CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

March 2019


  1. 1 March 31, 2019
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  2. 2 March 30, 2019
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  3. 3 March 29, 2019
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 3.2 On your mark, get set... - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
  4. 4 March 28, 2019
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 4.2 Man Who Developed Cancer After Roundup Use Awarded More Than $80 Million in Damages  - Ecowatch new service article by Olivia Rosane
  5. 5 March 27, 2019
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  6. 6 March 26, 2019
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 6.2 A Challenge to Our Four Political Parties - Vision PEI statement
  7. 7 March 25, 2019
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 7.2 Liberals swing for rural internet home run - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
    3. 7.3 Official Public Statement - Wicker Eh? article by Eduardo the Fox
  8. 8 March 24, 2019
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  9. 9 March 23, 2019
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 9.2 Federal Budget 2019 Combats Food Waste With New National Policy - The Huffington Post article by Zi-Ann Lum
    3. 9.3 ATLANTIC SKIES: Spring arrives, along with a ‘supermoon’ - The Guardian column by Glenn Roberts
  10. 10 March 20, 2019
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 10.2 Liberals table a pre-election budget designed to ease Canadians' anxieties
    3. 10.3 The figures don’t lie: Budget 2019 short-changes the fight against climate change
    4. 10.4 What is wrong with our voting system?
  11. 11 March 19, 2019
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 11.2 Will Speakers at the NFU Convention Dispel Confusion over Deep Water Wells? - Kevin Arsenault's blog
  12. 12 March 18, 2019
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 12.2 LETTER: Clarifying referendum advertising - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  13. 13 March 17, 2019
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  14. 14 March 16, 2019
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  15. 15 March 15, 2019
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  16. 16 March 14, 2019
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 16.2 ATLANTIC SKIES: Mars leads the way this month - The Guardian column by Glenn Roberts
  17. 17 March 13, 2019
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 17.2 OPINION: Electoral reform is not about revolution, it's about evolution - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jesse Hitchcock
  18. 18 March 12, 2019
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 18.2 Back to the Future - Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie
    3. 18.3 If King is serious, there’s much work to do - The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor
  19. 19 March 10, 2019
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 19.2 Two separate groups advocating for electoral change in P.E.I. - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby
  20. 20 March 9, 2019
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 20.2 LETTER: Eroding faith in the media - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  21. 21 March 8, 2019
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 21.2 P.E.I. NDP rolls out series of promises ahead of a widely expected spring election - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
    3. 21.3 Health hub pilot
  22. 22 March 7, 2019
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 22.2 Province takes charge of climate change with electric car - The Government of PEI Press Release
    3. 22.3 Overwhelmed by climate change? Here's what you can do - The Guardian (UK) article by Matthew Taylor and Adam Vaughan
  23. 23 March 6, 2019
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  24. 24 March 5, 2019
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 24.2 Want a Green New Deal? Here’s a better one. - The Washington Post Editorial Board article
  25. 25 March 4, 2019
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 25.2 This bleeding Island - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Weale
  26. 26 March 3, 2019
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  27. 27 March 2, 2019
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 27.2 OPINION: MMP fits our multi-party environment - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Hans Connor
  28. 28 March 1, 2019
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 28.2 Candidates for Progressive Conservative Party of PEI Meetings (adapted from the Party's press release yesterday):
    3. 28.3 Parties need to tell us how they would select list candidates.

March 31, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Friends of the Confederation Centre Public Library Used Book Sale, 1:30-3PM
, Library Lobby.

Bonshaw Monthly Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, proceeds to P.E.I. Chapter of Parkinson Canada.
Performers include The Fair Deal Exchange Group, The Willis Family Trio, Johanne Gass, step dancer Eithne Brydon, Karen Graves (of the Atlantic String Machine) with Nathan Simmonds and Keziah & Twilah Dawn Stoltz; plus local musicians ​Tony the Troubador, ​Herb MacDonald and/or Phil Pineau. Admission by donation.

Eco-Trivia Night, 7-9PM, Copper Bottom Brewery, Montague.
"Quick: Can you name three species of seals that make their home around PEI? And why are their eyes so darned big?...This will be a fundraiser for the Environmental Coalition of PEI, so we’ll be accepting donations (and since we’re a registered charity we can give you a tax receipt). There will be prizes, a 50/50 draw, lots of fun, and of course, there will be beer."
Employment opportunities at Elections PEI; Anyone interested can contact them.
Question Question on the Referendum
OK, silly comment:
The Keep-First-Past-the-Post group in the Referendum on Electoral Systems questions has had a fairly negative, "Vote 'No" If You Don't Know" theme, and its been satired and frankly mocked by those who sense fear-mongering and the implications that Islanders are not sharp enough to understand Mixed Member Proportional system.

There have been many satires on social media -- here is just one:
**SATIRE WARNING** this is a fake ad:

thanks to Rob MacDonald for sharing this

Betty Wilcox, at the CBC forum Thursday night, made a funny joke suggesting the pro-proportional representation side could adopt the equally facetious slogan "If You Have to Guess, Vote 'Yes'."

The Leap Monthly podcast:
Interested in hearing more about the Green New Deal in the States and how it relates to Canada? Avi Lewis and Maya Menezes discuss this in the hour long Leap podcast from last month.
There are three on this page, with the Green New Deal one being the middle one (I hope to focus on the "Be More Human" one on racism and xenophobia in the future.) About an hour long.
23 Days until the election:

District 23: Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke
This District has changed orientation since the last boundary drawings in 2005, with Brad Trivers' website map of overlays being a good place to see this.

from Brad Trivers' map on his website (link above)
The new Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke is in taupe/beige and goes further east than before.

A reminder of the new Districts in the Western area:

District 23: Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke encompasses the Grand River and al lot of the area along Malpeque Bay north of Summerside and to the west.

Certainly for first three (which have information on-line), an excellent suite of Candidates:
Trish Altass, Green Party -- current Shadow Critic for Workforce and Advance Learning LINK
Paula Bigger, Liberal -- current MLA and Minister of Transportation LINK
Robin Enman, NDP -- very involved community member -- LINK

Hilton MacLennan, Progressive Conservative -- general link to candidates page, no other details available LINK
"Forget injuries; never forget kindness." ---Confucius

March 30, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets today:
Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM
George's in Bedeque -- 10AM-2PM

Friends of the Confederation Centre Public Library Book Sale, today 9:30-5PM
, Sunday 12:30-3PM, main floor of library.

Many Candidate opportunities this weekend -- lots of opening of Campaign Headquarters, calls to help go door-to-door, etc.

Gordie MacNeily Campaign Headquarters opening, 11AM, 85 Belvedere Drive. Gordie is running as a Liberal in this election in D14:Charlottetown-West Royalty.

Green Party Blitz in D21:Summerside-Wilmot (Lynne Lund) and D23: Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke (Trish Altass), 11AM-3PM.
Facebook event link

Progressive Conservative D16: Cornwall-Meadowbank Nomination meeting, 6:15PM, APM Centre.
the potential candidates have not been announced yet

Meet and Greet, Jamie Fox (Progressive Conservative, D19:Borden-Kinkora), 8PM,
Borden Carleton Legion.

Green Party D14:Charlottetown-West Royalty candidate Gavin Hall fundraiser -- murder mystery, 7PM,
event link
Question Question

The Chief Electoral Officer, Tim Gerrity, remarked that he didn't realize how many Islanders go away in April (it is the mud season, after all, and the ground will be far from dry).
But there is a amazingly tight window to figure out how to vote if you are going to be away on Election Day. The office needs the candidates confirmed by a certain date to get the ballots printed and distributed. The referendum ballot will be with your regular MLA voting ballot, but I have heard that it will be a second ballot, or that it will be attached and with perforations to detach from the MLA voting ballot. (Still need to get that straightened out).

If you or your family members or friends are going to be away on Tuesday, April 23rd, which is right after the Easter holidays), see what options you have here, from the Elections PEI website:

The Writ of Election has been issued and Islanders are going to the polls in a provincial general election on April 23rd, 2019 to vote members into the Legislative Assembly, and also to vote on a Referendum regarding our voting system.
Advance Polls will be held on Sat April 13, 2019, Monday April 15, 2019 and Thursday April 18, 2019. Mail-in Ballot Applications will be available on this website Wednesday March 27, 2019.
The Returning Officers will have their offices open island-wide.

A food buyer's guide -- to be a "climate-conscious, land-regenerating, well-educated shopper" is available as a free e-book from the Savory Institute ("Regenerating the world's grasslandswith Holistic Management") and the Kiss the Ground organization.
Sign up for the download for the 42 page booklet, which is very quick reading of its nicely designed pages), here:

Some suggestions that you may not be able to follow for costs or availability, but many you probably already are doing.
District 24 -- Evangeline-Miscouche
(and 24 days until Election and Referendum Day!)
First, a bit of the Western Districts for recap:

D27: Tignish-Palmer Road
D26: Alberton-Bloomfield
D25: O'Leary-Inverness
D24: Evangeline-Miscouche
D23: Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke
District 24: Evangeline-- Miscouche Map

screenshot from:

This District is the Evangeline Region, obviously, and the southwestern part of the Island. The Grand River just starts in Wellington and heads northeasterly into District 23. The PDF link provides much better detail than the screenshot.

The MLA was Sonny Gallant, Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning and bunch of other small roles over the years.

By the way, the Legislative Assembly website gets all shelved and restocked when the writ is dropped, with the 27 MLAs (as of Tuesday afternoon) removed and neatly repackaged alphabetically with other biographies of MLAs from 1993-2017

The current Candidates are:
Nick Arsenault -- Green Party link

Sonny Gallant -- Liberal link

to be determined -- New Democrat link to other candidates

to be determined -- Progressive Conservative link to other candidates (finally up on their website)
"If you hear a voice within you saying: 'You are not a painter,' then by all means paint, boy, and that voice will be silenced, but only by working."
---Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

March 29, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Friday, March 29th:
Nova Scotia's decision on Northern Pulp's environmental assessment, noon
. Nova Scotia Environment Minister Margaret Miller will release her decision on the environmental assessment of Northern Pulp's proposed effluent pipe for the Northumberland Strait.
Local news and social media will have updates.

Invasive Species Workshop, 1-4PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue.
"Everyone from all walks of life, sectors and parts of the Island are encouraged to attend!
The meeting will include an educational expo and presentation series, featuring a variety of Island groups and individuals who work on invasive species projects. A wide range of topics are on the agenda, including an update on the management of Oriental Bittersweet.
The workshop will be a chance for islanders to learn more about invasive species as an important environmental issue, and discover ways to help."

Green Cafe at the Y Loft, 4-6PM, corner of Prince and Euston Streets. Join District 13: Charlottetown -Brighton Green Party candidate Ole Hammarlund for good coffee and conversation. Repeats every Friday.
Here is a link to the 1 hour 40 minute video recording from the CBC Forum on Electoral Systems last night. It was very informative, people had great questions, and Referendum Commissioner Gerard Mitchell (accidentally called Scottish actor Gerard Butler by host Louise Martin), John Barrett from the No side, and Brenda Oslawsky did a good job fielding various questions.

Video link:

Best Quote of the Evening in my mind was from Teresa Doyle, saying that:

(Paraphrasing: "Democracy has always been changing and evolving -- men, Catholic men, women, indigenous Islanders getting the right to vote) 2019, it is time for the majority to get the vote."
---Teresa Doyle, singer, mother, community leader
Question Question Question

The three key statements, again, as questions:

1 - Hasn't our democracy been solid and unchanging?
  Actually, it's always been evolving -- this was documented thoroughly in Wade MacLauchan's White Paper on Electoral Reform the first summer he was elected in 2015 (and where is that paper now?).
Vote Yes if you want to move democracy forward. Vote No if you want more of the same. See Teresa Doyle's comment, above

2 - Mixed Member Proportional Representation is too complicated, and if I can't understand it, I should vote Noooooo!
Referendum Commissioner Gerard Mitchell emphasized last night that you DO NOT need to be an expert in the details of an electoral system to acknowledge that it will work out correctly. But it does only take hearing it explained a couple a times to get the gist of how the proportionality is achieved, and that MMP is an improvement on First Past the Post.

3 - How can I learn more about MMP in the limited time left until the election?
If you want to get some friends or a group together (ten people or more is suggested), Anna Keenan or members of her team will be happy to come and chat about MMP and explain how it works. Take her up on it! WI groups, walking groups, neighbourhood folks....!
"If you have questions about how it works and want to learn, ask the Vote Yes PEI (
or the Proportional Representation Canada Discussion Group ( campaign teams - they are happy to provide you with information!"

An excellent synopsis:

On your mark, get set... - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, March 27th, 2019, in The Graphic publications

Islanders appear just days away from a provincial election guaranteed to be unlike any other in Island history. For the first time third parties have a realistic shot of upending the historical ping-pong match for control between Liberals and Tories.

Navigating the treacherous path to ballot box success is the task of Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan, PC Dennis King, Green Party Peter Bevan-Baker and NDP leader Joe Byrne. How they promote their strengths while minimizing weaknesses is the key to electoral fortune.

Here’s a primer on what each faces.

MacLauchlan carries the weight of trying to win the fourth Liberal majority in a row, a feat that would equal Alex Campbell in Island history books. Since coming to power MacLauchlan has avoided the scandals of the Ghiz years, but his failure to put a clear line of distinction with the former administration on issues like e-gaming and PNP has hurt his credibility. The premier’s record of centralizing decision making for both health care and education with phoney public oversight are examples of what frustrates ordinary Islanders.

The premier’s personal popularity runs far behind the party. His strength is administration. Population growth has easily exceeded our regional neighbours. The economy is humming along and there has been a string of positive announcements. But none seem to be helping, especially in rural areas, and it could get worse for Island Liberals with the considerable decline in support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The premier must convince skeptical Islanders that experience, management and policy matter. And he must do it while attempting to build rank and file enthusiasm and simultaneously taking a low profile in promoting the Liberal record.

Dennis King has taken the reigns of a party which over the past decade has put more effort into internal squabbling than becoming a government in waiting. King stumbled out of the gate, badly mishandling a tweet storm of his own making that insulted ordinary Islanders, rural Islanders and women. Overnight he squandered a mountain of potential goodwill. His biggest challenge is winning it back.

But how?

If there was a likability metre, King could be on top (minus the people he’s insulted). But thus far he has avoided the substance of running government, opting instead for a heart connection strategy. It’s not without risk. The tag line ‘It’s about people’ can be construed in different ways - like when it wasn’t about people.

Given King’s long history in the Tory backroom there are ample examples when blind support of party and rhetoric came first: His decision to muzzle all caucus members and candidates in the aftermath of his tweet crisis, being a cheerleader in the amalgamation debate for Tory disinformation while offering no solutions for the issues rural communities face, supporting the petty nastiness of Stephen Harper including changes to the EI system.

In every instance, King put party ahead of people. His strategy works if he can convince Islanders that nice is good enough to be seen as the agent of change. It fails if the electorate believe record and substance matters.

Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker enters the election with seemingly the strongest hand: Public enthusiasm, a strong lead in the polls and a perception that Islanders believe he will do politics differently. We’ve seen this scenario before in Atlantic Canada with Alexa McDonough as NDP leader in Nova Scotia. She routinely was the most popular leader in the province and polls often pointed toward an NDP breakthrough. But she could never get the party past three seats as voters consistently opted for the devil they know. Liberals and Tories hope history repeats on PEI.

Bevan-Baker is the Green Party. Its fortunes will rise and fall on Islanders voting for local candidates they may not know well as a proxy for supporting Bevan-Baker. That’s risky.

In 2015 the Greens flew under the radar. Not any more. Can Bevan-Baker transfer poll support into actual votes? How will he hold up to the pressure of a campaign when he is the focus of attacks from the two old line parties that will push a narrative the party is too risky for the economy and rural PEI? Will the Green platform be seen as moderate or extreme?

