CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

November 2019


  1. 1 November 30, 2019
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 1.2 Help the bats, says the Canadian Wildlife Federation - The Toronto Sun article by Jane Stevenson
  2. 2 November 29, 2019
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  3. 3 November 28, 2019
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 3.2 New federal environment minister postpones Northern Pulp decision - The Halifax Star article by Taryn Grant
  4. 4 November 27, 2019
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  5. 5 November 26, 2019
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 5.2 Meet the Farmers Putting Politics Aside to Address Climate Change - Yes Magazine on-line article by Lynn Freehill-Maye
  6. 6 November 25, 2019
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 6.2 JIM VIBERT: Northern Pulp question won’t be ‘speculative’ much longer - The Chronicle Herald article by Jim Vibert
    3. 6.3 The latest Keystone Pipeline oil leak is almost 10 times worse than initially thought - CNN online article by Elizabeth Wolfe and Brian Ries
    4. 6.4 Planting Billions of Trees Is the 'Best Climate Change Solution Available Today,' Study Finds - ECOWatch website post by Olivia Rosane
  7. 7 November 24, 2019
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 7.2 Energy efficiency is key to climate action, but which provinces are leading the way? - CBC News online article by Andre Mayer
  8. 8 November 23, 2019
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 8.2 Irrigation boosts potatoes, but Park Rapids pays more for water - MPR News article by Dan Gunderson
  9. 9 November 22, 2019
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 9.2 Tories don’t need free styling ministers - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
    3. 9.3 Wind turbine debate continues in Eastern Kings - The Eastern Graphic article by Charlotte MacAulay
  10. 10 November 21, 2019
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 10.2 Quebecers get top cabinet spots as environmentalists accuse Trudeau of caving to western pressure - CBC News webpage aticle by Jonathan Monpetit
  11. 11 November 20, 2019
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  12. 12 November 19, 2019
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 12.2 Hope, fear characterize final countdown to Boat Harbour closure for Pictou Landing First Nation - The Star article by Taryn Grant
  13. 13 November 18, 2019
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  14. 14 November 17, 2019
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 14.2 Barlow’s teachings of hope amid the global environmental crisis - Council of Canadians' website article
  15. 15 November 16, 2019
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 15.2 How grocery stores could produce less plastic waste - CBC "What on Earth" -- Friday, November 16th, 2019
  16. 16 November 15, 2019
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 16.2 Water regulations playing catch-up - The Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie
    3. 16.3 Beetles galore on PEI - Scientists find 233 unrecorded species - The Eastern Graphic article by David MacDonald
  17. 17 November 14, 2019
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 17.2 Climate change centre has implications - The Guardian Opinion Piece by Kirsten Connor
  18. 18 November 13, 2019
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 18.2 Call on the Liberals, NDP and Greens to form a cooperative government! - FairVote Canada
  19. 19 November 12, 2019
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 19.2 Why House leaders have been meeting regularly ahead of fall sitting of P.E.I. Legislature - CBC News online article
  20. 20 November 11, 2019
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 20.2 JOSH UNDERHAY: Never again. Never forget - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Josh Underhay
    3. 20.3 Recently retired Charlottetown forest officer talks about her career highlights - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
  21. 21 November 10, 2019
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 21.2 Mandate letters hint at big dreams - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
  22. 22 November 9, 2019
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 22.2 Fall of Berlin Wall: How 1989 reshaped the modern world - BBC News online article
  23. 23 November 8, 2019
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 23.2 P.E.I. government settles with PNP 'whistleblowers' - CBC Online article by Shane Ross
  24. 24 November 7, 2019
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 24.2 Ranked-choice voting adopted in New York City, along with other ballot measures - Politico article by Erin Durkin
    3. 24.3 OPINION: Appetite for electoral change still strong in P.E.I. - The Guardian Opinion piece by Stephen DeGrace
  25. 25 November 6, 2019
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 25.2 CALL TO ACTION: BFC presents The Hillsborough Bridge Active Transportation Lane Petition—2.0!
  26. 26 November 5, 2019
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 26.2 E-bus Report Part 1 - Fridays for Future PEI Climate Action Group article by Tony Reddin & Michael Page
  27. 27 November 4, 2019
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 27.2 Fracking halted in England in major government U-turn - The Guardian (U.K.) article by Jillian Ambrose
    3. 27.3 Turn back the clock on Daylight Savings: Why Standard Time all year round is the healthy choice - The Globe and Mail article by Nicolas Cermakian, Patricia Lakin-Thomas and Tami Martino
  28. 28 November 3, 2019
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 28.2 Mi'kmaq beginning move towards self-governance on P.E.I. - CBC PEI online article by Tony Davis
  29. 29 November 2, 2019
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 29.2 Keystone Pipeline Spills 383,000 Gallons of Oil into North Dakota Wetlands - article by Phil McKenna
  30. 30 November 1, 2019
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 30.2 10 Years of White-nose Syndrome on Canada’s Bats: An Update - Canadian Wildlife Federation article by Karen Vanderwolf, Canadian Wildlife Federation

November 30, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets -- Charlottetown 9AM-2PM and Summerside, 9AM-1PM

Events Postponed UNTIL Sunday, December 1st:  A Time for Joy! Christmas Concert with the Cornwall Community Choir, 2PM


Help the bats, says the Canadian Wildlife Federation - The Toronto Sun article by Jane Stevenson

Bats get a bad rap.

Whether they’re in the belfry or portrayed as flying bloodsuckers in pop culture, humans generally don’t feel warm and cozy about the creatures of the night.

“It’s absolutely true,” said Carolyn Callaghan, the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s senior conservation biologist, terrestrial wildlife, down the line from Luskville, Quebec.

“We associate them with Halloween. They’re a little bit scary. There’s still common myths about them. They’ve got sharp little teeth and they fly. I think they’re so different from us. I think myths evolve from things that are different.”

But as natural pest controllers they also need to be protected says the CWF which staged Bat Week (from Oct. 24-31) and want people to learn more at

“Because they get a bad rap we need to find a way to celebrate them and bat Week is a way to do that,” said Callaghan.

The issue, says Callaghan, is that hibernating bats may be storing pesticides from contaminated insect food in their flesh over winter, impacting their immunity to fight disease and death.

“We are quite concerned about neonicotinoids (neonics) pesticides which is a special group of pesticides, we have five different kinds that are registered in Canada, and they’re very efficient at killing insects and not just the crop pest but everything,” said Callaghan.

“So the pesticide gets into every cell in the tissue of the plant and for bats it causes a decline in their prey. But what we also found is that they can be poisoned from eating the contaminated insects that weren’t first of all killed by the pesticide. So that’s basically a neurotoxin so it’s affecting their brains and researchers in Taiwan found that neonicotinoids impair echolocation ability of bats. So echolocation is this fantastic way they can locate where their prey is in the air. Basically the sound bounces off of objects including their prey, and they can quickly get in and catch it. And if you’re a bat who can not locate your prey, you can’t catch, and then it basically affects your ability to survive.”

The presence of neonicotinoids can also affect bats ability of going into and out of hibernation.

On top of that, bat populations are already on the decline, said Callaghan.

Of the 19 bat species, seven are listed as at risk, and another three are likely to be added to that list

"It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody."
--- Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

November 29, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The Fall Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature ended last night about 5PM, with the Capital Budget and other fiscal bills passing, and after the Opposition Motion about improved Fiscal Accountability seriously discussed and passed unanimously. Always, as the Fall Sitting ends, it feels like Charles Dickens wrote the benediction of the Lieutenant Governor when she says, until they gather again, she wishes that
"...peace and freedom for all people shall be more nearly achieved."

More below.

Some Events:

CBC Radio Political Panel, 7:40-8AM, 96.1FM. Guardian Political reporter Stu Neatby, former CBC reporter Kathy Large, and Graphic publisher Paul MacNeill will wrap up the Fall Sitting of the Legislature.

Barter Bazaar, a twist on Buy Nothing Day, 5:30-8:30PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown. Organizer Daniel Cousins writes:
"This event's Black Friday Deals are the best. Welcome to Barter Bazaar a market where no cash is accepted. People bring in items or offer up their skills for trade.
What can be traded?
Almost anything can be traded whether it is items you do not use anymore, a skill you can offer, something you make or bake whatever it is it is your bartering chip.
....What is the goal?
The goal is to show people the power of bartering in a fun event."
More details at Facebook event link

Note the Tree Lighting and Charlottetown Christmas Market have moved inside for Friday, Parade moved to Sunday, more details should be here

Saturday, November 30th and Sunday, December 1st: A Fascinating Ladies Christmas, 7:30PM and 2PM, Victoria Playhouse (Kings Playhouse later in December). With Citizens' Alliance Board member Catherine O'Brien, amazing singer and tap dancer, with Kelley Mooney and Alison Kelly. "Fascinating Ladies are back exploring holiday classics in the style of your favourite female artists from the last century! They'll share their best-loved Christmas hits made popular by such greats as the Andrews Sisters, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, The Judds, Sarah McLauchlin and more". Tickets

Some notes from the last day of the Fall Sitting:

Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson announced the appointment of an Agriculture Climate Change Coordinator (I think) -- will have to find out more about this.

There was more discussion in Question Period on how burning biomass can be considered sustainable and what about the ill effects of smoke from it, including this question to Health Minister James Aylward:

Steve Howard (District 22: Summerside-South Drive):
...We have an opportunity to invest in emission free technology for our schools and hospitals, but we are instead moving to more systems that emit much of the same as fossil fuel boilers.We are installing these systems at our school and hospitals where our most vulnerable spent so much time.
Health of children in schools, re: emissions
Question to the minister of health: In light of this information, do you have concerns that the health of our children and those already burdened with health issues are being put at greater risk, up to and including increased mortality rates?

Speaker:The hon. Minister of Health and Wellness.

Mr. Aylward:Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. No.


Michelle Beaton, MLA for District 7: Stratford-Mermaid, who as chair of the Public Accounts Standing Committee has embraced that role and brought organization, curiosity, and the ability to break complex processes down to understandable levels, spoke about the challenge of this committee and her goals for it, when the House completed debate on the Motion on Fiscal Responsibility, between the second and third hour of the broadcast for Thursday afternoon.
Video from: Thursday, November 28th, 2019


Motion on Fiscal Responsibility:

Calling on Government to improve fiscal accountability
Michele Beaton gives notice that tomorrow she will move, seconded by Hon. Leader of the Opposition, the following motion:
WHERE AS there have been two consecutive years of ‘surprise’ surpluses as aresult of higher than forecast corporate income tax, harmonized sales tax, and personal income taxes;
AND WHEREAS taxpayers expect and deserve honest and accurate fiscal projections from their government;
AND WHEREAS accounting standards require surpluses to be applied to reducing the debt;
AND WHEREAS program expenditures for essential services have not been increased to keep pace with the needs of Islanders;
AND WHEREAS this neglect of essential services has resulted in significant hardship for Islanders accessing health care, housing and the basic necessities of life;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly urge government to strive for accuracy in their revenue forecasts, to more accurately reflect the current provincial economy, and enable more flexibility in essential expenditures.
Signed: Michele Beaton
Signed:Hon. Leader of the Opposition
Date:November 13, 2019

Kerry Campbell has a good wrap-up of the Sitting on the CBC website, here:
"I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said."
--- Thuli Madonsela (B. 1962), South African advocate

November 28, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Legislature sits from 2-5PM and perhaps 7-9PM (see more, below)

Some events coming up this weekend:

Saturday, November 30th:
Voluntary Resource Council Breakfast and Volunteer Recognition Awards, 8:30AM, contact Sylvie asap for tickets, (902) 368-7337 or
Always a good community time -- guaranteed to be a fine breakfast created by Chef Emily Wells -- and it's a chance to take the time to show some gratitude for the VRC and for a group of wonderful people, before people really get busy with the holidays.

“A Time for Joy” Christmas Concert, Cornwall Community Choir, 2PM, West River United Church, 10 Church St., Cornwall. (Storm date December 1.)
"Come enjoy a selection of seasonal choral music performed by the Cornwall Community Choir under the direction of Lisa Stead. Special guests, the Celtic Pulse dancers, will add to the festivities. Angela Walker of CBC Radio Mainstreet will be our MC. The Cornwall Community Choir usually performs for residents of Community Care homes. Public concerts are held only once every two years.
Admission fee is $10 at the door, no charge for children 12 and under. Please enter through the church hall entrance. Following the concert, the audience is invited to enjoy a light lunch hosted by the choir. For further information, contact Nancy at 902-675-3838.

The Legislature will resume sitting today, and discuss some areas in more detail, after it appeared it would close yesterday, but then did not, after one of those regular "mass confusion" episodes where language and rules and attention to intention goes off the rails a bit.

from this CBC story,

Prior to the confusion, Green MLAs had expected a standing vote to be held on the capital budget appropriation bill. The vote essentially would have determined the government’s $156-million capital budget.
In the end, a standing vote was not held. This meant MLAs were not able to express their support or displeasure with the capital budget.
"I think we have to take responsibility for that. I think there was confusion in the house — in all corners of the house, actually. We were expecting somebody else to call a standing vote and they somehow missed that cue," Green Leader Peter Bevan-BakerBevan-Baker said. "It was mass confusion. But there is an opportunity at third reading, for those who want to express their lack of support to have an opportunity to do that."
Other news:

New federal environment minister postpones Northern Pulp decision - The Halifax Star article by Taryn Grant

Published on Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

HALIFAX—The question of whether the federal government will step in to review Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent treatment facility and pipeline will be answered next month — a promise from Justin Trudeau’s newly appointed environment minister, Jonathan Wilkinson.

Wilkinson was facing a Nov. 26 deadline to decide whether to designate the Abercrombie, N.S. pulp mill’s proposal for a federal impact assessment, but has postponed the decision to Dec. 20.

In a statement, the federal environment minister said he needed more time to review the Northern Pulp file, having just assumed the responsibility last week. Wilkinson was fisheries minister until the start of the fall election campaign and, after the Liberal government’s re-election, was shuffled to environment and climate change in the new cabinet.

“In the spirit of informed decision-making and of ensuring certainty on timelines for proponents, I am thoroughly reviewing a series of designation requests from the Impact Assessment Agency, and will arrive at a definitive decision on all of them by December 20, 2019,” Wilkinson said in the statement.

“Any decisions that are made will align with our government’s commitment to protecting the environment and creating good jobs; Canadian can expect nothing less.”

The Northern Pulp file was one among several designation requests that were due Tuesday—90 days after the Impact Assessment Act came into force. The designation requests were originally made under the Environmental Assessment Act, which was replaced by the new legislation. The change triggered a refresh of the review process for some requests.

Northern Pulp’s existing effluent treatment facility in Boat Harbour is mandated, by Nova Scotia law, to close by the end of January 2020. The mill can’t operate without a means of treating its industrial wastewater, so its owners are looking to replace the existing facility.

The mill’s proposed replacement would treat tens of millions of litres of wastewater daily on-site and then pump it through 15 kilometres of pipeline into the Northumberland Strait.

The proposed project is currently undergoing a provincial environmental assessment and Nova Scotia’s environment minister, Gordon Wilson, is due to respond to the mill’s submission by Dec. 17. Wilson’s predecessor, Margaret Miller, demanded a focus report from the mill in March after ruling the information in its original environment assessment was insufficient.

Five federal departments, including the department of environment, weighed in on the focus report during a public comment period this fall, saying it lacked necessary information, but that input is independent of the potential federal impact assessment.

Regardless of Wilson’s decision — which could be to approve, reject, or request more information — Wilkinson could still prescribe the project for a federal evaluation.

Northern Pulp’s proposed project is not automatically subject to federal oversight because it isn’t on federal land, but the Impact Assessment Act gives the minister some discretion to designate additional projects, either by his own initiative or by request.

In the case of Northern Pulp, the minister received requests for a federal impact assessment from the public, fishermen organizations, NGOs, community groups, government and public officials and Indigenous groups.


"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
---G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

November 27, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM today only.
You can watch live here or attend in person.

A petition is set to be tabled by District 19 Borden-Kinkora MLA Jamie Fox from South Shore residents demanding better rural health care access.

There is some mention the Legislature may close on Thursday.
The official report from Elections PEI on the April 2019 provincial election (including the deferred election in District 9) has been released and is here:

And here is the Elections PEI website which has a link to the report, if the above link does not work:

At 124 pages, it will make some colourful and thorough reading during the long days until the Legislature sits in Spring 2020.
"You don't need a reason to help people."
--- Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

November 26, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The P.E.I. Legislature sits between 2-5PM, and 7-9PM. Sit in the Gallery or watch live here.
A long piece, but positive! From Yes magazine, with thanks to Jill M. for pointing it out.

Meet the Farmers Putting Politics Aside to Address Climate Change - Yes Magazine on-line article by Lynn Freehill-Maye

The Practical Farmers of Iowa waste no time on partisan stances as they face the challenges of extreme weather and depleted soils.

Published on Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Welcoming everybody to his farm on a searing August afternoon, Ron Rosmann lets the pleasantries go for 12 minutes before getting to the heart of things. Around him, about 70 growers sit like school kids on bales of hay, braced to hear him.

Rosmann has been farming organically for 36 years on western Iowa’s fertile hills, and his voice is as gravelly as the road that runs alongside his land. You might think farming without pesticides would get easier over time, but you’d be wrong. An impossibly rainy planting season and runaway giant ragweed have made this year his toughest yet.

“What are we experiencing?” he asks the group. “Warmer temperatures, more rainfall, warmer nights, 10 years in a row of cold, wet springs. I’m getting more and more nervous.”

The growers, all members of Practical Farmers of Iowa, are here to learn how Rosmann copes. A rare alliance of organic and conventional farmers, their views on climate change run the gamut of opinion. They meet on different farms around the state to share practices and today have come out for a “field day” to observe how Rosmann and his family produce beef, pork, chickens, eggs, popcorn, and grains on 700 acres—without chemicals.

While long-term climate change is prompting growing activism, farmers like these often register its near-term effects first. It contributes to soil erosion and severe weather events. It has increased annual precipitation in Iowa at least 8% over the past century, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. And the effects keep multiplying.

The field day includes a hayrack tour of the Rosmanns’ pesticide-free fields. On one section, turnips are planted as a cover crop, and volunteer oats and barley also pop up. Down the road, the group visits naturally ventilated “hoop house” pig shelters: metal arcs covered with greenhouse plastic, in which deep cornstalk bedding decreases manure runoff risk. They stand in front of long compost mounds, where butterflies land as Rosmann describes how to balance straw and manure. The farmers end their tour back in the barn, dining on the Rosmanns’ organic coleslaw and pulled-pork sandwiches.

As Rosmann, a self-declared independent Democrat, pontificates about climate change, Mark Peterson, a conservative Republican, studies his phone. The two Iowa growers admit they don’t see eye to eye on the issue.
Peterson, who grows grain conventionally an hour away, believes changing weather patterns may be cyclical. “I respect his opinion,” Peterson says after Rosmann’s climate talk. “It’s scary, there’s no doubt about that. But the cause—I’m not sure that’s as important as figuring out what we’re gonna do about it.”
While they may not agree on what has gotten them here, growers such as Rosmann and Peterson are thinking beyond politicized climate change arguments to figure out solutions. They’re trying to adapt to the differences they’re experiencing, and even trying to mitigate them.

