CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

February 2016

Contents

  1. 1 February 29, 2016
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 1.2 Leap Day gathering on P.E.I. calls for action on climate change - The Guardian article submitted by Citizens' Alliance of PEI
  2. 2 February 28, 2016
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  3. 3 February 27, 2016
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 3.2 Active partners in electoral debate - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  4. 4 February 26, 2016
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  5. 5 February 25, 2016
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  6. 6 February 24, 2016
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 6.2 Premier Wade MacLauchlan upsets electoral apple cart - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  7. 7 February 23, 2016
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  8. 8 February 22, 2016
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 8.2 Time to Loosen the Purse Strings Mr. Irving: We’ll All Benefit -  Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie
  9. 9 February 21, 2016
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  10. 10 February 20, 2016
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 10.2 An informed choice - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  11. 11 February 19, 2016
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 11.2 Canada doesn't need an economy that is beholden to swinging oil prices - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Robert vanWaarden
  12. 12 February 18, 2016
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 12.2 OPINION: Close call at Canada Post mailbox - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Linda Webber
  13. 13 February 17, 2016
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  14. 14 February 16, 2016
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 14.2 Frank McKenna knew what he wanted - The Guardian article by columnist Alan Holman
  15. 15 February 15, 2016
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 15.2 Will Liberals take easy money to avoid hard decisions? - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
    3. 15.3 Balancing the provincial budget is not a priority - The Easten Graphic article by Allan Rankin
  16. 16 February 14, 2016
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 16.2 Remove Parking Fees - The Guardian Guest Opinion by James Alyward
  17. 17 February 13, 2016
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 17.2 Water governance in P.E.I. Water Act - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Catherine O'Brien and Don Mazer
  18. 18 February 12, 2016
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 18.2 Biological effects of Glyphosate remain unknown - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  19. 19 February 11, 2016
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 19.2 New life for editorial reform plebiscite? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Anna Keenan
    3. 19.3 Liberal pamphlet a waste of money - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  20. 20 February 10, 2016
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 20.2 Ecological governance and dealing with P.E.I.'s Water Act issues - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Catherine O'Brien and Don Mazer
  21. 21 February 9, 2016
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  22. 22 February 8, 2016
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 22.2 Wade MacLauchlan's comments leave electoral reform on life support - The Guardian Lead Editorial
  23. 23 February 7, 2016
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  24. 24 February 6, 2016
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 24.2 There must be other Page 1 news for the Guardian - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  25. 25 February 5, 2016
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  26. 26 February 4, 2016
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  27. 27 February 3, 2016
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 27.2 New Markets - The Guardian article
    3. 27.3 For Canadian innovators, will TPP mean protection – or colonialism? - The Globe and Mail article by Jim Balsillie      
  28. 28 February 2, 2016
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  29. 29 February 1, 2016
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News

February 29, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy LEAP Day, everyone!

Of course, tonight is the P.E.I. LEAP Day Social, a chance for all Citizens' Alliance friends and interested folks to gather, as we try to do every so often; and also to take the time to explore the LEAP Manifesto and what it means, how various groups on P.E.I. are working towards some of the goals; and how we can all stay in touch and support each other. 

LEAP Day Social, 7-9PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Ave., Ch'town.  All welcome, free (we will have a donation jar, probably), and bring a snack to share if you can.

Speakers are limited to just a few minutes, and will touch on groups they are working with that cross the LEAP Manifesto's main goals -- including green economy (Darcie Lanthier), basic income (Marie Burge), democratic involvement (Boyd Allen), sustainable agriculture (Reg Phalen), trade deals (Rosalind Waters), water/environment (Catherine O'Brien).  Some questions to discuss, social time, and regrouping.

More info on the manifesto:
https://leapmanifesto.org/en/the-leap-manifesto/#manifesto-content

Here is an article in The Guardian, Saturday (print) and Sunday (web), which was submitted. 
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2016-02-28/article-4449421/Leap-Day-gathering-on-P.E.I.-calls-for-action-on-climate-change/1

Leap Day gathering on P.E.I. calls for action on climate change - The Guardian article submitted by Citizens' Alliance of PEI

On Feb. 29, Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I. will host an International Leap Day gathering at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown, 7-9 p.m.

Events like this will be taking place in a number of communities across Canada. The gathering will be in support of the Leap manifesto (leapmanifesto.org), a vision of how Canada can respond to the crisis of climate change as an opportunity to change the country for the better.

“It’s a statement of a bold vision for Canada based on caring for the Earth and for one another,” said alliance board member Don Mazer.

It was developed by a team that included Naomi Klein, David Suzuki and others and was introduced at the UN Paris climate negotiations in 2015.

The Leap manifesto calls for a swift transition to a clean energy, low-carbon economy in a way that concurrently eliminates racial and gender inequality and promotes economic justice. It begins with respecting the inherent rights of First Nations, as part of a 15-point plan that includes energy democracy, localized ecological agriculture, trade justice, expanding the “low carbon” economy of caretaking, teaching and the arts, an end to austerity and fossil fuel subsidies and democratic reform.

The P.E.I. event will feature an introduction to the manifesto and short talks from speakers who are “taking the leap” toward significant environmental and social change in their work. There will be ample opportunities for discussion, where participants are invited to contribute their ideas and experience and to join together planning future projects.

All are invited, and there is no cost or registration required. Light refreshments will be served.

“This is a great opportunity to learn about a lot of good work toward change that is taking place in our community and to join with others in thinking about how we can work toward the kind of Canada we would like to see,” said Mazer.

For more information, see www.citizensalliancepei.org or go the Leap Day P.E.I. Facebook event


Last night, in his speech after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor, actor Leonardo DiCaprio thanks the people who made the movie The Revenant, and said:

   "And lastly I just want to say this: Making ‘The Revenant’ was about man's relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much."  -- Leonardo DiCaprio, at the Academy Awards, February 28th, 2016

February 28, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

It seems like a small thing, but learning how to use a paper towel effectively (and there less area of paper towel) could save millions of pounds of paper each year.
Joe Smith gives a short (4 minute), entertaining TED talk and demonstration, well worth watching and trying:https://www.ted.com/talks/joe_smith_how_to_use_a_paper_towel?language=en  
He works as a lawyer in Oregon, and is an advocate for "proper paper towel use."  And he is right.
------------------------
The Farm Centre uses white tri-fold paper towels, perfect for practicing Joe Smith's method, if you are there for the LEAP Day Social Monday night.If you can, bringing any kind of snack to share will make it more social, and provide more variety.  Thanks so much.  Also, if you would like to help with a little more that evening 
(perhaps helping take some notes, or at the refreshment table), *please* let me know by a quick e-mail.  A big thank you.
-------------------------
Another TED talk, more recent, is from former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, who speaks that we will prevail in the fight against climate change. 
Talk (25 minutes, but you can find the transcript here):http://www.ted.com/talks/al_gore_the_case_for_optimism_on_climate_change
or here is a synopsis:
http://ecowatch.com/2016/02/18/al-gore-prevail-climate-fight/
Al Gore remains hopeful, arguing humans can and are changing. “Some still doubt we have the will to act,” Gore said. “But I say the will to act is itself a renewable resource.”

February 27, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today has the two Farmers' Markets open in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM).  Some of us from the Citizens' Alliance may have some "LEAPlets" about The LEAP Manifesto and notices about Monday night's event. Facebook details here.

The Democratic Renewal community forum is in Summerside this afternoon from 2-4PM.  You can drop in if you can't be there the precise time or entire time.  The Hunter River discussion Tuesday night was lively, I am told (a bad cold has kept me from attending the ones within reach this week).  How was the one in Tignish on Thursday night?  The last one scheduled is next Tuesday, March 1st, 7PM, Murphy Centre in Charlottetown.

from this week's Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-02-24/article-4446284/Active-partners-in-electoral-debate/1

Active partners in electoral debate - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, February 25th, 2016

The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal is in the midst of a second round of public consultations on how Islanders could best elect its representatives to the legislature. On Saturday, Feb. 20, The Guardian published an article on this derived from a meeting it held in Morell on Feb. 11. It provided a very skewed picture of this process and those participating in it. It focused on how poorly attended this meeting was and highlighted the view of two of the attendees who seemed pleased with the present system.

The meeting, which this committee held at the Murphy Centre two days previously, would have projected a much different picture. It was well-attended despite it being a storm day. There was productive suggestions made and lively discussion arising from these suggestions. The clear consensus was that change was necessary.

All agreed that public education was a critical component to the process regardless of the outcome. An informed public has a much better chance of making a good decision. Media outlets had been invited to Murphy Centre meeting but none felt it worth sending a representative.

In the public opinion page in the same edition of The Guardian, committee member Sidney MacEwen placed a letter that “public perception is that the last plebiscite in 2005 didn’t get a fair chance and that we have a chance to do it right this time.” It is very difficult to do it right if Islanders face the same obstacles that were evident in 2005: an ambivalent government and a disinterested press. It is their responsibility to not look at this only through the lens of political expediency or newsworthiness.

They must become active partners in the discussion if we hope to approach the upcoming plebiscite with any degree of integrity.

Boyd Allen, Pownal


Rob MacEachern's "Red Like Me" blog, often just a little too vulgar and vitriolic for polite company, has a plausible Blast From the Past today regarding Plan B today.  (This week's mild weather is making it a bit of a Plan Bumpy again.)
http://redlikeme.ca/plan-b-has-and-its-various-distinct-forms-in-back-water-pei-bus-bulldozer-boat/#more-9399

With talk of federal infrastructure money just a design map and a shovel (or bulldozer) away, we should pay attention for calls of new construction of roads going through what woods and farmland we have left.  The calls for a provincial infrastructure summit by District 18:Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers to involve more Islanders and discuss and rank projects in relation to community need, climate change and other factors, still makes *complete* sense; thoughts about this subject from his always-fit-for-company blog here.
Any MLA could consider hosting an infrastructure summit for his or her District, too.

February 26, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:
Citrus Sale at Confederation Court Mall, and Saturday at Farmers' Market, over the lunch hour.

Saturday, February 27th:
Democratic Renewal Forum, 2PM, Summerside at Loyalist Lakeview Resort, just a little past Harbourfront Theatre and on the other side of Heather Moyse Drive.  All welcome to this second to last meeting for this series. (The last is on Tuesday at the Murphy Community Centre.)

Sunday, February 28th:
Pulses Workshop, 1-4PM
, Farm Centre, free workshop on learning about cooking with legumes, with the very knowledgeable Sharon Labchuk.

Monday, February 29th:
I am reminded that one needs to read the fine print since it's not all just social -- there will be short presentations and discussions, too  :-)


And if you are the "can-I-bring-something?"-sort, yes, please feel free to bring a snack to share :-)

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

The Institute of Island Studies' forum on Local Governance was very interesting, and you could tell a lot of thought was put into the event.
Diane Griffin, Stratford councilor and vice-president of the Federation of PEI Municipalities, discussed the general rationale for why the Island should move towards organized local governance; Mike van Den Heuvel, discussed the watershed-based model and how it works in New Zealand (which, if I understood the most text-dense slides one could ever read -- which he obligingly did), seems to apply to resource governance over municipal matters.  Jeannita Bernard spoke about how things are in the Evangeline region and ways it could go --   wonderful storytelling, too.

It was geographer Ryan Gibson from St. Mary's University who stepped up, stepped back, and said five things he's learned watching other areas go through this (mistakes and misinterpretations are my own):
  1. P.E.I. is not alone.  Other places have been through this and there are lots of models to look at, and places that have made changes, and ask, so how's that working out for you?
  2. Reorganization of local government should not be a mystery novel.  Meaning, we should not be left guessing.  This is interesting in relation to P.E.I. since we smaller communities are continually being told to go talk to our neighbours, hire consultants, "test the waters", wait for the Federation of PEI Municipalities' Tool Kit on how to go about this -- pretty loosey goosey stuff.
  3. New mechanisms in government are required to work with municipalities as partners.  It'll likely need to stop being a patronizing system, for sure.
  4. Place Matters.  There was discussion later about the places won't lose their names and identities if amalgamation happens.  (I seem to recall the neighbourhood names in Stratford and Charlottetown were originally discouraged from being used, but finally embraced and now championed.)
  5. Changes in local governance is a long-term initiative.  Period.

Ryan Gibson also mentioned the organization he is involved in, Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, http://crrf.ca/
which has gorgeous photos, at the very least.

There were a few comments, mostly long ones from people who could have been on the panel.  Also, credit yet again (unlike some Ministers in the past) to Robert Mitchell for being there the entire time and speaking up twice in the Q&A time.  Things are still a little mysterious to him about how this is all going to wash out, but he explains what he can and listens to everyone.

A few people talked about the need for change, some about community identity and about tourism promotion groups effectively being a form of municipal cooperation, but the audience overall -- and this was well-attended --  was a bit quiet, perhaps some not sure but not ready there to ask why there is such mystery or complexity in governance for 140,000 people.

This forum was filmed and will be available on their website to view.

February 25, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There are a couple of events happening tonight.

Thursday, February 25th:
Community Forum on Democratic Renewal, 7PM
, Tignish Legion No. 6, all welcome.
This is the only one on the Island west or north of Summerside (which is Saturday at 2PM).

Forum: The Geography of Local Governance, 7PM, UPEI, Business Building (McDougall Hall), Room 242, all welcome.
Looking at the "Judge Thompson Report" from 2009 and the issue of reorganizing and standardizing municipal governments on P.E.I.
There will be four speakers:
Diane Griffin, environmentalist, Stratford Town Councillor, vice-president of the Federation of PEI Municipalities, principle speaker with panelists of:
Ryan Gibson, from the Department of Geography at St. Mary's University, focuses on collaborative government in rural regions.
Mike van den Heuvel, Canadian Rivers Institute and UPEI Biology Department, will discuss watershed-based boundaries.
Jeannita Bernard, of St. Philippe, Island sing-songwriter and community development leader, will discuss a proposal for the Evangeline Region.
There will be time for questions after the presentations.


John Jeffery, retired CBC journalist, writes a blog, and in this latest post describes his analysis of how a media room works (or doesn't):
http://johnjefferypeiunleashed.ca/2016/02/media-three-some-more-thoughts/
---------
And it is always nice to find out from CBC what's happening near my backyard. 

Some of the several parcels of land obtained for the Plan B highway (but not needed for the road), and some nearby properties near the West River, were finally through the process and granted NAPA (Natural Areas Protection Act) protection earlier this week (the announcement also included some parcels in other parts of the province).   News story:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/p-e-i-government-land-protection-1.3462168

Of course, protecting land is great, and with the trail system and such it's such a making that purse out of the sow's ear (that's butchering the idiom, sorry).   The Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Subcommittee had started a newsletter, here:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/Feb_BonshaW.pdf
which is nice and informative (though the punctuation kind of wanders by the last page).

The NAPA designations page with the individual (or bunched, in some cases) parcel forms (including maps) is here:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/ffw/index.php3?number=1015518

The land acquired by government now forms a c-shape, connecting the Bonshaw parkland and the Strathgartney parkland; land on the hillside acquired by a private individual and turned into a shale pit a year a couple of years before the Plan B highway was started is still privately owned and still quite the blight, but not really visible from the highway.  Much more so as you come down Green Road from Appin Road).


"The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worth and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility.  To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope."
-- American environmentalist, farmer, essayist Wendall Berry

February 24, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight there is a community meeting in Charlottetown to discuss the demotion and then new development in the Chestnut/Passmore area in Ward 4.
Community Meeting, 7PM, Rodd Charlottetown (upstairs meeting room)
Facebook details here
From:"The developer has put in an application to the city to amend the Zoning & Development Bylaw Medium Density Residential (R3) for the now 9 properties he has bought up, to permit a 57 unit, 4-storey apartment building with commercial outlets on the main floor.
Email comments to the city planning at planning@charlottetown.ca up until noon on Feb.24
Public meeting is the 24th, at 7pm, at the Rodd Charlottetown."

It is interesting that public comments close at noon today but the public meeting is not until tonight.
Info from today's Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2016-02-23/article-4445502/Developers-set-to-reveal-plans-for-new-apartments-in-Charlottetown/1


This letter appeared in yesterday's Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-02-23/article-4444971/Premier-Wade-MacLauchlan-upsets-electoral-apple-cart/1

Premier Wade MacLauchlan upsets electoral apple cart - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

The huge headline jumps out at you: “Pleading for input” (Saturday’s Guardian). The article says public meetings on electoral reform in P.E.I. are not garnering much interest. Not much wonder, when the premier comes out in the media and basically says he’s not in favour of electoral reform “we shouldn’t try to upset the apple cart or to completely change what has been a system that, frankly, has people engaged.” I’m sure a lot of voters are thinking “why bother?”

