CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

May 2016

Contents

  1. 1 May 31, 2016
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 1.2 Water too crucial to be up for sale - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  2. 2 May 30, 2016
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  3. 3 May 29, 2016
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 3.2 Fossil water, fossil aquifers - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  4. 4 May 28, 2016
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  5. 5 May 27, 2016
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 5.2 South Granville residents losing hope on power lines decision - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Julie Corbett
  6. 6 May 26, 2016
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  7. 7 May 25, 2016
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  8. 8 May 24, 2016
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 8.2 The Sand Mines That Ruin Farmland - The New York Times opinion piece by Nancy C. Loeb
  9. 9 May 23, 2016
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 9.2 Elon Musk: 'We need a revolt against the fossil fuel industry' - The Guardian (UK) article
  10. 10 May 22, 2016
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  11. 11 May 21, 2016
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  12. 12 May 20, 2016
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 12.2 Using water for common good - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Weale
  13. 13 May 19, 2016
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 13.2 Spring sitting of P.E.I. legislature closes Friday after 23-days - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
  14. 14 May 18, 2016
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 14.2 Signs of Change Are Sweeping the Nation - The Huffington Post article by David Suzuki
  15. 15 May 17, 2016
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  16. 16 May 16, 2016
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  17. 17 May 15, 2016
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 17.2 Box stores and the death of local retail business - The Eastern Graphic column "Thinking About It" by Allan Rankin
  18. 18 May 14, 2016
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 18.2 EXPERT OPINION: It is a myth that P.E.I. is short of water - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Rory Francis
  19. 19 May 13, 2016
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  20. 20 May 12, 2016
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 20.2 Proportional representation will save us from more Plan ‘B’ highways - The West Prince Graphic Letter to the Editor
  21. 21 May 11, 2016
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 21.2 Proportional Representation Action Team working toward electoral reform - The Journal Pioneer article by Ancelene MacKinnon
  22. 22 May 10, 2016
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 22.2 Minister makes all decisions - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  23. 23 May 9, 2016
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  24. 24 May 8, 2016
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 24.2 Making the Most of Mother's Day - The Guardian article by Margaret Prowse
  25. 25 May 7, 2016
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 25.2 Save P.E.I.’s bees - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Stan Sandler
  26. 26 May 6, 2016
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 26.2 Mars at Its Best Since 2005 - The Guardian article by Glenn K. Roberts
  27. 27 Also, watch for the Eta Aquarids, peaking in the pre-dawn skies of May 5, 6
  28. 28 May 5, 2016
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  29. 29 May 4, 2016
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
  30. 30 May 3, 2016
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 30.2 P.E.I. government politicizing community hospital foundations - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Alan E. MacPhee
  31. 31 May 2, 2016
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News
    2. 31.2 Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  32. 32 May 1, 2016
    1. 32.1 Chris Ortenburger's CA News

May 31, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today, Tuesday, May 31st:
Tree and Shrub Planting, 10AM to 3PM,
Confederation Forest, Fernwood, with Macphail Woods people.  More details here.

Provincial Energy Strategy (PES) public consultation, Summerside, 6-8PM, Holland College Waterfront Campus, Rooms 204-205.
More details from their website, here.
You can also provide input on the PES **and the timeline of public consultation**, too.
(Tomorrow, Charlottetown's only meeting Thursday is the last meeting and in Montague)

Island Trails AGM, Hike at Bonshaw Provincial Park, 6PM; Meeting at Bonshaw Community Centre, 7PM.  Brian Thompson, from the Department of Transportation, will be the guest speaker and provide an update on the plans for the expanded park trail and playground.  (He spoke last week at a public meeting and was very good at getting the highlights and details across.)  All welcome.
----------
Blue Dot (Right to a Healthy Environment) Canada News:
Last week, the city of Ottawa passed a declaration recognizing its residents' right to a healthy environment.
In May, both Nova Scotia and British Columbia both introduced to Environmental Rights legislation in the provincial legislatures.
More information about Nova Scotia's initiative from the organization EcoJustice, here.
This is very good news.


From clever letter-writer F. Ben Rodgers:
published on Monday, May 30th, 2016, in The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-05-30/article-4543951/Water-too-crucial-to-be-up-for-sale/1

Water too crucial to be up for sale - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

If we are depending on the Liberal government or Conservative opposition to save the Island water table, we are in real trouble. We have a most dangerous situation happening here on P.E.I. It is time Islanders woke up and demanded action.

Not so long ago the Irving Corp. demanded deep-water wells for their potato crops. If they didn't get them they'd pack up and go elsewhere. Quite a threat, particularly to the hundreds of islanders employed by this greedy corporation. It seems the threat didn't work; no deep-water wells were approved.

So next step, let’s ply these politicians with a big carrot. We will donate $15,000 to each party, the Liberals and the Conservatives that should do the trick right. The funny thing is they didn't mention the Green party. I suppose they assumed either the Greens were no threat or maybe couldn't be bought.

Water is more precious than gold, it is the lifeblood of the Island, indeed the lifeblood of the world. It should not be for sale at any price. These island politicians are surely intelligent enough to understand this, if we lose our water, no amount of donations will bring it back.

It is time for the Green Party to stand up in rage, rock the boat, shout and scream and demand better from both Liberals and Conservatives. Embarrass the hell out of them and stop this madness now before its too late.

F. Ben Rodgers,
Abram Village
-----------------
And to add a side chapter to the story, as you know, one of the men testifying to the Standing Committee demanding the wells two years ago, former Cavendish Farms executive Blaine MacPherson, was recently appointed to the Health P.E.I. Board.
(The link is to his biography from the Board's website.)

May 30, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The meetings for public consultation on a proposed P.E.I. Energy Strategy are this week.  At this point, this week and this week only.
Tonight: Elmsdale (Westisle Composite High School)
Tuesday, May 31st: Summerside (Holland College Waterfront, Rooms 204-205)
Wednesday, June 1st: Charlottetown (Murchison Centre, Pius X Ave.)
Thursday, June 2nd: Montague (Cavendish Wellness Centre)

All of these meetings go from 6-8PMMore details and maps.
The 126 page draft report from Quebec-based Dunsky (and the seven page summary) are here.

So if you are in any of these areas, and not fishing or farming, or otherwise busy, and can grab your supper and get there for 6PM, please do. 

Public comments will be accepted until June 10th.  They ask for the comments to be 200 words or fewer, but you can submit more that one comment, it appears.

(As an aside, this Energy Strategy is supposed to go hand-in-hand with a new Climate Change Mitigation Strategy, but I haven't heard anything about this for the public.  Information on the Climate Change page the government website was last update in February of 2014.)

There doesn't seem to be any article in today's Guardian about the meetings, or about the draft strategy, which was released last Wednesday evening. Our energy and climate change plans are important, as are our water act discussions, yet the outreach to the public is vapid.

If you feel this process is rushed, you can contact Energy Minister Paula Biggar at <pjbiggar@gov.pe.ca> and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell at <rjmitchell@gov.pe.ca> and tell them so. 

------------------
"That's the thing about Mother Nature, she really doesn't care what economic bracket you're in." -- comedian Whoopi Goldberg

May 29, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Herb Day is today at the Farm Centre from 10AM to 4PM.  A lot going on the whole day.
Facebook Event Details
----------------
Yesterday's Guardian had an intelligent, approachable letter from Tony Lloyd of Mount Stewart on water, and a surprising editorial on GMO labeling.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-05-28/article-4541941/Fossil-water%2C-fossil-aquifers/1

Fossil water, fossil aquifers - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on May 28th, 2016

A professor from Stanford was on the radio last week talking about food security and climate change. He said that in the next 100 years global temperatures could increase four degrees Celsius while Canadian and United States populations triple. The professor painted a bright picture for the future of Canadian agriculture and a dark picture for food security in the United States.

The Earth Policy Institute lists 18 countries which were over-pumping their aquifers in 2012 of which I list five: China, India, United States, Mexico, Saudi Arabia. When you over-pump an aquifer you alter the energy and water balance in the earth, create the illusion of food security, and create a water-based 'food bubble'.

Here's a 'bubble' bursting. During the OPEC oil embargo in the 1970s Saudi Arabia realized they were vulnerable to a grain counter-embargo; hence the Saudis drilled into fossil water aquifers below the desert and rapidly became self-sufficient in irrigated wheat. Fossil water aquifers are not recharged by any source nor do they discharge into bubbling springs or submarine groundwater discharges.

In January 2008 the Saudis announced that they would be phasing out wheat production as their aquifers were depleted and their last wheat harvest would be in 2016.

I know as a fact that P.E.I. has fossil water. I suspect that in the network of P.E.I.'s multi-aquifer system that many of the aquifers are fossil water. Drilling into fossil water aquifers is a biological extinction event - buried treasure indeed.

Tony Lloyd,
Mount Stewart

Guardian lead editorial, Saturday, May 28th, 2016 (for some reason not available digitally, so screenshots will have to do):

GMO Salmon Must Be Labeled

May 28, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside and Charlottetown, but I don't know if the Farmers' Market and Delights at the Farm Centre is open (originally, it was to be the first and last Saturdays of the month; Facebook page talks about June 4th). You may want to check this page any announcement:
https://www.facebook.com/Farmers-Market-Delights-233812260285599/

In the next month, many of the other farmers' markets will be opening!


There is much going on tomorrow, Sunday, May 29th, and this is at the Farm Centre (sewer project construction on University Avenue should be on hold for the weekend):

Herb Day, 10AM-4PM, Farm Centre, workshops, items and food for sale, free admission.
sponsored by the PEI Food Exchange with help from the Farm Centre.
Facebook event details

Also Sunday, in my neck of the woods:
Sunday, May 29th:
Concert: "Yours Truly, Ludwig" with Atlantic String Machine and actor Cameron MacDuffee, 2:30PM, Bites Cafe, Hampton (19566 TCH), $20 adults, $12 students, free for children under 12.

"The South Shore Arts Council is presenting the Atlantic String Machine (ASM) together with actor Cameron MacDuffee in a unique performance that combines music with readings from the personal letters of composers from Beethoven to John Lennon.  Cameron is a member of the acting company at The Charlottetown Festival, and (has had) leading roles in recent theatre productions John Deere in Dear Johnny Deere, and Stompin' Tom Connors in The Ballad of Stompin' Tom at the Harbourfront Theatre.  This is a family-friendly performance and the South Shore Arts Council is pleased to be able to offer this concert at a special ticket price. Tickets available at the door or call (902) 394-2579 or e-mail <info@atlanticstringmachine.com> " <edited from:>
Facebook event details


Sunday, May 29th:
Bonshaw Hall Monthly Ceilidh, 7-9PM, Bonshaw Hall.  Admission by donation and proceeds to PEI Parkinson Society.

"Performers include special guests: The Rubbish Butterflies, stepdancers Olivia Bruce and Molly MacEwen from Havenwood Dance Studio, fiddler Megan Cunningham with Stephanie Ross, and singer/songwriter Gary Torlone, plus local musicians Herb MacDonald, Phil Pineau, and Tony the Troubador.   There will be a 50/50 draw, delicious lunch, and open stage time. Admission is by donation with proceeds going to PEI Parkinson Society. All ages welcome; accessible for smaller wheelchairs. For more information phone 675-4093."


Article:  Feeding Humanity in a Warming World
published on-line about May 24th, 2016
at the David Suzuki Foundation website (if links don't work in this e-mail, please go to the website link above)
by David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

Calculating farming's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is difficult, but experts agree that feeding the world's people has tremendous climate and environmental impacts. Estimates of global emissions from farms range widely. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts them at 24 per cent, including deforestation, making agriculture the second-largest emitter after heat and electricity.

Agriculture contributes to global warming in a number of ways. Methane and nitrous oxide, which are more potent than CO2 but remain in the atmosphere for shorter times, make up about 65 per cent of agricultural emissions. Methane comes mainly from cattle and nitrous oxide from fertilizers and wastes. According to the World Resources Institute, "Smaller sources include manure management, rice cultivation, field burning of crop residues, and fuel use on farms." Net emissions are also created when forests and wetlands are cleared for farming, as these "carbon sinks" usually absorb and store more carbon than the farms that replace them. Transporting and processing agricultural products also contribute to global warming.

We need to eat. So what's the answer? That obesity is epidemic in parts of the world while people starve elsewhere, and that an estimated one-third of food gets wasted, shows improving distribution and reducing waste are good places to start — but won't be enough to significantly curtail agriculture's contribution to climate change.

Reducing meat and animal-product consumption and production — especially beef — would cut emissions, but wouldn't get us all the way.

Some suggest finding better ways to feed as many as nine billion people by 2050 means rethinking our agricultural systems. Industrial agriculture has made it possible to produce large amounts of food efficiently, but comes with problems, including pollution, reduced biodiversity, pesticide resistance and consequent increased chemical use, destruction of forests and wetlands, and human health issues such as antibiotic resistance. Soil loss and degradation, increased drought and flooding and changing growing patterns caused by climate change add to the complexity.

Some say the best fix is genetic modification — to produce more nutritious plants that can withstand pests and a changing climate. Others note that when humans try to improve on or override nature, the outcome is often not what was expected. And a U.S. National Academies of Science report concludes, "GMO crops have not, to date, increased actual yields." Failing to recognize that everything in nature is interconnected has led to numerous unintended consequences, from DDT causing bird deaths and toxic buildup in the food chain to widespread antibiotic use facilitating the evolution of "superbugs".

The growing field of agroecology — working with nature — is one solution. Many researchers argue it's more efficient, less environmentally damaging and more equitable for farmers and local communities than industrial methods and GMOs.