Along with fellow practical farmers members, they’re approaching agriculture more regeneratively: focusing on soil health, planting cover crops, reducing chemicals, and minimizing the runoff that contributes to the Gulf of Mexico’s fishless “dead zone.” In the age of climate change, their sharing of experience is increasingly vital.

“PFI, in my view, is the best example in this country right now of the blending of science and local wisdom,” Laura Lengnick says. She’s a North Carolina-based resilient-agriculture researcher who travels the country talking to groups like these.

Organizations like Practical Farms of Iowa remain rare, Lengnick says. The group has “been a constant star in my career, literally from when I was an undergraduate student, because they’re so unique.”

Most people don’t keep diaries of the weather. Only novelties, such as big storms or long stretches of unseasonable temperatures, register as unusual. It’s up to scientists—meteorologists and climatologists, mainly—to tell us about how today’s weather fits into larger patterns.

Farmers are different. Weather doesn’t just affect their Saturday at the park; it dictates their livelihood, and they keep exhaustive mental and written records of it day by day, year by year.

That’s why in 2019, you don’t need to tell many farmers that climate patterns have been shifting. When Lengnick started working on her resilience book in 2012, things were touchier in agriculture. Many farmers didn’t want to go on the record about climate change. “I see a sea change since then,” she says. “Everybody’s talking about it.”

In August 2019, Alan Sano, a central California farmer, argued in The New York Times that drought, heat, and wildfires have put growers at the climate-change frontlines. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had just warned that soil is being lost up to 100 times faster than it is forming. “We don’t need to read the science—we’re living it,” Sano declared.

Sano and his farm manager, Jesse Sanchez, are part of the Conservation Agriculture Systems Center, a working group at University of California, Davis. The working group pulls a mix of California farmers together to share eco-friendly practices such as reducing tillage. Like PFI, they often host field days to help farmers share techniques.

In New Mexico, the Quivira Coalition, which was formed in 1997 and believes ranching should support a healthy ecosystem, brings livestock producers together to build resilience. Today, Quivira includes 750 members of all political stripes. “Out here, people are coming from extremely rural areas, and there’s a complexity of views that is hard to characterize,” executive director Sarah Wentzel-Fisher says.

“But I think the underlying commonality we have is that people really care about the land they steward and animals they care for.”Practical Farmers of Iowa has a longer history. Fifty members formed the organization in 1985 to learn from each other. These days, it numbers more than 3,500 and prides itself on being big-tent—with wide-ranging views around politics and the environment.

Fred Abels, for instance, a staunch Republican, is passionate about improving water quality through environmentally sound practices like maintaining wetlands and buffer strips. Dan Wilson leans firmly conservative, but farms completely organically. Iowa made national headlines for this spring’s record flooding that has the practical farmers members still reeling.

“Disgustingly wet,” the otherwise affable Peterson growls. At his Bent Gate Farm, Peterson’s two Labrador mixes, Emmy and Riley, jog out to greet a visitor. Dogs and cats are the farm’s only animals, but Peterson has a friend’s cattle graze on his cover crops.

It begins to rain, and from his Chevy Silverado, Peterson surveys the cover-crop mix of buckwheat, sunflower, radishes, and turnips he’s growing on 50 acres to help manage soil erosion. Each 1% increase in soil organic matter, scientists say, helps soil hold up to 20,000 gallons more water per acre.

The soil here is healthier now, Peterson says, and will yield more corn later. The field’s traditional wet spots haven’t been as big or lasting. The winter wheat will anchor the topsoil. As he talks, three geese alight. Lately, Peterson has seen three coveys of quail, and up to seven pheasants in a one day. “I see that as a sign of overall farm health,” he says.

Peterson still uses the herbicide glyphosate, in the form of weed killer Roundup, although sparingly. On fellow practical farmers’ member Denise O’Brien’s Rolling Acres farm 45 minutes northeast, even that would be anathema.

O’Brien has farmed organically for 43 years. On this day, she and a mentee, Amber Mohr, are digging up potatoes out bac

Rows of veggies stand at attention around them. O’Brien is just as proud of her sustainable high tunnels. Working like greenhouses, they require irrigation but extend the growing seasons. O’Brien installed the hoop shelters on tracks in 2013. “This is the way vegetable farmers are going to be mitigating climate change, with high tunnels,” she ways. “It’s going to protect the soil.”

She and Mohr grab the harvested vegetables and move into a barn as storm clouds loom. O’Brien works barefoot as she hoses stubborn dirt clumps that stick to some carrots, later grabbing a higher-pressure hose to finish the job. Outspokenly liberal, she confesses to occasional frustrations with the practical farmers group.

She recounts losing her temper in August, when one farmer on the group’s general Listserv asked how to deal with sprayed pesticide drifting over from her neighbors’ farm. Pesticide drift is a hot-button issue with the farmers. During the Rosmanns’ field day, a crop-duster buzzed overhead. “Incoming!” farmers pointed. “Hope it’s not gonna spray us,” one muttered.

The pesticide-drift post was moved to the group’s smaller policy Listserv, which O’Brien protested. After nearly 40 years as a member, she threatened to quit. “I don’t like to end on a threat, but this … makes me sick not to discuss,” she wrote.

Such flare-ups aren’t uncommon. It’s the natural byproduct of bringing people together across ideological lines.

Within a couple days, O’Brien had decided to stay, though she wishes the group would take a firmer stand on agriculture policy. Still, she’s glad a rare organization like it even exists, with its mix of growers and ideas. “It’s really neat that conventional farmers are a part of PFI, because they to me are the farmers of the future, figuring out how to use more sustainable practices,” she says. “The other thing is, I’m still learning a lot from other farmers.”


"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled"
---Plutarch (C.E. 44-120)

November 25, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Event tonight:
Veg PEI Monthly Potluck, 6:30PM, Haviland Club. Some basic guidelines to follow are here at the link:
Facebook event link

Monday, December 9th:
Application deadline, women 55 and older, for the "Still Visible: Bring Senior Women Together" project committee.
"Women’s Network PEI is pleased to announce our project Still Visible: Bring Senior Women Together. This initiative was made possible by the financial support of the Interministerial Women’s Secretariat of PEI and focuses on creating a peer-support based network of senior women to strengthen their leadership skills.
Women’s Network is seeking self-identified women ages 55 and up to come together and explore gender, leadership and ageing as part of our Still Visible project. The group will meet weekly over a period of three months in the winter 2019/2020 and explore the topics of interest and co-develop a Senior Women’s Leadership Festival. This group is for self-identified women, which includes transwomen, and gender non-binary and genderqueer folks."
Women's Network link
Update and summary: Northern Pulp, from the careful and observant Jim Vibert in Nova Scotia:

JIM VIBERT: Northern Pulp question won’t be ‘speculative’ much longer - The Chronicle Herald article by Jim Vibert

Published on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019, in the Saltwire Newspapers

Within a few short weeks, the question won’t be “speculative” anymore, and Nova Scotia’s Liberal government will have to fish or cut wood. Northern Pulp’s new effluent treatment plan – replacing Boat Harbour which, by law, is scheduled to shut down at the end of January – is winding its way through the provincial environmental assessment process.

We’ll know on or before Dec. 13 whether the mill’s plan meets the province’s environmental standards, but the smart money says the mill will get the necessary approval to proceed. Indeed, the province’s highest court – the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal – can’t imagine that the government, which helped finance Northern Pulp’s proposal and is under contractual obligation to treat the mill’s effluent, would withhold the environmental approval. The court made that observation while ruling on the related issue of the province’s duty to consult with the Pictou Landing Mi’kmaq community on the Northern Pulp proposal. Pictou Landing abuts Boat Harbour.

The Chronicle Herald’s Aaron Beswick recently put the question that thousands of Nova Scotians want answered to Premier Stephen McNeil’s office. Essentially that question is: Will the government extend the life of Boat Harbour if – when? – Northern Pulp’s new effluent treatment plan gains environmental approval?

The extension would be required to keep the Abercrombie, Pictou County kraft pulp mill operating while the new treatment facilities are constructed, estimated to take about 18 months. The mill needs some method of dealing with its effluent or it will have to shutdown, perhaps for good. Boat Harbour has been receiving the effluent since Scott Paper opened the mill in the late 1960s.

Northern Pulp’s plan is to treat the mill’s effluent on site and then pipe the wastewater into the Northumberland Strait. That plan doesn’t sit well with North Shore fisherfolk – sorry, but “fishermen” doesn’t meet the current gender neutrality test, and a “fisher” is a weasel-like critter. The people who fish fear that the plan jeopardizes the multi-million-dollar Strait lobster fishery. The province’s highly-integrated forestry sector says the mill’s closure would wreak havoc across their entire industry, costing hundreds of jobs and risking the viability of sawmills which depend on the mill as a market for their wood chips.

The provincial government is on the horns of a dilemma. On one hand, the mill’s closure would cause serious economic harm to the province’s forestry sector, which is vital in much of rural Nova Scotia. On the other, extending the life of Boat Harbour so the mill can remain in operation would be a betrayal of the Pictou Landing First Nation, which has been suffering the adverse consequences of the heavily polluted lagoon for more than a half-century.

Extending Boat Harbour’s life also means that, about 18 months later, the treated effluent would start pouring into the Strait against the vehement opposition of the North Shore lobster industry. And, the people of Pictou County are divided between those who want the mill to survive as an important part of the region’s economy, and those who, after 50 years, have had enough of its pollution and want to see it close.

If Environment Minister Gordon Wilson delivers the expected approval for Northern Pulp’s new treatment facilities, the provincial government faces the toughest test of its six-year life. For much of the province’s history, the decision would be a foregone conclusion. Governments of all stripes have invariably come down on the side of jobs and economic growth. In this case, on balance, the economic argument favours keeping the mill alive, even if it means an extension of Boat Harbour.

But it’s no longer that simple. Environmental considerations, for many Nova Scotians, have become at least as important as economics. If the environment comes first, Boat Harbour will close on schedule and the future of the mill will be very much in doubt. It’s not even clear which is the better political decision here. If the mill closes, voters in rural ridings across the province will be alienated from the Liberals for letting it happen.

If the government does what’s necessary to save the mill, it will pay a political price among Nova Scotians who want environmental considerations to win the day. And if saving the mill means extending Boat Harbour, as it almost certainly does, breaking faith with the Pictou Landing community is another serious political problem.

The government’s reluctance to answer the critical questions about the mill’s future is understandable, but the time is rapidly approaching when those questions will no longer be avoidable.

North Dakota Keystone Pipeline leak (just link to story):

The latest Keystone Pipeline oil leak is almost 10 times worse than initially thought - CNN online article by Elizabeth Wolfe and Brian Ries

Published on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
And a reminder that planting trees is a huge help (link only):

Planting Billions of Trees Is the 'Best Climate Change Solution Available Today,' Study Finds - ECOWatch website post by Olivia Rosane

Published on Friday, July 5th, 2019, on ECOWatch website.
"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."
---Atticus Finch, to his son Jem in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

November 24, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Musical Sunday-
PEI Symphony Orchestra, 2:30PM, Confederation Centre Main Stage, preconcert talk at 1:30. A completely complimentary program of "The Planets" and "The Hockey Sweater." Tickets

Music for a Winter's Afternoon, 2PM, Confed Centre Library. Gorgeous harp music by Jill Harris, even though Winter technically doesn't start for a month.

Bonshaw Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall. Admission by donation with proceeds going to the upkeep of the Hall. Performers include: Fullerton's Marsh (Randy Dibblee, Frank MacQuaid and Willie Arsenault), Cam MacDuffie, Johanne Gass, and dancer James Ronahan, and the local troubadours.
The Official Opposition brought this up in the Legislature Friday, too.

Energy efficiency is key to climate action, but which provinces are leading the way? - CBC News online article by Andre Mayer

Published on Thursday, November 21st, 2019

When it comes to action on climate change, a lot of emphasis is put on finding ways to green the power grid. One of the lesser-known strategies of reducing emissions, however, is focusing on energy efficiency — that is, building or retrofitting structures and vehicles so they use as little power as possible.

"I don't think it's discussed enough. It's the unsung hero of Canada's energy system," said Brendan Haley, policy director of Efficiency Canada, who said that energy efficiency could represent 40 per cent of the emissions reductions needed to meet the targets of the Paris Accord.

The federal government has recognized the importance of energy efficiency, and cites it specifically in its Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. "But it's really the provinces that are the implementers," said Haley.

With this in mind, Efficiency Canada released a scorecard this week comparing how each province is doing across a broad list of categories, including "Energy Efficiency Programs," "Enabling Policies," "Buildings," "Transportation" and "Industry."

Out of a score of 100, British Columbia finished first, followed by Quebec and Ontario. Here's the overall ranking:

1. B.C. (56 points)

2. Quebec (48)

3. Ontario (47)

4. Nova Scotia (45)

5. Manitoba (32)

6. Alberta (30)

7. Prince Edward Island (26)

8. New Brunswick (24)

9. Saskatchewan (18)

10. Newfoundland and Labrador (15)

While B.C. scored well in most categories, Haley said the western province is really ahead on the issue of buildings. That's largely a result of B.C.'s Energy Step Code policy, which "provides a clear path" toward net-zero energy-ready building standards.

Quebec did well in the transportation category as a result of being what Efficiency Canada calls "the country's vehicle electrification leader," thanks to its support of electric vehicle sales and for helping develop a robust charging network.

One of Canada's underappreciated performers is Nova Scotia, which has gone a long way in establishing provincial energy-efficiency programs, Haley said.

The province was early in recognizing the potential. In the mid-2000s, Nova Scotia looked ahead to future power demand and determined it could either meet it through traditional means, which meant building carbon-emitting power plants, or it could tackle the problem through greater efficiency.

Results showed that greater efficiency would avoid the need to build an additional coal plant, and save an estimated $1 billion. The province ended up making saving energy a focus through the creation of a utility known as Efficiency Nova Scotia, and spurred growth in green jobs in a new energy savings sector.

One of the beneficiaries of that was Dwaine MacDonald, co-founder of Trinity Energy Group in Stellarton, N.S., which works on making commercial and residential buildings more energy-efficient. Since MacDonald and his partners launched the company in 2006, Trinity has grown to 80 full-time employees. Not only is business good, but other regions have taken notice of Nova Scotia's expertise.

"Efficiency Nova Scotia is now known as a world leader in these programs," said MacDonald, citing Alberta and Ontario, as well as U.S. states like Maine, as some of the jurisdictions that have sought guidance. "Nobody has been able to touch what Nova Scotia has done. It's extremely impressive."

Given the sector's potential, Haley fully admitted that Efficiency Canada put out the scorecard with an eye to "trying to get some friendly competition going amongst the provinces to improve energy efficiency."


The discussion during Question Period Friday is here:

and while the Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Stephen Myers and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson give answers, there isn't much in concrete numbers or specifics in their answers, or big plans to really, really promote efficiency to lower people's energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Originally flagged by Ian Petrie, this article (just the link given here) gives some clarity on the histrionic statements being made about the CN Rail strike and propane shortages:
"A smile is the shortest distance between two persons."
--- Victor Borge (1909-2000), pianist and comedian (here is The New York Times obituary, and there are many YouTube clips of his ridiculously silly performances)

November 23, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


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

Craft Fairs
Breadalbane Community "Small is Beautiful" Craft Fair, 10AM-3PM, Breadalbane, admission $1, many different crafters.

Stratford Craft Fair, 9AM-5PM, Town Hall

Wintertide tickets available today for concerts later:
Tickets, 11AM-12noon (or all given away), Confed Mall Food Court, for December 7th Christmas Concert featuring Catherine O'Brien, Don Fraser, Kendal Dockerty, and others.

Music tonight **Note tonight is the CORRECT DAY**, as The Guardian made a mistake and lists it for Sunday
Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble with Guests The Groove Company, 7:30-10PM, Florence Simmons Performance Hall, Weymouth Street, Charlottetown
Admission is $15 adults, $10 students, at the door
Now in its 23rd year, The Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble presents a fun mix of both traditional and contemporary big band music featuring some of PEI’s most accomplished musicians.
Facebook event link

Monday, November 25th:
A Public Meeting to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the All-Party Resolution in the House of Commons to eradicate child poverty in Canada by the year 2000, 1:30PM, Murphy Communtiy Centre, Room 207, Charlottetown
Title: "Good Jobs for All: Fighting pverty with a Job Guarantee"
Question and Answer to follow talk with Guest Speaker: Pavlina Tcherneva, PhD,Associate Professor of the Economics Program, Brad College, and Research Scholar at Levy Economics Institute, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (an advisor to Bernie Sanders during the last Democratic leadership race).
Sponsored by MacKillop Centre for Social Justice
And The PEI Coalition for a Poverty Eradication Strategy
Everybody is welcome -- For further information, call 902-893-9074

Next Saturday, November 30th:
Voluntary Resource Centre Annual Fundraising Breakfast and Volunteer Recognition Awards, 8:30AM, PEI Farm Centre.
Facebook event link
When you see sponsored ads like "What does it take to raise a P.E.I. potato?" complete with lush farm fields and cherubic Island children on family farms, you may only be seeing what marketing companies carefully put together. Here is a little bit about water issues that can develop, from a couple of years ago:

Irrigation boosts potatoes, but Park Rapids pays more for water - MPR News article by Dan Gunderson

Published in 2014 on National Public Radio (U.S.)

Irrigation is essential for growing crops in parts of Minnesota. But in the north central part of the state near this city of 3,700 residents, irrigated farm fields contribute to groundwater pollution and threaten a unique fishery.

That's why what is known as the Straight River watershed, which includes Park Rapids, is one of three groundwater management areas the state Department of Natural Resources will focus on over the next year. As pressure builds on the groundwater available, the state's goal is to bring farmers, businesses, residents and officials together to figure out how to deal with it, possibly even to restrict use in some cases.

Although the effects of irrigation were first talked about years ago because the Straight River, a valued trout stream, was getting damaged, the biggest single impact recently has been the need for the new water treatment plant Park Rapids will bring on line next month.

Park Rapids Area Aquifer

William Lager / MPR News

The city never needed to treat its water before, said public works superintendent Scott Burlingame. It simply pumped clean plentiful water from a shallow aquifer.

"Water rates were cheap, everybody was happy with that," Burlingame said. "So things have changed."

What changed is the level of nitrates in the water. Nitrates come mostly from the nitrogen fertilizer farmers use on irrigated potato and corn crops grown on top of the shallow aquifer.

Nitrate levels in existing city wells, which tap the aquifer about 70 feet below the surface, approach or exceed the safe drinking water standard. Click to view f

That forced the city to drill a well into a deeper aquifer, about 120 feet down. That aquifer is at least somewhat protected from nitrate contamination by a layer of clay above it. Hydrologists hope to map the aquifer in the next few years to better understand how water moves and interacts with the shallow, polluted aquifer.

"There's a lot of water in that well and good quality water," Burlingame said. The new treatment plant will remove iron and manganese from the water. Those naturally occurring metals are not a health risk but can stain sinks, showers or clothing.