Why would he want to mess with a system that gave the Liberals an 18-9 seat majority with less than 41 per cent of Island voters’ support? That is engaged? Would a system other than ‘first past the post’ have elected Wade and his Liberals? It’s questionable, and I’m sure it’s something the good old boys’ club doesn’t want to find out.

‘First-past-the-post’? Sounds more like a horse race than good government practice. But, then, we’ve also elected a cabinet minister by flipping a coin.

Lloyd Kerry,
Charlottetown


I wasn't able to attend the Hunter River community forum last night, but would appreciate hearing from folks who did. 

The next three community forums on democratic renewal are
Thursday, February 25th, 7PM, Tignish Legion
Saturday, February 27th, 2PM, Summerside, Loyalist Lakeview Resort
Tuesday, March 1st, 7PM, Murphy Centre, Charlottetown


A workshop on cooking with pulses (beans and other legumes!) is being held Sunday, sponsored by Food Exchange PEI
"Finger on the Pulses" Workshop, Sunday, February 28th, 1-4PM, Farm Centre, free but donations accepted
Facebook event details

February 23, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight is the community forum in Hunter River, the third of six in this series.  The others this week are in Tignish (Thursday the 25th) and Summerside (Saturday the 27th).  It's a good chance to come out and hear what others have to say and contribute, too, especially as it is the only one in Queens County (besides Charlottetown ones, of course).
Community Forum on Democratic Renewal, 7PM, Hunter River Central United Church, free, light refreshments, all welcome.
The church is on Route 2 in Hunter River, on the same side of the road, but a few houses west, of the Hunter River Community Centre and Harmony House. 
A survey to help work on the plebiscite question is here:
http://assembly.pe.ca/democraticrenewal/plebiscite.php
and general information from the Legislative Assembly on this whole process is here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/democraticrenewal/index.php?lang=E


Mi'kmaq leader John Joe Sark wrote a letter about a month ago about changing the name of P.E.I.'s Fort Amherst.  Here is a good post from The Council of Canadians on it:
http://canadians.org/blog/council-canadians-supports-renaming-port-la-joye%E2%80%93fort-amherst-historic-site-near-charlottetown
and here is the petition he started:
https://www.change.org/p/catherine-mckenna-removal-of-general-amherst-s-name-from-parks-canada?recruiter=36373755&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive



Federal budget comments-- the link for comments on the Federal budget is still open, so you can comment on your concerns about climate change or anything else:
http://www.budget.gc.ca/2016/prebudget-prebudgetaire/consultation-en.html
I suspect the window for this link is closing soon, though.


Christine McEntree is the "Executive Director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a worldwide scientific community that advances the understanding of Earth and space through cooperation in research."  from:
http://sites.agu.org/leadership/leader/christine-w-mcentee/

<snip> "Our long-term success in solving problems of this global magnitude will hinge on the strength of a joint commitment from the scientific community, business and industry, community leaders and government and NGOs, working together to make a long-term, sustainable impact.

"For such a partnership to succeed, we are compelled to set ideology aside, to adopt a mindset characterized by a spirit of inquiry and dedication of continually seeking and implementing solutions. We must recognize that the decisions we make today will shape the world that we hand to our descendants for hundreds of generations.  The gravity of that responsibility and the potential consequences of getting it wrong are too dire for us to delay action any further.   The time to act is now." -- Christine McEntee

February 22, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A good read:
http://www.peicanada.com/island_farmer/article_e31ead66-d4ba-11e5-93d6-a7d077fd06b5.html

Time to Loosen the Purse Strings Mr. Irving: We’ll All Benefit Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie

Published on February 17th, 2016

It was the kind of article you’d expect in Acres USA, the Canadian Organic Grower, or from the Rodale Institute.  Instead “Cover Crops, a Farming Revolution” was in the business section of the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/business/cover-crops-a-farming-revolution-with-deep-roots-in-the-past.html) . True blue meat and potatoes mid-western U.S. farmers singing the praises of non-cash crops like hairy vetch and cereal rye. These are your very conventional corn and soybean growers who’ve done very well over the last two decades. Between U.S. government subsidies, and ethanol mandates, they’ve made some serious money, but they’ve watched their soils deteriorate from short rotations, and worry about extreme weather events, high heat and drought.  “Our corn was wilting when temperatures hit 103 degrees” said one farmer, “I felt like I had a gorilla on my shoulder.” The number of farmers using cover crops is still small, but they report big benefits, increased yields, less need for fertilizer and pesticides, erosion control,  and the ability to withstand droughts.  Organic matter levels that had gone from as high as 10% to below 2% from constant cash cropping, are going up again, at about 1% every two years.  The article quotes an agriculture department official,  “We’ve never seen anything taken up as rapidly as using cover crops,” said Barry Fisher, a soil health specialist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

PEI needs a cover crop revolution too, and its already started on some farms.  The Hogg family near Kensington just won the Gilbert Clements Environmental Award. In the Guardian  Adam Hogg was quoted: “We’ve done a lot of cover cropping during the past two or three years on all our potato ground… and we are trying to reduce the amount of fall plowing as best we can.” John Hogg said  “We try very hard to make sure we have a cover crop on the land. We’re constantly looking for something that is better than barley to hold the ground better and ensure it’s not blowing soil away on us.” Contrast that with what many saw in late January: bare fields, frigid weather turning soil particles into freeze dried coffee, and valuable top soil blown into ditches and neighbouring back yards.

The Hoggs are the first to admit they’ve got some advantages over many other potato growers. They grow varieties that can be harvested earlier than the long-season russet Burbank that french fry makers demand, time to plant a cover crop in the Fall.  I’m going to suggest two other things the Hoggs have, a fierce determination to protect the health of their soils, and profitability.  It costs money to grow a crop that will be plowed in rather than harvested.  They sell to a potato chip market that pays fairly, while many other potato growers cope with at best marginal contracts with Cavendish Farms.  The Irving owned company has convinced enough farmers  that Cavendish is uncompetitive because of the lack of irrigation,  higher energy and transportation costs,  with its big U.S. counterparts in the U.S. North-West.  Growers have reluctantly accepted price cuts and rollovers for several years now and tried to survive growing cash crops like soybeans in rotations rather than true cover crops.  That’s got to change, and here’s why it should now. 

The low Canadian dollar is giving Cavendish Farms a windfall of money, between $20 to $30 million at least by my calculations, simply by carrying on business as usual. The 70+ cent dollar is just where it was in the mid 1990’s when the Irvings and McCains couldn’t wait to build new french fry plants here. The McCains have left (and probably regret it), but Cavendish carries on. I encourage, I implore Cavendish to share some of this “found money” with growers, and for growers to insist that it does. 

And don’t stop there. Keep working on new varieties like Prospect that can be harvested earlier with less fertilizer, demand more research into cover crops that can contain wireworm, improve soil fertility, and let’s make bare fields in the fall as unacceptable as drunk driving .  If  there isn’t time for a cover crop, then at least spread straw to slow down erosion.  All of these come with costs.  According to the Times article the U.S. government subsidizes cover crops there, and some states like Maryland pay the full cost of cover crops for farms next to Chesapeake Bay. I don’t expect that here. What I do hope for is that farmers here are paid fairly so they can make better decisions, bring the same determination to improving  soil quality as the Hogg family. As one farmer said to me: “It’s hard being green when you’re in the red.”


One more thing to do Tuesday, February 23rd, 7PM, in addition to the Democratic Renewal public forum in Hunter River at the same time. 

Lecture: Gaelic language and song focus of Institute of Island Studies February Lecture

from the media release:

The Institute of Island Studies Lecture Series continues Tuesday, February 23, with a talk by Dr. Dr. Tiber F.M. Falzett, Research Associate at the Institute of Island Studies. His public lecture, “Mar bhlàth an fheòir” (“like the flowering grass”), focuses on the oral and written interfaces in local Scottish Gaelic song composition on Prince Edward Island.

The lecture takes place in UPEI’s SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge, and gets under way at 7 p.m.

Dr. Falzett investigates a once vibrant, yet fragmentarily documented, tradition of local song composition and performance as expressed throughout the nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries among Scottish Gaelic speakers on Prince Edward Island. By engaging both contemporary printed texts as well as sound recordings from fieldwork undertaken among remaining speakers and semi-speakers in the second half of the twentieth century, a multifaceted and dynamic body of tradition is capable of being pieced together. In turn these reassembled fragments of oral tradition can be reinterpreted to reveal a multi-accentual dynamic in what has since become a silenced ethno-linguistic community. Ultimately, it is intended to place these expressive forms of intangible cultural heritage as created and carried down by Gaelic-speaking Islanders in the context of the wider multicultural zone of the Canadian Maritimes to which they once belonged.

Tiber Falzett’s current research explores the documentation and dissemination of archival intangible cultural heritage on Prince Edward Island. His doctoral research explores the relationship between language and music through sensory metaphor as expressed among Scottish Gaelic speakers on Cape Breton Island. A fluent Gaelic speaker as well as a singer and bagpiper, Tiber has presented his research and performed for broadcast media, including the BBC Television and Radio in Scotland and CBC, and is an active public folklorist in Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton. He, his partner Giulia, and their dog Sofia live in Summerside.

Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

This is the second in a series of an Island Studies Winter/Spring Lecture Series. Watch for details for another lecture about islands – near and far – March 22!

For more information, please contact Laurie at iis@upei.ca or (902) 894-2881.

February 21, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There is the Seed Swap and Workshops at the Farm Centre this afternoon, 2-5PMFacebook event notice.
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Late last week there was the Charlottetown Initiative on The Maritimes' Sustainable Energy Transition.

from the government's press release, by Ron Ryder:

Minister welcomes dialogue on sustainable energy

photo by Beth Johnston, Communications PEI, February 19th, 2016

(Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy) Minister Paula Biggar meets with participants in the Charlottetown Initiative on The Maritimes' Sustainable Energy Transition which held two days of talks in the capital this week. Joining the minister are - from left - Tracey Allen, Renewable Energy PEI; Catherine Abreu, energy coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre; Anna Keenan, community organizer from New Glasgow PEI; and Garth Hood, consultant and designer with Thoughtful Dwellings sustainable homes.
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Renewable energy ideas brought forward at this week’s sustainability conference could help Prince Edward Island’s economy and environment, says Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Paula Biggar.

“Our province relies on energy that is reliable, affordable and sustainably sourced. By looking at a range of options for producing energy, attendees at the Charlottetown Initiative on the Maritimes’ Sustainable Energy Transition have prompted discussion that will benefit our entire region,” said Minister Biggar.

“Prince Edward Island is very sensitive to the effects of climate change, and the Island economy is sensitive to energy prices. I am happy to work with people developing sustainable ways to deliver light and heat to Islanders.”

The two day conference included more than 40 invitees from environmental groups, government, academia and private industry.

Following the meeting, a number of delegates met with Minister Biggar to review the energy options presented at the two day session.


Here are some notes from the conference by a delegate, Jordan MacPhee, originally posted on Facebook and used with permission:
<snip> "I'm feeling really thankful after spending two great days in Charlottetown with a group of 20-30 people from PEI, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, representing a variety of groups from climate justice and academics, to government employees and energy industry specialists.

"We clearly have a lot of work ahead of us and real challenges facing every province during this economic downturn, but I think most of us left with a hopeful feeling as we recognized there are also many opportunities to re-imagine our economy and create well-paying, meaningful employment that is in line with environmental sustainability by focusing on energy efficiency and developing renewable energy technologies.

"A lot of great ideas flew around the room in two intense back-to-back sessions, aiming to develop a strategy for our provinces to green our energy grid and do our part to combat climate change. We sent a delegation to speak with PEI Energy Minister Paula Biggar yesterday and report on our meeting. I hope it went well!

"Our new friends from NS and NB will hopefully be meeting with their premiers or energy ministers before March 3, when the premiers and some ministers from each province will meet with the federal government to discuss how we're all going to meet our promise to the world to stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

"This article discusses some of the challenges and opportunities Canada and the provinces will face in carving out our responsibilities."
From Maclean's:

http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/carving-up-canadas-climate-change-burden/
--Jordan MacPhee
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Clean energy will be one of the topics at the LEAP Day event, Monday, February 29th, 7PM, at the Farm Centre. 

From the February 21st Global Chorus essays:

<snip> "(A) new wave, a sort of revolution has occurred over the last decade or so. And that is the realization that the youth of the world who are mastering the communications revolution so readily available to them have essentially morphed into a generation that I would call the generation without borders.

"They are going to move the yardsticks of humanity towards its objective of serenity and communion with the planet by shoving older generations into a web coalesced by social media.  The generation without borders grasps the concept of the totality of humanity, it lives with the notion that borders are not limits to their potential to affect the environment, they are comfortable in global concepts such as human rights, and they thrive in seeking more and more information on all things.

"Hope is not a method, but optimism is the guarantor of humanity’s serenity." — L Gen. (Ret.) Roméo A. Dallaire, former Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda

February 20, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

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

Seedy events today and tomorrow, to remind us of summer:
Today, Seedy Saturday, Confed Centre Public Library, 2-4PM, free
from the organizers: "Besides the free seed from the seed library, there will also be some carefully selected for sale from the PEI Seed Alliance! It's a collective of some of your favourite small organic and sustainable farmers!"  All are invited to participate in a family craft using old seeds courtesy of the Baraka festival.

Tomorrow, Sunday, February 21st, 2-5PM:
Seed Swap and sale, and workshops
, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, free:
Workshop Schedule:
2:30pm: Backyard Beekeeping with Derek vanderHoeven
3:00pm: Sprouts! with Connie Zoeller
3:30pm: Garden design with John Keuper, of Island Pride Garden Company
4:00pm: Seed starting, transplanting and seed saving with Amy Smith and Verena Varga of Heartbeet Organics


Electoral Reform
Today's Guardian has a news article titled "Pleading for input" on page A5 about the low turnout at the first and second Democratic Renewal public forums last week, with a bit of speculation on the reasons the public appears so disinterested.   There are a lot of reasons why this set of meetings hasn't had spectacular engagement from Islanders.  Some are that the purpose of this set of meetings is a little vague as far as what the Committee wants from Islanders, the ads aren't very interesting or eye-catching to a lot of people, the weather was pretty lousy for both meetings so far, and there wasn't that much notice, not too many meetings across the Island, etc.  There was no media at the first one in Charlottetown, despite the staff saying they did send notices and invitations. In the article today, Committee Chair Jordan Brown commented on how many Islanders will sit back and see what is shaping up before getting involved.  And the reforms talked about are still pretty much alphabet soup.

Then there is the effect of the Premier's comments in a year-end CBC interview, where he said he wasn't "a believer in proportional representation" and more about not upsetting apple carts, etc.  There wasn't much immediate response to those remarks (one letter cited below), though today Committee representative, Progressive Conservative Sidney MacEwen (MLA for District 7: Morell-Mermaid) writes in the letters section of The Guardian.  Here is a terrible screenshot, since it's not available on-line yet:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-02-20/article-4441702/Premier%26rsquo%3Bs-comments-on-proportional-representation-inappropriate%2C-irresponsible/1

An informed choice - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, February 20th, 2016, in The Guardian (image from Guardian's e-edition) http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/ 
by Sidney MacEwen



You could consider purchasing today's print or on-line Guardian to see it more clearly.
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Letter from last month about this:

Premier MacLauchlan now cool to electoral reform?
The Guardian Letter to the Editor
published on Friday, January 15th, 2016
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-01-15/article-4404907/Premier-MacLauchlan-now-cool-to-electoral-reform%3F/1


A quote from Jimmy Carter, U.S. President from 1976-1980:
"We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles." -- Jimmy Carter

February 19, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some interesting conversations on renewable energy in the newspaper recently, of which I'll start with the op-ed piece in The Guardian from earlier this month.  It is by Robert van Waarden, a internationally-recognized photographer who now resides on P.E.I.  (His work is breathtaking, and snippets are here: his Website  and here: Facebook page)
He has documented people along the route of the Energy East pipeline, and was interviewed for a "Cross County Checkup" CBC Radio call-in show a few weeks ago.  Link to three-minute recording, here.

The link to the "Along the Pipeline" website is here:
http://alongthepipeline.com/the-project
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Guardian link

The op-ed piece in The Guardian is accompanied by this map copyright Canadian Press graphic:

Canada doesn't need an economy that is beholden to swinging oil prices - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Robert vanWaarden

Published on Monday, February 8th, 2016, in The Guardian

We hear a lot from pundits, newspapers, industry and politicians about what the Energy East pipeline could mean, but rarely do we hear from the regular people on the route of a major infrastructure project. So in 2013 I picked up my camera and travelled 4600 km from Hardisty, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick, along the entire proposed Energy East pipeline route.

