens. In 2019 King promised 100 public housing units of which some would be for families and nonsenior singles, while the Green party has never independently proposed public investment in non-profit housing for anyone. In fact, publicly owned housing was conspicuously absent from the Greens’ 2019 election platform. MLA Bell also spoke to social housing concerns on Tuesday, but her released Integrated Housing Framework from 2018 has no mention of social or not-for-profit housing. Ms. Bell, it appears, prefers to believe that the market will solve our problems. In a 2018 Vice article she stated that "the government needs to remove as many barriers as possible for developers “and then get the hell out of the way.”

The Green party is not alone in a lack of focus on publicly funded housing. Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have relied on developers to provide what they call “affordable” housing. Recently, this has been done through a suggested loan agreement period. Unfortunately, developers can pay and exit this agreement early and return to the high rental market prices. This pales in comparison to the 38,000 non-profit housing units being built under 60 year agreements in British Columbia.

We only have to look in the Charlottetown core to see the benefits of the government investments of 40-50 years ago. Multiple co-op and public housing units not only still provide essential shelter to low-income earners, but they were built in high-density, accessible areas which create viable livable communities.

But, unfortunately market based projects, not public investments are the focus of this legislature.

Jason Alward is the president of P.E.I.'s NDP


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Massenet’s Cendrillon, today until 6:30PM
Starring Kathleen Kim, Joyce DiDonato, Alice Coote, Stephanie Blythe, and Laurent Naouri, conducted by Bertrand de Billy. From April 28, 2018.  so sweet, and playful, taking the word "storybook" both figuratively and literally.

Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, tonight 7:30PM until Thursday about 6:30PM
Starring Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, Christopher Maltman, Maurizo Muraro, and Paata Burchuladze, conducted by Michele Mariotti. From November 22, 2014.  A wonderfully energetic Barber, even more so than usual!

and the real crux of the matter, forgiveness...

Global Chorus essay for December 23
Tara MacLean

Instead of continuing to hurt and hide from the devastation I saw in the world, I picked up a guitar and sang what I felt. I sang to others. This one act of choosing not to hide saved my life. It released me and paved the way for a life of connection. I went to protests, blockaded the logging trucks that were clear-cutting the ancient rainforests and spent two weeks in jail. I had never felt so free.

This is a crucial time for real connection. It is time to stop hiding. It is time to forgive. When Buffy Sainte-Marie was asked how she forgives those who have done so much harm to her people, she answered that we are a very young species, and in that understanding, she finds deep compassion for us all. This is an essential key to our survival.

It seems that humanity is in the “toddler” phase of its evolution. We have some words, but mostly we hit, bite and destroy. We are distracted all the time, mostly with our own suffering. We are blinded and trapped by anger, self-pity and righteousness. Mine! My view, my pain, my reactions! We crash into things, throw tantrums and create chaos.

What if growing up means learning that the pain in life is a necessary part of the experience of being alive? It exists to forge us into stronger, greater beings. We hurt each other, we hurt the Earth and we make mistakes. This is how we learn. Knowing that, we could even be grateful for the suffering and practise Radical Forgiveness. So forgiveness and compassion really are the same: seeing clearly that we are not separate.

Forgive yourself and everyone else. Let it go. We are all human and fallible. Stop crashing, start connecting. With this action you help to eliminate the seeds of war. This is a revolutionary act because it leads us out of ignorance. With an uncluttered mind, free from anxiety and self-pity, imagine what we could do! We could truly serve one another and the planet, united to face the bigger issues at hand. It is time for a revolution.

Find your words. Sing your song. Save the world.

       — Tara MacLean, singer/songwriter, mother, activist

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 22, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Local Food ordering:
Notice from
Eat Local PEI: Holiday and Winter Hours for on-line orders:
Order deadline Wednesday, December 23rd by 9AM
for pickup or delivery Christmas Eve Thursday, or pickups Sunday through Wednesday, December 30 (various options) 


Note that in January the order deadline will be Wednesday evening for pickup or delivery Friday-Sunday.


Federal NDP leader supports P.E.I. basic income pilot - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby

Published on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Federal New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh is the first federal party leader to support calls for implementing a basic income guarantee pilot program in P.E.I.

In an interview with The Guardian on Monday, Singh said his party campaigned on implementing a national basic income pilot project and said he would support such a pilot on P.E.I. Singh’s statements on the subject followed a report by all-party special standing committee on poverty, which called for implementing a full basic income guarantee (BIG) on P.E.I.

"We campaigned on a pilot project, so we absolutely support a pilot project," Singh said.  "P.E.I.'s legislature put forward that as an idea, and they asked for federal funding to support this. The federal government has been unresponsive."

The report from P.E.I.’s special committee on poverty recommended the provincial and federal governments partner to implement a full, Islandwide basic income guarantee program, which would offer a government income support cheque to as many as 50,238 Islanders at a yearly net cost of $260 million. The committee also recommended that, if federal funding could not be secured, the provincial government implement a three-year BIG pilot project on P.E.I., involving between 3,073 and 4,176 Islanders. This pilot project was estimated to have a yearly cost of between $19.5 million and $26.5 million per year.

But Singh did not specify whether his party would specifically push for funding for a basic income guarantee pilot in upcoming budget negotiations with Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.

"We've got a leverage that we can use to fight for things that people need. So, this would be one of the things that we believe is helpful. We would fight for this. We haven't drawn lines in the sand before we come to the critical point in the negotiations," Singh said.  "If there was legislation needed, we would support it. And now the ball is really in the Liberal government's court."

P.E.I. Social Development and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson has written to federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen asking for financial support for a basic income guarantee. Premier Dennis King has also said he will advocate for the program at the federal level, as have P.E.I. Liberal MPs Sean Casey and Wayne Easter.

Trudeau told a townhall earlier this month he did not currently “see a path to moving forward" on a BIG.

Singh emphasized a basic income pilot as opposed to a permanent Islandwide program. But Singh did not dismiss the special committee’s recommendation around a more expensive Islandwide basic income.

“I've already said we would absolutely do a pilot project. But the request to go beyond it is something we should look at, we should consider it," Singh said.

When asked whether he has spoken to Premier King, Casey or Easter about the P.E.I. proposal, Singh said he had not. He said P.E.I.’s representative on the NDP national council urged him to raise the issue.

Throughout the fall, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has increasingly spoken about tackling income inequality.

But, in response to questions about a P.E.I. basic income guarantee, an emailed statement provided by a press secretary for O’Toole did not specifically address the subject.

“While Justin Trudeau’s ideological approach has left too many Canadians behind, Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives will continue to put forward ideas to support hardworking Canadians as they strive to provide for their families,” the statement read.

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Mozart’s The Magic Flute, today until 6:30PM
Starring Ying Huang, Erika Miklósa, Matthew Polenzani, Nathan Gunn, and René Pape. From December 30, 2006.

Massenet’s Cendrillon, tonight 7:30PM until Wednesday about 6:30PM
Starring Kathleen Kim, Joyce DiDonato, Alice Coote, Stephanie Blythe, and Laurent Naouri, conducted by Bertrand de Billy. From April 28, 2018.

Both of these operas have short "graphic novel" type synopses found here for The Magic Flute and here for Cendrillon.  They are darling and really help people of all ages :-)

A sample of The Magic Flute synopsis:

GUEST OPINION: Planet's health for human progress - The Guardian Guest opinion by Palanisamy Nagarajan

"Even with all our medical technologies, we cannot have well humans on a sick planet. Planetary health is essential for the wellbeing of every creature. All must find a way to exist in harmony with the natural world." -- Thomas Berry, 1992. 

Almost six decades ago, Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, in her influential book Silent Spring, sounded this warning with utmost clarity and uncommon foresight of what lies ahead.  

"The (development) road we have been travelling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the Earth's preservation."

But unfortunately, we completely overlooked the long development trail leading to a balanced economic, social, and environmental sustainability. 

Since then, the search for infinite economic growth on a finite planet Earth, being on a dangerous collision course with natural systems, has intensified more than ever, particularly since the beginning of global neoliberalism's Great Acceleration era without anticipating the inevitable consequences. According to the Global Footprint Network, the world is currently producing and consuming resources and discarding waste equivalent to 1.6 Earths. Let us not forget this implies a global ecological deficit. If the current world consumption and production trends continue, we have to extract 183 billion tons of materials from Earth every year by 2050, three times today's amount. That would put enormous strain on ecosystems, severely disrupting the priceless services that nature performs.

Sustainability has been a major rallying cry for public policymakers at all levels since the path-breaking 1987 Brundtland Commission's report Our Common Future. But we have yet to take a sharp U-turn from an enticing unsustainable development path to a sustainability trajectory staying within the planetary system boundaries. 

We now face the most pressing emergencies of our time. The cumulative myriad unsustainable growth outcomes and their lagged unravelling cascading effects on climate change complexities and Earth Systems' destabilization are increasingly risking human health and well-being and the planet's life-support systems. 

Seemingly, the formidable challenges we are confronting are just the tip of the iceberg. Many other related hazards, something more extensive and complex, are waiting to happen. 

The World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report 2020 provides alarming evidence of humanity's extensive destruction of nature. The planet Earth is flashing red warning signs of natural systems failure and humanity's broken relationship with nature.  

The report comments that the COVID-19 pandemic is a grim manifestation of the human catastrophes of exploiting wildlife and ever-increasing encroachment on all aspects of the natural world. It has also spotlighted the interconnectedness between nature and human health and how the biodiversity crisis threatens the planet's health. The year 2020, one of the worst years on record in a century, is fast drawing to a close. The coronavirus pandemic, which surfaced in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, continues to ravage the entire world by upending millions and millions of people's lives and livelihoods. So far, the human tolls have surpassed 1.6 million and left 67 million people infected worldwide. Besides, the consequences of the global economic upheaval resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is beyond one's comprehension. The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading like a wave. So it is difficult to say whether the world would be free in 2021 from the horrific nightmare of the invisible virus, which is a thousand times smaller than a grain of sand. Comprehending the fact it has brought the world to its knees is difficult. 

Recently, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his address to the general assembly special session in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, stated most cogently: "Let's not fool ourselves. A vaccine (for the coronavirus) cannot undo the damage that will stretch across years, even decades to come. Since 2007, the WHO has declared six public health emergencies of international concern. COVID-19 will not be the last. We must make peace with our planet if we are to live in balance with its incredible riches."  

The UN secretary-general's visionary remarks are highly commendable. 

But the fundamental question is this: How can we protect or make peace with our planet Earth when the dominant scientific-techno-economic paradigm is all about exploiting nature at an ever-increasing rate to promote growth for human progress? 

First and foremost, a fundamental shift in our thinking about the economy, society, and environment from a systems perspective is needed to protect our planet's health, which is essential for human progress. Perhaps, it is only through the "one health" approach, linking together human, animal, plant and environmental health, we can tackle the critical challenges facing humanity as we have entered an era of crises. 

Palanisamy Nagarajan is an emeritus professor of economics and island studies teaching fellow at the University of Prince Edward Island.


yet another essay that gives such food for thought, and especially relevant as it was when written in 2013 and now in the time of the coronavirus pandemic...

Global Chorus essay for December 22
Eduard Müller

In spite of great individual intelligence, humans have failed to achieve collective intelligence. Our western development style, brought upon most of the people on Earth, willingly or not, has come with intellectual reductionism, globalization of markets and monetization of cultures and nature. Competition is at the core whilst co-operation and solidarity are left behind. Current global challenges require solutions with major investments and structural reform where governments, private sector and society as a whole must act beyond self-interest, making decisions considering global interdependence and well-being. It is now clear that solutions won’t come from governments, global meetings or corporate responsibility alone. Civil society, meaning each individual through collective action, must change, based on ethical values and principles.

Humans are capable of collective action when disaster strikes, going beyond self-interests to help others. The uniqueness of our current state is that, in spite of increasing local disasters, we have not fully acknowledged global disaster. If we wait much longer to act, we will go past tipping points announced by scientists. To avoid a global state of anomie, we have to jointly construct a community of life. The key lies in the intergenerational responsibility, where youth start demanding no further destruction of their possibilities to survive on a truly living planet. Involving youth means having them identify their life projects, getting past immediate satisfaction through sumptuous consumption, while investing true efforts to change and being rewarded with quality of life. Life projects today are not about jobs or professions; they are about achieving a higher level of consciousness where individual responsibilities come before individual rights, accompanied by behaviour according to consequences of our actions and inaction and not only individual well-being.

More and more youth, especially those that have more freedom of thought and are not shaped by their parents to follow our current catastrophic patterns of development, are now looking for better livelihoods, based on quality, not quantity, where people are valued for what they are and not for what they have. We must collectively foster this new global society and accelerate the celebration of life on Earth.

Eduard Müller, founder and president of the University for International Cooperation, San Jose, Costa Rica, vice-chair for education and learning at the World Commission on Protected Areas, IUCN

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 21, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Local Food:

Charlottetown Farmers' Market:
....from the very shouty announcement page on their website.


*Order due by 5PM today.*


THE FARMERS' MARKET WILL BE OPEN ON DEC 24th AND DEC 31st, 9AM-2PM, and CLOSED on Boxing Day, December 26th, and Saturday, January 2nd, 2021.

Summerside Farmers' Market is Wednesday, December 23rd this week.
Sunrise in Stonehenge is on Facebook Live,
at the link below, *Right Now* (early Monday).  I think the clouds are in abundance there, too.

A lovely long astronomy column, but make the time and enjoy it...

Atlantic Skies for December 21st - December 27th, 2020 - by Glenn K. Roberts

It's That Time of Year Again!

It's not hard to tell what time of year it is. If your house is anything like mine, the children, and especially the grandchildren, are so wound up about Christmas, they can hardly sit still for longer than two minutes. However, besides my granddaughter, Scarlet, constantly dropping hints..."Poppy, you'll never guess what _______ (the name changes from day to day) is asking Santa for Christmas this year!", I can tell the festive season is upon us once again by the number of emails I get from my readers regarding what size/type/model telescope to buy for the budding astronomer in their family. Each year (and this one will be no different) I answer..."Do not buy them a telescope!" First of all, you probably can't afford one that has enough quality to maintain their interest in the heavens above, and, secondly, even if you could afford a good one, unless your budding astronomer is a) very committed to viewing the night sky, b) technically inclined, and c) extremely patient, it will end up gathering dust in the attic or garage. Good quality scopes are not cheap (several hundreds to thousands of dollars just for the scope, then there's  the lenses, filters, etc.); the cheap ones are ultimately a disappointment for all concerned. I strongly recommend that, instead of a scope, you buy them a good set of binoculars (7x35s if they are small, or, if they are a bit bigger, 10x50s). Both and have excellent articles on selecting and buying the right binoculars. Also, buy them a planisphere (a plastic wheel device that shows the constellations of the night sky at any hour, night and month of the year), as well as a good, basic introductory book on astronomy and the night sky (suitable for their age)....something with star charts, constellation diagrams, double stars, the planets, a map of the Moon, etc. You can find these items at your local bookstore or on-line. Oh, and purchase an astronomer's flashlight with a red light (check on-line), so you can reference the planisphere/star chart/book whilst outdoors (the red light will save your night vision). Before heading outdoors, make a list of what they might want to look for (a lot easier to do in the warmth of your house than out in the dark); then, with the  planisphere/star charts, go outside on a clear night and help them find what they are looking for.  As celestial objects are found (it can be a fun challenge), cross them off the list, and, later, make plans to go out another night and look for something different. You'll be surprised at the number of amazing things that can be seen in the night sky with a good pair of binoculars, and even with just your eyes. If, and when, their (or your) enthusiasm grows, and they/you want to see more distant celestial objects (nebula, galaxies, globular clusters, etc.), then perhaps consider buying a telescope. But, until then, the greatest gift (and the one they'll remember the most) that you can give them for Christmas, or any other time of the year, is your time, and an interest in their interest.

If you are reading this article on Monday, Dec. 21,  I hope, wherever you are, that the early evening sky to the west of you is clear, even for just an hour or two, after sunset, and that you have an opportunity to see (and perhaps photograph) the "Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn just above the western horizon. Although these two giant planets will be at their closest (their actual closest point was at 2:30 p.m.) on the evening of Dec 21, 2020, they will remain fairly close to one another low in the post-sunset western sky until Dec. 25, 2020. Hopefully, there will be at least one clear evening this coming week! As mentioned in last week's column, the next Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn won't be until 2080. Weather permitting, I and my granddaughter, Scarlet, will be out together to view it this evening (or later in the week). When I told her about the conjunction, and how rare it was, and how the next one wouldn't be for another 60 years (after I am long gone), she said she wanted to see it with me, so that when she is old and has grandchildren of her own, she can take them out and show them the conjunction, and tell them about when she and their great-great grandfather, Poppy, saw the Great Conjunction of 2020 together. I hope you are as blessed with grandchildren as I am.

Mercury, having reached superior solar conjunction on the 19th, remains too close to the Sun to be seen. Venus (mag. -3.94) is visible around 6:30 a.m. in the eastern, pre-dawn sky, remaining observable 11 degrees above the southeast horizon until it fades from view as dawn breaks around 7:30 a.m. Mars (mag. -0.50) becomes accessible around 5:00 p.m., 40 degrees above the southeast horizon, reaching a height of 53 degrees by 7:30 p.m., and remaining visible until it drops below 9 degrees above the western horizon by about 1:25 a.m.. Jupiter (mag. -1.98) and Saturn (mag. +0.64) are visible low above the western horizon (see reference to the "Great Conjunction" above) just after sunset this evening (Dec. 21). If the weather is clear, don't miss this rare celestial event; take a photo with your cell phone or camera.

The Ursid meteor shower (radiant just above the bowl of the "Little Dipper" asterism in the constellation of Ursa Minor- the Little Bear) peaks overnight on Dec. 21-22. The Ursids are debris from Comet 8P/Tuttle, discovered Jan. 5, 1858. The First Quarter Moon will set shortly before midnight, so will not interfere. Expect to see 10+ bright meteors per hour from a dark site away from city lights. Though not a spectacular shower, it is my favorite of the year, as it occurs on my birthday. I have successfully seen some Ursids on 48 of my 72 past  birthdays, and, weather permitting, will make it 49 tonight.

The Winter Solstice (winter's official start here in the Northern Hemisphere) occurs at 6:02 a.m. on Dec. 21, 2020; the shortest day and longest night of the year for us.

I wish you all a very merry festive holiday with your loved ones. Remember, there is no greater gift we can give than the time we spend together with our families.

Until next week, clear skies.


Dec. 21 - Winter Solstice; 6:02 a.m.

             - Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn; just after sunset

             - First Quarter Moon

             - Ursid meteor shower peaks; overnight

        24 - Moon at apogee


A year unlike any other - By Peter Bevan-Baker, MLA Leader of the Official Opposition

Published on Friday, December 11th, 2020, at:

Looking back to my childhood, this is the time of the year when our family developed enduring and unique traditions. Some of those have stayed with me into adulthood as Ann and I developed customs with our own growing family. In the midst of all the seasonal celebrating, taking the opportunity to look back at the year is one thing that I have always liked to do. During the course of a year a lot of living happens. Getting out the calendar reminds us of the range of experiences that have made up the last twelve months and provides an opportunity to give thanks for things that may have been forgotten along the way.

At the end of this legislative session, I want to do the same sort of thing. Looking back to a year ago, the contrast is stark. At the end of the fall sitting in 2019, there was the usual flurry of seasonal events, visits from distant family members to look forward to, community concerts, parties, dropping in to friends’ houses, and planning your way around the levees that were only a few weeks away. This year my empty calendar is a reminder of the year that COVID stole. 

