CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

January 2021


  1. 1 January 31, 2021
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 1.2 TRISH ALTASS: Can I speak to the manager? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Trish Altass
  2. 2 January 30, 2021
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 2.2 Organic farmers in P.E.I. receive agriculture award - The Guardian article
    3. 2.3 GUEST OPINION: Questions surround water issues - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Carol Carragher
  3. 3 January 29, 2021
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 3.2 The GameStop saga has some sports links - The Buzzer, CBC Sports Daily newsletter article by Jesse Campigotto
  4. 4 January 28, 2021
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  5. 5 January 27, 2021
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  6. 6 January 26, 2021
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 6.2 WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR MLAS? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 6.3 Offshore Wind Power Is Ready to Boom. Here’s What That Means for Wildlife - The Revelator article by Tara Lohan
  7. 7 January 25, 2021
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  8. 8 January 24, 2021
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 8.2 LETTER: Mayor and council needs to rethink Simmons Sport Centre - The Guardian Guest opinion by Mike Redmond
  9. 9 January 23, 2021
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 9.2 SYLVAIN CHARLEBOIS: Eating your veggies for sake of immunity - The Guardian
  10. 10 January 22, 2021
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 10.2 A million young people urge governments to prioritise climate crisis
    3. 10.3 Todd MacLean hosts Rainforest Lounge - The Guardian article
  11. 11 January 21, 2021
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 11.2 Pipeline on the Line - Morning Brew
  12. 12 January 20, 2021
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 12.2 LETTER: Stop deforestation in P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 12.3 Atlantic Skies for January 18th - January 24th, 2021 - by Glenn K. Roberts
  13. 13 January 19, 2021
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  14. 14 January 18, 2021
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 14.2 RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE EXAMINED - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  15. 15 January 17, 2021
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 15.2 Reasons for Hope on Climate Change in 2021 - Yes! Solutions Journalism Magazine article by Matthew Hoffman
  16. 16 January 16, 2021
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 16.2 The U. S. Crisis Shows the Need to Speak Truth to Power - David Suzuki Foundation article by David Suzuki with contributions from Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington
  17. 17 January 15, 2021
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 17.2 Still calling for solutions beyond the market - The Guardian article by Aimee Power and Michelle Mahoney
  18. 18 January 14, 2021
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 18.2 GUEST OPINION: Questions surround water issues - The Guardian Guest opinion by Carol Carragher
    3. 18.3 GUEST OPINION: Disappointed and bewildered by P.E.I. budget - The Guardian Guest opinion by Wayne Carver
  19. 19 January 13, 2021
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 19.2 Woolly bear weighs in on winter weather - Saltwire column by Cindy Day, Saltwire meteorologist
  20. 20 January 12, 2021
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 20.2 Deadline: Wednesday, March 31st, 2021: Public consultation on Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site - The Guardian
  21. 21 January 11, 2021
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 21.2 SUPPORT THE FAMILY FARM - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 21.3 Atlantic Skies for January 11th - January 17th, 2021 - by Glenn K. Roberts
  22. 22 January 10, 2021
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 22.2 P.E.I. man hopes his new project inspires people to 'change their tune' on issues like climate change - CBC online post by Sara Fraser
  23. 23 January 9, 2021
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 23.2 Take two hikes and call me in the morning - The National Observer article by Zack Metcalfe
  24. 24 January 8, 2021
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 24.2 How to save the world in 6 books: top climate leaders share their 2020 reads: Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Katharine Hayhoe, Seth Klein choose books that offer hope for the planet - CBC online post by Jennifer Van Evra
  25. 25 January 7, 2021
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 25.2 GUEST OPINION: Support farmers, protect water, proclaim the Water Act - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Andrew Lush 
  26. 26 January 6, 2021
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 26.2 P.E.I. Greens rotate legislative roles - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby
    3. 26.3 Neighbourhood organizing as city looks at demolition of Simmons arena - CBC News online post
    4. 26.4 It’s Tuesday, January 5, and Biden’s lofty climate plans have gotten an unexpected financial boost - The Beacon online post by Cameron Oglesby
  27. 27 January 5, 2021
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 27.2 The Season of Hot Air - Opinion piece by Ole Hammarlund, MLA for D13:Charlottetown-Brighton:
  28. 28 January 4, 2021
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 28.2 Atlantic Skies for January 4th - January 10th, 2021 - by Glenn K. Roberts
    3. 28.3 Waste not, wontons: innovator recycled 32m restaurant chopsticks - The Guardian (U.K.) article by Ashifa Kassam
  29. 29 January 3, 2021
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  30. 30 January 2, 2021
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 30.2 These Conservation Stories Prove 2020 was not All Bad News - Smithsonian Magazine online article by Cat Kutz
  31. 31 January 1, 2021
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews

January 31, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."       
      --- Alan Watts (1915-1978), British writer

In case you want to see what's been posted this week:

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

And here is a blurry view of the new Legislative Assembly sitting schedule for 2021, but you can see the full one at either the website or the Facebook page:

The yellow days are planning days, usually the week before three weeks of sitting (green-coloured days), with purple being holidays.  Mondays will not be sitting days (as they are not now), and the hours of sitting on the green days will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be 1-5PM, with 10AM-2PM on Fridays.

And what some MLAs are writing about:

TRISH ALTASS: Can I speak to the manager? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Trish Altass

Published on Friday, January 29th, 2021

Premier King, end of 2020: Mental health will be a big priority in 2021.

Premier King, start of 2021: As our first order of business, we are closing the psychiatric urgent care clinic (PUCC) at Hillsborough Hospital.

Have you ever called customer service and had to ask for a manager? It’s usually after you’ve done your best to communicate your issue with whoever answered the call, but then you realize they did not have the authority — or perhaps the will — to do what was necessary to help. So, you ask to speak to a manager. A manager has more authority and ultimately can make the decisions.

I am starting to feel that way when it comes to working to improve mental health and addictions services on P.E.I. I have worked tirelessly over the past two years to engage with the minister of health on this topic. After the last election, based on the minister's and the premier’s promises, Islanders believed the much needed new mental health campus would be up and running. But here we are, two years later, and all we’re left with are broken promises.

I have met some incredible advocates over the past year that have also realized this government is not doing what they promised for mental health and addictions. They too have been reaching out to the Minister of Health regularly with little to no success.

Can I speak to your manager?

It has been almost two years. I am done waiting to see progress from the minister on this. I want to speak to his manager.

The premier knew this was one of the top issues for Islanders before the election. He ran on a platform promise to fix it. He told great, hope-filled stories of the bright future mental health services would have under his leadership. He chose the minister of health to make those stories a reality.

Premier, the reality is our mental health care is not getting better. It is getting worse!

A few recent examples that show mental health and addictions is not a priority for this government: The complete closure of Unit 9 and continued failure to prioritize its full reopening; The careless closure of a culvert without providing options or supports, leaving many struggling with homelessness and addictions out in the cold; Increasing wait-times for detox and other addictions services; Cabinet approval of ALC online gambling without public consultation or consideration of those struggling with gambling addiction; And most recently, the decision to permanently close the award-winning PUCC at Hillsborough Hospital, putting additional pressure on the QEH ER that is already overburdened and simply ill-suited to support those facing a mental health crisis.

The buck stops with the premier 

Ultimately, Premier King, you are in charge. You’ve said on the floor of the legislature, “If fixing these important issues were just about money, I’d have them fixed this morning.” You are right, money alone will not solve this issue. However, that is no reason to underfund these services. And there is no excuse for your inaction.

Premier, mental health and addictions is a crisis on P.E.I. Every week our office hears from individuals and families who are struggling. I know you and your ministers do too.

You told Islanders a beautiful and hopeful story about what mental health treatment would look like under your leadership. But we need more than stories now. It is time for you to step up and step in. The buck stops with you.

Trish Altass is the MLA for District 23, Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke and Official Opposition critic for health and wellness.


Many of us feel getting people in place right now, and getting Island-institutions training people for this kind of work in the coming years, are things that can be done while the "bricks and mortar" aspect is being worked on, of course.  People need support, and that can come from "low-carbon" jobs of therapist and counselors and psychologists for people helping people face-to-face.  But that means meaningful jobs for Islanders, and that does not come as cheaply as online programs, or just focusing on hiring a few psychiatrists.
Trish Altass willl be hosting an "Outside the Rails" webinar public meeting on Thursday, February 11th, 7PM, via Zoom, focussing on legislation she is promoting regarding "Improving Accountability at the top of HealthPEI", and I am sure related topics.

Facebook event details

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

A double-bill of the brilliant Serbian baritone Zeljko Lucic, as the revengeful and the pitiful jester of a modern nightclub's privileged set, whose daughter gets snared in their games; and then as the ambitious Scottish nobleman in plotting murder with the powerful encouragement of Lady MacBeth, and it all goes wrong.  Each short (but intense!) at about 2 and a half hours.

Verdi’s Rigoletto, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Diana Damrau, Oksana Volkova, Piotr Beczała, Željko Lučić, and Štefan Kocán, conducted by Michele Mariotti. From February 16, 2013.

Verdi’s Macbeth, 7:30PM tonight until Monday about 6:30PM
Starring Maria Guleghina, Dimitri Pittas, Željko Lučić, and John Relyea. From January 12, 2008.  

January 30, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

Heart Beet Organics Farmacy and Fermentary, store and order pickup 9AM-1PM, store with many fresh vegetables and ferments; and restaurant open until 6PM

Winterdine: A Toast to Winter, special Island dining festival, happening these next few weeks -  participating restaurants and details here:

Next Saturday is the Winter Woodlot Tour:
details here:


Congrats to Sally and Mark!

Organic farmers in P.E.I. receive agriculture award - The Guardian article

Published on Saturday, January 30th, 2021

Barnyard Organics is the 2021 recipient of the Gilbert R. Clements Award for Excellence in Environmental Farm Planning.

Mark and Sally Bernard received the award virtually on Jan. 29 at the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture’s annual meeting.

This award, named after the late environment minister, is given annually to a farm which is economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible in the production and/or marketing of highquality food from a sustainable system.

Barnyard Organics is a certified organic farm where the vision for a self-sustaining and environmentally sustainable farm continues to be the goal. It is a diversified, family friendly farm with the love of the soil, placing a priority on organic integrity from seed to feed, and keeping products fair and accessible to the regional community.

Having started as a traditional mixed farm, a previous generation switched to dairy, then potatoes. The current generation aims to bring the farm back to its original state as a self-sustaining mixed farm, using traditional methods combined with many efficient modern production technologies.

The Bernards are strong proponents of soil health and have been involved in many onfarm research projects, investigating methods to improve the overall health and productivity of their soils. They both recognize the fundamental role and importance of healthy soils for the overall success and sustainability of their farm.

They produce their own compost using livestock manure from a neighbouring farm as the main feedstock and understand the importance of returning this source of carbon back to the land. They are adapting their crop and land management practices to incorporate more regenerative approaches and plan to introduce livestock grazing into their current production system.

The couple is heavily involved in the industry outside their farm. Sally is a former chairwoman of the Atlantic Canada Organic Regional Network as well as a current member of the National Organic Value Roundtable. Mark has served as an industry advisor with the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, and both are heavily involved in 4-H.

In 2012, Mark and Sally were recipients of the Atlantic Outstanding Young Farmers Award. The farm received the P.E.I. Soil & Crop Improvement Association Soil Conservationist of the Year Award in 2018.

Barnyard Organics has hosted multiple farm tours inviting local and regional visitors as well as tours from the U.S. and national conference participants.


GUEST OPINION: Questions surround water issues - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Carol Carragher

Published on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

In response to Andrea McKenna’s letter (Sustainable farming needs consistent water availability, Dec. 22). I respectfully state I am very grateful to the Island family farmers who work hard to produce our food. For many it is a way of life and passion passed on from generation to generation. However, I am not appreciative of this recent campaign by some individual farmers, and the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, claiming farmers are being unfairly denied access to irrigation water for growing our food. You say food, but perhaps potatoes might have been a more truthful word. And still more transparent might have been potatoes for processing into french fries, which have a questionable food value.

Just how are farmers being denied water? It appears holding ponds (pumping 24-7) are miraculously appearing site after site, obviously with the blessing of the government. Water is drawn from Island rivers and ponds, and then there are those grandfathered deep-water wells. Thus, some farmers have ably found their ways around the moratorium on deep-water wells. So, what is it that the public is missing regarding farmers’ (and please don’t lump all farmers together) ask for water? 

You write that there is a possibility of Island family farms (of which you claim 98 are family owned and operated) being lost due to increased demands. I ask the question, are those demands being put on family farms by large processing corporations filling a certain market such as french fries? You suggest if these family farms fall to the wayside, we need to fear corporate and foreign investors buying up Island land. I am sure you are well aware it is already happening while our government sits on the sidelines. Thus if “not many Island producers are in a financial position to invest in expansion” who are the producers financially in the position to invest in irrigation systems? Is it the large corporations you refer to buying up the land and forcing family farms out of business? I find it difficult to believe the average farmer wants to, or can afford to, invest thousands of dollars into irrigation systems when they are already facing tight margins.

Therefore, is it really family farms looking for more access to water or large corporations? If I remember correctly there was no answer to the question, how many farmers are asking for irrigation, when it was asked in the fall sitting of the legislature. It seemed not even the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture or the P.E.I. Potato Board could answer. I believe the answer is not yet available.   

As an Islander, I feel I am not being given the true facts in this water campaign, and that the majority of farmers are perhaps not being truly portrayed or represented. That is unfortunate.

Carol Carragher is a member of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Lands who lives in Cumberland.


Metropolitan Opera Saturday Afternoon at the Opera Radio Broadcast (archived productions):

In case you missed it in video this week!

Gounod’s Faust, 2PM, CBC RadioMusic 104.7
Performance from December 10, 2011
Yannick Nézet-Séguin; Marina Poplavskaya (Marguerite), Michèle Losier (Siebel), Jonas Kaufmann (Faust), Russell Braun (Valentin), René Pape (Méphistophélès)  

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Anja Kampe, Mihoko Fujimura, Sergey Skorokhodov, David Portillo, Evgeny Nikitin, and Franz-Josef Selig, conducted by Valery Gergiev.  From March 10, 2020.
Like Wagner's Ring Cycle, it's not quite the original story, but his spin on it, with gorgeous singing and remarkable settings.

Verdi’s Rigoletto, tonight 7:30PM until Sunday 6:30PM
Starring Diana Damrau, Oksana Volkova, Piotr Beczała, Željko Lučić, and Štefan Kocán, conducted by Michele Mariotti. From February 16, 2013.  This is the version set in the "Rat Pack" days of the 1960s, and it really works.

Well, if Thoreau had thought about the pace of technological advancement, he might not have said this that way.....

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.

        --Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American philosopher and naturalist

January 29, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Environmental pollution is an incurable disease.  It can only be prevented.
        --Barry Commoner (1917-2012), American biologist and politician


Fridays4Future, 3:30PM, Province House.  Reminding all that the Climate Crisis is happening and continues to need addressing.  Facebook Group details

Deadline today:
Island Waste Management rate increase -- comments on the increase can be sent to IRAC.
some background:

IRAC page on the rate increase (not very user-friendly), but you can comment on the rate increase and
perhaps IWMC vital role in being able to provide waste disposal services to Islanders without undue costs and difficulties as we all work towards producing less waste....

Next week:
Monday, February 1st:

Webinar by the multitalented Brad Walters at Mount Allison University:
The Energy Transition is Here (presented by Dr. Brad Walters), 7PM, Zoom online
 Zoom registration link

A lot going on in Tantramar, NS!  Here is the whole list for Climate Change Week to take a peek:
Submission Deadline:
Friday, February 5th (next week)

Charlottetown Budget Consultation:
Let us know what’s important to you! We’re looking for ideas and suggestions for our 2021-22 capital and operational budgets.

Now is your chance to weigh in! Fill out our online form by visiting:

Banking on our Kids' Future -- Actions *today* suggested by the Fridays4Future Group:

Capitalism Part 2:
Completely unrelated to most Citizens' Alliance topics, but it walks one through what's going on in the stock market recently with a sports angle:

The GameStop saga has some sports links - The Buzzer, CBC Sports Daily newsletter article by Jesse Campigotto

Published on Thursday, January 28th, 2021

In case you’re foggy about the hottest story on the internet at the moment, here’s a quick explainer:

GameStop is a retail chain that sells video games and related equipment. Like a lot of brick-and-mortar outfits, the company has been losing money for years. Betting that its downward spiral would continue in a pandemic, some traders
shorted GameStop stock. That’s when you borrow stock from a broker, sell it right away and hope for its price to fall. That way, you can buy it back for a lower price, return the shares you borrowed and pocket the difference. Pretty standard stuff on Wall Street.

Until, that is, a bunch of amateur traders who congregate on the popular Reddit forum r/WallStreetBets noticed that some big-time hedge funds had shorted billions worth of GameStop stock and decided to stick it to them. They did this by buying (and encouraging each other to accumulate even more) GameStop stock and/or options, causing the share price to go up (and up and up). They also weaponized social media by shaming (even harassing) establishment types who suggested publicly that the stock was dangerously overinflated and people should sell.

This army of small-time traders gobbling up GME stock (and refusing to sell it) created a nightmare for anyone with a big short position. Faced with theoretically unlimited losses if they didn’t act, the short-sellers had little choice but to buy the dwindling supply of available shares at inflated prices so they could pay back the shares they’d borrowed and stop the bleeding. These purchases, of course, caused the stock’s value to rise even higher and faster.

How high and fast? Well, back in the summer, a share of GME was trading for about four bucks US. A few weeks ago it was up to around $20. Two days ago, it became the most-traded stock in the United States. This morning, it peaked at almost $470 before finally (and inevitably) tumbling. Bottom line: those savvy amateurs made out like bandits at the expense of the deep-pocketed shorters who do this for a (very nice) living. The Joes beat the pros.

Some of the hedge-fund types that lost a boatload are now complaining that it’s wrong for a band of renegades on the internet to be able to manipulate stock prices like this. They’re warning of a dangerous rise in “meme stocks” after buying stakes in dying companies became a craze over the last few days. Shares in the pandemic-ruined AMC movie theatre chain quadrupled yesterday before coming back to earth. People were rushing to buy Blackberry!

But others (including the renegades themselves) are hailing the r/WallStreetBets traders as anti-establishment heroes — little guys beating the big guys at their own game. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who still fancies himself a disruptor, and Golden State Warriors minority stakeholder Chamath Palihapitiya cheered them on via Twitter.

At least two other sports owners are directly involved in the GameStop mayhem — and, unfortunately for them, not on the right side.

Gabe Plotkin is one of the two New York-based investors who bought a sizable piece of the Charlotte Hornets from majority owner Michael Jordan in 2019. He’s also the founder and Chief Investment Officer of Melvin Capital — the hedge fund that took perhaps the biggest hit on GameStop. To stay on its feet, Melvin took a $2.75-billion bailout from two other hedge funds. A reported $750 million of that came from the fund owned by Plotkin’s old boss, Steven Cohen, who's the new owner of the New York Mets. Cohen’s Point72 is reportedly down 15 per cent this year, partly due to its positions in GameStop.

Mets fans are understandably scarred by their experiences with the team’s previous owners, the Wilpon family, who initially profited from and then got burned by Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Now some are worried that Cohen’s involvement in the GameStop bloodbath might cause him to renege on his promise to reverse the Mets’ penny-pinching ways. But they can relax. With an estimated worth of more than $14 billion, Cohen is three times richer than the next-wealthiest Major League Baseball owner.

If you want a more in-depth explainer on the GameStop saga and what comes next, by someone who actually covers business,
check out this piece by CBC News’ Pete Evans.

And sporting-around aside, updates from The Guardian (U.K.), this morning:

Follow-up on can provincial legislative Standing Committees continue to operate if the Legislature is prorogued until February 25th?  Yes, with thanks from the Official Opposition for passing on the information from Clerk Joey Jeffrey:

Back in 2016 the Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges recommended a change to Rule 89 so that committees live for the life of the Assembly and are unaffected by prorogation. Their report was adopted by the House. This includes Special Committees as was the case with the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal. It was struck by motion 33 during the first session but it's final report was during the second session.  Further Rule 111 states that Committees are only dissolved by dissolution.

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Verdi’s Falstaff, today until 6:30PM
Starring Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Paolo Fanale, Ambrogio Maestri, and Franco Vassallo. From December 14, 2013.  Silly, fun, a Shakespeare story moved to the 1950s.

Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer, 7:30PM tonight until 6:30PM Saturday
Starring Anja Kampe (and) Evgeny Nikitin, conducted by Valery Gergiev.
From March 10, 2020.  This makes The Flying Dutchman seem even more ghostly:
"In March 2020, the Met made the difficult choice to cancel the remainder of the 2019–20 season in an effort to keep audiences, performers, and staff members safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision also meant ending the Live in HD season early, only days before a scheduled transmission of François Girard’s stirring new production of Der Fliegende Holländer. Fortunately, as part of regular preparations for an HD broadcast, a prior performance of the opera was recorded as a camera rehearsal. In this high-definition 'scratch taping,' celebrated conductor Valery Gergiev is on the podium for Wagner’s breakout operatic masterpiece, an eerie ghost story about the otherworldly Flying Dutchman..." 
AND, at a mere 2 hours 20 minutes, it's Wagner on a more manageable scale.  Plus, the lighting and sets make it look like you are in an oil painting.

January 28, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

January 27, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

EatlocalPEI, order deadline midnight tonight.

Winterdine: A Toast to Winter dining event, is in Week 2, details here:

Standing Committee meeting today:
Health and Social Development Committee, 1:30PM,

Topic: Safe consumption/injection sites

The committee will meet to recieve (sic) briefings on safe consumption/injection sites from PEERS Alliance (Program Coordinator, Angele DesRoches and Overdose Prevention Line Coordinator, Arthur Sherren) and Charlottetown City Police (Chief Paul Smith).

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link


Excerpt from the Government media page, later afternoon on Tuesday, January 26th, 2021:

P.E.I. Legislature Prorogues and Speech from the Throne planned:

A new session of the Legislative Assembly will open on (Thursday) February 25, 2021 with a Speech from the Throne.

The spring session of the Legislature will include the 2021-2022 Operating Budget which will be introduced in the days following the Speech from the Throne.   Government also plans to introduce approximately 20 pieces of legislation and will continue the collaborative process of offering briefings on each piece of legislation to Opposition and Third Party members prior to the introduction of each Bill in the Legislative Assembly.

I am no constitutional expert, and wonder if all provincial government business is technically suspended in prorogation (like Standing Committees and Cabinet positions). I am also groaning a little bit in advance at the time some MLAs may spend speaking in the Legislature, commenting at great length about things related and seemingly totally unrelated in their Response to the Speech from the Throne....

Green Party of PEI public check-ins:
Six "Outside the Rails" events

excepted from their media release:

We're pleased to bring you an "Outside the Rails" series this winter, with (six) sessions hosted by (six) different MLAs on the concrete ways they're working to make PEI better within their Critic portfolios this spring. These hour-long, interactive sessions will not only help you understand the individual proposals, but the process by which legislation is made. The MLAs, for their part, are hoping to benefit from participant feedback in order to make their bills even stronger and more impactful.

Please check out the topics below and register individually for any you would like to participate in. All sessions will take place online via Zoom.

Thursday, January 28th,7PM: Karla Bernard
MLA and Education Critic Karla Bernard presents her upcoming draft bills to lower the voting age to 16 and to require education authorities to maintain modern misconduct policies, and seeks participants' feedback.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 7PM: Hannah Bell
Green MLA and Social Development Critic Hannah Bell talks about the legislation she is working on to create a Poverty Elimination Strategy for PEI, and seeks participants' feedback.

Thursday, February 4th, 7PM: Lynne Lund
Green MLA and Environment Critic Lynne Lund presents legislation she is working on to create an Environmental Bill of Rights for PEI. Learn more about what an Environmental Bill of Rights is, and provide your feedback.


Wednesday, February 10th, 7PM: Steve Howard

Green MLA and Energy Critic Steve Howard presents two pieces of draft legislation he is working on to modernize electricity on PEI and pave the way for a renewable future, and invites your feedback.

Thursday, February 11th, 7PM Trish Altass

Green MLA and Health Critic Trish Altass presents two bills she's working on to create an accountability framework between between the Minister of Health and the Health PEI board, and to clarify the available grounds for the disclosure of information to assist family members and community groups who are closely connected to persons receiving care.

