CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

November 2018


  1. 1 November 30, 2018
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 1.2 DME: Fairness and Openness needed
    3. 1.3 Province needs a plan to keep rural businesses on the map
  2. 2 November 28, 2018
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 2.2 OPINION: New global development paradigm - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Dr. Pananisamy Nagrajan
  3. 3 November 27, 2018
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 3.2 Climate-Change Denial - The New York Times  article by Paul Krugman
  4. 4 November 26, 2018
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 4.2 P.E.I. Opposition MLA tables amendments to Municipal Government Act - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby
  5. 5 November 25, 2018
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 5.2 U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy - The New York Times article by Coral Davenport and Kendra Pierre-Louis
    3. 5.3 How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet - The New Yorker article by Bill McKIbben
  6. 6 November 24, 2018
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 6.2 Opinion: Is there a conservative case against the carbon tax? Not really - The Calgary Herald article by Jim Farney
  7. 7 November 23, 2018
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 7.2 Think few reported oiled seabirds is good news? Not so fast, says MUN biologist - CBC News online article
  8. 8 November 22, 2018
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 8.2 LETTER: Estate managers for boardrooms - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  9. 9 November 21, 2018
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 9.2 RUSSELL WANGERSKY: Science that should surprise no one - The Guardian column by Russell Wangersky
  10. 10 November 20, 2018
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 10.2 Excluding the public from the public interest - The Guardian Letter of the Day
    3. 10.3 LETTER: Story misses essential point - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  11. 11 November 19, 2018
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 11.2 Poor weather prompts temporary shutdown of all N.L. offshore rigs - CBC News online article by Malone Mullin
    3. 11.3 Arctic Oil Drilling Project Approved by Trump Administration - EcoWatch article by Lorraine Chow
  12. 12 November 18, 2018
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 12.2 Could Liberals go back to the future? - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
  13. 13 November 17, 2018
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 13.2 Gallant's regrets turn to successes in 'jaded' Liberal leader's farewell - CBC News on-line article by Jacques Poitras
  14. 14 November 16, 2018
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 14.2 Cavendish Farms denies secret meetings; proposes independent study of high-capacity wells for P.E.I. - The Guardian article by Ryan Ross
  15. 15 November 15, 2018
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 15.2 Robert Irving Buys $11.5-Million Florida Estate Near Bill Gates and Billy Joel - The Huddle article by Mark Leger
    3. 15.3 OPINION: Throes of addiction - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Gary Schneider
    4. 15.4 Gary Schneider to receive Mentor Award Nov. 21 - The Guardian online article by Sally Cole
  16. 16 November 14, 2018
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 16.2 Russell Wangersky: Feeling the chill - The Guardian column by Russell Wangersky
  17. 17 November 13, 2018
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 17.2 OPINION: The final straw - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Joan Diamond
  18. 18 November 12, 2018
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 18.2 OPINION: The rush to amalgamate - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Wayne Carver
  19. 19 November 11, 2018
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 19.2 Horgan, Wilkinson spar in debate as fate of B.C.'s electoral system hangs in the balance - The Globe and Mail article by Ian Bailey
    3. 19.3 EXCLUSIVE: P.E.I. Opposition won’t support Gerard Mitchell as referendum commissioner - The Guardian article by Jim Day
  20. 20 November 10, 2018
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  21. 21 November 9, 2018
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 21.2 The Best and Worst Midterm Results for the Environment - EcoWatch article by Olivia Rosane
    3. 21.3 EDITORIAL: Industry in peril - The Guardian Editoral by Bill McGuire
    4. 21.4 OPINION: An agricultural dictator - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Weale
  22. 22 November 8, 2018
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 22.2 LETTER: P.E.I. will be under water - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  23. 23 November 7, 2018
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 23.2 Carbon tax manoeuvers miss bigger question  - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
  24. 24 November 6, 2018
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 24.2 Blaine Higgs set to resurrect debate over shale-gas development - CBC News article by Elizabeth Fraser
    3. 24.3 What Happened When Fracking Came to Town - New York Times Book Review by JoAnn Wypijewski
  25. 25 November 3, 2018
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  26. 26 November 2, 2018
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 26.2 Statement by Office of the Third Party in Response to Government Surplus - by MLA Hannah Bell, Finance Critic for the Third Party
    3. 26.3 from Thursday, November 1st, 2018
  27. 27 November 1, 2018
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 27.2 Don't despair: the climate fight is only over if you think it is - The Guardian UK article by Rebecca Solnit

November 30, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM-1PM today.
Legislative Assembly website

Fall Irish Lecture Series -- Susan Brown on: Irish Women, the Vote, and Civil Rights, 7:30PM, Benevolent Irish Society Hall, 528 North River Road.  "2018 marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, granting the vote to some British and Irish women. In December of 2018 (editor:  presumably 1918), Constance Markievicz, a veteran rebel of the 1916 Rising, became the first woman to be elected as a Member of Parliament. This talk will discuss the Irish campaign for votes for women and its aftermath. Were the 'civil liberty, equal rights, and equal opportunities' promised to all Irishmen and Irishwomen by the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic realized in the newly independent Irish Free State?  Dr. Susan Brown is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Prince Edward Island where she teaches modern British and Irish History.
Facebook series event listing

moved from last night to Monday, December 3rd:
Book Launch: Flax Americana: A History of the Fibre and Oil that Covered a Continent, 7-9PM, Upstreet Craft Brewing, 41 Allen Street, Charlottetown. adapted from the event description:  " the author and hear some brief remarks about a new hemispheric history of capitalism. By UPEI professor, Joshua MacFadyen."
MacFadyen recently was co-editor (with Ed MacDonald and Irene Novaczek) of Time and a Place: An Environmental History of Prince Edward Island.
Facebook event link

Tuesday, December 4th:
Nature PEI Meeting and Presentation on Island Orchids by Colin Chapman, 7:30PM (talk starts at 8PM),
Beaconsfield Carriage House, Free. from the notice: "Take a break from the winter weather and learn more about the fascinating array of orchids that are found on PEI with Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre (AC CDC) botanist Colin Chapman. AC CDC has made dozens of exciting botanical discoveries on Prince Edward Island over the last 20 years, including new provincial records of everything from stunning orchids to cryptic sedges! With such an increase in our plant biodiversity knowledge of the Island, we needed an updated flora. To start addressing this need, the PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation, Nature PEI, and the AC CDC partnered in the development of the first section of a new online Flora of PEI. Colin Chapman will talk about the first installment: a fully-illustrated online key to the Orchids of PEI, including diagnostic pictures and distribution maps. 
"Colin is originally from Ottawa, where he made many significant discoveries during biological inventories in the Carolinian and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest zones. He studied at the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto, where he investigated hybridization between Arctic plants."

moved from last night to Thursday, December 6th:
Charlottetown Holiday Craft Market at Knest Studio, 6PM,
15 Cumburhill Court, Unit C (off Mt. Edward Road, by MacAleer Drive). "Enjoy a festive shopping night featuring 20 local art & design artisans, treats, music, and holiday cheer. Come out and support our local makers & creators and get some gifts checked off your list! This is a free-of-charge public event however non-perishable food and household donations for the Food Bank will be accepted at the door." Knest Studios is a new creative community hub in support of local entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Facebook event link

A lot happened in the Legislature in the past two days, storms, electricity or no, and some of us have a lot of catching up to do over the next couple of days....

Island Political Panel on TV, Rick MacLean and Paul MacNeill
Compass (TV)
November 16th, 2018
32 minutes in

November 23rd, 2018 
27 minutes in

-- the CBC Radio Island Morning Political Panels from these two dates, with Paul MacNeill, and political journalists Kathy Large and Stu Neatby, are not easily found but I am trying.  This is too bad as the discussion -- while not as theatrical -- was much more reasonable and informative.

The Current CBC Radio, Tuesday, November 27th, 2018, interview with Bill McKibben of
The Current article:Interview with Bill McKibben, with links to listen to (23 minutes)
and transcript

Some short opinion pieces--

DME: Fairness and Openness needed

by Joe Byrne, published online on Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

It is disturbing to see Diversified Metal Engineering be put into receivership.  At this stage it is unclear what has caused this and what is happening to handle the situation.

   DME has appeared to be a poster industry for Prince Edward Island: innovative, light manufacturing with a small carbon footprint; a smartly chosen niche market, with a reach which literally goes around the world.  It has been a real success, and an important strand in our Island’s economic development.  This enterprise should have a healthy future.

   Disturbing as it is that the company should stumble, our stronger concern now is for the 140 employees and for other workers who may be affected by connection with DME.

   Our hope, naturally, is that the business can be given fresh life so that people can get back to work quickly.  But through whatever legal and commercial intricacies there may be in the process of receivership, we want to see workers treated with fairness and dignity — in recognition of their contribution of skills, energies and loyalty to making the company grow as a source of wealth for the owners and for the province.

   Let us ensure that it is the workers who are first in consideration as settlement arrangements get made.  As we’ve seen when other corporations have failed and cut their losses, it is the workers who are often most vulnerable.

  In this case, though, we see that the public purse is also vulnerable.  It is sensible that the Province consider how to aid the business, which is an asset for PEI.  Our point is that this should not happen behind closed doors.  This is a matter of the employees’ interest, but also of the public interest.  Let us work quickly to see DME sustained, and do so in a responsibly transparent way.


Province needs a plan to keep rural businesses on the map

by Kathy Ehman  Published on Friday, November 23rd, 2018, in The Graphic newspapers

When the CIBC closed its Murray River branch the end of August many local businesses and residents felt betrayed.

Having the bank in the village made it convenient for the owners of the shops clustered together on Main Street to slip up the road for rolls of coins or do daily banking. The ATM machine in the lobby was always accessible and for CIBC customers there were no added withdrawal fees.

The loss was unfortunate but as one village official pointed out, if the branch was making money you can bet CIBC wouldn’t have closed this rural branch.

Sad but true.

Banks may participate or even lead in community projects and they loan people money to invest in community building, but the bottom line is they are tasked with making a profit which can be passed on to investors. Cutting costs by down-sizing buildings and staff is one of the first strategies for companies large and small.

No other bank or credit union has expressed interest in moving into the vacated CIBC building. If one bank can’t make the branch lucrative, it’s doubtful another could make a go of it either.

This fall there are for sale signs on the buildings housing The Old General Store, The Flying Circus (which has taken flight already), The Magic Dragon and Companion Coffee. It has been suggested the recent Points East tourism designation took in too large a bite of Kings County, leaving some communities, Murray River being one, lumped in with too many other tourist destinations. Tourists needed the Island divided up into more bite-sized pieces, as least one tourism operator said, so visitors could set reachable goals for the day’s travel. Local businesses, including some in Murray River, tried to tell TAIPEI the Shores and Beaches designation did just that but they were ignored.

These small businesses and the families that run them and are supported by them keep rural communities vibrant. They’re part of the province’s overall desire to build and maintain populations outside urban centres but to survive, the little guys need every bit as much help in marketing as the Island’s better known tourist attractions.

November 28, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM today.
  You can watch via the link here or on their Facebook page, or attend in person.

Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful Dennis Kings Gives "My Two Cents with Dennis King", 6:30-8PM,
Harmony House, Hunter River. from the event notice: "I want to give you ‘my two cents’ about a new vision for Prince Edward Island. A vision where I will lead a government that is truly collaborative. I want to lead with kindness, compassion, civility, courtesy and respect. I want all of us to work together for a common good."
Facebook event link


Gerald Mitchell has been selected by the Legislative Standing Committee to be the Electoral Reform Commissioner, subject to approval. It sounds like this may be discussed in the Legislature this afternoon.  Mitchell was Supreme Court of P.E.I. Chief Justice for a number of years, and after that, Police Commissioner and more recently, head of both the Commission to redraw the 27 Electoral Boundaries for the next election and the one to draw up a 18-District map that would be used with Mixed Member Proportional Representation.  Here is a stubby little Wikipedia article on Mitchell.

It also sounds like the Legislature will discuss and vote on Joey Jeffrey becoming the next Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.  (I may not have heard the announcement correctly, and apologies for any mistakes.)  Jeffrey works for the Clerk's office now but hasn't been seen clerking Committee meetings or the full Assembly very much.  More to follow.
A recent article:

OPINION: New global development paradigm - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Dr. Pananisamy Nagrajan

Inclusive growth within the planet’s limit, without endangering our very life-supporting ecosystems

Published on Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

With the relentless quest for endless economic growth and prosperity at any cost, humanity's ever-expanding and deepening human footprints have drastically altered the global ecosystems of the planet Earth, which formed about 4.5 billion years ago.

(If) we compress the time scale such that Earth was formed one year ago, the Homo sapiens evolved less than 12 minutes ago, agriculture began a little over one minute ago, the Industrial Revolution took less than two seconds ago, the electronic computer was invented 0.4 seconds ago, and the internet less than 0.1 seconds - [all] in the blink of an eye," observes Dr. Nick Bostrom at the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University.

The human population on Earth did not reach the one billion mark until 1804. But, it skyrocketed from fewer than 2.0 billion people in 1921 to 7.6 billion now and projected to hit 8.6 billion by 2030, 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by the end of this century.

For many centuries, humanity lived in a small world on a big planet with abundant natural resources. "We thought we could exploit minerals, living species, fresh water, land, oil, coal, and natural gas, without ever asking - not seriously, at least - whether infinite growth was possible on a finite planet," says Dr. Johan Rockstrom at the Stockholm Resilience Center. Things have changed. "Now we inhabit a big world - with big [environmental] impacts on a small planet."

Ever since the 1972 UN Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, followed by the 1992 Rio Earth Summit on Environment and Development, the Rio+10 Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), the Rio +20 Conference (2012) with a central theme on green economy and green growth, the environmental problems had received ever-increasing attention. But, the outcome in forestalling the deepening ecological disaster has been abysmal.

The Global Footprint Network has been warning about the burgeoning world's ecological deficits through its Earth Overshoot Day. This year, it fell on August 1st, the earliest Earth Overshoot Day ever. Simply stated, in seven months, we have exhausted a year's worth of Earth’s ecological resources. The global community is using up resources 1.7 times faster than they are being replenished by nature.

The recent OECD report (October 2018), The Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060, estimates that the world's consumption of raw materials (sand, gravel, and crushed rock, metals, coal, limestone, crude, etc.,) would nearly double, rising from 90 Gigatonnes now to 167 Gigatonnes by 2060. The extraction and processing of these raw materials would put enormous pressure on the planet. It would “worsen pollution of air, water, and soils, and contribute significantly to climate change."

At the same time, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its recently released a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C (October 2018) warns that we have just 20 years to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

It urges the world community for "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society." Averting the far-reaching disastrous consequences of global warming would require transforming the world economy in such a way that has "no documented historic precedent," according to the report.

How are we going to transform the world economy and society in such a short time? It is a Herculean task.

The unraveling impact of climate change and its known and unknown threat multiplier is hovering over the global community like the Sword of Damocles.

First, we must acknowledge that the neo-classical economic growth paradigm is the root cause of seemingly insurmountable sustainability and sustainable development enigmas the world is facing. It conflicts with the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, and laws of natural and other physical sciences.

Johan Rockstrom argues that "we need a new framework for development that respects the true functioning of the Earth's climatic, geophysical, atmospheric, and ecological processes [....]"

A new global development paradigm, an inclusive growth within the planet Earth's limit and without endangering the very life-supporting ecosystems for all living beings and the future of humanity, calls for a drastic change in worldviews about our beliefs, values, myths, and our theories, among other things.

- Dr. Palanisamy Nagarajan, Emeritus Professor of Economics & Island Studies Teaching Fellow, University of Prince Edward Island

November 27, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Bill McKibben from is on The Current, 96.1FM CBC Radio, now.  I'll find a link if you can hear it, and it is usually repeated about 8PM.

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM. 
Legislative Assembly website

Joel Saladin's Keynote Address, ACORN Conference, 8-9PM, Delta Hotel.
Tickets are $25.  "Please arrive a few minutes before 8:00 pm to be seated before the keynote begins."  Tickets are through Eventbrite at the link or at the PEI Certified Organic Producers Cooperative office, Farm Centre Suite 110.  Lots of great people associated with the ACORN (Atlantic Canada Organic Regional Network) conference.
Facebook event link

Thursday, November 29th:
Book Launch: Flax Americana: A History of the Fibre and Oil that Covered a Continent, 7-9PM, Upstreet Craft Brewing, 41 Allen Street, Charlottetown. adapted from the event description:  " the author and hear some brief remarks about a new hemispheric history of capitalism. By UPEI professor, Joshua MacFadyen, published by McGill-Queen's University Press in their Rural, Wildland, and Resource Studies series. Copies will be available for purchase at the event from local retailer Bookmark." 
MacFadyen recently was co-editor (with Ed MacDonald and Irene Novaczek) of Time and a Place: An Environmental History of Prince Edward Island.
Facebook event link
Another opinion piece on Climate Change, from Paul Krugman in The New York Times, courtesy of both Island journalist Ian Petrie and Mount Allison professor Bradley Walters.  Even though this is focussing on Republicans in the United States and the U.S. President, Canada is not being a climate leader (understatement) nor addressing climate change with the urgency it requires.  So we will keep brushing aside distractions and calling for action.

Climate-Change Denial - The New York Times  article by Paul Krugman

Risking civilization for profit, ideology and ego.

Published on Monday, November 26th, 2018

The Trump administration is, it goes without saying, deeply anti-science. In fact, it’s anti-objective reality. But its control of the government remains limited; it didn’t extend far enough to prevent the release of the latest National Climate Assessment, which details current and expected future impacts of global warming on the United States.

True, the report was released on Black Friday, clearly in the hope that it would get lost in the shuffle. The good news is that the ploy didn’t work.

The assessment basically confirms, with a great deal of additional detail, what anyone following climate science already knew: Climate change poses a major threat to the nation, and some of its adverse effects are already being felt. For example, the report, written before the latest California disaster, highlights the growing risks of wildfire in the Southwest; global warming, not failure to rake the leaves, is why the fires are getting ever bigger and more dangerous.

But the Trump administration and its allies in Congress will, of course, ignore this analysis. Denying climate change, no matter what the evidence, has become a core Republican principle. And it’s worth trying to understand both how that happened and the sheer depravity involved in being a denialist at this point.

Wait, isn’t depravity too strong a term? Aren’t people allowed to disagree with conventional wisdom, even if that wisdom is supported by overwhelming scientific consensus?

Yes, they are — as long as their arguments are made in good faith. But there are almost no good-faith climate-change deniers. And denying science for profit, political advantage or ego satisfaction is not O.K.; when failure to act on the science may have terrible consequences, denial is, as I said, depraved.

The best recent book I’ve read on all this is “The Madhouse Effect” by Michael E. Mann, a leading climate scientist, with cartoons by Tom Toles. As Mann explains, climate denial actually follows in the footsteps of earlier science denial, beginning with the long campaign by tobacco companies to confuse the public about the dangers of smoking.

The shocking truth is that by the 1950s, these companies already knew that smoking caused lung cancer; but they spent large sums propping up the appearance that there was a real controversy about this link. In other words, they were aware that their product was killing people, but they tried to keep the public from understanding this fact so they could keep earning profits. That qualifies as depravity, doesn’t it?

In many ways, climate denialism resembles cancer denialism. Businesses with a financial interest in confusing the public — in this case, fossil-fuel companies — are prime movers. As far as I can tell, every one of the handful of well-known scientists who have expressed climate skepticism has received large sums of money from these companies or from dark money conduits like DonorsTrust — the same conduit, as it happens, that supported Matthew Whitaker, the new acting attorney general, before he joined the Trump administration.

But climate denial has sunk deeper political roots than cancer denial ever did. In practice, you can’t be a modern Republican in good standing unless you deny the reality of global warming, assert that it has natural causes or insist that nothing can be done about it without destroying the economy. You also have to either accept or acquiesce in wild claims that the overwhelming evidence for climate change is a hoax, that it has been fabricated by a vast global conspiracy of scientists.

Why would anyone go along with such things? Money is still the main answer: Almost all prominent climate deniers are on the fossil-fuel take. However, ideology is also a factor: If you take environmental issues seriously, you are led to the need for government regulation of some kind, so rigid free-market ideologues don’t want to believe that environmental concerns are real (although apparently forcing consumers to subsidize coal is fine).

Finally, I have the impression that there’s an element of tough-guy posturing involved — real men don’t use renewable energy, or something.

And these motives matter. If important players opposed climate action out of good-faith disagreement with the science, that would be a shame but not a sin, calling for better efforts at persuasion. As it is, however, climate denial is rooted in greed, opportunism, and ego. And opposing action for those reasons is a sin.

Indeed, it’s depravity, on a scale that makes cancer denial seem trivial. Smoking kills people, and tobacco companies that tried to confuse the public about that reality were being evil. But climate change isn’t just killing people; it may well kill civilization. Trying to confuse the public about that is evil on a whole different level. Don’t some of these people have children?

And let’s be clear: While Donald Trump is a prime example of the depravity of climate denial, this is an issue on which his whole party went over to the dark side years ago. Republicans don’t just have bad ideas; at this point, they are, necessarily, bad people.

From the above piece:
"If important players opposed climate action out of good-faith disagreement with the science, that would be a shame but not a sin, calling for better efforts at persuasion. As it is, however, climate denial is rooted in greed, opportunism, and ego. And opposing action for those reasons is a sin."
-- Paul Krugman

and the same goes for a lacklustre response to Climate Change

November 26, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


The Culinary Institute of Canada has breakfast weekdays, 7-8:30PM, tasty-sounding entrees and a reasonable price of $5.25.  Chef Ilona Daniels posts the menu usually the night before on her Facebook page.

Sarah Stewart-Clark Running for PEI Progressive Conservative leadership, 2-3PM, UPEI, Andrew Hall, Room 142.
Facebook event link

Veg PEI potluck, 6:30-9PM, Haviland Club, Charlottetown.  Monthly vegan potluck, lots of fun.  Specific conditions apply -- please see Facebook event link for details.

PEI Progressive Conservative Fall Fundraising Dinner, Reception: 7PM, Dinner: 8PM, Confederation Centre of the Arts, tickets (partial tax receipt) $200, here.

Tomorrow: Tuesday, November 27th:
Joel Salatin's keynote address for ACORN conference, 7-8:30PM,
Tickets $25.  Famous farmer who promotes unapologetic "know where your food comes from" and encourages farmers how to make small-scale, diverse farming work, from Swope, Virginia, is giving the keynote address. 

Wednesday, November 28th:
Green Drinks Charlottetown, 7-9PM,
Uptown Lounge, Capital Drive. " informal gathering where all those Green and Green-curious are invited to connect and get to know one another, and talk about the issues important to you."
The P.E.I. Legislature does not sit on Mondays, and it's considered a "Constituency Day" -- a chance for MLAs to be in their District and paying attention to local concerns, and to attend  events.

Here is some news from some of the Island's political parties:

PEI Progressive Leadership Race:
Former Gail Shea staffer Shawn Driscoll has entered the PEI Progressive Conservative leadership race (CBC story here), joining announced candidates Allan Dale, Dennis King, (later today) Sarah Stewart-Clark, and potential candidate Kevin J. Arsenault.
The Leadership Convention is Saturday, February 9th.

from: Green Party of PEI
Facebook page posting, Saturday, November 24th, 2018
"This has been a good week for cross-party collaboration in the Legislature. In addition to other MLAs supporting the Green Party's bill to include the creative, cultural and clean energy sectors in the Innovation PEI Act as well as Peter's motion to ban conversion therapy, on Thursday night Workforce and Advanced Learning Minister Sonny Gallant and government MLAs adopted five amendments proposed by the Greens to strengthen Gallant's Post-Secondary Institutions Sexual Violence Policies Act.

While the Legislature can often be a place of conflict and partisan theatre, it is refreshing to get glimpses of how it can also be something different - a place where the representatives of Islanders, bringing different perspectives, backgrounds, ideas and concerns, can work together to do good work for all of their constituents - partisanship aside."

from: PEI New Democratic Party
Joe's View

Joe Byrne outlines NDP-PEI priorities as the Legislature meets
What’s Needed This Session – Part 2
by Joe Byrne

published on Monday, November 19, 2018 here:

We noted that the NDP-PEI has two serious issues in mind for this fall sitting of the Legislature.  I spoke earlier about the truly awful potato-harvest situation.  Now we turn to another sad story — poverty and housing.

The MacLauchlan Liberals have attempted to address poverty and affordable housing with tweaks.  They are not enough.  We’re glad to see some government awareness, but the promises don’t actually mean serious steps to eliminate poverty.  Just as Government boasted about a surplus of $75 million, they gave a boost to a single Social Assistance recipient’s allowance for food — of $19 a month.  So will $209 buy enough groceries and personal essentials to last a month?  Here in Canada’s Food Island?  Hardly.

Our society undertakes to pay the bills for a person living in poverty … but it pays through a loss of hope, of productivity, of good mental and physical health.  It is unacceptable that PEI cannot find the resources to make sure that every islander can afford a decent life.

We have been talking about the housing crisis for well over a year now.  The MacLauchlan Government keeps making announcements.  Promises and plans sound good, but they don’t mean bedrooms and kitchens for people struggling on low income.  The Liberals’ strategy of subsidizing spaces in mostly existing private-sector buildings is worn out: it hasn’t produced decent places for people to move into.  We need shovels in the ground … and we believe that this happens when the public sector gets engaged — when the provincial government, with municipalities and not-for-profit agencies, build and manage good quality, mixed tenancy multi-unit facilities which fit into civic infrastructure such as public transit.  It is good to hear the Government media hype about 100 new units in Charlottetown and 75 others to come in other locations.  But why was this an announcement on November 8th rather than a report of work actually begun last spring?  A tired technique: another pre-election touting of intention.


While there may have been moments of collaboration in the P.E.I. Legislature last week, part of last Tuesday night was not one of them.  Brad Trivers, Opposition MLA (District 18: Rustico-Emerald) and Critic for Community, Lands and Environment, tabled Private Members Bills, a couple of which were debated during a Committee of the Whole House.  The purpose of these Bills (No. 120-122, progress and text found from this page on the Legislative Assembly website) is to improve on the Municipal Government Act (or MGA, which was passed in a rush at the end of the Fall 2016 sitting). 

Each one deals with a "tweak", to some of the more onerous requirements of the MGA, which some communities realized were pretty high standards to meet, and in effect barriers to their current and seemingly adequate and economical rural government. (These include the office in the community, the hours of operation, the payment for the Chief Administrative Officer, etc. There could be several more.)