It wasn’t that nothing happened, of course: lots and lots happened, but way too much of it was bewildering, scary, and chaotic. Although I wouldn’t describe the sitting that just ended with those adjectives, it definitely presented its own challenges as well as moments of success and joy. 

Advancing the needs of Islanders

This sitting we asked important questions related to mental health and addictions, affordable housing, social equity and inclusion, building a greener economy, protecting our water and lands, and supporting the tourism sector, all while holding government accountable. 

We initiated debate on sustainable tourism opportunities, resolving the housing crisis, the support of Treaty rights, and ensuring Islanders have access to vaccinations they need. 

We passed motions pressuring government to make mental health and addictions programs and services a priority, and ensuring government provides answers to decisions impacting Islanders in a timely manner. 

We also succeeded in making PEI a leader, and the envy of Canada, in the fight against climate change by passing Green legislation that sets the strongest provincial emissions targets in Canada.

Our accomplishments this past sitting, as well as the work of the previous 18 months, clearly demonstrate that having a strong Green presence in the Legislative Assembly is helping create a fair, equitable PEI – a province that promotes and protects the dignity and security of every Islander. 

Our caucus remains committed to working in partnership with other members of the House to build a strong post-COVID province where all Islanders, no matter who they are or where they are from, have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Our commitment to one another serves us well

Since last March, Islanders have shown their unshakable commitment to each other. We continue to be a model to the rest of the country, and indeed the world, for how strong community and a sense of responsibility to one’s neighbours are how we will create a safe, healthy and vibrant future together. 

As we approach the shortest day of the year, I am reminded of the pivotal ceremonies celebrated by so many religions and cultures around the winter solstice. The darkest days of the year begin to fall away behind us, and we start emerging back towards the light. I hope that in our journey through COVID, the darkest days are also behind us, and we will emerge to a brighter year ahead. I also hope the strains caused by the pandemic will soon ease.

Happy Holidays to you all and best wishes for the brightest, healthiest, and most prosperous New Year.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Deborah Voigt, Wendy Bryn Harmer, Waltraud Meier, Jay Hunter Morris, Iain Paterson, Eric Owens, and Hans-Peter König, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From February 11, 2012.  Huge production, last of the Ring Cycle, just under 5 hours.

Week 41
Holiday Fare

Supplementary content—including synopses, articles, and more—is available here.

Mozart’s The Magic Flute, 7:30PM tonight until 6:30PM Tuesday
Starring Ying Huang, Erika Miklósa, Matthew Polenzani, Nathan Gunn, and René Pape. From December 30, 2006.  This is the shortened (under 2 hours) English version. "Adults and children alike were enchanted by the whimsical humor and breathtaking puppetry of Julie Taymor’s hit production."

Global Chorus essay for December 21
Elizabeth Lindsey

There’s no greater power economically, politically or socially that can compare to the power that lies within each of us.

The problem is we’ve forgotten who we are.

In an era of technological advancement, we’re bloated with information yet starved for such wisdom. Malnourished and overwhelmed, millions lead lives of “quiet desperation.” Connected 24/7, loneliness is at an all-time high.

What to do?

“When the veil of forgetfulness is lifted,” my native Hawaiian elders said, “and people remember that within them is a spark of the Divine, strife will cease.”

The world doesn’t need us to save it. The world needs us to save ourselves. It doesn’t need our anxiety and fear. It needs our clarity and courage.

Once we understand that what exists outside of us is a refection of what stirs within, then and only then, will we be able to make a difference in the world.
Until then, we offer Humanity nothing more than a pale imitation of who we might have been. And none of us is here for that.

No one else will see the world through your eyes or express it as only you can.

Imagine if a small woman in India thought that caring for the poor and the dying was too much trouble. We might never have been inspired by a nun named Theresa.

This is the Power of One … one person’s willingness to be transformed. By changing ourselves, we change the world.

— Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey, PhD, humanitarian and the first Polynesian Explorer in the history of the National Geographic Society

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 20, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Event today:
Sunday, December 20th:

A Quarantunes Christmas Cabaret, 8PM, Facebook Live
from Todd MacLean (and Becca Griffin):
A cozy show with Becca Griffin and Todd MacLean, performed from downtown on Victoria Row at Green Eye Designs, on Facebook Live at the Quarantunes page:

While there is a little snow to brighten things up even more (LINK ONLY):

10 brilliant Christmas light displays to see on P.E.I. - CBC PEI website post by Cindy MacKay

Published on Friday, December 18th, 2020

Real Lights (1):
Astronomical, tonight is getting to the peak of the "Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn, at sunset.

An excerpt from:

You can see the upcoming great conjunction in detail with binoculars and telescopes, “but the best part about it is we’ll be able to watch it with the naked eye,” (American Museum of Natural History's Jackie) Faherty says. Find a spot where you can watch the sunset with a clear horizon in front of you, free of trees or buildings. In the hour or so after nightfall, first Jupiter will appear in the western sky, and then Saturn, both shining dots distinguishable from the stars by the fact they do not twinkle. “They will likely be visible even with light pollution—Jupiter is pretty bright,” (Rice University astronomer Patrick) Hartigan says.

Although the great conjunction will arrive on December 21, “you should be watching Jupiter and Saturn draw close every night until then,” Faherty recommends. Otherwise, “it’d be like tuning into the finale of a show without seeing all the episodes before it to get you caught up on what’s going on. By watching them get closer and closer, you can get a sense how celestial mechanics works in the nighttime sky.” <snip>

Real Lights (2):
Also, Solstice, and if you want to watch it live-streamed from Stonehenge, go to this Facebook page from the English Heritage page for information:
also, Stonehenge has a Facebook page, of course:

EDITORIAL: More than the pandemic - The Guardian Editorial

Published ONLINE on Saturday, December 19th, 2020, in The Guardian's Saltwire website

“Why announce carbon taxes now? New taxes? We’re in a pandemic!”

You can almost hear the tone of the response. No, wait — you can hear it. Here’s Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s reaction: “I can’t understand for the life of me why anyone would want to put a burden on the backs of the hard-working people in this province. This carbon tax is going to be the worst thing you’ll ever see.”

But have a little pragmatism with your outrage.

Yes, we’re facing a global pandemic with a rising toll in Canada. Yes, that pandemic has massive economic implications for countries around the world, Canada included.

And a huge amount of the federal government’s attention and resources are being directed at trying to get the pandemic under control in this country.

But that doesn’t mean everything else just stops.

Climate change is happening, and you can’t simply ignore the issue.

Even the federal Conservatives seem to now understand the need for climate action, even if the current carbon tax method is not to their liking.

“Conservatives know that protecting our environment is critical. We agree with the goal of reaching net zero by 2050. Let’s protect our environment and natural spaces,” Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole tweeted after the Liberals announced their plans to increase the carbon tax by $5 a tonne every year for the next eight years, while also increasing grants to families to offset rising costs caused by the tax.

And it’s not only climate change.

As much as we’d like things to stop, the pandemic doesn’t mean that everything else happening in the world is simply on hiatus.

As oceans advocacy group Oceana pointed out on Tuesday, pandemic or no pandemic, plastic waste is continuing to flow into the world’s oceans and fresh water — with 10 million kilograms of that ocean-clogging plastic coming from Amazon packing material (air pillows, bubble wrap and other plastic packaging).In 2019, Amazon generated 21.3 million kilograms of plastic waste in Canada alone — and the pandemic certainly did nothing to stop or slow that, as online sales and shipping spiked in COVID-affected 2020.

We can try and get a handle on the plastics problem now — a problem being exacerbated by the immense growth in, and disposal of, plastic-based personal protective equipment like masks and gloves — or we can reap the whirlwind that plastic is creating in our ocean environments when it’s too late to do anything about it.

The same is true for climate change.

Yes, the pandemic is the most serious issue facing governments right now.

But it’s not the only issue, and it’s not even the most serious issue facing the world stretching on out into the future.

If we focus on just one battle, we’ll succumb to a larger environmental threat.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Verdi’s Nabucco, today until 6:30PM
Starring Liudmyla Monastyrska, Jamie Barton, Russell Thomas, Plácido Domingo, and Dmitry Belosselskiy. From January 7, 2017.

Ending the week with a bang, kind of:
Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, 7:30PM tonight until Monday about 6:30PM
Starring Deborah Voigt, Wendy Bryn Harmer, Waltraud Meier, Jay Hunter Morris, Iain Paterson, Eric Owens, and Hans-Peter König, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From February 11, 2012. 

very good essay

Global Chorus essay for December 20
Maggie Padlewska

Is there hope for the future? I am sure I’m not the first to say that this question is as complex as it sounds simple. I’ve pondered it over the years, only to find my thoughts drifting in directions as varied as the research, articles and books we read, the experiences we encounter, the things we witness and the richness of stories, views and perspectives of the people we meet throughout our journeys. I’m a one-woman-band, frequently travelling solo to meet people the world doesn’t often get to hear about or the communities that are not actively engaged in the global dialogue that is thriving online … and it is often through those people that I learn the most.

Our world is, without a doubt, facing countless and serious crises, from threats against global cultures to irreversible environmental damage. The communities I meet with are familiar with these things, mainly because they are often the ones directly affected by the negative effects of foreign policies, multinational trade deals and the intensifying extraction and depletion of natural resources. Yet many remain silenced, misunderstood and dismissed as the uneducated poor.

This, in my modest opinion, is where the world fails.

Human rights and environmental considerations have become secondary to the ambitions of the wealthy elite and policy-makers. Communities are being displaced from traditional lands to make way for exclusive development projects, the natural landscape is being contaminated, cultures are being threatened by globalization, and traditional wisdom is overlooked by the ideologies of the self-righteous.

We are at a crucial juncture, a moment with enough evidence to establish two clear options. The first, to continue along a destructive path driven by political or corporate greed, or second, to pause and rethink what it truly means to be human and the kind of life and behaviours that would sustain a healthy global community and planet for generations to come.

Is there hope for the future? Yes, IF the world recognizes the devastating consequences of its current trajectory and redirects its behaviours to truly reflect a commitment to a healthy future – not focused on cleaning up the messes that would be created, but on preventing them from happening in the first place by learning from those who have been living that way for centuries.

     — Malgorzata “Maggie” Padlewska, video-journalist, founder of One Year One World

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 19, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

Ordering food for next week:
Charlottetown Farmers' Market to Go (CFM2GO):
CFM2GO ordering has begun and will close on Monday, December 21st at 5PM
Pick-up will be Wednesday, December 23rd from 3-6PM

Heart Beet Organics' Farmacy (152 Great George Street) will be open today, Tuesday and Wednesday, then closed until January 11th.

Cooking the local food:
Island Chef Margaret Prouse, always able to teach and share practical, locally-focused shopping and cooking tips, stars in this video about a tasty and straightforward side dish, Brussels sprouts and cranberries.  5 Minutes

Music for the Holidays:

Handel's Messiah -- A Free Virtual Event, access starting at 3PM today and lasting over the holidays

Sing along at home to excerpts from the 2019 performance of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Cappella Festiva, with lyrics on the screen and commentary by Guest Conductor Christine Howlett.

Click to view day of show -

Premieres December 19 at 2pm EST. This video will be available to watch any time after its premier on our YouTube channel through the new year.

Facebook event link

Metropolitan Opera performances this weekend:

Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, 2PM, CBC Music 104.7FM
Special Holiday Performance!

Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel
Conducted by Donald Runnicles; Lisette Oropesa (Gretel), Tara Erraught (Hansel), Dolora Zajick (Gertrude), Gerhard Siegel (Witch), Quinn Kelsey (Peter)  From January 6, 2018

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov
Starring Ekaterina Semenchuk, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Oleg Balashov, Evgeny Nikitin, René Pape, Mikhail Petrenko, and Vladimir Ognovenko, conducted by Valery Gergiev. From October 23, 2010.

Verdi’s Nabucco
Starring Liudmyla Monastyrska, Jamie Barton, Russell Thomas, Plácido Domingo, and Dmitry Belosselskiy. From January 7, 2017.  Pretty much all the elements of great opera -- father-daughter complications, madness, royalty, a love triangle....and amazing costumes and set, and of course, singing.  And has the haunting "Song of the Hebrew Slaves" in Act III.

Tomorrow, Sunday, December 20th:
A Quarantunes Christmas Caberet, 8PM, Facebook Live
from Todd MacLean (and Becca Griffin):

"Cozy up at home as Becca Griffin and I bring you our Christmas show to Facebook Live, performed from downtown on Victoria Row at

Green Eye Designs"

Quarantunes  page at 8PM Sunday - and enjoy the show!!🌟

I have not read this yet, but it's from Project Drawdown, and about the future of Agriculture and Climate Change:

'Our latest publication “Farming Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis-- A Drawdown Primer” details and quantifies the planet-healing potential of land use, agricultural practices, and food systems.'

You can get the e-mail download from this page:

or here it is directly:
48 pages, with photos and charts.

Global Chorus essay for December 19
David Buckland

It is perhaps unsurprising that it has been the scientists reporting the evidence of global warming who have become the most passionate in calling for society to urgently change its course.

However, this urgency isn’t being communicated successfully enough to provoke the real change needed in our global societies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. The resistance to cultural change is bafflliing in the face of extreme weather events and other disturbances across our planet. Anthropogenic climate change threatens us all with an uncertain physical, social and economic future, so why are we not engaged in sorting out our future? Perhaps cultural approaches can succeed where the hard facts of science have failed.

The international Cape Farewell project, now in its 11th year, aims to do just that. It embeds artists, writers, architects, musicians and filmmakers with climate scientists as they measure and evaluate planetary changes at the Earth’s known climate change “hotspots.” So far, we have made seven expeditions into the Arctic aboard the 100-year-old Norwegian schooner Noorderlicht (Northern Lights), one expedition to the Andes and the Amazon and one to the Scottish Western Isles. Each of these journeys has enabled the diverse expedition team to examine how anthropogenic activity is affecting our habitat.

When I set up Cape Farewell in 2001, the aim was to create a different language of climate change with which to engage the public. Over 140 artsbased practitioners have taken part in these voyages, openly engaging with more than 45 scientists, creating artworks, exhibitions, books and films that have toured worldwide. This international effort, including people from China to Mexico, has brought distinctly different cultural sensibilities to the story of climate change’s causes and impacts.

The overriding memory of each of the voyagers engaged in these adventures is more akin to having fun than experiencing suffering. Climate change is truly a cultural challenge; it affects all of us and we all need to become part of the solution. But perhaps we should approach it more in the spirit of an expedition that encompasses the optimism of moving forward. As Marshall McLuhan put it, “Spaceship Earth doesn’t carry passengers, only crew.”

     — David Buckland, founder and director of Cape Farewell

A great deal of interesting content here:


essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 18, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Fridays4Future, 3:30PM, by Cenotaph near Province House, Charlottetown

Consider writing your MLA or MP -- Find your MLA at:
P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

Find your MP:

Inaccuracies -- yesterday I said the Solstice Walk Anywhere was Saturday, and it is MONDAY, December 21st, from 6-7PM.

Related CBC article (LINK ONLY):

best to find a better map of the area to enhance reading Herb's letter:

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: King must divert high voltage lines - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, December 17th, 2020, in

Wind-powered electricity is a renewable resource that could benefit all Islanders in their homes and businesses by creating jobs and providing an alternative to fossil fuels to do our part in countering global warming. However, acquiring and transmitting wind-generated electric power must respect and receive social license from residents most affected by the development of the resource.  

In 2006, the government of then-Premier Pat Binns allowed the establishment of a high voltage power line to transmit power from the West Cape wind farm along parts of Routes 142, 144, 147 and 143 in western P.E.I. The line ran along the highway through the communities of Springfield West, Haliburton, Forest View and Howlan.

Following compelling appeals from residents, in 2008 the Ghiz government diverted part of the high voltage line away from Howlan, joining a non-inhabited corridor to Summerside, but left most of the line that remains in parts of Springfield West, Haliburton and Forest View. Close to fifty dwellings, housing almost three times as many residents continue to have the high voltage power line along the highway adjacent to their homes.

Many residents in these communities have health concerns, and their property values may be compromised due to the presence of high voltage power lines. Although debate exists in scientific circles as to health risks for those near high power lines, a responsible government should follow the precautionary principle and avoid risk to the people they claim to represent.

The King government must heed the legitimate concerns of rural Islanders and correct the failures of previous governments by ordering complete diversion of the West Cape wind farm high voltage transmission line and allow meaningful consultation for any further development.
Herb Dickieson, O’Leary

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNei. From April 7, 1984.

Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, tonight 7:30PM until Saturday about 6:30PM
Starring Ekaterina Semenchuk, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Oleg Balashov, Evgeny Nikitin, René Pape, Mikhail Petrenko, and Vladimir Ognovenko, conducted by Valery Gergiev. From October 23, 2010.  Was Boris good enough?  Watch and determine for yourself. Rene Pape is certainly brilliant.

Global Chorus essay for December 18
Maude Barlow

With all my heart I believe that hope is a moral imperative. I could not do my work otherwise.

However, if truth be told, there are days when it is hard to hold on to this place of hope. A friend says she is numbed by “apocalypse fatigue.” Not me. Every new study on Arctic melting, species extinction and water depletion invades my soul.

Is there a way past the current crisis? Yes, there is. But it lies on a different path from the dominant economic and development model of our time. Growth, deregulation, privatization, free markets, more stuff travelling farther with fewer barriers – that is the dominant political narrative currently driving most governments, the big-business community and global institutions. It is killing the planet and disenfranchising billions.

An important recent study found that the global trade in food is consuming the bulk of the world’s water heritage and depleting groundwater far faster than it can be replenished. One American environmentalist said that unlimited growth has the same DNA as the cancer cell. It has to turn on its host to survive. Now we are being told that unless we place a price on Nature and bring it into the market economy, it will not survive.

The way forward lies with an alternative narrative. Instead of seeing Nature as a “resource” for our convenience, pleasure and profit, we need to see it as a living ecosystem from which all life springs, and adapt our lives and laws to those of the natural world. That means challenging the growth imperative and moving to more local economies of scale. It means recognizing that Nature has rights too. Conservation, preservation, biological diversity, co-operation, local sustainable food production, fair trade, economic justice, public trust: these are the hallmarks of the path forward.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales says the goal must be to live well, not to live better than others. Listen to the Earth.

Listen to the ancient peoples. The answers lie there.

     — Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians, chair of Washington-based Food and Water Watch, author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water and Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever

The treasure that is Maude has recently stepped down from her role as Honourary Chair of the Council of Canadians.

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 17, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Fruit Trees from the Legacy Garden at the P.E.I. Farm Centre:

We are making a wholesale order for fruit trees from Southern Ontario and want to share the benefit of a reduced rate with those who are looking to plant fruit trees in the spring on PEI! The varieties that we have selected are known to be disease resistant, cold hardy, and grow well in backyards, orchards, and farmland! These trees will make a great Christmas present this season!

Even if you don’t have space for a tree, there is always space in the Legacy Garden where you can see your tree thrive in our edible forest, or in our Memorial Garden (where trees and bushes, and plants can be planted in memory of a loved one).

The deadline for orders is December 30th, 2020, and the trees are expected arrive in PEI in mid-June. Apple trees will arrive on PEI about 10 inches tall and are $12/tree + HST. Peach trees will arrive 4-5 feet tall and are $30/tree + HST.

