April 30, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight is the Guardian/Eastlink debate, a little more limited in access than the CBC debate if you happen not to have Eastlink Cable, tonight at 7PM. It will be rebroadcast on Eastlink Saturday afternoon at 2PM, and live-blogged on The Guardian's website. There is limited seating for the debate at the UPEI Student Union (by the CARI Centre, parking is free at that time of day, but parking will be tight, I would guess), and doors open at 6:15.
On Tuesday night, around the same time as the "old school" agriculture forum was going on, the future of politics was beginning on P.E.I. Two candidates from District 16 (Cornwall-Meadowbank) with reasons they aren't easily going door-to-door, held a joint meet and greet, Jennifer Coughlin from the NDP and Rosalyn Riddlington-Abbott from the Greens. The two other candidates (Liberal Heath MacDonald and PC Michael Drake) popped in to visit. It sounded collaborative and inclusive.
Regarding the debate, farmer Randall Affleck [not to be confused with near-neighbour ;-) and Green Party candidate for District 19 (Borden-Kinkora) Ranald Macfarlane], writes in today's Guardian:
screen shot from Thursday, April 30th, 2015, Guardian
You could have a leaders' event and they tell you what they know and where they want their party to go, OR have a representatives' forum with each party selecting a representative who is the most knowledgeable on farming, or both. This ridiculously short election time has not allowed for any sort of expansion of discussion events.
Monday night Charlottetown Council held an public meeting to discuss their proposed new cosmetic pesticides bylaw. The provincial changes passed in November 2014 in the PEI Legislature allow a municipality to ban certain professionally-used chemicals, which is different than what a lot of people thought they were going to do (allow municipalities to ban use of cosmetic pesticides for domestic or home use). It's confusing and annoying.
But Charlottetown is working within that framework, and is truly trying to hear what the (lawn care) companies are saying, and very much do its duty to protect residents.
Stratford, where the popular mayor stepped down last month so he could "join the Wade MacLauchlan team", has moved in fits and starts, and decided on a closed-door meeting for just councillors and invited presenters. Dr. Roger Gordon and Dr. Bill Whelan, both PhDs in the sciences, were there, the only ones allowed to represent residents' concerns and scientific evidence to ban cosmetic pesticides, and a long list of other representatives of CropLife (an industry group for the chemical and fertilizer manufacturers), Health Canada, etc. were there.
Blogger and Pesticide Free PEI (the group formed to have cosmetic pesticides banned) co-chair Maureen (Moe) Kerr describes is from a social media post last night (with her permission):
From the closed door forum tonight in Stratford: Acting Mayor Cooper kept on calling the guys from Croplife and PMRA doctors!! They had to correct him and say they only had BSC degrees. It was crazy. Doctor Roger Gordon was absolutely livid about the whole thing but gave an excellent presentation as did Doctor Bill Whelan from the Cancer Society. I wasn't allowed to ask questions but everyone else in the room was. There were no other residents there except from the sustainability committee from Stratford, the rest were councillors from Summerside, Charlottetown and Cornwall.
Croplife flew in from Ottawa, as did the guy from PMRA and the owner of Weedman came from Halifax, a lawyer, and they each got to speak for a half hour!
The only person who asked good questions was councillor Steve Odgen, thank god, and Mayor Clifford Lee who took great offence to crop life and the weed man saying if we banned cosmetic pesticides public green spaces were going to go to hell. Clifford spoke up and said that Charlottetown hasn't been using cosmetic pesticides for 12 years and they are absolutely beautiful, Victoria Park as an example. The meeting took almost 3.5 hours and was exhausting especially considering that Charlottetown held one - for the public - on Monday night.
These pesticide peddlers were trying to install fear into a roomful of council people about how expensive a ban would be, how the next thing they knew people were going to be asking for a ban on ag pesticides, that people would be using stuff that they found on google to do it themselves that could be dangerous.... all of this from companies that profit from spraying dangerous chemicals - our town council invited these people in to try and convince them not to enact a ban when they profit from it.
Why wouldn't they have invited a community that has enacted a ban to say how it's gone? God knows there's thousands to choose from from across Canada. WTfrig????
Anyway, it was unbelievable. I am shocked that our town council chose to do this. I'm going to be writing all three mayors. The Summerside mayor came over and gave me a big hug. I'm happy with the Charlottetown mayor but I could throttle our acting mayor. He is an absolute buffoon. I want our old mayor back.
Please feel free to share.
Maureen ("Moe") Kerr,
Federal NDP Environment critic Megan Leslie (who really tried to help with federal issues related to the Plan B highway back in 2012) is coming to PEI today and tomorrow. She will be campaigning in District 14 (Charlottetown-Lewis Point) with Gord McNeilly later today, and tomorrow in Kings County (likely District 3 (Montague-Kilmuir) with Leader Mike Redmond].
The public is invited to the Olde Triangle Pub on the corner of now University-soon Great George and Fitzroy tonight at/after 8:30PM, and leader Mike Redmond will be joining after the Guardian/Eastlink debate.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is coming to P.E.I. Friday morning, for an event at St. Paul's Church hall at 10AM.
Coincidentally, her essay appears in today's Global Chorus entry, and here is an excerpt:
"Choosing to be hopeful is an act of individual courage. The odds are not good, but we have a powerful source of support in the Earth itself. We simply do not know enough to give up, and it is arrogance to think we do.
Turning form the abyss and embracing a green and sustainable future is the challenge of our generation.
I believe, because I must, that we will succeed." -- Elizabeth May, Green Party leader
April 29, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
There are only four days and seventeen hours until Election Day, according to the NDP countdown clock here: http://www.ndppei.ca/
During the 16 working days of this short campaign, well over half of these days have had Party Leader forums or debates of some sort. That's a huge commitment from any candidate, to be away from local District events all those nights (one forum is a breakfast one), but it is likely harder on the third party candidates.
At the Federation of Agriculture debate last night, neither Liberal leader MacLauchlan nor PC leader Lantz attended, each sending a designate, men who clearly want to wear a Minister of Agriculture nametag some day. Mike Redmond, NDP leader, noted that the three events both Lantz and MacLauchlan have failed to show up personally were the forums on Social Justice, Labour and Agriculture.
Tonight is the second to last evening forum of leaders - the PEI Teachers' Federation, at the Delta Hotel, Charlottetown, all welcome -- and tomorrow is the last debate, the Eastlink/Guardian one, at UPEI's Student Union or on Eastlink TV. All leaders are going to these last two.
In the ones I have attended or watched or listened to parts of, all have done a good job, some more than others; Peter Bevan-Baker probably having the best combination of presentation and content, Wade being often detached, stilted and a tad patronizing, Rob engaging, but not as sure of his oratory skills and falling back on reciting his experience or the PC plan, and Mike being very impressive -- witty, knowledgeable, timely and always answering the question asked while putting forward his party's principles.
Tonight, Teachers' Federation Forum, 7PM, Delta Hotel. "Hear the Leaders' of the four parties address issues related to education and what teachers see as important issues for the future of Island students."
From Monday, April 27th, Mainstreet CBC Radio, political columnist Richard Raiswell looks at the NDP and Green Platforms (or planks) and evaluates them.
It's a good listen, and he sums it up with (I am not quoting directly): The Tories and Liberals are asking you to trust each of them. The Greens and NDPs are asking you to trust yourself.
An important message, which bears repeating:
Real election issues not on fringe - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
There is something about this election campaign that is different from those before, and the two main parties seem unable to grasp the real issues that will determine the future of our Island. The environment is not just another topic that can be stickhandled along with hospitals, roads and education; it is the one issue that will destroy our Island if we don’t get it right. If we poison our water, we have to leave. If we wash the rest of our topsoil into the sea or kill our bees with chemicals, we have no farming. If we don’t halt our CO2 emissions soon, Charlottetown will be underwater. If we suck ever more water from the ground and continue poisoning our streams, we lose our fish. If we allow industrial agriculture to keep pumping chemicals into our air and water, cancer rates will continue to rise. These are not fringe issues. These issues are vastly more important than all the others, and we need to put our house in order before it is too late.
Andrew Lush, Hunter River
Finally, today's Global Chorus essay, by Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, needs to be read in its entirety, in context with the issues debated at the ag forum last night.
"We have overcome previous crises by thinking progressively bigger. We have cultivated more acres of land, sought greater economies of scale, ploughed more inputs into the Earth, brought more people to cities, opened more trade routes and engaged more people in globalized exchanges.
These efforts may have sustained today’s burgeoning global populations, but only just, only unevenly and only at a huge cost for the planet, its ecosystems and the generations that will succeed ours.
The global economy is not only unsustainable, it is often irrational and perverse. It is a world where the speculative positions of a powerful trader in Chicago or London can trigger the stockpiling of commodities, global price hikes and more hungry mouths in poor countries. Where trade rules encourage
developing countries to export raw materials and reimport the final product, paying for the added value. Where products travel thousands of kilometres just to be wasted by end consumers. And where we knowingly overfarm and overfish our land and oceans, foreclosing our future food supply.
We must become rational again. We must do everything we can to support smallholders to produce food for their families and for local markets, in the face of growing pressures to divert this land to intensive, large-scale, export-oriented food and fuel production. here can be hope, but only if we are duly skeptical in regard to those who promise hope in the shape of large-scale solutions. In order to think long-term, we may have to stop thinking big." -- Oliver DeSchutter
April 28, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Leaders' are on a bit of a travelling road show this week, with last night being the CBC Leaders' Debate in Summerside. They did get to respond to what each other said, and that was unbelievably refreshing, after these couple of weeks of individual presentations. The CBC and Harbourfront Theatre did an excellent job organizing the event, and the minutes just flew by.
Tonight they are at the Federation of Agriculture forum, 7PM, with presentations and rebuttals to pre-written questions but no questions from the floor.
Wednesday the Teachers' Federation, and Thursday The Guardian televised debate. Maybe some more questions about the environment will make it on The Guardian's list.
Other than the agriculture debate, there are lots of events tonight:
Seed Saving Workshop, 7PM, Confederation Centre Public Library, free. Planning your garden for see-saving is the focus of the workshop, and seeds from the library's display will also be distributed. Sponsored by Cooper Institute.
Tuesday, April 28th:
Federation of Agriculture Leaders' Debate, 7PM, Murchison Centre, by Pius X church in Charlottetown, off St. Peter's Road. I am pretty sure the public is welcome.
PEI Leadnow / Fair Vote PEI Connect Meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, everyone welcome! Discussion of the provincial election, and the fall federal election.
District 16 Cornwall-Meadowbank NDP and Green Candidates joint Meet and Greet, 6:30-8:30PM, Cornwall Town Hall. Jennifer Coughlin (NDP) and Rosalyn Riddlington-Abbott (Green Party) hosting, family-friendly.
You have likely heard or will hear most of the fun stuff from the debate from last night; I'll try to frame up some differences, too, later this week.
Candidates, including the political party leaders, will be campaigning in their districts today; not a great time of year, with our recent weather, to be out trying to get door to door. More in-District socials, debates, etc. could have been planned by community groups with a bit longer of an election time.
This opinion piece was in Monday's Guardian. A very thoughtful read:
Rural Voices Ignored, Issues Not Being Addresses in P.E.I. Election - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Bobby McNally
Published on Monday, April 27th, 2015
During those scarce times that I am able to return to the town that raised me and many others, I see symbols of my past that have fallen to decay.
The Roman Catholic Church still sits on Borden Avenue but the soul no longer rests there as it has been transformed into tenements. That church provided the staff of life for many, and this staff nurtured our spirituality, community, and self-discipline - sit, stand, kneel, and sit. Sunday service also let us know who in our small town could carry alleluias and amens so high that surely the Lord himself would hear them. I suppose the saving grace for the loss of our church is the old adage that “You can leave the church, but the church won’t leave you.”
As I march forward to the end of Borden Avenue, I see a 13 kilometre concrete tombstone that marks the grave of the Marine Atlantic ferry service. This service provided transportation to and from the mainland, but it also provided for our community, as most households were employed by the ferry service. Many of the bereft have left, but the tragedy still haunts the town.
Marine Atlantic ferries shared the Northumberland Strait with a strong fishing fleet made up of local fishermen. As children, we witnessed men, whose countenance cried of hard work and satisfaction, dock with their haul of Atlantic lobster. The industry lived longer than Marine Atlantic, but is now near the end of palliative care.
The restaurant that perpetually changed names - Jerry’s, Ed’s, Yvonne’s, et al. - no longer hosts the hungry. It is now a place to store personal effects; i.e. things one no longer has need for but cannot part with for sentimental reasons. In a way, our town is very much like those personal effects as it has been stored away from sight by our province.
We had a community doctor once. It was certainly a gift. Alas, with the exodus of jobs and people, no call was made to replace our community doctor upon his retirement. We went from having a doctor visit our homes to driving 25 to 50 kilometres only to wait for several hours before being seen.
Did I mention we had a pharmacy as well?