While Deputy Speaker Kathleen Casey had some laser-specific questions, it was Communities, Land and Environment Minister Richard Brown -- who has popped up at meetings and in the Legislature and said that he would work with communities -- who, not to be too crude, yet again raised a particular finger of comment, as he did with the electoral reform plebiscite results.  Cringe-worthy for some average citizens to listen to, Brown got into a theatrical lather, accusing MLA Trivers (who maintained amazing composure under such bombast) of disrespect for the Federation of Municipalities, giving that organization an almost holy status. 

Guardian political reporter Stu Neatby sketched out the story in good, detached journalistic style:

P.E.I. Opposition MLA tables amendments to Municipal Government Act - The Guardian article by Stu Neatby

Published Saturday, November 24th, 2018, in The Guardian

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Brad Trivers says small municipalities are being overly burdened by costs under the province’s Municipal Government Act.

The Rustico-Emerald MLA has introduced three amendments to the act that he believes will help smaller towns address some of these costs

If adopted, they would allow the province to absorb the costs of municipal services, pay the salaries of staff and allow the municipality to maintain an office outside the town.

During a recent public meeting in Prince County, Trivers said he heard from councillors in St-Nicholas who told him they were concerned about the costs their council will be required to pay.

“Small municipalities, they feel that the municipal government act is really pinching them. They feel under a lot of pressure to raise taxes, so they can comply with the act,” Trivers said. Trivers said his amendments would allow the minister of communities, land and environment the option to take on costs required of municipalities.

During debate on one of these amendments on Tuesday, government members raised several questions.  Deputy Speaker Kathleen Casey asked if Trivers had determined an estimate for the costs that might be incurred as a result of these changes.Trivers responded that the costs would solely be at the discretion of the minister, and that the amendments were simply intended to allow the province the option of taking on these costs.

Communities, Land and Environment Minister Richard Brown asked if Trivers had consulted with the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities. Trivers responded that he had not.  Brown then said the Municipal Government Act required consultation with the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities if substantive changes are made.

Brown accused Trivers of disrespecting the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities.

"I have respect for the Federation of Municipalities. I sat on the Federation of Municipalities for several years. They do excellent work,” Brown said during debate on the bill.  “You know what, the people that sit on that board, they're pretty smart individuals. They don't need any advice from you at this point in time."

In an interview, Trivers said the amendments were not substantial enough to require consultation.  “These are meant to be tweaks to the legislation,” Trivers told The Guardian.

The PCs have long been critics of the Municipal Government Act, which came into effect in late 2017.

Since the act was passed, the communities of Montague, Georgetown, Brudenell, Cardigan, Lorne Valley, Lower Montague and Valleyfield have undergone a lengthy process of amalgamation. Many residents of unincorporated areas included in the new municipality opposed the amalgamation.

The evening's proceedings are video archived here, with the MGA amendments debate starting about 45 minutes into the evening session and lasting about a half-hour:

and the Hansard (transcriptions) of the session's proceedings are here, by calendar day:

November 25, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Victorian Christmas Weekend concludes with many events today, movies and carols and wagon rides.  The booths opening at 11AM, an Etsy Market at the Murphy Community Centre from noon to 5PM, etc.  Many events are similar to yesterday's, but there is a reading of A Christmas Carol at the Confederation Court Mall at 1PM.

Bonshaw Monthly Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall.  Facebook event link

PEI Symphony Orchestra performance, 2:30PM, Main Stage of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, with Maritime singer David Myles as the special guest.  Tickets.  PEISO website
Two long articles, from publications with New York in their names, on Climate Change. Bold is mine.

first is a news article in The New York Times, on the United States government release of a report on Climate Change, which was quietly released on an unofficial Friday holiday when many Americans are shopping or otherwise preoccupied. 

The second is a long, reflective article in The New Yorker, by's Bill McKibben.

U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy - The New York Times article by Coral Davenport and Kendra Pierre-Louis

Published Friday, November 23rd, 2018

WASHINGTON — A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.

The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth.

Mr. Trump has taken aggressive steps to allow more planet-warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes and power plant smokestacks, and has vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, under which nearly every country in the world pledged to cut carbon emissions. Just this week, he mocked the science of climate change because of a cold snap in the Northeast, tweeting, “Whatever happened to Global Warming?”

But in direct language, the 1,656-page assessment lays out the devastating effects of a changing climate on the economy, health and environment, including record wildfires in California, crop failures in the Midwest and crumbling infrastructure in the South. Going forward, American exports and supply chains could be disrupted, agricultural yields could fall to 1980s levels by midcentury and fire season could spread to the Southeast, the report finds.

“There is a bizarre contrast between this report, which is being released by this administration, and this administration’s own policies,” said Philip B. Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center.

All told, the report says, climate change could slash up to a tenth of gross domestic product by 2100, more than double the losses of the Great Recession a decade ago.

Scientists who worked on the report said it did not appear that administration officials had tried to alter or suppress its findings. However, several noted that the timing of its release, at 2 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving, appeared designed to minimize its public impact.

Still, the report could become a powerful legal tool for opponents of Mr. Trump’s efforts to dismantle climate change policy, experts said.

“This report will weaken the Trump administration’s legal case for undoing climate change regulations, and it strengthens the hands of those who go to court to fight them,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton.

The report is the second volume of the National Climate Assessment, which the federal government is required by law to produce every four years. The first volume was issued by the White House last year.

The previous report, issued in May 2014, concluded with nearly as much scientific certainty, but not as much precision on the economic costs, that the tangible impacts of climate change had already started to cause damage across the country. It cited increasing water scarcity in dry regions, torrential downpours in wet regions and more severe heat waves and wildfires.

The results of the 2014 report helped inform the Obama administration as it wrote a set of landmark climate change regulations. The following year, the E.P.A. finalized President Barack Obama’s signature climate change policy, known as the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to slash planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants. At the end of the 2015, Mr. Obama played a lead role in brokering the Paris Agreement.

But in 2016, Republicans in general and Mr. Trump in particular campaigned against those regulations. In rallies before cheering coal miners, Mr. Trump vowed to end what he called Mr. Obama’s “war on coal” and to withdraw from the Paris deal. Since winning the election, his administration has moved decisively to roll back environmental regulations.

The report puts the most precise price tags to date on the cost to the United States economy of projected climate impacts: $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from sea level rise and $32 billion from infrastructure damage by the end of the century, among others.

The findings come a month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations, issued its most alarming and specific report to date about the severe economic and humanitarian crises expected to hit the world by 2040.

But the new report also emphasizes that the outcomes depend on how swiftly and decisively the United States and other countries take action to mitigate global warming. The authors put forth three main solutions: putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions, which usually means imposing taxes or fees on companies that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; establishing government regulations on how much greenhouse pollution can be emitted; and spending public money on clean-energy research.

A White House statement said the report, which was started under the Obama administration, was “largely based on the most extreme scenario” of global warming and that the next assessment would provide an opportunity for greater balance.

The report covers every region of the United States and asserts that recent climate-related events are signs of things to come. No area of the country will be untouched, from the Southwest, where droughts will curb hydropower and tax already limited water supplies, to Alaska, where the loss of sea ice will cause coastal flooding and erosion and force communities to relocate, to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where saltwater will taint drinking water.

More people will die as heat waves become more common, the scientists say, and a hotter climate will also lead to more outbreaks of disease.

Two areas of impact particularly stand out: trade and agriculture.

Trade disruptions

Mr. Trump has put trade issues at the center of his economic agenda, placing new tariffs on imports and renegotiating trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement. But climate change is likely to be a disruptive force in trade and manufacturing, the report says.

Extreme weather events driven by global warming are “virtually certain to increasingly affect U.S. trade and economy, including import and export prices and businesses with overseas operations and supply chains,” the report concludes.

Such disasters will temporarily shutter factories both in the United States and abroad, causing price spikes for products from apples to automotive parts, the scientists predicted. So much of the supply chain for American companies is overseas that almost no industry will be immune from the effects of climate change at home or abroad, the report says.

It cites as an example the extreme flooding in Thailand in 2011. Western Digital, an American company that produces 60 percent of its hard drives there, sustained $199 million in losses and halved its hard drive shipments in the last quarter of 2011. The shortages temporarily doubled hard drive prices, affecting other American companies like Apple, HP and Dell.

American companies should expect many more such disruptions, the report says.

“Climate change is another risk to the strength of the U.S. trade position, and the U.S. ability to export,” said Diana Liverman, a University of Arizona professor and co-author of the report. “It can affect U.S. products, and as it drives poverty abroad we can lose consumer markets.”

Agricultural risks

The nation’s farm belt is likely to be among the hardest-hit regions, and farmers in particular will see their bottom lines threatened.

“Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the U.S.,” the report says. “Expect increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad.”

By 2050, the scientists forecast, changes in rainfall and hotter temperatures will reduce the agricultural productivity of the Midwest to levels last seen in the 1980s.

The risks, the report noted, depend on the ability of producers to adapt to changes.

During the 2012 Midwestern drought, farmers who incorporated conservation practices fared better, said Robert Bonnie, a Rubenstein Fellow at Duke University who worked in the Agriculture Department during the Obama administration. But federal programs designed to help farmers cope with climate change have stalled because the farm bill, the primary legislation for agricultural subsidies, expired this fall.

The report says the Midwest, as well as the Northeast, will also experience more flooding when it rains, like the 2011 Missouri River flood that inundated a nuclear power plant near Omaha, forcing it to shut down for years.

Other parts of the country, including much of the Southwest, will endure worsening droughts, further taxing limited groundwater supplies. Those droughts can lead to fires, a phenomenon that played out this fall in California as the most destructive wildfire in state history killed dozens of people.

The report predicts that frequent wildfires, long a plague of the Western United States, will also become more common in other regions, including the Southeast. The 2016 Great Smoky Mountains wildfires, which killed 14 people and burned more than 17,000 acres in Tennessee, may have been just the beginning. But unlike in the West, “in the Southeast, they have no experience with an annual dangerous fire season, or at least very little,” said Andrew Light, a co-author of the report and a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute.

Climate change is taking the United States into uncharted territory, the report concludes. “The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid,” it says.

There is always some uncertainty in climate projections, but scientists’ estimates about the effects of global warming to date have largely been borne out. The variable going forward, the report says, is the amount of carbon emissions humans produce.

From Bill McKibben:

How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet - The New Yorker article by Bill McKIbben

With wildfires, heat waves, and rising sea levels, large tracts of the earth are at risk of becoming uninhabitable. But the fossil-fuel industry continues its assault on the facts.

Published in the November 26, 2018 (that's tomorrow) The New Yorker

Thirty years ago, this magazine published “The End of Nature,” a long article about what we then called the greenhouse effect. I was in my twenties when I wrote it, and out on an intellectual limb: climate science was still young. But the data were persuasive, and freighted with sadness. We were spewing so much carbon into the atmosphere that nature was no longer a force beyond our influence—and humanity, with its capacity for industry and heedlessness, had come to affect every cubic metre of the planet’s air, every inch of its surface, every drop of its water. Scientists underlined this notion a decade later when they began referring to our era as the Anthropocene, the world made by man.

I was frightened by my reporting, but, at the time, it seemed likely that we’d try as a society to prevent the worst from happening. In 1988, George H. W. Bush, running for President, promised that he would fight “the greenhouse effect with the White House effect.” He did not, nor did his successors, nor did their peers in seats of power around the world, and so in the intervening decades what was a theoretical threat has become a fierce daily reality. As this essay goes to press, California is ablaze. A big fire near Los Angeles forced the evacuation of Malibu, and an even larger fire, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, has become the most destructive in California’s history. After a summer of unprecedented high temperatures and a fall “rainy season” with less than half the usual precipitation, the northern firestorm turned a city called Paradise into an inferno within an hour, razing more than ten thousand buildings and killing at least sixty-three people; more than six hundred others are missing. The authorities brought in cadaver dogs, a lab to match evacuees’ DNA with swabs taken from the dead, and anthropologists from California State University at Chico to advise on how to identify bodies from charred bone fragments.

For the past few years, a tide of optimistic thinking has held that conditions for human beings around the globe have been improving. Wars are scarcer, poverty and hunger are less severe, and there are better prospects for wide-scale literacy and education. But there are newer signs that human progress has begun to flag. In the face of our environmental deterioration, it’s now reasonable to ask whether the human game has begun to falter—perhaps even to play itself out. Late in 2017, a United Nations agency announced that the number of chronically malnourished people in the world, after a decade of decline, had started to grow again—by thirty-eight million, to a total of eight hundred and fifteen million, “largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks.” In June, 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. found that child labor, after years of falling, was growing, “driven in part by an increase in conflicts and climate-induced disasters.”

In 2015, at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, the world’s governments, noting that the earth has so far warmed a little more than one degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, set a goal of holding the increase this century to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), with a fallback target of two degrees (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). This past October, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a special report stating that global warming “is likely to reach 1.5 C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.” We will have drawn a line in the sand and then watched a rising tide erase it. The report did not mention that, in Paris, countries’ initial pledges would cut emissions only enough to limit warming to 3.5 degrees Celsius (about 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, a scale and pace of change so profound as to call into question whether our current societies could survive it.

Scientists have warned for decades that climate change would lead to extreme weather. Shortly before the I.P.C.C. report was published, Hurricane Michael, the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Florida Panhandle, inflicted thirty billion dollars’ worth of material damage and killed forty-five people. President Trump, who has argued that global warming is “a total, and very expensive, hoax,” visited Florida to survey the wreckage, but told reporters that the storm had not caused him to rethink his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accords. He expressed no interest in the I.P. C.C. report beyond asking “who drew it.” (The answer is ninety-one researchers from forty countries.) He later claimed that his “natural instinct” for science made him confident that the climate would soon “change back.” A month later, Trump blamed the fires in California on “gross mismanagement of forests.”

Human beings have always experienced wars and truces, crashes and recoveries, famines and terrorism. We’ve endured tyrants and outlasted perverse ideologies. Climate change is different. As a team of scientists recently pointed out in the journal Nature Climate Change, the physical shifts we’re inflicting on the planet will “extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.”

The poorest and most vulnerable will pay the highest price. But already, even in the most affluent areas, many of us hesitate to walk across a grassy meadow because of the proliferation of ticks bearing Lyme disease which have come with the hot weather; we have found ourselves unable to swim off beaches, because jellyfish, which thrive as warming seas kill off other marine life, have taken over the water. The planet’s diameter will remain eight thousand miles, and its surface will still cover two hundred million square miles. But the earth, for humans, has begun to shrink, under our feet and in our minds.

“Climate change,” like “urban sprawl” or “gun violence,” has become such a familiar term that we tend to read past it. But exactly what we’ve been up to should fill us with awe. During the past two hundred years, we have burned immense quantities of coal and gas and oil—in car motors, basement furnaces, power plants, steel mills—and, as we have done so, carbon atoms have combined with oxygen atoms in the air to produce carbon dioxide. This, along with other gases like methane, has trapped heat that would otherwise have radiated back out to space.

There are at least four other episodes in the earth’s half-billion-year history of animal life when CO2 has poured into the atmosphere in greater volumes, but perhaps never at greater speeds. Even at the end of the Permian Age, when huge injections of CO2 from volcanoes burning through coal deposits culminated in “The Great Dying,” the CO2 content of the atmosphere grew at perhaps a tenth of the current pace. Two centuries ago, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was two hundred and seventy-five parts per million; it has now topped four hundred parts per million and is rising more than two parts per million each year. The extra heat that we trap near the planet every day is equivalent to the heat from four hundred thousand bombs the size of the one that was dropped on Hiroshima.

As a result, in the past thirty years we’ve seen all twenty of the hottest years ever recorded. The melting of ice caps and glaciers and the rising levels of our oceans and seas, initially predicted for the end of the century, have occurred decades early. “I’ve never been at . . . a climate conference where people say ‘that happened slower than I thought it would,’ ” Christina Hulbe, a New Zealand climatologist, told a reporter for Grist last year. This past May, a team of scientists from the University of Illinois reported that there was a thirty-five-per-cent chance that, because of unexpectedly high economic growth rates, the U.N.’s “worst-case scenario” for global warming was too optimistic. “We are now truly in uncharted territory,” David Carlson, the former director of the World Meteorological Organization’s climate-research division, said in the spring of 2017, after data showed that the previous year had broken global heat records.

We are off the literal charts as well. In August, I visited Greenland, where, one day, with a small group of scientists and activists, I took a boat from the village of Narsaq to a glacier on a nearby fjord. As we made our way across a broad bay, I glanced up at the electronic chart above the captain’s wheel, where a blinking icon showed that we were a mile inland. The captain explained that the chart was from five years ago, when the water around us was still ice. The American glaciologist Jason Box, who organized the trip, chose our landing site. “We called this place the Eagle Glacier because of its shape,” he said. The name, too, was five years old. “The head and the wings of the bird have melted away. I don’t know what we should call it now, but the eagle is dead.”

There were two poets among the crew, Aka Niviana, who is Greenlandic, and Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the low-lying Marshall Islands, in the Pacific, where “king tides” recently washed through living rooms and unearthed graveyards. A small lens of fresh water has supported life on the Marshall Islands’ atolls for millennia, but, as salt water intrudes, breadfruit trees and banana palms wilt and die. As the Greenlandic ice we were gazing at continues to melt, the water will drown Jetnil-Kijiner’s homeland. About a third of the carbon responsible for these changes has come from the United States.

A few days after the boat trip, the two poets and I accompanied the scientists to another fjord, where they needed to change the memory card on a camera that tracks the retreat of the ice sheet. As we took off for the flight home over the snout of a giant glacier, an eight-story chunk calved off the face and crashed into the ocean. I’d never seen anything quite like it for sheer power—the waves rose twenty feet as it plunged into the dark water. You could imagine the same waves washing through the Marshalls. You could almost sense the ice elevating the ocean by a sliver—along the seafront in Mumbai, which already floods on a stormy day, and at the Battery in Manhattan, where the seawall rises just a few feet above the water.

When I say the world has begun to shrink, this is what I mean. Until now, human beings have been spreading, from our beginnings in Africa, out across the globe—slowly at first, and then much faster. But a period of contraction is setting in as we lose parts of the habitable earth. Sometimes our retreat will be hasty and violent; the effort to evacuate the blazing California towns along narrow roads was so chaotic that many people died in their cars. But most of the pullback will be slower, starting along the world’s coastlines. Each year, another twenty-four thousand people abandon Vietnam’s sublimely fertile Mekong Delta as crop fields are polluted with salt. As sea ice melts along the Alaskan coast, there is nothing to protect towns, cities, and native villages from the waves. In Mexico Beach, Florida, which was all but eradicated by Hurricane Michael, a resident told the Washington Post, “The older people can’t rebuild; it’s too late in their lives. Who is going to be left? Who is going to care?”

In one week at the end of last year, I read accounts from Louisiana, where government officials were finalizing a plan to relocate thousands of people threatened by the rising Gulf (“Not everybody is going to live where they are now and continue their way of life, and that is a terrible, and emotional, reality to face,” one state official said); from Hawaii, where, according to a new study, thirty-eight miles of coastal roads will become impassable in the next few decades; and from Jakarta, a city with a population of ten million, where a rising Java Sea had flooded the streets. In the first days of 2018, a nor’easter flooded downtown Boston; dumpsters and cars floated through the financial district. “If anyone wants to question global warming, just see where the flood zones are,” Marty Walsh, the mayor of Boston, told reporters. “Some of those zones did not flood thirty years ago.”

According to a study from the United Kingdom’s National Oceanography Centre last summer, the damage caused by rising sea levels will cost the world as much as fourteen trillion dollars a year by 2100, if the U.N. targets aren’t met. “Like it or not, we will retreat from most of the world’s non-urban shorelines in the not very distant future,” Orrin Pilkey, an expert on sea levels at Duke University, wrote in his book “Retreat from a Rising Sea.” “We can plan now and retreat in a strategic and calculated fashion, or we can worry about it later and retreat in tactical disarray in response to devastating storms. In other words, we can walk away methodically, or we can flee in panic.”

But it’s not clear where to go. As with the rising seas, rising temperatures have begun to narrow the margins of our inhabitation, this time in the hot continental interiors. Nine of the ten deadliest heat waves in human history have occurred since 2000. In India, the rise in temperature since 1960 (about one degree Fahrenheit) has increased the chance of mass heat-related deaths by a hundred and fifty per cent. The summer of 2018 was the hottest ever measured in certain areas. For a couple of days in June, temperatures in cities in Pakistan and Iran peaked at slightly above a hundred and twenty-nine degrees Fahrenheit, the highest reliably recorded temperatures ever measured. The same heat wave, nearer the shore of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, combined triple-digit temperatures with soaring humidity levels to produce a heat index of more than a hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit. June 26th was the warmest night in history, with the mercury in one Omani city remaining above a hundred and nine degrees Fahrenheit until morning. In July, a heat wave in Montreal killed more than seventy people, and Death Valley, which often sets American records, registered the hottest month ever seen on our planet. Africa recorded its highest temperature in June, the Korean Peninsula in July, and Europe in August. The Times reported that, in Algeria, employees at a petroleum plant walked off the job as the temperature neared a hundred and twenty-four degrees. “We couldn’t keep up,” one worker told the reporter. “It was impossible to do the work.”

This was no illusion; some of the world is becoming too hot for humans. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, increased heat and humidity have reduced the amount of work people can do outdoors by ten per cent, a figure that is predicted to double by 2050. About a decade ago, Australian and American researchers, setting out to determine the highest survivable so-called “wet-bulb” temperature, concluded that when temperatures passed thirty-five degrees Celsius (ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit) and the humidity was higher than ninety per cent, even in “well-ventilated shaded conditions,” sweating slows down, and humans can survive only “for a few hours, the exact length of time being determined by individual physiology.”

As the planet warms, a crescent-shaped area encompassing parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the North China Plain, where about 1.5 billion people (a fifth of humanity) live, is at high risk of such temperatures in the next half century. Across this belt, extreme heat waves that currently happen once every generation could, by the end of the century, become “annual events with temperatures close to the threshold for several weeks each year, which could lead to famine and mass migration.” By 2070, tropical regions that now get one day of truly oppressive humid heat a year can expect between a hundred and two hundred and fifty days, if the current levels of greenhouse-gas emissions continue. According to Radley Horton, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, most people would “run into terrible problems” before then. The effects, he added, will be “transformative for all areas of human endeavor—economy, agriculture, military, recreation.”

Humans share the planet with many other creatures, of course. We have already managed to kill off sixty per cent of the world’s wildlife since 1970 by destroying their habitats, and now higher temperatures are starting to take their toll. A new study found that peak-dwelling birds were going extinct; as temperatures climb, the birds can no longer find relief on higher terrain. Coral reefs, rich in biodiversity, may soon be a tenth of their current size.

As some people flee humidity and rising sea levels, others will be forced to relocate in order to find enough water to survive. In late 2017, a study led by Manoj Joshi, of the University of East Anglia, found that, by 2050, if temperatures rise by two degrees a quarter of the earth will experience serious drought and desertification. The early signs are clear: São Paulo came within days of running out of water last year, as did Cape Town this spring. In the fall, a record drought in Germany lowered the level of the Elbe to below twenty inches and reduced the corn harvest by forty per cent. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research concluded in a recent study that, as the number of days that reach eighty-six degrees Fahrenheit or higher increases, corn and soybean yields across the U.S. grain belt could fall by between twenty-two and forty-nine per cent. We’ve already overpumped the aquifers that lie beneath most of the world’s breadbaskets; without the means to irrigate, we may encounter a repeat of the nineteen-thirties, when droughts and deep plowing led to the Dust Bowl—this time with no way of fixing the problem. Back then, the Okies fled to California, but California is no longer a green oasis. A hundred million trees died in the record drought that gripped the Golden State for much of this decade. The dead limbs helped spread the waves of fire, as scientists earlier this year warned that they could.

Thirty years ago, some believed that warmer temperatures would expand the field of play, turning the Arctic into the new Midwest. As Rex Tillerson, then the C.E.O. of Exxon, cheerfully put it in 2012, “Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas around—we’ll adapt to that.” But there is no rich topsoil in the far North; instead, the ground is underlaid with permafrost, which can be found beneath a fifth of the Northern Hemisphere. As the permafrost melts, it releases more carbon into the atmosphere. The thawing layer cracks roads, tilts houses, and uproots trees to create what scientists call “drunken forests.” Ninety scientists who released a joint report in 2017 concluded that economic losses from a warming Arctic could approach ninety trillion dollars in the course of the century, considerably outweighing whatever savings may have resulted from shorter shipping routes as the Northwest Passage unfreezes.

Churchill, Manitoba, on the edge of the Hudson Bay, in Canada, is connected to the rest of the country by a single rail line. In the spring of 2017, record floods washed away much of the track. OmniTrax, which owns the line, tried to cancel its contract with the government, declaring what lawyers call a “force majeure,” an unforeseen event beyond its responsibility. “To fix things in this era of climate change—well, it’s fixed, but you don’t count on it being the fix forever,” an engineer for the company explained at a media briefing in July. This summer, the Canadian government reopened the rail at a cost of a hundred and seventeen million dollars—about a hundred and ninety thousand dollars per Churchill resident. There is no reason to think the fix will last, and every reason to believe that our world will keep contracting.

All this has played out more or less as scientists warned, albeit faster. What has defied expectations is the slowness of the response. The climatologist James Hansen testified before Congress about the dangers of human-caused climate change thirty years ago. Since then, carbon emissions have increased with each year except 2009 (the height of the global recession) and the newest data show that 2018 will set another record. Simple inertia and the human tendency to prioritize short-term gains have played a role, but the fossil-fuel industry’s contribution has been by far the most damaging. Alex Steffen, an environmental writer, coined the term “predatory delay” to describe “the blocking or slowing of needed change, in order to make money off unsustainable, unjust systems in the meantime.” The behavior of the oil companies, which have pulled off perhaps the most consequential deception in mankind’s history, is a prime example.

As journalists at InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times have revealed since 2015, Exxon, the world’s largest oil company, understood that its product was contributing to climate change a decade before Hansen testified. In July, 1977, James F. Black, one of Exxon’s senior scientists, addressed many of the company’s top leaders in New York, explaining the earliest research on the greenhouse effect. “There is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon-dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” he said, according to a written version of the speech which was later recorded, and which was obtained by InsideClimate News. In 1978, speaking to the company’s executives, Black estimated that a doubling of the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by between two and three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and as much as ten degrees Celsius (eighteen degrees Fahrenheit) at the poles.

Exxon spent millions of dollars researching the problem. It outfitted an oil tanker, the Esso Atlantic, with CO2 detectors to measure how fast the oceans could absorb excess carbon, and hired mathematicians to build sophisticated climate models. By 1982, they had concluded that even the company’s earlier estimates were probably too low. In a private corporate primer, they wrote that heading off global warming and “potentially catastrophic events” would “require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion.”