In 2015 it was criticized for suggesting Island farms can be profitable at five acres. For the Greens to enjoy true growth it must strike a middle-of-the-road balance that recognizes you can not simply change Island agriculture overnight. The party must respect that rural PEI is the primary cog of the provincial economy and any attempt at change must be balanced.

As the fourth party, the NDP is often ignored. But it is doing exactly what it must if it hopes for a breakthrough. There is a record, but still modest, election fund. A detailed platform has been released. Leader Joe Byrne is working hard in District 12, which is shaping up as a three or four way toss up. He has a shot of winning. If fair winds blow, the NDP hope even former leader Herb Dickieson can ride an anti-incumbent sentiment back to the provincial legislature. The party is focussing limited resources on ridings with a realistic shot of winning, unlike 2015 when sparse resources were spread across the whole Island.

The primary challenge is getting Islanders to give them a fair look when it seems so many are turning to the Greens as the party of change.

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at
Counting down to Election Day through the Districts:
District 25: O'Leary-Inverness

PDF map of District 25: O'Leary-Inverness

This most western slice of Prince Edward Island goes west to east, from West Point to Lennox Island. The Percival River is in this District, and the Bideford River.

There are Four Candidates assumed to be running:
Jason Charette -- Green Party
Robert Henderson -- Liberal and incumbent MLA
Herb Dickieson -- New Democratic Party
Barb Broome -- Progressive Conservative

Jason Charette -- Green Party link
Robbie Henderson is currently Minister of Agriculture link
Herb Dickieson is a former MLA, and NDP leader. link

Read what Paul MacNeill says about Herb and Robbie Henderson, above.
I messed up Sean Doyle's name (calling him Boyle), as the Green party representative in District 27: Tignish-Palmer Road. He sounds like a very hardworking, engaging person.
"A single day is enough to make us a little larger, or, another time, a little smaller."
--- Paul Klee (1879-1940)Swiss , artist

March 28, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


NDP Charlottetown Districts Nomination Meeting, 6:30PM Registration, 7PM Meeting, Murphy's Community Centre, Room 109.

Dave Phillips on "Climate and Weather: Not What Our Grandparents Knew",
, UPEI, Engineering Building (School of Sustainable Design Engineering) Room 128A, free.
Hosted by the Climate Research Lab

CBC Forum on Electoral Systems, **7:30-9PM**, Stonepark Intermediate School.
Panelists will include:
John Barrett, No What to Vote
Brenda Oslawsky, Vote Yes P.E.I.
Gerard Mitchell, P.E.I.'s Referendum Commissioner
It will also be shared live at and on CBC P.E.I.'s Facebook page.

Also, tonight on-line:
Webinar: Climate Change and Migration, 8PM
, hosted by The Leap.
"Join The Leap’s webinar with Maya Menezes in conversation with migrant justice activists and organizers across Turtle Island."
Question Question

What are your questions about the Referendum? We have 26 or so more days until Election Day, including the Electoral Systems Referendum, and I can compile questions and write up answers, checking with Gerard Mitchell the Referendum Commissioner, Elections PEI, Vote Yes PEI and the Nooo What to Know Side, too, and present one or so each day.

Perhaps you could copy and past the question and answer and send to your friends and contacts that may not be as up-to-date on the election news.

Today (two background ones):

What is happening on April 23rd?
Prince Edward Island's general election for Members of the Legislative Assembly is Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019. There are 27 Districts, each with one seat. There are representatives of four political parties and some independents planning to run. It is a First Past the Post voting system, meaning whichever candidate gets more votes that any other wins the seat (a plurality). The Party with the most seats usually forms government, with that Party's leader becoming Premier.
The Referendum on Electoral Systems is happening with the election. (more about the ballot tomorrow)

Who can vote on election day?
Anyone entitled to vote in the general election will be entitled to vote in the referendum.
That means anyone can vote who on election day is:
a Canadian citizen,
is at least 18 years old and,
has been ordinarily resident in the province for the previous 6 months.

adapted from:
District 26:Alberton-Bloomfield

Candidates include:

Pat Murphy -- Liberal, Incumbent

Michelle Arsenault -- NDP

Ernie Hudson - Progressive Conservative
Something completely different: from: Ecowatch new service

Man Who Developed Cancer After Roundup Use Awarded More Than $80 Million in Damages  - Ecowatch new service article by Olivia Rosane

Published on Thursday, March 28th, 2019

A jury in the first U.S. federal Roundup trial ruled Wednesday that Bayer must pay more than $80 million in damages to 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, who developed cancer after using the glyphosate-containing weedkiller to control poison oak, weeds and overgrowth on his Sonoma property for years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hardeman's trial had been split into two parts. In the first, decided last week, the jury ruled that Hardeman's use of the famous weedkiller, developed by Monsanto in the 1970s, contributed to his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. That decision meant the trial could move to the second phase of determining whether Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, was liable. The jury decided Wednesday to award Hardeman $200,000 for medical expenses, $5.6 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages, AFP reported.

"Today, the jury resoundingly held Monsanto accountable for its 40 years of corporate malfeasance and sent a message to Monsanto that it needs to change the way it does business," Hardeman's attorneys Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said in a statement.

The decision comes a little more than half a year after a jury in a California state case ruled that Roundup use caused a Bay Area groundskeeper's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and awarded him $289 million, though that was later reduced to $78 million and is being appealed. University of Richmond Law Professor Carl Tobias told CNN that Wednesday's decision shows the first trial "wasn't a one-off."

Bayer announced it would appeal Wednesday's verdict as well in a statement released Wednesday.

"We are disappointed with the jury's decision, but this verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic," the company said.

Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe; however, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015.

In the second part of the trial, Haderman's lawyers showed evidence that the company had allegedly sought to influence scientists and regulators about the safety of glyphosate, Reuters reported. In awarding damages, the jury found that Roundup's design was defective, that Monsanto had not warned users of the product's risk and that it had acted negligently.

Hardeman said he was "overwhelmed" by the ruling. "It hasn't sunk in yet," he told reporters, according to Reuters.

Hardeman's was the first of more than 760 cases pending before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria and was considered a bellwether trial to determine the potential range of damages and settlement options. Chhabria has scheduled another such trial for May and a third will also likely take place this year. All will be split in two parts like Haderman's trial. The decision to split the trial in two was seen by legal experts as beneficial to Bayer.

There are more than 11,200 Roundup trials pending in the U.S. Another California state trial is scheduled to start March 28, and at least two more should take place in Missouri state court in the fall.

"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius."
---Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

March 27, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Standing Committee Meetings scheduled for this week are presumably cancelled
, as there is no government, due to the election being called last night, for April 23rd.
Progressive Conservative nominating meetings/Meet and Greets in the next few nights:

Wednesday, March 27th:
District 21 (Summerside-Wilmot)
, 6:30PM, Credit Union Place.

Thursday, March 28th:
District 25 (O'Leary-Inverness)
, 6:30PM, St. Luke's Hall

Saturday, March 30th:
District 19 (Borden-Kinkora)
8PM, Royal Canadian Legion Borden-Carleton, meeting with Jamie Fox, MLA
An event not about P.E.I. Party Politics, in Halifax and very interesting:

Next week: Wednesday, April 3rd:
Health Benefits of Phasing Out Coaled Fired Electricity in Nova Scotia
, 6-8PM, All Nations Church, 2535 Robie Street, Halifax. Hosted by the Ecology Action Centre.
The Provincial Election, slated by legislation to be Fall 2019 or Spring 2020, has been called for Tuesday, April 23rd. A few of those days are the Easter holidays and people will be busy with other activities.

Now there are only 27 days until an election -- a nice number and we'll review the 27 Districts in the remaining CA News between now and April 23rd. It's all about timing, some current politicians have often said....
Thanks to the CBC web team, here is an article on the Districts and candidates declared so far:
And I'll use it as a jumping point these next days.

But let's go West to East:
District 27: Tignish-Palmer Road
This northwestern District has had some changes to its boundaries, and you can look at the changes at Brad Trivers' website, here:

Hal Perry, who used to be a Progressive Conservative but crossed the floor after Olive Crane was removed as leader, is the Liberal incumbent. He was Education Minister for a short period.

There are four declared candidates:

Sean Boyle -- Green

Hal Perry -- Liberal

Melissa Handrahan -- Progressive Conservative

Dale Ryan -- NDP*
*apologies for not getting this colour right -- will continue to find readable colours

Most Green Party Nominated Candidates can be found here.

All the Nominated Liberal Candidates can be found here

Some news releases on Nominated Progressive Conservatives Candidates can be found here.

New Democratic Party of PEI Nominated Candidates are found here
More thoughts:

Here is the link to the latest blog post by Kevin J. Arsenault's who placed third in the Progressive Conservative leadership race, who has been carefully analysing motives and upcoming events regarding this election.
And, oh, yes, the Referendum on Electoral Systems is also Tuesday, April 23rd, the second ballot you will get when you go to the polls. :-)

Don't forget to remind friends about that. Choosing for proportional representation, in addition to many things, may hold governments accountable to sticking to fixed election dates instead of being control freaks about the timing of elections maximizing their party's advantage.

Here are three very clear, very important keys to this Referendum on Electoral Systems, when talking to people about it:
with thanks to the clear-eyed Anna Keenan, edited slightly:

1 - Vote Yes if you want to move democracy forward. Vote No if you want more of the same.

2 - You don't need to be an expert in the details of electoral systems to know that MMP is an improvement on First Past the Post.

Scholars and experts who have studied electoral systems agree. You take advice from your mechanic about your car, and you take advice from your doctor about your health. We can listen to the electoral systems scholars who recommend proportional representation for the health of our democracies. (Chris's note: AND at least we can try it for a couple of elections and then decide to have a vote to keep it or not. Odds are, we wouldn't go back.)

3 - We have access to all the detailed information if you want it, and can answer any questions you've got.
If you have questions about how it works and want to learn, ask the Vote Yes PEI (
or the Proportional Representation Canada Discussion Group ( campaign teams - they are happy to provide you with information!
"Once we give up searching for approval by stifling our thoughts, or by imitating the 'masculine' norm of abstract, assertive communicating, we often fine it easier to simply say what needs to be said, and thus to earn respect and approval."
---Gloria Steinem (b. 1934) American feminist and journalist

(This also applies to the election!)

March 26, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Tonight: Proportional Representation volunteer and supporter event, 6:30-8PM
, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown. All welcome to see how you can help with referendum and chat about the challenges and potential for change.

Legislative Standing Committee meetings this week:
Wednesday, March 27th: Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development, 1:30PM
, Coles Building.
Topic: "...views in regard to Bill 100, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, by the PEI Federation of Labour; and a briefing on pay rates for early childhood educators by the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture. Following the briefings the committee will move in camera to consider its report to the Legislative Assembly.

Thursday, March 28th: Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM,Coles Buidling, "Briefing on Housing, operational and procedural matters, with Sonya Cobb, Director of Housing, and Clifford Lee, Senior Advisor of Social Infrastructure. Other witnesses to be confirmed. Time permitting, the committee will move in camera to discuss operational and procedural matters and the committee’s report to the Legislative Assembly.

Thursday, March 28th:
CBC Forum on the Referendum, 7PM
, Stone Park Intermediate School. All welcome -- there will be limited seating.

Friday, March 29th:
Deadline for submissions for the Order of Prince Edward Island, 5PM
. Anyone you know who has made such a contribution to P.E.I.? More details:
"The Order of Prince Edward Island is the highest honour the Province can bestow. It gives public recognition to individual Islanders whose efforts and accomplishments have been exemplary. There are many citizens who make remarkable contributions to the social, economic and cultural life of our province and its people and the Order of Prince Edward Island is a unique opportunity to honour them."
And the page from the Legislative Assembly website
I tried to pre-schedule the Citizens' Alliance News while I was away the past few days, but I apparently bungled Friday's and it didn't get sent. That is too bad since it was World Water Day and there were related activities (apologies to the P.E.I. Chapter of the Council of Canadians).

Here was a nice graphic to go with World Water Day:

This was also skipped, but here it is today:
The folks at Vision PEI have issued a call to each of the provincial political party leaders to elaborate on their vision for the future of P.E.I., and be specific, too.

A Challenge to Our Four Political Parties - Vision PEI statement

An election is imminent. It will be the most critical voting decision for Islanders in generations. After a century and a half of alternating between two old established parties we now have expanded choices and fresh possibilities. On what will we voters base our decisions? There are many factors to consider, but in our view two are paramount: an assessment of recent performance, and the platforms presented by the parties to inform and entice voters.

Traditionally election platforms are purposefully designed to be vague, short term and non-committal while tossing in a few eye-catching buzz words. Not good enough. Not anymore. Not by a long shot. Islanders are fed up with broken commitments, sudden shifts in priorities and policy directions, all explained with mumbled, vague excuses and justifications.

We are tired of governments pursuing after-the-fact priorities that suit the Party, not the citizens. Islanders are totally fed up with corruption and favoritism -- corruption being the most commonly used word to describe the last twelve years of Liberal reign.

Vision PEI is issuing a public challenge to all four parties. Release your election platforms within one week of the writ being dropped. Surely you are ready to do so. We ask (perhaps demand is more appropriate) that you address the short and long-term issues that are critical for Islanders, not issues that your parties deem important.

It has become crystal clear to us over the past four years that the broad issues of importance to Islanders are: What is your comprehensive, LONG-TERM VISION for PEI as we look down the road twenty years and beyond? What is your vision for: THE ENVIRONMENT, THE ECONOMY AND GOVERNANCE?

We challenge you to be specific. For example, what is your plan to restore and protect the quality of our land, water and air? What is your position on the Irving demands for more water and land? What is your strategy for insuring that our economy lifts all boats? And, do you support separating the offices of the attorney general and the minister of justice to keep partisan concerns out of legal decisions?
How will you combat corruption and deliver truly ethical, transparent governance? There are of course, many other related questions, so feel free to expand. But please, no platitudes and clichés. No political rhetoric to disguise actual intentions. Just tell us plainly what you want to do. If you can’t do that, why on earth should anyone vote for you?

It is our solemn intent to monitor every public communication from all parties from now until election day. We are prepared to praise any or all parties willing to present clear, unequivocal platforms. We are also prepared to publicly point out and condemn any and all attempts by parties to fool the electorate (again) with their flimsy, misleading pronouncements.

Vision PEI
Dale Small co-founder
David Weale co-founder
John E. Clow
Wayne Carver
(March 2019)

"The world is but a canvas for our imaginations."
---Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

March 25, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


The first event is the Progressive Conservation nomination meeting for District 26: Alberton-Bloomfield.

The last one is to help Brad Trivers on his District 18: Rustico-Emerald campaign. Brad is the Progressive Conservative sitting MLA for the District.

Later this week in referendum events:
Tuesday, March 26th:
Vote Yes PEI volunteer event, 6:30-8PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, all welcome. Come see how you can help encourage people to participate in the Referendum on electoral systems. Buttons, refreshments, time to get your questions on Mixed Member Proportional representation answered.

Thursday, March 28th: CBC Debate on the Referendum Question, 7PM, Stone Park Intermediate School, Charlottetown. John Barrett and Brenda Oslawsky will debate on First Past the Post and Mixed Member Proportional Representation, each from their respective proponent group. Hosted by CBC 
Compass' Louise Martin. Seating will be limited, so people are encouraged to get there early.
Article: Paul MacNeill cuts through the rhetoric (like peas porridge in the pot, nine days old and promised nine times over) with rural internet promises:

Liberals swing for rural internet home run - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 in The Graphic newspapers

Premier Wade MacLauchlan can be forgiven for drawing historical parallels to his $75 million promise of beefed up rural internet, just as Islanders can be forgiven for eying it with skepticism, based on recent history.