Wednesday, February 17th, 7PM: Ole Hammarlund

Green MLA and Net Zero Critic Ole Hammarlund - a green architect by profession - will present the promise and potential of net-zero buildings (buildings that produce the same amount of energy as they use). He will explain why he tabled a motion last year calling on government to require all new provincially-constructed buildings to be net-zero.


from The Guardian (U.K.), today:

screenshot of map illustration of results from United Nations survey, in today's (U.K.) Guardian

So we’re agreed then – The biggest ever opinion poll on climate change has found
two-thirds of people accept it is a “global emergency”. The UN survey gives politicians across the world a clear mandate to take major action. It questioned 1.2 million people in 50 countries, many of them young people, who show the greatest concern: 69% aged 14-18 say there is a climate emergency and 58% of those over 60 agree, suggesting there is not a huge generational divide. Even when climate action requires significant change in a country, majorities still back it. In nations where fossil fuels are a major source of emissions, people strongly support renewable energy, including the US (65% in favour), Australia (76%) and Russia (51%). The highest proportions of people saying there is a climate emergency are in the UK and Italy, both at 81%. Australia was at 72%; the US and Russia at 65%; and India at 59%. Even the lowest proportion, in Moldova, was 50%.


Deadline:  Friday, January 29th:
Applications being accepted for Women’s Secretariat Grants

adapted from the government media release:

Funding from the Province’s Interministerial Secretariat is available to support women and girls in leadership roles, increase their participation in fields like science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and engage boys and men in gender-based violence prevention.

Applications are being accepted for the 2021 Interministerial Women’s Secretariat grant until January 29, 2021. 

The grant is intended to support organizations that:

  • provide direct services and programs for the benefit of women;

  • support projects that enhance awareness, education and social action on women’s legal, health, social and economic equality; and

  • support the capacity of women’s organizations that promote women’s equality through advocacy, research and policy development.

Preference will be made to projects that address one of the three focus themes –engaging men and boys in gender-based violence prevention; women and/or girls in leadership; and women and/or girls in Science, Technology, Engineering + Math (STEM) and the skilled trades.

More info:  

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Rossini’s Le Comte Ory, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato, Susanne Resmark, Juan Diego Flórez, Stéphane Degout, and Michele Pertusi, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From April 9, 2011.

Gounod’s Faust, 7:30PM this evening until 6:30PM Thursday
Starring Marina Poplavskaya, Jonas Kaufmann, and René Pape, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From December 10, 2011.

Think of all the beauty still around you, and be happy.

   -- Anne Frank

January 26, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Election days come and go.  But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent -- a government based on the principles of the economic, social, racial and environmental justice --that struggle continues.
        -- Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator

That quote is from a few years ago, and printed in this newsletter in 2018.
And here's for the the crocheters and knitters:

from TobeyTImeCrochet on Instagram, January 2021

Noon deadline to order form Charlottetown Farmers' Market 2GO, for Thursday delivery/pickup
Standing Committee on Education and Economic Growth, 1:30PM, online.

Topic: Update on the Student Well-being Teams

The committee will meet for a briefing on how the Student Well-being Teams are operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Student Well-being Team Leads Amanda Petrie and Geoff MacDonald will present.

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website
P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

Letter to the Editor

WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR MLAS? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

printed in today's Guardian

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

I have to wonder why our politicians become so immersed in their own importance.

Become too big to respond to concerned citizens and their issues. In today’s provincial government when I send an email to a minister the only response, and I don’t always even get a response, it’s from some minion in his/her department. They always have ready “non” answers right on the tip of their tongues! It’s not their fault, just doing what they are told to do.

I think back to these same politicians during elections. They arrive on your doorstep, smiling and ever so eager to listen to your concerns. They agree with your issues and promise if they are elected, they will do everything in their power to see those things are dealt with. Most of us know that will be the last we will see or hear from them until the next election.

Once in government they do as the oligarchs of the backroom directs. They do what the corporations and big businesses demand. They continue the generous grants to groups like the Murphys, Maritime Bus, lawyers etc. The rich get richer and minimum wage remains in place for so many struggling islanders.

It’s difficult to understand how people who are mostly like ourselves, once elected become so polar opposite. For the most part they are young men and women working and raising a family. Shop where we shop, their children go to the same schools as our children; they attend the same churches, sports events, theatres and they live in the same neighbourhoods.

But mention clear cutting, industrial farming, huge holding ponds, fish kills, PNP, internet gambling or toxic chemical spraying. We are faced with a wall of silence!

I’m not sure where the answer lies, I believe a good place to start would be election reform to a system of proportional representation. Something must change soon or we will be living on an island devoid of trees, water and breathable air.

F. Ben Rodgers, Abram-Village

Lengthy and U.S.-focused, but comprehensive and interesting:

Offshore Wind Power Is Ready to Boom. Here’s What That Means for Wildlife - The Revelator article by Tara Lohan

Climate change threatens many marine species, but some climate solutions pose risks, too. Researchers say offshore wind needs continued study and better regulations.

Published on Firday, January 15th, 2021

A key part of the United States’ clean energy transition has started to take shape, but you may need to squint to see it. About 2,000 wind turbines could be built far offshore, in federal waters off the Atlantic Coast, in the next 10 years. And more are expected.

East Coast states from Maine to North Carolina are working to procure nearly 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035 — a huge leap from the five turbines currently generating 30 megawatts in Rhode Island waters. If a regulatory backlog of projects awaiting approval from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is finally unstuck — as experts hope will happen this year — the buildout of offshore wind will arrive during a crucial decade for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Spinning turbine blades on the watery horizon may be a welcome sight in the fight against climate change, but they still come with potential threats to marine wildlife. Many environmental groups believe the challenges aren’t insurmountable if scientific study can help inform regulatory action and if we can learn — and adapt our practices — as we go.

“We believe that offshore wind can absolutely be developed in an environmentally responsible manner,” says Francine Kershaw, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But that has to be incorporated throughout the whole process — from site assessment through development, construction and operations.”

Threats to Birds

One of the gravest threats facing birds is climate change, according to Audubon, which found that rising temperatures threaten nearly two-thirds of North America’s bird species. That’s why the impending development of offshore wind is a good thing, says Shilo Felton, a field manager in the organization’s Clean Energy Initiative, but it also comes with dangers to birds that need to be better studied and mitigated.

The most obvious risk comes from birds colliding with spinning turbine blades. But offshore wind developments can also displace birds from foraging or roost sites, as well as migratory pathways.

Along the Atlantic Coast four imperiled species are of top concern to conservationists: the endangered piping plover, red knot, roseate tern and black-capped petrel, which is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

“Those four species are of utmost importance to make sure that we understand the impacts,” says Felton. “But beyond that there are many species that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act that could potentially see more impacts from offshore wind.”

Northern gannets, for example, are at risk not just for collision but habitat displacement.

"There's some evidence that they just won’t use areas where turbines are, but that also excludes them from key foraging areas,” says Felton. Researchers are still studying what this may mean for the birds. But a study published in December 2020 conducted at Bass Rock, Scotland —  home to the world’s largest northern gannet colony — found that wind developments could reduce their growth rate, though not enough to cause a population decline.

Other birds, such as great cormorants and European shags, are attracted to wind developments and use the infrastructure to rest while opening up new foraging areas farther from shore.

“There’s plenty of potential for a bird to use a wind farm and still to avoid the turbines themselves,” says Felton.

Birds like pelicans, however, are less versatile in their movements and are at particular risk of collision because of their flight pattern, she says.

But how disruptive or dangerous offshore turbines will be along the East Coast isn’t yet known.

Federal and state agencies, along with nongovernmental organizations, says Felton, have done good research to try to better understand those potential impacts. “But these are all theoretical, because we don’t have a lot of offshore wind yet in the United States.”

Threats to Ocean Life

Birds aren’t the only wildlife of concern. More development in ocean waters could affect a litany of marine species, some of which are already facing other pressures from overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change.

Scientists have found that marine mammals like whales and dolphins could be disturbed by the jarring sounds of construction, especially if pile driving is used to hammer the steel turbine platform into the seafloor.

The noises, though short-lived, could impede communication between animals, divert them from migration routes or cause them to seek less suitable areas for feeding or breeding. Research from Europe found that harbor porpoises, seals and dolphins may avoid development areas during construction. In most, but not all cases, the animals were believed to have returned to the area following construction.

The biggest concern for conservation groups in the United States is the critically endangered North American right whale. There are fewer than 400 remaining, and the species’ habitat overlaps with a number of planned wind development areas along the East Coast.

“Offshore wind is in no way the cause of the challenges the whales face, but it’s going to be another pressure point,” says John Rogers, senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Researchers aren’t sure how right whales will respond to the noise from pile driving.

“But we are concerned, based on what we know about how whales react to other noise sources, that they may avoid [wind development] areas,” says Kershaw.

And if that displacement causes them to miss out on important food resources, it could be dangerous for a species already on the brink.

There are a few other potential threats, too.

Ships associated with the development — more plentiful during construction — also pose a danger. In the past few years cargo ships, fishing boats and other vessels have caused half of all deaths of North Atlantic right whales.

And after construction, the noise from the spinning turbines will be present in the water at low decibels. “We don’t quite know how the great whales will react to those sounds,” says Jeremy Firestone, the director of the Center for Research in Wind at the University of Delaware.

Other marine mammals may also perceive the noise, but at low decibels it’s unlikely to be an impediment, research has found.

And it’s possible that wind development could help some ocean life. Turbine foundations can attract fish and invertebrates for whom hard substrates create habitat complexity — known as the “reef effect,” according to researchers from the University of Rhode Island’s Discovery of Sound in the Sea program. Exclusion of commercial fishing nearby may also help shelter fish and protect marine mammals from entanglements in fishing gear.

Ensuring Safe Development

Despite the potential dangers, researchers have gathered a few best practices to help diminish and possibly eliminate some risks.

When it comes to ship strikes, the easiest thing is to slow boats down, mandating a speed of 10 knots in wind development areas, and using visual and acoustic monitoring for whales.

Adjusting operations to reduce boat trips between the shore and the wind development will also help. A new series of service operating vessels can allow maintenance staff to spent multiple days onsite, says Kershaw, cutting down on boat traffic.

For construction noise concerns, developers can avoid pile driving during times of the year when whales are present. And, depending on the marine environment, developers could use “quiet foundations” that don’t require pile driving. These include gravity-based or suction caisson platforms.

Floating turbines are also used in deep water, where they’re effectively anchored in place — although that poses its own potential danger. “We have concerns that marine debris could potentially become entangled around the mooring cables of the floating arrays and pose a secondarily entanglement risk to some species,” says Felton, who thinks more research should be conducted before those become operational in U.S. waters — a process that’s already underway in Maine, where a demonstration project is being built.

If loud noises are unavoidable during construction, noise-reducing technologies such as bubble curtains can help dampen the sound. And scheduling adjacent projects to conduct similar work at the same time could limit the duration of disturbances.

Once turbines become operational, reducing the amount of light on wind platforms or using flashing lights could help deter some seabirds, NRDC researchers reported. And scientists are exploring using ultrasonic noises and ultraviolet lighting to keep bats away. “Feathering,” or shutting down the turbine blades during key migration times, could also help prevent fatalities.

“We need to make sure that offshore wind is the best steward it can be of the marine ecosystem, because we want and expect it to be a significant part of the clean energy picture in some parts of the country,” says Rogers. “We also have to recognize that we’re going to learn by doing, and that some of these things we’re going to figure out best once we have more turbines in the water.”

That’s why environmental groups say it’s important to establish baseline information on species before projects begin, and then require developers to conduct monitoring during construction and for years after projects are operational.

Employing an “adaptive management framework” will ensure that developers can adjust their management practices as they go when new information becomes available, and that those best practices are incorporated into the requirements for future projects.

Putting Research Into Action

Advancing these conversations at the federal level during the Trump administration, though, has been slow going.

“We didn’t really have any productive discussions with the administration in the last four years,” says Kershaw.

And when it comes to birds, Felton says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s recently completed “draft cumulative environmental impact statement” covering offshore wind developments had a lot of good environmental research, but little focus on birds.

“Part of that comes from the current administration’s interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” she says.

President Trump has been hostile to both wind energy and birds, and finished gutting the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in his administration’s the final days, removing penalties for companies whose operations kill migratory birds.

There’s hope that the Biden administration will take a different approach. But where the federal government has been lacking lately, Kershaw says, they’ve seen states step up.

New York, for example, has established an Environmental Technical Working Group composed of stakeholders to advise on environmentally responsible development of offshore wind.

The group is led by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, but it isn’t limited to the Empire State. It’s regional in focus and includes representatives from wind developers with leases between Massachusetts and North Carolina; state agencies from Massachusetts to Virginia; federal agencies; and science-based environmental NGOs.

New York’s latest solicitation for clean energy projects includes up to 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind and requires developers to contribute at least $10,000 per megawatt for regional monitoring of fisheries and other wildlife.

Environmental groups have also worked directly with developers, including an agreement with Vineyard Wind — an 800-megawatt project off the Massachusetts coast that could be the first utility-scale wind development in federal waters — to help protect North Atlantic right whales.

The agreement includes no pile driving from Jan. 1 to April 30, ceasing activities at other times when whales are visually or acoustically identified in the area, speed restrictions on vessels, and the use of noise reduction technology, such as a bubble curtain during pile driving.

“The developers signed the agreement with us, and then they incorporated, most, if not all of those measures into the federal permitting documents,” says Kershaw. “The developers really did a lot of bottom up work to make sure that they were being very protective of right whales.”

Environmental groups are in talks with other developers on agreements too, but Felton wants to see best practices being mandated at the federal level.

“It’s the sort of a role that should be being played by the federal government, and without that it makes the permitting and regulation process less stable and less transparent,” she says.” And that in turn slows down the build out of projects, which is also bad for birds because it doesn’t help us address and mitigate for climate change.”

Kershaw agrees there’s a lot more work to be done, especially at the federal level, but thinks we’re moving in the right direction.

“I think the work that’s been done so far in the United States has really laid the groundwork for advancing this in the right way and in a way that’s protective of species and the environment,” she says. “At the same time, it’s important that offshore wind does advance quickly. We really need it to help us combat the worst effects of climate change.”


Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Anti-Hero week continues with this tandem bad-boy billing:

Mozart’s Don Giovanni, until 6:30PM today
Starring Hibla Gerzmava, Malin Byström, Serena Malfi, Paul Appleby, Simon Keenlyside, Adam Plachetka, Matthew Rose, and Kwangchul Youn, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From October 22, 2016.  Keenlyside is brilliant in whatever role he takes on, and I am assuming that Mozart's version of Don Juan is no exception.

Rossini’s Le Comte Ory, tonight 7:30PM until Wednesday about 6:30PM
Starring Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato, Susanne Resmark, Juan Diego Flórez, Stéphane Degout, and Michele Pertusi, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From April 9, 2011. Two hours and twenty minutes of bel canto singing and silly antics.

January 25, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Local Food Opportunities:

Charlottetown Farmers' Market 2Go
Order by Tuesday noon for Thursday pickup.

EatLocalPEI --
Order by Wednesday night
for pickup or delivery this weekend

Federal Parliament News

adapted from Capital Dispatch, by CTV's Rachel Aiello  or Sunday, January 25th, 2021

Parliamentarians will be getting back to work in Ottawa (or joining in from home) this week and the political landscape will look different than it did when they adjourned in December in a few important ways.

Most notably, the Governor General is gone, leaving a large vacancy—being filled in in the interim by Chief Justice Richard Wagner—that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will need to formally fill rapidly.

The departure of Julie Payette was not the only notable shakeup in top-level federal ranks over the parliamentary break. While one astronaut lost her job, another got a promotion (Marc Garneau to Foreign Minister).

On Jan. 12 Trudeau shuffled some key cabinet posts, a reassignment in his front bench prompted by long-time Liberal Navdeep Bains' decision to step down as a minister.

<Will this prompt a shuffle of the parliamentary secretary roster as well?>

Keystone XL pipeline was cancelled by the U.S.'s Biden Administration, but Prime Minister Trudeau did get the "first foreign leader call" Friday.

The first matter of business on Monday will be putting in place a new hybrid sitting agreement, because the one prior to the holidays expired at the end of the last sitting.

The agreement allowed MPs to also participate either in person or remotely at committees, and it temporarily allowed remote roll-call voting, set up the electronic tabling of documents, and provided for physical distancing of MPs within the chamber.

While allowing MPs to still participate virtually the way they were able to in 2020, the new deal is expected to have one big change: how MPs vote. The Liberals put forward a proposal to the opposition parties to move ahead with the voting-by-app system that the House of Commons administration has been working on for months....

As it's designed, the app would allow for a nearly instantaneous vote count. It was the Liberals' position that the way votes have been taken so far through a modified Zoom-like platform are taking up considerable time, eating in to time to debate legislation. 

The app has prompted some security concerns and hesitations from those who want to see their MP stand up and be counted, so to speak, rather than be a number in a tally....

Expect that whatever wording comes forward will lean on locking in all-party satisfaction with the remote voting application before it is put to use.

Good to see the discussion about light pollution (and kudos to Phil Ferraro and others who are trying to make the City of Charlottetown understand their poor choices). 

Atlantic Skies for January 25th - January 31st, 2021 - by Glenn K. Roberts

The On-going Issue of Light Pollution

Light pollution is, unfortunately, an ubiquitous by-product of global urban/suburban growth. Defined broadly as an overabundance of or over-illumination by artificial light in the night environment, light pollution presents a number of problems beyond the obvious negative impact it has for astronomers trying to view the night sky. Anyone who lives in an urban or suburban setting knows the effects that surrounding bright light sources have on the ability to see anything more than the Moon and (perhaps) the brightest stars in the night sky. The huge array of bright lights that bedeck almost every street, highway, intersection, adjacent home and/or yard, and commercial or industrial building throughout the surrounding area, often preclude any chance to view the night sky. Hundreds, if not thousands, of bright lights, many of them serving only to advertise a business or product, burn from dusk til dawn, creating a massive dome of light that can be seen from kilometers outside the urban/suburban area. They either wash out the view of the night sky entirely, or significantly diminish what can be seen. While I can appreciate that many of the urban/suburban lights are necessary and desired  to ensure people's safety and security at night, there is much that could be done to reduce the negative impact of light pollution. Though primarily a problem associated with densely populated centers in North America, Europe and Asia, as the world's larger urban/suburban areas expand to become huge, sprawling mega-cities with millions of people, the resulting elevated demand for and use of domestic and commercial lighting will only exacerbate the problem in the future. If you'd like to get an idea of just how pervasive light pollution is around the globe, go to for a photo from space showing urban/suburban nighttime light levels around our's an amazing sight.

In addition to spoiling the view of the night sky for astronomers, light pollution poses potential threats to both human health and the disruption of natural ecosystems. The excessive use of too much light or the wrong type of light can often lead to elevated levels and intensity of headaches in some people, cause sleep deprivation (as people's natural circadian rhythm is disrupted), and increase fatigue, anxiety, moodiness, and medically defined stress. Glare, particularly when reflected from wet surfaces on roadways and sidewalks, resulting from too many competing light sources along the roadways and at intersections, can contribute to increased rates of accidents (both auto and pedestrian), particularly for the elderly, whose night vision is typically less than that of younger people. Excessive light use can also impact overall energy costs, not only for individual homeowners/renters, but also for businesses and industries. Large volumes of lights, particularly inefficient lights, left on all night while serving no purpose, needlessly consume huge amounts of electricity, resulting in higher consumer bills, and an increased demand for energy production.

Finally, something of which, perhaps, most people are not aware, over-illumination at night can have an adverse impact on nocturnal wildlife and natural processes, affecting animal physiology, navigation, reproduction cycles, competitive interactions, and predator-prey relationships, as well as plant reproduction. By disrupting the natural diurnal pattern of light and dark, light pollution can significantly impact how animals and plantlife flourish or decline in a given area.

There are numerous ways to deal with light pollution. The total number of lights could be reduced, or, in many instances, eliminated altogether. Increased use of motion-sensor activated lights could be used, negating the need for lights to remain on all night or for extended periods of time. Likewise, the orientation of light fixtures relative to the ground, building or sky could be altered, so as to direct the light downwards rather than spilling a large portion of light skyward. As well, and perhaps most importantly, the selection and use of certain types of lights would significantly reduce light pollution; LED lights, with a cooler, whiter, more easily directed light, are being used more and more as a replacement for the older sodium lamps typically used in most outdoor settings'

I strongly believe that if more people could actually see the night sky, whether while out walking the dog at night, walking from their car to their front door, or relaxing out on the back porch before going to bed, there would be a greater interest in the night sky. This belief is strengthened by the number of people I have seen at night on the beach in the PEI National Park in the summertime.  I have given many impromptu night sky tours to some of these late-night beach goers, who, being away from the light pollution of the city centers, were blown away at the clear night skies and the amazing things that could be seen just with their naked eyes. One night last summer, I ended up with about 50 people gathered around me in the dark, after I had initially offered to give a night sky tour to a family of four who I overheard wondering what such and such a bright object was in the sky. There is much beauty in the night sky, and much to be seen. If nothing else, standing outside and looking up at the night sky feeds our sense of wonder, imagination, and the miracle of creation, something which I think we could all use a little more of these days.

This upcoming week is not a very good planet-spotting one. Venus and Saturn are both too close to the Sun to be observed. Jupiter is likewise lost from view as it approaches superior conjunction with the Sun on the 28th. Mercury (mag. -0.5, in Capricornus - the Sea Goat) makes a brief appearance around 5:25 p.m., 10 degrees above the southwest horizon as dusk fades, before setting around 6:45 p.m. Mars (mag. +0.5, in Aries - the Ram) becomes visible about 58 degrees above the southern horizon by 5:45 p.m., remaining observable until around 12:25 a.m., when it drops below 10 degrees above the western horizon.

The year's first Full Moon - the Wolf Moon - occurs on the night of Jan. 28th. It was given this name by the indigenous tribes of northern North America because, on such moon-lit, winter nights, the wolves could be heard howling as they hunted through the forests.

In closing, I'd like to clarify something. Any photos, captions and titles that accompany my articles in the (your) local newspaper are not chosen by me, nor am I consulted about them. It is up to the newspaper editor/staff to select  which, if any, photos (from online Stock files), captions, titles, etc they might wish to use. As a number of you have alerted me, there have been a number of errors with respect to photos and accompanying captions attached to my two last columns. I have contacted the publisher and asked that an acknowledgement of these errors be noted and a notice to that effect  be published in next week's papers. Obviously, you, my readers, are more knowledgeable than the newspapers! Thank you for your understanding and your emails....and for pointing out any errors I make. :-)

 Until this week, clear skies.


 Jan.28 - Full (Wolf) Moon


The last paragraph does not apply to the Citizens' Alliance News, as I am grateful just to share Glenn's words and see no need to embellish them with stock photos!

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Wagner’s Die Walküre, today until 6:30PM

Starring Deborah Voigt, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Stephanie Blythe, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel, and Hans-Peter König.   From May 14, 2011.  Such an excellent cast!!

"Anti-Hero Week" of free video performances starts with a bang with:

Mozart’s Don Giovanni, 7:30PM Monday night until Tuesday about 6:30PM

Starring Hibla Gerzmava, Malin Byström, Serena Malfi, Paul Appleby, Simon Keenlyside, Adam Plachetka, Matthew Rose, and Kwangchul Youn, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From October 22, 2016.

January 24, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Remember that you can still comment on the provincial budget which is being worked on now, and will be tabled in the Spring 2021 sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature.  Mr. Spencer Lee, who is collected the input, has requested people send them to him before the start of work Monday morning.

One citizen-group that has done the work for over a decade to bring registered midwives services to the Island is the B.O.R.N. group, and like so many Island groups advocating for positive change, they are a small group of dedicated volunteers (with a lot of other responsibilities in their lives), and have been promised various things, or tasked with pretty onerous challenges, since before Doug Currie was provincial health minister.

Anyway, here is what they asked yesterday:

In 2019, the PEI government told Islanders they could expect Registered Midwives to be practising in PEI in 2020. Thus far in 2021, we remain the only Canadian province without this essential service.

Please participate in asking the government to include adequate funding for a Funded Registered Midwifery practise in their 2021-2022 Operating Budget.

This public input, as part of the pre-budget consultations, needs to be submitted by Monday to Spencer Lee at Please 'cc' your MLA ( and the Health Minister on your email.

(Hon James Aylward

Thank you for your support!



LETTER: Mayor and council needs to rethink Simmons Sport Centre - The Guardian Guest opinion by Mike Redmond

Published on Friday, January 15th, 2021

I read, as I am sure many people who frequently use the rink, pool and fields around Simmons Sport Centre, with considerable disbelief at the City of Charlottetown’s mayor and council proposed decommissioning of Simmons Sport Centre and the proposed construction of a third ice pad at the Bell Aliant Centre.

There are several issues with your statements Mr. Mayor, firstly the Simmons Sport Centre and the Canada Games are mutually exclusive. Furthermore, you never included the Simmons family in any discussions around proposed changes to this facility. A farm dating back to 1877 was gifted to the city for the purpose of recreation in 1947. I am quite sure they would not be very pleased with the proposal you and the council have put forward. Let’s be perfectly honest, if a third ice pad is built at CARI it will mean there will be no rink built at Simmons.