You can place your order here:

This is a fundraiser for the Farm Centre's Legacy Garden, and you can find out more about the garden here:

Community Food Questionnaire from the City of Charlottetown

Deadline is December 18th (I think)
"There are only three more days to answer the Charlottetown Food Council’s Community Food Questionnaire! This survey is intended to collect important information about Charlottetown’s food environment and to identify food-related assets in the city. Additionally, the results of this survey will be compared to those of a similar survey, which was launched prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, to gain insight into the way the pandemic has affected the food system in Charlottetown.

All residents are encouraged to participate. The survey will only take a few minutes to complete and all participants will be entered to win a fruit tree from Van Kampen’s!

For more information on the Charlottetown Food Council, visit

An Islander has started a Facebook group to showcase locations of people's spectacular PEI Christmas lights, including a map, which is the first pinned post.  Lots of photos of displays, too.
The River Clyde Pageant has highlighted magic in simple things and endured during challenging times.  They have a lovely idea for celebrating the Solstice:

Saturday, December 21st:
River Clyde Solstice Walk, 6-7PM, *Everywhere*

The River Clyde Solstice Walk celebrates the promise of light on the darkest day of the year. On December 21st from 6-7pm, wherever you live, we invite you to step into the darkness with a flame, light, or lantern, and walk with us to invoke the return of the sun.

As we take our lanterns alone into the dark, we will see the lights of friends and neighbours stretching out, before us and behind us into the year’s last long night.

The Winter Solstice reminds us of the cycle of renewal and the potential for change as we emerge from the darkness. In the midst of the pandemic and the climate crisis, we offer this Solstice Walk to illuminate our capacity for transformation, through our attention and our presence, together and apart.

Share your light with us by using the hashtag #riverclydesolsticewalk

The River Clyde Pageant has created a series of video tutorials on lantern building for anyone who wants to build their own lantern using red osier dogwood, willow, wire and old bedsheets. We invite you to construct a lantern using this technique or any other technique and bring your light out into the world.

Video 1:
Video 2:
Video 3:

We encourage everyone to wear a mask and practice social distancing on your walk to keep our communities safe.

This walk is a project of The River Clyde Pageant, a large-scale, community-led, outdoor spectacle in New Glasgow, PEI. To find out more about our work, visit

GUEST OPINION: P.E.I. water issue is not urban versus rural - The Guardian Op-ed by Gary Schneider, Ann Wheatley and Don Mazer

Published on Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

It is disturbing to hear the genuine public concern over high-capacity wells being deliberately misinterpreted as “urban versus rural” and as an attack against farmers. The Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island has been working for years to usher in a new era of water protection and conservation, and never once have we opposed farmers. Farmers are important to the economic and social health of the province.

What we have consistently opposed is the form of industrial agriculture that continues to result in fish kills and anoxic events, reduced water levels in streams and depleted levels of organic matter in soils.

Many excellent farmers in the province realize that a healthy environment is critical to their future existence. To paint this issue as farmers versus non-farmers does them a disservice.

Members of the National Farmers Union (NFU) have long advocated for better management practices. Doug Campbell, P.E.I.’s NFU district director, was recently quoted as saying: “Why do we have no organic matter in our soil? The reason for that is because of the way the land is being farmed. Why is that? Because of pressure from industrialized farming.”

We’ve also had conversations with other farmers who are very concerned about the direction of potato farming and the influence of the Irving family, which is where the push for high-capacity wells is coming from. Clearly, not all farmers want or could afford high-capacity wells.  But their voices are seldom heard.

In 2013, the P.E.I. Potato Board and Cavendish Farms asked the P.E.I. government to lift a long-standing moratorium on high-capacity wells in the province. Indirectly, this led to the development of a new Water Act. During the public process to develop the act, there were 57 presentations, along with written submissions from a diverse range of groups and individuals, and from industry. The vast majority of these presentations wanted the moratorium on high-capacity wells to be kept in place. This was also the recommendation in the environmental advisory committee report on the meetings.

Unfortunately, the Water Act passed in 2017 has yet to be proclaimed, and the revised regulations still have not been released for public comment. During this time, there have been a number of new holding ponds developed that would not be permitted under the draft regulations. We need to enact the Water Act, to maintain the high-capacity wells moratorium, and prohibit holding ponds.  

But we also need to find a way out of the unsustainable cycle we’re in. Climate change will likely bring hotter and drier summers. The need for irrigating potatoes will be greatest when water is less and less available, and when the need for water to maintain ecosystem health is the greatest. At the same time that more water is needed for agriculture, we should be taking less.

More high-capacity wells will only enable this increasingly unsustainable cycle. We need to find ways of doing agriculture differently.

Considering water as a common good and a public trust requires all of us to conserve and protect it. Water should not be seen as a resource, simply to be extracted and exploited, but as an essential part of living ecosystems that support all life. It is imperative that respect for protecting fresh water be at the forefront of decision-making when it comes to water extraction. P.E.I. is one of only a small number of places entirely dependent upon groundwater. This makes P.E.I. unique and also vulnerable to any disturbance in the ecosystem.

And clearly, all water use is not equal. Humans need clean drinking water and that should be our first priority. Ecosystem health should always be a priority since it must be preserved in part to provide the life-giving essence mentioned above. Domestic use and emergency use for firefighting are next. Agriculture and industry are generally far down the priority list for access to water.

Islanders are once again at a crossroads. We can be ever more committed to an industrial model of agriculture, with more water usage, larger fields, less and less soil organic matter, shrinking windbreaks, continuing fish kills and anoxic conditions, fewer farmers on larger acreages, and a small number of jobs created per acre.

Or we can look at truly becoming the Garden of the Gulf, with excellent drinking water, food security and tremendous employment opportunities (as our organic growers and innovative small and large farmers have demonstrated throughout the pandemic). All Islanders would live in a healthy environment that continued to improve, and we would become a haven for tourists looking for a beautiful, safe and sustainable place to visit.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to say we are Canada’s Food Island without having dead fish in the water? And, especially in an era of escalating climate change, it is good for all of us to remember that no one, and nothing, lives without clean water.

Gary Schneider, Ann Wheatley and Don Mazer represent the Environmental Coalition of P.E.I.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming: 

Berlioz’s Les Troyens, tonight until 6:30PM
Starring Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Karen Cargill, Bryan Hymel, Eric Cutler, Dwayne Croft, and Kwangchoul Youn, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From January 5, 2013. Trojan Horse, the Fall of Troy, the regal refugees take refuge in Carthage and cause tragedy. But the singing!

Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini, tonight 7:30PM until Friday about 6:30PM
Starring Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNei. From April 7, 1984.  In a version of a story by Dante, Francesca is promised to the horrid eldest brother, but she loves the middle brother, and there's a younger brother who loves her, too.  It ends badly, but the singing!

Global Chorus essay for December 17
Jonathon Button

Within every individual there is a need to give and contribute to the greater of humankind. We all want to make a difference. The main hurdle is that most of us don’t know where to start. Through education, society can further understand what the biggest issues are. Through understanding these problems, individuals can break them down into smaller obstacles which can be attacked.

With Life Out of the Box, we have been on an evolving adventure throughout Third World countries searching for these issues and understanding the source of them. What we have found is that many of those in need simply lack the tools to further develop into the person they want to become, which would lead them to further contributing to society and helping humanity. Without knowledge, it is impossible for the world to understand the problems, which results in a lack of action.

Life Out of the Box is dedicated to inspiring people to get out there, explore the world, learn and then take action towards making a difference. It is easy to think out of the box, but the key is making it happen and actually living your Life Out of the Box to make the world a better place for all. Thoughts and ideas are a necessary step towards accomplishing the goal, but they are nothing without actually taking the steps towards making them a reality.

I have great faith in the future. As the world is becoming more connected through social media, the understanding of the world becomes more clear and enables individuals to recognize the needs that must be addressed in order to ensure our existence. Through this new awareness, we can reflect on our actions and understand how they are currently contributing in a positive or negative way to the globe. Life is great. It should never be taken for granted and together we must contribute towards ensuring that all living species can experience this precious gift.

     — Jonathon Button, co-founder of Life Out of the Box
which includes encouraging and uplifting podcasts from Quinn and Jonathon Button, something they have just started recording again

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 16, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Condolences to the family of Muriel Allen, a sparkling and indomitable spirit, who passed away yesterday at 88.  Especially noteworthy in a noteworthy life, of "...teaching at a one room school as a young woman to being a vital member of the P.E.I. Library Service’s Bookmobile team from 1972 to 1993."  Stories that have been explored and should continue to be shared, of super Island women.

Some Act Local and Think Global notes today:

Local Food option:
The Farmacy Vegetable Market, 3-6PM, 152 Great George Street, Charlottetown.  Vegetables and ferments from Heart Beet Organics and others. Order ahead suggested:


The deadline is today to submit a nomination.

Some retail options:

Love Local PEI

This website is sponsored by a lot of local Chambers of Commerce and has news and lots of ideas for supporting local businesses, especially this holiday season.

About the Monsieur Vrac store, with the gumption of opening a reusable non-waste container store in Charlottetown during a pandemic:

Climate Justice:
Greenpeace Canada asks:

Now is the time to build a powerful people-powered response that brings us together, provides care for our communities, restores nature and reshapes what is politically possible. Climate justice means acting on the climate crisis in a way that builds equity and respects everyone’s human rights. 
How can we make this happen? Help build political pressure and power by emailing your MP and Cabinet ministers now.

Link for petition

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Wagner’s Lohengrin, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Eva Marton, Leonie Rysanek, Peter Hofmann, Leif Roar, and John Macurdy. From January 10, 1986.

Berlioz’s Les Troyens, 7:30PM tonight until 6:30PM Thursday
Starring Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Karen Cargill, Bryan Hymel, Eric Cutler, Dwayne Croft, and Kwangchoul Youn, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From January 5, 2013.  Cassandra, Dido and Aeneas -- pretty dramatic stuff and amazing stars.

With mythical elements of both Cassandra and Wonder Woman,
today's Global Chorus essay is by Atossa Soltani, founder and now Executive Director of Amazon Watch.

about her:

Amazon Watch documents what is really going on in the region. 


Protecting the Amazon and our climate by supporting Indigenous peoples

Since 1996, Amazon Watch has protected the rainforest and advanced the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. We partner with Indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability, and the preservation of the Amazon's ecological systems.

Our work is focused on three main priorities:
Stop Amazon Destruction | Advance Indigenous Solutions | Support Climate Justic

Here is there most recent news posting/year's wrap-up:

Global Chorus essay for December 16
Atossa Soltani

We stand at the crossroads of history, where our collective actions over the next decade will determine the fate of humanity for the next millennia. At present, we are crossing many tipping points and face multiple crises, the most alarming being global climate chaos. I believe we have no choice but to change course to ensure that future generations will inherit a livable world.

Many indigenous peoples hold as their aspiration to be “good ancestors” to future generations. I believe that if we are to survive, this must now become our collective aspiration. To have lasting change, we need to reshape our values and worldviews. Growing numbers of us realize the dire need for rapid systemic change. However, the majority continue living in a business as usual mindset, in what could be called collective denial.

Indigenous peoples represent only 4 per cent of the world’s population, but their territories hold 80 per cent of the Earth’s biodiversity. From these guardians we can learn how to hold all life sacred and live in greater balance with Nature.

The ecosystems of the planet that produce our oxygen, water, rainfall and soils are key to our survival. Safeguarding and restoring the planet’s remaining forests, mangroves, coral reefs and other productive ecosystems is a critical priority. And dismantling global corporate economic domination and bringing back responsive government is a prerequisite. We can bring the world to embrace local traditional food systems, decentralize energy production, cut overall resource consumption, phase out fossil fuels, overhaul our transportation systems and improve the condition of women and the poor to stabilize our population.

We have the knowledge, the understanding, the creativity and the technology to act in time. The people who understand this urgency need to step into leadership and make it their life’s work to transform and recreate our world. There is the analogy of when the U.S. was on the eve of the Second World War and called on its citizenry to join the war effort and the majority did, helping the U.S. significantly retool its economy in under a year. That’s what we need now. All hands on deck!

     — Atossa Soltani, founder and executive director of Amazon Watch

The Green Interview, with dear Silver Donald Cameron and Atossa (about 7 minutes):

from January 2014:


Atossa Soltani, founder and director of Amazon Watch, a US-based organization that works to protect the Amazon rainforest and support its indigenous peoples. Media strategist, photographer and filmmaker, she leads campaigns to force international corporations to raise their environmental and social standards.

In this exclusive Green Interview, Atossa Soltani discusses Amazon Watch, the organization she founded in 1996 that works to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. She also discusses the ongoing legal battles in support of indigenous people who are either resisting oil exploration in their territories or fighting for compensation as a result of pollution. Soltani also discusses her recent involvement with a global movement calling for rights of nature.

Amazon Watch

In 1996, while Atossa Soltani was working as a campaign director for Rainforest Action Network, she confronted Brazilian President Cardoso, who was addressing the United Nations, about deforestation in the Amazon. As Cardoso was leaving she managed to stop him for about 20 seconds and protest his plans to build roads through the Amazon. In this Green Interview, Soltani recalls the pivotal moment after Cardoso got into his limousine, leaving her with an audience of 20-30 journalists doing an “impromptu press conference.” When they asked her who she was she says she “took a deep breath and said Amazon Watch! I just made up the name at the time and the next day it was all over the newspapers: “Amazon Watch Confronts the Brazilian President.”

Resisting Oil Exploration

In Ecuador, Amazon Watch supports a court case to hold the U.S oil company Chevron accountable for the dumping of 18 billion US gallons of toxic waste water into a region of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest inhabited by more than 30,000 people – purported to be one of the largest oil related contaminations ever. Amazon Watch is also involved in Peru, where it’s a plaintiff in a case against U.S oil company Occidental for its damage to the rainforest and where it also supports the indigenous Achuar people in resisting oil exploration on their lands by Talisman, a Canadian oil company as well as the Argentinian company Pluspetrol. It is also active in struggles against oil companies in Colombia and Brazil.  Amazon Watch also supports a school that trains indigenous leaders how to defend their rights against oil and mining companies.

Rights of Nature

Atossa Soltani is also involved in the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, where in 2014 she was one of 8 “judges” in the world’s first ethics Tribunal on Rights of Nature in Quito, Ecuador, the first country to recognize the rights of nature in its constitution. The Tribunal is planned to be a permanent platform for hearing and judging cases from around the world. Seven specific cases were presented to the Tribunal including the B.P Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, over which Soltani presided.


essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 15, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Local Food options:
Charlottetown Farmers' Market 2GO, order by noon today for Thursday afternoon pickup:

Eat Local PEI order by Wednesday, details here:

Heart Beet Organics, order online today until tomorrow morning for pickup Wednesday aftenroon.

If you want to get the P.E.I. Government's news releases/ subscription service (and see how little CBC and The Guardian do before they publish them ;-) haha
subscribe via the button on this page:

This newsletter writer has no claims of depth of knowledge on the housing situation, but there still seems to be a Wild West scrabble of projects proposed, and certainly a lack of a cohesive plan on the City of Charlottetown's part.  Here is approval --citing the housing shortage as rationale-- of an apartment building near a bus stop, with a promise for greenspace and some "affordable units", but right between a Maritime Electric substation and Seafood Express trucking centre, and against its own planning and heritage committee's recommendation...

Charlottetown council rejects planning board recommendation, approves apartment project on Sherwood Road - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Published on Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

Charlottetown city council tried to put a dent in the housing crisis by approving four separate projects Monday, including one that went against the wishes of its planning board.

At the regular public monthly meeting, council voted 6-1 against a resolution to reject a rezoning request from Arsenault Bros. for the property at 18-2 Sherwood Road, which puts it next to the Seafood Express plant. Council subsequently passed a resolution to approve the project.

Councillors Mitchell Tweel, Alanna Jankov, Greg Rivard, Terry Bernard, Kevin Ramsay and Bob Doiron voted against rejecting the application while Coun. Mike Dufffy, who chairs council’s standing committee on planning and heritage, voted in favour. Coun. Terry MacLeod declared a conflict and abstained from the vote.

The developer was asking council to rezone the land from industrial to commercial in order to construct two apartment buildings that will result in a total of 186 units.

Prior to the meeting, David Arsenault with Arsenault Bros. posted on social media that 10 per cent of the units would be affordable (geared to income), accessible, pet-friendly and would be marketed as long-term rental units. “City planning says nay due to a perceived shortage of industrial land in the city that (should be) preserved for industrial uses,’’ Arsenault said in a social media post that included an overhead photo showing other nearby apartments.

Duffy said the board and the city’s planning staff are concerned with the fact the property is located next to a Maritime Electric substation.

Rivard argued that the land was zoned for many as-of-right uses, meaning a developer could, for example, come along and build a daycare, a far less attractive use for the property. Rivard, the previous chairman of planning, also pointed out that the developer has been very eager to work with the city, that the property is close to a T3 Transit stop.

Jankov said the planning and heritage committee was very torn on the issue. She was impressed with Arsenault’s willingness to work with the city, such as adding more greenspace and a playground.

Following a question from a councillor, Alex Forbes, manager of the planning department, urged council, if it ultimately voted in favour of the project, to require the developer to sign a development agreement. That requires the developer to follow through on the offer of things such as additional greenspace and a playground. In the end, council attached the development agreement to their approval of the project.

Forbes added that Maritime Electric is opposed to the project. He said the utility doesn’t want to have to deal with complaints from residents down the road in regard to its substation. “I think their primary concern is they invested heavily in’’ that property, Forbes said.

Tweel and Doiron spoke highly of the developer, the need for additional housing in the city, the affordable housing portion of the development and Arsenault’s willingness to work with City Hall.


Congrats to Dante!

P.E.I.'s first Black human rights commissioner hoping to make a difference - CBC News online article by Shane Ross
Published on Monday, December 14th, 2020

Danté Bazard says he is hoping to bring a new lens to the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission.   Bazard, who has a master's degree in clinical criminology from the U.K. and studied psychology at UPEI, is the human rights commission's first Black commissioner.

He is one of six commissioners, plus the chair. He officially began his duties about a week ago. The commission is an independent agency that is responsible for administering and enforcing the P.E.I. Human Rights Act.

Bazard, who is originally from the Bahamas, said he faced racism when he came to P.E.I. several years ago. He said he has been called the N-word and told he should only date Black women. He has been working on human rights issues ever since.

He is a co-founder of BIPOC USHR and has been part of the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I.  Bazard is hoping his appointment will make a difference. "Now, you'll be able to have that lens when looking at human rights issues on P.E.I. that wasn't there before, and that will also bring together the BIPOC community when it comes to reporting human rights and being able to receive justice."

Commissioners are appointed by members of the P.E.I. Legislature's standing committee on health and social development. Commissioners oversee the operations of the commission and conduct panel hearings when required.

Bazard said he is looking forward to the challenge.  "Being the first Black person in the position, it's definitely a lot of responsibility," he said. "But just even being on the commission itself is a lot of responsibility. Human rights is not an easy issue to even talk about, let alone to do good work. But I am equipped, able and ready, and I am very confident in the current team."


More about the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission:

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, today until 6:30PM
Starring Elīna Garanča, Roberto Alagna, Laurent Naouri, Elchin Azizov, and Dmitry Belosselskiy, conducted by Sir Mark Elder. From October 20, 2018.

Wagner’s Lohengrin, tonight 7:30PM until Wednesday about 6:30PM
Starring Eva Marton, Leonie Rysanek, Peter Hofmann, Leif Roar, and John Macurdy. From January 10, 1986.  3 hours 45 minutes

Although one feels the dark clouds of the last couple of years on democracy and transparency....