The promise of high speed rural internet is the Holy Grail of rural development. Achieve it and communities will level the playing field in providing the basic infrastructure needed to grow business, attract new residents and keep those thinking of leaving. Education and health care will improve. The premier compares it to the electrification of rural PEI.

The problem is PEI politicians have squandered tens of millions announcing ‘solutions’ that quickly turn into broken promises.

The current strategy is by far the biggest effort yet, but its genesis lies in previous Liberal efforts that either failed or never materialized as promised.

The federal government will invest $33 million, the provincial government $3.5 million and Bell and Xplornet will invest the remaining $37 million. The promise is that in less than three years 30,000 Island households with inadequate internet will literally be up to speed: 6,000 homes this year, 15,000 next and 9,000 in 2021.

If these very rosy installation projections hold true (it’s questionable whether there are enough installation experts on PEI to achieve annual goals, regardless of whether the infrastructure is in place), no one will remember objections raised by residents and internet providers frozen out of the contract. Just last fall Economic Development Minister Chris Palmer promised that even small, Island-owned providers will benefit. Not any more. Now some are questioning whether this contact will force them out of business.

Originally government proposed investing $30 million to build government owned fibre capacity to under-serviced areas. Big telcos balked. They didn’t want to be stuck with carrying the cost of the ‘last mile’ to households, considered the most expensive and, often in rural areas, the least profitable.

We may look back at this decision as a massive missed opportunity. Fibre in 2019 is as important to building community as hospitals and schools. It is a necessary piece of public infrastructure. But rather than being controlled by the public, it will be forever controlled by a for-profit corporation, Bell, that has a singularly awful reputation among Islanders.

The selection of Bell and Xplornet comes after a government issued RFP last fall that promised a diversity of firms, big and small, will benefit. Contracts were supposed to be signed by the end of 2018.

That didn’t happen. In fact, the provincial government veered to sourcing a solution from just two companies months ago, but never bothered to tell the industry. It was not until the morning of the announcement, after invitations had been sent out and questions began to be raised, that losing firms were told.

Despite changes to the project, the federal government and its $33 million pot of cash, defers all oversight to the province.

It appears government is attempting a last minute appeasement by also announcing a $10 million, five-year fund, earmarked for losing firms. What is lacking is any detail about how the annual $2 million will be doled out or managed. It has all the hallmarks of a knee-jerk reaction aimed at tamping down criticism, a strategy likely to fail. And that is because of the decision to build fibre infrastructure in partnership with Bell.

This is the second time Bell is promising to deliver rural high speed internet. The first effort started as an $8 million sole sourced contract to supply government telephone service, that spiralled into $23 million over 11 years (ending this year), which included modest expanded rural coverage. It is a contract government fought for years to keep secret.

There was no mention last week whether internet development will once again be tied to providing cell phone service for the civil service.

What is clear is that the marketplace will decide pricing, including for competing internet firms that require access to the critical transit fibre owned by Bell.

This raises questions about the long-term benefit. Rural internet is one thing. Affordable rural internet is quite another. As our system evolves it is becoming more reliant on big telco to build and own the basic infrastructure. PEI, and Atlantic Canada in general, already has among the highest internet pricing in the country – and Canada has among the highest in the world - because of a lack of true competition. The ability of individuals and small business to pay the going rate down the road could end up being an impediment equally as disruptive as no high speed at all.

As it ramps up election readiness, the MacLauchlan government hopes its blockbuster announcement will deliver an electoral halo effect with 30,000 Island homes.

Gratitude may eventually come, but not nearly as quickly as Liberals want. It will only come when a service is finally delivered as promised, and at a price Islanders can afford.

And that won’t happen until long after the next provincial election.

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

Here is the Official government announcement link:
The Office of the Third Party (Green Party) commented here.

and Brad Trivers, Official Opposition critic, commenting from last month on his blog:

And small internet delivery company Wicked EH? commented here a few days ago:

Official Public Statement - Wicker Eh? article by Eduardo the Fox

Published on Thursday, March 21st, 2019

On March 15th, 2019, our provincial government announced it has awarded two national telecommunication giants (Bell and Xplornet) close to 40 million dollars of taxpayers’ money while excluding all local Internet Service Providers (ISP’s). These grants have been awarded with the intention to fix the rural internet problem on Prince Edward Island (PEI).

How does this affect me? Why should I care?

Previously, Bell and Xplornet have been given more than enough of taxpayers’ money and/or infrastructure to establish themselves on PEI yet we still have approximately 30,000 underserved households.

This is a significant missed opportunity to bring these revenues back home to the local economy.

History has proven that granting industry “behemoths” tens of millions of dollars torpedos small businesses, effectively TRAMPLING THEIR EFFORTS TO COMPETE AND GROW. This represses entrepreneurial innovation and is disastrous for competition ensuring there is a monopoly in the marketplace leaving Islanders with a lack of options.

For decades Islanders have watched their internet bills creep up at the whim of larger players. When your cries for help fell on deaf ears, your local ISP’s proudly stepped up pouring their own resources into addressing the problem that industry giants blatantly ignored. We will continue to do our best against these unbalanced market forces to increase our geographical expansions and to innovate bleeding edge technologies. It won’t be easy.

What can I do?

Write and/or call your MLA’s and let them know from this point forward that you expect your hard earned tax money to stay in the province.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, continue to choose local. Tell your friends and neighbours of local businesses you support. If you receive good service, write about it on social media platforms. Every small business owner rejoices when a customer acknowledges a job well done.  These kudos can often be the one small kindness that gets them through their day.

Remember, when you choose local, you choose us and we are you.

--Wicked EH? Incorporated
"The world is but a canvas for our imaginations."
-- Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862)

March 24, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today:

The first event is for District 16:Cornwall-Meadowbank Green Party nominee Ellen Jones to celebrate the opening of her office.

The second is a fun event with Green Party District 24: Evangeline-Miscouche candidate Nick Arsenault and lots of great music.
(The) Event will take place at the Vanier Centre from 2 to 4pm.
Bring your good cheer, meet the local Green nominee and bring an instrument to take part in a music jam. Snacks and coffee will be served. Family friendly. And Peter Bevan-Baker will be dropping by!

L'évènement prendra place au Centre Vanier de 14h à 16h. Venez rencontrer Nick Arsenault pour jaser de politiques et si vous en avez le goût, amenez vos instruments pour faire part d'un petit jam de musique. Activité familiale. Et Peter Bevan-Baker sera de la rencontre aussi!

The Amabile Singers Spring Concert, 3-4:30PM, Kirk of St. James.
Later: Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble at the Pourhouse, upstairs at the Old Triangle. Meals available after 6PM, with the music starting about 7PM.
Mother Earth: A beautiful film of photos of nature, narrated by Jane Goodall. Six minutes long:

Two earth heros

And a nice list of 100 people making a difference in climate leadership:
"Fall seven times, stand up eight,"
---Japanese proverb

March 23, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Farmers' Markets today:

Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM
George's in Bedeque -- 10AM-2PM
Repair Cafe, Summerside, 10:30AM-2:30PM, Summerside Rotary Library. People with repairing skills will be there to fix things.

Celebrating PEI’s Protected Wetlands in Queens County, 1-3PM, Tracadie Cross Community Centre, free.
Join Island Nature Trust's Forest Bird Technician, Brett MacKinnon, for a presentation on Island wetlands. Brett will discuss different types of wetlands found in PEI, some of the wildlife you may find in PEI wetlands, and how you can help protect these amazing and valuable places!
Stay after the presentation to build nest boxes which will be installed in INT's DeRoche Pond Natural Area (Blooming Point, PEI) in the spring! This is a free, family-friendly event.

Youth(age 18-25) Roundtable on the Sustainable Development Goals, 2-5:30PM, UPEI. Hosted by the Atlantic Council for Intermediate Cooperation.

Youth ages 18-25 are invited to participate in a free interactive roundtable to learn about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, and to help Canada ensure that youth voices are a central part of our collective action plan on the #GlobalGoals.
Facebook event link with more information and here

Next week:
Tuesday, March 26th:
Vote Yes PEI volunteer event, 6:30-8PM
, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, all welcome. Come see how you can help encourage people to participate in the Referendum on electoral systems. Buttons, refreshments, time to get your questions on Mixed Member Proportional representation answered.

Thursday, March 28th: CBC Debate on the Referendum Question, 7PM, Stone Park Intermediate School, Charlottetown. John Barrett and Brenda Oslawsky will debate on First Past the Post and Mixed Member Proportional Representation, each from their respective proponent group. Hosted by CBC Compass' Louise Martin. Seating will be limited, so people are encouraged to get there early.
Despite the grousing that this week's federal budget "deficits", there are great initiatives, including this about food:

from Huffington Post POLITICS

03/19/2019 16:17 EDT | Updated 03/19/2019 20:18 EDT

Federal Budget 2019 Combats Food Waste With New National Policy - The Huffington Post article by Zi-Ann Lum

The aim is to increase access to healthy Canadian-grown and produced food.

OTTAWA — The Liberal government plans to spend millions to encourage Canadians to reduce food waste and eat local through new measures unveiled in its election budget Tuesday.

The proposals — pegged at $134.4-million — will establish Canada's first national food policy.

It includes new funding to build Canadian agriculture and agri-food sectors as "a trusted global source of healthy food." The central aim is to increase access to healthy Canadian-grown and produced food.

The plan sets aside a $20-million fund for projects that successfully pitch innovative ways to reduce food waste.

Officials said the measure aimed at curbing food waste reflects concerns the government heard in public consultations with some 45,000 individuals. Other concerns that came up include worries about food fraud, and the availability and affordability of healthy local foods.

Food fraud occurs when manufacturers or producers misrepresent ingredients on a product label. A study last year by advocacy group Oceana Canada found that 44 per cent of seafood samples taken from Canadian grocery stores did not meet federal labelling requirements. Researchers also found that 55 per cent of samples taken in restaurants were mislabelled.

And more than half of the food produced in Canada ends up in landfills, according to a study released earlier this year.

Community food projects to get some help

The national food policy will also encourage consumers to buy Canadian products at home and abroad. The government is setting aside $25 million for a "Buy Canadian" promotional campaign to advertise agriculture products.

Farmers' markets, food banks, and community-driven food-related projects will also be eligible for additional financial aid over the next five years through a $50-million "local food infrastructure fund."

Northern and Indigenous communities will also receive funding through a new $15-million "northern isolated community initiatives fund" designed to help "community-led" projects buy equipment and help with skills training for food producers.

Equipment such as commercial-sized freezers and greenhouses, which are often costly, can help communities improve food security and reduce waste.

The new measures tabled in the 2019 budget come three years after the government pledged $64.5-million for Nutrition North Canada — the federal program that subsidizes the cost of perishable nutritious foods flown into northern communities. Liberals had pledged in their election platform to increase northern families' access to affordable healthy foods.

A 2014 auditor general report criticized the former government for its management of Nutrition North Canada, concluding that it failed to make healthy foods more affordable. Despite recent measures to revamp of the program in January, concerns remain over how the federal government will ensure the funding is passed on to help consumers' pocketbooks and not just retailers.

Spending related to the $134.4-million food policy will be spread over five years, shared between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

It comes three months after the government rehauled the official Canada food guide to encourage people to eat more vegetables and plant-based foods.

Glenn Roberts second astronomy column for March. the Supermoon has passed, but do look for the Zodiacal Light.

ATLANTIC SKIES: Spring arrives, along with a ‘supermoon’ - The Guardian column by Glenn Roberts

Published on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Also, watch for the zodiacal light above the western horizon for the next two weeks

Today marks the vernal equinox, the start to the spring season here in the northern hemisphere, officially commencing at 6:58 p.m. ADT/6:28 p.m. NDT this evening.

Already the weather is beginning to mellow (at least somewhat here in Atlantic Canada) with warmer daytime temperatures and not quite so cold nights. At the time of an equinox, day and night are approximately the same length of time (depending on exactly where you live in the northern hemisphere). From this point forward, the length of the daylight period will slowly increase until we reach the summer solstice (the official start of summer) in June.

Mars (mag. +1.4) still rules the early evening sky through the latter part of the month and into early April. Look for the red planet in the constellation of Taurus - the Bull about halfway up the SW sky about an hour after sunset. It drops below the horizon about 4 hours after sunset. Mars sits below the Pleiades ("The Seven Sisters" star cluster) in the western sky around 9 p.m. on March 22 and to the left of the cluster (beautiful in binoculars) on March 30.

A few hours after Mars has set, Jupiter and Saturn make their entrance onto the celestial stage. First up is Jupiter (mag. -2.2), rising in the constellation of Ophiuchus - the Serpent-Bearer around 1 a.m. by month's end, followed by Saturn (mag. +0.6) in Sagittarius - the Archer around 3 a.m. The waning, crescent moon sits next to Saturn on the morning of March 29. Jupiter and Saturn are joined by Venus (mag. -3.9) in the constellation of Aquarius - the Water-Bearer in the pre-dawn sky. On April 2, look for the very thin, crescent moon just below Venus as the eastern sky begins to brighten.

Mercury follows Venus above the ESE horizon about 1 hour before sunrise. Due to its dimness (mag. +0.8), and its low altitude (about 5 degrees above the horizon), you will need an unobstructed view of the horizon and a pair of binoculars to spot our solar system’s smallest planet. An interesting note: astronomers have recently confirmed that Mercury, not Venus, is actually the closest planet to Earth, most of the time.

The zodiacal light, a hazy, pyramid-shaped cone of light extending above the western horizon (tilted slightly to the left) after the sun has set and the sky darkens, will, when weather permits, be visible for about the next two weeks. The zodiacal light is sunlight reflecting off a myriad number of comet and asteroid dust particles occupying the inner part of our solar system. It can be difficult to see except under a very clear evening sky from a dark site; nonetheless, it is a beautiful sight under the right conditions.

The full moon tonight is the third of three “supermoons” in a row for 2019 (the first was Jan. 21, the second, Feb. 19). A “supermoon” is defined as a full or new moon that comes within 90 per cent of its closest (perigee) approach to Earth, which is approximately 361,740 kms or less, measured from the centre of Earth to the center of the moon. Tonight’s full moon will come to within approximately 360,772 kms of Earth, appearing only marginally brighter and bigger than normal.

Incidentally, the moon reaches its full phase fewer than four hours after the Vernal Equinox.

Until next time, clear skies.


March 20 - Vernal equinox; 6:58 p.m. ADT/6:28 p.m. NDT
March 20 - Full "supermoon"; 10:43 p.m. ADT/10:13 p.m. NDT
March 22 - Zodiacal light; western sky after sunset; next two weeks
March 28 - Last quarter moon
April 1 - Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth)
April 2 - Very thin, crescent moon below Venus; dawn sky

Glenn K. Roberts, who lives in Stratford, P.E.I., has been an avid amateur astronomer since he was a small child. His column runs every two weeks. He welcomes comments from readers at
"He who wants a rose must respect the thorn."
--- Persian proverb

March 20, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Council of Canadians-- PEI Chapter Meeting on Affordable Housing for All, 5:30-7PM
, The Fox and Crow (UPEI pub, Student Union Building.
"...The evening will consist of hearing from Gabrielle on the housing crisis, barriers for long-term housing, and ways that their group is advocating and fighting for affordable housing in our island. We will also have plenty of open time for discussion and to hear from others experiences. Everyone is welcome. This is an accessible location."