An investigation by the L.A. Times revealed that Exxon executives took these warnings seriously. Ken Croasdale, a senior researcher for the company’s Canadian subsidiary, led a team that investigated the positive and negative effects of warming on Exxon’s Arctic operations. In 1991, he found that greenhouse gases were rising due to the burning of fossil fuels. “Nobody disputes this fact,” he said. The following year, he wrote that “global warming can only help lower exploration and development costs” in the Beaufort Sea. Drilling season in the Arctic, he correctly predicted, would increase from two months to as many as five months. At the same time, he said, the rise in the sea level could threaten onshore infrastructure and create bigger waves that would damage offshore drilling structures. Thawing permafrost could make the earth buckle and slide under buildings and pipelines. As a result of these findings, Exxon and other major oil companies began laying plans to move into the Arctic, and started to build their new drilling platforms with higher decks, to compensate for the anticipated rises in sea level.

The implications of the exposés were startling. Not only did Exxon and other companies know that scientists like Hansen were right; they used his NASA climate models to figure out how low their drilling costs in the Arctic would eventually fall. Had Exxon and its peers passed on what they knew to the public, geological history would look very different today. The problem of climate change would not be solved, but the crisis would, most likely, now be receding. In 1989, an international ban on chlorine-containing man-made chemicals that had been eroding the earth’s ozone layer went into effect. Last month, researchers reported that the ozone layer was on track to fully heal by 2060. But that was a relatively easy fight, because the chemicals in question were not central to the world’s economy, and the manufacturers had readily available substitutes to sell. In the case of global warming, the culprit is fossil fuel, the most lucrative commodity on earth, and so the companies responsible took a different tack.

A document uncovered by the L.A. Times showed that, a month after Hansen’s testimony, in 1988, an unnamed Exxon “public affairs manager” issued an internal memo recommending that the company “emphasize the uncertainty” in the scientific data about climate change. Within a few years, Exxon, Chevron, Shell, Amoco, and others had joined the Global Climate Coalition, “to coordinate business participation in the international policy debate” on global warming. The G.C.C. coördinated with the National Coal Association and the American Petroleum Institute on a campaign, via letters and telephone calls, to prevent a tax on fossil fuels, and produced a video in which the agency insisted that more carbon dioxide would “end world hunger” by promoting plant growth. With such efforts, it ginned up opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, the first global initiative to address climate change.

In October, 1997, two months before the Kyoto meeting, Lee Raymond, Exxon’s president and C.E.O., who had overseen the science department that in the nineteen-eighties produced the findings about climate change, gave a speech in Beijing to the World Petroleum Congress, in which he maintained that the earth was actually cooling. The idea that cutting fossil-fuel emissions could have an effect on the climate, he said, defied common sense. “It is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of the next century will be affected whether policies are enacted now, or twenty years from now,” he went on. Exxon’s own scientists had already shown each of these premises to be wrong.

On a December morning in 1997 at the Kyoto Convention Center, after a long night of negotiation, the developed nations reached a tentative accord on climate change. Exhausted delegates lay slumped on couches in the corridor, or on the floor in their suits, but most of them were grinning. Imperfect and limited though the agreement was, it seemed that momentum had gathered behind fighting climate change. But as I watched the delegates cheering and clapping, an American lobbyist, who had been coördinating much of the opposition to the accord, turned to me and said, “I can’t wait to get back to Washington, where we’ve got this under control.”

He was right. On January 29, 2001, nine days after George W. Bush was inaugurated, Lee Raymond visited his old friend Vice-President Dick Cheney, who had just stepped down as the C.E.O. of the oil-drilling giant Halliburton. Cheney helped persuade Bush to abandon his campaign promise to treat carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Within the year, Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant for Bush, had produced an internal memo that made a doctrine of the strategy that the G.C.C. had hit on a decade earlier. “Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community,” Luntz wrote in the memo, which was obtained by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based organization. “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”

The strategy of muddling the public’s impression of climate science has proved to be highly effective. In 2017, polls found that almost ninety per cent of Americans did not know that there was a scientific consensus on global warming. Raymond retired in 2006, after the company posted the biggest corporate profits in history, and his final annual salary was four hundred million dollars. His successor, Rex Tillerson, signed a five-hundred-billion-dollar deal to explore for oil in the rapidly thawing Russian Arctic, and in 2012 was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship. In 2016, Tillerson, at his last shareholder meeting before he briefly joined the Trump Administration as Secretary of State, said, “The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not.”

It’s by no means clear whether Exxon’s deception and obfuscation are illegal. The company has long maintained that it “has tracked the scientific consensus on climate change, and its research on the issue has been published in publicly available peer-reviewed journals.” The First Amendment preserves one’s right to lie, although, in October, New York State Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood filed suit against Exxon for lying to investors, which is a crime. What is certain is that the industry’s campaign cost us the efforts of the human generation that might have made the crucial difference in the climate fight.

Exxon’s behavior is shocking, but not entirely surprising. Philip Morris lied about the effects of cigarette smoking before the government stood up to Big Tobacco. The mystery that historians will have to unravel is what went so wrong in our governance and our culture that we have done, essentially, nothing to stand up to the fossil-fuel industry.

There are undoubtedly myriad intellectual, psychological, and political sources for our inaction, but I cannot help thinking that the influence of Ayn Rand, the Russian émigré novelist, may have played a role. Rand’s disquisitions on the “virtue of selfishness” and unbridled capitalism are admired by many American politicians and economists—Paul Ryan, Tillerson, Mike Pompeo, Andrew Puzder, and Donald Trump, among them. Trump, who has called “The Fountainhead” his favorite book, said that the novel “relates to business and beauty and life and inner emotions. That book relates to . . . everything.” Long after Rand’s death, in 1982, the libertarian gospel of the novel continues to sway our politics: Government is bad. Solidarity is a trap. Taxes are theft. The Koch brothers, whose enormous fortune derives in large part from the mining and refining of oil and gas, have peddled a similar message, broadening the efforts that Exxon-funded groups like the Global Climate Coalition spearheaded in the late nineteen-eighties.

Fossil-fuel companies and electric utilities, often led by Koch-linked groups, have put up fierce resistance to change. In Kansas, Koch allies helped turn mandated targets for renewable energy into voluntary commitments. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker’s administration prohibited state land officials from talking about climate change. In North Carolina, the state legislature, in conjunction with real-estate interests, effectively banned policymakers from using scientific estimates of sea-level rise in the coastal-planning process. Earlier this year, Americans for Prosperity, the most important Koch front group, waged a campaign against new bus routes and light-rail service in Tennessee, invoking human liberty. “If someone has the freedom to go where they want, do what they want, they’re not going to choose public transit,” a spokeswoman for the group explained. In Florida, an anti-renewable-subsidy ballot measure invoked the “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice.”

Such efforts help explain why, in 2017, the growth of American residential solar installations came to a halt even before March, 2018, when President Trump imposed a thirty-per-cent tariff on solar panels, and why the number of solar jobs fell in the U.S. for the first time since the industry’s great expansion began, a decade earlier. In February, at the Department of Energy, Rick Perry—who once skipped his own arraignment on two felony charges, which were eventually dismissed, in order to attend a Koch brothers event—issued a new projection in which he announced that the U.S. would go on emitting carbon at current levels through 2050; this means that our nation would use up all the planet’s remaining carbon budget if we plan on meeting the 1.5-degree target. Skepticism about the scientific consensus, Perry told the media in 2017, is a sign of a “wise, intellectually engaged person.”

Of all the environmental reversals made by the Trump Administration, the most devastating was its decision, last year, to withdraw from the Paris accords, making the U.S., the largest single historical source of carbon, the only nation not engaged in international efforts to control it. As the Washington Post reported, the withdrawal was the result of a collaborative venture. Among the anti-government ideologues and fossil-fuel lobbyists responsible was Myron Ebell, who was at Trump’s side in the Rose Garden during the withdrawal announcement, and who, at Frontiers of Freedom, had helped run a “complex influence campaign” in support of the tobacco industry. Ebell is a director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which was founded in 1984 to advance “the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty,” and which funds the Cooler Heads Coalition, “an informal and ad-hoc group focused on dispelling the myths of global warming,” of which Ebell is the chairman. Also instrumental were the Heartland Institute and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. After Trump’s election, these groups sent a letter reminding him of his campaign pledge to pull America out. The C.E.I. ran a TV spot: “Mr. President, don’t listen to the swamp. Keep your promise.” And, despite the objections of most of his advisers, he did. The coalition had used its power to slow us down precisely at the moment when we needed to speed up. As a result, the particular politics of one country for one half-century will have changed the geological history of the earth.

We are on a path to self-destruction, and yet there is nothing inevitable about our fate. Solar panels and wind turbines are now among the least expensive ways to produce energy. Storage batteries are cheaper and more efficient than ever. We could move quickly if we chose to, but we’d need to opt for solidarity and coördination on a global scale. The chances of that look slim. In Russia, the second-largest petrostate after the U.S., Vladimir Putin believes that “climate change could be tied to some global cycles on Earth or even of planetary significance.” Saudi Arabia, the third-largest petrostate, tried to water down the recent I.P.C.C. report. Jair Bolsonaro, the newly elected President of Brazil, has vowed to institute policies that would dramatically accelerate the deforestation of the Amazon, the world’s largest rain forest. Meanwhile, Exxon recently announced a plan to spend a million dollars—about a hundredth of what the company spends each month in search of new oil and gas—to back the fight for a carbon tax of forty dollars a ton. At a press conference, some of the I.P.C.C.’s authors laughed out loud at the idea that such a tax would, this late in the game, have sufficient impact.

The possibility of swift change lies in people coming together in movements large enough to shift the Zeitgeist. In recent years, despairing at the slow progress, I’ve been one of many to protest pipelines and to call attention to Big Oil’s deceptions. The movement is growing. Since 2015, when four hundred thousand people marched in the streets of New York before the Paris climate talks, activists—often led by indigenous groups and communities living on the front lines of climate change—have blocked pipelines, forced the cancellation of new coal mines, helped keep the major oil companies out of the American Arctic, and persuaded dozens of cities to commit to one-hundred-per-cent renewable energy.

Each of these efforts has played out in the shadow of the industry’s unflagging campaign to maximize profits and prevent change. Voters in Washington State were initially supportive of a measure on last month’s ballot which would have imposed the nation’s first carbon tax—a modest fee that won support from such figures as Bill Gates. But the major oil companies spent record sums to defeat it. In Colorado, a similarly modest referendum that would have forced frackers to move their rigs away from houses and schools went down after the oil industry outspent citizen groups forty to one. This fall, California’s legislators committed to using only renewable energy by 2045, which was a great victory in the world’s fifth-largest economy. But the governor refused to stop signing new permits for oil wells, even in the middle of the state’s largest cities, where asthma rates are high.

New kinds of activism keep springing up. In Sweden this fall, a one-person school boycott by a fifteen-year-old girl named Greta Thunberg helped galvanize attention across Scandinavia. At the end of October, a new British group, Extinction Rebellion—its name both a reflection of the dire science and a potentially feisty response—announced plans for a campaign of civil disobedience. Last week, fifty-one young people were arrested in Nancy Pelosi’s office for staging a sit-in, demanding that the Democrats embrace a “Green New Deal” that would address the global climate crisis with policies to create jobs in renewable energy. They may have picked a winning issue: several polls have shown that even Republicans favor more government support for solar panels. This battle is epic and undecided. If we miss the two-degree target, we will fight to prevent a rise of three degrees, and then four. It’s a long escalator down to Hell.

Last June, I went to Cape Canaveral to watch Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket lift off. When the moment came, it was as I’d always imagined: the clouds of steam venting in the minutes before launch, the immensely bright column of flame erupting. With remarkable slowness, the rocket began to rise, the grip of gravity yielding to the force of its engines. It is the most awesome technological spectacle human beings have produced.

Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson are among the billionaires who have spent some of their fortunes on space travel—a last-ditch effort to expand the human zone of habitability. In November, 2016, Stephen Hawking gave humanity a deadline of a thousand years to leave Earth. Six months later, he revised the timetable to a century. In June, 2017, he told an audience that “spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves.” He continued, “Earth is under threat from so many areas that it is difficult for me to be positive.”

But escaping the wreckage is, almost certainly, a fantasy. Even if astronauts did cross the thirty-four million miles to Mars, they’d need to go underground to survive there. To what end? The multimillion-dollar attempts at building a “biosphere” in the Southwestern desert in 1991 ended in abject failure. Kim Stanley Robinson, the author of a trilogy of novels about the colonization of Mars, recently called such projects a “moral hazard.” “People think if we fuck up here on Earth we can always go to Mars or the stars,” he said. “It’s pernicious.”

The dream of interplanetary colonization also distracts us from acknowledging the unbearable beauty of the planet we already inhabit. The day before the launch, I went on a tour of the vast grounds of the Kennedy Space Center with NASA’s public-affairs officer, Greg Harland, and the biologist Don Dankert. I’d been warned beforehand by other NASA officials not to broach the topic of global warming; in any event, NASA’s predicament became obvious as soon as we climbed up on a dune overlooking Launch Complex 39, from which the Apollo missions left for the moon, and where any future Mars mission would likely begin. The launchpad is a quarter of a mile from the ocean—a perfect location, in the sense that, if something goes wrong, the rockets will fall into the sea, but not so perfect, since that sea is now rising. NASA started worrying about this sometime after the turn of the century, and formed a Dune Vulnerability Team.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy, even at a distance of a couple of hundred miles, churned up waves strong enough to break through the barrier of dunes along the Atlantic shoreline of the Space Center and very nearly swamped the launch complexes. Dankert had millions of cubic yards of sand excavated from a nearby Air Force base, and saw to it that a hundred and eighty thousand native shrubs were planted to hold the sand in place. So far, the new dunes have yielded little ground to storms and hurricanes. But what impressed me more than the dunes was the men’s deep appreciation of their landscape. “Kennedy Space Center shares real estate with the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge,” Harland said. “We use less than ten per cent for our industrial purposes.”

“When you look at the beach, it’s like eighteen-seventies Florida—the longest undisturbed stretch on the Atlantic Coast,” Dankert said. “We launch people into space from the middle of a wildlife refuge. That’s amazing.”

The two men talked for a long time about their favorite local species—the brown pelicans that were skimming the ocean, the Florida scrub jays. While rebuilding the dunes, they carefully bucket-trapped and relocated dozens of gopher tortoises. Before I left, they drove me half an hour across the swamp to a pond near the Space Center’s headquarters building, just to show me some alligators. Menacing snouts were visible beneath the water, but I was more interested in the sign that had been posted at each corner of the pond explaining that the alligators were native species, not pets. “Putting any food in the water for any reason will cause them to become accustomed to people and possibly dangerous,” it went on, adding that, if that should happen, “they must be removed and destroyed.”

Something about the sign moved me tremendously. It would have been easy enough to poison the pond, just as it would have been easy enough to bulldoze the dunes without a thought for the tortoises. But NASA hadn’t done so, because of a long series of laws that draw on an emerging understanding of who we are. In 1867, John Muir, one of the first Western environmentalists, walked from Louisville, Kentucky, to Florida, a trip that inspired his first heretical thoughts about the meaning of being human. “The world, we are told, was made especially for man—a presumption not supported by all the facts,” Muir wrote in his diary. “A numerous class of men are painfully astonished whenever they find anything, living or dead, in all God’s universe, which they cannot eat or render in some way what they call useful to themselves.” Muir’s proof that this self-centeredness was misguided was the alligator, which he could hear roaring in the Florida swamp as he camped nearby, and which clearly caused man mostly trouble. But these animals were wonderful nonetheless, Muir decided—remarkable creatures perfectly adapted to their landscape. “I have better thoughts of those alligators now that I’ve seen them at home,” he wrote. In his diary, he addressed the creatures directly: “Honorable representatives of the great saurian of an older creation, may you long enjoy your lilies and rushes, and be blessed now and then with a mouthful of terror-stricken man by way of dainty.”

That evening, Harland and Dankert drew a crude map to help me find the beach, north of Patrick Air Force Base and south of the spot where, in 1965, Barbara Eden emerged from her bottle to greet her astronaut at the start of the TV series “I Dream of Jeannie.” There, they said, I could wait out the hours until the pre-dawn rocket launch and perhaps spot a loggerhead sea turtle coming ashore to lay her eggs. And so I sat on the sand. The beach was deserted, and under a near-full moon I watched as a turtle trundled from the sea and lumbered deliberately to a spot near the dune, where she used her powerful legs to excavate a pit. She spent an hour laying eggs, and even from thirty yards away you could hear her heavy breathing in between the whispers of the waves. And then, having covered her clutch, she tracked back to the ocean, in the fashion of others like her for the past hundred and twenty million years. 

Note: This article appears in the print edition of the November 26, 2018, issue, with the headline “Life on a Shrinking Planet.”

Bill McKibben, a former New Yorker staff writer, is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign and the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in environmental studies at Middlebury College. His new book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? will be out in the spring.

November 24, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

Phillips Feed Store Wild Bird Feed sale continues until December 1st.  Exhibition Drive.  Hours Saturday 8AM-12noon, and weekdays, 8AM-5PM. Some portion of proceeds goes to Island Nature Trust, and feed and feeders are on discount.

Various Craft Fairs and Sales (some have admission at the door): here are a few:
Colonel Gray Craft Fair, 10AM-5PM, Spring Park Road, $3 admission.
Milton Community Centre, 9AM-2:30PM
Belfast Mini Mills
Etsy Holiday Market, 10AM-5PM, Murphys (Pharmacy) Community Centre
Breadalbane Small is Beautiful Christmas Craft Fair and Canteen, 10AM-3PM, Breadalbane Community Centre.  Oceana Seaplants, Stanley Pottery, other local crafts people and good food.
Facebook event details

Today's Downtown Charlottetown events (selected event listing from Discover Charlottetown)

7:00am - 10:00am | Breakfast with Santa at Water’s Edge (Santa arrives at 8:30)
10:00am - 8:00pm | Victorian Christmas Market (Located on Queen St.)
10:00am - 8:00pm | Warm-Up Zone at Confederation Court Mall 
10:00am - 8:00pm | FREE Horse & Wagon Rides (Starting at Vic Row and Queen St.)
10:00am - 5:00pm | Etsy Holiday Market (Murphy’s Community Centre)
10:00am - 12:00pm AND 4-6PM | Face Painting at the Market (Queen St. Stage)
11:00am - 11:30am AND 2-2:30PM | How the Grinch Stole Christmas at City Cinema (FREE)
11:00am - 12:00pm AND 7-8PM | Christmas Singalong at the Market (Queen St. Stage)
11:00am - 1:00pm, AND 2-5PM | Ice Sculpting Demos at Victorian Christmas Market
11:00am - 2:00pm | UPEI Carolers at Victorian Christmas Market
12:00 - 1:30pm | National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at City Cinema
12:00 - 4:00pm, AND 7-8PM | Santa Claus Visits the Market (Queen St. Stage)
1:00 - 2:00pm, 4-5PM | Historical Walking Tours with Confederation Players (FREE)
1:00 - 4:00pm | Pre-Parade Party at the Confederation Court Mall (various artists and events)
3:00 - 4:00pm | UPEI Carolers at the Market
3:00 - 4:45pm | Scrooged at City Cinema
4:00 - 5:00pm | UPEI Carolers at the Confederation Court Mall
❆❆ 5:00 - 6:00pm | Christmas Songs in the Confederation Court Mall
5:00 - 7:00pm | Charlottetown Christmas Parade

An Evening with Samuel Johnson, A Haviland Club fundraiser, 7-10PM, Haviland Club, Charlottetown.  The outstanding Terry Pratt, Professor Emeritus of English at UPEI, becomes the 18th century author and commentator, in this one-man, two-act play.   Admission by donation.
Facebook event link
This was in The Guardian earlier this week, but here is an online source for it:

Opinion: Is there a conservative case against the carbon tax? Not really - The Calgary Herald article by Jim Farney

Published on Monday, November 5th, 2018

Conservative politicians across Canada have strongly opposed the Trudeau government’s promise to impose carbon tax since the idea was floated in 2015. Beginning with Premier Brad Wall in Saskatchewan, opposition to the carbon tax is now a central commitment of conservative premiers Brian Pallister, Scott Moe and Doug Ford, as well as the leader of the official Opposition, Andrew Scheer.

It is easy to see how conservatives would oppose a new tax created by the federal government. After all, what’s more conservative than opposing a new federal tax? Dig deeper down into conservative principles, though, and it is hard to see where those conservative principles point except towards a carbon tax.

This is counter-intuitive, but conservatism in Canada is a rope wound out of four different strands: traditionalist conservatives, religious conservatives, free market conservatives and conservative populists. The first two strands provide reasons to be concerned about climate change. The last two provide important reasons why a carbon tax is the appropriate mechanism to use to reduce emissions.

Traditionalists are the type of conservative that dictionaries define as “Tory.” In Canada, they are personified by Robert Stanfield, Hugh Segal or Peter Lougheed. They advocate for a strong government able to pursue the collective interest. But they limit the scope of what government does. They have long argued that the growth associated with unrestrained capitalism damages local communities. Contemporary British Tories like Roger Scruton argue for strong government action to protect the environment.

Religious conservatives usually make the news for their positions on social issues such as euthanasia or abortion. But, all of the major religious traditions in Canadian society have well worked out traditions of social thought that cover the waterfront of political, economic and social issues. Over the last generation, all of these traditions have increasingly stressed the importance of environmental stewardship — perhaps most famously in Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato si.

This leaves us with free market conservatives and populists — the largest and most politically important strands of conservatism in Canada today. They part company with traditionalists or religious conservatives on the importance of environmental issues. But both types make powerful arguments about how government ought to pursue public goods that have important implications for how to approach climate change.

Free market conservatives, almost by definition, hold true to a central gospel: setting prices through the marketplace is an extraordinarily efficient way to allocate scarce resources. They don’t like taxes. However, they recognize the good that can come from a transparent tax, imposed fairly for a demonstrable social good.

Free market conservatives will argue cap and trade or carbon rationing requires a much more robust level of government intervention. And such taxes would destroy the market’s ability to communicate value accurately through setting prices. As such, they create winners and losers. A transparent tax, like the carbon tax, they might argue, treats all emissions equally. In so doing, it preserves the market’s inherent ability to accurately set the most efficient price.

This leaves populists. If by populist we mean popular, then premiers Moe and Ford have hit pay dirt. But, if we mean populist in the way that Canada’s most notable conservative populist, Preston Manning, defined the term, then we come to a different position. Manning emphasized that to be populist was to create mechanisms that allow ordinary people to bring their wisdom to bear on the making of public policy.

Recognizing the carbon cost of consumption decisions is a direct and transparent way to involve ordinary people in collective decisions. We end up in the same place as free market arguments. Indeed, Manning himself publicly supports a carbon tax.

So what we are left with are two arguments often made by conservatives but which, strictly speaking, are not conservative. One is jurisdictional: that this is a policy area in which the provinces ought to take the lead and not the federal government. Ultimately, this question will be decided by the courts. The other is regional: that a carbon tax which hurts provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan more than Quebec is unfair.

Both of these are important sets of questions. Answering them may tell us which government should do something about Canada’s carbon emissions. But it is inescapable that the “what should be done,” if it were to be done by conservatives, would have to look remarkably like a carbon tax.

Jim Farney is an associate professor of politics at the University of Regina, author of Social Conservatives and Party Politics in Canada and the United States and co-editor of Conservativism in Canada. He’s also a contributor with based at the University of Winnipeg.


If you want to support local, national and international journalism, there are deals this weekend on their subscriptions. Here is one:
National Observer ("a Canadian news website focused on investigative reporting and daily news on energy, climate, politics and social issues) -- annual digital subscription 55% off


"The free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad."
--Albert Camus

November 23, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Happening today:

Among other things, this day after American Thanksgiving is also known as Buy Nothing Day, and the Sierra Club Atlantic Canada Chapter reminds you of our "Affluenza" in this 30-second YouTube video (link)
and says the antidote is getting outside.

A Working Session on Local Institutional Procurement, 8:30AM-12noon, Farm Centre, Charlottetown.  "Expanding" on Thursday night's "Expanding Community Wealth: Relocalizing Strong Economies for Prince Edward Island, this session will explore "the implementation of an economic development strategy that redirects spending from public-sector anchor institutions for greater local procurement. The session will build upon the ‘Preston Model’ that has proven to rebuild and grow economies in several towns in England."  Both events are free and open to the public.
Facebook event link

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM-1PM.
Legislative Assembly website

Victorian Christmas Weekend begins today, with the Victorian outdoor Christmas Market being mostly local artisans and vendors.
Website with full listings for the weekend

4:30 - 5:30pm | UPEI Carolers at the Confederation Court Mall
5:00 - 8:00pm | Victorian Christmas Market
5:00 - 8:00pm | FREE Horse & Wagon Rides (Starting at Vic Row and Queen St.)
5:00 - 8:00pm | Warm-Up Zone at Confederation Court Mall - Black Friday Holiday Deals
5:00 - 6:30pm | Face Painting at the Market (Queen St. Stage)
5:30 - 6:30pm | UPEI Carolers at Victorian Christmas Market (Located on Queen St.)
6:15 - 7:00pm | Official Christmas Tree Lighting
7:00 - 8:00pm | Santa Claus Visits the Market (Queen St. Stage)
6:00 - 8:00pm | Ice Sculpting at the Market
5:30 - 6:30pm | Christmas Songs in the Confederation Court Mall
7:00 - 8:00pm | Christmas Singalong with Dave Woodside at the Market (Queen St. Stage)
7:00 - 8:00pm | Historical Walking Tour with Confederation Players (FREE)

(Though it is Buy Nothing Day, at least this is filled with local crafters and artisans (part 2), and the admission ($3) goes to help all the music programs....)
Colonel Gray Craft Fair, Friday: 5:30-9PM
Saturday 10AM-5PM,
175 Spring Park Road, Charlottetown.
Facebook event link
The Winter Music Concert is Wednesday, December 12th

Irish Lecture Series: Traditional Dance Music of Ireland, with Gormlaith Maynes, 7:30PM. Benevolent Irish Society hall, North River Road.  Adapted from the event notice:  "...provides insight into the traditional dance music of Ireland; of its instrumentation, its tune types, and of its various styles and ornamentation...its evolution, influences and survival, and how it has developed as a genre today.  (it) continues to hold a predominant role in society, particularly in rural towns and villages. (The lecture will draw) on the similarities and differences between traditional Irish and Acadian music, session etiquette and repertoire."  Maynes is from Drogheda in Co. Louth, Ireland, began to play the tin whistle at six years, moved to the concertina, her main instrument of study... (and) currently lectures at UPEI and is Coordinator of Celtic and Traditional Music at Holland College."
Facebook event link
News on Corridor Resources and the Green Gables fracked well....
This well had a fortunately short and ignominious life, with a crack somewhere and spill of radioactive tracker beads. 
CBC story from 2008

Recently, trucking equipment was seen in the area, and someone observed that the well is burning (see the Citizens' Alliance Facebook Group for the video).
It was reported that (edited) "...(A person) and Leo Broderick talked to the Province about this yesterday - why no heads up was ever given"?  "The crane is there to remove well is to take 6-8 days and supposedly flaring is part of process."