Global Chorus essay for December 15
David Jewitt

Some historical perspective: up until 500 years ago you, as a citizen, would understand the world through the words of an authority figure. It could be a king or an emperor, or perhaps a religious leader in charge of a rigid system of permissible thoughts, questions and actions. Your authority figure would lack any real understanding of the world, but he (it was almost always a “he”) would point to the writings of the ancients, perhaps to Aristotle, to Confucius or to something in the Bible, as the ultimate basis of his authority. Nobody could see the world clearly under those circumstances.

Since then most authoritarian political and religious systems have cracked, allowing our two great inventions of modern science and practical democracy to blossom. The all-wise leader is replaced by the idea that truth can best be found through insightful observation accompanied by critical reasoning and free thought. The world still has religion, and a few fading dictatorships persist, but there is no serious doubt that science and democracy are transcendent.

So, 500 years ago I would have doubted our chances for the future, but today I am extremely optimistic. For the first time in recorded history, our eyes are open to the world, giving us enormous power both to appreciate its beauty and to identify and address its problems. We have never been more perceptive, more powerful or more capable. We have never been better placed to determine our own future on this planet than we are now.

     ----- David Jewitt, Professor of Astronomy at University of California, Los Angeles

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 14, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Local Food:
Organic Veggie Delivery, last order before the Holidays,
due tonight for delivery Thursday.
More details at:

"Ask me Forum", with Provincial Green Party MLAs Lynne Lund, Steven Howard, Ole Hammarlund and Karla Bernard, 7PM, Zoom

"Got a question for our Green MLAs? The "Ask Me" forum is your opportunity to pose your questions directly to Green Party deputy leader and Shadow Critic for Environment, Water and Climate Change and for Green Economic Development Lynne Lund; Shadow Critic for Transportation, Infrastructure, and Energy, and for Justice and Public Safety, Steve Howard; Shadow Critic for Education & Lifelong Learning, and for the Status of Women, Karla Bernard; and Shadow Critic for Tourism & Culture Ole Hammarlund.

This 1-hour long forum will take place via Zoom."
Please click THIS LINK to register:

Facebook event link
for more details
Deadline for applications:
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Here is the general government page for the PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund, and here is the organization's own website, which the About page has more about the Fund Committee membership.

"The Christmas Star of 2020", explained:

Atlantic Skies "A Timeless Gift" - by Glenn K. Roberts

I'm going to jump ahead slightly to the early part of the week of Dec. 21, 2020. As my column gets published in different papers throughout the Maritimes on different days, I'm not exactly sure what day you, my readers, actually see my article. I want to make sure, ahead of time, that you get to see a very special, actually rare, celestial event which will occur on Dec. 21. If you have children/grandchildren, you may want to take them out to see it as well; you'll understand why shortly.

As you may have been noticing, the planets Jupiter and Saturn have been drawing closer to one another in the evening sky since last summer. When two celestial bodies in space appear to be close to one another (although, in fact, they are still millions of kilometers apart), it is referred to as a "conjunction". Approximately every 20 years, Jupiter and Saturn experience what is called a "great conjunction", when they are at their closest to one another in the sky. On Dec. 21st, Jupiter and Saturn will be at their closest great conjunction (0.1 degrees, as seen from Earth) to each other since 1226. There was a great conjunction between the two planets in 1623, but that conjunction occurred when the two planets were very close to the Sun, and the conjunction wasn't observed. This makes the great conjunction on the 21st  the closest one seen in nearly 800 years. The next great conjunction won't be until Mar.15, 2080. Thus, my recommendation of taking your children/grandchildren out with you to see this one. You can then tell them that, when they see the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 2080, they can think of you, and remember sharing this rare celestial event together. Now that is a timeless gift, indeed.

Although the great conjunction itself (0.1 degrees separation) actually occurs at 2:30 p.m. on the 21st, you can still observe the conjunction (there won't be any appreciable difference in separation) in the early evening sky just after sunset. The two planets will appear to the unaided eye as a single "star" low (about 12 degrees) above the southwest horizon (find an unobstructed view of the horizon if you can) by about 5:15 p.m.; binoculars or a small scope will separate the two planets, with Saturn being the fainter one. You will have to be quick though, as both planets will disappear below the horizon shortly before 7 p.m. Don't worry, however, if you miss the near-actual great conjunction on the 21st, Jupiter and Saturn will remain visible (less than the diameter of the Full Moon apart) low above the southwest horizon just after sunset until Dec. 25.

Heading towards superior conjunction (passing behind the Sun as seen from Earth) on Dec. 20, Mercury cannot be observed, but will reappear in the southwest evening sky in January 2021. Venus (mag. -3.95) is likewise shifting closer to the Sun with each passing week, and is now only visible around 5:45 a.m. in the eastern sky before fading from view when dawn breaks around 7:30 a.m.. Mars (mag. -0.70), though slowly fading, is still visible in the early evening sky around 4:55 p.m., reaching a height of 52 degrees in the southern sky before dropping below 8 degrees above the western horizon by 1:40 a.m.. Jupiter (mag. -2.0) and Saturn (mag. +0.64), moving ever closer to one another, are visible in the early evening sky. Jupiter is visible around 4:50 p.m.,16 degrees above the southwest horizon, and Saturn around 5:10 p.m.,15 degrees above the southwest horizon; both planets will have set by 7:15 p.m.. Watch the crescent Moon slide passed the planets Dec. 16 - 17. Don't forget their "great conjunction" on the evening of Dec. 21.

Until next week, clear skies.


Dec. 14 - New Moon

        15 - Moon at perihelion

        21 - "Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn (just after sunset)


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Teresa Stratas, Håkan Hagegård, Gino Quilico, Graham Clark, Marilyn Horne, and Renée Fleming. From January 10, 1992.

Week 40
Theme: Epic Proportions

Supplementary content—including synopses, articles, and more—is available here.

Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, Monday 7:30PM until Tuesday about 6:30PM
From October 20, 2018.  The same guy who did "Carnival of the Animals"? Yes. "A towering biblical epic, Saint-Saëns’s operatic take on the story of Samson and Delilah has many of the hallmarks of grand opera—show-stopping vocal displays, thrilling choruses, and an engrossing plot set against a sweeping, pseudo-historical backdrop....Tenor Roberto Alagna is the heroic Samson, who ultimately falls victim to the seductive power of Dalila—the captivating mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča. Bass-baritone Laurent Naouri sings the sinister High Priest of Dagon, with conductor Sir Mark Elder on the podium."

good stuff...

Global Chorus essay for December 14
Christy Morgan

The easiest way to make the greatest impact on the environment is through our diet.

Agriculture and factory farms create more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. Also, our desire for quick, packaged food and produce that is not seasonal to our region creates a heavy drain on our precious resources. Use your dollars more wisely by choosing whole foods over packaged, organic over conventional and local over transported. These choices are more healthful in the long run for you and your family.

Visit your local farmers market to see what’s in season during the year. You may discover some new and exciting vegetables you’ve never tried before! The most important thing we can do for our health and the health of the planet is to eat a diet rich in natural, whole foods. Eat foods in all the colours of the rainbow. Kale, lettuce and celery for green; carrots, yams and oranges for orange; eggplant for purple; cabbage, strawberries and apples for red; pineapple, squash and grains for yellow; grapefruit for pink; beans for brown; cauliflower, daikon and tofu for white. Fruits and vegetables that are beautifully coloured are rich in antioxidant elements that protect us from free radicals and make our health soar.

Start by adding in the good stuff and then crowd out the things that aren’t serving your greater good. A balanced, whole food, plant-based diet can give you the energy you need to make your body, mind and spirit happy as well as nourish the planet!

     — Christy Morgan, vegan chef, educator, author of Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body and Planet

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 13, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

There is no Artisans' Christmas Market at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market today. 
(Perhaps creative thinking and back-up plans could have made it possible to figure out an on-line version -- like a shopping channel-type event -- that could salvage some sales. And there still is another full weekend before Christmas....)
Tonight (if you are already bored of holiday movies  ;-)

Sunday, December 13th:
Webinar on "Electoral Reform Referendums: A path to informed decision-making?", 8-9:30PM AT, Register info here

Climate Change:
And while many of us appreciate Justin Trudeau's stance for fighting climate change (announced Friday), and realize he is getting backlash, there are still the young people who wisely and sadly challenge us to get our act together:

Greta Thunberg, Saturday, December 12th, 2020:

Today at the UN #ClimateAmbitionSummit our leaders celebrate their shameless loopholes, their empty words, their distant insufficient targets and their theft and destruction of present and future living conditions - calling it "ambition".

There are no climate leaders.

The only ones who can change this are you and me. All of us, together.


Severn Cullis-Suzuki, who was 12 years old in 1992, at the Rio UN Climate Summit, appealed to the leaders there.  (A part of it is featured in today's Global Chorus essay by Raffi.)

A talented team has made a animation of her speech (to be available on-line soon), the trailer of which is here:

Only A Child (trailer)

Severn (now 40) is, of course, still working on climate issues:

And about that pipeline the Canadian government now owns, and about that police force that appears "to serve and protect"* something other than people...and the familiarity with our own small resistance to the poor judgement and needless destruction of the Plan B highway....

Here is news about a sweet, positive group of people in British Columbia, working to delay the TMX pipeline, and the developments this week.
(and thanks to Marilyn for bring it to my attention).

A 9 minute video -- and they ask that you share it to bring greater awareness.

Cottonwood Treehouse Video

and the news reporting (LINK ONLY):

Police clear out Burnaby protest camp as TMX construction starts- BurnabyNow  article by Dustin Godfery

Contractors for Trans Mountain showed up Wednesday morning to begin work near the Brunette River

Published on Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

Here is a map of the area, which I haven't really searched around as much as I would like,
from The Wilderness Committee.
  *"To Serve and Protect" is the motto of the Los Angeles Police Department, often used by other forces.

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, today until 6:30PM
Starring Teresa Stratas, Astrid Varnay, Richard Cassilly, and Cornell MacNeil. From November 27, 1979.

John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, tonight 7:30PM until Monday about 6:30PM
Starring Teresa Stratas, Håkan Hagegård, Gino Quilico, Graham Clark, Marilyn Horne, and Renée Fleming. From January 10, 1992. This infrequently produced opera is actually part of a trio of storytelling regarding The Barber of Seville.

Global Chorus essay for December 13
Raffi Cavoukian

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

Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market
… You grownups say you love us.
But I challenge you, please, make your actions reflect your words.

      — Severn Cullis-Suzuki, age 12 (Rio, 1992)

Every society’s treasure is its young, its promise to a better world. Yet an uncaring, bottom-line commerce that ignores social and planetary costs is wreaking havoc. No spiritual tradition condones this abuse of Creation and her young. The remedy is an integrated vision I call Child Honouring, one that simultaneously respects Earth and Child.

We can’t overlook what’s known about the Child – humanity’s foremost learning system. Being human is not neutral: infants must learn to feel their loving nature or founder. Failure is not an option; it scars lifetimes.

Creating the conditions that honour infants’ formative needs is the most practical way to shape humane and sustainable cultures, ones that grow mature, resourceful, compassionate individuals. That’s why Child Honouring is a universal ethic to enrich life for generations.

Fast forward a Copernican shift in consciousness: from the “childism” prejudice of societies centred on adults to a child-honouring world in which the early-years ecology benefits all. For our survival, Godspeed a new peacemaking economy, a “bionomy” to revive “global chi.”

Each of us can be a change-maker. Shun ideology. Embrace radical inquiry. Empower your inner 8-year-old to free your heart’s most generous impulses. Live along your highest spiritual values. Honour the young.

In the Child, the human face of ecology, we find our refection and infinite potential. The well-tended garden yearns to yield riches.

     — Raffi Cavoukian, CM, OBC, singer, author, ecology advocate, founder of the Centre for Child Honouring

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 12, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets are open, but with reduced capacity, so plan for extra time in line but scooting through as quickly as you can. "Shop, Don't stop!" so others can get in.

Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM

Summerside Farmers' Market writes:

Our Market is still open every Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM, with the following restrictions as set out by the department of Health:

All food vendors are now takeout only. Our seating area will be closed to the public so we ask that you take your food and coffee to go.

Also, our market capacity has been cut in half, which means you may run into longer wait times at the door. Not optimal given the colder weather. Please be mindful once inside the market, that others may be waiting outside to get in and cannot do so until you leave. We ask that socializing be done outside ( Bah humbug!)

Once again, We invite you to contact your favourite vendors in advance and make special arrangements to decrease your chances of being left in the cold!

We thank you all for your continued support during these trying times."

Heart Beet Organics Market/order pickup, 9AM-1PM (store and food for take-out open until 6PM)

No Artisan Christmas Market tomorrow.

Some News from FairVoteCanada:

Today, Saturday, December 12th:
You can help proportional representation on social media #MakeYourVoice Heard!

On Saturday, December 12, we are amplifying that impact with a social media day of action, sharing photos of proportional representation supporters across Canada with cards (calling for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform) for Trudeau!  You can follow the action at #MakeYourVoiceHeard and @FairVoteCanada on Twitter and Instagram. We’ll also be sharing photos from our Facebook page.

Tomorrow, Sunday, December 13th:
Webinar on "Electoral Reform Referendums: A path to informed decision-making?", 8-9:30PM AT,
Register info here

"This webinar will do a deep dive into some of the best research of the last 20 years, looking at the formidable barriers faced by those fighting for a fair electoral system.
For the second half of the webinar—the question and answers and discussion—we’ll be joined by Professor Emeritus Lawrence LeDuc. Professor Leduc is a leading Canadian expert on referendums, with a special emphasis on electoral reform, who will provide valuable insight based on his decades of work on this topic."

Register here

The Canadian Parliament has recessed for the holiday break, and yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced (in this well-detailed article in The National Observer): 

Trudeau goes it alone with new climate plan, proposes carbon price hike - The National Observer article by Carl Meyers

Published on Friday, December 11th, 2020

Four years ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared side by side with premiers as he announced a “pan-Canadian” climate plan. On Friday, he unveiled his new “federal” strategy, flanked by members of his cabinet.

The difference was immediately obvious, as Trudeau acknowledged in his remarks how the government still needed to talk turkey with the provinces and territories. “This plan for a healthy environment and a healthy economy was developed for the federal government,” Trudeau said in Ottawa.

“We look forward to working with the provincial governments and all Canadians as we move forward.”

It was a different image than the one on Dec. 9, 2016, when Trudeau rolled out the Pan-Canadian Framework while seated with premiers and talked about “co-operation and collaboration.”

Most of those premiers have now changed, and some provinces are now recalcitrant in the face of Liberal environmental policy, taking the fight over the carbon price all the way to the Supreme Court.

Trudeau, in turn, couldn't help but play defence when asked what would happen if the Supreme Court ruled against the federal government.

“There are some jurisdictions that still don't understand that the only way to build a strong economy for the future is to protect the environment at the same time,” he said.

“There are some places in this country that still want to make pollution free again.”

Carbon price rising to $170 per tonne

Trudeau’s new climate plan proposes growing the carbon price, tightening federal rules and injecting $15 billion worth of initiatives into the economy. His government is hoping that these efforts will result in steeper cuts to Canada’s carbon pollution that go beyond current measures.

A key part of the plan involves accelerating the growth of the carbon price each year. The current federal carbon pricing system is set at $30 per tonne of greenhouse gas equivalent, and is designed to rise by $10 per year to $50 per tonne in 2022.

The new plan proposes that the increase would accelerate in 2023 to $15 more per tonne each year, reaching $170 per tonne in 2030.

This carbon price increase would need to be discussed with provinces and territories, said Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

“The pricing proposal is a proposal. We will be reaching out to discuss with provinces and territories going forward,” he said.

“We’ve been very clear as a government that our view is that a price on pollution is the most efficient way to reduce emissions ... all of the provinces and territories are aware of that, and that conversation will continue.”

The Pembina Institute called the “significant” increase in the price a “smart” move.

“This is our most effective and powerful tool to tackle emissions that are contributing to climate change that is already costing Canadians billions of dollars,” said Linda Coady, executive director, and Isabelle Turcotte, federal policy director.

Meanwhile, Conservative environment critic Dan Albas called the proposal a broken promise, and said it was “shameful” the Liberals “failed to properly consult provinces on their plan.”

“The environment is an area of shared jurisdiction and Canada’s Conservatives will respect the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories by scrapping Trudeau’s carbon tax,” he said.

Alberta’s Environment Minister Jason Nixon said Friday afternoon that the province would be reviewing and providing feedback on the federal strategy when draft regulations become available.

But he took an initial shot at the plan for a higher carbon price, calling it “yet another attack on Alberta’s economy and on Alberta’s jurisdiction.”

‘There is no vaccine against a polluted planet’

Trudeau unveiled the plan Friday as new federal forecasts showed a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases, raising alarm bells about Canada’s death toll ticking upwards in the coming weeks.

The prime minister sought to tie the two crises together in his remarks, telling Canadians that science is a not a “buffet” where people can “pick and choose” which scientific conclusions to believe and which to ignore.

“If we trust scientists with our health, as we do, then we must also trust their research and their expertise when it comes to other existential threats — and that includes climate change,” he said. “There is no vaccine against a polluted planet.”

The $15-billion plan is broken up into five elements that involve carbon pricing, slashing energy waste through retrofit programs, boosting zero-emissions vehicles, promoting hydrogen and other alternative fuels as well as carbon capture technology and nature-based solutions.

The government is proposing “adjustments” to the output-based pricing system for large industrial emitters, as well as strengthening the “benchmark” criteria it uses to evaluate the strength of provincial carbon pricing systems that it accepts in place of its own.

As Wilkinson discussed in comments Thursday, it also includes an attempt to align Canada's “climate and industrial policies” by proposing “performance standards, investments and incentives” to ensure Canadian businesses are tuned towards low-carbon products and services.

Climate Action Network Canada executive director Catherine Abreu said the plan showed Canada was “finally joining countries representing 50 per cent of global GDP that know strong economic policy hinges on strong environmental policy.”

“With this plan, people and communities across Canada can see themselves joining the huge clean economy that is taking over global markets,” she said.

Other countries, however, have announced that they are stopping the expansion of fossil fuel investments, Abreu noted, while Canadian governments “continue to double down on fossil fuels.”

The plan acknowledges how greenhouse gas emissions from “Canada’s industrial sector, including oil and gas production,” are 37 per cent of Canada’s total carbon pollution. “Working with large final emitters is essential to Canada’s climate goals,” it says.

Canada’s top 25 highest-emitting facilities represented 118 megatonnes of emissions, reads the plan. Eight of those are coal-fired power plants, which the government is moving to phase out by 2030. The remaining 17 “are a mix of oilsands, steel, refining, and a pipeline.”

Three-quarters of those 17 facilities are in Alberta, the home of the oilpatch.

“Through targeted support to large emitters in the oil and gas sector, cement, iron, and steel sectors, this can enable near-term deployment of technologies to reduce emissions at the ‘megatonne’ scale,” reads the plan.

‘At least 85 million tonnes’ of new pollution cuts

The government said that the new proposed actions, if fully implemented, are projected to result in emissions reductions of “at least 85 million tonnes” beyond the current Pan-Canadian Framework.

That would, in theory, exceed Canada’s current target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, instead resulting in about a 32 per cent cut to 2005 levels by that date.

Government officials said this should not be interpreted as Canada’s new official national emissions reduction target. That will ultimately be informed by the coming engagement with premiers, Indigenous leaders and others, they said.

Canada is also already projected to overshoot its current 2030 target by 15 per cent.

