CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

March 2017

Contents

  1. 1 March 31, 2017
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 1.2 WATER ACT: What’s the rush? - The Guardian Opinion piece by Don Mazer and Marie-Ann Bowden
  2. 2 March 30, 2017
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 2.2 My response to the draft Water Act for Prince Edward Island - by Gary Schneider
  3. 3 March 29, 2017
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 3.2 OLE HAMMARLUND: A water act of omission?- The Guardian Opinion piece by Ole Hammarlund
  4. 4 March 28, 2017
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  5. 5 March 27, 2017
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  6. 6 March 26, 2017
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  7. 7 March 25, 2017
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  8. 8 March 24, 2017
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  9. 9 March 23, 2017
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 9.2 The Premier’s Leadership Style Gets In the Way of Meaningful Public Engagement - The Graphic article by Allan Rankin
  10. 10 March 22, 2017
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  11. 11 March 21, 2017
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  12. 12 March 20, 2017
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 12.2 Progress is possible! - The Council of Canadians blog post by Brigette DePage
  13. 13 March 19, 2017
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 13.2 MARIE BURGE: Schools essential for rural P.E.I. - The Guardian Opinion piece by Marie Burge
    3. 13.3 ALAN BUCHANAN: Parental instincts and education - The Guardian Opinion piece by Alan Buchanan
  14. 14 March 18, 2017
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  15. 15 March 17, 2017
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  16. 16 March 16, 2017
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  17. 17 March 15, 2017
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  18. 18 March 14, 2017
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  19. 19 March 13, 2017
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 19.2 THE VIEW FROM THIS BRANCH - Facebook blog by David Weale
  20. 20 March 12, 2017
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 20.2 Resolution to 2016 fish kill incidents remains with courts - The Guardian article by Eric McCarthy
  21. 21 March 11, 2017
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 21.2 Regionalization and school closure are not the same - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
  22. 22 March 10, 2017
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  23. 23 March 9, 2017
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 23.2 TERESA WRIGHT: Bullied into silence by Liberal MLA: Myers - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
  24. 24 March 8, 2017
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 24.2 'It's all Mi'kmaq land': Why First Nations claim P.E.I. as their own
  25. 25 March 7, 2017
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 25.2 Groups warn of corporations promoting genetically modified products in schools - The Guardian article
  26. 26 March 6, 2017
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 26.2 LETTER: A year of partying while kids live in poverty - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  27. 27 March 5, 2017
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  28. 28 March 4, 2017
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 28.2 An English Sheep Farmer’s View of Rural America - New York Times Opinion piece by James Rebanks
  29. 29 March 3, 2017
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 29.2 School Review is procedurally unfair - The Eastern Graphic article by Allan Rankin
    3. 29.3 EPA halts inquiry into oil, gas industry emissions of methane - The Santa Fe New Mexican on-line article
  30. 30 March 2, 2017
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 30.2 Will Minister Murphy defend all small schools? - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
  31. 31 March 1, 2017
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 31.2 TERESA WRIGHT: Expelling MLAs and flooded departments - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
    3. 31.3 LETTER: NFU opposes school closures - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

March 31, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Most of the Legislative Standing Committees are winding down until after the Spring Sitting of the Legislature, which starts next Tuesday, April 4th.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing from Kevin Stringer, Associate Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, on minimum lobster carapace size and Atlantic halibut quota.

Topic: The committee will continue its review of the Joint Audit of Atlantic Lottery Corporation, dated October 2016, by the auditors general of the Atlantic provinces. Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance.

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from The Guardian on-line yesterday evening:

POOLE’S CORNER, P.E.I. – A public consultation on P.E.I.’s draft Water Act scheduled for Thursday night has been postponed.

Due to weather conditions in Kings County, the consultation session at Kaylee Hall in Poole’s Corner will now go ahead on Wednesday, April 12 at the same location.  The event will be held at 7 p.m. on that date.

The Water Act people could be using social media a bit better, like the Electoral Boundaries Commission and some others.
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This op-ed letter from the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water raises a straightforward point:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/2017/3/30/water-act--what_s-the-rush-.html

WATER ACT: What’s the rush? - The Guardian Opinion piece by Don Mazer and Marie-Ann Bowden

Important issues about whether announced process for public consultation provides adequate opportunities for meaningful citizen engagement

by Don Mazer and Marie-Ann Bowden, Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water

Published on Thursday, March 30th, 2017

In a recent Guardian piece, the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water commented about some of the positive features and key issues in the draft of the Water Act. But there are also serious and important issues about whether the announced process for public consultation provides adequate opportunities for meaningful citizen engagement.

tg-a06-30032017-water-act.jpg

But there are also serious and important issues about whether the announced process for public consultation provides adequate opportunities for meaningful citizen engagement. Up to this point, the development of the Water Act has reflected a very good process. After the release of the White Paper in 2015 with its limited time frame and the intention to get legislation passed within a year, the Minister wisely recognized the complexity of the issues, and the importance of having the informed and thoughtful input from as many Islanders as possible. He extended the process of consultation and committed to ‘taking as much time as was needed’ to have truly meaningful consultation, and ‘to get this right’. We have been very appreciative of the Minister’s flexibility and the importance that he has placed on having a meaningful process of public engagement. But unfortunately, now that the draft of the Water Act has been released and the detailed examination of its complex provisions has begun by those who have faithfully participated in the process to date, it seems that government is now in a hurry to get this legislation passed quickly. The government took 14 months to carefully craft this draft of the Act.  They delayed releasing the Act for at least a month because of the political exigencies of cabinet shuffles and the turmoil caused by the plan to close schools. The Act was released to the public on March 16.  It offered four consultations that ended on April 10. That’s a total of 25 days. This offers stakeholders very little time to prepare meaningful public and written input. Many feel unable to move forward so quickly. This rushed process is an unfortunate and inadequate next step to take after such a good earlier consultation, and might even discourage citizen engagement. The time frame simply does not allow the opportunity to study and evaluate the Act, and to consult with persons familiar with the language of legislation and environmental law. An individual may be able to prepare a brief with their views in a week or two. But most of the presentations to the Environmental Advisory Committee were done by community groups, like the 18 member groups in our Coalition. The views expressed by these groups reflect an intensive and time consuming process of consultation where the views of all members are considered in an effort to reach consensus. Furthermore, the Minister has indicated presentations at the consultations will be limited to 10 minutes. There may be no opportunities for questions or discussion. And while the Act emphasizes the importance of transparency, there has been no public information indicating who will hear these presentations, and how the information gathered will be incorporated into revisions of the Act. If the Coalition, community groups and other citizens are to offer a meaningful contribution to the development of the Water Act, we require more time. We call on the Minister to: extend this process to take ‘as long as we need to get it right,’ to extend the length of presentations to 20 minutes to allow for questions and more issues to be addressed; and to publically announce membership of the panel and what will the consequences of these consultations will be. There should be no hurry. If there is, the government will be undermining its own consultation process. Nothing will be lost, and much will be gained by having the Water Act be the first order of business when the legislature sits in the fall. - Don Mazer and Marie-Ann Bowden are members of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water

Minister Robert Mitchell is at rjmitchell@gov.pe.ca and your local MLA's e-mail is on this website:  http://www.assembly.pe.ca/current-members
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 Today's Global Chorus essay is by Thomas Pakenham,  author of Remarkable Trees of the World,  Meetings with Remarkable Trees and The Scramble for Africa (
Amazon.ca citation)

       
I am an optimist. Today I am planting an oak tree. It’s three years old and I grew it myself. Its mother tree was about 300 years old when I collected the acorn. This tree too could live to that remarkable age. Or it could die tomorrow if I fail to water it. What will our world be like if the tree lives to 2300 AD?
        By then our two main problems – overpopulation and climate change – will be solved one way or the other. I feel quite hopeful that we shall see an end to runaway growth of the population. The Chinese population, a quarter of the world’s, is expected to fall substantially in the coming years – the long-term result of the drastic one-child policy Chairman Deng imposed on his people.
        But I am not so hopeful that the world’s governments will tackle the problem of climate change before it does irreversible damage to our planet. It will be many years before the western democracies, gulled by Big Oil, finally wake up to the reality that extreme weather is here for good. And extreme weather means more droughts, more floods, more hurricanes, rising sea levels. Meanwhile the consumer boom, based on an addiction to fossil fuels, will go on its merry way, and politicians will keep their heads firmly in the sand.
        Fortunately my oak tree is naturally adapted to extreme weather. It will jog along, I think, until the world comes to its senses. Provided, of course, I remember to water it this afternoon.
        — Thomas Pakenham

March 30, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:
Energy Strategy explained:
Thursday, March 30, 2017

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on the PEI Energy Strategy from Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy; Kim Horrelt, CEO of the PEI Energy Corporation; and Heather MacLeod, Manager of Energy Assets, PEI Energy Corporation. Other presenters to be confirmed.

Tonight:
Electoral Boundaries Commission meeting -- Westisle Composit High School, 6:30-8:30PM
https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/

Seedy Thursday at Murray Harbour Library, 6:30-7:30PM

First Water Act Draft Consultation, 7-9PM, Kaylee Hall, Pooles Corner
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/communities-land-and-environment/water-act
The timeline is too tight for thorough assessment and comment.  After the months invested in this, there is no reason to rush it now.
Gary Schneider wrote an excellent submission reviewing this to the Department, which he shared on social media, and I have printed it in its entirety after the Global Chorus essay.
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Musician Sarah Harmer writes the March 30th Global Chorus essay.
       
Like all of Nature, we humans are both vulnerable and resilient. I believe the key to our success and our survival is found in moving away from our individual quests and toward actions that recognize our interdependence and our moral obligations to each other.
        I am compelled to hope, and am fortified in my faith in humanity, by the tremendous acts of courage I’ve witnessed in the face of danger and persecution. I have seen fear faced and overcome. I have watched victimized women stand up to oppression and impunity in the fight for justice and peace in Central America. I have experienced the changes that can happen in my own hometown when citizens understand they have a voice, and use it determinedly and collectively to improve the lot of their community. For generations, acts of selfless courage and commitment to the greater whole have moved societies forward toward racial integration, voting rights for women and legal recognition of rights for our natural environment.
        When we shift our focus away from individual and material success and begin to participate in the collective care of our communities, our lives become more meaningful and more potent. It is our sense of responsibility to one another and to the myriad plants and animals that are our kin that must fuel our efforts toward implementing solutions to pressing concerns like the global climate crisis.
— Sarah Harmer

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Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.
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Published on-line Sunday, March 26th, 2017:

My response to the draft Water Act for Prince Edward Island - by Gary Schneider

(Since I will not be able to attend the public meetings, I have submitted my response online. I also thought I should post it to Facebook in hopes of getting more people to become involved. It is certainly not too late to get involved.)

I have been involved with this process from the beginning, through the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island and the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water. The process to date has been great. In fact, I have been using it as an example of a solid public process when I attend national meetings on environmental assessment.

Unfortunately, things seem to be falling apart at the end. The delays in releasing the report, combined with the almost simultaneous release of the Climate Change Strategy and Energy Policy have left people scrambling to keep up. And then there are only four public meetings and they are happening quickly. With all that, we suddenly find ourselves unaware of the process and timing. What is going to happen, and when? How will our comments and concerns be addressed?

There are some excellent parts of the draft Act. The “purposes” section is very strong, especially (a) Government has a guardianship role to play in ensuring that the quality, quantity, allocation, conservation and protection of water is managed in the interests of a common good that benefits and accommodates all living things in the province, and their supporting ecosystems. If we just followed that simple statement, we could solve all the water problems on PEI.

In the same section, it is good to see that (b) access for everyone to a sufficient quantity and safe quality of reasonably affordable and accessible water for personal and
domestic uses, and to basic sanitation that is safe and hygienic, is essential for an adequate standard of living. I would like to see this strengthen to ensure that these are basic human rights, something that many presenters spoke about at the public meetings.

The plan for increased reporting on the state of our water is very welcome. With water being of such importance here, and facing so many threats, this is long overdue. The ban on the export of water also sends a strong message to Islanders. The use of the term "precautionary principle" in the "Key Statements" is great to see, though I would have liked to see that exact term inside the actual Act. The idea of minimum environmental flows in Island waterways will, if we look at all components of a healthy ecosystem, go a long way to preventing problems such as those that regularly occur in the Winter River. Making information on water accessible and creating a public registry will be of great benefit to Islanders, not the least of which is that people will use water more carefully if they know that other members of the public is aware of what is happening. This information, and the registry, should be available on-line, and so I would like to see “shall” instead of “may” in these sections. There is also great potential for learning and adapting within the draft Act, so that as new information and even technology comes along, we can continuously improve.

I know that many of the things I am looking for should be in the regulations. But without knowing what they will contain, here are some of my concerns.

After carefully reading the draft Act, I still don’t know how we are going to protect water in this province. I would have liked to have seen, even in a preamble or in the “Inside the Water Act” document, a statement on how we’re going to substantially reduce nitrates and pesticides in our waterways. Islanders need and deserve clear and enforceable targets on reducing nitrates, agricultural and cosmetic pesticides, and soil erosion, and to know how these will be achieved. This will include everything from removing loopholes and strengthening the crop rotation legislation to increasing the width of buffer zones as needed to protect waterways.

If we don’t deal with the agricultural inputs head-on, this whole timely and expensive process will have been a missed opportunity. In Quebec’s 2002 water policy, they have a regulation on agricultural operations that aims to achieve balanced phosphorous levels in soils (related to pig farming), so we can surely do these things. They also promise to “Reduce the environmental impact of pesticides in agricultural areas by 2010.” http://www.mddelcc.gouv.qc.ca/eau/politique/index-en.htm

There is no ban on fracking, something that the Premier promised would be dealt with in the Water Act.

There is no clear message on maintaining the moratorium on high-capacity wells for agriculture, something that most Islanders agree needs to be done.

The Act and regulations should include carrying out a Strategic Environmental Assessment of water in this province, with an eye to setting priority uses for water. Part of this would be the idea of wise usage, which could be tied to permitting. This would tie water conservation into the permitting system, so that we would start looking at where water wastage occurs and find better options.

While the draft says that “An aquatic ecosystem is provincially significant if, in the opinion of the Minister, it
(a) contains significant populations of rare, endangered or uncommon aquatic species;”
I don’t have an idea how these rankings would come about. We should be clear that we are using the S1 and S2 rankings of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre and not just the federal Species at Risk rankings. And the Act should clearly state where this zone extends. The draft mentions “banks and shores” but doesn’t say if that is right on the shore or within the buffer or even further. So perhaps we need a better definition of the terms.

I also believe that we should have something in place specifically to rebuild the trust of Islanders in their government’s protection of water. It is ridiculous that the fish kill investigations have been so blatantly in the shadows. An on-line updating mechanism would be a great start, so that the public could know what is happening, what chemicals were present in what quantities, what are the dangers associated with these chemicals, and what do the timeframes and next steps look like for the investigations. It wouldn’t have to name names or anything, but just shine the light of day on these things. Otherwise, people continue to expect the worst.

We should also adopt the use of “eco-conditionality”, which is becoming more and more popular in Quebec and the EU. It makes the receipt of subsidies contingent on compliance with a number of environmental standards. The province touches on this with the Environmental Farm Plans, but since you don’t actually have to follow those plans and there is no monitoring, they do not fill this void. We really need to reward environmentally sound actions and stop funding anything that degrades the ecosystem. This could really help drive a change in practices.

As I said in my presentation to the Environmental Advisory Council in October of 2015, a comprehensive Water Act will not only protect the quantity and quality of Island waters. It will also have an incredible impact on the economy of the province. We are presently in the process of branding PEI as “Canada’s Food Island.” But if we continue to have fish kills, anoxic conditions, pesticides and nitrates entering the Strait and high levels of nitrate in our drinking water, the bad publicity will do more damage than any food promotion exercise can mask. These incidents are attracting national and international attention and undermine all the efforts to shine a spotlight on the high quality of our locally produced food.
--Gary Schneider

March 29, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The forum about mental health issues affecting families and services (or lack of) last night in Charlottetown -- political representatives Dr. Susan Hartley, MLA and Opposition Health Critic James Aylward, NDP PEI leader Mike Redmond and MLA and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Paula Biggar listened, shared sides of their own lives, and chatted about their ideas for improving situations.  Here is some background in a CBC article on the Monday forum

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Lots going on today:

Wednesday, March 29th, 1:30PM:

Topic: The committee will receive briefings on high speed internet services from Hon. Allen Roach, Minister of Finance; Xplornet Communications Inc.; Air Tech Communications; PEI Monitoring; and Wicked EH?.

The evening Standing Committee meeting (Communities, Land and Environment) has been cancelled, as the subject -- the refuse transfer facility application in Kings County --  was withdrawn.CBC story on the withdrawn application 
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Electoral Boundaries Commission Public meeting, Ellerslie Elementary, 6:30-8:30PM.  There are only a few meetings left:  Rest of schedule  Westisle tomorrow, East Wiltshire next Tuesday and Morell next Wednesday.

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Certified Organic Producers Cooperative AGM, 7PM, Farm Centre, Charlottetown. All welcome.  Ian Petrie introduces the evening and Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and Rural and Regional Development John Jamieson will give the keynote speech.

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Press Conference:  Unity about Rural Schools, 7PM, Kinkora Place (community centre). "Representatives from schools impacted by the School Review will be in attendance to share one final and UNIFIED message with government prior to the Trustees’ Meeting next Monday night. Members of the Press and Public are welcome to attend."

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More on events today and this week on the Citizens' Alliance Calendar: http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/events

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From Tuesday's Guardian, bold is mine: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/2017/3/27/ole-hammarlund--a-water-act-of-omission-.html

OLE HAMMARLUND: A water act of omission?- The Guardian Opinion piece by Ole Hammarlund

Legislation gives government absolute power over water issues, but few specifics

Published on Tuesday, March 27th, 2017, in The Guardian

tg-a07-27032017-water-act.jpg
If you have trouble sleeping, you could, instead of buying expensive sleep remedies, download the draft for the P.E.I. Water Act at:

https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/sites/default/files/publications/consultation_draft_water_act.pdf. Reading this is guaranteed to put you to sleep several nights in a row at no cost and with no side effects whatsoever, except wondering what the hell our government is up to now.

Like many Islanders, I am concerned with our ground source of water. It is such an essential commodity whether you are a family, a farm or a business. Understandably, many think it is a human right to have access to pure drinking water. We are all concerned that commercial enterprises such as large scale potato farming, bottling plants and cities such as Charlottetown do not suck the ground so dry, that individual wells and rivers run dry, as is the case at Winter River.