The goal, writes University of California-Berkeley agroecology professor Miguel Altieri, "is to design an agroecosystem that mimics the structure and function of local natural ecosystems; that is, a system with high species diversity and a biologically active soil, one that promotes natural pest control, nutrient recycling and high soil cover to prevent resource losses."

A study by the Rodale Institute, a research organization devoted to organic farming, concluded global adoption of agroecological practices such as "cover crops, compost, crop rotation and reduced tillage" could "sequester more carbon than is currently emitted."

About 40 per cent of Earth's land surface is used for agriculture, entailing massive geophysical alteration, so working with nature as much as possible to maintain or restore balance to natural systems makes sense. Agroecology appears to be a better way to feed humanity than doubling down on industrial agricultural, from many angles: reducing pollution and chemical use, enhancing rather than degrading soils, increasing biodiversity, protecting water, growing healthier food and creating more equitable food systems.

In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein quotes former UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter: "Today's scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live — especially in unfavourable environments." He further notes, "agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80% in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116% for all African projects."

We are part of nature, so harming it hurts us. The planet provides resources to feed us. We must learn to use them sustainably.

May 27, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Health P.E.I. inducted four new board members to its eleven person board recently.  In addition to the former Dean of Nursing at UPEI (Rosemary Herbert), and businesswoman (and injury prevention expert according to her website) Sally Lockhart,  two new members are joining the board:
Warren Ellis, former potato farmer in Western PEI, and businessman
Blaine MacPherson, former Cavendish Farms vice-president
from the article in today's Guardian:
"Applicants were screened and prospective candidates were then interviewed before the board made a recommendation to the minister of health and wellness for final approval."

It is interesting how can Health P.E.I. be considered "arm's length" from the Department of Health and Wellness (as was originally said to support its creation) if the board members are approved by the Minister of Health.

Mr. MacPherson was with Robert Irving speaking before the(then) Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry two years ago, demanding that government lift the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture.  Mr. Ellis, who has an extensive charity record, was fined for actions related to fish kills in Trout River and Barclay Brook in 2011.(CBC story link)
Here is the Health P.E.I. press release
from their website.


The Millvale and area residents continue to want to be informed where a new substation and related transmission lines are planning on being placed by electric utility Maritime Electric.

Here is a letter by local resident Julie Corbett that was in yesterday's Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-05-26/article-4540459/South-Granville-residents-losing-hope-on-power-lines-decision/1

South Granville residents losing hope on power lines decision - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Julie Corbett

Published on Thursday, May 26th, 2016

I live on the Smith Road in South Granville with my husband and three children who range from ages 2 1/2 to 8 ½ years. My husband and his uncle built our forever home themselves for our family 12 years ago near the farm that has been in his family for many years.

My husband and I were both raised on a farm and appreciate the simple things in life. We are trying our best to raise our children that way and to appreciate the environment around them and all that it provides. My husband currently farms as well as working full time. We also raise our own chickens and grow our own garden to provide as much locally grown food that we can where we know where it comes from. We try our best to teach our children to support local and to take care of our environment so they will take responsibility for their own health and space they live in the future.

We also encourage good old-fashioned play - outside in the fresh air, in their treehouse, helping in the garden, swinging on swings.

I am wondering now if there is any point in instilling these values in our children when all of a sudden their safety and health could be jeopardized by having high voltage power lines installed about 30 feet from where they sleep and 20 feet from where they like to play ball hockey in the yard.

After hearing about these lines going right by our house, our oldest son was crying one night since he was scared that they wouldn’t be able to play outside anymore if they were to go ahead. I honestly do not have an answer for him. I do know that as parents to three small children, we would do anything to protect our family and we not sure what we will do if they are installed, we will not be comfortable living in our home any longer if the power lines go down this road. We cannot sit around waiting to see if there really are harmful side effects, we would not be able to live with ourselves if anything were to happen. Where do we go and who would want to buy our house with those lines so close?

I personally cannot believe in this day and age that something like this can be allowed to happen so close to someone’s home. There needs to be more regulations when it comes to installing these high power lines so Maritime Electric doesn’t make their own rules. We have never felt so helpless.

My husband sits on the committee that is dealing directly with the Maritime Electric representatives so we have been keeping well informed. However I have been optimistic up until recently that this would not be allowed to happen. Now that it is coming down to crunch time for Maritime Electric to make a decision, I have definitely lost all hope. I am not a protester, I can barely have a conversation about this topic without choking up, so this is my one chance to have my voice heard as a mother who is looking to protect her family as best as she can.

- Julie Corbett is a longtime resident of the Smith Road in South Granville. She sent this letter to the Premier, various government officials and Maritime Electric.

May 26, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Yesterday, at the end of the day, the P.E.I. Energy Corporation released its draft provincial strategy.  It is 126 pages long and final comments on it must be received by Friday, June 10th.

The public meetings are next week, Monday through Thursday, May 30th to June 2nd.

Both the Draft Strategy and a summary of "action items" of seven pages is available on the website, here:
http://www.peiec.ca/background-material.html

I appreciate the need to keep this moving along, but it's a lot of information to digest in a couple of weeks. More comments forthcoming.
-------------
Last night was an update on the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Subcommittee presentation on what's happening in the park and management plans.  It was a good summary and also good that the subcommittee initiated this meeting.  Not too many people attended, but it was a nice night outside.
Here are some park notes, errors are mine:

  • There is $133,000 set aside for the park expansion in this year's provincial budget.  It sounds like that has to cover the costs of the park sign and development company from Fredericton, New Brunswick, (The Glenn Group), the fabrication of the improved signage, the trail development (trails are for hiking and mountain biking, most of which are usable now), a milled asphalt road and parking lot for 20 vehicles (which I pointed out is probably too small, considering most mountain bikers come by themselves due to carrying a bicycle on their car, but there will be parking at other connection points like Strathgartney to park at).
  • It also has to cover the cost of building and installing the playground, which is a very beautiful, extensive set of plans.  Co-chair Brian Thompson from the Department of Transportation mentioned that they may not be able to do everything on the plans this year. 
  • The playground is a mix of natural material climbing and play structures (like "Wacky Poles" and a "Hobbit House" and little hill mounds to mimic river currents (there were a few smiles and I am not sure if the planners know about the Hills of Borden), and some "traditional" pieces like swings and slides.  They are trying to make sure as much of it is accessible for wheelchairs as possible. The designers have names a place or two in the playground after local elements (like the old Crosby Mill and such)
  • Construction on the access, parking and playground is to start in a couple of weeks, and take 4-6 weeks.  They know parking will be cut off for mountain bikers and hikers for a while but hope to minimize it.
  • They also hope to connect the Bonshaw Provincial Park more easily with Strathgartney Park (already there is a walkway/bicycle-way under the bridge at the highway) by better paths on the Bonshaw side, and they have obtained the strip of land so you can go from the Bonshaw side to the Goat Trail part to get into Strathgartney Park.
  • They may invite the public to come help in summer with a day of tree-planting and such, which would be a good time for local people and folks associated with the trail groups, ecological organizations, etc. to come help, too.

There are more details, and people interested in hearing about the trials can go to the Bonshaw Community Centre next Tuesday evening for the Island Trails AGM.

May 25, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events tonight and next week:
Tonight:
Bonshaw Park area recreation and management plans public information meeting, 7PM,
Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road. All welcome.
There is nothing on the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee website about the meeting, but the Final Management Plan document is on the home page.

Tuesday, May 31st:
Native tree and shrub planting, Confederation Forest (Fernwood), 10AM-3PM,

Help the Macphail Woods Ecological Project plant native species in the Confederation Forest at Seacow Cliffs Natural Area.
http://macphailwoods.org/event/fernwood-confederation-forest-planting-2016/

The Energy Strategy Public Consultations are scheduled to take place next week:
These are all 6-8PM,at the following dates and locations:
Monday, May 30th, Elmsdale (Westisle High School)
Tuesday, May 31st, Summerside (Holland College Waterfront Campus, Rooms 204-205)
Wednesday, June 1st, Charlottetown, Murchison Place (off St. Peter's Road on Pius X Avenue)
Thursday, June 2nd, Montague, Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre, (off Rte, 4 on Sullivan Drive)

However, the actual strategy from Dunsky Consulting to comment on was supposed to be available a week before the meetings, and it does not appear to be on the website yet, but there are older documents.
http://www.peiec.ca/
------------
Here is an excerpt from an article titled "How to Scale Up Renewables in 10 Steps: A Quick Guide for Policymakers":

"To realise the aspirations of the Paris Agreement, much will depend on whether governments of both developed and developing countries will put their money where their mouth is in the coming five years. The 'rachet mechanisms' in the Paris Agreement, sometimes referred to as the ‘ambition mechanism’, commits each country to submitting targets on a five-year cyclical basis, each of which must be progressively more ambitious than the last. This increase of ambition is set to begin in 2018, when countries will take stock of their collective efforts in relation to the long-term goals of the agreement and to inform the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The Paris Agreement is just a start."

The article is here:
http://www.theenergycollective.com/energy-post/2376892/how-to-scale-up-renewables-in-10-steps-a-quick-guide-for-policymakers

May 24, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A few upcoming events:
Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 25th:
Meeting about park trail and land management plans around the Bonshaw Provincial Park, 7PM
, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road.
--------------------
Sunday, May 29th:
Herb Fair at the Farm Centre, 10AM-4PM,
Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, free but items and food for sale.
Transplants for sale, workshops, seed sale and seed exchange, marketplace. Coordinated by the PEI Food Exchange.
Facebook event details here
--------------
In case you are able to be in New Brunswick this week:
from Brad Walters at Mount Allison University:
Tuesday, May 24th - Friday, May 27th:
Council of Canadians' Southern New Brunswick Tour: ENERGY EAST:  OUR RISK.  THEIR REWARD.

This week there are 4 Energy East community town hall meetings in southern New Brunswick. The purpose of these meetings is to answer questions that residents and affected landowers have about the risks and impacts of this proposed pipeline route.

- CHIPMAN, Tuesday, May 24th,7pm (Chipman Fish and Game Club, 66 Hillcrest Avenue, Chipman)

- BELLEISLE, Wednesday, May 25th,7pm (Belleisle Community Centre, 1648 Rte 124, Springfield)

- HAMPTON, Thursday, May 26th,7pm (Lighthouse River Centre, 1075 Main Street, Hampton)

- SAINT JOHN, Friday, May 27th, 7pm (Portland United Church, 50 Newport Crescent, Saint John)

Guest speakers include:
Ben Gotschall,
Agriculture and Food Director with Bold Nebraska, on the successful efforts of Nebraskan landowners to defend their rights, land and water from TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.
Mark D’Arcy of the Council of Canadians on TransCanada’s Canadian pipeline safety track record, diluted bitumen spills, New Brunswick waterways, and how you can help stop Energy East.
Alma Brooks of the Peace and Friendship Alliance on how this growing alliance is bringing together Indigenous peoples and New Brunswick residents to protect land and water for future generations.


For more information about the tour visit http://canadians.org/energyeast-nb-tour


If all the other concerns about hydraulic fracturing weren't enough, here is an excerpt from an article about the destruction of decent farm land for the mining of sand (silica) for fracking operations. Thanks to Brad again and others for sending this.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/23/opinion/the-sand-mines-that-ruin-farmland.html?emc=edit_th_20160523&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=42795222&_r=0

The Sand Mines That Ruin Farmland - The New York Times opinion piece by Nancy C. Loeb

Published on Monday, May 23rd, 2016
Nancy C. Loeb, director of the Environmental Advocacy Center, is an assistant clinical professor at Northwestern University's Pritsker School of Law (Chicago, Illinois)

While the shale gas industry has been depressed in recent years by low oil and gas prices, analysts are predicting that it will soon rebound. Many of the environmental hazards of the gas extraction process, called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, are by now familiar: contaminated drinking water, oil spills and methane gas leaks, exploding rail cars and earthquakes.

A less well-known effect is the destruction of large areas of Midwestern farmland resulting from one of fracking’s key ingredients: sand.

Fracking involves pumping vast quantities of water and chemicals into rock formations under high pressure, but the mix injected into wells also includes huge amounts of "frac sand."  The sand is used to keep the fissures in the rock open — acting as what drilling engineers call a "proppant" — so that the locked-in oil and gas can escape.

Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota are home to some of the richest agricultural land anywhere in the world. But this fertile, naturally irrigated farmland sits atop another resource that has become more highly prized: a deposit of fine silica sand known as St. Peter sandstone. This particular sand is valued by the fracking industry for its high silica content, round grains, uniform grain size and strength. These qualities enable the St. Peter sand to withstand the intensity of fracking, and improve the efficiency of drilling operations.

In the Upper Midwest, this sandstone deposit lies just below the surface. It runs wide but not deep. This makes the sand easy to reach, but it also means that to extract large quantities, mines have to be dug across hundreds of acres.

At the end of 2015, there were 129 industrial sand facilities — including mines, processing plants and rail heads — operating in Wisconsin, up from just five mines and five processing plants in 2010. At the center of Illinois’s sand rush, in LaSalle County, where I am counsel to a group of farmers that is challenging one mine’s location, The Chicago Tribune found that mining companies had acquired at least 3,100 acres of prime farmland from 2005 to 2014.

In the jargon of the fracking industry, the farmland above the sand is "overburden".  Instead of growing crops that feed people, it becomes berms, walls of subsoil and topsoil piled up to 30 feet high to hide the mines.

<snip>
The rest of the article, dismaying as it is, is here at the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/23/opinion/the-sand-mines-that-ruin-farmland.html?emc=edit_th_20160523&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=42795222&_r=0
And more on Nancy Loeb and the Environmental Advocacy Center at Northwestern University, here.