“It's good to see policies that can, if implemented quickly and with the greatest stringency possible, take Canada's climate ambitions further than our current insufficient Paris pledge,” said Abreu.

“It is also good to see a significant investment of $15 billion in climate action. However, these numbers pale in comparison to commitments being made by our closest trading partners in the European Union and the United States under a new Biden administration.”


Lots of Opera Saturday:
Saturday Afternoon at the Opera (Metropolitan Opera recording), 1PM, CBC Music 104.7FM

Beethoven’s Fidelio
Performance from April 1, 2017
Sebastian Weigle; Adrianne Pieczonka (Leonore), Hanna-Elisabeth Müller (Marzelline), Klaus Florian Vogt (Florestan), David Portillo (Jaquino), Greer Grimsley (Don Pizarro), Falk Struckmann (Rocco), Günther Groissböck (Don Fernando)

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming -- one of the newest recordings, a live concert, and one of the oldest recordings, all in a day....

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, until Noon today
Starring Angel Blue, Golda Schultz, Latonia Moore, Denyce Graves, Frederick Ballentine, Eric Owens, Alfred Walker, and Donovan Singletary, conducted by David Robertson. From February 1, 2020.

Afternoon ticketed performance live (and available for a few weeks) of " Legendary bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel performs a holiday program live from Brecon Cathedral in his native Wales. Joining Terfel are several special musical guests."  Details here

Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, 7:30PM tonight until Monday about 6:30PM
Starring Teresa Stratas, Astrid Varnay, Richard Cassilly, and Cornell MacNeil. From November 27, 1979.

Global Chorus essay for December 12
Kitty van der Heijden

Sustainable development means balancing the economic, social and environmental pillars of development. If you ask an economist to review progress since the Earth summit in 1992, chances are that she or he will boast about tremendous growth, particularly in the Asian tigers and African lions. Ask that same question to a development practitioner, and he or she will highlight the great strides in reducing hunger, child and maternal mortality. But important MDGs, such as gender equality, lag behind, and inequality is rising between countries and within countries. Now ask that question of an environmentalist. Chances are she or he will look at you bewildered. Progress? PROGRESS? Almost all indicators indicate a worsening trend: loss of biodiversity, deforestation, pollution, climate change, ocean acidification, resources scarcity. In statistical jargon they call such curves a “hockey stick,” with a gradual change at the outset, then fast acceleration upward.

As humankind, we are in that fast lane now. We are speeding towards a cliff of ecological destruction. That hockey stick will hit us hard – all of us. But it will hit the poor and young most of all. We are the first generation that, rather than sacrificing ourselves for our children’s future, are sacrificing our children’s future for ourselves.

The upbeat note is that we are not just part of the problem, we are also part of the solution. We can change. Take climate change. We can end global deforestation. We can beat the glum statistic that 30 per cent of food produced is lost or wasted, squandering resources such as water and land, and needlessly producing GHG emissions. We can achieve major emission reductions if consumers worldwide abide by the WHO advice regarding animal protein intake. We could reduce GHG emissions by 10 per cent if we would simply phase out environmentally perverse subsidies on fossil fuels.

Of course we can do it. It is a matter of choice.

As CEOs and corporate employees, we decide what and how to produce.

As consumers, we decide what products to use.

As shareholders and constituents casting our votes, we decide what policies and politics to refuse.

We are all in a position to lead change. Take charge.

     — Kitty van der Heijden, Special Envoy for Sustainability and Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 11, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Fridays4Future, 3:30PM, by Cenotaph near Province House, Charlottetown

You can tell your MLA about the importance of paying attention to Climate Change -- Find your MLA at:
P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

News from the P.E.I. Farm Centre Legacy Garden:

"The Holiday season is upon us and we have some local garden gifts still available! Our Legacy Garden garlic is on sale, 15% off 1 lb to make it $17, and 25% off 2 lbs which makes it $30! This garlic has been cured and will last all winter long!

Legacy Garden Tea is available as well! We have Herbal Blend and we have only one bag of Mint left! $5 each!

You can order your goodies here:

Also, the Legacy Garden Tree Fundraiser is in full swing! Get the gift of a fruit tree for your friends and family that will arrive in the Spring!

You can order your apple and peach trees here:

Farm Centre Legacy Garden Facebook page

thanks to Tony Reddin for bringing this to my attention

Press release: Westfor applies for injunction against mainland moose blockades - Nova Scotia Advocate

Published on Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Two blockades on crown lands to protect mainland moose in the New France area, Digby County, may end abruptly in the days to come. Extinction Rebellion (XR) occupiers received word today from their lawyer that WestFor Management Inc. has applied for an interim injunction intended to force the forest protectors to pack up and leave. That application is set to be heard in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia 9:30 a.m, this morning.

Several people at the blockades have indicated they are willing to get arrested, if necessary, to focus attention on our government’s failure to protect endangered species and enact promised forestry reforms.

The initial encampment began on October 21st when XR learned that forestry crews were in transit to crown land in the Silver River, Rocky Lake area where Richard Amero had shown CBC’s Phlis MacGregor tracks of the endangered Mainland Moose and described past sightings the previous week.

On November 22nd, a second blockade close to the Caribou River was established to impede loggers’ access to crown land allocations where further cutting has been occurring. Industrial forestry crews are scheduled to cut 1650 acres of mainland moose habitat in the area in the next year.

XR’s specific demand has been to place an immediate moratorium on all proposed and current logging on Crown lands from Fourth Lake south to the Napier River. This moratorium would remain in place until ecologically based landscape level planning for the area has been conducted by independent ecologists and biologists, as recommended by the 2018 Lahey Report. Where this area is known habitat for mainland moose, it should be assessed for Protected Area potential, safeguarding connectivity between the Silver River Wilderness area and the Tobeatic.

Bob Bancroft released a Moose Map on Monday that highlighted all South West Nova Scotia, confirming multiple moose sightings and or signs of their presence in that area.

“We are standing up to protect wildlife and their habitat. When the moose are in trouble, so are we. To address the climate and extinction crises, we need to protect and restore our natural forests. Industrial tree plantations are ecological deserts,” said Nina Newington, one of the encampment organizers.

“Our provincial government had approved the destruction of the very habitat the endangered mainland moose need to recover. Despite a severe scolding from the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in May, the Department of Lands and Forestry continue to shirk its legal obligations under its own Endangered Species Act. If government refuse to do the right thing, then citizens must stand up together. Enough is enough,” she said.

Link to Information Morning’s story: –


"In 2020, Nature was not a lost year.  Just the opposite."

The Coronavirus Pandemic and the Invisibility of Nature - Emergence Magazine article by Michael McCarthy

As rampant urbanization increasingly severs humanity from the living world, naturalist Michael McCarthy explores the ways in which the “anthropause,” ushered in by the coronavirus, has—on an unprecedented scale—made nature visible again.

a good long read, from Emergence Magazine, below:
(link only)

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel, until 6:30PM
Starring Audrey Luna, Amanda Echalaz, Sally Matthews, Sophie Bevan,  Alice Coote, Christine Rice, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, Frédéric Antoun, David Portillo, David Adam Moore, Rod Gilfry, Kevin Burdette, Christian Van Horn, and John Tomlinson. conducted by Thomas Adès. From November 18, 2017.

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, 7:30PM tonight until noon Saturday
Starring Angel Blue, Golda Schultz, Latonia Moore, Denyce Graves, Frederick Ballentine, Eric Owens, Alfred Walker, and Donovan Singletary, conducted by David Robertson. From February 1, 2020.

Global Chorus essay for December 11
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

How can we heal and transform our ravaged ecosystem, our dying world? How can we become free from the soulless monster of materialism and its child, consumerism, and instead create a civilization that values all of creation, one that supports the interdependent web of life of which we are a part? First, there is a need to recognize that beneath this outer ecocide another tragedy is being enacted, as devastating as it is unreported: our forgetfulness of the sacred nature of creation. Our culture regards the Earth as a resource to be exploited, not as something sacred to be revered. And without this central spiritual awareness, which was at the foundation of almost all previous cultures, our world becomes increasingly out of balance.

We need to return to a simple awareness of the sacredness of the Earth and all of life. Then we can reconnect with the real nature of the Earth as a sacred being, what indigenous peoples know as the Mother who sustains us, both physically and spiritually. There are many ways to make this connection – for example, being aware of the sacred nature of the food we eat, or holding the Earth as a living being in our hearts and prayers, feeling our love for the Earth. Through simple means we can bring the sacred back into our daily life, and so help to heal the split between spirit and matter and restore the balance in our world.

Recognizing the Earth as a living, spiritual being with a soul as well as a body, we will find that she can regenerate, come alive in a new way – no longer a resource to be used, but full of wonder and sacred meaning. Listening to her deep wisdom we will find ways to work together that sustain all of life, that care for the soul as well as the soil. This is the future that is waiting for us, full of all the magical possibilities of creation as well as the mystery and joy of the sacred.

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

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 10, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Shopping for local food this weekend will look a little different, as customer size limits will be reduced, so plan more time.
Charlottetown Farmers Market and the Sunday Artisan Christmas Market are planning to be open. Details tomorrow.

Heart Beet Organics on Great George Street is open Tuesday-Saturday, until 6PM, for local food and vegetables (no indoor dining, though). 
Their expanded market will be open 9AM-1PM Saturday, with pre-ordering suggested for faster pick-up time.   Ordering for Saturday:

Want to catch up on some legislative records from last week?
See both of these sites for records and recordings:

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

columns and letters:

JIM VIBERT: COVID's ill wind may blow some good for climate crisis - The Guardian article by Jim Vibert

Published on Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

It's an ill wind that blows no good, and COVID-19 most assuredly came on an ill wind.

But the COVID-19 crisis, or more precisely, the resulting lockdowns and widespread disruption of economic and other activities, led to an 8.8 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide in the first half of 2020 and an expected decline of between four and seven per cent on the year.

It took a pandemic to force the kind of GHG reductions the world needs to hold global warming at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius and stave off catastrophic climate change.

Of course, 2020's fleeting, single-year reduction in GHG emissions is meaningless in the grand scheme to contain climate change, unless it is followed by the structural changes needed to replicate that reduction, year-in and year-out, for decades to come.

The annual climate change performance index (CCPI) released this week says that the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting need for economic recovery, have brought the world to a crossroads.

One road leads back to business-as-usual, continued global warming and the worst that climate change has to offer. The other road leads to the low-carbon recovery the world needs if it's going to escape that fate.

Whatever good that blew in on COVID-19'S ill wind isn't found in a temporary, one-year reduction in GHG emissions. Rather, it's in the plans nations are making and rolling out for a green economic recovery.

It's five years this week since 197 countries, Canada included, signed the Paris Agreement and committed to making the GHG emission reductions needed to contain global warming and climate change.

Most of those nations, Canada again included, have missed virtually all of their climate change targets.

But in a survey of 60 nations and the European Union – collectively they produce 90 per cent of the world's GHG emissions – CCPI found reason for optimism.

More than half of those nations dedicated economic recovery spending to green initiatives, and a third have either implemented or are considering fiscal reforms to slash fossil fuel subsidies.

That's the good news. The bad news is that many of those same economic recovery plans also include measures that run contrary to a low-carbon recovery, usually by protecting existing, high-polluting industrial sectors. 

“Policymakers still have the chance to scale up low-carbon interventions, because national recovery plans are not fully laid out,” the CCPI report says. “Future interventions must expand current good practices to situate low carbon investments at the centre of the recovery efforts.”

With that appeal, the report's authors could have been talking directly to Canada.

Canada is a climate change poser. It finishes at or near the bottom of the pack in three of the four categories CCPI uses to rank national efforts to curb climate change.

Canada is doing a lousy job reducing GHG emissions, isn't transitioning to renewable energy sources fast enough, and its overall energy use remains too high.

On the semi-positive side, Canada talks a good game, so it scores in the middle of the pack for its climate policy. September's throne speech and the recent federal economic update both claimed that the nation's economic recovery will be green.

We can only hope that the rhetoric is matched by action, this time.

And, if you subscribe to the old environmental adage to think globally and act locally, there may be a candidate in Nova Scotia's Liberal leadership race who's worth a look.

Iain Rankin released an environmental plan this week that, he says, can make Nova Scotia Canada's first carbon neutral province. His proposals surpass the timid approach to environmental issues that characterized Stephen McNeil's government and which Rankin was a part of.

He wants to get Nova Scotia off coal-fired power by 2030, well ahead of the current plan. He also plans to electrify public transit, invest in solar power, and offer incentives to buy electric vehicles.

In Nova Scotia and around the world this week, people will gather in candlelight to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement and to shine a light on the failure of nations to meet the commitments they made when they signed the deal.

The CCPI survey and report tells us there is still time to pull back from the brink of climate disaster, but the plans to avert that calamity need to be part of the world's COVID-19 economic recovery.


Something to think about:

LETTER: Finding a washroom difficult

Published on-line at Saltwire's website:

(edited for length)

I realize that the availability of public washrooms may not be an important issue for someone in their 30s to 60s. For anyone with colitis, irritable bowl syndrome or bladder issues, however, this is a very important issue. And what about child training? They must fit in this category.

With the COVID-19 pandemic all around us, it seems washrooms have been closed in just about every store. I realize all people are not clean but when you need to go you need to go and you can’t tell your body you can’t go because there is nowhere to go.

I was at a local clothing store the other day and I needed to go and go sooner. The clerks told me to go to a nearby fast food restaurant. After struggling there with dire pains, I discovered their bathrooms were closed. Now what?

Please help. Somewhere in (our localities)  must provide bathrooms that are not miles away. If you are desperate, there is no going somewhere else. Think for a moment.

Patricia McKenzie, Sydney, Nova Scotia

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Britten’s Peter Grimes, today until 6:30PM
Starring Patricia Racette, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Anthony Michaels-Moore, conducted by Sir Donald Runnicles. From March 15, 2008.

Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel, 7:30PM Thursday until Friday about 6:30PM
Starring Audrey Luna, Amanda Echalaz, Sally Matthews, Sophie Bevan,  Alice Coote, Christine Rice, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, Frédéric Antoun, David Portillo, David Adam Moore, Rod Gilfry, Kevin Burdette, Christian Van Horn, and John Tomlinson. conducted by Thomas Adès. From November 18, 2017.

Global Chorus essay for December 10 
Paula Kahumbu

I wake up at two a.m. and my mind is racing. I don’t have the answer to the question posed to me yesterday: “What are we going to do to stop this?” My caller was referring to the fve rhinos slaughtered over the weekend, part of the ongoing epidemic of rhino and elephant poaching.

Experience teaches us that extraordinary leadership can create a tipping point to turn around public views and drive unlikely actions. In 1989, Kenya burned 12 tons of ivory in what remains the most iconic conservation message of all time. It was a risky, dangerous plan: that ivory was worth millions of dollars. But Richard Leakey and President Daniel Arap Moi did it anyway. Te world celebrated and the consumers of ivory felt the shame. That year, the world banned the international trade in ivory and over the next 20 years, elephant populations recovered. Now the problem is back – only it’s much much worse – and we are really at risk of losing all our elephants and rhinos in a matter of decades.

I believe it will take extraordinary creativity to achieve understanding amongst consumers and poachers so that people comprehend what is at stake if elephants and rhinos go extinct. Most Africans are poor and yet we are proud people. Our continent is recognized the world over for her diversity in people and wildlife, which are housed in astounding beauty. People say that their lifelong dream is to go on safari to Africa. They experience a connection to the land of the origin of humanity. At the rate things are going, we stand to lose it all. Africa’s wildlife belongs to the world and we Africans are beginning to realize our obligation to humanity to help fulfill this human dream of seeing the herds of the Serengeti, the scarps of the Rift Valley, the snow on the equator.

We have the capacity to change – we just need courage to uphold sacred values of fairness, transparency, honesty and accountability. We can do this, and develop our economies by using the tools of this technological age of connectedness.

     — Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect blogging platform and a voice for conservation leadership in Africa


essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 9, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Search, order and pick up, and read or watch:

The P.E.I. Public Library Service writes:
"All our libraries are now open for curbside pickup only. Please email or phone your local library during regular open hours to schedule a pickup time."

Some good news climate future reading from the United Kingdom, care of their Guardian:

Ending UK’s climate emissions ‘affordable’, say official advisers - The (U.K.) Guardian article by Damian Carrington

CCC recommendation includes half of cars being electric by 2030, gas boilers phased out and 10,000 wind turbines

Published on Wednesday, December 9th, 2020, in The (U.K.) Guardian  (link has photos and graph)

The world’s first detailed route map to ending a nation’s use of fossil fuels is both “ambitious and affordable”, according to the UK government’s official advisers, and would see half of the cars on the road being electric by 2030 and 10,000 giant wind turbines in the North Sea.

The Climate Change Committee’s analysis found that the future cost savings from no longer having to buy oil and gas almost offsets the £50bn-a-year investment needed in low-carbon power, transport and home heating across the next three decades.

The eyes of the world are on the UK as it prepares to host a critical UN summit to tackle the climate crisis next November and UK leadership is considered vital for success. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, recently announced a green industrial revolution plan, but the CCC said further action was needed now from the government to set the UK on the path to ending emissions by 2050.

The CCC route map forecast people’s energy bills remaining level, before falling after 2030 as cheap renewable energy expands. Electric cars will also save drivers money but a phase-out of gas boilers will mean some households will require government help to install more expensive low-carbon heating systems, the CCC said.

The plan envisages air travel staying near current levels and meat eating,

which is already falling, being reduced by just 20% by 2030. Changes in how people live “need not entail sacrifices”, the CCC said. It said mixed woodlands covering an area three times the size of Greater London should be planted by 2035, capturing CO2 and providing new green spaces.

The cost of offshore wind power has plummeted in recent years and the CCC sees it as “the backbone of the whole UK energy system”, with all electricity being renewable or nuclear by 2035. The UK will become an electric nation, the CCC said, with double the current amount of power being generated by 2050, but with hydrogen expanding to fuel heavy industry and transport and warm some homes.

The CCC also set out a new carbon budget for the UK for 2035, as required by law. CO2 emissions are to reduced by 78% compared with 1990 levels, equivalent to cutting two-thirds of today’s emissions. The CCC said this advanced carbon cuts by 15 years compared with plans in 2018, reflecting falling green costs.

Getting to net zero emissions is “ambitious, realistic and affordable”, said Lord Deben, chair of the CCC. “The price is manifestly reasonable. It will be the private sector that will do much of the investment but it will be the government that sets the tone.”

“It now has to set out in detail the steps required,” he said. “As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, this is a chance to jump-start the UK’s economic recovery.” But Deben added the costs of the transition must be distributed fairly across society. The government has accepted all previous carbon budgets proposed by the CCC and has until June 2021 to accept the new one.

The CCC analysis found it is cheaper to transition to electric cars and vans than to continue with petrol and diesel vehicles. “That’s an amazing new insight, because it has major implications for the overall cost of achieving net zero,” said Chris Stark, chief executive of the CCC.

The annual net cost across the 30 years to 2050 is £10bn, or about 0.5% of GDP, the CCC said. This does not include the benefits of new jobs or better health as air pollution and damp, cold homes are reduced. Today, poor housing alone costs the NHS £1.5bn a year. “It’s now clear that – at worst – we’ve got a very small cost overall in order to unlock those very big benefits of tackling climate change,” said Stark.

Alison Doig, at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: “The report demonstrates that taking bold action makes sense for jobs and prosperity, but also keeps the UK at the forefront of an international zero carbon revolution. The government can show it is serious about delivering the goals of the Paris agreement by taking [the CCC] advice.”