The only parts of this town that seem to palpitate are the areas where people can “fill-up,” so they can make certain they are able to leave this town, and head toward Charlottetown and vacation areas; it is there that tourists can blind themselves to the realities of our island and enjoy elements of fiction. Sometimes, I think our Trans-Canada highway is simply a narrative device used to put rural P.E.I. on the periphery, and place the city as the focus of one’s vision.
Rural towns, such as our own, can tell you their stories, but visitors choose to read the fiction as they try to escape their own non-fiction. I suppose it is our lot in life as a tourist destination to provide elements of fiction and make sure our visitors get to stay in their preferred genre so that they will return. Oh, life is so much more beautiful when you can choose your setting impetuously, but oh, so, so, so much less authentic.
Our towns are poor but their stories are rich. So please take note, that Charlottetown and Cavendish do not represent who we are, they represent who others want us to be.
Bobby McNally, a native of Borden, now works as a pedagogical consultant for the Cree School Board-Instructional Services in the James Bay area of Quebec.
Global Chorus today is a tough-hitting essay by Afghan war veteran Trevor Greene. An excerpt:
"Ecuador has enshrined the environment in her constitution so that lawsuits can be brought against destroyers of Nature on behalf of rivers, forests and mountains. The Maldives archipelago is slowly being reclaimed by the sea but Maldivians are committed to carbon neutrality by 2020 and every child is educated in sustainability practices. There is an urgency there that can only be engendered by watching your homeland slowly being eaten away." -- Trevor Greene
April 27, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Chris O. and Chris O....
So you can see why it would be easy to confuse the two of us.
Chris O. the NDP candidate was in the news inadvertently yesterday and today, when ballots in District 6 advance polling stations listed his community as Valleyfield and not Stratford. Valleyfield is to the east, hopping over the entire of District 5, Vernon River-Stratford. Everyone says very nice things about Chris van Oewerkerk, NDP or otherwise.
Events this week:
If you have some extra time and wish to volunteer for the Party or the Candidate of your choice during this final week of the campaign, go to their webpage for contact info, or pop into one of their headquarters:
Second of three Advance Provincial Pollings Days, 9AM to 7PM, one location per District (schedule at end of this update),
CBC Leaders' Debate, 6:30PM, live in Summerside (Harbourfront Theatre), or tuning in on CBC TV or Radio.
Tuesday, April 28th:
Federation of Agriculture Leaders' Debate, 7PM, Mutchison Centre, by Pius X church in Charlottetown, off St. Peter's Road. No questions from the floor.
PEI Leadnow / Fair Vote PEI Connect Meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, everyone welcome!
District 16 Cornwall-Meadowbank NDP and Green Candidates joint Meet and Greet, 6:30-8:30PM, Cornwall Town Hall. Jennifer Coughlin (NDP) and Rosalyn Riddlington-Abbott (Green Party) are taking the initiative to host their own social.
Wednesday, April 29th: Federation of Teachers' Debate, 7PM, details later.
Thursday, April 30th:
Guardian Leaders' Debate, 7PM, Murphy Student Centre at UPEI, free but get there by 6:45PM/or watch on Eastlink Cable. "The questions will come from Prince Edward Island voters. Questions can be emailed to email@example.com. Please include the words 'Decision 15 Leaders’ Debate' in the subject line of the email. The Guardian’s editorial board will decide which questions make it to air."
More calendar events here on our website:
In case you are trying to find your candidates, CBC has a nice chart:
Today's Global Chorus is written a person from Fiji island, and troubles climate change will bring.
Sarah Tawaka is the principle Environmental Officer for Fiji, and writes:
"The human race is innovative, creative, dynamic, and above all possesses HOPE! And yet, even though we have seen triumph over adversities throughout the centuries, a new crisis is now at hand, environmental and social. In order to properly address this crisis, humanity needs to invest in planet Earth." -- Sarah Tawaka
April 26, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Bonshaw Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, proceeds going to the McKillop Centre for Social Justice.
David Quilty is author of The Good Human and contributes to a website of the same name
with articles on a variety of topics. He writes:
"As a unit, the human race responds to the truth and there is strength in numbers. Above everything else, education is key to our survival; without it, we won’t be able to make the collective, worldwide effort to find the solutions we need to adapt and survive."
An Earth Day essay from Islander Jill MacCormack
held back for a day when you may have a chance to sit back and enjoy reading it, from her blog (and with her permission), and apologies for poor formatting on my part:
"Healthy soil brings vigorous plants, stronger and smarter people, cultural empowerment, and the wealth of a nation. Bad soil, in short, threatens civilization. We cannot have good food- healthy, sustainable or delicious-without soil filled with life." pg 77 The Third Plate by Dan Barber http://www.thethirdplate.com/
There is no single element of greater importance to overall well being than our soil, yet we ignore and destroy it as readily as we do air and water. Have we forgotten our utter dependence on these elements for our survival? What of the countless number of silent species which also require clean air, clean water and living soil for life as well?
April 22 is Earth Day and 2015 is the International Year of Soils http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/about/en/as declared by the UN. We are midway through a Provincial Election on an Island of tremendous potential but are currently experiencing a social, environmental and economic downturn of epic proportions. What demands can we bring to our politicians to ensure that our topsoil be allowed to regenerate itself? That our waters not be condemned to ever increasing levels of pollution? That clean air becomes a real priority? That all Islanders have a right to a healthy environment? (http://bluedot.ca/)
We all play a role in shaping where we live. Choices we make in our daily lives impact the world as a whole and are intimately reflected in our local environment. How we make use of our land and waters will impact those elements either positively or negatively. The quality of soil is directly related to how it is fed. We as a people are no different. The well being of a civilization is intimately tied to the health of the natural environment that supports that civilization. Why can we not see this? We would do well to look to the Wheat Belt in the US to see what wrath a lack of understanding of the importance of bio-diverse soil has on culture.
"...biological complexity has direct implications for social and cultural robustness...the Wheat Belt's cultural decline is a reflection of its denuded landscape- the product of 'what nature has made of us and what we have made of nature.'" pg 51 The Third Plate by Dan Barber
Prince Edward Island has many gifts yet we do not honour them. As Island historian David Weale has pointed out, we have lost our sense of ourselves and with that we have forgotten our interconnectedness with each other and with all things. I ask, how else could we have allowed our Island to reach a state where fish kills are normalized as something that happens after heavy rains, where topsoil is allowed to be blown to kingdom come in windstorms, where alarmingly high levels of nitrates in our well waters is quietly accepted as an aspect of rural living? How could we have become food insecure in a land that should be able to feed us all without question and why are we seeing the exodus of young Islanders in droves to try and earn a living elsewhere? Our vitality as Islanders depends upon our reacquainting ourselves with a deep sense of our own identity as well as a respect for the well being of our land and waters.
"Our vitality as Islanders depends upon our reacquainting ourselves with a deep sense of our own identity as well as a respect for the well being of our land and waters."
Be willing to ask difficult questions. What is our precious land being used for? Those French fries that North Americans, many Islanders included, so readily eat? GMO crops whose long term safety is still in question? What choices do we make in our daily lives that support such systems of farming? Why, despite our knowing better, are we still swayed by agri-business and the land development interests of corporations? High capacity water wells, hydraulic fracturing, storm water runoff, the burning and burying of our household waste products and chemical spraying of our land are all things that impact the well being of both our soil and waters and issues that all Islanders should be deeply concerned about. We must create a new way of thinking about and relating to our natural environment. We must speak for the silent majority; those microorganisms that inhabit the very ground beneath our feet and upon which the well being of so much depends.
"We must speak for the silent majority; those microorganisms that inhabit the very ground beneath our feet and upon which the well being of so much depends."
Revitalization is not only possible, it is our only hope. But it requires that we be courageous enough to step outside the parameters of how we have been governing things for the past very long while. We must safeguard our land and waters through the implementation of good process in order to achieve comprehensive laws which ensure their long term well being. And we must act as watchdogs of those laws we help to formulate such as the upcoming development of a comprehensive Water Act to govern how Islanders utilize this vital resource.
Solutions are all around us but they require that we move away from idle chatter and return to listening to the land. The Earth has a language too (pg 57 The Third Plate by Dan Barber) and our Island soil and waters have much to say to a willing listener. It's time we all became better listeners and advocates for these silent elements of our Island. One way to do this is to use your hard earned money to support those whose farming methods promote a living soil, clean air and water. Another way is to engage in meaningful dialogue with local farmers to hear their concerns and express your thoughts to your local candidate for MLA, and/or converse with fellow Islanders such as those involved with formulating a new Vision for PEI, called VisionPEI https://www.facebook.com/visionPEI.
After all, we have come from soil and to soil we shall return. We must act now for the well being of future generations of life on this Island.
"Land then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals...." pg 104 The Sacred Balance by David Suzuki http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/books/the-sacred-balance/
Happy Earth Day 2015 --Love the Earth
April 25, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today is the first advance poll of this provincial election.
It is from 9AM to 7PM, at these locations --only one location per District:
If you do not know your District, try typing your address in here:
advance polls like today (Saturday -- 9AM to 7PM) may be easier for those who do not work in their district. Or the advance poll station may be more convenient to get to than the one on election day.
even if you didn't register, or didn't get a card, or forgot where you put it, GO ANYWAY. They will check their lists and if you aren't on it, you can take the oath and vote then.
You do NOT need any identification -- that's for federal stuff. It's your oath as a decent person (well, that's not how it's written, but you get it)
If you registered on-line in the past week, you won't get a card or may not have made the list. Go anyway.
(And if you are undecided, there are only about six more forums/debates in the coming week to see how the leaders compare ;-) Monday night's is at Harbourfront, hosted by the CBC, is a real debate format, I am told, and will be broadcast on CBC Radio and TV.)
Other advance polling dates are:
this Monday, April 27th
this Friday, May 1st
same location as today's, 9AM to 7PM. And Election Day is Monday, May 4th.
The Sierra Club Family Earth Expo is today, 12:30 - 4PM, Farm Centre, something for everyone.
Cinema Politica films for Earth Day, 7PM, Farm Centre, admission by donation. From their press release:
Bone Wind Fire is an intimate and evocative journey into the hearts, minds and eyes of Georgia O'Keefe, Emily Carr and Frida Kahlo—three of the 20th century's most remarkable artists. Each woman had her own response to her environment, to the people that surrounded her and to the artistic or practical challenges she faced in wringing beauty and truth from her particular time and place.
Disruption examines this unique moment in history - an age of tipping points and rapid social and planetary change. We’re the first generation to feel the impacts of climate disruption, and the last generation that can do something about it. The film enlarges the issue beyond climate impacts and makes a compelling call for bold action strong enough to tip the balance.
Global Chorus is written by Mireya Mayor, a 40-something American anthropologist and wildlife expert, http://mireyamayor.com/
"Nature’s resilience and human determination should not be undermined. The destruction of our planet is preventable. Although humans are largely responsible for much of this destruction – pollution, deforestation and global climate change – we also are its best hope for survival." -- Mireya Mayor
April 24, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
As the Citizens' Alliance focuses on encouraging engagement in the democratic process, we produced a brochure with a some questions Islanders could consider asking candidates.
The Citizens' Alliance questions brochure that we are putting up in public places.
and the back encourages people to vote and provides our contact information and that of Elections PEI. The text of the questions is at the end of this update.
We have been putting them in a few places here and there, especially in a some seniors' manors where a lot of election materials don't get left. You may see them on community notice boards in public places. They are bright yellow!
But you won't find them at the public libraries. Our provincial library service people are great, wonderful people. But when it was checked by the supervisor, the request to display it in the libraries was declined (the community part of those branches in community spaces -- no problem, just not in the library). I was told (by again, the fantastic staff people),but I was told that the communications officer would be happy to explain the decision. Having other things to do this week, I declined. A little while later it clicked that the library service is part of the Department of Tourism, and the communications officer now is the guy who was at Transportation during most of the Plan B highway opposition; he most vigorously defended Plan B. I was annoyed for about 27 seconds, then just laughed.
We'll have some at the Earth Day celebration, tomorrow from 12:30 to 4PM, at the Farm Centre, and other places.
NDP Leader Mike Redmond is on CBC Radio after the 7:30AM news today, with the political panel after the 8AM news.
And it's launching a video ad!
Here is yesterday's hour long Leaders' conversation on Ocean 100 (I haven't listened to it all yet):
A thoughtful opinion regarding the forum on Tourism a while back (link here and then the text):
Majority of Leaders Missing the Point - The Journal Pioneer Letter to the Editor
published on April 14th, 2015, in The Journal-Pioneer
A few days ago, the first P.E.I. election debate was held in Charlottetown where four party leaders spoke about promoting tourism.
The Green Party Leader, Peter-Bevan Baker, stood out amongst them, with his long term plan to provide visitors with a pristine and authentic experience, quoting P.E.I.’s heritage, landscapes and rural customs as some of the many things that make this small province unique.
The Liberal Leader, Premier MacLauchlan, believes his government’s role is marketing through engagement with the industry.
The Conservative Leader, Rob Lantz, said the government’s role is to promote an authentic P.E.I. experience.