Mayor Brown, your comments about lowering your carbon footprint lack any kind of credibility when kids have for years walked and biked to the rink, fields and pools at Simmons. Along with accessibility is the fact there is no consideration of the positive impact that having a rink between a junior high and senior high school, along with five elementary schools within walking distance is a wonderful addition to creating a healthier, more vibrant community. Did the mayor and council consider the numerous new families that have moved into the downtown, and the number of low-income families that benefit from the Simmons Sport Centre?

On a personal note, my father as the former principal at West Kent School, Ted Redmond, took students every Friday afternoon to skate at this rink. I grew up playing soccer and football on those fields, went swimming every week in that pool, and now my daughter plays hockey in that rink. Simmons is an iconic structure and facility that requires commitment from the City of Charlottetown to ensure sporting facilities are open and available to all of our citizens. It is an investment into our children and their children’s very future. Centralizing facilities is and always will be a catastrophic mistake.

Mike Redmond is a former Allen Street resident.


The Guardian (U.K.) published a feature article Friday on Dame Judi Dench, who gave the interview remotely, as she is staying home with the rest of Britain as they weather this winter with COVID-19. 
A quick read, here:
Which had me thinking about the wonderful little Nothing LIke a Dame, a documentary with her and three other amazing British actors all granted the Order of the British Empire, chatting about their careers and interactions with so much fun and zing, which City Cinema in Charlottetown screened a while back. 

City Cinema continues to show movies, obviously following Chief Public Health Office guidelines, and here is a listing of movies tonight and coming up.  It takes some clicking and such to find the descriptions of the films, but it is all around this page.

This afternoon is the last showing of the New York Cat Film Festival, which includes a P.E.I. film Furball by Harmony Wagner and with Graham Putman.

Short films curated by the team at "The Kids Should See This": includes starling murmuration and many others (you may have to go to the "See Recent Videos" for the starling one).

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Massenet’s Manon, until tonight about 6:30PM
Starring Lisette Oropesa, Michael Fabiano, Carlo Bosi, Artur Ruciński, Brett Polegato, and Kwangchul Youn, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From October 26, 2019.  Oropesa is wonderufl as the doomed Manon.

Wagner’s Die Walküre, tonight after 7:30PM until Monday about 6:30PM
Starring Deborah Voigt, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Stephanie Blythe, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel, and Hans-Peter König. From May 14, 2011. It's a fast-moving 4 hours, with a super-cool new staging and Voigt as "Woton's favorite daughter"!

January 23, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

Heart Beet Organics Farmacy and Fermentary, order pickup 9AM-1PM, store and restaurant open until 6PM

Heart Beet Organics Farmacy and Fermentary is one of the places participating in:
Winterdine: A Toast to Winter, special Island dining festival, happening these next few weeks -  participating restaurants and details here:

SYLVAIN CHARLEBOIS: Eating your veggies for sake of immunity - The Guardian

Published on Thursday, January 21st, 2021

According to the United Nations, 2021 is the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.

Many could not care less about a proclamation from a global agency that has been criticized over the years as being out of touch. Some of this criticism is warranted but, depending on the topic, these campaigns can bring a healthy load of success and change.

The year 2016 was the International Year of Pulses. At the time, consumers were starting to mentally correlate food choices with environmental stewardship. Context helped shine some light on Canada’s most overlooked crop.

Slowly, not only is Canada becoming a super vegetable protein powerhouse, but consumers are buying into it. In 2020, plant-based sales grew 31 per cent in Canada, even amid the pandemic.

The context for fruits and vegetables this year can assist the UN’s ambitions to advocate for the importance of healthy diets and lifestyles through sustainable food systems. With COVID-19, our collective fight went from keeping safe to achieving immunity. That shift happened just within the last month or so. Collective immunity has been top-of-mind for many, given our acute focus on how vaccines are being rolled out. 

The best medicine, virus or not, is sound nutrition. One of the major pieces to building a strong immunity system is by eating more fruits and vegetables. If one country needs to be reminded of that it is certainly Canada.

In 2021, despite volatile prices, 41 per cent of Canadians intend to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. Last year, it was 46 per cent. Canadians did buy more fruits and vegetables at retail, but they have bought more of other food categories, as well.

According to NielsenIQ, vegetable sales in Canada went up seven per cent in volume and 13 per cent in dollars since vegetables became more expensive.

The same happened with fruit. Fruit unit sales were up five per cent, and seven per cent in dollars.

Restaurants are not a significant market for fruits, so lower percentages are not surprising. In volume, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia all saw sales going up in volume by eight per cent for vegetables, and six per cent for fruits. The lowest increase for both categories was in the Maritimes: two per cent for vegetables and only one per cent for fruits. Those figures are disappointingly low.

Most products experienced tremendous growth in retail sales in 2020. Tomatoes were the most popular type of produce in 2020, as sales grew almost 28 per cent in dollars. Since some were still looking for convenience, bagged vegetables grew 25.8 per cent.

In fruits, oranges saw the biggest increase in sales with 21.9 per cent, followed by cherries and lemons. Dollar sales of both celery and peaches dropped in 2020 but this is likely because these products’ price points were much lower than in 2019. Highly publicized recalls also affected some categories, mainly peaches and lettuce. Numbers suggest onions dodged a bullet in 2020 as they, too, were subject to a recall.

But given what happened to the food-service industry in the last 10 months, these numbers may be a mirage. People cooked more often at home and required more produce bought at the grocery store. Unit sales for tomatoes, for example, only grew six per cent. Almost one Canadian in five started a garden at home in 2020, and many grew tomatoes, but still.

Numbers are not impressively high with many restaurants closing. Figures from NielsenIQ suggest that we may not be buying and eating more produce, at least not yet. Since March, it has all been about baking, snacking and indulging to simply overlook the awfulness of the pandemic, if only for a while.

As suggested by Canada’s Food Guide, fruits and vegetables are vital components for achieving quality of life and a stronger immune system. Also, recalls and highly volatile retail prices spook consumers all the time.

Declaring 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is timely and important. As more governments investigate food autonomy as a priority for our post-COVID era, creating awareness of the consumption of produce will be parallel.

Building capacity through controlled-environment agriculture products in Canada can only make our produce supply chains less vulnerable to factors like currency and scaled bacterial outbreaks.

We also desperately need to take care of our immune systems as soon as possible. Reminding us of the importance of eating enough produce benefits everyone.

Sylvain Charlebois is professor in food distribution and policy, and senior director of the AgriFood Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University.

Federal Conservatives have acclaimed former Provincial Liberal Doug Currie to be its candidate for the next federal election in the Riding of Charlottetown.  Doug Currie was a dynamic Minister of Health for a while under Robert Ghiz, and always a good team leader.  (His departure led to the byelection where Green Party Hannah Bell was elected.) With an already techno-popping tie collection, Currie is ready for anything, but some may feel a bit blue that his politics seem so loosely aligned with policies and core values and more with placement and timing, or are blushing red at their own political naivete, or green with envy....

Provincial news right at the end of the week included a Media Release from Agriculture and Justice Minister Bloyce Thompson that he still can't talk about the murky Red Fox Acres (Un) Limited land deal (that sure looks like it doesn't meet the Lands Protection Act) because the Privacy Commissioner said so *and* there is a judicial review of the deal requested.  The press release (written by former reporter for The Guardian)  is here:

Official Opposition Agriculture Critic Michele Beaton has said she will file the FOIPP request to have the report released.

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Puccini’s Tosca, until noon today
Starring Hildegard Behrens, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli. From March 27, 1985.

LIVE this afternoon and available to view for two weeks, tickets $20US)
Sondra Radvanovsky and Piotr Beczała

"High notes and high drama will be in abundance when this world-famous soprano-tenor pairing comes together for a thrilling performance broadcast live from Germany’s Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal."  Ticket info here

Massenet’s Manon, tonight 7:30PM until Sunday about 6:30PM
Starring Lisette Oropesa, Michael Fabiano, Carlo Bosi, Artur Ruciński, Brett Polegato, and Kwangchul Youn, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From October 26, 2019.

January 22, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Fridays4Future, 3:30PM, Province House.  Reminding our leaders that the Climate needs good decisions right now.
And the United States re-entering the Paris Accord is a good decision.

Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges Meeting, 10AM, on-line
The committee will meet to consider its work plan, including Motion No. 96 (Referring certain matters to the Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges).

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

Local Food:  order online today from Heart Beet Organics to pick-up at their store tomorrow morning:
Webinar today:

Are Canada’s Environmental Laws up to the Challenge?  Protecting Communities, their Rights and the Environment from the Threats of Biotechnology, 2-3:15PM today, online.

CELA (Canadian Environmental Law Association) is conducting a series of webinars focused on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), our country’s main environmental legislation used to evaluate and manage substances. In this webinar series, we explore how CEPA can be strengthened to protect vulnerable communities, including children, women of childbearing age, workers, people of low income, and Indigenous communities from toxic exposures, using improved, modern approaches to advance prevention strategies from hazardous substances.

More details and registration link:

Todd MacLean's Rainforest Lounge, with guest Tim Chaisson, 7PM, Instagram Live --  toddpei account on Instagram, (see article, below)
Thanks to citizen-advocates like Tony Reddin, the province has said they will accept public comments for this year's provincial budget over the weekend (the official deadline is today), in case that gives more people time to figure out what to suggest as important to fund.

I get it that it can't be extended much longer if they want to get it prepared for tabling and working on in the Spring Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature...which starts in late February and goes until early May, one week planning and two weeks in The House -- see calendar here:

...but there is no reason why people, who are at home, can't submit things until the start of the work week Monday, since most civil servants will resume working on an issue at that time.

from The Guardian (U.K.), today:
LINK only:

Global plea for climate preparedness – More than a million young people around the world have urged governments to prioritise measures to protect against climate breakdown during the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. World leaders are due to videoc onference on Monday to consider how to adapt to the extreme weather, wildfires and floods that have become more common as temperatures rise. Ban Ki-moon, the former UN secretary general, will lead the Climate Adaptation Summit, and leaders including Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Narendra Modi are expected to attend. Thousands of scientists including four Nobel winners have signed a separate call for adaptation to be prioritised.

A million young people urge governments to prioritise climate crisis

World leaders will meet for Climate Adaptation Summit to consider how to adapt to extreme weather

That Global Chorus guy!

Todd MacLean hosts Rainforest Lounge - The Guardian article

Published on Thursday, January 21st, 2021

A well-known P.E.I. musician, author and music teacher has started up a new weekly Friday evening online fundraiser talk show, featuring a chat with a different Island artist each week.

“With all the reduced activity and COVID restrictions, I don’t get to see my musical and arts scene colleagues very much these days,” said Todd MacLean about the show concept.

“And so, as I’m sitting at home and dealing with all the challenges and changes of this past year and finding new directions to take creativity and passions, I wonder how and what everyone else is doing during this time.”

How and what are you doing during this pandemic time? is the central question of the talk show called Todd MacLean’s Rainforest Lounge, which runs every Friday, 7 p.m., on Instagram Live.

Meaghan Blanchard was the first guest on Jan. 8, and Brielle Ansems was featured on Jan. 15. Both performed acoustic songs in their living rooms and engaged in a chat with MacLean about the ways their lives have changed over the past year.

There is a fundraising component, too, as each week the guest artist chooses a charity, and in lieu of an admission price for the online show, viewers are encouraged to send a donation to to go toward that particular charity.

“So far, we’ve collected a great amount of donations for The Upper Room from our first week, and for from the second week, which is a Canadian youth mental health advocacy organization,” said MacLean.

“But this is also a rare paid gig for artists. Thanks to our sponsors, The Kings Playhouse, Northumberland Ferries Limited and Caseley’s Tents and Party Rentals, and we’re so thankful to them for their support.”

The rainforest aspect of the show comes into play with the backdrop scenery for the set.  “Last month on a night where I just felt particularly cooped up at home, getting all shack-whacky, I ordered authentic-looking rainforest wallpaper online. So, I put this up in my home office, and when I sit in front of it, it kind of looks like I’m legit hanging out in an actual rainforest. So, of course, this had to be called the Rainforest Lounge.”

MacLean hopes to raise funds and awareness for environmental causes as well with the show, in particular for The Amazon Conservation Association and The Jane Goodall Institute.

In order to see the show, simply use or create an Instagram account and find and follow the toddpei account. Then at 7 p.m. on Fridays, find the Instagram Live show being broadcast from that account.

Upcoming guests on Todd MacLean’s Rainforest Lounge will be Tim Chaisson on Jan. 22 and Tara MacLean on Jan. 29.

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Verdi’s La Traviata, today until 6:30PM
Starring Natalie Dessay, Matthew Polenzani, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From April 14, 2012.   A new classic!

Puccini’s Tosca, tonight 7:30PM until Saturday noon (due to live concert)
Starring Hildegard Behrens, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli. From March 27, 1985. A classic classic!!!

January 21, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Standing Committee Meeting, 10AM, online 
Topic: Sustainable Irrigation Strategies

"Representatives from the PEI Certified Organic Producers Cooperative will ...discuss sustainable irrigation strategies.

The committee is chaired by Montague-Kilmuir MLA Cory Deagle. The other members of the committee are Finance Minister Darlene Compton, Robert Henderson (O'Leary-Inverness), Stephen Howard (Summerside-South Drive), Lynne Lund (Summerside-Wilmot) and Hal Perry (Tignish-Palmer Road)"
from a media release

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

Webinar: A Climate of Change featuring Climate Reality Canada's Matthew Chapman, 10:05PM-1AM Atlantic Time.

Matthew Chapman is responsible "...for leveraging Climate Reality Leaders and their networks to decarbonize communities through grassroots solution-building, managing Regional Organizers who support local, citizen-led Hubs in communities across the country, spurring data-driven decisions via the National Climate League." Part of a webinar series.
Registration at the link:
Facebook event link

From the many highlights of yesterday's U.S. presidential inauguration events, a video of Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman reading her poem (5 minutes), The Hill We Climb:

She reminds me of Island poet Tanya Davis, and you can see the influences of masterpieces like Hamilton in her work.

With the full text, at the bottom of this newsletter.

About the pipeline...
While some appear to be caught offguard (though Joe Biden has been saying this all along he would show our children and grandchildren he is serious about climate change and cancel the pipeline), and CBC does sound very pro-pipeline in most of its reporting, here is some background from the slightly cheeky Morning Brew crew:

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Pipeline on the Line - Morning Brew

Refresher: The Keystone XL is a planned 1,210-mile detour from the existing Keystone pipeline, which runs from Canada’s Alberta province to Gulf Coast oil refineries. The Keystone XL would haul 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska before reconnecting to the original pipeline. 

  • The American Dream mall of fossil fuel projects, the Keystone XL has been in the works for 15+ years but faced numerous delays and legal setbacks, including former President Obama's 2015 rejection of its permit application.

Why the controversy?

Environmentalists strongly oppose the pipeline because it 1) is an $8 billion investment in harmful fossil fuels 2) cuts through protected wetlands and tribal lands and 3) carries "bitumen" from Alberta’s oil sands, a type of crude oil that creates more pollution. Some major banks have stopped financing all oil sands projects because of the climate impact.  

Canada's ambassador to the US says oil sands production and emissions per barrel have improved since the project was announced, and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and President Trump, supporters of Keystone XL, argue it will reduce reliance on foreign oil and create jobs. 

On Sunday, the Keystone XL's developer tried convincing Biden it won't be like those other fossil fuel projects, pledging...

  • $1.7 billion in solar, wind, and battery investments

  • Net-zero emissions after starting service in 2023

  • A ~$785 million stake in the project for indigenous tribes

The Canadian portion has been under construction for months, and if Biden nixes the permit, Trudeau probably won’t invite him to the next neighborhood block party. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told CBC it would also hurt US and Canadian jobs and undermine national security by leaving America dependent on OPEC imports. 

Zoom out: It's tough out there for a pipeline. In the last year, the Atlantic Coast pipeline was canceled, a judge temporarily shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Supreme Court upheld a suspension on construction of parts of the Keystone XL. 

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Bellini’s Norma, today until 6:30PM
Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Carlo Rizzi. From October 7, 2017.  Ancient stories of priestesses and their loves.

Verdi’s La Traviata, 7:30PM tonight until Friday about 6:30PM
Starring Natalie Dessay, Matthew Polenzani, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From April 14, 2012. The dynamic Dessay is Violetta in this modern-dress adaption of the opera, with the legendary (and sadly, now late) Hvorostovsky as the sympathetic, but stern, father of lovestruck son Polenzani.

The Hill We Climb - by Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Poet

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We've braved the belly of the beast
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it


January 20, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


If you wish to watch the Inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, television coverage starts seemingly hours ahead of time.

Some events and times:
The actual
oath of office is at 1PM Atlantic Time, and a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery at 3:30PM A lot of the traditional fun stuff like the luncheon, parade and balls are not happening this year due to COVID-19 and security concerns. 

There may be coverage of outgoing president Donald Trump's Farewell party at Joint Base Andrews, and departure for Florida, earlier in the morning.

Coverage of the day's events on national media and on Facebook
On the Island:

Standing Committee on Health and Social Development, 1:30PM.  

Topic: Briefing on COVID-19 vaccine roll-out

The committee will receive a briefing on the plans to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Hon. Minister of Health and Wellness, James Aylward

  • Chief Public Heath Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison

  • Senior Public Health Policy and Planning Officer, Erin Bentley

watch live:

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

Local Food ordering Deadline - midnight tonight:
Eat Local PEI,
order for weekend delivery/pickup.  Details here:
Friday, January 22nd--
Provincial Operating Budget Public Consultations

"...we want your feedback for this year’s Operating Budget....Feedback can be submitted through the webform (at LINK) with the option to attach documents and formal proposals for consideration.  This year, some general questions have been included to gather the thoughts and ideas of our diverse population as we continue to work collaboratively for Islanders.


Many ideas for budget priorities come to mind, including...actual Affordable housing, rural public transportation, real access to affordable internet, forest improvement....

Children's classics, part 1 (The Lorax by Dr. Seuss):

LETTER: Stop deforestation in P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, January 16th, 2021

There is a lot of international outcry about all the deforestation going on in Brazil — 4,281 square miles of forest was destroyed to make agricultural land in this past year. The world needs more carbon capture from forests.

When I tried to do the math on a per capita basis, I think Prince Edward Island is way worse to our forests than the Brazilians. A conservative guess is on P.E.I. there were 2,000 acres of land cleared for agriculture last year. Given that our population is 140,000 and Brazil's is 209.5 million people, we are 3,500 per cent worse than they are ... somebody please check my math on this.

Indentured, export agriculture, deforestation and tourism were always Haiti's economic plan and they are the poorest place on earth. Why is it also our plan on P.E.I.? No more deforestation, please. Cap it and come up with a better plan for P.E.I. I am the Lorax, planting trees, in metro Fernwood, P.E.I.

Ranald MacFarlane, Fernwood

Math-checking --
On Brazil: The 4,281 square miles lost in Brazil is referenced here:

or about 11,000 sq. kilometres
5.23x10-5 sq km/person

On P.E.I.:
The 2,000 acres is about 3.1 square miles, and dividing square miles lost per capita is 0.00221

 or 8sq. km, or
5.71x10-5 sq km/person

So P.E.I.'s deforestation is worse, and that amount is shameful, but not the order of magnitude (unless my math is wrong -- perhaps acres and sq. miles got mixed up...I am a little mixey about it all by now).

Anyway, Global Forest Watch has the amount lost double what Ranald quoted:

(and note that the forested land on P.E.I. is not lost just for agriculture but for sprawling residential development and sprawling new road and other infrastructure projects)  We can do better in increasing the tree-planting in smart areas and reducing the reasons for forest loss on P.E.I.

My stars are misaligned this week, as I can't believe I forgot this Monday.

Atlantic Skies for January 18th - January 24th, 2021 - by Glenn K. Roberts

"Leaping" About in Time

As our planet orbits the Sun, it rotates, completing one revolution in a period of 1 day, or 24 hrs. (86,400 secs.) However, the time it takes to complete that one complete revolution can vary slightly from day to day, the result of variations in the planet's atmospheric pressure, weather systems and associated winds (ex: El Nino), ocean currents, movement of the planet's core, and even, in one instance, as a result of a man-made development project (Google the 'Three Gorges Dam' in China, for more information).

The world's time clocks are synchronized to what is known as 'Coordinated Universal Time' (UTC). Established on Jan. 1, 1960, adopted in 1970, and implemented in 1972, UTC's function is to regulate and coordinate the ultra-accurate atomic clocks utilized around the world for astronomy, navigation, spaceflight, computer networks, and other time-specific purposes. UTC is based on the mean solar time ( a day or 24 hrs) at 0 degrees longitude (measured at midnight at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, England; thus the former name of UTC as "Greenwich Mean Time" or GMT). In 1972, the concept of "leap seconds" was introduced to simplify future time adjustments. When astronomical time (time measured in mean solar time units over 24 hrs beginning at midnight of each civil day) deviates from UTC by more than 0.4 secs, a leap second is added to the year in either June or December, thereby bringing all global atomic clocks back in sync with one another. The last leap second was added on New Year's Eve 2016 at 23 hrs. 59 mins. and 59 secs.

Although records show that the Earth's rotation time has been slowing over the years since accurate measurements began in the late 1960s, it now appears that the rotation, at least for 2020, slightly increased. A recent on-line Live Science article states that, with reference to the Earth's rotation period, "the 28 fastest days on record all occurred in 2020", with the end result being that an astronomical day in 2021 will be 0.05 milliseconds shorter on average, or 19 milliseconds for the year. July 19, 2020 was the shortest day measured for the year, with the Earth spinning 1.4602 milliseconds faster than the average 86,400 seconds (24 hrs). This has led some scientists to propose deleting a leap second from UTC at some point in the near future, although on-going monitoring and measurement will be required before a decision is made. Some scientists are even proposing doing away with leap seconds altogether, citing issues with data-logging applications and telecommunications. Fortunately, for most everyday purposes and functions, and for us here on Earth, variations in the planet's rotational rate have no direct impact.

Venus is currently too close to the Sun to be seen, as are Jupiter and Saturn, leaving only Mars and Mercury visible in the evening sky this coming week. Mars (mag.+0.3) becomes visible high in the southeast sky around 5:35 p.m., reaching its highest elevation of 58 degrees above the southern horizon about an hour later; it remains visible until about 12:35 a.m. when it drops below 10 degrees above the western horizon. Mercury (mag. -0.7) reaches its greatest eastern  (to the left) elongation of 19 degrees from the Sun as dusk falls in the southwest sky on Jan. 23.

Until next week, clear skies.


 Jan. 20 - First Quarter Moon

         21 - Moon at apogee (farthest from Earth)

         23 - Mercury at greatest eastern elongation


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, today until 6:30PM
Starring Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczała, Mariusz Kwiecień, and Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Marco Armiliato. From February 7, 2009.

Bellini’s Norma, tonight 7:30PM until Thursday about 6:30PM
Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Carlo Rizzi. From October 7, 2017.

Children's classics, part 2 (Babar the King, by Jean De Brunhoff):

With apologies for the poor quality, but the sentiments are truer today more than most days:

from Babar the King, published in 1933, written and illustrated by Jean De Brunhoff

(If the photo of the page of the book doesn't come through)

In this part of the story, Babar, the king of the elephants, is having an awful dream the night before his coronation.  All sorts of Misfortunes are causing havoc.  Then he sees:

"...graceful winged elephants who chase Misfortune away from Celesteville and bring back Happiness. --  At this point he awakes and feels ever so much better."

For the record:

The Misfortunes are:

Anger, Cowardice, Despair, Discouragement, Fear, Indolence, Laziness, Misfortune, Sickness, Spinelessness, and Stupidity.

The Graceful Winged Elephants are:

Courage, Happiness, Health, Hope, Intelligence, Joy, Kindness, Knowledge, Love, Patience, Perseverance and Work.

And to paraphrase what I wrote previously:

While I am not quite sure anyone ever wants to be compared to a "graceful winged elephant", I think our Earth has many people who personify these virtues; and we need them all.

January 19, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Public Accounts Standing Committee Meeting, 9:30AM, on-line.


Topic: Meeting with Auditor General re: various matters

The committee will meet with Auditor General Darren Noonan to discuss the ongoing audit of Government’s COVID-19 relief funding, the Auditor General’s responsibilities under the Climate Leadership Act, and other matters.

The committee membership consists of Chair Michele Beaton (Green), Karla Bernard (Green), Sidney MacEwen and Cory Deagle (PCs), and Robbie Henderson and Gordon McNeilly (Liberals).

Watch the meeting live at:
P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

COVID-19 Update with Dr. Heather Morrison and others, may be today at 11:30AM.

Tuesday, noon, deadline for Charlottetown Farmers' Market to Go orders,
for pickup, etc. Thursday



Keeping some balance, especially in a couple of days were there is going to be some pretty off-balancing news and concerns:


10 Ways to Stay Positive in a Negative World:


1. Surround yourself with loving people who bring out the best in you.

The company you keep should inspire you, support you, and bring your best self to light. If the people you hang around don’t make you feel loved and respected, it’s time to reevaluate why you chose these people as friends. Focus on people who spread love and a zest for life, not those who perpetuate hate and fear.