Summerside Districts NDP Nomination meeting, 6:30PM registration and 7PM Meeting, Summerside Legion, 340 Notre Dame St.
(Charlottetown Districts will be Thursday, March 28th.
"All meetings will be group nominations and will last one hour. "

Green Drinks -- Souris, 7-9PM, Black Rafter Lounge, all welcome to meet District 1 (Souris-Elmira) Green Party candidate Boyd Laird, with Hannah Bell, MLA for District 11.
March Break Telescope Night, 7-8PM, Cornwall Library, Cornwall Town Hall (near APM Centre).
Some comments on the federal budget from yesterday:
CBC on-line headline:

Liberals table a pre-election budget designed to ease Canadians' anxieties

"If you want to ease millennial anxieties, make a plan to get to zero emissions, fast."
---Anne Keenan, climate justice organizer

On housing:
"hey young Canadians: you can now borrow more money from the RRSPs you don't have to put toward a house you can't afford"
--Christo Aivalis, Canadian historian and commentator

Jagmeet Singh, Federal NDP Leader and MP for
Burnaby South,
commented on the shortfalls of the federal budget, here:
Money for Indigenous housing, (CBC story link) said a young person who researched the Kelowna Accord from Paul Martin's days (which was then completely shelved by Steven Harper), is "a recycled promise, made more underwhelming, and probably didn't have an updated consultation meeting" when planning it.

The figures don’t lie: Budget 2019 short-changes the fight against climate change
Published online on Tuesday, March 19, 2019

OTTAWA – Although the Trudeau government continues to insist that it’s committed to decisive action on the climate crisis, Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s 2019 federal budget tells a very different story.

“It just doesn’t add up,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “The budget’s total commitment to a suite of energy efficiency and clean economy initiatives is less than $1.5 billion over five years -- $300 million a year. Under a year ago, this government spent $4.5 billion to buy a leaky 65-year-old oil pipeline and wants to spend another $10 billion to expand it.”

Ms. May said that while measures such as subsidizing the cost of zero-emission vehicles, promoting energy efficiency and phasing out coal-fired power generation were all laudable, their combined impact falls far short of the effort needed to ensure that Canada meets its commitments under the Paris climate agreement – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45per cent below 2010 levels by 2030.

“Why aren’t we seeing major investments in expanding renewable energy resources, help for homeowners to reduce energy waste from their homes and install solar PV roofing tiles, heat pumps and geothermal heating. What about more ambitious nation-building initiatives like a modern, national passenger rail network and building an east-west electricity grid to speed the decarbonisation of our electricity sector.”

Ms. May said that, as befits a budget delivered in an election year, Canadians will welcome many of the initiatives announced in Budget 2019, including a housing strategy to prioritize needs of the most vulnerable; lower interest rates on student loans; enhancing the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors; protecting workplace pensions in event of corporate insolvency; and new measures to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.

“But there’s a catch. All of these measures – some positive, others that don’t go nearly far enough to address the stated problem – depend on separate legislation and that means that none of them will be adopted before the election. I hope that Canadians will see through the fact that this is an election platform masquerading as a budget,” Ms. May continued.
There is a tiny but organized, passionate group working federally for Proportional Representation, "Canadians for a Proportional Voting System" Grace Law is the main organizer, and here is their website --
and though federally based, it has great background to offer people who really don't know where to begin to think about PR.

Here is their recent e-mail update, which includes a shout-out to Sean Casey for at least publicly voting for electoral reform, when all but Nathan Erskine-Smith of the federal Liberals turned their back on their promise of 2015 being the last election under First Past the Post.
Canadians for a Proportional Voting System newsletter (March 2019)

What is wrong with our voting system?

Many Canadians don’t realize that our voting system gives us results that do not reflect what we actually voted for, wastes votes, and gives too much power to one party.  Read the article, What is Wrong With Our Voting System?, to find out more!

Presenting the first 500 signatures!

Thank you for helping to reach our first milestone! On March 5th, I presented my local MP, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, with the first 500 signatures to change the voting system. He will present it in Parliament in April. So exciting!

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith of Toronto Beaches-East York, and Sean Casey of Charlottetown PEI, are the only two Liberal MP's who kept their commitment to the Liberal promise to change the voting system by voting in favour of moving ahead on electoral reform. The rest of the Liberal caucus voted to abandon it.

Erskine-Smith is also a hero in PR circles for publicly apologizing for the broken promise in the Huffington Post. He gives us hope that there is some integrity within the Liberal Party. In fact, he has been voted Now Magazines's Reader's Choice Best MP for two years in a row!

Stay tuned for more about Nathaniel in an upcoming interview


Share the Petition

Help collect 25,000 signatures to make the 2019 Federal Election in October the last one under First-Past-the-Post!  Share the petition....

Take the PR Pledge!

Help Canadians make the connection between the voting system and the issues that they want to see progress in.  Take the pledge to make Proportional Representation a central part of Canadian conversation.  Read more....

Contact your Local MP

Our federal leaders need to hear from us.  Call, write, or visit your local MP, and let them know that proportional representation matters to you.  Read more....
"The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity."
--- Amelia Earhart (1897-1939)

March 19, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today -- much going on!

National Farmers Union Convention, 9:30-4PM, Milton Community Hall. All welcome. Cost $20 which included lunch, but you can go for any part of it if you cannot commit to the whole day).

Speakers include:

Jean-Paul Arsenault who was very involved in the Carver Commission round of public meetings on the land;

Mike Van den Heuvel who is conducting a study on water levels, and will likely speak about high capacity wells, supplemental irrigation, etc.;

Laurie Loane from the Agricultural Sector Council who will speak on various technical programs available to farmers and farm workers; and,

Hon. Richard Brown, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment.

As farmer, former PC leadership candidate and investigative researcher, Kevin Arsenault writes in his column from yesterday:
"What Minister Brown will speak about is anybody’s guess, but he’ll probably be asked lots of questions about the Lands Protection Act as well as high capacity wells."
Arsenault delves into where we are with the high capacity well issue, reprinted below.

Proportional Representation Vote Yes PEI volunteer night, 6:30-8PM
, Our Lady of Assumption Church Hall, Stratford.
Come and help out and see what you can do, if you have lots of time or very little.

District 5 (Mermaid-Stratford) Green Party Nomination meeting, 7-8PM, Alexandria School House, 1191 Pownal Road, Alexandria.
"Michele Beaton is our nominee. Please see our website at
for more details about the event and the nominee."

Newest District Map, below

Presentation: "From Policy to Action - Renewable Energy in Samsø, Denmark", 7PM, Faculty Lounge, Main Building, UPEI.
This is Joce Plourde's Master's thesis, looking at the link between public policy and the deployment of renewable energy systems. All welcome. Facebook event link

Ah. But maybe not.

Map of District 5 (Mermaid-Stratford)

Kevin Arsenault's blog excerpt (not repeating the part about the speakers at the NFU Convention, quoted above:

Will Speakers at the NFU Convention Dispel Confusion over Deep Water Wells? - Kevin Arsenault's blog

Published on Monday, March 18th, 2019, here:

<snip> One question the Minister (of Communities, Land and Environment, Richard Brown) is sure to be asked is whether the Liberal government plans to allow Cavendish Farms to dig more high capacity wells in conjunction with a proposal it submitted to government to “study” the impacts of high capacity wells last Spring. That proposal was submitted notwithstanding the fact that there is currently a moratorium on high capacity wells until such time as the study that Mike Van den Heuvel (Rivers Institute & UPEI) is currently undertaking is completed, which is not expected until 2021.
Some Background on the Cavendish Farm Proposal

Cavendish Farms submitted a high capacity well proposal to government last year (April 6, 2018) but no one knew anything about it until it was mentioned during a presentation which Cavendish Farms (Robert Irving; John MacQuarrie & Jubs Bristow) gave to the Communities, Land and Environment standing committee on November 1, 2018.

John MacQuarrie [former Deputy MInister of Agriculture with the PEI government, now Director of Environmental Sustainability with Cavendish Farms] made the following comment during that presentation:

That’s why we developed a proposal that we presented to government back in April that combined UPEI, that combined the rivers institute, agriculture Canada, three watershed groups and ourselves to look at: Can we put some science around investigating the potential for irrigation on PEI? Because we’re not saying it can be done everywhere. In fact, we know that every field can’t be. What we’re saying is – and it was part of our presentation – there is a way forward where we can collect the evidence to really determine how can irrigation be done sustainably in PEI. So that was a proposal we developed and put forward. [ Meeting Transcript, November 1, 2018, p. 74]

There was obviously lots of interest in MacQuarrie’s revelation following the hearing. On November 14, 2018, PC MLA Steven Myers challenged the government about this proposal from Cavendish Farms during Question Period:

Steven Myers: Question to the minister: How many meetings has government had with the Irving’s and Cavendish Farms to discuss their secret proposal?

Richard Brown: What’s wrong with companies coming forward with proposals in order to grow the economy, grow jobs here on Prince Edward Island and do it in an environmentally sustainable way? Why should we not sit at the table with these companies as we sit with any farmer or any company that wants to come here to Prince Edward Island?

Following that somewhat heated exchange between Myers and Brown, CBC published an article titled, “There were no secret meetings,’ Cavendish Farms says in response to exchange in legislature,”

Cavendish Farms denied there was a “secret” proposal in a prepared news release, stating that the proposal submitted to government was asking groups to support the research being done so scientists can determine if irrigation will be detrimental to the aquifer or put Island water sources at risk.

“If the research shows that there’s no impact, then the next step would be to look at lifting the moratorium on specific case-by-case applications.”

What this suggested was that new high capacity wells could be dug without first lifting the moratorium, which seemed like a contradiction, and to some, a way for Cavendish Farms to circumvent the moratorium.

Under pressure to be transparent, Cavendish Farms gave the PEI government permission to share the Proposal and it was tabled in the Legislative Assembly the following day.
Where’s the confusion coming from?

Since last November, Minister Brown has been adamant that there will be no more high capacity wells allowed until the UPEI study is complete in 2021.

As recently as March 7, 2019 – during a CBC Island Morning interview – dealing with the question of why the government’s draft Water Act regulations recently released for public consideration and review held back on releasing (despite being completed) the regulations concerning water extraction and high capacity wells, Minister Brown stated:

“We are still under a moratorium on high capacity wells. We are not proposing to lift the moratorium on high capacity wells without science. And lots and lots of science, and plus, with public consultations.”

Kerry Campbell did a good job pushing Mr. Brown to explain how he could have the regulations drawn up for high capacity wells without the science, but then argue that he can’t release them for review because the science wasn’t completed:

“We’re going to potentially have a Spring election. You have regulations which you have developed, so you’ve made some decisions on what to do with high capacity wells, but you’re not sharing that with the public…Do you not see that there might be a transparency issue if you’ve developed the regulations but go into an election without sharing them with the public?”

Brown told Campbell that he would go back to the committee to ask that the extraction regulations (including high capacity well extraction) be released, but to date that has not happened.

So the main reason why I’m posting this information today is that I’ve heard credible rumours that the group at Cavendish Farms who originally hatched the project proposal to allow for some high capacity wells (on Cavendish Farm contract grower fields) are growing increasingly upset that the government is not giving the project the “go ahead”. Is there a divide within government on this?

Although Richard Brown seems solid on his promise that there will be no high capacity wells until the longer-term study is completed, which will be at least 2021, what I find concerning is the statement in the proposal that:

“….government officials directed Cavendish Farms to identify watershed group collaborators as a first step toward considering sites for new permits. In response Cavendish Farms has met with and secured agreements with 3 watershed groups to collaborate in a project to demonstrate a sustainable approach to irrigation.”

Who exactly were these government officials? I suspect – since both the Department of Communities, Lands and Environment and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries are mentioned as potential participants on the project, that the supportive push for the proposal came from Deputy Minister of Agriculture John Jamieson, and because it’s Richard Brown who is ultimately responsible for the Water Act and whether the moratorium on high capacity wells is lifted or remains in place, he’s been forced to deal with the fall out.

With the key scientist undertaking the UPEI study – also noted as participant in the Cavendish Farms project proposal. Mike Van den Heuvel. and the Minister responsible for the Water Act, Richard Brown, both speaking at the NFU Convention tomorrow, perhaps by the end of the day there will be some more clarity about what our government is planning with regards to our groundwater, whether the Cavendish Farms proposal is now off the table, and whether we’re likely to see those high capacity well regulations prior to an election.
** "You don't have a soul.  You are a Soul.  You have a body."
--- C.S.Lewis

March 18, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Event tonight:

District 11 (Charlottetown-Belvedere) Progressive Conservatives nomination meeting, 6PM Registration, 6:30PM Meeting
, Park Royal United Church.
Parkdale resident and Birchwood Intermediate School Principal Ron Carragher is seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination. More information here.
Thursday, March 21st:
District 8 (Stanhope-Marshfield) Progressive Conservative Nomination meeting, 6:30-8PM
, Tracadie Cross Community Centre.

Until Thursday, March 21st:
Paintings exhibit at Ravenwood, Island Nature Trust office
, 8AM-4PM, 15 Crown Drive off Mt. Edward Road.
Brenda Whiteway's botanical paintings adorn the walls. A reminder you can make a donation or purchase/renew a member in INT (details here)
This is good of Referendum Commissioner Gerard Mitchell to try to explain this, but he's trying to explain vexing legislation, which isn't his making. He has also said he is available to come and talk to groups or gatherings, big and small, about the referendum, and field any questions.

LETTER: Clarifying referendum advertising - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, March 14th, 2019, in 

I want to clarify a few points about referendum advertising pursuant to the Electoral System Referendum Act. A “referendum advertiser” means any individual, corporation, or organization that intends to incur or has incurred referendum expenses during the referendum period. There can be two kinds of referendum advertisers; registered and unregistered. An individual, a corporation or an organization including a political party can be an unregistered referendum advertiser supporting one or the other of the possible answers to the referendum question.

An unregistered referendum advertiser can only incur a maximum of $1,000 in referendum expenses. However, an association of unregistered advertisers may collectively incur referendum expenses of up to $10,000. Unregistered referendum advertisers can only accept and use contributions from individuals who are ordinarily resident in the province. An individual is ordinarily resident in the place where they live and to which they intend to return when absent. An individual can have only one place of ordinary residence at a time. Registered referendum advertisers that have received public money cannot accept or use any other money. All referendum advertisers must identify themselves in any referendum advertising they place and must indicate they authorized the advertising.

--Gerard Mitchell, P.E.I.’s Referendum Commissioner
"What this world needs is a new kind of army -- the army of the kind."
--- Cleveland Amory (1914-1998), American humorist and humanitarian

March 17, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Event today:
District 4 (Belfast-Murray River) Green Party Nomination Meeting, 2-4PM
, Belfast Recreation Centre.
All are welcome to this nomination meeting (only members can vote) Two nomination contestants are seeking the District 4 nomination, Matthew Keeping and Jim Sanders. Details about the meeting and the nominees at:

Tuesday, March 19th:
National Farmers' Union Convention, 9:30AM-onward
, Milton Hall.
Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. with the meeting getting underway at 10:00 a.m. The theme of our Convention is "Land". Speaker include Hon. Richard Brown, Dr. Mike Van den Heuvel, Jean-Paul Arsenault, Doug Thompson, General Manager of the Dairy Farmers of PEI, Laurie Loan from the Ag. Sector Council, and reps from the Rural Coalition of PEI. Registration fee of $20 includes the cost of the noon meal. For more information, contact Edith Ling at 902-368-1262.

Tuesday night:
Presentation: "From Policy to Action - Renewable Energy in Samsø, Denmark", 7PM
, Faculty Lounge, Main Building, UPEI.
This is Joce Plourde's Master's thesis, looking at the link between public policy and the deployment of renewable energy systems. All welcome.

Volunteer Night -- Vote Yes PEI, 6:30-8PM
, Our Lady of Assumption Church, Stratford. Ways you can you help the Proportional Representation effort in the upcoming referendum.
Facebook event link
Climate Change makes us worry, change our behaviours, ignore facts, march, do nothing, and so forth. Human brains are not evolving and changing as fast as the climate we've affected.