To this extent it is a good move that the proposed water act clearly establishes that our groundwater is a public asset and not one that commercial interests can freely mine or pollute as they wish. The P.E.I. Water Act clearly takes possession of all underground water and places solidly it in the hands of the P.E.I. Minister of Environment

However, there is not even the slightest hint of what the Minister might actually try to accomplish. Goals I think many Islanders would like to see addressed include:

1. Steps to reduce or eliminate nitrates and pesticides in our drinking water and streams;

2. Policies for eliminating the most dangerous chemicals;

3. Policies for establishing chemical free zones around Schools, residences and watersheds.

4. Long term policies for making our Island more chemical free;

5. A pricing policy that makes large water users pay the same for water as residents;

6. Last, but not least, a statement that forbids fracking on P.E.I. soil.

Yes, it is reassuring that inspectors won’t bear arms and that the fines of offenders will be $1,000 to $10,000 for individuals and $10,000 to $100,000 for corporations, but which Islanders’ concerns does the government plan to address with this new legislation? That’s what I want to know.

Are they going to consult the public like they did with Plan B, Proportional Representation and school closures and then do their own thing regardless of the opinion of the public? I fear the worst.

The Water Act gives the government absolute power over water issues, but few specifics. The few specifics are off the mark.

For instance, the act forbids pouring chemicals on the ground or in streams. This sounds good but we all know that farmers spray tons of chemicals on the ground every day and that some of those chemicals end up in our streams and our drinking water. Naturally farmers do not pour their expensive chemicals on the ground, so in this case the legislation addresses only the non-problem while not dealing at all with the real problem, which is farming with chemicals.

While the public is permitted access to the data, the government deliberately obfuscates the data available. For instance no data at all is given on the certain presence of pesticides; in fact the word pesticide is not even mentioned in the Act. The statistics offered also imply that we are only using 1 per cent of available water, when the truth is that we are running out of well locations that have permissible levels of nitrates and other pollutants; yet the government claims that we are only using 1 per cent of the available water. Actual indications are that current extraction rates already have negative effect on streams although not as bad as is the case at Winter River.

I think the very least the government should do is to give us all the data and all the options. Then at least we would have something to discuss at the upcoming hearings.

For a starter, the government persons in charge of the Water Act should read the P.E.I. Provincial Energy Strategy, a well-researched and well-formulated document. The Water Act deserves at least as much attention and strategy for the future as energy does.

- Ole Hammarlund, a Charlottetown architect, has been working on projects to reduce carbon emissions since he came to P.E.I. in 1974 to design and build the Ark.

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Tony Juniper is a "campaigner, writer, sustainability adviser,  former director of Friends of the Earth".  He writes the March 29th Global Chorus essay.

        Five decades of working to resolve the environmental degradation and social tensions prevalent in our modern world have revealed the fundamental nature of the crisis at hand.
        Meeting human needs while maintaining the fabric of Nature requires that we look at changing really quite massive forces – namely our economic system and its related consumerist culture.
        This can be done. We know this because it has been done before. The world we live in did not emerge by accident; it was shaped by deliberate decisions.
        Diverse groups must now work together to shape deep change toward a more co-operative society delivered through a different kind of economics geared toward the improvement of human welfare while keeping Nature intact.
        Academics, campaigners, writers, business leaders, politicians, economists, psychologists and others can collaborate in building a new philosophical context based on reconnecting with Nature and fostering harmonious relations between people.
        Like previous historic shifts, this one is likely to occur through a combination of bottom-up and top-down forces. It can be assisted with technology and entrepreneurial thinking, and, like other historic changes, will happen more quickly if it is based on positive ideas that are attractive to many people.         Many of the “truths” and assumptions that shaped our world are subject to increasing doubt, but positive change will only happen if there is a philosophical platform to fill the emerging vacuum. Building that platform and getting support for it is the main job at hand.
        — Tony Juniper

March 28, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

I stopped in almost a half hour into the Electoral Boundaries Commission meeting in Crapaud last night, but they were packing up due to low attendance.   Low turnout does not necessarily mean low interest in the topic, but the Cornwall Council AGM (and perhaps discussion of amalgamation) was happened right down the road, 6:30PM is a tough time for many to get to events, and there were plenty of other events going on. 
The next one in that area will be next Tuesday, April 4th, in Cornwall at the East Wiltshire school.

See Citizens' Alliance Calendar is a bit updated for some of the many interesting evening events going on in the next couple of weeks.
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The Legislative Standing Committees are scheduled to meet at all times this week, as the Legislature resumes a week from today.

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on mental health services for women and youth in the province from Dr. Sarah Stewart-Clark, co-founder and administrator for Island Mothers Helping Mothers.
 (CO note:  this is the woman organizing the forum last night in Summerside and in Charlottetown)

Topic: The committee will receive briefings on high speed internet services from Hon. Allen Roach, Minister of Finance; Xplornet Communications Inc.; Air Tech Communications; PEI Monitoring; and Wicked EH?.

 

Topic: The committee will meet receive briefings regarding the proposed recycling facility on Baldwin Road: • St. Teresa and Area Development Corporation • Morell River Management Cooperative • Kerry Taylor Other presenters to be confirmed.

 

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on the PEI Energy Strategy from Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy; Kim Horrelt, CEO of the PEI Energy Corporation; and Heather MacLeod, Manager of Energy Assets, PEI Energy Corporation. Other presenters to be confirmed.

 

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing from Kevin Stringer, Associate Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, on minimum lobster carapace size and Atlantic halibut quota.

 

Topic: The committee will continue its review of the Joint Audit of Atlantic Lottery Corporation, dated October 2016, by the auditors general of the Atlantic provinces. Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance.

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Today:
NFU District Convention, Milton Hall, doors open at 9:30AM
, all welcome.

Tonight:
Forum on Mental Health, Charlottetown, 7PM,
Murchison Centre, hosted by Dr. sarah Stewart-Clark.  Facebook event details.

Also:
City of Charlottetown meeting, including discussion of Holland College residence land-acquisition public meeting, 7PM,
Holland College, MacKinnon Theatre.

from a friend in the area (edited):
Tenants of the Grafton and Cumberland corner, the buildings which Holland College wants to buy and demolish in order to build a new residence, have gotten a little organized and are planning to present at the public meeting. It would be great if there was a little community support there for them (or speak in their support).  They have been excluded from notice of all public meetings because they are not property owners – while they are the ones who stand to lose far, far more than anyone else – their homes. Many of the tenants have lived in the buildings for years.  Although the law only requires the landlord to give them two months notice, fairness, respect and equitable treatment demands that they be given an appropriate length of time to find a new home, compensated fairly and given full support in moving and securing apartments which are in the same rent range and close to downtown, services and doctors. Most tenants don’t have a car and many have disabilities.

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Island Studies Lecture tonight:
Scale and Governance on Small Islands, by Dr. Peter Buker, 7PM, UPEI, SDU Main Building, free.

The relation between a political jurisdiction’s scale and how well (or poorly) its government performs is seldom addressed in scholarly literature or in practice. However, scale does affect governance. This lecture addresses the question: How do size factors of population and geography relate to accountability and responsibility, to efficiency and effectiveness? Citing political theory, public administration, economics, and social “small-scale” literature, and taking into account technological advances, Dr. Buker will focus on how scale applies to governance. The implications, especially for small island jurisdictions such as Prince Edward Island, are many. For example, the case for and against Maritime Union can be explored by looking at the tension between small governing systems supporting reciprocal relations between their citizens and their government and large governing systems supporting one-way command relations.
Dr. Peter Buker is Chair of General Studies at Yorkville University.

More details from UPEI.ca

And an Electoral Boundaries public meeting in Montague, 6:30PM, Montague High School.
---------------------------------
Andrew Revkin blogs at Dot Earth blogger at The New York Times, and he is a Senior Fellow for environmental understanding at Pace University in New York City.  He writes the March 28th Global Chorus essay.

        I long thought that the best strategy for sustaining a thriving environment was to envision, and then pursue, a future in which humans lived, worked, harvested, moved and played with a light footprint, leaving room for wild things and using a mix of traditions and technologies to limit impacts and regrets.
        There’s nothing wrong with visualizing success. But that implies that we know today what success 100 years from now should look like. More recently, I’ve shifted to an approach I think has a better chance, in a world of rapid change and enduring uncertainty, of maintaining a human relationship with natural resources and non-human inhabitants of the Earth that is productive and protective, but also agile and creative.
        Rather than envisioning and pursuing some future shaped by my biases and traditions, I’m tending to focus on nurturing a core set of human capacities that give each generation the best chance of leaving the next one a relatively undiminished suite of options, while not relying too heavily on a precautionary frame of mind.
        So what are the traits to cultivate in a sustainable society capable of working assertively on the environmental and social challenges with which we are faced? As I’ve distilled them, they almost make a rhyme: bend, stretch, reach, teach, reveal, reflect, rejoice, repeat.

        Bend, of course, is about flexibility and avoiding brittleness in both structures and policies.
        Stretch is about testing boundaries, via both exploration and innovation – sustaining curiosity and the courage to fail and fear.
        Reach is empathy and maintaining a collaborative, communicative culture that is best able to share and shape ideas that matter.
        Teach is nurturing in children the capacity to sustain the human adventure and cherish the home planet.
        Reveal means sustaining the capacity for observation and transparency.
        Reflect is analysis and follow up. Initiatives are often launched, but outcomes rarely tracked.
        Rejoice means relishing the gift of life and humanness, with all its merits and faults.
        Repeat is the discipline to avoid resting on laurels, to retest systems, examine conventions, to go back to step one.
 
    In a world focused on numbers – gigatons of gases, gigawatts of power, billions of dollars and people – any work to shift toward a focus on capacities can work wonders.
        — Andrew Revkin

March 27, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events today and tomorrow:
Monday, March 27th:
Public Forum on Migrant Worker Issues, 9:30AM-4PM, Farm Centre. <snip>   "...public, local organizations, faith communities, and the public sector will join together to address issues facing Migrant Workers in PEI and the Maritime Provinces."  More details here.

Last day to comment on the Provincial Agriculture Policy Framework (to be implemented in 2018), here.
Synopsis of possible discussion points from Kevin Arsenault, here.

Tonight is the Electoral Boundaries Commission meeting, 6:30PM, Crapaud Curling Club. Crapaud Council is holding its AGM at the Crapaud Hall, in case you want to go to both.
Their Facebook page.

Island Mothers Helping Mothers: Forum on "Let's Get Real about Mental Health in PEI", 7-9PM, Summerside (Causeway Bay Hotel)  tonight (and Charlottetown (Murchison Centre) tomorrow.)
More details here.
---------------------
Tuesday, March 28th:
National Farmers Union AGM
, Milton Community Hall, registration at 9:30, event begins at 10AM.  All welcome.

--------------------------
Jill Heinerth is an explorer and photographer, author and filmmaker, and founder of the We are Water Project.
Here is a one-minute YouTube that shows some of the areas she films, and explain the We Are Water project.  She writes the March 27th Global Chorus essay.


   
I am a cave diver. I swim through the veins of Mother Earth, exploring the shadowy recesses inside our planet. The foreboding doorways of underwater caves repel most people, but I am attracted to the constricted corridors, pressing my way through the blackness while relying on sophisticated technology for each sustaining breath. This is my workplace. Within the darkness of my office, survival depends on subsuming both curiosity and fear.
        I work with biologists discovering new species, physicists tracking climate change and hydrogeologists examining our finite freshwater reserves. Following the course of water wherever it guides me, my exploration has allowed me to witness new life forms inside Antarctic icebergs, skeletal remains of ancient civilizations and geologic formations that tell the story of Earth’s past.
        Underwater caves are museums of natural history that teach us about evolution and survival. They are portals to the mythic underworld of indigenous cultures and windows to the aquifer from which we drink. As I swim through these caverns measureless to man, it is not my own survival that I dwell on, but the survival of our water planet.
        Sometimes I fear we will not rise to meet the challenges of our current global environmental and social crises. Then I meet a young girl who wants to make the world a better place. My optimism expands.
        There is plenty of water on our big blue planet, but we are running out of clean freshwater we can afford. We all need to know where our water comes from, how we pollute it and how we can protect it for the future generations. We have to protect it from corporate interests whose success relies on commodifying and selling it to the highest bidder. Clean water is not just our greatest treasure, it is a basic human right. Helping young minds understand and embrace their water planet is key to our survival. We are water.
        — Jill Heinerth

March 26, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

If Sunday contemplation time is available:
Water Act draft
Consider sifting through documents available and see the schedule.  It's a very tight timetable to prepare any sort of comments.
 Water Act draft information

Electoral Boundaries Commission's work and schedule of meetings for the next two weeks:
https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/

Provincial Agricultural Policy Framework
The provincial Department of Agriculture is seeking feedback for the "next agricultural policy framework" which will be implemented April 1st, 2018.  Department info and survey here.
Island farmer and philosopher Kevin J. Arsenault has written an excellent blogpost on it, and offers suggestions on how to answer the survey to keep the policy more small farms and less agri-business focused, here:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/kevin-j-arsenault/deadline-approaching-for-input-on-new-agriculture-policy-framework-for-pei/10158285897650858
It can help you participate in the survey and get your point across when you don't have a huge amount of time.  The deadline is tomorrow, March 27th.
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Getting his point across, published Friday, March 24th, on social media:

Open Letter to the Premier

by David Weale

Dear Mr. Premier

What plans do you have for the orderly transition from industrial agriculture to something that builds up the soil rather than turning it into a lifeless material that can no longer rightly be called soil.

Dirt maybe, but not soil.

Don't you think it's scandalous that here on the Island -- this Garden of the Gulf -- we are systematically destroying what is surely our most important resource. I guess you don't because come to think of it I have no recollection of ever hearing you express any concern whatsoever about what is happening.

You warned all of us about the bikers, and the harm they could bring, yet you issue no warning about the assault on the soil, which is an incomparably greater danger than that posed by Hell's Angels.

So why do you warn about the one and not the other? You wouldn't be playing politics with something as precious as that would you? Or would you?

And to make matters worse, the attack on the soil is simultaneously an attack on every river, estuary and watershed in the province, and all the creatures large and small that depend on that watershed for their livelihood.

It is carnage on a grand scale, and you are silent as a stone, and, on this issue, about as useful.

Mr. Premier, there are many of us watching closely to see whether you are wanting the best long term for the Island, or whether you are one of those willing to turn a blind (visionless) eye to the languishing landscape to gain short term advantage.

Watching. Closely.

--David Weale

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

Ted Grand is the co-founder of Moksha Yoga in Canada and Modo Yoga International, and writes today's Global Chorus essay:

       
If there is one thing I have learned in this path of yoga and meditation, and the Moksha/Modo Yoga community, it is that there is always going to be an amazing friction between creation, sustenance and destruction. This looping, weaving dynamic is always going on, and not only in the human world – it is reflected in the animal kingdom, in Nature and in the unfolding of the cosmos. We humans, however, seem not to know how to control and balance these impulses, and so we create massive imbalance between our basic needs and the hunger of the ego. The status quo right now is definitely leaning towards reckless consumption and ambition, yet it seems like Nature always introduces something to force us to see our imbalance. Climate change, global pandemics and rising depression rates are but a few of the symptoms.
        So, do I see humanity finding a way past these crises? Yes, absolutely! We just need to chill out, take care of our nervous systems, cultivate gratitude and reverence for the myriad systems that give us life, and reinforce the idea that if we are oriented towards peace, we will ensure our long-term survival (or at least better our chances!). Yoga and meditation make us more peaceful, so we become prone to making decisions that benefit others, including all of Nature: we buy less crap, we generate empathy and compassion and we see our planet as a gift instead of a commodity.
        When we witness other people and communities that reflect this impulse towards calm and attention, it gives us tacit approval to effect behaviour that reinforces this relative peace. Yoga and meditation are but a sliver of a greater solution, but they provide a framework where we can become aware of our hunger and insecurity and transform them. We can then relax a bit and give ourselves permission to slow down and revel in our gratitude for the complex systems and deep wisdom that Nature possesses – we see that we are not separate from that which gives us life. Deep gratitude begins to arise. The more people who participate in this deep recognition, the better the chances are for all species to survive on this planet.
        In summary, there is hope, but it won’t come by just sitting on our butts. Unless we are sitting on meditation cushions …
        — Ted Grand

March 25, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' markets are open in Summerside and Charlottetown.
If you are looking at the idea of joining a community-supported agriculture project this summer, and getting a box of fresh vegetables each week (or one of many new combinations of local products, check out this page, maintained by Pauline Howard of the PEI Food Exchange:
http://www.foodexchangepei.com/list-of-csas-on-pei.html

--------------
Yesterday, U.S. president Trump gleefully approved the Keystone pipeline.
Bill McKibbon, of the climate-change-fighting organization 350.org, wrote to the group's supporters, for your information:

Dear Friends,

Today, nearly six years after the fight over the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline moved into high gear, Donald Trump approved the federal permit for the pipeline -- but this fight is far from over.

It’s not a surprise, but it still feels like a punch in the gut. A punch that should get us good and angry, not knock the wind out of our sails. Seizing this moment will require more of the things that carried us through to this point: passionate organizing, committed actions, and courage on all of our parts.

Prime Minister Trudeau has said that “only communities can grant permission” for mega-projects, and pledged to make Canada a climate leader. Keystone, just like the Energy East and Kinder Morgan pipelines, does not have community consent and, if built, would cook the planet.  If Trudeau is true to his word, he needs to oppose Trump’s approval of Keystone XL.  Petition link to write Prime Minister Trudeau.

Here’s how I’ve been thinking about things today.

1) The approval doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. There’s no permitted route through Nebraska; native tribes are hard at work in South Dakota; and a team of lawyers are gearing up to play their role as I write.

2) We’ve already won an awful lot. Six years times 800,000 barrels of oil a day equals a lot of carbon emissions saved. Not to mention that six years of delay has cost Transcanada a small fortune.

3) More to the point, Keystone jumpstarted a whole new phase of the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Now every new pipeline and frack well and coal port gets fought and fought hard. You’ve heard of some of these fights, like the Dakota Access and Kinder Morgan pipelines, but there are now hundreds more of them across the world.

There are many people, including Indigenous communities on both sides of the Canada-US border, who’ve been working to stop Keystone since the beginning, and they’re gearing up for this next round of the fight.

On the other hand, Trudeau’s Natural Resource Minister, Jim Carr, is cheerleading Trump and TransCanada -- applauding Keystone’s approval from Ottawa.  Petition to Prime Minister Trudeau again

We know what to do. We organize, we build big movements, we fight. I wish there was a silver bullet but moving forward, there’s just more of the hard work we’ve been doing for years.

Stay tuned. My friends from the Canada team at 350.org will be in touch with you soon about some of this work, and from what I’ve heard, it’s going to be exciting.

See you in the fight ahead,
Bill

-----------------------------------------
Professor Klaus Bosselmann,  New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law at the University of Auckland, writes the March 25th, Global Chorus essay.

