February 28, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today, the Canadian national newspaper The Globe and Mail makes good on the rumours and prints an in-depth report on the e-gaming/"world financial hub" aspirations of the Ghiz government.
and the print edition is for sale in the normal locations.
I am embarrassed to be an Islander where some government, business and financial "leaders" were all trading tips and in the game.
How similar to PNP with everybody wanting "A Piece of the Action."
How sinister that this was going on all around the time we were vigorously fighting Plan B, yet we knew nothing about some of our leaders' preoccupation with their tumbling house of cards. Ick.
Teresa Wright did a good job encapsulating this all for The Guardian a few months ago -- this Globe and Mail is just a more detailed, nauseating account. And on an national newspaper and media platform.
And it doesn't even mention the London e-gambling conference and the masquerade party. Or Geo-sweep.
On a different subject to be embarrassed about:
"That's the Tar Sands" is a two-minute commercial/public service announcement with some American actors (many of whom I am sorry to say I don't recognize, but all dressed very nicely and appearing quite sincere) reacting to footage of the Alberta oil sands. It connects the Keystone XL pipeline as further promoting tar sands production and the detrimental environmental effects. One can't quite whistle "O Canada" and look the other way.
But when I look out, every day, I see wonderful people stepping up to run for public office -- many caring souls who participated some way in opposing Plan B (and many other issues ulcerating our Island way of life). Many of these people don't feel like experts, are new to standing up, but all want to improve things on P.E.I, not improve their own financial situation. Best wishes to all of you for expanding the conversation, no matter when an election is called.
The February 28th Global Chorus author is Stuart Pimm, a British-born professor of environmental conservation at Duke University in North Carolina.
"Stuart Pimm is a world leader in the study of present day extinctions and what can be done to prevent them. His research covers the reasons why species become extinct, how fast they do so, the global patterns of habitat loss and species extinction and, importantly, the management consequences of this research." He writes:
"Something else: the world’s tropical, moist forests are where most of the wild things live. They house the most species and the greatest number of species at risk of extinction. They’ve lost area almost as large as the continental USA in my lifetime. Meanwhile, we’ve put billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing untold economic harm. We should stop doing so, for forests are worth more standing than as the barren grazing land so many of them have become. There’s more! It’s time to restore these lands, allow them to recover, plant them with native trees, heal the planet and save species."-- Stuart Pimm
A good time of year to make plans for restoring land. If you don't have a patch of land to work on yourself, you can help folks like Gary Schneider at ECOPEI with their Restore An Acre program: http://www.ecopei.ca/restore-an-acre/
You don't have to sponsor a whole acre :-) -- any amount would go to good use.
Have a great day, and enjoy voting for the PC leader if you are member, or at least tuning in for the speeches and results. (Registration 9AM to noon, speeches, then voting at 2PM, I think, UPEI Field House. Coverage on CBC on-line and on other media.)
February 27, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A mix of items:
Last night was the kick-off for the Green Party PEI headquarters and for District 17 Green Party candidate and Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker.
a snippet from Paul MacNeill's "Second Opinion" column in The Graphic newspapers this week (bold is mine):
Peter Bevan Baker is the Green Party. He is thoughtful, articulate, and respectful, and if he ran for any other party would be a virtual certainty to win.
Both the Greens and NDP will argue – with justification – real change will only occur when we elect MLAs who are not Liberals or Tories. One of the most effective periods in Island political history was the four-year period when Herb Dickieson sat in the legislature as NDP leader.
Tonight: "PEI Wild Child" Program Fundraiser, 5-6:30PM Children's Activities, 7-8PM Dance, 8:30-11PM various bands, Farm Centre, Charlottetown. Admission by donation with proceeds going to this Sierra Club Nature Immersion program for young children.
from the press release:
PEI Wildlife display til 8pm, face-painting, Silent auction open til 9:30pm, Yummy Naan food til 8pm,
Children's music: Music Man Mike Pendergast, Karalee MacAskill, Jordan MacPhee, & Tony Reddin,
Family dance with The Fiddle Monsters (easy and fun) and hula-hooping
Short readings from the bestseller Global Chorus by editor Todd MacLean throughout the evening.
Concert 8:30 - 11pm (sets of about 30 minutes each):
1. Amanda Jackson Band (folk/blues trio of Amanda Jackson, Dale McKie and Todd MacLean) ,
2. Morgan Hill
3. "Logan Richard and friends" (Logan Richard is lead singer for the popular band Ripped Paper- their bass player is away) Connor Nabuurs on drums, Tanuj Fernando on Keys, Josh Langille on electric guitar and Jack MacKenzie on bass,
4. The Downwalls: Jordan MacPhee - Vocals/Guitar/Bass, Mike Drew - Lead Guitar, Puddy Banks - Bass/Vocals/Guitar, Jordan "Grubes" MacGregor - Drums
A posting on social media regarding pesticide levels in land and air in the U.S. state of Mississippi was going around yesterday, and the original source is unshakable, the well-respected publication (Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry), and the authors seem to have no ties to industry, etc. (The grammar is a little shaky, but it's hard to find picky editors these days.) Glyphosate is "Round-Up", a herbicide manufactured by Monsanto and it goes along with certain genetically-modified crops.
Bold is mine.
Environ Toxicol Chem 2014 Jun;33(6):1283-93. doi: 10.1002/etc.2550. Epub 2014 Apr 4.
Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: a comparison between 1995 and 2007 - NCBI Abstract
authors: Majeski, MS, Coupe, RH, Foreman, WT and Capel, PD
A variety of current-use pesticides were determined in weekly composite air and rain samples collected during the 1995 and 2007 growing seasons in the Mississippi Delta (MS, USA) agricultural region. Similar sampling and analytical methods allowed for direct comparison of results. Decreased overall pesticide use in 2007 relative to 1995 generally resulted in decreased detection frequencies in air and rain; observed concentration ranges were similar between years, however, even though the 1995 sampling site was 500 m from active fields whereas the 2007 sampling site was within 3 m of a field. Mean concentrations of detections were sometimes greater in 2007 than in 1995, but the median values were often lower. Seven compounds in 1995 and 5 in 2007 were detected in ≥50% of both air and rain samples. Atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in ≥50% of the air and rain samples in both years. Glyphosate and its degradation product, aminomethyl-phosphonic acid (AMPA), were detected in ≥75% of air and rain samples in 2007 but were not measured in 1995. The 1995 seasonal wet depositional flux was dominated by methyl parathion (88%) and was >4.5 times the 2007 flux. Total herbicide flux in 2007 was slightly greater than in 1995 and was dominated by glyphosate. Malathion, methyl parathion, and degradation products made up most of the 2007 nonherbicide flux.
Global Chorus contributor Laura Elizabeth Clayton Paul is community organizer with engineering training residing in Ottawa. She writes:
"There is a global crisis, but equally a mountain of opportunity. Nothing is impossible. There is always hope. We are the solution. It's time to show up ready to work, and push forward one seemingly small change at a time." -- Laura Elizabeth Clayton Paul
Richard Raiswell's commentary from Monday's CBC Radio Mainstreet regarding our new Premier (4minutes):
February 26, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
From yesterday's Guardian (bold is mine, but entire article worth reading):
Jason Aspin Lays Down a Challenge - The Guardian article by Steve Sharratt
Published on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Aspin Kemp CEO champions organic farming and clean energy
GEORGETOWN — He’s not running for politics, but an Island entrepreneur who brought his business empire home last year is challenging Canada’s smallest province to shake off oil addiction and kiss pesticides good-bye.
Jason Aspin told the recent annual awards banquet of the Eastern P.E.I. chamber of commerce the province should set a vision — and a target date — to harness alternate energy systems, switch to 100 per cent organic farming and create a sound financial model for citizens.
And judging by the applause, along with social media postings, the 150 guests attending the business banquet at the Kings Playhouse were giving thumbs up.
“We’ve got resources that are invaluable like clean air, fertile ground and an ocean all around us,’’ he said. “Having spent 20 years working around the world you start to realize what we have here and we just need to dream bigger.”
Aspin is the CEO of Aspin Kemp Enterprises and moved his entire business operations last year from Ontario to Montague and Poole’s Corner creating 150 well-paying jobs.
When the graduate of Montague regional high school completed his inspiring address, master of ceremony Roger Younker joked with the guest speaker asking if he was planning to become premier.
“Part of the reason I am here and came back to live and work here is because the community cares about business,’’ he said. “We could have done our company work anywhere, but we wouldn’t have the support and the people we have working with us ... this is a spot to be creative and innovative.”
Aspin is a graduate of Canadian Coast Guard College specializing in power and integrated systems equipment for the oil and gas sector and has contracts worldwide. The company was awarded an $80-million contract last spring with General Electric’s Global Offshore and Marine division to provide switchboards, variable frequency drives, and other electrical components for drilling ships. The company is currently transporting large components from Poole’s Corner to South Korea to supply five huge drilling ships.
“I just returned from Beijing (China) and the pollution was so bad I couldn’t see across this room,’’ he said. “We’ve got amazing opportunities here and we need to focus on that.”
The banquet drew business leaders throughout the region along with Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis, the three Conservative leadership candidates, and a number of MLAs, mayor and village chairs.
P.E.I. may lack oil and gas, but Aspin said that sector is slowly phasing out.
“The oil and gas sector has been great for us, but it’s in the twilight and the world will face tough problems that will require innovation. The places that have oil and gas aren’t going to lead those innovations ... it’s the places that don’t have oil and gas that will.”
Aspin said there is energy “all around us” and North America has simply become “lazy” and dependent on oil transfusions.
“We know we have oceans full of water with rising temperatures ... and if we could lower that temperature by a single degree we would create energy for a thousand years,’’ he told the crowd. “But finding a solution to that question is the key.”
Aspin said P.E.I. should set a tangible target date to establish goals and become a leader in energy systems harnessing wind, sun and tide. He also addressed the growing provincial debt.
“If we don’t manage to do a successful financial model for our province, we are going to be in trouble,’’ he said. “Let’s become a jurisdictional model as well ... we have a unique chance to do that. Instead of following others, let’s take the lead.”
The Island native said P.E.I. could abandon pesticides altogether and become the first organic farming region where a bevy of new businesses would thrive.
“You don’t switch over right away, but if we push in that direction we could develop all kinds of amazing new business. And it’s not impossible for P.E.I. to become a net exporter of alternate energy.”
Aspin said there is no silver bullet to such visions, especially with a government system that can change direction every four years. He said the province needs to establish a long term non-political policy that focuses on knowledge and education and a policy that develops entrepreneurs like the Island’s farmers and fishermen.
“We have our own jurisdiction here, our own province, and we need to pick some goals ... these are just some that I am passionate about,’’ he said.
“If we could be energy independent by a certain date or become the world’s first million acre organic farm ... these are big goals, but they can be done. We need to have a vision and become the best at something.”
To conclude his chamber address, Aspin pulled a legendary quote attributed to American inventor Thomas Edison in 1931.
“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around the house for fuel when we should use nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. I’ll put my money on sun and solar energy for power ... and hope we don’t have to wait until the oil and coal runs out before we tap it.”
Yes. Thank you, Jason. Please keep talking, like so many others are.
Andrew Lush gives a concise summary of the Don't Frack PEI annual general meeting which was held Monday night (another night of blowing snow):
Jim Emberger gave a hugely informative talk at the first AGM of Don’t Frack PEI. With facts and figures from the industry, government bodies, and scientists, Mr. Emberger comprehensively overturned the myths that fracking is safe, is good for job creation, and is a revenue generator. Extremely worrying health effects, no plan for the disposal of millions of gallons of waste, and massive damage to existing industries were part of his message, which was honed in New Brunswick during their recent and ongoing fight against fracking.
The slideshow for the presentation can be found here: http://dontfrackpei.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Jim-Emberger-Presentation.pdf
and the AGM minutes can be found here http://dontfrackpei.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015-AGM-Minutes-Dont-Frack-PEI.pdf
And with the Adrok team up at the North Shore, and no fracking ban from our current government, Don't Frack PEI and all Islanders need to stay on top of this.