The NDP Leader, Mike Redmond, proposed restoring the province’s film and TV tax credits.
Over 20 years ago, before living here, we regularly visited P.E.I., vacationing on this clean, beautiful island. We breathed fresh air and drank pure well water. We explored white sandy beaches with dunes, enjoyed salty Atlantic waves, admiring shells, sea-glass and small pebbles. We drove through rolling lands, between green fields, hilly landscapes and forests, following enticing, winding roads to red cliffs and rocky beaches.
We experienced cultural events, meeting local people, learning about their customs: the Mi’kmaq and their yearly powwows; Roma’s settlement in Brudenell; The Acadians’ rich tradition of music, dancing, language and cuisine, their festivals and charming museum. The list of cultural, historic sites in P.E.I. would be impressive by any standards.
Besides all this there are exquisite small fishing ports, busy fish plants, potato farmers, windmill farms, small entrepreneurial businesses – and we haven’t even mentioned the outdoor sporting opportunities. There is no end to the tourist potential of P.E.I.
Why then were the leaders, with the exception of Peter Bevan-Baker, so inhibited and limited in their ideas? Because, as one of them stated, they are not tourism experts. My answer would be, because they think like politicians, somewhat removed from everyday life.
Bevan-Baker speaks passionately as an Islander who cares for the future of the Island, with common sense, honesty and a long-term plan to correct and improve the aspects of life here which matter most to “real” people. The other three speak with short-term “band-aid” fixes – in other words, like the politicians with whom we’ve lived until now. Is this a good plan for the future of our province?
Klaus Carter, Richmond
A excerpt from today's Global Chorus:
"In short, we need to reinvent growth."
— Osvald Bjelland, of the Global Leadership and Technology Exchange
Questions from the CA brochure:
Questions about the Democratic Process:
The Government of PEI has often made policy decisions without public consultation. Recent examples are the Plan B highway re-alignment project, implementation of HST and the elimination of the English Language School Board.
If you are elected, and your party is in favour of a piece of legislation that the majority of your constituents are against, how would you vote?
After years of patronage, lack of transparency, and dominant corporate sector influence, there is a lack of trust in government decisions.
How much influence do you believe the corporate sector has on major policy decisions? What would be your first priority to correct these recurring problems? Canada is actually now the most unstable of the major democracies, with twenty-one elections since World War II to Italy’s eighteen. In Prince Edward Island, 40% of the vote gets you just 19% of the seats. But bump that up to 50%, and your party sweeps to a dominant 81% majority. Proportional representation is any voting system designed to produce a representative body (like a parliament, legislature, or council) where voters elect representatives in proportion to our votes.
Would you support province-wide education and public consultations on proportional representation for PEI, leading to a binding referendum?
For more information on Proportional Representation visit:
Questions about the Environment:
Would you support protection for those who call attention to harmful practices and failures to protect the environment through whistle blower legislation?
Would you support legislation that provided better access to information and fuller public participation in decision making on environmental issues?
Would you support an Environmental Bill of Rights which affirms that: All people have the right to live in a healthy environment, including the right to breathe clean air, the right to drink clean water, the right to access to safe food?
And where the Party Leaders are today, Friday, April 24th:
April 23, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Forum vs. debate vs. presentations
There have been several gatherings of the provincial party leaders during this short election time with time for them to express their views and those of their party. There seems to be a reluctance in the set-up for an exchange or discussion of ideas between candidates. Most of us are sure that these four party leaders can discuss issues without resorting to insults or blows.
On a District level, there have been a range of chances for the candidates to discuss ideas. In the Eastern part of the Island, it looked like there was a coordinated effort to host candidates' forum. Sounds great. It doesn't appear that there is any coordinated listing of District all-candidates' events. Any group of citizens could offer to host a "meet and greet" if they feel like there has been little opportunity for residents to talk to candidates in such a messy, busy spring. A location and date, contacting the candidates or their managers, and some light refreshments is about all that is needed.
In District 17, Kelly's Cross - Cumberland, there is a presentation tonight at Englewood Elementary School in Crapaud at 6:30PM. The candidates will be able to speak for a certain number of minutes on specific topics in specific order. No questions from the floor are permitted. With such a short election time (19 working days), it was evidently challenging for other groups to set up debates.
Here is one location of the video from the Leaders' Forum on the Environment from Tuesday night,part 1. On the side would be a link to part 2.
Liberal leader Wade MacLauchlan is on Island Morning at 7:37 or so this morning.
All the party leaders will be on Ocean 100 at 9AM this morning.
Friday, April 24th, Island Nature Trust fundraising dinner, 6PM- onward, Red Shores. Info at INT office: (902) 892-7513 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, April 25th, Family Earth Expo, 12:30-4PM, Farm Centre, many, many booths and things to see and do.
If you haven't heard of the Star Wars-themed ad about the PEI Film Industry, I won't spoil the surprise. About 3 minutes.
Global Chorus for today is by Van Jones, an American civil rights and environmental activist
who starts his practical essay with:
"The chief problems our world faces today are radical social inequality and radical environmental destruction. But there is a solution. We can solve both problems by creating millions of green jobs to put people to work in industries that will heal both our economic suffering and the Earth." -- Van Jones
April 22, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Earth Day!
Part of JoDee Samuelson's "Green is Green" series, reprinted by permission.
Holland College is having an Earth day event around noon, all welcome; and there will be a Sierra Club (and others) event Saturday afternoon at the Farm Centre.
The night before Earth Day was the forum for the Leaders on the Environment Forum. It was very well planned, and very well attended by the public (over 200; the lecture theatre was packed).
Liberal leader Wade MacLauchlan, Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker, NDP leader Mike Redmond, and PC leader Rob Lantz, Tuesday, April 21st, 2015, Holland College MacKinnon Theatre, CO photo from the back row.
All the candidates did a fine job preparing for the questions and answering thoughtfully. Carolyn Peach Brown kept the evening moving and had fine dry wit as the moderator, and kept it from being a pep rally, though the audience broke out in applause at times of intense affirmation of what a speaker said.
I made a chart of leaders, questions and answers but it's too big for today and needs the notes tidied up. Perhaps if there is interest, it can get included another day. Obviously, the Green and NDP policies are the most environmentally progressive, but Rob Lantz and his PC plans were definitely aware of issues. Rob mentioned that progressive conservatives and conservation share the root "conserve". Surprisingly, Mr. MacLauchlan and his policies seemed the less solidly supportive of addressing the environment as a whole and making any sort of transition to deal with the environmental/agricultural future ahead. The Greens' policies are the most holistic. Mike Redmond made the connection between household income and being able to access good, nutritious food. Mike also had the most quips, including talking about trying to stop swearing so much but being happy to say, "No fracking way!" regarding hydraulic fracturing on P.E.I., and calling Stephen Harper's ordering the province to stop dumping sewage into the Hillsborough Harbour "a paradox".
On main points, MacLauchlan would not commit to a ban on fracking (the Tories used the term "moratorium"). Nor would MacLauchlan commit to our province calling for a ban on drilling in the Gulf. No one clapped.
An excerpt from the Earth Day Global Chorus essay:
"It is not enough to say “I love children”; we are now called upon to take meaningful peaceful action in times of conflict and destruction to remember that our defending be layered with collective sacred love of all children. Let our actions unfold the future. Let us be Idle No More."— Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum),
Nehiyaw indigenous knowledge keeper
co-founder of Idle No More, Turtle Island, Treaty 6 lands
April 21, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today is the last day to be *registered* to vote in the May 4th provincial election.
You can register here, and you may still get a card in the mail.
Check here to see if you are on the list:
and if you need to register:
or contact your returning officer to see what's up:
(list printed at end of this News or go to this link:)
You can still vote on May 4th, registered or not; you require some sort of identification when you go to your poll.
Tonight, the Party Leaders' Forum on the Environment -- 7PM, MacKinnon Lecture Theatre, 7PM.
Leaders' schedules today:
Wade MacLauchlan (Liberal) is campaigning in District 9 (Tracedie-Hillsborough Park) this morning and District 18 (Rustico-Emerald) this afternoon, with a stop at Blue Bay Farms in South Rustico at 10:30AM.
Peter Bevan-Baker (Green) is recording radio ads this morning and canvassing in his District (17 Kellys Cross-Cumberland).
Rob Lantz (PC) is on CBC Radio this morning from 7:30-8AM, at a primary industries news conference in Frenchfort from 10-11AM, and spending the afternoon campaigning in East Prince this afternoon.
Mike Redmond and all the other Party Leaders will be at the Environment Forum at 7PM tonight.
Liberal Leader Wade MacLauchlan announced some school projects yesterday if his party (re)forms government, including this part:
"A doubling of funding for school breakfast and lunch programs. Food for these programs must be healthy and locally purchased." (quote from media story)
Sounds good, but purchased local food is different than local food. One can go buy a plastic container of strawberries from Mexico, at a local grocery store. That does make it locally purchased, and helps the local store person. But there is an argument that it's not really about local food if the food doesn't come from P.E.I.
Lawson Drake was Dean of Science at UPEI from 1985 to 1991.
He write for today's Global Chorus:
My abbreviated concept of reality is that we have given “economic growth” priority over all else and that we regard our Earth and its resident species as source and servant of economic growth. We have lost the ethic of living with respect in Creation; we are no longer in awe of the intricate web relating ourselves to our fellow species and all species to the environment – the web we call “ecology.” -- Lawson Drake
David Suzuki and others remind us that the root of "ecology" and "economy" is the same -- from Latin oeco- meaning "household" and then from Greek oikos- meaning "house" (ecology being the study of the home, and economy, the management of the home).
P.S. Returning Officer list:
April 20, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight, there are simultaneous forums for residents, Stratford having residents in both District 5 and District 6. It is good for citizens that the format is one where residents can ask questions, as opposed to hearing presentations, only.
District 5 -- Vernon River-Stratford, 7PM, Vernon River Consolidated School, sponsored by the Eastern PEI Chamber (of Commerce, presumably). (Candidates: Nick Graveline -- Green, Mary Ellen McInnis -- PC, Alan McIsaac - Liberal, Kathleen Romans -- NDP)
District 6 -- Stratford-Kinlock, 7:30PM, Stratford Town Hall, sponsored by the Town of Stratford (Candidates: James Aylward -- PC, David Dunphy -- Liberal, Samantha Saunders - Green, and Chris van Ouwerkerk -- NDP). (please note that Chris van Ouwerkerk and I are two different people :-) )
The notice in The Guardian is printed at the end of this News.
screenshot from YouTube video on the 5th anniversary of the BP Oil spill -- 1,825 days later -- "Were did all the oil go?"
Here is a 4 minute video -- a beautifully illustrated video -- on where the oil has gone from the BP spill, which was five years ago today:
Some recent articles on the BP oil spill, from the U.K.'s The Guardian:
Oil drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is likely to be a question posed to each of the four provincial political party leaders at the Forum on Environment, on Tuesday, April 21st, starting at 7PM at MacKinnon Lecture Theatre of Holland College. Please consider coming to this forum, if you can make it to any Members of the audience will have a chance to pose questions after the "formal" questions, and lots of people there will remind the leaders how much we care about our Island's health and future.
Many more events regarding the election and Earth Day and such are listed here on the Citizens' Alliance Clearinghouse Calendar:
The "What is in a Water Act?" workshop was very good yesterday.I was whiny earlier in the day about spending the time inside and it having not much about anything relating to the provincial election campaign, but it has a lot to do with it, of course. The panelists described concerns re: regulation of our groundwater for agricultural and other purposes, and what things we should consider in the act, and how the public can be involved and stay involved meaningfully.More to come.
Afterward, the national "Connect the Blue Dots" event was celebrated locally by gathering around a blue dot and a lot of Blue Dot PEI postcards, and I took this picture:
Folks "connecting the Blue Dots PEI" at Kensington Legion, Sunday, April 19th, 2015. Beautiful people.
Liz Hosken is a director of The Gaia Foundation, which describes itself: "In collaboration with our partners, we work with communities who are committed to reviving and enhancing their cultural and biological diversity, which is the foundation of resilience, especially now in the context of climate change. We do this by supporting communities to build on their own knowledge, to strengthen their cohesion, livelihoods and self-governance and to regenerate their ecosystems and local economies." from: http://www.gaiafoundation.org/how-we-work
Global Chorus for April 20th begins with her writing:
"Creating the conditions for a future in which the
entire Earth Community is able to thrive demands
nothing less than a total U-turn in our thinking. It
requires us, the architects of our global crises, to emphatically
restore a respectful relationship with the Earth, our source of life." --Liz Hosken
P.S. From today's Guardian:
April 19, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
To date no enumerators have come up my driveway; but the ground is far, far from dry.
From yesterday's Guardian:
screenshot from Guardian page A3 from Saturday, April 18th, 2015
A couple of comments about that notice: It's a typical bland, small print small ad in the bottom corner of a page, as if it is saying, "You weren't thinking of voting, right?"