       
Sustainability means living within planetary boundaries. To survive, everything we plan and do has to be mindful of this imperative of natural law. Sustainability must therefore inform all our policies, laws and institutions. If liberty, equality and justice are the pillars of modern civilization, sustainability provides their foundation and roof – picture a Greek temple. Sustainability is missing in our current civilizational model. But for decision-makers to even ignore it now, i.e., amidst dangerous climate change, spells ecocide and is an insult to human intelligence.
        Thankfully, history has shown that people will not tolerate ignorance for too long. More and more citizens live the truth now. They will prevail, first for themselves, then amongst their peers and communities and eventually across countries and the entire world.
        This is my belief. It is the belief in the human spirit.
         --Klaus Bosselmann

March 24, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some upcoming events:

Today:
Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries, 10AM,
J. Angus MacLean Building. "The committee will receive a briefing from Hon. Alan McIsaac and John Jamieson, Minister and Deputy Minister, respectively, of Agriculture and Fisheries, on minimum lobster carapace size; Atlantic halibut quota; new entrants to the oyster industry; new fisheries safety regulations; and the PEI poultry industry."
More info

Tonight:
Education Rally, 6PM, Confederation Centre of the Arts
from The Guardian story:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/2017/3/23/education-rally-planned-for-friday-in-charlottetown.html

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Education will be back in the forefront with a rally planned for Friday night at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown.

Advertisement

The rally starts at 6 p.m. with a focus on potential school closures and P.E.I.’s lack of an elected English language school board. Rally organizers said it will be a passive protest to raise awareness of the issues facing rural P.E.I. It also coincides with a panel discussion with Peter Mansbridge and other CBC journalists at the centre Friday night.Organizers said the rally was an attempt to raise awareness of significant policy decisions affecting Islanders with national newsmakers and their organizations.

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

Saturday, March 25th:

(Registration closed Friday PM)
Workshop, Great Waters Challenge for Youth, 10AM-2:30PM, Haviland Club, facilitated by Dona Geagea.  "A regional workshop to bring together young people interested in water, interested in creating something in their community."  Gary Schneider and Becka Viau will be presenting, and afterward the participants will work together to develop a way to celebrate water in the community, possibly in conjunction with the Clyde River Pageant. 
Registration through eventbrite

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Electoral Boundaries Meetings
All 6:30-8:30PM
  • Monday, March 27th -- Crapaud Curling Club (rescheduled)
  • Tuesday, March 28th -- Montague Regional High School
  • Wednesday, March 29th -- Ellerslie Elementary School
  • Thursday, March 30th -- Westisle Composite High School, Elmsdale
These will be wrapping up week after next and apparently the results will be presented to the P.E.I. Legislature this spring (I may have that wrong).
https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/
---------------------
Monday, March 27th:
Rights, Faith and Policy: A Public Forum on Migrant Worker Issues, 9:30AM-4PM,
Farm Centre, all welcome, pre-registration appreciated.
Facebook event details here

Forum: Let's Get Real About Mental Health in P.E.I., 7-9PM, Summerside location: Causeway Bay Hotel, free.  "WHY?  As mothers, we are on the front lines of dealing with mental illness in PEI. Whether it is advocating for help for yourself, your friends, your children, or your loved ones, almost every Island woman is connected to addictions, mental illness or abuse in some way. I have been shocked by your struggles over the past three years and believe that we live in a province where our most vulnerable deserve better. " (forum description con't below)
More details
 
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Tuesday, March 28th:
National Farmers' Union District Convention, Registration: 9:30AM, Meeting  begins at 10AM, Milton Community Hall, all welcome.
"
The afternoon session will begin with a viewing of the video Islanders and the Land.  This video, produced by Don Kossick,  features Island farmers  and their passion for the care and preservation of the farmland.  The keynote speaker is NFU National President Jan Slomp who will speak on the state of Canadian Agriculture and what that means for rural Canada."

Forum: Let's Get Real About Mental Health in P.E.I., 7-9PM, Charlottetown location: Murchison Centre
(description con't)"Island Mothers Helping Mothers is hosting public forums where members of the public will be able to speak about their experience trying to access mental health services in PEI. As individuals we have been ignored for too long. As a group of 4000 we can no longer be ignored."
More details

--------------------
Laurence Overmire,  poet, actor, genealogist, peace activist, and author of The One Idea That Saves The World: A Call to Conscience and A Call to Action  and wrote the March 24th Global Chorus essay.

       
Yes. The world is on fire. We are in the midst of social, political and environmental upheaval. Will humanity survive or will we throw it all away? Everything is on the line. That makes this the most exciting time to be alive – ever!
        Is there any hope? Of course there is. Take a look in the mirror. YOU are the hope for the future.
        Now, more than ever before, the world needs YOU.
        But you’re not alone. All of the good people of this Earth are now waking up. Every day more and more are coming to help us put out the fire.
        Our children and our grandchildren and all our descendants in times to come are counting on us to do the right thing.
        Now is the time when the whole world needs to come together.
        It’s all about love. It is our love for one another, for Mother Earth, for our fellow creatures that compels us to act on their behalf.
        We are One.
        We are interconnected and interdependent upon one another for our well-being. This truth has been expressed over and over again by scientists, poets, artists, musicians, philosophers and every great spiritual teacher. It is what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the interrelated structure of reality.” It’s what the Golden Rule is all about.
           This oneness means that every positive action we take, no matter how small, will have an impact. Every act of love sends out ripples of love into the Universe. That’s powerful stuff. Each of us has different gifts and different ways to help.
        Each of us must do our part. There is always more and more that we can do. Find those who help and inspire you.
        Join the Bucket Brigade! Get in line with all of your friends and neighbours. They come from all over the world, from all walks of life and from every religion. With love in our hearts, we will meet these challenges head on, and I think, I truly believe, we can save the world!
        — Laurence Overmire

March 23, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

If the weather clears, Peter Bevan-Baker (District 17:Kelly's Cross-Cumberland) is still planning a community meeting at Bonshaw Community Centre, 7-9PM, tonight.

Sydney MacEwen (Opposition MLA District 7:Morell-Mermaid) is being interviewed on CBC Radio at 6:50AM to talk about the P.E.I. Energy Strategy, which was released to the public last week.
----
Allan Rankin writes a weekly column which is also printed in The Graphic publications and his own blog,
http://www.theislandheartbeat.com/?p=1913

The Premier’s Leadership Style Gets In the Way of Meaningful Public Engagement - The Graphic article by Allan Rankin

Published in The Graphic and on-line, Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Real public engagement is a tricky thing for governments, especially when the preference is to ignore the expressed views of the electorate, and to control the policy making agenda.

Most governments like to get things done, to adopt policy and implement programs with straight line authority, from the top down, and public engagement simply gets in the way.

It is an unwelcome exercise for premiers and ministers.

In the early days of the Ghiz Liberal administration, before high risk adventuring and self interested, clandestine operations took over the agenda, there was an honest desire to solicit the views of Islanders. I remember attempting to introduce more sophisticated public engagement practises, and how strongly government departments resisted consulting and listening, beyond perfunctory meetings with “stakeholders” and local politicians, whose views usually were pre-cooked or orchestrated to coincide with those of government.

The new Education Act, its regulatory and policy framework, and the layers of advisory bodies surrounding it, would give the impression that our current government is serious about listening to parents, and teachers, and communities in delivering public education.

But the entire system is monolithic, and built to ensure that the executive will and power of government is maintained, while giving Islanders the illusion their views and opinions are being heard and respected.

Public engagement is also a conversation, not just listening, and the recent school review public consultations were a classic example of government sitting silently in judgement, with the recording devices running. There was no real public engagement, no back and forth, no exchange of ideas, and not even a defense of what was a seriously flawed and incomplete government report and recommendations.

Two provincial groups intimately associated with public schools, the Teachers’ Federation (PEITF) and the Home and School Federation, sat on the sidelines throughout the current school review, choosing to remain silent. Teachers and principals presented their views to government secretly, and the Home and School Federation refused to support its own members in communities threatened with school closure.

It’s hard to know what kind of public engagement that is.

Meaningful public engagement also is extremely difficult when there is an autocratic approach to leadership, and Premier MacLauchlan seems to be that kind of political leader, micro managing, and making decisions based upon his own ideas and judgements.

That’s been his history, and those who have worked with him attest to his authoritarian style. As the smartest person in the room, he simply defers to his own knowledge and better judgement. Now, there are advantages to authoritarian leadership of course, and no one would question our premier’s intelligence or abilities.

I have been told that Premier MacLauchlan’s micro managing and authoritarian leadership is evident in Cabinet, and in dealing with his ministers and their departments and agencies. This can’t engender much solidarity or positive morale, and with the recent CRA poll putting him on life support, and far behind his own party in popularity among Islanders, it may be time for MacLauchlan to reassess his approach to leadership.

Islanders are not going to war, needing the unquestioned leadership of a General Patton, or MacArthur, or a Romeo Dallaire, who by the way I would follow into the darkest corners. We are not warriors on some battlefield. We are members of a democratic society, citizens with rights and powers. We expect our elected government to honor its mandate, and to genuinely consult with us during the fulfillment of that mandate.

Perhaps the craziest, most extreme example of our premier’s authoritarian overreach is his co-chairing of the Learning Partners Advisory Council on Education, together with UPEI Professor Bill Whalen. That ‘advisory’ Council reports to the Minister of Education and Early Learning, and so we have the rather novel arrangement of the premier reporting to one of his ministers, a kind of heels over head accountability.

The next big test for the MacLauchlan government is the proposed Water Act, to be tabled in the legislature in a few weeks. This critically important piece of legislation will determine how our water resources are protected and used in the future, and there are contentious issues, including the commercial and industrial use of water, for crop irrigation and fracking.

To the government’s credit, there have been extensive public consultations leading up the release of the draft Water Act, and further meetings are scheduled. But once again, if this public engagement is to be legitimate, there must be a fulsome and open conversation with Islanders, based upon solid scientific information.

As Conservative MLA Brad Trivers correctly stated, “the devil is in the details,” and I am sure that Mr. Trivers and his opposition colleagues, along with Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, will be giving the proposed legislation thorough scrutiny. But outside the legislature, it’s also our responsibility as Islanders, to demand and participate in, meaningful public engagement around water resources.

We don’t need more prescribed, top down solutions, or one-way conversations.

-------------------------------
Roshini Thinakaran,  National Geographic Emerging Explorer,  and a TED Global Fellow.  Here is here National Geographic Explorer biography.  She writes the March 23rd Global Chorus essay.

       
She lived on a farm on the outskirts of Hillah, an Iraqi city roughly 80 miles from Baghdad. Wrapped around her head was a red and white shemagh, a traditional headscarf worn by men throughout the Middle East. She did not speak a word of English and to this day I do not know her name, but the life in her eyes inspired me to document the lives of women in war zones.
        We arrived in Baghdad on December 18, 2003. My official job was working alongside my boyfriend to build a media company. A company with the sole purpose of providing media support for the Department of Defense. Unofficially, I was on a journey of discovery.
        The U.S.-led occupation had wiped out the only government Iraqis had known for decades. We worked and lived outside of the Green Zone, the home of the Coalition Provision Authority. Iraq had not yet spiralled out of control and we travelled freely. I travelled with a camera in the hopes of capturing everyday life images.
        On a trip to the city of Hillah is where I first saw the girl in the men’s headscarf. She was herding sheep and I wanted to capture that moment in her life. She looked directly at me and smiled. The life in her eyes was magnetic and her half smile peered through the metal fence separating us. It’s as if she was as curious about my life as I was about hers.
        I never went back to that place in Hillah, but I thought about her frequently. Did she go to school?
What were her dreams for the future? It is not easy to explain, but the strength and hope I saw in her reassured me of her survival, even during the darkest times of the Iraq War that followed the U.S.occupation of the country.
        I left Iraq in 2005 and spent the next few years documenting the lives of women in countries torn apart by war, including Beirut, Liberia, Afghanistan and back to Iraq. The women I documented were from different backgrounds but they had two things in common: they had all gone through war and all of them had hope.
        I’m not sure if hope is something we are born with or are taught. Sometimes I think it’s a choice.
        — Roshini Thinakaran

March 22, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

It is World Water Day!

United Nations World Water Day poster.
from http://www.unwater.org/wwd17/
----------------------
In December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution “International Decade (2018–2028) for Action – Water for Sustainable Development” to help put a greater focus on water during ten years.  
Emphasizing that water is critical for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger, UN Member States expressed deep concern over the lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene and over water related disasters, scarcity and pollution being excarcebated by urbanization, population growth, desertification, drought and climate change.
The new Decade will focus on on the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources for the achievement of social, economic and environmental objectives and on the implementation and promotion of related programmes and projects, as well as on the furtherance of cooperation and partnership at all levels in order to help to achieve internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In the resolution, UN Member States invited the Secretary-General, with the support of UN-Water, to take appropriate steps, within existing resources, to plan and organize the activities of the Decade at the global, regional and country levels. To set the agenda in motion, UN-Water, in its 26th meeting in Geneva in February 2017, decided on the establishment of a Task Force to facilitate its support to the planning and organisation.
The Decade will commence on World Water Day 22 March 2018, and terminate on World Water Day, 22 March 2028.
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From going to see the shore, to walks by the rivers, reading the provincial draft Water Act materials
fixing leaks in household plumbing, it's a good day to think about water.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Peter Bevan-Baker has postponed his District 17 Community meeting until tomorrow, Thursday, 7PM, Bonshaw Community Centre.
Facebook event page
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This Global Chorus poem essay is written by Ken Plummer,  emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Essex (UK),  and author of A Manifesto for Critical Humanism in Sociology 


No Other Way
There’s no other way.
That’s what they say.
Economics must put money before people,
And medicine must put profit before health.
Education must put management before wisdom,
And religion must put war before love.
Technology must put machines before environments,
And politicians must put power before care.
We must follow the way things are done.

There’s no other way.
That’s what they say.

But what if economics valued feelings,
And medicine always pursued dignity.
If education aimed for the flourishing of humanity,
And religion wanted better worlds for all.
If technology looked out for justice,
And politicians put people first.
If we all just tried to be kind to each other?
There surely is a much better way
Than the one they preach to us every day.

— Ken Plummer

March 21, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Last night some representatives of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water and other interested folks met and discussed some aspects of the new draft Water Act.  On the whole there are many positive things to say about it, though it has a couple of areas for improvement, such as an outright ban on fracking.

There will be a press release tomorrow as the 22nd is World Water Day, and Coalition Chair Catherine O'Brien will be on Island Morning sometime today. 

https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/communities-land-and-environment/water-act

Schedule of public meetings on the draft Water Act

  • all 7-9PM
  • Thursday, March 30- Kaylee Hall, Pooles Corner
  • Monday, April 3,  Westisle Composite High School, Elmsdale
  • Wednesday, April 5, - Credit Union Place, Summerside
  • Monday, April 10, - Murphy's Community Centre, Charlottetown
---------------
Along with the Water Act, late last week the province released the Energy Strategy, which was completed last fall.  The Climate Change Action Plan website is up and has many articles and other material.  The Climate Change Secretariat (with executive director Todd Dupuis and representatives from other government departments) is reviewing the Climate Change Mitigation recommendations and waiting for the Adaptation recommendations. In the Fall there should be a Climate Change Action Plan that addresses both Mitigation (greenhouse gas production sources) and adaptation (dealing with the effects).
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/climate-change-0
And:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/climate-change-action-plan

-----------------------------------
Kellie Lietch, federal Conservative leadership candidate, is also going to be on P.E.I. tomorrow, at 11:30AM at the Robins's Donuts on Capital Drive in Charlottetown.
-------------------------
The March 21st Global Chorus essay is by Lester R. Brown,  president of Earth Policy Institute, and author of World on the Edge.
      
  The challenge is, how do we get from here to there? Oystein Dahle said, “Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the environmental truth.”
        Our failure to incorporate the price of fossil fuels into the cost of climate change has led us to create an enormously costly situation for ourselves and certainly for the next generation. The trick is to get the market to tell the environmental truth. And the way to do it is to lower income taxes and offset that with a rising carbon tax. No change in the amount of tax we pay; but initiate this reduction and offsetting over the next dozen years, and in stages, so that everyone can adjust and plan accordingly.
        We used to talk about saving the planet. The challenge now is to save civilization. Because if the number of failing states in the world keeps increasing, civilization itself will, at some point, begin to unravel. This is our challenge: saving civilization is not a spectator sport. It’s going to require the participation of every one of us. And we’re in a situation now where every day counts. We’re in a race between tipping points – natural tipping points and political tipping points. Each of us must get involved politically, work on important issues and help to restructure the economy. Whether it’s the energy economy, or the materials economy or the comprehensive re-use/recycle economy – the old economic model, the fossil-fuel-based/automobile-centric/throwaway economy simply cannot take us where we want to go. It will not continue much longer, because it is self-destructing. The challenge is to replace it with a renewable-energy-powered economy, one that has a much more diversified transport system, and one that reuses and recycles everything.
        This is our challenge. If you like challenges, this is a great time to be around.
        — Lester R. Brown

March 20, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

It is looking like a quiet week in some respects, probably due to public school March Break happening.

The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water is meeting tonight at 7PM at the Farm Centre to discuss the draft Water Act.  It's not meant to be a public information forum, but an opportunity for a group to discuss some of the aspects of it and to begin to craft a statement for World Water Day, which is Wednesday, March 22nd.  If that interests you, you are welcome to attend.

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There are no Standing Committee meetings scheduled until Friday AM (Agriculture and Fisheries), but if you wanted to read any transcripts or listen to past meetings, go here for any records:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/legcommittees
---------

More going on regarding environment or democratic involvement events on the Citizens' Alliance website calendar:
http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/events

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FYI, or if you want to say "hello" outside the tickets only locations:
Wednesday, March 22nd:
Federal Conservative leadership hopeful Kevin O'Leary is attending three publicized events Wednesday which are just open to Conservative Party members who have memberships or buy them.  More details here.
Pooles Corner for an 8:30AM pancake breakfast
Holland College CAST Building at 11:45AMAM for a meet and greet and light lunch
Upstreet Brewery at 2:30PM for "tea"
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From the Council of Canadians, an excerpt from a longer article about activist Winona LaDuke (and more about her work with "Honour the Earth", here):
from  http://canadians.org/blog/10-things-you-need-know-about-line-3-pipeline

Progress is possible! - The Council of Canadians blog post by Brigette DePage

<snip>

10. Hope for progress lies in renewable energy and re-localizing food

Winona reminds us that while governments are approving pipelines like Line 3, people’s movements are powerful and it’s possible to stop pipelines and protect the earth. She points to her community which successfully stopped Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper pipeline which would have run through her territory.

It was incredibly inspiring to see a map of renewable energy projects happening around the Line 3 pipeline route. The map was only for the states. What could this look like for Canada? What renewable energy projects are being built and could be built as an alternative to unsustainable fossil fuels pipelines? It was extremely inspiring to see Winona and her community leading by example with their very own solar panel project near her home.