Prof Rob Gross, director of the Centre for Energy Policy and Technology, said the CCC reports were hugely significant. But he said the major expansion of both renewable energy and electric cars would be challenging: “The speed with which we would need to get charging stations sorted out is a real challenge, if we are to avoid alienating motorists.”

Clara Goldsmith, at the Climate Coalition, said: “The government must accept this advice and unleash a decade of ambitious action. There is no downside to embracing this plan. It can transform our society and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.”

Doug Parr, at Greenpeace UK, said: “The CCC may have set out its paths to net zero but we’ll need much more legwork from the government over this parliament to reach it. While some progress has been made recently there remains a yawning gap between our targets over the next decade and action needed to meet them.”

Stark said the climate crisis was worsening, with global CO2 emissions and temperature still on an upward trend: “We are in a bad place.” But he said 2021 would be a big year for action in the UK, with government strategies due for heat and buildings, food, aviation, hydrogen and trees and peat bogs. “It is the actions to deliver [net zero emissions] that are important now.”


Related article (LINK ONLY):

"What would a climate-friendly UK mean for you?"

Electric cars, the end of gas boilers, green jobs, more trees and less meat are all part of government advisers’ net zero plan

(well, if you lived there)

Some good watching:

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, today until 6:30PM
Starring Sasha Cooke, Thomas Glenn, Gerald Finley, Richard Paul Fink, and Eric Owens, conducted by Alan Gilbert. From November 8, 2008.  Canadian Gerald Finley as J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Britten’s Peter Grimes, tonight 7:30PM until Thursday about 6:30PM
Starring Patricia Racette, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Anthony Michaels-Moore, conducted by Sir Donald Runnicles. From March 15, 2008.

Some thoughts from someone who's traveled a lot and see a lot of snow (melting):

Global Chorus essay for December 9
Gretchen Bleiler

Now more than ever, there is a feeling we are living in a world that has spun out of balance. It seems the principles of force and effort are dominant in our society on all levels, and because we are all connected, it is this exact model that is not working and that has taken us to this place of global environmental and social crises. I think we are getting close to the point where we as a collective are so disturbed with what we have created that we say “we won’t take this any longer.” But right now there is already change brewing. And I believe one perfect example of this change is Marianne Williamson’s Sister Giant, which is a movement to start a new conversation, a “politics of the heart”. (see below)

Movements like Sister Giant are what we need to bring the qualities of masculine and feminine back into alignment in our world. There is always a masculine face and a feminine face to every energy and these two faces depend on one another to thrive. But we’ve been living in a world where the goal-oriented, assertive and individualistic qualities of the masculine have dominated the intuitive, non-differentiating, joining qualities of the feminine. So in order for this world to truly prosper individually and collectively we need our feminine energy to step into its full power again with the masculine.

Once we as a people have brought balance back into our society through the balance and union of the masculine and feminine, we will naturally find balance with Nature again as well. Instead of fighting against Nature as we have done for so long now, we will start to learn from and work with her. As Deepak Chopra and David Simon have written in their book Te Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, “Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease. If you look at the ebb and flow of the tides, the blossoming of a flower, or the movement of the stars, you do not see Nature straining.” We can echo Nature’s intelligence to live and create a new world of effortless ease, balance and rhythm.

And that is where it seems we are standing just on the cusp of potential.

     — Gretchen Bleiler, environmental activist, U.S. professional half-pipe snowboarder, Olympic Silver Medallist, four-time X Games Gold Medallist

The Sister Giant website, started by Marianne Williamson, focused on her running for the U.S. presidency earlier this year, but has a wonderful essay about empowerment and environmental aspect, here:

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 8, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Charlottetown Farmers' Market to Go, Tuesday noon for Thursday delivery/pickup:

Eat Local PEI -- Online Farmers' Market order: online orders until Wednesday for pickups this coming Friday 12-6, Saturday 12-6, and Sunday 12-4, plus home deliveries on Saturday 4-7pm.

these may be subject to change this week as conditions have changed so best to check the websites

A joke from Dominic Cummings (apparently a political adviser to Boris Johnson, kind of its own joke) via The other (U.K.) Guardian :
Why are Santa’s reindeer allowed to travel on Christmas Eve?
They have herd immunity.

A recent ad in The Graphic publications about the extension of CRTC hearings reminded me of Senator Percy Downe's efforts to remind Islanders of his concerns about the CBC and CRTC, and encourage public participation in the CRTC comment process.

The CBC is a Pandemic Lifeline. The CRTC Should Treat it Like One - Policy Magazine article by Percy Downe

In the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBC shut down local news shows just when news and information had become a matter of life and death. Local coverage was reinstated, but the CBC, the CRTC and Canadians need to learn from the experience.

Published on Monday, October 26, 2020, in Policy Magazine

The notion of a global village has been driven home this year, as a worldwide pandemic has had an impact unprecedented in the living memory of Canadians. Through lockdown, gradual reopening and further setbacks, and as concerns mount over what comes next, we have watched as countries the world over continue to deal with this situation. Some have been more successful than others, but the interconnectedness of our world makes us appreciate the global reach of COVID-19, and the global response to the challenge it represents.

Notwithstanding the value of a worldwide perspective, what is important now is what is happening in our own country and our own communities. We need to know what is safe in our own neighbourhoods and what actions our own public health authorities are recommending. Are things around us getting better or worse? It’s good to hear about ongoing work on a treatment or vaccine, but that doesn’t tell us whether we can meet with loved ones in person or on Zoom. Or whether we can invite our neighbours over instead of waving over the fence. For many of us, even with the world at our fingertips, that world seems to have gotten much smaller these last few months, making information about local conditions all the more important.

In many parts of the country, especially in remote and northern communities, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is the only lifeline for local news and information. Which is why it was especially disappointing when, on March 20th, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBC announced that it had suspended local TV evening news broadcasts. At a time when even the CBC acknowledged that “Canadians everywhere are desperate for good information and the latest developments as this crisis mounts”, the decision seemed nonsensical. Its impact was felt most acutely in places like Prince Edward Island, where CBC Compass is the only local evening TV news broadcast produced in the province.

CBC Compass has done an outstanding job informing Islanders about the decisions their provincial health officials have made to address the pandemic. As a province with some of the worst internet connections in the country and a higher-than-average proportion of the population identified as seniors, the information provided by Compass has been essential for Islanders to prepare for and cope with the pandemic. Although they did indeed restore local news within the week in the face of public pressure — including a petition launched by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting and signed by more than 6,000 people — a dangerous precedent had been set.

All television broadcasters in Canada operate with a license granted by the federal government; consequently, the CBC operates under guidelines set out by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as part of its license. Under these guidelines, the public broadcaster committed to “at least 7 hours of local programming per week”, the only exceptions being special sporting events or statutory holidays. Moreover, the CRTC noted that “the CBC cannot reduce the level of local programming under seven hours without Commission approval following a public process.”

In many parts of the country, especially in remote and northern communities, the CBC is the only lifeline for local news and information. Which is why it was especially disappointing when, on March 20th, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBC announced that it had suspended local TV evening news broadcasts.

However, prior to the CBC’s announcement, there was neither a public process nor CRTC approval. Perhaps the broadcaster decided it was easier to ask forgiveness than get permission. In that respect, they were proven correct, for although the Commission determined the CBC had acted in breach of its license agreement, it would face no penalty for doing so. It’s not as if the Commission is powerless to respond, or this was some sort of unforeseeable eventuality.

The Broadcasting Act, the legislation that governs the relationship between the CBC and the CRTC, prescribes a course of action if the CBC does not live up to its commitments. Section 18(3) of the Act states:

“The Commission may hold a public hearing, make a report, issue any decision and give any approval in connection with any complaint or representation made to the Commission or in connection with any other matter within its jurisdiction under this Act if it is satisfied that it would be in the public interest to do so.”

Section 25(1) is even more explicit in the case of a contravention by the CBC itself:

“Where the Commission is satisfied, after a public hearing on the matter, that the (Canadian Broadcasting) Corporation has contravened or failed to comply with any condition of a license referred to in the schedule, any order made under subsection 12(2) or any regulation made under this Part, the Commission shall forward to the Minister a report setting out the circumstances of the alleged contravention or failure, the findings of the Commission and any observations or recommendations of the Commission in connection therewith.”

This grants the Commission considerable latitude to act in such cases. I therefore wrote directly to the CRTC inquiring as to why they were not requiring the CBC to comply with the licence agreement. That they have plainly chosen not to is troubling to say the least.

Therefore, unless the Federal Minister of Heritage is prepared to intervene directly with the CRTC, the only recourse for Canadians will be the public hearings that the Commission will hold in January 2021 for the CBC license renewal application.

The CBC is not just another television network. It receives more than $1.2 billion in funding from Canadian taxpayers in order to fulfil its mandate. Part of that mandate is to keep Canadians informed, in good times and bad. For the CRTC to merely wave away the requirements of the Broadcasting Act is unacceptable.

This isn’t just a matter of the CBC facing consequences for its decisions in the early weeks of the pandemic. Canada is now facing a second wave, with the same worry and uncertainty as the first. Canadians know that at the start of the pandemic, the CBC and CRTC failed them. In a future crisis, what will happen if our national institutions do not hold, but crumble at the first sign of trouble?

Percy Downe is the Senator for Charlottetown.


I'll find the exact ad from Senator Downe in the next days.

Here are Mark Jacobson's list of sources for Wind, Water and Sunlight (WWS) -- a wonderfully long list of links for a blustery day:

A long lunchtime read about the downside of some electric batteries -- lithium mining (link only):

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Thomas Adès’s The Tempest, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Audrey Luna, Isabel Leonard, Iestyn Davies, Alek Shrader, Alan Oke, William Burden, Toby Spence, and Simon Keenlyside, conducted by Thomas Adès. From November 10, 2012.

John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, tonight 7:30PM until Wednesday about 6:30PM
Starring Sasha Cooke, Thomas Glenn, Gerald Finley, Richard Paul Fink, and Eric Owens, conducted by Alan Gilbert. From November 8, 2008.

Global Chorus essay for December 8
Mark Z. Jacobson

We believe it is technically and economically feasible to transform the world’s all-purpose energy infrastructure (for electricity, transportation, heating/ cooling, industry) into one powered by wind, water and sunlight (WWS) within 20–40 years.

The primary limitations are social and political, not technical or economic.

The limitations can be overcome by education of the public and policy-makers and demonstration of the health, climate and reliability benefits of clean energy technologies.

Ongoing efforts on large-scale conversion plans are discussed at

       — Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy program at Stanford University

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 7, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Well, OK, things are a little different now, but a little similar to spring....

Some up-to-date government Covid-19 news is here:

and the Government Facebook site which would show live broadcasts is here:

Food (these may have some changes this week, so stay tuned):

Charlottetown Farmers' Market to Go, Tuesday noon for Thursday delivery/pickup:

Eat Local PEI -- Online Farmers' Market order: online orders again on Tuesday for pickups this coming Friday 12-6, Saturday 12-6, and Sunday 12-4, plus home deliveries on Saturday 4-7pm.

Organic Veggie Delivery this week, order by tonight for Thursday delivery
Organic Veggie Delivery :: Veggies this Week

Here is a link to the Vimeo site for the film (35mintes) on the Service released yesterday to honour the victims of the Montreal Massacre and Gender-based violence on P.E.I.:

Atlantic Skies for December 7th-13th, 2020
by Glenn K. Roberts

The "Gems" of Mid-December

While December 1 marks the start of meteorological winter (based on the division of the year into four 3-month sections), the majority of us hold our collective breathes for the "official" start of winter on the 21st of the month (astronomical winter). Overhead, the stars bear silent witness to humankind's petty preoccupation with time and the turning seasons, oblivious to the fact that it is, from the audience seats of our planet, their nightly performances that we so eagerly await. Quiet now, please, ladies and gentlemen, the play is about to start.

As the setting Sun dims the celestial theatre lights to darkness, the actors begin to present themselves on stage. First to appear, in the opening acts of our winter's play, are Prince Perseus and his princess bride Andromeda, as well as the vain queen Cassiopeia, the ram Aries, and the silvery fishes of Pisces. Waiting in the sky's eastern wings for their cue to stride on stage as the play progresses towards midnight, is the bold hunter, Orion and his canine companions, the fierce bull Taurus, the renown charioteer, Auriga, and the tragic Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux. As befits divas, these actors are all prominently bedecked with some of the night sky's brightest and most colourful celestial jewels - Betegeuse, Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Procyon, and the night's brightest and most renowned jewel, Sirius. Once they have beguiled us with their harrowing adventures and tragic tales of love and sacrifice (on occasion bringing us to tears), they take their bows and, to our boisterous applause, make a quiet exit stage right as the sky's house lights are once again slowly raised in the east. Begrudge them not their rest though, for they will return each night throughout the winter season to yet again perform for us. Weather permitting, you shall have ample opportunity to assess their acting skills for yourself, and may well have occasion to yell "Bravo, bravo", and to toss flowers onto the stage.

The Geminid meteor shower (radiant in the constellation of Gemini - the Twins) is one of the year's most anticipated meteor showers. The shower peaks overnight on Dec. 13 - 14, starting just as the eastern sky darkens around 6:30 p.m. on the 13th, with the most meteors likely to be seen between 2 a.m. and dawn on the 14th, when the radiant is at its highest elevation in the night sky (about halfway from the horizon to the zenith). The Geminids (or "Gems" as they are affectionately called) are unique, in that they are the only meteor shower associated with an asteroid rather than a comet. It wasn't until after the asteroid 3200 Phaethon was discovered on Oct. 11, 1983, that the Gems were associated with this asteroid. Phaethon, an Apollo class asteroid, is listed as an "active asteroid", meaning that, although technically an asteroid, it demonstrates a comet-like characteristic of ejecting dust particles from its surface as it nears the Sun. Phaethon has a 1.434  year (523.6 days) orbital period. The Gems peak coincides with the New Moon phase (on the 14th), so there will be no interfering moonlight. Expect to see anywhere from 50+/hr to 150+/hr bright, slow moving, colourful meteors; the further you are away from urban lights, the more meteors you will observe. Dress warm (coat, warm boots, hat, gloves, scarf, etc),, find a comfortable chair or lounge chair (the best idea), blankets or sleeping bags, and something warm to drink; let your eyes dark adjust for 15-20 mins, place  the north-east behind you, and settle in for the show. If the weather forecast for the 13-14th is predicting clouds, try the night of the 12-13th, or the nights of the 14-15  or 15-16; the Gems are around until the 16th (though in lesser numbers). Enjoy!

Mercury, heading towards solar conjunction on the 19th, is too close to the Sun to be observed. Venus (mag. -3.96) is briefly visible in the eastern pre-dawn sky, rising around 5:25 a.m., reaching an altitude of 15 degrees above the southeast horizon before fading from view around 7:20 a.m.. Mars (mag. -0.91) is visible in the evening sky 31 degrees above the southeast horizon around 4:50 p.m., reaching its highest point in the early evening sky 51 degrees above the southern horizon; it is observable until about 2 a.m., at which time it drops below 8 degrees above the western horizon. Jupiter (mag. -2.02) and Saturn (mag. +0.64) are both visible in the early evening southwest, 18 degrees and 17 degrees respectively above the horizon, Jupiter by 4:50 p.m. and Saturn by 5:10 p.m.; Jupiter sets around 7:30 p.m, followed by Saturn around 7:40 p.m..

As mentioned last week, the year's final  (at least to date) comet is Comet Erasmus. Currently in the constellation of Libra - the Balance/Scales (in the eastern, pre-dawn sky around 6 a.m.), the comet shines at mag. 7.5 (visible in binoculars), Brightening daily, Eramus is expected to reach mag. 5.8 and naked-eye visibility by Dec. 11. To follow this comet, go to Comet C/2020 S3 (Erasmus) Information |

In closing, as much as I would like to claim the error was intentional to see if anyone was, in fact, reading my articles, the truth is, I made a mistake. In my Nov.23 column regarding Saturn's rings, I erroneously stated that the depth of the rings was up to 200 kms, when, in fact, I had meant to say 200 meters. Thanks to the sharp eyes of one of my readers, my error was discovered. Tip of my celestial hat to Pat D'Entremont.

Until next week, clear skies.


Dec.  7 - Last Quarter Moon

        12 - Moon at perigee (closest to Earth)

        13 - Geminid meteor shower peak (overnight)


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Puccini’s Tosca, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Shirley Verrett, Luciano Pavarotti, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Conlon. From December 19, 1978.  Just about two hours of classic!

Week 39's Theme: "In Plain English"

Thomas Adès’s The Tempest, tonight 7:30PM until Tuesday 6:30PM

Starring Audrey Luna, Isabel Leonard, Iestyn Davies, Alek Shrader, Alan Oke, William Burden, Toby Spence, and Simon Keenlyside, conducted by  (the composer!!) Thomas Adès. From November 10, 2012.  An amazingly inventive but approachable production. 2hours 20minutes.

Global Chorus essay for December 7
Martha “Pati” Ruiz Corzo

We have postponed addressing the planet’s emergencies beyond the limits of its forces; this emergency demands a wave of action. Society must walk in the direction of being more self-sufficient and frugal, and above all, turn its eyes to Nature and our close relationship with Her.

We must embrace the values of service and the common good, where generosity and love are the drivers. And since all that glitters is not gold, it would be best to leave this life having provided service and creativity rather than any debt generated by ambition and the destructive control of our system and the marketing of life on Earth.

The re-evolution towards a society in kinship with the biosphere means to embrace the simple life, accept the challenge to see who can live with the least and be healthier, not compete, cause minimum impact, dedicate our personal gifts to work and commit our emotion to the beauty and wisdom of creation.

So, cheers to the humans who recognize the Earth as their Mother and who relearn the purpose of having life and the capacity to act and construct futures with hope.

      — Martha “Pati” Ruiz Corzo, co-founder and director of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda IAP, UNEP Champion of the Earth, National Geographic Conservation Leader


essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 6, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Today: Artisan Christmas Market at the Charlottetown Farmers Market is CANCELLED

Some music later this week:

Friday, December 11th and Saturday, December 12th:
"Night Music" with pianist Sarah Hagen, 8-9PM, St. Paul's Anglican Church, "pay what you will" at the door

“Night Music” returns to St. Paul’s Church during the Advent season as a celebration of hope, love, joy and peace.

Pianist Sarah Hagen invites people yearning for an evening of repose through music to come out for a carefully curated hour-long programme of works by Chopin, Satie, Bach, and others. In the spirit of shared reflection, the audience is encouraged to enter quietly, and pieces will flow from one to the next without pause or applause... Seating will be distanced and very limited in accordance with current health guidelines. Please reserve places in advance by messaging Sarah through facebook, emailing or by filling out the reservation form found here:

Please note that October’s Night Music sold out well in advance so it is recommended to reserve places early.

Admission is “Pay What You Will” at the door.

For more information, visit

Todd E. MacLean, editor of Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, is (always!) working on new ventures. 

"The tentative working title is Global Chorus for Young Eco-Warriors: 50 Examples to Follow Toward Environmental Action. I'm working it now and plan to get this put together over the course of this winter and spring."

and a finished project is:

Christmas at Squirrel Castle
by Todd MacLean

"Deep within a forest called Arrahdoon, there is a place called Squirrel Castle. Tucked within a sacred tree called Great Grandmother Oak, Squirrel Castle is a friendly place, known and loved by all the animals in Arrahdoon Forest. Every year, King Simon and Queen Sara host a huge Christmas celebration at the Castle for all the forest animals to enjoy. But in this particular year, something has gone terribly wrong. And it takes a Christmas Eve adventure –– led by a shifty racoon to a hermit's backyard –– to figure out how to save Christmastime for Arrahdoon Forest."