2. Smile in celebration of all the good in your life.

You may not feel you have much to smile about, but even your own heartbeat is reason enough to feel happy. Despite your current circumstances, you can turn your whole life around simply by showing thanks for your blessings. Smile because you’re alive and you have the power to create greatness, and life will give you even more reasons to feel alive.

3. Have a positive accountability partner.

You can lovingly keep each other in check by keeping tabs on each other’s energy, and kindly point out when the other one starts to draw in too much negativity. If you catch your partner watching too many negative programs on TV or listening to mindless music on the radio, call them out on it and suggest some alternatives, such as going outside or reading an uplifting book. This will help keep both of your energy levels up, and give you a support system for becoming your best, most positive self.

4. Limit negative media and entertainment.

“The news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’ and then tell you why it isn’t.” – Robert Orben

Most of the time, the news, radio, latest big-screen movies, and other modern media portray the world in a shallow, depressing, and hostile way. Too much exposure to these programs might awaken anger, anxiety, or depression in you, which will affect your energy levels. Instead of turning on the evening news, read positive articles like the ones you see on our website, or watch some motivational videos on YouTube. Pretty soon, you will most likely catch yourself craving the positive outlets and keeping the negative ones at bay.

5. Replace negative habits with more positive ones.

Just like limiting your contact with negative media, you can easily replace other negative habits in your life with more uplifting practices. Ditch junk food and incorporate more fresh, whole foods into your diet, or trade shopping for helping out at the local homeless shelter. Just do anything that makes you feel good instead of subjecting yourself to things that make you feel lousy. We were meant to feel vibrant and thrive in this lifetime, so seek out activities and habits that make you feel that way!

6. Practice “flipping your focus”.

Many times, we magnify the world’s problems while forgetting about all the positive aspects of life that are right in front of us. When you catch your mind drifting to the darker parts of this world, focus on things that make you feel light instead: families playing at the park, a stranger smiling at you, or the person who complimented you on your outfit. The world is only as dark as we make it out to be.

7. Laugh more often!

According to a recent study, children laugh 200 times a day while the average adult only laughs 4. If you haven’t laughed yet today, spend some quality time with your kids, watch funny videos on YouTube, or do something silly with friends. The world presents plenty of opportunities to laugh, we just have to take them!

8. Disconnect from the world and learn to enjoy some quiet time alone.

Go to a sacred space in the woods or on the coastline where you feel peaceful and closest to the stillness all around you. Turn off your phone for a while, and just meditate, go within, and embrace some solitude. Avoid over-thinking, center yourself, and get away from all of life’s responsibilities for a while.

9. Give more hugs. (OK, this one is limited now)

If you have to, wear a free hugs t-shirt and offer people a warm embrace as they walk into the mall or local grocery store. This will help spread the love revolution and increase your positive energy as well; we may have a lot of violence in the world, but a hug can instantly remind us of our true loving nature.

10. Cleanse your mind, body, and spirit.

Your body is your temple, and it’s vital that you keep it healthy and strong so that it can serve as your haven when life starts to throw you curveballs. 


Some Soil News from CBC's Science show Quirks and Quarks, but it like looking at the problem backwards....

Heavy machinery is compacting agricultural soils. Can we persuade plants to put up with it?


New research shows plants can punch through hard soils, but the plant hormone ethylene acts as a stop signal


from CBC Radio online, Quirks and Quarks show material

posted on Saturday, January 15th, 2021, online


A new study has uncovered the real reason plants have difficulty growing through compacted soil — it's not because they physically can't, it's because of a build up of a common plant hormone.

One of the biggest problems that modern agriculture has created is soil compaction, which is what happens when soil is compressed, turning it from loose and porous to near rock-hard. The cause is primarily heavy agricultural machinery that has literally squished the life out of soils across the developed world in the past several decades.

According to a 2015 UN report, 4 per cent of the global land area is estimated to be compacted to the point where crops can't grow properly. That same report says that soil compaction can reduce crop yields by up to 60 per cent, the assumption being that this happened because plants couldn't break through the tough soil.

New research, recently published in the journal Science, shows that plants stop growing because of the plant hormone ethylene.

The hormone is emitted by plants as a ripening agent, as a defence signal to other plants and as a way for the plant to sense its surroundings.

In properly aerated soil, the ethylene can diffuse away from the roots, but in compacted soil, it builds up and signals to the plant to stop growing.

The researchers found that by genetically modifying the plant to stop sensing ethylene at the root tip, they can maintain the benefits of ethylene, but convince the plant to persevere and punch through tough soils.



If you would like to limit the amount of "biotech" in the seeds you are thinking of ordering for your own garden this spring (if you are fortunate enough to be able to garden), here are two articles very much opposed to Monsanto (now part of "Bayer Croplife" that are American-based (and have other non-GMO fish to fry) but offer some points of interest in the area of seeds:

Consider sourcing seeds from:

PEI Seed Alliance

Annapolis Seeds (Nova Scotia):

Hope Seeds (Nova Scotia):

(and let me know about other reliable seed producers, and plan to save some seeds this year, too!)


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Another knock-out set of two operas with amazing females:

Bizet’s Carmen, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Anita Hartig, Anita Rachvelishvili, Aleksandrs Antonenko, and Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado. From November 1, 2014.

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, tonight 7:30PM until Wednesday 6:30PM

Starring Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczała, Mariusz Kwiecień, and Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Marco Armiliato. From February 7, 2009.

January 18, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Local Food Opportunities:

Charlottetown Farmers' Market 2Go
Our CFM2GO shop is now open for this week's ordering period! Place your order before Tuesday at noon and enjoy contactless pick-up at one of our TWO locations:

  • The Market - Thursdays from 3pm to 6pm (FREE)

  • Stratford Town Hall - Thursdays from 5pm to 5pm ($3 pick-up fee).

The shop is packed with loads of yummy local foods including fresh produce, meats, bread, cheeses, prepared meals, sweet treats, coffee, beers, ciders, spreads, and more! Plus, you'll also find artisan products, including pottery, soaps, and beeswax candles!

Click the link in our bio to start shopping or visit:

EatLocalPEI --
Order by Wednesday night
for pickup on Saturday 12-6PM, or
delivery on Saturday 4-7PM

or pickup on Sunday 12-4pm

Organic Veggie Delivery week, order by Monday PM for delivery Friday.  Next order week of February 1st

Heart Beet Organics is open Tuesday-Saturday for drop-in and for order pickups (details here)

And there are other stores which have a lot of Island produce and products, like Riverview Country Market off Riverside Road in Charlottetown, and many local convenience stores across the Island.

"Land Matters"
This letter describes the situation perfectly. 

RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE EXAMINED - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, January 16th, 2021

The Land Matters Project is the province’s latest venture into land policy reform. Its stated purpose is to “modernize“ land-related legislation and policy. To modernize is defined as “to adapt to modern needs or habits “. There are no clear reasons provided to support any compelling need to launch this exercise. I’d suggest that what does need meaningful modernization is the relationship between the province and the potato processing industry.

This relationship manifests itself in many ways. Non-compliance with current legislation is rarely, if ever, penalized. Downstream culpability and responsibility for ongoing environmental degradation is not actively investigated. Those many producers who employ progressive, environmentally sound practices are not adequately compensated for doing so.

The industry maintains this relationship with its commitment to economies of scale and promotion of it simply being too big to fail. It keeps government compliant through the spectre of deep pockets litigation, political blowback and ultimately, the threat to close up shop. As farm gate receipts dwindle, outstanding debt increases, family farm numbers plummet and environmental costs pass that which could ever be mitigated, what musters as standard operating procedure must be reinvented. The logical first step would be to generate the political will to recognize the intent written into existing legislation and commit the resources to enforce it.

Boyd Allen, Pownal

Here is the website for the "Land Matters" Project, which is a huge package of pages external to the government's website, and  bit overwhelming in its graphics and details (and a little slow to navigate for those of us on rural internet):

Poke around in it while keeping Boyd's words in mind ("The logical first step would be to generate the political will to recognize the intent written into existing legislation and commit the resources to enforce it.").

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Dvořák’s Rusalka, today until 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Emily Magee, Dolora Zajick, Piotr Beczala, and John Relyea, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.  From February 8, 2014.

This week (Week 45):
Leading Ladies: Opera’s Greatest Heroines

This week of free Nightly Opera Streams shines the spotlight on the repertory’s most iconic female roles. 

Many articles of interest and the full schedule on this page.

Bizet’s Carmen, Monday 7:30PM until Tuesday about 6:30PM
Starring Anita Hartig, Anita Rachvelishvili, Aleksandrs Antonenko, and Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado. From November 1, 2014.
This is an amazing production -- fantastic performers in the main roles.

"Blame it or praise it, there's no denying the wild horse in us."

   --- Virginia Woolf 

January 17, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Some odds and ends:

Deadline: Friday, January 29th, 2021  Commenting to IRAC on the Island Waste Management Corporation's rate increase request.

some background in this CBC article: from Tuesday, January 12th, 2021:

P.E.I.'s Island Waste Management Corporation is applying for its first fee increase since 2012.  The application is before the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.

Island Waste Management has applied for a four per cent increase, about $8 a year, and 20 per cent increase for regular seasonal cottage owners, about $20 a year. The group says, in its submission to IRAC, it is looking to catch up with cost increases over the last eight years.

It is also proposing the maximum residential drop-off fee at Waste Watch centres go from $20 a load to $30. This change would be effective April 1.

Waste Watch says moving to a true user pay system would have increased fees even more, so it chose not to do that, concerned this would encourage illegal dumping.  If approved, these changes would show up on Islander's next property tax bill. 

Anyone wishing to comment on the application can write IRAC. The deadline for comments is Jan. 29.

Contacting IRAC:
* Tel 902-892-3501  | 1-800-501-6268 | Fax 902-566-4076

* Prince Edward Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission
   P.O. Box 577
   Charlottetown, PE  C1A 7L1


Some of us propose that waste management is a shared concern, and the "nickel-and-diming" that IWMC does in their efforts to stay on some budget is an actual disincentive for Islanders to deal properly with their waste.

from the:
PEI Invasive Species Council, who
".....monitors TWO online databases for observations of invasive species --  Both PEI Nature Tracker & iNaturalist are easy to use and accessible via the web or your smartphone!"

Sorry for the poor quality -- you can look at the original here:

And information and links to get participate are at the original websites:
PEI Nature Tracker:

And this one has a link to download an app:

News in the Business section of Saturday's Guardian highlighted a survey of business trends for the coming year, and identified more online choices, more emphasis on supporting local, and more flexibility in working conditions as three factors with the fourth:

82% said it is important that government actions to stimulate economic recovery should include climate change.

"Building back better is the smart move.

No shocker here, but businesses took a hit in 2020. With every challenge comes an opportunity, and the opportunity here is to build back our economy in better ways. Our research has shown that protecting the environment is becoming increasingly important to consumers. Further, the vast majority of Atlantic Canadians told us that they want economic recovery to also help fight climate change. This offers some insight for business as we adapt to our new context – prioritizing the environment and sustainability in everything from transportation needs, heating and lighting considerations, investment practices, to procurement and CSR.

The key for business is to evaluate the environmental impact of operations, and to prioritize sustainability in decision-making.

Most results cited in this article are based on an Atlantic-wide online survey conducted between Jan. 4 and 10, 2021, with 2,512 residents 18 years of age or older, from the Narrative Research’s East Coast voice panel, with additional points drawn from studies conducted by our firm throughout 2020. Data was weighted based on the 2016 Census, by gender, age, and region" <snip>


I suspect we may need to remind out leaders of this as the year progresses and issues are discussed.

And a nice slightly long Sunday read on Hope, from Yes! Magazine, and thanks to Tony Reddin for passing it on:   

Reasons for Hope on Climate Change in 2021 - Yes! Solutions Journalism Magazine article by Matthew Hoffman

Despite the onslaught of climate disasters, there is more momentum for political action now than ever before.

Published on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Climate disasters started early in 2020—and kept on coming.

The catastrophic fires in Australia in early 2020 were a holdover from 2019, but they were soon followed by flooding in Indonesia, a super cyclone hitting the coast of India and Bangladesh, and then more flooding, this time in Kenya and wide swaths of Central and West Africa.

Next came the record-breaking fires in the Brazilian Amazon, South America’s Pantanal wetlands,  California and Colorado, followed by a historic hurricane season in the Atlantic, including two apocalyptic hurricanes in Nicaragua and Honduras.

With terrible symmetry, 2020 ended with bushfires consuming more than half of K’gari, a World Heritage site and island off the coast of Queensland, Australia.

A popular refrain on social media notes that while 2020 was among the hottest on record and one of the worst years for climate disasters, it is also likely to be among the coolest and calmest for years to come. During a speech at Columbia University in December, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres put it bluntly: “The state of the planet is broken.”

But now is not the time for despair.

Hope Is Found in Uncertainty

All this bad climate news has the potential to generate climate despair, numbing those watching the next tragedy unfold.

Climate despair is a growing phenomena, noted in the popular media and in academic research in public health, education, ethics, and philosophy. Psychologists even coined the term “solastalgia” to denote distress caused by environmental damage and loss. Climate despair is feeling with certainty that “we’re screwed,” that the worst impacts of climate change are inevitable and can no longer be stopped.

Despair feels reasonable given what we’re learning about climate change and seeing in the news. But it is a temptation that should be resisted.

Rebecca Solnit argues that hope is found in uncertainty—that the future is not set. Even given torrents of bad news, there are a number of reasons for hope. And 2020 could indeed be the turning point.

It has to be.

Science, Politics, and Hope

To be clear, climate despair does not square with current scientific understandings. We are in trouble, not screwed.

Actions taken now and in the next decade, individually and collectively, can make a difference. The news on climate impacts and climate science may feel like a march of doom, but climate scientists argue that it’s not too late to act and there is uncertainty in the extent of climate impacts we have guaranteed ourselves. We have not reached the point of no return.

In some ways, climate despair is the new climate denial, dulling the sense of urgency and blunting the momentum for action. The discourse paralyzes when paralysis is what we can least afford. The discourse of despair strengthens the grip of the status quo and can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So hope is good science, and that’s good for politics. Opportunities to expand the space of uncertainty at the root of hope are right in front of us. While the climate impacts have been terrible in 2020, there has never been as much momentum for political action on climate change as there is now:

• The first truly global social movement dedicated to climate action and climate justice has gained in size and strength, beginning with Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for the Future and spreading to the Sunrise Movement in the U.S. and climate justice movements around the world.

Large-scale capital continues to flee from fossil fuel investments, which are rapidly losing value. According to a recent study by political scientists Jeff Colgan, Jessica Green, and Thomas Hale, this shifting financial ground promises to upend the politics of climate change in important ways, as vested interests lose political power.

• The initial pandemic response demonstrated how societies and economies can pivot quickly in response to an emergency. The longer-term plans for post-pandemic recovery provide an enormous window of opportunity to “build back better,” although this idea does not have universal uptake.

• The Paris Agreement survived the withdrawal of the U.S., which is poised to rejoin after Joe Biden is sworn in as president. Momentum around the agreement was clear at the Climate Ambition Summit where 75 countries announced new national commitments.

• The ranks of countries that have made net-zero commitments is swelling, and a new report suggests that the cumulative effect of countries’ recent pledges (if fully achieved) could keep warming to 2.1 C by 2100, putting a key Paris Agreement goal within reach.

These trends don’t guarantee that we have turned the political corner. The forces arrayed against the kind of changes we need are vast and powerful. It will take an enormous amount of energy, resources, and action for these promising trends to fulfill their potential and turn the tide of climate change.

But they can disrupt the status quo. They can create space for catalytic action. They can enhance the uncertainty that keeps despair at bay. They provide hope.

Reject Despair

This motivating hope, or what political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon calls commanding hope, is not just scientifically valid and politically astute, it is the only viable moral choice.

The iron law of climate change is that those least responsible for causing the problem face the worst consequences. The opposite is true as well—those most responsible for causing climate change tend to be the safest from it. According to Oxfam, the richest 1% of the population globally “are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who made up the poorest half of humanity.”

Too many people and communities do not have the luxury of saying “isn’t that a shame, too bad we can’t do anything” about climate change. They aren’t safe, and it’s not their fault.

Rejecting despair, embracing the uncertainty of hope, is the least that individuals, communities, and societies that are relatively safe from climate change owe vulnerable communities.

With 2020 left behind, there is hope in facing the climate crisis, for movement toward a just transition to an equitable low-carbon world. Seeing that hope fulfilled in 2021 and beyond means summoning couragejoy, and sometimes even rage, fiercely clinging to and expanding the uncertainty of the future.

Most importantly, 2021 needs to be the year known for acting, individually and collectively, with the urgency and scale the climate crisis demands.

This story originally appeared in The Conversation and is republished here with permission.


A little Opera interlude:
Metropolitan Opera free video performance streaming:

Handel’s Rodelinda, today until 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Andreas Scholl, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, and Shenyang, conducted by Harry Bicket. From December 3, 2011.

Dvořák’s Rusalka, tonight 7:30PM until Monday about 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Emily Magee, Dolora Zajick, Piotr Beczala, and John Relyea, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.  From February 8, 2014.  The Czech version of The Little Mermaid, kind of.  Absolutely gorgeous singing by Fleming and Beczala as the Prince. 

This will end the beautiful week of beautiful Renee Fleming in beautiful costumes singing so beautifully.

In a messy ICYMI (in case you missed it) file, there are a couple of good notes form the New Year, and too thoughtful and well-meaning to set aside.

This is from Gordon McNeilly, MLA, who is first and foremost a positive motivator:

There is a special feeling on the first day of a new year, especially with the murkiness of 2020. Proud of the warmth and love that was spread around in so many different ways, we got through it together.

Happy New Year to you and your family. May you set goals to be crushed, dedicate your energy to being the healthiest “you” possible and allow your love and happiness to continue to uplift our families, friends and communities everyday of 2021.

We can!

      --Gordon McNeilly


By the way, Gordie has several exercise video postings on that Facebook page to workout with him, especially on snow-rainy-icy Sundays....

Note:  This photo is from 2015, and a lot has changed -- Peter Bevan-Baker is leader of the Official Opposition, and Gordon McNeilly is a Liberal MLA, and we aren't hugging too much.
But what hasn't changed is the compassion and shared purpose.


Screenshot of reporter Kerry Campbell's tweet from 2015.

January 16, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

keeping the Earth in mind....

The U. S. Crisis Shows the Need to Speak Truth to Power - David Suzuki Foundation article by David Suzuki with contributions from Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington

Published on Friday, January 15th, 2021

As was demonstrated in the U.S. last week, many who are motivated by fear and ignorance are feeling emboldened — and desperate. It’s not just in the United States. Irrational, authoritarian, anti-science rhetoric and action has been heating up from Brazil to India to Hungary, and is fully entrenched in places like Russia and China.

With the growing realization that current economic and power structures are at best threatening our health and well-being and at worst the very survival of humanity, many people are calling for rapid change. Those who benefit from today’s systems, or who have been convinced they do even as their own economic conditions worsen, are pushing back, fearful of losing their real or imagined privilege.

There was a time when the changes needed to avoid the worst of global heating, biodiversity loss and even increasing disease outbreaks could have been gradual, with minimal societal disruption. When, more than 30 years ago, NASA scientist James Hansen warned the U.S. Senate about climate disruption, shortly before I hosted a CBC radio special about it, there was still time for a smoother “transition.”

For the most part, those warnings weren’t heeded, but people in politics and industry continue to say we can’t change overnight and must ease away from fossil fuels and destructive industrial and agricultural practices that degrade and destroy the natural systems on which our health and survival depend.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world hard, but it’s also showing we can and must change our ways quickly if we want live well on this small blue planet.

Going back to “normal” means increasing consumerism, car culture, industrialization and destruction for the sake of a relatively recent economic system developed to shift the wartime economy to one based on consumption, with little understanding of or regard for the consequences.

Consumerism provides a false sense of purpose and meaning. It doesn’t bring happiness or well-being. Its benefits increasingly accrue to those who perpetuate the system to enrich themselves, while those who have been convinced to grasp for crumbs fall further behind. During the pandemic alone, the world’s 500 richest people grew their wealth by almost US$2 trillion, while so many others suffered. The world’s wealthiest one per cent now owns half the global wealth. 

In perpetuating false notions about the need to continually consume more to keep the economy going, to keep GDP rising, those in power have engendered a failure to remember what really brings meaning and happiness to our lives: community, connections to each other and the wider world, appreciation of nature. Of course, we need economic systems to coordinate labour, production and distribution for the basic necessities of food, water, shelter and clothing. But our current systems are failing even in that regard.

As the old saying goes, the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. Those at the top are also responsible for a massively disproportionate share of global consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. That richest one per cent? They account for more than double the global emissions of the poorest 50 per cent!

The embracing of authoritarianism, of anti-science and anti-democratic beliefs, especially among those who stand to be hurt most by it — as illustrated by the people whose pathetic attempts to overthrow the U.S government last week failed miserably but nonetheless led to at least five deaths and a crisis in American democracy — shows the importance of standing up for what is right and just.

It’s no longer good enough to wring our hands and fret about the multiple crises we face. We must become informed, speak out, vote, hold our politicians to account, join forces. We must demonstrate the power of compassion and love, of hope and courage, over the forces that are trying to keep us on a suicidal road that benefits a minority at the expense not just of most of humanity, but of all the living beings that share this fragile planet.

We have to recognize that we are interconnected with each other, with nature, even with the rocks and waters that form our home. Those of us who care outnumber the short-sighted, profit-driven and careless, and those who heed them out of fear and ignorance. We must make ourselves heard.

--- David Suzuki Foundation


Metropolitan Opera Saturday Afternoon pre-recorded radio performance: 2PM, CBC Radio Music 104.7FM
Verdi’s La Traviata
Performance from January 18, 2020
Karel Mark Chichon; Aleksandra Kurzak (Violetta Valéry), Dmytro Popov (Alfredo Germont), Quinn Kelsey (Giorgio Germont)
Such a recent recording, with wonderful Polish soprano Kurzak.  So sad...

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Strauss’s Capriccio, today until 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Sarah Connolly, Joseph Kaiser, Russell Braun, Morten Frank Larsen, and Peter Rose, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. From April 23, 2011.  Strauss, set in 1920's, gorgeous clothing, love triangle.  Pretty cool.

Handel’s Rodelinda, tonight 7:30PM until Sunday about 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Andreas Scholl, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, and Shenyang, conducted by Harry Bicket. From December 3, 2011.  Handel, set in 1700s, love triangle,gorgeous costumes, very dramatic.

Something shared to a friend, and most get some sort of meaning from it, but don't take the tree-clearing part too literally....

“Do not try to save

the whole world

or do anything grandiose.

Instead, create

a clearing

in the dense forest

of your life

and wait there


until the song

that is yours alone to sing

falls into your open cupped hands

and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know

how to give yourself

to this world so worthy of rescue.”

   --- Martha Postlethwaite, educator, author, pastor

January 15, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Fridays4Future, 3:30PM, outside Province House.  The weekly reminder that the Climate Crisis is still happening and our leaders need to be working on that.

Deadline today: Friday, January 15th:
Provincial Annual Environmental Change-makers Awards Nominations due
There are three award categories: individual, organization and school.
More info:
Environmental Award Nominations page:
or by phone 902 368-5024.

Aquarium lesson -- my reckoning is this would be 9AM our time:
Deep Science, on Underwater Volcanos, from the National Marine Aquarium in Britain.
ocean to rainforest, all virtually....

Todd MacLean Rainforest Lounge, 7PM. Instagram Live. "A Weekly Chat with a PEI Artist"
Show #2 - "with the wonderful Brielle Ansems!
Just find and follow the toddpei Instagram account and check it out there at 7pm Friday to tune in."

The Island musician and author and creativity engineer continues to find ways to connect and entertain during the past year. 
Save the Date:
Saturday, February 6th:
Winter Woodlot Tour 2021!  9AM-1PM.
  It's near Rustico (but not too far from Wheatley River) and it sounds like a grand time, and they've planned for events with physical distancing in mind.  Storm date one week later, Saturday, February 13th.   Very informative website with more details at:

As Charlottetown goes, so goes the Province, perhaps?  Good thing there are some smart, committed people to help connect the dots and to point out a better vision for our capital city:

The “Stop Killam PEI “ Facebook page is now the “Future of Charlottetown” page and here’s why. -
Facebook post

Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2021

When Stop Killam PEI was launched in summer 2020, it was for the purpose of providing our community with information about City Hall’s misguided approval of a 99-unit apartment building at 15 Haviland Street on the historic Charlottetown waterfront. Our objective was, and is, to stop that sorry project from ever happening on Charlottetown’s wonderful waterfront. The project has been in a holding pattern for some time and hopefully will die a quiet death. We will do our best to ensure that happens.