And presumably the equipment could be used in New Brunswick.  :-( 

Fracking was banned by the P.E.I. Legislature last year -- and it was Islanders like you who let your MLA and the former Environment Minister (Robert "Poppy" Mitchell) know that a complete ban -- no exceptions -- was necessary to be enshrined in the Water Act legislation, for this fragile little Island. 

News on the offshore oil spill near Newfoundland and Labrador,
which isn't really getting a lot of press, but here is a CBC article:

Think few reported oiled seabirds is good news? Not so fast, says MUN biologist - CBC News online article

A 'single drop' enough to lethally damage a dovekie, says seabird researcher Ian Jones

CBC News online,Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

The first dead oiled seabird has been found after Husky Energy's SeaRose FPSO spilled an estimated 250,000 litres of crude into the Grand Banks region of Newfoundland's waters, and a Memorial University biologist is bracing for more — possibly 100,000 more.

The province's offshore regulator reported Wednesday that 14 live oiled birds have been found, and four of them have been taken for cleaning at a rehabilitation centre set up by Husky in St. John's.

But it's misleading to think simply washing the birds can save them, says Ian Jones, a seabird ecologist at MUN.  "It's more of a public relations thing," he said. "As soon as you get an oiled bird on camera being washed, everybody's happy."

And though the numbers of birds found so far may seem low, Jones says even a few sightings right now could indicate catastrophic mortality.  "My guess is it means there's a horrendous number of dead birds out there."

Sea conditions since the spill have been extremely rough, hampering everything from cleanup efforts to a full damage assessment by remotely operated vehicles.

The chance of spotting birds in the towering waves, Jones said, is extremely low.  "Imagine being on a roller-coaster in a blizzard and then trying to make a bird count," he said. "I'm amazed they've seen any oiled birds."

As many as 100,000 seabirds, primarily murres and dovekies, risk hypothermia and poisoning in the wake of the spill, biologists have said. CBC News has requested access to Husky's bird rehabilitation centre, but a spokesperson for the company said only medical personnel may be admitted while birds stabilize.

Those rough sea conditions have also whipped the oil into a frothy mix that could be even more lethal for the birds, Jones said.  "It's getting pulverized into an emulsion like and oil and vinegar salad dressing," Jones said.

According to Jones, just one drop from an eyedropper of the petroleum mixture can cause a dovekie to die of hypothermia in a matter of days, separating the watertight coat and allowing cold water to penetrate to the birds' skin.

A teaspoon could kill a murre, he said.  Sometimes the damage isn't visible, as the coat may look untouched, he said.

The regulator and the federal environment ministry said Wednesday that no oil sheens were spotted in the Grand Banks area during recent observation flights.

"One of the big questions that's emerging is where is the oil?" he said.  Since the oil spilled from a flowline near the bottom of the sea, large quantities of it may still be migrating up to the surface, he said.  The water temperature, weather and density of the oil will all affect how quickly that happens, he said.

Jones said during the province's last major spill in 2004, responders would capture and wash the birds' coats to the point of being "squeaky clean" — only for their feathered wards to die just hours later.

At the point of recovery, seabirds are already weak, stressed and poisoned, Jones explained.  "They're at death's door, and just washing the oil off them isn't going to do anything," he said.

Seabird populations are distinctly more fragile than other bird populations, he said. Murres, for example, wait until they're much older to breed, and they lay just one egg at a time.  "They just can't handle mortality," he said. "A loss of 10,000 or 100,000 seabirds is huge damage to a seabird population."

While seabirds bear the brunt of ecological risk, other marine species are also susceptible to poisoning.

Whales, dolphins, fish, krill and plankton — practically all links of the food chain — could be killed through contact with toxic oil particles, Jones said.

"Any amount of crude oil suddenly released into the cold ocean is very damaging," he said.  When animals ingest those particles, it ruins their internal organs, he added.  "So they'll die an agonizing death, even if they get exposed to a tiny amount of oil."


"...(R)ecognize and respect Earth's beautiful systems of balance, between the presence of animals on land, fish in the sea, birds in the air, mankind, water, air, and land.  Most importantly, there must be awareness of the actions by people that can disturb this precious balance."

 --- Margaret Mead (1901-1978)

November 22, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


This morning:
Thursday Coffee and Conversation at the Haviland Club, 10AM.
  2 Haviland Street.  Tim Rose, new President of the Haviland Club, witll be speaking on "The Haviland Club: Renewal, Growth and Partnership" regarding the Haviland Club and its moving forward.  The last part includes forming partnerships with The Guild, UPEI, the PEI Writers Guild, The Culinary Institute, and Holland College. All welcome.

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM today.  After all usual order of Welcomes and Question Period, etc., Thursday is Opposition afternoon.
Legislative Assembly website has a Watch Live button and documents.
Legislative Assembly Facebook page shows the current video of proceedings, also.

The Standing Committee on Health and Wellness is NOT meeting this evening between the afternoon and evening sessions.  No rescheduling date has been set.

(check later as some events might be cancelled if blowing snow picks up)

The Harry Baglole Memorial Public Symposium at UPEI:  Measuring Quality of Life on Prince Edward Island, 7PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall, Auditorium Room 242.  With principal speaker Gwen Colman, founder of  Genuine Progress Index (GPI) Atlantic, "a pioneering research organization in creating new measures of wellbeing and progress." Hosted by the Institute of Island Studies (IIS).
IIS website

Globetrotting in Nova Scotia -- Geology Talks, 7PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House.  from the event notice:  "Join Bob Grantham, former Curator of Geology at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History and founding Executive Director of the Johnson Geo Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland, as he leads you on a trip around the globe as evidenced by the rock formations of the Maritime Provinces. Bob's talk is based on evidence in Nova Scotia, however the same formations are found elsewhere in the region."
Facebook event link

Expanding Community Wealth: Relocalizing Strong Economies for Prince Edward Island, 7-9PM, Farm Centre.  "...a public talk on re-localizing community wealth through ‘Import Replacement’, which is the process of plugging economic leaks in the economy....Free and open to the public."  By the Centre for Local Prosperity, co-sponsored with the City of Charlottetown and Institute for Bioregional Studies.

You are also invited to join in on Friday:
Friday, November 23rd:
A Working Session on Local Institutional Procurement, 8:30AM-12noon, Farm Centre, Charlottetown.  "Expanding" on Thursday night's "Expanding Community Wealth: Relocalizing Strong Economies for Prince Edward Island, this session will explore "the implementation of an economic development strategy that redirects spending from public-sector anchor institutions for greater local procurement. The session will build upon the ‘Preston Model’ that has proven to rebuild and grow economies in several towns in England."  Both events are free and open to the public.
Facebook event link

New Democratic Party of PEI names its Deputy Leader & Specialist for Rural Affairs, Agriculture & Fisheries
adapted from the media release, Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Joe Byrne, Leader of the Island New Democrats, named two members to his shadow cabinet during a news conference at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown this morning. Leah-Jane Hayward will serve as Deputy Leader, and Dr. Herb Dickieson in Rural Affairs, Agriculture and Fisheries.

The New Democrat Leader provided the rationale and mandate of these important appointments:
Leah-Jane Hayward is a former business woman who now works for an Island tour company. She is President of the Island New Democrats, and served as Party spokesperson during the transition to the leadership convention this past Spring. Ms. Hayward is the nominated New Democrat candidate in District 15, Brackley-Hunter River.  “Leah-Jane is working very hard in building a progressive alternative for Islanders. She has proven to be an effective listener and communicator, and I’m very proud to have her as my Deputy Leader,” said Joe Byrne.

Dr. Herb Dickieson is the former Leader of the Island New Democrats (1995-2002), Member of the Legislative Assembly (1996-2000), and retired family physician from West Prince, and was recently nominated as the New Democrat candidate for District 25, O’Leary-Inverness.  Mr. Byrne provided rationale for Dickieson’s appointment with, “Dr. Herb’s work as a rural physician and community leader, as well as his legislative experience, has him well positioned to seek out and understand the issues facing rural Islanders. His mandate will include our primary industries, farming and fishing, as well as service and infrastructure needs of rural Prince Edward Island. I am confident that his efforts in this important area will help prepare our Party with a comprehensive Rural Island platform for the coming provincial election.”

Headline is a little vague -- the letter is not:

LETTER: Estate managers for boardrooms - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

On Nov. 14, minister Richard Brown stated: "The Irvings do not have more influence on what happens in the government of P.E.I. than any other individual on P.E.I." To quote L.M. Montgomery's iconic character Anne Shirley: "Even my imagination has its limits."

On Nov. 2, 2017 the P.E.I. legislature's Standing Committee of Communities, Land and Environment passed a motion to ask Cavendish Farms and two other companies to come before it. The purpose was to ask them about the nature of their land holdings in the context of the intent and spirit of the Lands Protection Act.

On Nov. 1 of this year, Cavendish Farms' CEO Robert Irving did appear in front of this committee. He and his advisors offered a presentation highlighting the reach and impact of Cavendish Farms. This was followed by a list of changes/demands deemed necessary to maintain their preferred rate of growth in the potato processing industry.

After a clearly inadequate opportunity to ask questions, the chair announced the Cavendish Farms’ departure. Their contemptuous hijacking of the committee's initial agenda was treated by the government committee members with a cloying toadyism eerily reminiscent of our colonial past.

In a CBC interview on June 1 of this year, minister Jordan Brown characterized present government as "stewards of democracy." Apparently in its definition of democracy, government's primary role is that of estate manager for a short list of corporate boardrooms.

The critical first step away from this destructive model is for Islanders to adopt proportional representation.

Boyd Allen, Pownal

November 21, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM.  You can watch Live here and find documents at the Legislative Assembly's website.

Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM-12noon, J. Angus MacLean Building (Great George Street at Richmond). "The committee will continue its review of the Report of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly, dated March 7, 2018."
Her report can be found on this page.
After that, there will be an in camera session and the public will be asked to leave.
Facebook event link

Tonight, so now the "Draft Dennis King" people can work on other things...
Dennis King for PC Leader Campaign Launch, 7PM, Kings Playhouse, Georgetown.  "Doors will open at 6:30 pm and the launch will start at 7:00 pm. A reception will follow with entertainment provided by Barry O'Brien."
Facebook event link

A Merry Green Christmas Fundraiser for District 11, 7:30-9:30PM, Murchison Centre, PiusX Avenue, Charlottetown.  Join MLA Hannah Bell and have lots of fun; various fundraisers/prizes.  Tickets $10/$5
Facebook event link
A few small observations regarding the Third-Party Motion 90 Banning Conversion Therapy, discussed and unanimously passed in the Legislature last night:
Peter Bevan-Baker was his most eloquent self describing the situation ("you can't cure a disease that doesn't exist").
Brad Trivers rightly pointed it out as a good use of a Motion (and admitted he didn't know what the term referred to before this), to bring an issue to light, decide on it and bring it to the attention of Islanders.  (Unlike some rather frivolous motions we see.)
There was a kindness, caring and protective side to Steven Myers  he sometimes doesn't show, in his brief remarks.
The Motion is here and the video can be watched in the Archives (it was from about 8:15 to 8:50PM, or 1:15 minutes in)
Words to heed, and a bit of selective pressure science:

RUSSELL WANGERSKY: Science that should surprise no one - The Guardian column by Russell Wangersky

Published on Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

I get discouraged sometimes.

Discouraged, because, caught up in doing things the same way we always have, we keep doing them, even though we should know better.

The source of my latest discouragement? Reports late last week that fisheries scientists are seeing a change in some Atlantic Canadian snow crab stocks. Scientists found that male crabs have stopped growing: more than 80 per cent of the stock in some zones is now too small to catch.

The problem? The snow crab fishery targets large crabs, and those are vanishing, leaving only small crabs behind. What did we think would happen?

Crab that would normally be too small to win mating battles are now the right size.

Enter a concept known as “unnatural selection,” where an outside force imposes a new order in biological selection.

I first wrote about it in 1996, for a weekly newspaper called The Sunday Express, when I reported on a scientific study about the way successfully spawning male Dungeness crabs in British Columbia were getting smaller and smaller. Keep in mind, that was 22 years ago.

I’ve kept track of it since. Here’s what I wrote when I returned to the same topic in the St. John’s Telegram in 2001.

“Fifteen years ago, scientists working in British Columbia did some fascinating research on Dungeness crab; they suggested that if the fishing industry took only the largest male crabs, that might have some effect on the species as a whole. With the larger males out of the picture, smaller males that might lose mating battles had a chance to both mate, and pass on their genetic material.

“Not everyone agreed with the research, but most agreed with two points: that small male Dungeness crab seemed to be mating more often, and that smaller and smaller crabs seemed to be becoming sexually mature.

“Not only that; once they mate, a large proportion of the smaller males then stop growing, and never reach marketable size. But on the genetic front, like the Energizer Bunny, the pygmy crabs just keep going, and going.

“In the great wide evolutionary world of the Dungeness crab, smaller might suddenly be better, which would be great news if you’re already a small male Dungeness crab.

“It’s an intriguing proposition for the Newfoundland fishery, since we harvest — you’ve got it — exclusively the large males of the snow crab species. And the snow crab fishery is such a huge part of what remains of our fishing industry.”

Fast forward to today, and federal fisheries scientists are saying that they hope large male crabs will return — if left alone to grow — and that the change is, at this point, situational rather than genetic. In other words, if enough big crabs are still around to be given a chance to survive and mate, they re-establish the natural order.

It doesn’t always work that way. In the Caribbean, the fishery for large conch changed that species’ entire genetic history. Conches from 7,000 years ago had 66 per cent more meat in them, but, as scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute found in 2014, “Because of persistent harvesting of the largest conchs, it became advantageous for the animal to mature at a smaller size, resulting in evolutionary change.”

Scientists from Woods Hole found similar changes in cod, salmon and haddock: when big fish are targeted, smaller variants become more successful and pass on their genetic traits, including their smaller size.

The thing is, we’ve known for decades that selectively fishing large males skews species.

But there was lots of money involved. Snow crab is an important and valuable fishery in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador

So of course we did it anyway.

Discouraging, indeed.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at — Twitter: @wangersky.

November 20, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM, and 7-9PM today.  The evening is Opposition Time. At some point the government will start to go through the Capital Budget department by department.Documents, tweeted updates and ability to watch live here:  Legislative Assembly Website

Today is the last day to comment on the National Energy Board considerations for the Trans Mountain Pipeline -- see yesterday's Citizens' Alliance News for the message from Elizabeth May.

UN International Children’s Day Event: "Child and Family Poverty in PEI: Finding Solutions", 6:30PM, Trinity United Church Hall (220 Richmond Street). 
Hosted and facilitated by the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income, in partnership with the Public Health Associations of NB and PEI. Keynote speaker is Dr. Heather Morrison, Chief Health Officer.

Also tonight:
Sustainable Forest Practices for PEI: Compatible Ideas from Europe, 7PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall, Auditorium Room 242. Free and all welcome. "Dutch expert Gert-Jan Nabuurs will highlight his comparison of European style forestry to the situation in PEI with ideas about using wood chips for our local heating market."  More info: PEI Woodlot Owners Association website and the UPEI Climate Research Lab website.

And also tonight:

The Life and Times of Dr. Leo Frank: A Jewish Fox Rancher
with Dr. Joseph Glass, 7PM,
UPEI, SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge, free.

This is the Island Lecture Series November lecture.  More details


Thursday, November 22nd:

Expanding Community Wealth: Relocalizing Strong Economies for Prince Edward Island, 7-9PM, Farm Centre.  "...a public talk on re-localizing community wealth through ‘Import Replacement’, which is the process of plugging economic leaks in the economy....Free and open to the public."

Facebook event link

Also Thursday, another Institute for Island Studies event: Saturday, November 24th:

Measuring Quality of Life on Prince Edward Island, 7PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall, Auditorium Room 242.  This is the Harry Baglole Memorial Public Symposium in Island Studies, wiht principal speaker Gwen Colman, founder of  Genuine Progress Index (GPI) Atlantic, a pioneering research organization in creating new measures of wellbeing and progress. Great to see some wonderful discussions carried out in Harry Baglole's name.
IIS website

An Evening with Samuel Johnson, A Haviland Club fundraiser, 7-10PM, Haviland Club, Charlottetown. "...a one-man, two-act play showcasing Samuel Johnson, the remarkable 18th-century author, conversationalist, and personality" by Terry Pratt, Professor Emeritus of English at UPEI. Admission by donation.
Facebook event link

To the point:


Excluding the public from the public interest - The Guardian Letter of the Day

Published on Friday, November 17th, 2018

Loopholes in the P.E.I. Lands Protection Act are tools used by larger corporations to get around the law. Loophole defined by Webster is an ambiguity or omission through which the intent of the text may be evaded. The advertising guidelines established by IRAC to provide the opportunity for Islanders to acquire P.E.I. land pursuant to the Lands Protection Act contains a very large loophole. Section 4 of the Administrative Guidelines for Land Acquisition states as follows:

“Notwithstanding the general application of the advertising requirements, these requirements may be waived in those cases where: it has been demonstrated to the Commission (IRAC) that the acquisition would not be prejudicial to the public interest. For example, acquisitions of property as part of an initiative having significant economic benefit for the province and where the requirement to advertise the property might prevent the project or activity from going forward.”

This loophole gives the right to government to determine the public interest behind closed doors. This becomes particularly true when the economic benefit is deemed to be significant. One would think this would be the time when the public should be engaged in the decision process, not sidelined.

The purpose of the Lands Protection Act is to regulate the amount of land held by persons and corporations. If property can be sold, especially property deemed to be significant to the economy, without members of the community being aware, does this not undermine the purpose of the law in the first place. This loophole should be deleted. The failure to close this and other loopholes allows for the land to be controlled in fewer and fewer hands.

- Philip Callaghan is a member of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Lands

And a shorter letter with a big point, too -- plus the point of addressing poverty and its causes on P.E.I. was overlooked in the one "OneupsMLAship" going on....

LETTER: Story misses essential point - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, November 19th, 2018

Your story “Poverty question draws sharp rebuke,” seems to have missed the essential point to the reported interchange in the legislature. Both the headline and the focus of the story itself are off target.

Here are the bare bones of the exchange the story describes: Tina Mundy, Liberal minister, accused an opposition MLA of misleading Islanders. The minister was shown to be wrong. The minister was informed by her party’s House Leader that she “can’t say that.” The minister offered to withdraw her accusation.

The ‘sharpness’ of the minister’s rebuke was the focus of the headline and the leading paragraph of the story, but it is entirely beside the point. The point is the ill-considered inaccuracy of her rebuke and her apparent ignorance of parliamentary procedure and her own government’s reports.

Doug Millington, Charlottetown

November 19, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

A few things this week:
Tuesday, November 20th:
UN International Children’s Day Event: "Child and Family Poverty in PEI: Finding Solutions", 6:30PM, Trinity United Church Hall (220 Richmond Street).
Keynote speaker is Dr. Heather Morrison, Chief Health Officer.

Wednesday, November 21st:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM-12noon
, J. Angus MacLean Building (Great George Street at Richmond).
"The committee will continue its review of the Report of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly, dated March 7, 2018. PLEASE NOTE: following this review, the committee will move in camera to discuss operational and procedural matters."  Meaning people will be told they have to leave. "Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance."
Facebook event link
Fossil Fuel News and our coasts:

The East Coast:

Poor weather prompts temporary shutdown of all N.L. offshore rigs - CBC News online article by Malone Mullin

Weather still preventing Husky from cleaning up spill of 250,000 litres of crude

Posted on CBC online noon Sunday, November 18th, 2018

All Newfoundland and Labrador offshore facilities have been temporarily shut down as a safety precaution due to stormy seas and will not resume operations until the offshore industry regulator says it's safe to do so.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board confirmed the province-wide shutdown Saturday, in the wake an offshore spill that was one of the largest in the history of the N.L. industry.

Husky Energy reported Friday, after the storm, that a flowline to the SeaRose FPSO, a vessel stationed about 350 kilometres off the Newfoundland coast, leaked 250,000 litres of crude. The board is working "around the clock" to ensure appropriate response to the spill, spokesperson Lesley Rideout said.

Due to ongoing high swells, the spill has not yet been contained. A Husky spokesperson could not confirm whether the line has stopped leaking.  The board confirmed Saturday that the SeaRose FPSO, and other rigs including the Terra Nova FPSO and the Hebron platform, had suspended operations just before bad weather hit earlier in the week.

The SeaRose had begun preparing to resume operations Friday when they reported the spill.  "There are significant precautions taken prior to a storm like this," said Rideout. "All workers are safe, which is our main priority."

Offshore operators must obtain authorization from the board before they can continue production. Rideout said the board does not yet know when that will happen.

A number of accidents — and near misses — at sea followed the mid-week battering.  On Thursday, smoke was reported on the Hebron platform and the crew ordered to muster. According to the board, the smoke came from a breaker fault from standby switchgear. No fire was detected.

Also on Thursday, a Panamanian bulk carrier called for Canadian Coast Guard assistance after it took on water and endured a power outage, but crew wrested control of the flooding and restored power late Thursday evening. Reports claiming crew had abandoned ship in lifeboats were unfounded.

On Sunday afternoon, a Husky spokesperson said the company has been conducting hourly sweeps of the White Rose field with no oil sheens currently in the immediate vicinity of the field, with water monitoring and aerial surveillance. Two sheens were reported Saturday.

"There is a sheen located approximately 50 kilometres south of the field. The Maersk Dispatcher is in the area for surveillance and wildlife monitoring. To date, there have been no reports of impacted wildlife," said an email from Husky's Colleen McConnell.  "Additional wildlife observers have been placed on vessels responding to the spill," wrote McConnell, who added that the Skandi Vinland is en route to the White Rose field and would begin subsea inspections via remotely operated vehicles as soon as conditions permit.

McConnell said wildlife observers are aboard the Skandi Vinland, which arrived at the White Rose field Sunday night. The ship carries an underwater rover that will be dispatched when swells subside, she said.

A marine wildlife expert has told CBC News tens of thousands of seabirds could be at risk.

And the West Coast:

To consider, from Elizabeth May, Leader of the Federal Green Party; the deadline is tomorrow, and your comments do not have to be extensive at all. Thanks to Darcie Lanthier for passing this on.

Dear Concerned Citizen,

I am writing to you today about an important opportunity to have your voice heard by the National Energy Board (NEB) in the hearing on the Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC – Trans Mountain Expansion Project. This review was mandated by the government of Canada after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the original approval of this project.

The court quashed the permits because it found that the Federal Cabinet should not have accepted the NEB report as grounds to base their decision on. The fatal flaws of the National Energy Board report, according to the court, were the exclusion of the project’s impact on marine shipping and the failure to consult with affected First Nations. In turn, this meant that the NEB did not assess the possible impact of this project on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. With this ruling from the court, the government was forced to instruct the NEB to re-examine these issues and consult more meaningfully with First Nations.

While I am glad that the NEB is reviewing these concerns that I highlighted when I presented my evidence in the first round of hearings, I worry that the process is rushed and Canadians may be dissuaded from participating. It is vital that during these proceeding the Members of the National Energy Board hear from everyday citizens, such as yourself so that they know Canadian’s do not want this pipeline.

Below you will find step by step instructions on how to submit your letter of comment. These submissions are due on November 20th, so the time to act is now! For more context about the original NEB hearings, you can watch the final oral arguments I presented as an Intervenor. You can also read my request to continue to participate in this portion of the hearing. To read more about the scope of the hearing and review the information provided by the National Energy Board, click here.

Thank you for taking the time to engage in our democracy. Please feel free to forward this email to your friends and colleagues. I hope that you will continue speaking out on issues that matter to you.

For the coast,

Elizabeth May, O.C.
Member of Parliament
Saanich-Gulf Islands

Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Step by step instructions for navigating the NEB submission process

Go to and click BEGIN.

Step 1: Review and agree to the privacy agreement.

Step 2: Select Project name: Trans Mountain Expansion Project – Reconsideration – MH-052-2018. The file number should be “OF-Fac-Oil-T260-2013-03 59.”

Step 3: Enter the title of your submission, your name and indicate your role.

Step 4: Enter your contact information.

Step 5: Upload your document with your letter of comment and select “Letter of Comment” for your document type.

Step 6: Skip this step unless you plan on submitting hard copy documents (not recommended).

Step 7: Identify up to 10 people you would like the NEB to send a copy of your submission, please include on this list.

Step 8: Confirm your submission details and submit your letter of comment.

Northwest Coast, just a little east of Alaska:

Arctic Oil Drilling Project Approved by Trump Administration - EcoWatch article by Lorraine Chow

Published by EcoWatch on Thursday, October 25th, 2018

The Trump administration's unrelenting quest for Arctic oil and gas took a major step on Wednesday as it approved an energy company's controversial production plan.
<snip> rest of story and map at the link

November 18, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today:

Christmas Craft Fair at Macphail, 11AM-4PM, Macphail Homestead, Orwell.  "Our cozy Christmas Fair... Wreaths, paintings, alpaca and wood products, sewn items, German delicacies, and books will be among the items available. Also enjoy fresh-baked scones, homemade soup, and some sweets while you shop."
Facebook event link

North Rustico Lionettes Craft Sale, 1-4PM, North Rustico Lions Club, 17 Timber Lane,
Facebook event link

Classic Movie: The Grapes of Wrath (1940), 1:30PM, City Cinema. $10. John Ford won best director, Jane Darwell Best Actress as Ma Joad, for this adaption of John Steinbeck's novel.  Also starring Henry Fonda. As a result of The Dust Bowl, a "poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression."  Facebook event link

It makes one wonder if we may see the reverse with the fires along the West Coast.  Re-sharing here from the Citizens' Alliance Facebook Group:

From Dan Rather, journalist, on Friday, November 16th, 2018, and "Please, Canada, take notice" could be added:
Please America take notice of California wildfires. Dozens confirmed dead. Hundreds missing. Thousands homeless. Millions choking on toxic air. Closed schools. People wearing masks. No immediate end in sight. Oh, and please do not neglect #climatechange in your coverage.
Catching up with the PEI Progressive Conservative leadership hopefuls, who will probably be at various fundraising dinners; one was moved due to weather to Monday, November 26th (Charlottetown) and there is one November 30th in Tyne Valley.