May 23, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The 10th Annual Dandelion Festival is today, 10AM-3PM, Stratford Town Hall, free (but food and goods for sale).
Workshops  (and presenters)
10AM -- Cooking with Dandelions (Brian Stanton & Jeremie Arsenault)
11:30AM  -- Vegetable Fermentation & Kombucha (Amy Smith & Verena Varga)
1PM  -- Pesticide-Free Lawn & Garden Care (Cyndy MacCormac & Jamie Smith)
2:30PM  -- Healthy Personal Care and Cleaning Products (Marion Copleston)

Booths and their organizers (these may have changed since this was posted;this may not be complete):
Art work (Susan Christensen)
Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association --BBEMA (Tracy Brown)
Council of Canadians (Leo Broderick)
Earthship (Jordan Cameron)
Green with Joy - cloth diapers (Sarah Sparks)
Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada (Cindy MacNevin)
Homebrewing -PEIAlelanders (Devin Krauskopt)
Naturopath (Cassandra Goodwin)
Norwex (Glenna Ford)
PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation (Brenda Oslawsky)
PEI Food Exchange (Pauline Howard)
PEI Environmental Health Co-op (Darcie Lanthier)
Pesticide Free PEI (Maureen Kerr)
Plate It & produce for sale (Soleil Hutchinson)
Seed Saving (Josie Baker)
Sierra Club and Dizolve (Tony Reddin)
Solar Source (Todd Gaudin)
Summer Garden herbs and veg bedding plants (Joe & Gail Kern)
Sunray Holisticare (Marilyn Yap Yu )
Sunshine Gardens (Christine Leukert)
Tiny Homes (Emily Rutledge)
Watershed Improvement Group + building hummingbird feeders (Kelley Arnold)
Younique; Mineral Makeup & Skin Care Products (Shanna Farrell)
Facebook event details here.


Here is an interesting read from earlier this month (it's filled with many background links and I don't know if all of those will still work), and the topics commented on veer from fossil fuel subsidies to carbon tax to self-driving (or autonomous) vehicles to home battery storage.  And he actually says a "sort of revolt."

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/05/elon-musk-we-need-a-revolt-against-the-fossil-fuel-industry
from The (other) Guardian, May 5th, 2016

Elon Musk: 'We need a revolt against the fossil fuel industry' - The Guardian (UK) article

Tesla chief says educating the public on climate issues is essential in countering oil and gas lobby’s influence over big political decisions, reports Edie.net

Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has accused politicians of bowing to the “unrelenting and enormous” lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry, warning that a global “revolt” may be needed to accelerate the transition to more sustainable energy and transport systems.

Speaking at the World Energy Innovation Forum at the Tesla Factory in California on Wednesday, Musk claimed that traditional vehicles and energy sources will continue to hold a competitive edge against greener alternatives due to the vast amounts of subsidies they receive.

The solution to this energy dilemma, Musk says, is to introduce a price on carbon by defining a tax rate on greenhouse gas emissions or the carbon content of fossil fuels.

“The fundamental issue with fossil fuels is that every use comes with a subsidy,” Musk said. “Every gasoline car on the road has a subsidy, and the right way to address that is with a carbon tax.”

“Politicians take the easy path of providing subsidies to electric vehicles, which aren’t equal to the applied subsidies of gasoline vehicles. It weakens the economic forcing function to transition to sustainable transport and energy.”

While reiterating these calls for a robust carbon tax, Musk acknowledged that introducing the concept would be “hugely and politically difficult - especially when you have enormous lobbying power on behalf of the fossil fuel industry”. The business magnate therefore believes that educating the public on climate issues will be essential in reeling back the fossil fuel industry’s influence over big political decisions – which has already led to European climate policies being dropped over fears of a mass exodus.

“It is quite worrying, the future of the world,” he added. “We need to appeal to the people and educate them to sort of revolt against this and to fight the propaganda of the fossil fuel industry which is unrelenting and enormous.”

Despite Musk’s concerns, public demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is gathering pace and beginning to disrupt the automotive industry’s biggest players. Last month, for example, pre-orders for Tesla’s lower-priced Model 3 reached more than 276,000 within the first 24 hours of the car’s unveiling.

Musk used his time at the forum to discuss how Tesla have had an “outside effect” on the industry, which has seen EVs grow from a “stupid idea” to the hallmark of company portfolios. With EVs set to represent 35% of all car sales by 2040, Musk predicts that half of all new car productions will be fully autonomous within the next decade.

“It’s going to be common for cars to become autonomous a lot faster than people think,” Musk said. “I think that seven or eight years from now, half of all cars produced will be fully autonomous, and it would be viewed as odd if it wasn’t in a car.”

Leading EV producer Nissan has already unveiled autonomous concepts, while Swedish car manufacturer Volvo last week revealed it will be trialling its own autonomous driving system in the UK next year.

Musk’s speech came on the same day that Tesla revealed that its pioneering Powerwall domestic energy storage system had hit 2,500 sales for the first quarter of 2016.

A letter to the company’s shareholders states: “Tesla Energy posted strong growth in the quarter as well. During Q1, we delivered over 25MWh of energy storage to customers in four continents. We delivered over 2,500 Powerwalls and nearly 100 Powerpacks in the quarter throughout North America, Asia, Europe and Africa.”

The Powerwall sales – which Musk expects to surpass $500m in 2016 and 2017 – finally reached the UK this year, after SolarPlant engineers installed the first British Tesla Powerwall system at a home in Wales.

May 22, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A reminder that the deadline for submitting comments to the PEI Energy Corporation for upcoming the PEI Energy Strategy is Thursday, June 9th. They really want the comments to be short -- a couple of pages at the most -- and that actually may make it easier for anyone to write their thoughts.

There will be four public meetings the week before any final comments are due (7PM each night: Monday, May 30th, Elmsdale; Tuesday, May 31st, Summerside; Wednesday, June 1st, Ch'town; Thursday, June 2nd, Montague). Apparently, a draft strategy from the consultants will be available the week before the meetings (which should be this week).

More info on the P.E.I. Energy Corporation's website:
http://www.peiec.ca/

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

The Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy met several times since the new year, had several speakers from various backgrounds present to them about energy issues and solutions, and submitted their report to the Legislature during the Spring Sitting.  The report is only about four pages long and well worth reading.  The first recommendation is that the Island move to being 100% renewable energy by 2050.  http://www.assembly.pe.ca/sittings/2016spring/reports/21_1_2016-10-05-report.pdf

The Committee consists of chair Sonny Gallant, and members Peter Bevan-Baker, Bush Dumville, Jamie Fox, Syndey MacEwen, Pat Murphy, and Hal Perry, and Brad Trivers as substitute member.

If the above link doesn't work, you can find the report on the Committee's page, here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/committees/getCommittees.php?cnumber=21


There is a lot still be be learned by government and ministers (well, all of us, really) about energy issues.  For example, wood biomass (on P.E.I. it's used for heating, not the inefficient use for electricity generation) is often labeled carbon-neutral and sustainable, as in this excerpt statement from a recent government press release (copied below):

Burning fuel oil releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming; however, burning wood chip biomass fuel is carbon neutral, due to the capture of the carbon dioxide by the trees growing to replace the wood fibre harvested for biomass fuel.

But it takes a really long time for those trees -- if even enough are ever planted to replace what was cut -- to grow up and "capture" all that carbon dioxide.  And it that really a good use of trees?

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

In case you are tree-planting this weekend, Macphail Woods has a new video on how to plant a tree :-)  It is 7 minutes long and very sweet and helpful:
https://vimeo.com/165602952

And the current edition of the quarterly Atlantic Forestry, published by DvL Publishers and available in feed stores in Charlottetown, Summerside and Kensington, has several good articles on biomass in the Maritimes.  It is well worth getting a copy (and supports local magazines reporting on rural issues).  Details on the magazine and how to get a home subscription (but no articles) here: http://www.rurallife.ca/atlanticforestry/
The same outfit published produces the 10-issue a year Rural Delivery, an excellent, economical magazine highlighting rural life and particular issues in Atlantic region.

May 21, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open today in Charlottetown and Summerside. I don't know if there is one on-line source announcing when other markets open, but I will keep looking. 

Tomorrow, Sunday, May 22nd:
Volunteer Day at Legacy Farm Garden, 2-6PM,
Farm Centre Legacy Gardens, 420 University Avenue.

(from their event description)This will be a wonderful way to meet and get to know your fellow community gardeners. We hope to make these volunteer garden parties a regular part of our calendar throughout the season, with community plantings, 'weedings', harvests, and barbecues to come! Even if you don't have a plot in our garden, please come to help out and learn more about what our plans are for this summer.

Legacy Garden Clean-up
From 2:00 to 5:00, we will be cleaning up, laying out mulch and cardboard in the walkways, and beautifying the garden so it will be a clean and safe space for everyone to use. Volunteers are welcome and encouraged to come help out for as long as they wish. This will also be a good way to acquaint yourself with the garden and ask any questions you might have. Many hands make light work!

Potluck and Social
At 5:00, we will follow the clean-up with a potluck, so please bring a dish to share (and an instrument if you play)! We also invite photographers, videographers, writers and storytellers to get involved.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1131668876884095/


Monday, May 23rd:
Dandelion Festival, 10AM-3PM,
Stratford Town Hall, lots of displays and workshops.
Facebook event details.

Wednesday, May 25th:
Bonshaw Park Update, 7-9PM
, Bonshaw Community Centre, all welcome.
A public meeting with news about land management plans, and trail and park renovation plans, presented by the subcommittee of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee members.  Government website.

----------
There is a massive, massive recall of all sorts of frozen vegetables, combinations of vegetables and all sorts of brands.  The list is stupefying.
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm498841.htm

The produce was all processed and packaged at one plant in Washington State.  **Only some of the 400 products recalled were sold in Canada.**  But it brings into focus how food, which could be locally grown and preserved for year-round consumption, is instead processed at one central plant and trucked across the continent.  Besides having gigantic food contamination episodes like this, the whole system is not a great use of resources.  As far as I know, while we grow all sorts of vegetables here (aside from potatoes) that people like the convenience of buying chopped up, frozen and ready to cook, we have very little of that kind of processing on P.E.I. right now.

May 20, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Yesterday's news saw Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency approve genetically modified salmon to be sold in Canada, without a labeling requirement.  (Apparently it will be at least a year before it would be in supermarkets, and it's unclear whether the fish -- currently from eggs produced on P.E.I. but shipped to Panama for growing -- can be grown here or not.)

Also, the National Energy Board gave approval to Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (with over a hundred conditions).

Yesterday, many MPs and columnists commented on the event in the House of Commons the day before, which appeared to involve the Prime Minister, a gaggle of MPs, the Opposition Whip, frogmarching and body-checking.  Many MPs and columnists criticized what other MPs and columnists had commented on.  And so on.

But then there was David Weale's letter in yesterday's Guardian, clear and lyrical as a little Island stream in the woods.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-05-19/article-4534002/Using-water-for-common-good/1

Published on Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Using water for common good - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Weale

Principal beneficiaries of deep-water wells, also principal polluters of our water

Here we go. The campaign to deregulate the drilling of deep-water wells on the Island is ramping up.

In his op ed piece in The Guardian (May 12th) Rory Francis voices the same opinion as was expressed repeatedly by the Premier during the last election campaign – that the deep wells issue is a matter to be settled by science. Scolding like a cleric, Mr. Francis informs us that despite all our irrational and misguided concerns, the situation is absolutely clear. There is nothing to worry about. It’s indisputable. And how do we know? Science tells us so. End of discussion.   

He seems incredibly sure of himself, but what he puts forth is scientific fundamentalism at its worst – polemical, dogmatic, narrowly focused and clearly far from objective.

The degree of presumption is actually quite astonishing. For him to imagine that Islanders’ informed concerns surrounding this issue – concerns such as the negative long-term effects of potato monoculture – could be waved aside by a little scientific homily is pretty cheeky if you ask me.

Why does he not mention those many scientists who view the matter differently from him? And why such unwillingness to admit that the science of what lies beneath our feet is a long way from being a certain thing? There seems to be some other agenda at play here beside objective scientific analysis, and I’m not sure, but in the background I think I can hear something rustling in the long grass.

Good science is humble, and open to the inconvenience of many perspectives. Bad science is arrogant, dismissive, and examines things in isolation, and out of context.

Mr. Francis must know that Islanders’ concerns about water coming out of the ground are linked to concerns about how that water will be used, but he doesn’t even mention that. Not a word. It seems a bit strange, but I would suggest his avoidance of the wider context of the debate is a strategy to shift the ground of the argument to a place where Islanders feel overawed by ‘experts,’ like himself; a place where the opinions of most citizens about the evolving nature of their society are shoved to one side. In a word, it’s designed to take most of us right out of the conversation, and it’s clever. Devilishly so.

What his argument lacks in circumspection it makes up for with galloping assertiveness. For example, he concedes there are some public policy issues involving science where there is room for a variety of perspectives, but then adds summarily, “managing our groundwater resources is not one of them.”  In his mind, when it comes to deep-water wells, the debate is over and the attempt to keep it going is, as he puts it, merely “ideological.”

Again, I can understand why Francis would like to restrict the discussion, because when it comes to what kind of society we desire for the Island we, the people, are the experts – the ones with the authority. Science makes a good servant, but a damn poor master.

Islanders know where the pressure for the wells is originating. They know who will benefit most. And they don’t wish to live in a landscape dominated by one large corporation that practices non-sustainable agriculture. That might sound ideological to Mr. Francis, but it’s actually immensely practical in the long run. Why use good water to sustain bad agriculture? Why spread fresh butter on stale bread?

I believe most Islanders, including most farmers, would like to transition away from the kind of farming that is presently dominant. It will take time, and require a co-operative spirit between the many players involved. What makes no sense is to open up the water bank in support of the status quo. And if government decides to move in that direction there will be massive resistance because the resource in that bank ‘belongs’ to all of us, including the plants and other creatures that live here.