Jules Pretty is a British author and biologist, and writes in today's Global Chorus essay:
"A shift to a green economy is inevitable. It is a simply a question of whether it occurs before or after the world becomes locked into severe climate change and other harm to Nature. On the assumption that before is preferable, then we need commitments by affluent countries to reduce their material consumption by a factor of ten; and commitments by all countries to invest in displacement technologies that improve natural capital whilst providing the necessary services to improve human well-being." --Jules Pretty
more on him at:
The movie Dirt! was postponed due to the weather last night and will be rescheduled.
Tonight, Green Party Provincial Campaign Kick-off, 7-10:30 PM, with the official announcement of the District 17 (Kellys Cross-Cumberland) candidate and Green Party PEI leader Peter Bevan-Baker, and opening of its election headquarters, at the Bites Cafe at 19566 TCH in Hampton, west of Bonshaw and DeSable. People are welcome to drop in anytime.
February 25, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Last year, in early March to be exact, there was a little media flurry about the opening of an office for the Scottish company Adrok, which promised to do exploration for resources (careful not to say "oil and gas" too often) in an "eco-friendly" way.
March 10th, 2014
bold is mine
Adrok Moves Head Office to Charlottetown - CBC News article
An innovative geophysical survey company is moving its North American head office to Charlottetown.
Adrok is based in Edinburgh, U.K., and has developed a technology to search for underground minerals, gas and oil without drilling.
Alan Goodwin, vice-president of operations, said the sophisticated scanner sends electromagnetic beams four kilometres into the ground to locate mineral and energy deposits. "They have some successes. The first one was 2007 where they found gas in Morocco and that was successfully drilled,” he said. “They've had successes in the coal fields with a big company called Teck Resources.”
It's opening its North American headquarters on P.E.I. with the help of a $212,000 labour rebate and rental incentive. The company expects to employ six people.
The technology uniquely requires no expensive seismic testing or drilling exploratory wells. "One of the key advantages of our techniques is that it's low powered and very environmentally friendly. The only footprint we leave behind is our boot footprint." Gordon Stove, managing director.
Innovation Minister Alan Roach said Adrok could search for oil and gas on P.E.I.
“I don’t think that was our intent in bringing the company here and their decision to come here, but certainly Minister [Wes] Sheridan will be interested in what this company has to offer,” he said.
Stove, whose father Colin Stove founded the company and created the technology, said it was the beginning for Adrok.
“This is going to be the gateway to Canada and North America for us. So if there’s anybody looking to explore for oil, gas or minerals, we’re happy to help them,” he said.
Adrok has been working in Canada since 2011.
And from The Guardian around the same time:
Province commits up to $212,000 to bring company to Prince Edward Island - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
Published on March 10th, 2014
Adrok Limited to be based in Charlottetown and create six jobs for geophysics and field technicians
A Scottish company with technology that can find underground minerals and energy resources has decided to make Prince Edward Island its Canadian home. Adrok uses electromagnetic beams to penetrate rock, seawater and earth in order to survey for natural resources. This patented technology offers companies the ability to search for oil, gas and minerals without the damaging effects of exploratory drilling.
On Monday, Adrok announced it has chosen P.E.I. as its Canadian base of operations. “We were in Alberta last week and there were a lot of eyebrows raised when we said we were based in P.E.I. because they all thought they’ve got the oil so we should be there, but actually the province of P.E.I. has got everything we need to grow as a company,” said Alan Goodwin, vice-president of operations for Adrok.
“We’ve had lots of support, the people here have been fantastic in terms of setting up our economic plans and our financial plans, so that’s been very supportive,” said managing director and co-founder Gordon Stove.
The provincial government has committed $11,000 as part of a rental incentive together with a labour rebate that could reach $201,000 if the company reaches its target of hiring six Island employees by the end of 2015.
Innovation Minister Allen Roach said the province is excited by the work that Adrok performs and was only too happy to help the company set up shop in Charlottetown. “We see that there’s great opportunity for that type of business here in North America,” Roach said. “They’ve proven their product in other countries around the world. They came to Canada, they looked at various locations, they chose to come to Prince Edward Island and we’re extremely pleased with that.”
Adrok will provide a base to service existing clients in the region as well as developing business within Canada’s booming mineral exploration industry.The new base will create six jobs for geophysics and field technicians who will gather and analyze data on site before sending it back to the company’s Edinburgh headquarters for further analysis.
There will also be a sales and marketing function in order to build a client base in the region.
Stove said his company’s low-power multi-frequency radio wave technology allows it to probe subsurface areas offers prospective developers the ability to identify lucrative underground or underwater resources in more environmentally sensitive way.
It also costs significantly less than normal drilling costs for test wells.
Adrok’s decision to base its headquarters in the province was not necessarily linked to a desire for oil or gas surveying in Prince Edward Island.
But Stove did say the company would be willing to do some exploratory work here.
“We plan to develop our offshore capability here in the Maritimes. In the east coast of Canada there’s great opportunities to find more sources of energy,” Stove said.
“I think certainly that Minister Sheridan will be interested in what this company has to offer, and if we do look for things in P.E.I. then we have the company here,” Roach added.
Adrok conducted its first commercial exploration in 2007 in Morocco and has since used its patented technology to assist energy and mineral exploration in the North Sea, Europe, North America, Australia and Asia.
Back to this week: Exploration for oil and gas in a eco-friendly way is an oxymoron. Anyway, an intrepid Islander was at the north shore, along Gulf Shore National Park, Monday and took photos of a small 2-people dome tent with the tea-trolley-looking equipment in it. Apparently they are testing under Covehead Bay. Perhaps one of the media people could follow-up on this.
photos from an Islander's public Facebook site, Monday, February 23rd, 2015
And a news story not covered on any major news media so far, about a train derailment in southern West Virginia on Monday, February 16th, with over a dozen tankers and a home on fire, and another tanker into the Kanawha River. This is from that other The Guardian:
"The office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, which has issued a state of emergency, said the tanker cars were loaded with Bakken crude from North Dakota and headed to Yorktown, Virginia. Local emergency officials said all but two of the 109 cars being hauled were tanker cars."
Today's Global Chorus is the soberly written essay by David L. Arnold, of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. He writes about how humans need to grow as fast as our technology in being able to empathize and really understand other people:
"Our only how is to recognize our own biologically based biased, identify them when they occur, and consciously work to fight against them. Only then will be able to recognize that any advance life forms and the environment that sustains them, is a part of all of us. In other words, to ensure our survival, we must ensure the survival of all others." -- David Arnold
David Arnold is the author of recent book on the salmon fishery in southern Alaska entitled: The Fishermen's Frontier
Tonight, the movie "Dirt" at 7PM, Farm Centre, admission by donation.
"DIRT! The Movie tells the story of Earth’s most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility. This insightful and timely film tells the story of the glorious and unappreciated material beneath our feet."
and next week:
Workshop on Alternative Food Marketing, Tuesday, March 3rd, 1-4PM, Farm Centre
from their Facebook event page
The PEI Food Security Network would like for you to join us for a workshop on "Alternative Food Marketing: Encouraging Local Health Institutions to Buy Local Food". A special-for-PEI video presentation on local procurement will be presented by Toronto-based Wayne Roberts, a food policy analyst, with local-food expert Lori Stahlbrand.
Pre-registration required by: February 25, 2015 **note: this registration date was changed to Friday, February 27th**
To register: email or phone email@example.com or 902-894-4573
Organized and hosted by the PEI FSN Sustainable Production and Distribution Working Group
Contact: Marie Burge 902-894-4573
From Mitch MacKinnon's sister, regarding the recent unexpected death of Mitch MacKinnon:
To all friends and relatives of Mitch , there will be a visitation service at Belvedere Funeral Home in Charlottetown on Wednesday February 25th between 4pm and 6pm. Following the visitation we except to gather at a favourite pub of Mitch's to celebrate his life and will post those details later today.
Let's hope the snow forecast for this afternoon is very brief.
February 23, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
To see some very good sportmanship and talent -- this week is the PEI 55+ Games being held in the Charlottetown area.
PEI 55+ Games details:
Wade MacLauchlan will be sworn in at 11AM this morning and announce his Cabinet. There will be coverage on local media websites (CBC and The Guardian).
I think Richard Raiswell will have a political commentary this afternoon after 4PM on Mainstreet CBC Radio.
Don't Frack PEI AGM, 7PM, Murphy Centre, guest speaker Jim Emberger, spokesperson for New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
Film on Wild Child-Sierra Club Project, 7PM, Farm Centre.
More details on events here:
Christine McEntee "is Executive Director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a worldwide scientific community that advances the understanding of Earth and space through cooperation in research." --from the AGU's website:
Her background is in health administration, and she writes about moving forward to tackle climate change, using information from Earth and space scientists, but involving
"a joint commitment from the scientific community, business and industry, community leaders and government and NGOs, working together to make a long-term, sustainable impact."--Christine McEntee for February 23rd in Global Chorus
One phrase we hear often from politicians and others regarding the high capacity well issue, the concerns about the safety of certain chemicals, and about things like Climate Change, is that "We have to trust the science."
Yet, there are distressing examples of needing to examine the source of the science, and where the scientists are getting their research money:
Tyrone Hayes, an American toxicologist, discussed having his research paid for by Monsanto during many of his early years (while he was a young researcher at University of California - Berkeley), and having to sign statements that Monsanto owned the research and could decide what would be published (if ever).
Scientists are supposed to disclose any ties or conflicts on their publications, but this always doesn't happen.
Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher - The New York Times article by Justin Gillis and John Schwartz
Published on February 21st, 2015
For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity.
One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, know as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun's energy can largely explain recent global warming. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming.
But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon's work has been tied to to funding he received from corporate interests.
He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.
The rest of the article is here:
"The Science" is only as good as the questions it asks, how it went about to answer them, and how the study was funded.
Some very sad news for many of us who opposed Plan B and were on the campsite by the highway project, as word of the unexpected death of Mitch MacKinnon reached us yesterday. Mitch was there with with his beloved dog Bailey, helping provide a presence of commitment, and always just being a fantastic, funny, giving guy. My condolences to his siblings, and to all of us who loved his company around the campfire and in the time since.
February 22, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Unless you were snowshoeing, at your local library at a Seedy Saturday gathering or a book-signing, advance polling for the Tories' leadership, or engaged in a respectful discussion about pesticide use in Poole's Corner, you may have attended or watched the Liberal convention happening at the Convention Centre yesterday afternoon.
The full text of Premier-designate Wade MacLauchlan's speech is here: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/media/flying/1168/WadePEI_Feb21.pdf and the media coverage focused on lots of smiles and hugs, and about how there are few specifics in what Mr. MacLauchlan said. He did say a couple of things that were mentioned by a few of us from the Citizens' Alliance board when we met with him last week; either he is listening or he *is* aware of concerns Islanders have. These concerns include that we (our government on behalf of and including our citizens) need to acknowledge climate change factually and make decisions with it in mind; we need to encourage migration to PEI from other provinces (and thinker Rob Patterson gets the credit for pointing that out to many of us), and we need to make government as open as possible. There will be more to come, I hope.
CBC and The Guardian' websites have lots of stories and images, if you are looking for a way to spend some time indoors.
Regarding the federal government and Bill C-51 before Parliament now, NDP leader Tom Mulcair had an interview on CBC Radio's "The House" yesterday,
and this opinion piece by Don Martin on CTV's website was also very interesting.
Defiant stand could become Mulcair's defining moment - CTV News Website article by Don Martin
Published on Thursday, February 19th, 2015
Stephen Harper’s signature bills always look their best at first blush.
Only when devilish details are exposed and word meanings put under a microscope is there the flutter of red flags over proposed legislation.
So, at first blush, Tom Mulcair appears to have done considerable damage to NDP hopes of preserving even Official Opposition status in the electoral showdown to come. He has unleashed a barrage of fear and loathing at the government’s new anti-terrorism bill, insisting it would end up with spies lurking behind every grassy knoll.