PC Declared and not-quite declared leadership candidates and where to find some information about them:
Kevin Arsenault is working on signatures, especially from Kings County, and has a series of articles discussing topics of major interest he would work toward: protecting land, water and air from "further deterioration and chemical poisoning – or, in the case of land, sale to non-resident land speculators and/or corporations", and "abolishing the secretive and controlling style of government we have been enduring for the past decade under the Ghiz and MacLauchlan Liberals"  The article links are in the right sidebar of his website.

Allan Dale is attending events, meeting people.  He is declared and has his nomination papers in.
Facebook page

"Draft Dennis King" is in the, well, drafting stage.  The well-known storyteller and former communications manager for Pat Binns has said nothing publicly, but CBC Radio changed its Political Panel last Friday, dropping King and Liberal booster Mary Lynn Kane, keeping publisher Paul MacNeill, and adding political journalists Stu Neatby from The Guardian and Kathy Large. It was a much, much more informative and while not wildly entertaining, much, much more civil.  (I'll post the link when I can find where CBC loads it to its website.)
Facebook page link

Sarah Stewart-Clark is working in Kings County to finish getting her signatures and has lots of enthusiastic supporters. Here is her nomination for District 11 page on the PEI PC website
Facebook page

Bloyce Thompson, dairy farmer in Kings County, has I think halted his plans to run and encouraged those supporting him to go for Dale.

Regarding supporting the nomination and election of any of these candidates, If you are 14 years or older, you can purchase a membership for $10 (their is a Youth rate, too).  You can support an nomination, attend the convention on Saturday, February 9th, 2019, and vote in person, or vote online or by phone. (You can also write and withdrawn your membership at any time.)

From Paul MacNeill, publisher of The Graphic newspapers, this week:

Could Liberals go back to the future? - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, November 14th, 2018, in The Graphic publications

Premier Wade MacLauchlan has never shone in the provincial legislature; cameras and the cut and thrust of debate are not allies to his methodical speaking style. In part because of this, Liberal support has tended to decline during fall and spring sessions.

But something changed earlier this year. Liberal support, as expected, dropped during the spring session; the premier’s personal support tanked. But as of yet there is no appearance of rebound, despite a strong economy. Combine with a surging Green Party, a PC Party hoping for rejuvenation and this session could be a defining one for the Liberal government.

Liberals wanted to drop the election writ this fall. Public opinion polls scared them away. Now there is an increasing chance Islanders will not go to the polls until 2020 and a growing question as to whether MacLauchlan will be around to lead the party as it campaigns for a fourth mandate.

In recent weeks the government has made a litany of good news announcements, from affordable housing and an extra increase in the personal tax exemption to investments in health care and education.

It is all part of an attempt to shift public perceptions and reward Liberals with solidified support, a requisite for an election call. All of this ‘good news’ is funded by an ‘unexpected’ budget windfall of $75 million, which government credits to a surge in corporate tax and HST (remember the Liberals increased this dreaded tax) revenue. Because the windfall was such a ‘surprise’, government never bothered to tell Islanders until it rolled out tens of millions in new spending. Seven months into this fiscal year government hints the tax haul will continue, but offers no pubic update, which speaks to either a competency or transparency issue.

“We’re not cutting programs,” Finance Minister Heath MacDonald said in justifying the spending spree. Well, that is exactly what sadly passes for leadership on PEI. Our provincial debt is $2.5 billion. Interest rates are increasing. Our 30 plus year ability to turn short-term debt into long-term debt at lower interest rates is now swinging in the other direction. It means we are giving our children the gift of a staggering debt they cannot repay.

For decades we have layered government program on top of government program. We have no idea what programs are relevant, efficient, cost-effective or needed. Any government interested in the future would conduct a complete program review, not with an eye to cutting but delivering true priorities like education and health to all Islanders in an era of an aging demographic and labour shortages.

And this brings us to the fall session. The MacLauchlan government will attempt to paint itself as a trusted steward of taxpayer revenue, when in reality it is more a beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time. It’s relied annually on tens of millions from immigrant investors, record transfers from the federal government and increased tax revenue to sustain unchecked spending. For the better part of two years government has tried to frame a booming economy and growth in GDP as its primary selling point.

Islanders aren’t buying it. It remains to be seen whether bribing Islanders with crumbs of their own money will do the trick.

Announcements aimed at showing empathy are now often held with the premier taking a backseat to ministers, or not being involved at all. It’s a sign MacLauchlan is aware of the image many Islanders have of him.

He is also aware of the conundrum the three term government finds itself in. Planned, but unannounced, Liberal nominations are on hold. The party is trying to navigate an uncertain path to electoral victory.

If the current public relations offensive does not work and there is not a rebound in Liberal support, a growing number will join small whispers already suggesting that path is to repeat history. MacLauchlan assumed the mantle of leadership when Liberals appeared weak and on the verge of losing power. A repeat is risky, but no more so than a leader campaigning with a 20 per cent approval rating.

Of course this is just idle speculation. But given the state of flux in Canadian politics, where voters are repeatedly ousting sitting governments, perhaps a time out from the race to the ballot box is just what the Liberals need.

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited.


Another quote like yesterday, offered with a smile:

"If you are prepared to run for public office, you also have to be willing to accept a debate about you."

--- Wolfgang Schauble (b. 1942) German politician

November 17, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

Craft Fairs:
Trinity-Clifton United Church, 9:30AM-2PM
, corner of Richmond and Prince, use Richmond Street Hall entrance).
Christmas in a Barn, Saturday and Sunday, Appin Road, Bonshaw.
Facebook page with details

Fall Wild Bird Food Sale: today until Saturday, December 1st, Saturdays 8AM-12noon and Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM, Philips Agri Services on Exhibition Drive.  "All Wild Bird Food, Feeders and Accessories will be on sale. A portion of our year-round sales go to support the work and projects of the Island Nature Trust."

Rainbow Valley production, last two shows, 2PM and 7:30PM, The Guild, ticketed.
Facebook event link
Some deadlines:
Thursday, November 22rd, just before midnight:
Daughters of the Vote application
for the next session in April 2019.  "Equal Voice Canada launched the applications process for its second edition of the Daughters of the Vote (DoV) initiative, providing an opportunity for 338 young women aged 18 to 23 from across Canada to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime multi-partisan political leadership program in the spring of 2019."  More info:
Thanks to MLA Brad Trivers for sending a heads-up

Tuesday, December 18th:
Public Consultation on a Provincial Sustainable Transportation Strategy deadline

A good opportunity to discuss your concerns and ideas.  No ability to see what others have written, though the Green Party welcomes hearing what people write (as I am sure anyone's Party if they have one should be, and MLA should be interested in what their constituents want to say).
More details:
The PEI Green Party Newsletter for November includes mention of the Sustainable Transportation Strategy consultation towards the end of the newsletter, here:
In New Brunswick:
Thursday there was a protest to the potential lifting of moratorium on shale gas in New Brunswick by the PC government of Blaine Higgs.
Story from the NB Media Co-op

"Blaine Higgs’ Progressive Conservative cabinet was sworn in on Nov. 9 after Brian Gallant’s Liberal government lost a confidence motion to govern on Nov. 2.
Higgs has said that his government will move to lift the moratorium in places that support shale gas development soon after the new legislature begins on Nov. 20.

One of those places that Higgs sees open for shale gas is the rural Sussex region, part of the unceded Sikniktuk territory.
While the Conservative MLA for Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins,
Bruce Northrup, supports lifting the moratorium by Christmas, a number of community groups across the province are opposed to fracking for shale gas. The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance wants the government to support the development of green energy sources instead.
Corridor Resources stands to gain the most from the lifting of the moratorium. Corridor operates the
McCully gas field in Penobsquis, a farming community next to Sussex.
Penobsquis is not only home to farms; its landscape is dotted with closed potash mines, gas well pads, gas wells, natural gas compressor stations, a drill rig site, a grouting station, an oil well, pipelines and gravel pits.
Penobsquis made headlines in recent years after residents
lost their water. They link the loss of their water to seismic testing done by Corridor Resources in PotashCorp’s potash mine." <snip>

Also in New Brunswick, former Premier Brian Gallant cautions his successor about several things, including leading as if you have a majority -- a definite reason to move to Proportional Representation: 

Gallant's regrets turn to successes in 'jaded' Liberal leader's farewell - CBC News on-line article by Jacques Poitras

Former premier points at others as he explains how adversarial politics took hold

Published on CBC on-line on Thursday, November 15th, 2018

The newly humbled, newly contrite Brian Gallant was a little less humble, a little less contrite Thursday as he announced he would resign as leader of New Brunswick's Liberal party.

In his speech to close the throne speech debate on Nov. 2 — his last chance as premier to win over opposition MLAs in a confidence vote — Gallant offered a tantalizing glimpse inside the mind of a leader who had squandered his 2014 majority election win.

He reminded the house that he ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party on a promise of "a new approach" — a more collaborative style of governing that, he admitted, he had failed to deliver.  "One of my greatest regrets as a legislator is that over time, I became too jaded and fell into some of the old, adversarial ways of this place," he said.

But Thursday, as he revealed his decision to step down, there was less self-examination. Gallant argued that the "new approach" had worked out after all.  "This new approach helped us as a government make substantive changes to improve transparency and strengthen our economy," he said.

Never mind that the first example he cited — a ban on corporation and union donations to political parties — actually came to pass as a result of a Progressive Conservative amendment to a Liberal bill.

It seemed fair to ask: precisely how did he became more jaded as premier and fall into the adversarial ways of politics? How would he advise future party leaders to avoid that trap?

"I'll get all theoretical with you on what I think happens to a lot of people, not just myself," he answered.

But first, he took credit for less heckling in the legislature, a rule he imposed on his Liberal MLAs.

"That's improved a lot on the side of our caucus, and that's helped the tone," he said.
Then, he indeed talked about "a lot of people, not just myself" — by blaming others for the cynicism that took hold of him.

He faulted the Progressive Conservatives, for example, for not going along with his "new approach" to be less partisan.

"When you try, if you're the only one, it's a bit difficult," he said.

He pointed to his first day in the house in 2013 as Opposition leader. He told the Liberal caucus that they would approach question period differently — not by attacking the PC government but by asking what they could do to help.

His MLAs were against the idea, Gallant said.

"They said we would just get 'thumped,' as they called it," he said. "I said, 'No, no, it'll change the tone.' And we did that, and all the government of the day did was get up and start criticizing us."

Gallant also blamed the media for conflict-centric political coverage that rewards those who behave badly.

"Sometimes when there's an important issue, politicians feel they have to take on those adversarial ways to get a bit of attention," he said.

"That certainly fuels that cycle a little bit, but it's not an excuse. We all have to be mature about the roles we've been asked to play here."

Not having explained his own role in becoming jaded, Gallant committed himself to being a more collaborative leader of the Official Opposition while the Liberals seek a new leader.

He said he would speak around the province about official bilingualism, a subject he admitted he didn't address enough as language issues grew in importance and toxicity over his four years in power.

"We can strengthen our social fabric and be more united than ever if we talk about this issue in a fact-based and respectful way," he said.

A bit of advice for Higgs

On Ottawa's plan to impose a carbon tax on New Brunswick — because his own plan failed to comply with the national standard — Gallant offered Higgs what felt like sincere advice.

Don't fight it in court, he said: the Liberal government's own legal advice had concluded it was a losing battle. Instead, negotiate with Ottawa to develop a regime that works here while complying with federal requirements.

He even tossed out Prince Edward Island's model as one Higgs might like.

But on other issues Gallant was decidedly, well, adversarial. He said Higgs — with 32 per cent of the popular vote in September's election — has "no mandate" to undo a Liberal moratorium on shale gas fracking.

And he said he hopes the PCs won't "sell their souls" by letting the three-member People's Alliance caucus dictate government policy.

And what about in the legislature — the place Gallant's "new approach" went to die?

"The caucus is completely resolved to do what we can to be more collaborative," Gallant said.

But that question period strategy from his first day 2013, when Gallant and his MLAs offered to help the PC government — only to be spurned? Will he try it again?

The new spirit of collaboration doesn't extend to showing your hand.

"I won't say anything now," Gallant said. "It might be a good strategy and I don't want them to be ready for it."

With New Brunswick in mind, words to the present P.E.I. government, perhaps:

The past cannot be changed.  The future is yet in your power.

November 16, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM-1PM today.  Finance Minister Heath MacDonald will be tabling the Capital Budget about 11:30AM.  The Capital Budget is "a forecast of spending for infrastructure and capital projects such as roads and bridges, public buildings, and equipment" and it's released and debated (and voted on) in the Fall Legislature, as opposed to the Operating Budget, which is released during the Spring Sitting, usually.

The Capital Budget (2018-2019) released in November 2017, with five year plans to 2013, is here, in case you want to refer to it:

You can watch the Assembly at their website, here:

Since events tonight may be pre-empted by bad weather (please check the status before heading out), here are three very interesting events happening next week, to consider:

Tuesday, November 20th:
UN International Children’s Day Event: "Child and Family Poverty in PEI: Finding Solutions", 6:30PM, Trinity United Church Hall (220 Richomond Street). 
Hosted and facilitated by the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income, in partnership with the Public Health Associations of NB and PEI. Keynote speaker is Dr. Heather Morrison, Chief Health Officer.

Thursday, November 22nd:
Expanding Community Wealth: Relocalizing Strong Economies for Prince Edward Island, 7-9PM, Farm Centre.  from the event notes:  "A study released by the Centre for Local Prosperity in January 2018 showed that 44% of the dollars generated in the Island economy leak away to somewhere else.  Join us for this public talk on re-localizing community wealth through ‘Import Replacement’, which is the process of plugging economic leaks in the economy. Specifically, we will explore a process that redirects spending from public-sector anchor institutions for greater local procurement. Free and open to the public."
Facebook event link

Saturday, November 24th:
An Evening with Samuel Johnson, A Haviland Club fundraiser, 7-10PM, Haviland Club, Charlottetown.
  from the event notes: "Yr. Obedient Servant, by New York playwright Kay Eldridge, is a one-man, two-act play showcasing Samuel Johnson, the remarkable 18th-century author, conversationalist, and personality who, in the face of many setbacks, put together the first true dictionary for English. Johnson went on to become the authoritative -- while much troubled -- man of letters for his era. (Haviland Club) Member Dr. Terry Pratt will bring Samuel Johnson to life. Dr Pratt is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Prince Edward Island, and taught 18th-century literature and linguistics for 35 years. From 2004-2007 he presented the first act only -- 'Dictionary Johnson' -- in schools, seniors' community homes, the PEI Theatre Festival, and an academic conference at Boston University. His director, then and now, is Ann Boyles, with costumes by Pam Jewell. Admission is by donation, at the door. The audience is invited to stay after the performance when Terry will be glad to answer any questions."
Facebook event link

While you may have some computer time this afternoon during the snow, here are some social media Coalitions this and that:

The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, composed of members of several different organizations and interested citizens on the Island, was formed almost five years ago to address the concern about lifting the moratorium on high capacity ("deep-water") wells and other issues affecting water quality and quantity.  Its presentations to the Standing Committee on Environment and public engagement urged government to work on a substantial Water Act.
Here is a link to the Water Coalition's Facebook PAGE, which a couple of people administer and put up articles of interest for all to share in as timely a manner as possible (for a bunch of volunteers :-) :
Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water PAGE

The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water has a Facebook GROUP, where anyone can post and comment, and worth checking, too:
Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water Facebook GROUP

Recently formed is the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Land, the impetus being the apparent bending of the rules set in the Lands Protection Act.  This is also a group of representatives from various organizations and interested individuals.

Here is the National Farmers Union Facebook page.  The NFU supports farmers, anyone can be a member, and they have been keeping an eye on the Lands Protection Act issues.

A "research proposal" we are just finding out about:

Cavendish Farms denies secret meetings; proposes independent study of high-capacity wells for P.E.I. - The Guardian article by Ryan Ross

Published on Thursday, November 15th, 2018

There have been no secret meetings between Cavendish Farms and the government about a high-capacity well proposal, says a spokesman for the company.  Jubs Bristow, Cavendish Farms’ vice-president of agriculture, spoke to The Guardian after the company released details of the project Thursday and a day after the Opposition described it as a “secret proposal”.  Bristow said he disagrees with any suggestion there is a lack of public oversight on the proposal or that Cavendish Farms has an undue influence on the government.  “The people who have been involved will vouch for that," he said.

The Cavendish Farms proposal involves collaboration between the company and three watershed groups to show what the company called a sustainable approach to irrigation.  Test wells would be in service for several years at sites with no history of irrigation and use modern irrigation equipment. Each watershed area would have an established irrigation well and a new high-capacity test well as part of the research project.  If there is any adverse impact from a test well on a local water supply, its permit would be revoked and the well decommissioned.

Watershed groups involved in the Cavendish Farms project:

·         Kensington North Watersheds Association Inc.

·         Bedeque Bay Environmental Association

·         West Point and Area Watersheds Inc.

The project would study the economic yield of the test fields, the fate of nutrients applied to them, the impact on local water supplies, greenhouse gas production and the impact on local streams.

Cavendish Farms proposes to share all information from the study, including real-time well water data.  The company says the project’s objectives include showing the effective use of modern well monitoring and irrigation technology in a way that ensures the protection of the groundwater supply.

It will also assess how supplemental irrigation can improve the economic productivity of potatoes.  Bristow said Cavendish Farms isn’t looking for government to unilaterally lift its moratorium on new high-capacity wells.

He also said nobody the company met with has been asked to endorse irrigation.

“What we’re asking people to do is collaborate with us on independent, credible, sustainable research because we do not want to be impacting the aquafer in a negative way or putting individual households or people’s livelihoods with their water resource at risk."The idea is to have research wells to get credible data using the newest and latest technology to see what the impact would be, Bristow said.  “Only after that research is done, then look at now, is it feasible to lift the moratorium to certain levels and/or to lift the moratorium in certain watershed areas under a managed program.”

Bristow said the industry is facing challenges with drought conditions putting pressure on yields, and less rainfall is going to become the norm as climate change progresses.

Cavendish Farms understands water is a public resource, and it will be a collaborative effort to do sustainable research, Bristow said, as he listed several organizations the company met with to discuss the proposal.

Those groups included the Environment Department, UPEI, the PC and Green parties, the P.E.I. Potato Board, some potato growers, the Canadian Rivers Institute and the three watershed groups that will be involved in the study (listed above).  Bristow said the next step is to wait for the government to approve the research project so the company can proceed with doing scientific testing.  Cavendish Farms is willing to meet with the government or any of the interested parties so it can continue with the research project, he said.


A Friday funny, not trying to make any associations or correlations...

"We don't fund enough research for finding a cure for jerks."
--Bill Watterson, cartoonist and creator of Calvin and Hobbes

November 15, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM.  You can attend in the Gallery, or watch from their website or Facebook page

In between, a working dinner for some:
Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy, 5:15PM, J. Angus MacLean Building.
"The Committee will receive a briefing on the topic of vehicles passing school buses (relating to Bill No. 101 – An Act to Amend the Highway Traffic Act): Neuron Communications Inc. (Mr. Jeff Paquet).
The committee will also consider its report to the Legislative Assembly. PLEASE NOTE this part of the meeting will be held in camera pursuant to Rule 104(1)."

Events tonight:
Thursday, November 15th:
Book Launch: The Cove Journal, by JoDee Samuelson, 7PM
, Beaconsfield Carriage House.  edited from the Island Studies Newsletter:  "Published by Island Studies Press, The Cove Journal gathers seven years of her writing and original illustrations into a collection that celebrates the passing of the seasons, the rise and fall of gardens, the friendship with neighbours, and simple daily life in 'the Cove"... JoDee will be joined by fiddler Roy Johnstone, accompanied by Margie Carmichael on guitar."
Yesterday in Question Period, Communities, Land and Environment Minister Richard Brown was questioned about secret meetings with Cavendish Farms/Irvings and concessions in land limits and high-capacity wells.  Richard Brown staunchly defended the Irvings as being model corporate citizens and environmental stewards, and expressed confusion as to how anyone wanting to create business would not be welcomed. 

Minister Brown said he is willing to meet with anyone who wants to discuss environmental issues, and he has obviously made time for Irvings and for the National Farmers Union, but some smaller groups have found a bit of disorganization in setting up meetings and haven't met with him in the ten months he has been in this portfolio.

Question Period transcript from Wednesday, November 14th (the discussion regarding the Irvings is in the first few pages):
click on the November 14 box:

 A note from The Huddle -- Business is Good , a Maritime pro-business publication, in June 2018 informing people that:

Robert Irving Buys $11.5-Million Florida Estate Near Bill Gates and Billy Joel - The Huddle article by Mark Leger

Thursday, June 28th, 2018, by Mark Leger
Beautiful, haunting words from Gary Schneider:
Published on Wednesday, November 14th, 2018, in The Guardian

OPINION: Throes of addiction - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Gary Schneider

“We know it will never be enough. They’ll still want more land, more water, more subsidies”

After watching the presentation by representatives of Cavendish Farms to the Standing Committee on Communities, Lands and Environment, I can’t help but worry about what kind of a world we are leaving to our children.

Dr. Gabor Maté is a renowned Canadian physician with an expertise in addiction. In his book The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, he talks about the Buddhist idea of different realms people can occupy during their life.

“This is the domain of addiction, where we constantly seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment.

The aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances, objects or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need. We don’t know what we need, and so long as we stay in the hungry ghost mode, we’ll never know,” he writes.

Increasingly, we seem to be slipping into this realm, whether on a global, national, or provincial level. Growth is said to be good, without really analysing what the growth is doing to us.

More jobs are a positive thing, even though they may be part time and poorly paid positions, with no benefits, that were subsidized by taxpayers.

The presentation to the Standing Committee was reflective of this philosophy. Robert Irving would like the province to break the Lands Protection Act by more than doubling the ownership limits. This makes no sense. Several times he pointed out that they were not looking for more potato acreage, just larger farms. That would have to lead to fewer potato farmers in the province.

He would like to greatly accelerate the trend of fewer farmers holding larger acreages. The carrot tossed to the public was that farmers would be able to have enough land to grow 700 acres of potatoes and have a one-in-three-year crop rotation. But with current crop rotation legislation already being ignored or weakened by exceptions, there are no guarantees that even larger farms would respect the rules.

He also spoke of the need for more water, without actually voicing his desire for the moratorium on high-capacity wells to be lifted. But again, we all know that is the end game. What I worry about most is that the provincial government caves in and gives away the farm, so to speak. And then gives away the water, too.

In the presentation, Irving talked about having to bring in potatoes from Maine, Alberta, and other growing areas, as well as shutting down the fresh potato plant in O’Leary and diverting those potatoes to french fries.

But that is because they continue to grow their business. It seems as though there is no recognition of the carrying capacity of the land. Just how many fries can be produced on P.E.I. without pushing the environment past the tipping point? Does the industry continue to grow until they flee the province when the resources – in this case soil and water - are used up?

It was also almost tragic to hear Mr. Irving talk about “rich soils” on P.E.I. In fact, he said it twice, as if that would convince us. But our soils are far from rich. Most have alarmingly low levels of organic matter, something a 17-year study by Agriculture and Agrifoods Canada scientists has clearly documented. As for nutrients, you wouldn’t get much of a potato crop if you planted into fields without lime and fertilizer purchased from the Irvings.

Maté was writing about addictions and that seems to be what we are seeing – a processing giant in the throes of addiction, with a perpetual need for more and more, a longing can never be fulfilled.

We know it will never be enough. They’ll still want more land, more water, more subsidies. I really despair for this province if our government doesn’t stand up for the rights of all of Islanders and the environment.

This recent attempt to influence government is clearly not a matter of need. It is just another attempt to feed the hungry ghost.

- Gary Schneider, co-chair, Environmental Coalition of P.E.I.

Gary Schneider is being given a Mentor Award -- well-deserved.

Gary Schneider to receive Mentor Award Nov. 21 - The Guardian online article by Sally Cole

Rotary Club of Charlottetown Royalty to bestow honour on man behind Macphail Woods

Published online at The Guardian

Gary Schneider is the recipient of the 2018 Mentor Award for the Rotary Club of Charlottetown Royalty and will receive the award on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m., during a dinner in his honour at the Charlottetown Hotel. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Schneider is being recognized for his work in forestry.  “It’s an honour. It’s a reflection on Macphail Woods and the work we all have done there. So it’s a reflection on everyone,” says Schneider, during a telephone interview.

Described as P.E.I.’s equivalent of “Smokey the Bear”, the tall, genial, gentle, approachable Stratford resident is a dedicated advocate for trees, wildlife habitat and the environment.

Schneider’s love affair with trees began in the late 70’s and early 80’s when he moved to P.E.I. to live in the country and fell in love with the native forest.  He became a tree planter and, later, part of a four-person cooperative in Kings County that carried out a variety of silvicultural treatments in Island forests.

In 1991 Schneider went to work for Macphail Woods on an ecological forestry project. He saw his work as a way to demonstrate sustainable management and restoration of the Acadian forest. But, it became so much more. He collected seeds, ran a plant nursery and planted native species.

Schneider also used his position at Macphail to develop environmental education for Islanders young and old. He runs children’s camps, hosts Elderhostel visit and leads owl prowls. He runs tours for UPEI and Holland College students, holds workshops on owls, tree and shrub identification, bird identification, native plant landscaping, forest restoration and pruning methods.

He works with the Island municipalities of Charlottetown, Stratford and Souris in creating and implementing planning plans for urban parks and wetland areas and manages 2,000 acres of forest for the provincial government. He also works with private landowners.

In 2009, Schneider developed and co-taught a UPEI field course on ecological forestry. Eight of these have been held to date and he has had a central role in each, teaching plant identification, wildlife enhancement, restoration and implementation.

For more information about purchasing tickets, call Earl Pickard at 902-892-4231 before Friday, Nov.16.