Christmas at Squirrel Castle is a holiday children's book (for ages 7 to 9 or thereabouts, but hopefully enjoyable for adults, too) and is coming out soon in advance of Christmas. Written by Todd MacLean, illustrated by Laurie MacLean, and edited by Ann Thurlow, Christmas at Squirrel Castle is Todd's first children's book, and it is available for preorder

Amazon book purchase link, for now:

But will undoubtedly be in local bookstores within a few months.

Todd will be at a Book Signing in Charlottetown at Green Eye Designs on Victoria Row at 160 Richmond St on Wednesday, December 23rd, from 2-4PM. 

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming, the last days of "Stars in Signature Roles":

Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, today until 6:30PM
Starring Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, Tatiana Troyanos, and James King. From March 12, 1988.

Puccini’s Tosca, tonight 7:30PM until Monday about 6:30PM
Starring Shirley Verrett, Luciano Pavarotti, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Conlon. From December 19, 1978.

Global Chorus essay for December 6
Kristin McGee

Of course I think humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crises. I believe in our ability to adapt and to create solutions to our problems. I think more and more people are coming together in a communal way through yoga and other forms of movement, creativity and expression, through meditation, arts, music, theatre and healthy food. I believe the more we come together and find communities in our neighbourhoods, cities, states and countries, we can affect change and grow towards a more positive environment and way of living.

We are a global community and the amazing technology that we have today allows us to communicate with everyone all over the world. Through education, communication and social movements, we can create whatever we need to make sure we as a species – as well as all species – can thrive on this planet.

I have always seen the glass as not only half full, but overflowing with potential and infinite opportunities. I don’t even think we are in a crisis, just in a place where we need to discover what isn’t working for US (all of us, from the birds to the bees to the trees!) so that we can move towards something that will sustain us in a healthier, more positive way.

YES, we can do it!

     — Kristin McGee, celebrity yoga/Pilates instructor and trainor


essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 5, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

Tomorrow, Sunday, December 6th and Sunday, December 13th:

Artisan Christmas Market at the Charlottetown Farmers Market, 10AM-3PM.

Stop by and find gorgeous, one-of-a-kind crafts and artisan wares for gifting this holiday season!

The Artisan Christmas Market at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market takes place December 6 and 13 from 10 am to 3pm.

Admission is FREE and masks are mandatory.

The P.E.I. Legislature closed yesterday -- it's like sleigh bells start ringing and the everybody starts thinking of to-do lists, moving quicker, getting the required work done and suddenly, we're waiting for the Honourable Lieutenant Governor.  Once the Capital budget and related documents were being voted and commented on, it was apparent it was  heading for the door that day....
On one hand, it's too bad it didn't go a few more days and have continued discussions on issues, and some  stuff was left all over the place.  On the other, a lot of points were raised to hold government accountable, plans made for actions, some good bills passed or set up for the next term -- which is in FEBRUARY 2021, by the way, with the new calendar.

Some wrap-up documents and videos available here:
P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website
and here:
P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

The Guardian's wrap-up, good but gives too much time to the posturing about voting/abstaining for the capital budget and comments from MLAs about other MLAs' voting.....

Capital budget passes by healthy margin as fall session wraps up - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby

Published on Saturday, December 5th, 2020
comments by CO

In the end it was not close.  The final vote was 19 in favour to three against, with four abstentions.

The closing of the fall session of P.E.I.’s legislature saw the passage of a $195-million capital budget that the Progressive Conservative government of Dennis King portrayed as a plan to steer P.E.I. through the choppy economic waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After a lengthy capital estimates process, in which the Opposition Greens accused various ministers of failing to answer questions on the budget’s contents  (note from Chris: these accusations had merit), it had appeared a significant number of MLAs might vote against it. The Appropriations Act for the capital budget was a confidence motion, meaning it would need to pass to keep the government from falling.

On Friday, three MLAs – Liberals Robert Henderson and Heath MacDonald, and Green MLA Hannah Bell – voted against the capital budget. 

But more vocal criticism came from four MLAs from the Opposition Green bench – Trish Altass, Ole Hammarlund, Michele Beaton and Leader Peter Bevan-Baker — who all abstained from voting.

The move was unusual for a leader of the Opposition. 

Bevan-Baker told the legislature he was dismayed by allocations for affordable housing, a new mental health campus at Hillsborough Hospital and school construction that went unspent from the previous year’s budget.

"So far we've seen more of the dithering and lack of action that typified the previous administration," Bevan-Baker said.  "In many areas of this budget, government was unable or simply unwilling to give specifics, which makes it very difficult for us on this side of the house who have critical responsibilities to review and scrutinize government."

Similar statements were made by Hammarlund, Altass and Beaton prior to the vote. 

In an interview, Premier King pointed out that an abstention in a parliamentarian system counts as a vote in favour. He called the arguments about transparency from the Greens a “false narrative.”

"As the leader of the province, I need every day to have the strength and courage to make decisions. I don't have the ability to abstain," King said.  "We consulted with all parties in the development of this budget. I believe the Opposition Party asked for 13 requests — 12 of them are in the budget."

Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald called the abstentions from the Greens “rather cowardly.”  “People, society expect us to make those decisions. That's why we're elected,” Macdonald said. 

“If we all come in here with an attitude of abstaining on important votes, what would that do to the democratic process of Prince Edward Island?"

In an interview, Bevan-Baker said many members of his caucus felt the need to express dissent with the budget. But he said members of his caucus did not want to risk triggering a possible election through the defeat of a budget.

"I was talking my responsibility to Islanders as the leader of the Official Opposition to be absolutely sure that I did not contribute to something that I knew Islanders did not want," Bevan-Baker said.  "I'm surprised to hear Heath actually describe it that way."

Now, the real wrap-up of the sitting:
Throughout the session, the legislative assembly passed 28 bills introduced by government, in addition to the capital budget. Many seemed to involve relatively minor tweaks to existing legislation, but some were very substantial. One bill will allow the Province to recover costs due to pending lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies related to the opioid crisis. Another would allow arbitration for the first contract of newly unionized workers. 

King pointed to the Children’s Law Act, which revamped family law in the province, particularly as it relates to custody of children. It will also match legislation in P.E.I. to match recent changes to the Federal Divorce Act.

"I don't know if people who watch from the outside understand how much work goes into that. So that is a tremendous piece," King said.

Four bills introduced by the Liberals were passed during the session. One established March 21 as Down Syndrome Awareness Day, while another established a Winter Wellness Day in January to promote physical activities. Two other bills set out possible fines or jail time for individuals convicted of unlawfully entering places in which animals or livestock are kept.

(The first two are very feel good bills, and the latter two need a bit of scrutiny.)

"We listened to the agricultural community and the business community and people that had issues with health and that's where we went with this session," said interim Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant.

The Opposition Greens introduced one bill, the Net Zero Carbon Act, which was passed with support from all parties. The bill put in place a reporting framework for progress on climate change goals and set 2040 as the targeted date for achieving net zero emissions.

But the Greens focused significant attention during the session on debating non-binding motions, introducing five that were passed. One saw unanimous support amongst MLAs for a "moderate livelihood" for Mi’kmaq fishermen, both in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

Bevan-Baker said the focus on motions was intended to raise issues that are not always talked about.  "Sometimes the best way to make change is to have a really deep conversation about the issue,” Bevan-Baker said.  "We chose to devote our time to motions that were more reflective of the concerns of Islanders that we were hearing day after day."


Opera Overload:

Radio: Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, 2PM, 104.7FM, hosted from CBC Music by Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, starts the 27-week season of radio broadcasts -- recorded performances for the foreseeable future -- from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. So they are doing a lot of work there, bringing their recorded performances to people during the pandemic in the evening free video streaming and now the "regular" season of weekly recorded audio performances.

The time shifts to 2PM our time.
Prokofiev’s War and Peace
Performance from March 2, 2002
Valery Gergiev; Anna Netrebko (Natasha Rostova), Ekaterina Semenchuk (Sonya), Elena Obraztsova (Mme. Akhrosimova), Gegam Grigorian (Count Pierre Bezukhov), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Prince Andrei), Vassily Gerello (Napoleon Bonaparte), Samuel Ramey (Field Marshal Kutuzov)
Wow!! And I was just commenting that this one doesn't get done often....
Metropolitan Opera
video performance streaming:

Bizet’s Carmen, today until 6:30PM
Starring Barbara Frittoli, Elīna Garanča, Roberto Alagna, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From January 16, 2010.  Intense, colourful, the whole opera is one familiar melody.

Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, tonight 7:30PM until Sunday about 6:30PM
Starring Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, Tatiana Troyanos, and James King. From March 12, 1988.  Almost wacky, opera-within-an-opera, despite its dramatic classic name, about two troupes that have to work together on one stage. Very short at just about two hours, and Jessye Norman was radiant as Ariadne.

Global Chorus essay for December 5

Matthew Wilburn King

Although evolution has backed us into a corner when it comes to existential threats such as climate change, it also offers us a way out. Climate change poses real challenges for current and future generations. The failure of traditional human governance institutions to come to grips with climate change – to perceive the threat, formulate a coherent and flexible response and then enact it with vigor and discipline – is all too plain.

Cultural evolution makes it possible to create the necessary changes for survival despite our inherent biological traits that favor short-term interest over our long-term welfare. The survival and evolution of cultures rely on the inheritance of learned behaviors that can be transmitted and that change over time. Evolutionary history has also equipped us for long-term planning and action. We can imagine and predict multiple, complex outcomes and act accordingly in the present to achieve desired outcomes in the future. This human capacity is nearly two million years old.

Although evolutionary theory shows that we care most about our genetic relatives, culturally we have embodied and acted upon concerns that extend beyond family to others and to times beyond our own lifespans. Governments have traditionally performed this role, but they have not been effective. Fortunately, we are now seeing the emergence of a kind of governance that departs from the centralized, top-down structures we have so far relied upon to solve problems.

Networked systems of governance are a shift toward a more self-organizing approach that brings together dispersed individuals from the state, civil society and private sectors that have a shared interest. Each acts independently yet remains connected through exchanging information, planning for future events and co-operating as is useful. Networked governance is the type of social evolutionary development or adaptation that will make it possible for us to counter our inherent biases so that we can begin to reorder our lives in a way that moves us toward a more sustainable future. We can help drive their evolution by exploring ways they might be replicated at varying scales to share lessons learned and encourage adoption of good governance practices. Networked systems of governance are currently the most versatile, agile and adaptive systems available to meet the challenges ahead of us. The task now is to identify and strengthen these new systems as they are emerging.

      —Matthew Wilburn King, PhD, social entrepreneur, consultant, adviser, researcher, philanthropist, founder and president/chairman of Living GREEN Foundation

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 4, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM-1PM today.

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

Fridays4Future, 3:30PM, in front of Province House, reminding leaders and public about climate change.
Facebook group page

Jingle Bell Walk, 6-7:30PM, Charlottetown Beach Grove Routes for Nature and Health, 200 Beach Grove Road, hosted by the City of Charlottetown’s Parks and Recreation Department.
A self-guided walk anytime during that time, with the PEI Library launching its first StoryWalk (featured story will be “Snowmen at Night” by Caralyn Buehner). The StoryWalk will remain at the Beach Grove Nature Trails for the month of December.

Hot chocolate while you are there, some holiday themed paint your own cookies for children as a take home activity.

Bring a flashlight to light the trail and a bell for some holiday jingle. All participants are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask.

Info: Parks and Recreation Department (902) 368-1025.

The Santa Claus Parade may be going by there this evening, too -- Check the routes and dates here:

PEI Symphony Orchestra presents Principal Morgan Saulnier, flute, in concert with Francis McBurnie, Doors open 7PM, concert at 7:30PM, Kirk of St. James tonight, Charlottetown.
"TWO evenings of rich and evocative flute repertoire on December 4 at The Kirk of St. James in Charlottetown and December 11 at Hillcrest Church in Montague.

Morgan and Frances have been making music together for nearly two decades, with performances spanning from PEI to British Columbia. This program will feature works by Griffes, Deutilleux, Handel, Srul Irving Glick, and others.

Tickets for the Dec 4th performance in Charlottetown can be purchased in advance here:

Tickets for the Dec 11th performance in Montague can be purchased in advance here:

  Yesterday's Question Period was actually brimming with questions and answers -- not so many "gotcha" questions and not so many gushing, useless or evasive non-answers.  Even Premier Denny King commented on this when he said toward the end it wasn't like "this party or that party won" -- Islanders won, presumably saying that when Opposition and backbenchers ask questions that pin down Government on specifics or shed light on areas, and when Ministers actually provided succinct and clear answers or commit to actions, they are doing an important part of their job (and not really wasting time and money).

Question Period transcripts (draft) are available later the afternoon of the same day, at the Legislative Assembly website.

Opinion from Vision PEI and David Weale:


by David Weale
published on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020, on social media

A recent paid ad in the Guardian with the above heading (and sponsored by businesses and organizations associated with industrial farming) contained two principal points, the first was the repeated attempt to convince Islanders that the type of farming we presently have is necessary to “protect our Island’s food supply.”

Essentially it is a scare tactic, and a lie to boot.

There is no greater threat to the long-term food security of the Island (and the world) than the soil-damaging and water-guzzling methodologies of industrial agriculture. Not only is their claim a lie, but it is the BIG lie: the kind that asserts boldly and cynically the exact opposite of the actual situation.

The second point that comes across between the lines is that when big companies begin doing this kind of expensive, high profile self-justifying it becomes clear that we are getting to them.

In that regard I rather liked the ad! Keep it up gang. They are worried; sensing a shift in public opinion.


I am all for maintaining the infrastructure we already have (instead of building new roads over farmland and woods), but hadn't thought of this aspect...

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cycling in P.E.I. a dangerous proposition

published on Thursday, December 3rd, 2020, in The Guardian

For those unfamiliar with the section of Route 12, known as the Cascumpec Road, it's 19-kilometres from Portage to Alberton, dotted with fields, farms, and forests with beautiful views of the Cascumpec Bay and the rivers that feed it. 

Filled with gently rolling hills, winding turns and having almost been completely repaved in the King government's recent resurfacing rampage. This road seems like an ideal route for a cyclist looking for a Saturday ride, or at least that's what I thought before heading out from Alberton Saturday, Nov. 28. It wasn't long before I had a hearse whiz by within a meter as I climbed a blind hill; talk about bad omens. Further on down the road, I encountered someone walking on the opposite side of the road, with long lines of half-ton trucks and SUVs coming from both directions it quickly became a hairy situation. Fortunately, the vehicle at the front of the oncoming lane slowed to a near stop giving both myself and the walker some much-needed space. 

Another kilometre or so and I'd have the closest call of the day when rounding a blind turn with a half-ton truck in the oncoming lane, a small car and white SUV flew past me crossing the double solid center line forcing both me and the oncoming half-ton to swerve on to the unpaved shoulder. And that unpaved shoulder is also in part what makes the Cascumpec Road so dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, forcing us to share a lane with the multi-ton vehicles now effortlessly exceeding speed limits on asphalt as smooth as the Autobahn. 

The fact that millions were invested in revitalizing this stretch and many other roads for those behind the wheel of gas-guzzling motor vehicles while adding nothing to increasing the appeal or even safety of active transportation says a lot about what this government prioritizes.
Samuel Arsenault,

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Verdi’s Macbeth, today until 6:30PM
Starring Anna Netrebko, Joseph Calleja, Željko Lučić, and René Pape, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From October 11, 2014.

Bizet’s Carmen, tonight 7:30PM until Saturday about 6:30PM
Starring Barbara Frittoli, Elīna Garanča, Roberto Alagna, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From January 16, 2010.

Global Chorus essay for December 4
Allana Beltran

All crises, personal and global, lead to change. The current crises have arisen in culmination of past attempts to avoid our humanity by escaping into materialism. Hope for our future requires a shift in human consciousness.

Sustainable cultures throughout history have one major characteristic that is largely missing from the current dominant forms of governance: a spirituality that sees the divinity in all things and surrenders to it. Without a sense of spirituality we seek fulfillment and identity in temporal material objects and power. These illusions we have been pursuing are now crumbling at our feet – witnessed through the destruction of society and the environment. Realizing this, I believe many people will reconnect to their spiritual self by praying in surrender to their personal divinity for help. I feel this shift has already started.

In the breakdown and disillusionment of materialism, the active power of love and compassion will be enabled to arise from our innate nature. We will feel reverence for the interconnectedness of all life and subsequently act to protect it. In our stewardship of the Earth, true fulfillment will arise in the hearts of humankind.

I believe it is because of these crises and the consequential changes that our collective consciousness can shift to a higher state of being. I believe we may well be as never before, walking into a time of global oneness in which we will experience everything – rivers, oceans, birds, animals, humans, mountains, forests, all life – as an interconnected part of our own self.

     — Allana Beltran, Australian artivist

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 3, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5 and 7-9PM today.

You can watch live here:

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

and at the Assembly website, you can find documents they are discussing, like the capital budget or various motions or bills.
Charlottetown Community Conservation about Food -- last one!
Theme: Buy and Celebrate, 2PM.

To build on and celebrate assets in the food system to encourage more citizens to buy and support local.
These Community Conversations are "60-minute virtual workshops hosted online. All members of the public are invited and encouraged to virtually attend one of these community conversations on food. Pre-registration is required and available online at the link provided below."
Facebook event details

A check-in with rights, responsibilities, and who is holding power in Charlottetown right now, thanks to Doug MacArthur and the Stop Killam PEI website and social media posting:

Here is an article on Charlottetown development, which appeared in The Guardian today. We hope you will share this.

Read the full article below, written by Doug MacArthur (we will include a link when it's available on The Guardian website):

Charlottetown development: Fact and fiction

By Doug MacArthur
published on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020, in The Guardian

Residents of our city, and many others who care about our city, are encountering ongoing development misinformation and restricted public input by city hall. The city's development objective seems to be to have every conceivable project approved with a minimum of public input and in the shortest timeframes possible. Let's look at the misinformation and fiction.

We are being told that all new construction projects are great for economic development and create needed employment. The proponents of that fiction have obviously no knowledge of economics. If life were so simple, P.E.I. could increase its dairy quota and its lobster trap limits one hundredfold, could entice in 100 Costcos, could build 50,000 new apartment units, and we would all live richly and happily ever after. Unfortunately, in the real world there is a required economic balance called demand and supply. There is also a requirement for government to wisely manage our agricultural land base, our fisheries stocks, and our urban development priorities.

The next fiction we are being told is that there is a Charlottetown area general housing shortage. However, there continues to be a major affordable housing need for those who cannot afford to pay market prices for their housing. Very little is being done in the city to respond effectively to that need. Instead, city hall engages in tokenism by praising and approving questionable highend residential projects based on a project having 4-5 per cent affordable housing units. Our city will never come to grips with affordable housing needs until city hall makes an authentic effort to directly address the affordability problem instead of being an enabler of developers' inclusion of a few token units of affordable housing to justify much larger high-end projects.

Our business community is a valued partner in the development of our city. However, when 25-30 businesses, some of them from off-Island, upon request provide letters of support to city hall for a developer's Sherwood Crossing project, and when most, if not all, are suppliers to that developer, they may be allowing their business interests to conflict with their community responsibilities. Sherwood Crossing may be beneficial for those particular businesses, but it may be devastating for Mount Edward Road and other area residents. As residents, we try to support local businesses and we place ourselves at risk in these COVID-19 times by supporting the need for foreign workers employed locally. We expect some consideration in return.