The terms "voter" and "elector" are used to mean the same thing (i.e., you).
This is the first I have seen that the deadline to be on the voters' rolls is this Tuesday, April 21st
More confusion when the voter/elector is given two messages as to how to fix the problem ("You may also" as opposed to "OR")
-- figure out who the returning officer is (those ads appear other days) and contact him or her, or go on-line and maybe figure out how to register that way.
Most people will figure it all out, but it's the little speedbumps that can turn into roadblocks. Registering to vote is relatively easy, apparently no actual ID involved. If it turns out you are not on the roll at your polling station you can "swear an oath" and still vote that day. But that may be more time and drama than you want.
To check to see if you are on the voters' list, by going to this url and typing your info in the specific boxes:
It comes back you are or you aren't.
If you try and aren't, then a link pops up on that page for on-line registration.
The contact information for the District Returning Officers' list is here:
If you want to check your District and polling station (whether you are registered or not) and when and where you can vote on voting day (Monday, May 4th, 9AM to 7PM) or the advance polls (9, 7, and 3 days before an election) so Saturday, April 25th, Monday, April 27th, and Friday, May 1st, go to:
or use The Guardian's interactive-but-clunky google map here:
Some Election FAQ are here:
Good for trivia with your friends and family.
And (finally), if you want to see very nice colour-coded lists of the candidates in your District:
Kenny Ausubel is cited in today's Global Chorus as founding Bioneers, which is a non-profit organization "dedicated to disseminating breakthrough solutions for restoring people and planet. He launched the annual Bioneers Conference in 1990", celebrating its 25th conference this October in California." (from http://www.bioneers.org/staff/kenny-ausubel/)
A bioneer, coined by Kenny Ausubel, is a social and scientific innovator who mimics "nature's operating instructions to serve human ends."
Kenny Ausubel calls on us to reimagine our world in the April 19th Global Chorus essay:
"The Mayan people call this epic threshold the
'Time of No Time.' Ohki Siminé Forest, a Canadian Wisdom keeper of Mohawk descent,
describes it this way:
'From here on, we’re on Earth time.
Mother Earth is shaking to her core. It’s a
time of madness, disconnection and hyperindividualism.
It’s also a time when new energies are coming into the world,
when people are growing a new skin.' " -- Kenny Ausubel
The LAMP Workshop on "What is a Water Act?" is at 2PM today at the Kensington Legion -- perhaps a quick e-mail or phone call to Maureen Larkin email@example.com or (902) 620-4878, just to let her know, if you could still make it. Everyone is welcome.
This workshop will be followed by a Blue Dot PEI "drop in" at 4PM, if you are in the area and weren't at the workshop, to coincide with a nationwide environmental rights connection.
"Connect the Blue Dots is a national day of action to celebrate the growing number of Canadians who believe in the right to live in a healthy environment. On Sunday, April 19, people will gather together in communities across Canada and show how big the Blue Dot Movement really is.
We know that lasting change happens when everyday people come together to show our leaders the future we really want. Join us on April 19 as we connect from coast to coast to coast to protect the people and places we love." -- from Blue Dot.ca
More details about options for P.E.I events here: https://www.facebook.com/events/651918171605362/
April 18, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Journal-Pioneer editorial cartoonist has a sense of humour:
editorial cartoon by Wayne Wright for this week's Journal-Pioneer, referring to when farmer (and Green Party candidate) Ranald MacFarlane asked questions during a Liberal party photo op/announcement earlier this week.
A little shaded in the glare from Justin Trudeau's visit, and the #IBelieveinWade / #ITrustWade ads, NDP Leader Mike Redmond announced yesterday that an NDP government would ban cosmetic pesticides with provincial legislation.
Full press release here:
Sunday, April 19th:
LAMP Workshop on "What's in a Water Act?", 2-4PM, Kensington Legion.
At 4PM, all are invited to participate in a Blue Dot PEI Connect the Dots event, by dropping in and we will take some pictures with the environmental rights declaration postcards.
You can also take photos of yourself with cards (or just making a "blue dot") and posting it on the Facebook page -- Blue Dot PEI -- no matter where you are on P.E.I.
The Dalai Lama! For April 18th's Global Chorus. He writes a beautiful essay, and here is one lovely tendril:
"I feel it is extremely important that each individual realize their responsibility for preserving the environment, to make it a part of daily life, create the same attitude in their families, and spread it to the community." -- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
April 17, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Friday morning during an election means the CBC Island Morning radio show will have its political panel on after the 7:30AM news. This week, Green party supporter Roy Johnstone will be there (alternating from last week with the NDP's Joe Byrne), in addition to host Matt Rainnie, publisher Paul MacNeill, Mary Lynn Kane for the Liberals, and Wayne Collins to boost the Tories.
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is here for candidates in the Liberal party in Summerside yesterday, and western PEI today.
Federal Deputy Green Party Leader Bruce Hyer and New Brunswick MLA David Coon are also on the Island today.
(As an aside:
Earlier this week, Trudeau did a half hour interview about his pledge to help CBC, here:
he was the third and last of the party leaders to agree to talk with the "Friends of CBC" group about the CBC cuts. The Federal Conservatives did not offer to talk about the CBC.)
screenshot from The Guardian page A4, for Friday, April 17th, 2015.
From the provincial NDP office, today:
Environmental Announcement, 10AM, Outside Charlottetown City Hall, 199 Queen Street.
Here is a clear explanation of what's going on with the cosmetic pesticide issue in Charlottetown:
Stratford has decided to hold a closed door council meeting next week with invitations for presentations by industry representatives, and by the anti-cosmetic pesticide group Pesticide Free PEI. From Roger Gordon's posting on Facebook:
"I wonder if people are aware that on April 29, Stratford Town Council is holdina closed door meeting at which various groups are invited to make presentations on the concept and logistics of a lawn pesticide ban. That's right. Not a public meeting. So much for the town's so-titled 'engagement strategy.' Among the groups are the Canadian cancer Soc and the Medical community, also Pesticide Free PEI (I'll be making a presentation). But, guess what? Crop Life, the multibillion dollar multinational pesticide lobby group and the lawn spraying companies, none of whom reside in Stratford, are also invited to make presentations. Each group can bring 4 representatives.
If the town were contemplating a ban on smoking in restaurants (already done, incidentally) and on town property, would it invite the big tobacco companies to present their cases? Not only is the course chartered undemocratic, it is ridiculous." -- Stratford resident and retired biologist Roger Gordon
Tonight and tomorrow are the last two showings of Our Town by the ACT company. More details here:
Vivienne Westwood, who is famous as a UK fashion designer, authors an unusual website called Climate Revolution:
http://climaterevolution.co.uk/wp/ with articles and commentary.
She writes the April 17th Global Chorus essay:
"If we don’t stop climate change now, we will have runaway climate change which will accelerate beyond our control. It will eventually stop at a temperature so hot that if you were to draw a line level with Paris, the land below that line will be too hot to live in. here will be mass extinction of all life, including us. The first thing we need to know is what’s going on, how it all its together and how we it in. Then we will know what to do. Climate change is caused by our rotten financial system. This system is designed to create mass poverty and to siphon of any profits for a few, namely big business. This system is backed up by politics and by war.
Everything is connected – the power structure needs its victims to prove its power and maintain it. Culture is especially important. We live in a global consumer society – no matter how poor you are, this is the ethic. Consumers just suck things up, whereas true culture is acquired by investing in the world,
by learning all the best that has ever been shown, thought and said. From this you review and criticize all the received opinions and stock notions (propaganda) of the present age. Armed with knowledge, you think. You get out what you put in. Go to art galleries, find out the names of trees, read, etc. You will get of the consumer treadmill and change your values and aspirations.
Two things that are practical to do: support Greenpeace in its campaign to save the Arctic, and support Cool Earth in its campaign to save the rainforest.
We need to get out on the streets and campaign, therefore, because it’s all connected – demonstrate whenever you can with speciic NGOs in the hope that we can all group together in global demonstrations where everything is connected.
Climate Revolution! 'Get a Life.' " - Vivienne Westwood
April 16, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Sunday, April 19th, Workshop, "What's in a Water Act?", 2-4PM, Kensington Legion Hall, RSVP to Maureen Larkin firstname.lastname@example.org or (902) 620-4878. Discussion preparing for first round of public consultations, with moderator Catherine O'Brien.
More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/402592789920606/
This workshop will be followed by a Blue Dot PEI "drop in" at 4PM, if you are in the area, to coincide with a nationwide environmental rights connection. More details about the day's events here: https://www.facebook.com/events/651918171605362/ and tomorrow.
Social media allows little tendrils of communication, young and older, talented or not, you can tell a story or send a message.
Alan Hicken, running for the NDP in District 4 Belfast-Murray River, has a blog here:
and also tweeted a photo of a table with two chairs filled and two chairs vacant at last night's forum for party leaders sponsored by the Federation of Labour. NDP Leader Mike Redmond and Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker both attended. I don't know if it was recorded for people not there to take in at a later date.
There are many forums on specific areas of interest, and it's a short campaign time (only 17 days left, according to the countdown clock on the NDP website:http://www.ndppei.ca/ )
Kerry Campbell of CBC news is writing a weekly column here:
and I appreciate how he steps back and does some fact checking.
Here's what The Guardian says for today:
screenshot from today, Thursday, April 16th, 2015, in The Guardian
From today's Global Chorus, by Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, vice-president of Conservation International, former Minister of Environment and Energy for Costa Rica (bold is mine):
"My country, Costa Rica, is a good example of a nation that has committed to a new development path where all development policies must rely on a healthy natural capital. In the last 25 years, Costa Rica has tripled its income per capita and doubled its population while halting deforestation and doubling the forested area – proving that growth and social development can go hand in hand with ambitious conservation and restoration targets. This effort in protecting our natural capital has generated economic and business opportunities based on our condition as a global biodiversity hotspot.
In Costa Rica, ecotourism and nature-based tourism are the main drivers of economic growth, generating $2.2-billion annually to the local economy. Locally farmers and indigenous communities are being paid for the various environmental services provided by their forest in terms of carbon, water and biodiversity. This innovative financial mechanism known as payments for environmental services addresses market failures where environmental contributions are overlooked, and recognizes the value and contribution of Nature to human well-being and economic growth. Lessons coming from Costa Rica in terms of innovative sustainable development policies and tools can indeed contribute to abate global challenges related to climate change and loss of biodiversity and freshwater stocks.
The shift towards a new development model must rely on respect for all human rights – including the right to development, the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to food -- and must also hinge upon the importance of freedom, peace and security, the rule of law, gender equality and women’s empowerment and the overall commitment to just and democratic societies for development." -- Carlos Manuel Rodriguez
April 15, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Odds and ends:
Today, noon, tickets become available for the CBC Party Leaders' Debate, which will be the evening of Monday, April 27th, Harbourfront Theatre, Summerside.
Local (902) 888-2500, Toll Free (800) 708-6505
Parties will also have tickets, but I am not sure of any details of that distirbution.
An event tomorrow:
Thursday, April 16th:
Community Forum on BIG (Basic Income Guarantee), 6:30-8:30PM, Murphy's Community Centre, 200 Richmond St., Charlottetown. More info: email@example.com or (902) 894-4573 (877) 894-4573
The UPEI Student Union has a wonderful site for students regarding the election.
The Party Leaders' Forum on Women's Issues from Holland College's from yesterday is recorded (audio and video) in its entirety here:
The PEI Cancer Society has called on a provincial ban on cosmetic pesticides:
and has developed a survey and hoping to gauge Islanders concerns about cancer, its causes and treatments. Considering it is from an organization fighting cancer rates, it's not entirely neutral in its tone, but will still gather very useful trends based on good numbers of participants. It is also relatively short, about five minutes.
Global Chorus features Norwegian Svein Tveitdal, former UN director, about carbon emissions, and echoes what the Green Economy Network says: "Of course there is hope, and we are able! But we must ensure that renewable energy gets cheaper than fossil energy, thereby making the market the very engine of the green shift. Today, fossil energy receives subsidies of more than 500 billion dollars annually, or more than six times the allocations to renewable energy. World leaders should agree on cutting subsidies from fossil energy and increase the support of renewable energy accordingly, thus truly boosting a rapid green shift. When we succeed in establishing a truly global grassroots movement, we will have the necessary power to combat the fossil industries’ pollution before it is too late." -- Svein Tveitdal
April 14, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
This morning is the forum on Women's Issues for the provincial political party leaders, 10AM to noon, Holland College's CAST building Boardroom (which is big), 300 Kent Street. It can be accessed from both Kent and Grafton Streets. All welcome. It will also be simulcast here: http://www.hcsu.ca/
An interesting commentary piece in last week's Guardian by Ole Hammarlund:
"I Want My First Vote to Count" - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Ole Hammarlund
Published on Monday, April 6th, 2015
New citizen, long-time resident debates riding of choice
I just got my right to vote last fall. Now I can vote in a local election for the very first time in my life. I am 73-years-old.