An article about Gabor Mate (the physician quoted by Gary Schneider in his Opinion Piece) in The Philadelphia Inquirer after that horrific synagogue shooting, and Mate's thoughts on addictions, and the violent hate crimes in the States: was my introduction to Gabor Mate several years ago, through this mind-opening book for parents/grandparents/teachers, written by Gordon Neufeld and Mate:
"No society can understand itself without looking at its shadow side.”
― Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

November 14, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today:

Public Accounts Standing Committee meeting, 10AM, J. Angus MacLean Building, Great George Street.  This meeting was postponed from last week, when no Liberal MLA committee members were free.  The topics will be to review the "
proceedings of the Joint Conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees and Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors; time permitting, the committee will continue its review" the March 2018 Report of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly,and Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be there.

The full P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM.  You can attend in person, or watch here:

Charlottetown Community Energy Plan - Open House & Draft Review, Drop-in 1-8PM, Rodd Charlottetown, Kent Street.  City staff will be on hand to listen to feedback and answer questions.  Presentations on the draft Community Energy Plan at 1PM (geared towards "stakeholders") and also at 6PM (geared toward the "general public").  The Draft Community Energy Plan is here:…/programs_and_i…/community_energy_plan
Facebook event link

Fight for Affordable Housing Second Meeting, 6-8PM, Farm Centre, continuing with ideas from the October 25th meeting.
Facebook event link
Rhetoric: language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.

That could describe the tone of part of the opening day of the Fall Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature yesterday, at least the part of Question Period I watched; but it was almost unwatchable, a melee on carbon pricing and taxing.  The questions bordered on histrionic, reminding me of the Robert Ghiz years, and the answers were long-winded and right back to the definition of rhetoric.  It continued in the same mood for the rest of the afternoon, with the Liberals discussion of Motion 55 --To Recognize the Strength of the Provincial Economy.
The words "WHEREAS the economy is on a tear" actually enshrined in a Government Motion pretty much set the tone for the fatuous use of government resources-- advertising dressed up as legislative debate -- for the rest of the afternoon.

The evening session, set for other than Government business, got to work on Jamie Fox's Private Member's Bill No. 104 -- Public Intervener Act, which had good discussion about providing people with support when approaching/fighting government; although again as in the afternoon, a few MLAs really like to dominate the record with their every observation.  A part felt like an old police TV show, with one former big cop aggressively interrogating another former police officer (in this case, on the particulars of his bill).  At some point, Peter Bevan-Baker graciously recommended the bill go to Committee to get fine-tuned, and the bill's proponent Jamie Fox graciously accepted the suggestion.  A Third Party motion about Housing First (No. 71) was discussed and the government's housing projects were explained in detail during Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy's turn to comment.  Al Roach got ten minutes at the end to talk about the Motion recognizing and supporting those who help children in times of crises and loss; the authoritarian interrogation from earlier in the evening replaced by genuine distress at the traumas in his community affecting children.

The evening ended with a dramatic announcement by the concerned Transportation Minister that the roads were in horrible shape and urging those there to drive carefully or not leave Charlottetown, but that all road crews were out.  Since it sounds like it was Deputy Minister Kathleen Casey's birthday, perhaps everyone was invited to stick around and celebrate that.
More today, and let's hope they remember their "better natures" and work together on issues with a bit less factionalism.
Regarding the economic tear and tears, in our greater area:

Russell Wangersky: Feeling the chill - The Guardian column by Russell Wangersky

Published on Friday, November 9th, 2018

It’s the wrong season.  At least, that’s what my antenna is saying.  And it makes me think we’re actually on the sharp cliff edge of something that’s been developing for years.

I’ve been a business reporter and business editor in the past — and not only that, but I’ve been on the senior management team of a newspaper, so I’m familiar with the retail cycle.

January and February are a dead zone for many retailers, a time when they retrench, plan and sometimes simply hang on. In the spring, things start to pick up, but often — unless you’re selling products designed for summer — Labour Day through to Christmas is the meat-and-potatoes of the selling year. It’s where the money’s made and you hold on for it, hoping — even if your business is in hard shape — that you’ll make enough money to pull through another year.

Businesses that give up the ghost often do it in January, when the writing’s on the wall and the busiest season hasn’t delivered.

Not this year.

I wasn’t surprised to see the Atlantic-based Wicker Emporium hit the fiscal wall, having been to some of its often-empty stores recently. Its business model simply wasn’t working. Bankruptcy records show it had $5.4 million in liabilities and just $720,000 in assets when it shut down.

But then, not long after, came Bowring and Bombay & Co.

The two home décor chains are run by the same owner, Fluid Brands Inc., and went into creditor protection earlier this month, owing $50 million to creditors. Between the two, they have 81 stores — 43 under the Bombay brand, and another 38 under the Bowring label. Some stores are open while the company puts together a formal proposal for creditors.

Once again, it’s not strange that businesses close or seek financial protection — it happens. Markets and customers change. What’s different is that they’re driven to make this kind of involved financial move right in the middle of their busiest make-or-break time of the year.

There’s also the closure of 31 RONA and Lowe’s stores. They’re not closing until further into the new year, but, with head office announcing the closure now, they certainly aren’t waiting for any kind of Christmas sales bump, either. (Hardware might not be where you’d expect bumper sales at Christmas.)

So, what’s happening?

Well, debt costs are rising, and that’s one added burden. Another strain is the continued expansion of the Amazons and Wayfairs of the world, internet sellers shouldering their way into the home furnishings and notions market with lower prices than the those who actually have to have a fixed outlet can deliver.

The Chronicle Herald reported Wicker Emporium’s founder saying in an affidavit accompanying its bankruptcy filing that, “We have continued to face pressure from online retailers that ship direct from suppliers and have no overhead associated with physical stores ... This had a major impact on our bottom line.”

That overhead includes all kinds of things: employee wages and benefits, brick-and-mortar stores, municipal and provincial taxes.

You might suggest that in the cases I’ve listed, this is just playing out the way most might expect; Wicker Emporium at one point had 23 Atlantic locations, with only six left by the time it closed permanently. Bowring and Bombay already went through creditor protection once before, closing 50 stores out of 112 in 2015. You could argue that none of those three were poster children for continued retail success.

But it’s still the timing that worries me — no one was even waiting for the biggest retail sales weeks of the year before pulling the plug.

If these are the bellwether, watch out for January.

Winter is coming.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at — Twitter: @wangersky.

November 13, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today:

PEI Progressive Conservcative potential leadership candidate Allan Dale announcement, 10AM, Culinary Institute, Holland College, all welcome.
Read his background, his skills, and why he wants to run, here:
(No favouritism here -- I just stumbled across his postings and sharing.)

P.E.I. Legislature opening, 2-5PM and 7-9PM, Coles Building.  The public is invited to watch from the Gallery (bring photo identification and enter through the downstairs doors).  You can watch from home either on the Legislative Assembly website or Facebook page.
This is the last Sitting for Chief Clerk Charles MacKay, who is retiring in March 2019, and possibly the last sitting (if a Spring Election is called) for Speaker Buck Watts, Deputy Speaker Kathleen Casey, and former ministers J. Alan McIsaac, who was flipped through a couple of portfolios, and former Finance minister Allen Roach.

Veg PEI Mixer, 6-8PM, Pourhouse, meet the people who organize the monthly potlucks. 
(Accessibility is an issue at The Pourhouse, upstairs of The Old Triangle  The VegPEI people said in a posting for this event that they will look at options for other mixer type events, but the Haviland Club where most monthly dinners are held has better accessibility.)

One of many events next week:
Wednesday, November 21st:
A Merry Green Christmas, A District 11 Fundraiser, 7:30-9:30PM
, Murchison Centre, 15 St. Pius X Avenue. "Hannah Bell and her District 11 (Charlottetown-Belvedere) team are putting together a pre-Christmas party and District 11 fundraiser" with games, gift basket raffles, celebrity cake auction, Christmas goodies, etc. Tickets $10 or $5 student, see link for more details.
Facebook event link
Joan Diamond writes:

OPINION: The final straw - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Joan Diamond

Published on Friday, November 10th, 2018

Robert Irving demands we allow potato farmers to purchase double the allowable limit for production

If I told you that the Lands Protection Act (LPA) limits land ownership for persons to 1,000 and corporations to 3,000 acres in aggregate land holdings, you might be surprised to know that three large companies, J.D. Irving, Vanco and GEBIS, including their affiliates, own well in excess of those limits.

The exact amounts are elusive because the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) has made it quite impossible to search for ownership. You can only search by parcel number on their site. How is that for transparency?

Each company has found ways to circumvent the regulations and violate the spirit of the LPA in numerous ways. How can this be the case? Surely our government and these corporations understand that these regulations were made to protect Island land from excessive consolidation, and to keep it healthy, attainable and sustainable into the future for island family farms and forests.

That does not seem to be the case as evidenced by examining the IRAC website where land has been slowly, and consistently, gobbled up by transnationals. The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Land has formed to raise awareness about how industrial corporations have worked with government to find loopholes, and in doing so go against the intention, indeed the very spirit of the act.

The Lands Protection Act was born in 1982 to keep Island land ownership in the hands of farm families and foresters who were bona fide residents of P.E.I. At that time, the Act was the direct result of one corporation having applied to acquire 6,000 acres of land. As noted on the IRAC website, “some viewed this as giving pre-eminent control of the province’s agricultural industry to one company.”

I think we all know who that company was. At that time, Irving was forced to relinquish a portion of land in order to fall within the set limits. Since that time, Irvings and others have found loopholes that have allowed them to easily triple their allowable land holdings, all under the watchful eyes of government and IRAC, ironically giving control of our agricultural industry to a select few and selling other parcels to the highest bidder in questionable processes.

How do these corporations manage to purchase more than the allowed amount? According to the IRAC website, it happens in a variety of ways, including, but likely not limited to: using a variety of company names for different parcels of land, using different members of the same family to buy parcels of land, and, applying for exemptions (approximately 50 listed for Irving alone). These exemptions must be approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, based on recommendations of IRAC.

Corporations are defined in the LPA as “including a partnership, co-operative association, or body corporate whether formed or incorporated under the law of this province or any other, in Canada or outside Canada. For the purposes of this act a corporation and other corporations directly or indirectly controlled by the same person, group or organization shall be deemed one corporation.”

But corporations aren’t people. Corporations are groups of people who are concerned about making profit. Irvings and others show little regard for the spirit of the Act. Those entrusted to oversee land purchases, using the Land Protection Act as their guide, need to be held to account.

Islanders are passionate about their land. These continuous exemptions are the equivalent of death by a thousand cuts to the integrity of our LPA. Robert Irving’s demand last week pleading to allow potato farmers to purchase double the allowable limit for production was the last straw.

Irving says unless they can produce more potatoes, the potato industry on P.E.I. is doomed. We say, unless islanders do something now to take back control of our precious resources, our Island way of life is doomed.

The Coalition for the Protection of Island Land is determined to expose the variety of ways corporations violate the true intent of our LPA. Stay tuned in coming weeks and months as we work to raise awareness of these very real and present threats to our island way of life.

- Joan Diamond, New Dominion, representing the Coalition for the protection of P.E.I. Land


Strong words from a farmer who has figured out alternatives:

“A farm includes the passion of the farmer's heart, the interest of the farm's customers, the biological activity in the soil, the pleasantness of the air about the farm -- it's everything touching, emanating from, and supplying that piece of landscape. A farm is virtually a living organism. The tragedy of our time is that cultural philosophies and market realities are squeezing life's vitality out of most farms. And that is why the average farmer is now 60 years old. Serfdom just doesn't attract the best and brightest.”

― Joel Salatin, Virginia farmer...who will be the keynote speaker at the ACORN conference which is being held in P.E.I. next weekend

November 12, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

It's the few weeks before December where many interesting community events are crammed in, along with craft fairs each weekend; and the Legislature resumes sitting this week, too. Today seems pretty quiet, though.

Tuesday, November 13th:
P.E.I. Legislature begins the Fall Sitting, 2-5PM
, 7-9PM

VegPEI Mixer, 6-8PM, The Pourhouse, corner of Great George and Fitzroy. "As 2018's Veg It Up 'Peoples Choice' winner, The Old Triangle is donating their space for our very first Veg PEI mixer upstairs in 'The Pourhouse'! All are welcome to come and meet the faces behind Veg PEI, participate in vegan trivia to win prizes throughout, enjoy some drinks from the bar and a full vegan menu will be provided!" Free admission but pay for your own food/drinks.
Wednesday, November 14th:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts Meeting, 10AM
, J. Angus MacLean Building, corner of Great George and Richmond Streets (not Coles Building). "This is the rescheduled date for the meeting November 7, which was canceled. The committee will meet to review the proceedings of the Joint Conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees and Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors; time permitting, the committee will continue its review of the Report of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly, dated March 7, 2018. Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance." I am not sure about live-streaming for this meeting in this room.

The Legislature resumes sitting 2-5PM.

Charlottetown Open House: Community Energy Plan -- Open House and Draft Review, 1-8PM, Rodd Charlottetown, corner of Fitzroy and Pownal. "This drop-in style event will provide interested individuals a chance to speak with City staff about the draft plan and provide feedback. A presentation on the draft Community Energy Plan will be held at" 1PM and 6PM.
Facebook event link

The Fight for Affordable Housing: 2nd Meeting, 6-8PM, PEI Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue. All welcome. Facebook event link
Thursday, November 15th:
Book Launch: The Cove Journal, by JoDee Samuelson, 7PM
, Beaconsfield Carriage House. edited from the Island Studies Newsletter: "Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, filmmaker, and artist JoDee Samuelson has lived on the beautiful South Shore of Prince Edward Island for the past thirty years. Her animated films have been shown at festivals around the world, winning numerous awards for this Island filmmaker. She is a member of the Canoe Cove Women’s Institute, a wood carver, painter, gardener, and a baker of delicious bread...For the last eight years, JoDee has been publishing a column in The Buzz called The Cove Journal. This monthly column captures the soft edges of rural life on Prince Edward Island. Published by Island Studies Press, The Cove Journal gathers seven years of her writing and original illustrations into a collection that celebrates the passing of the seasons, the rise and fall of gardens, the friendship with neighbours, and simple daily life in 'the Cove"... JoDee will be joined by fiddler Roy Johnstone, accompanied by Margie Carmichael on guitar."

Next week Tuesday, a few highlights:
Tuesday, November 20th:
Special Event on the United National International Children’s Day: "Child and Family Poverty in PEI: Finding Solutions", 6:30PM
, Trinity United Church Hall (220 Richomond Street). The PEI Working Group for a Livable Income in partnership with the Public Health Associations of NB and PEI invites the community to a forum on the reality of poverty in PEI and a dialogue about solutions... Keynote speaker is Dr. Heather Morrison, Chief Health Officer for Prince Edward Island. She will discuss her PEI government-commissioned research, Children’s Report 2017: Investing in our Future. Participants will follow up with a dialogue about how to find and promote solutions to child and family poverty on the Island. The dialogue will be directed by the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income which for many years has promoted Basic Income Guarantee as a experimental program for PEI.. Everyone welcome."

Also on November 20th:
Island Studies November Lecture: The Life and Times of Dr. Leo Frank: A Jewish Fox Rancher, with Dr. Joseph Glass, 7PM
, Faculty Lounge, SDU Main Building, UPEI Campus. "Hidden away in Stratford...a small municipal park is named in memory of a former resident, Dr. Leo Frank, a unique individual in the Jewish and general history of PEI. In 1915 he established the Rosebank Fur Farms: a profitable business and showcase for black silver fox ranching as featured in many postcards, stereoscope cards, articles in North America newspapers, and a motion picture.

A mysterious character, he made quite an impression on Islanders and his economic, social, and cultural activities were often discussed in the local press. However, he did not draw attention to his Jewishness until after his marriage in 1935. Although the ranch ceased operations in 1944, he and his wife Ruchamah lived at Rosebank until 1958. The lecture highlights the story of the man memorialized in this green space in Stratford. Joseph B. Glass is a recent arrival to the Island. Born in Toronto, he studied and taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for over twenty years. Dr. Glass' published research has looked at Sephardic Jewish entrepreneurs in Jerusalem, American and Canadian Jewish migration, and the connection between Canada and the Holy Land. His book on the Valero family in Jerusalem received a prestigious award for best monograph in Turkish economic and social history. Since his arrival, he has been researching PEI’s early Jewish history until the mid-twentieth century. He has uncovered a wealth of information and fascinating stories of early Jewish life. He is preparing articles and a book on this little-known group in the Island’s history."

And also on November 20th:
Sustainable Woodlot Practices for PEI: Compatible Practices from Europe, with Gert-Jan Nabuurs, 7PM
, MacDougall Hall Room 242, UPEI. Dr. Nabuurs is from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and is a Coordinating Lead Author in Good Practice Guidance on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Co-hosted by the PEI Woodlot Owners Association and the UPEI Climate Research Lab.
Wayne Carver's Opinions are always worth considering, and he carefully spells out details in this particular process, and captures many people's concerns:

OPINION: The rush to amalgamate - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Wayne Carver

Published on Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Province pushed amalgamation process to find tax dollars to match the $366 million allocated by Ottawa

We have been watching media coverage of late concerning the amalgamation process taking place in communities throughout the province. The way the CBC and the Guardian tell the story, the residents of Three Rivers and the West River Group, have voted for amalgamation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the past year, the communities have been meeting to address the requirements of the Municipal Governance Act (MGA) passed in December 2017. In April 2018, Stantec Consulting and MSRB Consulting were contracted by West River to prepare a study to examine the effects of the changes required by the Act. Two public consultations were held in June 2018 and on 28 August 2018 the final report was presented to the public.

In the beginning, the five communities of the West River Group met with the general public on June 14, 2018 to present information on municipal restructuring and the potential consequences. After the presentation, an open forum was held and a lively discussion ensued over local services delivery and options that might be available which dictated further inquiries and clarification. A second public meeting was held June 20, 2018 to address those concerns as best possible.

At that time, a poll was conducted wherein 62 from a community of 3,154 residents participated - less than 1 per cent of the population. The community was given several weeks to consider the information presented. On Sept. 28, 2018, a final meeting of the communities was held to receive feedback from Stantec and MRSB on the feasibility of amalgamation. At the end of the process a press statement was prepared and released.

The press release stated specifically the results were representative of a poll to gauge community interest. The release compiled by the community was worded in a manner that was supposed to reassure the residents that the results were not a binding vote. Still both the CBC and the Guardian released the results, claiming the residents had voted in favour of amalgamation. Less than 9 per cent of the population participated in the poll. Hardly a vote of confidence for amalgamation.

Meanwhile, the Three Rivers Group was conducting the same exercise in eastern P.E.I. and the results were found to be similar to those in West River. In Three Rivers, 431 out of 7,500 voted yes, while 1,432 voted no but their vote was not counted because they lived in an unincorporated area. To give the jurisdiction some semblance of order, a frustrated government appointed an interim council.

More recently, Minister Brown dismissed the entire council in Souris/ Souris West because the municipality did not, in his mind, comply with the MGA guidelines when readying for the Nov. 5 election. From all appearances, he did not consult with the mayor until his impetuous behaviour became an embarrassment.

If you have read this to here you are probably thinking that this is a complicated and confusing issue. You are right. It is and it was. The provincial government seemed determined to force the issue come hell or high water. One has to wonder what is the rush and why is there little or no flexibility. The conclusion one might come to is that the province wants to have the amalgamation process in place soon, in order that they may find the provincial tax dollars to match the $366 million dollars infrastructure money allocated by Ottawa.

Could it be that the current government wants to have all $366 million of the infrastructure funding allocated before the next provincial election. In this way, our current administration will be in a position to coast for the next decade, while a new minority government, should that arise, prophecies about political /social change and environmental issues.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times but it is getting more difficult to believe anything our government proposes. People have become more skeptical of top-down party politics and much of that skepticism can be attributed to the fact that our government has been less then forthcoming with the voters. The notion that we live in a democratic society has become far-fetched.

- Wayne Carver, Long Creek is a founder of Vision P.E.I. and comments frequently on social issues


Leo Broderick was one of seven wonderful volunteers for Island organizations honoured at Saturday's Voluntary Resource Centre (VRC) Volunteer Awards and Fundraising Breakfast.
Leo Broderick is now National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and has been involved in the the Island Chapter for many years before that, in addition to lending a voice to Save Our Seas and Shores PEI, Don't Frack PEI, the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, the Island Peace Committee, and many other groups.

The other wonderful volunteers honoured by the VRC included:
Irene Burger, Cooper Institute (accepted by the wonderful Marie Burge)
Blair Corkum, Community Legal Information Association
Valerie Curtis, Bedeque Area Historical Society
Paul Dunfield, Canadian Cancer Society
Judy Herlihy, Women's Network PEI
Gerry Mawhinney, New London Community Complex

A well-run breakfast and event -- which included excellent porridge (worth the price of admission alone) and other treats organized by Chef Emily Wells and the incredibly able VRC Board member Darcie Lanthier (who assisting in just about everything); details like the volunteer women's Rugby team servers attending, the fun and not overwhelming silent and live auction -- all made for a warmhearted break from the ferocious weekend weather.

It's Leo Broderick's comments that stuck with me after the hearty nourishment:

He kept his comments brief :-) and pointed out (if I got it accurately) three issues affecting us now that we should be aware of and working vigilantly with each other, and push our politicians, to address:

1) Climate Change is the primary issue we must address right now
2) Inequality between wealthy and not is sharper than ever
3) the militarization of communities and places big and small is increasing
--paraphrased from Leo Broderick, November 10th, 2018

November 11, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Many Remembrance Day ceremonies both at 11AM and some at sunset.

Craft Fairs:
PEI Craft Council, 1-5PM
, Delta Prince Edward.
Three Oaks High School (Summerside), 12noon-6PM.
Where are we with electoral reform?

First, checking in with British Columbia

Horgan, Wilkinson spar in debate as fate of B.C.'s electoral system hangs in the balance - The Globe and Mail article by Ian Bailey

Published on Friday, November 9th, 2018, in The Globe and Mail (bold is mine)

British Columbia’s Premier and Opposition Leader sparred in a feisty broadcast debate Thursday about whether or not British Columbia should proceed to proportional representation in electing members of the legislature, a clash that came as voters are casting ballots in a referendum on the issue.

Through much of the 30-minute debate, NDP Premier John Horgan and BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson were talking loudly over each other, with the Premier asking voters to endorse change and Mr. Wilkinson raising concerns about the fine details of the proposals.

The Premier suggested that if voters tuned in to see the pair of them yelling at each other, they would change the channel to watch the game show, Wheel of Fortune.

“Let’s get modern. Let’s get hip,” Mr. Horgan said at one point during the brisk debate, declaring that the shift would increase engagement in politics because each vote cast would count.

To Mr. Wilkinson, he said, “I don’t understand why you’re frightened about trying something new.”

But the provincial Liberal Leader said voters are confused by their choices in the mail-in ballots they have been sent, and that the NDP has not been clear about how the proposed choices would transpose into the actual province.

“We’re not asking to experiment with our democracy,” said Mr. Wilkinson, noting that the government chose three systems for voters to consider, two of which have yet to be used anywhere.

Although he denounced Mr. Horgan for pitching a “utopia” resulting from proportional representation, Mr. Wilkinson said he was not averse to trying something new as long as it was developed and managed by a citizens assembly, a process used in a previous vote on similarly changing the B.C. political system.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver, who supports proportional representation, did not participate in the 30-minute debate, broadcast on TV and radio.

If voters decide on proportional representation during the ongoing referendum, one of three systems they choose would be enacted for provincial elections held on or after July 1, 2021.

Taking the electoral-reform issue to voters for the third time since 2005 was part of an agreement after the 2017 election that saw the BC Greens support the NDP, enabling the New Democrats to govern B.C.

In the 2017 election, the Liberals and NDP each won about 40 per cent of the popular vote while the Greens, with almost 17 per cent of the vote, ended up with only three of 87 legislature seats.

Thursday’s debate comes ahead of the Nov. 30 deadline for voters to mail in their ballots. A majority of 50 per cent plus one is needed to change the system.

Voters are being asked, Yes or No, whether they support electoral reform, and then offered the choice of three systems – Mixed Member Proportional, Dual-Member Proportional and Rural-Urban Proportional.

Mr. Horgan has said he supports proportional representation because political parties that receive 40 per cent of the votes should not get 100 per cent of political power.

The Premier has said he voted for Mixed Member Proportional in which at least 60 per cent of provincial officials would be elected by first past the post with the rest chosen from party lists and allocated depending on their party’s share of the popular vote.

MMP has been used in Germany and New Zealand. The other systems, Dual-Member Proportional and Rural-Urban Proportional, have not been used anywhere.


On P.E.I., we are assuming the confusion of the government with its own "ESRA" bill (Electoral Systems Referendum Act) Bill in the long Spring Sitting of the Legislature is mostly over. 

Here is the final text of the Bill passed (I have not read it thoroughly yet):

There is likely to be a Referendum Commissioner proposed and if the person is approved by two-thirds of the Legislature, will be asked to deal with any concerns about the interpretation of the Act. 

From yesterday's Guardian:

EXCLUSIVE: P.E.I. Opposition won’t support Gerard Mitchell as referendum commissioner - The Guardian article by Jim Day

Published on Saturday, November 10th, 2018, in The Guardian (bold is mine)

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Gerard Mitchell, P.E.I.'s first police commissioner and a retired chief justice, says he would like to be the province’s referendum commissioner, but he has yet to hear if the job is his.  “I’d be interested in doing it,’’ he said.He added he has not heard anything “officially or unofficially’’.

The Guardian has learned that the secretive Legislative Management Committee, a committee made up of all parties and chaired by Speaker Buck Watts, held an urgent meeting on Friday in an effort to get all-party agreement for Mitchell to be the referendum commissioner. The 45-minute meeting, which was not listed on the committee’s website, ended without the support of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives or the Green party.

Opposition parties are concerned the process is being controlled by the premier’s office because Premier Wade MacLauchlan said back in May he wanted Mitchell.  There were eight other applicants, sources say.

The name put forward for referendum commissioner will need the support of two-thirds of MLAs. That means Mitchell’s appointment needs the support of 18 members. The Liberals only have 16 MLAs in the House, including the speaker. That means at least two Oppositions MLAs must support the recommendation.

The referendum commissioner is a requirement under the Electoral System Referendum Act that sets out the rules that will determine if P.E.I. changes to a mixed member proportional system.  That vote will be tied to the next general election.

Charles MacKay, clerk of the legislative assembly, confirms the committee met in camera Friday to discuss the recommendations for both the position of referendum commissioner and the clerk position. MacKay is stepping down in March.

Both recommendations will be made public during the fall sitting of the legislature, which begins Tuesday.  The candidate for clerk position can be approved with a simple majority, which means the Liberals can pass the clerk’s appointment without the support of the Opposition parties.