I talked to hundreds of people and unsurprisingly, heard a range of opinions. Some supported it citing economic benefits and jobs, but many more opposed. The residents in Red Head, Saint John are facing a massive tank terminal in their back yard. People in Manitoba are concerned the pipe could blow up like it did in Otterbrune in January, 2014. North Bay is opposed because the pipeline runs through their water supply, and people east to west are concerned about climate change. In fact it quickly became apparent to me that the more people knew about this project, the more they rejected it.

The editorial position of this paper is woefully uninformed and reads more like a press release from TransCanada. One could easily pick apart all of the points expressed in last weekend's editorial (for example, why do the rights and concerns of B.C. citizens trump those of Quebecers?) but there are two glaring omissions that are more important to focus on.

One: We can't talk about pipelines without talking about climate change. Canada's recent international commitment to strive for a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees C does not leave any room for further expansion of the Tar Sands. The world sent a strong message in Paris that the age of fossil fuels is over and the transition is here. Keystone XL was canned because of climate change implications and limited employment opportunity: what makes us believe that Energy East - a bigger, longer pipeline - is any different?

Two: We can't talk about pipelines without discussing Indigenous rights. On January 28th, the Iroquois Caucus unanimously opposed the Energy East project. They join First Nations all across this county calling on the government to scrap pipeline projects. Enacting the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights and a Nation-to-Nation relationship means we need to listen. We are all treaty people and it is our responsibility to respect and honour those treaties.

We don't need a pipeline just like we don't need an economy that is beholden to swinging oil prices. What we need is economy for the 21st century. Let's start creating jobs that keep Maritimers home. Let's get to work with renewable energy systems, sustainable agriculture, and joining the knowledge-based economy. Let's provide training and transition programs for families impacted by the oil collapse. The climate crisis presents us with an opportunity to create an equitable future that keeps families together. We can seize that opportunity or we can spend our days arguing about propping up a dying industry while watching sea levels rise around our green little island.

Robert van Waarden is a photographer from New Glasgow, P.E.I.. Now based in Montreal, his clients include Canadian Geographic, National Geographic Traveller and numerous international NGO's. His pipeline project can be found at alongthepipeline.com.


Tomorrow, I will post further letters in discussion, and some notes about a conference on renewable energy in the Maritimes that is taking place here yesterday and today.

February 18, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Lots of events coming up in the next week or two; here are some with the descriptions from the organizers:

Seeds this weekend:
Saturday, February 20th:
Seedy Saturday Swap, 2-4PM
"Become part of the PEI Seed Library at this FREE public event for new and returning gardeners!
Bring seeds to share, if you have them. Come out, chat with other seed savers and gardeners, and get your seeds for the 2016 growing season!
This event is organized by Cooper Institute's Seeds of Community Initiative.
Seeds of Community works for seed sovereignty in PEI. We believe that seed is a public trust and that saving seed is a human right. We work to develop and share locally adapted, open polinated and heirloom varieties. We work with communtiy gardeners and sustainable farmers to build resilience and community collaboration to preserve and develop seed for future generations.
For more information, or to volunteer, please contact Cooper Institute at 894-4573 or emailt josie(at)cooperinstitute.ca "

Facebook details here

Sunday, February 21st, 2-5PM:
Seed Swap and Sale, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue
"Let's get ready for spring!
Join us for an afternoon of informative workshops featuring leaders in the Island's seed & gardening community. Learn how to start seed, plan a garden, and more!
Bring some seed and exchange with fellow gardeners at our Seed Swap! Or get a great deal on Organic Seed from High Mowing as a fundraiser for the Legacy Garden - we're raising funds to hire a Goodwill Gardener for the 2016 season!
Workshop Schedule:
2:30pm: Backyard Beekeeping with Derek vanderHoeven
3:00pm: Sprouts! with Connie Zoeller
3:30pm: Garden design with John Keuper, of Island Pride Garden Company
4:00pm: Seed starting, transplanting and seed saving with Amy Smith and Verena Varga of Heartbeet Organics

Facebook event details
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Next week there are three Democratic Renewal Meetings in two communities:
Tuesday, February 23rd, 7PM
Community Forum, Hunter River, Central Queens United Church
Public encouraged to come in, watch the short introductory film (not available on-line yet), and offer their opinions.

Thursday, February 25th, 7PM
Tignish, Royal Canadian Legion No. 6

Saturday, February 27th
Summerside, Loyalist Lakeview Resort *2PM*

More info from their website

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Also next week,

Wednesday, February 24th, 7PM
Public Meeting regarding proposed development by Philip O'Halloran in Charlottetown, Rodd Charlottetown Hotel
The City of Charlottetown is holding a public meeting on this project to demolish some houses and put up a larger unit with retail space.
Background CBC story here.
It's strangely reminiscent of the Cinema Politica film the Citizens' Alliance hosted last year called Neighbor by Neighbor: Mobilizing an Invisible Community found here on Vimeo
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Also, next Thursday, the same day as the Tignish Democratic Renewal community forum, is the Institute of Island Studies panel discussion on local governance:
Thursday, February 25th, 7PM
Public Symposium, UPEI, Room 242 McDougall Hall (Business Building)

The Geography of Local Governance on Prince Edward Island

The topic of local governance is the focal point of an upcoming Public Symposium, “The Geography of Governance,” to be sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services. The date is Thursday, February 25, at UPEI’s MacKinnon Auditorium (Room 242), Don and Marion McDougall Hall, beginning at 7 p.m.  (The storm date is the following evening, Friday, the 26th.)

The reform of local government on the Island has been much discussed in recent years, especially since the release of the 2009 Thompson Report of the Commission on Land and Local Governance. At that time, the Island had 75 incorporated municipalities – many of them with just a few hundred people – and 70% of the province’s territory had no local government at all.  The situation remains much the same today.

Judge Thompson recommended that local government might be extended to cover the entire Island, and that the units be large enough to be effective and sustainable – that is, with a population of at least 4,000 each.  There’s a perception among Islanders that reform is now in the air, and some communities have initiated discussions with their neighbours about joining together to form larger governance units.

If we assume that larger municipal units are on the horizon, and all of the Island could be included, then the question arises about the criteria to be used in deciding on new boundaries. Should cultural factors be paramount?

Or “communities of interest”?  Or geographical factors?  Or environmental management – such as including a whole watershed within a municipality? Or some combination of these – and others?

The principal speaker will be Diane Griffin, noted Island environmentalist, Stratford Town Councillor, and Vice President of the Federation of PEI Municipalities. She will be joined by a Panel of three individuals representing various points of view: Dr. Ryan Gibson, Dr. Michael van den Heuvel, and Jeanetta Bernard.

Dr. Gibson, who is currently Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Institute of Island Studies, teaches in the Department of Geography, Saint Mary’s University. He has a special interest in collaborative governance in rural regions. He will share lessons learned from other parts of Canada and internationally on how they have built new regions and the processes they have utilized. These experiences could assist in shaping the process in PEI.

Dr. van den Heuvel is the Director of the Canadian Rivers Institute based at UPEI.  He will discuss case studies and the advantages of defining municipal boundaries based on watersheds to enhance resources for environmental management.

The third Panel member, Jeannita Bernard, of St. Philippe, is a well-known Island singer-songwriter and community leader in the areas of health, education and community development. She will explore the idea of

creating a new Evangeline regional government unit, which would include the present villages of Wellington and Abram’s Village, plus 12 adjacent unincorporated communities.

Members of the public are cordially invited to attend. Admission is free. Following the presentations, there will be ample time for discussion and questions from the floor.


And Leap Day, Monday, February 29th, 7PM, a LEAP Day Social at the Farm Centre
Facebook details here
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More events:
http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/events


A story of one episode at a community mailbox, from former Island Supreme Court Justice Linda Webber, which I hope has been forwarded to the Liberal MPs whose Party, if I recall, ran on the promise of reinstating urban home delivery:
Guardian Letter to the Editor link

OPINION: Close call at Canada Post mailbox - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Linda Webber

Published on Saturday, February 13th, 2016

I am still upset by what happened last Tuesday night. I don’t know if the man I tried to help is fine or had a heart attack or some other incident after he left for home.

On my way home about 7:30 p.m. I decided to see if I could get my mail. Two days earlier the “Canada Post Box” I must use was surrounded by banks of snow that I did not want to try to negotiate.  So it had been a while since I’d checked my box.  When I drove up to the box I saw a car in front of it with its lights flashing. Then I noticed the man in the snow between the car and the box. The snow didn’t actually look that deep, in the dark, but this man had one leg sunk in the snow over his knee and the other stuck not quite that far.  As I watched I realized he was stuck: he kept heaving himself up to try to get loose but would only fall back, sometimes on his back, and have to struggle just to get upright again.

I got out of my car to help and realized this man must have been stuck for a while. His breathing was labored and he looked exhausted.  Keeping one foot on the road I stepped as far as I could into the snowbank (up to my knee) and was able to just reach his arm with my hand.  He grabbed it and we both pulled and he managed to get one leg out but only enough to move a little closer to the car. After a couple of tries like this he finally was close enough to touch his car, but landed on his knees, basically stuck again. One more struggle by him and lift by me got him on his feet on the street.

All this time this man (not a young man) was breathing very hard and clearly very stressed and worn out. I kept asking if he was all right. I am well aware of how unexpectedly heart issues can arise and his labored breathing and apparent instability gave me cause for concern.  However, in response to my questions all he said was  “OK,”  “fine,” and either (I can’t remember exactly): “this is wrong” or “this is not right.”  

I agree. It is not right that anyone should be put through this to get the mail “delivered” to us. I still don’t know if this man is fine, had a  heart attack, or in some other way suffered health issues as a result of this incident. God forbid someone dies this winter because he/she tried to reach one of these boxes and was taken by surprise by the obstacles he/she had to face. All because it is more profitable for Canada Post not to deliver our mail to us any more.

And I don’t think the obligation should be on the city or province to provide clear access to these boxes. Canada Post stuck them wherever they wanted with no regard to the safety of those who must access them: with no regard to the fact that most Canadians face at least six months of winter each year, subject to slipping and falling from ice or snow or both, either from just walking or trying to climb over the obstacles between us and those boxes that are convenient only for Canada Post. Our health clearly doesn’t matter. But it should. Is Canada Post’s profit or convenience more important than our health and safety - more important than even one life?

February 17, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events today:
Open House, sponsored by the PEI Women's Institute, 4:30-6PM,  Farm Centre, Charlottetown
displays, refreshments, and results of the Kids' Cooking Contest announced (around 5-5:30PM).  The recipes had to use some Island ingredients.  All welcome! Free.

Nature Talk on Eagles, Hawks and Owls of PEI, 7PM,
at Confederation Centre Public Library, by Jackie Waddell, free. More details from library's website, here.

More events in the coming weeks on the Citizens' Alliance Calendar of Events.


The essay for February 17 in Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet (edited by Islander Todd E. MacLean), is by one of the founders of Permaculture, Bill Mollison; as I only used a short quote last year, here is the whole essay.  Bolding is mine.

"Yes, there is always hope. Without hope we might just as well sit at home and prepare for death. Humanity will always find and discover ways past global and social crises. We thrive when challenged.

"One answer for continuing to create the conditions necessary for our own survival and that of other species is to adhere to Permaculture principles taught by itinerant teachers who are graduates of our courses.

"When I travel, I am constantly reassured by the high level of activity of my students.  They are teaching the practice of sustainable living and their work with cultures all over the world -- from Indians in the Amazon to the Inuit of Canada, peoples from the northern islands of the Arctic to 42° south – is constantly ensuring their enriched survival. And they do this by teaching the basic skills that humanity has always lived by, namely responsibility and pride in the protection of our endemic fauna and flora; environmental awareness; growing nutritious food sustainably; storing, processing and cooking this food; building shelters and sharing with our neighbours. Teaching basic, common-sense life essentials and re-establishing the importance of community will lead to our future survival and a world where many of us will take part in the production of food. By applying these strategies, our future world will contain many more well-informed and capable people.

"We need to promote the good in our communities, praise positive actions and outcomes and stop highlighting the negatives in society. By being mindful of how we speak and act we will build, hope and provide peace for our future generations. Having taught the philosophy of Permaculture for decades, I am constantly surprised and delighted to receive acknowledgements from countless strangers who are reading my books for the first time. New generations always want to learn and develop better life skills, so there will always be hope." — Bill Mollison,
researcher, author, teacher, biologist, 
co-originator of the Permaculture design system,
founder of the global Permaculture movement

February 16, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight is the ECOPEI AGM, 6:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House,  Facebook details here.  All welcome.

Also in Nature news, this week is the winter bird seed sale at Phillips Feed on Exhibition Drive in Charlottetown.  A percentage of proceeds goes to Island Nature Trust.  They'll answer any question you have about birds, feed and feeders.  More info on their bird seed: http://www.phillipsagri.ca/en/wild-bird-feed.html
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Here is a simple, cute drawing of some major songbirds from the Minnesota State Department of Natural Resources, which plays birdsongs when you click on a bird:
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mcvmagazine/bird_songs_interactive/index.html

Wednesday, February 17th, 7PM
Nature Talk on Eagles, Hawks and Owls of PEI,
at Confederation Centre Public Library, by Jackie Waddell, free. More details from library's website, here.


Interesting analysis by Alan Holman from his column in The Guardian.  It would have been fun to read it as a "Mousie" set piece, though.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Columnists/2016-02-13/article-4434958/Frank-McKenna-knew-what-he-wanted/1

Frank McKenna knew what he wanted - The Guardian article by columnist Alan Holman

Published on Saturday, February 13th, 2016, in The Guardian

Agriculture is still the leading economic sector on Prince Edward Island and was once a major contributor to the political ranks of the province.

Times, they are a changing.  Now there are no active farmers sitting in the legislature, only one retired farmer left holding the fort, but, there are two active and one retired fishermen.

There was a time, not too long ago when the place was over-run with school teachers and lawyers. Now Islanders seemed to have an affinity for retired cops. There are three MLAs with a record of policing in their background. Who would have ever thought that a squad car would offer a ride to success in politics.

One of the results of having so few farmers in the political arena is a major change in when the legislature meets to do its business. Up until the later part of the last century the legislature would sit during the dark days of winter and would close as soon the land was dry enough to plow.

In the 1970s and 80s the legislature was called into session in early February and only if the there was a very heavy agenda would it sit beyond April.

Now the legislature doesn’t even begin until April and it is still sitting well into May. Which when you stop and think about it, isn’t very helpful for the two MLAs who still fish lobsters.

One wonders, if a quarter of the government members were fishing lobsters would the legislative schedule be the same? Or would they accommodate the fishermen, just like they once did for the farmer MLAs.

But enough of that, the Legislature returns on April 5. And it is worth noting that this will be a new session. This is not a resumption of the last session, which opened last spring. It only sat for 21 days before adjourning for the summer, resuming for another 12 days in November.

The end of the session left a number of bills stranded, unpassed. There will be a new Throne Speech to open the Second Session of the 65th General Assembly  which will set a new government agenda. But, its an agenda only dealing with the up-coming year. Mr. MacLauchlan also announced he will be introducing a new session, with a new Throne Speech, every year.

Now, we know we live in an era of rapid change, but, this gives a whole new meaning to the cliche ‘the problem with politics is the short-term horizons politicians are forced to work with’. A cliche most people understand to mean that with the shortness of the four-year election cycle it was impossible for governments to do meaningful long-term program planning and implementation.  

There are Islanders who thought that with this new Throne Speech they would get an indication of what the Premier hopes to accomplish in his first mandate. By analyzing the Throne Speech some people hoped to gain insight into just why Wade MacLauchlan was attracted to the job. Now with a Throne Speech planned for every year, they’re not so sure.

A number of Islanders believe that he didn’t run just to get another pension, or because he wanted ‘Premier’ on his gravestone. While he never promised anyone a rose garden, or ever really indicated what he intends to do with the job, the assumption is he wanted to be premier to make a mark, to make a difference. To date Wade MacLauchlan hasn't shown if that’s his intention.

One of the most successful Maritime premiers in recent times was New Brunswick’s Frank McKenna. One reason for his success was from the first day Frank McKenna walked into the office he knew what he wanted to do as premier. He wanted to restore New Brunswicker’s faith in themselves, to be proud of their province and he wanted to create jobs.

In his 10 years in office, he did that and more.

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

February 15, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy Islander Day, everyone. Hope you can enjoy a bit of a different day. And have time to read all this.

Here are two articles that talk about different directions our dear Island can take as far as financial philosophy; they are both from Paul MacNeill's Graphic publication last week.

1) Hard choices and austerity:
http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_98b39cf6-cf4b-11e5-a887-c336cb4f634c.html

Will Liberals take easy money to avoid hard decisions? - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

by Paul MacNeill, publisher, "Against the tide" column
Published on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, in The Grpahic newspapers.