Let’s do this!  

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         Guy Dauncey is an author (of mostly recently, The Journey to the Future: A Better World is Possible), and eco-futurist (more about him at Earth Future).  He wrote the March 20th Global Chorus essay.

         Hope is an extraordinary source of energy. It comes from the heart, and once running, it motivates us to dream new dreams. Let it slip away and everything feels – yes, hopeless.    
        We don’t know enough to give up hope. That would be an extraordinarily weak-minded indulgence. As long as we are alive, we can imagine new ways to tackle our problems, and put them into action. We know how to farm organically with good yields, how to flourish on a vegetarian diet and how grow our own food. We can feed the world, even at ten billion people.
        We know how to reduce our energy use and generate energy from renewables; there’s a growing list of communities that operate on 100 per cent renewable energy. We know how to conserve water, how to build composting toilets that use no water, how to graze cattle so that carbon returns to the soil and how to save the world’s fish by establishing marine sanctuaries. We know how to limit our population growth, how to preserve the world’s forests and how to end war and violence.  There are no major technical hurdles that block the path to a peaceful, green sustainable world where we live in harmony with Nature. The barriers are primarily political and economic, so it is here that we must create a global chorus of new dreams.
        Our ancestors built a global economy based on “ME,” with private property, private wealth and private tax evasion. Around the world, communities are building new co-operative economies based on “WE,” with new ways of banking and new ways of doing business in socially responsible ways that are often more successful than their counterparts in the “ME” economy. We can upgrade our democracies to make them more proportional, removing corruption and corporate cronyism. We can upgrade the global economy, eliminating tax havens and turning foul trade into fair.
        All these things are possible. We just need to believe, and commit our lives to being part of a green, sustainable future. We have the intelligence. We have the skills. We just need the hope – and the determination.
        — Guy Dauncey

March 19, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here are a couple of thoughtful letters in the paper recently.

The bottom line from Marie Burge (bold is mine):
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/2017/3/16/marie-burge--schools-essential-for-rural-p-e-i-.html

MARIE BURGE: Schools essential for rural P.E.I. - The Guardian Opinion piece by Marie Burge

Cooper Institute views closure issue as critically connected to democratic renewal

Published on Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Cooper Institute stands with communities in P.E.I. lobbying to keep their rural schools open. Like many other Islanders, we see the recurring school closure issue as crucial for the future of rural P.E.I. Furthermore, we see it as an issue critically connected to democratic renewal.

Underlying all rural issues are policies related to the ownership and use of farmland. P.E.I. is rural because of its land base. We need to remember the history of consolidation. In the early 70s it was clearly presented that the consolidation of schools and the consolidation of farmland were to go hand-in-hand. And so it was.

It seems that governments would not be satisfied until both farming and education should follow an industrial, profit model of development. So-called efficiency was, and is, the order of the day. The results: loss of family-managed farmland, the closing of rural schools and the decline of access to quality rural healthcare have all served to de-populate rural P.E.I.

It is encouraging to see the level of engagement of people, not only parents, in this latest school closure plan. We welcome the increase in the numbers of Islanders raising their voices. It is our hope that policy makers will understand that it’s 2017 and people will not stand for an old style consultation process. The old style was to ask the people for input after which the government just went ahead with their original plan. We don’t need any more cynicism in P.E.I. than already exists.

This brings us to question how our democracy works in P.E.I. We have a long history of governments with absolute power, gained through false majorities in elections. If the governing party, for example, has 66.6 per cent of the seats (with only 40.9 per cent of the votes), it is generally improbable that its proposals can be defeated, no matter how strongly the people speak out.

Cooper Institute, more strongly than ever, supports Proportional Representation and particularly Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) which won a majority in the November 2016 plebiscite. If the school question, or for that matter rural healthcare, and new models of farming, were to be considered by a government elected under MMP, it is certain that the debate in the Legislature would bring out the variety of concerns of Islanders.

If more voices were heard in the Legislature, there could be a new model of rural development which would give more people incentives to settle permanently in rural P.E.I. We would expect healthy rural economies on which to build strong rural communities.

It is important to keep remembering, and reminding others, of the direct connection between proportional representation and the promise of better policies in all areas of Island life.

 - Marie Burge of Mermaid is a member of Cooper Institute Collective

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http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/2017/3/17/alan-buchanan--parental-instincts-and-education-.html

ALAN BUCHANAN: Parental instincts and education - The Guardian Opinion piece by Alan Buchanan

But there is no mistaking the power and the passion that has been unleashed by this process’

Published on Friday, March 17th, 2017

One of the most encouraging outcomes of the recent controversy in education is the high level of engagement and the exceptional quality of debate and intervention it has elicited from parents and communities.

At public meetings all across the province, presenter after presenter has mounted credible, well-researched, passionate, and articulate arguments against the recommendations for re-zoning and closing schools. Time and again, the assumptions, data, and fundamental arguments and conclusions contained in the report have been challenged and found wanting.

It all appears to have come as a huge surprise to the bureaucrats and the politicians. At each of the public meetings, Public School Branch officials and board members sit at the front of the room, appearing weak, ineffectual, and outright frightened as they wither before the barrage of data and emotion directed at them and their plans. They have been exposed as lacking even a modicum of understanding of the communities whose fate they control.

Meanwhile, government MLA’s and cabinet ministers shuffle around the back of the room, sulking and muttering among themselves as they listen to speaker after speaker.... most of whom are far more articulate than they are...attack their government’s plan. They must go home at night and fret about which of these well-spoken and motivated presenters is likely to challenge them at the next election. Apparently only one of their number had the courage to go back to town and tell the boss; “We’re on a losing path.”

But, no one should be surprised at the resistance this effort has created. The issue of education encapsulates the three things we hold most dear: our community; our tax dollars; and our children. This latter is a particularly powerful motivator. Ask any parent and they will tell you that the moment they saw their first born, everything changed. They knew they would defend that child with their life if the need arose.  Protecting our young is a natural parental instinct, and those who have never had children may overlook the power and passion that it engenders.

But there is no mistaking the power and the passion that has been unleashed by this process. And while there are exemplars of leadership from both genders, the greatest protectors of our children, schools, and communities in this process have been women. The majority of presenters have been women, and the resistance movement is being led by women. I’m sure I don’t need to remind members of the Liberal caucus that women are much more likely to change their vote....and more likely to influence others to change theirs.

At the public meeting in Kinkora, one speaker warned the government they ought not to “poke the bear.” They’ve done worse. They’ve threatened the bear’s cubs, and that never ends well.

- Alan Buchanan is a former Liberal MLA from the Belfast area

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

Dr. Helen Caldicott is a paediatrician whose work in Physicians for Social Responsibility (a part of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) played a part in the awarding of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize to the latter.  This March 19th Global Chorus essay was written a couple of years ago; with some current madcap world leaders, all her work becomes more relevant.  *This is one of the best in an anthology of very good essays.*

   
We are at a critical point in the Earth’s evolution as the human species wreaks havoc upon Nature and upon itself. I sometimes wonder whether we are an evolutionary aberrant not meant to survive long because of our overdeveloped neocortex and underdeveloped sense of morality and responsibility.
        In truth, to use a medical analogy, the Earth is in the intensive care unit, almost terminally ill, and we – you and me – are all physicians to a dying planet. Unless we can muster the same sort of dedication, knowledge and intuitive wisdom that we physicians demonstrate at three a.m. when trying to save our dying patients, it is clear that most earthly species will become extinct.
        Education is the key, as Jefferson said: “An informed democracy will behave in a responsible fashion.”
        The trouble is that most western people and others are addicted to television, which, instead of accepting responsibility for scientific and political education, has been captured by corporations with intent to sell their unnecessary items to a supplicant public, supported by trivia and unctuous programs.
        The Earth is now threatened with three major crises:

  • the ever-present threat of nuclear war, with thousands of U.S. and Russian hydrogen bombs on hair-trigger alert to be launched with a three-minute decision time, which would initiate nuclear winter, a ten-year-long ice age and the death of most earthly species;
  • global warming which gets worse by the year: by 2100 temperatures will be 6°C hotter, conditions antithetical to human existence;
  • over 400 nuclear power plants scattered throughout the world, each awaiting possible meltdowns like Fukushima, each accruing thousands of tons of radioactive waste which must be isolated from the ecosphere for one million years, a physical impossibility.
        Most politicians are scientifically and medically ignorant. In our democracies it is our responsibility to educate them and insist they legislate for life and not for short-term or long-term death.
        They are our representatives and we are their leaders. It is time we roused ourselves from our couches and computer-styled indolence, to thoroughly educate ourselves on these issues and put our souls and bodies on the line to use our wonderful democracies to save the earthly magic of possibly the only life in the universe.
        — Helen Caldicott

March 18, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

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

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Some Market providers and support team were presenting to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries yesterday morning about organic agriculture in P.E.I.

Here is a picture, with thanks to the Progressive Conservative Caucus and their Twitter posting, where it was originally.

Amy Smith of HeartBeet Organics, Mark Schurman of Schurman Family Farms, and Karen Murchison of the PEI Certified Organic Producers Cooperative at the Standing Committee meeting, Friday, March 17th, 2017.  Amy is the president of the Cooperative, Mark the vice-president, and Karen the research coodinator.

Looks like the clock on the wall is still on Standard Time, or time just stopped.

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

I am looking forward to the transcript of that meeting, since I wasn't able to be in the Gallery.  Topics that were touched on included discussing what organic certification means and what kinds of support are out there, and how government could use more local foods in its facilities.

The audio recording of the meeting is already up and here:
https://soundcloud.com/user-580612943/standing-committee-on-agriculture-and-fisheries-march-17-2017mp3

By the way, the PEI Certified Organic Producers Cooperative is holding their AGM Wednesday, March 29th, 7PM, at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown.  The guest speaker will be John Jamieson, Deputy Minister of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (as well as the newly named Deputy Minister of Department of Rural and Regional Development).

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

It's a great time to consider signing up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.  Here is a wonderful list of farmers and what they are offering, compiled and updated by the wonderful Pauline Howard:
http://www.foodexchangepei.com/list-of-csas-on-pei.html

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Just released (though the government received it last Fall): the Provincial Energy Strategy.
http://www.peiec.ca/the-strategy.html

And the page on the new provincial government website (www.princeedwardisland.ca vs. www.gov.pe.ca) on the Climate Change Action Plan is up (more about the Climate Change plans another day):
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/climate-change-action-plan

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Odey Oyama is a Nigerian "architect, politician, environmental and human rights activist,  executive director of Rainforest Resource and Development Centre,  an NGO for environment and development  based in Cross River State, Nigeria".  He writes the March 18th Global Chorus essay:

       
Protecting the environment does not seem to be a common goal that has been accepted globally. This position is evident in the fact that some of the major powers in the world have still not signed the Kyoto Protocol. Many people, institutions and agencies are still working under the impression that they have the right to continue destroying the environment. In order to cover up for their destructive practices, they offer to pay money or grants to people and communities in other parts of the world for the purpose of ameliorating the destructions caused by them.
        It is difficult to believe that those who have contributed most to the pollution of the world’s environment over the last one hundred and fifty years can ever come together to agree to reverse the trend. The Kyoto Protocol has been the test case. If all the industrialized nations had agreed to jointly sign the Kyoto Protocol, there perhaps would have been some hope. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be much hope of any consensus.
        In my view, therefore, humanity can only move beyond the present state of the environment if people develop the consciousness to reduce and control their large footprints rather than continue to depend on other people in other regions of the world to ameliorate the damage they themselves are causing in the environment through their selfish actions in industrialization and energy production.
        — Odey Oyama

March 17, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Sorry there were link troubles with accessing the Water Act website.  I wonder if traffic to the site yesterday overwhelmed it?

Anyway, if you have just over one minute, District 19 Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers does a fantastic job expressing what he wants, and what he thinks Islanders want from this Act, and what they should be looking for and planning to get involved in.
https://pcpeicaucus.ca/2017/03/draft-water-act-released-trivers/

A bit more time:
Here is the overview, six pages, (instead of the 38 of the Act):
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/sites/default/files/publications/inside_the_water_act.pdf

And the full government page with all the links:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/communities-land-and-environment/water-act

The public consultation dates are -- all 7-9PM

  • Thursday, March 30th - Kaylee Hall, Pooles Corner
  • Monday, April 3rd- Westisle Composite High School, Elmsdale
  • Wednesday, April 5th - Credit Union Place, Summerside
  • Monday, April 10th - Murphy's Community Centre, Charlottetown

Minister Mitchell will be on CBC Radio sometime between 7-8AM.
-------------------------------------------------
Today, an interesting Standing Committee meeting:
Friday, March 17, 2017

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing from the PEI Certified Organic Producers Co-operative on organic certification and use of the term “organic”. Other witnesses to be confirmed.

-------------------
Jean Kilbourne is an "author, educator, feminist activist,  creator of the film series Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women". Her website is here.
She writes the March 17th Global Chorus essay.

       
I’m looking at a photograph of my 24-year-old daughter, Claudia, that was taken in Thailand in November. She is playing with a baby tiger and she looks ecstatic. She went to Thailand on behalf of Daughters Rising, a non-profit organization that she and two other young women run. Its mission is to help girls in Thailand and Cambodia who are at risk of being trafficked. It’s hard to think of anything that fills me with greater horror and despair than girls being sexually exploited and trafficked. But this photograph gives me hope. Because here is my lovely young daughter, volunteering to do such important and risky work, willing to see the darkest side of human nature – and yet here she is with a baby tiger on her shoulders and a broad smile lighting up her face.
        And there are so many young people like her. Young people who teach school in dangerous neighbourhoods, who pitch their tents at Occupy sites, who put their bodies between the bulldozers and the trees, who put down their drugs and stay clean and sober a day at a time, who create dazzling art, who fight for gay rights and women’s rights and social justice all around the world. I meet many of these young people as I travel around the country and the world giving lectures. And I hear from them in emails or Facebook messages they send after seeing one of my films or reading one of my books. They tell me what they are doing to bring about change. And they give me hope. Because they are doing this work with joy. Most of them are not succumbing to bitterness, hopelessness and despair.
        These young people will find new solutions to old problems. They will create a new vocabulary (such as “the 99 per cent” and “LGBTQ”). In one of her most famous poems, Emily Dickinson described hope as “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” I believe we can count on our young people to protect this precious feathered thing from extinction.
        — Jean Kilbourne

March 16, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A few reminders:

Thursday, March 16th:

Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy
1:30 PM, Meeting # 3, Policy on vacant infrastructure and efficiencyPEI

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing from Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, and John MacQuarrie, Deputy Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, on the policies regarding vacant infrastructure in the province. An overview of efficiencyPEI will also be provided.
----------------------------

Electoral Boundaries Commission meeting, 6:30-8:30PM, Milton Community Hall

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Seed-saving Workshop at the Murray Harbour Library, 7PM
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The Auditor General's 2017 report came out yesterday and is found here. The Minister of Family and Human Services Tina Mundy will be on CBC Radio after the 7AM news regarding the AG's criticism on seniors' housing.
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Peter Bevan-Baker (District 17: Kellys Cross-Cumberland) is holding two community meetings with residents -- Crapaud Hall on Monday, March 20th and Bonshaw Community Centre on Wednesday the 22nd, both 7-9PM.
http://www.peterbevanbaker.ca/constituency/2017/03/community-meetings-in-district-17/ 

If your MLA is hosting get-togethers, please let me know.
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More events on the calendar, here: http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/events
----------------------------------

Democracy Hero is an initiative to send your MP a message that you would like him or her to act on electoral reform. It's from the LeadNow.ca group, takes just a minute (or longer, if you wish to personalize the message).
https://act.leadnow.ca/democracy-heroes/
--------------------------

Micheal Reynolds is an "architect turned biotect, inventor/founder of Earthship" and writes this free verse for the March 16th Global Chorus.  Here is a link to a YouTube interview with him (it's two parts):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cFl5C0pLWI

Trains gather people and take them to specific destinations.
They have opened up continents and developed countries … but they can only go where there is track.
If there is no track, the train does not go there.

The evolution of humanity on this planet has developed its own track.
Belief systems, religions, economies, political regimes, laws, codes, regulations … all have become “tracks” to our future. These tracks have opened up continents and developed countries …
but there is a problem …
a changing planet and a growing population have created the need to go to places
that these tracks do not go.
There is a new frontier now …
evolution beyond the tracks.

This evolution will require that every decision made on this planet,
by any jurisdiction, anywhere,
be made with the sustenance of all the peoples and all the animals and all the plants
in mind.

 The economy, the corporations and other institutions will be placed in their rightful
positions behind the needs of the people and the planet. At this time, an
insignificant economy will emerge. This economy will be a result of the sustenance of
the people. Human equity will be found to be far more valuable than monetary equity.

Life will no longer float on an economy. Life will have its own wings.
        — Michael Reynolds

March 15, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This afternoon:

Wednesday, March 15th:
Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development, 1:30PM
1:30 PM, Meeting # 4, High-speed internet services

Topic: The committee will receive briefings on high-speed internet services from representatives of Wicked EH?, Xplornet Communications Inc., Air Tech Communications, PEI Monitoring, and Eastlink.

This is interesting as the province announced yesterday that it is going to start measuring rural internet speed, something the Progressive Conservatives have been calling for, and providing simple instructions on how people could do this, for a while now.
Government press release on high-speed internet.

Tonight:
Electoral Boundaries Commission public meeting, 6:30-8:30PM, Stratford Town Hall
(Tomorrow is Milton, and Crapaud should be rescheduled at some point)
More info: https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/
-----------------------------
Just Asking...
commentary from members of the Citizens' Alliance:

The province recently got a nasty little note about owing $30 million in federal taxes.  Oops!  Now where in the world is PEI going to come up with $30 million bucks?
Wait a minute.. after the new roundabouts, there’s still $30 million in provincial money waiting to be spent on the Cornwall bypass.  What about just putting the bypass on the back burner and using the province’s share of the cost to pay the tax bill? 

Just asking…

------------------------------
From the folks at the Maroon Pig Art Gallery and Sweet Shop, in Georgetown, on the public school closures:
Facebook page

published March 14th, 2017, on social media:

10 Reasons Why We Reject the Public Schools Branch and their Decisions:

1. The government was elected on the promise to: Not Close Small Schools and re-instate an elected Public School Board. They lied and continued down the school closure path started by the previous Liberal government.

2. The absence of elected Trustees and an elected Public School Board discredits the entire process. The District Advisory Councils (DAC) have no power to influence policy. These DAC’s are lead by hand-picked Liberal supporters.

3. They purposefully created the problems of both under-utilization and over-crowding by not redefining and enforcing school zones as recommended by the previous Public School Board.