Our Stop Killam PEI page has attracted a high level of interest and support from across our PEI community and beyond. Time and again we have been encouraged to expand our Facebook page so that it can also address and inform our community of the many other City Hall created issues and controversies which have arisen and which compromise our community since the current City administration came to power in the fall of 2018.

Our community is currently led by a Mayor and some Councillors who disallow or minimize public input and who continuously support one or two developers whose projects are sometimes not worthy of such support.

Additionally, this Mayor and Council not only compromise City neighbourhoods by approving inappropriate new developments, they further compromise neighbourhoods by attempting to remove essential neighbourhood facilities (e.g. Simmons Sports Centre). This City Hall sometimes also ignores its own tendering and budget procedures and cannot seem to properly protect even our most fundamental community assets (e.g. Boardwalk easements). More on all these subjects in the days ahead.

We have a fine capital city and cradle of Confederation, which cannot be compromised at every turn by a mayor and a majority [not all] of councillors who seem to have agendas very distinct from the electors they are supposed to represent. It has to stop, or at least be brought under control. We have existing media [ Guardian, CBC] who give important periodic attention to particular issues, but they provide little or no ongoing coverage/understanding so our community can grasp how far off-track City Hall is on particular issues/decisions.

Hopefully, our new “Future of Charlottetown” Facebook page can help to provide enhanced community awareness and also result in City Hall getting its act together. And we won’t just be criticizing, we’ll also be recommending solutions.

Future of Charlottetown is not meant to replace neighbourhood initiatives which oppose specific City Hall decisions/intentions. It is crucial that those neighbourhood-led initiatives continue and thrive because if the affected neighbourhood isn’t concerned, why should anyone else be? An important role of Future of Charlottetown is to support the reasonable objectives and concerns of neighbourhoods. We will also bring to light various broader issues relating to City Hall and to the healthy future of our city.

We will begin posting in the next several days with frequent posts each week, including guest posts on particular Charlottetown topics/issues. We will also be adding additional platforms to get our message/concerns out to our community and to encourage community engagement and feedback. These initiatives do not require financial support as we are all volunteers, but they will only be successful if there is strong community support for the kind of future of Charlottetown, which so many of us wish to protect and ensure. Please share in our common Future of Charlottetown.
    --Doug MacArthur on behave of "Future of Charlottetown"

This is what social media can do to inform, connect and unite people to make their world better.  Thanks to Doug MacArthur and company for this.

And a symptom of the issues that the face Charlottetown and the Island, from an opinion piece in today's Guardian; with thanks to Aimee and Michelle and others for keeping us in touch with what's going on in the rental "market"...

Reclaiming our communities:

Still calling for solutions beyond the market - The Guardian article by Aimee Power and Michelle Mahoney

Published on Friday, January 15th, 2021

Before the holidays the P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing (PEIFAH) received another call from a tenant being renovicted.

The tenant asked for anonymity, due to fear of not being able to find an apartment if landlords identify them as someone who speaks up. Since most tenants had already moved out of the building without disputing the eviction notices, the alleged renovations had already taken place in many of the apartments — simple appliance replacement and repairs which likely didn’t need the tenants to move out in the first place. The landlord had told the tenant that they wouldn’t be able to afford the new rent after the renovations — an admission of an intended illegal increase that would be above the guideline and not reviewed by the director of residential rental property.

When tenants organized the first community meeting which would result in the formation of the PEIFAH two years ago, the poster slogan was “Reclaiming our Communities. Tell your Story. Join the Movement”. The slogan would be the same today. Little has changed. P.E.I. is losing affordable housing units to renovictions and spurious evictions as fast as new units are being created. People living on small and moderate incomes are being eased out of our communities.

At the first community meetings held in 2018 and early 2019 there were repeated calls among tenants for non-profit and public housing with geared-to-income rents.

Canada (and P.E.I. with it) ranks at the bottom of the heap of developed countries for the percentage of housing which is publicly owned. On P.E.I., where families and households of all sizes and compositions face housing challenges, only seniors and families with children have historically been seriously considered for subsidized public housing leaving the majority of Island tenants dependent on the market. There are good landlords, of course. But overall, the rental housing market, driven by the need to seek a return on investment rather than the need of tenants to have a stable home, has caused much turmoil in people’s lives.

We don’t rely on the market for health care and education, for precisely those reasons … so why would we do so when it comes to housing?

It would have helped if the federal government had designed a housing strategy which provided funding for new geared-to-income nonprofit housing.

Instead, the National Housing Strategy focussed on a basketful of goodies for private developers.

Sure, there was funding for shelters and transitional housing. But these vital services do not provide affordable housing. They provide life-saving temporary shelter around the edges of the housing crisis.

Our premier has also opted to provide grants and loans to developers for rental housing.  But it looks as if true affordability is only occurring by virtue of supplements to tenants provided by the government.

These arrangements may be helpful for some in the immediate future, but they will end anytime within 12–20 years. At that time the landlords will have free rein over these valuable properties that were subsidized by public money. This is not a just solution that will benefit the community in the long term.

The PEIFAH is calling for:

• Geared-to-income nonprofit and public housing as the predominant strategy to address the housing crisis; these projects must be in the heart of our communities and have operating agreements of at least 60 years.

• An end to renovictions through amendments to the new Residential Tenancy Act.

• Restrictions on rent increases permitted through the Residential Tenancy Act for renovations.

• A public rent registry to help enforce legal rents.

• “Owner-occupied” regulation of short-term rentals.

• Maintenance standards enforced, with community oversight, through provincial inspectors independent of IRAC.

• Relocation plans and compensation for tenants who are temporarily relocated due to renovations or evicted due to demolition. Each plan created by the landlord would be approved by an Office of the Housing Planner, which would also oversee its implementation.

We will continue to advocate for an affordable housing strategy with long-term vision which combines public investment in non-profit housing with changes and innovations in the law to protect tenants’ homes.

2021 will be a busy year for tenants on P.E.I.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Rossini’s Armida, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Renée Fleming, Lawrence Brownlee, Barry Banks, John Osborn, and Kobie van Rensburg, conducted by Riccardo Frizza. From May 1, 2010.

Strauss’s Capriccio, 7:30PM until Saturday evening
From April 23, 2011. "Renée Fleming is Countess Madeleine, the beautiful, enigmatic woman at the center of Strauss’s sophisticated “Conversation Piece for Music.” She is being courted by two men: Joseph Kaiser sings the composer, Flamand, and Russell Braun is Olivier, the poet. The stellar cast also includes Peter Rose as the theater director La Roche, Sarah Connolly as the actress Clairon, and Morten Frank Larsen as the Countess’s brother. John Cox’s elegant production places the action in the 1920s. Andrew Davis conducts."

January 14, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Provincial pre-Budget Consultation, 7-7:30PM,
via Facebook Live

Facebook event link

Government announcement on consultations:

Good for government to have an evening time, though at only a half hour, you had better be prompt!

Two thoughtful, witty, and overall caring Islanders wrote letters in Tuesday's Guardian:

GUEST OPINION: Questions surround water issues - The Guardian Guest opinion by Carol Carragher

Published on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

In response to Andrea McKenna’s letter (Sustainable farming needs consistent water availability, Dec. 22). I respectfully state I am very grateful to the Island family farmers who work hard to produce our food. For many it is a way of life and passion passed on from generation to generation. However, I am not appreciative of this recent campaign by some individual farmers, and the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, claiming farmers are being unfairly denied access to irrigation water for growing our food. You say food, but perhaps potatoes might have been a more truthful word. And still more transparent might have been potatoes for processing into french fries, which have a questionable food value.

Just how are farmers being denied water? It appears holding ponds (pumping 24-7) are miraculously appearing site after site, obviously with the blessing of the government. Water is drawn from Island rivers and ponds, and then there are those grandfathered deep-water wells. Thus, some farmers have ably found their ways around the moratorium on deep-water wells. So, what is it that the public is missing regarding farmers’ (and please don’t lump all farmers together) ask for water? 

You write that there is a possibility of Island family farms (of which you claim 98 are family owned and operated) being lost due to increased demands. I ask the question, are those demands being put on family farms by large processing corporations filling a certain market such as french fries? You suggest if these family farms fall to the wayside, we need to fear corporate and foreign investors buying up Island land. I am sure you are well aware it is already happening while our government sits on the sidelines. Thus if “not many Island producers are in a financial position to invest in expansion” who are the producers financially in the position to invest in irrigation systems? Is it the large corporations you refer to buying up the land and forcing family farms out of business? I find it difficult to believe the average farmer wants to, or can afford to, invest thousands of dollars into irrigation systems when they are already facing tight margins.

Therefore, is it really family farms looking for more access to water or large corporations? If I remember correctly there was no answer to the question, how many farmers are asking for irrigation, when it was asked in the fall sitting of the legislature. It seemed not even the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture or the P.E.I. Potato Board could answer. I believe the answer is not yet available.   

As an Islander, I feel I am not being given the true facts in this water campaign, and that the majority of farmers are perhaps not being truly portrayed or represented. That is unfortunate.

Carol Carragher is a member of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Lands who lives in Cumberland.

GUEST OPINION: Disappointed and bewildered by P.E.I. budget - The Guardian Guest opinion by Wayne Carver

Published on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Liberal finance critic Heath MacDonald, a former Liberal finance minster, understated the public sentiment when he said the provincial budget was a disappointment. It would be more accurate to say the public is disappointed and bewildered. Bewildered to witness a political party that campaigned with the slogan "It's about people" then promote and increase the financial commitment to an infrastructure plan which was clearly designed to make Liberal party supporters richer, at the expense of our offspring. Most Conservative voters felt the infrastructure plan was too ambitious.

A Conservative government was elected in 2019 based on the understanding new members of the legislative assembly would investigate the sale of prime historical and publicly owned properties, to non-resident real estate investment trusts (REIT). Voters expected the new government would re-evaluate the projects and curtail the massive land grab underway in the province. Many transactions smacked of partisanship and were conducted in privacy, thanks to the understated provisions of the Municipal Government Act (MGA). By the time the public realized what was happening, investors had laid claim to many of the cherished historic and publicly owned properties in the region. The public’s confidence in the democratic process was shaken again.

The present “housing boom”, an initiative being driven by the federal and provincial governments, as they usually are, is an age-old attempt to stimulate the economy and enrich the fat cats of entitlement before the Liberal party folds. Governments have a greater influence on the housing market than any natural phenomenon. They create the demand and supply the resources by making money available to industry and financial markets. The incentive is good for the economy, when properly planned and always good for the ruling party and its supporters.

In the present circumstance here on Prince Edward Island (the same thing is happening across the nation) there seems to be confusion between between affordable housing and housing for the poor. 

Affordable housing is built by and for real estate trusts, with borrowed federal funding and easy, if not questionable access to prime properties. The MGA , enacted without a public “vote” here on the Island, clears the way for that by authorizing city council to conduct their business without public input. It also allows council to override the recommendations of the city planning board and strangely the voting process allows for a voting “abstention” to be considered as a “Yes” vote.

If city council can act on behalf of the people without public input and override the planning board, then they are not acting in the interest of the greater public good. Somehow, our elected officials have allowed due process to be hijacked by partisan politics and corporate pressures. They are acting on behalf of vested interests, not the people.  

REITs do not cater to housing crises. They are an investment trust for wealthy people. Those who have money and want to invest funds to shelter from tax and earn a return on their money.

Most people who invest in REITs know little of what is happening here on P.E.I. Contractors have access to hordes of federal infrastructure money (public debt). Creating low-profit public housing would not be priority when there is so much more profitable infrastructure funding available. Sadly, housing funds for the poor can sit in the provincial budget fund until the affordable housing funds have been depleted. In the vernacular, they have bigger fish to fry. Small wonder the provincial government is still sitting on the low-rental housing allotment.

The federal Infrastructure Canada Program is the lifeline of our current economic growth with the promises of grand things to come. Grow our economy, affordable housing, better roads, long-promised internet upgrades that might improve our .05 upload speed. Grandiose ideas leading to an uncertain future. Clearly a partisan federal government work plan designed to benefit the party stalwart. It also created the ability for the MGA to facilitate the transfer of resources to the province by approving projects under consideration. In this case, it allows the federal Liberal government to earmark every borrowed infrastructure dollar allocated, while in power.  

Spending of this nature cannot afford to be interrupted by due process.

The decision by the provincial Conservative government to enhance infrastructure spending for more roads and paving will not go down as one of the finer moments in our province's history. 

The inability of our ministers to explain clearly the goals and objectives of strategic policies suggests they had little input during the planning process. At a time when most people would expect fiscal restraint, we are charging head on into significantly more public debt. It appears the former provincial Liberal government and Ottawa have tied up all regional development for the near future. That implies the ground is shifting in our so called democracy. It begs the question, how far into the future can a sitting government make financial commitments on behalf of the electorate? All to satisfy the greed for money, the need for power and the possibility of future electoral successes.

What started out as a world vision with a global economy and economic growth for the nation has ended up as sheer bedlam. But we still have choices. 

Reform our destructive partisan political process or put the country up for a closing-out sale. We don’t have the luxury of time. If you look closely, interested parties are already at the door.

They are our creditors, for the most part, our philosophical opposites. Others, international investors interested in their financial welfare. If we do nothing, the choice will not be ours to make.

Wayne Carver is a member of Vision P.E.I. who lives in Longcreek.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, today until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Renée Fleming, Christine Schäfer, Susan Graham, Eric Cutler, Thomas Allen, and Kristinn Sigmundsson, conducted by Edo de Waart. From January 9, 2010.

Rossini’s Armida, tonight 7:30Pm until Friday at 6:30PM
 From May 1, 2010. "It is a rare opera indeed that calls for one soprano diva and no fewer than six tenors....the perfect setting for superstar Renée Fleming’s captivating performance of the title role. A beautiful but evil sorceress in the times of the Crusades, Armida sets out to regain the love of the Frankish knight Rinaldo (Lawrence Brownlee) by putting her magical spells on him. She at first succeeds to draw him into her web of sorcery, but ultimately divine intervention—and his fellow soldiers—free Rinaldo from his enchantment—much to the vengeful fury of Armida and her demons."  Good golly!

Interesting advice for interesting times:

"No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrown them."

   ---Linus, a character in a Charles Schulz' Peanuts cartoon

January 13, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Local Food:
EatLocalPEI order deadline tonight-- more info at:

Standing Committee meeting on Health and Social Development, 1:30PM, on line.

Topic: Housing

The committee will meet to (receive) a briefing on housing matters from the Department of Social Development and Housing. Deputy Minister, David Keedwell and Director of Housing Services, Sonya Cobb

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

Winter Bird Identification Webinar, 7PM, hosted by Nature Trust of New Brunswick Nature

While many birds migrate south in the fall, there are several species of birds that stick around New Brunswick through its harsh Canadian winter. Join the Nature Trust and Nature NB on Wednesday, January 13th for a free, family-friendly webinar about winter birding.

During this 1-hour webinar, you will learn how to identify woodpeckers, owls, and more by their field marks and calls, and best practices for birding in the winter.

Space is limited, so please register by clicking the registration link.

This webinar is a part of our digital Passport to Nature, a series of educational webinars and videos created with you in mind, whether you are new to the outdoors or an avid outdoor explorer. The Passport to Nature is proudly sponsored by the Alcool NB Liquor Community Foundation.

*If you cannot attend this webinar live, a recording will be available

Facebook event link

I had the wrong links in the blurb about the call for public comment on a management plan for the Skmaqn-Port-la-Joye - Ft. Amherst National Historic Site, in yesterday's newsletter.

Information and submission webpage:

Overview YouTube on the Park: (really pretty, three minute video) 

The deadline is Wednesday, March 31st, 2021.

  Thanks to those who pointed this out, and sorry about that.

Woolly bear weighs in on winter weather - Saltwire column by Cindy Day, Saltwire meteorologist

Published on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

Weather lore has been around for a very long time; you’ll find fine examples scattered throughout the calendar.

When it comes to getting signals from nature, fall is the most prolific season.

I’m not sure why that is, but I suspect it might have something to do with the fact that as temperatures begin to drop, many of us get curious about the upcoming winter.

Last September, Karen Jensen sent in this photo of a woolly bear caterpillar and wanted to know if my long-term forecasts agreed with the fuzzy little fella.

Then, early this month, Keith Kingbury was surprised to see this caterpillar out of hibernation in Middle Musquodoboit, N.S.

According to folklore, the amount of black on the woolly bear varies proportionately with the severity of the coming winter in the area where the caterpillar is found. The longer the woolly bear’s black bands, the longer, colder, snowier, and more severe the winter will be. Similarly, the wider the middle brown band is the milder the upcoming winter should be.

Many of you probably already knew that, but did you know that the position of the longest dark bands supposedly indicates which part of winter will be coldest or hardest? If the head end of the caterpillar is dark, the beginning of winter will be severe; if the tail end is dark, the end of winter will be cold.

Grandma also believed that a woolly bear caterpillar’s coat pointed to the upcoming winter’s severity: a very woolly was a sign of a cold winter ahead.

This last bit of information is interesting too: the woolly bear caterpillar has 13 segments to its body, which traditional forecasters say correspond to the 13 weeks of winter.

I don’t like to debunk something so cute and fun, but it appears the length of the stripes on the caterpillar has less to do with the winter ahead and more to do with the spring that just passed. If spring was cool and wet, the caterpillar got a late start and would have fewer brown hairs. So, the band does tell you something about the weather. The only thing is, it’s telling you about last spring’s weather.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Massenet’s Thaïs, today until 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Michael Schade, and Thomas Hampson, conducted by Jesús López-Cobos. From December 20, 2008.

Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, tonight 7:30PM until Thursday about 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Christine Schäfer, Susan Graham, Eric Cutler, Thomas Allen, and Kristinn Sigmundsson, conducted by Edo de Waart. From January 9, 2010.

Extra content about "Renee Fleming Week" at:

a beautiful poem, passed on by the beautiful Julain Molnar:

Antidotes to Fear of Death
Rebecca Elson

Sometimes as an antidote
To fear of death,
I eat the stars.

Those nights, lying on my back,
I suck them from the quenching dark
Til they are all, all inside me,
Pepper hot and sharp.

Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
Into a universe still young,
Still warm as blood:

No outer space, just space,
The light of all the not yet stars
Drifting like a bright mist,
And all of us, and everything
Already there
But unconstrained by form.

And sometime it’s enough
To lie down here on earth
Beside our long ancestral bones:

To walk across the cobble fields
Of our discarded skulls,
Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
Thinking: whatever left these husks
Flew off on bright wings.

Rebecca Elson (1960-1999) was a Canadian-American astronomer who wrote a book of poems titled A Responsibility to Awe. In her poems, she expressed the wonder she felt for her own existence and for the universe she had spent her life studying and writing about in academic papers.

January 12, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Lots of events (virtual) and notices today!

Local Food Ordering Deadline:
Charlottetown Farmers' Market 2 GO,
(CFM2GO) deadline noon today.
pickup: Thursday, 3-6PM, Charlottetown Farmers Market
OR (new) Stratford Town Hall, 5-6PM

Legislative Committee meetings:
Public Accounts Committee Meeting, 9:30AM

Topic: Briefings on the PEI Liquor Control Commission and PEI Cannabis Management Corporation

The committee will meet to receive briefings on the operations, programming, strategic planning and financial management of the PEI Liquor Control Commission and the PEI Cannabis Management Corporation, by representatives of the Commission and the Corporation.

The Hon. George Coles Building remains closed to the public. The meeting will be live-streamed on the Legislative Assembly’s website and Facebook page.

Standing Committee on Education and Economic Growth, 1:30PM
Topic: Consideration of the committee's work plan

Watch Live:
P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website

P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Facebook page link

Presumably, there will be a Tuesday COVID-19 Briefing from Dr. Heather Morrison and Premier Denny King, perhaps around 11:30AM.  Sometimes there are details and livestreaming here:
Provincial Budget "Town Hall" consultations and your public input:
Today, Tuesday, January 12th:
Town Hall, 2-4PM, Registration required

(902) 368-5501 or email

Simultaneous translation will be available.

Renters' Rights and Responsibilities Workshop, 6PM, online.
  Sponsored by EXIT Realty and Community Legal Information
Facebook event details


Deadline: Friday, January 15th:
Provincial Annual Environmental Change-makers Awards Nominations due
There are three award categories: individual, organization and school.
More info:
Environmental Award Nominations page:
or by phone 902 368-5024.

Saturday, January 23rd: but register early as supplies may be limited
Annual Birdfeeder Making Workshop, 10AM, online. Sponsored by the Stratford Area Watershed Group. Kits will be delivered. 
Suggested donation: $20
To register call 902-367-3605 or email

Deadline: Wednesday, March 31st, 2021: Public consultation on Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site - The Guardian

Published on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021, in The Guardian (edited)

Parks Canada has prepared a draft management plan for Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site (NHS) and is inviting the public to share views, opinions and ideas on the future of the site.

The draft plan was prepared following preliminary discussions with key partners and stakeholders.

Public consultations will primarily take place virtually through web-based technology....All Canadians are encouraged to participate to make these consultations full and meaningful.
Click on to watch a short video that introduces the site and management planning process.

Parks Canada Management Plans are forward-looking, results-based documents that provide a vision of a site at its future best and the strategies for getting there. They are broad and strategic documents that identify the desired outcome – through key strategies, objectives and targets – while providing flexibility to select the required actions over time, in response to evolving circumstances.

Once finalized, this management plan will guide Parks Canada’s decisions and actions in protecting, presenting and operating Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst NHS over the next 10 years.

The draft management plan is available for review online.
Members of the public are invited to review the draft plan and then

  • respond to our online comment card. This is the simplest and most direct way to provide input to the planning process.

  • Alternatively, comments can be emailed to or

  • sent by post to Public Consultations – SPLJFA NHS, Parks Canada Agency, 2 Palmers Ln., Charlottetown, P.E.I., C1A 5V8.

Comments will be received until March 31.

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, today until 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Susanne Mentzer, Dwayne Croft, and Bryn Terfel. From November 11, 1998.

Massenet’s Thaïs, tonight 7:30PM until Wednesday about 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Michael Schade, and Thomas Hampson, conducted by Jesús López-Cobos. From December 20, 2008.

“Earth is ancient now, but all knowledge is stored up in her. She keeps a record of everything that has happened since time began. Of time before time, she says little, and in a language that no one has yet understood. Through time, her secret codes have gradually been broken. Her mud and lava is a message from the past.  Of time to come, she says much, but who listens?”

      -- Jeanette Winterson, author

January 11, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Some local food options this week:

EatLocalPEI --
Order by Wednesday night
for pickup on Saturday 12-6pm,
delivery on Saturday 4-7pm,
or pickup on Sunday 12-4pm

Charlottetown Farmers' Market to Go order Tuesday by noon for Thursday afternoon pick-up

Heart Beet Organics / The Farmacy is reopening tomorrow, 152 Great George Street.
This afternoon:
City of Charlottetown Regular Council Meeting, 5PM
, City Hall (2nd Floor, limit of 15 visitors) and virtually.
Livestream link
Agenda link

if anyone knows of items being discussed at the meeting that readers of the CA News would be interested in hearing about, please let me know.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 12th:
Renters' Rights and Responsibilities Virtual Workshop, 7PM, free but pre-registration encouraged

"The Tenant Support Centre, a project of Community Legal Information, is offering an information workshop for tenants on PEI. The workshop will cover your rights and responsibilities as a tenant as well as your landlord’s rights and responsibilities.

Join us on Monday, January 12th via Zoom as David McQuillan, the Tenant Support Worker from Community Legal Information, discusses information on rental law on PEI and takes questions from Island tenants."
See the Facebook event link to RSVP for the Zoom link.

Community Legal Information appears to have dropped the "Association" from their name, which confused me a bit, as I always associate (ha!) them with being called "CLIA".

More info on Community Legal Information:

from this morning's Guardian:

CHEERS to an engaged population who are considering the best course for water management in P.E.I. This newspaper has hosted on our opinion pages advocates for the current moratorium on high-capacity wells who thoughtfully lay out arguments for preserving the Island's water supply. Increasingly, we have published articles from small family farms who say they never want to compromise Islanders' access to water but they worry that the hotter, drier growing seasons spell disaster for our supply of food. Decisions concerning P.E.I.'s water act are ones we absolutely cannot get wrong, and we are heartened there are so many Islanders studying the issue and sharing their views with our readers.

Doug MacArthur on The Family Farm

SUPPORT THE FAMILY FARM - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, January 9th, 2021

There are many things I do not know. But, there is one thing I know for sure. The family farm is the bedrock foundation of PEI, and that foundation must be protected and nurtured by all Islanders. And it needs to happen now, not kicked down the road by well-meaning people and politicians.