Something else conspicuously absent from the Francis essay is the acknowledgement that, ironically, the principal beneficiaries of the deep-water wells would be those who are the principal polluters of our water. Where is the thoughtful addressing of that aspect of the issue? Where is his science when it comes to unacceptable levels of nitrates in the drinking water, or dead fish in toxic rivers, or the destruction of topsoil, an issue put forward by some of his scientific colleagues, but totally ignored by him? Indeed, as a former deputy minister of the environment during a period that saw a sharp spike in both potato production and the degradation of soil, air and water on the Island, one might perhaps expect from Mr. Francis a less peremptory tone.

In summary, there are many interconnected issues to be contemplated as we move toward the creation of a new Water Act for Prince Edward Island. One is the question of how much water is available, and another is the question of how we choose to use (or preserve) it for the common good. Anyone who attempts to separate those two would appear to be speaking, not on behalf of the Island community as a whole, but on behalf of special interests.

- David Weale is an Island historian, author, storyteller and a member of The Vision Initiative, a non-partisan group of Islanders committed to creative public discourse about the future of the province.

May 19, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some sloppy mistakes recently:  the calculation of the percentage of seats in Rachel Notley's NDP majority is actually about 66% (not 88%), a "false majority" with only 40% of the popular vote.

The rescheduled date for the Farm Centre Legacy Garden Volunteer afternoon is this Sunday, May 22nd, 2-6PM for helping and then sharing a potluck meal. Facebook event details here.


Here is a bit of a wrap-up of the Spring sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature, though there will be some focus on particular issues or documents to come:

Overall, it was an OK session and was moving along well; its rapid closure was disappointing as there was still much that could be discussed in that open forum.  The Legislature will not open again (unless an emergency sitting would be called) until Tuesday, November 15th -- almost seven months from now.

Teresa Wright's summary of the Sitting published the day after the Legislature closed is reprinted below and encapsulates very much. The main things passed were raising the HST and reorganizing the Education department.  Also, very important reports were tabled by the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal and the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy.

In contrast to the opinions expressed last Friday by the CBC Radio political panel, I felt the Opposition was organized, brought up issue after issue, listened to answers and responded; sometimes it was obvious a line of questions wasn't going anywhere and those precious questions could have been switched to another issue.  The Tories perhaps didn't see fully how everyone would respond to criticism of the Speaker, and that seemed to set the stage to start wrapping things up.  The heckling was a little rowdy at times, and "shared" among other some other Opposition MLAs; although it was distracting at times, the chirping also pointed out vacuous or pompous answers.  MLAs brought up good issues -- Brad Trivers (District 19:Rustico-Emerald) on renewables and on government sourcing local food, Sidney MacEwen (D7:Morell-Mermaid) and Matt MacKay (D20:Kensington-Malpeque) were tenacious.

The Premier let his Ministers shine and deal with most of the hard questions; sometimes he appeared to deign as opposed to reign.  Most ministers did a decent job describing or defending their department's and government's decisions; often more wordy answers than needed.  Backbenchers worked -- Bush Dumville (District 15:West Royalty-Springvale) radiated with joy on hearing parking fees at QEH would be cut; Katheleen Casey (D14:Ch'town-Lewis Point) brought up midwifery, and so on. 

The absence of Peter Bevan-Baker (Leader of the Third Party and D17:Kellys Cross-Cumberland) for the last three weeks was noticeable, but it does give hope that the next Sitting will recapture a better spirit of collaboration.
------------------------------------------

Teresa Wright's summary of the Spring Sitting, published on Saturday, May 14th, 2016, in The Guardian

Spring sitting of P.E.I. legislature closes Friday after 23-days - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Came to swift close after a six-week session highlighted by a hike to the HST

The spring sitting of the P.E.I. legislature came to a swift close Friday after a six-week session highlighted by a hike to the HST, a new direction for education and a squabble over concerns raised about the Speaker.  The opening weeks of the 23-day session saw a number of heated debates about government’s decision to raise the HST to 15 per cent in October. This came amid news that despite this tax hike, the MacLauchlan government did not reach its target of balancing the budget this year, instead projecting a $9.6 million deficit for 2016-17.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives were highly critical of the HST increase, using much of their time in question period highlighting how this hike will hurt Islanders already struggling to pay their bills.  They also raised questions about P.E.I.’s lack of a child advocate, cuts to child care subsidies and highlighted concerns about a $38-million Homburg loan flagged by the auditor general.

Government, meanwhile, brought forward a number of significant pieces of legislation, including a new Education Act, which will disband the province’s English Language School Board and create a new Crown corporation to run the P.E.I. school system.  A bill ensuring the public release of loans written-off by Crown corporations was also tabled for the second time since November, this time with a loophole in wording removed.  These and other bills led to some lengthy and meaningful debates on the floor of the legislature, with pointed questions for government on wording and policy direction and even some attempts by the Opposition to make amendments – some of which were successful.

But the mood shifted in the later part of the sitting after concerns surfaced about Speaker Buck Watts’s impartiality in a letter sent to the legislative rules committee by Opposition Leader Jamie Fox.  That letter, and subsequent media reports on it, led to a breach of privilege ruling by the Speaker which then started a chain of events culminating in a contentious meeting of the legislative rules committee and a controversial report tabled this week that created new rules for the Speaker attending political events, but also contained harsh criticism of media coverage of the issue.

Suddenly on Thursday, government members ramped up their efforts to close the house and the Opposition didn’t stand in their way.  For example, the Tories allowed the governing Liberals to extend the hour Thursday night until after 10 p.m., allowing government time to finish reading bills and going through their line-by-line budget estimates.

Opposition also gave consent for a number of bills to pass third reading Friday that would normally have had to sit on the order paper for an additional day. Opposition Leader Jamie Fox admits there was an agreement with government to allow them to close the house Friday, but says this approach gave his caucus some negotiating leverage.  “There was a little bit of a give and take with government and Opposition and I think, with that, we were able to get some bills on the floor that we wanted to speak to and make some key points, and I think we were successful in doing that,” Fox said. “There was no intent to rush the session.”

The Opposition remained firmly against the province’s HST hike to the very end, forcing a standing vote on the bill just before the house closed for season. “We’re taking more hard-earned money out of Islanders’ pockets and putting it into the government,” Fox said.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan defended the increase, saying it is needed to ensure essential services are maintained. He also pointed to changes his government has implemented, such as the decision to allow abortion services in P.E.I., the upcoming plebiscite on electoral reform and limits soon to be imposed on political donations as areas where he has placed his personal stamp as leader and premier of the province. “We are dealing with historic issues as well as looking after the business of government.”


House records and video archives are found here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/

May 18, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today's Guardian has a front page story on news that the Irving corporations gave over $15,000 to both the provincial Liberals and Progressive Conservative political parties last year (the entire report on political donations for 2015 has not been released yet, I think).  The story reviews the concerns the corporation has regarding the moratorium on high capacity wells for agricultural purposes.

There is a quiet story on page 3 (with the quiet headline "Public input compiled") regarding the release of the Environmental Advisory Council's report related to the Water Act.

The MacLauchlan government announced during this sitting of the Legislature that new rules will be coming into place later this year regarding eliminating corporate donations to political parties on P.E.I.
-----------------------
This is from earlier this year (before the devastating wildfires), by David Suzuki, but still worth reading (perhaps again, it sound familiar).  I hope the links in the article work if you want to see more background information.

Signs of Change Are Sweeping the Nation - The Huffington Post article by David Suzuki

reposted in the Huffington Post on Friday, May 13th, 2016
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/david-suzuki/canada-progressive-changes_b_7269826.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-alberta&ir=Canada+Alberta
by David Suzuki

Recent events in Canada have shown not only that change is possible, but that people won't stand for having corporate interests put before their own.

When plummeting oil prices late last year threw Alberta into financial crisis, people rightly asked, "Where's the money?" They could see that an oil producer like Norway was able to weather the price drop thanks to forward planning, higher costs to industry to exploit resources and an oil fund worth close to $1 trillion! Leading up to the election, the government that ran Alberta for 44 years refused to consider raising industry taxes or reviewing royalty rates, instead offering a budget with new taxes, fees and levies for citizens, along with service cuts.

The people of Alberta then did what was once thought impossible: they gave the NDP a strong majority**. Almost half the NDP members elected were women, giving Alberta the highest percentage of women ever in a Canadian provincial or federal government.

On the other side of the country, voters in Prince Edward Island followed B.C. provincially and Canada federally and elected their first Green Party member, as well as Canada's second openly gay premier. Remember, homosexuality was illegal in Canada until 1969!

In my home province, after a long struggle by elders and families of the Tahltan Klabona Keepers, the B.C. government bought 61 coal licences from Fortune Minerals and Posco Canada in the Klappan and Sacred Headwaters, putting a halt to controversial development in an ecologically and culturally significant area that is home to the Tahltan people and forms the headwaters of the Skeena, Stikine and Nass rivers. The Tahltan and the province have agreed to work on a long-term management plan for the area.

On the same night as Alberta's election, people of the Lax Kw'alaams band of the Tsimshian First Nation met to consider an offer by Malaysian state-owned energy company Petronas of $1 billion over 40 years to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, at the other end of the Skeena River, an estuary that provides crucial habitat for salmon and other life. The 181 people attending unanimously opposed the offer. Two nights later in Prince Rupert, band members also stood unanimously against the proposal.

A final vote was scheduled after this column's deadline, but the message is clear: integrity, the environment and human health are more important than money. Gerald Amos, a Haisla First Nation member and community relations director for the Headwaters Initiative, said the federal Prince Rupert Port Authority's decision to locate the facility on Lelu Island also demonstrated a failure to properly consult with First Nations. "By the time they get around to consulting with us, the boat's already built and they just want to know what colour to paint it," he said.

On a broader scale, change is occurring around the serious threat of climate change. Even well-known deniers, including U.S. oil billionaire Charles Koch, now admit climate change is real and caused in part by CO2 emissions. But they argue it isn't and won't be dangerous, so we shouldn't worry. Most people are smart enough to see through their constantly changing, anti-science, pro-fossil-fuel propaganda, though, and are demanding government and industry action.

We're also seeing significant changes in the corporate sector. The movement to divest from fossil fuels is growing quickly, and businesses are increasingly integrating positive environmental performance into their operations. Funds that have divested from fossil fuels have outperformed those that haven't, a trend expected to continue.

We can't expect miracles from Alberta's new government, which has its work cut out. After all, it would be difficult to govern Alberta from an anti-oil position, and the fossil fuel industry is known for working to get its way. Although NDP leader Rachel Notley has spoken against the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, she isn't opposed to all pipeline and oilsands development, and she's called for refinery construction in Alberta. But she's promised to phase out coal-fired power, increase transit investment, implement energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies, and bring in stronger environmental standards, monitoring and enforcement.

I've often said things are impossible only until they aren't anymore. The past few weeks show how people have the power to bring about change.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org


**I should mention that the NDP government in Alberta won about 41% of the popular vote in the province's First Past the Post voting system, winning 54 of 87 seats (or 88% of seats).  (PC won about 29% of popular vote and 10 seats (11% of seats) and the Wild Rose Party 24% (of polular votes) and 21 seats (or 24% of seats).  From:Results form 2015 Alberta Provincial Election

I don't know if Premier Notley, with everything else on her plate, has had time to discuss electoral reform.

--------

The Ontario Liberal government has released a "sweeping climate change plan" that is getting strong reactions in the media.  Here is the story from The Globe and Mail Monday -- I may look for others that don't focus on words such as "mass disruption" that the policies will cause.

May 17, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Yesterday, the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC)'s report to the Department of Communities, Land and Environment was released.  It summarizes all the meetings, all the presentations, all the comments received from summer 2015 until January 15th of this year regarding the writing of a new Water Act for Prince Edward Island.

It is available to read on the internet as a PDF on the Water Act website, here:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/wateract/
It is on the right-hand side of the page.

Now the Department works on the draft Water Act, guided by summaries; the draft act will be released and then go through a series of public consultations, with Minister Robert Mitchell and his staff hosting the meetings.

The EAC should really be commended for their efforts.  It's apparent they sifted and sorted through all of what they heard, and organized into themes of what they heard.  They had formal presentations and hundreds of comments.

This is what the EAC should be doing for the Minister and for Islanders -- researching, listening to Islanders, and making their finding available to the public. 

More discussions to come, and comments welcome.
----------------------
Tonight:
Movie:  Nowhere Else to Go, 7PM,
Holland College (Prince of Wales Campus), Kent Street Entrance, Room 21W.  The movie documents the 2013 anti-shale gas protests near Elsipogtog First Nation, New Brunswick. Admission by donation. Sponsored by Don't Frack PEI, Holland College Green Machine, and Cinema Politica.  Facebook event details here.

May 16, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events:
Tomorrow, Tuesday, May17th:
Move: Nowhere Else to Go, 7PM
, Holland College downtown campus, Kent St. entrance, downstairs room 21W, next to the Holland College MacKinnon Lecture Theatre.