4. The Three Public School Branch trustees (for 19,000 students) in charge of this process have serious conflict of interest issues and their loyalties have instilled a lack of public trust in the process.

5. The studies (by Liberal supporters) they will base their decisions on are full of inaccuracies and open to political bias. The authors of the report are well aware of the errors, but no one has attempted to address these concerns or fix the data.

6. This process is a sham and not really intended to look at recent data and concerns. They are following a plan that was laid out in a 2008 Study entitled: Schools For Tomorrow-Building and Sustaining High Quality Education Programs. This is a Public Relations Exercise to make the general public feel engaged.

7. Secret information was withheld from public discussion under Clause 8.4 of the School Change Act. This included submissions from teaching professionals.

8. The process was hurried and clumsy. We asked for extended periods of time to address the issues raised. This extra time was denied us. They still have not given public notice of when or where their decision will be announced.

9. The Prince Edward Island Teachers Federation (PEITF) effectively muzzled teachers until the consultation process complete. Their professional input would have been informed and advantageous to the process.

10. Some of the proposed rezoning is removing even more students from small, rural schools. Setting these small, rural schools up for the next round of closures.

--------------------------------
Velcrow Ripper is an award-winning film-maker, included the highly recommended Occupy Love, a fantastic documentary about the 99% movement.  His personal website.
       
Imagine a world where each and every one of us was committed to discovering who we are truly here to be, committed to unwrapping our gifts, to living from our deepest Being. Imagine a world where we support each other in that quest. Imagine a world where we are seen for our potential to Become – Buddha to be, Gandhi to be, Einstein to be. Imagine a world where we greet each other with compassion and an open heart – Dalai Lama to be, Amma to be, White Buffalo Calf Woman to be. Imagine a world where we thirst for justice and respect – Mandela to be, Joan of Arc to be, Aung San Suu Kyi to be. Imagine a world where we dare to be ecstatically different – Rumi to be, Mary Magdalene to be, Wonder Woman to be.
        Imagine a world where we stand up for the planet as part of who we are – ancient forest to be, rushing river to be, soaring eagle to be. Imagine a world where each person reached just a little bit further, towards compassion, sustainability, harmony and creativity. Imagine a world that stretched even further, to the place where ecstasy lives. Imagine a world of celebration for life in all its joy and all its pain. A world where nothing stands in the way but fear itself. Where fear is just a passing fancy, replaced by unyielding hope, undying trust, indestructible vulnerability. A world where everyone and everything that happens to you is part of an extraordinary opportunity to learn and grow and evolve. Imagine a world that reflected back all the love in your heart, beaming right back at you, blinding you with its brilliance. Imagine a world where the extraordinary life you are here to live is here. Imagine if you could start living that life, right now. Your fierce love shining bright.
        Another world is possible, this very moment, when we choose to live it. It begins with your very next breath.
        — Velcrow Ripper

March 14, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Many comments on the political CRA poll results released yesterday, especially regarding the numbers validating Islanders' dissatisfaction with Premier MacLauchlan, presumably based on his response to the electoral reform plebiscite and this disastrous school review process.  Islander and poet Leon Berrouard quoted Brutus in Shakespeare's  Julius Caesar, very appropriate since we are near the Ides of March:

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries."

- Brutus, Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene 3

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It is actually Pi Day (3.14), so perhaps enjoy some pie from an Island bakery.
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Since the forecast is so unpleasant for tonight, events may get rescheduled, so consider checking the organization's website or page on Facebook.

Today:
Tuesday, March 14th: Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment
10:00 AM, Meeting # 3, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act from Karen Rose, Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Tonight:
Electoral Boundaries Commission Meeting -- Crapaud Curling Rink, 6:30-8:30PM. 
If rescheduled, it will noted here and here.
------

Already postponed from tonight to two weeks from now:

The March Island Studies Lecture is Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in the SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge on the UPEI campus, featuring Dr. Peter Buker speaking about scale and governance, including its effects on small islands such as Prince Edward Island.  

The relation between a political jurisdiction’s scale and how well (or poorly) its government performs is seldom addressed in scholarly literature or in practice. However, scale does affect governance. This lecture addresses the question: How do size factors of population and geography relate to accountability and responsibility, to efficiency and effectiveness? Citing political theory, public administration, economics, and social “small-scale” literature, and taking into account technological advances, Dr. Buker will focus on how scale applies to governance. The implications, especially for small island jurisdictions such as Prince Edward Island, are many. For example, the case for and against Maritime Union can be explored by looking at the tension between small governing systems supporting reciprocal relations between their citizens and their government and large governing systems supporting one-way command relations. 

Dr. Peter Buker is Chair of General Studies at Yorkville University. He has a widely varied academic background in economics, politics, and community economic development, and considers scale to be one of the most important single factors affecting our experience as citizens.  Admission to the lecture is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

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Tara McFatridge blogs on the Biofriendly.com website  which has a treasure-trove of ideas and insights.  She writes the March 14th Global Chorus essay.

       
We have seen time and time again that the human race as a whole is extremely resourceful. My grandparents lived during a time when recycling, conservation and growing your own food were just normal parts of life. Even when I was young, gasoline was being rationed due to the oil crisis. Back then you didn’t just hop in your car anytime you wanted to drive down to the local supermarket. Walking, biking and using public transportation were just what people did back in the day. They also hung up clothes to dry, had leftovers for dinner and made good use of everything they purchased. Nothing went to waste unnecessarily. You see the same sort of thing in many Third World countries. They know their resources are limited and they work together to survive within those limits. They do not waste what they have been given. Many people in First World countries have gotten so used to having certain amenities and resources at their disposal that they probably couldn’t even think about living without them, or wouldn’t want to think about it at least. If they pay for it, they have a right to use it or waste it as they see fit, right? That’s part of the problem. It isn’t a matter of not being able to do the things you need or want to do, it’s a matter of figuring out a more sustainable way to do them. We have to think sustainably, e.g., renewable resources versus finite resources, conservation versus waste etc.
        Now I know some may argue that the Earth goes through this cyclic stage and so there is nothing we can do about its natural progression. While that may be true, there are steps we can take to contribute to the Earth’s longevity rather than its demise. How, and how quickly, we utilize Earth’s finite resources will determine the quality of life we will have both now and in years to come. There are a number of renewable resources that need to become mainstream energy sources. Future inventions and ideas should be about getting things done without either using up the remaining resources we have or tainting them with harmful chemicals and toxins. It’s our world. If we work together as a whole, then we can make the changes we want to see for the future: our own, our children’s and their children’s.
        — Tara McFatridge

March 13, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Legislative Standing Committees are quite busy this week (perhaps there won't be as many meetings next week during public school March Break) as we head toward the Spring Sitting of the Legislature which begins April 5th. All are welcome to attend, and all take place in the Committee Room, which is the main level of J. Angus MacLean Building, corner of Great George and Richmond Street. (Some committee memberships have changed with the recent Cabinet and Caucus appointments.)

This week's Committee meetings, adapted from:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/meetings/index.php

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act from Karen Rose, Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Topic: The committee will receive briefings on high-speed internet services from representatives of Wicked EH?, Xplornet Communications Inc., Air Tech Communications, PEI Monitoring, and Eastlink.

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing from Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, and John MacQuarrie, Deputy Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, on the policies regarding vacant infrastructure in the province. An overview of efficiencyPEI will also be provided.

Topic: The committee will receive a briefing from the PEI Certified Organic Producers Co-operative on organic certification and use of the term “organic”. Other witnesses to be confirmed.

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By David Weale, on social media Saturday, March 11th, 2017:

THE VIEW FROM THIS BRANCH - Facebook blog by David Weale

Who Will Benefit?

It seems like a harmless little ‘good-news’ headline in this morning’s Guardian: OTTAWA ANTES UP 324 MILLION for the Atlantic fishery.
How could that possibly be bad for the fishers, and fishing communities of Atlantic Canada? Easy. It can be harmful if the bulk of it flows directly or indirectly into the hands of the mega-processing corporations that already dominate the industry.

And the fact that that the Federal Minister, Dominic LeBlanc felt the need to say that the ‘little guys’ will not be forgotten was a red flag to this reader.

For those of you who haven’t yet noticed, the Trudeau Government is very cozy with the big international corporations and their globalist aspirations, and Justin has become something of a poster boy for the rich and powerful. They are very comfortable with him.

I wonder if, at any point in the discussions leading up to this announcement, the well-being of fishing communities was factored into the decision-making. Was ‘local’ even considered. I doubt it.

Further our Minister of Fisheries, Alan MacIsaac has certainly not distinguished himself as a champion of small communities and local enterprise; rather he rides along, without a peep of protest, on the coat-tails of the Premier’s centralizing agenda.

We cannot be too vigilant when it comes to these kinds of decisions. If we are not we will be cut and bleeding without even seeing the knife.

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Sheila Watt-Cloutier is a human rights advocate, a cultural advocate, and an environmentalist.  Her book, The Right to Be Cold, is one of the five books selected for the CBC Canada Reads this year, to be debated March 27-30th.  She also writes today's Global Chorus essay.
 
       
I am confident the world can come together as one if we could come to know just how connected we all are. The world needs to realize that our environment, our economies and our communities are not siloed or separate, but are all connected by our shared atmosphere and oceans – not to mention through our human spirit.
        I truly feel it is important to change the dialogue about effectively addressing climate change and the environmental degradation of our planet solely in terms of the loss of economies to one of opportunities for a better world. Moving citizens into action requires us to move this issue from the head to the heart – where all change happens – and reassure civil society that change will not be economically punitive. The melting ice is trying to show us is that the service the frozen Arctic provided to the rest of the planet is now on the brink of destruction. In other words, the loss of these “ecosystem services” – whether from the white ice reflecting the sun’s rays back into space, or our frozen land locking away methane gas, or our glaciers keeping water on the land, which as a whole serves as the “cooling system,” the world’s air conditioner if you will – already adds up to hundreds of billions of dollars. Therefore this connection works both ways: we can think not only about our economies in human or environmental terms but our environment in economic terms.
        If people come to understand the Arctic as an important bridge rather than an inhospitable wasteland that has little to do with anyone else, it will help us to become more open to listening to the wisdom of what the melting ice is telling us. 
        Politics and economics tend to keep these issues in a “fearful” place where civil society feels it has no power over how the issues are being dealt with. However, I feel real power lies in individuals, families and communities as they become more aware that this issue is just as much about humanity as it is about industry. It is time to allow ourselves to see that our planet and its people are one, and to move beyond the rhetoric of politics and economics to one of the human dimension. Once we start to really “see” one another and better understand our interconnectedness, we will be able to feel more compassion. This compassion will translate into clarity, focus and action as to how else we could be addressing these common challenges of environmental degradation of our planet.
        — Sheila Watt-Cloutier

March 12, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some Sunday time-change odds and ends:

If you were unable (as I was) to attend the "Food Sovereignty and Climate Change" symposium yesterday, it was recorded and is available to view in two parts, on the Facebook event page.

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A theatrical event today and the end of the next week is the PEI Pay-What-You Can Theatre Festival, a cumbersome name but gets the point across. Its purpose is to: "to create high quality professional theatre experiences that are accessible to all Islanders."

Citizens' Alliance board member (and Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water chair) Catherine O'Brien performs in Grace and Glorie.  The schedule for all three productions is here:
http://www.pptf.ca/
and here is a link to a Guardian article:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/living/2017/3/10/p-e-i--pay-what-you-can-theatre-festival-now-underway.html

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We are told that a draft of the Water Act will be out in the next couple of weeks.

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Electoral Boundaries Commission meetings this week, 6:30-8:30PM:
Tuesday, March 14th, Crapaud Curling Club
Wednesday, March 15th, Stratford Town Hall
Thursday, March 16th, Milton Community Hall
--------------------------

Regarding the summer 2016 fishkills:

From a recent Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/2017/3/9/resolution-to-2016-fish-kill-incidents-remains-with-courts.html

Resolution to 2016 fish kill incidents remains with courts - The Guardian article by Eric McCarthy

Published on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

ALBERTON, P.E.I. - Investigations into two reported fish kills in Prince Edward Island in 2016 are still ongoing.

According to the P.E.I. Department of Environment preliminary reports, dead fish were found in the Clyde River on July 25.  By the time the cleanup was completed, 259 brook trout, 18 rainbow trout and 65 sticklebacks were gathered up.

Almost a month later, on Aug. 22, a fish kill was reported in the Little Miminegash River in Roseville. That cleanup yielded 743 brook trout, 181 sticklebacks, three gaspereau, two white perch, two American eels and two cormorants.

Both fish kills followed periods of heavy rainfall.

A spokesperson with Environment and Climate Change Canada, which is leading the investigation, said it would be inappropriate to provide further comment while the matter remains under investigation.

The provincial investigation into the fish kills, however, has led to charges against two farm entities.

Alex Docherty and Skye View Farms were each charged on Dec. 15 with four counts under the Pesticides Control Act. Dale and Ronnie Rennie of Alma were charged Jan. 13 with two charges under the act.
The Alex Docherty and Skye View Farms charges stem from the investigation into the Clyde River fish kill, while the charges against the Rennies from Alma came from the examination of fields in the Brockton area during the investigation into the Little Miminegash River fish kill.

Wade MacKinnon, manager of investigation and enforcement with the Department of Justice, said the charges resulted from anomalies discovered during the fish kill investigations and related to pesticide records and applications.

Docherty and Skye View Farms and Dale and Ronnie Rennie Inc. are due back in court this month on the provincial charges.

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    Dan Pallotta is the author of Uncharitable and Charity Case,  founder of Advertising for Humanity and the Charity Defense Council.  Here is a 19 minutes TED Talk on thinking able charity.  He writes the March 12th Global Chorus essay:

        Humanity can absolutely win, and the “non-profit,” sector, or “humanitarian sector” as I like to call it, will be a major player in that contest, but only if we liberate it from the puritan constraints of deprivation that have held it back for so long.

        We have to stop preaching to the sector to act more like business and start giving it the big-league permissions we really give to business. We have to stop being so prudish in our refusal to allow the sector to lure great talent with great pay packages. We have to stop being squeamish about introducing financial incentive into changing the world. We have to allow the sector to fail upward, so it can innovate. We have to allow it to market on the scale we allow Budweiser.

        If we do these things, the sector can achieve progress on a scale we never previously imagined.

        That will give hope to humanity in and of itself.
            — Dan Pallotta

March 11, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today: 
Farmers' markets open in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and   Charlottetown (9AM-2PM).

Symposium: Food Sovereignty and Climate Change, 1-4PM,
Milton Hall, Rte. 7 at Rte. 224, Milton. Quick pre-registration  (Eventbrite registration)  or pop-in, with guest speaker, Dr Nettie Wiebe, and music by Teresa Doyle.Facebook event details
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Today is likely the last day to officially comment on the School Review.  And comments are worthy to submit!
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/service/give-your-input-school-review-recommendations

---------------------------------------------
From publisher Paul MacNeill, this week:
http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_07a250a2-034a-11e7-b3cc-ef974a5745a1.html

Regionalization and school closure are not the same - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

It’s an interesting question: If you support the concept of regional government in rural PEI does it not follow to also support consolidation of schools?

It’s an interesting question with a simple answer: No.

The two initiatives are very different. The regionalization file is driven by six eastern communities (Georgetown backed out pending resolution of the school closure issue). The fact that regionalization is a grassroots effort is the most striking difference. School closure is a top down ‘solution’ championed by Charlottetown bureaucrats who fail to see the benefit in small. The provincial government supports regionalization but at no time have the communities involved discussed stripping any of the seven of services or identity. Are there better ways to do things? Sure. When you have six or seven communities all offering basically the same suite of services there is obvious duplication. There is nothing wrong with found efficiencies. If regionalization is successfully implemented in eastern PEI it will become a model for others to follow.

But closing a local school is not a found efficiency. It is ripping a primary asset from a community. It is not a secret that rural communities must attract new residents. How do we do that? There is great opportunity in promoting our advantages. The medium house price in Stratford is tens of thousands of dollars more than Montague, as one example. This is a significant advantage. What could your family do with $75,000 or more? Especially when services in Montague are equal to, or better than, those in Stratford.

The Town of Georgetown is unequivocal in its belief that keeping a school is vital to its growth strategy.

Of our rural communities Georgetown is the poster child for embracing change. It has done much to create the necessary environment for future growth. If the community says part of that strategy is maintaining a school, the provincial government should heed the advice. Period.

There are those who claim that schools are institutions of education not economic development. This is true, at least for its primary responsibility. But the closure process has nothing to do with excellence in education. It’s not about saving money. Closing five schools will save only an estimated $500,000 from a $250 million budget. On top of this, the process is built on an untrustworthy Public Schools Branch report supporting its call for closures and rezoning, which includes a failure to quantify the impact of closure on the impacted communities.

Government cannot dictate where people live. But government does have a responsibility to provide basic services to allow all communities a relative opportunity to succeed. Schools and health care matter. The Liberal government is investing millions in revitalizing the former Georgetown sawmill. When complete attracting workers with young families will be more difficult if there is no school.

One of the major issues driving the closure is a bias on the part of Charlottetown’s education bureaucracy, which is dismissive of ideas that do not align with its centralized, standardized view of education. A couple of weeks ago 75 Georgetown residents – the equivalent of thousands in Charlottetown – showed up on a stormy Tuesday night to talk about the possibility of implementing a school hub model. It is an idea used successfully in Nova Scotia that sees a portion of the school transformed for other uses, business or public services that compliment an education environment.

PEI’s Department of Education has already said no, proving yet again its visionless, self-centred focus is more interested in protecting a failed bureaucracy than creating a system where all students in Prince Edward Island experience true excellence in education.

Charlottetown is our capital and as such benefits from massive taxpayer investment in health care, post secondary education and the operation of government, both federal and provincial.

Maintaining rural schools, even under new models such as Hub School, is an insignificant investment when compared to the massive spending in our urban centres. And if it forces government to finally bring about long over due needed change to a broken and dishonest education bureaucracy even better.

Paul MacNeill is publisher of The Graphic newspapers.

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Sir Tim Smit is co-founder and chief executive for development of the Eden Project, "From clay pit to world-famous visitor attraction and educational charity" in Cornwall, UK, and writes today's Global Chorus essay.