Based on national water use averages, a typical family of four would see its annual water bill rise about $130 as a result.


Over the past 25 years, farmers in the Park Rapids area sank dozens of irrigation wells because water and lots of fertilizer turned poor, sandy land into highly productive farmland for potatoes and corn.

Straight River Watershed Management Area map

William Lager / MPR News

DNR groundwater specialist Michele Walker said abundant groundwater only 70 feet below the surface made it easy for farmers to expand.

"Back in 1988 we had about 100 permits," Walker said. "Now we have about 275." The state requires a permit from the DNR for any well pumping more than 10,000 gallons a day or a million gallons per year.

Nearly eight billion gallons of water are pumped from wells in the Straight River watershed each year, 90 percent of it for crop irrigation.

The sandy soils drain quickly. That's good for potatoes because wet soil can cause dise

"The problem is that these soils are very sandy, and if you happen to put your nitrogen out and we get a gully washer, it's going to go somewhere," Walker said.

Walker said in the Straight River watershed, it's likely the nitrogen fertilizer moves down through the soil to the aquifer that in some places is only 40 feet down.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture test wells show nitrate levels two to three times the safe drinking water level. Those wells are tested at the top of the aquifer, closest to the surface where nitrates are most concentrated. But in 2012, the department tested 72 private wells in Hubbard County, wells that typically tap the aquifer farther down, and still found 10 above the safe level.

Elevated nitrates in drinking water are a problem because they can cause blue baby syndrome in infants under 6 months who are bottle fed.

Long-term health effects for older children and healthy adults exposed to elevated levels of nitrate in their drinking water are not yet known or agreed upon in the scientific community. But the National Cancer Institute suggests a link between elevated levels of nitrate in drinking water and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Even before the creation of the DNR's groundwater management area, the state Department of Agriculture has been working with farmers in the Park Rapids area to reduce water and fertilizer use.

Fifty farmers in the area took part in a monitoring and education program last year, said Luke Stuewe, who coordinates the program for the department.

"Sixty-five percent of the growers involved in the program found they could make adjustments to their rate and the majority of those were reductions in rate," Stuewe said. "So they found they could do something differently and ultimately have a lower amount of nitrogen going down on the field."

But nitrates are a leaky nutrient, Stuewe said. That means it moves easily through the soil with water.

"I think even under the absolute best conditions some loss will occur," he said. "It's a necessary nutrient that we need. It's a challenging one though."

One of the biggest players facing that challenge is the R.D. Offutt Company, which grows up to 9,000 acres of potatoes a year in the Park Rapids area.

Those potatoes are turned into french fries at a plant just outside Park Rapids.

The company has made a number of changes in potato production in the past couple of years to reduce its impact on groundwater, said Nick David, lead agronomist for Offutt.

"We have no benefit to putting on more water than the crop needs," he said. "There's no economic benefit to putting on more nitrogen or fungicides or herbicides on a potato crop than it needs."

David says the company uses a slow release fertilizer that reduces leakage to the groundwater. It stopped heavy fertilizer applications at planting time and instead makes several small applications throughout the growing season, sometimes putting nitrogen in the irrigation water.

In some fields, it plants potato varieties that need less nitrogen.

"We like to utilize those in areas that are sensitive, so a good example would be areas around communities, where we have wellheads. So we've been able to cut our nitrogen use by almost half on some of those fields."

Despite those changes, nitrate levels in wells continue to rise. It could take years for changes on the land to improve water quality 70 feet below.


Groundwater quality isn't the only concern in the Straight River Watershed.

Covered with a thick layer of ice and snow now, the Straight River is a favorite trout stream when the weather warms. Trout depend on cold water, and the cold water comes from underground aquifers in this area.

"It's an excellent fishery," said DNR area fisheries supervisor Doug Kingsley. "The quality and size structure of the fish is remarkably unique."

Kingsley said the brown trout that thrive in the Straight River are threatened by rising water temperatures, something that has been happening slowly but steadily for the past 10 years.

Warmer water can't hold as much oxygen so the Straight River is on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's new list of impaired waters for low dissolved oxygen.

It's not clear why the stream is warming, but Kingsley said pumping from irrigation wells can affect water levels.

Over the years the DNR has required careful monitoring of some wells near the river. But the agency has never rejected a well permit application in the watershed.

Wisconsin provides ample examples of what can happen to trout streams in sandy irrigated farmland, Kingsley said.

"They've had instances where one of the popular trout streams in the Stevens Point, Wis., area actually stopped flowing because of a lack of groundwater. Hopefully we learn from those and take a close look at what's going on here."

If groundwater pumping is causing the stream to warm, the DNR might limit how much some farmers can pump near the river. That hasn't happened yet.

But its one of issues to be studied as part of the groundwater management process.

Another issue likely to be raised is the cost of water used for irrigation.

Most Minnesota farmers pay $140 a year for each irrigation well they have, said DNR hydrologist Darrin Hoverson.

"It costs many times more to turn the pivot on for one rotation than it's going to cost for water for the whole season," he said. "There will be discussion about rates. Understanding how we can best determine allowable water uses that are sustainable (is our goal), and cost may be a component of those discussions."
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
― Ruth Reichl (b. 1948), chef and food writer

November 22, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

P.E.I. Legislature sits, 10AM-1PM, Coles Building, all welcome to sit in the Gallery, or watch online:

P.E.I. Youth Parliament sits today and tomorrow, Coles Building, all welcome.

Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Cenotaph, Grafton Street.

Tories don’t need free styling ministers - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019, in The Graphic publications

There is a fine line between bold and bull in a china shop leadership. Steven Myers didn’t just cross that line last week, he straight-arm tackled his own government with an announcement the Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy will create a registry for students whose health was potentially compromised by construction of the renovated Three Oakes High School in Summerside.

In the process Myers has made Premier Dennis King look weak, left tire tracks on the back of Education Minister Brad Trivers who he publicly bulldozed, and reminded Islanders of the petulant member of the opposition rather than the man who has become a strong performer for the new government.

During the TOSH renovation air quality did not always meet recommended guidelines. On one day asbestos levels, a known carcinogen, spiked. Parents have long complained that their children were put at unnecessary risk, although PEI’s Chief Public Health Officer reviewed the data and concluded students were not exposed to significant health risk.

In June Health Minister James Aylward announced creation of a registry to track potentially related health issues if they materialize.

Thursday the opposition quizzed Myers and Trivers over the registry, with Myers taking the opportunity to pat himself on the back: “There was an accelerated construction. It was acknowledged, the fact that something did happen there. As I mentioned, I was the one that uncovered it.”

Myers believed education was creating the registry. Outside the legislature Trivers backtracked. He said the needed information already exists within government as the Public Schools Branch collects enrolment data, Health PEI tracks health issues and if something is found in the future the Chief Public Health Officer can investigate.

This is clearly not what Aylward promised, and Trivers looked less than comfortable in explaining it away. But as a process of government, what Trivers proposed is a plausible path forward.

Friday morning Myers stood in the legislature and proclaimed his department will create a registry based upon the suspect jurisdictional logic that his department controlled the renovation.

Wrong. The transportation minister does not have the right to jump over the Ministers of Health and Education while squeezing the premier into an uncomfortable corner just to deliver what he perceives to be a priority.

If the government believes an independent registry is needed then it should have been Trivers, Aylward or the premier to clarify government’s position.

The Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy has zero oversight of students while in school, let alone their health. It is none of the department’s business, regardless of what issues the minister championed in opposition. It is a plan that sets a dangerous precedent for the transfer of personal information between government departments.

Premier King has carefully cultivated a persona of a government that is inclusive, respectful and collaborative. With a single action, Myers blew a hole in the image of a cohesive team. The optics are terrible and at least partially undo the admirable job he has done resetting public perceptions. Taking one step forward and two steps back is unfortunate because the minister is charged with pushing potentially transformative files, such as following the model of the Danish island of Samos toward energy self-sufficiency, forward.

It will require deft political skill to win the support of fellow cabinet ministers, opposition MLAs, bureaucracy, private sector and ordinary Islanders. In short, it will require a lot of political capital, some of which Myers unnecessarily burned last week. To succeed on big issues, the minister must err on the side of thoughtful, rather than reactionary, decision making.

Steven Myers can be a prominent leader in the King government. But he must recognize that while political free styling may have worked in opposition, in government it only raises questions about the ability of the Tories to govern effectively.

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at
Paul MacNeill accurately calls out Myers, who has spoken of collaboration but still flings elbows....
Much to consider.....

Wind turbine debate continues in Eastern Kings - The Eastern Graphic article by Charlotte MacAulay

Published on Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Though no formal decision has been made on accepting the proposal for a seven turbine extension to the existing Eastern Kings Wind Farm, councillors from the Rural Municipality of Eastern Kings has questioned whether the province is set on the project moving ahead.

“Given the egregious and public interference perpetrated by Transportation Minister Myers in the media last month, I’d like to ask if the turbines have been ordered yet?” Councillor David Stewart asked officials from PEI Energy Corp (PEIEC) at the council meeting last week.

Heather MacLeod, manager of Energy Assets with PEIEC, said the turbines have not been ordered, however due to the nature of the community’s building application process they are close to signing an agreement.

“In order to fulfil the requirements of the building application we were required to give foundation designs and detailed turbine specs so it is no secret we went to RFP’s (request for proposals) for wind turbine procurement in January, but we have been holding off as much as possible.

Councillor Stewart was referring to Minister Myers being quoted in September as saying the province is confident all the steps leading up to putting the project in place will be passed.

Spencer Long, engineering project manager with the corporation said there is other physical work already started in the area despite the fact the community hasn’t yet given the go-ahead.

Mr Long explained there has been some clearing done in the proposed area in anticipation of building access roads and property owners have been approached.

“In some cases it was land owners we could not find - in that case we would build around the property and treat it as a non participating land owner,” Mr Long said.

An environmental assessment submitted last week to the Department of Environment Water and Climate Change is but one piece of the lengthy permit application to the community, said development officer Ron Coffin.

“First things first, the planning and development committee will look at it for completeness,” Mr Coffin said.

In the interim there will be two public meetings, one hosted by the province in reference to the environmental assessment and another hosted by council in December before any decisions are made.

One group, Eastern Kings Community Association (EKCA), isn’t waiting for more public meetings to let their views on the project be known.

The organization is comprised of more than 100 property owners in the community whose mandate it is to ensure a healthy balance between economic growth and environmental protection for the area, said member Fred Cheverie in a presentation to council.

The size and location of the proposed project are the most contentious elements of the proposal, according to Mr Cheverie, who is also coordinator of Souris and Area Branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation.

EKCA takes exception to the fact the proposed site is in the middle of one of the largest blocks of forested land on PEI.

“It is Mother Nature at its peak,” he said of swath of land encompassing East Lake Creek watershed.

The site also butts up against the red triangle, an ecologically sensitive migratory bird site first mapped out in 2006 during the environmental assessment for the 10 turbine wind farm already in existence.

“The situation is with coastal erosion - that red triangle is going to shrink and the wind mills are going to be there forever. As a result the birds won’t have a safe spot to land,” he said.

The height of the proposed wind mills, 175 metres, are equivalent of a 60 storey building and 50 metres taller than the existing 10 turbines in Elmira.

Mr Cheverie said wind turbines do have their place. He points to examples in Saskatchewan and Alberta where two wind farms cover a large unpopulated area with no interference to the natural habitat.

In other business council voted unanimously to support the mayor in her request to split the mayor’s honorarium evenly with Deputy Mayor Danielle Elliott.

Ms Elliott has been shouldering most of the municipal business regarding the PEIEC proposed wind farm due to a conflict of interest of Mayor Cameron who has relatives with property in the proposed development area.

Initially in February the budget for remuneration was set at $4,000. However, a bylaw from 2013 was uncovered in the files which stated the amounts of $500 for councillors and $1,750 for mayor.

Council also voted unanimously to purchase a second computer for the municipal office.

The next scheduled meeting of the municipality is Tuesday, December 10. Council will also host a public meeting regarding the windmill proposal earlier in December.

A public meeting to receive feedback from the Environmental assessment was held Tuesday evening at Eastern Kings Rec Centre. See Graphic coverage on peicanada.
"A surplus of effort could overcome a deficit of confidence."
--- Sonia Sotomayar (1954), Supreme Court Justice

November 21, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM. The Gallery is open or watch here, live.
The afternoon, after Question Period and such, is usually Opposition time, and the supper hour time is regular government business.

Film Screening: First Nations Resist Resource Exploitation and Community Fragmentation, 7PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall, Room 242
Admission by donation.
Resistance and connection with land and water are the themes running through two short films...Water Warriors and Upstream, the Stewards of the Land tell the compelling stories of First Nations as they and their allies protect land and water from oil and gas development in New Brunswick on one side of the country and British Columbia on the other. The films are being presented by the UPEI Environmental Studies Society with Cinema Politica Charlottetown. For more information, find the UPEI Environmental Studies Society and Cinema Politica Charlottetown on Facebook, or contact

Coming up next weekend:
Saturday, November 30th:
Voluntary Resource Council Fundraising Breakfast and Outstanding Volunteer Awards, 8:30AM
, tickets and more information here:
Facebook event link

"A Time for Joy” Christmas Concert, 2PM, West River United Church. Admission $10
Come enjoy a selection of seasonal choral music performed by the Cornwall Community Choir, under the direction of Lisa Stead. Special guests, the Celtic Pulse dancers, will add to the festivities. Angela Walker of CBC Radio Mainstreet will be our MC. The Cornwall Community Choir usually performs for residents of Community Care homes. Public concerts are held only once every two years.
Admission fee is $10 at the door, no charge for children 12 and under. Please enter through the church hall entrance. Following the concert, the audience is invited to enjoy a light lunch hosted by the choir. For further information, contact Nancy at 902-675-3838.
A little bit (already a lot of coverage) on the federal Cabinet appointments, yesterday:

Quebecers get top cabinet spots as environmentalists accuse Trudeau of caving to western pressure - CBC News webpage aticle by Jonathan Monpetit

Pipeline opponent Steven Guilbeault given heritage, not environment, angering Quebec activists

Published on CBC's webpage, here.

Quebecers will occupy some of the most prominent positions in the new Liberal cabinet, including foreign affairs and justice — but environmentalists in the province say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caved to pressure from Western Canada by giving a minor post to one of their key allies.

Environmental activist Steven Guilbeault, who won a downtown Montreal riding last month, was given the heritage portfolio instead of environment.

As head of the environmental lobby group Équiterre, Guilbeault was a vocal opponent of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The Trudeau government bought the pipeline project in 2018 to ensure the expansion continued despite widespread opposition.

Its support for the expansion likely will be a central part of Liberal outreach to Saskatchewan and Alberta, where opposition to Trudeau's environmental policies runs high.

"The first symbolic gesture of this government is to hide an ecologist at heritage because they're afraid of bothering Alberta," said Karel Mayrand, who heads the Quebec section of the David Suzuki Foundation.

"What bothers us is the idea that, in order to appease the West, you can't put competent people in the right positions."

The principle of cabinet solidarity means Guilbeault won't be able to publicly disagree with any of the government's policy decisions — a freedom available to backbenchers, even though it's seldom used.

"It's a cold and odious political move," André Bélisle, who heads the environmental lobby group l'Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique, wrote on his Facebook page.
Who's who in Justin Trudeau's 2019 cabinet

"His candidacy was used to save the Liberal vote in Quebec by playing the green card. It's disappointing, but oil and gas weigh more in the balance for a minority government that wants to hold onto power."

Big Quebec contingent at the cabinet table

While Quebec environmentalists are disappointed, Quebec itself now has a very sizeable presence at the federal cabinet table.

Of the 36 cabinet positions appointed by Trudeau, 10 are held by Quebecers. The province has more seats in cabinet than any other province except Ontario.

Several Quebecers also earned big promotions. Notable among them are François-Philippe Champagne — who takes over at foreign affairs — and Marc Miller, who was given Indigenous services, his first-ever cabinet portfolio.

"Many Quebec MPs find themselves with important responsibilities and that's good news," Premier François Legault said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

Trudeau also restored the cabinet position of "Quebec lieutenant" — a role Montreal MP Pablo Rodriguez will juggle along with his new job as House leader.

In his first term, Trudeau — hoping to avoid the conflicts it created in the past — broke with the long-standing tradition of reserving a cabinet post for Quebec-specific issues.

But the party's mediocre performance in Quebec in the last election may have prompted the prime minister to rethink his opposition to the position.

The Liberals lost five seats in Quebec, going from 40 to 35, while the Bloc Québécois re-emerged as a political force, increasing its seat total from 10 to 32. 

A number of Quebec MPs, including Rodriguez, publicly encouraged Trudeau following the election to consider appointing a minister tasked with selling the government's agenda in the province.

The move to restore the Quebec lieutenant position drew immediate praise from the Quebec government.

"We'll see how it's used, but it's excellent news to hear there will be someone dedicated to Quebec's priorities," Sonia LeBel, Quebec's minister responsible for Canadian relations, said Wednesday.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful that the risk it took to blossom."
---Anais Nin (1903-1977)

November 20, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


The P.E.I.Legislature sits today from 2-5PM. You can watch live here, or attend in person in the Gallery.

Happening today in the Legislature:
The Hillsborough Bridge Active Transportation Lane Petition wil lbe "tabled" -- please note that the timing for this in the order of the day's Proceedings will be after Welcomes (when it is sure to mentioned and guests welcomed publically) and Question Period, so probably around 3PM.

from the Facebook event page for the "Hillsborough Bridge Petition to be Presented to the Legislature":
"Thank you to everyone who signed our petition and who collected signatures in support of the Hillsborough Bridge Active Transportation Lane. We could not have done this without such an incredible outpouring of support from this community. "
The petition will officially be tabled in the legislature tomorrow, Wednesday, November 20 at 2:00 pm. We would love to have as many community members as possible come out and show support for the petition. If you plan on attending, please RSVP to this event. We need to provide an approximate headcount so we can be prepared with overflow space if necessary."
More information at the Facebook event link

Bedford MacDonald Men's Shelter Open House, 4-7PM, 184 Weymouth Street, Charlottetown. Program director Mike Redmond is opening the doors:
"Since May 2019, Bedford MacDonald House has turned into a 24 hour holistic care centre for homeless men on Prince Edward Island. The services provided within the building and the community are changing lives.
We are opening our doors to share with the general public across the Island the success that is the Salvation Army Bedford MacDonald House.
Please join us, and celebrate our achievements, and learn more about our future development strategies."

Fiddler Roy Johnstone on Turlough O'Carolan (Fall Lecture Series), 7:30-9:30PM, Benevolent Irish Society. Admittance is by donation. The amazing Island fiddler will talk and play music related to the amazing Irish fiddler. Facebook event link
The Leap manifesto people have produced a two minute video, reminding people of the power we have to change the situations in our world, by using the systems we have.
YouTube from The Leap

"Let me be a little kinder,
Let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those around me,
Let me praise a little more."
--- Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959), poet

November 19, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

The PEI Legislature sits from 2-5PM, and 7-9PM. You can sit for any part of it in the Gallery, or watch live here.