This is entirely my own doing. I was born in Denmark, immigrated to the U.S. and then to Canada 40 years ago and never got around to getting my citizenship until now.
Of course there never was much incentive to get the right to vote here. With the first past the post system practised here and in the US, chances are that your vote makes little difference. If you vote for one of the main parties, chances are 50/50 that your vote will make some difference. If you are a voter like me and consider alternate parties like NDP or Green, your vote will make no difference whatsoever. Nil. Zero. Wasted.
I am from a proportional representation country. That means that my vote, whatever riding it is cast in, helps elect representatives from my chosen party. In other words, even though I live in Charlottetown, I should be able to cast an NDP vote here and be sure the vote would help elect Dickinson in Tignish. If only we had proportional representation.
Now that I have a vote, I want it to count. I do not want to wait for the politicians to make the reform. It may not happen in my lifetime.
Last night I had a revelation: I could exercise my right to vote for my choice of person simply by moving to the riding of my choice.
To make sure that this was a feasible idea I went to consult the P.E.I. Chief Electoral Officer Gary McLeod.
I found out from him that the key issue was to move before the writ, and to be there when their staff did the enumeration. He indicated you had to live in the riding, but offered no clear definition of what that meant. He also explained that on election night, even if you were not on the voters list, you could vote by simply declaring you were a resident of the riding and eligible to vote.
It is not unusual for Canadians to have more than one home. Many have summer cottages and snowbirds have a winter home in Florida. Revenue Canada stipulates that only one dwelling can be declared your ‘home’ for tax purposes, but there is no limit on the number of homes you can have, nor do you have to explain why you live there.
I have decided to have another residence, my voting residence, in a certain rural riding, where my added vote would make a difference. This Monday morning I officially moved my mailing address to Argyle Shore and arranged accommodations with good friends there.
Does this mean that I have moved there every day of the year? No, it is just one of my many residences. This is not my summer residence, not my winter residence, not my travel residence. This is my voting residence.
There must be other voters who are frustrated with the ridiculous voting system in P.E.I., and the resulting corruption and incompetence. Please exercise your right to have your vote count, by establishing your voting residence in a riding where it counts. Why vote if your vote is wasted?
Will I stay long at Argyle Shore? No. After the election I will move back to Charlottetown, at least until the next federal or provincial election.
Ole Hammarlund is an architect practising in Charlottetown. He is hard fellow to pin down: He is often found at the Y Lofts, but also found at the Princely Housing Co-op or at Spunky Root cottage in Launching or travelling outside Canada.
Pam Cooley, a social entrepreneur in Nova Scotia who co-founded CarShareHalifax, writes in today's Global Chorus:
"Humanity is dependent on the Earth and its resources. On this planet 'we grow it, mine it, fish it, drink it and breathe it'– that’s all we have to work with! How we do those things are indicators of humanity’s collective intelligence and our values. I believe we can do better.
I think the survival of humanity depends directly on humans learning 'collaboration' instead of the old paradigm of 'power over' Nature or other humans.
My friend Maggie, who grew up on a farm, has the best definition of collaboration. It is 'people coming together to achieve for the benefit of themselves and others.' I believe collaboration is the new 'survival of the fittest.'
True collaboration requires us to recognize 'interdependence', meaning we are part of this massive system of interconnectedness where everything that exists is dependent on something or someone else. Collaboration requires us to recognize that our existence is an intricately woven tapestry of everything in our lives. Interdependence means that everything we do affects others and they affect us. Our understanding and scope of interdependence has grown with the
evolution of technologies. We now live in a global interdependence because of technology." -- Pam Cooley
April 13, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some Reminders for Today:
It is the last day for public comment on the Bonshaw side of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands first management plan. Details here:
Presentation, John Sylvester with "A Photographic Journey Along PEI's Heritage Rivers", 7PM, Hillsborough River Association AGM, Stratford Town Hall, all welcome.
"During the summer of 2012, I paddled a good portion of PEI's Heritage Rivers while creating images for the Canadian River Heritage Conference, held in Charlottetown that year. I'll be showing some of the images at the Hillsborough River Association AGM."-- photographer John Sylvester
Fora fora fora
There are several times the four provincial political party leaders are meeting to discuss issues on a particular theme before the May 4th election, which is in 20 days. This list is not complete at all, but perhaps there will be times you can attend one or another in person, or watch or listen on-line then or later.
Tuesday, April 14th,
On Women's Issues, 10AM-12noon, Holland College Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Building, 3rd Floor Boardroom (seats 120), both Grafton Street and Kent Street entrances.
"We are thrilled that leaders of the Green, Liberal, Progressive Conservative and New Democratic Parties will gather for the first forum on women’s issues since 1986. Jill Lightwood will moderate the forum and representatives from over ten community organizations will pose questions inspired by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women Equality Report Card. The forum will be live streamed at http://www.hcsu.ca/ " -- from the Facebook event. All welcome.
Tuesday, April 21st
On the Environment, 7-9PM, Holland College MacKinnon Lecture Theatre, Kent Street entrance. Hosted by a host of environmental organizations. All welcome. More info:
Wednesday, April 22nd
On Island Business, 7:45AM - 9:30AM, Delta Prince Edward Hotel, hosted by the Greater Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce. $35 per member/$40 non-member. More info:
from this past Saturday, April 11th, Home and School Federation's Forum. Questions asked and audio of event are here, video coming:
from Thursday, April 9th, the Tourism Association of PEI Forum audio link (this was sent out previously):
Lots of opportunities for the party Leaders, but keep in mind that in each District there are likely three or four candidates running, and it would be interesting to hear them discuss issues together. Perhaps a community organization wants to set up a candidates' debate -- Women's Institutes, schools, chambers of commerce, or even an individual or two. While not experts on this, the Citizens' Alliance could offer some suggestions.
Leaders are hosting many events in Districts, some listed on their websites, and all the website have gotten spiffy:
The NDP has a clever little countdown clock on their website (towards the bottom), and the whole site has been newly renovated:
And Federal Liberal Justin Trudeau is coming to P.E.I. Thursday (Summerside area)
and all the info about elections at Elections PEI http://www.electionspei.ca/
Global Chorus for today is written by Dedan Gills, who is co-founder of the Growing a Global Heart Project, and has "pioneered the idea of 'Green Recovery'-- a concept that combines stewardship and restoration of blighted urban area with an engaged dialogic process designed to restore the integrity of souls wounded by the rush of modern urban reality." -- a quote from:
"I see humanity entering into a period of conscious and intentional withdrawal from the hypnotic influence of modern, consumer-based culture. I see this new awakening led and inspired by the marginalized and disenfranchised people of the Earth. Many of them are already teaching us how to live like the forest that recycles itself and lives forever.
"I see humanity declaring peace and ending our ancient war with ourselves, our beloved biosphere, and each other. I see us planting millions of trees across the Earth and having ceremonies and rituals that honour the spirit and memory of the dead and vanquished we have let in our bloody and tragic wake. I see us building new and qualitative relationships with each other and the planet as we lower the level of deadly carbon and raise the levels of love, compassion and community."-- Dedan Gills
April 12, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Watershed Alliance AGM was a lot of fun (the part I was there for, which were the talks), and they are already practicing open government and will have all the presentations on their website in short order. :-)
Today is the final concert of the PEI Symphony Orchestra for this season, at 2:30PM at Zion Presbyterian Church, Prince Street by Grafton, Charlottetown. I am assured the acoustics are actually superior at Zion than at the Homburg Theatre, especially when one is in the balcony. Tickets are available at the door, and it's about $44 for adults, $40 for seniors and $15 for students, and you can choose where you sit.
Here is the political panel from CBC Radio Island Morning on Friday, April 10th:
It runs about 17 minutes long. "Paul MacNeill is joined by former Tory MLA & broadcaster Wayne Collins, Liberal campaign spokeswoman Mary Lynn Kane and the federal NDP candidate for Charlottetown Joe Byrne." Matt Rainnie moderated.
This letter was in the paper over a week ago, has some references I don't "get", but is pretty fascinating:
Hobgoblins return to historical stage - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
In the recent Globe and Mail piece which depicts the political culture of P.E.I. as a laughable caricature of itself, the old familiar hobgoblins of family compact, absentee proprietorship and patronage re-emerge on the historical stage. Sadly, this takes away from the efforts of those decent and fair-minded individuals who enter into politics for the right reasons.
The reluctance to come to terms with this same political culture comes from an embedded set of political and economic operatives who cannot get enough of the same old thing. Certainly the land inquiry which played out in the 1974 provincial election bears more than a few similarities to the issues brought into question by the Globe and Mail.
There are those who want these matters relegated to the past. This includes not only the political establishment but also the larger intelligentsia and even a certain number of the rank–an–file.
Already there are carefully orchestrated overtures in the works to appeal to forward thinking and to the better nature and good judgment of the general public. The question that remains is whether the long-standing assumptions of the prevailing political culture will recede or whether in fact they will temporarily take refuge beneath the surface of a still residual mindset.
Not a card-carrying optimist, but a hopeful realist, Carl Sandburg, in his resounding poem, "The People, Yes", speaks of a "…learning and blundering people…" who have been "… tricked and sold and sold again…" who nevertheless "… Take it…" and "… Live on."
To Sandburg, democracy for the people is more than a platitude. It remains to be seen whether the apologists for the current political culture will move beyond their own rhetoric.
W. Gordon Worth, Charlottetown
The full text of The People, Yes by American poet Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) can be viewed here (if you register to become a member of this free open library service):
I won't copy and paste it because it is 300 pages long ;-)
At only 34 pages, the management plan for the first section of the lands acquired called the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands, is a relatively quick read.
Here is a reminder to anyone in the Plan B area or interested in land conservation or parks to look at the management plan:
and make comments to:
by the end of the day, Monday, April 13th (tomorrow).
B.K.S. Iyengar was 95 years old when he died last August, but wrote the April 12 Global Chorus essay before that. He is called the father of modern yoga. More about him:
"No doubt the present-day attitudes of money-making people is to amass, and amass with no respect to their fellow beings. But like the spokes of the wheel that go down and come up, so is the life of the universe: that which goes down has to raise up. I believe in this, and that wisdom will dawn on those who exploit Mother Earth – as this exploitation will only come back to affect their own survival – and our collective survival."-- B.K.S. Iyengar
April 11, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Thursday was an almost two hour forum for all the Party Leaders on tourism related issues. I didn't attend but appreciate this audio recording:
It's an interesting read, if you can listen to it while doing something else, if you are busy. Differences are emerging and becoming more distinct between candidates and between their party policy planks.
There is a trend for universities to accept corporate dollars to name buildings and renovated areas, but it appears that Dalhousie University engineering department has gone into a restrictive, controlling contract with Shell Oil for funds.
Caroline Kraft is a blogger at "oceanwildthings", and for the April 11th Global Chorus she writes:
"So let’s spend more time being caretakers and less time on our phones! As we take action we’ll inspire others to join us leading to bigger changes.
"It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the current global environmental and social crises we face, but as caretakers we can never lose hope. Where there’s hope, there’s ire and a burning desire for circumstances to improve and things to change. Our hope fuels visions of a different and better way of living, which in turn sustains possibilities for a brighter future that wouldn’t be achievable otherwise. You hold your vision and I’ll hold mine and together we’ll create something beautiful." --Caroline Kraft
She tweets very informatively and charmingly here:
April 10, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Last night's citizens' meeting regarding the plans from the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Sub-committee report was well-attended. Jackie Waddell graciously volunteered her time to come over and explain the 34-page draft management plan, which describes parcels in the area, the type of vegetation and what can be done to enhance and maintain them. The report also highlights recreational and educational use of the current Bonshaw Provincial Park and the plans to expand trails and add new playground equipment on acquired parcels adjacent to the park.
(This plan is the first of four or five management plans about areas of the land, starting west near Bonshaw and eventually going to the Hemlock Grove properties, the property along Wharf Road, Strathgartney Park itself, and the old Fairyland property, which will be released within the next year. The plans must be approved by the NAPA (Natural Areas Protection Act), also, first. I may not be totally accurate in my reporting of the details.)
In this first management plan, the first few pages are a summary of the remaining 30 pages, then there are pages summarizing the management plans of the areas, then finally, the pages about the recreational use of the park with the trails and playground.
There were few questions about enhancement plans for the new areas acquired and the parcels named in the beginning of the Plan B construction. However, there were some questions about the creation of 19km of trails extending from the end of the current part, in what looks like a forkful of spaghetti.
Screenshot of proposed trail system for area north of current Bonshaw Provincial Park (towards bottom of image), from the management plan. The "Prince's Trail" made for Prince Charles stroll last May is (I think) would be one of the bottom-most dark green loops.
There were good questions, striking balances -- how much trail development is too much? What is the sense of public input now if you already have things all flagged? How can trails be made based on such very sketchy sketches, or are there better maps?
The meeting was cordial, but it did reinforce the recurring theme that frequent and proactive communication with interested Islanders and local residents hasn't been a priority since the Atlantic Gateway project money was first announced in 2011; things might benefit from the inclusion of citizen/resident representation on the subcommittee.