One of the baseless red herrings raised by proponents of questionable projects is that concerned residents are only complaining because they have a Not In My Back Yard negativity to any project. Any citizen who is not concerned about what happens in his or her "backyard" is probably not one of the many thousands of residents who have built our city into one of the finest anywhere. The day residents stop being concerned about development in their neighbourhood is the day we will have turned over our city to developers to do with it as they please.

Finally, this city administration is engaging in public misinformation and restricting public input. For example, Mayor Brown continues to cite "as of right" as the (fictional) reason there has been no city council input or public meetings allowed in the questionable 15 Haviland St. 99-unit approval process. However, as of right only applies if a development has met all zoning and bylaw regulations. That particular project has not even come close. Similarly, city hall has refused to share and allow public input in the major city-financed traffic study which relates to Sherwood Crossing. It is not acceptable that a study paid for by our residents and which can cast light on a proposed Sherwood Crossing development which may house up to 1,000 new residents, is kept from the local community who will be most affected.

City hall needs to begin providing the responsible stewardship and public input our citizens deserve and expect. The two years to date of this administration has been a feeding frenzy for developers who are able to get what they want, regardless of how unreasonable the ask. And the asks and the enabling have become even more unreasonable, as evidenced by 15 Haviland Str. and Sherwood Crossing. Neither project will currently stand up to public scrutiny, so the city hall solution has been to cut off public scrutiny. Unless we stand up as a community, these projects will continue to be approved without proper public input. Developers will get richer while our community pays the price.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Wagner’s Parsifal, today until 6:30PM
Starring Katarina Dalayman, Jonas Kaufmann, Peter Mattei, Evgeny Nikitin, and René Pape, conducted by Daniele Gatti. From March 2, 2013.  Wagner threw so much into this, his last opera.  4 hours 50 minutes.

Verdi’s Macbeth, tonight 7:30PM until 6:30PM Friday
From October 11, 2014.  "Star soprano Anna Netrebko created a sensation with her riveting performance as the malevolent Lady Macbeth, the central character in Verdi’s retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy. She is joined by Željko Lučić, who brings dramatic intensity and vocal authority to the title role of the honest general driven to murder and deceit by his ambitious wife. The great René Pape is Banquo and Joseph Calleja gives a moving performance as Macduff. Adrian Noble’s powerful production provides an ideal setting for this dark drama, which is masterfully presided over by Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi."  Riveting -- such an amazing performance.  Under 3 hours.

I wish she were on the East Coast, so we could see her and her works in person...

Global Chorus essay for December 3rd
Mae Moore

We will not know if we can turn around the destructive path we are on until the time arrives when we have accomplished it.

To get there, we must protect the last remaining wild places on Earth from resource extraction and we must live by a new model that values health and happiness over economic profit. Each and every person in the First World must recognize with gratitude (and not a sense of entitlement) that her/ his lifestyle comes at a cost to the environment, to the Third World and to the planet, and must take steps to shift this. We need to move away from being rabid consumers and realize that there is nothing more important than clean water, clean air and fertile soil.

Our population is too large to be supported by our planet. We have disrupted entire ecosystems under the guise of progress. We cannot keep doing this. People are awakening to one climate crisis after another. Our time is running out to effect change.

Do I have hope? I answer that question with no, I do not have hope, as hope is too passive an election. I will, however, live my life with the lightest footprint possible and I will work toward actively redirecting our collision course, through education, through public governmental lobbying against fossil fuel, through growing food organically for my family and community and through protecting our environment for other species at risk – through civil disobedience if called for.

    -----Mae Moore, Canadian musician, artist, organic farmer, activist

See her website for her beautiful, vivid paintings and more about her:

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 2, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The P.E.I. Legislature sits this afternoon, from 2-5PM.

You can watch live here:
P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

More news about their work so far in the coming days, but a short note from District 23 Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke MLA Trish Altass writes on social media:

"Pleased that my motion urging Government to

publicly fund the Shingrix (Shingles) vaccine to Islanders 60-70 years of age, has passed unanimously. We must do everything we can to support our seniors to live healthy and well." 

Altass also read the summary of the report and moved the (unanimous) adoption of her report from the Special Committee on Poverty on PEI, which looked specifically at implementing a Basic Income Guarantee.  Huge amount of work, and Altass kept the project moving and put together.
Committee page

(I can't find the report yet but will post it when I do)
Open Dialogue Live: The Future of Farming, 6:30PM, online free seminar, from Dalhousie University

"What does an increasingly digital-first world mean for the future of farming? The growth of digital agriculture, like advanced devices, precision and robotic systems, will impact how farms and other industry stakeholders could become more profitable, efficient, safe and environmentally friendly.

In this episode of Open Dialogue Live, two researchers and a PhD student from the Faculty of Agriculture will discuss what this means in practice. The conversation will focus on the benefits and challenges of implementing digital technology along with how farmers are involved in developing applicable and acceptable solutions."

For more event details and to register:

Registration website link

It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play performs starting tomorrow through Saturday at the Confederation Centre and next week at The Watermark Theatre in North Rustico, presented by ACT.
more info:
The event will also run at the Watermark on December 10, 11, 12
Tickets for Charlottetown run:

Local shopping option:
Discover Charlottetown has put together a "Wishbook" featuring glossy (on-line) pages of various items for sale in the area, that can be obtained in-store or ordered on-line.

from The (U.K.) Guardian, Wedensday, December 2nd, 2020:

Sea change – Governments responsible for 40% of the world’s coastlines have pledged to end overfishing, restore dwindling fish populations and stop the flow of plastic pollution into the seas in the next 10 years. The countries – Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau and Portugal – will end harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing, a key demand of campaigners. The countries’ leaders have set out a series of commitments that mark the world’s biggest ocean sustainability initiative, in the absence of a fully fledged UN treaty on marine life. Each country has pledged to ensure all their exclusive economic zones in the ocean are managed sustainably by 2025. That amounts to an area of ocean roughly the size of Africa.

Full article:

Totally unrelated to anything, but still sad...

The death of Darth Vader - The Guardian article by Colby Cash

Published on the Saltwire website on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

On Saturday, David Prowse, the bodybuilder from Bristol, England, who played Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, died of COVID-19 in a London hospital. I don’t know if it’s true that people generally die in the way that they lived, but Prowse’s death certainly reflects the oddity of his career.

Darth Vader is a staple of global culture, a byword for cinematic evil. Considered  a celebrity in his own right, Vader would be the most famous person to succumb to the pandemic by some distance. But even Star Wars fanatics do not really think of Dave Prowse as Darth Vader.

And, well, that’s because Darth Vader has never been fewer than about a half-dozen people. James Earl Jones, as everybody knows, provided the menacing voice. (George Lucas’ first choice is said to have been Orson Welles.) Prowse turned out to be too clumsy to handle the light-sabre fight sequences, so a fencer and stage choreographer, Bob Anderson, “plays” Vader in most of those scenes — a fact informally suppressed until Mark Hamill spilled the beans in 1983.

During the big reveal in the conclusion of the trilogy, the unmasked Vader is, of course, played by Sebastian Shaw. Vader’s respiration, essential to the effect of the character, was provided by sound designer Ben Burtt playing around with scuba gear. And you can argue that none of these Vaders is as important as the designer of Vader’s costume, Ralph McQuarrie.

Prowse, already famous in the United Kingdom for being the star of a road safety publicity campaign for children,......

British actor David Prowse, from 1975, as the Superhero "Green Cross Code Man", teaching street-crossing safety.  from his obituary from the BBC

....was recruited to “Star Wars” more or less strictly for his physique. He stood 6-6 and worked out; at that time, and especially on that side of the Atlantic, this made him as unusual as any circus performer. In our higher-tech age of filmmaking, the antagonist in a science-fiction epic would be one talented actor; special effects and Hollywood “exercise” routines would be used to take care of the rest. In the 1970s, George Lucas was forced to pioneer the synthetic villain.

Synthetic, sure, but on the set, in the scenes requiring Vader to interact with other actors, Dave Prowse had to do the work, which included suiting up in a fussy, awkward outfit. He learned all of Vader’s dialogue; Carrie Fisher later recalled that his West Country accent led to the cruel nickname Darth Farmer, which surely wasn’t coined by the Americans in the cast. English accent prejudices evidently date back long ago, and are found in galaxies far, far away.

Members of the Star Wars generation viewing the first film as adults may find, or merely fancy, that they can detect a seam between the “physical portrayal” of Vader and James Earl Jones’s delivery of the dialogue. But it can’t be denied that Vader’s towering physical presence was a non-negotiable feature of Star Wars. Prowse’s “part” of the Darth Vader performance gets the main point right. Vader is, above all, imperious and intimidating.

In later life, Prowse fell out with Lucas and the “Star Wars” merchandising empire. This may have been attributable to Prowse’s candour, for he was known to mention that his “profit-sharing” contract for “Return of the Jedi” added up to nothing after “Hollywood accounting” was applied.

Maybe Lucas and co. just felt that Prowse wasn’t Darth Vader-y enough without the costume and the dubbing, and preferred to keep him in the background. He remains there now, in death. And yet, according to the ancient traditions of the acting profession, the performer who first plays a role, and not the writer or the director, is referred to as its creator.

originally from The National Post


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

"Stars in Signature Roles" week continues with:

Verdi’s Aida, today until 6:30PM
Starring Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossotto, James McCracken, and Simon Estes. From January 3, 1985.  Sumptuous production, and Leontyne Price is so absolutely gorgeous and sings so masterfully as Aida -- her last appearance in the role.

Wagner’s Parsifal, tonight 7:30PM until about 6:30PM Thursday
Starring Katarina Dalayman, Jonas Kaufmann, Peter Mattei, Evgeny Nikitin, and René Pape, conducted by Daniele Gatti. From March 2, 2013.  OK, so it is nearly five hours long, but "Jonas Kaufmann in the title role of the fool 'made wise by compassion' is as convincing vocally as he is haunting dramatically, delivering a thoroughly moving portrayal. René Pape is equally compelling as Gurnemanz, the veteran Knight of the Grail..."

Global Chorus essay for December 2
Stephen Gardiner

Seven billion people stranded on a small planet face a big problem. Nothing stands in the way of their confronting this problem but themselves. Yet the challenge is extreme: the problem is genuinely global, profoundly intergenerational, and current institutions and theories are poorly placed to cope. Worse, the position of the most affluent is ethically compromised: they face strong temptations to continue to take modest benefits now while passing severe and possibly catastrophic costs to the future, and especially to the less advantaged and other species. This global environmental tragedy constitutes a “perfect moral storm.” Climate change is a paradigm example.

The perfect moral storm is a severe challenge, and so far we are not doing very well. Yet succumbing to the storm is not inevitable. The dominant institutions of the age – markets and standard election cycles – may be good at highlighting short-term, narrowly economic motivations and bad at capturing concerns for distant people, future generations and Nature. Still, this does not mean that we do not have such concerns, or that they cannot be made operative in policy. In my view, we do and we can. Confronting the storm will require extraordinary courage, imagination, creativity and fortitude. It will take a great generation to try, and an even greater one to succeed. Yet we can be that generation.

We must.

      — Stephen M. Gardiner, Ben Rabinowitz Endowed Professor of the Human Dimensions of the Environment, University of Washington, author of A Perfect Moral Storm

current position:

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

December 1, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The P.E.I. Legislature resumes sitting for the week, from 2-5PM and 7-9PM.

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

A lot about food today:

ACORN's 1st Annual Organic Producers' Summit, 10AM-3PM, streamed live online on Facebook live, all welcome to attend.
The Summit will touch on topics such as global market trends and opportunities for the Island, access to water, access to organic land and new work towards creating processing infrastructure.

All are welcome to view online and learn how the PEI Organic industry is growing and planning for the future!

- - - Agenda for the Day - - -
* Please note timing may vary.

10:45 - Sebastian Manago, Market Researcher

Market research presentation that will identify global market trends and specifically what markets may be of most opportunity for the Island. This will include potential recommendations for policies, programs and practices including some GMO-free products.

12:30 - Infrastructure Project – Karen Murchison, PEI Certified Organic Producers

Update on the infrastructure project currently being negotiated to create food hubs and food aggregators to give farmers the space they need to process and add value to their products – on a smaller, shared infrastructure model.

1:15 - Draft Position Paper on Agriculture Irrigation –
Matthew Ramsay, PEI COPC Vice President

The Association has created a draft irrigation position paper which includes a comprehensive approach to providing the farming community with access to water. There will be a presentation of the Cooperative’s position with debate and discussion.

1:45 - Organic Land Network – Karen Murchison, PEI Certified Organic Producers

Securing organic land can be a challenge for farmers. There are also landowners who would like to lease their land to the organic community. The association is exploring the concept of an Organic Land Network that could act in a management role for landowners and farmers.

Facebook event link
PEI Certified Organic Producers' Co-operative Facebook page

The Food Security Project: Cooking with Andy Hay, 12noon-12:30PM, online, all welcome.

On December 1st at 12 p.m., Andy Hay of Andy's East Coast Kitchen will be joining us for a very exciting #GivingTuesday Facebook Premiere. In this 30-minute cooking event, Andy will teach attendees how to prepare a simple, delicious meal with easy-to-obtain ingredients.

The cooking lesson will be followed by live Q&A chat session with Andy Hay and Ashley MacDonald, a PhD student in the Faculty of Agriculture.

This event is intended as a thank you for our Giving Tuesday donors-and as a learning opportunity for students. After all, food insecurity is about more than empty cupboards. It can also occur when people lack the resources and knowledge necessary to store and prepare food.

Whether you're a student, alumni, community member, or donor, we can't wait to see you there!

Community Cenversations about Food: Grow, Build and Support, 7PM, online. Sponsored by the City of Charlottetown Food Council/Sustainability programming

The Conversation about Growing, Building and Supporting is happening tomorrow, December 1st at 7PM!

We’re looking forward to talking to our panelists
Lisa Fernandes (Food Solutions New England), Ann Wheatley (Cooper Institute) about how we can inspire neighbourhood level food security.

Description: This conversation's theme is inspired by the power of neighbourhood level action in building community and a sustainable food system. There are many examples of neighbours supporting each other from the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are also many projects across the country and globe that demonstrate action at the neighbourhood level as a means of establishing food security, as well as contributing assets to local communities. How can individuals in Charlottetown grow, build, and support good ideas as it pertains to food assets? How can we support food security growth on neighbourhood levels, and support our neighbours in doing the same? The goal of this session is to build on assets in our own food system and create more connections and action at our neighbourhood levels, benefitting the whole community.

Follow our Facebook event page to

If you haven’t registered yet, please follow this link

The last Conversation (on Buy and Celebrate) is Thursday, December 3rd.

It's "Giving Tuesday", a bit of a palate-cleanser from all the on-line shopping frenzy of the past few days, and if you can, you are encouraged to make a donation to an organization of your choice.  On the Island itself, besides many people-helping groups, there are several environmental/land preservation groups that run on donations, many of which are registered charities and give you a tax-receipt for your donation, if that's an incentive for you.

A slightly less obvious choice would be Project Drawdown, an international group that is working to bring down carbon emissions rapidly and with people's health in mind.

"Founded in 2014, Project Drawdown is a nonprofit organization that seeks to help the world reach “Drawdown”— the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline."
Chad Frischman, research team member, was in Pugwash at the Thinkers' Lodge retreat on "Climate Change and the Human Prospect" in 2017 and is a really energetic and realistic person.

Jonathan Foley, executive director of Project Drawdown, writes:

Thank you for your continued interest in Project Drawdown! We are very grateful to you all.
While we have made numerous contributions to addressing climate change, our work is only beginning.  Buoyed by the recent election in the United States and accelerating action on climate change from communities, businesses, and policy-makers, we see this as a critical phase to advance climate solutions.
In short, 2021 will be a pivotal year in addressing climate change, and Project Drawdown is gearing up for it.

We have been ramping up efforts in research and communication, discovering and disseminating the best climate solutions to the world.  Moreover, we have launched exciting new efforts around education (Drawdown Learn), community partnerships, and engaging businesses, investors, and philanthropists (Drawdown Labs).  And coming soon, we are launching a major new effort called Drawdown Lift to link climate change solutions to alleviating poverty, improving public health, and other “win-win” opportunities to protect the planet and improve human wellbeing.
(Donations help) Project Drawdown identify and amplify solutions to the climate emergency — and share that work with communities, policy-makers, business leaders, educators, and other decision makers worldwide... (and) help Project Drawdown address the climate crisis.

Project Drawdown donation page

words from a wise woman....

LETTER: Equal access for vaccine - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, November 30th, 2020, in The Guardian

I get it that every country wants to ensure that their citizens get first crack at a COVID-19 vaccine. But, what about caring that billions of less fortunate people around the world won't have equal access? The refugees time-locked in camps, people in conflict zones, the millions more in poorer developing countries? Are their lives not as valued as ours, we who are merely by accident of birth being born in wealthy developed countries? And what about the potential for even more violent world unrest as people in those environments seek safer countries as they flee conflict, starvation, disease, extreme poverty and now potentially no access to pandemic vaccines?

I am referring to the recent action by Canada the U.S., the European Union, Britain and Australia to block a motion made by the WTO that would waive Big Pharmas' patent protection known as "intellectual rights" on COVID-19 vaccines. A patent or intellectual rights as described in trade deals allows Big Pharma to control who gets the vaccine and when, as well as how much they can charge.

This when Big Pharma has received unprecedented amounts of taxpayers' [public] monies to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Surely Canadians don't want to help Big Pharma put profits before the lives of billions of people in poorer parts of the world. Seems like our government is doing just that!

Edith Perry,  Millview

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, today until about 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Valery Gergiev. From February 24, 2007.  "The pain of unrequited love is portrayed unforgettably by two of today’s greatest stars. Renée Fleming is musically and dramatically radiant as the shy Tatiana, who falls in love with the worldly Onegin, played with devastating charisma by Dmitri Hvorostovsky...."

Verdi’s Aida, tonight 7:30PM until Wednesday about 6:30PM
Starring Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossotto, James McCracken, and Simon Estes.  From January 3, 1985. This was a magical evening, as it was Price's final performance at The Met, as Aida, and she is given this crazy-long ovation after her final massive aria.

Global Chorus essay for December 1
Yasmin Rasyid

We already have the basic know-how and the technology to address current global environmental and social crises. We have so many amazing technological advancements but we use them more for selfish and self-destructing reasons. What is missing is the political will and the pressure from all parts of civil society to ensure proper governance and enforcement on the ground. Today we seem to be having too many meetings, talking too much, with minimal actions on the ground. This has got to change. We need more people to walk the talk. Technocracy is getting in the way of any efforts to work on building a sustainable planet.

Many of us have hope, but that’s not enough. Hope needs to be translated into real, tangible actions on the ground, and many of us are still not changing ourselves for the better – be it in the way we live sustainably or the way we utilize resources. Sitting around and hoping doesn’t do justice to the environment; we need to rise to the occasion, even if it’s something small like working with your neighbours to solve trash issues, or educating children about sustainable living in schools, or even starting with changing the way you manage your home. I believe if we can all collectively pick one thing we can change for the better today, we can make more visible differences to the planet.

Every day, the human race hopes for something, but hoping does not help solve any problems around us. Doing something will change more parameters.

      —Yasmin Rasyid, founder and president of EcoKnights, chair of Malaysian Environmental NGOs (MENGO) 2013/2014

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014