Some environmental/cultural/social justice events this week:
Lecture by Brenda Whiteway, "Shifting Sands: Capturing Climatic and Cultural Change Through Art", 7PM, SDU Main Building, UPEI. All welcome.
"The Island Lecture Series November lecture features Charlottetown visual artist Brenda Whiteway talking about her most recent undertaking, the White Sands PEI Shoreline Project."

Wednesday, November 20th:
Fiddler Roy Johnstone on Turlough O'Carolan (Fall Lecture Series), 7:30-9:30PM, Benevolent Irish Society. Admittance is by donation.
"One of the most influential composers of Irish music of all time, Turlough O’Carolan was blinded by a bout of smallpox when he was eighteen years of age. As was the tradition, he became a travelling bard who composed music and songs for his patrons.... This talk will look at the range and breadth of his musical compositions and the social conditions that gave rise to his 'profession' as a travelling bard. Roy will support the talk with musical examples (such as Farewell to Music) to illustrate the beauty, depth of passion and originality of O'Carolan’s compositions, and he will place this in the historical context of late 17th and 18th century Ireland."

Thursday, November 21st:
Film Screening: First Nations Resist Resource Exploitation and Community Fragmentation, 7PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall, Room 242
Admission by donation.
Resistance and connection with land and water are the themes running through two short films...Water Warriors and Upstream, the Stewards of the Land tell the compelling stories of First Nations as they and their allies protect land and water from oil and gas development in New Brunswick on one side of the country and British Columbia on the other. The films are being presented by the UPEI Environmental Studies Society with Cinema Politica Charlottetown. For more information, find the UPEI Environmental Studies Society and Cinema Politica Charlottetown on Facebook, or contact
What's going on with the pulp mill in Nova Scotia?

One perspective, from The Star, Monday, November 11th, 2019

Hope, fear characterize final countdown to Boat Harbour closure for Pictou Landing First Nation - The Star article by Taryn Grant

Monday, November 11th, 2019

HALIFAX—After five decades of fighting for Boat Harbour to be decommissioned as a wastewater treatment site and restored to its natural state, the people of Pictou Landing First Nation are closer to achieving their goal than ever before — but the hope and excitement of the final countdown to Jan. 31, 2020 are tempered with uncertainty.

“There’s always the fear of the rug being pulled out from underneath us,” said Michelle Francis-Denny. Denny’s job is predicated on the closure of Boat Harbour. She’s the community liaison between Pictou Landing First Nation (PLFN) and Nova Scotia Lands Inc., the Crown corporation that’s designing a cleanup project for after the closure.

Plans for the project started in earnest after the Liberal government passed legislation in 2015 mandating the Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie, N.S., stop sending its wastewater into the dammed lake.

With $22 million already spent, another $230 million in provincial and federal dollars committed, billions of litres of water and sediment to decontaminate and an estimated timeline of four to seven years, the Boat Harbour remediation project stands to be the most extensive the province has ever undertaken.

Nova Scotia Lands has been consulting with PLFN and the broader Pictou county community, collaborating with researchers from four different universities and seeking approval from environmental regulators in Ottawa.

But some still aren’t convinced the cleanup will happen.

“We’ve been the victims of something that shouldn’t have happened to us to start,” Francis-Denny said in an interview. “So I feel like we’re always on defence.”

Boat Harbour, or A’se’k in Mi’kmaq, was once a tidal estuary that fed into the Northumberland Strait. Francis-Denny only knows about its natural state from elders who have told her it was once a great fishing and gathering ground.

“It was like a grocery store for our community,” she said.It was also a special place to meet with friends or find refuge — both mental and physical.

“The elders talk about it as a place they ran to to hide from the Indian agents when they could come to take children to residential schools,” said Francis-Denny. “I think when our elders talk about A’se’k as it once was, it was very much a prominent part of their lives back then, in all avenues of well being.”

In the mid 1960s the province struck a deal with a new kraft pulp mill, agreeing to take responsibility for treating the mill’s effluent. The government bought the rights to Boat Harbour from the First Nation, built a dam between the wetlands and the ocean and allowed the mill to start treating its wastewater in the resulting lagoon.

Members of the First Nation say they were tricked into believing the lagoon would be kept clean and their cultural practices uninterrupted.

The province is no longer in charge of treating the mill’s effluent, but still holds the rights to the land and leases it to the current owners of the Northern Pulp mill, Paper Excellence. Tens of millions of litres of effluent pour into Boat Harbour daily.

According to Nova Scotia Lands, about 1 billion litres of sludge — contaminated with dozens of chemical compounds and metals including lead and mercury — have accumulated at the bottom of Boat Harbour over the decades. Billions more litres of fresh water have been similarly contaminated.

“It was a deliberate act against a marginalized community,” said Francis-Denny.

To restore Boat Harbour to the tidal estuary it once was, the sludge will need to be dredged up, the water cleaned and the dam removed.

Francis-Denny said there’s been an evolution of thought when it comes to the remediation — five years ago, many in the community thought the province’s commitment was “bulls---,” and “lies.” Now, more folks are participating in consultation sessions with the province, hoping to have their say in the project’s design.

But the remediation depends on the pipes into Boat Harbour being shut off, and rumours have been flying around the First Nation that the mill may be granted an extension — something the mill owners and employees have been lobbying for.

Paper Excellence won’t have an alternative effluent treatment facility ready by Feb. 1, 2020, and without one, it will have to close the Northern Pulp mill. Company executives have said that a temporary closure would be too costly, meaning any closure would be permanent. That could put the mill’s 400 employees out of work and disrupt the province’s entire forestry sector.

Over the past two weeks, PLFN Chief Andrea Paul has posted three videos on Facebook, each with a different tone. On Oct. 28, she noted the mixture of excitement and tension as the countdown dipped below 100 days.

She tried to alleviate fears by telling her community that PLFN leadership hadn’t been negotiating with the mill to endorse an extension.

“We are not looking at extending the Jan. 31, 2020 deadline,” Paul said. One week later, she posted another video, this time expressing her own fear of being blindsided by the government. “I’m really upset,” said Paul, explaining that she’d asked the province whether Premier Stephen McNeil intended to recall the House of Assembly for a last-minute change to the Boat Harbour Act.

According to Paul, the government response referred to a 2018 Supreme Court of Canada decision that absolved federal lawmakers of the duty to consult with Indigenous groups when drafting legislation.

“I need you all to pay attention, and when the house reopens, I want us all to really see what’s happening, and if we have to, we have to be there. We have to present ourselves and make sure that they hear us, that they absolutely cannot change this date.”

The next day, Nov. 5, Paul said she’d “received confirmation that there is no intention of introducing any type of legislation or to call the house in early.”

A spokesperson for the premier’s office said in an email, “I don’t know who may have been in contact with Chief Paul or what she was told,” but there was nothing before the premier that would change the date.

Francis-Denny said the chief’s posts, with their layered emotions, “truly depict the way we (PLFN) feel.”

Ken Swain, Nova Scotia Lands’ project manager for the Boat Harbour cleanup, recognizes the fear and frustration that characterize PLFN’s relationship with Boat Harbour. When it comes to the closure of the facility, all he can do is assume that “the date is the date” — a common refrain of the premier’s that Swain echoed in an interview with Star Halifax.

“Some discussion really centres around the fact that this probably should have never happened, but we can’t turn the clock back 50 years. We are doing our best dealing with the situation we have which faces us today,” said Swain.

Swain is working on an environmental-impact statement that he expects to submit to the federal regulator, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, in January. If the design of the cleanup is approved, he expects it to get underway in early 2021. Swain’s team has estimated a timeline of four to seven years, after which, he said, “the ecology of (Boat Harbour) would be restored naturally.”

Francis-Denny predicted it will be much longer before the First Nation can trust Boat Harbour as a place to eat, socialize or find refuge again. “It’s going to be a very, very long process for us to be able to really embrace really using the space again, I think.”

And here is the link to the 45 minute documentary on The Mill:
"The Mill looks at a dilemma facing rural communities across the world. Where environmental concerns are increasingly weighed against the economic outcomes of resource industries as sustainability is questioned. In Pictou County, Nova Scotia, a decision must be reached dramatically affecting one of these areas. Where do the priorities lie? Will it be with those indigenous to this area, the Pictou Landing First Nation, whose traditional land was once taken over against its will and is now a toxic effluent site? " <snip>
David C. Craig's documentary, The Mill:
"Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher."
--- Oprah Winfrey (b. 1954)

November 18, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Apologies... Using phone so providing text too challenging....
Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 19th:
Island Studies November Lecture, "Shifting Sands: Capturing Climatic and Cultural Change Through Art", 7PM
, SDU Main Building, UPEI. All welcome.
"The Island Lecture Series November lecture features Charlottetown visual artist Brenda Whiteway talking about her most recent undertaking, the White Sands PEI Shoreline Project. Her presentation melds images and words to create..." her presentation.
Ocean garbage article from Dalhousie University about their research:


And from Oceana Canada, a non-profit organization monitoring the health of our waters and their ecosystems, their most recent audit, which got some press last week:​

So we can still be optimistic about these finding... Reduce plastic use, demand fisheries clean up their waste, choose less fish meals and those of sustainably managed varieties....
"Optimism is the only faith that leads to achievement."
--- Helen Keller (1880-1968)

November 17, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Some different events:
Craft Fair at Macphail Homestead, 10AM-3PM, Orwell.
"This is a lovely opportunity to visit the Homestead. Vendors will have their personally made products for sale like preserves, plum pudding art, cards, sewing, books, woollen socks etc. A hot lunch of soup and fresh biscuits will make the visit worth your while! Admission by donation." Facebook event link

PEI Humane Society Pet Pictures with Santa, 12noon-3PM (first come, first served), PEIHS Community Room, 309 Sherwood Road, back entrance by dog park. $30 (cash only), one photo you select digitally sent to you of whatever two- and four-legged creatures you wish in it. 100% of the proceeds support the PEI Humane Society -- Louise Vessey of Vessey Studio generously donates her talent and time. The PEI Humane Society public dog park will be open during this time.
More details at this link

"Christmas in the Barn" craft show, 12noon-4PM, 435 Appin Road, Bonshaw, lots of crafts, preserves and knitted goods, if you are out this way hiking today.
On Maude (honourary chairperson of the Council of Canadians) and water:

Barlow’s teachings of hope amid the global environmental crisis - Council of Canadians' website article

Published on Thursday, November 14th, 2019, on the Council of Canadians' website

Maude Barlow’s new book Whose Water Is it Anyway? Taking Water Protection Into Public Hands is making a big splash. The book was reviewed in the Globe and Mail by Michael Valpy, who stressed that even though we are in a global environmental crisis, Barlow's book is about hope.

Read below for an excerpt from Valpy’s review:

So there is indeed hope, which is one of the two reasons Barlow’s book is worth reading, in conjunction with her frightening statistics. The other reason is because amid all the frustrations and disappointments of the global environmental crisis, Barlow seems to have hit upon a really good idea. Increasingly, she and other eco-activists are saying that mayors and local councils have power and the desire to take action and may well be paying more attention to the wishes of their constituents than more senior levels of government.

Find out more about Council of Canadians’ Honorary Chairperson Maude Barlow’s new book here. If you’re inspired by the Blue Communities Project and want to turn your community into a Blue Community, you can find out how to get involved here.

The Council of Canadians' website has many articles and blogposts on various topics related to environmental and social justice, good reading on cold days :-)

"The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up."
--- Paul Valery (1871-1945), French writer

November 16, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets:
Summerside, 9AM-1PM
Charlottetown, 9AM-2PM

Philips Feed Wild Bird Food November Sale, 8AM-12noon, until November 23rd
, some proceeds to Island Nature Trust, Exhibition Drive, Charlottetown.

How grocery stores could produce less plastic waste - CBC "What on Earth" -- Friday, November 16th, 2019

Many Canadians are frustrated by the overpackaging of food and household necessities at the grocery store, where they are often found in plastic bags, wrap, boxes and trays.

Trying to reduce that packaging is quite complicated, said Brianne Miller, co-founder of the Vancouver zero-waste grocery store Nada. “The way that our food system is designed inherently does have a lot of waste in it.”

The good news is that grocery stores around the world — both small zero-waste shops and larger chains — are finding solutions. Here are a few highlighted by Miller, as well as in a new report by Greenpeace Canada that shows how supermarkets can move beyond single-use plastics and packaging.

Laser-engraved fruit and veggies. Packaging on produce often carries info such as its country of origin or price. Even unwrapped fruits and veggies usually have a plastic sticker with that info. Spanish company Laser Food offers an alternative, using lasers to remove a microscopic layer of skin from the produce and imprint a label (see photo above). This “natural branding” is currently being used by retailers in countries such as Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium.

“Nude food” suppliers. Wholesale foods often arrive at stores already encased in single-use plastic. Miller says her grocery store spends a lot of energy sourcing and talking to suppliers about solutions, such as shipping food in reusable containers. She said retailers have "a huge opportunity to dictate how products come to them," though it hasn’t happened yet with big chains in Canada. In New Zealand, the Foodstuffs supermarket group has launched a project called “food in the nude,” which involves working with suppliers to stop wrapping most fruits and vegetables.

Bag or takeout container rental programs. Many supermarkets charge customers for plastic bags, a way of encouraging them to bring reusables. Greenpeace reports that some supermarkets, such as Carrefour in France and A-Mart in Taiwan, offer bag rentals for a small deposit and launder them after use.

Package-free personal care products. Most of us buy shampoo, soap and detergent in plastic bottles. But refill opportunities are becoming available from St. John’s to London, Ont. to Vancouver. Package-free bars can also replace liquids such as shampoo.

Reusable container programs for food. Some big chains, including Bulk Barn and Metro, have introduced programs allowing customers to refill reusable containers with things like dry goods or meat. Miller said this is “a super-easy, really actionable way” for supermarkets to get started in reducing waste. A system for takeout food containers, called reCIRCLE, operates in grocery stores and restaurants in Switzerland.

Sarah King, Greenpeace's head of oceans and plastics, said that focusing on the reusability of packaging is the key to reducing waste from grocery stores. “If you’re only using it once, you’re creating waste.”

— Emily Chung

"One of the nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."
--- Luciano Pavarotti

November 15, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

P.E.I. Legislature Friday sitting, 10AM-1PM, attend in the Gallery of the Coles Building, or watch live, here.

Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Province House, Grafton Street side, Charlottetown. All welcome.

"We meet weekly, usually in front of Province House (on Grafton St.), to stand in solidarity with international movement, founded by Greta Thunberg to force governments and corporations to do what is necessary to ensure that young people and future generations will have a habitable planet."

NDP Fundraising Dinner with Alison Coffin, leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party, 6-9PM, Rodd Charlottetown. *contact 902-892-1930 or email ASAP if tickets are still available*
"Alison Coffin is a very popular political leader in Newfoundland and Labrador. She is dynamic and charismatic. She will address why a democratic socialist party is needed now more than ever in her home province and across the country. Regarding climate change, Alison says ‘big changes can only happen with strong public policy and legislation". She advocates for a fully funded public Senior home care program as well public universal childcare....The evening is open to all. Excellent opportunity to learn about NDP."
Dinner tickets are $80 which includes a $40 tax receipt.
Available by phoning 902-892-1930 or email

Many Craft Fairs -- here are just a few:

Colonel Gray High School, today, 5:30-9PM and Saturday, 10AM-5PM

Trinity United Chruch, Prince and Richmond, today, 10AM-4PM, Saturday, 9:30AM-2PM

The Mount, Saturday, 10AM-4PM
Ian Petrie really understands the facets of the water issue (and so many other issues), and gives careful, thoughtful opinion on reaching consensus.

Water regulations playing catch-up - The Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie

Originally published in The Island Farmer November 2019
from The Graphic publications, Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

The recent public meetings on proposed regulations for the Water Act asked as many questions as they answered.

Rather than presentations followed by audience comments, there were a series of stations with information posters, and proposed policies. People were given a sheet of blue dots and asked to paste them on agree, disagree, or neutral.

If popularity determines policies then expect the moratorium on new high-capacity wells in agriculture to continue, but there’s a more difficult decision facing Dennis King’s Conservatives - how to regulate the 20 or so irrigation ponds, most constructed over the last couple of years. This will present difficult legal and political choices for government.

I’ve seen irrigation ponds and dugouts on farms from western Canada to the Caribbean, and I’ve always thought they were a useful way to irrigate crops, filling them up during a rainy season, or when the water table is high in the spring, and then drawing them down as needed during the growing season. They’ve clearly garnered a more sinister reputation here over the last two years, that they’re just a way for large well capitalized farming operations to get around the 18 year moratorium on new irrigation wells.

In May of 2017 the former Liberal government tried to prevent this by publishing recommended practices for irrigation ponds: one new low capacity (domestic) well per pond, one well per property, and properties could not be subdivided. These were not enforceable regulations at the time or now, and there are pond owners who ignored them.

Two questions in the public survey on the regulations show the dilemma for the current government (interestingly, these two questions are separated in the survey despite being directly related).

The first asks if multiple low capacity wells operating together should be treated as high capacity wells (currently illegal). Given that the bottom line is how much water is being pumped from a local aquifer, not how many wells are in use, the obvious answer is yes.

The following question is more challenging: “Do you think the existing legally constructed multiple low capacity wells that supply holding ponds should be grandfathered in? They’re legally constructed because a permit hasn’t been needed to drill a low capacity well. It’s only when they’re linked together that this question needs to be asked.

Farmers can spend $200,000 or more to construct a pond. It’s only a useful asset if it has water in it, and some obviously feel a single low capacity well is inadequate. I know some pond owners have purchased adjacent properties in order to drill additional wells (this would meet the recommended practice outlined earlier), and pond owners are allowed to use existing high capacity wells to fill ponds.

I think government should refuse to grandfather in these multiple wells. If the previous Liberal government had said nothing about how these ponds could be filled that would be one thing. However, the “recommended practices” were very clear, and followed up by previous Environment Minister Robert Mitchell in the legislature:

“Any wells that are being drilled in the future will need a permit, but those that are in existence will also need a permit,” Mitchell said. “So as far as skirting any of the laws or policies that will be coming forward, that would not be possible.”

This was a response to questions from the very people who are cabinet ministers now.

I’ve no doubt if the existing 'legal' wells are not grandfathered in, there will be lawsuits or judicial reviews to try to defend them. The fact the government is even asking the question knowing how so many will respond says it’s trying to warn citizens what to expect.

The other quandary is if the answer to the first question is yes, multiple low capacity wells will each be considered high-capacity wells, then what happens to the moratorium if they’re grandfathered in? Does it end?

As I’ve written before I find it hard to justify only preventing farmers from drilling high capacity wells, when everyone else is free to apply, but end the moratorium for the right reasons, not this way. You don’t want to start a new regime of regulations by making an exception on the one issue everyone is paying attention to.

And maybe government should have added one more question to the survey: Should the moratorium only apply to potato growers producing for the french fry market? That wouldn’t be fair or enforceable but gets closer to what so many in the general public really want.