       
The writers of the 1950s saw in their imaginations the technological world that we now consider normal. Then it was called science fiction. However, hardly a single one foresaw the social changes that were on the horizon: progress in human rights, gay rights, gender equality, single households and the dawn of an aging population that would remain healthy into very mature years. For me, the future is brighter than it has ever been because we now know many of the problems that confront us – communications makes it impossible to hide them – and 99 per cent of people in the world would like to be able to do the “right thing.”
        If we fry ourselves or create a world of such dysfunction that aspiration dies to be replaced by fetid survivalism, we deserve it. After all it us, we humans, that called ourselves Homo sapiens: the wise hominid. What hubris if we are wrong, but what a triumph if we can live up to it. I delight at living in an age that represents a new enlightenment, where the challenges we face are worthy of being met and the cost of failure is so great it will concentrate the mind. People still do beastly and stupid things, they always will; however what we have now, for the first time ever, is the mechanism that allows the good to get organized. This is, to me, the real spiritual power of the Internet, and why I feel hope burning in me like an unquenchable fire.
        — Tim Smit

March 10, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A clarification from yesterday:
Taya Nabuurs, from Stratford, speaking in the House of Commons in the Daughters of the Vote event, was quoted in the CBC article in her speech about "Partyless proportional representation," which I thought was very forward thinking, and a bit unusual (but I quoted it anyway).  When I heard the news clip on the radio after I sent the Citizens' Alliance News yesterday, I realized she said "Party list proportional representation," which made more sense in the context.  I (and surely others) wrote the CBC to correct the word in the article, which they did.

Tomorrow:
Food Sovereignty and Climate Change, 1-4PM, Milton Hall, Rte. 7 at Rte. 224, Milton, sponsored by Cooper Institute, free but pre-registration requested (Eventbrite registration)
or call (902) 894-4573

The theme of Cooper Institute’s third annual social justice symposium in honour of Father Andrew Macdonald is “food sovereignty and climate change; nurturing human and ecological communities in stormy times”, and will feature a presentation by guest speaker, Dr Nettie Wiebe, and music by Teresa Doyle.Facebook event details

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The Hughes-Jones Centre and the Cornwall Bypass:
It's taken a while, but I think I have figured out how the Ghiz/MacLauchlan government does business in land acquisition.  It's about getting a good deal off of trusting folks, like those who sold their homes or family woodlots in the Plan B highway path for not-so-great prices, while some are more richly rewarded for their land or their bit or shale.
But then a shrewd business woman like Ellen Hughes and her father came along, and said from the beginning they would prefer the Cornwall bypass highway smush their home and business buildings (equine centre), so they could pick up and start over somewhere with the funds to do so, then having it clip right next to them. But the timeline originally promised by the province has not been adhered to, and the assessments from the province differ quite from the independent ones the owners have received. 
The owner has been quite open and professional on social media, and when Transportation Minister Paula Biggar popped up in Ms. Hughes Facebook comments to refute something that Ms. Jones had written, Ms. Hughes spelled out the whole thing in this blog posting:
https://medium.com/@HJCPEI/dear-minister-biggar-8c3ba2969297#.tj6okqkjb
--------------------------------
Terry Tamminen is former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and author of Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction and  Cracking the Carbon Code: The Key to Sustainable Profits in the New Economy


There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 
Omitted, all the voyage of their life 
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat …

— Julius Caesar, 4.3.218–222

        We are on such a sea at this moment. We are on the brink and quite frankly the planet doesn’t care whether we destroy ourselves … it will keep spinning. The question is, do we have the collective will to materialize a better world when we continue to drive a living room on wheels and power our homes with flaming chunks of coal?
        To materialize this better world I believe we must see all things as connected, unlike science, which takes things apart and studies them in isolation. That’s how we are taught in school: to see animals, ecosystems, water, air, food, oceans and even the Earth itself as oddities to be understood as separate things – at best a fractured mosaic – without the perspective of standing back far enough to see how it all works together.
        The Hopi people say that one finger cannot lift a pebble. The connected co-operation that we will need to thrive on Earth for generations to come will need many fingers acting in concert. This will be the successful path forward – finding some greater good to put before our individual need and doing something in service to that common value. If we are to move past our current crises we cannot, in the words of Shakespeare, allow ourselves to be in the shallows and in miseries because we didn’t have the courage and commitment to take advantage of this moment in time when we still have the opportunity to change the course of history.
        — Terry Tamminen

March 9, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight:
Movie: Crude, 7PM
, UPEI, Robertson Library Room 235.Sponsored by the UPEI Spanish Club, Tertulias.  "It is about what is happening...in Ecuadorian Amazon now. The film is in English, Spanish, Quéchua, and aboriginal languages from the Ecuadorian Amazon."

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Taya Nabuurs from Stratford represented Cardigan Riding in the House of Commons yesterday.  She spoke about electoral reform and the Liberals breaking their promise on it.  She and other women on P.E.I. and across the country are very engaged in democracy, and it's encouraging.

"Electoral reform is a clear and tangible way that we can make steps towards a Canada in which all voices are equally represented," she said.<snip> "Partyless proportional representation systems in particular incentivize parties to run lists of candidates and therefore are the most successful at getting women's names on the ballot," she said. "I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of reforming our electoral system to create the most fair, democratic, and engaging system possible. The fight for electoral reform is not over."

CBC story:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/taya-nabuurs-electoral-reform-speech-house-commons-1.4016031

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Another fantastic Island woman, Teresa Wright, wrote her column in Tuesday's paper.  Bold is mine:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/columnists/2017/3/7/teresa-wright--bullied-into-silence-by-liberal-mla--myers.html

TERESA WRIGHT: Bullied into silence by Liberal MLA: Myers - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Published on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

An Opposition MLA in P.E.I. says he is feeling bullied by a Liberal MLA on the province’s public accounts committee who has been trying to force him to table documents related to the province’s e-gaming scandal.

Steven Myers has received two letters from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, asking him to produce documents he referenced in the legislature back in December.  On Dec. 8, 2016, Myers questioned Finance Minister Allen Roach about some “wining and dining” events involving a bunch of e-gaming hot shots that appear to have been held in P.E.I. in 2011.  Myers referenced an email that details the proposed itinerary (including a hospitality suite, golfing, surf and turf and more drinking) during a weekend in May 2011.

Myers also referenced an invoice for over $8,000 from the Gahan House for a "catering function/restaurant tab," from the same period in 2011.  Myers wanted to know if taxpayers picked up the tab. Roach said he knew nothing of these events or of the bill in question.  Myers did not table the email or the invoice he referenced. Doing so would make them public and accessible to anyone.

Myers did give copies to me and other journalists in the media gallery that day.

But it appears Liberal backbencher Jordan Brown would also like to see them.  During a meeting of the public accounts committee on Jan. 11, Brown, who is the vice-chairman, said he “would like this committee to seek production of those documents from Mr. Myers.”    Since then, Brown has brought the issue up in several subsequent meetings, which prompted the committee to send the two letters to Myers asking for the documents.

Here’s the thing. While legislative standing committees do have the power to compel documents, it’s highly unusual for them to demand documents from a sitting member of the official Opposition. And I would go a step further – it’s rather unsettling to see the most powerful committee of the legislative assembly using its powers against an Opposition MLA.

Brown says he has been pushing the issue because he feels if Myers wants to use question period to allege illegal activity, he has a “moral obligation to back that allegation up with supporting evidence.”

“Frankly the fact that Mr. Myers has been so smug in not responding to my inquiries leads me to further question both the source of the information he had, assuming he indeed had any, and its content,” Brown said in an email last week.

But Myers says he feels this is an attempt to intimidate him as a member of the Opposition, asking what he believes were valid questions about a secret government initiative that has been dogged by controversy since it was first made public by the media in 2013.  “I feel like Jordan Brown is trying to use some power he doesn’t have to try to bully me into silence,” Myers says.

He also pointed out that at every meeting he asked for Myers’ documents, Brown voted with his Liberal colleagues to block e-gaming witnesses from appearing before the committee.  Myers says he has no problem releasing the documents and will do so on his own.

It should be noted the email he cited was contained in a private investigator's report, already tabled in the legislature in 2014. (CO note -- see below story)

It should also be noted Brown and Myers regularly spar at committee. So there’s no love lost there.

But, for the legislative committee tasked with oversight of government spending and policy to be using its powers to compel documents from an MLA whose job it is to question government is highly unusual, especially since Myers had no dealings at all on the e-gaming file.  

The public account’s committee’s attention should be on government, not Opposition.

-----Teresa Wright is The Guardian’s chief political reporter.
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screenshot of page 15 from the private investigator's report, tabled on November 20th, 2014, in the PEI Legislature by MLA Stephen Myers.  Maybe someone could send this to MLA Jordan Brown?

from: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/photos/original/leg_f14smrbmcmt.pdf
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And yesterday's Public Accounts committee had testimony from Auditor General Jane MacAdam, stating that members of the same law firm giving advice and sitting on the e-gaming secret committee were also giving advice on Atlantic Lottery's decisions.
from: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/2017/3/8/members-of-secret-e-gaming-committee-advised-p-e-i--to-invest-in.html

<snip> Opposition (and committee chair) James Aylward:  “I find it extremely troubling that we have a government that continues to go back to the same individuals who obviously gave them very poor advice to begin with around the e-gaming file and then with GeoSweep as well,” Aylward said.  He also takes issue with the lack of an order-in-council document for cabinet approval of the GeoSweep investment. This helped keep the investment under wraps and, indeed, details were only eventually divulged to the public through the media. <snip>

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At first I found it hard to shift gears from the e-gaming and lottery mess to today's Global Chorus essay, but the first paragraph about the "race to get faster, bigger and more" certainly applies to a particular P.E.I. mindset that's running us in the wrong directions now.
--
Keibo Oiwa is a "cultural anthropologist, environmental activist,  and founder of the Sloth Club and leader of the Slow Movement in Japan".  Here is bit about him from the "Slow is Beautiful" website.  He writes the March 9th Global Chorus essay:

 
       
The age of crisis is a great opportunity for the downward shift from “excess” to “just enough.” This shift, characterized by three “S” words – slow, small and simple – is necessary because of the enormous mess we’re currently in, created by our own civilization with its race to get faster, bigger and more.
        The motto of our new era is “less is more.” In our slow descent, we stop overdoing and find ourselves having more and more time to enjoy life. We’ll do less and be more. We will rediscover ourselves as human beings, not “human doings.” It is a homecoming to our own nature. And this is a good reason to be hopeful.
        Avoiding excess and knowing where to stop is required for every sustainable culture. That is another reason to be hopeful, as we are all essentially cultural beings. Do we need a miracle for our survival? Maybe, but the most profound truth could be found not in some remote place but just around yourself.
        An 18th-century Japanese philosopher, Miura Baien, said, “What is really amazing is not flowers on a dead tree, but flowers on a living tree.” Life is a miracle. And that is always the hope.
        Finally, like that story of a hummingbird that keeps carrying a drop of water in her beak to the burning forest, there is something that drives one to act as if there were hope even in a desperate situation. So, there is hope.
        — Keibo Oiwa 

March 8, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:
Public Accounts Standing Committee meeting, 10AM
, J.Angus MacLean Building. "The committee will continue its review of the Joint Audit of Atlantic Lottery Corporation, dated October 2016, by the auditors general of the Atlantic provinces. Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance."
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The last few days for the public to comment on the proposed School Review are here --  60 days since the report came out in January means March 10 or 11th is the last day.

You can go to the submissions form of the website "Give your input", here, or send an e-mail here (the link on the e-mail on the same page says "rgandrews@edu.pe.ca" for Bob Andrews, but the copy and paste produces: "Marmwgregory@gov.pe.ca", so both probably work)

If you are unsure as to what to write, consider sharing these points:
1) end this school review process
2) protect small schools and consider the hub model where enrollments are low
3) elect school trustees, perhaps on some sort of Family of School system for School Boards.  And make the regulations make elected boards work better this time
and 4) re-build trust within school communities by replacing those in positions of authority who have lost parents' respect  (you could name names, but I suspect they know).

(Also, some of us aren't quite sure about the idea of amalgamating Ch'town Rural Family and Colonel Gray Family. Some are concerned it makes the two city schools as one Family unbalanced in regard to population and everything else.)

---------------------
Last night was an introductory presentation on carbon pricing, presented by the Environmental Studies program at UPEI.  Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell was there and he made some remarks, and also in the crowd were the Climate Change Secretariat Todd Dupuis and someone from Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.  (Some notes on the information another day.)  There were some people who looked like they worked for the City of Charlottetown, but no other politicians (that I could tell) who have brought forward concerns.  Then I realized that some of the PC MLAs were at their town hall in Charlottetown, so I hope there will be more forums like this to discuss this.
--------------------
Here is an article from yesterday's CBC on-line about the Mi'kmaq and land:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-mi-kmaq-native-aboriginal-land-rights-1.4008521

'It's all Mi'kmaq land': Why First Nations claim P.E.I. as their own

published on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017, on-line at CBC Prince Edward Island
<
snip>
The province also gave the Confederacy an annual grant to assist with economic development initiatives for the five-year period, and seconded an economic development officer to work with the Confederacy.
It also promised "a property to be conveyed to MCPEI or an entity identified by the First Nations in the Bonshaw area for economic development purposes," an email from the province this week said.
That land, Francis revealed Friday, is the former Fairyland fun park, later called Encounter Creek, which the province bought to build the so-called Plan B highway through the Bonshaw area.
"We don't have a plan for it," said Francis, noting the deed for the 14-hectare property is not yet in the Confederacy's hands. "We are looking at options."
The above details flesh out what had been a very brief and little-reported description of the agreement contained in a government news release back in 2014, which referred only to a "strategically-located portion of crown land."
<snip>

---------------------
Today's Global Chorus is written by Hawa Abdi, who is a Somali physician and human rights activist.  "She is the founder and chairperson of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation (DHAF)’s mission is to create access to basic human rights in Somalia through building sustainable institutions in healthcare, education, agriculture, and social entrepreneurship."

       
It is only with hope that we were able to survive through the 23 years of civil war in Somalia.
        There were so many dark days, days when we had to bury 50 children in one day, or when I awoke at four a.m. to treat a mother who had nowhere else to turn to. Sometimes at these moments, I didn’t know whether I could go on. But I would go out and see the faces of mothers and children who are depending on my strength to carry on. These were women who were incredibly resilient, who had trekked miles with their children to escape violence. It is their strength that fills me still and inspires me with the courage needed to continue to help my community through the most difficult hours.
        Hope requires that a community come together with respect and love for one another. It is difficult to survive by oneself. At the Hawa Abdi Village we were able to overcome the divisions that threw our country in disarray. For those who sought refuge at my village, I told them of only two rules: first, there will be no talk of clan division; second, no man is allowed to beat his wife. The strength of a community, bonded through respect
for one another, can be powerful to overcome even the most persistent violations of humanity. From the heart of our hospital, we were able to deliver and bring up a generation of children with values of equality.
        If we want to find a way past current global crises, we need to teach love, respect and equality amongst all. I believe that the world is one. If one corner of the world feels pain, the pain will travel to other parts of the world as well. The same goes for happiness. Throughout the civil war, the patients I treated all felt the same hunger and thirst. We need to be attentive to our brothers and sisters from different corners of the globe.
        I believe that education is key towards this achievement. With education, each global citizen can understand and critically analyze what is going on around us. At the Hawa Abdi Village, we continue to keep the doors open to education, healthcare, clean water and food security. Today we are already seeing a brighter future in Somalia, and we will continue to keep hope alive in all corners of the globe.
        — Hawa Abdi Diblawe

------------------
Happy International Women's Day!

March 7, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today: 
Tuesday, March 7th:
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness meeting, 1:30PM, J. Angus MacLean Building, corner of Richmond and Great George, all welcome.  "...a briefing on long-care facilities... from the Hon. Robert Henderson, Minister of Health and Wellness, and Dr. Kim Critchley, Deputy Minister." Website details here.

Tonight
:
Electoral Boundaries: Ecole Evangeline, Abrams Village, 6:30-8:30PM
Other meetings schedules are listed here:
https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/schedule
and general information:
https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/

Climate Change/Climate Tax:
Environmental Symposium: Putting a Price on Carbon: A PEI Perspective, 7-9:30PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall, Room 242.  Hosted by the UPEI Environmental Studies Department. The symposium will discuss various measures of carbon pricing and what it means from a regional and PEI perspective. Facebook event details.

Natural World: 
Nature PEI Monthly Meeting, 7:30PM
,  Beaconsfield Carriage House, corner of West and Kent Streets,  "...explore the little known world of the Tardigrade, fondly known as water bears, with marine biologist Emma Perry of Unity College, Maine."  Free.
https://naturepei.ca/2017/03/05/march-meeting-water-bears/
---------------------

Going on today:

While learning more about where food comes from is great at any age, some island elementary students are getting stories read to them about farm life by volunteers during Agricultural Awareness or Literacy Month.  Some highschoolers are getting a webinar today; perhaps what they are getting aware of is that really big corporations are pouring money into marketing and communications ventures like some Agriculture Awareness Month projects.

The program, “Agriculture in the Classroom”, is sponsored by Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, Dupont and Bayer, the four largest seed and pesticide corporations in the world and our Minister of Education says it's okay that they and a company promoting the GM Arctic Apple should have direct access to our students and our classrooms. -- Leo Broderick, Council of Canadians

Original story:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/2017/3/6/groups-warn-of-corporations-promoting-genetically-modified-produ.html

Groups warn of corporations promoting genetically modified products in schools - The Guardian article

Published on March 6th, 2017
(no by-line)

Advocacy groups in P.E.I. say an Agriculture in the Classroom program available to Island students has an ulterior motive.

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Kids Right to Know, the Council of Canadians and Earth Action P.E.I. say there are corporate public relations behind the activities, in particular a webinar on March 7, to promote a recently approved genetically modified (GM) apple.  “This webinar is blatant corporate product promotion for the GM apple. It’s certainly not a neutral presentation of genetic modification to students,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

Calls to the Department of Education Monday for comment were not returned by press time.  The webinar is being promoted as part of Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month.  The program, “Agriculture in the Classroom”, is sponsored by Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, Dupont and Bayer. 

“This corporate intrusion into our schools is unacceptable,” said former high school teacher and administrator and vice-chairman of the Council of Canadians, Leo Broderick.  “We can’t let corporations teach our students and we are calling on all provincial ministers of education to put a halt to this webinar and protect students from this corporate propaganda.”

The webinar comes with a pre-webinar lesson plan for teachers which incorrectly states that the Arctic apple is “available to eat!” In fact, the company does not plan to release the GM apple in the Canadian market this year, but it is test-marketing bags of sliced GM apples in 10 stores in the U.S. “The company is just trying to create a market for its GM apples. We deserve better information about this technology,” said high school student Rachel Parent, who is also the founder of Kids Right to Know that advocates for mandatory labelling of GM foods.  “If the company wants students to be informed then it should plan to clearly label its apple as genetically modified and keep out of our classrooms.”

------------------
GPI Atlantic http://www.gpiatlantic.org/
"Founded in 1997, GPIAtlantic is an independent, non-profit research and education organization committed to the development of the Genuine Progress Index (GPI) – a new measure of sustainability, wellbeing and quality of life."  Today's Global Chorus essay is by its executive director, Ronald Coleman.