As an economist, I know that agriculture, despite all the challenges it has faced, continues to be the economic engine and brand that drives our PEI economy, not only directly, but because of the many other goods and services it supports. As an Islander, I know that the family farm provides the wonderful rural landscape and sense of community that captivates both Islanders and tourists and which helps define who we are as a people. As a parent, I know and appreciate that the PEI family farm doesn't just raise great livestock and grows great crops, it also raises and grows great young people who go on to become leaders in their community and beyond. There is no other segment of our PEI society which makes a greater contribution to PEI economically, environmentally, and socially than the family farm.

Family farming in PEI is facing ever-increasing challenges, including climate change, and particularly availability of water. We must address the water issue without delay, despite the complexity of the problem. I hear the voices of respected environmentalists who are very concerned about deep water wells and related issues. I also hear the concerns of farmers who cannot afford to continue to incur the recent losses they have suffered because of drought conditions they couldn't remedy. Overlaying all of this is the issue of the scale of farming, specifically what is the distinction between a family farm and industrial/corporate farming and what level of support can/should we provide to each.

PEI's response to COVID-19 and to other major issues over the years has shown how fast and effectively we can deal with a major, time-sensitive issue when the need arises. It will take the leadership of our provincial elected officials, plus the input, goodwill and common cause of Islanders to effectively address the way forward for PEI agriculture and particularly our family farms, but it needs to be done without delay. We must do everything possible to protect our family farms and we need to get at it.

Doug MacArthur, Charlottetown


Atlantic Skies for January 11th - January 17th, 2021 - by Glenn K. Roberts

Viewing the Moon

As we all know, the Moon is the brightest object in the night sky. Visible in some variance of its phases, the Moon can, weather permitting, be viewed (except at the time of its New Moon phase) any night throughout the year, thus making it an ideal object for observation, either with a telescope or a set of binoculars. Although people typically divide the Moon's phases into four - First Quarter, Full, Last Quarter, and New, there are two other varying phases - crescent and gibbous - that occur between the four noted phases. As the Moon moves out from between the Earth and the Sun (when it is at its New Moon phase) on its monthly orbit around the planet, sunlight begins to illuminate the western (right-hand) edge of the Moon's surface facing towards Earth. Remember, we only see one face or side of the Moon, due to it being "tidally locked" - the spinning period of the Moon is (almost) the same that it takes for the Moon to orbit around the Earth in the course of a month. Depending on the Moon' position in the evening sky, this extremely thin crescent (referred to as a "young" Moon) of sun-lit lunar surface can sometimes be seen (leading to the phrase "the Old Moon in the New Moon's arms"). The slowly increasing crescent is called a "waxing crescent" Moon. The soft glow on the barely visible dark portion of the Moon is referred to as "earthshine" - sunlight reflecting off the Earth's sun-lit side and hitting the un-lit portion of the Moon's face pointed towards Earth; as the sun-lit portion of the Moon increases,"earthshine" becomes harder to see.

As the Moon continues its orbit around the Earth, each subsequent night illuminates more of the lunar surface, increasing the size of the crescent until half of the lunar surface is illuminated - the First Quarter phase. As the illuminated portion continues to grow (from right to left), it is referred to as a "waxing gibbous" Moon, until the entire surface of the face of the Moon oriented towards Earth is illuminated, reaching the Full Moon phase. After the Full Moon phase, the entire process begins again, only in reverse, with the Moon's western (right-hand) edge beginning to fall into shadow (that part of the Moon that doesn't receive any sunlight as it orbits around the Earth). As the sun-lit portion decreases ("wanes"), and the shadow portion (moving from right to left) covers more and more of the lunar surface, the phases are reversed, with a "waning gibbous" Moon (sun-lit portion still largest), followed by the Last Quarter Moon (lunar surface equally divided between sunlight (on the left) and shadow (on the right), then the "waning crescent" Moon (on the left), and finally back to the New Moon (none of the lunar surface facing Earth is illuminated).  There is an incredible array of lunar features to be seen when viewing the Moon. However, unless using a "lunar filter", which reduces the amount of sunlight striking your eye through your telescope, looking at the Full Moon is usually not a good time to observe it, as viewing the full-lit lunar surface through your scope or binoculars is comparable to looking into a flashlight. The best time to view the Moon is at or just past the First Quarter phase, at or just before the Last Quarter phase, or around the time of the crescent phases. Lunar features (mountains, valleys, rifts, and craters) are best seen when the Sun's light strikes these features at a low angle (versus directly on, as at Full Moon), creating clear, sharply defined areas of light and dark. Some of the more prominent and famous lunar features are the impact craters Copernicus (left side of Moon) and Kepler (to the left of Copernicus); the Apennine Mountains (in the north, between Mare Imbrium - Latin for "Sea of Rains") and Mare Serenitatis ("Sea of Serenity"); the Alpine Valley (north central area); the Caucasus Mountains (along the northern edge of Mare Serenitatis); Mare Tranquillitatis ("Sea of Tranquility", where Apollo 11, the first manned landing on the Moon took place on July 20, 1969); Mare Frigoris ("Sea of Cold", in the north); and the heavily cratered area in the south between Mare Nubium ("Sea of, Clouds", on the left) and Mare Nectaris ("Sea of  Nectar", on the right). A good lunar map (go on-line) will show countless other geographical features of the Moon, enough to keep you interested and occupied for months. If you haven't looked at the Moon through a telescope or binoculars, you should give it a try some clear night; you'll be amazed at what can be seen on the surface of our nearest celestial neighbour.

Venus (mag. -3.9) is visible in the southeast pre-dawn sky for a short while this week. Look for the thin, crescent Moon to the right of Venus on the morning of Jan.11 as the planet rises around 6:40 a.m.  Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn continue to put on a show this coming week. On Jan. 11, look for the three planets low above the southwest horizon just after sunset (around 5:20 p.m.), with Jupiter (mag. -1.9) the brightest of the three, Mercury (mag. +1.5) to the lower left, and Saturn (mag. +0.6) to the lower right. On the 15th, the three planets will form a shallow arc above the southwest horizon just after sunset, with Mercury now the uppermost  planet. As the planets are fairly low in the sky, they may be hard to see in the post-sunset glow; an unobstructed view of the horizon, and a set of binoculars would greatly assist in locating the planets before they set. A great photo op presents itself on the evening of Jan.14, with a young crescent Moon near the planets.

Until next week, clear skies.


Jan. 11 - Crescent Moon to right of Venus (low in SE, pre-dawn) -- this morning, if it is clear, go check!

        13 - New Moon

        14 - Thin crescent Moon near Mercury and Jupiter (low in SW, post-sunset)

        15 - Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn form arc (low in SW; post-sunset)


I read this mnemonic in Highlights  for Children magazine when my kids were small and use it all the time, especially when cloudy nights prevent seeing the pattern of moon phases (Absolutely awful for dyslexics, sorry, but works for some people):

Holding one's index finger vertically against the crescent (or gibbous!) moon, the "baby" or waxing moon will form a lower-case "b", and the "dying" moon will form a lower-case "d". 

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Verdi’s Il Trovatore, until 6:30PM today
Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Marcelo Álvarez, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Stefan Kocán, conducted by Marco Armiliato. From April 30, 2011.

This week's livestream theme is all soprano Renee Fleming classics!
Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, tonight 7:30PM until Tuesday about 6:30PM
Starring Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Susanne Mentzer, Dwayne Croft, and Bryn Terfel. From November 11, 1998. It's called "the performance for the record books" due to the talented cast!

thanks to Viki Gregory, sharing a quote from 350 Canada:

"Remember this: We be many and they be few."
     --- Arundhati Roy, author

Action is the antidote to despair, so join us!

January 10, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


CBC's Sunday Magazine  (new name for Sunday Edition radio public affairs show) is sure to be interesting this week, 9-11AM, CBC Radio 96.1FM
More content and listen link on-line:
International and national political affairs will be discussed on:
Rosemary Barton Live (12noon-12:30PM) and Question Period (12noon-1PM), on local TV stations (CBC and CTV, respectively)
A bit more on the white whale and those mixed up in the story....

Visualizing Melville: An exhibition of Words, Ideas, Images, and Objects
11AM (AT)
, via Zoom.
Michael P. Dyer, the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Curator of Maritime History, parallels the text of Moby-Dick and of other Melville books with artworks that bring the text into a more interpretive, more subjective, visual experience.
Click here to join

Some events this week:

Provincial Pre-budget input requested
from the government website:

All pre-budget consultations will be virtual this year and include the following:

  • A virtual town hall on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, from 2-4PM with simultaneous translation in both official languages.  Participants are required to register in advance by calling (902) 368-5501 or by emailing to confirm their attendance.

  • An open Facebook Live event on the Government of PEI Facebook page on Thursday, January 14, 2021, at 7PM until approximately 7:30PM (!) with ASL interpretation provided.  Registration is not required for this event.

  • Islanders can also continue to submit their ideas and input at: Pre-Budget Consultations for the 2021-2022 Operating Budget.

For more information on pre-budget consultations, visit: Pre-Budget Consultations for the 2021-2022 Operating Budget.


local article:

P.E.I. man hopes his new project inspires people to 'change their tune' on issues like climate change - CBC online post by Sara Fraser

Published on Saturday, January 9th, 2021

It's always been a dream of Ryan Elliot Drew's to have his name associated with National Geographic, and now at just 23, the music educator from Prince Edward Island has already won a grant for more than $10,000 from the prestigious society. 

Drew will use the money to research and create an interactive website, what he calls a "virtual education hub," for educators of students kindergarten to Grade 6, about the intersection of arts and the changing natural world. 

"The conventional stream of education does wonders for many students, but really, there needs to be adaptive solutions to a lot of the issues that we face in today's world," Drew said in an interview from his home in Charlottetown. 

"This in the end becomes a global resource that becomes something that I would like to be used by educators outside of our province, even outside of our country," he said. "The pandemic has sparked a lot of this, but these are conversations that are long overdue." 

The National Geographic Society launched what it called an "emergency fund" for educators to develop instructional resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drew's is one of several grants of about $1,300 to $10,000 the society is giving to educators to design instructional resources "that help educators effectively teach in in-person, remote, or hybrid learning environments during this pandemic," according to its request for proposals. It added that priority would be given to educators working in communities particularly hard hit by the pandemic. 

'Always dreamed of working with'

Drew is the educational outreach co-ordinator for the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra, and is also a teaching artist with the National Arts Centre's Music Alive program, a youth music program that celebrates and helps give a voice to Canada's diverse communities and Indigenous cultures. He has a bachelor's degree in percussion from UPEI, and just last week wrapped up a master's degree in global affairs hosted by Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid. 

He said he keeps his eye out for grants based on his interests, and when this fall he saw the applications online from National Geographic, he jumped at the chance to further educate people about where his favourite subjects — arts and global affairs — intersect.

He pitched them a project tentatively titled Terra Inspira, which will look at ways the natural world inspires artists including musicians, fine artists, dancers, poets and others, and in turn how that art inspires others to make a positive change in the world. Put a different way, it will look at the interplay between arts and environmental sustainability or climate change.

"I've always been an artist, myself," Drew said. "And then more recently, I did graduate work in the field of global affairs — which are two very different fields that at first glance don't necessarily have a lot of overlap. Something I'm quite passionate about is saying, how can we take music and art and how can we relate them to contemporary real issues that face the world population today?" 

A few weeks ago, Drew received an email telling him his application had been approved. 

"I was incredibly excited," he said. "This is an organization that I've always dreamed of working with, so being able to have their name attached to anything I've been able to work on, it really is amazing."

Besides the prestige, Drew said his goal is to have a positive effect on the world. 

"So if the time that I put into this leads to a product, or at least starts a conversation about, two different thematic areas that are often not talked about together, then I'm happy with that. I'm extremely excited." 

Tuning Into Nature

Music and nature have already overlapped in a project Drew helped create this past fall — Tuning Into Nature in October featured musicians playing music inspired by nature and placed at points along a trail beside the Tryon River.

Guitarist, composer and music educator Jennifer Barrett, seen here participating in Tuning Into Nature, is Ryan Drew's mother. He credits her with helping him come up with the project name Terra Inspira. (Shannon Barrett)

Islanders were invited to walk along the trail and listen as the music from a trombone player at one station blended with a guitar at another, then a saxophone at the next, and so on, as well as the sights, sounds and scents of nature around them. It was held in conjunction with Island Nature Trust, bringing together volunteers from P.E.I.'s music and nature conservation worlds to quite literally create a conversation about the interplay between the arts and nature on P.E.I.

Drew's new project will continue that conversation on a global scale, he said. 

The resources he and other educators create will be shared through National Geographic's website.  

Drew will use the money to pay himself a salary for the extensive research, pay a web developer and videographer-editor, and consultant's fees. He'll start with a review of existing literature and recent projects on similar themes. 

Whereas in other years he might have used some of the grant money to travel to interview musicians in person, his work will need to be produced virtually due to COVID-19.

Inspire people to 'change their tunes'? 

His vision at the outset of this project is subject to change based on what his research discovers, he said, but is to create an interactive world map on which users can see video from artists from around the world showing their work and talking about how the changing natural world influences it. He's seeking diverse responses, and said he plans to pay special attention to Indigenous cultures, including P.E.I.'s Mi'kmaq culture, which is influenced greatly by nature.

"In the end, what I would love to be able to do is have students learn, say perhaps on a computer screen if they have access to it, and to be able to take what they've learned and apply it to the outdoor world in a way that removes them from the computer screen," he said. 

While the focus is still "a little messy at this point," Drew said with his research over the next few months the direction will become clearer. 

He said the global arts community is very connected, and he already has several artists on his list he plans to ask to be part of the project.   

Can music and other forms of art really inspire people to "change their tunes" when it comes to important world issues? 

Drew believes it is possible. He plans to complete the project in June or July. 


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, until 6:30PM Sunday
Starring Elza van den Heever, Joyce DiDonato, Matthew Polenzani, Joshua Hopkins, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From January 19, 2013.

Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Sunday 7:30PM until Monday about 6:30PM
Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Marcelo Álvarez, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Stefan Kocán, conducted by Marco Armiliato. From April 30, 2011.

Mistaken identity, buried family secrets, a love triangle...and the familiar "Anvil Chorus" which opens the second act.

Something good to keep in mind:

"...I believe without any doubt at all that our greatest good fortune was that even in the most extreme difficulties we might lose our patience but never our sense of humor."

   ---Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014) Colombian novelist

January 9, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

Back to winter hours of being open Saturdays!
Something completely different...

New Bedford Whaling Museum Moby Dick Read-A-Thon, beginning online at 12:30PM our time today. 

"Join us for the 25th anniversary of the annual readathon of America’s most iconic novel, Moby-Dick. An experience you don’t want to miss, you’ll relive the famous, action-packed narrative and be transported back in time on the search for the elusive white whale....
The marathon is free to watch and will not require a password. You may need to refresh your browser at 11:30 am on Saturday."
Trivia game and other activities at the link.

details here:

The people at Project Drawdown, though based in the U.S., work world-wide on fighting climate change, and sent an open letter to supporters yesterday (with additional comments about the particular situation in the U.S. and some demands for action).

These excerpts resonated:

"....At Project Drawdown, we stand with those who believe in decency, democracy, and building a better future. We stand for a future that is more just, more equitable, and more sustainable. This is a future worth fighting for.....

We also ask you, our friends and allies, to join us in redoubling our efforts to repair (the United States) and our world. Offer your friends, family, and colleagues extra support during this difficult time.

The linked issues of social justice, anti-racism, and climate change demand that we act boldly—supported by science and facts, guided by empathy and a sense of social justice, and powered by an unwavering commitment to the future."

Jonathan Foley, Ph.D., Executive Director, Project Drawdown


The Council of Canadians also sent an open letter, also tying together events in the United States, background on those issues, and similar issues (social inequities and climate justice) in Canada.
Full letter here (LINK only):

from Islander and freelance journalist Zack Metcalfe:  

Take two hikes and call me in the morning - The National Observer article by Zack Metcalfe

Dr. Melissa Lem has long been prescribing doses of nature to improve her patients' mental and physical health. Now, she's helped design Canada’s first large-scale nature prescription program, allowing health-care practitioners to formally prescribe time outdoors.

Published on Monday, December 7th 2020

Canada’s first large-scale nature prescription program just launched in British Columbia, empowering health-care practitioners to formally prescribe time outdoors for the physical and mental health of patients.

Dr. Melissa Lem is a family physician in Vancouver who has embraced the mounting evidence linking time spent in nature to health. She has been informally advising natural outings to her patients for more than a decade.

Now, at long last, she is able to prescribe the measure formally, which has been shown to improve the odds patients will take the order seriously. Doctors won’t yet be paid for dispensing these prescriptions, so for now, their power is in their accessibility and persuasiveness.

Lem’s first prescription for nature, some 10 years ago, was to a young man struggling with ADHD at the University of Toronto. Now she prescribes it for a growing suite of conditions.

“We’ve broadened the kinds of patients we can, in an evidence-based way, prescribe nature to,” she said, listing mental, heart, lung and immune health in particular. Side-effects may include greater longevity, increased energy, improved pain management and the bettering of mood, among many other benefits.

Lem has been developing this nature prescription program for two years now in her volunteer role with the BC Parks Foundation, the charitable arm of B.C.’s provincial park network. As temperatures drop, COVID-19 lockdowns persist and Canadians prepare themselves for the loneliest winter in a century, she decided it was time to launch the initiative to address the mental health of British Columbians.

“Over the summer,” she recalls, “when the wildfire smoke from the United States drifted up here, I really saw the number of phone calls and patient appointments — for anxiety, for stress, for depression — skyrocket. It was incredible, actually. When that nature outlet was taken away from people (by the smoke), that’s when stress really rose.”

Prescriptions for nature became available through this program at the end of last month, and their availability will improve as more health-care practitioners sign up for the prescription packages, which include fact sheets, relevant literature and a unique provider code. This can be done on the program’s website.

In the coming months, Lem intends to expand the program to other provinces and territories, forging partnerships between health-care and parks organizations and sharing the resources she has spent years collecting. Until then, she said health-care providers outside B.C. can sign up in advance and will get their prescription packages when the program reaches them.

Each province will have to structure theirs differently, she said. Residents of B.C. have exceptional access to natural spaces compared to those living in other parts of Canada because its provincial park network has no entry fees. Nature prescriptions elsewhere will likely incorporate free park access, in theory from partnering parks, and perhaps some form of public transit assistance, potentially from participating municipalities, removing as many barriers to the fulfilment of these prescriptions as possible.

Dr. Melissa Lem is a B.C. physician who prescribes doses of nature to her patients. Photo submitted by Melissa Lem

“Outside is one of the safest places to be right now,” said Lem, referencing the exceptional ventilation atop Stawamus Chief Mountain, for example, as well as its social-distancing potential.

Partnering organizations in her program’s launch include BC Family Doctors, Nurse Practitioners of BC, the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment and, of course, the BC Parks Foundation. It only takes two hours a week, said Lem, for at least 30 minutes per outing, to make a measurable difference in someone’s mental health.

“I see nature as an essential health service for all Canadians and I think bringing together parks organizations and health-care organizations to create initiatives like this is incredibly important,” she said.

Dr. Lem is far from the only health-care practitioner to prescribe nature for patients. Small pilot programs have been gaining ground across the country, like those promoting well-being among low-income residents of Wasaga Beach, Ont.; managing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces on P.E.I.; and bolstering the general health of Newfoundlanders with a partnership between Western Health, a provincial public health authority, and nearby Gros Morne National Park.

The health benefits of time spent in nature have been the subject of intense study in recent years, and have proven to be broad. The largest meta-analysis of its kind, including data from 143 studies internationally and published in the journal Environmental Research in 2018, concluded that increased green space exposure was associated with decreased cortisol (stress) levels, heart rate, diastolic blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, risk of pre-term birth, Type 2 diabetes and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, and increased incidence of good self-reported health.

And new studies continue to reinforce past results. Lem references a study published in the journal Science Advances in October in which the playgrounds of 36 Finnish daycare children were transformed from being primarily gravel-based to primarily nature-based (forest floor, sod, planters for growing annuals and peat blocks for climbing and digging).

After 28 days in this wilder setting, the children's skin and gut microbiota became more robust and diverse, while markers of immune health and anti-inflammatory function surged. Getting results like this for health-care practitioners in B.C., said Lem, is a major goal of her program.

“To get the benefits of nature, you don’t need to be in old-growth forest far away from other people or on the side of a mountain. There is research showing that what matters is that you feel you’ve had a meaningful experience with nature,” said Lem, suggesting everything from backyard gardens to urban green space.

“I think there’s a lot of power in your health-care professional recommending nature to you,” she said. “Nature and health are having a major moment right now. I think nature prescriptions are what Canadian health care needs to heal and emerge from COVID-19 with resilience.”

Zack Metcalfe is a freelance journalist, columnist and author based in the Maritimes.


Metropolitan Opera Saturday Afternoon pre-recorded radio performance: 2PM, CBC Radio Music 104.7FM
Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Performance from April 26, 2007
Maurizio Benini; Joyce DiDonato (Rosina), Claudia Waite (Berta), Lawrence Brownlee (Count Almaviva), Russell Braun (Figaro), John Del Carlo (Dr. Bartolo), Samuel Ramey (Don Basilio)

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, today until 6:30PM
Starring Eva-Maria Westbroek, Jane Bunnell, Marcelo Álvarez, George Gagnidze; Patricia Racette, Marcelo Álvarez, George Gagnidze, and Lucas Meachem, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From April 25, 2015. Tragic , tragic, tragic.

Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, tonight 7:30PM until 6:30PM Sunday
Starring Elza van den Heever, Joyce DiDonato, Matthew Polenzani, Joshua Hopkins, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From January 19, 2013.  How horrible Queen Elizabeth I is to poor Mary Stuart!  But everyone sings so sweetly!

from someone who would very likely not be removed from Facebook....

Despite all of the ghastliness in the world, human beings are made for goodness. The ones that are held in high regard are not militarily powerful, nor even economically prosperous. They have a commitment to try and make the world a better place.

    --- Archbishop Desmund Tutu, from his official Facebook page, Friday, January 10th, 2014

January 8, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Fridays4Future demonstration, 3:30PM, Province House (Grafton and Great George side).  New year, and climate change targets to be met, and politicians to be reminded.
an article with a short video from Greta Thunberg, who started the Fridays4Future movement, from Common Dreams, here:

How to save the world in 6 books: top climate leaders share their 2020 reads: Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Katharine Hayhoe, Seth Klein choose books that offer hope for the planet - CBC online post by Jennifer Van Evra

Posted on Thursday, December 24th, 2020

For most people, this holiday season is quieter than ever, and many are looking for fascinating reads over the holidays — as well as glimmers of hope for the future.

So what were top climate leaders reading this year? What On Earth turned to six experts and advocates to find out what releases they recommend.

From a collection of essays by 50 climate leaders to a book that challenges Canadians to mobilize as they did during World War II, their offerings are inspiring, thought-provoking, and provide solutions for a better climate future.

They also include titles from legendary environmental and human rights advocate Sheila Watt-Cloutier, internationally renowned author Naomi Klein, youth author Jamie Bastedo and more.

You can also hear the authors speak about the books with What On Earth host Laura Lynch by clicking Listen (PODCAST AT LINK)

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis
Editors: Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
Released: 2020
Recommended by: Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist at Texas Tech University

Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe recommends All We Can Save, a collection of essays from more than 50 climate leaders — among them scientists, artists, lawyers, architects and businesspeople — that was named among the 10 best science books of the year by Smithsonian magazine.

Women and children are uniquely vulnerable to climate impacts, says Hayhoe, so incorporating their ideas into traditionally male-dominated realms can broaden the scope of solutions.

Quoting both Johnson and Wilkinson, Hayhoe says "The climate crisis is a leadership crisis. So how insane is it to leave at least half the brain power out of the conversation?"  

"And perhaps most importantly, I love this book because in a day and age when it seems our society is fragmenting into smaller and smaller pieces, this book is a call to come together over what matters most" said Hayhoe in an interview for What On Earth.

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore
Author: Elizabeth Rush
Released: 2018
Recommended by: Leah Stokes, University of California Santa Barbara assistant professor specializing in energy, climate and environmental politics

University of California assistant professor Leah Stokes was a contributor to All We Can Save, and she agrees that broadening the climate conversation to include women, low-income communities, communities of colour, and other people who are directly affected by climate change is essential to securing significant and lasting change.

Stokes also runs a book club on Twitter called the Climate Book Club, and the Pulitzer-shortlisted book Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore was one of her recommendations.

"It's a nonfiction book about what it's like on the coastlines all across the United States, and how sea level rise has already shaped reshaping landscapes, communities, people, livelihoods," she says.

"A really beautiful read, wonderfully written."

A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for a Climate Emergency
Author: Seth Klein
Released: 2020
Recommended by: Severn Cullis-Suzuki, activist, author and David Suzuki Foundation incoming executive director

Even to committed environmentalists, climate change can seem like a unsolvable existential threat — but in his new book A Good War, author Seth Klein argues that Canadians have risen to a similarly daunting challenge, and they can use the same strategies to tackle the climate crisis.