The movie "documents the 2013 anti-shale gas protests near Elsipogtog First Nation, New Brunswick <snip> provid(ing) an in-depth look into the early days of the protest in July through the RCMP raid on the protest encampment near Rexton (in October).
"The film also highlights the context for the protest, including the troubled history of the relationship between First Nations people and the Canadian government, the provincial government’s handling of consultation in advance of shale gas exploration licensing and the support for First Nations protesters that developed amongst non-native anti-shale activists."
The film runs 35 minutes, and Eliza Knockwood will lead a discussion and show her filming at the time.
Facebook event details
------------------------
A week from today is Victoria Day, Monday, May 23rd, and the annual:
Dandelion Festival, 10AM to 3PM, Stratford Town Hall, free (food and other items for sale).  Displays all the time, and interspersed are workshops on Cooking with Dandelions, Vegetable Fermentation, Pesticide Free Lawn Care, and Healthy Personal Care and Cleaning Products.
Facebook event details
----------------
Announcement:
Summer Student job posting at the Voluntary Resource Centre (VRC)
on Prince Street, to help manage the very popular Escape Rooms, among other tasks.  For more details or to send a resume and cover letter, write to vrc@eastlink.ca (or me and I can send the job posting announcement)


A reminder about the "bee petition",started by Island beekeeper Stan Sandler, to urge government to up the inspection parameters to keep Small Hive Beetle out of P.E.I. when bees are trucked in for pollination from infested areas on the rest of the country.
https://www.change.org/p/the-minister-of-agriculture-for-prince-edward-island-keep-the-bees-of-pei-free-from-small-hive-beetle?recruiter=12046973&utm_source=petitions_show_components_action_panel_wrapper&utm_medium=copylink


Raffi was here this weekend, which reminded me of his essay in the December 13th essay for the anthology, Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet. He is the beloved singer, activist, and founder of the "Centre for Child Honouring -- respecting Earth and Child" and he writes:

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

"Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market … You grownups say you love us. But I challenge you, please, make your actions reflect your words." — Severn Cullis-Suzuki, age 12 (Rio, 1992)

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 15, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Here is a good article, reminiscing and predicting the future:

http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_618ee77e-16e7-11e6-9dce-eff47a8dddfd.html

Box stores and the death of local retail business - The Eastern Graphic column "Thinking About It" by Allan Rankin

Published on Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

I was going down memory lane with a friend a few weeks ago, recollecting childhood days growing up on the outskirts of Summerside.  All of us have done this sort of thing from time to time.

Like most small towns of its day, Summerside had a Water Street, or its equivalent, a downtown hub of department stores, grocery stores, smaller speciality shops, restaurants, barber shops, banks, and professional offices.  My mother did her grocery shopping at Holman’s, and Biscuits, the delivery man brought them to our house at Glover’s Shore. Shoes were bought at Sheen’s, other clothing at Smallman’s, fancier stuff at MacKenzie’s House of Fashion, flowers at Kelly’s, and books at Mrs Bell’s shop on Spring Street.  I picked up the latest copy of Famous Monster magazine at the news stand on the corner of Granville and Water, my first 45 record at MacAusland’s and ice cream at the Ideal Dairy on Central, across from the Capital Theatre.

All of these small local businesses were owned and operated by our neighbours, families who resided in the town and some of their children were school friends of mine. It was a self-reinforcing local retail economy in which profits remained in the community and though product variety and choice didn’t rival the larger centres, the two locally owned department stores, Holman’s and Smallman’s, worked hard to keep up with the latest trends and styles.

These local businesses prided themselves on quality and customer service.  There was a very human scale and character to Water Street at that time. It was a street for pedestrians, bicycles and people going about their daily business. It was also a gathering place to socialize on the street or maybe at Smallman’s snack bar where the biggest and most delicious milkshakes could be found.

If you stand on the corner of Water and Spring Streets today, near what used to be the main entrance to the Holman Department Store, the words “Holman’s Where Old Friends Meet” are still memorialized in the sidewalk.

But few people meet on Water Street these days.  The brick paver sidewalks and fancy lighting, and a transformation of the Holman’s building into a suite of government offices, suggest a valiant effort by municipal leaders to revitalize the downtown, but Water Street is really a dead place.

With the closure two years ago of Crocket’s Jewellers, all of the old family retail business are now gone and there is little to draw anyone to what is left of Summerside’s downtown.  The business activity has been relocated to the north end of Granville Street, and is dominated by two strip malls and several large box stores, including Walmart, Sobey’s, Superstore, and Canadian Tire. Most of the smaller retail businesses in the mall areas are national chain outlets.

If you put your ear to the sidewalk along north Granville Street these days, you can hear the whoosh of money being sucked out of the community.

This is the story of one little town. Of course it is not unique. Beginning in the 1960s, smaller communities throughout North America have seen their downtowns obliterated by the emergence of shopping malls and box stores.

I remember the vigorous shopping mall debates of the early 1980s, the Shopping Mall Moratorium of Conservative Premier J Angus MacLean and the misadventures of Charlottetown developer Frank Johnston.  Premier MacLean’s approach was true and noble, but a little like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke, and in the end, we gave up on our local businesses and swarmed to the indoor malls like flies to honey.

The Charlottetown downtown business district still has a slight pulse but box store retail development continues to spread outwards and across the bridge into Stratford.  Living as I do in Hunter River and with Sears, Kent, Sobeys, Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s and the Liquor store all situated together just beyond the Arterial Highway in Winsloe, there are few reasons for me to go into downtown Charlottetown.  I usually avoid the downtown of our capital city simply because there is nowhere to park during the daytime. As a city parking attendant confessed to me one time, most of the meters are being fed by employees of local businesses and offices and you have to do a lot of circling and waiting to find one.

Big box retailers come in several flavours. There are the so-called category killers like Best Buy and Toys “R” Us that focus on one kind of merchandise, the discounters like Wallmart that sells a broader range of goods, and the warehouse clubs like Costco.  We have most of these on the Island now, excepting Costco, welcomed by city officials anxious for the tax revenue but indifferent to other realities such as the minimum wages paid to employees and no commitment to the community.

The American States of Vermont and California have led the fight against big box store development with varying success, but for Prince Edward Island the horse is already out of the barn.  Islanders can’t wait to roam the aisles of Princess Auto and dream about the day when they can purchase a membership to their very own Costco.

A month or so ago my friend, Perry Williams and I took a little trip over to Amherst, Nova Scotia, to get a firsthand look at the operations of the amazing little community radio station CFTA.  As we walked down the main street of that once vibrant town at the head of Chignecto Basin, we came to the beautiful old three-storey brick Margolian’s department store, built in 1906 and operated since 2004 as Dayle’s.

The window displays were empty and the sign said it all, CLOSING.

Driving out Albion Street towards the highway, you pass by the new Walmart.

Allan Rankin writes a weekly column for The Graphic newspapers.


That reminded me of a part of writer and broadcaster's Garrison Keillor story about his fictional Minnesota town of Lake Woebegon.  Here is a partial summary by someone named Steven Blatt of the University of California Berkeley here:

  Keillor describes how, in a small town, people feel pressure to buy from their neighbors, rather than from better stores in nearby towns.  For example, Lake Wobegon is served by Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery.  In nearby St. Cloud, however, is the Higgledy-Piggledy, "where you find two acres of food" (p. 117).

    "The truth is that Lake Wobegon survives to the extent that it does on a form of voluntary socialism with elements of Deism, fatalism, and nepotism" (117-118).  "If people were to live by comparison shopping the town would go bust.  It cannot compete with other places item by item.  Nothing in town is quite as good as it appears to be somewhere else.  If you live there, you have to take it as a whole.  That's loyalty." (118).


Just some thoughts to share.

May 14, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today:
Farmers' Markets
are open in Summerside and Charlottetown.
Macphail Woods "Birds and Breakfast" is this morning, and a native plants landscaping is at 2PM.
Tonight,
"Thanks Hanks, A Fundraising Tribute to Hank Snow and Hank Williams", 7-9PM, Hot Shots Lounge, 101 Longworth Ave., Proceeds to ISCA (International Sustainable Community Assistance) Haiti development work.  Info: 940-5864 or go to www.isac-aidc.ca
---------------------------
While we await the release of the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC)'s report on their summary of public consultations in regards to a P.E.I. Water Act, it's been relatively quiet in the newspapers. That is, until Thursday, when a thousand-word opinion piece was published in The Guardian. (text below)

The piece, by Rory Francis, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture in the 1980s and now executive director of the P.E.I. BioAlliance, is illustrated with the same graphic that the paper has used in the past, originally from (I think) a non-profit or government group -- it's not acknowledged by the paper, and this webcopy below was used in a publication on-line serving the water service industry which reprinted a Water Canada article.

small version of a graphic promoting abundance of groundwater on P.E.I.
--------------

The article firmly reiterates that there is plenty of groundwater and it will only be red tape and expense and misguided ideology to enforce more protective measures.  The article rankles, perhaps due to the patronizing tone, perhaps due to asserting as sufficient the tired, skimpy, old data (one percent of seven percent of ...) which was completed disproved by many submissions to the EAC, perhaps sentences that reveal to the reader that time has passed such as "In the 1980’s we established a common sense rule that a 50-50 balance between human use and nature seemed reasonable. This practical position seems to have stood the test of time <snip>" 
Or, regarding overextraction causing parts of the Winter River to dry up and a proposal to pipe water to the stream to re-establish base flow:  "That's probably really not necessary -- the fish can move downstream--"

Which reminded me of this part of The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss.

page 52 of The Lorax, published in 1971.
---------------
Which of course is the reaction he makes fun of -- people being moved by ideology instead of the science he feels is more than adequate to guarantee our water security.

A lot of our attitudes on protection of resources and on public consultation *have* improved since the 1980s.  And most of us stand by The Lorax, especially in a place as small and fragile as P.E.I.

What's curious is the timing.  Sorry to say, the Robert Ghiz's government "selling" to the public of the Plan B highway has left some of us more aware of "expert" pieces suddenly appearing in the media.

Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.

-----------------------------------
Opinion piece from Thursday, May 12th, 2016
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/2016-05-12/article-4526645/EXPERT-OPINION%3A-It-is-a-myth-that-P.E.I.-is-short-of-water/1

EXPERT OPINION: It is a myth that P.E.I. is short of water - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Rory Francis

Moratorium on high capacity wells never necessary. Science is clear; this was political expediency

It is wonderful to see the attention that we Islanders pay to the protection of our environment, including our water resources. The current discussion around a new Water Act has been mostly dominated by a perspective that somehow we are ‘short’ of water; that we need to limit use, whether by businesses, agriculture, or municipalities. As with any resource, there are always limits, even with a renewable resource such as our groundwater system. But we are nowhere near those limits.

Prince Edward Island is not running out of water. Prince Edward Island has been blessed by nature with an abundant and high quality groundwater resource. This is a renewable, sustainable resource that can readily be managed to supply the needs of homes, businesses, and natural habitats without conflict, and largely without compromise.

My concern with the current dialogue is that we are again the unfortunate situation where ideological positions are being taken that relegate basic science and common sense to the trash bin and force governments into ‘compromise’ situations where they feel the need to be seen to be taking action - when regulatory action may not be necessary for appropriate environmental protection. Unnecessary regulations also undermine our collective efforts to establish a sustainable economic future for our province, an area where we have much to do.

There are many areas of science-based public policy where there are different views of the ‘truth’- and there is real evidence to support those differing views. Managing our groundwater resources is not one of them.

There are some basic facts that we should review. Prince Edward Island receives, on average, about 1100 mm of precipitation each year. Of this, about 40 per cent returns to the atmosphere through evaporation and plant use. About 25 per cent runs off overland to brooks and rivers during rainfall and snowmelt events. About 35 per cent infiltrates the soil and reaches the water table, recharging our groundwater supply. This is our Water Cycle.

At a recharge rate of 35 per cent, this recharge applied across our province’s surface of 5,660 square kilometers, represents an annual average volume of 2.2 billion cubic meters of water. That’s what recharges our bedrock aquifer every year. Now we can consider the Water Budget - where does that water go?

Every year, under natural conditions, all that groundwater discharges along springs and rivers to provide a portion of their flow, particularly significant during dry periods of the year. This is a rather unusual gift of nature that maintains ‘base flow’ and constant water temperatures in our streams during the drier summer months that is very much a factor in creating our naturally good habitat for fish and wildlife.

When it comes to human use of our groundwater resource, we are essentially withdrawing from that annual average recharge through wells. All in, for all uses, we currently withdraw about 29 million cubic meters of water per year. This is just above one per cent of the annual recharge. We are not short of water.

But there are two other factors to be considered in proper management of our groundwater resource. One is the impact of high capacity wells. We have already seen that, overall, we have an abundant, annually -replenished resource to draw upon. But there can be local effects. Higher capacity wells (actually any well) create a low-pressure zone around the well when it is being pumped. Think of it as a temporary lowering of the water table. It is a simple scientific method to measure that effect - and manage well location, pumping rate, and duration so that other wells in the area are not negatively affected. This is what the provincial government’s Water Resources staff does in determining well permits and approvals. It is not rocket science. It is what has allowed high capacity wells to exist for municipal and industrial use across P.E.I. for decades without issue.

Most wells for municipal and industrial use including irrigation wells for agriculture fall in this category. A moratorium on high capacity wells was never necessary - the science is clear. This was political expediency. It just has to be done properly. In fact, there is more evidence of over-regulation of ‘high capacity’ wells that under-regulation. The time and cost burden to businesses is currently excessive for many situations.

The second consideration also relates to high capacity wells, in the circumstance where many are located in the same geographic area. Charlottetown’s source of supply in the Winter River area is an example - perhaps the only one in the province. As stated above, groundwater discharge to streams is important for creating and maintaining fish habitat. So too much withdrawal through wells can reduce that base flow to streams and affect fish habitat. So this too has to be managed sustainably, and for the most part, has been.

Sharing the resource between human use and fish habitat is the approach we have wisely taken. In the 1980’s we established a common sense rule that a 50-50 balance between human use and nature seemed reasonable. This practical position seems to have stood the test of time, and really, the Winter River watershed is the only one in the province where withdrawal rates are large enough that this matters.