The Water Act and the developing regulations are something we should feel proud of. So many people and organizations worked hard to clearly call for not just rules and regulations, but values that all Islanders can support.

Slowly people are coming to believe we’re blessed with lots of water but that shouldn’t keep us from conserving, and protecting those parts of the province vulnerable to rising oceans, saltwater intrusion, and heavy draws already from existing demand.

We’re moving from decades of saying yes to virtually everything, to requiring permits for all but new household wells, and tangible proof new demand won’t harm existing users. It may not be the strict precautionary principle at work, but it’s closer than we’ve ever been.


And just because beetles are so wonderfully diversified, and you just have to look to find the magic...

Beetles galore on PEI - Scientists find 233 unrecorded species - The Eastern Graphic article by David MacDonald

Published in The Graphic publications on Wednesday, Novvember 13th, 2019

Scientists with the Canadian Forest Service are thrilled after a research project into PEI’s beetle population has, so far, turned up 233 species of beetle never officially recorded in the province.

The newly discovered species means there are now 1,132 known species of beetle in the province. Researchers from the forest service began the study in 2018, setting beetle traps in various places across the Island including two eastern PEI sites, the Valleyfield and New Harmony Demonstration Woodlots. Twelve traps were set up at each site.

Jon Sweeney, research scientist for the federal government agency based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, said the main inspiration for the project was to update information on PEI’s beetle population – the most recent published listing of beetle species was in 2013. He said another reason for the project was to compare different trapping methods on how effective they are at estimating beetle species diversity.

Reggie Webster, a retired entomologist (a scientist who studies insects) who worked on the project, said samples from 2018 were impressive. “We found 218 species not previously recorded for PEI, a 25 per cent increase to what was published,” he said.

The 2019 samples are currently being reviewed, with another 15 additional beetle species added to the list. Mr Webster says it’s an impressive result when one considers the low number of traps used to collect the samples. “It’s a pretty exciting result for such a small study like this,” Mr Webster said.

Mr Webster said there has been a knowledge gap in the past, as there aren’t many researchers on PEI dedicated to beetle populations, and the research that has been done has focused mainly on ground and aquatic species.

“There were studies in the PEI National Park in the 1970s and 1980s so there are lots of records of (that) research, but they never really targeted the forest species,” he said.

While most of the new-to-PEI discoveries are of species that already exist in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, there have been some even more interesting discoveries. While the researchers don’t want to be too specific yet, as samples are still being reviewed and confirmed, they suggest there could be a few major finds.

Mr Webster gave one such example of a member of the sap beetle family that doesn’t appear to be like native sap beetles currently recorded. “It looks more like one in Europe,” he said. “The genus is not known from eastern Canada; it could be something new to Canada, possibly to North America.”

Another example is a type of fungus beetle (one that feeds on various fungi) from Europe that was just recently sighted in Quebec, he said.

A lot of work goes into determining the exact species of beetle found. Mr Sweeney said Mr Webster’s research would include comparing features, such as antennae, as well as body shapes and other measurements from the samples with information from publications and other sources. This can involve looking through data from Canada, the United States and Europe.

“Some species are tricky to separate and for those Reggie will actually dissect the genitalia and mount them on slides for comparison with published images,” Mr Sweeney said.

He said this is important research. “One of the best reasons for improving our knowledge of biodiversity is knowing what species are present at this point in time to allow us to monitor changes in our natural environment in the future, whether that is due to habitat loss, changing climate, or whatever.”

Mr Sweeney said a manuscript is in the works, with plans to submit to a scientific journal such as The Canadian Entomologist. That manuscript may be submitted either next year or the following year, depending on if researchers decide to do another year of field work in 2020.

Islanders who make their living in the forest say they are very intrigued at news of the research.

Gary Schneider, project coordinator with Macphail Woods, said he hadn’t heard about the project but says it’s “great” that researchers are out there looking for new species. “We still have lots to learn about mostly everything,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything unusual, but I don’t actually know my beetles very well.”

Sid Watts, who operates Watts Tree Farm in Kilmuir, wasn’t aware of the project either but said he’s not shocked by the discovery of so many new species. “I’m sure we have lots of things out here ... with international travellers in every direction,” he said, noting the movement of various invasive species such as the Emerald Ash Borer beetle, which devastates ash trees and has recently been spotted in the Bedford, Nova Scotia area. Mr Watts added, however, that he hasn’t noticed anything of concern at his tree farm.


"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
--- Roald Dahl (1960-1990)

And a note that the spring Charlottetown Rural High School musical set for May 2020 is going to be the musical theatre adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda, a creative choice that should be good story-telling and show off talented students musical and acting skills.

November 14, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM. You can attend The Gallery in person or watch live, here.

Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges Committee meeting, 5:10PM, an in camera meeting to work on their report to the Legislature.
Kirsten Connor put into words the concerns many of us have about this announcement.

Climate change centre has implications - The Guardian Opinion Piece by Kirsten Connor

Published on Wednesday, November 13th, 2019, in The Guardian (not online yet)

Kirsten Connor is a Charlottetown, P.E.I. resident.

Honestly, what are we, the people, to think?

We are told, preached to, scolded, threatened, cajoled and taxed on the climate change prospect. A whole industry has sprung up, producing “facts” and proposals on how to approach the looming disaster. We are told to walk, bike, take public transportation, and drive our cars, unless electric, as little as possible. Then, our MP from Midgell brings “the bacon” home in the form of The Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation to be located in the metropolis of St. Peters. Not to be located on already federally owned and vacant land, but more agricultural land on this small island is to fall to “development” in the name of all things – climate change.

We are told there will be 40 to 60 students living in the complex and that it will become the attention of the world with visitors from far and wide – flying in, no doubt, on the wings of angels, so not to cause climate change.

The village of St. Peters is 53 km away from the Mother ship – The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) – and the students attending the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation will rack up CO2 for 106 km round trip if they are to participate in other educational and social (activities) university life offers on the Charlottetown campus. Will faculty and support staff be commuting daily? No doubt there will be public transportation to offset some travel (the taxpayers have deep pockets), but usage of that will depend on schedules and preferences for freedom of going and coming at will.

An invitation to a public lecture on Nov. 7th by Dr. Francisco Dallmeier, a person of high renown, appeared in the Guardian Nov. 5. sponsored by the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation. This sounded like a very interesting opportunity, except that every guest would have hauled themselves 53 km to a hall in St. Peters and 53 km back again in the dark, in the process causing CO2 emissions. It seems a missed opportunity to get Dr. Dallmeier the full audience his expertise and travel here deserved – St. Peters versus UPEI. A larger crowd would reduce his CO2 travel emission average per attendee, if we were to calculate it in climate change terms.

No doubt, the MP from Midgell, the good people of UPEI and the eager provincial politicians felt this whole centre was a marvelous idea, and taxpayers can be thankful, if they are even half right. But the impracticality and hypocrisy of it all, in the face of what is being asked of sacrifices from Canadians to endure; for example, keep your houses cool (taxes on oil will simply force us to), don’t drive if you can help it (walk to work, if it takes a day), etc., is simply insulting,

To have any credibility, the establishment, operation/cost and location of this centre should be based on true environmental credentials and cost effectiveness, and not political expediency.

We, the people, need to see naked transparency, consistency, intelligence, and scrupulous honesty, not various political games, if we are all to pull together to get solutions.

I went to the Women's Network fundraising concert last night, emceed by Irish Mythem. In the Legislature earlier in the afternoon, Premier Dennis King mentioned he was going and joked about the likely barbs Irish would send his way. He was sitting in the row behind me, enjoying the show, but left at intermission. Irish started to make a joke about him during the second half. but asked if he were there, and told he has left, so she laughed and moved along.

This is too bad, since the second part of the very full and amazing event was capped off by performers Tara MacLean and Catherine MacLellan, singing together "officially" for the first time they said, the most ephemeral, achingly beautiful version of "Snowbird", by Gene MacLellan, that I have ever heard.
And song is language, too.

"We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives."
-- Toni Morrison

November 13, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Standing Committee meetings today -- but both are NOT open to the public, as they work on their respective reports to the Legislative Assembly "in camera" or out of sight.

Public Accounts committee, 9AM, Coles Building.

Special Committee on Poverty in PEI, 11AM.

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM, Coles Building. Sit in the Gallery or Watch Live, here.
Federal Government considerations, from FairVote Canada:

Call on the Liberals, NDP and Greens to form a cooperative government! - FairVote Canada

These election results present an incredible, historic opportunity for the Liberals, NDP and Greens to work together to meet the challenges of our times.

We need a cooperative, stable government.
We need parties committed to collaboration on the priorities important to Canadians - fighting climate change, improving affordability, a strong economy, and so many others.
We need a National Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform - so we can finally move beyond the divisive politics of first-past-the-post.

The next few days while the parties decide what to do are critical.
That’s why it’s so important that we demonstrate public support for cooperative government now.
Link to petition calling on cooperative government, from FairVote Canada

from FairVote Canada
"Be a lamp unto yourself."
---The Buddha

November 12, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Grand Opening of the Rural Women's Business Centre, Bebeque, 10:30AM-1PM, Wm Callbeck Centre, 106 Linkletter Avenue, Central Bedeque. All welcome to tour the new space, with remarks by the Lt. Governor and others. Registration is requested, details here.

Opening of the Fall Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature, 2PM, Coles Building. Attend in person or watch live, here.

Rally for Electric Busses, outside City Hall before Council meeting, 4:30-5PM, Queen at Kent Streets.
"Climate Emergency Rally:
We will be asking City Council to reject the purchase of new diesel buses, in favour of the original proposal to purchase electric buses (e-buses), as they prepare to hold their regular City Council meeting at 5 pm."
More details here at Facebook event link

Legislative Assembly ("House") Sitting Times:

Tuesdays: 2-5PM, 7-9PM
Wednesdays: 2-5PM
Thursdays: 2-5PM, 7-9PM
Fridays: 10AM-1PM

The excellent P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website has been spiffed up recently, with the useful and comprehensive information given a new style.

adapted from:

The daily proceedings of the Legislative Assembly follow rules of procedure and a specified order of business.

Rules and Daily Routine

The Rules of the Legislative Assembly provide guidance and rules of practice and procedure for members as they perform their elected duties. The Rules outline how debate should be structured, how documents can be presented, and how meetings should be conducted.

Parliamentary Calendar

According to the Rules of the Legislative Assembly, PEI's legislature sits twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Sometimes this changes in special circumstances, such as following an election or if an urgent issue arises. The parliamentary calendar provides a general rule for when in the spring and the fall the two legislative sittings will happen:

  • in the spring, the House opens during the first week of April.

  • in the fall, the House opens on the first sitting day following Remembrance Day (the House sits Tuesday-Friday).

On sitting days, the Assembly follows the Ordinary Daily Routine and Order of Business, which are summarized below. The official version can be found in Chapter 8 of the Rules of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.

Speaker's Procession

Each daily sitting begins with the Speaker's Procession. The Sergeant-at-Arms carries the Mace into the chamber, followed by the Speaker, the Clerks, and the Pages. Once they are inside, the door to the chamber are closed and the daily business begins. The first two items in the routine are carried out in private, then the Speaker asks the Sergeant-at-Arms to ring the bell and allow the public into the chamber to watch the rest of the proceedings.

Ordinary Daily Routine

(Behind closed doors)

  •  Prayers

  •  Consideration of the daily journal for the penultimate (next to the last) sitting day

(With Doors Opened)  (Or the video switched on)

  • Matters of privilege and recognition of guests

  • Statements by members

  • Questions by members, starting with ministerial responses to questions taken as notice  (a.k.a. QUESTION PERIOD)

  • Statements by ministers

  • Presenting and receiving petitions

  • Tabling of documents, including responses to written questions

  • Reports by committees

  • Introduction of government bills  (you can find the text of the Bills and Motions here)


Order of Business

Following the Ordinary Daily Routine, there is Government-directed (usually main party) business, on:

Tuesday afternoons,
Thursday evenings, and

  • Government motions

  • Orders of the day (government)


Following the Ordinary Daily Routine, there is Opposition party determined schedule on:

Tuesday evenings and
Thursday afternoons:

Motions other than government  (that is to say, the Official Opposition and Office of the Third Party proportion this time)

  • Orders other than government

  • Government motions

  • Orders of the day (government)


A bit of a warm-up from CBC News, though they didn't mention all the House Leaders by name:

Party House Leaders:
Government:  Sidney MacEwen, MLA District 7: Morell:Donagh
Official Oppositon (Green):  Hannah Bell, MLA District 11: Charlottetown-Belvedere
Third Party (Liberals): Heath MacDonald, District 16: Cornwall-Meadowbank

Adapted from:

Why House leaders have been meeting regularly ahead of fall sitting of P.E.I. Legislature - CBC News online article

Published on Monday, November 11th, 2019

The fall sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature is set to open Tuesday.   The last session came to a close in July. In an April election, the Progressive Conservatives won a minority government with 12 seats and the Green Party formed the Opposition with eight seats. The Liberals won six seats. 

Since then, party house leaders have been meeting regularly with the aim of making sure government functions, with the promise of collaboration.  "In the spring session it was all very new for everybody and it's a learning curve. We're in a brand new minority situation so we're trying to figure things out. Both in government and Opposition," said Government House Leader Sidney MacEwen.

The Progressive Conservative MLA expects a busy fall session with a lot of behind-the-scenes work being done before it starts.  "We're sharing all our legislation up front and there's a whole new consultative piece where there's a consultative draft that goes to the opposition parties, they have a chance to have input, they can have full briefings if they want," MacEwen said. 

This allows for any amendments to the legislation to be made before it is officially tabled, which helps to cut down significantly on debate time in the House, he said. 

Collaborative work with the Liberal's Heath MacDonald has been going well, MacEwen added.  "Heath brings a great perspective. We're going into the capital budget and he's a former finance minister, so he knows the routine," he said. "The big thing for us is to be in constant communication and updating each other. As long as everybody's not trying to desperately get credit for everything, what happens is: Islanders benefit because we're getting better legislation and you're going to see a better debate in the legislature," MacEwen said. 


"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being."  
     --- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832), German writer

November 11, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Remembrance Day Events, usually at 11AM, various locations.

Tuesday, November 12th:
Pro Electric-Bus Rally outside Charlottetown City Hall, 4:30-5PM
, corner of Queen and Kent Streets, before the Council meeting. Additional details at this
Facebook event link
Opinion piece, from two years ago, by the late Josh Underhay:

JOSH UNDERHAY: Never again. Never forget - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Josh Underhay

Published on Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

“I come away from this with a renewed determination to work towards peace.”


I have to be completely honest.

After the Remembrance Day ceremony today in Ottawa, I came up to the War Monument and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and lay my poppy on the tomb.

On the side of the monument are the dates of the major wars in which Canada has taken part, including the war in Afghanistan as recently as 2014.

Remembrance Day means many things to different people. Some folks still actively serve, some know a friend or family member who served, and some even know someone who died. Emotions and discussion around it can be varied.

But I have to be honest. Here is how it affected me.

As I stood before the tomb, covered with poppies, replete with pageantry, surrounded by Instagrammers, photographers, but also veterans, and all sorts of people, I could only picture one thing.

Some poor soul dying alone in the dirt.

The reality of the dark side of all this is that this soldier, this civilian, died with no glory. Deaths from war happen far from parades, from flags flying, and from politician’s speeches. It happens around the world from the offices in which the decisions are made.

I walked away from the monument and I felt overcome with emotion. Normally I'm a pretty chill person. Today I was overcome with rage at the injustice that allows young men and women to be butchered in the same of politics, of racism, of 'good intentions'.

For me, Remembrance Day is far from the glory of war.

It is a funeral.

The act of remembrance is an act of acknowledging the horror of senseless death. Our men and women who serve and have served deserve the best. They deserve the best of support after they come home having served, many with PTSD, injured, maimed, if they come home at all. Civilians around the world deserve peace and the dignity of life. We all deserve a peaceful world.

I come away from this with a renewed determination to work towards peace. I will denounce the voices that call for conflict, who call for division and difference to be solved through bullets and blood. I support our military, the men and women who serve, and think they deserve not to be used as pawns by those with dark agendas.

I support civilians everywhere who fear the sound of jets overhead, of bombs, and who themselves seek refuge of conflict, repercussions of which come back to decisions we make in wealth and privilege, and at the ballot box.

I will remember those who died. I will remember those who called for their deaths.

Never forget. Never again.
Happy retirement, Beth!

Recently retired Charlottetown forest officer talks about her career highlights - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Beth Hoar said the street tree inventory and tree protection bylaw are two of the highlights of her career

Published on Friday, November 8th, 2019

Beth Hoar has had a passion for nature ever since she can remember. She describes herself as a tree lover and someone who has a keen interest in invasive and native species.

Hoar was able to put her passion to good use in her job with the City of Charlottetown. She started out in 2006 as the parkland conservationist before her title was changed to forest and environmental officer.

“I think we’ve come a long way with the (city’s) forestry program and the forest management program, and I was happy with that,’’ said Hoar said when asked to sum up her years with the capital city corporation, following her retirement last week.

Thanks to interdepartmental work and partnerships with organizations such as Tree Canada, Hoar said the city has made great strides in protecting what it has, repairing the damage of past storms and building for the future.

Hoar said a lot of people don’t realize how much work the city has put into reforestation efforts. Since 2012, more than 26,800 trees have been planted. That’s everything from one-foot-tall trees to larger 18-footers. In addition, there has been a significant effort to plant trees out at the city’s new Miltonvale wellfield site
There have also been major challenges to Hoar’s department, such as Dutch elm disease that struck in 2015, forcing the city to cut down more than 400 of its elm trees. The city now has a monitoring project to keep an eye out for the emerald ash borer, which has been found in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Once introduced into an area, the beetle will kill off between 97 and 100 per cent of the ash trees.

Following the 2015 issue with Dutch elm, Hoar said the city launched a street tree inventory.

“That was really a big step for us, to get all of our street trees in an inventory,’’ said Hoar, adding that they’ve also started working on a woodland inventory and, this past summer, had some biology students in to start working on a parkland tree inventory. “Those are really great projects.’’

She also helped lead the effort to completely re-write the city’s tree protection bylaw, which council passed in May. The old bylaw was essentially a maintenance bylaw.

“What it is really focused on is tree retention. We want to protect the city trees. We (also) have some heritage tree protection in there that is for trees that are over 100 centimetres (in diameter). There are some components in there that are for construction sites and protect city trees as well as our street trees and park trees. It’s really about retaining our trees and protecting our urban forest canopy.’’

Hoar said there has also been an ambitious reforestation program that has been going on in Victoria Park since she started with the city. This program led to the development of a nature education campaign called Passport to Nature. More than 1,500 school children have taken part to date.

Tree Canada has also supplied funding to help the city create a couple of edible orchards, one at Desbrisay Community Gardens and one at Windsor Park, that offer the public a little bit of local food.

Hoar said she can’t take all of the credit for any of it. All of it was made possible by city management allowing her the room to work and for co-operation from numerous department managers, especially Ramona Doyle, the city’s sustainability officer.

Doyle said Hoar brought passion to her work, describing her as authentic and someone who genuinely wanted to champion things that would preserve and protect the natural environment and make the city better.