Politicians of all political stripe share one common trait: The ability to spend our money, regardless of whether we have it to spend or not.

Since assuming office a year ago Wade MacLauchlan has made some not insignificant symbolic cuts in spending. He reduced the number of ministerial executive assistants and cut his own salary. He is merging the PEI English Language School Board and Department of Education, although this has less to do with saving money and more to do with eliminating dysfunction.

This nibbling around the edges has done little if anything to improve our fiscal situation. Finance Minister Al Roach missed his spring budget projection by a jaw-dropping 60%. Before the May election he predicted our 2015 deficit would come in at $20 million. Post election the red ink had swollen to $33 million.

Anyone in the private sector would be fired for such a dramatic misreading of reality. But in the rarified air of politics, the minister can simply call it a ‘snapshot’ in time and move on.

In moving on, the premier still talks of bringing our provincial books into balance this year. Why is this important? Our province carries a debt of $2.2 billion. We have no capacity to repay it. In the last 40 years PEI has run only four surplus budgets, which means we are in a chronic deficit position. If we want to fund frontline education, health care, environmental protection and even modest economic development we need the money to do it.

And this brings us to happenings in our Maritime neighborhood. Recently the premier of Nova Scotia mused about standardizing HST across the Atlantic provinces. By standardizing he meant raise the rate to match the 15% in Nova Scotia. Last week New Brunswick did just that, upping the HST from 13 to 15%.

There will be significant political pressure for PEI to follow. More importantly is the financial pressure. It’s easy money for the MacLauchlan government, estimated at $28 million per year.

PEI’s response has been coy at best. Roach says it would not be appropriate to comment during pre budget consultations. That’s ridiculous. The minister has a responsibility to tell Islanders if he is considering increasing a tax that disproportionately hurts lower income Islanders.

You can make a case that increasing the HST is an appropriate measure, but only if it includes a significant restructuring of government. Our civil service accounts for 70% of the province’s $1.6 billon budget. Without changes to the size and scope of government, any increase will simply kick fiscal responsibility down the road.

There is nothing in the Liberal record, either under former Premier Ghiz or MacLauchlan, that would indicate a desire to tackle the very thorny issue of restructuring government. The new premier has shuffled the chairs, but he has not reduced the overall number. And that’s the key. Government must change to meet both the fiscal and demographic challenges our province faces.

Without change our future is already written. An escalating debt that requires an ever increasing percentage of our budget just to service (debt service is already the third largest ‘department’ in government, behind only health and education), an aging workforce that as it retires will make provision of existing services more difficult, and fewer taxpayers to pay the bills.

This is not about mass firing or turning the civil service on its ear. It is about long term planning that extends beyond the myopic electoral cycle that has gotten us into this pickle.

PEI has likely already agreed to increase the HST. That’s the easy road. What remains to be seen is if government has the courage to do the heavy lifting to earn it.

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


2) A different way of looking at the bank accounts:
http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_4bfe4c12-cf4b-11e5-97ee-2f4246e5a850.html

Balancing the provincial budget is not a priority - The Easten Graphic article by Allan Rankin

by Allan Rankin, "Thinking about it" column
Published on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, in
The Graphic newspapers

Finance Minister Roach has been travelling throughout Prince Edward Island these past few weeks consulting Islanders on the upcoming provincial budget.

Mr Roach says government is working to balance the provincial budget for 2016-17 because it “demonstrates the fiscal responsibility and accountability that Islanders expect.”

In other words, Minister Roach is presuming Islanders will support the reductions in program spending required to eliminate the current projected provincial deficit of $32.9 million.

I somehow doubt that very much.

In spite of the Island’s precarious and chronic financial footing, we are not at all a fiscally conservative people, and with the exception of former Premier Catherine Callbeck’s successful deficit crusade in the 1990s, which led to her own political downfall, Island governments in recent times have been big spenders.

When I was a deputy minister running a government department, Premier Joe Ghiz welcomed me into his office one day with a call to action.

“Tell me how I can spend the people’s money today,” the Liberal premier asked as he sat back in his chair smoking a cigar.

It was a serious and genuine request, for Joe Ghiz was a social progressive who wanted to make life better for Islanders.

He wasn’t at all preoccupied with operating deficits.

His son had much the same philosophy, and there is no reason to believe our current premier, having re-built UPEI and left that institution with a sizeable debt, will adopt a much different approach to fiscal management.

And there is really no reason he should.

For while some Islanders may pretend they want a balanced provincial budget, and the Opposition jump up and down demanding one, the truth is our expectations for quality health care and educational services in particular, rule out a balancing of the books anytime soon.

It’s all a futile exercise in book keeping.

Premier MacLauchlan wants to grow the Island economy and I applaud his efforts to do so. But save for the discovery of a rare metal under the sandstone cliffs at North Cape, or the announcement of a new Tesla car assembly plant for Borden, our economic development outlook remains bleak.

Now it might be a different story if our political leaders were interested in making structural, fundamental changes to our economy, but they are not.

When individual citizens become financially insolvent they declare bankruptcy. Private companies go into receivership. Municipal corporations either have their indebtedness assumed by the province or they are dissolved.

But provinces are governing jurisdictions under the Canadian Constitution and as sub-national bodies are protected from financial Armageddon by the federal government.

Because Prince Edward Island is a province, to put it bluntly, we are ‘too small to fail.’

In my opinion we should stop all of this wringing of hands about deficits and debt.

When Saskatchewan fell into financial ruin during the Great Depression, the federal government stepped in and total relief payments amounted to almost twice the provincial budget in the years between 1937 and 1939.

In fact, you could argue that the federally funded Comprehensive Development Plan of the 1970s in Prince Edward Island was a similar kind of financial rescue package, transforming social and economic institutions as it did and pulling us up as a society.

The MacLauchlan government doesn’t seem to be interested in pursuing any kind of multi-sector development agreement with Ottawa.

And so we will stumble along, from one year to the next, taking federal infrastructure and other one-off funding when we can get it, tediously managing and trying to keep costs down while increasing revenues.

Business groups will harp in the media about the Island’s deteriorating fiscal position and the Conservative Opposition will spend weeks in the Legislature grilling the government on its projected spending.

We should instead take comfort in our gift of jurisdiction and let her rip.

Government should hire more teachers and nurses, take children and families out of poverty, build our industries, invest in rural communities and as Joe Ghiz liked to say, spend the people’s money.

Islanders don’t really care about balancing the provincial budget.

Regardless what Minister Roach might tell you, it’s not a priority, nor is it essential to our future as a province.

Parva sub ingenti.

These words are emblazoned on the Great Seal of Prince Edward Island.

From a poem by the Latin poet Virgil, they mean “the small under the protection of the great.”

It’s our provincial motto and in my view it’s our priceless gift of jurisdiction.

For when Prince Edward Island slips below the financial waterline, Ottawa will be there to protect and save us.


A reminder for tomorrow, from a postponement from last week:
Tuesday, February 16th:
ECOPEI's AGM,
all welcome. Starting at 6:30, with a short business meeting, then special guest speakers starting about 7PM.
Beaconsfield Carriage House, Kent Street.

And a notice via Jordan MacPhee, from a young person named Lilly Hickox, who is speaking at the ECOPEI AGM about her work with Save Our Seas and Shores PEI:

I was just wondering if you know of any youth between the ages of 15 and 18 who are active and involved with environmental issues and international affairs relating to sustainability. There is a fantastic opportunity for a team of four students ( two females and two males) to take part in Junior G7 Summit in Japan. I am planning to apply, but I must apply with a team. <snip>

Here is the link to the event: http://www.acic-caci.org/volunteer-opportunities/

**she and another girl are interested, so she is looking for one or two boys and the deadline is the end of today.  Please contact me ASAP if you know of a boy or two who might be interested and I will forward your information to her.**


The Right Honourable Paul Martin talks in this Global Chorus essay about protecting the high seas:

<snip> "A global body ensuring the health of the oceans, if properly structured, would not only do much to ensure the health of our economies, it would also ensure the health of humanity." -- Paul Martin

More about that global body, The Global Ocean Commission, here.

February 14, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

James Aylward, MLA for District 6: Stratford-Kinlock, has consistently made the point about abolishing parking fees at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and wrote this letter published in Saturday's Guardian.  This has not managed to make it to the paper's on-line site where I could find it, but James posted it on social media and I copied it from there.

Remove Parking Fees - The Guardian Guest Opinion by James Alyward

Printed in The Guardian on Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Like most Island families I've had to make many lengthy visits to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

It happens to most of us, at one time or another, and lately, for me, it's occurring more often in order to help and comfort family members and friends. A complication of our aging years.

The QEH is an excellent facility. It's a referral hospital, for the entire province. It treats some of the most serious ailments and illnesses that often require days and weeks of treatment.

Many of the patients are aging and from rural PEI. For their families, there are many other costs just to get to Charlottetown. From transportation, gas, coffee and food and sometimes lodging. Then on top, there is the parking fee at the QEH. The first 30 minutes are free, then $ 1.50 for the first hour, to a maximum of $7.00 a day. That doesn't sound like a lot of money, but for most hard-working Island families it all adds up.
The QEH is the only Island hospital that puts that burden on visitors. It increases the stress, irritation and inconvenience of visiting and comforting a sick family member or friend.

It's mercenary and uncaring and some believe it can become a barrier to health care and recovery.

The parking fee doesn't collect a lot of money. $375,000 a year, but it's just “nickel and diming" the families who need the QEH's expert medical care.

Government already collects over $873 million in taxes from Islanders, $31 million in licenses and permits and another $34 million in fees and services for a wide variety of things like motor vehicles licenses, permits and court fees. Through hard earned tax dollars, paid by Islanders, the QEH was built and continues to be maintained. Parking fees are simply another tax and a burden placed on Islanders by government.

But with regards to parking at the QEH, it's also the process of picking up the parking ticket, going through the barriers, finding a parking space if possible, and then again stopping at the booth on the way out to pay.

The parking fees are part of Health PEI's $738 million expenditure on public and private health services. The QEH budget is well over $118 million dollars.

Health PEI officials say they can't eliminate parking fees, unless they replace it with another revenue source.

But why not reduce, or streamline some costs, rather than continue the ever expanding costs of health care.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information recently pointed out that 7.5% of every health care dollar on Prince Edward Island is spent on administration. Five times higher than the other Atlantic Provinces.

Why can't we find ways to reduce those administrative, bureaucratic costs and remove the $375,000 in parking fees?

Sincerely

James Aylward,
MLA, Stratford-Kinlock


Joel Salatin is a now-famous farmer in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, known for figuring out how to make a living "raising grass", as he calls raising animals on rotating pastures.  Here is part of his Global Chorus essay from February 11th.

    <snip> "When Coca-Cola, Twinkie and Froot Loops are considered safe while raw milk, Aunt Matilda's homemade pickles and compost-grown tomatoes are labelled unsafe by the government food police, the civilization is on a collision course with its ecological umbilical cord.  When the freedom of choice movement extends beyond marriage, sexual orientation and education to include food, we will unleash the entrepreneurial creativity of thousands in their kitchens and on acreages.  The impediment to redirecting our U.S. ship of state is not technology, resources, people, money or spirit.  The impediment is confiscatory taxes to pay for big government to extend concessions and welfare to the largest corporate players -- many with evil agendas -- in our world.  As each of us refuses to patronize evil systems, we inevitably create healing: of soil, nutrition, finances, emotion.  We can do this." -- Joel Salatin

More on Joel Salatin here:
http://www.polyfacefarms.com/

February 13, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

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

The Charlottetown Market has the bonus of having the PEI Symphony annual citrus fruit sale for the next few Saturdays.  It is also for sale at the Confederation Court Mall on Thursdays and Fridays. It is not local citrus ;-) but it does support our local symphony.
More details from PEI Symphony Facebook page


Yesterday, the province released this press release about energy strategy; bolding is mine.

NEWS RELEASE
-----------------------------
February 12, 2016
PROVINCE DEVELOPING NEW ENERGY STRATEGY
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI -- The provincial government is developing a new strategy to address key energy challenges now and over the next 10 to 15 years, says Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Paula Biggar.
“It is of utmost importance that we develop an energy strategy with a focus on sustainability, including approaches to energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy alternatives, and at reasonable prices,” said
Minister Biggar. “The strategy will be comprehensive in scope, and will be integrated with the provincial climate change strategy.”
The Prince Edward Island Energy Corporation will be working with Montreal-based Dunsky Energy Consulting in partnership with Power Advisory LLC to develop the strategy. Dunsky Energy Consulting, with offices in Halifax,
has conducted a number of similar studies in the Maritime provinces, and the State of Vermont. The study is expected to be completed by the end of June.
Minister Biggar said the energy strategy will reflect the priorities of the new government, and will be based on the principles of security of supply, responsibly sourced and fairly priced. She said the strategy will
alsotake into account regional energy considerations. The current energy strategy expires at the end of February.
“Energy is a key component in the lives of all Islanders, including heat, lights, transportation and business and industrial uses,” said Minister Biggar. “The new energy strategy will provide residents and businesses 
with significant economic and environmental benefits in the years to come.”

And here is a bit about the Dunsky Energy Consulting:
http://www.dunsky.com/
This all sounds positive.  The government has said there would be public consultations on the study after it comes out.


Here is the second part of the opinion piece by the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water about the idea of Water Governance Boards.  It's adapted from the Coalition's submission to the Environmental Advisory Council, which should be coming out with their report in late March on what should be in a water act .

from The Guardian, Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, opinion page

Water governance in P.E.I. Water Act - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Catherine O'Brien and Don Mazer

Applying participatory model to Prince Edward Island’s upcoming legislation

In the first part of this article we described key features of participatory and collaborative approaches to water governance.

What we require now is both a commitment to a participatory process in the development of the Water Act and related policies, and the incorporation of collaborative models of governance in the Water Act itself.   It is essential to “widen the funnel” so that the valuable input of engaged citizens will have a meaningful role in deliberating about options and formulating the emerging policy.

It is also important to recognize that whatever legislation, policy, regulations and governance structures we develop will be grounded in particular values and ethics. Water is a human and ecosystem right and socio-ecological good. Our goals and rationales must be based on this value and included in the legislation.  All-important “stakeholders” must be represented and democratic processes respected. Governance models and implementation strategies must further promote these principles and values.

Some form of a Water Governance Board is an excellent idea, incorporating multiple stakeholders, shared decision-making, transparency and public accountability. There are examples of boards in California, in Europe, and in Canada that reflect such collaborative governance. It would be the work of the policy development group to research the range of options in developing structures suitable for P.E.I.

Any models of governance must have an important role for watersheds, and there are many illustrations of how this can be done (http://www.polis

project.org). Watershed groups can make many decisions, while government retains its essential regulatory and enforcement responsibilities.

A Policy Development Group would provide a format where a broad range of ideas are articulated and negotiated in the development of policy and structures. Such a group requires multiple stakeholders, shared decision-making and active public participation.

The Coalition For The Protection of P.E.I. Water believes that the key goal of the Water Act should be the restoration and preservation of healthy aquatic ecosystems. It is imperative to recognize that water is a right for both humans and ecosystems. In Ecuador, nature (Pachamama) has rights embedded in its constitution, and parties can be sued on behalf of Pachamama if they infringe on these rights. A Policy Development Group must include people who recognize the importance of such rights who could “speak for nature.”

That group would include representatives from the Coalition, watershed groups, First Nations, and from the water and watershed scientific community. Certainly there are other “stakeholders”– government officials and policy developers, those whose livelihood is intimately connected with water, and others who will also be included.  A shared commitment to such ecological goals is essential in all members of such a group that develops our policies about water and its governance.

The Water Act consultations have been an important step in public participation. We encourage the EAC to take the next bold steps in this process by developing democratic and participatory forms of water governance: First, by including engaged citizens committed to the health of ecosystems as members of the Policy Development Group that develops the Act, and then by developing collaborative structures of governance, like Water Boards, that will carry forth this work.