       
When we contemplate our world, seized by rampant materialism and reeling under multiple ecological, social and economic crises, it is tempting to despair. And yet the very bankruptcy of our present system is yielding a new openness and a profound and heartfelt yearning like never before for a genuinely new and sane way forward.
        This yearning is no longer “pie-in-the-sky” wishful thinking. We have never had greater global capacity, understanding, material abundance and opportunities to create the change we need. Our scientific knowledge, communications, technology and productive potential are unsurpassed in human history.
        In fact, the more life-threatening climate change, resource depletion and species extinction become, the greater the yawning inequities, the deeper the global economic crisis, the emptier the illusory promises of consumerism and the more ineffectual and corrupt existing political and economic structures are, the clearer and more obvious are the shape and premises of the new system that must emerge. It must clearly be based on: 

  • Fundamental human sanity: no need for “sustainable development” jargon; every human being simply wants the world to be safe and secure for their children.
  • Humility: Recognizing the truth that we humans are part of Nature, and must therefore respect other species, live within the bounds of what Nature can provide, and tread lightly on the Earth.
  • Joy: Celebrating community, our diverse cultures and our fundamental humanity.
  • Contentment: Instead of an economy based on endless grasping, consuming, dissatisfaction and poverty mentality, simplify our lives to build an economy based on appreciation, contentment, equity and fair distribution.
  • Good governance: The above are not abstract concepts. They can be translated into wise policy: from investing in sustainable infrastructure (like public transit, renewable energy and organic agriculture), to sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to elimination of poverty and tax havens, to ecological tax reform and high luxury taxes, to instituting systems of fair trade, co-operative ownership, and payments for ecosystem services, to full-cost accounting and holistic measurement mechanisms, and more. 
        We know what to do. But the window of opportunity to save humanity and other species has never been smaller – we literally have not a second to waste. And the opportunity itself has never been greater. Yes, we can do it! Now is the moment! There will be no other!
        — Ronald Colman

March 6, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There are two electoral boundary commission meetings this week, both 6:30-8:30PM:
Tuesday, March 7th:
Ecole Evangeline, Abrams Village


Wednesday, March 8th:
Southern Kings Consolidated School, Peter's Road (Rte. 324)
------
Other meetings schedules are listed here:
https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/schedule
and general information:
https://www.electoralboundaries.pe.ca/

-------------
One person wrote about the evening in Charlottetown last week (quoted with permission):

"I just got back from the electoral boundaries meeting tonight and asked if any consideration was being given to an election run under a proportional representations system. The answer - no  - it is not in their mandate so if we do have a PR election,  everything will be thrown out and we will have to start over. 

"Also the final recommendations will not come back to the public first but given to the Speaker for enactment (they say it is binding this time... the assembly shall accept the recommendations of the commission)."
----------------------------------

About this 150th birthday party:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/2017/2/22/letter--a-year-of-partying-while-kids-live-in-poverty.html

LETTER: A year of partying while kids live in poverty - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

$500,000,000 to hold a year of partying to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. Where are the intelligent people we voted for to rule our country and to make sure there was justice for all people?

How can we possibly think we should spend that kind of money on partying and celebrating when reports tell us that 1 out of 5 children in Canada are living in poverty?

Truly, can we be proud of a country that puts celebrating before feeding the poor? Where is the justice in that?

Everyday our food banks are dealing with more and more people who haven’t enough money to buy the food they need.

We have approximately 250 people waiting for some form of affordable housing, seniors in acute care hospitals waiting for beds to be available to them in affordable nursing care homes and a mental health program (although improving somewhat) not coming close to the needs of our population.

These people can't wait for help much longer; they need it now. Let's get our priorities straight, fix these problems that are afflicting so many people in our country and then we can all celebrate together our wonderful country.

Helen MacLeod,

(for Child Poverty Committee,

P.E.I. Presbyterial UCW)

------------------------------------
Karl-Henrik Robèrt is the founder of The Natural Step, and professor at Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, Sweden.  He wrote the March 6th Global Chorus essay:

        It is a fantastic experience to understand worthy goals together – across disciplinary, professional and ideological boundaries – and to realize that we need each other in order to attain those goals. Conversely, it is sobering that so few of our leaders in business and policy know how to build full sustainability into their decision-making, and to shape their action programs, stakeholder alliances, economies and summit meetings accordingly. This results in attempts to deal with one issue at a time, often creating a new sustainability problem while “solving” another. And it leads into very costly dead ends and sub-optimizations. We are now experiencing increasing costs, lost opportunities and bankruptcies in business organizations and even in cities and countries – bankruptcies that are attributed to inherently unsustainable decisions made in the past. What is needed today are decision-makers who are open to learning the crucial competence of strategic planning and the language that goes with it – a language which makes multi-sectoral collaboration possible at the scale required for success.
        Luckily, it has been shown, in a twenty-yearlong action research program with over 200 mayors and top business CEOs, that it is possible to apply a robust framework, built around a robustly principled definition of global sustainability following these actions:

  • Aligning their respective organizations within the context of a sustainable global civilization (very concrete, nothing fuzzy here) and simultaneously stabilizing their respective economies by being more relevant for more sustainability-driven markets, reducing costs and gaining in brand values.
  • Bringing in actors in their value chains and other stakeholders into joint efforts. Very often mayors and CEOs need to sub-optimize their action plans because other actors in the system do. This is a hurdle that the framework currently helps businesses and cities to overcome.
  • Making better and more systematic use of existing tools and concepts for sustainable development.  Turning to policy-makers and legislators to propose stricter economic frameworks and other support tools to help make the transitions even faster.
The Natural Step’s mission is to disseminate the above framework to any forward-thinking governments, businesses or organizations to help bring themselves within the context of global
sustainability, draw the strategic conclusions, and get going.
        — Karl-Henrik Robèrt

March 5, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Upcoming events:
Today:  The PEI Symphony Orchestra
performs at 2:30PM at Zion Presbyterian Church.  Details here.

Tuesday, March 7th:
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness meeting, 1:30PM,
J. Angus MacLean Building, corner of Richmond and Great George, all welcome.  "The committee will receive a briefing on long-care facilities in the province from the Hon. Robert Henderson, Minister of Health and Wellness, and Dr. Kim Critchley, Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness." Website details here.

Environmental Symposium: Putting a Price on Carbon: A PEI Perspective, 7-9:30PM
, UPEI, McDougall Hall, Room 242.  Hosted by the UPEI Environmental Studies Department. Facebook event details.

The symposium will discuss various measures of carbon pricing and what it means from a regional and PEI perspective. Speakers will provide information related to their own fields of expertise. Speakers include: Erin Flanagan, Director Federal Policy, Pembina Institute and Dr. Rémi Morin Chassé, Environmental Economist, UPEI.  The presentations will be followed by a Panel Discussion.  The event is open to the community at large.

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

Wednesday, March 8th:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts meeting, 10AM
, J. Angus MacLean Building, all welcome.  The topic will be the Atlantic Lottery Corporation Joint Lottery audit with Auditor General Jane MacAdam appearing.  More details here.
-------------
 
The members of Public Accounts committee include Chair Jame Aylward, Opposition MLA (District 6: Stratford-Kinlock),  Opposition MLA Darlene Compton (D4: Belfast-Murray River), Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker (D17: Kellys Cross-Cumberland), and Government members Jordan Brown (D13:Charlottetown-Brighton), Bush Dumville (D15: West Royalty-Springvale), Chris Palmer (D21: Summerside-Wilmot), and Hal Perry (D27: Tignish-Palmer Road).

Over the past couple of months, this Legislative Standing Committee on Public Accounts has been trying to straighten out the history of the e-gaming scheme and interpret the Auditor General's report on it.  The committee chair and opposition members have tried various ways of getting information, and have been stymied by the Government majority on the committee. At the last meeting this week, Finance Minister Allan Roach (D3: Montague-Kilmuir) shrugged and said he had never been briefed.  This caused the commentary group VisionPEI to joke about how he sounded like "Sgt. Schultz", the guard who looked the other way in the TV show Hogan's Heroes. (A YouTube of a typical Sgt. Schultz denial)

More from VisionPEI, from Friday, March 3rd, 2017, on their Facebook page:
E-GAMING AND PREMIER MACLAUCHLAN
Of course the post (<<the previous day>> and the reference to Sgt. Shultz was intended to capture attention and expose the ridiculous testimony of Minister Roach at the recent Public Accounts meeting. Sadly, there are much more serious issues at stake here.
1. Millions of our taxpayer dollars were lost.

2. Elected officials, government officials and prominent business people secretly colluded to mislead citizens and reap personal gain.
3. Their behavior was at least unethical and at worst criminal.
4. No one has been held accountable. There has been no consequences.
5. The current MacLauchlan government has consistently refused to expose the totality of wrongdoing and those responsible.
6. Every attempt by opposition parties and the media to investigate has been blocked by Premier Wade MacLauchlan.
7. There is an obvious pattern of cover-ups,deceit and secrecy by this government.
We suggest that there is a congruence of events and behaviors by the Ghiz and MacLauchlan administrations that has reached a crisis point on PEI. The mis-steps, deceit, wasteful spending, lack of vision and other distasteful actions represent, in our view, the most corrupt and inept period of governance in PEI history.
This government must be exposed. The opposition and media must use all tools at their disposal to shine light. National media should be encouraged to investigate and publish these events.
We may be witnessing the demise of the Liberal Party and the beginning of a new era.
VISION PEI

--------------------------
Andrew Blackwell lives in New York City, and is a writer, investigative journalist and filmmaker.  His most famous book is called Visit Sunny Chernobyl.  http://www.blackwellautomatic.com/about.htm
He writes the March 5th Global Chorus essay:


       
It’s too late to turn back the clock. Our environmental cataclysm is underway and there’s no point in pretending we can undo all its effects. Think of humanity as an asteroid hitting the Earth: like an asteroid, we’re transforming the landscape, changing the climate and causing mass extinction. And once an asteroid hits, there’s no way to make it un-hit.
        Weirdly, I don’t think this is a pessimistic view. In fact, I believe passionately that the sooner we admit it, the better we’ll be able to fight for a healthy environment in the future. All too often, the idea of “saving the environment” means saving some idea of perfect, unspoiled Nature. But that’s little more than a daydream at this point. And I don’t think we should spend this moment of crisis daydreaming.
        Instead, we have to embrace the fact that we find ourselves in a very imperfect, transformed world. This doesn’t mean throwing up our hands or paving over the rainforest – far from it. What it does mean is changing our picture of what “counts” as Nature, and it means fighting for all kinds of environments that don’t seem worthy of our love. From an already logged forest in Brazil, to a smog-choked city in China, to an industrial waterway on the other side of town, it means being less sentimental about our visions of wilderness … and more sentimental about environments we usually write off as polluted and ugly. In an era when human effects reach to every corner of the globe, caring about the environment may mean setting aside Nature-worship as we know it, while we strive to make already transformed environments healthier and more sustainable.
        — Andrew Blackwell


March 4, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

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

The Fix-it-Fair is at Murphy Centre from 10AM-4PM

Seedy Saturday and Sunday, thanks to Seed Savers PEI:

Today:  Montague Seedy Saturday: Montague Rotary Library:  March 4th

The Montague Seedy Saturday will begin at 2pm with a screening of a documentary about seed. The film will end at 3:30, and the Seed Swap will begin! 

Tomorrow: Summerside Seedy Sunday: Summerside Rotary Library: March 5th: 

 This event will include a film screening at 1:15, to be followed by a Seed Swap 3-4:30
The film is the Canadian documentary: 
The Sower

In Quebec’s Kamouraska Valley, Patrice Fortier is putting down roots at his seed company, La Société des plantes. Like a copyist in the Middle Ages, he is meticulously preserving rare and forgotten cultivars with the goal of breeding the “heirlooms of the future.” As Patrice gardens, he daydreams and transforms his harvests into art projects. The seasons come and go, his patience and care express his passion and knowledge, and his seed bank grows. His tiny storehouses of life will eventually sprout in thousands of vegetable gardens around the world. At the centre of this paean to plant biodiversity and agricultural heritage is a unique, genetically motivated seed producer. Watch: the impossible is underway.

Next Saturday,  March 11th:
Symposium: Food Sovereignty and Climate Change, 1-4PM,
Milton Community Hall, free but preregistration is appreciated (902) 894-4573.

The theme of Cooper Institute’s third annual social justice symposium in honour of Father Andrew Macdonald is “food sovereignty and climate change; nurturing human and ecological communities in stormy times”, and will feature a presentation by guest speaker, Dr Nettie Wiebe, and music by Teresa Doyle.
While it’s generally understood that climate change has an impact on food production, the opposite is also true. Our current global food system is a significant contributor to climate change. What do we need to do, in a changing climate, to reconfigure our food system to make it more sustainable, and to ensure that everybody has access to enough food?
Nettie Wiebe farms near Delisle, Saskatchewan. She served in leadership positions of the National Farmers Union for ten years and was the first woman to lead a national farm organization in Canada. She recently retired from teaching ethics the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Wiebe is an active participant in public discourse on sustainable agriculture and rural communities, trade agreements, women’s equality, human rights, peace, economic and environmental issues and food sovereignty. Her recent publications include co-editing two volumes on food sovereignty and several articles about changing farmland ownership in Canada.
This event is free, and open to the public. Please register ahead of time by following the link: [https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/food-sovereignty-climate-change-tickets-32126055898] Or call Cooper Institute at 902-894-4573, or email ann@cooperinstitute.ca.Facebook event details

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

A perspective on food, applicable to Canada, too. Worth saving to read when you have a few minutes.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/opinion/an-english-sheep-farmers-view-of-rural-america.html?_r=0

An English Sheep Farmer’s View of Rural America - New York Times Opinion piece by James Rebanks

Published on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

MATTERDALE, England — I am a traditional small farmer in the North of England. I farm sheep in a mountainous landscape, the Lake District fells. It is a farming system that dates back as many as 4,500 years. A remarkable survival. My flock grazes a mountain alongside 10 other flocks, through an ancient communal grazing system that has somehow survived the last two centuries of change. Wordsworth called it a “perfect republic of shepherds.”

It’s not your efficient modern agribusiness. My farm struggles to make enough money for my family to live on, even with 900 sheep. The price of my lambs is governed by the supply of imported lamb from the other side of the world. So I have one foot in something ancient and the other foot in the 21st-century global economy.

Less than 3 percent of people in modern industrial economies are farmers. But around the world, I am not alone: The United Nations estimates that more than two billion people are farmers, most of them small farmers; that’s about one in three people on the planet.

My farm’s lack of profitability perhaps shouldn’t be of any great concern to anyone else. I’m a grown-up, and I chose to live this way. I chose it because my ancestors all did this, and because I love it, however doomed it might seem to others.

My farm is where I live, and there is actually no other way to farm my land, which is why it hasn’t changed much for a millennium or more. In truth, I could accept the changes around me philosophically, including the disappearance of farms like mine, if the results made for a better world and society. But the world I am seeing evolve in front of my eyes isn’t better, it is worse. Much worse.

In the week before the United States elected Donald J. Trump to the presidency, I traveled through Kentucky, through endless miles of farmland and small towns. It was my first visit to the United States, for a book tour. I was shocked by the signs of decline I saw in rural America.

I saw shabby wood-frame houses rotting by the roadside, and picket fences blown over by the wind. I passed boarded-up shops in the hearts of small towns, and tumbledown barns and abandoned farmland. The church notice boards were full of offers of help to people with drug or alcohol addictions. And yes, suddenly I was passing cars with Trump stickers on their bumpers, and passing houses with Trump flags on their lawns.

The economic distress and the Trump support are not unconnected, of course. Significant areas of rural America are broken, in terminal economic decline, as food production heads off to someplace else where it can be done supposedly more efficiently. In many areas, nothing has replaced the old industries. This is a cycle of degeneration that puts millions of people on the wrong side of economic history.

Economists say that when the world changes people will adapt, move and change to fit the new world. But of course, real human beings often don’t do that. They cling to the places they love, and their identity remains tied to the outdated or inefficient things they used to do, like being steel workers or farmers. Often, their skills are not transferable anyway, and they have no interest in the new opportunities. So, these people get left behind.

I ask myself what I would do if I didn’t farm sheep, or if I couldn’t any longer farm sheep. I have no idea.

Perhaps it is none of my business how Americans conduct their affairs and how they think about economics. I should doubtless go back to the mountains of my home here in Cumbria, and hold my tongue. But for my entire life, my own country has apathetically accepted an American model of farming and food retailing, mostly through a belief that it was the way of progress and the natural course of economic development. As a result, America’s future is the default for us all.

It is a future in which farming and food have changed and are changing radically — in my view, for the worse. Thus I look at the future with a skeptical eye. We have all become such suckers for a bargain that we take the low prices of our foodstuffs for granted and are somehow unable to connect these bargain-basement prices to our children’s inability to find meaningful work at a decently paid job.

Our demand for cheap food is killing the American dream for millions of people. Among its side effects, it is creating terrible health problems like obesity and antibiotic-resistant infections, and it is destroying the habitats upon which wildlife depends. It also concentrates vast wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands.

After my trip to rural America, I returned to my sheep and my strangely old-fashioned life. I am surrounded by beauty, and a community, and an old way of doing things that has worked for a long time rather well. I have come home convinced that it is time to think carefully, both within America and without, about food and farming and what kind of systems we want.

The future we have been sold doesn’t work. Applying the principles of the factory floor to the natural world just doesn’t work. Farming is more than a business. Food is more than a commodity. Land is more than a mineral resource.

Despite the growing scale of the problem, no major mainstream politician has taken farming or food seriously for decades. With the presidential campaign over and a president in the White House whom rural Kentuckians helped elect, the new political establishment might want to think about this carefully.

Suddenly, rural America matters. It matters for the whole world.

James Rebanks (@herdyshepherd1) is the author of the memoir The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches From an Ancient Landscape.

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

Helena Norberg-Hodge is the founder and director of Local Futures, which was know as the International Society for Ecology and Culture, and the producer of the documentary film The Economics of Happiness.  She writes the March 4th Global Chorus essay.

        I believe that what stands between us and a more peaceful and sustainable world are the ideas that underpin our economic system. That system – based on endlessly expanding economic growth and global trade – is concentrating wealth in big businesses and banks while impoverishing the majority; it is poisoning the air, soil and water; it is turning our children into insecure, brand-obsessed consumers; and it is leading to increased conflict both within and between nations.

        We need a radically different economic architecture, one that goes beyond communism, socialism and corporate-led globalization. We need economic localization. Localization means increased employment, reduced waste and pollution, stronger, healthier communities and more accountable institutions. The good news is that a shift towards the local is already underway, led by thousands of farmers markets, local business alliances and community banks.

        But while the localization movement has been growing exponentially from the grassroots, there is also an urgent need for changes in policy: we need to shift the subsidies, taxes and regulations that currently support global business so that we instead strengthen smaller local and national enterprises.