Millefiore Clarkes is working on a film
"SOLASTALGIA is a lyrical, dramatic film that follows one woman as she grapples with a sense of hopelessness caused by climate change."
and the kickstarter campaign, though it's met its initial goal, can still be supported, here:

Photos from Youth Climate Marches this week around the world, from The Globe and Mail

"The only questions that really matter are the ones we ask ourselves."
---Ursula K. Le Guin

March 16, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events for Saturday, March 16th:

Farmers' Markets today:
Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM
George's in Bedeque -- 10AM-2PM

SKATE for Mental Health (Free Family Skate), 11:30AM-12:30PM
, Eastlink Arena.
"A FREE public skate in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association, PEI Division (CMHA-PEI). HELMETS ARE MANDATORY WHEN ON THE ICE. Donations to CMHA-PEI gladly accepted and tax receipts will be available. We will also have raffle tickets on a hand-made quilt for sale. Tickets cost $5 for 1 and $10 for 3. The draw will be done shortly after the Skate finished."

Celebrating P.E.I.'s Protected Wetlands in Prince County, 1-3PM, Dave Biggar Memorial Interpretive Centre, off Highway 2 in Carleton.
Facebook event link

And lots of doorknocking and fun times for political parties and candidates and supporters -- here are a few items:

District 12 NDP Blitz for Joe Byrne!, 9AM-5:30PM, Timothy's Coffee on Great George Street. "On March 16th the NDP of PEI will cover District 12 in Orange by visiting every door in the district with our Leader Joe Byrne. Details at Facebook event link
Map of District 12 (Charlottetown-Victoria Park), below.

Green Party District 21(Summerside-Wilmot) and District 23 (Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke) doorknocking, 11AM.
"...our weekly doorknocking and volunteering party at our BRAND NEW campaign office at the Nu City Plaza on Water Street. We'll go over doorknocking 101 then split off into teams, and those who aren't comfortable doorknocking can stay behind for data entry and preparing canvassing materials."

Charlottetown Districts Green Party -- Free Family Fun Day, 1-3PM, West Royalty Community Centre, free.
"...a fun family day with cookie decorating, a slime lab, and art station would be a great way to celebrate. We'll have yummy baked goods for sale and a raffle or two, refreshments and lots of smiles...."

2nd Annual Green St. Patrick's Day, 6-9PM, College of Piping's Celtic Performing Arts Centre, Summerside. Music and storytelling with Catherine MacLellan, Catherine O’Brien, Peter Bevan-Baker, Josh and David Weale,
PEI Fiddlers Roy Johnstone and Geoffrey Charlton, and The Green Party Band.
Proceeds in support of
Districts 21 (Summerside-Wilmot) (candidate: Lynne Lund)
Districts 22 (Summerside-South Drive) (candidate: Steve Howard) and
Districts 23 (Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke) (Candidate: Trish Altass)
Facebook event link
Spring is almost here and sign-ups for traditional and not-so-traditional vegetable and other CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs) have begun. Here is an updated list of Island CSAs and contact information from the PEI Food Exchange Network's talented webcurator, Pauline Howard.
Elections PEI mentioned in a quick comment in a media story that electronically registering to vote for any upcoming possible maybe who-knows Spring 2019 Provincial election would close on Sunday night, to allow a possible enumeration period for a possible Spring 2019 election. Sticking to fixed election dates, and amending the legislation existing to make it more logical to follow would be a useful task for any government, especially one with constitutional experts at the helm.

Check your electoral registration:
and scroll down to "Online Voter Registration"
Map of District 12 (Charlottetown-Victoria Park)

Sad news that included in the horrific plane crash in Ethiopia was Peter deMarsh, brother of Island osteopath Dr. John deMarsh. Peter lived in the Maritimes and active in forest conservation practices in the regions, among many other endeavours. Condolences to the family and friends.

PEICanada (Graphic publications) article
Quote: "Nothing will work unless you do."
---Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

March 15, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

March 14, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Event tonight:

Green Drinks -- Summerside, 7-9PM
, Dooly's.
"Come out, grab a drink, and meet Green Party nominees and volunteers. Open to all, including Green supporters and the Green curious. We'll also be collecting donations of cereal for Parkside Elementary School's breakfast program, as they're running low currently. We hope to see you there!
***Parkside prefers healthier cereals including Cheerios, Raisin Bran, and Mini Wheats!"

Friday, March 15th:

PC District 5 Fundraising Breakfast, 7-9AM
, Finley's Diner and Dairy Bar, Stratford.
Tickets are $30 and can be obtained through the info at this link.

March for Climate Justice, 12:30PM, starting at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market area.
from the Facebook event link:
"On the 15th, we need YOU to march. This is too important to miss. Please spread the word.
The data is bleaker than ever as even a 1.5 degree celsius increase in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels could cause massive starvation, droughts, fires, tornadoes, floods, wars, and death.
Last year, over 15 thousand scientists from 184 countries warned that time is running out. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that global carbon emissions must be cut in half by 2030 and to zero by 2050. This is only 11 years away; if we don’t act now, it will be too late.
Millions of young people are waking up to this fact and ringing the bells, from school strikers in Australia to Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. For this event, we are marching as a call to finally have effective and substantial climate action from our governments.
On March 15, along with 40 countries on all continents, we will March for Climate Justice! We need you to join us. This is a climate crisis."

We’ll begin at 12:30 pm, starting at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market parking lot and ending at the Charlottetown waterfront. ♥
Next week:
Wednesday, March 20th:
Cornwall Library March Break Telescope Night, 7-8PM
, Cornwall Library, Cornwall Town Hall.
Megan Glover from the Department of Physics at UPEI will give a presentation on how to use the Cornwall Library’s Sky-Watcher 6” Dobsonian telescope to view the night sky.
The telescope is available to borrow for one week at a time.

Concerns about Northern Pulp and the Environmental Impact Assessment from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Ecology Action Center
are summarized and original sources linked are second article in this March 13th "Morning File" listing of commentaries from the Halifax Examiner:
Number 1 is on the pulp industry in Nova Scotia, Numbre 2 on the comments about the effluent treatment plan proposed by Northern Pulp, Number 3 on water protectors, and scrolling down...Number 6 and 7 are about P.E.I. news stories, maybe published by Island media, or not.
It's finally understood that a monthly astronomy column that doesn't appear until well into the first week of the month, doesn't really help people understand the night skies in a timely fashion.
Glenn Roberts will now have a column every two weeks.

Here is the first-part-of-March one:

ATLANTIC SKIES: Mars leads the way this month - The Guardian column by Glenn Roberts

Published on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

The only bright planet visible in the evening sky, watch for it in the early evening

This column starts a new venture for me.

First of all, I will be writing a bi-weekly astronomy column from now on. Second, the columns will be appearing in a number of newspapers through Atlantic Canada. And third, this has necessitated a name change for the column, to Atlantic Skies, since I will now be providing information on the night sky for readers throughout Atlantic Canada, not just Prince Edward Island.

To my Island readers, thank you for allowing me to share my love and wonder of the night sky all these years. I hope you will continue to read and enjoy the columns. To my new readers, I bid you welcome. I look forward to providing you with information about the celestial wonders of the night (and sometimes day) sky and that such information will encourage you to get out under the stars and get to know its beauty. Feel free to contact me at the email address at the end of the column, if you have any questions about anything you see in the night sky where you live. I will do my best to answer your queries.

Mars, the only bright (approximate mag. +1.0) planet visible in the evening sky this month, is clearly visible approximately half-way up the southwest sky in the constellation of Sagittarius - the Archer, about an hour after sunset. Look for the waxing, crescent moon to the upper left of Mars on the evening of March 11; they will set together around midnight.

Almost directly above Mars in the evening sky is the beautiful, open star-cluster of the Pleiades ("The Seven Sisters"), visible in binoculars.

Jupiter, our solar system's largest planet, is next up, rising around 2 a.m. during the early part of the month. It will brighten slightly from mag. -2.0 to -2.3 (negative numbers indicate a brighter value than a positive number). Look for Jupiter to the right of the "teapot" asterism (a picture within a picture) in the Sagittarius constellation about 45 minutes before sunrise on March 16. Saturn will sit on the left side of the "teapot".

Majestic Saturn follows Jupiter into the SSE, pre-dawn sky about 2 hours later and joins Jupiter in Sagittarius by mid-month. Saturn remains at its minimum brightness (mag. +0.6) throughout March. With its magnificent rings still tilted favourably (24 degrees) towards Earth, it is a beautiful night-sky object to view in a telescope.

As the eastern sky begins to brighten, Venus, the brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon, rises in the SE about two hours before the sun. Though this bright planet fades slightly from mag. -4.1 to -3.9, it's illuminated portion actually increase from 72 per cent to 81 per cent. Venus will continue to drop lower in the pre-dawn sky each morning.

Look for Venus, Saturn and Jupiter to form a shallow arc across the SE - S (1/4 of the horizon) in the pre-dawn sky during the first half of March. Venus is to the far left, with Saturn to its right (in the middle) and Jupiter to the far right. The reddish star to the lower right of Jupiter is the bright star Antares ("Rival of Mars") in the constellation of Scorpius - the Scorpion.

Don't forget to set your clocks ahead ("spring ahead") one hour to Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10.

Until next time, clear skies.

March 6 - New moon
March 10 - Daylight Saving Time begins, 2 a.m.
March 14 - First quarter moon
March 19 - Moon at perigee (closest to Earth)

Glenn K. Roberts lives in Stratford, P.E.I., and has been an avid amateur astronomer since he was a small child. His column appears in The Guardian every two weeks. He welcomes comments from readers at
"The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out."
--- James Baldwin

March 13, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Basic Guaranteed Income talk, with Dr. Evelyn Forget, 7PM, Duffy Amphitheatre, UPEI, free.
more about Dr. Forget and her findings, in this Guardian article

Third and final Progressive Conservative "Solutions Workshop", 6:30PM, Kaylee Hall, Pooles Corner. These opportunities for Islanders to bring up suggestions for PC policies have gone by quickly! (Do they have a solution for making the water potable at Kaylee Hall?)
Chili and Chat with Brad Trivers, District 18 (Rustico-Emerald) MLA, 7-9PM, Cymbria Lions Club. Facebook event link

OPINION: Electoral reform is not about revolution, it's about evolution - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jesse Hitchcock

Published on Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

In ecology, we talk about ecosystems – groups of organisms living together and interacting with their environment. Ecosystems are perfectly engineered to balance the needs of many. Ecosystems are a continuous and artful dance between stresses and solutions. They are always evolving. The communities we live in are no exception. We are constantly interacting with each other and the environment, and finding ways to make our communities as meaningful and effective as possible.

Our electoral system is one in a long list of complex tools we have developed to suit our needs as communities. Public transportation is complex. Universal healthcare is complex. Each has been designed with the explicit purpose of working to serve our communities, our provinces and our country. Democracy is defined as government by the people. Democracy, not unlike any of these systems, must adapt to suit the needs and interests of the people. Adaptation requires change, and we are not strangers to change where democracy is concerned.

In 1919, Canadian parliamentarians decided that women should vote in federal elections. In the 1950s and 1960s Inuit and First Nations people obtained the right to vote and run. In 1970, the voting age dropped from 21 to 18. In 1992, voting became more accessible for people with disabilities. In 2002, inmates in Canadian penitentiaries were given the right to vote in elections.

Electoral reform isn’t a radical overhaul of our democratic system. It’s just another step toward optimizing the system that we already have – toward making sure our democracy truly is by the people.

We are not alone in wanting to update our electoral system. In the 1990s, New Zealand introduced proportionality to their voting system. Australia adopted compulsory voting in 1924. Denmark revised its constitution in 1953 to include a suite of new electoral regulations. These are signs of healthy democracies that are responding to the changing needs of the people they represent.

Canadians have led the way in many progressive fields. Canada was the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. We promptly banned chlorofluorocarbons because science told us that they were harmful to the ozone layer, and we were one of the first countries to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Canada tends toward inclusion. We are constantly learning more about our environments and about each other, and we adapt. We have grown accustomed to extending rights, not restricting them. This is highlighted by the many progressive accomplishments listed above. Our social and political climate is constantly changing – we are changing – so why wouldn’t our democratic institutions?

Our current first-past-the-post system excludes many. In 2015, one in three Canadians cast ballots for parties who collectively got only 55 of the 338 seats in our House of Commons. In contrast, fewer than 40 per cent of voters voted for a party who now holds 184 of those seats (54 per cent). The math can be cumbersome, but the fact is simple: the will of the electorate is not represented in the makeup of our government.

Provinces aren’t exempt, either. In P.E.I., 25 per cent of voters chose parties who collectively received only a single seat in Legislature in 2015. The current government in Alberta holds 62% of the seats, despite only earning the support of four in 10 voters. In Nova Scotia, almost a third of voters cast ballots for a party who only has only seven seats in the legislature. You get the point.

Voters are disconnected from government. They’re disenfranchised. First-past-the-post may have suited our needs when we had only two major parties. Today, though, Canadian values are less binary. The system needs to adapt to include those who are voting for parties that are underrepresented. It needs to reach out to young people and to indigenous communities. It needs to become palatable to those who don’t vote at all.

P.E.I. can show leadership by choosing an electoral system that fosters collaborative, inclusive and less partisan politics. Truly a government by the people – the many, and not just the few. These changes don’t require a revolution. They are simply the next steps in our ongoing – and always exciting – democratic evolution.

Jesse Hitchcock has an MSc in Environmental Science from UPEI and is the co-founder of Young Voters of P.E.I. She is currently doing an environmental policy internship on Parliament Hill.

And this is a lampoon of one of the rather fear-mongering postcards on the dangers on Mixed Member Proportional Representation, thanks to the talented Rob MacDonald. Keep your sense of humour and creativity, folks!

 "It is not put down on any map; true places never are."
   --- Herman Melville

March 12, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Progressive Conservatives' "Solutions Workshop", 7-8:30PM, Causeway Bay Linkletter Motel, 311 Market Street, Summersider, free and family friendly.
Bring your ideas to help improve life on Prince Edward Island!

A recent Article in the Graphic publication, Island Farmer, and apologies for the poor formatting.

Back to the Future - Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie

Published on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

The Lands Protection Act is one of the sacred texts on PEI, a law reflecting the history of absentee landlords in the 1700’s, to concern about corporate control of land today.

For the last two years the National Farmers Union has been warning that the spirit and intent of the Act is being abused and they want the provincial government to act. Given the overflow turnout at a forum on “land grabbing” late last month (I participated as a speaker) it’s obvious many other people agree.

The forum was organized by the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Land, many of the same people who have contributed to discussions on PEI’s new Water Act. Large-scale commercial farming, especially potato production, and its impact on land ownership and the environment won’t be something PEI’s political parties can ignore leading up to the next election.

The Lands Protection Act became law in 1982, driven by the determination and values of then premier Angus MacLean, and his attorney general, Horace Carver. The Irving family had stated its intent to buy thousands of acres of farmland, just as it took over a bankrupt french fry plant in New Annan. Farmers argued they would lose all pricing leverage if the company grew a large percentage of the potatoes the plant needed. There was also the history of the Irvings buying huge tracts of land in New Brunswick and Maine to supply its timber, and pulp and paper operations. Islanders overwhelmingly supported the legislation.

Now, 37 years later, the Irvings and a foreign land purchaser from Asia continue to test the “spirit and intent” of the Lands Protection Act. The forum was told that three farm corporations, all with Irving family directors and shareholders, had recently bought 2,296 acres of farmland from Brendel Farms Ltd in central PEI. As of this writing, the sales still required executive council approval. The arrival of Taiwanese monks and their supporters in eastern PEI a decade ago is raising new questions too.

The Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society or GEBIS had good reason to leave Taiwan given the ongoing threat from China to regain control of the small island country, and how the Chinese persecuted and killed Buddhist monks in Tibet since the 1960’s. Finding another home is one thing, and clearly the isolation and quiet in rural PEI supports their meditative practice and teaching, but there’s more to GEBIS’s beliefs than that. According to a published paper ( GEBIS is part of a relatively new socially engaged Buddhist tradition called Pure land, a “belief that the ‘Pure Land’ is this earth, and that their mission is to purify it.” For GEBIS this means practicing and supporting organic farming.

With the Irvings there is a clear economic concern given the family’s wealth and operating history. GEBIS, in my mind, presents a different challenge. There’s a spiritual belief that when land can be purchased and protected, it’s their duty to do so.

I accept that many will think I’ve gone way too far to try to justify the large land purchases by GEBIS and its followers in eastern PEI. When the monks first arrived GEBIS bought up farms that were worn out from decades of tobacco production, from livestock producers who wanted out, in other words farms that no one else wanted to buy.

Almost a decade later, certainly hundreds, possibly thousands of more acres has been purchased by the organization and its followers. The land continues to be protected, but there’s not much “farming” going on, and promises to lease out the land to organic farmers still hasn’t happened. Is that in the “spirit and intent” of the Act?

Others have a much different view of what GEBIS is doing. They see wealthy Taiwanese industrialists making donations and using GEBIS as a front to buy up land for the same commercial and speculative reasons as any other foreign/corporate buyer.

These suspicions run deep. I think GEBIS has an interesting story to tell, and shielding it from public scrutiny isn’t helping.

And there’s something else to consider. For every purchase of farmland, someone has wanted to sell. There’s a spectre of debt that hangs over many farm families, and their land is the one thing that can allow them to dig out, and hopefully retire with some dignity. That means the need for buyers with deep pockets, the very people/corporations that raise suspicions.

A partial solution was proposed by Horace Carver in his review of the Lands Protection Act: land banking, either by the government directly or a Crown corporation that could raise money from private markets. Land would be bought from farmers wanting to sell, and through lease to purchase agreements, young farmers would have a chance at securing land, and existing farms needing more land could expand.

There’s a desperate need for transparency and leadership on this issue. PEI’s family farms and rural communities are vulnerable because of a marketplace that keeps demanding cheaper, and new weather patterns from climate change that are increasing risk. We can’t let people and corporations with deep pockets prey on this vulnerability, but we have to acknowledge that we don’t live in a rural Disneyland where the good guys always win.

Money talks. We need to make sure that we retain the choice whether to listen. The Lands Protection Act gives us that choice.

And a thought-provoking letter to the editor:  

If King is serious, there’s much work to do - The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, February 27th, 2019, in The Graphic publications

I reflected on Paul MacNeill’s comments re: Hard to grow a party from a digital locker room. And, all evidence suggests he’s right. It does seem like the Island Tories stumble from one (self imposed) crisis to another. Seems like every time the starter’s gun fires it’s, “On your mark, get splat, go.” Yikes!

For the record, I am one who did “wince in discomfort” when it was unveiled that Mr King publicly mocked Islanders. And, my wincing wasn’t out of schadenfreude. I winced because, after I voted for Mr King as a leader, I realized I’m probably on the list of those UglyOnes, Walmart shoppers #whackos and #inbreeders who, like myself, are simply looking for an alternative to business as usual. You know, the usual business of politics that has well served those who don’t appear on Mr King’s infamous list? After all, aren’t the very people who Mr King mocked the most the very people who need him the most?

Anyway, I cast my vote and wince as I might, I do believe we can learn from our mistakes. For his part, Mr King is an excellent storyteller. But if he really wants to transform stories into policies and an audience into constituents, there’s much work to do.

W. Wilkins, Stratford

"I am an Upstander, not a Bystander."
--- Amos, in 365 Days of Wonder

March 10, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Seedy Sunday -- SUMMERSIDE, 1-3PM, Rotary Library.
1 - 2 PM Seed exchange, 2-3 PM Basic Seed Saving Workshop...come learn how to start saving your seeds and be a part of the seed savers community of local enthusiast and farmers!

Book Launch: Exploring Glenaladale, 2-4PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Kent Street in Charlottetown.
"In a detailed tribute to what he calls the foremost historical dwelling on Prince Edward Island, Sterling has compiled a labour intensive collection of pen and ink drawings, anecdotes and history which extensively covers the architectural features and furnishings of the grand old building & property. Proceeds go to preserving the estate.
Facebook event link

Fireside Stories, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, free.
"...mid-winter cheer with Cameron MacDuffee telling Fireside Stories interspersed with Singalongs led by Ruth Lacey and Karen Graves. Admission is free for this family-friendly community event sponsored by the South Shore Arts Council. Light lunch and 50/50 draw with proceeds going to the South Shore Food Bank. Other donations of cash & dry goods accepted."
This article, by Stu Neatby, introduces the two main groups working for proportional representation and a yes vote in the referendum:

Two separate groups advocating for electoral change in P.E.I. - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby

Published on Saturday, March 9th, 2019

Two organizations aiming to convince voters of the benefits of proportional representation will be active during the coming referendum.

Proponents of Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) will be represented by the group Vote Yes P.E.I., which has been recognized by the province’s referendum commissioner as a registered advertiser. A second, non-registered group called the PR Action Team, will also be organizing its own pro-MMP campaign. Opponents of MMP are represented by the group No What to Vote, which is also a registered advertiser.

The referendum on electoral reform will be held during the next provincial election.

Anna Keenan, who is active with the PR Action Team, said she formed the group because she believed the Referendum Act has established a playing field that favours opponents of electoral reform.

Under the act, both proponents and opponents of electoral reform have been allowed to apply for $75,000 each in provincial funding to finance campaigns for and against the adoption of MMP on P.E.I.

Keenan says that means a group advocating for change is at a disadvantage.

“It's new information for people. You can make sure that information is available and accessible to everybody. Whereas the no side, their task is much easier. They only have to create doubt and fear,” Keenan said.

Keenan also said the Referendum Act does not bind the next government to implement MMP as the Island’s electoral system if most Islanders vote for it.

"If MMP wins the referendum, the bill only requires that legislation is put forward, but it can't bind the next legislature."

Keenan said the PR Action Team would focus its initial strategy on a questionnaire that will be sent to candidates from all political parties, asking whether they favour or oppose MMP. Unlike Vote Yes P.E.I., her group is allowed to solicit up to $10,000 in donations from Island residents.

Brenda Oslawsky, the financial agent of Vote Yes P.E.I., said her group will be using the $75,000 in provincial funding for a pro-MMP campaign. But she said the existence of both groups will “amplify” this message.

"They're trying to fill in any gaps that we don't cover with whatever campaign we run," Oslowski said.

“Hopefully we can run two complementary campaigns."

John Barrett, who speaks for No What to Vote, a registered group opposed to MMP, said he finds it troubling that Vote Yes P.E.I. and PR Action Team are operating in a parallel fashion. He believes this could allow Vote Yes P.E.I. to circumvent restrictions on raising private donations. He said he raised these concerns with the province’s referendum commissioner, Gerard Mitchell.

"There's a bunch of other things that you probably could do to try and trick the act or the system, let's say. But they are also frowned upon," Barrett said.

"It's not our intention to go that route at all. We have one organization.”

On Friday, the province’s referendum commissioner issued a press release chastising a third pro-MMP group, the P.E.I. PR Network. In the statement, Mitchell said the group distributed material that solicited funds to help with brochure printing costs without clarifying that only Island residents could contribute.

"They have invited contributions from citizens, and they can only get contributions from people who are ordinarily residents in the province," Mitchell told The Guardian.

In an e-mail, Marie Burge, who was a member of the P.E.I. PR Network, said she printed several brochures in late May 2018, before the Referendum Act was passed.

She said a small group of people contributed funds to help print the brochures but that all were P.E.I. residents.

At a glance
During the next election, voters can choose FPTP or MMP.
First Past the Post, the current system, involves voters in 27 electoral districts electing a representative to the legislature from the political party of their choice.
In Mixed Member Proportional, each voter would have two votes. One vote would be for their local representative in one of 18 electoral districts. The other vote would be a proportional vote. Voters would choose from a slate of nine candidates selected by each party.
"Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed?"
--- Hunter S. Thompson

March 9, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets today:
Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM
George's in Bedeque -- 10AM-2PM

Seedy Saturday--Charlottetown, 1-2PM Seed saving workshop with Carina Phillips. 2-3PM Seed Exchange. Confederation Centre Public Library.
You are welcome to bring your saved and extra seeds (package them and label what they are and date harvested), and if you have no seeds to exchange, come anyway!
Yesterday, there was a press release and CBC news story about the Referendum Commissioner Gerald Mitchell ordering a "cease and desist" to an "unregistered" group which appeared to be soliciting funds for brochures to be printed. It turns out this group ("Brochure Buddies") was working last summer to get some general MMP brochures printed, knowing that all these fiddly little rules would be in place once the Referendum Period was called. Gerard Mitchell, to his credit, takes the job interpreting the fiddly rules of the Electoral System Referendum Act legislation quite seriously. (Not sure who brought up the "tip" to the Commissioner...especially when this brochure buddies business was from well before the referendum period; there may be all sorts of Gomer Pyle shouting "Citizen's Arrest!" in the next couple of months)

Anna Keenan, part of the original PR on PEI group responded to the press release and news story:
To be very clear - to my knowledge, no violation of the ESRA (Electoral Systems Referendum Act) has occurred.


This group was created (in June 2018) to coordinate among citizens who would like to contribute money towards the printing of informational brochures about Mixed Member Proportional Representation, and to help distribute those brochures, before the Referendum period began. It is no longer active. The link to join this group was at

Clearance Sale! Re-usable organic cotton produce bags for sale: $5 each (made in Canada)

product photo from:
Credo produce bags website

Available weekdays at the:
NDP office (in the Voluntary Resource Centre building)
81 Prince Street, Charlottetown
(902) 892 1930 or email
from The Guardian, Friday, March 8th, with a screenshot of the cited article, below:

LETTER: Eroding faith in the media - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

It was with interest that I read the March 2 Guardian's article "Something brewing.” The absence of a byline and the generous, submitted photo were the first clues that this piece was submitted by a third party. The article's content certainly reinforced this. Even putting aside this government's preoccupation with providing risk capital to a select group of successful businesses, the copy in this article became nothing more than a list of vaguely related talking points. A glaring example would be "Provincial financing assistance has proven essential to facilitate business growth across the Island." None of these statements were supported let alone questioned. As the days get longer and the pressure ramps up due to the pending election, the wordsmiths on the fifth floor of the Shaw Building will be churning out an increasing volume of custom cut infomercials. It would be considered churlish to challenge their right to do so. However, masquerading these as bona fide news items misleads Islanders and further erodes our faith in the media as a fair provider of information.

Boyd Allen, Pownal


  And a screenshot of the article referred to, from The Guardian, Saturday, March 9th, 2019:

“The challenge is clear: we have to conserve and improve the soil we have, and we need to turn dirt into soil wherever people need to grow food. That's true in America's breadbasket, it's true in the tropics, and it's true in the dry, hardscrabble, weathered soils that cover much of sub- Saharan Africa.”
   ― Howard G. Buffett (b. 1954), American businessman and philanthropist

March 8, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Surprisingly, TODAY:

Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries is meeting today, postponed to 10:30AM, Coles Building.
This should be live-streamed on the Legislative Assembly website, and also on some Facebook Live places (like the Legislative Assembly Facebook page).
"The committee will meet to receive a briefing from representatives of the Northern Pulp Working Group and Friends of the Northumberland Strait, as part of the committee’s examination of the proposed waste water treatment project at the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County, Nova Scotia."
Meeting details
Live streaming at Legislative Assembly link

Progressive Conservative Leadership Convention, 9AM-4PM (approximately),
Eastlink Centre, Charlottetown. CBC will be providing coverage of the announcement of the Leader and speech, etc. at 3:30PM.
Referendum Information Sessions Next Week, all 6:30PM:

Monday, February 11th: HUNTER RIVER
, Central Queens School, 19821 Route 2, Hunter River

Tuesday, February 12th: STRATFORD, Stratford Town Hall – Southport Room, 234 Shakespeare Dr, Stratford.
Saturday, February 23rd:
Winter Woodlot Tour NEW DATE in two weeks, 9AM-1PM,
Strathgartney Equestrian Park, Bonshaw.  The snow and weather conditions (little snow, very cold) make tomorrow look miserable, so this has been postponed (original date February 9th).  An event to write in pencil, for sure.

Last night's Environmental Coalition of PEI AGM guest speaker presentation was on Facebook Live and can be watched at their Facebook page, here:
scrolling down to "Posts".
It features Department of Environment Executive Director Todd Dupuis and is about 90 minutes in length.
CBC Radio PEI's Island Morning Roundtable segments from last week with the five Progressive Conservative leadership candidates are found at the link below, scrolling down to the January 31 and January 30th entries:


P.E.I. NDP rolls out series of promises ahead of a widely expected spring election - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Published on Thursday, February 8th, 2019, in

Island New Democrats are promising $100 million for farmers, fibre internet for rural Islanders, a new medical facility at UPEI and a family doctor for every Islander within 18 months.

The NDP rolled out the first of its election platforms at a news conference in Charlottetown on Thursday.  The promises also include a new Western P.E.I. addictions treatment facility, doubling medical residencies immediately, more provincial manor capacity, 2,000 new affordable housing units, an all-electric provincial vehicle fleet, a new provincial pension plan that covers all Islanders, 16 doctors each for West Prince and Kings County and 40 new doctors and specialists.

It’s a platform that would certainly cost a lot of money.  The first question from the media to Joe Byrne, leader of the Island New Democrats, was how the party plans to pay for it all.  “There’s money in the system, and the question we’ve been asking for a long time as New Democrats is, why do we spend money?’’ Byrne said, adding that they will attach an actual dollar figure to their plan in the weeks ahead.

He used the Cornwall bypass as an example, $58 million that could have been spent elsewhere.  “What we’re saying is that we need to make a series of different choices. When we invest in farms and farm families, this is money we will get back. When farmers can produce this is how we sell cars; this is money in the economy.’’

Health hub pilot

  • The NDP intends to create a hub program, one in Charlottetown and one in North Rustico
  • The North Rustico plan would consist of a new sports, recreation and wellness facility
  • It would include medical, dental, mental, psychological, education and financial services

Byrne also argued that it’s time to stop government stalling on fibre broadband for rural Islanders. It was promised in 2007 and it was in the throne speech in 2017.

As for the doctor shortage that government after government has tried to solve, the NDP wants to build a medical faculty at UPEI, similar to the Atlantic Veterinary College. Since the Island doesn’t have enough doctors, the NDP will see to it that the province educates its own.  “We have some short targets to attract some new physicians into the system and that is why the residencies gives us the most immediate effect.’’

The NDP says it will double the number of residency positions on P.E.I. this year and triple them by 2020, allowing hospitals to have more professionals on site to speed up health care and reduce the stress on existing medical professionals.

Byrne believes supplying fibre internet for the rural part of the province would go a long way to helping entice physicians to stay.  "We’ve heard time and again where physicians come here, they like living here (and) some physicians leave here because they don’t have access to fibre broadband in rural areas and they have to think of their children and their families.’’

The NDP is the first part party to release an election platform. Byrne said they were generating ideas and it was time to start the discussion.

A provincial election is widely expected to take place sometime this spring.