“Beth taught me lots of things during our time working together, she had an amazing amount of technical knowledge, but she had really strong human skills, too,'' Doyle said. "She was able to communicate what she knew to anyone and inspire them to also feel passionate about preserving nature.”

Hoar said she leaves with a big smile. “It’s been a great ride. I’ve had some really big challenges, but it’s been really rewarding.’’

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
--- Ian MacLaren

November 10, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events coming up after the Remembrance Day holiday:

Tuesday, November 12th:
Opening of the P.E.I. Legislature for the Fall Sitting, 2PM, Coles Building. All welcome.

Pro E-Bus Rally outside Charlottetown City Hall, 4:30-5PM, corner of Queen and Kent Streets.
Facebook event link
details on the bus issue, below
More on the bus decision, courtesy of the Event link:

Climate Emergency Rally to call on City Council to reject diesel buses, in favour of a proposal to purchase electric buses (e-buses)

Organized by Charlottetown Area Climate Action Group
We invite everyone to join us!

In spite of declarations of a Climate Emergency, Charlottetown City Council voted Oct 28 to reject a proposal to purchase electric buses (e-buses), in favour of diesel buses. A climate emergency demands immediate action, and we are asking Charlottetown City Council to reverse its decision.
The city is about to contribute to the manufacture of new diesel buses to use for 12 or more years, contrary to the IPCC's warning that by 2030 we will have had to achieve a 45% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs). Diesel exhaust also causes health issues and is a particularly problematic atmospheric pollutant.

E-bus technology is in use worldwide and is well-proven. Many Canadian cities are incorporating e-buses and Charlottetown should do the same. See

Background info:
Capital Area Transit Committee (CATCC, the overseeing board of the tri-municipal T3 transit system) recommended buying new diesel buses, and waiting until at least 2022 to consider e-buses (with 40% federal and 33% provincial subsidies for either choice provided through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Fund – Public Transit Stream).
The main reasons given to us for this reversal away from e-buses were: an immediate need to acquire buses to meet growing demand, and municipal budget constraints. But there was no mention of how many years the spending could be spread out in municipal capital budgets when purchasing e-buses, nor whether purchase of used diesel buses was considered as an interim measure until e-buses are delivered 2 years after order.

Charlottetown Council passed a Declaration of Climate Emergency on April 8 2019. Declaring a climate emergency means that there should be no more investing in fossil fueled solutions.

From a few weeks ago, but very much worth reading. There is room for much improvement in the Municipal Government Act, though, I feel.

Mandate letters hint at big dreams - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019, in The Graphic publications

Almost six months after provincial PCs won the keys to a narrow minority government, Premier Dennis King finally penned mandate letters for each of his ministers, giving the public, Opposition and public service a long overdue inkling into the priorities that will drive the government forward.

Mandate letters are traditionally released within days of a new government being sworn in. The significant delay here speaks to the difference between campaign rhetoric and governing rather than an attempt to hide priorities from the public.

After 12 years in opposition and leadership campaign followed quickly by a provincial election (where the Tory platform was written on the back of napkin) the PC priority on Day 1 was survival. Delay has allowed the premier, senior staff and ministers to get their feet wet as they figure out what the real priorities are and what can realistically be achieved.

The minority government offers a clear opportunity for transformational change on files such as alternative energy as political stars align with public expectations. Climate change and energy supply is top of mind with the public. Politically, timing could not be better. A Red Tory Premier, working with a Green opposition and amenable Third Party provides a rare window of opportunity.

While PEI has made great strides in developing wind energy, it has caused significant friction at the community level because those that host turbines receive very little of the revenue generated. It is a top down approach that is broken.

Steven Myers, who is quickly establishing himself as among the strongest members of cabinet, is handed a wide runway to move beyond the Provincial Energy Strategy with “innovation-driven programs and services for the future of P.E.I.’s energy.”

This could mean different energy sources and different business models that put the community at the fore. (Chris note: This is not how Eastern Kings Community Association feels -- see their website and recent video here:

Those expecting the premier to stride into office, tear up the Municipal Government Act and undo creation of Three Rivers will be disappointed. Jamie Fox’s letter puts greater emphasis on fisheries responsibilities than community. He is charged with transferring St. Peter’s successful community hub model (made necessary after closure of the local school) to other areas of the province.

He is also tasked with supporting communities to navigate the new MGA and “identifying areas that need review.” This is as timid a statement as one can imagine from Tories who in opposition used fear mongering, misinformation and political opportunism to drive opposition in unincorporated areas of the province. This new found political pragmatism reflects the reality that the act was never as bad as Tories made it out to be.

Tories railed against the education system for years in opposition. Now it falls to Brad Trivers to put substance to the Tory agenda. There’s a promise to implement universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds, although no one has offered a cognizant argument why this is a top priority given the weighty cracks that need fixing first.

It may be poor syntax or an as yet unknown plan to create partially elected school boards. Trivers’ mandate letter states government will replace schools boards, fired by the previous Liberal government, with boards “that have elected representatives.”

Sounds like a recipe for hybrid governance, which is not what Tories promised.

Of course mandate letters are not binding. Some priorities will be fulfilled. Some will be partially completed. And some will be ignored. It really depends on political will and timing. But they do build an anticipated roadmap that government can now be held accountable to.

And that makes them all worth reading. You can find them here:

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

"What I like most about change is that it's a synonym for 'hope.' If you are taking a risk,what you are really saying is 'I believe in tomorrow and I will be a part of it.' "
--- Linda Ellerbee (b. 1944), broadcaster

November 9, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

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

Fall Wild Bird Food Sale, Philips Feed, Exhibition Drive, Charlottetown, until Saturday, November 23rd, open weekdays, and Saturdays (8AM-12noon)

Disco Soup, 3-6PM, West Royalty Community Centre, off Lower Malpeque Road, Charlottetown "...Help prepare the soup with ingredients that would otherwise become waste, learn how to reduce food waste and end the night with FREE soup. Chef Tery Nabuurs, Owner of the Wheelhouse in Georgetown, will be on hand to assist with food preparation.
Bring reusable containers so you can bring some soup home with you!
This family friendly event was developed in partnership with Fusion Charlottetown, P.E.I. Food Exchange and Charlottetown’s Food Council."
Participants are encouraged to bring a paring knife, perhaps an apron, containers to each from and as mentioned above, to take some soup home in.
Facebook event link
Article, on an astonishing, people-driven event:

Fall of Berlin Wall: How 1989 reshaped the modern world - BBC News online article

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

World events often move fast, but it is hard to match the pace and power of change in 1989. It culminated in one of the most famous scenes in recent history - the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The wall came down partly because of a bureaucratic accident but it fell amid a wave of revolutions that left the Soviet-led communist bloc teetering on the brink of collapse and helped define a new world order.

How did the Wall come down?

It was on 9 November 1989, five days after half a million people gathered in East Berlin in a mass protest, that the Berlin Wall dividing communist East Germany from West Germany crumbled.

East German leaders had tried to calm mounting protests by loosening the borders, making travel easier for East Germans. They had not intended to open the border up completely.

The changes were meant to be fairly minor - but the way they were delivered had major consequences.

Notes about the new rules were handed to a spokesman, Günter Schabowski - who had no time to read them before his regular press conference. When he read the note aloud for the first time, reporters were stunned.

"Private travel outside the country can now be applied for without prerequisites," he said. Surprised journalists clamoured for more details.

Shuffling through his notes, Mr Schabowski said that as far as he was aware, it was effective immediately.

In fact it had been planned to start the next day, with details on applying for a visa.

But the news was all over television - and East Germans flocked to the border in huge numbers.

Harald Jäger, a border guard in charge that evening, told Der Spiegel in 2009 that he had watched the press conference in confusion - and then watched the crowd arrive.

Mr Jäger frantically called his superiors, but they gave no orders either to open the gate - or to open fire to stop the crowd. With only a handful of guards facing hundreds of angry citizens, force would have been of little use.

"People could have been injured or killed even without shots being fired, in scuffles, or if there had been panic among the thousands gathered at the border crossing," he told Der Spiegel.

"That's why I gave my people the order: Open the barrier!"

Thousands flowed through, celebrating and crying, in scenes beamed around the world. Many climbed the wall at Berlin's Brandenburg gate, chipping away at the wall itself with hammers and pickaxes.

A turbulent year had reached a climax.

Why did the Wall come down?

After World War Two, Europe was carved up by the Soviet Union and its former Western allies, and the Soviets gradually erected an "Iron Curtain" splitting the East from the West.

By the 1980s, the Soviet Union faced acute economic problems and major food shortages, and when a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station in Ukraine exploded in April 1986, it was a symbolic moment in the impending collapse of the communist bloc.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the comparatively young Soviet leader who took power in 1985, introduced a reform policy of "glasnost" (openness) and "perestroika" (restructuring).

But events moved far faster than he could have foreseen.

Revolutionary wave

Reform movements were already stirring in the communist bloc. Years of activism and strikes in Poland culminated in its ruling communist party voting to legalise the banned Solidarity trade union.

By February 1989, Solidarity was in talks with the government, and partially free elections in the summer saw it capture seats in parliament. Though the Communists retained a quota of seats, Solidarity swept the board wherever it was allowed to stand.

Defeated Germany was divided up by the occupying powers - the US, UK, France and the USSR - with the eastern part occupied by the Soviets. East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republic, became the Soviet Union's foothold in Western Europe.

But Berlin was split four ways, with British, French and American zones in the west of the city and a Soviet zone in the east. West Berlin became an island surrounded by communist East Germany.

The wall was eventually built in 1961 because East Berlin was haemorrhaging people to the West.

Hungarians, too, launched mass demonstrations for democracy in March. In May, 150 miles (240km) of barbed wire were dismantled along the border with Austria - the first chink in the Iron Curtain. Hungary's 1956 revolution was brutally suppressed by the Soviets, but this was succeeding.

By August, the revolutionary wave had truly re-ignited on the fringes. Two million people across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - then part of the Soviet Union - held one of the most memorable demonstrations of the so-called Singing Revolution when they formed a 370-mile (600km) human chain across the

Baltic republics calling for independence.

In the heat of August, Hungary opened it borders to Austria in the west, allowing East German refugees an escape.

The Iron Curtain was buckling.

Czechoslovakia, whose push for liberalising reform had been brutally suppressed in 1968, provided another means of escape. East Germans could travel to the neighbouring socialist nation without restriction, and began to flood the West German embassy there by the hundreds, eventually being evacuated to the West by train. East Germany ended up closing its border with Czechoslovakia in October to stem the tide.

But by then the revolution had spread to East Germany itself.

East Germany rebels

It began with demonstrators rallying for freedom in the centre of the city of Leipzig.

On 9 October, within days of East Germany celebrating its 40th anniversary, 70,000 people took to the streets.

There were calls for free elections from West Germany, and talk of reform from East Germany's new communist leader Egon Krenz. No-one knew the fall of the Wall was weeks away.

In late October parliament in Hungary, which had been among the first to hold mass demonstrations, adopted legislation providing for direct presidential elections and multi-party parliamentary elections.

And then on 31 October, the numbers demanding democracy in East Germany swelled to half a million. Mr Krenz flew to Moscow for meetings - he recently told the BBC that he had been assured German reunification was not on the agenda.

On 4 November, a month after the East German protests had begun, around half a million people gathered in Alexanderplatz in the heart of East Berlin.

Three days later, the government resigned. But there was no intention to give way to democracy and Egon Krenz remained head of the Communist Party and the country's de facto leader.

He would not be there long. Five days later, Mr Schabowski gave his world-changing press conference.

Why didn't the Soviets use force?

Earlier in '89, Beijing demonstrators in Tiananmen Square who had called for democracy in China were crushed in a major military crackdown.

The USSR had used its military to put down rebellions before. So why not now?

Within the Soviet Union itself, it did, killing 21 pro-independence protesters in the Soviet republic of Georgia. But elsewhere in the communist bloc, they did not.

In a break with Soviet policy, Mikhail Gorbachev decided against using the threat of military might to quell mass demonstrations and political revolution in neighbouring countries.

"We now have the Frank Sinatra doctrine," foreign ministry spokesman Gennady Gerasimov told US television. "He has a song, `I (Did) It My Way.' So every country decides on its own which road to take."

A new chapter in European history

On 3 December, Mr Gorbachev and US President George HW Bush sat side by side in Malta, and released a statement saying the Cold War between the two powers was coming to a close.

The 1989 wave of revolutions was not over yet.

Student demonstrators in Prague clashed with police, triggering the Velvet Revolution which overthrew Czechoslovak communism within weeks.

In Romania, demonstrations ended in violence and saw the fall of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. A new government took over as the ousted leader fled his palace and angry crowds stormed it.

He and his wife Elena were captured and executed on Christmas Day. More than 1,000 people were killed in unrest before and after the revolution, setting Romania apart from the largely bloodless events elsewhere.

Postscript to 1989

And the Soviet Union itself?

In 1990, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia took advantage of their new-found political freedoms to vote out their communist governments and make moves towards independence. The Soviet Union was falling apart, but Mr Gorbachev made one last ill-fated attempt to reform it by calling together the leaders of the 15 Soviet republics.

Hardline communists opposed to his reforms pre-empted him, attempting a coup while he was on holiday in Crimea in August 1991 and putting him under house arrest.

The coup was defeated in three days as pro-democracy forces rallied round Boris Yeltsin, president of the Russian republic.

But it was the death knell for the USSR, and one by one its constituent republics declared independence. By the end of the year the Soviet flag had flown for the last time.
"Many small people, who in many small places do many small things, can alter the face of the world."
--- East Side Gallery, Berlin, 1990 Quote

November 8, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Events today:
Special Legislative Committee on Poverty in PEI, 11AM, Coles Building. Attend in person or Watch the meeting Live Here.
Topic: Briefings on poverty
The committee will receive briefing from Mr. Harvey Stevens, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Dr. Wayne Simpson, Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba. The presenters will appear via Skype.
Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, front of Province House on Grafton Streets.
Last day for public comment on the set of Water Act regulations related to Water Extraction guidelines.
Provincial Water Act info page
Provincial page: Written comments -- review others and submit yours

While there has been public consultation at this stage as with the others., and the regulations will allow some controls on extraction, there are concerns. A lot of it has to do with what seems to be preconceived ideas -- just permeated throughout the government's specially created "On the Level" website -- that there is plenty of water, and not looking at quality issues or really allowing for the uncertainty of climate change.

Here is a link to the "On the Level" website

Here is the link to a posting on some of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water's concerns:

It is possible with the holiday weekend that the website will be open until Monday, November 11th, but the Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change is still saying today is the deadline.
Saturday, November 9th:
NDP PEI Convention, Registration 9AM and at 12noon, Meeting 9:30AM-4PM. Credit Union Place, Summerside.

from the media release:
Island New Democrats are taking advantage of the positive spirit that their Federal Leader, Jagmeet Singh brought to the Federal Election.
The New Democratic Party of Prince Edward Island’s Annual General Meeting is scheduled for Saturday November 9, 2019 at the Veteran’s Convention Centre, Credit Union Place, Summerside, PEI.
Leah-Jane Hayward, Party President states “There’s a refreshing new group of inspired Islanders vying for positions on our Provincial Council. The NDP offers a voice of fairness that is attracting environmental socialists interested in building a future for Islanders of every class.”
Only members in good standing will have voting rights relative to the business of the day. Memberships can be renewed online at or during registration.
Registration 9am and 12pm.
Registration fee-$20, Low Income $5. Pizza lunch included in fee.
For more information contact or call 902 892-1930 or visit


P.E.I. government settles with PNP 'whistleblowers' - CBC Online article by Shane Ross

Published on Thursday, November 7th, 2019

3 women were suing province for breach of privacy 

The government of P.E.I. says it has reached a settlement with three women who were suing the province in what became known as the "whistleblower" case.

Susan Holmes, Cora Plourd Nicholson and Svetlana Tenetko, were seeking $1.8 million in damages for breach of privacy. Terms of settlement remain confidential, the government said in a news release Thursday night.

The three women, who had all worked for the provincial government, made national headlines in September 2011 with allegations of bribery and fraud within P.E.I.'s provincial nominee program.

Later the same day, the Liberal Party of P.E.I. issued a media release, without the women's consent, that included personal information about them, including work histories, details about a human rights complaint and personal emails.

A report from P.E.I.'s privacy commissioner released in December 2017 concluded government was either directly or indirectly responsible for a privacy breach where personal information about the three women was leaked to the P.E.I. Liberal Party during the 2011 election campaign.

Whistleblower legislation

In the news release Thursday announcing the resolution, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said the women are to be recognized as the "motivation and driving force behind the whistleblower legislation government will work to finalize and proclaim this fall session."

"These three women have demonstrated to government that the complaint reporting process in the workplace requires improvement and built-in protection so that a member of the public service can report concerns without fear of retaliation," he said.
"I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders."
---Jewish proverb

November 7, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability meeting, 1:30PM, Coles Building. Attend in person or Watch Live here

Topic: Climate Change Adaptation

"The committee will meet to receive a briefing on climate change adaptation from Hon. Brad Trivers, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change; Brad Colwill, Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change; and Todd Dupuis, Executive Director of Climate Change and Environment."

Friday, November 8th:
Deadline for Public Comments on the Water Act regulations set. Website
Please note the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water has asked that this deadline be extended but have not heard back yet.

Tuesday, November 12th:
P.E.I. Legislature Fall Sitting begins, 2PM, Coles Building
News from Election Day results in the United States:

Ranked-choice voting adopted in New York City, along with other ballot measures - Politico article by Erin Durkin

Published in Politico on Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

New York City will move to a system of ranked-choice voting, shaking up the way its elections are run after voters approved a ballot question to make the change.

The city will be by far the biggest place in the U.S. to put the new way of voting to the test, tripling the number of people around the country who use it.

A ballot question proposing the shift for New York primaries and special elections was approved Tuesday by a margin of nearly 3-1.

It’s now set to be in effect for New York’s elections for mayor, City Council and other offices in 2021.

Under the system, voters will rank up to five candidates in order of preference, instead of casting a ballot for just one.

If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the last place candidate is eliminated and their votes are parceled out to the voter’s second choice, a computerized process that continues until one candidate has a majority and is declared the winner.

Ranked-choice voting is now in use or approved in 18 other cities around the country, including San Francisco, Minneapolis and Cambridge. The state of Maine also uses it.

Backers say the system discourages negative campaigning, and forces candidates to reach out to more voters rather than relying on a narrow base. It’s also designed to allow voters to pick their true favorite, without worrying about throwing away a vote on someone who can’t win.

“You’ve got to be, I think, a better candidate,” said FairVote President Rob Richie.

“You as a candidate have a lot more reasons to have conversations and engagements with people,” he said. “The candidates that run traditional campaigns that involve using money and not using people have not done as well.”

The plan will eliminate New York’s traditional runoff elections, which are held for citywide offices if no candidate cracks 40 percent of the vote. The Independent Budget Office estimated that that could save $20 million for each election cycle that would require a runoff.