The report (and Appendix on flora and fauna assessment of the area) is here:
Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday is the last day for comments on any aspects of this management plan.
The repercussions of the e-gaming file continue to surface, with the filing of a lawsuit yesterday (stories in The Guardian and CBC on-line).
Responding to a Guardian article on the proposed filing of the lawsuit, published earlier this week, this posting from social media (edited from Facebook), with the poster's permission:
"To every one of my FB friends who loves PEI and truly cares about our beautiful Island please take notice. This is no Joke. Read this article and listen to the news. Look at the names involved. Don't forget them. An election has just been called for PEI on May 4th. Please "VOTE"..don't say they are all the same and not vote because your vote is needed.... Show them you will not put up with this. This is OUR province and our MONEY and OUR reputation. If you see (the governing party representatives) coming, Let them have it, is all I can say. They should all be ashamed of themselves, I'll say it again. 'You've got to stand for something or you fall for anything'...."
Peter Croal is a Canadian geology and environmental engineer, and writes today's Global Chorus essay, excerpted here:
"We are all too aware of the environmental challenges that face humanity today. The Earth has started to tweet messages that we are now paying attention to. These tweets come in the form of increased weather events, health issues and overall quality of life indicators. We are listening and responding.
The Stockholm Resilience Centre has identified nine planetary boundaries that sustain life on Earth. Three of these boundaries have been exceeded, including carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, phosphorus in our soils and water, and loss of biodiversity. Ocean acidification and access to drinking water are two boundaries that will be exceeded next. We know that our species will not survive into the next millennium if we continue on this path." -- Peter Croal
April 9, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some events to keep in mind:
Presentation, 7:30PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road, Bonshaw. All welcome.
Jackie Waddell of Island Nature Trust and the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Subcommittee will discuss the highlights of the 34-page report entitled: "Management Plan for Bonshaw Hills Expanded Park Properties, Draft, 9 March 2015". It is available here:
and comments will be accepted until Monday, April 13th.
Saturday, April 11th:
Watershed Alliance AGM, 9AM to 2PM, Hunter River Community Centre (by library, behind Harmony House). All welcome, but contact email@example.com so they have an idea of number of people.
There is a business meeting and such to begin wiht, then a great line-up of speakers beginning about 10:30AM, including Kate MacQuarrie on forest cover, Stephen Chase on Atlantic Salmon conservation, Don Jardine on climate change, an update on the Citizens' Alliance, the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, and the Blue Dot PEI movement (12:30PM), and Sean Landsman from UPEI biology department, about "nature-like fishways". Sean is replacing Mike van den Heuvel, who could not make the storm date for his talk on nitrates, which perhaps might be rescheduled at another time.
Monday, April 13th:
Presentation: "A Photographic Journey Along PEI's Heritage Rivers" by John Sylvester, part of Hillsborough River AGM, 7PM, Stratford Town Hall, all welcome.
Sunday, April 19th:
"What's in a Water Act?" Workshop, 2-4PM, Kensington Legion Hall. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (902) 620-4878, again, to make sure there are enough seats.
This workshop is put on by the Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) and includes Catherine O'Brien of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water as moderator, and Gary Schneider of Macphail Woods, Steven MacKinnon of the National Farmers Union, and Ann Wheatley of the Wheatley River Improvement Group as panelists.
Tuesday, April 21st:
Party Leaders' Forum on Environment, 7-9PM, MacKinnon Hall, Holland College (Kent Street entrance). All welcome as the four major party leaders answer about ten questions on the environment (sent from various environmental groups to the Leaders ahead of time), and field questions from the audience.
More details can be found at: http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/events
Coverage of a speech on CETA, from a storm-moved district convention of the National Farmers Union:
NFU: supply management system could be in danger - The Guardian article by Doug Gallant
Published on Monday, April 6th, 2015, in The Guardian
Island farmers were told last week that Canada’s supply management system will be seriously eroded if the Canada-EU comprehensive economic and trade agreement (CETA) is approved as it now stands.
In a speech prepared for the NFU district convention in Charlottetown, Scott Sinclair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said the looming Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) poses an even greater threat.
Sinclair, whose speech had to be read by NFU Women’s district director Edith Ling when he became storm stayed, said the TPP would put the continued viability of supply management seriously at risk. “It would be foolish to sacrifice this exemplary system of orderly management on the alter of free trade agreements,” Sinclair wrote. “But that could happen unless public concern stops it.”
Sinclair noted that if CETA is ratified it will increase the EU quota for cheese exports to Canada to 18,500 tonnes, double the current level.
That means nine per cent of all cheese consumed in Canada would come from exports, up from five per cent.
Sinclair noted these concessions were made in exchange for additional market access for beef and pork.
Canadian producers, he pointed out, do not fill their current quota of 50,000 tonnes of hormone-free beef duty free.
“These supposed gains for the red meat industry are uncertain at best, and possibly worthless,” Sinclair wrote.
Addressing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, Sinclair noted that the U.S. dairy industry and U.S. negotiators have made it clear that they expect substantial access to Canada for all dairy products, not just cheese, and as well for poultry. And the concessions sought by the U.S. are only the beginning, he indicated. “New Zealand and Australia are also insisting on substantial market access for dairy.”
Sinclair maintains that CETA and the TPP would not benefit the majority of Canadians.
Sinclair said farmers need to get the message out about what is at stake here, not just for farmers but for the whole Island economy.
Because she did not write the speech and only read it, Ling opted not to take questions.
William Ruddiman taught environmental science at the University of Virginia, in the U.S., and his field is paleoclimatology ("the study of changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of Earth").
He write in the April 9th Global Chorus, applicable to Canada:
Nearly all climate scientists (more than 95 per cent) who study modern trends agree that our planet is warming, largely because of greenhouse gases we have been putting in the atmosphere. Even conservative future projection indicate that staying on our current path will cause very large climate changes, harmful both to much of humankind and to many other life forms. Scientists who deny this prevailing view are far fewer in number, have lesser reputations and are mostly supported by “think tank” money funded by some (not all) energy extraction industries. Unfortunately, this tiny minority view has misled many people. Historically, most people in the U.S. have trusted scientific opinion. But talk radio and
many blogs are now filled with angry voices denying any human role in this warming. Astonishingly, many Republican politicians question or reject overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are responsible.
By now, the U.S. should be having an open national debate about ways to act: by reducing our carbon emissions, encouraging new technologies and planning for adaptation. But the flood of dirty money from a few entrenched energy conglomerates has muted this discussion.
Most climate scientists see this deadlock as a national disgrace. The only way to avoid a much warmer and potentially dangerous future is for more of our elected politicians to rediscover their ethical centers and act out of concern for the future of this country and all of humankind. -- William Ruddiman
April 8, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some thoughtful words from various sources:
A few words from VisionPEI, which can be found on Facebook:
The need for political reform
posted on Saturday, April 4th, 2015
The challenge of reforming the political culture on PEI is a very great one. Not because Island politicians are any more dishonourable than politicians elsewhere, but because over time the people of PEI have developed a very high tolerance for patronage and political favouritism.
In a word, what we have been witnessing over the past decade, and longer, is a symptom of a deeper disorder. It will not be enough to throw the rascals out (which the present Premier seems disinclined to do anyway) because a new group of politicians, raised up out of the same political culture, will arrive in office with the awareness that patronage is the way the system works. “Our turn,” is what they are thinking.
Do we have a worse case of the patronage virus than other provinces? Possibly, but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the situation is sufficiently serious that remedial action is required to save democracy on this Island.
We’ve all joked about it, but with the revelations of the past few years it seems political corruption has become even too murky for many Islanders’ sensibilities. A line has been crossed, and even some old school Tories and Grits are saying “we have gone too far!” It means we have a window of opportunity to take stock of what we have become, and to rid Island politics of systemic patronage.
There is no neat formula as to how that might be accomplished, but what is clear is that the roots of the disorder are in the party system, and in the hearts and minds of the party faithful. Those are the two pools where the predator fish lurk, and it will be impossible to clean up Island political culture without taking a long hard look at the way the two old parties function.
Further, one question that will have to be asked is, “Are they too diseased to recover?”
and on Monday April 6th, 2015:
The fear that if you speak your mind you, or yours, will be punished is at the heart of the malaise that is Island politics. But this culture of fear can change if there is sufficient courage simply to speak - to say "we can do better than that." Is there risk? Of course. But not nearly so great as the risk of remaining silent.
If you are interested in reading VisionPEI's "Kitchen Table Manifesto", it is here:
or if you aren't able to access it that way, contact me
Harriet Shugarman, a "Climate Mama", writes for today's Global Chorus, discussing climate change:
"Each morning for a moment as I gaze intently at my sleeping children resting in blissful peace, I am refilled with resolve and hope.
I remind myself that it’s my job to secure a safe and livable future for them and to ensure that they have the opportunity to
grow into adults, to fight for their future as I now fight for my own and for theirs.
Yet a game of chance is underway, with my children’s future the ultimate prize. The stakes have never been higher, yet humanity
is trying to 'rig the game' against itself. 'The emperor is wearing no clothes', but by not seeing this, we risk losing the game.
To win, we must teach our children and remind ourselves of three simple life lessons: Tell the truth. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t be afraid.
1. There is no longer any room for denial around the climate crisis. We humans are causing our climate to change. The science is clear, the evidence is overwhelming. End of story.
2. We must acknowledge and recognize that there is no bridge to a carbon-free future. We need to step bravely into the abyss, trust in science and the evidence and make the leap to a renewable-energy future, through our actions now – individual and collective. This will put people to work, grow the economy and begin to heal our planet.
3. We must look “truth” squarely in the eye and NOT be afraid. Scientists are telling us and our planet is showing us that we need to act. Together with our children, friends, family and all humanity, we need to move quickly and boldly forward to reclaim a livable future. I am hopeful that the odds are changing, ever so slightly, in humanity’s favour. More and more caring and thoughtful people are seeing the emperor in the full light of day, standing up to him and demanding that others open their eyes and see him clearly too. Together we CAN and must change the collision course we are on; there is no other option."-- Harriet Shugarman
April 7, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
An event tonight:
NaturePEI (formerly the Natural History Society of PEI) is meeting tonight at 7:30PM at Beaconsfield Carriage House.Â The topic is the Climate Diary, with guest speaker Derek Ellis.Â Details here: http://www.citizensalliancepei.org/events
from Saturday's Guardian:
MacMillan Decision Fuels Speculation - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Saturday, April 4th, 2015, in The Guardian
The Premier, with his announcement of the rescinding of the contract of Mr. Brooke MacMillan, has left us speculating about why that decision was taken. The comment that it was “time for a change" was not exactly revelatory. It was as though he was saying, “I have my reasons but am not prepared to share those with Islanders.” In the same interview he spoke of transparency, yet it was one of the least transparent interviews one could ever watch.
We presume the decision was related to Mr. MacMillan’s role in the PNP program, and to mounting public pressure for greater disclosure. The Premier had to do something, but MacMillan was let go without a shred of explanation. In a word, it seems the rescinding of Mr. MacMillan’s contract was an attempt to appease Islanders without actually revealing anything.
Mr. Premier, we are not appeased.
We are attempting to envisage a better future for the Island, and move toward a form of governance that is responsible. But that process is compromised if the political landscape is littered with secrets, and the buried treasure of irresponsible behaviour.
It needs to be asked: are you concealing something? Something Islanders have the right to know? Surely there should be no election until there is an independent enquiry into this great disorder of our times. Mr. Premier, if you are not prepared to drop the veil of secrecy, you should not drop the writ.
David Weale, Charlottetown
Premier Wade MacLauchlan dropped a tartan-covered square with the word "WRIT" on at his nomination meeting last night. "Draw-up" the writ, not "Drop"....oh, well.
The Island PC Party made an Open Government announcement yesterday. In addition to announcing how their government would clearly put more information on-line for public access, they also said they would include municipal governments and the post-secondary institutions under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This is a huge pledge, very commendable for one of the larger parties to promise (it is in the Green Party Policy, and I am pretty certain the NDP has mentioned this, too).
Facebook Reposting #1:
Here is an assessment of Liberal Leader MacLauchlan's speech last night, from Cathy Grant of Charlottetown:
"I am very disappointed with Wade MacLauchan's tone during his acceptance of his uncontested nomination and dropping of the writ. Although Mr. MacLauchlin was swept into the premier's role with aplomb, amidst rumours of scandal and corruption in Robert Ghiz's government which have since been documented in The Globe and Mail, there was no mention of transparency or accountability in his speech, and rather obviously, no mention of Premier Robert Ghiz.
"Rather it was a very insular speech. He quoted a Mrs. Shaw (and I mean no disrespect to her), a 107 year old woman from his riding who said she voted 'on the right side of politics' . He used school room language to compare his new 'responsibilities' with those of Rob Lantz and Steven Myers who he indicated were 'job sharing'.