Trouble is, terrorist events around the world have added favorable optics to the urgency of this legislation. The polls have gone hot on Harper as a result. And the Liberals have caved to public opinion, signing on as Tory tagalongs even before the bill was released.Anti (sic)
Mulcair, for a while anyway, looked to be an island of legislative defiance surrounded by a sea of indifference to the jihadist threat looming on the horizon.
But now he has prestigious company in the worrywart category. Four Prime Ministers, backed by former justice ministers, Supreme Court justices and privacy commissioners, are piling on to demand closer supervision of Canada’s spy agencies.
Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/ctv-news-channel/power-play-with-don-martin/defiant-stand-could-become-mulcair-s-defining-moment-1.2244322#ixzz3SRTcalg8
Today's Global Chorus is by world traveller and entrepreneur Quinn Vandenburg.
He is with a group called Life Out of the Box, which works on educational ventures with innovative ways of funding. One type of project that the group does is sell t-shirts and other things made well and fairly in certain regions like Central America, and the proceeds go toward particular projects.
"My experience of living in poverty here has led me to believe that solutions can be made and change can occur on all levels in humanity through education."-- Quinn Vandenburg
Some events coming up this week:
Today, Bonshaw Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, featuring many local players and special guests, including Emerald Junction (but would be postponed if weather deteriorates -- see Facebook or Citizens' Alliance events calender for updates), admission by donation:
A series of webinars tonight and tomorrow on farming by farmer Joel Salatin explaining his methods (cost to join, must travel to Kensington) more details here:
Monday, February 23rd, Don't Frack PEI AGM, 7PM, Murphy Centre. Jim Emberger, working against shale gas in New Brunswick, will be the guest speaker. Talking about Blue Dot PEI, too.
(Tuesday must be for community schools....)
Wednesday, February 25th, Movie: Dirt, 7PM, Farm Centre:
Thursday, February 26th, Green Party PEI Opening of party headquarters, with leader Peter Bevan-Baker, starting at 7PM, Hampton at Bites Cafe.https://www.facebook.com/events/810144295706245/
Lecture on Samuel Holland's map of P.E.I. Holland College, 7PM.
Friday, February 27th, Wild Child Fundraiser, various activities, starting at 5PM, Farm Centre.
February 21, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A few video links from ECOPEI related to their AGM Thursday:
This is the link for the Island-made documentary Fishtales, about the health of Island rivers, 25 minutes long:
And here is the two-minute promotion for the Restore-An-Acre program:
and more background on it, from ECOPEI's excellent, informative website:
Events today include a Seedy Saturday(2PM) at the Confederation Centre Public Library,
the Pesticide Free PEI forum (2PM) in Poole's Corner at Red's Corner (many corners and one roundabout....),
CBC on-line will have live-streaming of the Liberal leadership convention (and then radio and TV coverage of the speeches and lots of commentary by MP Sean Casey and journalism instructor Rick MacLean), and
it's the last advance poll for the PC leadership race.
In recent weeks, there have been letters to the editor and a column by Allan Rankin in The Graphic commenting that a Premier is only as good as the integrity and skill of the close (unelected) people he surrounds himself with. Yesterday, news reported that Robert Vessey, Minister of Transportation since Fall of 2011 election, and MLA from District 9 (York-Oyster Bed Bridge), is resigning his seat to become leader-designate Wade MacLauchlan's chief-of-staff. When he became TIR minister, shuffled from Tourism, Minister Vessey was immediately tasked with public consultations for the original three Atlantic Gateway projects, which then morphed into Plan B, the "done deal."
I have been asked to pass on this survey from the Green Party of PEI regarding your priorities -- it's pretty short, if you want to look at it today or a storm day tomorrow (I may have sent it around once already)
The NDP has been announcing candidates, the latest being watershed manager Karalee McAskill for Distrist 10 -- Charlottetown-Sherwood.
Romeo Dalliare is today's Global Chorus essayist, and writes that the "border-less" youth are who is going to get things done:
"They are going to move the yardsticks of humanity towards its objective of serenity and communion with the planet by shoving older generations into a web coalesced by social media. The generation without borders grasps the concept of the totality of humanity, it lives with the notion that borders are not limits to their potential to affect the environment, they are comfortable in global concepts such as human rights, and they thrive in seeking more and more information on all things." -- Romeo Dallaire
February 20, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
from Cindy Richards social media posting, last night:
To all those who couldn't make ECO-PEI's AGM, you certainly missed a wonderful event, it was fun and inspiring! The business meeting was quick, effectual and painless! The film Fishtales a must watch! A creative compilation of Island talents combining passion and reason, set to the backdrop of our beautiful island is inspiring.
Great presentations on important issues Islanders are facing were made like : CETA, food security, fishkills, the "Water Act" and wells, the threat of drilling in the gulf .... Of course linking these all together was another excellent presentation made by Jamie Simpson and that is our inherit right to a healthy environment, to breath clean air, drink clean water, and healthy food. The importance of seeing these inherit rights made legal so we have a tool to protect them, laws which will defend and promote that which most consider essential and most valuable to life our health.
More about the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island here:
And kudos to the Board of ECOPEI for all their planning and work for this event and all they do all year long.
The David Suzuki Foundation people sent us a few photos of when David Suzuki was here in September with the PEI stop on the Blue Dot Tour. Lovely to be reminded of the sun and warmth.
photo from September 29, 2014, North Shore, PEI, taken by Karl Hengst (Ithink)
Saturday has a something for everyone:
Liberal leadership convention, starting at 1PM, Convention Centre. Live coverage on CBC. Tonight is a tribute to outgoing Premier Robert Ghiz. Today's Guardian has a goodby letter from the current Premier on the op-ed page.
Seedy Saturday (seed swap), 2-4PM, Confederation Centre Public Library.
from their description: There will be plenty of seed from the Seed Library to go around, and as well, if you have saved or leftover seed, please bring some in to share! We will have seed envelopes on site so people can package their own from the donations brought in.
It's a good time, a great time to chat with other gardeners and think about the growing season!
We could use some volunteers to help set up and take down, so if you are able to help out, please send me an email (josie Baker <firstname.lastname@example.org> ) Also, the Seed event that had been scheduled for Sunday in Breadalbane has been postponed.
Pesticide Free PEI forum in Poole's Corner, 2-4PM, Red's restaurant, near Montague. Margie Loo, Bill Whelan and Alan Hicken will speak. More info:
In Global Chorus today, Chuck Leavell, a Southern U.S. musician (who tours with the Rolling Stones and played with just about everyone) and dedicated tree-planter, has a short essay calling on us to make decisions with common sense and the future in mind, and ends with one clear line:
"One thing is certain: doing nothing is not an option." -- Chuck Leavell
More info on the writer:
February 19, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Let's hope the forecast holds and the small amount of snow won't interfere with the ECOPEI annual general meeting, tonight at 6:30PM at Beaconsfield Carriage House. I think there should be parking at the government lot a few minutes' walk away.
The AGM starts with a short business meeting, mostly updates of various interesting committees, and the they will show FishTales, and then the discussion on the Right to a Healthy Environmental, with East Coast Environmental Law executive director Jamie Simpson. All welcome, and you do not have to be a member to attend.
Don Mazer from ECOPEI and working on the Blue Dot PEI movement will be on CBC Radio very soon, about 6:45AM, this morning. Joining him in the interview is Jamie Simpson.
A person can still go off the road, even a $25 million road.....
photo of car from Tuesday
from Wednesday, February 17th, 2015. Photo looking west towards Churchill over Plan B highway, Hemlock Grove at bottom of the hill, with a car off the road on the right. screenshot from CBC website, photo by Tracy Lightfoot, CBC.
Two men from PEI are trucking their motorcycles to Texas, then embarking on a voyage down to Central America and back. One is Walter Wilkins, who is one of the smartest, most thoughtful people on this Island. Walter has extended an invitation to all who wish to tune into a blog of their travels, which is here:
And on Saturday, February 21st, 2-4PM:
Finally, the Global Chorus essay is written by Jonathon Porrit, a prolific writer about the future, ways of the future, and our expectations.
"Technology isn’t the problem. Politics, money and power are the problem. Which is why the
technovangelists do us such a disservice, fixated as they are by big technologies like nuclear and GM that leave untouched the bigger systemic problems of which they themselves are such a problematic part.
"We can only harness the benign power of potential technology breakthroughs if our systems of governance and accountability are hale and hearty at every level in society. And they’re not." -- Jonathon Porrit
He is part of Forum of the Future, and recently wrote a hopeful book about the future call The World We Made.
about Jonathon Porrit:
and his own blog:
February 18, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The snow is still causing life to be a bit different from normal here - -plows and snowblowers have had a real time of it and have broken down along a couple of the roads in my area. Those operators are doing great work under really tough conditions. Huge thanks to them all.
Today's Global Chorus is short and to the point, from journalist Amanda Lindhout. She was a reporter free-lancing in Africa in 2008 when she was kidnapped for over a year in Somalia. Part of processing her horrible experience resulted in the forming the Global Enrichment Foundation, which promotes peace and education endeavors in third world countries. She writes:
"The sharing of struggles and success that is born from this interconnectedness will, over time, unite us." -- Amanda Lindhout
The PC party leadership hopefuls are continuing their campaigns as the days draw closer to February 28th. There will be an advance poll this weekend.
More information here:
Some of us do a double-take when we see perfectly rationale provincial PC leadership candidates listening and thinking about the future of our island, and then see them smiling and appearing all cozy with the Conservative MP for Egmont. She used to be fiercely independent and open-minded; now appears to be more of an acolyte.
An interesting opinion piece:
The State Gets More Intrusive, Again - The Globe and Mail article by Lawrence Martin
Published on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015, Special to The Globe and Mail
With the government’s new anti-terror legislation, C-51, the state gets bigger. Again. And more intrusive. Again.
A case can be made for more intelligence-gathering capacity. The legislation does that, allowing for enhanced spying and incarceration powers. But as many have noted, there is no corresponding increase in oversight capacities to ensure that the loosely defined new powers aren’t abused.
These powers enlarge already expanded authorizations from Bill C-13, passed in December. It allows open season for authorities to monitor online activities. Telecoms cannot be sued for disclosing your messaging, which they are doing in great volume to government agencies.
It’s another example of government growth and overreach. Conservatives are supposed to stand for small government, but our executive branch’s tentacles are everywhere. We now have arguably the biggest, most overbearing government in our country’s history. In fiscal terms, government’s size has been reduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which Conservatives can well applaud, but in other domains, it is a leviathan.
Pierre Trudeau’s government was a big spender and domineering – War Measures Act, anyone? – in many ways. But Mr. Trudeau expanded Canadians’ liberties with his landmark Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The story of Mr. Harper’s Conservatives, by contrast, is one of reducing rights and freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly – Ottawa is drawing up an inventory of protesters – and any other number of liberties.
A healthily functioning system provides effective oversight on what the ruler is doing. Here, the oversight has been overtaken by the ruler himself.
And so we see the oversight powers of the House of Commons reduced by omnibus bills, by measures to restrict debate in the increasingly dysfunctional committee process, by attempts to mislead Parliament or denying it basic information.
And so we see the traditional oversight function of the Senate hijacked by the Prime Minister’s Office, and not just in the case of the Senate expenses scandal.
And so we see the public service and the foreign service silenced like never before, their traditional role in policy development diminished.
And so we see the reduction of oversight powers of many independent agencies, such as Elections Canada. And so we see the Conservatives repeatedly trying to thwart and manipulate media access, to the point even of altering documents.
Most every Ottawa institution capable of providing checks on executive overreach has been disempowered to some degree. The exception – and it hasn’t been for the Prime Minister’s lack of trying – is the Supreme Court, which has used the Charter to thwart Mr. Harper’s hegemony.
It’s not just the accrual of powers that is oppressive. There is the unrelenting application of propaganda and intimidation.