It has been observed in very dry years that small tributaries near wells supplying Charlottetown with water are dry for days or maybe weeks, but the Charlottetown Water Utility need only run a pipe from their system to the stream to re-establish base flow. That’s probably really not necessary - the fish can move downstream - but it could be done.

My appeal is that as we consider what a ‘Water Act’ needs be, we avoid demanding political action that is not necessary. We do not have a groundwater supply problem, and we know how to balance uses and avoid future problems. Our track record on this is good.

Let’s remember also that every act and regulation costs taxpayers money, increases the size of the public service, and creates a burden of red tape that is not helpful to our economy. Let’s put our tax dollars to work in places where they are really needed.

Rory Francis served as hydrogeologist, Director of Water Resources, and Deputy Minister of Environment for P.E.I.  from 1981 to 1993. He is currently Executive Director of the P.E.I. BioAlliance.

May 13, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Small bits of news today:

It looks like the P.E.I. Legislature may finish its Spring Sitting today, as the House stayed in session for several hours last night (the archived video is not working properly but apparently it was until past 11PM). 
The session today is supposed to be from 10AM to 1PM.
Watch on-line here.

The rush to close is a bit disappointing -- there are still many issues that could be discussed more thoroughly, but it seems once the dandelions started blooming outside, the pace inside quickened.
------
Condolences to the Bevan-Baker family, as news of the passing of Peter's mother in Scotland reached P.E.I. yesterday.
-----------------------------
Congrats to the PEI Food Exchange, for being awarded one of the "micro-grants" from the City of Charlottetown last night for a food canning and preserving project.  I am sure the programs planned will be wonderful.
Congratulations to other winners, too, and all the entrants.
-----------
The Volunteer Day at the Farm Centre Legacy Garden, scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed due to the impending rain, until next Saturday.
-----------
Since the weather is going to be rainy tomorrow, if you are able to collect litter to participate in the annual Women's Institute Roadside Cleanup today, you are welcome to.  There are marked bags available (today at Access PEI places, Maritime Electric's office, and town of Stratford and Cornwall Town Halls), and today and tomorrow at all the Island Waste Management (IWMC) facilities from 8AM until 12:30 or so (website here) and there is a contest to encourage participation from families and individuals, businesses, etc. (and not just WI members ;-)  More details here.

You can use clear bags, IWMC tells me, and crews from the Department of Transportation start picking up bags alongside the roads starting Monday.

Roadside litter is a big issue, and the annual cleanup doesn't address how to reduce what's being littered; this needs revisiting. But thanks to all for helping clean things up. 

May 12, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Tonight, Thursday, May 12th:
"Micro-Grant Pitch Party" for the City of Charlottetown's Community Sustainability Micro-Grant Program, 6:30PM, Murphy's Community Centre, Richmond Street. All welcome. 
Attendees will get to hear about projects and to vote on them.  The PEI Food Exchange will be presenting first on a food canning and preserving project. 
Facebook details here

Saturday, May 14th:
"Thanks Hanks, A Fundraising Tribute to Hank Snow and Hank Williams", 7-9PM, Hot Shots Lounge, 101 Longworth Ave., Charlottetown.
Featuring Thomas Webb, Katie McGarry, Bob Mac Isaac, Mark Geddes, Dean Dunsford and Thomas Kirkham.  Tickets:  Advanced: $10, Door: $15
Proceeds to ISCA (International Sustainable Community Assistance) Haiti development work.  For more info/advanced tickets, call 940-5864 or go to www.isac-aidc.ca


My Wednesday, May 11th, copy of the West Prince Graphic came in the mail on May 11th -- which was a nice surprise (usually it arrives on Thursdays)
Also a nice surprise was this clear and clever letter by Teresa Doyle:
http://www.peicanada.com/eastern_graphic/article_60f19bb0-16e5-11e6-ac68-1331958e1d54.html

Proportional representation will save us from more Plan ‘B’ highways - The West Prince Graphic Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, May 11th, 2016, in The West Prince Graphic (and probably Eastern Graphic, too)

Every time I drive over the Plan B section of the TCH I get riled. We spent millions to create a dangerous highway. If you go off the road you could plunge 80 feet. In a citizen’s plebicite 91% of Islanders begged Ghiz to abandon the project but our concerns were ignored.

And then there was the Harper occupation. He was a party of one, a vindictive, mean spirited individual with a blatant disregard for every democratic tradition. But that didn’t matter. Our current voting system First Past the Post, FPTP, gave him all the power even though only 39% of the country voted for him. If there is one thing Canadians should learn from that episode is NEVER AGAIN.

In November Islanders will have a chance to vote for a new electoral system. Canada, the UK and the Americans are virtually the last three democracies hanging on to the antiquated FPTP. Fully 85 countries in the OECD have proportional representation.

One of the options on the plebicite, Preferential Ballot, is even worse than FPTP. It rewards the party in the middle. Experts predict Preferential Ballot will give us Liberal majorities forever (Trudeau might have had 40 more seats). FPTP Plus must also be avoided. It throws a bone to the majority who did not vote for the winning party by including the leaders of the Greens and NDP but Peter Bevan-Baker is already in the legislature, so we would go through this costly exercise to gain just one seat.

Mixed Member Proportional is tried and true around the world. Dual Member Proportional, DMP is even better, tailor made for PEI. With either system, if a party gets 40% of the vote they get 40% of the seats. Parties would have to co-operate and listen to the public. No more Plan Bs, Homburg hotels or other schemes hatched by party insiders. It’s time we evolve as a province and a country and embraced a modern electoral system.

Teresa Doyle,
Bellevue

May 11, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There are two events at Macphail Woods this Saturday, May 14th:

Birds and Breakfast at the Macphail Homestead, 7AM (Breakfast), 8AM (Bird walk), Orwell, Free but donations accepted.

"The Macphail Homestead will be open at 7am to serve a free "early bird" breakfast.  Join other birders beside the fireplace in the Great Room for your morning cup of coffee or tea and freshly baked breakfast treats to start your day out right! <snip>

"The bird walk, led by long-time birders Fiep De Bie and Dwaine Oakley, starts at 8am outside the Macphail Woods Nature Centre.  Participants will be listening to calls and identifying common and uncommon species as they walk the grounds and trails."

Native Plant Landscaping Workshop, 2PM, starting at Macphail Woods Nature Centre, Orwell, Free, no registration required.
"The use of native plants to improve wildlife habitat, beautify yards and reduce the size of lawns is attracting a lot of attention these days.  A wide variety of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns can be combined to create everything from wild areas to formal hedges.  

"The tour starts with a slide show in the Nature Centre, offering some basic plant identification and a discussion on what varieties can be planted in different areas. <snip>

"Participants will learn which types of plants provide the best food, both for wildlife and humans.<snip> Visitors will get a chance to look at the plantings at Macphail Woods and discuss some of their own landscaping situations."

More details here:
http://macphailwoods.org/events/
(And my apologies for roughly editing the excellent event write-ups that Gary Schneider creates.)


This recently released about public consultations for the new P.E.I. Energy Strategy:

From the PEI Energy Strategy Team:
Please be advised that the dates and locations have been determined for the PEI Energy Strategy Public Consultations.

6-8 pm, Monday, May 30, 2016
Westisle Composite High School
39570 Western Rd, Elmsdale

6-8 pm, Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Room #204 & #205
Holland College Waterfront Campus
98 Water St, Summerside

6-8 pm, Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Murchison Centre
17 Pius X Ave, Charlottetown

6-8 pm, Thursday, June 2, 2016
Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre
21 Sullivan Drive, Montague


A draft of the proposed strategy will be available on our website approximately one week prior to the consultations. The web address is: http://www.peiec.ca/background-material.html
More general information here:
http://www.peiec.ca/


Coverage of the Proportional Representation Action Team meeting in Emerald, which was last Saturday:

http://www.journalpioneer.com/News/Local/2016-05-09/article-4523679/Proportional-Representation-Action-Team-working-toward-electoral-reform/1

Proportional Representation Action Team working toward electoral reform - The Journal Pioneer article by Ancelene MacKinnon

Published on Monday, May 9th, 2016

Karalee McAskill is hopeful the November plebiscite will result in electoral reform on P.E.I.

She along with other Islanders are working hard to ensure proportional representation (PR) replaces the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. “The current system doesn’t reflect the needs of our communities,” she said. “We would be better represented if we had more diversity.”

Proportional representation means parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes they receive, compared to a candidate with the most votes being the winner of a seat, leaving other parties unrepresented in the FPTP system.

The PR Action Team had its campaign kickoff at Emerald Community Centre on Saturday afternoon.McAskill, who ran for the NDP in last year’s provincial election, said this change would be a great move for the Island, and she’s ready to help spread the word.  “Electoral reform is not a new thing to any country. It’s important we re-evaluate our voting process.”

Anna Keenan, co-ordinator for the organization, said they would be discussing how to form an effective campaign over the next six months to ensure they win proportional representation on the ballot in November.  “The Special Committee for Democratic Renewal has put forth this proposal for a plebiscite. There are five options on the ballot, two of which are proportional electoral systems, and three that are majoritarian systems that are similar to the current system where a minority of people can elect a majority government, which, to us, is an unfair, false majority,” she said.

They require upwards of 300 volunteers to be organized in teams in five regions across the province to ensure the majority of people have the opportunity to learn about the benefits of their desired voting system.

Originally from Australia, Keenan also lived in Europe before moving to P.E.I.  “I was shocked in both elections last year to see how important strategic voting is in Canada. People feel they can’t vote for the party they really want to because it could risk their worst nightmare gets elected,” she said.   “Regardless of what party you support here, proportional representation systems can help stabilize the government, so there’s not a major swing every 10 years from red to blue and back.”

Keenan said this plebiscite will be different from the one in 2005 as more people are educating themselves on the issue, and it’s at the top of government’s agenda this year.   “A lot of Islanders are ready for change on this.”

May 10, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Sorry about the broken link yesterday for the petition regarding enhanced beehive surveillance for keeping small hive beetles out of P.E.I.
More information and the correct link:
https://www.change.org/p/the-minister-of-agriculture-for-prince-edward-island-keep-the-bees-of-pei-free-from-small-hive-beetle

-----------------------
The P.E.I. Legislature resumes sitting for the week, today from 2-5PM and 7-9PM.  The budget estimates for various departments for 2016-2017 are still being gone through, the Education Act is still being discussed, there is still to discuss the Report of the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, etc.  Lots of work to do, and chances to visit the Gallery to watch the proceedings in person.
Watch Live here

If you want to read what happened in the Legislature but not the actual transcript (Hansard), there is the Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, the "official record of what happens in the legislature during a session".  It is basically the Clerk's notes on the day.
It's filed each day and findable in the same calendar format as other House Records.  So much on the Legislative Assembly website! and very tidily organized.
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/journal/index.php

-------------------------------------
Saturday, May 14th:
Volunteer Garden Party, 2-6PM
, Farm Centre Legacy Garden, 420 University Avenue, all welcome.
"This will be a wonderful way to meet and get to know your fellow community gardeners. We hope to make these volunteer garden parties a regular part of our calendar throughout the season, with community plantings, 'weedings', harvests, and barbecues to come! Even if you don't have a plot in our garden, please come to help out and learn more about what our plans are for this summer."


Regarding the Education Act (Bill No.26), here is an interesting opinion piece in yesterday's newspaper, by a gentleman who regularly comments on educational issues, Don Glendenning.

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/2016-05-09/article-4523305/Minister-makes-all-decisions/1

Minister makes all decisions - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, May 9th, 2016

It is a schools’ act, not an education act, and there is a difference

I read the new Education Act last weekend; I urge others to do the same.  It sets a framework for school operation during the next few years; based on my reading, the focus appears to be on efficiency rather than effectiveness.

First, the Act is misnamed; it is a schools act not an education act, and there is a difference. It appears that the government believes that all education, or at least the education government is interested in, occurs only in schools; hopefully, some of the advisory councils will convince them otherwise. 

One would have expected an “Education Act” to define education; one would also expect a teacher to be defined by what teachers do rather than the “folded paper” they carry.  While it makes sense for principals to come from the teaching ranks it should not be a requirement: the Catholic school system in Australia no longer requires that that all principals have been teachers, and I’ve read about small schools that organize more like professional offices than traditional schools. Having flexibility is important.

It is generally thought that schooling works best when teachers have the knowledge and autonomy to create appropriate learning experiences for children in their care.  In fact, the OECD, the initiator of PISA testing, found that students perform better when their schools have autonomy in everyday decision making, including some autonomy for allocating funds; my own experience supports that view.  The Act, however, appears to reserve all decision-making for the Minister; good management practice delegates decision making much further down the line.

While agreeing that teachers should encourage “students in their pursuit of learning”, I find it hard to square that statement with stories by students of sitting in class day in and day out while work they have already mastered is explained to others, of students who at one time were eligible for “exemptions” but, in spite of Dean Goddard’s recommendation, no longer have that option, and of young people being counselled into lower level courses rather than being provided the extra bit of help needed, as Finland has found possible. Minor as these appear, such simple steps would serve notice to students that the system does have their interests at heart.

While the government of the day did not create current educational conditions, government is the only body with the wherewithal to correct them; we’re still waiting.

Don Glendenning of Charlottetown spent his career in education

May 9, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Webinar today: Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Draft, 1:30PM, on-line.
"The Sustainable Development Office at Environment and Climate Change Canada is organizing a webinar to inform Canadians on the draft 2016-2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and to get feedback and suggestions. The webinar will be held Monday, May 9th, at 1:30 pm.
"If you are interested in learning more about what the federal government is doing with regards to creating clean jobs, taking action on climate change, and protecting our environment and the population, you don’t want to miss this!
For more information or to register, please contact: ec.bdd-sdo.ec@canada.ca "
Thanks to Tony Reddin for passing that on.
The strategy is found here: http://fsds-sfdd.ca/
**Not sure if that is 1:30PM our time, or Eastern and it'll be 2:30PM for us -- am checking.