Catherine O’Brien and Don Mazer are members of The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water (peiwater.com)

February 12, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

It sounded like an interesting public meeting last night in Souris about residents' access to health care providers.  No one from government addressed the crowd in an official capacity.  The folks sound organized and both local MLA Colin LaVie (District 1: Souris-Elmira) and Opposition health critic James Aylward (District 6:  Stratford-Kinlock) are paying attention and will bring these concerns to the Legislature.
--------------------------------------------

More wonderful entertainment in the next few days with talented and caring Islanders:
Tonight:
Concert with fiddler Roy Johnstone, Rob Drew, Cian O'Morain, Mary MacGillvray and Eoin Begley, 8PM
Irish Cultural Centre (Benevolent Irish Society) North River Road.
from the media release: "The duo of Johnstone and Drew will be joined by multi-instrumentalist Cian O'Morain, who has recently moved to PEI from Ireland, singer Mary MacGillvray and concertina player Eoin Begley.  Johnstone and Drew will be performing some new material from Brittany, France. Ever since Johnstone visited the north west coast of France in the 1980's he has had a passion for the music of the Bretons.  Cian, Rob, Roy, and Mary have shared their love of music at house parties and at the sessions at the Old Triangle. The four musicians will be combining story telling, songs and the best of traditional Irish and Scottish music. For more information contact George O'Connor at 566-3273."
--------
Sunday, February 14th:
Valentine Cabaret, with Catherine O'Brien, Joey Kitson, and musicians Don Fraser, Alan White and Deryl Gallant, The Mack, 7:30PM, tickets $25
It's a Valentine's Day tradition, and there are still a few seats left.  More details from the Confederation Centre website


Lots to think about and in this letter about glyphosate (a herbicide trademarked by Monsanto as "Round-Up") from Tony Lloyd:
Link from Tony Lloyd's letter to the editor, February 11th, 2016 in The Guardian

Biological effects of Glyphosate remain unknown - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, February 11th, 2016, in The Guardian

Glyphosate has been used as a herbicide for the past 40 years without fully understanding its biological effects. During the past decade biologist have focused their attention on bacteria in the human gut and have discovered at least 1000 separate species of bacteria live in each human large intestine; the total population being over 100 trillion.

Gut bacteria have DNA codes for over 150 times as many genes as their host. Gut bacteria synthesize vitamins, network with immune cells in the gut wall, extract energy from non-digestible plant and animal metabolites that are resistant to human enzymes and defend against toxic substances. The union of gut bacteria genes allied with human genes defines a 'super organism' with a 'super-genome.'

One fifth of the carbon fixed by plants flows through their shikimate pathway. The shikimate pathway is a sequence of metabolic biochemical reactions first discovered in the Japanese flower shikimi. Glyphosate kills plants by blocking one stage of the shikimate pathway. GMO plants have altered the gene for the blocked shikimate stage, hence glyphosate doesn't kill GMO plants; the resulting end product is glyphosate contaminated GMO food.

Twenty amino acids are used to build protein and the shikimate pathway synthesizes three of them: phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. The shikimate pathway is found in algae, bacteria, fungi and plants and exists in all human gut bacteria. Glyphosate contaminated food is not safe.

With the shikimate pathway blocked, the three missing amino acids must come from: (1) food we eat, our diet, (2) from recycled protein within cells, (3) from recycled protein from 'dead' cells, and in extreme cases, (4) by cannibalizing body tissue. A false economy has been created by neglecting the externalized costs of poisoning Islanders with glyphosate-laden food, air and water.

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart


Today would have been English naturalist Charles Darwin's 207th birthday; and these two quotes are both worth sharing:
 
"Great is the power of steady misrepresentation."-- Charles Darwin

"The love for all living creatures is the most notable attribute of man."-- Charles Darwin

February 11, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight, Thursday, February 11th:
The second community forum with the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, 7PM, Morell High School, Morell
This is the only public meeting scheduled east of Charlottetown in this round. 
The format is casual, with a welcome and short video overview of some potential voting systems, then an open discussion on how the plebiscite question could be framed, and other comments.  It is a chance to be part of the discussion.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
I was very glad to see this articulate response to The Guardian's recent editorial on electoral reform and the Premier's comments affecting it: from: The Guardian, Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, page A7.

New life for editorial reform plebiscite? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Anna Keenan

Premier’s comments prove there is still much interest in debate

In response to The Guardian’s weekend editorial on electoral reform:

No, November’s democratic renewal plebiscite is not ‘on life support.’ The campaign is just getting started. The premier’s comments only serve to heat up the debate.

The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal has just restarted its work for the year, consulting Islanders in preparing a plebiscite question for us to consider in November.  Premier MacLauchlan has made his personal views clear, but he is just one citizen on this Island - it’s up to all of us to get engaged and to form our own views.

We Islanders had the questionable privilege of two election campaigns last year - and we haven’t quickly forgotten what happened. Both the federal and provincial elections produced disproportional outcomes - clear majorities for the Liberals in terms of the number of seats held in the legislature, despite their party only having 40 per cent of the vote in both cases.

When 60 per cent of the population doesn’t support a so-called ‘majority’ government, the voting system isn’t truly democratic, and it needs to change.

Proportional representation, if used in last year’s provincial election would have led to 11 Liberals, 10 PCs, 3 NDP and 3 Green seats in the Legislative Assembly. Shock. Horror. It would have been a minority government.

But would that really have been so bad? With 14 votes of 27 needed to pass any bills, just imagine - the Liberals would need to get either the NDP or the Greens on-side with any legislation passed. Or the PCs would team up with both minor parties for a total of 17 votes to pass any changes.

Perhaps in such a situation, we would have had greater scrutiny, negotiation and co-operation on the province’s budget, instead of one party being able to push through what they want.

And if we’d had such a situation before the last election, perhaps that rather unfortunate e-gaming fiasco would have been avoided.

Inter-party co-operation is the norm in many nations who use proportional representation - including most countries in Europe. Where coalition or minority governments are common, the parties just learn to get along with each other. So, don’t be scared, Mr. Premier - it just means that you politicians will have an extra incentive to treat each other with respect.

Co-operation is the essence of democracy, and it’s a whole lot better than the partisan bickering and polarization that is encouraged by first-past-the-post.

I've met with the members of the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal - Liberals Jordan Brown, Paula Biggar, and Janice Sherry, Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, and Sidney McEwen of the PCs. I am especially impressed with their work and cross-party co-operation. They have such a positive tone, and their openness to citizen input is to be applauded as they look at the question of democratic renewal from all sides.

Their work presents a great opportunity for change on the island - and, as Trudeau’s cabinet also considers their options for federal electoral reform, it even presents an opportunity for P.E.I. to lead the nation. So, cheers Mr. Premier, for offering your controversial opinion. Although I strongly disagree with you, you’ve proved that there is some life in this debate yet.

Anna Keenan, New Glasgow, is a community activist on various issues who made submissions to the Democratic Renewal Committee last year, advancing a model called Dual-Member Mixed Proportional, and this model made it into the committee's final recommendations report.


A reader also commented in yesterday's Guardian  about the Liberal Caucus advertisement in with the Saturday paper: from:  The Guardian, Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, page A6.

Liberal pamphlet a waste of money - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Last week there was a very large pamphlet arrived at our house inserted in the Guardian listing all the members of the Liberal caucus?

I couldn't help but think of the wasted dollars to send this across P.E.I. If you wanted to get in touch with or talk to a minister one would have to go through a receptionist who would want to know every detail of your requested discussion.

This kind of money would be better spent on families that need to go to the Salvation Army to get a loaf of day old bread or take their five gallon containers to the service station to get oil to tide them over for a couple of days.

Same old . . . same old.

Carmel Bradley, Emyvale


And, more politics, kind of:

This is not an endorsement of anyone for the United States presidential nominations.  But this very short video about standing together is striking, both for the beauty of how it was made, and the beauty of the message: When we stand together, we win.
https://vimeo.com/153640576

February 10, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight should be the Haviland Club concert with Teresa Doyle as the special guest of Jon Rehder, starting about 7:30PM.  
"Music is back at The Haviland Club in Charlottetown on Wednesday nights with host Jon Rehder. Jon plays one set and features a guest for the second set: Teresa Doyle (Feb 10), Patrick Bunston (Feb 17), Tamara Steele (Feb 24)."


Teresa Doyle was one of the people who attended the first Community Forum on Democratic Renewal, which was in a downstairs meeting room at the Murphy Centre last night.  The weather, road conditions, and the late confirmation that it was a go may have affected attendance, but it was an engaged group of people that attended, with a wonderful mix of ages.  The format was casual, with chairs in a circle.  Peter Bevan-Baker was out-of-province on a family visit, and Richard Brown attended for a bit.  The discussion was cordial and gave people a chance to express their opinions.  The hard part is taking something as rangy and shaggy as electoral reform and trying to figure out what's the best way to start.  These are well worth attending if you can, the next being Thursday night (February 11th) in Morell, then a week off until Hunter River on the 23rd:


Yesterday's Guardian printed the first of two parts of a opinion piece, modified from what was sent to the Environmental Advisory Council last month, expanding on the ideas of more public participation in water governance.  This was just touched on in the last presentation by the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-02-09/article-4430822/Ecological-governance-and-dealing-with-P.E.I.s-Water-Act-issues/1

Ecological governance and dealing with P.E.I.'s Water Act issues - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Catherine O'Brien and Don Mazer

Published on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

The process of developing a Water Act for P.E.I. has created widespread and enthusiastic participation by the public. The Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) and government provided a wide range of opportunities for input so that citizens have had a chance to be heard. They were responsive to a range of public concerns about transparency, scheduling and time constraints on the process. The results have been heartening - well attended sessions, and thoughtful and articulate presentations from a variety of groups and individuals across a number of sectors. The undertaking thus far, with its valuable public contributions regarding how we think about water, reflects the potential for a participatory democratic process in developing our Water Act and policies and for all water governance on P.E.I. We are now waiting for the initial report from the EAC.

What happens next? “The Participatory Model of Water Governance”

It is essential to build on this productive and positive consultation experience in the steps to come. First, ongoing and meaningful public involvement is needed in the development of the new Water Act and policies. Second, the Act and policies should be grounded in more collaborative approaches to water governance.

The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development (1992) reflects the origins of such an approach. “Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy-makers at all levels.” Decisions are taken at the lowest appropriate level, with full public consultation and involvement in the planning and implementation of any activity that affects water. http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/hwrp/documents/english/icwedece.html

Several models of governance and decision-making have emerged in recent years that reflect such participatory approach: “decentralized collaborative watershed-based governance,” “delegated water governance partnerships” among others. Common components of these models are multiple stakeholders, shared decision-making and active public participation.

It is important to distinguish between the ideas of water “management” and water “governance.”  Water management is often grounded in centralized decision making with the government as the principle stakeholder.  By contrast, water governance reflects: “the range of political, organizational and administrative processes through which interests are articulated, input is absorbed, decisions are made and implemented, and decision makers are held accountable in the development and management of water resources and delivery of water services.”
http://www.obwb.ca/fileadmin/docs/fbc_watergovernance_final.pdf

POLIS, a BC research and sustainability institute, has done extensive work on the idea of “ecological governance” and applied this idea to watersheds.

“Ecological governance means embedding the environment in all levels of decision-making and action – from the personal to the global. It means thinking about our cities and communities, our forests and watersheds, our economic

and political life within a new paradigm that treats the environment not as an add-on or afterthought, but as all-encompassing and all pervasive.  

“Ecological governance is thus about democracy and community. It is also about the natural world within which our communities exist and interact, and which sustains us.” http://www.polisproject.org/about

Ecological governance reflects the necessary shift in thought that can help us to address our issues with water more holistically and sustainably, grounded on guiding value of restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems.

In the second part of this two-part series, we will discuss how we might move toward a participatory model of water governance on P.E.I.

 Catherine O’Brien and Don Mazer are members of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water (peiwater.com)

February 9, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

All musicians on P.E.I. are special, but there happen to be three individuals and their friends who give very much to environmental and democratic causes on P.E.I., and who have public performances this week:

Tonight:

Doug Millington and a gaggle of jazz musicians called the Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble fill up The Pourhouse above The Olde Triangle at the corner of Great George and Fitzroy; but there's still room for those wanting to hear amazing big band music and more. Starting at 7PM.
(After, of course, you get to ECOPEI's AGM starting at 6:30PM at Beaconsfield  Carriage House first, or the First Community Forum on Electoral Reform, at Murphy Centre, 7PM tonight.)
Facebook event listing for Jazz Ensemble

Tomorrow, February 10th:
Teresa Doyle, who ran for the Green Party of Canada in the Cardigan Riding, is playing at the Haviland Club with Jon Rehder (another very giving person) for his weekly show starting about 7:30 - 8PM.  Corner of Water and Haviland Streets.
"In the second set she will be sharing songs from her fall release I Remember Canada. Inspired by Pete Seeger and Buffy St. Marie, Teresa addresses critical social and political issues. She was also be sharing some sassy jazz tunes."
Facebook event listing

Sunday, February 14th:
Catherine O'Brien and Joey Kitson will appear in their annual Valentine's Cabaret, The Mack, 7:30PM, with a musical trio of Don Fraser, Alan White and Deryl Gallant.  "This musical union sets the scene for a memorable night of romance, humour, and classic love songs."Source: BUZZon.com
The Buzz event listing


The Buzz also listed the International Development Week activities very succinctly, which I just edited a bit:

International Development Week Activities

Non-governmental organizations (NGO) displays will be presented at Timothy’s World Coffee all week.

Tuesday, February 9th - 1-4PM at Murphy’s Community Centre, Room 207, a webinar and workshop will be presented by Dr. S. Kindornay on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Role of Prince Edward Island.  Pre-register here
(NOTE:  This may be postponed due to weather -- call the Cooper Insitute at (902) 894-4573 if unsure)

Wednesday, February 10th - 7PM, Health Science Building Room 207, documentary film Refugees of the Blue Planet will be screened and followed by a discussion hosted by World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and Cinema Politica, Charlottetown.  Facebook event listing

Thursday, February 11th - 6–8PM at Timothy’s presentations by NGOs and Youth representatives of Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC) will discuss how PEI NGOs are working towards the SDGs.

Events are sponsored by the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation.


While pointing out the short time frame and limited localities for the second round of the electoral reform process, on behalf of the Citizens' Alliance, I encourage people to attend meetings and participate in this part of the discussion:
published in today's Guardian:

Editor:
        The search for democratic renewal on P.E.I. continues to look like a rush job.  The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal has allocated the next three weeks to engage Islanders in crafting a proposal for re-shaping P.E.I.’s electoral process, to be presented to the electorate before this year’s end. 

         The electoral reform process has not been without promise. During its fall hearings, the Special Committee criss-crossed P.E.I. in meetings that were run in a fair and cordial manner.  The committee members considered suggestions, and their report summarized these and offered recommendations on how to proceed.

          Haste appears to be the ultimate priority.  This next phase of public consultations begin tonight, Tuesday, February 9th, at Murphy’s Centre in Charlottetown, with stops in Morell, Hunter River, Tignish, Summerside and back in Charlottetown March 1st.  The compressed time frame and limited geographical distribution of these meetings make it more difficult for Islanders to be involved in the discussions.  It’s been made no easier by an anaemic effort of the provincial government in promoting this very significant process. 

    However brief, Islanders have access to a window of opportunity for electoral reform.  It is our responsibility to make use of it, not wait until another generation has the courage to do so.  Information and links on democratic renewal can be found at the Citizens’ Alliance website: www.citizensalliancepei.org

Sincerely,
Chris Ortenburger,
Chair, Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.

February 8, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A very good quote from a posting by Robert Reich,  former United States Secretary of Labour, who writes about politics, the global economy, and citizen engagement: from February 1st, 2016, on his Facebook page, just add "North" before "American":

As for you, your fundamental choice is to become an even more active and engaged citizen, or to fall into deeper cynicism. But if you choose the latter, you have no standing to complain in the future. The moneyed interests that dominate America would like nothing better than for all of us to become cynical and give up. That way, they can have it all. Our only hope for an economy and a democracy responsive to us instead of solely to them is to wrest power back from them. And the only way to accomplish this is through broad based, sustained, resolute political action. --Robert Reich

----------------------------
The Guardian's lead editorial Saturday on the Premier's comments that he didn't believe in proportional representation.
Guardian lead editorial on February 6th, 2016

Wade MacLauchlan's comments leave electoral reform on life support - The Guardian Lead Editorial

Published on Saturday, February 6th, 2016

On one hand premier pushes for reform, but on the other, he tries to guide Islanders toward unpopular option

Winston Churchill once declared that Russia was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. The same broad terms might be applied to Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s paradoxical position when it comes to electoral reform on Prince Edward Island.

On one hand the premier is pushing for rejuvenating government and reforming the way we elect MLAs. But on the other, he is trying to guide Islanders toward a particular option and not the one that many residents support.

In year-end media interviews, the premier has prejudiced the process that he initiated. There was no chance he was misquoted or that his views were misrepresented. They were plain for all to see and hear.

Government released a white paper on democratic renewal last July and struck an all-party committee of the legislature to consult Islanders on what options they support, narrow down those options, select a clear question for a ballot and then hold a plebiscite in 2016.

The committee did its duty in a vigorous and engaging fashion and reported to the House last November as directed. It recommended the vote be delayed from spring to fall this year. That would allow more time for additional public input and full engagement so everyone would know exactly what he or she was voting on.

That made sense. But then in late December, the premier expressed his disdain for proportional representation a popular option being considered by the legislative committee. It surprised a citizens’ group, created largely to push forward that very option.