The Conservatives’ propaganda machine is omnipresent, spending unprecedented amounts – often of taxpayers’ money – to applaud themselves and denounce opponents. At the same time, others have their free speech restricted, the limitations extending well beyond the much-publicized gagging of the science community and of Omar Khadr.
Recently, we learned that the Canada Revenue Agency even has its lenses trained on a birdwatching society, threatening it with reprisals for its environmental messaging. The Kafkaesque crackdown was triggered by a law prohibiting charities from engaging in political activities. But does anyone think the birders would face repercussions if their message were pro-pipeline?
Intimidation is the modus operandi. Well-documented are the smear campaigns and the undercover operations against opponents run out of the highest political office in the land.
If you think it’s bad now, be prepared for worse, as with the anti-terror legislation. The danger with ideological leaders of any stripe is that in the name of security, they can ramp up state authority without the usual degree of public challenge. It’s why we see Mr. Harper hyping the terror threats Canada faces, as opposed to allaying the public’s fears.
More fear means more power. He knows it well, and so should the opposition leaders. If they can’t build a strong case against this new kind of Canada, they should find another line of work.
Opinion from me:
I e-mailed my local MP, Malpeque Liberal Wayne Easter, as I was concerned about this Bill and of course the interpretations that the legislation could be used against environmental activists. He called me -- I marvel at the access we have to our elected officials -- and explained why the Liberals would be supporting the Bill, and about the amendments they are demanding, which are seldom considered in he Prime Minister's control of Parliament. He said if they go with the Bill and it passes (which it will with this false majority Parliament currently has), they did try on the record to amend it; those amendments (or reforms) will immediately become part of the Liberals' election platform. I appreciated the explanation, and note that Wayne has often spoke critically about the federal government leaders using fear as a way to control citizens. Putting politics aside, he *is* communicative with constituents.
He also doesn't say silly things that some provincial government MLAs and premier have said about wanting to make people happy, or expressing sadness at not being able to. Some of us smile wryly when we hear that -- government isn't supposed to make us happy (for happiness, I suggest the old standby, playing with puppies). We want decent, honest, thoughtful leadership and governance.
February 17, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A Dig-Out Day, as they used to say. Someone was laughing on social media that "global warming" isn't true since we are getting socked by winter weather, and here is a great article from NASA that clarifies the terminology shift:
Global warming: the increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases.
Climate change: a long-term change in the Earth’s climate, or of a region on Earth.
Within scientific journals, this is still how the two terms are used. Global warming refers to surface temperature increases, while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas amounts will affect.
The article goes on to explain which one is the more accurately-used one in media and scientific reporting now.
Cassandra PEI posted something yesterday from their perch on Facebook, -- a respectful but forceful statement:
Screenshot from CassandraPEI's facebook page, here:
Agriculture is related to this quote from Bill Mollison, the "founder of Permaculture", defining what it is:
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system."
âBill Mollison, from his publication, Introduction to Permaculture (1991)
He writes about teaching people how to teach people to grow food sustainably, to cook and preserve it, and to take care of our land and of our neighbours in today's Global Chorus essay, and also says:
"We need to promote the good in or communities, praise positive actions and outcomes and stop highlighting the negatives in society. By being mindful of how we speak and act we will build hope and provide peace for our future generations." -- Bill Mollison
Tonight -- but possibly moved -- do check Island Nature Trust's website or check here:
Island Nature Trust lecture, "Changing Wildlife Landscapes",Tuesday, February 17, 7â 8PM, Confederation Centre Public Library.
(from Island Nature Trust's newsletter) From 1600 to the present, the Island's entire landscape has changed with human land use patterns. Some wildlife species disappeared, others increased in numbers. Jackie Waddell will give a few examples of animal wildlife populations that have changed as a result of landscape changes.
Here is a recent letter with a description of the cause-and-effect in a deep water well in Kings County, by Tony Lloyd. Since my memory for terms is as porous as the sandstone, here are two definitions:
Aquitard (from Wikipedia) -- An aquitard is a zone within the earth that restricts the flow of groundwater from one aquifer to another. An aquitard can sometimes, if completely impermeable, be called an aquiclude or aquifuge. Aquitards comprise layers of either clay or non-porous rock with low hydraulic conductivity.
Alluvial (Merriam-Webster) -- geology : made up of or found in the materials that are left by the water of rivers, floods, etc.
State of P.E.I. aquifers reflected in Montague well - The Guardian Letter of the Day
Published on Saturday, February 14th, 2015
When a well is drilled a record called a drill log is kept: basically depth drilled, rock type encountered, static water level, sudden flows of water are recorded. The aquifer on P.E.I. is a multi-aquifer system as groundwater occurs in layers.
On pages 23 to 25 in 'Groundwater Hydrology and Water Supply of P.E.I.', by L. V. Brandon, Geological Survey of Canada, there is a discussion and drill log of a Montague fish plant well. When drilling begins the water level is at 22 feet from the surface. When drilling ends at 602 feet the water level is at the surface. In drilling the well, seven distinct water levels are identified. The Montague well is said to be 'typical of low ground' on P.E.I. and on page 19 is called a 'flowing well.'
The seven distinct aquifers above are a reflection of how P.E.I. was geologically formed: wave after wave of sediments deposited in layers 30, 60, even over 100 feet thick. Each layer has basically the same substructure of fine grained sandstone on top, followed by medium grained sandstone, followed by coarse grained sandstone, all consolidated into a sandstone aquitard. The bottom layer is the unconsolidated alluvial deposits which the driller sees as a relatively thin water aquifer in this multi-aquifer system.
Before the Montague well was drilled, the seven thin aquifers formed an interdependent system, the 'deeper circulation', which self regulated their separate aquifer pressures by means of exfiltration and infiltration through the thick aquitards. Some of the aquifer layers, the strong ones, would have submarine groundwater discharges, a flux of energy rich waters full of chemical nutrients, at their offshore boundaries; a true wonder of nature.
After the Montague well was drilled and the seven thin aquifers have been hydraulically short circuited by a non-porous well hole, the water mounds up near the surface and drains away. The balance of nature has been altered, destroyed. The seven aquifers no longer self regulate as water takes the path of least resistance. The offshore submarine groundwater discharge is now largely silent, static, dead.
Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart
an illustration "dug up" from University of New South Wales Website
February 16, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Islander Day, all!
Tonight, if the roads clear:
Sierra Club "Wild Child" Nature Immersion event -- film, Farm Centre, 7PM, Admission by donation.
Curt Stager, climate scientistand author, writes about the humans' effect on the planet, "the Anthropocene Epoch."
"The lastest research puts a minimum recovery time of 50,000 to 100,000 year for our heat-trapping, ocean-acidifying carbon emissions to dissipate, and any delay in switching to clean energy sources could stretch that recovery over half a million years." -- Carl Steger
a 15-minute TED Talk about the next 100,000 years:, good for a snowy day:
This link is to a beautiful letter, written as an open thank-you to all the people who worked to get fracking banned in New York State, and especially their governor, Andrew Cuomo. It's so heartfelt, and sadly reminded me that it would be similar to a letter that we would have liked to written to the retiring Premier Robert Ghiz, had he cancelled the Plan B highway project.
It is an excellent validation of how everyday citizens standing up and getting involved made the difference.
Which perhaps is what Islander Day is all about.
February 15, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A bit of a catch-all kind of posting:
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin writes the February 15th Global Chorus essay, focusing on protection our oceans. He is one of the commissioners on the Global Ocean Commission, with the goals of working to keep the oceans sustainable, to have global cooperation when governing the seas, and to stop overfishing.
"Four years ago the Financial Stability Board was created to deal with among other things the consequences of the international banking crisis. The crisis that will surely face us all unless we act to deal with the degradation of the oceans demands no less." -- Paul Martin
Cindy Richards is organizing materials related to Environmental Rights on P.E.I., and one new way (while you are inside during a storm) to see more is to go the Blue Dot PEI Facebook Group
and once the storm clears, the ECO-PEI AGM next Thursday, February 19th, 6:30-8:30PM, will focus for part of the meeting on this issue, with guest speaker Jamie Simpson, and a panel discussion right after. The AGM also has a short business meeting, and a showing of the P.E.I. documentary Fish Tales first. A great line-up.
It seems like there is a great deal of polarization between farmers and non-farmers, and with the Island media seeming to report on stories as Black vs. White, it only fuel the situation.
At the Federation of Agriculture AGM on (I think) January 30th, the media focused on sound bites like "we won't be pesticide free in my time" and "government needs to get out of farmers' way" and such; but if you heard or read more of the speeches of at least one of the PC leadership candidates you would see the whole picture is more rational, and calling for all of us to cometogether and listen and to be heard. The solutions proposed may still be "nibbling at the edges", to quote Sharon Labchuk, but they are talking.
More of Darlene Compton's speech, snippets transcribed by journalist Ian Petrie, and passed on to me by someone else, all with thanks:
"The growing divide and suspicion between urban and rural Islanders is very real.. and very dangerous for our province…. The government must speak openly and forcefully to both sides on these issues…
PEI is not going to become pesticide free… that’s an impossibility…. but that’s not to say that we can’t have regulations and practices that are the safest in the country…. Integrated pest management… the 4 R’s… right product.. right rate… right time… right place… these are all ideas developed by the agriculture industry… we need more farmers to practice them…
And think about the excellent research being done by Steve Watts…. Year after year he’s convincing more and more potato growers that they can cut back on fertilizer use…. Cut down on the risk of nitrate pollution… and still have good yields and quality…
I think government can play a more useful role with some of these changes…. Maybe bankers need to be convinced that these changes are worthwhile…. Or buyers farmers are selling to under contract… maybe crop insurance needs to take on any risk these ideas might create….
One thing government must do is ensure that all policies have a sound scientific basis… and be prepared to defend these policies with the general public….
I’m certainly prepared to listen to all sides on these important issues… and to start finding some common ground… I think we may find that there’s more that people agree on than is apparent in the media… the need for high quality water… clean rivers…. Keeping soil on fields rather than in the ditches and waterways…
for all the right reasons… farmers say.. show me something works….. and you should say that… you risk a lot of time and money every spring…. well members in the general public concerned about farming practices are saying the same thing… show me."
Lots to think about.
February 14, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Winter Woodlot Tour is today starting at 9AM at Brookvale Nordic. It's really a Winter Woods Family Day, and details are here:
The Social Justice Film Festival continues today and possibly tomorrow. There are films every two hours, admission by donation, at UPEI, McDougall Hall, Room 242. Details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1529576623977098/
Next Saturday, February 21st, Forum on Pesticides, Poole's Corner, from 2-4PM, sponsored by Pesticide Free PEI. It will feature scientist and former PEI Cancer Society president Bill Whelan, farmer Margie Loo, and former policy adviser Alan Hicken. More details to follow.
In the New Brunswick election last fall, Green Party NB leader David Coon was elected to the provincial legislature. In addition to issues like fracking, he has also brought forward many ideas, including a "Local Food Security Act." He writes:
"Studies show that by converting only $10 per week from each household currently being spent on imported foods, to New Brunswick-grown foods, the province could see over $30-million in increased revenues. A move towards local food procurement through the adoption of this Local Food Security Act is the first step in making this a reality."
Farmers' Markets are open today in Charlottetown and Summerside, and the grocery stores often label PEI or Maritime-sourced foods. Seasonality is a big deal, too, until there is more ability to freeze and store PEI's summer grown vegetables (which I think are often sold on a small scale at Riverview Country Market). (A use for the McCain plant?)
Ashish Ramgobin will always be preceded by the title of being one of Mahatma Ghandi's granddaughters, and is working on world change, with compassion, with one small grouping at a time. She writes:
"...Dealing with large concepts like sustainable development, global poverty, disease, illiteracy etc., are tasks that depersonalize the issues we face; we learn best from example, and in living our compassion we teach it also. All that the world needs to overcome the current destabilization is compassion and the will of people to change their own lives. The changes we need in industry and in government can only come from the pressure of those they depend on -- their market and their electorate. That means each of us." -- Ashish Ramgobin
February 13, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Proportional Representation (PR) webinar, sponsored by FairVote Canada, was last night and had 500 people across the country listening and joining in. A group of us watched it from a meeting room at the Haviland Club. Anita Nickerson, from FairVote, was the moderator, and explained a bit about some facts supporting the need for electoral reform.