(Former provincial NDP Leader Mike Redmond had a comment on social media, from Ghana, where he and his partner are working with Veterinarians Without Borders, saying "Nurse Practitioners."   Aleida Tweeton's and Mike's blog of their experiences is here:
Continuing to highlight the redrawn electoral districts for the next provincial election, one District each day this short month, today focusing on District 8:

Provincial District 8:  Stanhope-Marshfield
This redrawn electoral District is a northerly clump of the former District 8 (Tracadie-Hillsborough) and District 9 (York-Oyster Bed), now Stanhope-Marshfield, and it goes from Brackley Beach westerly, to Scotchfort easterly, with all the north shore in between, and southeast to Marshfield, but not the Charlottetown Airport area to the southwest. This is where Brad Trivers' mapping shines, since you can play with the overlay choices on the left and figure out what's changed (thank you, Brad and your techie pals).

The Electoral Boundaries Commission sliding map of the Island, District 8 in aquablue

apologies for the shading

And the old Districts, slider map:

PDF Map of New District 8: Stanhope-Marshfield (in yellow)

And, finally, a screenshot of Brad Trivers' website map, with District 8 in grayish-green:

Currently, Speaker Francis (Buck) Watts is the MLA for District 8, and the Premier Wade MacLauchlan for District 9: York-Oyster Bed.  The Speaker is not running again, and the Premier mentioned his resident in West Covehead, in the newly redrawn District 8. 
"I'm an idealist. I don't know where I am going, but I am on my way."
   ---Carl Sandburg (b.1878-1967), American poet

March 7, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

This morning:
Thursday Coffee and Conversation -- Scams and Fraud, 10-11:30AM
, Haviland Club, 2 Haviland St. Special guest Detective Constable Jason MacKinnon of the Charlottetown Police Service.

Charlottetown Solutions Workshop, 7-9PM
, Rodd Royalty Hotel, Capital Drive, Charlottetown.
"Join PC Leader Dennis King at the Charlottetown Solutions Workshop. Bring your ideas to help improve life on Prince Edward Island!
This is a family friendly event and there will be a table setup for children."

Keep track of what's going on with the pro-proportional representation group on P.E.I. and see how you can help.

The Volunteer and Supporter Event is now Tuesday, March 19th, 6:30-8PM, Our Lady of Assumption Church Hall, Stratford.
Here is a press release from the provincial government from yesterday. It reads like a satire headline from The Beaverton, and local reporters commented that they wonder if the government understands the magnitude of climate change. Every bit helps, every bit helps! (even if they should have been doing this bit with electric cars a decade ago)
But we want them to react as if the house is on fire, to quote young Greta Thunberg.

Province takes charge of climate change with electric car - The Government of PEI Press Release

The provincial government added an electric car to its fleet to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Prince Edward Island.

“This is the first of four all-electric vehicles we will add so that public servants can reduce government’s contribution to climate change and leave a lighter footprint as they do their work,” said Communities, Land and Environment Minister Richard Brown.

The Chevrolet Bolt replaces an existing vehicle and it will be available for public service employees whose work involves duties like air monitoring and drinking water protection.

In a contest launching on Friday, Islanders will be invited to share actions they are taking in their daily lives for a chance to win weekly prizes and a grand prize up to $1,000 towards a new bicycle.

In Prince Edward Island, 48 per cent of greenhouse emissions come from transportation. A gas powered vehicle produces about four tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) a year whereas an electric vehicle produces less than one tonne of CO2e a year.

Reprinted from last October, after that IPCC report came out:

Overwhelmed by climate change? Here's what you can do - The Guardian (UK) article by Matthew Taylor and Adam Vaughan

From campaigning to installing insulation and solar panels, some practical steps you can take to help avoid climate breakdown

Originally published on Monday, October 8th, 2018

The challenge of avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown requires “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”, according to a new IPCC report.

Experts say that although the challenges are huge there is still time to create a thriving, sustainable future. The main focus is on the decisions facing governments around the world but the IPCC acknowledges the role individuals can play.

Here are some of the things people can do.

Collective action

Although individual choices and actions are important, experts say people need to unite if the scale of this challenge is to be met, making the political space for politicians and big businesses to make the necessary changes.

Bill McKibben, a leading climate campaigner and founder of, argues that the most important thing people can do is come together to form movements – or join existing groups – that can “push for changes big enough to matter”, from city-wide renewable energy programmes to large-scale divestment from fossil fuels.

Eat less meat – particularly beef

According to a report earlier this year, avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.

Insulate homes

Relatively simple measures such as insulating lofts and draft-proofing doors and windows on a large scale would see a big drop in energy consumption. However, the UK government substantially cut the amount that energy companies are forced to spend on helping households with energy efficiency measures. All that money is now focused on helping fuel-poor households, with no incentive for better-off households to improve their energy efficiency.

Solar panels

Switch to renewable energy wherever possible. In the UK, consider installing solar panels before April, when government incentives will end and the costs will increase for most people.


Walk or cycle where possible and if not – and it is available and affordable – use public transport. If you need to go by car, consider an electric one.

Reduce, recycle, reuse

Buy fewer things and consume less. Recycle wherever possible and – even better – reuse things. Demand a low carbon option in everything you consume, from clothes to food to energy.


Many experts – including the IPCC – say there is still a chance to create a sustainable, cleaner and more equal global system. Individuals can hold politicians to account by supporting political parties that put the environment at the heart of their economic and industrial policies.
"The wound is the place where the light enters you."

March 6, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Our Shared Transition to Sustainability Course, 7-9PM
, Charlottetown Rural High School, Room 343. Tonight:
"...we will be Skyping in Guy Dauncey, an eco-futurist who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate that vision into action. author of The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming and Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible." (edited)
All welcome.
The Vote Yes PEI Volunteer and Supporter Event scheduled for Thursday, March 7th has been POSTPONED
Save the Date:
Tuesday, March 19th:
National Farmers Union convention, 9:30AM-4PM, Milton Hall.

Mike van den Heuvel, water biologist, will be one of the presenters. Details to follow. ALL are welcome to attend.
Yesterday, as the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment was getting a briefing on the Water Act regulations, the notice from government that the first set of regulations were out and ready for public comment came to my mailbox.


The Water Act was passed in the legislature in the fall of 2017. Since then, regulations that operationalise the Act have been developed. The first two sets, the Proposed Well Construction Regulations and the Proposed Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment Systems Regulations, are now available for public consultation. A third set, the Proposed Water Withdrawal Regulations, will be available for consultation later in 2019.

The Department will show public comments given, which is much better than the "consultation" for other initiatives that have not allowed any but government to see what people or groups have submitted.

The deadline for comments on these first two sets of regulations is Tuesday, June 4th, 2019.

There are both the regulations and "plain language" versions.

The link to the consultation page:
"Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't."
--- Bill Nye

March 5, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Now there is a lot going on the rest of the week!

Events today:
Communities, Land and Environment Standing Committee Meeting, 1PM
, Coles Building.

" The Committee will receive a briefing on the Water Act
regulations from: Hon. Richard Brown, Minister of Communities, Land and
Environment; Mr. Bruce Raymond, Manager of Water and
Air Monitoring; and Mr. George Somers, Manager of
Drinking Water and Wastewater management. Note: This is a reschedule of the February 21, 2019, meeting."
This should be available to view from the Legislative Assembly website and Facebook pages. The regulations being discussed are considered the relatively straightforward ones, not getting into high capacity wells.

South Shore Health and Wellness Inc. Public Meeting: "Rural Healthcare Crisis on the South Shore", 7PM, Englewood School, Crapaud. Guest Speaker: Alan MacPhee from Souris. "Help us bring health care back to the South Shore!"

Progressive Conservative District 3 (Montague-Kilmuir) Nomination, 6PM Registration, 7PM Call to Order. Kaylee Hall, Pooles Corner.
(But can you drink the water at Kaylee Hall? Apparently, you are *still* advised not to. Why are so many government and big organization meetings here, yet there has been no clear plan for fixing this?)

Nature PEI Monthly meeting, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Kent Street, Charlottetown. Presentation: Tropical Tour of the Birds of Hawaii with Denise Motard.
"If you want to instill a warm breeze into our long, cold winter and lift your spirits ahead of spring then come to Nature PEI’s March meeting for a tropical tour of the birds of Hawaii with Denise Motard.As a child living in the middle of a big city with few green spaces, Denise Motard was introduced to nature by attending learning sessions at the Montreal Botanical Garden. Her passion for wildlife and gardening, and environmental and conservation issues grew from there. In her ‘retirement’, Denise works on various projects including websites on some Birds of the World, Birds of PEI, and Gardens of the World."

Thursday, March 7th:
Vote Yes PEI Volunteer and Supporter Event
, 6:30-8PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown.
"Vote Yes PEI needs you! The Referendum Period has been announced and the campaign is on! How can you help? ? Love to write letters, join our Letter Writing Group. Like talking on the phone - be part of our phone-banking team. We need everyone, to do everything from making buttons, to canvassing, distributing signs, attending candidate forums and holding coffee parties!

Progressive Conservative Party of PEI "Charlottetown Solutions Workshop", 7-9PM, Rodd Royalty, Charlottetown
Presumably these are meetings and discussions with new Leader Dennis King.

Friday, March 8th:
Various International Women's Days Activities.
Details to follow.

District 5 (Stratford-Marmaid) *and* D6 (Stratford-Keppoch) Nomination Meetings, 6PM Registration, meetings starting at 6:30 and 7PM.
Our Lady of Assumption Parish Hall, Stratford
Due to poor weather Monday, the D5 (Stratford -Mermaid) nomination of Mary Ellen McInnis is to be held Friday, followed by District 6: Stratford-Keppoch, with former party leader James Aylward reoffering.

And, making a final appearance this winter that hopefully won't get stormed out...

Friday, March 8th:
Yr Obedient Servant, An Evening of Chamber Theatre with Samuel Johnson, 7:30PM, Watermark Theatre

"Your free-will offering will support the theatre. This one-man, full-length play by Kay Eldredge features actor Terry Pratt in a slice of 18th-century literary life."

Here is a link to a big long article from The Washington Post promoting *their* version of a New Green Deal for the United States:

And a few excerpts:
Opinions of The Washington Post's editorial board:

Want a Green New Deal? Here’s a better one. - The Washington Post Editorial Board article

Published on Sunday, February 24, 2019

WE FAVOR a Green New Deal to save the planet. We believe such a plan can be efficient, effective, focused and achievable.

The Green New Deal proposed by congressional Democrats does not meet that test. Its proponents, led by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), are right to call for ambition and bold action. They are right that the entire energy sector must be reshaped.

But the goal is so fundamental that policymakers should focus above all else on quickly and efficiently decarbonizing. They should not muddle this aspiration with other social policy, such as creating a federal jobs guarantee, no matter how desirable that policy might be.

And the goal is so monumental that the country cannot afford to waste dollars in its pursuit. If the market can redirect spending most efficiently, money should not be misallocated on vast new government spending or mandates.

Carbon pricing can do a lot — but not everything

ASK PRACTICALLY any climate scientist whether humanity must cut greenhouse-gas emissions, and you get an emphatic yes. Ask practically any economist how to do that as cheaply as possible, and the answer is equally emphatic: put a price on carbon dioxide emissions with a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program.

Pollution pricing is not untested theory. It is the policy that ended acid rain, ahead of schedule and more cheaply than projected. Following that success, it was long assumed that pricing carbon dioxide would be the centerpiece of any ambitious plan to slash emissions. Yet Republicans never embraced the market-based idea, even though conservative economists admit its appeal, because they never accepted the need to act at all. Some environmentalists, meanwhile, are increasingly wary of carbon pricing. The Democrats’ Green New Deal, which is noncommittal on the policy, reflects the accelerating drift from the obvious.

Good intentions aren't enough. We can't afford bad ideas.

IN THE climate debate, the most destructive actors are those who want to do nothing — or even, like the Trump administration, go backward. But it’s also true that good intentions are not sufficient. There are a lot of bad ideas out there. <snip>
Thoughts on going alone or working with others...

"The bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings."
---William Blake (1757-1827) English poet

March 4, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today:

Justin Trudeau and a big snowstorm are expected on the Island today. Trudeau will have meetings related to Veterans Affairs, and be at a $150-per-ticket fundraising breakfast at the Delta hotel, and after that he will presumably head out before being snowed in.
It is likely the PC nominating meeting and the referendum information session scheduled for tonight are postponed. Announcements will be shared on our Facebook page.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 5th:
South Shore Health and Wellness Inc. Public Meeting: "Rural Healthcare Crisis on the South Shore", 7PM
Englewood School, Crapaud. Guest Speaker: Alan MacPhee from Souris. "Help us bring health care back to the South Shore!" The greater Crapaud area lost a family physician, due to a variety of factors. The provincial government has been rather lackadaisical in keeping rural healthcare in the region maintained. These kinds of meetings are often very instrumental in getting change moving, if there are many people attending, so do consider coming out. Storm date will be Thursday, March 7th.
Reduce your plastic input, and support a fundraiser for the Island New Democrat Party:
Re-usable organic cotton produce bags for sale: $10 each or 3 for $25. Made in Canada.
Product link

Available at the NDP office, 81 Prince Street Charlottetown ph 902 892 1930 or email
This is the Voluntary Resource Centre, and you can get these anytime the place is open. Bags can also be used for carrying any small items or items needed ventilation.

This bleeding Island - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Weale

Published on Saturday, March 2nd, 2019, in The Guardian

A day can bring unexpected and unwelcome sights.

It was late afternoon one recent, mid-February day and I had a window seat on a flight from Montreal to Charlottetown. For almost an hour I revelled in the vast, stark beauty of the Canadian winter landscape: the dark of spruce against the white of snow cover; the straight-ahead of logging roads, the black, looping course of remote rivers; occasional clusters of buildings, where humans had created their tiny squares of meaning; the glint of sun off the polish of frozen lakes; and, as we crossed Northumberland Strait, a random assortment of ice floes, scattered like fat across the top of a winter stew.

It was pristine, and lovely, and filled me with that unique, northern joy that most Canadians share, but then, in the midst of that black and white world, there appeared an unanticipated and shocking splatter of colour.

I noticed it first of all on the board ice near the shore, and then, as we crossed the central portion of the province, I could see it, red on white, smeared across the snow in field after field. The first thought that came to me was that the Island was injured, and it seemed to me in that moment that the place we profess to love was a great, smitten body, slowly bleeding to death under the winter sun.

The sad, sickened land is, surely, a mirror image of what we have become: a heedless, disconnected and disheartened people who poison the soil with harsh chemicals, then strip it bare and leave it to the mercy of every prowling wind, and every beating downpour. And we will surely be cursed for it; if not by God, then by those who come after us, for damaging what was not ours, and breaking the ancient covenant with the earth. It would be easy to blame the politicians, or the potato growers, but they are just part of the same dangerous cult as most of the rest of us – the Cult of More.

We have a soil problem, but it’s also a soul problem, and if we are not able to recognize the connection between the barrenness without, and that within, the hemorrhaging will continue.

Like many others I have been in a state of denial for years, choosing to believe that we would never let it get this serious. But that winter afternoon it all caught up with me, and I discovered, out of the blue, that the time for wishful thinking is over. I found myself face to face with the uncomfortable realization that we have a major crisis on our hands. And that it is a crisis of the spirit.

We sometimes flatter ourselves by imagining we are a kind and gentle people, but it’s not a description that matches our recent behaviour. Brutal fits us better. And short-sighted. And unconscious. We complain about those annoying, night-time scribblers who efface city buildings with their unwanted artwork, yet we have etched the graffiti of our wantonness deep into the flesh of the Island from one end to the other.

And it is bleeding to death.

David Weale is an Island historian, author and storyteller, the publisher of RED magazine, and a co-founder of Vision P.E.I.