One wonders how the legislative committee reacted to the news that the premier appeared to be undermining its work?

The premier’s general position on electoral reform is admirable - " . . . that more people should see that their votes count." He is already on the record saying electoral reform will make the chances of massive majorities less likely which is a good thing.

Then the premier fired holiday broadside after broadside into the belly of the electoral reform ship, sending it careening towards rocky shoals. "I'm not a believer in proportional representation. I think it would give us minority governments in perpetuity . . . we have an active and effective democracy . . . we shouldn't be trying to upset the apple cart or to completely change what has been a system that, frankly, has people engaged."

Ouch. That has to hurt to the electoral reform movement. It’s one thing for John or Jane Q. Public to get up at meetings and voice opinions, but it’s quite another for the premier to sentence an election reform option to death row. And what is wrong with minority governments?

The premier might argue that Islanders expect him to voice his opinion and go on the record or he would be shirking his duty.

A lot of Islanders support a mixed member proportional representative system widely used in most Western democracies. That support was voiced at public meetings and in letters and opinion articles to this newspaper. Generally speaking, proportional representation is a system of government that ensures the legislature has the same representation as the popular vote.

The premier must remember that just over 40 per cent of Islanders voted Liberal last May. A solid majority did not vote for the government, yet the Liberals won 18 of 27 seats.

When the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation committee met this week, discussion centred on the premier’s comments, which were termed an act of sabotage. Supporters are still smarting from a 2005 plebiscite where 63 per cent of Islanders rejected a proposal for proportional representation.

When the premier of the province is openly against an electoral reform option, the general message to Islanders at large is to avoid changing our current first-past-the-post system. The premier said as much, suggesting it has worked well in our province that leads the nation in voter turnout. So we must be engaged.

The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal is continuing its work by hosting six community forums across the province over the next month. During the meetings, the committee will be having an informative exchange on potential plebiscite questions. But it will have another problem - fending off questions about the premier’s stunning comments.

The 2016 plebiscite, already viewed with suspicion in some areas, is now on life support.
----------------------------------
 Everyone on this Island has to approach this process with an open mind. 


Tomorrow has a variety of events taking place:
Tuesday, February 9th, 1-4PM
Workshop: The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals: What do they mean for Prince Edward Island?
Murphy Centre, Ch'town
This is a free workshop and everyone is welcome.
These goals were adopted last year by the UN and area an agenda to "end poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years."

Registration is required -- more information here: Facebook event
-------------
Tuesday, 6:30PM
ECOPEI Annual General Meeting

Beaconsfield Carriage House, Charlottetown
A review of their activities and a line-up of engaging guest speakers.
http://www.ecopei.ca/events/

---------------
Also, Tuesday night, at 7PM
First Democratic Renewal Forum
Murphy Centre, Charlottetown
More info: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/democraticrenewal/

February 7, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Sunday Housekeeping:
A correction from yesterday -- the $1 entrance fee for the new Farmers' Market at the Farm Centre does not go to operating costs, but to the food bank and the Farm Centre Legacy Garden.  The next day for this market is the last Saturday on the month, February 27th.

The rest of today's Citizens' Alliance News is thanks to having a subscription to The Guardian newspaper:

Another correction from yesterday's Citizens' Alliance News: 
The Guardian
reported that the e-gaming lawsuit had been dismissed:

Friday's Guardian, front page, screenshot from e-edition

Turns out:
Saturday's Guardian, page A2, screenshot from e-edition.
OK, so it was *not* dismissed. 

The newspaper on Thursday, February 4th, had its annual supplement about the P.E.I. Roadbuilders Association, with their news and lots of ads. 
It is available on-line as a special edition.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/media/issues/flipbook/0000002594/

For the past two or three years, engineering consultant Stantec (which was hired by the P.E.I. government to do the environmental impact assessment for the Plan B highway) has run the very same ad.
Stantec's ad in the supplement, (left), showing the Fairyland end of the Plan B highway project, taken in early Fall 2013; on the right is a Google Earth homemade map, from before construction started, flipped to show the same orientation as the Stantec picture (sorry for the upside-down wording).

Stantec ad (left) and Google Earth image (right), New Haven, P.E.I.

Not sure what you think, but the tagline "Design with community in mind" and is just much too much irony.


Finally, Friday's paper has a glossy insert, which is not archived on-line like the newspaper special inserts.  It is a quarter-fold flyer, measuring a whopping about 28 inches by 11 inches, from the Liberal Party of P.E.I., with all the members of the Liberal Caucus (east to west) and government priorities.  It exudes confidence, the good life, hard work, security....

front page and folded inside
Unfolded length, and back page.
-----
It's been almost a year since Wade MacLauchlan became Premier, and it's over three years until another election, so one wonder about the timing of this bit of partisan publicizing.  Someone mentioned that it looked like an "ad for majority governments", just as the next phase of meetings on electoral reform is about to begin.

Have a wonderful day, whether getting to the P.E.I. Symphony concert today (Zion Presbyterian Church, Prince Street in Charlottetown, 2:30PM, tickets at the door) or watching the National Football League Super Bowl (broadcast on CTV with the actual game starting at 7PM; also a P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party fundraiser, at the upstairs location of Hunter's Ale House on Kent Street and the game on big-screen TVs, with Federal Leader of the Opposition Rona Ambrose, starting at 6PM Details here) , or just enjoying the winter weather.

February 6, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today, the Farmers' Markets in Charlottetown and Summerside will be open, and a new market at the Farm Centre (420 University Avenue, near CBC) is set to open from 10AM to 2PM.  It promises to have food vendors and crafts people. There is a $1 admission fee, which presumably takes a little of the financial burden off the vendors.

Even though it's now really winter, it's still a good time to think of CSAs, or community supported agriculture.  First, there are a couple of options for Winter CSAs, with local, seasonal and well-stored produce, or some fresh sprouts or greenhouse greens, or meat or other products.  Some places will put together a box for you -- just contact them.
Spring will bring sign-ups for the traditional summer CSAs. It might be a great year to sign up for one, if you have been thinking about it.

Pauline Howard of the PEI Food Exchange put together this excellent, organized, updated list of CSAs farmers:
http://www.foodexchangepei.com/list-of-csas-on-pei.html


In case you had not heard, the gargantuan "Mother Canada" statue slated for a Cape Breton Park has been shelved by Parks Canada, it was announced yesterday.  Another national project that may not sit well with some is the Memorial for the Victims of Communism, in Ottawa.  Background and a survey --open until February 16th-- from the Department of Canadian Heritage, is here:
http://pch.sondages-surveys.ca/s/Victims-Communism/?l=en


A few weeks ago, the Saturday Guardian wrote a story about some former provincial politicians (who either didn't run or were defeated in 2015) and what they were up to now.  That provoked this letter from F. Ben Rodgers, which is amusing.  An update that the court case has been recently dismissed.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-01-21/article-4411201/There-must-be-other-Page-1-news-for-the-Guardian/1

There must be other Page 1 news for the Guardian - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, January 21st, 2016

I’m disappointed the Guardian would post Wes Sheridan’s photo on the front page of the Island newspaper <January 16th>. It surely shows both a dreadful lack of news and poor taste. Sheridan suddenly resigned saying he needed to look after his ailing wife.

But he and his wife are now in Halifax, Sheridan is working for Morneau Shepell — old business partners of his whilst he was the P.E.I. minister of finance. He is apparently providing expertise with the firm’s actuarial pension investments.

I wouldn’t let him within 100 miles of my investments, if I had any.

Next we have Robert Ghiz. He claims he is keeping busy doing some charity work. He claimed he had to leave before his term was up because he needed to spend time with his family.

Now a little birdie tells me he and family have sold and are off to Ottawa where he has a job with a law firm. More likely he wants to be nearby in Ottawa in case Justin throws him a bone.

Both these ex-politicians would have you believe their sudden departure from government, and now more hasty departure from the province, has nothing to do with the e-gaming scandal or the court case about to land at the government’s feet.

This is another example of politicians feeding us a line and thinking we will swallow it. The only positive I can take from this is the fact they are both off the Island.

F. Ben Rodgers, Abram-Village

February 5, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Arts and Sciences Lecture by Dr. Rita Wong from Emily Carr University was thought-provoking and very interesting.  She steps back and looks at the whole water picture and our place in it.  There was to be a poetry reading tonight at UPEI, but I am not sure what happens since the University is closed today.

It also sounds like the Charlottetown Inspired City consultations were a lot of fun and very well attended, with a lot of engaged youth. 


It would be great to bring that kind of introspection on our democratic system as a whole, and that kind of energy to the electoral reform discussions!

The next phase of public consultation begins next week -- forums to discuss what the plebiscite question should ask.  Here is the press release from the government:

-----------------------------
NEWS RELEASE
-----------------------------
February  3, 2016
SPECIAL COMMITTEE INVITES ISLANDERS TO PARTICIPATE IN COMMUNITY FORUMS
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI -- In response to the submission of its interim report to the Legislative Assembly, the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal is continuing its work by hosting six community forums across the province. Information can also be received online at www.assembly.pe.ca/democraticrenewal.
Last fall the committee held public meetings across the province to gather feedback on government’s White Paper on Democratic Renewal. “We are very grateful to everyone who took the time and made the effort to attend, to send us their comments by email, through our website, telephone calls and by mail. The committee’s report, tabled in the Legislature, made a number of recommendations as a result”, explained Jordan Brown, MLA for Charlottetown-Brighton and Chair of the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal.
The Special Committee recommended that Islanders vote in a plebiscite this fall to choose how Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are elected. What should the plebiscite question ask? During the meetings, the committee will be having an informative exchange on potential plebiscite questions that will be developed by the public of Prince Edward Island over the next few months.
The schedule of community forums include:
Tuesday, February 9 (7 pm) Murphy’s Community Centre, Charlottetown 
Thursday, February 11 (7 pm) Morell Regional High School, Morell
Tuesday, February 23 (7 pm) Central Queens United Church, Hunter River
Thursday, February 25 (7 pm) Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 6, Tignish
Saturday, February 27 (2 pm) Loyalist Lakeview Resort, Summerside
Tuesday, March 1 (7 pm) Murphy’s Community Centre, Charlottetown
For further information on the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal visit the committee’s website at www.assembly.pe.ca/democraticrenewal or call 902-368-5970 or toll-free 1-877-314-5518. 
The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal is made up of the following individuals:
Chair, Jordan Brown (Charlottetown-Brighton)
Dr. Peter Bevan-Baker (Leader of the Third Party)
Honourable Paula Biggar (Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy)
Janice Sherry (Summerside-Wilmot)
Sidney MacEwen (Morell-Mermaid)
For more information, contact JoAnne Holden, Legislative Assembly by email at jdholden@assembly.pe.ca@gov.pe.ca or phone (902) 368-4316.

CBC ran a story yesterday on the Coalition for Proportional Representation meeting Wednesday night (which I didn't get to), and discussions of the Premier's comments on proportional representation, here.


From the February 5th Global Chorus essay, from children's rights activist Craig Kielburger:

<snip>    "Children are our hope. And if generations to come are instilled with the same compassion, those world-beating challenges aren’t so overwhelming after all. Suddenly, those problems don’t really stand a chance." -- Craig Kielburger

More about his organization, Free the Children

February 4, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There are a couple of events going on tonight:
Inaugural Don Mazer Arts and Sciences Lecture, 7PM
UPEI, McDougall Hall room 242, free.
Dr. Rita Wong from University of British Columbia:
"Dr. Wong’s talk, entitled 'Humble Autonomy: Renewing Culture through Participatory Water Ethics,' will be the inaugural UPEI Don Mazer Arts and Science Lecture and is presented by the faculties of Science and Arts. Her talk will focus on Vancouver, with ample time afterward for the audience to discuss parallels with PEI. A reception with refreshments will follow."

Charlottetown's Inspired City Consultations
1-4PM and 7-10PM
Delta Prince Edward Hotel
http://theinspiredcity.com/


more events and details:
http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/events


Many people made the time to submit very thorough submissions to the Environmental Advisory Council these past few months. 
Here is one by Mr. Leaming Murphy of New London, which I have printed in full, at the end.

Take care,
Chris


from:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/wateract/index.php?number=1054207&lang=E
page: Public Feedback III

Public Consolation on Proposed Water Act for PEI
Date: November 15, 2015

Value of water

“The things which have the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange; and on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have frequently little or no value in use. Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarce anything; scarce anything can be had in exchange for it.”
– Adam Smith.

Submission prepared by: Leaming Murphy, Land owner, New London Bay Water Shed, PEI

Background: I am retired from Fisheries and Oceans after thirty five years of work within the Fishing and Aquaculture Industry of PEI. My back ground and experience includes more than twenty three years of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Programs.

From 1995 to 2007 my focus was Environmental Protection and Assessment as Area Chief, Oceans and Habitat for PEI. Working closely with community groups on a watershed ecosystem basis, developing strategic planning documents upon which they hope to assume a leadership role in the area of environmental protection.

This broader roll provided an opportunity to become involved with concepts such as Ecological Risk Assessments, Environment Assessment and Impact Statements in an effort to define the many stressors impacting the environment as identified by the local community.

The Proposed Water Act in my understanding requires that we look at the issue from two perspectives, one: To address the environmental and community issues of the past and, two; design a tool that can set the stage into the future that may also correct the omissions of the past. For example nitrates in ground water in some areas are considered high to very high. We must look at the larger issue of nitrates in ground water, water quality in our bays and estuaries, land use and cover, from an Ecological Risk Assessment perspective. While we have heard many complaints over and over again no one has paid enough attention to the cries. The media lines during any announcements on issue of water quality and water use repeat the same politically correct message with few action items.

Farming industry and row crop in particular are always included as a source of nitrates, golf courses, on- site septic system, cottage development etc. Seldom has any one noted the sewage treatment plants used by our towns and cities as a contributor This is very misleading  as they are in fact a major contributor to the loading in our estuaries. Many as well are primary treatment facilities which have limited design capacity to extract nutrients before the water makes its way to the bay downstream. While many municipality are making great efforts in upgrading and reduce the nutrient load substantially entering our open water systems.

Onsite septic systems are always highlighted, most are in the rural areas of the province. This point is always highlighted as a source when the number of people in a water shed in the rural areas would seldom exceed one hundred people.  Researching this topic you find that in the case of nitrates the literature states that each person will on average produce approximately 2.4 gm / kg of body weight per year . Chambers et al. Valialia, Costa, Given that this waste in treated within a onsite septic system there is a loss of approximately 45 % the this nitrate within the system and soil profile before it reaches the ground water table.  While I do not intend to minimize this the proportional contribution from this source is very small.

The literature also states that one lactating dairy cow of 1000 lbs will produce 280 grams per of nitrate /day. US Natural Resources Conservation Service, Agricultural Waste Management Field Hand Book, Live stock waste is a significant source within many watersheds as much of the livestock waste material is not handled properly and enforcement of the manure guild lines, Best Management Practices is all but non-existent. Much of the value as a nutrient source is  lost due to over land run off during weather events. The row crop industry to a large extent has over fertilized by a factor of two in the past  and do not take into account residual nutrient from previous crops or mineralization of organic matter. Take for example a water shed where there are 1000 acres of potatoes reared year after year with a conversion rate for nitrates as low as 35 %, there may be 35 people living in that water shed, the impact cannot be compared.

Someone asked Winston Church Hill,” How are you today?” His response was “compared to what”?  We are missing the point in many of these discussions, by not addressing “compared to what? 

Given all of the above, the issue at hand is how are we going to move on from here? Much time and money has been spent supporting community groups in their efforts to improve water quality within their watershed. These people have spent a large amount of time and volunteer hours doing what they thought was the right thing and that it had value . Only to have all their work lost because of mud slide due to very poor soil management up slope.  The Nutrient issue is no different we must start at the” top of the hill” as there will be very little long term value in suggesting that the solutions can be found anywhere but from " the top of the hill" and by managing inputs with known technologies.

A significant issue with many of our estuaries is the very long retention time the waters are held in our long and shallow river systems. A Modeling Report carried out on the Mill River System Martec Report 2001, identifies some areas in this system have retention times in the eighty to ninety day range. Coastal Oceans and Associates have carried out some modeling studies in the New London Bay, while somewhat lower retention times are still in the range of forty to sixty days. These values serve to illustrate to us that any over load entering these systems will be provided an opportunity for several generation of algae( Some species have regeneration time in hours ) and other organisms to flourish, die and decompose and mineralize adding to the continuous loading from non point sources within the water shed.