For instance, in the 2008 federal election, the Bloc Quebecois got around a million votes and won 49 seats. The Green Party of Canada had 830,000 votes and no seats.
While smaller parties are benefited, it's not unfairly so.
There has been about 55 years of research into how it works in other countries, and it turns out it does not cause any greater number of elections in countries than in other countries. Former senator and political analysts Hugh Segal has a good article on Fairvote's website:
The panelists felt PR builds stronger connections between parties. The Conservatives are not even acknowledging this conversation, and some federal Liberals are a bit cool to the ideas. Bruce Hyer of the Green Party suggested we could reform the Senate to make it elected and make it voted by PR as soon as possible.
FairVote and LeadNow on P.E.I. are hosting a forum on the topic, set for Saturday, March 14th, 2-4PM, at the Haviland Club.
This is making some rounds on social media -- an odd YouTube of a older foreign-language comedy skit of two men apparently on a TV talk show, dubbed with new subtitles, "discussing" Ron MacKinley's retirement.
The Island Peace Committee and CUPE Global Justice, with Cinema Politica Charlottetown, present The First Annual Social Justice Film Festival at UPEI, February 13-15. All movies showing at UPEI, McDougall Hall, Room 242. Admission by donation. Parking is free evenings and weekends.
(listen to radio or check the Citizens' Alliance Clearinghouse calendar is weather cancels Sunday's shows)
Here's the schedule:
Friday, February 13th:
8:30 Shadows of Liberty
Saturday, February 14th:
1:00 The Art of Resistance
3:00 The Take
7:00 Cultures of Resistance
9:00 Myths for Profit
Sunday, February 15th:
6:00 The World According to Monsanto
8:45 The Corporation
For more information email email@example.com.
Tonight: To the Moon and Back: Valentine's Party for Singles, 7PM - onward, Haviland Club. Music, company, delicious snacks. $10, and funds raides go for development projects in Haiti.
Saturday, February 14th: Winter Woodlot Tour, rescheduled from a few weeks ago, 9AM - onward, Brookvale Nordic. Details here (with old date):
Today's Global Chorus is from Rob Hopkins, one of the founders of the Transition Network.
"I regard myself not as techno-optimist, but as a cultural optimist. I believe that people can do remarkable things when they choose. <snip> The climate crisis is so grave that the solutions proposed need to involve a deep rethink of the scale on which we do things.A decarbonsize future will inherently be more local and focused more on resilience and well-being than economic growth. While government has a key role to play in this, there is much we can do to model in practice not only that such an approach works, but that it meets our needs better than business as usual does." -- Rob Hopkins
February 12, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Progressive Conservative candidates' hall in Bloomfield is rescheduled for tonight, 7-8:30PM, St. Anthony’s Hall, Bloomfield. It is really the last one., as it was rescheduled due to weather.
Webinar on proportional representation, preceded by LeadNow and FairVote meeting, 7-9:30PM, Haviland Club, corner of Water Streets and Haviland.
If you would like to watch the webinar (8-9:30PM) from your computer, sign up for the link here:
The participants are M.P.s and democratic reform critics Scott Simms (Liberal Party), Bruce Hyer (Green Party), and Scott Sinclair (NDP), and electoral reform expert Professor Dennis Pilon.
Pulling no punches:
Government Abuses Powers? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Wednesday, February 11th, 2015, in The Guardian
Mark the weekend of February 20th as the time democracy died on Prince Edward Island and a reign of dictatorship began. A man chosen by a handful of non-elected, back-roomers. He himself non-elected, will be handed the keys to the province. Even the rank and file Liberal membership had no say.
Has no one in the Liberal party the fortitude to stand up against a handful of people who want to maintain their noses in the trough? They know by putting in power one of the ‘old boys’ he’ll continue to feed them. I cannot believe that any political pundits or media people are not screaming this is wrong.
Then again as a Liberal why make waves, sitting under the master’s table at least you might catch the odd crumb or even a bone. I urge all and any Islanders with any self-respect to rid the province of the Liberal gravy train. This present Liberal government has abused its power and put the general public into billions of dollars of debt while filling their own pockets. When is enough enough?
Prince Edward Island will soon officially become a banana republic. What is happening is not covered under our parliamentary system so why are we allowing it to happen. Speak up before all is lost.
Paul Smitz, The Island Party
Global Chorus has an essay today by Bryan Welch, who is the publisher of conscious-raising magazines such as Mother Earth News and The Utne Reader.
"I imagine a world where biological diversity is considered a fundamental asset, where an abundance of species is valued above all other ecological values and where we preserve vast swaths of natural habitat to guarantee the plentitude of life. Commerce can be motivated by social justice and environmental preservation as well as by simple value for money." -- Bryan Welch
Charles Darwin, (1809-1892), English-born naturalist, wrote On the Origin of Species that outlined how evolution functioned. He was born 216 years ago on February 12th. This quote may be a little out of its original context, but seems applicable to many things.
"It's not the strongest of the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change." -Charles Darwin
February 11, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
People's Social Forum, open to all to come and discuss issues, 6-7:30PM at the Haviland Club in Charlottetown. There is music afterwards with Jon Rehder, Bonnie LeClair and Catherine O'Brien.
More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1585990171647713/
Roundtable on Education, with Liberal leader-designate Wade MacLauchlan, 7-9PM, Our Lady of Assumption Church, Stratford.
Last night was the last of the town hall meetings for the Tory leadership hopefuls. I was unable to attend, but reports from some independent youth indicate that the candidates answered lots of questions without too much waffling. :-)
There will be extra coverage on today's CBC and in the Guardian; but having all four town hall events broadcast as webinars, or uploaded later to YouTube, would have been some ideas to engage more Islanders.
The broadcasting ideas would work for leadership debates once an election is called.
Well, this certainly explains some things:
Where Were the Brains? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Tuesday, February 10th in The Guardian
Although the record of the Ghiz government is well deserving of Islanders criticism, and was arguably one of the worst performances in recent history, there are also invisible, behind the scenes culprits.
Unless a minister is unusually strong willed and self-confident, the majority of policy decisions are put forward by advisers. Ministers are, in effect the “front persons” for government, and ultimately responsible for actions taken; however, they and the premier rely almost exclusively on the advice of others, and it seems obvious that advice provided for the past years has been less than stellar.
It seemed to me that the Ghiz government began with promise. Progressive policies were announced, only to fizzle out as time passed. I was privileged to deal with the late Rory Beck, senior adviser to Robert Ghiz, on a number of occasions, and was struck by his abilities. I found him to be highly intelligent, a man of actions, and sincerely concerned with doing the best for P.E.I. I’d suggest that for the past years many advisers and deputy ministers have brought little more than self-interest and slick talk to the cabinet table, instead of strategies and action plans for good governance. Where were the brains, the visionaries, the quality thinkers required for an enlightened government? Where are the next Rory Becks? We deserve and desire better.
Interestingly, the book chronicling the Campbell government written by our next Premier, Wade MacLauchlan describes in great detail the symbiosis between elected and non-elected officials. An enlightening and highly worthwhile read for Islanders concerned with good governance. I trust Mr. MacLauchlan is bright enough to recognize how vital it is to surround his government with quality people and take the necessary actions to ensure we are well served. Get out your broom Mr. MacLauchlan … clean house.
Dale Small, Rice Point
Joel Salatin, a farmer from Virginia, sometimes seems to be everywhere, talking about being a grass farmer and using smart low-tech pasture rotational grazing techniques. He makes money from books and webinars explaining his farming methods, and from all accounts is a clear-talking, ethical human being. He writes the February 11th Global Chorus entry, so interesting that I have copied the entire thing:
"While civilization has never tried nor thought itself more able to sever its ecological umbilical cord, never before have we had the capacity to reattach it as quickly. As a beyond-organic farmer, I believe the techno-gadgetry that is available today to massage the ecology into dramatic healing is almost miraculous. From computer microchipped solar-electric fence energizers to shuttle shift, low-profile diesel tractors with front-end loaders, ecology-enhancing food production infrastructure and techniques would make grandpa speechless with amazement.
"The local-food tsunami represents a profound culture shift as people rediscover truly community-based food systems and the delight of cultivating domestic culinary arts. The only way to thwart this movement is to continue taxing people to death so families have difficulty staying home to redirect their creativity towards building a serene home economy. In addition to taxes, the food police are systematically marginalizing, criminalizing and demonizing heritage-based production and processing systems.
"When Coca-Cola, Twinkie and Froot Loops are considered safe while raw milk, Aunt Matilda's homemade pickles and compost-grown tomatoes are labelled unsafe by the government food police, the civilization is on a collision course with its ecological umbilical cord. When the freedom of choice movement extends beyond marriage, sexual orientation and education to include food, we will unleash the entrepreneurial creativity of thousands in their kitchens and on acreages. The impediment to redirecting our U.S. ship of state is not technology, resources, people, money or spirit. The impediment is confiscatory taxes to pay for big government to extend concessions and welfare to the largest corporate players -- many with evil agendas -- in our world. As each of us refuses to patronize evil system, we inevitably create healing: of soil, nutrition, finances, emotion. We can do this." --Joel Salatin
February 10, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight is the last leadership town hall hosted by the three Progressive Conservative candidates for provincial PC leader. It's from 7-8:30PM at the APM Centre in Cornwall. Everyone is welcome.
The leadership convention for the Tories is Saturday, February 28th, at UPEI.
Today's Global Chorus write is sustainable business analyst, Tessa Tennant, who write of hope:
"We are not like the cooking frog: we aren’t falling asleep as the
water gets warmer; we are scrambling to get out of
the pot and turn off the gas. Indeed more of us are
scrambling every day and a bunch of us have even got as far as figuring out the gas controls!" -- Tessa Tennant
This website has a great deal about what she is doing:
Sorry to anyone planning to go to UPEI for the presentations by Dr. Johanna Wolfe, as they are postponed.
from a UPEI posting:
Post date: Feb 9 2015 - 11:35am
Title: Presentations by Dr. Johanna Wolf, Canada Research Chair candidate—February 9 and 10 -POSTPONED
Dr. Johanna Wolf, Associate Professor for the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University, British Columbia, is a candidate for UPEI's new Canada Research Chair in Sustainability, Resilience, and Island Contexts. Dr. Wolf will make two presentations, both of which will be open to the campus and research communities. These presentations, original scheduled for February 9 and 10, have been postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date. Watch this space for new information on new dates and times as it becomes available.
Thanks to the Jordan, who forwarded the notice yesterday.
And a letter from about a week ago that encapsulates a lot:
Personal Wish List for Three Things - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Saturday, January 31st, 2015
More and more people are acknowledging that our current situation in P.E.I. is untenable, that the large amount of chemicals being put on our soil and into our air and water is unhealthy. I wonder if we could devise a wish list for the Legislature, of the specific steps that people feel are most important.
My own personal wish list is for three things to be made illegal or severely restricted, because their use impacts my own health negatively. The three: the herbicide Roundup and its derivatives; the fungicide chlorothalonil; and any pesticide use that is so heavy it violates the World Health Organization guidelines for safety.
I would note that the restriction of the use of Round-Up would help with soil conservation, as well as improving neighborhood air quality, because the natural soil cover of grass and weeds would fill in the gaps between plants, and the natural soil biosphere would be maintained.
In addition to these top priorities, I would support any legislation that maintained the deep well irrigation moratorium, reduced irrigation overall, mandated a four-year crop rotation, or ensured that current laws protecting the environment are enforced. I would also support any incentive measure that encouraged more use of organic farming methods.