"The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you." --- Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), Bohemian-Austrian writer

Here is a nice essay by poet Mo Issa that explains what this quote means to him.

Now we have seen what David Weale describes, and we can act on it -- little easy and not so easy things like to consider not purchasing industrially grown food, acknowledge that dependence on this model of agriculture is going to end one way or another, and we can prepare for the transition with good planning, and respect for the people whose livelihoods will be changed. Put the sadness and anger to good work.

March 3, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events scheduled for Tomorrow, Monday, March 4th:
PEI Referendum Information Session -- MORELL, 6:30-8:30PM
, Morell Regional High School.
This may get postponed and rescheduled, again, due to storms.

District 5 (Stratford-Mermaid) Progressive Conservative Candidate Nomination, 6:30-8PM, Stratford Town Hall. Mary Ellen McInnis is running in this slightly redrawn District. More on this District and candidate, below.
This may get postponed and rescheduled due to the storm.

(in Halifax) "Let's Talk Tidal Power: What's Happening in the Bay of Fundy?", 6-8:30PM, Halifax Central Library, 5440 Spring Garden Road.
The Nova Scotia Environmental Network and the Halifax Central Library are proud to present a panel discussion to help the public understand who is who in the tidal energy sector, the history of development, where things stand today, what is at stake, and how the future could unfold.
Moderated by Dr. Boris Worm of Dalhousie University, the panel will include tidal researchers, developers, regulators, First Nations, and fishers, bringing together a diverse set of perspectives for a balanced discussion and Q&A period.Facebook event link
Mary Ellen McInnis,
the apparent candidate for the Progressive Conservatives in District 5, ran for the Progressive Conservatives in the 2011 and 2015 provincial elections. You may remember she *tied* with Liberal and incumbent MLA J. Alan McIsaac in the last provincial election in then-District 5 (Vernon River-Stratford). A coin toss (a rather bumbling one at that) decided the winner, flipped in favour of McIsaac.

A review of the boundary changes: For the next provincial election, scheduled to be Spring 2020 according to the fixed election dates legislation, there are newly redrawn boundaries. District 2 (Georgetown-Pownal) has taken the Hazelbrook/Pownal/Lake Verde and Vernons part of former District 5, and Uigg/Kinross/Orwell have been added to District 4 (Belfast-Murray River). So District 5 is the eastern part of Stratford and goes north to Mermaid, and District 7 has been rejiggered to Morell-Donagh.
The Guardian, bought not quite two years ago with its sibling Maritimes papers by the Saltwire Network, has implemented a new "paywall" for digital readers to pay for access. It sounds like there are now two levels: some articles available free, and some listed as "premium" content. Premium includes opinion or "op-ed" pieces, which are written and sent for no cost to the paper by concerned citizens. (Of course, it appears to be part of some people's jobs to published as much as possible this way, like Sylvain Charblois on food systems and representatives of certain international watchdog groups, but most op-ed pieces are crafted by Islanders on their own time or representing local organizations.)

In this spring when P.E.I. has a probable election and referendum on voting system going on, to have public discourse suddenly costing the public is very poor social enterprise on the part of the paper.

The costs seem minimal -- $4.99 a month for access -- but the very fine print, 6point type or smaller, murmurs that taxes are extra, and after three months is $14.99/month. That's not cheap.
I have the luxury of affording a paid home-delivery subscription, something decided on when I was trying to keep up with discussion around the Plan B highway episode; it includes digital access, which I appreciate when rural home delivery just can't happen. I will continue to share and cite some opinion pieces, letters and articles related to the main concerns of the Citizens' Alliance (environmental rights and electoral reform), and probably a few other things of particular (or pecular) interest.
Supporting local journalism is paramount; supporting good journalism (nationally and internationally) is really helpful if you can. Supporting them on the syndicate's terms becomes a challenge sometimes.

The Guardian has had creaked and lurched through various paywalls before, and this one is pretty creaky. Paul MacNeill with his Graphic publications allows so many free articles per month, and a subscription to one of his papers opens all the digital cupboards. The (other) Guardian (U.K.) offers as much free as possible, and it and others request those who can afford to pay to do so, to allow them to offer as much content as they can to anyone who is interested in reading and viewing. The National Observer and others have a quota of free articles, and offer sales during the year for digital subscriptions. They are accepting that ads aren't covering the costs, but allowing much more free content. I hope Saltwire reviews this scheme before it causes reader loss, which would of course affect their profits.
from the Wonder Quote-a-day calendar:

"Dreams and reality are opposites. Action synthesizes them."
---Assata Shakur

An intriguing quote from a complicated person in recent American history, currently a fugitive living in Cuba. Wikipedia article link

March 2, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets are open:
Summerside: 9AM-1PM
Charlottetown: 9AM-2PM
George's in Bedeque: 10AM-2PM

Snoga (Yoga outside in the snow) in the Park, 11:30AM
, Connaught Square, free.
Dress for being outside.Facebook event link
Rescheduled 2019 Winter River Snowshoe Event, 10AM.
(edited from event listing) Meeting at Trail head at the end of the East Suffolk Road. Facebook event link

SEA's (Southeast Environmental Association)'s 3rd Annual Winter Frolic Fundraiser, 11AM-2PM.
Harvey Moore Wildlife Sanctuary. Sleigh rides, displays, snowshoes, warming area, etc. Admission. Facebook event link

Seedy Saturday-MONTAGUE, Exchange 1-2PM, Workshop 2-3PM. Montague Rotary Library.
"We will have seed packets from local gardeners available but if you do have some seed to share please bring it along! High quality local seed will also be for sale from PEI Seed Alliance." All welcome.
Comments on The Guardian's new "Paywall" tomorrow. Here is an opinion piece from yesterday's paper, now labeled as "Premium Content":

OPINION: MMP fits our multi-party environment - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Hans Connor

Published on Friday, March 1st, 2019 

Judging from their Facebook activity, many MMP (mixed member proportional) "No" supporters are entrepreneurs, politicians and party insiders who advocate forward-thinking in business but are "stuck in the mud" when it comes to democratic progress.

It is ironic that the "No" side is suggesting that party insiders will control politics under an MMP system when this is a major complaint about our current FPTP (first-past-the-post) system. Didn't we hear rumours about PC Party "backroom boys" undermining various leaders over the years? That occurred under FPTP. Don't we hear rumours of the Liberal government being tightly controlled by "the fifth floor?"

That is occurring under FPTP. Following the 2005 Commission on P.E.I.’s Electoral Future, I advocated for change within the current FPTP system, but some parties have resisted this. One example is the is the fixed election date. To his credit, (former) Premier Robert Ghiz implemented fixed election dates and followed the legislation, but unfortunately, the legislation provides governments a lot of wiggle room in actually adhering to the fixed election date provisions. This effectively renders useless a simple reform that many people thought would improve our current system. This is an example of a reform that governments have failed to follow through on out of their own self-interest. This is not a flaw of MMP but rather evidence of poisonous culture within certain existing political parties.

It is true that we have had first-past-the-post since at least the time of Confederation. It has served us as well as possible given the structure of government and the technology of the past, and change should not be taken lightly. But the historical geographic ridings arose when we had a two-party system and an adversarial structure (government vs. opposition) in our legislature.

FPTP fits a two-party framework, but in the 21st century in P.E.I., we have a four-party system. Our system needs to evolve to reflect the changing political landscape. MMP is a better fit in our multi-party environment. We must also consider that our system has evolved throughout Island history in response to changes in democratic values. Many voters will remember that P.E.I. used to have a "councillor" and an "assemblyman" elected in every district. Still, others may remember when there were five districts in each of the three Island counties and having an electoral district that crossed county lines would have been considered heresy. Once there were 15 ridings and then an extra was added in Charlottetown. Our system was deliberately altered several times to provide for better representation, ultimately leading to us from county-based dual ridings to our current 27 single member plurality districts.

(Change) for better has happened* before and will continue to happen. Technology now enables us to measure voting preferences in ways that were impossible at the time of Confederation. Geographic restriction was a necessary aspect of representational democracy in the past in large part because it was the only way to count ballots and relay useful information in a credible and timely manner. Now, we are routinely subjected to telephone polling that provides Island-wide information, and we can watch provincial election results stream instantly through the internet. Current technology allows us to see popular vote on an Island-wide basis in a four-party system; we have the data but the antiquated geography of our electoral boundaries don't allow us to meaningfully process that information. Unlike 100 years ago, we can now measure proportionality and routinely do so; armed with this knowledge, therefore, we need to update our electoral system.

It also bears repeating that the proposal is a mixed member proportional system; 18 single member plurality districts remain. We are changing half the system, which is exactly what the term "mixed" implies. The advantage of MMP is that it preserves the geographic values of the old system and mixes it with proportionality. It rewards parties with representation according to popular vote, preventing massive swings in majorities that have occurred in the past (1989 and 2000), allowing for credible opposition and featuring a greater variety of voices in the House.

Hans Connor is a lawyer in Charlottetown and formerly served on the 2005 Commission on P.E.I.'s Electoral Future.

Strangely, the word "Change" was omitted from my premium online version of the op-ed piece -- I had to find the print copy to insert the missing word.-- CO

Not that you have to buy new stuff to carry or eat your stuff, but the idea about alternatives to single-use items.....from 1millionwomen and MoreClayLessPlastic
Quote: "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

March 1, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Beans, Bread and Roses, 5-7PM
, Haviland Club, 2 Haviland Street, Charlottetown. "In Celebration of International Women's Day, the NDP PEI Women's Committee are hosting a fun and yummy happy hour ...Homemade beans and biscuits $10. Cash bar.
This is a multi- partisan event.
Join us and let's celebrate women!"
Facebook event link

Saturday, March 2nd:
Rescheduled 2019 Winter River Snowshoe Event, 10AM
(edited from event listing) Meeting at Trail head at the end of the East Suffolk Road. The trail leads to a cabin for a break with chili, cookies, and hot chocolate. People can choose a shorter route or longer one. Bring your own snowshoes. If you are bringing a dog, please keep it on a leash. More details about this trail system available at
SEA's (Southeast Environmental Association)'s 3rd Annual Winter Frolic Fundraiser, 11AM-2PM.
Harvey Moore Wildlife Sanctuary. Sliegh rides, displays, snowshoes, warming area, etc. Admission charged: Adult - $12, Under 12 - $7, and Family - $35, etc. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Candidates for Progressive Conservative Party of PEI Meetings (adapted from the Party's press release yesterday):

District 7 (Morell-Donagh) MLA Sidney MacEwen was nominated Tuesday, February 26th (congratulations, Sidney)..
Upcoming Nominations meetings:

Monday, March 4th:  District 5 (Morell-Stratford)
Tuesday, March 5th:  District 3 (Montague-Kilmuir)
Monday, March 11th: District 14 (Charlottetown-West Royalty)
Thursday, March 25th: District 26 (Alberton-Bloomfield)

To date, nine candidates have been nominated to run in the next election. Along with MacEwen, PC candidates for the next provincial election are:
District 2 (Georgetown-Pownal), MLA Steven Myers;
District 4 (Belfast-Murray River), MLA Darlene Compton;
District 9 (Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park) Sarah Stewart-Clark;
District 17 (New Haven-Rocky Point), Kris Currie;
District 18 (Rustico-Emerald), MLA Brad Trivers;
District 19 (Borden-Kinkora), MLA Jamie Fox;
District 20 (Kensington-Malpeque), MLA Matthew MacKay; and
District 23 (Tyne Valley- Sherbrooke), Hilton MacLennan.

1, 6, 8, 10, 12,13, 15, 16, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27 do not have either declared candidates for the PC Party yet, if my reckoning is correct.
Don Mazer's op-ed, asking all Party's leaders to clarify how the Party list will be drawn up, was published in The Guardian earlier this week.
The "vote no" side has seized it and is chortling that Don's questions validate the horrors of MMP and people are better off with what they "know". But that's just some fear-mongering; Don's message is that all Party leaders should be clarifying how lists are drawn. We will help promote their answers on our website and social media pages. Of course, Parties already have policies for how they pick District candidates, so this really isn't a big issue.

It's not on the Guardian website,that I could find, but here is a version sent to me:

Parties need to tell us how they would select list candidates.

To: Peter Bevan-Baker, Green Party leader
Joe Byrne, NDP leader
Dennis King, PC party leader
Wade MacLauchlan, Liberal party leader

For the forthcoming referendum on electoral reform to  be a successful and democratic process,  all possible steps need to be taken to help voters to be as fully informed as possible in choosing between the Mixed Member Proportional option (MMP) and First Past the Post (FPTP).  We can recall that a key reason given by the government for rejecting the success of the MMP  in the plebiscite of 2015, was that voters didn’t really understand the options. There were too many, they were unclear, and people might have chosen not to vote given this confusion. And not enough people voted, Government said. What did the “silent majority” think?

With the referendum, there is a clear question. Voters can say No or Yes to MMP as our electoral system. Unlike the plebiscite, where there were no criteria of a ‘successful’ vote, there are clearly stated thresholds of whether MMP will be selected: a majority of voters across PEI, and a majority vote in 60% of the electoral districts. And holding the referendum at the time of the provincial election should assure far greater voter participation.

Certainly the Referendum Commissioner will do all he can to educate and clarify referendum issues, and the proponent groups will do their work , but the political parties have an essential role and responsibility in this educational process, regardless of whether they support the electoral change to MMP or not.

For voters to make a clear and informed choice, they must “k(no)w what they’re voting for”, to borrow from the clever slogan of a group opposing MMP.

We know that If MMP becomes our electoral format, each party can present a list of 9 candidates and that all Islanders can vote for any of these candidates. But we don’t know how each party will choose these list candidates.  And there seems to be a great deal of apprehension and concern about this question. People are worried about decisions made in the back room by the power brokers, parties having too much say about the candidates listed, less say for rural voters, etc.   As far as the list candidates selection process, voters don’t know what they would be voting for when they make their decision to support or reject MMP. This lack of clear information could be a central issue, a real barrier, in whether citizens would consider supporting MMP in the referendum.

 We would hope that all parties agree that it would be a failure of our democratic process  if citizens’ apprehension or lack of knowledge influenced the referendum outcome, when clear steps could be taken by the political parties and their leaders to address these concerns.  We believe that  each party and their leader have a special responsibility to develop a clear statement about how they would determine and select their list candidates. Voters need to know very clearly what the process would be that the party would use in selecting their candidates. How are these candidates nominated? Who votes to select them?   Will attempts  be made to ‘balance’  party lists to assure that different interests/perspectives are represented on the list (e.g. rural/urban, women/men/other identities, youth, other diversities, etc)? 

Citizens need to know what we’re voting for if we are to have a decisive outcome that reflects the public will. We call on each of the parties and their leaders to make as clear and transparent a statement of their principles or policy as possible on how they will select their MMP list candidates.

Don Mazer is on the Board of  Citizens’ Alliance, a non-partisan organization promoting electoral reform and environmental rights. He lives in Suffolk.

Looking forward to the discussion!

The Last Electoral District is District 27:  Tignish-Palmer Road.  This is the most northwesternly part of the Island. 

There are turbines and dairy farms and outcroppings in the shape of pachyderms.
Communities include:
Norway, Tignish, Kildare Capes
Saints:  Roch, Peter and Paul, Louis, Lawrence,
Miminegash, Ponds (Skinners and Nails)
With Christopher Cross north of Tignish and Palmer Road to the west.
Peterville, Leoville and Harper are there, too.
Here is what the former boundaries were:

Here is the link to the new maps from Elections PEI:

New map showing off polls!

Brad Trivers' map:

Hal Perry, first elected as a Progressive Conservative, is the Liberal MLA and backbencher for the District.
Sean Doyle is offering for the Green Party.
"There is noting more truly artistic than to love people."
---Vincent van Gogh