"There was no mention of social justice, food insecurity (which affects 20% of Island children), the struggles of the many newcomers to our Island, and the diaspora of our young people. Not to mention the imminent choices our governments must take because of the effects of climate change. And to use 'International Tartan Day' and 'Star Wars' ('May the 4th be with you') as themes...well, that was downright foolishness.
"It is clear that old time politics go down well in your riding, Mr. MacLauchlin, but it should not go down well with the people of PEI who want real change."
-- Cathy Grant
Facebook Reposting #2:
from a PEI NewsChasers Facebook group, posted yesterday afternoon, by Guardian political reporter Teresa Wright:
ATTENTION ALL ISLANDERS - tell me what your election issues are? What will decide your vote and why? (Comment here, send me a PM or) email me at < email@example.com>. It's for a series of stories I will write for The Guardian over the next month.
I'm hoping to get a variety of opinions from people willing to share their thoughts ON the record (that means using your name and possibly a photo). I am also looking for opinions from across our fair Island and I'm willing to come to you to do interviews and learn about your issues from your perspective at your kitchen table.
Send me your voting issues!
--Teresa Wright, The Guardian
Martin Rutte is an Islander and visionary. He co-wrote one of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books a while back, and continues to share positive, world-altering views. More info:
Here is his whole essay that he wrote for today's Global Chorus:
"We all long to live in a world that works. A world in which we successfully solve our worst problems and move in a direction that nourishes and satisfies the deepest part of our soul.
By re-envisioning and restructuring our collective intention, what we hunger for is now within our reach. "We can create a new story that encompasses, inspires and enlivens us.
This new story is the co-creation of Heaven on Earth and it starts, simply, by asking the question, what is Heaven on Earth for you?
"Our answers are the basis of our collective and uniquely individual new story. Heaven on Earth already exists within each of us. Recognizing this, acting on it and asking others what it means to them, is how we're co-creating humanity's new story.
"Some of us believe that Heaven exists after death.
Here's another point of view: co-creating Heaven is something we can act on right here on Earth, today. As surely as the seasons change and the calendar turns a new page, we are ready for our next chapter. The winds of a new era are being felt in every corner of our world. It is an age in which we discover what it means to be human and what it means to share our humanity.
What is Heaven on Earth for you?" -- Martin Rutte
April 6, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Although all was quiet during this holiday weekend regarding overt campaigning, the buzz is of course that Premier MacLauchlan will announce at his own nominating convention tonight his plans to ask the Lt. Governor to drop the writ on Tuesday.
(Otherwise, the Legislators will have to assemble Tuesday at 2PM.)
This is adapted by me (black text) from a CBC on-line article from a couple of years ago:
Writ Drop Marks Campaign's Official Kickoff - CBC website news
For weeks now, the phrase "drop the writ" has been popping up in election stories. But what exactly is the writ and why is it being dropped? Here’s a quick explanation about this bit of parliamentary procedure that precedes every election in Canada.
What is the writ? Short for "writs of elections" these are essentially official documents, issued in the name of the Queen, that state an election is underway.
Writ : a formal summons issued by a government, court, sovereign or other official body. The Writ of Election is the formal notice of an election issued by the Chief Electoral Officer acting on the orders of the Lieutenant Governor; it summons the electorate to vote for their candidates. The Writ decrees when general voting will take place, when advance voting will take place, when the close of nominations will occur, when the final vote count will be made, and when the Returning Officer must make the return of the writ. The government’s announcement that it intends to hold an election is sometimes referred to as 'dropping the writ'.
What happens when the writ is dropped? To trigger an election, the premier (Wade MacLauchlan) will pay a visit to the Lieutenant Governor (Frank Lewis) — the Queen’s representative in the province — and advise that he wants to end the current Legislative Assembly session (which I think is still the Fifth Session of the 64th Assembly).
The writs are then signed by the Lieutenant Governor and the chief electoral officer (Gary McLeod). (This is where the "drop" part comes in -- apparently, it doesn't mean the paper floating to the floor, but likely a blending of "draw up" the written order.) A writ is then sent to the returning officer in each electoral district, issuing the authority to hold an election.
The complete list of 2015 PEI election returning officers is here:
The writ is dropped, what now? Essentially it means the election is officially underway. In online and broadcast stories CBC should stop calling Wade MacLauchlan "Premier Wade MacLauchlan" and instead simply describe him as "Liberal Leader Wade MacLaughlan" as he tries to win. Voters across the province can also expect to see election signs appearing in their neighbourhood. A lot of that is regulated by The Elections Act.
CBC has a goodly amount of elections materials here:
including a link for the "Tracking the Candidates" chart, which has been tinkered with to show all the party candidates on one screen (good). It just needs a little colour now.
Two commentaries about "the back room":
a letter to the editor from Art Gennis:
Lasting Legacy of Olive Crane - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 in The Guardian
As I followed the both provincial leadership campaigns and continue to read articles related to the leaderships of both Wade MacLauchlan and Rob Lantz, I notice there is a consistent thread through the discussions and comments. The influence of the infamous "back-rooms" on the leaders and the parties.
Ms. Crane's experience has brought the back-rooms into the limelight like never before and has created a situation where a question on many people's minds is whether the leader or party is controlled by their unelected back-room.
The back rooms have always been there, but have never been issues of contention until the last few years. They have never before been in the forefront in such a negative light that prospective and current leaders must make deliberate efforts to prove that they are not controlled by the back-room and that they are their own man or woman. And that is a good thing.
I am not so naïve as to think that the back-rooms will become non-influential in politics and the functioning of government on P.E.I.. But perhaps the mindsets of the electorate will start to take the control held by the back rooms into consideration when they elect our next provincial government. It is a small step in the needed effort to reduce the party insiders who feed from the political troughs.
Any move to reduce political patronage and increase political integrity is a good one.
Art Gennis, Charlottetown
And Allan Rankin's column in last week's newspapers:
Backrooms Important Places at Election Time - The Eastern Graphic column by Allan Rankin
Published Wednesday, April 1st, 2015, in The Graphic publications
In Island politics, nothing is portrayed so darkly or negatively as the infamous backroom, that cloistered place where a select group of political operatives is tasked with planning and running an election campaign.
Though maligned and not well understood, the backroom is an essential part of election machinery. Like a map or GPS for a road trip or central command during a time of war, the backroom is where the political direction is set, the platform managed, and messaging created and orchestrated.
Every political party at election time has a backroom, and any party that says it doesn’t is being less than honest.
It is both a physical location, and a small group of trusted partisans. The Liberal backrooms I have known were hideaways, distanced from the frenzy of election headquarters and the prying eyes of party members.
Campaigns can be exhausting physically and emotionally for candidates and workers alike, but nothing quite compares with the intensity and high wire stress of the election backroom where everything is at stake on every single day, and one tactical error can sink the political ship.
The first job of the backroom strategists is to give shape to a campaign.
A governing party seeking re-election unavoidably must run on its record; however, the electorate prefers to look forward not backwards, and therefore past accomplishments need to be mixed with the promise of new policies and initiatives.
It’s a delicate balancing act because voters will not stomach a big spending election platform during a time of high deficits and debt. But the governing party is at an advantage, knowing as it does the true finances of the province and what can be sold as responsible spending during a campaign.
Prince Edward Island’s new premier is in a difficult place.
He represents renewed leadership and change, and yet he carries the record of the Liberal government into the forthcoming election, with all its warts and wrinkles, scandals and lapses, successes and shortcomings.
Somehow he will need to forge a strategy that balances past achievements with all that is new under the sun.
The backroom will help him do that.
Polling research was an essential tool in every campaign I had a part in, and long before a campaign theme is chosen, policy developed, and political advertising created, a wise party will conduct a large sample, province-wide poll to define the issues the electorate is concerned about.
Grassroots intelligence and feedback is important but good empirical data, gathered properly, is essential to charting a political course.
Candidate selection is also a critical matter, and parties often conduct district polls to determine the strength of prospective candidates. But this can be a delicate, and at times dangerous practise, for the Island is a small community and if a district poll is in the field with the names of local individuals, you can be sure those individuals hear about it, and will come looking for the results.
Only the party leader and a few key backroom advisors are privy to polling results for obvious reasons.
Good political candidates are harder to find than you might think.
Here is the cardinal rule.
A high level of public awareness means nothing if trust and confidence is low. Conversely, an individual who is not well known but enjoys a high trust and confidence can become an excellent candidate, if there is time for that person to become better known.
I have seen polling results dash the hopes of an apparent star candidate, and also kick start the political career of a lesser known.
With the issues defined and candidates chosen, the leadership and backroom of the party will then go about developing a policy platform, and crafting the communications plan for the campaign ahead.
District door-to-door canvassing is essential to success, of course, and the leader must get out the message clearly and effectively. However, in my experience, most campaigns turn on the effectiveness and tone of its advertising.
Now there are some who passionately decry negative political advertising, claiming it debases the democratic process and, well, that it’s just not gentlemanly. But, if a political party truly wants to change the numbers and have a chance of winning, then hard hitting negative advertising is a necessary weapon.
Because an election campaign requires so much discipline and hard work, and the ability of a small team to stay emotionally grounded and focused, the people at the centre literally wear themselves out.
Winning is sweet and there is no glory in defeat.
For those in the backroom, an election victory can lead to new career opportunities, while losing can be depressing and disillusioning. Following an election loss, leadership frequently comes under scrutiny, and the engineers, the directors of the failed campaign, often lose favour and are shown the door.
Nevertheless, the backroom is an exciting place to be if you love politics, and as all parties begin to ramp up for this spring’s election, I will be watching closely from the sidelines, trying to guess who is in those command posts, and wondering about the critical decisions they will make.
In all likelihood, the arguments and debates are already in full swing, and the coffee, pop, and junk food has begun to flow.
(Sorry for the length of those, but they were interesting viewpoints and insights.)
Patrick Holden is a British farmer and head of the Sustainable Food Trust
and he writes the April 6th essay for Global Chorus about the approach of the individual affecting the entire group:
"We can apply this approach to our food systems. For example, if I make a deep personal commitment to build greater energy self-sufficiency and systems resilience in my hilltop farm in west Wales, or as a consumer I decide to purchase as much sustainable and locally produced food as is practically possible, these simple actions, amplified at community, regional, national and even international levels, can and will bring about the transformation we seek."
-- Patrick Holden
April 5, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Jane Goodall's 81st birthday was Friday, and here is a delightful interview with Jane Goodall by American journalist Bill Moyers, from 2009:
It is 45 minutes long, but the transcript is available by clicking the plus sign on the page under the video box.
Jane Goodall's essay for Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet was placed first in the book, and part of the proceeds from sales go to her Foundation.
Global Chorus for April 5th is by Canadian Jean Vanier, the 86-year old humanitarian and Catholic theologian. He founded L'Arche (The Ark), "an international federation of communities for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them."
More about him here:
<snip> "Over the years, great men and women philosophers, scientists, artists, psychologists, politicians, people of wisdom, of prayer, of a deep spirituality have risen up as prophets of life and peace to show a
road to hope. Mahatma Gandhi, Abdul Kfar Khan, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, John Paul II, Mother Theresa, Etty Hillesum, Martin Luther King – the list is long and impressive. Millions of people are capable of following and discerning real leaders from dangerous dictators, mafia groups and incompetent politicians. Human hearts can be cowed and paralyzed by fear; but the desire for light, trust and freedom, and the need to live humanely can break through these fears." -- Jean Vanier
Happy Easter to you and yours,
April 4, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Where we can all find common ground -- the ground that grows our food:
“The food issue is one of the best ones to free people from the false left-right dichotomy,” says John Moody, interim executive director of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and founder of a food buying club in Louisville (Kentucky, U.S.A.).
That's from an article in Wednesday, March 31st, 2015, The Washington Post, featuring Virginia farmer Joel Salatin, whom you just can't pin a political label on. (The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, by the way, provides information and, if needed, legal aid to its members regarding farm sales of products including raw cow's milk.)
The full article is here:
As we wait for spring, and some have garden seedlings planted inside, it's a great time to watch the one-minute "I am a Seed Saver" video from USC-Canada, to get inspired. It features half a dozen fine Canadian musicians talking about the importance of saving seeds. The website also has lots of tips to get started:
Background on USC-Canada's way of working with people:
Today, our two larger Farmers' Markets are open, with many ingredients for Easter holiday meals, some extended early season vegetables like greens, and the remaining winter "storage" ones.
Tomorrow will be the second Sunday Maple Sugar Shack Social at the Charlottetown's Farmers' Market, 10AM to 3PM.
And if you are interested in finding a CSA (community supported agriculture scheme) in your neck-of-the-woods, here again is the link from the PEI Food Exchange, here:
Today at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market, tickets will be available to see the special anniversary revival performances of Our Town, which runs about a half-dozen times in the next two weeks. ACT is our local theatre, and several people in ACT squeezed in working on the spring performance three years ago, along with making and carrying signs and balloons, writing letters, etc., at various anti-Plan B highway rallies. :-)
from their announcement:
Our Town is back in our Charlottetown, playing for two weekends at the Carrefour. ACT (a community theatre) is presenting evening (7:30) performances Thursday to Saturday, April 9, 10 and 11, a Sunday afternoon matinee (2:30) on the 12th, and two more shows on Friday the 17th and Saturday April 18th.