        Localization is not an impossible dream. If the many millions of people working to create a better world – from protecting rainforests to feeding the homeless – also address the economic root causes of these problems, then the movement for economic change will grow rapidly, and a better future will be within reach.
        — Helena Norberg-Hodge

March 3, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events tomorrow:

Saturday, March 4th:
Fix-it-Fair, 10AM-4PM
, Murphy's Community Centre
"This free event will include a Repair Café, workshops, demonstrations, information booths and more."
Facebook Event Details

Seedy Saturday in Montague
Montague Rotary Library, 2PM

GoingON,Ca event details

And in Summerside, too.
(Details to follow)
---------------------------

Former government civil servant points out major concerns with the School Review process in his column in The Graphic newspapers:
http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_a7188af6-feaa-11e6-938e-fb0b3d72d9f3.html

School Review is procedurally unfair - The Eastern Graphic article by Allan Rankin

Published on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017, in The Graphic publications

Islanders had every reason to expect the former Dean of the University of New Brunswick law school, once becoming premier of Prince Edward Island, would ensure the decisions and actions of his government were straightforward and fair.

Another politician might claim ignorance, or defer to the circle of advisors and lawyers, and consultants, that surround the premier’s office. But not H Wade MacLauchlan, lawyer, academic, and recipient of a national award for excellence in public service. 

That is why the current school review process is so disappointing. 

Its built-in assumptions about learning are questionable, its prejudice against rural communities palpable, and the administrative process itself a jumble of malpractice. Like his predecessor did a few short years ago, MacLauchlan has rushed pig headedly down the same road towards school closures, seemingly ready to make executive decisions based upon incomplete information and a seriously deficient report.

The authority to close a school rests with the board of the Public Schools Branch, chaired by department Deputy Minister Susan Willis. However, permanent closure must have the prior approval of Lieutenant Governor in Council, and is subject to specific regulation and policy.

In 2008, the old Eastern School District board considered the closure of several smaller schools throughout the province, and then Superintendent Sandy MacDonald produced a report which initially did not address community impact. The board realized the report’s shortcomings and sought an outside legal opinion. A prominent Charlottetown lawyer warned that without fully considering community impacts, as stipulated by regulation and policy, the board would likely be on shaky legal ground, and could face a challenge in court.

The board superintendent reluctantly supplemented his report. However, his idea of assessing the social and economic impact of closing Georgetown Elementary, was to predict fewer chocolate bars could be sold at a local store. It was an amateurish, thoroughly lacking report in the end, and one of the saddest pieces of public policy research I’ve ever seen.

But as Islanders know, that board was split, three small schools were saved from the axe, and the Liberal government, furious that an elected school board had refused to do its bidding, decided to take absolute control over public education in the province.

The minister of the day, Doug Currie, and his department officials, were determined never again to repeat such an unruly, democratic process.

This time around, permanent school closure is a more complicated process, tightly controlled by the department and its appointed board trustees. But the report and its recommendations are just as deficient as in 2008. Although Education Authority Regulations require the board of the Public Schools Branch to consider the possible effects of a school closure on the affected communities, the associated policy puts relatively little weight on these considerations, and the responsibility falls to the local community to put forward its case. 

Here is my question to Premier MacLauchlan.

Why should the people in a small rural community be forced to put their family life on hold, give up countless days and nights attending meetings and spend their own money to justify the existence of their school, and defend its importance to their community?

Shouldn’t the onus or burden be on government to show why a school needs to be permanently closed?

If a community affected by school closure is small, has little in the way of financial resources, and no influential politicians to lobby on its behalf, then saving its school becomes an almost impossible mountain to climb. Local families find themselves powerless in the face of a government ready to tilt the process in its favour, and defend its plans using limitless legal and other resources.

In such a world, rural Prince Edward Island’s future doesn’t really stand a chance. 

Are people aware the moderator of the School Review public meetings throughout the province, Patsy MacLean, is a Charlottetown lawyer with HR Atlantic, and Minister Currie’s favourite consultant.

She organized an education summit for Currie several years ago, and served as the sole appointed trustee after the elected Eastern School District board was abolished. 

So much for transparency and impartiality.

If it could hire Ms MacLean, the Public Schools Branch certainly had the authority and resources to engage an outside, independent consultant to properly look at the impact upon families and local community of closing a school. But instead it assigned this task to bureaucrats within the department already biased against small schools and rural communities.

Consequently, Islanders have been presented with a seriously flawed and incomplete report, and because it has been the basis for public consultation and discussion, the review process is procedurally unfair. 

It is not too late for Premier MacLauchlan to wake up and smell the roses. Prince Edward Island society cannot afford any further centralization. Small schools should not be abandoned, but rather embraced as the future of primary education in the province.

The current School Review is bad politics and public administration. It lacks credibility and heart.

It should be stopped in its tracks.

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Grim environmental news from the United States:
http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/epa-halts-inquiry-into-oil-gas-industry-emissions-of-methane/article_6213a54e-68f2-5174-859c-5dd4070b7f35.html

EPA halts inquiry into oil, gas industry emissions of methane - The Santa Fe New Mexican on-line article

Published Tuesday, March 2nd, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced it was withdrawing a request that operators of existing oil and gas wells provide the agency with extensive information about their equipment and its emissions of methane, undermining a last-ditch Obama administration climate change initiative. <<snip>>

<<snip>> Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, said the agency took those complaints seriously. “Today’s action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry,” he said in a statement.

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Stephen Lewis, former politician and former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, gave the 2014 Symons Lecture here in P.E.I.

Here, by the way, is a recap on his visit and Symons Lecture speech in Charlottetown from November 2014, aiming at then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but good anytime:
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/11/23/stephen_lewis_roars_once_more_in_takedown_of_stephen_harper_government_tim_harper.html

"LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND." -- Stephen Lewis, November 2014, on fossil fuels.

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He wrote the March 3rd essay Global Chorus essay, excerpted from another presentation he made:

        In 1988 I was fortunate enough to chair the first major international conference on climate change. We had between three and four hundred scientists and politicians gathered together over several days. The debate was of enormous intensity, and at the end of it a declaration was drafted, the opening words of which read as follows: “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.”

        That’s why I’m going to speak to you from the heart and as honestly as I can.

        In my view, the only answer to this crisis is the most dramatic reduction in the dependency on fossil fuel and the discharge of carbon; everything else is incidental. We’re in a tremendous race against time. This isn’t some abstraction. In order to avert the crisis that is looming, we have to create global citizens. We have to create citizens with acute environmental sensibilities, with a profound and honest
understanding of the issues at stake. The truth of the matter is that we have unleashed forces which are not being curtailed, and everybody recognizes that what is required is political will to reverse the process.

        It is absolutely unbearable that young people are going to have to live with the consequences we have created. I’ve often thought, in my own life, that I should have spent a lot more time working on environmental issues. I feel a kind of insensate guilt and shame that 20 years ago I was part of a conference that forecast what was coming, and I chose to do other things and find other priorities in life.

        I have three grandsons, ages 9, 7 and 2, and I can’t stand the thought of what they’re going to inherit. I’m not sure it’s possible to turn around an apocalypse, but if it is, it will come through environmental education, and it will come through collective, skilful, principled and uncompromising leadership.
        — Stephen Lewis

March 2, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight is the Charlottetown and area public consultation on electoral boundaries:
Boundaries Commission Public Meeting, Charlottetown area, 6:30-8:30PM, Holland College lecture theatre,
Facebook event details
Sample maps and other resources here at the PEI Electoral Boundaries Commission website.

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Back to schools:
Paul MacNeill's column in his Graphic newspapers this week:
 http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_3db789ec-fdf4-11e6-ad58-07cb8b90f3cc.html

Will Minister Murphy defend all small schools? - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017, in The Graphic publications

Pat Murphy’s career as the minister without a department of Rural Development was, to say the least, inauspicious.

The Alberton MLA delivered a video message to the Public School Branch’s meeting last week debating proposed closure of two West Prince schools.

Murphy held true to previous statements on the closure process pursued by the Liberal government, including that the 60 day period for public input is rushed and supported by faulty research. He contends that both Bloomfield and St. Louis Elementary should remain open.

As local MLA Murphy’s opposition to his own government is commendable. But following his surprising ascension to cabinet his role changed to one with a provincial focus.

A provincial focus was nowhere to be found in Murphy’s public comments. While he fully supports keeping schools in his backyard open, the minister of the department that does not exist did not utter a word, not a single word, of support for Belfast, Georgetown or St. Jean in Charlottetown.

And that has led to a further erosion of the public’s trust in the undemocratic, biased, ill prepared process created by the MacLauchlan government. Sometime after Murphy and fellow West Prince MLA Hal Perry broke ranks with government they met privately with Premier MacLauchlan. The meeting raises eyebrows because the premier refused a meeting with the Mayor of Georgetown and council saying he did not believe it would be conducive while the so called public consultation is ongoing.

What’s the difference between Murphy and Perry and the Mayor of Georgetown? They are all elected to represent Islanders. Their constituencies are all impacted by the closure issue. The only difference is political stripe. The premier has leverage over his MLAs. And we’re supposed to believe Murphy’s appointment to cabinet a week later to a department that exists in name only is a coincidence. Hardly.

Wade MacLauchlan’s actions are politicizing a process he contends is above politics. Meeting with, then rewarding a fellow Liberal MLA only raises suspicion that cabinet will save West Prince schools from the chopping block but may axe Georgetown.

In reality, government only has one move to begin to bring credibility back to an education system that is sorely lacking in the credibility department. The premier must place an immediate moratorium on all closures. We know the closure report prepared by the Department of Education is flawed throughout. It relies on bad data, inaccurate geography and as Allan Rankin pointed out last week, a failure to document the impact closure will have on affected communities, as dictated by government’s closure policy. There is no sense determining impact a year after a school is closed.

Some believe Murphy’s posting will tamp down public anger. Not true. Rural PEI is still angry with many valid grievances against centralized decision making conducted in a Charlottetown bubble.

Mother Nature delivered breathing space with a series of storms that impacted the timing of public meetings.

Whether the MacLauchlan government is smart enough to take advantage remains to be seen. The Public Schools Branch attempted to jam back to back meetings across the Island. It knew it would be hammered but the din of opposition from one community would flow into the next. It’s a strategy aimed at appearing to be listening when you really are not.

Before any school is closed the MacLauchlan government must put excellence in education first. This process has nothing to do with excellence or improving the education offered our children. It has everything to do with a failed bureaucracy attempting to impose its misguided agenda.

And if Pat Murphy is any kind of minister responsible for rural development he will say so loudly so all rural communities hear him.

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

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Frances Moore Lappé, is the famous author of the classic Diet for a Small Planet and more recently, EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want.  She writes the March 2nd Global Chorus essay.

 
       I believe hope is a natural state of being for our species. It arises in us from our deepest centre – as an expression of life loving life, of life wanting to bring forth more life. If we feel disheartened, discouraged or hopeless, it is unnatural.
        What’s needed for human beings to be in our natural state of hope is not proof of some future positive outcome; it is only that we see possibility for positive change and see our place in that change.
        And that depends on developing new eyes, new ways of seeing. Our culture tells us that the premise of existence is lack: lack of goods – energy, food, water, you name it – and lack of goodness, for humans are innately selfish. From this premise of lack we distrust ourselves and see ourselves in eternal, fearful competition for survival. Not trusting ourselves, we believe we’re not capable of coming together in common problem-solving to end hunger or protect the environment or build peace. We turn our fate over to others and to a market that inexorably concentrates wealth – creating the very scarcity we so fear, no matter how much we produce!
        Hope arises in us and for our planet when we break free of this premise, when we learn to “think like an ecosystem,” characterized by connection and continuous change. We see that, as we align with the laws of nature and with all we now know about human nature, there is more than enough for all to thrive. We see that we can align our societies with Nature so that, as we model ourselves on the ecosystem’s genius, every economic process feeds another in a continuous cycle.
        With an “eco-mind,” we see life and our place in it as full of possibility. We realize that the only power we don’t have is whether to change the world.
        — Frances Moore Lappé

March 1, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

As it is Wednesday, it's Public Account Standing Committee at 10AM today, J. Angus MacLean building.  "The committee will continue its review of the Auditor General’s report entitled Special Assignment: Government Involvement with the E-gaming Initiative and Financial Services Platform. The Honourable Allen Roach, Minister of Finance, will be in attendance."
More details from the Legislative Assembly website
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from yesterday:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/columnists/2017/2/28/teresa-wright--expelling-mlas-and-flooded-departments--.html

TERESA WRIGHT: Expelling MLAs and flooded departments - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Published on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

It looks like the speaker of the P.E.I. legislature may get some new powers to kick unruly MLAs out of the legislature when the house resumes in April.

A meeting of the legislative rules committee was held recently where rulesBoswall Diane <hdboswall@ihis.org> for “suspension of members,” a.k.a. expelling MLAs from the legislature were among the items discussed.

The issue was sent to the committee by Speaker Buck Watts.

In a letter to committee chairwoman Kathleen Casey, Watts says it was brought to his attention at a recent conference that P.E.I.’s rules were not consistent with other provinces when it comes to the speaker’s powers to remove an MLA from the legislature.

Watts carefully avoided actually asking for a rule change, but instead sent some research on the rules of other provinces to the committee “for its information, use and consideration, should it so choose.”

Opposition MLAs zeroed in on the obvious question – why was this even on the agenda? What pressing need is there to clarify rules about kicking MLAs out of the house? After all, it’s not a common occurrence. It only happens if an MLA is being really disorderly or if someone is refusing to obey a direction from the speaker.

Which hardly ever happens.  The last time it happened was in 2011.

P.E.I.’s rule says if an MLA is behaving badly, the speaker must ask for another MLA to call for a motion to suspend. It then goes to a vote of the full assembly. Other provinces give the speaker the direct power to expel an MLA from the house.

Opposition MLA James Aylward wanted to invite Watts to explain why he was so interested in this topic that he sent it to the rules committee for consideration.

But the Liberal members were prickly about Aylward’s request.  They argued in favour of changing P.E.I.’s rule. The biggest proponent was Casey, who was speaker in 2011 when then-Opposition leader Olive Crane (purposely) got herself ejected from the house. She accused the premier of lying, then refused to apologize for unparliamentary language – an act of political theatre on the closing day of the sitting.

Casey says the incident put her in a difficult position: if she asked for a motion to suspend Crane and no one moved it, this would be tantamount to a vote of non-confidence and she would have had to step down as speaker.  Casey says she “lost sleep over that for days,” it was so upsetting.

Opposition MLAs argued against the change, but in the end, the committee went in camera and decided it would recommend the rule be changed to give the speaker the power to kick out unruly MLAs without a motion.

If the committee report is adopted in the legislature in the upcoming sitting (which they generally always are), the rule change will be made.

Meanwhile, the committee deferred a decision on another request, this one for a 45-day time limit for answers to written questions by MLAs.

Opposition MLA Sidney MacEwen asked for this, raising concern about lengthy delays to responses. Some written questions submitted by his caucus 18 months ago remain unanswered.

Liberal cabinet ministers on the committee argued their offices are being “flooded” with written questions by the Opposition.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac was particularly cranky about the 161 written questions his department received last fall while fielding zero questions in question period.

Perhaps McIsaac should consult with his former cabinet colleague, Ron MacKinley, when it comes to flooding departments with written questions.

Back in 2001, MacKinley – who was the only Liberal Opposition MLA in the legislature at the time – tabled 499 written questions to various departments on the opening day of the spring sitting.

Tory government ministers of the day also complained, but in the end made a great show on the closing day of that same sitting of bringing back the majority of the answers, carrying them in boxes.

Let’s hope the Opposition’s written questions are answered soon because, as former P.E.I. privacy commissioner Maria MacDonald often stated in her rulings: access delayed is access denied.

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http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/2017/2/22/letter--nfu-opposes-school-closures.html

LETTER: NFU opposes school closures - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is supporting the organization, Rural Strong, in their opposition to the closing of P.E.I. schools. Rural Strong makes it clear that losing schools means losing Island communities.

Rural communities are especially vulnerable, given governments’ long-time neglect of appropriate development for rural areas.

For the NFU, rural consolidation, with little concern for the well-being of communities, has been going on for decades. Since the 1970's it has been a fight to keep rural schools open. Each time the issue has raised its head the people have spoken out strongly, but in spite of that we have seen a needless number of invaluable schools lost. It has been shown that this current effort will save very little money, as if money is the only thing to consider when dealing with the lives of youth and the health of the community. There comes a time when government must listen to the people. Hopefully now is the time.

Our organization saw from the beginning that consolidation of land and the rise of corporate control of farming were closely tied to other policies of centralization. The reduction of farm families in P.E.I. has contributed to the decline of rural communities. Now is the time to stop the bleeding of rural P.E.I.

The current government has to admit that they cannot continue to ignore the voice of the community. Aware people will not forget before the 2019 election the false reasons for proposing school closures and other related actions or inactions.

Douglas Campbell,
Southwest Lot 16,
NFU District Director

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Alexander Verbeek is the strategic policy adviser for global issues, for The Netherlands' Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He writes today's Global Chorus essay.

        Do you remember the story of Hans Brinker? He was the Dutch boy who stuck his finger in a leaking dike and stayed there overnight in the freezing cold until adults came to help the next morning. His courage saved many Dutchmen from drowning. I often pass the statute of this fictional character on my bicycle, since it is close to my house in The Hague.
        In the decades to come, the world will need many Hans Brinkers. We need his commitment to save others from the forces of nature, and above all we need his innovative approach to adapt to the effects of global climate change. The concentration of greenhouse gases has increased, the atmosphere and oceans have warmed up and the amounts of snow and ice have diminished. Experts predict a rise in sea level in the range of 70 to 120 cm by 2100. This, combined with more extreme weather, will increasingly threaten coastal regions and cities all over the world. It would inundate agricultural land; destroy infrastructure; exacerbate urbanization, international migration and food scarcity; and threaten billions of dollars worth of global economic activity.

        Whilst the science and the international negotiations on climate change can seem abstract to many, the impacts on health, poverty and international security are increasingly tangible. We are challenged by the growing power of hurricanes, by increasing water scarcity and by worsening food shortages. This challenge demands action at all levels – including businesses, charities, engineers, scientists and local, national and multilateral government organizations – with increasing coordination. However, adaption alone is not enough. The cause of climate change, the rising emissions of greenhouse gases, urgently asks for stringent mitigation measures.
        And let’s not forget the individual actions one can take. That could be me on my bicycle, or it could be your personal involvement by installing solar panels on the roof of your house. My hope is for a worldwide generation of Hans Brinkers that work together to stand up to the challenges of climate change, first by being unafraid to point their fingers at causes of the problem, and second by being brave enough to tackle them.
        — Alexander Verbeek

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