I wonder if you could publish this in the hope that others might respond with their own wish lists. There are concrete steps that can be taken to make the Island a safe and healthy place to live and work and raise children. Let's put our heads together, decide what they are, and then demand that they be taken.
Sharon Leighton, Bedeque
February 9, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A lot going on, some of it already scheduled, and some spilling over from last week.
In case you are free this morning or tomorrow afternoon, this looks open to the public and sounds very interesting:
Monday, general lecture, "Better off or Worse for Wear: Sustainability and Resilience Through Climate Adaptation", 10:30AM to 11:30AM at UPEI, Vet School, Lecture Theatre A. Description form UPEI's website of Events:
"Dr. Johanna Wolf, Associate Professor for the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University, British Columbia, is a candidate for UPEI's new Canada Research Chair in Sustainability, Resilience, and Island Contexts. Dr. Wolf will give a general presentation, entitled Better off or Worse for Wear: Sustainability and Resilience Through Climate Adaptation, which will take place on February 9, 10:30 – 11:30 am in AVC Lecture Theatre A.
A reception will follow each presentation in the McCain Foundation Learning Commons at AVC. All are welcome to attend."
Dr. Wolf is giving a more technical talk on the subject Tuesday:
Tuesday, February 10th, Technical Lecture: "Connect, Collaborate, Co-produce: Shaping Climate Change Adaptation to Foster Island Resilience and Sustainability", 2-3PM, UPEI, Vet School, Lecture Theatre A.
"Dr. Johanna Wolf, Associate Professor for the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University, British Columbia, is a candidate for UPEI's new Canada Research Chair in Sustainability, Resilience, and Island Contexts. Dr. Wolf will make a technical presentation, entitled Connect, Collaborate, Co-produce: Shaping Climate Change Adaptation to Foster Island Resilience and Sustainability, will take place on February 10, 2:00 – 3:00 pm, in AVC Lecture Theatre A. A reception will follow the presentation in the McCain Foundation Learning Commons at AVC. All are welcome to attend."
Wednesday, February 11th, People's Social Forum, 6-7:30PM, Haviland Club.
"In an effort to help unite progressive voices across Prince Edward Island, the PEI People’s Social Forum Committee are pleased to announce their first public event this Wednesday, February 11th at the Haviland Club.
The public is invited to the Haviland Club Wednesday, February 11th from 6-7:30pm. The purpose of the gathering is to officially hold initial community discussions on the critical issues, themes, and processes of the Peoples Social Forum that the public feel are important to transform PEI. Following the event, the public is invited to socialize, discuss actions and enjoy the music of Jon Rehder & guest beginning at 8pm.
We invite anyone and everyone interested in fostering critical conversation about issues and concerns which they feel are important to transform Prince Edward Island.
The first pan- Canadian Peoples Social Forum took place this past summer in Ottawa; we aim to create a similar space, with a focus on Prince Edward Island. For more information:http://www.peoplessocialforum.org/
Wednesday, Educational Roundtable with Liberal leader-designate Wade MacLauchlan, 7-9PM, Stratford Our Lady of Assumption Church. Free.
Thursday, February 12th, Special LeadNow /FairVote meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, corner of Haviland and Water Street. The first hour will be a meeting regarding activities in March, including a forum on Proportional Representation in Charlottetown; the second part will be a forum on Proportional Representation broadcast from Ottawa, with NDP, Green and Liberal Party representatives. Sounds like a very interesting evening!
Friday until Sunday, February 13th to February 15th, Social Justice Film Festival, various times, UPEI, McDougall Hall, Room 242,
Two interesting letters examining many sides of the pipeline problems:
Pipelines Source of Catastrophes - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
“When I think pipelines, I think career opportunities, economic benefits for Canada,” — Peter Watson, chairman and CEO of the National Energy Board.
When I think pipelines I think of friends standing in the front yard of the building we had lived in, in San Bruno, California, looking down the hill to where 150-foot flames were burning the city below. A city where a 50-year-old gas pipeline ruptured and exploded, turning a neighbourhood into a nightmare inferno. People died there that sunny afternoon.
When I think pipelines I think of burning forests, dead wildlife, poisoned wetlands and destroyed natural areas. I think of workers incinerated because of a company’s decision not to replace a $10 gasket on a valve, or a decision to squeeze a little more use out of components and lines already marked as damaged or defective.
When I think pipelines I think of the many hundreds of documented pipeline accidents since January 2000, in the U.S. alone. I think of the published estimates of over 250 incidents each year in North America.
When I think pipelines I think of catastrophes, abetted by corporate shills in the pockets of companies so oriented to squeezing the last dollar of profit out of everything they touch that they willingly sacrifice others’ well being and even lives.
That’s what I think.
Harold Smith, Bonshaw
Stuck with oil for Some Time - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Saturday, February 7th, 2015
Harold Smith’s letter of Wednesday Feb. 5 is certainly sobering reading in its account of pipeline catastrophes. It justifies the hesitation many people feel about building new pipelines in Canada and to the US.
However, of all the thousands of pipelines in the world, not all of them fail. I have come to the reluctant conclusion that we should have these new pipelines.
To explain, while I have many times advocated a rapid reduction in consumption of fossil fuels to help reduce climate change, I recognize that this change cannot occur as rapidly as we would like. For a start, there is as yet no alternative to jet fuel or diesel for agriculture and mining. We are stuck with oil for some time to come.
It is my belief that if our Prime Minister, and much of his government, had not been so obstructive and belligerent with the green lobby, perhaps we would now have the best and safest pipelines the world has ever seen. The consequent economic benefits would then be available to speed up the conversion to a greener energy system. It is not too fanciful to think that if Harper had sat down with President Obama and declared his intention to work with the President in having the best engineers design a state-of-the-art pipeline that had the highest possible safety features, we would now have this infrastructure, and the consequent economic benefits.
Mr. Harper is part of the old paradigm; build it fast and build it cheap, and take no notice of those who question his plans.
Look where that has got us.
Peter Noakes, Charlottetown
Peter Denton writes in the February 9th Global Chorus entry about the plain beauty and resilient of the scrub oak, and compares:
"Hope is just as resilient in the human heart as the impulse to survive is resilient in living systems. That resilience does not excuse us from doing things that deny hope any more than it excused us from actions that destroy life."-- Peter Denton
His essay is one of the few accompanied by a photo (in this case, of the tree). He writes a blog, found here, http://peterdenton.ca/
and has written a book (Gift Ecology: Reimagining a Sustainable World) about how our society has emphasized mechanism over organism.
February 8, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
An interesting Guardian guest opinion from Friday:
Harper Government Puts All Eggs in One Alberta Oil Basket - The Guardian Guest Opinion by John Shakespeare
Published on Friday, February 6th, 2015
All eggs in one basket, that’s the Harper government policy leading Canada into a resource-based ‘energy super power’ economy for the last nine years led by PM Harper, a self confessed economist. Canadians as a population are regularly advised by financial gurus to diversify … not to put all our eggs in one basket on high yield risky investments but spread our investments over low to high risk.
Over the years, until recently, Harper’s obsession with oil has been a safe bet for the oil producing provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and has brought some wealth to the country as a whole due to the swelling federal coffers and confidence in the dollar.
However, there have been disadvantages to this. The primary disadvantage concerning the Province of Ontario has been well covered in the media. Not long ago this province was the economic engine of Canada. It has been relegated to a have not province due to primarily the rise in the dollar leading to a loss of 350,000 manufacturing jobs which has been generally looked on as unfortunate but ‘what about the increase of jobs in the oil industry?’
Further, Harper has recently personally berated Premier Wynne for not getting her economy into shape. What an affront. Notwithstanding companies that have closed forever, maybe if oil prices and the dollar remain low, Ontario will have a chance of recovering somewhat, and maybe manufacturing jobs will materialize once again across Canada.
One thing that we haven’t heard too much about in the media or from the Opposition parties is the plight of the Atlantic Provinces. Jobs are scarce in this region, even in oil-rich N.L. with the unemployment rate being almost twice the national average.
Atlantic Canadians have, until now, benefited from the high price of oil by being employed in the oil patch out West particularly when the EI rules were changed helping to fill these many vacant jobs as opposed to increasing foreign workers. Without going into the new EI rules in depth, it is common knowledge that any jobs available within 100 km were to be filled, if not, EI benefits were cut off. These new rules disregard the fact that public transportation is basically non-existent in most rural areas and most available jobs are seasonal and pay minimum wage. The EI fund presently has a surplus of $3.5 billion.
Sadly, the exodus out West appears to be coming to an end due to the oil price dropping to a level that is no longer viable. If the oil price stays low for any length of time, eventually there will be many thousands of Atlantic Canadians returning home permanently. Many of these people have obtained a standard of living relative to the high Western pay packet, bolstering the local economy by purchasing houses, trucks, etc. and having money in their pockets to support many local communities. This will have come to an abrupt end. Imagine the consequences.
Canadians generally don’t hear much about this situation, particularly from the Harper government since it is all about votes and votes from the Eastern provinces by volume are not that critical. For them, it is all about Ontario and Alberta, particularly in an election year when seeking another majority.
I do believe that the national media and the Opposition parties should pick up on this very critical issue that the majority of Canadians probably don’t even realize. It is after all another result of a much touted ‘economically smart’ government putting all eggs in one basket and not diversifying relative to Canada’s unique employment situation.
- John R. Shakespeare of Summerside had a career in mechanical engineering in England and Canada before retiring in P.E.I. He and his wife are concerned for the plight of disadvantaged Atlantic Canadians in this wealthy country, and feel that an economy reliant on 'dirty oil' is not the way to go for the future of Canada.
Richard Muller is an interesting choice for a Global Chorus contributor.
He is a brilliant physicist at University of California at Berkeley,
and produced a course (and now a book) called Physics for Future Presidents, and the free lecture series is here:
About three years ago he went from being a "climate change skeptic" (some of his research was funded by money from the infamous Koch brothers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_activities_of_the_Koch_brothers#) to stating that humans are almost certainly responsible for all global warming.
He has hope in the future of the planet due to three things: the growth of human population is likely to slow down; energy efficiency is going to increase; and there are huge resources of natural gas.
(When I first read that I thought maybe I had skipped ahead to April 1st, but that's what he is saying. Fair enough, but some of us aren't ready to accept the clean and safe arguments about fracking.)
And a scrappy, three-minute critique of a marketing commercial on the safety of fracked natural gas, from a grassroots, scrappy movement called "Occupy the Hollers*":
Occupy the Hollers YouTube
screenshot from YouTube deconstructing a pro-gas commercial. *The "hollers" being the (beautiful) rural Appalachian Mountains valleys or hollows. Just a little hillier, but just as beautiful, than it is here.
February 7, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
In the past couple of weeks there has been news about fracking, with Scotland announcing it would ban fracking.
Here is an opinion piece (albeit, from an opinionated source, the No Shale Gas New Brunswick website) on why New Brunswickers should be content with their decision not to allow fracking:
And a reminder that Don't Frack PEI is hosting its AGM on Monday, February 23rd, 7PM, at Murphy Centre. From their announcement:
"Jim Emberger, spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, will be giving a talk ....Jim gave 27 talks across New Brunswick in the spring, as part of the ‘Voice of the People Tour’, and his presentation provides the facts and exposes the myths about fracking. His talk, 'The Citizens’ Guide to Shale Gas', will open our AGM."
Coming up this weekend, a wonderful group of actors from ACT (A Community Theatre) are presenting Arcadia by Tom Stoppard:
I think a Sunday evening show was added to make up for the one postponed due to snow Thursday.
I just saw this yesterday on the leadership-designate's webpage:
Hazel McCallion, a Canadian politician, was mayor of Mississauga since 1978, and the small municipality Streetville before that. She's now 93 and attended the Bold Vision Conference last Fall on P.E.I. She also writes what I think is the longest sentence in Global Chorus:
"The world has seen tremendous changes during its existence and while it is easy to adopt a pessimistic view of the world today in these times of seeming moral ambiguity, I do believe there is an appetite for a return to more traditional morals and values and that a paradigm shift is taking place with regard to a renewed consciousness which will hopefully lead the citizens of the world to the realization that despite our differences, we as human beings are called upon to assume responsibility for stewardship in terms of the preservation of life as we know it." -- Hazel McCallion
But it is a good sentence!