Our Town won Thornton Wilder the Pulitzer Prize. It is one of the most popular and beloved theatre pieces of all time: it is still performed at least once a day somewhere in the world.
PEI reviewer Sean McQuaid called it “the best piece of theatre I’ve seen in town this year.” That year was 1995, when Our Town was the very first production of ACT (a community theatre). In the two decades since then, ACT has staged more than 50 productions, and now ACT is celebrating its 20th anniversary by remounting its debut show.
Our Town tickets will be sold at the door, but in view of the special nature of this anniversary production, organizers believe there is a likelihood of sell-out. So there are three ways to buy in advance:
(i) online at www.actourtown.brownpapertickets.com;
(ii) by phone at 1-800-838-3006 ext1;
(iii) in-person cash sale at the Charlottetown Farmers Market on Saturday morning, April 4th.
Information: 902-628-6778, www.actpei.ca
The Carrefour/Ecole François-Buote is reached via the Queen Elizabeth Hospital turn-off from the Charlottetown bypass.
From Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, for April 4th:
"No one changes the world alone. Alone, thinking about all of the challenges in today’s world, can be completely overwhelming and, worse, disempowering. But when we choose to work together in coordinated action toward achieving the common goal of sustainable peace on a sustainable planet, there is little we cannot accomplish. Each and every one of us has the power to contribute to lasting change, and when we choose to use that power together in collective action we can make the seemingly impossible possible." --Jodi Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, for her work to ban land mines
April 3, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Guardian (UK) Media Group announced this week that it is divesting its holdings in fossils fuels. It sounds like this is the largest investment fund to do this. The paper has recently begun running a campaign called "Leave it in the Ground", urging major charities like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to stop investing in oil and gas. More here:
There are a couple of events coming up in the next weeks, and not necessarily related to the probable election call :-)
Thursday, April 9th, Presentation on Draft Bonshaw Public Lands Parks, 7:30PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road. With Jackie Waddell, committee member. All welcome to see an informal overview and participate in a Q&A.
Monday, April 13th, the final day to comment on the draft park plans. The 34-page report and more details are here:
Saturday, April 11th, Watershed Alliance AGM, 9AM-2PM, Hunter River Community Centre. After the business section, guest speakers for half-hour segments include provincial director of forests, fish and wildlife Kate MacQuarrie; Stephen Chase, Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation; Don Jardine, UPEI Climate Research Centre; myself, Catherine O'Brien and Cindy Richards, about Citizens' Alliance, the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, and the Blue Dot PEI movement (we'll talk fast); and Mike van den Heuvel, UPEI Biology, on monitoring the streams and estuaries in the Northumberland Strait (he gets an hour). All welcome, but they ask you write <firstname.lastname@example.org> so they have an idea of numbers.
Tuesday, April 21st, Party Leaders' Forum on Environment, 7PM, MacKinnon Lecture Theatre, Holland College, Charlottetown. It is huge that the four major PEI Party leaders have committed to attend this. Groups preparing questions include pretty much every organization on P.E.I. with concerns about our water, land and sea. There will be time for questions from the audience. All are welcome to attend.
Friday, April 24th, Island Nature Trust annual fundraising dinner, starting at 6PM, Red Shores, great food and creative ways to give, more info on poster here:
Saturday, April 25th, Family Earth Expo, 12:30PM-4PM, Farm Centre. Since Earth Day is Wednesday the 22nd, the event is repackaged and hosted on an easier day by Sierra Club -- Atlantic Canada Chapter. Displays, presentations, lots of fun.
For information on events like these, go to our Citizens' Alliance calendar here:
Bob MacDonald, the distinctively-voiced host of CBC's science show Quirks and Quarks, writes the April 3rd essay for Global Chorus.
"Humans are most innovative when faced with a crisis. We have the ability to make tailpipes and smokestacks obsolete. We can control our numbers and reduce our environmental footprint. Ultimately, if we choose correctly, we can turn ourselves into a smoothly turning cog in the superbly complex and ever-changing machinery of our dynamic planet Earth."
April 2, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Watershed Alliance AGM scheduled for this Saturday has been postponed until next Saturday, April 11th., in Hunter River. The public is welcome, but they ask you contact them so they can gauge numbers. Agenda and contact info here: http://peiwatershedalliance.org/web/
Italian researchers have been studied some effects of feeding mammals genetically modified soy in a routine diet versus non-genetically modified soy. There are concerns about GMO crops and some studies may be making assumptions, but this team's efforts, posted on-line earlier this year, look solid:
Genetically modified soybean in a goat diet: Influence on kid performance, by R. Tudisco, et.al.
published on-line on January 31st, 2015, in Small Ruminant Research
A good article summarizing it is here:
What this abstract is saying, I think, is that in this peer-reviewed study, baby goats (kids) born to mothers fed feed with "conventional" or NON genetically modified soy grew bigger. The colostrum from their does was higher in protein and far, and had more immunoglobins. The bits of modified DNA (transgenic or across genes) were found in the kids whose mothers ate the modified soy.
Lots more questions come from this that should be researched.
Luke Arbuckle, formerly a reporter for the Graphic newspapers, was hurt this weekend during what must have been an intense rescue at sea with members of a crew from a tall ship he was on. He is doing well now.
Paul MacNeill, publisher of The Graphic newspapers, wrote yesterday in his column, "Second Opinion", regarding an inquiry re: the PNP:
Tories and NDP make a promise they will not keep - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
Published on April 1st, 2015
If Islanders expect political blood to be let through a public inquiry into the provincial nominee program, eGaming, and government loans they are apt to be disappointed.
Both the NDP and Tories are making the appointment of such a commission a key plank in their election platforms. Mike Redmond was first with the NDPs plan, initially a vague promise that was beefed up a week later with a one-year time line and one million dollar budget.
Last week, newly minted Tory leader, Rob Lantz, announced much the same. He is matching the one-year deadline and anteing $250,000 seed money with the promise of more to come when the inquiry’s framework is finalized.
There is no doubt that PNP, and eGaming in particular, demand an investigation with the power to subpoena. Islanders deserve to see Robert Ghiz, Wes Sheridan, lawyer Bill Dow, Brooke MacMillan, Richard Brown, Allan Rankin and other senior government bureaucrats under oath.
But is unlikely either the NDP or Tory plan will appease Islanders.
Part of the issue is expectations.
Ordinary Islanders look at eGaming and PNP and wonder how a select few managed to get invited to the inside lane. Many don’t realize the list of companies that received PNP funding is already public, including numbered companies. These ordinary citizens look at their day-to-day struggles just to heat the house, put food on the table and gas in the car and rightfully feel resentment to those favoured under the Ghiz years.
For many, the visceral anger toward the Ghiz administration may only be tempered – and even then it’s a long shot – if businesses that received PNP or government loans or offered legal, accounting or consultant work are made to squirm in a very bright public spotlight.
Lantz was specific in announcing he would only examine the management of PNP. This means the role of politically connected intermediaries, lawyers and accountants will not be examined. It also means many specific abuses will not be examined in depth.
The notion of how to examine provincial government loans is also a major question. Public documents show the Rodd family of hotels received $21 million in loans earlier this year. Some have tried to paint the loans as government largesse.
They are not.
While the numbers are large and speak to a reality that the Island firm is, in the eyes of the provincial government, almost too big to fail, they do not speak to the story behind the numbers.
A provincial inquiry will not delve into the political reality of tourism development on PEI over the past 30 years. The Rodd family, first with David Rodd and currently with his son Mark, has quietly maintained large rural based resorts and jobs despite dramatic changes in the tourism industry. The company has been a partner both Liberal and Conservative governments could count on.
When Pat Binns could not find a company to develop a new hotel at Crowbush, he turned to the Rodd family who dutifully delivered the $14.5 million development. It is unlikely the hotel has ever made money. The project was driven by politics not business, but the Rodd family obliged.
Will Rob Lantz ensure Binns or his cabinet ministers are called to testify? Not a hope in hell.
Islanders look at government’s relationship with businesses such as Cavendish Beach Music Fest and PEI Brewing Company and raise valid questions of access and whether government should be in the business of being a primary financier.
Fair question, but how deep do you dig into loan files? There are literally hundreds of Island businesses benefitting from government financing. They are farmers and fishermen and small business operators.
Indeed any notion of examining provincial loans smacks of a desperate attempt to curry favour with an angry electorate.
What loans will be examined? How will it be decided? Will business operators be called to testify or simply the politicians and bureaucrats who moved political decisions forward?
And here is the greatest challenge to a public inquiry that both the NDP and Tories are wilfully ignorant to. Anything but a very narrow mandate will immediately set off a legal quagmire. Virtually every major Island legal firm would be in a conflict of interest on the PNP file. Businesses would mount sustained efforts to ensure they are not drawn into a public maelstrom.
The price tag to taxpayers will quickly jump into the millions and the time frame for completion will marked in years, not 12 months.
Islanders want closure on PNP and eGaming. We deserve to know the inner workings of how the Ghiz administration secretly manipulated these files. It is a question of trust in government. But an inquiry, as proposed by both the Tories and NDP, will not quench our thirst because both parties know they are promising something they cannot deliver.
We need an inquiry that is targeted and specific, and not what the Tories and NDP are promising - everything including the kitchen sink.
Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Alan Weisman is an American journalist, professor of journalism, and author of books including The World Without Us. He writes for April 2nd's Global Chorus:
"<snip> We humans spring from an on-going process entailing an unfathomably intricate,
natural infrastructure – one we’ve spent the past 250 years disrupting or dismantling by trashing countless of its components. So far, we’re still around to relish whatever payoffs we’ve gained. But it’s pretty reckless behaviour.
At some point our luck may run out. Me, I’d prefer we stop taking dumb chances. But I can’t stop us alone. Together, we might.
I just looked: it’s still beautiful out there." -- Alan Weisman
April 1, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
F. Ben Rodgers letters are so truthful and so funny:
Going Down Wrong Road - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Monday, March 30th, 2015
First, we need proportional representation, not first past the post. Whoever wins the election must live within the budget, must stop borrowing money, stop funding big business, stop writing off loans, and reduce a top-heavy government.
We could manage with 15 MLAs and two federal MPs. If you add in deputies, municipal governments and staff total costs are staggering. We have been told if we don't pay good money we can't attract good people. Can we honestly say that theory is working?
Think of the successive boondoggles Liberal/PC governments have authored. Programs such as a Mag wheel manufacturer setting up on the island with government grants/ tax breaks. The Lankshire Factory Pig Farm, Polar Food, Ocean Choice, all owing us money, all long gone. Government-funded world class golf courses we can't sell. As for the costly Plan B highway project, when I drive it today it still has as many twists, curves and bends as ever. The recent scandals of PNP and e-gaming. Yet once again we have Liberal/PC’s election hopefuls promising change and an open and transparent government. More of the same old promises, a broken record if you will.
If we are to have a real future we must have serious changes now. Fail to do so and this beautiful island will be bankrupt, the soils polluted, the air toxic, and the water poison.
Of course I could be wrong, I sincerely hope I am. However, if I'm wrong, then Vision P.E.I., Pesticide Free P.E.I. and thousands of others are alarmist and wrong too. If we go down this road again we will only have ourselves to blame and indeed a very bleak future.
F. Ben Rodgers,
Tonight is the Council of Canadians' monthly meeting, at 5PM, at the Haviland Club, corner of Halivand and Water Streets in Charlottetown. All are welcome.
Tomorrow, Thursday, April 2nd,
Film: "Have you seen the arana?", 7PM, AVC lecture theatre A, UPEI, sponsored by Cinema Politica and the Cooper Institute.
"Set in Wayanad, in South India, ‘Have you seen the arana?’ is a journey through a rich and bio-diverse region that is witnessing drastic transformation in the name of ‘development’. A traditional healer’s concern over the disappearance of medicinal plants from the forest, a farmer’s commitment to growing traditional varieties of rice organically and a cash crop cultivator’s struggle to survive amidst farmers’ suicides, offer fresh insights into shifting relations between people, their knowledge systems and the environment. Interwoven into contemporary narratives is an ancient tribal creation myth that traces the passage of their ancestors across this land, recalling past ways of reading and mapping the terrain.
Everybody is welcome, no admission fee but donations gratefully accepted! Call Cooper Institute 894-4573 for more information."
Perhaps appropriate for April Fool's Day, British travel writer and comedian Ian Wright writes for Global Chorus:
"Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a depressing doom and gloom merchant, and I do believe that humans are the most extraordinary animals that have ever lived – especially when I think about all the unbelievable things we have achieved, all the amazing and inspirational people I have been lucky enough to meet. But when I look at what we have done to this Earth within such a minuscule amount time of being here … we are screwed …" --Ian Wright
And from the Sierra Club Canada, today, an "announcement":
Happy April Fool's Day,