"In World War II, Canada rose to the occasion. How? By transforming its economy and rallying all Canadians to be part of stopping a force that threaten the world," says Cullis-Suzuki in an interview with What On Earth.

"Totally recommended for anyone who doubts that Canada has a capacity to confront a massive threat like climate change. Yes, we can — because we've done it before."

Klein argues that during World War II, Canada ramped up military production, and in the space of just six years, produced 800,000 military vehicles — more than Germany, Italy and Japan combined — as well as 16,000 military aircraft and 700 ships.

And it all happened at a time, like now, when nobody knew what the future would look like.

"It actually took leadership and ubiquitous messaging to get the public on board and ultimately, to rally everyone for the kind of mobilization that was necessary," said author Seth Klein in an interview with Lynch.

The curse of climate change, he adds, is that it moves in relatively slow motion, which can make the threat seem far away.

"But I think the terrain has actually shifted quite a lot in the last two years, where climate has moved from being a threat sometime in the future, somewhere else, to here and now."

On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal
Author: Naomi Klein
Released: 2020
Recommended by: Seth Klein, author and public policy researcher and consultant

When it comes to his own book recommendation, Seth Klein keeps it in the family with his sister's new book On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal.

The book by Naomi Klein — author of bestsellers including The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate — looks at how climate change has moved from a far-off threat to a burning emergency and asks, "What would it take to put that fire out?"

In the collection, which pairs past essays with new pieces, Klein argues that the Green New Deal offers a practical path for tackling the climate crisis and economic inequality.

"I know I'm biased, but it's also true for anyone who wants to know how that struggle is unfolding. My story is a very Canadian story," said Seth, referring to his new book A Good War, "and Naomi tells how that story is unfolding around the world. It's a very good read."

Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97
Author: Jamie Bastedo
Released: 2020
Recommended by: Sophia Mathur, 13-year-old climate activist

Last December, climate activist Sophia Mathur made history when she and seven young people, backed by the environmental law group Ecojustice, sued the Government of Ontario for weakening the province's climate targets.

She also followed Greta Thunberg and became one of Canada's first youth climate strikers.

So which book inspired Mathur this year? She recommends Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97 by Jamie Bastedo.

Mathur says the stories of other environmental trailblazers spoke to her and gave her inspiration; as a young female Canadian who is concerned about the environment, she found the chapter on Elizabeth May particularly inspiring,

"She made huge strides for all environmentalists, and confirmed to me that cooperating with politicians and experts is a path forward to achieving a sustainable world," said Mathur, who also has a chapter in the book.

She also points to the chapter on Pulitzer Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier.

"[Her] story on protecting the Arctic is a great Canadian example of the importance of protecting cultures of all people. Our changing climate is disproportionately affecting Indigenous and rural cultures, and we must respect and address this horrific consequence," she said.

"This book is a must-read to educate and inspire ourselves to once again make Canadians world leaders in protecting our

The Right to Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic, and the Whole Planet
Author: Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Released: 2015
Recommended by: Jamie Bastedo, biologist and author

When it comes to recommendations of his own, Protectors of the Planet author Jamie Bastedo recommends a book by one of those protectors: The Right to be Cold by author Sheila Watt-Cloutier.

In the book, the longtime environmental and human rights activist looks at the threat of climate change through the lens of her own Arctic childhood, and explores the links between protecting the planet and the survival of her Inuit culture.

"It's just an amazing, very intimate look into the changes of her world in the Arctic," said Bastedo, "and how important it is to connect the Arctic world as a kind of early warning system to the rest of the planet."


FYI:  from National Geographic's website, a news article on how the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution works and how it could be applied now.  5 minute read, Link only:  

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Bellini’s I Puritani, today until 6:30PM
Starring Anna Netrebko, Eric Cutler, Franco Vassallo, and John Relyea, conducted by Patrick Summers. From January 6, 2007.  There is a protracted period of madness in the opera, poor Elvira, that allows for some other-worldly singing in this classic production.

Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, 7:30PM until Saturday about 6:30PM

Starring Eva-Maria Westbroek, Jane Bunnell, Marcelo Álvarez, George Gagnidze; Patricia Racette, Marcelo Álvarez, George Gagnidze, and Lucas Meachem, conducted by Fabio Luisi. From April 25, 2015. A double-bill of two short tragedies; many short catchy snippets used in movies and advertising.

January 7, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

"Everyone shines, given the right lighting."

   --- Susan Horowitz Cain, American lecturer and author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

e-petition to consider signing:

Petition for House of Commons on updating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

deadline: January 13th, 2021
from Sharon Labchuk and others

"...the fight against corporate control of the food system continues. Our anti-GMO allies in Quebec initiated a petition to the federal government asking that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act is modernized by requiring proponents of new genetically modified organisms, like the GM salmon, prove the organism will cause no harm; GM foods are labelled; the public process for approval is transparent; and harmonize the Act with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Sign here on the federal government website and look for a confirmation email as soon as you sign, to complete the process."
Full wording of e-petition and signing link here:

from "The Smog -- Need-to-know basis"
Source: The Grist (United States)

Bad News / Good News:

On Tuesday, the Trump administration finalized a rule change slashing protections for migratory birds. The move, which would shield the oil industry from liability for unintentionally killing birds with its pollution, is among the last big environmental rollbacks expected from the Trump administration.
New York Times article on the last-minutes regulation changes

GUEST OPINION: Support farmers, protect water, proclaim the Water Act - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Andrew Lush 

Published on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

High-capacity wells are in the news again, and whether they should be allowed or not causes strong feelings in many Islanders. Some cast this as a fight between farmers and environmentalists, which it is not. We all support Island farmers. However, many of us don’t support our government allowing damaging practices that threaten the safety of our water, endanger our health, and risk adding Islanders to the three billion people in the world who already suffer water shortages.

Without the Water Act, there is no framework for controlling what is acceptable and what is not. The government is saying that the act will be proclaimed three months after the spring sitting, but a recent standing committee report is saying we should proclaim it right now. Back in 2016, after 50 groups gave comprehensive informed presentations, and there was unprecedented public feedback, we were promised that the act would be proclaimed in 2017. Islanders are still waiting. Meanwhile, the government has broken its own minimum stream flow regulations and is allowing numerous holding ponds to be built in contravention of the spirit of the Water Act.

To say that we have plenty of water, and that it is ours to use, is both naive and dangerous. P.E.I. is a unique province in that we all drink from the same groundwater. While some studies say that climate change may result in more rain, they also say that it will come in short intense rain events and we may get less groundwater recharge. During the development of the Water Act, Islanders made it absolutely clear that we don’t want to risk running out of water by allowing high-capacity wells for new industrial uses. That is what we are talking about here – new industrial uses – industrial agriculture with large corporations controlling the agenda. When industrial corporations say that there is a need for new high-capacity wells, after years with a moratorium, then we should be questioning why anyone is farming in a way that requires this much water. For example, we need to question why soil organic matter, which holds water, has fallen precipitously over the past few decades. And question why the topsoil is running off into our streams. And question why three-year crop rotations are not being used everywhere. And question why we still see so many bare fields in the winter. And question what crops are being grown, and the industrial methods being used. A few industrial corporations control the price farmers receive for their product — in fact they almost control the farmers' lives.

We support the many farmers who practise sustainable farming practices. This is why it is so important to realize that the problem is a small number of corporations, whose simple aim is to make as much money as they can, even if it pushes some of our farmers to damage the soil and put our drinking water at risk — just to reduce the price that those corporations pay for produce. It has to stop, before we one day turn on the tap — and no water comes out. 

So we call on our government to proclaim the Water Act immediately, and remember their duty to listen to all Islanders, and in particular to Indigenous peoples, on issues of water and land. And to follow the precautionary principle (which states that where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation) and keep the ban on high-capacity wells in place, and help our farmers to diversify away from unsustainable and environmentally damaging industrial farming before it is too late.

Andrew Lush, on behalf of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, today until 6:30PM
Starring Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien, and Nicolas Testé, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. From January 16, 2016.  2 hours 15 minutes
Diana Damrau discusses the character of Leila in The Pearl Fishers in this short article.

Bellini’s I Puritani, tonight 7:30PM until Friday about 6:30PM
Starring Anna Netrebko, Eric Cutler, Franco Vassallo, and John Relyea, conducted by Patrick Summers. From January 6, 2007.  About 2 and a half hours.

January 6, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Eat Local PEI ordering takes place until tonight, for pickup or delivery at various times this weekend.
News blurbs:

P.E.I. Greens rotate legislative roles - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby

Published on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

The Opposition Greens have moved Hannah Bell, a relative veteran in P.E.I.’s legislature, from her role as Opposition house leader.

Stratford-Mermaid MLA Michele Beaton will step into the role of house leader in the new year.

The role of house leader has assumed increased importance since the last election. The role allows the caucuses of the three parties – Progressive Conservative, Green and Liberal – to co-operate and share information related to legislation.

In addition to the heightened role of standing committees, the interaction of house leaders has reduced partisan obstructionism in the legislature since the last election. 

On Thursday, the official Opposition also announced that Summerside-Wilmot MLA Lynne Lund will be replaced by Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke MLA Trish Altass as Opposition whip.

The role of whip is to ensure caucus members are present at the time of votes. Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker has said members of the Green caucus are not “whipped”, meaning they are free to vote based on their conscience. 

A representative of the Green caucus said the changes were meant to give relatively newer MLAs a chance for more experience.

“I want to thank outgoing house leader Hannah Bell and outgoing whip Lynne Lund for the superb work they have done in their respective roles. They have been instrumental in helping our young caucus to get its feet confidently and comfortably planted in the legislature,” Bevan-Baker said in an emailed statement.

The move follows a legislative session in which the Green caucus was divided in its vote over a $196-million capital budget.  

The capital budget included significant funding for education, health care and climate initiatives. But the budget also revealed allocations of millions of dollars for key social programs, including $8.3 million for the construction of affordable housing and $9.6 million for the new mental health campus, had remained unspent from the previous year. 

Bell was the sole Green MLA to vote against the budget. Lund and Green MLAs Steve Howard and Karla Bernard voted in favour. 

Four MLAs – Trish Altass, Ole Hammarlund, Beaton and Bevan-Baker – said they abstained from the vote. An abstention is not officially recognized in the journal of P.E.I.’s legislature. 

The move to avoid voting on the budget, which Bevan-Baker claimed was meant to express displeasure while not risking a possible election, was roundly criticized by the PCs and Liberals. 


Bevan-Baker's abstention has caused so much chin-wagging and spilled so much ink for the local political commentators.  OK, he tried to make a point.  But, Please, there are real issues out here to focus on.
Another in a string of Charlottetown City Council footsteps that seems to show a disconnect between the people affected by decisions, and the politicians standing in front of some sorts of doors behind which are piles of government money...good for the neighbourhood to be organizing to try to get their message across.

Neighbourhood organizing as city looks at demolition of Simmons arena - CBC News online post

'This is the heartbeat of our community and it's being taken away'

CBC online on Tuesday, December 5th, 2021 

A group hoping to keep a sports complex in its neighbourhood is disappointed Charlottetown city council seems to be moving in a different direction. 

Council recently approved funds to look at adding a third ice surface to the Bell Aliant Centre, as well as money for a plan to remove the current Simmons Sports Centre. 

"We think it's somewhat short-sighted," said Olin Penna, a community member of the Simmons Sports Campus group. "We really want city council to take this seriously," said Penna. "Losing a recreation facility like this really impacts so many people. This is the heartbeat of our community and it's being taken away." 

Penna said a centralized sports campus at the Simmons site makes sense since it's next to two schools and handy for many families and the people who use it.  "A lot of the key user groups weren't engaged in this process," he said.

Numerous reports done

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said numerous reports have been done looking into the feasibility of Simmons. He said one recent recommendation was to decommission it. "I know there's a lot of emotional connection to this facility," said Brown. 

Brown said the city is in the early stages and is focused on meeting climate change mitigation funding criteria, which would help the city pay for a new ice surface. 

He said they're not objecting to other ideas, but there is an urgency to get a new rink.

"We have to get moving on replacing this facility," said Brown.

He said a third ice surface for the Bell Aliant Centre could qualify for significant funding, with almost 73 per cent coming from the federal and provincial governments, leaving only 27 per cent for the city to pay. 

He said it would be more cost efficient and reduce the city's carbon footprint. 

"We have to look at what we can fiscally manage," he said.

'We're not gaining anything'

The president of Charlottetown Minor Hockey said he would prefer to see Simmons revamped. "We would like to keep the Simmons location," said Keith Ford.

Ford said it would be huge loss because minor hockey uses it so much. 

He also said closing Simmons and adding just one ice pad to Bell Aliant doesn't create any more ice.   "We're not gaining anything," he said. 

Architect hired to do preliminary work at Bell Aliant Centre

Sue Fraser, general manager at the Bell Aliant Centre, said an architect has just been hired to do schematic drawings which would provide a rough idea of how a third sheet of ice could be added. 

"There's still lots of steps before we get to the actual breaking of ground here, but we're making progress," said Fraser. 

The city and board of governors at the university would need to approve the project.   Fraser said initial studies put the cost of a third ice pad between $12 and $15 million. 

She said if approved, it could go to tender this summer. The city hopes it will be completed in time for the Canada Games in February 2023.

from The Beacon, with positive news on the future:

It’s Tuesday, January 5, and Biden’s lofty climate plans have gotten an unexpected financial boost - The Beacon online post by Cameron Oglesby

Published on-line on Tuesday, December 5th, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden has started off the new year with a potential funding win for his climate plan. The story behind the unexpected windfall goes back to 2009, when then-President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That stimulus bill included billions of dollars for a Department of Energy loan program to help finance the deployment of solar and wind projects across the country.

But for the last four years, the funds from that loan program have sat untouched by the Trump administration, leaving an approximate $40 billion of unused Energy Department loan authority available for the new Biden administration to use to advance its hefty clean energy goals.

Environmental advocates say that the incoming Biden administration could tweak the loan programs language slightly to direct some of those sitting funds toward energy storage technology to smooth out the variability of power from solar and wind sources.

“There’s a lot that you can do with the money that’s sitting at DOE,” Dan Reicher, who ran DOE’s energy efficiency and renewable energy office under President Bill Clinton, told Politico.

Although $40 billion is only a small portion of the funds needed to execute Biden’s $2 trillion dollar climate plan, the existing loan authority presents an opportunity to hit the ground running on his larger carbon neutrality plans as soon as he takes office on January 20 — and without any help from Congress.


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Rossini’s La Donna del Lago, until 6:30PM tonight
(The Lady of the Lake)  Starring Joyce DiDonato, Daniela Barcellona, Juan Diego Flórez, John Osborn, and Oren Gradus, conducted by Michele Mariotti. From March 14, 2015.  Based on a French translation of Scottish Sir Walter Scott's1810 poem, Gioachino Rossini wrote this in 1819.  Synopsis: Elena, "daughter of the rebel chief, Douglas, loves Malcolm but is promised by her father to Roderigo. Further complicating matters, King James (disguised as Uberto) also loves Ellen. Rowing across the lake, she meets King James V, under the guise of Uberto, and offers him shelter..."  .but after lots of drama and grand singing, it all ends happily.

Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, tonight 7:30PM until Thursday 6:30PM
(The Pearl Fishers) Starring Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien, and Nicolas Testé, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. From January 16, 2016. Two guys love a priestess, who is supposed to be off-limits.  The opera is known for the bro-duet at the end of the first act, and as a reminder, Martin Rutte recommends this as the most perfect recording, with Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill.

"I cannot do all the good that the world needs.   But the world needs all the good that I can do."

  -- Jana Stanfield

January 5, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Local Food:

Charlottetown Farmers' Market 2GO
Ordering closes today, Tuesday, at noon, with pick-up Thursday 3-6PM
The Saturday Market will be open January 9th, 9AM-2PM.
Local Schools:

Model for Elected School Board for English Language Schools.
Deadline is March, but good to think about now:

Elected school board model consultations
“We want to give Islanders a stronger voice in their education system and how we support student learning while ensuring our school boards are more representative of our Island population under the leadership of elected trustees,” Minister Trivers. (Dec. 21/20) Submit your ideas online at:  Elected School Board Model Consultations.  Islanders will have the added option to complete an online survey.
Online consultations are open until March 11, 2021. 

Government spending priorities

Pre-Budget Consultations for the 2021-2022 Operating Budget

....all feedback and consultations will be taking place virtually.

Feedback can be submitted through the webform:
with the option to attach documents and formal proposals for consideration.  This year, some general questions have been included to gather the thoughts and ideas of our diverse population as we continue to work collaboratively for Islanders.

Deadline for feedback: Thursday, January 21st:

All pre-budget consultations will be virtual this year:
Tuesday, January 12th, 2-4PM: 
Virtual Town Hall
  Simultaneous translation will be available.  Registration Required:
phone (902) 368-5501
or email (link sends e-mail)

Thursday, January 14th, 7-7:30PM:
open Facebook Live event on the Government of PEI Facebook page,
Registration is not required for this event.

adapted from:

The Season of Hot Air - Opinion piece by Ole Hammarlund, MLA for D13:Charlottetown-Brighton:

This looks like a winter season where we will be spending more time than usual cozying up inside. My recommendation is to find ways to get outside and be safe - take a walk on a beach or anywhere where there is nature and few people. We are lucky to be on PEI where such places are easy to find.

When you come home, you may even have a wood stove that you can cozy up to. That is why I like winter: The opportunity to get cold and refreshed outside and then warmed again inside, preferable next to some kind of wood fire.
Being around a wood fire is an essential part of being human, and if you have access to even an acre of woods or two, there will be plenty of dead wood to burn. While burning wood does create CO2, leaving a piece of deadfall on the forest floor eventually releases the same amount of CO2 through composting. Therefore burning wood is considered sustainable, and if you return the ashes to the woods, nature’s cycle is complete.
This does not mean that all burning of wood is a good thing or sustainable.   
The government calls wood biomass, and claims that burning biomass is an excellent replacement for burning oil. However, there is a  difference between you burning a stick of wood and the government converting a large number of buildings to wood chip burners. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details.
These chip burners are fed with large trailer trucks filled with wood chips that have likely been harvested in a less than sustainable way. Typically, a lot is clear cut and, depending on size and type of trees, either the entire lot is turned to chips, or into a mix of pulp logs and chips. In either case the result will be to send the carbon, which was previously sequestered in the trees, into a large cloud of CO2 within the year.
Even if replanted, it will take decades before the trees are big enough to capture a significant amount of carbon again. It could take a century before the CO2 that was released is recaptured.
On top of that, all the minerals contained in the wood, which the trees have created and collected over thousands of years, are not returned to the woods. Therefore, each regrowth is poorer than the one before. Add to that the fossil fuels used for harvesting and transporting the chips, and it becomes clear this method is not sustainable.
Curiously, the government sent the Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy with other MLAs and officials to Europe to learn the best methods these countries use. One of the places visited was Samsoe, a Danish island, where they have been burning chips for decades.   But they have learned  it is NOT a good idea to burn wood. In fact when the energy director for Samsoe visited PEI recently, he told us that burning wood was “stupid.” But apparently the government is not listening. I like to use more parliamentary words like “hot air,” used to describe not just the air coming off a hot wood stove, but also the unrealistic promises coming out of politicians’ mouths.
It is not just the government’s plan to burn more wood chips that is full of hot air. So is the ambitious Net Zero plan announced by the government recently. Bold in concept, this plan claims to be leading in Canada and maybe even the world. But this plan, when you look at the details, turns out to be just a lot of hot air.
Net Zero Energy by 2030 as promised gives us just 10 years to convert away from oil and gas in all sectors of society, including  buildings, transportation and agriculture. Yet the actual efforts planned are completely insufficient in reaching those goals: The first government buildings to be Net Zero won’t be completed until 2024 or later. What’s more, pans do not address the 2,000 other buildings and apartments being built by the private sector each year nor how or when the government will upgrade the 50,000 existing buildings. Nor does it address the buildings already planned or under construction.
It is much, much cheaper and easier to make the changes before construction starts. Take a window as an example. It will cost about $10 per square foot to upgrade a regular double glazed window to a Net Zero triple glazed window. However, to change an already installed window later will cost 10 times as much, or $100 per square foot.  So it is well worth it to change plans before the buildings are constructed.
Clearly a government claiming to be the Net Zero leader in Canada, needs to change plans on the table and buildings under construction now, not later. If they don’t, they will never reach their goal.
In the transportation sector this government has continued to subsidize taxes, a practice begun by previous administrations. This results in spending millions and millions of tax dollars to keep gas prices low, when exactly the opposite is needed
Buying a few electric school buses is a nice gesture, but clearly to be all electric in ten years we need, not 50, but 5,000 new electric cars per year.
In agriculture no solutions are even discussed or subject to pilot experiments. Should we not at least investigate, for instance, how carbon could be sequestered in our soils, increasing organic matter and at the same time reducing the need for irrigation?
Interestingly, many of the goals promised can be reached without blowing budgets. Net Zero buildings do cost a little more to build, but the savings in operating costs (which are zero) will pay for themselves over 10 to 20 years. You could say, Net Zero has a much better return than putting money in the bank.
The government has the option of borrowing funds at a low interest rate like 2% or less and can even do so off-budget, like they do now to finance windmills. To reach their goals they could have and should have made a flying start this year investing a few hundred million in Net Zero features that would give a great annual return for generations to come.
Anything else is just hot air, in fact so much hot air that the PEI government could well be the leader in Canada or even the world. So gather around and enjoy the hot air while it’s cold outside.
Ole Hammarlund, MLA for Charlottetown-Brighton
Official Opposition
Net Zero Critic


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, today until 6:30PM
From January 12, 2019.
Anna Netrebko is a diva (what else?) starring opposite mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, as "the fearsome Princess of Bouillon, and tenor Piotr Beczała, as her ardent lover, Maurizio."  He unfortunately ardently loves Adrianna, but is afraid of Princess of Bouillon, who really loves him (but I believe she is already married.  It's complicated).  Meanwhile, the kindly elderly stage manager (Ambrogio Maestri) loves Adrianna,'s really a good opera to watch!   2 hours 22 minutes.

Rossini’s La Donna del Lago, tonight 7:30PM until Wednesday about 6:30PM
Starring Joyce DiDonato, Daniela Barcellona, Juan Diego Flórez, John Osborn, and Oren Gradus, conducted by Michele Mariotti. From March 14, 2015.

"There are no right answers to wrong questions."
    --writer Ursula Le Guin, (1929-2018)

January 4, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Local Food ordering this week:
Organic Veggie Delivery: order today for delivery Thursday

EatLocalPEI --
Order by Wednesday night
for pickup on Saturday 12-6pm,
delivery on Saturday 4-7pm,
or pickup on Sunday 12-4pm

Charlottetown Farmers' Market to Go order Tuesday by noon for Thursday afternoon pick-up

Heart Beet Organics The Farmacy is closed this week for a holiday break

Atlantic Skies for January 4th - January 10th, 2021 - by Glenn K. Roberts

Astronomy in the Digital Age

I have always been a hands-on astronomer, preferring to learn about the night sky by actually looking through a set of binoculars or a telescope, and supplementing what my eyes see with information gleaned from astronomical texts and charts. I am, however, aware and can appreciate that very few people have access to a telescope, or the time to spend hours out under the stars searching the night sky for some elusive celestial object. Add to this the fact that there are, on average, relatively few nights when the sky is clear enough to find the object(s) we wish to view (as happened with last month's Northern Lights display, Geminid meteor shower, and the Jupiter-Saturn Great Conjunction), or where the night temperatures are not conducive to spending long hours outdoors observing. Fortunately, there is now a remedy for these problems.

The ubiquitous cell phone is an established feature of the modern world; one would be hard pressed to find anywhere in the world where people are not walking around with a cell phone in hand or held to their head. Although I don't own one myself, I can appreciate the value of these devices for those people constantly on the go; they certainly do facilitate  ready communication, and have many safety and security uses as well. Cell phone technology is constantly expanding, with new features and capabilities being added with each subsequent model. For those without access to a telescope, one of the most interesting and useful applications (referred to as "apps") that can be added to a cell phone is that of astronomy apps. These apps can be downloaded (some are free, while others are by paid subscription only) onto the phone, and can provide the armchair astronomer with the opportunity, at any given hour on any given night (or day), to simply walk outside, turn the cell phone on, point it at the sky, and access the app. The cell phone's built-in GPS will coordinate what can be seen on the phone's screen with the sky above the phone user's geographical location. Depending on the app installed, a diagram of the night/day sky will show what is visible in the night/day sky, even though the phone user may not be able to readily see the object(s) with their naked eye. Nor is it necessary to always have clear weather or, with some apps, to actually go outdoors; some apps permit the user to access the night sky from the comfort of the indoors, a handy feature when it's cloudy, raining or just too cold outdoors. Once accessed, the app shows the location of the planets, Moon, major stars, constellations, comets, distant galaxies, etc. The information provided (depending on the app selected) can range from very basic diagrams and identification labels of various celestial objects to very detailed information (distance, size, magnitude, etc.), charts (coordinates, orbital paths, etc.), and colored pictures.  Some of the apps may have a 'time travel' feature, enabling the viewer to move the screen's location back and forth through time to view an object's location both in the past and in the future. Much of the information contained in these apps is based on current NASA data and Hubble Space Telescope pictures.