The Geomorphology of our water sheds and estuaries is something we can do nothing about and will
have to design remedial actions based on this constraint. This is an example of where we must apply a Risk Assessment Process to understand the major stressors and their sources before it is likely any one can be successful at remedial actions. This is a process where  Sources, Stressors, Fate and Effects and End points can be assessed and under stood. There are many examples of Risk Assessments carried out by the US EPA for example Buzzards Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Big Darby Creek, these assessment can provide a great deal of information to our situation on PEI and could provide a model for us to better understand and respond to the specific needs within a water shed. A paper by J. E. Costa et al 1999 entitled ‘Managing anthropogenic nitrogen inputs to coastal embayment's,” suggest an Ecosystem Classification System be applied to a water shed to take into account the inputs and impacts of the many stressors.

“Fate and Effect” are two considerations that are not well assessed before many of our policies and development programs are launched and delivered. For example recently both levels of government have supported the PEI Soil and Crop Association with a demonstration project to treat soil compaction within the row crop industry. The recommended treatment by this project was to use a very large harrow that would reach well into the soil profile to the hard pan and break it up allow for better drainage and increase the aggregate size in the soil profile. The hard pan is in fact the very thing we need to protect in order to reduce the loss of nitrates down through the soil profile and into the water table below.  There are many examples like this that in fact are adding to the problem not resolving the larger issue of water quality.

There some realities that we must face and the wide spread use and abuse of inorganic nitrates is one of them. The authors of “ Cleans Coastal Waters”, copy right 2000 states “The effect of human activity on the global cycling of Nitrogen is immense, and the rate of change in the pattern of use is extremely rapid. The single largest change in the nitrogen cycle comes from an increased reliance on synthetic fertilizer, which was invented during World War I and came into wide spread use  in the late 1950s. Inorganic fertilizers account for more than half of the human alteration of the nitrogen cycle and approximately half of the inorganic fertilizer used has been used on the planet in the past 15 years.

One consideration that is often not discussed on this topic in the impact reduced water quality will have on property values throughout the province but in particular shore line property values. There is literature on this issue it is based on inland lakes but it serves to illustrate the point. As the community came to realize the route we are on now will lead to decreased value of all properties inland and shore line lowering the tax base. The loss of recreational properties and land values for many of the tourist facilities that are now struggling to survive and will significantly reduce the attractiveness of Prince Edward Island as a tourist destination.

The larger community will no longer accept politically the fact land taxation assessments continue to increase while the water quality in front of them deteriorates. Papers prepared by Holly Micheals et al and Kevin Boyles et al, indicate that the values of shore front properties are tied to water clarity, Water clarity being a description of primary productivity. The research finds that land values can vary from $11.00 to over $200.00 per linear foot of shore front per meter difference in water clarity using, (Sechi Disk). There was a great deal of data used in determining the values in this report. If we apply this value to the several thousands of shore front properties developed and undeveloped along our shore line this will have a significantly impact.

In summary the people of the province PEI and their way of life is going to change in a negative way in the very near future if this issue of water quality is not addressed. We will no longer be able enjoy the bounty of our province nor will we be able to attract others to it if we continue on our existing path. Ground water quality is very important to the fabric of our province.

The Water Act and its Regulations are expected by many to be the answer to their prayers, the expectations are high by special interest groups in particular.

We must use some of the following initiatives to understand and educate the community at large on the limits and the assimilative capacity that our natural resources can be expected to absorb.

We must conduct Ecological Risk Assessments on representative watersheds and identify the stressors and their relative impacts. Followed by identification of remedial actions to deduce impacts, we have gone too far now in some areas to expect immediate responses to any recovery plan, it will take years for some of the stressors to move through the system.

•   Water shed planning and its assimilative capacity must be quantified.

•   Residential development must be limited to those areas where the assimilative capacity exists. That includes designing systems where water infiltration can occur. Paved roads large parking lots with drainage systems designed to funnel water to the nearest open water system within minutes of its falling with no chance to recharge the water table.

•   The farming industry must undergo a major change in its management planning and production expectations. The industry must recognize nitrogen in its many forms is a pollutant.

•   Nutrient Management Planning must be implemented. Including a accountability program that will hold the producer to account. We are dealing with a hazardous product or substance that has an impact on off - site resources. All other industries on the modern world where there is a by - product leaving the site must have some remedial actions attached.

•   Best management Practices have some value but no accountability, this must change. Organic and inorganic inputs applied to a rearing area that is not soil managed, nutrient managed and slope restriction will need to be enforced and licensed. This may involve lower density of certain corps in some water sheds for example.

•    The industry must take some responsibility for their actions and record these activities and must be available to an audit process. The processing industry is accountable to their regulator and clients in the area of food safety and monitor criteria at critical points in order to ensure compliance with a regulation or practice. For example; applying nitrogen to a crop when the risk is high of leaching loss to the local environment, in manner and rate in excess of the crop needs. This would be noted and corrected through an audit process.

The Ecological Risk Assessment Process can identify sources and will create a list of activities with the highest risk. Once these are identified apply remedial actions on a least cost first basis. This may not always mean the worse first, but by taking the least cost first the community may be able to see some benefit and will be prepared to respond and adopt further measures.

Changes to the coastal ecosystem took years (decades) to get to the situation we are now in. It will take years to get back. This is a very important massage to relay to the public and in particular the active community groups to ensure they remain interested in the long term value of their work and not become disengaged because they see few improvements.

The Water Act and it many regulations must not be a vehicle to down load responsibilities to the community groups. Divesting this authority to these Watershed Groups will accomplish nothing as they lack for the most part the expertise to understand the scope and consequences of their decisions. Inconsistencies form one watershed to another will create confusion and hardship on the residential and industrial interests with the watershed.  Given this Water Shed Groups play a very important role in the communities they must not be placed in an enforcement and compliance role, this will spell the end of the concept.

Water Extraction: this is the issue that has driven the concept of a Water Act for PEI. This is tall order as the public are more interested in making it an opportunity to stop the expansion high volume / deep water wells once and for all. This must not happen. towns and cities depend on these resources for the growth and development of their communities We cannot make exceptions for those interests at the expense of industrial interests including irrigation.

The city of Charlottetown reports a figure of 306 liters / Person / day, the Provincial Environment Department claims that value to be less than 200 lpd on a province wide basis. The city of Charlottetown's numbers are very high and waste full while the Winter River goes dry every year.   The Water Act must set some mechanism in place to reduce the demand for water resources by large consumers like this. The following conditions must apply:

•    Water meters on all outlets from a public utilities and consumption paid for on / liter basis. No Exceptions

•   Provide leadership to the community through education in ways to reduce water use.

•   Building Permits issued by any authority must specify the maximum flow rates for all fixtures within the proposed building. Enforcement through inspections and audits. This would apply to hotels and residential homes and business.

•    Planning and Review Boards must impose restrictions on all new and upgrades to all buildings and structures to insure drainage systems have "Detention and Retention" capacities built in to any construction project. This includes residential buildings and subdivisions, ie. dry wells draining roofs and drive ways.  This will increase recharge and reduce the risk of recreating Winter River situation.

We must be care full not to build expectations into this imitative like the buffer zone legislation did to large degree. Fifteen meter Buffer Zones solves very little given the very large row crop industry on PEI,  if we do not apply Soil Management Techniques up slope.

In the early 1990's T. l. Chow, Herb Reese, and J.L. Daigle conducted a study on the Effectiveness of Terraces/ Grassed Waterway System for Soil and Water Conservation: A field Evaluation where they monitored all the water applied to two plots of land, 9 acres and 16 acres over a five year period. A 16 acre plot was soil managed with terraces and grassed water ways. The smaller plot 9 acres was farmed over the study period with potatoes reared up and down slope. The plots were in the same general area with both having an average slope of approximately 5.5 %. Potatoes were reared in the
study area three years in five. ( Grain 1990, potatoes 1991, potatoes 1992, Grain 1993 and potatoes 1994 ) The average rain fall over the five years was 650.5 mm, the soil loss from the soil managed rearing area was reduced to  1.7 ton / acre while the up and down slope lost 20.7 tons / acre.  A second consideration was the difference in moisture retained in the soil managed area was 150 mm over the up and down slope rearing area. This is significant and equivalent to 6 inches of moisture that would not have to added to the crop to realize the same yield and quality.

This information is not well communicated to the agricultural industry but clearly is would reduce the demand for irrigation waters from deep water wells that is now on the table and to a large extent the reason for the Water Act discussions.

It is the view of the author that any further consideration on the high volume irrigation wells we must consider that several conditions be applied to any license or permit issued in this area.

The following conditions must be included and commitment to enforced them before any permit are issued:

•   That any lands to be serviced by a  "Water Withdrawal or Extraction Permit" must have demonstrate and maintain compliance with a full Three year Crop Rotation not 2 in 5 a full three crop rotation on all lands receiving irrigation waters from surface and ground water sources.

•   That any lands to be serviced by a  "Water Withdrawal or Extraction Permit must be soil managed, designed by qualified Soil Management Specialist prior to any water extraction.

•   That any lands to be serviced by a  "Water Withdrawal or Extraction Permit must be treated using "Dammer Dyker" technologies during the potato production cycle.

•    Establish a clear monitoring protocol for all those receiving permits, regarding volume of water drawn, date, time etc.

•    The Issuing Authority must design and enforce an audit protocol to monitor all water withdrawl permits.  No Exceptions or exclusions

•   Draft the Water Act to provide for Condition of License with clear compliance requirements

•    Failure to meet any or all to Conditions of License will result in cancellation of License for the season or some number of years.

•    Some or all of the above Condition of License must apply to all permit holders Agricultural, Industrial, Public Utilities and all Municipalities

Prince Edward Island has enjoyed an abundance of surface and ground water resources and we must adjust our expectations to the new reality the landscape and ground cover has changed over the past decades. This has changed the water cycle on PEI so we must account for that as we plan for future demands.

At this same time we on PEI have enjoyed a great bounty of shellfish from our bays and estuaries. The mussel industry for example has grown where in 1981, 108 thousand pounds of mussels were sold commercially  to 2015 the annual sales are now in the order of 55 million. In fact PEI supplies 80 % of the fresh cultured mussels sold in North America.

PEI enjoyed this "growth and development in the shell fish industry because we have an agriculture industry not in spite of it". There is no doubt we have some of the most productive bays and estuaries in Eastern North America. We must create a balance with in the ecosystems we are exploiting,. We are presently out of balance, we must use this opportunity to  develop  a Water Act to move the dial towards this balance.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input.
-end-

February 3, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some opinions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Canada is set to sign tomorrow, to bring back to Parliament for ratification.

First, an illustration from Summerside resident Karl Hengst, who lives gently on this Earth and brings clear, critical insight:

An illustration of the TPP's effects on important factors, by Karl Hengst, February 2016.  Used with permission.

Then (below) is the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries's Wayne Mackinnon cheerleads in the "Farming for the Future" column in Monday's Guardian.
The subtitle could be extended to say, realistically, "TPP opens possibilities for agricultural products to come into P.E.I., too."
----
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts offers this opinion as to why the U.S. Congress should reject it in this 6minute clip on her Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/senatorelizabethwarren/videos/552955198200311/?fref=nf
-------------------
Last is Blackberry founder Jim Balsillie from a recent opinion piece in The Globe and Mail on why the TPP is a bad idea for Canada.


from The Guardian, Monday, February 1st, 2016, page B5. (no link)

New Markets - The Guardian article

Trans-Pacific Partnership opens possibilities for agricultural products

This past week, the Government of Canada announced that it will sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The new trade agreement, which has yet to be ratified by participating nations, is the most comprehensive trade agreement in the world. The TPP will help deepen Canada’s trade ties in the dynamic and fast-growing Asia-Pacific region while strengthening existing economic partnerships with partners in the NAFTA and across the Americas.

TPP will open up new markets not only for agricultural commodities. It will also open up new markets for the food processing and beverage industry.

It currently comprises 12 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam), representing a combined market of nearly 800 million people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $28.5 trillion. With the TPP, Canada has now concluded free trade agreements with 51 nations, ensuring Canadian businesses have access to over 60 percent of the world’s economy. The TPP and trade agreements with the European Union and South Korea make Canada the only G7 nation with free trade access to the United States and Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

In 2014, Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector employed close to 2.3 million people and accounted for close to 6.6 percent of Canada’s GDP. Canada is the fifth-largest exporter of agricultural and agri-food products globally.

The gains from tariff elimination and improved market access for Canadian agriculture in the TPP are especially significant in the markets of Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam.

These are markets where Canada faces high tariffs and no prior preferential access. The average agricultural tariffs that Canada faces in these countries are 17.3 percent in Japan, 17 percent in Vietnam and 10.9 percent in Malaysia.

The TPP Agreement will give Canadian products preferential market access to all TPP countries.

It will provide new market access opportunities for Canadian pork, beef, pulses, fruits and vegetables, malt, grains, cereals, animal feeds, maple syrup, wines and spirits, baked goods, processed grain and pulse products, sugar and chocolate confectionery, and processed foods and beverages. It will also ensure that Canadians have a competitive advantage over competitors outside of the TPP, benefitting the entire sector, from producers to processors.

From 2012 to 2014, Canada’s agricultural and agri-food exports to TPP countries were worth, on average, $31.2 billion annually. Top exports were canola oil, wheat, live swine, baked goods, beef and processed potatoes.

For more information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, go to international. gc.ca/tradeagreements-accords-commerciaux/-avantages/sectorssecteurs/01AgriSector.aspx?lang=eng

This article was from the department of agriculture and fisheries. For comments and suggestions, email wemackinnon@gov.pe.ca.


From The Globe and Mail, 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-commentary/for-canadian-innovators-will-tpp-mean-protection-or-colonialism/article28462854/

For Canadian innovators, will TPP mean protection – or colonialism? - The Globe and Mail article by Jim Balsillie      

Published in The Globe and Mail on Saturday, January 30th, 2016

n his 2011 State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama said: “In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives; it is how we make our living.” If a Canadian prime minister emphasized innovation in a Throne Speech, he would have to say: “In Canada, we invented the touch screen, Ebola vaccine, Internet search engine and YouTube, but we’re not making a living from them. Instead, those Canadian inventions are generating hundreds of billions of dollars in prosperity for foreign countries.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is a legal and economic framework that will determine how its signatory nations make their living for the rest of the 21st century. As the world’s biggest exporter of intellectual property, the United States can make an even better living off its high-margin intellectual property (IP). Canada, which owns little valuable IP, will continue to make its living by selling low-margin resources and agricultural goods such as beef, canola and softwood lumber, and competing with low-cost manufacturing labour from Mexico, Peru and Vietnam. Global economic opportunities will continue to shift from traditional goods to IP-based goods, and as a large IP importer, Canada’s prospects are bleak.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative bills TPP as “Made in America” and “the first agreement that addresses the global digital economy.” That’s why TPP provides great benefits to national economies oriented to capturing wealth from high value-added goods and services. Canada is not one of those of countries. Because of decades of failed innovation policies, our economy is still structured for 19th-century commodities and 20th-century manufacturing rather than for a 21st-century innovation economy. When the TSX index traded down 11 per cent in 2015 (the worst performance among developed markets), the Nasdaq increased by more than 5 per cent and the S&P500 outperformed the TSX for the fifth straight year.

Canada currently does not have the capacity to compete in the global digital economy, which relies on intangible assets for growth. Despite Canada’s 14 new free-trade deals, the 30-per-cent decline in our dollar and a growing U.S. economy, Canada posted record trade deficits and shrinking exports throughout 2015 as prices for tangible commodities fell.

Why TPP makes matters worse

TPP raises the minimum global IP standards agreed by the World Trade Organization by extending and enforcing the U.S. IP regime and interests to all TPP countries. Make no mistake about it: This is not your father’s trade agreement. TPP clearly demarks the shift in global value creation from tangible to intangible goods by providing unprecedented advantages to current large holders and producers of IP.

Canada does not have the arsenal of valuable IP to benefit financially from such provisions. The Intellectual Property Owners Association’s most recent ranking of “Top 300 Organizations Granted U.S. Patents” lists BlackBerry as the only Canadian entry. In their “Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents,” the University of British Columbia was the only Canadian university, listed at 78th place with 29 patents granted (compared with the University of California’s 453).

Canadians create world-class innovations, but we fail to commercialize them. A recent Conference Board of Canada innovation report ranks Canada second to last on the ability to patent our ideas, a core aspect of ideas commercialization. With so few Canadian companies and universities positioned to benefit from TPP’s IP provisions, we are ill-prepared to compete with countries possessing hundreds of such wealth-generating entities.

Canada’s prosperity strategies for the past 30 years were dominated by the production principle of comparative advantage and trade liberalization. Unfortunately, this approach failed to position Canada for the global knowledge economy, including 21st-century trade agreements, such as TPP, which are not about the movement of tangible goods for developed economies, but rather about protection of their intangibles.

In 1975, intangible assets made up one-sixth of the value of S&P 500 companies; by 2015, they made up five-sixths of the value. On an inflation-adjusted basis, intangible asset values grew by 8.5 per cent a year, compounded, over 40 years, while tangible asset values – of which Canada has plenty – shrank.