The Island beekeeper who wrote the opinion piece about importation of more honeybees for pollination purposes and concerns about Small Hive Beetles being introduced to P.E.I. has also started a petition to be sent to the Agriculture Minister.  The link is here:
Change.org petition
and is asking:

"The best way to deal with small hive beetle is not to let it in to PEI, which is an island province that we can protect if we have the will.  The blueberry growers are desperate for pollinators and the government has invested heavily in this sector.  But if the government is going to let bees in from an infected region of Ontario, then we the people who are signing this petition ask it to amend the protocol so that if small hive beetles are found in a hive coming in for pollination then ALL the hives that came in on that truckload together and are potentially contaminated will be destroyed.  This will help prevent small hive beetle from spreading, and it will make the owners of the hives vigilant in not sending hives to PEI that they are not certain are SHB free.  It also won't cost the PEI government anything and will not prevent the entry of pollinators for the blueberry growers."

-----------------
"If bees disappeared off the face of the earth, man would have only four years left to live."
-- Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), Belgian author and essayist

May 8, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who nurture others, and who tend for the Earth.

Here is about a minute of animal mothers (thanks to this wonderful protector of Mother Nature, Cathy Grant): 
"Celebrating Mother Nature" video from Love Nature YouTube channel.

And a repeat posting of the fierce beauty of Conservation International's "Julia Nature is Mother Nature" video.
----
Here is a wonderful column from Guardian writer Margaret Prouse, who has graciously granted me permission to pass along, and you are welcome to do so, too. It is purely poignant; and then (perhaps after you dab your eyes) there is a tasty, practical recipe at the end.

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Living/2016-05-05/article-4519596/Making-the-most-of-Mothers-Day/1

Making the Most of Mother's Day - The Guardian article by Margaret Prowse

Published on Thursday, May 5th, 2016

From good food to gifts from the heart, there are many ways to honour moms

What do mothers really want on Mother's Day?

Flowers and candy, right?

Maybe if you could interview a big sample of mothers, and get them to be candid and honest - anonymity would be required- you'd hear about flowers and candy, though some of the other answers might surprise you.

New, first-time moms might want the gift of a little less advice about baby care and child rearing from every corner and possibly a meal that she doesn't have to prepare or clean up.

Some moms with young children and old parents may want to spend a quiet day devoid of all responsibilities. They might like to be with the people they care for, but with someone else doing the caregiving so that they could enjoy the fun and conversation.

Although they wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, those whose lives are particularly hectic and full of caregiving and other responsibilities might think that a little excursion for coffee and dessert all by themselves would be the best Mother's Day gift possible.

Moms whose kids have left home might wish for a return to the bustle and confusion on Mother's Day or a visit with the wandering offspring either in person or through technology.

These are not so much gifts that you can buy in a store, but in one way or another, they are gifts of time. I speak with confidence when I say that gifts of time, while sometimes difficult to muster, make a difference in people's lives.

I have been the recipient of many such gifts. When I speak to one of my kids on the phone or sit down to a meal my husband has prepared or chat with a friend who has brought a bouquet of flowers or bite into a muffin still warm from my neighbour's oven, I am receiving a gift of someone's time.

Having lived the life of a busy person, a parent, worker, volunteer, I know how hard it is to find the time to do one more thing. That very fact makes the gift of someone's time precious.

However, in truth almost every gift is a gift of time, in one way or another. A purchased gift represents the time worked to earn the money to buy it, plus the time and thought required to choose, wrap and deliver it. A card, an email, extravagant jewels, beautiful clothing, a succulent meal: whatever the gift, they're all gifts of time. There is no one Mother's Day gift to top them all. Any gift that enhances the closeness between mother and child or grandchild is the perfect gift.

When families are near enough to get together for a few hours on Mother's Day, food is often involved. It can be anything from a cup of tea and a bag of purchased cookies to a casual brunch at a restaurant to a full-on family dinner.

It's nice to be able to prepare at least part of the menu in advance if you are hosting a Mother's Day meal. The flavours blend nicely when this salad is made the day before it's served.

Look for couscous, a tiny pasta, in the bulk food store, or in large grocery stores.

Sandra's Curried Couscous, Chickpea and Cranberry Salad

250 mL (1 cup) chicken stock
250 mL (1 cup) couscous
2 mL (½ tsp) curry powder
175 mL (¾ cup) canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
75 mL ( ¼ cup) dried cranberries
50 mL ( 1/4 cup) chopped green onions
50 mL ( 1/4 cup) diced sweet red peppers
50 mL ( 1/4 cup) chopped fresh basil
Dressing:
15 mL (1 tbsp) olive oil
25 mL (2 tbsp) orange juice concentrate
25 mL (2 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
10 mL (2 tsp) grated orange rind
45 mL (3 tbsp) liquid honey
5 mL (1 tsp) minced garlic
Bring stock to a boil and stir in couscous and curry powder. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and cool.
Stir chickpeas, cranberries, green onions, red peppers and basil into cooled couscous.
To make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange juice concentrate, lemon juice, orange rind, honey and garlic.
Pour over couscous mixture; toss to coat.

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at margaret@islandgusto.com.

May 7, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Farmers' Markets in Summerside (9AM to 1PM)is open today, as are the Charlottetown Farmers' Market (9AM-2PM), and the Farmers Market & Delights (9AM-2PM) at the Charlottetown Farm Centre are open today.  The last one is no longer charging admission for shoppers.

----
Proportional Representation Action Team Kick-off, 2PM onward, Emerald Community Centre, free.  Those interesting in finding out more about Proportional Representation (PR) are welcome to attend. Discussion and planning followed by a potluck and music. Should be a lot of fun!    Facebook event details. 
------------------
In Tuesday's Guardian, there was this opinion piece (below) and the next day there was this  CBC story with a representative from the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture defending the inspection program.

Original opinion piece in the newspaper:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-05-03/article-4517180/Save-P.E.I.%26rsquo%3Bs-bees/1

Save P.E.I.’s bees - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Stan Sandler

Published on Tuesday, March 3rd 

Island government’s safety measures “a joke” to protect hives from beetle

While around the world there is a strong awareness growing about the importance of pollinators and the need to protect and nurture them, the P.E.I. government is continuing on a path towards crippling our honeybees with more exotic diseases. 

Having already gutted our Bee Health Regulations and allowed in the tracheal mite, it is now set to import another serious honeybee pest - the small hive beetle - this spring when it imports beehives for blueberry pollination from the Niagara region of Ontario. 

Ontario has had small hive beetle (SHB) in the counties joining the U.S. in the Windsor area for several years now and they have been under quarantine and not allowed to move out of the area. But now SHB are in the other area next to the U.S., the Niagara region, but P.E.I. is still going to allow imports from that area, albeit with small Mickey Mouse inspection requirements. 

Hives will not be permitted from any apiary location where SHB is known, but they will still be permitted from other locations from a beekeeping operation that has a positive yard, even though a SHB expert brought in by the province to talk to beekeepers about managing SHB admitted that these would be high risk hives given the normal transfer of equipment between yards in a beekeeping operation. Even within Ontario there are controls on the movement of those hives from the Niagara region but P.E.I. is going to allow them in.

The SHB expert had graphs in his presentation showing that June is the main month that the SHB larvae come out of the beehive and go into the ground to pupate and then fly and spread. June is blueberry pollination time.

Only a small amount of these hives will be inspected in Ontario for SHB, most of the inspection will be done in P.E.I. (after it may be too late).

The protocol said that if a positive hive was found it would be destroyed.  After complaints this was changed to the whole pallet of beehives (which are usually touching) would be destroyed.  But on the truck coming from Ontario to PEI all the beehives are almost touching and really it only makes sense to destroy the whole load. 

The province replied that a load of bees was worth nearly $200,000 dollars and it couldn't do that.  But, the damage to the local bees and beekeepers will be far higher than that and if the blueberry / bee operation sending bees is so unsure of being SHB free that it won't risk that, then it is too high risk.

If the only consequences of introducing SHB is destruction of a pallet of bees then it is in the best interests of the importers to get the SHB into PEI and be done with all the inspection problems which cost far more than that.

P.E.I. has already come out with a program entitled "Funding Levels for Biosecurity Measures to Minimize Impact of SHB." They sure seem to be admitting that they are not serious about keeping them out. These measures are a joke. 

Even though they say that it will be necessary to extract harvested honey combs within one to two days to prevent sliming and fermentation they have cut any funding for high volume honey extraction equipment from the program (too expensive). 

Wake up P.E.I. government and smell the flowers, save the bees.

-  Stan Sandler is the largest private beekeeper on the Maritimes and owns a third of all hives in operation on P.E.I.

May 6, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today: 

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM to 1PM today, and at 1:45 is a meeting of the Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges, Committee Room of the J. Angus MacLean Building (corner of Great George and Richmond Streets, the door is right were the horse-drawn carriage would park).  This committee often meets in camera or in private, but this meeting is open to the public. The topic is:

The committee will consider the prima facie breach of privilege as referred to it by the Legislative Assembly on April 26, 2016, including any suggested impropriety on the part of the Speaker that may reflect unfavourably on the Office of the Speaker or the customs and practices that attach to that Office or the Legislative Assembly.

By the way, prima facie is Latin for "at first sight", as in something being presumed "unless disproved or rebutted".  (I had to look it up.)

More on the committee's page in the Legislative Assembly website: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/committees/getCommittees.php?cnumber=22

Jamie Fox, leader of the Opposition, wrote a very informative op-ed piece published in this morning's Guardian (the text isn't available yet) about the situation and today's meeting.


Tomorrow, Saturday, May 7th:

Proportional Representation Action Team first meeting, 2PM onward, Emerald Community Centre, all welcome. Facebook event notice

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Some not-so-usual notices: Two Citizens' Alliance Board members (Catherine O'Brien and Doug Millington) have beautiful music events coming up:

Saturday, March 7th:
An Afternoon of Memories at the Mount, 1PM, The Mount, Mt. Edward Road. $10 at the door.  Don Fraser and Catherine O'Brien will perform jazz standards and some classic country, folk and blues.

Sunday, March 8th:
Slideshow Trombone Quartet, 2:30PM
, Kirk of St. James, Ch'town. Admission by donation.  "The group will perform works by Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Wagner and more in a concert expected to last about an hour. Admission is by donation. The group consists of Daniel MacDonald, Steven Giddings, Zachary Bernard and Doug Millington."

Wednesday, March 11th:

Jon Rehder and Friends at the Haviland Club, featuring Catherine O'Brien. Set by Jon about 8PM, Catherine joining a little while later. I think it's admission by donation.


And to fill in a gap in not much local coverage of what's going on in the skies at night, here is Island amateur astronomer Glenn Roberts' column for May:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Living/2016-05-04/article-4518402/Mars-at-its-best-since-2005/1

Mars at Its Best Since 2005 - The Guardian article by Glenn K. Roberts

Also, watch for the Eta Aquarids, peaking in the pre-dawn skies of May 5, 6

Published on Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Get your telescopes, binoculars and cameras ready.

On May 22, the red planet reaches opposition (directly opposite the sun as seen from Earth) and will appear at is largest and brightest since 2005. Then on May 30, Mars makes its closest approach to Earth since 2005.

Though the distance between Mars and Earth at opposition (about every two years and 50 days) normally varies between 206.6 million kms and 249.2 million kms, this time around, they will be separated by a mere 75.3 million kms.

Mars, shining at mag. -1.5, rises in the east around 10 p.m. at the beginning of May. By opposition on May 22, when it will be visible from dusk until dawn, it has increased in brightness to mag. -2.1 (70 per cent brighter than on May 1).

During the last week of May, look for Mars above the SSE as the sky darkens. Mars sits between the outstretched claws of Scorpius - the Scorpian. You will have no difficulty identifying it by its ruddy colour. Just to the lower left of Mars, you'll spot Antares, the heart-star of Scorpius. Antares actually means rival of Mars, due to its reddish colour. When you look at Mars, also have a look at Antares and compare their different shades of red. If you've never seen Mars through a telescope or binoculars, wait until around midnight, when Mars will be at its highest point in the night sky; you won't be disappointed.

Saturn joins Mars (and Antares) in the early evening sky this month, rising in the SE about 30 minutes after the Red Planet. Look for Saturn (mag. 0.2) to the lower left of Mars, and slightly to the upper left of Antares. Saturn's magnificent ring system is tilted favourably towards our line of sight this month. Saturn, heading towards its opposition in the first week of June, slowly brightens this month from mag. 0.2 to 0.0, second only to Mars in brightness in this part of the sky. Saturn's golden-yellow hue contrasts nicely with the ruddy colours of Mars and Antares.

As twilight fades to dark, Jupiter becomes visible in the south, about two thirds of the way up to the zenith (the point in the sky directly overhead). This mighty planet begins May shining at mag. -2.3, but fades dramatically to mag. 0.2 by month's end, as it slowly pulls away from Earth in its orbit around the Sun.

Mercury reaches inferior conjunction this month, when it passes between the Earth and the sun.

Our solar system's innermost planet will transit (pass in front of) the sun on May 9 and be lost from sight.

It reappears as a morning object late in the month, when it will be visible low in the east just before dawn. Mercury will climb higher in the pre-dawn sky and brighten in June.

The Eta Aquarids (radiant in Aquarius - the Water Bearer) peak in the pre-dawn skies of May 5 and 6. This meteor shower, debris from the famous Comet Halley, will be visible throughout the remainder of the month, though the numbers of visible meteors will diminish considerably after the peak dates. Aquarius should be well above the ESE horizon by about 4 a.m.