Although I cannot recommend which app to install or purchase for your smartphone or tablet, there are a number of websites which do exactly that, also identifying the platform (iOS or Android) used to access the app. A quick on-line search for "astronomy apps" fielded numerous sites, the following three of which I thought might assist you in selecting an astronomy app if you are thinking of doing so: 16 Best Astronomy Apps For Stargazing | Android & iOS | 2020 Edition - RankRed; The 19 Best Astronomy Apps for 2020 | Night Sky & Stargazing (; and For those of you without access to a telescope or the time to spend in a library, astronomy apps could be a valuable tool to learn your way around the night sky, and to gain information about the countless wonders to be found there.

The first week of 2021 is not a very good period for viewing the planets. Mercury (mag. -0.9), though bright, barely clears the southwest horizon (< 1 degree) at dark this coming week.  Venus and Saturn are not currently visible. Mars (mag. -0.14) becomes visible in the southeast evening sky around 5:15 p.m., 48 degrees above the horizon. It reaches its highest elevation of 55 degrees above the southern horizon by about 7:00 p.m., remaining observable until shortly before 1 a.m., when it drops below 9 degree above the western horizon. Jupiter (mag. -1.9) makes a brief appearance 9 degrees above the southwest horizon around 5 p.m., before dropping below the horizon by 6:15 p.m.  However, on the evening of Jan. 10, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn will be in conjunction with one another, forming a compact triangle low above the southwest horizon just after sunset. Though you may be able to see the three planets with your naked eye, an unobstructed view of the horizon and binoculars will help you readily identify them in the post-sunset glow.  Mercury (mag. -0.9) will sit to the lower left, Saturn (mag. +0.6) to the lower right, with Jupiter (mag. -1.9) at the apex of the triangle; a great photo op.

In closing, I wish to clarify a point. It seems I wasn't very clear in last week's column when I wrote about the inclination of Earth's poles during our planet's annual orbit around the Sun, and how this inclination contributes to the seasons. First of all, I must acknowledge a typo on my part - the inclination figure I typed in as 21 degrees was incorrect; and should have been 23.4 degrees. Secondly, although I mentioned the wobble of the Earth's poles as it orbits the Sun, I didn't mean to imply that that wobble contributes to the onset of our planet's seasons. Our seasons are a direct result of the polar inclination of 23.4 degrees (from the perpendicular), which remains consistent throughout the Earth's trip around the Sun, and the position of our planet on its elliptical orbital path around the Sun. I apologize for any confusion.

Until next week, clear skies.


Jan. 6 - Last Quarter Moon

        9 - Moon at perigee (closest to Earth)

      10 - Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter conjunction; sunset


Really nice reuse of materials story:

Waste not, wontons: innovator recycled 32m restaurant chopsticks - The Guardian (U.K.) article by Ashifa Kassam

Felix Böck started small but has built up a business that transforms the utensils into everything from new dining tables to staircases

Published on Monday, January 4th, 2021

Wall decor by ChopValue. Photograph: ChopValue

The idea was born over trays of sushi. Felix Böck, then a PhD student at Canada’s University of British Columbia, was venting his frustration over the scant interest in his proposal to use waste wood from demolition and construction sites. How, he wondered, could he convince people that there’s no such thing as waste, but rather just wasted resources?

Chopsticks in hand, Thalia Otamendi, the woman who is now his fiancée, looked at him. “She said: ‘Felix, maybe you just have to start with something small,’” said Böck. “And maybe it’s the chopstick.”

He started working on the idea the next day, sketching out plans for ChopValue, a startup aimed at creating a second life for used chopsticks. The plans soon coalesced into actions; recycling bins were dropped off at restaurants across Vancouver, methods were perfected to clean the utensils and a process was developed to transform the chopsticks – most of which are made from bamboo – into sleek household items that range from tablet stands to tabletops.

Four years on, ChopValue has recycled more than 32m chopsticks – diverting them from landfills and creating employment for 40 people. “These chopsticks travel 6,000 miles to arrive on your dining table for 20 to 30 minutes,” said Böck, 31. “You can’t possibly feel good about throwing them out afterwards.”

The startup has expanded its footprint across North America, with its process – which uses heat, steam and pressure to transform the chopsticks into wooden tiles – now also being used in Calgary, Montreal and Los Angeles.

Chopsticks are sourced from hundreds of restaurants as well as locations such as shopping centres, airports and universities; in Vancouver alone ChopValue said it collects around 350,000 used chopsticks a week.

“When you walk into a restaurant and you ask them to place a recycling bin for chopsticks, they still give you the exact same look as they gave me on day one,” said Böck. “I think it’s because it’s one of these little things that we neglect. But the moment someone reminds us of that problem that’s right in front of us, it creates that immediate Aha! moment.”

Among the first companies to collaborate with ChopValue was Pacific Poke, a chain of restaurants based in western Canada. “We thought it was a great idea. We were like, why didn’t anyone else think of this?” said co-founder Dong Lam. “We’re selling a couple of hundred bowls a day so you can imagine how many chopsticks that adds up to over time.”

The restaurant chain has become a fine example of the circular economy that ChopValue is seeking to foster, with most of its locations featuring artwork and tabletops made from chopsticks once used at the restaurant.

At ChopValue, the focus is now on exporting their model. “We do want to mass produce, just on a local scale,” said Böck. His aim is a network of franchises where chopsticks could be sourced from local restaurants and transformed in nearby microfactories with the finished products sold locally.

Currently the company’s products are sold on its website and through partnerships with retailers such as Nordstrom in the US. With each item comes a hint of its previous life, detailing the 886 chopsticks that went into making a butcher’s block or the 9,600 chopsticks used for a work-from-home desk.

“We’ve made money since day one,” said Böck. “We obviously reinvested every dollar we made into growth because we feel that the responsibility right now is to expand the concept globally.”

His hope is that ChopValue – and the “crazy idea” behind it – will prompt people to reconsider what they see as waste. “There’s this cheesy saying that every small action matters,” he said. “But I think we’re proving that in a fairly practical and exciting way.”


Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, until 6:30PM tonight

Starring Kathleen Battle, Luciano Pavarotti, Juan Pons, and Enzo Dara. From November 16, 1991.

This week is "Epic Rivalries", just in case life felt a little too complacent

Monday, January 4th:

Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, tonight 7:30PM until Tuesday about 6:30PM

Starring Anna Netrebko, Anita Rachvelishvili, Piotr Beczała, Carlo Bosi, Ambrogio Maestri, and Maurizio Muraro, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. From January 12, 2019.

Amazing cast, and an opera that's recently made a come-back.

January 3, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Word of the passing yesterday of Professor Tom Symons (1929-2021), founder of Trent University and many other good works, including the Symons Medal for the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

from the Trent University website,
with some bold by me

In Memoriam

Thomas H.B. Symons, C.C., O.Ont., FRSC, LL.D., D.U., D.Litt., D.Cn.L., FRGS, KSS

Thomas H.B. Symons was a man who embodied the motto of the university that he founded. The words nunc cognosco ex parte (now I know in part) framed his life, but also a wider, compelling pedagogy that underscored the importance of self-improvement, humility, and social justice through higher education. His curiosity for the world around him was only surpassed by his compassion for others. He particularly enjoyed conversations with young scholars and took great interest both in their studies and their post-university careers. His own career took him across Canada and around the world, but he has always considered Peterborough home. From Marchbanks, his beloved residence formerly owned by Robertson Davies, Professor Symons created a base of operations while raising three successful children with Christine, his wife of 57 years.

Professor Symons was born in Toronto in 1929 to First World War flying ace Harry Lutz Symons and Dorothy Bull, daughter of the financier and historian William Perkins Bull. Educated at the University of Toronto Schools and the University of Toronto, he later attended Oriel College, Oxford. Professor Symons returned to the University of Toronto where he was a tutor in History at Trinity College and later dean of Devonshire House, an all-male residence that he reinvigorated in the collegiate style. During these years he also taught both Ancient and Canadian History demonstrating his characteristically eclectic mind and breadth of knowledge. His experiences at the University of Toronto were especially germane in forming his philosophies on education, scholarship, and student engagement which would guide him throughout his life.

In 1961, Professor Symons was approached by a committee of Peterborough citizens who asked the industrious and well-liked scholar to create a university for the city. He accepted the daunting challenge and became the founding president of what would be Trent University. His vision for Trent as a fully-formed, collegiate university brought the institution to life and has sustained it for over 55 years. While many dubbed Trent “Oxford on the Otonabee,” Professor Symons would later remark that it was England’s Durham University that provided much of the inspiration for the new university’s federation of small, interdisciplinary colleges within a larger degree-granting university. Professor Symons saw institutions of higher education, including his beloved University of Toronto, as becoming akin to "an impersonal factory" where an "academic elephantiasis" of unchecked growth was diminishing the educational experience. Today, Trent’s dynamic and evolving college system reinforces the vision Professor Symons had of a place where everyone would know everyone else and all members of the community would intermingle and interact. 

Professor Symons also dreamed of a place where Canadian Studies could become a significant and creditable avenue of scholarship — a place to study all things Canadian —  from History and Art to Science and the Environment to Canada’s peoples and cultures. It was under Professor Symons that Trent University created the first Indigenous Studies program in the country, soon followed by the Canadian Studies program and the groundbreaking Journal of Canadian Studies. This model would inspire several other programs at the university such as Cultural Studies and International Development Studies. His vision of higher education through interdisciplinary learning in the liberal Arts and Sciences has become one of the defining attributes of Trent University.

Professor Symons served as Trent University's president and vice-chancellor for 11 years until 1972. In 1979, Professor Symons was given the title of Vanier Professor. Upon Professor Symons’ retirement in 1994, he was made Vanier Professor Emeritus and the Nassau Mills campus of the University was officially renamed in his honour for his years of dedication and tireless work. After “retirement,” Professor Symons remained an active member in the University community as the honorary president of the Alumni Association and of the Trent Legacy Society. He also continued as a member of the Board of the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies and gave guest lectures in various programs from History to Chemistry.

Within the community of the City of Peterborough, Professor Symons has been a prominent figure. He served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Peterborough Red Cross and Community Fund as well as a founding member of the Otonabee Region Conservation Foundation and the Greater Peterborough Economic Council, and member of the Mayor's Committee on Peterborough's Economic Prospects. He also was a founding committee member of the Canadian Canoe Museum, honorary president of the Peterborough Historical Society, and a member of the Board of Governors of Sir Sandford Fleming College. In addition to this, Professor Symons was appointed the honorary parade marshall for Canada Day in 1999. His contributions were further recognized by the City of Peterborough in 2001 when he was presented the Civic Award. In 2004, Mayor Sylvia Sutherland presented Professor Symons with a key to the city. From 2005 to 2010, Professor Symons was chairman of the Peterborough Lakefield Police Services Board.

Professor Symons was also a respected voice in business. The thoughtful and even-handed approach that he exhibited as a university administrator led to invitations to participate on the Boards of various corporations. This included Celanese Canada Inc., where he was chair of the Social Responsibility Committee, and Gilbey Canada Inc. (UDV Canada Inc. and later Diageo) where he was a director. Professor Symons particularly cherished his relationship with Thomas J. Bata, whose assistance was instrumental during the early days of Trent University. Professor Symons was proud of the role he later played as chairman of the Board for Compass Ltd. (Bata Shoe Organization). He was also a founding Board member of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.

Professor Symons was awarded the province of Ontario's highest honour, the Order of Ontario, in 2002. This award recognized his contribution to the province thorough the mediation of French language disputes in Sturgeon Falls, 1971, and in Cornwall in 1973. From the funds he received for his work in Sturgeon Falls, he set up the annual Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching which continues to honour the best instructors at Trent University. As Ontario's Commissioner of Human Rights from 1975 to 1978, he spearheaded major revisions to the province’s Code notably in area of civil rights for homosexuals. Additionally, Professor Symons was involved in the Board of Governors of the Ontario Medical Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Advisory Committee for Heritage Ontario, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and was a founding member of Heritage Canada, to list a few of his activities. He served as the chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust from 2010 until 2017.

The fact that Professor Symons held a deep love for Canada is no surprise to anyone who knew him. Indeed, the breadth of his commitment to almost every facet of Canadian life is remarkable. From 1968 to 1975 he served as the chairman of the Policy Advisory Committee for the Rt. Hon. Robert Stanfield, leader of the opposition and sometimes known as “the best prime minister Canada never had.” From 1972 to 1975, he famously led a national Commission on Canadian Studies. Its published findings entitled To Know Ourselves, or the eponymous Symons Report, inspired a generation of scholars, policy makers and citizens dedicated to the study of Canada. In 1976, his efforts led to his investment as a member of the Order of Canada (later promoted to companion) and his election as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1977). He has served as chairman on numerous federal committees and institutions including of the National Commission on Canadian Studies, the National Library Advisory Board, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, the Canadian Educational Standards Institute, the National Statistics Council of Canada, the Canada Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Additionally, an annual lecture entitled “The Symons Lecture on the State of Canadian Confederation” and medal was created in his honor at the Confederation Centre of the Arts on Prince Edward Island. In 2016, Professor Symons received the Gabrielle Léger Medal from the National Trust for Canada in recognition of his lifetime contribution and leadership in heritage conservation in Canada.

Internationally, Professor Symons distinguished himself through his work as chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and chairman of the International Board and vice-president of the International Council of United World Colleges. Professor Symons was awarded the Distinguished Service to Education Award of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in 1982. He was the first Canadian to ever receive this award whose council represents 2,300 universities and colleges in the United States, Canada, Europe and South America. Additionally, Professor Symons received an honorary degree from the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka as well as was elected a trustee and an honorary fellow by Oriel College, Oxford University and a visiting scholar and fellow by Cambridge University. He is the recipient of 13 honorary degrees from universities and colleges across Canada and the recipient of the both the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals. In 2016, he was honoured with the Founders Award for Excellence in International Education from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE). Many do not realize that in addition to the creation of Trent University, Professor Symons was instrumental in the founding of Fleming College and over a dozen other colleges and universities around the world. His particular efforts in the creation Peterborough’s Sacred Heart College resulted in a Knighthood from the Vatican in the Order of Saint Sylvester in 2012.

Professor Thomas H.B. Symons possessed an unparalleled passion for scholarship, his community, and his country. His vision for the nation was one where all Canadians could know themselves through an appreciation of their past and through a mutual understanding of their shared present. In doing so, it was his sincerest wish that Canadians would find both the inspiration and hope required to face the future together. On his personal journey to humbly know more, he has touched the lives of countless people. Thanks to the legacy of Professor Thomas H.B. Symons we all are a little better, know a little more of our country; and today, are all, in part, diminished.

In lieu of flowers, the Symons family has asked that donations be made to the T.H.B. Symons Trust for Canadian Studies at Trent University.   


A list of Symons Medal winners and some videos of their speeches is here, definitely worth poking around as a prelude or break from a shoveling Sunday:

Sometimes the medal was given with a bit of political or publicity glam competing with its intent or beauty (say, to passing royalty or new Prime Ministers) and sometimes the speeches have wandered from the theme of Confederation, but sometimes they have been absolutely awe-inspiring, like David Suzuki in 2012 (such timing!) and Stephen Lewis.

Said Stephen Lewis of Tom Symons when Lewis was awarded the Medal in 2014 and gave one of the best speeches ever heard by me, as effortlessly as buttering toast:

"I am a lifelong fan of Tom Symons. We don’t know each other all that well, but I very much remember him as an educational guru in my days in the Ontario Legislature, then in his remarkable career as the architect and President of Trent University, and later still, in his role as Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust. In fact, if memory  serves, I once made a speech courtesy of the Trust with Tom Symons front and centre throughout.   I hope I do him no dishonor by saying that I always thought him one of   those exemplary Red Tories. I shall have more to say about those Red  Tories shortly, but for the moment let me simply add that they were  positively luminous compared to the prepaleolithic Neanderthals who  followed them. I fear that I will unsettle Tom with the remarks that I  shall make in this speech. But I did write honestly to warn him of my intemperate nature, and he, perhaps unwisely, gave me  encouragement. 
If I may mangle Shakespeare, 'The fault, dear Thomas, is not in our stars, but in yours alone'."

   -- Stephen Lewis, on Friday, November 21st, 2014, at the Confederation Centre


And we all laughed, most heartily Tom Symons.

I met Professor Symons at a lunch about ten years ago, as my oldest son had won the P.E.I. high school-aged essay contest related to the 2009 lecture given by Mary Simon, president of the Inuit Tapirit Kanatami Organization.  Professor Symons was of course very gracious, but also friendly and curious about home-schooling and suggested a couple of adventure books now often overlooked (including The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Count of Monte Cristo).

He had a big heart and generous spirit and it was easy to see how he loved Canada so very much. 

requiesce in pace

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, today until 6:30PM
Starring Aprile Millo, Harolyn Blackwell, Florence Quivar, Luciano Pavarotti, and Leo Nucci. From January 26, 1991.  (Pavarotti as King Gustav of Sweden, in a love triangle, seeking help from a fortune-teller, and pursued by assassins...great singing, though!)

Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, tonight 7:30PM until Monday about 6:30PM

Starring Kathleen Battle, Luciano Pavarotti, Juan Pons, and Enzo Dara. From November 16, 1991. (Pavarotti as a big sweet country bumpkin who who tries a love potion and other attempts to win the heart of Adina.)  These two opera have some of the most gorgeous music for the beautiful voice Pavarotti had. 

January 2, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Summerside Farmers' Market is open, 9AM-1PM.  If you have wanted a reason to go visit this Market, this is a good Saturday to go.  Not all the vendors may be there, but there will certainly be plenty of fresh local items.

Some good conservation news:

These Conservation Stories Prove 2020 was not All Bad News - Smithsonian Magazine online article by Cat Kutz

Published on Thursday, December  14th, 2020

one excerpt:

For nearly a decade, the Australian organization Aussie Ark has been working to save the iconic Tasmanian Devil from extinction. (Aussie Ark)

Tasmanian Devils were eradicated from the Australian mainland some
400 to 3,000 years ago, depending on which paleontologist or natural historian you ask. But this year, the carnivorous marsupial with its devilish scream made a small comeback in the state of New South Wales on the country’s east coast.

For nearly a decade, the Australian organization Aussie Ark has been working to save this iconic creature from extinction. The species suffers rapid population declines in the face of habitat loss and a transmissible type of cancer known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease. Despite new findings that suggest evolution might help the species overcome this disease in the long run, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists Tasmanian Devils as endangered and decreasing. This status hasn’t discouraged Aussie Ark’s efforts to breed in captivity and reintroduce the species. The goal is to reverse the species’ decline permanently. “In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country,” says Tim Faulkner, President of Aussie Ark.

The first trial release earlier this year reintroduced 15 captive-bred Tasmanian Devils. This September, eleven additional Devils received a red carpet-level release with a little help from the award-winning Australian actor Chris Hemsworth and his wife, Elsa Pataky.

rest of article at this link

Saturday Afternoon at the Opera Radio Broadcast, 2PM, CBC Music 104.7FM

Philip Glass’s Satyagraha
Conducted by Dante Anzolini; Rachelle Durkin (Miss Schlesen), Richard Croft (M. K. Gandhi), Kim Josephson (Mr. Kallenbach), Alfred Walker (Parsi Rustomji) .  Not exactly holiday fare, but a realy cool opera about Ghandi!
Performance from November 19, 2011

Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming:

Verdi’s Il Trovatore, until 6:30PM tonight
Starring Eva Marton, Dolora Zajick, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, and Jeffrey Wells. From October 15, 1988. One of those operas where the story is just really weird, but the singing is just too amazing.

Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, 7:30PM tonight until Sunday about 6:30PM
Starring Aprile Millo, Harolyn Blackwell, Florence Quivar, Luciano Pavarotti, and Leo Nucci. From January 26, 1991.  "...Pavarotti stars as Riccardo, the unlucky ruler" (of Sweden, of all places!) "in love with his best friend’s wife, Amelia (Aprile Millo). Leo Nucci is the husband torn between loyalty and his thirst for revenge,

"Every beginning, after all, is nothing but a sequel, and the book of events is always open in the middle."

       -- Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012),
Polish poet, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996

January 1, 2021

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Happy New Year!

Not much happening in the in-person "Events" category (including Fridays4Future resting today, I think), but here is hoping you connect with those you care about in any format possible in the coming days.
Some silly, but with some truth as usual, resolutions (reprinted from a past year, and the "meetings" will take a little time to go in-person again, though "stranger" is a relative term):

And some fun videos, when taking a break from a bit of a blustery day:

The Kids Should See This (TKSST) website
An unprecedented collection of 4,500+ kid-friendly videos, curated for teachers and parents who want to share smarter, more meaningful media in the classroom and at home. 

Or just for anyone who enjoys good, short fun videos with a bit of a purpose.
TKSST Top Ten Videos of 2020
This included Pierre et le loup, "a stunning typography-filled animation" and others (I have not watched them all yet, but the ones, including the Flowers animation, are just grand).

Very U.S.-focused, with a few groans and guffaws, but reminding me how fortunate we really are, the humorist columnist Dave Barry's "Review of 2020" (about a ten minute read, link only):

opinion piece

Rethinking what we value - The Guardian article by Dan Kraus

Published on Thursday, December 31st, 2020

A year ago, there was much anticipation in the conservation community that 2020 would perhaps be the most important year ever for nature. Canada’s Nature Fund promised to accelerate the conservation of our wild spaces and species. There was a buzz about the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Congress. The World Economic Forum had made a call to stop the loss of biodiversity.

And then everything changed. Urgent and immediate crises have a way of laying bare the true values and character of individuals and societies. Basic needs become priority needs. We draw closer to what we love. Safety, essential supplies, family and friends were at the top of everyone’s list. And in a world that was suddenly slowed and silenced, many of us were drawn closer to nature.

Our parks and conservation areas filled with new visitors. There was more traffic on the trails. Bird seed sold out. Urban foxes became celebrities. There was global interest on how nature had responded to our absence, and even thrived.

The hope for conservation from 2020 is not just that it moved many of us to a rediscovery of the outdoors and rethinking what we value. Despite one of the most monumental crises of our generation, nature conservation has continued, and moved us closer to a more sustainable world for people and for nature.


There is growing recognition and funding for nature-based solutions to stabilize our climate, reduce the impacts of climate change and support our economy and wellbeing. There is also increasing evidence that wetlands, forests and grasslands are an essential part of our modern infrastructure and that physical contact with nature makes us healthier people.

The pandemic made it clear that our relationship with nature has a direct bearing on our well-being. Unmanaged and illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction have found their way back to us. This stark realization resulted in quick calls to action to halt illegal wildlife trade and stop habitat loss.


Canada and 30+other countries have pledged to protect 30 per cent of their lands and oceans by 2030. This will increase Canada’s protected areas from about 1.2 million km2 to almost 3 million km2 – or the equivalent area of over 260 new Banff National Parks. This will need new conservation partnerships and Indigenous-led conservation. It will also require work in southern Canada, where most people live and where nature is most threatened by habitat loss. The federal government is investing $100-million in land conservation through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. These funds will be matched by funds raised by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited and the country’s land trusts.


While the global trend of wildlife loss continues, there also continues to be promising stories of wildlife recovery. Evidence of hope that shows we can pull wildlife back from the brink of extinction. In Canada, two endangered butterflies, the Poweshiek skipperling and Taylor’s checkerspot, were released into the wild. And in Alberta, the new Banff bison herd had a baby boom, with 10 new calves born this year.


Planting trees and restoring forests allows us to slow down climate change and speed up biodiversity conservation. Here in Canada, the federal government has committed to planting 2 billion trees over the next 10 years. Many forest regions in southern Canada have been heavily altered, and tree planting will help in their restoration.

When the sun rises in 2021 we will awaken to the United Nation’s International Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. A decade to not just stop the loss of nature, but to rebuild and make it better than it is today.

Dan Kraus is senior conservation biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.


Fortunate to still have some free Metropolitan Opera video performance streaming as 2021 starts:

Verdi’s Ernani, until about 6:30PM tonight
Starring Leona Mitchell, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, and Ruggero Raimondi. From December 17, 1983.  The wonderful Pavarotti as a "nobleman turned bandit', but he is such a nice bandit.

Verdi’s Il Trovatore, tonight 7:30PM until Saturday about 6:30PM
Starring Eva Marton, Dolora Zajick, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, and Jeffrey Wells. From October 15, 1988.  Very dysfunctional families, old grudges and secrets, but great singing and a rather careful not-too-acrobatic sword-play duel or two, too.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.”

      -- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)