More on Hazel:
February 6, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today is the last day to purchase a membership in the PEI Progressive Conservative Party to be able to vote in the leadership convention on February 28th. You can use the on-line form, or fax, or in person at the office on Pond Street (around the corner from Value Village). You can find information here:
(The deadline for the Liberal Party of PEI to get a membership to vote at the convention was January 22nd.)
Tonight is the District 17 (Cumberland-Kelly's Cross) PC Party nomination, at Afton Hall, starting at 6:30PM. Randy Robar is the only candidate.
Atlantic Council of International Cooperation (ACIC) is having an Open House at Timothy's World Coffee House on University Avenue, this evening from 6-8PM. Lots of great Island organizations making a difference in the world.
Diego Pacheco from Bolivia is the Global Chorus essayist for today. He is working for biodiversity, planning for climate change, etc.
He writes about how Bolivia has changed the way they look at their relationship with Earth.
"The concept of Mother Earth is completely different than Nature because Mother Earth is a living being. In turn, Living Well stems from the vision of indigenous peoples that refers to living in balance and harmony with everybody and everything -- where the most important thing is not human beings, but life." -- Diego Pacheco
More careful description from Tony Lloyd from Mt. Stewart:
Aquifiers in Trouble Near Shore Areas - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Marion E. MacCallum’s letters entitled “Fear being raised of contamination” and “Wild cranberries thing of the past” are valuable field observations about the state of the P.E.I. aquifer and Robinson’s (Rustico) Island.
For 100 years the confined aquifers have been drilled with limited understanding from Eastern Kings to West Prince. Today, the deeper circulation, that is, the waters in the confined aquifers are largely static. It takes energy in the form of a pressure gradient (field of force) to force water through sand or sandstone (field of flow); energy is required, heat is generated.
Especially harmful are deep wells at lower elevations. We have killed any offshore submarine groundwater discharge in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait. They are dead. We are now seeing many near shore problems; the near shore is dying. P.E.I. aquifers are in deep trouble.
Immediately south of Robinson’s Island are the oyster beds in Rustico Bay; everything said about clam beds applies to oyster beds. The land between South Rustico and Cymbria has an elevation greater that 125 feet and is about three km south of the oyster beds. The land gradient gives alluvial sheet aquifers in the water table aquifer a high conductivity drive into the oyster beds where the groundwater appears as bubbling springs (sand boils) and as a diffuse discharge upwards through bottom sediments. The salt water in the bay has a weak tidal drive into the sand sediments and any diffusion of salt water downward will be offset by an upward flux of nutrient rich groundwater.
On page 31 of ‘Groundwater Hydrology and Water Supply of P.E.I.’, by L. V. Brandon, Geological Survey of Canada, well 46 ‘Rustico Island Park’ is listed as being 300 feet deep; a deep well near sea level. Could this be the singular well that has consumed the cranberry bogs? If this well still exists it should not be cemented in but reworked and instrumented and used in remediation studies. Last summer an oyster fisherman reported observing abnormal clusters of oysters; likely suspects would be submarine waterborne nitrates or pesticides?
Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart
February 5, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Craig Kielburger, a thirty-something Ontario-born children's rights advocate who co-founded two organizations (Free the Children and Me to We), writes:
"Our world is facing enormous challenges: social injustices, debilitating poverty, environmental degradation and countless armed conflicts on every scale.
We can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed, but we cannot be forgiven for inaction." --Craig Kielburger
Some background on this person who started being an advocate for children when he was 12-year old:
and the two websites mentioned in today's Global Chorus:
http://www.metowe.com/ (a "social enterprise" which donates half its profits to Free the Children)
and a recent column in The Vancouver Sun about communicating with teens via music, written by Craig and his brother Marc:
John Bennett is the national program director of the Sierra Club Canada, and sent out his "Bennett Blog" yesterday.
It starts out with:
Government members of the Federal Standing Committee on Health are using their majority to force a very quick review of the Pest Control Products Act (the law that governs the licensing of pesticides in Canada). The Act--like many laws--contains a mandatory review clause, which means the Standing Committee on Health must undertake an examination at set intervals and recommend changes to Parliament.
OK, except they just announced the review and it's only three short sessions and likely to be done before the end of the week. Sigh. Yes, this certainly looks like railroading.
If you feel compelled to comment, the above link has a button to click to (it was being wonky when I tried it out) or use this link:
Neonictinoids and bees, and certainly concerns with pesticides locally are some reasons to ask this federal standing committee to slow down and do their job properly.
The LeadNow meeting is *tonight*, 7PM, Haviland Club, Charlottetown. If it is cancelled, it will get marked that way on the Citizens' Alliance website calendar:
you may need to refresh your browser.
Monday's Guardian had this main editorial (bold is mine)
Federation Courted by Candidates - The Guardian Editorial
Published on Monday, February 2nd, 2015
Farmers receive vote of confidence from Liberal, Conservative hopefuls
Delegates attending the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture annual meeting heard some welcome comments Friday, affirming the importance of farming and decrying the growing attacks against the sector in the press and social media.
The federation had invited candidates seeking the leadership of the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties to address the meeting and all four were lavish in their praise — perhaps not necessarily seeking support for the upcoming conventions but certainly for the looming spring election campaign.
The three PC candidates were all critical of increasing regulations, barriers and red tape facing farmers and accused government of doing little to stop the growing divide and suspicions between rural and urban. Darlene Compton expressed concern about the growing influence of special interest groups who are quite happy to lay blame for any environmental issue at the doorstep of the agricultural community.
Rob Lantz singled out the Department of Environment for criticism but the candidate should tread carefully here. That department is expected to err on the side of protection for all Islanders and can’t be faulted for vigorous enforcement which will hopefully keep our air, water and soil as safe as possible for everyone.
Wade MacLauchlan said farmers are as concerned as anyone about the environment and pride themselves in being good stewards of the land.
It was interesting that there were few negative comments about the provincial Department of Agriculture. Minister George Webster, a potato farmer himself, is widely viewed as an effective minister who worked hard on behalf of the industry. Mr. Webster announced recently he wouldn’t be re-offering in the next election and the loss of the deputy premier will be a setback.
He was the target of a surprisingly bitter attack last week by Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker after Mr. Webster said things had improved for farmers under his watch.
Mr. Bevan-Baker had nothing good to say about the current state of agriculture or Mr. Webster. The facts are that beef prices for farmers have shot upward, pork prices have stabilized, potato prices are solid and total acres have increased to almost 90,000. Blueberry and soybean acreages are surging and the agricultural sector hasn’t been as healthy for some time.
Mr. Webster can’t take all the credit but he has been minister for eight years, the last three or four which have been reasonably good ones. Farm income has been a driving factor for the P.E.I. economy, a fact noted by Mr. MacLauchlan who couldn’t resist the good-natured jab that farmers are loathe to acknowledge when times are prosperous.
Mr. Bevan-Baker then expressed his displeasure at not being invited to speak at the federation meeting. A spokesman said only candidates were invited so delegates could gauge their support for agriculture. He then said the Green party had never approached the federation before formulating its farm policy. It all made for an interesting sideshow to the annual meeting.
Lest Mr. Bevan-Baker think he was singled out, NDP Leader Mike Redmond also wasn’t invited to address delegates. Mr. Redmond, a strident critic of recent fish kills, is himself now dabbling with farming in Valleyfield.
It should be noted the only fish kill reported in 2014 apparently happened when a concerned farmer tried to plant grass to enhance a buffer zone.
For Islanders with lingering concerns over wells, underground water issues or aquifers, the moratorium on deep-water wells is now in its 12th year.
The only example where deep-water wells have caused a problem has been in the Winter River area when the insatiable thirst of the City of Charlottetown has resulted in the watershed being sucked dry during recent summers.
Government also took the opportunity Friday to unveil a Farmland Financing Program, aimed to provide financing to new and expanding Island farmers. It was developed based on industry advice and could be a fitting legacy for Mr. Webster.
In Tuesday's paper, there was this fantastic letter, followed by this quizzical Editor's Note regarding the bold paragraph about wells.
Fears Increase Over Water Supply - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
The Guardian’s editorial of Feb. 2 entitled, “Federation courted by candidates” does nothing to lessen my fears; instead it increases them.
The quotation: "For Islanders with lingering concerns over wells, underground water issues or aquifers, the moratorium on deep-water wells is now in its 12th year. The only example where deep-water wells have caused a problem has been in the Winter River area when the insatiable thirst of the City of Charlottetown has resulted in the watershed being sucked dry during recent summers" points out that the only aspect of deep-water wells being considered is the volume of the water supply. If there are problems with the deepwater wells, changing the water pressure and destroying nature’s balance, they may be only starting to show up now and they may continue to worsen.
I do not know the answer as to why the wild cranberry crop has disappeared from the North Shore of the Island. I will be pleased if the answer is not that recent increases to industrial farming and the increased use of nitrogen and pesticides and the deep-water wells have not destroyed the quality of the water supply on which all life depends.
The profits made by single crop farming organizations with increased land in production and more money to the owners will be small comfort if it is discovered that the centuries of careful stewardship by generations of small mixed family farms has been destroyed by the blind pursuit of filthy lucre, and the burn out of the soil by too many pesticides, too much fertilizer, too much greed to get bigger and better faster and not enough trees, livestock and grassland. If the land itself has lost it’s organic content, no buffer zones will be wide enough to prevent the burned out soil from flowing down hill and turning our streams red with silt.
Marion E. MacCallum, Charlottetown
Editor’s Note: The second last paragraph in Monday’s editorial should have read: “One of the most recent and widely-publicized examples where deep-water wells have caused a problem has been in the Winter River area . . . etc.” There are certainly other examples of problems blamed on deepwater wells, such as a private well in the Tryon area going dry because of a nearby, deep-water well; water problems around Robinson’s Island; and areas around Cavendish Farms in New Annan affected from the large amounts of fresh water used for its processing operations, etc.
The Guardian editor retracted the high capacity well paragraph (perhaps the editor picked up his copy and said, "Oops! Didn't mean to use that one!"). It changed the tone a little bit, certainly.
Perhaps the editors could work on their tone for other parts:
...the presumption that farm receipts are the only measure of success in agriculture overlooks many important factors.
...the marginalization of the third parties through patronizing language ("surprisingly bitter attack...expressed his displeasure...Lest Mr. Bevan-Baker think he was singled out..." "Mike Redmond...dabbling in farming...")
or have mentioned the lack of acknowledgement by any Liberal or Tory candidate when speaking to farmers about the future and climate change effects.
I could go on, but there are more pleasant things to do :-)
February 4, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Events on today:
Lunch and Learn what Wade MacLauchlan thinks about farming and agriculture, taking place at noon at the Holiday Inn in Charlottetown. One is supposed to be registered for a space at the brown bag lunch; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP.
Tonight, you can go to Slemon Park for 7PM to participate in a roundtable about "Enhancing Democracy and Increasing Public Dialogue" with the leader-designate. There was likely an ad in yesterday's paper, which may or may not have been delivered yesterday due to the weather, and the notice is only on Mr. MacLauchlan's website now buried in the twitter feed below pictures of current MLAs all sitting on stage with newly nominated current MLA Kathleen Casey:
a screenshot from Mr. MacLauchlan's twitter feed, of a February 2nd, 2015, nomination, with lots of current Liberal cabinet ministers all in a row. from: http://wadepei.ca/
It's a little ironic that it's hard to find out about an event to increase public dialogue.
Just across the way in Summerside, at Credit Union Place, the PC will have their third of four leadership debates at the same time. They were in Bloomfield last night, I think. the final one is Tuesday, February 10th, at APM Centre in Cornwall, the only one for the Charlottetown/Queens County region.