Starting in the 1980s, Canadian policy makers and politicians blindly bought the narrative lobbied by foreign corporations, first in the pharmaceutical industry and then across all sectors, that stronger IP protection would lead to more domestic innovation and prosperity.

Three decades later, our pharma R&D has declined dramatically and drug prices for Canadian consumers are among the highest in the world. Our largest technology companies are much smaller now than 10 years ago and we have zero growth in innovation outputs over the past 30 years.

We should have learned our lesson by now, and yet the same outdated thinking from the 1980s is back on display from today’s TPP proponents: Focus on aligning our domestic IP laws with the U.S. system and hope for the best. TPP needs to be assessed not for its legal purity or alignment to U.S. laws, but for the economic impacts colonial IP policies have on Canada. After all, Canada has aligned its laws with the United States both directly and indirectly in several international treaties over the past three decades, and our innovation performance always faltered thereafter.

When Canada diligently follows U.S. and European demands for stronger IP protection, we create greater leverage and prosperity for large foreign companies with pre-existing intellectual property rights positions, which further entrenches and extends their profits at our expense.

Despite our self-imposed disadvantages, TPP enthusiasts in Canada argue that the agreement will open a market of 800 million people for our innovators and therefore spur innovation. Yet 97 per cent of world trade in information technology products already move tariff-free under the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement. So how does TPP provide new market access for Canadian technology companies?

Successful technology entrepreneurs don’t access existing markets – they create new markets. There was no pre-existing global market for search engines, wireless e-mail, ride-sharing apps, social-media networks or e-commerce platforms. Those markets were created by entrepreneurs who designed new business models, protected them using sophisticated IP rights strategies and attacked existing profit pools.

Canada had no strategy of spurring domestic growth through innovation because those responsible for the agreement never consulted with Canadian technology entrepreneurs. Compare that with the current U.S. Trade Representative, who spent six years with Silicon Valley’s best, crafting policies for TPP that resulted in what The New Yorker magazine has called “Silicon Valley’s Big TPP Win.” That’s why, more recently, Canadian TPP cheerleaders have started admitting that the agreement will not address our innovation shortcomings. If TPP does not enable Canadians to successfully commercialize our ideas, then it’s not a net benefit to our economy.

Every business is a technology business

Our traditional commodity industries will benefit in the short term from tariff reductions afforded by the TPP. Innovative high-growth Canadian technology companies trading high-margin products, often cloud-based, will not see competitive benefits from this agreement. TPP will further solidify U.S. hegemony over global technology standard-setting because harmonization entails adopting what the large sophisticated market decides. These standards entrench the profit-making abilities of companies who own the IP embedded in them.

Without national strategies for standards and regulations, and little valuable IP, Canada has not positioned itself to be a standard-setter. That’s why no one can show how new technology standards harmonization in TPP will increase the bottom line of a specific Canadian technology company.

But technology is no longer the sole purview of high-tech entrepreneurs. It permeates all industries and is the only wealth driver in the 21st-century economy. IP rights are the global currency for innovators in all markets to capture and extract value.

This is why companies in traditional sectors are also building IP arsenals. When Canadian farmers buy a tractor from John Deere or consumers buy a car from General Motors, they acquire a restricted licence to use proprietary technology. These new business models strengthen corporate control over their customers. Broader and stronger IP ownership laws create a neo-feudal economic structure where large IP owners have ever more unassailable profit-making positions.

A recent report published by the World Economic Forum states that in fewer than 30 years, possession of intellectual property will be the only competitive advantage for nations and businesses. TPP is an agreement that perfectly reflects this shift in capturing value and allows IP to be used as an asset in its dispute settlement mechanism. A Canadian company has never won an investor-state dispute settlement case under NAFTA. Under TPP, our government has the additional disadvantage of broader IP lawsuits from foreign corporations where tribunal decisions will now be made outside of Canada.

While Canada failed to build capacity in IP, other countries, such as China, Israel and South Korea, came from behind us to steadily build theirs. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, China is now the world’s biggest patent filer, with the Chinese filing more than 700,000 patents in 2014 alone, outpacing Canada 150-fold. With this aggressive strategy, China will eventually have enough IP to drive its own prosperity by exporting higher valued-added goods and transforming into a higher-wage economy.

Should China join TPP in the future, it will be well equipped to compete with the United States and Japan and – unlike Canada – thrive under the deal. All successful innovation economies have strategies similar to China’s. While innovation success is not a simple game of patent volume, Canada’s domestic patent filings must dramatically increase to be on par with filings from similar-sized innovation economies.

What’s more, countries with large IP ownership have far better investment opportunities because high IP regimes create lower investment costs. This creates a virtuous cycle of innovation success, while countries with low IP ownership manifest a constrained and expensive business investment environment. This explains Canada’s low and declining rate of business investment.

Until we create a sophisticated innovation strategy to address our dismal IP ownership and commercialization record, Canada competes globally by lowering both our wages and our dollar. This race to the bottom should alarm us.

While education and immigration strategies in Canada drive improvements in our skills productivity and the potential to trade more professional services, this has no effect on multi-factor productivity – the standard measure of innovation – which reflects the value of our intangible assets. Google and Facebook, opening sales and development offices in our cities, are not drivers of multi-factor productivity for Canada. This is how the world’s leading economies capitalize on exceptionally skilled Canadian workers cheapened by a 70-cent dollar. In the 21st-century global economy, cheap branch-plant engineering talent is what factory workers in manufacturing branch plants were in colonial times.

Free trade unicorns, rainbows and sunny ways

In a more recent State of the Union address, Mr. Obama said: “We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow.”

Because of our failed policies, Canadians are betting our future prosperity on Japan gorging on our beef and America on our linseed and canola. That’s more than an outdated prosperity strategy – that’s hoping for a miracle. The only way to advance Canadian prosperity is to close our systemically widening productivity gap by increasing our high-margin exports.

Few people believe as much as I do in the ability of Canadian entrepreneurs to punch above their weight globally. But it’s highly unlikely that they will use the time before TPP is ratified to furiously acquire valuable IP and create huge innovation businesses so that our economy can benefit from the strong incumbent IP protections in the deal.

Our innovation output deficit is the result of decades of outdated and incomplete public policies that put Canada at a disadvantage for 21st-century economic prosperity. Canada failed to build the needed competitive capacity to succeed under TPP. We are signing up future generations to an economic framework that indefinitely locks in our self-imposed competitive disadvantages.

If Canada wants to be a prosperous innovation nation, we urgently need new and effective strategies. Our current government did not create this crisis or TPP. But it’s now this government’s responsibility to acknowledge our structural disadvantages and craft radically different approaches that put Canada on a path to prosperity.

February 2, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events were missed in the big list sent yesterday:
This week:
Thursday, February 4th, 7PM:
Inaugural Don Mazer Arts and Science Lecture,
“Humble Autonomy: Renewing Culture through Participatory Water Ethics,” with Dr. Rita Wong
UPEI, McDougall Hall ("Business Building"), Room 242 ("MacKinnon Lecture Theatre)
            Water is a precious necessity that shapes and sustains our lives, yet current and potential watershed problems are a serious challenge both on PEI and globally. The Island is the only Canadian province to rely solely on groundwater for drinking water, and to ensure the continual sustainability and potability of our water, province-wide hearings are currently being held for the Water Act.
    In a timely visit to PEI, Dr. Rita Wong -- professor at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, watershed researcher/activist, poet, and multi-media artist -- will give a presentation on February 4 at 7:00 p.m. in UPEI’s McDougall Hall Auditorium, Room 242.

    Dr. Wong’s talk, entitled “Humble Autonomy: Renewing Culture through Participatory Water Ethics,” will be the inaugural UPEI Don Mazer Arts and Science Lecture and is presented by the faculties of Science and Arts. Her talk will focus on Vancouver, with ample time afterward for the audience to discuss parallels with PEI. A reception with refreshments will follow.
       
In addition to research presentations on watershed issues, Dr. Wong, who is remarkably passionate about the issues she investigates, uses poetry -- her primary art form -- to reflect on human relations with water. Her poetry book Undercurrent reminds humanity that “we are water bodies” and that we need to honour this reality.
    UPEI is honoured, as well, to be hosting Dr. Wong on February 5th at 7:30 p.m. for a public reading of her poetry, in the Dawson Lounge (Room 520) in Main Building. This reading is sponsored by the UPEI faculties of Arts and Sciences, with funding from the Canada Council for the Arts          .
Rita Wong grew up in Calgary. Living and working in Vancouver, she became interested in water ethics because of the surprising lack of above-ground streams.
    In the earlier part of her career, she was known for her work in Asian Canadian studies and her inter-disciplinary research and multi-media art. For this work, Wong received a major research-creation grant from the Social Sciences and Humanity Research Council of Canada, and once she shifted focus to water issues, she received another SSHRC research-creation grant.
    She has won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Asian Canadian Writer’s Workshop Emerging Writer Award, and is renowned for examining relationships among contemporary poetics, social justice, ecology, and decolonization.
    Dr. Wong’s water talk and poetry reading come at a vital time for development of PEI’s understanding of water ethics and sustainability. As many Islanders work to modernize our water laws, those who want to gain new perspectives on water’s value will have the opportunity to listen to one of Canada’s important inter-disciplinary investigators of participatory water ethics and watershed issues.
---------------------------------
Also, the same day is the Charlottetown
February 4th, 1-4PM and 7-10PM
"Inspired City Meet and Speak" -- public input for the City of Charlottetown Integrated Community Sustainability Plan
Delta Prince Edward Hotel
details here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1711047819131440/
and
http://city.charlottetown.pe.ca/inspiredcity.php


Saturday, February 6th:
Winter Woodlot Tour new date, 9AM to 1PM

Details here


Monday, February 29th:
LEAP Day event, evening
Winter Social and some inspiring short talks, details and location to be announced. Please save the date.


MLA Brad Trivers (District 18: Rustico-Emerald) is also a musician, and created a parody song (to Stan Rogers "Mary Ellen Carter") about the woes of the new Stanley Bridge roundabout.  :-)  A bit of a recording of a performance of the song is included in this article:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-stanley-bridge-roundabout-1.3428481


Besides the start of the caucus/primary season in the United States, you may have heard about lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan.  Michael Moore, critical and critically-acclaimed documentary maker, has some facts on his blog here:
http://michaelmoore.com/10FactsOnFlint/

February 1, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here are some events happening in February.  The calendar on the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. website is a good reminder, too.
http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/events
Most coloured text is copied from the organization's media release.  All mistakes are mine.

This Week:
Wednesday, February 3rd, 6:30PM:
PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation meeting,
Murphy Centre.  All welcome but pre-registration requested.
The PEI Proportional Representation  (PR) Reference Group (aka organizing committee) is organizing a
General meeting of the PR Coalition and associates/supporters
Wednesday, February 3, 2016, at 6:30 PM (storm date Thursday, February 4 same time)
at Murphy's Community Centre, 100 Richmond St., Charlottetown
On the agenda
-    Contents and intent of the interim report to the Legislature by the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal (Nov. 27, 2015)
-    An action plan for the PR Coalition
Pre-registration suggested.  To pre-register: email cooperinstitute@eastlink.ca or phone 902-894-4573


Next Week:
Tuesday, February 9th, 6:30-8:30PM
ECOPEI AGM
, Beaconsfield Carriage House, corner of Kent Street and West Street in Charlottetown, all welcome.

With a new federal government in place that seems to have much more of an interest and commitment to environmental issues than we have seen in a decade, it is a good time to look to the future and celebrate our victories. It is in this spirit that the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island is inviting the public to its upcoming Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Carriage House at Beaconsfield, located at the corner of Kent St. and West St. in Charlottetown. A short business meeting starts the evening, including election of the 2016 Board of Directors.

At 7pm there will be an informative and entertaining panel on Young Islanders in Action - Environmental Activism and Careers. The five panelists and their topics will be:

Mitchell Crouse, presenting on his research in the field of horticultural therapy, which uses a connection with nature and gardening as a means of providing psychological and emotional fulfillment.

Lilly Hickox, sharing on behalf of Save Our Seas and Shores PEI (SOSS PEI), the Island chapter of an organization that advocates for the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil exploration and development, among other pressures facing the Gulf.

Nic Cahill, a graduate of Holland College's energy program, will share about his work with the City of Charlottetown and its energy efficiency program.

Adam MacLean, presenting on Eco-social Entrepreneurship: Making a Living while Making Change. Entrepreneurship grounded in an ecological worldview can be a potent force for positive change. Adam will share some of his own perspectives, strategies and tools.

Jenn Whitaker, speaking on behalf of the Start with a Seedling program, a monthly education program founded by UPEI Professor Lyndsay Moffatt. At Prince Street School in Charlottetown, kindergarteners are paired with both young and more senior volunteer "garden buddies" to learn about food and food issues.

After the panelists talk about their experiences and goals, there will be a discussion with lots of time for questions and ideas from the audience.

The AGM is a great way to learn more about ECOPEI and the activities the organization is involved in.  For more information, visit the ECOPEI website (ecopei.ca), Facebook page, or call 902-651-2575. The alternative ‘weather date’ for the event is Feb. 16.

Admission is free and all are welcome.

------------------
Also that night (February 9th):
Electoral Reform Meeting#1, Charlottetown: Murphy Centre (first), 7PM.

The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island is starting its next phase of consultations, which will focus on the plebiscite question. There will be a series of community forums starting on February 9th and concluding on March 1st dedicated to this topic:

Feb. 9 (7 pm) Murphy's Commmunity Centre in Charlottetown; Feb. 11 (7 pm) Morell Regional High School in Morell; Feb. 23 (7 pm) Central Queens United Church in Hunter River; Feb. 25 (7 pm) Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 6 in Tignish; Feb. 27 (2 pm) Loyalist Lakeview Resort in Summerside; and March 1 (7 pm) Murphy's Community Centre in Charlottetown.

The format will be engaging, and will feature discussions among those in attendance and an exchange of ideas. A video with some information on various electoral system options will be shown to start the conversation. 

You will see advertisements in this Saturday's Guardian and Journal Pioneer newspapers; and next Wednesday's editions of La voix acadienne, West Prince Graphic and Eastern Graphic. <snip>

The Special Committee hopes that you will be able to join them at one of the upcoming meetings. There is no need to register. All are welcome!


Thursday, February 11, 7PM
Electoral Reform Meeting#2, Morell, Regional High School
(same format as above)


Saturday, February 20th, 2-4PM
Seed Swap, Confederation Centre Public Library


Sunday, February 21st, 2-5PM
Seed Swap and Sale at the Farm Centre,
workshops, too.


Tuesday, February 23rd, 7PM
Electoral Reform Meeting#3, Hunter River , Central Queens United Church
(same format as above)


Thursday, February 25th, 7PM
Electoral Reform Meeting#4, Tignish, Royal Canadian Legion
(same format as above)

Also that night:
Symposium, "The Geography of Local Governance", 7PM, UPEI, Room 242, McDougall Hall, free
presented by the Institute of Island Studies

The Geography of Local Governance

The topic of local governance will be the focal point of an upcoming Public Symposium, “The Geography of Governance,” to be sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services.  The date is Thursday, February 25, at UPEI’s MacKinnon Lecture Theatre, Room 242, Don and Marion McDougall Hall, beginning at 7 p.m.  

The reform of local government on the Island has been much discussed in recent years, especially since the release of the 2009 Thompson Report of the Commission on Land and Local Governance. At that time, the Island had 75 incorporated municipalities – many of them with just a few hundred people – and 70% of the province’s territory had no local government at all.  The situation remains much the same today.

Judge Thompson recommended that local government be extended to cover the entire Island, and that the units be large enough to be effective and sustainable – that is, with a population of at least 4,000 each. The present Island Government seems intent on moving in the direction of reform, and some communities have initiated discussions with their neighbours about joining together to form larger governance units.

If we assume that larger municipal units are a good thing, and all of the Island should be included, then the question arises about the criteria to be used in deciding on new boundaries. Should cultural factors be paramount?
Or traditional association?  Or geographical factors?  Or environmental management – such as including a whole watershed within a municipality? Or some combination of these – and others?

The Symposium’s principal speaker will be Diane Griffin, noted Island environmentalist, Stratford Town Councillor, and Vice President of the Federation of PEI Municipalities. She will be joined by a panel of individuals representing various points of view.

Members of the public are cordially invited to attend. Admission is free. Following the presentations, there will be ample time for discussion and questions from the floor.


The last two Electoral Reform meetings are Saturday, February 27th at 2PM in Summerside (#5) and Tuesday, March 1st, 7PM, Murphy Centre in Charlottetown (#6)


There are more, and we'll share another time.
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