The new moon (May 6, 4:30 p.m.) will not interfere with this year's display. From a dark site, expect to see 10-20 meteors per hour, with the pre-dawn of May 6 perhaps the better of the two predicted peak dates.

May's full moon on May 21 is sometimes referred to as the Flower Moon, since many flowers begin to appear in May, as well as the Corn Planting Moon by the early settlers, since farmers often begin to plant their corn during this month.

Until next month, clear skies.


Events (ADT):

May 5-6 - Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks; pre-dawn

May 6 - Moon at perigee (closest to Earth); 1:13 a.m.

May 6 - New moon; 4:30 p.m.

May 9 - Mercury at inferior conjunction; transits the sun

May 13 - First quarter moon; 2:02 p.m.

May 18 - Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth); 7:06 p.m.

May 21 - Full Flower/Corn Planting moon; 6:14 p.m.

May 22 - Mars at opposition; 8 a.m.

May 29 - Last quarter moon; 9:12 a.m.

May 30 - Mars closest to Earth; 7 p.m.

- 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 on the first Wednesday of each month. He welcomes comments from readers, and anyone who would like to do so is encouraged to email him at glennkroberts@gmail.com.

May 5, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The P.E.I. Legislature sits today from 2-5PM and 7-9PM.  Watch it here at the Legislative Assembly website.
Yesterday, the Premier and other MLAs made touching comments about Fort McMurray's fire situation, sending our support.  The latter section of the afternoon was spent in a Committee of the Whole House, with Opposition members trying to decipher structure of the councils and other details in the the new Education Act (Bill No. 26, found here); one line of questioning was how it works that the Premier co-chairs one council which is to provide advice to the Premier.

To help understand the new structure, MLA Brad Trivers (District 18:Rustico-Emerald) posted this graphic on his website a few months ago.

screenshot of new structure of education
The MLAs are still debating the bill.

Also, the striking workers from the Charlottetown Canadian Blood Services centre visited the Legislature before the sitting and sat in the Gallery during the afternoon.  District 5: Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward (and others in the PC Caucus) have been following their situation and bringing their concerns to the Legislature for months.  Health Minister Robbie Henderson during Question Period said he couldn't interfere, but did sympathize with their concerns.
One of the workers main concern is being guaranteed some sort of regular hours -- what frustrating situation this must be for them, almost 300 days into a strike.  (If you remember, by contrast, the CEO of Canadian Blood Services makes three-quarters of a million dollars annually as salary.)

More information from the workers union page.
And a Facebook page to stay informed and show support.

May 4, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A year ago today, we voted in our provincial election, and with the results by the end of the night looking like this:


screenshot from ElectionsPEI, showing general results from the 2015 Provincial Election, and for the first five Districts (note tie in District 5: Stratford-Vernon River, which was settled by a coin toss in favour of Liberal Alan McIsaac).
from:http://www.electionspei.ca/provincial/historical/results/2015/
-------------------------------------

And our Island looks like this political-party-wise:
District 17 (Kellys Cross-Cumberland) elected Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker, who is now called the Leader of the Third Party in the Legislature.  This is great, it really, really is, and Bevan-Baker's presence (like Herb Dickieson's representation a decade ago), has changed our Assembly for the better.
----
And that was just with one candidate from a third party able to win a District in a First Past the Post system.
If the representatives reflected the actual popular vote, instead of 1(Green), 0(NDP), 1(Green), 8(PC) and 18(Liberal), it would have been:
Screenshot from "LEGO my vote", a voting systems information site.

Results would have been:  3(Green), 3(NDP), 10(PC), 11(Lib) would have been the results if they reflected how Islanders actually voted.

A voting system based on Proportional Representation (PR) could make things more accurate, and with all the benefits of more accurate representation.

If you are interested in learning more and offering some time to (as Elizabeth May said) educate, energize and mobilize people to consider voting for a PR system in what will likely be November's plebiscite, you are more than welcome to attend the "Action Team" meeting Saturday, May 7th:
If your time is limited that day, come anyway.

(edited) from a social media posting:
PR Action Team Campaign Kickoff
This Saturday, May 7 in Emerald.

Starting at 2pm, and finishing with music, drinks and a potluck dinner around 6:30 or 7.

The event is nonpartisan (or perhaps, 'multipartisan'), and is going to be a whole lot of fun.

Together, we'll go over the basics of why proportional representation is important, share our campaign strategies, and practice how we will talk about PR with the 'general public' of PEI. We'll also invite you to share your creative campaign ideas, and form local action groups with other people from your region.

You can register by joining our Facebook event, or if you're not on Facebook, register here or contact Anna: anna..c.keenan@gmail.com or (902) 978 1178.

Tea/Coffee/Snacks will be provided, but bring a plate for the potluck if you can!
On-site childcare and carpooling can be arranged upon request. 

------------------------------
Do more than belong: participate.
Do more than care: help.
Do more than believe: practice.
Do more than be fair: be kind.
Do more than forgive: forget.
Do more that dream: work.
--William Arthur Ward, 20th Century American inspirational author

May 3, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Events coming up:
Tonight:
Lecture: "The PEI Spider Project", by Caleb Harding,NaturePEI monthly meeting, 7PM
, Beaconsfield Carriage House, West. and Kent Streets, Charlottetown.
All welcome.  More details: https://naturepei.ca/

Movie: Tunnit: Retracing Lines of Inuit Tattoos, Cinema Politica movie, 7PM, St. Paul's Anglican (church hall, entrance at 101 Prince Street), admission by  donation.  Facebook event info.
------------------------------
Saturday, May 7th:
Proportional Representation Action Team meeting, 2PM,
Emerald Community Centre, 1910 Nodd Road, Emerald.
Facebook event details


Today the P.E.I. Legislature resumes sitting, 2-5PM and 7-9PM.  Same times Thursday, with Wednesday just the afternoon (2-5PM), and Friday morning (10AM to 1PM).
There are probably a couple of weeks left, at least -- still much of the provincial operating budget to go through, some Bills and Motions.
Bills, motions and links to the budget are here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/
and that includes the "Watch Live" function.
The PDF of the budget is here, if you wish to look through it:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/budget/


A very thoughtful letter from the diligent Alan MacPhee about rural health concerns and a new development:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2016-04-30/article-4513943/P.E.I.-government-politicizing-community-hospital-foundations/1

P.E.I. government politicizing community hospital foundations - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Alan E. MacPhee

Published on Saturday, April 30th

For the first time in the history of P.E.I., the government is attempting to politicize community hospital foundations. The province has introduced appointed regional advisory boards that propose to include hospital foundations as members. Appointed advisory boards are simply more of the same - ineffective political layers. However to include community hospital foundations is a significant development.

Hospital foundations have always been well supported across P.E.I. and in large part that is due to their focus on local hospitals and being removed from politics. If Premier Wade MacLauchlan is to have his way, this is to be no more – hospital foundations will become part of the political wrangle. Politicizing the function of the hospital foundations will jeopardize public support for the foundations.

Tyne Valley had a substantial amount of funds in their foundation when the hospital was closed. The province is jeopardizing the fundraising ability of the community hospital foundations by involving them in the political process.

The four community hospitals serve 25 per cent of the population of P.E.I. and do so on a volunteer basis. Yet Summerside and Charlottetown have paid staff, funded courtesy of the province – rural discrimination once again. Just as was done with the elimination of local hospital boards, it is probable that the centrists view this as the first step to amalgamate all hospital foundations into East and West foundations. The centrists are terrified by the thought of local people making decisions. The centrists will only be happy with it all. This must be resisted because it isn’t working and it isn’t fair.

Islandwide Hospital Access believes that community hospital foundations, their directors and their communities should refuse to be part of the appointed centralization process offered by the province. Local hospital foundations should remain focused on being local hospital foundations. If the province really wants community input it should restructure the Department of Health, and create elected community hospital boards with budgets and responsibilities.

We are not mystified that the centrists are not supportive of elected boards but it is worrisome in a democratic country that tightly controlled, ideology driven cliques are being sold as effective and notions of elected representation are being spoken of as radical views. We can do better.

Alan E. MacPhee is chairman of Islandwide Hospital Access.

May 2, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The event with Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, yesterday in Victoria was entertaining and informative.  It was not really a "rally" -- no signs, no chanting or songs from the crowd -- more of a wonderful talk with questions and answers afterwards.  Elizabeth acknowledged and encourgaed the non-partisan nature of the push for electoral reform, and even admitted she would prefer in some ways that there were no political parties.

Here are some blurry photos from the middle of the audience:

Anna Keenan moderates questions with Elizabeth May, Sunday, May 1st, 2016, Victoria Playhouse.

Leo Cheverie and a fast moving Elizabeth May, after the talk, Sunday, May 1st, 2016, Victoria Playhouse.
---------------------
Elizabeth May took the handout at the event that explained Proportional Representation (PR) and added a fifth reason on why PR is important:
  • provides all citizens a real opportunity to elect a candidate according to their values, instead of creating pressure to "vote strategically"
  • reflects the choice of voters without producing skewed results, like false majorities and exaggerated regional divisions
  • produces a more diverse, inclusive, and representative parliament
  • increases voter turnout and engagement
  • and she added: it encourages cooperation, not the way it is now of pressure NOT to cooperate

She also reflected and proposed that P.E.I. could lead the nation, and she said she was here to, and hoped we would all:  educate, energize and mobilize to improve our voting systems.


Some events this week:
Tonight:
Movie: The Messenger, 7PM
, City Cinema, admission charged.  Last night to see this movie about declining bird populations and what this means. Apparently with beautiful photography.  More info: http://citycinema.net/

Tuesday, May 3rd:
Seed-saving "Train the Trainer" workshop, 3-5PM. For more info see Facebook event or e-mail <josie@cooperinstitute.ca> or call (902) 894-4573
there is also an advanced seed-saving workshop all day Wednesday.

Movie: First People, First Scenes Series #3, Tunnit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos, 7PM, St Pauls Anglican, 101 Prince Street
Please join Cinema Politica Charlottetown for the third in the series "First Peoples, First Screens", which showcases contemporary Indigenous political filmmaking from across Canada. The films, which include documentary, animation, and experimental genres, provide a platform to discuss Indigenous art, culture, politics, history and struggle. We are very pleased that Eliza Knockwood, a Mi'kmaq fillmmaker from Abegweit First Nation, will introduce the film and facilitate the discussion afterwards. Facebook event details.

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A wry letter from a couple of weeks ago; Maritime Connections talked about panhandlers on their broadcast yesterday (page link, here):

Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Posted on Saturday, April 9th, 2016, on-line at: https://irishroversbooks.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/buddy-can-you-spare-a-dime/
It was also in The Guardian, but I can't find it on-line. (I edited it slightly for punctuation.)

The city council of Charlottetown are intent on ridding the city streets of young beggars, people that panhandle for money. At the same time they give themselves a large pay raise and hire Peter Kelly as the new CAO for the city. Kelly comes with a history of some very questionable acts of conduct. But hey, first things first, get rid of the panhandlers!!
Then we have the Provincial government, they are generous to a fault eh?? Poor old Homburg need a loan. Probably one of his private jets needed an oil change. No problem says Ghiz, how's about around 40 million, will that tide you over?   No need to worry though, the present deputy premier* defended this loan. he tells us he spent time on treasury board whilst in the Ghiz government and any loans that came through,  were given due diligence. He is quite sure this is the case with the Homburg loan! So no need for us little people to worry. Remember the deputy premier (Alan McIsaac) was elected by the toss of a coin. Plus, we really should be grateful to Homburg, didn’t he recently donate one million dollars of our money to the Confederation Centre so they could re-name it the Homburg Theatre? So, folks, let's not be petty, let's pay attention to the things that are important and rid the streets of our capitol city of panhandlers.  My only question, do we start with the young panhandlers on street corners or do we go after the big time panhandlers in municipal and provincial government.

F. Ben Rodgers,
Abrams Village

*(I think he means Government House Leader)

May 1, 2016

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Happy May Day, with all its various meanings and celebrations, including....

.... honouring workers all over the world.  Community organizer and labour activist Mary Harris Jones (1837-1930), who went by the name Mother Jones, picked May 1st as her birthday.
She inspired the publication that bears her name (http://www.motherjones.com/) and one of her many famous quotes is:

     "I asked the newspaper men why they didn't publish the facts about child labor in Pennsylvania.  They said they couldn't because the mill owners had stock in the papers.
    "Well, I've got stock in these little children," said I, "and I'll arrange a little publicity." 
-- Mary Harris "Mother" Jones

An interesting biography is here on the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (ACL-CIO)'s website. Born in Ireland, and emigrating due to the Irish potato famine, she attended school in Ottawa before moving to be a teacher and dressmaker in the States. (And thanks to Viki Gregory for reminding us of her contributions.)

....May Day celebrations in various parts of the Island, with people welcoming Spring in their communities with May Poles and ribbons.  There is one in a community that may be affected by plans for power poles and ribbons of high voltage wires, and I hope they have a great day enjoying each other's company and nurturing their community.
And it's the traditional start of lobster season; best wishes to all involved, with safe days and decent prices for the fishers.

....and Elizabeth May (MP for Gulf Saanich Island) was on P.E.I. a year ago, to boost support for the provincial Green Party candidates.  Today, she is here again, for the Green Party of PEI annual general meeting at 2:30PM in Clyde River at the Riverview Community Centre, (all are welcome, but of course only members in good standing can vote).

Before that, at 1PM, is a non-partisan rally about proportional representation, and how P.E.I. could "lead the Nation" on electoral reform.  It's at Victoria Playhouse in Victoria, west of Charlottetown off the TCH.
Admission is charged to "pay for the venue and other costs associated with the Rally."  There are still some tickets remaining - here is the link for tickets.
She is a great speaker and any chance to hear her is a good time.
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