Thursday if you are in District 17, the Liberal MLA nomination, at Afton Hall.
Some alternatives to the status quo:
The LeadNow /FairVote meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, Charlottetown, to discuss the many ways to improve our democracy and how to be involved.
The Weather Network reported yesterday that about 40 million litres of crude oil that hadn't been accounted for after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been identified around a huge section of the gulf floor.
Some alternatives to the status quo:
Frances Beineke is the writer for today's Global Chorus essay.
She recently finished her term at president of the National Resources Defense Council.
from their website:
Frances Beinecke is the former president of NRDC, a leading nonprofit environmental group that works to preserve clean air and water, protect people’s health, preserve wild landscapes, and foster vibrant and sustainable communities. Using legal and scientific expertise, NRDC creates and enforces the laws that protect our environment.
Under Ms. Beinecke’s leadership, NRDC focused on finding solutions to some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time, including establishing a clean energy future that curbs climate change, reviving the world's oceans, defending endangered wildlife and wild places, protecting our health by preventing pollution, fostering sustainable communities, and ensuring safe and sufficient water.
"We have seen, in our lifetime, the kind of change that is possible when people rally around a common belief that, together, we can build a more hopeful future. We can build entire new industries borne of human innovation, creativity and vision. We can put people to work today in the careers of tomorrow, building the next generation of energy efficient homes, cars and workplaces. And we can lay the groundwork for human progress and change by investing in wind, solar and other sources of clean, sustainable, renewable power. We have it within us to do this, not overnight, but over time. We owe our children that much. And the time to begin is now." -- Frances Beinecke
February 3, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Mr. Watson, the CEO of the National Energy Board, has cancelled his trip to P.E.I. scheduled for today, due to the weather. He said he may try to come back in the spring. Here is the announcement regarding the breakfast at the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce:
Yesterday's Guardian lead editorial was ludicrous, but I will have to define that better another day.
Here is an interesting letter from Lloyd Kerry:
Deal with issue; not stand in rain - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published Monday, February 2nd, 2015
I’m sure the headline story in today’s Guardian (“The Red Rain dance”) will raise a few eyebrows, and not just those of regular Islanders but farmers and government officials alike. It’s high time the issue of soil erosion and, in particular, soil runoff into Island streams and rivers was dealt with and former conservation officer John Clements seems like the logical person to sound the alarm. He wants the present 15-metre buffer zones increased to 30 metres. Some even suggest increasing it to 40 metres.
I have to disagree with one point, however. The articles states “Clements says the creation of 30-metre buffer zones will cost (it’s a lot of acreage that government will have to buy).” Why would the government have to buy it? Being a good steward of their land is the responsibility of the farmer, not the taxpayer. If it costs the farmer money to protect the soil and our waterways and he passes that cost on to consumers, so be it.
Last fall, a retired potato farmer was fined in connection with a 2012 fish kill in western P.E.I. Around the same time, it was announced the Ghiz government was teaming up with Cavendish Farms to buy potato land in the same area to take it out of production to the tune of $250,000. How much of that came out of the taxpayer’s pocket? If this is the same farm, it’s not much of a penalty, is it?
It’s time the next government deal with this issue in a serious way instead of standing in the pouring rain and saying “Gee, it’s really coming down, isn’t it?”
Lloyd Kerry, Charlottetown
A few uses of technology to stay on top of what's going on federally and provincially:
Federally, you can get a daily digest of what your MP said in the House of Commons that day. Go to this link:
Click on your MP or the one you want to follow, and on the left on their page is a link to check to be sent an e-mail of their transcripts on days they speak.
The Open Parliament website is good to spend some time on, too, on a snow day.
The local media has two interactive pre-election information "tools". There is a slightly clunky map of P.E.I. from The Guardian website here:
showing districts and who is running.
And a table form here, though it only shows the Liberals and Tories, until you scroll the other two parties in to view.
Ervin Laszlo, an 82 year old Hungarian philosopher, theorist, and classical pianist,
writes in today's Global Chorus. It is pretty heavy but hopeful stuff:
"...The new world calls for new thinking because we cannot build a new world on an old foundation. The new world calls for new thinking because, as Einstein said, we cannot solve today's problems with the same kind of thinking that gave rise to them....
"Start thinking in these terms yourself, because you yourself need to be the "dhift" that you want to see in the world -- that shift that we are all want to see -- because we all need it, so as to allow the new world to rise, as a phoenix, from the ashes of the old." -- Ervin Laszlo
February 2, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The weather may mess up a week already tightly scheduled with informative sessions.
Tuesday, February 3rd:
Bloomfield PC Leadership Town Hall, 7PM, St. Anthony's Hall in Bloomfield.
Nature PEI monthly meeting, with guest speaker Dr. David Cairns talking about eels, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Charlottetown.
Wednesday, February 4th:
The "Lunch and Learn" about agriculture and farming on P.E.I. with Liberal leader-designate Wade MacLauchlan, sponsored by the PEI Institute of Agrologists, at noon at the Holiday Inn. It's free (but there is no free lunch -- it's brown bag) and you have to write <email@example.com> to register.
The Summerside area is hosting two different evening events:
The PC Leadership Town Hall is at 7PM, Credit Union Place. (The last one will be on Tuesday, February 10th, at APM Centre in Cornwall.)
Wade MacLauchlan is hosting a Roundtable on "Enhancing Democracy and Increasing Public Dialogue", 7-9PM, Slemon Park Conference Centre.
screenshot from Wade MacLauchlan's website.
It's a rather ridiculous situation of so much political discourse being crammed into a short, stormy winter season, caused by Premier Ghiz's retirement planning decision.
Here is a bit more on the pipelines, and why the CEO of the National Energy Board is making stops in Atlantic Canada this week (the two on Tuesday may get changed due to the predicted weather):
This is regarding the "Energy East Pipeline", with more info from the Council of Canadians here:
and on pipelines in general:
To quote an Islander:
"Energy East would be biggest pipeline in North America and National Energy Board - there is no place for community voices or climate impacts in NEB's approval process - you can send a message newly appointed NEB Chair Peter Watson on this page - and he plans to come to PEI on Tuesday
-There are links to sources of information on:
Mr. Watson is appearing at a breakfast Tuesday morning at the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce, which is open to non-members (registration and prices listed on link)
and in the afternoon at a free public session at UPEI at 2:30PM, Main Building, Room 117.
Global Chorus features a sweet essay by Lama Surya Das, written by the 65-year old American man (originally named Jeffery Miller) who became a Buddhist and later a Lama, after being profoundly affected by a friend's death in the Kent State Shootings in May of 1970. (Students were protesting President Richard Nixon's surge in the Vietnam War, when National Guardsmen fired and killed four students at the northeast Ohio university.)
More on the Lama here:
(Talking about depressing news reports)
"Yet whenever I meet and look into the eyes of young people, I feel an irrational surge of hope and gratification.....how very capable they are of stepping outside the box for reactive and new solutions. Just look at recent technological innovations which have wrought tremendous social and economic changes! Also, the younger coming generations seem to have realized that it is necessary to be doing things together in order to accomplish much of anything." -- Lama Surya Das
And that's the way many of us feel, when we see the enthusiastic young Community Supported Agriculture farmers, the people at Food Exchange PEI, ECOPEI, in the political party process, performing on various stages...
February 1, 2015
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The following is a longish article, but very enlightening, saying a lot about the chemical industry in the U.S.A., and of how young scientists are drawn into the machine of promoting more and more chemical agriculture.
It is with Dr. Tyrone Hayes, one of the scientists interviewed in Last Call at the Oasis movie, and focuses on his research into the herbicide Atrazine's effects on animals.
(Atrazine is a herbicide, used to kill "broadleaf weeds" -- so, not narrow stuff like grass and corn -- in crops and lawns and golf courses. It is not used nearly as much on P.E.I. as in the corn belt of the U.S.)
It sounds like it was banned in Europe, but that's not to say what replaced it is "safer," he also comments.
Anyway, the article is also worth reading for his stance on GMOs towards the end of the interview: they are harmful if for no other reasons than they make farmers buy seed and pesticide from the same company, and are causing an increase in pesticide use.
This wonderful letter by Tony Lloyd is not really skimmable, but worth understanding each line.
Dying bogs, beds signs of holocaust - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Thursday, January 29th, 2015
After Malcolm Pitre gave his talk about the October 2014 anoxic events on the Montrose River and offered photographic and depleted oxygen levels as proof, a woman in the audience commented that cranberry bogs and clam beds are in decline or have disappeared in West Prince.
A river watershed is a water drainage system and consists of surface streams and subsurface streams. The water table aquifer forms the subsurface stream, an underground river, which flows slowly downhill, driven by gravity. Some of the underground river surfaces as springs and bubbling springs, as well as a diffuse discharge through the river, estuary, and sand sediments in which the clams live. The temperature of the underground water is about 8 degrees Celsius and this cools the clams in the summer and warms the clams in the winter. Additional to climate regulation, the underground water carries trace nutrients to the clams and clam metabolic waste products out of the clam bed.
The above-ground river and the underground river share two properties: (1) they both flow downhill towards the ocean under the force of gravity and (2) they both have bottoms.
The bottom of the underground river is exfiltration of waters upward from the confined aquifer which lies below the water table aquifer. When wells are drilled into the confined aquifer its pressure is decreased and at higher elevations exfiltration becomes infiltration; effectively the bottom of the underground river is removed, hence the water in the underground river no longer flows laterally downhill but has a downward component into the confined aquifer, hence the diffuse discharge upwards through the clam bed is reduced, hence the clam bed will be warmer in the summer and colder in the winter; unintended consequences of drilling into confined aquifers with consequences to all aquatic life in the clam bed.
How is that an aquifer, estuaries, cranberry bogs and clam beds, perfected by 300 million years of evolution, have come to such an unsustainable state in such a short time? I see before me nothing less than an environmental holocaust.
Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart
A bit of the media coverage of Friday's Federation of Agriculture's AGM focused on the invited leadership candidates (three PC, one Liberal) commenting on the need for the industrial methods of agriculture, too much hassle from government and conservation enforcement people, and too much unbridled social media commentary from non-farmers. It was a bit dismaying, as it is easy to polarize with language, and not nice for *anyone* to raise oneself up by putting someone else down.
To this situation (and many others) , one could apply this excerpt from today's Global Chorus contributor, Charles Eisenstein, as he changes the lens on how we focus the discussion:
"Let's not delude ourselves: according to what we commonly understand to be realistic, the situation is hopeless. To remedy the afflictions of our planet -- climate change, tree die-offs, nuclear waste, marine collapse, violence, intolerance, inequality -- would require a miracle. It just isn't realistic to expect change of the necessary magnitude any time soon.
"That doesn't mean the situation is hopeless. It means we cannot be too realistic. You see what we take to be real, practical and possible is far too narrow. It is based on the world-story that has long carried industrial civilization, and which is quickly unravelling today.
"It is a story of separation: individuals separated from each other, humanity separated from Nature, self separated from world. It casts us into an inanimate universe in which the qualities of self -- intelligence, purpose, intentionality, consciousness -- are the province of human beings alone. In such a world, humanity's destiny is to triumph over the hostile or inanimate Other through the exercise of force, measurement, planning and control. <snip>
"In the new story, we know that everything in the world mirrors something in ourselves, and that therefore even the smallest actions can have vast consequences.<snip>"
So we all need to discuss these issues with very open minds and respect for the others' circumstances.
Today: Roy Johnstone plays fiddle with the PEI Symphony Orchestra today at 2:30PM, Zion Presbyterian Church, corner of Prince and Grafton. General Seating, tickets at the door, $44 adults, $40 seniors, $15 students
Tuesday, February 3rd: Public talk on "In the Eye of the Storm: Pipelines and the National Energy Board" by National Energy Board chairman and CEO Peter Watson, 2:30PM, UPEI, Main Building, Room 117. He is on an extended trip through the Maritimes (and the country) to talk about pipeline safety and the Board's role. There has been very little consultation about the Energy East and other pipeline projects.