But with the city Board of Elections already known for frequent fumbles, it could result in much longer waits for New Yorkers to find out who has won a primary.

In cities where ranked choice has been tried, it has sometimes resulted in unorthodox campaign tactics like multiple candidates banding together into alliances with competitors to jockey for second and third place votes.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill last month that would have allowed more cities and counties there to use the system, saying it created too much voter confusion.

A well-funded campaign backed by good government groups raised nearly $2 million to promote the question, bringing together pro-business groups on the one hand and progressive activists on the other.

But in the closing days of the campaign, opposition emerged from the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, which said the change could hurt the chances of candidates of color.

“Our communities of color have flexed their considerable muscle at the ballot box over the last decade by electing the first Asian and black female citywide officials as well as a racially and ethnically diverse majority of the City Council’s membership. Yet some critics have suggested that those historic victories were ‘anti-Democratic’ because they were not decided by a majority of voters,” the group said in a statement.

“These outsiders know nothing about our communities and what is in their interest even less. With the next round of municipal elections two years away, if Ranked Choice Voting is adopted, it would dilute the electoral power of communities of color, and diminish black, Latino and Asian candidacies by offering a ‘traditional’ candidate as a ‘safe’ alternative to voters," the caucus said.

A study by FairVote found that in California’s Bay Area, candidates of color won 62 percent of ranked-choice races, compared to 38 percent before the switch.

But research by Craig Burnett, an associate professor of political science at Hofstra University, found that voters in black and Latino neighborhoods in San Francisco and Oakland are more likely to choose just one candidate and leave the rest of the ballot blank, whereas voters in white neighborhoods are more likely to maximize their influence by completing the ballot.

An extensive voter education effort will be needed before the switch goes into effect, Burnett said.

“They’ll be changing decades worth of history here, and some people will get it very easily, and some people won’t,” he said. “For a lot of voters who don’t have experience with this, who aren’t paying very careful attention, it’s going to be confusing.”

The referendum question was one of five proposed changes to the city charter on the ballot Tuesday. Also approved were measures to create a rainy day fund for the city budget, strengthen prohibitions on former city officials lobbying their former agencies, change the composition of the Conflicts of Interest Board and tweak the timeline for the city’s land use review process.

Fordham University associate political science professor Christina Greer said the new voting system has the potential to boost voter turnout.

“It makes the political process more robust, because you can’t have a candidate who says, ‘I’m just going to cater to Brooklyn, and I know they’ll come through for me,'” she said. “They can’t campaign just for their particular borough or their particular constituency. They’re going to have to diversify who they reach out to.”

She said fears about voter confusion are overblown. “At the end of the day, it’s not that complicated,” she said.

thanks to those who reminded me of that news
And yes, there is still much interest in electoral reform, both provincially and nationally, here. This was from the summer and still relevant:

OPINION: Appetite for electoral change still strong in P.E.I. - The Guardian Opinion piece by Stephen DeGrace

Published on Saturday, July 20, 2019

Islanders for Proportional Representation (IPR) is a new community organization dedicated to carrying on the effort to improve our Island democracy by adopting Proportional Representation. Our newly elected government’s first legislative sitting was disappointing. There was a complete absence of how exactly the new government will be following up the referendum results on proportional representation.

In an attempt to inform and engage the MLAs before the sitting of the legislature, our organization contacted all MLAs. We wanted to assist them in what we expected would be one of their major concerns: how they should respond to the referendum results. Even the speech from the throne barely acknowledged the referendum.

Why the concern? The referendum commissioner publicly stated on May 21 that the results mean: “That neither the ‘No’ nor the ‘Yes’ sides received enough votes to bind the Government according to s.4(1) of the Electoral System Referendum Act”. It seems an ideal situation for government to lead boldly and educate on what is needed. However let’s look at what happened.

Despite referendum rules having been designed to legally intimidate and stifle speech, an inordinately short referendum period, and the distraction of an election that sucked much of the oxygen out of the room, the Yes side came very close to winning. Vote Yes won the majority of ridings, and 48.6 per cent of the popular vote, despite these disadvantages. Widespread support bridged rural and urban areas. In seven electoral districts percentage of Yes support was in the mid to high 40s.

In the opinion of many, the previous government did not adequately acknowledge the strong appetite for reform, remaining fearful of meaningful progress. Even a slightly longer campaign may have yielded a very different result.

Islanders are fortunate that the makeup of the legislature today happens to be roughly aligned with the way Islanders voted. We are optimistic that the parties will work well together for the betterment of Islanders. Evidence shows, however, that the result is an anomaly under our current system. It is antiquated and ensures that future elections will produce more lopsided results out of line with the will of Islanders, and that parties have an ongoing, perverse incentive to trigger unnecessary elections to play in that electoral casino.

We thank MLA Steve Howard for his excellent response to the speech from the throne, which made a number of important points. We call on this government, and the Opposition parties, to make electoral reform a front burner issue in future sittings of the Legislature and to work on strategies in the interim before the next sitting.

We applaud the government’s commitment to form a panel of citizens and elected members to consider reforms to the Legislature, but this commitment is vague, doesn’t go far enough and fails to outline any clear objectives. Islanders’ beliefs in proportional representation do not deserve to be shunted to a back burner.

Therefore, Islanders for Proportional Representation is urging the P.E.I. government to take seriously their obligation to promote electoral reform in the form of concrete plans. We suggest that the proposed special committee on committees be mandated to create immediately a new special commission on proportional representation, on mixed member proportional representation in particular. The new commission would be made up of MLAs and other citizens. The commission would be mandated to propose a step-by-step process for establishing proportional representation for P.E.I. in preparation for the 2023 election. The commission would be expected to submit that process to the spring 2020 sitting of the legislative assembly.

Stephen DeGrace wrote this piece on behalf of Islanders for Proportional Representation.

"It is important to become aware that at every moment of our life we have the opportunity to choose joy."
--- Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996)

November 6, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Standing Committee meeting Health and Social Development, 1:30PM, Coles Building. Attend in person or watch live here. Topic: Consideration of Motion No. 1 (Wellness)
"The committee will receive briefings from Reid Burke, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association – PEI Division; and Denee Gallant Ramsay, of Eternal Fitness."

Chili & Conversation to Celebrate Island Charities, 4:30-6:30PM, Startup Zone, 31 Queen Street, Charlottetown.

"Join us for a get together to celebrate Island charities that are DOING GOOD STUFF! The get together will be moderated by Heather MacAulay from Volume 18 and Honourable Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of PEI will be in attendance and say a few words as well. Hosted by the PEI Chapter of CAGP as part of #GivingTuesday, this is a great opportunity to brainstorm what YOU can do in preparation for Giving Tuesday!
... Charities, businesses, groups and individuals are all welcome."
Register (free) at the Eventbrite link, here.

Saturday, November 9th-Friday, November 22:
Annual Fall Wild Bird Food Sale, Philips Feed ("Philips Agri Services"), Exhibition Drive. Sales on seed and they give part of proceeds to Island Nature Trust.
From Bike Friendly Charlottetown

Published yesterday, Tuesday, November 4th, 2019

CALL TO ACTION: BFC presents The Hillsborough Bridge Active Transportation Lane Petition—2.0!

In 2017, Josh Underhay wrote a petition, which was brought to the provincial legislature, urging the government to invest in active transportation infrastructure—including the addition of a dedicated lane on the Hillsborough Bridge. Soon after, he was invited by the premier to an announcement that, along with the construction of a Stratford wastewater delivery pipeline, they were going to do just that: Guardian Article from Friday, May 26th, 2017

This wasn’t just a success, or a "win," for Josh. It was a turning point that showed him that regular people, like him, like us, can effect change. That we can ask our government to make changes for the better, to make our world and our province a better place—and that when we ask with a unified voice, they really do listen.

Fast-forward to today: the construction of the wastewater delivery pipeline has begun, but it has now been confirmed that construction of the active transportation lane has been pushed back to 2023:…/pei-active-transportation-hillsborough…

We at Bike Friendly Charlottetown fear that pushing the construction of this promised and important piece of infrastructure back to 2023 is simply a way of making this the next government’s problem. Therefore, we have written a new petition to the provincial legislature urging the government to complete construction of the Hillsborough Bridge active transportation lane during this government’s mandate instead. We have done our homework and supported our reasoning with statements and documentation from the government itself, and now—we need your help!

Josh collected more than 300 signatures for his original petition, and he was just one person. There were more than 200 people at our BFC launch last week, and many more supporters online—imagine how many signatures all of us could collect together!

If you think you can fill a page—or nearly fill a page—of signatures, send us an email at to request a digital copy of the document to print, or to arrange pickup of a printed copy. You can print and fill as many of the signing pages as you like—ask your friends and family, circulate it at work or at public spaces you have access to—anyone living in PEI can sign! When you are done collecting, get in touch with us via email to arrange for a pick-up. We are aiming to collect all of the pages together by November 18th so that the petition can be brought to the fall sitting of the legislature.

If you don’t think you can collect signatures and would simply like to sign the petition yourself, that is awesome too! You can find us on Saturday, November 9th at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market, and we will be posting other public locations where you can find a copy to sign over the next few days.

If you would like to read the full text of the petition we have written, you can find it below.

Thank you for believing in a Bike Friendlier Charlottetown (and beyond)!


To the legislative assembly of Prince Edward Island:
These are the reasons for the petition:
The Provincial Government has made the following commitments:
On May 26th, 2017, provincial government announced that an active transportation lane will be built along the Hillsborough bridge in conjunction with the wastewater delivery pipeline from Stratford to Charlottetown
On July 12th, 2019, the current provincial government committed to reducing the greenhouse emissions in the province to less than 1.2 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030 under the Climate Leadership Act

AND WHEREAS: the provincial government have expressed implicit support for Active Transportation lanes generally:
The PEI Climate Change Action Plan, item 11 states that “government will develop initiatives that contribute to a more sustainable transit system.”
The director of PEI’s Climate Change Secretariat told the Special Legislative Committee on Climate Change that bold action is needed to meet said target

AND WHEREAS: the municipal governments of the City of Charlottetown and the Town of Stratford have expressed explicit support for an Active Transportation lane on the Hillsborough Bridge
The 2012 Regional Active Transportation Plan describes the support for an active transportation lane on the Hillsborough Bridge in:
section 2.4, recommends enhanced cycling and pedestrian access to the Hillsborough Bridge, detailed in Exhibit 6.
section 2.6 describes Stratford’s Sustainable Strategic Plan & Vision 2028 which recommends improvements to the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to cross the Hillsborough Bridge, with specific concept design see Exhibit 10
Section 4.1 G calls for a short-term solution for cycling an active transportation lane across the Hillsborough Bridge
Section 4.2 D calls for a long-term solution for cycling an active transportation lane across the Hillsborough Bridge

Cycling across the Hillsborough Bridge is dangerous, particularly when merging and turning
Ridership would increase if people felt safer on these high traffic stretches of highway

THEREFORE we petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:
to urge government to complete construction of a dedicated active transportation lane across the Hillsborough Bridge during this government’s mandate.

"It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth -- and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up -- that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
-- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

With thanks to Bruce MacNaughton of the P.E.I. Preserve Company for mentioning this quote in his blog in a tribute to Josh Underhay
from April 27th, 2019:

"Bruce Muses" current page

November 5, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Tuesday, November 5th:
NaturePEI monthly meeting, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Kent and West Streets, Charlottetown.
Topic: "Forty Years of Protecting PEI's Natural Areas" with Megan Harris of Island Nature Trust.
"Nature PEI’s November meeting will feature a presentation by Megan Harris, Executive Director of the Island Nature Trust (INT), the Island’s first and oldest private land trust. Megan will take us through four decades of challenges, achievements and opportunities in protecting the Island’s natural heritage, from the issues that led to the inception of the INT in 1979, to a discussion of where the organization is going over the next five years and how Islanders can help."

Two upcoming seasonal events, with thanks to Rob Thompson, one of the "glues" who bonds many diverse kinds of communities.

Sunday, November 10th:
Concert: "We Remember", 7:30PM, St. Paul's Church, Church Street (across from the Coles Building), Charlottetown. Free, but donations (to be used for Christmas hampers and such) accepted.
"A free concert by Phase II and Friends at St. Paul’s church, to honour our veterans and service people with music, both inspirational and fun, related to Remembrance Day, plus readings by MP Sean Casey, Mayor Philip Brown and Reverend John Clarke."

Thursday, November 21st:
Harvest Thanksgiving Dinner, 4:30-6PM, St. Paul's Parish Hall, Prince Street at Richmond entrance, $20.
"Delicious turkey and all the fixings + dessert. Proceeds fund the church’s annual Christmas food hamper & simple gifts program.
Tickets and take-out orders: St. Paul’s Outreach - 782-377-3644,
Always a sell-out: it is not usually possible to buy at the door."
With Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May announcing her stepping down as Party Leader, the vote for the next leader is set for the Annual Green Party Federal Convention to be held in October 2020, in Charlottetown. Federal representative (and second-place finishing candidate in Charlottetown riding) Darcie Lanthier discussed events with CBC News, here.
passed on by Laurie Brinklow, with thanks:
"Land Projected to be Below Annual Flood Level in 2050" Article and interactive map.
News from:
Fridays for Future PEI Climate Action Group

E-bus Report Part 1 - Fridays for Future PEI Climate Action Group article by Tony Reddin & Michael Page

Published Monday, November 4th, 2019

In a Climate Emergency you don't invest in diesel buses!

A meeting to discuss electric vs diesel buses was held October 29 between representatives of Fridays for Future PEI Climate Action Group and the Environment and Sustainability Committee (ESC) of the City of Charlottetown. That Committee had just recommended the purchase of six new diesel buses instead of pursuing the original proposal they considered to purchase fourteen electric buses (e-buses) and four diesel buses.

After about 30 minutes of discussion, we stated that we understood City Council would be voting on the bus purchase at their next meeting scheduled for Nov 12. We were then told that City Council had held a 'special meeting' the evening before to pass a resolution approving the purchase of diesel buses only.

This situation originated the week before when, at their meeting Oct. 22, we saw the ESC recommend the purchase of diesel buses only (to be brought, we assumed, to the next regular City Council meeting for a resolution). A city official sent us information to explain that decision, and arranged the Oct 29 meeting for us with the ESC. to discuss the possible bus purchase, so we put a lot of research time and study into details of e-buses and the bus purchase proposals, intending to work with the ESC to lobby our federal and provincial governments to enable the purchase of e-buses instead of all diesel buses. Now we feel that we were treated disrespectfully, but we intend to continue lobbying for e-buses. (We still have a lot of unanswered Qs- see E-bus Report Part 3)
We were told that the Capital Area Transit Committee (CATCC, the overseeing board of the tri-municipal T3 transit system) opted to wait until 2022 to begin e-bus purchases, but to move ahead with diesel units for years 2 and 3 of the T3 fleet replacement plan (with 40% federal and 33% provincial subsidies for either choice provided through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Fund – Public Transit Stream).

The reason stated for this reversal away from e-buses was an immediate need to acquire buses to meet growing demand. What was not clear to those of us at the meeting was why the four diesel buses in the proposal that included the e-buses would not have served the purpose just as well. Also municipal budget constraints were raised as a factor, but there was no mention of how many years the spending could be spread out in municipal capital budgets when purchasing e-buses (perhaps 2 - 5 years?). We were also not told whether purchase of used buses was considered as a stop-gap measure.

Charlottetown Council passed a Declaration of Climate Emergency on April 8 2019. Declaring a climate emergency means that there should be no more investing in fossil fueled solutions. (Read the City of Charlottetown's full resolution here)

Representatives of Fridays for Future PEI Climate Action Group had a productive meeting Wednesday Oct 30 with Stratford Mayor Steve Ogden, CAO Robert Hughes and Councillor Derek Smith. We will be sharing more information with them, and work together to lobby federal and provincial governments for infrastructure funding to enable purchase of e-buses instead of diesel buses. The next Stratford Town Council meeting is November 20.

We intend to meet asap with Cornwall TownCouncillors, PEI MLAs and PEI MPs.

Fridays for Future PEI Climate Action Group holds the 'Climate Emergency Call for Action' in front of Province House, on Grafton Street in Charlottetown every Friday at 3:30 pm. We encourage Islanders of all ages to get involved as you are able, to contact your municipal, provincial and federal representatives with any questions you have, and to connect with our group to join our actions. For more information from us, contact, or and look at our facebook .

"When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful."
--- Malala Yousafzai (b. 1997)

November 4, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Fireside Chat with Catherine Hennessey, 7PM Haviland Club, Charlottetown, all welcome. Hosted by Friends of the Farm.
A chat with the noted archivist heritage activist and "bestowing upon Catherine the Janice Simmonds Award, the Friends of the Farm award that recognizes people or groups that work to keep and/or improve green space on the Island."
Tuesday, November 5th:
NaturePEI monthly meeting, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Kent and West Streets, Charlottetown. Topic: "Forty Years of Protecting PEI's Natural Areas" with Megan Harris of Island Nature Trust.
"Nature PEI’s November meeting will feature a presentation by Megan Harris, Executive Director of the Island Nature Trust (INT), the Island’s first and oldest private land trust. Megan will take us through four decades of challenges, achievements and opportunities in protecting the Island’s natural heritage, from the issues that led to the inception of the INT in 1979, to a discussion of where the organization is going over the next five years and how Islanders can help. Along the way, Megan will speak to where the organization is now - not only the acreage and ecosystems protected, but the stewardship and planning philosophies that guide their work. With the international emphasis on conservation, biodiversity and protected places that we see right now – Megan will also share her thoughts on the value and complexities of acting locally while thinking globally."
Breaking News Article:

Fracking halted in England in major government U-turn - The Guardian (U.K.) article by Jillian Ambrose

Victory for green groups follows damning scientific study and criticism from spending watchdog

Published on Saturday, November 2nd, 2019, in

The government has halted fracking in England with immediate effect in a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists.

Ministers also warned shale gas companies it would not support future fracking projects, in a crushing blow to companies that had been hoping to capitalise on one of the new frontiers of growth in the fossil fuel industry.

The decision draws a line under years of bitter opposition to the controversial extraction process in a major victory for green groups and local communities.

The decision was taken after a new scientific study warned it was not possible to rule out “unacceptable” consequences for those living near fracking sites.

The report, undertaken by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), also warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes fracking might trigger.

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping water, chemicals and sand underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release trapped oil and gas.

The government said it would not agree to any future fracking “until compelling new evidence is provided” that proves fracking could be safe. The UK’s only active fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire was brought to an immediate halt this summer after fracking triggered multiple earth tremors that breached the government’s earthquake limits.

Andrea Leadsom, the business and energy secretary, said the government has always been clear that shale gas exploration in the UK must be carried out safely.

“After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community. For this reason, I have concluded that we should put a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect,” she said.

The moratorium marks a major U-turn for the Conservative party and the prime minister Boris Johnson, who once referred to fracking as “glorious news for humanity” and urged the UK to “leave no stone unturned, or unfracked” in pursuit of shale gas.

The government ended its support for the struggling industry less than a week after a damning report from Whitehall’s spending watchdog found its plans to establish fracking across the UK was dragging years behind schedule and had cost the taxpayer at least £32m so far without producing any energy in return.