Gerald Mitchell (b. 1943) was a provincial court judge, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1987-2008(!), and P.E.I. Police Commissioner from 2009 until this year. (Thomas Jarmyn is the new Police Commissioner.) 

Gerard Mitchell was the commission chair of the 2017 redesign of the 27-District electoral boundaries review and remapping (report here:

AND led the commission on the five public consultations on the 18-District map to go with a Mixed Member Proportional System.

I am probably missing some of the other stuff he has been appointed to or is involved in, such as Saint Dunstan University's Board of Governors. 
So what can we do about PR?  The usual:  keep up-to-date, talk about it with other people to clear misconceptions, and point out distractions in politics and media.

When the PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation disbanded, trying to abide by the murky parameters placed by the ESRA legislation, a P.E.I. PR Network was set up as a grassroots way Islanders can connect to discuss PR and prepare for the referendum.

You can get to it by here, and join up, and join in, as the discussion and activities start to warm up.
from a kid I know, who was asked this two years ago before the plebiscite, at the forum CBC Radio held at Stone Park school in Fall 2016:

Do you think electoral reform is important at the moment? Why?

I think it’s very important because the current system does not allow the true voices of the people as they are to be heard in the legislature, because it underrepresents those who support third parties and overrepresents the support of whichever old original party has momentum at the time.

photo gallery of the event with short interviews with others:

November 10, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

It's a busy weekend:
Farmers' Markets in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM)

Saturday, November 10th:
PEI Crafts Council Christmas Crafts Fair, Delta Prince Edward, 10AM-5PM
(sorry, yesterday wrote it like it was 1999 and at the Confederation Centre)

Three Oaks in Summerside, 9AM-8PM, $3 admission for student projects
Facebook event link

PEI Crafts Council Christmas Crafts Fair, Delta Prince Edward, 10AM-5PM (sorry, yesterday wrote it like it was 1999 and at the Confederation Centre)

Thriftspotting Pop-Up Flea Market, 9AM-1PM, Founders' Hall, admission $2 or donation of non-perishable food item, cash mostly, bring your own shopping bags.

And this afternoon:
Presentation:  Marcelo Sabuc of the CCDA, 2-3:30PM,
Room 328, McDougall Hall (business building),UPEI.
  "Marcelo Sabuc, National Coordinator of the Small-Farmers Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) in Guatemala, will ...speak about the CCDA's courageous struggle for land justice in Guatemala."
Facebook event link

Healthy Eating on a Budget, 2-4PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, free. from the PEI Food Exchange Facebook page: "Sharon Labchuk will share tips for shopping for nutritional food on a budget. She will demonstrate how to make simple salad dressing and sauces that are delicious, made with healthy ingredients and cheaper than store bought. We will make spaghetti squash and rice to eat with the sauces and taste test the dressings on locally grown veggies. A few spots still available so drop in."

Play: Rainbow Valley, 2PM and 7:30PM, The Guild, tickets available.
Facebook event link

The Government is planning on introducing a "Food Awareness Act", possibly in the Fall Sitting of the Legislature.  They put out a discussion booklet in late September, and asked for feedback by early November.  Some of us only became aware of it recently. 
It's here on the government page about it:

And it's very pretty, bilingual, and filled with positive, but fairly bland, statements.

Two comments:
It's not real consultation. The consultation is that increasingly common one-way valve, where individuals and groups make comments, send them in, and then government presents a summary of the consultations.  It would be real consultation if people could hear what others have said and add to it. Still, if you wish to comment this way, it appears there is still time.

This is not a local food procurement bill.  It looks like empty calories from a government in power for several years (more so including many of the cast of the Robert Ghiz years), and not tangibly supporting Island farmers and residents in a sustainable food system.

What you can do right now, being aware and using what purchasing power you have:

From Pauline Howard of the PEI Food Exchange:

Many are saying this is the worst harvest year they ever remember. Mud. mud, mud - hard on the equipment, hard on humans, making the job at least twice as hard as normal. Tractors pulling trucks through muddy fields to get the potatoes out of the ground - often until 1 in the morning. It's been hideous - and it's not over yet.

And the wind - reeking havac on poly tunnels.

The good news is that farmers and neighbours are pulling together to get the harvest in and fix what's broken.

You can honour the hard work of our farmers by buying the produce they worked so hard to produce.

November 9, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Gettin' to know your Greens, 6-8PM
, Hillsborough Community Centre, free.  " social with District 9 Green nominee Josh Underhay! Come relax, have a chat, and listen to live music while the kids are entertained with activities and games." Green Party MLAs will be in attendance.
Facebook event link

Irish Lecture Series, 7:30PM, Benevolent Irish Society, free.
Speaker Simon Lloyd with topic: "The young men of our race”: Prince Edward Island's Irish-Canadians and the First World War.
Facebook event link

Lots going on tonight and tomorrow, Saturday, November 10th:
Crafts Fairs at the Confederation Centre, and Three Oaks in Summerside.

Healthy Eating on a Budget:  First session:
Salad dressings & sauces.
How to budget, shop and plan for nutrition., 2-4PM, Farm Centre, free.  "Classes are free but registration is required. To register email"
Facebook event link

Thanks to Ian Petrie for flagging this analysis of the U.S. elections from EcoWatch, with the lens on the environment, since the environment is not just one country's:

The Best and Worst Midterm Results for the Environment - EcoWatch article by Olivia Rosane

November 7th, 2018, on EcoWatch
Results from the U.S. midterm election are mostly in, and, when it comes to what they mean for the environment, they're a real mixed bag.  On the plus side, the Democrats took the House of Representatives, which, as
BBC News pointed out, means that President Donald Trump can't pass any more major legislation without their approval. Since big legislative pushes in the Republican controlled House over the past two years included an attack on the Endangered Species Act and a Farm Bill that would have limited controls on toxic pesticides and water pollution, this can only be an improvement.
On the minus side, the Republicans increased their majority in the Senate. Since the Senate is the body that confirms all of the president's judicial and political appointments, there will still be nothing blocking Trump from appointing more judges like Brett Kavanaugh with a
dubious environmental record. They will also be able to sign off on whoever Trump finally chooses as Scott Pruitt's permanent replacement at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The House is more likely now to investigate corruption-prone, industry-friendly Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, but the Senate could go right ahead and confirm a replacement equally likely to sell out public lands to fossil fuel interests.
When it comes to the environmental implications of individual races and ballot measures, the night was about equally full of gains and losses. But it's important to remember that no matter who wins, popular movements can always make a difference. So whether your favorite candidate won or lost last night, you can and should continue fighting to halt
climate change and ensure a healthy, thriving environment for all life on earth.

That said, here are a few of the key takeaways:
1. Big Oil's Big Spending Paid Off
Probably the most disappointing result from a climate change perspective is the fact that Washington's
Initiative 1631, which would have created the nation's first fee on carbon emissions, was defeated in the polls. Colorado's Proposition 112, which would have banned oil and gas drilling on 85 percent of the state's land, also failed. The fossil fuel industry put more than $73 million into defeating the two initiatives, the Huffington Post reported, so in this case money power was sadly stronger than people power.
In terms of the other ballot measures
EcoWatch was tracking, Arizona's Proposition 127, which would have upped the state's renewable energy target to 50 percent by 2030, was also defeated, as was Alaska's Ballot Measure 1, which would have imposed new restrictions on projects that threaten salmon habitat. Florida's unusual Amendment 9, banning both offshore oil drilling and indoor vaping, was the only one to succeed.

2. Climate Change Tipping Point
Climate change was also a campaign issue in several key races, and, while it's hard to pinpoint what issue tipped a candidate over the edge to victory, there were some wins where it might have made a difference.

Before the election,
Grist assembled an analysis of five hotly contested races in districts where more than two-thirds of residents were worried about climate change. Turns out, all of the Democrats in those races won or are currently leading in the polls, according to The New York Times.

  • Anti-pipeline and offshore drilling Democrat Tom Malinowski beat Republican incumbent Leonard Lance in New Jersey's seventh district.

  • Democrat Colin Allred, who wants to rejoin the Paris agreement, defeated incumbent Republican Pete Sessions, who wants to scale back the EPA. This is in Texas' 32nd district, which saw unusually deadly storms and flooding this fall.

  • Also in Texas, Republican incumbent John Culberson lost to Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in the seventh district that includes parts of Houston deeply impacted by Hurricane Harvey last year.

  • Florida's 26th district is its southernmost point, already grappling with tidal flooding due to sea level rise. Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo was not a climate denier, and in fact founded the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. But Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell promised more environmental action and won.

  • The race between Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic challenger Harley Rouda for California's 48th district, which includes parts of coastal Orange County at risk from sea level rise, is still too close to call. But Rouda, who opposed offshore oil drilling and promised clean energy, is leading.

3. Rise of the Green New Deal:
The Green New Deal: fixing climate and the economy?
The brightest glimmer of hope to come out of the midterms is the fact that there are now four Democrats in the House who are calling for a Green New Deal, a massive government push to turn away from fossil fuels and build renewable energy infrastructure, The Huffington Post reported.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
confirmed her win after her surprise primary victory in New York's 14th district this summer, and she is joined in championing the issue by the first two Muslim women in Congress: Ilhan Omar in Minnesota's 5th District and Rashida Tlaib in Michigan's 13th. Antonio Delgado beat Republican John Faso in New York's 19th district to round out the group.
While some influential champions of the idea, like Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, lost their races, Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann said it was important that the idea was gaining ground given the
dire warnings of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"This is the sort of bold and audacious thinking that we need when it comes to confronting the ever-pressing challenge of averting catastrophic climate change," Mann told the Huffington Post.

The Guardian's editorial yesterday raises the extremely salient point that we need to be thinking about a post-French fry monoculture agricultural economy.  Most of us would not agree with its forelock-tugging stance implying we just need to hand over the land and the water --  
But we need to have some plans for a transition.

EDITORIAL: Industry in peril - The Guardian Editoral by Bill McGuire

by editorial editor Bill McGuire (

Published on Thursday, November 8th, 2018

If fewer and poorer quality potatoes becomes the norm, the company will make a business decision.

The president of Cavendish Farms is pulling fewer punches each time he makes an argument for the P.E.I. government to loosen regulations that hinder the supply of quality potatoes to his New Annan processing operations.

In May, Robert Irving made a pitch for government to lift a 16-year moratorium on deep-water wells. He said the province was one heavy rainfall away from a disastrous potato crop in 2017. As Mr. Irving argued, P.E.I. growers and his company needn’t be held hostage by Mother Nature, when there is the option for supplemental irrigation to deliver a quality, plentiful product to the french fry plant.

P.E.I. growers faced a similar situation this summer. There was little rain during a hot, dry July and moisture was spotty across the province during critical growing months. Farmers, who delayed the harvest to allow potatoes to complete their growing cycle, were caught by an early, wet fall. Many growers are still scrambling to finish digging and hundreds of acres could be left in the ground.

Mr. Irving was here again last week, not to raise the deep-water wells issue, but acreage restrictions under the 1982 Lands Protections Act (LPA). Appearing before a legislature standing committee, he made a business case to increase the family farm limit from 1,000 acres to 2,100 – a figure he suggests is now a basic minimum for growers on a three-year, crop rotation. Profit margins are narrow, so farmers need to grow more acres to stay in business. The 1,000-acre limit won’t save his contract growers. As more go out of business, his local potato supply shrinks.

And, as Mr. Irving noted, the LPA has failed to save the family farm. Many small operations have folded. Since 1997, the number of potato farms on the Island declined from 460 to 186. If farms don’t get bigger, they won't be growing potatoes and Cavendish won’t be producing french fries. Tinkering with the LPA has already increased the limit on arable land holdings to 1,400 acres for family farms and 4,200 acres for corporate farms, recognizing that a portion of farm acreage is usually not suitable for growing potatoes.

Mr. Irving didn’t say that Cavendish Farms might consider scaling back its operations on P.E.I. or moving elsewhere. He didn’t have to – the conclusions are obvious. If fewer and poorer quality potatoes becomes the norm, the company will make a business decision. It has shown that it won't hesitate; it closed its table packaging plant in O’Leary this summer.

Mr. Irving won't have to do make the tough decision. The province’s stance on deep-water wells and LPA restrictions will ensure fewer farms and fewer potatoes - and Cavendish Farms will have no option but to leave and threaten a $1 billion P.E.I. industry. The issue needs a thorough debate in the legislature - on what it takes to keep farmers growing potatoes and Mr. Irving to keep processing french fries on P.E.I.

Government must address this issue. If not, Islanders must start considering a future without Cavendish Farms.

Compare the editorial to historian David Weale's opinion piece from earlier in the week (partially quoted in this newsletter before):  

OPINION: An agricultural dictator - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David Weale

Robert Irving wants to push the Island even farther in the direction of industrial agriculture

Published on Monday, November 5th, 2018

For those of you who didn’t get to see Robert Irving’s power-point presentation before the Legislative Committee on Communities, Land and the Environment on Thursday, I can tell you it was enlightening; enlightening in as much as he made it crystal clear what he wants.

He wants bigger farms with access to the water his growers need to get larger yields. And he wants the Island legislature to change an important piece of legislation to accommodate him.

In a word, he wants to be the agricultural dictator of the Island.

His clearly-stated objective is to push the Island even farther in the direction of industrial agriculture where the nature of rural culture is determined, not by what it takes to produce a healthy rural society, but by the size of industrial machinery and the tyranny of industrial technology. And, of course, by his own corporate bottom line.

He said it plainly: Island farms are not large enough to compete with the big boys in places like Washington and Idaho, and at one point he commented that on P.E.I. it takes five workers to do what two workers can do in Washington. It’s just the latest refrain of the “get big or get out” ballad that began with Premier Alex Campbell’s development plan in the 1970s, and the inevitable conclusion to the process will be the elimination of virtually all Island potato farmers.

Irving poses as the friend of Island farmers but says he believes farms need to be twice as large, hoping I suppose, that no one would put two and two together and realize that if farms are twice as big there will be room only for half as many farmers.

The farmers will continue to decrease, and the Irvings to increase.

Robert Irving doesn’t like potato farmers, he uses them. Without batting an eye, he was advocating changes that would eliminate many of them. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

The only reason he endures farmers at all is because of the Lands Protection Act which prevents him from owning the entire industry outright; an act he wants changed because it doesn’t suit the way he does business.

Angus MacLean’s cherished view was that, on this small Island, small is beautiful, and can be productive. Robert Irving’s mantra is “the bigger the better," a philosophy that has eliminated close to 10,000 Island farmers in my lifetime. And when will enough be enough? Never.

And there were two other aspects of the presentation that I especially disliked. One was infuriating, and the other just sad.

What was infuriating being that Irving decided, after just a few questions, that it was time for him and his supporting cast to vacate. Apparently, there was something else more important than answering questions from the likes of Brad Trivers and Peter Bevan-Baker. Did he recognize, I wonder, that they were there representing Islanders, and that it was the people of P.E.I. he was walking out on?

Unless there was a funeral to attend, I think it’s called arrogance.

What was sad was that one of those who left with Robert was John MacQuarrie, an Island environmentalist. I’m sure he has his reasons for teaming up with the Irvings, and probably means well, but I found it difficult to watch as he provided an environmental veneer for his boss’s crassness and double-speak.

It will also be difficult to watch when Wade MacLauchlan responds to questions about today’s presentation, and essentially supports everything Irving said. And that surely is the biggest question in all of this: when Robert Irving speaks does our premier listen?

I have watched this process unfold for over 40 years, and I grieve for the land, and for freedom, for both are at stake. But when it comes to the Irvings, more than grief is required, and the time is short.

- David Weale is a co-founder of Vision P.E.I.

November 8, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today:
Let's hope there are enough government MLAs to have this meeting today, as MLA and Public Accounts committee chair Brad Trivers was told was the case yesterday, forcing the last-minute cancellation.  Most Committee work this Fall, such that it was, will be wrapping up, as the P.E.I. Legislature starts the Fall Sitting next Tuesday, November 13th, at 2PM.

Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy, 1:30PM, Coles Building.  The Committee will receive a briefing on the topic of vehicles passing school buses (relating to Bill No. 101 – An Act to Amend the Highway Traffic Act) and on traffic safety from: Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy; and Mr. Graham Miner, Director of Highway Safety Division.

Young Greens - PEI: So What is the Green Party Exactly? 6-7:30PM,  UPEI, Health Sciences Building Room 105.  "...we'll be discussing how Green Parties work and what we work for.
Although we're gathering at the university, anyone under 30 is invited (high school students, Holland College students, workers, free spirits, and the like). Attendance as well as a delicious vegan combo of CHILI and buns will be completely free."  More info:
Facebook page:
Facebook event link

Green Drinks Summerside, 7-10PM, Unlce Mike's Bar and Grill,
"Green Drinks is a monthly informal gathering hosted by local members of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. Always a good time, this is a great place to get to know Green Party leaders and supporters in a casual setting, and connect with others who are passionate about Prince Edward Island's future. Come and say hello!  Green Drinks in Summerside takes place on the second Thursday of each month."
Facebook event link

Rainbow Valley:  ACT Theatre Production, 7:30PM tonight, various dates until the 17th, The Guild. Tickets. Some lovely people in the cast, including the new mayor of Bonshaw, Marion Copleston.
Facebook event details

Saturday, November 10th:
Marcelo Sabuc of the CCDA in Charlottetown!, 2-3:30PM, Room 328, McDougall Hall (business building),UPEI.
  "Marcelo Sabuc, National Coordinator of the Small-Farmers Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) in Guatemala, is coming to Charlottetown! Come hear about the CCDA's courageous struggle for land justice in Guatemala. You'll also hear about the repression they and other human rights defenders in the country have faced and how we can engage in solidarity from the Maritimes. Marcelo Sabuc is Maya-Kaqchikel from San Lucas Toliman, Sololá and has worked for the CCDA since 2000. As a result of his work with the CCDA, Marcelo has received threats and is a target of criminalization, facing unfounded charges for political reasons. The CCDA supports 30,000 Indigenous small farmers throughout the country in struggles for access to and defense of land and territory through advocacy, the production of coffee for export and the promotion of sustainable agriculture. The CCDA's work challenges the status quo in Guatemala, making their members targets of ongoing repression. This year alone, several members of the CCDA and a sister campesino organization (CODECA) have been killed in a wave of attacks against human rights defenders in the country. Despite these circumstances, their struggle for justice continues!  Since 2002, BTS and Just Us! Fair Trade Coffee have collaborated to sell coffee beans from the CCDA in the Maritimes. The Breaking the Silence brand of Just Us! coffee is sold at your local Sobey’s, Foodland or Atlantic Coop. Thanks to our sponsors: CUPE 1870 / CUPE Global Justice."
For more info, visit us here:
Facebook event details
A measured Ranald MacFarlane comments on the Island dairy system, and climate change:  

LETTER: P.E.I. will be under water - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

Measures need to be taken to fight climate change. All Canadians should be on board to make necessary adjustments to mitigate climate change. When P.E.I. is under water in 2050, I will be able to say I tried my best to prevent it.

Canada's supply management system for dairy and poultry has many attributes that will reduce emissions. Imports of products into Canada as opposed to locally-sourced food products come by container ship from overseas or truck from middle America. Canadian dairy and chicken will be lower emission in that way and in other ways.

Research is going on, funded partly by our industry on how to reduce emissions.

Paying a fair-trade price for Canadian products enables studies in how to do this very necessary research. Allowing foreign imports just enables other countries to have a subsidized surplus and enables their emissions contribution to the aggregate problem.

Other countries should adopt our system and focus on reduced emission agriculture, not have taken 20 per cent of it away.

Canada had a state of the art marketing system that would help the climate change problem without a tax on consumers, instead, getting their farmers paid fairly.

The true value of Canadian dairy is not up front, apparently but there are many excellent reasons to preserve and enhance supply managed systems.

It takes real world leadership to see it.

Ranald MacFarlane, Fernwood

November 7, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Internet is off in my part of Bonshaw, again, and Bell Aliant person was very apologetic, and said a technician was working on it.  This Bell Aliant customer service person is in the Phillippines. 

Today, Wednesday, November 7th:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM  CANCELLED
Not sure why

District 25 (O'Leary-Inverness) NDP Nomination Meeting, 7-8PM
, O'Leary Legion Branch #2, O'Leary. " ...with Dr. Herb Dickieson offering for this position. Join NDP PEI to welcome this well qualified candidate. New members welcome." Facebook event link

Saturday, November 10th:
Voluntary Resource Centre (VRC) Breakfast, 8:30-10:30AM,
Farm Centre. $30 with a tax receipt for half of that. This event brings together the voluntary sector in PEI to honour 9 outstanding volunteers from across the Island. The breakfast will be prepared by the incredible Chef Emily Wells. Tickets avaiable at the VRC office, 81 Prince Street, or call (902) 368-7337
Facebook event link.

PEI Thriftspotting Pop-up Flea Market, 9AM-1PM, old Founders' Hall, Prince Street, Charlottetown.  "Local avid thrifters will be selling their finds - items for sale include used and vintage clothing and accessories; antiques and collectibles; housewares and vinyl records; and select artisanal products.
Mellow Dough will be on site with a fresh batch of hand-crafted donuts!
Admission is $2 or a non-perishable food item in support of The Upper Room Hospitality Ministry Inc. food bank and soup kitchen. Children under 12 enter free.Most vendors will be accepting cash only. There is no ATM available on-site so please come prepared with small bills and coins!
Please BYO shopping bag!"
Facebook event link
Whether you agree with everything his says or not, Paul MacNeill shares opinions that are helpful:

Carbon tax manoeuvers miss bigger question  - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, October 31st, 2018, in The Graphic publications

Justin Trudeau set the noose with his promise of a revenue neutral carbon tax, little more than a political manipulation aimed at appeasing wary voters with a dislike for politicians picking their pockets. And the hammer used to convince most provinces to adopt his plan, or at least some semblance of it, is access the Low Carbon Economy Fund, estimated to be worth $30 plus million to PEI alone.

In the end, Trudeau played politics. He allowed Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, considered important necessary Liberal holds in the next election, to tweak the terms of the tax to allow short-term political gain for Liberal friendly governments.

How do we know? Well, Team Trudeau is refusing to offer similar off-policy arrangements with Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Liberal partisanship trumps environmental protection.

So what does it all mean for Islanders?

Premier MacLauchlan is ‘disappointed’ Trudeau did not accept his government’s ‘made in PEI solution’. So much for having a willing partner in Ottawa. But the Island administration is crowing just a little because it will offset a mandatory 4 cent increase in the price per litre of gasoline and diesel with a 3 cent reduction in provincial fuel tax. There is also a promise to ensure the 1 cent difference is returned to Islanders. In other words it is using our own tax money to make itself look better.

What the provincial government has neatly done is now set up three distinct views on how best to implement a carbon tax.

The Liberal deal means Islanders will not receive annual federal government rebates, but nor will we pay the carbon tax to heat our homes. While Islanders will not directly see any impact, the government is open for criticism if New Brunswick passes along increased electrical costs to Island customers. And what will the MacLauchlan government cut or hike to offset its decrease in gas tax revenue?

The Greens under Peter Bevan-Baker have long supported a carbon tax. They believe forcing Islanders to pay up front and receive quarterly rebates from the provincial government is the only way to force increased utilization of renewable resources.

The Tories don’t want a tax of any kind but further investments in renewable energy.

The reality is Trudeau is hell-bent on proceeding, which makes the Tories’ preferred option a non-starter. And the Greens would need to negotiate quarterly payments over an annual rebate that is tied to federal tax returns (if you owe the feds money, it will clawback what is owed from the carbon tax rebate). It will be a tough sell, and no doubt, grow an already large bureaucracy to oversee the rebate.

Politically the toughest sell rests with the Greens. This is the issue that holds the greatest potential to stymie a breakthrough with the electorate, especially in rural areas.

But none of the three main parties seem to recognize that Islanders have little capacity to pay more. Our salaries are the lowest in the country. Areas of the economy seeing upward salary movement are largely driven by government contracts, not the private sector. Government fees are now tied to inflation and rise automatically. Taxes are already among the highest in the country. Government announced a six per cent increase in the minimum wage last week, a hike that will primarily benefit the MacLauchlan government’s tax revenue while doing considerable harm to small business.

It seems politicians want to make it harder for ordinary Islanders.

If you increase the price of fuel, it will have an immediate and real impact on other items like groceries, furniture and clothing. Islanders already lack the discretionary spending to pay up front. Waiting for a potential rebate is irrelevant, if you are taking on more debt just to get through the week.

The reality of Trudeau’s plan is that it is an urban-Ottawa-inner circle imposing a solution on all of Canada. Outside of the Charlottetown region, public transportation does not exist. We are a population reliant on cars to get us to work, the grocery store, school and rinks.

The province is on record as saying it wants to reduce the price of electricity, yet it has done nothing to make this a significant possibility. Subsidizing heat pumps is a novel idea. But why not take a dramatic step and allow Islanders to generate their own electricity, through wind or solar power, and sell it back to the grid? It’s done routinely around the world, but successive Island governments have protected the monopoly of Maritime Electric over the long-term interests of Islanders.

Maybe that’s the discussion that is missing from the carbon tax issue, and it’s the discussion we really need to have before we can change.

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

Some would see this as an opportunity to cause societal change, and not leave people behind -- but concerns like Paul MacNeill has have to be addressed upfront:

"Society has to get a grip and put a tax on carbon. Of course, there is much that flows from that, and it is a complex situation. The small details of something such as climate change are political and social, and they are a lot about fairness and how we rebalance towards a fairer society."
  --Richard Rogers (b. 1933), British architect

November 6, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Like for many Islanders, Power was out for a while Saturday/Sunday, adding to the confusion of changing to standard time.  Bell Aliant DSL internet was out-of-service in my area until later yesterday.  A mini-vacation of sorts.

Today, Tuesday, November 6th:

Preserving Workshop, 6-8PM, Farm Centre, Chef Sarah Forrester will show tips for making applesauce and preserving it. From the organizers: "To register email Registration is required to ensure we have enough supplies for everyone."

Nature PEI, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, free.  Featuring "...award-winning scientist and author Dr. John Calder who will be reading from his book Island at the Centre of the World: the Geological Heritage of Prince Edward Island recently published by the Island’s own Acorn Press. John will share the 'back stories' of his book, a 4 year labour of love that has sparked new discoveries of PEI’s ancient past. Those stories include why the head of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian was so willing to contribute to the book, how the Mi’kmaq were here to witness the birth of the Island, the story of a very different and sacred rock on Hog Island, and how intrepid Islanders have acted as stewards of an incredible legacy from the Permian Period of Earth history almost 300 million years ago. The book will be available at a special tax-free price for members and attendees.
Dr. Calder was the lead scientist in the project to designate the Joggins Fossil Cliffs of Nova Scotia as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He has published extensively on the geology of our region and his work has been widely recognized by his peers. He is a 'down-to-earth' presenter with an easy going and engaging style and is happy to respond to his audience."  from the media release

Celebrate Island Women: Women's Network Fundraiser, 7-10PM, Florence Simmons Performance Hall, tickets $50, Irish Mythen is the emcee, music, comedy, more; see Facebook event link for more details

Tickets still available: Symons Lecture, November 23rd, 12:30PM, Confedertaion Centre of the Arts, with Margaret MacMillan. Tickets free and available on-line now, or by calling or visiting the box office.
Legislative Standing Committee meetings this week:

Wednesday, November 7th:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10:00 AM, Meeting # 8, Review of CCPAC-CCOLA conference; Auditor General's report,   Coles Building.  "The committee will meet to review the proceedings of the Joint Conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees and Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors; time permitting, the committee will continue its review of the Report of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly, dated March 7, 2018. Auditor General B. Jane MacAdam will be in attendance."

Thursday, November 8th:
Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy, 1:30 PM, Meeting # 4, Vehicles passing school buses,   Coles Building. "The Committee will receive a briefing on the topic of vehicles passing school buses (relating to Bill No. 101 – An Act to Amend the Highway Traffic Act) and on traffic safety from: Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy; and Mr. Graham Miner, Director of Highway Safety Division."

Congratulations to all the new/not-so-new mayors and councillors across the province.
Elections PEI results
for the four larger municipalities of Charlottetown, Summerside, Cornwall and Stratford.
Three Rivers and other municipalities were handled by Municipal Affairs and I couldn't find unofficial or any sort of results there late last night, so consult media for results or the website today.
New Brunswick's future is taking a turn:

Blaine Higgs set to resurrect debate over shale-gas development - CBC News article by Elizabeth Fraser

Premier-designate says a PC minority will also focus on softwood lumber agreement, health-care wait times
by Elizabeth Fraser, CBC NEWS, Monday, November 5th, 2018

Premier-designate Blaine Higgs expects his new minority government will start talking about issues that have been avoided lately or seemed settled, including shale gas development. The Progressive Conservative platform for the election last month called for allowing resource development in areas such as Sussex where there's public support for it. 

Higgs feels this is a compromise approach to shale gas. "We're not imposing this on anyone in any region," Higgs told Information Morning Fredericton. "But to keep saying no to economic development at a time when we're going to see in the next year or two the gas prices significantly increase because we're going to be bringing everything in from the U.S. We just keep saying, 'No' and expect we can tax people more."

New Brunswick is the largest consumer of natural gas in the Maritimes, with more than 8,600 homeowners, businesses and government buildings using the fuel.  Shale gas was a bigger issue in the 2014 provincial election won by the Liberals under Brian Gallant. His government was defeated in a confidence vote on Friday, almost six weeks after another provincial election. 

The Liberals kept a moratorium on shale gas exploration, which had provoked protests by First Nations groups and others, culminating in a violent clash in Rexton in the fall of 2013.

Fracking is the process of injecting fluids — like propane or mixtures of water, sand and chemicals — at high pressure deep into underground shale formations containing natural gas. The process forces cracks to open in the rock allowing the gas to be extracted.

Higgs said his goal was to develop the economy across New Brunswick. Although he'd rather lead a majority government, he said he's excited about getting down to work on issues. "We may not agree on all the solutions and how we get there, but once we know there is an opportunity to fix, we have to find a solution," he said. Higgs said he also wants to address wait times in health care and possibly try to revive the Energy East pipeline proposal, since Ontario and Quebec, where there was opposition to the now-dropped project, both have new governments. "My goal is to serve the entire province and my goal is to show that through actions," he said. "I can talk about a lot of things but it's through actions."

from The New York Times, from this summer (Tuesday, July 31st, 2018): 

What Happened When Fracking Came to Town - New York Times Book Review by JoAnn Wypijewski

Book review by JoAnn Wypijewski of

One Family and the Fracturing of America
By Eliza Griswold
318 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $27.

Hydraulic fracturing, as she demonstrates, entails as much violence as the name implies. Putting aside the burden on roads, tranquillity and social relations, to frack a gas well means taking roughly four million gallons of water, poisoning it with chemicals, some of them proprietary secrets, and forcing this brew, together with some three million pounds of clay pellets or silica sand, into a well that extends horizontally a mile or two through shale. The shale cracks. The results: gas, fractured bedrock, depleted freshwater supplies and toxic waste. Now fortified with bacteria, heavy metals and additional toxins, the fracking fluid that returns to the surface presents a problem with no good solution. Some of it stays underground, where it combines with methane and can migrate into aquifers, streams and private wells. Imagine this process multiplied. Stacey’s eight acres lay amid five wells; her county, Washington, has 1,146. The state of Pennsylvania has 7,788. The United States has more than 300,000.

Politicians still call it clean. In the early 2000s, Congress exempted fracking from provisions of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Amid the wreckage of the financial crisis, President Obama touted it as a win for the economy and the environment. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton pushed it on the world. After leaving office, in 2011, Governor Rendell became a paid consultant to a private-equity firm with investments in fracking. His former deputy chief of staff, another deputy, his D.E.P. chief and other erstwhile regulators enlisted in the corporate ranks of oil and gas.

The fracking boom muted more imaginative approaches to the common welfare, and suppressed honest appraisals of costs. In 2012, Obama’s E.P.A. announced that the brown, putrid water issuing from people’s taps in Dimock, Pa., posed no danger. In 2016, a Centers for Disease Control agency, using the same samples, declared Dimock’s water a health hazard. Every E.P.A. agent who knocked on Stacey Haney’s door promising aid disappeared into the mist; one eventually became environmental director of Chesapeake Energy. Lately, as landowners’ royalties have shrunk and the financial press warns that the boom looks like a bubble, systemic dials seem locked on “drill.” The current governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, a Democrat, recently requested more D.E.P. inspectors, not to address thousands of frack-related citizen complaints but to speed up permits for new drilling. D.E.P., some people say, stands for “Department of Energy Production” or “Don’t Expect Protection.”

November 3, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Famers' Markets --
Charlottetown (9AM-2PM)
Summerside (9AM-1PM)

Craft Fairs:
10,000 Villages Summerside,9AM-4PM, Summerside Presbyterian Church, 130 Victoria Road.
10,000 Villages Cornwall, 9AM-4PM, West River United Church.
Bluefield High School Christmas Craft Fair, 10AM-5PM, Route 9, Hampshire.  Admission $2.

Symons Medal Lecture Tickets go on sale (since they are free, to reserve, until they are gone), 10AM this morning, for the Symons Medal Lecture -- Margaret MacMillan, historian and author, is giving the Lecture on Friday, November 23rd, at 12:30PM, at the Confederation Centre.
Confederation Centre Box Office (Contact Us page)

Trade Justice People's Forum, 1:30-4:30PM, Farm Centre, all welcome.
CBC Article featuring one of the speakers, Gavin Fridel

Sunday, November 4th:
Candlelight Vigil, in memory of the 11 Victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack and in support of the wounded, 3PM,
outside Founders' Hall, corner of Prince and Water Streets.

Monday, November 5th:
Seniors College Course: PEI Electoral Systems -- What's Next?
, 1:30-3:30PM, Park Royal United Church. (for Seniors College members -- see links below) "This 4 week course will review the differences and the history of the two systems: First Past the Post and then Mixed Member Proportional."  The witty and knowledgeable Florence Larkin will be the Facilitator, and there will be many guest speakers.
Seniors College Course Details
Seniors College FAQs

and voting!
Municipal Election Day, voting unless your council has candidate numbers to acclaim those who offered their names.
A clarification and correction: A few days ago, I mentioned that Elections PEI was organizing the elections in the four largest municipalities, and someone informed me that Three Rivers Municipality would actually be in that list.  (And Elections PEI is not organizing their council and mayor elections.) :-)
P.E.I.'s mail was slowed down last week during the rotating strikes by some Canada Post workers; issues like what would strengthen Canada Post as an integral part of urban and rural communities across the country, for now and the future, should really be getting some good discussion and action...ideas like Canada Post offering banking, and more visionary ones of it becoming a network of renewable energy.
interesting, doable ideas, from:
Delivering Community Power website

Why Delivering Community Power?

We are at a crossroads. Our land, air and water are already feeling the effects of climate change. Economic inequality and precarious work are on the rise. Layoffs in fossil fuels extraction industries are leading to more economic uncertainty.

Canada can run entirely on renewable electricity by 2035 and transition to a 100% clean economy by 2050. If that’s what we want, we have to start now.

The postal system can drive this transition...


Unfortunately, the current government can't even see the postal banking ideas as useful, as was shown last week in the "Negatived" decision on a Private Member's Motion to move forward with planning a postal banking system. 

House of Commons Motion 166 summary and a graph and chart of who voted for it (no, no Island MPs did, though Sean Casey, MP Charlottetown, has been a supporter of door-to-door delivery)

Text of Private Member's Motion (Irene Mathyssen) and the course of the Motion, from the Our Commons website

This "blow upon a bruise" of not supporting postal banking, on top of the Justin Trudeau Liberal government's broken 2015 election promise of not truly reinstating all door-to-door mail delivery, makes one wonder about all these empty words "supporting Canada Post"; and who exactly will benefit if Canada Post goes out of business?


"If we could get proportional representation and open up roles for smaller parties in coalition governments, we could start intentionally breaking down the cult of personality that is one of the most distorting things about our electoral system in Canada. We had a constellation of social actors behind the Leap Manifesto. And we created something bigger than ourselves."

   --Avi Lewis, filmmaker, thinker

November 2, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries meeting, 10AM,
Coles Building.  Topic:  Briefing on fisheries and marine matters, with a representative from the federal Department of Fisheries, on "matters such as tides and currents in the Northumberland Strait; health of marine ecosystems; and stock assessments of American lobster and Atlantic herring."
Watch live here

Craft fairs today and tomorrow that help good causes:
10,000 Villages Summerside, FRIDAY 10AM-8PM, Saturday 9AM-4PM, Summerside Presbyterian Church, 130 Victoria Road.

10,000 Villages Cornwall, FRIDAY 4PM-9PM, Saturday 9AM-4PM, West River United Church.

Bluefield High School Christmas Craft Fair, FRIDAY 5:30-9PM, Saturday 10AM-5PM, Route 9, Hampshire.  Admission $2, proceeds supporting music programming.

Fall Irish Lecture Series: Thomas O’Grady on “A lonely impulse of delight?”: Thomas McGreevy, W. B. Yeats and the Pity of War.
 7:30PM, Benevolent Irish Society, North River Road. This talk will engage with the complex history and the ongoing resonance of one of W. B. Yeats’s signature poems, “An Irish Airman foresees his Death,” by positioning it relative to another Irish poem that literaly foresees, graphically, an airman’s death—Thomas McGreevy’s “De Civitate Hominum.”  Speaker Thomas O’Grady was born and grew up in Charlottetown, and is the Director of Irish Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. 
Adapted from notes here: Facebook event link

Tomorrow, Saturday, November 3rd:
The People's Forum on Just Trade and Development, 1:30-4:30PM,
on unceded territory of the Mi'kma'ki at the PEI Farm Centre. Hosted by members of Trade Justice PEI and the Mawi'omi Centre of UPEI, with guest speakers:
Pam Palmater is Associate Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. She is a member of Eel River First Nation, New Brunswick, and one of the spokespersons, educators and organizers for Idle No More. Pam specializes in laws that impact First Nations, and has a 25-year history of activism on social, political and legal issues. Pam’s topic will be "The Impact of International Trade Agreements on Indigenous Peoples." Gavin Fridell is an author and Associate Professor of International Development Studies at St Mary’s University and a Canada Research Chair. His specialty is examining the political economy of fair trade, free trade, global trade governance and how trade issues play out among social movements and states. Gavin’s topic will be "Fair Trade and Beyond." This will be an interactive event. Participants will have a chance to share their ideas about international trade, trade justice, and especially about what a new and more just system of trade would look like.
It’s easy, in the absence of critical analysis, to be convinced that trade agreements are strictly economic in nature. The wider implications are not typically part of the conversation. We hope that participants will leave the event with a deeper understanding of the impacts of trade on individuals, communities and the environment, and with some ideas about new and different approaches to trade. And, we hope to identify some opportunities for action on trade issues."
Still some space but please preregister at Eventbrite:


Tuesdays, November 13th, 20th, and 27th:
The Law and The Courts program (Justice System Public Education sessions), 6:45-9PM,
free but registration required.  PEI judges explain the basic legal principles in areas such as criminal law, family law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the sessions include tours of courtrooms, the law library and holding cells. Contact Court of Appeal (902) 368-6024 or  "The sessions are presented by the Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. The Community Legal Information Association (CLIA) will also be at the sessions."
A statement of clarity and sincerity, responding to the trumpets blaring about the newfound government surplus announced earlier this week:

Statement by Office of the Third Party in Response to Government Surplus - by MLA Hannah Bell, Finance Critic for the Third Party

from Thursday, November 1st, 2018

I was pleased to learn yesterday that government has balanced the books and that for the first time in over a decade, we have a surplus that can be applied against our ballooning provincial debt.

We should not be surprised that tax revenues have increased given the increase in provincial population and focus on economic growth. However, I do find it interesting that the government itself is surprised, and that this fiscal trend was not more accurately reflected in the estimates presented in the PEI legislature in the spring.

Increases of the extent reported in the Blue Books do not happen overnight and good fiscal managers should not wait until the end of the fiscal year to look at trends and the ongoing state of the finances.

As a result, there is not only a surplus for 2017-18, but the increase in revenues is ongoing and this government is trying to hide an undisclosed and significant operating surplus.

We should also note that program expenditures as a percentage of GDP are at their lowest levels in the last five years. This is extremely troubling as it shows that government’s investment in Islanders is not keeping pace with our economic growth. We’ve been hearing daily from vulnerable Islanders who are being left behind by an economy “on a tear,” and this increased revenue could provide the means to increase program spending in critical areas of need including housing, healthcare, and education.

It is my hope that government will act responsibly and disclose their current operating surplus, as well as increasing program spending as a percentage of GDP, rather than continue to hoard the surplus in anticipation of an early election call.

Yesterday, Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving and two associates appeared briefly before the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment.
It was reminiscent of several years ago when the same individual made demands about keeping power rates cheap, and natural gas modifications were made; and of the similar hearings a few years ago when he banged on the table and peevishly demanded more water access for potato production.  (Note that Environment Minister Richard Brown admitted that the government is privately talking to the Irvings before Water Act regulations are released publicly for consultation.) 

Yesterday, it was justifying the rewriting of the Lands Protection Act to suit his model of agriculture.

Like Island historian and commentator David Weale noticed, the second person accompanying Irving was John MacQuarrie, former P.E.I. government Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, and other departments including Environment, and Transportation; now Cavendish Farms' Director of Environmental Sustainability.  Weale notes, with sadness, that MacQuarrie "provided an environmental patina for his boss’s crassness and double-speak." 
(And I wish I shared the hope Ian Petrie had in his column in Island Farmer a year ago, when MacQuarrie got this job at Cavendish Farms after leaving government just a few months earlier.)

Kevin J. Arsenault (who hopes to run for the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative leadership) sat in on the hearing and wrote this blistering observation of the morning in his blog found here:

An excerpt:
"(Irving) actually had a short video of this (harvesting) image which he played so we could more-fully appreciate and admire the awesomeness of the evolving technology in farming.  Well, that technology may suit Washington State, but if the PEI government agrees with Robert Irving that PEI has to compete with that scale of production in order to have a profitable agricultural sector, then there’s not many years of potato farming left in PEI’s future."


My apologies to Kings County farmer John Quimby, for not asking him before quoting what he wrote about the Irving performance at the Standing Committee on social media on Thursday, November 1st, but it captured what many of us were feeling, with the farmer's primordial certainty:

This reminds me of watching professional sports or the Olympics lobbying to get taxpayers to buy in for the benefit of hosting the game by putting up their land, money and let's face it, their future on the speculation of a short term gain vs. long term debt. Calgary has all but walked away. And I think the "Aren't you big enough to play in the majors" pitch from Irving is laughable. They survey the farm and soils. They know how many crop cycles we have left.They want it all before they cut and run.

        -- John Quimby

By the way: Here is a Soundcloud link to an interview that "The Jeremiah Show" had with John Quimby, and the podcast notes include his recipe for roasted tomato soup.
(I have not finished listening to the podcast, but with lots of rainy weather in the coming days....)

November 1, 2018

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Happy November!

Today sees two Standing Committee meetings:
Thursday, November 1st:
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment, 10AM, Coles Building.  Meeting #4, Land: "The committee will meet to receive a briefing from representatives from Cavendish Farms on its land holdings in the province of Prince Edward Island."

Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy, 1:30PM,
Coles Building. Meeting #3, about Bill 101 and Vehicles passing school buses. "The committee will receive briefings on the topic of vehicles passing school buses (relating to Bill No. 101 – An Act to Amend the Highway Traffic Act) from: -Public Schools Branch: Dave Gillis (Leader of Corporate Services Department) and Catherine MacKinnon (Coordinator for Transportation Services) -Island business creating a rear prevention bar for school bus use (Dan MacDonald and others to be confirmed)."
You can watch them from the Legislative Assembly website, here:

And tonight:
A Night of Remembrance Celebrating Georgina Fane Pope, 7-8:30PM, Trinity United Church, 220 Richmond Street, Charlottetown.  Free but donations accepted for PEI Family Military Resource Centre.  Hank Stinson, Barbara Rhodenizer, Katherine Dewar, Doug Gallant and narrator Laurie Brinklow will bring to life "...Prince Edward Island’s own Georgina Fane Pope, Canadian Military Nursing Heroine....Readings by local actors, music from the PEI Regiment Band and The Canada Remembers Chorus, and images from Georgina Pope’s South African photo album."
Facebook event link
The P.E.I. Progressive Conservatives have planned their leadership convention for February 9th.
CBC online story
And in a month that can appear bleak and cold, some revitalizing positive energy:

Don't despair: the climate fight is only over if you think it is - The Guardian UK article by Rebecca Solnit

Published in The (U.K.) Guardian, on Sunday, October 14th, 2018

In response to Monday’s release of the IPCC report on the climate crisis – which warned that “unprecedented” changes were needed if global warming increases 1.5C beyond the pre-industrial period – a standup comic I know posted this plaintive request on her Facebook: “Damn this latest report about climate change is just terrifying. People that know a lot about this stuff, is there anything to be potentially optimistic about? I think this week I feel even worse than Nov 2016 and I’m really trying to find some hope here.”

A bunch of her friends posted variations on “we’re doomed” and “it’s hopeless”, which perhaps made them feel that they were in charge of one thing in this overwhelming situation, the facts. They weren’t, of course. They were letting understandable grief at the news morph into an assumption that they know just how the future is going to turn out. They don’t.

The future hasn’t already been decided. That is, climate change is an inescapable present and future reality, but the point of the IPCC report is that there is still a chance to seize the best-case scenario rather than surrender to the worst. Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in a gulag for his work with Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, recalls his mentor saying: “They want us to believe there’s no chance of success. But whether or not there’s hope for change is not the question. If you want to be a free person, you don’t stand up for human rights because it will work, but because it is right. We must continue living as decent people.” Right now living as decent people means every one of us with resources taking serious climate action, or stepping up what we’re already doing.

Climate action is human rights, because climate change affects the most vulnerable first and hardest – it already has, with droughts, fires, floods, crop failures. It affects the myriad species and habitats that make this earth such an intricately beautiful place, from the coral reefs to the caribou herds. What we’re deciding now is what life will be like for the kids born this year who will be 82 in 2100, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s grandchildren. They will curse the era that devastated the planet, and perhaps they’ll bless the memory of those who tried to limit this destruction. The report says we need to drop fossil fuel consumption by 45% by 2030, when these kids will be 12. That’s a difficult but not impossible proposition.

Taking action is the best way to live in conditions of crisis and violation, for your spirit and your conscience as well as for society. It’s entirely compatible with grief and horror; you can work to elect climate heroes while being sad. There are no guarantees – but just as Sakharov and Sharansky probably didn’t imagine that the Soviet Union would dissolve itself in the early 1990s, so we can anticipate that we don’t exactly know what will happen and how our actions will help shape the future.

The histories of change that have made me hopeful are often about small groups that seem at the outset unrealistic in their ambition. Whether they were taking on slavery in antebellum USA or human rights in the Soviet bloc, these movements grew exponentially and changed consciousness and then toppled institutions or regimes. We also don’t know what technological breakthroughs, large-scale social changes, or catastrophic ecological feedback loops will shape the next 20 years. Knowing that we don’t know isn’t grounds for confidence, but it is fuel against despair, which is a form of certainty. This future is as uncertain as it’s ever been.

There have been countless encouraging developments in the global climate movement. The movement was small, fragmented, mild a dozen years ago, and the climate recommendations then were mostly polite, with too much change-your-lightbulbs focus on personal virtue. But personal virtue only matters if it scales up (and even individual acts depend on collective decisions – I have, for example, 100% renewable electricity at home because other citizens pushed our amoral power company to evolve, and it’s more feasible for me to ride a bike because there are now bike lanes all over my city).

The movement that has taken on pipelines and fuel trains, refineries and shipping terminals, fracking and mountaintop removal, divestment and finance, policy and law, and sometimes won is evidence of what can happen in 12 years. Some of what were regarded as climate activists’ wild ideas and unreasonable demands are now policy and conventional common sense. There are so many transformative projects under way from local work to transition off fossil fuels, to the effort to stop pipelines (with some major victories, including the one to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline, which won in court in late August), to the lawsuit against the US government on behalf of 21 young people, charging it with violating their rights and the public trust. The trial begins on 29 October in Eugene, Oregon.

The other thing I find most encouraging and even a little awe-inspiring is how profoundly the global energy landscape has already changed in this century. At the beginning of the 21st century, renewables were expensive, inefficient, infant technologies incapable of meeting our energy needs. In a revolution at least as profound as the industrial revolution, wind and solar engineering and manufacturing have changed everything; we now have the technological capacity to largely leave fossil fuel behind. It was not possible then; it is now. That is stunning. And encouraging.

Astoundingly, 98% of the energy Costa Rica generates is from non-fossil fuel sources. Scotland closed its last coal-fired power plant two years ago and overall emissions there are half what they were in 1990. Texas is getting more of its energy from wind than from coal – about a quarter on good days and half on a great day recently. Iowa already gets more than a third of its energy from wind because wind is already more cost-effective than fossil fuel, and more turbines are being set up. Cities and states in the USA and elsewhere are setting ambitious goals to reduce fossil fuel consumption or go entirely renewable. Last month California committed to make its electricity 100% carbon-free by 2045. There are stories like this from all over the world that tell us a transition is already under way. They need to scale up and speed up, but we are not starting from scratch today.

The IPCC report recommends urgent work on many fronts – from how we produce food and to what use we put land (more forests) to how we generate and use energy (and the unsexy business of energy efficiency also matters). It describes four paths forward, three of which depend on carbon-capturing technologies not yet realized, the fourth includes the most radical reductions in fossil-fuel use and planting a lot of trees.

The major obstacles to this withdrawal are political, the fossil fuel and energy corporations and the governments obscenely intertwined with them. I called up Steve Kretzmann, the longtime director of the climate policy-and-action group Oil Change International (on whose board I sit), and he reflected on the two approaches to climate action – changing consumption and changing production.

Going after production often gets neglected, and places like Alberta, Canada, like to boast about their virtuous energy consumption projects while their energy production – in Alberta’s case, the tar sands – threatens the future of the planet. Addressing production means going after some of the most powerful and ruthless corporations on earth and the regimes that protect them and are rewarded by them – or, as with Russia and Saudi Arabia and to some extent the US are indistinguishable from them.

Steve told me: “We have to be real about this: this is the oil industry and wars are fought over it. There’s a lot of political power here and there’s a lot of people defending that power.” But he also noted: “The moment it’s clear it’s inexorably on the wane, it will pop.” You can hasten the popping by cutting the enormous subsidies, and by divesting from fossil fuel corporations – to date the once-mocked divestment movement has gotten $6tn withdrawn. As Damien Carrington reported for the Guardian last month, “Major oil companies such as Shell have this year cited divestment as a material risk to its business.”

We also need to shut down production directly, with a just transition for workers in those sectors. Five countries – Belize, Ireland, New Zealand, France and Costa Rica – are already working on bans on new exploration and extraction, and the World Bank sent shockwaves around the world last December when it announced that after 2019 it would no longer finance oil and gas extraction.

Given that the clean energy comes with lots of jobs – and jobs that don’t give people black lung and don’t poison surrounding communities – there’s a lot of ancillary benefit. Fossil fuel is, even aside from the carbon it pumps into the atmosphere, literally poison, from the mercury that contaminates the air when coal is burned and the mountains of coal ash residue to the toxic emissions and water contamination of fracking and the sinister chemicals emitted by refineries to the smog from cars. “Giving up” is often how fossil fuel is talked about, as though it’s pure loss, but renouncing poison doesn’t have to be framed as sacrifice.

Part of the work we need to do is to imagine not only the devastation of climate change, and the immense difference between 2 or 3 degrees of warming and 1.5 degrees, but the benefits of making a transition from fossil fuel. The fading away of the malevolent power of the oil companies would be a profound transformation, politically as well as ecologically.

I don’t know exactly if or how we’ll get to where we need to go, but I know that we must set out better options with all the passion, power and intelligence we have. A revolution is what we need, and we can begin by imagining and demanding it and doing what we can to try to realize it. Rather than waiting to see what happens, we can be what happens. And by the way, the comedian I mentioned: she’s already organizing fundraisers for climate groups.



from American filmmaker Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Fareinheit , from a few months ago but relevant as ever:

"...I have been pondering a nearly forgotten lesson I learned in high school music.  Sometimes in band or choir, music requires playing singers to hold a note longer than they actually can hold a note. In those cases, we were taught to mindfully stagger when we took a breath so the sound appeared uninterrupted. 

Everyone got to breathe, and the music stayed strong and vibrant.

Yesterday, I read an article that suggested that the (United States) administration's litany of bad executive a way of giving us 'protest fatigue' -- we will literally lose our will to continue the fight in the face of the onslaught of negative action.  Let's remember MUSIC.

Take a breath.  The rest of the chorus will sing. The rest of the band will play.  Rejoin so others can breathe. Together, we can sustain a very long, beautiful song for a very, very long time.  You don't have to do it alone but you must add your voice to the song.

With special love to all the musicians and music teachers in my life."

       -- Michael Moore