Rebecca Newsom, the head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said it has “been clear for some time that the government’s big bet on fracking is bust”.

The decision has been welcomed as a “victory for common sense” by green groups and campaigners who have fought for almost a decade against the controversial fossil fuel extraction process.

Craig Bennett, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth, said: “This moratorium is a tremendous victory for communities and the climate. For nearly a decade local people across the country have fought a David and Goliath battle against this powerful industry. We are proud to have been part of that fight.”

Tom Fyans, from CPRE, said the countryside charity would “celebrate alongside the local communities, campaigners and environmentalists who have been campaigning valiantly to stop fracking for many years”.

“This is a fantastic win for local democracy and everyone who cares about protecting the countryside from climate catastrophe and mass industrialisation,” he said.

Rebecca Long Bailey MP, the shadow business and energy secretary, said the moratorium was a victory for local people and the government owed them an apology. She said: “When the Tory government overruled local democratic decisions to halt fracking, communities did not give up. When fracking protesters went to jail, communities did not give up. And now they have forced the government to U-turn.

“The Tories owe the public an apology, and an explanation of how much public money they wasted while ignoring the science.”

Long-Bailey said the government could yet allow fracking to restart. “The next Labour government will ban fracking – whereas the Tories will only call a temporary halt to it. You can’t trust a word the prime minister says.”

The government revealed its fracking moratium alongside plans for a major review of the UK’s transition to a green economy. The Treasury said it will assess how the UK can make the most of the economic green shoots which are expected to emerge while moving towards a carbon neutral economy by 2050.

Sajid Javid, the chancellor, said the review was a vital next step” in delivering the government’s 2050 climate target while “supporting growth and lancing costs” to avoid “placing unfair burdens on families or businesses”.

“We must all play a part in protecting the planet for future generations,” he added.

The Treasury’s support for a green economy comes after Downing Street shot down claims made by the former chancellor, Philip Hammond, that tackling the climate crisis would cost £1tn and require spending cuts for schools, hospitals and the police force.

In a swift rebuke, No 10 said plans to create a net zero-carbon economy would cost no more than the UK’s existing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The interim report will be published in the spring, ahead of a final report in the autumn before the global UN climate talks, which will be hosted Glasgow.

Simon Clarke, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said it was “humbling to launch this unprecedented review into how we end the UK’s contribution to climate change”.

“Until recently people said that ‘Net Zero’ was impossible, but this work is a giant step towards making it happen, enabling us to set out a roadmap for an economy that is cleaner, more efficient, and works for everyone, while preserving our planet,” he said.

**This article was corrected on 2 November 2019 to make clear that the government has halted, but not banned fracking as stated in an earlier version, and that the moratorium applies only to England as it is a devolved issue. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already have measures in place against fracking.

Opinion Piece:

Turn back the clock on Daylight Savings: Why Standard Time all year round is the healthy choice - The Globe and Mail article by Nicolas Cermakian, Patricia Lakin-Thomas and Tami Martino

Published on Friday, November 1st, 2019

Nicolas Cermakian is a professor in the department of psychiatry at McGill University and the director of the laboratory of molecular chronobiology in the Research Centre of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute.

Patricia Lakin-Thomas is an associate professor in the department of biology at York University.

Tami Martino is a professor and the director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Investigations at the University of Guelph.

They are writing on behalf of the Canadian Society for Chronobiology.

Changing our clocks twice a year has little benefit, economic or otherwise, so isn’t it time to stop this antiquated practice? The good news is that some provincial legislatures agree and are currently considering bills to adopt permanent time. As experts on biological rhythms, we support the switch to a permanent time. However, in doing so, we must adopt Standard Time (ST), not Daylight Savings Time (DST, or “summer time”).

There is general agreement that getting rid of the time switch twice a year would be a good idea. After time switches, particularly the “spring forward,” there are increased rates of car accidents, heart attacks, strokes and workplace injuries. So why does it matter whether we adopt permanent DST or permanent ST?

All the processes happening in our bodies are co-ordinated by our biological clocks, located in our brains and all other organs. The argument in favour of permanent DST is that there would be more light in the evening. While this is true, we can’t change the number of hours of light in the day. More evening light means less morning light. But importantly, it’s the light in the morning that is most important in resetting our biological clocks. Consider this: If we all spent our time outdoors getting plenty of natural light, and could choose when to get up and go to sleep as our ancestors did, our internal clocks would be set by the sun so that we would tend to wake up at dawn, and then, depending on the time of year, stay awake for a while in the evening after dark. Our body clocks would be in sync with the sun clock. The problem is that we live in societies that force us to get up and go to work or school at times that we don’t get to choose.

Chronobiologists, the name given to scientists who study biological timing, call this situation “social jet lag,” when the body clock doesn’t match the social clock. Just like the jet lag you get when you fly across time zones and find yourself out of sync with the new local time, social jet lag can cause many problems including disrupted sleep, increased risk of accidents, lower productivity at work and in school, and increased risk of negative health impacts. Permanent ST would move “social time” closer to our natural “body time,” while permanent DST would move social time further away.

Can just one hour make such a big difference? We already have evidence from a huge natural experiment that we are all part of: the difference between people living on the western and eastern edges of any time zone. The sun moves continuously across time zones, but we are arbitrarily divided up into one-hour blocks. People on the western edge are forced to get up an hour earlier than people on the east, according to sun time. Analysis of health data from millions of people shows that people on the western edges of time zones get about 19 minutes less sleep every night than people on the east, and also have significantly higher rates of obesity, diabetes and heart attacks than people on the eastern edges. Even scarier, cancer rates significantly increase when the sunrise is later on the western edges. Permanent DST would make sunrise even later for everyone, while permanent ST would make sunrise closer to body time.

Permanent DST was tried in the United States in the past century but was quickly repealed when the public found that waking up in the dark is hard, and energy savings were negligible. Let’s not repeat that failed experiment in Canada. Since Canadians live even further north, the challenge would be even more profound in our country. Recently, several provincial legislatures have considered stopping the switch, with a bill currently on the table in British Columbia, but in all cases the plan is to switch to DST, not ST.

Scientists around the world support this initiative to adopt Standard Time, and statements have been issued by the U.S.-based Society for Research on Biological Rhythms, the European Biological Rhythms Society, and the European Sleep Research Society. As Canadian biological rhythm researchers supporting evidence-based policy, we strongly recommend a switch to permanent Standard Time.


This may apply to inordinately-sized highway projects on this little island...
"When we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something by nature we call it progress."
– Ed Begley Jr.

November 3, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Maybe due to the time change, or being between Hallowe'en and Remembrance Day, but it seems fairly quiet in events today. Hope everyone got their clocks figured out, and perhaps we seriously consider dropping this semi-annual time changing.

Wednesday, November 6th:
Standing Committee on Health and Social Development meeting, 1:30PM, Coles Building.
"The committee will receive a briefing from the Canadian Mental Health Association – PEI Division, Reid Burke, Executive Director."
This committee is chaired by Third Party MLA Gordon McNeilly
Committee page

And more about Motion 1, below.

Friday, November 8th:
Currently, last day for public comments on the recent set of regulations on water extraction management
(Links were down at this writing, but will share early this week)

Mi'kmaq beginning move towards self-governance on P.E.I. - CBC PEI online article by Tony Davis

'Ultimately it is having power and control of our destiny'

Published on Wednesday, October 30th, 2019, on

The first executive director of the Mi'kmaq initiative L'nuey says the ultimate goal is self-government for Mi'kmaq on P.E.I.

Consultation with the community in terms of self-determination started during a gathering in late September, said Jenene Wooldridge, who leads the rights-based initiative.

"We want to ensure that we are getting rid of any imbalances that exist between the Mi'kmaq and non-Mi'kmaq people of P.E.I.," she said.

More meetings will happen this fall, and she hopes to have a visioning document finished in a year from now, Wooldridge said.

"We are starting with a visioning process with the Mi'kmaq people of P.E.I. to ensure that we have clear direction on where they want to go in regards of self governance and self determination," she said.

Until now, people with the Mi'kmaq Confederacy were responsible for consultations and negotiations with government, but those have now been turned over to a new organization called L'nuey.

L'nuey means "of the people" or "belonging to the people."

Nation rebuilding

Wooldridge said she likes to use the term "nation rebuilding" when she talks about moving toward self governance, because the nations already exist.

"It's just that we need to be able to come to the table at a level playing field when we are going into negotiations government to government to government," she said.

Although a major activity for L'nuey is self-government negotiations Wooldridge warns the steps to self-government will take time.

She said a Mi'kmaq rights organization in Nova Scotia has been working toward self determination for ten years.

Moving beyond the Indian Act

L'nuey also provides analysis on requests that come in on things such as sales of land, signage or construction on land with Mi'kmaq rights, Wooldridge said.

"It's researching each of those requests and ensuring that the indigenous rights are being protected," she said.

Wooldridge said about 300 of those requests came in the last year.

"It's researching each of those requests and ensuring the indigenous rights are being respected in regards to each of those consultation letters," Wooldridge said.

When it comes to self-determination Wooldridge said L'nuey is "moving beyond the Indian Act."

"Really, ultimately it is having power and control of our destiny," she said.

This motion was called up and read and passed in June of 2019

Motion1: Calling on Legislative Assembly to refer wellness to the appropriate Standing Committee

Gordon McNeilly gives notice that tomorrow he will move, seconded by Robert Henderson, the following motion:

WHEREAS wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity;

AND WHEREAS in 2016, the provincial Department of Health and Wellness released a Wellness Strategy aimed at covering the time period 2015 to 2018;

AND WHEREAS in 2018, the provincial Chief Public Health Officer released the Children’s Report 2017 which addressed wellness related concerns;

AND WHEREAS it is important that wellness play an important role in overall health policy and programming;

THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly refer wellness to the Standing Committee responsible for health for review.

From their Committee page:

The Standing Committee on Health and Social Development is charged with matters concerning health, social programs, sport, seniors, justice and public safety, emergency measures, Indigenous affairs, Francophone and Acadian affairs, Status of Women, persons with disabilities, housing, charities, the Prince Edward Island Human Rights Commission, and other such matters relating to health and social development.

Gordon McNeilly (Chair)
Trish Altass
Hannah Bell
Hon. Jamie Fox
Heath MacDonald
Hon. Bradley Trivers

"We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better."
--- J. K. Rowling

November 2, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Farmers' Markets
Summerside, 9AM-1PM
Charlottetown, 9AM-2PM

Charlottetown Police Bike Auction, viewing at 8:30AM, Police Station on Kirkwood. Facebook event link

Ski/snowboard equipment Trade and Sale, 10-11:30AM, Colonel Gray High School

FairTrade Sales (Ten Thousand Villages)
Summerside, Today: 9AM-4PM, Summerside Presbyterian Church.
Cornwall: 9AM-4PM, West River United Church

Fix It Fair, 10AM-1PM, West Royalty Community Centre, Free. Hosted by the City of Charlottetown.
More information and registration
Article: Here is Senator Murray Sinclair's Symons Medal Lecture recording from yesterday (you have to scroll down to the posting, which is a video and 2 hours long):
This isn't really making much in the mainstream media:

Keystone Pipeline Spills 383,000 Gallons of Oil into North Dakota Wetlands - article by Phil McKenna

The spill was reported just hours after a key environmental assessment hearing on plans for another controversial pipeline, Keystone XL.

Published on Friday, November 1st, 2019

The Keystone Pipeline spilled as much as 383,000 gallons of crude oil into rural wetlands in North Dakota this week before the pipeline was shut down, making it one of the largest oil spills in the country in the past decade, state officials confirmed on Thursday.

The spill had been reported just hours after an environmental assessment hearing for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a separate crude oil pipeline being built by the same company—TC Energy, formerly TransCanada.

"When we are talking about what could happen or the risk that is posed by oil spills, we have yet another illustration here in North Dakota about what can happen," said Catherine Collentine, associate director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Initiative. "It's something that we need to be looking very closely at given the number of water crossings and the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline."

What caused the new oil spill wasn't yet clear Thursday night, said Karl Rockeman, director of the Division of Water Quality for the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality. He said the oil had flowed into a ditch that drains agricultural land near the small town of Edinburg, in the northeast corner of the state, and had gone about 1,500 feet, or about the length of four football fields.

The Keystone Pipeline, stretching 2,147 miles from the tar sands region of Alberta to the Midwest, has a history of oil spills. Nearly a dozen, mostly small spills occurred in its first year of operation after coming online in 2010, according to news reports at the time. It has had several more since then, some of them large. In April 2016, it spilled 16,800 gallons of crude oil onto a rural agricultural area near Freeman, South Dakota. In November 2017, the pipeline spilled 276,864 gallons of crude oil near Amherst, South Dakota, according to the U.S. State Department.

"It's a lot for a new pipe," said Rebecca Craven, program director for the non-profit Pipeline Safety Trust. The 2017 spill had shut the pipeline down for two weeks.

Note that unmarked on this map, but the October 2019 Keystone pipeline spill is near Edinburg, North Dakota, in the northeastern corner of the state.

At 383,000 gallons, this week's spill would be the eighth largest in the United States since 2010, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The oil that spilled was a mix of conventional crude and tar sands crude, according to Rockeman.

TC Energy said it noticed the pressure drop in the pipeline Tuesday evening and started shutting it down. "Emergency crews remain focused on responding to our release and have begun recovering oil, using vac trucks, backhoes and other specialized equipment on-site to assist in the recovery efforts, the company wrote on its website on Thursday.

Keystone's leak in North Dakota was reported just hours after the U.S. State Department held a public hearing in Billings, Montana, on the potential environmental impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Keystone XL, which TC Energy hopes start building next year, has been a flash point for protests and legal battles since it was proposed over a decade ago. Opponents often point to the risks that a rupture or leak in a crude oil pipeline could pose to waterways and aquifers. On its website for the pipeline, TC energy describes it as "the most environmentally responsible way of moving crude oil and natural gas over long distances."

"It's troublesome that they are having as many incidents as they are on the first Keystone," Craven said, "particularly when it's a period of time that I would think they would be hyper vigilant about making sure nothing went wrong while they are trying to get the final approvals for KXL."


"Fiscal debt is only one kind of debt.
Not building and maintaining infrastructure creates debt.
Sacrificing the quality of education for a generation creates a debt.
Failing to address climate change creates a debt.
Social debts are real, and ignoring that is irresponsible."
---Peter Hemminger

November 1, 2019

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Special Committee on Poverty on PEI meeting, 9AM, Coles Building. Attend in person or Watch Live, here.
Topic: Briefings on Poverty from the PEI Council of People with Disabilities, The Adventure Group, the Upper Room Hospitality Ministry and Bedford-MacDonald House (Salvation Army).

Symons Lecture with Senator Murray SInclair, 12:30PM, Confed Centre YouTube.

FairTrade Sales (Ten Thousand Villages)
Summerside, Today: 10AM-8PM
, Summerside Presbyterian Church.
Cornwall: 4PM-9PM, West River United Church

Summerside, 9AM-4PM
Cornwall: 9AM-4PM

Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Province House (Grafton Street side). Meeting weekly, to ..."stand in solidarity with international movement, founded by Greta Thunberg to force governments and corporations to do what is necessary to ensure that young people and future generations will have a habitable planet."

Tomorrow, and requires registration to attend workshops or have something fixed in the "Repair Cafe":
Fix It Fair, 10AM-1PM, West Royalty Community Centre, Free. Hosted by the City of Charlottetown.
More information and registration
Yay, Bats!

10 Years of White-nose Syndrome on Canada’s Bats: An Update - Canadian Wildlife Federation article by Karen Vanderwolf, Canadian Wildlife Federation

Published on Tuesday, October 15th, 2019 at:

It has now been almost 10 years since white-nose syndrome (WNS), a devastating fungal disease of hibernating bats, was first found in Canada.

There are 19 species of bats in Canada, but not all of them are affected by WNS. Some bat species migrate south for the winter instead of hibernating, while others live in areas of Canada where WNS has not yet been found, such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Sadly, WNS continues to spread west and is now found in Manitoba, as well as in all provinces east of Manitoba.

The Three Bat Species Affected

Three bat species in Canada have been severely affected by WNS:

  • Little Brown Bat

  • Northern Long-eared Bat

  • Tri-colored Bat

Researchers approximate that roughly six million bats in North America have died as a result of this disease. In areas of the Atlantic provinces, bat populations have declined by 99 per cent when affected by WNS, with similar trends in affected sites in Ontario and Quebec.

Other bat species develop the disease but for unknown reasons have been less severely impacted, including the Big Brown Bat and Small-footed Bat. But there is hope for impacted species: despite large-scale mortality, Little Brown Bats are persisting in Canada and even reproducing!

We caught this Little Brown Bat and her pup (shown nursing, above) in early July at a maternity colony in New Brunswick. This pup cannot yet fly, but its mother can fly while carrying a pup that is almost as heavy as she is!

At birth, a Little Brown Bat pup weighs about 30 per cent of its mother’s body weight. This maternity colony was found in a bat house, but maternity colonies can also be found in attics; the female Big Brown Bat pictured below was found in an attic in Ontario.

(see link for photos)

Finally, Some Good News!

I surveyed bat colonies during the maternity season (late May, June and early July) in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. I did this with help from Jordi Segers (Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative National office) and Tessa McBurney (Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative Atlantic office), among others. All the bats we caught appeared healthy. Most of the females were reproducing, even though WNS has been present for years in these provinces. The Canadian Wildlife Federation’s tagging and tracking study in the Ottawa area found similar results.

Researching Bats

To collect the data we need to research bats, we first have to catch them. We use two types of traps to catch bats for the purpose of taking measurements and samples for research.

Mist Nets

The mist nets are the same ones used to catch birds. Pictured below are Big Brown Bats caught in a mist net in New Brunswick in June 2019.

Harp Traps

Below is an example of a harp trap that has been set up in front of an abandoned mine in New Brunswick during swarming season (August and September). Bats fly into the fishing line – which is strung in the frame like a harp – and then fall into the bag below. Swarming season is mating season for bats; they gather at potential hibernacula (overwintering sites), such as caves and mines.

During swarming surveys in Ontario, we were lucky enough to catch this beautiful male Red Bat in one of our harp traps! Red Bats are sexually dimorphic. This means the males and females don’t look the same – the females are not as brightly colored as the males. Red Bats are migratory and are not affected by WNS, however many migratory bats are killed by wind turbines during their migration south.

Sadly, the number of bats we caught during swarming season in New Brunswick was much less compared to our work pre-WNS. Although bats are reproducing, it will likely take a long time for the population to recover from the large-scale mortality caused by WNS.

What Can You Do?

Provide a roosting site for a female bat and her pup! CWF is here to guide you through every step. Begin by downloading these free DIY instructions. Building a bat house is always beneficial, but especially during the crucial months of April through June will provide a roosting site for a female bat to have her pup. Bats only have one pup per year, so providing them safe haven is vital to their survival. Bats also make great neighbours; they help control insects through spring and summer.

(link has photos and a link to the pdf for simple-ish plans to make a bat box)



"Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it."
---Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1861)